Friday, June 27, 2014

Symphony's First Birthday

The last 365 days with this babe have been straight blissful. I wish I was over-exaggerating. Nearly everyday Ty and I look at each other and ask some variation of, "How did we get so lucky with this kid?"

Sure, our lives have changed. However, not as drastically as we anticipated. We were terrified of parenthood. Probably one too many horror stories combined with Google. (That's another blog for another time.) But we are overwhelmed and mildly taken by surprise, by how much of a blessing this little one has been.

From the moment she was known, she's brought joy.

The food was all cute and small. Like a baby. Baby pb&j's, bite sized fruit, donut holes, cake donuts, cupcakes, yum!

Sym's finally getting in to reading. Although she gets bored by page five or six and would rather turn pages for 15 minutes. #babies But Sofie will crack her up forever. 

Although it was my favorite part, Sym wasn't sure about the smash cake. It was more like a lightly-touch-and-observe-cake. But there were some adult casualties. #hestartedit My girl is an observing rule follower. Whether I'm excited or nervous about that is to be determined.

I'm in a bit of denial that it's been a year already, but I hear they just get faster. This year will be a new journey for us as parents with a different way of life in a brand new city and community. But as usual, we're excited.

The responsibility of raising a girl in this generation can feel a bit daunting at times. I know she's cute and squishy and all smiles now, but there may come a day when her rebellious spirit takes over and I cry on the bathroom floor after grounding her for a week.

And in those moments, I will find this post, and flip through her baby book and remember that she was created for a purpose.

I will remember her identity is not in being our daughter, but being God's daughter. 

He loves her more than we ever could and I will learn the freedom that comes with that truth.

-- But feel free to remind me. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Is Your Discouragement Hindering Your Movement? | #dearsisters

Dear Discouraged,

I see you. I am you.

I see you, somewhere between who you used to be and who you are becoming in Christ. Striving for growth and progress along the journey to becoming “acceptable”, “adequate”, “effective”.

I see you, Discouraged, caught in a net of sin and hardship on the shores of the calling of Christ. Struggling. Fighting. So close, but with every reason and disadvantage to assume you will simply never make it. Thinking you will never enjoy the easy rock and flow of the calm waters in sight. 

You've convinced yourself you cannot help your sisters on the same journey.

You believe you are too tangled, too broken.

Me too. 

I am caught in a net of “where I think I should be”. It’s a disheartening illusion made up of judgments, standards, and comparisons. I am cursing my failing flesh for landing me in this dark place again. My big dreams of being used for His glory are sinking deep. I measure my progress and it is not enough. I am frustrated and I am tired. But I am not hopeless. (Click it to tweet it!)

We    are    not    hopeless. 

This net we feel caught in and disqualified by will not sink us. We do not need to be free of sin, free of hardship, free of struggle to move forward. (Click it to tweet it.) 

Do not be paralyzed, sister. Do not submit to your struggle, but submit your struggle to God, because everything can be redeemed in the hands of the Father. Yes. Every single thing you count against yourself can be used to display the glory, grace, and power of the Gospel. This is freedom. Don’t become distracted from moving forward by untangling yourself and healing yourself. 

God can move you and use you exactly where you are.

So let's get moving. Together. 
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Laboring together [as God’s fellow workers] with Him then, we beg of you not to receive the grace of God in vain [that merciful kindness by which God exerts His holy influence on souls and turns them to Christ, keeping and strengthening them—do not receive it to no purpose]. 2 Corinthians 6:1
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Now I want you to know and continue to rest assured, brethren, that what [has happened] to me [this imprisonment] has actually only served to advance and give a renewed impetus to the [spreading of the] good news (the Gospel).

So much is this a fact that throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest [here] my imprisonment has become generally known to be in Christ [that I am a prisoner in His service and for Him].

And [also] most of the brethren have derived fresh confidence in the Lord because of my chains and are much more bold to speak and publish fearlessly the Word of God [acting with more freedom and indifference to the consequences]. Philippians 1:6, 1:12-18

Original photo via | Edited by JM

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy First Father's Day

"Men should always change diapers. It’s a very rewarding experience. It’s mentally cleansing. It’s like washing dishes, but imagine if the dishes were your kids, so you really love the dishes.” —Chris Martin

To the Dad who loves doing both; dishes and diapers, that is.

From day one, you have served our girl with your whole heart. Before she was even a thought, I knew you were a man with an insatiable ability to love and a bottomless well of servanthood.

But when she arrived, when I saw you calm that little screaming squishy newborn with just the firmness and gentleness of your voice, I knew I was about to experience a new you. 

You were still you, but fuller.

Fatherhood has made you more whole. 

I know I frequently tell you I can't image our life without Baby Girl Mo, but today I want to tell you I can't imagine you without her. 

The way she snuggles your face and smiles the instant you catch her eye. I love watching her, but these days, I love watching you more. 

You're different, and she's the one who changed you. 

I look through pictures of pre-dad Ty and smirk at that baby face, la-la land, love bird. He's handsome, he's ambitious, he's determined and courageous. He's the man I fell in love with. He's the man that swept me off my feet at 1000 miles per hour. And I love him for it. 

But the you of today--the father, the husband--I love him more because he's all those things in a much more fierce, yet anchored way. 

She caught you. She grew you. She moved you in a way no one could.

You are the father Symphony will be proud to call her own. You will find the balance between being the good cop and bad cop. You will bust down the cultural norm of "dumb dad." You will stand guard over your family like a lion and his pride. You will walk our family through any dark valley and carry us up and over any mountain you aren't able to move with your bare hands. 

Why am I confident of this, you ask? 

Because I know that God is for you. I've seen it. I've watched it. I've seen you sift through faith and faith sift through you, and you've come out the other end, brighter. It's as if, like the writer of Psalms, your face radiates your communion with God. 

I am honored to be raising our girl alongside you. I couldn't imagine doing it any other way. 

Happy First Father's Day babe ~ We'll try to make it a good one. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

If We Were On A Coffee Date | No. 4

If we were on a coffee date, I'd probably have my shirt on backwards but I'd tell you We're here! Austin, Texas has three new residents as of Tuesday. We traveled 1300 miles in 22 hours, with 2 hotels and a whole lot of junk food. We are safe and happy and nesting. 

If we were on a coffee date,  I'd tell you last night I found out how I'm completely ill equipped to live in Texas weather conditions. I know the humidity will take some regimen adjusting, but the tornados?? My goodness. Those are enough to chase this California girl back home. 

If we were on a coffee date, I'd ask if you've ever lived out of your home state before. I find it fascinating how everyone adjusts to such a drastic life change. 

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you how Baby Girl Mo is now sleeping in her own room and I'm surprised  how well she's I'm doing. She wakes up a time or two during the night, but I think she's just adjusting to her new surroundings. She's such a champ. 

If we were on a coffee date, it'd be a shorter one than normal, because my empty house is in shambles (oxymoron?) and we're furniture shopping today. 

If we were on a coffee date, I'd ask you to meet me same time, same place next week so we can chill a little more. 

More pics and road trip stories coming this week. 
Original photo via | Edited by JM

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Song My Husband Wrote for My Weary Soul

Sometimes the most beautiful things are found by sifting through the muck and mire of our life's story.

That's exactly how Job Song was crafted. As a 24 year old and 29 year old couple, we were desperately grappling with a new journey of infertility. 

It's a road no one assumes they'll walk down. In our minds, the natural progression of life was high school graduation, college, wedding, babies. Sometimes in an alternative order, but all taking place none-the-less. 

I wasn't ready to deal with the chances of never being pregnant. I had dreamed of those moments since I was in high school. It was the one thing I remember vividly telling my friends over and over again, I can't wait to be pregnant and feel a life growing inside of me. It was weird, admittedly. But true. 

The thing about infertility and pregnancy loss is that no matter how long a woman struggles through it, it's her version of eternity. Some women have suffered and mourned decades longer than I. And while our pain is never the same, the sting is familiar and the length way too long. 

For two years I took dozens of tests, had two miscarriages, went to discouraging doctor's appointments, and every 33 days, my heart smashed at the reality that my story might never read, And she was with child. Day after day, week after week, I devoured God's words for some life-ring of hope and comfort. I needed my God to do something -- anything -- because I felt myself spiraling down a staircase of questions, doubts, and distrust. 

I was the church girl who had all the right answers and always loved God above all. I didn't doubt God. Never. Ever. Yet there I was, penning the words, Is this some kind of sick joke? Do you really see me where I'm at? Of all the things, you had to take this? What kind of Father are you that you would taunt me with a good thing and then take it away so violently?  

For the first time in my life, I was doubting the goodness of my God. 

I was ashamed of that entry. I never wanted anyone to read it. It was ugly and ridden with guilt. How could I doubt what I'd known for so long to be true? 

Later that night, while I clung to my journal in one hand and my husband in the other, he asked gently, Can I read your journal? 

No way, I responded.

Please babe, I need to know what's going on inside your head. I need to know how to help you. 

He was right. I couldn't explain what I was feeling in a tailored and polished manner, but the least I could do was let him read.

It's not pretty, I wept as I loosened my grip. My heart was about to be exposed. The severity of my wounds were festering in the pages of that journal and my wrap job was falling apart. 

And it was from that moment in time that The Job Song was birthed. 

My husband put words and passion and music to what my soul was already crying out. He gave me a voice when mine was worn out. 

The Bible says, we are comforted by God so that we might comfort others and we are loved by God so that we might show His love to others (2 Corinthians 1).  We can have a voice, when others have none. (Click it to tweet it) We have a pen or a paintbrush or passion, when others have none. 

Who, right now in your life, do you need to speak for? Write for? Sing for? Create for?

They need you to do it, and do it urgently.

"Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Encourage one another and build each other up." (Philippians 2:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Pain is never meant to be endured in vain. Suffering is redeemed in sharing. (Click it to tweet it.)

Community is fortified in helping make something beautiful from the ashes of our lives. 

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Friday, June 6, 2014

If We Were on a Coffee Date | No. 3

If we were on a coffee date, I'd order a Trenta Iced Green Tea with no sweetener. And a chocolate bar. Because I just found out coffee is bad for me, post baby, and I'm still learning to cope. Not well, but we'll get there. 

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you I'm going to Sacramento this weekend with my best friend to see Beth Moore! (And we get to sleep in a hotel! Wooo! #allyoumomsknowhowawesomethatis

If we were on a coffee date, this trip is way over due. I feel like a dry cracked well whose mouth is wide open and begging for rain. A spiritual watering of sorts. 

If we were on a coffee date, I'd ask if you've ever felt like that. Dry, cracked, thirsty for refreshment?

If we were on a coffee date, I bring up that I read this line from Ruth's blog, was a timely punch in the gut: "Maybe the thought of being a dead or "almost dead" tree is too embarrassing, so we've learned subtle ways to staple fresh fruit to lifeless limbs.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd probably quickly assess how close of friends we are and then spill my guts regardless of what I decided. I'd tell you I feel like a lifeless limb with stapled fruit. 

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you how. And why. And pray that you didn't judge me. And hope that you have experienced brokenness too. Like me. 

Image found via | Edited by JM

Monday, June 2, 2014

Which Step Would You Take?

When the rubber meets the road, for a woman striving for wholeness, 
there comes a point when she is presented with the option to step forward or step away.

It's a risky step. The chances of making the wrong decision are 50%.

Stepping away means she would be free from delegations, duties, and desires of others.
Stepping away means she might bravely reject the imposed requests of her.
Stepping away, in the opposite direction of her pre-coursed season would mean breaking the tide.

This can be good. This can be bad.

Stepping forward means she would be accepting the delegations, duties, and desires of others.
Stepping forward means she might bravely take responsibility for what she's been given.
Stepping forward, in the imposed direction of her pre-coursed season would mean keeping peace, unity.

This can be good. This can be bad.

So how can she know which step to take? Is there a road map, 
filled with the consequences of each decision, for sound judgement?

No. But there is wisdom. An abundance of wisdom from the One who has laid her course for her.

"For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
and watching over the way of his saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice
and equity, every good path;
for wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
discretion will watch over you,
understanding will guard you."
Proverbs 2:6-11

photo source / edited by jmorlet
^^^Opinions, two-cents, questions and ramblings are welcome. And go above. Go ahead. Try it.

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