Walking a Dangerous Line: When Talking about Politics Becomes a Bloodbath and How Christians are Contributing to the Carnage.

Well, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve written in this space, and since I last wrote a lot has changed – not only in my personal life but in the world. 

I took a job at a wonderful counseling agency here in town, had another baby, moved into a new house, quit my job at the counseling agency so that I could stay home with my kids right before a mandatory quarantine (talk about timing), and began walking through a global pandemic with the rest of the world. As we all know, the almost-nine months of 2020 have already felt like 9 years, and there’s no need for me to remind anyone about it.  

So, why, of all times, have I decided to write on here again? Well, first off, I’m no longer employed and my kids just started going back to Mother’s Day Out, so, naturally, I have a little more time on my hands. Secondly, I’ve almost written several mini-Instagram posts on this topic over the past 8 years, and today just feels like the time to officially put my thoughts and concerns out there. 

Photo by Joseph Chan

Before I jump in, let me preface this by saying this post is strictly for Christians. It’s for people who have a deep faith and hope in Jesus on both a head and a heart level. It’s for people who have come face-to-face with their own depravity, imperfections, and inability to always do the “right thing” both internally and externally and have also realized that there is nothing they can do to “fix themselves.” In response, these people have realized that they desperately need the remedy that only God can offer – the act of Jesus dying on the cross to redeem them from their sins and imperfections so that they might be able to have a relationship with a perfect God. A relationship that is both hard and beautiful. 

Again, this post is for Christians – these people who should understand how broken they truly are and who should rejoice in the grace (unmerited favor) they have been given. It’s for these people who should know that perfection on this earth is utterly impossible to achieve, that the world isn’t the way it should be, and that know that their hope isn’t found here. It’s found in Jesus. 

So, if you are one of these people – if you are a Christian – I’m writing to you. And please know I’m writing with the sincerest of hearts – not out of a place of judgment – but out of a place of concern and love. I want to be your friend. I want to do the good works that we have been called to do together (Ephesians 2:10). I want to spur you on – and I want to be spurred on by you. I am just deeply troubled, and I feel as though I need to say something. 

So, here you go. Please don’t hate me. (Or at least talk to me about it, if you do.)

Christians, I think we are walking a dangerous line. 

I’m not talking about a dangerous line in wearing yoga pants or spaghetti straps. I’m talking about an even more dangerous line. (Hopefully, you picked up on my joke here.)

It’s the line of talking politics. Or more specifically – it’s the line of talking politics in a way that never gives thought to the potential consequences of the words we are choosing to use and the tone we are seeking to convey. It’s talking about politics without hesitation and in a way that is disconnected from our primary purpose and identity – our identity as Christ followers who were created to worship and glorify God. 

As Christians we are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:15 &16), we are created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10), we are called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), we are regularly encouraged to stand up for the widow, orphan and poor/those most vulnerable around us (Isaiah 1:17, James 1:27, Micah 6:8), we are called to do “nothing from rivalry or conceit,” but to humbly “count others as more significant than [our]selves” (Philippians 2:3), we are encouraged to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), we are called and encouraged to be and do a lot of things, but why? Why does God ultimately want us to follow him and to worship Him?

Because when we display who God is for other people – when we allow the Spirit of God to transform our lives so that we look more like Christ – we glorify God. And when we glorify God, people are drawn to worship God and follow Jesus themselves (Matthew 5:16). And that is the command Jesus gave us – that we might go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). And when we are making disciples, the world is changed, not only in America, but world-wide. And not only while we are here on earth, but for eternity. 

So the question on the table is this: Are we doing this?

When we are engaging with others about political things, are we focused on our primary purpose, or are we focused on something else? Is our primary purpose to continually point out our own brokenness and our desperate need of a Savior, so that others might also come to know the true rest and restoration found in a hope set on Jesus or is our purpose to get others to vote for the political candidate we like? Are we helping people see that Jesus is the only one who saves, or are we presenting all of our arguments on why one particular party should be trusted to save our nation? Are we seeking to make peace with others, or are we seeking to get a thrill out of arguing? Are we trying to display all that we know, or are we humbly seeking to understand both sides? 

Please hear me, I’m not saying talking politics is wrong. I understand that talking about politics should have a place in the public square if we want to all become informed and active citizens of the country we live in. I understand that talking about politicians and processing what they have done or what they hope to do can be intriguing. I even know that analyzing policy and how it’s affected America can be fun at times. And I believe it’s important. 

My point is, if you’re a Christian, you should be extra cautious in how you talk – or type – about these things. 

At the end of Colossians, Paul writes this:

“Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

– Paul to the church at Colossae (Colossians 4:5-6)

If you are publicly proclaiming yourself to be a Christian, then you are publicly proclaiming that you follow Jesus. And that’s a REALLY big deal. If we as Christians believe that a person coming to know Jesus is the deciding factor between eternal life or death – then being a Christian in the social square of social media has MAJOR implications for people’s lives.

If you are a Christian, how you talk or type has the potential to either push people towards the beauty of Jesus or to do the opposite. It either communicates compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love for others (all things Paul calls Christians to possess in Colossians 3:12-14) or it doesn’t. It either communicates that you believe every living person has value because God created them with it, or it doesn’t. It either communicates a desire to understand the other side or it communicates pride and arrogance. 

I understand that we are called to speak truthfully, and many of us feel as though that’s what we are doing. We feel as though we are standing up for the unborn, we are standing up for women’s rights, we are standing up for the preservation of history, and we are standing up for those being mistreated by systems, laws and others because of the color of their skin. And we feel as though we have to yell the truth from the top of a building in order for everyone to hear – but if we aren’t doing it in love, then it’s just going to add to the noise (1 Corinthians 13:1). It’s just going to contribute to the bloodbath of political talk in America. We are just going to add to the carnage, instead of being a remedy to it. 

How we talk about things matters. Our words could have an eternal impact. Please…from one Christian to another, can we please be careful?

Again, I am not coming from a place of judgement. I have engaged in political conversations in ways that probably weren’t beneficial. I have gotten irritated and quickly remarked on someone’s post without taking a step back to reflect if my post was in line with my primary purpose. And I have regretted it every single time. 

Please know that I know I’m not all-wise. I have so much to learn from all of you. In fact, I have learned a lot from what some of you have posted, and I am thankful that you care about the issues that you care about. But from where I’m sitting, we, as Christians, have to start doing something differently. We need to assess how we are talking about politics online and we need to strive to do so in a manner that demonstrates the grace, love and humility of Jesus every step of the way. 

Some Examples/Observations:

Being a Christian who cares about the souls of humanity and who is interested in politics can be hard. It’s oftentimes difficult to navigate the choppy waters of when to speak up and when to remain silent. I don’t have all of the answers, and I oftentimes find myself questioning whether or not I should engage in politics online at all. But, over the past 8 years, I’ve picked up on some things that might be important for us to know as we seek to engage in political discussions on social media, if one chooses to do so:

Picture taken in 2018 to document my
feelings after voting in an election.
  • First – and potentially most importantly – even if your intended “target audience” is Christians, they are not your only audience. You are on social media, your audience is probably more diverse than you think. This should make us extra cautious about what we say. (Remember Colossians 4:5-6.) 
  • If we are standing up for life in the womb or if we are standing up for humans out of the womb we have to examine why. If our answer is because we believe all humans – in the womb or out – have value and dignity because God created them, then we can’t talk to people or talk about people (be it the other party or a political candidate) like they don’t. It’s not logical to do so. Rudeness is rooted in the belief that some people aren’t worthy of receiving love and respect – that they lack in value. It goes against the idea that all men and women were created as image-bearers. If we are truly “pro-life from the womb to the tomb,” then there isn’t any place for belittling others – no matter how much we dislike them. (James 3:7-10 could be helpful here.)
  • Christians arguing about the sin of other people has rarely – if ever – been attractive to someone who doesn’t know Jesus. In fact, I would make the argument that a lot of people have run from the Church because they felt as though that’s all the Church wanted to do. 
  • Praising politicians or parties regularly, consistently and whole-heartedly can easily come across as worship – and when both politicians and both parties are incredibly imperfect I think we should question if they deserve the amount of devotion we are giving them. Is it communicating that Jesus saves or is it communicating that our chosen party or politician saves?
  • The most “just” person to ever walk this planet was – and always will be – Jesus Christ. If we aren’t seeking to mimic him in the way we treat people – especially people who have a different worldview than we do – then we should question if we are doing things properly. Are we having compassion on the woman in adultery, or are we casting the first stone (John 8)?
  • I know topics such as systemic racism and sexual assault are worthy of discussion. Analyzing whether or not change needs to happen and how it needs to happen is both complex and important for the growth of a country, BUT because these topics are especially sensitive and historically complicated, we need to tread with caution. I only truly know what it is like to be me, and you only truly know what it is like to be you. We only know what it is like to be a person of color if we are one, and we only know what it is like to have been sexually assaulted or to have been wrongfully accused of sexual assault if we were. I’m not saying this should completely silence people who don’t fit into those categories, but it should add a level of humility to any conversation we are seeking to have about the people who do. Is what you are saying going to invalidate the real experiences of people who have walked through trauma or loss? Is it going to invalidate potential truths that you don’t know about? Are you all-knowing? Are you all-understanding? Is what you are saying compassionate, loving and kind or is it blunt, hostile and arrogant? 
  • If you are posting memes that are calling Republicans “Nazis” and Democrats “lazy socialists”, you are helping to contribute to the political divide that we see happening all around us. Memes can be funny, but they lack nuance, typically over generalize, cause hurt more than they cause understanding, and they continually group people into Groupthink camps that people might not deserve to be grouped into. To raise your voice against stereotyping and then post a meme that stereotypes, could make you come across as either blindly biased or hypocritical. And if people think you are blindly biased or hypocritical, they probably won’t trust you when you are trying to convince them that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
  • Typically, someone chooses to be pro-democratic socialism, pro-capitalism, or anywhere in between because they think it’s going to be best for Americans over the long-run. Getting defensive and assuming that a person lands where they land because they are “an idiot” or they are “selfish” isn’t going to promote good conversation. If you are confused on how someone could land where they land, ask them good questions. Sure, some people may not really know what they are talking about, or maybe they haven’t spent the amount of time required to truly understand the policy behind Capitalism/Democratic Socialism or the potential consequences of Democratic Socialism/Capitalism, but the desire to “do good,” is probably an underlying motive – and hopefully some common ground can be found there. (Proverbs 15:28 or Proverbs 17:27-28 could be helpful on this front.)
  • Christians who are voting for Biden are voting for a pro-choice ticket, even though they may not consider themselves to be pro-killing babies. Christians who are voting for Trump are supporting a president who decreased the number of refugees we allow into the United States, even though they may not consider themselves to be “for” keeping men, women and children in life-threatening or certain-death situations. If you dig into conversations with both of these people, you’ll find that they believe the topic is “complicated” and they have landed where they have based upon a wide variety of issues and historical facts. It’s okay and healthy to disagree with people, but if you aren’t willing to actually listen to someone because you disagree with them, then how willing are you going to be to actually listen to someone who doesn’t believe in your God? If you call people names and/or condemn them to hell because their views are different than your own, do you actually think people will want to listen to you when you talk about your God being gracious and good? 
  • Speaking of complicated, The United States of America is not mentioned in the Bible and Jesus didn’t live in a democracy. In fact, God first ordained Judges as the way to govern His people, and then allowed the Israelites to have kings after they were dissatisfied with His first choice. Scripture doesn’t tell us how to think about voting. It does supply us with the attributes of God, it does allow us to get a glimpse of Jesus and his character, it does show us good models for how to operate as a Church, and the Bible does consist of commands given to the Israelites, historical people, and the early church that we are to take into account today, but it doesn’t tell us which party to vote for. We can use these things to help us determine which party to vote for, but the Bible doesn’t tell us exactly – so should we act like it does? 

Ultimately, if we believe we are recipients of the most outrageous display of love and grace ever – Jesus dying on the cross for the sin and imperfections we deserved/deserve to die for – then we should have continual grace and humility towards other people. We aren’t perfect, and neither are they. We aren’t all-knowing, and neither are they. We are just humans, made by a perfect God, who are trying to figure out how to live in an imperfect world. 

Our words matter. We can’t change that. 

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear…Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

– Paul to the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 4:29-32)

May we talk to people in a way that highlights the character of Jesus. I love you, friends. 

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.

Getting to a Place of Honesty

From the get-go, I have to tell you that I am self-plagerizing most of this post.  (To be honest with you, the idea of “self-plagerizing” seems completely dumb, but it’s a real thing, and according to ethics, I have to tell you that this is not the first time many of these words have been typed out and I’m supposed to cite the original source…totally dumb.) So, just so you know, this post is a reprocessed version of a VERY low-key talk I gave to a group of women last week. Some, though a minimal amount, of the words are literally copy and pasted from my notes, but most, though not all, of the thoughts are completely recycled.

All right, now that the annoying part is over…

Over the past few years, I’ve been traveling though a tremendously weird season in my life – a season of asking myself and God a lot of hard questions. Questions concerning who I am in this somewhat new season of motherhood, questions concerning my purpose right now, questions concerning why I struggle with the things I’ve been struggling with, and, mostly, questions about God’s character – mainly surrounding the area, of “If God is good, then why does he allow really bad things to happen to the most vulnerable of people?” It’s a question, that I felt as though I had always had to the answer to – really, I think it was something that had never really bogged me down, so I just didn’t stop to think about it – but then, for whatever reason, the perfect stream of events seemed to happen, and I found myself really struggling with the question.

If God is good, then why?

I mean, it’s been one heck of a season…and it hasn’t been fun.

A few months ago, my husband and I were driving home (or to, I can’t remember) New Mexico, and my husband started talking to me about this “wearisome season.” He challenged me in my approach to wrestling through things (basically, he pointed out that I wasn’t wrestling at all – I had given up on seeking God and wise counsel concerning the question) and that he was concerned about how my questions were manifesting themselves in my life – in my actions, thoughts and words.

So, encouraged my him, I opened up to my community group about it. I asked that they pray for me as I prayed for my own heart, and then, later that week, I did it. I prayed.

Being a Christian for a while now, I knew that prayer was going to play an instrumental part in “getting through” this wearisome season, but I think that, deep-down, I still had my questions about God’s character and, therefore, wondered if praying to Him was the right thing to do. I think I felt bad about my questions and, therefore, felt conflicted about talking with Him about them. Could I really pray to someone who I questioned? Could I be completely honest with Him about one of my messiest places? What would happen?

The truth is, I’m not the only one who has ever gone through a difficult season. And I’m definitely not the only one who has ever asked God questions.

In the book of Psalms, we see a group of poems, songs or prayers called the “Laments,” and these psalms are…well…kind of depressing. But it is here, more than in any other place in scripture, where I personally have found some of the greatest examples of what it means to be truly honest with God. I mean, in these laments, I see bluntness and full-throttled transparency, which ultimately has taught me that I don’t have to place boundaries on my honesty with God.

I mean, let’s look at Psalm 13:1-4.

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him,’ lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.”

Most scholars believe that David wrote this Psalm. Although scholars don’t know the exact context of this Psalm, just from reading it, we can sense what David is going through. He’s sorrowful – maybe even completely depressed – feeling somewhat abandoned by God (see note below), and we even get a sense of confusion.

But the point is, David is honest with God about these things – he is honest with God about his despair and his questions in the midst of trials. 

In Psalm 55:1-15, we read another Psalm thought to be written by David. In this Psalm, David expresses a lot of intense things to God. You should definitely read it yourself, but just in an overview we see that in verse 2, he says, “Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan because of the noise of my enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked.” In verses 4 & 5, we read, “My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me […] horror overwhelms me.” And in verses 12 & 13, we find out the source of all of David’s discomfort when he writes, “For it is not an enemy who taunts me – then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me – […] But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend.”

Here, we see David being honest with God about hurt, rejection, oppression, and fear. We also see him being honest with God about the betrayal of a friend. Whether that betrayal was caused by King Saul’s desperate pursuit for David’s life in 1 Samuel or his son Absalom’s conspiracy to steal the kingship from David in 2 Samuel, we can’t be sure, but because of these things, we know that David is not a stranger to being betrayed by someone close to him. AND he’s honest with God about it. 

And laments like this just keep happening…here’s one more.

In Psalm 51, believed to be written by David after he was confronted about committing adultery with Bathsheba and then murdering her husband to cover it up, we see David being honest with God about his sin, the impact his sin has had on his life, he desire for forgiveness and cleanliness, and his request for restoration.

I mean, it’s heavy stuff.

The great thing, though, is that these somewhat pessimistic laments don’t end here (though I believe that honesty is a beautiful thing). Actually, these laments tend to end on a positive note – in declarations of who God really is.

In Psalm 13:5&6, we read this…

“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

In Psalm 55:22 we read this…

“Cast your burdens on the Lord, and will will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

And in Psalm 34, which is well believed (though not for certain) to be written after David confessed his sin with Bathsheba and his sin of murder to God, we read this…

“I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all of my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. […] The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (v. 4, 5, and 16).

In all of the above verses, we see that David is honest with God about things that are really bogging him down. He is confessing sin, describing hurt, asking questions, and wrestling with God about why things are the way they are, and ultimately, in this, he finds the rest, peace and relief only the Lord can provide. Now, the Lord doesn’t always change his circumstances – David still had to run from Saul and his son Absalom is killed in battle, and God allows one of his other sons to die as an infant because of his sin with Bathsheba – but God communes with David’s soul, reminds him of who He is, and He gives David the strength to carry on.

Turning to God in prayer or song, takes David out of his own head – out of his own self-dependency – and reminds him of who God is and that He can be trusted.

This was my experience, too.

When I prayed to God – when I stopped trying to cope by myself and was actually honest with him about my concerns, my doubts, my questions, my sin, my lack of understanding, my frustration, and my pain – it felt as though a heavy weight had been lifted. Just to be clear, my circumstances didn’t completely change. I still see tremendous hardship and loss the lives of those I love. I still mourn at the death of innocent life, and the injustices that kill and keep people enslaved. Those things – the things that still cause me to question sometimes – are still happening, but in prayer – in being honest with God – I was reminded that He is God and I am not and my heart began to reflect upon and understand the idea of his goodness once again.

And more than anything, being honest with God in prayer allowed me to stop depending upon myself – my own coping mechanisms, rationalizations, compartmentalization, distractions, etc. – and forced me to instead lean into God. I mean, He is the one who knows and understands everything.

So, what are you struggling with that you need to talk to God about? How are you trying to depend upon yourself instead of depending upon God?

God is big enough to handle our hardships – we don’t have to run from Him or hide our questions, concerns, emotions, sins or struggles. I mean, in reality, He already knows they are there.

God is big enough to handle our hardships – so be honest.

* The laments contain a lot of emotion – a lot of feeling words – and we know that just because someone feels something, doesn’t make it true. So, just because David felt as though God had abandoned him doesn’t mean God really did. However, God created us with emotions and God himself has emotions, so being honest with God about them – regardless of whether or not your very real feelings are rooted in the truth of the situation – seems to be a part of the process of being transparent with God.


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.)

The Inevitable Thorn of Waiting

FullSizeRenderThis whole year the Mister and I have been waiting – or it feels that way, at least.

In December of last year, we found out that the Mister needed to have another leg surgery. We weren’t sure whether or not the surgery would work, but we were hopeful. We waited and we waited, and then June happened, the surgery was done, and we are now waiting to see if the surgery actually worked. In August, I had my blood taken and it came back positive for Tuberculosis. In the midst of thinking through the worst case scenario, we waited. We waited on chest X-rays, more test results, and ultimately, for the “all clear” note we got at the end of September. (It was a false alarm.) In October, we found black mold in our apartment, and if you know the story at all, you know we had to wait a month-and-a-half for the whole thing to be resolved. Toward the end of October, we began exploring new job opportunities for the Mister, and we’re still waiting to see what will eventually come from his search. In January, the price of oil continued to plummet, and, like many others in the industry, we are waiting for the storm to pass so that life can get back to normal.

And these are just the things I can tell you about.

If you’ve lived life at all, you know that waiting is just a part of if. It’s the inevitable thorn that pierces our flesh at random times throughout our journeys here on earth. And I have yet to meet someone who totally enjoys it.

A couple of days ago, I read a story about waiting in 1 Samuel – and it stirred my soul.

In this story, the Israelites are at war with their neighboring enemies, and Saul (king of the Israelites) is commanded to go to Gilgal to wait for Samuel (the prophet of God) to come and offer sacrifices and give instruction to Saul on what he and his troops should do (10:8). A couple of battles later, we see Saul leading trembling Israelite solders through Gilgal and he begins to wait for Samuel’s arrival and instruction. At the same time, the Philistines (one of Israel’s enemies) had positioned themselves in a near by town with thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen/troops (13:5) causing the Israelites to scramble for their lives.

After waiting seven days, Saul begins to freak out. He observes his troops, which are becoming more and more frightened, surveys the might of the Philistine army, and ultimately decides to take matters into his own hands. He “forces” himself and offers the sacrifices that Samuel was supposed to offer (13:12) thinking that, by doing so, he would speed up God’s process.

Basically, Saul got tired of waiting.

He saw what was going on around him and panicked. And unfortunately, his need to have control, cost him greatly. Eventually, the kingdom was taken from Saul’s hands and given to someone else.

I like this story because I see myself in it.

I hate feeling uncomfortable. I hate hard emotion, and I hate feeling stressed. And in moments when I am feeling these things, I seek to alleviate all of the tension in whatever way I possibly can. I force myself, and I seek to control my circumstances. The problem is, by doing this, I miss out on what the Lord has for me in the moments of tension. I miss the learning, I miss the growth, and I potentially miss the opportunity to know Him more. Sometimes, just like Saul, I even make things worse.

When I choose not to wait, I take whatever God had intended for me and stick it in a corner so that I can move on to whatever I think is best. The problem is, I don’t know what’s best. I’m not God, and I’m not all-knowing.

There is an awesome poem/story in a Bible study that I’m doing right now called, The Thorn. It goes like this:

“I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne and begged Him for one priceless gift that I could call my own. I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart, I cried, ‘But Lord, this is a thorn! And it has pierced my heart.’ He said, ‘My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.’ I took it home, and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore, as long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more. I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace. He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil that hides His face.” – Martha Snell Nichols as cited by Cynthia Heald

As I reflect on my life, I find so much truth here.

That time when I ended the relationship because I knew I was supposed to even though I didn’t want to and had to wait years to actually be able to move on. That time when I desperately wanted to move jobs, but I knew the timing was bad for multiple people, and I had to stick it out. The time when I needed to take a break from dating for the sake of my own heart, even though I didn’t really want to. In all of these moments, I have learned something. In all of these times I grew tremendously. And in all of these times I saw God’s faithfulness – I saw how His plan is so much better than my own.

I’ve also seen the opposite.

I’ve seen the times when I’ve entered into a relationship because I was sick of being single. I’ve seen the times when I’ve wanted an expensive article of clothing and purchased it even though I couldn’t afford it. I’ve seen the times when I opened my mouth to make sure that people heard me because I thought that I needed to control my reputation. And all of these things ended badly. People got hurt, problems were caused, and I regretted it later.

I’m not saying that everything is a simple equation.  I do think God’s grace does meet us in the midst of our need to be in control and the bad decisions that come from it. At the same time, I do believe that we can miss out on things because we choose to rush to the better feeling – to the thing that will make us feel more content, happier, or more loved in the moment. I do think there is more to the waiting than just the pain and hardship it causes. God wants to give good gifts to His children, and sometimes what is gained through waiting is in fact just that – a good and perfect gift. It’s a gift that is actually for our good and not just a temporary bandage that makes life on earth more comfortable. It’s a gift that grows us, matures us, and allows us to know Him more.

We all have random thorns, for waiting is a given in this life. Some of us are waiting to finally be able to purchase a house in a responsible way, some of us are waiting to be able to conceive or adopt, some of us are waiting to get married, and some of us are waiting for our children to make better decisions. I’m waiting on the things mentioned in the first paragraph of this post. All of these things are wonderful, and are all worth waiting for. The question is: How are we waiting? Are we seeking to control things so that we feel better right now or are we relying upon the Lord to give us what we need in the moment so that we can persevere to the end of whatever it is He’s doing?

This journey can be hard. There’s no doubt about that. At times I feel totally out of control and a little bit clueless, but I’m praying that I am able to resist the urge to take short cuts. I’m praying that I remember that waiting is used by the Lord in powerful ways, and that that Lord provides me with true life.

“The greatest danger is that we would become impatient and miss the blessing.”         – Charles Spurgeon

“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” – Isaiah 30:18

**Thanks to Cynthia Heald for the awesome resources and insights she provides in thinking through interesting topics like this one. (Her study “Becoming a Woman of Strength” really helped me here.)

How Einstein Helped Me through My Eating Disorder…Kind Of

einstein picture
I did not live when Einstein lived, so I obviously did not take this picture. I got it from a YouTube video called “Albert Einstein Explaining E=mc^2.” (P.S. The video is in his own voice which is pretty cool.)

I was once told an interesting story about Albert Einstein.

Ron, my 71-year-old friend, once told me that Einstein had a laboratory of white walls. As Einstein lived life, both inside and outside of his laboratory, he would think, making note of important thoughts by scribbling them down on the surface of one of his walls. Eventually, as one would expect, his walls were covered with random thoughts, equations and notes. One day, while in his lab, Einstein began examining his walls. Slowly, he began taking equations from one wall and piecing them together with other random notes from other walls until he had a simple theory we like to call the Theory of Relativity.

I like the story, because I think this is how life goes. We all have our white walls. We all try to figure out life. And we all do so by piecing together the things we have experienced with what we know or what we’ve heard from others.

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine asked me how I overcame my eating disorder. Honestly, I think it has been one of the biggest “white-wall experiences” of my life.

Overcoming an eating disorder is by no means a linear, step-by-step process, as rarely anything in this life truly is, but there were several pieces of information that made the whole thing make more sense to me. As time went on, I kept examining my white-walls, and eventually the facts that I had scribbled fit together, giving me strength and wisdom to fight the battle well.

So what were they? Here you go…

One: We all have a “natural healthy weight.” **

In our media-filled world, it is so easy to think that there is only one way we as females are to look (which as we all know, changes by the decade). When I was in middle school, it was Brittany Spears. You know, the skinny but some-what athletic look with a huge emphasis on the abs. Today, it seems to be either the super-thin Taylor Swift body type or the totally toned look of Kayla Itsines with a huge emphasis on the gap between one’s legs.

When I was in the trenches of my eating disorder, I was exhausted. Working out for an hour-and-a-half each day and restricting the food that I was eating kept me malnourished and cranky. It also kept me scared. Each dessert was a potential pound gained and each weekend away from exercising was a potential downfall. The anxiety was crippling and the inner emotional chaos was tiresome.

When I was out of college and I really started studying the idea of “intuitive eating,” I discovered just how influential genetics are to body weight. I also learned that trying to fit my naturally size [fill in the blank] body into a size zero jean was just not supposed to happen. If I wanted to run that course for the rest of my life it would mean non-stop stress and mental consumption. Learning that I had a natural healthy weight that could be maintained in natural and healthy ways was freeing…eventually.

Two: God created our bodies to be able to distinguish between hunger and fullness, and if I eat within hunger and fullness, I will be the size/weight I’m supposed to be. (Meaning, I would achieve my natural healthy weight.) **

This very simple idea was HUGE for me.

When I was in high school, my sister was a guest speaker at a conference on body weight and exercise. The basic premise of her whole talk was eating within hunger and fullness, a practice I had totally abandoned. You see, when you have an eating disorder, you learn to ignore hunger until you don’t even remember what feeling hungry feels like.

After college, when I got serious about my eating/over exercise issues, I clung to this truth. I began paying attention to hunger and fullness. (Which our bodies were designed to indicate through growling.) If I was hungry, I would eat. If I was full, I would stop. And something amazing happened: I gained weight until I stopped gaining a pound. Three-and-a-half years ago my natural healthy weight was reached, and my weight has not fluctuated and my jean size has not changed since.

Today, I try to make healthy decisions (both in the realm of food and exercise), but I ultimately eat everything in moderation. If I want pizza and I haven’t had it in a while, I’ll go for it. I eat one dessert almost every day, and I don’t freak out over bread. I’m telling you – it’s incredibly freeing.

Three: My identity is in Christ, and it’s permanent.

As humans, we walk around with an assortment of identities. Some people place their identity in being a mom, a working professional, a wife, an entrepreneur, a musician, or all of the above. For a long time, I placed my identity in what I looked like and what others thought about me. (I can still struggle with these things from time to time.) However, over the past seven years, I have come to appreciate my identity as a Christian more and more because it means that ultimately, my identity is wrapped up in Christ.

The problem with finding my identity in how I look is it’s fleeting. It’s not going to last forever. For some people, the “perfect” body can and will last until they are in their 60s, but rarely do you ever find a supermodel who is 80. Placing one’s identity in how they look is temporary. Our looks and our bodies (and most everything else in this world) will eventually fail us – it’s a proven fact.

One thing that lasts into eternity, however, is my relationship with God.

Knowing that I’m accepted by the one who’s opinion really matters has motivated me to not build my life on any foundation that is temporary. You see, God accepts me regardless of my performance (Ephesians 2:8-9), there’s nothing I can do to change the way he feels about me (Romans 8:35-39), and I seek to remember this daily.

Four: It was worth it.

Any addiction, or addiction-like behavior, only comes to an end when the addict decides that the addiction is worth giving up. If you’ve heard my story in full, you know that this moment came for me when my niece Macy was born. Instantly, a little girl was in my life, and I knew that she would be watching me. The things I idolized she would potentially idolize. The things I deemed important would probably influence her.

I did not want her to watch me struggling with food and exercise. I did not want her to think that she was defined by how she looked. And it suddenly became worth it. It was worth the extra pounds, it was worth the bigger jeans, it was worth letting go of my “super fit” image.

If I wanted Macy to be defined by anything, I wanted it to be the unwavering, never-ending love of God. A love that’s not dependent upon her performance or failures, but a love that rejoices in her unique personality and imperfections. The last thing I wanted her to do was obsess about her weight or external appearance because she saw that I did.

A lot of times we pass on our vices to the next generation, and sometimes it’s just not worth it.

I’m not saying that my nine-year battle ended in an instant, but the truths above created a formula that eventually, by God’s grace, led me to freedom. I still love working out and eating healthy, and I believe that everyone should do both, but there is a line between healthy and unhealthy and it’s not dictated by a weight, muscle mass, or pant size.

As I continue to run this race, some days are harder than others, but overtime the struggle seems to get easier. For those of you struggling, the first step is the hardest, but freedom is possible. There is hope.

** “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works” by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D., & Elise Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A. was a helpful resource in helping me think through noted topics

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

Brokenness and “The Unmaking”

Photo creds to  ja-pics.net
Photo creds to ja-pics.net

Writing has seemed more like a chore lately.

The hustle and bustle of ending semesters, beginning semesters, term papers, textbook reading, socializing, and driving back to Texas for the summer has definitely not helped anything, but ultimately that’s not what has caused my annoyance with deep thinking.

The truth is, life has just been hard…and it has completely worn me out.

Marriage has seemed hard, friendships have seemed hard, school has seemed hard, and the transient lifestyle we have been living seems harder by the day. As if this isn’t enough, my own personal hang-ups and bad habits compact the problems making things…you guessed it…even harder.

Long story short, it’s been quite the ride, and I have been waiting for summer since the beginning of the year.

A few days ago, I was driving home from meeting a friend, when I heard a song by one of my favorite artists, Nichole Nordeman. The song is entitled The Unmaking, and it immediately drew me in:

“What happens now when all I’ve made is torn down? What happens next when all of You, is all that’s left?…

This is the unmaking, the beauty in the breaking. Had to lose myself to find out who You are. Before each beginning, there must be an ending. Sitting in the rubble, I can see the stars. This is the unmaking.”

The song spoke to me.

For the past few months, I have been trying to hold everything together. I have been wrestling with my past, while trying to make my present a dream. I’ve been relying upon my own strength, my own intellect, and my own power. I’ve been trying to be the best wife, a good friend, a diligent student, a secure person, and a faithful follower of Christ. I’ve been clinching my jaws and my fists and have been determined to make everything work out as planned.

The problem is, I have been failing miserably.

Although it sucks (let’s be real), I think this is why Nordeman’s words are so powerful.

Maybe life isn’t found in keeping everything together – maybe it’s found in acts of surrender and letting go. Maybe life is found in the unmaking – not in endless strivings to make life work.

This message is echoed through the old covenant and the new covenant, too. (That is, through the Old Testament law and Christ’s death in the New Testament).

Romans 7:7-13 and Galatians 3:19-29 explain that the law (the old covenant) produced helplessness in people. It showed people that their own self-effort was not enough to save themselves from sin. Their own darkness, insecurities and idolatrous habits still ruled in their hearts no matter how hard they tried. They just couldn’t be the people they needed to be in order to experience life.

The good news is, this brokenness – this desperate need in the hearts of God’s people – set the stage for the new covenant (Christ, His death, and resurrection).

The new covenant promised that God would forgive the sins of His people and that He would write His law on their hearts so that they would not forget them (Jeremiah 31:33 & 34). He also promised that He would give His people a “new Spirit” that would enable them to walk in His ways (Ezekiel 36:23-28).

I like how Cynthia Heald puts it:

“Had Christ come directly after the fall, the enormity and deadly fruits of sin would not have been realized fully by man, so as to feel his desperate state and need of a savior.”

It’s clear. Faith begins with brokenness.

It begins with unbelief in yourself and your own ability to be all the things you want to be. It’s about believing you can’t do it alone.

You see, I want to be a lot of things.

I long to be a really kind and encouraging wife. I dream of being an effective counselor. I want to be a good friend, sister, and daughter – and one day, I hope to be a compassionate, intentional, nurturing, and loving mom. I want to be full of joy, and I want to see the best in people. I want to be physically healthy (not in a way that is consuming and idolatrous) and mentally free (free from anxiety and past hardships). I want to be a peaceful person who is not easily stressed out and a person whom people can trust. I want to be passionate about pursuing God and His calling in my life, and I want to exhibit patience, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and love to all I encounter. I want to be free from idols, and I desperately want to be less concerned about myself.

I want to be an investor in the things that really matter in this life.

The problem is, I do not have the power to change my heart.

Nordeman’s song was so powerful to me because it reminded me that I am incapable of being the person I want to be. The harder I try to change my heart, the more and more I am reminded of my inability to do so.

Brokenness. It’s all about brokenness.

It’s all about sitting in the rubble of the things you are trying to build, and realizing that you are in desperate need of help. It’s realizing you can’t do it alone.

These past few months I have been praying for transformation. I have been praying that God would help me be a better wife, friend, daughter, student, and follower of Christ. All the while, I have been doing what I can to make everything work. I have been coping and trying harder. Ultimately, I have been doing things my own way.

I have been praying for help, but I am not sure I truly believed I needed it.

Nordeman’s song reminded me that brokenness is beautiful.

In order to be whole, we have to be unmade. We have to have our self-made foundations torn down so that a new foundation can be laid – a foundation that is secure, and truly life-changing.

We can’t beat sin. We can’t beat death. And we can’t change our own hearts.

But God can. And He has equipped us with the Holy Spirit to help us. We are not alone.

Brokenness leads to surrender, which leads to faith, which leads to life. To be honest, I’m not sure it can happen any other way.

* Special thanks to the AWESOME work of Cynthia Heald, which has helped me navigate through the concept of God’s grace in the old and new covenants. Her words and insights truly encourage me. And of course Nichole Nordeman who has drawn me closer to the Lord through her music for the past 9 years.