All Is It, All Is It // A Grateful Heart

If you had told me two years ago that I would know what it would be like to lose five close family members in a two year time frame, I probably would have said that you were crazy. To have that be my family’s reality is heartbreaking. In two years, my Dad’s family went from a family of five to what will soon be a family of two and my mom lost her mother and her baby sister.

The past few days have been spent in a sense of limbo as my Grandmother’s time of Earth draws to a close. It’s not easy to be anticipating a phone call at any moment from your Dad to let you know if your Grandmother is still here. One of the things that I learned from losing my maternal grandmother and aunt is that the only way to get through something like this is learn how to praise God through the storm. Two years ago, I didn’t know how to do that. I’m still learning how to do it, to be honest,

But on Friday evening, after my Dad called to ask if I had anything I wanted to say to my Grandmother while I still had the chance, I rejoiced in our God and praised him as I mourned the loss that would be coming soon. I am not particularly eloquent when it comes to these types of conversations (although I don’t know that anyone really is), the one thing I knew I needed to say to my Grandmother was “I love you, all as it, all as it.” It’s something that my Grandmother always said to all of us throughout the years. She said that my uncle used to say that to her, but I always remember the sweet words coming from her. As I was writing in my journal later, something that I had felt compelled to do after hanging up the phone, I had my Christian playlist on Spotify on in the background and I worshiped God and rejoiced in his hope and truth. We might not see her, or my four other family members, again on this side of Heaven, but I am so grateful for a God that gives us hope in an everlasting life.

On Saturday, I rediscovered a passage from 1 Peter that so perfectly puts into words everything that I have been feeling and rejoicing during this season; particularly since losing my maternal grandmother and aunt in September. I am so grateful for the complete and total truth in these words and what they mean for us.

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” // 1 Peter 1:6-9
How great is our God that we can rejoice in our sorrow! What are you grateful for this week?

Update: My beautiful grandmother passed away peacefully late on 1/20. We’re so thankful that she is no longer suffering and experiencing true paradise with our Lord!

This post is part of Ember Grey’s Grateful Heart linkup! Click here or on the image below to head over to the blog and read all of the posts in the linkup.

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

Work With All Your Heart // Colossians 3:23

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” Colossians 3:23

Okay friends. Candidly, when I first read this verse, I had some trouble with the idea of “working with all your heart.” I mean, isn’t it called work for a reason? By day, I am a special needs and at-risk Pre-K teacher so more often than not, I am somewhere on the corner of overloaded and totally burnt out. Even so, I often stop to ponder what it would actually look like if I really embodied the words in this verse in real life. 
I always feel a twinge of guilt when I speak these words to people but even though I am a teacher, this is not a field that I see myself being in long-term. I suppose the guilt comes from falling into the common side effect of teaching in North Carolina. Our state has a hard time finding new teachers, much less keeping them around, but I’m not going to get into all of that here. I just always feel like I have to quickly follow this admission with some sort of explanation or defense. The truth of the matter is that people change. I have a passion for young children; that much has not changed. But the capacity in which I feel I am going to be used to help children, has. 
When I lost my grandmother and aunt less than 48 hours apart this past September, it changed all of us in my family. Grief and loss can make you begin to reevaluate everything that you believe and know to be true. For me, losing these two important women made me really consider what is important in life in terms of my work. There are countless people out there that stay in careers that make them miserable and unfulfilled simply for the higher paychecks or a particular “perk of the job”. I don’t want to dread going into work each day, but I also don’t want to pursue something just for a particular “perk” or “benefit” and not have my whole heart be in it. 

For much of 2015, I was enrolled in an online master’s degree program and taking courses toward a graduate degree in Mass Communications with a specialization in Social Media. Having been a blogger for over five years, it’s definitely a field that interests me but somewhere along the way something that started as a passion began to fizzle into just that, an interest. As I said above, grief can change your outlook on many things and for me, this career path was one of them. I just truly could not see myself being fulfilled if I continued down that path. 
One of the things that we see over and over in the Bible is Jesus caring for the least and the lost. The more that I pondered those words, the more I began to realize that I was doing that already in my work with special needs and at-risk children. As I began to pray into the decision to withdraw from graduate school and look ahead to what might be on the horizon after teaching, I felt that I was being led to look back at a career path that I had not considered since college. My bachelor’s degree is in Child Development Birth-Kindergarten and we heard often about the various careers that we could pursue with our degree. The main one, of course, was teaching, but the other was Child Life. Certified Child Life Specialists provide emotional support for children and families in the hospital through therapeutic play (more details about Child Life can be found in this awesome video). I had found myself visiting hospitals over the past two years on a couple different occasions and each time, I would have the random thought of oh yeah, I could work in a hospital if I ever wanted a change.

Well, like I said above, when I began to pray into what would be next for me, Child Life came back to mind…and stayed there. I began to look into the process for getting certified and discovered that I already had many of the coursework requirements taken care, thanks to my undergraduate courses.

When I think about this Colossians verse and working as though I am working for the Lord, the image that comes to mind is me doing something that would be pleasing to God and doing it with all of my heart and soul. As much as I love my students and try I as I might, my whole heart is just not in teaching, at least long term. But with this verse as a reminder, I am able to power through the days and be reminded that every thing we do, even work, should be for glorifying God and his truth.

Spark Joy Every Day // A Grateful Heart

Okay, so I may have stolen the idea for this post title from Marie Kondo’s new book, Spark Joy. She is the author of the bestselling book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Spark Joy is the illustrated companion. I’m talking there are diagrams that teach you how to fold your clothes appropriately, people. Total organizational nerd heaven.

Anyway, when I was thinking about what I wanted to title today’s post, the phrase “spark joy” kept coming to mind. Tidying aside, what a beautiful visual that is! There’s something about the word joy that automatically makes me feel lighter. I even looked up the definition for joy, being the good teacher that I am.

Joy, noun: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation

One of the things that I love about my walk with Christ, especially lately, is that to seek God is to inherently spark joy. He has carried me through grief, pain, and feeling totally and completely overwhelmed by my own reality. I have seen His promises acted out through the trials of the past two years and as he has gotten me through to the other side, I cannot help but rejoice and feel immense joy.

“My lips shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed” // Psalm 71:23
What are you grateful for this week?

This post is part of Ember Grey’s weekly Grateful Heart linkup! To join the linkup or to read all of the Grateful Heart posts, head on over to the blog!

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

Currently // Vol. 1

Oh, January. Welcome back. The beginning of a new year is always an interesting time, what with all of the resolving and goal-setting going around. I’m no exception to that, but I do always enjoy seeing what others are resolving to do (or not do). Since we’re about a week into a new month and a new year, I thought I would check in with another “Currently” update. This year, I’m linking up with Anne from Anne in Residence and Jenna from Gold & Bloom for their monthly Currently linkup series.

Resolving // I’ve declared 2016 to be the year that I really work on being intentional with how I live each day. 2015 was a trying year, but I allowed myself to get so burnt out without realizing it until it was too late. My “word” for this year is abide and I really want to live each day in a way that is completely rooted in the Lord and abide in Him with all that I do.

Reading // I’m already one book ahead on my 2016 Reading goal! I’ve been using Goodreads to track my yearly goals for five years now. I devoured Marie Kondo’s Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I’m looking forward diving into the illustrated companion, Spark Joy, which came out yesterday. I’m currently reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes!

Organizing // After reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I’m totally in an organizational season right now. Truthfully, I need to get my whole life organized but the book has definitely inspired me. Some of the KonMari methods I was already kind of doing, but I definitely need to get started on this method soon.

Loving // The God & Glam community over at Paper & Glam. I think I’ve mentioned Lisamarie on this blog before, but I could not be more grateful for her! She is a planner junkie, like me, and creates and sells amazing products from her online shop. But more than that, she is a Christ follower and is so inspirational with how candid she is about how she roots her life completely in the Word of God. She is reading through the devotional Savor by Shauna Niequist this year and invited those of us in her God & Glam Facebook group to read along with her and share our stories along the way.

Craving // A soda. But I’m trying to hold strong! I haven’t completely cut them out of my life just yet, but I am gradually decreasing how many I drink each week. The ultimate goal is to stop drinking soda entirely, though.

What are you currently up to this January? Share in the comments!

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