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Faith Family Goals

Happy New Year?

It’s a New Year! A time where people make new goals, dream about the upcoming year, and hope that things are better than the last year.

I was looking back at my social media posts from last year…you know, the ones with champagne and talking about making 2021 the best year yet…and it broke me. 2021 was hard. The first seven months brought challenges and betrayal that I never imagined (I share my journey in previous blog posts). It was really hard. And, yes, God in his amazing grace, redeemed the final months and brought peace, joy, and unity to my life and relationships. My faith is deeper and more real that it has been in years…praise Jesus through the hard.

But, as the calendar moves into 2022, I’m wary. To be honest, I’m afraid that 2022 will start of the same as 2021…God did amazing things in the life of me and my family, but I don’t want to go through that hardship again.

(It’s silly, but last year was the first NYE that my husband and I were in two different locations — we didn’t get to bring in 2021 together. So, I told him that I didn’t care what we did for NYE this year, as long as I was with him. As if that was what threw off 2021. 🙄🤣 )

I’m working to trust God and his goodness — that he will continue to provide and care for me and my family. But, I’m entering 2022 slowly. I’m not dreaming big dreams or planning big goals. There is no word of the year for me this year, etc. I’m simply going to take each day as it comes (I mean, I’ll still be planning things — it’s what I do) and trust God. I’m not going to try to force his hand and rush his schedule for my life.

Maybe you’re like me. Has the weight of life’s issues made you wary of the new year? I still have hope and joy, just taking it one step at time. Because if there’s one thing I learned in 2021, it’s that God is by my side through all my trials, that he is standing in the fire with me, and I have joy because of how he has brought me through every battle.

“There was another in the fire, standing next to me. There was another in the water, holding back the seas. And if I ever need reminding of how good He’s been to me, I’ll count the joy in every battle, ’cause I know that’s where He’ll be.” Another In The Fire

Here’s to the New Year and taking one day at a time, trusting God’s plan, and digging deeper in all my relationships.

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Faith Family Goals

This Is Me

Today, December 13th, is my 43rd birthday and I’m amazed at how fast this year has flown by! This year had it’s ups and downs, but overall, I feel amazing and that the Lord brought me back to life this year.

I know that many people dread getting older, but the deeper I get in to my 40s, the more I love it! Yes, my hormones can be a little wacky, but I’ve found some natural ways to keep them under control. I’ve had to cut back on some of my running miles, but I’ve become stronger and have learned to appreciate rest, stretching, and a good walk. I love being in my 40s, because I am comfortable in my skin and being who God created me to be…not just saying it to convince myself (ahem…30s), but truly feeling it deep in my soul.

I’ve seen amazing growth in my relationships. I’m more honest and real with how I feel…and less second guessing everything I do. Instead of having pity parties about how I don’t feel seen or understood (how I don’t fit in), I’ve embraced the way God made me and the result…I’m more fully able to love the people around me — my husband, my kids, my parents, my friends, my neighbors, and those I’ve never met.

I feel my age. I know that sounds weird, but there were so many times in my 30s, that I would still think of myself as 18…and then get upset when I didn’t look or feel that young. Now, I’m stronger and healthier than I was 10+ years ago, but I “feel” my age in the wisdom and perspective that comes with getting older. This means that I’m not trying to be a younger version of me, but embracing where I currently am.

Don’t get me wrong — I still say and do stupid things and second guess myself. But, I am growing with each new year and becoming more of the woman God has created me to be. I rest in the love of my Heavenly Father, able to fully love myself and others.

Thank you, Lord, for your continued work in my life, year after year. I’m excited to see what you have planned for this next year!

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Faith Family

Give Thanks

Although I try to live a life of constant gratitude, Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on all the good that God has done this past year.

I’ll be honest, the first seven months of 2021 were hard for our family. God took us through the fire and cut some big anchors, but through it all, his promises remain true: he is good and loving and has a plan for me and my family.

True to his Word, the past four months have been filled with incredible joys. God took the really hard and used it for His good and our good.

I’m thankful for my incredible husband — for his amazing servant’s heart and love for me and how God has grown our marriage and made it stronger. This year has grown his love for our our neighbors, his patience, and his grace. His response to the hard has blown me away.

I’m thankful for how God has worked in my son’s life spiritually and socially. Edmund has grown in his faith (was baptized this past Sunday!) and has excelled at school and in his relationships…all while entering the middle school era. BTW, today is his birthday!! My hilarious boy is 12 years old!!!

I’m thankful for the healing that God has brought into my daughter’s life. She struggled a lot with anxiety and depression the beginning of this year. In June she began seeing a counselor and started on medication. It’s been great to see my joyful kind-hearted girl again! Plus, Elise went to Honey Rock camp this summer for 12-days and her inner fierceness emerged — she fell in love with rock climbing and riflery! God has also brought some great friendships into her life.

I’m thankful for how God has worked in my life through the hard. He has grown my faith as I have learned to trust him and his faithfulness through the good and the bad. I’m thankful for the church God lead us to four months ago. I have a freedom and joy that I didn’t realize had been missing the past few years. I feel like God has brought me back to life!

I’m thankful for my parents, my sister, and her family who has stood by our family through the hard. My parents moved to the new church with us and God has already used them there! We were most concerned about the transition for my mom, who has dementia, but she LOVES it and looks forward to church every Sunday. She’s the perfect example of “people might not remember what you say, but they remember how you feel.”

Thank you God for upholding and sustaining all of my family through the really hard times this year. And I know that you will continue to sustain us in the years to come.

I’m thankful for God’s faithfulness to me and my family…his promises are strong and true.

A couple of weeks ago, we sang the song “Promises” in church. The words really spoke to me and all God has done in my life:

“God of Abraham, You’re the God of covenant, of faithful promises. Time and time again You have proven You do just want You say.

“Though the storms may come and the winds may blow, I’ll remain steadfast. And let my heart learn when You speak a word, it will come to pass.

“Great is Your faithfulness to me. Great is Your faithfulness to me. From the rising sun to the setting same, I will praise Your name. Great is Your faithfulness to me.

“God from age to age, though the earth may pass away, Your Word remains the same. Your history can prove there’s nothing You can’t do — You’re faithful and true.

“Though the storms may come and the winds may blow, I’ll remain steadfast. And let my heart learn when You speak a word, it will come to pass.

“Great is Your faithfulness to me. Great is Your faithfulness to me. From the rising sun to the setting same I will praise Your name. Great is Your faithfulness to me.

“I put my faith in Jesus. My anchor to the ground. My hope and firm foundation. He’ll never let me down…”

Amen. He will never let me down!

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Faith Family

Time For a Change

Have you felt called to do something, but keep putting it off and waiting for a better time? Then, when you finally make the change, you wish you had done it sooner?

Maybe it’s getting healthy? Maybe it’s changing a career? Or maybe it’s leaving the comfort of a place you’ve been a part of for most of your life for something new and different?

I finally cast all fear aside and made a change what God has been prompting me (and my husband) to do for years. After 36 years (!), I said good-bye to my church for another one. Walter and I felt God calling us to move churches about 5-6 years ago, but for one thing or another, we stayed. After all, I’ve been attending that church since I was in first grade. I grew up in that church, met my husband (when we were adults working with the high school youth group) there, got married there, and baptized our children there. I served in the junior high and senior high youth groups for about 9 years and was a part of the worship team for 20+ years!

The easy thing to do was to stay…when God was calling us to better things. Over the summer, God started closing doors and made it so incredibly apparent that now is the time. So, the beginning of August, I said ‘yes’ to God’s plan and went to a different church.

And, WOW, did God move in my heart! I was filled with the Holy Spirit and moved by God’s Word in ways that I had been missing the past 5-6 years. My cup was filled to overflowing and I felt the anger, hurt, and bitterness that had been building inside me disappear. I didn’t realize that those years I chose to stay at my church was failing to fill me and instead continued to drain me. I’ve been running on empty the past few years, finding my faith through personal devotions and listening to worship music, losing my desire for church and community.

I’m thankful I finally listened and took that step toward God’s plans for me and my family. Even though the road has been hard, I’m thankful that God has made it crystal clear that now is the time to leave. I’m thankful that my husband and I are on this journey together.

How about you? Is there something in your life (big or small) that God has been calling you to do? Stop taking the easy road and start living fearlessly.

As I stood with tears in my eyes praising God that first Sunday, I kept thinking, “I wish we had listened and left 5 years ago.” All praise to God who never gives up on us and finds ways to move our stubborn hearts toward all he desires for us.

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Faith Self-care

To Be Known

One of the greatest desires of our hearts is to be seen and known. I’ve struggled most of my life with feeling like I’m on the outside looking in or feeling invisible…being the last to the party and not knowing where I fit in.

I started attending a new church a few months ago. I’m thankful for God’s goodness, guidance, and direction, but it was hard and intimidating to leave and go somewhere else. Oh, but what joy is found when we follow where God is calling us to go!

Anyways, I have obviously been meeting and getting to know some new people. I’ve always been a good conversationalist and able to engage with anyone. I’m willing to be the first one to stick my foot in and test the waters of friendship. I’m used to carrying the conversation and asking the questions of others.

However, in getting to know these new people, the tables have been flipped. After meeting people once, they have remembered my name and invited me to hang out. In one on one settings, they have asked me about myself and got me talking. Each time, I’ve apologized for monopolizing the conversation. Each time, I’ve been told that they wanted to hear my story and know me — that we will have plenty of other times to get together and talk…and they continue to invite me to events and engage with me.

I’m not invisible. I’m being seen. I’m being known. And I’m accepted.

It’s a weird feeling. And awesome.

Outside of my amazing husband, with whom I am amazingly known and loved (and my family), this is a new experience for me with strangers and new acquaintances.

I can feel God working in my heart and healing me – addressing the issues that I have stuffed deep and thawing my frozen heart. And maybe someday down the road, I’ll finally learn how to be vulnerable with friends, share my hurts and experiences, and still be known and loved.

I’m wary and nervous, but trusting God as I let myself be seen, known, and loved.

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Faith Goals

Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

This might be the biggest lie that we teach children. Words wound deeply and can stick with us for years.

I was pondering this on my way to teach P.E. to 5th-8th graders the other day. My first class of the day is 6th grade and my son is in that class. Trying to be funny about not liking the activity we were doing, he said something that hit on my biggest insecurity and took the wind out of my sails. Words hurt.

I’ve seen people I trusted say hurtful things about my family, labeling and accusing, demeaning and laying us bare. Words that cut deeply and left us raw and exposed. Words that are still trying to heal. Words hurt.

I’ve watched my daughter’s anxiety rise as a result of the careless words spoken impulsively by kids she considered her friends. Words hurt.

Words can also heal.

I’ve watched my daughter radiate joy when her brother compliments her on something she has done that is really important to her. Words heal.

I’ve watched my son’s chest expand and smile return as his dad praises his performance and tells him how proud his is of him. Words heal.

I’ve felt acknowledged and affirmed when a new friend has shown genuine care and asked to spend time with me. Words heal.

How are you using your words? Are you using them to lift someone up and encourage them or are you using them to bring others down?

I’m working to pause before speaking and keeping harsh words to myself, because I know how words can hurt.

And I’m choosing to tell someone every day something affirming and encouraging, because I know how words can heal.

“Kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24, NLT

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Faith Family

Grateful

“I just wanna say that I’m grateful for all of the ways you’ve never left me behind. Oh how irresponsible is your love. I just want to praise your name for all of the ways you keep chasing my heart. Oh how irresponsible is your love.” Irresponsible by JUDAH

“Yeah, I’m thankful. Scratch that, baby, I’m grateful. Gotta say it’s really been a while, but now I’ve got back that smile. I’m so thankful. Scratch that, baby, I’m grateful. Gonna see me smiling from a mile, finally got back that smile.” Smile by Katy Perry

Gratitude is a choice. It’s choosing to be thankful even in the hard…especially in the hard. Life is not always easy, but when we live a life full of gratitude, we are able to appreciate all the good things that God has done and see that the blessings far outweigh the struggle.

The past 18 months have a been a challenge for many families, mine included. While 2020 was filled with a lot of physical pain (son’s broken arm and surgery, sister’s broken ankle, niece hospitalized with mono, etc.), 2021 has been a struggle spiritually, emotionally, and relationally. But God, in his awesomeness and lovingkindness, is doing great things in my life and my family.

Sometimes it takes really hard stuff to move us in the direction God wants us to go. Sometimes God uses the hard to cut the ties that anchor us to where we are. God has worked in my life and my family’s life in incredible ways recently. Are we still wounded and hurting from the struggle? Of course. But God is healing and mending our hearts and doing a mighty work.

Just like God used the hardships and craziness in Joseph’s life to save Israel, God has used this time to bring redemption and sustenance to my soul. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” Genesis 50:20 NLT

How is God using the hard in your life to bring you into his blessings? When I’m tempted to focus on the past and the hurt, I choose to focus on the present and count my blessings…grateful for all the good God is doing and continues to do in my life.

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Faith Family Parenting

School Daze

It’s the middle of August and kids are heading back to school. My kids start next week, but my first day back was today (second year as a P.E. teacher). I love my job and where I teach, but I’m having a hard time transitioning back to school.

I love the summer. I love the free time, the vacations, and the adventures with my kids. I love hanging with friends, sleepovers for my kids, and time with family. I love the warm weather, awesome thunderstorms, and long days. There’s always an excitement about school, but right now I’m in mourning.

(For many of you, this is the first time back since March of 2020 — my kids were fortunate to be in school full-time all last year, so this was a regular summer break.)

Perhaps some of it is because my oldest is starting Junior High, so this mama has some anxiety about how he will handle the additional work and pressures…and how he will behave. I know he’ll do great, but it’s new territory for us. I’m also aware each day how quickly time is passing.

My daughter has struggled with anxiety and is doing so much better (she is super excited for school), however, I’m praying for few setbacks as school starts up and the pressures that come with it.

We had a great summer, but it was also a tough one spiritually and emotionally…and we’re still feeling a little bit raw and beat up. Part of me wants some more time to recover and heal…while the other part knows that it is time to move forward.

So, I’m trusting in God day by day as we move toward our new “normal”, knowing that he will guide my family along the way.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

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Faith Family

Eye-Opening

I’ve spent a lot of my life pigeon-holing and judging. I’ve expected people and places to look, act, and respond a certain way. And I’ve been frustrated and angry when they refuse to change to meet my needs.

Maybe it’s age allowing me to look at things differently…or perhaps I’m finally hearing and seeing what God is trying to tell me and show me.

I’ve done this with health and fitness. There are universal truths of health and fitness, but not one-size-fits-all. Everyone’s body is different, so different forms of exercise work best for different people. We all know how to eat healthy, but there are certain diets/styles of eating that work best for different body types. Find what is healthy and what works best for your body.

I’ve done this with church. The Gospel is the core of the Christian faith, but how people grow in their faith and understanding of God and the Gospel is different for everyone. For some, they want the deep-dive, intellectual approach. Some want to experience the Holy Spirit through music and gospel teaching. I’ve spent years frustrated with my church because I was trying to make it go the way I best experience God…but what might not be God’s plan for that church. Find a church that points you to God and his glory and helps you find joy in him.

I’ve done this with my relationships. I put expectations on my husband, kids, family, and friends that I don’t hold myself to. I’ve felt left out and uninvited, when so many of my friends feel the same way. I judge others for not being there for me, but am I there for them? Find ways to love others and let got of expectations.

What about you? Do you find yourself discontent with others and the world around you? Perhaps we all need to let go of expectations, stop assuming, and open our eyes to the possibilities and needs of others around us…to see the world with new eyes.

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Faith Family Self-care

Just Because

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written. Life has been a little crazy and we have been dealing with some hard things in our family. I’ve spent my moments caring for my husband and children, learning about who we can trust, and running to my Father in heaven who loves me, knows me, and comforts me.

In my quiet times, the song “Just Because” by Judah has touched my heart and reminded me of God’s undeserving love for me and my family.

Below are the words and you can listen to the song here:

“Boldly I come into his arms / with nothing to bring but all of my heart / How could this be? The way He looks in my eyes / All broken and crimson sin, He sees only white.

And I can’t do anything to gain what He’s done / He just loves me, ’cause He loves me, ’cause He loves me, just because He does

Tired and afraid, forgotten what’s paid / so I’ll hide in my shame, like an orphan in chains / I ran from my promise, but it’s never enough / ’cause my walls and my mountains always run out of luck

And I can’t do anything to deserve what He’s done / He just loves me, ’cause He loves me, ’cause He loves me, just because He does

I’m His beloved, I am His friend / His love has no limit from beginning to end / No angel or demon will ever separate / me from His goodness and His wonderful gaze

So let me remind you of all that He’s done / He just loves you, ’cause He loves you, ’cause He love you, just because He does

You are His favorite; You are His friend / No weapon against you ever stands a chance / Not heaven or hell, nor darkness or light / will ever deny you of His wonderful smile

So I won’t be silent; it’s too good to be true / He just loves you, ’cause He loves you, ’cause He love you”