Personal

Blessed Brokenness

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“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. “

Matthew 5:3-6

Teach me, I prayed. Teach me what it means to be poor in spirit. Teach me what it means to mourn. Teach me to be gentle. Teach me to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Teach me what it means to be blessed. Not the kind of blessed that’s accompanied by a hashtag, but the kind that is only found in Your presence. Teach me to embrace the kind of life that your son redeemed me for.

I have so much to be thankful for. My life overflows with love. My business is prosperous. My needs are met. I am so, so thankful for the joy that God pours into my life everyday. But I am also learning to be thankful for the hard things. The dark things. The challenging things.

I prayed that God would teach me to be poor in spirit; to recognize my deep and abiding need for Him everyday, and He answered. He answered by unearthing sin in my life that I had fought desperately to bury or hide from Him. He answered by bringing people into my life whose pain I could not heal. He answered by bringing my fears and my insecurities into the light where I could see them and feel the pull of their gravity.

And you know what? I am thankful. 

I am thankful that God in His lovingkindness has chosen to remove my spiritual blindness and allows me to feel the depth of my need for Him. It is an every day, every moment, every breath kind of need that rises up from the deepest part of my soul; a need that can only be satisfied by knowing the One who knit me together.

I am thankful for the times of mourning that I have walked through this year; for moments of brokenness over my sin and over difficult circumstances that have carved a path for the peace and comfort of the Lord to flow in and through my life.

I am thankful that His limitless power, perfect knowledge, and absolute sovereignty render me unnecessary, but His undeserved grace, abundant mercy, and overwhelming love redeem me, heal me, and invite me to participate in His work.

I am thankful that Christ is victorious over sin, death, and the grave, and through Him I have life and freedom. I am thankful that even though I cannot heal the broken, I can walk into their pain and introduce them to the One who can lead them out of it.

I am thankful for the joy and the sorrow; the light and the darkness; the mountain tops and the valleys. I am thankful that not one moment of this life will ever be wasted, because all of it can lead me deeper into His presence. 

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What You're Not Supposed To Do In Church

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This morning when I went to church, I did something that you're not supposed to do.

I was late to the service, so I was awkwardly standing in the back of the room looking for an empty seat when prayer time began. I spotted an open chair, swooped in while everyone else had their eyes closed, and then it happened.

While everyone else was praying, I kept my eyes open and looked around. I know, I know. You're not supposed to keep your eyes open during prayer time, but I did. And as I looked around the room, my eyes were opened to a beautiful truth.

I saw a young man gripping the back of the chair in front of him whose white knuckle grip gave the impression that letting go of that chair would mean his unraveling.

I saw a woman whose peaceful face was lifted up, as though the simple act of looking toward heaven would fill her heart with grace.

I saw a woman lift her hand, hesitate, and then tenderly slip her arm around behind her husband. He returned her gesture with a warm embrace of his own, and she rested her head against his shoulder as they leaned on one another.

I saw a man with a broad smile on his face who lifted his hands as he mouthed a silent word of praise to his King.

Looking around that room, you may think that I was aware of the differences in our postures or needs, but that's not the case. The Holy Spirit whispered to my heart and said, You don't have many different needs and one answer to those needs. You have many different circumstances that make you aware of your one shared need: Jesus Christ. 

You could be a student just trying to make it through one more day of high school without failing a test, a husband who is every day becoming more aware of the brokenness of his marriage, a soon-to-be mom who is both excited and terrified about the prospect of raising a child, or a man who is beginning to wonder why his career doesn't bring him the peace, security, and fulfillment that he was hoping for. Our present circumstances are very different, it's true. But our circumstances all point us towards our one need, our one hope, our one purpose. 

It's this - our shared need for our Savior - that connects us, that makes us a community, and that bonds us as family. 

He Taught Me to Choose

He could have waited. After all, he did not choose for our country to go to war. He did not choose to be part of the draft. Like so many other young men of his generation, his choices were limited by the decisions that his country’s leaders had made. No matter what his dreams or ambitions were, they would have to wait, because one day his number would be called and he would be sent to fight in Vietnam. He could have waited.

But you see, that’s not my dad. Even at such a young age, he was not one to sit around and wait for things to happen to him. So instead of waiting to be drafted, he signed up to serve in the Navy. Volunteering for service meant that he would have to join the conflict sooner and serve longer than he otherwise would have. It meant placing his life in the hands of the men with whom he served and taking their lives in his hands. It meant traveling to strange and distant places to take part in a conflict that he didn’t fully understand. It meant returning home to a culture that would curse and abuse him for his willingness to go. However, it also meant that my dad had a choice in his future. For my dad, the ability to choose is invaluable and something well worth sacrificing for.

Saying thank you does not feel like enough, but it is a start. So thank you for your service. Thank you for being willing to go before you were called and stay longer than required. Thank you for serving with honor, despite the pain and sacrifice that the task demanded. Thank you for teaching me, both through your words and your actions, to choose what is right over what is easy. Thank you for showing me that when my circumstances seem to dictate a certain outcome, I have the ability to make a choice and make a way for myself.

You taught me not to let my circumstances overwhelm me.
You taught me to be proactive rather than reactive.
You taught me not to focus on things that are outside of my control.
You taught me to invest my energy into the things that I can affect.
You taught me to choose.

Thank you.
I love you.

Celebrating Five Years

5 years ago today, Robert and I stood before our closest family and friends and entered into a covenant relationship that would change, challenge, and strengthen us as individuals and as a couple. We promised our lives to each other in marriage. We wrote our own vows, and as I re-read them I couldn't help but realize that these promises are as important to our marriage today as they were on our first day. And I am excited to share them with you.

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Robert,

I love you. I feel like I’ve loved you for most of my life. I prayed for you and wrote letters to you long before I knew your name. I knew that God was preparing someone incredible for me, so I waited for you. I never imagined that He would bring me someone so loving, compassionate, genuine and strong. I have so much respect for you, and I am often overwhelmed with gratitude that God chose you to be my husband. I love you, and today I make this covenant with you:

I will honor the authority that God has given you as my husband. I believe that God chose us for each other so that we can glorify him together and that we share the responsibility to walk worthy of His calling, but I also believe that He has chosen you to be the head of our household, so I will look to you for leadership as we pursue His will together.

I will never leave you. I know that a lasting marriage does not happen accidentally, so I will strive with you daily to strengthen our love. I believe that the love we receive in marriage is not something we’re entitled to. It’s a precious, gracious gift that we give each other, and I will remind myself to celebrate it.

I will use the strengths that God has given me to encourage you to live confidently for Christ. I will challenge you to seek deeper intimacy in your relationship with our Lord, and I will strive to live in a way that makes you love Him more.

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I know that you were created for me, and you bring more love and joy to my life than I ever imagined I would receive, but I also know that you were not created to be my idol. I love you and I respect you, but I will not expect you to fill all of the empty places in my heart. I was created with a need to know the Lord, and I will not use our marriage as a distraction from or as a substitute for my relationship with Jesus Christ. I will humble myself daily in His presence, knowing that the only way I can be the wife you need is to be the disciple that He longs for me to be.

Finally, I give myself to you and you alone. I will love you in every way I know how, and when I reach the end of my own strength, I will renew myself in the presence of the Lord and choose to love you again. I choose you today to be my husband, and I will choose every day to be your loving wife.

LaurenRobert-1602

5 Surprising Facts About Me

I'm currently working with a designer to create a new online experience for my clients and blog readers, and I could not be more excited about it! I've spent countless hours pouring my heart and soul into this project, and I am so proud of what Krista and I have created. I can't wait to share it with you! While writing my new "About Me" page, I did a brainstorming activity where I wrote down everything I could think of that makes me unique. The following 5 facts did not make the cut for the new website, but I thought they'd be fun to share with you anyway! So here are 5 surprising facts you may not know about me.   1557152_10100755644564159_1511889012_o I am a UGA football fan. Although I am a Georgia Tech graduate, I was raised by my dad to bleed red and black. I traded sides and became a Yellow Jacket fan when I began my freshman year of college, but I promptly returned to my Bulldog roots after I graduated in 2009.

I regularly sing in public. In the car. In the hallway at school. In the reception hall at your wedding. In the pasta aisle at the grocery store. If I’m awake, I’m probably singing. It happens so naturally that sometimes I don’t realize I’m doing it until someone laughs at me or joins in with me (both of which happen on a regular basis). 

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I am a high school math teacher. I teach Algebra II, Geometry, and Pre-Calculus at a small private school in McDonough. I love working with high school students as much as I love photographing weddings. Working two full time jobs is a challenge, but my students and clients bring so much joy and laughter into my life I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I dance terribly. I also dance often. If you don’t believe me (or if you just need a good laugh), watch this. Be prepared for a serious case of second hand embarrassment!

My husband has an unending list of nicknames for me, most of which have to do with my hilarious sleep habits. Sleepy Queen, Sleepasaurus Rex, Sleepy Monster, and Sleepapotamous are some of his favorites.

OK, it’s time to confess! If you are reading this, I want to hear something about you that may surprise me. Leave a comment below and let me know. I always love hearing from you!