Wednesday, September 30, 2020

One Chapter at a Time

Source: Morgan Harper Nichols

I pulled into the parking lot, running late as usual. Other moms had begun to gather as they waited for everyone to arrive. As soon as I saw them, insecure thoughts flooded my mind as the comparison began. 


When did she get such a nice car? How in the world can they afford that?


What a cute outfit. She looks great! I look so scrubby. 


Oh, she remembered to bring a snack for her kids! Do I have enough for my little one? Do I have too much?


That day, as I walked at the park with other young mamas, insecurity was at the forefront of my mind. They seemed to know a foreign language that I was only just beginning to learn. I was fumbling, hoping they didn’t notice that I did not fully understand the unfamiliar “mom language.”


My journey to motherhood was not the typical story that most of my friends share. The story that most people can tell consists of a familiar one—get married, wait a couple years, decide you want to get pregnant, get pregnant, give birth. So it goes for many women. Not so for me. 


When my husband and I married, I was 27 and he was 29. We were considered somewhat “late bloomers” in our social circle and were among the last of our friends to enter marriage. A couple years later, getting pregnant proved much harder than we thought. During this time of frustrating disappointment, we were made aware of the foster care crisis in our state and became licensed foster parents. Our first placement was a sibling group of three. We were completely overwhelmed and extremely humbled by the entire situation.


Entering into motherhood by standing in the gap for another woman’s children is tricky, to say the least. But as we floundered through the process, I found that mothering was a role that gave me a deep sense of purpose and joy. The simplest tasks and routines proved mundane, this is true. But in light of leading and stewarding little hearts, they suddenly became opportunities to teach and see growth.


While most of my friends had transitioned to a life of diapers, bedtime routines, and play dates, I was still working full time and taking care of another woman’s children. Entering into motherhood via foster care provides a completely different experience in which you are thrown into a stage of parenting that you most likely are not prepared for.


The pain of infertility was softened when just one month after the three kiddos unexpectedly left our home, we found out we were expecting our miracle son. I was elated—finally I would get to join the “real mom club.” After all, I wasn’t a real mom when I was caring for another woman’s children. Now that I was going to have “my own” baby, things would be different and I would be a part of the illustrious group I had coveted to have a part in for years.


About six months into pregnancy, we welcomed a new child into our home, this time a sweet teen girl who would change our hearts and lives forever. The learning curve was steep, but we were willing to learn. Three months later, our miracle boy was born, and everything changed. Again. 


When I found myself at the walking date with the other mamas, I thought to myself, 


What do they talk about?


Will I have anything to contribute?


My life is so different from theirs. Can we relate to one another?


There was an insecurity in not having the right accoutrements, this is true. I didn’t feel like I had the right “mom car,” or “mom clothes.” But it went deeper than surface level when I wondered if there was something wrong with me. My experiences were so different than those of my peers, and I didn’t want to stand out.


It was in this place that the love of my Heavenly Father met me. After confessing my insecurities to my husband and a close friend, my eyes were opened. Once again, I was attempting to find my worth in other people’s approval. Did it really matter if the other moms thought I was cool or had it all together? Did it really matter if I felt like I belonged and was just like them? Of course not. 


“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” - ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:17-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬


God whispered to me as I poured out my heart to Him. He helped me see that while I would not always be able to relate to every other mama, nor her to me, He sees me, knows me, and understands me. He created me with a desire for acceptance that could only be met in Him. And when I took a step back, I realized that all along, He held what I desired—the belonging that can only be found through resting in Him. 


Now when I meet up with other mamas, I give thanks to God for the unique story He’s given me and the opportunity to share His faithfulness. Is my story different? Yes. But it’s beautiful, and it belongs to Him. Thank goodness He is the one writing it and not me. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Dropping Perfectionism in Parenting


I’ve been at this parenting gig for about two years now. Rory and I were married in 2015, and we welcomed our first kiddos into our home in May 2018. What an adventure that was! We didn’t know what we didn’t know. It turns out that parenting is much more complicated and layered than we ever realized. Not only that, but when parenting children from hard places, there are so many other factors to consider and different methods that need to be employed in order to guard the hearts of the little ones that God has entrusted to you. 

Rory was my first and only boyfriend, and when we began to grow closer, I realized just how exposing our relationship was. I could no longer (attempt to) hide my flaws because there was someone there who could see everything, whether I liked it or not. So it goes with parenting. Like it or not, my kids see it all — the good, the bad, and the ugly. 


I so badly want them to see a mom who is akin to Mother Teresa, someone who is gentle and kind and always has all of the answers. The trouble is, I don’t even know much about Mother Teresa except what I’ve seen in pictures and oft quoted sayings. I remember a friend of mine sharing about how she read some of Mother Teresa’s now published journal entries. In these journal entries, the world renowned saint shared about her struggles with sin, pride, and selfishness. These confessions were from a woman who was known for her great selflessness and kindness to the least of these. If Mother Teresa struggled with selfishness, then you better believe I do, too. 


You see, in my mind, I have a perfect ideal of the mama I should be. And I want my kids and my husband to see that version of me. I don’t want to struggle. I don’t want to need the grace of God to be my sufficiency. I want Him to just show me what to do and then be able to do it all by myself so that He will be proud of me. But this is the exact opposite of the Gospel. 


The Gospel of Jesus Christ exposes our need and brings it to a Savior who delights in helping us. The Gospel says that I am poor in spirit and cannot do anything that is worth doing on my own. The Gospel says that I need the love of Christ in order to bring any kind of hope and healing to anyone else. The Gospel reminds me of my sin and gives me cause for rejoicing by showing me that I have a great Savior who paid my debt and now lives to intercede for me, allowing me to bring Him my weakness each day.


A few days ago, I was in a funk. I was frustrated because I was dealing with some emotions of annoyance within my parenting, which caused me to feel ashamed. In my head, I knew that I should not be upset with a child for needing help and guidance. That is what my job as a parent is — to provide that help and guidance and be a safe place where growth can happen. Nevertheless, I found myself annoyed because the execution of said job wasn’t coming naturally. I was complaining to Rory, and I said, “I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t act like this.” To which he said, “You know, you’re allowed to be human.” 


Immediately, tears sprang to my eyes. Human. I am a human being. I am not a human doing. God created me to be with Him. He created me to be with others. Those relationships — vertical and horizontal — are to bring glory to Him. In order to be with Him and with others, I have to allow Him to sift through me and show me how to walk with Him each and every day. He doesn’t expect me to get it right the first time, or the tenth time. He just wants my heart. He wants me to be honest with Him and walk in repentance, acknowledging when I sin against Him and asking Him for the strength to walk in the other direction. But He is not demanding or unkind. He is generous and loving. 


In order to be a present mama, I have to drop the act of perfectionism. My kids know that I don’t have it all together. And they are ok with that. I know that they don’t have it all together. And I can be ok with that, too. Because God never asked me (or my kids) to have it all together. He just asked me to follow Him and make disciples. And the work of making disciples in this home He’s given me just may be the most important work I ever do.


I cannot give away what I do not have. In order to love my kiddos well, I must first understand the love of the Father. Hard as it may be, I am learning that in order to be a good parent, I must fist sit at the feet of my perfect Heavenly Father. He is all that I need, and He won’t lead me astray. He is right beside me, giving me the strength for each day

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Currently: August




Hello friends! It has been a while since I have written on the blog. I have been evaluating how often to write and share here. Right now I have been sharing quite frequently on Instagram. If you’re not on Instagram, that’s ok, you can follow my writing page on Facebook. I will be sharing here once a month with currently posts and one other longer post about what God is teaching me. But if you’re looking for a more regular peek into my life, Instagram and my writing page are where you can find me. I also have a monthly email where I share even more about what is going on in our family’s life, so you can sign up for that as well. Basically, I want to keep in touch with you and am so happy when you want to keep in touch with me. :) 

That being said, last month, I took a break from Instagram, and it was much needed and so good for my soul. I have come back refreshed and ready with so much to share about all that God is teaching me and what He is doing in my heart.

Here is what is going on currently in our neck of the woods:

Choosing: Joy. I am choosing to be joyful even when I don’t feel like it. I am choosing to be kind when I would rather snap. This simple choice changes my heart, one stony bit at a time. 
Consuming: Right now I am consuming copious amounts of chips and salsa. I make a big batch just about every week, and it is the perfect snack or side item for a lunch at home. :)
Enjoying: Our kids are all in such different seasons. It is overwhelming at times, but it is also really sweet and fun. I am enjoying (most of the time) each season we are in — teenager, preteen, and pre-toddler. ;)
Ordering: All the things online. I mean, it is so much easier to get something on Prime than to go out to this store, am I right?
Remembering: Right now, I am attempting to remember that God is for me and not against me. That, along with the first few verses of Romans 8, is what is encouraging my heart during this uncertain and crazy time we found ourselves in. 

What are you up to, friend?

Linking up with Anne today! 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

on racism




In light of all the news about the racial tension in our county that is being shared -- tension that has always existed and sadly will always exist in some level -- I wanted to share some thoughts. My heart has been saddened and burdened by all of the recent deaths that were senseless and unimaginable. As a woman of color who is married to a white man and is the mother of a two brown children, my perspective has many lenses.


In praying through how to respond to these news stories and how to honor the lives of those who have been murdered, these "four Fs" are the things that can keep us all deceived.

FEELINGS


"I'm so tired of this nonsense. Why won't THEY do something about it?"

"I am so done with these selfish people whose eyes are so blinded."

"I cannot even process this injustice because I feel numb inside."

FACTS

"____% of Blacks are killed by other Blacks."

"Only ____% of police brutality harms people of color."

"____% of crime in America is committed by Black people."

FEAR

"My husband/son/brother/friend is a Black male and I am afraid for his life."

"My best friend is Black and I don't know how to talk to him/her about these issues."

"I can't speak out against these injustices because I'm white and I don't want to offend anyone."

FALSE HOPES

"When Democrat leadership is in charge, they will get something done about this."

"When Republican leadership is in charge, they will get something done about this."

"If we just don't talk about race and are color-blind, we can all get along and it will all be fine."



All four of these Fs can only be processed with the TRUTH of God's word, which says:

"So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them." - Genesis 1:27

"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." - Ephesians 2:10

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold...Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” - Ephesians 4:25-27, 31-32

We need facts AND feelings to help us process our fears and false hopes.

White brothers and sisters: Take the time to ask questions and enter into conversations about race with your Black brothers and sisters. If you don’t have friends who look different than you, put yourself in spaces where you can learn. Don’t believe the lie that just because you’re white, you have nothing to offer and nothing to say. Also, don't feel guilty about your privilege, but do what you can to address generational sins and unhealthy attitudes.

Black brothers and sisters: Know and believe that the God of the universe is who decides your inherent worth. Don’t believe the mainstream media that wants you to live in fear as a victim of the oppressor. Walk hand in hand with your Black brothers and sisters to enact change in our community and address generational sins of our race. Don’t believe that you’re the expert and you aren’t racist just because you’re Black.

To all of my brothers and sisters in Christ - Black, white, and brown - let us know that there are awful acts of violence occurring everywhere. There are people’s names we do not know because they didn’t make the headlines. This issue is not political and it’s not even just racial. It’s spiritual. It is evil.

Perhaps the greatest advice I've ever been given was by my wise and gentle mama: Do your part. You are accountable to God for your actions and no one else's. So use your voice as an agent of change and peace. Advocate for others. Serve your community with humility and kindness. And pray for unity and the swift return of our King Jesus.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Currently: May

May is the most wonderful time of the year in our home, because we have not one or two birthdays in this month, but a whopping five. That's right, every person in our home, in addition to my dad, was born in May! While our celebrations look different from years past, we are still enjoying the sweetness of being together.




Here is what is going on currently around these parts:

Making: I am making dinner most nights, and I have to say that it is fun to get into the kitchen and figure out what to do with what we have. So I've been making my own "recipes," and I am enjoying it.
Missing: It has been hard to not see people in the flesh during this time, so I am missing big hugs and in person hang-outs with friends.
Learning: This has been a huge time of learning for me, as I am sure it has for most of us. I am learning what it means to invite God into the everyday moments and be met by Him in the mundane, the hard, the ordinary, the unprecedented, and the joyful.
Loving: I am loving the time that I have to spend with my family. It is a gift to be at home with my kids when I would normally go to work or my daughter would be at school. I am especially grateful for extra time with them, because they are growing up way too fast.
Reading: This time has been great for reading - I have read a few books and am enjoying making time for reading! Right now I am reading Chasing Vines by Beth Moore.

Linking up with Anne today!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Currently: April




Well, I missed writing here in March because it was such a blur. At the beginning of the month, I found myself eagerly anticipating (but inwardly dreading) a busy few weeks ahead. I was trying to be positive and excited about things, but to be completely honest, I was feeling quite overwhelmed. I was trying to take things one day at a time, but our schedule seemed very, very full. At the time, I didn't know how to cut anything. It all seemed necessary. Fast forward a few weeks, and it has become clear that we didn't actually need to be doing all of those things. It is crazy to think about how quickly things can change.

Here is what I know now - we don't need  all of the things I thought we needed on our schedule. We don't  have to attend all the events. This time of slowing down can be a huge gift to us, if only we allow it to teach us what we have needed for quite some time now.

I'm taking things day by day, and I pray you are doing the same and leaning hard into the grace of God to sustain and strengthen you with each step you take.

Here's what is going on currently in this neck of the woods:

Sharing: Right now I am sharing my space with my entire family all the time. I kid, I kid. I am trying to share books with others as we all have lots of time on our hands!
Writing: I am writing a newsletter every couple weeks (let me know if you want to be a part of it!) and have made it a goal to work on my next book more throughout this month.
Wishing: Here's to wishing away COVID -19. I want people to be well and not live in fear.
Investigating: We are spending more time on our back patio, and I am investigating and pinning all the things on Pinterest to make it more cozy and inviting!
Buying: We just got a new area rug for our den area, and we moved the old one outside to the patio because it is technically an indoor/outdoor rug. Now I'm waiting on these fun outdoor lights to arrive, and our back patio will be closer to my "dream" space!

What are you up to these days?

Linking up with Anne today!



Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Currently: February

I missed the first month of Currently posts this year, but I'm hopping back on to share a little bit about what's going on around here. It's crazy to think that this year I will celebrate 10 years of blogging! Can you even believe that? Some of you have been with me since the beginning, and some of you are new to this space. Either way, thank you for being here and for being a part of this little space that has become so special to me.



Here's what has been going on lately:

Loving: I have absolutely been loving my time with Judah and K these days. Being a mom is such a wonderful privilege, joy, and honor. I am loving all of the giggles, real talks, walks, milestones, and sweet everyday moments.
Embracing: This year, I have been embracing my weakness. It has come with a lot of moments where I have been humbled. I don't prefer to be humbled. I actually would rather be quite capable. But God is helping me to embrace my weakness, which in turn brings me closer to Him. I'm so grateful that His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
Tasting: People told me that they didn't drink coffee until they had kids, and in the midst of this summer when Judah still wasn't sleeping through the night, I tried it one morning. It just didn't do it for me, friends. I can never get it to taste quite right, and it upsets my tummy. So I'm a tea girl, through and through. I'm tasting the goodness of a homemade chai tea latte just about every morning these days, and sometimes I have one in the afternoon, too. :)
Wearing: The Christmas that I was pregnant with Judah, Rory got me these amazing pants from Loft. They are affectionately and appropriately named the "butter pants" by a college acquaintance of mine who is now a fashion blogger, and with good reason. They are SO comfortable. I wear them most days when I need to be cozy around the house and am so sad when I have to wash them. Another pair is on my wishlist. :)
Preparing: This new year has marked the start of a women's group at Downtown Academy that has been in the works for 2.5 years, and I have been so encouraged by all that God is doing in the hearts of the women there. I am preparing for the next four weeks of meetings and am so excited about all that we are going to be doing together.

What are you up to lately? What have you been enjoying?

Linking up with Anne today!



Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A Look Back



It didn't hit me until a couple weeks ago that we are headed into a new decade. It seems like we were just celebrating the new millennium! I saw an Instagram post that said, "2000 was 20 years ago which is really weird because 1980 was also 20 years ago." That's exactly how I feel about the fact that we are entering the twenties, friends.

Here’s a look back at the last ten years:

2010: In May, I celebrated my 22nd birthday and graduated from UGA with an Early Childhood Education degree and moved to Chihuahua, Mexico, where I taught school for two years. 

2011: I became fluent in Spanish, led worship at my bilingual church, and realized I would only be in Mexico for two years and needed to move back to Athens

2012: In the spring, I said goodbye to Chihuahua. That summer, I moved back to Athens and went through a bit of an identity crisis. :) 

2013: Always the bridesmaid, never the bride - I was in a few weddings and wondered if it would ever be my turn. 

2014: My maternal grandmother passed away, and a few short weeks later, I traveled to Uganda. It was here that the Lord sparked something in my heart for women’s ministry. One month after my trip to Uganda, I traveled to Kenya. In the fall, I began a new teaching job at Downtown Academy, and a couple months later I met my future husband. 

2015: Rory and I got engaged in April, married in July, and celebrated the anniversary of our first date in October. 

2016: We went to Disney, bought our first house, and I left teaching and began working at our church, Watkinsville First Baptist as the Administrative Assistant. I decided to take my writing more seriously and published my first book, Proverbs 31: A Life of Truth and Grace. I found out that I had uterine fibroids, which explained a lot of women’s health problems.

2017: My devotional book, Proverbs 31: A Life of Truth and Grace released as a paperback in January. I began working on my second book, Already Chosen, which tells the story of my journey in singleness and finding my worth in Christ. We began classes to become licensed foster parents in November and reached a year mark of trying to conceive in December. 

2018: In January, I went through a procedure called Uterine Fibroid Embolization, which greatly changed my women’s health. In May, I released my first full-length book, Already Chosen. I also began seeing a naturopathic doctor, taking supplements, getting acupuncture, and drastically changed my diet. Lost a ton of weight. We became licensed foster parents and welcomed three kids into our home for the summer. Right after they left I found out I was pregnant with our miracle boy. We sold our first house, bought a new one, and moved. 

2019: We welcomed our daughter into our home in February.  I released my third book, Choosing Contentment, in April. We welcomed our sweet boy in May, and I spent the summer learning how to be a mama to a teenager and a newborn. In August, I stepped into a new role as Development Director at Athens Pregnancy Center. 

2020: In a few short weeks, we will begin our first semester of Restoration Women. To say I’m excited would be an understatement, as it has been a long time in the making. I’m very slowly but surely working on another book, a prayer guide for foster parents, and trusting the Lord with the timing of its release into the world. We’re praying and asking God to continue to lead us as a family and show us His heart and His thoughts for us. 

It is incredible to look back and see all that God has done in the last ten years, and it makes me expectant for an even greater ten years ahead. 

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