For the Kingdom Building Momma

sand castle under white sky at daytime

Hey friend. Life is crazy, isn’t it?

I don’t know about you, but I often feel like my days get consumed by the seemingly meaningless tasks. It could be meal time (are your kiddos always hungry?), dishes, laundry, school work, or the general tidying of the house. It’s the navigation of emotions and wills as my children battle over who is allowed to look in which direction.

It’s the navigation of my own emotions and wills when I start to lose my patience.

Doing Kingdom work came much more simply before my little people entered the scene. I used to be available to serve at all church events at the drop of a hat. Now, I have to consider whether it works for our sleeping/eating schedule, or if the opportunity will require a babysitter.

It was easier then. My life operated on my schedule. If I didn’t get enough sleep it was because I chose to stay up too late watching a movie. My quiet times with God were guaranteed, as long as I didn’t hit the snooze button too many times in a row.

But now? With kids? Things are harder. 

Kingdom work is harder, but not impossible. In fact, I believe that God uses the stretching of our comfort zones to shape us into the women He has destined for us to become. My husband has told me, “Your greatest ministry comes from your deepest pain.”

I felt a lot of pain when my girls were babies. The lack of sleep hit me hard. I grew angry at the inconveniences this role was placing on my life. Depression drifted in after the birth of my second child, and it took me over two years to find my way out. Two years to claim joy and purpose once again.

You see, more than anything else, I wanted to be a Kingdom Builder, and these small ones (as precious as they were) made it really difficult to accomplish my purpose.

But life isn’t about my purpose, is it? It’s about His. His plan for my life. And if I have learned anything over the years, it’s the fact that His plan often looks very different from my plan.

So, Momma? If you are feeling the drudge and the weariness of the every day task, those invisible moments that will never be seen by anyone but you, remember this: God sees it. And He is using it.

He is using you to bring up the next generation of Kingdom Builders. You get the opportunity to speak life into these little people, to show them what it looks like to pursue the Lord, and to be an example of living a life of sacrifice for the sake of the One who sacrificed everything for us.

Look past the moment and see the end. It’s not about that one moment, it’s about allowing God to use all the moments combined to accomplish His great purpose.

You are a Kingdom Builder.

“And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one Lord – his name alone will be worshiped.” Zechariah 14:9

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He Gave Us a Sword

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Image by MollyBrett Photography

A year ago, I was a mess.

I’ve talked about this a bit in some previous posts, so I won’t go into much detail now. The truth is, it’s hard for me to believe the contrast between this year and last.

Depression to JOY.
Anxiety to CONFIDENCE.
Defeat to VICTORY.
Anger to PEACE.
Loneliness to CONNECTEDNESS.

There wasn’t one moment that changed things, but rather a collection of moments and revelations. I’ve talked about some of it here, but I want to share a specific moment with you today.

This one happened in January during the 21 days of prayer and fasting at my church. During these 21 days there was an opportunity to get together with other believers at 6am Monday-Friday for a time of worship and prayer. A season for strengthening. I don’t often get the chance to attend because I have little ones sleeping in their beds, and my husband usually has responsibilities early in the morning. He does work there after all.

But I got to go one lovely Friday morning, and in a brief instant the Lord encouraged me through a simple phrase and an image.

“I have a sword…He gave us a sword.”

In my image I saw myself cowering. My surroundings were hazy and unclear. I knew there was a battle going on, but I was clearly losing; just barely managing to miss the arrows flying toward me. There was a sense of hopelessness.

But then, it started to clear, and I came to realize I wasn’t empty-handed. I had a weapon. A Sword.

I was armed, and with that realization came a strength I had not previously known. The fog continued to clear and I saw I wasn’t by myself after all. The body of Christ was standing together, proclaiming the coming victory, wielding their Swords with power. We were going to FIGHT TOGETHER.

Friends, I share this with you because as we move forward in Christ, the enemy has to step back. The more we recognize our identity in Him and utilize the tools He has bestowed upon us, the more powerful we become.

Are you living in defeat? There is more than what you can see in this moment. Call your enemy out for what he really is and grasp onto the promises your KING has for you.

Here are a few tools you can use to sharpen your sword:

Depression: “In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and SET ME FREE.” Psalm 118:5

Anxiety: “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come BOLDLY and CONFIDENTLY into God’s presence.” Ephesians 3:12

Defeat: “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me VICTORY. This is my God, and I will praise him – my father’s God, and I will exalt him!” Exodus 15:2

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

Loneliness: “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such PERFECT UNITY that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” A prayer of Jesus in John 17:22-23

The art of fighting with a sword requires practice and care. Our sword is our Bible. To use it well we must read it, memorize it, study it, and dwell on it throughout the day. Left unattended, it will rust and become useless. Don’t neglect your Sword.

Brandish your weapon. Victory is ours for the taking.

Infertility: Lara’s Story

Lara and I know each other from when we were in school. We now live in separate states, but thanks to each other posting about infertility on social media, we have recently become reconnected.

I appreciate Lara’s vulnerability in her writing. She speaks of struggles that I’m sure are faced by many in the battle of infertility. There are still a lot of unknowns in her story. A lot of questions yet to be answered. With so much of her story yet to be written, I am honored that she would be open herself up so that others in her situation would not feel alone.

Infertility: Lara’s Story

This is a story that is not yet finished.

It’s about a girl who fell in love with a boy. They had their ups and downs, like all couples do. They moved in together, got married, and started to plan their life. It was tricky at first; the boy was in the Navy and the girl had yet to find a stable job. They moved a couple of times but decided to settle in Virginia, and then decided to start building their family.

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Something wasn’t right, though.  Something was horribly wrong with the girl and she knew it. But like anyone who doesn’t want to receive bad news, she ignored it-until she couldn’t anymore.  Until the boy said “Find out what is wrong. You can’t keep living like this.” And so she did.

She was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), the culprit for all her troubles.  She tried to fight it, tried to beat it down, but PCOS was strong and nasty and dug its ugly claws into her and snarled “You can’t get rid of me so easily.”

All they wanted was a baby, a child to call their own. Someone to love forever, someone they dreamt about. But it never happened. And it never happened. And her heart broke over and over and over again.

She was transferred to another doctor, a specialist, feeling like she was being separated from the “normal” women. Because of course, she was no longer normal. She was infertile.

She was given many more tests, many more medications. She was poked and prodded, she had her blood taken, she had ultrasounds, she had shots and shots and more shots. For months, she was stuck in a vicious cycle of ultrasound, shots, ultrasound, shots, ultrasound, shots, test, no baby.

And it was in these months that she sank into a deep, black darkness… 

If you haven’t guessed already, this is a story about my own infertility journey. I stopped here, not because this journey is finished, but because I wanted to describe, in the first person, this particular chapter.

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I’m going to say a word; a word that we shy away from because there is a stigma attached to it. But there should be no stigma, because it is a disease. Do we shy away from diabetes or heart disease? No.

I was depressed. When I look back on those months all I remember is a blackness that I felt in my heart. I could think of nothing else besides how I was a failure. How I could not do this simple thing of making a baby. I saw my friends and family members have their second and third babies. I knew that I was being punished for something. This is all my fault.

“You are a failure.” 

I heard this inside my head, every day. Every single day I told myself that I am a failure. No wonder I was depressed. You tell yourself the same thing over and over again you begin to believe it.  I blamed myself. Sometimes I still do. But then something happened…

She remained stagnant in that darkness for what seemed like forever, watching everyone else live lives she couldn’t. Screaming at herself. Not saying anything.

Then one day she saw the boy. Really saw him. Even though he had been there through all the doctor appointments and injections. She saw that he was hurting, too. She saw that he was angry that he couldn’t fix it, couldn’t make her happy. And with his help, working together, they pulled each other out of the darkness.

They made a promise to each other that they wouldn’t leave the other behind again. They were a team and they were going to get through this together.

Their story doesn’t end here. They are still fighting: together. They are still on their journey: together. They still are: together.

This is not an easy journey, and I speak as someone who is still writing theirs. I have been where you are. I am going where you have been. No one should have to walk alone. So I am making you a promise. I promise that I will always be there for you. We may not know each other, but I make this promise to you regardless. I won’t tell you not to blame yourself; this is easier said than done. I won’t tell you that your journey will conclude the way you want it to. I will tell you that you will get through this. I will tell you that you are strong, you are awesome, and you are worth it.

And you are not alone.

Lara 3

Out of the Fog

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I share the following with you because we all go through stuff, and sometimes we need to see that other people go through stuff too. I believe God has called me to encourage others in the art of finding Him as our source in the midst of all the stuff; no matter what that may be at any given time in our lives.

One element of my stuff is the fog I’ve been in the past couple of years.

I blamed it on sleep for the most part. Goodness, if you look back on any of my earliest posts, you are bound to see a theme of longing for some seriously good sleep. But sleep came back, and my struggles didn’t disappear.

This fact made my emotions go haywire. In my mind, sleep was going to fix it. If only I got those precious moments of rest, my exhaustion with my children would get better. I’d stop getting so angry at so many little things. I wouldn’t be so frustrated with my husband for not reading my mind. I’d get my joy back.

Joy. I missed that. Sleeping more didn’t bring it back. In the past, I had been almost obnoxiously joyful, and now I felt I was just obnoxious in the lack thereof. I wasn’t exactly very fun to be around. You might not have seen it on a Sunday morning or in a small gathering of friends, but one-on-one, I complained. A lot. About anything. Because everything felt so… off.

My heart was reeling in desperation to find clarity and life once again. Something was wrong with me and I couldn’t figure out what it was. So in my search for answers, in my search for joy, I decided to begin seeing a counselor at Restoration Place.

Yes, you read that right, I’m a pastor’s wife and I go to counseling.

In my very first appointment, I filled out paperwork, took a few surveys, and tried to explain to my counselor why I was there. She gave me some homework and asked me to write out what I was hoping to find; my “miracle” so to speak. While I listed several things, at the forefront was the concept of joy. I wrote, “I long to wake up one morning, and find that my joy has come back. Where did it go? How did it get lost? It must still be there somewhere. I want to find it, grab it, and never let go of it.”

At the beginning of this journey of counseling, I cried an awful lot. I’d talk about a mistake I’d made with my children or how my marriage wasn’t perfect and I couldn’t hold back the tears. I felt like I was clouded in darkness and couldn’t see the light no matter how hard I tried.

I believe I needed to cry those tears. One thing I’ve learned through this time, is how important it is for me to process my thoughts through the art of writing and simply talking. I have often leaned on my husband for those sorts of conversations, but men are not geared like women and sometimes I need to process in a typical female sort of way. In counseling, I’m able to sort through my heart, and now my husband can reap the benefits.

I’ve also learned that I was experiencing a taste of postpartum depression. This knowledge has explained so much of where I have been, and has also given me hope for the future. I know what I’m dealing with, so I can attack it accordingly. I also know that this season will not last forever. The fog is lifting.

Life isn’t all magically better. Unfortunately, in the midst of my cloud I formed some poor emotional habits and I need to work through those sorts of things. But, it is getting better. It is easier for me to see that all is not lost. That I’m not a terrible wife and mother, and that good things are yet to come. If I feel myself sinking, I feel more powerful in my ability to find firm ground. Emotional healing is taking place.

I am forever thankful that God, in anticipation that our hearts and minds would need sorting through at times, provided a gift to certain individuals to become counselors. I am also thankful that through it all He has continued to probe and work on my heart. Never once did He abandon me or forget me. No, instead, He is continuously teaching me and growing me in this mess so that I can step into my ultimate purpose.

“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – my Savior and my God!” Psalm 42:5

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