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Lauren C.

Today, Lauren speaks to us about some essentials you won’t want to miss, grace for moms, not despising beginnings, a book you will want to add to your list (I know it’s on mine!) and wisdom we can learn from Abraham.

Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up as a pastor’s kid and always attended private Christian school in the Pacific Northwest. It allowed me to develop an understanding of and relationship with Jesus from an early age, and I am so thankful for that grace over my life! Opportunities to learn and grow in more broad environments definitely refined my faith and made it more personal, but faith has always been foundational to who I am. I had godly love and community modeled for me and don’t take those opportunities or the hard work it took from my parents to provide them for granted. I grew up with my husband in the church, and now we’re striving to raise our own kids in a way that prioritizes Jesus first and everything else second. That’s one of the things I admire most about my mom and dad, and I hope to honor that part of my childhood by continuing to strengthen the faith of our family through generations!

Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: I’ve been studying Romans through the end of 2020 and into 2021, and it’s always a favorite! Lately, chapter 4 stands out to me most. It’s led me to dig deeper into Abraham’s story in Genesis 12-22, and God’s been teaching me a lot through his story. I think after the year we’ve had, we could all use a reminder that God is good at keeping His promises. All He asks us to do is believe Him and be faithful while we wait for Him to fulfill them. “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness… Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him… he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.” (Romans 4)

Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Faithfulness. In 2020, God kept bringing me back to Matthew 25 and the idea that He gives all of us something to steward. How we do that is up to us and determines how He can entrust us with more. I want to be so faithful with the people and places and positions God has given me to steward that He can consider me up for the task of taking on more for His kingdom and being used for greater glory. When it means stepping out in faith and boldness. AND when it means waiting with joy and being faithful with small beginnings or stagnant seasons. My word for 2021 is ‘faithful,’ and I am so excited for what God will continue to teach me on this and so encouraged by the truth that even when we are found faithless, He remains faithful! (2 Timothy 2:13)

Profession: I have the privilege of staying home with my two boys (ages 2 years and 10 months!), and this last year accepted a position on staff at our home church as the director of women’s ministry. I also serve on the board of Salem Angels (a local nonprofit that serves children and families experiencing foster care) and occasionally write and speak to encourage women with biblical truth.

If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? “Change of plans” I may or may not be working on it right now, *wink* and my next one would have something to do with joy, for sure!

When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? Because I grew up with such a solid faith foundation, I don’t remember a time without feeling personally pursued by Jesus and encountering Him in a real way. I used to envy the way other people encounter God differently than me, especially people who have wisdom that comes with age and experience over time. I’m learning not to despise my beginnings and to give myself grace for what I haven’t yet encountered. Even more though, I’m learning that God answers when we ask Him for more. More direction, more help, more Him! The older I get, the more I get to know Him and the more I learn this, the more I encounter Him and more importantly, I think, the more He encounters me.

“I’m learning not to despise my beginnings and to give myself grace for what I haven’t yet encountered.”

What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? It’s not a glamorous answer, but discipline. We like to prioritize feelings when it comes to joy, motivation, decisions, etc… Feelings are important, but they’re easily moved. I don’t want to be someone who is easily moved by circumstances within or around me. But that kind of steady resolve doesn’t last if we’re relying on feelings. Especially this year, when I think it’s been harder for Christians to remain firm and confident than ever, discipline has helped me get back on track and stay there. Limiting what influences me, where it comes from and how often, keeping the Word of God in its place, spending my time in a way that reflects those priorities… Constantly seeking Jesus. When I feel like it and when I don’t!

“Limiting what influences me, where it comes from and how often, keeping the Word of God in its place, spending my time in a way that reflects those priorities… Constantly seeking Jesus.”

Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. I was skeptical when a woman in my church recommended it to me because it was written in 1955, but it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. It tells a story of a woman named “Much Afraid” who was given a promise by God to take her to the highest places. The journey to get there is unexpected and Much Afraid has to decide whether she will trust and surrender to where God wants her even if it doesn’t make sense. She meets a flower named “Joy With Acceptance” and decides that following God, even to the lowest places, even if He never keeps His promise to her, is worth it. And along the way she learns to trust Him to keep his promise because of who He is instead of what she sees. I think the lesson is pretty self explanatory, and it rocked. my. world!

Top three essentials: 1) My Bible – I’m hungrier for it than ever, and it’s so exciting. If you’ve never felt that way about God’s word, I encourage you to ask Him for help! The feeling follows the discipline… not the other way around! 2) Dates with my husband! It gets harder and harder to maintain a healthy marriage with every new season (and baby!), but it’s one of the most worthy ways to spend our time and it’s SO deserving of prioritizing! When our marriage is good, so is everything else! 3) Exercise. It’s been a long time since I made it a priority, and recently I decided it was time and wow. It’s doing wonders for my physical and mental health. Those endorphins are good and these bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. We’ve got to get better at treating them that way!

“When our marriage is good, so is everything else!”

How did God speak to you recently? When I first became a stay-at-home mom a couple years ago, I clearly felt God telling me He wanted to use me in women’s ministry, and it made no sense. The timing seemed wrong, and I didnt have the time or energy to do anything about it. At least not the “right” things I thought. That was when I started my blog because it was what I could do. I also started a women’s Bible study at my church and was just committed to showing up in obedience how I could. A little over a year later, I was reached out to by my pastor’s wife, totally out of the blue. She told me God told her she was supposed to offer me the director of women’s ministries position at our church. She didn’t even know if I’d be interested, but God had worked everything out and used my small steps of faithfulness to encourage her to approach me. I began in ministry for our church a little over a year ago now and it has been the coolest confirmation of God’s calling on my life. If God gives you a dream or calling, you can be confident “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” (Philippians 1:6)

Hobby: I LOVE thrifting! But honestly, I do more online shopping these days. Definitely a different kind of fun.

Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong? 1) Once I heard Elisabeth Hasselbeck say, “Read the good news before the bad news,” and it stuck with me. I really try to let God have the first say in my day. Some seasons that’s looked like not touching my phone until my devotions are done. Lately, it means using my boys’ morning quiet time to get quiet with God no matter what. It’s so formative to the rest of the day and I can tell the difference when I miss it. 2) Be a learner. Find podcasts that inspire and teach you, read more (even if it means watching less TV)… My pastor says He doesn’t trust leaders who don’t read because it’s foolish to not take advantage of the opportunity to learn what it took others a lifetime to learn in a few hours. I’m working on that! 3) Guard your heart! Surround yourself with people who influence you intentionally and point you towards Jesus, spend your time on things that are uplifting (Philippians 4:8), protect your home from the inside out.

“I really try to let God have the first say in my day.”

Favorite person in scripture? This changes all the time depending on where God’s leading me and what He’s teaching me. Right now I’m going to say Abraham because of what I’m learning from him. It’s pretty relatable the way he tries to take things into his own hands over and over in the 25 years of waiting for Gods promise. He messes up a lot, but God still finds him righteous because at the end of the day, he believes God more than anything else and is willing to go wherever God leads. He simply found favor and blessing from God because of his faith. That’s the kind of faith I want!

What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I want more than anything to be an example of the joy and hope we have in Jesus. This world is not our home, but Jesus came so that we could have life abundantly. I want it to be said of me while I was here that people encountered the hands and feet of Jesus when they encountered me. That they knew His love by knowing me and that I led the charge in worshipping Him with way I lived here. When they see me laugh without fear of the future, may they know it’s because of the hope I have in heaven. And may it make them hungry for the one who has given it to me.

How do you leave your mark on your community? I think about this ALL the time. Sometimes to a fault. We want to be remembered and there are so many ways to do that. But I think the most meaningful thing to be remembered for is for people to know Jesus and become more effective for His kingdom because of you. I hope more of my earthly community is in heaven because of me. Because of how I live love and how I die to myself for the sake of others and show up in tangible ways as Jesus to the people He’s placed before me. Even just one more. That would be enough.

Favorite holiday? Christmas for sure. Valentine’s Day is a close second!

A goal you have? I’d love to write a book some day! I hope to own my dream home in the next couple years. I wouldn’t mind being able to get through a spin class in one piece again… How much time do you have?! I’m a goal setter… too much of one sometimes!

A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Family dinners around the table! It’s a more regular tradition, but the older I get, the more I realize how unique it is and how influential it was in the relationships within my family and honestly just in my life as an individual. It’s something I really want to continue and develop as a key part of the culture of my own family.

Question you will ask when you get to heaven? I want to see the behind the scenes of all the little ways God was always working things together for good. It’s easier to look back and see how things unfolded, but I know there is so much we will never get to see here on earth. I think it will give us an entire other level of understanding and awe when we meet God.

Thing you want to raise awareness about? How crazy hard it is to be a mom who is also a wife and an employee and an individual woman of God with goals and dreams and desires and probably 5 other titles at the same time. There are so many great resources out there, but I hope to be a voice that acknowledges that motherhood is the hardest job and calling while also being SO beautiful and worthy of the work. Womanhood is full of transitioning seasons and juggling callings and wearing many hats. We need more awareness about the unique challenges women face in this season especially and I hope to be a voice of encouragement and advocate for grace for other moms, even if it’s just within my own circle.

“There are so many great resources out there, but I hope to be a voice that acknowledges that motherhood is the hardest job and calling while also being SO beautiful and worthy of the work. Womanhood is full of transitioning seasons and juggling callings and wearing many hats.”

What does your morning routine consist of? My husband is the greatest man out there and also a morning person (which I am not) so, he takes the early morning with our early risers and lets me sleep in an extra hour. Which is an even greater blessing since often I’m up at some point with one of our boys for who knows what reason! They all wake me up with kisses and coffee, and it’s the best way to start a new day! It’s pretty unstructured after that until my kids are down for quiet time and I can have my own. In other seasons, I’ve had more “routine” but I’m learning that different seasons require different approaches, and I’m okay with that. Always coffee, always quiet time with Jesus, almost always some form of getting ready for the day (even if it’s at 4 pm before my husband gets home!) it just helps me feel better; more productive and ready for whatever the day holds!

What is on your nightstand? Emily Ley (highly recommend all her books!) Says you should have at least 2 things you love on your nightstand! So currently, I have a vase of flowers from my husband (I told you he was the best!), whatever book I’m currently reading, and a framed “Live Loved” print from Lysa Terkeurst’s Proverbs 31 Ministry team that they sent me when I partnered with them on a book promotion. I’m the BIGGEST fan of her and her team and “live loved” is a concept from her book Uninvited that was one of the most impactful things I’ve ever read. So it means a ton to me!

Define Christianity in a sentence: A life dedicated to following Jesus because of the acknowledgement that it was what I was created for and in response to the gift of grace I was given through the belief in Jesus and the power of His sacrifice for me and the hope that comes from confidence that I will be united with Him in heaven.

For more Lauren:

IG: @laurennoelcarter

For encouragement: TheGuestRoom.blog

And lastly, Church on the Hill Women’s Ministries for friends in the Salem Oregon area looking for a community!

Until next time, keep witnessing!

XX

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