life beyond the well…


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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!

 

 


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4 (and a half) Months a Mama

It’s hard to believe that it’s been roughly 4 and a half months since we welcomed our sweet baby Ethan into our home.  I feel like every day I’m learning something new, and I’m watching him grow right before my eyes. Seriously–how is it possible that he gets longer while he’s away at daycare?

Being a mama has stretched me (literally and figuratively).  While I’d like to think that I’m the same person that I was prior to Ethan’s birth, I know that’s not true. And that’s not a good or bad thing- it’s just the reality of this new life that I’m learning.

There have been days where I have cried from frustration and exhaustion, wondering how it would all get done. There are moments in each day where I feel that my heart will explode from joy as I see the sweet face of my baby boy. There are days where the state of our country overwhelms me and I worry about the opportunity (or lack thereof) awaiting my beautiful black boy.

There’s much more that swirls through my mind and my heart, but more than anything; these 4 (and a half) months of being a mama have taught me how to trust God in a new way, because now it’s just not about me. It’s one thing for me to believe for me–it’s something totally different for me to believe God for someone else.

There’s a press that I have to operate at a higher level in God because I want Ethan to know God authentically, and Preacherman and I are his first teachers. I’m trusting and believing God for more, because I want my son to have a better life than what I have.

Trusting God as a mama has also comes in other forms- like when you live away from family and have to make decisions about your pediatrician, daycare, babysitters (send some, Lord!), and overall day-to-day care. At every turn, I’m being pushed to trust God more, to listen more for His voice, and to lean on the people that He has sent us in Jacksonville.

I struggle to remember my life before Ethan, and I’m so blessed to be a mama- and to be HIS mama. Truly, the Lord has done great things for me, and I am filled with joy! (Psalm 126:3)

“’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!

 


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Give Us THIS Day…

“Give us this day our daily bread…” – Matthew 6:11 KJV

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34 NIV

When I think about my life, there’s a good chunk of it that has been spent in worry and anticipation.  Worrying about things that may never happen and anticipation of things to come.  I think we can all identify with those feelings.

The challenge with oscillating between worry and anticipation is that, if you’re not careful, you’ll be completely absent from the present, missing the moments that will soon be memories.  I don’t want my life to be like that.  I want to fully drink in the thirst of this day, celebrating the successes I experience and growing from the challenges I face.

We’re currently fully immersed in newborn hazing, which includes lots of quiet days and not-so-quiet nights.  Operating off of little sleep is not one of my skills, and according to Preacherman, I fall asleep faster than any person he’s ever met.  But this season requires that I am attentive to the baby’s needs, and while I am looking forward to the days where he (and I) will sleep through the night, I don’t want to miss the moments of today.

I pray that I always remember his newborn smell and how it feels to have him snuggled against my chest in those early morning hours that he and I share.  I pray that I never forget how he positions his hands while he’s sleeping or the faces that he makes when we swaddle him.

He’s only going to be this little for a short period of time.  I mean, he’s already close to a month old (Lord, how?!?), and if that’s any indication for how fast the rest of his life will go, I just know that I can blink and he’ll be starting school, sneeze and he’ll be graduating, yawn and he’ll be off to college.

The days are long, but the years are short.

And while they are long, it’s up to me to maximize each day; to find the beauty in these mundane and difficult to manage moments; to trust in the Lord for his daily provision- his daily bread…and to not worry about anything beyond what’s in front of me.

Lord, help my mama heart.  Help me to not just endure these moments, but to also enjoy them. 

Until next time…

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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4 Days Early, Yet Right On Time

I just knew I had one more week.  At least that is what I was telling myself.  My “last week at work” to do list was growing by the minute, and though Preacherman had put me on his own version of homestay/bed rest, I was determined to knock out a bunch of tasks at home in our “last weekend before baby comes”.

Except in our “last weekend before baby comes”, the baby actually came.

Thanks God!

No, but for real.  Thank you, Lord, for this most beautiful blessing.

We’ve made it through our first week, and it’s been a mix of good days, better days, sleepiness, tears (from him and from me), and the best baby snuggles.  Oh, the snuggles are everything.  Like, drop everything and snuggle.

I digress.

Baby Ethan arriving early (yet on time), has been yet another reminder of what God has been teaching me all year, which is:

  • I got you.
  • I run this, not you.
  • You’ve got what you need.  Just trust me.

Throughout my pregnancy, we saw God’s faithfulness and provision over and over again and in the most unexpected places.  As I struggled with understanding the magnitude of what was to come, I heard God speak to me, saying:

“I will provide the people, or I will provide the power.  Either way, I will provide.”

And yes, that promise has been fulfilled over and over again.

But then there’s the other reminders (some gentler than others) that I am not in control.  Which, for my perfectionist heart, can lead to so much fear.  And over and over again, God would come through in ways that just left me feeling so encouraged and loved.

More than anything, I wanted to “be ready” for Ethan’s birth.  With this being my first child, I had no idea what that really meant, but it was super important that we have everything, in the right place, ahead of time, because if we don’t, it will all fall apart.  So I talked with friends, reviewed list after list online, ordered some items, and got to work.

And he came 4 days early.  And we didn’t have everything. And what we had wasn’t all in the right place.  But- it didn’t fall apart.

Any “item” that I so urgently needed- was in place.  But what had really happened; the most necessary thing that was ready- was that I WAS READY.  Despite how I felt, I was ready. And perhaps it is fitting that the first step in this journey of parenthood was a reminder of how much God has equipped me to be this sweet boy’s mama, and that I can trust Him for everything else.

Oh my sweet boy, you are such a blessing to your mama’s heart. I can already see how God has an awesome plan for your life.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and Blessings!

 


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Welcome Home Baby Ethan!

 

On Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 6:36pm I gave birth to the most amazingly handsome baby boy- Ethan Micah Almond.  We welcomed him home on Tuesday, May 17 and have been on a glorious rollercoaster ever since!

To say that Preacherman, our little, and I are excited would be quite the understatement!  We’ve been excited throughout the entire process of my pregnancy, so meeting Baby Ethan in person has filled my heart with joy.

And yes, that’s why I’ve been quiet for most of the year.

Well, not exactly.  I mean, things got busy, I got (more and more) pregnant, and I had to make a decision to keep the main thing the main thing- which meant focusing and prioritizing my life so that we could all be fully prepared to welcome this beautiful gift of God that we have the joy of guiding through life.

God really used this pregnancy as a time to speak to me about me- my heart, my desires, my fears, my limitations.  I can’t wait to share more of that with you in the coming days/weeks/months.

Until then- please continue to keep us all in your prayers as we begin to navigate this new phase of life!

Be encouraged! Peace and Blessings!

 


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8 months.

“Now death where is your sting
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated

Forever, He is glorified
Forever, He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen
He is alive
He is alive”

I talk to him frequently now.  That wasn’t always the case. After years of being caught in the crossfire as he battled addictions of various kinds, I made the decision to let go of the weight prior to getting married.  As I was on the brink of beginning my new life, I knew that it was important to deal with the issues that plagued me and to make clean breaks where necessary.

It was a tough decision, but when you watch someone you know struggle and wallow in the depths of addiction for years, I knew that my behavior had to change.  I could no longer be a partial enabler to destructive behavior.

So, I made my break.

It hurt.

I cried.  I prayed.  I believed.

I cried.  I prayed.  I believed.

I had gotten to the point where my prayer was not for our relationship to be reconciled, but for him to be delivered and come to know Jesus.  What good is reconciliation on this end, if we spend eternity apart?

And then, last November just days prior to leaving on an anniversary getaway with Preacherman, I got a phone call.  The phone call that you don’t want to get.  The phone call that changes everything.

Something had happened to him.  There wasn’t a definitive answer as to what.  But after a few more phone calls, it became clear that we needed to be there.

And so we went.  Uncertain of what we might see.  Unsure of what we might hear.  We went in faith, believing that this would be the point of no return; from whence his life would be changed.

When you hit bottom, it’s a long way up.

But he’s climbing.  God answered our prayers that this time would be different.  And when I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago, a few days shy of his birthday, he told me that he’s been clean for 8 months.

8 months and counting.  After battling some form of addiction for the last 17 years, 8 months clean is amazing.  God has done a wonderful, transformative work; not just in his life, but in our relationship.

I included Kari Jobe’s “Forever” lyrics at the top because I have yet to identify a better description of what has taken place in his life.  Through the power of God, death has been defeated in his life.

I have enjoyed many things in this life, but nothing compares to watching someone go from death to life. To God be the glory for the things He has done.


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Worth the Wait.

I married Preacherman at 29- which was about 4-5 years longer than I wanted to be single.  In my perfect life plan, I would have been married at 24 or 25, with babies coming along around ages 27-28.  I’d have finished having babies by 32 (at the absolute latest).  And we’d live happily ever after.

So, based on my own perfect life plan, I’m a little behind.  And while I generally hate being behind on things, I’m okay with it, because it has been worth the wait.

I love that I know and see so many young women who desire to be Godly wives; who spend their time committed to their church, and pursuing God so that they can be who God has called them to be.  And while I know from my own experience that waiting to be found can be a struggle, let me encourage you- IT IS WORTH THE WAIT.

I know that you get tired of hearing it. I know that while you’re happy for your friend, you’re not excited about adding another bridesmaid dress to your closet. I know the excitement of welcoming your friend’s newborn into the world, while wondering if you’ll ever have that life for yourself.  But please know, that it IT IS WORTH THE WAIT.

There’s nothing wrong with you for waiting.  But don’t wallow.  Enjoy your single time.  Travel. Shop. Save money. Start your business. Finish that degree. Follow the dreams that God has placed in your heart while you’re waiting- because when you get married, it’s not the same.  Marriage requires a consideration that isn’t necessary when you’re single–a consideration of another’s thoughts, dreams, purposes, and plans, and you have to proceed with prayer and caution.

I wish that I could say that I waited patiently to be found by Preacherman. If only that were the case. There were times where I would be content with my singleness, and there were times where I tried to force relationships that I knew weren’t for me.  But once I truly committed myself to my singleness, and becoming the best person that I could be, things (slowly) fell into place.

Please know, you are worth the wait- and it’s better to be alone than in bad company. My prayer is that you are able to enjoy this season for the blessing it is and understand the purpose it serves in your life and for the husband and family that you will soon have.

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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Stuff Kids Say…

Our little one is growing by leaps and bounds, and it’s something that gives Preacherman and I great joy.  She has taken kindergarten by storm, and we’re excited to see how she’ll continue to mature and develop.

Kids are funny.  As with the Lord, their thoughts and ways are not like ours.  It’s funny to see and hear this come forth in conversation.  Here’s a snippet of last night’s conversation (we were talking about the different classes she has at school):

Preacherman: “So, in technology class, do you use computers or ipads?”

Our little one: “We use computers. THAT’S why it’s called TECHNOLOGY.”

Well, I guess that settles it!  Preacherman and I had a good little laugh about that.

Parenting is a joy and a blessing.  What are some funny things your kids are saying?

Be encouraged!  Peace and blessings!


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Recapping 2014

I can hardly believe how fast 2014 has passed.  I have such vivid memories of last New Year’s Eve, that I find it hard to understand that we’re at another one.  As I get older, I find this saying to be more and more true: “The days are long, but the years are short.”

This year has been nothing short of amazing.  Preacherman and I continue to fall more in love with Jacksonville, the people, and our hearts are broken for the city.  We are so excited to be here and to be used by God to reach others for the Kingdom.  Though there are times where we find ourselves missing North Carolina, our family, our friends, and all the great restaurants we love; we are enjoying the challenges of getting acclimated to a new city, making new friends, and finding new restaurants to love.  I’m finally starting to find my way around to the point of not requiring Google Maps directions everywhere I go.  A new grocery store has opened up closer to home that allows me to get fresh salmon weekly.  Our little one started kindergarten this year and continues to amaze us.  Small victories, but victories nonetheless.  We are truly blessed.

And now we gear up for 2015.  We are praying and believing for God to move in us and through us like never before.  2015 will be a landmark year in our lives, and I’m looking forward to watching things unfold!

Believing God’s best for you and yours in 2015!

Be encouraged!  Peace and blessings!