I Woke Up

This week, there were two anniversary days.

November 18th, the day our Nora was born.  A scrappy little 2 lb. 14 oz. fighter, bursting to life and changing the world.

November 19th, I woke up, after the doctors were sure I never would again.

And I’ve realized some things about those days.  You can read the whole story here and throughout many, many blog posts in 2012.

November 19th, I woke up.

When you come that close to death, your world view shifts.  Things change in your heart, paradigms you’ve always believed and trusted are shaken to the core.

I learned that life is so, so short.  I learned that every single life is precious.  As I held my tiny baby, smaller than half a bag of flour…I knew her life was precious.  And in my heart, something opened up.  Lives are so precious.

IMG_1744

I became more sensitive to news stories of human suffering.  Pictures of children struggling for life in orphanages began to seem urgent. I saw need everywhere.

I also figured out that I want an extraordinary life.  I don’t want the white picket fence and new cars and great clothes.  I like those things…but my life goals are simpler now…

Love God.

Love People.

I woke up to reality.  And every year, I am reminded of the lessons I learned.  You can read about it Here, 2013 and Here, 2014 or some more here 2014.

There is so much suffering in our world.  And I am still piecing together and puzzling out our place in the resolutions.

But I came away from my experiences in November of 2012 changed.  I woke up.  And I know I want to make an impact.  I am reminded anew every year on these days.

I want to make a difference.  Because I’m grateful, because this life is short, because every single person has value that can’t be measured.

Right now.

We are starting with one.  Just one.

Sylvia Grace.

Will you join us?

SylviaGrace

2506_Sylvia 15-2

 

Broken And Blessed

I always thought that by forty, I’d have it all figured out.  That I’d have my life in order, know what I was doing and even maybe be at least a little bit like that Proverbs 31 Lady.  (She makes me tired.)

Instead, I’m still me.  Still broken, still fumbling through life, still making mistakes and falling down and getting back up again.  I’m finding out that I’m not strong, I’m weak and GOD is strong.  I’m finding out that life is filled with good gifts and they don’t always look like we thought they would.  I’m finding out that Big Life Stuff, Hard Things, Trials and Tribulations end up being loaded with beauty and good gifts.

This does not make me unafraid.  But it gives me peace.  Sometimes.

I always thought that by forty, by the halfway mark…I’d maybe have it all figured out.  But year one of my forties is just a few days from being over and I’m just as clueless and bumbling as ever.

But that’s okay.

I don’t know much of anything.

I know I’m poor in Spirit.  I know that I’m just now learning how to really acknowledge my needs.  I know that it’s okay if I don’t have the mysteries of the universe figured out.  I know that it’s okay to say Forget Silver Linings and just be in the guts and gore of the moment.  Sometimes, things just suck.  Sometimes, we need the freedom to say that things just suck.

Sometimes, things just really, really suck.

I think Christians have convinced themselves that we can’t be honest about stuff.  That somehow God’s goodness will be diminished because we recognize the awfulness of a situation.

But that’s silly, isn’t it?

same

 

There is nothing we can do to make God change.  There is nothing we can do to make God love us more or to make God love us less.  He knows that sometimes our circumstances really, really suck.

I want to suggest that maybe He really wants us to speak the truth about our circumstances.  Unload.  Let it all out.  Release.  Be true to where we are.

We are all broken.  We are all beautiful.  We are all loved.  We are all redeemed.

We need to give ourselves permission to just be where we are.  We need to stand with our friends through their storms and just stand.  Sometimes there is nothing more to do than just be.  Sometimes there is nothing to fix, there is only a storm to be weathered.

Glennon Melton from Momastery says it so much better than I in her post:  Life Is Freaking Brutiful.  This post resounded in my heart and I’ve read it like ten times.

It’s okay for us to be broken and to be where we are.  It’s okay for us to still be figuring it out.  It’s okay for us to be sad or wounded or needy or hurt.

Of course I’m not saying to stop counting your blessings.  I’m not saying to forget gratitude.  I’m not saying to stop offering praise.  I’m just saying that we need to also acknowledge our needs.  I’m saying we must give ourselves space for our hurts.  I’m saying we  whisper those words of gratitude in the midst of broken hearts and tears.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  We can be hurting and thankful.  We can be broken and blessed.  We can be lonely and loved.  We can be where we are.

 

Remembering Gratitude

I spent quite a bit of time on Easter Sunday trying to get a perfect  somewhat decent picture of the three little girls.  Their outfits had been chosen with care, coordinating, but not matching.  Fitting each child’s personality and they looked so cute!  But this is what we ended up with.

Look at the camera, Claire!  Look at Mommy!!!

IMG_2963

Clairey!!!  Nora!!!  Look at Mommy!!!!
IMG_2964

Claire, stop making that face!  Lila, SMILE!!!

IMG_2965

Clairey, please look at Mommy!

IMG_2966

Okay, now we’re all looking and the baby is spitting up.  And what’s on Claire’s face?  Oh well, maybe I can fix it in editing.

IMG_2970

CLAIREY, PLEASE LOOK AT MOMMY!!!!

IMG_2976

Okay, almost.

IMG_2974

Well, all right then.  At least everyone is looking.

IMG_2973

That was as good as it every got but I just smiled.  Because I remembered the last time I got annoyed about a picture.

IMG_9254

The very last picture of our family before my Nora’s birth and my surgery.  I was so irritated that day.  It hadn’t worked out for us to take the family pictures I wanted to take.  Older kids had to go places and do things and everyone was being crazy when we stopped for this quick snapshot.  The older kids wouldn’t keep looking and stop leaning, Claire wouldn’t look at all, Lila inexplicably burst into tears in the middle of the whole thing.

And I was mad.  I needed a Christmas card photo and these kids were not cooperating.

This could’ve easily been the last picture of my family with me in it and if I could take back how irritated I was about it, if I could just see how much this picture would minister to me in the days to come…

My water broke less than a week later and I was admitted to Norfolk Sentara General where I would spend 20 of the next 30 days.

In my hospital room, I was so homesick.  I missed my kids, I missed my husband, I missed my house and my own bed.  I missed my life. I ran a slideshow of my family almost all the time.  Sometimes my sweet nurses would stop and watch it with me for a little while, telling me how beautiful my family was.  I stared at this picture, loving each face, wishing to be home.

And I’ve been thinking about that today.  How sometimes disappointments and irritations wind up being blessings.

I think about my divorce and how my heart broke into a million pieces.  How I felt so disappointed in how life had turned out, in what had happened.  Disappointed in my marriage, in myself, in my ex-husband.  So grieiving a life that changed without my permission.  So sick at where we were and so afriad for what would happen next.

But what happened next is that I met John.  And God redeemed the whole thing.  God restored.  God brought new life.  And yes, my divorce was hard and disappointing and not what I wanted…but look how God restored.

I think about the babies I lost, about Peter and Asher…I think about how they have eternal significance and how God has promised to work all things together for my good.   Even those losses.  I wonder, if Peter had been born, would I have had Nora?  If Asher had survived the pregnancy, would I have come home with one baby, two babies or no babies?  This is a harder one, because I can’t see the full plan, the whole story.

But I can see what I have right now.  And I am awash in blessing.

IMG_2945

When did I stop counting blessings?   When did I decide to stop being grateful?  I pull out my gratitude journal and see that I’ve written NOTHING in such a long time.

No wonder.

No wonder I’m struggling so hard in the here and now.  I’m letting the pain of recovery, the exhaustion, the stress, the trauma…I’m letting all of that speak loudest.  I’m not even looking for joy.

And it all seems clear now.  God wants to give me restoration.  He wants to walk me through this valley.  He wants to give gifts along the way.  But I have to open my eyes to see them.

I have to choose to find joy and contentment, to find peace.  It is there for the taking.  It might take some work on my part but it’s work I must choose to do.

Who’s with me?  Who wants to start counting joys today?  Who wants to begin the Joy Dare and see where it takes you?  All you need is something to write or type on and to open your eyes!

List your first five in the comments section!  Start NOW!

1. Nora’s giggle
2. Claire and Lila singing, “Like a Lion”
3. Simply Vanilla scentsy
4. The coffee my husband made me this morning
5. The smell of spring

Seasoned With Grace

She prayed, “…that your words with be seasoned with grace.”  She who has prayed me through many a crisis, who cried at my bedside on November 19, who has spoken truth in love when needed and who has stood by me through more than a dozen years.

That my words would be seasoned with grace.

And the words leapt out of her mouth and straight into my heart and for a while I couldn’t hear her or the other faithful friend who has stood strong beside me through so many journeys, our cord of three strands so strong.  They prayed for me.  But all I could hear was those words.

Seasoned with grace.  That my words be seasoned with grace.  

My sister and I have been talking about how your words come straight from the heart and you can’t just take the good words and pat yourself on the back.  You have to own them all.  The good, the bad and the ugly.

Luke 6:45 says:  For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

So, is my heart full of impatience?  Is my heart full of irritation and frustration?  Is my heart full of bitterness?

Sometimes my speech would say so.  And I’ve been praying and asking God what my focus this year should be…since last year was thankfulness, gratitude.

I think maybe it still is gratitude because I still feel so passionately about it and because I am still getting so much good out of the practice.  It’s a lifelong thing, I think, that I will ever be focused on.

But God has reminded me about praying for my enemies more than once and that has to do with the depths of my heart and the words of my mouth.  And now this….

That my words be seasoned with grace.

My heart is full of gratitude, love, grace and the joy of the Lord.  I want those things to be the things that will come through in my speech, not the lesser things.  

So, today I ask Him who can do all things…”Help me, Lord.”  Help my speech and my words be kind and thought out.  That I would think before speaking and that my words would bring life and love.  

Image

Resolutions?

2013

My facebook prompt this morning said, “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” and I drew a blank.

Yes, I’ve begun the “Bible in One Year” plan, just as I have every year.  (I’ve read Genesis and Matthew a jillion times by now.)  I’ve begun a new devotional book.  (It’s the One Thousand Gifts devotional and I love it already.)

But other than that…I can’t come up with a New Year’s resolution.  And I’m not going to.

I made some resolutions when I woke up on November 19th.  I resolved to be better.  A better lover of Jesus, a better wife, a better mother, a better sister, a better daughter, a better friend, a better part of the body of Christ.  I want to pray without ceasing, I want to love BIG and love WELL, I want to forgive easily, look for joy in all circumstances and be a blessing to those I’ve been blessed with.

It’s a change of life, not a resolution.

Last year, on January 1st, I made a blog entry on a blog I hadn’t done much with.  It began a journey of writing for me that has changed me from the inside out.  On January 2nd, in my blog Caroline and the Puddle, I said, “I want this year to mark a change in my life.”  And it has.  I have learned to find joy in hard things, I’ve learned to count blessings instead of aggravations.  I’ve learned that life is a gift and every minute is a gift and that tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone.  I have fallen more in love with Jesus as I’ve looked for the little gifts He gives me every day.  2012 did mark a change in my life, and it wasn’t because I made a bunch of resolutions.  It’s because I cried out for change and it’s because my heart was soft and open.

As time went by, God put things in my path to help change me.  He led me to teachings and sermons and podcasts that were about being positive, even in adversity, and He led me to the book “1000 Gifts” which has changed my heart forever.

And isn’t it a good thing that it did?

It’s as though I was in boot camp, in training for all that was to come in 2012.

Last night, I lay awake (again) until around 2:30am, marveling at the good things God has given me.  I was able to honestly thank Him for things that seemed awful at the time.

For the hard things that led to the collapse of my table, I said thank you.  Hard things that HURT but now I can see how He redeemed those things, how He’s used them.  For the  two babies I lost, Peter and Asher…I am thankful.  And those words cost to type and to feel because I wanted those two babies.  But they are souls with eternal significance.  And they serve a purpose in heaven…they are gifts and I am thankful for the time I carried them in my womb and for the glimpses God gave me of who they are and for their places in our family and in the kingdom of God.  I miss them both but I will see them again.

For all that happened in November…I am so thankful.  Even for my water breaking in the first place.  If that hadn’t happened…who knows if Nora and I would’ve survived.  My water breaking meant I was in Norfolk with the specialists, right beside CHKD (which she didn’t end up needing).  Did you know that Norfolk Sentara not only has an amazing NICU, but they also have an amazing trauma center…and that is why they had enough blood on hand for me.  Maternal Fetal Medicine, for all that I complained about wait times and lack of bedside manner, they were equipped to handle placenta accreta because they specialize in scary, weird, obscure obstetrical things.  They spotted it the day I was admitted and they figured out how best to handle it.  My water breaking, a scary and hard thing…God used it to save us.  The hardest trial of my life, which I’m still kind of working through, it’s something to be grateful for.

I can be thankful in the hard things.  It means a laying down, a sacrifice of entitlement, bitterness, self pity.  And God knows that the sacrifice costs…He sees that and He honors my obedience in the midst of pain and hard things.  He sees.

And this post isn’t meant to be “Look who evolved and holy I am.” because I’m decidedly not.  Just this moment, I am in a standoff with Claire because she wants to type and I’m trying to blog and I am irritated.  I say to my inner me, “You know, when writing a blog about being thankful, you should probably not feel so annoyed with your two year old, who is a precious gift.”  (That precious gift has now abandoned typing and is yanking things off the Christmas tree.  I’m going to pretend not to notice until I’m done.)  There are times when I feel so annoyed by the petty stuff that I cry real tears and then feel stupid for getting upset about things that don’t even matter. I’m trying to be evolved and holy, but Beloved Ones, all I can do is try.  Wait, not try…all I can do is practice.

Because when we practice something, we get better and better at it.

In a year, I’ve gotten better and better at being thankful.  I’ve gotten better and better at keeping Poor Me and her stupid friends away from my doorstep.  I think I’ve gotten better at Loving Well, but I know I can always grow in it.

And so this year, I’m not going to make any resolutions.  I’m not going to say that I’m going to keep my house clean finally at the age of forty or read the classics to the children at bedtime or start excercising every day or adhere to the Dave Ramsey financial plan 100%.  I’m just not.  Those are all good things and certainly I don’t think resolutions are without value…but for me, now that I’m living a life I almost didn’t get to live…I just want to Love Well.  I want to keep on changing and evolving.

I want to live a life of fullness and gratitude.  I don’t want to miss a thing.

What about you?  What will change your life this year?

 

 

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Proverb

 

Do you know this saying?

Last night at 2:00am, I couldn’t sleep and I was thinking about everything that had happened since November 10th when my water broke.  I was thinking about how nervous I was going into surgery on November 18th.  I had no idea how bad it was going to be or even how bad it was.

I remember laying in the bed before surgery staring at that curtain with my stomach doing flip flops and just praying for God to help me surrender my fears.  I remember John walking down the hall with me as they wheeled me away, saying he loved me and would see me soon.  I remember the bright lights of the operating room, of the vulnerable feeling of being naked on the table while people hustled and bustled all around me.  I remember that the anesthesiologist talked me through what was happening in this calm voice but  I felt like I was being suffocated under the oxygen mask (fear and claustrophobia). He kept saying, “Sweetie, it’s oxygen.  Oxygen isn’t going to suffocate you.”  I heard my name being stated, what we were there to do and that is all I remember of November 18th.

November 19th.  Flashes of memory of what I thought was during surgery and have since figured out was the wee hours of the morning in ICU, after Nora’s birth, after my hysterectomy, after interventional radiology, after or maybe while I was bleeding out.  Another piece of  a memory- John, Philip, Parwin, Chris and (strangely) the hospital chaplain praying around me.  Everyone’s face teary and tired and worried.

Finally my first lucid memory.  I wake up and feel the tube in my throat.  I feel how puffy my eyes are and I feel out of it.  John and Bethany greet me as though I’ve been gone forever, eyes wide and faces stressed.  I look at the clock and take note of the time.  1:00.  I look out the window.  Daylight.  I went into surgery at 10pm.  Why isn’t it 1:00am?

It’s November 19th.  As the day goes on, I find out that sweet Nora was born and doing better than expected.  I find out that she’d fared far better than I had.  I find out that I was a hair’s breadth away from death.  I find out that even the amazing MFM doctors were sure they were losing me but never gave up.  That my family and friends and people I don’t know prayed me safely from the brink.  That I’d needed twenty seven units of blood in surgery.  (Three more while I was in ICU, bringing the grand total up to thirty.)  That I’d nearly lost my life on November 19th.

And last night, as I laid in my bed and stared at the gray blue walls that John painted for my birthday…I treasured these things in my heart.  My story could’ve ended that day.  My husband could’ve ended up on his own with two little girls and a broken heart, missing his wife and stepchildren because the whole structure of his life would’ve changed without me.  My children’s story- Julia could’ve lost her mom at twenty, Aubrey at seventeen, Chase at fifteen, Lila at only five…what would she have remembered?  Claire, only two…she wouldn’t have remembered anything except what pictures and other people’s stories told her.  The same for Nora…except she would’ve carried with her the fact that she was born and then I died.

I just couldn’t think about much else last night as I laid awake.

November 19th, it was the first day of the rest of my life.

I’m processing through all of this stuff and thinking about what God would have me do with it.  I know I feel more raw, more vulnerable.  I know I’m more prone to tears that come awfully quickly.  I know I feel more compassion than I used to. I know I feel even more mercy than I used to.  And oh, do I feel more gratitude.  Every minute I have with John. Facetime with Chase.  Hugs from Lila.  Laughing with Aubrey and Julia.  Claire climbing into my lap.  The warm, soft weight of little Nora.  I hold her close in the nicu and I breathe her in.  She is the prize for all of this hard work and pain and physical suffering.  Her presence in my world makes it all worth it.

But there is more that I have gained.  My eyes are opened wider to the beauty and blessing.  Even as I type those words, Lila and Claire are arguing over Christmas toys which isn’t particularly beautiful but even that makes me grateful.  I am here to break up the squabble.  I am here to explain that we love our sister and we don’t fight in this house.  My eyes can suddenly see His gifts even more clearly and I am looking even harder for them.  November 19th was the first day of the rest of my life and I don’t want to miss even one gift He’s given me.

Even those days when my pain level is high, when I’m so tired that I fall asleep in my chair or in the car or while I’m reading…even those days when it seems like Nora will be in the NICU until she’s in kindergarten…even those days when the drive to and from Norfolk just seems impossibly long…no matter how down I feel, I am thankful.

I am here.

And the changes I want to make are quite simple.  I want to love more, pray more, serve more, give more.  I want to walk with Jesus, pressing in close to His side, learning His ways.  I don’t want to squander all of these new days He’s given me.

noramommy

 

And now, because I know you are a praying people, would you join me in some special and persistent prayers for two of God’s beloved ones?

1.  My friend Laura is going for a PET scan on Friday.  Laura has been receiving chemo for quite a while now.  She is doing this while being a busy mom to two little ones.  She has her own Nora and Jacob too and she is an amazing person.   Chemo is slowing her down though and she is ready to be done and begin the first day of the rest of her life.  Will you pray that her cancer is gone for good?

2.  My little cousin Makayla is thirteen and she is struggling deeply with anorexia.  Will you pray that she will be delivered from this?  Will you pray that she would know the truths of God and how He loves her?   I want to see her thrive and begin the first day of the rest of her life.  I want to see her live with a free heart and a healthy body.

Thank you, beloved ones.

Want a Big Heap of Crazy Joy?

noramommy

 

Today’s words will be shorter than usual.  But this is what’s on my heart today and it’s kind of simple.

I got thinking about the little things in life, and how when you count the small joys, they add up to Crazy Joy…and when you count the small aggravations, the opposite happens.  And then I got thinking how we, as human beings, tend to count up the aggravations and not the joys.

But, when you’re just on the other side of almost leaving this world forever…the little joys seem all the more precious and the little aggravations just seem, well, inconsequential.  And I’m so grateful for that side effect of Nora’s and my medical trauma.  Those little things that would’ve killed my mood Before, they seem like nothing compared to the fact that my eleven weeks early daughter is beautiful and thriving and growing.  They seem like nothing when I am walking and talking and breathing.  Nora and I…we are here, miraculously.  We are here because of the prayers of the saints and the power of God.

And so when I look at the little things in life that used to bring me down…they just have no power anymore.  I’m alive and I almost wasn’t.  So what if I spilled coffee on my new sweater?  So what if there’s traffic on the way home from the hospital?  So what, even, if Instagram changed it’s policies?   I’m alive.  Nora’s alive.  We are both okay.  We are both eventually going to be perfectly healthy.

I keep on saying I don’t want to miss the refining work God is wanting to do in me.  I mean that with my whole heart and I think this is part of it:

Counting little joys adds up to a big heap of crazy joy.  Counting little aggravations adds up to a big heap of cranky grumpiness.  

Which one are you looking for?  Are you looking for the gifts?  Are you looking for the aggravations?  Or are you looking for crazy joy?  Which one is easier for you to see?  When you practice gratitude…finding those Good Gifts gets easier and easier and the crappy things fade into the background.

Don’t you see how it honors our Beloved most when we are thankful and not when we are irritable and angry?

Yes, yes, hard things happen and yes, yes, we have to process our feelings.  We have to.  But we also have to look for the joys, for the good gifts.  It’s the quickest route to a satisfied life filled with crazy joy.

This is a Christmas gift you can give yourself, the people in your lives and most of all that you can give God.  Get yourself a pretty journal and every day, write in it three things that you are thankful for.  Maybe get this book that will change your life:  One Thousand Gifts and READ it!

Count the gifts, count the joys, let the other stuff go.

One Month Old

Today is December 18.  One month ago today, I went into surgery and my beautiful little daughter Nora was born.

She is one month old.

I have changed exactly three diapers.  I have dressed her twice.  I have never bathed her or fed her a bottle or nursed her.  My breast milk was slow to come in and quick to go away, my body too traumatized to produce what she needs.  I sleep all night long, every night.  Sometimes, a whole day goes by and I’m not well enough to go see her.  Some days, the only parent she sees is Daddy.  I don’t know that I would recognize her cry because I’ve only heard it once for a brief moment.

She’s been on earth for a month…and I didn’t touch her until she was three days old…and I didn’t see her for a week while I was sick in the hospital.

Being a mom who is recovering from medical trauma, being a mom of an eleven weeks premature baby is different.

But how much I love her is exactly the same.

I see her for an hour most days, but sometimes I’m not well enough and I stay home to rest and recover.  An hour a day…so, about 20-25 hours of her whole first month…that’s how much time I’ve spent with my youngest daughter.

It is getting harder and harder to leave her behind when it’s time to go home after our visits.  It’s getting harder and harder to not worry and ponder what she’s doing and how is her breathing and how is she feeling all day long when we’re not together.

She is one month old today, but she’s not supposed to be here for seven more weeks.

kcare

 

This has been a hard and beautiful season.  Hard because it’s not fun to be unable to live your life like you’re used to.  Hard because I need so much help and getting through every day is physically difficult and emotionally rough too.  Hard because I have a newborn baby, but I don’t really because she’s in the nicu and I can’t be with her all the time.  Hard because sometimes I think this would be easier for everyone if I could do it myself…but I can’t.  The process of recovery is taking a long time and I don’t know when I’m going to be back to normal.

It’s beautiful because of the way people have blessed us.  We’ve been loaded down with blessings from others.  Strangers, friends and family have all banded together and cared for my family, my home, my yard.  They’ve been the hands and feet of Jesus, ministering kindness after kindness to us.  Nora is loved all over the world, she is covered in the prayers of the saints.  People know her and are invested in her and she is cherished.

And this too shall pass.

In another month, we’ll be bringing our baby daughter home.  In another month, I should be feeling fine again.  In another month, we should be figuring out a new normal.

And until then and even after, I just give thanks.  Thanks for my one month old daughter.  Thanks for our loved ones.  Thanks for the ones who are loving on us.  Thanks for the Presence of God that is always with me.  Thanks for Life.  For my life and Nora’s.  Thanks for every single day and every minute that passes by.

More Gifts, More Gratitude

November continues and I continue the work of gratitude.  Gratitude when I’m grumpy, gratitude when I’m frustrated, gratitude when I’m exhausted…it comes easy when joy flows and happiness is all around.  It’s work all the other times.  But almost more precious.  Those little gifts are God saying, “I am here.  I will not forget you.”

So here are three more.

November 3

I am rich in family.  Not just John and the kids, but my extended family and his.  My parents, my sister and brother in law, my nieces and nephew.  My cousins, my aunts and uncles.  The grandparents I was able to know and the ones I wasn’t.  My special Paw whose loss I still feel.  John’s family, people I would choose to know if they weren’t related to us.  They are like the dream in laws.  We are rich in family.  Here’s a picture of just one part of my family.  

November 4

I’m grateful for my church, Waters Edge Church.  It’s the place we landed after leaving the church my children and I had gone to since Chase was not quite two.  I will always be grateful, grateful, grateful for my years at Hope Community Church and I could write a 2000 word post about all that place was to me and how much I loved it. I left with nothing but love for Hope…it was just time.  But November 4 is for Waters Edge and I’ll tell you why.
1. Waters Edge is committed to excellence. There are the components and only three- Sunday worship, community groups and volunteering. Each component is done well and thoroughly and each one is a pleasure to participate in. I love the worship service, I love my community group and I love volunteering. I do my service in the children’s ministry. My little girls love their classes and that makes me happy. All of us, except Chase serve in in Kid Kraze or Wee World. (Chase is a greeter.) It’s wonderful to go, plug in, serve the Lord out of our giftings and then go to another service time for worship.
2. Waters Edge wants to change the way the peninsula views church. I love this concept. Jesus said he came to seek and save the lost. We are commanded to love one another. Waters Edge is fixed on these two things. Salvation and love. What more is there? What could be more important? When I hear the stories of salvation, when I see the baptisms, when I watch the church grow…I am reminded that you will know a tree by its fruit. I’m happy to be a part of it. Just yesterday, Waters Edge’s third campus was opened and 1100 people attended. I think that’s amazing.

November 5

This one may seem crazy at first but bear with me.
I am infinitely grateful for hard times.  I know, I know, what person in their right mind would be glad to endure hard things…but I am.  Because every time I go through the Big Life Stuff and every time my table collapses and I have to rebuild….God and I hash things out.  And every time, I come away changed.  I come away refined.  And yes, I’d rather it be rainbows and sunshine all the time…but that’s not the reality of life.  I am so glad that God is faithful to use these hard things to purify me and to make me better.

He really does work all things together for our good.

I’ve learned a lot about me and even more about Him as I’ve navigated tough waters.  I’m grateful for that, because I want to be better.  I want to do better, I want to be a better witness for Him.

Listen to the whole thing: