Freedom

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I entered 2013 with the blind excitement that God wanted me to use my gifts. To let my light shine. I didn’t know how, but I knew I had to trust Him.

I have a need to create, to design. It is deep within me and had been stifled for many years as my life was in survival mode caring for three babies, then toddlers. I started the year by praying that He show me His plan. And while I waited for an answer, I started creating.

And His plans were much greater than I could ever imagine. He surprised and encouraged me at a Rend Collective (my fave) concert at our church last spring. When the girl sitting behind me tapped my shoulder, complimented my bag (which I had made hours before the show), and asked that I make one for her. My first sale. Quickly thereafter, a friend ordered 9 bags. The orders continued and Ginger Lane was born.

This fall, my small group of amazing, God-loving sisters started the Breaking Free study. Life changing is an understatement – and we’re not even finished! So my prayer and focus of 2014 is freedom. Freedom the enemy’s lies that I’ve let keep me captive. Freedom from false fears that have held me back. Freedom from short-term comforts and idols that ultimately betray. My eyes and heart are focused on the Truth. The Truth that I am a beloved child of God, that He sees me as perfect (not with all these self-imposed flaws), and that my unconditional love, value and worth comes from Him.

A few days ago I was filling out Lara Casey’s Powersheets, when she asked what my greatest fears were and why. Out of habit, I wrote that I was afraid of failure and rejection but then was able to write LIE in the columns next to why. I can’t honestly say that I’m afraid of failure and rejection because it means I’m not worthy or talented or loved or anything. That’s a lie! Even if I “fail” by worldly standards or am rejected, who cares? My worth does not come from the world. My only goal is to glorify God by being the person He created me to be. Freedom.

With freedom, I am fearless.

Ready

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As I wrote out my big dreams & crazy ideas for my new business, Ginger Lane, it hit me. I’m ready. I’m finally ready.

Psalm 40 starts, “I waited patiently for the Lord, He turned and heard my cry.” But I realized, in these times where I thought I was waiting on God, He was actually waiting on me. He has been waiting on me to say, I trust you. You got this. He doesn’t force Himself on us, He doesn’t force us to love Him or glorify Him. He waits on us. He waits for us to open our hearts and accept His invitation. We have to stand up and say we’re ready.

God put these crazy big ideas on my heart. And I’m giddy to do my part and follow His lead. I’m ready for God to do amazing things through me.

I’ll share more about the crazy ideas as they progress.

“Let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me”

Having just returned from The Influence Conference, my soul is nourished, my heart is lifted. A conference based on building community, ironically, I didn’t know anyone going into it. Anyone in “real life”. But that quickly changed.

It was beautiful. Beautiful how souls were shared. Hugs were given. Prayers were said. Hearts were lifted.

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A few of the many ways my heart was healed, my soul was encouraged…

The lies we hear from the world and let ourselves believe: your voice is worthless, nobody loves you, you are not seen, your gifts aren’t as good as others, that value is determined by someone other than God. Lies! Jesus is enough. We are so loved.

God did not give us gifts, just to take them away.

Fill the unknown with faith, not fear.

Don’t invent enemies.

My dream, my gifts, are a gift from God. I am a Steward of a Dream. To use. To pursue. If I let fear & lies take over so I don’t follow it, I’m being unfaithful. Believe this, friends. Don’t be idle and let your dreams fade.

God doesn’t say “follow your dreams”. He says Follow Me. Align your dreams with God’s will, God’s plan. It’s not about how many followers I have. It’s about me following God’s will.

Sole Hope Party at InfluenceOver 250 women tracing & cutting shoe patterns for Sole Hope the first night.

Ginger Lane at Influence ConferenceMy Ginger Lane clutches in the Market. I set out notecards & pens for people to write encouraging notes to the girl we sponsor through Compassion. Child sponsorship is at the core of the Ginger Lane Mission. I can’t wait to send the notes to our child!  Ginger Lane photoshootOne of the highlights of the weekend was the photoshoot for my Ginger Lane products.

Ginger Lane photoshootMegan photographed, Kristin & Brittany generously agreed to model. I am giddy & encouraged & blessed.

Influence sistersThe other highlight? These amazing women. My sisters in Christ. From the left, Rachel, me, Kathleen, Jennifer, Jenny, Amanda, Whitney, Lena, Tawny, & Katie.

SunriseThe gift of taking a 6am flight home was viewing the sunrise from the sky. My Spirit worships while viewing God’s natural creation. I kept thinking about how He created all of this. All of us. And imagining all of the people below and how He knows and loves each of us individually. That Jesus died on the cross for each of us, individually.

I am home: refreshed, challenged, overwhelmed, encouraged. With Hillsong’s “Oceans” on repeat in my heart from our worship:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”

Going to Influence…

Many of you know I’m headed to the Influence Conference in Indy in just two week. Two weeks! Did you all just feel my blood pressure rise? Not out of nerves, but because I have So. Much. To. Do. I’m overwhelmingly grateful that I get to sell my Ginger Lane foldover clutches at the Sashes Market at the conference. Folks, this Ginger Lane business started with lots of prayers and God working through a stranger at a concert. And here I am, sewing and sewing and sewing to get the bags ready for these amazing women at the Influence Conference.

What am I bringing?

1A courageous & fearless spirit. My inner introvert is questioning why I’m going to a conference, by myself, where I know no one. But I feel like I know you all. You are my people. And I apologize now when I can’t remember names and blogs and previous conversations we’ve had. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you. I can’t even remember what I had for lunch.

2 Lots of these…

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What am I looking forward to?

1The Sole Hope Shoe Cutting Party kickoff! As a Sole Hope Ambassador, I’m out of my mind excited for this. Not only do I get to finally meet a few fellow Sole Hope-rs, but we get to share our passion with everyone from Influence. So excited.

2Connecting. Connecting with people I’ve only “met” online, yet I already know their hearts. My sisters in Christ. In a worldly sense they are strangers, but in The Body, they are sisters. Now I just can’t wait to finally, properly meet them. And if you’re worried that you won’t know anyone and you’re nervous and scared, I’ll tell you right now that I will notice and I will befriend you.

I can’t wait. Influence friends, here’s how to find me. Though I won’t be handing out waters & cookies. (Wouldn’t it be great if I were?)

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Celebrating life (How I nearly died & met Jesus)

Today, my three boys turned 6! Their birthday, this milestone, always floods me with overwhelming emotions. I’ve touched on parts before, but here is the whole story…

I remember the joy.

After a long road to parenthood, we were shocked and laughing when we saw the three beautiful heartbeats of our boys. But we were the only ones rejoicing. The doctor’s conversation went as such, “I see one heartbeat! I see another! Oh My God, I’m So Sorry I see a third heartbeat. We’ll have to discuss if you will reduce one or two of them.”

We stood firm for our faith and chose to not follow the doctors’ advice. I couldn’t imagine not keeping all three.

The pregnancy was…uncomfortable. Three babies and their placentas filled every inch of my short torso. I would’ve carried one on my back if I could have. After weeks of bedrest and the beginning stages of pre-eclampsia, the boys were born. With my head on a bag of soil. Pure joy. The room was packed with people. Folks lined up against the walls just to watch a triplet delivery. Each boy had their own station and team of 3-4 NICU nurses. It was quite a celebration. We made it to 34 weeks and each boy was over 4 lbs.

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(See my pillow? It was important to my husband that the boys “be born on Virginia soil”. So there it is.)

I remember the downturn.

From the operating room, the boys were immediately brought to the NICU and I was brought back to my room to recover. I see photos of moms holding their babies after their born and my experience couldn’t be more different. I was able to see them and kiss them, and then they were whisked away. Little did I know that I would not be able to see them for another 36 hours.

I remember being in and out of consciousness. I remember feeling tremendous pain. I remember the rush of doctors and nurses in and out of the room and the concern as they tried to figure out what was wrong. Turns out the incision from my c-section had torn open in multiple places, leaving me with “a million little bleeders”, as we were told. The doctors had found 2.5 liters of blood in my abdomen (the average person has about 5 liters total in their body). I later learned that they were preparing for the best case scenario: a hysterectomy. Can’t fix the bleeding, just take it all out.

By the time I was brought in for an emergency surgery, about 19 hours after their birth, I had had unsuccessful blood transfusions, my kidneys had shut down (as with other organs) and my blood pressure was 60/40. Near comatose. I was in and out of consciousness. I do remember being wheeled to the surgery, seeing Rob standing helplessly by the window (his three babies in the NICU and his wife on the brink), and having my heart cry out “Jesus please be with me. Jesus please be with me” over and over again.

And the next thing I knew, He was with me. It was the purest white light and I was surrounded by Him.

I remember Jesus.

I’m going to ask you guys to close your eyes. You see darkness. Now imagine closing your eyes and having the brightest light possible surrounding you. Hugging you. It was like a giant hug from Jesus. It was the most joy-filled, peace-filled, beautiful, comforting experience. No words can describe it.

Joyful – but the most joy you could possibly feel.

Peaceful – but the most peace you could possibly feel.

Beautiful – but the most beauty you could possibly feel.

Comforting – but the most comfort you could possibly feel.

It was complete. I was complete.

You know how it says in Revelation 22, “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” I totally get it now. His light is real. I was lucky enough to get a taste of it.

I imagine that is what it is like to die. It’s not painful, it’s not scary. It’s beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be here to love my family as long as I possibly can. But I KNOW that joy is waiting. It is no longer just a faith in Jesus, but knowledge and memories of Him.

I remember life.

I don’t know how close I was to death on the operating table. But after many conversations with multiple doctors, I am very very lucky to be alive. They were able to stop the internal bleeding and didn’t even need to give me a hysterectomy.

I remember waking up in the ICU, intubated. Again, in and out of consciousness, I was so confused as to why I was intubated. Apparently they thought they would have to bring me back to the OR. But it wasn’t needed. I was slowly healing.

So 36 hours after the boys were born, my amazing ICU nurse, Megan, brought me to the NICU to see the boys. It was late at night, but she still used the service elevator. I was quite a sight. Barely lucid from the morphine. Swollen from fluids and medication, I couldn’t put my feet on the wheelchair pads.  So she put a pillow on the ground and dragged me backwards. Two of those wheelie pole things accompanied us to hold all of my IVs and monitors.

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(Two days post-birth, many of the IVs/tubes/monitors removed, some remained. Unable to walk, but holding one of my boys.)

A week in the hospital for me, and 11 & 12 days for the boys, we were all finally home. A family.

So unlike Duchess Kate, I was not upright, glowing and camera-ready the day after their birth. But I was alive. And my boys were alive. And forever grateful for getting those moments with Jesus.

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So blessed, Happy Birthday boys!

Influence…Making my online life mean something

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The Influence Network was launched in January and it is already one of my favorite online spots. These women (yes, I’ll generalize for a sec) are real, genuine, creative, Christian bloggers. To continue with the growth and depth of the community, I’m linking up with all these lovely ladies. I look forward to meeting you all at the next Influence Conference!

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Ginger

Looking for a photo made me realize that there are no photos of me. Except for this one. And what I love about it is that it’s from a surprise 10th anniversary trip my husband planned for us in Napa. (No small thing coming from Boston and finding childcare for triplets.) Drinking champagne at Mustards, with my love. Heaven.

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1I met God. During an emergency surgery after the birth of my triplets after my health began to fail, I was surrounded by pure white and His complete joy and peace. It was like a giant hug from God and the most amazing experience of my life. Read more about it here.

2I’m allergic to most raw fruits. Unhelpful when dieting or walking through New England apple orchards.

3God uses me to connect people. I can be chatting with someone about a need, problem, whatever and He will bring to mind a different friend, acquaintance, resource that can help. It brings such joy and gives me goosebumps every time. I can’t force these situations, so I’ve started praying every day that God use me to connect people to others that can fill their needs, give wisdom, whatever it is. Since we’re all part of One Body, I feel like I must be a ligament or synapse.

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Community. Wisdom. When I first started this blog journey last summer, I was really put-off by the networks that asked everyone to play these games of commenting on each other’s posts and clicking on their links. Not because they were genuinely interested, but just for numbers and page views.  I was looking for genuine people, genuine community. So when I came across the folks that the Influence Network attracted, I knew immediately that these were my people, my sisters in Christ.

 

Giving during Lent

During lent, we prepare our hearts for Easter. It was common during my childhood to give something up for the duration of lent. But for me, it was half-hearted and often lasted only a few days. I never made the connection as to what giving up chocolate had to do with Jesus’ death and resurrection.

This year, I’m switching it up. Apparently when I have to make a sacrifice and give something up, it makes me focus on what I’m missing out on all the more. (What a great personality trait…) But if I sacrifice time & money and give to others, it will allow me to focus on what truly matters. It’s God’s money, not mine. To love my neighbor. My gratitude for Jesus. Each denomination has different traditions, so do what allows you to focus on the true meaning of Easter.

Giving to Someone Lent

For more information about some of these giving ideas…

Host a Sole Hope Shoe Cutting Party

Birthday Wishes birthday box

Make a bracelet or pouch for the She’s Worth It Campaign

Collect medical supplies for Sole Hope

What other ways can we give during lent? Share your ideas in the comments!

Psst…I have more posts about my faith. Take a look!

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