… the source

One thing I absolutely love to do is sit with the Lord. I love reading my Bible, I love pulling scriptures that settle my soul or ignite worship. I love reading stories of God’s faithfulness + commitment to and Christ’s love for the “us” of old, the “us” of now, and the “us” that is waiting to come. I love that he loves us in-spite of who we are in our sinfulness, our mistakes, our brokenness & the brokenness that comes out that disrupted space.

I love that He loves me.
and, in my time with the Lord I get to revel in his focus for me, his plans for me, and stretch out in the freedom of total acceptance. 

And, for a moment, mama….
I want you to think about you, too.

…. while you consider this scripture:
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. 
Then, you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. 
Romans 15: 13

Consider that when we are feeling overwhelmed from the laundry and dishes and taxi-ing.
When the current struggles in toddlerhood (I mean, childhood in general)
seem hopeless and never ending.
When there isn’t a man, a partner, and shoulder.
Or when the shoulder is struggling itself.
Or just being annoying.
When that something you’re dealing with is too much.

Trust that we have a hope. Then anchor yourself to it.
A source that deeply desires to fill us completely to overflowing.
The visual I get is a child planning to pour their own juice or milk.
They are excitedly anticipating  pouring their own juice from a heavy, full container.
And, if your kids are like mine, a little isn’t enough. That cup has to be full.
They are so confident and proud of carrying that container to the table (or spot on the floor, let’s be real) where they have strategically placed that small cup and begin to pour.
…. to overflowing.

Remember how God so beautifully gives us living and breathing examples that show us who he is.
Like our children, He is completely and utterly excited about us.
And, he desires greatly to pour out his peace and joy into our vessels.
To overflowing.
But not because he isn’t strong enough to carry the pitcher and control the pour.
The juice spilling over that small plastic cup, spending across the table, and dripping onto the floor isn’t an accident.
Or, when that cup is at the lowest possible point – on the floor – and tips over at the weight and speed of the pour and causes the milk to spread under the table, refrigerator, and across the floor…  it didn’t happen because someone wasn’t being monitored.
It was, like my girls say, “on purpose.”

The overflow out of the cup.
The cup tipping over.
The juice spreading across the table and under the fridge.
The Chik-Fil-A lemonade wasted on the floor leaving a sticky mess
is all a very intentional act to:
1. allow us to feel (fill?) his love.
2. equip us
3. share

But, we cannot do that if we aren’t allowing ourselves to be filled and healthy.

Devotionals are incredible spaces to reflect and are an awesome tool to help you learn more about who God is. Books are my love language. They are full of wisdom, perspective, and testimony.
But, the Word of God should be our foundation, everything else a reference that supports the Word.

Fill yourself up on the Word.
Eat your dinner first. Snacks and dessert come later.
Let’s get to the know the person and not just inhale the chatter we hear others speaking.

Be well so that you can live well. Think well. Speak well. Endure well.

If you know my older two…. if you’d had the absolute pleasure of meeting them, you will immediately recognize that they are happy and joyful. Actively happy and joyful. They love each other and love the Lord.

I have been immensely blessed by a couple at my church who just have taken to my family. They spoke incredible life into me as a mother, provider, and woman for an hour after church last Sunday.

And, that conversation boiled down to this:
“Your children are as happy, beautiful, and incredible as they are because of who you are.”
Now, yes, while they all have incredibly present fathers and family who pour into them…..
Me, as their mother, impact and shape them in ways that other people do not and cannot.

And, my friends are right.
And, the same is for you mama.

What we pour into our hearts and minds is going to overflow onto your family, work space, friend spaces, and impact the stain we leave behind. Even water leaves an outline.

The impact I leave can stress me out. I can worry so much about the outcome that I’m hustling to be (read: look, sound, respond, speak, create, earn) the best and what “right” and “successful” looks like to the masses, to myself, to my children at any given point that I do not allow the Lord space to reign and work.

Wine doesn’t work hard to stain.
Chick-fil-a lemonade doesn’t try to be sticky.
It just is because of the ingredients it is made of.

Same for us.When we allow the Lord to fill us to overflowing, we become new creatures daily.
When we fill our hearts and mind with truth – in written word, music, encouragement from our people – we pour out that truth and life giving words.

And, because it’s no secret that I supplement and balancing + fueling my body has made an incredible difference in my emotional and physical health.
When we are not physically and emotionally well, we cannot be all that we are called to be.
YES. I can be loving even though I’m constipated and poop once a week.
YES! I can serve well with high blood pressure.
YES. I can be productive as I battle through exhaustion daily.
Yeeeees, I can be present and attend all the events and still snap on my kids and
have horrible mood swings.
I’m still going to heaven even when stress, anxiety, and depression are daily battles.
But, what quality of life is that?
Especially when we are called to be love.
We can’t be love and feel like crap at the same time.

Like many of you, I have to operate at a high level and under great stress daily.
There is no one at this house to shoulder a thing.
But, even if that isn’t the case, how I feel impacts my responses, my thoughts, and productivity.

I thought that the issues I was struggling with were just “a part of life as Alaina” and this is what it was.
Those issues aren’t an issue anymore. My responses aren’t the same.

And, I am the mama and woman I am because Jesus is mending + strengthening my heart
and Plexusis healing my gut and balancing my hormones.

The Lord delights in you, mama.
He wants to comfort you, encourage you.
Lift up your head and strengthen you.
He longs for time with you,
to be the source that fills you to overflowing.
For you. Just for you.
Just because he loves you so much.
Just so that you can be filled with him.
AND, so that you can be a source of love that points back to Him.

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worth the wait

One thing I look forward to everyday is opening my Facebook app and seeing a memory from years and years ago. There has been so much LIFE CHANGE that’s happened over the past FIVE years and each of the memories from the girls, Plexus events, or even photos of myself that make me so dang on proud.

We’ve been through a lot.

A couple of days ago, May 31, a memory popped up from 2016 that reminded me that five years prior I had my first fertility treatment. whoa. I remember that summer being emotionally difficult. Physically uncomfortable. Mentally draining.

Ironically, May of 2014 (3 years later), I found out I was pregnant. On my own. Post multiple failed fertility treatments and failed adoptions. Post my brokenness. Post my faith kept in the fire. Post battling darkness, disappointment, hopelessness. and, eventually choosing to give up. A couple of weeks after I resigned, my cycle was about 3-4 days late before I decided to take a pregnancy test that showed me two pink lines confirming that I was indeed pregnant.

Two life changing events that began in May. Not sure whether to run with that or just raise a brow. At minimum, it’s neat.

Here I am, eight years later the mama of three surprise babies from two unexpected pregnancies. A testament of the fact that even though my body said one thing, the Creator of all (including my malfunctioning body) moves in his ways on his timing.

His timing is perfect.
And, scary.
Uncomfortable.
A bit annoying.
And, feels very much like “last minute”.

During our infertility and adoption season, I designed and sold t-shirts and wrist bands that affirmed that our baby, our expanded family was “worth the wait“. That his timing, his plan, his glory, and our story would be worth all of the time and everything that happened between the start and a baby in our arms would be worth that child, the blessing, and the Lord’s glory.

I think back and laugh because we had NO IDEA what we would walk through by the time the babies that grew in my belly made it to our arms. None.

But, what I gained in the span of those years pre-pregnancy prepared me for what I would walk through during my pregnancy. I was insanely immature. I felt ill equipped. It felt like the same hell, but hotter.

but, still. The foundational belief was essentially that the Lord would work everything out for our good and he would get the glory in what happened in our lives.

and, he has. 

He makes all things beautiful in their own time.
He is a God of restoration and redemption.
He is a God that delights in showing us mercy.
He is a God that stores good things up for us.
He is a God who heals, brings back to life, and renews.
He is a God that is faithful, committed, patient with us.

He never fails.
He never quits.
He never gets tired.
He never stops pursuing.
He never stops forgiving.
He never stops maturing us.
He never stops drawing us to him.

Always welcomes us with open arms.
Always hears us.
Always sees us.
Always responds to us.
Always provides.
Always comforts.
Always strengthens.
Always gives us peace.
Always watches over us.
Always prepares a way for us.

He gives us beauty for ashes. Fact.
What we endure will not compare to what is waiting for us in glory. Fact.
What we endure & enjoy works together for our good. Fact.
He is always with us. Fact.

All of that is certain and so true. We can depend on it.
We can enjoy each day with peace standing on those promises
because it is written and that never changes.

But what isn’t certain is HOW we go through our circumstances and who we become as we go through them. We can fall away from Christ and choose to throw our hands up at him and all he’s doing. We can find illegitimate ways to satisfy legitimate needs and desires. We can become hopeless, develop a scarcity mindset, and lose sight of what we believe the Lord has for us and will do for us. We can allow our hearts to harden, we can become people we don’t even like when we look in the mirror.

Or, as painful as it can be, lean into the Lord and draw near to Him. Yes, the one we know can  change our circumstances just by making a mental choice and breathing. The one we feel is the source of our pain and not our comfort. The one we know can heal our bleeding hearts and restore brokenness. That one. We can trust Him. Because what we has waiting for us, is for us. We can trust Him because like a good father, he loves us too much to gives us something that isn’t ready yet or that we aren’t ready for. He loves us too much to spoil the surprise and give it to us too early. Loves others that we’re connected to and that our blessing is connected to (whether we know it or not) to act before it’s the perfect time for everyone involved.

We can trust what he’s doing. He’s reliable. He won’t let us down. He even fixes our messes and works the consequences of our sins into the “good” that will soon be ours. He loves us that much. Nothing is wasted. Nothing has to be wasted, rather.

One thing I learned to do is look for the good and spend daily time with the Lord. Those things plus developing my prayer life has been incredible. What I see the Lord doing is amazing.

I’m not going to go into the “I’m not perfect” because by now if you’re thinking or expecting anyone (including yourself) to be perfect, ….. it’s a waste.

Whatever you’re believing God for.
Whatever you’re praying for.
Whatever you’re too afraid to even ask God for, to even mention it to him.

IS WORTH THE WAIT.
WORTH YOUR TIME SPENT IN PRAYER.
WORTH YOUR TIME DEVELOPING YOURSELF.
WORTH YOUR TIME PREPARING.
WORTH YOUR TIME DREAMING.
WORTH YOUR TIME LEARNING.
WORTH YOUR TIME UNROOTING TOXICITY.
WORTH YOUR TIME LEARNING NEW HABITS.
WORTH YOUR TIME BREAKING GENERATIONAL CURSES.
WORTH YOUR TIME DEVELOPING A STRONG MINDSET.
WORTH YOUR TIME DEVELOPING YOUR FAITH.
WORTH YOUR TIME IN PURSUIT.
WORTH YOUR TIME SACRIFICING FOR.
WORTH YOUR TIME TAKING STEPS EVERY SINGLE DAY TO ONE DAY HAVE.
WORTH EVERY SINGLE TEAR.
EVERY SINGLE PRAYER.
EVERY SINGLE HOPE.
EVERY SINGLE MOMENT IMAGINING HOW FLIPPING
AMAZING IT IS GOING TO BE.

YOU ARE WORTH IT.


Moreover, let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings,
know that pressure an affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.
Roman 5:3

 

 

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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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