The power of Words

Your words have power

I had my first emotional breakdown since Adeline was born this past week… and it wasn’t pretty. Starting work again has thrown all the routines and knowledge about motherhood that I thought I had right out the second story window. (see this post for proof.)

I took Adeline to the office with me on Wednesday and we ended the morning super fussy and flustered. She was hungry on the way home, so she was crying… which then got me crying because I knew she was hungry and I also felt like I’ll never get a handle on this working mom thing.

I felt like I wasn’t giving anything 100%. I wasn’t giving Adeline 100% or work 100%, which translates also to feeling like a failure at everything. So when I got both of us, the car seat and my three bags in the door (we’re still crying), we nursed and I just straight up cried ugly tears. I let them roll, apologizing to Adeline for making her feel insecure about getting food and telling God that I just can’t do it all. I can’t cook, clean, care for and mother my daughter, work and still have a drop of myself to give to my husband every day. I just can’t.

But it feels like I should.

It feels like I should be able to do all of these things to the same extent that I did them before Adeline, but I’m pretty sure I’m putting that “should” on myself. I worry my coworkers are bothered by Adeline’s needs while she’s there, I worry they won’t think I’m adequately present, I worry she doesn’t feel like her needs are met like they are when we’re at home (she 9 weeks old, I really don’t think she’s making these comparisons…), I worry my bathroom will never be cleaned again, I worry I won’t sufficiently get myself playing guitar well enough to lead again, blah blah blah.

There are so many worries in that paragraph!

All that to say, after I cried it out, I remembered I had an unopened envelope of encouragement cards from my baby shower. The sweet hosts asked the guests to write me notes of encouragement, and then they sealed them up for a future day when I’d need those words.

Yesterday was that day, and boy did I get my crying in for the month! This time, though, they were happy tears. Tears full of remembering the truth that God is in this with me, tears of feeling loved and built up from women speaking truth into my insecurities, tears of reading about the gifts God has given me called out on paper and witnessed in real life from these ladies.

Words have such power.

Use your words to encourage those around you... you never know how deeply those words can hurt or build up!

Thank you for using them to encourage me when I needed it most.

I encourage you today to think about someone in your life you can encourage. Send them a quick text or give them a call and speak some life into them. Call out and affirm their gifts that you’ve witnessed, thank them for ways they’ve loved you or shown up when you needed them, etc. You have no idea the weight and power those words hold. Let’s be a community who look to uplift and encourage each other!

Your words hold power. Let's be a community who is quick to build up the people around us. Click To Tweet

Diet Coke: Fuel for Life

Photo circa April 2012, our pre-married selves đŸ˜‰

One of my favorite parts about college was the fact you were basically dumped into community. You went to class with people, ate with them in the cafeteria, and shared a huge building to live in together. Especially at a small school like mine, you couldn’t help but be immersed in life with those people.

The best part about that for me was all the “dates” I’d have with my friends throughout the week – lunch with Brandy, dinner with Mosby, roommate dates with Kelly, etc. The “dates” never ended. For me, college was a time of really intentional relationships during a period of time I was desperate to figure out who I was. (I am still doing that, by the way.)

Lunch with Brandy was absolutely one of those weekly standards for me – and here’s where the Diet Coke comes in. The girl loves Diet Coke, as did I, and one day while we were chatting over lunch, one of us jokingly called it “fuel for life.”

Now every time I see or drink Diet Coke, I always think “Fuel for Life” and then of course remember Brandy. We called it that because not only did we love drinking it, but sometimes it felt like legitimate “fuel for life” while studying for finals, finalizing papers, staying up way too late with friends, just making it through the day, etc.

But the best part about all of this is that Brandy and I are still friends, even though she lives in Delaware, I live in New Hampshire and we met in school in Tennessee. We have the occasional FaceTime date, but we primarily stay in touch through our blogs! Which is why I’m excited to share a sliver of her with you today in this post.

While we joked that Diet Coke was our “fuel for life,” if we’re honest, we substitute a lot of things into our lives that take the place of Jesus – our true “fuel for life.” Yes, I’m going there. He fuels our lives, which means he fuels our marriages, blogs, ministries, work ethic, attitude, desire to take action in serving others, and our online presence. He fuels all of us. As much as we often pretend – our spouses, praise from others, coffee, exercise, studying the Bible, food, etc. are not what fuels us. They simply can’t. Jesus is the only one who fuels us because he bridged the gap we could never cover ourselves, he gives us new life through his death and in all of these things, he sustains us.


He bridged the gap we couldn’t cover ourselves.

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. – Romans 8:2-4

He gives us new life through his death.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. – 1 Peter 2: 24-25
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

In all things, He sustains us.

You know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. – Deuteronomy 8:3

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:4-5

Did you experience that kind of community in college? What do you tend to replace Jesus as your “fuel for life” – coffee, friends, approval, your spouse, your parents, grades, success at work, etc?

Make sure to go check out my friend Brandy‘s blog to see her take on our Diet Coke Friendship & how she relates to Jesus fueling her life.

Hospitality as a lifestyle

Truthfully, I once thought hospitality meant keeping the house clean and the fridge full. While I think that’s definitely a part of hospitality, it’s one of the many facets that make up an entire life posture.

Hospitality is one of my favorite nouns. It’s something I strive for, hope to be known by and hope to bless many others through. But it’s much more than a simple noun: it’s a way of life, an attitude, and a practice.

A girl named Meg (pictured above) befriended me in high school. She taught me a lot about hospitality in the sense of doing life together. She invested in a lot of people, but she fit all of them into her life in a way that felt natural. She called friends while driving, invited me along on errands and showed me slices of her life authentically. More and more, I see hospitality as just that – authentically living with others. 
Real life isn’t always inviting a friend over for coffee and a homemade slice of perfectly chocolate-frosted cake. More often, it’s inviting friends over when I still need to grocery shop and my rug needs to be vacuumed. Most often, it’s inviting a friend along while I run errands or need to build a set for the youth group. It’s sharing my life in ways others feel part of it and see me for who I am – an imperfect daughter who is loved by God as I am right in those messy moments. I want to share that with friends because it’s their truth, too, and yours, reading this now. You’re loved right now, in your life that often feels haphazard and oh, so scattered. You are so loved.

We have had nine visitors since we moved to new England this past January. I think first that tell you we have some really awesome friends and family members. It has blessed us abundantly to have our closest people visit us and share life with us for a weekend here and there. But having so many visitors has also shaped my perspective on the art of hospitality.

With nine visitors in a span of 8 months, our lives can’t come to a halt every time someone spends a weekend with us. We have to keep going… so those friends are along for the ride. For example, last weekend our dear friend Erica stayed for five days and she not only helped me sew and paint a set for the youth group kick off, but also spent 13 hours with us at church from the Sunday morning service until youth group was finished. She didn’t sit off to the side, either – she was in the thick of it with us. And, you know what? She loved it! She loved seeing a true slice of our lives here and getting to experience our day to day shuffle.

So for those of you who look at the word hospitality and feel your shoulders getting heavier quickly, breathe a sigh of relief. I have a few reminders for you:

Your house needs to be livable, not perfect. 

I totally get it – I’m a clean freak, too, even when people aren’t coming to stay with us! I appreciate a clean home, but I can’t let myself get bent out of shape over it. Life is too short to worry about the dishes and un-vacuumed rugs. Do what you can and then forget about it – your guests will feel comfortable anyway.

Don’t feel pressured to make a big show. 

Whether you have friends coming into town or are just hanging out with your local friends, don’t feel like you have to set aside additional time to do that. Do things with them like grocery shop, go for a walk, work on that craft you had been planning to finish, or do the dishes together. I understand your desire to do something big for out-of-town guests.. if that is your true desire, go for it! Just don’t feel like every second of each day needs to be that way. 

Be authentically you.

There’s nothing I love more than truly knowing someone. You know that friend who just gets you? You have probably shown each other the real “you” behind all the masks and pretenses. Your friends don’t need you to put on an emotional or physical show to win them over, either. Be you – it’s less work and more rewarding. The sooner you learn that, the sooner you will be able to rush less, worry less and grow more.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below – I would love to hear what hospitality means to you and how you’ve grown in being YOU recently!

*This post first appeared as a guest post on Banana Grove Designs


But above all, love.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on it’s own way; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).

Our highest calling is to love, and what a high calling that is. Love seems so simple, but it often feels so complex. It’s hard. It’s easier to be arrogant or rude when someone rubs me the wrong way. When I feel belittled, I want belittle in return. I want to boast in my gifts, my talents, my accomplishments, my ____ so that you will know just how great I am. At the expense of you, I want to sound great. I want to be loved, and sometimes to feel that way I overlook how I’m making the person beside me feel. 
Love bears all things, even hard conversations or hurt feelings. Love believes all things. Love hopes all things and love endures all things. Love never ends. I have so much room to grow in this gift of love we’ve been given to share with the people around us. It’s a high calling, a hard calling, but he gives us grace to help in our time of need.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers (1 John 3:16).

I need a life eval

This photo really has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but I was practicing with the tripod and my hair looks cool, so…

When you find yourself putting off the things you used to love because you’re too tired, need to rest, or just don’t have the mental energy to think about them, something is up. I used to love spending most of my free time tinkering around on this blog. I’d study stats, other blogs, tweak my design, brainstorm post and photo ideas, spend great time on my sponsorships, research how to grow my blog, etc. But over the past few weeks, blogging has felt like the last thing on my radar.

I don’t think it has anything to do with blogging, though. I think it has everything to do with how I’m spending all 168 hours of my week.

What I love about being married to a youth pastor is the opportunity to do great ministry with him – I wrote a little about that last week here. But sometimes I wonder if I wasn’t married to him how many less of my nights would be devoted to church. As Christians, it’s natural (and expected! and a joy!) to have evenings dedicated to church. But also as Christians, it’s our calling to spend evenings outside of the church in the communities around us. We aren’t only called to minister to each other – we’re called to make disciples of all nations… that means people who are different that us, people who live right next door to us, and people who we have to go out of our way to meet around town.

This fall, four out of my seven nights of the week are taken up by church events, between youth group, leading a high school girls’ small group, mine and Jacob’s young adult small group and our new Thursday night service where I’ll be serving at on the worship team. I am genuinely excited about all of these opportunities for service, growth and community! But part of me wonders how I’m supposed to fit in joining a yoga studio to attend classes and meet others in the community, training for my half marathon, hanging out with friends for fun, going on date nights with my husband and having some time alone in addition to my 8-5 job. Most importantly, all of this “service” doesn’t mean much if I’m not communing with the Lord on my own time.

Thinking through all of this, I’ve decided I need a life evaluation. I need to really look at how I’m committing my time and ask why I’m doing what I’m doing – is it to serve God or to meet my desire to feel needed and important? Am I orienting my time around him – loving him and showing others they are loved, too? – or around me? Am I doing these things for his glory or my own? That is such a scary question. Am I filling up all of my time because I don’t know how to rest and live life a little slower?

How do you manage your time and what you’re involved with at church? Any of you staff members or spouses of staff members share this problem?


But True Wisdom is Gentle

I’ve been doing the James: Mercy Triumphsstudy by Beth Moore with a group of high school girls in the youth group and man, oh man it has been kicking my behind. Every single day that I sit down ready to study, I leave with convictions that require change. It is James, after all, and it’s pretty hard to read even one verse of that book without feeling convicted. If you’re looking for a study this summer – I would absolutely, hands down, suggest this one if you’re ready to get serious.

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere | James 3:13-17.

Beth commented on this section pretty bluntly, “True wisdom has a gentleness about it, doesn’t it? Harsh people are never wise people. They may be smart. They may even be right. But they are not what the Bible calls wise” (p. 123 in the study).

When I think I’m right, I am a harsh person. I get my arguments lined up and I’m ready to pound them into you, so you know just how much what I think is right. But that’s not wisdom. Sure, I might be smart, and I might even be right… but I’m not being wise.

I’m not approaching that situation with a pure heart (I want you to know I’m right), gentleness, a mind that’s open to reason (I’ve already decided I’m right), full of mercy or good fruits, impartial or sincere. The sting is still pretty sharp, y’all.

She also had us list out a few people whom we considered wise, and you know what? Every single one of those people aren’t harsh. They are pure, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, sincere, open to reason and gentle.

There have been several situations this past week I did not handle with a gentle spirit. I’m working on growing in that, but I’m very thankful for the examples of gentleness in my life.

In college, an older woman discipled me from my church. Every week she invited me into her home despite her crazy, busy life. She now has five kids (four boys and ONE girl, mind you!), her husband owns several businesses and I’m sure their lives are still as chaotic now as they were when we hung out weekly.

To say the least, I was not a calm person in college. I know I came to her with a lot of wild, passionate, crazy ideas (probably ones that I thought were “mature” at the time), but she never once said a harsh word to me. Ever. She walked beside me through mine and Jacob’s entire dating relationship and never laughed at my stupid decisions or the silly arguments we had. She patiently listened while I complained about how hard our engagement was and she nodded right along with me. She spoke a lot of truth into my life in hard situations, but she never spoke harshly.

I’m certain she is clueless to the extent of the impact she has made on me, and she probably wouldn’t believe you if you told her… that speaks to the depth of her humility, too. Sometimes I get so frustrated with myself for how much I don’t look like Christ. I see myself doing the same things over and over from a selfish heart and I want to cry out in despair. But part of learning wisdom is learning understanding… and it seems that understanding comes from experiencing. As much as I cringe sometimes when I think back to past decisions, I’ve learned leaps and bounds from them after the fact.

I don’t want to be smart or right if wisdom is at stake. So I’m praying for discernment to remember that the next time I get stirred up to be harsh.

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced the gentleness of sincere wisdom? I’d love to hear your stories.