our first pregnancy || joy after miscarriage

Yesterday, November 28, would be the start of my second trimester. Instead, we are reluctantly navigating the sorrow of a miscarriage. I remember the day I found out I was pregnant. We had been trying to grow our family for a few months. The first month you try, you have so much hope. The second month, you’re still pretty hopeful. By the third month, doubt begins to creep in. So you can imagine the intense feeling of JOY and DISBELIEF when I saw a positive sign. I was a MOM. I am a Mom. Experiencing this miracle for the first time, I suddenly connected with every mother on the planet. I was in love with our baby. The excitement was overwhelming. My baby was number one on my mind. We were able to tell only a few family and friends of our pregnancy. I thank God we did that. The pain, the grief, the uncertainty, the complete sorrow that accompanies a miscarriage should never ever be done alone. It’s so important to walk through this pain with people you can trust. Some days are harder than others. When I need to cry, I cry. The tears come out of nowhere, and for that I thank God. It reminds me how REAL love is. It reminds me how of FAITHFUL God is. My pain is no surprise to Him. I rest in His joy, His strength, His redeeming love. Grant and I are heartbroken and filled with hope, all in the same breath. Our Baby June will forever be in our hearts. We wait for the day we meet our June Baby. Until then, we continue to live and grieve and love. There’s a video link in my profile telling more of the story. I’m choosing to love myself and be vulnerable through sharing this – I want to post just as much sorrow as I do joy in my life. It makes life more real. My prayer is someone can be encouraged through their pain, and as mothers we continue to life each other up.

purpose – like real purpose

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this weekend at church the message is about “the single family.” i’ve been married to grant for 5 short months, so honestly my life has been spent more single than not. y’all know i’m passionate about what a single person is capable of – what a single person can experience during this season, bc that was me. it was my story. i’ve never been shy about how i feel on the topic of being single (just search “single” on this blog & you will see!) there tends to be this invisible timer attached to a single person – as if your time just hasn’t come yet, as if he or she isn’t here yet. now, i’m a newlywed who knows literally nothing on the topic of marriage, but i must say (shout!), marriage won’t complete you. it’s a blessing, absolutely, but it’s no lifesaver. you have purpose no matter what. bottom line. i hope you do feel encouraged that you do matter in the kingdom and god will use you, no matter what your relationship status. remember, he’s bigger than any situation.

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so i noticed this morning my car is victim to much a bird poop. gross i know.

but that means that spring is here, y’all.

yesterday was the first true warm day in a while and it felt amazing.

birds invaded the front yard. we leaf blowed the front yard on sunday, unveiling a yard full of untouched goodness. birds spent the day picking and flying; flying and picking — new life, new breath.

i’m doing better – i’m thankful for grief and sorrow. i’m thankful this is not our home. i’m thankful for community. for true community. not just holidays with presents and food, but community – where you have the same outlook on life, the same beliefs, you understand each other and you love each other through the mess.

and it is messy. life is one big pile of mess. sin. are we surprised? is this another flaw of us? that we truly believe life should be without mess? did we think we’d live this life unscathed? no. and i’m thankful i’m learning this at 28 years old. because i know some of you have felt unbearable pain before you were 16 years old, before you were 10 years old. some of you stay in a constant state of pain.

but there is hope. and you need only accept the hope. let it soak into your heart. believe in something bigger than you. it’s scary at first, but what do you have to lose? honestly? is life going your way with YOU in control? like, have you honestly figured it all out?

no. don’t kid yourself.

so why did i wake up this morning at start this blog post? because i like looking back at my honest thoughts. it’s humbling to be real with strangers on the internet, sure. but it’s more about the freedom i feel when i’m honest with myself.

the sunrise was a painting this morning. heaven and earth met with strokes of cloud beauty. this week i will focus on beyond this life. i will feel each and every moment with an eternal perspective. xo thanks for reading.

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exhale.

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“it’s okay to not be okay.” – exhale by plumb

i first heard this song as it blasted through my headphones on one of my “forced” long runs. yes, forced. there was time i would run every day, whenever i had the time.

that season has come & possibly gone.

with the addition of a night job to my life schedule (circa october 2014) & the addition of the love of my life (circa december 2014), my free time alone time has dramatically decreased.

this is no ones fault. it’s a season. we hear the “season” talk every other day it seems. i like to say “it’s just a season” or “this season will pass” or “thank the good lord above that THAT season is locked in the pretend-it-never-happened-closet.”

so i’m in a season of overdrive. this is not the season where i flourish – but rather – i just barely make it. i go from thing to thing, day to day, & just do.

& just for the record – – i’m not a do-er. i’m a feel-er. i like to FEEL. i like to be “all-in” with everything i do – but during this season – i’m just getting things done. the faster i can get to the place of netflix & couch & ice cream & sleep, the better.

yuck.

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so during that long run – i heard this beautiful song whispering in my ear to “exhale.”

“don’t be afraid. don’t be ashamed.”

i needed to hear that. i feel like that’s the kinda daily reminder that is kinda obvious. it does no harm to hear that kinda thing on repeat, right?

right.

but seriously – i did feel afraid. i felt afraid that i was failing. as an employee, as a friend, as a daughter, as a sister, as a girlfriend. as a human. the fear of failure can cripple the kinda girl who loves attention & loves affirmation & loves feeling accomplished.

i’m that kinda girl. can i get an amen?

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& then there’s the “don’t be ashamed.” that easy peasy reminder that “you are a daughter of the King – what in the world do YOU have to be ashamed of?!”

well – here’s the real conversation happening in my head: how can you NOT feel ashamed? you’re doing nothing. you’re just do-ing. that’s shameful, right?

no. of course not.

but i was believing the lie.

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up until the point where i spilled my guts to the lord.

i said: i hated this season. he said – treasure it.

i said: but remember last year? remember how happy & how successful & how accomplished i felt?

he said – treasure today.

i said: but bring me back to where i was.

he said – treasure Me.

i said: lord, you just don’t get it.

he said – treasure yourself.

it was hard. it’s still hard.

i caught myself remembering & longing for what was instead of focusing on the blessing of now.

each season has its winds, its waves, its growth & its death. each season deserves pruning & planting & patience.

if you’re struggling in a season that you just wish would pass, i’m with ya. but let’s focus on the treasure. has there ever been a season God hasn’t been aware? does he not use every season to bring his name glory? does each season not bring change & new beauty?

i pray that we exhale – we remember – & we treasure.

but let’s not leave it at that. let’s continue to be honest. bc “it’s okay to not be okay.” & my season of “not okay” might be at a different time then your “not okay” season. we don’t have to pretend. we can support each other & break-free from the “everything is okay.” we can scream “it sucks” bc that’s what heals.

let’s love this conversation & this reality enough that we don’t just leave it. let’s for real treasure it, together.

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mountains, depths & fountains.

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in You i live
in You i’ll stay
by Your word
light the way
You take me to the mountain
You take me to the depths
You take me to the fountain
when i have nothing left
You lift my head, You lift my head
You lift my head, You lift my head

 

dara maclean // you are all i need

 

(picture: hiking circa 2012. #throwbacksesh)

five years in the making.

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i’ve been living in maryland, in the same town, for 27 years. born in the local hospital – grew up in the same house until i was 18.

then it was off to college. i tried florida. that lasted a semester. i was homesick. i was unsatisfied. i was a typical teenager trying to make very adult decisions. why are we given such responsibility at such a young age? makes no sense. especially when college tuition and debt are involved.

i graduated with my degree. a bs in sociology. the study of people. i love people. i love studying them.

then the fun and stressful task of finding a job became my day & night. applications, resumes, rationalizing every job and saying “yeah, i guess i could do that” or “i’m totally qualified to teach kids english as their second language.” these are the conversations you have with yourself when you just wanna hurry up and start your career. your next step.

because life is just one step after the other. (insert feet emoji here) (ps why are the feet red?)

on a very snowy day in february, i got a call from a family friend. she said they were looking for an administrative assistant at the church.

on march 1, 2010, my journey began at chesapeake. well, not really. it started 5 years earlier, through a series of different events and connections, but that’s a story for a different day, different blog post 😉

it’s been five years since i started as full time staff at chesapeake church.

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[ this is me on 3/1/10. they take pictures of you on your first day haha i felt right at home 😉 ]

you know, your job is just one part of your life. it’s a big part, but it’s only one part.

however, working at the place where you worship, where you grow in your faith, where the same people that you turn to for counsel are the same people you submit reports, where you call work and home, at the same time – – it’s just an experience i can’t really describe fully.

maybe you’re wondering what exactly i “do” at the church. haha. it’s a fair question.

well, there’s my job title that might give it away – “executive assistant” – but i have a feeling that just made things even more vague 😉

i’m not trying to avoid the question – it’s just such a big answer. the list is long of the “things i do” and i really like my list. but it’s just a list.

when i look back on the last five years, i can say it’s been hard. and i’m not even talking about my job. i’m talking about life.

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[ this is me in january – on vacation from the job i love so much. resting & relaxing on the beach are imperative for my soul once a year. ]

DID YOU KNOW: your 20’s are a HUGE transitioning time. no one ever told me this. and if they did, well, i ignored them.

having a job at a church – doing ministry as my job – wasn’t my idea. i was gonna be a teacher.

but we hear this allllll the time. we have plans, God has different plans. and we are in awe at His plans over ours. but it’s true.

God has a mission for my life. and it will never look like how i expect.

——

the other day my good friend billy asked me what i see myself doing at chesapeake in ten years. it’s a question i get asked all the time.

we are forward thinkers and nobody wants to get stagnant. and i LOVE the challenge.

but here’s MY question – is this ever an easy question for people? like are there actually people out there that know what they want to do in ten years? haha because it’s a ridiculously hard question for me to hear and answer.

but i pushed through haha for the sake of the conversation. i see myself teaching at chesapeake, in some fashion. in a classroom – meeting people. teaching people. i don’t knowwwwwww. that’s as far as my little brain could go.

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i’m excited for this journey. i don’t need it all planned out. because His plan for my life is way better than anything i can dream. but i get it. don’t stop dreaming. my dreams and God’s dreams are one in the same. because the more i trust Him, the more i want what He wants. it’s all just so beautiful.

 

i’m gonna have some ice cream to celebrate these last five years.

xo

CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

 

PRESS PLAY – it’s a new vlog 🙂

one of the absolute BEST christmases of my entire life. it proves that you can take advantage of every situation you’re in & still be satisfied. loved every second with friends – with family – and being completely alone with jesus. so thankful & so blessed & so humbled by the lord.

thanks for watching!!

http://instagram.com/etleyb/