COMMUNITY: Why It’s Important + 3 Ways to Thrive in Yours

Community.

Without it, life would be really boring and really hard.

I’m so grateful for mine. I live 3,500 miles away from my family, and let me tell you…that is H A R D. But God has given us the most amazing community. People who are just like family to us. People who love our babies like their own. People who go out of their way to take care of us. People who would do anything for us.

There are a handful of people in our community who I can legitimately say I could not survive without. My day-to-day life would not be possible without the help I receive from others — from people who owe me nothing but serve me and my family out of sincere love and generosity.

Sometimes that can be a hard pill to swallow. Sometimes it makes me feel guilty. Or not good enough. Why can’t I manage my own life by myself? But the truth is, God didn’t design life to be done alone. He designed us for community.

To share our strengths.
To love each other.
To need each other. 

Imagine how selfish and prideful we might become if we could do everything ourselves. 

Community keeps us humble. It keeps us united. It keeps us in sync with who God created us to be.

If you’re trying to do life alone,
on your own little island,
me-myself-and-I style,
or maybe “us four and no more,”
and you’re frustrated because it’s not working…there’s a reason for that. 

Find your community and thrive there.

Not sure how to do that or what that looks like for you? Here are three simple ways you can thrive in your community:

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When Your Season is Messy

When I moved to Alaska in September of 2014, I had never heard of “break-up season.” In fact, the first time I ever heard the phrase, I giggled because I thought it was a joke. Then March rolled around, and I suddenly realized break-up season is a real thing. A very real thing.

Over the course of a Fairbanks winter, we accumulate quite a bit of snow and it stays very, very cold (we’re talking as cold as 40 degrees below zero, people! And I moved here from the beaches of Florida!). I’m from Oklahoma, so I’m used to getting a little bit of snow and then seeing no trace of it within a day or two. But it’s much different here. It stays. And accumulates. And freezes. And you think it will never, ever melt.

But then it starts to get warm. (By “warm,” I mean 30 or 40 degrees.) And the sun starts rising higher in the sky and hanging around for more of the day—a wonderful change from the long, dark winters we get. And you start seeing a few little puddles here and there where the snow has melted during the day (and then refreezes at night). But it gives you a tiny glimmer of hope. The sun is shining! Snow is melting! Spring is coming!

Within a couple weeks of the “warm” temperatures, the scenery looks completely different. As the piles and piles of snow and ice melt, it turns to slush, and the dirt below turns to mud. The next thing you know, your feet are sinking underneath you and you just ruined your brand new shoes. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.) You quickly realize you can’t go anywhere without your rain boots, even if it means carrying a cuter pair of shoes in your bag to change into when you get where you’re going. Your car becomes a moving mass of dried mud, and it’s essentially pointless to waste $15 on a car wash when you just have to drive down your muddy road to get home. Your floorboards are filthy. You find yourself vacuuming your house every other day (or just recognizing that it needs to be done, but not actually doing it. Again…hypothetical.) You want to take your toddler for a walk to enjoy the beautiful weather, but you realize that leaving your driveway means pushing the stroller through nothing but slush and mud. Uh, no thanks.

THIS is break-up season, y’all.

It’s nasty. It’s filthy. It’s ugly. It’s even a little inconvenient. But yesterday I learned to appreciate it.

I got home from work and put Nora down for a nap. I looked out the window to our backyard and saw the sun shining so beautifully on our deck. It was practically calling my name. I quickly gathered a book, my computer, the baby monitor, some water, and a little snack (Reese’s eggs for the win!) and hurried outside. As I sat on the deck, I began to soak it all in. I could hear the water running off the house down the gutters as the snow melted. I could see patches of grass peeking through the snow—some of it was even beginning to turn green! I could hear kids playing outside (but that’s not incredibly abnormal considering our kids go out to recess until its 20 degrees below zero or colder!). The sun was shining. It was almost 50 degrees. It. Was. Beautiful. My heart was getting so excited because I began to see signs of my favorite season, summer.

That’s when I spoke these words: “Thank you, Lord, for this mess because it reminds me something beautiful is coming.”

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To the Woman Who is Waiting

This baby I’m growing inside of me still has 6+ weeks to go, and I feel like he’s running out of room. Every move he’s made today has been painful. And as we started closing in on my toddler’s bedtime, I wondered how many more times my tired body could bend over and pick her up tonight.

I picked her up one last time and carried her to her room where we began our bedtime routine. Every night, I stand next to her crib holding her on the front of my body, her head resting on my shoulder. I sway from side to side, sing Jesus Loves Me, and pray over her. But tonight…I didn’t have it in me. The weight of her ever-growing body was too much for my ever-growing belly to hold. I started to put her down in her crib, and she cried. She knew I was breaking routine. She wasn’t ready yet. What she didn’t know is how much her mama was hurting.

I pulled her back close to me and fought through the pain. To be honest, I didn’t want to hold her anymore. It was killing my stomach to hold her there. But she needed me. But me? I was uncomfortable and exhausted and just wanted to take off my Mama hat for the night.

And that’s when it hit me. Just like it does every single time. Like a ton of bricks being thrown at my gut, my mind is flooded with your faces, your words, and even your silence. There’s something I’ve been wanting to say to you for a long time, and I just haven’t known how to say it. But here is my best attempt at what my heart wants to say to your heart. You.

To the Woman who is waiting,

Every time I catch myself wanting to complain about motherhood, I think of you. I really do. Maybe it’s because you are my sister, and it hits close to home. Maybe it’s because ever since I got married and the idea of motherhood became more real to me, I started seeing you everywhere. Maybe it’s because ever since I had a baby of my own, I can’t imagine how you must feel waiting so eagerly to experience it for yourself. Or maybe it’s because you are some of my closest friends and I can practically hear your pain through your silence.

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