How to Not Drown in Your Crappies

fall-1Samuel is napping while I fluff up our home with festive touches of fall and consider the season of Thanksgiving that’s approaching. I don’t know about you but I often fight gratitude with reasons. With cold hard facts and cruel reality. I have my reasons for being bitter and resentful and unhappy.. Don’t we all? Life can be a real beat down. But I’m learning that truly being grateful for my life isn’t just giving thanks that my “happies” outnumber my “crappies” – it’s often a fight for the right priorities. What things, of all the list of happies and crappies really matters? Long term. Big picture. Eternal perspective. That shift in focusing on priorities helps me so much when I’m struggling to be grateful. It also helps when I remember that I’m not supposed to endure crappies all by myself.

Listen to me – You will drown in your crappies if you’re trying to go it alone.

Here’s what you do to avoid drowning:

1. Get to know God. Study Jesus. – This sounds so “woo woo wacko” if you’re not someone who thinks about or cares much about who God is or isn’t. It also may sound like 2 steps but they’re one in the same. This is a crucial step. Why? Well, if for no other reason than you were made in His image. He put you together so if you have beef with Him or questions about stuff that’s true of you/been done to you/you’ve done to others – start the conversation by pursuing Him. *Spoiler alert – He’s already and always pursuing you. So, you’re about 15…20… FOREVER years behind. It’s OK though, totally worth jumping in and getting to it. I recommend picking up a Bible and reading the book of John – it’s in the New Testament, 4th book down if you’re looking at the Table of Contents.

The more you learn about God, the more you understand about yourself. I do this by reading the Bible on a regular basis, praying, and talking to other people about just about anything from God to parenting to careers to hobbies etc. Which leads me to my second tip to avoid drowning in your own crappies

2. Let yourself be known by other people. – Full disclosre: I’m bad at this. All of my closest friends (spouse included) will tell you I’m bad at this. I have a tendency to hide behind all of my happies, sweep the crappies under the rug until they explode and then it’s like a shitstorm. Pardon my french but it’s a quite accurate metaphor is it not? When you let other people know when you’re hurt, angry, lonely, scared, or confused you may be amazed to discover they still love you any way. EVEN ALL OF YOUR CRAPPIES. Use caution with who you let into your shitstorm though because it ain’t a pretty place and you need the real troopers who will wade in and pull you out without feeling the need to pinch their nose.

fall-2So if you’re like me and you’re so super excited about Fall and PSL and OMG CRUNCHY LEAVES but you’re kind of feeling a little (or a lot) like you’re drowning in crappies, it may behoove you to dive into the aforementioned steps and see what happens. Maybe by the time Thanksgiving rolls around you will be able to lift your glass at the obligatory “thankful toast” and experience in your heart – real and abiding gratitude for the life you’re living right now.

Googling & Talking to Yourself and other stuff I want to tell new & expecting mamas

I’m still a new mom. My son isn’t even half a year old yet so me writing to all the


future new moms out there seems a little ridiculous, I’ll be the first to admit that. But at church on Sunday John and I had a friend ask us what it was like to be new parents – we told him the usual, “It’s hard but worth it etc.” but I really wanted to find his wife who was only a few months pregnant and sit down with her and share a few things. Maybe I feel compelled to share with you now because I’m not so far removed from it so I don’t really have the luxury of sugar-coating my experience thus far.

Isn't he TOTES ADORBS?! #hangry

Isn’t he TOTES ADORBS?! #hangry

I want to share with you (new mama and soon-to-be mama) some mistakes I’ve made and lessons I’m currently learning as a mom who is only a few small steps ahead of you. You could even say I’m just a few BABY STEPS ahead of you. Get it?! HA!  I need more sleep, I know. I KNOW.

1. Google with caution – Trust me on this. When your child gets his first cold, the internet will convince you it’s whooping cough and he’s in grave danger of hyperventilating. Even if he isn’t coughing – you’ll find yourself sort of gravitating towards the dramatic options because your brain is now attempting to  anticipate every need of your child. It’s exhausting. I still haven’t quite figured out how to control my “worst case scenario” reflex as a new mom. Lots of prayer (see point #3).
2. Create a “Mama Bullpen” – Bascially, your bullpen is full of other mamas who you know are going to shoot straight with you, who are for you as a mama (and as a human being of value, sometimes we forget we’re more than a butt-wiper at this stage), whose advice you can take without feeling judged, and can make you laugh when you feel like giving up. Make the bullpen a diverse one if you can – moms of littles and bigs, nursing moms and formula moms, cloth diaper moms, chicken nugget moms, organic moms, stay at home and work at home moms, just find them and put them on speed dial.
These are the moms you text during crisis. The moms you chat with or grab lunch with between naps because seeing them is life-giving and hearing from them reminds you that you aren’t crazy and you CAN do this. The bullpen idea came from some discipleship sermon John heard about creating a bullpen of mentors who could help you with various issues in life or something. I don’t know. I just love telling you to create a “Mama bullpen” because oh the imagery! Am I right? Go find your bull mamas. I would be lost without mine or out to pasture, as it were. HAHA! Ok I’ll stop.
Showing Samuel how to pray. OBVIOUSLY. #holymama

Showing Samuel how to pray. OBVIOUSLY. #holymama

3. Pray all the time – This sort of happens naturally because the moment you hear your child announce himself into the world you think, “Oh God. That’s mine. What am I doing?” If you have a personal relationship with God then it’s like starting the longest and greatest conversation with Him. If you don’t have a personal relationship with Him, let me just encourage you to think about it. The gospel of Jesus sets you free. It doesn’t mean you won’t screw up, just that when you do, you’ll have the Living God to hold onto and move forward with. It’s mind-blowing.

4. Monitor your inner dialogue – As a woman you know what I’m talking about when I say “inner dialogue.” It’s that never-ending conversation you have with yourself. Sometimes that conversation turns into imaginary conversations that you have out loud with your loofa or steering wheel, but either way, you’re talking to yourself. Listen to what you are telling yourself and be very very careful.
This is all new. ALL of it. This person that you’re holding in your arms with the squiggly eyes and chubby limbs (or gangly limbs if you’re my kid 😉 ) is brand new to the entire world. The world doesn’t know him and he doesn’t know the world. Guess who gets tasked with facilitating the long introduction between the two? That’s right, mama. You. It feels too big and too great for you to handle and it is. So you have GOT to remember to give yourself grace.
Let me just say that grace feels painfully absent in the middle of the night when you’ve slept 2 hours in the past 8 and your kid is crawling all over you crying about only God knows what (seriously). Your body and soul take a beating those first few months – acknowledge that. Being honest is the best avenue to really healing. Again, I’m still learning this. I have a lot to process from Samuel’s birth and am still processing this whole mothering thing.
But start that positive, moving-forward conversation with yourself. Here’s a glimpse into mine when Samuel was 2-3 weeks old, “This is unbelievable. He hasn’t slept for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Are you kidding me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME. Man. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Get out of bed and go get him, Rachel. He needs you. One foot in front of the other. Yep. You’re doing it. You’re getting it done. One foot in front of the other.” So it’s not the next Agatha Christie novel but you know what? It’s also not beating myself up and feeding lies.
Lies become more and more believable when we give them a platform to stand on in our minds. KNOCK ‘EM DOWN, SISTER. If the lies have grown so big that you can’t see past them — see point #2. Call on your bull mamas to help knock them down for you. Melt down, yell, cry – but let someone else know that you’re doing it.  Too many solo breakdowns can lead you to believe that you’re alone and nobody cares about how hard it is and how hard you’re working and trying and guessing and praying.
Case in point? Last week I called one of my bull mamas. She answered with, “Hey. Is everyone ok?” (she’s usually someone I text so a phone call is normally a sign of SOS/911 stuff) And I responded with, “No. I’m not.” and proceeded to sniffle and snort my way through my strange emotions with her. I got off the phone and felt like I wasn’t crazy. My heart didn’t feel as heavy and my life didn’t appear so impossible. But if I had continued to listen to the lies that I was worthless, ill-equipped, unloved, and isolated I wouldn’t be in a place to write this blog now would I?
There aren't enough words to describe my love for you, kid.

There aren’t enough words to describe my love for you, kid.

Moral of the story is, you aren’t supermom. You are your child’s mom. Your child needs you desperately – warts and all. You will mess up. You will slip and fall while caring for them both literally and figuratively if you’re lucky like me. You are perfect for this job. If nobody else is telling you – I will! And I hereby grant you the freedom to indulge yourself in truth, good people, prayer and caffeinated beverages. Never ever be afraid to ask for a caffeinated beverage.

New Mom Life: An Update From the Trenches

Well, let’s be honest. I’ve never been a consistent blogger since I began this endeavor over 5 years ago. BUT! From now on I will shamelessly abuse the “new mom” card and my son will absorb all the blame for his mother’s lack of discipline. I carried him around for 9 months, birthed him, etc etc.. so this is a small favor on his part.

Our little prince. :)

Our happy little prince. 🙂

Life as a new mom is now just life as I know it. On a personal level I feel like my emotions have been tossed in a blender on an almost hourly basis. This has improved (thankfully!) but the first two weeks I was certain I couldn’t look at my child without tearing up and swallowing a lump in my throat to keep from uncontrollable sobbing. Which  would still happen anyway. On several occasions John would come home and find me sniveling all over our precious son while he slept next to me. He stopped asking, “What’s wrong?” and just patiently listened to me tell him how much I love our son or how undeserved a gift he is or thinking of all the children in the world who don’t have anyone who feels this way about them or whatever thought left me in such shambles.

I’ve encountered new physical limits in myself during this period too. Before Samuel entered the picture, I was utterly convinced that I would not be able to function like a normal human being on less than 8 hours of sleep. I was dumbfounded when I thought of how other moms had done it — little to no sleep at night? What the? NO. That can’t happen.

And then Samuel arrived and VOILA! Up at all hours of the night, surviving on 4 hours combined of sleep that was acquired between about 2,038 nighttime feedings/fussy periods (also – I’ve earned the right to exaggerate when it comes to what happens in the night. If I say he wailed like the last samurai hollering his final battle cry for FOREVER… it happened. End of story.)

Weirdly enough, the NOT working out has been pretty taxing on me too. Yesterday John and I toured our local YMCA (healthy living with built-in childcare for the WIN!) and when I saw the empty group exercise rooms I felt the niggling desire to just straight up bust a MOVE across the floor. Everyone say a prayer for my Zumba teacher — she has no idea what’s about to walk into her classroom in a few weeks. Anyways — not being able to lift a certain amount or being able to run or dance has been eating away at me and I am looking forward to the day where I can get back out there and reclaim my strength and endurance.

In addition to pushing myself harder than I thought possible in terms of physical strain, I have also learned how desperately I need other people to not lose my mind. Not just for the newborn stage of life either. I’m an extrovert who occasionally enjoys alone time but for the most part I need people. And I’m not just talking about needing people to bring food and change diapers and rock babies (though that has been SUCH a blessing). I need conversation and insight and relationship and laughing til I cry and words prayed over and for and from me. When John went back to work during Samuel’s second week here and my mom hopped on a plane and headed back to the East Coast, I knew I needed reinforcements like WHOA. I sent a SOS email and my people answered.  I’m here to tell you, I have the best people. From giving me iced mochas or a chance to leave the house or take a shower or sneak in an afternoon nap or flying from VA just to spend a long weekend with me — they have been my lifeline. You know what they say, “It takes a village to raise a child and keep his mother from pulling all of her hair out while talking to the lamps.” Or something like that.

Now that Samuel is here and I can’t imagine my world without him, all of the craziness of the 24 hour labor experience seems to grow dimmer (a blessed side effect of passing time, thank you Lord) but I know it’s changed me permanently. Not just the scar on my abdomen but the new, deep place I entered with the Lord while I stared at bright lights overhead in a bustling operating room with my best friend sitting next to me, tears in his eyes but a sweet resolve to be strong for me when I needed him. It was there that I realized the shield of faith was made for scary places. It became a refuge and a fortress. I hid beneath the promises of Psalm 23, my exhausted mind only able to hold onto those first familiar five words, “The Lord is my shepherd.” That’s all I could remember and that’s all I needed.

Being a new mom has provided so many opportunities for me to experience the real presence of the Holy Spirit. My time spent in the Word has been woefully nonexistent while my prayer life has taken off like a rocket (usually between the hours of 1a – 5am). A sweet friend told me that my prayer life is “the heartbeat of motherhood” and I’ve seen that so much! I can’t even begin to imagine what it will look like as Samuel grows older (preschool? flu season? potty training? first crushes? prom night? OMG COLLEGE… MARRIAGE…IT’S TOO MUCH).

Safe in daddy's arms.

Safe in daddy’s arms.

Overall, we have survived on the generosity and company of other people. I am slowly growing more confident in my role as a mom. I’m taking the time to celebrate little victories — like pumping enough milk for other people to feed Samuel, getting a 2 hour workday in, and any time I get to hang out with John is always a WIN. Thank you to everyone who has shown care or given encouragement to us during this time of life. It’s unlike anything we’ve experienced and we’re happily growing accustomed to this new normal as a family of three.

Soil and strollers and a God who makes it all work.

Its 6:40pm on Monday night and the mailman rings the doorbell. I open the door, expecting to see another Amazon box filled with cliff bars or theology books (welcome to my world) and instead I find a USPS box addressed by dear friends in New York.
I rip open the package and almost immediately find myself swallowing sobs and smiling like an elf on
Mustache pacifier, y'all. I LOVE IT!

Mustache pacifier, y’all. I LOVE IT!

Christmas: little boy onesies and a myriad of baby accessories spill onto the kitchen counter as I fish in the box for the little envelope knocking around. I read the words of our dear friends sharing in our excitement and I cry harder because these people are so precious to us. They’re cheering for us and praying for us and believing for us that God will make all of the unknowns of first-time parenthood, surmountable and doable. The timing of this package couldn’t be more perfect.

The day before, my pastor had preached on a parable that addressed how our hearts receive the Word of God (Luke 8:4-15). One response to the hearing of God’s Word is to accept and begin to grow in faith but then have your growth and maturity stunted by all the cares and riches and pleasures of the life happening all around you. Basically, life gets in the way of your faith. Or rather — life convinces you that your faith in God cannot possibly satisfy, provide, protect, or sustain you.  As I took notes, I heard a soft voice ask, “Do you care more that I am real and present?… Or about what you’re gonna put on your baby registry?”
I swallowed. Hard. Because He never asks questions to be vindictive or spiteful, He always asks questions to guide and direct (and re-direct) me to Himself. Lately, I’ve been pretty overwhelmed by all the millions of details that have to fall into place for baby’s arrival or oh my gosh he’ll be sleeping in a cardboard box and ALL OF THIS IS GONNA BE A TRAIN WRECK.
Also, hormones are a thing during pregnancy.
I confessed my anxiety and asked for a heart that was willing to be brave and believe. I want a faith that scorns the thorns and digs deep into the promises of God. A thorn-scornin’ faith. How’s THAT for a song title?
Anyways, I have a sneaking suspicion/affirmation from dozens of mothers that this worry over your child is one that needs to be constantly placed back at the feet of Jesus. If we’re not careful, we will be lured into the chokehold of worry or lust or greed or whatever idol Satan slides into the weak parts of our heart. 
I’m realizing if I continue to operate out of a place of fear, I’m gonna miss some pretty special fruit. I’m gonna fuss over all the this-and-thats of preparing for my son and forget to enjoy the fact that he’s been given to me and John as a gift.
My face says it all. This is how I feel about being halfway through my pregnancy. ;)

My face says it all. This is how I feel about being halfway through my pregnancy. 😉

My Heavenly Father longs to help me become an earthly mama. Imagine! The Creator of my little boy longs to commune with me, and guide me through this next chapter. And here I am, eyes glazed over as I scroll through endless websites filled with innumerable varieties of car seats and strollers and cribs etc. Missing it… missing HIM.

I’m still going to do my best to prepare well for this little rascal. I’ll still read articles and seek advice and by golly we WILL get a baby registry together! But I need to do some thorn-scornin’ work in my own heart first. Beginning with the lie that I have to figure all of this out on my own and I better do it perfectly OR ALL IS LOST.
Literally, 12 hours after realizing my need to surrender control over all of this STUFF I received texts from two different people offering a variety of helpful baby gear I could borrow/have and then BAM! a package of faith-building love lands on my doorstep. So I may be all weepy over a bunch of onesies (to be expected) but I’m also sowing new seeds into good soil for this season.
This isn’t to say I’ll never worry again, but rather by the grace of God, I will be quicker to remove myself from the chokehold of worry and slip into the open arms of a God who gives courage to the weak-kneed expectant mother and offers perspective in the face of an ever-growing to-do list.
What about you, reader? Are there thorns in your heart that are choking out your faith? How can you begin the process of breaking free from their grasp?
It’s time to get our hands dirty in some serious thorn-scornin’ work, y’all.

The Best Parts of Life


Last night we said goodbye to close friends we’ve walked through life with over the past several years. For John, he was saying goodbye to someone he’s been in community with for 10 years. And that’s hard.

After all the festivities of the goodbye celebration and putting away all the leftovers of their fridge into ours (what are good friends for right?), John and I sat on our patio to soak up the remainder of the unusually cool evening. It’s in moments like these when the pain that’s been throbbing in the back of your heart finally gets the attention it’s been craving. When life grows quiet we naturally find ourselves looking on the inside and assessing how we’re really doing.

We had sent our friends off with absolutely zero question in their minds of how much we loved them and are so thrilled for their new adventure. Our appreciation for them has grown from a place of countless gatherings, many tears as we stood by them during deep and dark waters of grief, and hours of laughter and encouragement. As I was processing this transition with John last night I recognized in me this compulsion to push aside the feelings of pain welling up in my heart and force myself to think of all the ways this move is wonderful and God-honoring etc.

I am a stubborn optimist but sometimes I can’t get out of my own way and just grieve. I struggle to let myself sit in the reality that I can’t pop in for a visit or spontaneously spend a Friday night with them anymore. It hurts to go there, you know? To let yourself think about it.

I’m learning that there really is no reason to be unnecessarily brave when your heart is breaking. Let it break. And over time, watch as it fills up with an appreciation for your life and the people in it that wasn’t there before. 

As a Virginia girl falling in love with the Lonestar State, as a sister embracing the role of “crazy aunt Rachel in TX” , as a friend learning to make sporadic emails and phone calls count for something, I am amazed at the resiliency of relationships. All of our hearts are so fragile and yet we willingly enter into each other’s lives because we need each other. All of those ugly cries in the car and quiet streaming tears on the back patio, are proof that you have chosen to invest yourself in something more important than your own happiness. Love is a beautiful, difficult giving away of yourself.

I have become too familiar with the throbbing pulse of “I hate this” in my throat as I enter into each new chapter of sending/ leaving/missing. Yet I have also experienced the balm of genuine friendship, laughed until I cried, held a brand-new human being and carried loved ones in prayer through those chapters. New chapters have always lead me to new loved ones because God is in the business of making sure we share what He has given us. The more of myself I have given away, the more I have experienced the best parts of life.

Last night I scooped up my rambunctious 3-year-old godson for the last time for a long time, planted a big kiss on his cheek and said, “Buddy? Do you know that I love you?” “Yes!” he responded, with joy sparkling in his eyes, “And I love you too!” As I watched him run off to play, I let my heart break. I admitted to myself that this was hard but I realized I didn’t regret one moment I spent loving that little booger or his family.

Love has a funny way of filling us up even as we pour ourselves out.


“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  – 1 Corinthians 13:7


Change: An Opportunity for Worship

Exciting things happen when your life changes. I remember when I discovered I had met the guy I wanted to share the rest of my life with. The realization both thrilled and terrified me. I remember that feeling when I watched my parents drive away as I stood outside my college freshmen dorm. I felt new freedom and a profound loneliness.

The nature of change is that it creates new limits, it brings new character to the surface. We reach new heights and taste deeper disappointments when life changes. Without change, where would be our milestones? When would we celebrate? Why would we celebrate?

And yet, lets be real. I despise change. My knuckles tighten on the known and my heart begins to pound and tremble as it is slowly broken open to reveal a different story than the one I had imagined. Change is also often shrouded in tears, whether happy or sad or fearful. This seems so appropriate to me because change puts heavy stress on the heart. Not necessarily in the “watch your blood pressure” kind-of-stress. It’s the “you can’t contain this moment” kind-of-stress. So, your heart breaks with joy, or sorrow, or pain, or relief. And the tears spill down your cheeks.

I spent a few minutes home alone this afternoon having imaginary conversations with some dear friends who graduated from seminary today. I tried telling them how much I loved them and specific ways I had been inspired and blessed by them. Every single one of those conversations faded into a blubbering nose-blowing Rachel and I got frustrated. Until I realized that maybe it was ok to just cry. To stand before my friends say, “THANK.YOU.” and collapse into a puddle of tears. Because that’s how I feel. That deep, abiding, aching, unapologetic love for those people. It’s a GIFT.

Even change that comes from loss or hardship becomes a building block in our lives. We look back on it and think, “That was hard… but my life didn’t stop there. I’m a different person because of that experience. Good, bad, or indifferent, that has shaped me.”

So, for better or worse, change is here to stay. People will move to different cities, lives will be transformed, hearts will break, babies will be born, loved ones will pass away, memories will be made, and it probably won’t look anything like what you expected. But it will be right. Because your life is not a mistake, friends. No joy you’ve ever celebrated or pain you’ve ever grieved is wasted. Take time to remember the changes in your life. Mark in your hearts the times where you encountered a crossroad and made big decisions, when you achieved great accomplishments or encountered crushing disappointment. And I invite you to turn it all into worship.

Worship the One real thing in this world that will never ever ever ever ever change. Worship God with a wide open heart. If you haven’t let Him in yet, friends… Would you? He is knowable. He carries you through every change with the same hands that formed the stars and the deserts and the oceans. He has scripted your future, He is not surprised by your past. He sent His Son to be slaughtered for you, so that you could have a chance to change. Not so that you could be a “better person” but rather to set you free. He did it for anyone who would believe that He really does love us that much. He deserves all power and honor and glory and yet He still wants you.

Yes, He will change you. No, it isn’t always easy. But when your circumstances change, you will always have a Rock on which to stand. And your overwhelmed heart will always find refuge in His unchangingness. That’s where I went this afternoon – straight to my Heavenly Father. In worship. And before I knew what had happened my tears of sadness turned to gratitude. For He is good, even when life is hard. And that will be the same today, tomorrow, 2 weeks from now, 10 months from now, 38 years from now and throughout all eternity.




We piled into one Honda civic; all five of us happily squished and feeling like we were back in college as we made our way to a favorite restaurant in Dallas. We chatted about nothing and everything and eventually made it though the perilous pot-holes despite our self-proclaimed “terrible” driver who was an angel for not losing her mind while we told her to turn into an alleyway as wide as a ball-point pen and “oops make a U-turn” etc. She’s fearless and not at all terrible, unlike yours truly who loses all hope for mankind when she’s behind a steering wheel.

When we arrived we were told it would be a 45-minute wait, which is only OK because their Chicken Cobb Salad is the closest thing to perfection. As we waited outside I got someone to take our group photo (because I’m *that* lady, minus the fanny pack) and we continued chit-chatting while reading a billboard about mosquitoes and the West Nile Virus. It was fabulous but eventually we were swayed by the doomsday billboard to retreat indoors where we would be out of reach from the disease-spreading ankle-biters.

Once we finally sat down at our table and ordered our individual plates of perfection, something awesome happened.

It began with one girl talking about her life, and then our future plans came into the conversation and sprinkled into all of this was an open admission to our fears and imperfections and insecurities. We laughed at the absurdity of our fears while acknowledging that we had them. I had failed to notice I was wearing a mask of “it must just be me” until these girls gently began to peel it away. They didn’t know what they were doing or how our conversation affected me but I began to see it.

When one girl shared, the others listened. It was simple but it left an impression on me and I found myself thinking, “Why don’t we do this more often?” I knew the biggest obstacle was busyness. Life was in a hurry so relationships had to wait. But that philosophy lost all reasonableness when I was in the company of these women. I need these moments — these people. We all do. It doesn’t have to be while eating tasty food at a snazzy restaurant. I observed the same phenomenon while sitting around a coffee table in my sweatpants later that night, munching on brownies.

Between the five of us we wear the hats of wife, mom, nurse, nanny, and 8-to-5-er. All of us are busy with 1,000 responsibilities that make up our days and occupy our hours. We were all looking forward to this night but I didn’t really realize why until now.

I thought having a Girl’s Night Out would leave me feeling happy and girly (success!), but it did more than that — it revealed to me the remarkable people around me who I might not always live 15 minutes away from. I was reminded that I need to fight for this, not just be pleasantly surprised when it happens. I need to tell people that they matter, pray for them, and change my list from “things to do” to “people to love.” Not because I’m an extrovert who loves people but because I’m a person who can’t do it alone and the same God who created me to thrive in authentic community also gave me the means to find it and contribute to it.

If you haven’t made time to connect with “your peeps” in a while start planning a night out, a lunch date, a phone call, a skype session TODAY. It may be a few weeks down the road, with 2 people or 10 people, but guard it like your life depended on it because it kind of does. And take note: my intent in sharing this isn’t to encourage you to over-commit and burn out (been there, done that, no thanks) — it’s to make time for the people who will make sure that you won’t.

When you wish upon a mountain, you just might miss the sunset.

VA landscape

John and I just enjoyed a whirlwind weekend visiting friends and family in VA. 🙂  As usual I came with my heart wide open and was cheerfully swept up in the magnetic pull of the East Coast, occupied by so many people I love.

I wish I could record and re-play the moment of holding my brand-new nephew Cade and happily crying as I prayed over him on the back porch of my childhood home. I wish I could keep all the kisses from my 80-years-young grandmother in my pocket and pull them out when I’m lonely or scared. I wish I lived closer to my adorable niece, Emma so I could run with her and march with her and chase after her with a broom while laughing at her silly screams of delight. I wish I could babysit the kiddos that were born to dear friends, and be a familiar face instead of a passing traveler. I wish I could bottle up the warm welcome we received at our old church home on Sunday morning. I wish I could squeeze their hands again and invite them over for lunch. I wish I could have danced the night away at a beautiful wedding reception instead of driving the night away to another hotel. I wish I could step outside and smell the sweet summer rain that wakes up the soil on the mountains and rinses off the patient hills. I wish TX wasn’t so far away from VA.

But, as my mom so matter-of-factly states, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride!”

The reality is, that’s not my reality. And you know what? That’s OK. A part of me will always be tied to the hills of VA but there is another part of me that is being shaped and influenced by the sweeping plains of TX. The part of me that had to put on my “big girl” pants and get a full-time job, that has to commute to that full-time job, that pulled out the crockpot and put away the cereal box because “Man cannot live on Fruity Cheerios alone!” It’s a newer part of me and one that I’m just starting to get comfortable in. I’m sure that once I get comfortable, something else will change and another part of me will stretch unused muscles and make new mistakes. That’s just growing up, I guess.

When I think about leaving the sweet friends who have made the Lonestar state not-so-lonely for us, I just wanna punch a wall. I don’t like knowing that when John graduates, we’ll have to say goodbye (AGAIN) to people we wish we could live next-door to, share Saturday mornings with, and lean on when life throws a mean curveball. Yet I know that there are some friendships that don’t give a rip how many miles apart you are because as far as they’re concerned, you’re stuck with them for life.

And if there’s anything I’ve learned each time my heartstrings are yanked in a hundred different directions, it’s this:

Wherever you are, it’s worth the pain and the risk to love people back.

It’s so good to visit the house I grew up in, the friends I went to school with, and the family I treasure. But it’s also good to be home again, enjoying the panoramic sunsets and delightful friendships we could have only found deep in the heart of Texas.

TX sunset at WRL

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

I have been nominated by my sister in Christ over at the1savedbygrace, for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! I am grateful for her nomination and thankful to have been an encouragement to her. She has a wonderful story of God’s redemptive power in her own life that is worth knowing, so check it out!

And again these awards come with the understanding that you pass it along to 15 other bloggers. OK. Well. Please see the post written on July 23 and you will see how this is somewhat of a conundrum for yours truly. Having not expected to receive an award soon after the first one I am nowhere near able to introduce you to 15 other bloggers. Not to say they aren’t out there! (obviously) I’m just slowly expanding my blogging network and don’t have the time to really dive into it as much as I’d like to at the moment.

This means that I’m going to  be bending the “rules” a wee bit (my sincere apologies to the makers of this fine award) and I will instead introduce you to 10 people/places/things that have inspired or encouraged me. The goal of this award is to expose you to that which inspires so I hope this flagrant rule breaking slight adjustment to protocol does just that. Enjoy!

1) My oldest sister. I’ve always wanted to grow up to be like her so it’s only fair I mention her in things that inspire me! And, it just so happens that she is a fellow blogger who kicked me in the pants to begin my own!  So here’s at least ONE blogger nomination for “Very Inspiring Blogger” : Friffle Thoughts –  This blog is where she talks about the random ins and outs of daily life, thrown in with some reflections on faith and family, and almost always sprinkled with her irresistible wit and humor. LOVE IT.

She also writes on a second blog called Reading Today where she gives you her scoop on whichever book she’s in the midst of reading, just finished reading, or she highly recommends (or doesn’t recommend) reading. Check it out – you’ll feel more literary-savvy just for visiting 😉

Photo Credit: Georgina Emily Photography

2) Sunsets.  They never cease to inspire.

Taken last Thanksgiving in NH. You can’t help but stare, it’s incredible!

3) – There are hundreds of articles, videos, and podcasts on this site that have stirred my heart towards repentance, joy, and understanding. The bloggers are succinct and eloquent communicators of some complex truths in Scripture as well as excellent navigators through the hills and valleys of life lived in a broken world.

4) Greg & Elise. They are a powerhouse couple who have been through the most tumultuous trials. They are honest in their brokenness, rejoice in the little things, and are constantly fixing their eyes on Jesus in the midst of unimaginable pain. They inspire me more than they realize and I consider it a privilege to know them.

5) My grandma. At 80 years old she has told me confidently, “I have no regrets. God’s been unbelievably good to me and I’m so thankful for all the sweet memories.” Take the time to listen to those older than you. Stories from the past can only serve to inform the present and protect the future.

One of my heroes. Taken this past weekend 🙂

6) A well-timed but unexpected “good game”. Nothing inspires me to keep on going like knowing someone has been blessed by my efforts or even just my example.

Random “good game” from my husband a few weeks ago. 🙂

7) This.

8) Olympic athletes. I know, I know – SO cliche. But seriously! Some of these athletes train day after day after day, week after week, come rain or shine for FOUR YEARS for an event that lasts mere seconds! If they have such determined focus and motivation for something that takes up a blink of time, why would I give any less when I have the promise of never-ending time? What do I have to lose when I give my all? What do I have to lose when I don’t give it?

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
– 1 Corinthians 9:25 –

9) Experiencing or extending sincere forgiveness. There is no better snapshot of the cross than when we choose to forgive or are forgiven.

10) Quiet winter mornings and sweet Fall evenings. That’s where I find my voice again because that’s when I can clearly hear His.

Winter Rose. Steadfast in adversity, I loved stumbling across this rebellious gem.

What about you, reader? I would love to hear how you’re inspired: who, what, where and most importantly.. why?

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

*Thump.. thump thump… squueeeeak..thump*

“Hello?.. Test, test… Hi, is this thing on? Yes? OK.”

Well I’d like to take the time to gratefully and joyfully accept the “Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award” from my dear friend Charity over at What Matters Most. Charity was my first, “Hey! I-don’t-know-you-but-I-was-really-encouraged-by-your-blog-and-decided-to-start-following-you friend!” I am so thankful I stumbled across her blog that dishes out real life from an eternal perspective, it’s so refreshing!

I’m also doubly subscribed to another blog she writes called Blurbs of Grace. I love getting these blurbs on my phone throughout the day. They never cease to make me stop, give thanks, be challenged, or laugh out loud. Thank you for being such a faithful blessing and partner-in-Christ, Charity. The Lord is using you in mighty ways. 🙂

I’m in awe of Him who called us to himself when I think about how, from my small pocket of the world, I can be encouraged and be an encouragement to so many sisters (and brothers!) in Christ around the globe. Leave it to the Lord to redeem something as versatile and volatile as the internet and use it for His kingdom purposes. I’m humbled to be a part of His work.

As part of accepting the award I am supposed to tell you 7 things about myself that have not already been revealed on my blog. Here goes:

1) I’m addicted to peanut butter M&M’s.

2) My favorite performing role as a dancer involved wearing facial hair and boot spats.

3) My sister taught me how to walk.

4) I tap dance in grocery store aisles more often than I’d like to admit.

5) I’m currently memorizing Psalm 62.

6) I once ate an entire batch of homemade chocolate chip cookie dough. By myself.

7) On our wedding day, while standing at the altar, my husband was referred to as “Mr. Quaker Oats” and I was deemed “Froot Loops” by the officiating pastor.

I also get to nominate other sisters in Christ who have blessed me via the blogosphere. And, here is where I am slightly awfully embarrassed. I’m now keenly aware of the fact that I don’t have very many blogging friends as I’m relatively new to the blogosphere (my first post is dated in May of this year).

As I thought of the women who I would love to nominate for this award, my palms started to sweat as I read Charity’s nominations.  Woops. I came to the realization that several of the women I follow are women I found through Charity! Remember, she was my first “blog-friend” so I just snooped and sniped all of her friends and made them my own!

Look. I’m not proud of it either, but networking isn’t my thing so I figured I’d piggyback off of her brilliant connections. 🙂

That being said, many of the women I mention below have just received this award and since I don’t want to go handing off awards to any ol’ blogger for the sake of fulfilling “the requirements” I thought I would mention these ladies again in the hopes that my faithful readers will also be blessed by their perspectives and passion for living for Jesus. As for those who are receiving this award for the first time, hooray! You are also a huge gift to this burnt out soul. Stay strong and keep writing, at least one human being is being refreshed by your willingness to share.

1. Sharp Paynes

2. Getting Down With Jesus

3. Peaceful Wife

4. Barren to Blessed

This prayer was passed on to me by Charity and I wanted to keep it circulating so that we may all be reminded of the capable God we worship in this life in joyful juxtaposition.

“Praying God’s continued blessings in your lives; His peace, His power, His strength and protection and that all of your needs be met…spiritual, physical, relational and financial.”

Now please excuse me as I go find more friends.. 😉