Merry Christmas, Indeed.

A little late, I know. But I have a story I’ve been dying to write about for months now and due to the literal insanity of my life, am just getting to it.

It was a usual Christmas morning at the Atwood household. I woke up to little feet pittering and pattering down the hall and sweet voices doing their best to whisper despite the excitement welling up as they saw that Santa Clause did indeed come.

Momma made hot coffee along with her homemade and oh so gooey cinnamon rolls. It was a perfect start to what I didn’t know then, would be the best Christmas ever.

Hours later, with gift wrap scattered throughout the house, children playing contently with their new toys, and everybody’s bellies full to the brim with a delicious Christmas feast, Alec picked me up. We had planned to go have our own little Christmas separate from the craziness of both our families traditions and such.

We drove to downtown Matthews, where we had fallen in love years ao as we strolled through the streets. He had packed a cozy blanket and candle which he spread out underneath a gazebo covered in magical white lights.

To most, it would be obvious that my sweet boy had something sneaky up his sleeve. But not to me… Alec is always so thoughtful and romantic and honestly the thought hardly crossed my mind. Although I would be lying if I said I didn’t want it. I just didn’t think it was possible yet.

Anyways, after exchanging our gifts and playing “let’s see who can throw this crumbled up piece gift wrap in the trashcan over there”, it was time to pack up. But just before we did my best friend, gave me a kiss, told me he loved me,  got one knee and said “Hannah, will you marry me?” as he opened a little box with the prettiest ring.

I was 110% surprised and 200% excited. “Here?! Now?!” I said in disbelief.  “Well, not actually here and now but soon!” my darling responded.  Of course I said yes and the rest of the night was spent hugging, dancing, crying with family, and by end of it, my face hurt from smiling so much.

I am beyond thankful to my Savior for bringing Alec Wayne Mangum into life. I thankful for God’s faithfulness throughout our relationship. And I am thankful for a man who loves without reservation the people around him. I can’t wait to call him husband.

 

 

– hannah

 

 

 

 

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A Thankful Heart.

It comes when I lay all my worries, inadequacies, fears, and doubts at the foot of the cross.  The moment when I except the fact that no matter how hard I try, nothing is going to be perfect, and I am content in that. This is when my God swoops in and makes everything more perfect than I could ever imagine. The moment when I give Him all my expectations is when God comes and completely blows my mind. The moment I choose to pause and focus in on the bluebird and all his extravagant colors, instead of worry about the laundry waiting to be done and the paper waiting to be written. The moment when I make the decision to open the door to my heart is when my God comes in and adorns it with gratitude.

Yesterday was a challenging day for me. Occasionally I am hit with a deep and agonizing longing for those I love most. My sweet family has spread out to make their own lives, and my darling is up in Virginia, working his hardest everyday, so that he can come and see me whenever school and work permits it. Needless to say, yesterday was one of those “occasional days.” No matter how hard I tried to focus on my responsibilities, I could not seem to ignore my broken heart, which was getting more blue by the hour. As the day went on, the sadness I felt began to transform into bitterness and anger towards God. “Sometimes I just don’t understand it. Why can’t we just live on the same street here in Charlotte and do everything together, all the time?” My perfect expectations were consuming me. “Why can’t Alec just live in Charlotte? Or why can’t I live in Virginia? God, what were you thinking, moving everybody everywhere? Didn’t you think about little me?” After sitting in my anger for far too long, it became apparent to me that neither my family nor Alec were any closer to living on my street and doing everything with me. The moment my heart opened just a tiny bit the Lord slipped through and I said hello to conviction.

It is always a somewhat dramatic scene when I am convicted of something I have done. As those who are close to me can tell you, every emotion I feel is very strong. I never hesitate to go all the way in wherever I am. It is either very happy or very sad. Very passionate or I really don’t care at all. Some say this is a good thing, others say not so much. Whether it is good or bad, it happens. So as you can imagine, I feel convictions deep in my soul and have a tendency to let it linger, instead of running straight for The Cross. The great thing about my God, though, is that He always meets me where I am. He comes to me, sitting all alone in my shame, picks me up, and washes me in His perfect grace. Oh man, I love Him.

This is exactly what happened to me yesterday.  Jesus ambushed my heart like a stealthy ninja and gently (yet sternly) told me of my fault. Recently my pastor (aka, my amazing daddy) taught on The Lord’s grace. He told us that it is entirely impossible for one to break a single commandment. Once you have committed adultery, you have stolen someone who isn’t your own. Once you have stolen, you have coveted. Once you have coveted, you have made an idol…etc. I had been discontent, which means I did not trust the Lord and his providence and will for my life. Which means I questioned The Lord’s sovereignty…etc.  However, the most beautiful thing about my God is that He never gives up on me and always has more than enough grace to cover my sins. He is completely unconditional in His love and always comes to save me and redeem me.

I realized then and there that God, everyday, gives each of us a very clear choice. Whether to be thankful in every situation and circumstance that He puts us in, or question His sovereignty. For that is what un-thankfulness truly is. We don’t trust Him. We aren’t content in what He has provided, therefore we say it’s not enough… Which implies that He doesn’t know what we need, saying He is not sovereign. This is dangerous territory, my friends. God provides us with not only our needs, but He gives us extra gifts along the way. God’s little gifts are so easily missed. Until we sit down and focus, recognizing them in every day life, they become buried by our jumbled lives. When I choose a thankful heart, God highlights these blessings: My little brothers smile, my niece’s wobble, the frigid foggy morning, a hot and steamy cup of Earl Grey tea. These are gifts. The Lord is sovereign.

Today, I choose to be thankful. The amazing thing is that the more thanks I send up to Heaven, the more joy comes my way. As I thank Him for His faithfulness, grace, and love, He opens my spiritual eyes to just how truly wonderful and big He is. My God is sovereign and full of gifts for His children.

“Praise to The Lord! Oh give thanks to The Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!” – Psalm 106:1

– hannah

To those who feel forgotten

I am right there with you. The past two years have been full of so much joy and so much change. But through it all there was an aching for something I knew was missing. Something that once was there but had gone away, or at least I felt as if it did. The pure light of my God’s presence wasn’t as obvious in my life as it had been in the past. I was seeking Him, worshipping Him, praying to Him and oh my was I longing for Him. My heart ached for what used to be. A relationship with my Jesus that overflowed into every area my life. I couldn’t help but feel His love. Then one day I woke up at that was gone. I searched and searched and searched for that Holy place but it was nowhere to be found. I was lost. This past year I’ve not given up hope. I continue to search of my Papa but now I have a new perspective, a new goal.

This entire time I’ve been trying to go back to where I was with Him, back to the way things used to be. Back…. isn’t that the opposite direction I want to be headed? I’ve realized that our God is a God of seasons. He brings us through dark valleys  just so we can reach the high peaks of joy, freedom and peace. This season is a season of waiting, of seeking, and of longing. The season has changed but My god remains the same and He has not forgotten His daughter. I am excited about this season. I get to show Jesus that I am dedicated to HIM. Not to the feelings He gives me, not to His joy, to His love, or to His peace, but to HIM alone. I trust my Papa. I know He knows I miss Him and I know He knows exactly what He is doing. He knows and I don’t have to.

I look forward to that first day of a new season with Jesus. When I come out of this long and lonely season and step out onto that high peak. Looking out over His creation. Feeling refreshed in His light, His joy, His freedom. But more than that,  feeling refreshed in Him, in Him alone. He’s already here with me, now it’s just my turn to show him my faithfulness. Sit back and relax Jesus…. see how much I love you, how much I want you.

He is all around me and more that He is in me. I am never alone, I am never forgotten.

 

-hannah

home again.

I said goodbye to him again yesterday. I’m not trying to complain but I am getting pretty tired of saying goodbye to the one I want most. It never gets easier. Anyways I thought that yesterday would be miserable but between Jesus and my mama it ended up being just fine.

I prayed joy and peace over the day as I drove home and thanked God for such a fun time with Alec. He answered my prayers by making the air cool and crisp, he told the leaves to slowly turn yellow, gold and brown before my eyes. My hair danced across my face as the brittle wind blew the crunchy leaves from their branches. Fall happened yesterday, my favorite season. Jesus knows me. Joy.
That’s not all…
When I came home, worn out from driving, crying and missing him I noticed flowers waiting for me on my window pane. Gold, brown and yellow… just like the leaves. My mother welcomed me home with her comforting open arms. Peace.

My God knows me so well.

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it’s been awhile.

Life is insane. Since I started my SOPHOMORE year at college there’s hardly been anytime to breath let alone blog. I’m learning how to be efficient with my time. I never realized the full weight of three college classes, being a small group leader, nannying, trying to stay active in my friend, family and church life, doing my best at spending time with Jesus and trying to squeeze in little visits to Virginia (where my boyfriend lives). Woah. Maybe it doesn’t sound like a lot but for this little homeschooled child it’s been a HUGE adjustment.

But God.
He is always here by my side. He’s never ceasing in his love and his peace. He’s walking me through this new season step by step and I am growing, learning and trusting. Yes, I am SO overwhelmed. Yes, I miss my boyfriend like crap. Yes, I have no money at all. Yes, I am sick of never understanding. But Yes, God is my protector and my provider. He gives me strength and peace. I am so excited for this season of surrender to my Papa.

What an adventure it will be.

-hannah