it’s all for his glory

One of the most beautiful things about the love of Christ is how he transforms our lives.
It’s beautiful how he will literally breathe life into a broken, dead situation.
How he puts joy and songs of praise in our hearts in the midst of and after great loss.
We value and celebrate that growth… count on it and expect it.
….. while at the same time, we’re ashamed of the need to grow.

WHY?

I have to admit that when my girls received the Most Improved award at their end of the year program last year, I was embarrassed. Even though I knew they’d matured so much over the year, knew that there was no doubt that they’d grown, and truly improved in so many areas from not losing their shit during drop off to potty training to using more words…. they blossomed! But, what I wanted was for them to be the best from the beginning. The foolish and judgmental stigma of “most improved” that I had was that they literally sucked and they’ve gotten better……… as if growth wasn’t something to be proud of, that it should be expected, and that it should be a goal to attain. Truth is, I was very proud of how they matured, I just didn’t “like” that they received an award for it. So silly.  Their hard work should be been celebrated instead of something to be ashamed of. Lord knows if it was up to me to get them potty trained, they’d still be in diapers. lol. Their teachers for the past two years have been incredible and I’m truly grateful for the leaps and bounds they’ve accomplished since they’ve started their preschool program.

How is my perfectionism and shame of their growth teaching them?
Is it pushing them to cover their struggles?
Am I teaching them to be insecure about their weaknesses?
Or that I will only be proud of them if they are “there” instead of celebrating them and enjoying the journey of becoming?
lol… I am more ashamed of myself and what my actions (even though I never told them or showed them how I felt) communicated than their growth. Clearly it revealed multiple areas I needed to grow in.

A friend of mine recently posted about the beauty of golf courses and how, in all of their well thought out beauty, they are man made. That space, those acres of plush grass, sand dunes, lakes, trees, and pathways, was not natural. But, the awe we feel doesn’t decrease and we don’t look down on them because they needed work.

But, we do this to ourselves daily. Or….. I know I can beat myself up about not having a certain trait or not quite yet getting control over that flaw not realizing that growing into that trait and becoming better over time is still something to be grateful for.

The disappointment, frustration,  or shame comes from comparison…. from looking at another person and thinking that the way the Lord naturally created someone makes them better than how he naturally created us. It minimizes the sin issues they have (whether you’re aware of them or not) and maximizes ours. It compares what could be the later chapter in their book to the earlier chapters in ours that are still being written. It ignores how the Lord is molding, shaping, improving, and creating you to be.

Lord knows there are days I wish the issues and flaws that I have didn’t exist…… that I could have come into this world as the person I’d like to be. But, that’s boring. That doesn’t tell a story of how great our God is and how he truly works things out for our good. Beauty is beauty…. formed by the words of our God or thought up in the imaginations and created with the gifts that the Lord has given us. It’s all from him. All for his glory. All of it tells of how the natural things the Lord created come together to honor him.

It’s the same. 

Over the last few years, I’ve learned how important it is to not allow a flaw to cause us shame. That sin issue may truly be a hard one to swallow, it may seem worse than any other, and it may have caused you some serious consequences and broken relationships….. But, guess what? When Christ died on the cross, he gave you victory over that sin. He forgave you of that sin. He gave you access to a relationship with a God who wants you to get that Most Improved award and tell you “Good job, my good and faithful servant!” when he greets you in heaven. He gave, he gave, he gave…. so that he could take away the hard and ugly and (again) give you something beautiful in return. A life free of guilt, a life full of hope, of salvation, of opportunity, or wisdom, and growth. He gives you a story your life will tell that will cause everyone around you to see that something about you different and wonder how it was possible.

And, you get to say “Jesus”.

Remember when I would post songs that I had on repeat?? Let’s bring that back!
Hillsong United – So Will I (100 Billion X)

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loving fearlessly

29 weeks there. Picture on the left taken on Sunday, picture on the right taken on Saturday. Proof that angles + color choices matter. (& no I have no issues with my size. Just pointing out the obvious!)

30 weeks here. I could literally be pregnant forever. I honestly can’t wait to snuggle her chocolate cheeks, but am not quite ready to wrangle 3. I’ve heard that after 2, adding more isn’t really a big deal. I also heard that year 3 was worse than 2, but that hasn’t held true at all. So, so much for that.

At 30w, I’m feeling good, looking good, & enjoying this pregnancy. Still avoiding the issues I had during my pregnancy with the twins, thankfully. Pregnancy absent of swelling, major inconsistence, pain, sugar cravings, & exhaustion has made this pregnancy a lot easier. I’m taking my supplements daily + am so thankful! I did have some minor swelling a couple of days last week, but I was also on my feet a lot more and hadn’t drank as much water as I usually do. But, compared to the girls’, this is incredible.

There is a quote that says “Relationships teach us how to love & love better.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 teaches us that: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails……..”

Loving that way is the only way relationships are maintained…….. even while creating + maintaining boundaries. A relationship between two people who are constantly sinning towards each other by intentionally or unintentionally offending is hard. And, can easily get to the point of unbearable.

Over the past few days I’ve been hurt-ing out of exhaustion. Being tired mentally + emotionally…. tired of carrying all the things. The load gets heavy & those silent tears fall on the days you just can’t & your baby sees you + says “Mama, you cying? You ok? I wipe it.” Which put the biggest smile on my face + at the same time reminded me that all the things I’m carrying just or not, right or not is for them. Doesn’t make it easier, don’t make the load lighter but it gives a little bit of perspective. Also the fact that Jesus is not only watching & my struggles matter to him, but he is walking with me, strengthening me, & offering to carry my load.

It also reminds me that so much of who these girls are & will be comes from lessons that are caught and not nearly as much as are taught. They mimic my facial expressions (Lord help them), they repeat the most random things you say, they imitate how I worship in the car, they know how to do so much because they watch what it constantly done in front of them on a day to day basis. For much of their lives, they have been visual learners and they’re little copy cats. They copy each other & they absolutely copy their mama + their daddy. (Lawd help! Lol)

Over the weekend, the Lord dropped a thought in my lap that I had to deal with. This thought made me recognize that yes, while relationships are naturally hard because we are sinners, they’re made to harder because we do not (ahem, I do not) copy our Father.

The thought:If two people claim to love the same God, why can’t they get along?

How is it that we can love & worship & desire to be like a God of unity & reconciliation who is patient, enduring, forgiving, gracious, kind, fiercely protective of us, always encouraging, always giving second chances, always has a posture of ‘come on back’, who never leaves us, & whose presence brings out more of his qualities in us………. but constantly be at odds? Why aren’t we copying our father?

Now, understand that I’m a firm believer in boundaries & maintaining mentally, physically, & emotionally safe spaces. So, aside from the extremes………….. why?

I don’t know what the actual answer is. lol. As I believe that our answers vary because we all struggle with different things. I believe that a person can exacerbate & trigger certain behaviors, while others can much more easily handle those same issues that won’t cause as much friction.

But, at the end of the day, our selfishness, our desire to have our own way, our fear & disbelief that the Lord really won’t win the battles of spiritual warfare, our hardened hearts, our unforgiveness, our arrogance, refusal to grow & mature, to listen, to change, to give up ground, to be considerate………. the waiting game of “you go first”, being tired of….., always having to be right, not doing our parts, not operating in our roles, not turning away from sin, & not being loving or respectful kills opportunity for unity exist. Kills the desire to be one. Totally disrupts the healing + reconciliation process. Relationships are hard.

… and then we hurt. And, we heal. We learn. We grow. We become better. But, because we are sinners engaging with other sinners, the threat of brokenness and hurt is always present. And, where there is a threat there is fear.

1John 4:7-21 is hard to swallow.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19We love because he first loved us. 20Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.21And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Thankfully we serve a God who is who + what he says he is. He is love. He is the perfect example of 1 Corinthians. He is that example moment by moment and if we are truly abiding in him, how he is showing us to treat others should be caught, right? He is the example of patience and endurance – we see it in our own lives. His love for us is faithful and never fails. That kind of love takes on a lot, it keeps giving, it keeps holding on, it closes its eyes and takes a deep breath & says “Okay. That wasn’t it. Try again.” It doesn’t wear thin or roll its eyes. And, God says if you don’t (vs can’t!) love like that, you cannot love me. But, if you love me, you can absolutely love that hardhead, selfish, stubborn, never wrong, petty, struggling with all the issues, and can’t get right person over there…………… because I loved you & you’ve been and are that, too. With a perfect love. That constantly welcomes you back. Constantly forgives everything everytime. The best part? HE is the reason our relationship with him is in tact, yet WE are constantly offending & sinning against him. ugh. Eye roll.

He expects us to catch these lessons. To learn when we are taught, when we read, when study. He expects us to look like him. To sound like him. To do what he does. To be his copy cats. To be salt & light, not only in the world but in our relationships with each other as Christians. To cover a multitude of sins. We should be different. Our relationships should have more depth, greater longevity, more joy, more compassion. They should be safe places. Each of them. Not just the ones that are easy. Not the one that we will have when the right person “who gets us” comes along. Not the relationship that will work out when they get themselves together………… When we have the posture of Christ that says “You mess up, I’m here. You get it right, I’m here. I will make sure our relationship remains in tact…. and, if you choose to go, you are free to go. But if you ever want to come back, I am here with open arms, ready to reconcile & continue to love.” I believe that’s what made the prodigal son so thankful. He realized that he could return & that he would be met with Love. (And, I’m sure boundaries & natural consequences – I mean….. no more inheritance. Ouch.)

I had to take a break from the conviction of all I just wrote….. lawd. They’re cute, right?!

I do not relate like that at all. It’s become more and more difficult for me to love in that way over the past few years, but that doesn’t change the standard, expectation, or truth. I’d dare to say it’s a faith issue, believing that God will work it all out for my good when I am so vulnerable. goaling to be a woman worth copying, one my girls want & strive to be like.

These girls are my joy and I’m so thankful the Lord blessed me with them. They are so happy and love so well. But, I truly want them to love each other (& their sisters) like Christ loves them as they go through life. And, I want them to relate well. To be encouragers + to see the best in each other and others. So I have to give them something to copy. Not only when it’s easy, but especially when it’s hard.

Heavy thoughts.

Deep conviction.

Lots of work.

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..the best

We’re bumping right along, knocking on 3rd trimester’s door……….

Completely shocked. Unprepared. Confused. Startled.
Yet……
Full of anticipation. Excited. Impatient.

I’m literally flooded with disbelief that in a few short months, there will be another little person in our world, in our home, & who we are completely taken by and wrapped around her tiny, little finger. Even if we aren’t ready for her! LOL! Not sure if this is a third child thing or vet mama move, but the poor child has nothing but a onesie + a pair of pants……. and, a sista ain’t worried! Lol. We have a pack and play + stroller, so aside from a couple other needs – there’s nothing to worry about, right?! I can’t believe the time has flown by so quickly. It almost feels unreal that “the time” has nearly snuck up on us the way it has.

Thankfully, I’m feeling so good and doing pretty well.

And, if you know me, you know what I’m attributing that to! Plant based supplements, y’all. Small differences a couple times a day that have kept me from swelling like I did during my first pregnancy… my blood pressure is perfect… I’ve only gained 12 lbs and my days aren’t colored with “pleasure” eating or cravings! I drink my water. Eat my fruit. Have 3 meals a day. I may have a cupcake or something sweet once a week. There have been times I was eating out multiple times a week due to poor meal planning or rushing in the morning, but overall….. we’re doing well! I’m not crunchy, don’t eat majority organic, or anything like that – I just understand that eating well, drinking water, and balancing my body is incredibly important and I prioritize it! …and, the baby is growing super well and is incredibly active!! … but, not gonna lie. Mama isn’t. We haven’t seen the inside of a gym since I was a couple months pregnant with the girls! Haven’t ran since…… they were one, maaaaybe two. But, no bets, k?! 

The girls are doing so very, very well! Growing so very fast… I’m definitely enjoying their vocab and personality burst! So much is seemingly coming out of nowhere and being able to watch it from the front row of their little lives is such a gift.

Their conversations are hilarious:
Lo: Wyann, come ‘ere…. Wyann… Whyann…
Rhyann: (with a sigh) Yes, YoYo……

There’s a lot of:
“Like this… like this, Wyann!!”
“oh! Did you hear dat?”
“I want yogurt!”
“I tickle you!!”
“Wyann… Wyann… where are you?”
“I want lisstick” (with a pucker)

Lots of singing. Lots of fighting. Lots of hugging and playing so very well together. Lots of bedtime struggles and dressing a still sleeping babe because they played and chatted way into the night…. or until Logan falls asleep!

Me: “Rhyann, why are you out of bed?”
Rhyann: “YoYo is seeping.”
Me: “Okay, but why aren’t you in your room??”
Rhy: (90% of the time a “look” and hands slapped on her thighs “YoYo seeping!!”
***Then she cimbs in my bed and knocks out 3 minutes later***

I still cannot believe I’m about to be a mama of three little girls. Sometimes that thought thrills me, other times it is pretty daunting. The realities + uncertainties of life can be hard…. even after struggling with termination and believing I made the right choice, I still wonder what the heck this life is going to look like….. While having no idea what I’d be doing right now if I wasn’t pregnant. lol. Would I be this motivated? Would I be this trusting of an unknown plan? Would the things that are happening for writing and  speaking opportunities be present?

Isn’t that funny.. that the very things you never thought you wanted could be the very things you need?
I can’t imagine.

but… but… but……. what I do know  and rest on is that God is so good. Good in a never makes a mistake, never stops loving us, never is impatient, never wants to throw in the towel kind of good. Nothing slips through the cracks, nothing is missed. Nothing. So, he can be trusted. And, because he can be fully and completely trusted, I don’t need to be afraid or worried. I just need to snuggle up really close to him, abide in him, and listen. Listen to his whispers, to the nudges I get, and obey. I’ve been really focused on doing what the Holy Spirit whispers for me to.. acting on those “ideas”, those urges, and the best things have come out of them. Whether it’s immediately saving time or being able to help someone – I see the goodness and benefit of following closely behind our God and doing my best to be flexible enough, teachable enough to become the woman he had in mind when he imagined and formed me in my mama’s belly.

Praise the Lord; Praise God our Savior!
For each day he carries us in his arms. 
Psalm 68:19 (NLT)

Praise the Lord; Praise God our savior!
who daily bears our burdens!
Psalm 68:19 (NIV)


***** I mean… they’re both good… how do you choose just one?! ****

Of course I goal to be the best mama to these girls that I could ever be. The best listener. The most patient. The most timely and organized. The best homemaker. The best cook and snack preparer. The best braider and outfit coordinator……..

But, I know I will [ahem, do] fail daily. I know that the “best” is only the one who operates in their strengths, respects their weaknesses, asks for forgiveness, snuggles well, gives full attention, shares lisstick, and kisses + hugs often.

The best I can be isn’t perfect…
It’s loving. kind. affirming. silly. patient.
It’s present.

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