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Pay The Cost

If you have read my last blog post [Grace] Under Fire then you know that my life is in transition. This is a big one too. But today, after about a month of feeling like I was trying to walk in quicksand, everything came together. I got caught up on my chores around the house, our home is finally clean, we have something to eat (thanks, Mom), and my oldest is all caught up on distance learning. Having some semblance of normalcy gave me time to think and get off this hamster wheel of perpetually trying to find my feet. I am on solid ground now. I am good.

One of the things I have been pondering today is the fact that this life I currently have cost me a lot just a few short years ago. Today, being able to see my dreams of writing my book to fulfillment still brings me great joy. Having a job that pays me well for my time and effort gives me great joy. Having a marriage that literally fills my love tank to overflowing brings me great joy. Having sisters who would drop everything when I need them is an honor. But these things did not just come over time. I had to “do” something.

Writing my book took hundreds of hours between the years 2018 and 2020. I was taking notes during podcasts, conversations, at work, and then sitting at my computer for hours at a time fleshing out these thoughts. And the effort gave birth to something beautiful. This 400-paged manuscript is a love letter of sacrifice and I will always be honored that it is mine to share with the world.

Before I got my current job, I had to heal from my fear of failure and success. It took six months of conquering my fears, and eleven months of submitting applications to secure this position. I have invested hundreds of hours with my employer to gain their trust and earn my place in the company. It took sacrifice and hard work but I am finally seeing a semblance of career satisfaction. This job literally gives me the financial ability to pursue my dreams.

My marriage is enjoying one of our sweetest seasons ever. But we didn’t just arrive here suddenly. This was not a matter of time. This was a matter of investment. Four years ago, I invested eight months into marriage mentoring through Good Thing 101 by Wives in Waiting. My marriage is STILL reaping the reward of the work, lessons, and in-pouring I encountered in the program, and I keep the lessons on the forefront of my mind in my daily interactions with my husband. I recently took on the Respect Dare through Good Thing (as a leader this time), and even that little tune-up has brought new joy into our marriage and friendship as husband and wife. Four years ago, my joy in marriage was disappearing and mentorship literally turned the whole ship around for us. It took time, investment, intentionality and prayer but we are on solid ground today.

I prayed and cried out to God to prune me and make me a better friend than I had been in the past, and to give me women/sisters who would love me and accept me. God did the pruning and I saw the fruit of it. The friendships and sisterhood I enjoy now were a direct result of God teaching me how to be the type of friend I would desire. It took tears, prayer, listening, learning, forgiving and humbling myself to be ready for the gift of friendship. But the risk was more than worth the return I am enjoying today.

Today, I saw some publication from women and leaders whose work, life and ministries have impacted me for years. These women have been ministering and pouring out publicly for years at no cost. Recently, most of them have launched masterclasses and mentorship programs that require a fee or an investment. And I immediately had a thought. As much as I have benefited from these women and their free content and wisdom for years and decades, there is a reservoir in them that is strictly for those who will INVEST their money and substance to gain the wisdom and gold that these ministers carry. I fully expect that if I pay the fee/make the investment, the level of access I will have to these women’s insight would be deeper, richer and more transformative. It would be foolish of me to expect to grow to the same level from the free content as I would have if I had paid for mentorship or a masterclass. That is the very definition of trying to reap where you did not sow.

Every new level has a cost. Every single one of them. There is a cost for a better marriage, a deeper walk with Christ, more fulfilling personal relationships and even a top-notch career. And when I say cost, I am not talking about dollars. I am talking about sacrifice. We must sacrifice comfort for growth. We must sacrifice the familiar to conquer new territory. That is just the nature of the beast. Comfort zones are overrated. And when we get too comfortable, they transform from places of rest to places of bondage. The new joy in my marriage cost me a great deal of selfishness. I had to lay down my pride and my own will so that I could esteem my husband above my selfish tendencies. The new job costs me time and availability. I cannot just pick up and go as I feel like it (I still feel like I can because I am working from home but “home” does not mean available). I have to sacrifice my schedule and my desire to do whatever I want whenever I want for the sake of being an integral employee and a woman who honors my commitments.

Even my relationship with Christ cost Him his very life. Just because it was free to me does not mean it was cheap. Every good, godly, and worthy thing in this life has a cost. Some have been paid by heaven, others we must work out on earth. You cannot see the depths, heights, breadth and width of what God has for you by refusing to sacrifice.

From one sibling in Christ to another I advice you, pay the cost. You will not regret it. When you sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel, the return on your investment is out of this world.

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[Grace] Under Fire

I very briefly contemplated titling this post “Through The Fire Part 3” as a continuation of the journey of From Breakdown to Breakthrough -Through The Fire Part 2 but I quickly abandoned the thought because this is an entirely new journey. Bear with me as I take you through the adventure that is my life.

Over the last seven years (hello, marriage) I have noticed that before any significant breakthrough for my family, we encounter hell on earth. There have been unexpected crisis upon crisis at each turning point of our lives only for the clouds to suddenly lift and we find ourselves better off than we ever were before the bottom fell out of our world. I did not always recognize the cycle. The bliss of newlywed life had me temporarily unable to spot a pattern. We were still trying to find a new normal after all. But in the last couple of years, I have been very intentional about paying attention to what is going on with us. If you read my post from last month, I wrote that post after one of the most personally productive and fulfilling eight month stretch of my life and exactly one month after one of our family’s biggest win. It is not even a full month later and I am already updating you about being “under fire.” Coincidence? Only if you believe in them.

I serve a very intentional God and I also happen to agitate a very calculating enemy, as old as the fall of man. My family and I have been flourishing despite the pandemic and I pray God’s continued grace over us. But the last two weeks of our lives were completed upended. We lost our normalcy, our sense of well-being, and the ability to plan for our foreseeable future. It is literally the 100th or so transition for us as a family. Something is always changing for us, and as soon as we establish a new normal, everything is thrown into a blender and blown to bits again. I have come to expect the unexpected and I have gotten quite good at it if I do say so myself. I have become something of an expert at establishing a consistent home life for our family even when the changes happening around us are moving at a million miles per hour. But even THIS current pivot took me completely by surprise. We are looking at three major life transitions before the year ends, all happening simultaneously. I should be reeling from the force of impact (and last week I was). Just today, I had my first GOOD cry about all the changes and the loss in stability that was in the works for us for the next several weeks and months.

But after my good cry, and about two hours of check-ins, texts and conversations with my village of sisters, I had an epiphany. Every time God elevates my family, it is preceded by the worst kind of warfare, destabilization or crisis. The elevation is never one we know was coming and we never realize what our heartbreaking time of wilderness ushered us into until we are actually walking in it. It happened before we became homeowners, it happened before every major pivot we have had as a family, and it happened again before my promotion and before I successfully published my book. It definitely happened before I took the leap to close my practice and follow God’s voice in the direction of my dreams (hello, panic attack. You guys remember that , right?). Every victory has been preceded by a battle we never anticipated fighting.

So I am sitting here, in the midst of one of the most life-altering experiences of my life, living in a peace I cannot really explain. I have no clue how the other side of this valley looks for my family. We are going to be living life moment by moment and day by day – unable to make long term plans for probably a few more weeks, maybe months. But I am deeply assured that God is orchestrating this time to bring me to a “promised land” I did not know was even available for me and my household. He did it three years ago when He brought us to our “Rehobeth” after seven transitions in one year. He is faithful to do more than I can ask, think or imagine in this situation as well.

In the meantime, I intend to pull on my history with God. The goal of this time is not just survival. It is to live gracefully. Full of grace, abounding in grace, rich in the grace of God. Because it is available for me. God’s grace is the ointment that soothes every smarting sting of loss. Grace is the oil that keeps the machine of my life operating at full capacity. So in this place of yet another “wilderness” experience, my goal is to see God with fresh eyes; rediscover just how deep, wide, tall and vast His wealth of grace towards me happens to be. God has proven Himself to be exactly who He said He was and is. And because of that, I am more than convinced that I can prosper in anything – even under fire.