NEW Crosswalk Article // 9 Interesting Things You Might Not Know About Solomon

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Solomon: the wisest man to ever live, builder of the temple, beautiful poet and national leader--he was a man who seemed to have it all. Yet, at the end of his life, he penned these words in Ecclesiastes 2:11:

“When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

Solomon was a complex man. He had his victories and defeats, just like us. We may have heard stories about this great king, but there are a few things left to uncover. 

In my latest article for Crosswalk I share 9 Interesting Things You Might Not Know about Solomon.

Monday Care for the Mama’s Heart // 10 Things I Learned My First Year of Parenting

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This past weekend my son Roman turned one! One year ago he entered the world and made it a better place with the joy and love he shares each day. One year ago I held him in my arms for the first time and my heart melted—I was smitten. One year ago he made me a mom.

Parenting hasn’t always been what I thought it would be like. It’s been better than I could have ever imagined but it’s also been more challenging in some ways. All in all, though, it’s been one heck of a journey! 

In honor of this one year celebration and reflection, I thought I might share some things I learned over the past twelve months. Maybe you’re expecting and this will give you some insight into what’s to come. Or you’re a new mama needing to know you’re not crazy. Or maybe you’ve been on the journey a few years and have your own insight to offer—please do so in the comments. Remember, we’re all in this together! 

To be honest, I learned many things this year but here are the top ten lessons from my first year of parenting.

  1. There’s no joy comparable. Nothing touches a woman's heart like being a mom. That moment you hold your baby for the first time is an explosion of happiness. But also, each day brings opportunities of joy shots right to the soul. The way they look at you, or snuggle into your arms, or learn something new--it's all full of overwhelming happiness. Being a mom truly is the best gift in the world; a gift that keeps on giving!
  2. It’s ok to ask for help or advice. I think sometimes we feel we need to be a supermom and give the impression to others that we have it all figured out. But no mom does and you shouldn't carry such a heavy weight. Being a mom at all (because all kids are different), but especially a first time mom, brings so many questions with it. Don't be afraid to ask for help or advice. I've turned to Facebook when I was unsure of something and it's been amazing to see the support from other parents out there! Know that you don't have to, and shouldn't have to, go at it alone. We are part of the Body of Christ and the kind of community we have there is a beautiful thing.
  3. Be careful not to parent your spouse. I'm not saying every woman does it, but I imagine it's not unusual. When we're parenting our kid all day it happens that sometimes we transfer that over to our husbands. Or think we know what's best for the kid so we try to tell the dad what to do. This act can be very damaging to your marriage and it's important you steer away from developing this habit. Here is a blog I wrote on the subject for more insight and encouragement.
  4. You will feel failure but that’s normal. Being a mom will likely make you feel like a failure perhaps more than anything else in this world. It's because of the immense amount of love you feel for your child and the desire you have to be a wonderful mom, both of which are noble things. However, it can also lead you to be hard on yourself. Learning to manage these moments of failure will be so valuable to your journey as a mom. Here is a post I wrote on the subject if you'd like more tools on overcoming failure.
  5. A baby is just that...a baby. Sometimes in the frustration or exhaustion we forget that we are dealing with tiny humans who have no other form of expression but crying. There have been times I've wanted to talk sense into my little one but I've had to remind myself that he's just a baby. I can't rationalize with him when he has emotions he can't understand, or when he doesn't feel well, or whatever else may be frustrating him to the point of irritability. Just remember that crying is really the only form of communication they have and try to be patient. Perspective goes a long way!
  6. Celebrate the milestones but enjoy the time it takes to get there. Especially as a first time mom, you are always looking for and anticipating the next stage. "I can't wait til they crawl! And then walk! And then play on their own!" At least for me, I was looking forward to the next milestone out of excitement or next season because the one I was in seemed hard. But what I have found is that now I'm missing those earlier seasons and I wish I wouldn't have rushed through them so quickly. If I could encourage you, I'd say enjoy the season you're in. I've heard that before and shrugged it off but truly, you will miss what is behind. Enjoy where you are at while you can. Besides, the next milestone brings its own challenges ;)
  7.  You’re understanding of the Father deepens. It's incredible how becoming a parent changes your relationship with the Father, in a better way. Being a parent and knowing that kind of love and sacrifice gives you insight into the Father's love and strengthens a bond with Him you didn't have before.
  8. You’re not crazy. I can't tell you how many times I thought I was the only one going through what I was going through. But then I'd be reminded in the middle of the night when I was feeding Roman in the dark that there were other mamas out there doing the same thing. Or I'd share a struggle on social media and moms would say, "Me too!" Just know you're not alone, and know that you are not crazy! We all go through hard and crazy moments as a mom...we're all in this together!
  9. Being a mom makes you a better person. Being a mom sure does have a knack for pulling the selfishness out of you. It's a wonderful at pulling the unlovely out of you! Your flesh will fight the pruning at times but receive it, knowing God is using the challenges of motherhood to make you more like Christ. It's a wonderful school of becoming a better person.
  10. Cherish all the moments. It flies by. Soak up ever single moment!

I hope this helps some other mamas out there. Truly, motherhood is a gift and we can cheer each other on in the journey! If you have something you’d like to add, please do so in the comments! 


P.S. Here are a few pictures from his birthday, in case you're interested!

Untouchable, My New Book, Now Available!

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Did you know that my new book, Untouchable: Unraveling the Myth That You're Too Faithful to Fall, is now available where books are sold?!  It's a book that shares my story of rock bottom ache, sharing what I learned about a myth that can shatter any Christian's life, how to stand against temptation, and what redemption can really look like for those who have failed. It's a book that I truly believe every Christian must read!

Here's a bit more about the book:

Too many Christians, especially those in ministry, believe they are untouchable--that they're too faithful to fall or too spiritual to give in to temptation. They deny any sort of weakness, fail to draw proper boundaries, and end up doing the very things they swore they'd never do.

Pastor and author Brittany Rust was one such person--until she found herself in the middle of moral failure and a church-wide scandal. Bewildered, humiliated, and ashamed, she thought she was beyond redemption. But God's grace met her on the ground, and here she shares what she's learned through her painful journey. She unravels the myth of being untouchable, showing how we start to believe the lie, and how we can protect ourselves from temptation. Ultimately she shows that to truly flourish in life, you must be willing to admit weakness--and that no one is beyond God's redeeming love.

You can learn more about the book using the button below. If you know you already want a copy, you can find links there or head to your favorite book vendor.

Monday Care for the Mama’s Heart // The Gift of Motherhood

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This week my little man turns a whopping one year old! Where does the time go, mamas?! As I’ve been reflecting on this past year, I’m obviously feeling all the feels. 

Even today, it’s been one exciting moment after another. Roman learned to climb on top of a box to reach the tv—little stinker! He ate grapes for the first time, mastered a new toy today, and moved kitchen chairs around like a master puzzle solver in order to get to his ball. I’m just in awe of how quickly they learn and grow.

Just now I finished his bedtime routine and rocked him a bit longer than usual. I didn’t want to put him down in his crib—not with those beautiful blue eyes staring right into mine as he held my hand. All I could do is pray, declare gratitude for being his mom, and cry (of course!).

I’m sure you know all of the above well. The pride and joy of being a mom. The love that just overwhelms you. The desire to gobble up your kid out of sheer cuteness (cute aggression is a real thing, am I right?!)

As wonderful as all of these experiences are, I also know that motherhood isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult and defeating at times. 

Which is why I want to remind you today the blessing that motherhood is. The gift you have been given. 

Don’t you see that children are GOD ’s best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
— Psalm 127:3 (MSG)

You have been chosen by the Most High God to be a mother to the child(ren) you hold in your arms. To love them through their hardships and cheer them on in their wins. To cover their cuts with kisses and bandaids; rock them gently with a lullaby when their sick; to extend patience when they don’t quite understand their own emotions. 

You have been given the GREATEST gift in this world—to be a mom. You have the most important job in the world—there are people who depend on you.

I hope you know, today and every day, how valuable you are.  And my prayer for you is that today you’ll hold your little one a little closer and a little longer. Thank God for choosing you to be their mama and remember there is no one else like you in their world.

 

NEW Crosswalk Article // Power Quotes on Love

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Love is a powerful action. We seek wholeness in the love of God. We pursue it in a lifelong companion. We give it selflessly to our children and withhold it from our enemies. Love is an action we take part in daily.

How can you love well? Fortunately, the Bible is packed with verses about love that applies to all relationships! Below you will find verses, and even some encouraging quotes, about how to give love and receive love. Find truth to pierce your heart and mind, whether it be in loving God, family, your enemy, or yourself, just to name a few.

It is love that changes the world.

Today I'm sharing on Crosswalk power quotes and Bible verses on LOVE.

Monday Care for the Mama's Heart // Resisting the Urge to Parent Your Husband

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It happens so often I can even pick one example to share. One glimpse into my imperfect attempt to be a perfect wife and mom.

Before having a kid, I'll be honest, I didn't understand why it was so common for marriages to become secondary. I was naive about a lot of things before having a child, haha. I just loved my husband so much I couldn't comprehend the difficulty that could come with expanding the family.  Especially since pregnancy brought us closer than we had ever been before.

Bringing a child into the world is one of the most beautiful things and a true gift. But it sure ain't easy to all the things that come afterward for a lifetime.

I make a lot of mistakes as a mom and wife, but one I do real well is parenting my husband. Do you do that, too?! You know, make comments about how you think your husband should do something. Correct how they dress the kiddo or feed the baby. I mean, we all have done this a time or two, am I right? Please say I'm not crazy!

Part of learning to parent and love your spouse well in balance is learning to never parent the spouse. Here are a few ways we could do a little better in this area.

  1. Take a breath and move on. In other words, let it go. Pick your battles. If it's not a game changing decision or throws your household into a chaotic mess, take a moment to realize it's not worth causing disunity for one snide remark. Take a deep breath and move on.
  2. Ask questions instead of assuming. Extend some grace. Maybe your husband has had a rough day and just isn't all there. I mean, I've had mom brain more times than I can count and I really appreciate the understanding. Don't just assume your husband had bad intentions to get back at you or didn't care to give it his best.
  3. Don't assume your way is the only right way. As moms we sometime assume our way is the best way (and only way) to handle a situation because of that motherly instinct and all the research we pour into. But I'll be honest--there were times I wanted to resist the way Ryan wanted to do something and realized he actually had a great idea!

I hope this helps give you a bit of perspective when it comes to being a mom and a wife. I know it's something I certainly need to be reminded of.

Tonight, let your husband know how much you value him as a husband and father. Share with him all the wonderful ways he contributes to the family. And be a little more open-minded about co-parenting with him; showing him respect as a father and resisting the urge to parent him.

Season : Summer

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Awww...summertime. A season when the days are longer and the nights shorter. When life is thriving and people get outside to enjoy the best nature has to offer. It's an abundant and active season--a good season.

Are you in a summertime bliss? All is well and cares are minor. God is blessing you beyond what you can imagine. What a time to celebrate!

Often, in our summers, we may forget to go to Him on a regular basis or begin to rely on ourselves. Our abundance makes us forget our need for the Father.

First and foremost, spend this season of blessing in thanksgiving. Use your voice to give praise to the One who is the provider of all good gifts.

Second, do what Deuteronomy says.

The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.
— Deuteronomy 28:12

Your abundance is a gift to be shared. Your summer is a time to lend to others who may be in need. Invest your time into helping at the local shelter. Help a struggling,hard working family with by paying for their car repairs. Start a Bible study.

Don't use your summer for yourself--spend it by blessing others! Share some of that summertime bliss.

Monday Care for the Mama's Heart // Ain't No Mama Like the One I Got

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When I was pregnant with Roman, I had every intention of breastfeeding; it was something I really wanted to do as a mama. I never imagined what would end up happening after I gave birth to my precious little boy that would throw my plans completely off track.

I gave birth to Roman on a Friday night and that Sunday, I was excited to go home with my little man. When we did finally pull into the garage with our little bundle of joy, I felt sick so Ryan made me lay down for a few hours to get some much-needed rest. After a bit of resistance, I finally caved and took a 3-hour nap.

When I woke up I felt much better and enjoyed a bbq on our back porch with my sweet family. Later that night, Ryan, Roman, and I excitedly (but also nervously) settled into the bedroom for our first night at home.

That's when I took a bad turn. Within a half hour, I went from a slightly icky feeling to an 8 on the pain scale. I was in excruciating pain and knew something was wrong. My husband and I made the call to go to the ER and with tears in my eyes, I said goodbye to my newborn son as he looked up at me with those baby blues.

I ended up spending the next 3 days in ICU for an ovarian blood clot. More than the physical pain, though, was the emotional bottom I hit and shame I experienced. Due to the blood clot and blood thinners I would have to be on for several months, I would not able to breastfeed. This wrecked me with shame and guilt.

One thing I dreaded as a new mom was the question I would inevitably get about breastfeeding. Because the answer was, "No, I wasn't." With each question I felt I needed to defend myself; to explain why I wasn't breastfeeding my son. Mom-shaming was a fear for me and I didn't want to be on the receiving end of any of it. 

It's so sad that mom-shaming is even a thing. Social media certainly makes it worse because a woman can judge other women they don't even know from the non-confrontational safety of their home. Honestly, most moms likely believe they aren't doing anything inherently wrong; they probably rationalize they are just "helping" or "offering advice." How devastating one comment can be for a mom, though.

Mamas, you are responsible for your child; not another's. Obviously, if harm is being done to a child or injustice is being committed, say something! But to judge another mom for not doing something the way you think it should be done is wrong. Nor is it ok to talk about one mom to others--it's gossip. These and all of the above tear down and cause harm.

Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
— Matthew 7:1-5

If you're going to have a critical spirit and call others out, you can expect it to come right back to you. Truth is, women don't want to be friends with other women who are critical. This world is already hard on us, and often we are too hard on ourselves as a parent, so the last thing we need is other mamas making it worse. Making us feel devalued.

Words are powerful. YOUR words pack more punch than you can imagine. 

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
— Proverbs 18:21

Your words can either build up or tear down. Your words to a fellow mama can either rip at the heart of a tender-loving mom or encourage a weary mother. Place yourself in the shoes of a recipient. How would it impact your heart to have someone criticize you as a parent? Pretty crappy, right?

In contrast, Proverbs 16:24 illustrates the good that your words can bring.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

God created you (and your mouth) to worship Him and edify others. He didn't create you to gossip, hurt, or lie, so don't act outside of this! Worship him and love others as you were created to do.

Let's be people who uplift, support, and honor people. Furthermore, and above all else, may our words be pleasing to God, whom we worship and adore.

If you are a mama who is hurting after someone shared critical words about you, know that you are more than their words. You are valuable in the eyes of the Father, and you are worth more than anything to your little one(s). Shake off those words and remind yourself of your identity in Christ. In doing so, you also show your children how to do the same and rise above the criticism of others. 

Friend, you are so beautiful and a wonderful mom. Surely in the eyes of your child, ain't no mama like the one they got!

Let's support each other on this motherhood journey. It's not easy, which is why we need each other all the more to be cheerleaders--celebrating the wins and loving one another in the hardship.

How will you encourage another mom today?

Seasons : Spring

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Spring is a season for renewal and regrowth. For birth. It's when things start to come alive and burst forth in glorious display. What was once dead now thrives with life. 

Spring is a time when you once again come alive. When those dead bones dance in freedom and weary soul is refreshed with spring rain. It's a beautiful season of life that holds abundant goodness and blessing.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
— Isaiah 43:18-19

If you're coming out of a barren winter, it's time to step forward and leave that time behind. Instead, look around and see what God is starting to do. He is beginning something new--something different than anything else you've been through before.

God is making a way!

If you've been in a hard season but see hope ahead, step forward. Embrace the new life breaking forth and soak up what God wants to do in your life. This is a great season in life; one to be celebrated. Stop going over the old and instead rejoice in the new!

I know you might be thinking, "Brittany, that's easier said than done." I know, I know! It can be hard to let go of the pain or forget about the hardship. But flourishing in the Spring means leaving the past behind. It means finding a way to heal (check out this reading plan on how to heal). It means living in the freedom God is extending to you. Find your way into the sunlight, my friend.

If you're in this season, be oh so grateful. These seasons are sweet like the budding flowers but won't last forever so cherish the abundance God has you in. Always be sure to give thanks and celebrate what God is doing in your life. Give Him all the glory!

Monday Care for the Mama's Heart // A Poem to a Mother

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A Poem to a Mother

Your head is feeling achy, filled with worries and with stress,
sometimes you question if today you truly gave your best.
It throbs and it runs, it hurts and it pounds,
at times you feel that it never calms down.

But that head that aches, look, it lifts up every day,
it houses sweet memories and has built the right words to say.
It has dreamed big for your family, for those kids you adore,
every day you pick your head up, you’re stronger than the day before.

Look down at those hands, though dried out and tired,
they’re the hands that first held those precious babies at your side.
They’re the hands that have wiped away a countless amount of tears,
they’re hands that can move mountains through every passing year.
They’re hands that have held on tight, guiding children as they grow,
they’re hands that have
released, when it was time for them to go.

Your lips, on some days, may seem to stay in a pout,
questionable are the screams or the words that have come out. 
But those lips are special, they’ve laid out rules, and given advice,
they’ve kissed
boo boos, said “i love yous,” and “you’ll always be my child.”
From your lips came words that your little ones needed to hear,
out came reassurance and comfort when they turned to you with fears.

Your eyes, though tired, and have gone long with little rest,
are the eyes that have watched in vigilance through their lowest and their bests.
Those eyes have cried tears of joy, fear, sorrow, and immense love,
they’re eyes that have closed as you prayed for your children to heaven above.

Your ears are ringing from the whines, shrills, screams, and “mo-mmy!”,
you have covered them up many times, in a desperate plea.
They have even been the recipients of unkind and hurtful words,

criticism, scoffs, and things you wish you never heard.

But your ears, though ringing, have been blessed to hear a child’s first words and shouts,
they’re the ears that have listened intently to worries and to doubts.
They’ve been blessed to hear conversations and laughter in your home.
They’re ears that have heard, “I love you, mom” and they remind
you you’re not alone.

Your feet, at times, seem to drag..slowly here and there,
some days they’re like weights, you feel you’re not getting anywhere.
Those feet ache, and it seems, many miles they have run,
but as you stepped forward each day, do you realize what you’ve done?

You have set an example,
you moved bravely and in faith,
with the
miles your feet have walked,
you’ve shown your children the way.

Your heart is feeling tired, and has many times, broken right in half,
from the “no!”
s andi hate you!”s or the fights you have had. 
It has experienced heartache, and grief, and stress as it pounds,
for when it comes to your children, they’re your heart walking around.

But that heart, oh that heart, it’s such a special one,
It’s a heart that has strength, it’s a heart that has overcome.
It’s the heart that accepted the great role to be a mother
An adventure that involves trials and struggles like no other.

Unknown were the hardships and sweet joys ahead,
but your heart made itself ready for the wonderful road it would tread.
Motherhood called you, and your heart took on the call
so that heart, oh that heart, mother, is the strongest part of all.

So look in the mirror, and then see what’s within,
see the good that you do, and the love that you bring,
Look at your strength and your courage, true beauty is what you should see,
and know that this, wonderful mother, this is where you are meant to be.

By Pamela Macdonald

Seasons : Winter

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Winter is a season of barrenness. It can leave you feeling isolated and in want for comfort. It's this season of life that is the hardest. When discouragement is at its height and comfort seems at its furthest.

Hosea 2 has been a dear companion of mine in my own winters. A valuable source of comfort when I've felt alone, misunderstood, or hurting.

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.

And in that day I will answer, declares the Lord, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’
— Hoseas 2:14;23 (ESV)

Beginning in verse 14, there is a “wooing” of Israel; God is wanting to bring his children close to Him on a very personal level. Continuing on in the verse, although currently in a Valley of Achor (also known as “Valley of Trouble”), there is a door of hope in the future. Essentially, what this passage is saying is that God wants to bring you close to Him. In your valley of trouble and pain, show you there is hope before you. That the trouble won’t last forever.

Further in verse 16, there is a transition between the levels of relationship. Again noting a more personal level, God wants you to no longer see Him as just a master, but as a “Husband.” This reiterates affection towards His people. We then see a key phrase mentioned three times in two verses, “I will betroth you.” When a phrase or word is mentioned multiple times in a short span, it means it’s very important to understand what’s being said. God wants to make sure we know the importance of His covenant and restoring love.

The chapter ends with a confirmation that He will show love to us, even if we may feel unloved. To the person feeling lonely and forgotten, these words are soothing to the soul.

In your winter, know that you are there for a purpose. God may be bringing you into the wilderness so that you might know Him more intimately and that your relationship would be strengthened. Know, also, that you won't be there forever--there is a door of hope ahead!

Your winter will be challenging but there is so much value in it. So much purpose. Don't give up in your valley of trouble but keep moving forward towards that door of hope and seek an intimacy with God you've never experienced before.

Winter won't last forever. Spring is coming.

Monday Care for the Mama’s Heart // The Day After Mother’s Day

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Yesterday I had the honor of celebrating my first Mother’s Day and what a beautiful honor it was. I spent some time while Ryan grabbed my favorite takeout—Indian—to scroll through photos of Roman. Seeing his little face mature through the timeline of photos had my mama heart overflowing.

Yesterday thousands of moms were celebrated. Brunches were had. Gifts were given. Family time was in abundance.

But what about today? And the next? And all the days after?  

I want to speak to your mama heart today and remind you that you have the most important role on the planet. Each day you are making a deposit into another human being in a way that no other person can. Raising up a child to be a God-honoring, hard-working, kind and compassionate person is no small task. 

I know motherhood may seem unappreciated and hidden many days but your investment is worth far more than anything else your child(ren) could receive. Honestly, each day should be a celebration of you!

But now that it's back to the everyday diaper changes, school drop-offs, dinner preparations, and homework aid, perhaps you feel lost in it all. 

I want you to know today and every day that you are the most important person in the world to your kid(s). You have value, worth, and purpose in a way no one can unless they're a mother. Your role is special. You are needed. 

Today, if you're looking for the next big thing, take this to heart:

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
— Galatians 6:4-5

You are more than what you do as a mom but their is nothing that has a greater reward. I want to explore identity beyond motherhood in a later post but the honest truth is, what you do in this area of your life is incredibly significant. Sink yourself into the mundane. Embrace the hiddenness. Don't look at everyone else and their life; appreciate what you have in your home. And do your absolute, creative best with your role as a mom!

Embrace the snuggles. Cherish the smiles, Capture the memories you are making each day with the one(s) entrusted into your care. Your mama heart is needed and your absolute best is always honored as they flourish in thsi world.

Seasons : Fall

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Fall lives in this beautiful tension of harvesting fruit from the summer and looking to a barren winter on the horizon. It can be abundant and cozy but also unsure and fearful. This tension we live in at times is rare in its ability to foster gratitude and stretch faith.

In this series expressing life through seasons, I want to take you through a journey of how to navigate different series of life. The good and the bad; the vibrant and the dark.

I find the season of fall to bring three experiences with it. 

Harvesting fruit.

The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest
— Psalm 85:12

Fall is a time for harvest. A time you reap what was once sown in labor and faith. Fall is a time to gather up the fruit and goodness from a bountiful season.

Have you been in a good season? A fruitful season? Then take time to celebrate what God has done in your life. Gather up the good and recount your blessings. Bring in the bounty so that you're ready for the drought ahead. 

Harvesting is a seaosn of celebrationg and preparation. Remebering the good and storing up for the difficulty ahead.

Shedding of old.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
— Hebrews 12:1

One of my favorite things about fall is the shedding of trees. Greens give way to oranges, reds, and yellows in spectacular fashion. But as beautiful as this is, in reality, life is lost. Leaves are dying and the trees shed the old life away.

A life season of fall might be a season of shedding the past and shaking off the old. Of ridding yourself of what is dead. Maybe it's friends of negative influence. Perhaps it's an old habit that locks you into bondage.

Whatever sin or harm might be clinging on to you, it's time to throw it off. Winter is a season that calls out the endurance in us, unlike any other time. In order to persevere through the barren, you'll need all the endurance you can get. And to tap into that, you'll need to leave the old behind.

Preparing for winter.

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
— 1 Peter 1:13

You've likely noticed when the squirrels gather their nuts in fall for the winter coming. Animals across the world prepare for the difficult season ahead. It's prudent to do so.

Winter always comes and you must be prepared for when it does. Be ready in season and out of season for what may come. Prepare your mind and fix your hope on Jesus. That way when it does hit, you're layered up and ready to face the cold.

Fall is a beautiful time and I hope you will celebrate when you're in it. But it's also a time of preparation and I hope you will take part in doing so in order to survuve the comign winter.

 

NEW YouVersion Reading Plan // Don't Give Up

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Have you ever been so tired or defeated in life that you’ve wanted to throw in the towel and give up? The Bible is full of encouragement to persevere and keep going! This 7-day reading plan will refresh you for the journey ahead.

To read, search "Don't Give Up" on your YouVersion App or click the link below.

Monday Care for the Mama's Heart // Patience Over Power

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Love is patient and kind.
— 1 Corinthians 13:4a

My precious, adorable, and loving 10-month-old had just hit me--his dear mama--in the face. I couldn't believe it. I thought, certainly he was too young to be doing such a thing!

"No!" I exclaimed in my half astonished and half outraged reaction. He looked at me with those big blue eyes and instantly, crocodile tears began to form. Also instantly, my mama heart felt guilty for the hot reaction and I knew I was entering a new season of motherhood.

Parenting has a way of testing your patience unlike anything else, no matter what season you are in. It's an incredible and painful avenue of pulling out the selfishness deep within you. When you start to experience impatience with your child, it's because something they are or are not doing is poking at something inside of you that doesn't want to be poked at.

  • Their struggle to go down for a nap is a poke at your time.
  • Their early morning wake up call in a poke at your rest.
  • Their hit in the face is a poke at your power.
  • Their lack of follow through on a command is a poke at your pride.
  • Their temper tantrum is a poke at your quiet mental state.

The list could go on. We all--and I mean ALL--face pivotal moments when patience is tested. How will you respond? With a short fuse or steady hand? Because how you choose to respond will have ripple effects in your child's life.

Now, let's be honest: none of us are going to get it right 100% of the time. We are imperfect, and as we looked at last week, our weakness leaves room for God's strength. Thank goodness for that! Sweet friend, stop pressuring yourself to have it all figured out or to nail parenting every single time. If you live under constant pressure, you'll break. So let go of those expectations and live in the sweet area of Jesus'strength.

However, let's circle back to patience over power. Your kiddo(s) are looking to you to guide them well with both tenderness and strength. It's our jobs as mama's to take our selfish inclinations out of the equation in order to parent from a place of love and gentleness.

Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another.
— Ephesians 4:2

I know patience is one of those attributes that can be hard to wrangle in because you don't often know it's going to be a problem until you're in the moment and losing it already. Which is why it's one of those things that will require prayer and time and you know, patience.

Start practicing more calm, delayed, and kind responses with your children. When you're poked, take a deep breath, remember who they are and who you are in this relationship, and choose a more humble and gentle response. You won't bat one hundred but with some practice and a commitment to prayer, I truly believe God can help soften your responses towards your child(ren).

Here are a few practical ways to practice patience over power:

  1. Take a deep breath before you respond.
  2. Get proper perspective. Remember, your child looks up to you and is looking for guidance and support. For me, I remember that my son can't communicate and often throws a tantrum because he simply can't express to me what he wants or need.
  3. Pray often! Whenever you can get in those sweet moments with Jesus.
  4. Make time for yourself. Every mama needs a little space to be herself and rest.
  5. Have realistic expectations. Children will be children so don't expect them to follow your perfectly executed timeline 24/7. Leave room to be flexible with the ebbs and flows of your child's needs and wants.

For those moments you do lose your patience, pray you'll respond better next time. Also, tell your child you are sorry and ask for their forgiveness. It's amazing what this model will teach your kids and how that grace in between will strengthen your relationship with your them. The transparency and humility in that moment will be huge in how your child develops as a person.

Now, as soon as you see your little mini me, scoop them up into your arms and smother them with mama kisses!

Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.
— Romans 12:12

Yes and amen!


Cultivating Unity // Love

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Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
— Matthew 22:36-40
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
— Romans 12:10

Love is our greatest mandate; to love God first and our neighbors as ourselves are the greatest commandments. In fact, Matthew 22 says that the law hinges on this very mandate.

When we commit to love others--to show them brotherly affection--we are doing one of the most important things we can be doing on this earth. It’s not an afterthought or something meant only for those closest to us; love is your highest calling.

In fact, Romans says you should outdo one another in showing kindness. Imagine if everyone aimed to go above and beyond in loving each other. Imagine how transformed the body of Christ would be if this one principle was implemented.

Make it a point to show love to your spouse, your family, your coworkers, your friends, and the people you come in contact with at church. If you can do this--if you can be a carrier of God’s love--then you’ll be a catalyst for unity.

Unity is incredibly desired by God, for His people. He longs to see His children live out humility, gentleness, patience, and love among each other and in a broken world. Begin to take steps in growing in these areas and living them out, and you’ll certainly honor Him.

Seek unity in your relationships, among other believers, and in your church, and watch as they flourish in ways you’ve never witnessed before. Unity is very important, so be a carrier of it today. Bring unity into your world!

Monday Care for the Mama's Heart // Fearing Failure

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For a long time, I was afraid to be a mom. Terrified that I'd pass on my baggage or project my past struggles onto a little human being. That my insecurity, anger, and selfishness would make me a bad parent. Honestly, I didn't believe I deserved the honor of being a mom. 

I'm so thankful God brought me through and past that fear because being a mom is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. But it hasn't always been easy and I certainly have so much to learn.

I still feel like a hot mess most days. Feel like I'm dropping the ball somewhere or that I'm not a good enough mom. Shame often creeps in and whispers how I've failed my son. Oh boy, does that cut to the deepest parts of my soul.

Maybe you've been there or facing it right now?

Shame is ugly. Heartbreak is real. The ups and downs of motherhood are both wonderful and exhausting. Times flies by when you're having fun and yet seems to creep along in the hardship. It's why, as a mom, you have to rely on Jesus instead of yourself or your husband or even your kids. Nothing will make you whole, sustain you, and make up the difference in your weakness like Christ will.

The verse that has carried me through my darker moments is 2 Corinthians 12:9:

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Weakness is part of the human nature. And thank goodness it is or we wouldn't feel the need for Christ. It seems this is more apparent in motherhood than in any other role or season in life. Our weaknesses and failures are never more evident than here. It's also where fear can thrive if not careful.

Fear of failing your family.

Fear will happen but it's not meant to stick around. God wants you to turn to Him in those frail moments and find solace in Him. He wants you to come with your weaknesses so that He can show up with His strength. Your areas of failure and lack of sureness create opportunities for God to move and be glorified.

It's why Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians that he would boast in his weaknesses. He knew that where he failed God flourished. And he would rather God flourish than for him to feel competent.

Mama, I know this journey is emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausting. I know there are moments when you question your identity and worth; when you wonder if you can do it. That you experience lonely moments of shame and guilt.

We've all been there--struggled in our calling as a mom. Not because we don't love our kid(s) with all our heart because we do fiercely. But because we're human and none of us have it all figured out or are the perfect mom. We're not meant to be. Only Jesus is perfect and only he can lift you up to be the best mom to your kiddos that you can be.

Don't parent alone, friend. Lean into the Father, embrace His presence, and tap into His strength. In fact, welcome those moments of weakness as opportunities for Christ to shine brightly to those kiddos entrusted to you by Him!


Additional Resources:

Cultivating Unity // Patience

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
— Proverbs 14:29

Praying for patience doesn’t usually work out the way you hope; in fact, it often puts you in moments when patience is tested. Am I right?! The moment you ask God for help to be patient you get stuck in traffic and show up late to work. Or your toddler throws a fit in the grocery store. Or a co-worker tests your nerves. This has never been more true for me now that I’m the mama to a little boy. It seems I pray for patience every day and God certainly answers in the form of situations that go ahead and test that patience. His answer to my prayer is to give me opportunities that will facilitate growth in this area.

Patience is one of those virtues that can be tested multiple times in a day. It catches us in our best mood. But how do we practice it and how does it lend itself to unity?

Patience means being slow to anger and having the wisdom to not be hasty. When this is tested--when your blood begins to boil and you want to rush into a situation--it’s always wise to take a momentary breather. To gain some perspective of the moment and act in an understanding way.

This will prove beneficial in your relationships and in your church. When you choose to be patient and understanding with another, you choose peace. You choose gentleness. You choose to handle the moment with grace. Proverbs says that with patience a ruler can be persuaded. If patience can do that who knows what power it has to foster unity!

Focus on patience as you go through your day today. Catch yourself in the moments it is tested and embrace how you can grow in that moment. As you begin to live it out, watch how it can transform your relationships!

Cultivating Unity // Gentleness

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Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
— Colossians 4:5-6

Did you know that your greatest strength can also be a weakness? I've certainly discovered this to be true in my many years of ministry.

You see, I'm a type A, get-er-done, clear objective to accomplish kind of gal. And although this certainly can be a great strength to have, I have found its weakness in me to be that of a blunt nature. Sometimes in my singular focus to accomplish a task, I've come across as assertive in a way that has rubbed people the wrong way. I can have the most genuine heart and kindest of motives, but somehow my delivery has appeared inconsiderate at times.

This isn't easy for me to share and I'll be honest--I'm still growing in this area. But as someone working through what it looks like to be gentle, I can testify to its importance.

Gentleness goes a long way in any conversation, relationship, or situation. Proverbs says that it has the ability to turn away wrath; its power is great and truly incomprehensible.

When you interact with someone, Colossians says to do it in grace; that how we speak should bring out the best in a person. Particularly in a tense moment or one with an unbeliever. Being kind to someone when your instinct is to lash out or correct is gentleness in action. Therefore, when anger begins to brew in you and in the other person, it’s our responsibility to diffuse the tension. Choose to turn the table by responding in kindness and gentleness.

Perhaps you're like me in that sometimes your delivery, no matter how good intentioned your heart may be, can come across abrasive or inconsiderate. If so, it's time to start thinking about how you will respond before you do, in ANY and EVERY situation.

Whether it’s a relationship with another person or as part of the body of Christ, choose gentleness to guide you. Doing this will speak volumes to those around you and help foster unity in your relationships.

Make it a point daily to pray for gentleness. Pray that God will help you in the way you interact with and respond to others. Gentleness is not always easy but it is always necessary.