Share Your Story

There is empowering freedom that comes from authenticity.

This age of social media has us isolated. We have never been so connected and yet so lonely. In a world of perfect Pinterest pins and only the most beautiful moments shared on Instagram, it is easy to start comparing your life to others and think you are alone in your daily struggles of the mundane chaos.

But, I have been reminded quite a few times recently that when you open up about real life, others are willing to share their stories with you.

They aren’t just willing to share. They want to share; they need to share; they need someone to understand, to listen.

I know full well it is not easy to open up to people. It has taken me years to overcome my natural instinct of suppressing thoughts and feelings, emotions and struggles. I continue to fight that battle daily.

But we are not meant to struggle alone. And as hard as it may be, we need to be vulnerable in community. Vulnerability breeds authentic relationship. May you be encouraged to know you do not have to fight alone. You do not have to suffer alone. Your struggles, stories, sorrows can breathe encouragement, strength, refreshment into another. And when you allow yourself to open up to someone else, that person in turn can encourage, strengthen, refresh your soul as well.

Your story needs to be told.

Your story matters.

You matter.

And you aren’t alone.

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Why it’s ok to be alone on Valentine’s Day

My husband and I are in separate beds tonight.

Don’t worry. It’s probably not what you think.

He is leading a trip to Quebec with some of his students. International borders separate us on this Valentine’s Day. And that’s ok.

Don’t get me wrong, of course I miss him. But not because of the day it is, but because of the man he is.

 

While Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are quickly filling up with sweet, romantic gestures, I have had to remind myself that what happens, or doesn’t happen, on this day does not define me.

This day doesn’t define how loved you are.

Your value is not measured by the flowers you get, fancy dinner you eat, or sweet cards you receive.

 

If you went through today without an instagrammable moment, it is more than ok; you are not alone!  (If you happened to have beautiful moments captured on your iPhone…that’s wonderful!  Continue to share them and let people celebrate the lovely times with you!  But the rest of us that didn’t might need a little reminder that we aren’t the only ones.)

My day consisted of:
-sending my husband off to the airport at 1:00 am
-being awake with a little girl who didn’t want to sleep from 2:30 to 4:00 this morning
-a drive to Nashville with a crying baby and overly excited dog to stay with my parents while Spencer is away
-wearing sweats all day and having spit up on me for the majority of it
-chasing the dogs down the street in the rain after they got out of the fence
-spending a few minutes here and there trying to help unpack boxes (my parents moved last weekend)
-being alone with Katherine and 3 dogs while everyone works tonight
-a dog peeing on the couch beside me
-a dinner of an apple, Special K bar, and some thin mints (because I couldn’t put a certain fussy little girl down long enough to make something)
-and ending the day sleeping alone on a futon

I’m not complaining. Just being honest, being real. Not so romantic, eh? Social media has a way of isolating people by its masquerade. It has a way of making you feel like you’re not good enough, like you’re missing out, or like you must be doing something wrong.

 

But it is not what happens on this one, certain, overly commercialized day, it’s what happens on the ordinary days that matter.

It’s what happens in the ordinary that lasts, thats truly significant.  

Because it’s on those days when things aren’t going perfectly and you receive an encouraging word from a friend that makes all the difference.  It’s on those days when you feel overwhelmed by the laundry, meals to cook, and house to clean and the Lord speaks His truth through the Scriptures directly to your tired heart that lets you know that you are enough.  It’s on those days that you feel like you are looking like a hot mess and your husband comes home from work and tells you that you’re beautiful and your heart melts and tears form in your eyes and you know you are treasured and loved.

It’s the little acts of kindness, the simple encouraging word, the pieces of Daily Bread you take in, the lovely smiles and sweet hugs, the tender moments found amongst the chaos of mundane routine that are scattered throughout the year that add up to so very much.

 

So, if you feel tempted to go to bed discouraged, sad, or forgotten, dwell on those slices of sweet love given to you throughout the year, on the ordinary days. Dive into the Word and be reminded of where your identity truly lies. Be encouraged and uplifted by the love shown to you throughout the year from your family and friends and God.

And just know that you are loved.  You are valued.  You are enough.

February 5th

February 5th will forever be a celebration of life for me.

 

It was on this day last year that we found out there was a life growing inside of me.

And it was on this day six years ago that God spared the lives of my best friends when an EF-4 tornado ripped through their dorm rooms.

 

When I told Spencer on the evening of February 5th that we were pregnant, I couldn’t speak before I started bawling.  (Not tears of joy I might add.)

When that awful tornado came through Union, it left behind complete devastation and destruction.

 

But in times of dark uncertainty, God provides hope.  He provides His Word.  He even provides miracles.

In the times when chaos encircles us, God allows us to rest in His unchanging character and in the love of the Church community.

 

The theme of my life has always been that God is good and faithful.

And He is always good and faithful.

In every circumstance.  Expected and unexpected.

No matter what happens between sunrise and sunset or between sunset and sunrise.

He is good.  He is faithful.

And He is God.

 

If Katherine wasn’t healthy, and if the students and staff at Union University weren’t protected He would still be good and faithful.

But K is healthy.  And every life on that campus was spared.  Miracles?  Indeed.

 

Was there any reason to think K might not have been healthy?  No.  But after experiencing pregnancy and childbirth, there is no doubt in my mind that every child is simply a miracle.

Was there any reason to think that there were lifeless bodies among the rubble after an EF-4 tornado stormed through Union’s campus?  Absolutely.  But God had His hands around each person there.

 

I fully know that God gives and He takes away.  He doesn’t always spare lives.  There are times to rejoice and times to mourn.  But in everything we are called to give thanks.  And in everything we can rest in the truth that God is good and faithful.

 

So today, I choose to celebrate life.

I choose to celebrate the brightest of mornings that comes after the darkest of nights.

 

February 5th will forever be a reminder to hold my little one a little closer, kiss my husband a few times more, say “I love you” every time I think it, and fully trust in my good God.

 

 

 

(You can read the first hand stories from the February 5th tornado in Tim Ellsworth’s book God in the Whirlwindhttp://www.amazon.com/God-Whirlwind-Stories-Tornado-University-ebook/dp/B004OA6LT6/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top or watch more about that night on youtube with videos like this:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3O-IiHCrsK8)