Happy September, Y’all. Oh my goodness, I can’t even tell you how glad I am that it is finally September. First off, it’s my birthday month and we have got so many amazing things planned this month that I am so expectant for all kinds of fun and transformation. And I love the fall and all the things about the fall- yep, I’m a pumpkin everything kind of gal. And even though it is 90 degrees outside right now, I am going to go ahead and say a big fat good bye (and maybe even flip the bird) to summer because man, am I ready to have that one in my rearview.
Okay, let me back up because there were so many wonderful things about this summer that I can’t just go on letting you guys believe that it was all bad. It was not all bad at all. My dear friend Tori Hein and her family spent the summer living at our house, and although you might think that it would be a tremendous burden to have another family living at your house for three months, you couldn’t be more mistaken. Not this family, at least. Maybe had it been another family, it could have gotten hairy, but Tori is a gem and time with her is ALWAYS a blessing. The way I put it to her is this: It might have taken me years to learn the lessons I learned this summer had it not have been for her listening ear and wise counsel. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been generous in this way, also, as generosity is what God specifically called me to this year. So there is that.
Also, having Tori at my house meant I finally learned how to cook healthy meals- I am NOT the cook in my household- and I have been on a journey of counting macros along side my Arbonne healthy living program. So as of today, actually, I am down fourteen pounds, which is a welcomed benefit of this summer as well.
So no, it was not all bad at all. My business, however, had a “summer” and that was a little bit hard to weather mentally. And you guys know that I like to be pretty dang transparent whenever possible, even when it hurts, so let me just say that this summer stretched my faith. I say stretched my faith, but what I really should say is it grew my faith. But if you’ve ever been in a state of ‘growth’ like that that I’m describing, you might understand me when I say that it was trying and a bit exhausting. It felt like I was in a perpetual state of uncertainty all summer long. I sustained some heavy blows in my business, which can be emotional, but it was more about the surrender that I felt God calling me to that was the real trying part. If you’ve ever been in any kind of business, you know that the ups and downs and normal and expected, and not in and of themselves emotional or trying. But the surrender piece; the part where I felt called to ignore the evidence and stay the course—change nothing—that was hardest for me. As you know, I am an achiever. I suffer from strive. And I have the tendency to think that no matter what I’m doing, it’s just not enough. If things start to go in a direction I don’t want them to go, I just strong-arm them back into position. But this summer, it felt like God was telling me to just let them go. #unfamiliarconcept
One of the most amazing blessings coming out of this summer is that I feel that perhaps I am in recovery from trying to do it all in my own strength. I had big plans this year, Y’all. BIG plans. I intended to triple (not double) my business and promote 5 or 6 vice presidents and earn a trip to Africa. Don’t get me wrong, this is still very much the plan and ironically, despite what some might see as steps in the wrong direction, I’m more faithful than ever that what God promises, He will deliver… in His time.
This last part is the part that has been really eating me up though. I want it now! Does that strike a cord with anyone? I feel like I’m working so hard and doing so much and surely it’s going to pay off… on my timeline. You see it’s that last part that has been the stumbling block. Because yes, I do believe with all my heart and soul that the work we put in does pay off- it always pays off when you’ve got the right mindset and perspective- but the timeline is never ours to own (thus all the blogs you’ve been seeing from me about releasing and surrendering over the past months). This has been God’s lesson and blessing over me this summer.
I have to tell you that I think I’m finally getting it. I’ve spent more time in the bible this summer than probably ever before in my life. I’ve been more intentional about letting go of anxiety and just NOT stressing about things I can’t control. I wish I could give you more practical how-tos on how to do this, but what I did is I just practiced not stressing each and everyday. Just when I would start to worry about money, or saving, or paying off this or that, I’d just stop and pray and tell Him that I trusted Him. Some days I did that once. Some days I said that prayer a dozen or more times. And slowly but surely, I started to actually believe that God was the one providing for me and I didn’t have to strive and try to get it all done in my own strength. I was allowed to rest. I was allowed to not stress. I was allowed to not worry. AND on top of all of the not stressing, I also didn’t have to wonder why so-and-so was succeeding when I couldn’t seem to move the dial at all. I didn’t have to compare myself. I didn’t even want to! I could even go so far as to feel genuine joy and excitement in their success, even when I wasn’t experiencing it for myself. What a freaking thought, right? And it’s one thing to write that out for you guys right now, but what I’m telling you is that I was actually feeling those true, genuine feelings of excitement for people! I truly believe it’s because of this practice of surrender I’ve been walking through.
August was… interesting. In a lot of ways, it was the hardest month of summer. Our business took a dive, I’ll just be honest with you, and after feeling like we were just pulling a Dorian and sitting still forever, it’s never fun to then take a turn for the worst. But I believe God was testing me. And for the first time, instead of panicking and asking why… I leaned in and trusted the plan and the purpose in it.
The bible says that when we pray, we must not just ask, but also believe in God’s provision- we must have the FAITH that God will do what we’re asking. We can’t doubt (James 1: 7-8). If we say we’re trusting God and then we doubt the plan… the bible says we’re double minded. It actually says we shouldn’t expect to receive anything from Him if we’re going to ask without the faith that it will happen (v. 7).
Disclaimer: It’s not like you ask for a million dollars and then expect that God will give you just that. It’s more about asking for God’s will and trusting that it’s for your best even if it’s in opposition to what you would say is ‘your will’ in that season.
I’ll be honest, I couldn’t see the plan and I couldn’t understand why we were moving backwards. And I didn’t actually know how bad it would be or how slim our month would turn out financially—don’t’ we always assume the absolute worst? But I had the strangest peace about it FINALLY. I believed that God was actually going to provide exactly what we needed. And in the midst of this financial pressure, it would have been easy to decide not to fund the business that we feel God calling Tom into- but we did. And it would have been easy to ease up on the tithing to church- but we leaned in. And it would have been easy to stop driving to and from Nashville every single week (because that’s where we are going to church now) to save money- but we continued on. It would have been the human response to feel fear and CLING DESPERATELY to control, to the reigns, to our own strength, to our own provision. But we trusted, we kept moving forward, we kept sowing, even when we felt like it was against what our flesh would have us do.
And then the breakthrough…
On the last day of the month, I leaned into the words that my pastor said during a sermon a few weeks back. “God isn’t asking you to do His part. He’s only asking you to do your part.” That, I could handle. So I did what I knew how to do. I released the results and I sowed the good seeds. I laid my head down on the pillow that night knowing that we had just closed the worst month of the year thus far, maybe the worst month we’ve had in three years. I’m already laying it all out there for you guys, let’s just call it what it was. It wasn’t good, this I knew. But I felt this crazy peace that God was going to take care of our needs because that is what He promises. And I prayed for that, and I did. not. doubt.
The next day, September 1st, we found ourselves at church in Nashville with friends. The message was all about mindset, and you guys know how much I harp on that. This blog is all about perspective, right? I mean, that is ALL mindset. How are you looking at your problems? Through what lens are you choosing? I felt joy and gratitude like I hadn’t felt in a long time. God has blessed us with so very much. We are so lucky to live the life we have. And even in a down month I have to remember that my kids have two present parents. We’ve got a beautiful property that God very specifically and directly gave to us to steward. We’ve got an amazing group of influencers as colleagues, mentors and friends. And still an amazing income despite our down month that our 24 year old selves wouldn’t believe would ever be ours. What on earth do we really have to complain about, even when things aren’t exactly how we’d prefer?
Perspective is powerful! And that message at church was exactly what I needed to hear to solidify that I was on the right path, and that things would absolutely turn around in God’s time, provided I persevered. My friend Holly even reminded me that in the bible James also tells us to ‘count it all JOY’ (James 1:2) these struggles that we walk through. Don’t just endure them but be glad for them! Oh what a beautiful perspective shift that is, right? Without the trials we absolutely begin to take the blessings for granted, wouldn’t you agree? It’s not during the seasons of abundance that we lean into God and count our blessings; it’s when we fear and when we struggle that we remember our humble position.
So I left service absolutely walking on air and feeling so full and blessed and joyful and expectant. And then, not in the midst of my suffering, but after I had endured in my trusting and endured in my FAITH, God provided via a friend who had felt compelled and called to be generous to us in return for generosity we had felt called to give to them. I had a thank you note handed to me with $2000 in it. Not $200… $2000. A truly tremendous amount of money to be randomly gifted with, wouldn’t you say? I would say. It literally made me catch my breath.
Sometimes we get so fixated on where God’s provision is going to come from. We cling to doing it all in our strength, convinced that the way we see it all playing out is the only way it could possibly play out. This is what I’ve been learning to let go of this summer. And this is the way God has encouraged me in my willingness to let it go. It’s not easy to give up control and stop stressing out about everything and how it’s all going to come together, but trust you me, I’d way rather have the confidence I now have in my God as my provider, than a thousand success stories that glorify only me.
It’s not easy for me to tell you guys that we struggle. I’d love for you to think we’ve got it all together all the time. It’s not easy for me to tell you that I don’t have control over everything. It’s not easy for me to admit that I may not accomplish what I set out to accomplish this year. But here is one thing I’m proud and grateful to say: God is good. He provides better than I ever could. And I trust (without doubting) that with joy I will walk through the trials because I know that when I let perseverance finish it’s work in me- on HIS timeline, not my own- then I will be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1: 4).