Selah. Pause. Praise. It’s a tiny word I found 3 years ago that changed my life. Became a mantra. A lifestyle. A mindset and constant prayer. It’s a beautiful word to say out loud. Like a breath. An exhale. A whisper. Lovely and soft and poetic. I say it to myself a hundred times a day. I wear a bracelet that says it. My lock screen on my phone says it. It’s in artwork all around my home. It’s part of me now.
And that little lovely word? It’s the name God whispered to me when he placed a call on my heart. And I want to tell you the whole long story. How I got here. Where I’ve been. And how this message has been shaped and formed for years and years of my life. Formed into three practices that define Selah: the tactical ways to pause and praise and change your life. They are gratitude, creativity, and connection. I’ll begin with gratitude.
You see, when Raines was a baby, I was working a bunch of part time jobs. Raines usually came with me. I juggled her while I merchandised clothing in a boutique. I toted her along to teach preschool music. And the job she didn’t come to? Well, I usually left her screaming at bedtime to go teach cardio dance at a studio. My little jobs didn’t take up much time, and I loved our sweet new life at the beach in a lot of ways. It was full of long walks and exploration and lots of baby snuggles. But I was still exhausted. I was still a new mom in a new place with no friends and three jobs that didn’t feel like stepping towards anything. I was doing them just to do something. Make a little money. Find some identity. But it all just felt so off. Have you been there? Looking at your life and thinking , but WHY am I doing this. That was me. I wanted a greater sense of purpose. To pursue something bigger than me. I wanted a calling. And one day? I was riding alone around and around the island with a sleeping baby in the backseat, and I just said out loud, God, this is not what I meant. I thought I would feel different here. Find a purpose. I feel like I’m meant for more than being exhausted.
And, friend, I am not making this next part up. As clear as I’ve ever felt His presence, I heard God answer me right then. In my car. He said, Focus on your family now. Be patient. Trust in me.
Be patient. Be patient. Be patient. I wrote it over and over. In my journal. In the sand at the beach. Posted on my mirror. And finally, on my heart.
At first? In that moment of clarity and direction? I was not satisfied. I wanted instant gratification. An answer that fit my plans. I had given up everything to move to the beach and start a business (see that story here), and now it was all gone. I wanted to have it all right now. But God said no. Clearly. And so? Unsatisfied, I obeyed. I cut back to one job. The one that filled me up the most - that felt like a step toward some kind of future. I got off social media for months. I put my phone away. And I worked. Practiced. Learned to really focus on my family. No job hunting. No new ideas. No new commitments. Just playing on the floor and cooking dinner and taking long walks and starting a garden and loving them well.
And it was hard. (See more in the Selah story). But somehow, over time, I started asking myself one question when I struggled with contentment: Where is my joy in this moment? I had to train myself to look for the gifts instead of the problems. To see lessons in hardship. And opportunities instead of obstacles. I had to reframe my entire perspective. And guess what, friends? I always found what I was looking for. Good or bad. I found what I sought. And I learned that when I looked deep enough, there was always a gift. Even if the gift was a really hard lesson. It was there. And so? That one little question - Where is my joy in this moment - was the accidental start of my gratitude practice.
And that practice? It’s changed my whole life. Because you want know something crazy? You can’t be angry and grateful at the same moment in time. You can only be one. I choose grateful. You can’t be frustrated and grateful at the same moment in time. You can only be one. I choose grateful. You can’t be anxious and grateful at the same moment in time. You can only be one. I choose grateful. A choice. It’s a choice to be grateful. And we can choose what we want to be in every single moment. Our emotions don’t have to rule our lives. We. Can. Choose. And friends, I promise you, when you breakthrough and see your choice in every moment? You will never be the same.
Am I saying it’s easy? No. It’s hard. It’s work. It’s the literal rewiring of your brain. How you think and operate and process the world. Creating new neurological connections in your brain. It’s real work.
Am I saying it’s instant? That you can just suddenly choose to see rainbows and butterflies everywhere? No. It takes time. And grit. And grace. It’s a process you have to grow through. A constant becoming.
Am I saying you can choose to ignore the painful feelings that come through your life? No. We have to feel those feelings. See them. Sit with them. We can’t wish them away or cover them with disingenuous positivity. But when we’re sad? Anxious. Broken. We can choose to keep going. To let those hard things wash over us, and believe that God is still working FOR us. We can choose to acknowledge the good that has been and the good that will be. We can still choose gratitude moment by moment by moment.
And I that’s what I did. Over and over and over. I chose gratitude. I looked for the joy in every moment. And it very very slowly became my new normal. I rewired my brain to see the gifts and the joys and the miracles and the blessings first and always. I started small with a gratitude journal, just counting what I was grateful for everyday. Then I added new elements like writing more thank you notes and giving small gifts and affirming others more freely. And little by little - over time and with great intention - it became more than a practice for me. It became a lifestyle. A mindset. A way of being. And I started to see why God had told me to be patient. I needed to change my mindset - and my heart - so that I could live fully into His purpose for me. Motherhood. And Selah.
Months and months passed after my moment with God in the car. I was very pregnant with my second baby. And I was really very content - living deeply into my gratitude practice and all the gifts it brought into my life. I was feeling kind of accomplished. Like I had “gotten there.” Content. Grateful. Loved. Worthy. Enough.
So naturally, that’s when God revisited me. It was very different from before. I didn’t cry out for answers or beg for guidance. I was on my way to a doctor’s appointment, driving across the causeway, just weeks before my second baby was due. As I drove, I looked out over the sparkling water, the wide and winding marsh, the boats in the marina, the big beautiful Sidney Lanier bridge in the distance. And my heart swelled with gratitude. For everything. The baby in my belly. The baby at home. My husband. The view. My happiness in that moment. All the people and all the things that brought me joy flooded into my head, and I was overcome. I noticed my overwhelm, and I let myself sink into all the possibility and wonder and energy of that moment.
Then, when I shook free from my emotions, a random thought popped into my head. I wondered if other women would have the same transformational experience with gratitude as me. If the same simple strategies that brought me to that moment of joyful overwhelm could work for other women. And God used that moment to came back into the car with me. You need to share this.
And everything changed. Again. Despite my great resistance. Selah was forming. Gratitude was the beginning. And connection came next.
I can’t wait to tell you how it unfolded from here. You won’t believe it.
Love + Light,