when it is not well with my soul

"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrow, like sea billows, roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
'it is well, it is well with my soul.'"

We take for granted the rivers until we're being tossed in the sea billows.

We're oblivious to the peace until the sorrow pours onto us.

The biggest lie the enemy uses against Christians is that we are promised a life of peace and when we are in a season of sorrow, it's our own faults. That if I'm a Christian (or worse, a pastor's wife) I'm not "allowed" to go through dark days. Or if I am going through sea billows, I have to keep my mask on while fighting for my life.

Can I just blast that lie and send right back where it belongs?

Friends, family, brothers and sisters,
it is not well with my soul.

But just as He taught me,
I will say, "it is well with my soul."
I will chant, "it is well."
I will weep, "it is well."
I will whisper, "it is well."
I will scream, "it is well with my soul."

Because in my sorrows, in the midst of fighting my sea billows, I cannot hear the truth. I am deaf to the truth. I am unable to save myself.

But because in my peace, in my rivers, I absorbed His truth, I hid His truth in my heart,
I can say, "it is well with my soul."

I may not believe it at first, as the waves crash down over me.
"It is well with my soul."
When I can barely keep my head above water,
"it is well with my soul."

When it is not well with my soul, I still have to SAY it.
I have to chant it.
I have to weep it.
I have to whisper it.
I have to scream it.

Because there's truth in those words. I'm suffocating in my sorrows, but He is still God. My soul is well because He won't leave me in these sea billows. Trials will come, but the clouds will be rolled back. I don't have to believe it in those first few moments, but the truth becomes an anthem in my heart and my sorrows become peace once again.

"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrow, like sea billows, roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
'it is well, it is well with my soul.'"


"hello, zoo!" (a video)

The best evenings are spent at the zoo, waving at everything, with your people.


fall day

If you know me at all, you know I love taking pictures. And since having Emmerson, my obsession has grown even more. I refuse to apologize, though, like I see so many people do. Taking and posting pictures of Emmerson helps me collect all the memories (since I clearly have lacked blogging!) It also sparks my joy. I'm an advocate for joy sparking. You want to post 10 pictures a day of your dog? Do it. Wanna talk about hunting or sports every single status? Do it! Spark your joy, baby!
I digress. 
Sometimes when taking pictures, I get a whole set that make my heart melt. 
Today was full of the perfect ingredients to make these yummy pictures.
Cool, Tennessee Fall day.
Green, green grass (thanks to the amazing thunderstorms all weekend.)
Bright yellow blanket.
Big baby sun hat.
And of course the cutest little monster baby you ever did see.

I didn't know how much I loved tiny fingers holding on to big hats until I saw these pictures.
Oh, sweet baby love.


sunflowers in tennessee

I know you didn't have a choice but to grow where you were planted,
but thanks for growing up in my neck of the woods, sunflowers.
Even with a sleepy/cranky baby, 
you sure brightened our day!

Happy Tuesday!


pandas and prayers

Almost 2 years ago, I bought this panda.
To most, it could have been called a silly purchase.
I'm too old for stuffed animals
and I didn't have any kids of my own.
What I did have was a hopeless longing.
A secret battle of infertility.
Doctors said no, along with the voices in my head.
And I had to fight to hear the voice of truth.
I bought this bear to physically grasp my heart's desire.
For months I clung to him as I cried and prayed.
When the tests turned positive, and a little one was on their way,
my prayers changed.
I cried and prayed for the chubby fingers that would one day hold him.
My heart smiles when I see Emmerson playing with her panda.
She kisses (chews) his ears
and spins him around by his legs.
She tells him (loud) secrets 
and gives him hugs that make me jealous.
The one I desperately prayed for with the one I fervently prayed over.
Her special bear.


girl talk

My sweet girl turned 6 months old yesterday.
(And sometimes she wakes up 13 and practices her sassy side.)
She's sitting by herself, eating baby food, playing independently, all the fun things.
But her favorite thing to do is "talk."
She's finding her voice and while we don't yet know what that will sound like, 
we do know it will be loud
Homegirl does not have a gentle inside voice.
And, because she feels everything SO big 
(like her Mama) 
you know when she's happy and you know when she's mad.
My favorite moments are spent "talking."
She's mostly more interested in my necklace, 
or the remote behind me, 
or the phone above me,
or the puppies beside me,
or the funny face on me,
but goodness gracious, 
I cherish these talks.


challenges of living simply

I'm over a month into my journey on minimalism.
While I wish I could say I finished the house in one weekend,
that's proving to be impossible with a 4 month old.
(She's a demanding one. But oh so cute.)
With the help of Daddy-Daughter dates, 
I've been able to tackle small portions at a time.

Along the way, as with every new adventure, there have been some challenges.

First (and most prominent), I'm married to an "organized hoarder."
I say organized, because he's clean and keeps legitimate items,
but it's hard for him to let things go.
That cup I acquired from dorm life?
Gotta have it.
It's his favorite.
Do we have other, nicer, cleaner, newer cups?
But he needs that one.
(Love you, I do!)
And it may not always be a cup, 
but it's usually something here or there that we have to stop and evaluate.
I have to understand that this is my "ah ha!" moment and not necessarily his.
"Lauren, I love you and this whole minimal thing, but it's not me."
It's a give and take, and more often than not, 
he's so sweet and willing to let me do my thing.
(But you betcha he's got his cups.)

The other challenge I've come across is simple vs. empty.
I'm de-cluttering our rooms, wall space, furniture, etc.
But does that mean everything should be empty?
To live simply, we have to live empty?
I'm learning to find the balance without going against my interior designer mind.
For me, this is all leading to a happier, less stressful environment that provokes comfort and in turn declutters my mind and life.

So, no.
Simple doesn't mean empty. 
It means evaluating everything. 
Do I need this _____?
Do I use this _____?
How long have I had this _____?
Does this _____ serve a purpose?

If the answer is mostly "no's," 
put it in the yard sale pile.
Because, oh yeah, there's a major yard sale coming.
(And who doesn't love a little extra cash in the bank?)

With the kitchen mostly finished, I'm excited to share some pictures soon!


my must list (minimalism update)

The first thing anyone should do before drastically changing their lives is check their heart.
The past month or so, God has brought my anxiety to the forefront of my mind.
Little things, big things, stupid things, anxiety has always been my biggest companion.
Having Emmerson rocked my world in more than one way.
Suddenly the little things didn't matter anymore and the big things mattered even more.
I ventured into the world of minimalism because I needed to de-clutter.
Not just physically, but mentally.
I needed to let go of the expectations, the worry, the stress.
(Along with the excess clothes, furniture, and "stuff.")
So, here I am.
Starting with my "must list."

I must be healthy. Emmerson, my husband, and my future kids deserve me at my best. I must eat right, exercise, and treat this body with respect.
I must de-clutter. I don't need a closet full of clothes or 50 coffee mugs. That's just more to clean, more to wash, more that collects dust.
I must be joyful. Deliberately choose joy in all situations.
I must drink water. Because, it's water.
I must turn it off. Social media can clutter my mind with comparisons and bad news, turn it off. TV can replace good conversation with my husband and distract me from Emmerson, turn it off.
I must live in the moment. Today is the only today I get. My baby is only getting older and I don't want to miss out. I must be intentional with my life.



Recently, I've stumbled into the world of minimalism. 
I've researched, read blog after blog, and I'm so drawn to the idea of "getting rid of the unnecessary to focus on the important."
I've come to learn that it's deeper than the "less is more" mentality.
It started with my closet, which was once overflowing but now holds 5 shirts, 5 dresses, and a few sweaters. 
Brandon and I have spent the last few nights purging our bedroom.
(The place the mismatched furniture calls home.)
The first night, we put our spring board and mattress on the floor.
Removing the massive bed frame, a book case, and small drawer, I could breathe a little better.
Our curtains, thick and dark, came down and were replaced with airy, flowing curtains.
This morning, I woke up with the sunlight in my room, refreshed and calm.

I don't know how far this journey will take me, but I feel it will overflow into the living room, the kitchen, and even my lifestyle.
How many unnecessary things fill my mind and keep me distracted from what's important?

I'll likely continue to journal this transformation, feel free to join me.


joy filled friday

 1 tummy time profiles (those cheeks! those lips! that nose!) 2 baby wearing (sollybaby all the way!
3 clean bottles (such an ocd satisfaction) 4 getting healthy and losing the baby weight/pre baby weight (35 pounds down!) 5 full nights of sleep (8pm-6am. sweet, precious, blessed child of mine!) 6 kroger brand kettle chips (ob-sessed.) 7 gel manicures 8 decorating/repainting everything white 9 emmerson's getting her first cousin (come on, Everly!) 10 brother's getting married (pretty sure I'm more excited for this than I was for my own wedding!)

Happy weekend, y'all!


my happy place

At least once a day,
I get to spend some time in my happy place.
A place where nothing else matters
and time slows down.
My baby girl in my arms.
Unable to fight sleep
because she feels safe and comfortable there.
Sock monkey close by, of course.
Tiny fingers on my chest, 
holding on to my necklace.
Little breaths,
in and out.
Pacifier just a-going.
In our comfiest pajamas,
 wrapped in our sunniest blanket.

My happy place.



we put on nice clothes,
did our hair,
(mama even did her face)
and we got OUT of the house!
It was a beautifully sunny day
after 2 days of rain,
so we decided to take some family pictures.
Emmerson is a mostly cheerful little girl, 
but the sun was a little bright
and she was ready for her nap.

Good to see you, Saturday!
Come again real soon.


emmerson's birth story

I spent 4.5 hours (collectively) trying to write out Emmerson's birth story here on my little blog.
I kept typing and deleting.
Typing and deleting.
She turned 3 months old today and already her first few moments are getting foggy in my mind.
That's one thing I'm terrified of,
forgetting the tiny details.
Thankfully, I'm a writer and I've been journaling in her book ever since she was born.
But I love reading birth stories,
and I love her birth story so much, 
I thought it'd be easy to type it out.
Maybe it's my allergy medicine messing with my mind,
or maybe it's the lack of sleep,
but I just couldn't do her story justice.
So, I thought I'd share it through pictures.
My mom and Husband were able to take these and I cherish them so much.
Emmerson's birth story can only be described like this:
It was a beautiful, intimate, overwhelming experience
and I can't look at these photos without feeling nostalgic for those first few moments 
with my new family of three.