Let’s be honest – shopping when you’re pregnant or just had a baby can be hard on your emotions and expensive. It’s hard to find places that sell maternity clothes that are affordable and aren’t… More
This season is teaching me a lot about what it means to trust God’s kindness and choosing to be still (yes, again).
A lot of it has to do with my long-neglected habit of stopping to count the gifts in my life, rather than spending my time entertaining the lies and fearful thoughts that cloud my mind.
You see, if I don’t sit still for a moment, things stay foggy.
Have you ever dealt with something for a long period of time and, instead of using your energy to keep fighting it off, you just subconsciously decide to welcome it as a part of you? Almost as an annoying friend you have to take with you everywhere?
That’s me and anxiety.
There are some days where I’m feeling ultra-victorious, when I’ve been encouraged and reminded of the victory I ultimately have in Jesus. And man oh man, on those days am I ever. But then there are other days when it just feels like too much. I feel I don’t have time or energy to fight. I’m tired – physically, emotionally, spiritually – and I just want to give up.
Do you ever feel like that? Like the fog just follows you?
Like fog tends to do, it makes your vision a bit hazy. When I welcome anxiety as a companion instead of seeing it as an enemy, I can’t see well at all. My circumstances look different and my motivations are off, which then leads me to see God through the lens of my circumstances and not through His promises.
Through the lens of the circumstances of my mental health, I see God as unfair. It feels He’s forgotten me, that my prayers are not heard, that He doesn’t want healing for my life. What a hopeless and lifeless place to be.
In His word, though, and through the little graces in my life – if I’ll only stop and ponder them – I’ll see that none of that is true. It’s where working on my faith comes in, where I have a choice to stop and remember.
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I have a sweet baby girl turning twirls in my tummy, who could make her debut any day now. What a gift, what an unfathomable grace to be her mama.
God promises me that He hears my prayers, and will deliver me from all my troubles (Psalm 34:17, 107:13).
My husband is the sweetest gift from God. He is calm when I tremble, sane when my hormones are everywhere, and patient when I am frustrated with lack of control. He fights for me daily and intentionally speaks words of life over my fears and insecurities. What a blessed gift to celebrate.
God promises me that His kindness and His peace will never leave me (Isaiah 54:10).
God has given me a reason for my pain, an outlet to use my brokenness for good. He’s set His vision for a ministry in my heart, and given me a team of women to lock arms with to share His freedom and peace with others. What an incredible opportunity, what a purpose-filled calling.
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Maybe today you find yourself in a tough situation. Maybe you’re struggling with something in your life, and nobody even knows. Maybe there’s a sorrow – a hollow pain – in your heart that longs to be filled with joy.
Can I speak something over you, my friend? You don’t have to stay there, in that dark place. You have the choice to find joy in the promises and presence of God.
You see, God never leaves His children. The realities of His kindness and His mercies may be fogged by our circumstances, but His light and His freedom are always there behind the haze – we just have to choose to find it.
Part of being still is choosing to stop fighting and letting Him fight for us. Instead of giving up and giving into the struggles in our lives, we settle in and welcome His truths as holy weapons for our battles.
Let’s search for joy today – in His word and in the little gifts in our lives. Let’s take time to stop, breathe, and choose to believe in His promises, to let Him stir up the hope and peace in our hearts that we so long for.
It was February of 2015, the month my whole life changed.
Everything was light, and all the sudden there was a dark heaviness. All I knew to be true about myself and about God was questioned in the most twisted ways and I didn’t feel there was any firm place to stand.
Thoughts were consuming, my heart was pounding, and I didn’t trust anyone with the thoughts I had swirling inside my head. Suddenly my thoughts seemed not my own, but from a place I never imagined I would go.
It was the darkest time I’ve ever known. Even calling my condition by name wasn’t very helpful – but only by the process and the journey God gave me was I able to see light again.
The most twisted, ugly, dark, unfamiliar, unlikely, unwelcomed companion.
Most think, as I did before, that people who struggle with OCD are just clean freaks or quirky with lining their pencils straight on their desk. But this mental disorder is so much more than that. OCD takes what you are most afraid of and makes it a possibility in your mind so much that it seems true. In short, it attacks what you love the most in your own mind, leading you to think that you are the one to blame for the destruction that isn’t even happening. Think of the most unlikely and terrifying thought you could ever have, and that’s what OCD plants in your mind, making it seem the thought is your own. There is so much shame, so much guilt, so much fear. It’s crippling.
February of 2015 was the first time in my life that my faith’s strength was truly rocked. It made me hard, cold, distant, and a different version of myself. I was being thrown lies about who I was and as a result, questioned God’s goodness and purpose for me. It was as if everything I knew to be safe and true was suddenly sharp and unnerving like broken glass under my feet.
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Today, I’m still fighting the darkness. Every day my thought life is a battleground I never knew I’d encounter. But there’s light again.
I still question God in the most vulnerable ways. Why would he let this happen to me? Why would he allow this mental disorder to be a part of my life? And although I think it’s okay to ask God those questions as Jesus did (see Matthew 27:46), I was neglecting for the longest time the more important question: “Lord, how can this be used to help someone else?”
You see, pain always has a purpose.
As my pastor wisely spoke on Easter Sunday, “Your purpose in life is not to understand your ruins, but to seek how your ruins can rebuild someone else.”
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One of my Bible study leaders, sweet sweet Lisa, used to remind us over and over again that we have a “so that” moment. She would read to us, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (emphasis mine)
I love her for that because I can’t count on my fingers and toes how many times that thought has flown through my mind.
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On April 5, I woke up expectant.
Earlier that week, I felt God stirring something inside me, and I just knew He was soon going to give me His ideas. I had asked some friends to pray, and I knew that on that Wednesday there would be special time to sit in some quiet and listen for Him to speak.
He gave me a vision for an online ministry to help women heal and find freedom in the midst of their brokenness through the written word. My calling and my pain, combined into one vision.
It’s my “so that” moment, my opportunity to share my broken places and the ways He’s touched me and healed me, so that maybe someone else can experience it too.
He’s calling me to step out in faith and be vulnerable in my weakest places, so the strength of His love and power can shine even stronger and provide hope for His girls out there that need encouragement and freedom.
He’s calling me to build a team of women to do it with me – to write about their broken places and use their pain for a purpose, and to create images and pretty reminders for His girls to be encouraged in His truth.
I wonder if this is your “so that” moment too? Would you pray about it? Would you seek the Lord in this, and ask Him sincerely if He’s calling you to share your gifts to help His kingdom grow?
*If you’d like to learn more about the opportunities available to be a part of this launch team, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to share with you more of this vision, and about the Designer position in more detail! We are currently at our max for Contributing Writers, but are still accepting applications and are in need of TWO Designers to launch the site!
In a little over four months, I’ll become a mama.
Aside from a few years of being in denial about wanting children (and in doing so, thinking I was protecting myself from the possibility of never getting married), I always knew I wanted to be a mother. As a child, baby dolls were my toys of choice. I dressed them in real baby clothes, powdered them with real baby powder, strolled them around, rocked them, cleaned them, and even had a couple baby scrapbooks to document, well . . . I’m not really sure.
I would ask my parents and grandparents to take me shopping so that I could be sure I had all I needed to be a good mother. And, in all my seven or eight years of wisdom, I thought I was doing a pretty good job.
And now here I sit, as baby Finley squirms around inside of me, tossing and turning and making me smile with every kick and punch. The footage of her recent sonogram stays pulled up on my computer because I just can’t seem to ever tire of watching her move and seeing her little heart beat. It brings me to tears when I think about what a miracle she is – every bone and ligament and cell placed right where it’s supposed to be by a God that loves her more than even I, her own mother. I am in awe at the purpose with which He knit her in my womb and am so honored that I get to be a part of her life.
In the moments when I’m not a basket case over the sweetness of this gift, I think practically about the things I need to mother her well. Some things are similar to what I used on my baby dolls at seven years old, but there’s one thing I never thought of until one of my long drives to work.
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You could say I’m an adult.
I’ve lived on my own for a few years, during which time I’ve bought my own toilet paper (that, my friends, felt like a really big adjustment). I’ve graduated college, work a full-time job, and have been through the processes of buying a house and a car (thanks, hubs). I know how to chop garlic and how to iron and how to take care of myself and my husband (for the most part because – hello – always learning).
I was raised by my parents and now I’m in this place in life where I’m doing it all on my own.
That seems to be our mindset, right? Or, our goal, even? Our parents raise us and once we’re raised, their work is done, and we go out on our own and all the sudden are able to make these really important decisions and finish our race in all of our adult-ness. Until we mess up, or realize we don’t know what the heck we’re doing.
I guess what I never thought about when pondering my list of needs as a new mommy is the truth that I’m always going to need to be parented.
On a drive to work one morning, I fought with God for at least half the way about a decision I wanted to make. You see, I really wanted to stop at Chick-fil-A and get a biscuit, even though my husband and I agreed to one meal out per week, to keep ourselves within a good budget, and I’d already had lunch out the day before. But there were hormones and hunger pangs and I just really didn’t want to wait that extra ten minutes it took to get to the office and toast a frozen waffle. And so I fought.
I’m proud to say that I didn’t stop and get a biscuit (that day), but as I drove past the parking lot full of people enjoying all the Jesus chicken, I felt in my spirit God say to me, “Let me parent you.”
Oops. Talk about humbling.
You see, maybe my parents’ job is finished in their raising of me (and to that they probably say ‘hallelujah because that was tough’), but I should always make room for God to step in and have the final say-so.
I’m about to be a parent, but I still need parenting.
When I’m wanting a chicken biscuit that’s unhealthy and dishonors our budget, or when my lack of sleep as a new mom gets the best of me, or even when He tells me to keep saying yes when all I want to say is no.
When I’m adjusting to parenthood and need some direction, when Tyler and I are making big decisions for our little family, when we’re doing all we can to raise our baby girl in a corrupt world, or when nobody told me being pregnant resembled feeling like an exhausted whale.
Later, when Finley is growing too fast and I just want time to stop, or when Finley’s a teenager and has a smart mouth (this’ll be payback), or when she has her first boyfriend (Lord help my sweet husband), I’ll especially need the comfort, direction, and guidance from my heavenly father.
And just like when we were kids and fought our parents’ instructions because we didn’t understand them (I hated that curfew), sometimes the Holy Spirit will whisper something that makes no sense and we have to have the humility and the obedience to follow anyway.
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In what areas of your life do you need to invite and allow God to parent you today?
I have some specific areas that come to mind for myself where I’ve been extra stubborn, and I’m praying through that today.
I so hope you’ll join me, because to let God in is to welcome freedom, and I don’t know about you, but I always need more of that.
Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the LORD will be joyful. The wise are known for their understanding, and pleasant words are persuasive. Discretion is a life-giving fountain to those who possess it, but discipline is wasted on fools. -Proverbs 16:20-22
I’ve been wanting to write this ever since the day we said “I do!” and, to be honest, I look at photos of our wedding day probably a little too frequently. I just loved it; it was the best of days.
If you’ve never planned a wedding before, let me just clear something up: it’s not easy. And the hard part doesn’t even really come from the logistics, but from the opinions of others. If you let them, the pressures that spill from other peoples’ words will steal your joy in your wedding-planning season. I admit, I fell into that trap – at first.
As some of you know, Tyler and I started dating again in June 2015. We both knew pretty quickly where God was leading us, so it wasn’t a shock to many people that we were going to get married. What was a shock to everyone, is how short our time of engagement was. To some, it seemed like we didn’t have the patience to wait; to us, it felt like a long time coming. That’s a post for another time, but I’ll sum up our short engagement like this: when my peace gets a certain amount of heavy about what God wants me to do, it’s so much easier for me to jump.
So, the wedding planning began. With a combination of a small budget and our readiness and excitement to start our journey together, you could say our thinking got a bit crazy. If you know me, I’m a planner and normally like to have things well thought-out before I do something. But with this? All of that went out the window. And I was 100% okay with it.
THE BACK STORY
We started out by setting the date at September 10th, 2016. We were going to get married in the town where we grew up, in an outside chapel at the city park, and have the reception in one of the conference rooms nearby. And then, we started on the guest list. Looking at that next to our slim budget made my stress levels skyrocket, and we knew we had to go with another plan.
The beach, for us, has always been a very special place. It was on a day trip we took to Gulf Shores in the summer of 2015, that I knew I wanted to be his travel partner forever. Tyler and I had tossed around the idea of getting married at the beach, but always as a dream, not a suggestion. The more we talked about it, the more we decided we were just crazy enough to do it. We decided around the first of June that we would get married on July 23rd in Navarre, FL (that’s right – a month away). Needless to say, we had some very opinionated responses to that. But we just had to decide that it didn’t matter – this is what we wanted.
I had about a month to plan, so all in June, we bought my wedding dress (thank you, Mom!), Tyler’s outfit, makeup, accessories, a burlap runner to use for the aisle, and some tiki torches to use for decoration at the wedding. We also ordered and sent out invitations!
Oh, and my stepdad got ordained.
I borrowed everything for the reception from my too-generous aunt, and made reservations at the only place large enough in the city to hold everybody. Because of our funds and space, we were only able to invite our families and a few of my closest friends. It was a hard decision, but one we had to make.
WEDDING DAY – MORNING
Things got crazier leading up to the wedding, as it was hard for our guests to find places to stay on such short notice, in the middle of the summer. By the grace of God, everyone found a place, and everything was ready!
Tyler and I drove down to Florida after our work days on Friday, the 22nd, and stayed with his parents at a condo they rented. I woke up the next morning, on my wedding day, in disbelief that our day was actually happening. I was so excited and had the greatest peace.
Unlike many weddings I’ve been to and have been a part of, it was the chillest wedding morning ever. Tyler came into my room that morning as I was waking up, kissed my head, and whispered, “Happy wedding day. I love you. There’s coffee in the kitchen.”
I walked in the common room, grabbed some coffee, and enjoyed it on the balcony overlooking the beach. Later, we walked down to the beach with family and enjoyed time together until it was time for my hair/makeup artist (AKA my little sister) to arrive to start my prep.
It took about two hours for me to get ready, and then it was time to go!
Makeup and Hair: Sydney Gillilan (sister)
Dress: Altar’d State
Bouquet: Michelle Shelton (mama)
Photographers: Michelle Shelton, Kayla Partridge
There haven’t been too many times in my life that something important went awry, and I laughed in response. The start to our wedding ceremony just happens to be one of those things.
As I was finishing up gluing my fake eyelashes onto my face in the car, we pulled up to the city pavilion, where I imaged we’d walk through to the beach, and everything would be laid out and ready to go (because nobody is on the beach at 6PM right? People have to eat! Wrong. So wrong.). I open the back door to the car, and see my mom standing in the middle of the parking lot, looking like she’s been in summer’s heat for an hour. No makeup (or maybe it was there at one point?), and a nervous look on her face, she walks toward us and whispers something to my sister. About five minutes later, I find out that someone has laid on our burlap runner (my aisle) as if it’s a beach towel to sunbathe, and my sister is in the process of telling them not-so-kindly to MOVE. I laughed really hard.
At about 6:15, the strange people had finally found something else to lay on, and my precious friends and family had found somewhere else to set up my little wedding. And so it was time.
I latched onto my daddy’s arm, and we made our way to where everyone was standing. “Which side are you supposed to stand on?” he asked. “Ehh.. I don’t know. We’ll figure it out.” With a shocked look on his face, he responded, “You must really want this. I’ve never known you to just ‘wing’ anything.” “Yes, I do,” I said with a smile. About a half a mile later (okay, a little bit exaggerated), we reached the runner and from that point forward, the only person I saw was Tyler and the only thing I felt was the peace and presence of God.
Officiate: Kyle Shelton (stepdad)
Music: Lauren Oden, Violin // Katie Compton Brasher, Guitar and Vocals // “La Reyna” – Penny & Sparrow (wedding song), “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You”, Be Thou My Vision (special), Make You Feel My Love – Adele
After we made our covenant in front of our loved ones, we started back down the aisle as one (with, might I add, an awkward delay in music). We made our way up to a hill nearby and had a moment together of “wow. this is it!” before it was time for a few photos.
We pulled up to East River, which I had only seen in photos, and I hoped to Jesus that everything would be decent. It far exceeded my expectations. Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, the company, the delicious food, the view of the beautiful bay, and the live music!
It was so fun to have everyone in one place, and I’ve never felt more celebrated or beautiful in my life. After everyone’s bellies were full, we danced in the sand and took some more photos before the sun went down.
Food and Host: East River Smokehouse – Navarre, Florida
Cake: baked by Publix, decorated by Jake Funderburg, Gina Poole, and Beth Tate (sweet in-laws)
Decorations: courtesy of Rhona Osborne (love that aunt of mine)
To my sister, Sydney, that threw my bridal shower, prettied me up for my big day, and made me feel like the most beautiful of brides. Oh – and chased down the people who laid on top of my aisle.
To my stepdad, Kyle, who willingly (and over-excitedly) stepped up to marry us. We were honored to have you officiate our wedding.
To my mama, who took beautiful photos, laced together my bouquet, bought flowers the morning-of, worked tirelessly to make sure my day went smoothly, and did so much more than I probably realize.
To Jake, my brother-in-love, who took initiative to create our cake, buy decorations, and make it look awesome with the help of other sweet family members.
To Brittany, the best of friends, who bought me a pre-game sandwich so I wouldn’t pass out mid-vows. You’re a lifesaver.
To our friends and family, who helped with set-up and take down, and who supported Tyler and I in our wedding decisions, as crazy and disastrous as they might have seemed. Thank you for your understanding and willingness to support our wedding dreams.
To everyone else who played a part in our wedding day, thank you thank you thank you. It was the best day of our lives to date, and we couldn’t have done it without you!
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!