My Birthday | A Post About Whimsy & My Mid-Thirties

I stood with my back to the counter in our kitchen. My husband, the young one that he is, held out his hands and said with glowing eyes and a wide, w i d e smile, “Laura! You are officially in your mid-thirties!(!!!!!!!!!!!)” My eyes rolled then just as they are now.

Friends, today I turn 34.

Sometimes I think it’s the fact that I cannot imagine myself being “old”, but the truth is, by all life-experience accounts, I’m excited for the growth in wisdom and experience that lies ahead. I’m excited to watch my children grow and to get to participate with them as they walk into the fullness of their creation. I’m excited to get to save for those bucket list moments like bringing our kids to the Black Hills, or getting to finally take that dream trek up the west coast with my 3 favorite people in tow. I’m excited for the day I’ll get to stay up and play games and eat popcorn until midnight with them, and for the mornings us parents can actually leisurely rise because the children are old enough to fend for themselves (and survive).

There’s a lot of really great things to look forward to, and that’s just a morsel of things pertaining to this little family of mine alone. I cannot wait for the friendships that will blossom in the years ahead, the new places we’ll call home one day, the sides of those we know and love that we will come to learn through shared meals and campsites and heartache.

Life is dang beautiful, and I’m putting another tick on the board of years I’ve gotten to experience it.

So what’s with the uneasiness in my belly about turning 34? If I know that I know that I would never trade the wisdom gained to go back a decade, then, what’s behind the resistance to welcome a new year with open arms?

I think it’s whimsy.

When I ask myself why, this is what I come up with. There’s this whimsy about youth—carefree and ready for all that life will hold. Teen years hold within them all of the potential for what you might become. What job you’ll have, where you’ll go to school. Twenties hold within them the excitement of truly entering adulthood. New jobs. New relationships. New homesteads. And for some, commitments that will carry them to the end of their lives. This was true for me and it was exciting, challenging, and beautiful.

But thirties. There’s this air of hunkering down; whether it’s because kids are growing older, or jobs are getting serious and you’re doing things like buying houses and cars that mean you have to keep that job and stay put because everything depends on it.

And hunkering down sounds like the antithesis of whimsy.

So here I sit, in that literal transition from one year to another, wishing I could bend the ear of that little girl who used to put on dance shows in the living room and run with arms flailing across the great big back yard clothed in nothing but a swimsuit and sheer joy. That little girl with big hazel eyes and a boyish haircut who’s favorite thing was using her imagination. Who wrote love letters to Devon Sawa and clung to boy bands like barnacles to a boat.

What would she tell me about today?

I think she’d say that 34 is a number and I actually have the choice to embrace as much whimsy as I’m willing to welcome. I can choose to hunker down and survive or I can choose to embrace each and every opportunity to live in the magic of the life God has given me.

I think she’d tell me to stop being so serious—that we could work on that together. I think she’d tell me to buy a pet bunny and invite it to tea (an activity she hosted often). I think she’d ask me all about the man she’d one day marry—do his eyes sparkle when he looks at us? What does it feel like when he holds our hand? Do we dance together in the kitchen when our favorite song comes on?

Then I think she’d want to know about the kids she always dreamed of—Who are they? Do they look like us? Do we paint with them and explore and have dance parties together? Do they like to dunk Oreos between their pointer and middle or are they sort that hold it with their thumb and pointer finger? Do they love playing grocery store as much as we do? What do their laughs sound like?

I’m so grateful for that girl—little Lulu. She’s a pretty special girl, and I find the older I get, the more I am trying to be like her. While I don’t have the slightest idea of what’s ahead of me in this, my 35th trip around the sun, one thing I do know—for all of my days, I will give Him praise, for He has given me this one, good thing: a life beyond my life, where the beauty of this one will collide with the perfection of the one to come, and I will fully, truly, live.

“As for me, I will wait for the Eternal, even though He feels absent, even though He has hidden His face from the family of Jacob. I will put all hope in Him You see, I and my children whom the Eternal One gave to me, we personify the promise.” -Isaiah 8:17

This verse is my 34. Assurance that the only hope I have is the one I have in my unfailing God, and the complete certainty of this one thing: this life and where He has taken me proves that I, Laura, personify the promise of God.

“The Spirit of the Lord, the Eternal, is on me.
    The Lord has appointed me for a special purpose.
He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to repair broken hearts,
And to declare to those who are held captive and bound in prison,
    “Be free from your imprisonment!”” -Isaiah 61:1

At 34, I am a receiver of good news, bound up, and set free. And fully released to take hold of all of the whimsy I can get my hands on. Hallelujah!

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY to ME! I’m grateful for all of the versions of myself that I have been over these 34 years. Leaning in and learning all that I can from what God has given me so far, knowing full well that what is to come will be sweet and beautiful and full of that heavenly magic that only God can bring.

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Some Changes | A Post About Saying Yes and No

Hey there. It’s been awhile since I’ve been here with you. The reason is two-fold: 1. I am a chronic starter-stopper. I could stand to grow in the area of longevity. And 2. I’ve been distracted by my own life and yours. Well, maybe not yours specifically, but the lives of others in the world that I follow along with on social media.

But I’m changing some things.

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With these changes, I hope to be on here more—sharing the “little things” I’ve shared in days past on things like Instagram. Maybe these little things on here will become something meaningful to others, but I know they will prove meaningful to me and I hope one day to my children.

To answer the question I’m guessing you’re asking, the changes are as follows:

  • Eliminate social media and any other technological distraction in my life:

    • This is a really tough one because, for the last 7 or so years, I’ve been pouring out my life’s lessons, words to my children, and overall grumblings-turned-humble-pie over on Instagram. I’ve loved it. I’ve loved sharing both words and pictures of my life, because it is a really beautiful one, and finding commonality with so many other beautiful women of God. But what was once a place for me to share, has now become the place by which I seek to find where I measure in the world of all things. Am I popular? Am I liked? Am I valued? How do my talents measure up to others? What can I do to be better? These are all things I thought in middle school, high school, college, new churches, old churches, friend groups, life groups, jobs… basically everywhere. But add to those questions the boundary-less world of the internet and I’m a goner. The truth is, I don’t measure up in a lot of ways. But in my own life and for my own community—I’m exactly where I should be. I forget that when my eyes and heart are glued to that little screen filled with beautiful squares. So much that is so beautiful—but is that beauty intended for me? Or could it serve as a means for the enemy to rob me of joy in my surroundings.

    • Creating strict boundaries on tv watching is another hard step I am learning how to take. Whether it’s due to a childhood of television, or countless seasons where I’ve been without my husband and people like Jessica Day or Leslie Knope have become my best friends, I’ve grown to find some sort of comfort in television. With a humbling awareness of the place I’ve let this outlet take in my life, I’m stepping into what God is asking and learning to limit the time I spend in front of the tv.

  • Trying (and failing) to get rid of WiFi:

    • We set out to eliminate WiFi from our home all together, but one little afternoon of a cut connection quickly made us realize that about 75% of our movies (for both us and our demanding, adorable little children) are on iTunes. *way to go, Apple. Your sneaky plans have succeeded. So we reexamined our options and what would be the next best thing, and opted for a slower speed with a cheaper price, while setting strict boundaries on device usage. With slower speeds comes less accessibility and more frustration—and hopefully less of a draw to grab a device.

  • Saying “no” to some really good things:

    • There are some really wonderful things in my life, but I’m hearing and receiving the reality that they might not be the best things for me today. So in life and ministry I am learning what seasons are coming to an end and how to navigate the unknowns of majorly clearing my metaphorical plate.

It dawned on me some time ago that I’ve been on facebook for 14 years. That’s 14 years of my life chasing something, always. Acceptance, popularity, approval. While driving the other day I had a cute little slogan run through my mind that made me chuckle:


Instagram: leaving me feeling inadequate, insecure, and discontent for 7 years.


I’ve had to ask myself over and over in the recent days a question I will ask you, too, because the pull to give it all up and keep things status quo has been strong.

If God had written all the days of your life in His book before you ever took your first breath (Psalm 139), do you think He included in there this platform that would distract you from the gift of life being lived around you? Would He have included a source of discontentment that would shade your eyes from the blessing and love of God all around you?

The answer, to me, is a resounding NO! These are questions I’ve had to ask myself because for me, social media, tv, and overall distractedness has robbed me of years and moments I will never get back.

So I’m saying yes to slowing down and being present. I’m saying yes to building relationships with the people God has placed in my own community. I’m saying yes to these years with my children because, from what I hear, they are short. I’m saying yes because I trust that God holds all of my dreams and all of His plans and will, together, make for me a beautiful life.

We only live once and, by golly, I refuse to miss any more of it because of distraction.

I’m ready to be here, now.



Having said all of that, will you do something for me? If you want to make sure you don’t miss a post, will you sign-up for the email list below? I PROMISE they won’t come too frequently (🤗) and I don’t have any connections to anyone who wants your email

How's Your Sight? | Reflections from Luke 11

Whatever color you want to call them, if we’re not intentional and vigilant, we can throw these colored glasses on without even thinking twice. And this is where I want to talk about this thing that the Lord was so patient and purposeful in showing me, and in doing so reminding me that I have a choice in this.

“You need a light to see. Only an idiot would light a lamp and then put it beneath the floor or under a bucket. No, any intelligent person would put the lamp on a table so everyone who comes in the house can see. Listen, your eye, your outlook, the way you see is your lamp. If your way of seeing is functioning well, then your whole life will be enlightened. But if your way of seeing is darkened, then your life will be a dark, dark place. So be careful, people, because your light may be malfunctioning. If your outlook is good, then your whole life will be bright, with no shadowy corners, as when a radiant lamp brightens your home.” -Luke 11:33-36 | the Voice

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Looking To The Right Or Left | A Blog on Worship & The People Around Us

“My friend, this is what we were designed for. We were made to worship, the only problem is that we often worship those around us more than we worship the One who made us. There’s so much talk about the worship of other things, but maybe we need to start talking about how many of us are worshipping one another?

Through comparison, through envy, through striving to keep up with the Joneses, we are in many ways worshipping each other and they ways we believe we can be satisfied through relationships.”

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P E A C E & loss | A Blog for Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day

It passed without me realizing it, as it usually does. It’s been almost exactly 4 years since we went to that doctors appointment and saw nothing instead of something. I still remember the confusion on Thomas’ face… how do you understand everything and nothing all at the same time?

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I remember this girl above. Newly pregnant and so excited about the things to come. Sometimes I look at her and cringe a bit at the events that are about to unfold. If only she hadn’t gone on that road trip to Chicago. Maybe she wouldn’t have gotten that blood clot that might have caused her miscarriage. The thing with if only statements in that we see things one-sided. Had the events not unfolded as they did, would we have had our sweet Hazel? An answer I’ll never be able to find, but what I do know is that God works everything together for our good. And His. And He wanted Hazel to set her feet on the soil of this earth.

Then last year another loss, one unexpected in so many more ways than just the obvious. The pregnancy was a surprise; the loss left me utterly perplexed. What was it for, Lord? I guess we find those answers along the way, but we can’t let the answers be our destination. Our destination must always be closeness with Christ.


My grief has worn a lot of different shades over these last 4 years, and I imagine it will continue to change in the years to come. The mistake I’ve made is in thinking that I’ve finished grieving, or that I will one day. I’m thinking, today anyways, that if we ever got to a place where we were done grieving the things that cause us pain in this life, then we’d have no need for the peace of Christ.

I forgot I needed it for awhile.

Around Christmas time last year I went to a church service specifically for those grieving the loss of a loved one. I went for my grandma, and I realized not too far into it that I was really there for my babes. I was recognizing the places in me that had yet to accept their swift journey Home. Maybe this was the cause for the anxiety always on the rise inside of me?

My pregnancy with Hazel was full of depression and anxiety, which was odd because I felt the best I’ve ever felt when I carried Malachi. I didn’t know a person could become depressed during pregnancy, and unfortunately I had to learn that in real-time. And then that anxiety never really went away. Like my grief, it just sort of took on another shade, and I learned how to live amongst it. But it was always there, creeping up on me and doing a dang good job of sounding convincing.

Amidst a hurricane of anxiety and fear this week, the Lord kindly called my attention to Philippians 4:6-7:

“Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.”

I don’t know the answer to this anxiety that has come upon me since the loss of our first babe other than it comes when I saturate my life with prayer each. and. every. day. His peace was there in that doctors office. And on that phone call. And in that hospital room. And as we faced one another and soaked our pillows with tears.

What I know is He is good. And that His peace is a promise He will always keep.

There's a peace far beyond all understanding
May it ever set my heart at ease
What anxiety fails to remember is peace is a promise You keep
Peace is a promise You keep

-Peace | Hillsong Young & Free



To that girl down there who was about to enter into a kind of heartbreak she’d never known before, what I know to be true is that God will be faithful. He sees you, He loves you, and He is already working everything out in a way that will leave you feeling the unexplainable peace and contentment that only He can give.

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To every person out there who is living their days as the “1” they refer to in the 1 in 4 who will experience miscarriage or infant loss, your story and their little life, is immeasurably valuable. I’m grateful for a God who is still good, even through life’s greatest hurts.

Reflections From Acts 9 | The Unmentioned Aspects of Conversion

You know that Enneagram train everyone is riding these days? Yep. I’m on it. Maybe it’s because I am unashamedly curious about all the ways I can get better at being Laura, or maybe it’s because I weirdly like having spelled-out before me the areas that I am weak and need improving. Whatever the reason, the Enneagram has me hooked and I want to know everyone’s number and talk about all the ways we can become the best versions of ourselves. (For those dying to know… I’m a 9 ;) )

What’s crazy about the Enneagram is that the belief behind the system is that we take on the version of ourselves that we are as adults when we are children. So it’s not necessarily that we were born this way, but rather that life circumstances and choices forced us to put on a certain self as a coping mechanism or a way of navigating our own little worlds, and thus we became the people we are today.

It’s fascinating to me just how influential our surroundings are in the people we become. Where we lived, who we spent our time with, the kinds of food, music, and activities we consumed—it all weaves together the tapestry that is each individual person.

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Our surroundings shape the pages that write the beginnings of our lives.

I wonder at the details of Paul’s surroundings early on in his life. (Or Saul, rather, at that point in time.) The book of Acts tells us that he was a severe man, with a fiery intentionality for whatever he set out to do. In the case of the early church, Saul set out to persecute and rid the world of all those who claimed to be followers of Jesus Christ.

Later on, after his conversion, he tells us that he was as straight as they came in terms of his Hebrew heritage and way of living. Not only did he dot every “i” and cross every “t”, he did it better than all the rest. So the pride, and social status that fueled his actions was likely of astronomical proportions (Acts 22:1-5).

In his circle, he was doing all the right things.

And then Jesus Christ, the One Saul had devoted all of his time, energy, and resources to slander, intersects his life in a blinding way, and everything in Saul’s life turns upside down.

[You can read the story of the road to Damascus in Acts 9:1-18. What I want to point out are the days following this miraculous conversion.]

Verse 19 of chapter 9 tells us that,

He spent a lot of time with the disciples in Damascus over the next several days.”

As I read that I wondered, what about all the guys he was traveling with, all on their way to persecute believers in Damascus? Paul had made a HUGE decision to follow Jesus. And he didn’t do it privately so that no one in his regular life knew about it. He was baptized and proceeded to then spend all of his time with those he had intended to kill.

What did his friends think? His family? His boss? The other Jewish believers who saw him as a wise and powerful man “on their side”?

He had ditched his comrades and the life he lived before that moment he met Jesus, and the word spread quickly.

At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 9:20-22 | NIV).

Paul had “everything to lose” and yet he knew that he had, in fact, gained everything the moment he gave his life to Christ. People were dumbfounded that this man was now living for the One with whom he had devoted his life to wiping out. As I read this, I am floored by the reality that we as believers live our lives so ashamed of this incredible gift we have been given. We try to hide from a watching world the eternal life and salvation we have been given through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

There is so much we can learn from Paul—God knew the tenacity with which this man would get after anything he was passionate about, so He made sure Paul would be passionate about His Son.

Couldn’t that be true of you and I, too?

He knows the exact way He wants to use you and your commitment to Christ to influence your surroundings. He knows the head-strong people you work with, or share a family name and genetics with. He knows the story of your past and all the ways people like to define you by it. He knows where you’ve been and He knows where you’re going. And He wants His Name to be what defines your life from here on out.

So don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid of who you were or who they are. Perfect love drives out fear, and His love in you and for you and through you is perfect. He knows how to wash-white your past, He knows how to supply your every present need, and He knows how to lovingly navigate your future, so that His Name would be made great through your passionate love of His Son.

So can you and I be like Paul, and run head-long towards the One from which we have been given true and lasting LIFE? Can we cease caring about how life will go on for those around us, and start leaning in and doing life with those who are devoted to Jesus, trusting that He will use our stories to speak to the hearts of those who have influenced us before we met Christ?

It wasn’t easy for Paul, at first. But he pressed on, and was given an advocate—someone to encourage him, guide him, and support him on his journey towards complete devotion to Christ. RPromise me you’ll read the rest of the story—it can be found here. If you are new to your faith, like Paul was here, find yourself a Barnabas. If you can’t, then pray with boat-loads of faith that God would bring you one. His heart is not for you to do this life of faith alone, so broaden your vantage point and start looking to places you’ve never looked before. I promise you, you’ll find your Barnabas.

What could happen to this lost and lonely world if we all turned and followed like Paul did? Lord, would you do this again in each one of our lives; that Your church would grow and the lost would be found in Jesus.

Giving Myself Up to God's Plan

But that’s not what Jesus says in Mark 8.

Because I don’t want to follow you, or you, or you. I want to follow Jesus. And He makes it pretty clear that if He is to be my Lord, then I need to get over my own ideas about what my life should (or could) look like, and relent to His plan—His way—not because He is a Lord who withholds, but one who gives in abundance. In an age where we follow people all the time, I believe there needs to be a major revival in our understanding of what it is to have a Lord. We need to look at what Jesus is not saying in this verse in Mark 8—He isn’t saying that we get all the benefits of salvation while getting to keep our lives as we think they should be. Give ourselves up to God’s plan. Take up our crosses. Follow HIM. We need to do as the disciples did and throw it all away to go where He is going and do what He is doing.

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To Proclaim in the Bright Light of Day

Earlier this week I had the privilege of teaching two different groups of women from our church straight out of the book of Matthew. Typically when I teach I am given the curriculum and I take it before the Lord and ask Him to show me what it looks like from the lips of Laura. But this time I got to teach straight from my own time with the Lord.

Man was it fun.

And also extremely difficult. Because who am I to teach others from the Word of God? What credentials do I have after my name that merit me the opportunity to instruct others on what God's Word has to tell us? If I've learned anything from following Christ and learning from His time here with His disciples, He errs on the side of "lacking in training" when He chooses people to use, and in that regard I'm a great fit.

I feel compelled to transcribe this message for you, because it is one that really needs to be heard by anyone who spends any time at the feet of Jesus. I pray it packs the same "punch" as it did from the platform on Tuesday.


As you read this I encourage you to open your Bible to Matthew 10. (I pray you have confidence from the Spirit to engage in His Word knowing you have all that you need to understand what He wants to show you. May we never enter into any time in His Word fearful that we just don't get it. He is all we need to get what is written here.)

I have one of those letter boards in my living room. You know the ones--really trendy right now and went from being hard to find and crazy expensive to available in your local target store. Isn't that how things go? Anyways, moving on. On said letter board I have a verse from Matthew 10 that I found over a month ago and loved. It spoke to me, albeit not in it's fullness at the time, and I've loved having it in my home. But the day we were having our Global Team over for a reunion dinner, I felt like changing it. With the bustle of the day, I never got around to it, and lo and behold, it became a hot topic of conversation and encouragement that night with those in my living room.

Huh. I guess this verse IS really encouraging.

As I anticipated what to teach the women of my church in the week that followed, I found myself coming back to this verse again and again. So I went to the Scriptures and found a call to action I, and likely you too, desperately needed.

Hold tight though. We'll get to that call in a minute.

At the end of Matthew 9, we find Jesus with His disciples, having been healing and driving out, and restoring what was lost. His disciples have been witnessing and learning, and He has been likely blowing them away at every turn. In verse 36 we see Jesus taking in the crowds around Him, and feeling such compassion for their lostness. There is such a great need for what He has come to bring, and yet at this point there is only One who is able to do the work. He goes on in verse 37 to tell His disciples, "The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

Translation: "Guys, do you see this great need around us? There are souls ripe for the hope found in Christ, but there are few who are bringing that hope to them. Pray for a solution. Ask the One who is over this great harvest to raise up those to do the work." -That's how I read it, anyways.

This is the beloved missionary verse. 

*NOTE TO THOSE WHO READ 2 CHAPTERS A DAY AND CALL IT GOOD* here is a perfect example of why you should explore the next chapter before you officially end your reading. If you end at chapter 9 and wait to go onto chapter 10, you miss the ironic and glorious part that happens next.

Matthew 10:1-2a- "Summoning His disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles..."

Did you catch it?

There's this problem. People need an encounter with Jesus Christ, and yet there is, at this point, only One who is able. Jesus tells them to pray for a solution. Then He gathers them and GIVES THEM THE VERY EQUIPPING THEY NEED TO BE THE ANSWER TO THEIR OWN PRAYERS. He gives them authority and a new title. They are no longer merely disciples but apostles with orders from the Messiah.

In the church we are encouraged to "fill the empty seats" and "grow community" and "invite our neighbors". And we pray, "Lord, encourage others to fill these empty seats and grow community and invite their neighbors!"

But what if you are equipped enough to be the answer to your own prayers? What if Jesus isn't asking them but He's asking you?

In verse 5 Jesus tells the apostles not to go to the lands that make the most sense to them. I imagine these men to have received this incredible authority to do the very things they've witnessed Jesus do, and then begin down a trail of thoughts about all of the far off lands that need this kind of power to intervene. But Jesus says, (my own paraphrase and assumption) "Those places that seem like they are the most lost? That's not where I'm sending you. I'm sending you to the people within My own house--I'm sending you to your own people, because they are the ones in need of what I have come to bring."

We are so quick to assume who needs to message of the Gospel and who should be the ones to bring it (you know, those called to missions and whatnot). But is Christ the one who told us that? Because these few passages alone would tell us otherwise. It's the people down your street, at your favorite coffee spot, in the office next to yours, and even sitting in the same row as you on Sunday mornings.

As you continue down in this chapter you will see Jesus give the apostles instructions on coming and going--the what-not-to-dos--and then go on to inform them of all of the persecution they will face for this charge they've been given to fulfill. A point in the conversation that I would likely have begun to second-guess my previous decision to leave everything and follow this Man. But the kindness of Jesus is that He is both bold and reassuring. He tells it like it is--there will be trouble AND He has overcome the world.

And here, friends, is where we find this beautiful verse that has been accompanying me these past weeks:

"And you should proclaim in the bright light of day everything that I have whispered to you in the dark. Whatever whispers you hear—shout them from the rooftops of houses." - Matthew 10:27 (the Voice)

Jesus has just told them of the persecution they will face, but what He doesn't do is tell them to keep this message on the down-low so as not to ruffle feathers or cause dissension. Amidst all of this, He tells them to speak in the light the things He is telling them in the darkness. The wisdom He is whispering in their ears, the revelation they experience in the darkest corners of their souls, they are to speak out in the brightest light of day--without a shadow of doubt or fear--so that those around might come to know the wisdom and truth found in Christ.

And we sit. And we hesitate. And we are content to keep what He is showing us to ourselves.

Well, what if they don't know the Lord? I mean, what if they aren't a Christian? What if they don't like what I have to say and turn me down or don't want to be my friend anymore? What if they call me ridiculous, or even tell me I'm naive and stupid to believe such nonsense?

So we take all of those "what-ifs" and we keep to ourselves the gift of wisdom and understanding we get to continually unwrap by the grace of God, and we hope that someone will reach these lost sheep around us.

Friend, can I tell you something? You are the answer to the problem. You have all of the equipping you need to share the Hope of Christ to the lost around you. For the sake of those who are desperate for a reason to keep living, a reason to keep moving forward, and a reason for their existence, be BOLD and share the things God is whispering to you.

And guess what? It's doesn't have to be as awkward as you think it's going to be.

How did Jesus talk to people about the Kingdom of God? He spoke in stories and shared this ground-breaking, earth-quaking truth in a way that could be received by the ears it landed on.

Mom friend from preschool and a playdate:"My husband doesn't talk to me. And when he does he's so negative. I feel so unappreciated."

Me full of fear: "Oh man, I'm sorry. Yeah, that totally sucks, I've been there."

Me following the instruction of Christ in Matthew 10:27: "Oh friend, I'm so sorry. You know, whenever I feel like my husband is distant, I try to find ways to encourage him and love him for exactly where he is. I've spent a lot of time praying for God to change him so that I feel better, but God showed me that if I love my husband where he is at, just like God does, then my heart changes and I soften towards my husband and what he might be going through that I am unaware of."

Because we have to fear God more than we fear being unliked. 

Jesus says in verse 32 that if we acknowledge Him before others, He will acknowledge us before His Father in Heaven. Every one of us who think we could be instant best friends with Joanna Gaines "if only we knew someone who could introduce us", this is that scenario times one hundred billion. There could be nothing better in all the world than to have the Father hear my name from the lips of His very own Son, and He says that if we will simply acknowledge Him before others, He will do just that for us.

Please tell me you see the incredible value in this!

Jesus also tells us in verse 39 that whoever loses his life for the sake of Christ will find real life. And I know what you're thinking, "I live in a free country where no one is going to kill me or imprison me so I'm good. This only mildly applies to me and in ways that are more metaphorical than anything."

But what if it said, "whoever loses his convenience for the sake of Christ will find real life" Or "whoever is willing to have their plans, dreams, and goals disrupted for the sake of Christ will find real life"?

The Spirit of God is whispering to us all the time, asking us to be willing to put down our own desires so that the souls ripe for the hope of Christ might be tended to by the children of God. Are you willing to be interrupted? Are you willing to miss your meeting, or be late with dinner, or make others wait on you because you followed the prompting of the Spirit to have a conversation with someone around you? Because there are people all around you DESPERATE for someone to care to know them. There are people who have lived where you are, in your community, for months or more and never had someone care to get to know who they are. And you and I are brushing past them daily, so focused on our own agendas and needs that we are missing the chance to show them that there is a God who KNOWS them and LOVES them.


How do we follow Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 10:27?

  1. Don’t fear: (vs 28)-“Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul;” Have greater reverence for Jesus than you do for your own likability to others.
  2. Know your value to the Sender: (vs 30-31)-“But even the hairs on your head have all been counted. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." He sends you because He has placed value on you to be the one to accomplish the work around you. What is the price being paid for being unable to grasp your value in this whole thing? Souls still desperate to know the Hope found in Christ--a very high price, indeed.
  3. Understand the mission: (vs 34, 37-39)- “Don’t assume I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword… The one who loves a father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; the one who loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life because of me will find it.” Do we "keep the peace" at the cost of the Gospel?
  4. Frequently evaluate where you stand on this journey of being a disciple of Christ—are you moving forward? Like the disciples, we have the opportunity for promotion--to be given greater tasks and to go further with Christ. Are we willing? Are we pursuing Him now with a heart longing for more?

Friends, we cannot keep this revelation to ourselves. The people we do life around are not just people--they are valuable to God, and He has chosen to use us to show them that. Will you be bold in the reality of Christ in you? Will you share with those around you the things He is doing in you? Will you cease to let fear hold your tongue and keep your life with Christ separate from your life in the world? We have been called to be Ambassadors of Heaven--to represent our Homeland amongst a broken and hurting world. Can we be bold for the sake of the Gospel and remember that this can happen in the simple acknowledgement of Christ in our lives?

 

I would LOVE to hear how you are doing this, what your response is to this lesson straight from Scripture, and how you feel challenged to change your ways. Comment and let's start a conversation!

 

 

Reverence | An Awakening

Earlier this year I felt led to submit an article to two different online magazines. I felt smoked by the Spirit as I wrote this, and yet neither magazine wanted it. The words are still His and it's time I share them.

So, without further ado, a word on Reverence


Maybe it’s because we live in first-world Americana, but the idea of reverence seems to be lost on many. We can’t tangibly understand the idea because, after all, we live for ourselves much of the time. The Christ-follower in this culture might believe that she is “dying to herself” and revering the Lord she serves, but there are so many simple and yet humbling questions to be asked of her.

We don’t know what it is to bow before a Sovereign, and for some, if given a face-to-face meeting with the President, it would almost be frowned upon if they did not greet him with words of disdain and disrespect.

We are not a culture that reveres.

We boast, we bully, we believe that the ideas created within ourselves are the best of the best and anyone who disagrees loses their place at our table.

And somewhere in the midst of that lies the Sovereign Most High.

 

“For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” -Joshua 4:23-24 | NIV

 

What would happen inside of us if we closed our eyes, quieted our hearts, and let the reality of these events (and the countless others) sink deep into our souls, past our inward-focus, past our distractibility?  What if we entered into the House of God fully aware of the God we were about to meet?

The God who told Moses to take off his sandals because in His presence, the ground is Holy.

The God who is worshipped around the clock with tongues of fire belonging to beings our minds cannot even begin to imagine.

The God who saw the deepest stains of sin and bondage within her and decided to wash her as white as snow.

Could it be that God desires an awakening of reverence? He has not forgotten about His majesty and might, but He has seen each and every time we have.  And in His mercy and grace, He patiently awaits our reverence. He invites us to take off our sandals. He invites us to unveil our faces. He beckons us to lift up our hands.

Because He is worthy of all of that and so much more.

Reverence: to cause astonishment and awe; be held in awe.

When we look beyond ourselves, when we remove the veil of pride, disengagement, and fear, we can do nothing but stand in awe of the God we serve. 

 

I will remember the actions the Eternal has taken,

    reminisce on Your ancient wonders.

I will reflect on all of Your work;

    indeed, I will study all You have performed. 

O God, Your way is so different, so distinct, so divine.

    No other god compares with our God.

You, God, and Your works evoke wonder.

    You have proved Your strength to the nations. 

-Psalm 77:11-14 | the Voice

 

Jess Connolly says in her book, Wild and Free, “The full picture, you see, requires you and me to acknowledge that the main character of the story is not the masterpiece, but its Creator.” How many of us enter into worship and inevitably worship ourselves? Our hands are raised and our hair is done for the glory and praise of the wrong “one”. But the heart that reveres worships with abandon. The ambassador who glorifies and honors the One she represents does so in accordance with what He says is right and true.

 

“Your adornment must not be merely external—with interweaving and elaborate knotting of the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or [being superficially preoccupied with] dressing in expensive clothes; but let it be [the inner beauty of] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, [one that is calm and self-controlled, not overanxious, but serene and spiritually mature] which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4 | AMP

 

Imagine yourself a little girl, leaping downstairs to twirl in front of your Papa in your brand new dress. Do you know the One it is that you twirl before? He is the Papa who says, “Darling, that dress is lovely,” and placing His big, tender, powerful hand over your heart, He continues, “but you [the “you” that rests in here] are beautiful.”

When we stand in awe of this God who chose us, we lose interest in standing our ground on our rights as free women who can “do as we please” because the longing to worship in truth and grace is far too great.

We remove our sandals and unveil our faces.

We stand in abandoned awe at this Holy King who says to each one of us, “I choose you.”

 

The Day He Asked Me Why | Entering Into Healing

My son has this obsession with Band-aids. I'm going to be honest with you--it drives me completely crazy. There are band-aid wrappers all over the house, and even worse, used band-aids in odd, and questionable places. For every owie, and everything that could maybe, potentially be an owie, a band-aid is a must.


Today I asked myself a couple of times, "why don't you want to get healed?" An interesting observation on my part, because my prayer life would reflect that I do, in fact, seek healing in specific areas of my life, and yet when approached with the opportunity, I hesitate.

Interesting.

Later on I heard that same question but from my Savior. "Why don't you want to get healed?" You see, when I ask it of myself, I do so under the false assumption that I have some sort of control over the matter, which would be the reason why I never actually answered myself in the first place.

But when asked that question from the One who holds within Himself all power to restore and renew, I feel the breath lost from my lungs. There's a gasp in my spirit--like embarrassment mixed with shame mixed with maybe-I-can-pretend-I-didn't-hear-myself-the-first-two-times.

The Savior Jesus wants to know why I don't want what He wants to give to me.


Remember my band-aid obsessed kid? Well, one of the reasons he drives me bonkers with these band-aids is that he will keep them on for. days. I tell him repeatedly, "Malachi, if you do not take it off and let it heal you will get an infection. I don't think you understand what that means--you will have to see the dr and get a shot and it will be so so so so so so bad." (Maybe my tactic isn't the greatest, but I'm grabbing at straws on my best days.) And as I drove home from work today I saw that I am, in fact, worse than my son.

I want my band-aids; my coverings. I want my hope and security in the thing that is hurting in me to be found in something tangible instead of trusting that time and fresh air and healing balm with make it all better. If I cover it up then that must mean it's safe. Phew. Except that that couldn't be further from the truth.

Often times, I will find Malachi with his hand wrapped around the finger of his other hand, strenuously attempting to keep a gross, no-longer-sticky band-aid on. Today I see myself doing the same thing. I've got wounds that have been around for more years than I can recount, and I'm still here, a 32 year old woman of God, working that bandage like it's the day I put it on.

So I guess I might need to give Malachi a little slack seeing as I'm more of a band-aid freak than he is.

As I sit here and ask the Lord, "what do I do with this? How do I get to a place of uncovering so that You can do what You do?" And immediately I'm reminded of a restorative holy yoga class I led last weekend. I asked the women 3 questions and today He asks me the same:

"Is God good?"

"Is God good to me?"

"Is God good at being God?"

It's as if I can see His face, and hear His gentle voice as He whispers over me the very same words I whisper (or shout) over Malachi: "You have to trust Me. I need to be the best Savior that I can be, and that means asking you to do something scary and trusting Me while you do it."

I have to reach my hands out, however shaky they might be, and I need to loose my lips, however much they might quiver, and I need to let Him do what He does. I need to say yes to healing, and believe that even if the other side seems scary and unfamiliar, that He is in that place, too.


I don't have any answers for you and I can't proceed to give you a testimony of received healing. I'm walking this out, today. But I know that His question to me is also His question to you. So, my dear friend, 

"Why don't you want to get healed?"

 

To My Grown Children | On Making Plans and Keeping The Faith

I've been where you are. Dreaming. Making plans and piecing all of the information you have together into some sort of understanding of life as it has been, as it is now, and as it will be in the days, months, and years to come. You do what you can with what you have. You take the information that God has given you and you say, "ok, this is the plan I'm setting out on because it is what makes the most sense."

Maybe that will be your story--I pray it is. And maybe it won't be. I'm banking on the latter, as that seems to be the story for many of God's chosen. I think it's because He wants us to depend solely on Him, and not on our own understanding. And, shocker, I'm not the first one to come to that conclusion (shout out to Solomon)-- "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6). 

Right now you are 4 (almost 5) and 11 months (almost 1) and Dad and I are as wayward and squirmy as you two combined when it comes to abiding in this instruction. Which is why I felt it pertinent to jot this down for you--I'd hate for you to believe the lie that you are the only ones who aren't on the path to success in your generation.

big. fat. lie.

Dad and I experience that, too. When we look around all seems to be right in the lives of most, and yet here we sit. Asking God so many questions and hearing so few answers. Just abide. Just sit and watch. It's hard, my loves. It's hard on this day and it will be hard for you on the day you read this. Also ask questions. Get to know those around you--the ones who's lives seem to together and forward-moving. I bet you'll feel better about your lot and be built up in faith and fervor when you do. When you really get to know those living their lives for God, He will give you a grander scope of life and success and the reality that life is raw and, at times, ugly for everyone. Not just you.

Just as the struggle doesn't change over the ages, neither does the faithful hand of God. Keep trusting Him. Force yourself. Move yourself, step. by. step. by. step. to the altar of God. Dad and I are doing everything we can to leave behind us a legacy of faith--the example (however messy and imperfect it may be) of people who drag themselves before the throne, sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes desperate and raw, and sometimes proud and stubborn. You might find yourself asking the question, "what if it's all for nothing?" I asked that question, too. On this very day. And it is all worth it. It just has to be. I don't have the answer for you today, but on the day you read this, I know without a shadow of doubt that I will have a fiery joy as I tell you how it was all worth it. You won't understand, and my story might leave you feeling just as you did before it began, but I promise you one day you will understand. You will see the faithfulness of God in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13).

Just like Dad and I will, too. 

So make plans. Piece together what you know, but hold it loosely. He is going to ask you to trust, and it is going to be hard. Probably one of the hardest things you'll ever do. He is not a safe God, and Dad and I have just begun to scratch the surface of how He is both unsafe and yet a mighty fortress and shield.

When you doubt that He is listening--that He isn't moving and pursuing you and your deepest need and desire, remember that when Jesus comes back He will have a new Name-- Faithful and True. Those traits aren't awaiting the title. He is both faithful and true now and forever.

Maybe today, as you read this, you are twenty and think you know it all. Maybe you are thirty and are desperate in your absolute lack of understanding of all the things. Maybe you are fifty and feel like the ground has given way beneath you. Keep making plans with what you know, and keep choosing faith--forcing faith, abiding in faith, pursuing faith--because He is Faithful and True, and my darling loves...

He sees you.

We Asked For Adventure | Two Years Later

I'm sitting here with a bowl of chocolate chips, a big mug of herbal tea and an anxious and desperate heart. Here's why:

Two years ago we got this idea. We wanted adventure with God. It sounded and felt so dreamy. At least, that's what I vaguely remember it feeling like when I am reminded of my own words two years ago.

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"I'm itching for adventure. And not the kind that I can come up with on my own. I'm praying for big, beautiful, only-God-could've-done-this adventure. I believe that if we ask Him to write a beautiful adventurous story with our lives He will deliver. He's so creative, and I'm desperate for Him to showcase His skills with my life and my family... We live one life. I want to live it the best way He allows."

Words straight from the heart of a woman just beginning her adventure towards understanding.

I'm two years in (maybe even more) and on the outside life looks a lot like it did when I typed those words, just with one additional little person. Still waiting. Still hoping. Still white-knuckling my way towards the promise and the secure future that I know is mine.

I think I believed that if I just gave God permission to move me to the beautiful mountains and give me this dreamy life that He would do it--like I was the one keeping Him from getting that ball rolling.

Apparently He wasn't waiting for my permission.

Do you have a dream for your life? A thing that, if you close your eyes tight you can see it play out before you? I do. And it's that adventurous life that I "gave God permission" to write for me. It's frolicking through His highest mountains and twirling with my eyes raised towards the sky in His grassy valleys. But as I sit here and write this I'm realizing that He's never told me I can't frolic on the mountain tops and twirl in the valleys.

It might just take place in my heart and not in my body.

To the one who craves adventure with God--who is ready to throw caution to the wind and let God take them wherever He wants: don't do it unless you're ready to let go of the reigns and really go wherever He wants. Because where He wants just might be where you already are.

At least it is for us. For now.

Jesus informed me in John 14 a few weeks back that He doesn't give gifts the way the world does and that I should not lose heart. I'm a sign-reader by nature, a trait that I try desperately to squelch because I know who my God is and He is not confusing or mystical. He is clear and firm. Loving and generous. Sovereign and Holy. So when I read this in John I had to fight hard against my tendency to read all the signs in my life and see how this gift-giving strategy of God's holds up against all the things I've received.

I can't help but think of Malachi.

Kids have a way of trying to make a gift out of anything. And they usually end up enjoying the thing that wasn't intended to be the awesome, expensive, super-thought-out gift in the first place. 

Jesus also tells me to be more like the little ones, and if the world gives the awesome, expensive, super-thought-out gifts then I guess I'm finding joy in the box it comes in. 

I'm still drinking my herbal tea (in desperation that it will bring the peace and calm it is widely acclaimed for.. pshh), I'm on my second bowl of chocolate chips, and my heart is still processing this place we are in.

This place we are in is an entirely new place, a new and promised land, where we believe with little hesitation in the character, love, provision, goodness, mercy, sovereignty, might, holiness, and love of God. We want adventure, even now knowing that it isn't going to look like what we first imagined. We are even more desperate for and sure of the provision and promise of God.

We are in new land, and it's spacious and beautiful just as He promised it would be; I need only take heart and receive.

If you're craving adventure, keep on keeping on. If you are afraid of adventure, don't just dip a toe in--cannonball. This life of adventure with God is raw and real and vulnerable and hard, but it's also vibrant and full of real life and love and joy and commitment. It's the beautiful, adventurous story I asked Him to write for me.

I will not wait around--push pause on living vibrantly and with a receptive heart-- until He brings me to the place I thought we were setting out for two years ago. I will live this adventure wherever I am and with whomever I'm with, because He is the One who makes my heart skip a beat with excitement and my eyes gaze with wonder at His glory. I will explore His beauty, dive deep into the souls of His beloveds around me, and fall even deeper in love with Him because this is the adventure and I've been living it all along.

We've Got The Bread

Based on my usually vague and yet broadly informative social media posts, I would say most people have a general knowledge of the "road to career-dom" we've been on these last three years; by "we" I mean Thomas, but the reality is it's a journey for each person in our family when it is the journey of the main-man of the crew.

 

We thought we were on our way, that we had finally "arrived", at least for a little while. We still held onto hope that eventually we would see our biggest dream fulfilled and have the mountains in our "backyard", but to have a "real job" seemed a lot like arriving, and we were thankful. 

 

Then came the most random tearing of an ACL in the history of young, handsome Canadian men, and we were left wondering what God was up to--again.

 

This week T had to, for the second time, withdraw from promotion into law enforcement due to aforementioned injury. So here we sit... again... wondering what's happening.

 

Last night was one of those ugly, finger-shaking-at-God kind of nights and in my tizzy I picked up an old study guide from church that Hazel had taken out of my journal. Of course, in typical all-knowing and Sovereign God fashion, the lesson from months ago contained just the words my heart and head needed last night.

"Focus on what I do understand--about God, about who I am, about my circumstances."

This is what I had written along the top of the paper and the very thing I needed to do in light of our once-again questionable circumstances. 

"Let His faithfulness in the past propel me into my future."

I had also written that.

So it turns out I actually had processed all the things I needed to face yet another round of uncertainty, and in pretty typical human-fashion I had forgotten all of it.

Then I read Mark 8 and remembered that Jesus had a name for those who forget so easily:

hard-hearted.

Well dang.

"...Jesus asked them, 'Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Are you hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?" -Mark 8:17-19 | NIV

Allow me to show you the conviction with which I received from these few words, in chronological order:

1) I'm talking like I've got no bread. When has He ever left us with no bread? Never.

2) My heart is harder than I'd ever care to admit--for the sake of my ego it's a good thing I didn't realize it. In my pride, I credit myself as one who has a good handle on common sense, but apparently my common sense of the character of God escapes me regularly. So yep... I don't understand.

3) There's a link to my eyes and ears and the memory of the miles behind me. I'll proclaim all I want of the faithfulness of God, but an immediate bout of blindness and Alzheimers has the tendency to come upon me when everything seems uncertain and God seems confusing.

4) Remember that time, just recently, when I did that thing you were so desperate for? Sigh... man, Pops... how could I forget so quickly?

 

It's a crazy ride, living a life of expectant faith. Choosing to believe what your eyes cannot see is hard work. It sounds enchanting but in reality its ugly and tough and full of a lot of pacing and flailing arms. I think what I'm the most thankful for though is that none of that surprises or deters God from doing what He set out to do a long time ago when He invited us into this. He's consistent, and His faithfulness doesn't depend on mine. So with that, I'll stand up, grab a slice of sprouted Ezekiel bread and give a loud, "we've got bread!"  

 

And I'm also leaving out my breadbasket, for whenever He plans on stopping by and giving it a good fill.

Going Without: What I Learned From Two Months "Unplugged"

Well, it's November 30th. I told myself (and everyone else) that December 1st was the day. It might seem silly to make any sort of hoopla over coming back to "life" (cue Soul II Soul's "Back To Life") after a two month hiatus but if we are all honest with ourselves, being connected to everyone all the time has truly become our life, and in many ways it's a shame. The other interesting thing about this feeling I feel is that no one is forcing me to plug back in. I could extend this break for many more months or, dare I say it, follow the footsteps of the very few who don't have a social media account of any kind. While there have definitely been thoughts swirling that entertain that end, I've learned a few things that will allow a clearer and healthier perspective on social media as it stands with me, Laura. They may not be revolutionary, and they may be seemingly insignificant, but I find myself treasuring them, holding them close to my heart like rare gems, and it's likely best that they are extended to potentially serve the greater good.

 

What I learned is as follows:

 

Facebook won't let you break up with it:

You know those girls that, after a break up, keep talking as if that conversation just never happened? They make plans for the weekend, they speak of their boyfriend in the present tense as opposed to the past... well, Facebook and that girl have a lot in common. When one ceases to open their facebook app or access it via web browser, facebook begins to email you what others are up to. Comments on photos you are not tagged in, posts regarding people you  don't know, events that quite literally have absolutely nothing to do with you, and facebook thinks it's absolutely imperative that you know about all of it. So they email you. A few times a day. Every day. She won't let you break up with her and it's super obnoxious.

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Being "left out" of all the crazy is wildly liberating:

I had the PRIVILEGE of missing out on allllllllll of the election crazy because accessing social media wasn't an option for me. Did I survive? Yes. Did I still make an informed decision on voting day? Absolutely. Did I do my own research and listen to my own musings on both candidates? Oh Heck Yes. For real people, when the crazy ball starts to roll, just unplug. 

You do not have to sit and stay in the seat of scoffers (Ps. 1:1-3 AMP). 

My day's "insignificant moments" are very, very significant:

One morning I was standing next to the kitchen counter, where #HazieBaby was lounging in her bouncy seat and our eyes locked for what felt like hours. My face began to hurt from smiling and cooing at her endlessly and as the moment dragged on I found myself realizing what I could have (and normally would have) been doing instead of this--mindlessly bouncing her whilst scrolling my feed, getting my morning fix and missing the magic taking place in her eyes. How many of those moments, while not "life-changing", are being missed because something inside of me thinks that life is found "out there" instead of in here, in this very home and with these very people? One of the most powerful things my eyes have been opened to these past months is the magic that is taking place every single day right here under this very roof. Fellowship has happened here, peace has been found here, laughter has been shared over and over and over again, whether with a multitude of friends or simply between two souls in the quiet hours of the night. The insignificant minutes of my day have become the ones that fuel my spirit and remind me of the rich goodness of my God. He is found in the big, triumphant things but He is also found in just as profound of a way in the eyes and the voices of my three loves.

Beautiful community is right outside the door:

I am so immensely blessed to have deep and meaningful relationships with people all over the country. I've learned, however, how to invest in the people who are right here beside me, doing the mom-life, wife-life and ministry-life, and it's been really sweet. Seeing kids play, growing and learning beside one another, and getting to flesh out community here in my own living room has filled me in ways that I didn't even realize needed filling. The people around you are worth taking the time to invest in. God knew what He was doing when He placed you where He did, and turning your eyes to virtual community at the cost of physical is far too high of a price to pay. Dig deep where you are and see your spirit flourish. 

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Meaningful relationships can withstand the miles:

While I've learned how to invest in those around me, I've also grown to appreciate and value the relationships God has given me that are held together by technology. My ministry, my job and many of my soul-friendships are held together and nurtured via text message, social media and phone calls. While it is easy to buy into the lie that those friendships aren't "real" (as I usually hear it), I've learned just how much these women mean to me--how they inspire me, how they encourage me and challenge me and how much my own life is enriched by getting to witness them living theirs. **There is no shortage of people who will suck the life out of you with their social media presence. Cut the cord on that and let the time you do spend scrolling be filled with those who point you towards the beauty, love and grace that is found in this world. There are a lot of them. If you want a list to refer to just check out my instagram account. There are also a multitude of arrows that the enemy will throw when trying to clean up our social media intake--proclaim the name of Jesus over any lie that leaves you feeling "less-than" anyone you are looking at on social media. You are you and she is she. Both beautiful.** Also, on the note of long-distance friendships, make phone calls, send text messages and use as many GIFs as possible. Laughter travels the miles, as do tears. Make the effort. 

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My son's behavior does not improve--but my attitude does:

If you are anything like me, you have had a moment or two (or twenty) where you have barked at your kid because they've done something naughty/annoying/bad while you are on your phone. This, unfortunately, is an all-too common occurrence in our day. Because I wasn't engrossed in a life that wasn't "present" I was able to be engrossed in the life that was. M's behavior did not magically improve, but because I was fully present in our home my response to him was more gracious (still not always as gracious as it could've been). I wasn't distracted. My mind was fully engaged in my job as mom. And I could see how deeply M's little heart needed that from me. 

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It's okay to be in the dark:

Did I have my moments of panic when a friend mentioned something major in their life and I was completely clueless? Absolutely. Did I survive that? Yes. There's nothing wrong with saying, "oh my goodness I had no idea! Tell me about it." Looking or feeling dumb is not nearly as scary and awful as our insecurity leads us to believe. You move on and you build deeper roots in your relationships because the effort to know what is happening in the lives of others leaves them feeling cared for and loved. It's a win-win. 

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My little family is my biggest "thing":

As a follower of Christ I feel this large call on my life to do something big for the Kingdom of God. I often get caught up in the inspirational/writing side of social media and inevitably catch my thoughts lingering around the topics of likes, followers and comments. I've grown, however, to deeply appreciate my impact here in my home. I've learned and lived out the reality that if all I ever did was mother these two beautiful kids and support this incredible man, that would be a full and mighty life lived for God. To give my husband my full and undivided attention is not only an invaluable gift, it's the way of living I committed to when I said, "I do". To dream of the things my children will one day do for the Kingdom of God, and to pray powerful prayers over them, believing in this honorable seat I sit in as their mom, is just the way this role of "mother" was structured when God called me to it. I've learned to refuse to let the outer world get the parts of me that my inner world needs more. They will forever give me a better return on my investment than anyone else ever could because they are the people God placed around me to love me the fiercest and support me the most.

Time allotted for God to move rarely turns out as expected:

I imagined these months to be filled with my own personal blogging and lots and lots of reading. It's been full of big, powerful things--things I didn't even know I needed to walk into in my life--and none of them were blogged about. I had expected some loud and audacious movement from my God for such a bold and selfless step (cue the apathetic applause) but the truth is, stepping away from my false god is not something that should warrant me any sort of applause or pat on the back. It is something that should be done often and done with conviction. He may whisper or He may shout, but the volume to which He responds can never be the motivation. He has been gentle with me--simple, as I put it early on--and yet in that simplicity it has been like the richest and most wonderful of delicacies. 

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Everything you experience can be shared but not everything you experience must be shared with everyone:

Hazie still turned 2 and 3 months old over this time, and I still shared her photo, but it was with those close to me via text message and not with the "masses" that is my social media following. T got his very first piece of police officer apparel and I got to capture that  smile of his in my memory and not on my instagram account. M turned 4 and our house was packed to the gills, and the laughter and bustle of 20 kids in our home was enjoyed and shared with all those present. Each of those moments and all of the feelings I felt so deep within me were still meaningful and powerful and sweet--even if their memory is not forever archived online. I've learned to appreciate photo-taking for the joy of it and for the way it freezes a moment in time forever and not just because it allows people to come to some flighty conclusion of what my life is like. Photography is an incredible gift we have been given, and I will continue to take advantage of every opportunity to freeze in time this beautiful life of mine. I only get one and man, by the grace of God, it's a really good one.  

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Everyone should take some sort of break from social media--this time has been invaluable to me and to my family. I exchanged familiarity and temporary fulfillment for a greater understanding of what my life really is--the four of us wildly chasing after God, loving one another and loving Christ, and deeply grateful for the forgiveness we have been given.  Do you need to take two months off? No. Two months was the time given to me by the Spirit to accomplish what He needed to accomplish in me.  But if you want to be able to grow in your appreciation for the life you are living, then get with God and ask Him what He wants from you.

Then commit.

Let your "no" be "no".

When you mess up repent.

And take your commitment seriously. Because for as seriously as you take your commitment God will seriously do a work in you.

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Here's to prayerfully and slowly entering back in. Holy Spirit, be swift in your conviction, lest I leave behind all the richness You have given me.

The Last Diaper

Tonight, I put the last diaper we own on M. He's actually been potty-trained for a few weeks now, but we've been slowly working our way through his last pack, coining them his "night-time diapers" so as not to confuse him. For days I've glanced at that pack and thought, "man, when is that thing ever going to run out?" Tonight, I guess.

I'm feeling oddly emotional about this. Some would say, "it's just a diaper", but I think the sadness is coming from a deeper place.

I never really thought I'd have a break from diapering between my children. And now I'm done. With no idea of when I will begin again.

The pile of wipe-packs will no longer deplete (thanks, Honest Co, for sending ridiculously unnecessary amounts of wipes) and my cubby specifically for diapers can now be used for other things. And I don't think this is something that I want.

**SIDE NOTE: I am over the moon about my potty-trained boy. He has been an absolute champion at this potty business and I am so freaking proud of him. Like, nearly everyone we come into contact with hears the good news. My sorrow does not leave me wishing we hadn't potty-trained him. So just so we are clear, the potty is awesome.**

It was this time last year I became pregnant with our little one lost. I never thought I would want to be pregnant around the same time because it would be too difficult. But these days I find myself wishing more than anything that I were. My heart believes, some might say foolishly, in God's goodness and provision. I know He will give us another baby. There is so much gladness in that "knowing" and also a bit of fear. Not fear of Him not coming through...

... but fear of my own doubt.

You see, I'm not afraid of losing another one (as it is somewhat likely due to a blood clotting condition I have called Factor V Leiden). I'm not afraid of the high-risk pregnancy that will inevitably ensue as soon as I see those two lines. I'm not even afraid of needing to stick a needle in my belly every day to try to lower the risk of loss.

What I'm afraid of is the part of me that doesn't believe to the point of peace that God's way is best.

There is absolutely nothing that can change about our circumstances just because my attitude wills it to. The dream of kids close in age, while I'm still obnoxiously young (that dream died a long time ago) and able to keep up is getting further and further away, and I'm here trying to understand and grasp God's dream in place of my own. You see, when I close my eyes, the walls of my imagination are still papered in those images I've carried since childhood. 4 babies. All close. Me being perfectly capable of handling it all. But as I close my eyes I see something that is not possible for me, and what I really want to see is the beautiful reality that God is unfolding for us.

But right now we are just at the bold edges of the tapestry. We haven't unrolled it to the point where things get intricate and beautiful and wild.

But I feel we are on the brink.

We are praying big prayers this year. We are believing God to do some incredible things with our lives, simply because we have asked Him to and we are willing to say "yes". If it doesn't play out as adventurous and fabulous in someone else's eyes, we don't care; for our hearts will know the wild adventure that we have gone on with our God.

So tonight, as I say a final farewell to diapers, I'm clinging to hope and praying for a heart that fully believes His way is better. More beautiful. More glorifying.

Because I would rather die than take any other way.

"For I know the thoughts and plans I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans  for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." -Jeremiah 29:11-13|AMP

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