Sunday, August 6, 2017

Beauty from Ashes

I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
~Job 42:2

Yesterday, I spotted some beautiful pink flowers from a distance. Their color was so vivid that I found myself kind of staring as I got closer to them. But when I got right next to them, I could see that the edges on most of them were worn and some were even a little brown. They weren't perfect, but they were still absolutely stunning. The storms and wear and tear of every day life had made them ragged around the edges, but their vibrancy and beauty remained.

I thought about those flowers again today. The beauty of them was mesmerizing even though they weren't picture perfect. And they made me think about our Father. We are so rough around the edges. We constantly mess up and often we carry the implications of that. And yet, our Father sees the whole picture. He sees all of us, sin & all, and still sees beauty. He sees and knows everything about us and still sees the beautiful creation that He formed in His image.

He sees and He knows our stories. He knows the dirtiest and the most difficult parts of our journeys, and yet, He never leaves and He still sees a beautiful, beloved child. He sees the whole picture.

Two years ago when I was at rock bottom and a few weeks from checking into eating disorder treatment, I felt defeated. I wasn't clinging to hope. But God knew; God saw the whole picture. He already knew that He was going to redeem my story. He already had every moment planned out. He already knew the beauty that He would cultivate from those ashes.

Every day he continues to amaze me, and every time I think He couldn't possibly leave me in awe more than He already has, and then, He does. I look back and can clearly see His hand in every moment along the way. He was in the storm. He was in the waiting. He never left my side. And while I felt defeated and like a complete failure covered in shame, He saw the whole picture, and He saw beauty. 

Friend, I don't know where you are today. I don't know if you're feeling shame because you've messed up or wandered off the path; I don't know if you're hurting or feeling alone because of a storm you are walking through, or if you're feeling desperate in a season of waiting, but I do know this: there is hope. Cling to it. God has a plan for you and it can't be thwarted. We can only see the here and now, but He sees the whole picture, and in Romans 8:28, He promises to work it for good. 

God created you just as you are, and no matter where you are right now, there is always beauty because God created you. He has a great purpose for your life. I know that can be hard to trust and believe; I promise you I know that all too well. But I also know this: what He has planned for each of us is infinitely better than what we ever could have envisioned. I'm so thankful I didn't get to plan it all because I certainly wouldn't be where I am now, and I would have missed so much. There is nothing beyond His redemption; we never know how He can take our rough edges and transform them into something beautiful.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

When You Feel Like Giving Up

We've all reached that breaking point at one time or another; the mountain you're climbing starts to feel endless and you begin to wonder if there is any point in continuing to climb. It seems that it would be easier to just stop and camp wherever you are. You need to rest.

Are you feeling this way? Are you just absolutely exhausted? Please hear my heart today, friend. Don't give up. I know it's tempting and I know it seems easier, but Jesus is waiting with arms open wide to give you that rest.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 
~Matthew 11:28

The Lord replied, "My presence will go with you and I will give you rest."
~Exodus 33:14

My should finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
~Psalm 62:1-2

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
~Psalm 73:26

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
~Psalm 91:1

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.
~Psalm 116:7

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
~Isaiah 40:29-31

I'm the world's worst about neglecting that rest. My mind automatically wants to bear the title of Wonder Woman and do everything for every body and I think that's a pretty common struggle. But we can only keep it up for so long and then when we reach that breaking point, instead of realizing we are so unbelievably tired because we've been trying to do it all on our own, we just want to give up. So friend, I am here to remind you today that you are no quitter.

I know you may be exhausted. You may be feeling down on yourself and wondering what else you could possibly have to give. You. Are. Priceless. You were bought at a price that could only be paid by the Most High King and He paid it because He loves you. 

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
~Exodus 14:14

Friend, I don't know what mountain you're climbing; I don't know what battle you are fighting; but I do know that you don't have to do it alone. You can rest in peace knowing that the One who has already conquered the world is fighting for you. So instead of giving up, give it to Him. Let Him fight for you. Crawl into His loving arms and rest awhile. 

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Innx Non-Slip Quilted Waterproof Cargo Liner *Review*

I love our sweet little Schnauzer, August, but sometimes he likes to get messy and sometimes he likes to leave his hair behind like a trail of bread crumbs which isn't always the best look for my car. 

The Innx Non-Slip Quilted Waterproof Cargo Liner is here to solve that problem for the back of our vehicle. Now, normally August rides up front but there have been times that we have gone to the park and he's found some mud or water to get into and I wasn't exactly thrilled about him sitting on my lap  or my seats (or even the floor for that matter) and I would find myself scrambling to wrap him up in a towel and trying to keep him from wriggling out of it. 

I've thought about trying a cargo liner before, but they looked like a pain to put in and I just haven't taken the plunge to get one and try it. I was super surprised at how easy it was to install the Innx Liner. You simply wrap the straps around the headrests of your back seat and adjust them so that the liner is the correct height for your vehicle. Then you place the velcro from the sides onto the sides of your cargo space and that's it. It's seriously that easy and took me about two minutes total.

This product is well worth the price and is quality material that is apparently comfortable as well because August made himself right at home as you can see.

I love that it has extra length for you to pull down over your bumper to prevent little claws from scratching your bumper as they jump in. As I was installing this I realized that not only is it great for protecting my car from a little furball who has gotten into water or mud, but it was also be great for him to relax on when we visit our local drive in theater. 

*I received this product in exchange for an honest review via All opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Why Are We Afraid to be Broken?

Broken. Sometimes it almost feels like that should be a forbidden four letter word. 

Imagine with me that you're a 19 year old young woman. You're sitting in church and you can feel that your stomach is about to growl and break the silence. You think of something to say so that you can try to cover the sound it makes as it rumbles. Someone makes a joke and you start to laugh and get light headed. You can't remember when you ate last.

You're in a room full of people, and yet, you feel completely alone. The secrets you're hiding are suffocating and you feel like you're drowning. If you could just tell someone, maybe you could get some relief; maybe you could get some help.

But you can't tell anyone that you don't eat. You can't tell them that when you do, you race to the bathroom to get rid of it. You can't tell them about your frequent trips to the gym or how many times you step on a scale each day. 

One day you can tell them. You can tell them when you're better; when you have a story to tell about how God delivered you from this vicious cycle that consumes your life. But not now. What would they think of you?

So for now, you plaster on the smile. You sink into your oversized sweater that you hope covers your secrets and your pain. You push the pain and the hurt a little deeper because no one wants to see that; you'll tell them about it when there is a happy ending. And you pray that one day there is a happy ending so that you can let it all out. Then you sigh, wanting to believe that this isn't forever, but unable to imagine life any differently.

Church, why are we so afraid to be broken? We've got to do better. We are supposed to be a safe place, and yet, hurting people so often don't feel safe sharing their pain and their hurt. I dealt with this for so long. It's part of the reason I waited so long to finally get the help I needed. Praise God that He placed me with a group of believers who were a safe place. But that doesn't happen often enough. Too many people are afraid to show their brokenness and we've got to start working to change that.

So, how do we become a safe place? Start with being authentic. Stop trying to act like everything is always perfect. God tells us in Isaiah that when we walk through fire or deep waters He will be with us. Not if, but when. When you're open and honest, other people will feel more comfortable being open and honest as well. Realize that brokenness and vulnerability are not bad words. Scary? Sure. But they are not bad. In fact, it is often in our brokenness that the love of Christ shines through the most. And then, when someone does reveal a struggle, we have to be willing to sit with them in their hurt and their pain; to be vulnerable with them.

Friend, if you're hurting, if you're struggling, you can go to someone. You don't have to hide it. You don't have to stuff it down inside until you have a happy ending to tell.  

If you or someone you know are struggling with an Eating Disorder, contact the National Eating Disorder Association Hotline at 800-931-2237. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.
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Sunday, June 25, 2017

For Such a Time as This

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
~Esther 4:14

Sometimes God places us somewhere and we don't understand why. I'm not necessarily talking about a tough situation or even something hard in general. Sometimes He can place you somewhere that is a great place to be, but maybe it just seems random and you don't understand why He chose you to be there.

God taught me a lesson in patience today. So many times God has placed me in situations and pretty quickly revealed to me why He had me there. But there was a particular place where He had me, a good place, but I kind of felt like it was really random for me to be there. I didn't seem to have any connections to the situation that would cause me to be a fit and I had honestly started to wonder if maybe I'd never know why. And sometimes that's the case; sometimes we never know why He places us somewhere and we just have to trust Him.

But today, after almost a year, He placed people in my path who had been impacted by something I have walked through myself. People that I never would have encountered if God had not set me right where He needed me to be. It was one of those moments where you couldn't have planned it to be any more perfect if I had spent months planning it.

But God did perfectly orchestrate the right paths to cross. He knew before the beginning of time that our stories would meet. He knew. He always, always knows.

So friend, if you find yourself somewhere and you just aren't sure why; if you're feeling stuck and not sure why God would put you where He has you, remember this: perhaps you were created for such a time as this

He has you just where He wants you. Trust Him. Chase Him. Blaze trails.
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Amazon Giftcard {Giveaway}

Hey Readers! Just as a "thank you" and because I so appreciate you, here is the chance for you to win a little Amazon happy: Enter to win a $10 Gift Card to Amazon below. There are multiple ways to enter. Thanks for entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This giveaway is in no way associated with any social media platform. Giveaway winner will be contacted via the email provided in the widget and must respond within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen.
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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Finding Grace in Chocolate Cake

I love when God sends me reminders of His beautiful grace. It usually happens when I least expect it, but it always happens right when I need it. Tonight, it was in a piece of chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream.

I had about thirty minutes in my car this evening without any kiddos in the backseat fighting and I spent some time reflecting on how different my life is now from two years ago. I thought about how I was happily heading to a get together where food would be involved when two years ago I would have come up with every excuse in the book to not attend so that I wouldn't have to answer questions about why I wasn't eating. 

Instead I probably would have been keeping myself busy to avoid eating or forcing myself to run ridiculous amounts to make sure I hit an insane number of steps on my FitBit. I would've been weighing myself for the fifth or sixth time.

And as the song "Chain Breaker" by Zach Williams came on the radio, my heart was full of gratitude that that cycle is no longer what my life looks like. Praise God that He rescues. Praise God for His mercy and transforming power.

Transformed. That's the word that popped into my head when I sat looking at an empty plate earlier tonight. To be able to sit and eat a meal with precious friends and then to follow that meal with chocolate cake and ice cream may not seem like a big deal to many, but for me, it's something that I didn't think I would ever do two years ago. 

But before I ate that cake, I had a moment where the beauty of His grace overwhelmed me. Grace that has allowed me to be here. Grace that has taught me to grant myself grace to enjoy life and those precious moments. Grace that has taught me to appreciate life and the gift that it is. Grace that has taught me to cherish the people God places in my life and to see them for the treasure that they are. Grace that has taught me who I am in Christ and through that, defeated the eating disorder that ravaged so much of my life. 

Because without that grace, I wouldn't have eaten that chocolate cake. Without that grace I don't even know if I would be alive. But grace broke the chains that held me trapped in a dark corner for so long. Grace says, you were meant for so much more than this. Grace says, you never have to go back to that place. Grace says, you can't even imagine the beautiful things that are in store. Grace says, you are so much more than what has happened to you; you are more than any mistakes you've made. Grace says, you don't have to be perfect because you serve the One who is. Grace says, come as you are.

Friend, if you are stuck in your own struggle, no matter what it may be, grace says: Come to the table. Come just as you are

Let His grace rescue you; let it break those chains holding you down. Let grace allow you to run unashamedly to the cross with those broken chains lifted high. Let His grace transform you.

Because His grace, sets people free. It transforms people. It means that you never have to walk back to that storm you're in. It means that the only time you have to look back, is to marvel at how far He has brought you. 

His grace is all around me. And tonight, He reminded me of its beauty in a piece of chocolate cake.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.
~Psalm 34:8
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