Sunday, September 11, 2016

Made Perfect in Weakness- Best News Ever

Let me tell you something, I can be ugly.
This is no shocker to my husband who has more than a gazillion times heard that tone of criticism in my voice or sat back to observe me manipulate a situation to make myself look better and look "right".

There are so many moments throughout my weeks where I sincerely do not like myself.

I don't like my tone.
I don't like my "hurry up and go" attitude.
I don't like this battle I have with wanting to eat more than I should.
I don't like feeling like I'm not always a woman of my word- saying- "Yes" to this and "Absolutely" to that and then forgetting where to go and what commitments I have made.
I don't like wondering if my children feel loved and whether or not I am enough for my husband.
My work gets skimped over some weeks because my heart is simply stuck in a place of worry or anxiety and I cannot focus.
This is my life, and although this ugliness is heavy and hard and frustrating to me, I have learned the peace that comes in admitting that I am a failure and that I am weak.

I have learned so much over these past months since I not-purposefully took a break from the blog.
I have learned that I am more than enough and more than I ever thought I could be as a Mom, Wife, Ministry leader, Worker, etc.. while simultaneously learning that I am so much less than I ever thought I could be in all of those same areas.

How is that even possible you might wonder?

I don't know if I can eloquently explain it all but here goes some good truths I think are worthy of framing and highlighting and somehow maybe sitting with for awhile if you need them...

I can take all of these failures, admit them and find what I need to overcome them in God.

Because God is the perfect forgiver, when I am ugly, I can find forgiveness in Him.

I have alot of links in this post and I want to encourage you to check them all out. I love it when I can find all I need in Word of God and I want to prove it to you by supporting all of these things I am saying with God's Word.

When I fail as a wife to love my husband the way I need to, because God is the definition of love Himself, I can ask Him to teach me.

Because God's Word is the perfect and total truth, there is nothing I cannot find help for by reading it, studying it and making it my life's passion.

When I am rushing and anxious, I can remember to seek first His kingdom and all that I need will be added unto me. I don't need to add to my life, I need to seek Him FIRST and then HE will add to my life.

Because God says that man does not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God and that I am to hunger and thirst for righteousness and I will be filled!  I can turn away from indulging my flesh and ask instead that God help me to crave Him and find fulfillment in Him.

When I am over-scheduling myself and saying "yes" to too many people, I can remember that the most important YES I need to say is to that time in the early morning, or in my car, or on my lunch break or when I wake up in the middle of the night when God gives me space to connect with Him, to pray and to cry out. No other "Yes" is more important. I can remember that all of His promises to me are "Yes" and "Amen" and that He will always keep His promise.

Because God has chosen ME to parent my children certainly I can trust that He will equip me to be a good mother as long as I keep being willing to admit that I need Him to help me parent these precious kiddos. He was there when they were formed, there is no mistake that these children are meant for me.

When I wonder if I am enough for my husband, I can breathe a sigh of relief because no human being is EVER enough for another and I can simply ask God to get between us and be that third cord that keeps us knotted together in Christ.

Because God has got the entire, gigantic universe in His hands, I can stop and be present in each moment of my day, before work, during work, after work and in the roles I play as wife, working, mother, ministry leader and I can do all unto Him and for His glory. He is Almighty, I can rest in each moment because He is faithful to keep the world spinning. 

In Him and because of Him, I can be more than I ever thought I could be and in my flesh I can be just as much a failure and a disaster in all those areas just as easy when I turn my eyes away from my Savior.

This process, this sanctification is no joke, it is a daily battle and I don't care who you are or what your life looks like from the outside, we are all knee deep in it. If we are not knee deep in it, then we are probably not being honest with ourselves.

The amazing thing is that although I find myself bouncing back and forth within these two extremes throughout my week, I find myself doing is LESS, I find myself moving back to Him FASTER, I even find myself stopping and pausing when I am tinkering on the edge of relying in my self instead of Him and running straight back to Him before taking the plunge.  I am remembering that He is the one who promises to meet my needs. 

Knowing who God is and Knowing that my purpose is to bring Him glory, I can be honest with myself and others in admitting that it is a struggle but that when I am letting Him lead, holy cow is it an amazingly victorious and overcoming ride.

I am capable of conquering my sin in the name of Christ every day in my weakness.
I am capable of being a loving and gracious wife and mother in my weakness.
I am capable of working my job and honoring God in my work in my weakness.
I am capable of leading women in their walk with the Lord in my weakness.

His power is made perfect, when I am weakest. 

When I can admit that I have reached the end of myself, that is where I find the power to be all that God has called me to be. And it is not a burdensome journey in the way that the weight of living for self and being enslaved to sin is. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. 

God's power, made perfect in weakness, that's the best news this Christian Working Mama has heard in a very long time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Invisible Wounds- Melinda Means- Book Excerpt and Just WOW!!

"Invisible Wounds"- what does that bring to my mind? You know, I have not blogged in a very long time it seems...I have honestly wondered what it is I had to say that I have not said before.

As Christian Working Moms, we have all kinds of stuff brewing beneath the surface, sometimes related to our working Mom "stuff", sometimes not. As Moms, as women, as PEOPLE, we have been wounded. Wounded from those who professed that they loved us, wounded by illness and brokenness that won't go away, wounded by unanswered questions and what may seem like unanswered prayers.

I have been in a season of feeling like my story was not important, that is why I have been quiet on the blog. I don't know why I felt this way- maybe it was because I felt lost in the blogosphere and social media was honestly starting to become more of a chore and more of a distraction.

So I took a break and waited until God brought something into my life where I knew I needed to speak up again and this is it.

Melinda Means is someone I connected with in the past. I followed her blog and one day I sent her a Facebook message. It was one of those spontaneous acts of reaching out to someone who seemed a bit out of my league (a popular blogger and author) but also very honest and I felt like maybe she could give me some hope in a difficult situation. And you know what? She did.

She responded within minutes. She encouraged me and made an impression on my heart as someone who was sincere. I checked my email a few weeks ago and saw that she had written a book called- Invisible Wounds. The title grabbed my attention. Don't we all have wounds?

Even as redeemed believers in Christ, there are some things that just ache inside. Connecting with Melinda and being part of her launch team reminded me that I have some story left to be told in the context of a loving community of women. I am starting to open up again, more to people in my everyday world; my family, my friends, the women in the Bible Study I lead at church. And I am finding, what Melinda found- welcome arms, warrior sisters, ready to help me do battle for peace and healing. 

Want to read more about Melinda's journey and the stories of other women, just like you and I? Check it out... 

The Pain No One Sees
by Melinda Means

I think back to one of my favorite photos of my children.

Molly was three. Micah was nine months old. They look absolutely enchantingly adorable.
Everyone’s smiling and looks happy.

It’s just the perfect photo—no easy feat with little ones. But let me share the story behind this “perfect” snapshot.

I had done all the right things to prepare for the child photography experience. They both had a nap, they’d been fed, and they were dressed in the required darling matching outfits.

I was golden.

We arrived at the mall. That’s when it got interesting.

I lifted my son Micah from his car seat just as he had a diaper blowout of legendary proportions. I used every baby wipe I had and he was still a poopy mess. I was so close to photo-taking victory I could smell it (unfortunately that’s not all I could smell).

So I wrapped him in a blanket and with my daughter in tow we high tailed it through the mall parking lot to find the nearest bathroom.

On the way, my daughter tripped and fell, ripping a hole in her white tights and scraping her knee. Time to throw in the towel? Nope. This newest setback only made me more determined.

In the bathroom, we made a tragic discovery: hand dryers—no paper towels. As my daughter handed me reams of toilet paper, I went to work cleaning up my son. We finally made it to the photo studio.

The result? Adorable.

My son’s plaid outfit masked the stains (if not the smell). My daughter’s strategically placed little hand covered that wound on her knee. No one would ever guess the trauma that had gone on behind the scenes.

Looks can be deceiving, can’t they?

Just like that photo, our pain lurks beneath the surface. It’s often camouflaged by busyness, a confident demeanor, or a tough outer shell.

We hide because we think no one else will understand. Maybe we think we’re to blame. We’re afraid of rejection. We believe it makes us weak. We don’t want others to feel sorry for us. We don’t want our pain to define us.

So we nurse our pain in isolation. We live alone with our invisible wounds.

After 20 years of chronic pain and illness—mine and my son’s—I bear the scars of isolation and discouragement.

My anxiety and insecurity—always a struggle—has sometimes felt nearly unbearable. At times, it has shaken my faith to its very core.

So what do we do with our pain? Where is God in all this? I don’t have all the answers. But here’s something important that I do know: God is not afraid of our questions. He isn’t surprised or appalled by our frustrated, tear-soaked temper tantrums (I’ve had more than a few).
He just wants us to come to Him.

For years, I have looked for an outcome. Relief from my pain. I wanted healing. Period. I still do. But I’ve learned healing can look very different than what we imagine.
Hope and healing can come through telling our stories. It can materialize as God meets us and reveals Himself in the middle of our struggle. It can materialize as we see God redeem our pain.

This isn’t the path I would have chosen for myself. It isn’t the journey I would have chosen for my son, who battles cystic fibrosis.

Yet pain leads us to a deeper walk with God if we are open to gifts that we would never have received without our pain. Others receive gifts they wouldn’t have received without our pain.
God cares. He sees your struggle, sweet friend.

But He wants to do so much more than change our pain. He wants to use our pain to change us.

When our joy, freedom, and hope rest on an outcome, instead of a Person, we will ultimately be disappointed. It is not through the result—the relief of our emotional, physical, or spiritual suffering—that the most important transformation comes. It is through the relationship with Jesus.

I can say that genuinely and with complete conviction. Not because it’s what I’m supposed to say as a good Christian. Or because I’m in denial. It’s because it is what I know and have experienced to be true, particularly over this past year—the most physically, spiritually, and emotionally brutal season that I’ve ever experienced.

Your wounds may be hidden from the world, but they never escape the notice of a loving God.
Through Him, we can find hope—even while we’re hurting.

© Melinda Means. This post includes excerpts from Invisible Wounds: Hope While You’re Hurting. Used with permission.

About Invisible Wounds:
So many of us walk around looking fine. Hidden beneath the surface, however, are deep, painful physical, spiritual and emotional wounds. We feel isolated in our pain. We feel guilty about the private doubts we have about God and His goodness. We live alone with our invisible wounds. 

In this book, Melinda draws from her long history with chronic illness—hers and her son’s—and also shares the stories of seven brave, beautiful women who reveal their hidden hurts. Throughout its pages, she tackles the tough spiritual questions and dark, raw emotions that accompany suffering and illuminates the path that leads to hope that heals. 

Author Bio:  

Melinda Means is a weary soul in need of refreshment from the only Source who can quench our thirst. After years of chronic pain and questioning God’s plan, she has found the joy of seeking the Healer more than the healing. She is a professional speaker and writing coach, as well as coauthor of Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family (Bethany House, 2015). Her website is

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Most Important Question I am Learning to Ask

Sidelines living...going through the motions...making it...surviving...holding on by a thread...

However you say it, we've all said it, sometimes we say it to each other and we laugh and we honestly just need the solidarity of knowing we are not alone in this day in and day out routine of working and mothering. 

We might feel like life has taken over and we are a bit fried and tired and DONE. So- we put on our comfy jeans, get some ice cream, meet a friend, read our favorite book, get our hair done and generally we find a way to get back to feeling full of life again...

But other times we say it so often to ourselves and to others that eventually there is an ache in our heart that cannot be ignored and a sort of desperate gripping that can only come from too long of worn out and empty and purposeless living.

No more Mama friends. Yes, we can be tired, feel overwhelmed, we got a lot going on! Everyone needs us, there are not enough hours in the day, we cannot keep up with the laundry, the kids are fighting, there is no "me" time and we just want to scream. But- we cannot lose sight of the glory of this life. Even in the midst of the chaos, the busy and the hard days grace is available and glory is a-knocking and God is HERE.

You don't have to clean it all up to find joy. You don't have to have A.B. and C. to have peace and freedom. I have been working FT, parenting two kiddos, supporting my husband's coaching and sports commitments, leading a Bible Study and I am thriving. Am I bragging? YES! But not about me, only about my amazing God. I am not thriving because I am an awesome time-manager, because I get up at 5am and workout and do my Bible Study for an hour everyday, or because I have a maid, a Nanny and a ton of resources.

I am thriving only because I have learned to ask God to show me HIS work in my life in the midst of it all. There was a time I was convinced that the only way I could live a fruitful, Spirit-filled life was to cut back my work hours or quit my job, get a gym membership, memorize Bible verses every week and A.B.C.D.... Of course there are always things we need to change and ways we need to grow and things we need to give up and people we need to say NO too; however- what I am learning is that I can find joy in this crazy working Mama life when I see God working.

When we see God working, we get excited, we have hope, we feel purposeful, we know were to focus, we know where to go, we know where to spend our time, we know what to let go of and what to run after. We are filled with praise and gratitude and humbled and in awe because God is working in our lives in spite of ourselves. He is showing up and doing what only He can do.

So ladies- may I challenge you today to ask God this question- "God what are you up to right now in my life? Help me to see it. Help me to name it. Help me to praise you for it. Help me to get excited about it. Help me to ground myself in the giddy hope of all that you are doing beneath the surface of the laundry and the deadlines, and the sports practices and the arguing and the sink full of dishes. Help me to see the hand of my Almighty God working and weaving and cultivating His glory and His spirit into my day to day. Lord- I long to see you in my life. Help me to see you. Make it clear and specific and help me to move into those moments and praise you with all that I have and be able to thrive in this working Mama life because of who YOU are."

2 Corinthians 9:8

"And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."



Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Hardest Work in the World and yet...this...


It is truly is the hardest work I have ever been asked to do and although the rewards are greater than any paycheck I've ever received, the day in and day out job duties sometimes leave me flat out, burned out, cried out and just plain OUT of my mind. Most days if I am feeling burned out I can pinpoint where I lost my grip on truth, where I fed into some ugly lies about what I am supposed to be doing or how my mothering should look, or I see where I decided to deal with my ever-changing emotions with a bar of chocolate instead of bringing it to my God.

I can see the point where I spiraled a bit away from where I need to be. I am learning, some days I do better than others.

The hardest parts of my day are...well-every part... depending on my mood and how my kids are doing. Mornings I battle sleepy boys, one who does not want to eat breakfast EVER and is adjusting to preschool, the other tired from late night baseball and allergies that won't give up. Both boys taking out their grumpiness on each other while I look once again for jackets, shoes and papers that need to go to school.

Many mornings I forget whether or not I've taken a shower, sometimes I can't find clean clothes, sometimes I rush my boys and sometimes I am putting PB and J on the ends of the bread because I have not had time to go to the grocery store.

Afternoons I deal with the transition from working woman to Mommy and I sometimes think my head will explode with the noise after 8 hours of structured work, and other times I think my heart will explode as I watch my 8 year old tell me that he played with a new friend and then tells me that he loves me and asks if he can put my shoes away for me. I look at his eyes, his long lashes and sweet baby boy lips and hear him saying the Pledge of Allegiance as he plays and I have that sweet hurt of loving that he is growing and wanting to stop time completely. Then I have his big brother, ready to explode from jealousy over a friend getting more toys than he has and I explain about counting our blessings. He snaps at me and 10 minutes later tackles me in a bear hug, talking non-stop about the new boy in school and how he decided he wanted to make him feel welcome so he decided to play with him the entire time at recess. And again- heart about to explode...going from seeing him deal with frustration and hearing how God is working in his life.

Some nights, my boys don't go to sleep until 10pm because that hour and a half where Mommy is finally calming down is the sweetest time and it fills their little love bank up. This is when baseball is over, some days we choose a washcloth bath over a shower to save time, everyone wants to eat AGAIN, paperwork is being sorted through for school and I am snuggling up for some precious time with hubby while the boys play upstairs. We catch up on things, laugh at the boys, sometimes argue, most of the time, we just make sure the other is still in one piece:) This is some sweet time for us...

Then I wander upstairs, tripping over towels, toys and every item of clothing that has been worn that day that of course is inside out on the floor. Sometimes I get irritated, other times we read, sometimes we snap at each other AGAIN. But always we end with love.  I take a "potty break" and breathe in the quiet for those few seconds and sometimes I wonder if I am doing this whole mothering gig right and I ask God to help me.  Then, I have these moments that truly, truly keep me going- right after prayer time, I am amazed as my 8 year old asks me to play "Come Though Fount of Every Blessing" on Youtube on my phone and mentions what the worship leader said last Sunday about the part- "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love." And we talk about how we wander away from God a lot.

And I remember...the next part of the song and together we tell the Lord at the end of the craziness- "Here is my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for the courts above." And I know that I know that I know, that God is meeting me in my working mama life in ways unexpected and I can breathe deep and relax and hug my boys tightly and see the peace in their eyes and know all is well...


Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Many Faces of Motherhood

Brandy Hynes
I am so excited to be sharing about my journey with motherhood with a new friend- Brandy Hynes.  Brandy is a mother whose life, on the surface seems much different than mine.   Mother of six, homeschooler, living in Hawaii!  But we have made a strong connection through an amazing blog/community called Me Too Moments for Moms. 

This is a blog that has a wide variety of contributors- of course all mothers, sharing about their ups and downs and in-between moments and reading these posts is like breathing a breathe of fresh air. Hearing those words- "Me Too"- is there anything more needed most days as a mother? Brandy invited me to post in a series with three other women.  Ladies- we are stronger together- believe than and don't hold back from connecting with mothers everywhere you go. We may have different paths on this journey, but what we have in common is most important- seeking God's call and leading our children to Christ.

Here is her introduction to the series:

"Motherhood has a way of finding us in places we never thought we’d be. It sneaks into the weakest parts of our being and strangles truths that had somehow always gone unnoticed. It has us bursting for joy and wiping away tears from one moment to the next. It is perhaps the greatest appointment we will ever know and yet, it leaves our souls aching…wondering who we were before, who will be later, how we will balance it all."
 Here is the rest of The Many Faces of Motherhood-part 1.

And here is my part!

My journey as a mother is not unlike most I’m sure. It consisted of a series of stumbling, falling, getting up again, dancing, soaring, running and crying on my knees moments. I wish I could say that every move I made, I covered in prayer, sought out the best support and advice and stayed consistent in my own relationship with the Lord throughout, but that would be misleading. 

I found that the Lord found me unprepared and needy and pulled me up, nurtured me and taught me along the way, as so often He does whenever we do anything new!

Becoming a mother awakened things within my soul that I did not know were even there. Growing up in a loving, but broken family, I had much to learn about navigating the role of being a mother. My own mother provided me with an excellent example and the things I took from her continue on to this day- knowing my children, providing for their needs, giving them opportunities to grow, giving them choices, paying attention to their feelings and opinions, and more.

My sister in law told me once that when you become a mother you also begin to grieve a loss- that loss is of your identity as a child yourself. You have to move away from being needy of parenting as you become  one doing the parenting yourself. Not that you don’t need your parents, but it is different. When you become a mother you are now always thinking about yourself AND your child. There is something so terrifyingly beautiful about having a person grow within your body, giving birth and then being responsible for another life. It is enough to shake you to the core.

To read the rest-
The Many Faces of Mothering Part 2

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Needed: Girlfriends that Know my Heart

So I have to be real – I always try to be, when my heart starts to beat and the heaviness comes in my soul – I pay attention nowadays and ask God to show me what is up with me.

The truth is that I am finding myself feeling rather lonely throughout this season of my life. I think a lot of mothers feel this way. Lives become very consumed with children, household responsibilities, working, etc. All of those things are good things and they are part of our calling and responsibilities – but I think we need to pay more attention to the need that we all have for friends who really know our souls.

I can say honestly the right now I have one. We see each other maybe once a month – maybe every other month.  I don't have to keep up a smiley face for her, I'm allowed to whine, to complain about things to talk about irritations, sadness and frustrations – she doesn't give me advice, or qualify/disqualify things I'm saying, most often she just sits her coffee, nods her head and says, "me too".

Women need other women.  We don't just need women as mere acquaintances, we need women with that we can cry with, we need women who don't care if we're in a bad mood, we need women who welcome us into their hearts. It's not easy to do this. I have to admit that from time to time I tried to get closer to certain women in my life and pretty soon I find out that the depth of our friendship is only going to go so far. And I respect that because everyone is at a different place. The main reason that women don't trust other women is because they've been hurt by other women. But I think the real lie is feeling that keeping up walls and boundaries somehow keep us safe. I find that they keep me pretty lonely.

Some days I'd rather feel hurt and then work through a difficult issue with a friend, then feel nothing and not have a friend to work out difficult issues with. I need some more soul friends, heart sisters... So I'm praying that not only will God bring some of these ladies in my life, but that I would become one. Sometimes we need to make the first step. I work full time, I lead a weekly women's Bible study, I have two boys in baseball and a husband who runs a Little League – I have 1 million reasons why don't have time to sit down for a meaningful conversation with another female. But all of these reasons are total junk in light of the fact that the Lord has created me with a need for friendship, fellowship and communion with other women.

I don't know if there's anyone else out there struggling  with the same thing – but I just felt like I needed to put it out there. What can we do about this?  We need to open up, reach out, make space and take risks. This past Sunday at church I gave my testimony. It's been a long time since I've given my testimony. I've gotten to become a fairly comfortable speaker and there's been a good amount of time between my life now as a fairly strong Christian and my past hurts and struggles – I was fairly certain that I would be able to deliver a powerful spirit-filled testimony without cracking a tear.

But the truth is that – I was only a few words in and I started to cry.  It dawned on me today that a large reason that sharing my testimony filled me with so much emotion was the fact that it felt so good to be open, honest and intimate with others. I think my tears were related to my struggles and to the blessings of my testimony, but I think they also spoke very loudly about the simple fact that my heart is lonely for friendship, closeness with others.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Mama's Number One Defense

Why talk about self-confidence in our kids? Why am I so focused on this right now? Why do I want to commit a whole series on this topic? Why do I want to look into this so much?…

Time to fess up- because of one of my biggest fears….my deepest fears…is that my children will struggle with self-confidence/esteem, whatever you want to call it…as much as I did. I am afraid. Yes I am. It is an area of such strong vulnerability for me. It is one of those wounds that is still fresh enough that at times it still stings. I know I am healed and whole in Christ and my own sufferings have served to help me be a better counselor with the individuals I work with on my job and in other situations. 

And I am not ashamed or angry or regretful about my past hurts- but I also do not want to see anything repeated in my kiddos.  I know God does not want me to be afraid for my kids, I need to trust Him, so I am working on that or rather, HE is working on that in me. But I am someone who likes to learn, grow and plan so if this is my battle right now I am fighting it on all fronts.  I want to attack it at all angles.

I’m excited to be writing about building self-confidence in my kiddos.  In thinking about self-confidence with my kiddos I am trying to consider many things…I am certain that a wide variety of things impact my son’s and their self-confidence (ages 4 and 8).

I think of course about their
age, developmental stage, the environments they are in during the day, their relationships, their understanding of the world around them, what they know and believe about God, etc…

I want to cover many specifics and practical ideas in this series of posts because I like practical tips and ideas and things that I can put into place.  An example- one thing I recently read about is emphasizing self-care with boys; cleanliness, taking pride in their appearance, etc.. okay- so my son may be challenging on this front, but I’m gonna try to apply a practical tip- make a little checklist for my 8 year old to comb hair, brush teeth, make sure clothes are clean, etc.. I see this as something tangible and simple that will get him thinking about his appearance- no pressure but might wind up being good for him. 

So- I want to address several things- I have so many ideas-such as friendships, faith, activities like sports, school, responsibilities at home, influence around them, body image etc…

BUT I don’t feel I should move forward without focusing on first things first...

keep reading more at Me Too Moments for Moms

Love you all!