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I’m about to throw so much nautical imagery at you. #sorrynotsorry

There’s a quote that I’ve known of for years, but I’ve never really questioned it or picked it apart until the past few days.

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” – John August Shedd

On the surface, it’s a real ‘that’ll preach!’ quote, right? Ships are meant for going out on the open water and carrying out a purpose. The vessel for the fisherman to have his days work, the home away from home for cruise guests, the transportation for carrying various goods from one port to another. So yeah, ships are made to be out on the open water, accomplishing a purpose.

This quote is so often given as a charge to people when they face fear, doubt, adversity, and hard times.

In the Christian community I’ve seen it used time and time again for each of those above situations as an encouragement to weary and overwhelmed individuals, looking for hope to press on in their journey as the vessel that carries out the purpose.

It’s fired me up a time or two when I’ve felt down. I’ve thought “hey, I was made for more than this – I can do this.”

Recently, though? I’m feeling a little unsure of offering up this quote as something that should empower.

Look at my thought process above “hey, I was made for more than this – I can do this.”

It’s all in my strength.

And sometimes, we just don’t have the strength.

We become overwhelmed and exhausted.

We need rest but continue to press on because ‘ships are safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships were made for.’

But, did you catch that first part of the actual quote at the top? A ship is safe in harbor.

And I think with all the challenges we face in life, sometimes we need a safe place.

Christians come from all types of backgrounds – abused and abusers,  high horses and lowly broken places, picture perfect lives and obvious shambles. Sometimes we need safety from our past – sometimes we need safety from who we used to be – quite honestly sometimes we need a safe place from who we have become.

When it becomes more about us – and us carrying out a task – it becomes less about Jesus. And when we don’t meet Him for rest and safety – we forget this mission is not about us but about making great the name of Jesus.

And if it was about us? Well wouldn’t that just make you feel so defeated – because you can’t do it, you don’t have the strength to.

And so, maybe, maybe sometimes we need safety.

Sometimes we need that rest.

Sometimes, we need the harbor.

And sometimes without the place of rest and refueling, we lose sight of Who is guiding the vessel – and we try to guide it ourselves. I know I have given myself undue credit  in the Big Picture and so I’ve got to believe maybe you have, too.

Part of being that vessel is accepting the humble position that you are part of the process, not the entire process or even the organizer of the process.

And sometimes, we need to humble ourselves with taking a step back – we need to head to the harbor. We need to be less about the purpose and more about the One Who Purposes us.

We wrongfully empower ourselves, and sometimes wrongfully empower others, when we charge someone with the notion that they were made to do greater things when they feel like they can’t accomplish anything of greatness at the moment. We don’t direct them to the harbor to rest and remember the Overseer of the whole things – we try to own it ourselves.

But we need the harbor.

We weren’t made to stay there forever, no. And when you pause for rest, you still need to be proactive in your pursuit of your God given purpose. But if we never dock-in, we end up running off our own fumes of exhaustion and overcompensating – and we miss it.

Don’t miss that you’re the vessel – not the commander – and the vessel has to lean in to what the commander asks of them. Sometimes, that’s to push past fear and doubt and carry out the mission in rough waters and the unseen shoreline that we’re promised to reach at the end of it all. Sometimes, though, I do think we’ve got to scale back and find rest.

In Matthew 11 the Bible says “28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

When you feel burdened do you seek your own strength to finish out the task because you believe its through your strength the task is carried out? Or do you seek the One who offers gentleness and rest in our soul in exchange for us surrendering our part in carrying the burden – and our admitting that we can do nothing apart from relinquishing it all to the Lord.

So, yes, you were made to be out on the waters of purpose – but the harbor is not something to be ignored, it was created with a purpose. Rest in the Lord is essential. Don’t lose sight of that.

Wishing you rest and peace,

a fellow ship in these sometimes hectic waters

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Brooklyn loves to figure things out. She is constantly asking questions.

Every time we listen to music she wants to know “what is this song about?”

We always listen to “Christian” music (in quotes because…can music be saved? no…lol) in my car. So, generally the songs are about God.

Typically our conversation starts like this:

B: Mommy, what’s this song about?

Me: God

B: But it doesn’t say God

She’s usually right, because she knows almost all of the songs on the radio by heart, she knows which ones actually say the word God in them.

After she says that I try to find a way to explain how the song can still be about God without actually saying God. Ya know, like, God can be talked about in terms of “He” just like Brooklyn is a “she”, or Brooklyn is a daughter and God is a father. We’ll talk about specific attributes of God that are mentioned in the song that give us a clue this song is about God because the bible tells us these attributes are part of who God is…etc.

So, just as some songs don’t say God but are about God, that’s a way we can think about the way we interact with people and how to discern others interactions with us. We can’t fault those that haven’t been truly changed by Christ for not acting like Christ, but we can respond to them and our response should be Christ filled.

So these music conversations have given us a chance to talk about the way we handle friendships in this house too. She’s not unaware of the idea of being included and the idea of being left out (even at 3 years old, so sad). She’s caught on to other people not treating people (her) the way that she’s encouraged to treat people. I try to remind her that not everyone knows that God loves them and everyone struggles with sin and if we don’t take care of the sin in our heart it is very hard to be about God. Just like any song can say the word God, we have to look at the song as a whole to figure out what it’s actually about…it is the same with humans.

We can say anything with our lips but our actions are the reflection of our heart.

Explaining this to a three year old is time consuming, challenging, but so precious at the same time. Her curious mind really ministers to my heart more than she will ever know. She is not quite aware that some of the things she’s just now being introduced to in regards to human interaction are potentially lifelong struggles for women, and definitely a personal struggle of mine. I feel the gentleness of God working on my heart through the curious mind of my child, and it is incredible to become aware of the intimate ways God speaks to me. My deepest love on this earth is for my husband, but my most convicting love on this earth is for my children. By that I mean, Joseph is a believer and so his spiritual life is not my responsibility but as Brooklyn and Timothy’s parents, Joseph and I both feel a strong sense of responsibility to teach them who God is and what He is about, and since I am home with them a majority of the time, I really feel a conviction about teaching them these things as early as I see they are ready in a way that makes sense to them at the time. So, when I am taking opportunities to share some truth with Brooklyn, it really comes full circle when God teaches me through me teaching Brooklyn.

Someone may not have to quote scripture or profess Christ to you for you to know they are about God. Though this doesn’t happen in music often, the inverse of this can be true too, and it’s a harsh truth: sometimes those who say so much about God are not about God. They are about themselves.

We’ve all probably grown up with the phrase “actions speak louder than words”.

The bible’s take on this:

Matthew 7:17-18

“So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.”

So, although with your lips you may say the things of God, what are you doing with your actions in your life? Are you being loving? Inclusive? Are you a servant? Do you seek out what benefits you or others? Are you humble? Are you kind? Do you seek to be good to all or just some?

The fruits of the spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

These fruits aren’t just for those in your ‘inner circle’, if you find you only can excercise these fruits to certain people on your “approved” list, it might be time for a heart check.

This is something I have to do often for myself.

It’s hard being around people who “say God”, as Brooklyn would say, but aren’t about God. When in those situations, and you’ve heart checked your own self, rest in the fact that though you may not be ‘enough’ to some, you are so enough to God.

Haven’t left a little song for you lately, so here is the initial song that brought about this whole convo… it doesn’t say God 😉 but it says you are enough, God’s greater than any greatness you could ever want or need.

MercyMe- Greater

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I’m sort of over seeing posts about ‘not losing yourself in Motherhood’.

I get it, I guess. I at least get the intentions, though the sentiment is not something I embrace.

It’s hard being a mom (although I also saw another article circulating around that we are supposed to stop saying motherhood is hard, um… ok). I have seen some gracious views about not getting ‘caught up’ in motherhood so much that you swap your identity in exchange for ‘just’ mom (although, not sure what that even means….as if ‘mom’ is something you can throw the word ‘just’ in front of, it is so much of something not ‘just’ something) but for the most part these ‘don’t forget your identity’ mantras miss the mark on Motherhood completely, I think.

I am Alyssa and I am a mom.

Letting the ‘momness’ permeate through is where I really find any sort of full identity. God has called me to motherhood, and so that is my identity, and at the risk of being a bit controversial… it isn’t just part of my identity, it is my full identity.

We sometimes crave for days to get away from the endless laundry, a conversation with a friend to not be interrupted by someone spitting up on you or tugging at your shirt to go potty, the early mornings to not exist on Saturdays, the frequent wakings to stop, a moment to not have someone calling out that three letter word ‘mom’. But, those thoughts, though they may feel suffocating at times, are not a loss of identity, they are a loss of perspective.

It seems like the ‘don’t forget your identity’ push limits you to either be a Mom when it’s time to be a mom or yourself when you steal some moments to be ‘Yourself’, ‘Your Name’, instead of just embracing the fact that you are yourself and you are a mom, and those things are not an ebb and flow of one or the other but they are reconciled harmoniously. 

I am Alyssa and I am a mom.

If you separate the mom from me, well that’s really where I lose sight of my identity. Do I crave to carve out moments here and there to blow dry my hair, browse the aisles of Target, or grab dinner out with a friend? Of course. But I’m still 100% aware of my motherliness (that’s totally a word, no red squiggle underneath) whenever I do these things. You can’t ‘escape’ motherhood by letting yourself focus on something you’d like to do. Motherhood is the lens that you permanently view life out of once you are a mom and that isn’t something to be afraid of or find escape from. It’s not unhealthy to want to do these things, but if you think these things will bring you back to your ‘true identity’ where you can find yourself away from the title of ‘mom’, you’re not viewing the whole picture.

My heart and my brain, my emotions and my thoughts, my questions and convictions – they are all so deeply rooted in being Alyssa who is a mom (and a wife, and a friend, and a daughter, and a sister). If we could grasp that one doesn’t take away from the other, but enhances and fills out the entire picture of who Alyssa even is or hopes to be… we may speak less about identity crisis and more about identity acceptance.

I think that is where the friction begins, it’s the flesh versus the soul.

Humans are inclined towards our own desires, but our souls are called to complete submission to the call on our life.

Matthew 16: 24-26

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul

If we view Matthew 16 as a call to obedience in regards to our spiritual life, can we not follow suit and apply it to our spiritual calling? If you are a mom, you have the calling of loving and raising children with a complete focus on Christ and in that calling, yes, friend, gently I say to you, you may ‘lose’ who you once were, but you are not lessening who you are as a person. You are adding responsibility, new convictions, different views on life, old habits to break, and future conversations to think about. You aren’t losing yourself, though, you are finding yourself, every single day that you lay down your agenda and embrace yourself as a mom.

I am Alyssa and I am a mom.

 

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I’m rocking Timothy and he’s fallen asleep. I’ve moved him twice but he’s woken up each time.

He sleeps better these days, and it seems like the farther removed you are from the sleepless newborn days, the more difficult middle of the night wakings seem to be, for me at least. 🙂

As I’m sitting here rocking him, though my body feels tired and is ready to go back to bed, my mind and heart feel at peace that this little being finds comfort in me.. If only for this little while.

Romans 12:1-2 have long been favorite verses of mine, you can find them scribbled in old journals of mine.

“1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Verse two has always been a verse I’ve repeated to myself or dwelled on when I felt the weight of peer pressure or the worldly invitation to cast off a biblical world view.

In these late night moments though, I really feel the weight of verse one and how it frees you to live out verse two.

When God’s mercy on my life is put into perspective as he laid down his wrath because my ransom has been paid, what response could be greater than to lay down my agenda for my life and offer up whatever willfulness and energy I would put towards those things and fuel them for the things God has placed before me in my calling of being a mom? No other response seems fitting.

Motherhood is almost secondary work to the world. We’re taught to strive for our dreams, get the big job, make the money, travel the world, then… When you feel like you’ve accomplished all the “you” stuff, then go for that motherhood stuff but make sure you don’t lose sight of yourself because you’re still #1 in your own life.

This is backwards, and as a Christian mother it can seem difficult to find peace in your role as a mom when the world is saying “well yeah, motherhood is admirable and sweet, but it doesn’t define you.”

But friends, it does. It really does.

It doesn’t wish to rob you of your identity and strip you from your worth, but to create an identity that frees you to feel so worthy of this calling.

If your mind can’t be freed from the shackles of finding your self worth within the boundaries of motherhood, it might be that you have the verses in opposite order. Our minds won’t be free until we commit every breath that our body can breathe to the Lord.

Offer your bodies {your talents, your energy, your know-how, your ability} to the Lord first, then you will find your mind renewed {at peace, worshipful, embracing the role}.

So as I sit and rock, in a role that doesn’t hold much weight in society, my mind is at peace because my body is in service.

I am worshipping the Lord in these moments as I was created to do and there isn’t a higher calling than being in service to him.

Whatever the Lord has called you to, allow yourself to give yourself wholly to it – no matter how big or small the task may seem – then and only then will you know the peace of God as you were made to know it.

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I’ve been dairy-free for about 3 months.

My son has an allergy to milk protein and in order to continue nursing him I had to eliminate all sources of this milk protein in my diet.

It was a little difficult at first to figure out what I could have, it’s in everything. But, it’s necessary for my son to live a healthy life and be a happy {not screaming all day} baby. So, it is what it is.

If I know I’m going somewhere where  there will be food I most likely can’t have, I don’t go with the expectation to be fed. I feed myself before hand and if there is anything to nibble on while I’m there, it’s an exciting treat.

This is now routine for me, and I usually run into these situations once a week or at least a couple times a month. Just this morning I joined a bible study at my church, there was a delicious looking breakfast spread – lots of women telling me to go try this or that- but I knew I could have the fruit and so I stuck to that.

When I’m out at an event with friends or church people, sometimes someone will ask if I am dieting and I’ll just give my little quick explanation which is more often than not met with words of sympathy.

It’s sweet of people to offer a sweet “aw, I’m sorry about that” or “that must be hard!”

But, because I know the benefit to my son since I have made these changes and choices, I’ve taken ownership of it and plan accordingly.

I don’t expect other people to know about or adhere to my modified lifestyle.

I don’t expect people to know what is considered in the best interest of my son.

I am responsible for my son so I have to make the choice in my diet and be consistent with it if I want to see the full potential of his health.

I’m responsible for both of my children, in many ways.

One of our biggest responsibilities for Brooklyn right now is to steer her towards the direction of a life pleasing to the Lord. Just as I can’t expect everywhere I go to understand the dietary choices I make for Timothy, I can’t expect everywhere Brooklyn goes to understand the direction we desire for her life to steer towards.

I have to take ownership of my responsibility to raise Brooklyn, I can’t place that responsibility on a children’s ministry, YMCA classroom, or play dates with friends.

Not everyone can be aware of the way in which you want to raise your children, so you have to make a choice and be consistent in it if you want to see the full potential of their ability.

I don’t fully understand parenting, but since becoming a parent I have had my eyes open up to several things. One of the main things I have learned is that parenting in a way that is easiest to me now, may make life harder on Brooklyn later.

We live in a culture that is very “me” focused, and with a toddler who is pitching a fit in the middle of the grocery store because she wants a cookie, it’s tempting to let the “me” inside of her get her way. But, what does that reinforce in the long run?

Joseph and I have a conviction to lead our children down a road different from the typical childhood life.

Our kids lives are full of fun and exciting things but they are also full of an honest awareness of our sin nature.

The culture around us has been telling us for years that children are defiant, tantrums are normal, and “good luck when you get to the terrible twos”. The advice you are often given from the world is to basically do the best you can and these days will pass, they are only little once.

We’ve seen Brooklyn’s behavior shift, no doubt. But, this mentality that you just kind of wait for it to pass and “that’s the norm” sort of gives parents a pass to be lazy with their children, to not challenge them to rise above these new troubling emotions they face that send them in a tizzy.

These tiny beings are now aware of toys that are “theirs”, food they don’t “like”, and responsibilities they “can’t do”.

If someone takes a toy from Brooklyn, her first response, like most children, is usually “that’s mine!” A typical response to that type of behavior is to explain “well it is your toy, but we need to share it with others”, our response is to try and push through even further than that “toys are a privilege, and it isn’t ‘yours’, we are blessed to have access to it though, it’s not kind of you to take ownership of a blessing and not share it with others.”

When Brooklyn doesn’t want to finish her food, and she isn’t doing it out of fullness but because she wants to have something else (example: she’s eating a sandwich but halfway through the sandwich she decides she would rather have apples and peanut butter), we explain that “hungry people eat what is in front of them”, if she is truly hungry she will learn to eat what is on the table. Now, of course I’m not going to starve my child, I allow her as long as she wants at the table to decide that she is going to eat the food set before her for a meal, I don’t just say “you eat this or you get down” because I know she is hungry, but I’m not just going to say “oh well, sure here you can have this and throw that away”, if she doesn’t want to finish her sandwich then she knows it goes in a ziplock bag and it is the first thing offered to her at the next meal. 98% of the time, she finishes the sandwich, because she is hungry and well… hungry people eat what is in front of them. It’s a privilege to have food, let alone choose the food you want, and we want her to understand there are people countries away and on the streets in downtown charlotte who don’t have the opportunity to get ‘bored’ with a sandwich and ask for something else, so we try and establish a mindset that no matter what we are eating, let’s not take it for granted.

If Brooklyn says she “can’t” clean her playroom and needs me to do it, I will help her by pointing out specific toys and then reminding her of her capabilities “remember you go that out of your toy chest? I bet you can put it back in!”, it’s encouraging but it’s honest, it reminds her: you have the ability to do this, so let’s make the choice to use that ability.

In all of these situations, these are choices we have had to make about the way we will raise our children in the home, because we know we can’t always control what is outside of the home: I don’t know if her sunday school teacher makes sure she uses manners, but we enforce it at home in hopes that it follows her to sunday school, I don’t always see if she is cleaning up her mess with toys at the YMCA but we clean up at home so that when she is in the situation outside of the home it isn’t unfamiliar to her, I’m at all of her playdates now, but there will be a day where she maybe plays at a friends house and I’m not there to remind her that toys are a privilege and we need to share the things we are blessed with so we have to talk about these things first at home. We have to set up this behavior at home, so that when we go into uncharted waters, she is better equipped to share, to be grateful for what is in front of her, and to know her ability (in regards to more than just cleaning up a playroom).

Kids, while not always understanding of these adult sentences, not watered down with baby talk, are still human beings. They will learn and grow at the rate in which we set out for them. It may be more of a challenge as a parent to sit at the table for 30 minutes for them to finish a sandwich, and you may not have the time to do that, I get that – but I challenge you to push yourself to give the exact amount of energy and time you have available for your kids, to your kids.

It may be easier to say “well we need to share this toy” and leave it at that.

It may be easier to just give them something they will eat instead of working with them to eat what you’ve already prepared for them.

It may be easier to clean up the playroom yourself in 5 minutes than wait 20 more minutes for them to slowly pick it up.

But in the long run, giving your child a chance to grow in maturity can bless both of you. It will bless them because as they grow, they will see you as an authority, which means they will know you are a person in their life who can give guidance (whether they come to you or not in times they need guidance is another blog post in and of itself, but this at least sets the tone and puts the idea in their mind of your role) and they will learn that you are willing to set aside time to engage with them which truly can be priceless to a child. It will bless you, maybe you won’t see the results of the blessing until a few years down the road, but when you get the ball rolling early on manners and politeness and selflessness and gratitude, you are already helping to detoxify the “me first” thoughts that the world tells us we should have at the forefront of our minds.

We live in a culture that doesn’t put much weight into the lives and ability of children, after all – have you seen the abortion rates? It reinforces the “me first”. Not convenient for you to have a child? You first, so have an abortion.

Our culture also doesn’t value you until you can “contribute something” to this world. You’re having a baby who they can tell in the womb will have a disability and won’t live a life that society feels will be much of anything? Go ahead and abort that baby, you’re doing ‘him/her’ a favor.

Our culture doesn’t see the potential and value in children, but the Lord did.

Joseph and I know that Jesus referenced children in the scriptures and even made a example through them of how we are to approach him – like children – with nothing to offer, but everything to learn. Having a child-like faith means you won’t always understand things, you won’t always do it the right way, you may even throw a tantrum or five when asked to do something difficult – but God gives us the opportunity, because He knows what He can accomplish through willingness and meekness.

Learning to look at your children the way that God looks at us, as beings who have nothing to offer but that are loved so dearly and have the potential to change the world with a lot of love and a healthy guidance, it really can be the sweetest thing you’ve ever learned.

I’m so proud of Brooklyn’s potential as a human being, she is such a joy in our lives and though I will not get everything, or even half of everything right when it comes to parenting, I’m thankful for the opportunity to steer that potential into a meaningful direction.

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Mean Girls

My freshman and sophomore year of high school I went to a private school.

I hated it for the most part.

Not because of my teachers, I found most of them caring and friendly.

Not because of the curriculum, I enjoyed a biblical world view wedged into all aspects of education.

Mainly because of my peers.

There was that acne phase too, but basically most of my hatred for school at this time was due to my peers.

Mean girls, really.

I had friends at church, sure, but I saw them twice a week – if their parents decided to drive them, 🙂 and they got their homework done.

I had friends in school, actually. Just, most of my friends at school were my sisters age and she was two grades ahead of me, so lunch time was really the only time I saw anyone that would carry on much of a conversation with me.

My peers, though: the ones in all my classes, the ones I was with all day… I didn’t really fit in with any of them. Not for any reason known to me, just sort of the way it was.

Before I continue, I should say that there are a few people that were in my grade that I vividly remember being kind to me always {two happen to be married and in our Sunday School class now and the wife was my nurse the morning after I gave birth to Timothy!}.

Anyways, back to mean girls.

There was a group of girls my freshman and sophomore year that sort of made entertainment out of making fun of me.

The way I looked – whether it was an odd outfit combination, the pounds I put on between freshman and sophomore year, the color I chose to dye my hair, the way my eyes slant… I could go on. I remember a lot of hurtful words said to me, and I really got down about it.

I never opened up to anyone about it very deeply, maybe my mom a little. Just sort of tucked it away, cried in my room from time to time, and started building a wall.

Whether I realized I was doing it or not, I created a wall around me that didn’t let anyone really get past surface level conversation with me.

By the time I switched schools for my junior and senior year, I had built a very sturdy wall,  it was easy for me to make “friends” in my new school because I didn’t have to do much other than talk about something relevant to our age, laugh at a joke, and say “see ya tomorrow!”. I had no expectation and I put forth zero effort.

By building a wall, I don’t remember a single instance of having my feelings hurt at school my junior and senior year. I can think of a handful of people I really enjoyed being around, but memories of most of them involve pretty basic conversations. I didn’t go to school events, not because I feared being bullied but because I had no interest in getting to know anyone well. I didn’t go to prom, wasn’t asked to prom so that may have been why haha, but it didn’t bother me at all. I was just a person amongst a lot of other people with the common goal of getting out of high school and into college, with no real ties to anyone. (I went to my husbands 10 year high school reunion this year and we laughed thinking about going to mine, would anyone even know who I was?? Besides people who knew me from church. 🙂 Probably not.)

I wasn’t being bullied, but I still didn’t have friends, at least beyond much of an acquaintance level friendship.

When I got to college, I was dating people off and on and so I didn’t have much of a reason to develop new friendships with anyone that wasn’t already in my small circle.

Then I got married.

I had a permanent friend who had to listen to me ramble about Lord of the Rings, and ask 17 times if he likes my new hair color, or figure out where we want to go eat.

But, shortly into our marriage, I started feeling lonely for friendships.

My husband has a great core of guy friends as well as brother who lived near by for the first few years of our marriage who he is incredibly close to.

So, before kids, when he would go hang out with one of his friends I was just sort of always at home.

Sometimes I would laugh off my boring nights at home, sometimes I enjoyed them, but sometimes I found myself feeling hurt that no one wanted to hang out with me.

Somewhere along the lines, I thought: maybe it isn’t everyone else, maybe I am my own problem.

I have reflected back over the years several times when I journal about life’s happenings, and one thing was constant – me…being closed off, covering up things with sarcasm, acting like I don’t care to have friends, and never trying to invest in anyone else.

That last one stings a little.

I let myself become a mean girl.

Not by way of ridiculing people, but by way of writing people off as if they weren’t important.

I have thought over the years about how many people maybe needed a friend and interacted with me thought “wow, I must be a loser, she totally isn’t interested in this conversation at all”. I hate that I may have made someone feel that way by having my own pity party for myself instead of fueling these feelings into being a person who pursues friendships with those around her no matter the risk of being rejected. I hate that I didn’t pursue friendships simply to get to know someone else instead of just thinking about myself.

Whenever those things started to come full circle my first year of marriage, I started talking to people more – initiating conversation, inviting people to hang out, and checking in with people if I hadn’t heard from them in awhile.

I started thinking about others instead of myself.

Sure, I still ran into a mean girl or two, I may have gotten cancelled on from time to time, and not all my efforts to befriend someone turned into friendship.

BUT

I started offering grace to people who maybe said something they shouldn’t have about someone, or cancelled on hanging out with me, or didn’t want to me my friend at all.

I let people be who they are, and that was my only expectation: to expect people to be people.

Through my efforts, I began making more friends and now have a dozen friends I can think of that I know beyond a surface level and I love that. I love having someone to text something funny to, or share a recipe with, or meet for lunch.

Beyond that, I can think of half a dozen people that have been there for me in some really great and really tough times over the past few years – people who have cared for my children, cleaned my house, brought my family dinner, called to check on me if it had been awhile since they talked to me. That is a blessing.

It isn’t the biggest blessing though in our friendships. All along I was focused so much on myself that I didn’t understand beyond HAVING a friend, I didn’t understand the joy that comes from BEING a friend.

I am even more blessed to bear my friends burdens and rejoice in their triumphs now. What an honor I was missing out on by being a bitter mean girl.

If you’ve felt lonely, try to assess whether you may be part of the problem and then decide if you will stay motionless and continue to be disappointed or get the ball rolling with change and learn to love people the way you want to be loved.

If you want to start somewhere, I’m always up for a new friend.

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25 years old

I can tell you that burying my grandmother is not something I thought I would be doing on my 25th birthday.

But, tomorrow I turn 25 and tomorrow we will lay my Maw Maw’s body to rest in the ground and celebrate her life and rejoice that her soul has been restored in Heaven since the 21st of August.

I’m also 37 weeks pregnant on Sunday.

To say that my mind has been dwelling on the dichotomy of life and death this week barely scratches the surface.

At such a thought provoking time in my life, I wanted to take time to jot down my thoughts – maybe they apply to you, maybe they don’t. Maybe you take something away from them, maybe you don’t. As always – and as the name of my blog states (in a little bit of a southern twist because I had to go with “er” not “or” since or was taken…) take it er leave it. It’s here either way.

A constant thought running through my head is that my Maw Maw is the most alive she has ever been, even though the way we as humans view life doesn’t match up with the state of her body, and we can’t really grasp that yet, it is something I feel like the Lord has been comforting me with. It is a comfort thinking about her frail body and distressed state of mind being liberated into a new form, but even on the flip side, even her good days here on earth – the biggest smile I’ve ever seen her smile, the happiest day I’ve ever spent with her, the greatest memory I have of her- these all pale in comparison to how truly happy, free, and full of life she is now. All of these moments that made me fall in love with her, are nothing compared to the Love she is receiving now. I won’t fully know and understand this until I ‘know fully’ and am ‘fully known’ the same way that she is now.

1st Corinthians 13:12

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

In the mirror of my mind, where things are dim and not always clear I’ve been passing through my thoughts on grieving too. Everyone grieves differently, and there is evidence of grieving in the Bible, but what does grieving mean to me – why do I grieve someone who is in a better place?

I think what my mind understands most about grief is that I grieve as a human because the earth is better with genuine, serving Christians like my Maw Maw on this earth – so I grieve observing one more moment of her selflessness, listening to one more prayer or piece of encouragement she would hand out, I grieve the chance to glean more from this Christian woman and have her be a light to those around us. As much as I grieve because I will miss her, I know although the earth is a better place with her and people like her, the Believer that dwells within this human body understands that she is better off in Heaven and that is a true comfort. No matter how much the world could benefit from a servants heart- the servant benefits most by being reunited with the King.

Coming full circle in my thoughts, I land back on this baby in my belly and how, although he will take his first breath soon, what we as humans associate with ‘life’, he really will not be fully alive until he, Lord willing, learns to love and accept Jesus as the ruler of his life. I pray that my son becomes a person that will benefit this world with a servants heart, a love for Christ, and an understanding of the gospel – just as my Maw Maw embodied.

I appreciate God’s gentleness to my heart in this time, I feel like I’m learning so much as I pass in and out of my thoughts and emotions.

I guess I can mark this as my quarter-life ‘crisis’ although it is much more a revelation than a crisis that my mind and heart are wrestling with.

What I am taking away most from this season of life is that I desire to strive to be someone who truly has an eternal focus, and while shifted and shaken from time time by the unavoidable cycle of life and death, I pray that I continue to become a person who grasps that fully knowing the Love of God is what helps me in turn to be a person worth being on this earth, so that I might leave behind an impact on the people I interact with like my Maw Maw has, and so that I can influence those under my care, like my children, until I am called Home. I pray that I continue to embrace the perspective that there is only one person I will ever need to know and be known by, and one name to proclaim: Jesus.

And it isn’t really a full blog post if I don’t leave you a song to dwell on…I heard this on the way home from the last night I visited my Maw Maw, and I use it as a challenge for myself to remember what is important and as a comfort to envision my sweet grandmother waking up in the Land of Glory…

(I don’t think the video is mobile compatible, the song is Big Daddy Weave – The Only Name {Yours Will Be}, if you’d like to look it up…)

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