25.

Another year full of firsts and lasts. Today is my 25th birthday! My quarter of a century, I’m-officially-halfway-through-my-twenties birthday. And so much has happened.

This past year I changed jobs, leaving my first out of college “real” office job to come on staff at our church as a Worship Arts Pastor at our new campus. I was (and still am) blown away by the ways God ordained every small step in that process – I love getting to use so many of my gifts in my profession. And what a privilege it has been to stand up with my peers and lead us all in proclaiming the truth of Scripture, confessing our need for God, and showing up week after week to worship through corporate services. I am wowed by all God has done in my own heart through this job.

I got my very own guitar for my birthday last year – an incredible gift from Jacob and my parents that showed their investment in that season of my life and their belief in my success. I didn’t think it was possible, but my love for music has absolutely skyrocketed because of that guitar. I wrote my own songs this past year and mustered the courage to share them with friends and our congregation. Again, a “secret dream” I had been harboring for a long time, really even unknowingly to myself.

We found out we are expecting our first child in August last year. A shocking and, again, incredibly forming experience for us. I don’t even recognize parts of myself because of how much God has changed me over these 7 months of being pregnant so far. I loved being pregnant during Advent and anticipating the coming of the baby Jesus while also waiting expectantly for our own child to make her appearance this year. It has always sounded so cliche to me, but I can only imagine how much God will change me through motherhood. I haven’t even met our daughter yet and he has already done so much work in me because of her.

We received life-changing, world-turning news that threatened to leave us bitter and without hope. But again, God works patiently in our hearts and has done so much already. We still have some serious work to do in our hearts and in healing, but without the bitter, life couldn’t be nearly as sweet. For everything there is a season, after all.

This past year I read a ton of books, invested in deeper friendships, failed miserably with other friendships, laughed, cried, sang like nobody’s business, cooked and meal planned better than the year before and became (slightly) less OCD about having a clean house. God reignited my love for Scripture and grew me in the discipline of meeting with him. Jacob and I watched way too much Netflix, finally canceled the gym memberships we never used and got serious about saving money.

As I look to 25, I see motherhood, a strengthened marriage, further discovery of our giftings and how we can put them to work, new and old friendships blossoming, the humbling beginnings of parenthood and deeper relationships with Christ that infiltrate every thought we have, decision we make, and word we speak. God, I am looking to this year with expectant hope that you will be ever near to us and show us your glory, your plans, and your love. We are waiting with hope.

Journaling Exposed. AKA Fake conversations in my head

Journaling PerksIt’s crazy the power – the stronghold – feelings can have over me. Especially unexpressed feelings. I don’t realize their weight or their unfounded hold over me until I get them out on paper, until I can visually see their meaning. They become much less mighty in the face of truth, when their weakness is exposed with paper and pen.

That’s an excerpt from my journal last week. This year I’ve rediscovered the art and discipline of journaling, and my love for it! I forgot the freedom it brings me emotionally and the opportunity it gives me to process life. I’m always running from one thing to the next – journaling gives me the outlet to slow down and think about what’s going on around me.

Do any of you guys ever have made up conversations in your head? Do you play out imaginary scenarios and sometimes feel your blood boiling as you have this fake conversation with your spouse or friend in your head?

I do that all the time. I’m such a feeler. Sometimes those made up conversations help me to prepare for a real conversations, and other times they just get me more worked up as I feel more and more justified in my (usually NOT justified) feelings.

Enter journaling. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been reading through Thirty One Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and Doer (affiliate link), as well as the SheReadsTruth Bible in a Year plan. I try to start off my mornings reading through those Scriptures and prayers, and then spending some time with my journal: a pen and paper.

Sometimes my journal looks like a highlight reel of the Scripture that spoke to me that day. Sometimes it looks like written prayers jumbled with messy confessions of my struggles in those moments. Sometimes it looks like prayers of desperation for God to shape my heart because I realized those confessions are ugly and rooted in sin.

All of those things, though, help me to move my thoughts from bouncing around inside my head to being exposed on paper. Left inside my head, those bouncing thoughts and feelings quickly feel justified and righteous. But more often than not, once they are spelled out on paper, I can see them for the lies they are. And I can preach truth to myself.

So this morning I’m grateful for the discipline of pen and paper. I’m thankful for the ways God speaks to my heart and gently shows me that I’m best off when not left alone inside my own head.

How do you preach truth to yourself or work through your emotions? Do you journal? Do you have a routine?

Monday Morning Give Thanks

Bible Journaling

Happy Monday!!

This morning I’m grateful for slow, snowy mornings (that feel very much like Saturdays), decaf coffee, a clean apartment, chocolate chip bagels, and time to sit in the Word with my journal. I’m grateful for my first ever successful experiences selling on eBay and CraigsList this month (getting ready for #albrechtlittle to arrive!), and I’m especially grateful for our community’s practice of showering new moms with baby things. 🙂 Our shower is in less than two weeks and I can hardly wait to celebrate this new life with our friends and to get some of our first real baby items! It will be crazy to walk into our spare room and see further proof a baby is on her way! Jacob and I are heading out to Target later today to put the finishing touches on our registry… so fun!

I’ve been reading the She Reads Truth Bible in a Year plan so far and I’ve surprised myself with how well I’ve kept up with it! Granted, it is only January 18th. But I’ve never been one to successfully finish one of these things, so I’m hoping this is my year. The arrangement of Scripture has been helpful – it starts out with a few chapters of Genesis and one chapter of John each day, switching it up to reading 4-5 Psalms about once every ten days or so. If you’re looking for a Bible reading plan, it isn’t too late to start!

Hope you all enjoy your Mondays and take a second or two to recognize what you can be grateful for today!

Waiting on God’s Promises

John 14:27

Having the patience to wait for God to deliver on his promises can be quite the struggle.

Last week I read the account in Genesis 15, where God promises Abram that he will provide him his own heir, despite his old age.

And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” (Genesis 15:4)

But in his and Sarai’s old age, it was hard to believe that promise. Or, at least, it was hard not to take it into their own hands. Because surely, if God made them a promise, they better figure out how to make it come to fruition, right?? Oh boy.

In chapter 16, Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. (v. 2)

Are you cringing with me? As soon as I read this, I thought to myself, how often to I take the promises of God into my own hands? I don’t have the faith to trust he will bring that promise to fruition because it seems impossible. And once I’ve heard the promise, I want it now.

I mean, how else was Sarai going to produce an heir in her old age? Like Sarai, I’m often hasty and impatient and I settle for a lesser version of God’s promises. I cash in quickly, jump to the wrong conclusions, and get myself into a mess I could have prevented had I waited on the Lord to fulfill his word.

Not only did Sarai’s plan not fulfill God’s promise (he had other plans), but it also bred contempt between Sarai and Abram, Sarai and her servant Hagar, and Sarai and Hagar’s son Ishmael. What a mess.

God, protect my hasty and impatient heart from settling on what seem to be “quick fixes” to my concerns. Help me to wait for your deliverance, your solution and your ways – and to wait with expectant hope that you will provide in your perfect ways. 

What helps you to determine what is from God and what is from your impatient desires? How do you make sure to listen for God’s plans instead of hastily making your own?

You know it’s going to be a great day when

I woke up early enough this morning to straighten my hair, finish listening to a sermon I started earlier this week and read my Bible before going to work. I’m literally thankful to God for that because I rarely get up with more than just enough time to scramble out the door.

Sleep is so seductive – it reels me in and once I’m there, it’s so hard to draw myself out. I’ve had plans to get up early for weeks now it seems, but every time my alarm goes off, I make new plans with my sleepy self. I tell myself I can read later in the afternoon, I can just braid my hair quickly, sleep is more important than getting ready leisurely, etc. It’s actually quite sad – it makes me so disappointed in the lack of discipline I have!

But this morning was different. I woke up several times before my alarm, and maybe this sounds weird, but I know that was the Lord prodding me to do what I set out to do last night. When I went to bed, I planned to get up at 7, finish my hair, read and blog before leaving with enough time to pick up donuts on the way to the office. And he helped me do it! Can I tell you something? It feels good. It feels so much better than getting an extra 45 minutes of sleep. I feel like I’m starting my day with a purpose, with a mind already set on the things of heaven instead of the things of this world. I feel like I’m one step ahead of my complacent, complaining, selfish self who has been armed with the Word of God to start my day remembering Him and remembering my purpose as his daughter, his follower and his servant.

So fellow sister who is struggling to create space for God in her life, I encourage you to dive in. To take the risk of missing a few minutes of sleep and put in the work. He will meet you there, perhaps in ways you weren’t quite expecting.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. – Psalm 4:8

Hey 2016, I’m ready for you

2016: the year of changes. There are some we already know are coming, like Albrecht Little, and others we can only anxiously await until the time is right. But regardless, there will be a lot of change.

I love change when I’m the one in control, but I’m not great at rolling with the punches if you know what I mean. So, this year I’m making only one resolution: to be thankful every day. For the small things, the big things, and everything in between.
So this year you’ll see a lot of thankful lists on this blog. I want to end every day making a short list of the things I’m grateful for, and many of those will end up in this space. Honestly, this exercise is 100% for me, but I hope it encourages you along the way. I hope you are inspired to see the good in all circumstances of your life; that’s my hope for myself, too. Let’s do this together. #thankfulprojectI patiently waited for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. – Psalm 40:1

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. – Philippians 4:6

I read these verses in my Thirty One Days of Prayer for the Dreamer + Doer
devotional a couple weeks ago and knew they would become my heartbeat for this new year. God, whatever changes are coming… whatever our circumstances may be, may our eyes be ever set on you and our lips ever flowing with praise to you.

2016, we are ready.