Waiting Well

It's funny how as long as I've been in NY, I've always had a magnolia tree somewhere near me. This shot was from our yard in the cottage we lived in before buying our house 5 and a half years ago.

It's funny how as long as I've been in NY, I've always had a magnolia tree somewhere near me. This shot was from our yard in the cottage we lived in before buying our house 5 and a half years ago.

I'm internally snickering at the subject of this post. "Why?", you may ask. My answer is because my entire life, I've been the one with the least amount of patience. For real. I don't know what it is about waiting but I can't stand it--if something isn't happening in the amount of time I'd like for it to be, I just grab it and do it myself.

But God.

A few days ago I received an e-vite from my pastor's wife to attend the Kingdom Hearts women's conference this year. I attended for the first time two years ago and was completely in awe of the presence and details of God that entire day. I remember the excitement of having a girls day with a small group of ladies from my church and being a bit envious, yet hopeful when I walked into the building and saw a whole slew of vendors set up, wishing I had known about the fact that one could set up shop there. Looking back at my journal from that year, I found my notes from the day of that conference--it was held on April 23, 2016; the day before, I had written an entry describing myself sitting out back here at our house, under our pink magnolia tree watching Bo play with trucks. I wrote about how I had been so excited for that tree to blossom but was disappointed because we had gotten a cold snap (including a late snow) that killed the blooms that were to unfold, but that after sitting there under the tree and studying it a bit, amongst the dead blooms, I could see green shoots and a few traces of pink. "Even in the ugly, there were traces of beauty", I penned. I went on to say that the magnolia, in some ways, was me--that even though I had allowed the enemy or circumstances to take hold of me at times and my trust wavered, I would wither and appear to be drained of life, but when I surrendered to God and put my full faith and trust in Him, I'd begin to be and experience the beauty of what He had designed for me to be.

Back to the day of the KH conference, I walked into the main hall and there, set up as a prop were two wooden pallets that had been handpainted on with the scripture: Jeremiah 17:7-8, which reads, "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord. For he shall be a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes, but its leaves will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought nor cease from yielding fruit." The keynote speaker that day was Francie Winslow who spoke on trusting God as well as the condition of our hearts. This morning I sat down with that old journal and looked up the scriptures from that day. I also looked at the sermon notes from the next day at church--my good friend's (now) late mother had given that sermon on Elijah and how God will always provide when he sends us on a mission, how He takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary, how He answers prayers even when we're still speaking, how we are to believe that He will provide and answer prayers, that God orchestrates everything according to His plan, how if we're faithful in little things, He'll give us bigger things, and that He's able to do anything, even what seems to be impossible. Then, I continued to read journal entries from that week which led to sermon notes of the following Sunday which was a sermon by mine and Rob's good friend, Mike who spoke on the subject of "seasons". Something that he said that stood out most to me was, "We need some seasons in our lives where we are drawn to our knees so we reach out to Him, and what follows a desperate season is a season of fruitfulness." WOW. Mind blown. I had no idea that the season that I was stepping into was a dry, drought-filled, wandering, silent, at-times-dark season. I thought I had God figured out, and that Rob, Bo and I were to purchase that old farm house on 34 acres and relocate to Alabama (if you missed it, that story is here) that following year only to have the wind knocked out of my sails just four months later when the deal fell through. I also had no idea that almost a year to the day of that conference, even in my dry season where, though I knew God and was trusting Him on blind faith but not waiting very well, I would be blessed with a daughter, even though I was so apathetic and complacent. 

But God.

So now here I am nearly two years after that conference, with an invitation to attend this year's conference. Upon receipt of the invitation to attend this year, I did some thinking and research, and found myself on the phone with the very sweet vendor coordinator for Kingdom Hearts. Guess who's going to be a vendor at this year's conference? Yep, you guessed it. MAGNOLIA+PINE. I wanted to get a feel for the keynote speaker and her message topic so I looked her up yesterday; her name is Chrystal Evans Hurst and if you're familiar with well-known pastors and Christian speakers, her dad is Tony Evans and her sister is Priscilla Shirer. Anyway, I came across Chrystal's blog and she recently did a podcast with contemporary Christian artist, Meredith Andrews (listen here). Y'all! I started listening to that interview and was glued. They spoke on what it means to be faithful in every season, making room for your gifts (i.e.: how to juggle home life/mommin' and using your God-given gifts and passions), and finding time to rest for it is when you {wait and} rest that you often hear God. It's hard for me to get out of my rut and focus on a sermon at home sometimes but I could listen to that podcast over and over. As we started this new year, I wanted so bad to turn over a new leaf and really get a groove with MAGNOLIA+PINE but of course to still be present at home with Rob and the kids, I just didn't know how in the world I would be able to maintain brain space and momentum. But God, right? This podcast came at just the right time. Chrystal and Meredith spoke about snippets and how so many women feel like it's all or nothing with getting something done. That is totally me! I feel like whether it's a devotional or design, blog post or creative vision, if I sit down to finally get something accomplished--either Bo needs his truck fixed or hiney wiped, or CC is screaming and wants the boob--I lose all concentration and say, "forget it, hopefully I can finally start on _____ tomorrow during their nap". These ladies spoke about how, even if you have a thought, word, vision, whatever it is, and you can speak it into your phone notes, do it! Grab whatever snippet you can and then go back and fit the pieces together. It's so hard for me to imagine myself doing this because I've always been a perfectionist and at times, a bit OCD, but when I sit and really think about it, getting things done in the manner of which they're suggesting is almost like a mosaic. You may be putting tiny pieces of random gibberish together but when it's all finished, it's a beautiful work of art. Such is my life.

I didn't know seven years ago that I'd still be living in New York. I didn't know two years ago that I'd be about to step into a desert season. I didn't know last week that I'd be starting a new year this week and having the sand wiped from my eyes, looking back at an old journal and literally reading the promises of God in my hand writing, in black and white. I say it all the time but when I'm caught up in a lesson He's teaching me, it just absolutely blows my mind. I can't help but feel a little guilty and want to kick myself for the times I haven't waited well, especially during the last seven years. But God. He has been teaching me firsthand His character, His lovingkindness and His grace. I've always had faith and held on to hope but as my dear friend, Shell recently shared, "let us be more aware of Him"; I know He's always working and orchestrating in my life but sometimes I go days on autopilot and not really seeing what He's doing. However, if I just sit for a second and wait...listen instead of speaking...I realize that He's always always always at work, even in the mundane. Even in the desert.

 

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Lessons from a Stomach Bug

My poor Bo Bear on Day 3 of the stomach bug.

My poor Bo Bear on Day 3 of the stomach bug.

Oh wow! Looking and seeing the last time I posted is just sad...December 6th. Three weeks ago today. I've tried so hard to get into a routine with writing and working on product but unfortunately I can't seem to find a good balance between work and home life. I digress. I envy the lifestyle bloggers who appear to have it altogether with their gorgeous photos, product and whit--I can't promise I will have any of those going for me but what I can promise is I'm going to keep it real. I'm a stay-at-home mom with dreams and passions but my number one priority, above anything I ever can accomplish or succeed at, is my husband and children (second and third only to my faith, of course). So three weeks...a lot can happen in a minute, let alone three weeks. These past weeks have been jam packed with one thing after another, hence, the fact that I've been MIA from our website; my dear sweet friend, Jenn, has an annual holiday market that I've been participating in when I'm available and this year I was able to, thankfully! It was a total success as I sold several candles, two signs and took a handful of pre-orders for miniature candles. This market was by far the most success I've had at one single event so I was definitely a happy camper and left there with a newfound boost in my creative mojo.

The following weekend my mom came up for a visit since she couldn't be here for Christmas. It was so great to see her, however, her visit was overshadowed with a death in Rob's family and the start of what was to become a vicious stomach virus. By the evening of when my mom left to go back to South Carolina, I was hugging the toilet bowl...as were Rob and Bo. Unexpected and not fun. The three of us found ourselves laying around between mine and Rob's bed and the couch bed for the next 2-3 days. I hated seeing Bo so sick--he's a little guy anyway but I felt like he was beginning to look like those sweet babies you see on TV who are skin and bones. I wanted to cry everytime I saw him just in a diaper. At several points during last week, he was lethargic--a limp noodle--just staring into space. Then, last Thursday night, 4 days after the bug hit us, we had to take him to the ER for dehydration. Rob and I had been on the mend for 2 days by then but Bo just couldn't seem to kick the bug. Thankfully it was a matter of giving him an anti-nausea medication so that he could orally rehydrate--after two more days of a bland/BRAT diet, he was back to his normal self. I can't think of any enemies I have but I wouldn't wish that stomach bug on them! Now after a week and a half, it has gone through 5 more family members, including my mom. There was a lesson I learned during the week of spoon feeding my 3 year old, racing said toddler to the bathroom to puke, putting cold wash rags on foreheads and rubbing backs--it was one of total gratitude. I've never been one to be good with people getting sick or anything medical related, I don't even like seeing my own puke, let alone someone else's; however, there was one day last week where Rob went to work so I was left at home with both kids sick and needing my attention. That day I had hoped to get some work done--whether it be sanitizing my house or attempting to make money with working on product...maybe even get a blog post done--but by the time one kid would be settled, the other one needed something. Normally I'd be feeling frustrated and defeated that I couldn't get anything done but that particular day, I just felt the Lord showing me that even though my household was a straight up hot mess, I was doing exactly what He had called me to do. Take care of my babies. My treasures. At the moment I had that realization, I babied my sick, helpless son a little more and held my fussy daughter a little tighter. It didn't matter that I hadn't posted not a single social media post on my business page in several days or that my website was looking like I had fallen off the face of the earth. The fact was my babies were sick and they needed their mama's undivided attention. So that's what they got.

Thankfully the bug came and went by Christmas and we were able to enjoy Callie Jude's first Christmas, without being sick. Every year we switch off holidays with my family--last year they came up for Thanksgiving and we were in South Carolina for Christmas so this year we stayed home for both holidays because of our big road trip back in October and were with Rob's family. I actually bought a tree and decorated it since we were going to be here. Since Bo has been alive, we've never had a legit tree. I wanted to start the tradition of buying a real tree but with us being down south every other Christmas, it didn't happen. Two years ago I actually decorated my art easel to look like a tree. It was made up of lights and garland so my 16-month-old at the time loved it and that's all I cared about. However, this year I decided to get my act together and I erred on the side of our budget and bought an artificial tree for $50. Growing up, I never had a real tree that I can recall so I always said when I grew up and had kids of my own, we'd get a real tree. Rob and I bought a real tree the year before Bo was born and that was the extent of our "real tree tradition"; after a few conversations with some family members this year, I came to the conclusion that I'd save our money by purchasing an artificial tree. I figure it'd be just as special to say that we bought the tree the first Christmas that we were a complete family--CC being here and making us a family of 4--and let the kids pick out an ornament every year. There ya go, our new family tradition! At the end of the day, Christmas isn't about trees, ornaments and all the trimmings but it does give me all the warm and fuzzies to have traditions with my kids that maybe someday they'll pass on to their families.

So here we are, two days after Christmas and five days before a new year. I'm excited for 2018! Lord knows what the new year will bring but I have that giddy pep in my step that reassures me that He is up to something great. Whether it be business successes, marital blessings, or just the fact that I'm living my dream of being a mom and wife, and that I'm able to stay home with them, and watch them grow and develop--I'm eternally grateful for what He's done thus far in my life and where He is taking our little family. Of course I have tons of dream and plans conjured up in my mind that I will attempt to bring into fruition but after years of struggling with control, I've finally given up in the best way that I can, and that is letting God be God. I'm too busy to try and take that role on anymore.

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