faith

You are the Momma for the Job

“GO TO SLEEP!!” I screamed in my baby’s face, desperate to complete one sleep cycle before having another full day with my clingy toddler and constantly crying infant. I had an underlying dread that the final thread at the end of my rope was slipping out of my fingers.

As this baby reached toddlerhood, I saw some of my worst fears come true. Whenever she didn’t get her way, this child of mine let her emotions fly by hitting, kicking, thrashing, throwing, pulling; all the while screaming in defiance. 

It was my fault. I was the reason she responded this way. If I couldn’t handle my emotions, how could I expect her to handle her own? She learned this behavior directly from the person she trusted most.

STOP.

Did you catch it? That last paragraph was a lie straight from the devil and I had to fight hard to convince myself it wasn’t true.

Recognize the Lie

The enemy loves to take things that are true and twist them into a resemblance of truth. “When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies.” (John 8:44b; The Message).

The facts:

  • I was exhausted and weak.

  • I took my frustrations out on my baby by screaming at her.

  • This was a sign that I needed help.

  • I ended up getting help by going to counseling.

The lies:

  • Yelling at my baby was a sign that I was a terrible parent.

  • It’s because of people like me that birthing classes teach on “purple crying”.

  • My yelling at my child would result in her having emotional issues.

  • Every time my child yells, it is a direct correlation to that late night.

  • If I was a real Christian, I wouldn’t make such a big mistake.

  • My children would be better off with a less emotional momma.

Satan is a professional liar. It’s what he does. He was attempting to take some things I had done wrong and use them to define not only my life, but the future life of my child.

Now, I do not condone yelling at children for any reason. I firmly believe that if I feel such a strong need to yell, it is a sign that something needs to change about me. In that season, I needed solid sleep and some solid counseling. Today, my yelling signals a need to redirect my approach and realize that my children are far more important than the issue.

The difference between facts and lies is the layer of guilt added on by the lie. It’s subtle, but if you go back and read those two lists again you’ll see what I mean. The lies were filled with assumptions that my actions determined my worth and my child’s future. 

Embrace the Truth

While the enemy uses words that destroy, God uses words that restore.

The Truth:

  • I make mistakes and fall short of God’s glory, just like everybody else. Romans 3:23

  • Because I’m not perfect, God provided perfection for me. John 3:17

  • He used those late night failures to wake me up to reality. Revelation 3:1-3

  • When I surrender to Him, I am restored. Job 33:25-27

  • My story is being redeemed and used for His good. Romans 8:28

The enemy would have me believe that when my daughter reacts with screaming, it is all my fault. But God used those trying years to refine me and show me where I needed to do some serious work. By learning about my own issues, I was given the tools to learn how to help my daughter. 

Instead of ruining her, I have the opportunity to help her in ways that no other momma ever could. I get her. I can work with her. I can teach her how to recognize the tension before it explodes. I can help her breathe. I can love on her the way He has loved on me. Perhaps, God put us together on purpose so that we could grow together.

You are the Momma for the Job

Friend, if the enemy is whispering lies to you about your ability to do this mom thing, I’m here to remind you of the truth: God doesn’t make mistakes. You are the momma of your child for good reason. He placed you together on purpose.

If you need help, get it. One of the best things we can do for our children is demonstrate what it looks like to admit our mistakes and then work through them. When they see how you turn to God in your struggles, they will learn to turn to God in their own struggles. 

Your worth is not in your ability to do things right. Your worth is in your identity as a daughter of the King. You carry His Name. Don’t let the enemy tell you otherwise.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.
— 1 Peter 5:7-9; NLT

Fixated

My girls love horses, so occasionally we will watch a clip from a horse race and pick our favorite. “The one with the pink!” the 5 year old declares. “I want the gray one to win!” exclaims the elder. We are very scientific in our choices.

Sidenote: another example of our stellar sporting picks is in NASCAR. My favorite driver is Kyle Busch because he drives the m&m car and he wins a lot. Every time he wins, I celebrate with a bag of m&m’s. All in support of racing of course.

The other day we were watching one of these horse races, and the girls noticed that some of the horses had a special contraption around their eyes. 

“Oh, those are blinders,” I told them. “You know how horses have such a wide range of vision?”

“Yes, I know that! Horses can see everywhere except behind them and right in front of them!” Thank you, Wild Kratts.

“Well,” I continued, “sometimes they use blinders to help the horses stay focused. The less they are distracted, the more likely they are to maintain a straight course, run fast, and win the race.”

Did you catch that?

When a horse’s eyes are fixed on what’s ahead, they are less likely to get spooked by something blowing in the wind or be distracted by a rival horse. Rather, they are more likely to be sure of themselves and accomplish their purpose.

This is true of people too. When we operate with the end goal in mind, we are much less likely to run off course or become caught up in what someone else is or isn’t doing. Keeping our eyes fixed on the intended outcome helps us ward off the distractions and accomplish our goals. 

We say “no” to the extra cookie (but not all cookies, because what a downer) when on track to get our lives healthy. We wake up early, write to-do lists, or read a book in order to grow our business or our own personal development. When we sense that the little changes now will make big changes down the road, we put on our blinders, eliminate distractions, and race ahead.

The same is true for our relationship with Jesus. When we are fixated on Him, not looking to the right or to the left, but firmly moving forward in the life He has called us to, we are unshakeable. Immovable. We won’t be distracted by the next fad blowing in the wind. We won’t be so concerned with comparing ourselves to others. We will simply move ahead, eyes on the prize, aiming to win the race.

…let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…
— Hebrews 12:1-2

King Solomon, known for his wisdom, advised his son to not be sidetracked, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.” Proverbs 4:25

What happens when our eyes are fixed on what lies before us? On eternal, Kingdom things? Well, the Bible holds some promises.

We Have Peace

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3

We Maintain Eternal Perspective

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

We Experience Transformation

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.” Romans 12:2 (The Message)

Sometimes it’s easy to let the worries of life weigh us down. But friend, don’t give up. Put your blinders on and chase after God’s plan for your life. Experience His peace, remember your eternal reward, and allow your Maker to continue His transformation of you as you live your life for His glory.

Be fixated on Jesus, and let all the rest melt away.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me - everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
— Phillipians 4:8-9

5 Ways to Fight the Quiet Time Rut

My quiet time has been a bit blah this summer. I’ve allowed social media and needs of my home to distract me. I’ve woken up in the morning and updated the status on my virtual game instead of opening my Bible and ingesting life. I’ve slept in. I’ve adopted an attitude that summer is a lazy season, so it’s okay for me to be lazy too.

Quiet time ruts are real and happen to everyone; even pastors’ wives! The key is recognizing a rut and knowing how to respond when you find yourself in one. Here are 5 ways we can fight those quiet time ruts!

1: Remember the Why

I don’t spend time with Jesus because it’s what I’m supposed to do as a pastor’s wife. I spend time with Jesus because of who Jesus is. God gave me life and He is the reason I live my life. He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. The number one way to live my best life is to have Him in my life. God’s Word is there to speak to us and there is wisdom far greater there than in any social media comment stream or internet article. Including this one. So, if you are reading this article instead of spending time in the Word, turn off your phone and open your Bible.

2: Remember the Difference

I’m a much nicer person when I’ve spent time with Jesus. He changes me. It’s the weirdest, most impossible thing, but I have more energy when I get up early to spend time with Him. I respond to my children and my husband with more grace and love when I recognize the grace and love that Jesus is pouring over my life. When my heart and mind are focused on greater things, the craziness of the world doesn’t pull me down. I am stronger, more confident, more productive, and more joyful, when I make space for Jesus at the beginning of my day. The time is never wasted; it’s the most important thing I do.

3: Make a Plan

What’s causing the noise in your life? For me, right now, it’s my stinkin’ phone. I need to keep it away from me in the mornings and just have it charging in another room. There is nothing so pressing that I have to check my messages as soon as my feet hit the floor. I also need to reconsider where I spend my quiet time. I often sit in a dark room to keep from waking up the house, but since the dark makes it hard to see what I’m reading, I may need a new space.

4: Get Some Accountability

You don’t need to have an official check-in every day, but there is wisdom in sharing your plan with someone else. Find a friend or mentor and let them know what you are trying to do. I love doing a Bible study with a small group because it helps me stay on track. Try downloading an app like YouVersion or She Reads Truth on your phone and choosing from one of the free plans available. Maybe just pick a book of the Bible to read and journal through. Whatever you plan to do, share it with someone and invite them to join you. We aren’t meant to do life alone.

5: Don’t Feel Guilty

If you feel guilty about missing your quiet time, that’s the enemy talking, not Jesus. We do not serve a slave driver, or a God who loves conditionally. He doesn’t demand that we spend time with Him, He wants us to spend time with Him. God sees what we cannot and He wants to share His heart with us. So, if your quiet time has been a bit blah lately, just start fresh today.

What’s your plan? What’s your next step? What are you reading? How is it changing your life?

Joyful are people of integrity,
who follow the instructions of the LORD.
Joyful are those who obey his laws
and search for him with all their hearts.
— Psalm 119:1-2

Breaking Point: Part 3

This is the third and final post in a series I’ve written telling the story of my lowest point in motherhood and postpartum depression. If you missed the first two installments, you can find them here and here.

This is for all the mommas who are gasping for air. The ones who are pleading with God that their children will turn out okay despite their measly best efforts. I’m here to pick you up, shed some tears together, and instill some strength for tomorrow.


Part 3: Broken

On Thursday, I hated myself for letting my anger get the best of me. On Friday, I went to counseling and addressed my issue with anger. On Saturday, I failed again.

You know the strangest thing? I can’t actually remember what happened on Saturday. Thursday is so incredibly vivid in my mind. Every detail of that day can be relived moment by moment, but Saturday? It’s just a blur.

I had gone to bed the night before, completely assured that everything I had learned in counseling was going to right all of my parenting wrongs. “I’ve got this,” was my mantra.

But then Saturday happened. Maybe I didn’t sleep well. Maybe someone said something to someone else and I got frustrated about it. Maybe it seemed like no one could hear me no matter how loud I talked. I’m not sure what caused the initial spark, but my emotions were lit on fire and I reacted.

I don’t remember what I did exactly. I just know I got mad. And as a result, I felt like I was drowning in the deepest despair.

Even with all the tools I had gained in counseling, I was still a failure. A hopeless case. My heart was gutted, for surely, my children would be better off with someone else for a mother. Anyone but me.

My husband took the girls out of the house to give everyone some space. We would all meet up later at an event we were attending.

They left, and I curled up on my bed in a heap of sorrow. The term “ugly cry” doesn’t do it justice. I didn’t know how to move forward, how to get passed this. 

I’m not sure how long I stayed there, but I eventually got up and started moving. I took a shower and went through the basic motions of getting ready. The last thing I wanted to do was go anywhere with that weight of defeat hovering over me, but I decided it would be easier to go if only to avoid any questions of why I didn’t show up.

So, I went, and the day was kind of a fog. I wanted to be alone and cry, but it was good to be around people I loved. I didn’t say much, and I probably seemed a bit anti-social that day, but I managed to make it through.

And you know, after Saturday, things got better.

That feeling of ultimate failure? It was my low point AND my turning point. I didn’t give up, no matter how hard the enemy tried to convince me I should. Despite all the lies he threw at me, I kept doing what I knew was right.

I kept going to counseling. I wrote out my feelings. I claimed truth. I did some major spiritual warfare. I called out the depression for what it was. I became more intentional about doing things that would keep me healthy mentally and physically.

A year after that Saturday, I was a different person. Today, I can honestly say I have joy again. And my girls? 

My girls are the highlight of my life. If you’ve never met them, they really are quite lovely. My oldest got baptized last month. My youngest goes around singing praises to Jesus at the top of her lungs. They are still very young, but smart, loving, respectful, and kind children. God has a great plan for each of their lives.

They are this way, despite my measly best efforts. Everything they are, is because of Jesus working in them personally and through me so I can be the momma I could never be on my own.

Friend, if the enemy is trying to convince you that you are worthless, kick that lie to the curb. You are a precious child of God. Cling to His Truth and walk in His ways - you can trust Him. Take one small step at a time. Breathe in deep and then let it all out. You are not alone, and perhaps, you were made for such a time as this.

The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
— Psalm 34:17-19

He is Big Enough for Your Needs Too

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Everywhere I look there are needs. Big, overwhelming, heart-rending needs.

These are the needs that surround:

a diagnosis
a death
financial disaster
catastrophe
infertility
and more.

Some of our needs stem from the good things in life:

The new baby means sleepless nights.
The job promotion requires extra work.
The big exciting move means making new friends.
The first home comes with a long list of updates.
The new marriage stretches from the comfort zone.
The needs keep coming.

There are needs that we try to push to the side because other needs seem bigger in the moment:

The needs to be wanted, loved, adored, remembered.
The needs for conversation, hope, rest, support, community, and comfort.
Then there are the unnamed needs that keep nagging at our heart and we can’t shake them no matter how hard we try.

All of these needs are important. All of these needs matter. And you know what’s true? God is big enough for your needs too.

It’s easy to see someone who has great need and to feel like your smaller needs must take the back burner for the time being. But you know what else is true?

Your need is not so small that it will slip through His fingers. Your need will never be too heavy for Him to carry. There is no need too big or too small for Him to hold. 

He carries it all simultaneously, and it gives Him great pleasure to do so.

What is your need? Name it. Place it in His arms and allow Him to carry it. He will see you through.

 “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7