JOIN THE JOURNEY

On April 24th 2011 at 3:00am my life changed forever. In the darkness of the basement, in the still of the night, I heard a voice, a call, a purpose. In that moment, from a deep sleep I was suddenly awakened.

‘It was never my will for you to live defeated.

It is my will for you to experience this for a season, conquer and share.

I am more than sufficient.’

Just like that, I knew my purpose in life wasn’t to just ‘get by’, it wasn’t just to survive; I knew that morning that my life would consist of more than the mundane and that through my journey and through my process, I would encourage and inspire others to see that we are all made for more, we’re all created to flourish.

I remember later that morning I went to church and I told my best friend what happened to me. I was terrified. I didn’t feel excited, I didn’t feel qualified, I felt terrified. If I remember correctly, outside of my husband, that was the first and last conversation about this night that I would have for years.

People would ask ‘What do you think God has called you to do?’.. Rather than respond with the truth, I would sheepishly shrug my shoulders and say ‘I don’t know’… But I did know. I knew exactly what God called me to do; He called me to WRITE!

I knew in the depths of my soul that I was called to a specific journey, at a specific time, for a specific reason and my mission would be to take those around me on that journey through my writing in a way that inspires and encourages change, growth and development.

This blog is an invitation to join me. Join me a journey through motherhood, marriage, ministry, continuing education & career exploration. Join me through life’s ups and downs, through the good and bad, we can explore faith, hope and love, relationships, disappointments, fears and failures together.

My life isn’t perfect and it’s definitely not easy, but my hope is that it will be inspiring to all those who think they are alone. Together we are better.

If you’re interested in joining me on this journey, please click the link below to follow my blog. I’ll be posting both traditional blogs as well as video blogs about everything and anything. Like what you hear? Drop a note, leave a comment, share a post! Whatever works for you, but I would love to know that you’re there, that you’re listening.

Xo… Lori

BECOMING

Have you ever been in a relationship that left you feeling disappointed?  Used? Unsatisfied? Hurt? Mistreated? Forgotten? Left out? Under- appreciated? Un-noticed? Judged? Or misused?

Maybe this stems from a parent who abandoned you, a sibling who rejected you, friends who disappointed you, a spouse that violated your trust or family members who felt more like strangers. Although this might look different for many of us, the reality is, we’ve all experienced relational disappointment at some time in our life. It’s that soul crushing experience that leaves our expectations unfulfilled and our hearts broken and half empty.

I’ve realized in the last several months that one of my biggest struggles has come from expecting far more from others then they were willing {or capable} of giving and because of this I’ve found myself stuck in the darkness of relational disappointment.

‘I thought they would understand.’

‘I thought they would have support me.’

‘I thought they would have been there for me.’

‘I thought they were dependable’

‘I thought they were loyal’

‘I thought they were a Christian!’

‘I thought they could be trusted’

My list could go on forever, and your list might look different but these are a few from my own personal experiences.

I love deeply, I’m loyal and I give my whole heart and mind to things and people regularly. My general expectation is that others would meet that same need for me and the standard would be reciprocated but far too often the reality has been something totally different and at times the results have been earth shattering to me.

My list of ‘I thought’ quickly turned into phrases like;

‘I should have known better’

‘They’re all the same’

‘I knew it’

‘How could I have been so stupid’

‘This is why I don’t let people in’

And so on and so on. Feelings of brokenness, regret and frustration overtake my mind and cloud my judgment. Before I know it, I’m surrounded by a sea of ‘should have, could have, would have’s [&] ‘they will never fool me twice’ thoughts.

Unfortunately relational disappointment is real and no matter how awesome a person is, they are still just human and they will disappoint you. The key is getting through this disappointment better, not bitter.

Through the brokenness, through the emptiness, through the hurt and through the pain I have realized that maybe, just maybe the ‘friend’ I was searching for, the relationship I was missing isn’t actually missing at all. Maybe what I’m looking for is just hidden within me. Maybe the longing I had was really a longing to see the woman deep within me revealed. Maybe the disappointment that I faced wasn’t because of what others couldn’t be, but rather an underlying feeling of what I should be and couldn’t seem to express.

Could it be that the friend I’ve been looking for all this time was hidden deep within me?..

Could it be that what I was looking in others was actually nestled deep within my own soul?..

The person who loves and encourages me, the one who motivates and inspires me, the one who sees the best in me and pulls it out. The person who is trust worthy, faithful and kind, fierce and strong, wise and courageous. Could it be that that person is within me, waiting to be discovered?

The world needs more love, more joy, more hope, more peace, more encouragement, more inspiration, more consistency. Could it be that you are the very expression of those things that this world is missing?

After countless disappointment and endless frustration, I realized something. If I couldn’t find her, I would be become her.

I would be the very expression of all things lovely that I desperately wanted to see within my friends, my family and my community. I would wait no longer to find it, I would simply be it.

While I am waiting, so is the world… I couldn’t find her, so I became her.

SHE IS

Lately I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed and slightly stressed about life. I’ve been thinking about all the things I need to do (or should stop doing), my personal ‘to do’ list has become a ‘to dread’ list and I’ve just been feeling different. Things that shouldn’t bother me, do and things that use to bring me joy, don’t. I began to reflect on a blog I wrote called Surely shortly before my first daughter was born. The Lord had strengthened me and enlarged my faith so much through that post, but today, I didn’t feel as strong as I did in that season.

Knowing that God is the same, I can admit the only difference between then and now must be hidden within me. Acknowledging that and realizing that these feelings and my perspective would take my life in a direction I did not intend to go, I’ve decided to make a very conscious decision to start my days earlier and fix my focus before life fixes it for me.

For me this process has been waking up before my daughters and having my first cup of coffee with Jesus. In the peaceful, quiet, stillness of my home I’ve been intentional about fixing my heart and mind heavenward before life gave me an opportunity to do otherwise.

This particular morning I decided to go back to the good and faithful Proverbs 31 woman. I love this piece of scripture because it embodies a woman that I do not yet know personally, yet my heart feels close to her. She inspires so many women and yet in her day to day duties, she probably had no idea anyone was watching her, let alone that people would be talking about her all this time later.

As I read, I began to write;

–          She is valuable

–          She lacks nothing

–          She is consistent

–          She is wise

–          She is an investor

–          She helps others

–          She is considerate and compassionate

–          She is a hard worker

–          She is resourceful

–          She is business savvy

–          She is diligent

–          She is prepared

–          She faces life like a boss

–          She gets her hands dirty

–          She is brave

–          She is wise

–          She is well articulated

–          She is fearless

–          She is resourceful

–          She likes beautiful things

–          She brings honor to her husband

–          She represents the Lord well

–          She takes care of others

–          She also takes care of herself

–          She is confident

–          She fills her life with things that have purpose

–          She is authentic

–          She is loved

–          She is honored

–          She is rewarded

–          Because she fears the Lord, she fears nothing else.

When I came to the end of the passage I felt the Lord whisper to my heart ‘Look at all that she is. There is no mention of what she is not’.

For me this subtle whisper gave me hope, gave me peace and gave me permission to exhale. I am constantly fixated on growth and progress which means often times I can fixate on what I’m not, what I need to fix and where I’m lacking. Yet here I read scripture after scripture not about what she doesn’t do, but rather all about what she does do.

This passage focuses on the strengths, not shortcomings.

I’m reminded this morning to focus on what I can do, what I should do, who I am, who I will one day be, and not on everything I’m not.

This women wasn’t perfect, she couldn’t have been, none of us are but she focused on the right things at the right time and because of that, she was successful. She knew whom she served and because of that, she knew who she was. Did she face confusion? Insecurities? Doubt? I’m sure but unlike many of us, it’s likely that she faced it and moved on. Those things may have been a speed bump on her journey, but they surely would not become a road block. She got over it, she moved on, and she focuses on important things, fruitful things an d because of that, she is a hero to women who never even knew her.

Today I’m encouraged to face ‘it’ but to move on. I hope you are too.

MY BEST YES

Seven years ago today my life changed forever.

I woke up like any other day, to the sound of “Amazed” by Lonestar on the radio alarm. I went to work at my first job, planning to work at my second job right after. It was a regular Friday, or so I thought.

After talking with my sister-in- law that afternoon I knew my second job wasn’t an option.

“I’m preaching!” She said. “I really want you to be there, I’m really excited about this message.” She added. “And besides that, it’s Reuben’s first night playing the drums. I’m sure he would love for you to be there.”

Later I got a call from my best friend, “What are you doing tonight? I want to come to church with you.” The story was; her and her boyfriend were fighting and she wanted to get away. I still don’t know if that was even remotely true, but in the moment I thought “SURE. I would love for you to come with me!!”

My parents and brother wanted to join us as well; they wanted to see Reuben play the drums for the first time. How could I say no? This would be a family affair and a night to remember..

Just like that, I swapped shifts and I was getting ready for Friday night youth service. I didn’t go to many of these, being a waitress meant I worked Friday and Saturday nights, after working my regular office job during the weekdays. But tonight seemed different, so I went for it.

The service ended and the Pastor called us up “Reuben and Lori will be traveling this weekend, let’s pray for traveling graces.” With every head bowed and every eye closed (or so I thought) we prayed. Then, as I opened my eyes there he was; on one knee, box opened, ring shinning.

“Will you marry me?” He said.

“YES!” I exclaimed.

Camera flashes going off all over the sanctuary, clapping, cheering; a roar of excitement irrupted in the sanctuary. We had been high school sweet hearts and had the spent the last 5 years together. We had loved each other, hated each other, laughed, cried, grew and matured and now we stood there, as adults ready to make the biggest decision of our lives.

He hugged me as tight as he could, and as he held me as close as I could get, and then he whispered; “The real question is, will you marry me tomorrow?”

“WHAT?!” I said abruptly.

I think he could see the panic in my face and the concern in my voice. Before I could utter another word he said “Just trust me. I promise, everything will be ok.”

And just like that, I said yes. Again.

Less than 24 hours later I was ready to walk down an aisle I did not lay down, in a sanctuary I did not decorate, surrounded by people I did not invite, in a wedding dress I did not buy, to meet my soon to be husband at the end of an aisle where we would begin the rest of our lives together.

Now, if you know me you know I’m a planner and never in my wildest dreams would I expect to get married, with a less than 24 hour engagement and a ceremony and reception I had nothing to do with planning, and yet, here I was. Standing in a church where the sanctuary was decorated, the room was packed; I had a wedding cake, flower girls, food, a dress, a bouquet. I had everything we needed for a wedding and I didn’t have a single thing to do with it.

I walked down the aisle with my father where I met my husband, brother, mother and soon to be brother- in- law (who married us, his FIRST wedding ever!!) We said our I Do’s and that was it!

We were married.

I thought that day getting married was my best yes, my craziest yes, my scariest yes and the most important yes of my life.

Yet 7 years later, marriage has taught me that it’s not about the first yes, or the second yes or even the third, fourth and fifth yes. It’s all about the daily yes you commit to saying for life.

The commitment to say YES when life doesn’t go the way you planned.

The commitment to say YES when the job is gone.

The commitment to say YES when the house falls through.

The commitment to say YES when the dreams are shattered.

The commitment to say YES when the house is a mess.

The commitment to say YES when marriage isn’t the solution to loneliness as you expected.

The commitment to say YES when the picture you see doesn’t look like the “box” you picked up.

The commitment to say YES when money is low and bills are due.

The commitment to say YES when stress is high.

The commitment to say YES when the grass looks greener on the other side.

 

The daily yes.

Yes, I will honor you.

Yes, I will love you.

Yes, I will cherish you.

Yes, I will pray for you.

Yes, I will support you.

Yes, I will be there for you unconditionally.

Yes, I will be by your side when no one else is.

If you spend your relationship waiting for the next milestone, you’ll always be disappointed. You’ll always feel like something is missing. But if you learn to love intentionally and without reservation, you’ll find that the journey is better than the destination and the daily yes is your best yes.

Today I celebrate that marrying my husband was my first yes, is my last yes and will forever be my best daily yes.

YOU TOO ARE LOVED

It’s amazing how quickly time passes us by. To think just one short week ago I was sitting in the hospital with my little one, staring intently at her, in awe and wonder of her beauty.

Reuben had left for church, the room was quiet and I just sat on my hospital bed staring at Savannah, admiring every last detail of her.

“Savannah, I love you so much!” I said with tears welded up in my eyes.

“You are amazing. You are gorgeous in every way! Savannah you came OUT OF ME! You are a special piece of me. I hope you get everything that is good from me, and bypass all the bad. Savannah, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for you! To keep you safe. To keep you happy and healthy. I promise you baby, no harm will come your way as long as I can help it! You are a treasure, straight from heaven& I will always hold you close and dear to my heart. There is nothing you could ever do that would make me love you any more or any less. My love for you is limitless and unconditional. You have my heart baby girl and that will never, ever change.

Tears running down my face it suddenly made sense.

God loves me.

He really, really loves ME. It felt as if during that time I spoke over my daughter, God began to speak the same words of affirmation over me. In that moment, as close as she felt to me, I felt to God. I knew that He held me close, and sustained me in every way necessary.

Years of church, loving God and knowing He loved me suddenly made more sense than it ever had before.

GOD LOVES ME!!! Not because of what I have or haven’t done, not because I love Him or because He has to, He loves me just because I am His. I am a piece of HIM!

As I looked at my daughter, I felt such an overwhelming feeling, I literally felt swaddled in love. The new found love for my daughter as well as this revelation of God’s love for me rushed through me, over taking and filling every last empty part of me.

It’s hard to understand this love.. Even as I look at her, I think of my husband and how many years it took for us to truly, love each other the “right way”, I think of all the people I’ve encountered whom I wanted to love, or should love, but just couldn’t. Love hasn’t always come easy for me. It was something I knew but at times, the reality escaped me. And now, suddenly, in a split second, it made more sense then it ever had before!!

It’s amazing how one moment, one touch, one look, one encounter could change all of that. In one single instant, it all made sense.

I feel like with this revelation, another piece of heaven has opened up over my life. I am now not only aware, but convinced that God’s love for me is like no other love I will ever know. It is real, tangible, unearnable and irrevocable.

I am His. And He is mine.

It is my hope and prayer that in someway, God’s love for you will be exposed in a real, tangible way as well. Maybe you have children, and you can relate to this, maybe you don’t. Either way, I know that God is big enough to meet you in this moment, in the exact way you need Him to and speak to your heart in a way that will make sense to you, just to show you that you too are loved. You too are cherished. You too hold a piece of God’s heart within you that He will always love and hold dear.

You too are loved.

SURELY

Most days I wake up and literally can’t believe this is my life.. I feel so thankful and blessed for everything around me. Grateful for how God has transformed my life and grateful that He has made the little I had into something more beautiful than I could have ever hoped for or imaged.

I look at my growing belly, past the itchy stretch marks, heaviness and discomfort I see the most precious gift I could ever be given. The gift of life. I wonder how God could have found me fit or suitable enough to place this miracle within me. I wonder how I could be so lucky to have such an amazing husband. He is so talented, supportive, caring and considerate. He’s given me a sense of stability and structure that my heart has always longed for, knowing that he is always in my corner, rooting me on has given me such confidence to pursue my dreams, words can not even describe how thankful I am for him. I wake up every day in such a beautiful home, a wonderful job, fabulous friends and family. Most times, I don’t understand how I can be SO blessed.
 
I know that it’s not because of anything I’ve done. I know that I could never do enough to make myself worthy of all that God has blessed me with. I realize that it’s by His grace alone I’m able to have more than I deserve.
 
When I stop and think about grace, a very simple picture comes to mind.. (if you know me, you know I need an illustration for everything!) I envision myself, standing, looking towards the heavens at all of God’s goodness and glory, His love and mercy, and it just seems so far from me, close enough to see it and yearn for it but too far to touch it! And then I see grace. I believe grace is the substance that bridges the gap from where I am to where God is. Grace fills in everything that I can’t. It makes a way to a destination that would otherwise be impossible to reach. It makes the impossible, possible.
 
With all that I have, I still wake up every morning knowing that there is so much more to come. I turn over and see the most amazing man I know laying by my side (in case you didn’t know, I think my husband is absolutely wonderful and I’ll never stop saying it), my daughter flipping in my belly and I think “wow, could it get any better?”..
 
Something inside of me always whispers, “Yes. It can and it will”.
 
Now, I don’t say this to brag, or because I’m arrogant or conceited. I don’t even say it because my life is perfect or because I have no lack or struggle, that’s not the truth either. I say this because I can look across the balance of my life, the good and the bad, and still know that each portion is a blessing, not a burden. I’m a woman who chooses to talk about my joys and not my struggles, my hope and not my fears, my future and not my failures. If that is offensive, that’s unfortunate.
 
As my pregnancy comes to an end I’m filled with excitement and anticipation about the newest addition to our family. Filled with awe and wonder, I think what will it be like? Will I be a good mother? Will my husband and I provide for our daughter? Will we lead and direct her in the ways that she should go? Will I be a good example of a Christian women? Will my relationship with God be something she is attracted to or will she try to deflect God because of my example? Will my marriage remain stable and strong? Will my house stay in order? Will I still be able to write? Can I possibly be as active in ministry as I believe I’m called to be WHILE raising a child? Will I be the mother my daughter deserves?

 

As all these questions run through my mind, I can honestly say, I don’t have much of an answer for any of them. I really don’t know what things will be like, I don’t know what’s going to happen, I don’t know where this road will take me. I can see where I am, I can see where I’m going, but the road to get there is still a blur.. In the midst of all the confusion, there is one thing that rings in my heart, loud and clear, the one thing that keeps me confident, the still, small voice that whispers:
 
“Surely there is enough grace.”
 
I realize that before I was a wife, a leader, a teacher, a writer, a mother, a friend, a sister, an aunt, an employee before I was any of these things, I was simply: Daughter
 
Realizing that being a Daughter to the Father is what I was first called to do, and being His Daughter will be my only eternal title, brings me peace that no matter what other “titles” I hold in between, Daughter came first and Daughter will be last. I may not know exactly what this journey will look like but I know that grace will bridge the gap of where I am, and where I need to go.
 
Maybe this life is impossible, maybe I do have unrealistic expectations OR maybe, just MAYBE I have come to the realization that with man it may be impossible, but with God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.
 
As I enter into this new chapter of life I’m convinced I will find success and balance, peace and joy. My prayer each day is “Not by my strength, but by YOUR grace.” and surely, there is enough grace……….