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.

I admit, I’m a dreamer. Not the kind of dreamer that dreams in her sleep; no, that would be too convenient to get some rest while I dream. I’m the kind of dreamer that lies awake at night thinking of all of my hopes and dreams for the future. Even if I’m absolutely exhausted and want to fall asleep, some nights I just can’t seem to turn off my brain because there are too many good things spinning around in it.

I read about another dreamer in my Bible study time this morning. You might have heard of him before; his name was Joseph. In Joseph’s time, God often spoke to people in literal dreams while they were sleeping. Lucky them! He did this because they didn’t have the complete revelation of His Word like we have now. Joseph’s family knew him as a dreamer, but they weren’t all as excited about his dreams as he was.

Genesis 37:5-11

And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.

Joseph’s dream was that his family would one day bow before him. When I get excited about a dream God has put in my heart, I want to share it with others, so I understand why Joseph wanted to share his dream with his family. But this did not do much to win the hearts of his brothers who were already jealous of him because he was their father’s favorite. As I was reading this passage, God brought three truths to my mind about when and how to share our dreams with others.

  1. Be intentional about who you share your dreams with.

Joseph was excited to share his dream with his entire family, but maybe it would have been best to not share that dream with his brothers. Are there people in your life that might not really understand the intentions behind your dream? Those are not the people you want to share your dream with. Even though Joseph’s father initially rebuked him for sharing his dream, he took what Joseph said to heart because he knew God was speaking to his heart. Think of the people in your life who understand God’s working and confide in them.

  1. Be careful about the timing of sharing your dreams.

Maybe Joseph would have been able to share his dream with his brothers later on at a time when they may have received it better. After all, his dream did come true, and after that his relationship with his brothers was restored. Would it be wise to give God more time to develop your dream before openly sharing it with others? Sharing at the right timing could make all the difference. Even when Mary was given a glimpse of the deity of the baby she had given birth to she kept the truth about Him in her heart for some time.

Luke 2:19

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

  1. Don’t stop dreaming, even when others don’t “get it.”

It may not be the right time to share your dreams, but it’s always the right time to dream. I believe that God has an amazing plan for each of our lives, and as He reveals pieces of that plan, it’s exciting to dream about the things that may be yet to come.

1 Corinthians 2:9

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

As you follow the Lord, He will make it more and more clear what amazing things He has in store for your life. Is it time to share your dream with others? If it’s not, it’s okay to keep it in your heart for a little while. Maybe it is time to share your dream with others; I would love to hear from you! What dreams has God put on your heart? Let me know in the comments of this post on Facebook and Instagram by following the links below.

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.

My senior year of high school, I was very restless. Life was changing around me more quickly than I could grasp it, and even though my home, my church, and my school were all I had ever known, I was losing my attachment to those things. I was losing my desire to stay there. I was ready to move on.

My mom would tell me that God was like an eagle “stirring the nest.” This comparison actually comes from the Bible.

Deuteronomy 32:11

As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:

In this passage, Moses is talking about how God treated the children of Israel. But what does it mean for a mother eagle to stir up her nest?

When the time comes for an eaglet to leave the nest, the parents begin to make the nest less comfortable. They stop bringing food to the nest so frequently. The eagles are not neglecting their baby; they are doing what is necessary to motivate the eaglet to move on to greater things, like flying.

I’ve found that God does this for me whenever it’s His time for me to move on to the next thing He has for me. However, recently I’ve been uncomfortable, not with my situation in life, but just with this world in general. A worldwide pandemic has a way of changing the things in life that make us comfortable. It’s left me hungry for something more.

I believe with my whole heart that God has been stirring my nest to create a greater longing in my heart for heaven. I believe He could come any day. I don’t have this belief just because of my current circumstances; I believe this because the Bible says we should always be ready because we don’t know when Jesus is coming.

Matthew 24:44

Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

The Bible also says that we should be watching for Jesus to return.

Mark 13:35

Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

Have you been watching? I know I haven’t the way I should. But God has used my current circumstances to stir the nest a little and make me just uncomfortable enough that I have His coming on my mind. I’m not making a prediction that Jesus will come back in a specific time frame; no one knows when He will come back.

Matthew 24:36

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

However, I do know that He is coming “soon.” I don’t know what that means exactly, but I do know that I want to be watching. I’m glad He’s stirring the nest a bit; I’m ready to take flight to the incredible future He has for me in heaven!

Revelation 22:20

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

I’m convinced our Echo Show fancies herself to be a chef; she’s always suggesting that we ask her about recipes. So when “Alexa” suggested that I ask her about the “quarantine coffee trend,” this coffee-loving momma couldn’t resist.

You may have heard about dalgona coffee by now. It started as a trend on Tik Tok, but it quickly made its way to internet fame. My husband is home this week, so we decided to give this “quarantine coffee trend” a try for ourselves. This creamy whipped coffee drink has quickly turned into our morning coffee habit. Here’s how we did it.

Dalgona Coffee

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. granulated sugar

1 tbsp. instant coffee

1 tbsp. warm water

1 cup milk – I used vanilla unsweetened almond milk, but any kind of milk will work.

Instructions:

  1. Add sugar, instant coffee, and water to a clean bowl.
  2. Whisk ingredients together until the mixture is a thick, foamy consistency. This is much easier if you use an electric hand mixer, but with some patience, an old-fashioned whisk will do.
  3. Pour milk into a glass, and dollop the whipped coffee mixture on top.
  4. (Optional) You can stir the mixture into the milk for a more consistent sweet coffee flavor throughout.

This is such a fun, easy treat! If you would like a larger serving, you can easily double the recipe (this is what I did for my husband). Let me know what you think! Connect with me on Instagram at @michelleelaineburton. I would love to see your photos of your own experience making dalgona coffee!