I sit down with my coffee and my Bible. I get settled in and open my journal and my Bible. I hear stirring from the baby monitor. The baby woke up. Again.
In high school I used to spend long stretches of time reading my Bible. In college, my workload got more intense, and I didn’t have as much time to spend in the Word. At the time I didn’t understand that different seasons of life mean that our time in the Word may look different. Instead, I felt guilty and would often go through long periods of not reading my Bible at all because I thought if I couldn’t spend the time that I was used to spending then I shouldn’t spend any time at all – I was wrong, by the way.
It’s so easy to get frustrated when different seasons of life make your “quiet times” with the Lord look different. It’s easy to just not show up. Something to remember, however, is that God values faithfulness. He honors when we choose to show up, whether we have an hour or just ten minutes. I believe time spent with God is never time wasted. God can bring fruitfulness out of both situations, even if we don’t necessarily see the fruitfulness right away.
So I take a drink of my coffee, set my Bible and journal aside temporarily, and go get my sweet baby. My quiet time is different than it used to be, but that’s okay. Seasons of uninterrupted time in the Word are beautiful, but so is this season.
There will be times as my daughter gets older when I wake up early to spend time with the Lord and the little pitter-patter of feet come down the stairs before they are supposed to, and that’s okay. Maybe I’ll pull her onto my lap and we can read together. Or maybe I will take a break to make her breakfast and then resume – maybe ten minutes later, maybe two hours later. But what I won’t do is get frustrated. I want my children to see their mama meeting with God regularly, and that may mean my quiet times looking much different than they did when I was fifteen. And that’s perfectly okay.
Friends, be willing to meet God where you are, no matter the season. Seek His face no matter what, and remember that your time with God is never wasted.
In all seriousness, it is so hard to believe that my baby girl is a month old! It feels like we were just in the hospital. But it’s been the best. month. ever. Bella is already learning and growing so much, and it’s so fun!
Being a mom is wonderful and challenging and exhausting. It’s all that I thought it would be and more yet completely different at the same time.
I’ve learned that your life completely changes yet doesn’t at the same time.
I’ve learned that things often don’t go as planned, and that’s okay.
I’ve learned that I have a problem with it wanting to ask for help, and I’m working on it.
I’ve learned that I have a problem with not knowing when I need to say no to things, and I’m working on that, too.
I’ve learned how unconditional love really can be, and I understand how God loves us so much more now.
I’ve learned that my husband is an absolutely amazing father, and our child is so blessed to have him.
I’ve learned that spit up matches everything, so I just wear it all the time!
I’ve learned that some things are just needed when you become a mom. These things include:
Coffee. Always the coffee.
A nursing pillow. These little people get heavy fast.
E-books and e-textbooks for middle-of-the-night feedings. Holding an actual book can often be too difficult (at least for me).
Someone to hold your baby so you can take a much needed shower or bath.
Did I mention coffee?
Voice-to-text to take notes while you read a textbook while a baby is sleeping on one of your arms.
Snacks and plenty of water for middle-of-the-night feedings.
And finally, I’ve learned that I have the cutest baby ever, and I’ve had the best month of my life with her! Happy one month Isabella Grace!
*Please realize this is not an attention-seeking post or an attempt at reassurance. I simply want to share my personal story!
I have always been small. Growing up I was pretty much all knees and elbows. I’ve always had a high metabolism, and no matter how much I ate, I didn’t gain weight.
My entire life I have heard comments like “You must be 90 pounds soaking wet!” or “You need to put some meat on those bones!” or “There’s not an ounce of fat on your body!”
I think most of the time these types of comments were meant as compliments, and I would usually smile and nod, but I felt differently inside. Every time a comment like this was made, I thought “90 pounds? Well, I’m a lot more than that. Am I supposed to be 90 pounds? I better suck by stomach in,” or “Am I not good enough the way I am?” or “Yes, there is, but I better hide it so you don’t see me differently.”
I felt such pressure to be as small as everyone thought I was, yet pressure to gain weight at the same time. I hated it. I hated my body no matter what. I wasn’t small enough. I wasn’t big enough. I wasn’t good enough. I was so insecure.
A few weeks before I found out I was pregnant I remember telling my husband that I wasn’t scared of what my body would be like when I was pregnant someday, but I was scared of what it would be like after. I knew that it was going to be different and probably never go back to the way it was before.
Sure enough, I loved my body when I was pregnant. Actually, I was the most self-confident that I’ve ever been. Yet there were still things that were said that hurt. I heard from many people that I “looked good with some weight on me.” I happened to agree, but I was a bit hurt at the same time. I knew it was a compliment or perhaps a reassurance, but what it felt like was “you weren’t good enough before.” I tried not to dwell on it because I knew it wasn’t meant that way.
Fast-forward and the day has arrived. The moment of truth. I’m no longer pregnant. How am I going to feel?
Honestly? Just fine.
At some point something changed. I wasn’t scared anymore. My body had just spent months growing a person. Of course it would look different! My body did something amazing; who cares if it doesn’t look the same as before?
And that’s the truth. I decided that the only one who can make me feel insecure about myself is, well, me. Yes, the things that were said to me over the years were hurtful, but ultimately I chose to let it get to me. And honestly, I’ve got too much going on to be worried about some extra weight and stretch marks.
At the end of the day, I don’t want to be known as “the thin one” or “the pretty one.” I’ve got more important things going on. I’d rather be known for how I walked with Christ. What kind of wife and mother I was. What kind of friend I was. Not my pant size.
All this to say, friends, be careful with your words. They hurt and have long lasting effects. But also, don’t let what other people say define how you see yourself.
I spent my pregnancy reading and researching, preparing mentally and physically for labor. I feel like the time I spent preparing was well worth it, but the main thing I learned from labor was that things do not always go as planned.
I went to the hospital at 3 p.m. on Sunday after I called the hospital and said that my water may have broken at 8:30 that morning – after which I still went to church and to the mall. They said my water had not broken yet (though I’m suspecting it was a hind leak that resealed) and that I was having contractions three minutes apart. I didn’t start feeling the contractions until a little later, and then it was purely back labor. My nurse had me walk the hall for an hour, and then I was admitted for labor – yay!
It was game time and I was ready to go. My nurse knew I didn’t want an epidural or pain medication, and I wanted to be up walking as much as possible. At this point I was thinking I would probably have my baby in the middle of the night. I walked for 40 minutes every hour for probably 4 hours until the contractions were too strong.
Fast forward several hours, they broke my water and an hour later they tell me that I’ve gone from 6 cm to 9 cm! I’m thinking we must be getting close. A few hours later my nurse checks me and says I’m just now at 8 cm – whoever checked me before was mistaken. Needless to say I was a bit frustrated.
Unfortunately, my body seemed to really like sitting at 8 cm. After several hours of being stalled out at 8 cm, I started to panic. I could handle the pain, but the urge to push was too strong. I knew it was way too early, and I couldn’t push without hurting myself and my baby. Finally, my nurse suggests an epidural to help me finish dilating. Though the thought of an epidural terrified me, I agreed (it was really no biggie). Within an hour and a half I was ready fully dilated and ready to push!
They turned my epidural down so that I could feel how to push, and I pushed for two and a half hours, and finally, 23 hours after being admitted to the hospital, at 2:16 p.m. I reached down and pulled my own baby girl to my chest (with guidance from my doctor). It was probably the most special moment of my life.
I didn’t care that I hadn’t slept in 30 hours.
I didn’t care that I had, just a few hours before, told my husband quite seriously that we were never having another kid.
I didn’t care that my plan of having an unmedicated birth went out the window.
I had my baby, and she was perfect.
Unfortunately, the next several hours didn’t go as planned either as Isabella had trouble breathing on her own due to me being in labor for so long (it’s fairly common, but it was scary nevertheless). She was in the nursery for 7 hours, and we thought she was going to end up going to Children’s Hospital – which was definitely not part of the plan.
We were exhausted and anxious and frustrated. I hadn’t held my baby in hours. My husband had yet to hold her. He had gone to see her in the nursery several times, but I still couldn’t go because my epidural had not worn off. My nurse came in to check my legs and said she’d come back and check me in an hour because I wasn’t able to move as well as I needed to to get up. I looked at Genelle and said, “An hour my big toe! Help me pump my legs and get this epidural to wear off.”
Which is exactly what we did. Twenty minutes later I was in a wheelchair heading to the nursery. It broke my heart to see my sweet little girl with her itty bitty oxygen mask. I sat with her for about 30 minutes, and while I was there she got better. She was breathing well when I left, and we were told she would be with us shortly.
After waiting awhile and still not having our baby brought to us, we were told that she had started to regress, and they would be talking to Children’s Hospital soon to see what to do next. We were scared and tired and all we wanted was our baby.
But finally, I looked at my husband and said, “We can’t be slaves to fear. We have to trust God. No matter what, we’ll figure it out. It’s going to be okay.” It’s funny how the sermon that morning at church was on fear.
A few minutes later, a nurse brought us our little girl, saying they were just going to spot check her throughout the night (she was perfect every time they checked her that night).
Would we still have trusted God if she ended up going to Children’s? Absolutely. But were we praising God that we had her? Absolutely!
Bella is 2 weeks old today, and we fall more in love with her daily. Being a mom is better than I ever imagined. I often stop and think about the long journey it took to get her here – and how every minute was worth it.
And yeah, I take back what I said about not having any more kids.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23
Since I started working when I was 16 I have always tried to keep this piece of Scripture close to my heart. In fact, before my husband and I even dated we often reminded each other of this verse when one of us was having a difficult time at work.
As I have gotten older, however, I’ve realized how truly powerful this piece of Scripture really is. The verse says that whatever we do, we are to do it with all of heart.
If we truly do the work that comes into our lives as if we are doing it for the Lord, or when we simply realize that what we are doing is a way of serving the Lord, it changes our perspective.
I hate doing laundry. With a passion. And vacuuming. And doing the dishes. Really, I hate most forms of housework. But when I stop and remember that doing these things better helps my family function better and better helps me be hospitable to guests in our home (we love to have people over), I do it with cheer (Note: I am not a house-cleaning guru. I would be a complete liar if I said that our apartment was not a total wreck during my first trimester of pregnancy. I would also be a complete liar if I said I held this attitude all the time).
The real difference comes when I’m not making it about me. Sure, it’s nice when our place looks nice – it makes me feel good – but it’s not nearly as motivating to me as knowing that I am serving my family, God, and others. Whatever you do, whether it be raising your children, working in your job, cleaning your house, going to school, do it for the Lord. Your stocking job at the grocery store may not feel a job in which you serve the Lord, but the attitude you have speaks volumes. Everywhere is a mission field.
Go forth and do whatever you do with all your heart, and remember to give yourself grace because we are never going to have it all together all of the time.
Living in the age of technology, we expect everything to be done fast. It’s reflected in most aspects of our life:
This person is driving too slow.
The wait is too long.
My phone won’t load fast enough.
The list could go on and on.
What I have realized recently, though, is that slowing down is a beautiful thing. Sure, there are deadlines and time-sensitive things, but why does everything in our lives have to be done at an accelerated pace?
One of the most beautiful ways that I have noticed the beauty of slowing down has been in my time with God.
I have had a relationship with Jesus for almost 7 years now. For 6 of those years I read my Bible the exact same way: a chapter a day (unless it was a super long chapter, then I would break it up). Last year around this time I decided that I wanted to read chronologically (in the order that events happened, not necessarily in the order the books occur in the Bible) and in larger chunks to get a better sense of the bigger picture, and I loved it!
In this season, however, I’ve started studying my Bible in a completely different way than I ever have. I spend about 30-45 minutes a day on around 10 verses of Scripture just breaking it apart. It now takes me 2-4 days to read a chapter rather than 1.
At first, it almost bothered me actually. I felt like I wasn’t reading enough. In reality, though, I’m digging in deeper than ever before. Reading the Bible, like many things in life, is not a race. I’m loving this season of just slowing down and really meditating on the Word of God. It has made me realize it’s okay to slow down in other areas, too. It’s okay to stop and appreciate the simple beauty in your life. It’s okay to leave the dishes unattended for a little bit to spend time with your spouse or kids. It’s okay to not always be in the fast lane.
“We didn’t plan for things to go this way, but can you even imagine what life would be like if this weren’t happening?”
I said this to my husband last night as we stood in the kitchen and I showed him the baby books I had just bought (our child will definitely not have a lack of reading material – I have a problem…). We originally planned to have kids when we were both out of school, or at the very least when I was completely done. But when I sat in the campus infirmary one February afternoon and watched that little line appear, everything changed.
I was half terrified because this was NOT the plan, but at the same time, I couldn’t contain tears of pure joy as I realized I was going to be a mom. Finally.
I realize that may sound silly to some as I am not quite 22 yet, but the desire to be a mother has been brewing strong inside me for years and has only gotten stronger as I do life with the most amazing man in the world. When my best friend had the most beautiful baby girl in the world last December, I was in love. There were tears of joy streaming down my face as I saw her perfect little face for the first time. Later, though, if I’m being completely honest, which I try to be, I was crying for a different reason. Seeing that perfect little girl and seeing my best friend’s face as she held her baby for the first time created a deep ache in my heart because I still had years to go before that happened for me, and as absolutely happy as I was for her and her little family, part of me was heart-broken.
I know that to some that may seem silly or selfish, but it was how I felt. So I gave it to God. I didn’t want those feelings inside of me getting in the way of the pure joy I really was feeling for my best friend of nearly 10 years. I stopped thinking about it and just my best friend and her sweet little girl.
A month later I was pregnant.
I’m not saying that just because you surrender something to God, you are going to immediately get what you desire – that’s not how God works – but His timing is different than ours and it is perfect.
A few months ago I was praying that God would give me the strength, peace, and patience for these next few years of waiting. Now I’m praying for this sweet baby growing inside of me, whom I already love more than I ever could have imagined.
Our plans have changed significantly since that day in February, but oh, they have changed in the best way. There are still many unknowns, but I know God will carry us through just like He always has and just like He always will. We have plans, sure, but as Thomas Rhett says, “Life changes, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Do you ever feel like one minute you have everything together and the next minute you don’t? Yeah, that’s how I’ve been feeling. During Christmas break I was on a consistent housework schedule, I was writing nearly everyday, I was reading for fun everyday, it was great. Then the most stressful semester in my history of school started. Let’s just say things have went off the rails a bit (having the stomach bug last week didn’t help).
I knew that this semester was going to be difficult for me, but I assumed that I could keep doing things the way I was and I would be fine – I even increased my fitness goals (Yeah, that’s not happening) – and I was quite wrong. Even though I know routines change with the ebbs and flows of life, I was quite determined to keep doing things the way I was doing them.
After a few break downs I realized that I simply cannot continue the way I was going a month ago. I have six classes and a lot of homework, papers, and tests; I work around twenty hours a week; and I have other commitments. This season does not look like the last one. So, what am I doing about it? I’m realizing what goals I need to adjust and what changes I need to make. We’re going to be getting an elliptical because going to the gym multiple days a week just isn’t feasible right now, the housework schedule isn’t so much of a schedule anymore but more of a nightly tidying with my husband, and I take naps. And drink coffee (I was caffeine free for almost two months).
This season I have to take things easier, I have to be more flexible, or I’m going to run myself ragged. When God first planted the idea of Life Management Monday in my heart I wanted one of the central messages to be that life management looks different for everyone. We cannot compare ourselves to others or think that what works for someone else will necessarily work for us. I was so caught up in the comparison game – and the worst part is is that the person I was comparing myself to was myself! Sometimes we really do have to take a page out of our own books!
Keep on creating a life you love, but be reasonable. We aren’t super human.
For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In sickness, in health. Till death do us part. Marriage is pledging to be with another person no matter what: in the hard moments, in the joyful moments, in the scary moments, in the exciting moments. It’s often messy and tear filled, beautiful and rewarding. As a spouse we get the unique and amazing experience of doing life with someone for the rest of our lives. We see them at their worst and at their best, and we get to be their biggest fan.
We get the privilege of encouraging our spouses to follow their dreams, accomplish their goals, and grow into the person God has called them to be. We get to encourage their talents and their gifts and help them cultivate them. We get front row seats to see how God is working in their lives, and we get to hold their hand and look back with them and say, “Wow, remember when things were like that? Look where you are now. Look where we are now.” That is beautiful, and we can’t take that for granted. It is a huge blessing to be intimately involved in someone else’s life. Sure, sometimes it’s hard – often times much harder than we would like it to be – but it is extraordinary.
What do you think of when you hear the word “worship”? For a lot of us I would bet we think of singing in church; we think of giving ten to twenty minutes once or twice a week singing words that may or may not mean something to us. Or perhaps we think of our tithes and offerings as worship. Both of these things are worship, but they are only the tip of the iceberg.
So then if we’re missing the point, let’s ask some questions.
What is worship?
Worship is the expression of adoration or reverence.
Worship is something that God alone deserves (Exodus 20:2-6).
John 4:23-24 says that “true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”(emphasis mine)
1 Samuel 15:22 says, “to obey is better than sacrifice.”
Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (emphasis mine)
Isaiah 29:13 says that if we are only honoring God with our lips but not our hearts, we are not truly worshiping.
Essentially, worship is not something that we do once a week, it is something we are to do through our lifestyle. We are to worship in Spirit and in truth, two things that are forever inside us when we allow Jesus to take His rightful place as king of our lives. Offering our bodies as a living sacrifice is not something you do once, it’s continual dedication of ourselves to the Lord.
Why do we worship?
If you’ve ever been in a relationship with someone you really like you know what it’s like to desire to get to know someone. You want to know everything about them – what they like, what they dislike, what makes them tick, their middle name, everything! – and the more you know the more you want to know. Our relationship with God is similar: when we spend time with Him and get to know Him, it stirs up the desire to get to know Him more, and when we get to know Him, we can’t help but worship Him.
Worship is so much more than singing songs and giving money, it’s continually honoring God with our lives.
When we obey His command to love our neighbor, that’s worship.
When we choose to be like Jesus and pray for those who persecute us, that’s worship.
When we take the high road instead of stooping to the level of those who hurt us, that’s worship.
When we extend grace, that’s worship.
When we choose not to compromise our values, that’s worship.
When we stand and sing and pour out our hearts to the Creator, that’s worship.
When we use our gifts to further His kingdom, that’s worship.
When we die to ourselves and live solely for Him, that’s worship.
Our lives are meant to be continual acts of adoration and reverence of our Creator and King. Worship is not something you get away from life to do, worship is something you do amidst the messiness of life. Everyday is a blank slate. Everyday is a chance to choose God or self. What are we going to choose today?