Thursday, June 23

Joy for Mourning

I just finished reading the book Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs. It was an incredible read that I would highly recommend to any young woman.  There were many moments throughout the book that spoke to me.  You know those moments that are so meaningful you tap and hold your finger down to start the process of highlighting it?  Ah, the generation of Kindle users...  Yeah, those kind of moments.
Today I finished and it wasn't until after reading her Epilogue that I started to cry.   For reasons unbeknownst to me, I have recently been uber struggling with emotions in regards to missing my dad.  It could be that Father's Day recently passed, or just that I am immersed in time spent with my own children right now and it makes me think of moments I shared with him. Whatever the reason, the emotions have bubbled up from the depths of my "safe place" where I had given them to the Lord years ago.  

In her book she writes about looking for all of the lovely things that live in the ordinary all around us.  This is something I think we all try to do when we are feeling optimistic and happy... It's not until we are in the valley that we stray from this way of thinking.  This life was not meant to be all sunshine and rainbows.  The bible says in 1 Peter 2:21 "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."  There are many times in the bible that tell us, we WILL suffer.  Looking back on my life, there have been more moments than I care to dig up where suffering was at it's worst.
The suicide of my dad was a defining moment in my life.  If you've read this blog for very long you've watched me journey through it all.  I'm not that private of a person and sharing my thoughts and emotions through writing has been a form of therapy for me.  Looking back on the darkness that clouded my life in the months after his death I am amazed that I made it to where I am writing this today.  I am by no means a finished product, just like Annie Downs I am unfinished, but I am loved.  I may not have my daddy here in the flesh to tell me he loves me or that he is proud of me.  I know he would be.  But I have the ONE Father that truly matters.  My Heavenly Father who CHOSE me.   
I write this today to encourage you.  We all walk through dark valleys.  We live in a world corrupted with sin and darkness, how could we not find suffering?  There is a bright beacon of light that shines for those who seek it, however.  The light that promises us hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future." Christ died so that we COULD have that hope.  We could have the promise of life everlasting where there will be no more suffering and no more tears.  Oh how I long to be surrounded by the faces of angels as that promise becomes a reality.  
Annie talks about singing a song to God through each season of our lives and boy do I know the power that comes from music.  She references the song We Dance by Bethel Music in her epilogue so of course I looked it up.  It's one I had heard before, but the bridge caught my attention, and this is where the tears started to flow; 
And I will lock eyes with the One who's ransomed me, the One who gave me joy for mourning. 
And I will lock eyes with the One who's chosen me, the One who set my feet to dancing.
Yeah... Looking back I can see how God sustained me, lifted me into a season of joy with the birth of our two precious babes (both born on the 14th, the date my dad took his own life), and how He continues to hold and sustain me as I walk through this season of change I am currently in.  He gave me joy for mourning.  
So while I have peace and this beautiful promise of hope, it is still okay to be sad.  I realize this.  Random fits of silent crying and breath that hitches in your throat as you hold back a sob during a Father's Day video at church are totally understandable.  He was my daddy and I miss him.  And for right now, I will relish this emotion that has surfaced, cry the tears I need to cry, and continue to run to my Father in Heaven who sustains me through each of life's valleys.  I pray this for you, too dear friend.

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Summer Lovin'

Ahh Summer.  The time of year every teacher relishes.  I am no different.  Flash back to the end of this last school year and I was a complete zombie;  no energy, no desire to do anything but plop myself on the couch with a big-o-glass of wine. I was running on fumes and had nothing left in reserves.

My last week of school was pure insanity.  Not only was I having to completely pack up my classroom to prepare for leaving my school of 5 years for a brand new school in the Fall, but that Monday we got the phone call that Josh's grandmother had passed away.  I had previously scheduled a trip to Colorado for that Friday to visit my childhood best friend who just had a baby and the funeral ended up being on that very day.  God always has plans we know nothing about, and they don't always go hand in hand with our plans.  So that Thursday, after a rushed morning packing my classroom into the bed of the truck, I said my goodbyes to my classroom and coworkers, plopped our family in the truck and headed to East Texas. 
First day in my Kinder classroom vs. last day in my classroom... Lots of changes!
We made it just in time for the viewing and enjoyed the evening with family we hadn't seen in years.  The next day was a tough one.  Saying goodbyes to family members is never easy.  Singing at their funeral is just plain impossible.  It is an honor to be asked, and I will always say yes, but I can never make it through the song without shedding a tear.  This was the fourth funeral I have sung at and it just doesn't get easier.  
When you're 4 and bored... you plank.  (at the viewing)

That evening we packed the family back up and headed home so I could get a full night's sleep before flying out the next morning.  My weekend trip to Colorado was nothing short of incredible.  I saw God's hand everywhere I looked and in every single situation.  Conversations with complete strangers, my best friend, and new friends made were all centered around Christ... I came home feeling refreshed, renewed and encouraged.  I love the friendships God holds onto - you know, the ones where you don't see each other for years and then instantly pick right back up where you left off.  That's the kind of relationship I have with Ashley.  Meeting her daughter, Olivia, was pure bliss.  A little bundle of perfection, just like her momma.  I am thanking God for  our friendship and for His hand being ALL over that weekend away.  
Mani Pedi with Ashley!
Red Rocks with my girls!
I ended my trip with an incredible visit with one of my other "Dads" whom I've known all my life. How I will cherish this time we spent together!
Since returning from Colorado I've been THOROUGHLY enjoying being a mommy and indulging in some pure laziness.  I've earned it! We've spent time swimming, crafting, lounging and exploring the city around us.  Just being with my sweet babies everyday has been a blessing in itself.  The afternoon cat naps are definitely a perk, though.  

We don't have HUGE plans for this Summer as we are preparing to sell our home and begin building a new one!  More on that later, though...  Here are some of my favorite pictures from the past two weeks.  I cannot wait to see what the next few have in store as we hunker down and really get into Summer mode!  

Lunches at Daddy's office

Play dates in the park

Callie's first pet, Swimma.

Ice cream dates (Melt Ice Cream)

Swim parties with friends

Lazy jammie days with the kids

Father's day!

Movies with the family - Kellan's first movie - Finding Dori

Lunch dates with Daddy
Stay tuned for more summer fun and a new update to my Birthday Chalkboard DIY!
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Saturday, April 30

Kellan's Choo-Choo Two Party

Last month our precious baby boy turned TWO!!
Sweet Kellan,  
When I think about the past two years with you the only word that comes to mind is blessed.  God has something wonderful in store for your future;  He must, because prayer after prayer has been answered in our lives with you!  
You are a mamma's boy through and through; always wanting me to hold you, cuddle you, or at the very least, hold your hand as you walk beside me.  You are loving, and so very sweet.  
You are Callie's shadow and absolutely adore her.  If she's not in the room with you, you'll shout, "Cal-CAL!!!"  And she will come running.  
You're absolutely petrified of loud sounds (airplanes, thunder, or any other random loud noise), and we believe it's from hypersensitivity after your hearing was restored (you can read more about that amazing miracle HERE). 
You LOVE meat, but your most favorite is ground turkey and ground beef.  You don't want to eat anything unless Mommy and Daddy are eating it too, and are notorious for stealing our food from under our noses.  
You adore any kind of music.  You're always dancing and singing along to whatever music is playing, even if you have to make up your own words, "Moooommmmy, Da-Da, Cal-Cal!!!!"  Your favorite songs are "Star" (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) and "Sunshine" (You are my Sunshine), and you sing along with us every night at bed time.  You're our champion sleeper, too.  Thank you, Lord for that!!

Your favorite toys are anything Callie is playing with (seriously) and cars, trains and dinosaurs!  Because of your love of trains, we decided to surprise you and have a train birthday party! You rode the train for the entire hour, only getting off to entice your friends and family to come ride with you saying, "COME-OOOON!!" We love you so much, Kellan, and continue to pray for the man that you'll grow to be.  May you always be a gentleman, loving, patient and kind... Just like your daddy! 

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Sunday, April 3

The Waves of Change

Busy is blessed.  It's something I continue to tell myself as I walk through this new chapter in my life.  Josh and I will plop ourselves down on the couch after an epic bed time battle with Callie, and with utter defeat in our voices say, "What on earth did we do before we had kids?"  Truth of the matter is, we had a lot more time on our hands and I honestly cannot for the life of me remember what we did to fill it all up.  What I do know is that we cherish these days, even the ones that are battles.

Obviously things have been busy around the Morgan household. It's been months since I've sat down to write.  A dear friend of mine, who recently made a reappearance in my life, said to me the other day, "Is there anything you can't do?"  He was referring to the many talents that God has gifted to me. I do not begin to claim them as my own, because I know that they are strictly for the betterment of His kingdom.  I pray that I can continue to use them as such.   Of course, the reality of the situation is that there are thousands of things I cannot do.  Mostly because of time.  

If you know me at all you know where a lot of my time goes. If the activity has any creativity involved in it - I'm there.  Painting, drawing, sewing, crochet, singing, and a new found love of hand lettering just to name a few.  Between being a wife, a mom, a teacher, a worship leader, a crafter, a distributor for It Works, a friend and a daughter, there is not much time left for anything else.  I am beginning to feel like my life is a Ritz cracker with the peanut butter so thinly spread on top that you can't taste it.  That being said, I have to remind myself frequently to be present in the moment.  It is easy to get caught up on what is next or an ever growing to do list.  So easy in fact, that the little moments get overlooked and my fear is that before I know it, I'll be packing Callie up for college.  The thought alone brings tears to my eyes. 

This year, I believe, is going to be the year of change.  Already there have been some drastic changes that have taken place in our lives and I know that there are many more to come.  Callie will be starting pre kindergarten in the fall, and we will be placing our home on the market soon with plans to build a home more suited to our larger family.  There are so many things coming up that are different from how they've been, and that is scary to me.  It's so easy to succumb to fear and let it hold you back because of the uncertainty that comes with the unknown.  Recently in my devotions, I have been seeking God's will for the direction of our lives.  In all things I want to follow Christ.  If he is leading me in a direction that scares me, I want to follow Him with abandon.  I sing about it, I journal about it, I pray about it.  The tricky part is, discerning God's voice amid all of the clamor of life.  Sometimes I think we get so caught up in seeking God's will for us that we miss his gentle whispers.  

My prayer right now is that the multitude of responsibilities, talents and hobbies will not distract me from being still and quiet and waiting on the Lord.  I feel as if I have hit a fork in the road and I genuinely do not know which way to walk.  Neither path is straight; they are both dark and winding...  So how do I figure out which way is God's way?  Decisions, especially when they involve your spiritual walk, are so very important and not to be taken lightly.  I stumbled upon this quote and it really hit the nail on the head; "Sometimes in the waves of change, we find our true direction."   I pray that as we are in the midst of changes this year, we will seek God in every decision so that we can find our true direction in life. 

Music speaks directly to my soul.  It is how I am able to connect to feelings and emotions best.  This song has been playing on repeat in my head for a week now and I can't get the lyrics out of my brain.  Maybe there is a reason for that... Lord, I will go where you will lead me.
"You have called me higher, you have called me deeper, 
and I'll go where you will lead me, Lord."

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Sunday, January 3

Not "Just Another Wrap Girl"

I took a deep breath, prayed and then pressed enter... My very first It Works post was official.  As I introduced my decision to join a Network Marketing company to the Facebook world, a million thoughts were buzzing through my head.  Will I lose friends?  Will people block me?  Am I going to fail?  What if this doesn't work for me?  

I was afraid.  Fear is a very real thing in this business, and it was no different for me.  I know what most of you were thinking when you saw that post, "Ughh... Here's another sales girl to block up my news feed with a bunch of crud!"  Yeah - I know.  I know because I used to be her.  I was that girl who was afraid to post any status with a health goal, a status about being tired or run down, a status about wishing I could stay home with my babies, all because I knew exactly what would happen next; my inbox would be FLOODED with messages from friends trying to sell me something to fix the thing I was venting about.  

I know what you're thinking - so what changed?  Well, I kept feeling as if my cry to the Lord for guidance in my life was not being heard and definitely not being answered.  As much as I love teaching, it's been a struggle to be away from my children and my constant prayer was that God would open up a door for me to someday be able to stay at home with them.  My income is necessary for us to live the life we do so I'd need to find something that would make up for the monetary loss.  I prayed and prayed and nothing... Then one night, out of the blue, an old high school friend that I hadn't spoken to in 10 years sent me a message.  She said she was thinking about me and how I'd be a great addition to her team. That she was having a call that night and she'd love for me to be on it.  Instantly I had negative thoughts.  Needless to say, I didn't join that call.  The next morning I woke up and it was weighing heavy on my heart.  It was if God had pushed that message to the forefront of my mind and wouldn't let it fade.  Then it occurred to me, what if this was door God was trying to open?

I messaged her back that afternoon and apologized for not responding to her.  We began to talk about It Works and she told me her story.  I gave her every excuse; I'm not a sales person, I don't think network marketing is for me, I am afraid of the commitment....  She was gentle and kind with me, but she asked me one question; why is it that you're even a little interested in what It Works can offer?  Then it hit me, I want to be with my babies.  This could be the thing that helps me do that.  That night, I prayed diligently.  Josh and I discussed the option and to my surprise, he was supportive.  The next day, Mandy and I talked again and I made the decision to join.  

Fast forward a few months...  My mindset has shifted.  I am no longer in this industry to stay at home with my kids.  As much as that would be a tremendous blessing, I know that God has more in store for me than that.  Proverbs 16:3 continued to weigh on my heart, "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."  God spoke in my heart very clearly - this company and the products it offers can and will change lives.  I saw countless friends and teammates blessed and changed by what God was doing in them and it pushed me to shift my thinking.  

My goal for 2016 is to know, follow and share Christ.  It is easy to get caught up in the money.  But just like every other earthly thing, it is meaningless.  What does matter, are relationships.  God was bringing people back into my life for a reason.   I have been greatly blessed not by the money, but by the relationships that have resulted out of this business.  My team is made up of men and women of all different ages and faiths.  I have deeply enjoyed growing in my faith through community with them and love being challenged daily by such Godly women on my team.  In other words, God opened a door for me - just not the one I was searching for.  And I am so thankful for that!

For those of you who don't know what It Works is, we are a health and wellness company with four different categories; body, skin, lifestyle and greens.  It Works is most known for the Ultimate Body Applicator - also known as "that crazy wrap thing."  It tightens, tones and firms skin from the neck down in as little as 45 minutes and provides a wonderful, safe and natural alternative to extreme cosmetic procedures.  The thing I love most is that we are SO much more than a wrap company with over 35 incredible products that actually WORK.  We were even named in the top 15 of direct sales companies in North America!  

(Learn more about our products here...

I write all of this to say... I am not just another wrap girl.  Yes, I post about products and share things that work for me and for others on my team.  I post silly selfies and hashtag more than I should... But I do it with good intentions.  My heart's desire is to grow closer to Christ and to share Him with others and this company has given me the opportunity to do that in a big way.  If you're one of those people, just like I was (guilty as charged), my prayer is that your heart will be softened to what it is that I am really trying to share.  I wouldn't back products that I didn't believe in.  I wouldn't invite you to join my team if I truly didn't believe that this opportunity would bless you immensely.  Joining was a huge leap of faith, and I am so deeply happy that I jumped.   

If you have any questions about our products or anything else I probably rambled on about for far too long in this post, please send me an email.  I will respond!  Talk to me, ask questions!  It would be an absolute pleasure to talk to you. 
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