When I started this blog 3 years ago, I wasn’t sure if anyone would read my words….but I wrote anyways. The more that I wrote, the more people shared their own personal stories with me.
Surprisingly, the hardest blogs to write have also been the blogs that people have related to the most.
We often convince ourselves that no one will else will understand what we’re going through, so we struggle in silence. Blogging has helped me realize how much we crave honest connection. Let someone know if you relate to their story. Hope is ignited when we realize we’re not alone.
Or, if you’re feeling really brave, give someone the gift of going second. Share your story first. It will usually give someone else the courage to share too.
Is your life exactly how you imagined it would be?
For me, my life looks very different than how I envisioned it. My dream of becoming a teacher came true, but nothing else has gone according to my plan. Growing up, I thought I would get a job teaching in Northeast Ohio, live close to my family, and be married with a few kids by my late 20’s.
What does my life actually look like? I teach on the opposite side of the state and all of my family lives hundreds of miles away. At the age of 36, I’ve never been married, and I don’t have any kids. In fact, I’ve experienced years of singleness. I’ve heard some people say that singleness is a gift, but many times, it honestly has felt more like a struggle. (Check out my blog series called The Single Life.)
In Annie F. Downs' latest book, Remember God, Annie says, “I struggle so much when my expectations of God don’t meet the reality of my current experience with life.”
Annie then goes on to explore the question, “Is God kind even when my circumstances don’t seem to reflect that?”
One of my favorite things to do is to read, and when I find a book that I love, I want to tell others about it. So, below are some of my favorite non-fiction books that I’ve read this past year. What’s a book that you’d recommend?
Some people are morning people. They love the quietness of the early morning hours and have already exercised and had breakfast before the sunrises. I, however, love my snooze button, exercise in the evenings, and enjoy a great sunset.
While I’ve never been a morning person, one thing I do look forward to each morning is having a cup of coffee. I started drinking coffee when I became a teacher, as I quickly realized that caffeine was a necessity in order to keep up with a room full of energized elementary kids.
During the school year, my mornings are rushed, and my coffee is often cold before I have a chance to finish it (as I’m often busy helping my students). During the summer, though, life slows down, and I find great comfort in being able to sit and enjoy a cup of hot coffee.
As a single adult without any kids, my house can be very quiet. I know some of you would crave to have a quiet house for even a few hours. For me, silence has always been hard, and so I often have the TV or music on in the background. Recently, though, I have been more intentional about embracing the silence.
I have found myself turning off my TV or music and using that time to read, pray, or write. As I drink my coffee each morning, I have been reading Coffee For Your Heart: 40 Mornings of Life-Changing Encouragement by Holley Gerth. (*This devotional was previously published as God’s Heart for You.)
Although I love to encourage people, encouragers also need encouragement. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s hard for me to look in the mirror. I don’t always like what I see. While it’s easy to focus on outward appearances and to compare ourselves to one another, God has used the Coffee For Your Heart devotional to remind me what He sees.
I may look in the mirror and see someone who is not tall enough or thin enough or who feels alone and forgotten. God sees someone who is wonderfully made, beautiful, and is known and chosen.
I may look in the mirror and see my struggles and past mistakes. God sees someone who is forgiven, redeemed, and loved.
When I look in the mirror, I want to see what God sees. Some days I do, and other days I need reminders. Those are the days that I’m especially thankful for this devotional. In each chapter (which only takes about 5-15 minutes to complete), Holley Gerth shares a personal story, a scripture passage, a truth about who we are in Christ, 3 reflection questions, a prayer, and some encouraging words.
Through these daily devotional times and being more intentional about turning off the “noise” around me, I’m slowly becoming more comfortable with the silence. Maybe it’s because the silence allows me to hear the One voice that matters the most.
His voice is always comforting….just like a hot cup of coffee.
*** This blog originally appeared on the Motherless Daughters Ministry website.
There are certain moments in time that change our lives forever. For me, one of those moments was when I learned my mom had passed away.
It was eight years ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. I remember waking up at 12:40 a.m. to my phone ringing and talking to one of my sisters. I listened as she told me about our mom’s final moments. I remember hanging up the phone and laying in bed for hours…going between moments of shock (did I just imagine that phone call?), moments of anger (why didn’t God allow me to be there?), and moments of feeling completely devastated.
My mom had battled breast cancer for 9 years, and while deep down I knew her time on earth was coming to an end, in that moment I learned that the thought of losing someone is very different than actually losing someone.
At the age of 26, I became a motherless daughter.
Motherless daughters share a special bond. Recently, I was reading the book, Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships, by Lisa-Jo Baker, and within the first few pages she shared that she became a motherless daughter at the age of 18.
While her book focuses on how to create and keep lasting friendships, Lisa-Jo Baker also shares how her friends supported her after her mother’s death. I saw myself in part of her story.
Lisa-Jo’s first phone call after her mom passed away was to a friend. My first phone call was also to a friend.
A few weeks before my mom passed away, one of my closest friends told me to call her whenever I got “the call.” She didn’t want me to drive myself back home alone. She said she would drive. She wanted to go with me.
My friend followed through on her offer. After I called her, she dropped everything for me. She left work, packed her bags, and before I knew it, she was at my apartment, with food in hand, and her adorable dog. We had a quick lunch, and then she drove me to my hometown, which was 4.5 hours away, so that I could be with my family.
It was the longest car ride of my life, and even though my heart was broken, I felt incredibly loved by my friend (and her adorable dog who sat on my lap the whole time).
In Never Unfriended, Lisa-Jo Baker says, “Maybe the most intimate, radical thing we can do for our friends is to show up.”
Losing my mom helped me understand the truth in this statement.
I felt loved when my friend showed up to drive me home. I felt loved when my former teaching mentor (who I hadn’t seen in years), showed up at my mom’s visitation. She drove an hour just to give me a hug. I felt loved when 7 of my friends/co-workers showed up at my mom’s funeral. Most of them had never met my mom, yet they drove 4.5 hours to comfort me.
In the midst of my grief, God revealed His love for me through my friends.
I learned that friends make sacrifices.
Friends put others’ needs in front of their own.
Friends are willing to share your grief so you don’t have to walk through the darkness alone.
The hardest phone call of my life allowed me to experience the beautiful gift of friendship.
I’m so thankful my friends showed up for me. Who will you show up for today?
I'm an ordinary introvert who loves an extraordinary God.