I love taking afternoon stroller walks. When we lived in Utah, there was a nice sidewalk around our block that I walked on. I thought that would be one of the things I missed the most about Utah because Tennessee is full of hills, and there aren’t very many neighborhood sidewalks. God knew how much I loved those walks, so He has allowed us to live in a home that’s within walking distance from a lovely paved walking track. There are still some hills involved, but I am so thankful to have a place to enjoy some fresh air and movement.

The track where I take my walks is right next to a tennis court. Aside from the fact that it’s absolutely incredible that we live within walking distance of a tennis court, there’s something quite interesting about this particular tennis court. This tennis court is the one where I use to play tennis every afternoon in the springtime. It seems like that must have been just last week, but the reality is that it was a decade ago. So much has changed since then, and not in the ways that I imagined it would. I assumed I would be living somewhere on the other side of the world by now, not within walking distance from that tennis court. I certainly never would have imagined myself walking laps around that track with a toddler in a stroller. Life certainly has come full circle in a way that I never envisioned.

My teenage self never would have believed this was the future God had in store for her. But God has a way of changing our plans. As a teenager, I wanted an adventure. I never would have imagined that I could be content living less than two miles from the house I grew up in. Even when God changes our plans, we can trust that His plans are far better than ours. He knows our hearts, and He wants us to have absolutely full and abundant lives.

If I could reach back in time and talk to my teenage self on one of those spring afternoons on the tennis courts, these are the things I would want to tell her:

  1. Your salvation does not depend on anything you do; God has already done it all.

No prayer that you pray and no good thing that you do can save you. Only Jesus can save you. Just trust Him.

  1. You can’t change the world.

Only God can change the world, but if you allow Him, He can still use you. It might not be in the way you imagined, but He knows what He’s doing.

  1. Change isn’t a bad thing. 

You’ll never grow until you leave your comfort zone. I know leaving your comfort zone isn’t comfortable (it’s called a comfort zone for a reason), but that’s where you’ll become the person God made you to be.

  1. God has a good plan for your life.

God has some amazing things in store for your life. And no matter how that plan may differ from your own plans, you can trust that His plan is better.

  1. God will always be there for you.

Through all the changes, God will be the same. You can go to Him any moment of any day, and He will be there to give you a sense of stability no matter what you’re facing.

The truth is, I can’t tell my younger self these things. But maybe you needed to hear them. And maybe my adult self needed to hear them too.

When I walk outside, I can feel the beginning of the crisp fall air. I hear the crunch of leaves beneath my shoes. But most afternoons, it’s still warm in sunny Tennessee. The leaves on the tree outside my window are still summer green. My house plant is still happily enjoying the last rays of summer sunshine on my front porch, even though I’m begging fall to come with the little pumpkin perched on the other side of the door mat.

We’re in that transitional time between summer and fall; do I need to bring a sweater, or will it be too warm? Can I still wear sandals? Can I drink my hot coffee outside? (This is the most important question for me!) It’s a little bit of an awkward time. The slow changing of the seasons puts me to mind of the changes we face in life as well.

There are various seasons in our lives, and sometimes we find ourselves in a transitional time. We find that there are bits and pieces left to remind us of our previous season, but the new season is quickly marching in. It may be a bit of an awkward time. Maybe we’re not ready for the changing of life seasons, and it’s a difficult time. Maybe we’re clinging to the familiarity of the previous season, like my little house plant desperately drinking in the last rays of the summer sun. A new season is coming, but before that happens, we must face the death of the season we are in. There may be a time of mourning for a season that’s over, and that’s okay.

But maybe we’re ready for the change. Maybe we just want to feel fully settled into the next season of our lives, but for whatever reason we’re just not quite settled yet. Just like it’s not quite fall in Tennessee yet. We’re putting the pumpkin out inviting fall to fully be here, but life feels far from settled. These transitional times are uncomfortable. Change is uncomfortable, even if it’s a good change.

The first couple of months following our move from Utah to Tennessee were certainly an awkward transition time as we learned the new rhythms of our life, and even as we searched for a place to call our own. We’re finally feeling settled into our new home, and we’re creating new routines that work well for our life here. This new season of our life is here in full force, and even though the transition was awkward, the beauty of the change God has made in our lives is undeniable.

In those transitional times in life, it is vital to cling to unchanging constants. The only true constant in life is God.

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

It is in my time spent with the Lord that I find hope, peace, and stability for each day, even in the most unstable times of life. If you’re going through a transition in life, cling to Him. He will never leave you or forsake you. And He will see you through the changes you’re facing. It’s not quite fall yet, but fall will come. And it will be filled with the undeniable beauty of a Creator who is orchestrating the changes of the seasons, not only in the weather, but also in our lives.

“I can’t wait for 2020 to be over.”

“2021 is going to be the ultimate fresh start!”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard these expressions, or expressions like them. 2020 has been quite the year for all of us. The world seems like it’s falling apart. As I’ve thought a lot about the hope that many people have for 2021, I’ve realized there’s some good news, and there’s some bad news. As most people seem to prefer this option, I’m going to share the bad news first.

The bad news is, things are not going to get better in 2021. In fact, things on this earth are not ever going to get better. We’re getting closer and closer to the last days, and things are just going to get progressively worse.

2 Timothy 3:1

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2 Timothy 3:13

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

There is no hope for the future of this earth. Perilous times have come, and they aren’t going to go away. But there really is good news.

The good news is, our hope is not in this world. Our hope is in the Lord and our future in heaven with Him.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Romans 8:18

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Revelation 21:4

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Revelation 22:20

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

If you’re overwhelmed by the ways our world has changed for the worse, take heart that this world is not your home if you have accepted Christ as your Savior. No matter how this world continues to decline, He is always the same, and He is always good. And He will keep His promise to come back for us. My heart is echoing the words of the Apostle John: Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Two years ago today, I woke up early. I had had a sneaking suspicion for a couple of days that I might be pregnant, and this was the day I was going to take the test, just to make sure that I wasn’t before we left for vacation two days later. I didn’t tell my husband, of course. My husband loves surprises, and if it was positive, I would get to give him the ultimate surprise!

I placed the test face down on the bathroom counter and waited the prescribed amount of time before looking at the result. The minutes felt like hours, but when I finally looked at the result, I was elated to see an unmistakable blue plus sign! In anticipation of that day, I had purchased a mug that said “dad” and a pair of baby shoes. I quietly sneaked around the house gathering my surprises and placed them on the kitchen table at my husband’s place, along with the positive pregnancy test.

When my husband woke up, we went to the kitchen together, and he immediately saw his surprise. He was just as elated as I had been! We sat down on the couch together and prayed for this little baby God had given us that He would use their life for His glory.

That was the day I became a mother. I was a typically cautious mother, watching what I ate and taking my prenatal vitamins religiously. My husband and I carried around our happy little secret for a few weeks, sharing our good news with our family and close friends. We took a cute little pregnancy announcement photo with the same pair of baby shoes I had used to tell my husband about our expected baby.

Twenty-seven long days later, we went to the doctor for the first time and got to hear our precious baby’s heartbeat. Five days after that, we posted our happy announcement on social media. We had passed the much anticipated eight week mark, believing nothing bad could happen now. I got to enjoy being pregnant for twelve more days, and then I started having complications. We went back to the doctor, and our little baby no longer had a heartbeat.

We named our first baby Gwenivere Faith. And even though I only knew of her existence for forty-four days, even though I never got to hold her in my arms, even though her little feet never filled the shoes I had bought for her, she made me a mother. And she changed everything about the way I do motherhood. She changed me from a typically cautious mother to an overly cautious mother. She taught me to not take anything for granted. And she left a little hole in my heart that nothing can fill.

God gave us another baby after Gwenivere, and that little girl will turn one on Sunday. I love her with all my heart, and I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world. Some may think she made me a mother, but I’ll always know the truth. Gwenivere was the one who made me a mother, two years ago today.

I’m writing this because I know miscarriage is more common than anyone would like to believe. After hearing so many stories from my friends, I feel like it has to be more than “one in four.” But I also know that when you’re the one going through it, it feels like you’re the only one. I don’t know who you are, but as I’ve thought about Gwenivere throughout this day, I’ve had you on my mind today too. And I want you to know that you are not alone. And I want you to know that you are a mother, whether or not God ever gives you a baby to hold in your arms. The moment you saw that positive pregnancy test, you became a mother, for better or for worse. And that’s a gift. Sometimes it’s a painful gift. But it’s still a gift.

More than anything, I want you to know there is hope. My Gwenivere is in heaven. I have hope I’ll see her again someday. If you’ve trusted Jesus, you can have that hope too. That doesn’t mean you won’t grieve or imagine all the “what ifs.” But you can have confidence that there’s a beautiful reunion coming one day. What a day that will be!

It’s been a busy week settling into our new home; there hasn’t been much time to just sit down and let my mind rest. I love writing, but the thought of sitting down this afternoon to write a blog post for the world to read was actually nauseating. My current thoughts are probably best left to journals. You almost got a blog post entitled “The Piddly Stuff,” dear reader. I realized that if I was going to be able to create something meaningful, I needed to be kind to myself and let my mind rest for a few minutes. I voiced my need to my husband who took the baby to her room for a few minutes so I could refresh myself.

I put water in the kettle and pumpkin pie Pop-Tarts in the toaster oven while I scooped out some loose leaf green tea. When my tea was brewed and my Pop-Tarts were toasty, I went to my bedroom, closed the door, and opened a book. While I allowed myself to get lost in the story, I enjoyed my Pop-Tarts and green tea. And that’s exactly what my mind needed. It only took a few minutes, but it made a huge difference in my ability to think and function in the tasks that God has called me to do.

I am a firm believer in taking time to rest. Our society values a busy lifestyle, and it’s definitely good to be diligent to do the work God has called us to do! However, rest is something God instituted from the very beginning of time. He rested on the seventh day after finishing creation, not because He needed to, but because He wanted to set an example for us. He created sabbath rest so that we could be refreshed.

Exodus 23:12

Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.

Although keeping the sabbath was Old Testament law, Jesus did not abolish the sabbath; He redefined it. When the Pharisees criticized His disciples for picking corn to eat on the Sabbath, He responded with this:

Mark 2:27

And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:

The sabbath was made for man. Rest was made for our good. The sabbath is not meant to be a day of rigidly observing the law by doing nothing; it’s a principle meant to be followed to refresh ourselves.

What can you do to refresh yourself today? I know it’s hard to find that time with little ones at home, and you may not have the opportunity for someone to watch them, even for a few minutes. But could you take some time after they go to bed to do something to refresh yourself? For so long I felt like I had to immediately try to fall asleep after the baby went to bed so I could get as many minutes of sleep as possible before she woke up. But I’m learning that it’s much more profitable to take a few minutes to refresh myself. After my baby goes to bed, I write in my journal and put on my favorite lip balm and lotion. When I do this, I actually sleep better. Whatever it is for you, I challenge you to do something to refresh yourself today and remember that rest is a gift from God.

I hate moving. I hate uprooting from everything that feels familiar and comfortable to seemingly start all over again. When we made the decision to move from Utah to Tennessee, I dreaded almost every aspect of it. I dreaded the packing, I dreaded the cross country road trip with a baby and two hamsters, and I dreaded unpacking. But the thing that filled me with the most dread was the fact that we were leaving our home, and we didn’t have another home to go to.

It is such a privilege to live in the same city as my parents. They have been so kind to let us stay in their home for the last several weeks while we looked for a home of our own. But their home could never be our home, and the time between arriving here and finding the home God had prepared for us has been difficult. Although God has provided for all of our material needs, and we haven’t been “houseless” I’ve definitely felt “homeless” at times. I’ve felt like there wasn’t a place that was a safe haven just for my family. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had my life verse on my mind quite a bit.

Psalm 71:3

Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.

My greatest comfort in this time of transition has been the fact that my habitation, my dwelling place, isn’t necessarily a place. No matter how “homeless” I may feel, I can be confident that I have a home in the person of God. I can go to Him anywhere and at any time. He saved my soul, and I can trust Him to take care of my deepest soul needs every day, no matter where I am.

Today is the day we officially move into our home. I had been praying for several weeks before leaving Utah that God would prepare the home that He had for us, and, as always, He answered in an amazing way. We heard about a duplex for rent from a friend of a friend, and it is absolutely perfect for our current needs as a family (one of those needs includes being hamster friendly!)

There’s still a little bit of transition time yet to come. There are lots of boxes that need to be unpacked, and the sight of all the clutter currently in our home is a little unnerving to me. But I’m a firm believer in the art of homemaking, and I’m incredibly excited to be able to begin the work of making this place a safe haven for our family.

When we lived in Utah, we had a wooden sign that said “HOME” with the “O” shaped like the state of Utah. As we prepared to move into our new home, it was a top priority of mine to find a sign that featured the state of Tennessee as our new home. Wherever God has me on this earth, I want to be all there, fully engaged and ready to serve Him. But even though God has provided a dwelling place for my family on this earth for this season of our lives, I never want to forget that He is my true dwelling place. When I go to Him in prayer and rest my soul in the truths of His Word, that’s when I’m truly at home.

Once upon a time on a random Tuesday, my husband had a day off work. We spent the whole day out together, and had made plans to have sushi for dinner that night. While we were out and about, we stopped by the pet store to pick up some food for our hamster. I don’t think I’ve ever set foot in a pet store without looking at the hamsters, so before leaving, we took a little look.

A little look turned into a long look, and my husband fell in love with a tiny white dwarf hamster. He said, “Let’s get her!” Being the responsible adult in this situation, I said, “No.” I had a million reasons why we shouldn’t get another hamster. So we left the store without her.

Throughout our day, we couldn’t quite get that little white hamster off our minds. My “reasons” seemed more and more like excuses.

“I don’t need another cage to clean.”

“One hamster is enough.”

“She’ll probably still be alive when we have our first baby. How will we have time for her then?”

It slowly became apparent that we would have to go back to get the little white hamster. But I continued to worry all day that I would regret our impulsive decision to add another pet to our family.

When we had our sushi for dinner that night, we realized we had a perfect name for that little white hamster: Sushi. As you know, once you give an animal a name, you have to keep it. (This was the case with my brother’s fifteen-year-old gecko named Steve.) After dinner, we went back to the pet store and brought Sushi home. The picture at the top of this post is from the night she came to live with us.

Over two years have passed since that random Tuesday. Last Saturday, Sushi unexpectedly passed away. I never would have imagined that I would write a blog post about her, but this is the thing that I can’t get off my mind that I have to share with you: as much as I worried that I would regret impulsively buying a hamster, I have never regretted bringing Sushi home to live with us. Not one single moment.

One hamster is never enough. Cage cleaning isn’t that huge of a commitment. And it turned out that our baby loved watching that little white hamster run around in her cage. When we adopted Sushi, I had no idea that God would lead us to move from Utah to Tennessee. But I didn’t regret making her a part of our family even when we were carting her in and out of hotels and running the air conditioning in the car for her while we ate meals outside. And now we always eat sushi on the anniversary of the day we adopted our little white hamster. Those traditions are the little, seemingly insignificant things that can make a marriage stronger. All because of a little white hamster.

There are some things you should pray about and take time to make a decision; we prayed about our move for five months before making the decision. But some things in life aren’t that big of a commitment. Sometimes it’s okay to be a little impulsive and enjoy this amazing life God has given us. I’m learning to celebrate life every day and not wait for “one day.”

I have a bottle of perfume that I used on our wedding day that I like to wear on special occasions to bring back the memory of our wedding. A couple months ago, my husband asked me to wear it to church on a random Sunday. So I did.

I’ve been wanting a journaling Bible for months. I thought my husband might get me one for Christmas. Instead he gave me one on a random Saturday a couple weeks ago just because.

Wear the perfume. Give the gift. Buy the hamster on a random Tuesday. God has given us so much beauty in this world to enjoy. So why are we so hesitant to enjoy it? When I get to the end of my life, I won’t remember how responsible I was saying “no” to everything. I’ll remember the times I said “yes.” I’ll remember a little white hamster named Sushi. And I won’t have any regrets.

Today is a writing day, but when I sat down to eat breakfast this morning, I had no idea what God wanted me to write about. I assumed He would give me something profound in my Bible reading time that He would lead me to share, so I wasn’t too worried. Before I even got to my Bible reading time, my tired mommy brain got a little overly emotional when I saw the words on the Moe’s napkin next to my plate of eggs and toast:

“You can make art out of anything.”

Yes! Amen, Moe’s napkin! I can make art out of anything! I am an artist, and today I will make art with my words! And then the Holy Spirit whispered another thought into my tired mommy brain:

“You can make art out of anything, but only I have made art out of nothing.”

At the beginning of time, God brought this entire earth into existence simply by speaking the words. He made art out of nothing, and every time we make art out of something, whether it be our words, music, a canvas and paint, or even a Moe’s napkin, we are reflecting the splendor of His handiwork. Because He is the Creator, and we are made in His image, He has made us to create beauty on this earth using the resources He has given us. When we use the gift of creativity He has given us, it brings glory to Him.

What is your form of art? What can you do today that will be a reflection of the Great Artist and bring glory to Him? I would love to hear from you! Connect with me on Facebook and Instagram by following the links below!

Moving back to Tennessee has come with some unexpected reverse culture shock. After living in the West for the better part of eight years, I had forgotten some of the nuances of life in the South. One of those nuances is the layout of the roads.

When the roads in the West were planned, someone sat down with a ruler and a pencil and drew a neat little grid on the map of the city and then built the roads based on that grid. When the roads in the South were planned, someone dumped a plate of spaghetti onto a map of the city and then built the roads wherever the spaghetti noodles had fallen. Of course, that’s not how the roads were actually planned, but it certainly feels like that at times.

Last night I was driving by myself to pick up dinner at my favorite restaurant. My family frequently visited this restaurant when I was a teenager, so you might imagine that I could practically drive there with my eyes closed. On the contrary, I found myself driving quite a bit under the already low speed limit down curvy roads still wet with the afternoon rain. Hopefully the drivers around me cut me some slack when they saw my Utah license plate! Halfway to the restaurant, I found myself wondering if I was taking the fastest route; I could think of at least two ways to get there, and I vaguely remembered a third route that my mom would take on occasion. I found myself missing the simple, straight roads of the West that I had grown familiar with, but the Mexican food that awaited me at the end of the journey made it all worth it.

I long for following God to be like driving in Utah or California: straight and predictable with a fast speed limit to get me to my destination in a timely fashion. However, following God is more like driving in Tennessee: the roads are curvy and unfamiliar, everything moves much slower than I would like for it to, and often there are storms that blur the path.

Here’s the good news: I don’t have to be the one driving the car. If I let Him, God will be the driver. He knows the path, and He will lead me down the right roads, even when I don’t know the way. Even in the midst of the darkest, most winding part of the journey, I can trust that the destination is good because I know God has good things planned for my life.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.