Engage Life

In honor of Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month, I am posting a blog that I wrote just two days after burying my second daughter, Madison. It was never published so I thought this month would be a perfect time to do this. I pray as we engage life through God's peace that we are able to truly live to be all He created us to be!

8/5/2016

Engage Life so that you don’t give up on it (John 10:10)

This is what I heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart as I listened to my pastor, Chris Hodges, dissect what it means to have a meaningful relationship with the Holy Spirit. As a part of his second point, he explained how the Holy Spirit speaks most often in settings such as the one we were in. He mentioned that if we paid attention we would hear the Holy Spirit speak even while he completed the message. I have experienced this a number of times but today I was desperate to hear a special word from the Holy Spirit.

You see, just two days ago my husband and I buried our second daughter in a thirteen month time period. My life feels empty and confusing as I try to understand why God has allowed this to happen yet a second time. I don’t get it, but the only thing I do get is that God is the only one who does. Although the tragic events my family and I have had to experience over the past two weeks seem completely anti-God, I have a peace that He still has us. In my natural mind, I raise questions like:

·         Why are we going through this yet another time?

·         Did we disobey you in some way to deserve this?

·         Why don’t my daughters deserve to live?

·         Will I ever have a pregnancy where my baby live and I get the opportunity to raise them?

And they continue…..                                      

With these questions,however, I’ve found peace in knowing a few things:

·         God has not forgotten me. He is still on my side

·         He can take my questions and is close to the broken hearted. As I lean into Him, He leans into me and I gain further peace

·         He has not forsaken me. Even though I don’t understand and may never understand why this keeps happening, I do know that God is good and my joy is founded on this fact. And this joy is my strength

See, what I feel naturally is the temptation to give up. I want to give up on having children, give up on fulfilling my purpose, give up on growing in Christ. I simply don’t want to keep trying because as hard as I tried with the second pregnancy naturally and spiritually to be on point it still wasn’t enough. 

But Jesus said, " Peace I leave with you” and thus I feel God pursuing me with His peace.. Peace that sometimes I don't even want. Sometimes I detest it. You see, naturally it feels that if I accept this peace, I am accepting that what has happened to me is ok or that I’m ok with not having the questions I have answered..and I’m not. I’ve spent a few days rejecting this peace but I have finally decided to accept it because what I know is that this is a peace I have experienced before and in accepting it I find safety and direction.

You see,this same peace is what caused me to attend a university that I never wanted to go to only because I felt this peace. This same peace prompted me to fearlessly transition from full time to part time in my position as a Physical therapist Assistant only to voluntarily run my nonprofit with no idea where income would come from. This same peace caused me to take a leap of faith and try to get pregnant again after losing a daughter at twenty weeks gestation just last year.

See, the peace I feel God offering is familiar. I don’t want it sometimes because the natural side of me wants answers yet my spirit yearns for it and I feel strengthened as I take baby steps towards it.

So, for these reasons I choose peace. Although I’m not sure how I will make it pass today. I choose to walk in peace and obey what I heard the Holy Spirit say during church. I choose to engage life so that I don’t give up on it. Jesus came to give life and the enemy came to take it. Regardless of the questions that continue to scroll through my mind, I choose to engage life. I choose to go harder after my purpose and receive the gift of peace that God has given me. My oldest daughter’s name was Niya which means “purpose” and my second daughter’s name was Madison which means “gift from God”. So, I choose to live for the purpose God has given me but this can only be done by accepting the peace He is offering me.

I encourage you to do the same. No matter what life is bringing your way. CHOOSE to engage life. Go after what God has put in your heart. If it doesn’t work out the way you think it should, allow God’s peace to direct you onto a new path. But please, never give up!  God will carry you if you let Him!, but

“God’s grace is sufficient to carry you through”.

I would love to hear how you God’s peace is carrying you! Please comment below!

#peaceonpurpose

Pressing Forward But Not Forgetting

It’s 6:05am on 7/7/16 and I can’t help but reminisce about what I was doing exactly a year ago today. At 6:05am on 7/7/15, I was lying in the hospital wondering if I was dreaming. Only about four hours prior, at 1:46am, my very first child, my baby girl Niya Alise Hogan, was born. I remember the moment like this:

They passed her to me first. Due to exhaustion and disorientation from prior pain medication, this moment is foggy but I remember. I remember her face, her slow breaths, and mostly how she snuggled close to me. A few moments later, I reached to give her to her daddy who stood with the same amazement. As he held her, she snuggled close to him but my fondest memory is her grabbing his finger. He smiled in a way I’d never seen him smile before. His smile was like he was saying “ I love you so much and am so glad you’re here” and “I’m so afraid that you’re here so early; please be ok” all at the same time.   I know my husband’s love but at that momentNiya stepped into a special place in his heart different from what I’d ever experienced. He was a daddy and he was in love in way that is indescribable.

But, unfortunately at 1:52, once she was back in my arms I heard the worse words I’d ever heard, “I’m not getting a heartbeat.”  I knew what that meant but for whatever reason it didn’t hit me. Possibly due to the medication side effects but the disorientation felt different this time. The feeling was peaceful. I heard her but I felt covered. It was as if God was shielding me from the affects of what that statement meant. All I could do was look at her and tell her I loved her. So, that’s what I did until they took her from my arms. I said, “I love you baby.”

 

So today, 7/7/16 I continue to say, “I love you” . You see, I’ve spent the past 365 days finding ways to say this. Whether it was by wearing a necklace with her baby ring  on it or sharing an infant loss ribbon on social media, I’ve endeavored to move forward with my love for her in mind and the meaning of her name in my heart. You see, Niya was not just a cute name we found on a baby website. It was selected uniquely for her. In Swahili, Niya means “purpose” and before we ever knew her gender God told us she’d be a girl. So, with this level of intent given to us by our Father, we knew we always wanted her to reflect  what she was created for, a unique “purpose”.

So today we say “ I love you” but in a different way. As we move into this new year, we choose to press forward with this in mind. Our journey from this time last year, has taught us so much. There is no way for me to share it with you at a reasonable length in this blog.  It has been so much! I will share more of my thoughts later but today I will simply say “I love you” by sharing with you the tenacity that has been renewed in usfor our  purpose since her birth. The day after she was born, her dad and I spent our last moments at the hospital making a list of what she taught us. As I reflect on this list today, I’d like to share with you the last statement we wrote. It says,

”Purpose has nothing to do with time, but everything to do with the value you give to your life.”

So since that day, we have pressed forward placing more emphasis on the value of the lives God has given us. We have made more intentional decisions regarding our purposes and have chosen to press forward. Not just move forward, but “press” forward. It has and will continue to be a journey that will require great trust in God and we choose to allow His glory to be shown as we intentionally press forward towards the high callings He has given us.

If you are reading this, first I’d like to say thank you for taking the time to share this moment with us. We solicit your continued prayers and agreement for peace and strength. I hope this will encourage you as well to be intentional with your purpose. Whatever God is calling you to do, do it. But please don’t do it because you want to be a good Christian, an example for others, or fulfilled in this life. Do it because the Creator of us all desires a closer walk with you. He wants intimacy and the only way He can get that is through your communion with the Holy Spirit. As you follow His leadings, He will develop you into the person He created you to be from the beginning. But again, He is doing this for His glory. Let His glory be shown simply for His glory to be shown.

Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he has planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:9-10

Live Intentionally for Him!

 

A Letter to Niya Alise

So today, Niya Alise, I say “I love you” again by telling you thank you! Your life was and continues to be a blessing to us and so many others. We can’t wait to share it with your siblings, one of which will be arriving very soon on 12/12/16! We embrace this stage of transition with you in mind everyday! We are so excited to tell him or her about you! Today we will celebrate you like we know you are celebrating in Heaven! God is still good and we are trusting Him!

Your legacy will never be forgotten but illuminated for all to see!

I love you!  #TheLegacyofNiyaAlise 

Goodbye For Now!

Goodbye For Now!

Hello everyone!

I want to apologize for not posting for the past three weeks. This pregnancy is  requiring more and more  schedule adjustments and I believe it is best for now that I refrain from attempting to posting regularly. It is my desire to reopen the blog conversation at some point but I am learning that in purpose their are seasons and my season for writing blogs, at least for now, as ended. 

Adjustments

Adjustments

This week has been all about adjustments! Since my husband and I bought our home two years ago, we have not had a chance to have our extended family over all together. I really wanted to make this happen before our little one joins us so we planned a potluck for Memorial Day. But I had to make a decision before I decided officially to plan the party. I had to promise myself that I would only cook if I felt up to it and really had time. Because I am a recovering perfectionist when it comes to my home and entertaining, this was so hard for me! Cooking is another favorite of mine and I really enjoy sharing it with my family and friends when we entertain. However, as I learn to adjust to my new normal I have to make myself only commit to doing what is reasonable. My wonderful husband had agreed to grill whatever I bought and I needed to just relax and let that be our “potluck item” to add to the others instead of trying to be Mrs. Chef.

Exciting News!

Exciting News!

Well everyone! My sincere apologies for my month delay in posting! If you follow me on social media you know the reason for my abrupt silence. If not, I am SO EXCITED to announce that my husband Nick and I are expecting our first baby!!! God is so awesome and we are honored to have the opportunity to raise a child for His glory!!!

 

What Are You Facing!?

What Are You Facing!?

So many times when are consumed by the negativity of this world. Today I want to simply encourage you with the statement “be of good cheer God has overcome the world”. As believers, it is vital that we keep this on the forefront of our minds. Our days are consumed with other’s opinions, the media’s view of what our lives should look like, and our own preconceive notions of how our lives should be better. But in light of ALL OF THAT I want you to STOP……and be of good cheer, God has overcome the world!

 

The Best Apps to Prioritize Productivity

The Best Apps to Prioritize Productivity

Are you a productive person? Do you get a lot done when you set out to accomplish a task or does it seem to take you forever to finish the task? Productivity can be a difficult topic as many of us have varying opinions of what is deemed as productive. But what I do believe we all can agree on is that the definition of being productive is checking tasks (big or small) off a to do list in a reasonable time. However, this can be difficult! There are so many things that call for our attention that seem like them have to be done immediately. But in order to move to the next level you must do one key thing: PRIORITIZE!!!

Top 3 Reasons Vacations Are so Vital!

Top 3 Reasons Vacations Are so Vital!

Recently, my husband Nick and I went on a weekend long vacation to Orange Beach. Some would say that a weekend is not long enough to be considered a vacation but I beg to differ. The purpose of a vacation is for you to separate yourself from the normal routine in order to have a break. This word “vacation” has synonyms such as the words “escape” and “retreat”. As people of purpose, it is vital that we permit ourselves to escape from all that we immerse ourselves in as we discover and fulfill our destinies. Here are three reasons why:

Working to be better!

Today's blog post is unique to the others as I am interested in gaining your feedback on what you've thought of this blog thus far? As I approach the two month mark of blog posting, I want to ensure that you are enjoying the content that is being put out! Please leave candid feedback. This blog is for you!

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#walkinginpurpose

It’s Monday! :) Or It’s Monday. :(

It’s Monday! :)  Or It’s Monday. :(

It’s Monday! Let the dreadful remarks and statuses roll!

 Many people HATE for Monday to roll around because it means that they have to once again endure the job that they hate waking up for each day! Thus we walk into work with a half smirk just to be cordial and continually blame all our mistakes and disgruntle attitudes on the fact that (say it with me..) “It’s Monday!” Why?

 This attitude is a result of being discontent. There are several reasons one can become discontent but I want to address two of them and help you greet Mondays rathe than hate them:

Timing is EVERYTHING!

Timing is EVERYTHING!

As we endeavor to fulfill our purposes, we race around day after day checking items off our to do list doing our best to ensure that we are progressing. We say, “ I have to get this done!” and “I’m so behind! This just can’t wait!”. This type of mindset forces us into overdrive and pushes us to accomplish all we have thus far. But sometimes I must admit that it is better to say, “Let’s hold off” or “Let’s scale back” than to continue pressing forward. As a person who is dogmatic about fulfilling her purpose, this is hard to admit. But nonetheless it is the truth! If we continue to move forward at what we perceive as the only speed there is, we will inevitably fail. Why?

Jesus Our Savior

Jesus Our Savior

What does it mean for Jesus to be our Savior? The word savior comes from the root word “save” which means to preserve and set aside for a specific purpose.

 When Jesus came to this earth that is exactly what He set out to do! His plan was to preserve you as you walk through this natural world and set you aside for a specific, unique purpose.

Stand in Confidence!

Stand in Confidence!

Confidence is the product of being assured and secure in who you are as an  individual. When we are confident, we talk differently, walk differently, and even LOOK differently! Why? Because confidence breeds altered focus! When we are confident, our focus is entirely on the external.  No longer do we have to focus primarily on ourselves as we interact with others—that’s what insecure people do. Because we are confident, we shed the opinions of others easily and securely exude who we really are without hesitation.

What Is Your "Why"?

What Is Your "Why"?

As we operate in life and endeavor to walk in our respective purposes, there is inevitably a “why” to what we do. Very rarely, if ever, do people do things just to be doing them. Whether good or bad, typically our “why” fuels us to maintain the commitments we have. For this reason, I challenge you to examine your “why” for every major commitment you have in every area of your life—physical, mental, social, financial, and spiritual. Why are you loyal to the respective commitments in each area? What is your “why” for each responsibility? Are you apart of that ministry at church because you were led to by God or because a friend needed help and you thought it wasn’t a big deal?