The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year… Kind Of


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Dear Reader,

Just about anywhere you look on the internet right now, you’ll find someone focusing in on how stupid  2016 was… whether it be how many beloved celebrities died, or what disasters took place (terrorist attacks, natural stuff, the election, etc).

It’s become a bit of a sad joke, it seems…  one that you laugh at so as not to cry.

 

2016 hasn’t been terribly sweet to me either on a personal level…. most of it, I’ve wanted to punch in the face.

It’s been the most challenging year that I’ve ever lived through, which some would say gives me room to mope.

Even yesterday, I caught myself in the downward spiral of negativity that the world has taken on, claiming that I really only had two good things happen this whole year, which absolutely isn’t true.

But this morning, Jesus tapped on my forehead and challenged me in my negativity, which was slightly annoying because pity parties are so much easier and enjoyable in a masochistic way, especially at 5:45am.

 

While this year has been really hard, there is goodness laced in the midst of the dirt, whether you want to see it or not.

 

So here are some good things about my 2016:

  • I was given a temporary full time job that I adored, with students that added a whole new wing to my hall of favorites.
  • I grew in my adaptability, flexibility and humility.
  • I gained a ton of knowledge, and read more than I have in a long time.
  • I got to experience being pregnant, which was wonderful about 95% of the time.
  • Brady and I celebrated a year of being married.
  • I have sweet new friendships that are so life giving, even if I don’t get the chance to spend much time with those individuals.
  • We met our beautiful son, who has absolutely taken the cake for being the best kid in the world.
  • I’ve grown sturdier in my beliefs and personal convictions, specifically in what it means to follow Jesus, how He views marriage, how He views me, and my callings.
  • I’ve grown in my endeavors with photo… shooting more this year than I ever have before, and praying for continued blessing in that realm in this next.
  • I learned that I love asparagus.
  • I flew 4 hours with my 6 week old so that he could surprise and meet his great grandparents.
  • My sister and I drove through Ohio, Pennsylvania and part of New York just because we could.
  • I went racing for the first time, and discovered I’m not horrendous at it.
  • I found out I can hit a baseball traveling at 60 mph.
  • I went to multiple Angels games, which is always a good thing.
  • I took Memphis to Disneyland, and it was as awesome as I thought it would be (it’ll be even more amazing when he can actually process whats going on… but it was still amazing).
  • I learned that home isn’t a structure.
  • Jesus has had my forehead against His for the last 7 months… and I know Him better now than I ever have before.

 

The most crucial thing I think we can all take away from this whirlwind of a year is that you can sit and mope in the sorrowful moments (and there is absolutely a time and place for that), you can let yourself be totally defined by your life’s circumstances, and you can let really awful situations dictate the way you will live.

Or you can choose to shift your head and allow your life to be bigger than the negative, because letting yourself be defined by the negative only holds you back, and that’s not the life that Jesus has for you.

 

Yes, 2016 was the fat, mean bully kid who threw up in your hair and then laughed.

But for me, it was the year that I grew up more than ever … it’s the year that I am able to look back on and absolutely say without a shadow of doubt that I became more like Christ… and the year where I sewed in more than I reaped.

The beauty of sewing in means that come harvest time, God honors that work.

 

So back to this morning. At 5:45, I got to wake up from an utterly restless night of sleep with a pounding headache. Annoyed and frustrated I mumbled “Figures that this would be the way the last day of this stupid year would start.”

And instead of just leaving me alone in my pity party, Jesus scooched into my world and said, “Honey, remember this:

‘Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,

or, whine, Israel, saying,

“God has lost track of me.

He doesn’t care what happens to me”?

Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?

God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.

He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.

He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.

And he knows everything, inside and out.

He energizes those who get tired,

gives fresh strength to dropouts.

For even young people tire and drop out,

young folk in their prime stumble and fall.

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.

They spread their wings and soar like eagles,

They run and don’t get tired,

they walk and don’t lag behind.’

Seek the good, Ali. I gave you good things this year…  and I give good gifts, even if they weren’t what you were expecting or asking for. I will sustain you.”

 

So with all that, I’m refusing to live in a world where my life is defined by the difficulty and the struggle. Instead, I’m practicing hunting for the lace in the midst of the dirt… of letting the hard times shake off the dust that covers the beauty… of choosing goodness, truth and beauty over evil, lies and destruction.

 

Just like Lucy and Susan sat in the shrubs and cried as their Aslan was killed…  just like the disciples sat in hidden mourning for a day before resurrection happened… and just like the villains of those stories (both fictional and fact) celebrated their temporary victory… so it is with this year.

2016 is the Holy Saturday of the Redemption weekend… where all hope seems lost and the world is at its darkest.

 

It would be so easy to let the enemy steal my joy, my purpose, and  my grace. It would be easy to let him destroy my life and my heart,  and to give him the space to kill the goodness, kill the lessons and kill the potential.

But he can only do that if I give him room to do so, and I say to hell with him.

Because when it comes down to it, I’m called to be a warrior, not a victim. Hell fears me… not the other way around.

 

I’d rather be defined by my pursuit of goodness, truth and beauty than by the crap that happens to me. I think my little one deserves an example of a relationship with Christ that is vibrant and boundless. He deserves a mom that lives in graceful strength and boldness. He deserves to see someone who chooses to hunt for the good and not settle for being a victim of bad circumstances. And my goodness, the world needs people like that more than whiners and pity party hosts.

 

So, dear reader, I challenge you to hunt for the pearls in this past year. Seek out the good. Find the lessons and learn.

And in the times when your strength wanes, remember the promises in Isaiah. Speak them out, and trust in a God that takes ashes and makes something beautiful.

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That Awkward Moment When Jesus Won’t Do What You Ask


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Dear Reader,

Up until just a few years ago, my grandpa would annually travel to Page, Arizona sometime in the month of November to bring gifts and clothing to the Navajo Indians.

This was a ministry that he had been a part of since my mom was in high school, and it was one that he would include his whole family in as often as he could.

 

When I was about 7 years old, we stuffed my grandpa’s motorhome full of our family and made the journey. On our way back, we stopped by the Grand Canyon so that all of us small ones could experience its grandeur for the first time. It was sometime in late November, so the landscape was splotched with leftover snow, and the bitter cold wind ripped through  the canyon like it was trying to widen its edges.

Little seven year old Ali inched forward toward the edge to peak into the enormous expanse, knowing full well that this place was dangerous, but incredible.

My dad was right behind me (though I didn’t know), making sure that I wasn’t too much of an idiot in how close I got to actual danger.

While I slowly scooched forward, a major gust of wind kicked up and hit me hard, making me feel as though I had lost control of the situation, which obviously meant that I was going to be whipped into the Grand Canyon and plummet to my death (even though I was definitely a good 8 feet away from the actual edge).

I shrieked, and my dad caught my arm to steady me. In an instant, my heart went from believing that I  would die a tragic November death to instant security that my dad gave me.

 

Fast forward to present day.

Being appropriately transparent (as there is much that my heart cannot share), the last month of my life has been one of the most difficult I’ve lived through.

In a span of just mere weeks, my world flipped upside down, shifting from a time of awesome blessing and ease to some of the most challenging days I’ve ever experienced.

 

God is sensational, and sometimes He’ll prepare your heart for the storms that you will face right before you step into them. He absolutely doesn’t have to do this, but in this case of my life, He did.

About six weeks ago, He began reminding me of what following Him looks like. Following Jesus does give you the security of knowing where you’ll go when you die, knowing that He is faithful at all times, and that He loves you recklessly no matter what you do. But following Jesus is not safe. It gives no guarantees for monetary blessing, or constant good health, or that the sun will shine on you every single day of your life.

In fact, let me remind you that Jesus and His disciples didn’t even have the luxury of knowing where they would sleep every night (Luke 9:58). Jesus didn’t have a month long meal plan ready to go; sometimes He would look at the disciples and tell them to handle feeding not only the 13 of them, but also about 10,000 people… and this would happen  in the most inconvenient places at the most ridiculous of times.

What am I getting at?

Even Jesus had it “rough” from time to time (as seen by the world)… so why would following Him promise to look substantially different?

 

So, six weeks ago, He began speaking in about what following Him looks like… how He’s not safe, but He’s good… how there are no guarantees to what the world would deem as happiness in following Him, but there is security in knowing He loves you, that you can trust Him, that He is faithful, and that He’ll be your protector, refuge and strength when the skies begin to get stormy, and that security bring joy.

 

And my little self, being so blissfully ignorant, sighed contentedly and said “Oh yes Jesus, I know. I trust You. Everything will be fine, I know… because You love me.”

Then He pointed to a little tiny cloud on the horizon of my life and said, “Do you trust Me?”

 

The tiny cloud is of course not a threat. The tiny cloud can be created into a game… and is by no means something to fret about.

But sometimes, tiny clouds grow. As the storm builds, that small, insignificant cloud that you imagined looked like a turtle or a dog or a butterfly turns into more of a nightmare.

Sometimes, that tiny cloud grows much faster than you expect it to, and within a matter of what seems like seconds, you are staring into the face of hurricane Katrina.

 

So I nodded, not knowing that the cloud would grow. And He nodded, promising to be faithful if the cloud did grow.

And boy, did it grow.

 

Within the span of a month, I went into preterm labor at 30 weeks pregnant, I have had to do battle against disgusting and slanderous rumors that have been pointed at my little family, I have learned that we have to move yet again and in a tight span of time (all while 8 months pregnant and on the doctor’s order to try to take it easy and not put myself in stressful situations), and have watched Satan take advantage of a small crevice of unknown weakness in our lives and crash through with total devastation.

 

The storm turned into a full on raging hurricane, and I was in the boat rowing, trying to make headway, trying to get through, trying trying trying… and crying all the while (because I am pregnant, after all).  It was and is certainly more than I can handle. Heartbreak, struggle and hardship crashes into you at the worst of moments, and this moment was no different.

In my sobbing and desperate prayers, Jesus whispered, “Look where you are, dearest heart.”

The boat wasn’t near. In fact, in all of my past singing and praising of “Take me deeper! Teach me to trust You more! Show me Your faithfulness! Give me a bigger picture of who You are!” I had stepped out of the boat, and skipped toward Jesus all while the tiny cloud was tiny… but again, that changed with the snap of a finger.

The waves are huge, the wind a force that I have never seen in all of its boldness and terror inflicting rage, the rain so thick you cannot see three feet in front of you… but I’m out here in the mess of it.

And I hate it.

 

I would love to say that I am so far into my relationship with Jesus that I paused in the most holy of ways and said, “Ah yes Lord, I see where I am. Ah yes Lord, this will be good. Ah yes Lord, the storm is no thing at all to fear… robble robble robble.”

I wish I could even say that I stood tall and focused fully on Him, doing all that I could to swallow my fear of being swallowed whole by the angry ocean.

 

But no.

Instead, I cried, and I sank. Instead, I wept bitterly and begged to know why… why now, why this, why at all.

Instead, I clawed for Jesus’ hand as I slipped into the raging waves, begging Him to get me out… to get me back to the boat… to make the storm stop.

And while He held on tight, the storm screamed on. Like my dad did that day alongside the Grand Canyon, Jesus has grabbed my arm to reassure me that He is present in this situation out on the water in the middle of the horror.

 

See, Jesus doesn’t stop the storm when it would make you feel better. It would have been much easier to have a conversation with Jesus about all of this if He had just quieted everything down. It would have felt better if He had just been a little more sympathetic to my fears of the storm.

 

But Jesus has more in mind than my dependence on security, and He certainly has a bigger story planned out than making me feel better.

He’s out to show me that He is God.

He’s out to stretch me in my trusting of Him… do I trust Him? Do I believe that He has my best interest in mind?

He’s in this not to make me see that I have faith to walk on water, but to prove that He is faithful when everything becomes so overwhelming that I can’t even row my boat to where He’s asked me to go, let alone walk to Him completely on the waves.

He’s in this to walk me back to the boat in the midst of the rage and the uncertainty, to care for my heart, to show how much He loves me and cares for me when it feels like no one else can.

He leads me tenderly and gently, even when the water is still picking a fight with my feet.

He hears my crying and answers me, even if the wind still sounds like the screeches of a demon.

He is the warrior that the storm cannot inflict fear into, for He is the might, the rage and the intensity of the storm. Just look at Psalm 18… The Lord is the storm.

 

I don’t know what He’s doing. All I know is I’ve seen Him… I’m feeling Him move. All I know is that we’re in a war, and the opposing side will do anything to destroy what it can for harm and fear’s sake. All I know is that these sorts of battles are won in worship, in prayer, and in faithfulness (2 Chron 20:14-23). All I know is that there is no promise that this is over, or that it won’t get worse, but that God is good and He loves me all the time.

 

The storm? Yeah I’m still very much in it.

Yeah, it’s still scary.

Yeah, I still have no answers to any of the unknowns.

But I’m coming to terms with the fact that Jesus has no intentions of letting me be swallowed up by the storm… only the fullest and purest intention of showing me just how awesome He is and how much He loves me… because it was only after Jesus and Peter climbed back into the boat that the disciples fully understood who they were following, and I expect the same thing will happen to me.

Trust in the Lord and Breathe Through The Contractions


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Dear Reader,

May 27th has proven to be an important/significant/meaningful day in my life, especially over the last 3 years.

3 years ago on this date, Brady asked me about 17 times if I would be his girlfriend. He then approached my dad later that night to ask if he could start dating me (super old fashioned and respectful, which I love), and we officially dove into this adventure that has been our relationship.

2 years ago, he asked me to be his bride, changing everything we had ever known about relationships since it was a stage neither of us had ever reached before.

And yesterday, May 27th, our little one decided they wanted to give their daddy and momma a scare by putting me into premature labor.

*Before we totally dive in, I need to disclaim that everything is fine. The baby is still kicking me hard and constantly from the inside of my belly, and they are happy and healthy. I’m doing fine as well, just a little discomfort still here and there, but apparently that’s to be expected from this point on (no one told me that it’s “normal” to experience 6-8 contractions in an hour when you’re 30 weeks preggers).*

 

I’ve been running into this idea in my walk with the Lord that has begun to challenge me deeply. Following Jesus is the best decision I’ve ever made… but it’s definitely not safe. Jesus promises me the security of being with Him forever, and of being forgiven of my mistakes…  but He certainly doesn’t promise that everything will go smoothly in following Him. In fact, it’s usually in the times when you’re most uncomfortable, most unsure, most afraid when you’re probably headed in the direction that Jesus is leading your life.

Abraham didn’t know where he was supposed to go… yet God continued to tell him to go…. go go go.

Peter and the rest of the disciples didn’t really know what they were getting themselves into by dropping their whole lives (careers, families, social expectations, etc) and choosing to day in day out literally follow Jesus… and it brought them into some really uncomfortable situations. Yet Jesus continually told them, “Follow Me.”

 

Those are the situations where growth takes place.

You need to be uncomfortable to grow.

Remember growing pains as a kid? If you had been able to opt out of those, you’d still be a tiny human that would have a really difficult time seeing over those who did go through those intense growth spurts in their lives.

Just think, concerts would suck so much without those pains…getting things down from cupboards would require ladders… and people would always mistake you for a child.

 

Pain is sometimes absolutely necessary to get you to where you need to be, both physically and spiritually.

 

So back to yesterday (because this does indeed have a flow, I promise).

It’s really a horrifying moment when those practice contractions turn into the real deal when they’re not supposed to.

It’s also super inconvenient to have that happen halfway through your last day of teaching (you know, finals prep day… super good).

But the moment I got off the phone with my doctor, right after hearing the words “I need to you to go to labor and delivery immediately to be monitored… I’m concerned,” I felt about the size of an elementary school student.

I’ve been really fortunate to be one of those pregnant ladies who have barely experienced anything negative with being pregnant.

Sure I’ve had uncomfortable days, but I had no morning sickness, only a few headaches, I’ve been sleeping well (about 90% of the time), I’ve been able to work all the way through, and much much more.

But yesterday was a scare… a place where “what ifs” flooded incredibly fast… a place where I was met face to face with this idea: do I trust Jesus with where He is leading this? Do I believe that He works everything out for the good of those who love Him i.e. me? Will I trust Him if things begin to go horribly wrong? Will I still praise Him in my fear, in my discomfort, and in my unknown?

I definitely didn’t handle it with an enormous amount of grace… I was more of a blubbering mess initially and then constant ball of frustration over the last 24 hours.

 

But this baby has already begun to teach  me so much, reinforcing beliefs I’ve had for a long time, as well as showing me ways where God is growing me and teaching me about His love.

Here are just a few things:

1). Becoming a mom means giving it all, even when you don’t feel you can. I obviously haven’t experienced this face to face with my nugget yet, but I have experienced it physically in pregnancy (through being exhausted, making sure you’re eating right, drinking more water than you possibly think you can, and taking the bench even when you have things that “need to get done” for the sake of the baby’s health and development).

2). Becoming a mom has shown me just how valuable life is… and how early that value begins. Before we even knew I was pregnant, this little one had a heart beat. Shortly after we found out, it already was showing signs of brainwave activity. I never knew that I could love something so tiny and so quickly, as well as become so defensive over a little thing I couldn’t even feel yet. Over this entire process, it’s been awesome to read and see how God knits things together in the womb, and I get to be a part of that story. It’s fabulous.

3). Becoming a mom has reinforced to  me that God’s plans are so much bigger than mine. Yes, Brady and I wanted kids, but we definitely were trying to manage that responsibly.  Yes, some people thought and probably still think that we got into this situation much too soon… and that’s all well and good. But that’s not what God planned for us… and now here we are, 9.5 weeks away (hopefully) from meeting the person that will totally change our world. Besides giving my life to Christ, meeting Brady, and choosing to spend the rest of my life with him, this is the biggest adventure I’ve ever embarked on. It’s horrifying and thrilling all at the same time.

Yesterday really really reinforced this to me… because going into labor on the last full day of school and when I still have several weeks to make it through before I can hold this little one in my arms was certainly not in my plans at all. But for whatever reason, it was in God’s… and it’ll be really interesting to see why, whether its a big reason or a small reason… whether we ever find out or not.

 

4). This experience has caused me to already be on my knees in the Lord’s presence, begging for strength, wisdom, and direction on where He is going… it has challenged me to trust deeply… as well as to begin leading well in relying on Him. I want my kid to know that they have a God that is big enough to handle the most difficult, misunderstood situations. I want them to know that they have a Jesus that is trustworthy… that His faithfulness is a refuge. But I can’t teach those things if I don’t first live them out myself.

5). This whole being pregnant thing has only confirmed over and over that God blessed me with my best counterpart. When Brady and I first started dating, he said to me that I intimidated him because I didn’t need him. But marriage changes you… and I don’t know how I would do life without his love. I find myself needing him more and more every day in every way (in healthy terms, of course). He is my rock, my protector, my comedian, my encourager, and he has quickly become one of my heroes. They say you fall more in love with the man you married as time progresses, but one of those moments when it swells up to new levels is when you see them hold your child for the first time. I’m sure that’s true… but I can confidently say that I have grown more crazy in love with Brady as I’ve experienced how he has cared for me during this season.

 

Even though May 27th is a great day, I’m really glad that Little Redick didn’t make their debut then. I’m also really glad to begin walking into this new season being reminded that I have a God who wants me to trust Him with every little thing. I’m also really glad I have a God who loves me, Brady and this baby radically and will lead us to places we never dreamed possible… they might be scary places, but they will be good, and we will trust Him through every step.

 

 

The Not-Date


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Dear Reader,

In case you were curious, one of my favorite drinks at Starbucks is a Passion Tea Lemonade, no classic, sub Raspberry.

It’s refreshing, it’s just tart enough to hit my love of sour things while not being too overbearing, and it’s reasonably priced for a Starbucks drink.

 

A few days ago, I was browsing through my Instrgram, looking at old posts and enjoying reminiscing over times past… simple things, normal everyday things, and important/life changing things (like getting engaged, getting married, etc).

Some of these photos look insignificant, such as the one below… but a few of these moments are some of the most important moments of my life… such as the one below.

Capture

This post looks an awful lot like a simple, silly, meaningless post including my favorite drink, a rep of my favorite baseball team, and small thoughts… but this moment was huge for me.

 

Catch the scene:

I’m 22.

It’s 90-something degrees.

I’m sipping on my tall Bucks drink, enjoying it as much as the 4 gulps of it will let me.

My leg is bouncing subconsciously due to an enormous amount of misunderstood nerves.

Instagram is my final outlet… my last resort at killing time and calming my butterflies.

 

You see, this picture was taken about 30 minutes before I was hugged tightly for the first time by my future husband… who, at that point, was absolutely and only a friend (in my book).

 

I had very clearly stated that us spending time together that evening was not a date. We had been friends a little while before this, we hadn’t seen each other in about 2 years, and my broken and cautious heart demanded wise and slow movement, even though I was incredibly interested in him.

 

But as I sat and sipped my tea, I had a moment.

This moment had come after I had exhausted all of my options of “killing time”, which was actually more of diverting my attention away from how nervous I was.

I had wandered through Target three times, washed/vacuumed/detailed my car, tested out my engine power on the empty-ish straightaways in Menifee, and more.

But I finally had to sit still and be present with my thoughts:

“Why am I so nervous?”

“He’s just a friend… this is not a big deal.”

“You need to control yourself… put up all of the walls… put up all of the defenses… put up everything to keep this kid out.”

 

This not-first-date came much quicker than I had expected after being only recently single.

It was only two months before this moment that I was in a long term relationship with someone else… someone who had admitted they saw a future with me, and someone I had invested time in.

So in this new season of my life, I believed intensely that the Lord wanted me single. I would do YWAM. I would dive head first into youth ministry. I would be free to be me, and to come and go as I pleased.

 

As you might guess, these raging butterflies were a problem because they threatened the plan.

Brady was a threat to me at that point, because he could mess up what I was so sure was God’s plan for me.

This not-date HAD to be a not-date (in my opinion) because I was still broken and unwilling to let another guy into my life in a romantic capacity.

 

So I’m sitting stalemate with my thoughts and butterflies, waiting for the not-date to begin, and I finally decided to include Jesus in my inner dialog.

I sipped my red drink, and said “Dude, these feelings? They’re not okay. Help me calm down, would You? You know the plan… YWAM… Traveling… Ministry… God, you know it. I know You want me single… so please, for the love of You, shoot the butterflies in the head and help keep me platonic.”

 

And He laughed at me.

 

He whispered gently, “Won’t you just let me give you something awesome? Won’t you just calm down and realize that I’m trying to bless you?”

I sat and stared at my half empty cup for a long time. God’s plans weren’t shaping up to look like my plans in this situation.

The plans I was sure were His may not actually be His, which threatened my heart.

 

So what if this turns into something?

What if he tells me he likes me… what do I say? I can’t say I like him back!

What if we start dating?

What if this crashes into millions of pieces?

What if… what if… what if.

 

And then Jesus, being so good and somewhat annoying, whispered again, “And what if it’s wonderful?”

 

A few minutes later, I had a James Dean look-a-like wandering towards me with an enormous smile and arms wide open for huge hug (probably the best hug I’ve ever been given).

End scene.

 

This picture reminded me starkly that God’s plans for things don’t always line up with our expectations… and thankfully, they usually blow them out of the water.

I’ve learned over the past three years of life that my plans don’t always come close to God’s… and I have a choice to either force my plans and be left wanting OR let God know my heart and my hopes while also letting Him have His way.

Usually, He takes something that I want and makes it so far beyond what I ever imagined I could want.

 

My life story proves to me that God’s plans are always better than my own.

 

Now, I’m married to that man who took me on a not-date.

Now, we’re expecting a little one in August (to the surprise of many), and are so over the moon in love with this little wiggling being.  

Now, we’re seeing God’s plans totally unfold in all of our circumstances… and it’s beautiful.

 

I’m so glad I stumbled upon that old picture… because it reminded me vividly that my plans aren’t always the best for me… and if I push for my plans, I might just cheat myself out of something wonderful.

Triple Shot Espresso Truths


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Dear Reader,

Do you ever need just a quick jolt of truth?

Like an espresso shot for the heart and soul that hits you right in the feelings and knowledge?

I do regularly, and I’ve recently been regularly blessed with truths that are beautiful… some tough, others as sweet as ice cream.

Here are just a few:

  • Chocolate on rainy days is perfection.
  • Repentance doesn’t completely involve me… in fact it almost barely involves me.  My role? “Yes, Lord, I want you.” Boom. Jesus gets the rest and handles it with glory and epic style.
  • Selfishness cheats you out of a worry-free existence.
  • Pride steals true joy and opportunity from you.
  • I don’t need riches or even the tiniest of homes… I am in desperate need of Christ… and I trust that all of these things will be added to my life as I pursue Jesus first.
  • God is a good Father and He gives good gifts to His kids.
  • You don’t marry your soul mate… your spouse BECOMES your soul mate.
  • Marriage gets sweeter, which is the wildest reward for pursuing, pressing on, and remaining vulnerable.
  • God answers prayers. Maybe not always in the way you want or expect (because He’s not a genie) but in the best ways.
  • Where you invest your love, you invest your life.
  • God calls us to reveal His relentless grace to the world, but our comfort zones often get in the way of that.
  • Being a servant of God does not depend on your “readiness” or “ability” but really depends on your willingness and humility.
  • If you don’t have peace, you are not going to stay put when the enemy advances. Peace gives you stability to stand your ground.
  • Be anxious and tied up with worry for no thing… but bring every little thing to the Lord, giving thanks and letting Him know the requests of your heart. This is the cure for the anxiety the world is plagued with.
  • Do what you can, and trust God with what you can’t.
  • Laughter is essential.
  • Goodness is where love and truth reside.
  • Marriage is tremendously more than feelings… if it were based on mere feelings, most marriages would end in either divorce or murder.
  • Greater is the One living inside of me than he who is living in the world.
  • Be still and know.
  • “Did God call me on account of my holy life? On account of my Pharisaical religion? On account of my prayers, fastings and works? Never. God did not call me on my blasphemies, persecutions or oppression. What prompted Him to call me? His grace alone.” – Martin Luther
  • God honors and meets the needs of those who honor Him with what they’ve been given.

I hope these impact you the same way they’ve struck me.

And if not, dwell on this: You are ferociously loved.

I Know A Guy


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Dear Reader,

I have been podcasting a LOT lately. Like once or twice a day.

I have no variety in these podcasts, either.

They are always the same two pastors. One yells a lot and the other talks too quickly for his own good.

Regardless, I am digging 2015 and the ability to experience God’s Word often and in a different way than I would have been able to 10 years ago. I wonder where we will be 10 years from now?

Anyways, I try to take our black lab, Blue, for a walk every day, usually in the morning. He has gotten better at not walking me, and has declared his dominion on almost all of the block that we wander.

This morning fell into the norm. Praying with Brady as he kisses me goodbye before he leaves for work. Rolling over and pretending to fall back to sleep. Finally sitting up (which Blue takes as a summoning to also get up and stretch it out), throwing on a jacket/flannel, jeans and some shoes and emerging into the morning coolness for our 1.5 mile walk.

This morning, I stuffed one earbud into my ear canal and began to take in a message by the pastor that yells a lot. (My current favorite. Apparently, talking at very loud and passionate levels is what I relate with best).

And this morning, as I walked with Blue, Judah Smith’s voice and God, I was hit with this question:

How did I learn Jesus?

Do I know of Him… like I know Columbus or CS Lewis or some ancient Greek figure that I studied in World Civ 1? Do I know of Him like I know of my best friend’s roommate from Arizona that I never met? Do I know of Him like I know of some long lost relative from the early 1900’s?

Or do I know Him?

How did I learn Jesus? When was my first encounter? What was it like? How did that shape my thoughts of Him now?

I joke that I was born in the church. My mom was the daughter of a youth pastor, my father grew up attending church and youth group weekly. They brought (sometimes drug) my siblings and self to church regularly. So regularly, in fact, that I don’t remember many Sunday’s without hugs and smiles from church family.

Yes, I’ve grown up in the church… I’ve known of Jesus for a long time and I definitely now know Him personally, but when did that happen?

And do I really recognize the difference?

If I know Jesus… shouldn’t that make me more loving, more compassionate, more peaceful and joyful? Shouldn’t knowing Jesus change my thoughts and actions? Shouldn’t knowing Him have a cause and effect on the control center of my very being?

Shouldn’t it still me, hold me close, help me to understand and know what it means that He loves me obsessively?

I think sometimes (more often than not probably) I only let myself know OF Jesus.

Knowing of Jesus is a lot easier for a person than actually knowing Him.

Why?

Because knowing of Jesus is a self-improvement plan… it gives me a scale to measure people on… it allows me to love through the lens of judgment and pity. It allows me to earn my way to the pearly gates and hear God slow clap it out for me as He stands obviously flabbergasted at how holy I am for doing all of the right things.

Really, knowing of Jesus is ultimately the most exhausting and ugly way to do life. And the worst part about it is it puts Jesus in a light of stale, boring, religious leader.

Knowing Jesus, however, is horrifyingly amazing. Knowing Jesus brings meaning into life on a level I don’t think it is able to be described in words (at least not in the English language). Knowing Jesus fills you and satisfies you. Knowing Jesus opens your mind and your eyes to things you never thought you could understand or see.

Knowing Jesus allows you to hang out with the most engaging and loving Being in existence…. And not just be with Him, but to experience that He loves you on a level that your brain just doesn’t get.

But knowing Jesus is a lot more difficult than knowing of Him because it leaves you in a place of just being… just abide in Him. Just remain right by His side. Just know that He loves you. Just stay in that.

Don’t look at others, don’t try to do things to impress, don’t earn grace, don’t do anything other than remain in the love of Christ so that you “may be rooted and grounded in love”… healthy, able, stable.

Knowing Jesus is wildly more wonderful…but it’s a lot more risky than knowing OF Him… when you know Jesus, He takes over… you begin praying for others in situations that make you uncomfortable, you begin giving up your money in order to bless others, you go to places that don’t make sense all because Jesus asks you to.

Jesus isn’t safe. But He’s so good.

So, do you know of Him?

Or do you know Him?

Another way to ask: are you searching, wanting and feeling lack constantly even in all of your churching? Or do you find yourself often refreshed, often engaged, often at peace within a relationship?

Think about it.

That Awkward Moment When You Get What You Asked For


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Dear Reader,

I’m almost certain that you’ve heard the statement “Be careful what you wish for.” I’m also almost certain that only a third of your mind believes it to be true, because this statement is known as a cliche…. an overused statement that may or may not be accurate.

This morning is much different than my recent past mornings.

I’m slowly sipping on a home brewed coffee, digging into time with Jesus, struggling to tie back my unruly, bed head inflicted short hair (which is really the worst part of short hair) and taking a moment to enjoy not needing to be somewhere until this afternoon.

It’s a nice intermission, which I’ll explain more about in a moment.

This morning, I happened upon the story of James and John asking Jesus for something that they didn’t fully understand.

The two walk up to Jesus demanding that He fill the role of genie in their life. Jesus says, “Okay… I’ll play… what do you want?”

James and John probably got stoked, “We want to be so important in eternity that we sit on either side of You in heaven and be able to be next to Your awesomeness and have people see us being in Your awesomeness.”

Here’s the thing. Jesus is the most patient GodHuman. Yes He is God… but dude, He was also a man… and as a human being, I would have wanted to throw something at these guys because of how dumb and selfish their request was.

But instead of being like me, I really believe that Jesus gives them the answer to their request. Instead of saying yes, Jesus gives them the opportunity to get to a place where that would be a consideration in the mind of the Father.

You see, James and John wanted the instant fix… the get rich quick model… the no work all play method. They wanted the gold medal for sort of participating.

So Jesus is great (as I hope you know), and He says, “Well guys… here’s the thing… the only people that are going to be able to sit in those spots are the ones that are willing to live a life like I am living, and give up the things that I am about to give up… can you do that?”

James and John probably shared a look of victory and said “Yeah, Lord. We’ve got this… we’re living alongside you right now, so obviously, we’ve got this.”

I imagine Jesus smiling incredibly sorrowfully and sympathetically at this point… knowing where their heart is, knowing where their future is going, and knowing what it was they were actually asking. So He affirms them, telling them that they will follow in His footsteps, but then breaking the bad news that those spots are not His to give up.

Jesus finishes this interaction by diffusing the 10 other disciples that were absolutely pissed off at James and John. He reminds them that a life of service is what makes your life important or valuable. Being a servant to others takes humility, dedication, patience, love and sacrifice… and it is the call to a life that Jesus lived.

I’d guess that James and John probably wouldn’t have asked for those spots if they had actually known the cost of being considered for them… at least not at the point in their lives.

But ignorance is total bliss.

And I’ve been there.

In high school, I remember praying for patience… in waiting for things, in dealing with little sisters, in trying not to fight with my mom.

But my prayer wasn’t asking for actual patience… it was asking for a magic, cure all insta-fix of transformation so that my life could be easier and more enjoyable.

Instead, I was unknowingly asking for specific sanctification.

Instead of finding myself instantaneously able to be patient, I was put in circumstances where I was given the opportunity to be patient. It was like patience weight training and I was a nerd who had very little athletic ability.

I didn’t realize what I was asking for, but I’m glad that the answer was practical and not magical. I’m glad I had work through my issues to become more patient because it builds solid character.

I would submit that this is how God works in every area of discipline… do you need to love more? Here’s a really obnoxious person that is incredibly hard to like, let alone love… do you need to be more self controlled? Here’s an opportunity for you to choose God over what you want to do.

This is life in submission… life dedicated to the Father… life that is centered on Him.

So back to why I’m sipping on a delightful caramel french roast, writing a blog at 8:50am, rocking the pillowface/ozzy osbourne look.

Monday afternoon, I gave my two week notice at a job that has taught me how to be content in the midst of negativity.

Brady (my awesome husband) and I sat on the bedroom floor Friday night as I cried about the frustrations, the negativity and lack of integrity that I was being exposed to at this place I had only recently began working for.

Together, we chose to step out in faith, believing that Lord was in this decision and trusting that He would provide another opportunity.

God is good, and has met us with complete peace in this risky, illogical move.

Tuesday morning, I was approached by my boss and told that he didn’t see the point in me being there for two more weeks, and that I could just leave that afternoon.

Shocking? Yes.

A blessing? Even more so.

The funny thing is that in my day to day walk, I’ve been learning how to be content in the situations I’m not thrilled about… money being tight, a job that isn’t going anywhere, student loans, driving a Kia, not being the adult that I imagined I would be at a younger age.

Asking to learn what contentment looks like was quite similar to asking for patience… the opportunities showed up instead of the virtue.

Now, some of you may be shaking your head, assuming that quitting is not pursuing contentment… and that’s fair, because I was concerned about that too. But here’s where I was wrong: contentment is not a pursuit of misery and being happy in that misery, it is being faithful to find joy in where God has called you.

I can certainly say that I was being called to leave the security of a full time job at a place that was not in the business of pursuing goodness.

Contentment for me now is being joyful while I’m uncomfortable, trusting God for opportunities, and remaining surrendered to Him. And that is that. No more, no less.

So friends, be careful what you ask for… because you might actually be put in a situation that causes you to grow up into the likeness of Christ more than you did yesterday.

That Awkward Moment When Jesus Says Things That Annoy You


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Dear Reader,

Life isn’t always as cookie cutter as we might like it to be.

Sometimes, things go exactly how we hope… all of our expectations are met, all of our self-inflicted concerns are washed away in a moment of completeness, and all of our hopes become realities as we find ourselves living in a fairy tale that Disney would obviously love to create into a multi-billion dollar blockbuster.

But then there are those moments, when all your hopes are hinged on something you believe would be wonderful. And you have faithfully prayed for the thing that your hopes are hinged on… and you faithfully believe that God hears you and knows what’s best for you… and it doesn’t work out.

It is then when Jesus sometimes leans in and says something that is totally obnoxious to your human brain and heart and eternal (but still human) soul.

Sometimes, Jesus leans in and says things like, “Hey,so, do you trust Me?”

I don’t mean this in jest toward the Lord. I adore Him, I respect Him, and I trust Him.

But sometimes, Jesus is a punk… even in scripture. Remember the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda?

Do you remember the audacious words that Jesus flung at him?

This man had been sitting at this pool waiting for his potential turn to touch the water when the angel came and stirred it up… he had been waiting for 38 years. Waiting on faith… but waiting and always being too late to the pool when it came time for healing.

And what does Jesus do?

Does He offer to carry him to the pool when it is time? No.

Does He touch this man to heal him and sing sweet hymns over him? No.

Is He even considerate in His language toward the man? Um… no, it doesn’t seem so.

Jesus first walks up to the poor guy and basically says (in the NAV – New Ali Version), “Hey dude, so… do you want to be healed or what?”

And all I can picture is this 40 year old man looking at this punk 30 year old Man with total annoyed disgust splattered all over his face. His response captures exactly that. Again in the NAV, “Uh yeah Dude… but I’ve been here day in a day out and no fool has helped me… no one has picked me up and carried me into the pool like a good 30 year old person would do if they cared about goodness… you punk.”

And you might THINK that Jesus would be nice at this point… you might THINK that Jesus would say, “Aw man I’m so sorry. I’m just feeling sassy today. I’ll help you out… don’t trip… and I don’t mean that literally… again sorry for the sass.”

But no.

Jesus looks at this man who is incapable of standing up on his own and says, “Dude. Get up.”

Of all the obnoxious things to say to a guy who has experienced paralysis for almost 40 years, Jesus chooses the most socially unacceptable statement.

I don’t know the rate at which this man understood that he had, in fact, been healed… but he obeys Jesus and is so ecstatic about his newly acquired talent for walking, he forgets to even ask for Jesus’ name. Jesus being a master at the Irish Exit vanishes from the scene without any warning.

Has this ever happened to you?

Has Jesus ever been sassy in your life? Because He has been to me.

Have you ever gotten exactly what you hoped for and ran away into the sunset of success, leaving Jesus by the pool of sick people without even so much as a “hey thanks for all the help!” ?

Or, maybe you’ve been waiting by the pool for what is expected and you always arrive one minute too late… everything you’ve been hoping for, longing for and wanting has vanished. Have you ever been there?

Have you ever been in the place where you look up at the sky and frustratedly blurt out “Why couldn’t it have worked out that way, God? Don’t You know that I was praying for it?!  Don’t You know? Don’t You know that I need this?! Don’t You?!”

Because I’ve been there. I’ve been there often. It’s really easy to play the sweet, humble Christian girl and say things like, “Oh yes, I know God’s plan is bigger than mine… God knows better and I trust Him…”

But really, your heart is screaming I’m SO ANNOYED WITH GOD RIGHT NOW BECAUSE HE DOESN’T SEEM TO UNDERSTAND WHAT I NEED.

Sound familiar? “There’s no one to take me to the pool… You don’t understand what I need.”

Really I think it’s in those moments when Jesus is shaking His head and saying, “Dearest Heart, just wait. Just wait because I am doing something better than you expected.”

In the end, the once-lame man is running around telling people that he had been healed by the Nameless Wonder, thrilled about his story, thrilled that it happened another way other than the darn pool that had been his foreground and hope for years.

And Jesus finds him in the temple, introduces Himself and then says “Stop sinning… because the consequences of that are so much worse than laying by a pool in the dirt your whole life waiting to be healed.”

Jesus finds this man to save him. Then, the man goes and tells everyone he can that Jesus healed him fully.

This is so important.

Why?

Because Jesus isn’t into the temporary fix. He isn’t into happy… He’s into Joy. He isn’t into making circumstances right just for the sake of what is right… He’s into making you realize how much He cares about every area in your life so that you understand just how much you need Him.

I love that Jesus is sassy. I love that He doesn’t answer in the ways that I want Him to… because that allows me to become a real person… not a spoiled rotten princess.

Because don’t you know? Rot does not exist in the Kingdom of Heaven, and Jesus refuses to let it infest your soul.

Not getting the answer the way I want it to come allows me to be raw with God… which is something that I think is forgotten about in church culture. Don’t you know that God knows how upset and frustrated you are? Why are you trying to hide that from Him? Don’t you know that you’re His kid, and He wants you to be able to bury your face into His chest with total irritation?

And it also allows me to actually come to a place where I can honestly say and fully believe that I trust God in all things… in my disappointment and in my success.

My Favorite Sibling And Why I Want Four Kids


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Dear Reader,

I was jokingly and snarkily asked a question a few days ago that has made me both laugh and contemplate over the span of then and now.

The question?

“Who is your favorite sibling?”

Silly, right?

Now, I know it’s PC to say that I don’t have a favorite… that they’re all equally amazing in my eyes…. that I simply couldn’t pick or decide who the #1 spot should go to.

And in one sense, that is totally true.

They are all amazing.

But it got me thinking about each of them individually… not to choose my favorite, but to look at their character and their strengths, and admire them as my peers.

I thought I would brag a little bit on how awesome my sisters and brother are.

Let me introduce them to you.

This is Abigayle.

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Abi fully lives up to the meaning of her name (I think we all do, actually. But she probably the most out of all of us). She brings life and joy wherever she goes, provoking laughter with her intellegent wit, bringing deep, meaningful silence to moments that seem chaotic, and great steadiness of soul in all moments.

Her hair is an all consuming force to be reckoned with, and always has been. And she has become on of my closest and most faithful friends, regardless of the fact that we “have to be friends.” She is my adventurer, my comrade, the kind of girl I wish was more like: one who is planted with joy in who she is and not who she is expected to be by the world around her.

Even in light of the constant, daunting question “What are you doing with your life?” she remains steady, holding on at all times (even when the difficulty is suffocating) to the promise that God makes everything beautiful within its time.

She follows Him, faithfully and to what some who don’t understand it label it as, to a fault… leaving the “right” track to serve, to grow, to love and to remain. Not the financially stable route, but honestly, the right route for her.

She is striking and lovely in every way.

This is Adilynn.

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Adi has suffered the most from age-gap-syndrome found in our relationship, and it was only within the last 3 years that I’ve really gotten to peer into the heart of her sweet soul.

I realized quickly that I’ve deeply missed out on growing with a young woman who has such grace in her ways that it often floors me.

She is a classic introvert, as she has created for herself a “cave”, in which she retreats most every day to recharge.

But she is mighty. And she is often loud within circumstance that she finds full of comfort and trustworthiness. She lives in her youth in many ways that we forget to as we grow up… with a sense of wonder, of learning, and laughter. But my goodness, she bring gentle beauty wherever she goes, and is growing into the most amazing model of the proverbs 31 woman.

She is the feather pillow that the three other Selby children need to fall into from time to time to cry or relax or laugh or enjoy. She is the warm cup of hot chocolate after playing in the rain for hours and hours. She is the human embodiment of those fireworks that blow up quietly and float down softly like glitter. She is the owner of the most contagious laughter I’ve experienced, encouraging thoughts that bring more life than a defibrillator and a winner of most children’s hearts. And she has the most beautiful eyes you will ever behold. True story.

This is Austin.

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In the conversation that I recounted for you, he was the predicted “favorite sibling”… which most would probably assume of each of us girls because of how much was adore the kid publically on a semi-regular basis… but if you had him as a brother, you would do the same. I’d bet $200 on it.

He is one of the greatest humans I know, even if he will deny it with frustrated sighing and exaggerated head shaking… but my sisters would probably wholeheartedly agree.

He has more talent, more enthusiasm, and more humor in his left hand than I do in my whole body, and he uses it flawlessly.

His mind and heart are firey. He walks with humble confidence, standing up for what he believes in, discussing difficult topics when needed, pursuing the Lord without borders and loving people better than most middle aged church goers do. He’s probably the best driver out of all of us, and provides the most wonderful safe haven in his presence to anyone who needs it.

He is this odd mixture of an old soul and a young heart… lively and wild, yet solid and faithful.

He is my favorite little brother, always and no matter what.

I can’t pick a favorite, because they all drive me to madness from time to time, as I’m sure I do to them with my loud, opinionated, dramatic self.

But each of them holds a place in my heart that is meant for only them… and I’d sacrifice sleep, money and my right arm for each of them without question.

The four of us make up this amazing unit that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I often find myself thinking how did I get so lucky to have three siblings who love me, challenge me, make me laugh, make me cry, comfort me when I cry, believe in me, pray with me and for me, and do life so well with me that I couldn’t imagine trying to do it without them.

They are why I want a big family… so that my own little ones can grow into amazing relationship with their own family (Lord willing,and through prayers I’m speaking out even now).

They are my favorite.

No question.

Three Things I’ve Learned in “The Honeymoon Stage”


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Dear Reader,

It’s been a minute since I’ve sat down to write down some of the lessons I’ve been bombarded with. Life gets a little intense sometimes, and because of that, I’ve not pursued sorting out my thoughts through words and then publically proclaiming them in this little space of the internet that I get to call mine.

But it’s been a radical few months, with lots of changes, lots of growth and lots of adventure… and so here I am, writing it out.

It’s been 56 days since Brady and I spoke loving vows to each other, promising that we would go hand in hand in this tiny community of matrimony for the rest of our lives. 56 whole days of being Mrs. Redick… which has already been mistaken for Redneck just a few too many times for people with working ears.

Yes, I now get the pleasure of having my first name AND my last name butchered regularly.

We’ve been married for just shy of three months, and it’s been an adventure every day thus far in growing and learning together and individually.

It’s been said that marriage teaches you a few things, and anyone who says differently has obviously never been married.

I’m happy and terrified to report that my expectations of marriage were as close to being true as San Francisco is as close to New York.

Here are a few examples:

1). I’ve slept in a full size bed all by my lonesome for almost ten years. I’ve shared that space only with my dog, who is a bit smaller than me when she is all stretched out in sleep mode. I figured that I would have to adjust to sleeping next to a full grown person… someone who might steal my covers, or side of the bed… someone who might like to be close to me when I desperately need my own space to sleep. Shockingly, I was wrong. I’ve found that I sleep much better with him by my side, even if he does sometimes migrate to the center of our bed and take up my “precious sleep space” that I’ve come to find I’m not so set on having anymore.

2). I didn’t think I would enjoy the responsibility of sometimes getting up early to help my husband get ready for his day. I didn’t think I would like making dinner often. I didn’t think I would enjoy doing our laundry. I especially didn’t think that our house would stay mostly tidy almost all the time (I’m sure this will change once we have our own little ones… but maybe even that expectation will be shattered… who knows really).

But I do, and it does, and it’s really very lovely to realize that I might actually love these new responsibilities that I’ve been given instead of buying into the concept that I am falling into gender specific roles that are defining me and stripping me of my independence and identity.

Not so.

I get to be a wife. It’s a privilege, not a right. Some days, it means getting my hands dirty while cleaning up trash or digging up dirt or fixing my car right alongside the man I get to call my husband. Other days, it means embracing the fact that I have been given the time to take care of the home that we are creating… falling into the awesome fact that I am a girl, and I have been taught how to get stains out of things, how to make killer enchiladas, and how to multitask so that we have a successful day/week/month.

I am wife. Hear me roar.

3).  During our ten month engagement, I experienced a lot of spiritual warfare that I chose to believe was a threat to our relationship… and it was, to an extent. But I think I may have imagined that this would all magically stop after the wedding. Why I thought that, I don’t know… because it’s pretty ignorant.

I’ve learned mostly that the enemy… the toothless lion that prowls around to steal, kill and destroy…. hates marriage. He loves distraction. He loves lies. He enjoys making you feel isolated in a community. He longs to divide, to disband, to sever.

And some days, he’s really excellent at creeping into my thoughts and making an absolute mess.

Some days, he hurts me terribly,… which is not, I think, how a new wife should feel.

But in light of that, I also realize that in the times when he attacks, claws, bites and does his best to wreak havoc and instill fear… I get to proclaim and believe that God has placed me in a marriage that is what He wanted, and that we are going to do amazing things together. I’ve been matched with someone who I have been made for, and he for me. I don’t believe in “the one”… but I do believe that Brady is the Jim to my Pam… that we are perfectly suited for each other in every way, as God designed it.

It’s awesome that God has given me to someone who I am able to confide in, someone who is willing to not just listen, but to lead and help fight the enemy in my moments of weariness.

I’ve been blessed with a man who is my warrior… someone who will fight for me and alongside me. He not only claims that title in my life, but he is also my gentle protector… a shepherd-like figure, if you will. Someone who wraps me up in safety, gets me out of my head when I’m cloudy, makes me laugh so often, and provokes growth in me by challenging my walk with the Lord, my mind in intelligence, and my heart in integrity.

56 days of being Mrs. Redick… and I’m sure if I sat down for a day or so and remembered each day well, I could say with confidence that I have learned 56 different lessons, if not more.

But mostly I think the very best lesson that I’ve learned is that marriage is not a mold that you fit yourself into…. It is a process of taking two individuals and teaching them what it means to become a single entity through a lifetime of serving one another in unconditional love. That looks different for every single couple.

It’s not for the faint of heart, and I won’t lie and say it’s been easy, but I’m so glad that we’re here in this holy place of pursuing love and doing life together as husband and wife.

The end to the newly-wed rant. Carry on as you will.