The Pregnancy Chronicles: The Agony of Waiting

Part V

In today’s society, waiting becomes such a minute idea. With fast food, Amazon Prime, Walmart Grocery Pickup and many other convenient things, we now can almost eliminate the waiting factor. Patience is almost a foreign concept, especially in the US. We like to get what we want, when we want it. But what happens when we come across a situation in life where we are forced to be patient? I don’t know about you but embarrassingly, I often feel like kicking and screaming, being grumpy and having a hissy fit because I’m not getting what I want fast enough.

Patience, I have realized is a HUGE learning experience when it comes to pregnancy. I have learned that I have absolutely NO CONTROL over anything in pregnancy and it’s just so incredibly frustrating at times. All of pregnancy is a waiting game. You wait until you conceive (God willing), then once you find out you’re pregnant, you wait until your first ultrasound to see and hear that little heartbeat (hopefully it is beating), you then wait until 20 weeks to find out if baby is healthy (of which, you still have no control over) and the gender and then you finally wait until baby’s big debut, of which, you only have a due date estimate to go on. It’s just one big, huge, fat waiting game!

These last few weeks of pregnancy have been the most difficult for me in being patient. I have to admit, I’m failing at waiting and patience. I’m 39 weeks today and I feel like the last two weeks have gone painfully slow. After having several friends deliver at 37 weeks, I’ve been on high alert expecting our little guy to make his grand debut any day. Any ache, pain or discomfort I’ve felt have had me wondering if those were the beginning signs of labor. Still nothing. Every day I wake up with no labor pains is another day that I just want to sit on my bed and cry (remember that hissy fit I was talking about?! This is exactly when I’d like to have it) because I feel like I’m never gonna meet our little boy. Though I will surely meet him within two weeks or so, to me, it seems impossible that I could even go one day more without seeing his little face. Patience has been such a foreign concept to me lately. Though I’ve desired all through my pregnancy to let my body go into labor on my own and to labor with as little intervention as possible, the further along I get, the more willing I am to talk myself into getting induced and scheduling a date that I will get to meet him. Where’s the patience in waiting?

The Bible teaches us that we are to be steadfast in waiting. God never promises that everything will happen exactly how we want it to and when we want it to. News Flash: We are NOT GOD!! There are so many verses in the Bible that talk about the importance of waiting but I have noted just a few that speak to my heart currently.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” -Proverbs 27:14

 “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient…Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.” James 5: 7-8, 11

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” Colossians 3:12

“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:25

In church, we have been studying through James and last week we landed in James 5: 1-12. In the first half of this chapter, James writes about how we should be patient in the coming of the Lord and preparing ourselves for not the self-indulgence of this world but for the treasures of eternity. Though I know waiting for a baby isn’t quite the same thing, it’s also been convicting in that we reap exactly what we sow. Just as farmers plant their crops and have to wait to cash in on their hard work, so I must also learn to wait on this perfect little human God is designing and forming for Zach and I. Our little man will come exactly when God thinks it’s best. Right now, he’s still growing and developing and every minute he’s in my womb is another minute that he gets to develop a little more. I must learn to remain patient. I am so close. I will have a little boy in my arms before Christmas! God is working and knows exactly when his birthday will be. Patience. All the hard work my body has done these last nine months will soon pay off with a perfect little boy, designed specifically for Zach and I to parent, thanks to God! It will just be in His perfect timing! Patience.

Now I ask you, are you struggling in waiting? Take time to pray and ask God what He can be teaching you through this time of waiting.

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Thanksgiving Day at Cracker Barrel

Dear Younger Me…

If you could write a letter to your former self, what would it say? Would it be things you wish you didn’t do or things you wish you did do?

Some of you may recognize the title “Dear Younger Me” as a Christian song by MercyMe. I’ve heard that song over and over and  I hadn’t ever really thought about what it would look like if I had written a song or a letter to my younger self. However, I can definitely say I’ve learned and grown exponentially more in my upper 20’s then I have in the rest of my life. I definitely do wish I could have replaced the Maren I was back in college with the Maren I am now. Luckily, I’m so thankful for God’s grace and His ability to show me that He can refine me no matter how many times I make a fool of myself. This letter is proof that God can use every single one of us, amidst the filthiness and muck of our sins and use it for His glory. So, at 28 years old, here’s my letter to my younger self of what I’ve learned thus far.

Dearest Maren,

As I look back throughout my 28 years on this Earth, I’m reminded of all the big life lessons I have been blessed enough to learn. I think the majority of who I’ve become today has been mostly due to the faithfulness of Jesus and His desire to never let me go. As I look back at my high school and college careers, I’m almost embarrassed to remember the Maren I used to be. I just wish I could take the Maren that thought she had it all figured out, give her a couple good shakes, sit her down and explain that God’s

Senior Picture 1
Senior Pictures 2008

plans for her life are immeasurably more important and fulfilling than any desire this world could ever provide. I’ve made a list of some of the most important things I’ve learned throughout the trials that Jesus graciously gave me to bring me closer to Him.

Love Others, in ALL Circumstances// It’s always easier to love someone that is similar to you or has the same beliefs as you. Even though you had friends that did not have your same beliefs, you found yourself conforming to their lifestyles to fit in but when those newfound lifestyles started to clash with values you knew you couldn’t give up, it became easy to call them out on their flaws, get in disagreements and allow those differences to sever your relationships. The love you intended to have for them turned to prideful judgement and caused a friendship to go down in flames. 1 John 4:7 says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God” and John 15:12-13 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” These verses show that as believers and people who love Jesus, we are to love others (despite who they are and what they believe) for that love comes from Jesus. God’s love pours over into us so that those that don’t know Him may see Him through us. So, Maren, instead of convicting others for their differences, let’s love them and show them what it truly looks like to love Jesus.

Your Identity is Found in Christ ALONE// Finding and keeping good quality friends in high school and college were always a struggle for you. Often times, you’d introduce two of your friends to each other and then before you knew it, they were better friends with each other than they were with you and you would eventually become exiled from the group. Often times, your worth was measured through the amount of friends that you had and the amount of get-together’s you were invited to. One time in college, a friendship was severed due to miscommunications and differences in belief that left you broken and shattered. You thought your lack of friends meant that your worth had disintegrated right in front of you. How misled you were. You found your identity in your friendships and what others thought of you and instead, should have seen how worthy you were in God’s eyes. Things of this world, whether friendships or materialistic things, are fleeting and will never provide satisfaction, despite how much we think they will. The only thing we can anchor our hope and our identity in is God. He is the firm foundation when everything else is sinking sand. Colossians 3:3 says, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” and Galatians 3:26 says, “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” If our identity is found in things of this world, we will consistently find ourselves empty and worthless, but Maren, you are so worthy in God’s eyes, despite what friends may think or say. Remember to find your identity in Christ and not of anything else!

High school Graduation
High School Graduation      May 30, 2008

Emotions Lie// You grew up with a family that has struggled with depression and wore their hearts on their sleeves. You grew up thinking that your emotions were not meant to be controlled but expressed. You learned to let your emotions carry away your logic and trusted that they must be true if you were feeling them. You trusted entirely too much on what your emotions were telling you. Unfortunately, emotions lie. And despite this is one of the most difficult struggles to navigate, even today, don’t forget to believe biblical truth. God’s truth will never lead you astray. Even when your emotions want to listen to the devil’s attempts to pull you away from God, don’t give in. His truths will NEVER let you down.

Trust in God’s Plans, Not Yours// You’ve always been a planner. You like to have your life planned months in advance. You planned on getting married young, you planned on buying a house, planned on having a successful career and planned on having two children by the time you were 30. You even planned on having these plans work out the way you wanted them to. By God’s grace, most of the plans above actually came true, except for a few. After realizing that a job in the Animal Science industry doesn’t bring happiness and after spending over a year trying to get pregnant and not having success, it became apparent that your plans are NOT God’s plans. No matter how hard you tried to make them turn out the way you wanted, they somehow never satisfied your expectations. Even though the plans we have in our heads sound marvelous and well thought out, God’s already five steps ahead of you with an even better plan. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Unfortunately, I’ve had to learn this the hard way but once I have complied and learned to desire His will and plans for my life, it’s provided so much peace and freedom. God’s got this! He’s got your best interest in mind!

Give God ALL the Glory// The most important lesson I’ve learned so far is that God deserves all the glory. I remember always asking myself “what is your purpose in life?” So many young people try to navigate through their lives trying to determine what that very purpose is. Is it to be a doctor, a teacher, a nurse, a mom…? I’ve come to realize that we focus so much entirely on worldly success that we forget what the number one purpose is for why God put us on this planet. That very answer is found in the place we tend to skip over…the Bible. Matthew 28:18-20 says, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Our very purpose is to go out and make disciples of ALL nations. Our ONLY PURPOSE given by God is to make disciples and to give God ALL the glory in all we do. After all, He’s the only one that has authority over the Heavens and the Earth and deserves all of our praise. He loved us so much that He sent his ONLY son to die for us. The least we can do is give Him the glory in all we do and live our lives for His sake! So, Maren, don’t find your purpose in empty worldly things but instead, find your purpose in the eternal. After all, eternity is much longer than our time on this earth.

I hope you take these lessons of mine to heart and choose Jesus above all else. He is our firm foundation and if He is for us, what could be against us?! I sure wish I had known these things 10-15 years ago because I would have been saved from a bunch of wasted time and heartache. Always remember, though, that Jesus takes broken things (all of us) and does miraculous things with them. His purpose for you is so much better than the purpose you ever had for yourself! Run to Him and live for him!

Much love to you,
Future (2018) Maren

 

 

 

Does the Grief and Pain Ever Go Away?

It’s been 7 months. 7 months since we lost our first little babe. It feels like it’s been a lifetime since the miscarriage happened but at the same time it feels like it was just yesterday. So much has been jam packed into 2018 that I forget to stop and think about all that we have been through as a couple since January. So much molding and growing in such a short time. It’s almost as if we’ve packed two years of life into a short half year’s time. God sure knows how to force us to grow and lean into Him!

Now, 7 months later, joy fills my heart as I feel my precious little gift from God move about freely in my womb. I can’t even begin to describe the love I have for this little boy and most importantly, I’m just so thankful that God chose Zach and I to be this little guy’s parents! I can’t wait to see what he looks like, how he smells, what his personality will be like, what mannerisms he will acquire and most importantly, how his love for God will develop (God willing). It’s easy to replace the pain and grief I had experienced for several months with the excitement and joy I’m now experiencing with this pregnancy, however, that grief and pain somehow find ways to creep back into my life at random times.

I remember when we first experienced the loss, I sobbed and sobbed for weeks on end. Waking up each morning felt like I had awoken after having the perfect dream and realizing that my life was far from perfect. I couldn’t fight back the tears. The pain was always the worst in the morning. However, after a good, solid three weeks or so, the pain started to lessen, or at least become manageable. It had lessened enough that I could at least function at work, attend events and spend time with friends without it consuming all of my thoughts. And when I found out I was pregnant in April, the pain was almost completely shielded by the joy and excitement I had with this new pregnancy! Almost. To be honest, the majority of my pregnancy, I haven’t struggled with the grief too much. I’ve mostly been so focused on growing this little human that I’ve almost forgotten about our first little person that left us much too early. It almost makes me feel guilty when I think about it like that. How could I forget such a special little soul that God had designed just for us? The only reassurance I have about it is that our little babe is now rejoicing with God in Heaven! Our little babe is in the arms of our perfect Father.

Over the last several months I’ve learned that my pain and grief resurfaces the most when I experience loss and grief through the eyes of others. Going through a miscarriage has definitely allowed me to be more compassionate towards others who have experienced infertility or loss. This year, I’ve known a couple who lost their baby due to some developmental complications and I’ve also known a woman who has, year after year, yearned for a child of her own, only to still be empty handed. As these people shared their experiences with me, while fighting back tears, it brought so many feelings, that I thought were long gone, back to the surface. I’m reminded that my pain and grief hasn’t disappeared yet and I’ve only just cracked the surface on healing. They are not long gone like I had thought but are still a very present struggle in my life.

I once, a couple years ago, prayed that God would soften my heart and allow me to become more compassionate toward others. I never thought that God would change my heart in such a drastic way but by golly, that’s exactly what He’s done! I believe that God has taught me to become compassionate to those experiencing loss and infertility. The verse, Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” has become my template in walking through life with people who have experienced, are experiencing or will experience the pain of infertility and loss.

So, to define this blog post’s title, does the pain and grief of loss or waiting ever go away? No, I don’t think it does. However, I think God will continue to heal me and lessen the pain so that I can use it as a way for me to make a difference in someone else’s life. Even though my grief and pain are still very present, I think that I can use them as a means to walking through life with others who’ve suffered similarly to me. I think that it gives me an opportunity to point those who are in pain and struggling to see God’s goodness and faithfulness to Him and to share the fullness I’ve experienced in Him through all of this. After all, as Christ followers, we are not promised a trial-free life but through those trials, we can be made right with God and end up on top of it all stronger than we were before! If I can use this pain I’ve experienced as a way to glorify God, then as much as it hurts, it’s all worth it for Him!

 

What Is Your Soul Thirsty For?

Happy Tuesday, my friends! Today, I bring you a guest post from my friend, Kira Ouellette. Kira and I worked together in Kansas City and we soon bonded over our love for the Lord and desire to seek Him in the midst of marriage and parenthood. She currently resides in rural Kansas with her husband and two year old and is passionate about studying scripture. She was reminded the other day that our souls should be thirsting on more than just day-to-day duties but on God Himself. Great perspective!
//Kira and Vincent
What are some of those things in life that just feel amazing?  You know, the flip-side of your pillow or a sit in a hot tub while snowflakes come tumbling down on your eyelashes…  I realized one of these things today that I will indulge in more frequently now that I’ve found it!

Today’s thought comes to you from my work out cool down.  Today is July 9, 2018.  Temperature is 97 with a heat index of 105.  I get my run in for the day during my daughter’s afternoon nap AKA ~2pm. It’s the hottest part of the day but that’s my opportunity and a mommy has to do what a mommy has to do – right?  At the end of my workout my fingers are pulsing and almost throbbing while I swing my arms walking, working to cool down and lower my heart rate.  No, this is not one of those amazing feelings I was asking about earlier, but it’s a prerequisite.

After my ‘cool down’, if you can call it a ‘cool down’ while it’s still 105 degrees outside, I go inside and go straight to the kitchen sink.  I know that my time is running away and soon my 2-year-old will be up from her nap and my time to myself will be gone.  I need to get to work on my secretary stuff today but I’m drenched in sweat and even my hands are sopping.  I need to get at least my hands clean so I can return to working on other things, so I turn on the cold water.  WOW! That feeling of the cold water rushing over my sweaty hands was completely amazing! I couldn’t help myself. I stood there several minutes in the cold water thinking of how much relief it was bringing.  Something so simple was more satisfying than my morning cup of coffee.  It was a cool relief after my 40 minute work-out in the sweltering heat.

I got to thinking today about how just as my hands and body need that refreshing moment to cool down, my soul needs refreshing daily as well.  I stay home with my little, take care of a garden, look over the animals, secretary for a Christian Rodeo organization, try to keep the house clean and meals on the table etc. Moms (and wives) do this on a daily basis.  We have our hands so full that we run ourselves ragged nearly every day.

I need daily time with the Lord to renew my strength and to renew my soul.  The days I go without time in my Bible spent with Jesus, I find myself wearing out easier, having a shorter fuse, and being much more selfish.  Rather than fruit, my life is producing weeds.  I’m not able to filter my to-do list and everything seems equally important.

Without my focus being on the Lord, I can’t function well in my day.  The Lord is my strength and my cornerstone.  When I rely on him, I find that I can be more patient and I can see windows of opportunity that the Lord provides.  I do believe that with a Godly focus, I can filter my to-do list and realize what is important and what can wait.  God is so good, he is my rock.  Nothing else in this world is as stable as my Lord.  I need time with him daily just to function in what the day brings.

Lamentations 3:22-24 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  24 “The Lord is my portion, “says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

God’s mercies are new every morning and it’s something I need daily! I can’t expect to do well being a mom and wife with an impact if I don’t let the Lord impact me first and foremost.

Food for thought: What is your soul thirsty for today? What are you trying to fill your soul with that isn’t actually filling you up? God’s mercies are new every morning and He’s always there waiting for you to come and drink.

The Pregnancy Chronicles: First Trimester

Part I

So, since I’m a soon-to-be mom and this pregnancy journey is all new to me (and super exciting), I figured I’d start a pregnancy series highlighting some of the exciting, challenging and surprising things I’ve experienced throughout my pregnancy…and maybe a few bump pictures, also! Because, if you haven’t guessed, I’m enjoying being on this journey! It’s something I’ve prayed for for so long and I’m so thankful I’m getting to experience it now!

Today, I begin the first in the series detailing my first trimester! As I look back, my first trimester flew by, however, while I was in it, it felt like an eternity of waiting. I prayed that the Lord would provide me peace about this pregnancy and honestly, I believe he granted that to me. I had a sense that this baby is healthy and that I will get to meet them come December. That peace definitely got me through the first trimester jitters, for sure! Below, I wanted to share some things I experienced in my first trimester.

Symptoms:
Food Aversions// For the foodie that I am, food aversions were no joke! I’ve never had an issue with eating food…until I was pregnant! I’d have days where a juicy hamburger sounded good, until I got three bites in and then suddenly, I was full and no longer craving a burger. Often times, I just wasn’t super hungry. Towards the end of the first trimester, Zach kept telling me, “Maren, you need to start eating something.” Luckily, sometime into the second trimester, I’ve finally regained that foodie mentality!
Aches & Pains// This was probably my worst symptom of the first trimester! I can’t tell you how many weird aches and pains I experienced on a daily basis. Lower back pains, aches in my hips, tightness in my abs, as if I had worked out (but hadn’t at all) and cramps. There were nights I’d just take a hot shower and then grab my best friend, the heating pad, and go to bed. It became a way of life for me.
Nausea// A friend told me early on that if I started to feel nauseous, I should eat something! Bagels, Cheerios and Saltines became my best friends throughout the day. Once I experienced that queasy feeling, I ate a snack and I was back to normal!
Exhaustion// Holy time for sleep, Batman!! I’ve always needed 8 hours of sleep, but man, oh man, once 4:30pm hit, I was EXHAUSTED! I could have slept 8+ hours every day! Often times, I wouldn’t make it past 7:30 before I was passed out. There were nights I had to have Zach drive us home if it was after 7:30pm because if not, I was at risk of falling asleep!

Despite these symptoms, it made it all worth it when we saw our little babe at 7 weeks! Because of our previous miscarriage, we had the blessing of being able to have an ultrasound early on and get seen by my doctor frequently. I cried like a baby when I saw that little heartbeat on the ultrasound. What a miracle! Jesus performs miracles everyday, especially when it comes to the blessing of life and this definitely has been a miracle!

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This is the moment I fell even more in love with our little squirt! Note: This is NOT twins. The baby is on the left and the yolk sac is on the right.
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My first sign of a baby bump at 10 weeks
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Taking a bump picture together has always been Laura’s desire…well, here’s our first one! 10 weeks and 26 weeks!

 

God’s Plans are ALWAYS Better!

Hi friends! I’m so sorry I’ve gone incognito. 2018 has been such a whirlwind and since the last time I posted, so much has happened that I haven’t been able to focus on anything else. So, today, I return to update you with what has been going on in my life since I last posted. As I began this post, I decided to title it, “God’s Plans are ALWAYS Better” because His plans are immensely better than anything I could have thought up or planned out myself. I’ve learned that first hand over the last couple of months how God can take terrible situations and use them in ways that have drawn me nearer to Him than ever before! You can read these posts about my miscarriage Here and Here.
Since then, God has been showing me how he can not only take a terrible situation and use it for His glory but also that His plans are way better than my own.

I especially learned this lesson at the end of March and beginning of April! It was a Wednesday night; just a few nights before my 28th birthday! Zach and I were laying in bed reading our Bibles and all of a sudden I feel him place his hand on my abdomen. I looked over at him, slightly astonished at what he was doing because this isn’t something he does on a normal basis. I asked him, “What are you doing?” No response. Then, I asked him again, “Zach, what are you doing? Are you praying for my womb?” No response. As silence went on for a few seconds, I began to think about how I had felt pinching and weird sensations in my uterine area for a couple of days prior but I brushed it off and disregarded it because I just assumed I was wishfully thinking. However, after a few moments of silence, I said, “Come to think of it, my uterus has been feeling weird the last couple of days…” and Zach said, “That’s because you’re pregnant.” Surprised, and reluctantly excited, I said, “How do you know that?” and Zach answered, “I just have a feeling.” Now, Zach is very sensitive to the Holy Spirit and so when things are revealed to him, his feelings are usually always right. He knew my friend, Laura, was pregnant before she even knew, he knew my friend, Christie, was pregnant before she shared the news with me, he had a feeling I was pregnant the week before I took my positive pregnancy test in January and he had a feeling that my friend, Kira, was pregnant before she even found out! So, since I knew about this gift of his and his track record, I just knew that I was pregnant, also! However, my period wasn’t expected for another few days, so I forcefully made myself wait until the following Monday before I would test. I woke up on and off that whole night and would make myself go back to sleep until I finally reached 3:30am on Monday morning! I peed on that stick and sure enough, that ClearBlue digital pregnancy test said, “Pregnant.” Immediately, a sigh of relief and joy came over me! God had blessed us again with a little miracle, this time, our rainbow baby, and only my second cycle after my miscarriage! After trying for our first pregnancy for over a year, I was hopeful that we might get pregnant quicker the next time, however, I told myself that it would probably take six months or so, and I would have been thankful for that! But just two months later?! This was unbelievable! God’s plans really ARE BETTER!

Mark 10:27 “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man, it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.'”
1 Samuel 1:27 “For this child, I have prayed.”
Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

I’ve always been that person to say, “God’s plans are better.” But deep down, I’m not sure that I truly believed it. I don’t think I began to believe it until after our miscarriage. I listened to a Chuck Swindoll sermon about letting go of my plans and letting God take over. I told myself that in His timing, God’s plans would make sense, regardless if he blessed us with a child or not, and that if I’m truly desiring God’s plans over my own, then it wouldn’t matter if we had a baby or not but that following His will would be immensely better than any worldly desires I may have (including a baby).

Now, here I am, about to transition into the second trimester, feeling so thankful for God’s blessings! Some days, I still can’t believe that God chose to bless us with a little miracle and counted us worthy to experience this long trial that was infertility and loss. I’ve felt closer to God within these last five months than I ever have before and I definitely think it’s because I’m learning to trust His plans over my own, especially with this little life! And ever since I’ve started to have that mindset and truly believe that God’s plans are better, I can’t even begin to tell you the freedom and happiness I’ve experienced! Even now, God has blessed us with a little baby and I can stand firmly and say that HIS PLANS ARE BETTER! Put your trust in Him, my friends, even when it’s hard to let go of your worldly desires. I was there, too. I didn’t want to let go of the desire to be a mother and I wasn’t sure that I could be okay without having a child of my own, but now I’m learning that no matter what, God loves us more than we could ever imagine and He has our best interest in mind. Even if that includes infertility, miscarriage, or a different trial. Just trust in Him and trust that HIS PLANS ARE ALWAYS BETTER!

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So This Is 28

Happy Friday, friends! Today I have two things to celebrate, both of which are bittersweet: (1) Good Friday (2) My Birthday

(1) Good Friday: Today is the day we remember Jesus’ crucifixion and death. While on one hand it’s sad to think that Jesus gave up His innocent life for our own wretched, sinful lives, but on the other hand, it’s also a reason to celebrate because without Him and His resurrection (Easter Sunday), I would be without hope and dead in my sins, doomed for Hell. How could I not be looking at this day as a ‘Good Friday’ and a reason to celebrate?!

(2) Today is my birthday! My 28th birthday, in fact. Ever since my 26th birthday, I’ve found it harder and harder to believe just how close I really am to the Big 3-0! So, in that regard, it is a little bittersweet! I used to think that 30 was so old, but as I ever so steadily creep closer to that milestone, I’m starting to think that 30 really isn’t that old (or is that thinking just relative to my current age?).

But, as I celebrate the fact that God has given me 28 years on this planet, I can’t help but reflect and wonder if I’ve lived these 28 years the way God intended for me to. I started thinking about this on Sunday when one of our church elders, Todd Van Voorst preached on how, we, as Christians, should be taking up our crosses and dying to ourselves DAILY so that we can live for Christ. He used the example that it is better for us to attend a funeral versus a festival. This means that it would be better for our lives to attend our own funeral and be reminded that when we die to ourselves in this life (I.e. our funeral) we are alive in Christ for an eternity (festival).

So, that got me to thinking. What does my funeral look like? Would it be a God glorifying funeral? Did I live my life everyday for Christ? Did I make a positive impact on His kingdom? This thought has started to convict me and show me areas in my life I need to change so that I can be dying to myself daily and living for Christ with all my being. I want to smell like God. I want to stick out in this world. I want to be different. I’m no ordinary person. I’m a child of God! Is my life radiating Jesus to those that don’t know Him? Am I loving people the way Christ intended? Am I using my spare time to pray and spend time with God? Am I sharing what Jesus has done in my life with others so that they too can know Him?

As I celebrate my birthday, I’m thanking God for the blessing of my health, husband, job, friends, family and most importantly, another day on this earth that I can use to glorify Him! So, as I celebrate this birthday of mine with a day off of work (Yesss!), time with one of my closest girlfriends (shopping time!) and time with family, I will push forward in an attempt to live my life for the sake of Christ like I never have before!

How are you dying to yourself and living for Christ? Are you passionately loving others as God intended? What has he convicted you of lately? Let’s press onward together and share His glory with others! Below, enjoy some birthday fun!

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This was our first Halo Top ice cream experience! Thanks, Laura! xoxo
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My work crew give the best birthday sweets! Cookie cake (and lots of other things), yummm!

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Hubby took me for DQ Ice Cream Cake!
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Shopping with one of my closest friends, Jen.
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It was always a dream of mine to get a little puppy with a red bow around his neck for my birthday. My husband got this little prince, Jethro, for my birthday this year! What an adorable present he was!

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