Spiritual Growth

Holding Plans with Open Hands

A box of pink polka dot paper products sits in my guestroom closet alongside a bag of Mickey Mouse ears. Matching Etsy printables remain unopened in an email inbox folder. A carefully curated note is bookmarked on my iPhone, ready to have items checked off. But with new restrictions coming out each day because of the coronavirus, it is unlikely that my dream “Oh Twodles” birthday party for my daughter will take place.

I know there are much more serious concerns around this global pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of people are sick and many are dying. Healthcare professionals and systems are overwhelmed. Workers are losing their jobs. Yet even though the worst effects of COVID-19 have yet to enter our home, I’m still humbled by how our plans so easily fall apart. Weddings are reduced to the minimum guest restrictions. Long-awaited concerts are moved to an Instagram story. Birthday parties are postponed or even cancelled.

While I pray for the infected patients and healthcare professionals who are facing this pandemic head-on, I’ve also allowed myself to grieve plans. I can’t snuggle the newborn baby of a good friend. I can’t watch the vows of my cousin and his new wife. I won’t get to see my daughter dressed in her Minnie Mouse outfit running around the backyard with her friends. God knows that every person is experiencing differing levels of grief in this crisis, and he is using each of our situations to teach us something about ourselves and about himself.

Continue reading “Holding Plans with Open Hands”
Spiritual Growth

The Pain of Anticipation

I think that God gives moms selective memory when it comes to pregnancy. We remember the sweet baby showers, the thudding heartbeat on the ultrasound, the feeling when the doctor first puts your baby in your arms. What you don’t remember is the absolute chaos your body was in for forty weeks. As I finally leave the first trimester of pregnancy, I hope to say goodbye to symptoms either I didn’t have in my first pregnancy or somehow I forgot.

One of the worse symptoms I’ve had so far is dizziness. My mom started to get concerned, so she brought over her blood pressure cuff and glucose meter so I could monitor what was going on. As soon as she pulled out the lancet (a small needle), I knew we had a problem.

I have an incredibly low pain tolerance. I’ll admit it; just a minor paper cut has my eyes watering. She hands over the small needle for me to prick myself, and I know I can’t do it. It took five minutes before I finally handed it to back to her for her to do it. An hour after every meal, I dreaded that little finger prick—that tiny, brief pain.

I came to realize that my anticipation of that little prick was worse than the pain itself. I agonized for minutes over what would last for less than a second. Then I realized, for me, that didn’t just apply to tiny pricks on my finger. My fear of suffering could be as agonizing as the suffering itself.

Continue reading “The Pain of Anticipation”
Spiritual Growth

I Have This Hope

A couple months ago, we took my daughter to the movie theater to see The Lion King remake. It was very nostalgic for me and my parents because The Lion King was my first movie to see in theaters as a child. I was so excited, and from the moment the sun rose on the screen, I was hooked. The Lion King has always been my favorite Disney movie, and I was thrilled with the actors and music in this new version!

But when the ravine scene arrived, I started getting anxious. I was already so attached to this new Mufasa, I didn’t want him to die. I kept thinking, maybe in this version, he’ll be okay. What a crazy thought! There would be no Lion King without that terrible scene. Simba wouldn’t be who he was without that pivotal life moment. There would be no “Hakuna Matata,” no “Can you feel the love tonight?” and not even a “Circle of Life: Reprise” without this heartbreaking scene. The movie writers twenty-five years ago wrote this tragedy into the life of Simba for a purpose. His story wouldn’t have been a blockbuster hit without it.

God brought back that memory to my mind last month, as my husband and I faced the greatest heartbreak of our lives. In October, we found out that I had a miscarriage. It’s something that I know is so prevalent, but I never thought it would be part of my story. Why did our family have to go through this? Why did God write this suffering into my story?

Continue reading “I Have This Hope”
Spiritual Growth

Fight the Feeling

Recently I was talking with a small group of women at my church, and one woman confessed some doubts she was having about her salvation. It’s a stressful time in her life, and she was struggling to believe that she was really saved. As she shared, I began to recognize lies from the Enemy that she was believing:

“I’m messing up too much, so how can I truly be saved.”

“I’ve lost the fervor that I had as a younger believer, so does that mean my conversion wasn’t real?”

“I don’t feel joyful or hopeful, so do I really have faith in Christ?”

I began to feel a holy fury rising up within me to fight for my dear sister against these lies, because I too once believed them. Shortly after getting married, in a time of great transition in a new town, working a new job, with a new husband, I began to question my salvation because I didn’t feel saved. I was wrecked by guilt, embarrassed to confess my faith struggles before my newlywed husband. I couldn’t even bring myself to come to God, fearing that he too would condemn me. Satan had me putting the emphasis on myself and my feelings, instead of God’s truth and faith in Christ.

What did my friend and I have in common? We followed our feelings instead of faith in God.

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Spiritual Growth

The Blessing of Missed Opportunities

The anxiety has been around long before the hashtag, but the trending #FOMO has brought to light a hidden worry—the fear of missing out.

It’s what keeps us glued to our phones, constantly refreshing feeds. It’s why we have devices strapped to our wrists that alert us as soon as new information is available. It’s why news syndicates thrive 24/7, keeping us full of the latest news and gossip.

But what happens when our fear turns into a reality? What happens when we actually miss out?

Continue reading “The Blessing of Missed Opportunities”
Spiritual Growth

3 Things I’ve learned in a Year of Transition

Today is the one-year anniversary of moving into our home in Birmingham. Now, that doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, but this past year has been a huge transition. In July 2018, within a two-week span, 1) we moved into our first home (in a new city!), 2) I quit my full-time job to stay home with our daughter, 3) my husband graduated from his graduate program, and 4) and my husband started his first full-time job. Add a four-month old to the mix for a bit more craziness!

You might think from that story that I love change—you would be wrong. I struggle with change. I have always had a hard time moving on from one season of life to another. My false hope that I can control a situation is completely shattered in times of transition. However, it is when any semblance of self-sufficiency is gone that God has taught me the most. Going off to college, getting married, starting my first job after graduate school—every time I “lost” the control I never really had, God revealed something about myself and about him.

Continue reading “3 Things I’ve learned in a Year of Transition”
Adoption

Dipping our Toes in the Jordan

We were so excited to finally announce last week that we are adopting! But as we begin this journey, we want to be honest about the hard part—the fear of the unknowns. How long will we have to wait? What will our relationship with the birth mother be like? Will we have a failed match? And one of the biggest questions looming our heads—how will we pay for this?

I’m not going to sugar coat it. This is an expensive process; less expensive than some adoption processes and more expensive than others. But as we prayed about whether this was God’s will for us to start the process, finances were our biggest obstacle. When we find out a mother has chosen us to love her child, will we have enough money to finalize the placement?

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Prayer

A Prayer for Daily Grace

I’m a planner. I spent way too much money on my planner notebook, but I use it every day (maybe even every hour). One of my favorite ways to plan is to look at something in the future (for example, a party or a vacation) and to work my way backwards to create small tasks to make sure I have everything ready for that event. I assign certain days for grocery shopping, meal prepping, and decorating or certain days for making an itinerary or packing. I want to make sure that I’m prepared for when that event arrives, because one of my greatest fears is being unprepared.

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Prayer

Prayer in the Mundane

Sometimes prayer is hard. It seems like it shouldn’t be. The Lord’s Prayer appears so simple. Yet time and time again I find myself lost in prayer. What should I pray for? How do I pray? What are the “magic” words to make it work?

And maybe it would be easier if the outcomes of my prayers were more obvious. If what I prayed for automatically and miraculously occurred when I said “amen.” I mean, as I study the Scriptures, I see some amazing stories of prayer. Continue reading “Prayer in the Mundane”

Prayer

How not to pray for your husband

Every month or so I’ll read another blog post that gives wives a list of ways she can pray for her husband. Many of these are very good resources, and I eagerly begin to add them to my prayer journal. But I recently realized that, though I had good intentions, my heart was not always in the right place when I would pray through these lists. Continue reading “How not to pray for your husband”