THE GIFT OF DISCONTENTMENT

This morning I sat in my car for an extra 10 minutes. I felt myself mentally and physically struggling to get myself up and out to start my work day.

As I sat in silence, I knew this feeling was different and honestly, I felt sad feeling it. I’ve always loved my job. I still really like it but as I’ve shared, they’ve made some changes that have left me feeling uncertain about my future here.

I’m so thankful for the last 6 years I’ve spent here and I’m overall happy with the work I do, but this morning I couldn’t help be feel an overwhelming sense of discontentment. I’ve always known I was made for more but comfortability has a weird way of masking the possibilities. When everything seems ok, it’s hard to imagine it any other way.

When I finally got myself up and out of the car I felt a little God whisper ‘sometimes the best kind of change is birthed from a deep sense of dissatisfaction in what you’ve been doing’

That feeling of ‘this can’t be it’ that overwhelms you in the worst (yet simultaneously) the best way possible, THAT is the feeling that will be your catalyst for change.

I’ve never made significant changes from a place of comfort. It’s in the discomfort and the dissatisfaction that I’ve found the fuel, strength AND motivation to change.

As I walked into work, I felt as though God was reminding me of earlier this year. Many people don’t know this, but months before Reuben and I decided to leave our last home, just after 10:30p one Monday evening we were in bed when Reuben woke to the sound of glass breaking and I woke to the sound of his gun loading. Everything happened extremely fast and I, half asleep, thought maybe he heard one of the kids fall out of bed and was overreacting. As I checked our babies, Reuben scoured the house as he believed someone was in our home. After deeming ‘the coast clear’ we realized two large cinder blocks had been thrown through our front window into the living room we laid in minutes before.

This was honestly the worst night of my life. My oldest daughter woke up to the commotion, the police were called and cameras showed two men, walk up to my home, throw these rocks and run down the street only to continue vandalizing other properties.

That day, Reuben and I knew it would never be the same. Our home, our sanctuary, our safe space, had been violated and it was hard to unsee what we had seen. We weren’t sure what to do but after much prayer, we decided- we’re not leaving. Not now, not until God says it’s time. We will not make decisions through the lens of fear. So, we stayed. Uncomfortable, discontented but, we stayed.

I believe with all my heart though that moment, that push out of our comfort zone was the moment I really opened my eyes and heart to see what could be on the other side of our comfort zone. I needed that. Familiarity can be deceiving. It can make you believe that all you know is all that can ever be. That’s where my head was at for a while. I didn’t, I couldn’t, believe there could be more then what I knew there. Reuben had said for sometime that we should move but I just couldn’t get on board, until then. Not out of fear, but out of the discomfort I now felt.

Months later, what felt like out of the blue, Reuben found our new house. He loved it since the first time it was on the market (it actually went off, under contract but then fell through and came back on for us) and guess what- right outside of our comfort zone, on the other side of everything familiar, we found a new thing. A beautiful thing. Our thing. I know that if it wasn’t for the uncomfortable situation months before, I likely would not have moved forward with this. I would have thought of all the reasons why we didn’t need to leave, why this house was good enough, why it was financially and physically comfortable. I would have stayed complacent which is often confused with comfort.

So as I walked to my desk today I decided not to wish away this feeling. Not to despise it or hope it would go away. There’s a reason for my discontentment.

I decided in this moment to embrace it. To lean into it. I realized that my discontentment is a gift. I began to reflect on all the times this has been true and I’ve realized that God works through the hard things, through the unexpected things, through the things we never wanted to happen.

Don’t get me wrong, be grateful for where you are. But gratitude is an attitude not a place. You can be grateful anywhere. Moving on literally or emotionally doesn’t mean you aren’t grateful, it means you’re growing.

Just because you’ve been doing something for a long time, just because it feels comfortable and familiar, doesn’t mean it’s meant to be forever. Allow yourself the grace to feel that.

I’ve been stuck in the familiar many times and I have learned that just because it’s always been this way, does not mean it should always be this way. Be brave enough to break cycles, end relationships, change your circumstances and start over.

Do not let familiarity bread contempt in your soul and rob you of your future. If you feel like there’s more, there probably is.

Ask the Lord and wait on His direction. Then, go for it. Without resistance or remorse. Walk into what God is doing. God is good, His plans are good and that still small voice that says ‘there’s more’ is Him calling you to greener pastures and deeper water. Go with it.

ASSURANCE

At the end of year I take some time to seek direction and definition for the for the year ahead. In this process, I usually ask the Lord to show me a word that will shape the following 12 months of my life, kind of like a word of the year. Last year my word was intentionality. At the time I felt this word come to my heart, I was pregnant with our forth child and while life was moving really fast, I felt that it was an invitation to slow down and be intentional about what really matters. I wanted to be intentional about my prayer life and spiritual growth, relationships, gift giving and celebrating others, more intentional with my day planning and the list goes on and on. I felt that it was important to not just continue going with the flow and the madness of life, I wanted to truly stop, slow down and be intentional with the life, people, time and resources I’ve been blessed with. I love 2020 for giving me that gift because I was able to see this manifest in a way I would have never imagined.

So much good came from 2020 for me personally, tough stuff, but good stuff nonetheless. However on the other side of that, like many 2020 turned into a year of uncertainty and if I’m honest, complete confusion at times. I still remember meeting up with my friend Drea at Target on Saturday mornings for our weekly Target run. We would watch people line up with gloves on their hands, masks on their face and we would look at each other and say ‘I will never wear a mask in public like that!’.. I could literally laugh at some of our conversations because we had literally NO IDEA what was just ahead on the horizon for us.

I have never in my life questioned more than I have in the last 10-12 months. At times I would sit and wonder ‘what do I even believe anymore’? .. Questions I had surrounding COVID-19 led to questions in just about every other area. Having my life totally flipped upside down, left me asking ‘what really matters anyways?’ I know what I thought mattered, but was I off? Was I wrong? Is there more to life that I was missing? I started to ask myself all the hard questions; What do I believe about people? About faith? About church culture? About family structure? About politics? About relationships? About MYSELF? What do I believe about every single thing I’ve ever know? 2020 put me face to face with a lot of questions that maybe I always had deep down inside, but never gave the time of day. And while I believe there is a place and need for these types of inquisitions, I did it in ways that would often leave me spinning out of control at times as I took in more than I could handle.

As 2020 was coming to an end, I was thinking, praying and asking; what is my 2021 word? But nothing came to heart. In fact, not only could I not put language to my expectancy for 2021, I was almost afraid to! The last several weeks, I’ve found myself saying ‘I don’t know what I believe’ more then ever. I’ve found myself so confused and in fact, last week I told my best friend that I am literally the person in the book of James- I am the double minded one, unstable in all my ways.

I know this is quite the introduction, but in order for you to understand where I’m going, I need you to have an idea of where I’ve been. So a couple weeks into 2021 I decided that if the Lord hadn’t shown me a new word, I would follow the last direction He gave, intentionality. That would be my word for 2021.


Then something happened. A couple of weeks ago I went to my training session and before class, my trainer did a quick devotional and prayer. As she was reading the devotional, the following words jumped out;

‘I come insecure, He assures me of His presence.’

I heard the Lord whisper; ‘Assurance, this is the year that I give you complete assurance. Trade your insecurities for assurance, trade your questions for assurance, trade your fears for assurance. I will show you exactly what you believe. I will assure you that things are exactly as they should be.’

I could have cried.

Assurance. That’s my 2021 word. That this is the year that the Lord will take all my questions, all my fears, all my insecurities and replace them with assurance in Him. I never realized how much hope and trust I put in people and things. Not in an idolatrizing way, but in a way that was unhealthy and unsustainable. People disappoint you, places change, life is always evolving, I need to remind my soul to put all my hope in the Lord, all my trust in Him, to lean not on my own understanding and to believe that He will perfect that which concerns me.

I feel like my words in the past have been great, and they have made my life better in so many ways but this year- this word- is so personal to me because it reaches deep into the depth of my soul and answers the hard questions that no one else can.

God is so good. He doesn’t need to explain Himself, nor does He need to assure me that He is who He says He is, yet here He is .. doing it! I’m thankful for this. I’m excited for this. And most importantly, I’m 100% believing for this. My heart and soul needs assurance in this season, I’m so thankful that God has decided to do just that. And here’s the thing, I don’t believe that He will only do it for me. I believe that He can and absolutely will do it for you as well! God wants His sons and daughters completely assured of all that He is and everything He created us to be.

Do you have a word of the year? If you do, drop it in the comments below or tag me on social media! If not, I encourage you to take a few minutes and ask God. I promise you, He will answer if you ask.

xoxo.. LB

CLEAR THE CLOG

Years ago God gave me a vision that I will never forget. He showed me a sink, with hands that would turn on the faucet and watch the water flow through the drain. This happened over and over again, until, it just stopped.

Then the vision switched. As the hands turned on the faucet, the water flowed and the sink began to clog. The water was backing up and everything that would have, that should have, flowed through it began to pool up and overflow making a complete MESS.

The hands then turned the faucet off.

It was careless to continue turning on the water that was only overflowing, pouring out on the ground, making a mess and could potentially ruin the floor, cabinetry, etc. I got the impression that the homeowner could not with good conscious continue doing this without risk of ruining the surrounding area. He wanted to turn the water on, but he couldn’t, not until the sink was unclogged.

As I saw this vision played out, I got the impression that it was an analogy for the Lord turning on and off flows of creativity in our life. He was showing me that He wants to turn it on, but not at the risk of a backed up mess; a spiritual and creative cesspool.

Creative influence or ability is given to be used, not stored. Stored creativity is like a swap in your soul. It clogs the flow and blocks what is intended to go through us from even getting to us.

As a writer, I feel like I’ve found myself in this place more times then I’d like to admit. While my creativity should be flowing through me, it’s blocked. Sometimes it’s blocked because I simply don’t do what I’m supposed to do. I’m inspired, but I don’t write. I hear from God but I’m not obedient. There’s essentially something that should be happening that isn’t. For you it might look different, maybe it’s the painting you never paint, the blog you never write, the song you never sing, the message you never share, the house you never make a home and the list can go on.

Other times we experience a blockage from hurt, frustration, bitterness, distraction, excuses or even pure laziness at times. I know when my creative sink gets clogged, instead of creative ideas flowing through me, I find myself in a creative cesspool frustrated about the stink and mess of a ‘clogged drain’.

I want to ask someone today, have you found yourself feeling unfulfilled? Under motivated? Confused? Frustrated? Or creatively backed up? You know there’s more to life, you know there’s something in you, that God is trying to do through you, yet, here you are- stuck, stagnant and feeling as useless as a clogged sink.

If that’s you, I want to encourage you today that you can unclog the sink of your soul and allow God, love, life and creativity to flow once again. It might seem like a big mess, it might seem like it’s more then you can handle but guess what? You can do it! I’ve been feeling like this myself lately and last night I turned on worship music and just sang while I cooked. Did you know worship is like Draino to the soul? Clearing out and unclogging every last blockage, making the pathways to your heart clear once again.

This morning I woke up with a scripture on my heart- instead of rushing into my day, I paused the to- do list and read that scripture, I journaled the impressions the Lord placed on my heart and I allowed myself to be present and tender, rather than clogged, once again. Friend, I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did this. It would have been easier to push that aside and carry on. It would have been faster to dismiss this moment as something I didn’t have time for, but instead I pressed in. I wish I could tell you what I heard, I wish I could show you what God showed me but that my friends is for another day.

Can I tell you something? I have four children- and although I love them all uniquely, I don’t love any one more than the other. I want the best for them all, I want them all to flourish, I want them all to succeed, I want them all to grow in the Lord.

So how much more is it with our Heavenly Father? How much more does He love YOU? This revelation wasn’t just for me, I may be the one to give it expression, but I believe it’s for ALL OF US!

So today, take some time to clear the clog and let the goodness of God and all His mercies flow through you once again. You deserve it and God desires it.

I hope you are as encouraged as I was this morning! If so, I’d love to hear from you! Send me a DM or comment below. We’re in this journey together.

xo.. LB

IS THERE ROOM FOR ONE MORE?

A little over a year ago, my husband and I laid in bed one morning as our kids piled in one after the other. First Rylee, then Sav and lastly, I could hear Ella calling from her room that she wanted to join us. I went to grab her from her crib and headed back to my bed for some last minute snuggles before we all parted ways.

I will never forget the moment as my body hit my bed with her in my arms; I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart ‘Is there room for one more?’… Certain of what I heard, but quite confused by the notion that we would have another baby at this time, I went about our morning as normal but I could not shake the wonder of what I had heard. After three different drop offs, at three different places, with no other reason to believe I was expecting our fourth child besides that question on my heart, I stopped at Walgreens and picked up a pregnancy test.

Once I got to work I decided that I would take the test in the bathroom to rule out the possibility of pregnancy, clear my mind of this thought and then be ready to focus on the day.  Fast forward 15 minutes or so and there I stood, with a positive pregnancy test in my hand.

What is happening I thought? My body had such a hard time ‘bouncing back’ hormonally after the birth of my third daughter, I quite honestly didn’t think it was possible. Yet here I was, pregnant with my fourth baby.

I’m not sure if it was the fact that the Lord literally told me hours before that I would be having another baby or maybe I’ve learned my lesson about giving into fear in the past or possibly it was a combination of both, but during that moment I felt no fear, no worry, no concern- just confidence. And such was my pregnancy. During those 9 months I had more confidence and assurance then I did in my other three pregnancies combined. Although I didn’t expect this, no one on this planet could have convinced me that this wasn’t the most perfect next step for me and my family.

Last night I woke up with a similar experience. I’ve been working on a devotional for women and at times I feel like it’s a personal uphill battle as I fight myself about being just another voice, just another writer, with just another devo. I mean, there’s already like a billion out there, right?

So many thoughts of feeling like I’m entering an already saturated market and maybe I should just turn around. I wonder if you’re like me and maybe you feel a nudge in your heart to do something, start something, go somewhere, learn an instrument, start singing again, go back to school, switch careers- whatever it may be- and yet you stay stuck and stagnant because you wonder if it’s even worth pursuing.

Yet, I hear the Lord whispering again, is there room for one more?  But guess what- WE get to answer that question, WE get to decide. So what do you say? Is there room for one more? One more business owner? One more author? One more writer? One more blogger? One more child? One more musician? One more college graduate? One more – you fill in the blank here. I know what you’re thinking and yes, there are in fact plenty of all these things and more on this planet but I believe there is only one you and therefor only one expression of your purpose and only you have the opportunity to fill it. I also believe that deep in your heart, past the fear, worry and anxiety- the answer is yes.

So, what has the Lord spoken to you? What has He you called you into? Or out of? What has He whispered to your heart? Make the space. Start the journey. Do the thing because there is always room for one more.

Now, before you go off and get started, I want to share one more thing with you.  Before I even gave birth to my fourth daughter I was praying if she would complete our family. Uncertain that the answer was yes, my husband and I decided not to close up shop for good.  Following her birth, I would pray ‘Lord, what’s my number?’ Meaning how many children will I have in order to complete our family and I believe that the answer is 5! (Yes, I want more children!) Yet thinking back to that morning, and knowing that the Lord whispered ‘Is there room for one more?’ So now I wonder and pray, ‘Lord, why would you ask me if there’s room for one more if we were going to have more than just one more child?’… 

As I woke up to this thought yet again last night, I heard the Lord whisper; ‘Lori, I showed you the next thing, not the whole thing.’

*mouth drops*

Well duh. The Lord asked me if there was room for one more, because that was the next thing- not the whole thing. I wonder sometimes how often I don’t get to the next thing because I’m tripped up on this thing. How often the plan is cut short because I didn’t finish what the Lord had started. There couldn’t be two more, until there was one more. You can’t be an author, until you’re a writer. You can’t be a college graduate, without being a student. You can’t be a skilled musician without first being an amateur and so forth.      

I want to encourage you to take a step in the direction of the first thing and let that lead you to the next thing. We don’t always get the entire picture at once but this is where faith comes in. We’ve got to be ok with knowing the next thing, not the whole thing.

So where does that leave you today? What are you putting your hands to? What are you putting your attention to? What are you putting your efforts to? Work on this thing until you see the whole thing. One step, one day, one act of obedience at a time.

2020 Vision

Every year right before Christmas I start to think about the following new year. I usually spend some time asking the Lord what the next season should look like and literally just ‘daydream’ about all the possibilities that He’s placed on my heart. During this process one thing that’s really important to me is asking the Lord what my ‘word of the year’ will be. I believe that this word helps shape my focus and my attention as I cross into a new season.

This year as I prayed, I felt like He gave me the word ‘intentionality’. He began to show me how everything worth anything requires intentionality and this year, I have to be laser focused on that mission. I spent some time thinking about all the areas of my life and moving parts I have going on and began to pray about what intentionality would look like specifically in those places. 

Intimacy and closeness in my marriage, raising God fearing children, excelling in my new position at work, becoming a better communicator, cultivating the right relationships and maybe even cutting off the wrong ones (just to name a few) – all of which will require tremendous intentionality on my part.

I’ve never been more aware of the fact that the life I have engrained in my heart will not just happen. It must be sought after, fought for and pursued daily. To sit and wait for things to happen, specifically the things that God has placed within my grip and control, would be foolish.

As I sat down to write some more I saw the words ‘2020 Vision’ so, I wrote that down. Waiting for the next portion, assuming this was a title of sorts, I sat and pondered some more. 2020 Vision.  2020 Vision. ‘Ok God, what is it? What’s my 2020 vision?’ as I continued to pray I realized this- 2020 vision wasn’t merely a page title for the overall vision of my upcoming year. It was an area that required my attention and intentionality, it was about the condition of my perspective. 

I felt as though the Lord was asking me to refocus and regain the 20/20 vision He’s given me.

In that moment, God reminded me of a time in my life when I was working 7-8 hours a day behind a computer screen and I began to develop headaches of all sorts. In an effort to figure out what was wrong, I went to an eye doctor to see if my vision had changed and if I needed to get glasses. It had not, yet my doctor still prescribed the lowest prescription for my first ever pair of glasses. He said if I used them, despite my 20/20 vision, it would help me to see more clearly as it elevates the strain from staring at a monitor. It did not. 

What I realized in that time was simple; there would be no substitution for just taking a step back and looking away. Sitting so close, for so long- staring at the same thing for hours a day, wasn’t helping me and there was no solution for that besides; not looking so long and so hard. I needed a break.  

As He reminded me of this time He began to show me that I once again have had my attention and focus out of balance. It wasn’t that I was looking at the wrong thing, it’s just that looking at anything other then Jesus for too long, can effect your vision, and even worse, your perspective. So I decided to step away.

For me personally, that meant signing off social media for some time. I felt as though going into the New Year focused and undistracted would help me to see everything better. Stepping back, taking my focus off this thing that takes up so much of my time and energy has helped me to see so much clearer. I’ve been taking time to write, plan, prepare and most importantly dream about the impending New Year.

I believe that God is very clear in His direction to us, the problem is sometimes we are too distracted to see it or surrounded by too much noise to hear it. What the Lord showed me was that because my life is big, beautiful and oh so blessed, it would require immense intentionality to make sure that I don’t become distracted by those things. Keeping my perspective pure and my vision clear. Always taking two steps back to look at life from a broader perspective. 

I don’t know about you, but as much as I love my kids- sometimes I can get stuck in the rut of coming and going, cooking and cleaning and I need to step back to remind myself of the magic in the mundane. Sometimes I find myself so fixated on something that I literally begin to dread the things I once loved. My perspective often needs some sprucing up and being intentional to do so will make a world of a difference for me!

I’ve realized that your vision and perspective determines everything so before we can set our path to do all the things, we have to make sure our vision is clear enough to see the right things.

So for me, this coming year is about intentionality starting with my perspective. 2020 vision means keeping my heart pure and my mind clear. Being intentional not just about doing the right things, but also seeing the right way.

Do you have a word for 2020? If so, what is it? What are your goals, dreams and plans for this new season? If you don’t yet, I would encourage you to start thinking about it. For me I process through this with God, He’s one of my best friends! But for you, maybe you grab a cup of coffee, a notebook and a good friend to talk it out with. Even vision takes intentionality. So dream big, let your heart leap again! God isn’t done working in you. The best is yet to come.

Xo.. LB 

 

MANAGING MOTHERHOOD

I use to think that being a good Mom meant doing all the thing, all the time, pn my own. In my mind, a good Mom cooks and cleans, does pick up and drop off, gets the laundry done, makes dinner, etc. etc.

I think in ways I wore my service to my family as a badge of honor. ‘Look how much I love you, look how much I would do for you!’ And then I realized, no one gets an award for doing the most, being the best or juggling it all alone nor does this behavior prove your love towards someone. Because let’s be honest Momma’s, sometimes we can do it all the things, with the nastiest attitude and who does that serve well? Not us, not our family.

Over the last couple of years I’ve realized Motherhood is a lot like Management and in order to be a good manager (or leader) you need to be brave, confident and innovative. Just because you’ve always done something one way, doesn’t mean you continue to do it that way. Just because something worked in one season, doesn’t mean it will the next. Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you HAVE TO do it. Sometimes management means getting the BEST person for the job and letting them do what they do well! Freeing you up emotionally and physically to do something else that requires your undivided attention.

This can look different for everyone but here’s a few things that helped change the pace of my days.

 

  1. If you’re married; BE HONEST and COMMUNICATE with you Spouse. This is huge. Here’s the thing, your spouse doesn’t know what you don’t tell them. As much as we think they can read between the lines, sometimes, they just can’t. I know personally, if things are done, my husband is grateful and will notice, but he doesn’t always have an understanding for ‘what went into it’. I found that in an effort to be a great wife and Mom, I wasn’t disclosing all the ins and outs, leaving him in the dark about the details regarding what was really going on in my own head and heart and in the literal day to day routine. I realized that when I started communicating my needs, wants and desires better, he well, RESPONDED TO THEM BETTER. Rocket science, I know. LOL but this is the truth. My husband became a better support system for me the moment I let him know I needed it. ‘Hey, can you do pick up today?’, ‘Hey, this weekend is going to be crazy, can you drop the laundry off?’ or ‘Hey, I really need a time out today- I’m going to the nail salon!’ The list can go on but communicating my need has opened up lots of opportunity for him to help. Also, I’ve noticed the more I communicate, the more he can anticipate. Meaning this; being honest and open about the day to day, in a kind and sharing way, has helped my husband pick up on the rhythm on his own. This means he might read the ques and bring home pizza one night so I don’t have to cook, or drop the laundry off so I can have an extra day to rest- whatever it might be. My communication develops his anticipation.
  2. ASK FOR HELP. I can’t stress this enough, asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. Because anyone can go on pretending everything is ok- when secretly you’re dying inside. It take courage to face the facts and then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Outside of asking my spouse for help- this means that sometimes I reach out to my parents, a friend, or family member. When I need something- I say it. And let me be clear- I don’t always get the help I need. Sometimes, the answer is no. Sometimes, there’s no solution besides putting in an extra dose of grit and grace and getting it done myself. But listen, TRY. Ask for help. Last week one of my kids didn’t have school and my rule generally looks something like this- if the majority (2 out of 3) don’t have school, I’ll take the day off but if it’s just one kid, I tend to work and figure out care for the one. So I asked a friend, and unfortunately she was busy that day- so you know what I did? Asked another! LOL Don’t be afraid to ask, don’t be afraid to get a hard NO, don’t be afraid to try again!! Be brave enough to ask for what you need! I know some of you are thinking ‘I don’t have anyone!’ and to that I would say; YET! You don’t have anyone, YET. Develop relationship. You don’t FIND a community of people to do life with, you create it. So start creating your community. People who can love and support you, and people that YOU can love and support as well!
  3. ACCEPT HELP. Sometimes this means accepting the offers from people around you, sometimes this means utilizing the services available to you. If you know me personally, you know that I have three small children who have three different locations. Because of our work schedules (my husband and I), I’m the primary drop off/ pick up person. So when school started this year and I began my routine, leaving the house – dropping off one child, going across town to drop off the next, then across the OTHER side of town to drop off the last and then heading BACK to the center of town to get to work (late) every. Single. Morning. This 90 minute commute was slowly eating at me. I mean did we get it done? Yes. Was my job accommodating? Yes. Where any children harmed in the process? No. (Not normally anyways.. LOL – joking) But was there any easier way? Yes! I decided what might be best for our family was to put my oldest on the bus. Now, let me just say- I’ve always been one to say ‘I would never put my kid on the bus!’ I’m not entirely sure where I got this idea from, but, I thought it. Until, I realized the bus could really benefit us! And so we did, and so it has. We have been so blessed by utilizing one of the services available to us. It’s cut my morning commute by 30 minutes and countless frustration simply by utilizing the services available to me. Momma, you don’t have to do it all.
  4. STOP TRYING TO CONTROL EVERYTHING. I am a firm believer that a healthy culture, whether at home, church, work or anywhere else, is CREATED not controlled. Momma’s stop trying to control everything from what your kids wear to how their bedtime routine goes by the minute. If we’re honest, a lot of our desire to do it all stems from our deep need to control it all. And can I tell you, control is an illusion. You’re never really in control. You’re never really able to control your kids, spouse, family- etc. I mean let’s be honest, you can hardly control YOURSELF on some days! So let go of that need. Trust God that He has assigned you these kids and this household because YOU CAN HANDLE IT. Notice, I didn’t say ‘you can do it’, no, you can HANDLE IT. Whatever it is. You can manage it. You can make it happen. You can do exactly what you need to do. Stop fighting with your spouse because he does bath time differently then you do. I mean who says your way is the right way anyways? Stop nitpicking with your in-laws because ‘they let your kids do whatever they want’ – Are they safe? Are they carried for? Are they loved? Then let them be!!! You’re way isn’t law. It’s your preference but it’s not necessarily the ONLY way to get things done. Say it with me- I will let go of my need to control!

This isn’t an exhaustive list. But these are four things that changed my life drastically when I began to believe them and implement them! Listen on any given week- NOT INCLUDING myself, husband and school teachers- my ‘routine’ includes the help of at least 2-4 people! Sometimes I send my laundry to the cleaner. One day I hope to hire a cleaning service. This week I might consider a food delivery service. The more children I have, the more creative I become. My time is worth it, my sanity is worth it and most of all my family is worth it!! So Momma’s be creative, be innovative, be willing to look at your life and make adjustments! Being a Mom doesn’t have to suck the life out of you! It’s ok to stop surviving and start thriving! You’ve got this, we got this! Let’s do it!!!

What’s one thing you can do this week to help ease your load? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below or message me on social media!

xoxo, LB

I BROUGHT MY OWN

Do you ever have one of those moments that seems meaningless enough but actually changes your life forever?

I had one of those ‘Ah-Ha’ moments a few weeks ago. I was at church (SUPER excited to be there because week night services come far and few for me in this season of life) and just feeling, honestly- amazing. I had gotten out of work a couple short hours earlier, went home and packed my kids bags for their first day of school, made dinner, straightened up and then headed out to church. Now, that doesn’t seem like anything miraculous but for me, it was everything! I honestly didn’t think I would- or could- make it that day with the demands I had on my time at home.

Anyways, fast forward to the service and a young man walks over with a couple bottles of water that he leaves on the seats next me and as our eyes lock he said ‘Do you want a water?’ and I responded (with mucho gusto I might add) ‘No thanks, I brought my own!’

I’m not sure what it was in that moment, but when the words ‘I brought my own’ left my mouth, they quite LITERALLY echoed through my soul, over and over again. I kept repeating to myself with the LARGEST smile on my face, ‘I brought my own. I brought my own! I BROUGHT MY OWN!’

Now, by now I’m sure you understand, this has nothing to do with water and everything to do with the deeper needs I have in life. This was about my realization that whatever I need, through Jesus, I can bring it to the table. Now; before I continue, don’t go rogue on me. This isn’t a ‘I don’t need anyone’ kinda message, quite the opposite. Community and interdependence is a beautiful thing, what this is however is the realization that GONE are the days where I wait for someone else to give me what I need. GONE are the days where I am sitting empty waiting for someone else to fill me up. GONE are the days where I walk into a situation hungry or thirsty and waiting on anyone to satisfy me- physically, mentally or spiritually.

One of my favorite scriptures is ‘God is within her, she will not fail’ Ps. 46:5 This moment reminded me that God is within me and He has equipped me to be more then capable to bring my OWN peace, my OWN confidence, my OWN affirmation, my OWN reconciliation, my OWN forgiveness, my OWN purpose, my OWN encouragement, my OWN inspiration. I can bring my own. Each and every time, I can bring what I need because it’s already within me.

For a girl who has spent a long time trying to get out of my feelings, this is great freakin’ news!! Because now, I don’t need to wait for someone else to fill my cup, I brought my own. I don’t have to wait for someone to validate me, I brought my own. I don’t need to wait for someone to say something or do something that gives me confidence, I bought my own. Essentially- for a lack of better words- I am my own best hype girl. So what I feel (or don’t), what I experience (or don’t), what I have, do, say, accomplish (or don’t) is on me. I take back the control. I take back the responsibility. I, by the grace of God, am empowered to bring my own – whatever- each and every time! This is INCREDIBLE newssssssss!!!

Do you know how many times I’ve walked out of a situation feeling sad or frustrated because things didn’t go as I hoped or ‘I didn’t get what I needed’ from that situation?! I mean- too many to count! But guess what, God has made me well able to do it for myself and THAT I WILL!! If it feels like I’m yelling at you- I kinda am! This is my ‘very excited, I want you to get this’ voice. Gosh- I am so sick of being at the emotional mercy of others. I bring my OWN from now, on.

I’m not sure what that looks like for you, but I’d like to encourage you to take back the ownership of your heart and mind, don’t leave your life in the hands of anyone other then God. He is creator AND sustainer. And whenever we seek wholeness from anything or anyone other then Him, we are left empty.

So here’s to bring your own whatever! Bring it, baby! You’ve got this!

 

xo.. LB

FREEDOM FEELS GOOD

I remember going to church for the first time two weeks after having my first daughter. I got up, got dressed, did my hair and make-up and wore the cutest green dress with brown sandal heals. I remember people saying how great I looked for just having a baby and feeling so good.

Later that day I went home and changed out of my church clothes. Now if you know anything about a post baby body, you know that I took off my dress and like 3 layers of spanks! Then I put on some sweatpants and a t-shirt and walked into the living room to spend some time with friends.

WHOA! What happened?!’ One of my friends shouted (literally, he was shocked)

I looked at him, looked at me, looked at him.. ‘What?’ I said.

You see he saw me moments before all done up, layered in spanks, everything tucked and sucked away but now, I was in my truest, freest form, and there was a stark contrast between what I projected and what I really looked like.

I remember thinking that day, WOW. The efforts we go through to conceal, to hide, to provide an illusion of ‘put together’…

Hiding takes more effort than it’s worth. It’s restricting, it’s constricting and downright confusing to those around you.

It’s funny when we think about it like this, but how many of us are hiding within our own skin. We’re hurting, we’re offended, we’re broken, we’re scared, we’re confused, and the list goes on, but as long as it LOOKS good on the outside to others, we just keep on going.

We keep on showing up, with spiritual and emotional spanks on, hiding it all away and it might look good on the outside, but on the inside, we’re dying. On the inside we don’t feel good anymore.

Over the last few years, slowly but surely I’ve been putting in the work to deal with my inside. To find healing and freedom from things that have held me hostage for far too long. Facing things I never wanted to look at. Having conversations with God about myself that were tough but led me to the freedom I needed.

How exhausting is it to live at the mercy of our cover- ups? How exhausting is it to seek and search for something or someone to fill the void or to give us the confidence we need only to be disappointed when it just doesn’t last?

I’ll tell you what- I am not where I want to be in all areas of life but can I tell you that I have more confidence today than ever. Not because those ‘things’ that make us confident are in order, but because I’ve realized those things are accessories to me, they don’t define me.

So to you, living broken and tired, wondering if you’ll ever feel better, I say; YOU CAN, and you will! But you’ve got to be willing to put in the work!!

Freedom feels good friends!

When you no longer walk in fear of failure or rejection.

When you no longer feel insecure about everything from your body to your abilities.

When you no longer look to the people around you for affirmation but allow God within you to affirm you.

When you no longer feel the need to compete or prove something to someone.

When you no longer care what the whispers are saying about you.

When you no longer long to fit in but yet, you do! People love you because YOU love YOU!

When you can speak from your heart and not your hurt.

When you don’t hate the skin you’re in, you’re actually thankful for every part of your body, including the skin you’re in.

When you lift your eyes and know, it is well.

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life trapped. Trapped in my own thoughts and feelings, trapped in my fears, trapped in my insecurities, trapped in my offense, trapped by the idea I had of what things should be like. But can I tell you something? I’m not anymore, and freedom feels good. In fact it feels AMAZING.

I’m not saying everything’s perfect or that I don’t struggle, I do. But stuck is no longer my standard of living. I’m free from that! And when you’ve been stuck for long enough you know that ‘coming to the light’ feels so good. The warmth, the clarity, the beauty of it all.

Freedom feels so good, but you have to fight for it!!!!

Before I go I want to give you three practical steps you can take towards freedom. This isn’t an exhaustive or all inclusive list. Just 3 of the many things that have helped me tremendously.

1. Face It. Literally. In order to find freedom you’ve got to face your fears. Those things that linger in your heart and mind, face them.. and when you do, you disarm them. I’ve told myself a million times in the last several months ‘even so, God is still good.’

Why? Because it’s important to me to know that no matter what craziness life throws at me, God is still good. He’s still for me, He’s still with me, He’s still in me and when I can hold my faith, I can lose my fears.

2. Get moving! I’ve been ‘doing things’ lately. I’ve been getting my body moving, my heart racing, ladies if you’re married, have more… you know, fun, with your husband! Dance with your kids. Go for a walk. Get on a cardio machine. Do some squats. Actually move your tired, stuck body. And as you feel yourself begin to break free and move freely, you actually set your mind free to do the same.

3. Small and steady wins the race. It’s all about momentum ladies. Build it! I started with small steps, ONE BY ONE. And then built onto that. Don’t go trying to give yourself a whole new life. That’s not going to work… Start small. The first thing I did was start intentional devotional time in the morning, I did well with that and then built on. I started doing cardio 10 minutes a day, then making my bed every morning. Sounds small, right? But these small, consistent, changes have meant building momentum and gaining confidence.

So what’s your takeaway? How can you move towards freedom? What new practice can you implement? What old practice needs to be stopped? Think about it! Hold yourself accountable. And lastly, let me know! I’d love to hear from you.

Pray and slay!

xx .. LB

FENCED IN

I recently read this scripture and although I’ve read it a ton of times, this time was different. This time I stopped and thought to myself, ‘Well God, then who did fence me in? Where did this smallness come from?’

I remember towards the end of my first pregnancy, I felt as though God placed this impression upon my heart, that although I was walking into a season that could be (and often is) labeled as crazy, tiring and stressful, I felt like God was speaking a different story over me and as the voices spoke louder and louder, God whispered ‘surely there is enough grace”.

I have to say, Surely is by far one of my favorite blogs I’ve ever written because the conviction of that truth pierced my heart and changed my life. I’m not saying that I don’t struggle, I do. I’m not saying my days aren’t hard, they are. I’m not saying everything is perfect, it’s not. But what I am saying is through it all, I’ve managed with grace because surely there is enough of it.

Thinking about this made me realize this is not the common language associated with life, particularly motherhood and marriage. We are told to be strong means to be independent and submission is a sign of weakness. We are told that having a baby changes everything and it’s all a chaotic mess from here. We are told to say good-bye to our sanity and everything that matters to us because surely we can’t have that and children. Surely we can’t be happily married. Surely we can survive, but thrive? Not a chance.

Or can you?

In my hunt of ‘where did this come from?’ I’ve created a list, it’s not exhaustive, but it’s a list of areas to ‘check in on’ if your searching for the source of the ‘smallness’ you feel.

Here goes..

  1. What are you listening to?  

Literally. What are you allowing into your mind, heart and soul? Be mindful that if you take in junk, you will literally feel like junk. Society has a disturbing way of painting the picture of marriage, children and family. Do not allow them to redefine for you what God has spoken over your life. This isn’t just culture, this includes the people we do life with. Not everyone has God’s perspective on marriage and motherhood, make sure you’re not looking at life from that distorted filer.

  1. What does your support system look like?

Here’s the thing about support, it’s not quantity, it’s quality. And while many of us rave about the number of Facebook friends or Instagram followers we have, we have to understand that a large quantity doesn’t equal great quality. Surround yourself with people (or even one person) who will love you enough to challenge you, who will not feed your dysfunction, who will push back on your excuses. We all want to feel good, that’s why social media has become so addicting to many of us, but is good really God’s best for us? I think not. Social media provides a quick and easy affirmation but how does that really help us in the long run? We have to be intentional about our support system- who’s in it and why. Don’t surround yourself with people who only want you to live up to their reality. Some people just don’t want to see you doing well, not because they are horrible people but when we exceed there expectation, excuses lose their power. Make sure your tribe challenges you.

  1. Are you taking care of yourself?

I have to be honest, this one was tough. I think we glorify ‘sacrifice’ to the point that we believe that by neglecting ourselves, we are honoring others and that’s just not the truth. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Mind, body and soul. You’ve got to be intentional about doing this because trust me when I say, it will not ‘just happen’. For me, I decided there are some things I just won’t leave the house wearing. It’s not to be vain, but I realize when I look like a desperate housewife, I feel like a desperate housewife. It’s important to me to keep myself together. For myself, my husband and kids. Past the surface stuff, I take time to care for my soul. I’m intentional about having my coffee with Jesus in the morning, I journal and I spend time in prayer. It’s important to me to know my heart is right because that’s where everything I do flows from. I read books, I follow podcast; I take time to care for myself and when I do, I’m a better woman, wife and mother.

  1. Do you love this place?

This one sounds silly but it’s the truth, do you love this place?? .. Do you love being a mom, do you love being married, do you love loving God? Do you love this place in life? Because if you don’t, it’ll be obvious. Enjoy the place you’re in TODAY. The days feel long but the years are oh, so short. Love them. Every long and tiring second of them.  I’ll say this a million times over; embrace the place you’re in.

And lastly, number 5- DO YOU !!

Sounds simple enough, right? It should be but in a culture where you can ‘see into’ the digital lives of hundreds of people in a moment, you can be easily influenced into believing the lie that you’re missing out, that their way is better and that your life doesn’t measure up.

Can I tell you? That’s a lie! Even as I type these words, my hope is that you wouldn’t try to do it ‘my way’ but rather that you would be inspired to do it YOUR VERY BEST WAY. What does that look like for you? What should you say yes to? What should you say no to?

Ladies, we’ve only got this one shot at life, we’ve got to enjoy it!!! Stop the dread, stop the hate, stop the bad- brain chatter. Be kind and caring to yourself and those around you! The smallness you feel, it’s not from God!!!!!

It’s time that we reclaim the territory of our hearts and remove everything (and maybe everyone) that contradicts what God has spoken to us and over us.

Be encouraged, Momma. You got this!

xx… LB

GRIT & GRACE

We’re two weeks into the New Year and I can’t help but stop & think; Wow! This is happening! Goals are being crushed, routines are being established, better habits are being developed and overall- things are good.

If you read my last blog post, you know that my word of the year (in other words, my theme of the year) is pursue. I want to pursue life, love and God more than I ever have before!

On this journey of pursuing my best yes and all that entails, I’ve realized this; grit and grace are everything and together, they change everything.

I know that I’m a hard worker. I put in work that no one sees to get the results I want. I know things don’t just fall into place for me, I put them there- strategically and intentionally. But I also know there’s a grace on my life that I didn’t earn and I can’t explain. That’s why some things just come more naturally to me and my hard work goes just a bit further then I could have expected. It’s also why other things, no matter how hard I try, just don’t work out. There are some things I’m graced for and some things I’m not. So it is with all of us! There are some things that you’re on Earth to do! And those things can and should be done eagerly and consistently, but there are some things that just aren’t for us. Success and fulfillment happens when you figure out (not by popular opinion, but by deep soul searching) which is which!

The principle of grit and grace is this; no amount of grit will pull you through something you aren’t graced for-  but no amount of grace will pull you through something you have no grit for.

You need faith and hard work, consistency and flexibility, grit and grace! You need the contrast each provides. You can’t just be graced for it, you’ve got to put some grit into it!! You can’t just passively let things pass you by, hoping one of them catches; you’ve got to pursue the things God has called you to. He may through you the idea, the dream, the vision, the passion, but it’s up to YOU to catch it and do something with it.

Whatever that might be for you, embrace it! It might seem big, they might seek scary, it might even seem boring and mundane but let me tell you, if it’s for you, it will not pass you! And until you figure that out and walk in it, you’ll be frustrated and fruitless.

I remember the night I was driving home from work with little Sav, about a year old in the back seat of my car and I heard the Lord explicitly tell me to attend the University of Bridgeport and obtain a Bachelor Degree in Psychology. He told me that together we would ‘bridge the gap between Christianity and Psychology.’

So, I did it.

It started with a Google search, then an info session, then an advising appointment and so on and so on. Soon (and by soon I mean nearly 3 years later) I was walking down the aisle, cap and gown to receive my diploma.

When I tell you grit and grace will take you places striving never can, I mean it, I know it, I live it.

Against all odds I completed an accelerated program with two small children at home (Yes, two. I got pregnant shortly after I registered!) and achieved something that I never thought possible for that season of life.

What no one saw was the late nights, the early mornings, all the times I said ‘no, I have to study’, the time I missed with my kids and husband, the times I sat through class with morning sickness or pumped in the bathroom to provide food for my nursing baby, the times I cried because I felt so lonely and detached from everything and everyone but God. No one saw that, any of that (except my husband of course, he’s the real MVP- love you, doll)

But what they also didn’t see is the grace that God gave me for that season of life. The way He strengthened me, the way He encouraged me, the way He sustained me. He called me to it, He brought me through it. Literally, and faithfully.

Grit and grace, it changes everything.

I want to encourage you today, you’re graced for this place. You’re graced to do more and be more then you could have ever imagined. You’re graced for the job, the kids, the spouse, the grief. You’re graced for the move, the ministry, the family, the offense. You’re graced to get through whatever it is standing in front of you.

I want to encourage you to take some time today and ask God two questions.

1.) What am I graced for?
2.) Where do I start? 

And then, do it. Whatever it is! Put some grit to His grace and get it done!!!!

Getting started, stepping past the fear and walking in faith is the HARDEST part. Probably because it’s one thing the Lord can’t do for you! You’ve got to do it yourself. But I promise you this, if you do, He won’t disappoint you.

So go on, get to it!! And be sure to leave a comment or send me a message about your thing. I’d love to hear what God is doing in your life and the steps you’re taking to walk in grace with grit!

Till next time,

xx.. LB