life beyond the well…


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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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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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Wait, it’s December?

Y’all, I CANNOT get over how fast 2014 has flown by.  How is it December 1? I still feel like there’s so much left in this year- so much that I’m still believing God to do; so much that I have left to do.

Preacherman and I just wrapped up one of the best Novembers on record.  We celebrated our anniversary, went to a Lecrae concert, headed to North Carolina for Homecoming at UNC, enjoyed time with family and friends, worshipped with friends at Hungry Church, ate entirely too much for Thanksgiving…and reveled in how much God has blessed us with this amazing life.

We’re starting December in Birmingham, Alabama, attending a conference on church-planting.  We are so excited to be launching Higher Definition Church in 2015, and there is MUCH work to be done.  Nevertheless, we are working, praying, fasting, and believing.  There are truly great things to come!

This December won’t be any less busy than November- but I am excited for this season that we are in.  Though we often feel stretched and pulled, those times force us to lean in to God, to trust where He has us and where He is taking us.  This journey, this life, is such an incredible gift.

Anyone else surprised that it’s December?  What are you grateful for in this season?

Peace and Blessings!


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Celebrating TWO

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Dear Preacherman,

It’s been two years.  Why is the time going by so fast?  At this rate, we will have to live to at least our 120 years, so that I can feel that I will have had sufficient time with you.

You are amazing; more than I bargained for, beyond what I imagined, the answer to my prayers.  Thank you for your love and your faithfulness, your leadership and your kindness, your relentless drive to pursue and fulfill God’s purpose for your life. You are absolutely one of the best people that I know and I am so glad to call you mine.

In these short two years of marriage, we have changed jobs and addresses; gained and lost weight, traveled to quite a few states, partially eaten our way around Jacksonville, figured out how to make salmon in a way that rivals Vin Rouge, gone to our first professional football game (and made it on the big screen), and shared more laughs than I can remember, nor that I ever want to forget.

Year three is sure to be an exciting one for #TeamAlmond and I’m while I’m excited about the things to come, I’m even more grateful that I get to face them all with you. Love you to the moon and back, Boss.

E5


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Recap: Pastors and Leaders Conference 2014

This past weekend, Preacherman and I had opportunity to attend the 2014 International Pastors and Leadership Conference hosted by Bishop T.D. Jakes in Orlando, Florida.  We loved every minute of it.

Being busy without direction is dangerous because it can lead you to waste time, energy, and resources.  One of the biggest gains from this conference was being able to understand the HOW and the WHY of what we should be doing in regards to our ministry.  Not only that, we left with a clear idea of what we can do right now in our church planting process.  Every night, Preacherman and I found ourselves making to-do lists, reaching out to people, and processing all that we were learning.

A huge highlight for us was being able to connect with people–meeting others on the same journey as us, meeting people who have been in ministry for years, and seeing friends and family.  Our pastor, Andy Thompson presented at the conference on Marriage and Ministry, and did a phenomenal job! His session was engaging and entertaining, but grounded in wisdom and biblical truth.  It is such a blessing to be under the leadership of him and his wife, and we are so appreciative of their love and support of us in this journey.

There really are no words to describe how full we felt after leaving this conference.  Since being back, we’ve been hard at work applying the things that we’ve learned, building relationships, and finally hitting a stride in the church planting process.  Though we are at the beginning of this journey, it’s exciting to see things begin to take off and move in the right direction.

To God be the glory for the things He has done.

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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25 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the End of 2013

I have my dear friend Jovian to thank for this.  She sent these questions out in an email to a bunch of us, and I thought I’d tackle them in this space…because I feel that doing so makes me slightly more accountable than just answering them in my head or replying via email.

So, let’s have at it (warning- this is long):

25 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the End of 2013

1. What am I most proud of this year?

I am most proud of my growth as a wife.  Every day, there are new challenges and new opportunities for growth.  In our first year of marriage, we had experienced changes beyond what either of us could have imagined.  I’m proud of handling the change with faith, and by being on the same team.

2. How can I become a better person?

I ABSOLUTELY must be better by asking for help.  Note to self: It takes a strong person to admit where they are weak, and to ask for help to become stronger.

3. Where am I feeling stuck?

In my pursuit of having a more healthy lifestyle. My current reasons have not been compelling enough, nor has my discipline been where it needs to be. I’m looking forward to overhauling this area, and really understanding my “why”; as well as creating SMART goals to make sure that I see the progress I desire.

4. Where do I need to allow myself grace?

In my role as a wife. Preacherman knows this more than anyone, but I am incredibly hard on myself.  I’ve decided to adopt Emily Ley’s motto as my own: “I will hold myself to a standard of GRACE not PERFECTION.”

5. Am I passionate about my career?

Yes! I love what I do, and who I serve. It’s been a huge area for growth, but it’s been rejuvenating and fun. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help students see the possibilities, and then make them realities.

6. What lessons have I learned?

Not so much lessons, but reminders: God is a faithful. God is love. God is a provider. God is…

7. What did my finances look like?

I’m extremely proud of our saving this year- we came up with a plan that works, and with God’s provision, we were able to handle a huge move in the short-term without taking much of hit.  This year, the goal is to live lean, save more, and to look for ways to build wealth.

8. How did I spend my free time?

Pre-move: lots of time was spent serving at church, and fellowshipping with friends and family.  Post-move: lots of time was spent on organizing our new home, getting acclimated to new jobs and a new area, and creating systems to make us more efficient.

9. How well did I take care of my body, mind, and soul?

I started out on a roll with all three- exercising and eating healthy, striving to learn new things, and purposefully seeking growth in my relationship with God.  As things got busy and life happened, I didn’t do as great of a job at balancing all three- I would maybe have 2 things going well, but missing the third one.  Again, I believe that creating SMART goals for 2014, along with clarity about what’s most important in this current stage of life will help me be better at all of these in the coming year.

10. How have I been open-minded?

In seeking, hearing, believing, and trusting the promises of God beyond what I can see or feel.  The circumstances of my life this year have required that I be more open to seeing, hearing, believing, and trusting the promises of God.

11. When did I feel most creatively inspired?

I don’t know if I can identify a time, but I know that I feel more creatively inspired to write (for this blog and otherwise) when I’m most balanced in my relationship with God and can hear Him clearly.

12. What projects have I completed?

Getting the new home organized and decorated.  It’s great coming home to a place that you love.

13. How have I procrastinated?

Dissertation.  See also #15.

14. In what ways can I re-structure my time?

Reducing some of the social media activity (although I LOVE the debates and conversations that take place on Twitter and FB), Scheduling meetings in the mornings, blocking out my day tasks- and not being afraid to say no to someone else’s “urgent” (your emergency is not my emergency) when it could be detrimental for me.

15. How have I allowed fear of failure hold me back?

Dissertation- the feedback that I have received while working on my dissertation has been the most critical feedback that I’ve ever received in academic work.  I’ve always enjoyed school, and I’ve always done well at it.  While I enjoy this, I find myself in a situation where I’m doing a ton of work that is extremely time consuming…only to get a significant amount of feedback of where you can improve.  It can be paralyzing to know that you’re doing all that you can to submit your best work and you KNOW that you’re going to get  a return email with your document…and even more corrections to make.  I definitely let this affect my mental approach to this work, and that CANNOT happen this year.  I need to keep the end goal in mind.

16. Where has self-doubt taken over?

In appearance- turning 30 in a workplace where the average employee is a female around the age of 23 or 24 and has their college metabolism and college body really forced me to think about what I wanted 30 to LOOK like and feel like for me, and how to really get to “my best self”.

In competence- my school work transitioned from classes to sole work on my dissertation.  I thought that without having classes, I’d miraculously have more time and the ideas and words would flow freely.  But that’s totally not what happened…and while I had moments of progress and inspiration, it wasn’t nearly as much as I’d hoped for.  When I coupled that with my inability to really master my time in the best way, I began to doubt my ability to complete the task at all.  I ended this year on a high note, making much progress and getting positive feedback from my dissertation chair.

17. When have I felt the most alive?

In moments with Preacherman and/or our little- working on math problems, making funfetti pancakes, watching the Cosby show, helping to wrap Christmas presents, singing “Jesus Loves Me” before bed, reciting our confession of faith together in the mornings.  All the little moments that I won’t always have.

18. How have I taught others to respect me?

Setting appropriate boundaries- especially at work has been extremely helpful here.  Being vocal about what I need, and refusing to take on too much has been incredibly helpful here also.

19. How can I improve my relationships?

Be more diligent in maintaining and creating them.  This is a challenge as an introvert, but it’s one that I need to overcome…particularly if I want to keep friends and make new ones.

20. Have I been unfair to anyone?

I hope not (LOL!).  I’ve probably been most guilty of being unfair in not extending the same grace to others that I would want extended to me.

21. Who do I need to forgive?

There are a few people who really hurt me over the past few years, and while it doesn’t hurt anymore; there are times where I find myself angry or frustrated about the way things panned out, especially after doing what I could to reconcile the situation. I need to be better about taking any negative thoughts captive and committing my mind to complete forgiveness.

22. Where is it time to let go?

Overworking/being a workaholic.  I need to place better energy on being productive while at work, and not always allowing things to carry over into home life. My first responsibility is to be the wife and steppie that God has called me to be.

23. What old habits would I like to release?

Being mean to myself/being too hard on myself. Grace, not perfection.

24. What new habits would I like to cultivate?

Consistency in reading: The Bible, devotionals, and other books to promote learning and growth

25. How can I be kind to myself?

As mentioned above, I think Emily Ley’s motto sums it up perfectly: “I will hold myself to a standard of GRACE not PERFECTION”


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Hosting Thanksgiving

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

Today Preacherman and I will host our first Thanksgiving as a married couple.  Last year we celebrated our first married Thanksgiving with his family, and this year we are excited for them to make the trip to visit us in Jacksonville.

While I love spending time with family and friends, I also enjoy time to myself.  It’s something that I have accepted as a result of being an introvert.  I’ve never been one to host events or have lots of people over, so today is a huge stretch for me, and I’m determined for it to be a good experience.

I recognize that devil can manipulate great situations, forcing us to miss the blessings in front of us.  Because of that, I prepared the following reminders to help me navigate this first thanksgiving hosting:

Lord, when I feel overwhelmed by the presence of people, help me to remember the blessing of family and fellowship.

Lord, when I feel annoyed by the dishes and the laundry, help me to remember the blessing it is to have food to eat and clothes to wear.

Lord, when I am disturbed by the noise, help me to rest in your quietness and remember the blessing it is to be able to hear.

Lord, when I feel frustrated and cramped in my home, help me to remember the blessing of having a home and having those to share it with.

Lord, let my fellowship and my conversation encourage others and bring You glory.

Lord, let us seek ways to serve others as a demonstration of our gratitude for all that You have provided for us.

Lord, let me remember that in every circumstance, you are in control.

Lord, let me have fresh eyes to see the beauty and blessings in every moment.

I’m believing that today will be a great day.  Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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Happy Year One!

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Dear Preacherman,

Happy Anniversary!  It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been a year since we gathered together in that church in my hometown, in front of a huge group of our family and friends, and got married. Time truly flies when you’re having fun!

There is so much that I could say about this past year, but I’ll just say “thank you”. Thank you for this past year.  For loving me more and more each day.  For being patient and kind.  For not keeping record of my wrongs (and there are many).  For pushing me to be better. For helping me to overcome challenges. For protecting me from challenges. For being my love and my best friend.

Thank you for your many sacrifices- of time, energy, and resources. Thank you for making me literally laugh out loud, every single day. Thank you for your unwavering dedication to God, me, and our family. Thank you for desiring to live a life of purpose, that will leave a legacy of faith for our family.  Thank you.

Cheers to you- the captain of #teamAlmond, the President and CEO of Almond Family Enterprises, my leader, my lover, my confidant, and my very best friend.  I love you and I am so grateful to share this life with you.

Love Always,

E5


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30- Better than Good to Me

Today is my 30th birthday.

I’ve been mulling around in my head (and with Preacherman) just what that means, and I honestly don’t have an answer.  It’s hard to believe that I’ve been alive for 30 years.  Last year, I marveled at turning 29 and the faithfulness of God over the past 29 years of my life.  I am constantly amazed at God’s faithfulness.

More than anything, I feel so incredibly blessed.  I got saved for real when I was 20 years old.  The past 10 years have been such an amazing journey.  When I think of all that God has done over my life, but particularly over those past 10 years, I am moved to tears.  I finished college and graduate school, had amazing jobs in Georgia and Florida, moved back to North Carolina for another amazing job, got married, and moved back to Florida with my husband to pursue the purpose that God has for our lives.

If I could put it into a song, it would be this one, sung by our church’s praise and worship team: You’ve Been So Good to Me.  Here are the lyrics:

Lord, You are good-  You’ve been so good.  Lord, You are good- You are better than good.  I can’t praise You enough.  I owe You my life.  I can’t praise You enough, even if I tried.  You’ve been so good to me…So many doors You’ve opened, so many ways You’ve made, so many times You’ve healed me- You’ve been better than good to me!

Yeah. That kind of sums it up for me.  I can absolutely look back over my life and see where God has been true to His word on so many different occasions.  Goodness and mercy has followed me, His plans have prospered me; given me hope and a future, Nothing has separated me from His love– all in His word and all in my life.

Cheers to 30!  I can’t wait to see what God has in store for the next 30 years

Another testimony of my 20s: “All we want and all we need is found in Jesus/All we ask is more of you/Nothing else can satisfy our hearts desire/All we want is more of you/For the Lord is good/And His love endures/Yes the Lord is good forever/And I’ll shout it out/from the mountain tops/Yes the Lord is good forever…” –Israel and New Breed “More and More


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New Beginnings…

“Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.” – Ruth 1:16 (NKJV)

“…Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” – Genesis 12:1 (NKJV)

On November 10, 2012; in the presence of God, my family and friends, I repeated the words above from the book of Ruth as a part of my marriage vows to Preacherman.  I knew that I was entering into a non-traditional life of someone called to be a pastor, and I knew that it would take us on a unique journey.  And while I knew about that, and was eagerly anticipating where this life would take us, I did not realize that it would take us to a new place so soon.

This past Saturday, Preacherman and I celebrated 9 months of marriage by unpacking our new home- in Jacksonville, Florida.

Yes, you read that right!  We have relocated to Jacksonville, Florida; leaving behind our family and friends, our church, and a ton of memories of a life well-spent in North Carolina.

And though we have left those things behind, we are so excited about what God has for us in Jacksonville!  The entire process has been a testimony of faith and provision, and we are overwhelmed with the love that God has for us.  We know that we have been called to Jacksonville to do a great work for the Lord and to build many disciples of the Lord.  We are excited about the people we will serve, and are praying earnestly for this city, its people, and to hear the voice of the Lord clearly so that we may be used as He desires to use us.

I cannot express enough gratitude to my family and friends who helped us with this huge undertaking of a move in such a short time period.  My aunts came to help me pack for several days, ensuring all of our earthly possessions were neatly organized into labeled boxes prior to the movers arriving.  They even came when we WEREN’T there, packing in our absence.  My mother flew in from Phoenix for a whirlwind weekend of helping us unpack and clean our home, so that we wouldn’t return from our new jobs with boxes upon boxes to unpack.  Thanks to her help, we are about 80% unpacked and our home is livable!  We are also incredibly grateful for our church family who has showered us with their love and prayers, sending us constant messages of encouragement.  Because of all of the love and support, we have been able to transition into this new beginning that God has provided for us with little stress.

Through it all, I am so incredibly blessed.

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!