Exploring Motherhood and Purpose

Dillon at the park about to go down the big slide. He loves it, even though he looks kind of alarmed. I promise.

To be honest with you, I wanted to write about exercise, about addictions, and why fitness models make it hard to live in the midst of those two things. But Monday, when I sat down to write, I couldn’t get anything out. All I kept thinking about was this conference I went to this past weekend, the hardships of the week before, and what I had been processing in regards to myself and this job of mothering I find myself doing daily.

Then, this morning, as I sat down to study the Bible, I read a verse that caused my head to spin (in a good way). And I decided to write about it – to write about motherhood and an aspect of it I have been struggling with recently. 

Now, before I share the head-spinning verse with you, I have to do some unpacking of the context so that the verse makes even the slightest amount of sense. (Please know that this “unpacking” does not do the passage justice, since Romans 9 is perhaps one of the most difficult passages of the entire Bible to understand and is full of all sorts of tension that must be balanced out using a whole group of other verses so that wrong conclusions aren’t drawn. All of that to say…go read it yourself and pick it apart and don’t rely upon my short summary below to adequately explain the whole thing. ALSO, if you find it offensive, email me or reach out in some other way, I’d love to discuss it with you.)

Okay? Okay.

In Romans 9, Paul (who once killed followers of Jesus Christ because of their faith) is explaining that there are some people on this earth that will become Christians and there are some that won’t – and that God is the creator of both of them. Not only this, but he foreknew ahead of time which ones would be and wouldn’t be Christians, and that he’s actually really purposeful in that. And, He’s still good and just in the whole thing, even though it’s all hard for us, as humans with limited knowledge, to understand – and in our lack of ability to fully understand we might look at God and think He is unjust, but He’s not because He is God and without Him we wouldn’t even be living or breathing so really He has the right to do whatever He pleases. (Again, please go read it, and wrestle with it…it’s a hard one…a really hard one on a lot of different levels.)

Then, in verse 21, Paul is continuing in this line of thought when he writes this:

“Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?”


Outside of trying to prove the point I mentioned above (that God has the right to do whatever He wants since He designed and created life itself), this verse says something quite amazing. It tells us that God created Christians for “special purposes” – for something outside of simply living in accordance with our own desires – outside of normalcy. He created us for something beyond the ordinary.

So why is this a big deal to me right now?

Because sometimes motherhood can feel ordinary. It only takes a couple of weeks of changing diapers and a few days of cutting up strawberries to realize that every day as a mom looks somewhat similar and, when your kid can’t even talk, you begin to wonder if you even have any purpose outside of hygiene, protection and food.

And, for me, even those purposes feel too small at times. (Even though we can all agree that hygiene, protection and food are all big deals, right?)

I mean, over the past few months I have really struggled with how to make this stay-at-home mom thing work. I have found my mind and heart to be so excited about different community organizations, the YMCA volleyball team I play on, the idea of what my counseling career might look like one day, and what I hope one of the ministries at our church turns into. I have found myself lusting after more time to work on these things, more time to write, more time to paint, and I have found myself less amused by the time I spend with my son at the park.

If I’m being really real with you, I would tell you that I’ve been missing the point, really.

Instead of realizing that my son is a HUGE part of the purpose I have been given, I have been thinking that my son gets in the way of the purposes I have been called to pursue.

I hesitate in writing this (and inside I HATE that I have been feeling this way) because the last thing I want to do is write something on the internet that will one day upset my son, but I write it because I know I’m not alone AND I know that the BIGGEST blessings in this life also come with challenges and that the challenges are rarely because of the blessing itself, but because of the heart and ugly places inside of the person/people receiving the blessing(s). (*See note below for more.)

And this is me. This is where I am. I haven’t been seeing things clearly. I’ve been buying a lie.

There is no doubt about it that the Lord has created me to engage in a lot of different activities outside of the home – I see it in my DNA, I see it when I read the Bible and am affirmed in different aspects of ministry, and I see it in the way the Lord has created my mind and what it is drawn to – and there is nothing wrong with that. I think all moms have differences in specific calling and giftedness. BUT right now, I am in a season of being a full-time stay-at-home mom, and that calling has tremendous purpose, even if I have a hard time seeing it sometimes. Even if I have a hard time feeling that way. 

Why? How?

Because regardless of where I am in this life, God is the potter and I am the clay (Isaiah 64:8), and that is good news because regardless of where I am, I have been created for “special purposes”. Because I am a Christian (by God’s unmerited favor alone – not because I am good enough, by any means), I have been created to bring glory to God – to point people to him, which is a really big deal (Isaiah 43:7; Matthew 5:16). 

So, if you find yourself in a similar place – at home with your little ones wondering if you’re making any real difference in their lives, if you’re at work doing a job you’re not crazy about or feel ungifted in, if you’re doing both, or if you’re somewhere else completely different but are still struggling with feeling purposeless – know you’re not alone.

And know that if you are a Christian, you do have a purpose EVEN if you don’t feel like you have one right now. You were made for “honorable use” (Romans 9:21, ESV). You were made for “special purposes” (Romans (9:21, NIV).

And that’s both incredibly simplistic and hard to comprehend all at the same time.

I didn’t make it up. It’s true, and it’s amazing. So, accept it and exhale. I know for sure I’ll be trying to do so.



*Please, please, please know I love my son beyond words can express. I love being his mom, and I feel incredibly blessed that I get the opportunity to call him my son – to even have a son, in fact. I’m not seeking to minimize that AT ALL and IN NO WAY is this post meant to communicate anything in the opposite direction. My intention is simply to be honest for the sake of encouraging those who might find themselves in a similar season. Sometimes it just feels nice to know you’re not alone, and sometimes, I feel the weird calling to expose my own sick heart and yucky-ness for the sake of promoting the universal fact of human brokenness, struggle and sin (It’s embarrassing sometimes, but it is what it is, I guess.) AND God’s grace in working through it all.




Year Five: Being Carried

On December 29th, the Mister and I celebrated five years of marriage.


For some reason, our five-year anniversary felt more momentous than previous ones.

As I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve decided it’s not because we are any more married than we were years one through four, or because we did something outrageously special to celebrate.

Not at all.

I think the occasion felt more special because over this year – really over the past few months – I’ve gotten a clearer picture of what marriage is and how its rich complexity truly does point back to the gospel.

It’s something I had been told by many before, but I think I had just boiled the truth down to the never-ending-unconditional-love-and-commitment thing in marriage, which is definitely a part of it, but this year I saw a new piece of the whole thing play out.

Obviously, a lot has happened over these past five years…

Year one, my husband was working 90-hours a week, we lived in Boston, I started working at a tech recruiting company that led to 12-hour days, we were “too busy” to be really connected to a local body of believers, we weren’t seeing each other (except for maybe a couple of hours in-between the hours of 2am and 7am), and, because schedules were unpredictable and we were rarely home at the same time, we ate out most every meal. Things were chaotic, and our marriage began to mirror that fact.

One year_2_low res

Eight months into marriage, we experienced the Boston Marathon Bombings and eventually moved to Midland, TX where we lived in my in-laws’ garage apartment. The Mister started a new job and I started grad school, and we had to figure out what to do with the mass amounts of time we had to spend with each other – something we had never possessed before. And it was far more challenging than we imagined it would be. We had less distractions, and therefore, our idols, personal struggles, and relational hardships seemed magnified.

Years two and three were filled with a move back to Massachusetts, grad school for both of us, an epic black mold situation which meant living in countless hotels and air B&Bs, an oil bust that changed our plans, my first internship in counseling, daily two hour commutes for me during the week, unforeseen medical issues, financial strain, and just generally A LOT of transitions, busyness, adjustments and circumstantial trials. (I wrote about it here.)

IMG_3664 copy 2

Year four consisted of getting pregnant, both of us graduating from grad school, more unforeseen health issues, moving back to Midland, buying our first house, my sister getting diagnosed with breast cancer, our U-Haul flooding, learning what it meant to pay off grad school debt, having a sweet sweet baby boy, and finding a church we loved. Many of these things were GREAT, and we felt extremely blessed, but in the midst of getting settled, we began to understand what getting settled really meant – it meant a slower pace, more free time, and less to think about – things I have a hard time handling well. 

Out of all of the years, this past year (year 5) felt circumstantially the easiest. We had a few minor house problems and we had a family-wide stomach bug, which was awful, but, honestly, it wasn’t a rough year at all…circumstantially. On a personal, inward reality, level however, it was a roller coaster. This past year, I found myself deeply struggling with God’s character – with questions surrounding who God was and is – and those questions resulted in some backsliding in my faith. (You can read more fully about my struggle here.) I became somewhat apathetic in my walk with Christ, and began to feel hopeless in God’s ability to help me. Self-reliance became my main coping mechanism – which manifested itself negatively in my marriage.

But, I ended up on the other side of it. I made it through. 

And a huge reason I did was because of my husband. In a way, he carried me through this past year. He was the one putting in all of the effort. He was the one pursuing me even though I was in the middle of a really ugly season. He was the one reminding me of truth when I couldn’t wrap my head around things, and he was the one who would patiently let me process and cry while trying to figure out where on earth I was. He was the one who pushed me to be honest with others, to pray, to seek God, and to continue to read my Bible even though it felt hard.

Obviously, all of his efforts were motivated and propelled by God himself, so the Lord truly deserves all of the glory, but still. This year, my husband carried me through.

And as we celebrated our anniversary Friday night, this is what we talked about.

There have been multiple times in our marriage when the personal trials faced felt too heavy for only one of us to carry alone, and, by God’s grace, in those times, God gave the other one the strength to help the one struggling. He gave the other the strength to support…to carry the one who needed to be carried.

As the recap above shows, we have experienced a lot in five years. We’ve walked through a lot of incredible highs and some pretty significant lows. And, in so doing, we’ve both carried the other at times, but this year, after a season of being so selflessly carried by my husband, I find myself incredibly thankful – not only for my husband and marriage, but for Christ and the way He has carried me through this life.

I can’t carry myself. No matter how “good” I try to be, it won’t be good enough because the standard is perfection, and perfect I am not. But Jesus, being fully man and fully God, was able to live a perfect life – he was able to be “good” enough because he was the only man who was ever truly and purely good in nature – and when He died He willingly died for the sins/imperfections of humanity. He took humanity’s sins upon himself and bled, offering himself up as the perfect sacrifice needed to redeem mankind from their sin and the death their sin would eventually lead to. And then he rose from the dead three days later to point to the fact that because He has power over the grave, He is the giver of life – and He longs to resurrect the lives of those who trust in Him.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23

In the midst of bad decisions and a lot of straying in high school, He carried me safely back to himself. Before I even knew what was going on, He picked me up and relentlessly pursued me. As He carried me, He encouraged me and reminded me of truth, and He put people in my life who would do the same. He carried me to himself and into a relationship with Him where He continued to carry me – and support me – every day.

Because of Jesus’ death, my imperfect self has been redeemed, and, because of his resurrection, I have been given a new life – a life still marked by struggle, but a life of purpose when things seem purposeless, of joy in the midst of deep trial, of hope when all seems lost, and love even when I don’t feel lovely or when I don’t “feel” like loving others.

God carried me to the point of experiencing God’s grace years ago, and He carried me this past year – and He allowed my husband to partner with Him in that so that I might see the beauty of God’s grace play out in my own marriage. 

I’m not sure where you are in your life. You may be married, dating, single, or in-between any of those categories, but if you’re feeling alone or weary, may you find rest on the shoulders of Jesus.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30

What Kacey Musgraves (and a Few Other Things) Taught me about Motherhood

What Kacey Musgraves (and a Few Other Things) Taught me about Motherhood

On November 15th, our little guy turned one…



All pictures taken by Kaylea Gaines

As many of you know, I was quite nervous about being a mom. In many ways, I didn’t feel equipped to be in charge of a little life, and I felt pretty unprepared. (You can read all about it here.) I was scared I wasn’t going to be nurturing enough, that I wasn’t going to know what to do, and that I would somehow break the valuable gift of life that had been given to the Mister and me.

Well, I’m over a year in, and I’m happy to report that we made it through just fine! There were definitely some months and some things that felt harder than others, but I can’t express enough how big of a blessing this last year has been. I am truly grateful for the gift of being a mom.

Now that our little guy’s festivities and Thanksgiving are over, I’ve been reflecting a lot upon what it means to be a mom and what I have learned since being one.

So, here you go! Here are five of the top things I have learned since being a mom. And, just so you know, some of them are sentimental and some of them are not.

[ONE: It’s actually hard to not post pictures of your kids every two seconds.]

Major confession here: I used to judge others regarding the amount of pictures they posted of their kids. I mean, I thought their kids were cute, but did I really need to see eighty pictures of them a day?

Please forgive me because I now know that it is HARD (like really hard) not to.

I mean staring at the cutest thing you have ever seen in your life and watching that thing do incredible things like sleep and slobber for twenty minutes straight is unbearably precious at times – and the things that seem like nothing to other people are special and significant things to you, so you just have to share them with the world.

It’s just the way it is.

And the upside is you’ll have a pretty good account of what your kid’s future spouse or our future president was like at every month of his or her life. So, soak it in. Appreciate the luxury.

[TWO: The “Mom’s Club” is a vocal and complex club, but it can be beautiful.]

This one has probably been one of the most comical, most frustrating, and most mind-boggling lessons I have had to learn as a new mom. And it, too, has been a major area in which the Lord has worked on my judgmental heart.

In case you didn’t know it, there are a lot of personalities and passions in the Mom’s Club.

I mean, you have the anti-vaxers, the pro-vaxers, the oily moms, the chemical-free moms (they might smell like vinegar), the chemical-happy moms (they might smell like clorox), the rigid schedule followers, those who don’t even know what a schedule is, the moms who think other moms shouldn’t work, the moms who think the moms that don’t work should, the a-dirty-home-is-a-fun-home moms, the clean-home-is-next-to-Godliness-home mom, the cry-it-outs, the never-let-them-cry-it-outs, the smockers (which typically also appreciate monogramming), the moms who let their kids wear pjs all day, the all-organic moms, and the all-processed moms. You also have the never-leave-my-kid-overnight moms, the happily-leave-my-kid-overnight moms, the it’s-a-sin-to-not-breastfeed moms, the moms who use formula, the pro-media moms, and the anti-media moms.

And everything in-between.

At first, I was startled by all of the options…all of the “you shoulds or shouldn’ts.” I mean, some of these things obviously don’t matter, right? But in this club, they do – even if the obvious importance to the person is only found in a small eye roll or a passive aggressive comment when you do, or mention someone who does, something differently. Every mom has landed where they have landed for a reason – because that’s how they believe it should be done – and therefore emotions and opinions run high.

So, enter Kacey Musgraves.

In her song “Biscuits” she sings a little diddy (edited because I can’t personally promote everything she’s going for here), and it’s helped me a great bit in this area:

“So ho​e your own row, yeah, and raise your own babies
[Soak your own oak] and grow your own daisies
Mend your own fences and own your own crazy
Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy.”

Obviously, as a Christian, I believe in community, so I’m not saying I learned to isolate myself from others for the sake of doing what I want to do. Not at all! What I’m saying is I learned that some things – some opinions – just really don’t matter and that there’s room under the cross to do things differently. In application, this means that it is my job to parent my kid to the best of my ability and to pray for the Lord’s help in that, and to stay focused on those things (as hard as this is sometimes). I fall into and in-between many of the categories listed above and that’s okay, but if my opinions get in the way of me loving someone else, or if they lead me to roll my eyes and judge others, then I’m missing the point of the mom’s club – and I’m helping to turn it into something ugly. I’m turning it into something it was never intended to be. The mom’s club has the potential to be a beautiful and mutually uplifting community…and I have an important role to play in that.

[THREE: Friends don’t let friends parent alone.] 

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s true.

From questions…

“What if my kid always has his days and nights confused?…We are going crazy. How am I supposed to do this sleep schedule thing? I’m still feeling so anxious about things…Did you ever feel this way? Will you pray for me? The woman at BSF is telling me that I need to put shoes on my son, but he takes them off when I put them on and now I feel bad about myself..Help?”

To situations…

“Let me come over and hold him while you get stuff done. Can I just come over and hang out with you while you stare at your baby? Can I clean your kitchen? Would Dillon like to borrow this truck since he doesn’t have one? I know our kids aren’t close in age, which will make a play date hard, but want to come over anyways? Want to get lunch? Can I watch Dillon while you study for your exam?”

I saw my friends be sacrificial in ways that have spurred me on and challenged me to be more sacrificial in the way I love and serve others in the future – especially the worn-out-sleep-deprived-utterly-confused first-time mom.

So, if that’s you. Hit me up.

[FOUR: Balance is important – but hard to achieve.] 

Before our son was born, the Mister and I plotted out a grand list of tangible ways we could prioritize our marriage and still maintain a relationship with each other in the midst of being parents. This list included working out together, having a date night every other week, and taking a trip – just us two alone or with friends – every three months. The plan was good, we both felt confident that we could keep it going, and when our son was born I began pumping so that we could make the plan happen.


I soon realized that emotionally and practically it was a different ball game.

My son was cute, I loved him, I felt extremely attached to him, and I wanted him to feel attached to me. Nursing was harder than expected, and it took a lot of pumping to get what was needed for trips away….and then there’s the mental component.

“What if something happened while we were gone? What if we die? How risky does this trip feel? What about our will? Who should we have parent him if something were to happen to us? Okay…we can go on this date, but we have to be home at this exact time because he’s going to get hungry. Every time I leave I feel like he gets sick. He’s still not sleeping through the night, which feels burdensome for others…should we still go to Vegas? A dinner date sounds good, but maybe I’d rather sleep.”

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting to half-way dread trips away (this feeling only lasted until I was actually on the trip, of course). I wasn’t expecting to cry when I left my son. And I definitely wasn’t expecting to bail on one of the trips I was looking forward to the most – which I did.

I think I expected my values – the idea that it was important for me and the Mister to have a life with each other that didn’t revolve solely around our son – to kick in without a hiccup, but I soon realized that prioritizing one very important thing over another very important thing takes sacrifice and, therefore, it isn’t easy.


But it’s so worth it. Marriage is a gift, but it’s a gift that takes time, effort, vulnerability, sacrifice, nourishing, and a lot of other things. And it needs to be nurtured…even in the midst of parenthood…as hard as that feels sometimes.

Balance isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. After this year, I can definitely say that.

[FIVE: You should work hard to cherish every moment, but don’t beat yourself up when you don’t.] 

Being a parent is hard. Every baby is different and everyone handles life’s stressors in different ways, but being a parent has its hard seasons regardless. It’s just part of the deal…or so I hear. At the same time, being a parent is also a tremendous blessing that not every single person gets to experience. And, this year, I’ve learned that being a mom means balancing these two realities all of the time.

And I think this is why the most common advice you will receive as a new mom is, “Cherish it. It goes by quickly.”

Honestly, as I reflect upon this past year, I feel as though I have worked hard to cherish it. In fact, I would say, I have cherished it most moments, but there are days when it just feels difficult. Now don’t get me wrong, these days aren’t difficult because I have a bad kid – my kid is actually super easy (praise the Lord). The days are just difficult because they are…and the deep-rooted, specific reasons are probably different for every mom. But I think what makes these days especially hard is the fact that you know that you “should be” cherishing them.  

For me, it typically goes like this.

I didn’t sleep well the night before, then the dishwasher breaks and I have a stack of dishes in the sink (which, for whatever reason, always makes me feel irritable), and I have to do the dishes but I can’t because I need to play with my son who can’t play by himself and then one thing leads to another, and I have a bad attitude and wish I was doing something else….

THEN it happens…

I’m scrolling through Instagram, and I see a post from a member of the Mom’s Club telling me to “cherish every moment”. And I think, “Crap.” Then I think, “I know. I know that it goes by quickly, and that it’s a gift, and I HATE that I’m not cherishing this moment right now. Thanks for the reminder…GRRRR.” And I immediately feel bad about myself and my attitude.

So, let me tell you this: It’s real life, and NO ONE in real life cherishes every moment….even the mom on Instagram who tells you to do so.

So, this year I’ve learned to have grace for myself. I should definitely try…like really try…to cherish every moment and I should pray when things get ugly in my heart, when I start to feel discontent and bored, but, because I’m human and because I’m imperfect, I won’t be able to do it all of the time. I just won’t. And, in those moments, God is still there and I can rejoice in the fact that his mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). In fact, He is able to give me mercy to get through the next minute, if I just rely upon Him…if I just let Him.  

So, I guess you could say I’ve reached these conclusions: post pictures of your babies, rejoice in differences (regardless of what people smell like or what people eat), find some new mom to love on, fight for balance, and give yourself grace.

Cheers to learning together.

When You’re About to be a Parent, and You’re a Little Scared.

I’m officially 39-and-a-half weeks pregnant, which feels…weird.

I think some girls grow up dreaming of the day when they will be a mom. Some of these girls even practice their skills early by playing with baby dolls. They nurture them, feed them, change their diapers, and sing them bedtime songs. They name them cute little baby names, walk them around in strollers, burp them and swaddle them in pastel-colored blankets.

Picture from maternity shoot at 33-ish weeks pregnant. Photo credit to Brittany Strebeck Photography

I wasn’t one of those little girls.

As a little girl, all I wanted to be was a country music singer. Being a mom, at the time, seemed so boring, and way too normal, and the way I played with dolls followed suit. All of my baby dolls, through the art of imagination, were instantly turned into adults. I gave them adult haircuts (if they had hair), and gave them all occupations (most of which involved the music industry). They all had various relationships and interests, and, for the most part, were all given robust personalities.

They didn’t need to be nurtured. They weren’t babies. 

As I got older, and began watching TV shows, I remember liking the parenting style of Lorelai Gilmore, and I decided that if I was going to be a mom, I would like to be a hip, young one like her. The problem is, as I watched the show in later years, I realized that what I truly wanted was a daughter who liked to do and talk about the same things as me. I wanted a best friend. This, unfortunately, is probably not the best motivation for having a kid.

So why am I telling you all of this? Simply because I think this is part of the reason why being 39-and-a-half weeks pregnant feels weird – and really scary at times. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am SO happy that I’m pregnant. I believe children are a blessing, and I am SO thrilled that I get to experience being a mom (and am equally as thrilled to see my husband be a dad). I’m SO excited to get to know our little guy’s personality, watch him grow, and take a very active part in his development. However, this doesn’t change the fact that I’m a little scared. Give me a kid that I can reason and talk with, and I’ll be pretty comfortable, but what am I supposed to do with a baby?

Oh boy.

Over these past 39-and-a-half weeks, I’ve had a lot of time to think about the situation I am in – and I’ve had a lot of opportunities to pray. Every time I pray, it seems as though God reminds me of three important things that have tremendously helped me exhale in the midst of anxiety (I promise this post will come full-circle, just give it time):

Number One: God has already numbered the hairs on our little guy’s head (Luke 12:6-7).

For the first 8 months of pregnancy I was extremely nervous that something was going to happen to our baby boy in the womb, and this truth greatly calmed my nerves. You see, God created this little boy in my belly (sure, he used the mister and I in this event, too), and in this process, God intricately pieced together his frame and decided which genes would collide to create his very personal DNA (Psalm 139:13-16). The fact that God knows the number of hairs on his head points to the fact that God cares about our baby. Knowing God cares about him, helps me let go of all of the “what ifs.” There’s so much that happens in the womb – so much I can’t see. This truth allows me to exhale and rest in the fact that God knows him, and he’s watching over him when I can’t fully.

Number Two: Our baby boy is more God’s than he is ours (Colossians 1:15-17).

I have several friends who have experienced the deep sorrow of miscarriage. Some of my friends have even had to deliver babies stillborn. Throughout my pregnancy, these stories have haunted me. They have filled me with fear and have caused me to question how I would respond if God allowed us to experience the same thing. Ultimately, however, I know that our baby is more God’s than he is ours. If God is over our lives, if God is the one who allows our lungs to take in air, if God is the one who keeps our hearts beating, then he is most definitely over the life of the baby in my womb. If God allows for our baby to die, then I have to trust that God knows what he’s doing – even if it hurts and even if I don’t understand why. God loves our baby boy more than the Mister and I ever could, and this is a wonderful truth.

Number Three: I’m not created to do this alone.

This one brings me back to the beginning of this post (finally). I still have a lot of fears. To be honest, I am kind of scared to be alone at home with a baby for an extended period of time. Sure, part of this fear is linked to the fact that babies are delicate and I could easily do something wrong, but, more than that, my fear is rooted in my tendency to become easily bored and my desire to always be doing something outside of the home. As I said earlier, I wasn’t a kid who dreamed of being a mom – and I most defiantly never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. My mom worked full-time, most of my friend’s mom’s worked full-time, and I wanted to work full-time. It was that simple. However, when I thought through things a few years ago, I decided that although I WANT to work full-time (that would still be the easiest path for me personality wise), I would probably only work part-time while our kids are really young. And, truthfully, this decision kind of terrifies me. I’m scared being at home with a baby is going to make me depressed. I’m scared it’s going to continually make me feel drained, and I’m scared I’ll grow to be ineffective in the out-of-home world.

BUT the truth is, I’m not alone in any of it. 

There are going to be hard days, days when I want to scream, and days when I might have to break away for some “me” time, but ultimately, I’m not alone in it. The Lord says that he will continually guide me (Psalm 31:3; Proverbs 3:5-6), that He is the vine, my source of nourishment and life (John 15:5), and that he knows my situation fully (Psalm 139:2). There is no way I can be the mom I want to be by myself. I’m not as independent as I think I am. I desperately need Him. 

I know my story isn’t unique. I know there are others out there like me. If you’re one of those people, take heart. God is a good, He loves you, He knows what he’s doing, and He will walk with you through it all. Exhale and be comforted.

(Disclaimer: Whether a mom decides to work full-time, part-time, or stay at home with her kids is a very personal decision. No part of this post is meant to say that one way is better than the other – nor do I think the bible gives us enough to go on for any stay-at-home v. don’t-stay-at-home position. Okay…sorry. Pet peeve moment. I’m done.)

Those Dang Hills. Three Year Reflection.

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Photo creds to my awesome mom.

On December 29th, the Mister and I celebrated 3 years of marriage.

I have always found it helpful to imagine life as though it were the never-ending training grounds for a marathon. I know this sounds weird, but just hang with me for a bit. As I run through life, there are easier moments, those moments on flat and smooth ground, and then there are moments that are dreadfully difficult, when it takes all that I have and all that I don’t have to persevere. I like to call those moments “the hills,” and my theory is that I grow when I run them. Although my life is easier and more enjoyable when I’m running the flat land, I know it’s the hills that make me a stronger “athlete.”

I think you get my point.

When I got married, I thought marriage was going to be easy. Obviously, I figured the Mister and I would fight and get in disagreements, but overall, I thought it was going to be this magical land of never-ending movie nights, flowers, fun trips, and exciting dates. When I envisioned married life, I never really thought about the big decisions, the struggle for work/life balance, or the bills. Others had told me to set realistic expectations, and I thought I understood, but I really didn’t “get it” until I got into it. Overall, I thought marriage was going to be flat land. I thought it was going to be a light jog with an easy breeze in my face.

Over the past few years, the Mister and I have faced a lot of hills.

When we first got married, I had to sorrowfully learn that marriage was not all about me. It was not about how well I was being pursued, or how I felt, or what I wanted to do. That was a hard hill to run up, and I’m pretty sure I got upset more than a few times. Eight months into marriage, I learned that the unexpected can happen, and sometimes doing the right and healthy thing means giving up worldly wealth and “success.” That hill was interesting, and perhaps one of the most trying for us as a couple. Moving across the country three times in two years was also challenging, and I lost my breath multiple times in the process.

We have even had a lot of hills this past year. We’ve had unexpected surgeries, a tuberculosis scare (false alarm), an epic black mold battle, multiple situations which have caused us to re-evaluate plans we thought were certain, and health issues which have made us press pause on some things we hoped to be able to do.

I’m not sure anyone anywhere enjoys “the hills” of life, but I have to tell you, this year I’ve been extremely grateful for them.

This year I have seen the fruits of past hills and have seen the beauty in the present ones. I have seen how our communication has improved; how we both have grown in humility and in our readiness to seek and offer forgiveness. I have seen our appreciation for one another expand encompassing the parts of each other we used to find annoying, and I’ve seen us grow in our support of each other as we have had to make difficult decisions. Although we have both had our not-so-pretty moments, I have seen us let go of control knowing that we are not responsible for who the other person is. All we can do is love each other – care, support, encourage, serve, pray for, and delight in each other – and work on ourselves along the way. Most of all, we have both grown in our recognition that we cannot run through life, and live the way we want to, on our own. We have both come to realize that in order to have the marriage we want, we need help. We can’t do it on our own. We need community, we need each other, and, most of all, we need the Lord. Only He can change our stubborn hearts. And He continually offers us grace.

I’ve been running hills my entire life. I’m pretty sure we all have.

The funny thing is, as much as I hate the hills, each hill leads to another hill. As soon as I get over one hill, I can expect to experience another hill over the horizon. In fact, the way I face the hill in front of me helps to determine the hills I will face in the future.

There have been times in my past when I’ve wanted to take the easier route. I’ve wanted to take the side road instead of the hill. I’ve wanted to take the flat lands.

For example, in college, I was tempted to enter into a relationship with someone that was not right for me. My desire to be in a relationship was strong, for I craved the comfort that came along with having a boyfriend, and I liked the guy a lot, which made the decision even harder. However, instead of taking the easy route, I took the hill. I talked to my friends about it, and by God’s grace chose to remain single. (Believe me when I say, there were plenty of times I took the easier route…plenty of times…but I figured I needed to supply you with an example of the opposite.)

The hills typically suck.

Running the hills this year has not been any more fun than running the hills I faced in the past, but this year, more than any other year of our marriage, I have been thankful for the opportunity to run them with my husband. Our marriage looks differently than it did year one. We have had a few things taken away from us, and we have had to give up many of our hobbies because of health issues, but in the midst of it all, we have been able to bank on God’s love for us and His purpose in our lives. We’ve been able to rely on our mutual desire to serve God and grow in Him. We’ve been able to rejoice in our imperfections, for it has reminded us of our never-ending dependence upon our Creator. By God’s grace we have learned to love each other more and have grown in the way we express it.

I guess what I’m saying is this: The hills are awful, but I have come to believe that they are worth it.

It is worth the sweat. It is worth the tears. And it is worth the struggle. Lace up your tennis shoes, stay hydrated, and don’t give up.

I’m not sure what hills the Mister and I will have to face in the future, but I know that our marriage is stronger today because of the hills we have faced in the past. Although I wish we did not have to face some of the hills we faced, I am thankful.

“I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” – Psalm 121:1

Gratitude: Childhood Homes and God’s Faithfulness

Gratitude: Childhood Homes and God’s Faithfulness
Me in front of my childhood home. Please excuse my tired face – a late night T-Swift concert and an early morning flight back to Boston don’t mix well!

For the past seven days, I’ve been trying to write this dang post.

So many thoughts have been swirling around in my mind, and I swear I’ve written multiple paragraphs just to erase them. I’ve gotten frustrated, I’ve gotten sad, and I’ve gotten super sentimental, but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t find my words and none of my thoughts seemed to fit together. (If you’re asking yourself why I put so much thought and energy into something I don’t get paid for, just don’t. I agree with you…and I don’t know why.)

A few days ago, I was driving home from school, and a song came over the radio. It was a song I had sang multiple times before, but for some reason, the words nearly moved me to tears. I turned up the radio, closed my eyes (don’t worry, at this point I was parked in the driveway), and sang at the top of my lungs.

“Christ alone; Cornerstone. Weak made strong, in the Savior’s love. Through the storm, He is Lord; Lord of all.”

Oh…it is so true.

A few weeks ago, I said goodbye to my childhood home. Before walking out of its doors for the last time, I sat in “my” closet and reflected on my life. I thought about the day we moved in, and my first night in “my” bedroom. I remember waking up confused as to where I was, but then suddenly distracted by the need to find animal shapes within the texturing of the walls.

I was seven.

I thought about “my” neighbors. The ones we shared a fence with constantly saw my little-kid face peeking over in hopes of a conversation. The other neighbors, the ones on the right, basically adopted me as their own. They taught me how to drive in snow, helped me wrap Christmas presents, and allowed me to hang out at their place whenever I got bored. They spent holidays with us, and we did so with them.

I thought about my family. How I used to sleep in a sleeping bag on my big sister’s floor at night just so that I could be near her (or because I was scared or something). I idolized her when I was little. I thought about all of the backyard games I played with my dad, and all of the times I made cinnamon rolls in the kitchen with my grandma. I thought about shopping trips and concerts with my mom, and of course…I thought about all of the times I got in trouble and was forced to do manual labor. (I mean, I’m basically the reason why the house is still standing. Your welcome, dad!)

I thought about my friends. I thought about my life-long friend K-pomp and how we liked to play a little game called “NUR” in the hallways of the house. (My parents still don’t know what the game consists of, nor will they ever.) Whether it was building high school floats in the garage, planning high school pranks, staying up all night long for sleepovers, or organizing various clubs, the house seemed to stand for openness and friendship. In fact, sometimes it felt like a hotel. My sister’s friends were always living with us.

Lastly, I thought about my life.

In “my” closet there was a stack of journals dating back from middle school and continuing on through my post-college life. I flipped through them and found all sorts of interesting things such as song lyrics, fictional writings, poems, and, most importantly, pages and pages of contemplations regarding theology and the various circumstances I had walked through. It was fascinating.

There were times in my life when I doubted my ability to ever be “ok” again. There were times of extreme heartbreak, overwhelming confusion, inner chaos, and mind-blowing loss. There were also times of pure joy, utmost excitement, and abundant peace.

But through it all, God was faithful.

During the times of forgetting who I was in high school, He was there. During the bad breakup, He was there. During the loss, He was there. And He knew where I was, too. He knew I was confused and insecure. He knew I was sad, and He knew I was doubting. He knew I wanted anything but what it was that I was going through.

But, He didn’t take me out of those situations immediately.

Instead, He let me wrestle, He let me cry, He let mourn, and He let question Him. He let me come to him with nothing but my confusion and brokenness to offer.

And I’m thankful for it. For in Him, I found a God who is loving, forgiving, life-giving, and faithful. And without the hard moments, I’m not sure I would have ever known God or myself the way that I do today.

He is faithful. He has been working since the beginning of my life to bring me closer to Him – to allow me to fall deeper in love with who He is. Sometimes it has sucked. It has meant awkward conversations of confessing faults and asking for forgiveness. It has meant ending relationships that have been gut-wrenchingly hard to end. It has meant telling myself the truth and being honest with others when all I wanted to do was run and hide. It’s meant giving up some things that I thought I really wanted – and some things that I thought I needed.

But good gosh…I’m SO thankful.

Although I wish I didn’t have to learn some of the things I learned the way that I learned them – I still learned. And, today, I’m filled with gratitude over the fact that God loves me enough to teach me things.
For, a God who loves us is a God who loves us enough to not give us everything we think we need or everything we desperately want. A God who truly loves us is a God who gives us what’s best for us even if we get mad and go down fighting. I mean, if He didn’t love us, He simply wouldn’t care. He’d let us do whatever we want regardless of the consequences to ourselves or others. He wouldn’t work on our character or the innermost parts of our being. He’d let us become whoever we want to become, even if it wasn’t our best.

Life seems to be this ever-changing, always revolving, memory making thing. Some days it feels easy and smooth, where as other days it can feel like the Texas Giant. (If you’ve ever ridden it before, you know what I’m talking about…it’s brutal.) We can’t know all of the answers to why things happen the way they do, and sometimes things simply don’t make sense to us. Through it all, however, we can hold onto the fact that God knows. He knows where we are, and He knows what He’s doing.

He’s faithful. And He loves us.

Today, I’m 29.

My life is far from figured out, and I’m sure it will always have its hard moments. I might continue to struggle with things that I’ve struggled with for years, and I’m sure there will be times of confusion, but may this serve as a reminder to myself that God is faithful. He knows what’s up. He’s for me, and He loves me. He gives strength to the weak, life to the dead, and peace in the midst of the storm.

“And leaving the crowd, they took Him with them in the boat…And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was great calm…And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’” – Mark 4:35-41

Boston (or Cambridge) Bound and the Fear of Changed Plans

Tomorrow afternoon, the mister and I will embark on our journey to our new home in Massachusetts.

This round (as many of you know we moved from Boston to Midland, TX just about a year ago), we will both be doing the grad school thing. He’ll be at a school in Cambridge getting is MBA, and I’ll be attending a school in South Hamilton working on my Master’s in Counseling. I’m expecting it will be quite the experience for us both!

Although I am super excited to see old friends, have our own place, and experience a new and different phase of life, the whole process has caused me a great deal of anxiety and fear.

You see, none of this is what I had planned.

Some of you might remember the details surrounding our move to Midland and how random and out of the box it was. You may also remember that I spent a lot of time reflecting upon the fact that sometimes our plans and the Lord’s don’t quite align.

Well… I’m in the same ballpark, but this time, the game seems more difficult. It’s on a much larger scale.

Don’t worry. I’ll explain…

In high school, I dreamed of being a young mom. I wanted to get married and do all of that jazz first, but I wanted to be a young mom. You know, like Lorelai from Gilmore Girls. It was going to be awesome. I would have a daughter like Rory, and since I was so young, she would find me relatable and her friends would like me. Our house would be the place they would hang out, and if any of them needed advice, I would be there. Pure bliss, eh?

When I moved to Nashville my freshman year of college, I decided that I didn’t want to be 11 hours away from my family. I loved my friends there, and loved the city itself, but it was just too far. For that reason, and a couple of others, I made my way to Texas Tech that next year. The people in Lubbock were great, but I soon (like within a week) decided that I never wanted to live in West Texas. It was too dry, too windy, and way too conservative.

As soon as I graduated, I headed back to Dallas and settled into life there. My family was close, I was able to interact weekly with my sister and her four kids, I loved my church, and the community was rich. Two of my best friends from college even moved close by. I had no plans of leaving. I was quite content.

When Caleb and I moved to Boston in January of 2013, I knew it was going to be a four-year stint. Caleb would finish up his job at Bain Capital, wrap up grad school, and then we would be Dallas bound. Maybe we would even have kids up there, and I would still have a shot at being a young mom (well, kind of). I would raise my kids next to my sister and our kids would play together. It would be a blast! I mean, what kids wouldn’t love hanging out with us all day? Duh! (Note the sarcasm there.)

I had it all planned out.

Proverbs 19:21 reads, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

Today, I sit here as a 28-year-old grad student with a husband in the Oil and Gas Industry. In other words, I’m no longer “young mom” material, life is going to be too crazy to have kids in the next two years, and it looks like Dallas is out of the question…at least for a little while.

My plan has officially been derailed.

“Get over it,” you may say. “There are people in the world that don’t even have clean water to drink, and people are being martyred for their faith in Israel. Haven’t you heard?”

I have, and I hate that I’m struggling with something so small in comparison to those things, but I am. I’m struggling to surrender my plan, to hand it over, and to trust God. I mean, come on! My plans for Dallas weren’t bad. In fact, I had every intention of glorifying the Lord with every step. What’s wrong with that?!

Yesterday morning, I was reading in Mark 4. The scene takes place when Jesus is on a boat with his disciples in the middle of the night:

“And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling [with water]. But he (Jesus) was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘ Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’”

– Mark 4:37-41

I exhaled.

Trusting God seems like it should be easy. I mean, after all, He’s good, knows and controls everything, and loves me beyond my wildest imagination, but sometimes, I just forget to do it. I start focusing on the details of a situation – my fears, anxiety and all of the things I wish were different – and I forget that He sees all of it – and He uses everything to grow me and make me more and more into the person he created me to be (Romans 8:28-30). He’s in control and if he wants me somewhere different, he can move me. He knows what he’s doing. If it means having “kid one” at the age of 30, living in Midland, Africa, or Cambridge, or doing something crazy like selling everything we own, he’s got us. In him I have hope. He can be trusted.

The truth is, having a kid (or adopting) at 30 is probably the best for us. It’s not what I had planned, but I think it makes the most sense. We will have more time and more resources to run a stable home.

Also, Midland isn’t so bad. Some of our coolest friends live here in Midland. They are so cool it pains me to leave them for two years. (I guess sometimes you just want the best of both worlds.) We have family here, and the mister has a great job to come back to.

It’s all going to be okay.

I don’t know where you are, or what you’re struggling with. It may be something big, or small, but believe me; you’re not weak for struggling. We all have things we have to work through and all that counts is that you’re working and not giving up. Trust God. He’s got you. He is your help in time of need. He hears you, sees you, and loves you. Talk to him.

Sometimes things don’t work out how you want them to, and you just have to trust God and roll with it. I’m working on it!

You Knew this Day Long before You Made Me out of Dirt – Life at 28

Yesterday at 3:06pm I turned 28.

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Photo creds to the talented Grace Weatherl

To be honest with you, the age feels weird.

TEN years ago I was 18.

Ten years ago, I had just started growing in my walk with the Lord. Ten years ago, I wanted to conquer the music business world through expert marketing skills and change the way Country musicians were promoted. Ten years ago, I never wore the same outfit twice (or tried not to). Ten years ago, I listened to Ashlee Simpson. Ten years ago, I continually argued with my parents about how messy my room was…

Amazing how a little time and divine intervention change things.

Anyways, over the past week, I’ve been trying to figure out what my big “take-away” was from this past year. Sunday I couldn’t even focus on the sermon because I was trying to figure it out, and all day Tuesday, I thought about it without any success. I just couldn’t seem to land on ONE “thing” – one lesson or experience – that shaped the entire year.

You see, this year has been one of the most challenging years of my life.

From our move to Midland and the dynamics of changing friendships, to a growing marriage and plotting out our future plans, it’s been somewhat of a high-speed helicopter ride. All I could do was look out the front window and wonder what was going to happen next.
Although the lessons were many and the growth was great, I couldn’t think of one “thing” that really marked the year.

Then bedtime came.

Wednesday night, the mister and I were lying in bed seeking to watch one of my favorite TV shows on my computer when the Internet failed. Totally bummed, I started flipping through my iTunes catalog, when I stopped at a song called “Table for Two” by Caedmon’s Call.

It’s almost as if I had totally forgotten it had ever existed.

I pressed play, and the mister and I listened to it.

The song had served as a refuge for me in my post-college, young-adult life. On the good days, I listened to something with the banjo in it, but on the rough ones, it was always “Table for Two.” I can remember listening to its words after a hard day at work, a break up, or in the middle of feeling utterly lost in my life. I sang its words out loud on days of confusion and loneliness, and wrestled with God on what He was going to do with my future. I used the song as a reminder that I could trust God, and that He knew what He was doing – even though sometimes I had a hard time believing it.

As the mister and I listened to the song, my heart rejoiced.

The future I so deeply worried about, I was now in.

I have a husband that loves the Lord with such strength and integrity that it inspires me daily. He loves me with an underserved faithfulness, even when I’m hard to deal with. He longs to see me grow and use the talents the Lord has given me – and he even sacrifices to make it happen. Even though it’s not always easy, and we are far from perfect, we make a good team and I can’t imagine life without him in it. On top of that, I have wonderful friends and a great family on both sides. I have a roof over my head and food to eat. My body functions, and my mind works.

I exhaled. I had found my “thing.”

As I continued to thank the Lord, I remembered that his faithfulness has nothing to do with me. Even if I was still single and in a job I wasn’t crazy about, He would still be faithful. That’s just who He is. He knows what we all need and where we are all going, and if we only trust Him, he will lead us the right way. He promises life and goodness to those who put their faith in him, but not a life marked by expensive possessions or favorable circumstances, but a life that’s rich in things that last forever. He is faithful to grow us and is mighty in the way he loves us.

Although I am grateful for the ways in which God has moved in my life and am comforted by the things he has supplied, my hope cannot be placed in them. He is the only thing that’s certain. The King of the world loves me. He is faithful – and he can be trusted.

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” – Psalm 9:10

That, my friends, is amazing.

“This day’s been crazy, but everything’s happened on schedule,
From the rain and the cold, to the drink that I spilt on my shirt.
‘Cause you knew ho you’d save me before I fell dead in the garden,
And you knew this day long before you made me out of dirt.
And you know the plans that you have for me.
And you can’t plan the end and not plan the means.
And so I suppose I just need some peace,
To get me to sleep.” – Caedmons Call, “Table for Two” 


Five Lessons I Learned from One Year of Marriage (That I Should have Learned a LONG Time Ago)

One month ago today, the mister and I celebrated our one-year anniversary.

December 29th, 2012 (Geoff Duncan Photography)

As one can expect, living with someone of the opposite sex for the first time can be quite an experience, and as I’ve been doing some reflecting, I’ve been amazed at all of the things I have learned. To be honest, picking what to write about is quite hard, for I feel as though there are many options.

For example, I could tell you about how the things you simply don’t care about (the ‘fluffiness’ of your pancakes) might really matter to someone else (like, your spouse), how the movies you think are absolutely amazing (“March of the Penguins”) may not be of any interest to other people (like…your spouse), or how coming up with other ways to describe household items (like a duvet cover or a Crock-Pot liner) may be needed to help someone else (yep…your spouse) know what you’re talking about.

The list could go on and on.

However, if I had to narrow everything down, I would say there are five main lessons I’ve learned in my first year of marriage. The funny thing is, I think these lessons apply to life outside of marriage, too. In fact, I wish I had put them into practice more as a single person.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to share them with you.

Here are the 5 biggest things I have learned in one year of marriage that I should have learned (or practiced more) while I was single:

1. You can only be responsible for you.

Now before you start thinking that I’ve gone off on some “Mrs. Independent-only-think-about-yourself train,” let me reassure you that I haven’t. What I’m talking about here is the concept that in conflict, and in life, we can’t control or change anyone except for our self.  Or, in other words, only God can change hearts, and we’re missing the point if we’re focused on what He needs to do in another person’s heart and not on what He needs to do in our own.

In conflict, this plays out when you die to yourself, own your own faults, ask for forgiveness, and do your best to reconcile things, even if the other person is unapologetic or uninterested in the examination of their own behavior. It’s looking inside of yourself and praying for clarity on the places in your heart that are in desperate need of God’s touch – and admitting them. (See Matthew 7:3.)

In action, it’s not doing what you feel like you can do because the other person did something that you feel justifies your response. It’s choosing to not seek revenge or have a hard heart. It’s choosing to use gentle words to explain your case, even if the other person is not. It’s responding rightly, even when it’s hard. (And for me, it’s always hard.)

It’s saying, “Neither one of us did things perfect here, but I’m going to focus on what I did incorrectly, how I caused pain, and ask God to work in me.”

It’s choosing to not waste time pointing fingers at someone else when an opportunity for self-reflection, humility and growth is staring you right in the face.

2. Your hope, identity and satisfaction can only be found in one place.

This one is really difficult for me.

After two big moves (one to Boston and one to Midland) I’ve had to rely on my husband socially more than I ever thought I would have to. In Dallas, where my life was pretty well settled, I had a community of friends, a church I was active in, and a schedule that was full of events. Moving to Boston changed everything, and I looked to my husband to fill in the gaps.  Even the ones he was never meant to fill.

The Lord, through it all, has sweetly reminded me that only He truly satisfies – and his satisfaction is deeply fulfilling.

My husband cannot fill me up. No matter how awesome he is (and he is AWESOME), he will crush my expectations and leave me disappointed – and I will do the same to him. Life isn’t easy and marriage is hard. I cannot put the burden of my satisfaction on his shoulders. He was not created to carry such a heavy load. And no one else is either.

Your job, your family, your boyfriend, your friends, your diet…none of them can truly bring lasting satisfaction. Temporary pleasure? Sure, but it won’t last.

In John 4, we find a story about a woman.

Not only is the woman a Samaritan, which means she’s a social outcast, but she’s also quite promiscuous. Her need for affection or security has drawn her into the arms of five men, none of which are her husband. One day she goes to a well to draw water and she meets Jesus. They talk.

As the woman reaches down to fill her bucket with water, Jesus says to her:

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:13 & 14

The satisfaction and fullness that is found in Jesus is beyond comparison. He brings eternal peace and joy. He’s the solution. When all else fails – and when everything is going well – he can be trusted. He quenches our deepest thirsts so that we don’t have to run to temporary things to feel complete. He satisfies.

3. Words are powerful.

Unfortunately, I’ve learned this one the hard way.

Ephesians 4:29 reads like this:  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

When emotions are roaring and when conflict hits the fan, these are hard words to live by. Sometimes, instead of speaking the truth with gentleness and in love, I choose to say whatever I think of in whatever manner feels best – and sometimes it hurts others.

Proverbs 17:27&28 reads, “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”

Words are powerful. Calm down, take a breath, and use caution.

4. There is danger in comparison, so watch what you feed yourself.

In every woman’s bible study, this truth is touched on; however, I’ve come to realize that I need to be reminded of it often.

We are officially living in a technology driven world. All around us are status updates, Instagram pictures, and Tweets about how great someone else’s life is. If we’re not careful, we can lose sight of the things the Lord has blessed us with.

I remember the year I graduated from college…

I was on Facebook one night looking at all of my friends who were traveling the world sharing the Gospel with the lost or helping orphans in some foreign country. I remember thinking I was a pathetic individual wasting time in corporate America when there was a life that really meant something out there waiting for me. Instead of thanking the Lord for the place He had me and surrendering to Him to lead me wherever He would choose, I became discontent. I wanted to be anywhere besides where I was.

If I’m not careful, the same thing can happen today.

I see a friend who goes on a romantic date and I start wondering why my husband and I never go on cool dates. I see new moms with their precious new babies and wish I had one. I see pictures of fancy vacations and immediately start wishing I was on a beach somewhere…

I think we’ve all been there.

Lately, I’ve been challenged by this verse found in Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent and praiseworthy – think about such things.”

Although I have a wonderful husband, a roof over my head, and a God who loves me, it’s easy for me to get distracted. When I start comparing my life to the lives of those around me, negativity slowly creeps in. Instead of trusting the Lord with my circumstances and walking with Him through them, I start wishing he had me somewhere else.

Don’t get me wrong; social media can be used for great things. At the same time, however, it can be a rather dangerous thing. Comparison is a thief. Choose gratitude.

5. Understanding is the goal.

The Mister and I are very different. He likes numbers, while I like words. He likes thoughts, while I like feelings. He likes to fly, but I like road trips. He wears shoes outside…and sometimes I don’t.

We are VERY different.

Over the past year, I have come to appreciate our differences, for in them is our biggest strength as a couple. They make us a good team. It seems as though his passions and strengths balance out my disdains and weaknesses – and vice versa. Through our differences, we are able to stay balanced and well rounded. At the same time, however, I’ve learned that our differences push us toward conflict and, if not monitored, our conflict can turn into a war.

In pre-marital counseling, we learned that the goal in conflict is not to win but to gain understanding. I think this truth, though hard, is worth remembering.

Most of the time the issue worth talking about isn’t the issue that’s being talked about. For example, it’s not the fact that you HATE talking about finances, it’s the fact that he probably feels disrespected when you won’t. Sometimes it’s not the issues on the surface that are the issues but something a little deeper.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peach of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body, you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15).

I am no expert in this marriage thing (obviously), but I am grateful for the Word of God and the fact that it is reliable. I’m thankful for the paths He takes us down and the things He shows us along the way. He truly is a guide to the lost and a breath of fresh air to the lifeless.

December 29th, 2013 (Photo creds to Doug Klembara)

The road goes on forever, and the party never ends! (Line taken from Robert Earl Keen although, in this context, it probably doesn’t mean what he intended it to mean originally…) Cheers!

The Real Truth in our Move to Texas

The mister and I on our flight to Dallas, Texas.

Yesterday, the mister and I left Boston.

The whole process of finding movers, packing everything up, and turning in the keys to our little apartment was quite the roller coaster ride for me. It’s difficult saying goodbye to a place you’ve learned to enjoy and a group of people you’d rather not live without. It was especially hard leaving the place I first lived in with the mister.

Six Thirty-Seven Tremont Street was a true gem.

Within its tiny walls, the mister and I grew. We learned what it was like to sleep in the same bed comfortably. (I got several mid-night elbows to the face until we figured out how to navigate our sleeping positions.) We learned how to argue like a married couple, and how to work through conflict in an encouraging way (we are still not perfect, here). In our apartment, we asked each other questions and tried to figure out how to spend our time in a way that’s fruitful, enjoyable, and life-giving. We watched some awesome movies, and a couple of not-so-great TV shows. (ABC’s “Nashville” does not fall into this category.) It was because of our apartment, and our apartment only, that we met Fadi, the owner of the pizza shop next door. Fadi is super cool – and he became our friend instantly.

Although, our little apartment in the big city was not built for tall people (I frequently hit the chandeliers while stretching, folding blankets, or just moving around in weird ways), it felt like home. It was awesome, and I hoped to be there for a little while longer. I cried when we left.

Yesterday, as I was reading on the flight to Dallas, I came across this verse, and it encouraged me.

“Rise up, Balak, and listen! Hear me, son of Zippor. God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” (Numbers 23:18-19)

It’s an odd one, I know, but it holds a lot of truth.

You see, God never changes. In a world that is constantly reconsidering its position, God is certain. He is faithful, even when we don’t believe. There is nothing that can alter who he is. He is just, He is love, and He is full of grace. He is slow to anger, and quick to offer us mercy.

He is constant and unwavering. We, on the other hand, are not.

I never thought I would ever live in Boston. In fact, I wanted to settle in Dallas with my family, my church, and my friends. I never thought I would uproot my life, quit my job, sell my car, change my last name, and live in a city that requires public transportation. I, also, never thought I would learn to love it and then, in a matter of a month, have to leave it.

You see, the mister and I were supposed to stay in Boston for three years. That was the plan – and, I would say, we both thought it was certain.

Isn’t that how life goes?

We all make plans. We all set out to ‘conquer the world’ in our unique way. Some of us plan on going to school so that we can add value to the lives of others. Some plan on finding that special someone and settling down. Others of us plan on getting pregnant and starting a family.

The truth is, however, that it may or may not work out.

We end up in a tough situation and can’t go to school. We think we are going to marry a certain person, and then we don’t. We keep trying to have kids, but, for some reason, we can’t.

Things change. Our plans don’t succeed.

Psalm 25:3 reads, “No one whose hope is [in the Lord] will ever be put to shame.”

The world can change, and we can change with it. We can plan to go one way, but then end up going in the opposite direction. Nothing is certain outside of the character and being of God. We can invest all of our time and money into the stock market, and, as we all know, it can crash. We can try our hardest to be the most well-liked person on the face of the planet, but we may commit some party foul and fail at it.

Nothing in this world is sure except for the Lord. He is worthy of our trust and our hope. He is worthy of holding all of the eggs we would naturally place in some other basket. He doesn’t fail. He doesn’t change.

Where are you placing your hope? What happens when your plans fail you? Think about it.

Even though moving back to Texas was a change that the mister and I chose, it’s still a testament to the fact that we don’t know what life holds for us.

On Monday, the mister and I will head to Midland, Texas where he will work and I will begin my studies. The plan is to stay there until the Fall of 2014, and then head back to Boston for 2 years for grad school.

That’s the plan, but I’ll keep you posted.