Fighting the Post-Thanksgiving Slump//Loving, Listening, Reading

I don’t know about you, but the days post-holidays are usually a slump for me. I am a big holiday girl so I often have to fight for the joy once the fun and excitement of the holidays have passed.

To do that, here’s a quick reflection on what I am loving, listening, and reading lately.

LOVING//It goes without saying, but I am L-O-V-I-N-G the holidays! For me, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. I love traditions, snow, food, and family. I also love reflecting on the humble beginnings of Jesus. This season just begs me to slow down and remember (even though I am not so good at that!). It is such a special season in every sense.

LISTENING//I am so tempted to make this entire post dedicated to the holidays and say I am listening to Christmas music on repeat, but I won’t. Some of my favorites that are gracing my ears lately include Lauren Daigle’s newest album, Annie F. Down’s podcast That Sounds Fun, and Christy Nockel’s podcast Glorious in the Mundane. I also LOVE IF Lead’s Spotify playlist – SO GOOD. Love it even more that my son asks for his worship music at bed time!

That-Sounds-Fun-Small

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READING//I always seem to be reading something, but my favorite favorite right now is Lysa TerKeurst’s newest book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way. It is GOOD. Good because it is raw, vulnerable, and relatable…and GOD. I love reading and hearing the stories of others and how God is moving and working and this book definitely is one of those. If you know Lysa’s story, this book speaks to the hurt and redemption she has been walking through and is so, so moving. It is an incredible read and I am not even halfway through. Highly recommend!

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Testify Thursday (on a Saturday!)//In the Wait

Hello! We are so excited to share our newest series, Testify Thursdays. Normally, this would be coming to you on a Thursday (hence the name!), but a chaotic week threw everything for a loop for me. That being said, the purpose of Testify Thursdays is to highlight the stories of our community, what God is doing, what we are learning, and how we are changing and growing. The stories may be hard, the stories may be deep, and the stories may be lighthearted. Most importantly, the stories are real and speak to the glory of our very real God.

On that note, here’s a part of my story.

Sunset chaser

“For everything there is a season, a time for every matter under heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3.

I must admit, this passage has always been one of those “glass half full” passages for me, a favorite even. Let me elaborate.

Growing up in the church and in a Christian school, I have had many run-ins with this verse. For as many times as I have heard it, I’ve always seemed to conveniently pass over the hard parts.

A time for war? More about a time of peace.

A time to weep? Give me a time to laugh!

Oh! And that whole time to mourn? I’d rather have that time of dancing.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t noticed the harder parts of the passage; it was just easier to focus on the positive. The feel good parts. The parts that show the glorious parts of life.

To believe that no matter what, there would always be a time for those things that are just so lovely.

Like a buffet line. All about the seconds of desserts and only a skim over the steamed veggies.

I was “buffet lining” this passage.

Mourning is hard. War is hard. Weeping is hard.

Why focus on those when God so obviously tells me there is a time for those, but, even better, there is a time for dancing?!

The only time I ever really gave those hard time portions of the passage a second glance was when I would attempt to offer them up as comfort and peace to someone who was living in a time of hard…as if silver lining their grief with promises of better times made it any easier for that person.

It wasn’t all that long ago that life handed me one of those dark times. One of those times that demanded me to grapple with what it means to live in hard times, uncertain times…the not so fun times of not dancing and no peace and no laughing. The time of waiting. The time of mourning.

Flashback to June 2016. I had recently found out I was pregnant with Baby #2 and was over the moon thrilled about expanding our family and having our precious Noah become a big brother. Because I am one of those women who are hyper aware when something is off, I found out super early on about the baby.

And, because it was so early, we decided to keep quiet for a bit, just to be sure.

I had only known about the baby for a few days when everything fell out from beneath me.

It was a Saturday night.

My husband, Joe, was at a baseball game with some friends. Noah was sleeping peacefully in his crib. I was cleaning up the apartment, preparing for a visit from my mom who was coming to town the very next day.

I had been working hard all day and noticed that it was starting to take a toll on my body. My back was really sore and I started cramping. I felt spent and tired.

Simply thinking I had overexerted myself, I decided to relax for a bit and take a bath, treating myself to some peace and quiet.

I got out and put on my Netflix show of the moment when I noticed it.

Red.

My heart sank, panic setting in. I called the Family Birth Center, already knowing in my heart what was likely happening and what I had to do. They confirmed I needed to go to the ED to be seen, to confirm what I felt was the inevitable.

I called Joe, barely making out the words, “I think I am losing the baby.”

Without missing a beat, he responded, “I am on my way home.”

Packing up a sleepy Noah, we made our way to the ED.

The whole way, my panic mounted. I could barely think straight. All I could think about was losing this future I had just started dreaming of, this baby who I newly discovered and already deeply loved.

I was praying for everything to be okay, for our baby to be okay, but in my heart, I believed it was already over.

Hours of anxious waiting revealed that I was having a threatened miscarriage, a diagnosis that meant while I wasn’t actively miscarrying, my body was acting like it was. I was told it’s common in very early pregnancy to miscarry…I was so early on that they couldn’t even tell me how far long I was. The ultrasound had simply revealed a teeny bubble, the teeny bubble of my baby who I loved, who God had fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14) and who I was afraid I’d never get to know on this side of heaven.

We were sent home, told to follow up with my OB, and basically just wait. If I was going to miscarry, there was nothing they could do…but they would be there if it happened.

The days that followed were some of the heaviest, most mentally and emotionally draining days I have ever had.

My symptoms continued, sending me once again back to the ED. I was told that, at this point, a miscarriage was becoming the more likely end result.

Where were my times of peace? Of dancing? Of joy?

I was supposed to be celebrating the life of baby #2 cooking away inside.

Instead, I was living each day in complete uncertainty, fear, and anxiety.

This continued for over a month. In hindsight, it really doesn’t seem that long.

But in the moment, it felt like a lifetime.

Isn’t that how it always seems to go in the dark times, the hard times, the times of mourning?

Those days were one of the hardest times of my life.

Everything about that time was completely out of my control.

I couldn’t stop my symptoms. I couldn’t make the physical pain go away. I couldn’t save my baby.

All I could do was pray and abide.

Saying that now, I feel like I’ve said the most dishonorable thing I could have ever said about my heavenly Father. Really, that’s all I could do?

Because you know what I learned through the whole experience? When you are in the thick of those dark and hard times that is when God shines the brightest. When you are at the point where you, in your earthly, broken body, cannot do a single thing to impact the outcome and prayer to the Maker of the entire universe is THE option you have, that is when He shows up in mighty ways.

I found that from the darkest place, came my greatest peace.

No matter how dark the season, God is still God.

No matter how hard the season, God is still good.

No matter how desperate the season, God is still good to me.

As I began to grasp the truth of these words, I was reminded of Romans 8:28…“That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good” (MSG).

I may not have known what the outcome was going to be, but for me, the peace of knowing God was there, working for my good, not leaving me out alone to dry, was enough. In that moment, I did not know if God was going to show up in the ways I wanted, but I did know, He was there. Always.

I am beyond grateful and happy to say that God kept His hand over our precious baby and I am joyfully a momma to two beautiful boys.

However, I am even more grateful for the lesson I learned. Yes, the times of joy, dancing, peace, and laughing are great and make life so sweet. Yes, it is those times that make our days memorable and full.

But for those sweet times to be so sweet, you have to go through the tough times.

 The tough times to make you strong, to make you fully know just how good and faithful our God is.

No matter what, God is God. God is still good. And God is forever good to me.

Even in the wait. Even in the mourning.

Especially in the wait. Especially in the mourning.

 

What I am Loving Wednesday//Lady of the House Day

Happy Wednesday!

As this blog grows and morphs, it is our vision to incorporate different series – some very specific and short term, others more general and long term.

This post is kicking off one of those series and we are calling it…..DRUM ROLL PLEASE….What I am Loving Wednesdays! The whole point of the series is to highlight things we are enjoying. From the serious to the lighthearted, from fun to more heavy, you can expect a variety of things shared here. Think ideas, recipes, podcasts, books, blogs, people, sermons, etc. The possibilities are endless and we are excited to share the things that get us fired up.

So, what am I loving on this Wednesday?!

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Saturdays, aka, LADY OF THE HOUSE DAY!

What is a Lady of the House Day (aka LHD)? Well, I am so glad you asked!

While I wish I could take credit for this amazingly beautiful and simple concept, I cannot. I stumbled across the idea/reminder on the Instagram account of Jess Connolly. She shared on her stories how she has reclaimed Saturdays as her own LHD… which is the day she does the housework, the errands, the mundane, and often not-so-fun tasks that pile up around the home.

She gave it the name for several reasons. One, the name is fun and lighthearted and gives off a fancy vibe. Two, and more importantly, giving it an extravagant name reframes the work for her and how she responds to the work. Instead of being something she has to do, it is something that she gets to do as the Lady of her House. The mundane becomes worship. The laundry becomes service. The errands become provision. All of the work becomes a way to give life – the clean and structure and means necessary for her family to thrive.

…and that right there? That is a privilege. 

I don’t know about you, but I KNOW I need more of that mindset. I’ve been claiming my Saturdays as Lady of the House Day now for awhile and you know what?

It changes things. It changes me. No work is wasted. Everything is done for His glory. Even folding socks and buying groceries.

It is ALL worship. 

Rhythms of Rest + Responsibilities.

Rest (1)

I have tried to write this post on several different occasions now and I just can’t seem to string the words together. Some of it has to do with my own distractions and the frequent indulgence in said distractions.

However, I think my hesitation and struggle goes deeper than just that. I think the real reason I am struggling to write is that this is something I am currently walking through. Wresting with. Learning from. Winning some, failing more.

Lately, I have been failing way more than winning which is why I think it is hard for me to write about this stage of life. By no means do I have this all figured out. If it comes out clumsy or not entirely clear, that is why.

So, what has got this lady all bent out of shape?

Rhythms. Routines. Responsibilities. Rest.

The intersection of these opposites. Relaxing and responsibilities. The balance of work and play. What the two mean in a spiritual and faith context. Why I should even care in the first place.

This is where I currently find myself. Struggling big time to figure out how to properly work and rest and show the world that it can be done, it should be done, and it is even possible in the first place. In today’s culture of extremes (busy workaholics and indulgent self-care obsessions), what should a gal of faith be doing?

With that being said, I am just going to go ahead and get my big, fat elephant out of the way.

I absolutely stink at this.

I am a wife and a mom of two boys. I work full-time outside of the home. My husband works two jobs to make sure we have what we need so most of the needs of managing a home falls in my lap… and I am fantastic at residing in the extremes of work and rest and am awful at living out the healthy, God-directed rhythm of work and rest.  I STINK at managing a home. I just can’t seem to make it work. I STINK at respecting the depth of what rest should look like. I STINK at the balance of life-giving rhythms…I even stink at trying to establish a rhythm in the first place.

While it is really easy and very tempting to just “let myself off the hook” and use the excuse that I am doing the best that I can, the truth is, most times I am not doing the best I can. And right now, I KNOW I can be doing better. It is not like I can’t do what I need to do. I have the skills. I know how to clean, how to fold laundry. I know I should make time for a Sabbath and rest…

It is just that I don’t want to out the work into establishing the rhythms and accountability to live it out in a healthy, God-honoring way. Working outside of the home, coming home and wrangling my two boys alone can be draining to say the least.

So…what does God have to say about this? Why does this matter to us from a biblical perspective?

To answer that question, we need not look further than the first book of the Bible, Genesis. The creation story. The one many of us were taught in our Sunday school days.

To sum up an incredible story simply, God created the entire universe in 6 days and on the 7th day, He rested. BOOM. Right there is a gigantic cue from the Creator of the universe that our rhythms of work and rest matter. Want to see for yourself? Check out Genesis 1-2.

The theme of work and rest does not end there. Oh, no. It continues throughout the Bible. I’ve included a quick snapshot of what I am talking about.

On work…

Exodus 20:8-10/Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.

Psalm 127:2/ In vain you rise early and stay up late toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Colossians 3:23/ Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

On rest…

Genesis 2:2-3/ By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Psalms 23:1-3/ The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.

Matthew 11:28/ Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

These are just a few verses throughout the Old Testament and New Testament that address work and rest. With that, here are a few things I’ve come to learn and am working out in my day-to-day.

On work…

  • Work is important. Hard work, it honors Him. Everything I do has a greater purpose. It is never just cleaning my house for my family or completing a project for my boss. It is holy work, an opportunity to honor God.
  • There is a time and a place for it. Work is good. Working non-stop is not. Having a routine for hard and dedicated work needs to be a priority in my life.
  • I am better when I work. Everyone around me seems to be better off when I put a high priority of working hard and working well (and holding myself accountable). I am kinder when I am not stressed by the mess of my house. I am more patient. There is more space for the good stuff of life – walks with my kids, crafts, exercising, etc…simply being able to be present because the demands of undone work aren’t screaming at me. Which leads to the other part of this teeter totter, rest.

On rest…

  • Taking time to rest is important and I need to make time for it. If the Creator of the entire universe had time to rest, then I certainly do too. I need to follow His lead and put rest into my rhythms. It is for my betterment that I observe a Sabbath, that I get a break from the work.
  • Just like work, too much rest is harmful too. I run the risk of being lazy and sinful if rest is constantly high on my priority list and there is unfinished work around (check out Proverbs! That book says a lot about laziness!).
  • How I rest matters just as much as if I rest in the first place. Where do I go for rest? A mani/pedi? A Netflix binge? Too much _______ (fill in the blank with whatever the vice of the day is)? I love how Matthew 11:28 says “Come to ME”. It does not say run to your couch and go into zombie mode consuming whatever show you are currently into. It does not say run to Target and buy a ton of stuff don’t need. It says COME.TO. ME. True rest is in Him, spending time in his presence. It isn’t taking a night off to yourself. It is a lifestyle, a rhythm. It is so much more…and yet, so simple too. True rest takes intentionality, not just resting because you are burned out and crashing into a checked-out heap of tired.

Rest and responsibilities. Responsibilities and rest. Repeat. Let’s show the world there is a better way. A way where the yoke is easy and the burden is light (Matthew 28:30). A way where you can work and rest, rest and work without the burn out. A way where the work and rest are always holy. A better way.

How a Dress Can Change the World.

Dressember - it's bigger than a dress

A dress can change the world.

It’s not about the dress… it is something SO much bigger than a dress.

It is about a world without slavery.

Because the numbers, the need, the people, and their stories simply cannot be ignored.

40 million are in slavery across the globe, more than any other time in history.

Human trafficking is a 150-billion-dollar industry, becoming the most profitable criminal industry in the world.

About 2 million children are exploited in the global sex trade.

A few weeks ago, we kicked off this blog with our mission of Micah 6:8//act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.

While it is our intent for this space to be a place to learn and share about what God has done and what we are learning as women in the Faith E community, it is our hope that this can also be a place to share the practical.

>>>Opportunities, missions, and organizations that we can partner with, support, and join to be the hands and feet in both our local and global communities.

This post is the first of that mission of the blog.

Say hello to Dressember, an organization centered on a dress…that is so much more than just a dress.

Founded officially in 2013 as an international movement, Dressember finds its humble roots in Blythe Hill (Dressember founder). In 2003, Blythe saw the struggles in the world and felt called to do something, but being that she is not a doctor, social worker, or lawyer, she struggled to find her place to contribute as a professional working in the fashion and blogging industry.

Fast forward to 2009. To take a stand and draw awareness to human slavery in the world, Blythe wore a dress every single day in the month of December…hence the name Dressember!

 Her movement caught on to her friends…and then the world.

How? How does Dressember fight against slavery across the globe?

People like you. People like me. Wearing dresses.

Dressember fights by fundraising, through people like you, to provide grants to 12 different organizations who seek to provide relief, restoration, and resources to victims. In less than 5 years, Dressember has raised over $5 million dollars to contribute to the fight and has collaborated with organizations like the International Justice Mission and A21.

This is where YOU come in.

We have the very cool opportunity to raise awareness and funds by becoming Dressember advocates. Here is how it works.

  1. Sign up as a Dressember advocate on the Dressember’s website (https://dressember-2018.funraise.org/fundraiser/signup) and join the Faith E Women’s team (Faith E Micah 6:8 Gals).
  2. Raise $$$! Tell your friends and family about Dressember and its mission. Educate yourself and others about the need.
  3. Wear a dress every single day of December with other advocates across the globe…not a gal? Men can join the efforts too! Join the team and wear a tie every day as a part of the Dressember movement.

You Can Do Anything in a Dress | Dressember

Learn more about Dressember and other ways you can get involved here: https://www.dressember.org/.

Please join us as we strive to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. We are honored to get to do this with you!

Micah 6:8//Seek Justice.

SEEK JUSTICE.

Micah 6:8 – He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (NIV).

Micah 6:8. A verse we’ve heard countless times. Sang in songs. Maybe even claimed as our life verse.

Micah 6:8. A simple verse. And a verse that carries some serious weight and responsibility.

This year, Micah 6:8 is going to be the theme for our Women’s Ministry at Faith E. With our new adventure in the blog world, it only made sense to start with an exploration of this verse and its application. With a humbled heart, here we go…

There are three commands with Micah 6:8, each of which we will explore here on the blog. So, that leaves us at the starting place…Justice.

To act justly. To seek justice.

To be honest, this isn’t the post I wanted to start with. Not because I don’t wholeheartedly believe in it or think it’s a terrible place to start, but because of the weighty obligation of seeking justice…and what that means for me in my day to day life.

Younger Kelly, more optimistic and idealistic and free-from-major-life-responsibilities Kelly LOVED this verse (I still do!). I always thought I would be one of those actively pursuing justice – working hard to be in His hands and feet, working overseas, seeing the least of these get their justice.

….And then “real” life set in. I graduated college, got married and was saddled with student loans. I settled down. Got a big girl job. Had babies. Lost sight of justice in the middle of daycare runs and bills to pay, messes to clean and a marriage to sustain.

Where did justice go? Where did that passion for justice of younger Kelly go?

How can I actively pursue justice when I am in the thick of working motherhood?

How can any of us seek justice when we aren’t in courtroom, in the trenches or overseas? What can we do in the day to day?

What does justice look like in the everyday mundane?

Before exploring the answers to those questions, I think it’s important to understand what justice really means.

Justice/ˈjəstəs/noun: just behavior or treatment. Quality of being fair and reasonable. A concern for peace and genuine respect for people.

Okay, cool. Thanks, Webster’s Dictionary.

Another perspective to consider that I find incredibly powerful is from Thomas Aquinas. According to Aquinas, at the heart of justice is a relationship.

Two people…with goods and/or services that at least one of them needs thrown in the mix.

Justice, then, becomes whether or not the person who has the goods and services is related to the person in need in such a way that the beholder could/ought fill the need. Following me?

To put it simply, Aquinas says if there is someone in need and there is someone who has the means to fill it, justice demands it’s filled.

Great. Simple enough. See a need, fill the need.

However, what makes seeking justice so hard for me is that I don’t always follow through with filling the need.

I am not so great at even seeing the need in the first place.

It becomes all too easy for me to adequate justice with simply having rights and righting wrongs, whether that is through the legal system or by some other means…Leaving the hard work of justice to those who are in the trenches. Those overseas. Those on the steps in D.C. The needs are too big, my abilities and resources too small…so somehow, that “lets me off the hook”.

My warped perspective (unintentionally) becomes all or nothing. Either I am doing the big justice thing or not. It becomes what they do and what I admire from afar.

What this mindset fails to remember is GOD MOVES REGARDLESS. Regardless if it is big or small. Regardless if it is actively saving those who have been trafficked or financially supporting from afar. Regardless if it is using my voice in a courtroom to defend or using my voice to educate those around me. It doesn’t matter. God moves regardless.

GOD MOVES. He wants my obedience…and He does the rest.

So, what does this look like? What does pursuing justice look like when I have a full-time job and babies to raise?

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are some things to consider, things I am currently and imperfectly putting into practice.

  • Pray, pray, pray – for those who are doing the “big” acts of justice. For their safety, for His will to be done. For open eyes to see the injustices around me that I can do something about. For the strength to obey when called. For the whole world to get justice and peace.
  • Vote – Learn about initiatives and support candidates who are working towards justice. Use my voice to uplift, rather than condemn.
  • Consider how I spend my money – Shop fair trade…or not shop at all. Become educated on issues like fair trade, sustainability, and fast fashion. Always remember my dollar reveals my heart.
  • Think globally – Justice isn’t just a person issue. It’s an environmental one too. How am I stewarding my resources and place on this earth to sustain and protect its God-breathed beauty in a way that others can continue enjoy it? Maybe this means composting, recycling, or simply using less. Maybe it means using that refillable water bottle and remembering our resources are limited and fighting to protect them.
  • Get proximate – Get closer to situations where injustices reign. Learn about the issues. Get uncomfortable. Befriend and love. It’s hard to ignore issues when they are your neighbor, when injustice’s cruelness is staring you down in the face.

Justice. Never easy. Always worth it. To serve a need is to serve Christ.

I don’t know about you, dear friends, but seeking justice is something I can no longer ignore.

My faith demands it. The world craves it. He longs to see me play my part in it.

Before I go, one final thought to consider. While I don’t want to steal too much thunder from a blog post to come, I have to point out that Micah 6:8 didn’t start and end with seeking justice and loving mercy. There’s a final command. The most fundamental and central to the other two.

Walk humbly with your God.

Want to seek justice? Walk humbly with your God.

Because when you are walking humbly with Him, you start to see the world with His eyes, His heart. When you are walking humbly with Him, you are dethroned off the central throne of your life and you start thinking of yourself less. When you are walking humbly with Him, He puts you in situations where you can be His hands, His feet, His heart. When you are walking humbly with Him, you can be justice.

Seek justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly.

Humbly learning with you as I go,

Kelly