Drowning: A Testimony

I’m honored to share this beautiful testimony from my sweet friend, Tiffany, who will always hold a special place in my heart. She was my daughter’s nanny for two years, and my husband and I consider her part of our family. Every single day, she was intentional about showing my baby girl the love of Jesus and I will be forever thankful.

For out of His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. – John 1:16

“The Lord keeps giving me a vision of being in the middle of an ocean. I’m treading water and barely surviving. There’s no land in sight; nowhere to go. I begin to get more and more exhausted as I try to carry my life on my shoulders. My past crashes over me like a wave. The pain of sexual abuse, fear, and unworthiness creep into my lungs while I desperately fill them with air. I push my head under the water every few seconds to rest. But then I pop back up, gasping for air, and take up the weight again. I never stay down long enough to let the water fill my lungs.

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For the Woman in Charge: A Resolution

“Who’s in charge?”

The other day I found myself asking my toddler this question after she repeatedly refused to put away her new Christmas toys. Usually, she responds with a sullen, “You are.” But this time she smiled at me and said, “Jesus is!”

It was pretty hard to argue with that logic, so my new parenting motto is: Until Jesus comes back, Mommy’s in charge.

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The Weary World Rejoices

For the past few weeks, bedtime has been a hot mess in our family. Our toddler has been crying every night for various reasons: she’s scared, she wants a hug, she needs a drink, or she has to go to the bathroom. The night typically starts with me gently comforting her and ends with me yelling, “Stop whining! You’re fine!”

She’s usually a pretty good sleeper, but there’s something crazy about this time of year. We are all exhausted, and I’m quick to lose my temper because we are in a season of over-spending, over-scheduling, and over-worrying.

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A Crown of Righteousness

This will be our first Christmas without the matriarch of my family—my Meme. So many things remind me of her. The other morning as we sang “O Come, All Ye Faithful” at work, I found myself singing the Latin words, and all I wanted to do was call and tell her how much I missed her Sunday morning Latin lessons.

Even watching my kids open their presents at my parents’ house this weekend brought me back to my own childhood, waiting impatiently on my Meme and Papaw to make their way to our house so we could open our gifts. She was always there to rejoice with us over every present.

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Even After

Over the past weekend, I was home with two sick kids during a snowstorm and—I’ll admit it—we watched a lot of movies. I tried fun games, hot chocolate, cookie baking, and dancing around in the living room, but somehow all of that only took two hours, with a very long 46 hours to go. So I just accepted the impending mom guilt and turned on Netflix.

The good news is that God loves using those moments when I’m wallowing in guilt to lay His Words on my heart. This weekend, it was all about the happily ever after. Movie after movie had the implied happily ever after we all know and love… for the good guys. But what about the bad guys?

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Paid in Full

I grew up believing a lot of things about God and about myself that weren’t true. I never felt like I had a good relationship with Him, but I wasn’t sure why. A few years ago, I decided to finally open up about these struggles to my husband. We had just taken on a mortgage, and here are the words he shared with me:

Imagine that you know the person who owns our mortgage. You owe a massive amount of debt to them, and you know you can’t make a payment this month. If you see that person at the grocery store, are you going to run up and talk to them, or are you going to sneak out and hope they don’t see you?

These words came at the perfect time because that’s exactly how I saw God—as someone to whom I owed a debt I couldn’t pay.

I had been basing my right-standing with Him on whether or not I’d made the payment that month. My confidence in His love for me was only as strong as my “bank account.” Going to church or memorizing scripture was like making a deposit and messing up or missing the mark was like making a withdrawal.

For years, I felt like my relationship with God was dependent on whether or not I had money in my account.

In John 19:30, after Jesus had been hanging on the cross for hours, He said, “It is finished.” In the original Greek, those three words are actually one word—tetelestai—which means paid in full. Once my heart accepted that Jesus paid my debt and that my salvation was based on His works instead of mine, I was finally able to grow in the genuine, intimate relationship with the Lord that I had been seeking.

I’m sure that for a lot of Christians this is common knowledge, but for me, it was a concept I just couldn’t grasp. I let guilt and self-doubt get in the way of truth and grace until my husband helped me break through those lies.

So just in case anyone needs this reminder today:

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
– Colossians 2:13-14

Throw Off Your Cloak: Finding Freedom

When I was in high school, I remember walking out to my car one morning and seeing the words ‘You’re a whore’ written on the window. I think we can all agree that the saying Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you is a complete lie. Those words hurt me a lot. And I carried them in my heart for years, wondering if that’s what people thought of me.

Until I came across four very important words in Mark.

“Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called the blind man. ‘Take courage!’ they said. ‘Get up! He is calling for you.’ Throwing off his cloak, Bartimaeus jumped up and came to Jesus.” – Mark 10:49-50

Throwing. Off. His. Cloak.

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But You Still Love Me, Right?

As a child, I struggled with OCD-induced anxiety. In an attempt to protect our kids from a similar experience, my husband and I agreed to always reassure them after spills or messes. Life isn’t perfect, and that’s okay was our parenting motto. That turned out to be especially important for our daughter, who would seek affirmation after doing something she considered bad. Every time she knocked over a drink or tipped over a plate full of food, she would ask us things like, “But it will be okay, right?” or “But we can fix it, right?” and we would usually respond with a quick, “Yes, it will be alright, but let’s try to be more careful.”

I assumed she only asked those questions to make sure she wasn’t in trouble until one day after a few cheerios fell off of her tray, she looked at me and asked, “But you still love me, right?”

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You Can’t Win Them All

I have always hated the saying, “You can’t win them all.”

In the interest of transparency, I admit that I am a recovering people-pleaser. I hate the idea of offending or upsetting anyone. I sometimes lay awake at night wondering if I could have phrased something better or if I should have handled a situation differently. Years after a negative confrontation, I can still feel my ears heat up when I think about it.

All this to say, I very badly want to win them all. I want everyone to like me, even though I know that’s not a realistic expectation, especially when I share my personal thoughts on a public platform. That’s just the life of a blogger.

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Perfect Love

There is nothing better than tucking my kids into bed after a long day and feeling like I loved them well. I will gladly toot my own horn after a full 24 hours of defusing meltdowns, keeping a reign on my temper, and showcasing the patience of a saint. But the truth is that those days are few and far between. More often than not, I end the day frazzled, exhausted, and wondering if I expressed my love well enough.

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Learning How to Speak Life

When I was in college, I helped chaperone a youth trip to a Christian conference.

During a night of worship, one of the girls on the trip burst into tears. I walked with her outside of the room so that we could talk and, as she began telling me some of the heavy things she was struggling with, I asked, “Lord, what do I say?”

I remember the response vividly.

Silence.

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The Gospel Is Not Fair

“I just don’t think it’s fair.”

I was complaining to my husband, and the frustration of the day poured out of me as I recounted the story. I had played by the rules, poured my heart and soul into a project, and worked my tail off to get it done.

And then I had sat back and watched as someone else received the praise for all of my hard work.

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The Pessimistic Christian

You know who might not be the best candidate for spreading the Good News? Someone who is perpetually expecting bad news. I’ve been there. I prefer to call myself a realist, but the truth is that I am often cynical, expecting the worst from people and situations. I let my past hurts and disappointments color the way I see the things around me.

Most recently, as I prepared for the end of my maternity leave, I found myself stressing out over all of the unknowns and coming to the worst possible conclusions: We aren’t going to be able to find a good daycare. He’s not going to take his bottle. There’s no way we are going to pay off all of these medical bills.

A few days ago, while I was in the middle of one of my pessimistic breakdowns, God revealed something to me:

Pessimism is viewing the world through our own scars instead of His scars.

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Filling Your Spiritual Hunger With the Fullness of God

Life with a toddler is always interesting. It’s the age where children are learning to express their thoughts and emotions, but don’t always understand how to reason through them. It’s the age where the wrong sippy cup can lead to a meltdown and every simple yes or no decision can take half an hour.

Last week my two-year-old told me she was starving, so I laid out a spread of her favorite foods: turkey, apples, cheese, sweet potatoes, peas, and blueberries. Naturally, the “starving” toddler took three blueberries and one piece of cheese and decided that was all she wanted. Not ten minutes later, she looked up and said, “Mommy, I’m still hungry.”

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You Can’t Control Your Legacy

In this day and time, we have control over so many aspects of our identity: we choose what status updates we want to make online, we select (and edit) the photos we want to share with the world, and we actively construct the persona we want to portray on our social media platforms. But we have to keep in mind that while we can create our own highlight reels, we don’t get to write our own obituaries. Ultimately, we can’t control the way other people remember us.

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Ten Simple Postpartum Tips

I’m excited to announce that we welcomed our son, Jack, in August. I took a small break from blogging, but I’m excited to be back and share a few postpartum tips.

Keep in mind that living a healthy life is a spiritual pursuit! Being physically and emotionally healthy allows you to be a good witness and live the kind of life God has called you to. However, I also want to stress that being “healthy” doesn’t always look the same for different people.

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. – 3 John 1:2

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The Greatest Love Story Ever Told

I’ve heard some women say that their favorite part of a love story is seeing how a man can look at a woman and see the good things in her that she can’t see in herself. It’s appealing to us when someone takes time to get to know the girl behind the mask and falls in love with the crazy, honest version of herself that she’s usually too afraid to show the world. Who wouldn’t want someone who always sees past the mess, knows who we truly are, and loves us for it anyhow?

God looks at us like that every day! He sees through every mask we ever try to put on and loves us despite all our deepest, darkest secrets. He not only sees the potential and purpose in us, He also created it.  He is constantly trying to remind us that we are worthy—not because of what we have or have not done, but because of who we are in Christ.

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To The Person Who Missed Their Calling

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.
– Romans 8:28

I have a tendency to look at verses like Romans 8:28 and see them as conditional: if I am called according to His purpose, then all things will work together for my good. My mind then immediately goes down the path of, “How do I know if I’m called? What if I’ve missed my calling and this verse no longer applies to me?”

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