Coming soon: Just a Minute eBook devotional

Happy Monday ya’ll! My daughter and I are off to my parent’s farm this week, where I grew up. The last time we were here was when she was just seven weeks old, so I’m excited to explore with her! Especially in springtime 🙂

It’s no surprise that I love to share devotional thoughts on how God is growing me, and encourage you to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. This blog started as a travel blog almost ten years ago. Over the years, it morphed into many things – from photography to marriage to motherhood to home life – as my life transitioned. But the mainstay topic on this blog has always been short devotionals. It is my heart for people to learn to love Jesus deeper and know Him more, as I learn to do the same.

That being said, I am putting together an eBook of all the posts I have written in the last three years of my life that are faith-based. All the quick thoughts that have come to me as I have entered marriage and motherhood. Both very refining, and out of that have come blog posts that point both me (when I re-read them!) and hopefully you, to Christ.

So this summer, I will release an easily digestible eBook called Just a Minute – a collaboration of three years of quickly digestible Christ focused blog posts.

No matter what change has come my way in the past few years, the fact that I know I cannot do it without the Lord has never changed. I have always valued my time reading in the Word and at least trying to grow closer to His heart. Granted, that looks even more different in motherhood, but I cannot impress the value and necessity of SOME time with God every day if you ever want to know Him deeper. The value of even just a minute in His presence can shape and change our days.

If you find yourself in transition, perhaps this will be perfect for you! Through the blog posts turned eBook you will see the refining process of my heart over the past few years, and how God has used the transition to reveal the gospel to me more clearly. I wanted to provide it all in one simple package for you to refer to when you need a quick scripture and thought to push you closer to Him. I pray that it will be a blessing to you in whatever stage of life you find yourself in!

So stay tuned, coming soon!

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A tale of two sisters: why you can love your personality

 

For much of my life, I wanted someone else’s personality. There. I said it. I recently did 16personalities.com and had the 1% of the population (rare), but was standing among the likes of Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa, so that made me feel better. I am the ‘melancholy’, the feeler and peace-loving type. I often feel like everyone else is more ‘fun’ and I can’t even count how many conversations or boardroom discussions I have left kicking myself for not saying more. When I was single, I always thought I needed to be more fun and interesting to catch a guy. My personality type can be very hard on ourselves, with high standards, and a love for planning. Don’t we sound like fun?! 😉

That being said, I wouldn’t change my personality for anything (since God did this on purpose), and am slowly learning to give myself grace, lean into the strengths and give God my weaknesses for Him to redeem and do SOMETHING with (or leave them and let them rest in peace!).  Because I know even 1% of the personality population has something to contribute!

I think we all have a part of us that feels like we need to do or be something else to get what we want – even from the Lord. As though we need to be quieter, talk more, journal more, pray more… more more more. All these things are good. And in there right place. But you know what the beautiful thing is? No matter what our personality, or what season we are in, Jesus knows how to meet with us. And give us what WE need in OUR season.

Watch this story unfold… John 11. Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this, don’t quit on me now! The story…

Their brother had just died. DIED. They were some of Jesus’ closest friends. He ate at their table many times. Picture the kinds of friends who are really more like family. They were these people. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. We’ve heard that story of Mary at Jesus’ feet, and Martha in the kitchen preached multiple times (read Luke 10:38-42). Well, Jesus got word in John 10 that Lazarus was ill, and by the time He got to them, Lazarus had been gone for four days.

Seeing Him coming, Martha ran out to Jesus, first. With her heart shattered and grieving, she “went and met him” (John 11:10). She said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now, I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Her statement sincere, but questioning. Why weren’t you here when we needed you? Jesus’ response? Matter-of-fact. Hope-filled. Truth-spoken. Challenging. To me, that’s what Martha’s personality responds to. She was a do-er, a go-getter. A get things done kind of girl.

Then Jesus walks a little further, and Mary runs to Jesus and falls at His feet (vs32). But get this, she makes the same statement, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus saw her weeping, and all those with her, and was deeply moved. And then the shortest verse in the whole Bible, “Jesus wept”. (vs 35) Jesus was moved to tears at Mary’s heart; at the loss of his friend family. He knew the outcome, what was about to happen. Yet he was moved to tears. Mary was tender. Soft. I would imagine a romantic and extravagant with her show of love. And how did Jesus respond? With great compassion.

I read this the other day and it made me stop. Jesus is so beautiful.

You see friends. Family. Strangers. Whoever is reading this. God gave you your personality for a reason. There are great strengths in it that no one else has. Yes, there are “weaknesses”, but that is meant to make us lean in to God even harder. And the beautiful thing is, He knows EXACTLY how to talk to you. Converse with you. Relate to you. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), but I believe that God made His children so diverse because He loves to show different facets of His love and heart.

And He knows how to get to you. Your personality is no mistake or accident. It is very much beautiful and important. And maybe, you just needed to hear that today. Whether you are straight-up hard-working Martha, tender Mary, or someone who feels dead in a cave like Lazarus, Jesus can and wants to speak to you  xo

 

When little is what you’ve got

Ten years ago I bought a 960sq ft townhouse, built in 1955 as military housing. I was drawn to the large windows and hardwood floor. It was my first home and required a lot of “lipstick” to make it look pretty again. It had the typical 90’s burgundy and forest green paint, complete with wallpaper trim and sponge paint (yes, SPONGE PAINT!). The weekend I moved in I had family and friends help with painting and clean up, and we celebrated with some pizza at the end of it.

 But that place was mine, and I was so proud to own it after years of renting. It was the boom of 2007 and everyone was buying. I had friends buying houses that were larger, but this was what my bank account could afford (barely!). Fast forward to newlywed life, and Troy and I lived for the first four months of our marriage in a 500sq ft upper garage suite while our house was being built. It seemed cramped at the time, but it was the most wonderful gift of simplicity we could’ve asked for as we learned each other as husband and wife.

Now, we have a 2,500sq ft home to love and tend to. It takes more time, more money, and more effort to keep it up than that townhouse ever did. But it’s ours, and we love it for the season that we are here.

As I sit here typing, the sun has been up for an hour and a half (oh for early spring mornings!), and my mind is alert. Counting the minutes to when my baby wakes and our day starts. Most mornings I am up by 6:30, but this past week I have been waking and wanting to be up earlier. Like 6am! 3-4 times a week I try to get in a workout and time with the Lord (shower time is sporadic!)  before Elizabeth wakes up between 7:15-7:30. These moments of time on my own are fewer than pre-motherhood, but I feel like in the years previous, God has been teaching me how to make space for Him in the time I have. Make Him a priority first thing in the morning. For me, that began mostly when I lived in England and has continued to this day. I crave Him, more and more not out of tradition or act, but out of wanting to know the One who made and saved me and is renewing me day by day.

So for right now, I am working with space I have been given, and letting (TRYING!) God make it beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). 

Last night I went to bed bemoaning to Troy about how I need more creative time. Of all the things I want to do and just don’t have time for as a full-time mom.  And I am challenged this morning, in the moments I have with my Father before the day begins, to work with what I have. To make space to meet with Him, to work with intention at what I have been given, and see what God does with it. Rather than compare to the creative square footage of someone else, I am convicted of giving God the landscape I have and do my best to make space for Him to lead, love and move in it.

If you have little time for anything else right now, make what space you have to meet with the Lord, and see how HE will make it beautiful. In its time. Pressure off. Stop comparing (preaching to the choir here!). Swing open the door and let God decorate the proverbial house you’ve been given, no matter how big or small it is.

Own it, sister, to own it.

Circa 2007 – me and my “new” kitchen!

Go on and flourish

So much can affect our hearts without us realizing it…

For me, it was like a pit in my stomach. I knew it was there, yet I kept going back to it. I needed to see, as though making myself feel horrible was justified. I’d see someone else’s way of doing things, and immediately feel like my way was wrong. Like I was somehow less than because they seemed to have it together. “Seemed”.

As a new mom, this feeling really sprang to “life”. I wanted to follow other new moms and watch them mother. “Be inspired”. Well, no, that wasn’t the case. Because as I watched, I felt that yucky comparison bug creep up and begin to itch.

For example. A wonderful lady I followed on IG and had heard speak at a conference was finally pregnant after 10 years of trying and waiting. Amazing! As she shared online about having a journal for her soon-to-be-born son, that she would give him when he was 18, I immediately felt like I should be doing the same, when I wasn’t. What kind of mother AM I?!! I immediately felt like my mothering was less than, rather than celebrating a great idea and that another boy in this world will have a mom who adores him. Rather than being inspired and taking a great idea, I felt like I was doing it all wrong.

You see. Sometimes I look at social media for inspiration. When in actual fact, then, I was looking to it to somehow confirm what I felt. And the issue would just keep growing until I addressed it. I’ve had to stop following people. I’ve had to sit myself down for time-outs and really ask myself why I felt so threatened by someone else’s success. I’ve had to take complete breaks from social media altogether.

Bearing my sin and soul here… I wanted to be the best. At everything. Good grief, what pressure!!! You know that saying, that comparison is the thief of joy? So true. And rather than celebrating your success – as a mother, as an entrepreneur, as a wife, or as anything – I felt like it somehow took away from my own success and progress.

How wrong I was.

Maybe you need to hear what I needed to hear… Stop waiting for someone else’s permission to flourish. And start dealing with what limits you.  Comparison. Fear. Doubt. Perfectionism. Whatever it is. It’s time we start stepping out, celebrating other’s success, and cheering each other on! And letting yourself grow strong. Because I do believe that God loves to shine His strength through us.

The tides are turning in my heart. You know how I know?

…Because now as I watch young moms at the same stage as me, my heart is now rejoicing. Yay YOU! 

…Because I have exercised since January, sticking to my goal for the first time EVER, after seeing a great mom-preneur do it. I thought, Well, if she can exercise with all her to-do’s then so can I! And I now have muscles in places I never have. One year after having a baby!

…Because instead of feeling like someone else’s success impedes on my own, my heart is starting to shift to celebrate theirs.

…Because my husband and I laugh more, at ourselves, and each other, even in a season of unknown.

My heart is starting to see that I can be who God wants ME to be, and that if you are doing well, that in no way means that I am not!! Oh comparison thief, be gone! Only the work of the Holy Spirit in conviction and healing can do this.

If social media feels yucky for you. Take a break. If mine doesn’t inspire or challenge you, then please, stop following, and take a break! But if you feel like you can celebrate alongside me with my successes and vulnerabilities, then I welcome you here for the journey.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts, ABOVE ALL ELSE. Our hearts are the soil of our life. Make sure it’s fertilized well so the good seeds can grow.

And go on and be free to flourish. For His glory.

xo

The most important reason we need rest

 

Busyness. It can be worn like a badge, and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve readily and proudly admitted when my answer to “how have you been?” is “Busy!” It makes us feel productive. Like we are worthily accomplishing something.

Rest is not easily accomplished as a mother, so I am learning. 24/7 you are now caring for the needs of a little one(s), your hubby, and your home. Plus likely balancing volunteering, work, family and friendships. Rest is utterly important, at every stage of life, and I don’t think it’s impossible, or God wouldn’t urge us to do it. We just have to be creative. For me, right now, rest looks like my morning coffee with some time in the Word before Elizabeth wakes up (that length changes daily!). It looks like trying a new recipe and experimenting with food. It looks like reading something other than non-fiction – currently, the story of the little Swiss girl, Heidi, lent to me by a friend.

My husband, Troy, knows this about me – that I have an extremely hard time resting after Elizabeth goes down for bed until clutter is put away, and the kitchen is clean. I rest better without clutter and mess. So the word “rest” has been on my mind as I mull over what God wants me to focus on in this season.

Did you know the word “rest” occurs 308 times (ESV) in the Bible? For a frame of reference, “love” occurs 551 times. So clearly, rest is important. But as I looked up this word, rest, it seemed that sometimes it takes work to rest. Doesn’t that sound funny? But if you think about all the work you put into planning a holiday, it does take effort!

Hebrew 4:9-11 says, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”

Other places where ‘rest’ is mentioned are when Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Or in Exodus 33:14 where God says, “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” This is clearly a gift from His presence.

Psalm 16:8-9 also says, “I have set the Lord always before me, because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure (ESV).” Some versions say “shall rest in hope”. What is King David saying? Because he has set the Lord before him, he is able to find rest and dwell securely in knowing His Lord has things in hand.

What do I learn from looking up the word rest? Two things:

1) Rest is both a place of peace (noun) where we find relaxation and strength, but it is also a verb, where we intentionally choose to refrain from our own way, trust, and find confident hope in the Lord.

2) Rest comes directly from His presence, from putting the Lord before us, and it keeps us from living a disobedient (unbelieving) life.

So while rest sounds like a passive word, it is actually a very intentional word that we are to seek.

As a new mom, and someone who is learning to be a homemaker all in the same breath, the idea of rest can seem like something far off – like 18 years from now. But God urges us to find rest in Him, and this will keep His presence in our lives and keep us from walking in unbelief in our hearts. Whether this is while you cook with a toddler at your ankles (amen, I have tried to find rest in this new season in this very act!), or while finding a few moments in the bathroom before your little one finds you (amen and amen).

I know there are areas the Lord has wanted to heal me of unbelief, where I don’t fully trust Him, even after all of these years. And that can only be done by coming to Him with my labor, ceasing to do it on my own, and abiding confidently in Him.

As an exercise, I took these verses and paraphrased them into my own words. Perhaps this will help you grasp what is being said…

Psalm 16:8-9 – I continuously run to Him, in my mind and in my heart. I feel His presence throughout my day, and I know He is the one that will keep me anchored. So I can live joyfully and at peace in my whole being; even physically I feel a peace as I choose to confidently abide in Who He is and what He’s done.

Hebrews 4:9-11 – There is still a way of finding total rest when you walk with God, because when you are in relationship with Him, there is a new peace that comes because you cease from doing things your own way, on your own strength. God is our leader, our Father, and even He rested after creating all of this! But it takes intention. You must work hard at resting in Him, in what He has already accomplished, and find confidence in that. This will protect you from falling into deep unbelief.

Matthew 11:28 – Come spend time in my presence, and my presence will calm and quiet your heart, and give you the strength you need.

Why is rest so important? It keeps us in His presence. And that keeps us from unbelief in our hearts, keeps us resting securely in Him.

I can’t think of any more important reason than to find ways to abide and run to Him!