Monday, December 30, 2013

where feet may fail : a testimony


I have often lived my life, this life, attempting and hoping to dodge pain. Mostly subconsciously. 
But, just the same, I have tried to tip toe and hope my way out of it all.
Painful experiences, physical pain, the pain of loss, the pain of grief, the pain that fear brings.Who likes pain?
 I have come to the conclusion that life is not about making it through without experiencing pain and discomfort in some form and in some way.
Matter of fact, I would dare to say, it's not about "if I experience pain" but more so "when I experience pain." 

These last couple weeks, quite unexpectedly, I got to experience the "when" part of pain. 

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness..." (James 1:2-3)

The husband and I went in for a fetal specialist appointment to check in on our baby girl.
And in the midst of an in-depth ultrasound, the doctor discovered a large tumor on my left ovary. 
About the size of a grapefruit large.
And in those beginning moments of trying to figure out and understand if it was real and what it was I could feel the heat rising into my cheeks and all the panic and fear rushing in.
There was no tip toeing around this. 
And in my mind all I could manage was to ask the God of strength to give me that same strength. 
I was teetering on an edge. 
Walking a fine line at that moment between faith and despair that would follow me for many days to come.

This tumor had to come out. We couldn't rule out 100 percent if it was cancerous or not.
The danger lay in the fact that baby girl was going to keep on growing. And she would eventually pop the tumor. If it was full of cancer, those cells would spread rapidly and wherever.
We were submerged at this point. It was Friday, and the surgery was Monday.

The possible risk of losing our baby girl in the midst of this was the hardest and most painful thing I have ever had to swallow.
The thought was unbearable. 
The only thing, and I mean the only thing, that brought comfort was believing that God, my God, had knit her together. He was and is the author of her life. And mine.

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made..." (Psalm 139:13-14)

You know that worship song, the one called Oceans?
Where it talks about feet failing?
I have sung that song a lot in church the last few months.
But, I couldn't quite get that imagery out of my head during those few short days before surgery.
I was walking through a storm, out onto the water with all the waves rushing about.
And there He was. Calling me to come, in faith, and hold onto Him.
And my legs were buckling under the weight. My feet were failing.
I would have never chosen this Lord. I would have never chosen to grow my faith like this. 
Isn't there any easier way?

"Come, I will carry you. I will give you the faith and peace to look above the storm."

And with shaky legs and moments where I felt like I was crawling, I clung to Him.
I asked God to do the miraculous on our behalf. On my behalf. On my baby's behalf.
 I asked for His glory to be shown in this. I cried for healing. I asked for peace.

Though my feet failed He never did.
Two weeks ago, I walked into a hospital clinging to the Word of Life and His words.
And four days later I got to walk out with a baby girl that is still alive and well and growing inside me.
And a tumor that has been completely removed with preliminary results showing it as not cancer.
And though there is healing. Physical healing that is painful in some regards.
He never let go.

You see, I am convinced we can not carry ourselves when the pain comes. And others can not either.
Where can we go when our legs start to give way and break free under us?
Where can we look when those storms roll in?
Where does all our hope and trust begin and end?
Are we ready?

Jesus.

He died for me, to carry me when the pain comes.
He experienced the ultimate pain so I would never walk alone in mine.
There is a greater hope and a greater story and all this world and life has meaning now because of the cross. Even the pain. Every pain. It has meaning. He works good out of the things that try to destroy.

Your feet may fail you at some point in your life. Mine did.
He has been waiting to walk with you, maybe even carry you, through the pain.
That's where His glory is shown the most.





In case you haven't heard Oceans by Hillsong United

And I also want to say "thank you" again to all those that were praying so faithfully for me, Erick and baby girl these last couple weeks. Some of you I have never met face to face and I am humbled and so very grateful that you carried our burdens with us. Our God is full of mercy. Thank you.



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas




 Can it be possible that in only two weeks it will be Christmas?
I just want to absorb the whole season a little longer.
And if I am honest, I feel like sometimes I am grappling for the Christmas of my childhood in the midst of the busyness that creeps in to this season as I get older.

I am being more intentional this year. 
Taking time to appreciate the small things wrapped within Christmas.
Like those first few snows that we have received this year (crossing our fingers for a white Christmas) and the little prints you find undisturbed and imprinted in it.
It's those simple things that point to something greater: the heartbeat behind Christmas. 
I've been reading "The Greatest Gift" by Ann Voskamp. 
And it has been such a powerful reminder of the reason we have hope during this season. 
The reason we have hope for this life. 
Jesus.
I need that reminder.
One of my favorite quotes from the book so far:
"The answer to deep anxiety is the deep adoration of God"
Seems so basic. But, how often do I misplace this idea, not just during this season, but throughout the year?
 I am keeping it close and letting it filter how I view Christmas this year.


(p.s.the advent cards are from the talented Naptime Diaries. I purchased them last year and I love them so.)












Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Wish List for Him



1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 

 Thankfully, the guys in my life are never too difficult to shop for. 
And that's about five guys total. Including the husband.
But, none the less, I thought it would be helpful (not to mention interesting) to allow an actual guy to compose this wish list. 
Might as well go straight to the source, ladies.
So, I asked my brother-in-law (Kory) to give me a list of what he would ask for during this Christmas season. 
And he delivered. 

There's a mug for the man with a little inner nerd. 
Which, according to the list maker, fulfills that need in his life.

And if a man is going to be lounging around in sweats, he might as well be doing in it in a slimmer, more festive version.
Personally, I don't think you can go wrong with a good pair of Chuck Taylor canvas shoes. 
And that's partially because I have the same pair. No big deal.

So, enjoy the fruits of Kory's labor when it comes to this list.
(Hey, thanks Kory)
And do tell, what are you getting the man in your life this Christmas season?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas Wish List for Her


1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9


Alright, I must confess that this compilation of gift ideas for the lady in your life is just slightly selfish.
 As in, we could title this: "Ashton's Christmas Wish List"
Simply because I would not mind receiving (or giving) any one of these gifts. 
 
The links to everything can be found above. 
But, I have to mention that the first time I tried Dr. Brown's Soda was in the lovely city of Charleston at this quaint deli-style restaurant. 
And it was the best root beer I have ever had. The only difference being that I drink diet root beer. 
So, now you know it must be really good if I can say that about diet root beer. 

And those rings from Lisa Leonard.....I am seriously putting those on my list. 
One with Erick's name on it and one with baby girl's name. 

And don't even get me started on those Minnetonka boots. 
 But, that's just me. 

What is on your Christmas list this year (to give or receive)?




Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Calling all the mommas

 This little girl is going to be my very first run with motherhood.
 I have already acknowledged and admitted to myself that I have a lot to learn.
And to some degree, experience is going to be my teacher.
My little girl is going to be teaching me at the same time I am trying to raise and pour into her little life.
And I know I am going to mess up. Make mistakes. Have to try again, by the grace of God.
Never stop walking in that grace.

With that said, there is just a lot of information to take in when you are welcoming a little one into this world for the first time.
And while I fully recognize that every child is different. And parenting preferences are different.
I sure do love hearing other people's stories and opinions.
And I have a lot of questions. Some of them silly. Some of them maybe not so much.
 I thought it would be a shame to waste the wisdom of all the mommas out there I know by not writing this post.


I know that so many of you are the strong mothers that I look up to.
You are doing it. Raising a little life (or more than one!).
And rather than me trying to decide what books to read or not to read first, I just want to hear from humble experience.
That's y'all.

So, would you consider this a humble q+a of sorts?
The type where we sit down for a cup of coffee. Or a cup of tea. Whatever you prefer.
 And I ask silly questions that don't feel so silly to me right now.
I would just love to hear your perspective. All you mommas.  
What has worked? What hasn't worked?

Feel free to comment on one question or two. Or all of them.
And add in whatever trinkets of wisdom that experience (or some other lovely momma) has taught you along the way.

1.) What are the items you would consider absolutely necessary to register for (specific brands and items are much appreciated). Items that you really appreciate and love for your baby. I'm talking diapers to strollers here.
 I am in the midst of this process right now....and it's a little overwhelming.

2.) What is your experience/opinion on feeding schedules? Did you establish a set schedule for your baby or just feed them when they want to be fed?

3.) How do you feel about immunizations? Are there certain ones that you decided not to get?
(I know this might be a little more of a controversial topic....but I've read a lot of articles about the growing concern with certain immunizations for babies).

4.) What would you consider to be some of the necessities that should be taken to the hospital on delivery day? Lay it out for me people.


5.) This is a purely selfish question. But, I need jeans. That fit. Any stores that you would recommend to buy maternity jeans?
I'm barely 5'2 and petite.....so, if you have some insight on that as well, I already love you.

6.) What's one nugget of wisdom (that can apply to anything within motherhood) that you wish you had known beforehand?


And if you have anything else you are itching to share, now is the time.
I greatly appreciate all you mommas that have been such an inspiration to watch.
And I really appreciate the fact that you took the time to respond to some of these questions.
I will take them all to heart.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Baby GIRL




About a week ago Erick and I found out that we are having a baby GIRL!
And we could not be more thrilled and excited.
Ironically, this was my first big ultrasound and we were not going into it expecting to find out what we are having. But, because of my Type 1 Diabetes I am scheduled for a lot more ultrasounds and earlier ones just to make sure everything is going well.
It was just a really amazing surprise to have the ultrasound tech ask us if we wanted to know.

I suppose I don't know how to put words to the emotions and feelings that came over me when the tech announced it was a little girl in there. Growing.
Erick and I had a really strong hunch that we were going to have a girl (we even had a name picked out).....but, just hearing those words.

I could not stop crying, lying there on the ultrasound table, just watching my little girl move around. And man oh man, she is a mover. And probably a shaker at that.
Seeing her little hands raise up and down, watching her feet kick, I was just overwhelmed with gratefulness. And love. Crazy emotional love for a little person that I haven't even met yet.

I mean, they tell you about this sort of thing before you become pregnant.
You hear the stories about the weird connection between mother and child.
But, you know, it's like anything that can not be fully expressed in words. It has to be felt.

I pray for her little life every single day. Sometime more times than I can count in a day.
I pray that God will keep her healthy and protect her from anything that my body is not doing right. And the Lord knows, there is a lot that my body does not do right every single day.

But, she is my miracle baby. She is the child that I prayed for over and over.
She is the baby that we waited 3 years to have. She is the child that I built hopes and dreams for.
The baby that pointed me to God's Word over and over again for comfort and strength.
The child that I have fought for physically. She is the answer to so many prayers on our behalf.

It was the culmination of all those things, seeing her on that screen, hearing her heart beat. She is a precious gift from a loving God that heard my prayers for a child. She has been and is being knitted together in my womb by a creative God. She was His idea.
And even now, I know she is greatly loved.

So, I am collecting all these thoughts and memories. Gathering them up.
Scooping them into my arms by the bundle full and holding them close to my heart.
Treasuring them as we wait on baby girl to make her appearance in this world.



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A little fall trip 2013








Every year my husband's family takes a little fall trip to northern Michigan. It usually takes place over a weekend. The date usually fluctuates on our "scientific" ability to predict peak color in the region. And you will most likely find us driving in caravan type fashion looking for our next adventure. We do brake for caramel apples and cider donuts.....and other various food groups.
 
Going off the beaten path usually leads to a lot of stops and turn arounds and frantic attempts at trying to get our iphone gps to cooperate. But, eventually, always eventually, we find the place that we are scouring for. Because during the fall in Michigan one is constantly in search for the next beautiful thing. The next fiery tree. The next path. The next hill to climb. Or in our case, sand dune. It just never gets old. And I don't think we ever get tired of it. 
Sometimes the path to the most beautiful things requires a little work to get there.
But, I am reassured that it is always worth it.

I recognize that fall is coming to a quick close. At least in these parts. We are starting to see sputterings of snow. Letting us know the season is about to shift and alter once again. The last few leaves are beginning to tumble and roll away with wherever the breeze is taking them.
But, every fall, as our family bumbles through the woods or takes the millionth picture of a tree lit up in glory, I am reminded that exploring God's deep and wide creation pours into us as well.
 
There is really so much to be looking for in every season.
Even if it takes a little work to get there.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Our big announcement.....


 We are having a BABY!
(In case you haven't already heard on some other form of social media.)

I hope this explains why I have been missing in action from this space for quite awhile now. 
The first trimester really is not messing around as far as getting down to business goes.
Hopefully, I will be more consistent in my time here now as I just reached 12 weeks this past Thursday and I have felt a lot better these last few days.
The husband and I are so very very excited. 
We feel overwhelmed with God's provision and His goodness to us.
 And of course, we can not wait to meet baby J (in reference to our last name) or "nugget" as my brother has so affectionately labeled the little one.

This baby is an answer to so very many prayers. 
And we would greatly appreciate your continued prayers for the health of baby J and myself as I learn to balance my diabetes in this new role. 

Baby J will be welcomed to this world May 2014. 



Friday, September 6, 2013

girl style// a girl and her tote


 Girl Style: dress: banana republic factory store / belt: j. crew / shoes: marshals / bag: target (found here)

I have a totes problem. I also have a problem with squinting. But, this post is not about my lack of eye wear. It's about totes. And my fierce love of them.
I spotted this tote during one of our Target runs about a month ago. They happen often.
And I was instantly sucked in. Love at first sight.
Instantly, I started rationalizing all the things that could be carried in it. Practical. The deal was done.
I could not see my fall days without this little bag.
And it has proven to be a stable relationship so far. It carries whatever I stuff in it.
Practical things and the not so much. But, more than all that, it filled the void in my heart for a bag that felt like a thick rug. And we all know that those voids run deep.
Here's to many more escapades my little tote bag.

Wanna' know where to find some other note worthy totes?
Look no further because they are HERE, HERE, HERE & HERE


Friday, August 23, 2013

let it go


I awoke this morning with those words staring back at me, somewhere in my mind.  
"....because they are heavy."

Yes, they are indeed heavy.
The thoughts and worries and stresses and fears and insecurities and messed up plans and concerns that all filter their way into our thoughts.
I hold the door for them and usher them in with a greeting.
And maybe a cup of tea and the invitation to stay awhile.
But, these "things" start to take root.
They stay longer than intended. They bury down deep. They visit with a resounding fear inducing message. They steal peace.
And I have, unintentionally maybe, allowed this to happen. To carry on.
I have reached the point where I want to let it go. To see it float off into the horizon.
Forgiveness and the releasing of fingers so tight around it.

But, when I awoke with these words tracing through my brain, I had to wonder: How do we let it go?
How do we have enough strength to release something that is so painful?

Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. ....For my yoke is wholesome and my burden is light and easy to be borne. (matthew 11: 28 & 30)

The words strike my consciousness.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills--from whence shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (psalm 121:1-2)

Another blow.

I am not capable, in my own feebleness, to let things go. Even if they are heavy.
Even if they are crushing the life and strength and joy and peace right out of me.
Even if they are playing through my mind like a broken record.
The heaviness is daunting. The heaviness may break me. But, the heaviness does not release my death grip.
I recognize the need to be free. I am weak. 

 ...lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (psalm 61:2b)

There it is. I know this deep down. I know HE is the source. What does it look like Lord? I question over and over. What does it look like to let this heavy go?

Peace I leave with you; My peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. (john 14:27)

Submit. The word itself stifles. And it ruffles feathers.
Being humble and compliant. Placing myself under the shelter of a good God that wants to take the heavy.
A synonym for the word in my hasty search: obedience.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (psalm 91:4).

And I begin to recognize all this: As I release this heavy burden. As I willingly submit it to Him. He is the faithful one. By the supernatural power of His Holy Spirit He takes all the weight and lifts it away. 
Maybe it will take time.
Maybe I will try and snatch it back. But, He promises to be faithful.
He promises to work the good thing in me.
He promises to be my shield.

I surrender my will to His. I submit. I let it go. And He is faithful.


...and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 corinthians 3:17)



 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

guy style // girl style // all about those shoes

 Guy (brother-in-law): Button down: J. Crew/ Jeans: Levi's/ Boots: Clarks (see bottom link)/ Girl: Top (also seen here): H&M/ Skirt: Banana Republic Factory Store/ Belt: Banana Republic/ Shoes: J.Crew Factory (similar here)

Hey y'all. I hope your weekend was fantastic.
I feel kind of blasphemous for uttering the word "fall" right now.
But, there it is just the same.
Michigan has allowed summer to rise again this past week as our temperatures have been reaching the low 80s.
So, I fully recognize that we are definitely entering the transitional weather stage.
Which sometimes seems a little harder to prepare for.
But, if there is one thing that I love it is transitional footwear.
And I consider flats and certain kinds of boots one of those things.

They just work in so many weather situations.
And if you are like me, I tend to wear a lot of neutral colors.
So, a shoe with a little pizzazz and a little suede is pretty much as crazy as it gets over here.
I like to pair the "unexpected shoe" with one of those neutral outfits.
It fulfills our need during this transitional weather phase and it brightens up a more straight laced wardrobe.

So, what are some of your favorite transitional weather pieces during this month of August?
And more than that, do you enjoy experimenting with color and texture when it comes to your shoes?

Here are some shoes that I think fulfill all of the above for the ladies: HERE & HERE
And for the dudes: HERE & HERE

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

7 things I have learned during 7 years of marriage

Erick and I are celebrating seven years of marriage today.
Yes, I have used the cliche' "time flies" about a hundred times this week. 
And even more so: "time flies when you are having fun"
But, it's true, is it not? 
We lose track of the years and then one day we realize "hey, it's been awhile"

I've been pondering what makes a marriage last these days. 
It becomes burdensome if you ponder it too long.
 Because, I think at the core all of our hearts ache for that perfect example of love that Jesus so clearly gives us. 

 And in truth and full disclosure, Erick and I do not have this whole marriage thing all figured out. 
Matter of fact, we are still growing and learning together. 
So, it would be a mistake to assume that the things I am about to share are perfected in our relationship. Because, we are still learning to put them into practice.
We are two imperfect people in an imperfect world.
 But, we are trying to run after our perfect Savior together. 
And He makes all the difference. 

So, with that, I humbly submit to you 7 things that I have learned to be important in these past 7 years of marriage. 

1. Keep Jesus at the blazing center::
Of  everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything. I think this is really a daily choice for me. A daily commitment to keep Christ at the center of my marriage and to actively pursue Him together. We are striving to keep Him at the center of all the decisions. The center of finances. The center of every day life. Because fullness of joy comes from Christ. And He is love.

2. Laugh together::
I really don't think that this needs much explaining. But, Erick and I don't take ourselves too seriously. We laugh. A lot. We crack jokes. We reminisce about funny things. Some of the best moments during the last seven years have been when something was "so hilarious" that we were laughing until we couldn't breathe. 

3. Be the closest of friends::
Erick was my best friend when we were dating. Erick was my best friend when we got engaged. And he is still my best friend now. I have heard that friendship is sharing the way you look at the world. And so I really value our conversations about anything and everything. I enjoy looking at the world with him and sharing all that it has to offer.

4. Share, discuss, and talk about what God is teaching you as an individual::
This is something that I'm not sure comes easy to me. But, I have learned how important it is to have "God-sized conversations" with Erick. I really feel like it goes back to "iron sharpening iron". 
You hold each other accountable. So, I've just learned to share regularly what God is teaching me through His Word. Talk about the hard things. Talk about the things that feel deeper. Talk about the struggles.
I think it's one more way for us to keep the most important the most important thing
We can challenge each other to grow.

5. Make the time::
Simply put, I have realized that one of the greatest testaments to my relationship with Christ is actually my marriage. I am called to love my husband the way that Jesus loves me. And that needs to be a priority. It doesn't matter how many ministry opportunities I am involved in if the largest ministry Christ has given me is suffering. In the end, my marriage and how I love my husband is going to speak louder. 
So, at the end of the day, nothing is more important than helping that relationship to grow. Make the time. 
Value the relationship. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance.

6. Do something together. Share it::
I think this plays into being good friends. But, Erick and I love going on adventures together. And that encompasses everything from sitting on the couch with our milk duds having a movie night to traveling across Michigan. We have found the things that we really love doing together and we do just that. Find those things. And share them together.

7. Communicate. Always.::
This is practically my mantra. I believe so strongly in keeping the doors of communication constantly open. Erick and I tell each other everything. We do not keep secrets from one another. 
Except for those times that I am trying to surprise him with all three seasons of Duck Dynasty on DVD. 
But, even then, I break down. :)
More importantly, when we have a disagreement I know that this is when we need to communicate the most. It becomes the hardest during those moments because of our natural tendencies. 
But, it is beyond valuable to sit down and hear the other person's heart on a matter. 
Choose to believe the best about your spouse and take the time to talk it out.   


I would love to hear from all you other married ladies out there! 
What are some important things that you have learned throughout your marriage?



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

guy style // girl style // we're baaacccckkkk


Guy (brother-in-law): Jean vest: Rue21/ T-shirt: H&M/ Pants: Rue21/ Shoes: Toms/ Girl: Jean vest: Maurices/ Dress: Thrifted from a good friend!/ Belt: Loft/ Shoes: Restricted (found at Marshalls)

It just so happened that this Sunday my brother-in-law and I showed up to church wearing jean vests. 
No pre-planning texts involved.
And being that this is indeed a true story, I decided:   
Hey! We should start up these posts again about personal style (if you want to call it that). 
It just felt like the right thing to do.
 A jean vest omen of sorts. 
And so we went for it. 
But, after taking multiple pictures where we looked injured, sad, or slightly out of sorts.....we just decided to go with the mood of the day. 
Which as it turns out was ridiculous. 
So, the one serious thing that you can take away from this post: we are back. 
  And we really like denim. 
 

I think these are all swell jean vests at a variety of price points: HERE & HERE
And for the gentlemen out there: HERE & HERE

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Charleston, South Carolina // Pt. 1


Back in mid May Erick and I took a vacation to our second home: South Carolina.
We especially wanted to visit Charleston because we never had the chance when we lived in the state of SC. I know, that sounds like a major fail on our part.

We planned a good block of our vacation in this lovely city. And we were not disappointed.
It has to be one of the quaintest places I have ever set foot in.
Everything there practically begs you to take pictures (as you can tell from the insane amount included in this post).
And it is just so walkable and charming.
The old character of the city had me grinning from ear to ear.
 Just ask Erick: I could not stop talking about the buildings. It really spoke to my love of all things aged.

We stayed at the charming Zero George Street Hotel while we were there. This was really a highlight to our trip as the hotel really embodies the spirit of the city. It's on a quite street that is in really close walking distance to the bustle of the everything. The historic houses that line this area were just amazing.
We loved our experience there and would definitely recommend it if you are planning a trip to the area.

There is so much to take in there and Erick and I spent most of our time on foot.
I feel like that is the best way to experience Charleston.
Slip into your walking shoes and just start roaming down streets.
Your bound to stumble upon a lot of history and charm everywhere you turn.



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Remembering God's faithfulness over waffle fries and Chick-fil-A sauce


I almost started crying as we walked into Chik-fil-A after a full day of driving from our home in Michigan to our stop in North Carolina.
Erick and I were on our way to South Carolina. For a vacation of sorts.
We were planning on spending some time in Charleston and then heading to what we like to think of as our second home in Columbia, SC.

Almost two years ago now we set off on what was probably the craziest thing we have ever done as a married couple.
Or it sure felt crazy at the time.
We packed up our apartment and kitty and moved to Columbia to attend a Bible college.
In a lot of ways to just actively seek God's will.
We wanted to be flexible.

We only ended up living there for about 6 months.
And there were a lot of hard moments in those 6 months.
 A lot of tears and homesickness.
But there was something else in all that as well.
Something that I had experienced many times before in my young life but never on such a deep level.
The faithfulness of God. 

There was something about walking into that little Chik-fil-A that brought a surge-- a complete rush of memories and emotions to my mind.
It felt like I was coming home. Even though home was technically 800 miles away.
It felt comforting. It reminded me of the deep faithfulness of God that Erick and I experienced during those 6 months.
And so my eyes became misty as I dunked waffle fries in Chick-fil-A sauce.

I wrote a lot of our experiences down in a journal during that time. 
I did not want to forget.
As I so often do forget the amazing acts of God on my behalf. 
And I knew that someday I would need to remember.
I would need to be reminded that He has not ever left me. And He is always near. 

You see, I cannot remember ever  praying as hard as I did during the time leading up to our move and all through it. 
In some ways those simple prayers of faith were basically me declaring that I knew God had called us to go.
I didn't understand it. 
But, I knew He was leading us regardless.
He would have to be our provision and make a way. Because we were about to attempt the impossible in the world's eyes. 
Erick was quitting a job he had for five years in a bad economy. We needed to find a place to live in a 3 day trip. We had no jobs lined up. And both of us were going to attempt attending college again.


Friends, I cannot recall how many times God blew doors open. Every need was meant for us to get down there. Every single one.

There were times that the rent was due and we didn't have enough. 
And right at the last minute we would receive a random check in the mail.
Or we needed groceries and somehow God provided them. 
A package would come in the mail. 
Suddenly we would receive an encouraging note with Scripture. 
It was supernatural provision. It was our faithful God. 

You see, I am convinced of something. 
If God has led us to do something and we are obedient to that. 
Regardless if we have all the answers. 
Regardless if we understand the logistics.
I believe He will work it to completion.
He will meet us there in our weakness and lead us through. 
He will be faithful when we are faithless. 
He will hear our broken prayers in the night. 
He will make a way.
And someday in the future, possibly over waffle fries, we will be able to look back and say: 
"Remember when God did that?"
"Remember?"


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

some michigan love::::influence network


Welcome fellow Influence Members! I am so glad that you are here!
AND I was absolutely thrilled to read about the theme of this link-up hosted by the Influence Network.

It is no secret that I love my state. And I really do enjoy talking about it. 
I grew up in Michigan. And it's no surprise, I still live in Michigan.
Many Michiganders (yes, we have a name for ourselves) fondly refer to our state as "the mitten".
You know, because of the shape and all. 

I grew up in a very small Michigan town. We are talking two stoplights here people.
Since those days there have been a couple stop light additions. But, it's still small. 
If you are assuming that I grew up frolicking through the woods and running through fields and shoveling snow half of the year....you would be right. 

I grew up constantly being outside and my younger brother and I found our entertainment in taking trips to the library (among other odd adventures).
True story.

Simple beginnings. Maybe humble ones. 
But, I wouldn't change that for anything. 
I believe that I have deep appreciation for my state and God's design in creation and exploring it all because of where I grew up. And how I grew up. 

Fast forward to now: my husband and I live about a half an hour south from where I grew up and a half an hour north from where he grew up.
That's right. We have strategically planted ourselves in the middle of both of our families.
And really we enjoy many of the same things about where we live:
Michigan sunrises and sunsets. 
Our Great Lakes and the beaches that surround them.
Every quaint and unique town along the way. 
Should I mention we (as in Michiganders) have our own island? 
We love the heavy white snow in the winter.
And the colors of the leaves in the fall. 
Matter of fact, we are stoked on having 4 distinct seasons.
We love biking down trails and walking through woods.
Quite simply, we really love our state and all that it has to offer. 
It has been an adventure growing up and living here.

I am looking forward to reading more about where YOU grew up and the state you call home!




Monday, June 10, 2013

A smorgasbord of topics. And some pictures.


Happy Monday all! 
Hopefully your weekend was relaxing. 
Erick and I enjoyed a slow weekend. And that is definitely how we like them as of late. 

Here are some snippets from my Instagram....of life lately around these parts. 
Including: a quick day trip we enjoyed exploring northern Michigan, all the kale that needs juicing, and the short lived (but ever so lovely) lilac clippings from Erick's grandparents. 
I am determined to have a lilac bush of my own someday. 
It's on that running list one keeps in their head if ever a house is in the future. 

Add to the above plenty of shots of what I've been drinking lately. 
Feel free to voice your stance on how to brew coffee in the comment section. 
I attached this question to the mug shot above and it seems the majority rule in favor of french press. 
But, you could change that. 
 
So, as you can see, this is officially the most random post.
Full of a smorgasbord of topics all crammed together.

With that out in the open: how was your weekend? 
And remember to vote for your coffee preference. Because I really do want to know. 
No really, I do. 

annnnnnndddd if this wasn't enough fun you can always visit my instagram here.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

So, what's the heartbeat?


I wish you could see the notebook that holds all things related to this blog.
I wish you could see all the scribbles and scratches and arrows and giant lines crossing words and sentences out. 

Over the last month of taking time off and seeking the Holy Spirit about why I write here I came to the conclusion that I'm not sure I know the heartbeat of my blog. 
What makes it tick? What inspires me to write here? 

A heartbeat is what determines if we are still alive, no? A heartbeat puts us among the living. 
And in some metaphorical ways I suppose we could view the heartbeat as the center thing
The meaning behind it all that pushes and moves us forward.

So, when I couldn't nail down the pulse to this space, naturally I was concerned. 
Naturally, it all felt a little lifeless and dead. 
And I am sure that I am not alone in writing that I want to be imparting life-giving encouragement through this space. 
I want there to be a heartbeat behind it all. 

I put together a space that looked and felt more aesthetically pleasing to me.
And I hope it is to you as well. 
I have prayed over this space the last month.
And I really felt the heartbeat of this blog being drawn out of my own. 
The very things that God has been growing and teaching me.

The heartbeat:

To encourage women (and myself) to view our lives as a gift from God. And as a result, to live intentional lives of celebration in whatever season we are planted. 

I am choosing to do this by celebrating the blessings in the small, everyday things, encouraging discussion, and taking joy in the story.

I hope you will join me.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

well that was a blogging sabbatical


I did not plan on taking a month off from writing here, on this space. 
No, I can definitely say that it was not premeditated. 
But, a blogging sabbatical ensued just the same. 
The most unplanned things can become the most useful in refreshing and spurring on regrowth though. 
And just like I wrote awhile ago about the importance of being intentional, sometimes we (ok, I) need to step back from things and see where my intentions really are. 

During the past month I have spent a lot of time thinking about this space. 
This simple little space. 
I have spent time praying over this space. Asking God questions about this space. Missing this space. Resenting this space. Planning out this space. Feeling anxious about this space. Surrendering this space. Wondering what in the world this space really means. Surrendering this space again. 
Asking the Holy Spirit to lead and direct and oversee this space. 
Returning to this space. 

So, I hope you will be there as this space undergoes some construction because I have been undergoing some construction myself. 
The kind of constructions that takes place when the Holy Spirit is allowed to work.
And I am grateful and excited and hopeful about sharing it all with you. 

 


Monday, April 29, 2013

Influence Network Lifetime Membership Giveaway!!

Have you heard of the Influence Network?
It is an amazing community of women that are seeking to make their online life mean something. 
It is a community full of encouragement and support (I can testify to this personally!).
A community that is seeking to glorify Jesus with our time here on the internet. 
Interested? 

Please Visit Heather's Blog HERE where you can read all the details on how to win a lifetime membership to the network! 
Two memberships will be given away total.
In the meantime you can go here to find more information on the lifetime membership to the Influence Network.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Intentional


Sometimes seasons last a little longer than what we would prefer them to. Those metaphorical seasons. 
The ones without weather patterns. The ones that we live and walk through. 
The seasons of life (if you will allow me to use such a cliche). 
I think I recognized for the first time the other evening that I have been walking through a season that seems very unintentional. 
As in, I am not intentional. 
I don't know that seasons themselves really have a choice in the matter. 
But, I sure know that to a degree, I have a choice as I live through whatever season I am in. 
Except I haven't been choosing for a very long time. 
I feel like I have been on an auto pilot version of life for quite awhile. 
As if I am going through days, weeks, months, just trying to make it to the next one. 
Not really making any conscious, risky choices. 
Not taking a hard look at it all and getting serious enough to sit down and think about being intentional. 

My perfectionism tells me to be intentionally perfect at all the roles I walk in and in all the seasons. 
My flesh fails. 
And this cues the "all or nothing" me to go with and settle on "nothing" instead of realizing there is another option
It never really is "all or nothing."
There is "grace." 

Which really pulls into perspective the idea of being able to try again under a source of strength that is beyond oneself. 
And I do love and serve a gracious God. He really defines the term. And He has been so gracious and patient with His daughter as she stumbles unintentionally through days that He has given to her.

I don't believe that being intentional means accomplishing everything all the time. 
And I certainly do not believe that it means you are a rock star in every area of life. 
Is there anyone that has it all figured out? 
But, I can't help but feel that God calls us to live an intentional life. 
A life that is intentionally focused on Him and the things that He has called us to. 
That requires us to seek. Not sit around and coast. Seek Him. 

I've been struggling with this friends.
Enough to call it a season.
But, I am ready to look at walking in the grace of my Savior. 
And I am ready to start living out my days intentionally seeking His will. 
And I know in order to do this there has to be moments of  "be still and know" paired with running after Him earnestly.

Please discuss with me, what are some ways that you are intentional with the time God has given you?
How are you living intentionally through your gifts, abilities, and the every day?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter reminds me to hope.




I hope your Easter weekend was full of good memories, time to reflect, and the promise of Spring weather.
Erick and I had a really great weekend together. We spent some time in northern Michigan watching my parent's animals while they were on vacation (in the warmer weather of the south!). 
And our state is starting to thaw and that means more birds chirping and less snow on the ground. 
And more sun shining and less cloudy days. 
I am grateful.

 I spent the afternoon on Friday attending a Good Friday service at our church. What a blessing that was. 
It's always awesome to gather together and worship. 
But, the sermon was especially moving and challenging and it refocused my heart towards the whole reason surrounding Easter: Jesus died. And He rose again. 

I couldn't stop thinking about the hope that this past weekend brings.
 Hope.
 Over and over that word was going through my head. 
We have hope that this life is not just an exercise in existence. We have hope that there is a point. 
That there is more. That our faith is not in vain.
 Because Jesus died, but then rose, we have hope!
 Death has been defeated. Suffering is not empty. The story is not over yet.

There is such immense peace and joy in that friends. 
And I felt filled to the brim with all of that this past weekend because it is a hope that goes far beyond one weekend a year. 
It is a life giving, life changing hope that changed my life. 
Has it changed yours? 



 







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