Worship

Friday Favorites: New Music

Sometimes you hear a great song for the first time and you’re like “YES!!! THIS IS SO GOOD.” And you just know that it’s going to become a go-to. It’ll sneak its catchy little way into your running playlist and your chillin’ playlist and your holy yoga playlist and your Sunday afternoon drive playlist. Some songs are just that good.

Even with a playlist full of amazing songs though, you can get sick of your music because you’ve heard it a bagillion times.

New music is refreshing…so take a sec and clean up your playlists. Add new songs & take off the stale ones. Don’t have money? Use Spotify, it’s free and flippin awesome. (It’s ten bucks a month to get it on your phone –totes worth it.)

Here we go =) These are the songs that make me jam out like a fool, stretch my stride and make me want to dance or worship Jesus like a crazy person. Some are old and you will know them, hopefully some will be new for you!

10 Awesome Workout Songs

1. Grenade — Bruno Mars

2. Roar — Katy Perry

3. Hey, Soul Sister — Train

4. Some Nights  — FUN

5. Best I Ever Had — Gavin DeGraw

6. Sail — AWOLNATION

7. Defying Gravity — Wicked

8. Girl on Fire — Alicia Keys

9. Do You Remember — Jay Sean, Sean Paul

10. We Have Overcome- Israel & New Breed

 

Flashback Friday--Out for a run last fall!
Flashback Friday — Out for a run last fall :)

5 Fun Songs

1. Good Life — OneRepublic

2. Happy — Natasha Bedingfield

3. Best Day of My Life — American Authors

4. Royals — Lorde

5. Good Morning — Chamillionaire

Because what's not fun about OJ?
Because what’s not fun about Jammies and OJ?

6 Sweet Chillin’ Songs

1. Tapestry — Hillsong United

2. Daisies and Pews — Katie Herzig

3. Free Fallin’ — John Mayer style (ahh)

4. Back to the Earth — Jason Mraz

5. Stick Around — David Ramirez

Chillin' with daddy
Chillin’ with daddy

10 Fav Worship Songs

1. Your Love — Shane & Shane

2. The Lord Our God — Featuring Kristian Stanfill, Passion

3. Your Glory/Nothing But The Blood — All Sons & Daughters

4. Desert Soul — Rend Collective

5.  Joy Will Come — Desperation Band

6.  All Things New — Elevation Worship

7. I Exalt Thee-Chris Quilala Version — Jesus Culture (not on Spotify, but is on itunes)

8. I’m a Lover of Your Presence — Bryan & Katie Torwalt (not on Spotify but is on itunes)

9. Embracing Accusation- Shane & Shane (you have to listen to the words on this one…the whole song)

10. Messiah/You’re Beautiful — Phil Wickham

Worship

Leave me a few of your favorites in the comments too! I’m ALWAYS on the hunt for new jams.

Peace out guys…have a great weekend!

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God at Work Wednesday: Carly’s Story

Yet again this week I have a miraculous story of God’s rescue to share with you. The situation looked hopeless… BUT CHRIST.  Hear me when I say to you: THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE.

Today i have the pleasure of introducing you to my sweet friend Carly who shares her story courageously and boldly.

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“Growing up, I was faced with a lot of different challenges. I grew up in a non-Christian home where love was not played out. My parents weren’t affectionate to each other, and weren’t affectionate toward me. For example, I seldom received hugs or kisses. Even though my parents were legally married, they didn’t act like it. My dad kicked my mom out of his room, so I was forced to share a bed with my mom. It just wasn’t “normal”.

During elementary school, I went through a very traumatic event. I was molested. Molested by someone that I barely knew, someone that I had only been introduced to a couple of times. I remember this event like it was just yesterday. I remember how hopeless I felt and scared I felt. I remember being touched in a way no one should ever be touched. This event, along with many others changed the course of my life.

After this incident, I started attending church. My mom and I went to my Grandparents house quite a bit, and Grandview Church was only a block away. I started attending frequently…by myself… as a third grader. I continued going back because I felt and saw true love. I didn’t know why or how everyone was so happy but I wanted whatever they had.

Little did I know, the reason they were so joy-filled was because of the Lord.

In middle school, a lot of different events happened in my life. First, I made the best decision I’ve ever made which was to accept Christ into my heart. However, this was another very hard year. My parents separated and I was abused yet again. I was a victim of sexual harassment at my Junior High, and this was the time I started my addiction to pornography.

Yeah, you heard that right. I was addicted to PORN.

It was an addiction that lasted 7+ years. It started on accident. One of the most important people in my life didn’t believe me when I told her about the abuse, so I decided to just search it for myself. I knew that what happened to me wasn’t right and that it was “dirty” but I didn’t know what it was called. I knew about sex, so I decided to type it into the search engine. S-E-X. 

Immediately…I was bombarded by so many images, videos, etc. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it affected my life greatly and caused a lot of destruction in my life and heart.

High school was hard for me as well. I was sexually abused yet again in 9th grade and was also being bullied at school. At this point all I could think was, “What is wrong with ME? What am I doing wrong? Why would this happen yet again?”

I tried telling the school about it, yet no one took action. I talked to the police, yet no one took
action. I also went to my own family members, yet no one took action.

At this point, I felt so hopeless and felt so abandoned. Enter my darkest days. I turned to suicide during the summer of my sophomore year, attempting to take my life many times. It is only by the grace of God that I am here sharing my story today.

Satan had a strong pull on my life that year. I really questioned God. If God REALLY loved me, why would all these bad things continue happening to me? In 11th grade, the addiction grew. I was consumed by pornography. Minutes turned into hours, and hours turned into days of watching, visiting chat rooms, etc. I was enslaved to this sin. I turned to pornography more and more, seeking comfort and intimacy I had never recieved as a child.

I craved affection and attention from everything and everyone. And in a messed up way, porn felt like it delivered that. It was something that I didn’t have to talk to, but it was always there. It became like a friend. And still in High School, no one knew about it…until I moved in with a family from our church, Harvest Bible Chapel. (Melisa and Jim)

I told the parents about my addiction and about all that had happened in my life. Moving in with them was such an incredible blessing. They loved me in spite of my addiction and hurts. They helped me grow in my faith tremendously. They showed me what a Godly (and functional) family can look like and I am so thankful. A couple months after I moved in, Marisa decided that it would probably be a good idea to seek counseling. So she and another youth leader from Harvest took me to an intensive counseling weekend in Indiana called Twelvestones.

Twelve Stones helped me in various ways. They helped me see how deep my sin was, how much it was hurting me and others around me. I learned that I could achieve freedom through Christ and that God could redeem and heal all of the wounds in my life left by other people and myself. I came away from that weekend with a better understanding of how much
God loves me, because growing up, I never felt loved.

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Of course I never once thought this would be “my” story. I never once thought I would struggle with abuse…abandonment…suicide…bullying…pornography…etc. But in some ways, I am thankful for all of it. My story has given me so many opportunities to share Christ and has made me a stronger individual.

And what’s even more awesome is that my story isn’t over yet. It’s still being written. I’m still being changed and sanctified and healed. And it’s good stuff, people.

If God uses me to be a light through others’ pain, then it was all worth it. I have seen tremendous healing in my life, and have experienced what true freedom in Christ is. I just want to share the greatness of our God with everyone. HE IS SO GOOD! But for now, I am just a twenty-year old girl trying to live out this thing called life. “

How beautiful and amazing and courageous is she?!?! Please consider sharing or leaving a comment of encouragement for Carly. We serve a God who still does miracles today. If you need help or healing from past abuse or a porn addiction, visit the Twelve Stones website or the Blazing Grace site.

2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is all you need, my power works best in weakness.”

God at Work Wednesday: Cindy’s Story

Every Wednesday I’m going to be highlighting a story of God moving in the life of someone I know. I think testimonies are the most powerful way to share our faith and change the world. So without further adieu, meet Cindy. Cindy babysat for me when I was a little girl and through Facebook we have recently reconnected.

“I needed someone to rescue me.

It started in my early teenage years … feeling the need to be perfect to fit in…the intense desire to be loved and accepted. I was trying to please everybody else, which made me feel so out of control of my own life. The one thing I could control was my food intake and my exercise.

What started out as a simple attempt to become “healthy” quickly became much more than that and spiraled out of control. I shut out my family and friends. I turned away from everyone that I needed … including God. I felt hopeless. I felt alone. But that did not matter to me at the time because the numbers on the scale were going down…. and down …and down.

I kept aiming for a smaller number each time I reached my “goal”. It was funny … not ha ha funny, but weird funny. I thought when I got to a smaller number, I would be happy and perfect; however, it never happened. The lower the number got, the more unhappy I became.

When I was 16, I was in and out of treatment centers and hospitals for weeks at a time. My eating disorder got worse after each treatment attempt. I was not ready to let go. My family and friends felt helpless. They saw me slowing killing myself, but they could not stop it.

When I was 18, my doctor gave me two weeks to live. I had starved myself down to 79 pounds. My parents had contacted every treatment center they could find, but I was 18 … I was able to refuse treatment. Remuda Ranch, a treatment center in Arizona, had called to do a phone interview with me. They only take patients who are willing to try to get better. I refused their phone call; therefore, they would not accept me. My parents were devastated.

My parents were taking turns staying home with me because I was so sick. I wasn’t even able to get out of bed. It was a day that my dad was home with me. It was a few days after I had refused Remudaʼs phone call. My dad was crying out to God, praying for a miracle. Within minutes after he finished his prayer, the phone rang. It was Remuda Ranch conducting a follow up call. My father walked down the hall to my bedroom with the phone in his hand, knocked on my door, and told me who was on the phone. By the grace of God, I said I would take the call.

Why they called again? I have no idea. I believe that was the divine intervention of a God who longed to rescue me from myself.

Less than a week later, frail–broken-and-on-the-brink-of-death-little-me flew to Arizona. I had so many emotions…fear, sadness, anger, confusion, and in a strange way, relief.

My rescuer was already working behind the scenes, softening my hard and anxious heart. It was there at Remuda Ranch at the broken age of 18 that I (with a lot of hesitation) decided to let go and let God. He intervened and rescued me from the eating disorder (ED) that was draining me of joy, freedom, and life itself. There the Lord met me in my brokenness, took my hand and started walking with me on a journey to healing.

 

This picture was taken when I was at Remuda Ranch (probably 2-3 weeks into that treatment program).  The tube hanging from my nose is a feeding tube.  I had to be hooked up to multiple daily feedings to allow my body to get nutrition.  My body could not handle solid food at that point.  Solids had to be slowly re-introduced.
This picture was taken when I was at Remuda Ranch (probably 2-3 weeks into that treatment program). The tube hanging from my nose is a feeding tube. I had to be hooked up to multiple daily feedings to allow my body to get nutrition. My body could not handle solid food at that point. Solids had to be slowly re-introduced.

I never knew what a long (so very long), hard (so very hard) journey it would be. There were so many ups and downs (and I am not just talking about the scale going up and down). I am talking about mental and physical obstacles I had to overcome. I had to rebuild trust with God, my family and my friends. I had to rebuild trust with my very own body.

Remuda Ranch
This was also taken at Remuda Ranch, about 4 weeks into the treatment program. I was there for 60 days.

Fast forward nine years. God provided an amazing man who asked me to be his wife, and he has been such a gift to me. A couple years after that we decided we wanted to start a family.

When I was in the midst of the eating disorder behaviors, I didn’t know (or maybe I knew but didn’t care) what kind of damage I was doing to my body.  When I went to my doctor (the doctor that took care of me all through my eating disorder) to happily tell her we were ready to start trying to get pregnant, it hit. me. so. hard.

Because of the trauma you put your body through for years and years, you might not be able to conceive or carry children” she said.

I was devastated.

The consequences of my decisions as a young girl had such a massive ripple effect. I was terrified and angry, but again, in my despair God had a plan. I had yet another opportunity to relinquish my plan and control.

*In retrospect I can say with confidence that it’s in the hardest things that we grow the most.*

After a long time of trying, we became pregnant — with the help of fertility treatments and procedures. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl! I was overjoyed, and our sweet daughter has been such a gift. She is one of many amazing gifts that came as a result of God’s miraculous rescue.

If you have struggled with an ED, you know that they can be so gosh darn persistent. Throughout the years, I have battled off and on with control vs. surrender. When I let God get a hold of my heart, I was able to walk in healing and freedom. When I tried to do it my way, I would get stuck in old patterns. This was the cycle, and it was hard.

When our daughter was 3, we decided we wanted to have another child. Shockingly, we naturally became pregnant. Not only did we get pregnant on our own, but there were FOUR sacs in my womb. What?!?!? Everyone was amazed and perplexed. However, the pregnancy did not progress. At week nine, we had to say goodbye to all four babies in my womb. I was devastated and blamed myself because I had slipped backed into my eating disorder behavior before that pregnancy began. My body could not carry one child, let alone four.

But God wasn’t about to give up on me. He was my patient rescuer, and he fought so hard for my heart. Within the few months following the loss, I gained about 19 pounds and we decided to try again. We were naturally blessed with an identical twin conception. God enabled me to carry those two babies to full term and I gave birth to two healthy baby boys! Another miracle given by my rescuer.

This girl who was once told she had two weeks to live…a woman who was told she may NEVER be able to have children…is now the mommy of three little miracles, ages 6 and 2. And miracles are exactly what they are!!!

Picture by Stacia Spraetz, Fall 2013.
Picture by Stacia Spraetz, Fall 2013.

WOW … what a journey it has been!!!

When I turned 35 this year, I had a massive epiphany as I looked at my life through a new lens.

I could be dead. I could be childless. I could have missed out on ALL OF THIS! But God—OH GOD—in His amazing grace REACHED DOWN INTO MY MESS AND RESCUED ME. He knew me and loved me every single day. He waited patiently, He is my healer, and He has an amazing purpose for my life.

This pic (illustrating exactly how my life is ...awesome!) was taken by Emily Hernandez in August of 2012.
This pic (illustrating exactly how awesome my life is!) was taken by Emily Hernandez in August of 2012.

In those moments of breathtaking gratefulness just a few short months ago, God spoke to me. He wanted to break my chains off COMPLETELY. Not partly. Not for a few months. WHOLLY.

After more than 20 years of trying to fight an eating disorder on my own, I let go of my past. I forgave myself and devoted my life to Him. It’s through this continuous surrender that God’s greater plan and purpose for me can take root, and I cannot wait to fully experience all that He has for me!

For anyone who is struggling, I want you to know that there is hope and there is healing. I know there are times when you feel like there’s no way out. It may seem easier to let the ED take over and not fight back. But your true strength will come from handing it over to God and accepting his freedom. He will speak to you and open your eyes to all that He has for you. It’s a life of great purpose we’re promised in the Bible.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

Satan still tries to use stress and loneliness to tempt me to fall back into old behaviors, but I KNOW that those behaviors will only leave me feeling more stressed and empty. The way I fight back is by reminding myself that it’s Satan trying to pull me down. Instead of turning to those familiar behaviors, I take a “time out” to notice what is causing me to have those ED thoughts and then I do something healthy and productive to get rid of those thoughts … pray, write, read, call a friend … etc.

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Please know that I would love to pray for you, chat with you, encourage you, or help you in any way that I can. I’ve been there. I know how alone, scared, and hopeless you feel. But I promise you … there is hope. Do not give up. You are worth SO MUCH MORE!!!!!!!

God is good … ALL THE TIME!!!!!

If you would like to contact me, please leave me a comment below or message me on Facebook.

Be free!

This picture was taken just a few days ago when I went to ______ with my sister and mom, two wonderful women who have loved me fiercely through this whole battle. My heart is so full, and I feel so free!
This picture was taken just a few days ago when I went to Alto Pass, IL with my sister and mom, two wonderful women who have loved me fiercely through this whole battle. My heart is full, and I am finally free!

Friday Favorites…Summer Style

 

Friday Favorites

 

-Being beckoned awake by the rising sun

-Sun streaming through the trees

Olivia Ryan Favorites-0016

-Sitting outside with a glass of wine

-Painted toenails in sandals

-Seeing my babies in swimming suits

-Pools and sprinklers

Swimsuit collage

-Trampoline jumping

-Iced Coffee

-Thunderstorms & snuggles

-The fresh fragrance a good rain leaves behind

-Rainbows and flowers

-Meeting new friends at the park

-Sundresses and maxi skirts

-Summer roadtrips

-Pink Lemonade Tropical Snow

-More excuses for Whitey’s Ice Cream

-Buns, buns buns. Messy and high buns. :D

summer buns

Happy summer. It is a happy summer.

Just do it

Just Do It

No, sicko. (<–remember that word from Jr. High?) Get your mind out of the gutter. ;) I’m also not talking about the awesome 90s Nike slogan that impressively lives on (I love you Michael Jordan).

I’m talking about doing what you want to do in life.

What are the dreams of your heart?

What when you think of it fully realized makes you feel exhilarated and alive (and slightly terrified)?

What do you want to be known for when you die?

Do you have a burning passion to make something happen, but you’re scared or don’t know where to start?

For me, it’s my book series. My dream is sharing the message of hope with the world. I want to change lives by sharing the gospel and our story of hope through tragedy. I want it so badly MY HEART IS EXPLODING IN MY CHEST!

Sometimes, it’s so overwhelming that I just do nothing. Some days, I don’t know where to start, so I don’t start. I just sit there on Facebook or Pinterest and click “like” and “repin” until my kids wake up and then I’m like…crap. I didn’t “do it.” And I can’t get those minutes back.

Moving to action can be hard. Moving outside of our comfort zone can be terrifying.

I want to share a video with you today that will help you stop doing the FB/Pinterest/Twitter/Instagram-time-waster-thingy and start doing whatever it is you want to do.

This video gets a bit repetitive, even annoying at moments, but it’s stinking awesome. It helps me (and you) change desire into action. Watching this Art Williams 5 minute speech will not be a waste of your time. But before you watch it:

Identify ONE THING that you want. What is it? What is your dream? :) Share it with me in the comments below. Putting your dreams on paper is powerful. Then humor me for five minutes and watch the vid.

My disclaimer today is for peeps walking through infertility. Oh friend, I know you want babies. You want to be a momma or a dadda and you can’t just “will it” to happen. It’s one of the few things in life you can’t “just do it” to earn. You can’t work harder and ensure the outcome. My advice to you today is to dig around in your heart to find something else that gets your mind churning…your legs dancy…the joy in your heart bubbling up…and move to action on that. Tomorrow will come.

But for today

Just do it

celebrate…don’t compare

You know those really cute dialogue things people post?

“This is me the parent saying something.”

“Then my kid says something cute back.”

“I ask said kid some clarifying question?”

“She or he responds with some off-the-wall-hilarious response that you couldn’t make up if you tried.”

I love this kind of facebook post. It excites me for the darndest things my kids will someday say. I will write them down in a notebook of “Coleton-isms” and “Annabelle-isms” and cherish them forever!

I’ve actually been waiting for them to start….but it might be a little while cuz Coleton doesn’t talk too much. He has made significant speaking strides, but he’s still on the “I talk very little” end of the spectrum for his age group. This is what I find myself saying to people who (probably) don’t even notice or care how much he is talking:

“It’s a few things I think:

1) He’s the first kid and I’ve probably anticipated his needs a little too much.

2) He’s a boy. Boys usually talk less than their female peers.

3) He’s an introvert and loves spending time alone in his crib or reading.”

Why do I feel the need to explain his language development to my peers? I would love Coleton the same amount if he hadn’t spoken ONE word in his little life, yet I find myself comparing his milestones to other kids his age and getting self conscious about it.

Sometimes it’s in my head, but sometimes it’s aloud on my playdates. I give disclaimers. I express my frustration or stress or fears about him not speaking conceptual thoughts or more than one, two or sometimes three word sentences. I make comments about how chunky Annabelle is. And frankly I’m embarrassed by myself. Why am I comparing my kids to my friend’s kids when I could just be celebrating my kids for who they are?!

You see, I am 100% in love with Annabelle’s kissable, squishable rolls. I love that Coleton isn’t growing up too fast or talking up a storm yet. He’s my sweet snugly boy who is emerging out of his cocoon on his own timing. I’m straight up enamored with my kids.

When I’m alone, I cherish them well. We have fun in the sprinkler, reading, playing, tickling, eating, etc…and I’m constantly amazed at how they’re growing and changing. These little peeps are magnificent.

But the ugly thing about comparison is that it robs me of delighting in who they are today.

I’m calling BS on myself. I’m calling BS on our culture that obsesses over our kids wanting to be doctors at like age 12. I’m challenging myself and anyone else who is convicted of comparing your kids to their peers to STOP. Whether your kid is the next Einstein or 9 years behind developmentally….STOP COMPARING and START CELEBRATING.

Our kids are these wonderful little beings, and there is no human who has ever been or will be exactly like them. God healed my broken mentality of constant comparison to other women, and He has given me so much joy in parenting these kiddos. Therefore, I will not let comparison sneak into my mom life and rob me of any of that joy. Coleton and Annabelle and any future children God wants to give us will be celebrated by their mommy no matter what they do or who they are. They will be free to grow and learn at whatever rate they grow and learn. They will be free to play and be kids as long as they will stay young.

For those of you who do a wonderful job of not comparing your kids, thank you. You inspire me. For the rest of us, let’s celebrate exactly where our kids are. Today.

Someday, I will post a cute and funny convo. But for today, it’s time to go get C and AB out of their cribs and enjoy their jibberish and new words and sweet smiles. And that’s plenty for me.IMG_8202ps. riding the bus at church from the far parking lot to the building is pretty much Coleton’s favorite weekly activity. Therefore, it’s one of mine too. ;)

Do you ever struggle with comparison? Share in the comments how you fight back.

 

Friday Favorites

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a fan of alliteration.

I will award some favs today because everyone loves a good recommendation! Plus, I wanted to lighten things up around here.

Friday Favorites

Favorite YA Book: Daniel’s Story by Carol Matas (Great WWII book for kids in 4-6th grade)

Favorite Fiction Book: A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert (just finished it last night and I was all happy weepy)

Favorite Author (male): Jon Gordon – So inspiring and easy to read!

Favorite Author (female): SARK aka Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy – She’s a visionary!

Favorite Person: Kevin … my hubs of (almost) 6 years!

Favorite Babies: Coleton Samuel (2) and Annabelle Hope (1) …wow that one was tough ;o)

Favorite Movie: 3 way tie between Legally Blonde, Mulan, and Goodwill Hunting..but what about Frozen & X Men, …ahh! So many good movies. I like movies.

Favorite Restaurant in the QCA: Red Crow Grill

Favorite City: Paris (Chicago is a close second!)

Favorite Restaurant in Chicago: Grand Luxe Cafe (beignets please!!)

Favorite Vacation Spot: Disney World with the kiddos, Europe with my man (I can hardly let myself think about it or I start checking flights!)

Favorite Snack: Chocolate Chip Cookies (I have a ravenous sweet tooth!)

Favorite Fruit: Honeydew

Favorite Season: Fall but really all the non-winter ones ;o)

Favorite Starbys Drink: Green Tea Frappuchino

Favorite food: Pizza!

Now I’m in a great mood for my Friday hangout day with the babes! I work Mon-Thurs and then Friday we do fun things. <3 Cheers to that!

Friday Favs one

 

releasing anxiety

 

Cast your anxiety
It’s not a suggestion, it’s a commandment.

Sometimes, I feel anxiety creep up around me from out of nowhere. It’s not everyday, but it happens. At least weekly. Tightness in my chest. Restlessness. Uneasiness. To be honest, I don’t know why. I’m not in a desert season like I have been in the past, yet I find myself facing restlessness. Oh, humanity.

Anyone else?

A month ago I was exchanging emails with a friend who recently lost her baby. She had to hold her little one’s lifeless body in her trembling arms and say goodbye. Anxiety taunts her and threatens to suffocate. She is terrified of the future and the pain it might hold. She was asking how I kept on when I felt like I couldn’t face another day.

I remembered back to the days when I felt like God’s plan made no sense. When our children went to heaven…one after another…and I struggled so deeply. I was angry and frustrated. Trusting in the Lord didn’t come easily; I was more like hanging on for dear life.

Looking back, I see that God was holding me secure. I wasn’t overtaken because HE didn’t allow me to be done in by the trials that felt so much bigger than I could handle. I was His daughter and He cared way too much to let me be defeated.

I honestly don’t know how I made it through and I assure you, it wasn’t pretty.  But God brings us through stuff. And we’re changed.

As I was typing a response to my sweet friend, 1 Peter 5:7 flooded my heart with a truth that I, too, needed to hear that day.

Cast your anxiety upon the Lord.

The Bible doesn’t say, “Cast your anxiety on Him if you want to have less stress.” It says “Cast your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Loving, yet authoritative.

 First, the command: “Cast your anxiety upon the Lord.”

It’s not optional. God says to do it. Cast it. Let go of it. Get down on your knees and ask him to help you release the gripping anxiety. If you don’t know what to say, tell him that.

“God, I don’t know what to say, but I know I need to let go of this. Help me. I don’t want it anymore. I know you care because the Bible says you do.”

Breathe in deeply. When you release your breath, release your anxiety to God. Breath has been given to us as a gift. Deep breathing calms. Short breathing stresses. As you continue this deep breathing, imagine yourself inhaling the peace of the Lord that surpasses understanding. Let His love wash over you.

When you feel that anxiety creeping back up (even if it’s 10 minutes later), get down on your knees and cast it off again.

Second, the why: “because he cares for you.”

I am so thankful God isn’t an old bearded dude in the sky! He is a tenderhearted Father who draws near to His children. He knows you by name and cares for you. He doesn’t want your life to be invaded by anxiety or worry even more than you don’t want that. He hates to see things steal your joy and hope.

steady your gaze

Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

God cares. Fill your heart with the truth of His word today. Blast that worship music. Pray. Surrender. Be still. Cast your stuff on Him because He cares way more than you know.

(I’m preaching to myself too.)

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be moved.”

Do you struggle with anxiety or worry? What is God asking you to lay at his feet today?

**Originally written for Mommies with Hope

Tears In my coffee

It strikes at the most unexpected moments. That pang in your gut when you want so badly to bring the children you have lost back to life…bring them to your breakfast table…yet you know it can’t happen. At least not yet.

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The lump in my throat. The tightness in my breath.

Selfishly I just want to hold them. I want to whisper in their tiny ears, “Mommy and Daddy love you so much.” To comfort them when they cry. To inhale the scent of their soft skin. To study their perfect and unique little faces.

This morning I had one of these moments.

It has been two years since our last miscarriage. Two sweet years of healing and resting. But not absent of longing.

As I sipped my black coffee, this was my thought progression. “Wow, Coleton and Annabelle are really sleeping in today! Thank you, Lord for the rain! But strangely I want to go get them up; they’re so sweet in the morning.”

That’s when the bag of bricks hit me from out of the blue.

I will never get to lift the babies we lost out of their cribs in the morning. I will never get to see their sleepy morning eyes. Never get to see their excited, dry smile as they jump up and down with a huge poofy diaper, so excited to start a new day.

I mean, maybe in heaven. But will they be babies? How old are babies who died in heaven? Surely they aren’t still preemies. Surely they are full and complete, whole and well. Happy and healthy. Jumping for joy in the most wonderful of ways.

It will someday be perfect, I know. My heavenly home is bursting at the seams with laughter and curls and children everywhere!

My six littles aren’t missing out on a thing, but I am.

I’m so grateful that they were spared pain and tears and every ounce of suffering, but I wasn’t.

So this morning, there are tears in my coffee.

Does this happen to anyone else? When did it hit you?

So many things

wanna snoop in my life?

Two weeks from today is opening night! I’m going to be in Quad City Music Guild’s production of Les Miserables, which is totally a bucket list show for theater people. :)

I’m a factory girl, a “lovely lady,” a beggar, a grieving sister, and a person excited about the revolution. And the leads in this show are ridic so you should prob get your tickets now. Details here.

Anyway, there’s a line in the show sung by the beautiful Cosette:

“In my life…there are so many things unclear, so many things unknown”
So many things

That’s sorta how I feel right now. The future seems like it could go in so many wild, amazing directions and I’m just along for the ride. Some of the uncertainty, though, totally freaks me out. Here are the 4 areas of life about which I’m feeling nervous and excited for the future:

1) Our house. This one is at the forefront of my mind because we have been cleaning like mad people up in this crib. Crazily enough– the house that me and Kev moved into 1.5 years ago, thinking we would live here forever and raise tons of babies in, has been feeling TOO BIG. Like, we have two kids..(both still practically babies) and 1,300 square feet per person is just a LOT! We had a totally groundbreaking, God-moving conversation a few weeks ago where we both shared that we were feeling led to downsize!!

It was a scary conversation…I might have cried about having to let go of some of the hopes and dreams I initially had for this house, but mostly I was crying thankful tears. I’m so grateful that God moved in BOTH of our hearts. Now future-wise…just feeling a little uncertain! What will showing our house be like while we still live here? Will God bring a buyer? What will actual moving with two toddlers look like? What will our new house be like? Where will it be? Will our new neighbors be as awesome as our current ones? If no one comes to buy it, we’re cool with that too. But we feel like we’re stepping out in faith by putting this house on the market. We’ve done a ton of updates, and feel like selling it would put us in a great financial position to become debt-free, save aggressively, and give generously. These are a few pics of the house if you want to come through it and maybe buy it ;)

House collage

2) #1 leads me to #2. Babies. We always thought we wanted babies…boom boom boom…one right after another. As many as God wanted to give us!! (or 5…probably the lesser of the two). (Hence, moving into a 5 bedroom house.) Now, I keep going back and forth on this one. Part of me thinks there’s something Biblical about the Duggar philosophy…and part of me says (holy mama. I can’t believe I’m typing this) “I think I could be completely content with our two miracle babes.”

I’m not saying I don’t want more babies. BUT, as much as I thought I would be ready to try again by this point (Annabelle being over 1 and pretty darn amiable), I’m just not. And I don’t know when I will feel ready…waiting for God to prepare my heart for that. Obviously, I wouldn’t be upset if I got pregnant…but for right now, I don’t want to hop back on roller-coaster-let’s-try-for-another-baby. #ohmiscarraiagehowifearthee :( I love that our family in heaven is big, but I so fear pregnancy. It’s the most intense Love/Hate relationship I have evaaaaa felt. SO, no babies for team Ryan as of right now. As far as we can control it.

3) My writing career. My query letters are at the Ready…Set…when-I-click-send-it’s-GO point. My proposal is being tightened up and edited on a few levels. The first book in my series, “Bearing Hope: Your Inspirational Companion Through the Darkness of Infertility” is in the starting blocks as far as getting an agent/editor goes. On June 7th I will be attending the Write-To-Publish Conference in Wheaton, Illinois and I’m hoping to make some professional contacts and generate some interest in my series. This is a terrifying AND exciting place to be. I know the rejection letters are inevitable, and I’ve actually already gotten one! (Hooray! AND oh crap!) The fears are setting in big time.

The voices in my head chitter chatter back and forth:

“Am I cut out for this?”

“I AM GOING TO BE PUBLISHED”

“I need a more professional website.”

“I CAN DO THIS!”

“My resume is too short.” Etc. etc.

I want to believe in myself with my whole being, but it’s a VERY competitive industry and it’s easy to cop-out and simply give up before I even put myself out there. Why? Because rejection is terrifying. The thing is, I feel called to this. I feel equipped. I feel like I have something amazing to offer, and I am willing to fight an uphill battle to make this happen!!

My book is written in a similar, creatively handwritten style like SARK, and she is a National Best Seller who has been published by RANDOM HOUSE!! If she can do it, I can do it. Plus, I have a gorgeous amazing illustrator named Hannah Slay who has drawn some amazing pics and fonts for me. I KNOW KNOW KNOW my books will change the world for God’s glory! They will change the lives of people walking through infertility, miscarraiges, eating distorders, etc…so it’s WILL happen. It’s just a matter of when…and finding a visionary editor. Will you pray with me for that?!

I am fighting to believe what SARK says: “Have the mentality of ‘they will be lucky to find me.’”

4. My financial representative career. Yesterday I passed my Life Insurance and Disability Insurance exams to become a licensed part of my husband’s financial planning practice! woot woot! My sexy husband, Kevin, has had the honor of growing a thriving practice with Northwestern Mutual since day one of his college intern career 7 years ago. Our dinner conversations have  pretty much been about financial planning for forever, so this is a pretty natural move. It’s also natural because I have already been a part of his team in the marketing aspect for a few months. However, my role is changing for the better. I know I have what it takes to help people in the same way Kevin does, and working in this regard will help expand the reach of his practice and make it more efficient. I am excited tohelp people I care about make wiser and more secure financial decisions!

Kevin’s passion for helping people is contagious, and after a couple years of struggling to find the right person for his team, we made the decision that I will work as an Associate Financial Rep with him for a year or two and see how things progress from there (personally and professionally). The best part is, I’ll still be working part-time hours so I don’t miss a full day with the kids (I’ll miss a few morning hours and then be home when they wake up from their afternoon naps). And bonus: Kev is super fun and easy to work with.

 

SOOOO yeah, Big changes ahead around here.

You guys, life is crazy. We just never know what twists and turns this journey called life is holding. I’m so glad I am surrounded by people who love me, love our kids, and love Jesus. Even with “so many things unclear, so many things unknown” I can hold fast to this passage from Isaiah 46:9-10:

“Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.”

God is in control. It’s all going to be okay. (But I’m definitely wearing a seatbelt because whoa…)

Does anyone else ever experience twists and turns, or is it just me?

It’s a good thing I love change.