Merry Christmas!

Trying to read through the Christmas story S L O W L Y this week so I can marinate in it a little bit. I’m on chapter 2. Ha! But it’s proving SO full of treasure!!!

Today I sat down for a quiet minute and picked back up where Mary visits Elizabeth. They’re both pregnant. They’re both seeing God’s hand at work in their lives. They’re both in awe. And they’re both probably trying to keep their pregnancies quiet. Mary was engaged and pregnant and that was just a recipe for a scandal back in Jesus’ day. And Elizabeth was well past her prime and I’m sure most of her friends were grandmothers already. Friends, can you even imagine the joy these two shared when Mary went to stay with Elizabeth??? I mean pregnant-with-the-Savior-of-the-world-Mary walks in and Elizabeth’s baby boy LEAPED in her womb and was filled with the Holy Spirit.

I know how much fun it is to be pregnant with a friend. My buddy Kelly and I were pregnant with our youngest baby girls at the same time – and it was like a crash course in getting to know each other and so much FUN and still is – an instant bond over the babies we carried and are now raising. Throw in that Mary and Elizabeth didn’t have social media, texting, doctor visits, FB support groups, tons of buddies, etc. They were a God send for each other!  The joy they shared visiting over their pregnancies must have been tangible!!! And the call of God on both of their son’s lives brings me to tears thinking about it.

As soon as Mary walks in she breaks out into a little narrative BRAGGING ON GOD. I read it three times and highly recommend it. It’s Luke 1:46-55. I read it out loud – home alone with babies sleeping 🙂 and I just wept!!!

At about verse 51 Mary starts into this detailed list.

“He has… He has… He has… He has… He has… He has…

just as He promised…”

FRIENDS. HE HAS. If there is a raw spot in your heart, could you sit and let that sink in?

I don’t know about you but I’m a lot like my 5 year old who currently has a “wish list” on our fridge. No longer her Christmas list as she knows that ship has SAILED. But a dang wish list now. We’ve spent every dime and then some that we budgeted for Christmas. She’s going to have more than she knows what to do with as it is. But still making another list……………………it’s all in this house, it’s all wrapped or hidden, it’s all waiting for her for Christmas morning, it’s all prepared for her, it’s all perfectly picked out just for her. But she’s still making that next wish list. She gets a pass because she’s a kid. I don’t have that excuse though.

How do we forget so often? HE HAS. He has done. He has come. He has loved. He has finished.

What more could we want?

Praying and hoping and reading for a more sober heart, prepared for His goodness and light, looking and waiting and watching and knowing that He does GOOD THINGS and HE HAS already done the very best thing by sending His son to be with us.

I have a lot of crutches – my health, my husband, financial security, my healthy kids here to name a few. But it was Jesus that said: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

It. Will. Not. Be. Taken. Away. From. Her. The one thing needed – we can’t buy it, we can’t adopt it, we can’t birth it, we can’t manufacture it, we can’t fake it, we can’t attain it, but we can receive it and abide in it and share it.

Merry Christmas friends! Hoping you get some time to be alone and quiet and choose what is best for you this Christmas and the year to come!

 

 

Confessions of a Millennial

Well. I did not realize until tonight that I am actually a Millennial. I make the cut off by like a month and can testify to many of the terrible characteristics – idealistic, lazy, entitled, impatient. I’ve actually poked fun at Millennials. And then tonight while I was going through my nightly routine, I listened to a video about Millennials and was like hmm this sounds a lot like me. Yikes. Anyway, half way through the video and after googling what the generation Y/Millennial cutoff is I thought: “No way, I have more substance than this.” So I exited my Facebook app, went to my worship music and felt this little whisper to play one of my tried and true favorites.

Be Still My Soul by Kari Jobe.

“Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side. Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain….”

Mmm. Hurts typing those words out. But as I pressed play my heart went back to my life over 3 years ago. I listened to that song nearly every night. Pregnant with a son that was not well. And a mama that was not well either. I had walked with God but still had so many questions. Am I the only one? To have been saved since I was 5 yet still wrestling with the big questions? Surely not. And now on top of all my original big questions, I now have to face questions like will he die while I’m still on the operating table? Will we live in the NICU for 8 months? Will we pursue surgery for him if he needs it? Will he die in surgery if we pursue it? Will I flat out lose my mind in grief? Will my marriage fall apart because we are going through all of this before we even celebrate our 4 year anniversary?

And in the midst of all of these questions – the big ones I had had forever and the new ones that scared me half to death – Jan Moncrief sent me this song. And it soothed me and challenged me. And I would listen to it and the questions would not go away BUT there was a peace and confidence that came as I began to really seek Him with my questions. There was a mustard seed of faith that started to take root as I asked. And although I did not get the black and white answers I wanted and I did not get any answers quickly – I did get a sense that it was all going to be okay. And that through FAITH in Him alone, we would see Him move mountains in us and through us.

All that to say, tonight, as I heard that song again and on the other side of the road from many of my original questions, I hear it and have the BIGGEST smile on my face. I understand the cross of grief and pain and I bore it patiently and I still do – to Him be the glory. And I know He’s on my side. I don’t wonder anymore if He’s safe. I don’t wonder anymore if He is actually going to come near and never leave me or forsake me. I don’t wonder if my faith is misplaced or misguided.

I feel like a huge piece of the puzzle of life here – is to keep asking questions. God wants us to learn and grow. How can you grow if you think you know it all? Be vulnerable and needy and hopeful and honest with your questions. Let cynicism die and let hope breathe. Just go ahead and get your hopes up in Him.

Y’all. To say He eventually answered my questions is an understatement. I’ll never be able to put into words what He did for my heart and our life here. But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying. Wherever you find yourself – take your stuff to Him. He is so worthy. And I know He may not (probably will not) give you clarity on your timeline, but trust me that His clarity is worth the wait. And until then play this song on repeat in a bubble bath with tear stained cheeks from ugly crying. Not speaking from personal experience of course 🙂 haha.

Felt like I needed to write this tonight.

Also shout out to my counselor who I got to see today – he’s coaching me and teaching me and I highly recommend finding a few safe places this side of Heaven where you can unpack things God is showing you. Every time I leave his office I grin the whole way home! It’s pretty awesome.

Update on the fam:

Fen loves Kindergarten. I love who she is growing up to be. She keeps me light hearted and laughing. Shopping for an almost 6 year old is FUN as evidenced by my Target cart today.  Emerson is walking everywhere and has about 3 or 4 words that are barely distinguishable. She’s cuddly and gave Walt a big sloppy kiss tonight! Walt is moving into an office next month. He’s been out of our bonus room for 3 years. So proud of him and all of his humble hard work. God provides through him and I love watching that relationship grow. I’m helping Walt and tending to the girls and our house and per my counselor today, working on turning my never ending homemaker duties into a spiritual discipline where I am serving the Lord and not griping about these people who mess up this cute house I keep trying to fluff!!!

I’m gonna go watch This Is Us now 🙂

LB

 

 

These Days…

I’m thinking it’s time for an update. An Emerson update. A Fenley update. A grief update. A Lauren update. I read through some old posts the other night and oh my goodness, it made me so teary eyed and nostalgic and happy. So I really want to keep this whole blog thing going for my own sake.

Emerson Ruth (a.k.a. Emmyru, Emmy, Emmyroof, Emer) — this baby is a dream boat. 26 pounds, 31+ inches and off the charts in every category at her 9 month check up. She is a LOAD to carry. Not that I workout with weights but if I did, I could skip the upper body altogether lugging her around. I love it though. She poops through her diaper to her carseat about 4 times a week. She sleeps through the night. Baby food is our only solid food right now, simply because her mother and father are terrified of said angel baby choking. Her favorite foods are carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and anything mixed with any kind of fruit. But especially bananas. I am still nursing her and it’s so sweet. However. I think I may have to have an “I’m Done Nursing!!!” party when she reaches a year… lactation cookies NOT allowed. Champagne will be the ticket to get in. We took her to DisneyWorld a month ago and had a blast. BUT we were ALMOST in the red zone for a chaotic trip — she has really come alive since Disney. She’s almost on the move and I cannot imagine taking a baby on the move to Disney. OMG. All that to say, Emerson is so many answered prayers wrapped in one adorable chunky roly poly body. We love her and feel complete with her as our caboose. I cry regularly over her life and all that it entails — we all do, come to think of it.

Fenley Grace (a.k.a. Fennybooboochild, Fen, FenFen, Fensterella) — this child is hilarious and amazingly smart and has a killer memory. She is full of life. Sister loves to talk, loves her baby sissy, loves her daddy and loves her mommy. Fenley had a blast in DisneyWorld. She complained minimally and was not scared of one single ride. Oh wait. She was scared of a ride that wasn’t actually a ride — It’s Tough to Be a Bug — she actually said after it was over: “Mama, why did you get a FastPass for that ride?” Haha. Girlfriend has a mind of her own and is already pretty set in her ways. Which I have to respect — because I’m the same way. We butt heads a good bit because little Miss FenFen wants to do things one way and I want to do them another way, and you can imagine the rest. She lets me win about 50% of the time. Kinda kidding. She is starting K5 in the fall at the public school near us — she is pumped and so are we. We will be getting a raise and the school is LITERALLY half a mile from our house. And the school so far has been AWESOME. And they have school buses. Not saying she will ride it frequently but Hallelujah it’s an option. She gets in bed with us every night between the hours of 11:45PM and 6:00AM — gently taps one of us and says “scoot over” — pretty sweet. We are crazy about our funny, strong willed, bright, beautiful Fenley girl and hope and pray we are not totally flubbing this whole parenting/instilling values thing.

William Lamar/Grief (a.k.a. Wills, sweet baby Wills) — oh grief. What are we gonna do with you? Rocking along having a “perfect” (yeah right) life and then BAM. We get a diagnosis that changes everything. He would be 2 now. A perfect for us baby boy that we had the privilege of parenting for 15 days. He changed everything. Every. Single. Thing. Do we still struggle and wrestle? Duh. But geez. Things are just different. Was explaining to some friends — Disney was fun BECAUSE of Wills. Why? Because when you have had a child in your home that rocked your world and other people’s worlds yet he was on oxygen support and a feeding tube and never left this house after he got here — that stuff goes deep down and doesn’t let go. And when you have a healthy baby afterwards (which I highly recommend — if it’s not in the cards for you, PRAY FOR IT ANYWAY – don’t you buy any lies that tell you it won’t happen for you — I’m  mad at the enemy just typing this out. Don’t you go believing that God doesn’t over deliver. And if His delivery looks different than what you had in your head, then check yourself in His word and GO WITH IT). Wait where was I? Haha. Oh yeah, and when you have a healthy baby afterwards and get to lug that chunky healthy baby all over the southeast, you get a deep down grin that NOTHING CAN STEAL. Treasure stored where it CANNOT rot or rust or decay. I. KNOW. THE. ONE. WHO. HAS. CALLED. ME. TO. THIS. LIFE. AND. I. CHOOSE. TO. TRUST. HIM. And THAT my friends is what has made all the difference. He has made Himself known to me over and over and over and over and over and over and over again and I will never stop talking about it. Psalm 9:1 “To be sung to the tune: The Death of the Son. I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all of the marvelous things You have done.” God has made the sweetest season of my life the one that required me to bury my son. I miss that season. I would do it all over again.

Lauren Masa (a.k.a. Mama Bear, Mama, Wifey) — I finally started seeing a counselor. Something I was overwhelmingly AGAINST for many many years. And then God 100% opened the door and then confirmed it. My counselor is teaching me how to guard my heart and take better care of myself – mainly my heart. Proverbs 4… guard your heart, for from it flows all life (basically the verse, ad-libbing here). I’m learning a ton and am thankful. He is encouraging and apparently I need a lot of encouragement. Which I am learning to be okay with. God made us to be encouraged by each other, not torn down or criticized. I’ve had more than my fair share on the giving and receiving end of criticism. But am noticing patterns and getting healthier I hope. I had a blast in Disney. It was an absolute homerun — in the parenting department, in the missing Wills department, in the relishing life department, in the marriage department. All of it. I really feel like God knew we needed some margin time away out of town and made it a really sweet trip for our family of four. And it didn’t hurt that we went with some of our best friends, the Davis’. They were around before our life got turned upside down, during (her chicken spaghetti sent me into labor with Wills) and have steadily been there after. I hope we are half the blessing they are to us. Dru has particularly been really patient with me in our friendship and encouraging and that makes my heart smile. I was having REALLY bad anxiety two summers ago at the beach (approaching Wills’ 1st birthday) and we were at dinner with them and she saw the worst of me and just loved on me through it. We all need more people like that. To sum up my days: changing diapers, carpool, feeding my family, baking, contemplating real estate license to help Walt, cleaning, planning imaginary family trips, looking at Wills’ pics and getting reality checks, reading, going to my counselor, binge watching Blacklist and New Girl, trying to diet, and trying not to be so hard on myself. I’m thankful for this season, it’s a sweet spot for sure.

Sometimes after I leave my counselor’s office, I am a bit too introspective. So I take it to the Word. Have been reading in Matthew… Jesus was so awesome. He loved. And He loved in truth. He wasn’t soft or cushy yet was so compassionate and warm. He healed people. He really changed people. He didn’t pretend we were all great. He knew we were sick and that’s why He came. Why do we try to say we aren’t sick? What’s so wrong with saying I’m screwed up by (fill in the blank) and Jesus saved me and is now sanctifying me. What a great life purpose. To just be saved and in the process of being sanctified and say to other people: “Hey! I know the answer to that doubt/fear/anxiety/shame you can’t quite shake!!!” I don’t think Jesus cares if you ever leave your zip code (sorry, David Platt). Sometimes He told people to GO HOME and share the Good News. The church is not some place where we get to pick and choose what happens or doesn’t happen, what’s okay or what’s not okay. We are simply faucets of whatever He’s doing — and you cannot possibly know what He is really up to without being in the Word. Jesus said ABIDE in me and I will ABIDE in you. What. A. Promise.

Thanks for indulging my little (long) update… please message me on here if there is any way I can pray with/for you or talk through anything at all – anyone that knows me knows that few topics, if any, are off the table.

Lauren

Below… just some random goodness in the form of photography!!!

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Mama loves a selfie

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Sweet days at home while big sister is out and about

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Selfies with these two cuties are the BEST

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Napping in Destin on the way to Disney… couldn’t NOT take a pic

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Love these two kiddos

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Dinner in France, of course!!!

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Not Paris, France but hey, I’ll take it!!!
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We love Mickey!

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Fenley’s pose just slays me!!!

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Fen and her fairy godmother

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The quintessential Disney pic

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I may or may not wash this mug daily so I can reuse it the next day 🙂

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Currently my favorite Wills pic that reminds me to GET A GRIP and chill out about life in general and just keep on keepin on 🙂