hope & courage

Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and rest in safety.
Job 11:18

One thing I’m learning in the season I find myself in right now, is that hope must be fostered in our hearts. We have to work to see it and believe that it is real. While Christ offers us hope, it’s up to us to not only accept it but to be hopeful.

It takes energy, intention, focus, and a deliberateness that is truly difficult when nothing in your circumstances brightly shines with even the slightest glimmer of hope. I’ve had to look soley to Christ for hope and peace, energy and determination, and the desire to want what he has for me. I literally wrestle with wanting what I want. Wanting to do things my way. But, I feel God in the stillness of the hard places. I’ve quit saying, “I can’t deal with this…” and “I can’t live like this….”. I was shown that it was more of an unwillingness that the inability to do it. I realized that I couldn’t keep doing it how I had been. The Lord has been wrestling with me….. literally dealing with the unrest of my heart.I can feel it. I can feel how he’s maturing and preparing me to do this well and do it in a way that glorifies Him in my home.

The this looks different every moment. One moment, it could be just remaining peaceful in the middle of a frustrating moment when the probability of me losing my entire shit is high, it could be remaining silent when all I want to do it talk or scream, it could be apologizing when I’d rather swallow rusty nails, or giving another chance after giving the 700th undeserved chance.

All of that can be done for the glory of God. It’s not costing my life, it’s not making me look weak, but what it could do is save my marriage and create a place where redemption and restoration are possible. It definitely would be showing the love of God, it would be turning away wrath, it would be pace changing.

Practicing Godly living and responding fosters that hope. I can be hopeful as I depend on God to do all that he has called me to be. Because at that very moment, my hope isn’t going beyond what I need in that moment. I’m hopeful about responding well, I’m hopeful about silence. Some days that’s all I have, honestly. Overall, my goal isn’t to grow hope in a particular thing – my goal is to grow hope in the Lord and for his desires for my life.

If I can find hope, I can do the hardest of things. I can endure, persevere, and do so well because I can see something greater than what it in front of me. Hope pushes you. Hope strengthens you. Hope gives you the ability to move when your mind is telling you its not possible.

Inactivity is impossible where there is hope. When you hope, you do…. you try. And, you can do this.. whatever it is for however long – the hope and strength needed to get through anything comes from Christ. Ask Him for what you need and allow him to give it to you. Hide behind his wings, rest in his presence, and let the Lord fight your battles. Speak when he says speak, act when he says act. Be kind, gentle at the right times, assertive at the right times & in the right ways, be soft and be hard when its right. Apologize when you offend and when you are wrong and let the Lord work.

This isn’t about avenging your offenses and hurts, it’s about doing the right thing and honoring God because THAT causes change. Grace and love changes people….. not anger, arguing, and force never caused authentic change for any real length of time.

This is hard, but we can do it through Christ who gives us strength.

Selah.

Post Jam: Lift Me Up, The Afters

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I’m a big girl, mom!

um……….. Who told you to “big girl”?!

 (Excuse the curls….Natural hair probs!)

Who told these people to grow teeth and crawl? Who told them to pull up and talk all day?

 Who told you that playing on your  knees was a good idea?!

 Who are you people?!

 Time has flown too fast in the last couple of months and I literally can’t handle it all.
I love who Logan & Rhyann are becoming… I love their personalities.

I’m crying and just oozing love all over these babies.

8 months. Eight. eight, eight.

 I’ve mommied for eight months now and the joys of motherhood grow exponentially with each day, week, and month.

I have no idea why I was blessed with such amazing gifts but I sure am happy God chose me to guide and teach them. Happy really is forever and ever and ever grateful!

I don’t know how I’m going to take the last quarter of their first year. I’m going to be a complete puddle of mommy feels.

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marriage. redemption. hope.

FullSizeRenderY’all when I say I’m tired. I really mean I’m whooped. I really mean that I have a ton and a half of things to get done and I can barely function. I mean that my ability to feel is at an all time low and smiles are rare. I mean that I’m emotionally exhausted, physically exhausted. I’m seriously only getting by with a whole lot of screamed and whispered prayers and the belief that Jesus knows that I know his promises to me won’t fail even when I disobey and suck at responding in the right way. That when I don’t have the energy to pray or to speak or to function the Holy Spirit is doing all the work for me.

My girls are a banging 8 months on Tuesday and they are rocking right along. I’ll spare the details of all the fun stuff they’re doing until I post about their 8th month but know that I don’t have the energy to care that my kids aren’t reading or know body parts or signing the three words I’ve been working on for 8 months (well, I am a bit salty about that one) because I mean, they’re 8 months. I’m trying to keep them as little as I can for as long as I can. But, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and look at the droolly, chubby goodness of my 6 month olds.

IMG_3656We took family pictures a couple of months ago for the girls 6 months photos. It was supposed to be their photoshoot alone but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get pictures of us all during such a sweet time. So, just about everything went wrong but I think everything also came out perfect. They were miserably hot the whole time and barely smiled. At least I’ll never forget their annoyed faces. Awesome. :) 

The photoshoot was a bit awkward because Thomas and I have been walking through what can only be described as the fiery pit of hell for the last year and a half. I’ve been fighting for my family like mad but things don’t always work out the way we want them to. For a moment, I looked at these pictures and saw evidence of reconciliation and redemption. Of  hard work paying off. Of all the weight and stress being worth the new found habit of grinding my teeth and functioning pretty much as a single parent. Worth enduring and the persevering the ugly, painful, and humiliating.IMG_3641
It’s swallowing the yuck and waking up ready to dig your heels in and work not knowing what the day will bring. It’s not understanding the chaos that’s happening around you but still needing to function for yourself and your kids. Still needing to work and friend and mama and sister and be wholly present in every role that you play without allowing the heart hurts of life to distract you or cause you to be anything other than what God calls you to be everyday – a peaceful, joyful, kind, loving, and nice. Besides, being nasty never made any situation easier to deal with.

“I’m too busy to worry about this….” – how I learned to let go. Thankfully. Because I was. And, I still am. While a marriage should be the one thing in your life that gets the largest percentage of your energy and efforts, for me it was very much like tossing out buckets of water while holes were being drilled at the bottom of the boat. That I had no time for. I was busy being productive…. I could and did accept a lot for a long time, but with accepting came a lot of worry, frustration, disappointment, sadness and everything negative that prevented me from showing up when I needed to.IMG_3634-2But, it’s a marriage. It’s a commitment. It’s a union of two very imperfect, sinful people who are trying to get it right. Two people who desperately need the Lord. Two people that have quirks and wants and feels and habits and dark places that they don’t always understand. Two people who have hurt and are hurt. Two people who have to practice patience, forgiveness, living with understanding, respecting, honoring, and selflessness. Two people who own fault and responsibility for every step of this life we have together – the good and the bad.

The real deal is that happiness isn’t always found where it “should” be found and it doesn’t look the same to everyone. Finding & holding onto it doesn’t always happen as smoothly and seamlessly as you think it might, like you dream it would. Especially if you’re a hopeless romantic and watch Disney movies your whole life.

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But, then reality kicks in and even movies like Dear John, The Notebook, and The Vow disappoint you when you finally come to accept that the characters are real people living out fake lives of fake people. (Although The Vow was based on a real life couple and I will forever believe Noah really does exist.)….. life doesn’t happen like that all the time. And, if it does, when redemption actually occurs and a couple is able to come back together and make things “right”….. it takes a lot more time, effort, and forgiveness than a 180 minute movie can show. It requires a lot more work that the producers are willing to reveal. And, commitment to a person who is literally making you want to peel the top layer of your skin off is never going to be enough. Ever. You’ve got to a have a resolve and commitment to something greater that helps you to get through the muck – whatever your muck looks like, you can get through it. But, never on your own, never without a world/life view that requires more of you than pleasing yourself. It’s just a matter of want to and a game plan. Toss in a couple of kids and priorities shift is even greater. My goals weren’t so much my happiness for it’s own sake, but my sanity so that I could mother well with self control, integrity, peace and joy. So learning how to do that in the midst of insane chaos has been difficult but so good at the same time. Of course I wanted (and still want) my family to be intact but intact/miserable/dysfunctional/stressful didn’t look as attractive as co-parenting/peace/joy/security.

Right now, after a lot of counseling. Some time a part. A lot of exposing. A lot of struggling. A lot of growth. A lot of pure crap….. I’m still working. and, really hoping that this time will be the last time we have such a hellacious year. IMG_3602-2-Edit

At the end of the day, life happens and things fall a part no matter how great our efforts are – we (as people) are selfish sinners. I still believe that all things work together for good… I still believe that God has this epic plan for our lives that will bring him so much glory…. I believe that the Lord wants for us, expects for us to be light, and peace, and salt, and joy in the darkest, most chaotic, the nasty, and hateful parts of our lives and the lives of others around us. We can do it. We can do it because he offers it to us – it’s simply a matter of us reaching out and taking what is offered to us by Christ himself. We aren’t all taught how to be peaceful in chaos, but we can learn. We can learn to be givers, we can learn to be thoughtful, we can learn how to do what’s necessary in order to live a God honoring life. Not knowing how to do something should never stop us from putting in the effort to do better.IMG_3666

As with newborns, there’s no New Owner’s Manual when you marry and have to learn to live with your mate. Just as you have to learn to adjust to parenthood, understanding your child, and figuring out life with a new little life, you have to do the same with your spouse. Learning as you go gives you the opportunity to strengthen your relationship with both your spouse and God, so…..it’s beneficial in the end.

The rough part about marriage is that people change over time and they don’t always communicate these changes well or even understand them. Our sinful nature can take root and guide us down paths we never intended to go. And, it’s scary – for both sides. I believe the general assumption is that we’ll all grow and mature and move forward in life.. when you’re married, the hope is that you move forward in the same direction and at the same pace. The assumption and hope is for peace and love and happily ever after; understanding that it takes more work for some than others, we don’t compare yards but do what we have to do in order for our yard to be at it’s best. That we want our yard to be at it’s best. Assumption. IMG_3631-2

The truth is that relationships requires a vulnerability, honesty, and transparency that can be difficult to accomplish when there’s personal confusion and chaos, when personal demons show up. When we aren’t comfortable and confident within ourselves. But, it can be. And, regardless of what happens, I believe that, too. It’s more of an issue of willingness than ability. Be willing. Be willing to work hard and be peaceful. Be willing to trust God with it all and stand in his shadow as he works things out. Even when there are days that I know we both are still here because its easier, God’s grace covers us. We are always covered and that grace has kept us…. even through the pits of hell.

What Thomas and I have realized is that we friend really well… a lot better than we husband and wife. I’m hoping that we can learn to find some sort of balance so that we can husband & wife just as well. But, until then……. we work and work and work.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know thatthe testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4

And, because it’s important, you can find the girl’s outfit here:
Crowns: Love Crush Bowtique
Onesies: Lola and Darla
Moccasins: Potato Feet
(mama made the tutus… sorry! lol)
Both my skirt and top came from Dao Chloe Dao!!

And, Christin Armstrong (@christinshootspeople). Always.

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