Here I raise my (30th) ebenezer.

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and
Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, 

“Till now the LORD has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12

My friend was telling me that her husband said, "Jessi made such a big deal out of her 29th birthday, do you think she'll do the same this year? She really seems to like her birthdays." I've got to be honest, I totally do. I'm caught. My 30th birthday is this coming Sunday and I've had a little tingling in my heart all week because I'm genuinely so excited. But the more I think about it, I don't think it's because I like cake or even parties a whole lot - it's because I love ebenezers. Just as much as I love goals and planning and dreaming big, I love looking back and seeing what He's done and I sure enough love looking forward. 

In about a dozen ways, I'm incredibly excited and expectant for 30. I feel home and settled and ready to develop in several different areas of my life. For a quick recap: 

- My 26th birthday, I was struggling with deep depression and anxiety and hiding it. We'd just moved from Seattle and our future was incredibly unclear. 
- My 27th birthday, I'd just lived through a rough year. Depression, Glory's seizures, and a miscarriage all piled on top of each other. I emailed about 15 girlfriends and asked them to pray for the Lord to turn a page and start a new season. 
- My 28th birthday, we were in Fort Wayne. So much of the depression and heaviness from the past few years had passed, but that season brought it's own issues. I remember feeling very lonely and unsure about our future. 
- My 29th birthday we were HERE in Charleston. In our home, preparing to plant our church, really starting to taste what settled felt like. I felt inadequate for what we'd been called to, but hopeful. There were a lot of unknowns, but there was a lot of hope. 

such a treat to celebrate with some women this week. 

such a treat to celebrate with some women this week. 

And now, here we are. 30! There are still so many unknowns ahead with church planting and business, but there is one great big known: God is enough. He's brought our family here and brought us through a great deal in the last year and I feel confident times a million that He'll continue to be near and strong in the future. 

A few other mini-Ebenezers:
This time last year I was still struggling with intense body insecurity and He has given me a seriously huge gift of freedom there. I went through the Revelation Wellness program and worked closely with Alisa, and then started to really learn to listen to the Lord about this. My goal is still absolutely to grow in my health, every day, but I haven't weighed myself for months and the angry voices screaming "f-a-t" in my head get answered much quickly than they used to with truth. I feel strong and hopeful. 

This time last year, Nick and I were wrestling through what it meant to be on each other's team. Every date night included an "intense fellowship" and typically a little yelling. God has done a huge work here, and I've never felt as encouraged or united with him. Our date nights include a lot of laughing these days and I feel like we can look at each other and smile in grace a lot quicker, where we used to find fault and get bitter. 

pre-birthday date with this guy. the best. 

pre-birthday date with this guy. the best. 

Seven and a half years into motherhood, I don't feel like an expert and I'm still not sure what I'm doing. But by God's grace, I'm believing more every day that He gave these kids to me on purpose. And by God's grace, I am LOVING being a mom. I've always loved my kids, but I've struggled to really love and feel right in this role. The Lord has helped me to see that I don't have to feel super wise and natural in this role, since He is all I need, He will be the strong one and I can boast all the more in my weaknesses. 

Community and church-wise, I am so grateful for where we are. I am very literally in the grip of God's grace, learning how to love people and letting them love me. But I DO love the church and I hopeful for the Bride of Christ and really, really thankful for my role in it. I think we're in one of the scariest seasons of church planting there is, there's the constant temptation to do, do, do, do and burn out. But! We're here. And we are excited and humbled and we have a beautiful community growing around us. 

So, here, a few days out from thirty. I raise my ebenezer. I love these lines that the Lord has drawn for me and I love Him more than the life He's given me.
I'm excited for the future and I'm grateful for the present. 
I don't know if I'll have cake, but His help is something to celebrate. 
Let's do this, 30. 

I'm giving myself a little birthday gift in starting a new idea that I've been stewing on. Naptime Diaries has an official newsletter, but I don't! I've wanted a place to be able to genuinely talk about some heart + life things in a more unfiltered way so I'm going to be doing that through twice monthly personal newsletters. The content will be very real funny videos from our family, updates on books I'm writing or what is going on with our church, and probably a little more intimate look into what is on my heart. I'd love to have you sign up!