Learning From Failure

Can I tell you something? I’ve been struggling lately. Like a bird without a song, struggling with my words and what I should or shouldn’t share with you.

Because you and I live in a world of how to's, quick advice, and "Pinterest perfect" lives. We see the posts on Facebook that show everyone else's life highlights. We see the Instagram posts full of fresh cut flowers and faraway travels. We hear the stories of home renovations and successful pregnancies that come out of what appears to be thin air.

And we wonder..
What am I doing wrong?
Is there something I'm missing?
Why is life so incredibly hard?

Friend, I'm here to remind you that you are not alone.

No one's life, no matter how wonderful it looks on the outside, is perfect. Behind the little squares and perfectly crafted words are real feelings, tears, struggles, emotions, challenges, and so much more. We just don't see the hardships unless we choose to take down that invisible wall that separates dreamland from reality.

At the beginning of this summer, I took the leap into full time creative business. With an entirely new website and a whole lot of dreams, I jumped. And let me tell you, it was a big one.

I never thought it was going to be easy, but I was entirely unprepared for the barrage of emotions that came my way once reality had set in. The stability of the job I had held for two years was gone. All my words disappeared and fear gripped my heart. The “what if’s” were unbearable, holding me in one spot unable to move in any direction, especially forward.

So I stopped sharing. The hopes and dreams for this space were put on hold in order to dive in and wrestle with God. At the time, “failure” could have been branded across my forehead and I would have believed it. I finally had accomplished what I had been working years to achieve, but instead of reveling in joy and success, all I felt was lost.

I wanted to quit so many times because the instant success, whatever that may be, was no where to be seen and waiting seemed like a paradox when an impossible mountain toward success loomed in the path ahead. Now, months later I can see that “failure” opened the doors for my heart to be tended, projects to bloom, and even bigger dreams to take root.

This is not the end of the journey friend. It’s only the beginning. Each step in the process, each seed planted, has the potential to help us live in full bloom no matter what season of life we are in.

PS: After hitting publish on every single blog post, I wait eagerly to hear from you! So if you'd like to say hello, leave a comment or hop on over to Instagram to send me a little note! My favorite part about this Encouragement Community is knowing that we are in this fight for life together :)

Where to find Strength when all else fails

It was a cold, winter afternoon and the tears would not stop falling down my cheeks. Another relapse... More hospital visits... No guarantee that life was ever going to turn around. In that moment I felt the weight of our world on my shoulders.

Be strong. Be brave. You can do this. You'll get through.

Reminders like this surrounded me constantly, but they all felt weak, eventually collapsing under the weight of their flimsy foundation. Even though I desperately wanted to be, I was not strong or brave enough to hold our life together on my own.

Admitting that is like sharing my deepest, darkest secret - something I never want to see the light of day. You see, I wanted to be the strong one. I needed to be! Who else was going to pick us up? For a while, I thought that I could do it all so I pushed my limits to a breaking point before realizing that living on my own strength will never be enough. I couldn’t heal Derek, fix our finances, and maintain the house plus multiple jobs all at the same time.

At first this realization was crushing, but slowly over time my attitude turned from bitterness to joy. Our burden did not need to be carried alone!

“My health may fail and my spirit grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.” Psalm 73:26

These words leapt out of the pages of my Bible when I first read them. When all else fails, God is still there. He who never fails, is all powerful, and full of grace. David fully embraced this throughout his entire life. The Psalms are filled with his honest thoughts and cries out to the Lord for strength through it all.

When all else fails, He is our strength.

When all else fails, He is our comfort.

When all else fails, He is our peace.

When all else fails, He never will.

Reading the entire chapter of Psalm 73 was incredibly freeing, and I encourage you to read it today too. I found myself saying “YES! I can relate SO much!” over and over again.

Verse 26 stood out to me so much because of the hardships we have faced over the last few years so I created a print that I would love to share with you. While they last, all orders of any amount will receive this 5x7 print for free as a special bonus! This is my way of saying no matter what journey life has you on, no matter how big or how small, you do not have to walk this path alone.

When Life Doesn't Go Your Way

As I stand back and look I am continuously amazed and what God has done to get me to this point today. As I said, “I will love you for better or for worse, richer and poorer…” on our wedding day I can honestly say that I meant it, but I had no idea what this would really entail. I pictured the American Dream life. Everything was perfectly planned out (in my mind) and the future was bright.

Life wasn’t perfect, but the possibilities of life seemed infinite. I was looking forward to newlywed life - buying our first home, having kids, building community around us, and so much more. Basically I desired a life of comfort and ease all rotating around my needs.

Four months into our marriage the way I pictured our life came crashing down around us with two little words - chronic illness. Over the last few years we have slowly been picking up the pieces of our life and settling into a new normal - one that challenges me to my very core.

I still find myself chasing perfection, this world, and all the things that are in it, but I am slowly learning how to gain an eternal perspective. Each day is a choice to seek blessings, serve others, spread the gospel, and focus on what matters most.

Paul’s life is an inspiration to me for many reasons, but one that stands out significantly to me is his reckless abandonment of the comforts of this world and unfailing trust in the Lord for strength and comfort. Paul endured suffering unimaginable for us here in America - imprisonments, beatings, stoned, shipwrecked, dangers all around, lack of even what we would consider basic necessities. Paul knew what it meant to suffer. Yet in all of his suffering, he chose to boast in His weakness and in the power of Christ.

No matter what life threw his way, Paul was content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities “for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) His strength was found in the Lord.

No matter what we are facing today, true freedom is found in Christ.

When we are in the depths of despair, will we run into His open arms of truth? Will we lift our hands and say “lead me where my trust is without borders”? Will we really go wherever He calls us, even if that place is far outside our comfort zone?