Wednesday, March 22, 2017

For My People- Because it Really is ALL about YOUR People

First of all- thank you Tammy for inspiring me to find joy. I have not felt the joy of writing in some time. I have been busy and started feeling bogged down. My beautiful friend Tammy reminded me to be grateful and to find my joy. I thought about my blog and remembered how much I loved to write and then I thought about how much I love MY PEOPLE. So here it is...

I have not posted in awhile. I have been immersed in life, ministry, and ALL THE STUFF. But today I wanted to check in and just give a shout out to my people. I could NEVER.EVER. do this CWM thing without you...
Aaron, Lincoln, Benjamin-you are my rocks and my heart beat. I could write pages upon pages about you but for now just know that you make ALL THE MOMENTS worth it.   

For my Mom- My first example of a working Mama. You rocked it Mom. I will never forget the joy I had seeing you drive up at the end of the day. I never ever doubted your love for me whether you worked part-time, full-time or stayed home. I still hang onto that when I struggle with the guilt of working. Your dedication to getting dinner on the table, answering ALL THE QUESTIONS and listening to ALL THE DETAILS of EVERYDAY, when I am certain what you needed most was to soak in the tub and put your feet up- is still inspiring as I am now living this out as a Mama. You dinner-prepped like a beast (I did not inherit that from you unfortunately!). You signed the forms, you made the lunches, you helped with the outfit choices, you cleaned out the backpacks, you did the hair, you drove me to and from ALL THE PLACES. You LOVED in all the moments. 
For my Dad- You are more than you know. You take the time to make my life easier as a working Mom. You are the one who notices the needs in my home and fixes things I would never get to. You make the ice. You hang up the picture that is crooked. You hang up the iron so it has a place.  I will never forget the surprise gift on my front step- the gorgeous maternity sweater and necklace you left for me because you heard me talking about feeling frumpy. You are always present and available. You also have the ability to make me laugh and we all know that laughter is an essential ingredient in the crazy balancing act of working and parenting.
My brother Rob Steinbach, Daddy of four plus foster babies, pastor of the broken and redeemed from the east all the way to the west coach. You are amazing. You inspire me with your adventurous heart and how you unashamedly preach the Gospel.  With you the words- Gospel Freedom- tattoed on your arms, you are a walking testimony. You are my TWIN. Although we don't connect as much as I know we should- our connection will always be a part of who I am and who God is making me to become.  
For Laura...I went to a local park a few years ago at the end of a busy workday. I fortunately had time to change, eat some dinner and was ready to play with my boys for a bit before baths and bed.  I had been at this local park several times and never run into any young Moms, but today was different. I saw her coming down the street, pushing her youngest in a stroller and her older was following along. She was dressed in business attire, ponytail loosened, likely from a combination of commute, rushing to get the kids and running to the park. I looked at her and I literally exhaled.

She looked like me...I knew her even though I did not.

I watched her curiously. She looked a bit frazzled (which made me feel normal because most days I LIVE in FRAZZLED), she was so beautiful as she pushed one kiddo on the swing and watched the other one slide down the slide. I could tell she was, like me, trying to be all in the moment, both boys wanting her attention. "She probably hasn't eaten yet", I thought. "At least I have time to change and eat before I get moving with the kids", I thought.

She smiled a lot and she hugged her boys and I stepped towards her and introduced myself. I was kind of nervous. She was not. She immediately started talking to me and we clicked. We talked about everything. From work to kid stuff, to marriage to community, and again, I exhaled, I could relate to this Mama.  We connected every few weeks whether it be at the park, over ice cream, or at each other's homes. She asked me a lot about my work. Not too many people did that. 

She seemed truly interested in who I was and what kind of career interests I had. She encouraged me when I was thinking about expanding in my career and she hugged me when I told her I felt like a failure as bills piled up and nothing seemed to be enough. I began my blog and I told her about it. She, graciously, SO graciously, offered to help me put it together.

My on-line friend Laurie Wallin- I e-mailed you and you responded. To me, you were a major Christian Mama Blogger and I was shocked that you responded. I reached out again and you asked me for my phone number. You called me and you encouraged me and your engagement in my life confirmed that I was going in the right direction. I admire you more than you know. You are real and your words bring all of your readers closer to the light of Christ. You coined the statement to me- "Liz, the Christian church has yet to come up with a life-giving message for the Christian Working Mom." Your statement is what this blog is all about.

My on-line Working Mama BFF- Lisa-Jo Baker- you took my story and you spoke it out loud for an audience I was not able to reach- you gave my voice a platform. My small blogpost that turned took it and my story of how my church supported me and you shared it with the world.  It made me cry and filled me with hope and excitement for what God is doing for Moms who struggle with balancing work and family. You were the one who put that first post out there- "Grace for the Working Mama and her Guilt" which acted as a virtual life preserver at the time as I was drowning in the tension of working and mommying. 

Hannah Kallio- You are this unexpected jewel of a friend who could not be more different than me. YET- you invited me to speak in your world, to share my writing, you gave me tools to help me grow. You took my phone call and coached me for free and helped me to see that I could make space in my busy life. Your questions challenged me and you gave me courage to be ME.  Thank you for your wisdom and friendship.

Sarah Johnson- you are my fellow traveler, I would not thrive in this journey without your humor, honesty and compassion.  You were my first Christian Working Mama BFF and you coined the phrase- “The ground is level at the foot of the Cross, both for the Stay at Home Mama and the Working Mama.” Your friendship and wisdom certainly are woven in many of my blogposts.

Lissette O’Neal- you are my Stay at Home Mama soul sister. Thank you for doing life with me and making me see how important the bond, connection and support between Stay at Home Moms and Working Moms truly IS. You never judged, you always loved, you cared for my kiddos, you never tried to take my place but you always loved my boys as your own. You became a second mama to my little Benny and I would never change that for the world. Your light and love welcomed be at every morning drop-off and every evening pick-up.

Loretta Faulkner- My second Stay at Home Mama soul sister. You took care of my big boy. Before and After Care was your ministry to this frazzled mama. Girl- you even got my kiddo ready for picture day when I forgot! You reminded me of field trips, you sent me pics of lost spelling lists, you instilled in my son the disciple of doing homework first and doing it WELL. You provided gloves on days I couldn’t find any, snacks when I forgot to pack them, oh my WORD, the list goes on and on. You also welcomed me with light and love at every morning drop-off and every evening pick-up.

To Edgewater Bible Church- You gave me the gift of ministry. Pastor Ben O’Neil- you let me lead when I was convinced I did not have time and was not ready. You believed in the work that God was doing in my life and you made room for this Christian Working Mama to do her part in the body of Christ.

For all my readers- where did you all come from? I thought I was on an island and was afraid even if I kept shouting, no one would hear and come on over. And then you came! You stopped by, you listened to my ramblings and you heard encouragement and love and kept coming back. I can only thank you for sticking by me and give God all the glory for anything good that has come from my little space in social media for my amazing, wonderful, superhero working Mama friends.


Friday, February 3, 2017

Making Disciples

Normal. What does that mean? What is a "normal" day for you?
Every mother has a different "ideal" normal day, right?

We want happy kids in the morning, cheerful children when they get home who happily do their homework, get along with their brothers and sisters, eat their dinners, go to bed without a fight and sleep straight through the night.

Sounds ridiculous to think this, but I have to be honest with you all, I still think somehow I "deserve" this kind of day. And when I don't get it, I get a bit, no a TON annoyed, at myself, my husband, my children. MY LIFE.

God has been whispering something new to my heart this year- "Drop the ideal of normal. Just look for me and follow me." The beauty of this kind of thinking is that is keeps my mind off of what is "not right" at the moment, and instead puts me in a mindset of total focus on God.

I remember His sovereignty, I remember His grace, I remember forgiveness, I remember truth, I remember redemption, I remember my purpose.

I have been in a crazy-cuckoo mindset for far too long of what motherhood is supposed to look like.

What is my purpose? My purpose is to make disciples. A disciple is someone who accepts Jesus as their Lord, is determined to follow Him, and eventually becomes mature in their faith- feeding themselves spiritually, and then begins discipling others. That is IT.

My purpose in parenting is to introduce my children to Jesus, teach them who He is every moment, all the time, show them who he is every moment, all the time. Using my words and my actions. Every moment counts. I am a mother, but most importantly I am a teacher.  The definition of disciple is a "learner or pupil".

It goes like this...I learn from Jesus, I teach my children, they learn from me, eventually they learn from Jesus on their own, they teach others, others learn from them, etc...

Looking at the life of Jesus and Paul, two men in the New Testament that live lives of intentional discipleship, I have learned that every aspect of their life was about making disciples. They saw every moment connected to the purpose of sharing the Gospel. Every. Moment.

Man that is so inspiring and so overwhelming to imagine implementing in my daily life.
But maybe I can try, maybe I can act and speak exactly what I know to be true in the Bible.

What would that look like?

When I wake up and I make my children breakfast, I am serving them because I know Jesus first served me, I can talk to my children about this. "Hey boys, Mommy loves to make you breakfast because Mommy gets to serve. Do you know who is the best servant in the world? Let me tell you more about Jesus."

When my boys fight and argue. "Hey boys, Jesus teaches us to love each other as we love ourselves. How can we love each other better right now? What do you think Jesus would want us to do when we are angry with each other?"

When I am running late and tired and my boys want me to go outside and play- "Hey boys, Mommy really does not want to play right now. But life is not about making ourselves happy all the time. Sometimes we need to do things we don't want to do because we love people. That can be hard sometimes for sure. But Mommy will change, eat a snack and then play with you because Jesus tells me that I need to put others before myself."

When I blow it-HUGE. When I yell too harshly, when I don't stop to listen, when I make those mistakes that just make me cringe- I can get on my knees, look them in the eyes and say- "Mommy messed up. I am so sorry. Please forgive me. Mommy is a sinner and I was not following the Holy Spirit just now. Jesus forgives us when we sin. Can you please forgive me?"

And when my kiddo disobeys me. He needs to get a consequence. I can remind him that God disciplines those he loves. I can say- "Kiddo- I know you don't like this but I love you and I want you to know that certain types of behavior are not acceptable because they hurt you and others. We have to ask Jesus to help us with this stuff. It is not easy to live like Him, but Mommy will pray for you." 

Maybe these scenarios sound cheesy and silly- but I can attest to the fact that when I start to talk to my children about why I am doing things, they listen.

They might think it's goofy, they might think it's not 'cool', but they listen."

I know this to be true because every now and then I catch my 9 year old saying something I have heard myself say, when correcting his younger brother. I know this to be true because when I DON'T do it- they almost always push me TO DO IT by acting up more. And when I don't do it, I lose MY focus, I have to be intentional.

We need to speak, we need to act and we need to make disciples of our children. And it will be the greatest privilege and joy to do so.

How cute are these two?


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ramblings of a Working Mama

Wake up at 6:30am, the kids are on the floor, needing extra time with Mama- so many nights, there they are. Feels like one big slumber party some nights, but I try to remember it won't be that long.

We stayed up late last night talking about forming bands, new girls in school, being nicer to each other and always forgiving. I decide if today I will shower or not. Some morning I will admit that I am almost relieved that I showered the day before because that gives me a few more moments before the day gets going.

Coffee on, big son comes down the stairs in his old, stained Navy T-shirt because today is College Spirit Day and he wants to be in the military (so he can shoot people of course- Moms of boys, you know that this is a normal thing to say, other people- my son is not a psychopath, he is just fascinated with all things guns, fighting and battles), anyways, bigger son wants some eggs and turns on the TV, little son comes next and cries that he doesn't want to go to school. I remind him that it is "Pj and Pancake day!" He does not seem impressed, yet. He wraps up in blankie and sticks his head on the couch.

I make some breakfast, remind them to say "thank you" (again) and I get ready for work. I'm grateful my pants are not too wrinkly and I put on some makeup and a scarf and feel a little more grownup compared to my Christmas mitten pj's.

I work, the kids go to school. The afternoon begins. I try to begin with prayer, usually the boys are either fighting or jumping around while I pray outloud, they think it is annoying sometimes, but I don't care- it helps me refocus.

From 3pm-9pm I spend the majority of my time, breaking up arguments, teaching the same thing over and over again about "how we talk to each other", pick up clothes, toys, more clothes and toys, make food, make more food, and play as much as I can. I play basketball, try to understand Minecraft, talk about wrestlers, try to let my boys be boys and play like monkeys (which they need but drives me nutso)...

I might host a mini-playdate and serve up snacks to big boys friends who destroy my home, but make me happy as they laugh and play (and of course shoot each other with Nerf bullets that never go away), some afternoons my little guy has a play-date and he and his buddy race around the house being superheroes and I try to remind myself to breathe and I take a lot of bathroom breaks just to get away from the crazy.

The dog goes in and out and in and out. Empty dishwasher, fill dishwasher, basket to washing machine, washer to dryer, dryer to basket, fold, put away, repeat at least once/day. 

Looking for those moments (many days I forget), but thankfully I get a Holy Spirit nudge, "Hey look at that- that is just like how Jesus loves us!", "God cares about your homework, I promise. He is here with us." "Mommy needs forgiveness too, we always need to remember that we can always start over with Jesus."

Phrases and statements that I throw around in the midst of the busy and pray and hope that they stick like crazy super-natural glue to the important places in their little souls.

Stick somewhere where they can get them back and remember them when they need them again.

Stick in places where something new is happening, where new life is forming as they grow to be little men of God.

In the midst of the dishes, and backpacks, and inside out pants, and toothpaste on the sink and empty toilet paper rolls, my soul is begging...

"Please God, help me not to screw them up. Help me show them how amazing you are. Help me show them that you are way cooler than Minecraft and even Superman. Help me to learn who they are. How did you create them God? One feeds on talking and the other on constant playing- help me to have the energy to do both! And please don't let me forget to feed them your Word, always, always, always. Help me not to let them get full on this world, the lies, too much junk food, TV, screen-time, help me to reel them back in when they seem to be lulled away by the buzz and the noise. Help me to find holy moments to hold them and then give me wisdom to let them go and trust you all at the same time!"

Bedtime again, more lessons on being nice, nice words, nice actions, and then let's pray and thank God for the day. Every day. Again and again. It is my world. Work and School, the time we are apart, they are important, I pray for teachers, I email them when I have concerns, I stop by for lunchtime when I can, my work is good, I enjoy it, I work hard, it is fulfilling. And it is ALL my calling. ALL of it. But those mornings, afternoon/evenings and weekends when I am in the thick of discipling my children, those are some pretty hard, beautiful, messy, eternal moments.

I'm blessed.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Moments of Redemption

It was a similar conversation/argument...

Me: "Lincoln- it's time to turn off the TV and get ready for church." (I'm already bracing myself for the talking back- which has become a norm lately with my 8 year old son.)

Lincoln: "In a minute Mom. Why NOW? We have time."(Thinking to myself- "stay calm Liz, ask him one more time, nicely...")

Me: "Lincoln- I am asking you to do it now, no arguing please."

Lincoln: "But Mom- I just started watching this show! You NEVER let me do ANYTHING that I want to do." (Thinking to myself- "This kid is SO dramatic. He has no respect. I am so sick of this. Why won't he just listen and do what he is asked to do?!.")

Me: Screaming now- "Lincoln, you will turn off the TV, get dressed NOW and I am SO sick of your attitude. Now STOP IT!"

Lincoln: stomps off, PUSHES through me and says- "I'm so sick of you!"

Me: Anger turning to shock- Thinking to myself-

"My son just PUSHED me. How is this happening? Why is this happening? What did I do wrong? I am a HORRIBLE mother! It has to be my fault that he is doing this."

We go to church. My son sulks in his seat in front of everyone. Also tells me he feels sick (which is actually true- we had a stomach bug running rampant in my home). So,I take him home (we live like 2 minutes from church). And I sit in the service and don't even feel worthy to be one of the leaders (I am the Women's Ministry leader).

If only everyone here had been a fly on my wall and seen what just happened in my home?

I numbly go through the motions of worship, smile politely towards people and get myself home.

I stand in the kitchen and ask myself how to handle what had happened that morning?

I prayed and then I started baking cookies.

Our Pastor had encouraged us to give out bags inviting people to church-

I took three home with me and thought that maybe we could hand them out with some cookies.

My son is still sulking but soon he gets involved in playing.

I hear his soft voice, sharing nicely with his brother, I see him smiling, and he tells me he can't wait til I'm done so he can decorate the cookies.

We take some to neighbors and it is wonderful.

We sit and talk with them and we enjoy a nice afternoon together.

Later that night, I am cleaning out a closet and I find something.

It is a poem that someone gave to me when I was pregnant with Lincoln. I read it and think.

The poem is the word Lincoln written vertically and has a statement next to each letter about how I am to act in order to help my son become the man of God he is called to be.

I showed it to Lincoln.

I told him that I loved him and would always be praying for him and that I had found this poem and will keep it out to remind me.

I took a picture of him with the poem and his sweet face just melted my heart.

We talked about what happened, he did get punished and he was not happy about the punishment.

But he softened and it was just a good, God-moment I wanted to share with all of you.

I am so thankful that I serve a God that gives me grace and redeems some of the most difficult and most ugly moments.

Being a Mama is so hard sometimes but it is always worth it:



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Holiday Blues? Encouragement from the Last Supper

Hey ladies!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving:) 

Maybe you did, maybe you didn't.

Maybe it was hard because of family tension, maybe it was overwhelming with planning and expectations, maybe you don't like the holidays because you are missing a loved one...

We have a God who sees it all and loves all of us, every part.

We have a God who sees our needs and our pain and He cares.

More than anything-God wants our hearts and our worship- especially in the midst of the broken times and He can use us in mighty ways in these times.

A few things I want to share to encourage us during this season from the Last Supper:

1. We need each other.

Luke 22: 14-15
"14 When the hour had come, Jesus reclined at the table with His apostles. 15 And He said to them, I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before My suffering.

Jesus chose to be with His friends before he walked into His suffering on the cross.

Sometimes during the holidays, we isolate ourselves, we pull away from others.
Sometimes, we experience loneliness and don't want others to see.
I am encouraged that Jesus chose to be with his friends on the night He knew He would be betrayed.
He wanted to dine with them.
During this season, let's open our homes to one another, let's be together.

2. Jesus understands our brokenness.

Luke 22: 16-20
16 For I tell you that I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 After taking the cup, He gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And He took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, This is My body, given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you."

Sometimes during the holidays we are hurting.
Let's remember that Jesus understands.
He has been broken in every way possible.
He is a Savior who has been there.
During this season, when we are hurting, let us turn to our Jesus, who was broken for us.

3. Jesus offers Himself to us, to wash us clean and set us free from our sin.

John 13: 1-10
Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet

"1 It was now just before the Passover Feast, and Jesus knew that His hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the very end. 2 The evening meal was underway, and the devil had already put into the heart of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.
3 Jesus knew that the Father had delivered all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was returning to God. 4 So He got up from the supper, laid aside His outer garments, and wrapped a towel around His waist. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel that was around Him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who asked Him, “Lord, are You going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “Never shall You wash my feet!” Peter told Him.
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me.”
9“Then Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well.”
10 Jesus told him, “Whoever has already bathed needs only to wash his feet, and he will be completely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” 11For He knew who would betray Him. That is why He said, “Not all of you are clean.”

Jesus says, to be part of Him, we need to let Him wash away our sins, we need to let go of guilt, shame, the past.
Let us be like Peter and say- "Lord, wash ALL of me!".
During this season, let us be free from guilt, shame, fear and the weight of the past.
Let us remind our weary hearts that we have been set free from sin.

The Truth will Set You Free(2 John 1:4-6)
30 As Jesus spoke these things, many believed in Him. 31 So He said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. 
32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 “We are Abraham’s descendants,” they answered. “We have never been slaves to anyone. How can You say we will be set free?”
34 Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

4. Jesus chose to serve.

Although He knew He would be betrayed, He served and gave of Himself. Even while He waited to be broken, He washed the disciples feet.

John 13: 12-17
" 12When Jesus had washed their feet and put on His outer garments, He reclined with them again and asked, “Do you know what I have done for you? 13You call Me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, because I am. 14So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15I have set you an example so that you should do as I have done for you. 16Truly, truly, I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17If you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."

Jesus served and set an example for us.
During this season, may we wash the feet of another by giving of ourselves.

This season, may we remember:

1. We need each other.
2. If we are hurting- we have a Savior who understands our hurts and pain and has been broken.
3. If we are struggling with sin, we have an answer- He has come to wash us clean and set us free.
4. Even in the midst of our pain, we have PURPOSE. Jesus came to serve and set an example for us.

On His way to the cross, He CHOSE to serve. Let us do the same. 

And the amazing thing is- when we do this, we will experience true JOY.

Love you all!


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