Monday, February 19, 2018

February Goals

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Last week, I posted my annual goals and word for the year. It has been a while since I have share my monthly goals. When I searched for goals posts, I realized that it has been since September! Oh my! In October I travelled to Dallas for a week, and then the holidays happened. After the holidays I had my procedure, so here we are in mid-February!

This year, I am focused on resting in victory. It is something the Lord has definitely convicted me about and challenged me to take hold of. I do not want to approach my relationship with Him or anything else in my life from a position of striving when I know that I am His.

So with all that said, I've given myself lots of grace. I have still been using Powersheets to help me with my monthly, weekly, and daily goals, but they have been mostly mental until now. Without further adieu, here's what I am working on this month.

Monthly

meal plan for March
send out first newsletter email
maintain Senior Star in Young Living business
contact more local businesses about oils
read The Connected Child
contact dream advisory council for CWJC
finish post for the Trying Collective
begin working on post for The Bud Co.

Weekly 

walk Bailey 2x
go to the gym 2-3x
work on my book
check in on a friend

Daily

pray
work on memorizing Romans 8
read the Word
don't complain
speak life


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

When You're *Still* Single


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Friends, let's be honest. Sometimes being single sucks. Especially around this time of year, when the commercials and ads are rampant with big diamond rings, ginormous teddy bears, gorgeous flowers, and all kinds of romance. It's enough to make even the sappiest of us want to throw up, or maybe just cry in the shower (I know I'm not the only one who does that).

If you've been around her for a while or know me personally, you know that prior to Rory, I was always the bridesmaid. You know that I dated one person and then married that person. And you also know that as I shared with you along the way, it wasn't always an easy journey.

Here's the thing about singleness that I think the church (and we) aren't exactly doing right. We don't know what to do with single people. There are Sunday school classes, small groups, and events that are completely planned around married folks with or without kids. But there just isn't always a lot going on for the YoPros (young professionals; y'all know I love my abbreviations). And us married people? We just want to marry off the singles because we love marriage so much! But friends. There's  a better way.

Singleness is not a curse. Singleness isn't something to get rid of or to treat like it's a disease. It's a gift. It doesn't always feel like it, but it is. The other day, I listened to an episode of a podcast called The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey (it's my fave). In this podcast, Jamie interviews women who are walking with Christ in many different ways, callings, and seasons. Her guest for this show, Tara Leigh Cobble was incredible, and she spoke so much truth that has been rattling around in my head ever since.

She spoke of how when we have a misconception of who God is, we are not living the way He wants to and not allowing His character to influence how we respond to what He chooses to give us. There are many single people, she says, who are angry with God because He has not yet given them a spouse. I was one of them for a while. But God, she says, is always kind. If what God does is always kind, then whatever situation He has put us in is His ultimate kindness to us.



Y'all. This was mind-blowing to me. I only wish I had grasped this when I was single. Heck, I wish I could grasp it now. We always want what we don't yet have. And yet God. is. kind. Always. Everything He does is an extension of His love for us. We have to keep our wits about us when we are tempted to despair and believe that He has forgotten about us. The opposite of that thought is truth; He could never forget about us. We are His beloved. He could never, ever forget about us, even when we are in the midst of a desert season or still in the waiting. He has engraved our names on the palm of His hand. His thoughts for us outnumber the grains of sand. This God isn't someone who's withholding from us or delighting in our misery.

So can we bring Him our questions, our fears, and our longings? The answer is a resounding yes. But we can also hope and pray that in whatever season we find ourselves, we ask that He be most glorified and that our lives and thoughts be consumed with Him and His goodness. Is your hope in finding your perfect mate, or is your hope in Christ alone? Our world is fleeting, friends. Marriage itself is for life here on earth, but heaven is waiting, and we must place our hopes there, where our Christ will forever be all we want and need.

So what now, you ask? Speak truth over your circumstances, life, and feelings, and know that the author of your soul loves you with a fierce and unrelenting love. Your life is good right now! So go live it and enjoy it, dear one. I love you friends, and I'm praying for you.


The Enemy Says
God Says
God’s Word Says
You are less than because you are single.
You are whole and made with purpose.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works; which God has prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
-Ephesians 2:10
Marriage is a reward and something you can earn.
All gifts come from Him. A gift cannot be earned.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
-James 1:16-17
He will not be faithful to His word.
He is always faithful. Always.
He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.
-1 Thessalonians 5:24
You’re the only one who knows how you feel.
He knows your every thought.
O Lord, You have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discrern my thoughts from afar. -Psalm 139:1
You are without hope.
Your hope is in Christ.
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. -Hebrews 6:19
Your life will get better with marriage.
The heart is deceitful. There are trials in all seasons.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.
-John 16:33
Jesus is not enough.
Jesus more than enough.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. -John 10:10
It’s ok to settle.
Never settle. God wants the best for you.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations.
-Ephesians 3:20-21
Satisfy your desires with lust.
Value genuine love more than the fleeting passions of lust.
Put to death, therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
-Colossians 3:5
Feel sorry for yourself and jealous of your friends.
Be content and grateful for what you have been given.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.
-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Your life will really begin with marriage.
Your life has already begun. (!!!)
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
-Psalm 90:12

If you liked this post, then you will LOVE my new book, Already Chosen, which is coming later this spring to Amazon. :)

Further reading: 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

My 2018 Goals and One Word



So I know that everyone has already been talking about goals and resolutions, and something like 80% of people have already failed at their resolutions. But for the last several years, I haven't made any resolutions, I've used Powersheets to help me make specific goals for various aspects of my life where I wanted to grow or invest in. And friends, it has made all the difference. A resolution usually is made when there is a desperate desire for change, but then the guilt sets in as you don't make the choices you know you should make and things just seem hard to keep up with. But a goal has a deeper meaning to it and usually reflects a desire for specific change within an area of your life. Or at least that's how I see it. :)

I took the month of January to focus on getting ready for and having my procedure and recovering from that, so I have had a lot of time to think about what I want this year to look like. Last night I told Rory, "I have three months left until I turn 30." Wow. That's a crazy thought. Not only do I want to enjoy the rest of the last year of my twenties, but I want to welcome 30 with open hands and an open heart!

This year, I couldn't just pin one word down as my "word for the year." In the past several months, I have been learning about what it means to rest in the Lord - to not approach my relationship with Him (or life in general) from a place of striving and trying to earn His favor, which is already mine through Christ Jesus. He has also been teaching me about what it means to walk in victory. Not just over sin, but in my attitude and in the way I approach life. Do I think of myself as victim of my circumstances or choices, or do I choose to see the world from a place of settled abundance and trust in Him?

I want to trust Him in all things and live a victorious life. So my phrase for this year is "resting in victory." Because I don't have to strive to do it all when He has already made a way. I don't have to live from a place of defeat when I am more than a conqueror through Christ. Over and over the Lord just keeps confirming it. I mean, I found out this weekend that my middle name, Nicole, means "the victory of the people" in Greek! Are you kidding me? God is so cool, y'all.

Without further adieu, here are my goals for 2018:

1. Memorize whole chapters of Scripture. 

At the Lifeway Women's Leadership Forum in November, Lysa Terkeurst said, "Jesus Christ saved my soul, but the Word of God saved my mind." Yes. All the amens to this. I want my entire life to be saturated with Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God, so the only way to do that is to know His Word!

2. Become a student of the Word. 

I absolutely LOVE to do a good Bible study or read a good book. Beth Moore, Francine Rivers, Lysa Terkeurst, Priscilla Shirer...I love to learn from wise women who are authors. But I also get so much more out of my time in God's word when I dig for the treasure myself. So this year, I want to do the hard work myself and dig deep!

3. Become more disciplined with money. 

I think this will always be something that I am working on. Rory and I don't abuse credit cards, our cars are paid off, and we try to save each month but also live generously. BUT. We could always learn more and do better.

4. Invest more in my marriage. 

At our staff retreat, our speaker told us that the best way to be a good parent is to love your spouse. Well there you have it. I want to always make Rory my priority (after Christ). I think that we love each other well, but we are most assuredly not perfect, and I want us to continue to grow together.

5. Continue taking care of my physical health. 

Last year I made some changes to my diet, and it changed a lot about how I felt from day to day. In the fall I added exercise to the picture when I joined a gym for the first time in a couple years, and it has taken me to the next level! I love my classes and want to continue to take care of myself and make good choices regarding my physical health so that I can do all that God has called me to do.



6. Publish my second book. 

EEK! This one is scary to write, but the time has come! All through last year I wrote my book in chunks, and this spring, I will release and self-publish it via Amazon. So. very. excited!

7. Advocate for kids in foster care. 

We are *almost* approved foster parents, in fact, our first home study is on Sunday! This calling is something that is so dear to our hearts, and I pray we can advocate for these kids and love on the ones who enter our home.

8. Lay the foundation for CWJC of Athens. 

So I haven't said anything officially here, but I am starting a women's ministry here in Athens! There is a lot more to that and it deserves its own post, but just know that I am crazy excited about it and will tell you all more soon. :)

9. Read 12 books. 

I mean, does this even need an explanation? And hopefully I will read more. :)

10. Have more fun!

Annie Downs, one of my favorite authors, always says that she wants to prioritize fun, because it is just underrated. And friends, there may be a million things that are completely out of my control, but I can control my attitude. And I want to have more fun. :)

What are you working toward this year?
What are you focusing on?

I'll be back soon with my February goals (even though it is almost the middle of the month. There's grace for that, right?!)


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Currently: February




Well my friends, it is February, the shortest month of the year, but maybe the sweetest if you are a fan of Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day used to be a difficult holiday for me, but when I lived in Mexico, it was a day to celebrate all of your loved ones, not just romantic love. That mental shift changed so much for me; I loved celebrating friends as well as family members. And of course now that I have Rory, Valentine's Day has taken on a new kind of sweet. This month there are lots of fun things on our calendar, and it makes me want to celebrate sweetness all month long. Here's what is going on currently:

finishing: This month I am determined to finish the final draft of my second book, and I am really excited to put together a plan for the launch of this special project!
subscribing: Thanks to my husband, I am now an avid podcast listener. I recently subscribed to Making Obama, which starts tomorrow, and I am super excited to listen. The show is produced by the same team who created Making Oprah, which I binge listened to in a matter of days.
wishlisting: In a short matter of time, our house will be open to kids in foster care, so I am wishlisting all kinds of things to make the kids room cute and comfy and welcoming.
watching: Last month during my recovery, Rory and I binge watched Fuller House on Netflix. This past weekend we started watching Planet Earth II, and I loved it!
hearting: All things cozy. I love a good sweater, blanket, and slippers, even though it has been in the upper 60s the last couple days!

Linking up with Anne today!


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Power of Our Words




A handwritten note. An encouraging text. A funny joke spoken at just the right time. There is power in our words, friends, isn't there? I have always been a words girl. Words just make sense to me. I know some communicate in numbers and symbols or through art, but words? Words are my jam. Our words have power, friends. When we put something in writing, it means something.

My mom taught me the power of a handwritten note as a child when she ensured that we wrote thank you cards to relatives and family friends when we received gifts for our birthdays and holidays. I personally love receiving a good old fashioned letter in the mail. But friends, sometimes we just forget to send the card on time, don't we? And sometimes we don't want to go through the hassle of going to the post office. So we opt for digital. But then the digital options we see are gimmicky or not cute at all! What's a gal to do?



Enter Paperless Post. Friends, I had no idea how wonderful this website was. I had heard of it and used it before, but they have since made some amazing improvements. Not only can you send a beautiful invitation that will drop into your friends' inboxes with such amazing finesse, but you can also send a card just because or to wish someone a happy birthday! I love the beautiful options they have, too. My personal favorite is their Rifle Paper Co line. Ok also the #obsessed.

If you're looking for a way to spice up (or keep classy) your digital stationery game, look no further. Paperless Post has got you covered.

*This post was published in partnership with Anagram Interactive.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A Fresh Start



Hello my friends, and a very happy (belated) New Year to you! I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Christmas season and are looking forward to all that God has in store for you in 2018. It's been a while since I have written here, but alas, #holidays. Today, I want to give you an update on my health and all that has been going on in the last few months. I promise this isn't going to turn into a blog that is just an update on my health and such, but this is the easiest way for me to be able to keep you informed and armed with information so that you can pray! I do not take your prayers for granted and am very grateful for you all. 


Last month, Rory and I decided that we would attack my fibroid issue/gynecological health and then address any remaining infertility issues. We visited with two different doctors here in Athens and weren't really getting any answers to the questions we had, so we sought out a specialist in the Atlanta area who performs a non-invasive non-surgical procedure called Uterine Fibroid Embolization. In the past, doctors have recommended that I have a laparoscopic myomectomy, which is a surgical procedure in which they cut away any fibroids they can find. It also involves an incision to the uterus, and there is a waiver you have to sign saying that you understand you could wake up without your uterus if things go wrong. Needless to say, I was not about that. 

This other procedure, UFE, is a non-invasive alternative to surgery in which the doctor can get every one of the fibroids.  There is no incision and a radiologist performs the procedure.The recovery time is only 7-10 days as opposed to several weeks, and there is no incision. Unfortunately, myomectomies can reduce a patient's fertility by as much as 50%, and there is always the chance that the fibroids will come back. But the UFE procedure is completely different in that the fibroids rarely reoccur and it does not impact fertility nearly as harshly. There are actually some studies that say it will improve fertility

The specialist in ATL requires an MRI before reviewing each patient's case, so I had an MRI the week before Christmas and sent it off to their office and then had an online consultation with the doctor last Monday. The consultation about my MRI went really well and the doctor was so kind and very thorough. He talked with us for almost an hour! He said that I am a good candidate for the procedure. (Praise. the. Lord.) The MRI shows that I have one major fibroid that is about 6 cm (the size of a small orange) and then a few other ones as well, with a total of about 5-6 altogether. 

After talking with the doctor, Rory and I both felt a peace about proceeding along this path. God has opened all of the doors so quickly and easily, and everything has come together so well. My appointment is tomorrow, Friday morning at 6:15 am (eeessshhh). And because it is a procedure performed in an office instead of an outpatient facility or hospital, it is going to cost us next to nothing. God is so good. I truly believe that over this last year, He protected me from getting pregnant so that I could be taken care of first. I am so incredibly grateful and am really looking forward to a fresh start. It's been a long road, but we are finally beginning to see some glimmers of hope and a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Please pray for:

- an easy recovery
- quick results
- complete healing 

And if you are suffering from fibroids, please contact me and I will be more than happy to give you information about my amazing doctor!

P.S. If you live in Athens and have flexibility during the day I am more than open to visitors next week as I recover at home. :)


Friday, January 5, 2018

Currently: January

My husband made this delicious breakfast on Christmas morning. Isn't he amazing?!

I am so ready for a fresh start. Anybody else? Here's what's going on currently around these parts:

starting: I am starting to take my health more seriously by taking baby steps to wellness. In October I joined a gym and have loved the group fitness classes. It has been so fun and I want to keep going!
hoping: This year I am hoping for lots of rest- mentally and emotionally. Even when things are busy I want to have an attitude of rest in the Lord.
scheduling: I'm not scheduling much right now, as much as trying to take it easy!
reading: Christy by Catherine Marshall is an all-time favorite of mine, so I am re-reading it and loving it.
playing: I have been playing Christy Nockel's new album and have been so encouraged by her beautiful voice and the truth-filled lyrics.

What are you up to in this New Year?

Linking up with Anne today!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

when your womb is empty + your heart is full



*This post was originally published back in September, but I’ve updated it and wanted to share with y’all where we are at now. Thank you for following along with our journey. I’m super honored to be featured at the Trying Collective website today and hope that if you’re going through a similar journey, you’ll check out what they’re doing.


All my life I have wanted to be a mom. When my little sister was born, I was obsessed with her. Who knows, I may have called her "my baby;" you know how kids are. I was so so happy to have a little bundle of joy as a new addition to our family and thought it was just about the best thing ever. Growing up I didn't have a lot "normal" teenage jobs- I never worked in retail or in food service. I mostly babysat and worked at preschools. Caring for kids was just natural to me, which led me to teaching elementary school for six years.


He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. - Ecclesiastes 3:11


Even in my season of singleness, I always felt like I would be a mom someday. I figured if I didn't get married, I would adopt or start a children's home or go live abroad and work in an orphanage or something of the like. So when I did finally meet Rory, obviously I started thinking about kids. Duh. I  was made to be a mom. I know it and feel it in my bones. As the older sibling, I've got the bossy thing down. In middle school, my peers called me "Mommy Jessi." Looking back that was probably an insult, but I didn't care. I saw nothing but positivity in that- they thought I could take care of others! Funny how your middle school (or adult) mind can twist things, isn't it? But seriously, friends. I can think of nothing I want more than raising little disciples of Jesus Christ to be fierce world changers for the Gospel.


I digress. When Rory and I had been dating for a little while, I remember him asking me if my parents cared that he was white. Obviously they didn't, but I returned the question. He said, "No, my parents don't care. My mom really wants mixed grandkids." And there you have it, folks. At this point I had not even met his mother. The man was serious though. There was another time where we were arguing about different sports and I mentioned how much I wanted to play soccer when I was younger. Soccer is his least favorite sport, so he said, "Our kids are not playing soccer." Friends we had not talked about marriage at this point, and he quickly said, "I just talked about our kids. That was weird. Sorry." TRY AND GUESS IF I MINDED. Heart was swooning, peeps.


Fast forward to the beginning of marriage when I was on the cray birth control and kind of hated life. We knew we didn't want to have kids right away, and even though we didn't want to wait for too long, it felt like a leap of faith to finally just stop taking the pill after a year when we realized the havoc it was wreaking on oh, everything. There are so many scare tactics surrounding sex and pregnancy and birth control and the like. I mean, we literally thought I would like spontaneously get pregnant if I wasn't on the pill. Oh the good old days.


During our first year of marriage, I literally would beg Rory for a baby and ask him if we could start trying. We had agreed to wait two years, but we would go back and forth on whether that meant we had to wait two years to start trying or if we could have a baby by the time we had been married for two years. After all of my crazy health stuff with the fibroids, we got the ok from the doctor and decided to start trying in December of 2016.


At this point I was feeling pretty empowered with all of my knowledge of basal body temping (just Google it) and figured it didn't take rocket science to procreate and thought it wouldn't take us too long. But it didn't happen. And then it didn't happen the next month. Or the month after that. Or the month after that. And now it’s been a year and it hasn’t happened. It's "only" (huge air quotes here) been a year. Most doctors say to give it a year. When you hear that you may think, "Oh a year isn't too bad! A year can fly by!" Which is true. Except for when you're in a season of infertility. I cannot tell you the myriad ways I have imagined in my head that we would announce our pregnancy to friends and family or the holidays that I thought would be so much brighter because of such fun news. Sadly, we haven't had the opportunity to share that news.


I say "season of infertility" intentionally, because I am not claiming or walking in the identity of an "infertile" woman but am instead believing in the power and promises of an almighty God to heal. I believe that all women have the ability to give life and that my body was created to do so, so I am choosing to believe that God will bring us our own biological child(ren) in due time. Hannah's story in 1 Samuel has been a cornerstone for me during this time, because she never gave up. She persistently asked for the desires of her heart and unashamedly begged her God to fight for and remember her, and He did. I will not give up. I will not be shaken, and I will not back down. That's the kind of faith I want to have. That's the kind of God I want to serve and know and love.


Hope deferred makes the heart sick,


   but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.- Proverbs 13:12


One day, I was driving to work and singing along to Kari Jobe's newest album (go listen to it right now) and these words left my lips: The only thing I want in life is to be known for loving Christ. And then I started weeping. Because you know what? I want that. I really do. But most days I'd really rather have a baby in my belly or in my arms already.




I used to take my health and my presumed ability to procreate for granted. It seemed pretty easy for most people around me to make babies, so I figured it would be the same for me. That hasn't been the case so far. And you know what? It sucks. It really, really sucks. (Sorry Mom, I know you hate that word.) Part of me feels like I can't even write this post because we have no "official diagnosis" of infertility and there are people who have waited or are waiting so much longer than we have. My heart genuinely hurts with those friends.


But this is what I know. There is no pain like that of an empty womb. Nothing. It is the deepest and most raw pain I have ever felt. This summer I found myself sitting on the floor of our living room shaking and crying my eyes out and saying to my husband, "Nothing will make this pain go away. No matter how hard I try to busy myself with other things and enjoy other things about my life, this pain still lingers. It hurts and it won't go away and I don't know what to do. I know I have a great life. I love you. I love our house. I love our friends. But I don't have a baby and I don't know when we will have a baby and it hurts so bad."


With each passing month, I have had to lay down and surrender various hopes and dreams. Like the thought that it would be pretty likely that I would be a mom by age 30. Or the hope that next Mother's Day I would hold a baby in my arms. Or that this Christmas we would be a family of three. And the most frustrating part is that each month brings with it the icky yucky awful painful periods that I can't really do much about right now since we are trying to conceive. It seems like a sick cosmic joke.


I can't control the outcome here. I cannot perform my way to pregnancy or earn a baby. And sometimes that just about does me in. Because friends, I am really good with earning and performance measures. I have cried out to God- why them and not me? What have I done? What have I not done? Whatever You need me to do, just tell me! And you know what's He's said to me? Abide.




Ummm. Kind of don't want to do that, Lord. Seems a little loosey goosey and mystical.  Just give me a checklist. Give me a program to follow. I am like, so good at following directions. Just give me a clear-cut list, please and thank you.


I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.- John 15:5


Much to my chagrin, God doesn't operate this way. His ways are higher, greater, and better. He is the gentle whisper to my soul in the night when I cannot sleep. He is in the lyrics of the hymns sung in the wee hours of the morning when the pain won't subside. He is in the embrace of my husband's arms when I think I cannot take one more step. He is in the words spoken at just the right time. He is in the card in the mail from a friend who knows how to comfort. He is in the date night where I give thanks that it is still just the two of us for a little while longer.


For a while I didn't talk to many people about this struggle. It was embarrassing, and I was ashamed. I felt like something was wrong with me and with my body- or with Rory and his body. I didn't want to be a downer when I am constantly surrounded by pregnant women and babies. I've questioned why some people get to have babies "on accident" or why people who don't even want to have kids get to have them. And to that the Lord has said, "That's not for you to decide." Point taken.


Three things are never satisfied;
   four never say, “Enough”:
Sheol, the barren womb,
   the land never satisfied with water,
   and the fire that never says, “Enough.”
- Proverbs 30:16


After a year of trying to make a baby, this is where I find myself- with a barren (for now) womb that is not satisfied. But here's the thing. For the first few months of this darkness, I allowed this desire to completely consume me. It touched everything- my marriage, my friendships, my attitude, my thought life- no stone was left unturned. Baby showers just about did me in, and seeing the Facebook news feed riddled with pregnancy announcements felt like a personal affront. Some of these things are still painful, and I still have to will myself to be happy for others. That's the primary reason I'm limiting my activity Instagram right now. The mindless scrolling was producing way too much bitterness and jealousy in this fragile heart of mine. The struggle was is real, and I say that in the least flippant way possible.


When all I can think about is what I don't yet have, I'm not walking in the truth. Because the truth says that I am not lacking. The truth says that the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. The truth says that God has not forgotten me. In fact, He has engraved me on the palm of His hands. The enemy of our souls is crafty, friends. It is so so so easy to focus on what "everyone else" has. But when I do that, I'm not walking in gratitude and I'm allowing my desires to become demands. And when that happens, I've made God more like my Santa Claus. When I'm focused on my pain and frustrations, I can't love others well because all I can do is look at me, me, me. And the enemy knows that. The beautiful thing about this season, especially the most recent months, is that God has made it overwhelmingly clear that He loves me and that He is continuing to work in my life. In. so. many. ways.


“Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” - Isaiah 1:17


The most beautiful thing to come out of this is our recent decision to pursue foster care. When Rory and I were dating, we both talked about how we thought it would be cool to adopt one day, but then we learned about the current foster care crisis. Friends, did you know that there are over 13,500 kids in the state of Georgia alone who need a foster home? That statistic alone is overwhelming, but the even sadder part about it is that there are not nearly enough homes for these children. Many children have to go out of their region or even have to stay in a group home or hotel when there is no one willing to step in and advocate for them.





In February, Rory and I attended a local conference about foster care and adoption called Choosing to Care. We learned about the differences between foster care and adoption and both left the conference feeling like as a couple we were called to foster care. I need to be clear here- we aren’t pursuing foster care because we just want to “get a baby.” We are pursuing foster care as an act of obedience and because we know that the Lord has given us this call as a couple. We know that we can offer love and a safe home to the child(ren) that God brings to our home. So we are praying for Him to bring the ones who need Him and for our hearts to continue to be softened and enlarged for the voiceless. The beautiful thing about our story is that if I had gotten pregnant right away, we probably wouldn’t be pursuing foster care right now. We would have continued to put it off, and our family could look completely different. But over and over, God has said that the time is now. There are children waiting who do not have the luxury of allowing me to figure out when it is convenient for us to open our home.


Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.- Romans 12:15


Here's what I've learned and am trying my darnedest to walk in- my story is not her story. Her happiness does not have to threaten mine. I can rejoice with others. I can walk alongside friends who are in different seasons and who are experiencing what my heart literally hurts to have. But I cannot do it alone. I have to fight for this joy and this happiness in a way I never have before. It is a conscious choice to celebrate others, but that doesn't make it any less genuine. I have to remember that the world does not revolve around me and my pain- no matter how real and raw it is. I have to remember that my God is for me even when I don't want to get out of bed in the morning because the pregnancy test was negative again. I have to remember that God is sovereign and that He loves me and that His plans for me are always only good. I have to remember that He didn't make me sick or cause my illness and that He's not punishing me. I have to remember. I have to remember. And it is in the remembering that my praise comes forth and my soul is lifted. It is in the remembering that my hope soars and my perspective shifts, because He's in the waiting.


So I buy the gifts and I say congratulations and I go to the showers because that's what a good friend does. And all the while, I hold on to hope. I say thank you to Jesus for the millionth time as I recall His kindness to me and how much He's done for me. I fall more in love with my husband every single day as I covet  admire his strength and unwavering faith. And I pray like I never have before and say sorry a lot and surrender and just ask God for a deeper love for Him and a heart that looks like His. Because if there's anything I've learned in the last ten months, it's that Jesus is all that matters, and He is all I have.I lift my voice and give a sacrifice of praise and laugh at the days to come as I hope in His unfailing love. Because friends, I have been given a good life. I have so much to be grateful for. So while my womb is empty, my heart is full. Because I serve a good God, and I can say with confidence and conviction, it is well with my soul.


Sources of Encouragement


God's Plan for Pregnancy (Literally the best book about all things pregnancy- before, during, and after- and one I wish I had a year ago. I recommend it to everyone no matter what their situation.)
The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast (episodes #158, #155, #132)
The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp
True Identity by Jennifer Brommett
Fiercehearted by Holley Gerth
Gracelaced by Ruth Chou Simons
Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst
God is Able by Priscilla Shirer
The Lucky Few by Heather Avis
The Armor of God Bible study by Priscilla Shirer
Covenant Bible study by Kay Arthur
And entirely too many worship songs to count that have held me and lifted my heart.

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