Day of Redemption

Last year, January 2 was the worst day of my life. Jake left for Basic Combat Training. And my whole world fell apart. I had my first, and only, real anxiety attack. In hindsight, I see all the spiritual warfare surrounding that day and that 10.5 weeks. But at the time, all I knew was that I couldn’t breathe.

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2018 was incredibly difficult. There were moments of joy, yes, but there were also moments of pure hell. There were moments of extreme blessing, but there were so many moments where I honestly didn’t know if I could make it one more day.

When I remember this day last year, I physically feel sick. I remember walking out of the house, knowing Jake wouldn’t see his boys for almost three months. I remember sitting at Post Coffee, trying not to throw up, fighting tears, pretending things were normal. But knowing, in the pit of my stomach, that this was going to be so hard… wondering if I would make it. I remember pulling into the parking lot of the National Guard Armory. Jake was so excited. But I wanted to scream. I wanted to throw myself at his feet and beg him to stay. I wanted to drive away forever, just the two of us, and pretend that the world as I knew it wasn’t going up in flames.

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We had agreed on this decision. We knew it was what God was calling us to. But it wasn’t really what I wanted. When it came right down to it, what I wanted was to put my foot down. I wanted to go home. I wanted it to be over before it even started.

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When I remember this day last year, I remember the moment a few weeks later that I realized Archer needed to be taken to the emergency room. Another seizure. There was a 3 month old swaddled and sleeping on the bed. The temperature was well below freezing. The roads were icy. It was late and dark and I was all alone. And I was holding a two year old angel in my arms, as he seized, and tears rolled my down face. I called my parents to meet us at the hospital. Then I packed up my babies. One of them shaking and unresponsive. Eyes rolling back in his head. I drove us to the hospital. Ran the red lights. Fishtailing all over the place. Knowing I had to be strong because I was the only parent they had that night. Crying out “Jesus! Jesus!” because I didn’t know what else to say.

When I remember this day last year, I remember the next seizure. I remember praying over that baby, claiming God’s promises. I remember sitting up all night to watch him sleep. I remember a distinct moment where I doubted my faith. The only time in my walk with Christ that has ever happened. But I remember where I stood. Watching that boy struggle to breathe, and thinking how could this be happening.

When I remember this day last year, I remember all the pain of my life, summed up into a single point in time.

There aren’t words to explain to devastation and despair I felt that day. Only tears and groans and cries. To say it was the worst day of my life would be the understatement of the century. I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain and brokenness on even my worst enemy.

But today.

But Jesus.

Praise God, there is a “but”!

But today.

The days leading up to today have been incredibly hard. I’ve had a PTSD of sorts. All I could think about has been “this day last year”. I was mentally prepared for a terrible day today. A day that simply reminded me of all the horror and pain.

But today.

Do you know where I was this morning? Exactly where I was last year this morning. I was at Post Coffee. At 8 am. Again. Only God could orchestrate this kind of thing.

I had an amazing interview this morning (related to my dreams and God’s call on my life!!!) at Post at 8. And what should have elicited dark emotions resulted in what only God can bring.

Redemption.

God redeemed today for me. For my family.

This morning, I sat in the same place I sat last year. I didn’t even realize that was going to happen, until it happened. Until I wrote it in my planner a couple days ago and saw it in writing. Same place, same day, same time? What does that mean? I was sharing this with my mom, and asking, what does it mean, that this long-awaited day of pain was starting the same place. And she told me it meant that it was okay. And that I could move on and heal. And she was exactly right.

Today was truly one of the best days I’ve had in years. Amazing time in God’s Word this morning. Quiet, dark, with my coffee. A wonderful family breakfast. An encouraging coffee date that completely changed the pattern of my heartbeat when someone says “Post Coffee” or when I drive past that intersection. A very special day with my babies, full of playtime, Bible verses, nourishing food, learning activities, reading, and rest.

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While there was nothing earth shatteringly positive about today… it was still exactly what I needed. There was safety. Security. Hope. Comfort. Love. Togetherness. Tomorrow. There is a tomorrow that I am ready for.

Today has been redeemed. January 2 has been redeemed. You know, when we as Christians come to know Jesus as our personal Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us. He will never leave us. But you know there are also times when we pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit, separate from that basic indwelling. Like when we speak, share the Gospel, or walk through a difficult time. And today, I felt the Holy Spirit. I felt that double portion of Holy Spirit power. I felt a peace that only comes from Him. Not from having Jake home. Not from knowing what tomorrow brings. Not from anything earthly. Only from God. The kind of peace that passes all understanding.

If words can’t express the devastation of this day last year, then words also can’t express the peace and restoration of this day this year.

Friends, this transformation, this redemption, this drastic change….can only come from knowing a Savior like mine. Knowing Jesus. Allow Him to change lives and circumstances. And hearts. He knew what I needed today. He knew that I needed a promise. Not of comfort and easy prosperity. But a promise of provision and partnership. He provided what my weak and weary heart didn’t even know to ask for.

Thank you Jesus, for the redemption of my heart, my life, my world, and my January 2.

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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! 

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!

I’ll Have New Novembers

Tomorrow marks two weeks since we lost our precious Marvel Israel. I still can’t believe it. I was pregnant for such a short time, and yet I keep forgetting I’m not pregnant anymore. Sometimes I think my body doesn’t even know it yet.

It’s been a really weird two weeks. With Thanksgiving thrown in there. And several nights of visitors bringing us meals. And Bash cut a tooth. Which means he and I were both up all night for a couple nights. Plus the blizzard. And the super early sunset.

Man. To be honest, I’m struggling.

This grief and loss are such weird things. They don’t manifest themselves through tears and anger. I wish they did. They manifest themselves though this general lack of motivation. No real desire to do the things I love.

I try to pick myself up by the bootstraps and move on, but it doesn’t work.

It’s been two weeks of incredible love and encouragement from people close to us, as well as people we haven’t heard from in awhile. It’s been two weeks of people checking in on me, making me feel so loved. It’s also been two weeks of not hearing from so many people who I thought I was close to – people whose silence has been incredibly evident and painful.

I’m wrestling with bitterness right now. I think in my mind, because I share every emotion I have so openly, I want my emotional needs to be met. And mostly, they are. But it’s those silences I’m struggling with.

Do I call people on it? Do I just silently take note, and see who was really there for me in my time of need and who wasn’t? I know the answer – I love like Jesus and put others’ needs before my own. My own emotional needs ARE being met, by my Savior and my husband and my close friends. I think I can acknowledge that some of my friends aren’t as close as I thought, yet still extend them grace. I can see that maybe they shouldn’t be in my inner circle, but I can still love on them and pray for them.

It’s hard to watch the boys play right now. Partly because I’m stuck in the clouds of my own head, and I can’t seem to get back down to earth. And partly because it’s painful to watch and see the gap where a third should be. My two adventurous babes are in a big wrestling phase. It seriously stresses me out the way they roughhouse! But I love it too.

But today, as they rolled around in the hallway, laughing and “bonking” each other and enjoying each other’s company…. all I could see was them growing up without Marvel to join in. I know Marvel is watching from above. And I know that one day ALL the Baggs babies (3? 4? more? Who knows!) will join that wrestling match. But I know that it will be incredibly difficult as a due date comes around… a first birthday… all these milestones that only a mama heart would remember. It’s a pain only a mom could understand, and only a mom could bare.

I like to tackle problems head on. I’m a fixer. I like to see the end goal and then implement the plan to get there. So my natural tendency is to handle this pain – this perceived “problem” – in that same manner.

But how do you fix pain like this? How do you manage a wound that will never go away. How do I move on, knowing that I will always think of my sweet baby in heaven? How do I heal when my body literally and physically aches with longings to feel pregnant. With a desire to feel the itty bitty weight of a newborn on my chest?

These are rhetorical questions, by the way – not looking for solutions, just looking to share.

I do know that I’m not alone. Sadly, so many have gone before me in this. If anything, I find solace that I now have another way to connect with hurting women and minister to those around me.

I don’t feel angry at God. Maybe a little indifferent. Although I know better than to let that fester. My faith has proven strong. Which is the goal, right? But I can’t help but wish my faith wasn’t being refined by such fire, so often, and so intensely. My faith is strong, but I thought my oldest son was going to die. Twice. My faith is strong because my marriage is constantly under attack, and I’m so grateful that Jake and I are as stubborn as we are about loving each other through the heartache. My faith is strong because God has given much and required much. And we have always given what was required, and He has always provided what He promised.

A dear friend reminded of Romans 8:18 today. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

This is one of those times where I worship in truth, but maybe not quite yet in spirit. I know the truth of God’s Word. I believe it to be whole and right. I would base my entire life on it – I have based my entire life on it. But I don’t feel it.

In these times, I honestly think that’s okay. I think it’s okay to speak God’s Word, over and over, in truth, until your heart matches your head – until your feelings match your knowings.

And that’s where I am today. I know I will heal. Even though it doesn’t feel like I will. November has historically been a terrible month for me. I thought this year would be different. That I would have a little baby in my womb to restore hope and joy in this month that often brings pain and hell. But this year won’t be it.

I will heal. I will regain Novembers. I will enjoy my children and playing and laughing again. I will forgive those who have made me feel alone and betrayed. And I will worship God with my whole being and my whole heart again. We will make more babies, our family will grow, and life will “get back to normal” again.

And in the meantime, I will rejoice over my blessings and my friendships. My babies and my husband. I will read God’s Word and speak truth into my life. And I will find my way again.

Plant-Based Progress

One year ago (almost to the day), we started a journey in our home to truly be intentional with our health. If you know me, you know how much I love using essential oils and oil-infused products. I have been systematically swapping out everything in my home that has harsh chemicals and choosing a plant-based, healthy option. Young Living makes this very easy to do, and I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve been able to do it so quickly and successfully! One year later, our home is almost completely toxic-chemical-product free.

While we have all benefited greatly, my older son, Archer, who is almost 3, has benefited most obviously. This time last year, when he was almost 2, he had been sick for almost his entire life. Without going into all the details (another post for another time!), I was absolutely desperate to find a way to help him and to figure it what was going on.

We are still working closely with our doctors to explore, but he is truly so much healthier today than ever before! This past summer, he would go weeks at a time without being sick, and it was truly miraculous.

Here are the things this mama bear did to improve his health:

-got rid of toxic products in our home (cleaners, detergents, soaps, lotions, etc.)

-opted for natural, plant-based options before medicines as often as possible

-prioritized sleep and time outdoors!

-created a routine for meal times and snack times and play times and rest times

-provided a safe place for emotional, physical, and mental development (another post on this in the future!)

I am amazed every day at how much we’ve grown as a family and how much better equipped I am to take care of my family than I was before! If you want more details on any of the list above, from oils to lifestyle, please comment or message or text or call! I would love to share more personally with you.

Now, we have another big lifestyle change I would like to make. Because despite all the changes and improvements, I know I need to make some more changes for our family, and Archer specifically, to truly be in optimal health.

Something I have flirted with before but have yet to fully to commit to – is changing our diet. If you have ever made a diet change, you know this is one of the hardest things to really do.

Several years ago, my parents did extensive research before making a diet change. They slowly transitioned from a typical American diet to a mostly whole-foods, plant-based diet. This is sometimes called a “vegan” diet, but their chosen lifestyle focuses more on whole foods as opposed to just avoiding animal byproducts.

I seriously thought they were crazy. Because I love cheese. And tacos. And cheeseburgers. And chicken Parmesan. And the occasional steak. But slowly, I watched their health change drastically. I saw their numbers – from blood pressure to cholesterol to weight to more – clearly illustrate their improving health. My parents are both in their 60s, and they take zero medication. My dad water skis. They both walk 5 miles 4 to 5 times a week. When they don’t feel well, they adjust their diet (and use oils now too!).

They made me a believer. And a researcher! I started to do my own research… and the research was compelling – compelling enough that we’ve decided to make this change in our own home.

I am both excited and nervous simultaneously to begin this plant-based journey. Like I said, I’ve considered this change before, and we have components of our diet that are mostly plant-based. But now, we are going to commit for real!

As with most diet and lifestyle changes, this will be a slow, steady change. And if you invite us over, we will still eat your carnivorous food! But our primary diet choices will be plant-based.

I’m very excited to blog about this journey as we start it and continue it! There is a lot of research I would like to share. And since Jake and I both love to cook, I’m looking forward to learning a new way to cook and enjoy food. And I’m looking forward to sharing it with others.

If you are plant-based or have ever thought about being plant-based, I would love to hear from you!

we’re going on an adventure

Almost two years ago, God called us on a journey that started something completely transformative for us. We started attending Abundant Life, and Pastor Phil was preaching on how God wanted us to handle our finances. Long story short, Jake and I decided to put our heads together and pull ourselves out of a hole of $95,000 of debt.

We did extreme things. We threw every dime at debt. We changed our eating habits so we could spend less on groceries. We sold a gorgeous, brand-new vehicle that we loved. Jake joined the National Guard. And God blessed us in every decision – not always the way we were hoping for a blessing, but always in the way we needed a blessing.

We continued to do extreme things as our debt-free journey came to an end. I left a high-paying job I enjoyed to stay home with my babies. Jake answered a call to ministry that we’d been wrestling with for a long time.

We settled into a new rhythm and lifestyle and that felt more right than we’ve ever felt. And I thought, “this is peace. God brought us where He wanted us, and I can’t wait to get comfy here.”

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Right when we thought we were comfy, God made it clear that He has more for us. He is asking more of us. The Bible says, “…For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required…”. Luke 12:48 We have been blessed abundantly, and we know that God has called us to give abundantly – to give our whole lives for the Gospel’s sake.

I love to talk to my friends and hear what God is calling them to. We are all, as followers of Jesus, called to ministry. Some vocationally, some in their homes, some as part of their occupation. For some, the mission field is what they devote 100% of their time to. For others, it’s what they devote their lunch hour to. In different seasons of life, God has different ministries for us individually.

Right now, we feel God pulling us to a deeper level of ministry – to take the Great Commission more seriously. We don’t know yet what that means. At this moment, we know we are where He wants us for today. Jake loves his job and I love staying at home with our babies. But what comes next, we don’t know yet.

So right now, we are leaning in to this call of waiting and humbly submitting. We have made a decision to be extreme once again… and get super intentional with everything God has given us – our time, our money, our space, our health, our relationships, our gifts, our lifestyle… everything.

You might see us all over Facebook Marketplace soon. Selling things we’ve never used. Clothes we haven’t worn in years. We have closets full of junk that haven’t been touched since we moved into our house three years ago. I love to see how God took us from two people driven by love of success and money to two people who have very little attachment to material things. If you would have told me all of this two years ago, I would have laughed in your face. But our God works miracles in people’s lives and hearts. And what He has done in our lives is nothing short of miraculous.

I can honestly say I’m so excited to see what God has for us in the coming months and years. Even though this life has not always been comfortable and easy, I would choose a life in God’s will over and over again. And I pray daily that I would always submit my heart to His calling.

I’m also excited to share regularly about the steps we are taking to further simplify our lives. Writing is my true passion, and something, you might know, that I feel God has called me specifically to do, in some capacity. I’m still exploring that, to be honest. But I do want to continue writing more often as we make more and more changes in our home.

Stay tuned!

A Mama’s To-Do List

I don’t know what it is about women, but we all seem to have this need to make lists and check things off said list. List-making is relaxing. It’s inspiring. It’s motivating! It’s romantic, in that way that only a woman could find pen and paper.

Can I get a witness?

I’m sure not everyone is this way, but I know tons of mamas, myself included, who will go so far as to put something on the to-do list, that wasn’t originally there, after they’ve done it, just so they can cross it off (yes. we know this is a little crazy).

Again, who else is with me??

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Honestly, I don’t think this is a bad thing. I think that often times we wives and mothers are driven to accomplish because God has placed this desire in our hearts to do our jobs – jobs both inside and outside the home.

But like every good thing, it can easily get distorted… especially by lies from the enemy, telling us that we aren’t doing enough.

One of the hardest things for me about being a stay at home mom is the lack of “productivity”.

Let’s talk about that for a minute. When I think of productivity, I immediately think of chores around my house. I think of cooking and cleaning and planning. Again, good things. But is that really the mark that I want to use to define a successful day for myself?

In some ways – Yes! I think it is a very good thing to desire a home that is well taken care of. That is one of the most fun things about being a homemaker… creating a space that is loved and that makes other feel loved.

But I personally don’t think a clean and organized home should be the pinnacle of success in a mom’s mind! So. How should we measure our success from day to day? For those of us who thrive on getting things done, how can we put that trait to good use as a godly wife and mother?

I’ve started working on a daily checklist for myself. This is something I am using to keep myself focused on what I believe to be important, and also to remind myself that the hard and holy work of motherhood is an accomplishment in and of itself. I think this checklist is applicable to stay-at-home moms and working moms alike. Check it out, and let me know what you think I should add!

  • Pray for your husband
  • Pray for your kids, individually, by name
  • Hug each of your kids
  • Kiss each of your kids
  • Tell your husband you love him
  • Tell your husband you’re proud of him, and thank him for something he did for you and your family that day
  • Tell each of your kids, individually, you love them
  • Get on the floor, and play with your kids
  • Tell each of your kids at least one thing you love about them
  • Read/tell a Bible story to your kids
  • Sing with your kids (maybe teach them songs about Jesus or praise songs!)
  • Tell each of your kids that Jesus loves them
  • Pray with your kids before bedtime
  • Pray with your husband after your kids go to sleep

I am anxious to hear what else you would add to this list. Let’s encourage each other in this daily walk of motherhood we are so privileged to have!

Morning Musings

this morning, I left a quiet house full of sleeping Baggs boys to steal away and get some uninterrupted time in with my Savior.
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some takeaways (and yes, I am #preachingtomyownheart here!):

 just like we schedule date nights with our significant other to spend quality time with them, scheduling extra special time with Jesus and His Word is so important. I need to do this more often.

 “praise until you worship, and worship until the glory falls”

 “praise and worship places God at the front of our army… we are an army of worshippers”.

 no Bible Study plan compares to opening Holy Scripture and letting the Holy Spirit teach you (Isaiah 55:11-12, John 14:26).

 that being said, Prayer Portions is an amazing prayer resource as a companion to reading Scripture. Praying God’s Word back to him is unmatchable.

 only a mom would find a coffee shop on Friday morning to be a quiet alternative to reading her Bible at home.

 

Prayer Notecards

As a mom of little ones, it can be so challenging to get in a good daily quiet time. And completing my entire prayer list can seem impossible. Even waking before the sun, it seems that someone always wakes up a little early, or needs to potty, or just wants to be held for the last little chunk of morning sleep! 👶🏻👩‍👦‍👦

A couple years ago, I started using this “notecard method” (my very creative title!), where I write down my prayer requests on a notecard. I date it, and then on the back, I write details and specific Scriptures to pray. (So if you’ve shared a request with me… you have a notecard!) When there are no babies around, I could spend hours doing this! But let’s be honest – moms don’t get time with no babies around 😂🤪 

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One of the best things about this notecard system is that the notecards can go with me wherever I go. I can take them to the bathroom while I get ready or the kitchen while I prepare meals.

Lately, I’ve been taking them in the car with us, and I will pray my requests, out loud, as we drive! At first it felt a little weird to pray out loud in front of the kids, especially when so many of these prayers are intimate cries from my heart to our Savior. But what better way to teach our babies to pray and to show them that we believe in a miraculous God than to let them witness us come before the throne of grace? 🙏🏽 

Moms of littles – anyone else have good tried and true tips and tricks for getting in good prayer and Scripture time? Let’s share with each other! 💕💕