… thirty seven

[ t h i r t y – s e v e n ]

Before 2019 ended, the idea that my life was about to change could be felt.

Changes were made that I’d known for a while needed to be happen…….. but after major conviction, taking inventory of the past, & processing my feelings and what I’d like for my/my family’s future to looked like helped me to truly see what I’d been missing before:

Nothing is better than Jesus in a very real way.

That sounds super Jesus freakish & you probably rolled your eyes, probably wondering as a Christian why I’m just getting that, but as much as I love/d Jesus, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that he truly is everything that I need. I knew that, but never put everything down for him. This lightbulb… that came through a deeper, closer relationship with God, has completely changed behavior. Not rules, not someone saying “You should…” or “You can’t”, but being so close to God that anything that separated me from him hurt me.

A few things that I recognized…

Approval – his alone matters. periodt.

Acceptance – no matter what, when, or why he will forever search for me & welcome me, desire to be in relationship with me and be open to it even though I sin.

Comfort – He is the God of ALL comfort. Not cinnamon rolls, Chick-fil-a, wine or whiskey, or companionship. Just Jesus and once he is the first and only source of comfort, I won’t over prioritize, over value, or sacrifice who I am or standards to feel “better”.

Support – he gives wisdom in abundance if we ask, he leads us, he protects us, comforts, & is the safest, most intimate space we could ever ask for.

We truly need nothing else, but Him. And the most amazing thing is we often feel (or I quietly felt) that I’d be missing out on something if I truly gave everything up for him, if I truly lived sacrificially. I doubted and didn’t fully trust even though I knew that everything good comes from him, that there is no lack in him, that he withholds no good thing from us …… I was afraid that I’d be missing out on something. Ultimately something celebrated by culture (which likely contradicted The Word), something that would result in loneliness (which I was already feeling), or whatever I felt I needed. If everything I need is truly found in Him…… he is the ultimate source and then from trusting Him will come the very things I need except better. If I’m trying to fill a space based on my thoughts & feelings, I will lose every single time and still end up empty. Those choices will be fueled by fear, thoughts of lack, trauma, selfishness, sin, and cultural “goals” that will have me chasing after something that will never truly satisfy me.

I might be the only one whose lightbulb is just.now. clicking but I am so thankful it is. At nearly 40… feeling too late, too old, too weighted down with  life’s responsibilities… regardless of the feels, God is so so so good and nothing compares to Him.

2020 began with a whole new outlook on my Plexus business, relationship perspectives and goals, motherhood goals, career moves, & just how I wanted each day to look. The perspective I have is that everyday literally is going to create and lead to a week that turns into a month that turns into a year. If I.. when I focus on sacrificing and submitting day to day the life I want (which is the life the Lord has for me) will flow.

And one of the first things I knew I needed to change was the fact that I did nothing for myself in 2019. Nothing to very little for myself. Very little. I hardly hung out with my friends, didn’t go to any movies (which I love to do, until the end of the year), and was completely overwhelmed & growing resentful at what my days looked like. I couldn’t be the mama, friend, person, writer, speaker, provider, ministry partner, business builder I needed to be because I empty. Running on empty. fumes. and clawing to stay on my feet. It was exhausting and another year that way wouldn’t end well.

So, I committed to being more social – not for the sake of just being out, but truly pouring into, rebuilding, and establishing friendships and relationships that I’d neglected over the past few years….. and the last 26 days have been so much stinking fun. While I know exactly why I didn’t do it sooner, I’m wondering, ‘Why didn’t you do this sooner?’

I know the reasons I had were valid & real…… but they weren’t true. Tony Evans says that there’s a difference between truth and fact. I based decisions on facts, but not the truth. And we do it all of the time.

EX:
Mom: I can’t go, because the baby is too young.
Yea that’s a FACT, the baby is tiny….. but the truth is – you can go.
If you choose to…. choose to believe that we aren’t our kids end all and be all. Choose to believe that we can truly have a life outside of them and still be good mothers. Choose to believe that things will be fine if we aren’t losing ourselves to hold them and everyone and everything else together.

Y’all. I’m scared, no lie. Because I’m not sure. And, anyone who says walking with God in a way they’d never had before isn’t scary is.. lying. Hello, Moses, and everyone else who’d been pulled by the Lord and responded with a “Who me?” Then, you have those who came to the Lord for healing and you’ll see a few times he asked, “Do you want to be made whole?” umm.. of course, that’s why I’m here. Right? Like let’s not ask questions we already know the answer to. That’s annoying.

But, the truth is:
there are times we want something, but just not bad enough
to sacrifice and change our life for.

Not enough to truly be vulnerable for.
Not enough to stop being lazy for.
Not enough to stand up and be bold for.
Not enough to say “no” to everything else that isn’t that for.
Not enough to just do the things that need to be done for.

So…. again… do you want to be made whole?

So. It’s tough. And, scary.
Already 26 days in.
But, I believe deeply that while I have no idea what they heck is going to happen, I know that every day (a hundred times a day), I lay every fear that crops up, every desire, every choice, every opportunity, every move at the cross. And I trust that God heard me. Like the enslaved Israelites tears, fears, and desires – “…their cries rose up to God. God heard their groaning…” (Genesis 2:23-24) and because I am trusting the Lord and truly delighting myself in Him….. seriously enjoying worshipping, praying, reading the Word, talking throughout the day, I trust the promise of Psalm 21:2 that says the Lord will “give him his heart’s desire; you have withheld nothing he requested.”

And, my response before, during, and after is praise.
Not because I have what I asked for or even that it’s promised to me and I have the faith that I will receive it, but because I love God. And, God loves me and is worthy of my praise….. every other reason is extra.
cherries and whip cream and sprinkles on top.

Just like the children of Isreal were God’s special possession, I am, too.
Just as they needed him for deliverance, I do, too.
Just like they needed him for provision, I do, too.
Just like they messed up, I do, too.
And, he still heard them.
He still welcomed them back.
He didn’t stop being their God.
He didn’t stop being their provider.
He didn’t stop leading them.
He didn’t stop being who he was.

While the goal isn’t 40 years of learning while wandering….
I’m prayerfully grasping what they continued to miss:
 He is everything that we need.

And, if they had allowed him to be that everything all the time – even when they were afraid, even when they didn’t know, even when they felt alone – they would have experienced God in a way they never had before and would have seen what he promised and had stored up for them.

Lastly,
I posted on Instagram a few days ago that
we often trust that God will, but doubt that he is.
(At least I do… could be solo on that one.)
Doubt that in this situation right now, God is creating & establishing it.
Doubt that this situation right now is what we have been praying for.
Doubt that this could really be it.
Doubt that the first step in the plan, the steps we have to work hard to complete and sacrifice to accomplish, really will lead us there.

So we quit. We allow fear and “wisdom” and comforts of life and habits of our comfort zones to keep us from what God has for us.

Not this year.

And, because I really want a lobster & bacon grilled cheese sandwich for dinner tonight…. I’m going to get up and go to the store for Havarti cheese. Yes, one item. Because I want it that badly.

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vacation!!!

alainabridgeThis past week, we were in full fledge vacation mode….. limited internet access helped a ton with winding down the summer and enjoying time with family/friends!!

It was so nice to have one last summer vacation experience as a duo, before we become an instantaneous party of four.

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This is my eleven week belly….. the belly that grows as much week by week as it does as the day goes on (lol)…. the belly that is housing two of my greatest creations, my greatest blessings, my greatest gifts, and the cause of the greatest thanks. The babies that have rocked my whole world, caused me to vomit in public places, and has brought us so much joy and love already.

Being pregnant has opened my eyes to a lot of thoughts I’ve had that truly weren’t fair and were quite judgmental. Thoughts that were so foolish and inconsiderate.
For instance, the size of early bellies.
They’re small. And, at times I’d see mamas to be posing with these super small bellies and think, “Cute, but there’s barely anything there.”
Well, I will say that I do appreciate opportunities that open my eyes.
I recognize that my belly is  small comparatively speaking and for some it may not seem like a big deal.
But, it is. It’s huge for a couple of reasons.
First, I’m bigger than I’ve ever been before and this body is changing fast. And, two, there’s life inside of this smallish growing belly.
So, to us… while there’s “barely anything there”, its the most amazing “barely anything” we’ve ever experienced.
Perspective and a willingness to understand makes a world of a difference.

bellySeven days in the Caribbean was phenomenal and so relaxing. I followed Dr.’s orders and limited my time in the sun, enjoyed the surf, water, and beach in spurts, lounged in the shade drinking lots of water and icees building relationships and enjoying friends.

People watching is one of my favorite favorite things to do….
I found myself watching young families at the beach and airports wondering and laughing with Thomas about what we’ll look like a year from now, traveling with two little babes. lol. Both of us talking about what we don’t get about kids and the nuances of traveling with kids… lol.
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Sidebar: Thomas is a major fan of me bearing the belly! He even proudly pointed out the fact that my linea nigra (the dark line down the abdomen) is making an appearance. lol.
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And, this guy.
sleepHis birthday is today.
Every year I look back on who is has become and am grateful for the growth, the craziness I put him through and how he so graciously and patiently deals with my spontaneous decisions and chasing my heart all over the place, and how him he is. And, how being exactly who he is has made me better, has benefited our relationship, our business, and our life together.

thomas2

Even though I always get on him for how lucky he is for having a summer birthday that isn’t smushed between anything, he really deserves an amazing day all his own, not impacted or eclipsed by anything else.

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Happy birthday, man!

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… 31 life lessons

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A few days ago, I said I would post 31 things I’ve learned in all of my 31 years.

1. Don’t be afraid of anyone’s response.
Fear of rejection causes us to be afraid of being true to ourselves. Ya know what else? It robs us of the courage to boldly live & speak truths to others. We’re too afraid to challenge each other and be honest in relationships because of how we think others will respond or think of us. But, believing who you are in Christ & learning to speak gently & lovingly will ease the fear of rejection and conflict. Even if we are rejected, we will know we did all we could to communicate truthfully.

2. Always be prepared to bake a cupcake, open your home, or rearrange your schedule to support a friend!
The gift of hospitality dazzles me. I have genuinely good friends who are the most amazing entertainers. And, I love watching what they do & how they do in hopes that some of that gift rubs off on me! But, even though I’m not an I incredibly social – social butterfly, I’ve learned the importance of loving on your friends and those put in your path in a tangible way. I’ve also learned (and, desperately trying to consistently apply) that it’s important to use great wisdom when extending yourself to others!

3. Yes, making your space beautiful is always worth the time, energy, and money. No matter how long you’ll be there.
Whew! Comfortable, beautiful spaces make everything so much better. Promise! Make it yours, make it beautiful.

4. Learn the balance between working hard at something that’s beneficial and spinning your wheels.
I’m a perfectionist of sorts & I often want to do something until I get it right. But, I’ve learned that there are times in our relationships & tasks that just don’t work no matter how much effort we put into it. Asking for the wisdom to know when to say when and how much to invest is so important. Realizing you’ve cast your pearls amongst swine is heartbreaking.

5. Stay in your lane & mind your business. What others are doing/pursuing/like/etc shouldn’t sway you from doing the things you enjoy or doing what’s right.
Etc includes perceptions of you and the boxes you’re put in. These things don’t matter.
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6. Learn to grow & maintain positive relationships with other God fearing women.
Building relationships with other women has been the hugest blessing of my life. Beneficial in so many ways. There’s nothing like knowing you’re in it with other women who are striving to be and do just like you, women who are supportive and gracious… Women who love you because of the love you share for Christ. It’s most genuine.

7. Believe with everything in you that nothing you can receive from the people around you will compare to the confidence, reward, & joy you can receive in Christ.
Nothing…. Acceptance, love, friendship, comfort, nothing. It’s all in Jesus. There is freedom in this lesson. You aren’t afraid to speak your truth or live boldly before The Lord. Another tough lesson to consistently apply!!

8. You are no victim.
Ugh. We all make choices and sometimes they’re the wrong ones. Sometimes we stick through things longer than necessary. There are times bad things just happen for seemingly no cause. But, the truth of the matter is, wallowing in our pains don’t make us better. Hiding behind a false strength isn’t helpful. Hurt, trust God, allow Him to heal you, & forgive. Then, move on.

9. Not everyone hates you. Not everyone loves you. Don’t worry about being who either of those groups want you to be.

10. Be genuinely polite.
Or, do your best to be at least cordial. We’re all people & all want to be on the receiving end of grace in every situation.

11. Care about your appearance. Even in sweats.
I don’t believe in being decked out all of the time. But, I also believe it’s important to present yourself well no matter what you’re wearing. Comfy can be cute, too!!

12. Rest. But don’t be lazy.
There’s a big difference.

13. Set goals.
Give yourself something to work towards & dream big in every organization, at every task, and in every relationship. Stagnant isn’t cute. In anything. It all matters.

14. Don’t settle, but don’t set your standards so high that they’re unattainable. You can easily become shallow and hard hearted.
It’s no fun being around someone who is never satisfied and who wants to be understood but doesn’t want to understand. We aren’t matured and our relationships don’t develop or deepen this way.

15. Self evaluate and work to be the person you’d want to be with.
…… In any relationship, on any level.

16. Learn to truly forgive and be gracious.
Biggest blessing in life. Talk about freedom. Constantly seeing yourself a a sinner saved soley by grace and not your gifts, talents, or because you’re kind is huge. You’re never good enough to earn or deserve salvation.

17. Work out – take care of your body.
It’s therapeutic and you’ll feel much better about yourself. You’ll look great & be much healthier.
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18. Anyone who sees that you’re worth their time will pursue yours.
Point blank, period. No need to chase or beg. Actions speak louder than words.

19. No one comes into the world able to do everything; but those humble enough to learn from others will be able to do anything.

20. Asking to be taught (vs asking for something to be done for you) & seeking knowledge and wisdom is a few of the most important skills you can learn.

21. Practice makes you better. At everything.
Be disciplined, sacrifice, and work hard. At it all. (Being gracious, kind, on working through hurts, communication when upset. Alllll of it.)

22. Learn to effectively communicate and hear.
It improves your relationships drastically. Working on this. See 21. Lol.

23. You really are greater than you think. And, worse than you realize. (Usually!) We tend to think our issues aren’t so bad and our gifts are immaculate. Even when we are really good, thinking this way will cause us to puff up and become unwilling to give what we want to receive.
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24. Upkeep & your presentation are 1000% worth every nickel & moment. Always. & it’s fun.

25. Learn to be authentic, forgiving, & confident early. Remember that no one is a threat to you – you can either be your own biggest cheerleader or the sabotage behind your own demise.
You are worth so much and deserve the things you wish for. Believe it & live freely.

26. Going straight from HS to a baccalaureate program to Masters & beyond really is the easiest way.
Just do it. The time is going to pass anyway.

27. Follow your heart and open your mind. Dream with your entire imagination.
Believe in yourself.

28. You’re never too good to work hard or start from the bottom. Entitlement is a fantasy.

29. Do it. Who cares? Jump from a plane, get a piecing, go to concerts, make mistakes, take a chance – you’ll learn a lot, recover, have a great story to tell, & experience to recount & you’ll have had FUN while you can.

30. Learn who you are – what makes you happy, what you’re willing to accept, what you won’t tolerate and stand by it. Don’t be swayed by anything but wisdom in understanding the why’s behind the what’s.

31. Remember the spectacular, keep only what’s worth saving, & let go of the rest!!

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