Wednesday, June 14, 2017

fostering and pregnancy

It took what seemed like an eternity for us to become licensed foster parents. 
The process really only took about 6 months, which is the normal time they tell you it will take, but it all felt so slow to move.
Little did we know back then, the journey God had for us to embark on.
About 3/4 of the way through getting licensed, we got the sweet surprise (truly, it was a big surprise) of pregnancy! 
We found out we were pregnant back in the beginning of October.. October 9th to be exact... yet we still felt the incredible burden on our hearts and the call to foster.

I kid you not, the week before we found out, the woman interviewing us (as I mentioned before in my previous blog post about us fostering, we went through quite extensive interviews) told us that if we were to get pregnant, that their agency does not and will not license us to become foster parents, and that we would have to wait.

The reason is a good one, and we see their point... they wanted us to experience our "first child" and be able to enjoy every moment of a first pregnancy, good or bad, and not have to feel a burden of fostering a child on top of all of that.

We both looked at her in 100% confidence and told her she had absolutely nothing to worry about, and that we weren't trying to get pregnant any time soon (truly, we weren't).
Little did we know... I was already pregnant.

That next week I had some spotting and told Ken it was really unusual for me...
and that there was a possibility it could mean pregnancy.
Now, usually I'm the girl who would have a headache or a weird stomach ache and instantly think I was pregnant, head straight for the dollar store for those cheap pregnancy tests, and take three just to make sure.
This time was different.
It was like Ken and I both just knew, but honestly couldn't believe it.
I decided this time to not take a test, and to just wait it out.
That weekend, I flew to Washington for one of my dearest friends' bachelorette party.
We decided that I would take the test when I got back, and sort of wait to see what happened (i.e. if I started my period or not).
When I got home from my trip, I took a test, and it instantly showed up positive as I peed on the stick!
I came out and looked at Ken, "Well, we're having a baby!"

But now what?
We were thrilled to be pregnant, but a part of us was so sad and burdened that just last week we were told the news we couldn't foster if this happened.
Why did we still feel so strongly that now was the time?
Why were we not jumping at the opportunity to put the foster license on hold and focus on our biological baby?
Why did we both feel perplexed and confused?
We decided honesty was the best policy, and the next day we told our agency worker that I was pregnant. She was thrilled for us.

The weeks following were odd.
Ken and I just couldn't take no for an answer when it came to us getting licensed and bringing in sweet babies to our home.
We knew we were supposed to do this, and that this was God's timing... even though it looked impossible based on the many policies that our agency had set and had never budged on for anyone.

But you know what I've learned about policies, or when things look impossible?
They're no match for what God wants to do and is doing on our behalf.
I will make the long story short, and just tell you that after talking with supervisors after supervisors and them meeting together... their ultimate response was a phone call that said,
"Mr. and Mrs. Roberts, we think you will be too good of parents to these kids to not license you.
We have decided to go ahead and license you to foster."

We were licensed in the end of January.

I think if I had even a quarter for every time someone looked at us like we were crazy for doing so, or told us we were crazy for fostering and having a biological baby... we'd be like, super rich. 

So many people told us how it would be way too hard to be pregnant and foster, and how I just need to "enjoy my first pregnancy". 
Well. I am. 
I'm enjoying pregnancy, it's been a breeze so far, which I'm thankful for... but I'm also really enjoying being a mommy to our sweet girl we received February 8th.

At just 2 days old and a whopping 4 lbs 11 oz.. we received our first little angel baby and honestly we couldn't be more obsessed with her.

She is now 4 and a half months old, and we are just a couple of days away from the due date of our precious little girl (she's due on Father's Day!).

People ask me if I'm tired all the time.
I'm not.
I've woken up with our sweet angel every night, multiple times a night, for the past four months, but every day I feel like I got a full night's rest.

I actually have had a lot of energy, and haven't felt pregnant at all other than my belly growing and my clothes not fitting.
In fact, our sweet girl loves to sit on my bump and snuggle into me.

I can't explain why.
It doesn't make sense in the natural, but I know it's because God continues to breathe on our little family and allow us to live in a space of peace and rest for this season He has lead us into.

What I can tell you is that this has been the most rewarding thing we both have ever done in our entire lives.

When you follow what God is asking of you, even when the whole world thinks you're absolutely crazy for doing so... you will see just how much God takes care of you, how He provides for you, and how He is always faithful to go above and beyond to meet your every need and diminish your every fear or concern.
He's that good.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

foster care

The Roberts are getting some babies! 

Ken and I have always had a heart to adopt children, and as the Lord continued to pull on our heart strings, he lead us to foster care. 
To be really honest, I'm not sure how or why or when we decided to fully take the plunge and do all of this. I guess it's just the Lord continually walking with us, and leading us through the whole process that brought us where we are today. 
Back in July, a friend of ours, whom I've talked about adoption with many times, had asked us if we had ever considered foster care. 
I remember mentioning it to Ken, and we both sort of felt... "eh" about it. 
You see, I guess I've never seen an accurate portrayal of foster parents in real life. I hadn't really met anyone who had/has foster children in their life. Growing up, and even in the world we live in today, it wasn't really... talked about... ever. 

One day, Ken was on the computer and I was most likely cleaning 
(or maybe eating cake or scrolling twitter, anyways same difference). 

He asked, "Did you know there's close to 20,000 kids in foster care here in Arizona?"
He followed that by saying, "Kids are literally sleeping in office spaces here because there aren't enough beds to house them all, and a lot of these children are in group homes worked by a staff that rotates every 8 hours."
Something sort of just took the life out of me as I listened to these real statistics...of real kids...
all happening in my own backyard. 
He said, "Do you want to go to an orientation to just see what it's all about? I mean, it can't hurt right?"
I excitedly agreed, and two days later we showed up to an 8am class at a random place here in Arizona. 
After listening to the statistics, how fostering worked, and thinking about what it would look like if we took in some kids, Ken and I both knew that we had to do it. 

You see, it's not like you can just sign up, and you get a kid. 
It's actually a lot of hard work, homework, paper work, background checks, extensive interviews, inspections, etc. (the list could really keep going) to be licensed to foster. 

So, for the past couple months, Ken and I have been doing just that. 
After the orientation, like I said, we were set on it. 
We signed ourselves up with a Christian agency (which is amazing by the way!) and we found ourselves sitting in our first of many 3 hour classes two weeks later. 
These classes were 3 hrs long, every Tuesday night, for 11 weeks (yes, almost three months!). 

We are in the process to be licensed (here very shortly!!) for all ages: newborns to 17 years old. 
Initially, we will take placements from newborns to 1 year olds. 
Somewhere down the road, our hope is to take in pregnant teens or teens in foster care with their own little babies. 
My home office, which was our second bedroom, has now been turned into a nursery, and my office and product now fill up my bedroom.... 
and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

On the day our license goes through, we could receive a call for a child to come stay with us, also called a placement (and we've heard that often times that's the case!).
We could get a call at three in the morning or any other time of day or night, and if we say yes and DCS (Department of Child Safety, formerly CPS) chooses us, we could have the baby within the hour. 
Crazy right? 
But. We are so ready. 

Ken and I both have a huge burden for the children here in Arizona who need love and nurturing. 
As I write this post, I choke back tears thinking about all the children who have been abused or neglected and it makes my heart sick. 
We are so quick to fight for abandoned, abused or mistreated animals... but what about these little lives that have no home, and often times no hope? 
Heart breaking. 

I write about this, yes to keep you up to date, but secondly, to make you aware of this epidemic that I don't really hear many people, especially Christians, talk about. 
It's a harsh reality, and something that Ken and I both face, as we hear even Christian men and women talk about these children like they are somehow less than a biological or "real"/"your own" child. Often they talk about it in a way that almost implies how it will be a huge negative interruption to our "perfect little lives". 
It's sad. 
I wish more people were educated on fostering children, and I truly wish that the church would step up and give these amazing kids a good home. 
That's all they want. 
I've held drug exposed babies and met multiple children and teens in foster care... they aren't scary. 
They aren't unlovable.
It's quite the opposite. 
They're broken.
They're hurting. 
They need hope and dignity restored in them, and for someone to tell them they are a person worth loving. 
They need you, they need us.

So with that being said, I want to encourage you to just look into it. 
Be open to it. 
We thought "nah, that's not for us" when we first heard of it... but we were open, and God changed our hearts rapidly before we could ever think about not doing it. 
It was amazing. 

If you pray, you can be praying for us as we hopefully start getting placements next month.
We are full of anticipation as we have already seen God move in our hearts and lives through all of this. 
We know He will continue to do so as the journey continues.  
We know it won't be easy, but experiencing God's love being poured out in and through us will be so worth it, even with the sleepless nights, tired eyes, and spit up stains... am I right? 

Friday, October 7, 2016

a warrior is not delivered by his great strength: how we overcome trying situations

I look back in my Bible as I read it now, and see the parts that stuck out to me during the season I was in when I read it a year ago.
It's totally different. 
It's funny, I'm reading through the book of the Bible called Psalms.
It's full of beautiful chapters of poetry written by a king.
When I read it last time, chapter 33 had absolutely no hi-lights, underlines, or notes I had made about parts that I liked or stood out to me. 
It was completely blank around all of its words. 
But after reading it today? 
It's all marked up and noted and underlined. 
It's funny how the Lord speaks completely different things during the shifting seasons of our lives when we need it. 
I hope to share with you today, as a simple encouragement that shows just how much God wants to help you, change you, and maybe get you through a circumstance you're not necessarily "glad" about. And ultimately, to be really honest, remind myself of these truths too. 

Today, as I read Psalms 33 I couldn't help but feel the love of God, not only for myself, 
but for you as well.

Psalms 33:4 says, "For the word of the Lord is upright, and ALL His work is done in faithfulness."

in verse 13 and 15 it says this also about God:

"the Lord looks down from heaven; He sees all the children of man [that's you, that's me, it's all of us]... He who fashions [constructs, builds, makes, fabricates] the hearts of them all..."

As I read this I was overwhelmed at the thought that even in the constructing of our hearts, in the building of our very person, God was operating out of His faithfulness. 
He loves us. He made us.
 In and through His faithful nature, He formed you and I... for purpose. 

I wrote this down as a much valued truth I needed to remember for myself and hold fast to.
As I did this, I began to read the verses that followed the ones I just mentioned.

Further in Psalms 33 it says, 
(verse 16) 
"The king is not saved by his great army; 
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength."

(verses 20-22) 
"Our soul waits for the Lord;
HE is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in HIM, 
because we trust in His holy name.
Let your steadfast love, Oh Lord, be upon us, 
even as we hope in you."

Our soul waits, our heart is glad, we trust, we hope.
I felt like the Lord softly prompted my heart to remember the steps I underlined right there.
Especially when going through difficult, sometimes confusing seasons of life. 
 It's important to remember that in God's faithfulness, He made you. 
In his faithful nature, He orchestrates ALL things. A king and a warrior don't deliver themselves, but the God who formed them, loves them, and fashioned their very heart. So with that as our truth, we wait for the Lord, our hearts are glad in HIM, even when we may not be glad or happy about our situations, it's in HIM that we find joy. Therefore we trust in His name, in who He says He is-- faithful in every work, in every way, in every thing He fashions. 
In His faithful and loyal nature, our God is a good and loving Father. 
A refuge for us when we are confused, hurt, lost, or numb. 

It doesn't matter what you've done. 
There is such a love that always welcomes you in. 
A place of belonging.  
There's so much freedom when we take hold of these promises that we don't have to work for our own deliverance, or strive to make things perfect in our lives. 
There's freedom when we trust that God is who He says He is.
There's a release in our hearts, a weight off our chests, when we give up our own efforts and agenda, and fall back into the rest of allowing God to work everything out for us. 
In the mean time, during situations we don't understand, our souls will wait, our hearts will be glad, we will trust in God, and we will have hope.  
After all... every work that He does, He does in faithfulness, in loyalty, and in giving you what is ultimately best for you. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Ladies! My Workout Routine for Those Who've Asked

So today I'm finally sitting down to post about something my friends keep asking about! 
My Workout Routine
Let me be honest with you, and very clear... I am NOT a gym rat. 
I hardly like the gym.
 I think there are germs everywhere (and yes I wash my hands immediately after every time I'm done) and I wish I actually wore all the cute workout clothes in the world, but the fact is I almost regularly where the same 3-4 outfits to gym every week regardless of all the new workout clothes my hubby buys me. 
For some reason I'd rather wear them grocery shopping, or when we go somewhere that doesn't require me to get dressed up (love those places-- ahem, thanks to all my close friends who scream a big YES! when I text "comfy night?" in regards to what we all should wear to hangout that night). 

So, for all you chicks who love looking cute at the gym... good for you! I wish I could be you, but honestly, I put the least amount of effort into getting ready for the gym, because let's be clear, I'm already having to drag myself there! 

Now, I have never been one to post about how much I work out, I really never felt the need to, nor do I really think you care that I'm at the gym once again. 
And... like I said before, I like to spend the least amount of time IN the gym as I can... so like, who has time to take the perfect selfie?! 

Anyways, yes, I do workout very consistently, although my instagram or any other social media wouldn't tell you that.
I go to the gym 4 days a week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. 
I love giving myself a break in between the week (hump dayyyy!) because literally on Monday and Tuesday, the thing that gets me through my last killer reps is that I get a day off super soon. 
Just being honest! 

First, I never look at a scale. 
I mean, I probably should.. I just never think to. 
In my head I know I eat somewhat healthy throughout the week, and I'm working out four days a week... that makes me happy because my life feels balanced. 
Secondly, for me, working out is more about being mentally healthy than physical. I'm happy that physical health comes along (okay, it's kinda sorta the main component) with working out... but it's not totally why I do it. 
Struggle with anxiety?
Get overwhelmed easily?
Are you irritable and moody?
Do you wake up and stay grumpy all day?
Could you take a nap at any minute cause you're so tired?
(this is all me if I take too many days off from working out)
If this is you...
You probably need to workout. 

Mental health was my main goal when I consistently started working out. 
I slept a TON better, which lead to overall better health... but that's all for a different post... 
Let's get to it!! 

I've added videos (something I don't love, but I know it's probably easier to watch than read my explanation of the different workouts) for you to watch what I do. 

I usually only spend like 15-30 minutes in the gym. 
Yup, you read that right. 
I told you I didn't like staying in the gym too long! 
However, when I AM in the gym, I'm lifting as hard as I can. 

Recently I've been doing LOW weight, and HIGH reps. 
This just means I can do heavier weight and lift it like 4 times, or I can do lower weight and lift it like 15 times. 
Doing heavy weight and lower reps builds strength; doing lighter weight and higher reps builds definition-- both are crucial in helping you stay strong and healthy! 
I switch up how I lift every three or four months or so! 

For all of these workouts I typically do 12-15 reps for 4-5 sets. 
I would tell you the weight on all of it, but it really doesn't matter, cause your body is different! 
If you do 12 or 15 reps and it was too easy (and your form is good!), try going up in weight! 

Here's my workout week:

I Squat and Romanian Dead Lift (RDL).
Sometimes I skip RDL, probably shouldn't, but if I have an extremely busy day, I go in knowing that I'm adding another set to my squats, and cutting out the RDLs. 
Girls seem to be really intimidated by squatting... don't be! 
Just walk in like a boss, start with just the bar, squat that to get a feel, and go from there with how much weight to add.. 
Here I'm doing 95lb squats for 15 reps
(45lb bar, 25lb plate on each side)
(I've cut most of the videos short, cause like... you get the gist after seeing me do a couple!)

make sure that you're squatting with your booty going below parallel (below the backs of your knees!) to really hit those glutes!

After I Squat, I RDL.

I RDL with a bar and some plates, but feel free to start with some dumbbells-- I attached video of me doing it both ways.

When you stand all the way up SQUEEZE your booty! 

You want to make sure your back is flat, knees slightly bent, and you're pulling your shoulder blades back and together the whole time you do this. 
My head shouldn't be looking up, just let your head sort of hang or look at your feet while you do it ;)
On Tuesday I do pull ups (or chin ups), incline bench, and do a row of some sort 
(you can look up different row workouts, I only attached one that I do) 

For those of you new to pull ups or chin ups, I would suggest you use a band. 
This will help you move your body weight up and down without struggling, so you are able to do multiple pull ups to practice! Once you feel good with the band, the next week maybe try a couple with the band, and a couple without! Just go with how your body feels.
I've attached a video to show you how to put the band on the bar, pull ups, and chin ups all with the band!

Try not to bounce up with the band either, everything is a controlled slow motion when working with the band!

For reps, try to do 15 on each exercise ... again, do what pushes you and makes your body feel strong! 

Thursday is alllllll about dat booty! 
It's dead lift & hip thrust day!! 
I love dead lifts. 
I never used to do them because I was SO intimidated by them and thought if I picked up the bar even the slightest wrong way that I'd throw out my back and I'd never be the same! 
I was wrong.
If you do dead lifts right, you'll not only feel ridiculously strong, but you'll see gains on how much weight you can pick up very quickly!

I do lower weight 12 to 15 reps.. I do four sets of them, or again, like Monday, if it's a crazy busy day, I'll do five sets of them and not do hip thrusts.

You can also do hip thrusts with dumbbells, a plate, or a straight bar... whatever you feel comfortable with! Make sure you have some sort of padding to wrap around the bar to protect your hip bones and lower tummy! 
Try laying on the ground and putting the weight on your hips and thrusting up from the ground. 
When you're ready, move to putting your shoulders on a bench so you get more depth and more range of motion for your glutes to fire your hips up! 
LAST DAY of the workout week!! 
On Friday I do upper body:
Bench press, push ups, row (I didn't include a video, just because you can do the one I shared for tuesday or find one you like online!), lateral raises, and shoulder press with a twist! 

On these lateral raises, notice how I bring my inner wrists together in front of my body. 
This allows more range of motion for the muscles I'm working! 

I've also included two ab workouts that I throw in multiple times during the week.
 I just do 2 or 3 sets of 15-20 reps each! 

Feel free to email me (you can find my email in the contact section of my blog!)
with any questions, and if you'd like me to put together a workout routine specifically catered to you! 

Happy working out, ladies! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

in the waiting

You know what's like, really hard?
I'm the worst at waiting.
If I have to heat something up in the microwave for even thirty seconds I stand there staring at it wishing time would hurry up.
If I'm holding a plank or wall sit for a minute... yeah you already know.
I'm impatient. 

Those are just small examples of how impatient I am when it comes to waiting for something. 
But you know what I'm noticing?
In the waiting, God definitely has something for me to learn. 
Ken and I are in a season of waiting right now.
As some of you may know, Ken was released by the Phillies at the end of Spring Training.
So now, we wait.
We are back in Tennessee.
Baseball is literally always on the TV, and when it's not, episode after episode of Fixer Upper is. 
We are watching some of our dearest friends go through the highest points of their career, while watching others go through their lowest points wishing we could be along side them as they experience these situations- celebrating with some, and weeping with others. 
We are watching innings and innings of baseball games in which just a few months ago Ken was playing in and I was sitting in the stadium seat most likely drinking a glass of wine with the girls.
You know what's odd?
The weirdest part isn't that we aren't there. 
What is odd is that deep down, we know that this season of waiting is actually to our benefit. 
Let me explain why and how we know this to be true, based on how the Lord has been working the past year and a half in our marriage and in Ken's career.

Last year was Ken's first year with an injury. 
Besides getting nailed in the knee in the first game of last season,
(I almost threw up it was so agonizing to watch) 
he battled his first injury- elbow inflammation.
He got put on the DL (disabled list) for a couple weeks.
I remember when he told me, it was so frustrating for him.
To be honest, it was hard to watch. 
No one sees or knows the amount of hours and hard work he puts in, and when he finally makes it to the MLB... this happens. 
Long story short, part of that meant he couldn't travel on the next away series.
Looking back, we are both so incredibly thankful for that multiple week break.
We were able to just breathe, slow time down, and reminisce in thankfulness for the incredible roller coaster we had been on since getting married the off season before. 
In the waiting, it was hard. 
But in the waiting, we actually were provided with an opportunity to rest and enjoy the season of life we were in. Before we knew it, things were crazy again, and we looked back on those couple weeks and realized just how needed they really were.
The "waiting" was a blessing. 

Another example was when Ken got designated from the Rockies. 
If you don't know what that means, it basically means they took him off their roster, to put someone else on it. 
Kind of a hard thing to swallow... okay a really hard thing to swallow. 
*cue tears in the hotel room*
The next three days were a period of waiting.
You see, a team could "claim" Ken if they wanted him, and put him on their roster, but they only had three days to do it. 
When we received the news, we were crushed and really confused.
Again, long story short (I could write a book about these moments right here), we were in waiting. 
Ken had three days off essentially. 
We were six hours away from Scottsdale, we rented a car, and drove to our friends' house (thank God for friends who are like family and always open their home). 
I remember feeling so sad and I think we talked about the why's and how could they's all the way there. We stayed two nights there, and the day we were leaving to head back to the city Ken was supposed to be playing in (triple A team for the Rockies), Ken got a call that the Philadelphia Phillies had claimed him. 
I cried.
(shocker though, right?)
Ken was no longer with the Rockies, but now with the Phillies. 
God allowed that weekend break for us to regather our thoughts, seek Him, REST, and prepare for the people and things He was about to surround us with. 
I couldn't thank God enough for that getaway weekend He blessed us with. 
Although it was a hard waiting period, it was a much needed break before things sped up and got CRAZY (and I mean crazy..but that's for another time!).
The "waiting" was a blessing. 

I write about these two examples, not only to encourage myself with God's previous faithfulness, but to encourage you as well. 

In the waiting, we must not sit around until the thing or event we want to happen just lands in our lap. Rather, we must let the waiting be used to draw closer to God and allow Him to speak to us in the ways we need for what is to come. 
In the waiting, we must be listening to His voice, for if we aren't, we may miss the very reason He chose to bless us with the waiting period we are in. 
In the waiting, we must pray that our desires align with His perfect will for our lives. 
In the waiting, we must take joy and rest in the now.
For me, that looks like trying new recipes, cuddling on the couch with my hubby, and simply soaking in precious moments of rest and no agenda.
Sometimes, in the waiting, we get too caught up in the WANTING-
what we want, what we see is best. 
(Since when has our lives ever been about us?)
We find ourselves scrambling, proclaiming, and shouting prayers of belief for what WE want, which that's good and needed, but what if, 
in the waiting,
God is calling you to be still, be quiet, and ask Him what HE wants?

I think about these verses in Lamentations 3:25-27, The Message version says it like this:

"God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, 
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It's a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from God.
It's a good thing when you're young
to stick it out through hard times."

I've found through these times of waiting for what's next, that one minute I'm praying and full of faith, and the next minute I'm crying in sadness that what I want isn't going to happen. 
How human of me. 

In the house we are staying at (again, the Lord works out every detail in the waiting, our loving friends opened their beautiful home to us while they are away for season), there is a sign that I read every morning as I walk to the kitchen to get my coffee (that my hubby faithfully makes every morning for me *swoon*).
The sign reads: 
"Faith is daring the soul to go beyond what the eyes can see."
When I have faith during the waiting, it means trusting in what I don't see God doing.
You see, God is intricately forming and designing and working in ways we cannot see, in order to do something far better than we could ever hope, dream or imagine. 

In the waiting, our souls can sometimes feel like a storm looking for the calm.
That's when it's absolutely crucial to 
take a big step back, a big breath in, and exhale in surrender for the Lord to do what He wills. 
He has always been faithful, He is still faithful, and He will continue to be faithful.
It's who He is.
I'm reminded of Hebrews 3:4, whether we are in a season of success or a season of disappointment:

"For every house is built by someone,
but the builder of all things is God."

He is the builder of everything in our lives.
If we trust that the Lord is truly the builder of our lives, 
if you personally are allowing the Lord to build your life, 
then in the waiting, what in the world are we worried about? 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

when the unexpected happens

If you've ever found yourself in an un-ideal situation in your life, this post is for you.
Have you ever felt like there's no light at the end of the tunnel? 
Maybe you've gone into a season of your life that wasn't what you expected it to be, or maybe WHAM! something tragic, unexpected, or challenging hit you out of the blue one day.
You know, something that my friends and I in this baseball life talk about almost all the time is the roller coaster we are on in this journey through our husband's / boyfriend's career. 
I have been through the worst of storms with women, whether it's an injury or a release or a trade, but have also shared in pure joy as their men make their MLB Debut or their "firsts" in their career.
This lifestyle is a roller coaster between,
"What the heck is happening!?" 

I'm not saying either is wrong.
At all.
I've been in those exact situations– many times!

Can I be really candid with you?
I feel like God has really been teaching me about trusting Him above everything.
Trusting HIM, instead of what I "feel like" should happen or what I thought God wanted for us.
It's funny because I am so human when it comes to this.
One morning I'll be praying and having full faith and trust in Him, then within hours, minutes even!.. I'm back to doubting and fearing.

Maybe you can relate.
Maybe yours aren't the fears and doubts I may have, since our worlds could be completely different.
But it could be where you find your next job.
It could be what college you should attend.
It could be how to figure out how to feed your family and pay bills this month.

All of us struggle with something, and I'm here to tell you that it's okay and normal and totally human.
I'm also here to tell you (and myself) that "struggle" (like I'm learning) isn't always a bad thing.
Suffering is always used for God's glory (just how good He is to us) to be revealed in your life and the lives of those around you.
If only we talked about it more!

I went to a women's Bible study this past week put on by a church my husband found online, (yes, that's how we find community in every city we stay at for longer than a week-- thank you, Google) and it was so cool to see women I didn't know opening up about their struggles with one another.
I thought, this is it.
This is community.
These women were helping one another find strength and faith through their own doubts and fears and struggles; it was so encouraging to see.

I heard a pastor once say,
"You may not understand the season you are in right now, but the seed of your sorrow is for someone else's tomorrow."
That really resonated with me.

I found so much hope in 1 John 5:4 yesterday––

For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.

I was instantly filled with faith as I read these words.
The thing is, when we find our fulfillment in God alone rather than our jobs, money, or status...if those things get stripped away from us, our whole world doesn't come crashing down.
Our faith in what God is doing with our lives enables us to overcome any suffering or struggle we may face; it's the very thing that gives us victory and peace in times of "unfortunate circumstances". We begin to trust God's greater, best plan for our life, because when everything fails us, He remains faithful.
When your fulfillment and faith is in Him, it takes the pressure off of you to figure things out or perform and the promise of His sovereignty takes over.
There's a freedom in knowing He has your back, He is covering and protecting you, and His movement of you may just be a little uncomfortable right now, but it will all workout in the end.

I hope this helps you as much as it helped me.
In a lifestyle full of unknowns, I cling to this verse.
No matter what happens in our lives, God is so faithful.
He has proven that to me too many times already to not trust or believe it now.
Today, will you choose to have faith in the God that loves you more than you know?
Will you open your heart and eyes to see that ALL things are working out for your good and His glory?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

your thoughts are not always your reality

Okay, so I'm gonna be really honest here.
And... I really hope you still read my posts after this one..
But seriously.
Is there anyone out there like me whose thoughts are sometimes a little odd?
Stay with me... don't leave the post yet...
Seriously, I have some really strange thoughts, and I CAN'T be the only one, in fact, I know I'm not.

Women I've talked to and had conversations with have claimed to have similar thoughts...
and some are pretty out there.

In any case, sometimes our thoughts literally don't make sense.
Sometimes they do... but only kind of.
I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and one thing I noticed was that we tend to ALWAYS be thinking about this question,
"what if ______ happens?".
And that question alone can get pretty crazy; it's an incredibly broad space for your mind to wander.

For example, when I'm driving on the highway, I usually tend to remember the mile markers.
I'd love to say it's just a numbers thing, I'm good with numbers (I'm not), or that I just notice stuff like that... but it's totally not any of those reasons.
I told my friend (and she completely related) that the reason I do that is so in case I drive off a cliff and roll my car down to where no one can see me (if I survive that), then I can call 911 and tell them what mile marker I'm near so they can find me.
*insert the wide eyed face emoji*

I can come up with countless thoughts that the women I've talked to have that are similar to mine–
anywhere from passing and memorizing where the nearest hospital is in case something goes awry, to making sure our wedding ring is on when we go to Chick-fil-A so we can avoid judgement of why we ordered two milkshakes for ourselves.
Or like how ever since we moved to Florida, I have an irrational fear that a snake is going to make its way through the pipes and into my toilet.

What I've found is that I'm similar to some women I know in that our thoughts like this are always sort of just a precautionary combination of preparing for the worst to happen and avoiding the worst from happening.
Is this not crazy?
Part of me doesn't necessarily think it's all that 'crazy'.
The more women I talk to, the more I find that our thoughts are constantly rolling.
There is NO stopping our brains.
I've found that a lot of our thoughts are shaped by our past experiences and the world around us.

I've been thinking a lot about thoughts (sounds odd, but you understand).
I've noticed just how much thoughts have an affect on me and the women I've talked to– it affects the way I view myself, the way I view others, the way fears can fester, and much more.
It's funny because sometimes I think about something and I do a double take like,
where did that come from?
Almost like a weird, sporadic dream you wake up from and think, wow that was odd.

That got me thinking.
How many thoughts do I have every day that have absolutely no truth in them, yet I choose to believe them anyways?
When I say that I don't think these random thoughts are crazy, I'm not saying the thoughts themselves aren't crazy, I'm just saying that I think more people have odd thoughts pop into their heads than they want to admit.
Here's what I've been learning recently.
Thoughts are not always reality. 
I can have a thought, and it can literally shoot fear through me.
I can have a thought, and I can instantly feel bad about myself.
I can also have a thought, and think I'm the greatest thing ever.

All of these thoughts are not necessarily reality.
In the same way that I can lead myself to believe there is a snake coming up my toilet, I can lead myself to believe and view myself in a way that simply isn't true.
Do you understand what I mean when I say that our thoughts are not our reality?

I used to be obsessed with my thoughts.
I used to consider every single thought and ask the question, "why did I just think that?" or "is there something wrong with me?"
The truth is, that in the world we live in there are constantly things being thrown in our face– consciously and subconsciously.
Listen, there is absolutely no way to control the thoughts that enter your mind;
however, you DO have control over the POWER you give your thoughts.
This is good news.

Just because you THINK you are something, does NOT mean it is reality.
Some thoughts are bad, some thoughts are good.
In either case, they must not rule our lives.
I've mentored many girls and women who think something about themselves, and when they reveal it to me or other people, we are absolutely taken back, often thinking– 
"How could she EVER think that about herself?! It simply isn't true!"

  It's a beautiful thing when our perception of ourselves and others is aligned with God's view of us.
May our thoughts always be turned for good, and may we dismiss the ones that bring shame and guilt. 
Let's choose to only give power to the thoughts that are full of truth.