Dear 24 Year Old Me

Dear 24 year old me, 

I have some crazy news for you. I know I know, you’re busy right now mapping out your next international trip and hoping to snag a seat on a plane next to a late twenties hottie with a humanitarian heart and a millionaire’s wallet… but I have news for you… your life, well it’s not going to end up like you expected. At all. 

Now before you freak out, I need you to know that it’s going to be awesome in the hardest and best of ways. 

You see, I know you’re terrified of actually committing to any relationship. I know that you believe, deep down in your soul that you weren’t made for marriage or motherhood. But I have to tell you, motherhood (even those additional pounds and stretch marks it brought), motherhood suits you well. And you’d be delighted to know that when life put you in a corner, and the world told you to run, you stayed put. You held your ground. Commitment might not have come easy, but God has sustained you, your marriage, and your faith. 

This world will try to sell you lies along the way. It will try to tell you that your faith is silly and hope is found in doing more good, being better, trying harder. But those things, although good, will never be good enough. There will always be more for you to do until you find rest in the One who has done enough for us all. This isn’t a lesson you will ever master, but instead it’s one you’ll have to keep coming back to. Place reminders all around you now, so when you find yourself down a precarious road wondering if He really is still with you in the dark, you’ll be able to look back and REMEMBER truth. 

This world will tell you that the little things don’t really matter; it’s the highlight reel that matters most (I’m looking at you social media). But the daily disciplines you choose, the things done in the unseen, these are what make you who you are. So when motherhood comes and the exciting trips and goals are put on hold, remember, YOU are not lost. Your identity hasn’t been hijacked. When you sacrifice personal dreams for your family, the loss will sting a little, but you will find great joy in knowing that your dreams aren’t dying, they’re simply growing and changing and shifting. And all of it, the whole messy process was ordained by a good God who is writing your story, for His glory. This life you’re living isn’t about you. And the story you’re living isn’t about you either. So whatever chapter you’re currently in in, remember that there is work to be done wherever you are. 

When the world starts complaining about the church, and everyone around you tells you to abandon ship! Hold on tight. Don’t stick your head in the sand and ignore the flaws that much of the world is right about, but instead dig deep. Be the change you wish to see in the church. Show up to those boring meetings. Go ahead and join the women’s ministry, even if it isn’t your cup of tea. Read your Bible more and ask for help when you get stuck. Sure, there is a shortage of women discipling women in the church right now. So much “discipleship” is done from the stage, but YOU start the movement wherever you are. Ask if you can start meeting with that older lady you see serving on the reg. Have that younger girl over for coffee. Start opening up your home to outsiders. Don’t wait for a mentorship program to be developed, just start being mentored and as a result start mentoring others. 

You are a wild mess of a million different characteristics that the Lord has given you. Use those gifts, use them for His glory; don't let them go to waste. Use them in the small and unseen, consistently show up for members of our body, and keep your eyes peeled for the outsider to welcome them in. But whatever you do, don’t fall trap to comparing yourself to others. Don’t think of yourself too much and what you’re getting out of this deal. Give it all away. And in every season, every joy, every trial look to Christ. Look to Jesus. He will never lead you astray.  

Who you are isn’t a list of accomplishments or mission trips or promotions or degrees or shames or failures. Who you are isn’t in whether you have 100 instagram followers or 100,000. Who you are isn’t how together or broken your life is. Who you are was defined before the beginning of time and is simply this, a beloved child of the King. In every season, in every chapter, every change… your identity rests in the one who never changes. And as sure as the setting sun, His love for you is unfailing.

If I could sit my 24 year old self down and give her advice, THIS would be it. But I can’t do that… so I’m hoping it will be a blessing to some of you out there today! Much love to you and yours! And happy Friday!

Posted on February 10, 2017 and filed under Ordinary Life.

A Texan Update

Alright y'all, The Sassy Salmon has been a little serious as of late, so without further adieu I bring you real life stories from moving across the country with 3 kids ages 4 and under, 1 labradoodle, and 3 ridiculous adult humans (myself included but my husband missing from that crazy equation). 

Moving halfway across the country is hard. I would like to give a shout out to my inlaws who drove the trek with me since Ben had to be in Atlanta for the first few (ahem 6) weeks. And snaps for my dad and Mitch (my brother's father in law) for driving down from Kentucky to conquer my Honey-Do List. Also, I'd like to revisit the part where my mother-in-law and I were locked in a van with twin 4 year olds and a baby that eats every 3-4 hours for two days in a row. To those who say mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws CANNOT get along, I give you this. In addition, I don't want to brag about my awesome MIL... but she has quite literally attached me to a pump and milked me like a cow when I was determined to get some milk for my NICU babies while bedridden, unable to do so myself. ISH gets real in the Salmon family once you take them vows. So I guess a road trip across the country isn't that outlandish given our history. 

I digress. 

Before embarking on our long journey, I may or may not have given the road trip rules that nobody eats or drinks until we get to TEXAS. There would be no stopping, dawdling, tourist attractions, and all meals would be eaten while on the road. Mama had some serious mileage goals and gosh darn it we were going to make good time. For the most part, I'd say we all did well. There were a few hiccups like Jude refused to follow my road trip rules (#hungrybaby) and a man backed into one of the cars while we were at a gas station - but thanks to me screaming like a banshee he slowed down just enough to try to figure out why a random blonde woman was yelling & running at him that the impact was minimal and there wasn't any damage (other than the damage it did to my heart by triggering palpitations). So I guess no harm no foul.

All that to say, we did eventually make it to Texas and everyone still loves each other. 

Now that we're here, I'd like to give you an update on all we've seen because West Texas is definitely different from Raleigh, North Carolina... or all of North Carolina really.

The twins can't identify the American flag or the North Carolinian flag to save their lives, but gosh darn it they already know the Texan flag. IT IS EVERYWHERE. A few days in we visited a store that had half a dozen Texan flags flying outside and the girls asked about it & "Why are there so many?!" Ever since then they get CRAZY PUMPED about seeing the Texan flag. I'll be driving down the road and they'll start losing their minds, "MOMMY MOMMY!!! LOOK!! IT'S A TEXAN FLAG!" I don't get it - but somehow the indoctrination has already set in. 

We have also seen lots of cactus, windmill farms, the most GORGEOUS sunsets, plateaus that people refer to as mountains (um... no), and a person riding a horse down the middle of the street. Which that isn't so odd except the street is in MY NEIGHBORHOOD. Like a normal residential area. With houses. And fences. And small backyards. So I'm not quite sure where the horse was going, but I definitely had to stop and InstaStory that junk. I've also seen two kids dressed in rodeo attire practicing their lasso skills in the mall parking lot. Because you know, what better place to lasso each other than right outside of Dillards. #westtexas 

"MOM!!!! Don't talk about my thighs on the interwebs! How embarrassing?!"

"MOM!!!! Don't talk about my thighs on the interwebs! How embarrassing?!"

Friday Night Lights is a real thing around here and Jude gets asked at least once a day if he's going to be a football player when he grows up. He usually gives the friendly strangers a blank stare until they start grabbing his "football" thighs. At that point he smiles because... well... he's been conditioned by my constant gnawing of his thighs. THEY ARE JUST THAT DELICIOUSLY CHUBBY. 

In other news, the twins started pre-school midyear so they're having a blast catching up with the kids in their class. They learned about the letters M & N their first few weeks and every day when I pick them up I ask them if they learned any new words that start with those letters. Noel without missing a beat always replies with a few correct words and then ends with "M is for ICE CREAM. Noooooo, that's silly. But speaking of ice cream, can we go get some?" And usually we head to our Chick-fil-A for a sweet treat and kisses from Daddy. 

But doesn't he look so handsome? 

But doesn't he look so handsome? 

Speaking of sweet treats, I may or may not have walked in on a random man getting dressed when I went to drop off #TheFabulousMrHanks for his grooming appointment. Nothing says, "Hi I'm new here" like walking into a stranger's home thinking it's your groomer's. And because I was shocked, I immediately yelled SORRY and just slammed the door... ACCIDENTALLY LOCKING MR. HANKS IN THE HALF DRESSED STRANGER'S HOUSE. As I ran to my car still unaware that I didn't have my dog, the kind and understanding gentleman let Hanks out while simultaneously throwing a shirt on. Not making eye contact and stammering back to my minivan, I tried to apologize and explain that I was looking for my groomer who gave me his address. "Oh, no worries!" he said nonchalantly like I had not just seen him in his knickers, "The grooming business is out back. Folks mistake my house for it all the time." Oh OKAY GREAT, yes now I feel 1000 times better about this whole situation. 

Y'all, when I said the good folks of West Texas were the kindest I wasn't lying. 

All joking aside, we are loving Texas and getting to know the sweet people of Abilene. We've found a great little church and are slowly getting invested in the community. The people here are incredibly hospitable and we have been so blown away by the gracious welcome. Uprooting was and still is hard sometimes, but we are so thankful for this adventure and we're more than excited to be in Abilene. 

Here's to many more Texan adventures (but hopefully no more walking in on half-dressed strangers)!

Much love,

 

 

When 2017 doesn't bring a fresh start

Happy New Year (a few days late)!

I’ve been thinking a lot about fresh starts and new beginnings, but this time of year I also am so heavily burdened for the people who are stuck in situations that a new year isn’t going to change. 

A few years ago I found myself avoiding a lot of social media around the holidays & new year. Pictures & highlight reels were triggers for me as I reflected on my life, disappointed with all that year had broken. The last thing I wanted to do was go check out my Best9 or see the Year in Review that Facebook had so kindly assembled for me to remind me that my year was less than gracious to me. I remember that feeling of hopelessness when you’re stuck in a place you never imagined, unable to see the hope that a new year, even one full of suffering, can bring. 

Listen...I know you’re all WOW BRITTANY, Cynical much? Someone get this girl a cup of coffee and some sunshine!! But I promise you, I'm quite the opposite! Just let me flesh this out. 

You see, many of us have bought the lie that once we trust in Jesus, we’re going to be just fine. Suffering isn’t going to come our way. After all, if we make smart choices and go to church and do the right things, what can go wrong? If we hit a bump in the road, all we have to do is say the name of Jesus and it will get better. The illusion of control comforts us during joyous seasons, but during trials and tribulations it's damning. 

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but for many, 2017 will be painstakingly difficult. Your year might get better, but it might not. Your child diagnosed with cancer might not be healed. The parent you’re now the caretaker for might get worse. Your marriage might have a really devastating year. You might not have the bravery to RUN from that toxic relationship you’re in. That loved one you lost isn’t coming back. The child you’ve been praying for might not be conceived. And 2017 might not bring that relationship or job you’ve hoped for. And yet, in spite of all of the hard things 2017 might have in store for you (or the WONDERFUL THINGS), I want to tell you that 2017 could be the year that you cling to God like you never have before. It could be the year that grace permeates your every move and your faith comes alive.

I was reading a Bible study on 2 Timothy and came across this quote, 

“Desperation can fertilize our soil and tears can water our seed like no ease could ever hope to.” - Beth Moore

I have to tell you, this was so true of my own life. When my life got desperate, all the cliches I used to say out of habit became lifelines. What I had always professed to be true, now HAD TO BE TRUE in order for my faith to survive suffering. Phrases that I used to say so flippantly when talking about others’ pain like “God is close to the brokenhearted,” became scripture that I would cry out to God in desperation. “God, you said you’re near to the brokenhearted. I NEED YOU TO BE NEAR. I need you to be faithful and true.”

And He was. Is. And forever will be.

Suffering was a catalyst for me. It catapulted me to the feet of Christ and it has kept me there. So here’s my advice to those who find themselves in a year that isn’t anything they hoped for and expected. It isn't a fix all, but it's a simple phrase for you to carry with you through those low moments. 

Look and Live. 

Look to Christ. Cling to what He’s done for you and what He continues to do. Let that consume you instead of despair. Read about it. Sing about it. Pray about it. Write about it. Hang it on your walls. Have friends who will speak it over you and remind you of who you are in Christ & who He is to you. Christ is your great and mighty redeemer and nothing is too far from his reach. Saturate your life with that truth. 

When life gets hard? Look to Christ. 

When you’re at the end of your rope? Look to Christ. 

When you cannot go any further? Look to Christ. 

When you are so angry and hurt and desperate? Look to Christ.

When you have no place to go? Run to Christ. 

When your world falls apart? Look to Christ, the source and perfecter of our faith.

Dear one, He is able to carry your burden. You do not have to do it perfectly; He already has so that you can live freely. Which brings me to my second piece of advice.

LIVE. 

The story you’re living right now has purpose. You might not believe it. Or maybe you do and it still infuriates you that THIS is a part of your story (trust me... I get that). But at some point, you have to stopping fighting the storyline and START LIVING IT. That heartache, the loss, the despair, the pain, the shame. Don't put a bandaid on your pain to hide the scar, LIVE through it. It’s your story to own, and live, and to one day tell. 

Get help, find a good counselor, start taking care of yourself (fuel your body with sleep and good food), and LIVE. Live your story well. Live it imperfectly, walking every step clinging to Christ. Because if you’re looking to Christ, and fighting to LIVE a life that is rooted in Him, there is no storm you’ll face that will be able to sink your ship. There will be days when it might not feel that way, but friend, I can promise you that the Christ you cling to is a GREAT redeemer. There is nothing too broken that He can’t fix. There is no heart too sick for His healing hand. No sinking ship He can't sustain. No suffering is left purposeless & nothing goes unused. He is close to the brokenhearted, and one day the God who walks beside us through the fires of life will extinguish the furnace of suffering for good

This is why we can enter a new year with hope, even when our circumstances seem hopeless.

Whatever 2017 brings, you can still experience deep, unshakeable joy found in knowing Christ... even on your darkest night... especially during your darkest night.  So today I am praying that for you. I am praying for those of you walking into 2017 with heavy hearts and dark skies ahead. I am praying that you will find rest in the one who is faithful and true and that in 2017 you'll find the resolve to LOOK & LIVE, regardless of what the year brings. 

Much love,

Posted on January 13, 2017 and filed under Suffering, Spiritual Journey, Story.