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Encouragement

Encouragement, Inspiration

Remaining Faithful While You Wait on God

Have you ever been in a season of waiting in your life?  You know the place.  Like, that awkward in-between of not knowing what is coming next but knowing things will change.  That place of “limbo” where you are waiting on something great, but maybe going through something bad.  Maybe you’re waiting for something you love to become successful (a business venture, a blog, a passion). . . Maybe you’re waiting on a career move or a job promotion.  Maybe you’re waiting on love and your future spouse.  Maybe you’re waiting on a baby.  Maybe you’re waiting on a prayer to be answered, a friend to come your way, or a relationship to be restored. . .

Maybe you are waiting on God and it is a struggle to remain faithful.  Maybe you are having a hard time trusting that He sees the bigger picture, that He holds the future, and that He has good plans for you.

Friends, I’ve been in that place.  I’m there right now, actually.  My family will be moving in 6 months or less and we currently have no idea where we are going.  The unknown is looming so close ahead of us.  It would be so very easy for me to succumb to anxiety and frustration, but I know that won’t help.  Because the truth is, God knows what is going to happen.  He knows where we are moving and where we will live; because, His plans for me are good.  What I want is to learn to be faithful in this time of waiting-faithful to God and His timing and control over my life.  I want to trust Him more.  I want to experience peace, even though there should be a bit of panic; and assurance, even though there should be a bit of doubt.

Many times when we find ourselves waiting, we feel like God abandoned us, forgot about us, or left us on our own.  Because we don’t see the end in sight, or because we haven’t received immediate gratification, or because the unknown is confusing us, we think God must have overlooked our needs and prayers.  God is slowly teaching me, though, that there is so much beauty in the waiting!

It is in the waiting that we gain courage.  It is in the waiting that we become brave.  It is in the waiting that we grow and learn and change and develop.  Maybe it is in the waiting that God is preparing us for our moment in the sun. . . Maybe what we are going through now is preparing us for what we will deal with later.  I love Psalm 37:34 when it says wait passionately!  Wow!  God wants us to find passion in the NOW, and He urges us not to leave the path.  It might be tempting to try to find our own way when God has us waiting, but friends, that path is leading you right where you need to be-into the light, into the sun, and into goodness.

So as I wait to find out where my family will be moving, while I wait for my little blog to do big things, while I wait for my husband’s career to advance, while I wait for things my heart desires to become a reality, I am choosing to find passion right here, right now.  I am going to passionately wait and diligently seek the face of God.  The closer I get to Him, the more my desires will become aligned with His.

Are you in a season of waiting?  Has God just saw you through to the other side and into the light?  Feel free to leave your story in the comments!  Let’s encourage each other through the waiting!

Encouragement, Goals, Inspiration, New Year

Living New: Embracing 2017

There is just something about the start of a new year. . .  Maybe it is the feeling of positivity that is swirling around or the idea of getting a “do-over.”  Whatever it is, it is nice and fresh and new and exciting.  I am not one to make resolutions.  I just don’t feel the need to.  I guess because resolutions seem to be so temporary.  But I love setting goals and having aspirations for the new year.

Before moving forward, I think it is important to take a look back and reflect on the year past.  2016.  2016 will be a year that I never forget.  It saw the birth of our baby girl-the greatest blessing of my life so far.  There were so many incredible highs, and there were also quite a few lows.  2016 was a year of change and discovery and newness and amazing-ness and struggles and weakness. . .  There was so much bottled up in those 12 months.  Giving birth to my sweet baby, dealing with postpartum hormones, battling postpartum anxiety, struggling in my personal relationship with God, accepting that our family and closest friends were a thousand miles away from our new little family, adjusting to motherhood, becoming a SAHM, learning SO MUCH about my marriage, starting this blog. . . 2016 was a whirlwind!  I’m looking back at 2016 thankful for what I learned; I learned so much about myself.  And now, I’m going to carry those lessons learned with me into this new year.

When I sat down to think about what my goals were going to be for this year, I wanted to choose a word for the year.  A word I could carry with me throughout the year to motivate me and inspire me, and to remind me of my goals.  I thought this would be really hard to come up with, but the first word that stuck out to me and kept coming up was EMBRACE.

EMBRACE (verb):  To take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly;  To avail oneself of, to adopt, to welcome, to seize.

I think this word held special meaning for me; because, in 2016, I did a lot of running and a lot of ‘backing down’. . . I got comfortable living timidly and running from and fighting the hard stuff.  This year I want to embrace all that gets placed in front of me.  I want to embrace the journey.  Embrace the struggle.  Embrace the change.  Embrace the surprises.  Embrace the beauty.  Embrace the love.  Embrace THE NOW.

On January 1st, I opened my Bible app praying that God would lead me to a passage of hope and promise, and this was the verse of the day:

I felt God speaking to me so clearly, that what happened in 2016 is nothing compared to what He will do in 2017.  He is working on something new in me right now!  Friend, if you think you are waiting on God, think again.  He is waiting on YOU!  He has already begun a work in you.  Maybe 2016 just didn’t feel like “your year.”  Maybe it was full of heartache and struggles and trials.  Or maybe it was the best year of your life, and you don’t know how any other could top it.  Let me tell you, God loves making things new.  He creates beauty out of ashes.  He makes paths in the wilderness.  He makes rivers in dry wastelands.  He is waiting for you to live new!  Whatever goals and dreams you have for 2017, He wants to lead you to them.  He wants to give you the desires of your heart.  And friends, the path to our goals is not going to be easy.  That path through the wilderness. . .well, it might be dry and bumpy sometimes but its leading you to where you want to go.  So embrace the journey, not just the destination.  Embrace the struggle.  Embrace what you will learn along the way.

This year, I am committed to LIVING NEW and loving well and embracing ‘the now.’  I am holding onto the promises of God’s goodness in my life, I am praying over my goals and dreams, I am living in the freedom that God gives me to live and love, and I am trying to bless others along the way.

I’d love to hear from you!  How are you living new in 2017?  What are your goals and resolutions?  Do you have an inspiring word to live by this year?  Let us know in the comments!

 

Encouragement, Goals, Inspiration, New Year

Stop Chasing Your Dreams & Start Living Them

Have you ever had a dream?  Like, some deep-rooted desire that found its way into your heart, and then into your head, and you just couldn’t stop thinking about it?  A dream that you daydreamed about, created scenerios for, and talked about regularly?  We often hear people say “chase your dreams,” and while that sounds encouraging, the reality is-“chasing our dreams” makes us believe we are never going to get to them.  Chasing our dreams seems a bit unattainable.  Because the truth is, many of us associate dreams with being outside reality-kind of like the dreams we have in our subconscious during sleep.  Dreams are big.  Monumental even.  And what we really need is to stop chasing our dreams, and start living them!

When I started Growing the Nest, I had been dreaming about it for over a year, and guys, it took me over a year to act on that dream!  And here I am with a little blog that I love and another dream-I want this blog to be a business!  I want to devote my time and energy to this little space, writing and creating content, because I want this to be my job!  I want me sharing my heart with you to be my job.  I also have been dreaming about starting a YouTube channel for as long as I have dreamed about this blog, and I still haven’t acted on that dream. . .

Have you ever looked at others who have successfully started their own business or launched their brand or built an empire and thought, “Wow, I wonder how they got there?!” or “Look how successful they’ve become!”  I have.  And the one resounding theme of success starts with LIVING your dream.

I have started reading Chip and Joanna Gaines’ book The Magnolia Story.  Since they first came on HGTV-just like most people-I was so intrigued to learn about where they came from and how their success unfolded.  Their book is so encouraging!  They just started doing what they loved, working with what they had, and living their dream.  And that dream led them to success after success.

I’m writing this mostly for myself; because, I’m tired of just chasing after my dreams.  I’m going to start living my dream, right here and right now, where I am at, and I’m going to watch it unfold.  There is no outline for success.  There is no designated path you have to take.  We all are on a different path and on a different journey to living our dreams out.

I just want to encourage you, if you have been dreaming about something, playing out your dream in your head, talking about it, JUST GO FOR IT!  I don’t think you will ever be disappointed for following a calling that has been placed in your life.  I believe God impresses dreams on our heart and calls us to different vocations for a reason.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  If your dream seems wild and crazy, oh well!  Own that!  If your dream seems outside of your comfort zone, that’s okay-live in that!

If you have a dream, be purposeful and intentional in setting yourself up for success.  Examine what you want to come of your dream; have a purpose and direction in where you want to go.  Create a vision board with goals and milestones that you can reach and check off along the way.  Visualize yourself meeting these goals and succeeding.

Living a dream is never easy, especially at the start.  When we start living our dreams, it takes a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice.  We are starting from nothing trying to create something, so it is hard!  Dedicate time to your dreams, because that is the only way they will become a reality.

I often get caught up in comparing myself to just about everyone else. And truth be told, when I do this, I start to shut down and close off.  I stop doing the things I want to do because I am afraid it won’t be good enough or no one will care or it won’t compare to others.  But I just sell myself short when I do this.  I can’t live my dreams for everyone else’s approval, I have to live them for me-because I love them.  Remember, don’t compare your dream to someone else’s.  We are unique individuals, all with differing perspectives and experiences to offer.  Don’t compare the dream you are living to the life someone else is living, because you will be disappointed.  Comparison truly is the thief of joy.  There is a path and journey for you and your dreams to follow, and it won’t be the same as that other person.  Accept who you are and where you have come from; live in the truth that God gives you that are priceless to Him, create what makes you happy, find your niche, and live your big dreams out!

Don’t wait until you’re “ready,” start now!  Stop chasing your dreams, and start living them.

 

Encouragement, Motherhood

Struggling With Anxiety as a Mom

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I remember the first time I had an anxiety attack.  I was around 35 weeks pregnant and working as a teacher at a child development center.  I was in the infant room that day.  As the day was winding down and there were only 2 babies left, I sat on the floor with another teacher.  I remember becoming hotter and hotter, like a wave of heat hit me.  I was burning up and it was making me feel nauseous.  I asked the other teacher if I could go to the restroom.  I walked down the hall, into the restroom and locked the door.  I looked down at myself and my skin was bright pink, my stomach was in a knot.  I went to the sink and splashed some water on my face and looked up at my reflection in the mirror.  Right at the base of my neck, I could physically see my pulse pounding.  I put my fingers there and felt my heartbeat racing.  As I did so, I began feeling my heart beating violently.  I tried to breathe deeply to help it slow down.  As I tried to form purposeful breaths, I felt like my chest was being crushed and my airways closing in.  I couldn’t take a deep breath.  I was beginning to panic.  What is wrong with me?  Am I going to pass out?  Am I having a heart attack?  Am I about to die?  My mind was racing and my body was in overdrive.  I knew something wasn’t right and I was scared.  I left the bathroom and started down the hallway when my director saw me.  She had one look at me and yelled for me to come sit down.  She asked me what was going on and I started bawling.  Tears streaming down my face, I told her it was hard to breathe, that my heart was racing and wouldn’t slow down, and that I didn’t know what was wrong with me.  She got me water and sat in front of me talking to me and getting me to calm down.  I slowly started feeling a little better.  She wanted me to go to the doctor, but I just wanted to go home.  When I got home (earlier than I should have been), Matt was confused because it wasn’t my normal time.  I walk in the door with tears still pouring down my face.  In a worried voice he ran up to me and asked what was wrong.  I couldn’t talk and so he just hugged me.  I’m pretty sure he was about to go grab the hospital bags and put me in the car because he assumed the baby was coming!  After the incident was over and upon doing some research, I realized that I had experienced an anxiety attack.  I don’t know if it was the stress of working, being in college full-time, and being largely pregnant, but apparently I just couldn’t deal.  I went on maternity leave 2 weeks after that.  It was my first and only anxiety attack while I was pregnant.

JD Middleton Photography

JD Middleton Photography

After Avary was born, I was blissfully happy.  I was on cloud-9.  I felt like life couldn’t get any sweeter.  Even though I had to have an induction and her birth didn’t go as I had “planned”-you can read my birth story, here-every moment of labor, delivery, and taking our baby home felt like perfection.  I was on a high!  I had just had a vaginal birth, pushed my 1st baby out in 15 minutes, and those endorphins had me feeling like a super hero!  You mamas know what I mean!

The days and weeks following Avary’s birth were nothing short of incredible.  So when I went in for my 6 weeks postpartum appointment, and they had me fill out that questionnaire about how I was feeling-if I had any negative thoughts about myself or my baby, if I was feeling hopeless/anxious/depressed, etc.-I found it so odd!  Of course I didn’t feel any of those things, I thought.  Everything is perfect!  I handed in my questionnaire, and they didn’t ask me a single question about it.  Looking back, they didn’t even discuss postpartum depression/anxiety (PPD/PPA) with me at all.  And so I thought everything would be fine, and I no longer had to think about PPD again.  Fast forward several months and things began to change. . .

For me, around the time Avary was 5-6 months old, things began changing.  It felt like my hormones were on a rollercoaster ride.  My body was still trying to adjust to no longer housing a human being, my baby was well out of the “newborn phase” and changing dramatically, my family was 1,000 miles away, my husband had a job that took him from home on a regular basis. . .I began experiencing anxiety.  I’ve talked about in a previous post how I have always been and a somewhat anxious/fearful person, but this was on a level I had never known.  The anxiety made me feel like bad things were imminent. Like, what if we get in a car accident on the way to the grocery store, what if Avary’s cough is really some deadly disease, maybe my breastmilk is terrible and not good enough, maybe I am a terrible mom, what if someone breaks into the house and tries to steal Avary. . .  I was experiencing irrational fears and anxiety and it was affecting my mood.

The truth is, more women than you might think struggle with postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression.  Postpartumprogress.org estimates that close to 20% of mothers experience mood or anxiety disorders-that is nearly 1.3 million women annually.  When I was having my anxious thoughts, I didn’t understand what was wrong with me.  I kept trying to just “snap out of it” and stop worrying. . . Until I did research into PPA did I realize that this wasn’t a problem I just developed on my own, but one that was affected by pregnancy and postpartum.  PPA and PPD can occur up to a year after birth, not just a few days or weeks.  I’m not an expert on this topic, just sharing my personal experience, but if you need help, seek help!  I wish there was more follow-up care for mothers after birth so that so many women wouldn’t suffer in silence and confusion.

My anxiety was mild compared to what so many face and has begun correcting itself, but every woman is different and every experience with postpartum anxiety or depression is different.  Do not be afraid to talk to your doctor and get help!  It is nothing to be ashamed of.  And do your research!  While most all new mamas experience some degree of “baby blues,” anxiety and depression should be taken seriously.  Reach out to your spouse, your friends, your family, anyone you need to so you can get the support you need.  For me personally, it did wonders for me to talk through what I was feeling.

I write this post to tell you that you are not alone in your feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression.  It happens.  But you don’t have to be alone in your struggle and their IS help and support.

Also, I hope you never forget that in the midst of your most anxious days, when you in are in the thick of your fears, when stress seems like it will crush your spirit, you have a God to turn to.  You have a Father that wants to give you freedom over fear and power over anxiety.  Never underestimate how much He cares for you.

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Let’s break the “taboo” that postpartum depression and anxiety has surrounding it, and share our stories.  Let’s encourage fellow mamas to get help.  And let’s support one another on this crazy, rewarding venture called motherhood.

sean-1

 

 

Encouragement, Monthly Goals

November Goals

Ahhhh, November is here, friends!!  There is just something so special about starting a new month, don’t you think?  It is like a fresh start, a do-over, a new beginning, a clean slate.  Whether you need to say goodbye to the troubles of October and leave them in the past or October was so wonderful that you feel November can’t possibly top it, I want to assure you that God made us for seasons.  I am so thankful for the start of a new month to remind me of God’s sovereignty and understanding of what I need.

For me, the start of November was much needed.  October was full of so much good, but also full of many hard days.  It was full of #momfail moments, too much anxiety, stress, and worry, and not enough time spent purposefully pursuing peace.

 

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This month is going to be so full.  This month we get to travel home to see our family whom we only see once or twice a year.  My husband hasn’t been home in over a year and I haven’t been home since Avary was 8 weeks old.  I’m so excited to share our baby girl with the family and let them see how much she’s grown.  I am so grateful that we get to spend the Thanksgiving holiday surrounded by family and friends.  We haven’t been home for Thanksgiving in 3 years!  So, November not only promises a trip home and Thanksgiving festivities, but Matthew’s birthday is also this month!  This will be the 8th birthday we have celebrated together.  Wow, time flies.  Also, November marks Growing the Nest’s 6 month anniversary!  I started my little blog 6 months ago, and I am so thankful to have made it to this point.  I love this space of the internet I have here, the outlet my blog is for myself, and the people I have met along the way.  So November, I have high hopes for you!

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In all seriousness, though, I think one of the keys to living a peaceful life is taking time for reflection and planning/living life with purpose.  I love how writing in this blog is making me more intentional with my thoughts; because, I have honestly never written down a list of goals for a month.  But in the midst of trying to organize my life and live with intention, I decided to write out my goals for the month of November.  I was inspired by a fellow blogger, Rachel over at This Beautiful Season-where she encourages women to savor each season of life they find themselves in.  She has written posts about her vision and goals for each month, and how she will achieve them.  I love reading her thoughts, as they are so encouraging.  Definitely go check her out!  I think writing out my goals for the month will help me be more intentional in meeting them.

November Goals:

  • Make my quiet time with God a priority.  Spend more time reading and studying the Word, and praying with purpose.
  • Give my anxiety, stress, and worry up to God!  Whenever I feel myself becoming anxious or having stressful thoughts, I want to quote Bible verses that assure me of God’s peace, my victory over fear, and His protection and care for me.
  • Instead of turning the TV on when I have a spare moment, I want to open up a book and get inspired!  Finish the 3 books on my November reading list!
  • To look at those around me through God’s eyes.  To bless someone around me just because I can.  To reach out to someone so they know I care.  To be the hands and feet of Jesus, showing love and compassion.
  • To find creative ways and little moments to show Matthew how much I love him.
  • To soak up every moment with our family when we are home with them. <3
  • Stay consistent with my exercising!
  • To produce great content for my blog, especially coming into this holiday season.
  • Drink a #saltedcarmelmocha from Starbucks with my mama! (Man, I miss her!)
  • Learn how to coupon so I can save my family some money.
  • Be the very best mama to Avary that I can be by being present and in the moment.

Those are my goals for this month of November.  I am sure I could have thought of one hundred more, but you know!  My thought for this month is: PURPOSELY PURSUING PEACE.  I am praying over this month and asking God to show me how I can achieve these goals.  I am asking him to help me relinquish “my control” and live this month purposefully.  Pursuing peace.  Seeking grace.  Letting go of anxiety.  Living free and full.

I would love to know what your goals are for this month!  Let us know in the comments section!  Also, can I help you in any way?  If there is anything you’d like me to pray about or you need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to hit that Contact button at the top of my blog or message me on Instagram or Facebook.  Let’s build each other up and support one another this month!

sean (1)

Encouragement

Freedom Over Fear

FEAR (n): an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

FREEDOM (n): the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.

Fear.  It is something we all have experienced at one time or another; but some of us, on a different level than others.  For me, fear has been a personal struggle of mine for as long as I can remember.  When I was around 8 years old, my family moved into an old, Victorian style house.  It was one of the ones with tall doors and lots of rooms.  I remember that my bedroom was connected to the attic.  And it wasn’t just a drop door or a crawl space to the attic, it was a regular door to a full-size, unfinished, creepy-looking attic.  I was the youngest in the family, with 3 older brothers, so I got this room all to myself.  Every single night, I would be so scared that something was going to come out of that attic!  Of course nothing did, but the fear I felt as a small child was real-even though there was no real danger.  Ever since then, I can pinpoint a pattern of fear in my life.  It is my greatest spiritual struggle, and I constantly am being reminded of God’s faithfulness through this struggle.

In the world we live in, filled with so much  uncertainty, violence and heartbreak, sometimes it is hard to feel safe.  Sometimes it is hard to feel free.  Sometimes it is hard to live life without a sense of fear; because, it seems our safety has been compromised.  Because it feels like no matter how hard we try to block out the fact that there is a big, creepy door to a dark attic looming in the corner of our bedroom, it is still there and we cannot change that fact.  And the truth is, we can’t change all the factors in our world, in our environment, in our jobs, in our families, in our relationships that scare us, but we can; however, change how we respond to these fearful encounters.

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The truth, my friends, is that God offers us a way out of a fear.  He offers us freedom!  You see, fear can be crippling, debilitating. . . Fear can cause you to live a timid life-unwilling to take risks, missing out on opportunities, living half-heartedly for fear of what living fully might bring.  God did not create us to live in fear, nor did He desire for us to ‘live safely.’  He designed us to live freely and fully-embracing all the goodness life has to offer.  He welcomes us to live in the overflow of His spirit and His unchanging nature.

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When I feel afraid or when my thoughts are overtaking my actions, I remind myself that fear is not of God.  God supplies me with power and love and a sound mind.  You know, when I was 8 years old and scared of that attic door, I never opened it.  My mind created all these images of what might be behind the door, but I didn’t want to open it and find out what was really there.  But one day, one of my older brothers held my hand and pushed the door open and made me look.  (I don’t think he was trying to be ‘nice,’ per se, but it actually helped me!)  You see, he made me confront my fears and what I found was an old attic with dusty wooden rafters and no monsters. . .

I think God is a lot like this.  Maybe He holds your hand and draws you closer to your fears and helps you overcome them.  Maybe He is holding your hand and drawing you into the middle of stormy waters. . . But friend, He is not trying to drown you.  He is encouraging you to conquer your fears, to hold tight to Him, to walk in freedom, to become brave.  Bethel Music has a worship song that I just love that says:

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I am so thankful that God’s love and promises to me has made a way for me to overcome my fear.  My battle with fear is a daily one.  It is constantly reminding myself that God is in control, that my life is in His hands, that He only wants good for me, and that He has not created fear but freedom.  When I live in these truths, my life is so much more full.  So friend, if you’re anxious about an upcoming move, if you’re nervous about whether to accept that “crazy” different job offer, if you’re unsure whether you are parenting “the right way,” if you’re worried about standing out among your friends and coworkers, if you’re scared of failing at whatever it may be-give it to God!  Give your fears and concerns over to Him and live in the freedom of God’s grace!

“They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.  They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.” Psalms 112:7-8

sean (1)

Encouragement, Love, Marriage

An Open Letter to the Military Spouse & Mama

 

When you

To my fellow military wives and mamas,

If this letter finds you, it means that you are in this unique season of life alongside me–married to your best friend, raising your family, but sharing your husband with the military.  It means that you didn’t just marry the man; you married his career, too.  I wanted to take a moment to talk about the real struggles and the real joy this lifestyle provides.  This letter is meant to encourage you on your journey, remind you of your strength, commiserate with your emotions, and highlight the all-too-forgotten group of women who stand ready alongside their husbands.

You didn’t choose this career path, but you chose this man.

Before Matthew and I even started dating, I imagined the man I would marry one day.  I imagined my life, my future.  I had it all planned out in my head.  One of the things I knew for sure about my future was that I would never ever marry a man in the military.  That’s what I told myself.  My father had been in the military, as well as my brother, and I saw that lifestyle, and I didn’t want any part of it.  I was sure I wasn’t strong enough for that kind of a commitment.  When Matthew came into my life, we were just teenagers.  We fell in love, and we fell hard.  When we got to the point in our relationship when we knew we would have a future–that we just had to be together–Matt had news.  He was joining the Coast Guard.  I can tell you, I spent sleepless nights battling with his decision, wondering whether I could really stand by him through this venture or if I even wanted to. . .  In the end, I chose him.  His love meant more to me than his choice of career.

To you, new (or soon-to-be) military spouse, if you are torn between your man and his choice to be in the military–choose your man.  Love conquers all.  No matter how insurmountable this lifestyle seems, no matter how scary all the changes may be; if you love him, you can make it through anything.

To you, seasoned military spouse, on the days you are weary from raising your children alone, on the days you are lonely because the bed is empty and you haven’t heard your husband’s voice in days, weeks, or months, on the days you feel as though you have nothing left to give, nothing left to sacrifice for this military lifestyle–remember your love.  Remember the love that drew you and your husband together.  Its because of that love that you can overcome the loneliness, find energy to engage with your children, and uncover that last bit of courage to get you through.

You didn’t want to move away from home, but you found a new “home.”

To you, military spouse, on the day that first moving truck was being packed-all your belongings being tucked away, and all your memories of the past with it–I know the feeling.  This day is one of the hardest days.  When you say goodbye to everything you have known and move on to the unknown.  Maybe your family is waving goodbye.  Maybe hugs are shared and tears shed. . .  Today, you will have to leave your family and your friends, and you’ll wonder how long it will be until you see them again.  This day will break your heart, but there will be many others like this.  After awhile, you won’t cry as long and your heart won’t ache forever.  In fact, ‘home,’ will take on an entirely new meaning.  Home will become wherever your husband’s job takes you; wherever you are together.  Wherever you build your life and grow your nest.

You dreaded the thought of leaving your family, but you gained a new “family.”

If there is one thing I learned through this military life, it is that-no matter what-we always have each other’s back.  Moving away from your family, friends and your ‘old life’ is hard.  Moving somewhere you know no one is even harder.  You have to learn to be bold, be brave and make new friends; because, those friends might just become family.  You have something in common with every military family–living a life of sacrifice, commitment, and transience.

You have become a strong, independent woman, but you need to relinquish a little control.

Becoming a military wife, and now a military mama, I have learned to be tough, resilient, strong, independent and in control–especially when it comes to raising our baby girl.  Oftentimes, as a military wife, you are used to taking the reins and being in charge.  Your husband comes home and is back to work alongside you, but you feel as though you know what the baby needs better than him, you know what to fix around the house, you know what the kids school and sports schedule is. . . But let me tell you, military wife, your husband wants to help.  Relinquish a little of that control; because, when your husband comes home, he wants to feel like he is still an integral part of his family, that he belongs, and that he is needed.  Let him help with the baby, show him what needs fixed around the house, and ask him if he’d like to drive the kids to sports practice.  It will do wonders for his confidence, self-esteem, and sense of belonging.

sean (1)

 

 

Encouragement, Monday Motivation

Unfailing Love

I like to start off my Mondays with a great thought, something to meditate on and live out during the week ahead.  It is so easy to dread Monday when we let ourselves get overwhelmed with to-do lists for the week, things we need to get done, places we need to go. . . I think it is so important to take a moment every day to find quiet time to read the Word, pray, meditate, and THINK.  Some of our best thoughts and greatest intentions are born in moments like this.

This week, I want to talk about God’s unfailing love-a love that sustains us and revives us-and praise, thankfulness for all that He has done.

O God, you are my God:
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.
Psalms 63:1-5

Have you ever just felt empty?  As if you spend all your time and energy pouring yourself into others that there is just nothing left?  I think as a mom, we probably all feel this way sometimes!  We pour ourselves into our children every hour of every day, we pour ourselves into our husbands, family, and friends as much as we can-oftentimes neglecting ourselves.  And when we come up dry, with nothing left inside us, we wonder what went wrong.  We feel empty and frazzled and weary and dry and parched. . .  The truth is, we need to be filling our hearts and lives with the unfailing love that God wants to give us.

I love how this psalm started out with the believer searching earnestly for God.  They were thirsting for and longing after Him.  They knew God, they had visited Him in His sanctuary.  They had a relationship with God, and they recognized their need for sustainment through His love.  Not only did they celebrate God’s love; they also saw the importance of praise.

Praise and worship is a by-product of an intimate relationship with God.  Satisfaction and fulfillment is a by-product of praise and an acceptance of God’s unfailing love in my life.  A heart in-tune to God will naturally want to praise and worship Him, and will be filled with His love.  Once we drink deeply of this love God offers, we then will have a love worth offering others, a heart full of praise, and a life of satisfaction and contentment.

If you are feeling empty, like you are at the end of your rope-like there is nothing left inside yourself for you or anyone else-I challenge you to reach out to the God who abundantly loves you.  The God who offers unfailing love.  Let His love fill you to the brim, and then some; because when you do, you will be overflowing with love and grace and goodness to give to others.

sean (1)

Encouragement, Monday Motivation

Monday Motivation: Living Loved

It’s Monday!!!  Isn’t it crazy how quickly the weeks pass by?  As a mama, the days are long and weeks and years are short!  Today I wanted to share with you another “Monday Motivation.”  If you are feeling a little empty and your past week was long and hard, if you need a little inspiration and motivation, hopefully you can find some truth within these ramblings.

I don’t know about you, but every time I spend quiet time with God, I leave feeling so refreshed, rejuvenated and on fire!  I feel God impress truth onto my heart and I want to share it.

What I love about the message of Jesus Christ is that it is completely and undeniably centered on love.  The theme of the Bible, of the life of Jesus, of our calling as believers is LOVE.

“Long before He laid down earth’s foundations,
He had us in mind,
had settled on us as the focus of his love,
to be made whole and holy by his love.
Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into His family
through Jesus Christ.
(What pleasure he took in planning this!)
He wanted us to enter into the celebration of
His lavish gift-giving
by the hand of His beloved Son.”
Ephesians 1:4-6 MSG

Wow. . . that love just blows me away.  Before I existed, before the world was even formed-we were on His mind.  We are the focus of His love.  And at the center of this love is the theme of adoption.  He chose to adopt us into His family.  The word adoption literally means ‘to choose.’  God’s love and acceptance of me as His child was not and is not dependent on who I am as a person (He had me in mind before I was a person), it is not dependent on what I have done or what I do (His love makes me whole and holy), and it is not dependent on where I have been or where I’m going (He has adopted me from an old, neglected life to a new, lavish life).  God’s love for me is a fierce, unselfish, holy, identity-giving, life-altering love!  God’s love is the very essence of adoption-to choose someone as your own, to love someone before you even know them and to give someone a new life and identity.

And with this knowledge, with this promise, I am able to live loved!  I can live in the overflow of God’s love for me.  I can live in the knowledge that I will never be neglected.  I have a Father who wants to pour blessings into my life, who wants to give me more than I can fathom, who wants to prove Himself holy in my life.  As I am the focus of His love, I can, in turn, love others well.  I can live wildly, freely, abundantly. . .

If you are living a tame, safe life and questioning your purpose and identity, if you are living as if you are an orphan instead of a child of the King, grab hold of God’s promise that you are on His mind, you are the focus of His love, and you are adopted into His family.  And start living, loved.

sean (1)

Encouragement, Monday Motivation

Monday Motivation: When You Face Troubled Waters

I wanted to start a little series on my blog called “Monday Motivation.”  (I know today is now Tuesday, but my computer has been on the fritz and I have to buy a new one!) My Monday Motivation series will feature a short, hopefully inspirational post about what I am learning in my quiet time with God.  It is kind of like a daily devotional!  I know that sometimes Mondays are hard, the start of a new week, the end of the weekend.  But Mondays are just that-a fresh start!  So this is to help your Monday get off on the right foot!

When troubles of any kind come your way,
consider it an opportunity for great joy.
For you know that when your faith is tested,
your endurance has a chance to grow.
So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed,
you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
James 1:2-4 NLT

None of us want to experience trouble, am I right?  None of us want to go through hard times.  It’s challenging, uncomfortable, difficult, hard. . . But to God, experiencing trouble is a lot like conditioning for a sport.  I’m sure we all have been watching the Olympics lately (Go #TeamUSA !).  We all know that those athletes didn’t just go out on their fields or arenas and just perform at the level we see, right?  Absolutely not!  They spent hours, days, weeks, and YEARS preparing for this ultimate challenge.  They spent this time conditioning their bodies-preparing it, getting it ready for the biggest event of their life.

If you have ever played a sport, you know that conditioning is not fun.  It is not fun, but it is absolutely necessary.  Conditioning is long and tiring and hard, but it develops endurance!  Without it, you would likely be unprepared and fail when the time of competition comes because you wouldn’t have the endurance necessary to complete the task.  Proper conditioning will go above and beyond what you will actually face.

In life, sometimes troubles come our way-our faith is tested, our resolve is shaken, our strength is weakened. . . While it is easy to think that troubles happen to make us fail, they happen to make us stronger.  Trouble comes to bolster our confidence in what God has done, to reveal the strength of our faith, to grow our resolve, to absolve our doubt. . . To cleanse us, to perfect us, to make us whole and complete, to give us the opportunity to experience great joy.

God sometimes takes us into troubled waters-
not to drown us,
but to cleanse us.
-Unknown

It is in the midst of trouble that our true selves our revealed to us.  When we are tested and pushed to the limits of what we think we are capable of handling, that is when we usually find another ounce or two of courage, motivation, inner strength, stamina, and the ability to go on.  Or if we find we are at the end of ourselves, that we have nothing left to give, that we are in over our heads, that we have no more strength to move on, let yourself be washed in the flood of God’s grace, love and protection that promises to make you whole and complete-even in your troubles.

When you face troubled waters, God will not let you drown, He will not leave you broken.  He will cleanse you, care for you, grow you, and make you complete.  Don’t be scared to face the waves today!

sean (1)