1,112 Days

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Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?
Romans 11:35

Before Evan & I were married, we went through premarital counseling with a pastor. We were so in love at 20 years old, and we just wanted to be married. Honestly, we didn’t place a lot of thought into anything else. We had a one bedroom apartment, I had two jobs, and Evan was just beginning to work at a full-time job at a printing company. It was the greatest. Everything we had was either a gift from our wedding or furniture we received from an elderly woman for free. It was quite simply just enough, and everything we needed, nothing more and nothing less.

I only remember one session from our premarital counseling. I remember telling our pastor, “I don’t want our life to be just about us and the things that we have or what we do with them. I want it to be about Jesus. And I want Him to provide just enough for us. Our daily bread. And I want that to be enough.” But when that prayer became our reality, and has continued to be our reality for the last three years…there have been times when I have regretted ever saying those words. What was I thinking, praying for “just enough”? I didn’t know we’d have two little boys in two years. I didn’t know what real life could really be like, especially in my naive 20-year-old mind. And I truly didn’t know what it was to live with just enough. My parents blessed me with a great life, and I never felt a need for anything.

Yet here we are, with two boys to care for, and every day for the past 1,112 days, God has provided for us our daily bread. One of the greatest challenges has been learning to trust Him.

What does that look like? Honestly? I still don’t know exactly. It’s never the same every day. But I do know it includes a few things:

1. Believing that God keeps His word. He has never forsaken us, nor will He ever. He promises to see us through and walk with us. And He promises to give us what we need, every day, no matter what.

2. Acknowledging that everything is a gift. Really? Everything? Yes! But it’s not easy. Evan works hard to earn money, but what he earns isn’t ours to spend willy nilly. That is a difficult lesson that we struggle with nearly every week. But where would we be without all the gifts that God rains down on us? We wouldn’t have much of anything. So we treat is as such:  it doesn’t belong to us, even if it’s in our name. Everything for the glory of God.

We aren’t perfect. We aren’t always responsible. We make a lot of mistakes. But God has never failed us. He has always, always, always given us our daily bread. And you know what’s surprising? It’s always more than enough.

Deep Roots

When I was eleven, I stole one of my brother’s Bibles. I flipped through the pages and picked out random Bible verses, wrote them out on pieces of paper, and taped them to the wall. I wasn’t searching for anything in particular. To this day, I have no idea what my motive was behind it. I do know that the Bible verses held no real meaning for me. But it made me feel happy, and when you’re eleven, happiness is the only thing that matters.

I found Jesus when I was twelve years old. I remember the moment that I “came to the altar” and prayed a prayer. I remember everything. The feeling of purpose that instantly arrived into my soul. The smile that spread wide across my face. The girl I hugged in thanks for inviting me to join her in prayer. The joy that I felt. The hope felt infinite. The “high”, I remember, was greater than anything I’d ever felt in my life. I didn’t know where I would go from there, what it really meant for my life, but I knew that it was exactly what I needed.

All through high school, I longed to grow deeper into this faith that I had found. I wanted to study scripture, dive into the lives of the prophets, and find a calling. Maybe a missionary? Maybe a writer? I was fearless. I felt invincible. I wasn’t scared. And I wanted to see the world.

But I never did. I got married two years after high school. I had two babies in two years. I looked back on high school and thought, “That must’ve been the prime of my faith.” And how ridiculous is that?

You do not support the root, but the root supports you.  Romans 11:18b

I really enjoy being a wife to my husband. He is my teammate, and he believes in my dreams just as much as I believe in his.
I really enjoy being a mom to my boys. Not only do they breathe life & joy into me daily, they also challenge me to live more in the depths of Jesus.
And in these two roles, I feed others. I feed, feed, feed and forget to feed myself. And I find myself thinking, “Where did she go? Where’s that girl with the fire in her bones?”

Finding Jesus eleven years ago was and always will be the greatest thing to happen to me in this life. Things change. They always do. My plans for the future when I was eighteen did not include all that my life is right now. But…this is better. And looking back, the years before are no comparison to the years ahead or the moments right now. It is convenient to lose myself as a wife, as a mom, and consider “the years of my youth” as my “prime”. But they are not! I am still called, still fed by the same roots that are in Jesus. And I have every chance and opportunity to feed others, to reach women & to be an ambassador for His Great Name, even if it means doing it from my couch with little kids clinging to me.

She’s still here. There’s still fire in my bones.

Everything to Gain

As a deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgivings
among the festive throng.
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:1-5

Frustration is very real for me. I have these conversations with God that go something like:  “Why would you do that? I’m just…You are so unfair. This isn’t fair.” My disposition changes. My posture  becomes rigid, cold. I turn away, yet He stands so near. There is never a moment in my time when He has left my side.

I am thirsty.

Some nights I can’t fall asleep, for I am filled with lists, worries, or plans. I cling to what is expected of me, because what will anyone think if I don’t fit the mold of “regular”? I invest my time and money into things that are so worthless in the end. Things that eat me up rather than feed me.

Why are you downcast? Why so disturbed? Why worrisome, tired, desperate? Why?

I am thirsty.

The fear of losing, failing, and making a fool of myself makes my skin crawl. Nothing to gain. But in Christ, I have everything to gain.

Why would You do that? Because I love you. Because I long for you. Because I have something great for you.

Nothing is lost in God. Nothing is lost to God. As a deer pants for water, so my soul, my wandering soul, longs for You.

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me–
a prayer to the God of my life.
Psalm 42:7-8

Limitless

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My husband and I are in a current season of waiting. I am not a patient person, I don’t enjoy the feelings the unknown brings. I like control, and I like knowing what is to come.

In these seasons of life, I put limitations on our God. I convince myself that what I truly want can’t possibly come to fruition, because life isn’t fair. So why should I have a great amount of hope? I set my expectations on what this world has to offer, believing that the “best” for me is only just good enough, not greatness.

“Do you think I stretched forth My hand for them [ancient Isreal],
and through mighty miracles set them free from the bondage of Pharaoh,
and made them a way to escape through the Red Sea,
and provided for their daily needs through the wilderness journey,
and gave them water out of the Rock,
and will do any less for you?”
“Rain”, Come Away My Beloved

I’m sure you’ve heard the story of Moses. How he delivered his people, slaves of Egypt, and God provided:  their needs, the path, the promises. I read the story, and it has lost it’s luster for me. I think, “Well that’s pretty cool” and move on. But God did mighty miracles. It isn’t just a story! And will He do any less for me?

I pray with limitations. I pray with a logical mind. Sure, I have hope. But not quite the amount of hope that God is fully capable, completely limitless, and surely all-knowing. For Moses, for the people of Isreal, God Almighty delivered. He parted a sea. He gave them nourishment. He made water flow from a rock. And will He do any less for me? Will He only perform lack-luster miracles in my life? Is He only capable of giving us a mediocre life? Is He only loving us out of requirement? Does He really see us? Does He really care?

The story of Moses is retold again and again, and we share it with our children more out of ritual rather than awe. The same God who delivered an enslaved nation has His eyes set on me. He will do great miracles in my life, maybe even greater miracles. He never performs lack-luster miracles. His gracious miracles in our life, even if they only include Him saving me, are notable. He gave it all! He decided my soul, my life, was worth a miracle. He is not a Creator of only mediocrity, and He doesn’t only choose a select few for greatness. He is a great, mighty God, and He has His eyes on me. He only wants for me the greatest of all. He loves me simply because I live. Not for anything I do, for nothing I do in this life can save me, only the sacrifice of Jesus can do that. He sees me. He knows me. He cares for me. He delivers.

And will He, the God of Isreal, the God who parted a sea, rained down bread from heaven, do any less for me?
I am His. He has His eyes on me. So I pray with expectation, knowing that in my season of waiting, the same God who does miracles in crazy, mighty ways, is going to deliver me.

Be Not Fearful

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Be not fearful, but believing.

Believing. What is keeping me from believing?

In situations of fear or pain, I find it’s easier if I write about it. Not everything that is painful is worth sharing, mind you, but I think it’s vulnerability and transparency in our pain that shields us from falling farther from Jesus.

Before Asa was born, I was filled with fear. A lot of fear. I had suffered an ectopic pregnancy a month before I became pregnant again, and seeing a positive pregnancy test didn’t exactly bring about tears of joy. Fear crippled me for nine months. I was a slave to these thoughts that consumed me, fears that I would lose this baby, that he would arrive imperfect, that I would never quite be able to move forward after losing a child. So I tried to write about it, and I tried to move forward, but I couldn’t. I dwelled on this loss that I suffered, on this pain that I felt, and I couldn’t push forward into the freedom God wanted from me. I willingly held myself captive to my fears.

Mothering after losing a baby. That’s what has kept me from believing. Even after Asa came into our world, I was scared. Asa is nothing like his brother. I butt heads with this little five month old daily, and he doesn’t do things the way I would prefer. He is difficult, trying, and stubborn. He knows what he likes, and he doesn’t prefer anybody else in his world but me & his dad. He is social, interactive, and has quite the personality for such a little babe. He is so precious to me. He is a miracle. I butt heads with him, but he steals my heart at every moment that I get to love on him. He isn’t a replacement for what we lost. He is a whole new, beautiful little gift.

Living in fear is debilitating. My growth in the Lord was slim to none. I was “happy” living in fear because comfort, sometimes, is what we call home, and that’s what my fear was for me. Jesus doesn’t want that for me. He doesn’t want a soul that serves another master. He doesn’t want a partial love from His creation. I am the apple of His eye, and He adores me! He wants my joy to be made complete in Him. He wants to take my fear and nail it down. He wants it! How could I not let it go? How could I not long for freedom?

Be not fearful, but believing. You are God’s joy. You are God’s love. He adores you, hopes for you, loves you, treasures you. Fear is only a wall between imprisonment and freedom. Why should we live in a state of captivity when He offers us the joy of peace and grace, coated with mercy and love? Let Him go before you. He wants to be the sacrifice that frees you from ever having to feel bondage.

Playing God

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I love this kid. He is my child, through and through. He is very much an introvert, just like me. When he’s around the right people, his personality explodes, and he is the sweetest, silliest, and funniest little boy I know. He’s currently going through a phase where he’s constantly asking, “Mommy, hold you?” (which means “Mommy, hold me!”). He needs me for most things, and I love to be that for him:  his meal ticket, his hand to hold, his protector, his mommy.

One of my greatest challenges in life is yet to come:  letting go of my baby boys and letting them venture out into the world without me. I am everything to them, yet one day, I won’t be. They’ll look at some of the photographs I’ve taken of them and think, “Good grief, mom, what’s up with all these stupid selfies?” When they are so little, it is so easy to play god in their life. I clothe, feed, wipe, hold, rock, bathe…I pray for them, with them, on their behalf. I’d die in an instant if it’d mean they would live. This mom business is serious stuff. I don’t take it lightly. Sometimes I forget that although I intercede in so many areas of their life, playing God, truly, is one area I will never measure up.

Prayer is power. It is calling out straight to God, pouring out hopes, dreams, worries, fears, and believing that He hears us. Yet no matter my hopes, no matter my wishes, He will always act on my behalf in the greatest way possible. Honestly, I don’t always act on behalf of my boys in the best way. Why? Because I’m human, and I make mistakes. If I were perfect, my boys would be perfect too. Let me be the first to tell you, they surely are not (even though I don’t think they could really get any cuter, and surprise! They always do!). Prayer is power. And it’s a power from a mighty God, not from anything  (anything!) that I do on this earth.

“Only relinquish all things into My hands; for I can work freely only as you release Me by complete committal–both of yourself and others.”

I’m only great as a mother when I let my God be God to them. I can provide for them in all the earthly ways, but there does come a time when I must show them the way to the Creator. They think I’m all-powerful now. They think I’m everything in this world that is good, and that I will always show them the way (that is, until they are old enough to realize I’m actually not cool). And honestly, I wish I could be there for every second of their life to make sure they never miss a beat. But, I’m only great as a mother when I let my God be God to them. Playing god can only stunt their growth. And I know my God! How could I keep them from rooting deep and growing tall when I look back on my life and see how God has nurtured my soul?

Anniversary

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In a few days, my husband and I will be celebrating our third marriage anniversary. It doesn’t seem possible, and our wedding day feels like a century ago. We were only babies then; we didn’t know how great our God could truly be to us.

My concept of love is limited, truthfully. I’ll never forget the moment my firstborn son arrived into the world and the explosion of love that transcended it. I’ll never forget the look on Evan’s face when I walked down the aisle to marry him. I’ll never forget all the joy and fulfillment that stems from a great friendship. But all of that love, all of those different aspects of my heart, seem so trivial when I think of the God I worship.

Truthfully, I am easily swayed. I have moments where I hear the whispers of fear:  “You are failing your children”; “Your husband thinks you aren’t good enough”; “Your friends find you obsolete”. I am crippled by fear daily, and I am apt to give in. I try to love fiercely, unconditionally, and continuously, but that stuff ain’t easy. My toddler likes to pee his pants, and it stings my nerves. My husband is busy designing, and I think he’s ignoring me purposefully. I look up to God and think, “Why should I even bother?!” I look up to God, believing the lies weaved into my thoughts come straight from Him. But that’s just another lie, too.

There is no greater love in this life than the love shown to me by Jesus. I don’t know what it is to maneuver through this chaotic uphill road without Him. And to see the pain and frustration of those who do…strength must wear quickly. In my moments of fear, I am quick to lose my temper. I am quick to shout, pound my fist on the table, and ignore the constant, constant woos of my God: Child, settle. He is too patient with me sometimes. He hears my heart’s cry before it ever escapes my lips, and He knows me well:  I am easily swayed.

Within the past three years, my concept of love has grown to tremendous heights. It comes more easily, and it seems to expand every day. But my human love, what I feel, is just a small glimpse of God’s truest, greatest love for me. He is never ashamed of me, never questioning me, never looking down at me as though I am just a feeble child. He has more faith in me than I do in Him sometimes. It is Christ in me that permits me to love at all.

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We’ve come a long way since then. Jesus has been gracious to us. And we know it isn’t by our own doing that we arrive at our anniversary happy and in love. It’s by our Father’s great love for us.