life beyond the well…


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The Father’s Voice

In my immediate postpartum period, Ethan and I didn’t leave the house much. I was, as most mothers of newborns are, insanely sleep-deprived and just trying to figure out the basics of survival in our new normal.

Preacherman was able to enjoy some time at home with us, but soon he returned to work. He ended up missing just one Sunday from church (the Sunday Ethan was born), and for the other Sundays where Ethan and I were home, we were able to hear the message via Periscope or some other streaming technology.

Though Ethan and I were trying to master our routines, it seemed that without fail on Sunday mornings, something would happen that would have him upset. When I say “upset”, I mean, borderline inconsolable.  I would try everything–singing, rocking, diaper changing, nursing…and while each thing might provide a short moment’s relief, he would eventually be upset again.

Until he heard his father’s voice.

As soon as Ethan heard Preacherman’s voice, starting with the scripture, and going into the message, he would calm down; and eventually go into rest, usually falling asleep in my arms.

I’m a lot like Ethan.

There are things in this life that make me upset- borderline inconsolable, even. Unlike Ethan, I have coping mechanisms that are beyond screaming and crying uncontrollably. But like Ethan, I am immediately soothed to a place of rest and peace when I hear the voice of my heavenly father.

Truthfully, it can be hard at times to hear the father’s voice. The weight of the world can feel so heavy and the sounds of the world can be so loud.  But in those moments, it’s important that we press into His presence through prayer, praise, and worship- that we call out to Him so that we can hear what He has to say to us. No time spent in His presence is wasted and it is in his presence that we can experience the fullness of joy.

I feel challenged to make sure that when things around me seem so loud and overwhelming that I’m being diligent about pursuing God’s presence so that I can hear His voice.  Then I will experience the peace and joy that I’ve been longing for, and can be prepared to face the challenges of life.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!

 

 

 

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Covered.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. –1 Peter 4:8

I don’t wear it often, but I refuse to give it away. You see, with our Florida winters, there’s only a short window of time where it’s cold enough to warrant a heavy overcoat. But between the few weeks of a year where I find myself reaching for my heavy coats and the possibility of returning home to NC (traveling to any place warmer than Florida) when it’s winter, I believe it’s reason enough for me to keep them.

I probably SHOULD give it away.  It doesn’t fit as well as it used to, and I have more than one overcoat. But beyond commonsense reasoning, I keep this overcoat because she gave it to me; and while it physically covers me, it’s a reminder of how God will cover you–and will send people into your life to do the same.

When I was in graduate school, the Lord sent me to a church not far from campus. The pastor was young and engaging, and as a result; the demographics of the church were changing to include many college and graduate students. Though there were some pain points as I grew to learn and understand the church and it’s members, my time there was one of significant personal growth.  I will always cherish the time I spent there, and the people that I met.

She is one of the people that I met. Tall in stature, beautiful and elegant, incredibly smart, wonderfully transparent.  She shared wisdom with me, but also her life- mistakes and missteps, lessons that she’s learned, what she would do again if she could, and what she might never do again.  She shared herself.  We’ve lived hundreds of miles apart for almost 10 years now, but I still consider her to be one of the best gifts that God gave me.

When we met, I was a functional hot mess. I knew how to do school, but I was still figuring out how to do life (as an adult, living away from my family for the first time). And at a point where I was struggling to manage all the things, she swooped in and covered me. With love, she corrected me and covered me as I walked through a very difficult time of my life.  I am better because of her.

And so, I struggle to part with the coat because it’s more than a coat- it’s a physical representation of how God sent someone to my life to help cover me with love, grace, and mercy as I grew into who He called me to be. Though there are miles and years between then and now, I am so grateful that God loved me enough to send me her way AND that she was willing to invest her time, talent, treasure, and testimony into me.

I pray that I recognize the opportunity to do as she did for me, that I share my time, talent, treasure, and testimony with someone who needs it and that I lovingly cover them with grace and mercy to help them overcome their situations. To God be the glory.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and Blessings.


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Weekly Word- J

So, I (again) missed the last two weeks as things got busy and then I traveled home for family circumstances.  I’ll get us caught up over the next few weeks (expect 2 “Weekly Words” for the next two week).

All that said, it seems like for the past couple of weeks, I’ve mentioned how overwhelming the state of our country and our world can be (especially with our 24 hour news cycle and our level of connectivity through the internet and social media).  The more I hear (and continue to hear) of change upon change, whether it’s weather conditions or within our government, the more I appreciate consistency.  That said, this week’s verse is a reminder of that:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8

While everything around me may be in transition, I can rest in the fact that Jesus is not.  He is the same–his promises are true, and He is faithful to do what fulfill that which He has promised.

In some circles, one might have you to believe that faith in God and His ability to cause things to act and move on your behalf makes you weak.  I believe that true faith is requires strength.  You have to be strong to believe beyond what you can see, knowing that God can (and will) move on your behalf while others may doubt.

As the old hymn would say, “On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand…” While it may be tough, I’m grateful for Christ and his faithfulness; his renewed mercies, and his consistent love towards me despite my inconsistencies.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!


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Smudged Prints

I will be the first to admit that I can be better about housekeeping. It’s not that I don’t want to maintain a perfectly clean house; however, I have struggled to managed all of the components of what that means (i.e.: What systems of cleaning and organization need to be in place so that the house looks the way I want?).  With both Preacherman and I having demanding work schedules, along with leading a church, and parenting, tasks sometimes find themselves waiting to be completed late in the evenings, early in the mornings, or on weekends. We manage; however, it’s a goal to improve these systems and to simplify our life to truly be good stewards of the home that we have been blessed to have.

While I feel an urge to improve on systems for laundry, and vacuuming, and even the dishes; there’s an area that simultaneously annoys me, yet fills my heart to the brim: windows and walls.

Kids touch everything. It’s how they learn, and supervised exploring is healthy. On a daily basis, I find myself correcting BabyAlmondJoy as he touches all the things all the time.  And this touching and exploring means that I have windows and walls full of smudged prints, from tiny hands that are growing far faster than I can imagine.

The part of me that likes clean wants these smudged prints to go away.  I can say with a great deal of certainty that when my mother visits in a few months, she will ask me about when I last cleaned those windows or will remind me that a magic eraser or some touch up paint can easily fix the walls. But at the same time, my mama heart loves this beautiful evidence of the presence of a sweet boy who is starting to love learning and exploration a little more than he loves sitting in his mama’s lap.

So, if (when) you come over and see you see those smudged prints, don’t judge my housekeeping.  Instead, please pray for my mama heart to embrace the beauty of her baby growing far faster than she can grasp and to learn to love each phase of the journey- smudged prints and all.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!


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Weekly Word- I

Happy Wednesday! Over the past week, I was able to scale back some of my news intake and spend more purposeful time with my family; which helped me to focus more on the joy near me, as opposed to the chaos out in the world. This week, I’m continuing with a memory verse that I find to be encouraging, despite everything that is happening in our world.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

When I consider the state of this world, I can absolutely see (and sometimes feel) the trouble.  I need to spend more time focused on the promises of Jesus and the fact that He has already overcome the world.  It’s encouraging to know that through Him, I already have victory!

Reflecting on this verse for this week, also reminded me of this song.  These lyrics stood out for me:

But when I fix my eyes on all that You are, then every doubt I feel deep in my heart grows strangely dim. All my worries fade and fall to the ground, ’cause when I seek Your face and don’t look around any place I’m in grows strangely dim…

I’m challenging myself to focus more on His promises and His victory in this week as I reflect on this verse.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!


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Weekly Word- H

There’s a lot going on in our world. I’m a self-proclaimed news junkie (I like being informed), but lately, I find myself overwhelmed with everything that I see and hear and feeling a little on edge.  This week, there’s a two for one with the weekly word, as I found that I needed more than just one verse to calm my spirit and rest in my soul.

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 21:5

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

As I wrestle with everything that is happening, it is important for me to be able to trust the word of God and hold on to what I’m believing for this year.  Not only that, I need to remember that God keeps His promises; so beyond what I can see right now, He is at work to bring those things to fruition.

When I started this year, I made a promise to myself that I would be fearless; that I would move forward with bold confidence. It is important for me to take hold of the command issued by God  to be strong and courageous with the reminder that God is with me wherever I go.  I need to rest in the fact that there is no need to fear because I am never alone.  Ironically enough, when I try to operate in my own strength is when I find that I am most afraid.

Until next time…

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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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!