“Believing we can have it all, all the time is a myth and a lie and a joy-stealer. What I do believe is that we can have God’s best for us. A full life and a life to the full are two very different things. One is about grasping, the other is about receiving. One is about cramming in, the other is about room to breathe. One is about striving, the other is about trust. One is about control, the other letting go – sometimes for a moment and sometimes for always.”
When I read this, in Holley Gerth’s new book, Fierce Hearted, all I could think was, yes, yes, yes. She nailed it and was saying everything I was living. You see, God recently invited me into this beautiful place of, “Set it all down Kelly. Come. And follow me.”
Set down the social media stuff. Follow me.
Set down your plans. Follow me.
Set down your busy work. Follow me.
Set down your dreams. Be with me.
My answer was, “Yes, God!!!”
But you see, it’s easy to speak, but much more difficult to do. To leave behind the striving to be seen, to turn away from the control that comes with manhandling my schedule and to surrender my busyness that covers over the sense of lack I don’t want to see. . . well, it all sounds nice, but. . .
It leaves me feeling exposed. What if I am not doing what I should be? What if I miss out? What if I am left behind? What if I don’t get what I dream of? What if my time spent with God ends up (and I’d probably never vocalize this). . . wasted? What if I get disappointed?
Yet I am finding it is always in the letting go that God works his way in. It is always in the relinquishing that we get a broad-stroke view of what God is doing. It is always in carved-out space that we see God draw new stories right over the old versions of insecurity.
But we must give leeway to His ways. It’s the only way.
When we clear out everything so God can come, He does. With power, strength, dignity, honor and a pen that redraws all we ever wanted – and more. He also has an eraser. One that doesn’t feel like denial, remorse or pretending, but recovery.
“Our everything” is not found in “our doing,” but “His everything” is found in “our undoing” before Him.
Come, Jesus. Restructure us. Let us let go of what we clench so tightly so we can find ourselves held tight in the power of your love. Amen. (and thank you Holley!)
Buy Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely on Amazon or wherever books are found.
Relieve yourself of this. You don’t have to have it all marked out with lines pointing to things, with circles around events, checkmarks next to your part and supporting roles delineated.
It’s not your show. It’s not your story to write.
God is Creator. He is also Author God. Let him write a better story than you can. Give up your need to theorize, summarize and categorize people and all the details that go with them.
If Jesus wanted you to be ruler, he would have let you know this before he died, but he didn’t.
His grace is your grace when you give Jesus space to fill the blank lines. Then, you actually get a chance to see God work. But if you already have every line filled in and filled up, what room does this leave an active, always-writing, ever-working God?
Avoid your need to know. Eve wanted to know everything. Satan wanted to know he was higher than God.
Knowing is not our goal. Abiding is. Stick to abiding. Self-soaked ambition masked in some cover of godliness is still nastiness. Intellectual know-how covered with a know-it-all attitude still stinks.
Jesus talked to the Pharisees like this:
“You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Mt. 23:27-28
Choose instead to let Jesus wash you. White. Clean.
Let him be highest. The highest scheduler. The highest orchestrator. The highest lover. The highest mountain. The highest plan.
You don’t have to have it all figured out. You don’t have to know every detail. You don’t have to be in tune with the whens or the whys. You know the WHO. It’s Jesus. He has you. He has a plan.
Prayer: Jesus, it’s all about your heart. It’s all about your desires. It’s all about you coming to earth, so that we could come to heaven and be with you always. Don’t let us lose sight of what matters. What a waste it is to have eternity with you, but to miss daily life with you. We want every moment with you. Restore that to us. We repent of what is not ours to keep, manage and rule. We trust you with what you want to give us. We lean on you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
I love so many things about the month of December.
The memories, the gatherings, the excitement for what’s coming. Twinkle lights everywhere after dark. Remembering the story of Jesus’ birth with the angels and shepherds and a star leading souls toward a newborn King—the one who changed everything.
One of my favorite things is looking back to remember. Another favorite is looking forward. It’s the in-between that trips me up. Do you know what I mean?
I’m at that point in December—like every other year—where I feel buried by the schedule and all the many to-do’s. It’s like I have to keep running, running, running–to make this pick-up time and that deadline and those purchases and these events. None of it is too much, on its own. But add it all together, and I’m one frazzled Mom.
Today, however, I read a passage that transformed my frantic feelings, and I wondered if you need this too. Do you need to press pause on all the things, in the middle of December, in order to behold the glory of God?
I know a place where we can always go–not to hide from our lives but to find refuge instead.
I hope you’ll come with me. Let’s dig into the Word of God, and let Him do His beautiful thing in our hearts. Right now. Today.
I hope you’ll spend some time reading these scriptures, and read the passages around them as well. I like to copy the words by hand, sometimes on a colored card or along the edges of my day planner…yes, I still use paper planners. 😊 You may want to read them repeatedly, even memorize them. Any time you spend focusing on the Lord will be a gift to you.
5 Places to Pause When Life Feels Frantic
There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. 1 Samuel 2:2 (NIV)
Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? Exodus 15:11
For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? 2 Samuel 22:32
I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:1-2
I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. Isaiah 45:5-6
Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.
My husband noted, “God has lined everything up just right. It’s almost as if I thought nothing was happening, but God was doing everything.”
We continued to talk. He had no idea, at the time, he was meeting just the right people to help him in his time of need. He had no idea that chance encounters in a Starbucks, random introductions by friends, and shifting situations behind the scenes, would produce SO much. But, at the right time, when all things were laid out just so, everything changed.
While my husband had no idea what God was orchestrating, God was orchestrating it all. He was orchestrating what could not be seen.
God is always working. God’s timing is perfect. His plan is perfection.
Just yesterday, I had planned to go take a walk by the ocean. After I dropped the kids off at school I was going to make the drive. There was only one problem, I remembered I had to run back to the house to tackle something.
Ugh. Now, I can’t go. Frustrated, I headed home. I tackled what I needed to. Then, I met with God.
During that time, with God, some lightbulbs went off. I realized I so often don’t expect God’s great; I expect average or a blah-meeting. While God is a good dad, I expect him to give me a bit and then turn away to do other things.
I decided I wanted to see His goodness. I wanted to know His abundant heart.
After praying, I felt prompted to take that walk with Him at the beach. I am so glad I did. There, orange butterflies came flying in off the ocean. There, dolphins were jumping all around me. There, I established: God is brilliantly beautiful. God is giving. God orchestrates perfect timing.
What if I didn’t make that layover at my house? I probably would have missed the show of his wonder he had planned to set off at just that hour when I was at the beach. I probably would have gotten there hours earlier.
But, God knew. God always knows. He knows what He is lining up for you. He knows what he is doing behind the scenes. He knows the details he is currently working out. . . that will come to fruition at just the right time. You are not lost to Him. You are not outside of His working plan. There is a time for beauty and He is working on it.
“God has made everything beautiful for its own time. (Ecclesiastes. 3:11).”
When my mom was sick a couple of years ago a palliative care doctor was assigned to her case.
Palliative care is the multidisciplinary approach to specialized medical care for people with life-limiting illnesses, focussing on providing relief from pain and physical and mental stress of the terminally ill patient and their family.
But Dr. Robinson was more than that.
Though she was first trained in neurology it was obvious her heartbeat was in palliative care. I could tell early on she was gifted from God for this vocation because she gained my sister’s trust which is nearly impossible to do.
Dr Robinson naturally doled out comfort, concern and love in the most difficult of situations. She was warm and caring like the favorite blanket you want to wrap up in on a cold, raw day. And raw was a good description for the way my sister and I felt in the days leading up to Mom’s death.
Dr. R. took time to know each of us. We exchanged business cards. She even said she would read my blog and to my surprise she actually did.
After my mom’s death I wrote a post on advanced directives, I re-titled: Love to Perfection, Leave Direction. You see, a lot of our emotional trauma in those last days came from the fact we didn’t know what my mom wanted and she could’t tell us. She had always talked about a living will but neither my sister nor I could remember her writing it up or where it would have been placed if she had. After reading my post Dr. Robinson asked if she could share my blog with her colleagues to help them understand what families go through. I, of course, said yes. Goodness, what blogger wouldn’t want a few more clicks on their site?
A couple of weeks ago my phone rang. I let it go to voicemail when I didn’t recognized the number. When I listened to the message I heard the kind, soft-spoken voice of Dr Robinson. I was touched. I returned her call and we chatted. She asked how I was and about each of my siblings. Then she told me something that floored me.
As the need for palliative care has taken root, over the last year and a half Dr R. has traveled literally around the world (even Russia) delivering lectures and instructing doctors on the intricacies of her vocation. But that’s not what gave me goosebumps, after all that’s her heart. But what she said next, did.
She told me she had been taking the words from my post and using them in her seminars around the globe.
In a world where quotas matter, to-do lists keep us running and one more click to your website is paramount, her words spoke like a prophetic message straight from God.
Numbers don’t count, only people do.
So why do you do what you do? To be liked? To stay competitive? To get it done? Get ahead? Or for the sheer joy of being in your gifting and bringing glory to God however He sees fit?
And what do I want? More numbers to my website or more hearts equipped and trained to love those in need?
I have no doubt God orchestrated my meeting of Dr Robinson in December of 2015. That’s the kind of God we serve. While I was thinking about possibly raising numbers God was thinking about possibly touching hearts.
Perhaps we get too caught up in what people expect from us rather than what God wants to do through us.
Work out our purpose.
Because it is in living out our purpose we find true joy. And I’ll have to say, on this day, I found it.
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About Christy Mobley
Christy is an award winning writer, national speaker, wife, mother, mother-in-law, and first time grandma! She is passionate about helping women see God working for their good in the midst of their circumstances.
When Christy isn’t with family, speaking or writing, you can find her on the tennis court chasing a fuzzy yellow ball. You can connect with Christy on her blog, Joying in the Journey, Facebook, and Twitter
The sun shone bright in the kitchen the day I realized I had no one I could call. Standing at the counter, slicing a pear into bite-sized pieces for my 10-month-old firstborn, I’d instead sliced my finger. I stood silent at the sink, letting water wash over the wound and watching blood swirl in the basin. After bandaging my finger, I reached down for my son, placed him in his highchair, spread the pears on his tray, and in what seemed the very next moment, I woke up underneath the kitchen table. I had fainted, and it felt as if my brain was rebooting after being switched off. My body felt clammy and weak, and as I lay there, immobile, my initial panic subsided as I heard the happy gurgles of my boy, safe with his pears.
It was then that the thought intruded: Who will I call to come help me? I did not have an answer, because I did not have a friend. The knife had opened my finger, but it seemed to have opened a far greater wound, a wound I’d tried desperately to ignore, hide, and resist–the wound of loneliness.
At that time, I was a young pastor’s wife, a young mother, and young in my understanding of God’s grace. When I picture myself in those years, I think of myself in two places: in my home and all tangled up in my own head.
After college, I’d waited for friends to appear, as they’d appeared in every other era of my life–through youth group and band and softball teams and housemates. And they, in fact, hadn’t appeared. I felt as if I’d forgotten how to do friendship and wondered if I was no longer friend-able. In my insecurity, I remained isolated, both in my home and in my head.
I remember hoping another mother would invite me out after morning Bible study. I remember desiring one of the older pastor’s wives to take me under her wing. After my pear-eating boy received a devastating diagnosis, I remember wishing others would intentionally step into my shoes and walk with me, tell me what to do, or care for me in some way.
I was lonely for a friend.
Many women are, I know this now. Many feel forever on the outside. Many have been hurt by other women, so they intentionally stay on the outside so as not to be hurt again. And many feel their genuine attempts at friendship have produced little fruit.
Friendship is not as simple as we’ve been led to believe. But here’s something else I now know: loneliness isn’t always as complex as we’ve been led to believe either.
Sometimes Loneliness is a Gift from God.
Whether we’re new to a neighborhood or a church, whether a good friend has moved away or died, or whether a once close friendship has shifted, any type of change or separation can arouse a sense of loneliness and longing in our hearts. When we have them, we long for healthy relationships and happy life circumstances to remain static. We long for deep community and a sense of belonging. We long for the good old days when friendships came easy and we could enjoy those friends without all the adult responsibilities and burdens mixed in.
Longing is not a misplaced desire. In fact, the longing for friendship is a good one. How we pursue or respond to that longing, however, is important. We must remember that perfect relationships and perfect community and perfect circumstances do not exist on this side of eternity. Knowing that life and friendship will always be imperfect helps us embrace what we do have as grace and gift, even if the current gift is aloneness.
Our aloneness is a gift because it teaches us to turn our desires to the Lord in prayer and swells our hearts with a hope and eagerness for our true home with Jesus. Sometimes God may love us best by calling us to aloneness, precisely so that He can meet us intimately in a time when He has our full attention. We can be at peace with our aloneness, knowing that we have access to God and can cast all our cares and desires upon Him. Because all is gift and grace, we can wait in aloneness with eager expectation of how God might also give us the gift and grace of togetherness.
Sometimes Loneliness is Self-Imposed
Curiously, many of us seem to be standing beside one another, holding identical longings for friendship yet resolutely believing we’re alone in them. The truth is we aren’t actually wandering alone; we’re practically tripping over each other as we grasp at our dreams of friendship that is perfect and easy. These ideal dreams of friendship are often created and watered in our loneliness, and these dreams produce bitterness as we begin demanding from others and from God according to our exacting standards.
I certainly speak from experience. As I look back at my twenties, I see a lonely girl with a stubborn wish-dream. I see a lonely girl because of the stubborn wish-dream. A friend, according to my dream, would have been in her twenties (like me), been married and had children (like me), and understood what ministry entailed (like me). At the same time, I was afraid to ask for help, afraid to initiate, and deathly afraid of being vulnerable. I wanted the gift, but I was unwilling to do anything to receive or unwrap it.
I did pray, and I did cry. And all throughout that time, God was answering. He was good to me in my aloneness; He was the friend who was constantly present. But He was also answering with real people, imperfect people (like me), who lived beside me and went to church with me and who were a few steps ahead and behind me. I see this now, but at the time I couldn’t see past my wish-dream, my standards, and all my bitter longings. If I’d just looked around and if I’d just have been willing to take a few risks of vulnerability and initiation, I would have experienced the answer God was trying to give me.
That’s what I learned that day when the knife cut my finger and opened my heart. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anyone I could call; it was that I was afraid to call. It was that I would have rather drowned in self-sufficiency and isolation than risk reaching out or admitting my loneliness.
Are you lonely for a friend? Loneliness is nothing to be ashamed of; turn to God with your deepest desires and needs. While His love is steady and sure, know that nothing is constant about our relationships with one another–there will be times of abundance as well as times of aloneness. Cultivate a heart posture that receives both aloneness and togetherness as gift and grace. Perhaps this will give you fresh eyes for the women there all around you.
Christine Hoover is a pastor’s wife, mom to three boys, a speaker, and the author of several books, including From Good to Grace, and her latest, Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships.
When Christine and her family moved from Texas to Charlottesville, Virginia in 2008 to plant a church, she got a much-needed re-do on making and deepening friendships. She now loves to help other women discover the surprising reasons friendship often eludes them, and she also loves helping them find the community they crave.
It wasn’t a question. From the time he’d walked in the door my tone had been short and snippy. He knew I’d had a long day and needed time to myself, even though I was insisting on cleaning up the dishes.
After stalling several times on my way out the door, I left. I played worship music in the car and talked to God about the things that were bothering me.
I didn’t take much time to listen. I didn’t pause to see whether he had an answer to my endless list of concerns and complaints.
But since our God is faithful and more patient than I deserve, he kept speaking.
One day in early February the weather was crazy warm. Spring warm. Our family went for a walk, and my five-year-old paused every five seconds to pick up rocks and sticks. He found his favorite bridge (a slat of wood) and hopped across, quite pleased with himself as he ran down the other side of the ravine.
Will you continue reading? Today Abby McDonald is hosting the #RaRaLinkup and we’d love for you to join us at her place!Click here to join us!
After a productive season, I hit a wall and it wasn’t my body that was bruised from the impact. It was my soul.
Right around this time, there was an event happening that I normally participated in, but I heard Him whisper not to take part. Attending this event was not what my soul needed. It would have resulted in more fatigue for my depleted self. Like a moth to flame, I was drawn to this bright and beautiful thing. But this phrase was stuck on repeat, calling me from it—to come and rest.
Tune out, so you can tune in.
But this event is a good thing, so more of a good thing must be good, right?
It was like I had eaten more than my share from the buffet and I wanted to keep going…keep reaching, keep filling, keep stuffing. It was tempting to want to fill up beyond capacity. But I had gorged on activity for so long that I needed to get empty so I could feel hunger again. Soul hunger.
I needed a break so I could be put back together.
Too much activity starved my soul of the basic needs it craved:
A quick fill-up would not suffice. I needed slow, small, quiet to make sense of the ache that throbbed and demanded to be heard above the static.
I needed a respite—not just a break. I needed to rest within so I could breathe deep again.
My days and nights had become so crowded and loud that I could not hear the whisper of love, the healing balm, that my fragmented soul needed. I had overspent myself and was feeling the deficit. I had grabbed in order to gain but I was left more empty then when I started.
Slowing down long enough to hear my soul, I realized she was sad.
Why? I am not sure yet. But I am tuning in to His Love and asking Him to help me find out why.
What about you? Has the noise of life muted your soul? Have you found yourself trying to do more than you know is wise? Why?
We are prone to gorge ourselves on more but our souls cry out for true (not temporary) comfort. We fill and stuff (sometimes with good things) but eventually we hit a wall.
Our breaking point comes when we realize that our self-medication has gone bad.
Does your soul need a break from striving? Does your calendar need some white space? Have you forgotten who you are—buried underneath try-hard living?
It’s time. Time to turn down the loud and tune into His love. Listen to His voice of love as He restores your soul.
You don’t have to work for your worth. You don’t have to fix yourself.
Lean in and listen. Let Him soothe your soul. Let Him slow your rapid pace. Let Him love you—all of you.
Katie M. Reid is a writer and speaker who encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. She inspires women and youth to embrace their identity in Christ and live out their God-given purpose. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. Cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea is one of her favorite things.
The boy stood there. Between him and the time of his life – was glass.
To move on to new adventure, he had to let go of reservations and fears and find a way around what stopped him. He had to submit to Father’s way, so he could find his way.
Often we get stopped. All the same, we peer out, uncertain about how to proceed, how to claim joy. We see the barrier – our fears, rejections and worries.
God doesn’t see barriers. God sees perfectly. He sees us. He sees our way. It’s crystal clear.
What is holding you back? Stop, and really consider this. It could make all the difference to your life.
Are you proceeding with the God
who removes barriers?
Or are you proceeding straight into a glass window
that gets you nowhere?
Here’s a quick test to tell…
Do you think:
With God, all things are possible. He will do what he will do, but no matter what he will get me through.OR
I’ve got to make a way or I’ll be left and standing here watching my dream take-off. I’ll be forgotten and worried and never to be loved.
We need add nothing to the perfect work of God.
Have you been adding stuff?
Stress? Anxiety? Plans? Opinions? A controlling spirit? Doubt?
I consider myself a know-it-all on this subject matter, for good reason, I bang my head on the window of my own self-preservation, self-seeking and self-righteousness all the time. But, here’s the kicker – when I do, when I actually turn around to find him – He is there. And, I find joy.
Mercy abounding, he waits. Love untainted, he restores his daughter. Grace unfolding, I access new hope.
He gives me a one-way ticket to new adventure and calling in Him, when I finally “re-turn.”
Do you feel too far gone – to get back?
Let me remind you of something important: the perfect Savior saves the imperfect people. This is the bottom line of the gospel. That’s me! That’s you!
Even more, the perfect savior empowers imperfect people. Imagine that!
That’s me! That’s you!
All that is required is, us, simple folk, like lost prodigal children, just “re-turn.” No shame about this friends, every disciple had to do it.
God breaks the glass standing between us
and Him when we let him.
The weary get rest.
The tired get blessed.
Anxieties are less.
There is clarity to see.
Where we believe we could never go, God takes us. It isn’t by our efforts, for there was no way we could climb over the issues ourselves, but – with God – he can do it.
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“We recommend an ultrasound around thirty-two weeks for women thirty-five and older,” the doctor said as he helped me sit up on the exam table.
I wanted to see baby girl’s sweet face, but my first thought was, “Do I have time for this?”
I had to pick up my son from school, and the procedure wasn’t scheduled.
I wish I had more time.
I looked at the time on my phone and decided if they were quick, I could make it. And less than fifteen minutes later, I marveled at growing life, seven months young.
I stared at the tiny figure on the screen, amazed at how her features had changed in twelve short weeks. She was almost ready to make her entrance into the world. I ignored the growing pressure on my bladder and enjoyed every inch of her.
The tech noticed my discomfort.
“Don’t worry hon. We’re almost done.”
At this point, the clock was no longer important.
“Oh, I’m fine,” I said, shifting my position slightly.
Take your time. This moment will never come again.
After a few minutes, she finished up and wiped the sticky gel off my belly. I held the series of snapshots she’d captured, grateful to have a keepsake of this time.
Time is all we have in this life, isn’t it? And lately, pregnancy has me in a constant flux of slow down and hurry up.
I’m so tired of being pregnant. I can’t wait to meet our little girl.
Oh wait! The nursery isn’t ready. Slow down, baby. Just a little while longer.
A few days after my doctor’s appointment, my oldest son lost another tooth. His first one on the top and another milestone. I snapped a picture of his smile with my iPhone and thought about the first time I held him in my arms.
Now I can’t pick him up without paying for it with back spasms.
In every moment I want to grab and freeze a while longer, I realize that I can’t slow time. I can’t stop my kids from growing up or keep them in their toddler beds until they’re teenagers.
I can’t stop them from asking questions I am completely unprepared to answer like, “Where do babies come from?” or “Can I be in the delivery room when she’s born?”
When a dear friend is offered a job in another state, I can’t stop her from moving away. I wouldn’t want to.
And as the warm air turns brisk and the leaves turn vibrant shades of red and orange, I know I can’t slow their fall.
Time will not slow down, but I can.
I can stop and look people in the eye. I can put down my phone when someone is talking to me and listen to what they’re saying instead of rehearsing how I’ll respond. When someone seems distant, I can reach out instead of pretending nothing is wrong.
Time is all we have.
When you’re growing a little human inside of you, you’re made painfully aware of the ticking clock. Each kick and discomfort reminds you time is not only precious, but short.
I see countless articles on social media about ways to multiply your time, multi-task and get the most out of each second. But the longer I carry this baby, the more I see the truth.
Perhaps the only sure way to multiply our time is to savor it.
It isn’t by rushing from one activity to the next or trying to do twenty things at once. It’s by being intentional, slowing down, and seeing the blessings right here in front of us.
A well-known passage from Ecclesiastes beautifully describes the seasons of life and how there’s a time for each one. A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to be silent and a time to speak. (Ecclesiastes 3)
As I read the passage today, what struck me is how the writer doesn’t say, “A time to rush through life. A time to multi-task.”
Because a life spent rushing isn’t a life at all.
Time is all we have, friends. Let’s spend it savoring the things that matter most.
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Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.