Wednesday, September 7, 2016

first grade.


so much of the words and the story being told in this place are for you and your sisters. when it started there was only you and i wrote it down so i wouldn't forget. it will be a gift to me one day  when you read about how our story changed forever when you were just a little baby.

today you started first grade. you are there right now. you got early and dressed quickly and asked me to curl your hair. you look so beautiful today. we are so proud of you. we don't always see eye to eye and getting on the same page can be complicated. but my love for you runs deep. my forgiveness is endless. i care more about your heart, your kindness, empathy, joy, and loving your classmates than i do about anything else. i know you are going to do fine. your dad and i are confident about that. you are strong and determined. but don't let the grades, the spelling words, or reading get the better of you. i know your a little nervous because reading isn't your favorite thing. but so much of your education for us is revolved around showing kindness, being a friend, and respecting those around you. i will remind you of all this at bedtime tonight. i told you yesterday in the car after meeting your new teacher...but i will probably obnoxiously tell you over and over. be patient with me. i am not that good at a lot of things as your mom. but hopefully you see the good outweighs the not as good. i am very aware of my own shortcomings. i hope i am aware than you even are...but your very observant so it probably wont get lost on you. i am working daily to focus more on who you are and your character less about behavior and trying to manage it. releasing the pressure to be "good." i don't want you to perform. i want you to be you. make mistakes. try again. work towards a life that exudes deep love for other people. friendships, joy, creating, having fun, and serving people around you because Jesus served first. before anything else. lets both be me more like that. you want to?

we believe in you. you were created for some many things. specific to you. only ava can be ava. rest in that. no pressure. but learning to confidently live into the girl and someday the woman who God created you to be.

how special is that!? you don't have to be or look like or act like anyone else. i hope you believe this for yourself so hard. i don't always do this well. i fight the lies daily. on the hour that i am not enough. but i want more freedom for me and for you each and everyday. lets do this sweet little girl.

since cancer i experience other peoples stories of suffering so much deeper. the tears and the lump in my throat stay very close to the surface. i am intrigued and seek out hearing how others walked through pain and the fear and the unknown. i am forever thankful for the awareness it has given me for others around me.

i was listening to a podcast recently and the woman speaking suffered an awful stoke that left her paralyzed. when she woke up after a couple months in a coma she said to her dr...i am not supposed to be here. i should have died to which the dr, no if you were supposed to die you would have died. but you didn't. so don't waste this precious life." she went to say that those words are what have fueled her heart, her recovery her family, her progress, book writing, and sharing her story throughout the world.

when we walk through something that maybe we weren't "supposed" to make it out of...i hope we grab a hold to the life and purpose that God has for us. to use our story to tell others about the greatest gift on earth. that isn't found in stuff. but forgiveness and life in Christ. an endless path of grace and joy in eternity. we are not our own. but we are His.

lets share our stories with one another. our pain. our joy. our fears. our truth. the real nitty gritty stuff. that makes life embarrassing at times. marriages falling apart. troubled kids. depression. fear. deep insecurities. you name it. lets share it. because in that we find that we are not alone. not even a little.

i do not in anyway shape or form have it all together. i hide inside myself. i struggle with an inner dialogue that tells enough today to be worthy of being a mother and a wife. you stay at home so make sure dinner is made. house is clean. laundry is done. and you better do "enough" to be worthy. it's so annoying to be stuck in those lies. what if we could just live our life oppose to battling internally about whether we are valuable enough. i hate the word enough. it literally plagues me. usually just on the inside. its this conversation within more, relax, do more, relax and just be, do more, and sometimes...if i give it space a still small voice whispers..."stop. you are enough libby. because of Who i am and because i made you." i want to stand firmly on that so badly i can sometimes taste it. or i can tell the woman around me that i love the are enough. you are enough. you are believing lies that you were never meant to. why is it so much easier to share with others than believe for ourselves?

our culture is obsessed with what we do and how much we make. i might be obsessed with that myself. or i've been trained too...either way its never how it was meant to be.

so my little first grader as you go out into the world today without me or your dad or you in the truth that i am fighting behind the scenes and sometimes in front of you to be a mom that is honest. forgiving. loving. and truthful with the battle inside of her. you may feel the same things as me...we just haven't been able to express it to one another yet. but i want more for you and your sisters. i hope i can go before you and be an example of a mom that is choosing Jesus and grace and love everyday. even though some today i wake up irritated with you...for no reason at all. i am sorry about that. i promise to ask for forgiveness every chance i get. let's be a group of girls who love fiercely, intentional, and stakes our life in Christ...not in this world.

your teachers and classmates are lucky to have you. let's love them back.

you're a great friend and a better daughter...even though it can sometimes feel like we don't always get each other. i am committed to working towards knowing you and loving you in the way you need to be loved and cared for...thank you for being patient with me. i desire to laugh more and smile each time we catch eyes.

all my love. forever.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

trajectory shifts.

This week my family and friends celebrate 5 years of my body being healed from cancer. It has been a huge month of reflection on that season and where we have come and where we are going. I have been using the word joy as I share our story and give a glimpse into that season of our lives.

I was laying in bed last night thinking about how odd that must sound when so much of the language around cancer and suffering fails to mention joy. I get that. Chemotherapy was awful. Losing my long brown hair was incredibly devastating to me. I was 25 years old with a new little baby girl and a young marriage. But you know what? In the midst of the pain, heartache, fear, and what ifs...I really did find myself.

 I can only assume based on my experiences that is it in the trials and the risks and the unknowns that we find out how deep we can go. that the Lord will in fact carry us through anything. even if we don't "feel" Him or "see" Him...we are never alone in our desperation. especially if our desperate pleas aren't about what we want or what we think is best or where we want go. but we are actually capable of far more than we ever dreamt or imagined when you have nothing to lose...or even if you have everything to lose.

That the Lord of the Universe...if we confess Him as our Savior and trust Him with everything...than of course we have the opportunity to experience joy in the depth of our souls. He promised us that. He never said...“if” we suffer but instead “when” we suffer. Therefore He knows that in our pain and the unknowns we would be given a chance to fully trust Him with our life and our story. Now I mean really trust. Not just saying it like nice little Christians might say but life or in death I belong to Jesus Christ. Therefore His purpose for me is the BEST despite my plans or vision for the future. And maybe...just maybe it suddenly becomes far greater than we could have ever even dreamt. That isn’t easy. Not much about handing your life to God is easy. But it is good. It is so good. In cancer I was able to experience the Lord in a new way. the cliches were gone and the whole...this isn’t my plan was thrown out the window. Thus, cancer was the means to leading me to a place of wholehearted, no questions asked, I am ALL in for the rest of life. In laying down of my plans and purpose and life I found the deep comfort and peace that can only come the creator who made ME. 

I shared my life story (4 minutes worth) with my bible study and I realized my adult/college life has been broken up into two major areas that had they not happened very little about the life i am living now would even exist. One was the summer I spent at a Young Life camp and where I met my husband and the other was cancer. Two giant life trajectory shifts. Do you see any shifts in your life?Where do you see it? Are you in it now? 

The intimacy with the Lord and how He showed His love to my family so tangibly I decided that I would never turn back. Never turning back doesn’t mean easy. I actually think for me it has been harder. Several moves to new cities and states and new friendships and crippled by my own fear and insecurities. It’s a daily choice to trust Him in the midst of confusion and the honest desire that things would some days look different. Live closer to family, closer to my dearest friends, a real clear vision for life with all the steps laid out neatly for me. But that isn’t how it works. That isn’t trust. So in my doubt and fear I will continuously come back to my illness and how the Lord used the most scary time in my life to bring me to Himself. In that place He provided hope and joy and peace in my heart, my marriage, the relationships around me, and loving my daughter in a far deeper way. It really is all a gift. We are not guaranteed anything. Health, money, career, marriage, love, etc. But and this is a huge but...God loves you and is for you and wants you. All of you. Will you choose Jesus? No matter where you find yourself today. Is He all you want? I would never trade coming to the end of myself for anything because it brought me to a place of realizing my own inability to do ANYTHING outside of His grace and love...including laundry.

Fight for joy. I am not that good at it. I am often lazy and seclude myself despite desiring friendships. I want all of this. I believe everything i just wrote. I want it for you. I would tell you all this if we were on my couch talking. I swear. But i am telling myself these same truths everyday. Often several times throughout the day because I often hear the louder voice that are fat (that one is so funny because I am pregnant but the lies are real), not worthy, not good enough, can't do it, purposeless, without value because I don't have a "cool" career. And the sickening part is this is two days after reading letters from some of the people I hold dearest in how I have not wasted cancer or my life. (it deserves its own post on the epic book my husband and friend annika created for me to celebrate 5 years of healing).

No one is doing this perfectly. No one has it all together. Even the really wise authors who write books and speak and share Jesus. We are all in the same boat. Each hour of each day choosing real, deep, life altering joy because we were made for so much more than this. Ask for it. Tell the Lord what you want. The secret desires, dreams, passions. He knows your heart anyways. Life the life you have always been meant to live.

I am about to fold laundry. it isn't glamorous or cool but it's essential to our families presentation to the world. much of our life may feel way more consumed by that type of if that is true for you because you aren't a kardashian who i am assuming have a team of "people" do it all for them. i want to encourage you that you aren't alone. each season of life brings different tasks and responsibilities that seem mundane. but what if...what if these are THE days. like you are actually living your of course parts of it are annoying and we don't want to do it. i get that. but i think we have more to be grateful for and praise the Lord for than we take the time to recognize. and if you don't believe me. that's alright. maybe find a friend or someone you love and trust to speak into your life the truths about yourself, your purpose, and your heart. because today it is too hard to do it on your own. i get that. none of this is for the faint of heart. this is for truth seekers and life livers. we want more. more of what the Lord graciously desires to cover us with each hour of each day forever.

and to conclude...i do watch the kardashians. you can judge me. i can handle it. i am also not naive to the fact that even the most seemingly glamorous lives aren't weighted down by self-doubt, fear, and insecurities...amongst many more. don't believe our cultures lies. we are just people trying to find a way. thankfully i know that in Jesus i already found THE way and it is stepping into that daily.

let's walk in it together. forever.

***parts of this post are being shared on the website mybigjesus. please check it out and read more from other encouraging writers.

Monday, February 8, 2016

this day 5 years ago.

when we are walking through something it is impossible to see beyond that day or that hour. so we endure and we live and we pray and we trust. we trust without knowing exactly what is ahead or what will come of our lives or our is in those times that we may choose moments of despair, fear, right alongside a desire to find a purpose and life and Jesus's goodness. despite the outcome my desire is to cling to His truth...

as i reflect on where we found ourselves 5 years ago today i can not help but weep as i watched the video justin made on the eve of my last and final chemo treatment. ava learning to walk, my wisps of hair hidden under a hat, and a husband who not for one second didn't walk alongside me in the depths of cancer. we look like little babies back then. i am thankful for healing. but more than that i am indebted to a Savior that allowed cancer to bring me to my knees. it's real easy to say we trust God when things are rolling just fine...but what about they aren't? i will always be grateful beyond words for how the Lord used our suffering in cancer to demonstrated the depth of his love for me. cancer will remain as one of the major life altering events that had it not happened...i would love to think my passion and trust and love for the Lord would be the same as it is today...but i will never know and i don't really care. I am madly in love with a Father who will use any means possible to bring me to Himself. our purpose isn't about our job or our marriage or money or stuff. although those things are nice. but that is all but a moment compared to eternity with a God that would do ANYTHING to spend eternity with you and with me. that is crazy. that is an invitation. take it. nothing else will fulfill you or give you life. i promise. not even a million dollars. even though a million dollars would be nice.

i have thought of this verse all morning as i prepare to share our story with my bible study tomorrow morning. i love the timing of it all. sharing on the exact day of last chemotherapy and sharing what the Lord is continuing to do in me five years later.

2 corinthians 16-18. i would encourage you as you read this verse which you have maybe read or heard a hundred times to ask the Lord to allow His words to deeply imbed themselves in your heart today.

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

wherever you find yourself today hold His truth close to your thoughts & your heart. He is with you.

from justin. 2.8.11

Dear Libby,

I cannot remember all the chemos individually. I can just remember seeing you suffer and sleep and I hated them more and more each time. I remember taking pictures to send to family and friends and you smiled in the beginning every time! The smile gradually faded, but your faith did not. I am so thankful that you BELIEVE, really believe, that the Lord's good hand has been apparent in this from the beginning. Because of that I am so thankful for you as my wife, our friends and family who prayed through this -- I will not think back to those times and hate them. I will never forget what this has taught us.

I am so proud of you babe! Whether today or tomorrow, you have endured. Having been carried along by the prayers of many, you have made it through. Seriously, all Glory to God for this day! I am so excited to spend it with you. Today, and thank you Lord, the rest of our lives.

It is a true gift, and I will not waste one second of it. I love you.


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Monday, February 1, 2016

not alone. not even a little bit.

thank you. last week i was welcomed back with such love and affirmation and encouragement from you. my friends. most i've never met but i consider you my friends because i know what its like to share in someones story and words and feel like i know them. i would hope based on what i write and share that you would get the best and most real version of myself. thank you for making that safe. thank you for the feedback and comments. but they were so much more. many of you shared your heart and your struggle to find purpose and life in the midst of the various places and seasons we find ourselves. grateful for each and everyone of you.

i read this on instagram this morning.

"one of the most important things you can do on this earth is let people know they are not alone" shannon l. adler.

i love that. i love that for timing. in just the past 7 days experienced friend after friend are not alone. what a joy to experience community even while being states and cities away. what a relief i feel in my heavy heart when i hear woman i love and respect so deeply say...

me too.
i feel that way sometimes.
i wish i had courage.
i am scared to take a risk.
i have this dream but it will never happen.
i want to do or say or write or create xyz but i don't even know where to begin.
i don't feel good enough.
i think i was created for more but what does that even mean or look like.

i think when we open ourselves up to other people and share exactly what keeps us up at night and what we toil with throughout the day...we begin the process of unpacking what our dreams, passions, fears, and obstacles even are and how often we allow our fear to paralyze us. because when we share it and say it out loud and give it some validity it creates a space for people around us to say...

you can do it. you are believing lies. don't let fear keep you there. i think you are you want to get unstuck. i love you. you are valued. your dreams matter. let's do this together. how can i pray you. lets pray against those lies. lets look to see what Jesus says is true about you.

today i went to the doctor for 3 hours because i failed my glucose test. it is a test you take when you are pregnant that detects gestational diabetes. i will find out this week if i passed this second round. while i was there i reading and came across this in isaiah (i am studying isaiah in a weekly bible study i am apart of so i find myself there often).

isaiah 43:1-3

"But now thus says the Lord, "he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you: I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall now overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."

the creator of the universe is providing us with his truth, his words...that we are his. whatever we walk matter how wavering, deep, and scary...nothing can overwhelm us or consume us because the Lord has us. all of us. each dream. each fear. each lie. each joy. each trial. each broken heart. he holds us and deeply cares about each of our hearts. what a gift and treasure. one i so quickly forget. my desire is to stand firm on his truth has i lay down the lies and the fears. my hope is that you will also lay in bed at night and hold those lies captives (thank you laura wright) and hand them right back to the God that gave us the ability to think and dream and have a heart with such depth. but he didn't give us the lies. we sit there on our own as sinful and broken people. thankful for the endless grace and forgiveness our God that wants us to start new each and every day. praise the Lord for that.

before i get the girls to bed i have to share this.

since last week. unrelated to the blog because i don't think the people that called me here in NJ to hang out even know this blog exists. but either way i saw the Lord move in a very tangible way since i shared last week. people asked me to hang out and we hung out and it was fun. i am thankful for them and how the Lord answered a very real prayer for me last week. i had to share because i don't want us to miss the many times...big and small that the Lord answers our prayers. let's not miss that and move on to the next thing. ok? want to try that together.

my heart has felt more alive and purposeful than it has in a while. mainly because of this space. because of you. for texting, calling, emailing, commenting and engaging with me about your own fears, your heart, your own trials, the lies you find yourself paralyzed by...i am so grateful that grateful doesn't even do it justice. my heart is a little more full and a little more alive. this place has always provided that for me and i guess i forgot what a joy and passion it is to connect with people. we are not alone...never it with you forever. let's just keep reminding one another of that truth.

would love to hear from you. your heart. email me

Monday, January 25, 2016

12 months later

its been almost 365 days since i have opened blogger on my computer. that didn't happen intentionally. i didn't decide one day to just stop writing. i just gradually stopped writing. i made excuses. lots of excuses. some may have even been super valid. either way i am finding myself back on this page. trying to ignore the lies and stop allowing fear to win. since moving to nj i have day by day begun to only listen to one voice. the one in my head that is mostly lying to me.

you have nothing to say.

your story doesn't matter.

people don't even care. they stopped reading once cancer was over.

you aren't learning anything...why force it.

you have no friends. no one likes you. what is purpose other than "just" being a mom.

lie after lie after. but the thing about lies is that if we allow them to settle inside us...they make a home in our heart and our head and it they aren't lies anymore...they are our truth. before we know it we aren't even sure how we got from back there to over here to right now.

but i am making my way back to what i know is true. i never stopped believing that jesus loved me, i was enough, heck i am more than enough because the creator of the universe made me.

be back. children yelling.

i wasn't thriving. i wasn't choosing joy. i was settling for comfort. stuck. new place. new home. not many friends or fellowship. trying to rally. it just felt forced. i felt insecure. not sure of who i was. it sort of felt like i was in middle school. just trying to find myself and make a way in a new place.

now like most seasons of life it wasn't all hard. all the time. i wanted to add that.

but as i reflect and look back and see a girl i do not want to return to...i am holding tightly to the friends who in the past weeks have spoke truth. encouraged me. loved me. allowed me to be me. in those moments i felt more alive than i have in a while. so here i am. pregnant. praise the lord for this precious baby girl. that i am walking into a new season as a woman. than a wife, mother, and new mom to this new tiny life. it all seems fitting. as i am making my way out the lord is bringing a new life into our family and into our hearts. i am grateful for the timing. 4 more months for this baby to grow and for me to begin...every day, every hour to choose jesus and what he thinks about me and my life and my purpose and in that...choosing joy.

my prayer is that the Lord will make a way (isaiah 43). i am not sure what that looks like or even really means. i don't think it matters. i am convinced life is far more about the day to day than the big picture. so for today i am moving towards truth and leaving each little lie at the door and believing that the Lord will make a way for me in this new season and new place.

i want to come alive here. to thrive where i am. maybe even bloom where i am planted. but what if you don't love where your planted? can you still bloom? does that even matter? what do you think? seriously what do you think. leave a comment or email me. i am dying to know if i am alone in this or if anyone out there is struggling to find passion and purpose and the midst of the mess of our head and our hearts and lies we believe.

i am peeling back the layers of my heart and exposing what i have been keeping bottled up inside.

thanks for making this a safe place for me to do that.

more to come.

Monday, February 2, 2015

moving forward. it feels good.

last night our house was filled with 15-20 rutgers university students. if you are new to this space here is a quick recap. my husband has been on staff with Young Life for 8 years and we recently made our third move with YL to new brunswick nj. we are helping to start YL at rutgers university and the surrounding high schools and middle schools in the area and eventually the whole state. we moved from a place we loved. harrisonburg, va. left many people we loved and a new home and a life that felt so good in so many ways. i miss it everyday. but the lord made a way for us here and we moved this past august. 

bc of hard work, prayer, courage, and the lord our home was filled with rutgers students we love. the only common denominator is jesus. 5 months ago we didn't know a student on campus. i still don't really. my husband and our dear friend morgan have paved the way. meetings, coffee, events, conversations, prayer and the lord...we now have 20 plus college students going through the YL leader training program to begin ministry with students in our area. 

since the beginning of all this i have been on board. not just a little bit but all in. selling our home, most of our stuff, saying goodbye to people i love, and starting our adventure in nj. no friends or family near us. but the lord made a way. he always does and he always will. but my heart. my heart hasn't been all in. i desperately wanted it to be. but i felt a separation between what justin was doing actively on campus and what i was doing at home. i am not currently serving in a specific roll with YL i didn't really know any of the people justin was meeting and what he shared never seemed to be the same secondhand. 

but i am watching my heart grow. my desires to invest in people and care for them and build new relationships. i think i needed this past semester to grieve a little. miss the people we left that had become family and cared for our girls and cared for me. it was really hard to leave. 

i couldn't or i didn't allow myself to be all in here. i needed some space. some time. i felt insecure and intimidated around people. it is hard to be uncomfortable in our skin. but haven't we all been there? i was fragile at times. 

i wanted to open our home. i wanted friends. i wanted to be brave. but instead i hid a little bit. i spent time decorating our new place. being more present with the girls. worked on our marriage and basically got to know a new city. how to get to target and costco and ikea. my time and energy was spent simply adapting to this new place. i am not beating myself up. it was what it was and now we move forward and reflect a bit.

but i am seeing growth. a desire to be bold. to take risks. to be uncomfortable. to ask questions. to invite people in. to share our home. to feed people. to love others. like in a real way. not just a "supposed" to kind of way. i think i was a little selfish. i was focusing a lot on me and often thinking...what about us? doesn't anyone care that we are new and starting over? but to be honest for the most part i was ok with it. more time with my husband as his work pace looked so different since this is more of a start up phase to his job. our family grew. our marriage grew. so it wasn't a waste. i know that. none of it ever is when we use it to grow and learn.

thankful for what is to come and for a home full of people who are willing to take a risk for jesus through the ministry of YL. i like to host. i like to feed people. even if it is in the form of lots of costco food where i can basically just use my oven to heat it up. but it doesn't matter. our home was full of laughter and knee football and joy and christ and fellowship and community. we all want to be apart of something. so i am in. i will begin to believe what the lord says is true. i am brave and i am ready and i am also scared and a little uncomfortable. praying for vision and bravery in my life and yours too. what a difference we will make if we start being honest and real and trusting the lord in every tiny little way. he is good. so good. trying to be grateful for all it. mostly the tough stuff.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


I am back. More tomorrow. I swear. My heart is stirring and overflowing. I started exercising this fall and it's changing me. Watching my body do things I never thought it could. I felt so strong Friday as I was running and listening to oceans by hillsong. I was actually crying pretty hard while mouthing the words. I wasn't embarrassed bc maybe people thought it was just a lot of sweat on my face. Either way I am feeling alive and grateful and passionate. I haven't felt that a lot this fall but The Lord is working in me. I can feel it and I love it. Listening to oceans on repeat has been this continuous reminder about what is true. About Jesus and me and what he wants for me and what he has more me and that in my trust of him and the story he has for me...well it's hard and big and small and scary and awesome. I want more Jesus in my life and my actions and my heart. I am not that good at it. But I will never stop fighting to give every ounce of my fears and insecurities and frustratation and jealousy and judgement at the foot of the cross. It's all we have. It's all I want (and some new trendy boots i just saw online).

when I was sick people came out of now where and showered us with the most love I have known. Tomorrow a woman I don't know with a little baby like Ava starts her first round of chemo. Pray for jenna. May she feel clothed in prayer and comfort as she begins her cancer journey. Our journey was doable because of you. So thank you.