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

PURSUE

As 2018 comes to an end I’ve been spending quite a bit of time reflecting on the last year of my life.  Although some of it feels like a blur, I know that wrapped up in the crazy were some really amazing moments.

I started 2018 off pregnant with two toddlers, I delivered our third baby girl 4 weeks early via emergency c- section, I fumbled through the adjustment of being a mom of 3 and wife while trying to keep my identity as a woman intact. We sent our 3 year old to preschool for the first time and then our 5 year old to kindergarten. I went back into work full time, and continued working in ministry as well as a bunch of other miscellaneous things. We faced SO MUCH TRANSITION this year and needless to say, some days I felt like I was thriving, but other days I felt as though I was barely surviving. But such is life, right?

Going into 2019 I’ve been thinking a lot about my ‘word of the year’. For me ‘word of the year’ symbolizes what can be. It sets the tone for my year and I intend to shape everything I do around this one word. I do this every year yet, I couldn’t tell you what my word for 2018 was. At some point I went into survival mode and lost complete track but I can tell you what word would describe my 2018; passive.

Yup, passive. With everything going on in my life, my adjustments etc., I just became passive. Whatever happened, happened. I became very good at the day to day; cooking, cleaning, packing bags, wiping butts, doing laundry etc. but anything (and practically everything) above and beyond that, the things that make my soul come alive; if it happened, it happened – if it didn’t, it didn’t.

I’ve been passive.

But this year, my word is pursue. I believe so strongly that this is what God is speaking over my life. Pursue His presence. Pursue wisdom. Pursue divine instruction. Pursue purpose. Pursue dreams. Pursue relationship. Pursue reconciliation. Pursue healing. Pursue intimacy. Pursue writing. Pursue a clear mind, a healthy body and thriving soul. Pursue, pursue, pursue.

I know for me the dreams and visions God has given me for my life will not come from a posture of passivity. I honestly wonder how many things I’ve let die at the hand of passivity. The life I dream of, it’s not going to ‘just happen’, I have to pursue it with my whole heart, mind and soul.

It’s the little choices that I believe will make the difference. Opening my bible when I want to zone out on my phone. Writing when I’m inspired instead of over thinking too much. Loving my family fearlessly and enjoying the day to day hustle the way I once did. Connecting with new people. Being transparent and brave even when it’s scary. Caring about the me God created me to be and running after her daily. So this year, I will pursue. With all that I am, with all that I have, everyday I will make the decision to pursue purpose over comfort.

I know this last year was crazy most of the times but the truth is, circumstances only reveal the preexisting. I once had a tough conversation with my husband.. after complaining about my sleep deporvation and saying because of that I struggle to get up early, my dear (and honest) husband reminds me that I’ve never been good at waking up, even before kids. It got me thinking- ‘King Snooze Button’ has always ruled my life, this isn’t about my kids or this season, it’s about me.

My kids didn’t do this. Circumstances didn’t do this. A packed calendar or sleepless nights didn’t do this. This is just me. And those circumstances only exacerbated what was already there.  

Speaking for myself, I know having children and this season of life leaves plenty of room for excuses, but they are just that excuses. And excuses pave the road to mediocrity.

I think somewhere along the line the voices in and around me became louder then the voice of God. I began to believe the lies and forgot the truth. But not this year, this year I’m making the choice to choose well every single time. To PURSUE all that is good whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— I will pursue such things. (Phil 4:8 remix)

As a side note- I encourage you to find someone you can trust and intentionally allow them to speak into your life but not only words of encouragement but correction. In a world addicted to affirmation, we’ve lost the beauty of correction. The challenging conversations that produce CHANGE and not just comfort within us. We need those people, we need those conversations if we intend to grow!

I don’t believe that the ball dropping truly changes anything however I do believe that this clear and defined ‘end of one thing, beginning of another’ can be a powerful moment. To intentionally look back and reflect, then look forward and dream. Letting go of the excuses, self reflecting, finding the root of the problem and allowing Jesus access to THOSE areas of my life, that will make all the difference.

So here’s to a new year and new beginnings. Here’s to pursuing the very heart of God for my life and family. Here’s to finding the TRUTH and clinging to it for dear life. Here’s to never letting another voice be louder then the Lord’s again. Here’s to thriving, in all ways, in all things.

I believe with my whole heart that God gives grace for this place- whatever that is! For me it’s motherhood, ministry & marriage.. What’s your place? Find your grace and walk in it! We can do it, this can happen.

So what’s your word for 2019? I’d love to hear! Comment below or send me a message via Instagram 🙂

xx LB

 

Learning the ‘Let Go’

Letting go is so hard. If you don’t believe me, just begin a closet clean up and see how hard it is to purge old things. 

Doesn’t fit = I want to keep this until I lose some weight! 

Four of the same black shirt = You can never have too many black shirts! 

Never wear it = But what if I NEED this one day and I don’t have it? 

The list goes on and on.  It’s almost comical, (totally true) and also light hearted but how many of us know that our inability to let go reaches far past our closets?! 

When I look across the balance of my life I realize that I’ve struggled with letting go in many areas. I don’t want to let go of my clothes, but I also don’t want to let go of my offenses. I want to remember how that person hurt me because remembering makes me feel like I’m guarding myself from experiencing it again. I don’t want to let go of my excuses. That’s a huge one because the longer I hold on to them, the easier my life seems (key word; seems! And we all know things are always how they seem) I don’t want to let go of my kids because no one can do it like me, my spouse because I know better, my responsibilities because I have too much pride attached to the things I DO rather then who I am. I can go on and on and given enough time I’m certain I could find the thing you’re holding onto as well. Letting go is hard and it’s scary! But it’s also necessary. 

I’m realizing that holding on is merely the illusion of control and control at its very CORE is a distrust in God. YIKES! No one wants to admit that, I know I surely didn’t. But hello somebody, if you’re constantly TRYING to control things, you don’t really believe that God is not only in control but also working on your behalf! 

Last week I went to the Big E with my kids and at one point they decided to ride this helicopter ride. The ride had two rows per helicopter and two seats on each row. The most dysfunctional thing about it; there was a steering wheel at EACH SEAT! I get the sentiment behind it; every kid wants to be the driver and rather than disappoint 3 of the 4 potential riders, we give each kid a chance to ‘steer the helicopter’. Seems innocent enough right? 

Wrong! It’s wrong. So wrong. That’s not real life. EVERYONE isn’t in control at the same time. Only one person can take the steering wheel. You probably think you know where I’m going with this; well only one person is in control, only one person gets the wheel… 

Wrong! The truth is, no matter which kid sits in the controller’s seat with the steering wheel, there’s an operator sitting on the sideline controlling the every move. 

We’ve got to understand that God is controlling this ride and the ‘control’ we think we have, is just an illusion. A ‘make you feel better’ fake steering wheel so you don’t feel bad about sitting there without control. 

Gosh I wish I would learn this faster. Although the head knowledge is there, my heart is struggling to get on board! I know God is in control, but I still sit in my little controller’s seat, gripping my inoperable steering wheel, pretending that what I’m doing makes a difference.  I am so deceived. 

Now, before I continue let me say this isn’t a ‘nothing you do matters’ kinda message! At all. What you do matters, of course it does. But it’s not all about what you do, it’s about whom you trust as well. 

Ask yourself who do I trust the most? 

The more controlling you are, the less trust you have. That’s just facts. Apply it to God, relationships, children, whatever it may be! If you’re constantly trying to control things and/ or people; you’re having a trust issue. 

So what happens now? You know better, you do better. Right? Here’s what I’ve learned; practice letting go. Don’t hold on so tight to everything and everyone, you want to know why? The longer you stay hands clenched, the harder it is to receive. 

How many opportunities, experiences, relationships etc. do we miss out on because we’re holding on to something that doesn’t suit us any longer for far too long. 

I’m writing this to myself. This is like an open journal to me right now because I NEED THIS. I need to practice the let go, I need to trust God and people more, I need to release the ILLUSION of control because I’m CERTAIN I’m missing out on so much based on my fear of letting go.

What do you need to let go of? It’s probably not one thing, it’s probably not two things, it’s probably a series of things so do it. Let go, move on.  God is good and He can be trusted. I think when we (and I mean ME first) really, TRULY get this, not as knowledge but as a revelation that leads to transformation, life will never ever be the same.

Practicing the let go in the little things. Watch your confidence in the Lord increase and see how your life changes.

Letting go is good. So, SO good.

xx.. LB

ANOTHER GIRL?!

After my husband and I got married I would always daydream about becoming a mother and I just couldn’t wait for my dream to be realized. I would envision us having a ton of boys in the back of a Suburban, heading home from practice, sweaty and smelly. I would imagine what they would look like, tall like my husband? Glasses or no glasses? Fair or olive colored? I literally couldn’t wait.

Although it took longer then expected, nearly five years into our marriage we became pregnant with our first child. I remember knowing I was having a boy, not because I ever felt anything inside to indicate so, but because of my daydreams, of course I would have a boy, and not only would I have a son, I believed I would only have sons.

I’m not sure where this idea came from but I believe it was from a deep rooted fear of girls. Growing up I didn’t have great relationships with other girls, they were mean! What if my daughter was bullied? What if she was the bully?! And what if she hated me??  All these prospects terrified me.

So needless to say, mid- January 2013, when I found out I was having a little girl of my own, I was terrified. I was in such shock I actually paid $100 to have a second, private ultrasound to ensure that what we saw, was in fact what was there. $100 later, it was true, a little girl.

My fear slowly turned into excitement (with serious come to Jesus moment with my husband) and I began to prepare for my little girl. (Now let me just say, I love my daughters more then anything but this is the real reality of how I felt in the early stages.) Fast forward less then two years and I was pregnant again, and yet again, everyone assumed THIS would be my son. Well meaning friends and family would announce ‘hopefully it’s a boy this time!’ but to everyone’s surprise, yet another baby girl for the Burgos family.

Now two girls later in the fall of 2017 I was pregnant yet again. (We really like to have babies around here! LOL) ‘This has to be a boy!’ people would say, ‘Reuben needs a son!’ (I mean, no pressure right?!) And yet, we received the news that we were indeed pregnant with our third daughter.

I cannot even count the number of times I have heard the words ‘another girl?!’ over the course of the last nine months.

‘Three girls?! Good luck with that!’

‘I feel sorry for you when they become teenagers!!’

‘Poor Reuben, he’s so outnumbered!’

‘You’re going to try again, right? You have to try for the boy!’

The list could go on and on of comments I’ve received from well meaning friend and family, as well as rude and ignorant strangers. I have to be honest, these conversations have gone from light and innocent to offensive and obnoxious. Don’t even ask me if I plan to ‘try for the boy’ or tell me you feel sorry for me. ‘Poor Reuben?!’ Really?? Is that what people really think about raising daughters? That it’s something to be pitied? The idea that daughters are somehow less then sons frustrates me (No shade to the boys! I love the boys, boys are great but they are not in any way superior to the daughters). Daughters are lovely, daughters are beautiful, daughters are a special gift from heaven and they should be treasured not despised.

Another girl…

I’ve realized these words are not a reflection of our perceived future but rather a reaction to our very real, unhealed past. It hasn’t been easy for the ladies. After the fall of man, which according to many was ‘Eve’s fault’ (you can read more about my thoughts on Eve here) women have been on a long road to redemption. Striving, proving and desperately wanting to be seen as equals to our male counter parts. Why do women have to be the enemy? Why is it that even women are terrified of other women? And how could it be that we view daughters as ‘just another’ to add to the bunch as if some how they can be grouped away when God has called each of us unique?

Over the last five years I’ve realized now more then ever that this is not the heart of our Heavenly Father towards His daughters and if He can’t make the women see it in themselves, He’ll force them to see it in their daughters.

It’s easy to see in my daughters what I can’t see in myself. It’s easy to love and value in them what I hide and hate in me. It’s easy to call them lovely and cherished even when I feel broken and overlooked. If God can’t make the women see it in themselves, He’ll force them to see it in their daughters.

Having little girls has never made me more proud to be a woman. Having little girls has never made my husband look more like Jesus. It’s amazing how daughters have the ability to pull out the unhealed parts of their mother while simultaneously brining out the unrealized heart of Jesus in their father.

I remember the Holy Spirit whispering to me one day “I’m raising up a generation of daughters that will love me with ease’. The Lord began to show me that daughters, raised by strong father figures, would not struggle to love their heavenly Father because their earthly father would make it so easy. Daughters so loved and cherished, not resented or feared, by their mothers would be able to love themselves well and completely. As the words ‘poor Reuben’ ring in my mind, my heart screams out he’s not only blessed, he is highly favored to be entrusted with the hearts of world changing women.

I want you to know something, how we feel about others is often a reflection of how we view ourselves. And while I could be offended by the heart towards the daughters of this world, I’ve realized it’s a reflection of the hurt, fear and brokenness we carry. It’s a reflection of the ‘not good enough’ mentality we carry. It’s evidence of the ‘a man must complete me’ mindset.

Daughters, you’re not just ‘another girl’ to your heavenly Father. He treasures you, He loves you, He honors you and you were not a second choice. ‘It is not good for man to be alone’ said the Lord. You were created for completion, not competition. Women don’t need to compete for space when we complete the Father’s perfect picture of humanity. You complete the picture the Father is painting in our community, you complete the picture the Father is painting in our homes, you complete the picture God wants to paint of humanity. He loves you! I was surprised by my first born daughter’s gender reveal almost 6 years ago but God wasn’t. He chose her, just as He chose me and you.

Although at times we look at children as just another….  God doesn’t nor does He look at you as just another. I think when we realize this, internalize it, live by it, walk in it- we can and will be filled with grace to live and not strive. We will be filled with grace to complete the picture God is painting rather then compete for space in it. You are chosen, lovely and sought after. Never forget it. Despite how you feel or what you’ve been told, you are not just another to God.

Xo.. LB

FROM TWO TO THREE

It’s been just over 5 weeks since my newest princess, Ella Paisley, was born and let me tell you, it’s been a crazy 5 weeks! Starting from the morning of her birth day, everything has been a while and crazy ride like I’ve never experienced! The transition to becoming a family of five has been nothing short of eventful.

Since her birth, I’ve been home with Ella and her two big sisters, Savannah (5) and Rylee (2).

Recovering from surgery, caring for two toddlers and adjusting to the demanding needs of an infant has been interesting. Some days I felt like Wonder Woman & other days I wonder how I’ve made it this far! Between wiping butts, nursing, cleaning, cooking & everything else- I feel like a crazy woman! I mean, does the laundry every end?!

In the madness there’s one thought that stays on my heart day and night, the days are long and the years are short. I must say this to myself 100x a day, literally. Sometimes it encourages me, other times it saddens me, but every time it reminds me to slow down and enjoy the ride, because before you know it, it’s over.

I still remember the day my oldest daughter was born, I mean, I can still remember the day I found out I was pregnant!! Yet here we are, five years, two siblings & one tired Momma later… Gosh, time sure is flying.

Reminding myself of this very thing everyday has helped me adjust in ways I’m not sure I can explain but I want to try. If you’re a Momma, you know that motherhood can also be known as ‘lonely-hood’ at times and my hope is to in some way, even the smallest way, minimize that. Whether your kids are 2, 22 or 42, I’m sure you can relate.

Be patient.

This is a tough one, but patience is everything! I would like to think at this point in the game I’ve mastered this but yet somehow this seems like the skill I need to learn every- single- day !!! Be patient with recovery, be patient with the baby, be patient with the toddlers, be patient with your spouse, be patient with the entire process and adjustment period. NONE of it comes easy. This is my third repeat c- section so although I’ve been here before, this one seemed much different then the others and I had to be patient! It took me much longer to recover which was frustrating, I didn’t feel like my spouse or kids could really understand how difficult this was for me (understandably) and life was moving way to fast while I remained slowed down and frustrated. Patience was essential to my peace!

Be organized.

I like to plan! But in the words of OutKast, ‘you can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather’! Gosh, this is tough. How do you balance planning and preparation with the fact that you can’t control everything and things don’t always go how we expect them to? Well for me, I’ve realized that the more I plan & prepare, the less impact I feel when things do derail. I can’t change the fact that life happens and things get messy, but staying organized has helped me to handle those obstacles better. For example, my daughter was born 3 1/2 weeks early. The morning of her birth I did not have the slightest idea that she would arrive later that day. I’ve never had a pre-term baby so in my mind, I had time! But yet at the time of her birth, my hospital bag had already been packed, her car seat was ready, bassinet assembled, clothes washed (etc, etc, etc) leaving me little worry or concern as I got wheeled into the OR nearly 4 weeks earlier then I expected.

On a day to day basis, this means packing diaper bags and picking out clothes the night before, setting my alarm a little early to get myself ready while the kids are asleep, meal planning & using my calendar to remember important dates or to do’s as well as ensure I don’t over commit or extend myself. As much as I can help it, I just don’t wait until the last minute to do anything. I can’t avoid life interruptions, I can’t control every situation but I can plan, prepare and organize my life in such a way that when those hiccups come, I’m as prepared as I possibly can be and this minimizes the impact!

Embrace it!

Nothing looks the same, NOTHING! I’ve resolved in my mind that my hands will ALWAYS be outnumbered from this day forward and the best thing I can do is roll with it. I can’t be the same person I was before Ella’s birth. I can’t give of myself or time the way I did before her birth, everything has changed and rather then striving to keep things the way they were, I embrace our new normal. I think one of the ways we set ourselves up for failure is by putting far too much energy into trying to keep things the same rather then adjusting to the differences. Embrace the change, embrace the differences, embrace the crazy! It’s here! And any time you spend trying to fight that will be wasted, but the time you spend evolving into the new normal is invested into your future!

I wish I could slow down time, I wish they could be little for just a little longer, I wish I could bounce back faster each time but the truth is it can’t, they can’t and I can’t. This is life! Messy, full and beautiful. I want to encourage you to love those long days with all you’ve got because one day those long days will become short years and faster then we know it, it’ll all be over. Fix your eyes on your path and ride it till the end!!

I hope you’re encouraged, I hope you know you’re not alone and I hope you know there are miracles in the mundane. Look for them, you’ll see it.

In an upcoming post I may share some of my best baby purchases and the things I just can’t live without during this season of life. Comment below if that’s something you’d be interested in seeing!

Xo.. LB

WHAT’S NEXT?

Anyone else ever ask themselves this question? Or maybe you haven’t asked yourself but someone else has asked you. Depending on the stage of life you’re in (or state of mind for that matter) this question could prompt excitement and anticipation or fear and frustration.

You graduate from high school or college, what’s next?

You get engaged or married, what’s next?

You have a baby, what’s next?

You go on an amazing trip across the world, what’s next?

Or maybe you find yourself in a more difficult season of life.

You’re facing divorce or a bad breakup, what’s next?

You’ve been fired or laid off from your job, what’s next?

You’re kid ends up in rehab, what’s next?

You’ve lost a loved one and you’re gripped by grief, what’s next?

You’re faced with the sobering reality that life is short, not promised and fragile at best, what’s next?

Maybe you’re facing something that isn’t so externally obvious to others, but it’s slowly killing you on the inside.

You’ve been fighting depression for months to no end, what’s next?

You’ve been anxious for everything and everything, what’s next?

You’ve been struggling with insecurities and now it’s beginning to effect your relationships, what’s next?

 

For me personally; I’m about a year out from graduation, I’m pregnant with my third child, this year marks my 3rd year at the company I’m working at and my 10th wedding anniversary. I find myself stagnant on my own personal endeavors which leaves me frustrated (and slightly annoyed) so I often find myself asking the question ‘What’s next?’

 

I’ve noticed that no matter where I am in life, whether good, bad or indifferent, this question remains; what’s next? This year I’ve been asking myself this question ALL- THE- TIME. I sound like a broken record!! I realized the depth of my dysfunction when my little girl, Savannah who’s just four years old began to ask me ‘Mommy, and then what?’ meaning, ‘what next?’ … I remember gently nudging her and saying ‘Savvy don’t worry about what’s next, just enjoy what’s now. Enjoy this moment.’

How many of you know that sometimes as you speak to someone else’s situation, dysfunction or concern, God is able to speak to your own?

I realized that moment that I’ve been so busy asking myself ‘what’s next?’ that I totally miss out on WHAT’S NOW moments of life.

What’s happening now?

What am I doing now?

How am I feeling now?

How can I live in this moment?

How can I better enjoy this season?

I want to ask myself more often, not what’s next, but rather ‘What’s now, Lori?’

 

Life is so fragile, I want to live with expectation of the future, yes, but also with a commitment to experience the present.

What’s next? I’m not sure. I might never be, in fact, it might never even come… But what’s now? That I do know, that I can see, that I will live in.

This post isn’t to belittle the planner, the thinker, the goal setter; I am that person. It’s more of an invitation to this awareness that while we can expect great things in the future, we can also appreciate this moment now.

I don’t want to be so farsighted that I miss this moment looking into what could be the next. I also don’t want to be so focused on what was that I miss out on what is.

I want to enjoy this season of life, of love, of marriage, of ministry, of mothering. What’s next? I’m not completely sure, but I do know that what I do now, how I invest now, what I believe now, what I live now, will determine if the next ever gets here.

For me, my now is embracing this place of amateur writing, embracing the sleepless nights, the toddler tantrums, the stretching belly, the extra pounds, the routine of life and marriage. I’m embracing the unknown yet very familiar, steady season I’m in.

I don’t want to miss a moment of it. I don’t want to leave an ounce of opportunity for this season because I’m fixed on what’s next. I want what God has for me now.

TRIGGERED

Have you ever stopped in a moment and prayed something like this;

‘Lord, give me patience to deal with them!’

‘Jesus, please help me get through this meeting with this group of crazies!’

‘God, I am SO ANNOYED and frustrated, help me to be at peace.’

‘God, what is wrong with people!?’

If you’re like me, you pray prayers like this all the time desperately trying to get through the madness we face on a regular basis. Sometimes these desperate prayers just come out, quick and easy, without any thought or effort but lately, it’s been different for me. When I find myself praying these prayers, asking God things like ‘What is wrong with these people?!’ I feel the Holy Spirit nudging me towards a different kind of question…  Questions like ‘Why does this trigger me?’

Since I started to get this little leading from the Lord, I’ve been asking myself over, and over (and OVER) again- this very question.  ‘Lord, why does this trigger me?’

 

Asking the right questions has helped me to get to the root of MY ISSUE and become more accountable, rather then pointing the finger at someone else and expecting God to ‘fix them’ or change my situation.

Today I had yet another ‘God, why does this trigger me?’ moment.

I was dropping my daughter off at school already feeling frustrated that the morning derailed and turned into a yelling and crying match. I walk in and Sav’s teacher begins with the small talk, ‘How are you? How are you feeling?’ and then continues to tell me all about Savannah’s progress with her letters.

Now for the sake of back story, this wasn’t the first time I heard this. The first was via progress report that was sent home. After reading the progress report and the recommendations the first time, I was upset and frustrated.  I thought of everything I would say to this teacher. Things like;

‘I would like to see the curriculum you’re teaching.’

‘What’s your plan to give Sav’s letter memory more attention during the school day?’

‘How often are you doing letters throughout the week?’

But when she began to speak, I just teared up with Savannah, standing next to me full of smiles and totally unaware of what was happening. I think all she heard was the great job she was doing with most of her letters and totally disregarded the portion about the letters she didn’t know. In an effort to keep it together, for Savvy’s sake at least, I just nodded my head in agreement, kissed Savannah good-bye and then left to my car where I cried my way to work.

‘Why did this trigger you?’ I felt the Holy Spirit ask me in my no words, tear filled moment.

Why did this trigger me? Why was I losing my mind over this moment? I reasoned with myself that my husband and I sacrifice a lot financially to put her in this school, we wanted the best for her, isn’t this their job? And that’s why I felt frustrated. Then I thought about how she would be starting Kindergarten next year and I wondered ‘will she be prepared?’ Being that kindergarten is about 7 months out, this was a premature concern so then the question remains, what is it? Why did this trigger me?

As I drove, guilt the weight of this world began to crush me.

–          I should have more time to work with her.

–          If I wasn’t working full time, I would- I could!

–          If I could just be there for her more, this wouldn’t be an issue.

There it was, the trigger; the feeling of ‘being a full- time employee makes me a part time Mom’ guilt.

I was so upset because I felt like it’s all my fault, I felt like I can’t be there for her the way I want to be because I’m working, I felt like life will always make me choose and I can never, ever have the best of both worlds, someone or something will always feel the burden of this sacrifice.

Ugh. I hate this trigger. Of all the triggers, this is the worst because it attacks one of the things I hold dearest to me, motherhood.

I wish I could say in that moment, I shook it off, moved on and forgot all about it. I wish it was that simple, but it’s not. I felt frustrated, sad, even confused. Even as I pen this note, I’m asking the Holy Spirit ‘so what’s the answer?’

And all I hear is this; GRACE.

There is grace for this place. There is grace for this life. There is grace for this, not just for me but for my children, for my husband. I believe firmly that when you are called to something, anything – whether its motherhood, marriage, ministry, a job or career, school or training- whatever it is, when you are called to that, the Lord graces you for the journey as well as those who are meant to be on the journey with you.

For example, I know that I KNOW my husband is graced for me and my life as I am for his. Going to school, the personal aspirations I have, the fact that I was a dozen babies (joking- kinda), he is graced for that because he is meant to be on this journey with me.

Today, I’m reminded that my girls are also graced for this journey. Out of all the wombs that God could have placed sweet Savannah in, He chose mine. And that sweet and sassy baby girl is graced for this journey. She is graced to have a mom in the workforce, she is graced to be raised by parents in ministry, she is graced for this life because when God chose me as her mother, He graced her to be my daughter and when He chose her as my daughter, He graced me as her mother.

God didn’t slip, fall and drop her into my lap, or womb for that matter. This was a precise decision made in Heaven and if it makes sense there, surely it’ll make sense here.

Maybe you’re not a mother or this isn’t your struggle but I would challenge you that we all have triggers. This was my trigger today, other days my triggers vary. What’s your trigger?

I just want to encourage someone today who’s been triggered by something and it’s sending you into a spiral of frustration and guilt-  you’re graced for this! And so are your children, your spouse and the people who are meant to be on this journey with you.

Be a good steward of what’s before you. All of it. Don’t resent or despise it because God, in all His wisdom chose you for this path. Is He, I mean could He, ever possibly be wrong? I think not.

STOP THE SNOOZE

12 days into the New Year and can you believe I haven’t actually written down any ‘New Year Resolutions’ until now? Sinful, right!?

I guess for me; my own personal New Year is my birthday!! And that’s when I sit down, plan out my own personal new year, set goals, deadlines, expectations and prayer petitions. My birthday is in May so by the time the actual New Year rolls around I feel like I’m just getting over the halfway point of my REAL new year and I’m not really ready (or willing) to make new plans! Instead, I usually stop and reflect on where I am, how I’ve been doing and if I’ll meet my goals by May.

This particular year however has been different for me and I find myself thinking about resolutions more then normal. I mean, what’s the big deal?? Why do we give this big glass ball so much power and place so much pressure on ourselves to perform when the clock hits midnight?

I really don’t know. I think it’s a combination of hope and expectation and the belief that at the start of something new (a new year, a new day, a new relationship) things can be different. This idea that life can drastically change and all your dreams can quickly become reality.

So this year after not really putting much effort into my own, I was driving on the highway (after another semi- crazy morning) for my regular double drop off routine just thinking;

‘Why do I keep doing this?’

‘Why must I torture myself?’

‘Day after day, week after week, month of after month, I just can’t seem to get this one thing together!’

‘BUT WHYYYY?!’

You’re probably wondering at this point what I’m talking about, why do I do what?..

SNOOZE!! Why do I hit that horrid, chaos inducing, demon button called ‘the snooze button’.

Is the extra 9 minutes (x4) of restless, partial sleep really worth the rush? The frustration? The late start and hectic beginning to our day?

I would have to say, no, no it’s absolutely not.

During this internal contemplation, the Holy Spirit ever so graciously chimed in; Don’t you see what this is doing to you? You have no sense of urgency; you’ve become desensitized and complacent. It’s easy for you to put off for later what needs to be done now and it’s not isolated to your snooze button each morning either.

Can you say ‘shots fired?!’

WHOA! I wasn’t even asking you! (Ok, I’m so sorry Holy Spirit- I appreciate your love and correction towards me, I was just caught off guard)

But seriously- WHOA! I really wasn’t expecting that, at all. And as much as I felt the sting, it felt right; it felt like that correction fit my dysfunction.

I do snooze every- single- morning (literally). But I snooze much more than my alarm clock on a daily basis.

I snooze the dreams God has given me.

I snooze the plans He’s placed on my heart.

I snooze the purpose He’s given me.

I snooze the divine moments where He wants me to catch something, see something and I’m just ‘too tired’ for it.

I snooze those hard decisions I’m not ready to make.

I snooze the tough stuff that is easily over looked rather then addressed.

Gosh, I snooze a lot!!!

In that moment, I decided it’s time to stop the snooze. It’s time to arise, fully awake and ready at the right time. Not at my time, not when I’m ready but rather when the alarm goes off. When the Holy Spirit says NOW. When I feel the push, when I get that nudge, when there’s a little stir within me; that’s the time. Not 9 minutes or even 9 months later, the time is right in that moment.

I felt convicted that day because I realized how much I really snooze. Starting first thing in the morning. That’s literally how I start my day! That is the tone I set, the very first act of every new day is procrastination and procrastinator is the last word I want to be used when describing me or my life.

Motivated.

Determined.

Committed.

Consistent.

Persistent.

Relentless.

Those are the kind of words I want to describe me and guess what, none of them come from snoozing life away.

So there it goes; my one and only New Year resolution; stop the snooze. In every single way possible.

When the urge to sleep for five more minutes comes, I won’t fall for it.

When the Netflix prompts me to play another episode, I won’t sit for it.

When the Holy Spirit presses on my soul, I won’t ignore it.

I refuse to be a woman whose life can be described as lax or passive.

Change, success and all things worth something don’t come from a passive posture, they must be pursued. I promise stop the snooze and pursue Jesus, life, love and purpose with all that I have, in every single way possible. Will you join me? What have you been snoozing? It’s time to wake up, face the day, own your moment and pursue purpose with all that you have.

It’s time to stop the snooze.