April 19, 2014

Million tiny deaths


Today, I turn twenty-seven and while most people want to sit around and celebrate another year older, this birthday hurts me. Twenty-seven in ways feels like a million tiny deaths, deaths to my dreams and plans for myself. Death to the idea that I would have kids at 26. Somehow, this birthday and this realization stings more than it has before. As a child, I grew up thinking....graduate school at 22, married at 22/23, start having kids at 26. And somehow, even though none of those other factors happened according to that timeline, I still held onto the notion that kids at 26 was still within grasp. Even up until this week, I held on hope that I am still 26 and we could still get pregnant at 26. Then, in a whirlwind of a cycle, all those hopes of 26 were dashed and the sad realization hit me, I will not see kids at 26. Twenty-seven stares at me as this unimaginable age, taunting me with what I don't have, what I didn't accomplish. I know it sounds melodramatic, most people don't like aging, but this time its different. This time, I have to die to those hopes and dreams knowing that somehow, my plans won't be achieved. I know that God has bigger plans, that don't look anything like I imagine, but dying to myself and my plans is often a long, painful process. So, on the day I turn 27, I cringe inside, I die a little. Ironically, today, I teach a Bible Study with a topic none other than "surrender". I find it all too fitting and myself far from qualified to teach it, but here is to new starts, surrendering that plan of a "perfect" little life to the Maker of the stars, the Creator of my dreams. Here's to 27!

April 18, 2014

When Good Friday doesn't feel so "good"

Today, I feel a strange burden....a burden that longs to live for myself, to sit in my wants and desires and not focus on all that Christ has done for me on this day. In my flesh, I want to sit here and cry out, "WHY"! Why all this pain, why all this suffering, why all these unfulfilled earthly dreams to have children. Why Lord have I felt pregnant for the past month all to have it end in negative pregnancy tests and a painful period? Why do I let my hopes rise in anticipation each time my breasts feel abnormally sore? Why do I subconsciously make myself feel nauseous when I get hints of life growing inside of me?

And then I think, it is the blood coming through me that is cleansing me, removing all the build up. And that is just me in my earthly body living this. But you, you lived and died. You suffered immeasurably more than I can ever comprehend. You, being fully God, still begged the Father to remove the horrible suffering you would endure. You, Lord, were jut like me, human. As humans, we don't like pain, we don't like suffering. As humans, we want comfort and happiness. But Lord, you knew what was to come. You knew the freedom and the peace that your death would bring. You knew that God would redeem it all. You saw the end and you knew it was far worth the moments you would suffer. And so, in prayer and surrender you cried out to the Father, "Not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42). With that breath, you committed it all to His purpose and His plan. 

Why is it so hard to let go? Moment by moment, surrender is hard. A life surrendered to God takes momentary conscious efforts to pull off, and even at that we will fail. We will still slip up, we will sin and we will turn to our own understanding and devices trying to make sense of this world. Christ saw that, He knew it. He knew the big sins and the little. He knew those moments I would trust Him and those where my faith in the unseen falters. He knew that everything inside me would disqualify me from a right relationship with Him and yet He saw my value and He loved me even while I was in sin (Romans 5:8). He died for me, all of me. And when I keep sinning and doubting and wanting, He keeps pouring out His grace over my life, holding me closely. I know apart from Christ, my life is nothing. I would be bound for a lifetime of eternal suffering apart from Him. It is for Him that I truly live and for His hope of one day seeing Him face to face, worshiping alongside the One who gave everything for me. Oh Lord, I need you! I need you to keep redeeming me, to extend more grace in my failures and to look at me through the blood of your Son because alone, I am a sinner in need of a Savior. His blood, it cleanses me, restores me and gives me life. Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice, for your surrender, for your undying love. 

Lord, I come, I confess

Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus, You're my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

You're my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You"

Matt Maher, Lord I Need You

March 27, 2014


Image via Jennie Allen

Good evening sweet ladies, for the past 6 months, God has been introducing me and stretching me in the areas of living ALL OUT for Him. It involves surrender to Him, but even more than that, it means willing to be used by Him with the giftings and talents He has given us to ultimately glorify Him and serve others. So often, we find ourselves wandering or stagnant in our callings because we simply don’t know how to use them, or for starters, what those callings even are. I know there are women out there, my closest friends, family, complete strangers, that find themselves in this same boat, that want to do more and be more for God, but don’t know where to start. We are “restless” and we don’t have to be! Christ has made us free to live for Him!

So here’s where God starts calling me out of my comfort zone and into obedience and dependence on Him. For the next however many weeks, I am calling you to join me in a quest, a quest to start discovering your gifts and callings, a quest of unleashing God’s potential in your lives. Every Saturday morning, my home will be opened up for whoever wants to join us. Come one, come all. Young, old. Moms, single. Only requirement - no boys allowed! We will be working through the book “Restless”, by Jennie Allen. This won’t be a Bible study so much as a book study, but trust me there is no way we can get into these topics without being laced with Scripture. Each week, we will cover a couple chapters and work through some questions. Things are about to get vulnerable, but my desire is that as a community of believers, we can help uplift each other to love God and serve Him with all that we have. Will you join me?

Pretty soon, I will be setting up a Facebook group where we can interact, ask questions and work through materials together. We will also figure out a time that works best so the most women can join us. And, for those that don’t live here in CO, you can still join us in online community as we sort through figuring out this life God has blessed us with.

Please, please, please be in prayer about all these details as they come together. I am nervous, but I don’t want to be fed lies that keep me stagnant in what God is teaching me. I cannot wait to dig deeper with you as we look at your life, your callings and helping lift you up wherever God may be calling you. I love you all so dearly and hope you will consider joining us.

***If you are interested in joining us, send me a quick comment and I will make sure to include you in any future Facebook updates.***

March 22, 2014

the path I didn't plan for

This week, I had my annual performance review at work (my first one with my new company....eek!). Honestly, I truly hate performance reviews. It isn't so much I hate what they say, I couldn't agree more (for the most part) with my manager's assessment. It's just this....I HATE FEEDBACK. Good or bad feedback, I hate it. It makes me feel uncomfortable. If it is celebrations for things I have done right, I feel like shrinking into my shell and saying, stop! I don't take compliments well, I just don't. I don't know how to respond, what to say or do. Am I looking arrogant? Do I look shocked? Do I even look like I care what you are saying? And then negative feedback, well it crushes me...so I shy away from it too. I hear negative things and my emotions start flowing, even if it is perfectly true about me. So awkwardly, I put up with performance reviews and hope that my managers never see through to my insecurities.

However, this year, my boss (who is AWESOME!) got really personal in my performance review. My boss truly cares about me and my development, both at work and personal life alignment. He is passionate about helping develop people in that way. And so, while we talked for a bit about my performance, a lot of the review was surrounding me, what I see as my next steps, what I feel fulfilled doing, areas that I want to pursue...and he left us with the assumption that working through these questions will take time to sort through. Together, we can build my career however I may want.

It got to thinking about it last night. There were so many things I could have said, would have said...but my mind doesn't work that way. I am horrible with spur-of-the-moment responses. I always have to leave, process and then I know what to say. But the truth is, what I want to say, could be risky to my career or to helping me advance within my company, but it's the truth simple as that. And parts of it, I don't know if I have ever fully even acknowledged to myself. Here is what I want to tell him, here is my heart as it relates to work and why these questions are so hard for me to wrap my mind around.

Chad, I'm being really vulnerable and real here. You asked and so I feel the need to tell. But, you may struggle with me dreaming or planning about what next steps are in my career. It's not that I don't have dreams, but they are different. I've never really told a boss this, but I know you care and you want to help see me succeed here in whatever direction I want to go. So I think you deserve to know what motivates me or not here.  

I never for one moment growing up ever thought I would have a career,. I grew up knowing one thing I wanted and that was to be a stay-at-home-mom. It was never about work for me, although I am good at picking a task and setting my mind to doing it and doing it well. For years my husband and I have struggled to start a family and it has really hurt to see that my dream of having kids may not be now, may not be ever. And I know God has a plan for that part of my life, but it spills over into my work life. Right now God has blessed me with work and clearly this is where he wants me right now and so I pursue it with a passion, but I struggle looking at all that could be before me and knowing what road to take because I never pictured I would be here today.  

Not sure if any of that makes sense... But I guess what I am saying is the what's next is hard. And I don't share these things openly because I don't want people to doubt my ability, commitment or drive. Because I have it. It's just that my future feels a little blinded because of it all. 

Have you ever had a risky discussion you want to have with a boss? It is so nerve racking! Truth be told, though, I know he cares and wants to help me succeed at work. Oddly, this planner type-A struggles with planning her career path. It's hard to see the options and know what road to take, especially when the stress and travel of higher positions could mean greater impact on our fertility department. Don't you just wish you knew what was coming next, so you didn't worry about which moves to make to get you there? Although, I am sure if you knew what's next, you would be fraught with new worries. Oh Lord, please sustain us in contentment regardless of what season we are in.    

March 20, 2014

My Little Roxy girl

There is no doubt about it....I love my dog. She is my baby buddy and brings so much love and excitement into my life. Boxers have so much personality and spunk. #unashameddoglover

We got Roxy as an early Christmas present for each other over 6 years ago. She has been with us for almost as long as our marriage. Unfortunately, as a boxer, she has tons of health problems, such as allergies, ear problems, etc. Sadly, as she is getting older, it is getting worse. And it isn't just the fact that she is starting to get grey all over her face. In fact, over the past 6 months, we have spent every single one of them with at least one vet visit, some more. And over the past month, it has been a weekly problem. From being put on prednisone permanently for her allergies, to having bladder issues, we started off this year hoping that we had seen an end to this. Except, my traveling seems to get her issues to flare up. What can I say, our little spoiled princess doesn't like it when momma is traveling. Unfortunately, 2014 hasn't been the best year for our little girl. 

January gave her a hematoma in the ear that wouldn't go away. So, the vet put her on a medicine that ultimately 3 weeks later made her completely deaf. Marc realized it while I was on a business trip and stopped it immediately, rinsing her ears and hoping that she would regain some function. Slowly, but surely, her hearing is coming back, although definitely not the same. It is tragic to see her unaffected by knocks on the door. She follows me around constantly and gets frantic when she can't find me. 

Then, as her hearing started improving, I came home from a movie with my mom to find that Roxy had eaten  over 20 oz of dark chocolate covered almonds. For 24 hours straight, we spent caring for her, letting her outside, cleaning up hot chocolate flavored vomit. On top of it all, she was hyperactive due to the caffeine and toxins in her blood. It was terrible! I was up every 30-45 minutes with her for an entire night. It truly felt like having a newborn (maybe worse). Luckily, she started improving just in time for me to leave for my next trip. 

And it continues....we are now getting more into allergy season, complete with seeping eyes, irritated ears, itching....does it ever end? Poor little girl just needs a break. Seeing her sad and hurt just breaks my heart. I can't imagine what this will be like as she gets older. I can't imagine the pain and sadness associated with having to make larger decisions about how to care for her. It makes me want to cry just thinking about it. I love my girl. 

March 17, 2014

The big decision

The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. (Psalm 65:12) 

We have exciting news! We are almost 100% purchasing the farmland. It has been almost exactly one year since we first set eyes on the property. It has been slow moving, but prayer filled as we searched this opportunity to make sure it was where God would want our family to live, serve and grow old. We have felt God's arms throughout the decision, continuing to open doors and direct our hearts.

This is such a huge decision. Planning to purchase land is not an easy decision. It requires understanding the zoning and county rules and regulations for building, water, septic, and so many other items. It requires us to figure out when to build, what to build, where to build. Do we buy the land and wait to build until the land is owned in full? Do we build right away and use the money from our house to help fund the purchase? Do we build our house or hire someone else to do the work? Do we want a farm house or a modern house, brick or stone, red barn or white? Purchasing land without any structures on it leaves so many choices of what to do, I never thought it could be this hard to decide on things. There are so many ideas to throw around, but the one thing we feel certain of, God hasn't closed the doors yet. He wants us there!

Designing potential homes on New Year's 2014

So, we continue meeting with the owners. We are passing drafts of contracts between us and the owners, getting ready to meet with lawyers to finalize the contract and make it all official. In the mean time, parts of the contract include the seller bringing in electricity to the land and us ensuring that water is available. So....now comes the fun and daunting task of figuring out where on the land we want to one day live. It is such a huge decision to make, but after many visits, continually changing locations and much prayer, we think we have finally settled on a location that is perfect! 

Selecting a home location - March 15, 2014

The owners have been away for the past 3 weeks, which has allowed us tons of alone time on the land. It is all starting to finally feel real. This is going to be our land! I cannot wait until we get to live there daily. It is such a relaxing, laid back lifestyle. I cannot wait! Only a few more weeks, potentially, and we will be under contract. In so many ways, this feels like a new start. We are moving the farthest away from family that either of us have permanently lived. This is our new life and its thrilling and scary all at once. Somebody pinch me. I can't believe this is my life! Thank you Lord for this opportunity! 

Final home site location - HOME! 

February 25, 2014

Blessing and Favor

"Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him." - Psalm 127:3

Lately, my heart has been struggling with some concepts. I don't mean to get controversial, but rather just need to get my thoughts out here. I have been reading some books that I absolutely love. They are challenging me spiritually and helping me slowly but surely exit out of the darkness and sadness that was the past year and bringing me back into the person I was before, a person full of joy and hope. Not that I haven't felt either of those emotions over the past year, but overall, I feel like everything was "different" for a season.

I have been hearing a lot in what I read that "God wants to bless you with a baby"....in His timing, when you have stood the testing and learned the lessons. Or, "Someday, God will bless you with a child." I want to believe this idea, this idea of God blessing me with a family, I do. But, I don't believe our God is a God of calculations. It isn't like, "Jessica do this, then I will bless you." And maybe I am just reading into it all wrong, but I am struggling with this whole concept of God wants to bless you. I know God, as a loving, Holy Father wants to lavish us with His love and with gifts beyond what we can comprehend. Yet, I have a hard time thinking that our definition of gifts can even compare to what He has in store for us (1 Cor. 2:9). Hasn't he already given us the greatest Gift we could ever ask for, eternal life, forgiveness of sins and restoration through His Son Jesus Christ (Genesis 15:1, John 3:16)?

"I am your shield, your very great reward.” - Genesis 15:1

In my mind, it is great to think that God wants to give me gifts, grant me the desires of my heart, but I can't be too blind to see that maybe the desires of my heart (my selfish, flesh drawn heart) are dictating what I think God plans to bless me with. What if I am missing out on His much bigger gifts by thinking that the gift at the end of this trial or maybe the next is a baby? What if God is trying to teach me lessons bigger than time and space, to ultimately or not necessarily bless me here on this earth, but bless me into eternity? God's blessing does not always take the form of a baby in my arms. My lack of children right now, does not mean God is withholding blessing or favor from me. He blesses me daily in more ways than I can count, but I need to focus my heart to receive and see those blessings. 

If God is ultimately after His glory, if all I do and say here on this earth is ultimately to bring Him praise (1 Peter 4:11, Psalm 46:10), I believe that His blessing can come in different ways to each of us. To some, it might be in the form of a child (Psalm 127:3). To others, it might be a ministry. To some, it might simply be food to sustain them for another day. Who am I to know in which form God will bless our family? Our wants and desires, He wants to give them to us, but first, we need to make sure that our will and pursuits are chasing wholeheartedly after what He wants, His will (Psalm 37:4, 40:8). In that pursuit of Christ, our desires change and morph into aligning with His plan. He begins to lead and direct the desires of our heart. I think through this surrender and aligning of wills, our ultimate chief end goal becomes the blessing of knowing Christ, understanding His gift and resting in the peace of God's sustaining power (Psalm 63, Phil 3:10-11). 

"I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you." - Psalm 63:2-5

At the end of all this, I must look at my heart. Does my desire for a child outweigh His desire for my life? Am I really after God's best for my life, or just a plan I have made up in my mind that I think will make me happy or bring Him praise? My will and God's plan may line up, but they may be vastly different. I want to be about God's will, whether that leads to my baby or not. If I pursue bringing a baby home above all else, it only becomes an idol to me, a distraction from God's perfect, precious plans. Certainly, God will not bless my idolatry and pursuits with the very item that could be drawing me away from seeking Him first and foremost in my life. This misconception that God wants to bless me by giving me a baby, it can draw me into a place of mistrusting God. It can make you want to give up hope in God when this supposed "blessing" hasn't shown its precious face. We miss sight of what God is doing in the here and now, we miss sight of the blessing He has already bestowed upon us. We are children of a living (1 John 3:1), breathing God that desires nothing more than for us to glorify Him with everything we have, baby or not. When I get to the end of this life on earth, it isn't about how many children I had. It isn't about how I raised my children. My life is to be about God and about what He is working. He has already blessed me, redeemed me through His Son. Anything more really can't compare to that truth. 

February 23, 2014

Deep rambles

Wow, God is challenging me deeply lately. Honestly, my heart feels so content and rested by just living and breathing in His word and through some amazing writers and speakers. His word is alive and active my friends! He is so good not to give up on us, but to keep refining us day by day. Lately, I am convicted in so many areas of my life. I feel He is changing me, molding me. He is pulling me out of a season of what could probably be classified as "despair". He is bringing my feet onto His solid ground, a place to worship and abide in Him. It is freeing!

With all that change and challenge, I continue to work on so many areas.

[my work]
My whole life, I have struggled in the area of work. In college, I never knew what I wanted to study or become when I grew up. I knew I wanted to be a mom, but it felt like selecting a career was just a roadblock on my way to stay-at-home-momdom. It was a pain having to pick something else to do temporarily. So, work has always been just that - something I dislike because it doesn't feel like the direction I always wanted my life to go, just a stepping stone to what I really want to do or be. Then, I started miscarrying on a business trip and my whole view of work changed even more negative. Now, work was a destroyer of everything I had dreamed about. At the end of the day, work drains me and I am exhausted!

Yet lately, I feel challenged to reinvigorate my motivation for why I work. It isn't just something to fill time until I hopefully one day become a mommy. God has called me to work, especially in this moment of my life. He has given me a solid career right now that He commands me to work at diligently each day as if I am working for Him (Col 3:23). I am so thankful for the job He has given to me. Daily, I need to remember why I am doing this, who I am serving. Right now, this is where He has called me, this is the battlefield He has drawn me to. I am sure someday, as I am changing diapers or running kids between sporting events, I will look back and miss the career I had. I don't want to miss all that God is teaching me in this workplace He has called me to.

[my hobbies and free time]
During our first wrestle with infertility and then coming out of the miscarriage, I found myself really struggling most in moments of boredom and quietness. It literally hurt me to be silent or not doing something. It was in those moments that my thoughts would become unbearable and my sadness over loss would seem too much. So, to try and remedy it as much I could, I filled my time and filled it to the max. I found myself doing everything under the sun to try and keep my mind off of what we were going through. 

I am now just starting to see how dangerous that flight pattern has become. Busy-ness isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I feel like being busy for the sake of comforting my hurting heart was not beneficial to me. I created a false type of life to avoid my pain, rather than turning my anxiety over to the One who directs every moment and calms every fear (Phil 4:6-7). I am seeing how delicately we need to treat each thought and take it captive to the very Word of God (2 Cor 10:5). While I was filling my moments, I was taking away from opportunities and silence, where God may have been trying to teach me. 

I heard a wonderful sermon recently, an old John MacArthur sermon about how to make hard decisions easy when they fall into that grey area. You know the ones, the decisions that God doesn't necessarily speak for or against. One of the key questions he calls us to consider is found in Hebrews 12:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. - Hebrews 12:1

He points out that what is hindering us isn't always the same as sin. See, they are both listed separately. Sin isn't the only thing we stumble over in this race. Our lives and our spiritual growth can be hindered, slowed down by other things, unnecessary bulk that weighs us down in the race. 

Now what is "every weight?" The word is onkos. It simply means "bulk...bulk." It isn't sin. It's just needless bulk, something that weighs us down, diverts our priorities, takes our attention, sucks our energy, dampens our enthusiasm for the things of God. - John MacArthur, "Making the hard decisions easy" sermon

And so, I am finding that right now, my life needs a little bit of simplifying. It is okay to not be busy. I am going to survive if I have quietness, time to be alone with my thoughts and God. I am okay if I don't fill each moment of every day. I don't need distractions. I may not need this blog. I may not need to workout. I may not even need my Etsy business. So, if any of those things are getting in the way, they are just bulk and I must push them aside. When I get to it, right now, my heart is longing to hear God's word, to see it played out in my life and to understand what He is teaching me. I don't want to miss it! 

All that to say, God is working on my heart. I don't really know how to process it all or to grasp each and every truth, but I certainly don't want to be distracted from it all. I am still being molded and taught. He isn't done with me yet! 

February 17, 2014

Happy Valentine's!

It has been a busy last few weeks over here. I have secretly been collaborating with some amazingly creative ladies on a styled shoot published on Le Magnifique! The shoot took place on February 1st. It was a snowy day, but we had such an amazing venue that brought in such gorgeous natural light against a lovely backdrop. I so wish that I could design, create, style all day long. This was so refreshing and fun! I have been dying to share all the details with you.

Check out our Little One Paperie blog for all the details and links for your viewing pleasure!!!

And a happy, late Valentines from me!!! Love you!

February 8, 2014

02.08.13 - a year later

Little No. 1, I cannot believe it has been a year already. A year since I saw those two lines and the words "pregnant." I miss you every day. My life has been so greatly impacted by being your mother. 

One year ago, I was not the same person that I am today. God has rocked me to the core, turned my world upside down and taught me some of the greatest lessons I will ever learn. For that, I am so grateful. His grace to redeem our story of brokenness has been filled with His faithfulness and His provision. He has granted strength in those hardest moments, a listening ear when my heart has cried out. He has used our story to help us tell of His story and meaning and joy that can be found even in those moments that hurt. Your appearance one year ago was never a mistake. It was all part of God's grand plan and I cannot wait to get to Heaven one day and see how intimately bigger than me this whole plan was. 

As one year ago, we celebrated over God's provision of you, today my heart will continue to celebrate what God is doing and will continue to do until we finally meet face-to-face. Love you forever sweetie. 

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."  Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV