nothing to gain, everything to lose

Wow, January is weird. Anyone else?

The craziness of the holidays is over. Here in Maryland, January is cold and quiet. And currently, it’s REALLY cold. Our life is slower than normal in this month. Less commitments, emptier schedules. I guess this is why January is such a good time to re-evaluate and reflect.

Are you feeling a little weird, too? A little, like, where am I at? Where am I supposed to be? What’s next?

There is something to be said for the busier seasons for me. I’m a little more focused. Maybe a little more tired, too. But I’m working toward a goal, or intentionally pouring into others, and often working toward something that God has said.

Back in September, I attended a conference at The Belonging Co in Nashville. Without any exaggeration, it was life changing for me. Not just because of the environment or the worship or what I experienced, but because of the very specific encounter I had with God. You’ll most likely read about it in a blog soon. I came into the conference praying for very specific things. I was expecting confirmation. One way or the other was fine with me. Any answer, really. Have you ever been there? You’re believing in God for something big. You need an answer. Yes or no. Take that job or stay put. A clear yes or no if this relationship is “the one.”

It was kind of like that. And instead of answers that I thought I wanted, Jesus gave me what I really needed.

Presence.

Not simply His presence with me, but teaching me to truly be present with Him. He gave me to words to focus on:

Adoration and Consecration.

Eesh. They sound big and a little churchy, right?

Any time I find myself frustrated or stuck in prayer, the Lord brings me back to these two words.

What does it mean to adore God?

I have two young kids. They now 8 and 6, so they are not completely dependent on me like they were when they were toddlers. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need things from me. Most days, I tell my husband Tyler that I’m going to start a tally of how many times I hear the word “Mom”. It’s a lot. Like, within five minutes it’s a lot. Because they have a question. Or want a snack. Or a drink. Or the other one is bugging them. It is constant. 

And I answer their questions (most of the time) because I love them. I know they need food and water and they have so many questions about the world and it’s my role to provide most of these things for them. 

But in the very rare moments, they come to me for one thing. A hug. The little note you saw that simply said, “I love you.” Without needing anything at all.

And God is saying, this is what I am longing for from you. 

Listen to me.

God is holy, worthy, righteous, and good. How often do we enter into His holy presence and barrage Him with what we need? We skip right past who He is and what He deserves. When was the last time that you met with God simply to love Him? We are dying so much for approval, affirmation and direction, that we often forget that God isn’t just after what’s good for us: He’s after us. A relationship. We have nothing to gain here. No one that we have to strive to be. We can’t even get it right or wrong. We don’t need anything from Him. We know that we already have it all, and we pour out our love back to Him. This is more than merely being still. This is more than us casting our burdens down at His feet.

This is loving Him back. Adoring Him. the Bible says it this way, “…Love the Lord God with all your heart, all your passion, all your energy and your every thought.” [Luke 10:27 TPT) I think maybe too often, we’re loving Him maybe just in one of these areas. In our mind, yeah, we love Him. But with our passion? Our heart? Our energy?

When we come to God simply to love and adore Him, we have nothing to gain. Just to love Him. Yes, His love for us is so much greater. And He will absolutely pour His love out because it is who He is. But if we truly approach Him with an accurate perspective, we don’t even need anything from Him. 

Because really, He’s already given us everything.

Adoration. Nothing to gain.

Maybe you’ve felt a little stuck. A little unsure of where to move next. A little frustrated that God seems so quiet or far away.

If you have the time now, take a moment to try this. You can speak out loud or write it down. Whatever it looks like, practice coming to Jesus with nothing to gain, prove, or earn. Tell Him what you love about Him. Thank Him. Adore Him.

I can wait.

There is more to this, though. God is wrapped up in so much. He loves us deeply, and at the same time, He is holy. He is righteous and just and He is love. You cannot separate any of these attributes. Since that is the case, we’ve been called to consecration. This simply means dedicating yourself to God, recognizing that we’ve been made in His image. Pushing aside anything that does not line up with who He is and who He’s called you to be. Deciding to believe that what God says about you is true: you are set apart, holy and righteous because of Jesus.

When we consecrate ourselves, we are setting aside anything that shouldn’t be brought into the presence of God. Selfish ambition, bitterness, shame, fear, pride. If these sins are not laid down, we are carrying them in with us and the truth is, we can’t love God wholly or fully if these things are blocking our way.

Consecration. Everything to lose.

This kind of space with Jesus can get a little uncomfy. 

We don’t know what this is supposed to actually look like. To truly live in freedom and love God so purely. It is a practice that must be cultivated. Maybe a little too often, we can hide behind worship music or our devotional books or jobs or callings. And we avoid time with just us and Jesus, absolutely nothing in the way.

Consecration is complete surrender. Viewed through the lens of God’s all-encompassing love, the truth is that everything that we would lose means nothing in God’s kingdom anyway. If He is for us, we already have all that we need. We have every spiritual blessing without having to do anything at all.

What kind of love is this? It’s the only true Love.

Love that only asks for what you are able to give, and that which you let go of will only benefit you. Love that loves you more than you could ever return.

He is more worthy of our returned love.

Today, maybe tomorrow and the next day, too. Let’s choose to set aside everything that does not align with His holiness, goodness and love, and love Him back: even just a fraction of how much He loves us.

We have come to an intimate experience with God’s love, and we trust in the love He has for us. God is love! Those who are living in love are living in God, and God lives through them.”

1 John 4:16 TPT

new year, so what?

photo by Aditya Vyas

Hey, friends.

It’s been a little bit. What a wild time. I had this moment today, as I was stalking an old friend’s photos. I saw a large group picture of her and a bunch of friends in France. And like a ton of bricks, I was reminded how difficult everything has been for two years now. It feels like a few steps forward, and then falling off of a cliff kind of backward when it comes to normalcy.

I wanted to tell you Happy New Year – but I’ve determined I kind of hate the phrase. Don’t get me wrong, I really do love the new year. I always have, and I probably always will. But it’s shifting each year, almost feeling like it shouldn’t be celebrated as a holiday because of the pressure we’ve placed on its significance.

Have you felt it a little bit? Most of us wait until the beginning of the year to start something new. Eating healthy, exercising, organizing, pursuing that dream. But there is absolutely nothing magical about the last number changing when we write the date. It is another passage of time, just like this minute to the next. This new year has come with absolutely no fanfare in my life. Due to quarantine and holidays, my kids were home for three straight weeks. It was hard. So many cancellations, so much flexibility for all of us. The new year doesn’t feel very new at all, in fact. I feel like I’m walking into it already spent all of my energy. Forget starting anything new.

How are we supposed to do it all? We’re supposed to take care of our bodies and our minds. Get enough sleep, meal prep, exercise. We are supposed to be organized so that we’re more efficient. We should limit our screen time and assess our goals and dreams but also be really present for our kids. We need to manage their diets and their screen time and and their emotions and their grades. We need to be present at work, give it our full attention but not too much attention that we bring it home. We need to be intentional with our husbands, intentional with our friends, clean our houses and our dishes and…

That all sounded a lot more depressing than I meant it. It is true, though.

I guess what we all need to release a little bit of is our expectations for ourselves.

Somehow, we’ve believed the lie that somehow we do not have enough of anything. We spend more than we need, we strive for affection, we spin to succeed.

In a word, it’s grace. It’s His grace that carries us, that gets us through. It’s His grace that gives us permission to mess it up. To limp into a new year, wondering if we’ll have what it takes this year. It’s His grace that gives us space to wonder even a little bit if He truly has enough for what we need.

Every year I ask God to direct me toward a word for the year. In the beginning of the year, I normally spend a lot of time focusing on it. Delving into scripture related to the word, really praying through it. As the year continues, I find it acting as an anchor when I find myself drifting. Reminding me what I committed to, and what God promised to walk with me through.

This doesn’t make me more spiritual than you. If you do not choose a word for the year, or if you want God to give you one, and it feels like He is silent, all of that is okay. Don’t let comparison get in the way here. Feel free to share mine.

This year, my word is contentment.

He’s been whispering it to me for a few months now. I find myself declaring it over my life, not begging God for it. He promises that in Him, I have everything I need.

When I am content, jealousy, envy and competition dissolve. I don’t need what they have. I don’t need to be noticed. The fruit of contentment is humility.

When I am content, my spending, my eating, my consumption in general isn’t out of control. Jesus satisfies my every need and I’m not reaching for anything else to fill me. The fruit of contentment is self-control.

When I am content, fears have no entry point. If I trust that my God is enough, what do I have to fear? The fruit of contentment is peace.

In contentment, I face the day with confidence and joy.

I trust that God supplies everything I need.

I don’t seek outside of what I already have to satisfy me – I seek Him only.

I don’t waste time wishing for more – buying more – unnecessarily filling up empty space.

I don’t seek approval from anyone –

I already have His.

Over and over, in my head and out loud, I am repeating: “I am content.”

So if you’re feeling a little distant, maybe a little unsteady, let Jesus be your anchor. Forget for the whole year, maybe just for right now. Right now, right here. In this breath. And then in the next one.

What does Jesus have that you need?

I mean, He has it all. He is it all. But you may need something specific to grasp.

He is:

our Rock

our Anchor

our Stronghold

our Refuge

our Defense

our Door

our Strength

It’s His grace that is poured out that gives us confidence to trust that He is enough.

If you’ve found yourself shuffling into 2022 believing the lie of “not enough,” take a minute today to switch your thoughts on all that He is.

Take a quick pause. And whether or not you choose contentment for a word of the year, let’s pray for it now together.

A Prayer for Contentment:

Jesus, in You I am content.

You satisfy my every need.

You are my portion and all my righteousness.

I live today out of an assured belovedness

I am Yours, and You are mine.

Every good and perfect thing comes from You.

I lack nothing.

You are my Shepherd, my Safety, my Provider, my Affirmation;

You save me from myself.

Rescue me from the lie of “more”

More money, more recognition, more coffee, more food, more success – more of me.

Redeem me from myself and hide me in You.

I worship You alone.

I trust in You alone.

I rest in You alone.

Who do I have in heaven but you?

And I desire nothing on earth but You.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26)

Jesus, Lord at thy birth [why Christmas matters to us now]

The cyclical lie that I find myself repeating is, “Shouldn’t I know this by now?”

This is the first line of the third chapter in my book. I wrote these words years ago at this point, and I still find myself feeling the same way.

Somehow, time seems to continue to pass more quickly.

Yet, at the same time, we find ourselves still kind of “stuck” in the same spaces, don’t we? It’s like in the movies when the character is standing still but everything around them is zooming past in one big blur.

What is it about this particular season that seems to bring about all the feels? The good ones, the not so good ones.

If we have experienced loss, it seems to magnify right about now.

If we’re walking through mental or physical health struggles, they seem to just yell so much louder.

If we’ve been waiting… the waiting seems to elongate, stretch; and the silence somehow becomes more deafening.

Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

There are a million reasons why Jesus came to earth, and came to earth as a baby. For our salvation and redemption, yes. To truly become Emmanuel, God with us; yes.

But one sneaky way that we often miss is the journey that Jesus took. The waiting. King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Lion and the Lamb, chose helplessness, lowliness, and thirty years of waiting. He left complete perfection, not only to come save us, but to intentionally wait thirty years to do it.

Thirty years.

We often breeze past this – but think about your situation right now. Maybe how every single day feels like a struggle. Some of you reading this haven’t even lived thirty years yet, let alone waited or prayed for something nearly that long.

I am convinced we can’t grasp the weight of this. Because if we did; if we really understood this kind of waiting – we would have so much more patience, joy and growth.

Jesus came to show us how to be dedicated and patient with God’s process.

There is a line from Hillsong United’s song, Seasons, that I absolutely love. The lyrics are beautiful. There is one line that says, “You could have saved us in a second. Instead you sent a child.” Jesus lived thirty-three years on earth, knowing His end result. He knew the purpose of His time among sinful people would end with the epitome of unfair judgement and cruel persecution. And yet, Jesus was never rushed. He spent His time with people.

Jesus’ entire life was a process.

Why should ours be any different?

I feel you, though. I really do. I feel the tangible tug of war on my heart when it comes to waiting on God and pushing ahead on my own. I see what I want in front of me, and I unintentionally list out all the ways I could work hard enough to reach that finish line. To push through to that new season. To rush out of grief. To jump ahead of God’s timing. But if God pushed us ahead to the front of the line, we would miss out on so much.

Growth. Struggle. Healing. Patience. Wisdom. Faith to be built.

What are you waiting on God for? Where have you been fighting the process that He’s trying to work out in you?

The reality of Christmas encompasses so much. Every year, the weight, the glory, the beauty, the depth – it all roots and grows deeper in my heart.

All I know is this: The Lord of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things, chose complete humility, poverty and obscurity for thirty years. Royalty, godliness and perfection, wrapped up in a hidden life. He was never any less of a King. He was and is Jesus, Lord at His birth. All so that someone He crossed paths with may find healing and salvation. And so that today, right where you stand, you would know that your Savior knows what it’s like to wait. To walk through process.

He is so worthy of His name:

Emmanuel – God with us.

an exciting collaboration!

It’s been so exciting to watch my first book, Backwards, be released into the world. It really all started in my journals and then my words were transferred here, to this blog.

Thanks to all of you who have been reading, sharing, and encouraging me in the past few years right here on WordPress!

I’m so excited for this update today. For the next 48 hours, I’m participating in a joint book promotion with some amazing bestselling authors.

If you’re looking for wisdom in some areas of your life that you could use help, advice, or strategies on how to tackle, then you’re going to love this!

Check it out:

What should you do now?

Go and grab yourself one or all of these amazing titles for 2.99 or less on Amazon! Just click this link to get started: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1QQ9bF6OvBpTFEWUNp6Srfr96Cd_8YYoW/view

Don’t take too long. You’ve got 48 hours until this promotion ends and the books go back up to their normal prices.

Don’t wait until the last minute and risk losing out on snagging one of these books!

I’m so thankful for all of you!

Happy reading!

I don’t know if fall has ever made itself so known so fast. But make no mistake about it, I am here for it.

I mean, just look…

photo by McCabe Coats

It’s so beautiful. We love the changing leaves. People literally travel to specific areas to see the fall leaves.

And the most wild thing to me is… the leaves are dying.

This makes me almost want to laugh out loud.

The leaves are actually healthiest when they’re green – but we don’t notice them much then. We notice them when they are on their way to dying and falling off, to be swept up in a pile and put out with the garbage.

But the wonderful thing is that it’s a part of the process.

We kind of hate that word, right?

Maybe because it’s been overused, maybe because of the open-ended journey that it implies.

Our view of whatever we’re walking through is so narrow. It’s short-sighted. There’s no way around it. You physically cannot see the bigger picture when you’re smack dab in the center of the picture.

But I’m convinced that what makes the process so hard isn’t always the circumstance itself; it’s the desperate desire to get to the end.

We want to know how this particular story will end. Will it be worth it? Who will I turn out to be? Will my relationships stay in tact? How will God answer my prayers? When will the pain of it all end?

My life transformed when I stopped fighting the process and actually trusted God. I quit wrestling the process of time; the refining and the pruning. The uncomfy stretching and digging and uncertainty. The more I accept those things as normal and actually healthy and a part of my growth, the more peace and hope I have. True peace and contentment doesn’t come from unshaken circumstances. If you’ve lived through any of it long enough, you know this to be true. Peace is a Person and contentment is an inner, foundational choice. In the end, we have to stop fighting God and fighting ourselves.

“Stop fighting. You may be fighting against God – who He’s trying to be to you, and what He’s trying to do in you. But you’re also fighting yourself. Aren’t you tired? I know it makes me so tired. I tire of the spinning wheel that never seems to slow down. The world spins and taunts me to keep up. To balance it all and give myself the credit. But the world never has your best interest at heart. The ways of the world are simply lies that a mass of people have believed, coming from the enemy of our soul. He’s running out of time, he’s desperate; he’s made people believe they have to be desperate, too. Let it be said of us that we are desperate for one thing: more of God. To be more like Him, to have more of Him.

Let’s stop fighting. Let’s accept the time, the pressing, and the process that it must take in order for us to need God and allow Him to do His work in us.”

Backwards, Chapter 2

What would this look like in your life?

Maybe it would look a little bit like the change of the seasons. There’s a time for growth, and a time for colors to burn bright. There’s a time to shed the old and a specific time for quiet and bare branches. And in the release, the exposed, the raw, there is hope for new growth again.

But we have to stop fighting it. Nothing was ever meant to grow without somehow cutting back along the way. Even you.

What are you pushing against right now? If we’re really honest with ourselves, it’s not the pain or the questions. It’s the belief in the lie that it shouldn’t be this way. That we must have done something wrong. That God must not really be good or real or loving. The problem isn’t always in our unanswered questions or need to know the ending. It’s our skewed perception of process. I’m telling you – everything can change if we accept process as not only necessary, but maybe even good.

Jesus is very present with you, right now, in the middle. Not just when you turn out okay in the end.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” [Ecclesiastes 3:1]

lose your busyness. find your life.

I just have one question.

That’s probably a lie. I ask a lot of questions of you on here. But let’s just start with one, shall we?

How in the actual heck are there only two months left of 2021?

I know everyone told me that as I get older, time seems to move faster, but this seems a little extreme. Anyone with me?

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog and shared with you my big news. Woo hoo! It is almost time for my book to be fully out of my hands and into yours. Two more weeks. Is your calendar marked for November 17th?

During those few weeks leading up to that time, as I was putting all the final pieces together, I was in a short season of quiet.

I was off of social media.

I almost feel like I don’t have the words to properly explain that time to you. It almost makes it seem dramatic. It almost puts too much emphasis on the power of our phones over our lives. Because I didn’t really think I had too much of a problem.

But the truth is that – we all have a pretty big problem. And our phones are just one small piece of it.

We’re tired.

Amiright?

In my book, Backwards, each chapter is dedicated to one area of our lives in which the world’s idea is so backwards from God’s perfect plans for us. One of the chapters addresses busyness and rest. This has been a massive lesson in my life that I’m still learning. The problem is that we are moving so fast, we don’t stop long enough to even recognize our speed. Our thoughts are coming at such rapid rates, silence makes us uneasy.

On this forty day social media break, the changes in me were subtle. But the biggest one I noticed was that my head truly just felt less cluttered. It was almost as if I could feel the nonstop scrolling screech to a halt within my own body. I didn’t feel the need to constantly be checking on what I might be missing out on. I noticed some things around me more. And I heard God more clearly.

The reality for our lives is that if you aren’t constantly on the go, the world deems you as unmotivated. Hustle is attractive. But God’s world works completely different. And His is the one that brings about true life.

“God knows. He knows your tendencies, your weaknesses, your strengths; the things that refill you and the things that drain you. He is waiting on the edge of His seat for you to take a step back and show you what real life is like. What real rest is like. When we finally seek Him for our strength and our energy, when we finally say no to some things in order to say yes to the right ones, we see how living can really be. Wait, we don’t have to live in stress twenty-four hours a day? I thought that was just the American dream. It may be. But it is not God’s. You’ll have trouble, yeah. the Bible says that. You will have suffering, yeah. But nowhere in the word of God does He tell us that life should be busy and full of stress and anxiety. Could it be that our anxious culture is a result of forgetting to leave room for God? Not just acknowledging that He is Lord and He is sovereign, but we’ve also lost the idea and the value of creating empty space for Him to fill.

Lots of us are asking Him to come and fill us up, and yet we feel the same way. We’re frustrated, and we conclude that God isn’t answering us. He doesn’t hear us. But maybe, we are just too full, and there’s no room for His Spirit to come and fill.”

Backwards, Chapter Six

This is the photo that represented my most intentional rest time:

Isn’t that amazing? Through this social media fast, I didn’t have my phone to occupy my eyes or my thoughts whenever we drove in the car. I was so much more attentive to my surroundings. And this was the most incredible rainbow I’ve ever seen. As always, my little iPhone photo doesn’t do it justice. We were in Nashville, TN, experiencing a wild encounter with God. It was our last day to sightsee, and it rained ALL DAY. Literally. Until we got in the car to head to the airport. This beautiful, full rainbow followed us on our drive. The symbol of God’s promise, His peace, His covenant.

I’m not here to make you feel guilty about your phone. I’m just asking you to be honest with yourself and with God. Your life may feel a little out of control right now. You have more choices than you are led to believe. The world has lured you in with “must-haves” and they are not in line with God’s necessities for freedom.

What is taking up your time that you have believed wasn’t even your choice?

What is taking up room in your heart where you know Jesus should be?

In Hebrews 12:28, we are promised that “…We are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.”

If Jesus is in His rightful place, He is the King of your life. And you are inheriting an unshakeable kingdom.

You do not have to be shaken.

When you choose Him over the temporary, glittery desires of the world around you, you will find rest. You will find life.

why i wrote a book and why you should care

It’s been a week! A wonderful and horrifying week of my book being made public knowledge.

So many people have asked me why no one knew this was happening.

The honest answer is that I had no idea if it would ever truly end up in anyone’s hands but mine.

Backwards was being written for about three years. And for the majority of that time, I believed that maybe this was just a process for me to learn with God. All I knew was, He made it very clear that it was to be written. The topic was deposited in my heart right after I began counseling. I journal everything. My prayers, milestones, questions, revelations. And in the moments when I need some reminding about where I’ve been, I find myself stuck reading back through my journals for, at times, hours. This is what happened to me last night and transferred into this morning.

I wanted to share with you how this book came about, and the only way to tell you is to show you.

These are my journals from the past four years. They hold every word from God, every question I had about who He was.

Because I had lost Him.

In a short span of several months, my stepdad died very quickly from pancreatic cancer, one of my closest friends discovered she had a brain tumor, and another family member was diagnosed with breast cancer. The suffering around me was stealing my air.

I had lost God and absolutely lost myself.

I didn’t know it at the time, but after reading through these journals again, I had asked God to rebuild me. I knew I needed a new foundation. One that was firm and not built on my idea of Him, but who He truly was.

God took me on a very long (still continuing) journey of letting go. Letting go of my idea of our relationship. Letting go of my high expectations for myself. Letting go of control. Letting go of the idea that living comfortably would bring me fulfillment.

He brought me on a journey that I am so thrilled to share with you. So that we may not only accept the time-consuming and sometimes grueling journey of God’s process, but actually love Him more for it.

What in your life doesn’t seem to line up with who God says He is?

Are you walking through anxiety or depression? You thought God said He’d heal you, and that this is not His plan for you. But here you are.

Is your heart broken in pieces from grief or loss? You simply cannot reconcile how this could be God’s plan. For your life or for theirs. How can He still be good?

Have you prayed for the same thing for so long, you’re convinced He stopped listening?

Have you tried listening for His voice, only to be met with silence? You’ve convinced yourself that either you’ve believed in a fairy tale, or you just aren’t worthy of God’s attention.

Our journeys are not the same. God will not necessarily heal you the way He healed me. He may not speak to you the way He speaks to me.

Let me assure you, He wants to heal you. He wants to speak to you.

But we’ve got to trust that everything the world has told us just isn’t true.

Through Backwards, Jesus walked me through a journey of tearing down and rebuilding. A journey that learns to listen to what He says and how it’s so opposite from everything else that’s being screamed at us.

Our identity.

Our patience with process.

Our strength.

Our pride.

Our need for control.

Our version of success and need to be busy.

Our desperation for clarity.

The way we cling to comfort.

Our idea of forgiveness.

And in the end, our entire lives.

God has something miraculous planned for you.

Are you willing to grab hold of it, even if it it isn’t how you would have planned?

I’m telling you, with all that I have: Jesus’ way is better.

“Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to have scars on His hands and His feet? When He showed up to the disciples after His resurrection, the imprints of the holes were still there. Why did God leave them there? Jesus rose from the dead, for crying out loud. I think if we had written the story, He’d be glowing and have no mark or scratch on Him. But the scars remained. The scars remained because they are physical reminders of healing. They are a part of Him; His entire purpose as a man on this earth was wrapped up in those scars. His sacrifice, His suffering, His love – is in the broken holes of His body, which healed through His resurrection. They were the proof. They are what people asked to be sure God truly was who He said He was.

None of us are currently being raised from the dead. Nothing is impossible, but as you read this, you are living and breathing and not being buried. But wherever you find yourself today, the truth is this:

You have holes that are waiting to be scars.

Scars are not indicative of brokenness; they are proof of healing.”

Backwards, Chapter 8

I’ve been praying for you for years, and won’t stop now. The reality is, a book isn’t going to change your life. And it’s not changing mine. But Jesus can. Partnered with your openness, humility, and trust, everything can change.

Backwards is coming November 17th.

surprise! i wrote a book.

Welp. It’s been three months since we’ve exchanged internet space here together.

That sounded weird. It’s true, though.

I took a very intentional 40 day social media break and somehow, it just kept extending. God also made it very clear that He was also asking me to quit writing publicly for that time, too.

If you have ever wondered if your phone has more control over you than you’d like, just assume that yes, it does. If you’ve ever wanted to take an extended break to see what happens, do it. I heard God more clearly in those days than I can remember for a very long time. And truly, so much has happened.

This post isn’t about the last forty-ish days.

But more on that later.

It’s about the last three years.

Over the these years years, while I committed to more consistent blogging and getting to know all of you, I was silently writing pages that no one would see until now.

Yep, I wrote a book.

WHAT.

Guys. This is not me.

I was reminded over this time that in elementary school, when I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, “author” was one of the titles I considered. I used to write short stories and poems and I loved it. Somewhere along the way, that got a little lost.

What continued on as journal entries turned into a blog, and now, a book that I’m hoping you will hold in your hands.

This has almost nothing entirely to do with me becoming an author. That’s for me to celebrate.

What you get to celebrate here is God’s direct word to your heart. I have read this book ten thousand times. And every time, it moves me. Because it didn’t come from me.

This is crazy exciting news for me, but if I were you, I’d be asking one question.

Why should I care?

I’m so glad you asked.

If you have ever believed that God was good, but life stared you in the face and it wasn’t good at all…

If you have trusted that God was for you, but it felt like He was silent…

If you believed that God so loved the world, but the world felt a little bit abandoned…

This book is for you.

What do we do when what we believe about God doesn’t line up with what we see?

This is what Backwards was written for.

We’ve been told that the Bible tells us that God’s ways are higher than ours, and His thoughts aren’t like ours. What does this actually mean as we live out our lives?

The problem is, we are trying really hard to believe that God is who He says he is, but what we see around us and in us doesn’t seem to line up with those truths.

I am telling you, with every single fiber of my being, there is another way.

I found my life when I laid it down.

I found freedom and peace when, after struggling with disappointment and anxiety, I grabbed hold of these words:

Those who cling to their lives will give up true life. But those who let go of their lives for my sake and surrender it all to me will discover true life!

Matthew 10:39 TPT

I’ve prayed for three years that this is what you will find within the pages of Backwards.

We are called to live in a way that is completely backwards from the world around us. Jesus doesn’t do this to make our lives harder. He does it to set us free.

We are dying to find out who we are. Jesus died so that we may truly know Him.

We are grasping for control, when freedom is found in releasing it to the One who is actually in control.

We are avoiding pain and suffering, when our Savior said that suffering makes us more like Him.

We are begging the world to recognize us, when the Creator of the world created and defines us Himself.

Have you been feeling tired of grasping onto your own life?

There is another way.

Backwards launches November 17th.

Truthfully, It makes almost no difference to me if you buy this book or not. I didn’t do this to make money or be successful.

I wrote down words that the Holy Spirit deposited into my heart, and I believe He’s waiting to speak directly to yours.

I’ve prayed for you for three years, and won’t be stopping now.

God sees you.

He hears you.

He knows you.

And He’s ready to speak to you, if you are.

Let’s lay our lives down together to find them.

the cure for your discontentment

Y’all.

I don’t know what has happened to me, but we’ve become the level of friends where I’m about to share something I’m legitimately embarrassed about as a parent. I can’t help it. My children teach me more about the love of Jesus than anything else in my life.

My sweet little girl turned six this past weekend. The previous weekend, we threw her a pretty big birthday party. She wanted to invite everyone in the world. For her fifth birthday, it was a COVID summer, so I felt like she got pretty gypped. So we went for it this year. Fifty-plus people came to celebrate the birthday girl and it really was a ball. She was a lovely host and the kids had a blast. Not to mention alllll of the toys and presents. It was a kid’s dream.

Her actual birthday was a week later, and we still planned a special day for her. We went out to breakfast, spent time with friends, went to Chuck E Cheese, made pizza and had ice cream. Not too shabby, if you ask me. We decided not to go crazy with gifts because she got so many for her party. I got a few more practical things, but still things I thought she’d like. After she finished opening them, she turns to me and says, “Why didn’t you get me more toys?

Ummm… excuse me?

I seriously don’t know if I’ve ever felt like more of a failure as a parent than this moment. I honestly felt kind of shocked. I answered her very calmly and talked with her about gratitude, and then I walked away. I thought I would feel angry but the truth was, I felt sad! It surprised me. I texted my best friend in panic mode and asked her, “Are my children spoiled?! What is happening!?” Several people have assured me since then she is just six, and this is how kids think. To be honest, I’m still not totally convinced and we will continue to talk about gratitude even more moving forward.

As I began to process this and really bring it to God to help me respond well and teach her, He answered me in His own gentle way and essentially said to me:

You do the same thing.

How often has God gifted us with more than we deserve and we respond with complaints? The answer is every single day. He has already gifted us with more than we deserve. Our baseline for every single morning is salvation, grace, mercy, forgiveness, peace… the list is endless. These are things that God has already promised us, already purchased for us.

Our hearts and our hands are full of His goodness. And far too often, we come to Him, complaining that we don’t have enough.

But God, why didn’t you give me that relationship?

God, what about that job?

God, I don’t think this house is big enough.

This car works and everything, but I’d really love a new one…

He is so patient with us.

My initial reaction to Olivia’s response was, “Well, I guess we’ll just return these things we got you, then.”

God doesn’t do this. He’s too patient, too good. He doesn’t take things away to teach us a lesson. (For clarity, we didn’t take her presents away, either. We’re not totally evil.)

It’s been breaking my heart a little bit to picture God ever feeling the way that I felt. These were the thoughts running through my mind:

I love you so, so much. I gifted you with things that I knew would be what you would enjoy, things you need over things you want. You already have so much. I can’t believe you would doubt that we don’t want to bless you with absolutely everything. Also – do you even recognize how much we did to celebrate you this past week?

Now, those are not God’s exact thoughts. And the Bible tells me that I can’t even begin to know the thoughts of God. But I can imagine Him, as a Dad, when I ignore His goodness and faithfulness to me and complain about what I don’t have.

I talked with a dear friend this week about how overwhelmed I was with all that was coming up for me. She reminded me of something that we all know but too often forget:

Look back.

When you look back at where God has brought you, what He has given you, who He has been to you – gratitude can’t help but fill that space. There is a reason that gratitude has taken over the world; not just Christians. There is psychological proof that it can help rewire your brain.

The truth is, even if we didn’t have any personal stories of something God did in our lives, He has still given us more than enough. Our salvation was the most costly gift of all eternity. Our eternal freedom, joy, and salvation was wrapped up in one moment; one God-decision. We don’t deserve, let alone need, anything more than that.

But our God is gracious and good and kind and that is only the beginning.

What have you found yourself complaining about?

Where have you felt discontent?

This truth does not discount the heartbreaks in life. But if we’re not careful, our focus and our gaze can get skewed on what we don’t have, rather than what we do.

When I truly look back and see God’s perspective over my life, He reminds me I should absolutely not be where I am. By statistics and culture’s standards, I should have married an abusive man just like my father. I should be bound by rejection and insecurity.

The literal only reason why not is God’s grace. I am free from bitterness and unforgiveness. I am free from insecurity and shame.

Look back. I don’t know what your life looks like, but I know you have so much to be thankful for. How do I know?

The same grace that has been for me is for you. Today. Right now. And again tomorrow. The day after that.

You do not have to live trapped in discontentment; trapped in the story of your past. It begins today with wanting to move forward. Wanting to trust that there is a God who not only can rescue you; but wants to. And catch this, He already has.

You are God’s kid. You are not living in scarcity. I know your circumstances may have made you feel abandoned and poor in more than one sense of the word. Look around you at what you have, and look back on where you’ve been.

Gratitude doesn’t usually find us. We have to pull it up and out and place it in front of us over and over.

What are you thankful for?

“If you, imperfect as you are, know how to lovingly take care of your children and give them what’s best, how much more ready is your Heavenly Father to give wonderful gifts who ask Him?”

Matthew 7:11 TPT

true life: i’m not a fitness model [a challenge to the moms of the pandemic]

This was it.

This was going to be the summer that we got it all under control. Routines, everyone helping around the house, some deep cleaning and organizing that couldn’t happen over a pandemic school year. My kids are at prime ages for taking on more chores and responsibility, and I want to be the kind of mom that teaches them well. I also planned on doing more with them. More outings, more fun, more memory-making.

Spoiler alert: literally none of these things have happened. It’s been a good summer, don’t get me wrong. Since last summer was anything but normal, like many others, we are doing a bunch of traveling. Up to New York for my sister’s wedding, the Outer Banks for the annual family vacation, and back up to Massachusetts to visit my mom and speak at a youth camp. You know the drill. Why unpack from the last thing when you just have to re-pack in a week? It takes us about five days to recover before we’re back at it with the next thing.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because none of my good intentions have come to pass. And just like every other time, I return back to the lie that each of us believe far too often:

I’m failing as a mom.

Let me be real with you. Uncomfortably real, maybe. The COVID 19 was far too true for me. I’m not talking about the virus; although, I got that, too. I’m talking pounds. A weight gain of literally nineteen pounds. I’m a short person. This was a lot of weight for me. More than any other year, I dreaded wearing a bathing suit for a week at the beach. But I decided ahead of time: I wasn’t going to let this affect me. I wasn’t going to feel self-conscious or not engage in activities with my kids because I would hate the candid photos of me. My silent mantra to myself was, “I am not a fitness model.” I’m serious.

These are just two tiny examples of the kinds of things we’re facing as women; as moms. The pressure is ridiculous. Insane, actually. But I’m not here to convince you that you need to cut yourself a break. I’m not here to tell you to be more comfortable in your body and who you are.

I’m here to point you to Jesus.

Parenting is hard enough; forget a global pandemic. And although it feels like we may be on the other side, things are anything but normal for us or our kids.

Too much has been asked of us.

But wait. Has it actually been asked of us? Or have we put it on ourselves?

The real question is: What have we been focusing on?

If that’s the question, here is the truth:

If we’re focused on all that we are not doing well, then we are not focused on Jesus.

Pause.

Go up. Read it again.

It is actually that simple. Think about the intrusive thoughts that plague you throughout the day, and especially as you lay down at night.

Why can’t I just say no to sugar?

I can’t believe I yelled at my kids so much.

I am never going to get anything done.

There’s no way other women are struggling this much.

I don’t know what happened to convince all of us that we are supposed to be amazing at all of it. Organization, discipline, housekeeping, careers, fitness, cooking… the list goes on and on.

Take a moment to honestly think: who told you that life was supposed to be this way? That motherhood was a rockstar event with gold, silver and bronze medals?

I would be willing to bet that no one has actually spoken those words to you. It is a smoke and mirrors effect; a lie straight from the enemy to keep us useless and isolated. And he uses anything and everything. Social media is really not our enemy. It highlights and puts pictures to the lies that are already swirling around in our heads.

Winning the war in our minds as moms is not about self-acceptance. It is not about self love, even.

It has to be about Jesus. His love. His acceptance.

Our self-love and self-acceptance runs out. Like, fast.

But the Savior? He is love and He accepted us thousands of years ago through perfect sacrifice.

This week, I held and prayed for a dear friend as she broke down and finally spoke out loud the fears and secrets she’s been holding as a mom with young children. The weight she was carrying was tangible. Before I even said anything or prayed a word out loud, she said she already felt better after voicing it all. What was the true weight pushing her down and dragging her into darkness? Shame.

Shame is the underlying thread woven throughout the lies of motherhood. Not good enough. Failure. Pathetic. Less-than. Weak. Inadequate. Shame screams these words over us and then whispers, “No one else feels like this.”

This post is for one reason only. Okay, maybe two. Besides pointing you to Jesus, this is what you need to know. As boldly as I can say this in black and white for you to read – EVERYONE ELSE FEELS LIKE THIS.

Everyone else struggles. Feels less-than. Wonders if they have what it takes.

The only, and I mean, ONLY, differential is the peace and the love of God.

If we are worried about doing a good job in the eyes of others, we will fail. Every time.

If we focus on pleasing God in our parenting, we literally can’t lose. He promises this:

My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” [So Paul says,] “I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. So I’m not defeated by my weaknesses, but delighted! For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 TPT

With God, the only way we lose is if we rely on ourselves.

We lose when we hide in isolation and silently measure our every day motherhood against polished photos of someone else’s motherhood.

We lose when we refuse grace. When we push to be powerful on our own without the power of the Holy Spirit.

But when we delight in those failures, the weak places, we open up space for God to be powerful in us. We push shame aside and throw our weaknesses in its face.

This post is useless unless you do two things:

Turn to Jesus.

Speak your stuff out loud.

Find a trusted friend, mentor, or counselor. Preferably more than one of those. You were never meant to carry this weight alone. When your weight hides in isolation, it strangles you. Bring it into the light. The light is where Jesus is.