Life Lessons & What Remains

girl-flowers

I’m going to tell you about a few things I’ve learned in my 29 years of life so far.

At the age 2, I learned gummy worms are delicious, but the ones in the backyard are not. And being the thorough 2 year old I was, it took me biting into 2 of the little squirmers to come to the conclusion that these were not the rainbow colored treats that grandma brought over when she visited. To this day, I prefer gummy bears.

When I was 4, I discovered that my baby sister was not a real life baby doll; she did not need Audrey Hepburn bangs, therefore I shouldn’t practice my hairstyling skills on her. I thought I did a fantastic job and deserved an award. Mom didn’t agree and thought I deserved a time-out.

When I turned 6, I discovered that boys throw dirt at you when they like you. Why this happens, I still don’t know. All I do know is that my favorite Winnie the Pooh shirt was terribly mud-stained from JP’s crush on me in kindergarten. Tragic, I know.

When I was 10, I began to realize my parents didn’t know everything. The immediate years following this realization were an interesting time for my mom and me. I became Miss Sassy Pants and started thinking I was right all the time. I was shocked that everyone else didn’t agree.

When I turned 16, I discovered that no matter how hard my parents tried to teach me to drive a manual car, I was not at all coordinated enough to do so successfully. If stick-shifts were that great, then please tell me why automatics were invented.

At age 18, I realized being considered a “legal adult” didn’t at all make me feel like one.

When I was 20, I experienced how wonderful being in love was & how painful it was when it wasn’t with the right person.

At 22, I discovered how incredible it was to fall in love with my best friend at summer camp; and at age 23, what a fairytale it was to marry him.

At 26, I knew the heartache of losing a baby. And for the first time, I experienced the peace that surpasses all understanding.

At the age of 27, I was consumed by the beautiful experience of giving birth to my daughter and having her move from my womb straight in to my arms. Oh, that moment. I also discovered that the hospital doesn’t hand you a baby manual nor do they give a list of do’s and don’ts when it’s time to go home. I remember buckling her in to her car seat and looking at the nurse like, “You’re coming home with us, right? You do realize I’m not a grown up, right? I’ve never done this before. I can’t even keep a houseplant alive.”

Yep, I’ve learned a lot of lessons. Some of the lessons made me cry. Some of them changed my life. But the truth that has gripped my heart the tightest, has been this:

My God remains constant.

As an inquisitive toddler making important discoveries in the backyard, my God was there. Now as I’m raising my own toddler and trying to teach her that the toilet is not a pool for her baby dolls, my God is here.

Through heartbreak and joy, sending babies to heaven and holding babies here on earth, in brokenness and in restoration, He has remained faithful. He has remained good.

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Psalms 36:5

When my emotions are unstable, when my circumstances feel unsure, when my life changes, He remains constant. He is my anchor. He is my strength. He is my God. He remains faithful in every moment.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations… Deuteronomy 7:9

A Love Note To Who I Used To Be

sundress-336590_1280

To the girl I used to be,

I know you lay in bed at night and cry. You are surrounded by people, but feel so lonely. Your heart feels empty, yet it still aches. It’s constantly seeking love, but only finds counterfeit versions and temporary highs that make you feel loved in that short-lived moment.

But you are loved.

You long to be cherished, but you think the only way that will happen is if you keep pretending, keep acting like the girl you wish you could be. You don’t show them the real you, because you are terrified that it’s not enough, that you are not enough.

But you are enough.

The idea that someone would embrace your quirks, your imperfections, the real you, almost feels like a silly dream. But still, you dream. You work tirelessly to be beautiful, because you desperately desire for someone to think that you are beautiful.

But you are beautiful.

You will give in to fear and run away. You will not finish your college degree with everyone and I’m afraid that’s something you’ll regret for years. But it’s ok. Because of that, you will learn to work harder for what you want. You will learn to appreciate time, money and perseverance much more. You will have moments of feeling like you’re not as academically smart as everyone else, but you will soon realize the truth.

You are smart.

While many others take the direct route in life, you’ve always taken the scenic route. It may not be like you imagined, but please look around and enjoy the scenery. Don’t get caught up on little details.

You whisper to God through your tears, “Why are You holding on to me so tightly?”

But He will always hold you tightly.

Sweet girl, life is going to get hard. There will be a time where your world falls apart. But I promise, it will be ok. You will feel like a wanderer, like you have no home. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. One day you will look back and see that it was those first painful steps that set the direction in your wild adventure. With every step, even the ones you hesitate taking or the ones that make you stumble, your legs will grow stronger, your heart will become braver and your spirit will feel freer.

He will always hold you tightly.

You will marry your best friend. Don’t panic about not knowing how to cook, he loves cooking and you will not starve to death. You will find out that marriage is hard, but so worth it. Fight for it everyday. Focus on Jesus and your marriage will be clearer too. (And keep doing your impressions and telling your jokes. He secretly finds them hilarious.)

You will have babies. You will lose babies. You have never known heartache like you will during this time. But remember, He remains faithful. You will be able to more fiercely love others who are hurting because you too bear wounds. You will experience the heart of Jesus in ways you otherwise wouldn’t have. And it will change you. You will taste bitterness, but you will also taste the sweetest of blessings. Your babies will teach you about yourself, about God, and unconditional love.

He will always hold you tightly.

No matter what, love Jesus. He is your compass. You will see His fingerprints all over your life. So stay close to Him. And if you ever need a reminder, just listen. The constant rhythm of His heartbeat echoes His steadfast love for you.

You are loved. You are beautiful. You are enough. And He will always hold you tightly.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”  John 10:27-29

…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Life or Death

2315310261_8db6825857_z
Words.

They can be one of the hardest things to tame; faster and more powerful than an angry, raging river. With one swift motion, that small muscle we call the tongue can cut a heart in half.

Isn’t it incredible how something you can’t see or hold can be shared so quickly? Whether or not we like it, words can transform us. They can empower us, motivate us, or they can tear us down and shatter our very core.

Like you, I have been on both the receiving & giving end of other’s words. I have received hurtful words. I have given hurtful words. I have received words that gave me life. And I hope I have spoken life giving words.

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37

Every careless word we speak, we will be held accountable for. Yikes.

We are responsible for every single word that we give. If you’re like me, it can be all too easy to justify the words I speak by rationalizing, “Well, they asked for my opinion, so I gave it to them” or “They wanted the truth, so I told them.”

Despite how hard I try to convince my husband, my opinions are not always actually right. Even if the words come easily to me, it doesn’t mean they should be released. And just because I speak with conviction it doesn’t guarantee that the source of those words is pure. My heart can be deceptive. If left to it’s own devices, my heart can be jealous, angry and selfish.

“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3

 

There are many times I have to make the conscious decision to bridle my tongue. The more I’ve practiced “thinking before speaking”, the more aware I’ve also become about where my thoughts and words are coming from. Are they coming from a source of jealousy? Is that why I feel the need to say something? Inviting God into that place of my heart and mind has been a game changer for me. He’s revealed how untamed emotions like jealousy, anger, bitterness or frustration can disguise themselves as something harmless. If I give in to their ugly persuasion, they will surely rise up inside of me and try to escape through my words where they can do insurmountable damage. It is easy to hold back? Not always. Is it important? Yes. It’s absolutely vital.

I’m not talking about behavior modification. I mean allowing God into the depths of our heart so that the source of our words will be pure and holy and loving. Words are simply the manifestation of what’s going on inside of us.

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 

“Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.” Proverbs 11:12

If our first reaction is to “blaaaaaaaaa”, then let’s go to the source – our hearts. Let’s ask the Lord to show us the parts of our heart that we’ve kept closed off to Him & that cause us to feel like those words should be said.

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”        Proverbs 12:18