I Wish I Were Happy

“Hold still, Mom.” my youngest daughter said as she retrieved an eyelash from my cheek. “Make a wish!” she said happily. “I wish I were happy.” I thought to myself. Gut check. Did I really just think that? (Thankfully the rule is that if you say your wish out loud, it won’t come true.) Then another voice came. ” I know why you aren’t happy.”, it said. I knew too, but I was still placing the blame elsewhere at this point.


I’ve struggled with depression most of my adult life. Add in turning 40, moving to a new state,  two out of five children growing up and leaving the nest, and no local friends for this “I’m always the hostess” ala Monica Geller type gal, and anyone could see a break down coming from a mile away.


If you know me in real life, you know that I have a thing with words. Words I love, words I HATE, (I’m talking to you, chunky.) and special words that God gives me to ponder on and cling to for a season. These words stick around for years and you, dear reader, are even a part of what God is still doing though my last word, breathe. My new word showed up about two weeks ago with no reason or explanation. I’ve been keeping it a secret thinking there’s no way God could be moving me on. Breathe is a LIFE word for me. Walk around our home and you can’t miss it. I don’t really want another word. Plus, why would He give me something new without telling me what it meant? Well… He was waiting until I was ready. Isn’t that just like him?

   “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me, you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in my love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments an abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15: 5-11

 

When I think of what it really looks like to abide in Christ, I think back to when I first gave my life to Him. I was 14. It felt like having a new boyfriend, only better. That desire to be in constant communication. Sneaking my Bible out during class so I could read just a little bit more. I was so hungry to know Him. I am thankful for that time. I learned a lot back then and it prepared me for the future ministry God had for me. Beginnings can be magical, but I think what comes after can be even more enduring. Abiding is more like an old married couple, knowing each other completely and loving each other deeply. Having a history of high peaks and deep dark valleys means there’s a trust there. Relationships either deepen or die through desperation. I’ve seen that in my marriage and also in my relationship with Christ. (sometimes, simultaneously) Choosing to stick it out and abide is like rolling to the middle of the bed even after you’ve had an argument. It takes effort.

Choosing to stick it out and ABIDE is when the joy shows up.


Abiding in His love makes our joy complete. So even on days when you wish you were happy, you know that the true test of how good your life is, comes from the JOY you’ve been given because you have chosen to abide. May there be fruit seen in our lives and joy felt in our hearts as we choose to abide in Him today.

 

 

 

Who’s With Me?

This week, I began a new Precept study in Exodus. I love inductive bible study! I love how marking each word makes the pages come alive, but even more, I love how the Holy Spirit brings those words to life in my heart. It always reminds me of the moment I find out that I am expecting. Many women wait months and months to share the news, but for me, that always seemed like pure torture. When I read God’s word, I feel the same. I’m expecting again, each word growing inside me until I can’t wait another moment to tell someone! So I write, someone reads and, hopefully, the words also begin to come alive for them too.


 

Here’s how the story goes… Moses has been living in Midian for a while after having run away from Egypt because he killed an Egyptian guard. Get that? Moses is a murderer and a run away. Not exactly the type of person you’d want signed up for a big job like saving an entire nation, right? Well, praise God, He uses the least likely people to do some His most important work. Moses is nothing fancy. He used to be the adopted grandson of Pharaoh, but now he’s just a simple shepherd. Then, all of a sudden, God calls him and gives him a new job.

 

Exodus 3: 10 “Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?”

And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”

Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

 

When God called Moses to lead His people out of their slavery and oppression, Moses had a few questions. Isn’t it funny how we think we have the right to all of God’s knowledge and information? Does anyone get frustrated when a kid asks them why? Luckily, the God of the universe is much more patient than we are! The thing that sticks out to me though is God’s answer. So lets look at this again…

Moses: “Who am I???”

God: “I will be with you.”

 

Yeah, not exactly the answer to the question, right? When you come to God with questions about your own calling, does He give you a big hug and try to make you feel better about yourself? Nope. God could’ve said, ” look, you are Pharaoh’s grandson. I think these people might be willing to hear what you have to say. I know you’ve made some mistakes, but I’m willing to overlook them and see how far we can get.” It might’ve made Moses feel a little better, but it probably wouldn’t get him very far once he got to Egypt and Pharaoh didn’t budge. Instead, God tells him who HE is and that He is going to be with him.

What you may want is a pep talk, but what you really need to know is Who’s with you.


 

“God, I barely passed high school English, how could I possibly be a writer?”

“I will be with you”

“God, when you decided to make me a mother, why didn’t you tell me the heartbreak that would come with it?”

“I will be with you.”

“God, how could I possibly move my wife and children so far away from home to a job you haven’t given me yet?

“I will be with you.”

“God, when I surrendered to the ministry, why didn’t you tell me you would change the plans halfway through?”

“I will be with you.”

 

Why is that His answer? Because that’s all you need to know.

Your life isn’t lived through your understanding or your power. It’s lived through HIS.


Is it frustrating when He doesn’t give you the timetable or the how? Yep. The thing is, if He did, many of us would say, “Yeah… no thanks. Sounds too hard, I’ll just hang here.” *fist bump*

The thing is, if you know WHO sent you (vs. 14) and that He will be WITH you, you have everything you need to complete the task. I AM. Take it or leave it. Simple yet profound. If I AM goes with you, you have everything you need to type those words, preach that message, move that family, or hold out that ridiculous wooden stick and part the mighty waters.

If you have Him, you have all you need. 

 

A Few of My Favorite Things

Well, it’s not a surprise to anyone that 2016  got a bad wrap. I mean it’s true, a lot of not so great things happened last year. And although I am thrilled to be living in 2017,  I thought it would be fun to share a few of things I’m super excited about that happened last year!

First off, our family relocated to Charlotte, NC! We had a bit of a rocky start with my husband moving here alone, beginning his job, and searching for our home all by himself for about 3 months. Needless to say, it was no fun being apart for such a long time, but praise the Lord, he finally brought us here to our sweet little 1920’s cottage and we are already in love with our new home! I mean, just look at how pretty it is in the snow. Who wouldn’t fall in love?

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My favorite things:

Hope*Writers *

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About a month after being here, I was blessed with a chance to attend the Hope*Writer’s Conference.  I’ve been a part of the Hope*Writers community from their very beginning, but I’ve been more of a stalker than an actual participant. Writing has always been fun for me, but also a bit scary putting my heart out in the blogosphere for everyone to read and criticize. I’ve been blessed to have many people in my life encouraging me to write more, but I never would’ve been brave enough to call myself a writer. This year, Hope*Writer’s  held their very first writer’s conference. I was gifted a ticket by another writer who had to back out at the last minute. If we hadn’t already moved here, there’s no way we could’ve afforded the ticket, hotel, and travel expenses to send me, but since we now live about 30 minutes away I was blessed to be able to attend.  It was a wonderful experience and I am still amazed how God worked out every detail! If you love to write, I highly recommend checking out Hope*Writers. It’s amazing what a just little encouragement from those who are just a few steps ahead of you can do!

The Nest Fest


Another fun thing that happened because of our move, was being closer to The Nest Fest! We had the BEST time shopping, eating, and meeting people from our new area. I was grinning from ear to ear just being able to meet the Nester and see her beautiful white barn. I even bought that tiny peach bowl (in the picture above) from her booth to keep my rings in. Just a tiny little happy to remind me of a special day.

Melody Joy Designs

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While we were at the Nest Fest, I finally had the privilege to meet Melody of Melody Joy Designs. I have been following her for a few years now and wishing for my very own Mama Bird’s Nest Ring and I’m so thankful that she made one for me that day! There’s a bead for each of our children. Blue for our boys, purple for our girls, and a sweet little white one in the middle to represent our baby Linden that we lost to miscarriage. It’s a blessing to be able to share a little our family’s story every time someone asks to see my ring.

Young Living’s Grapefruit oil *

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When I was 13 years old, I went to a Bath and Body Works store for the first time. My girlfriends and I sniffed and sprayed for a hour or so and I walked out with my very first purchase of their grapefruit lotion. There was something about the scent that just made me happy! Fast forward to 25 years later, and I learn that Grapefruit oil is great for lifting your spirits, and it was like a light bulb went off! I already knew that the scent made me happy! This stuff doesn’t disappoint! I wear it as a perfume almost every day and I diffuse it in our home to help curb the winter blues. (plus no yucky chemicals!)

Nickel and Suede Leather Earrings

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This one’s just for fun! I asked for these for Christmas and my sweet husband gave them to be a few days before during our 12 Days of Christmas. (More on that later!) When it comes to earrings for me, I say the bigger the better! I love that they are large but they are also very light. I don’t have to worry about them pulling on my ears, catching my clothes, or talking on the phone. Yay for simplicity!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little about our family and my favorite things!  I’m excited to see what God brings for our family in 2017!

*There are a couple of affiliate links in this post. The opinions are my own. If you would like more info, please check out the links or send me an email. 🙂

 

Spread It Out

Well, it’s January! Resolutions have been made and I bet that on day four, someone is already feeling defeated. Want to know how I know? Cuz’ its me. Yep. Yesterday I cried twice. So just in case you are there too, I wanted to share a few things with you.

In my morning quite time, (that happens not-so-daily and never before 9am, hello resolution number 1) I have been reading in Isaiah. Specifically, chapters 36-39 about the reign of Hezekiah and the attacks of the king of Assyria. I wanted to share a few things with you as you walk through this first month of 2017.

Isaiah 37:3 “They told him; This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the point of birth and there is no strength to deliver them. It may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the LORD your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant that still survives.” When King Hezekiah’s officials came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard- those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Listen! When he hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.'” 

I think that most of the time my life looks a lot like verse 3. “No strength to deliver.”

 I’ve struggled with depression off and on for most of my adult life, and what I’ve found for myself is that it’s very often a spiritual issue.  Whether it’s a good day, not so good day, or the pits of despair kind of day, there is still this common theme of not enough strength. I feel things deeply. Happy or sad, I get in there deep up to my neck and often over my head.  My strength quickly fades. Maybe you can relate? As I was reading through Isaiah 37, the Holy Spirit brought a few things to light. A step by step guide for me and my tiny strength. I hope it will encourage you this new year.

Vs. 5 “Therefore, Pray”

Vs. 6 ” the LORD says: Do not be afraid”

Vs. 7 “Listen!”

  1. Pray for the remnant- that last bit of strength, faith, courage… whatever it may be. That one mustard seed you have left. He can use it.
  2. Don’t be afraid – umm…yeah… not sure how to do that one yet, but He knows that too, so just keep going.
  3. Listen! “He will return to his own country and there I will have him cut down with the sword.” WOW! Our enemy is already dealt with. God’s got it- I guess that’s how to not be afraid. Sounds a bit more possible now, yes?

If you continue on in verse 10 you will read about messengers coming to deliver a letter to Hezekiah that had been sent by his enemy, the king of Assyria. What did Hezekiah do? He laid it out before the LORD. Starting in verse 14, Hezekiah’s prayer is so beautiful. I especially love the beginning where it says “Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD.”

Man, I wish that was always my first response, don’t you?

Lay it out there. Let it all out. Let the ugly stuff show- He sees it anyway. He hears the words your enemy speaks to you and the lies you’ve told yourself for years. It’s no secret to Him. SPREAD IT OUT

Instead, start listening to the words your Lord has written on your HEART. The things that are true and lovely and praiseworthy. He is faithful. I can guarantee you that the LORD has already defeated your enemy, so the next time he comes at you with his words meant to destroy you, spread them out before the LORD. 

Want to have a fabulous year? Let this be the resolution of your heart.

• Pray • Don’t be afraid • Listen!

Our Days

     Some days are just more fun than others, aren’t they? Most of the time, I try to live in a fairytale where life is lovely and messes just plain don’t exist. I do a pretty good job at focusing on the pretty and ignoring the mess. This is a skill I’ve worked hard to acquire the last 19 years of motherhood. When you have 5 kids, it’s  a very good skill to have. The only problem is, no matter how good I am at ignoring them,

                the messes are still there.

     My bible reading this week, has me thinking a lot about faith and works. When my husband and I were in full time ministry, it was easy for me see the work I was doing for His kingdom. When I worked at a crisis pregnancy clinic, it felt the same. Pouring our lives into others has always been the way we operate. 

     We just moved our family to a new state where we literally know no one, and while I love each new adventure, this girl gets very lonely very quickly. I’m a social girl, and like to be right in the middle of the fun. Right now, it’s easy to feel like I I’m totally missing out. When I mentioned to my husband that I was desperately ready to find a new church home and get plugged into ministry again, he sweetly reminded me that my work at home is no less important. 

Caring for our home and our children is sacred work.



Nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

NOTHING you ever do for the Lord is ever useless.

Home life is a messy business and little things can pile up quickly. The funny thing is, most of the time it’s the little things that overwhelm me. When big things happen, I’m pretty quick to approach the throne with a great big “Help Me!” but when the small things grow to the point of desperation, I just want to lay down and take a nap. 

I’m not alone here, am I? Solidarity, sisters!

Maybe you are in the same boat. I’m here to remind you, as I have been reminded, that your work is sacred and necessary. Folding the laundry can further His kingdom. Crazy, right? How? It’s because of the love in which it’s performed. 

How would our daily lives change if we lived and spoke to each other like this was true? Tell your friends. Tell your children. Teach them now so that God will be invited into their little things too.

Maybe this week, as you stare down the dishes, or the laundry, or the kid who’s been driving you crazy all day, you can ask God to remind you that it’s not about the greatness of the work, it’s all about the LOVE. 

breathe

Inhale… exhale… seems simple, doesn’t it? We don’t usually have to be told to breathe, do we?

When hard times come, even the most natural, basic things can become difficult.

It was during a very difficult time in my family’s life that someone kindly put his hand on my husband’s shoulder and told us to “breathe deeply”. We both grabbed hold of those words like a life raft and held on with what strength we had left.

From then on, it became almost a mantra for us. Breathe. Just breathe, because some days that will be all you can manage.

Like the tiniest grain. A mustard seed of faith. The smallest offering to the One who makes this breathing possible.

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In the beginning, God breathed the breath of life into us. Now we are told that our life is like a breath, but we are to use it praise him.

It’s ok if there are days when all you can do is breathe. It’s how you use that breath that matters most.

This is where the idea of Breathe Cottage came from. A place to rest in His love. A place of encouraging hands and kind words. All offered up as a sacrifice of worship to the One who chose to breathe first.