Tuesday, March 17, 2015

One Mom's Answered Prayer

My mom says that when I was in elementary school, as I transitioned to Wake Christian, she prayed that God would send me some good friends. 
I guess she saw me hanging out with my imaginary friends and talking to my barbies and probably got a little worried. I've always been attracted to words and characters and quiet time, so if it hadn't been for her fervent prayers - I might still live relatively cut off from the world. 

This past Saturday, almost 20 years after my mom's whispered conversations with God, four answers to prayer were gathered around me at a Starbucks table, sipping lattes and sharing hearts, bookending the conversation with prayer, as another answer to prayer was about to have her own little one. 

God answered my mom's prayers and my heart's desires in an amazing way. With seven beautiful, Jesus-loving, kind, creative ladies - who came into my life through elementary, middle, and high school and have been there ever since.

These ladies have taught me more about life, Christ's love and purposes, love, friendship, grace, strength - and the journey to being a wife and mom - than almost anyone. Over the past few years, I've witnessed incredible strength, faith, and grace in each of their lives over different trials, circumstances, and celebrations.
 I truly can't imagine who I would be today without our hundreds (and even thousands) of conversations about Jesus, faith, love, dating, skills and talents, careers, marriage, sex, pregnancy, and motherhood. 

We may not be like the TV friends who are together every day, dropping into each other's homes unannounced and sharing morning coffee or drinks several times a week. 
Life pulls us in different directions. College took us to different states. Jobs keep us busy in different ways. And we all have other friends and close connections. 

But, with each of these ladies, I share a unique chemistry. Our conversations have different personalities. Our connection is one-of-a-kind. Our memories personal. 

And, at the same time, as a group, we are all on the same page. Our friendship can rest quietly for six-months, to ferociously come alive again with a game-night Christmas party or emergency need for prayer. Most nights several of their names are scribbled - with specific prayers or praises - in my journal. And I know that they collectively understand the whole of who I am more than anyone (except D and the fam). 

We don't judge one another. And if we accidentally do, we quickly overcome it with grace and love. We celebrate together. We understand one another's frustrations. We hurt together. Laugh together. Get lost together. Find ourselves together. 

And now...we pray for each other's children - that God might send them some amazing, understanding, Jesus-loving friends too.  

Saturday, March 7, 2015

TEXTbook Marriage.

Here's a little marriage encouragement and advice, through recent Derrick and Renee text messages:

1. I hope and pray you have the privilege of being married to your best friend. Marriage is an awesome ride if you take the time to enjoy the big adventures and the every day moments.

2. One of the biggest keys to a happy, fun partnership is noticing and appreciating each other. My love language is words of affirmation, and I'm blessed with a husband who loves me so well with words. Every day. 

3. Marriage isn't always romantic and steamy and picture perfect.
 Sometimes it's just being frustrated and tired...together. 

4. Sometimes marriage means putting up with 2 a.m. text messages when your wife's away and neither of you can sleep.

5. Just have fun. Communicate. Laugh. Be silly. Be patient with your wife's overuse of emoticons. And eat fast food together in your pajamas. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015


As a "Student Success Coordinator",  I'm constantly defining and redefining what success means to me. And what it means for my students. 

At the basic level, in my position, success means academic support. Making sure students don't fail classes. That they graduate. That they are prepared for a job or graduate school. And that's an important part of my mission. I don't devalue that. 

But, really, to me, that's not success. 

Success is... 

Finding and pursuing your passion. 

Knowing what makes you unique and how to use that to better the world. 

Knowing God and desiring His purpose in each day. 

Finding a friend who makes you stronger, who makes you feel safe. 

Doing your best and working hard - whatever the task may be.

Being happy with who you are. 

Respecting yourself and respecting others. 

Finding a partner in life who is your best friend & favorite person, and loving them well. 

Noticing others, encouraging others, caring about others.

Feeling content and settled, yet inspired and challenged. 

Knowing your weaknesses, accepting them, overcoming them. 

Using words to build others up. 

Appreciating your parents, laughing with your siblings, calling your grandparents. 

Learning when to say yes and when it's okay to say no. 

Having the best job in the entire world...for you. 

Monday, February 23, 2015


I just returned from an amazing couple of days away in Pinehurst. Such a peaceful, beautiful place. And I was very humbled to get to go there through work. 

From the moment I stepped onto the grounds, everyone I met from the resort was very kind. Genuinely kind. They offered smiles. Asked how you were - and listened to hear. And showed enthusiasm for their job - whether it was serving coffee, carrying bags, emptying trash, setting up the sound system, etc. 

As I befriended the bubbly barista (which isn't uncommon for me) and got to know the lady at the front desk with the unusual name, I was reminded how important it is to be genuine. To do your job with joy and purpose. To pause with a smile and care about someone. Both of these ladies made my day a little brighter. 

As the gentlemen in the restaurant offered to make my coffee exactly how I like it (see a theme here) and the lady served us lunch with a smile, I was humbled by their servant's heart. I didn't deserve this treatment. I had done nothing to earn it. Yet, they were happily giving it. 

Another moment caused me to pause over the weekend. While my coworkers and I were greeting guests and helping them check in, one of the businessmen said "Thanks, ladies, I appreciate you."

Hmm...I've often heard people say "I appreciate it." - But how unique and heartwarming that he was looking past what were doing for him - and was noticing who was doing it. 

So, this post isn't about Pinehurst or my great weekend. It's a reminder to live every day with joy and purpose. And take time to appreciate people.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ministry Moments

I often feel guilty for not serving more. For not giving more. For not being more. For not doing more. I am always aware that God has given me far more than I deserve, and I have a responsibility with that which I've been given. I also am aware that I like to be lazy and comfortable and selfish. 

So my prayer is simple. 

I pray that my marriage will be a ministry to others. That I will minister to Derrick through truth, grace, and encouragement. That we will minister to others as partners and that others will see Christ in the way we love one another and do life together. 

I pray that I will speak wisdom, truth, and love to anyone God puts in my path day to day. That I will know when to listen, when to speak, and when to offer a hug. That I won't be too busy with tasks to notice and love on people. That I will be used to show God's love to someone who needs it. 

I pray that our current home and future home will not only be a peaceful haven for Derrick and me, but will also be full of life-changing conversation, side-splitting laughter, words of encouragement. A place where all feel welcome. 

That I will be blessed. Moved. Used. Daily. 

Life isn't always about waiting for the next BIG thing. 
But it is always about being faithful in the next LITTLE thing. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Women: Failure to Fit

So many times I talk myself out of typing my heart and putting it out there - all big and bright and loud and quiet and messy - for everyone to see. But this afternoon I will put it out there. 

So many times, moments, seasons I struggle to feel like I fit. 

I think part of it is being a woman. Now, I am not one to often stand up for the plight of women. I am traditional. And I believe women can now do anything they dream. And that's where some of the conflict comes in.  

In general, men - in the church and in society - work full-time. In construction. In ministry. In the corporate world. 9 to 5 or more. Like it or not, no matter what that looks like, that's the expected path for a man. 

But women...women can work full-time. Women can stay at home with kids. Women can work part time. Women can climb the corporate ladder. Women can homeschool. Women can take years off of work to return when the kids go back to school. 

And I don't know where I fit in that. 

I work a full-time job. And I love it. It's my ministry. It's my community. It's my calling. It's my challenge and my growth. And I would go stir crazy without my job. 

But I don't know if it's my forever career. And I don't know that it's not. I don't have the utter ambition to want to take over the world and fight the glass ceiling. But I find pride in the privilege and power I have in my position. I want to grow and learn and do and make a difference - and I don't know what that looks like long-term. 

Many of my friends, the women I love, and those who surround me in my personal life, have a heart to spend time at home and be amazing moms. To work in more flexible positions and part-time jobs and focus on family. They have time for play dates, boutique shopping, Hobby Lobby trips, and talent for creative crafts that become their income. And sometimes I am jealous of them. 

But I don't know if that's my heart and skill-set either. I like kids - but I'm not ready to give myself up for them...yet. I'm not crafty. And I'd rather stay home or work late than go shopping. 

So I don't know where I fit in that. 

Sometimes I feel like I'm sacrificing time with my family and friends to focus on my career. And I struggle with that. And sometimes I feel like I'm not there enough for my students and my career, because I'm taking time for my family and friends. And I struggle with that. 

I have no idea what the next season of my life will hold. And that's hard. And sometimes it's really hard to connect with other women. The stay-at-home-moms. The corporate ladder-climbers.Those juggling both. 

So, why did I decide to share this? 
Because you might struggle to feel like you fit too.

Maybe you're passionate about your career, but you're struggling to reach the top because of sexism and disrespect. 

Maybe you're a single twenty or thirty something, feeling like there must be something wrong with you, as you attend wedding after wedding and baby shower after baby shower.

Maybe you're a stay-at-home-mom who secretly misses your job outside the home.

Maybe you're a mom who works full time and hates missing time with your kids, but you don't have a choice.

Maybe you're mourning a marriage that died too soon. 

Maybe you're staring at a positive pregnancy test, and you feel guilty that you aren't excited about it.

Maybe you're in your 40s and trying to find love again, in the midst of married friends and bad E-Harmony connections.

Maybe you're been trying to get pregnant for years, hiding the tears as all of your friends announce their pregnancies.

As hard as it is to be at peace with, God has you in this season, in this place, in this position for a purpose. Your life - today, as is - is your ministry. Your moment. Your mission. Your situation is unique - on purpose. It may be hard to accept, but it's your time to embrace. 

And maybe, as women, we should be more accepting and more open about talking about how we're feeling, how we're fitting, what we're going through. 

You're not alone. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

By the seventh day.

I love Sundays. A sleepy, slow day.
 A day that seems to crawl by - in the best of ways. A day to worship. Praise. Rest. Relax. Reflect. Prepare. A beautiful seventh day of the week. And start to another week. 

After God had spent six days creating the world, He set an example to us by resting. He didn't have to rest. He wasn't tired. His demands didn't leave Him exhausted. Instead, He rested because it was finished. It was good. And also, because He knew that humans needed a time to rest and, like with everything else, He wanted to be the example. 

One of my favorite Sunday moments is when I get to reflect on the week before, pray over the week ahead and then set goals and write down my schedule for what's to come. As someone who loves to rest in the triumphs and lessons learned of last week, and who constantly struggles with being anxious and overwhelmed, this Sabbath time is precious. 

1. First, I take a moment to look back at last week. Accomplishments. Things I didn't get done. Surprise God-things. Sweet conversations with friends. Every day blessings. 

Then I close that chapter. And turn the page to a new week. 

2. Before writing in my planner for this upcoming week, I pray over it. I talk to God about my anxieties. Pray about meetings, unexpected conversations, events and activities, time with friends and family. Pray for grace and truth, to be blessed and used. And then beside my prayer-conversation I list out what's going on that week - what may cause me anxiety - and give it to Him. 

3. Next, I list my goals and/or large tasks for the week. Then I assign them to days - writing down appointments first, followed by action items and notes. 

Then I enjoy the rest of my Sabbath, my Sunday. Last week's behind me. Tomorrow has been given to God. And, with my planner tucked away in my purse, I can praise, laugh, relax, rest - and generally not have to worry about tomorrow.