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If I die tomorrow there are some things I need my kids to know.

Sounds heavy, but is true. I have so many things I want to teach my babes. Little nuggets of wisdom that have been passed on to me by my by wise family members and by mentors who were in a season ahead of me. Revelations given by the Holy Spirit which have shifted they way I do life that need to be shared and lessons I’ve learned from mistakes made.

One of my deepest desires for my kids, and for all people, is for them to fully experience the life God has for them. There is an abundant life that God has planned for them and for you (John 10:10) and I believe the “things I need them to know” will help point them to that life.

Thus, this blog series was created.

During this series of posts I will share my biggest convictions and core values as well as simple tips and corky pieces of advice that I want my kids to hear and practice. When they have a bad day or need to make a big decision I pray they come back to these posts.

Nothing is off limits, my friends. I will talk about faith as well as dance parties, because both are important. This isn’t meant to be a dramatic dissertation but more a proclamation of good things that I need my people to know.

I would be honored to share these things with you too! I do not pretend to have it all together or to know all the things. On the contrary, I am a life long learner. But I do believe that once we learn something that impacts our lives in a positive way that it is better to share that knowledge than to horde it. If something I write in this space can help you fully experience the abundant life God has for you then I am going to share. You are free to grab hold of the things that speak to you and dismiss those that do not.

Come back tomorrow to read the first post in this series which is all about calling people up!

What one thing would you want your tribe to know? Share with me in the comments below.

april 2017_kids_leia turns three-27

 

 

 

 

 

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It costs $167.76 each year to keep this blog online. While that is not a ridiculous number it is still money that I don’t want to see go to waste. Thus I have two options: shut this site down OR start writing again.

I’ve felt the nudge to write for a few years now, but have been dragging my feet.

My biggest struggle is the content continuity.
I keep getting hung up on all the books on branding and business that say you must find “your niche” and write for that audience.

This blog began as a place to share photography projects that I am so thankful I got to be apart of. I had hoped to do more of that work, but my initial plan was not God’s plan (at least not yet anyway). Then this spaced quickly morphed into a landing spot for our adoption story.

I still very much enjoy writing about those things; about adoption and documenting stories that spur others on!

But what if I also want to write about parenting, or the bible, or fitness, or marriage, or friendship, or freedom, or wellness, or food? I have felt crippled by the need to fit inside a neatly packaged box that I just did not write at all.

But you know what I realized? THIS is not a business. This space was never meant to be that. And it is not about creating a platform or a following. So I can break those rules, right?

Things change. Passions shift and seasons come and go. And that is ok. So I am going to give myself grace here and also permission to just write what I feel led to write and not worry about having it all together.

I still care about spurring others on. I still long to encourage and champion others. I desire to point others to Jesus and I believe I can do that here. I can do that while writing about adoption, photography, mothering, fitness, and all the things in between.

I am declaring to you that I am prepared to break all the rules I’ve read in business and branding books because frankly I do not have the time to create a new website and new online presence. I do not need one more Instagram account. I just want a safe space to be me, and the freedom for that to shift and move as the Spirit does.

This is my declaration that I do not have to have it all figured out to move forward. I am giving myself permission to just get after it. To start laying words down that I believe God wants me to share and to stop worrying about having it all together or having any clue where this will lead. I will leave that up to HIM. That is not my job. My job is obedience and writing is a form of that for me.

I do know this, in this space you can expect:
authenticity
transparency
imperfection
encouragement
community
grace
If you like those things then you are in the right place and I’m honored to have you here.

Now it is your turn. What are you being called to that you have not moved on yet? Let us lay perfection down and start moving forward even if it is messy and rough around the edges. God can work with that. He can work with an obedient heart. Take one step forward and get after it.

I would rather be in the race with the wrong shoes on then watch it sprint by as I searched for the perfect pair.

 

 

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  • August 28, 2017 - 8:37 pm

    Kara Rodriguez - Amen to all. of. this. This post SO resonates with me, Renee! I hardly ever write anymore for some of the same reasons—feeling too busy, wondering what the point is if I’m not going to pursue it in a professional way, etc. But my favorite posts to read are just people telling their authentic stories about life. So, why would I think that others wouldn’t want the same from me? These are the conversations I have with myself. 🙂 lol. Glad to know I’m not alone. I really love your blog because you write from your heart, and it’s beautiful! I’m thankful for your decision. Keep sharing, friend!ReplyCancel

    • September 12, 2017 - 2:03 pm

      Renee - I think if you enjoy writing, or if it is something that makes your heart light up, you should continue to do it. It doesn’t have to produce finically income to be fruitful my friend. KEEP WRITING.ReplyCancel

  • August 29, 2017 - 2:31 am

    Terri Laurent - Amen Sister!!! You always inspire me! You are amazing! Love you!!ReplyCancel

  • August 29, 2017 - 6:00 pm

    Patricia arnold - Spurring love is in all the things mentioned here. If you speak it HE will make sure it reaches the right ears. Glad you choose to keep this siteReplyCancel

  • August 30, 2017 - 5:55 pm

    patricia arnold - Spurring love on is in all the subjects mentioned here. If you speak/write it He will bring the right ears to hear it. So Glad you choose to keep the site.ReplyCancel

  • September 5, 2017 - 9:27 pm

    Lisa Harvey - Renee,
    I really love this and I am RIGHT THERE with you! I often feel pulled into the trivial things like branding, etc…and then beat myself up a bit over not having the perfect looking blog (or anything remotely close 😜)!
    But then I get over it and I write whatever God places on my heart! Excited about your new September blog-share!!

    Keep sharing & forget the rest!!

    LisaReplyCancel

    • September 12, 2017 - 1:24 am

      admin - Thank you Lisa for your encouragement. It is so easy to get wrapped up in it all. NO MORE I SAY!ReplyCancel

Dear Birth Mom,

Today is our daughter’s third birthday! As we celebrate her life I cannot stop thinking about you. I wonder what you are doing today in China and how you are feeling? I am certain that this day and its significance is not lost on you.

I wish I could comfort you and tell you that our girl is thriving and happy. If I could, I would put my arms around you and tell you that she is loved unconditionally and safe. In the past year she has been with us she has blossomed into a joyful and feisty toddler who can blow the sweetest kisses and throw the biggest tantrums. We adore her. We are the ones blessed to be hers.

My heart aches for you to also know that we will be forever grateful for the brave risk you took two months after she was born. We recognize that your decision to leave her on that busy street corner was one done out of love and not hate. You could have chosen a more fatal method of dealing with whatever dire circumstance you were in. That may have been easier. Safer for you.

Instead, you risked possible imprisonment if caught and a definite lifetime sentence of a broken heart to give our daughter a chance. You gave her life twice, on her birthday and on that day that you let her go.

We see you, birth mom. We see your love for our daughter and we will make sure that she does too! Your sacrifice will be honored in our family and your legacy of love and hope will live on in our sweet Leia Joy.

On her birthday every year, I, Leia’s mama, will always be praying peace over your heart. Thank you for protecting our little girl the only way you knew how. We love you and one day, when she is old enough to understand, she will too.

May God bless you and keep you.

Sincerely,

Our daughter’s adoptive mom

 

 

 

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Today marks one year.

One year ago, today, I met the little girl that now calls me mama. That statement alone causes me to tear up and be at a loss for words. She spent two years in an orphanage. Two years without parents to comfort her. Two years with nannies, foster parents, and other kids that became her family. And then just like that, in an instant, life changed for her.

The first photo I took of her.

The first photo I ever took of her.

Last year we were just a couple of strangers to her. Strangers with food in our hands to entice her to not to cry when we held her.

Now we are her parents. And she is our daughter. One year later I can declare that WE ARE FAMILY.

Her gotcha day was glorious. It was a day that so many unknowns became clear. We are forever thankful for the smoothness of that day.

But the year was challenging. And rightfully so. Our weeks and months went by with high points and low moments. I vividly remember the first few weeks she was home saying, “I look forward to the day when being a family of five feels normal.” Because it did not feel normal in the beginning. There were a lot of rough edges and bumps along the way. And I am here to say to anyone doing this adoption thing, that its ok if it does not feel normal for a while. Expect it not to. Give yourself some grace!

But here we are, one year later and I am thrilled to say that we are THERE! Yes, we still experience some challenging days. But all FAMILIES have those days. I am overjoyed to proclaim that this feels normal. That life with Leia, our adopted daughter from China, feels normal and no longer foreign.

So to any of you in the beginnings of anything; a diet, an adoption, a career change, bringing a new baby home, or whatever it may be I must say this. Get cozy with being uncomfortable. Accept that new things often do not feel normal. Embrace that awkward ground and give yourself time to be all there. So much goodness grows from such places.

File Mar 07, 6 51 53 AM

Now let’s talk about growth! Here are some of the changes we have seen in Leia Joy:

-She did not cry when she hurt herself when we first met her. She could fall down or smack her head significantly and would not make a peep. Most likely because she was use to no one reacting or repsonding when she did cry. She now knows we will comfort her and cries (or fake cries) when she gets “hurt.” We are happy to give her all the attention she needs when she scrapes her knee or pinches her finger. Her tears show signs of trust and security.

-She knew one English word when we met her. Now she knows more than I can count~

-She use to hit her brother and sister when they cried. If they got hurt or were throwing a fit she would walk up to them and hit them. I have no idea why, but I am happy to say that she no longer does that.

-She loves water and baths. She absolutely hated them the first month she was with us.

-She is secure when it comes to food and will actually leave food on her plate. A big change for sure. In China she would not let one crumb be left in her bowl and would lose her mind if any of it fell on the floor. Not so much any more. She is now completely content with tossing a plate full of food on the floor during her two year old tantrum. Not ideal behavior, but I see the growth even in the tantrum.

-She has gained 13 pounds in one year!

Y’all, it has been a good year. A refining year that we would never trade for anything. We are so grateful to be a family of five. We are so blessed to have found our new normal with our sweet and spicy (Thai hot, actually) daughter, Leia.

Adoption is messy and beautiful. And we are honored to be apart of something so beautifully messy.

Happy Gotcha Day to our precious Leia Joy. You make this family complete!

october 2016_ljb_with dad-1

 

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I tried to sit down and write a two-month update a few weeks ago and I could not do it. I wanted to share all the good things and all the progress made, because those things were in abundance and to share anything less would appear ungrateful. We are so grateful for how smoothly this transition as been.

However my heart was in a different space. It was grateful but also overgrown with grief and selfishness. Even in the midst of so much good I was wrestling with so much ugly. I could not convince myself to just write the pretty. I debated with sharing the ugly though, because the ugly was about me and my heart. So what should I write?

After watching my cursor blink for about fifteen minutes I decided to be completely transparent and just write. Write for me. Write to try to process the junk going on in hopes that processing it would help me make it to the other side.

Below is what poured out that evening.

5/7/16

I typically write from the other side of difficult, once the clouds have parted and the sun is shinning again. Not because I am afraid of sharing my mess, but because I am an encourager by design and sometimes it can be a struggle to encourage others when I am walking in so much discouragement.

So this is new to me, writing in the midst of the difficult. But there are beautiful things to learn in this place too, in the thick of it. Refining is painful and pruning starts out ugly. But I know growth and change await me. Thus I share the struggles today to declare that even in the trying times God is good and He will not forsake me, even in my ugliness.

The Bible says that, “in repentance and rest is our salvation” (Isaiah 30:15). Boy, am I in need of some saving. So this is my confession: I am struggling adjusting to life with a toddler again. We have now been a family of five for two months. Everyone is adjusting beautifully. Our sweet daughter is doing way better than I could ever ask for. She is a gem and blessing. She is bonding well and feels safe. She is starting to trust us and even showing us affection. But she is TWO and in full-fledged toddler mode. Totally normal and I praise God that being in the “terrible twos” is the most difficult struggle we are facing. I know that things could be much worse which is why I feel so selfish that I am struggling so much and why I need to confess the junk in my heart so God can clean it out!

The problem is me. Ugh! That is painful to admit, but it is true. Having a new child in the throws of “toddlerhood” has been shock to my system. I find myself grieving all the freedom that I instantly lost. In the blink of an eye I lost the gift that is going to the restroom alone, taking a shower by myself, going for a run, sending an email at my desktop, peacefully cooking dinner… The list goes on and on of activities that I now do with a demanding, yet adorable babe at my feet. I was not that far removed from this stage before our adoption. My other children are four and five. But oh how quickly I forgot how it felt to have strong-willed shadow.

Parenthood is not an easy assignment and I knew going into this that adjustments would have to be made. But knowing and doing are very different things. I confess that my attitude towards the things I lost has not been a gracious one. It has been one of self-pity, a woe is me attitude. And honestly that is robbing my joy and sucking the life out of me. I really need to get over myself. It is either that or be miserable.

The lesson God is trying to teach me is a simple one: life is not about me.

Ouch. Simple, yet still very difficult to swallow. Thankfully God’s discipline is gentle and in His love He is trying to lead me to something better.

This is what I hear Him speaking to my heart:

Life is not about you, Renee.” It is not about your comfort or your gain. It is not about your plans or your agenda. It is about something much greater. And better. If you could just get past all that you seemed to have lost you would see that I am building something greater for you to enjoy. It comes down to this my daughter; do you trust me? Do you trust that my plans are to give you a hope and a future even while you are smack dab in the middle of two-year-old tantrums? Can you trust that I am sowing good seeds even when you have no fruit as proof yet?

I hear this and know that it true and good, but I am just not there yet. I am not ready to concede. I am not ready to stop being grumpy about this loss. I just want to be mad for a minute about it.

Wow. Now there is some ugly truth for you. If that does not sound like a toddler tantrum I do not know what does. Oh God, you must do a work in me.

5/22/16

After a few weeks of wrestling with my sin and the junk in my heart I can now say “yes God, I trust you”.

I do trust Him. And I am thankful that His loves for me is SO deep and SO wide that He patiently waited for me to get over myself and repent and release this junk. It did take me some time, but my few weeks of pouting are over and I can now proclaim my joy has been restored!

So much has changed: my schedule, my routine, my priorities, but most importantly my heart. And God gets all the credit for the heart change! Because of the work He has done I am now ok with all the “losses” or rather “changes” as I am now calling them. Only God can change our hearts and I am thankful for the work He is doing in mine.

 

AND NOW that I am through this rainstorm may I encourage you, dear friend. 

To you who finds yourself in a pruning season,

Do not get stuck in the middle of your junk. Once it has been revealed do not let the enemy condemn you over and over again about it. Wrestle with the sin in your heart. And then confess it. Release it. Lay it down and let God change you and free you up!

In repentance and rest is our salvation (Isaiah 30:15). Let Him save you while you rest in His grace and mercy! His grace is sufficient enough for all your junk. And their is abundant life on the other side.

Praying that somehow God uses my junk to help free you up! In Jesus name.

 

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  • May 24, 2016 - 11:46 am

    Kaci D - I love your honesty! This has encouraged me so much, it’s hard to find people being real about real life and how hard it is sometimes when God wants us to change! I’m an encourager too, so I totally get your desire for positive posts. Thank you for sharing, it does very much encourage me!ReplyCancel

  • May 24, 2016 - 11:54 am

    Amy - Wow- I cannot tell you enough how much I love what you wrote, or how much I feel like I could’ve exactly written the words myself based on how I am feeling except instead of a toddler I have an infant again !!!
    I have a 13-year-old biological son, a seven-year-old adopted precious daughter from china, and now a seven week old miracle infant biological and she has rocked my world !!!
    Both in wonderful ways and ways of making me feel insane and horrible
    I have complained and cried due to the sleep deprivation eyebags and projectile vomiting !!!
    I have sat up with Jesus for seven weeks now in the middle of the sweet night and cried complained and praised him to please give me strength and you are so right when we are patient and we call to him and trust him and lean on him he always comes through and always succeeds in filling our hearts back up again to make us the mommies we have been chosen to be !!!
    Thank you again for your sweet words and honesty and sharing these words that other mamas need to hear to know we are not alone !!
    ~Amy- the struggle is real, I share it with you 💜ReplyCancel

    • March 23, 2017 - 2:54 am

      admin - AMY!!! I am sad I am just now seeing this comment. But I am thankful to know that other mamas were touched by this post. It is so good to know you are going through things aloneReplyCancel