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,ย 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:ย I need to celebrate more, and I need to intentionally point out the things that are worth celebrating.ย 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 Godโ€™s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

 

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

One Heart. Two Places.

There’s nothing I dislike more than having my heart in two places.

photo-1422189668989-08f214d6e419Have you ever felt that? On the one hand, I want to be with my people at school. I love this community of girls that have walked through life with me in my college years and have been my home away from home. But on the other hand, I want to be in the house that contains my own bed, my best friends that I call sisters, my parents, and everything that I know to be home.
Either place I wish to be, I’m losing. If I’m at school, I’m missing my family and friends and heck, even my dogs. And I’m losing time with them. I’m missing gymnastics meets and laughs in the kitchen and singing in the car. If I’m at home, I’m missing movie nights and campus events and all the lasts that I might not ever have the opportunity for again.

You can see I’m in a bit of a pickle, smack dab in the middle of this emotional mess of senior year, and all I can tell you that I’ve gotten from this so far is that distance makes the heart grow fonder.

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It’s funny to me that I waited until the last year to really get upset about this whole two-homes situation. You’d think by now I’d be A-OK and it’d be a breeze to watch my little sister’s hand wave goodbye out my back window, or to cancel my weekly lunch with a friend so I can ride home a little early. But no, quite the contrary.

I think that’s God reminding me yet again of how much I need Him, and how I’ll never be in a place where I can do it alone. Even when it’s good things that I’m struggling to balance, I still need Him to be my help and my patience and my strength to carry on. It’s Him reminding me that all things are temporary – the moving and the goodbyes and the trade-offs.

It’s Him reminding me that this place is not my true home.

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Some of you may not know me well, and therefore may not know the old soul that I am. Part of this is shown in the way that I love the sound of old gospel music. Today I was catching up on the message series at my church, and came upon one I missed on Heaven. My pastor spoke a message of encouragement, and ended by bringing up a song that has always soothed my soul.

When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory. Onward to the prize before us! Soon His beauty we’ll behold. Soon the pearly gates will open; we shall tread the streets of gold!

What a beautiful reminder it is that the struggles of this life are nothing compared to the glory and gift that is our Jesus. When we have this eternal hope, we have joy like nothing else could possibly offer.ย 

Let this song soothe your soul today, friends. It is well with our souls because no matter the current nature of the journey, Heaven is our destination.

When a Heart Breaks

I’m in a time in my life right now that’s so happy.

Are things perfect? Of course not. I have the occasional fear of the future and aggravation of school work when all I want to do is be with my people in the time I’ve got left and the list goes on and on.

But I’m so happy in this pretty little moment I’m in. It’s cozy but stretching. It requires a lot of me and a lot of trust in God, but is rewarding.

But if you want to know something that may not be seen so clearly from the outside, it took a lot to get here.

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Everyone has a story and I believe everyone should tell it. The happy, the sad, the growing, the hurt, and the redemption.

I feel like I’m in that redemption phase. I don’t know how long it’ll last, but I’m enjoying it. But please hear me when I say that just because I’m not in a current place of hurt, doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what it feels like. I don’t think I ever will.

I’ve got some friends that are hurting right now. They’re popping up everywhere in my life all with the same problem: break-ups.

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I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a 15-year-old girl sitting on the curb outside my house. My relationship and my normal was over and I felt alone. Empty. Scared. Embarrassed. Bare. Burdened.

I remember thinking that God had a better plan, a better story for me. I knew it in my head, but I didn’t believe it in my heart. Call it dramatic and call it ignorant and immature, but I was incredibly heartbroken.

That was about 4 and a half years ago. I dealt with it a lot past that spring day, into my college years. But I cannot even tell you just how much God used that relationship and the end of it to teach me about grace and forgiveness and love. I get chill bumps even thinking of it now.

Like the loving and beautiful Father He is, He took me up in His arms and strengthened me again. He gave me an identity in Him. He showed me what real Love looks like, what It does, how It acts. He took me on a journey of growth, showed me my purpose in singleness and in life after school. He took me from a relationship I thought was good and showed me why it wasn’t over time and I praise Him evermore for it. He put the life back in me and gave me a community of people that was hurt in the same area so we could encourage each other.

Hey friend that’s hurting? He’ll do that for you too. But you have to give it to Him. There is life on the other side of this pain. Surrender it to Him, and you’ll see.

Know that He is close. Take captive every thought and abolish the lies with His truth. Repeat in your heart that He bears your burdens with you and He is close to the brokenhearted.

Finding God in the Good and Bad

This week I’m burdenedย by the things I can’t control.

The clock clicking by way too fast. The Monday madness that results from technical difficulties. The empty conversations on the other side of the phone.

Yesterday I had a moment where I began to pray for patience and to have more and more of the character of God in situations where my flesh wants to overcome.

Somewhere in the middle of this crazy good summer, I’ve forgotten that I not only want God, I need Him. How insane of me to do so, right? To not remember that every breath and every meal and every coffee and everything comes from Him?

Compared to being at school with all the tests and projects and presentations, I’d say summer (this one, anyway) has very few struggles and a whole lot more control of what goes on (AKA pretty much nothing). There’s a lot more room to think I’ve got it all together, even if it’s just subconsciously.

My challenge for myself and for all of us this week is this:

When we’re in a time of stress and struggle, let us lean on God with a humble heart and thank Him for what He will do.

When we’re in a time of joy and rest, let us lean on God with a humble heart and thank Him for what He’s done.

“When times are good, be joyful; when times are bad, consider this: God made the one as well as the other, so people won’t seek anything outside of His best.” – Ecclesiastes 7:14, ISV

I don’t know who’s reading this. I don’t know what kind of time you’re experiencing right now: the good, the bad, or (as my friend wisely wrote about) the in between.

But I can tell you this: wherever you are, He is there. He’s rejoicing with you in the good times and bearing your burdens with you in the bad. And in all things, He is sovereign over all. He can be glorified in all situations when we trust that ultimately He is in control.

Remember that you need Him in all seasons and wherever you are, He’s got you there for a reason and He’s holding you tight.