Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Choosing joy

If you are reading this chances are you've been through trials and test. If you haven't, please share your secret! Anyway, tonight I was thinking about how I feel right now. How I'm just surviving most days, just barely above the water. I have good days, yes. Lots of them. Today has been a survival day. As I was rocking Dalton to sleep I started thinking about the difference between people who are living with joy and peace and the people, eh hem, me, who have just been surviving. If you are reading this, I'll assume you are living and I'll also assume you've got a list of things you have survived whether it be physically, emotionally, mentally but guess what?! You made it! Guess what else?! There will be more stuff! There's always going to be something that comes along that tries to take our abundant life, our joy! What I'm saying to myself and what I'm saying to you is that we need to buckle down and everyday, choose joy! How much better would our life be if even in the midst of hard times, we chose joy. It would change us and it would change people around us. I honestly haven't even wanted to be around myself lately but I'm going to try and make that change to choose joy, choose abundant life for me and my family! The way to do that is found in God's word. The way to do that begins with being thankful for what we have. Enter with the password "thank you." (Psalms 100:4) Joy is strength and we all could use that in this world filled with so many challenges.

“Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:14-16‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Sunday, April 19, 2015


I am sitting here in silence in my home...silence?!  Yes, that's right. The boy is sleeping and the girl is with her grandma.  I decided to take it easy this morning since the next few weekends are so busy.  Am I the only one who needs these days? Silence doesn't happen very often with two children.  Boy do I love them, though.

I got the pleasure of reading my devotion in the quiet, man that feels so good. The one I read this morning is titled Bittersweet.  Here's a portion of it:
"Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet and that a life of nothing but sweetness robs both your teeth and your soul.  Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through......Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is nuanced, full of depth and complexity." -Savor by Shauna Niequist

The past six months I have been trying to come up with a way to describe this season of my life with transitioning from one baby to two, from fighting through postpartum depression and juggling everything from job to alone time with my husband, and now this word....this word spoke to me.  Bittersweet!  I would never ever change anything from this season and now I know.  These past six months I have grown and there have been some serious growing pains.  I am convinced that they have made me better.  Am I the mom, wife, friend I want to be?  No, not yet but I am closer.  This journey of motherhood and marriage will always be  challenging and I will always be growing. Thank God we don't have to go at it alone.

If there is anything I could pass on it would be that there is grace for the struggles, there is a God who cares, trust me, he cares.  Many times on this journey I have received words that I know were from him. He is always trying to speak to us.  Do we always stop and listen? No!  There are many times that I don't hear him until I am desperate.  In this season, I have been so desperate.  My soul has been like a barren wasteland but when I cried out for help, he was there.  Has everyday been easy?  Hell no!  (I hope that doesn't offend anyone but I feel that strongly.)  It has been a struggle to get out of bed some days, there has been a cloud hanging over me some days. BUT!....I kept going.  Know why?  My savior.  Not because of me and my strong will.  I am weak and when I am weak, he is strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)  Thank you, Jesus!

I could go on and on about everything but I will leave you with this, I know that I am not completely out of the dark cloud days but I do know that again and again I will be rescued.  There will be some bittersweet moments and there will be some sweet, sweet moments but each day I remind myself to be thankful. I have a beautiful family. I mean, have you seen them???  I have family and friends who care, a church family who are there and a wonderful job with some great people. So yeah, I am thankful and even on my worst days my heart is full of the love I have been overwhelmed with.

"When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow."-Savor

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The birth plan that did not go as planned

There we were in the hospital and there I was with some of my closest loves around me hearing the words I was always afraid of, "we are going to have to do a c-section."  Tears, there were tears for sure but in that moment there was also a strength that rose up in me.

The day before I was in labor all day off and on.  That night we made our way twice to the triage at Gaston Memorial. You can only imagine my disappointment when I wasn't progressed enough to stay.  By the time we got home and back in bed my water broke.  Here we go again. Now they had to keep me, especially with my track record of water breaking. My "birth plan" was to go all natural, I mean, if I could labor for three days with Raleigh, I could do this.  Ha! This labor was so different.  As soon as I got to triage my contractions were non-stop, no break whatsoever so I was begging for an epidural.  I've never felt such pain.  My "birth plan" went out the window.

My labor progressed very quickly but that morning it kinda stayed the same for several hours.  Turns out, the epidural relaxed me too much so they gave me some meds to bring my blood pressure back up and that sped my heart way up as well as Dalton's.  This is normal for some time but it was lasting way longer than normal.  At the first mention of a possible c-section, I was like "no way!" I had about an hour to try and push this baby out and I was determined.  It's funny how we have "our plans" and ideas of how things should go.

By the way this post is going you should know by now that I didn't push the baby out.  The little guy was posterior and his little head was comfortably tucked under my pelvis.  He refused to be pushed out. So, back to the c-section.  They suited Daniel up, prepped me and off we rolled.  We left all our family and friends in the waiting room to experience a birth that I had not wanted, had not planned, prayed against, spoke against and refused to ever believe for myself.  My hopes were for a smooth labor and delivery, after all, didn't I deserve that after what all went wrong with Raleigh?!  Sorry for the honesty but these were my selfish thoughts at the time.

I won't go into detail about the c-section.  I felt the surgery so it was actually pretty traumatic.  I lost a lot of blood so I had to have four blood transfusions.  In the end, I had a precious baby boy.

The whole week in the hospital I was fine with how it all went.  Those were some good drugs.  That Saturday I had my first and only meltdown. It was kinda like a death of a dream.  Some may laugh at this. Some may not understand my need for the "perfect" birth and that's alright.  I honestly don't know why that desire was ever so important to me either, it just was.  The hardest part of all of this was not understanding why my prayers and all the prayers from others were not answered.  I had believed so much but I'd been let down.  Why?!  I still don't know the "why."  I do know that I had my hope in the wrong thing.  I had my hope in my "birth plan" and was tragically let down.  How many times do we put our hope in other things besides God? We make plans according to our own agenda. We never know the big picture, the "why" but God does and we know that He is working everything out for our good, right?

Now I know that I had the perfect birth for me and my sweet boy.  I'm truly thankful for him and all of this modern medicine and ways to remove a baby safely.  It wasn't what I wanted or hoped for but I've learned and grown so much. I've learned to give my plans to the Lord and trust them in his hands and to put my hope fully in him.  This is the way to live life, the only way to experience true peace and joy in this Christian walk.

"And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you." Psalms 39:7

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


I am just going to be honest and put this out there.  It's not easy to be transparent but my hope is that someone can relate and be encouraged by my story. Lately I have been in a funk, for lack of a better word.  There is really no reason for it.  I have just been dealing with a bit of the blues.  The weather doesn't help at all!  Anyway, this morning I decided to open my Bible up to the Psalms.  I read Psalm 73 and verse 26 spoke to me;

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." 

It is so good to know that when we are feeling weak spiritually and physically, God is our strength.  These are the times that He steps in and carries us through.  So, I am going to stand on this and just believe that soon I will start feeling like myself again.  I will come through this time and I will be stronger for it.  I will be able to share encouragement to someone who needs it because I can relate to what they are going through.  I am thankful that in all circumstances, if we choose, we can come out for the better for ourselves and others.  That is what the journey is about.

Coming soon on the blog: James Dalton, the birth story

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Enjoying the now

How hard is it to find joy every single day of life?  Well, for me it is a pretty difficult task.  Even more so now that I'm a few days shy of 39 weeks pregnant.  There are so many days that I've wished away lately just praying that the next I'll be more comfortable or our baby boy will be here.  Sure, I am in pain and I'm ready for him to be here but I also want to enjoy my days and just live them out with joy.  I'm not even promised tomorrow.  Today I made a decision to just really try and enjoy these days until the baby arrives.  Soon, our hearts will welcome one more precious child and our lives will be forever changed.  I don't want to wish the last little bit away with my family of three just because I'm kinda miserable in my current physical state.

I guess I want to encourage all of you, all five of you that read my blog,  to live in the now.  Live on purpose. Make each day count.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring? We can only live in today. There will be hard days we have to get through but nothing gets through the hard times like finding the joy in everyday little things.  I don't know about you but I have a lot to be joyful for.

"Always be joyful, never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A call to compassion

This morning before our church service began there was a woman found on a picnic table bench a few hundred feet from where we gather that had committed suicide.  I apologize for starting this blog on such a sad note but I have something on my heart that stems from this mornings tragic event.  When I found out what happened I was first shocked and then very heart-broken.  A heaviness descended on my soul and I think it was the same for so many that heard.  I cried for this woman, I cried for her family and I cried for the sense of hopelessness that seems to flood people like this.

I began to think of people I may know who have that sense of hopelessness.  Quite honestly, if you don't know Jesus, you don't have hope.  It made me think about what a poor job I am doing praying earnestly for those same people.  What am I doing in my day to day life that infuses hope in people?  Not enough!

This mornings message was exactly what we all needed to hear.  It was a call to compassion.  Compassion is not a feeling, it is an action.  Compassion brings healing, it encourages, it helps those in need.  This is our calling.

There are people, like this woman, who need it.  Maybe she just needed someone to talk to.  We will  never know.  I pray for her family and friends to be comforted through all of this and we can only hope and pray that our lives begin to radiate such hope that this lie of hopelessness will be cast down.

May we, as believers, step up to our call to compassion.

If you are one of the ones who feel hopeless, I just want you to know that there is hope.  My pastor put it so well this morning.  He said "The only place that there is no hope is hell."  That's so true.  As long as there is breath, there is hope.

Psalm 119:114 "You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope."

"Out of the darkness we will rise and sing."

Friday, May 9, 2014

An encouraging word to mothers

"We are God's masterpiece.  He has created us new in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10

I thought of this verse this morning as I was thinking about all the moms out there.  I could really just stop here and this verse would be encouraging enough but I'll go on and share what's in my heart.  Truth is, if you are a mother, you need all the encouragement you can get.  We don't get it from our children usually, especially if they are babies or toddlers and don't even know what the word encouragement even means yet. 

In the short time that I have been a mom I have already experienced discouragement and even failure in the area of raising my daughter.  I know I am hard on myself and I compare myself to many wonderful moms I know out there, so it is my fault for ever getting discouraged in this department.  I've come to realize that I will make mistakes when it comes to parenting and being a wife but it's not the mistakes that we should be focusing on, it is how we handle the mistakes.  We pick ourselves up, swallow our pride and apologize.  Then, we walk in faith that we are being perfected by the Perfect one.  We walk in grace, knowing that we are forgiven.  We are God's masterpiece.  A long, long time ago he had you picked out to be the mother of your child/children and he knew what he was doing.

No matter if you are a new mom or if all your children are grown, just remember that you are God's masterpiece!  Don't focus on what you did in the past, the way your friends parent, the way the media tells you your kids should be, focus on the here and the now.  Cherish your children, cherish the fact that you were chosen to carry this great honor of raising the future.  What seems like a thankless job at times really is an investment into something so great. 

I am honored to know so many wonderful mother's, including mine.  Thank you Marmi for always being there and loving me even when I was difficult.  Thank you to my grandma who raised four children and even had a hand at raising me and even leading me to the Lord.  Thank you to my mother-in-law who raised an amazing son who loves his family deep, you did good. Thank you to my friend Carey, who I look up to as a super-mom.  You are a great example of a mom with so much grace and fun to boot!

Lastly, thank you to my sweet daughter.  Your love of life and compassionate heart has changed me in so many ways.  I never knew a love quite like this before you came along.