life beyond the well…


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Weekly Word- G

Happy Wednesday!  On this Valentine’s Day, as we think about love and the essence of it, I’m often reminded that love, when demonstrated well, allows us to be our whole selves and lets us feel safe.  With that thought, this week’s verse is:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1

The love of God is one that is compelling, but also one that is safe. We can truly find comfort and rest in Him, and in our weakness, He equips us with strength. I love that I can never escape the presence of God- whether it’s in times of trouble or times of joy.

I think we often utilize God has our place of refuge in times of trouble; however, I’d push us to think of using Him as a place of refuge even in absence of trouble.  We don’t have to be in trouble to “hunker down” and really spend time with God.  And it might just be that time spent “hunkering down” that helps to circumvent trouble.  I’m truly grateful that I don’t have to be in trouble to seek God or to experience His peace, help, or strength.

Until next time…

Be encouraged. Peace and blessings!

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Weekly Word(s)- D, E, F

Soooooo…I totally wasn’t expecting to get behind so early in the year! It’s true though, we set resolutions and goals, and usually by February, we’re off the wagon and on to something else.  I had a week of travel, followed by being back home and trying to get caught up with life after a week of travel (#firstthingsfirst), and so I missed a few weeks.  But we’re back!  And that’s what’s most important.  Also, shout out to my cousin and my mom with gentle nudges for accountability!  But without further adieu, here’s the THREE verses that I’m focused on:

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. – Isaiah 40:28

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. – 1 Peter 4:10

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7

I get really excited when I think of these verses, because it reminds me of God’s power to work on our behalf, and that which He places in us through the Holy Spirit.  My gifts and talents should be used in service of others, giving me the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those I encounter.  And while I may face things that are challenging, I have no reason to fear, because His spirit in me is one of power, love, and a sound mind (in other translations, self-discipline).

We’re at the point in the year where it’s easy to fall back into old habits as opposed to the new goals and resolutions that we had just a month ago.  I believe that if we truly lean in to God and His word, we will see the outcomes that we’re believing for this year.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!

 


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Weekly Word- C

This week there’s a two for one with verses, because I really wrestled with which one spoke most to my heart and which one I wanted to hold on to.  Truthfully, I need to hold on to both, and since that’s the case, that’s what we have:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

Far too often, I find myself trying to hold on to things that are beyond my control, when what I really need to do is bring it to the Lord.  When I truly trust that He cares for me, it is easy to bring my burdens to Him and rest in His love and promises.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and Blessings!


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The Praise that Matters

When we were growing up, Preacherman and I both played multiple sports. He played basketball, baseball, and ran cross country and track.  I played volleyball and basketball, and also ran track.  We both really enjoyed the experiences (you learn some valuable lessons on teams), as well as the opportunity to be physically active; and we desire for our children to hone in on some activities as well.

BabyAlmondJoy can walk (and run) now, and already LOVES being outside. And, since we know it’s never too early to get kids started with being active, we encouraged (read: told) my mom that a Little Tikes Basketball Goal would be a great Christmas gift (besides, you gotta start early if you’re going to play Carolina basketball).  It miraculously appeared at our home before Christmas (thanks Mom!), and it’s been a hit with the whole family.

This past week, we were having our mini “basketball practice”, and after putting the ball in the basket, we would cheer for BabyAlmondJoy. But I also noticed that something else would happen after we cheered- he (BabyAlmondJoy) would immediately run to Preacherman to get a big hug or a high five. Despite me standing right next to Preacherman, the only praise that mattered for BabyAlmondJoy was that which he received from his father.  It didn’t matter that I was there, it didn’t matter that I participated in the process with him, it didn’t matter that I celebrated just as his father did.  When BabyAlmondJoy wanted to receive praise for his accomplishments, he went directly to his father.

I wish I could say that I was like this. Despite me knowing that the approval of God is much greater than the approval and permission of man, time and time again, I find myself worried about what people will say, as opposed to what God says. And when I find myself in positions of worldly victory, there are times when I’m slow to acknowledge that any victory I’ve experienced is the result of God working on my behalf (in me, through me, and around me).

I’m grateful that God plants these small reminders of what matters most into the life and heart of my baby boy, and I pray that I’m always open to receive what He’s sharing. But beyond that, I pray that I remember who’s approval and praise matters most- and that I line up my actions accordingly.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!


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Weekly Word- B

Happy Wednesday! As I shared last week, I’m trying a new way to memorize scripture this year by finding a verse each week that starts with a different letter of the alphabet.  With 52 weeks in a year, I should go through the alphabet twice; and my hope is that this will challenge me to grow in my knowledge of God’s word (as opposed to relying on the same scriptures all the time.  Here’s the word for this week:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. –Ephesians 4:32

When we recall the grace and mercy that God has so freely extended to us, and the magnitude of his forgiveness of our sins, we should be willing to extend that same forgiveness to others.

To be clear, forgiveness is difficult and messy. Forgiveness is a process.  Forgiveness does not mean that we excuse someone’s behavior, but it does mean that we stop holding grudges, and we actively pursue God’s healing so that we (and they) can be made whole.

In order to get where God is calling us, there are things that we must leave behind. Who do you need to forgive so that you can truly move forward?  I’m praying that in 2018, your heart won’t be burdened by previous hurts and wrongs, and that God’s strength and power will enable you to forgive and move forward.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!


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Only the Father Will Do

There’s a running joke in our home that the first person to grab BabyAlmondJoy and get him his milk/breakfast after he wakes is his favorite person for the day. It’s as if whoever meets that first, most immediate need for him is the best parent ever, and over the course of the day, he will generally indicate a preference for that person. We attempt to tend to his needs equally; however, there are days and tasks that lend themselves to one person over the other.  Parenting (in the midst of the many other things we have going on) lends itself to teamwork and an ebb and flow as it relates to who does what. That said, sometimes I am the best parent ever, and other days, Preacherman wins the award. We cheer for each other, and make sure that above all, BabyAlmondJoy knows he is loved and cared for by both of us.

BabyAlmondJoy and I recently had a bout of sickness (really the entire time from Thanksgiving until Christmas) that left us oscillating between feeling okay and terrible, but never at 100%. After multiple trips to the doctor, and a few rounds of medication, we both showed signs of improvement; however, just before Christmas break, BabyAlmondJoy encountered yet another virus (complete with fever, rash, and general irritability).  We took another trip to the doctor, only for them to tell us that, “It’s a virus” and, “You just need to give it time”. And so we did.

During that time, BabyAlmondJoy could ONLY be consoled by Preacherman. Despite my best efforts to be the nurturing mama, he let me know that in this moment, only his father would do. My attempts and desires to console and care for him were nice, but he knew that what he needed to feel better was wrapped up in the arms of his father.  And so, for about 36 hours BabyAlmondJoy stayed glued to Preacherman. It was only when he reached a certain point of restoration and wellness that he allowed me and his sister to really engage with him.

Though my mama feelings were slightly hurt, my soul was encouraged; and I was reminded that there are situations in life where only the Father will do. While there will be times that God will send people to work on his behalf, there are also times where I need to rest in Him until I reach a place of healing, restoration, and wellness before I engage with others. In those times, I need to press into His presence so that I can be given and accept the healing that is needed.

Until next time…

Peace and blessings.

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” – 3 John 1:2

 


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Weekly Word- A

In the past, I’ve tried a couple of different methods to encourage myself to memorize scripture and really take hold of what the Bible says.  This past year, I saw that one of my Facebook friends does a weekly bible verse with her family based on alphabet- each week they memorize a verse that starts with a certain letter of the alphabet.  It seemed to work well, and I liked that it could encourage me to find/identify verses beyond the ones that I already know well.  That said, I’ll be trying that method this year, and posting here on Wednesdays for accountability (so y’all hold me accountable!).

This week’s letter is A, and our verse is from Matthew 7:7

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

I love this as a reminder for starting the new year.  Friends, what are you asking God for this year? What are you seeking? Where are you knocking? I pray that in your asking, seeking, and knocking; you are led by God down a path that leads you closer to His purpose for your life.

Until next time…

Peace and blessings.


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Stunted Growth

As a mom, I have really struggled with how fast the time passes. I remember others telling me that the time goes by fast, that if I blink, I’ll miss a moment. It’s definitely hard to hold on to that sentiment when you’re in the middle of newborn hazing and being fueled by prayer, adrenaline, water, and snacks. Now that we’ve successfully navigated the first year, I recognize just how fast the time is passing.

It is a wonderful feeling to watch your child grow and master new things. At least once a day he does something that makes me feel that my heart will explode from overwhelming joy. And while I enjoy watching this boy of mine grow so incredibly fast, there’s a part of me that wants to just hold him in this spot where I know that he’s safe, loved deeply, cherished, and valued.  Those aren’t things that the world can promise to my beautiful black son.

What I realized is that my well-intentioned desires to keep my son safe can also lead to stunting his growth. There are (and will be) things that he’s ready for developmentally, regardless of if I’m ready for him to be at that stage and it’s my responsibility to facilitate his growth and development, not stunt it. Being a good steward of his life requires that I (we) do all that we can to lead him as God leads us, to help him grow into who God has called him to be, in every aspect of his life.

For my mama heart, this means leaning in to God more and trusting His plan. It means yielding my worries to God, and embracing my little one’s curiosity and spirit of discovery. It means that I must intentionally raise the bar, time and time again, to show him that he is capable of great things; while also being willing to hold him accountable to  standards of behavior and character that are pleasing to God.

Lord, help us to steward the life of this child in a way that is pleasing and honorable to you. Help us to, with your help, lead him to levels unparalleled because of what you have planned for his life.

 


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Managing Motherhood

It’s been just over 13 months since Baby Ethan Toddler Ethan arrived, and at almost every turn, I find myself in a new situation.  These situations are usually solved by Google and other Mommy friends, but the overwhelming amount of “new” that I have encountered in the past year has done a number on my soul.

You see, I appreciate patterns, traditions, dependability, and reliability. Schedules and systems make me happy. Consistently venturing into the unknown is far from my idea of fun. Having an infant a toddler frequently means that a good chunk of what I’m doing from day to day is venturing into the unknown. While there are skeletal plans and routines, I’m never quite sure when a diaper blowout or projectile spit up can cause a readjustment of the plans. Just when I feel confident that we’ve gotten into a good routine, a growth spurt or teething or a sleep regression happens. And while that absolutely throws us off, in many ways, my ability to thrive through this phase of life depends on my willingness to be flexible, have appropriate expectations, and give myself grace.

Managing motherhood, as I’m coming to realize it, has been much more about how I manage me…as opposed to how I handle this tiny person to whom God has entrusted in my care. It’s been about developing a different kind of trust and faith, that truly believes that God equipped me to “Mama” this wonderful little human, and that we will be just fine.

Is it hard? Absolutely.

Is it exhausting? In the best kind of way.

Is it worth it? Totally.

More than anything, the experience has allowed me to begin to grasp the magnitude of love that God has for us. A love that delights, rejoices, and corrects because we are made in His image, and He desires for us to live a life that reflects that.

To God be the glory.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!

 


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The Limit DOES Exist

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

I have limits.  I have limits, and that’s okay.

If there was one thing that constantly resonated with me over the course of my pregnancy, it was that I have limits.

I grew up being told (and believing) that I could do or be anything.  And so I worked (and continue to work) as if that is possible. Adding that work with a hint of perfectionism, and you can only imagine how easily one can spiral out of control.

When I was pregnant, and now in this new period of life with an infant, I’ve had to say no to things.  I’ve had to ask for help. I have, in many places, been confronted with the truth that I can’t do it all.

And after being confronted with that truth, I’ve been comforted by the reality that it’s okay.

It’s okay because:

  • It’s not for me to do everything.
  • It’s not for me to be everywhere.
  • I’m not for everyone.

To be clear, when I say “it’s not for me…”, what I mean is that it’s not God’s will for me to do everything, be everywhere, and be for everyone.  Our lives have seasons, and in this season, I’m having to reestablish my priorities to make sure I’m keeping the main thing the main thing.

This is challenging for me. There are things that catch my attention–worthy causes, opportunities for personal advancement, events and outings–and more than ever, I find myself saying, “no”. Not because I don’t want to, but because in this season, it’s not for me.

Sometimes I feel bad; I feel guilty for saying no.  And sometimes it’s hard to explain. There are times where it’s not a matter of logistics (i.e.: there’s not a scheduling conflict), but it’s a matter of energy preservation.  I have to recognize when my tank is full…and when it’s running low. I also have to recognize the situations and circumstances that may take me from full to empty very fast- and govern myself accordingly.

In this season, I’m constantly reminded that good things aren’t always God things. With limited time, energy, and resources, I MUST be purposeful about what I’m doing and why. This season won’t last forever, but if I want the seeds that I’m sowing to reap a mighty harvest, I must be intentional about what I’m planting, where I’m planting, and why I’m planting.  And I believe that with that intentionality, God will send others to water those seeds and provide the increase.

I’m grateful for this season, for identifying my weaknesses and limits; so that God may be glorified and strengthened in me.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!