There’s a purpose to the pain – not to focus on the ashes, but on how God can use you to reach others through them.
Some days it feels like a win.
Coffee is set to make in the morning, lunches are made with a sweet note inside. The floor is swept and candles are lit. Dinner is on the table just in time for stomachs to growl, and the dinnertime prayer is full of thankfulness and gratitude.
Other days, it just feels like a mess.
The pantry is empty because we’re plain busy and clothes haven’t been washed in days. There’s dust on the picture frames and we’re almost out of toothpaste (again). Work is stressful and I haven’t painted my toenails in months.
Yes – ups and downs. But always together.
What a gift we have in this covenant, what a beautiful thing we share. It’s hard and it’s easy. It’s fun and it’s the most vulnerable I’ve ever been. But to have someone see you so close up, with more flaws and quirks than they ever thought a person could have, and for them to say they love you even more than before? That’s a gift.
What a picture of Jesus. What a slice of heaven on earth.
Today for lunch, I went to one of my favorite spots. I got cozy in my booth and enjoyed a much-needed hearty meal for the first time in months (thank you to my appetite, who decided to make its grand return this week).
As I waited on my food, I heard buzz all around me, coming from business meetings, mom-to-mom lunch dates, and other chatters. Slowly but surely, I began to feel lonely.
It occurred to me, however, while I sat with my hand propped on my hungry tummy, that I wasn’t alone at all. There’s a little life inside of me.
That’s a small, but big thing to process. Kind of like the idea of having a baby in general.
My baby is small (the app on my phone says he or she is the size of a plum – how cute!), but so, so very big. Big enough to change my focus, how Tyler and I use our money, and the way I function (hello, hormones and dizziness). Big enough to give my body a second heart beat, and to make me feel as if my own heart could burst with joy, excitement, or fear at any given moment.
With great purpose set by God, this little life lives inside me, small but big.
And the more I think about it, my life should be that – small, but big.
There are times when I should stay small. Under the shelter and in the safety of my Father’s wings, in the humility of my need for grace, in the quietness of His presence.
Other times, I need to be bigger. In loving people out of my comfort zone, dreaming God-sized dreams, having faith that moves mountains, and answering calls on my life that are so much bigger than me and my ability.
Small, like that little whisper you hear when Holy Spirit speaks to your heart. Big, like the amazing and perfect love our Father lavishes on us. Small, like the baby boy who entered this world with great purpose. Big, like the most captivating and sacrificial “I love you” that anyone could ever say.
The past few weeks have been . . . (what word do I even use?) . . . a bit chaotic in the Funderburg household.
On Friday, November 18th, my husband and I were surprised to discover that we are expecting! That’s right, I’m growing a human.
On Saturday, December 3rd, we decided to go look at some car options since my beloved Cobalt blows across the road with a gust of wind and has a too-tiny-to-fit-a-carseat backseat. So, we settled on a 2013 Chevy Equinox from a reputable dealership in town. We loved the size and the color and the features and all was well. Until the days following, when we discovered a horrifying problem and I seriously had a conversation with myself about whether or not it was plagued (hint: post title. I know – ew!).
Beyond that, we’ve had some (minor) health scares and our heat go out (twice), along with my fun nausea and feeling of being gross and useless because of how tired I am.
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Without an eternal perspective (and trust me, that outlook is my initial reaction with things like this), it’s easy to get emotional (hello, hormones) and just downright frustrated pretty quickly.
But with an eternal perspective, it’s easy to see that the enemy is trying everything he can to steal, kill, and destroy our joy. Here we are, starting out the holiday season excited about a precious baby on the way, and in he steps with all-the-things. Jokes on him, because I’m onto his scheme.
I wonder what he’s trying with you right now? I wonder what nuisance, what fear, what doubt, what situation he’s pouring into your life to make you forget the goodness of God?
See, my battle isn’t against the car or the heater, “but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).”
Let’s choose to fight, my friend. And by fight, I mean stand still and let our God war for us the battle He’s already won.
“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:17
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14
I pray this over you, over us, and hope that you will grab onto the promises of God today and trust in His victory:
A whirl of frustration swirls around me as hard situations come and thoughts of doubt creep in. Today, I’m choosing to declare that in Your name, I have victory over the enemy and his schemes.
In Jesus’ name, I am blessed when I go in and when I go out. I am the head and not the tail, above and not beneath. In Jesus’ name, darkness, you have no power here. Sickness, you have no power here. Chaos, you have no power here! I declare that my God will trample my enemies under His feet, and will lift me up, blessing me with good things. I am His child, I am blessed, and no harm may come to me in the name of Jesus! My God will fight for me, I need only be still. At the sound of Jesus’ name, all darkness must flee, and all joy, hope, and peace reside. Thank you, Jesus, for Your sweet name, and for fighting for me.
In Your name I pray, Amen!
This time last year, I imagine I was probably sitting in a classroom in my athletic shorts and sweatshirt (that business school was cold in the mornings). I was also probably counting down the minutes until class would be over, so I’d be able to go grab food with a friend or head back to my room for my weekly Harry Potter marathon.
It was a hard season, truth be told. There were unexpected doctor visits with unexpected diagnoses, anxieties and thoughts like a black cloud in my mind, and the pressures of expectations for my adult life crashing in like all-consuming waves.
I clung to Jesus like I never had before, and depended on him for every morsel of strength. I wept almost daily as I fought spiritual warfare that I never expected to be so familiar with. I lost fellowship with people and yearned for someone – anyone – to understand me. I felt isolated, defeated, fearful, and robbed of joy.
I lost sight of my purpose, deemed myself unredeemable, and begged Him to take it all away.
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Now that the black cloud is gone and He has healed me, I am in a new season. Not just mentally and emotionally, but the world around me looks a lot different.
In May, I got engaged to the love of my life. We were married in July, and it was the happiest of days. He is my God-sent light in the dark.
Also in May, I graduated from the school I called home, and started my first big-girl job at the beginning of June.
Today, instead of the comfort of athletic shorts and a sweatshirt, I wear a dress and makeup. I sit at a desk that looks a lot different, in an office that’s cozy surrounded by a hallway of people I love, but who are different than my former classmates.
It’s all very different, and I’m really just trying to figure out how to go from being a t-shirt-wearing, coffee shop-habitant of a college student to an adulting Mrs. And I’ve decided that’s it’s okay to admit that it’s a beautifully hard thing.
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In this new, adult, married life, I am someone new. I have a new name, a new life, a new season in which I can be used by God in places I couldn’t before.
I’m in the process of learning the balance between mourning a season that has been lost, with all the built-in, relatable community and the free time, and rejoicing in this beautiful new season I’ve been given, that sometimes makes me do a double-take and ask God, “how in the world do I deserve such a blessing as this?”
Maybe you feel that way too? I don’t know where you are in life, or what season you’re in. Maybe you’re in a hard season, or are coming out of one like I am.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from where I just came from, it’s that there is always a new season around the corner, always redemption for the seemingly unredeemable, always a new song that you can learn to sing. And when Jesus seems the farthest from you, He is the closest, working everything out in your life for His purpose and your good.
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When I came across the words of Sara Gilmore, I realized something: I need to celebrate more, and I need to intentionally point out the things that are worth celebrating. I believe when we choose to celebrate, we invite God into our lives in a special way, and I believe we can breathe easier as we take every opportunity to thank Him for what He’s given us, instead of spending almost every moment asking Him to take the hard things away.
Like her, I feel prepped for redemption, for a season of celebration.
So, I’ve dedicated my November to celebrating my new season. Every day leading up to Thanksgiving, I’ll be posting about something (or someone) I’m celebrating.
Will you join me in celebrating yours? Feel free to join me with this hashtag (#choosecelebration) on any social media. I’d love to see what you’re thankful for each day!
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. – Psalm 100:4
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
I do this thing where I feel like, until I have something to really say, I can’t write.
I’m beginning to see that viewing my gift that way is harmful, being that I know God has called me to a life of the written word.
So here I am, showing up today – not with any “sticky statement” or words that soothe, but with all the vulnerability and rawness that is me to tell you a little about what’s going on in my life and what I’m learning.
I just love my husband. And I love that God chose us for each other, to come together as one and do His kingdom work. I love running my race with him, waking up next to his mustached face every single morning, and being his best friend. It is the biggest joy of my life in this season just to get to love him.
The first little bit wasn’t without its challenges. How could it not be? We are two very different people coming from two very very different backgrounds. The meshing of us took, and still takes, a little growing pain. But I love the beauty in that. In Jesus Christ, there is always togetherness. And he’s my favorite kind of togetherness.
We’ve gotten to spend a lot of great time together lately, including a wonderful trip to the mountains with some of his side of the family. It was such a gift to get away for the weekend and take some time to reconnect, be still, and marvel at the beauty that is our Savior.
Ah, this. Y’all. It is so hard.
There are great parts about it, indeed. I have a beautiful home that I get to decorate and a job that treats me well. But that part of me that was ready to graduate college and start something new didn’t necessarily think about how all of her friends were going to move to different states, or have a full-time job that kept them busy, or still have that college life she now is without, to so inevitably cause (what I call) changing pains. It becomes hard to relate, hard to work coffee dates in, and hard to juggle responsibilities.
I’ll talk more on that in a moment, but that’s my main thought about adulthood today. In that difficult realization, I pray that God will stretch my faith in Him, and surround me with that encouragement and doing-life-together-commitment that I once had.
That sweet baby. She is so sassy and (oh my goodness) talks back to us just like she’s a teenager. She’s been sick the last few days and has been hanging out outside, but still needy as ever. Part of me just loves that. Somebody needing me. She’s precious and I’m so glad she’s a part of our little family.
Tyler and I are in a small group and it’s given us a wonderful source of older couples to look to as mentors. We are also in a curriculum called FREEDOM and are learning a lot about ourselves and the grace of God. We love it and look forward to going every week!
I think where we struggle is finding couples our age to be in community with. Because we’re both new to this thing, we’re also new to finding community in our life stage. As for me, this is the first time I’ve ever had to search for people my age to be friends with. Kindergarten through senior year of college? All I ever saw were people my age. So that’s hard. But I know God is always at work.
As I’ve already mentioned a couple times, I’m really working on this trust thing. With community, with my time, with my money, with mine and Tyler’s marriage, with my life. There are so many questions I long to have answered, but I know in the silence I just have to stay close to Him.
I knew at my first preview day that I was supposed to go. And I had a pretty good idea why. Jokes.
Just for the past 6 weeks of being a student at HC, the whole reason I’m there has changed. I went from thinking I was going to be a social media-er and “marketer,” if you will, for a church someday to knowing deep within me that I am supposed to write. That is my call.
Problem is, none of the directed studies dealt at all with that. So, I switched to a different program in the same school, which I was not expecting. I still feel that strong call to HC, and I don’t know why God put me there yet. But I’m excited to find out.
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. . . So that’s me these days! I’d love to hear updates from you as well. If you’d like to keep up with me and our little family, be sure to check out this page to follow me on social media!
My husband and I have a Great Dane puppy.
Rori is a little over three months old and, as you can imagine, is a ball full of energy. She makes us laugh with her backtalk (or backbark) when we tell her to go to bed, gives us a reason to work on our patience, and shows us what innocent love looks like.
Lately, I’ve had a bit of trouble getting Rori to eat. Now this is unusual for me because every dog (especially puppy) that I’ve known has always played the same part in the same scenario: they stare wide-eyed at the rattling bowl as I slowly make my way to the floor, and then proceed to eat every last crumb as if they have never had food in their life.
It’s not because she’s not hungry or because she’s disinterested in the brand of puppy food, but because she’s too excited that I’m in the room.
This morning as I once again bent down and held her close, it hit me.
We should be more like Rori.
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As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I’ve had a bit of a mental struggle going on the past year. As I’ve been praying for healing and wrestling with God over the ‘why’s, He’s been saying to me, “I want you to want Me more than you want the healing.”
Gosh, what a thought to ponder.
Rori gets it. She may not understand the ‘sit’ command yet, or even the ‘don’t wreck the house’ command, but she understands loving her mommy before she loves the things Mommy gives her.
God wants us to love Him like Rori loves on me – with wild abandon, passion, and excitement. He wants us to love and desire Him first, to come and sit with Him and be still in His presence, before we ask and expect and want other things.
Does He long to bless us? Of course He does, He’s our Father. But even more – He wants our hearts, He wants a relationship with us.
So I’m actively working on this, and I hope you’ll join me. Let’s choose to seek Him first before all things, and before we enjoy the blessings He gives us or ask for even more, let’s sit in His presence as He bends down, holds us in His arms, and soothes us.
After all, what in the world is better than being in the presence of our Savior? Absolutely nothing.
What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving.
People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself. – Luke 12:31-32 MSG, emphasis mine
…and my people, my God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health. – 2 Chronicles 7:14 MSG
I’m asking God for one thing,
only one thing:
To live with him in his house
my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate his beauty;
I’ll study at his feet. – Psalm 27:4 MSG
It smells like my husband’s toots and yummy meals on the stove.
It tastes like morning breath and coffee handed to me in the morning when I wake up.
It feels like the hell-like temperature of the thermostat and the best hugs I’ve ever known.
It sounds like his toothbrush tapping loudly on the bathroom sink and the whispers of “you’re so beautiful” over and over.
It looks like a never-ending to-do list and the longest and best date I’ve ever been on.
It’s an odd thing to describe, but the best way I’ve found is to say it’s the most beautiful mess I’ve ever been apart of.
I’ve been in this covenant for a very short time, but I feel like I’ve learned a lot. I’ve listed some of my naive thoughts below:
- Trying to eat healthy is so much harder when you’re feeding another person.
- Waking up next to the person you love most is the most comforting and safe feeling.
- Pick your battles, friend.
- Most of the time when I’m aggravated, it’s because I’m really just selfish. I’ve learned to pray before I respond.
- Validation is a big thing for my husband. He likes to be told he’s good at taking care of me and loves me well.
- Cooking together is so very fun – especially when Justin Timberlake is jamming with you over the speaker.
- It’s okay to take time to adjust.
- Taking time to talk about your days is important before putting up the dishes and washing clothes.
- Hearing his deep voice whisper prayers over me is life-giving.
- Take some time to notice the others’ efforts and to shower them with thanksgiving.
- Ever heard that “marriage is sanctifying” phrase? Yeah, no joke.
- When something he does bothers me, take a moment to remember what he does that I love and am thankful for.
- Even if you don’t like him that day, choose to love him. Choose to recall and remember those vows.
- Nightly foot rubs are a love language.
- Going to bed at 8 PM can be a couple hobby.
- Sometimes finding activities to do that you both enjoy can be like trying to fit a square block into a triangle shaped hole…but it’s even sweeter – and somewhat humbling – when you see your husband intentionally make time to sit on the couch and watch a movie with you – even though he can’t stand sitting still.
- Knowing that you have a life partner that loves you more than you deserve is such a sweet feeling.
- Women are very strange characters.
- I am no longer the sheriff in town.
- I actually enjoy having someone in the bed with me.
- Coffee time with my wife is one of my favorite things.
- People make marriage seem like a chore – and it’s totally not. It’s fun.
- Even when my baby’s salty, she’s still the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen.
- I love Taylor a lot more than I ever thought I could.