little reminders that He is good.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything on here! It’s not that I haven’t been inspired to write, I think I just haven’t prioritized it. And that’s okay. I love when I get inspired and end up writing for hours. I don’t know how writers can keep up with a certain amount of posts per week, because that is just not how I function. Although I’m just posting about my thoughts and my life, obviously if I had certain topics to stick to it could be easier. Anyway, I’m rambling already. I’m writing this post tonight because tomorrow my baby girl turns ONE.

Before I sat down to write this I read the post where I talked about Zoe’s birth and her diagnosis of cystic fibrosis (it’s called “12 days of beautiful chaos” if you want to scroll down to get caught up). I couldn’t make it through the whole thing without tears streaming down my face, and maybe not for the reasons you think. It feels like just yesterday but also like a lifetime ago. I thought I would read it and think, “wow, look how far we’ve come!” But I’m not. I mean of course we’ve come a long way, anyone around us know our lives have changed drastically this past year. But if I’m being honest, I reread that blog post with tears in my eyes and ended up thinking, “wow, it sounds like we were in a pretty good place emotionally at that time.” The post was definitely tinged with grief but had an overall tone of hope.

It really got me thinking. I’m pretty open and honest on here, so I know that those words and what I was feeling was true. I honestly think I processed the idea of having a child with a genetic disorder when we were pregnant, rather than after she was actually diagnosed. It didn’t take us long to accept the diagnosis and move forward. We definitely had peace about it, peace that we know had to come right from Jesus because there wasn’t nothing peaceful about that time in our lives. There were small, quick moments of doubt and wonder, but we didn’t dwell on it.

I’m not saying this in a “our faith must be so strong” way at all. It’s actually surprising to me. It’s no secret that I suffer from anxiety and that even with minor things I struggle with fear, doubt, worry. So with a major change like this, it surprises me that I didn’t just completely crash and burn emotionally. Don’t get me wrong, there has been anxiety and worry – we’ve had illnesses, hospital visits, apnea scares, etc. In those moments, anxiety and dread are there. I’m human. But overall, cystic fibrosis as a whole, it doesn’t keep me up all night worrying. I have moments of sadness about it. I would trade places with Zoe, take it away, do anything in my power to change it, of course.. but I have an overwhelming sense of peace about cystic fibrosis being a part of our lives. But just a part.

Which leads me to the point of my post. Over the year, I’ve obviously heard a lot of comments/questions. Hard ones. And I love that I have people in my life that can ask me the hard questions, but I definitely don’t always have the answer. Does it ever make you question God’s goodness? Do you ever feel like it’s not fair? Have you questioned God’s plan for you? If you’ve been praying for a cure every day, do you still believe in the power of prayer? Are you angry?

Some answers are easy. For some reason, I’ve never really doubted God’s goodness. And again, I’m not saying it’s because my faith is stronger than anyone else’s.. because I’ve questioned a LOT of things. I’ve just never really wondered if He is good, because I always seemed to know He is. And lately I’ve really wanted to figure out why that is. How I know He’s good, even in hard times and seasons of uncertainty. Reflecting on this year, thinking about this question, and looking at me daughter.. it was easy to answer.

I see God’s goodness when I look at Zoe Grace. When she waves hi to me as I walk into her room every morning. When she blows her daddy goodbye kisses before he goes to work. When she lights up because someone, anyone, walked in and looked at her. I see His love and His faithfulness with every smile, every giggle, every cuddle. Sometimes Zoe sneaks into our bedroom when the door is open. I find her sitting on the floor, staring at the door, waiting for me to notice. When she sees that I’ve seen her, she laughs and crawls away as fast as she can because she knows I’m going to scoop her up and tickle her and bring her back to the living room. She would do this all day if we let her. I mean.. I can’t think about these sweet moments and not know that He is good – even with chaos and life happening all around us.

Of course there are BIG reminders of God’s goodness, but the big reminders that we all seem to want are sometimes few and far between. The little reminders? They’re everywhere. Even in the sleepless nights, during sickness, on the hard days -there are text messages, meals brought over, coffee dates, babysitters galore. I guess I know He’s good because goodness can be found anywhere – and He never promised it would be everywhere (in this world). I can’t be angry that there is brokenness around me or that certain aspects of our life might be “harder” than others. It was clear to me very early on in my faith that if I’m going to follow Jesus, who was beaten, mocked, ridiculed.. then I can expect some hard times in my own faith as well. Jesus DIED for me, so I can go through life trusting & praising Him. It’s not always easy.. but clinging to Him instead of running from Him has always been worth it.

I wish I asked my husband this before he left for work today. I’m thinking about what he would say, but I already KNOW the answer. If I were to ask Mike how he trusts in Gods plans and how he knows that God is good even in hard times, he would say something simple like this: “Well.. when have things never worked out? When have we not ended up in someplace better than we thought? Hasn’t something good come from every hard time?” And isn’t that kind of logic SO TRUE. Here I am talking about noticing God’s goodness in the small moments of life making this way more complicated than it has to be: I know that God is good because He always has been. I know His plans are FOR me because of how far we’ve come. Every setback, every surprise, every struggle, it brought us HERE. We’ve always been able to look back on our hard times and see good come out of it.. way before Zoe was even a thought of ours.

Which brings me to a little note about prayer. Yes I pray for Zoe to be healed or for a cure for CF every. single. day. Yes sometimes it’s hard thinking I could pray for something every day and not see that prayer get answered. But you know what? Maybe I won’t be here to see some of the answers to my prayers. I pray for a lot of things that don’t always happen. But I still pray they happen. Maybe I won’t see a cure for CF in my time on this earth (I’m hopeful I will), but maybe it’ll come after. That’s still an answered prayer. And we definitely all know that sometimes our prayers are answered in ways we don’t expect. So I’ll pray – every day – and with great expectations. Because He doesn’t need to answer my prayers on my time, I just need to trust His. And by the way.. here are some prayer requests I posted a year ago:

  1. Pray for a cure to be found for cystic fibrosis. From what we’ve learned treatment has come a LONG way over the years, but there is still no cure. Every night I pray that a cure is found during Zoe’s lifetime. This hasn’t been answered, like I was saying, but there are new medications coming out that will make a huge differences in the lives of people with CF. We are on our way. I’d like to call this prayer “in process” instead of unanswered. Can that be a thing? I say it can.
  2. Pray for wisdom and guidance as we navigate our next steps as a family. We have a lot to consider when it comes to raising Zoe and we have some big choices to make. Since this request we have bought a house, started new jobs, figured out a way for us to be home with Zoe rather than needing full time childcare, and we were able to find affordable, great care for Zoe that even includes some grants and assistance programs making it easier financially long term. This prayer was answered. We made our next steps with confidence, and while I still have some fleeting moments of doubt, we have an overall sense of peace about it. 
  3. Pray for a continued feeling of peace in Mike and myself. We trust God with this, we know we were chosen to be Zoe’s parents for a reason. We know that with Him we can find our new normal. We want to continue feeling confident and we want to continue trusting God. I have to admit there have been feelings of anger and doubt, but we want to pray those feelings away. This prayer has been answered. I can’t imagine NOT being Zoe’s mama. I think about how we were CHOSEN to raise this sweet girl and I couldn’t feel more blessed. We’ve found our voices in advocating for her and we feel confident right now in this season. He’s answered our prayers over this past year but we will be praying this forever!
  4. Pray for our Zoe girl to gain weight! That is the biggest concern right now and we need her to chunk up as soon as possible. I mean, have you seen her belly? Prayer answered. We always want her to gain weight, but this post was right after she was diagnosed and she was losing weight. Zoe’s weight gain has been great this year. 

So in regards to prayer.. clearly He is good and He is listening.

If you’re still with me, I’m impressed. I just have ONE LAST thing I want to mention. This was also in my post a year ago, and it was more of a declaration than a prayer request:

Zoe will not be defined by her cystic fibrosis. She is a daughter of the King. She is loved and cherished. I will not let this diagnosis be her identity.  

I’m crying reading those sentences because that God this was true, is true, and will always be true. We don’t look at Zoe and see CF. We see our smart, happy little girl who loves to explore. Who is curious about everything around her. Who thinks it’s hilarious when I put a hat on my head. Who throws her head on the ground when she’s upset because she loves a little bit of drama. Who throws her food off her tray on the floor to Daisy, but then screams because she wants more.

Zoe is so much more than a diagnosis. We will educate, we will advocate, we will never fight & I’m sure we will cry.. but we will continue to LIVE OUR. LIVES. Cystic fibrosis will not rule us, only Jesus can do that. 


I love New Years. I always have and I know I always will. I’m sure if you scroll far enough down in this blog, I’ve probably written about New Years before. Hopefully I have some new insight this year, but who really knows. I tend to learn lessons on repeat. Anyway.. if you’re one of those people that hate reflective posts or dreams for the future or if you think people that make resolutions for January 1 have already failed because they could start any day.. you may want to go back to Facebook and keep scrolling. You won’t like this post. I’m ALL about fresh starts and you can start over January 1 or August 20, who the heck cares. Maybe if people were more encouraging to those that make resolutions for the new year, we’d have a lot more people still following those resolutions and pursuing their dreams. Just saying.

Anyway that’s not what this is about. Really I’m not even posting about resolutions. This is more reflective if anything. I’ve been reading everyone’s one word choices for 2019. You know, when they choose one word they want their year to be about. I absolutely love hearing the words, the why behind the words, and what everyone is looking forward to. I don’t do it every year but I’ve definitely done it before. I think one year I wanted my word to be “intentional” and then a few years ago I chose “the year without fear” as a theme for my year, with a focus on my teaching. That was my best year in my career to date (you know, out of my whopping four year career..) So I was thinking about if I wanted to choose a word for 2019. I do want to and I’ll get to that, but first I wanted to think about the past.

It started with me questioning a lot of things. Can a year really be about one word? Can we have one overlying theme for the year? Like I said, I’m a huge fan of choosing a word to focus on. But I was just having these thoughts. I didn’t choose a word for 2018 (or I forgot it if I did) but I was trying to think if there was one word that could sort of sum up my year.. if there was one theme throughout the year. It led to some great reflection but definitely more than one word. And I couldn’t have had one without the other.

2018 was a game changer for us. I say that every year, but this year I mean it in a whole new way. Life in 2019 will be completely different than I ever imagined. We will continue living a life I never thought we would be. A life that no one would really ever wish for. And that’s all because of what happened in 2018.

Fear. Word number one. This year was the scariest of my life. Anxiety and fear consumed me at times. We found out we were pregnant and that was such a high moment. I had come so far with my anxiety in the past, I didn’t think I would ever allow myself to be consumed with fear again. But then I bled in my first trimester. And that was it for me. Every. day. I wondered if my baby was okay. Sometimes it was one moment a day, other times it was constant. And I know people will say that’s normal, but it wasn’t a normal amount. I was living in fear. Throw in the legitimate medical issues that happened throughout my pregnancy (high blood pressure, gallbladder attacks, more bleeding in the third trimester) and I didn’t stand a chance. I felt guilty for this anxiety and I felt ashamed to admit it for the better part of the year. Once Zoe was born, it would get better. That’s what I told myself. Only it didn’t. If you’ve followed this blog you know that my health declined postpartum and I ended up back in the hospital. While I was there Zoe was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. The seven weeks to follow were some of the hardest of my life. Dealing with my hormones, healing from giving birth, learning about a genetic disease that I hadn’t even heard of until I was pregnant.. nothing was easy and it’s still not easy now.

But that fear turned into desperation. Desperation kept coming to my mind when thinking about this year and I think it’s perfect for word number two. I guess most people don’t want to think about their year as a year of desperation, but desperation led to some pretty great things for us. When fear and anxiety left me broken and lost, I was desperate. For hope. For comfort. For peace. For answers. For anything that would get me through everything I had been feeling. And in that desperation our faith became deeper than we could have ever imagined. The desperation was there during pregnancy as well, but we leaned on God after Zoe’s diagnosis the way I wish I leaned on God since I first accepted Him into my life ten years ago. The way we plan on leaning on Him for the rest of our lives. Out of desperation we were praying more, reaching out to friends for support, reading our bibles, clinging to one another. Our desperation ended up becoming something beautiful.

Humbling is the third word that kept coming to mind. Here’s what came up when I googled humbling:

“If something or someone humbles you, they make you realize that you are not as important or good as you thought were.

Yup. This year was humbling. The way people rallied around us and took care of us not only through Zoe’s diagnosis but through all the health scares during pregnancy, my eight weeks of bedrest, and then in huge ways after Zoe was born and we were making some big decisions, to say we were humbled would be an understatement. “You are not as important or as good as you thought you were.” We thought we could handle things on our own. We thought we were ready financially (if anyone really ever is) to have a baby, we thought we could handle the emotions that came with pregnancy and a scary diagnosis, we didn’t think bedrest would be challenging, we thought we could figure things out on our own. I definitely didn’t want to admit we were struggling. Whether emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually.. I was proud and wanted to be seen as someone who can handle hard things, I wanted us to be viewed as capable and responsible parents. Caring so much about how we’re viewed is embarrassing. But I’m just being honest. It’s hard to admit when you need help. But this year (any year) was never supposed to be about what we can do. It’s all supposed to be about what He can do. And He did some major things, using so many people in our lives. We were blessed through our community in every way possible. It was humbling. And what God did in our lives this year leads me to my last word..

Freeing. This year.. oh my gosh. It’s been the best year. The best year ever. You’re probably thinking I sound crazy after everything you’ve just read. Umm didn’t you just say this year was full of fear, desperation, and humbling experiences? Yes I did. And it was also full of freedom. Freedom to give up control. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from not being good enough, or worthy enough. I am not the same person I was a year ago. None of us are, but I can honestly say I’m a much better version of myself. There wasn’t one single thing that happened that helped me get over (most) of my fear and insecurity. It wasn’t a magic moment or a big revelation that I can describe in details. It was a million little things. It was God whispering to us, surrounding us daily. It was the way He used songs, a kind word from a friend, a Facebook post from someone I hadn’t talked to in years, a tv show.. it was just us living our lives realizing He IS here and He IS in control. Of our daughter who we’re told has a life expectancy of 37. Of me who can be paralyzed by anxiety. Of our finances. Of our living situation. Of our careers. Of or marriage.

Did you know that you can be joyful and anxious at the same time? It’s true. You can have the BEST, WORST year and no one can you otherwise. I know because I’ve lived it. For so long I didn’t want to admit I was anxious again because I thought people would assume I’m miserable and wasn’t enjoying my pregnancy. I loved parts of my pregnancy! I was growing a LIFE. Pregnancy brought me ZOE. I was obsessed with feeling her kick me. Of knowing she was relying on me to grow. I was joyful and anxious. When she was diagnosed I was fearful but still thankful. As she grows I’m still in desperate need of our Savior every day but I’m also confident and hopeful in the future. Having negative emotions doesn’t mean you’re not having positive emotions too. You’re free to feel things. I’ve felt more joy this past year than ever before. Heck, just in these past four months. Having a child changes things already, but having a child with a genetic disease gives you a whole new perspective. Small things bring great joy, and I feel lucky that I’m more aware and present in these moments than I may have been in the past.

In November, about a week after I went back to work, I felt a million pounds lighter. I was taking comfort in teaching, something I feel called to do. I was more scheduled and in a routine, there were less unknowns with Zoe as we were learning more about what day to day life with cystic fibrosis looks like. Mike was home with Zoe so I didn’t have to worry. There were no financial burdens on us thanks to the generosity of those around us. But it wasn’t like all our problems were solved. Eight months ago we didn’t have financial burdens, I was teaching, and we were in a routine. I said for weeks after going back to teaching that it must have been all I needed to feel better. Some consistency. These past few days I’ve realized that wasn’t it at all. I needed this entire year of fear, desperation, humbling experiences, and freedom to get where I am today. He’s been healing me from hurt since before the hurt even happened. On January 1, 2018 God knew where I would be on January 1, 2019. And He knew what it would take to get me there. It’s a beautiful thing.

So my word this year? I think it’s LIFE. Like I said earlier, I would typically go with something like joy, or strength, or perseverance. Those are all positive things that I definitely want over this next year. But I’ll take the hard stuff too. Without my anxiety I wouldn’t have found myself in desperate need of Jesus. Without our desperation we wouldn’t have reached out to our community and been humbled by their support. Without all of it I wouldn’t feel the freedom I do today, and I certainly wouldn’t be hearing God in my life the way I am today. Because I wasn’t listening for it before this best, worst year ever.

So.. what’s your word for 2019? And tell me about 2018.. did you focus on the word you chose? Is there one word that stands out to you as you reflect? I love sharing but as much as I love to share I love to hear about the things going on in everyone else’s lives as well.

when things are good.

Today I woke up around 7 to feed my 8 week old daughter after she slept for 8 hours. I was still tired so I put her back to bed and slept a few more hours. I got up around 9 (thank you maternity leave) and did some things around the house + got ready for the day all before my daughter woke up again. My husband (who works nights) and daughter woke up around 10, we had a slow start to the morning with coffee & breakfast, and we caught up on A Million Little Things together. We spent the next few hours hanging out together, snuggling with Zoe, playing with Daisy, and doing whatever we needed to do at home. Mike left for work around 2 and I went to my friends house where we sat and caught up and played outside with neighborhood kids. From there I went to community group where we had dinner & talked about Jesus and healing and it was sweet time together. I got home around 8:30, fed Zoe, did some cleaning/sterilizing for the next day, and then had some time to myself before going to bed. It was a good day.

Six and a half weeks ago we were sitting in a doctors office hearing that our daughters life expectancy is 34. I was on multiple medications & felt like my body was failing me. There were times that I would feel so weak I would have to put my daughter down or I would drop her. We had no idea where we would be living in the coming months and we had no idea what it looked like to care for a newborn with cystic fibrosis. The days were full of 10-12 attempts to breastfeed, then supplement, then pump. I don’t think there was a night at that point where we had gotten more than an hour of uninterrupted sleep at a time, and a lot of nights not even that. Mike was on paternity leave but it was unpaid, which was a source of anxiety but I was not in a healthy emotional state and felt like I needed him there. At that point I’m sure it was considered baby blues and normal postpartum hormones, but we knew enough about my mental health issues in the past to know that I would most likely end up battling postpartum anxiety. The days were hard. Of course we had our daughter and were thrilled to be home with her & snuggling her constantly, but we were struggling and we were desperate.

It’s easy to read those two paragraphs and think – well we desperately needed Jesus six weeks ago. And that would be true. But what I’ve been thinking about lately, as we’ve hit a sweet spot and there has been a lot of peace & healing, is that I need Jesus today just as desperately as I needed him six weeks ago.

It’s hard to wrap my head around because in times of need it’s natural to go to Jesus. At least for Mike and me. We were praying together daily, constantly seeking the Lord through scripture and worship, and I felt like my days were just a continuous conversation with Him, because I literally did not think I would get through some days without Him. I was wrecked and it was easy to be intentional with the Lord because I so badly needed Him to do something for us: to bring us peace, to start healing my body, to give us strength, to give us understanding.

Fast forward to today and like I said, I feel like we’ve hit a sweet spot these past two weeks. Is Zoe’s diagnosis still devastating? Of course. Are there still worries? Absolutely. But we’ve gotten into a rhythm and are enjoying every moment with our girl. Besides the reminder of her medication & treatments, its hard to see her as a baby with a genetic disease that she may battle all her life (holding out for healing & a cure). I’m feeling better most days and while I am working through postpartum anxiety like we thought I would, I’m overall in a much better place and have been doing things to heal my body and my spirit long term. I’m more comfortable getting out of the house, I’m doing more while I am in the house, and I’ve been more intentional with the people in our lives. Life’s been good and dare I say even *easy* some days. Which brings me to the point of this post: it’s easy to forget that we desperately need Jesus even when things are good.

Yesterday was a great day. Did I think about Jesus? Yeah, I did. I mean, I had community group. So yes I read my bible and yes I spoke to people about what God is doing and what He has done in my life. But did I cling to him like I desperately needed to six weeks ago? Absolutely not. My thoughts wandered throughout the day to things like meal planning, starting work on Monday, what we’re doing this weekend. I chose country music over worship music in the car. Mike and I did not take time to pray together. Now I’m not saying those things are bad, obviously I don’t think we’re not allowed to let our minds wander or listen to country music. But it’s clear to me what happened over these past few weeks that led to such a drastic change in my spiritual life: I got comfortable.

Comfort is such a weird thing. On the one hand it’s a good thing that I’m getting more comfortable, it means that there has been healing in so many areas of our lives. I’m feeling more confident in being Zoe’s mother. I’m working to get myself healthy again. We figured out where we’re going to be living. We are no longer worried about Zoe’s medical bills. These are all great things. The problem starts when I let myself forgot that it’s because Jesus that things are okay now. He provided for Zoe. He’s helped with my anxiety. He’s given me the strength to make some changes in my life.

I’ve blogged about my comfort zone before. I don’t even want to go back and read it because I’m sure it’s basically the same post. I hate that this is a lesson I have to learn so often. I don’t want to keep falling into my comfort zone and realize I’m not seeking Jesus. When I’m not seeking Him, I’m missing out on His plans for my life. I’m not seeing Him move. I’m not looking for opportunities to serve or to be used. And that’s not a life I want to lead.

The Bible tells us that Jesus has come so that we can have life, and have it to the full. I’ve been thinking a lot about what a full life looks like. I LOVE my days right now. I’m on maternity leave, I spend tons of time with Mike, I can see friends whenever I want, I can read, watch TV, write.. whatever I want to do (within reason with a newborn). I have no responsibility other than taking care of our daughter and making sure her needs are met. My heart is full these days but I’m not so sure that means my life is full.

I want a full life where I’m constantly asking God to make me more like Him. Where I completely understand that I need Him daily. Where I’m praying big prayers expectantly. Where I’m telling others about that Jesus died to save them. Where I’m asking for and looking for miracles. A life where I’m not always comfortable, where I don’t always know my next move. Where I’m able to give and receive grace freely. Where I’m not paralyzed with fear.

This morning I was thinking about how a life like that doesn’t require a lot of change. It honestly seems like more of a mindset shift. Like six weeks ago when praying was all I could do. And I was talking to Jesus as he was right there in the room with me. And praying came naturally because there was so much we needed.

God can still move when things are good. I just haven’t been paying attention. There is so much that He can do even when I’m comfortable in my life.

God is using others in our lives to help us grow even if there is nothing we “need,” because the truth is we always need something. It’s just not always a practical thing. But we haven’t been paying attention.

God can use me even when I’m on maternity leave and barely leaving the house. The opportunities are endless. But I haven’t been paying attention.

God can show us more of Himself and draw us near to Him in the good times. But I haven’t been paying attention enough to notice Him.

I’m going to start paying attention.

Keep me accountable – will ya?!

humbled & overwhelmed.

North Carolina vs. Maryland. Everyone’s been asking. We made a decision this week and I’m finally emotionally ready to explain why.

When we found our Zoe had a 1 in 4 chance of having cystic fibrosis when I was pregnant, we made the decision that if she had it we would move back to Maryland. We talked about it a lot but didn’t pray about it much or anything, it was just practical and we were just like “yeah, we would definitely need to move back.” And we left it at that.

Here’s why it was practical:

  • Monthly insurance cost. The difference of what I’m paying here and what I was paying in MD honestly makes me queasy. But we knew if Zoe had CF we would add her to my plan because it has better coverage than Mikes. Adding her to my insurance would be a biiiiig change in our monthly budget.
  • Out of pocket maximum with insurance. The Maryland state plan is just much better insurance, there’s nothing more to it. We’ve been told we will pay our out of pocket maximum every year, and if we don’t, then consider ourselves lucky. Our plan here is decent for North Carolina, but the out of pocket maximum is thousands more than it is in Maryland.
  • Family. Seeing as Mike and I both grew up in Maryland, both of our families are still living there.
  • Child care. We would have basically free child care/lots of help because of our family.

Financially I’m sure you’re all reading this and you’re like, “okay, so why are they not on their way to Maryland now?” And I know, I hear you. And sometimes I feel the same way.

But of course it all changed with Zoe’s diagnosis. It’s easy to make a hypothetical decision when you’re really thinking you won’t have to actually do it. When the reality hit that she did indeed have CF, we realized we weren’t going to just go with our original decision that was just practical. We wanted to take more time. Especially since our community showed up in a big way and I had huge hormonal postpartum emotions about leaving this group that would drop everything to pray for us (see previous post).

So we chose a date. September 15th. It was two weeks from her diagnosis and we were going to pray every single day that God would tell us where we should be before September 15th. Now I’m going to be honest and say that for all the growth we’ve had this year, Mike and I really need to work on praying together. We don’t do it nearly as much as we should. Since Zoe was born I feel like we’ve learned to pray again and boy did we pray. We prayed and prayed and PRAYED to hear Gods voice. God – just tell us where we should be.

I must have said a thousand times to Mike: “Yeah, I feel like we should move back to Maryland, but not because God told me or anything, just because I’m scared.”

So we kept praying. It was definitely finances that was holding me back if I’m being honest. Obviously I have friends and family that I adore in Maryland, and it kills me still to think about Zoe not being able to see her family whenever she wants, but last summer we felt called to North Carolina. So it was worth asking ourselves why would God be calling us back so soon?

This is the part where you’re waiting for me to say we heard Gods voice loud and clear right? Unfortunately that didn’t really happen. There was no moment of where we felt God pulling us to North Carolina OR Maryland. But we definitely heard from God. We both had moments of worship separately where we just had an overwhelming feeling of peace and that God would provide for us no matter where we were. We were always energized by this peace and the feeling of God so near, but I kept thinking how is this helpful?! You’ll provide for us where God?!

September 15th was getting closer and we weren’t any closer to a decision. We knew we would be happy either place, but we definitely wanted to try to stay in North Carolina if we could. We tried to find a cheaper place to live, I was looking into higher paying jobs, Mike was thinking about more hours or a new restaurant. We were constantly crunching numbers to figure out what we would need to do to stay financially.

That week started getting weird when we got a pretty nice check in the mail. Apparently this was from something (I’ll spare the details) with the sale of our house a YEAR ago and they didn’t have our new address. I also woke up one morning that week and my disability check had been deposited into our account. Only it wasn’t one check, it was two, and it was more than double what we had originally expected to receive. Then I had a friend reach out to me – she sells Stella and Dot. She wanted to run an online party for me and she was going to donate all of her commission back to Zoe for any medical needs that come up.

If all those unexpected gifts of $ doesn’t blow you away already, here’s the kicker:

Two of our closest friends here pulled us aside and basically casually said: “We understand you have lots of reasons to move back to Maryland. We support you regardless, but we don’t want it to be a decision you make just based on finances. We sent a text to our community group and within an hour we had enough money to cover Zoe’s insurance for a YEAR.”

I’m embarrassed to talk about how I reacted, but I’ve always been pretty transparent on here. I felt like a charity case. My pride definitely stepped in and I immediately thought in my head, “well there is no way we’re accepting this, it’s so embarrassing and we should be able to provide for our own kid.” And honestly I still have moments where I’m embarrassed that we would even need people to help us financially – but clearly I’m working through it because I went from thinking we wouldn’t even accept it to blogging about it for all the world to see. #progress

We thanked our friends and we’re definitely overwhelmed/processing and we just told them we would be thinking about it. We were honestly in shock that people were so willing and so quick to give. I have some verrry generous people in my life (here’s looking at you Sonya) that I owe so much to, but I’ve never felt such support and love from a GROUP of people before. It was super emotional and I hate that I let my pride ruin it even just for a little.

That night was when I had my breakthrough. I was laying in bed and I was praying and I could just SEE Zoe growing up IN this community. With my church pouring into her. With our friends loving on her, and her running around with their kids. I thought, how cool is it that Zoe has lots of adults looking out for her, even as an infant? Isn’t she lucky to have so many adults play a huge role in her life? And I’m not trying to be dramatic – partially paying her health insurance, or donating money for her future health needs, is a HUGE role to me. It’s being a part in keeping her healthy, it’s being a part in allowing her to get what she needs to THRIVE and live the life God wants her to live.

It was clear that God was sending us a message with all of these things: He will provide. Don’t worry about the money.

We “made our decision” by the 15th, but then I went back and forth. I was really struggling with saying yes to other people’s money, whether it be through the church or Stella and Dot or just the random checks or Venmo notifications I would get. It was hard for me to think that we needed it, that people might think less of us, etc. I spent time applying for jobs in Maryland, I talked to friends about specific jobs that were open and it was very tempting! Everyone knows I loved teaching up there. Ultimately, we decided that rushing to move back in a few weeks (our lease is up, I would have put in my notice before my maternity leave was up) wasn’t what we wanted and we decided to trust God with our finances here. If we feel differently in the future we can always think and pray about it again.

Now I’m not naive enough to think all this generosity will take away all of our financial concerns of living here. Cystic fibrosis is for life (well actually I rebuke that because there will be a cure in Zoe’s lifetime) and we need to be much smarter with our money from here on out. We had made lots of progress with finances lately but a genetic disease like CF can really shake things up. The amazing thing is that the generosity of our friends and family frees us up this year to plan. It gives us the time we need to rebudget, tackle some of our debt, change the way we’re living win day to day expenses, and pursue ways to make more money in the future – whether it be new careers, promotions, raises, etc. Because of our amazing friends/family, and the random extra checks, we can do all those things this year without having to worry about Zoe’s financial health needs being met. If we had decided to stay before receiving any of these gifts, we honestly would have been scraping by. Of course it would have depended on how the year goes for Zoe health wise – but you know what I mean. We wouldn’t have been prepared for anything major. And major things can happen anytime with CF.

Vertical life has been life changing. Our community and our people… it’s unreal. For a year I’ve been saying our marriage will never be the same because of our church, now my daughter is only four weeks old and already she’ll never be the same because of it. None of us will be. In all the best ways. Even outside of vertical life – the support we’ve gotten from our community near AND far is overwhelming. You’ve all kept us going, you’ve kept us out of dark places, and you’ve given us strength that we (I ) so often need (Let’s face it – Mikes a rock and is always calm, cool, & collected).

I like to think that one day we will be able to repay everyone. Maybe not literally. But pay it forward. I hope that Mike and I will be able to serve others the way that we’ve been served. I pray that we will be able to bless others financially the way we’ve been blessed. Hopefully we can give back and change the lives of others the way that ours have been changed.

If you’ve ever doubted it, I hope this encourages you. God will provide.


Oh and disclaimer: if you’re reading this and you donated to us through our church and haven’t heard from me personally yet – it’s because we don’t know exactly who gave yet! We were told our community group but are going to get a list of names. Just needing to throw that out there because I will most definitely be reaching out to thank you in person!

12 days of beautiful chaos.

After a long six weeks of bedrest, my beautiful baby girl was born on August 24th. We actually had an induction date of August 27th, but at our appointment on the 23rd our babe failed her non stress test, so it led to an immediate induction that afternoon. They weren’t worried about her really, it was more of just a precaution.

I’ll spare you the details of my labor story (although I love telling it) and just start with when she was born. She didn’t cry immediately coming out of the womb, and that was one of the most terrifying moments I’ve had during my short time as a mom. It didn’t take long before she was screaming though, and the only “issues” she had was a low temperature they monitored for a while and the fact that she swallowed some amniotic fluid and would be coughing up mucus for the first day or so. She was so pale for a while, it was clear that birth was traumatic for her. That’s what the doctors kept describing it as: traumatic.

Fast forward the next two days in recovery and everything was going well. We had never been more in love. She was the sweetest little babe weighing under 7 pounds. There was a struggle with feeding due to the amniotic fluid she swallowed, but we were working through it. Her temperature was okay and she was never taken from us for treatment for any of these small issues. We were told they were all fairly common. We went home that Sunday and were so ready to start our new life as a family of three.

We had visitors galore those next few days, with both of our families coming down to meet our precious girl. I was feeling pretty good, and have to say that I wasn’t concerned about my blood pressure at all. That’s why I was on bedrest prior to birth by the way, my blood pressure had gotten higher at 33 weeks and I was diagnosed with gestational hypertension. Gestational hypertension can turn into something much more serious if not treated, but the bedrest kept my blood pressure within a normal range and I was monitored closely for those last six weeks of pregnancy. And by closely I mean CLOSELY, I think I went to labor & delivery at least six times before I actually gave birth. At times I felt a little crazy, but now I’m not embarrassed to say that I was just doing everything in my power to make sure my baby girl was okay. Fast forward to birth and recovery and my blood pressure was great, I left the hospital that Sunday with it being completely normal. I didn’t even ask about my gestational hypertension, I knew enough to know that it typically went away with birth.

That Monday I was not feeling myself, and I could tell something was wrong. I checked my blood pressure and it was much higher than it ever was even during pregnancy. I had never had an issue with my blood pressure before pregnancy. I knew that reading wasn’t good, but we had a lot of visitors, I had been through a lot, so I decided to sleep on it and see how I felt in the morning. When I woke up I still wasn’t feeling well and ended up going to see my doctor. I had a high reading at the office and was put on medication for the first time. They told me to track my blood pressure twice a day and let them know if nothing changed. My blood pressure continued to rise even with medication and they sent me the next day for blood work. The blood work showed that I did not have preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome, so they upped my medication. Even with the larger dose my blood pressure continued to rise. It got to the point where I was concerned enough to go to the emergency room and was admitted. They sent me back to labor and delivery and I was there for three days as they tried to get my blood pressure to come back down. Apparently this does happen and is common, but to me it’s still so bizarre. I hated that I had never had an issue before and now I do. I hate that I have to take two different medications three times a day to keep my blood pressure controlled. My doctors are all confident that as my body heals from pregnancy my blood pressure will come back down and I’ll eventually be able to come off the meds. They said this takes some people 6-8 weeks postpartum. We are praying that this is the case for me.

Rewinding back to Zoe: when she was in the hospital she lost a little too much weight than they liked, so we went to our pediatrician the day after we were released. We were working with a lactation consultant and trying to figure out ways for her to gain. We went back that Tuesday, and then my husband took her back that Thursday  when I was in the hospital for a weight check. She was maintaining her weight but not gaining. They were not overly concerned since she wasn’t losing, but she was going to be watched closely. That Monday we were told that her newborn screening had tested positive for cystic fibrosis. We were NOT worried at that point, because we knew that the newborn screen would come back positive if she was a carrier OR if she had the disease. Basically, she had a 75% chance of this screening coming back positive. For some quick background information: I found out I was a carrier of a cystic fibrosis gene during pregnancy. We were told there’s a 1 in 30 chance for Caucasians to be carriers. We decided NOT to test my husband because we definitely didn’t think we would both be 1 in 30. When I ended up switching doctors at 28 weeks, they insisted we test my husband too. He did turn out to be a carrier, so we were told our odds for Zoe having cystic fibrosis were 1 in 4. There was a 25% chance she would have the disease, a 50% chance that she would be a carrier of the gene like Mike and me, and a 25% chance that she would not have the disease and would not carry the gene. Anyway, like I said, we were not concerned about her newborn screening. We knew she had a high chance of it being positive, but we still thought we had good odds of her just being a carrier of the gene.

When Zoe was 7 days old we got a call from a CF clinic nearby. Our pediatrician had sent the results of the newborn screening to some place in Wisconsin, and they tested Zoe’s blood for common cystic fibrosis genes. They found two genes in her blood. We had done enough research to know what that meant: Zoe has cystic fibrosis. If you don’t know a lot about cystic fibrosis and are curious, I would suggest checking out I hadn’t even heard of it until I found out I was a carrier during pregnancy. I wish I could bring myself to type it all out, to tell you all what we’ve been told, but that will have to wait for a stronger day. I’ll get there.

This call came to us while we were in the hospital. It caused my blood pressure that was getting controlled to skyrocket again, and we ended up staying another night in the hospital. We were heartbroken. We knew this was a possibility. I’ve spent HOURS researching, even though everyone told me not to. I just wanted to be prepared. I strongly hold the belief that knowledge is power. And I am so glad I was prepared. When we found out we were carriers, everyone was so positive and optimistic: “That means there’s a 75% chance she is fine! There is no way she will have it! Don’t even worry about it, my _____ are carriers too and all their kids are fine.” Everyone meant well, I know that, but I would talk to my husband and tell him I was a little bitter about it. I felt like people thought I was crazy or not trusting God enough to even worry that it might be a possibility. The truth is, I trusted God completely with this potential diagnosis. I felt a peace about it and knew that while she might have it, somehow God would use it. I never once wished it on her, of course, but I never got to the point of “she couldn’t possibly have it because that’s not Gods will for her” and sometimes I still feel guilty about that.

It was Friday afternoon that we got that call. It was one of the longest nights of my life. The hardest part by far was calling our family members and letting them know. The tears were real and they will continue for a while I’m sure. We decided to reach out to our church and ask them to come pray for us. That was something we had never done. I’ve asked people to pray, of course, but I’ve never asked people to come to us in person and pray for us. We had probably 15 people come to our hospital room that next day. That morning, we were told that I would have to be in the hospital another night because of my blood pressure readings the night before and the fact that they had to up my medicine. Our friends came around 10:00 to start praying. They prayed for me, for Zoe, for Mike. For healing, answers, guidance, peace.. you name it. They prayed over us and literally while the last person was praying, my doctor walked in. She waited for them to finish and then told us they were sending me home because my blood pressure had gone down significantly throughout the morning. We had never felt so loved and we had never felt Gods presence so much in a moment. All I wanted was to go home to figure out what life would look like for Zoe. To say that I felt guilt for being in the hospital again was an understatement. I cried everyday to Mike about the possibility of my anxiety causing my blood pressure to rise, my weight causing my blood pressure issues, the potential that everything was all in my head because I was so emotional. Now I know those things are not true, but mom guilt is real and I felt so guilty being in the hospital, forcing my husband and newborn to stay with me, instead of being at home starting our lives together.

We truly believe that God answered our prayers and stepped into that hospital room. I was home within an hour and my blood pressure has significantly gone down everyday since. I am still on medication and do not want to be, but I know that God is healing me day by day and I am so thankful that I have been home and healthy enough to take Zoe to doctors appointments, make phone calls, and figure out the next steps for our family. We are so thankful for our community here that hasn’t let us cook a meal since we’ve been home. They were willing to come to the hospital/change plans/find babysitters just to pray for us. They prayed for peace in this season and I have to say we have felt it. Mike had the opportunity to share with our church that Sunday. I actually was feeling up for it and took my nine day old baby to church to support him. He was already planning on sharing before everyone showed up to the hospital, but that experience made it even more meaningful. Watching my sweet husband speak on stage so confidently about the difference our community has made in our lives was one of my favorite moments we’ve had here in North Carolina.

Zoe has been seen by specialists since we got that phone call. We found out she had lost even more weight and it was hard knowing that she wasn’t getting what she needed from us for the first 11 days of her life. She’s now taking enzymes at every feeding, has a vitamin she takes once a day, and we have been adding salt into her formula/breastmilk. We THINK we can already tell a difference, but only time will tell!

I don’t know all the answers. We’ve been bombarded by people we love giving us information, connecting us with people they know in the CF world, sending us resources. But honestly we’re just taking it a day at a time. I’m blogging about this for a few reasons:

  1. I’ve always tried to be transparent and I’ve already blogged about the potential of this diagnosis, so I know people are wondering.
  2. You better believe I am going to become a huge advocate for CF research and seeing as I didn’t even know what CF was a couple months ago, I am planning to spread awareness.
  3. Parenting may look different because we have a child with CF. We won’t always be able to have visitors, to go places, and life may not look as typical as it does for other children. We plan on giving Zoe the most normal life possible, but we also plan on protecting her and being cautious when it comes to her health. We will find the balance.
  4. We are desperate to have people praying big prayers for us. We DO believe God can heal Zoe if that’s in His plan, but if/until that happens, we have other prayer requests:
    1. Pray for a cure to be found for cystic fibrosis. From what we’ve learned treatment has come a LONG way over the years, but there is still no cure. Every night I pray that a cure is found during Zoe’s lifetime.
    2. Pray for wisdom and guidance as we navigate our next steps as a family. We have a lot to consider when it comes to raising Zoe and we have some big choices to make.
    3. Pray for a continued feeling of peace in Mike and myself. We trust God with this, we know we were chosen to be Zoe’s parents for a reason. We know that with Him we can find our new normal. We want to continue feeling confident and we want to continue trusting God. I have to admit there have been feelings of anger and doubt, but we want to pray those feelings away.
    4. Pray for our Zoe girl to gain weight! That is the biggest concern right now and we need her to chunk up as soon as possible.

Zoe will not be defined by her cystic fibrosis. She is a daughter of the King. She is loved and cherished. I will not let this diagnosis be her identity. I am not sure if I will blog often about cystic fibrosis – on the one hand, I want to raise awareness and I love sharing because I know there are people out there that may be able to relate to what we’re going through. On the other hand, if I blog about it constantly, I feel I may be giving cystic fibrosis more power over our lives than it deserves. I’m undecided, but for now, we wanted to share because our village has been there with us through so much already, we know we need them now.

Thank you all for your continued support and prayers!

when you hear Gods voice.

Years ago I struggled with anxiety. I had always struggled with it, but I hit a low point in college where there were days filled with anxiety attacks, side effects from medications, psychiatrists, and days/weeks of missed classes and what felt like a complete halt on my life. I don’t really know how to explain what changed or when. It was slow, but eventually I found myself healing. It had a lot to do with my relationship with Mike at the time and our desire to seek God as much as possible in preparation for our marriage. While I was learning about marriage from couples in our lives, my mentor, my friends, God was slowly revealing His truth to me that brought back a sense of peace and comfort into my life that I had been missing.

By the time we got married, I had stopped all medication and got to a place where I felt I could lean on my relationship with the Lord to keep my anxiety “in check.” Now I know I must have written about this before, but I want to be clear that I am NOT against medication for mental illness and I absolutely do not think that taking medicine means you’re not relying on the Lord (which people have argued with me before). I know that can be a controversial topic and I don’t mean it to be, my choice was personal and it was mainly because I felt like constantly changing dosages and trying to find the perfect balance of meds was doing more harm than good in my life. If I had ever found the correct dosage, maybe my decision would have been different.

Anyway, that is not what this post is about. Fast forward four years to today, and I definitely still describe myself as an anxious person but I truly didn’t think I had been in a place of struggling with my anxiety in a really long time. It wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that I realized my anxiety has definitely manifested itself in a different way. There may not have been anxiety attacks and days of missing work and other events, but it was there. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it started, but now that I’ve been aware and reflecting I realize it’s definitely related to my pregnancy. I think I’ve been shoving the thought that I could be anxious over something that’s supposed to be so joyful because I felt guilty. I know that not everyone can get pregnant, it takes some couples years to conceive, there is loss, complications, and so much more heartbreak when it comes to pregnancy. We found out we were pregnant on Christmas Eve and it was one of the very best moments of my life, but I would be lying if I said that feeling lasted. Don’t get me wrong, of course there is an underlying joy of growing our sweet baby.  There are moments and days where I have loved every second of it, and overall I would say I have enjoyed my pregnancy. That’s where this is so confusing. Can you feel like you’ve loved AND missed every second of something?

Hear me out. This is how I think my anxiety showed up again: by making me only want to get through the day. It was almost immediate. I had it in my mind that if we just made it to 12 weeks I could relax. Week by week I would count, read about pregnancy and statistics, wonder about every symptom I was having. Then it was 24 weeks for viability. After 24 weeks hit, I sat there wondering why I was still just thinking about getting through the day. It’s really no way to live. I’ve had some complications this pregnancy, and I typically overshare and I really haven’t with this (until now), but multiple scares early on led me to be uber-focused on Zoe. Obviously being focused on your pregnancy doesn’t sound like a problem, and I guess it’s not in and of itself. The problem came when I realized a few weeks ago how unfocused I’ve been on everything else. Everything in my life took a backseat because of my worry and my need to be constantly thinking about what could be going on in my body. I’ve been on autopilot. I would wake up, go to work, go home, do anything I was supposed to do that night, go to bed. Repeat. I definitely wasn’t the teacher I’ve been in the past, I’m sure I wasn’t always the wife I should be, and I know I’ve neglected some of my friends in the process. It’s just been day to day – countdowns to the weekend, countdowns to summer, countdowns to baby. Did I ever stop to pay attention to what was happening now? (The answer is yes, but a lot less than I should have been).

After realizing this a few weeks ago I would love to say awareness brought me back to life and I turned off autopilot and started to enjoy and focus on every moment. Unfortunately my guilt has gotten the best of me and feeling like I’ve neglected some of the most important aspects of my life for the past few months was a lot to process. I started intentionally praying about it, seeking the Lord even more, and reading/researching anxiety again. I felt like I was able to get a grip on things for a few days and then this week everything came to a screeching halt. For a few weeks/maybe a month I’ve been having some pain, and by some pain I mean I was curled on the bathroom floor thinking I was either in labor or having a heart attack multiple times. We suspected from my very thorough google searches that I was having an issue with my gallbladder, but it was confirmed through multiple doctors appointments that I am now having gallbladder issues brought on by pregnancy. Another thing for me to feel guilty about, I thought, because I thought it was directly related to my health. However I was assured by multiple professionals that this is not often talked about but very common for pregnancy and they’ve seen in numerous times. Our hope and prayer is that the issue goes away after pregnancy as my doctor thinks it will, and luckily the only major change I’ve had to make is not giving into my cravings for Chick-fil-A. And I say luckily but I don’t actually mean it because hello.. it’s Chick-fil-A. But I got this.

We also got the news this week that Mike and I are both carriers of the same exact gene for cystic fibrosis. We were told on Tuesday that Zoe has a 1 in 4 chance of being born affected by it. I know some people might think it’s crazy to share  but most of you know by now that this is how I process and I’ve always embraced being transparent. I lost that in some ways this year and I want to take it back. We found out I was a carrier earlier in the pregnancy – probably around 12 weeks. It’s a whole long story and there was a big miscommunication where I was told I needed to come in immediately (meanwhile I’m at work and crying and my principal did not yet know about my pregnancy) and that I would be going to the hospital. All this to find out that I am only a carrier, which apparently the odds were 1 in 28. My doctor did suggest getting my husband tested, but it’s another long story as to why that didn’t happen. We ended up switching doctors because of all the issues and when we went to my first appointment with the new doctor at 24 weeks they tested Mike. It took about two weeks for us to get the results, but there were days that I didn’t even think about it. For someone that has been so focused on everything that can go wrong in pregnancy, I honestly did not even think that Mike would ALSO be 1 in 28. And the doctors were adamant that it was super rare for carriers to end up together, but they just wanted to rule it out. So when I got the call on Tuesday afternoon I wasn’t sure how to feel. Shocked wouldn’t be the word to describe it, and I didn’t fall to pieces or anything like that. I felt a weird calm about it, maybe with a little bit of denial, and set off to do some research.

I’m not going to bore you with the details of my emotional rollercoaster these past three days. I’ve shed some tears but I’m not sure if they are tears of fear or worry or what. All I know is that the sense of calm in the background hasn’t left. We met with a specialist and she told us all the same things I had already found out from the internet. I could have run the meeting honestly. It’s the first time this pregnancy that my need to research has left me feeling empowered rather than worried. We did decide that we will not being doing any testing during pregnancy because the test in invasive and comes with risk, so it was easy to turn down. This means that we will wait until Zoe is born to see if she is affected or not. It does pain me a little to not know, but 13 weeks will fly by in the grand scheme of things and we will know soon enough.

This post is lengthy and if you’re still reading I’m thoroughly impressed. I titled it “when you hear Gods voice” and I have yet to explain how that’s happened. You would think finding out that my pregnancy is now considered “high risk” would make me feel like my worry and anxiety leading up to this point was justified, that I would be saying “See! This is why I was worried!” Fortunately, it’s been the opposite. Yes, there are moments of doubt and fear and I’m sure it’ll be that way throughout the rest of my pregnancy but I woke up suddenly aware of so much truth:

1) God has been preparing our hearts for this moment. Mike and I have had to have conversations about future biological children the past few days. While I’ve learned this is a very controversial topic in the CF community, and I truly believe it’s a personal decision and there is no one right answer (and ours could certainly change), Mike and I are have been leaning toward no more biological children, regardless of whether or not our sweet Zoe is affected by CF. We love Zoe and know she is a beautiful gift from God, but we truly believe that this may be the reason God has given us a heart for foster care and adoption in the future. We’ve debated at least weekly since getting pregnant how many biological children we want, how many adopted, how many spots for foster children, etc. It’s always been a conversation but I knew I wanted the experience of being pregnant at least once if possible. I have plenty of friends that can’t picture adoption at all, and that it totally okay, but I’m thankful we’ve always wanted to do it, because it’s made processing through this information a lot easier than it could have been.

2) Mike named our daughter after he had an experience of hearing Gods voice for the first time. Zoe means life and Grace means favor of God. Her name literally speaks the truth that she will have a life full of the favor of God. No matter what life looks like for our girl, her name has brought me so much comfort already.

3) God used me even when I wasn’t paying attention. Now I don’t have tons of scripture to back that up with, and I don’t have lots of stories to share about how I was used. But I woke up with a little less guilt about how unfocused I’ve been lately and very clearly felt like God was telling me to trust Him. Should I be more focused and present in the moment? Absolutely. Do I need to make some changes? Yes. And that’s the plan. But I’m also trusting in the truth that God uses us even when we don’t feel worthy, even in our weakest times.

4) God is in control. Looking back I laugh to myself because WHY would I spend so much time worrying about things I literally cannot control? In fact, I was So worried about what I can’t control that I didn’t pay attention to what I could. I don’t want to live that way anymore, and God certainly doesn’t want me to either. It’s like I woke up this morning being embraced by God, suddenly feeling so much more trusting of him. I guess it just took me hitting a breaking point to feel it instead of just knowing it.

I’m going to end with a disclaimer like I always do, because I always overthink how people will react to what I post. Hear me when I say that this year in North Carolina has been incredible. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s been a year of growth, a year of healing, and year of learning. I’m so thankful for our time and our community here. Yes, I’ve felt like I’ve been on autopilot and yes, I’ve felt like overall I haven’t been the wife, teacher, friend I know I can be. But that does not take away from the amazing moments we’ve had and the memories we’ve made. I’m just ready to get rid of the underlying sense of anxiety that has slowly crept back into my life.

Now hear me say this: I’m not looking for people to tell me I’ve been great this year and I’m being hard on myself. This is not about a need for encouragement, it’s about transparency and realness and maybe letting someone else relate to what I’m going through. Anxiety and depression are talked about a lot for after pregnancy, but not much during. Mental health in general is still not talked about enough, and everyone knows I’ve always wanted that to change. I also want accountability, and by finally being open and honest about all this, I know that’ll happen. The problem with autopilot is that it’s easy and comfortable and so easy to go back to. I’m not willing to let that happen.

As always, thanks for reading! If you made it through the whole thing you deserve a reward.

have to, get to, desperately want to.

These past few weeks have been good but different, and while at the moment I want to say I’m in a little bit of a spiritual funk, thinking back.. I’ve spent more time with Jesus lately than I have in a long time. I’ve been fired up, passionate, and intentional about my conversations and my time. Overall I’ve felt good, but right now I feel -for lack of a better word- blah. All day long I’ve been trying to put my finger on it. Why do I feel this way? What is going on? And two words kept coming up over and over again: have to.

Moving here, Mike and I had (have) high expectations for ourselves. Moving away is a fresh start, something brand new. We can be whoever we want to be and we don’t have to worry about everyone knowing everything about our pasts. We loved our lives in Maryland, don’t get me wrong, but we wanted (want) to be better versions of ourselves here. We want to get into healthier routines and habits and be more intentional with our relationships and growth in God. There were so many conversations about that – who we were going to be down here, what was going to look the same, what was going to be different. It didn’t take long for my constant need for control to take over, which leads me to the two words: have to. 

I have to be a better wife to my husband: I have to trust him more, I have to let him lead, I have to stop trying to control him and his relationship with the Lord.
I have to be a better Christian: I have to find a church home and get involved immediately, I have to make friends there, I have to never miss a Sunday. I have to volunteer, I have to listen to old sermons. I have to have at least thirty minutes of quiet time each day. I have to pray without ceasing, I have to worship more.
I have to be a better friend: I have to have intentional conversations daily. I have to challenge and encourage them. I have to be available. I have to be on – positive – happy. I have to make friends from all different areas of my life.
I have to be a better human: I have to work out daily to be healthy. I have to start losing more weight so that I can have a baby one day. I have to stop eating dessert, I have to start eating all my fruits and vegetables. I have to set huge goals for myself and make sure I meet them.

I have to keep up with a cleaning schedule for my home. I have to help out around the house. I have to work work work and get out of my student loan debt. I have to stop spending too much. I have to find a place for us to live.

Have to. Have to. Have to. The list could go on and on.

Seriously. In my mind, I have to do these things. This is my chance to be better. What I realized is that setting these things up as “have to’s” in my life was setting myself up for failure. Of course I haven’t done all of those things consistently. The plan totally backfired and has since turned me into a controlling, bitter human being that feels like a total failure. Constantly disappointing yourself over and over again is not good for your heart and soul.

So yesterday I was thinking to a sermon by Francis Chan and I was a little distracted by my thoughts and I suddenly heard him say something along the lines of, “And we get to do that. We get to change for Jesus.” GET TO? I literally don’t know if I’ve ever had that mindset. What a shift in perspective. We do have to do these things for Jesus, we GET to do these things – and what they lead to is pretty amazing.

I have get to be a better wife to my husband: I’ll trust him more, I’ll get to experience and learn about the way he leads, I have to stop trying to control him and his relationship with the Lord, He will grow in his faith the way God want him to, not me.
I have get to be a better Christian: I get to find a church home and get involved immediately, I get to make friends there, I get to have a place I want to be every Sunday. I get to volunteer, I get to listen to old sermons to learn something new. I get to have at least thirty minutes of quiet time each day, I get to pray without ceasing, I get to worship – how incredible is it that we GET to do these things? That we can be this close to a God that loves and created us. That we can feel His presence. That we can learn from Him. This is BEAUTIFUL, not a burden. What was I thinking?
I have to be a better friend: I have to have intentional conversations daily. I have to challenge and encourage them. I have to be available. I have to be on – positive – happy. I have to make friends from all different areas of my life.
I have get to be a better human: I get to work out daily to be healthy because my body allows me to do so. I get to start losing more weight so that I can be in the best shape for my children and my pregnancies (maybe).  I get to set huge goals for myself and I get to experience a sense of accomplishment when I meet them.

I get to keep up with a cleaning schedule for my home, that some people may not have. I get to help out around the house as a way to show my gratitude for such great friends that took us in. I get to work work work BECAUSE of my student loan debt that led to my college degree. I get to stop spending too much and learn to save and budget for my family. I get to find a place for us to live, a place for us to call home.

It’s a game changer. Even typing it all out was therapeutic for me. I am not naive enough to think I’ll never have a “have to” thought again. I probably will again later today. But this is a start. A shift in my thinking and every time I say “have to” I will be reminded of this lesson that I need to learn over and over again.

So here’s what I desperately want: I desperately want to know what it feels like to completely surrender to Jesus and give up my control. I desperately want GRACE to be my gut reaction – to others and to myself. I desperately want to live a life that glorifies God, that points others to Him – and not just in my blog posts. I desperately want to be closer to Jesus – and I want to WANT to do the hard things in my life, knowing that they will lead me somewhere great. Most of all, I desperately want to accept that the struggle is part of it. That these are the moments that shape us.

So Jesus, change my heart. Hear my prayer: change. my. heart. I desperately want to be more like You.

spiritual warfare or life in a broken world?

I’m writing this from a hospital room. It’s 11:19 PM and my husband is trying to get some sleep in the hospital bed while I sit on a recliner next to him. We’ve never been in this place before – neither of us have had overnight hospital stays since we were children. Let me start by saying that everything is okay. I’m going to have to get Mikes approval before posting this because he doesn’t share a lot on social media and would hate to have everyone fawning all over him telling him to get better. Clearly he’s the opposite of me – a classic overshare-er(?) and someone who loves the encouragement and support of everyone around her (aka, attention. I’ll call it like it is). Anyway, Mike was admitted to the hospital earlier tonight. We were actually on our way to the beach and decided to stop at an urgent care because we thought Mike might have an infection from a cut on his foot, but it had only just gotten red today and we didn’t think much of it. They drew his blood and then told us to go to the emergency room immediately. I never want to hear those words again. Here we learned that it is an infection but it had spread so quickly and he had so many other symptoms (fever, body aches, loss of appetite) that they wanted to monitor him overnight to make sure it gets better. They are not worried, but taking precautions and wanting to make sure he’s headed in the right direction as these antibiotics kick in. So here we are.

I’ve gone through a range of emotions through all of it, naturally. Fear, panic, anger, and doubt among them. My sister was the first one to say, “It sounds like cellulitis” so I googled it and of course the first thing I see is “could be life threatening.” And we all know from my last post that I am NOT good in a crisis. Although I have to say I handled this much better than the car issue.. #progress. Once everything settled and we knew he was going to be okay, it almost felt comical. We talked about how North Carolina hates us and how much has gone wrong in the last month. The house falling through, losing out on job opportunities, Mikes car breaking down, now this. Not to mention the financial strain of it all. It hasn’t been an easy transition by any means. Don’t get me wrong, SO many blessings and so many answered prayers amidst all these trials. But the trials keep coming.

I don’t talk about satan and spiritual warfare often. Not many people do. But earlier in the week I had just talked about it with a friend of ours. Of how real spiritual warfare is, and how satan does attack. Side note: I’m taking the extra time to backspace and retype satan every time because it keeps wanting to give satan a capital S. I read a blog once (I think from Jon Acuff, but I could be wrong) where he said that every time he was talking about the devil he would type satan instead of Satan because a lowercase letter is like the middle finger of grammar. I loved it. And that’s where I’m at right now. Anyway, no one wants to talk about satan or spiritual warfare. And I don’t blame us. It’s confusing and misunderstood and quite frankly almost impossible to wrap your head around.

But it’s real. Ephesians 6:11-12 says “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” These forces are literally waging a war against God and His people. Against me. Against Mike. And it might be uncomfortable or feel weird to address it, but it needs to be addressed.

I listened to a sermon by Francis Chan earlier tonight and he talked about how some people call spiritual warfare on anything that goes wrong. His exact example was, “Ugh, my shoelace came untied. It’s gotta be the devil.” I loved what he said about it because there IS spiritual warfare but there is also just life. Life in a broken, sinful world. It’s so hard to tell the difference, but quite frankly, I don’t think it matters. If what is going wrong is a product of sin or brokenness, it’s still a foothold for satan to grab onto in your life. Obviously, little things happen and I don’t think a constant “we’re under attack” is necessary for everything that doesn’t go our way. What I do think is necessary is an awareness of this war against us and what we can do to fight back.

I’m passionate about this right now because if I didn’t have these conversations with friends lately, or if I didn’t read a post shared with me on Facebook about the devil, or if I didn’t receive a text from my aunt tonight saying that the enemy is working against us.. then I don’t know if I would have been aware of what might be going on here. Of what the enemy is trying to do – or what he will try to do using these circumstances.

Immediately tonight, I started to doubt Gods goodness. Seriously.. it was IMMEDIATE. And I LOVE God and feel like I know Him well. That didn’t matter. We were on our way to the beach, to see friends that we’ve cancelled on multiple times before. We just took care of the last crisis. We just figured out my job situation. We JUST got back up after being knocked down. Why would God do this to us? Why is the happening? Why us, why us, why us? Again, I have no shame in admitting my flaws.. if God is so good, then why are all these things happening to us? You guys, isn’t this exactly what satan does? I mean, it’s biblical! This is exactly what satan did to Eve. He made her doubt Gods goodness. “Would God really tell you to not eat from the tree?” When we doubt God, satan grabs on to that. He uses it against us. But because I’m aware of this tonight, I won’t be doubting Gods goodness in this hospital anymore.

Another aspect of it all is the worry. If I’m worrying, then I’m not worshipping. If all I’m worried about money – then I’m going to start to look for opportunities with a mentality that’s all about finances and not necessarily about what’s right for our relationship with Jesus. And it’s not just about money – if I’m constantly worried about Mikes health, then I’m not focused on God and His promises. Even if I’m worried about things that are totally normal like careers and our home and our future, it becomes a distraction from God. And satan can grab hold of that. Now that I type it all out – isn’t worrying the same as doubting Gods goodness? Maybe not completely, but they are definitely up the same alley. If I have a constant worry about our future, there has to be some seed of doubt in there about Gods goodness and His promises to me. And satan wants to water that seed.

This might seem like a drag of a blog post, but I’m fired up about it. In a good way. I feel empowered in this awareness and this epiphany that, hello, I’ve always known the enemy is against us but this is the first time in my life that I am really feeling it. I feel empowered because there are so many things we can do to fight it. We can pray. We can talk about God and cling to His truth. We can read the Bible. We can comfort and encourage one another. We can help each other back up. We can give satan a grammatical middle finger. We can stay up until 2:00 AM writing a blog post from a hospital room as our own way of publically saying, “Get behind me, satan.”

It feels good. Because God wins.

My last thought, and I just might lose you here (if you’ve stuck with me this long) is that there has to be a reason that we are being attacked. And that excites me. What are we going to be a part of down here that satan wants to stop? How is God going to use us that seems so threatening to the enemy? Does that sound conceited? Maybe it does, but it’s my thought. And again, it excites me. Clearly, something big is happening down here and I’m eager to be a part of it. I’ll even go as far to say that I think it’s more about Mike than it is about me (it was his car, his health.. but then, we ARE one, so who knows) and I can’t wait to see how God uses my sweet husband. We did move here with the promise to be more intentional for Jesus. In our careers, our marriage, our friendships. We are committed to finding a church and getting involved. We are committed to foster care and loving the least of these. We are living with our mentors – the very people that taught us who Jesus was and showed us what it looked like to follow Him. We are talking about God more here than ever before. It makes sense that satan would want to shut that down.

Too bad he won’t. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

So we missed out on the beach and we are stuck in a hospital room. God loves us and sent His Son to die for us. We are here with a purpose and will be used to bring people closer to Him. Tonight doesn’t change that.

life in NC.

It’s been one week. One week in North Carolina and it’s been extremely exciting and extremely hard all at the same time. Everyone keeps asking, “Is it all that you expected it to be?” And the answer is YES! And no. I have struggled this week. There have been tears and doubts and arguments and moments of loneliness (even when surrounded by people I love), but that was to be expected. I have great expectations for what North Carolina will become, but I knew that it would be hard at first. It is very different actually being in it rather than just thinking about it and mentally preparing for it, but I’ll explain more later.

We officially moved last Sunday. It was sometime earlier that week that we found out the sale of our house didn’t go through, after over 45 days of being under contract. It was a huge disappointment and a cause of some stress because I did not have a job set up down here thinking we wouldn’t have a mortgage to pay over the summer thanks to our very generous and amazing friends that are letting us crash with them until we figure out where we want to settle. We also had to figure out taking care of the house while we weren’t living here..keeping up with the lawn for showings, etc. But again, we have incredible friends and family that are stepping up for us in a big way and we couldn’t be more grateful. Anyway, we got over the disappointment (sort of) and just knew that I would need to find a random summer job when we got down here. On the way down, about two hours into our trip, Mike’s car broke down! It was quite the shock and in the moment I definitely did not handle it well. You don’t want to be with me in a crisis. We ended up getting his car towed to a repair shop, shoved as much as we could from his car into my car, and kept trucking on toward NC. We refused to go back to MD even though it was closer. It was MOVING day, and dang it, we were going to MOVE. Even if it meant having 40 pound Daisy on my lap for four hours.

We finally made it and were thrilled to be here. Wake County is beautiful! There is so much to see and do and we are super pumped about getting to know and exploring the area. Mike started working Tuesday and LOVES his job. He has great hours..we get to see each other in the evenings AND he has off on Sundays. It’s perfect. I spent the week applying to well over 100 jobs (nannying, chic-fil-a, catering, working at a kennel, EVERYTHING) and starting on some of my summer homework I was given for my teaching job in the fall. We saw some old friends, helped out in a brewery that’s opening soon, and I joined the Y. Those are the highlights. OH and I went to a staff event at a brewery and got to meet a bunch of the teachers I will be working with. Don’t worry,  my blog is NOT becoming a place where I just tell you what I do all week. I have a point (kind of).. and the point is, it sounds like a normal week in the summer. Regardless of being in NC or being in MD. It was good and it was fun and I was pretty productive. But it was also challenging and a little disappointing. My anxiety came back in a big way. Just like we knew it would. Just like I talked about it my last post.. I am putting myself into a situation where it is natural to feel anxiety. So I’ve been feeling it. Every thing I did here this week brought out insecurities: meeting people at the gym, going to classes alone, meeting my coworkers for the first time, etc. The nights of little sleep have been full of thoughts like this:

What are we going to do about Mikes car? When are we going to go get it?
What if I don’t hear back from any of those jobs?
Why aren’t my coworkers asking to get coffee, what if I don’t form great friendships with them?
What if Daisy starts acting up again? What’s going to happen when we have to start leaving her alone?
What if our house doesn’t sell?
Do my friends at home miss me? Will our friendships be strained with distance?
How long until we need to find our own place?
What if I need my mom?
And yes.. I’ll admit it.. what if we weren’t supposed to move?

With the house, the car, the substituting job (I didn’t even mention) falling through.. I definitely had moments of doubt. We had been looking forward to Sunday all week. Sunday.. church, relaxing, a day off work for Mike. Finding our church home is a priority for us, as I know it’ll lead to our community and our ministry and the feeling that we actually have a place and a purpose here. I’ll spare you the long (and pretty dumb) story – but basically, we weren’t able to go to church this morning. And I finally had my breakdown that was coming all week. I cried because I missed my friends. I missed my family. I missed the familiarity of home. I missed feeling like I had a purpose and a schedule. And I missed going to church knowing that I would see people I loved. I was comparing a life I JUST started in North Carolina to a life I had taken YEARS to establish in Maryland.

It wasn’t until I let myself break down that I was really able to get some clarity. To stop thinking about everything that could go wrong or things that had already gone wrong, and just focus on Jesus and pray. It was like I was bottling up my feelings this week, afraid to say I was struggling, and once I let it out I gained some perspective. All week long my prayers had been selfish – about jobs, money, friendships. Basically my comfort. I was praying for all the things that would make me feel comfortable here. I finally was able to shift my prayer today to a simple: Lord, bring me closer to you. Whatever it takes, I want to be closer to you. 

I’m still going to struggle. We are transitioning, and it is natural to struggle. But I was able to take on the rest of the day with an overwhelming sense of peace about being here. I went on an interview and got a summer job – one that starts now and ends August 1st and gives me some time to prepare for school before I go back on the 16th. Exactly what I was looking for. I was able to go by and see my school and pray over where I’ll be teaching.  Mike and I went to a 5:00 church service where the worship was real and beautiful and brought me closer to God. The car situation is figured out and we are going to pick it up tomorrow. Gods goodness is overwhelming.

My point is not that you can have a breakdown and refocus and God will answer all of your prayers. Our story today sounds that way, but it’s not always that way. It’s just ANOTHER story of God’s faithfulness. We can struggle and we can doubt.. but God is faithful. I tried to maintain control all week and figure everything out on my own. I had no interest in losing that control. It took completely letting go for me to start to feel any peace and for me to realize that God IS there and He IS good. It always brings me back to this..

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10

I am thankful for my challenging week that brought me closer to God. I am thankful that things aren’t always easy. I am thankful for the constant reminder that I cannot do this on my own – and I’m not meant to. God is good, you guys. And North Carolina WILL start to feel like home.




courage over comfort.

I haven’t been sleeping well lately. In fact, I haven’t slept through the night in a few weeks. And I wasn’t thinking much of it, because we have a lot going on…

We’re moving out of state. Both of us are starting new jobs. We have to make new friends. We have to transition. We’ve moved in with my in-laws while our house is under a very stressful contact that I swear is about to fall through every day. Our dog has decided to be a puppy again, but not in the cute way. We’re trying to spend time with the people that we will no longer see every day. We’re trying to pack. We’re virtually searching for an apartment.. something we’ve never had to do before. Needless to say, its a lot. 

According to google, anxiety is defined as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” I think lots of people feel anxiety at some point in their lives. I think anyone preparing for what Mike and I are preparing for would be anxious.

Webmd tells me that “Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can’t stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school.” Ouch. Excessive, exaggerated worry? Check. 

I realize it says “about everyday life events,” and some of the things we have going on are not considered everyday life events. But without going into excruciating detail of my thoughts and emotions, you can take my word that a lot of what’s keeping me up at night are small things. Small things stemmed by huge things that are happening, yes. But not the things I need to be losing sleep over.

I was getting discouraged because my anxiety has been so much better lately. I feel like I’ve shouted how far I’ve come off of rooftops. My prayer life, my exercise, and my new love for yoga (another story for another day) have helped give me perspective and taught me ways to rid myself of the constant anxious state I had become accustomed to. 

Over the past few weeks I’ve been questioning why I’m suddenly that girl again. That girl that loses sleep over little things, that feels physically ill with worry.. the one who snaps at the ones I love and puts strain on relationships that she needs the most. What I realized is that I will always be that girl. GAD is a part of who I am and that may look different in different seasons but these low points will keep happening because I am living my life for a God that continually pushes me outside of my comfort zone. 

A lot of my anxiety gets put to rest when I’m comfortable. When I’m doing the same things over and over again each and every day. When I’m not taking risks. When I’m not following through with things I want to do. When I let fear take the wheel and my heart take the back seat.  

I’ve said no to a lot of things because of fear and anxiety. Because too many risks were involved. When I was in NC for my interview, one of my friends made a joke about how he doesn’t believe we are moving yet. I said “I took off two days of work and drove six hours for one interview! We’re moving.” And he said something along the lines of it being an elaborate prank. He was just messing with me.. but it’s because I had talked about moving at so many different points in my life. I had talked about doing SO many different things, some of which I still haven’t. Fear still drives certain aspects of my life. 

I’m going to be okay with struggling a little more than usual if it means I’m choosing to do something outside of my comfort zone. I had the same thoughts when we started foster care. The same thoughts when I went to Africa for the first time. The same thoughts when we decided to get married when we were 21 and 22 years old. 

I am not choosing to accept my anxiety. I am choosing courage overtop of it. I am choosing to live a life of courage instead of a life of comfort, even if that brings out my insecurities and worries more often. And I’m choosing to no longer be afraid to talk about it. I used to think that talking about anxiety kind of gave it ownership over you, but the opposite is happening. It’s incredibly freeing to be honest about where you are and what you’re struggling with. 

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10