Year 26.

Year twenty-six has been the hardest of all my years so far.

I know that I’m still young, and I know that I have so much more life ahead of me, Lord willing. But, it’s still been the hardest. Halfway through my twenty-sixth year, and I’m ready for the next one.

I started year 26 fresh off of a break-up and in the middle of a hard (but SO VERY GOOD) year of teaching. I came home after an emotional Christmas break and ending up celebrating my birthday with people whom I hadn’t planned on spending the evening with but am so glad I did. January was full of snow and cold temperatures, February flew by quickly, March started off with the flu and ended with England, April was all about England and rushing to finish things at work before the school year ended, and May has been…well, May (and all the mamas and teachers said AMEN).

I’ve hit that point in the school year where I’m exhausted and so ready for summer, but I’m also still in the midst of a year of life (personally) that’s been hard. It’s been nothing like what I thought year 26 would be. It’s been full of weddings and baby showers and trips and books and friends and church. But, it’s also been full of reminding myself that God is good, that He has a plan for me, that the fight for joy is worth it, and that this life is not eternal but I will spend eternity with Him. In the middle of all that, I’m still an adult who is trying to pay her mortgage, go to the gym three times a week, work well, and somehow maintain a social life.

Year 26 is hard.

Tonight, I went to the Pregnancy Resource Center of Charlotte for a church partnership event. Led by the efforts of a dear friend, our church is partnering with the PRC, and we were able to learn more about their ministry tonight. Numbers and statistics were given to us, stories were shared, and lives were touched tonight. We walked through the center, saw rooms where women are counseled, and wrote cards for those who choose life to be able to open up once their baby is born.

I sobbed the whole night.

At first it was a tear or two, but then the reality hit me. Twenty-six years ago a twenty-six year-old woman was making the same decision we were abstractly talking about tonight. She was deciding whether or not to choose life. I’m not sure how hard the decision was or was not for my birth mom about actually choosing life (not the giving me up part because I know that was incredibly difficult). Based on what I know about her life and convictions, I’m assuming the “choosing life” part was easier for her than some of the women we heard about tonight.

But, still. I know how hard my life is right now (please don’t hear that as a complaint; the Christian life is just not easy at times). I know the battles I fight and the sins I struggle with. I know how hard it can be to find contentment in Christ and to find joy in Him on days when life isn’t going my way. I cannot begin to imagine adding an unplanned pregnancy to that mix.

Oh, how thankful I am that she chose life. That in year 26 for her, which I’m sure was one of her hardest as well, she chose life for me. She did one of the most selfless things and chose life for a baby girl who would one day grow up to be a woman who loves to eat lemons and cries her eyes out when abortion is brought up.

Because, by the grace of God, a woman whose twenty-sixth year was far harder than hers, life was given to her. And she is able to live out that really hard twenty-sixth year. Praise the Lord.




An Open Letter to My Birth Mom on My Birthday

To my birth mom–

Today’s my birthday.

But, you probably already knew that, didn’t you?

While today’s the day that my friends and family celebrate me, you’re probably reliving–or maybe forcing yourself not to relive–one of the hardest days of your life.

I won’t speak for you, because I don’t know you. I know some of your people, some of the ones who’ve had the privilege of loving both you and me. They’ve told me that giving me up was incredibly hard for you. I can only begin to imagine.

Over the past few years, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to think of you on this day that’s supposed to be all about me. I think about how hard labor must’ve been–I know I was two weeks late. Sorry about that. And that I wasn’t exactly the smallest of babies. You’re a champ.

Really. Instead of doing what some may call easy when you found out you were pregnant, unwed, and well, frankly, alone, you chose the hard path. You chose to carry me to term and to hand me over to someone else to raise because you knew that’s what would be best for me. You chose to eat healthy, take care of yourself, go to the doctor, and protect me while I grew because you wanted me to have a life that was better than what you could’ve offered me at the time. That’s pretty awesome.

And pretty selfless. I really can’t even begin to imagine watching your body change, telling your friends and family, and experiencing this crazy miracle of a thing called birth yet not getting to reap the benefits. Every mama I know who talks about labor being hard says that it was so worth it when they got to look into their baby’s face, got to hold their child, got to become a mom.

But you did something radical. You gave me up.

I’m writing this to you, on my birthday, to tell you thank you. You may never read this. I may never know. But, if you do read it or if you somehow come across this, I want you to know how thankful I am for what you did. You chose life for me–an incredible life, by the way–even though it wasn’t the easiest decision.

You gave me the opportunity to have birthdays. To be celebrated and loved and cherished by the people I do call Mom and Dad and by the people around me. You gave me this day. I can’t go by another year, another birthday, and not publicly thank you for the selfless act you made twenty-four years ago.

So, dear birth mom, thank you. For every single birthday I ever have. For the life you gave me when you chose to continue an unwanted and unplanned pregnancy.

I’ll always be thankful, today and everyday.

It’s March?

I have written on this blog exactly two times this year. Two times. At the record I’m going, I’ll be good to write once a month. Hey, that’s probably a realistic expectation based on this year so far.

Anyway, the past two months have literally flown by, and they have been incredibly full. I could sum it all up like this: two trips to Asheville, a trip to Charlotte, eight full weeks of student teaching with one holiday (plus two sick days, but we’re not counting those), weekends full of working at Bath and Body Works and cooking for the week ahead, weeknights full of babysitting, four mandatory seminars, processing the death of my grandfather and ALL that encompasses, afternoons full of telling myself to go run but IT’S JUST SO COLD OUTSIDE AND WE DIDN’T EVEN GET SNOW, and nights lying in the bed wondering where God’s going to take me next on this journey.

I graduate in exactly 67 days (not that anyone’s counting or anything like that), and other than two trips in May that are planned already, I’m not sure what my life is going to look like after May 8th. THAT SCARES ME TO DEATH.

Those of you who know me well know that I am a planner through and through. It’s in my nature to plan, to figure out the details of things, and to like to just generally know what’s going on next. I’m good with details. There’s something I’m absolutely confident I’m good at, and it’s planning. Except for when I’m having to trust God with the plans.

Deep down, I know. I know He’s got me. I know that He’s going to provide in His time, His way. He always has. He always will. But, there’s this part of me, this part of me that Satan knows all too well when he whispers thoughts of doubt that cause me to question God. In all of my 23 years of life, I’ve never not known what’s going to happen after the end of a school year. I’ve never not known how my summer is going to look–even after the one where I broke my ankle.

I have to remind myself daily, sometimes hourly and minutely, that He’s got this. I think of all the unknowns in my life and how He’s made something beautiful out of them. Camp? Wow. I could talk for days about how He made beauty from ashes there. Australia? Again. Such a reminder for me of His faithfulness in my life. My birth family? All the answers aren’t there yet, but He has been so sovereign, and I know He will continue to do so.

So, why do I continue to doubt His goodness and faithfulness when it comes to a job for the fall? Because I’m human, I guess. I’m not sure. But, what I am sure of, is even in this messy, BUSY season, He knows it all. He hasn’t forsaken me once, and He never will. That’s the hope I’m going to cling to for the next 67 days PLUS the rest of my life.

as sure as the sun

This semester has been long. This semester has been hard. This semester has been defeating. This semester has been nothing like I imagined it to be. My life has been nothing like I imagined it to be.

I’ve come to terms with some harsh realities this semester. The life I had planned for myself isn’t the life I’m living, and on some days, that makes me so very mad…at God. It took me a while to admit that, and it’s still very hard to write. Why should I be mad at God? What right do I have to be mad at Him? Because my life is different than I planned? No, not at all. He even PROMISES us that He has plans for us that only He knows. Why should this be at all a shock to my system that my life has gone differently than what I expected?

If my life had gone according to plan, I would have gone to Auburn, and I would be engaged or seriously dating someone by now. I would be graduating on time, I would weigh a little less, and I’d probably be driving a newer car right now. If my life had gone according to plan, I wouldn’t have broken my ankle or gone through the endings of long friendships. I wouldn’t be going to a different church than my parents, I would have a higher GPA, and I probably wouldn’t be studying to be a teacher.

However, if my life had gone according to plan, I wouldn’t have been able to meet and make some of the best friends I could’ve ever imagined. I wouldn’t have worked at camp with the people that made last summer so incredibly special, and I can probably guarantee I wouldn’t have gone to Australia. If life had gone according to plan, I wouldn’t have met my birth dad nor would I have seen him and his wife get baptized. I wouldn’t have been able to see Jack grow up or be there on the day Joe was born. I wouldn’t be in the education program with some of the sweetest girls ever, and I wouldn’t be growing more in my faith because I’ve had to really make it my own in this past year.

It’s hard to remember the times He’s been faithful when you’re walking through things that seem hard, or even are hard. Compared to a lot of my friends, I haven’t had “big” struggles this semester, but I’ve still had struggles. PRAISE JESUS, He finds them equally important. It’s easy to think that He doesn’t care or that He doesn’t see. But, oh, friend, He does.

God is not overlooking some of the details in your life. God is orchestrating ALL of the details of your life. – David Platt

I recently bought the album “As Sure As the Sun” by Ellie Holcomb. Honestly, the only reason I bought was because it was going to only be $2 after I used two coupons at Family Christian. That had to be two of the best dollars I’ve ever spent. The lyrics of the first song absolutely blew me away, and I was hooked.

As sure as the sun will rise and chase away the night / His mercy will not end / His mercy will not end

While it’s hard to remember or even “see” His faithfulness, the rising of the sun is such a clear and perfect reminder. Each day it rises. Each and every single day, that sun comes up. And each and every single day, God is just as faithful as He’s been and as He always will be.

“Let us acknowledge the Lord, let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear. He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” -Hosea 6:3

This is one of the Scriptures that the song “As Sure As the Sun” is based upon. As I was at camp last weekend, I noted how everything seemed to be in full bloom. The last time I was at camp was in January, so everything was dead. But, in April, things were blooming and beautiful. It was so apparent that “the spring rains [had] water[ed] the earth”. God’s faithfulness was so evident to me in that moment. I’m praying that this will continue to be the case, and that God’s faithfulness will be as obvious to me as the rising of the sun.

A Big Deal

“I didn’t think it was this big of a deal,” she said to me, after the shock of the surprise started to wear off. “I mean, you guys must have driven all night. That’s crazy.”

It was a big deal, I reassured her. And the driving didn’t matter to us. We would’ve driven longer if we had to. It was a big deal, and we wanted to be there.

During all the wedding festivities on Saturday, I didn’t pay much attention to my phone. I kept it on me to keep up with the time so that I’d lead the bridal party to the back of the church on time, and so that we could get Drew and Alli out of the reception on time. At one point, I saw I had a message from my birth dad’s (BD) wife, but of course I didn’t look at it. After everything was over with the wedding, I headed home, and I hadn’t even changed clothes when I sprawled out on the sofa, ready to catch up on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I hopped on FB first, and that’s when I read it.

My BD and his wife got saved!!!! Something I’d been praying about for almost four years. Before I even met either one of them. My friends, my family members, and coaches and teachers from high school have all prayed about this. There were plenty of times when I thought I’d never see the day that it would happen, but God is gracious, and I did get to see it.

On Sunday, they got baptized, and I wanted to be there. My mom had something at church she couldn’t miss, so about 40 minutes after my dad and I found out, we were in the car, headed to Huntsville. I was already SO tired from the whole wedding weekend, but I was also SO excited that we’d get to see this! We pulled into Huntsville around midnight our time, checked into a hotel, got up early the next morning, and surprised the whole family. It was such a cool thing, and I will never forget that day!

After the service–where they got baptized AND joined the church!!!
And no trip to the great state of Alabama is complete without a meal at Momma Goldberg’s.
Almost exactly 24 hours later, we pulled back into Augusta, exhausted yet excited. What a perfect weekend. So grateful, and I can’t wait to see what the Lord does in my BD and his family!!!
Also, while I wasn’t driving, I read Karen Kingsbury’s latest novel. Of course, so good. Check out the trailer below. Side note: I totally get my love of reading from my dad. We both packed in about 20 minutes, and we both packed books to read while the other was driving. 

The Brother I Never Had

I remember being little and always wanting an older brother. I just thought it would be so cool to have a big brother who would look out for you and teach you all about life. I really always wanted one. Well, I have about the closest thing this only child could get to a brother. Drew and I truly treat each other like siblings. The other day I texted him about how I was grateful for him, and he texted me back saying he was grateful for our “siblingship” too. I decided I liked that–siblingship!
Anyway, we have the best of both worlds, in my opinion. We each get an additional “sibling”, have the relationships siblings can have, but we get to ship each other back when we get sick of each other! Just kidding…but really 🙂 He’s a great big brother, and when he got for real serious about Alli, I was excited for him. I kept thinking he was going to propose while I was in Australia, but fortunately for me, he didn’t! About a month ago, Drew texted me to let me know he was proposing! Well, of course Alli said YES, and Saturday night, Graham and Casie threw an engagement party for them.
Graham, Casie, Drew, and Alli. I so love the siblingship Drew, Casie, and I share.
This one makes me laugh so much!
(We were trying to explain to the lady taking the picture how to take the picture.)
Please note G in the background. Hahaha.
Umm, how stinkin cute are they?!?!
So, fun/random story about this sign. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that about a year ago, I found my biological cousin on facebook. Well, long story short, I added him and he accepted my friend request. That’s about it. Last week, I saw that he got engaged, and that he and his fiance had a chalkboard sign with “she said yes” written on it that they took pictures with. So, I decided to make a chalkboard and write this on it. It ended up being a GREAT prop for pictures and conversation starter. So, dear cousin who I don’t really know, all credit to you and your really cute engagement sign. I’ll admit that his was cuter than mine, but my idea came to life in less than 24 hours. I’m assuming his idea was much more planned than mine or he has good female friends that help him out. Whatevs. Still cute. 
I’ve watched Drew date a few girls, and Alli seriously is the best fit for him out of all of them. She is a beautiful woman of the Lord, and she just goes with him perfectly! I cannot wait to see them tie the knot in March, and I especially cannot wait to see all the things that God does in and through them!

Miscellany Monday!

Today, I’m linking up with carissa of lowercase letters for Miscellany Monday!
1. I’m absolutely loving these hydrangeas I got on sale at Kroger the other day. Hydrangeas are my second favorite flower, and I just think they are so beautiful!
2. I’m also enjoying these two Downton Abbey season three previews I’ve found on YouTube. I’m looking forward to the U.S. premiere in January!
3. I’m so loving these temperatures! Yesterday was one of the most beautiful days Augusta has had in a long time, and I’m hoping fall is on its way. Days like this make running almost seem fun…almost.
4. We talked about walking in the Spirit yesterday with the high schoolers. That requires its own post, but just check out Romans 7. Really, really good stuff.
5. I’m really excited that this movie comes out on DVD tomorrow. If you haven’t seen it, go and buy it. Really it’s that good. I’m so excited to watch it again!
6. I’m heading to Auburn on Friday! While I’m not expecting much for the game (they’re playing ULM who upset Arkansas in overtime on Saturday), I’m excited to be in the loveliest village on the plains with two of my favorite people. I’m also excited about hopefully going to World Market and seeing the Australian things they have there! I’m missing some mint slice!
7. Last but definitely not least, it’s this lady’s birthday today! Casie is a huge blessing in my life, and I’m so glad that I got to see her and celebrate a little with her today! Happy Birthday, KC!