How I Got My Hope Back

Hebrews 6 19We are studying Colossians in our Hello Morning study right now and the question today asked how did the text talk about instructions for walking with Christ daily. Our leader shared that there is a woman in her church who is struggling to get pregnant and has lost hope in that dream being fulfilled.

There is a darkness that seeps into the empty spaces when hope is lost. (<====Click to Tweet)

I have been there.

I lived years in a struggle of trying to find and keep my hope. Years where my husband and I walked apart from God. Stubborn and selfish and sure that we could “handle it”….we stumbled along life, limped is more like it.

I cried out to God in those times that I felt completely alone. Where was He? I wanted Him to fix my problems, make it all better…but He didn’t, and I was angry.

When life started to change for us, when we recognized the need for a Savior in our lives, I started to feel that hope returning. Maybe this time things would be different.

We started going to church, we were baptized and rededicated our faith. We said prayers together as a family in the morning and shared our faith with others. We were doing all the “right” things.

As things started to change we talked about trying to have another baby. We had struggled with getting pregnant with Gabriel, but now…it should be easy. We were doing what God wanted. We were on His path so surely He would “reward” us.

And for 18 months we tried, and each month the hope that I had in the goodness of God faded a little.

You see I walked through those times believing that because we were finally making Godly choices, that somehow we deserved all the good stuff. Alll that God had to give us. I deserved it after all those years of struggle, didn’t I?

And then one morning, 2 faint pink lines.

Finally! I rejoiced in the goodness of God and my hope in Him swelled.

God is good when He allows good things to happen….

And then one morning the cramping came and I knew. I fell to the ground that day in my bathroom and begged God to stop what had already started. I believed with everything in  me that He could save this baby if He wanted. You can do this God – I will proclaim Your goodness if you do. Please God.

But it didn’t stop…and in those moments my hope was once again gone.

How could God allow bad things to happen to “good” people?

It was a question that I wrestled with for 6 months.

Honestly friends, it is a question that I still wrestle with…bad things happen to good people ALL.THE.TIME.

But I was lucky because I had some faithful people that surrounded me during this dark season of my life. Women that knew the Lord and openly shared their faith with me.

They prayed for me. They told me that God could handle my anger and my questions. They shared their own stories of loss and frustration, and then they shared the hope that they had in Jesus.

It didn’t come overnight.

I wasn’t sure it would ever return. I seemed surrounded with people pregnant with life, while I felt a barrenness in my own. I wanted what I didn’t have and I wouldn’t allow myself to celebrate with those who did.

I saw a counselor and she encouraged me to write a letter to the baby we had lost.

Looking back on it, it was one of the first things that led me back to writing in 2008. And so I penned the words I had for that child. The child we had prayed for and loved from the first moment we knew they were ours. I cried ugly tears through the process but found healing. I had written my love letter and I wanted to hope again.

And one day I found the blog of a woman walking on her own dark path.

And yet she had a faith that was strong and sure.

“Jesus is the same today as He was yesterday…”

As I read her words I felt my faith changing. I wish I could say that it came back because of my reading the Bible, or my prayer…but it didn’t.

I needed to see the faith of another, played out in real life in front of me, to believe again.

And that is exactly why I write today.

If I can share my testimony, a piece of my story and bring hope to even one person…it is worth it.

Angie did that for me…she walked the hard road with faith and my life was changed because of it.

Life isn’t going to be easy. Even when we are doing all the right things. I know that now, but today I hold onto the hope that it is all for God’s glory. That our messes and weaknesses and then our subsequent muddling through them might someday offer another hope.

I don’t do it perfectly, but I don’t have to.

Today I read my Bible in the hopes of knowing more of who God is. I know that difficult times could be just around the corner. I know that I am not promised tomorrow so I try and live today fully aware of His grace and mercy in my life.

I have so much to hope for, even when life is tough. (<====Click to Tweet) And I am called to share the peace that I have found in depending on God through it all.

So I write on. And I hope. For you and for me I hope. And for each woman out there that is at the end, on that cliff…feeling like all is lost and God has abandoned them…I am praying for you.

God can handle your questions, your anger and your fears. And He won’t abandon you just because your faith isn’t strong right now!

No in hindsight, I can now see where in those weakest of moments, He was carrying me…and He is doing the same for you.

Today I have confidence that He will return your hope back to you as He did for me. Hold on sweet friend, it is coming….

More than anything, I want them to see You

merry go roundI am less than a week from turning 40. The BIG 4-0. And I am surprisingly ok with it all.

I wasn’t really dreading 40, I feel better about who I am and where I am, than I probably ever have. 40 isn’t something to fear or dread. It is just another year right?! And I am surrounded by some of the best family and friends a girl can have, so I am really just overwhelmed with blessings.

I have spent more years than I can count, and really that I would like to admit, worrying about trying to be the perfect person.

As far back as I can remember, I wanted what I didn’t have. I wanted the Strawberry Shortcake dolls that the girl down the street had, or the cute red Esprit jeans with the white hearts on them. (Oh how I coveted those pants and don’t even get me started on the matching heart sweater!!) Maybe it was the name brand jeans or a place on the cheerleading squad…there was always something missing.

I found myself wanting, lacking, and it wasn’t a place that I wanted to be.

So I studied hard so I would be the smart one and do something amazing with my life. Then I went off to college and couldn’t hack the career that I was certain was for me. And once again I knew that when someone looked at me, they just saw someone who was lacking.

For a perfectionist like myself, this is a terrible place to be. Because when you looked at me I wanted you to see beauty and grace and maybe the least bit of fashion sense.

But I was certain that what you saw was the opposite.

Have you ever found yourself there, on the merry-go-round of striving to be something, someone better than you feel you are? (<====Click To Tweet)

And yet it seems that no matter how hard you try, you come up short.

The past few years have been growing ones for me.

Yes I may have added a few pounds towards my waistline, ahem ;) that comes with the aging I am told but I am not talking about that today. No, even more than that I am discovering who I am. What I love and where my passions are. I have reconnected with my love of writing and that alone has brought me so many gifts.

This refinement process hasn’t always been easy either. Dominic and I are learning how to work well with one another in our business, as we also try to manage a reasonable balance between work and home life. We have big kids, and middle kids and little kids…and raising them isn’t always a cake walk.

I yell too much, and get frustrated about little messes. I often forget to take time to count my blessings.

But despite all of that, all of my shortcomings, I am filled with the overwhelming peace that God will use it all for His glory. (<====Click to Tweet)

I have seen Him do it in my life already. How He took all the messy and the ugly parts of me and healed them and then gave me a story to share. He gave me a heart for others, for loving them and sharing the hope that is found in Him.

I don’t head into the Big 4-0 wanting you to see me and how put together I am or what a wonderful wife and mother I am.

More than anything, I hope that when you look at me you see Him.

You see a woman who loves Jesus. A woman who is admittedly a hot mess most days, but even on the worst of them can see the potential for God to use it for good.

Yes Lord, it is my prayer for year 40 and beyond…as long as you have planned for me here, that when people see me, they see You in me. Fashion or no, good hair days and bad, muffin tops and veiny legs….none of it perfect Lord, but through You I have the faith that I will be perfected for Your glory.

And that is all that matters.

Photo Credit: Great Beyond

We All Need a Little of That!

Community

As many of you know just a little over a week ago I was surprised with a getaway birthday weekend to Houston. It was a weekend filled with love from my friends and family.

While Gindi and I shared a delicious BBQ chicken pizza from California Pizza Kitchen (which by the way was YUM!!), we talked about this idea of community. On FB the night I found out about my surprise I posted a picture of my letter and this comment “To say that I am floored and overwhelmed and crazy excited all at once is an understatement….not exactly sure where I am headed on Saturday but the “three birthday bandits” have completely surprised me!”

130 people liked that post and I had over 40 comments…

I don’t say that to brag, it is a reflection of how much something like this would mean to so many people.

“Best present ever!!”, “I want to get kidnapped”, So fun, can’t wait to hear about it”…and on and on.

People, women especially, long for this type of community.

Maybe we don’t say it or admit it…but it is true. We love to feel loved. (<====Click to Tweet)

I think it is in our nature, it is how we were made. I know so many women who love big and love well. But this experience for me was proof that we all have a secret wish that someone would love on us in a HUGE way like I was.

And I don’t want it to end with me.

I realize that many of us might not be able to plan such an elaborate surprise like I received…but as Gindi and I talked I was challenged to think of ways that I might be able to love on others well, here in my own front yard.

Because we all need a little more of that, don’t we?

Of community, friendship, lavish and unconditional love?

This may mean that we have to step out in faith…and what if it isn’t well received? What if we put a Turquoise Table in the front yard in April, invite our neighbors over, and no one comes?

It could happen.

It probably won’t, but there is that risk.

But you know, I have found that by being willing to take the risk, the crazy leaps of faith…that I have been given back so much in return.

If I hadn’t been willing to open my heart to the idea of online friendships…well last weekend would have never happened. And what a blessing that was in my life.

I hope you can understand that I face these challenges with the same fear that I expect many of you are facing. We are in this together!!

That is why I felt like it was so important to write about this today. I often make decisions based on fear, especially fear of the unknown.

But when we see a need – how can we NOT respond?! Maybe your response isn’t with a surprise trip, but instead a call to a friend for a lunch date. A card in the mail to a neighbor or introducing yourself to a “stranger” at church.

The act itself doesn’t have to be monumental, but I am seeing that the small things can become monumental if we are invested in and working at community. (<====Click to Tweet)

So I come here willing. Prayerfully considering how this looks in my own life and open to being pushed to where I may feel uncomfortable…because if I can be the hands and feet of Christ here…who knows what might happen!

Photo Credit: Niall Kennedy

Dear Dominic, We Are Getting a Turquoise Table!

turquoise picnic table

Dear Dominic,

Can I first start by just telling you once again how grateful that I am that you helped arrange my birthday trip. What a gift it was. Especially when you got to have several days full of “barf duty”…I am so sorry about that!! That being said…there is something that I want you to know….

We are getting a Turquoise Table.

I know that when I came back from Allume and told you all about this turquoise table idea, you thought that I was a little crazy.

You may be right, but you know….I am ok with that! ;)

I am crazy, but I want to create a better environment of community in our neighborhood. We have wonderful neighbors, we really do. But the reality is we don’t ever really take time to spend time with them.

We have an annual block party, which is awesome…but I am craving more. More for us, more fun for our kids. I want them to grow up craving community as well. To learn the art of hospitality…even if it starts in our front yard.

I realize that logistically we don’t live in a place that can accommodate a turquoise table year round. But my hope is that if we try this…try and encourage and build community in our own front yard, that even in the winter we might desire to find ways to gather together inside.

That is my prayer with this idea.

The good news is that we now have a truck that can get the $98 table from Lowes in Brookings, to our front yard. And conveniently enough I have almost a full gallon of paint left from our toy room redo! Woot for keeping the costs down! ;)

So there it is Dominic.

In my mind I have pictures of the kids from the neighborhood gathering at the table. I am taking ideas from Gindi’s events and hoping that we can invite our neighbors once a month to our yard for treats and conversation.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate or fancy, doesn’t have to cost too much money…but if we make the effort I think that we might see something blossom. These are my wild ideas and big dreams.

It is wonderful that I have met such amazing people online. But I am now challenged to try to build and strengthen relationships in our own community.

I believe it is possible and maybe a turquoise table in the front yard is crazy enough to make it happen!

Thank you for loving me even when I have crazy ideas…I am hoping that you will come to enjoy the turquoise table idea as much as I already do!

And now I cannot wait for April to come, snow to melt and the painting to commence!!

Love, Your Dreamer Wife

Photo Credit: Shabby Old Potting Shed

 

A Weekend Filled with Love

What a whirlwind weekend of fun I had. I still can’t believe that Gindi, Christine and Delonna wanted to do this for me and that they worked with Dominic to pull off such an amazing surprise!

I feel so blessed. The trip to Houston (once I knew where I was going…) was a long one. What is it about trips that once you start you just want to be there already and once you start the journey home you just want to be home?!

Birthday 22

I was greeted by Gindi with a sign that she and her kids made for me, a balloon and beautiful flowers! And there were chocolates all over my bed when I got to her house as well. I felt so loved.

Gindi is an amazing planner and gets joy out of party planning, and she had a packed but wonderful schedule planned for us. On Sunday morning we got up and all went to church. Her church had these beautiful stained glass windows and rich hardwood pews. Her pastor talked about not getting stuck (frozen) in our lives as Christians, but rather we need to go out and be a people of community, we are God’s chosen and we need to start sharing the joy of that message with others!

Birthday 23

After church we ran home to get ready for all of the fun of the afternoon. It started with brunch at Benjy’s. This place was so fun and we had a wonderful meal. Next we were off to do a little shopping (because of course!) and then on to a high tea at the St. Regis in Houston to celebrate Gindi’s nomination of one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Houston!

I knew she had been nominated, but was even more excited when I go to the actual award ceremony! I had the opportunity to meet her boss and co-workers, her best friend (in Houston) Mary, her mother-in-law and niece and her beautiful mother. Gindi’s mama was such a joy to visit with.

I had not ever had high tea before, but they served us 3 courses! This close after a full brunch…we ate and ate on Sunday! The first course was several different petite sandwiches, followed by a scone (which I hadn’t ever had before!) and then 3 desserts. While I am not a huge fan of tea, this experience was so nice and to be able to cheer Gindi on as she was called up front…priceless!

Birthday 24

After high tea we did a little more shopping and found some great clearance deals. And then onto another restaurant for dinner. As if we hadn’t eaten enough already! The waitress knew it was my birthday and brought the most decadent chocolate dessert as a treat for us to share. So wonderful!

Birthday 25

Monday was a bit more relaxed. Gindi had booked us a morning at the Trellis spa, and for my first real spa experience it was oh so good! We got swedish massages first and then pedicures. If money were not object, it would be lovely to visit there once a month to relax and de-stress.

We shared lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen, which was also new for me…I clearly don’t get out enough! (BBQ chicken pizza that was to die for!) And then some shoe shopping. (Because of course) And then we grabbed some groceries to prepare the treats for the Turquoise Table neighbors party she was hosting that night!

Birthday 26

Because we were home early we got to surprise the triplets and pick them up from school. I should have gotten a picture of their uniforms, because they were adorable. All the way home the talked about their day, what their favorite part was, what they learned. It is fun hearing it from 1 5-yr old, but 3?! I just giggled all the way home! :)

They quickly changed out of their uniforms and into  something that was more appropriate for the “Let it Snow” party Gindi was hosting at her turquoise table from 5-6. And of course, Frozen PJ’s and cowboy outfits were the perfect choice!

We made several treats for the party, Snowmen noses (carrots and dip), hot chocolate, frozen hearts (strawberries dipped in melted white chocolate), snow (popcorn) and ice treat (rice crispy bars with blue sprinkles on them!)

It was COLD (even for the Minnesotan) and so it was a smaller gathering than usual, but I got to meet a few of her neighbors and it was so much fun….which leads me to my next post that will be titled “Dear Dominic, We ARE Getting a Turquoise Table” (look for that later this week!) ;)

Birthday 21

After the gathering we all went out for Mexican food at Los Tios. A fun, kid-friendly restaurant where we ate AGAIN. I am going home today happy, blessed, full and 10 pounds heavier!

This morning we were up early, early and out the door by 6am. I should be home shortly after the kids get out of school and I can’t wait to see everyone! And kudos to Dominic who spent the weekend with not one but two kids barfing. :(

I know it wasn’t the weekend he had hoped for and he had to work from home yesterday to stay with Karlena who needed a little more time to recover. I can’t say that I am sorry I missed all of that…but it is no fun being a single parent during times like that! I am so blessed to have him as a husband.

I keep saying it, but this weekend was such a gift to me. It filled my spirit in so many ways and just getting to do life with Gindi for a couple of days was over the top. I wish that Delonna and Christine could have joined us in person (heck I wish all of you lovely friends could have joined us!!) but really it was just a time of so many great memories and such good food! ;)

I don’t feel like I deserve all of this, so I truly am just sitting back in awe of what God has done for me in these beautiful friends! Thank you so much girls, it was a weekend FULL of love!

The Most Unbelievable Birthday Gift

Birthday BanditsI can hardly believe it, but I am sitting in the Minneapolis airport waiting to board a flight that will first take me to Chicago and then shortly thereafter, Houston, Texas.

On Thursday night around 8:30pm I got the surprise of a lifetime when I came downstairs after painting some more and sat down to send an email….I opened my computer and inside was the letter pictured above.

As I started to read it my eyes filled with tears, Gabriel had been in the room and he grabbed it from me and started reading it aloud. Dominic apparently at this point was taping me with his phone…. (The video is hilarious and I sound like a freak – if we are friends on FB you can see it there!)

On Saturday I was to report to the Minneapolis airport and would be flying to somewhere unknown for a special early birthday weekend.

I was stunned. I couldn’t believe that someone would do something like this for me and to pull off all the details….amazing.

My second thought after “are you serious, how can this be??”, was “yikes, I haven’t painted my toenails in weeks.” What can I say, vanity has been a struggle for me! ;) Because I didn’t know for sure where I was going (although I had a strong suspicion) I wasn’t sure exactly what warmth of clothes I should pack.  But the reality is that most of the south right now is dealing with cold weather themselves, so anything I would wear during the fall/early winter should work.

So that night I packed what I could, tried to get Dominic to tell me ANYTHING, which he would not…and proceeded to walk around for the next day and 1/2 with a silly grin on my face.

This is too much.

On my route to MSP this morning I got a call from Gindi and she finally confirmed where I was headed. She said that back in December Delonna had started a secret vox chain with her, Gindi and Christine. They wanted to plan something super special for my upcoming 40th birthday.

These women are such an unbelievable gift to me. To think that just a few short years ago we were all strangers…oh God brought them into my life for such a time as this.

God knew…

Just 4 years ago in November I lost my best friend Karlena. A few months before she passed away I planned a secret trip to go and visit her. I worked with her husband and her MIL to arrange all the details and travelled to see her for the weekend. I was pregnant with our girl and Karlena had been so sick the few months prior that I just wanted to cheer her up.

It was a wonderful time, and the last time that I saw her  alive. I will always cherish that weekend.

Losing your best friend leaves a hole….and it was one that I didn’t expect would ever be filled again.

But God.

Oh those 2 words that seem to define so many of the remarkable moments in my life.

But God knew, and somehow a group of 99 women were chosen for a book launch, and then several of us broke off to encourage one another in a mastermind group, and finally a God-sized dream was birthed and a website was born.

And from that group, friendships were born.

From across the miles, voxer has kept us connected. Life has been shared, tears have been shed, cheering has ensued. These women are have filled my life to overflowing, and this…this birthday surprise?

It is the gravy.

Christine and Delonna weren’t able to to join us in person, schedules, work commitments etc., made it tough to find a way for all of us to be together. So instead, Gindi is hosting me for a weekend full of SO MUCH.

Seriously you should see the agenda, I am almost speechless.

But the fact that these three women worked so hard, schemed, planned and made arrangements with my husband, got ideas from my mom….it is just so much.

I don’t feel like I deserve it, but I am marveling in the lavish love that God has for me that he would place these women in my life so that in the month of my 40th birthday I would be treated to a surprise weekend. Something only the #birthdaybandits could do.

Ok, I probably should stop writing now because just thinking about it is bringing me to tears and the other people in the waiting area at the airport are going to start giving me the crazy eyes. ;)

Thank you doesn’t seem like enough…and I am sure that I will have more to share as the weekend unfolds, but for now, as I wait to board my flight I want to just say thank you. Gindi, Delonna, Christine, Dominic and my mom….for everything that you did to make this weekend possible, I am humbled by your gift.

Speechless (almost) and overwhelmed. I wasn’t really depressed about 40…but now, this? I am entering into this new season full of joy and hope. I love you all!

It Is Well

It is WellI decided on a whim to do a makeover on our toy room. Call it fresh starts, or Dominic’s absolute distaste for the clearance red paint that I put on the walls over a year ago….it felt like it was time to liven the space up.

I love it already. Seriously, I may go missing and be found hanging in the space. I still have so much to do and now have run out of time…but I am excited to see the progress happen!

I spent the better part of the day on Saturday priming and painting. And I just listened over and over to the Bethel Music – You Make Me Brave album. My favorite song thus far is “It Is Well.”

YouTube Preview Image

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well with me

Through it all.

I felt God calling me to depend on Him this year. I didn’t really want that to be my word because it scares me a bit. What might He call me to? What may He ask us to walk through?

And as I thought of these things on Saturday, the words of this song flooded my spirit.

Through it ALL. My eyes are on you Lord, and through it ALL, it is well.

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see

And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

Even when I can’t see the whys, even when I don’t know the future, when there are trials and unknown….even when my eyes can’t see Lord, it is well.

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name

Yes THIS – let go my soul and trust. Trust in God, trust in His plan for me and my family…He has control over all, the waves, the wind….He has it all.

It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You Lord
Through it all, through it all
It is well with me.

Most of our lives we deal with the unknown. We can’t see what unexpected circumstance may come our way. We don’t know how our children will go through life. For someone like me who deals with fear and worry about those unknowns, this can be debilitating.

But God.

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

God goes with me in each moment of my day. And through it all, it is well.

I find comfort in those simple words this morning. While today I am not faced with a major crisis, or decisions (except for maybe pink eye, which is another post all together…) I can trust that whatever I face in my day to day, God is going with me.

Through it all, my eyes are on you Lord and it is well with me.

Making Time to Be Intentional in Your Prayer Life

As I write this post I am sitting in a beautiful rental home that our extended family gathered in over Christmas. The fireplace is flickering and warming the room, the sun is shining and right now I have some time to reflect by myself.

Battle Lake 3

It is easy to see God’s beauty in a place like this. The frozen lake glimmers with light from the sunset, the Christmas lights offer a warmth and glow to the home. It is perfect. And when things are perfect…well, I can find it hard to take time to be intentional with my prayer time with God.

Battle Lake 1

Do you struggle with that too?

Sure I cry out to Him when things are rough. I know all to well the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness…of trying to make sense of the hard and ugly places that life has taken us at times. God becomes my 1-800-helpline as I demand changes and results.

But this week, surrounded by family and beauty…all my wants and desires are met, and so my quiet time with God is pushed aside.

This isn’t how I want to live my days though. Seeking after God only when I have a need. No I want to develop a relationship with Him that is one of intentional seeking of His plan and purpose for my life. A relationship built on faith and trust and one that comes with an intentional seeking of His face each and every day.

Several months ago I was invited to participate in a 40 day prayer journey. A friend was starting Mark Batterson’s 40 Day Prayer Circle Challenge and she asked if we were interested in keeping each other accountable through it. I had heard encouraging things from others that had gone through it so I joined in.

I bought the audio book so that I could listen to the devotionals in the morning. In one of the first days Mark encouraged us to get a prayer journal and to start writing out our prayers. He said that when we write out the prayers, big and small, we can then go back and see how God had answered our prayers.

And so began my 40 day prayer journey. I am sharing more about my prayer journey over at Christen’s site for her 21 Day Prayer Challenge. Will you join me over there?!

Depend – My One Word for 2015

Depend

Can I be honest with you? I didn’t really want a “One Word” for 2015. Because finding Balance was such a BIG failure for me last year…I just felt like I would be setting myself up for failure once again if I joined in.

For a few days I thought maybe I would choose a word and that would be “intentional”, because seeking to be more intentional with my family, my writing, my quiet time etc., were all good things. Right?!

I even had a beautiful graphic made from a FB friend…but something didn’t seem right.

And late in the hours of the final days of 2014 I knew that God was speaking to me. Sometimes He does that through a thought, a prayer request when I am in the shower….but this time it was through the voice of my friend Christine.

I was struggling with something and asked Christine and Gindi for prayer. They have become mighty prayer warriors in my life. Voxer has been a gift and has allowed us to communicate daily and find ways to pray for and encourage one another.

So this particular morning Christine left me a message with words I felt God wanted me to hear. Where and with whom does my dependence lie in? Is it in things of this world, of people?? Or is my full dependence on God?

I struggle with fear and worry. I let little things become big things, and always assume the worst. When I depend on people, places and things for my security, I often find myself let down. And it is a part of my nature to just take control and “manage” my life on my own…because surely I won’t fail if I handle it all! ;)

Christine’s words hit home because I knew that I had been trusting God with SOME things, but not everything. Can I place my full dependence on God? For everything?

And so the journey this year begins.

To seek Him, dive into His Word, to know Him and try and understand His plan for my life. To give Him my everything. My hopes and my fears, my worries and my doubts. My joys and triumphs.

I want to surrender my control and fully depend on God.

Writing those words are scary.

What path might I be taken down to test my faith, my dependence on Him?

I have a feeling that this year will be one of growth and change, and while it is scary I am committed to seeking the One who has already brought me through so much. In every trial, every blessing, God has been there. So even if I am certain of only one thing right now, it is that He IS with me.

And that truth is enough to start my journey of depending on God in everything.

Did you choose a One Word for your new year? I’d love to hear what it is if you did!!

2014 – A Review

Battle Lake Sunset 2Our family just spent a week up in a “cabin”…which in this case is code for very large home on a lake with its own theatre room which was ridiculous…except for a few of the bathrooms that only provided cold showers, we were surrounded in luxury. It was nice to get away from the “normal” and spend time with my extended family.

My dad commented that most years we get about 4 hours together at Christmas, and this year we had several days. It was a treat and a blessing that God provided for us. Yes, God has really provided for us this year. It hasn’t come without hard work, long hours and sacrifices…but He has been good.

I have been thinking a lot about the past year and what I thought 2014 was going to bring. In some ways I can’t believe that it is over and in others 2015 can’t come fast enough.

One of the biggest and continued blessings of 2014 has been the community of women that God has surrounded me with. Women that support and encourage me. Women that pray over me and love without judgement. These women in my tribe are the greatest gift I could have ever received this year. While community wasn’t what I was seeking when I started this God-sized Dream journey 2 years ago, it has been better than I could have hoped or imagined.

At the beginning of 2014, with wobbly and knocking knees, I shared my hopes to be called to the platform and speak. It terrifies me even still because even thinking about it makes me want to throw up a little, but still it is a calling that I feel. And while 2014 brought only 2 opportunities, one for my husband and I together at church and another at a local MOPS group early in December, both were an honor to be a part of.

I think starting the year, sharing that dream, I thought that maybe there would be something “bigger”…but I was reminded recently when listening to my 40 Day Prayer Challenge devotional by Mark Batterson, that I don’t have to influence thousands….maybe God calls me to be an influence to 1 who then goes on to influence thousands. Each is important. And so while my dream to speak didn’t end up looking like I had hoped, it was a blessing to be given an opportunity to share my story at all.

Because our stories matter, don’t they?! Our hurts and our hopes, they need to be shared. I have said before that I started blogging because of one woman who was brave enough to share the difficult…and her testimony and faith were what got me through a very dark time in my own life.

If you feel called to share your story, do it! We may not get a book deal, or a viral post….but our words may touch the heart of another who is hurting and THAT my friends is what makes it worth it!

At the beginning of the year I also felt challenged to find balance for my home, work and family. I felt like God wanted that for me and so I made it my word for 2014. And can I just say that challenge was a FAIL. Like a BIG TIME FAIL.

I think I walked away from 2014 with less balance than I started! ;) So if you feel the same don’t feel discouraged! I am reminded once again that this road we are on is one of progress, not perfection. It is easy to look back at our year and feel like we have missed the mark. But I don’t want to end this year focusing on all the things that I didn’t get done, or I didn’t do well. Because intermixed in those failures are so so many blessings. And that is what I want to remember!

There has been growth in ways I hadn’t expected. Approximately 3 months ago I started my first 40 Day Prayer Challenge. I wasn’t sure what I expected, and with my track record of starting but not finishing so many other things….I didn’t hold high expectations for me on this. But yesterday I finished my 2nd 40 day challenge!

I have journaled through the process and while some of the prayers are yet to be answered, I have seen God moving and I can’t wait to keep going. I even got a new Prayer Circle Journal from my dear friend Delonna and it will be the perfect way to start praying through 2015!

Yes God has been moving.

So I leave 2014 filled with gratitude. No it didn’t always work out like I had hoped or imagined, but each step was a learning experience, an opportunity to grow, and for all of those things I am thankful.

And 2015? I thought I had a word to start the new year and now I feel like God has given me a different word. Because of course, and a little thank you to Christine who spoke life and truth to me this morning that helped in that revelation! I will share more about that tomorrow though.

Until then, can I just end this by saying thank you. Thank you for walking with me here, For encouraging me, believing in me. For each uplifting comment, and those who shared my writing. I know that many of us haven’t met in real life, but I count you all friends. You make this journey worth it! Happy New Year friends!

Today I am joining my friends over at God-sized Dreams linking up our dreaming stories from 2014!  And Kristin Hill Taylor’s Three Word Wednesday!

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