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.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fashion Friday

So I know I said that I would be posting every Friday buttttt life gets in the way sometimes, ya know? I have been posting my outfits on Instagram, so I hope you've been following there. :) Here's what I've been wearing during this sometimes cold, sometimes warm November.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Currently: November

Ok friends, we are in the last two months of the year! Eeeekkk! I've heard it said that once we've made it past Halloween, we are in the holiday season and everything is downhill from there. I couldn't agree more! I've got the holidays on my mind and I am pretty pumped about it. Here's what is going on currently:

Realizing: I am realizing more and more the perfection of God's timing. His plans and ways are always perfect. 
Stirring: The weather is getting cooler, so that means we are eating more soup and chili! I've been stirring up some new recipes.
Appreciating: I am so very appreciative of my job. It has been such a blessing for me and I love my church so so much. 
Investigating: We are in the process of beginning a journey to become foster parents, so we are investigating all the information we can get our hands on, and pretty soon they will be investigating us to make sure we fit the bill!
Following: My oily friend Kelly shared some neat foster care resources with me, and I began following "Foster the Family" on Instagram and love her! They've got 10 kids people. Ten. children. #goals

What are you up to currently?

Linking up with Anne and Julie today. :)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

#write31days: Laying It All Down

Ok friends. For thirty-ish days we have been learning about how to rest in contentment. We've talked about how to identify lies we believe about contentment, how to celebrate and encourage others, how to be grateful, and how to rid ourselves of comparison. Some of these things are just not fun. It's hard to face the icky and dark parts of our hearts and to allow God to use His ways to change and mold us. 

Here's what I've learned in this last month (because I have not been sharing these things with you as an expert). The cure for all of our struggles is always Jesus. It's the Sunday school answer, but it's the truth. When we rid ourselves of our selfishness and pride, we find that we have nothing that is of value outside of Jesus. The cure for the longings of our souls is always, always, always more Jesus. 

When we believe we are loved by the Creator of the universe, everything else that seems so important suddenly fades. When we find ourselves consumed with Him, we cannot simultaneously sit in ingratitude and comparison. It just isn't possible. Let's be a people who are consumed by Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. What could be better than Him?

Saturday, October 28, 2017

#write31days: How to Love Your Life, Pt. 4

Last weekend, our challenge was to write a letter of encouragement to a friend. Did you do it? I hope you did. I hope you were able to send words of kindness and love in snail mail to a most deserving recipient.

This weekend, I want you to call someone on the phone. I know, text is so much easier. Why call nowadays? The reason why a phone call means a lot is because you know that someone is not writing you off or getting to you "when they feel like it." When you take the time to talk to someone on the phone, you get to hear their tone of voice. You can laugh together. You can pray over one another. It's just different than a text, and we all know it.

So my friend, who will you call on the phone today?

Friday, October 27, 2017

#write31days: Truth to Hold Onto, Pt. 4

Today we are going to look at verses that challenge us to encourage others and rejoice with them. Oftentimes encouraging someone who we are jealous of is the last thing we want to do. It is easy to sit in a myopic view and think about how we are the ones who need encouragement instead of doing all that we can to give it away to others. But the beauty about encouraging someone else is that it takes the focus off of you and points to your friend. The act of speaking life over someone else helps shed light on what is true and what is worth celebrating. Let's continue to champion one another, shall we?

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.- 1 Thessalonians 5:11

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.- Romans 15:5-6

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! - 1 Chronicles 16:10

Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! - Psalm 32:11

The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.- Proverbs 15:30

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.- Luke 1:57-58

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. - Romans 12:12-15
But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.- 1 Corinthians 12:24-26

Thursday, October 26, 2017

#write31days: Celebrating Our Friends

Yesterday we talked about the importance of recognizing when the desire to compete has gotten the best of us. As I was thinking about and preparing for this series, I read a book called Comparison Trap by Sandra Stanley. One of the questions she asked that punched me in the gut was this: Whose failure do you secretly celebrate? Wow. That one hurt. And what was worse was that it didn't take me long to think of the friend whose failure (which seems like a strong word, so let's go with "lack") I secretly relish in when I'm in the throes of insecurity and self-absorption.

All of this comes back to our lens- are we looking at the world as a place of scarcity or as a place of abundance? John 10:10 says, "The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly."

If all I can see is my perceived lack, then I am no good to anyone. I am not an asset in my workplace. I am not an encouraging wife. I'm not building a life-giving home. I am not a good daughter, friend, or mentor. When all I see is lack and the things I do not yet have or the gifts that were not bestowed upon me, who am I helping? Who am I serving?

Let's remember this today, friends. When we celebrate our friends, our hearts are a little lighter. We find peace when we are not constantly consumed with ourselves. We find joy when we share each other's burdens and rejoice when others succeed, because in the kingdom of God, there is room for each of us at the table, and we are all running after the same thing- for His name to be glorified above all.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

#write31days: When We Compete, We Miss Out

With two of my very best friends in Seattle earlier this year. 

We've all heard it said that we were made for community, but do we live like we believe that? How many times have we heard the phrase, "No man is an island," but how often do we try to do everything on our own?

Friends, there is beauty in friendship and there is joy in finding community. "Community" is a buzz word that is thrown around a lot these days. The definition of community is "a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals." When we decide to quit looking at what we don't have through eyes of lack, we can allow ourselves the space to find friendship with those who share the same passions and interests. Community does not come out of thin air, though. It takes hard work! 

When we compete, we miss out on community. When we allow thoughts of insecurity and comparison to consume us, we forfeit the joy found in living in vulnerability before our friends. There is so much power found when we lay down our insecurities, hangups, prejudices, biases, and desires to compete in order to find genuine friendships with others. Let's do this today so that we don't miss out on the riches of relationship.

Monday, October 23, 2017

#write31days: What Is Competition?

Are you any of you sports fans? Throughout my life, I would not have identified myself as a sports fan. My family lived in Indianapolis for three years during my childhood, and while I claimed to cheer for the Colts and Pacers, I didn't know much about either game or team. It wasn't until I came to the University of Georgia that I began to follow sports. Attending the home football games was an experience like no other.

I wouldn't consider myself to be a competitive person, yet in the midst of comparison, jealousy, and resentment, isn't that the condition of my heart? If I feel like I am lagging behind or less than when I look to the lives of my peers to define my worth and status, then I've made life into a competition.

Have you ever stopped to look at nature and consider the beauty that God created for us to behold each day? Today I was looking at the leaves that are slowly changing, and I was caught up in their beauty! The leaves don't look to one another and say, "Wow, her hue is so much brighter than mine! If only I were like her. I wish I could outshine her and get more attention. Then people would really love me." This sounds silly, but we do this when we attempt to compete with others by making everything in our lives a competition.

The beautiful creation that surrounds us does not attempt to outshine or outgrow its counterparts. Each part of nature just does it job. We are the only ones in all of creation that attempt to outshine our neighbors and make a name for ourselves when we were created to praise our Creator and give Him glory.

This week we are taking a look at what happens when we compete with others. Buckle up, friends!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

#write31days: How to Love Your Life, Pt. 3

Today’s challenge is simple. If you’re struggling with comparison and the hurt of feeling left behind or frustrated with another friend’s success, celebrate and encourage her by writing a note. In today’s world, it’s easy to believe that an email or text can suffice, but we all know that there is something very special about a handwritten note received in the mail. When you get a note in the mail, you know that someone took intentional time out of their day to stop what they were doing to encourage you. So why not pay it forward by telling someone why you’re grateful for them? You just might make their day.

Friday, October 20, 2017

#write31days: Truth to Hold On To, Pt. 3

It’s so important to remember that we’re all in this thing called life together. Not in a cheesy High School Musical way, but in the most genuine way possible. We are not alone. In fact, we are all given the responsibility of loving others and encouraging them on their journeys. Today we’re goong to take a look at the “one another” verses. Let’s cut the comparison and remember that we are stronger together!

Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:9

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:10

“Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:26‬ ‭

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
‭‭John‬ ‭13:34

“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭13:11‬ ‭

“Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭

Who can you love today?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

#write31days: Our Greedy Hearts

Have you ever bought something new and then seen what your neighbor has and been instantly dissatisfied and ready for an upgrade? Maybe you wish for more and better and can’t deal with the thought of not being current or on trend. Maybe the opinions of others are the driving forces behind the purchases you make. Maybe you’ve even been unwise with the money God has given you to steward because you’re afraid of being “behind.”

Friends, this is called greed. You could also call it materialism. It’s easy for us to adopt an American mindset of “more is better.” I mean, I’ve been saying for years that I want to have a capsule wardrobe, but the fear of “not having enough” has held me back. Who decides how much is enough? Who decides how much is too much? How do we live without allowing our possessions to own us?

Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-34:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, about what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what will you put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seem first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

When we find ourselves consumed with the desire for more material things, we are completely missing the point of our lives here on earth. We weren’t put on this earth to accumulate as much as we could and then get to the other side. We were made to lay down our lives for others. We were made to enjoy life and enjoy God. You know the saying- “No one’s ever seen a UHaul behind a hearse.” So let’s focus on the mission before us and hold our stuff with open hands, knowing that it’s not eternal, but the kingdom of God is.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

#write31days: Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better

Anything you can do,
I can do better
I can do anything
Better than you.
No, you can't. 
Yes, I can. No, you can't.
Yes, I can. No, you can't.
Yes, I can,
Yes, I can!

The lyrics above are from the musical Annie Get Your Gun. Admittedly, I haven’t seen this show. But I’ve heard the song, and you probably have too. Today we’re going to talk about comparing accomplishments and talents.

How many times have you thought to yourself:

I wish I were as smart as her.
She’s so talented and has it all together. I’m a mess.
Wow, her life is perfect!
If only I had the same personality as her, I’d be so much better at _______.

It is so incredibly tempting to look to the right or left and allow ourselves to be bogged down in insecurity. But when we consider others as better than ourselves and allow everyone else’s talents to overshadow ours, we miss out on opportunities God has given us to shine and to grow. When I’m so laser focused on all that I cannot do, how can I serve Him with a humble heart?

God does not ask us to be anyone other than who He has created us to be. He does not expect us to be able to do it all. So why do we expect that of ourselves? Why do we think that we should be able keep every plate spinning and satisfy every one? We place expectations, requirements, and burdens upon ourselves that were just never meant to be ours to carry. 

Paul says in Romans 12:4-8, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Each of us has a different gift that can be used to encourage others and to build the kingdom of God. Let’s not waste our time by wishing for what has not been given to us. Let’s work together and use what we’ve got to strengthen others and watch God do something incredible with all of His people united in His name. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#write31days: Why I’m Grateful for Infertility

Friends, today I write to you from Dallas, TX. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m in Dallas, TX for national training to begin a women’s ministry in Athens. But let me back up, because the title of this blog post is “Why I’m Grateful for Infertility,” after all.

Here’s the thing, whether we choose to accept it or not- God’s ways are higher than ours. His thoughts are not our thoughts, because He knows everything and sees the entire picture. We see a teeny tiny blip and yet we still think we should be able to boss Him around and ask Him to acquiesce to our plans and our ways. But friends, we all know that’s just not the way it works.

A few weeks ago I wrote about our struggle with a season of infertility. Since then dozens of people have contacted me to say “me too.” And while it’s comforting to know I’m definitely not alone in this, it also hurts my heart to know that others know this pain and longing.

I digress. Friends, God is the author of all that is good. He is our provider, our source, and our shepherd. Every single thing He gives us or withholds for a season is not without purpose. It is in the classroom of infertility that I have learned greater empathy and deep sorrow, but I have also been able to say without a doubt that my God is still good. He still loves me.

Because if I’d gotten pregnant on my timeline, I wouldn’t be in Dallas right now. I wouldn’t have met an incredible woman who introduced me to a ministry that is needed in Athens. I wouldn’t have been able to enter into the suffering and heartache of others who are trying to conceive. I wouldn’t know Him the way I do now.

So even though I never would have written the story this way, I can say thank you. For all of it. Because friends, when we compare our season or story or accomplishments to someone else’s, we’re not giving God the glory He deserves for what He’s done in our lives. We’re so distracted with the longing for what we don’t yet have that we cannot live with purpose in the plan He’s already laid out for us. May it not be so! Let’s say thank you in the thick of it and champion each other to live in our story and run our own race.

Monday, October 16, 2017

#write31days: What Is Comparison?

Last week we talked about how to have a grateful heart Today we are going to make sure we know what comparison is so that we know how to kick it to the curb.
The thing about comparison is that it can be very sneaky. I used to think of it only in the sense of coveting another’s belongings or gifts, but that is only one of its forms. Comparison can also come in the form of vanity and pride. Do you celebrate another’s failures or secretly wish that she doesn’t get what she wants? That’s comparison, too. I’d never thought of it that way until I read Comparison Trap by Sandra Stanley. In this timely book, she helps you uncover secret thought patterns that are unknowingly killing your friendships and relationships with those you love. 
This week, we will take a look at how to kick these ugly thoughts out. We will begin to identify our unhealthy thought processes and look at just how icky this sin can be. It may not be fun or pretty, but the work will be worth it. I hope you’ll do what you need to do to find freedom from this trap!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

#write31days: How to Love Your Life Pt. 2

Each Saturday I will bring you a little challenge that will help you on your road to contentment. I may sound like a broken record, but there is nothing that will change your heart and mind like the word of God. Hebrews tells us that it is sharper than any two-edged sword and can change our very lives. Today’s challenge is simply this- choose a verse from Scripture that will help you remember that God is your everything. Then memorize it!
For those of you who think you can’t memorize anything, that’s a lie. You can memorize things for school and new song lyrics at the drop of a hat. Memorizing Scripture takes work, but it is worth it. So maybe take a look at yesterday’s post and choose a verse that will help you remember where your true contentment lies. 
And if you need help memorizing, try the following:
Say the verse ten times. 
Write the verse over and over. 
Put the verse on a notecard that can go on your mirror or dashboard.
Make the verse your phone background. 
Doodle or illustrate the verse. 
What verse will you memorize today?

Friday, October 13, 2017

#write31days: Truth to Hold Onto, Pt. 2

This week has been all about gratitude. Can I be honest and just say that everything I'm sharing with you is for my heart, too? I am by no means a master of these practices and attitudes of the heart. Everything that I write here is what the Lord is teaching me and challenging me with in my every day life in the present. So please know that this is all from a "me, too" perspective. :)

Today we are going to take a look at verses that call us to give thanks. The Scriptures for today are all from the NIV. :)

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. - 1 Chronicles 16:8

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his loves endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. - Psalm 100:4-5

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." - Hebrews 12:28

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Corinthians 15:57


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