it’s time to celebrate

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.

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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

 

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Life Update

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.

Marriage

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.


Adulthood

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.

Rori

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.


Community

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.

Trust

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.

Highlands College

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!

Read this if you’re asking God for something.

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.

Not Rori.

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.


She’ll only eat if I love on her a bit first. She’s not satisfied to give anything else her attention until I bend down, hold her in my arms, soothe her, and let her love on me back- slobber and all.

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

What We’ve Learned as Newlyweds

Marriage.

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.

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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.


My husband isn’t a writer, but I asked him to share some things he’s learned, too. Here’s what he said:

  • 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.


I’d love to hear what you’ve learned in marriage, or any advice you have for us! Feel free to share some wisdom in the comment box below. 🙂

When You Feel God Has Failed You

There have been moments in my life where I have felt that God has failed me.

Maybe my prayers weren’t being answered the way I thought I needed, or I wasn’t seeing His promises being fulfilled in my life based on what I saw. Recently, I’ve allowed my surroundings to depict the truth about God’s love for me.

One day last week, I sat down to read my devotion from First5. And man, was it a good word.

It was based on Numbers 30, where Moses is addressing Israel’s leaders on the importance of vows – vows they made to God, more specifically.

“When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.” – Numbers 30:2

Now, I don’t know about you, but I take wedding vows super serious, despite the tendency of our society to throw them out the window pretty easily. Also, the fact that I’m getting married in 5 days (swoon) makes this vow subject a little more dear to my heart.

When I marry my best friend on Saturday, I will make vows to him in front of my closest friends and family. I will state promises complimenting the covenant I am choosing to make to him and to our Heavenly Father.

In the same way I will say those vows this weekend, I also made vows to God when I professed Him as my Lord in front of a body of believers. Do you remember that moment, when God saved you? So energizing, so refreshing, so new and exciting that no moment could even compare.

I’m afraid that sometimes our focus drifts and we become more focused on ourselves and our circumstances than on Heaven. Our newness of life wears away and our fire is dimmed – so we begin to engage in a lifeless and repetitive cycle of a request-filled relationship with our Father. If we don’t intentionally remain connected, our vows become duties or a checklist we become too tired to mark off.

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Image downloaded from First5 App.

Will you join me in asking yourself some questions and giving yourself honest answers?

What are some vows you believe we make to God when we choose Him as our Lord and Savior? Write these down.

Do you believe you are fulfilling these vows in your every day life? If so, how? If not, what are some practical actions steps you could take to do so?

When was the last time you were excited to fulfill your vows to God?

I’ve seen in myself that when I am not intentionally committed and fulfilling my promises to the Lord, those are the times I tend to believe God is not fulfilling His promises to me. Could it be that God has not failed us, but is waiting on us to take the relationship more seriously? How do we expect God to honor and bless us when we so easily neglect our commitment to Him in big and small ways?

Let’s choose to believe that, despite our surroundings, God is good. Because He is. He always sees us, always loves us, and is always after our heart. But He will not push Himself on us. He’s already chosen us, we must choose Him back – day after day.

Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.

– Psalm 61:8

I don’t have to sink.

I stood there as firm as I could in the sand, feeling the waves crash over my feet one by one. At first, the water took away my foundation and then, a few waves in, I began to sink.

I like to play this game when the beach is within reach. I stand there for a while and see just how long I can make it without sinking.

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This time it brought me to a moment with God.

This year has been my hardest so far I do believe. Has it been wonderful? Absolutely, yes. But mentally and emotionally, it’s been rough. The waves of my mental disorder have threatened to leave me without assurance, without peace, without foundation.

Somewhere along my struggle, I began to sink. I wasn’t in community with my people, I shut truth out because I didn’t see evidence of it, and I stopped chasing after God. I asked the popular question “why?” and became more and more frustrated at His silence. I still don’t have answers and I don’t know that I ever will.

All I know is that I can’t conquer the waves. As long as I’m standing in the sand – the only foundation I can build myself – and tackle the currents alone, I will sink.

God is the only foundation on which I can stand tall and free.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” – Matthew 7:24-27

Wait For Him

I write to you today feeling so underserving of what I’m about to describe.

He is kind. He is unbelievably loving. He gives grace more times than I can count. He holds my hand when I’m afraid. He is strong in his faith and grounds me when I’m shaky with anxiety. He is trustworthy. He is generous. He is wonderful. He is imperfect, yes, but loves me so well. He is protective. He is encouraging. He is careful with my heart. He is patient. He reminds me how to have fun. He cherishes me and rejoices in every facet of my weirdness. He is handsome- inside and out. Most importantly, I see Jesus in him every day. He isn’t everything I always wanted; he is better.


Hey lady? Wait for this.

Years upon years I struggled with being single, not understanding why God was waiting to give me my heart’s desire. I look at Tyler and I know why.

I look back at our time together and our lives before it and I see so clearly God’s orchestration and purpose. He knit our stories together so intentionally and beautifully.

In April of 2015 I remember telling God that I would be single for life if that’s what He wanted. I wouldn’t promise to like it, but I would do it.

May of 2015, Tyler came back into my life.

Please don’t hear me say that if you take certain steps you’ll get certain results. But I pray you hear so clearly that God desires to provide what you need. Pray for patience, talk to Him when you get angry and tired of waiting, and press into Him when you are overwhelmed with the limitations of your own understanding.

He has fulfilled promises for you up ahead, girl. Believe it in your heart more than you know it in your head.

You can see our full story here.