Restless in the wait. - A dream derailed.

I feel restless. I'm a go and a doer, and I am happiest when I am making things happen. But I feel like I'm in a season of waiting for that next thing. I am tempted to be jealous about seeing others start and go after their dreams. But in my soul I feel God telling me that he needs more time with me first before my next assignment. So I'm trying to be OK with that and enjoy it.

So far in the waiting, it's been emotional for me, because it's been quiet, and in the quiet he has been teaching me things about myself that I don't love. Like that I am arrogant and that I derailed some of the other dreams, for the time being, because I had a desire to prosper over God's glory. The most dangerous part of it was that it didn't look that way on the outside. To other people it looked like a massive step in faith. Has it always been that way? No. I initially moved forward in things with a sincere and pure heart. But where I fell is in spiritual maturity. Because with spiritual maturity comes the ability to recognize when Satan is tempting us outside of God's will. For a really normal Christian woman, that is not going to be something outrageous. For me it doesn't look like drugs or alcohol or anything out of my character. Satan is smarter than that and he wanted it to slip under the radar. So Instead he tried to take something, like the desire to make a name and a living, to distract me from building the name of my father.

Coming to this realization and sharing it is humbling. Not in a sweet "oh this old thing?!" kind of way, but in a painful and dramatic "why are you stripping this out of my life, God! I thought I was doing it for you!" kind of way.

And in all sincerity I have always believes that I work towards things for the Lord. But, I also believe that every big thing I've ever done for God publicly has been distorted and damaged along the way (by the enemy) to profit myself with praise. I believe that was an easy entry point for Satan because of my past, upbringing, and my personality. Because of my desire for praise, I was a shiny new target that he hit the bull's-eye on.

"If we don't die daily to need of personal praise, it will be the slow killing of our calling." - Beth Moore

My past has taught me how to fight. Survive and protect.  This can also be known as learned behaviors in personal, emotional survival mode. Survival is good. We all want to make it out of every day alive (hello toddlerhood), but is it worth costing us reliance on our God? Where this hurts my journey to fulfilling purpose is when I begin to see things slow down, I rev up. When things get quiet, I make noise. When things are calm, I run to the next logical thing I see, even if it's not God. Satan knows that. He knows me. He knows my past. My tendencies. My flaws and weaknesses. He knows me – but he doesn't get me.

When God says wait he doesn't dangle the next step in front of us, instead he says – be faithful. God needs more time with me. Just me. Not me and a shiny desire that excites and distracts me from him. He needs my heart fully and deeply connected with him before he can trust me with alife-changing gift. He needs me to be excited about him, his word, his love. That has to be my prize.

So, my waiting is my training. It's my core training.

I'm love God so much – for so many reasons, but specifically because of how he has weaved our faith journeys into simple every day lessons like this one... Our bodies we can train, we can put in the hours and we can lift weights. We can run until our legs fall off. But if we don't build our strength from our core to our outward extremities, we can only go so far. So when we think about our next big thing and we get discouraged with the wait, we have to remember that we are in training. The longer we are trained the greater the dream, the greater the glory for God, the greater the impact, the greater the responsibility, and the stronger we will be. And we have got to be ready for that or we, like me, derail it before we can even see the fruit from it.

In these times of waiting we can not shrink back our zeal for the Lord. We could be one prayer, one hour, one minute away from our father showing up in revealing the next thing.

My dream gets derailed when I replace my faith with busywork. When I stop looking up and I look around.

Hebrews 11:8-9

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.

 

These verses are humbling to me because the land of promise is almost always a lot less glamorous then we think or hope it will be. Sometimes I think we don't even know we are in our own land of promise because we are looking or scrolling around, and while we are in tents like Abraham, others are in beach houses, nice new cars, and are living perfectly successful and beautiful lives.

Ifeel convicted in this. For me I've had to guard myself by deleting social media apps on my phone, but there's more to this...

What if I run past my land of promise because I am chasing what I think is my inheritance?

 

What if I miss this? What if I miss a deeply connected relationship with the only man who can fulfill every need I've ever had? Because I'm too antsy, motivated, or arrogant in thinking I know best.

Waiting is sometimes annoying, oh yes it is! Can I get an AMEN! But when we continue to run to the next thing I think we are missing the biggest gift of all.

Hebrews 11:29

By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.

If we don't build our faith in this wait, if we don't strengthen our core with a beautifully deep connection with Christ, then when it's time to cross our own red sea road, we will drown in the deepest waters because our faith wasn't strong enough. 

We want so badly for our land of promise to be pretty and easy. We want to eat oreos and not gain weight (real life confession). We want to buy nice things and not go broke (also a real life confession). We want to binge watch Netflix instead of studying God's word, and not go spiritually bankrupt and feel disconnected from our Savior when we need him most. We want to get what we want and what we think we need, and God not challenge that plan. I mean is that not too much to ask!? Isn't life hard enough?

I am tempted with these thoughts daily. I have chosen Oreos, spending money, Netflix, and MY WAY. But they're like paid best friends... They aren't your friends at all. They turn their back on you in an instant. Even if you sell you soul to them, they can't provide you with the abundance that God is waiting to give you.

James 1:17-18 (NLT)

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

Waiting won't look glamorous, and it will be imperfect. In the meantime get in good with the one who holds all the riches, and you might just find a love so deep with your father that it will make the wait seem more like a gift then a grievance. 

My hope is built on nothing less, and I am counting on it. 

Longing for sisterhood.

Romans 1:8-12
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all of the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.  For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.

 

To me that scripture embodies sisterhood. That we would be able to use our own individual talents, gifts, experiences and unique traits to encourage and build each other up. To not just grow in our faith together, but to grow the kingdom of God together. It all starts with unity. It’s the main message we need to absorb. Even with different opinions and circumstances and beliefs there's an opportunity to unify through those differences. And when people unify in hard times where adversity seems to be at its peak, differences can be made. Moments where doom seems to set in, if we make strides to unify, hope starts to creep in and fill all of the gaps that divide us. All because of unity. In reference to sisterhood it's the same way. When we unify as sisters in Christ together, we not only have a louder voice, but our voices hold more power. A voice that doesn't just encourage community, but empowers a community.
 

When I was in high school I declared myself a guy’s girl. Do you feel like eye roll coming through the computer screen? Maybe some of you can relate with that. I had a few good girlfriends in high school but also really kept my guard up when it came to making friends. In fact one of my closest friends today, I wasn't really a fan of hers. She was a beautiful, well known athlete, that did well in school and  everybody seem to like and praise her. She had a lot going for her and it was obvious.

Due to my own insecurities, I judged her and pushed away any type of connection or friendship that I would've had with her. Jealousy stirred up all kinds of negative things in my heart about her. Things that weren't even true. So I avoided her. And as a defense mechanism I began to think of any reason in the world of why I was better than her.

Meanwhile we both go to college, graduate, get married. After I got married was around the time that I started Hazel Berry. I was also rediscovering my faith in God around this time, And I realized that all of the people that I had surrounded myself with didn't fit into this new lifestyle that I was trying to live. Therefore some of my friendships we're not as strong anymore, and for some reason I had a really hard time finding people who valued the same faith that I valued. I prayed that God would put new friendships in my life for me to share my business with and to grow my faith with.

 

I longed for a sisterhood. Not just the kind of sisterhood you have with your family but the kind of sisterhood you have with another one of God's girls.

 

One day I was sitting at my desk and received a message through my Etsy shop from Nikki. I didn't want to open the message at first. As perfect as I thought she was in high school- I'm sure she was even more perfect now! I was convinced of it. And I knew my life wouldn't measure up. Here I was sitting at my computer questioning my decision to even start this business! I didn't open the message for a couple of days out of fear. Fear that I would be face to face with rejection, and that I wouldn't measure up some how some way. That fear immediately made me isolate myself when God was trying to tap on my shoulder and say, "Excuse me but I've got your answered prayer right here. "

Whenever I got the courage to open the message, Nikki said some very sweet things in it and asked me to do a custom notepad for her. In those moments I saw Jesus in her because She wasn't just a person that I knew through high school, she was a kind voice of reassurance that I was on the right path in my life. That God wasn't leading me astray. In her message I'll never forget she said, "It's so good to see you doing so well in your talents God has given you! God is good!"

In that moment My heart changed. I felt like she knew me and she got me. She totally understood where my heart was in reassured me that even though following your dreams is hard, it's worth it.  And little did I know that later on I would be able to reciprocate that encouragement to her as she was starting her business.

I was very humbled by her and her kind words. So much so that I felt so guilty for even thinking bad about her. She was clearly this really kind person who respected what I was doing, and who deserved that same kindness and respect from me.



Romans 12:3–21 says this..
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,  so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

 


Nikki and I have talked about this before but all the little instances where we had interactions leading up until several of months ago, we feel like God was looking down and smiling at us maybe even giggling out of pure joy that something wonderful was unfolding. We began talking more regularly and the more we did the more we began to realize that our lives are really similar, we had goals that complimented each other and God was starting to tie our hearts together in a unique way to grow his kingdom.

My friendship with Nikki has been an incredible gift. We've said before that we feel like we're soul sisters because we understand each other's hearts. And whenever one of us is having an off day the other one knows exactly what to say to pick each other back up. Only God can orchestrate that kind of friendship. Only God can put two women who have pushed away a friendship with each other for many years, and turn them into sisters.  
 

But what if we deny what God is pulling us to... who God is pulling us to? When we refuse to see people the way that God sees them, we miss out on seeing the people intended to bless our lives. We miss the people we are intended to bless. We miss our own answered prayers.

 

It's time to absorb this warning....when sisters in Christ come together, Satan tries to crash the party.

 

Just like only God can bring two women together to grow his kingdom, satan can turn two of God’s girls into enemies. Satan plants those special words, those feelings of jealousy, anger, and insecurity, then he sprays a little bit of lighter fluid on it, lights a match, and then sits back and enjoys the show.

 

That does not have to be us.


Satan is the loudest when our faith is at it's highest. When he sees God’s girls come together, he suits up, does his research on you, and goes to battle to destroy your heart.

So as we go about our day today be mindful of that. Just by reading this, Satan has put a target on your back. So we have to take a note out of proverbs 4:23 and guard our hearts- guard our friendships - guard our purpose.


Satan tells us we cannot change. We don't have it in us. He tells us that we aren't worthy of love or friendship. He tells us that we're not ready to chase our dreams. He tells us that we aren't good enough for that promotion that job. He tells us that we are not Christian enough to stand up for what we believe in. And lastly- He tells us that we aren't worthy of the greatest love to ever grace this earth which is the love of God through Jesus Christ.
 

But the good news is that none of that is true.
 

Don't let Satan win by creating unnecessary tension between you and another one of God’s girls.


I just want you guys to think about something. I'm sure there are women in our lives who we have problems with. Or maybe there are women who we aren't close with because envy and insecurity gets in the way. Whoever you feel God putting on your heart right now I really want you to pray for them. And then I want you to pray for yourself that God will help open your eyes and your heart to be able to see the opportunities to connect with that person that maybe you've been blind to.

There is such a special sisterhood to be found between unlikely friends who are brought together by the common ground of the love and admiration of Jesus Christ. Don't miss out on who God is calling you to.

You have an opportunity to be a part of that story.

Sensitivity is your superpower.

 

I got an email the other day from a woman who wanted to know more about what I talked about in this post. I was referring to what is now the Guided Hearts Course and at the time I was deciding between doing a study on purpose or emotional freedom. Purpose was greatly on my heart at that time so I went that direction, but finding emotional freedom and what that means to me is still a big part of my relationship with God and how I started to be able to enjoy my life instead of trying to keep up with the world’s way of suppression and avoidance of the topic. So now I want to talk about it, because I really think it has been avoided way too long. I think people turn their heads because it’s deep. It exposes. It makes you vulnerable. And understandably so, sometimes that’s not the most attractive topic. But I am going to talk about it anyway, because I used to avoid and that was a hard, sad, lonely time for me. And what not everyone can see when you are in need of freedom is that there is so much JOY and FREEDOM at the end of the hard stuff. But unless we really do this and dig in deep, we stay in the hard part. I don’t want that for my worst enemy, and I certainly don’t want that for you.

Today marks the second official day of being 28 years old. Yesterday I celebrated because my life is different than it was when I turned, say 21. Sure I celebrated when I was 21… probably celebrated a little too much the wrong way if I remember correctly, but it’s a different type of celebration when you decide you are celebrating who you are, who you’ve become, and you recognize who holds you, who carries you, and who loves you - rather than, who’s next to buy you a drink.  

My mid-late 20s has brought an abundance of good things. Better skin care (thanks Alisha!), better relationships/friendships, better self care (thanks Nikki!), better understanding of how to juggle being a working mom while still being present for my son, better bible reading habits, and a better or healthier relationship with God and the world that surrounds me - to name a few.

However, I’d be amiss to say that I have fully found my version of emotional freedom. Do we ever fully find it, where it changes our life and we never look back? Maybe some do. I have hope that in Heaven it will be that way. But I also know that my desire for emotional freedom keeps me connected to my need for Jesus. It draws me into God’s grace. It breaks me down to the rawest emotional form some days and it covers me with a love that heals, and a power that can change how I am affected by the world.

So have I acquired it? Not completely, but that’s ok. And if you feel like you are there too, then sit by me because we're in the same class, sister.

 

What does emotional freedom mean exactly? For me, it means being able to make it through a day without feeling completely alone, misunderstood, unloved, or invisible. It means understanding God loves me, and Jesus died for me and that’s enough. It means for me to give up on trying to keep up with the callused world and instead embracing my soft heart and using it for good. It means crying. It means processing. It means learning how to heal and giving yourself permission to feel all the feelings.

People view freedom like it’s a destination. I certainly did. I just wanted to get there already. I was tired of always feeling hurt, and being hurt. I want exhausted from trying to be heard and understood. I was worn from feeling like the world was weighing down on my shoulders, yet the world didn’t pour into me like I poured into it. In thinking finding the destination was a fix all, that made me exhausted. That made me tired and worn. That hurt me. Because there again I was not enough to achieve my last hope of a little freedom from my own emotions. Instead I continued to feel enslaved and isolated by how I felt. My mind would replay, back track, and question every moment making me break down and feeling desperate to numb out with Netflix, wine, bad food, bad tv, etc.

 

I want to stop for a second and clarify something because I feel like this might be reading a little dramatic. If you are thinking, “why couldn’t she keep it together?” “Why is she so emotional and letting people get to her?” “She needs to grow up!” “She needs a tougher skin and to stop being so dramatic.”

 

If someone you know, or me, makes you think any of those things, please listen. Be gentle, but don’t treat us like we are fragile. We just need love and understanding. We need time. We need grace. We need acceptance. We need physical and mental room and patience. Don’t treat us like we might break, because truth is, we’re already broken, but so are you. We all are. You are more like us than you think. You might just be better at hiding and suppressing it. But keep in mind, a functioning alcoholic is still an alcoholic. They are still hurting themselves and feeling pain. The burden will always be tethered to your being unless you give it to God. Our heavenly father is the only one who truly takes it over, and lifts our burdens. So let’s be real in saying that we all need God just as much as anyone else. Just because your life seems to be going a little better than someone else’s, that means nothing - we all need God the same amount. Our need for the Lord and all he offers equalizes us. And then God does something amazing. He says, “Yeah I love you as much as I love her, but I love you both uniquely because you have different needs. And baby girl, I am here to meet every single one of yours.”

 

Everything changes when we start to understand something. Want to know that what is?

It’s when we begin to understand who God is, and who Jesus is. When we look into Jesus’ purpose and God’s love, it changes the game. Boom. Done. You’re different. When we make a decision to accept our superpower of sensitivity, we change. Life changes. It doesn’t get easier, but it gets lighter because we accept that God is going to lead us and love us regardless.

 

When we accept that God made us sensitive for a reason and were able to give ourselves permission to be who we are,  when we accept that God loves us no matter what and actually gave us all of those things (that the world may see as dramatic, or a burden) as gifts, then that's when we can start using them for good.

 

Sensitivity is your superpower.

 

And when you realize that you can walk into hard situations, and instead of running off and crying or internalizing your feelings and over analyzing what's happening around you, you can courageously and calmly say…

 

“How does God want me to use my sensitivity of the situation?”

“How does God want me to use the traits in the gifts he's given me in this moment?”

 

So is it freedom in the sense of living a new life of no trouble and never looking back? No. It’s better. It’s the type of freedom that establishes boundaries that set us free in the arms of our Savior. It’s a freedom we get from acceptance and love, and it’s a freedom that is only handed down through prayer and understanding of who our true father is and where our ultimate home is.

 

So let’s start there.

 

We don’t want to put it all behind us. We don’t want a fresh start with a new personality, new body, new life. We want Jesus. We want to know that even when our superpower starts to feel like a burden, we can rest because there was a man sent into the world to take care of the very burden we carry, and yes. His name is Jesus.

 

I pray that you never lose sensitivity, but that you shed the scarred skin and be renewed through Christ. I pray that you never become calloused but instead you become stronger and healthier. I pray that you allow yourself to process things in a private and faithful way and that you give yourself patience to do so. I pray that you understand you are not from here, therefore you do not have to do what others do in hard situations. I pray that you know the love God has for you and you know it’s a unique love only he can give you. I pray that you can compose yourself, have courage and then create a movement centered around the same kindness and love Jesus gives. Because that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day right? Giving Jesus away.

 

So from one sensitive sister to another, we’ve been called to pick up our superpower and show this broken world who is in charge. We honor God with our sensitivity by being courageous. So don’t cower down and wish you weren’t the one with the softest heart. Own it. Be her. The world needs more of her. Don’t give up.

Speak up, show up, and be faithful that God can use you through this.

The Gift of Weaknesses

If you're a woman you know the deep gut wrenching feeling of weakness.

Scratch that, if you're a HUMAN you know the feeling of weakness. It comes along with feeling Overworked. Sleep deprived. High demand. Lack of self-care. Sound familiar?


That's because that describes most of us. Even if you were not in the 99% of us that are overworked, sleep deprived, or in such high demand that we can't even manage to take care of ourselves sometimes, then you should be teaching a class or something because we could all use a little bit of your magic potion.

But even you, the ones to seem to really have it together. The one to get 8+ hours of sleep at night, with your full bank account, who don't have thoughts that keep you at night... Even you feel weak sometimes. 

Well I am here to make an announcement. We feel weak, but we are NOT weak. We are strong through the surrender to our heavenly father. 


We all view weakness as a bad thing. And how is it a gift from God?


I was listening to a podcast the other day and Steven Furtick was being interviewed. Steven is the founder and preacher of Elevation church, and one of the biggest points he made in that podcast stood out to me. He said, "..know your limitations and find creative ways of overcoming them." NOT: "know your limitations and then give up." 

His example was that he planted Elevation Church in North Carolina and it became very successful and a very large church. But he knew that he could not be everything to everyone and still deliver a quality message every Sunday. The type of message that drew people to the church in the first place. So he knew he had limitations. Through prayer, soul-searching and creativity he created a way to reach larger audiences while still being able to personally connect, and deliver a rich lesson.

By recognizing the weakness, he allowed God to pour strong solutions in his heart. Solutions that are very successful today in growing the kingdom of God and his church.


I think that is such a valuable lesson for all of us. It doesn't matter where we are in our life. We all feel a little bit like we're on the verge of tapping out. Like we can't seem to take on anymore than we already have.

Weakness is a gift from God because it's a piece of us that encourages us to seek the Lord for our strength when our strength fails. When we fail to have all the answers, weakness is our key to finding them. Through our weakness we can seek the Lord's guidance and love to guide us through a life more beautiful than we can even imagine.

So yes, your weakness, and my weakness are a gift from God. And with every gift from God comes an opportunity for satan to creep in an destory. 

Gifts from God are the perfect example of how satan turns a gift from God into something destructive. We've all heard the phrase, "Too much of a good thing is a bad thing." Well, today I'm changing that to "A lot of a good thing can remain good and pure if we seek the Lord first in every step we take. "

Money is a good. It helps you live and even helps you bless others. But money is a bad thing when you let the drive for more and more negatively affect the things that matter most.

Sex is good. It is a gift from God. But doing so in a way that does not glorify God can be destructive.

Falling in love is wonderful. But investing so much of your happiness into a relationship where you become more dependent on each other than on God, will end in heartbreak and disappointment every time. 

Fame is a gift from God and opportunity to share the Gospel. But the minute you decide to use your platform to feed your need of acceptance, it becomes the home for your self righteousness.

See how easily that happens?

Satan easily turns our gifts into grievances.

Don't let that be you this week. Put on the armor of God and the Love of Jesus. Identify where you are weak so you can acknowledge where our Savior can fill you with strength. So as your day gets started, start by owning your weakness. Embrace it. Give your self permission to identify it. And then Thank God for it and find creative ways to overcome it that will glorify him and him say, "Child I am so proud of you. "


Isaiah 40:28-31 (The Voice Bible)

 Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Eternal, the Everlasting God,
The Creator of the whole world, never gets tired or weary. His wisdom is beyond understanding.
God strengthens the weary and gives vitality to those worn down by age and care. Young people will get tired; strapping young men will stumble and fall. But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength. They will soar on wings as eagles. They will run—never winded, never weary. They will walk—never tired, never faint.


Anything I can pray for your this week? Email me your request. We are in this life together.

Do you know a friends who is struggling with this very topic? Share this post with them.



Surrender

Last week I read the story of Hannah in the Bible. Probably not for the first time, but it still felt very new to me. Maybe because I am not just reading it as a woman, but as a woman who is surrounded by friends with young children and as a mom myself.

If you've never read the story of Hannah, you can read it here and I suggest you do. If you have or haven't read it, here is a little refresher/cliff notes version. 

Hannah struggled with infertility and said that if God would just give her child she would devote that child to him. 


Even if we all can't relate with the topic of infertility, we all know what it's like to want something so deeply that you can almost physically feel the presence of that gift in your life, and your heart physically hurts for it. When we want something to that magnitude our hearts have already created a space for it and then suddenly there is an empty void that's waiting to be filled. We begin to wonder why God lets us get to those moments. Those moments of desperation that light and emotional fire underneath us. A fire that can explode out of control with a tiny little spark. It doesn't always seem right, and it doesn't always seem fair, that a God who loves us so much lets us get that far in our desperation.

What is hard to see in those moments is God's plan and control over the whole situation. I heard a quote the other day that said, "The only way God can show us he's in control is to put us in situations we can't control." That phrase both enlightens me and upsets me. It give me hope for the moments when I am so deep in the confusion, but it also makes me feel like, "What the heck?! Why can't I just follow God's rules and he can bless me. Why can't it just be as simple as doing the right thing and getting your reward? There are so many people out there getting the good stuff when they don't deserve it! And why must those situations that challenge us be the ones that bring us to such a level of pain and desperation that we can't even see straight?!" 

Because, of a little ole' thing called Surrender.

Ok, so maybe not a little thing but a big huge thing. Surrendering to God is one of the most beautiful acts of praise and devotion we can give him. But it also means that we have to be willing to give up our deepest desires to God and let him take it from there. When we surrender our pain, worries, fears, and situations to the Lord, we are saying, "Ok, so here it is. The one thing that I have such a deep desire for,  It's yours to take. It's yours to move. I give up trying to control it, save it, or will it into existence. I have faith that you will do what is best." 

I personally believe that God does not inflict pain on us. It's us create this downward spiral by trying to manipulate God's plan for our lives, and then we get so frustrated that it doesn't work. 

When my son was in the NICU you, I blamed God the whole time. And I would get so frustrated with my husband who would always say God has a plan, because I knew God had a plan and I didn't like it!

I feel like I did OK and keeping it together in front of other people, but I was broken. I was angry and frustrated and confused as to why my story was this and not what I had imagined it to be. And not just imagined, but I felt like I deserved an easy go at it. My life hasn't been easy, and I just felt like, "Why can't you give me this ONE THING, God!"

Fast forward a year....My son celebrated his first birthday a little over a month ago, and all I can say is for all the moments of deep anguish and pain we experienced, there is an even more beautiful moment in return.

If you haven't experienced that yet, it's coming. 


On the other side of that situation (the side that is in the depths of healing, praying, and gaining perspective) I can see a little more clearly now. Don't get me wrong, I still don't like that we had to go through that season of darkness. Remembering it is painful, but the gift that came from my surrender to God is undeniable. For me, that gift was a healthy baby boy and a beautiful testimony of how my faith reached a whole new level through that trial. For you, maybe it's freedom. Maybe it's peace. Maybe it's a job that fulfills you. Maybe it's a stronger relationship with loved ones or our heavenly father. What ever it is, it's worth celebrating.

Having experienced that brokenness, or any brokenness in my life, I now have a deeper appreciation for each gift God gives me. And not just an appreciation, but since of duty to use that to to glorify God.  It's important for us to gain perspective from our time in the darkness. 

Every gift and every blessing we are given we have to understand that we specifically chosen for those gifts because of how we can use them to glorify God in our own special way -  today, tomorrow, 10 years from now, etc.. That's really the only reason why were given gifts anyways, to use them to glorify God. And same goes for trials. We are given trials because God see's the potential in us. He sees far beyond what we can see or comprehend, and he knows what good can come from us surrendering to him and allowing his will to play out. 


Just like when my son was born, I often feel so entitled to a blessing because I've worked hard for it or it's something I want so desperately that I would do anything for. But true praise comes from knowing the power of God and how quickly he can give and take away each gift, and how he can heal a heart that feels broken beyond repair.

We all face different trials and have different circumstances, but the feelings we have in the darkness are the same. We might have more in common then you think. ;)

If you need prayers over something you are going through, please email me. You're requests are confidential, but if it's uncomfortable to share, you don't have to say why. God knows your heart anyway, and I am just happy to pray over you and fight for you. 

Also, if you are someone who is in the middle of a situation or circumstance that makes you feel broken now, has broken you in the past, or something that you feel like is starting to crack your exterior, I have something special in store that you might want to be apart of. If you are interested in community and empowering women through emotional freedom through your own battles,  just shoot me an email and say "I am interested in learning more about your idea!"

Thanks for reading this little piece from my heart today, friend! 


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What your handbag and emotional health have in common.

Before this post gets into the good stuff, I just want to go ahead and put it out there that I love me a good beautiful handbag.  I have champagne taste on a beer budget, let's just be clear about that. But that doesn't stop me from finding good bargains, or splurging on good quality pieces. One of the things I love so much about a pretty handbag is that it holds all of my junk and a pretty little package that makes everything look more polished.

On the days where I haven't showered and I choose to put on workout clothes to deceive all who I encounter that day, (making them think I just got done at the gym when really I just haven't showered in two days #momlife) that beautiful handbag is my redemption. It tells the world that I might look like a hot mess right now, but I am a put together woman who has her life together.

Insert all the laugh-til-ya-cry emojis because I'm almost crying tears of hysteria as I type that. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a little bit of a hot mess with an even messier heart. And I am just a messy person naturally. Shut out to my sweet momma who is probably reading this nodding her head aggressively up-and-down, confirming this truth about me.

On the days where I get to shower (that's right - somedays it's a luxury!) and put on make up and wear nice clothes, that handbag really just solidifies the whole deal. If I had a grungy old purse, you might judge me by that. You might see that old raggedy purse and think, "wow, she doesn't care about her appearance or value nice things." Not trying to put words in your mouth, but I'm sure we've all thought these things about someone before.

But the bottom line is we are attracted to nice handbags because we like that they hold the crazy and make it look pretty.

It is the same exact thing with our hearts. We think that if we can somehow trick the world through a joyful facade and smiles that we're doing all right on the inside, then we are totally OK with that. But what's really happening is we are just disguising all of the hurt and pain that we carry around with us day in and day out. Our baggage can sometimes be messy, overwhelming, uninviting and negative. No wonder we want to hide it and disguise it as something completely opposite of what what it is.

Last year for Christmas my husband surprised me with a Fossil handbag that I had randomly pointed out at Belk one day. Let me just start off by saying that my husband is a teacher and I am self employed, and we both make very modest incomes. So you can imagine how surprised I was that my husband had splurged on such a beautiful, and somewhat expensive in my opinion, gift for me. He knew that gift giving was my love language, and that showing that he payed attention to me saying I wanted a "nice handbag that would last me for longer than 3 months like my target ones". Melt. My. Heart.  And after the feeling the guilt of getting such a nice gift, when I didn't spend nearly as much on him, wore off what excited me most about it was how beautiful it was and how everyone who saw me carrying this person would automatically think I was more put together than I actually was. 

You guys want to see what this beautiful purse looks like on the inside?

 

Y'all, first of all don't judge me.

And second of all this is what hot mess express looks like. I won't even tell you how long it takes for me to find keys, or even something as big as my wallet. Which I don't even think is in the purse in this picture so you can only imagine what THAT looks like. (Hint: it has paper sticking out at every angle and it's not money.)

So what is the matter with this type of thinking. When we believe that some pretty and polished exterior can hide deep emotional burdens and insecurities, we aren't just deceiving the world but even worse were deceiving ourselves. Just like this beautiful gift that my husband gave me, our hearts are worthy of cleaning up and organizing. 

They are worth reflecting their true state on the outside, too. Even if your heart is unbelievably messy, God still wants to see it. Picture Jesus in your living room staging your messy handbag intervention. He even brought his special trashcan for you to get all of the crazy out. Except he doesn't want you to dump it all out, he wants you to pick out piece by piece and process why it needs to leave or why it needs to stay. 

There are some pains from my past that I know are important to keep memory of. Not to continue to revel in the pain, but to gain perspective and grow from it. Those pains don't define me but they will help refine me. So those, I will keep for the moments I need to gain a little perspective.

And then there are some pains that are just so untrue they deserve to be thrown out and not given any more energy than it's already taken from you. These types of pains are lies that people either say about you, or that you feel about yourself. Maybe even lies that started as a line some one told you, turned into a lie that you begin to believe and then became a liability in the way you live your life. (Shout out to Lisa Turkeurst on stringing those insights together. Her new book Uninvited is the bomb and y'all should go read it. )

Those lies deserve to be demolished with the spiritual truths that God speaks into our lives.

I'm not strong enough. I will be strong for you. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Nobody Loves me. I Love you. John 3:16

It's impossible. All things are possible. Luke 18:27

I can't forgive myself. I forgive you. Romans 8:1

I can't do it. You can do all things. Philippians 4:13

I am alone. I will never leave you. Hebrews 13:5

I'm not smart enough. I will give you wisdom. 1 Corinthians 1:30

I'm not worth it. It will be worth it. Romans 8:28

Scripture contradicts lies we tell ourselves or lies we allow others to place on us. So don't shy away from the word of God because it seems intimidating. It's simply just a love letter from God to you. Just reading those verses lightens my step. How about you? What is burdening your heart right now? Maybe its a past hurt that seems to always sit on your heart in the quiet moments. Get in touch and tell me about it. I would love to offer any insight, as well as pray for you. 


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In search of wisdom

I've had a love hate relationship with reading the Bible for so many years. Honestly I think it can get kind of boring**. (GASP) I know thats not the church answer, sorry. But really.... you've probably thought it too. Especially when you are reading names and cities that you can't even say correctly and you just feel like they are letters strung together. Am I right? (virtual air five) So learning how to really get into reading Scripture has been a struggle for me. But recently I have just been desperate for inspiration and guidance, and it occurred to me that I have been denying my biggest source of those things. So I decided to just get started and dig in and what better book than Proverbs. 

As I started reading Proverbs, The words started to jump out at me and grab my attention. I started to feel like "Why I haven't I've been reading this before?!". So, I want to share with you a passage that really stood out to me this week about wisdom.

You see, we all struggle with making wise decisions. Some people are naturally more profound thinkers than others, but we all face situations where we have no idea where to turn. For me, especially in this season of life, I need guidance and direction from the Lord. But sometimes it can be frustrating waiting on a sign or something to verify if I need to say yes or no, or which direction to take. And then I end up getting frazzled because I'm so overwhelmed by the big-bad-demond of pressure to give an answer or to respond. You too? Glad I'm not alone!
 

But then I found Proverbs 4:5-12, and it made my heart feel something deep and profoud that gave me peace and confidence for action and patience. 

It reads…

Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.

Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
she will honor you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a graceful garland;
 she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.

Hear, my son, and accept my words,
 that the years of your life may be many.
I have taught you the way of wisdom;
I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
When you walk, your step will not be hampered,
and if you run, you will not stumble.

Proverbs 4:5-12 (Read the rest of Proverbs 4 here.)

What I gain from this scripture is this:

  • Don't just seek wisdom, but seek insight. I think we all associate wisdom with answers and clarity on if we did the right thing or not, and I just don't know if thats the best way to approach it. Praying for God to bestow wisdom on you is good... do more of that! But I believe insight is the key to making a wise decision. Because spiritual insight is what is going to give you the perspective on whether or not this is something you should be pursuing. It going to build a foundation of WHY you are saying yes to something. So who is a person who can offer you spiritual insight? Take them to coffee and discuss whats on your heart. 
  • There are days that I am in a hurry and running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Bull in a china shop, this girl right here. (Lord, bless this hot mess!) So anytime I see the word graceful, I immediately want to just reach out and grab it. Here it is saying that through wisdom and insight, we gain a sense of gracefulness that allows us to sink into and be covered in peace. We can gracefully move forward is we have Lady Wisdom on our side and insight.
  • When we ask God for wisdom and seek spiritual insight, we are accepting a gift. A gift that keeps our steps steady. A gift that will not let us fall. When we move forward with wisdom from God we are unstoppable.

 

Crazy beautiful right?

Is there a decision or direction that has got your stumped? I know I can't be the only one. Let God save you from being stuck. Let him deliver you to your promise land through choices and actions that display a spiritual wisdom and TRUST in the Lord. He will make all our paths straight. 

Email me (by clicking the button below) and tell me what you are stuck on right now. Tell me about what you are needing wisdom to move forward with. If I can offer any insight, I most certainly will. And you better believe that I will be praying for you, sister. 

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** I started reading the voice bible and really like how it tells the bible in more of a story format with explanations on whats happening (aka - a lot less boring!). Oh and it has more modern talk so you can relate. But, FYI,  I pulled the scripture that I shared with you, from ESV of the bible.**


4 ways to attack insecurity (and not let it rule your life or your paycheck)

As women, we all have our own sets of insecurities. It's almost inevitable as a human to doubt yourself one way or another. It's NOT something we want to get used to but it's there, it's real, and it can ruin your life if you allow it to. 

 A FEW WAYS INSECURITY CAN RULE YOUR LIFE:

 

• They paralyze you in pursuit of a goal.

• They can ruin important relationships or keep them from forming.

• They weigh us down making it harder to reach out to God. 

• They make us believe lies that are not true about ourselves. 

* They encourage us to project those lies we believe on other people. 

Needless to say, we don't need them or want them anywhere around us. Yet, a lot of times we feel as though we cannot escape them. 

This week I started a new adventure. I was tired of feeling stuck professionally and it occurred to me that the last time I felt stuck, it was because I wasn't growing and wasn't improving myself. You know the feeling, like when you spot a fellow business owner who just reached 10k followers, or was just featured on a well renowned site. Or when your friends are all getting promotions and you realize that you're in the same place you were three years ago. 

When I was willing to admit that I was disappointed with how things were going, it unveiled the insecurities that have been holding me back for years.

"Im not good enough."

"No one likes me. They like her better."

"No one wants to hear what I have to say."

"I'm not smart enough or as qualified."

"I must not be worthy."

LIES. Another big fat lie is when we believe that we don't have control over how those lies affect us. 

CALL ALL CONTROL FREAKS...this is where it gets good.

We give our selves permission to believe the lies that satan plants on our hearts through our insecurities. Instead, we need to be giving ourselves permission to seek the TRUTH about ourselves, conquer the lies, and become empowered through the process. 



We need to be living our Permission Pledge. Here is mine:

I pledge to stop believing that my lack of "success" is a result of me not being enough. I promise to allow myself to use the thoughts that once attacked me, to better myself for my family, my friends, and my business. I promise to give my self praise for hard work, and give God the praise for the work he does in me. I give myself permission take control of my relationship with the words of the world, and replace it with Godly truths. 


Tweet: I pledge to stop believing that my lack of success is a result of me not being enough.#Permissionpledge @jilliandolberryhttp://bit.ly/2asF6Gy

My biggest hangup lately has been overcoming my insecurity about sharing my life's testimony.  I'm an introvert who's called to live as an extrovert, and that is a scary path to take. Also keeping my testimony to my self means I'm only halfway doing what I'm supposed to. I'm not awesome at math, but even I know that pursuing half of my purpose/mission means half of the success. God isn't going to fully reward you for doing half of the job he called you to do.


Tweet: God isn't going to fully reward you for doing half of the job he called you to do.@jilliandolberry http://bit.ly/2asF6Gy

Some times sharing your heart is the hardest part. Not only am I insecure about being transparent, but I also project those feelings on other people. Maybe you can relate.

For example, we went out with friends a few weekends ago. The Tennessee humidity is THE WORST and I was frizzy headed and sweaty in no time. Total Jimmy Fallon "EW" moment. So, I assumed that anyone around me also thought how disgusting I looked and I immediately felt as though I have to apologize when they hugged me or got near me. (reading that- it sounds so sad, but we all do this often!) And in reality, no one cared that my makeup was melting off my face, they just enjoyed my company. 

See how that happens? We put words in other peoples mouths and we project our ugly thoughts on them. Not only is that not fair to US or THEM, but it's not fair to God. My husband could have whispered "you look nice tonight" and I would have made some comment like, "yeah right". But that could have been a message from God through him to show me that I am loved no matter what. 

In those moments I'm not only discrediting my self worth, but I'm saying that God isn't as incredible as he is either. AND THAT'S JUST BOLOGNA. 


4 WAYS TO ATTACK INSECURITY


• Advise a trusted friend who knows your heart, and seek some biblical truths together. Even if a friend says what you've read a million times, it can still heal your heart in a whole new way because THEY said it. 

Action step: find a verse or quote (a power verse) that empowers you to keep moving forward and post it somewhere you will see it daily. Bathroom mirror, nightstand, use it as a page marker in a book your reading. Let it serve as a reminder of how EMPOWERED you are.

• Grow some confidence. The love God has for you, and how he has entrusted you with such dreams/purposes should be the greatest amount of confidence you can obtain.

Action Step:  Identify the strong traits that the Lord blessed you with. Write them everywhere. Put them with your (power verse) to be seen daily. Also, ask a trusted friend what they love most about you and what your doing. Sometimes an outsider can see more clearly than we can. 

• Stop putting words in other people's mouth and assuming they think less of you. In that moment your the only one who is thinking less of you. 

Action step: Approach someone who you think may be doubting you. Don't say anything that might assume you know what they are thinking like, "I know you don't believe in me." Instead, confidently speak from your heart about what you do/what you like to do. Prove to them your worthiness by the confidence you carry. 

• Pray that God will help lift your burdens and help push you onward. The only other person besides ourselves who has control over our hearts is the Lord. Confide in him to awaken the fiery, powerful woman you know you can be.


Tweet: Prove to them your worthiness by the confidence you carry. @jilliandolberry #insecurenomore http://bit.ly/2asF6Gy

My hope is that we all will realize that God controls the journey, but we decide how enjoyable, purposeful and profitable it is. And with the King of all the nations on our side, the world is at our fingertips.


SHOP NEWS: Today is the first day of August which means we have new Featured Charities this month to give 50% profits from our Prints that Give line! Check out our NEW print in memory of the precious Brooks Blackmore.



Prints That Give

I was sitting on the couch watching fixer upper, when I realized what my next big project would be. FLIPPING HOUSES!!! Just kidding... my husband would die. 

But really though, as I was sitting there and they were showing a sweet couple their new home, the idea came to me. Prints have been in my shop since the beginning. They always meant something to me. Having art in your home on display that tugs on your heart when you walk by it has always been important to me. So despite if they sold or not, I just kept creating them. Somewhere in that Fixer Upper episode it all just came together for me. Not sure how, because it wasn't like Chip was saying, "Jill you should do this.." through the TV. Instead the idea snowballed as I sat there watching these really awesome people pursue this really creative way God has called them to serve the world. God just poured into my heart in that moment. 

"Let's create meaningful prints that can give back to other people. Let's use this business to give back and let's do it big. Together." -GOD

Over the past few months it's been fun to see this idea from start to finish. It's also been nerve wracking to narrow down suppliers and make sure this new idea comes to fruition in a way that I can be proud of esthetically and tangibly, and that God can be proud of by carrying out it's mission.

My business has often felt like a power struggle between myself and God. Am I doing this for my financial benefit, or will it be to grow God's kingdom? This runs through my head constantly and has when it comes down to each project and product. This idea was all about a mission, sticking my neck out there and really praying for God to take a hold of it and work his magic.

So I am really proud to announce the launch of the Prints That Give print and canvas line that donates 50% of the profits from each purchase to the featured cause you choose! 

Each print comes in a variety of forms and sizes:

• 8x10 download ($8)

• 8x10 print ($15)

• 12x16 print ($32)

• 16 x 20 canvas ($92)

Here's the thing. Initially I thought I would select prints for each of the causes, but as time passed and we neared only two days away from today (yikes!) I felt a strong pull to reorganize. God has never steered me wrong, so I followed his lead. The new way you can give through our shop is for every purchase of a print or canvas 50% of that purchase will go towards a featured cause (read more about our featured causes here.) When you choose the print you LOVE and can't live without, you will add it to your cart, and then be prompted to choose a charity. 

In addition to the 50%, for every purchase you make in the shop, Hazel Berry Design gives 5% of the profits to the Ronald McDonald House Charity! Every purchase gives!

There will be new featured charities each month. AND THE BEST PART is that you can nominate the charity, non-profit, or personal fundraiser that is close to you! So if you have a friend who is trying to adopt, we can help offset their adoption costs together! Or if you have a family member who is in need of financial help to pay off medical expenses or treatments, we can raise money for them together. The cause can be as personal or general as you want it to be. The idea is to pair financial gifts with the blessings God bestows on us in hopes that as we give back into the community in the name of our Lord, he will work in the hearts of these recipients. 

You guys, I am so excited about this opportunity. I hope you are too, and I hope you will join me in celebrating this amazing launch by sharing the NEWS about the #printsthatgive Line. The more people know, the more people can help support these amazing causes we are partnering with. 


Read more about each cause on our Featured Page.


I changed my mind.

Hey friends!

I am both nervous and excited to to inform you of this change I'm making to the GIVING for the #printsthatgive line. Nervous because at the last minute God has laid something on my heart that I feel moved to execute very quickly with only two days away from the launch. Yikes! And excited because God has answered a prayer for me to be able to do more and hopefully give more to each of the featured charities. It's last minute which makes my planning heart cringe, but when God says jump I do my best to say "how high" and let's do this!". 

As I developed the Prints That Give print and canvas line, my main goal was to be able to give back to charities that meant something to other people. All I've really ever wanted to do with this business is help others and over the past couple of months I have just felt like there's been a piece of the puzzle missing, and like there was more to be done.  I just wasn't sure what that meant until yesterday. 

I have decided to open up the option for every print to be able to give to one of the featured charities. How that will work is instead of one print being designated for one cause, people will choose the print that they like and then be able to choose the cause that speaks to them the most. I believe giving people option to choose the print that they like the best will result in more money to each cause. Before your cause being paired with one print limits your profits to only the success of the sales for that print. I obviously chose how I would do things for reason before, but sometimes more is revealed to you as time goes on and then you are challenged with a way to make it better. I've excepted the challenge. :) Yesterday I worked tirelessly to make adjustments and we are now set to GO LIVE TOMORROW with this Print + Canvas line! 

Why change my mind now?

ell you could say it's because I'm a woman ;). But it definitely goes much deeper than that. Before, I was fearful there might be a limit to how much money I was able to give to each cause if it wasn't a print that was the most "popular". I imagined a print that was not attached to a cause being sold and me just banking that money when the causes could receive nothing. I didn't sit well with me. If I was in anyway limiting how much money I was able to give through your purchases, then I'm not doing what I was set out to do. This also means that I make less money and that every single print, not just the featured prints, has the ability to give 50% of the profits to a featured charity. Putting the mission before my financial gain is what tells me this is the right move and honestly I feel more at peace with giving as much as possible to each charity. 

Please stop by our FEATURES page to learn more about this months charities/recipients and then head over to the NOMINATE page to nominate a cause that you would like to receive profits from our shop! 

Don't forget to follow on social media today and tomorrow for our big launch and giveaways! 

 

 

 

Dear you, Teary-eyed in all your glory.

Dear you, 

Teary-eyed in all your glory. You're having a moment, and thats ok. 

You've been called a cry baby, drama queen, too emotional, and the all time favorite (not) TOO SENSITIVE. yuck.

You roll your eyes when you hear the quote "don't let the world dull your sparkle" (because you picture a meme with honey boo boo in a glitter tutu eating chicken nuggets) but it's true. Don't let the world's opinions on the way GOD MADE YOU dictate if you use your superpower for good or act like it doesn't exist. Because did I forget to mention? Being able to FEEL emotions and express them in your own way is a super power... no matter what spectators say. You aren't weak for feeling the way you feel, in fact you are stronger because of it. Your not "TOO" much of anything. You are just enough. ENOUGH. 

Emotions are weird and tricky and messy. In fact, I would like to just send the word "emotional" on a trip to the Cayman Islands where it can just chill-lax a little. That word can have such a negative connotation to it. Your personal associations with it are uptight, overly sensitive, dramatic, or even a piece-of-work if you will.

I guess you are just one big PIECE OF WORK then. No really... you are totally a piece of work. A piece of God's amazing work. He chooses all kinds of "unqualified" people for big roles, and you are no exception. Emotional in God's book means beautiful, strong, brave, courageous and powerful.

Powerful.

Never thought you'd hear that? Well I never thought I'd say it. Last thing you have is the power to keep those emotions in check! Or so they think.  But what they don't know... (they being the ones who "sweep it under the rug", or the "crying is for sissies" type) is that your sensitivity allows you to tap into power. The same power that Jesus possessed. This power gives you an incredible sense of how to connect and help people, and the will to make what matters happen in your life and in the lives of others. 

It also gives you passion. If the world didn't have emotional people, there would be no passion and so many monumentous moments in this world would never have happened. Your emotional nature is the antidote to the growing epidemic where people believe you have to be HARD to make a name for your self or be successful. Emotions pave the way for big things. Big heavenly rewards. They allow you to give and receive hope and grace, forgive others, use your passion in miraculous ways, take leaps of faith, reach the people hurting, offer compassion and empathy, and live in a way that would make your heavenly father proud. That is the success you should have your heart set on. 

Joey - Why God Why - Turning 30

Being emotional, and owning it, is courageous. You should never hide it or be ashamed of it. Even owning the messy moments where you channel your inner Joey Tribbiani ("WHY GOD WHY")  and you feel like a first class passenger on the hot mess express (we both know you hold the all access pass), you are still the owner of a special, and sometimes intense, super power.  

So tonight when you tuck your baby to sleep, and you can't help but shed a few tears over each beautiful and fleeting moment, and you think to your self "dry it up buttercup!" know that your work is only beginning and that there's never been a more important time to show what you're made of. The beauty has only begun. Really soon that little human will be a rambunctious toddler, and then a moody adolescent, a challenging teenager, a hard-working graduate, and someday a soon to be husband. And when you find your self tear-filled from the over-joyed moments and the challenging moments, remember that your showing your superpower. Don't let it get the best of you. Use it to give your best. 

Love, 

Teary-eyed, you.

P.S. Invest in some waterproof mascara. 

Dear you, exhausted marvelous you.

Dear you,

Exhausted marvelous you. You haven't showered, finished a single cup of coffee, or even thought about what life looks like outside of the chaos that filled your morning. 

You smell like spit up and old coffee. Nap time feels like it snuck by and it's all you can do to wait patiently for the next golden hour you might get to finish that cold cup of coffee. No, you should definitely take a shower. No, food is important, eat something! No, you should try to answer your emails or pay some bills. Wait a second, have you even peed today? You should probably reply to your friends text...From 5 days ago. At least find the time to type "send help". Or, "send wine". 

Finally the baby is sleeping, so you know the drill - NO SUDDEN MOVEMENTS. Then the dog starts barking because she saw a leaf move outside. 😁 Lawd, I'm gonna kill that dog if she wakes the baby. 

Sanity starts to fill the brain tank back to normal levels and as its filling back up, its time for a pep talk... and maybe a scroll through Facebook. (After all you need to know if there is something crazy going on with Donald Trump so you can laugh about how he reminds you of your old boss who left his filter back in 2002 and then worry about him running our country.) #yikes

Anyways, Do you know how gorgeous you are with your messy bun (and I do mean messy because a tiny human has been tugging at it all day), sweat pants, and interesting aroma? Probably not. Your not seeing it. I get it. It's hard to see the beauty of a diamond when it's under pressure (or covered in bodily fluids). But it's there and regardless of how many days is been since you've showered, it's always there. Kinda like God. You may not have the time to sit down with a pretty journal and your bible, experience God, take a photo for Instagram because you need the world to know that you haven't lost your self, BUT God gets it. He knows your life may not fit into the schedule that it once did, but if your heart is open to receive his grace when your baby won't stop screaming, or your hair won't lay flat, or when you just. can't. keep. it. together.  Then you might be experiencing God more closely than those women who have a perfectly styled photo, with their pretty journal, delicious donut, fresh cup of coffee (oh my word- I'm so hungry) and stillness. They have nothing on your crazy beautiful, messy, under or maybe over-caffeinated life.  

So saddle up. Just open the prayer tunnel between you and heaven and tell God how your doing today. Because your worth that moment to him. You were chosen for this life because you can handle it. Your heart will be challenged by every emotion, every thought, every moment. But hold tight to the only constant that is our lord. And the fact that your gorgeous baby will tire eventually. 👍🏻 

Love, 

Exhausted Marvelous You

Chosen to do business differently.

If you are anything like me, your dream came into your life at a crazy time and turned your plans upside down in the best way. We are all moving towards a goal and mine was quitting my day job to do what I loved, run this business full time, and help support my family by it. Can you relate?

Step by step, God lead me to quit my job to pursue the MORE I was being called to pursue. So there I am trying to keep my head above water with a part-time job working for a family business and HBDC, burning the candle at both ends, and trying to MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN. It wasn't until recently that I realized how out-of-sync I was with Gods plan. I really thought we were parallel because it was working.

Not thriving, just working.

You see, my heart was on board, but my mind wasn't, and it's because of MONEY.  There is a lot of truth to the phrase "Mo money mo problems" (said in my best rapper voice). Once I got paid a little from my business, and got a little taste of "success" it became the driving force of everything I did. Don't get me wrong, being smart with business expenses and doing your homework on profit margins is something that is totally necessary when your are in the entrepreneurial game. But where I got off track was when God was calling me to serve, build this business for Him, and use it to spread the gospel, when Instead I was focused on profits not people. 

It wasn't until the beginning of this year (after my annual evaluation of where I wanted to take HBDC) that God let me in on a little secret. "I did not choose you for this to make money for yourself." My mind immediately was like, "WHAT? Did I understand that correctly? What's the point of owning and growing a business if it's not meant to help support my family financially?" But through my confusion filled prayers came so much clarity. I had been praying so hard for myself to find truly what makes me different. It's easy to feel like a small fish in a big pond where similar stories/missions keep multiplying. So, I felt lost in that. Why is my journey any different or even important when there are so many people doing it too?

The clarifying moment was God telling me to not pay my self from my business for 2016 and instead use that money to build his kingdom and do good in the world. I have been fortunate to have another job that is flexible (and that I also really enjoy) so I have no actual need to be full-time with HBDC and pay myself.  It makes so much sense really. I have always felt inadequate in the presence of some fellow friend business owners. They work their tushies off and are rewarded in so many ways, different ways than I was. And I felt like I just didn't have the same goals or drive that they had to do what they were doing. And it is because I am on a completely different path. 

Last year I stressed a lot about MONEY. Am I making enough to my own standards of success? Is my business growing? Why was this month slower? But when I felt God challenging my heart to ask my self very different questions, it occurred to me... What would I be able to do if what ever was holding me back wasn't holding me back? What could I accomplish if I chose not worry (or feel pressured) about paying off student loan debt with the money I made from selling journals, or if I used that money instead to give back? Imagine the amount of new ideas I could put into action if I wasn't so preoccupied with so many worldly limits and desires. 

The answers? SO MUCH MORE.

I still felt unsure about it at first until I met with a friend for coffee and among other reassuring things she said to me, "Imagine how God will reward you and your business if you fully give it to Him? I mean like really, really give it to him. When you get to the gates of heaven, you won't be hearing God say, "Well done making money from those journals!" Instead if you follow his will he will say "I am so proud of you." 

You guys. I don't know about you, but that makes me tear up.  More than anything I want God to be proud of me. For sticking my neck out there, for taking risks and having faith, for giving to others in his name, and for  doing things against the grain of social acceptance to honor him. It's a MAJOR challenge for me, but challenge accepted. 

I admire so many of you who are following your dreams, starting businesses, and on the road to full time with those endeavors. I have SO MUCH RESPECT for you and your hard work. But that's not apart of my journey that God has laid out for me right now. And its important to remember that we are all answering different questions in our lives. Even if the path looks similar from across the way. Since accepting God's challenge, I have been able to pour my heart into new projects that I can't wait to share. They wouldn't be happening without the commitment to follow his lead. I'm not choosing to run my business differently, instead I am choosing to be grateful that God chose me for that responsibility.

"Do not forget to do good and give well, for the Lord is pleased with such sacrifices." Hebrews 13:16

Coming back

Motherhood has been incredible. It is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me. It is everything everyone said it would be x 100 on the joy factor. But it did not start off that way for us. Starting this shop and owning this blog has given me an outlet to be real and honest and this post is going to do that mission justice. 

My son Crew was born at 33 weeks - 7 weeks early. The events that took place leading to his arrival are for whole other blog post, but for now I think there is a great testimony I feel called to address. Since we welcomed Crew into the world, for the first three months of his life, I was in a dark valley with my faith. I am sure we all have moments in our lives where our hearts get dark and tho was a big one for me. I was on the brink of abandoning my beliefs, expressing anger towards God and even doubting that he was listening to my cries. To previously have what I felt was a deep rooting in my faith and even build a business around sharing it with the world, I didn't see it coming- The anger, frustration, hurt and resentment toward God. It hit me out of no where and at times it feels like I've reached the other side, but there have been moments where I get a sense of familiarity (a sound, a smell, or a picture) from that time and I realize that I am still trying to heal. 

Although Crew was very healthy for his gestational age (33 weeks) his birth and the first month of his life was nothing short of traumatic for me and my husband. He was a good size when he was born (5 lbs 11 oz / 18in) and didn't have ANY major medical issues, which is a gift from God that does not go unnoticed, but my heart was struggling from the moment they said "we're taking this baby today." Because of my medical state pre-delivery, I was on all sorts of medicines causing his birth and the hours following to be very foggy. I remember being prepped for the c-section and feeling absolutely frightened. Would my baby be ok? Would I be ok? I could not let go of the fear that had such a tight grip on me. The word fear just didn't seem to do my feelings justice. The absolute worst thoughts crossed my mind. As they began with the surgery, it felt like no time before I heard him cry. It was the greatest sound in the world and I immediately burst into tears. They began to clean him up while my husband took some pictures and they rolled him past me to take him straight to the NICU. I was sad I couldn't see his face, and his amazing hair they kept raving about on the other end of the sheet, but in that single moment I felt like every thing was going to be ok. 

That night we got settled into our room and had our parents drop in to say congrats. At this point I was relieved and so grateful that we were all ok that I wasn't too upset that I hadn't held him or really even seen him yet. Not because I didn't want to, but because I knew that it would happen the next day and he technically was still supposed to be in my belly. God was watching over him and the NICU team of nurses and doctors were nothing short of amazing. I found a lot of peace in that. The next day (still on foggy meds) I finally got to see my little boy. I was so excited and incredibly nervous. All I had seen of him was photos that my husband took in his visits to see him. Would we feel like strangers? Would he know I was his mama? He has seen so many people before he saw my face. I didn't know how to feel, but I did know that I couldn't wait to meet him. 

My trip to see him was short and incredibly emotional. No one can prepare you for the amount of love, joy and concern you feel for that tiny human that you created. Seeing him hooked up to a CPAP (breathing machine) and being so small (even though he was big for 33 weeks), I had a hard time seeing him that way. And to make it worse I couldn't hold him. He had a special IV that had to be sterile and stay untouched. I remember feeling so much love for him but feeling so helpless.  I knew God was in control and since he was doing well I had hope that we might be about to put all of this behind us really soon and enjoy our new life. I thought "soon this will all be a memory and I can hold him as much as I want."

Days went by and we came to a point where I was being released. Leaving the hospital after having a baby, and not leaving with your baby is incredibly strange and heartbreaking. I knew that healing in my own home and getting some rest would be good for my body, but I also knew I would have to walk through the door and some what resume life without him close. I tried to keep it together. I tried really hard. 

More days pass and before I know it, it's been two weeks of the back and forth to the hospital. We had a lot of "2 steps forward 1 step back" moments, but things were starting to look up.  He was then breathing on his own great, had been gaining weight, holding his temp and taking a bottle like a champ with no feeding tubes (even pulling them out lol). I had mixed emotions about his progress. On one hand, I thought "YES... we can go home soon!!!"But on the other, I no longer felt like the NiCU team could do more for him then I could. I finally felt like he was well enough for me to be his caretaker. I was so ready for that. We were so excited about all of his accomplishments that we felt like the moment of bringing him home was going to be soon. Really soon. But it was much further than we thought.

He had one more obstacle to overcome which was bradycardia, where his heart rate drops. Very typical with premature babies and his spells were all self resolved and never got dangerously low, but it was enough to keep us there. He had to make it 72 hours with no spells and then we could bring him home. He made it close to the 70 hour range twice, and then had a spell. To explain how I felt in those moments the only word I can think of is broken.

At this point, I knew that he was going to be ok- praise Jesus- but having to leave him everyday, and only getting to see him once or twice a day was brutal. The way that I saw it was that I carried this baby in my body for several months. I talk to him, I could feel him, I knew him and he knew me. But I wasn't allowed to be his mom yet. I couldn't care for him around the clock or even have the moments of "ok what do I do know" or discovering how to clean up massive poopy diapers.... I didn't have that. All I had was 2-4 hour visits where I was hovered over by a nurse. I couldn't fully experience all of those moments you get to experience as a new mom because of him being in the NICU. And I was angry about it. As if my own health journey wasn't challenging enough, I had to deal with all of it while being separated from my child. Every hormone and every emotion. I felt it.

I blamed God, oh did I blame him. I wept every time we left that hospital. And it wasn't just because I missed him, but also because our situation was so far removed from what I had imagined our story would be like that I felt a devastation. By no means was I ungrateful for the blessing of a mostly healthy child, but I just could not get past the pain of not getting to mother my child for a full month after his birth. You may think, "well your still his mother..." And that's true, but just hearing it wasn't enough for me. I needed to hold him as long as I wanted, and kiss him as much as I wanted and I needed to learn his needs and cries and likes and dislikes.  I needed to get to know him because he was a part of my being for so long, and then so abruptly taken from me. I felt like a huge part of my heart was missing throughout that time, and I could not see past the pain to see the true value of our story. 

Not until recently, I began to think, "I bet that's how God feels about me. When my faith isn't as strong (or non existant) and I leave his side, all he can do is love me until I come back home." Perspective changes everything.

Crew stayed in the NICU for a full month. Instead of waiting out the bradycardia, we chose to come home on a heart monitor. We knew he would most likely grow out of the bradycardia, and his doctors felt very confident that he would be just fine. He came home on his one month birthday and I will forever celebrate that day as if it were the one of his birth. It was the first day that the three of us could be a family, finally. Riding down the elevator and walking out of the doors of the hospital, I felt like I could breathe for the first time in a while. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I will never forget the incredible feeling of joy that each step brought. I cried the whole way home, just staring at my beautiful boy and I couldn't help but feel a sense of guilt. Guilt because there were still so many parents there that needed (and I do mean NEED) that very moment we were experiencing like you need breath, and guilt that I had been so angry with the very God that gave me this perfect boy, a gracious husband, and this joyous moment that I had been waiting for, for my whole life it seemed. 

There were so many nights in that same car that I had cried many tears saying, "why us", "I can't take much can more of this", "I'm so angry at God for keeping us from our baby", "I need him to come home, why isn't God giving me what I need"

Now, Looking at the state of my heart back then, I feel embarrassed. I was so blindsided that my vision wasn't my reality that I couldn't even see past my own feelings to trust God. I feel like I was acting childish and selfish. To be a woman of faith who not only owns a business around the very concept of prayer and living a faithful life, I was completely off the path of everything I had worked so hard to achieve in my walk with God and in my heart. I am still healing from this experience, but there was a turning point for me recently.

The biggest struggle I had was jumping back into a business that revolved around my faith. I was still so angry and confused and my heart was NOT in a good place. My husband encouraged me to keep moving forward with it even when I couldn't even picture anything past my tearful breakdowns. I had triggers that would put me back in that angry state. He prayed with me and for me when I refused to let God in. He was Jesus to me during that time, and the strength that he showed for the both of us when I just couldn't keep it together still amazes me. I got to a point where I felt like I was healing, and then something else triggered me reminding me how I was not properly letting God in my life to put me back together. I prayed for God to "renew my heart and renew my spirit for myself, for my husband, and for my son." As I did that, I started to feel peace. I found a book called Anchored around that time. It's a wonderful read that I would highly recommend and it helps explain the feelings one goes through when your child is in the hospital. It helped me understand my self and all that I was feeling, and it also put things into perspective for me. Perspective is everything is situations like this.

I share it all with you because of this: I am a woman who is sometimes selfish, who doubts herself and our Lord (more times that I'd like to admit), who feels very raw emotions and displays them in childish ways sometimes BUT who is still loved and pursued by our amazing savior DESPITE ALL OF THOSE THINGS. Can you believe that? What a gift. I am still learning and growing in my faith as I go here. I didn't create this business and these products to be upity about my faith, like "look at me, I've got it all together! Buy my products and you can have it altogether too!" That couldn't be farther than the truth. I do this and share my journey with you because I have a first class ticket on the hot-mess express, and God still loves me. If you're there too and you need to be told that you are loved no matter what trial you go through or how angry/frustrated/hurt you are? Then I hope you find that here. God is and always will be there working in the background in our best interest. Even if you can't accept your story/circumstances just yet. Im still learning that everyday.

Crew is home, healthy and happy as a clam. We are LOVING life as a family of four (because the Dog was our first child- obviously) and completely in love with this gift of life we were blessed with.  He is 5 months old now (today actually!!) and on the brink of 17 lbs (chunker!). I am starting to uncover why we went through this trial, and more importantly I'm beginning to embrace and own our story. But it's still taking time, and the pain still feels very fresh at times. At follow up appointments the smell of the hand sanitizer and the familiar treks across the parking garage are just a couple things that bring back such strong painful memories. We saw one of Crew's NICU doctors the other day (all the doctors and nurses were amazing and felt like family before we left) and she immediately remembered Crew and asked how he was doing. I was thrilled to show off our healthy chunker of a boy, but also had a pit in my stomach the whole time talking to her. I don't know if that will ever go away, but maybe it shouldn't. I am happy to feel because feeling let's you heal. And I am grateful to be on a journey of healing. 

Photo by Lindsey Lowe Photography

Photo by Lindsey Lowe Photography

Photo by Lindsey Lowe Photography

Photo by Lindsey Lowe Photography

I want to take a moment to thank everyone who called, messaged, text, prayed, brought meals, took care of our dog, took care of the shop/offered to take care of orders, shared experiences and encouragement, gave us gifts, etc... You all are amazing and your gift of love and kindness does not go unnoticed. To us you are angels in human form and we are forever grateful. We hope to pay it forward in all of those wonderful ways we were blessed. 

I realize that my husband and I are very blessed with a healthy baby who is now home, and that some people aren't as fortunate. Our hearts and so many prayers go out to those who are still making the back a forth trips to the NICU, who have a sick child or have experienced a great loss. I know our situation may not seem like the worst (and it's wasn't) but this is my testimony and my very honest view of our story, how messy life can get, and how God is always there to pick up the pieces of our hearts. 

"For that woman in your life" gift guide

Gift giving season can either be a special opportunity to bless someone or tend to be a bit excessive. My rule of thumb is if it can enrich their life, it's within budget, and it's made and gifted from the heart, then it's a good choice. I love how many gift guides fill my new feed these days. It's like they have done all the hard work for you - a variety of gifts and a variety of prices. The only downfall is that they tend to be on the general side. If you are looking for a general gift, then its perfect for you! But if you are looking for a gift that's more personal and thoughtful, then it might feel like an empty purchase - and then you worry if they will like it. BUYERS REMORSE.. THE WORST. 

So in an effort to remedy that dilemma, I've pulled together some HDBC Shop gift ideas for the woman in your life that deserves a thoughtful gift. It's broken down by her unique characteristics that you love about her. So her perfect gift will be easy to find!

I truly think each product in this shop would be a perfectly thoughtful gift, so check out the suggestion, but also take a look around at some others. You know your lady loves better than anyone else. You know what will make her heart skip a beat!


For the kindhearted, thoughtful woman who goes out of their way to do something nice for others. 

Gift idea:


For the fun loving, adventurous, woman who chases her dreams fearlessly.

Gift idea:


For the creative, optimist who is always making beauty from ashes and masterpieces from the mundane.

Gift idea:


For the faithful, prayerful woman who commits herself to the lord through serving and leading others.

Gift idea:

Humbled Hearts Daybook - Blue Dot
8.00 15.00
Quantity:
Add to Cart

For the woman who works tirelessly for the greater good, and is always equipped with a contagious smile.

Gift idea:


For the grieving woman who feels a great loss, but is the epitome of strength and hope - even if she can't see it in herself.

Gift idea:


For the mom who is knee-deep in dirty diapers and messy kisses, and who exudes perseverance, joy and God's love.

Gift idea:


For the friend who may not know Jesus like you do, but who unknowingly seeks his grace through you.

Gift idea:


For the woman who worries, but is learning to let go and let God lead. 

Gift Idea:

Humbled Hearts Daybook - Stripe
8.00 15.00
Quantity:
Add To Cart

You know I can't let you leave with out a few more ideas... :)

Here are some other shops who make some really thoughtful gifts.

Miss Thistle Shop

Intentionally Designed

By Erin Creative Co.

Emily Ley

Lara Casey Shop

Photo Barn

Happy Shopping!