Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Currently: December



It's the most wonderful time of the year! Who can believe that December is here and 2018 is coming to a close? I know I can't! I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are anticipating the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I am excited about what is to come in the year ahead and also am looking forward to lots of time to spend with friends and family in these last few weeks of the year. Here's what is going on currently around these parts:

Gifting: I am almost done with my Christmas shopping, and I am excited to give my fun finds to friends and family alike.
Baking: This past weekend, I baked some sugar cookies to bring to Chosen for Life Ministries, a local organization who partners with foster and adoptive families. Each year they give cookies to the area DFCS workers. I was pretty proud of myself for rolling out the dough and felt like I was on the Great British Baking Show!
Singing: ALL the Christmas songs! I listen to Christmas music whenever I feel like it throughout the year, but obviously it is more special during this time! I particularly like John Legend's Christmas album.
Mailing: Christmas goodies! I have lots of fun things to send to my oily leaders, friends, and family.
Decorating: Our new home. We still haven't gotten our tree yet, but we are going tonight! It feels like we are so late because Thanksgiving was so early this year! I'm anxious to finally get it set up so that our Christmas decorating will feel complete.

What are you up to currently?

Merry Christmas! 

Linking up with Anne today!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Through All Seasons


1It was like a dream come true
when you freed us from our bondage and brought us back to Zion!
2We laughed and laughed and overflowed with gladness.
We were left shouting for joy and singing your praise.
All the nations saw it and joined in, saying,
“The Lord has done great miracles for them!”
3Yes, he did mighty miracles and we are overjoyed!
4Now, Lord, do it again! Restore us to our former glory!
May streams of your refreshing flow over us
until our dry hearts are drenched again.
5Those who sow their tears as seeds
will reap a harvest with joyful shouts of glee.
6They may weep as they go out carrying their seed to sow,
but they will return with joyful laughter and shouting with gladness
as they bring back armloads of blessing and a harvest overflowing!
- Psalm 126, The Passion Translation


To say that we are grateful for all God has done would be an understatement. Sometimes we look around and think, "Can this really be our life?" Over the past few years, the Lord has taught me about the value of seasons. We often fall into two camps: we take our current season for granted because it is truly wonderful, or we loathe our current season and idealize the next one. As you can read in my book, Already ChosenGod has taught me a lot about what it means to walk with Him through seasons of longing.

Throughout this entire journey through infertility and health issues, the Lord has reminded me of the beauty of seasons. Psalm 126 is one that kept coming to mind as I thought about all that we walked through in the last couple years. We are a frail people, and we want to live in seasons of abundance and obvious blessing all the time. But God just doesn't work that way. Seasons are important and vital to God's ways and plans for the earth and for our lives.

Over and over again, the Lord reminded me of the promise in Psalm 126: "Those who sow their tears as seeds will reap a harvest with joyful shouts of glee. They may weep as they go out carrying their seed to sow, but they will return with joyful laughter and shouting with gladness as they bring back armloads of blessing and a harvest overflowing!" You see friends, God works with intentionality and order. He does not leave our lives to chance and luck. He orchestrates every detail of our lives and knows our every longing. He knows when we will be ready for each season. He knows exactly what we need.

We cannot expect to see snow in summer or spring rains in fall. But we can know that God's unchanging love is with us through all seasons. He is our only constant through all of life's ever-changing tides. It is easy for us to desire the ease and happy go lucky emotions that summer usually brings. But the reality is that life ebbs and flows. There are winter seasons full of death and darkness, and they are not without purpose. In fact, they can be the most beautiful of all. And our circumstances, life stages, and God's timing all dictate how we experience various seasons in our lives.

The difficulty we experienced with conceiving marked one of the darkest seasons of our lives. And yet God was still good. We still had a roof over our heads, good jobs, and a loving community of family and friends. But there were days when I didn't want to get out of bed. There were days where I repeatedly hit the "unfollow" button on social media to protect and guard my ever so fragile heart. But underneath the doubt, questioning, and longing, there was a mustard seed of faith. I never wanted to give up on God. I never believed that He wouldn't bless us with a biological child. I just didn't know how long it was going to take. I know that there are many women who have walked through years of infertility who get to a point where they say, "Enough is enough. I can't do this anymore." And in a way, I did get to that point. I didn't want to use ovulation kits anymore. I was tired of charting every symptom and had long since given up taking my temperature every morning. But I wasn't ready to give up hope. Where else would I go and what would I have left if I walked away from Him?

Psalm 34:1,4-5 says, "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth... I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed." During this time, I had to make the difficult choice to praise the Lord when I wanted to curse Him (although I did my fair share of that too). I asked Him to help me love Him and feel His nearness when everything seemed like it was caving in all around me. I didn't experience any tangible feelings of warm fuzzies. But I did have a deep knowing and understanding that I was not alone, even when I felt like completely isolated in my grief and pain. So I clung to the truth that those who place their hope in Him are not full of shame, but rather His light.

My hope was never meant to lie in the fulfillment of my dreams and longings. My joy and happiness are not meant to ebb and flow with the changing tides of each season. Yes, I am pregnant. And that is a good, good gift from my Heavenly Father. But if I were still trying to conceive and hoping for healing, God wouldn't be any less good. The fulfillment of this desire does not mean that my life is now perfect and I never have any problems at all. I still wake up with anxiety on my chest some days. I still cuss sometimes and think jealous thoughts. I still get mad at my husband for no good reason. And there are still things I want and parts of my life that I am not totally happy about.

But God. He's greater than all of my petty and fickle wanderings. He's kind enough to woo me to Him and help me desire Him even when things are (mostly) going well. And He's patient enough to humble me and remind me of my need for Him through all seasons.

If I had gotten pregnant when I wanted to, so many things about our lives would be different. We wouldn't have been able to take in our three kids this summer, and I wouldn't have seen His power and strength made perfect in my weakness. We probably wouldn't have moved to our new house, and we wouldn't be preparing to say yes to fostering again. So I think God knows a thing or two about timing. And it's about time I started trusting Him in the midst of the unknown in each area of my life. He's proven that He's worthy.

Yes, we are reaping a harvest right now. There were tear-stained journal pages and sleepless nights that have brought us to where we are. But I can tell you one thing that I know for sure. My God is faithful and true. He is kind. In my darkest moments, He did not leave me. In my questioning and doubt, He helped me understand that He actually means what He says. And even if I weren't pregnant right now, I could tell with abiding joy in my heart and a lump in my throat that He is good.

Encouraging Resources for Every Season:

Already Chosen: Loving Your Life in the Midst of Longing
Gracelaced: Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the Heart
The Broken Way: A Daring Path to the Abundant Life
Daring to Hope: Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful
Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love

Monday, November 26, 2018

Our Journey to Pregnancy



There are many new things on the horizon right now for the Mathisen family. This summer we were first-time foster parents to three and are opening our home again in January. We sold our first house, bought another and moved in September. And now we are preparing for the arrival of our first biological child! Wow. When God moves, He moves!

I had planned on writing a health update post this fall to inform everyone of how things were going for me post-procedure. It wasn't looking so great (to me at the time), but I thought I was at least headed in the right direction. You see, after my procedure in January, I experienced some relief, but did not get the results I hoped for. I still was experiencing a great deal of pain during my menstrual cycles each month. My specialist in Atlanta who performed the procedure told me that the UFE was completely successful, so any remaining issues could not be coming from the fibroids that had been embolized because they are essentially dead. So according to my symptoms, Rory and I concluded that I most likely have undiagnosed endometriosis. This is a "silent disease," because although 1 in 4 women suffer from this chronic illness in the United States, most people have no idea what it is. You can read more about it here.

In May, I began seeing a naturopathic doctor here in town. Even though my specialist in Atlanta said it wouldn't be an issue for me to get pregnant, we weren't "intentionally" trying. I wanted to try to get my other women's health issues under control and was focused on getting relief first. My naturopath told me that it would take about three months for me to see results from the regimen she gave me, which was monthly visits to her for acupuncture, several supplements, and a diet change that eliminated most of the "fun stuff." I had already modified my diet quite a bit and got even more strict. It wasn't fun, but at this point, I was desperate for any relief I could get.

After a couple months, I didn't see the results I wanted to see and was growing impatient and frustrated. Two of my good friends also suffered from endometriosis in the past and had been to a specialist in ATL for a surgery that I thought I might be a good candidate for. I completed the application to be seen by him and also conversed with their office via email several times. At this point, I figured that it was going to take another surgery for me to find any sort of relief and to increase my chances of being able to have a biological child. The only problem is that the specialist was out of network and very expensive. Rory and I had quite a few "discussions" about it, but I was ready to submit my application after our move to our new house in faith that God would provide and open the door if I was supposed to be treated by this doctor.

In August, right after our kids left, I was crying in our bed, writhing in pain because I still had horrible cramps. I didn't understand why I wasn't getting relief and why I still wasn't able to get pregnant. I was able to control my cramps with ibuprofen that time, but I was not experiencing the grand sweeping changes I had hoped and prayed for for so long.



Fast forward to Labor Day weekend, when I was awaiting the arrival of my period yet again. I was getting antsy because it was late, which is quite rare for me. But I assumed it was because of the supplements I was taking, stress related to our kids leaving, and the upcoming move to our new house. Early that Saturday morning, I got up to go to the bathroom and was feeling a little perturbed. I mean, why wouldn't my dang period come so I could get the worst of it over during the weekend and not have to be miserable at work the next week?

A little nudge told me to take a pregnancy test, and I did so in secret for fear of being embarrassed yet again at a negative result. Much to my surprise, I watched in shock as two pink lines very quickly appeared. What?! That is not what was supposed to happen! I burst into our bedroom and said, "Babe, wake up right now!" Rory is not a morning person at all, so he was quite confused. I tossed the test in front of him and said, "Look at this!" He said, "Is that real?!" I quickly reassured him that it couldn't be real, and we proceeded to Google all of the reasons why one might get a false positive on a pregnancy test, none of which applied to me.

I guzzled some more water so that I could take another test and headed to the bathroom to grab a digital one. If this was real, I needed to be able to see the word "Pregnant" and have no doubts. When I sat down on the bed next to Rory, I handed him the test and said, "I can't look!" and proceeded to cover my eyes. I waited for what felt like forever, and he said, "Holy crap, babe." I looked down, and sure enough, there was the word "Pregnant," clear as day. I immediately started crying and hugged him, and he teared up too. We realized that this was in fact no fluke. We are having a baby!

That day I called my family and got to tell them the happy news, and we were also able to tell Rory's parents in person since they live in town. It felt (and still feels) very surreal. The three-week wait before we could go to the doctor was almost unbearable. I felt like the Lord had assured me that everything was going to be ok and that I would, in fact, carry my baby to full-term, but every now and again (like a few times a day), fear would creep in and I would begin to be overcome with dread and a sense of "This is too good to be true." But then I would reach out to a friend, turn on some praise music, or read Scripture, and my heart was calmed again.

When we went to the doctor, I was extremely relieved to hear our sweet baby's heart beating oh so fast. The ultrasound was so funny, because at that point the baby looked like a little gummy bear! It is incredible to see the way that God knits us together through each stage. Through this time, we have been so grateful for our family and community of friends who have gathered around us to encourage us and pray. The best truly is yet to come!

My Favorite Pregnancy Resources (so far)

Praying Through Your Pregnancy: A Week-by-Week Guide
God's Plan for Pregnancy: From Conception to Childbirth and Beyond

What to Expect When You're Expecting
The Mama Natural Week by Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth
Val Marie Paper Pregnancy Prayer Journal

Images from our sweet friend Bri Moore :)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Dressember: The What and Why




No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:to do what is right, to love mercy,    and to walk humbly with your God.
- Micah 6:8


A few years ago, a friend and I participated in a style challenge called Dressember. The idea behind this challenge was to wear a dress every day during the month of December to raise awareness for the worldwide human trafficking crisis. I participated that year and had fun trying new things with the existing items in my closet. However, I only participated that one year. It didn't really cross my mind again after that. Last week, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. Her guest was Blythe Hill, the founder of Dressember. Listening to how what began as a simple style challenge evolved into a foundation which has raised millions of dollars was fascinating.

Blythe began Dressember to raise awareness for human trafficking, which is a worldwide criminal epidemic. There are more than 30 million people enslaved today, and more than 2 million children are currently exploited in the global commercial sex trade. This issue is lurking within our backyards, and Atlanta is one of the top cities in the world known for human trafficking.

So this year, I am joining the Dressember challenge as an advocate. The plight of victims is especially near to my heart because of two facts:



As a woman and a foster mom, this crisis means something to me. I may not have experienced forced labor, but I know the shame of being taken advantage of. And to think of any our kids who have lived in our home and have to be a part of our lives experiencing this injustice makes me very, very upset. Yes, I love clothes, and it just so happens that I love dresses and am very comfortable in them. But this is about so much more than a dress. This is about raising awareness and money to help victims of heinous acts find new life and recovery. We can make a difference by spreading the word

Friends, will you join me? I have created a new team through the Dressember site, and I would love to have you join me by participating as an advocate or by donating. My fundraising goal is $1,000. I figure that if 9 other people join me, we each can try to raise $100. Simple, right?

I will be posting my outfits each weekday on Instagram. I don't do social media on the weekends, and let's be real, sometimes I don't leave my house on Saturdays. ;) I would be so honored if you would join me!

You can learn more about the Dressember foundation here:

https://www.dressember.org/.

And you can donate or join my team here:

https://dressember-2018.funraise.org/fundraiser/jessica-mathisen.

Let's do big things!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Pregnancy and Baby Mathisen FAQs

Can we take a moment and talk about how adorable Rory's grandpa is?!


The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy! - Psalm 126:3

Well, my friends, the cat is out of the bag. I am pregnant! It is very surreal and we are overjoyed. It has been hard not to talk about it publicly, and last week, I thought I was going to explode! Many of you have followed along with our journey for the last couple years, and we are so grateful for your prayers and your support. It has been a long road, and we are just filled with joy that God answered our prayers and the prayers of so many family members and friends.

I figured it would be fun to answer some questions that people have been asking, and I want to keep a bit of an online journal through this experience so that I can look back and remember the beauty of this sweet miracle.

How did you find out?

Well since we are all adults here, I found out on Labor Day weekend when I didn't get my period as expected. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I will be sharing more about that sweet day in another post coming soon!

When are you due?

I am due on May 5, 2019, which is the day before my birthday! May has always been a special month in our family, because Rory's birthday is on the 20th and my dad's is on the 25th!

How far along are you?

I am in the beginning of my second trimester (15 weeks) and my fourth month! It is crazy how fast it is flying by and I cannot believe that each day brings me closer to meeting sweet baby Mathisen.

How is Rory?

He is over the moon excited, and I can't wait to watch him step into this role. Watching him with our kids this summer was an immense joy, and I know my heart will not be able to handle him with our sweet little one. He is so ready and was born to be a dad!

How are you feeling?

Right now I am feeling really good. For about a month (while we were moving, not the best timing) I was dead tired and also had weird food aversions. My appetite never completely left me but it sure was weird. I craved a ton of red meat and ate lots and lots of burgers, which is not like me at all. I feel great now and have gotten my energy back. It's wonderful!

Will you find out the gender?

Um. Duh. If you know me, you know I am a planner. We actually already know the gender because we chose to do genetic testing, and we will be having a small gender reveal for our family on Thanksgiving Day at our new home!

Have you chosen a name?

We have, and I love it so much. It makes me happy to be able to call the baby by name now in my thoughts and prayers. We will probably keep the name under wraps until the birth, though. We've got to have some element of surprise. :)

Will you continue to foster?

Yes. Fostering was not something we did just because we were walking through infertility and wanted kids in the home. We are called to foster and it is important to us as a family that we continue to commit to that calling regardless of the convenience of the season. We are opening our home again in January and are really excited. Our hope is that we will be able to take in 2 elementary age girls. You can begin praying for them with us now!

Thank you again for how you have walked with us, friends. We are so grateful for the opportunity to share about what God is doing in our lives. To Him be the glory!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Currently: November




It's November! I have to admit that I've already been listening to Christmas music for a while. #sorrynotsorry :)  I am so excited about this time of year and love that the weather has been cooling off and there are lots of fun things ahead. This season is about gathering with those we love and enjoying the simple things. Right now I have been enjoying time at home more than ever before.

Appreciating: Right now I am appreciating the time I got to spend with family this past weekend. I went to visit my sister in North Carolina and we went to see our aunt, uncle, and cousins. It was so fun and it was really good to see them!
Researching:
Posting: I've been teaching more essential oils classes online, so I've been posting some educational tidbits about all things natural wellness!
Getting: I am getting excited about Thanksgiving! We are hosting our families at our new home this year, and I am excited to play hostess.
Cooking: It is soup and chili season and I've been loving the ease that the pressure cooker brings to that process! Lots of veggie chopping around these parts lately.

What are you up to currently?


Linking up with Anne today!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Currently: October

This past week, we said goodbye to our first home! 

October is here! October is my favorite month (other than May, my birth month). I love October because the temps finally begin to subside from sweltering hot. It is also the month I met my sweet husband four years ago! It is the beginning of the end of the year, where we gather with friends and family for holidays, and it just seems special each year. :)

Wearing - Since it is still summer weather here, I am still wearing my summer clothes and dreaming of fall weather that is to come! It would be so wonderful if the cooler temps were not just in the mornings and evenings.
Collecting - I've been trying not to collect much, because we just moved to a new house and we are still purging and getting rid of things we no longer need!
Making - A super yummy new recipe for oatmeal in the morning as recommended by my doctor! It is delicious!
Taking - Lots of time to rest now that we are not in the midst of selling and buying a home! It is wonderful to not have a calendar full of events for October.
Planning - All of the ways to decorate our new home and make it our own! I've been on Pinterest dreaming of lots of fun ways to use what we already have to make it look cute and cozy.

Linking up with Anne today!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Currently: September



Wow, it's September! I am glad that summer is coming to a close and that fall is upon us. Each year we walk through seasons, and for some reason I seem to be surprised with each one. The Lord gave us seasons to mark time, and there is a purpose in each one. But I always seem to be in a hurry to get to the next one. I pray that this fall I can slow down and savor this sweet life He's given me. Here's what's going on currently:

Starting to read more fiction. It is a nice escape for me, and I love getting caught up in others' lives.
Buying groceries that go along with my meal prep plan from Work Week Lunch - it's been a game changer!
Sharing fun home improvement links with the hubs with decor ideas for our new home!
Reading the Lowlands of Scotland series by Liz Curtis Higgs, thanks to a friend who let me borrow them! They are a historical fiction account of the Biblical story of Rachel and Leah.
Recording all the ways that God has been faithful. He's got a great track record, but sometimes (ok all the time) I need reminders of His goodness!

What are you up to currently?

Linking up with Anne today!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

when you're not enough

{via}

A month ago, I wrote about accepting my limitations. I began understanding on a completely new level the desperation of my weakness and need for Jesus in the context of our first experience on our foster care journey. Little did I know that 10 days later, our children would be ripped from our home with an hour's notice. I won't go into the details of everything here, because it's not appropriate or honoring to everyone who is involved. But I will say that day and those that followed were the darkest we have walked through together thus far, and the turbulence of the last few months has been extremely difficult.

It's interesting, because when you're called by God to do something, you're undergirded by a strength not your own. You are given supernatural ability to do things you wouldn't normally do and say things you wouldn't normally say. That's what this summer was for us. Nothing was magical or mystical. Most of the time it wasn't fun at all. It was actually hard work and mostly unseen. But our Heavenly Father, who knows and sees everything, simply guided, held, protected, and loved us as we woke up each morning and chose to do the next right thing.

Looking back, I can see God's merciful hand in every little detail of our situation. I can see how He protected us and our kids and ordained every step. All through the summer, we held on to the truth of seasons. We asked that He help us to do what we could for as long as we could with our kids and to open and close doors as He saw fit. And He did.

So now what? How do we process the intensity of a tumultuous season? Personally, I feel like the last three months are now just beginning to register and manifest in my physiological makeup. When you're in survival mode for a sustained period of time, you don't even realize it. And when the desperate need to just make it through each minute, hour, and day is gone, your body is released to deal with all that just happened. Practically, that means I have been really tired, friends. Like pajamas on when I get home from work and lights out at 9:30 tired. And that's ok.  I've also really wanted to eat a lot of chips and salsa/guac and chocolate, but that's not entirely out of the ordinary.

The temptation is for me to think "I just wasn't enough." That's the lie my heart prefers whenever things in life get too difficult for me to endure - "I'm not enough." And while there is some truth to that - I am not enough for anyone because I am not Jesus - it quickly and easily sinks into a shame fest for me. I begin to mentally covet and compare and compete, and we all know that doesn't lead anywhere that is life-giving.

So here's what I'm trying to do - embrace the fact that I'm not enough. Because while my enemy likes to taunt me with the thought and make me think I am less than, my Savior invites me to rest in Him and boast in my weakness. I read somewhere on Instagram from a fellow foster mama that this thought is kind of the crux of foster care, at least within a Christian context. I am absolutely never going to be enough for any child God decides to place within my home - through childbirth, foster care, or adoption. I will never be enough for my littles who have walked through trauma and have deep wounds. I will never be enough for the biological kiddos I know God is going to give us one day. I will never be enough. And that is ok. Because my Jesus? He is enough.

His outstretched arms on the cross are enough to embrace each one of us, right where we are. His nail-pierced hands are enough to wipe every tear from our eyes. And His resurrection proves that there is absolutely nothing and no one that is too hard, too far gone, or too messed up for Him. Because His love literally brings the dead to life. And knowing that is enough for me to keep saying yes to each step of this crazy wonderful adventure He allows me to live with Him.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Currently: August


It's August, and for many people, today is the first day of school! Our kids started last Friday (what the heck, Jefferson City Schools?!) so summer is over! Womp womp. I hope your summer has been amazing, friend. Our summer has been a whirlwind of crazy and we feel as though we have been drinking from a fire hose. Here's hoping for some calm and peace in the fall! Here's what's going on in our neck of the woods currently.

Following: I have been following lots of fun new foodie accounts on Instagram. The past couple months I've changed my diet considerably and am always looking for more inspiration.
Ordering: When our kids get up at night to go to the bathroom, they turn the light on and leave it on. This girl is a light sleeper so you better believe I just ordered a sleep mask and my husband has given me so much grief about it!
Pinning: I always love the idea of a good DIY, so I am pinning lots of fun DIY projects these days.
Watching: These days I just want something easy and light to watch because real life has enough drama of its own. I have been watching Family Matters some nights just to get a little laugh in before bed.
Counting: Rory and I are taking a beach trip next month for my birthday/anniversary/respite and we could not be more excited and ready, so I am counting down the days!

What are you up to these days?

Linking up with Anne today!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

one day at a time

{via}


It's a humbling realization to learn that you do, in fact, have limitations. When asked how I'm doing these days, the response is usually surface level. There is so much swirling around in my heart and mind that it is hard to pin it down to a simple reply. 72 days ago, three children came to live in our home. And 72 days ago, our lives were turned upside down.

We've known spiritual warfare like never before, cried more tears than I can count, and decided that "one day at a time" would be our mantra from here on out. And some days, it's more like "one hour at a time" or "one minute at a time." For most of my life, I have been able to perform my way to "success." The myth of self-actualization was shattered by our infertility journey last year, and the shards that remained have been shattered yet again as we ride the emotional rollercoaster that is foster care.

I literally do not know how anyone lives life without Jesus. If not for Him, I would have quit hoping for healing. If not for Him, I would not have opened our home to our three littles. If not for Him, I would not be able to love these three littles.

I've read that God always gives us more of Himself and that He doesn't hold back when we come to Him. And I'm beginning to see that this is true. He doesn't withhold from us when what we need is more of Him.

Weakness is something that we do not like in our culture. We like to say that we can "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps" and "keep on keepin' on." But what about the days when you just can't? Not that you don't want to, but you just can't? That's when the strength of God enters in. I've hated my weakness and scolded myself for not being able to have it all together, but I'm laying that down. Turns out that wrestling with God can only last so long before you give in.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to relieve me of this. But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So 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 weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.
- 2 Corinthians 12:8-10, TPT

I confess that in these last couple months, I have done everything but celebrate my weakness. I've hated it, pushed it aside, tried to fix it, and have begged for it to be taken away. But God has said otherwise. A few weeks ago, Holy Spirit whispered to me that if I believe His ways are higher than mine, than I had better get on board with what He's doing instead of kicking and screaming to get my way in my time. Since then, I've thought about how nice it sounds to say that you're going to get on board with what God is doing, but I've still held tightly to my idea of how things should go. And it hasn't gone so well for me, friends. Turns out when you're clenching your fists and hanging on to your ways, your inner sense of peace is shattered. It may look like things are going ok, but everything is held together by a very thin string right now. And you know what? That's ok. Not because it's ok to embrace sin. By no means. But it is ok to not be ok. And it is ok to need help. And it is ok to boast in your weaknesses and fall into the arms of a loving Father who is waiting to embrace you and surround you with His love. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Currently: July



Celebrating:
 Next week we will celebrate our third anniversary! It seems like we have been married for much longer than three years, because we have packed a lot of life into these three years.
Visiting: Right now we are visiting lots of different parks to try to keep the kids active!
Baking: Lots and lots of veggies!
Wearing: I am almost always wearing some combination of essential oils. :)
Loving: The simple joys - clean house (a rarity these days), sleep, fresh flowers.

Linking up with Anne and Shelly today!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Currently: June



Well, a lot has changed since I last wrote! Starting with the fact that I am now a foster mama to three kiddies! While things have been pretty quiet here on the blog and on social media, there are lots of things stirring in my heart, and when I'm ready, don't worry, because I will share them with you, too.

Here's what's going on currently in our world:

traveling: We aren't doing a lot of travel this summer since we have the three littles, but we do have plans to take a beach trip just the two of us later this summer for my 30th birthday (which was last month) and our 3rd anniversary (which is next month).
grilling: The grill hasn't been fired up yet this summer, but I enjoyed some "grilled" salmon kabobs from Zoe's Kitchen the other day! :)
exploring: All. the. parks. We want to keep the kiddos busy on the weekends and are trying to go to all the parks we can!
planting: Seeds of hope. The goal of foster care is always reunification, so we are planting seeds of hope and working toward supporting the kiddies and their mama in that.
playing: Lots of board games! So many friends sent us lovely things from our registry and we are playing all the things!

What are you up to currently?

Linking up with Anne and Sarah today!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Currently: May


Wow! May has gotten off to a great start! I love May because it is a month of celebrations. My birthday as well as my husband's and my dad's are in May. Plus it is finally spring, and with it consistently warm weather! I just love this month. Here's what's going on currently:

celebrating: I am celebrating the release of my first full length book! It released yesterday on Amazon and I am pretty pumped about it. Yesterday it reached #1 in the new releases for the subcategory "Christian marriage" and that made me wildly happy. :)
creating: I am creating lots of yummy things in the kitchen. Ok, so maybe creating would be a stretch of a word, but I am loving the recipes from this week's plan through Prep Dish.
wearing: With this incredibly warm weather, I am living in dresses and loving the comfort they bring.
sharing: All about my new book! And also the fact that we are finally approved as foster parents!
going: This weekend, I am going to turn 30! Eek! It is actually really exciting to me and I can't wait to enter into this fun new decade.

What are you up to currently?

Linking up with Anne and Carrie today!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

ALREADY CHOSEN BOOK RELEASE DAY!





Today is the day!

I am so excited because today my first full length book, Already Chosen: Loving Your Life in the Midst of Longing releases!

This is my story of waiting and waiting for what I hoped would fulfill me and the journey to joy. I pray it encourages you in the midst of your wait, no matter what you may be waiting on. This book was a labor of love, and I hope you grab a copy for you and a friend!

You can purchase Already Chosen on Amazon as a paperback and Kindle version.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Already Chosen

The time is here, friends! We are less than one week away from my book's release. Already Chosen: Loving Your Life in the Midst of Longing will release on Tuesday, May 1 on Amazon as a Kindle and paperback book. I cannot wait until it is in your hands! Here's a little video that tells you more about my heart behind the book:

Friday, April 6, 2018

Gold and Bloom Spring Floral Workshop



"I must have flowers, always and always." - Claude Monet

A couple weeks ago, I had the immense pleasure of being a part of the spring floral workshop hosted by my friend Jenna of Gold and Bloom. Jenna is a longtime blogger friend that I finally had the opportunity to meet in real life! She and I are both former teachers, and fun fact, we share the same birthday! It was a joy to meet her in person and to glean from all of her floral expertise. 

This workshop was such a gift to me. I love flowers so much and always have. They are like God's way of smiling and reminding me of the sweet things in this world. I wanted to learn about how to arrange flowers and make them look beautiful in order to place them in our home and also to give as gifts! What a wonderful day it was. If you're in the Atlanta area, or if you are in driving distance, I highly recommend taking part in one of Jenna's workshops. She is the best and you will have so much fun!








First, Jenna showed us how to forage through our everyday surroundings to find fun plants that could form the base of our arrangement. We went through her backyard to find all kinds of treasures!





Then, Jenna showed us how to begin by helping us understand how to form the shape of the arrangement. 




After that, we got to choose flowers for our own arrangements!




I confess I was nervous and had no idea where to begin, but then it all came together!







I'm so grateful for this special day, and now I feel comfortable playing with flowers and making arrangements of my own! 

All images courtesy of the wonderfully talented Abigail of Abigail Malone Photography!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Currently: April

The most beautiful sunrise on Easter Sunday.

It is April, and the showers have come! I am so very glad that winter is behind us and am enjoying this lovely weather that is spring! Anyone else?! Here's what's going on currently:

Showering: It seems like there is a baby or bridal shower on my calendar every few weeks, and I am enjoying celebrating new life and new seasons.
Cultivating: In the next couple weeks I will begin tending to my garden and will be cultivating the soil that I've allowed to lay fallow for the winter. I'm definitely going to take it easy this year and try to grow a few things well instead of kind of sort of grow a bunch of things. :)
Expecting: We are hoping to get approved as foster parents by the end of this month! It has seemed like the longest road and we are ready to be done waiting.
Making: I am making lots of things at home because we are cleaning up our diet. Cooking is a stress reliever for me, so that is fun.
Buying: Lots and lots of books! I've been reading so much lately.

What are you up to currently?

Linking up with Anne and Jessica today!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Happy 30th Birthday, Teresa!



Today, I am so excited to celebrate the THIRTIETH birthday of my best friend! Technically it is tomorrow, but I'm celebrating early. Technically it's been her birthday week, right?! It's a special day in my book, because Teresa is one of my dearest friends and has been for over ten years. We've seen each other through a lot of seasons and I am so so grateful for her. Here's thirty reasons why she's incredible!


  1. She is beautiful, inside and out. She has a heart of gold. :)
  2. Her work ethic is incredible.
  3. She is super organized and systematic. 
  4. She was my matron of honor. 
  5. We have been friends since our junior year in high school. 
  6. She is an incredibly inquisitive person. 
  7. Her heart is always to help others be the best they can be. 
  8. She's a reader, too, so we always share book recommendations with one another. 
  9. She is just about as loyal as you can get. 
  10. Her faith is her bedrock. 
  11. She challenges herself by listening and learning from others. 
  12. She is one of the best listeners I know. 
  13. She's not afraid to ask hard questions. 
  14. Her commitment to her community and her town is pretty neat.
  15. Cilantro is her enemy and she is not afraid to tell you so. 
  16. But speaking of Mexican food, our love for Mexican food is unrivaled and unmatched.
  17. She loves The Sound of Music which means she's a pretty good person in my book.
  18. I jokingly called her and her husband Barbie and Ken for a while. :)
  19. Her son is THE CUTEST.
  20. She is thoughtful and intentional.
  21. If you're in her life, you're going to know you're loved.
  22. She is never without lipgloss. 
  23. Gilmore Girls is her favorite show of literally all time. 
  24. She's also a loyal Downton Abbey fan.
  25. We went to a Keith Urban concert together (was it twice?!).
  26. She had car troubles on the way to my bridal luncheon and didn't want to tell me because she's just that nice.
  27. We shared an Airbnb together for our trip out to Seattle last year and it was quite lovely. 
  28. We are both older siblings and are pretty stereotypical models of that role. :)
  29. Her smile is gorgeous.
  30. Her nails are always manicured. :) 
Happy birthday, Teresa! I love you!!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Currently: March



It's March! Wow I can hardly believe that March is here, but I feel like a broken record because I say that with every month that comes. :) I am looking forward to this month and am so grateful for the lovely weather we've had after so much rain. Spring is coming and I couldn't be more excited about it. Although I've lived in Georgia long enough to know that we aren't out of the woods yet with cold weather! Here's what's going on currently, friends.

Planning: Rory and I are taking a "fostermoon" in a couple weeks and I just cannot wait! We are planning fun things to do on our little getaway.
Seeking: I am seeking out people to fill out my advisory council for the ministry I'm starting. It's a big undertaking but it is super exciting to anticipate all that God will do.
Making: Right now Ror and I are pretty obsessed with avocado toast for breakfast. It just hits the spot!
Pretending: I am pretending that I am in The Greatest Showman! I've seen it twice and I just love it so much. 
Wearing: All the essential oils. With flu season still in full swing I have been oiling it up so that I stay well, and so far, so good!

Linking up with Anne today!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Restoration Women




Ok friends. I have some big news to share with you and I am super pumped about it! This is something that has been on my heart for quite some time and something that the Lord has been stirring in my heart for a while, and I am really looking forward to seeing all that He does. The bottom line is that I'm starting a women's ministry. Keep reading if you want to know more about this ministry. :)

When I left teaching in the spring of 2016, I was all kinds of torn up inside but knew that I was taking a step of faith and obedience. In the past year and a half, God has made it clear that I am where I am supposed to be at Watkinsville First Baptist. This year will mark ten years that I have had the privilege of being a part of my sweet church family and two years that I have had the honor of being on staff. It has been an immense joy and an incredible learning experience, and I hope to be on staff there for a very long time.

While I love my job at WFBC, I was torn to leave teaching, and more specifically, Downtown Academy. Downtown Academy is a very special place, and that's putting it lightly and not really doing it justice. This school is a bright spot in the lives of children and families all throughout the Athens community. Not only do the staff at Downtown Academy provide an excellent education for inner-city kids, they also love them in ways beyond what most "normal" teachers or school staff do.

During my time at Downtown Academy, I fell in love. Yes, I met Rory during my first year teaching there, but I'm talking about another love of my life. I fell in love with the kids I had the joy of teaching, but I also fell in love with their families, especially their mamas. When conference time came, I loved getting to know the mamas of the sweet babies I had the privilege of teaching each day. Some coworkers and I often said, "You know, we should do a Bible study with the moms and spend more time with them. They're so fun!" We had good intentions but no plan to back it up, and you know what they say about good intentions.

Fast forward to when I knew I would be leaving the school to work at WFBC, and I kept saying to Rory, "I love this ministry so much. I know we will always be a part of it and I want to be a part of it in some way for as long as we live in Athens." The burden on my heart for the mamas just continued to grow, and it never really went away.

Fast forward again to fall 2017. One evening, I went to a Lifeway Bible journaling event with some girls from our small group, and we met an incredible lady there who would change my life! The lady who taught us to use craft materials to meet with the Lord through Bible journaling "just so happens" to have a ministry in Monroe where she works with women who live in a mobile home park. She does Bible study with them but also works with them on job and life skills to help them find freedom and independence. Once I heard her share about it, I just knew I had to know more. She told me that her ministry is a local site of a national organization called Christian Women's Job Corps and that anyone can start one. Well, my interest was piqued to say the least!

I came home that night and told Rory, "This is it. This is the answer to my prayers. This is what we will do with the mamas at DTA." I pretty much stalked Ms. Pam and found her email online, and we met a couple days later at a McDonald's and talked for almost two hours. It "just so happens" that there was a national training just six weeks later in Dallas, TX. I went to my old boss at Downtown Academy, and he said, "You know, this may be just what we have been praying for. We want to serve the whole family." That was all the confirmation I needed to fan the flame that was burning within my heart. I took a couple weeks to continue to do research, learn all that I could about the organization, read, and then went to my bosses at work to ask about their insight. They loved the idea and were so encouraged by the foundation already laid by the 20 years that CWJC has been active throughout the United States.

Friends, after that initial meeting with my bosses, I was on a plane about a month later to Dallas, TX. I spent the week learning about everything there is to know about CWJC and then some. I confess to you that it was incredibly overwhelming and at times exhausting. There is so much to learn, and I've got a lot of work ahead of me. But wow am I excited.

After returning home, I had a lot of processing to do, and things got busy as I fell back into the routine of life here (and got overwhelmed by the big task ahead of me!). But in the next couple months, I was able to speak with our executive director of Downtown Ministries and then with the board of directors, who then took it to the leadership at Redeemer Presbyterian Church (where Downtown Academy meets) and it was officially approved!

So. I know that was A LOT. But the non-negotiable of any CWJC site are this: Bible study and a relationship with a journey partner who can encourage you along the way. The vision is to see women helping women and finding freedom through the power of God's word and transformational friendships. I could not be more excited.

The launch date is January 2019, and I am working to take all the steps necessary to check all the boxes that have to be checked before then. If you want to be a part of my prayer team for this ministry, please let me know! I need people who are willing to pray for the ministry.

I am continuing to work to meet with people and share the vision of CWJC with them. My goal is to have the advisory council members in place within the next couple months and to be able to use the summer months to complete the needs assessment of our community and make a plan for recruiting volunteers and training them. Then in the fall, the big focus will be on recruiting participants and intaking them.

For the last few months I have been praying through a name for the ministry and was feeling kind of frustrated with my lack of “inspiration.” Yesterday, I was reading in Isaiah 58, and it finally came to me!

The whole chapter really spoke to me, but these verses (11-12) specifically are the inspiration behind the name the Lord gave to me:

And the Lord will guide you continually
    and satisfy your desire in scorched places
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters do not fail.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to dwell in.

I want the women who come through the program to be restored to who they were made to be in Christ and in turn be restorers within their families and communities. The name the Lord gave me is: Restoration Women.

Friends, I am so very excited about this ministry and know that the Lord has laid it upon my heart for such a time as this. If you are at all interested or want more information, I would love to talk with you about it. Don't hesitate to reach out. If you made it to the end of this post, thank you! I cherish your support and kindness.

Monday, February 19, 2018

February Goals

{via}


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


{via}

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. :)

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