To the one Struggling: Hang on just a Little Bit Longer

One life saying that has gotten me through many hard trials and seasons of suffering is this, “The last catastrophe you thought would end you didn’t.”

In a sense, every time a new hard trial or task would face me, I would remember that the last time I felt the anxiousness, the fear of the unknown, the questions, and the heartache, I got through them. I am a standing testimony of the many trials and tests I have been through; and so are you.

You may be facing something old or something new that is rearing it’s ugly teeth at you, making you want to run as fast as you can away from everything. Whether it’s a sickness, anxiety, depression, a personal loss, a personal tragedy, a broken relationship, whatever it may be, let this encourage you. You’ve made it through hard things before; you were made to face hard things, and you can do it again.

There was a time in my life, in the pit of despair and anxiety, that I was walking outside. It was a beautiful day on the outside, but inside my mind was full of dark clouds of fear and depression. I remember walking and talking with God, and just telling Him, “I can’t do one more day of this. Please Lord, deliver me or take me. I can’t live like this.” Tears streamed down my face. Not hard sobs, no I had done plenty of that. These were just the remnants of what strength I had left, rolling down slowly. Each tear represented one more plea for freedom, one more begging request for ease to my soul.

I remember saying that to God and looking up at a branch above me. There was a bird and if you know me, you know birds are my favorite animal. They fly with such freedom; live with such a peace that God will take care of their needs. If they need food, they know where to find it. If they need shelter, they know where to go. I looked up at the bird and heard a still small voice, “Remember the last time you felt like this? You made it through. Keep going, I will strengthen you. Just like that bird, fly in freedom and know I am the supplier of your needs.”

I walked home, still anxious. I went to bed that night, still heavy. But I had a new way of thinking, I will make it through this too because He is taking me through it. I wanted my life to end that day if it meant carrying that heaviness one more second. Had I had my request granted, I would have missed the fulfillment of all of God’s promises and more in my life. At the time of this story I was single, childless, directionless, and weak. Now I am married to a godly man, have an angel baby in heaven and a baby here with me on earth, I have learned how to renew my mind in the Lord and fight against fear and anxiety, and I walk with hope for the future and joy in my heart. I couldn’t have imagined how much God would do between then and now. But that is my point. In the midst of your despair, don’t make decisions that can be permanent. Hold on a little bit longer.

Remind yourself of the last heartbreak you went through; you made it. Remind yourself of the laughter and joy and peace you have felt since the last time you felt anxious; it’s possible. Remind yourself of the other traumas and pains you have made it through; life continues. Sometimes we believe that the next catastrophe will end us…. then it doesn’t. I am not discounting your pain, your hurt, or your trial; what I am saying is there is hope for a future, so don’t give it up.

My undergraduate and graduate studies are in psychology and counseling. One interesting study I read once has really helped me through many tough times (I love when my faith and education combine; it’s beautiful). The study found that the “high” joyous times in our lives are not as amazing as we would imagine them. For example, you get that raise and you are joyous, but then come back down to a happy medium. But on the flip side of that, the “low” times we dread are not as bad as we imagine they will be. So when asked what you would do in a hard time, you imagine it way worse then it actually will be. Why does this help me?

Because when anxiety tries to make me dread something in the future, I remember that it won’t be as bad as my mind tries to make me believe. I remember that I am not alone to face hard battles; and if you find yourself alone on Earth, you are still not alone, because our God never forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). When that next trial or test or temptation comes against you, fight it with the strength of God instead of your own strength. Align your thinking with the Word instead of your “reality”. Thoughts stuck in a negative cycle? Make yourself think on good things, things of good report, things worthy of praise, things that are pure and true (Philippians 4:8).

One of the lies of the enemy in our lives is that we are stuck. We are stuck anxious, we are stuck depressed, we are stuck struggling, we are just stuck with no hope for change. But darling, let me shine some truth on that lie. You will never be stuck, not as long as you are breathing. 1 John 4:4 says that He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world! That means whatever is coming against you, you can know for a fact that the One on your side is more powerful. Then why isn’t He working on my behalf, you ask?

Sometimes when God is trying to work, we can be working against Him. If you know you struggle with a sin and continually open yourself up to it, that is a matter of self discipline. Pray for wisdom and self discipline and He will give it to you. If you are continually choosing relationships with people who are abusive and in bad lifestyles, don’t continue to choose those relationships. Pray for discernment in people and good, godly relationships. If you know that you tend to be pessimistic and negative in your thought life, don’t be a slave to your thinking, renew your mind and make your thoughts come into alignment with the Word. Surrender every part of your life to God, and let Him do His work while you do yours.

All of this is to let you know, that if you are in the midst of a life storm and struggle, whatever it may be, it is not your last chapter. It is not your end. Life will continue and you will get up from this. And there will be laughter again, and joy will spark your heart once more. Peace will be there waiting for you and love is still alive. What is barren will bear life, what is dry and thirsty will be quenched. What is dead will be brought to life. Don’t lose hope, and don’t be a prisoner of your struggle. Instead, be a prisoner of hope. When life tries to force your hand to succumb to despair, instead choose to remain a prisoner of hope (Zechariah 9:12). Be in a place where you cannot stop hoping for change.

Know that whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever struggle you are enduring, keep enduring and hang on just a little bit longer. I am praying for you in this season and know that what was meant for your ruin, God will use for your good (Genesis 50:20). I love you all and pray for you earnestly!

Single and Searching: What to Look for in a Godly Husband

Dating was such a difficult thing for me to do after I had been hurt. There really was only one word to describe the whole process of dating and seeking my future husband: fear. Fear enveloped every part of my thought process when it came to my promise. What if I choose wrong? What if I get hurt again? What if fear stops me from ever going after my husband?

It was so bad that for about 5 years straight I couldn’t go past one date with anyone. As soon as I got home, my mind went over all of the reasons that person wouldn’t work and why they weren’t my husband. I remember when I went on a second date with my husband, my mom said, “He’s the one, because she actually wanted a second date.”

Now it wasn’t because I was “too picky” and couldn’t be pleased. Really it was for many reasons. But one of the main was because I had not met the one my soul was ready to fight for yet. When I met my husband Tyler, I was finally ready to fight the fear of vulnerability and intimacy. You may struggle with those same fears too. “If I let myself be vulnerable, I will just get hurt again.” “How do I know he isn’t just like the rest?” “How do I know this is the one God has ordained for me?”

During that time I was so wishing there was someone who could walk through the process with me; a woman who had been through it before. So I thought that maybe someone reading this is going through the same battles and it may help.

I remember many times in my frustration and loneliness, someone would tell me, “There are plenty of people to date out there, you just have to put yourself out there.” And having been saved and committing my life to God, I was looking for a Christian man who was ready to be married and committed. It felt as though, honestly, there were no men my age who were committed to God and was ready to be committed to a wife. They were all playing the “Christian” game, but the fruits in their lives didn’t really show it.

I remember yelling at my mom, “There are no good Christian men out there!” I really felt that way. And I was afraid to date some because every time I tried, it felt like they said they were godly men, but their actions spoke otherwise. I didn’t want a counterfeit; I wanted the one God had for me, who would pour into my life in a godly way, and not try and take from me.

During this time I remember praying, “How will I know?” And God said so plainly to me, “You will know by their fruit.” So I will go over some things I learned to look for in a godly husband, and how I learned to be free of fear and trust God in the process.

One of the first things that let me know Tyler was my husband, was that he was immediately respectful and pure. Even when he messaged me on Facebook for the first time, it was a picture of a bear waving hello. There was no “Aye girl how you doing?” or “You’re cute, what’s your number?” He was respectful in conversation and really just wanted to get to know me. Ladies, if you are looking for a godly man, he isn’t going to speak to you disrespectfully because he will know who you belong to. Watch out for men who flatter with their tongues a little too much; compliments are one thing but when it crosses the line make sure you don’t cross the line.

As we started dating, I noticed some things about him that caught my eye. Not only was he respectful of me, he was respectful of everyone around him. He has one of the greatest servant’s hearts I have ever seen. He treated his mama well, he served his Gran Gran (who is in a wheelchair) without even being asked, and he was respectful to people like waiters and store clerks. A red flag to look out for is someone who is rude to others; if they don’t have a servant’s heart, they won’t be able to serve well in marriage.

Now you may think I am crazy, but one thing I firmly believe in is to state clearly your goals and purposes behind dating. If you want to get married…. tell them you want to be married. Don’t date someone who doesn’t have the same goals as you and then get frustrated because they don’t want to change! On our first date, I remember saying, “Listen, I want to date for marriage, so if you don’t then this isn’t going to work.” I know… I cannot believe I said it either, it just came out! I remember he took a second and then laughed, and with his beautiful smiling eyes I love so much, said, “I do want marriage too.” You see the one for you will not be turned off by your blunt personality (if you have one). You won’t have to change your silly sense of humor or looks for them. Another red flag is that if you feel you’re having to mold to fit better for them… they probably aren’t the one for you.

I struggle pretty heavily with self-esteem. There are many things about myself I do not like. I remember one night at Sonic, Tyler was wanting to hold and look at my hands. My hands are one of my biggest flaws in my mind; I think they are far too big, long, and ugly. I kept pulling my hand away from his and he got frustrated. “Why are you doing that?” I said, “Because I hate my hands.” He looked so confused. “Why? Let me see them.” After many tugs away, I finally let him hold it. He then looked at my hands and then glanced at me. “I love your hands.” And he went on to tell me why he loved them. Then he made me say something else I didn’t like about myself. “My eyes… I wish I had blue eyes.” The he told me why he loved my big brown eyes. We went on until I had named everything off; and tears went down my cheeks. He had touched my soul in a way no one else had. And none of it had to do with sexual attraction; he wanted me to know that he loved everything about me. Ladies, find a man who lifts you up. Who scares away all of your fears. Because one day you will give birth to a baby and your belly will be softer with stretch marks, and you will wish you had a man who still looks at you like you are the sexiest woman alive. Because he loves you and not your looks.

I was very open about my fears with dating. He walked alongside me through anxiety attacks, tears, and fear. He made me write down my fears on a piece of paper. From being hurt to being alone. He then went through each one and told me why I didn’t have to be afraid, pointing me back to God. Find a man who will continually point you back to God in your struggles, who will remind you that you serve a God Who can take care of all of your fears. Because one day you may be in the bathroom floor, just having a miscarriage and in your deepest pit of despair; and that husband will be the one to point you back to a Faithful Father you are mad at. Who will guide your soul back to peace and love in the midst of so much pain.

It’s important who you sign up to live the rest of your life with and become one with and I could go on and on about the many reasons why I knew my husband was my own. He has so many beautiful characteristics that continually make me want to be better and more like him. But I will leave you with a quick list of reminders.

1. God has someone for you. He said it was not good for man to be alone. There may be a small few called to celibacy and singlehood, but it is not many. Marriage is holy and is the best teacher of our souls. So hold on to hope and do not rush into something out of loneliness. You will know when your soul finds it’s pair.

2. Watch for their fruits. If you are dating someone who is not bearing godly fruits in their lives, then it is wise to step away. If they are angry a lot, mean, disrespectful, or pressure you to into sexual things, but proclaim to serve God, then you need to take another look. A godly man will point you towards God, protect your purity, and treat you well.

3. Listen to the Holy Spirit. We do not serve a quiet God Who doesn’t talk to His people. If you sincerely pray that God would let you know what His perfect will is, He will let you know. It is your job to listen and obey, and not go off of your own flesh and will. If you ever find it hard to pray for God’s will to be done in your relationship, it may mean that your flesh is fighting your spirit. God’s plan for our life is so perfect. I remember thinking that I had found my husband once, and God asked me to end that relationship. I found out later on after being married some scary things about this person, that would have destroyed a marriage. What may hurt for a little while, is not worth the hurt that comes with disobeying God and marrying the wrong person.

4. If you want to be married, date for marriage. Dating for “fun” is not really a biblical principle. It is not “fun” to continuously give parts of yourself away to many different people, all to find yourself feeling empty and still alone. I lived that lifestyle, of constantly needing someone to be interested in me. It led to hurt and loneliness, and a heart that had a wall around it. Had I just let God love me and make me whole, it wouldn’t have been so hard for Tyler to break down those walls. If you want to be married, your heart is not your own. Think of your decisions as impacting your future spouse, because whether you think they will or not, every decision you make impacts your future relationship. So, if marriage is your goal, make it clear to those interested in dating you (maybe not as bluntly as I did), but you get the point.

5. Lastly, marriage is not your ultimate goal. Marriage is holy, amazing, and definitely one of the best decisions of my life. But getting married and being a wife and mother, those things are not and should not be what you live for. Yes, I am so happy God blessed me to be Tyler’s wife and John’s mother, but my first purpose is as His daughter. My first goal is to serve God with my whole heart, mind, and soul, to do what He created me to do. If you are in a season of singleness and marriage is all you can think about, try letting yourself fall in love with God. Try serving God for the sake of serving your King, instead of hoping your obedience will lead to a husband. Marriage is a blessed thing, but it is not everything. Remember your season is a beautiful season to enjoy! Singleness has many perks that marriage takes away. So enjoy your season, hope in God, and serve Him however He asks.

I remember someone told me that the best way to find your spouse is to run towards God so fast, that one day you happen to look over and see your spouse running next to you. You may find them when you stop looking.

So, all of this to encourage you on your journey. Do not just give yourself away to the next cute person that shows interest in you. Be wise in your choices, prayerful in your decisions, and let the Holy Spirit lead you to His perfect will. I love you all! Happy (future) homemaking!


Cry it Out: My Sleep Training Experience

Parenting is not about what is convenient for us, but what is best for our children.

Okay, so the last time I checked in I had attempted sleep training and failed hard. After a night of no sleep, again, and failed naptimes during the day, again, I decided it was time to try again!

I read something about sleep training that changed my perception. Babies are not born knowing how to sleep correctly (sounds weird when thinking about the fact that they are born sleeping almost 20 hours a day at first). But seriously, they do not know how to sleep CORRECTLY. They need to learn sleep cycles, falling asleep, staying asleep, all of the above.

And as with everything else in your child’s life, it is your job to teach them and parent them on how to sleep. So sleep training is not cruelty or putting a distance between you and your baby, it is simply the next step in parenting: teaching your sweet angel how to sleep.

Sleep is a wonderful thing! It is when our bodies store memories, reenergize, and heal! So it is extremely important that your baby learns how to sleep well for their best benefit (and lets be real, it can help you get a bit more sleep too).

So now that my perception changed, I tried sleep training this week. There are many different ways to sleep train: cry it out method, Ferber method (going in at different time intervals to soothe baby back to sleep), the chair method, etc. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to sleep train your baby. As with all parental things, you know your child the best so you know what will work best for them.

My son is a hyper little boy who loves to be with his mama at all times. So as soon as I attempted the chair method, he went from deep sleep to hyped up at the fact that mom was sitting next to his crib (which must mean play time)! So knowing my son, I knew what was the best method of sleep training: cry it out.

Now you may think that I am a horrible mother for this and trust me I told myself that too. But after some serious thinking I realized this was the only way he would ever learn to sleep on his own. From birth I went from breastfeeding him to sleep to rocking him to sleep. He had never known how to fall asleep without me present and would never learn unless I was out of the picture for a time.

So the first night, I fed him his bottle, rocked him to drowsiness, and laid him in his crib with his lovey pooh. I told him I loved him, kissed him goodnight, and walked out of the room. Immediately, he cried. And then he cried for 50 minutes straight. And then I cried for 50 minutes straight too. It was the hardest night of my life and many times I almost quit. But my husband encouraged me with the statement that helped me through the rest of the sleep training: “Parenting is not about what is convenient for us, but what is best for our children.”

So he finally fell asleep. And that night it took him only 30 minutes to fall back asleep. And the next day he napped in 10 minutes. That next night he fell asleep in 16 minutes. And so on and so forth. It is now day four of sleep training and he fell asleep in about 15 minutes for his nap. A little crying, some cooing, and some rest.

Now I started sleep training at a hard time. Teething. His top two teeth have popped through this week. You may think that makes me double horrible, but honestly besides Tylenol there is not much I can do for teething. And he will need to learn that sleep is good for times of not feeling well. So when he is older he can sleep when he has a cold, or a nightmare, or is sad. The point is when he wakes up, mama and daddy are still there. But he is able to do something without us.

And essentially, that is the whole point of raising children. Teaching them that they can do stuff without us; raising them to be independent and strong. So, my way of sleep training has worked with him. He still loves me, he is not traumatized, and he is sleeping so much better.

So if you are attempting sleep training, this is not to tell you to do cry it out method. It’s sharing my story and encouraging you in the midst of a hard step in parenting. Research the different methods and try what works best for your baby! And make sure you are ready to start before doing it. The first time I tried I wasn’t quite ready to commit. The second time I was, and it has been successful.

Parenting is such a journey and full of ups and downs. But our goal is to raise strong children who are capable of doing things without us, but always reminding them that mama and daddy are there if they need us. Through many tears, much mommy guilt, and consistency, John is sleep trained and I am realizing that I did what was best for him, even if it was hard for me.

So, be encouraged! Do what needs to be done, because essentially making a home is full of tasks that we don’t want to do but needs to be done. So, good luck and Happy homemaking!

#Momfail: Sleep Training is Hard

So yeah. I just need to talk and vent about my frustrations lately. Baby John is about 8 and a half months old. He is what I call a “random sleeper”. He sleeps through the night for a little bit just to get my hopes up, and then he wakes up 3 times in one night, just to throw me off his scent.

Lately I have been doing the thing all of us mom’s are vulnerable to… comparison. I saw a friend post about her 3 month old baby “sleeping through the night” and I just got frustrated. I was tempted with the usual thoughts: “Am I doing something wrong?” “She’s a better mom than I am.” “What if something is wrong with John?” And you get it. All of the usual thoughts.

So I went to researching all of the sleep training methods. Ferber method, cry-it-out method, and the chair method. I rock John to sleep for his naps and bedtime and I enjoy it very much. But I don’t enjoy it in the middle of the night so much. So last night I decided to start sleep training. I chose the chair method which is essentially sitting next to the crib as baby learns to fall asleep on his own and then gradually moving the chair further and further away each night.

So I fed him, got him drowsy, and laid him in his crib, thinking he would go to sleep and everything would be awesome. However, he instead goes from almost asleep to full out crack addict kicking his legs, squeeling, crawling to his mobile, standing up and “talking”. So, as the directions stated, I laid him back down and said, “It’s time for bed. Shhhh.” And sat back down. He then continues to act like I gave him an entire can of coke prior to bed. I tried and tried again and completely failed. Didn’t even get close.

I sat back in the rocker frustrated and he went to sleep. This post is not about sleep training (maybe I will learn something and be successful and I will share it later). What it is about is the comparison trap I fell into. Part of me wasn’t even ready yet to stop rocking John to sleep because I love that moment at night when his eyes are drifting and he curls my hair around his finger or touches my face gently with his hand. But because of comparison I tried to force him and myself into something we weren’t ready for.

So we will try again when we are ready. And I will enjoy the season I am in now to the best of my ability. Because one day he will be too big to rock to sleep. His legs will hang down to my knees and he will want to stretch out in his bed alone. One day he will want to sleepover at his cousins and I will be at home missing him. One day his bedroom will be empty as he is away at college or married and moved out.

Sleep will come again. A clean floor will be in the future. But all I have is now with my baby. So I’m going to enjoy rocking him to sleep and cuddling him in the night. I’m going to cherish my messy floor and sticky table. And I’m going to hug a little harder and be still a little longer.

So if you are being tempted to compare yourself with other mamas or daddys, just stop. Breathe. And remember what you have and be thankful. Happy homemaking!

What it Means to have a Miscarriage

This post may be hard for many to read, but I realized that not many people talk about this subject. Not nearly enough women share their stories with others, their struggles, grief, tears. For such a heavy weight, we seem to feel like we always have to carry it alone. Is it shame? Guilt? Fear?

I’m not sure why we don’t discuss miscarriage. But I feel it heavily on my heart to talk about. I promised to talk about the real, the bad, and the ugly. Here is the real.

I remember when I found out I was pregnant. I was in the Walmart bathroom because I couldn’t wait to find out. That line showed up and my heart leapt for joy! I headed straight to Babies’r’us with the little bit of break I had left to buy a onesie and gift for my husband to surprise him with! Father’s day was approaching in a month and I decided what better thing to do then buy a “#1 dad” shirt.

When I told him, we shared a hug in joy and immediately had to go and tell our families. We couldn’t wait to share the news! We hadn’t been planning a baby, but we sure were so joyous to know such a blessing was coming. The next month passed uneventfully. My morning sickness dissipated pretty quickly; I thought I was just lucky.

That Father’s day weekend is when it happened. I remember we were discussing buying a home because we wanted to have extra room for the baby. We went to Home Depot and my back was hurting so bad. Having past sciatica pain, I didn’t think much of it. The next morning I went to get groceries by myself so I could spend the rest of the day with my husband. When I got home, I spotted for the first time. It was only light pink. I immediately texted my sister and mom to make sure it was okay. “Well, as long as it isn’t red and clotting, you should be fine.”

My heart was in my stomach, I knew something wasn’t right but I had hope. I prayed and texted my husband who immediately came home to be with me. We went on with our day, both carrying a heavy worry with us. That day the spotting continued. We went to see fireworks that night and I remember so badly wanting to enjoy the moment, but my heart was hovering over that little baby in my womb, trying to protect it while I could.

The next morning on Father’s day, I woke up to more spotting. And cramping. Each time I went to the bathroom I dreaded having to wipe. Fear gripped my heart but I had to have hope. I had to.

We went to dinner with my father and I had to run to the bathroom. My sister (a nurse) came with me, and saw the clotting when I wiped. I still remember her look, because although the words I heard were reassuring, the reality had set in for both of us. We left early and my body went into labor as I sat on my couch. I began to shake because I had never felt such pain in my entire life.

We hurried to the hospital and I felt like I was walking on air as I made my way into the waiting room. I had to tell the woman at the front desk why I was there, “I think I’m having a miscarriage”. I felt like someone else was speaking, but the words came out. As I stood up from the desk chair in the middle of the lobby I felt the gush of blood come out. It was running down my legs and getting all over the lobby. I began to shake.

They immediately got me back and every where I walked, blood followed. They wanted me to pee in a cup. It was only blood. I told the nurse I couldn’t do it. I wanted to throw up. There was so much blood in that bathroom, I even felt guilty and was apologizing to the nurse for the mess. Tears consumed me. I dare not look in the toilet but I did and I saw my baby. That still haunts me to this day.

When I went in my room my husband’s eyes met mine and he could only utter, “Oh God.” There was so much blood he didn’t know what to say or do.

What was really ironic was I was begging for pain to come back. Because after the gush, the pain stopped. And I knew what that meant but I didn’t want my mind to go there.

An interesting point about me and my husband is that we were both twins in the womb and both of our mothers lost our twins.

I remember sitting on that hospital bed, about to have my first ultrasound, hoping, begging, praying that there would be a baby. That maybe I lost a twin too. God please let there be a baby. In walks my ultrasound tech who just happened to be 8 months pregnant (that one hurt). She wheeled me into the room and it took me a while to get the guts to look at the screen. Empty.

Empty was a good word for how I felt in that moment. My first doctors appointment was supposed to be in two days. Instead it was going to be him having to make sure I was that word again: empty.

I can’t begin to tell you the grief that comes with a miscarriage. You only understand if you have been through it. There were no words, no scriptures, no prayers that helped. Every dream we had dreamed up, the names we had called out, the prayers we had prayed for that baby, all gone. I sat in my bathroom floor and weeped for weeks. Because what people don’t talk about is that you continue to bleed for weeks. You have to go to your doctor and “make sure” that you have completely passed your pregnancy.

How horrible it was to go to my first visit and see an empty womb. What was supposed to be a joyous day was a day of pure torture. I remember looking at my husband and asking, “why” as we stared at the screen. My doctor told me the usual. It is very common for first pregnancies to end in miscarriage. There’s nothing I could have done to stop it. It wasn’t my fault.

I wish that those words would have helped but I went home and felt, well, still empty. I had bought the baby some classic Winnie the pooh dolls because that was what the nursery was going to be. For the longest time I couldn’t pass the nursery without wanting to throw up. Those dolls just laid there in the bassinet my sister had let me borrow. Mocking me.

We got pregnant right away (unplanned). And John was born a month after our first baby was to be born. And I felt guilty for feeling happy, because without losing my baby, I wouldn’t have the baby I’m holding. It is such a weird moment of joy and grief mixed together. It is so hard to describe.

To have a miscarriage is not just to lose a baby. It’s to lose a whole life that you dream about when you see that line show up for the first time. It’s to grieve all of the kicks and somersaults in your belly. The cuddles, kisses, and hugs. A part of you and your spouse, gone.

It wasn’t just a pregnancy, it was my baby. I still grieve over my baby. That week I prayed begrudgingly to God, to at least let me know whether my baby was a girl or boy. That night I had a dream that I was holding a small baby in my hand that was sickly and grey. She was beautiful and looked like my husband. And in the dream tears ran down my face, as I said, “Her name is Grace.”

I woke up bawling my eyes out because although I was mad at God, He was good enough to let me see my baby girl, Grace. When I had John in the hospital, I thought of Grace. When he smiled at me for the first time, I thought of Grace. When I see baby girls, I think of my Grace.

When you have a miscarriage, there are many things to do and to not do. But I will leave you with the things I learned.

1. Let yourself grieve. Do not try and cut off what you feel too early. You lost a child, it’s okay to not be okay.

2. Let yourself feel ALL of the emotions. The anger, fear, sadness. I was so mad at God. I didn’t understand. “You let a drug addict have perfectly healthy babies and you take mine?!?” I yelled at Him. I was so angry and hurt. But in the midst of that pain I also knew He was the only place I could turn to. And I truly feel like He held me, like a Father holding a child who doesn’t understand pain quite yet.

3. Let yourself remember. When time passes and the grief gets a little less heavy, let yourself remember that baby. I think about Grace, and I let myself cry (as I am right now). I let myself think of her, in heaven, growing and maybe watching her parents attempt to raise her brother and thanking God she got a free pass (I say this with a smile).

If someone you know has gone through a miscarriage, please do not throw scripture at them. Please do not throw the trivial, “Everything happens for a reason”, “You will have more kids, don’t worry,” or the “It’s all in God’s timing.” Do not go there. You will only tear a deeper gash in an already deep wound. Just learn to be there in the midst of grief with another. Bring dinner, a hug, a comfy blanket. Don’t bring “wisdom” you know nothing about.

The most healing moment for me was when my mother in law came over. She sat next to me and with tears she simply said, “I know.” And she hugged me and I weeped.

The grief doesn’t ever go away but you get stronger to carry it. My mother still cries over her miscarriages 26 years later. Because they aren’t just “lost pregnancies”, they are lost children and it’s okay to say that. There feels like a stigma that because it was “too early” or you “never saw a heart beat” or “never held them” that it somehow discounts that you were once carrying life and now it’s gone.

So you grieve that baby, you remember that life, and you celebrate it. Because although that baby was here for just a little time, it’s life deserves to be celebrated and cherished.

If you are going through a miscarriage or have recently gone through one, just know that I love you and I know. Time passes, wounds heal, and you get stronger.

“Weeping may tarry for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5

The Anxiety Train and How to be Free

Picture yourself, standing at a train station. It’s crowded, loud, busy, and yet it’s a lonely place. Although many are surrounding you, loneliness still encapsulates you. The train stops and it looks familiar. Although you have taken this train too many times, and dread the course, you still get on, because it’s familiar territory. On the train you go, taking your same old seat, next to the same old people. One’s name is Fear, the other Worry. Across the aisle from you is Doubt, and Doubt’s friend Defeat. You lift your chin to see who is in front of you, and once again Anxiety is dressed in the brightest, most deafening of attire. Depression sits next to him, sulking in the shadows. You turn and look out the window, ready for the trip. Knowing it leads into a darkening spiral that seems to never end. During your trip, your fellow passengers ask you the same questions, “How can you go on living like this,” “Who do you think you are,” and the all covering question, “What if…..”.

 Fear asks you, “What if you die from this? What if you will never be free of this trip?” He looks at Worry who asks, “What if you cannot afford your bills when you get off? I have heard you aren’t quite making enough these days. Not to mention, what if you never lose the baby weight? Surely you are worried if your husband will still find you attractive?” Doubt walks over, interested in the conversation, and asks, “Yeah, what if God never answers your prayer for healing, and what if God does not even hear your prayers? Surely if He heard your prayers you would be off of this ride. What if God does not even love you?” You take a deep breath, ready because Anxiety and Depression walk up. Anxiety says, “What if you always take this trip? What if you never get off this ride? What if you never achieve anything in life?” And Depression adds in, “What if life is not worth the hassle? What if you never find hope for joy again? What if… what if… what if…. “

This ride seems to take a lifetime, and your reserves are emptying. Exhaustion, weakness, loneliness, isolation, hopelessness, darkness. You feel as though there is no end in sight, yet at the same time the end is all you hope for. I have been in that place. I have taken that train ride way too many times. The train stops, and relieved, you get off, hoping to be delivered from the heavy presence of Fear, Worry, Doubt, Anxiety, and Depression. You take a step off the train watching your feet so that you do not stumble and look up. It is the same station you left from. Busy, crowded, lonely. The train leaves and you walk around seeing steps ahead that you aren’t sure where they lead. Behind you arrives the next train, that takes the same route, to the same destination. Will you get on again?

Above is an excerpt from a book I am writing. You see fear and anxiety controlled my life for a very long time. I had automatic returns to fear. When something happened, fear was my companion. When there was unknown, anxiety was my answer. I was so smothered with the never-ending cycle. Until I became free.

You see I read all kinds of stories about people dealing with fear and anxiety. And my heart breaks because there never seems to be any hope present in them. When I was going through it, I couldn’t find anyone to tell me, “I made it through.” And that is what I craved!

I promised that when I made it through, I would tell the world so that they could have hope! It was a slow process, but God freed me from fear and anxiety. It took everyday renewal of my mind; every day taking captive every single thought that came against the knowledge of Christ. Every day making sure I didn’t let a single negative thought go through my mind without telling it to go away and answering it with the truth.

It was a lot of hard work. I wish there had been an easy way out. But it took understanding the roots of my fears, the fruits of my fears, and the answer to my fears. There are 3 things I would tell you to do today if you want to begin freedom towards peace.

1. Understand the Roots

Fear and anxiety are not overnight processes, they are thought patterns and behaviors that take years to form! So it won’t be an overnight process to be free from that way of thinking either. Anxiety is not a character trait; it is a thought process.

So first you have to understand what it is that is causing you anxiety. At first I believed there wasn’t a clear reason, I just felt anxious. But as I continuously listened to triggering thoughts I realized my root of fear was a wrong view of God; I was so afraid to fail Him and that He would punish me if I messed up, that I was afraid to take any steps in life. It wasn’t until I understood this root, that I was able to start my healing process.

2. Understand the Fruits

Roots always grow fruit. Anxiety, depression, and fear are all fruits of something. Whether it’s wrong thinking, believing, trauma, you name it, there is something that has led to your mind believing that anxiety, fear, and depression are it’s answer.

I was in my undergraduate studies, studying abnormal psychology at the height of my anxiety. I was so terrified I was mentally unstable; that because I was dealing with anxiety I was somehow a bad Christian and something was wrong with me. I thought I was broken.

I was not broken but my thinking was broken. Joyce Meyer calls it “Stinking Thinking”. Our brains filter our experiences; what we think, we do and feel. Understanding that my anxiety was a fruit of wrong thinking helped me to know how to fix it.

3. Know the Truth, and You Can be Free

John 8:31-32 says, “If you abide in my Word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Even though I have my degree in psychology and counseling, I actually didn’t go to one counseling session during this time. Not that it is wrong to, it just wasn’t on my path to freedom.

I truly became free through the Word of God. Even when physically looking at the Word gave me fear and anxiety, I still read it. Because I knew that it held Truth and that Truth was my answer.

The day it all clicked was the day I read 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgement] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].”

You see, my fear came from expecting punishment from God and not being perfected in His love. When I realized how much He loved me, that He had good plans for me and not plans of destruction, I realized there was nothing to fear. Sounds real easy right? I still battled anxiety after initially reading this scripture, but it gave me my answer. I sought God’s love and Truth, and renewed my mind daily.

If What if showed up with a negative present, I answered it with a positive what if. What if you never get married, it said. I answered with, What if my husband is waiting on me tomorrow. What if you are never free of anxiety? What if my God delivers me and uses my story to heal others!

Your mind is a battlefield so don’t allow it to flippantly think and feel whatever without realizing that it is going to affect you.

So I hope that this testimony brings you hope. That it lets you know freedom is available to you!

Marriage Hurts but Marriage Heals

Marriage is the most difficult and beautiful thing I have ever experienced. Both hard and easy at the same time. Sounds impossible right? But it’s true. I find marriage both as natural as breathing and as difficult as rock climbing rope free up a 750 foot mountain (that escalated quickly).

Marriage, how I understand it, is the unification of spirit and flesh; two spirits and flesh becoming one. That’s why in the flesh marriage hurts; and in the spirit, your marriage can heal.

My husband and I just recently went through one of those “fun” growing times together. Personal struggles and relational struggles came together to a pinpoint which led to a perfect storm of tension and conflict.

The hurts of marriage come when one flesh fights against itself, injuring the other part as if it were somehow separate. Harsh words, wrong thoughts, selfish actions, all of these come against the flesh of your marriage and attempt division and anger.

Satan is against your marriage from the start, I hope you know that. That’s not to cause fear or trepidation, but it is to cause you to be on alert and stop treating your marriage so trivially. He wants to divide and conquer; divide the marriage, conquer the family. And all we have to do is look at divorce rates to know that he is somewhat succeeding.

I believe it’s because so often we live in the hurt factor of marriage without ever touching the healing portion. We allow the fleshy part to rule over the spiritual and then wonder why our “godly” marriage pictures that of the world.

We got to the pinpoint and realized that it was time to fight back. We put the baby to bed, came together and battled in prayer. We asked for forgiveness from one another, we confessed our sins to one another, and we reminded one another of our vows and love.

And although there had been hurt, surrending the fleshy part of our marriage to God, allowed for His hand to come in and bring about the most beautiful healing my spirit has ever felt.

Tears, smiles, kisses, and redemption all met together there in complete surrender. It was a glorious moment in our marriage I know we will remember forever. All it took was surrender; surrender of pride, surrender of bitterness, surrender of expectations. All of it, tossed into the hands of the One Who carries us.

I say all of this to bring hope to the broken marriage or the single person afraid of taking that step into marriage.

Amidst a world that only highlights the brokenness of such a holy covenant, there is another side of complete restoration and redemption that is available as well.

I’m not here to say my marriage is perfect and we are doing everything right (obviously). What I am saying is after a week of trying to do it all on our own and in the flesh, we found it was so much more beautiful to hand it over to the Father.

So take that step of surrender. Confess your sins against your spouse, whether that’s bitterness, anger, unfaithfulness. Request forgiveness and make sure to forgive. Remember why you chose marriage and love and continue in it. And let God do His beautiful work in your lives.

Happy homemaking is about making your home happy and holy. And a strong marriage will do the trick! Love you guys!

Be Still, Don’t Feel

I love the movie Frozen, and I cannot wait to have a daughter who will enjoy singing along to it with me! One of the lines in the oh so famous song, “Let it Go” says, “be still, don’t feel” and now you’re singing it in your head. You’re welcome.

With Disney plus out, I have been binging on Disney movies and watched Frozen this week. And this line has stuck in my mind. Not because this is the most catchy song ever, but because God spoke the same thing to my heart. Be still. Don’t feel.

Now you may be thinking, wait, God told you not to feel? And you would be exactly right. But God gives us feelings and emotions? Why would He tell you not to feel?

Because our feelings are a part of our soul that needs redeeming and sanctification every day, the things I feel may not always be from God. Sometimes I have to weigh what I am feeling next to the Word of God in order to know what is of Him and what is of myself.

This past month has been tough for me spiritually, personally, and mentally. God has been pruning me of myself, taking away selfishness, impatience, anger, and so many other things (why are we so messed up???). It can get very overwhelming in these seasons because it feels like no matter where you turn, you are being shown another bad part of yourself, and it really starts to weigh on you. You question everything about yourself, trying to do everything in your own power to fix yourself.

But I believe that is the hardest lesson in the midst of all of this; learning to be still and let God fix me. Letting Him finally be God over my life instead of me attempting to maintain control ALL. THE. TIME.

Now on to feeling. In the realness and vulnerability I promised to have on this blog, I had some rough feelings this week. With my selfish nature and impatience coming to the surface, you can only imagine tensions between my husband and I have been at an all time high. And because I have been so fleshy, I have not relied on the Spirit’s guidance but rather myself. So that has led to me overthinking, over reacting, and feeling/thinking up a false narrative about my husband, all because I did not choose to surrender my flesh to the leading of the Spirit.

So what starts as a small misunderstanding grows into feelings of division, separateness, bitterness, and anger. All because when a thought and feeling appeared that was contrary to truth, I decided to hang on to it rather than get rid of that garbage. And it continued. And continued. And days later I am literally a dumpster of feelings and emotions. An emotional wreck.

I was so anxious and in so much turmoil that I finally in my stubbornness decided to turn to God and hear what He had to say (should have done this sooner). And He tells me one line, “Be still. Don’t feel.”

1. Be Still. I needed to still myself in Him; rely myself completely in Him, and let Him speak truth to my mind. I needed to allow the Spirit to reveal my messiness so that it could be healed, rather than rely on a broken mind to filter my experiences through. Had I done this sooner, I would have realized that what I am going through is called purification and I need to lean on Him harder than ever before.

“Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

“The Lord will fight for you while you [only need to] be still [keep silent and remain calm].” Exodus 14:14

It’s time we actually start practicing what we claim all the time. If we claim that God is Lord of our life yet continue to disallow Him to reign, are we hypocrites? I know I haven’t been surrendering like I should, and that needs to change if I want to live in the Spirit and not the flesh.

2. Don’t Feel. Feelings, although real, are not always true. Your feelings only have as much merit as they align with the Word of God. If they speak anything contrary, then it is a lie, and needs to be made obedient to Christ.

“We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Thoughts and feelings not aligned with the Word of God destroy our lives. My feelings this week, had I continued in them, could have destroyed my marriage. My feelings could have broken a family apart. Feelings and thoughts are serious matters, and that’s why we are told to take captive every single thought. Those feelings that I was having were allowed because of pride, selfishness, and bitterness.

So I leave you with some wisdom God gave me this week. Stop feeling and thinking toxic things you were never meant to carry. We have the minds of Christ, and are given specific guidelines on what we should be thinking about and letting in our minds. If it’s contrary, make it obedient!

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].” Philippians 4:8

Just a simple switch of my feelings and thoughts from lies to truth led to one of the most redemptive, healing, and merciful moments I have ever had with my husband. A moment of God’s pure peace, grace, and restoration in our marriage. No it wasn’t a BIG problem; but taking our small issues and handing them to God protects our marriage from big cracks in the foundation. So there is no problem too little to take seriously in your marriage.

I urge you to watch your feelings and thoughts. Don’t let unredeemed, broken things tell you how to live, react, and carry out your life. Let God be the one Who reigns even over your hearts, minds, and emotions.

I love you all and hope that through some of my hard lessons you can learn to be still and don’t feel every feelings and thought thrown at you from the enemy.

Happy homemaking! Go make your home a place where God reigns!

#Momfail: They All Fall Down

Can I just be honest and vulnerable here? This week has felt like a non-stop strand of mom fails. Non-stop.

Have you ever just messed up so many times you just feel like stopping? Or running away? Or just crying? Or maybe all of the above? That’s been me this week.

So John has been accelerating in movement. I’m talking crawling, pulling up on furniture, moving from item to item, trying to LITERALLY JUMP OFF OF STUFF. I’m pretty persuaded he wants to injure himself.

It’s one thing if babies hurt themselves when you’re not watching, but to have them hurt themself everyday when you’re just two steps away is pretty frustrating.

Let me let you in on this week. He fell off the bed, he hit his eye on the dresser knob (don’t ask me how), he’s fallen from holding on to the table about 15 times, slipped in the bathtub and got water in his face, and the list goes on and on.

It has really made me question my ability as a mother this week. I am sucking it up real bad at the moming. I know all babies fall down, especially when learning to move their little bodies, but at the same time you can’t help but blame yourself when it happens and you can’t stop it!

In all honesty its just been a really hard week for me in general. As a mother and wife I’ve been going and growing through some things. I have felt like no matter how hard I try, I end up failing. I’ve been studying the fruits of the Spirit and ironically feel like I’ve done nothing but walked in the flesh this week. Impatience, anger, frustration. Just falling on my face, over and over.

And as I write this, maybe that’s the whole lesson for me this week? Maybe God is wanting me to realize, like babies, we all fall down. But scripture says the righteous man falls seven times but gets back up.

So, if you’re a mama who has failed this week? Get back up. If you’re a wife who has been naggy a little too much, get back up. If you’ve complained instead of being thankful, cursed instead of blessing, or have really done a bad job at portraying Christ, my answer is this: get back up.

Keep pursuing holiness and not perfection. Keep pursuing His strength and not your own. Keep leaning all of yourself on Him completely.

Paul says that he boasts in his weakness, because where we are weak, God is strong! (2 Corinthians 12:9)

God’s grace is sufficient for you AND your clumsy little baby.

I love you guys! Happy homemaking!

The Power of a Lie: Breaking Free from Perfection

Perfectionism is not a fruit of the Spirit, but joy is.

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I don’t know if I’m the only one, but if I accidently mess up a clean piece of paper, I have to tear it up and start again. I hate that I can’t just move on with a mistake and not think about the imperfection, but sometimes my brain won’t let me. It screams out the mistake over and over until I give in and start again.

I’m the same way in my day to day; if something about myself or others isn’t just right, it screams at me and I can’t find peace. Sometimes this pressure for everything to be perfect in myself spreads out to those I love, and I try to fit them in the same “perfect” box and get disappointed and frustrated when they don’t fit.

I find myself getting irritable, aggravated and sometimes naggy when I believe this lie of Perfectionism. I told God recently that I don’t want to live this way anymore. I’m so tired of walking daily in this lie of Perfection. It’s a heavy weight to carry.

Yesterday I was feeding the baby and he was getting his oatmeal everywhere! Every bite he would take, he would rub his mouth and then the rest of his face, and then the high chair. I was trying to chase after every spot of oatmeal with a wipe and getting frustrated at him. At yelled, “Gosh John can’t you just eat clean???”

And I stopped myself (or God stopped me) and thought, “He is eating like a baby eats; dirty, messy, imperfect.” And I started to cry because I realized if I don’t change myself then I can pass on this attitude to him. And I don’t want him living in the lie that everything has to be perfect all the time! So I gave him another spoonful of oatmeal and I let him spread it all around . And then I even made myself wait to clean it up for a while after he was done.

I let that basket of laundry sit in the corner of the room for a little bit while I played with John and watched his face light up at new discoveries.

I let the dishes sit in the sink after dinner so I could cuddle with my husband before bed on the couch instead of feeling pressure to get it done immediately.

You may be different, but the way I combat this lie on my mind is to fight against it. I don’t have to have it done ALL the time. And that’s okay.

I lived under this pressure that if everything wasn’t picked up, cleaned up, in its right spot, then I was failing as a wife and mother. But in reality by focusing on a false perfection I was ignoring life in the moment to finish tasks that could wait.

Laughing with my son, slow kisses with my husband, rest for my mind and body, were all passing me by as I rushed from task to task. So I have learned to stop and enjoy. Those things will be waiting, but my family is growing and living and moving so quickly.

If you live in the lie of perfectionism, you can be free of it. It takes renewing your mind and knowing your worth is in God and not in your works. It takes self control to say no to your brain when it is yelling out your daily tasks instead of enjoying the moment with your family. It takes you dropping pride and realizing you will never reach perfection. Ever.

And I’ve realized that messy life is beautiful; because it means life is being lived. When a home is too busy trying to be perfect, often it stops being what we want it to be, home.

So what if my living room has toys in it and no longer looks like a magazine cover; that’s where my family laughs, eats, grows, and lives.

So what if my bed isn’t always made or there’s bath toys strewn all over the bath tub. That means we got sleep and a little boy had a blast.

So what if there’s a sink full of dishes. That means my family was blessed with some food!

So what if my belly is a little soft from having a baby and I didn’t lose my pregnancy weight as soon as the baby came out. My husband loves me and my body and that’s all that matters.

I’m not living with pressures to be perfect anymore. Its not worth the stress, weight, or exhaustion.

Enjoy your families. Enjoy your homes. Enjoy yourself, flaws and all.

Let your family breathe, play, laugh, and make sure you are letting yourself be free too.

And when it comes down to it, perfection is not a fruit of the Spirit. It’s usually a fruit of our flesh ruling, pushing us towards a self outside of relying on the Lord. An attitude of, “I can do it all.” And we can’t do it all. You can’t do it all.

I hope this helps you break free from the lie of perfectionism and just relax! Go have fun and as always, happy homemaking.