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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