Friday, July 11, 2014

sweet home alabama

we've been in alabama for over a month. perhaps you can tell by these instagram pics, it kinda already feels like home. on the other hand, we're all feeling a little displaced and trying to get our footing here. hope glimmers above the gloom of leaving north dakota comfort, family and routine. days have have been long and sometimes sad, but also brimming with excitement and fun over new discoveries as we attempt to lay down our roots. it's difficult though, to lay roots in one place when you feel like they're still planted elsewhere. we're adjusting. and it's more fun than it sounds maybe? i've grown accustomed to making adjustments, and that doesn't at all mean i love the process, like i love pizza or the beach. but i love it still. stretching with my family, learning more to trust god and not myself is always good. amen.

our laptop has been a real fickle piece of work. it's working tonight, so i'm checking in. to say i'm still here, and that i probably have a lot to say. as my technology allows, of course. 
in a few weeks, elijah begins kindergarten. and that, my friends, is a whole 'nother adjustment. i'm already weeping and we haven't even bought school supplies yet. how is he old enough for all day kinder. how? anyway, that time away will breed lots of blogging and shop time, i hope. i'm hungry for connecting here again and sharing some work that's been happening in me. plenty of shaking up in my heart and soul, much like our big move across the country!

anyway. hello, happy weekend! XO

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

book giveaway - christ in the chaos

giveaway closed
one month from now our family will be on the road, heading toward our new adventure. in the midst of all the crazy that comes with preparing to move across country, i'm trying to seek peace and rest in the lord. sadly, i'm not doing a very good job. so grateful for grace and new mercies daily. i'm so encouraged though, because the best thing i did last week was make time to read this little book:

stop comparing yourself to others.
stop striving to meet false expectations.
stop thinking your performance dictates your worth.
look to the gospel.
find rest, joy, sufficiency, identity and motivation."

seeing those words on the back cover was freedom. what a humbling reminder! this book was for me.
now, christ in the chaos: how the gospel changes motherhood is not only for mamas. i truly think the liberating, encouraging chapters are for anyone. we all need to be looking to the gospel rather than our own strength and what we can or can't accomplish. the truth kimm crandall so honestly shared refreshed me. she's reminded me that yes, i'll fail. all the time. and i can run to christ and rest in his never ending grace. every. single. time. hallelujah! at the end of the little chapters there are some awesome "getting real" questions to encourage reflection and draw you closer to freedom in christ. i have a renewed desire to look to jesus, in all things, especially the chaos that is my life! 

from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. john 1:16 esv

like i said, things are incredibly chaoitc for us right now, so i get it. you may not think you have time to read a book. make time for this one! it's super short and life-giving. and lucky you, kimm has graciously offered a giveaway for y'all! you can enter to win a copy for yourself!

giveaway closed 
congratulations becca stanley and eryn hall!

several chances to win!
1. mandatory entry, leave a comment on this post
2. social share this giveaway on facebook, instagram, twitter, leave a separate comment for each
3. follow kimm on facebook, twitter (you will love her so much!)

TWO people will win! giveaway open to usa readers and will close sunday, may 4. random winner will be chosen and announced here, as well as contacted via email, so make sure we can reach you!

big thank you to sweet kimm for sharing her book with us!
purchase christ in the chaos for you and your friends here.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

a new road home.

if i labeled my life with a theme, it would be something like "don't get too comfortable". a little annoying, but 100% true and good for my soul. you probably know a little about this way of living, one life-changing circumstance after another. dreams and hope rewritten by the one who promises to lead us all the way. well, as the lord would have it, in 48 days we'll load a moving truck with our worldly possessions and begin an almost 1400 mile journey south, to our new home. 

a version of this new direction has been in the sights since last summer. we've been blessed so crazy good with what we have here in this small town north dakota life. these last few years here, our family has changed so much. we've learned a lot about ourselves, and more about jesus. the gospel has definitely been made very real to us. and we really have grown to love it here in the great white north. but it's time to move on.

details like future schooling and support for elijah, desperately desiring a church home, shorter winters, and job transfer availability led us to research and pray about options for a relocation. after countless hours of internet searches, phone calls, emails and weary prayers, we're feeling propelled to birmingham, alabama. as with any transition, there are pros and cons. and just because you feel completely sent on a new road, doesn't mean you can see the way clearly. does that mean you don't go?

we've been given the gift of knowing a few things for sure, but mostly, this is another lesson in trusting the lord. resting in the promise found in 1 peter 5. we can confidently give him all our questions and worries, denying the pride of knowing it all, and trust him. because he cares for us. in his great power and wisdom, he will care for us better than we could ever work out a single detail on our own. that's freedom!

so. this is a huge part of why i'm absent and absent-minded lately :) i am overwhelmed by the huge-ness of it all. knowing i can trust god with all of this and actually doing that each day is proving to be a battle. i would love your prayers for us! as we continue to follow the lord's lead, making plans, but not jumping ahead of his way. for anyone, moving can be a difficult strain on the mind, body and soul. i'm really seeing that having a child with special needs adds a whole 'nother dimension of jesus, take the wheeli tend to get all "back seat driver" on jesus. like, i can have him drive and lead, no problem! as long as i can shout my directions to him. to help him out, obviously. 

of course, there's plenty more on my heart about all this. such as mixed emotions galore and awesome things god has already shown us about our new home! for today, i just wanted to tell you we're moving. he is with us and ahead of us. praise him!
i'm thankful for supportive friends and family who pray for us and encourage us. i'm excited to continue to share here how the lord is orchestrating the meeting of all our needs. 

i lift up my eyes to the hills. from where does my help come? my help comes from the lord, who made heaven and earth. he will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. behold, he who keeps israel will neither slumber nor sleep. the lord is your keeper; the lord is your shade on your right hand. the sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. the lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. the lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. psalm 121 esv

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

#hopespoken another part (the beautiful one)

oh, the beauty of this event! i don't have decent photos, but the decorations had that dallas hotel looking fine, y'all. tissue poms in pinks, corals, golds and aquas. twinkle lights everywhere. sweet dessert displays, gorgeous chalkboard signs, a fabulous collection of shops in the market...and people. the people at hope spoken were the most beautiful part. speakers, coordinators and attendees all beaming with hope, a touch of nerves and expectancy.

i was able to see my treasured best friends. which requires a post all on its own, which i don't have the emotional stuff to pen, which i kinda have a pass on because someone already wrote exactly what i would want to share
the sweetest meghan newsom took care of the "photo booth" all weekend. what a gift, i love her!

and seeing your kindred spirits is fantastic, but wow! i was so happy to meet new faces, and new kindreds. some i've known and loved online for years, and new friends, too. god is so kind.

here are a few pics i stole from said friends:
this is natalie. she is what a kindred spirit looks like. sadly, i'm finding it rare to meet moms of special needs children who aren't fighting against who their child is. but instead resting in the skillful hands of jesus, who knit our littles exactly as they're meant to be. i really hope to write my heart on this very soon. it was life to my soul to talk, laugh and weep with this strong woman. i dream of a day when we can hang out again, and our kiddos can wrestle and laugh together.
rachel, shannan and wynne. this is a lot of sweetness packed into a tiny picture. these girls are legit. too legit. the scrunchy smile on my face? that's how happy they make me. that's how legit they are. and! we all happen to be adoptive mamas. this was our first time meeting face to face, and it was like we'd always been neighbors. i really miss them. so grateful for our brief time together!
two of the hope spoken angels/hosts, danielle and casey. sweetheart friends and delightful to be around! the best to laugh, cry and eat with. i couldn't have picked better encouragers than they were to me all weekend. they do me so right. 
meeting jami in real life. words cannot describe. perhaps our faces can? i love her with my whole heart.
she led the share group for moms of special needs kids. i didn't even know how much i needed that time. gathering with those precious mamas was so inspiring and encouraging. it's wonderful to be with people who "get" a certain part of your life. and while i'm bringing it up, take some time and read this post jami wrote on ignoring special needs people. and listen to the sermon she links there. do. it.
and my little sister, linnea. it meant so much to me, that she was there! sharing that experience together was a highlight of my life. a really big deal.

of course there were dozens more beautiful friends i was able to connect with, even if i don't have pics, they're in my heart :) meals and conversations shared. beautiful music and corporate worship. it was really too much for me to take in, i think. 
hope spoken was more than a women's conference. it was a gathering where the lord showed up in powerful ways. that may sound cliche, but it's truer than true. it was so clear to me that the lord orchestrated every minute of our schedule for his own glory and our good. he gave casey, danielle and emily their dream, to make this conference happen. he guided them, and he showed up big and mighty and above what i could have hoped for. hallelujah, what a savior!

all the speakers were so wonderful, i wish i could have heard them all. i was honored to speak two sessions. terrified and honored. i think i may share my session here on the blog soon. the way it was in my notes, which is not at all how it came out :) 
i did hear some speakers though, loved them, and i want to share a little i took away from one session:

one speaker in particular, shauna, she spoke to my heart. actually, she spoke my exact heart, for changes the lord has been leading me toward for months! more love, less hustle. more playing and thinking and laughing and being with the lord and my family and friends. less work, especially when work means giving up or rushing through those treasured things in my previous sentence. near the end of this past summer, i felt so wiped out. i wasn't even sure why, and i mostly blamed it on being a special needs mom, or being disorganized, or too busy with important things. except. only some things i was busy with were important things. i was finding that i wasn't resting or enjoying anything for fear of not getting this and that finished, or meeting some sort of deadline...many self-inflicted. so. i began to pray about being set free. from the "busy" from the list making, from the being everything to everyone. slowly and tenderly the lord has been leading me away from "hustle" and into rest. into more love. i've been doing things like not stressing about how clean or neat my house is. even having company when it's not up to my "standards". that, my friends, has been the biggest feat for me. also, i've been learning better how to say "no". shauna so wisely encouraged us to "remember that NO is a complete sentence". this has been difficult for me my entire life. it's like i feel this natural "yes, i can do anything you need!" whenever someone asks me to do something. in case you're not aware, that is an suck-the-life-out-of-you way to live life. i was spreading myself so thinly, i didn't have anything left for my first calling, my family. it's been humbling to let things go, or get passed along to another person. i just love doingallthethings, you know. but i cannot. i cannot do all the things. there's a saying, never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing. for me, that means saying yes to no. i still have so far to go in this more love/less hustle journey, but i am walking this path with the lord's leading. free of guilt and full of rest and sight for what really matters. when she read verses from psalm 16 and mark 8, it was like the lord whispered directly to me. he spoke rest to my heart. he reminded me that he is all i need. he is enough. anything added to him equals nothing. this world encourages us to perform and "do" ourselves to death. jesus says rest. i can stop spinning my frantic wheels in the name of responsibility and be free. free to stop the crazy hustle. and free to love more. for christ's glory, for he is it.

another sweet highlight, small groups! these are my sweeties:
kk, kara, amy, lisa, jillian, ruthie, katie, heather and teressa. it was so fun to meet these ladies and spend time together. walking through the devotional, unpacking the goodness we'd heard in speaker sessions, sharing our hearts. small groups was just one more way the lord gave us abundantly above what we could have asked for. i think every group was perfectly matched with each other. even though i think i had the best group :) my new friends were so patient with me and really blessed me more than i did them, i know! so thankful.

one funny thing, after the conference, after the tearful goodbyes to friends, i was ready to be home. except home was getting a blizzard! bless north dakota's heart. with multiple flight delays turned cancellations, i was exhausted. praise jesus i was traveling with my sister! we made the most of our extra night away from home and enjoyed sister time. nice hotel, great food and a movie at the mall of america. it was perfect. but we sure were happy to get home the next day! even if home was buried in fresh snow.

if you were unable to make it to hope spoken this year, i encourage you to pray about making it a priority for 2015! it's worth it, and i'd sure love to meet you there! xo

Monday, April 07, 2014

#hopespoken part one (the rambling part)

perhaps the true title is "a post about anxiety that threatened to choke a beautiful thing"

it's been just over a week since the conference ended. i'm still grasping for the words, aching to accurately describe to you the sheer beauty packed into the hours of hope spoken. and this is me giving up, because i'm pretty sure there are no words to really tell you how it was. 
i'm hoping to write more than one hope spoken post, so let's start here. with me, and how i felt about all of this. is it self-centered to focus on my feelings? i'm feeling a big push to document the emotional roller coaster i had a weekend pass to, so let's do this...a little behind the scenes look, if you will.

i was so ridiculously anxious about speaking, i was in some sort of twilight zone from wednesday night, until i finished my second speaking session on saturday afternoon. completely selfish of me, and i regret wasting my energy on fear and worry. i kept on claiming god's truth to my heart and he was faithful to bless me in the midst of my anxiety. one gift was arriving two nights before the event began. the first night i was completely alone. i was desperate to gather myself, to feel prepared for sharing my story. every time i sat down to focus, the fog in my ming only thickened. paralyzing my vision, blinding me to hope. i gave into weakness, i gave into those stinging feelings of inadequacy. i cried to the lord for his famous and free grace upon grace upon grace. he covered me securely with it. again and again, because in my weakness i kept leaving his covering and choosing my own sad tent of frail fear. why do i do such things?! 

things cheered up for me when casey and danielle (and caleb, danielle's husband, bless his sweet soul!) knocked on my hotel room door. it was so dang wonderful to see them, hug them, and all be a little nervous together. and eat in n out burgers! what was about to happen? this hope spoken thing, it was swiftly approaching and i think none of us dreamed of how huge it was going to be. now i know, there was no way any of us could prepare our hearts for how the lord began a work through what was to come during that weekend.

even more goodness, my sister flew into town, we saw a darling old friend (hi, courtney!), and i sent them off so i could go help decorate. decorating was therapy. loading and unloading trucks full of colorful treasures, switching table cloths, pinning and taping tissue poms and stuffing attendee goodie bags served to keep me occupied and free from stress. also stress relief, more friends arrived! some precious best ones, and some i'd never met yet in real life. man, things were already getting so good, you know?

exhausted and still fighting fear over speaking the next day, i hustled to get ready for a luncheon. the hope spoken angels aka danielle, casey and emily hosted a beautifully relaxed get together for us speakers. this was such a treat! the texas weather was divine from casey's cozy porch, every bit of food delicious and the company! i loved chatting with my fellow speakers, a few of which i've been wanting to meet for years! icing on this happy cake was the thoughtful gift bags each of us received. so special. i cried again seeing it all as i unpacked here at home! i think i'll share more about those gifts in another post :) after the luncheon, things were about to begin!

during the event registration, i exchanged real life hellos and a few hugs with familiar online darlings. as the women flooded into the cheerfully decorated conference areas, i just grinned so dang hard! what a sight, all these hearts gathered in pursuit and praise of HOPE. hallelujah.

saturday came too soon. with my turn to speak happening in the afternoon, i had plenty of time to enjoy sessions and friends. except i didn't do that very well. once again, i barely kept anxiety from making me completely insane. thankfully, i was able to get it together enough during the speaker sessions ahead of mine. praise the lord for that, and i will share more in my next post!

the point i want to make here is this.
god blesses us, works through us and grows us anyway.
i was a certifiable mess. steadily choosing fear instead of freedom (freedom-exactly what my talk was supposed to be about!). there's a part of me that cries out for a "do over". a chance to speak again. a chance to meet sweet people for the first time again. an opportunity to be my actual self, you know? except.
i was my actual self. a struggling sinner. too proud to just breathe in god's peace and be finished with everything contrary. too selfish to let go of my worries and be fully open-hearted to those i interacted with.
but god. in his rich, ridiculous mercy made it all good. i felt as though i couldn't have done a worse job on my session talks. they were nothing like i planned, delivered in stammering, tearful nervous phrases. but somehow the lord's truth spilled through the cracks of my shaky voice. he's amazing in this way. using what weakness i can offer and making it enough. and exactly what it needs to be for that time.

i can make all the plans and preparation that i want. i can fail to trust jesus and be brought low. the lord will order my thoughts, words and steps. he's the author of this story. he's the one who gets the glory. so i will choose to praise him for my weakness, and that he did mighty things in spite of me.