For Dreams and Destiny

For 2017, I set resolutions.
For 2018, I established initiatives.
For 2019, I’m celebrating dreams.

Something happened to me at the end of this year. You know, every year, we experience new things, we grow, we change. We realize what we’re made of. And 2018 was a record breaking year for me.

I learned how strong I was. How strong I am. I learned how giving I could be. I learned how sacrificial I could be. I also learned how selfish I could be. I experienced pain and sorrow and joy and satisfaction. I loved and learned. I lost a baby. I gained irreplaceable friends, and I lost parts of me I will never get back.

But in the last 6 weeks, I’ve seen myself in new light. God has put dreams on my heart and a vision in my head that I have pushed down and tried to hide. Some of these dreams are ones I’ve run from for over a decade. But in the span of two weeks, God placed people in my life – some of them randomly coming out of the woodwork – to affirm what He has called me to do.

At 27 years old, I finally feel like I have a vision and a purpose and calling. I’ve always said that motherhood and marriage are my callings – and they are. But I was envious of women who seemed to have a calling in addition to that. Something that created a fire in their bones. I love women like that! And I love reading about them and talking to them and learning from them! But it just never seemed to be me. I’ve never felt like I fit.

Until these last couple weeks. The amazing people who have poured into me; who have fed my soul; who have pointed me to Jesus; who have encouraged me; who have called to my attention things that were deep in my heart that I had never shared with anyone!!!!!!! Thank you, Jesus, for those people!

2019 will be a year like no other. I see the challenges ahead. I see the growing pains. I see the moments where I will want to give up. But I also see the passion. I feel the fire in my bones. I feel like I finally know why God created me.

And this feeling…… feels right.

So without further ado, here are some of my dreams for 2019!

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Abigail Baggs, Writer
Right now, when people ask what I do, I tell them I’m a stay at home mom. Which true and wonderful! But my dream is to say, “yes, I’m Abigail Baggs, I’m a writer”. Follow my writing journey here, at abigailbaggs.wordpress.com!

Homeschool!
Okay, this is a crazy one. The last week of July, God asked me to homeschool our babies. I promptly responded with “thanks, but no thanks”. And as He always does, He changed my heart to reflect what He called me to do! Now, I couldn’t be more excited about what is ahead! Archer turns 3 in January, so we will be incorporating some preschool structure into our routine.

Minimalism
This was an initiative last year, and I made incredible strides! My goal for the year is to completely get rid of every unnecessary item in my home. Our dream is to be able to easily and quickly pack up and go, whenever and wherever God calls us.

Ditch & Switch
At the end of 2017, we started a journey toward swapping out all toxic products in the house, and choosing natural, plant-based options instead. I dream of a home full of healthy products, that I’m happy to share with those around me. If you’re interested in doing this with me, I’d love to help you get started! Join me here: Essential Oil Starter Kit

Plant-Based Living
We’ve seen amazing results in Archer’s health since our slow transition to a plant-based diet, particularly in the area of sleep! Everyone in my house loves to cook, so I dream of a vivacious, happy place, where we enjoy eating healthy but making it fun. And making a mess in the process!

“Givable” Income
We’ve all heard of disposable income, right? 2018 was a wacky year for finances. We started the year well over 6 figures in salaries, and we’re ending it on a ministry salary. Let’s just say it’s a little under 6 figures! Through brilliant financial hacks and building a business, we’ve been able to make the salary support and provide, as well as give back as much as we could. In 2019, the dream is to able to send multiple students to OneWeek (youth camp). To purchase multiple Thanksgiving baskets. To create an environment where our boys love and enjoy giving and creating opportunities to provide for those who have less than we do. We want givable income, not disposable income!

Influencer
I desire at my core to be an encourager to every person around me. To lift up those who are down. To speak truth into the lives of those who need it. To create a conglomerate. A network. A lifestyle. A community. Where truth and grace reign together. Where the lonely can come to be pointed to Jesus. Where the weary come to be picked up on our shoulders. Where the thriving come to share with others. To be a conduit of God’s grace and goodness and love and mercy, to everyone who comes my way.

Tell me your dreams, friends! Let me know how I can partner with you and being all that God has created you to be! 

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Praise On My Lips

When it rains, it pours, amirite? (Am I right?)

Earlier this week, on his way home from work, Jake called and told me he was in an accident. Everyone was fine. But our poor little car wasn’t. It was totaled. Bye bye sweet little red thang (just kidding, it was a Ford Focus, definitely not a thang).

I was actually pretty emotionless about it. It almost just seemed like another drop in the bucket of 2018. Of the fall. Of this season of life.

Can I just get really real here for a second? For one of the first times in our marriage, and in my walk with Christ, I am feeling frustrated with God.

When Jake was gone at the beginning of the year, I trusted God. When Archer was so sick and it looked hopeless, I trusted God. When we had no idea what we would do about childcare in the spring, I trusted God. When we were seeking the Lord on ministry, I trusted God. When we lost our sweet baby Marvel, I trusted God.

But this is like the straw that broke the camel’s back. I am tired and weary. I’m done. I’m over it. Not feeling it. Here’s a little insight into my prayers that night:

“Okay God. What’s the deal. Of all things. We can’t even keep that car? He was almost home. You couldn’t have just given us this one pass? Don’t we have enough stuff going on right now? Maybe just one fiery furnace at a time?

Okay. Fine. I’ll pray. Dear God. Thanks that Jake is okay. Please provide a car. Okay. Amen.

….

Well that was a poor prayer. Not sure I can do much better than that right now though, God. Sorry.”

It’s not often that I struggle to pray. More often than not, I usually struggle to stay focused and not ramble. The Lord often gets my stream of consciousness and hears all my thoughts on all the things. Like we are just chit-chatting. But not last night. You know when you’re mad at your spouse and you give them the silent treatment? Yeah. That’s about how it was.

The next morning, my alarm was set for 5 am, just like it is every morning. I get up and have some coffee and do my quiet time. My prayer and Bible reading and praise time. It’s funny – God always knows what we need, and that morning, I think He knew that I would disobediently turn those alarms off, so He decided that waking up a little one who was ready to nurse would serve as a better alarm. So shortly before 5 am, Bash woke up, and I plodded to his room to feed him. I was wide awake after that and decided to just go ahead and pull out of my Bible and BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) packet.

As I read, as always, the Holy Spirit ministered to me. We are studying David in 1 Samuel right now, along with the corresponding Psalms he wrote.

As I read about David’s disobedience and lies, then his change of heart; as I read his petitions to God to redeem him; as I read of his desire to glorify God above all else… my heart was softened.

I was reminded of the stories earlier in the Old Testament where the Israelites leave Egypt and wander in the wilderness while they wait for the Promised Land. God delivers them from the Egyptians who are keeping them as slaves. God intervenes and parts the Red Sea to allow them to cross safely. God provides manna each morning – exactly what they need. And yet… they complained.

“Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, ‘Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’” (Exodus 16:2-3)

And that morning, I thought, I sound exactly like the children of Israel. The Lord has provided and provided and provided. He has blessed and blessed and blessed. He has kept His promises over and over, time and time again. And here I am, complaining about my situation.

Jake was safe. The boys and I hadn’t been in the car. We had friends to call on, and when Jake asked a buddy to come pick him up, that buddy brought another buddy, and Jake was encouraged by our community. Immediately, people offered support, both prayer and tangible, and it was so clear that God’s hand was with us. So why I was acting like a spoiled child?

Please understand – I think it is totally okay to experience emotions! Frustration, anger, disappointment. But what I knew in that moment was that I had allowed the emotions to take root in my heart. Instead of feeling them and expressing them to Jake and then to the Lord in prayer and then allowing the Holy Spirit to bring me joy… I let them stay. I gave them safe harbor in my heart, and I fed them.

Friends, that is never a good idea. I am so thankful for the conviction of the Holy Spirit. You know what I’m talking about, right? When you’re so pressed with your sin that you can’t sit down until you confess it?

I resolved to get my heart right, and instead of allowing that frustration to dictate my feelings and thoughts and actions, I would praise the Lord, right through this storm. Psalm 34:1 says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

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I have read this verse over and over this week. One thing God has really been teaching me in this season – to meditate on His truth until my heart believes it as strongly as my mind does. Every time I’m tempted to harbor my frustration, I am taking my thoughts captive (casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. II Corinthians 10:5) and speaking truth into this situation.

It’s amazing how asking God to provide peace and actively submitting myself to His Lordship can tangibly result in help in our times of trouble. I have still struggled this week, but it has been easier than I thought. It’s always easier for me when I truly choose to have joy and focus on my blessings.

I would love to hear what verses or songs you like to meditate on when you are going through a challenging time!

Winter Sunsets

Tonight was the first time since Daylight Savings Time that the boys and I were home alone at sunset. And the first time I’ve been alone, without Jake, at sunset.

Why is this significant?

I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. And sunset this time of year kicks. my. butt. For me, SAD usually rears it’s ugly head in October, but this year, it showed up at the end of September. It’s already been a long couple months, and if you know much about my family and our story, you know we also lost a baby a couple weeks ago.

Between my usual seasonal funk + a miscarriage + the upcoming holidays + some other stressors at this stage of life… I have been an emotional basket case recently. Because I knew that I would be flying solo for tonight’s sunset, I did some planning ahead to make sure this evening was as positive as possible. And it worked!

So I wanted to share some ways that I am working hard to manage my SAD and proactively improve my own mental and emotional health.

•I planned ahead. I knew ahead of time that Jake would be gone. So I mentally prepared myself. I envisioned a great evening. I told the boys we were going to have lots of fun tonight! I spoke life over myself and my family and thus created a positive environment.

•I put a plan and a schedule in place. While the boys took their naps, I planned out the rest of the day. I wrote down what needed to be done, and I scheduled what we would do at what times. Knowing ahead of time what to expect can be incredibly empowering. And it can really combat anxiety.

•I checked to see what time sunset was, and I made sure that for 15 minutes before through 15 minutes after sunset that I would be actively engaged with my kids! I put the phone down and set a timer so I wasn’t constantly checking the time, making me anxious. And during that time, I allowed myself to be caught up in playing and enjoyment!

•Long before sunset, the boys and I picked up the house and took care of chores. We got dinner ready early. And we chose a meal with minimal clean up. So that there was very little stress and very few to-do items hanging over my head.

•music!!!! We listened to music all throughout the evening. This is an incredible way to minister to your own brain. When we turn on that happy music, the kids enjoy it, we all dance together, and it’s so easy to get lost in a fun moment.

•I set up all the essential oil diffusers in my house ahead of time, so that we could turn them on a little bit before sunset. Using essential oils topically and aromatically are two wonderful ways to get the benefits of oils and stimulate the limbic system in your brain! This is often called your emotional brain. And positive, healthy smells, like pure essential oils, can have a fantastic impact on mental health by lifting emotions and encouraging peace and low-stress reactions. Here was my oil routine:

~diffused Lavender + Grapefruit + Geranium in the open spaces of our home

~applied Joy + Tangerine to one wrist

~applied Northern Lights Black Spruce + Frankincense to the other wrist

~applied Valor to the inside of each upper arm

This afternoon and evening went drastically better than I thought they would. And that allowed us all to be in a good place by bedtime. While I know I might struggle with SAD for a long time, I love knowing that there are steps I can take to improve my health and make this season much more manageable!

If you are interested in learning more about managing emotions during the holidays, I will be doing a Facebook Live event tomorrow evening to share more. Please let me know if you’d like an invite.

Do you have a particular time of year or time of day that is especially challenging for you? I would love to hear what steps you take to manage it!