I am a Mom

I am a mom. I am a 35 year old mom who has two beautiful children. My daughter, who just turned 10, and my son, who will be seven in a week, are my pride and joy. I am not a mom who has experienced a perfect birth. Maybe because my children are stubborn! I am a mom who had to have an emergency C-Section after my beautiful, yet stubborn, son decided he wasn't coming out and got his arm stuck.

I am a mom who has to answer “4 pregnancies and 3 births,” when asked the frequent question at the doctor’s, “How many pregnancies and how many of those were births?” I am a mom who felt so foolish after sharing with the world the joy of the new life growing inside me at 5 weeks, only to discover 5 weeks later that that sweet life was no longer growing. I am a mom who lived in fear after getting pregnant three months later and struggled with making a connection with that baby (my son) for fear of losing him too. So I became a mom who held in my secret so I wouldn't look foolish again to the world. However, at 8 weeks I had complications and had to share my news after a trip to the hospital. I decided I couldn't be a mom who did this on my own. I am a mom who rejoiced when I found out I was growing a sweet little boy around the time of my due date for the child I lost. And again when that boy came into the world almost a year after our second baby was gone.

I am a working mom who balances a job I love, teaching and molding young minds, and being a mom to my vivacious children. I am a mom who has often felt guilty for not being able to stay at home with my children. But I am a mom who takes pride in being able to help provide for them.

I am a mom who wishes I was a better housewife. I am messy, unorganized, and many times unmotivated. But as a mom, I want to be my best so I can teach my children how to take care of their families someday. So I press on and keep pushing myself to become a better mom. For them. For my husband. For those around me.

I am a mom who loves God fiercely and believes that Jesus is the only way to true peace. Not just because that's my “religion” or how I grew up, but because it's my life. It's the air I breathe. It's the only way I know how to face tomorrow.

I am a mom who has been broken. Who has been through a season of storms and depression. Who prayed and pleaded with God to rescue me out of that state so I could be a mom to my children. Who forced myself out of bed so I could take care of my children when all I wanted to do was drown in my depression and brokenness.

I am a mom to two pastor’s kids. I live in a glass house with my best friend and partner in ministry and our two children. Many times I feel as though my parenting is on display for all to see and I can almost hear their whispers of disapproval. Yet, I choose to wake up in this glass house every morning and love people and love Jesus. Not because it's my “religion” but because it is my calling and I want my children to see the love of Jesus in all that I do and say. Love is the key to unlock the doors of hate and distrust.

I am a mom who, at the age of 35, is growing a new life again. After 7 years of being mom to two, in 5 months, I will be mom to three. I am a mom who, even though it has been 8 years since I lost my second child, is scared to allow myself to connect to this child. I am a mom who decided 5 weeks in to once again share my joy with the world because my choices were either live in fear and never connect with this sweet child of mine, or allow others to share in my joy and celebrate this new life no matter how long or short it would be. When I was having complications early on in my third pregnancy with my sweet little boy, I remember praying and telling God, if this is part of my story, then help me rejoice in it. So I had to choose to live by those words this time. After 18 weeks, I am still terrified but I am overjoyed by this new life growing inside me, making me feel miserable at times, and feeling those little kicks as reminders that he/she is still there.

For better or worse, I am a mom. Through good times and bad, I am a mom. On the mountains and in the valleys, I am a mom. Everyday I persevere and look to the One from where my help comes. And everyday I look into the eyes of my blessings and count myself lucky that I get to be their mom.

From These Ashes

Beauty. In the midst of suffering, brokenness, devastation.

Is it possible?

Dictionary.com defines beauty as “the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).” 

Our world sees beauty as flawless, perfection, an outward appearance. What if there’s more to beauty than what the eye can see? 

We seem to know the things that are not beautiful very well. Brokenness. Destruction. Devastation. Division. Lies. Accusations. Bitterness. Anger. Hurt. Some of us have experienced one of these things. Maybe more. Some of us go through seasons with these things. Some of us live there or at least camp out there for a while. 

What if there was beauty in the midst of it all? What if there was purpose to our suffering. 

That’s our story.

My husband and I have served in the ministry since before we were married. I felt called to be a minister’s wife and he was called to be a pastor. We got married and started serving together and once our kids came along we continued to serve, but as a family. We recently went through a season in His church that was present with lies, accusations, and division. We were fulfilling our calling and in the midst of it were being torn down. I think for so long we had tried to hold the walls together with whatever we could. We tried to pick up the pieces and glue them together. When that didn’t work, we stood, holding brick by brick up so the walls wouldn’t come tumbling down. As we stood, we watched as what we had built became rubble. We sat in the midst of the rubble, clinging to what remained, clinging to the hope that the walls could be rebuilt, but mourning the loss of what once was. We sat wondering what happens now?

As we wept over the past, we sat holding each other, waiting to see what God had next for us and dealing with the feelings of bitterness and hurt that had enveloped us. What once held beauty had been turned to ashes. What once had brought deep satisfaction now brought hurt, fear and brokenness. 

We spent months living in our hurt, our brokenness, and fighting our bitterness. All the while He was leading us, giving us hope little by little. Assuring us He was rescuing us out of our desperation.  

The words of Isaiah 61 were never as evident in our lives as they were in the midst of our brokenness and suffering. 

He had called us “to bring good news to the poor; to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives (vs.1); to comfort all who mourn (vs.2)” and now we were the ones needing comfort, needing to be reminded of our freedom as the devil, our enemy, had tried to whisper lies in our hearts. 

In the midst of this season, we began to see how our story was affecting others, pointing people to the gospel, changing lives; we began to see the beauty from our ashes, from the rubble. He was giving us a “beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit (vs.3).” We had sat in the rubble, looked up and cried for Him to rescue us, and He did. Oh how He did. He set our feet on a new path and only asked that we follow.

From the ashes, the rubble, there was a white flag. A white flag where we stood on the rubble and said, “We surrender to your will. Your path. Your new beginnings.” In our new beginnings, we are looking back at what was, looking back at the ashes, the rubble, and now we see the beauty in the midst of it all. The brokenness that made us cling to Him. The desperation that made us depend on Him. The new life that grew because of Him. He is planting us, “that we may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified (vs.3).”

See, when we surrender to His will and refuse to camp out in our devastation, we will “build up the ancient ruins; raise up the former devastations; repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations (vs.4).” 

Many will choose to remain in the midst of their devastation, the ashes. As for me, I will choose to pick up the rubble and build an alter. This is where He clothed us with a beautiful headdress. This is where He picked up the pieces and started again. This is where we began again. This is where He showed us beauty from the ashes.

Please check out this video by Nicole Nordeman called “The Unmaking.” This song is my anthem right now. It was the inspiration for this blog:

The Unmaking- Nicole Nordeman

A Room Full of Mothers, a Meeting, a Ministry

A group of women sat in a living room together. They each had a different story, a different journey. Some had been on the journey of motherhood for a long time, some a short time, and some would begin this journey soon. Some were grandmothers and some were still children themselves. Every one of those women had one thing in common, though; they were all mothers. This was what would be the first of many meetings between these moms. 

A few years prior, God had given one of the women a vision. What if there was a ministry for young teenage moms? That was one ministry that didn’t seem to exist. There were ministries for recovering drug addicts, alcoholics, singles, senior adults, children, women, men, married couples, but where were the ministries for the young teen moms and dads? 

What if the community came together and took young moms and dads under their wings? Taught them how to provide and love their children with a godly kind of love that the world could not offer them? Lives would be forever changed. So a vision formed in her heart that she questioned, but clung to, nonetheless, for many years. 

How would this ministry ever form? 

Who would be apart of this ministry? 

How would she find these young moms and dads in the small, rural community in which she lived? 

This vision stayed with her for many years. She knew that it would have to be something that God would birth and grow. If He began it, He would bring the workers and the harvest. She just had to trust and believe. 

During this time, she met every week with some sweet women to study and grow in the Word. The more they studied the Word, the more their hearts were burdened over their community and the lost and dying world. They would spend hours pouring into the Word and praying for others; their hearts longed to pour themselves as a drink offering into the community. So they began praying a simple prayer, asking God to show them where they were needed and how they could be His hands and feet. 

He was gathering his workers. The women discovered this vision to save a lost generation. Many of them had been young moms themselves and knew the hardships that came along with that. But where was the harvest? 
That’s when God revealed His purpose. One by one he began introducing these women to teen moms in their community. It became very evident that God was placing the harvest in their hands. He was weaving these women’s lives with the lives of a few young moms in the community.

And so a ministry was born. The women started investing in the lives of these young moms. They never needed to pursue one; God always brought them in their path. He was the orchestrator and the heart of the ministry. The women saw a purpose in the burdens they had born for so long. 

This was not an easy or a pretty ministry and the women knew that. Many people around them began raising questions:

“Aren’t you endorsing sex before marriage?” 

“Are you really equipped to help these young moms and dads?” After all, they had made their own beds; they needed to sleep in them. 

The church had turned a blind eye to pregnant teens for so long. The enemy had breathed lies to God’s people, and so they focused on the sin instead of the sinner and His mercy. Meanwhile, the enemy used the world to entice teens to abort their babies by telling them lies:

“You’re too young to be a parent.”

“You’ve got your whole life ahead of you.”

“A baby would only hinder your dreams.” 
So the purpose of this women’s ministry was very clear: share the love of Christ and save lives. 

The bond that formed between these women and the young moms was unbreakable. Even after coming under fire, the women continued to minister. They continued to carry out the vision God had placed in their hearts. Lives were forever changed. The ministry was for the young teen moms, but He was changing the lives of the women too. He was showing them the need for the gospel and that He has a purpose for each life.

A group of women sat in a living room together. They had been meeting for some time now. They shared testimonies, they helped each other, they leaned on another for support, they didn’t see the sin that had been apart of the journey, but the grace and mercy that God had bestowed upon each of their lives. They saw each other as equals, as mothers. Each woman knew the hardship that often came with motherhood, and as an individual, as one, this could be overwhelming, but as many joined together, as one accord, they could face the hardships together. Nothing was impossible with God.

What if we as women, as moms, as friends, as Christians, as churches loved others in the way that these women loved the young moms? The way that Christ loves sinners, the way He loves His church? This is what “doing life” together is all about. This is God’s command to believers. We were all like these young moms at one time: alone, fearful, ashamed. But then He rescued us as we drew near to the throne of grace and poured out His mercy and grace over our lives in our times of need (Hebrews 4:16). 

So because we have been given this mercy, it is our job to show others mercy no matter what their situation in life. It is our job to come alongside them, teach them what we have learned and show them the love of Christ. Who knows. It might just save a life.

One Word

One word.

That’s all it takes.

One word to hurt or to heal. To destroy or to build up. To isolate or to comfort. To change lives forever. 

One word is it.

What power we’ve been given with just a simple word. One word. One word can change everything. In your life. In the lives of others. Just. One. Word.

Life.

With that word there is hope. We are alive. There is blood running through our veins, breath in our lungs. A new life brings new beginnings. The start of life. Wrapped in a tiny bundle of joy. 

Death.

With that word comes sorrow. An ending. Life is gone. Blood and breath are gone. Death is final. For the saved, death brings hope and comfort. Knowing your loved one is in the arms of our Savior. For those who don’t know Him, death brings damnation. Eternal separation.

Hate.

This word destroys. This word is a cancer to the soul. It can begin with a thought, which turns into a mindset, which invades every part of our being. Hate destroys relationships. Hearts. Lives.

Love.

WIth that word comes happiness. Love ties everything together. Love gives hope that tomorrow will be okay. Love heals all wounds. God’s love brings about an ending joy. His love shows grace and mercy to the undeserving sinner.

Salvation.

Life, death, hate, and love all wrapped up in one word. Life. New life beginning with Jesus Christ. His love and hope running through our veins. His breath in our lungs. Death. Death of our former life, our former selves. Death of the ugly sin that once held us hostage. An ending. A final death of our own desires. Hate. A hatred for my sin nature that still tries to take control somedays. A hatred for the thoughts I sometimes still entertain. A hatred for the sin and the enemy that still controls those I love. A hatred for the words, the actions, the sin that has destroyed relationships, hearts, and lives. Love. A newfound love for those who don’t know Him. A love for new life. A love that gives new mercies everyday. A love that heals all wounds, that mends what’s been broken. A love for the grace and mercy he has shown me, an undeserving sinner. A love for this One that calls me His. A love for Him who picked up my broken pieces and put them back together. 

With one word we can put to death the things of the flesh and show others this new life.

With one word we can love with the kind of love that erases all hate.

Jesus.

The only one word that truly matters.

The only word that can heal and rescue lives for all eternity.

5 Truths You Should Know About a Miscarriage

March 22nd. The day my second child was due. The day we prepared for since we were given a due date at 7 weeks. The day that would actually bring about sorrow instead of joy.

When I was pregnant with my first child, we decided to share our little secret at 5 weeks. We knew many people who kept the news of their pregnancy a secret until they escaped the “miscarriage time frame,” but we just really felt like if we celebrated, we wanted our loved ones to share in our celebration, and if we grieved, we wanted them to share in our grief as well.

It was no different when we found out we were pregnant the second time. But something felt off with this pregnancy. This time our celebration was met with questioning as to why we told so early. I remember almost feeling silly for telling so early, but we kept our original beliefs. The pregnancy felt completely different than the previous one- something wasn’t right. As we pulled into the doctors’ office at 10 weeks, I had this aweful feeling that we would not receive good news. As soon as we saw our little baby for the first time, I knew something was wrong. It did not look like what an ultrasound should look like at ten weeks.  After trying to find the heartbeat, the doctor gave us the devastating news. Our baby had stopped growing at 7 weeks. This would begin a long journey including another ultrasound to confirm the loss, a D&C surgery, more appointments to check my hormone levels every week, and telling our loved ones that what we thought we were growing, actually wasn’t growing anymore. We were heartbroken.  We went from dreaming and making plans, to awaiting another ultrasound that would confirm what we had already known. I remember sitting in that waiting room after being told that our baby wasn’t growing anymore and watching others in the room anticipating their ultrasound to confirm the sex of their baby. It was so unfair. Where was our joy?

We were very open about our loss. We were not afraid to grieve in front of the same ones that had questioned why we had told so early. And they grieved with us. Everyone did. But eventually they moved on and we were left with our grief. As the weeks went on, I still longed to dream and make plans like the many others around me who were journeying through their pregnancy, and I longed for the child that would never be.

My miscarriage immediately put me in a new group of people: people who have lost a child. A group I never wanted to be apart of, but as soon as I became part of this group, I learned some important truths that help me identify with those who have had any kind of loss.

1. A miscarriage is a loss. 

According to prolifeaction.org, DNA is determined from the moment of conception and a baby’s heart begins pumping blood at 21 days. At the time my baby stopped growing, he/she had fingers, a tailbone, elbow joints, and even eyelids. It was a life that one day was growing inside of me and then the next day was not. Calling it a fetus or saying that it was not a life does not take away the reality that it was growing inside of me and was my child. A miscarriage is a loss. The loss of a living being.

When I lost my baby, it almost felt foolish to still be grieving over something that the world does not consider a baby. I was only 10 weeks along. Shouldn’t I just move on with my life? I began to realize that the world was wrong. I was growing a baby. I lost a baby. A living being. So I decided not to be silent anymore and I began to share my story. I wrote an article that was published in the local newspaper telling my story and the work God had done in my life at the time and immediately received phone calls, emails, and letters from other women sharing their story with me- many of them had never shared their story with anyone, not even their own families. This boggled my mind. Why would women keep their sorrow and grief silent? That’s when I began to realize that the world, its view on pregnancy, babies, and miscarriages is what has prevented women from sharing their story. Many people do not know how to identify with someone who has lost a baby because of this reason.

2. Plans and dreams have been lost.

From the moment a woman finds out she is pregnant, she begins making plans. She not only thinks of all of the physical changes that will be taking place, but what the baby will need, how her family willl expand, what needs to be done to accommodate the growing family, if she will work or stay at home, and many other plans. There is also a connection that begins from the moment she knows she has a little one inside of her. When she loses that baby, she also loses the plans and dreams that had begun developing. That connection is still very much there, but it has changed. She now longs for what is gone. I felt as though the plans and dreams my husband and I had begun making were gone. In the blink of an eye, gone.

3. Grieving takes time.

I have come to understand that with grief, the rest of the world will move on before you’re ready. When everyone else moves on, a woman is left with her grief. I dealt with the empty feeling that plagued my happiness for weeks. Every time someone else announced their pregnancy, it was another reminder that I was not pregnant anymore. Every time someone asked what our family plan was, I was reminded that our plans for our family were temporarily gone. Even now, whenever I go to the doctor they ask the question, “how many pregnancies have you had and how many children do you have,” and I have to answer, “3 pregnancies and 2 children.” Every time it’s a painful reminder of my loss.

4. Miscarriages affect more than just the woman.

Grieving brings people together. My husband grieved along with me. I didn’t realize the connection he had made to our baby and the plans he had begun making until our loss. He cried, we held each other, we prayed and asked God why?  Our parents, who had known since the beginning, grieved with us. They had already opened their hearts to the possibility of another grandchild. Our church grieved with us. We were public about our loss and the Sunday after we found out, we went to the alter and just poured our hearts out. Our church family surrounded us and grieved with us. Other families that had been through the loss of a child grieved with us. We experienced the love of God firsthand through His people as they hugged us, grieved with us, and poured out their love and care on us.

5. A baby lost cannot just be replaced by another baby.

I remember being asked after our loss when we were planning on trying again. It was as if the void that came with a miscarriage could be fulfilled with another child. I too was guillty of those thoughts. Then, I became pregnant three months after my miscarriage. I was terrified. I tried to keep from connecting with this one, just in case I lost it. I went weeks before I allowed myself develop a deep connection with my growing child. I allowed fear to dictate my connections. I soon realized that once I allowed myself to connect, I developed a new and different bond with this baby. There was still this void that would never be filled by anyone else, but my new baby had come into my heart and taken up residency there.  However, many women never try again because the effects of their loss are so great.

Knowing these truths not only help women get through the depths of their loss, but will help others uderstand that loss. God’s desire for us in our loss is to cling to Him who heals all wounds and share our story with others that they may find healing as well. That is my prayer for you as you read this. May you find hope and healing in the midst of your tragedy and storm. May you grieve without worrying about what the world will think, and may you trust in the One who mends, restores, and creates.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans‬ ‭5‬:‭3-5‬ NLT)

I. Am. Overwhelmed.

I am a writer. I have always loved writing. Since I was a young child and wrote a 70 page story in 5th grade. I knew I wanted to write. Books, articles, short stories, songs, poems. It didn’t matter unless I was writing. Here I am. Haven’t written in a long time. Why? Not because I don’t want to anymore, or because I have nothing to say. I’m overwhelmed.

I am a teacher. I have always known I wanted to teach. Since I was 13 and helped out with VBS at my church. I love to teach. I feel at home in the classroom. My classroom. Everyday I get to invest in 100 kids. Everyday. I want to be a better teacher. I want to be THAT teacher. The one that changes lives. But I’m  overwhelmed.

I am a pastor’s wife. I have always wanted to serve. Since I was 19 and began leading youth girls to His throne to experience His hope and mercy. I love ministry. I love walking beside my husband and serving His people. I still love leading women to His throne to experience His hope and mercy. I want to love people. I want to lead people. I want to minister to people. I don’t want to let them down. But I can’t do it all. I’m so overwhelmed.

I am a daughter. I have an amazing family. Since I was a young child I knew I wanted to grow up and be like my daddy. An educator. My mom has always been my best friend, my biggest fan, my cheerleader. I want to make them proud. But I’m overwhelmed.

I am a mom. I have the most beautiful boy and girl. Since I first laid eyes on them, I fell in love. I want to invest in my children. I want to provide opportunities and experiences for my children. I want to spend time with them, play with them. I want to be an example for them. But sometimes I’m so overwhelmed.

I am a wife. I am married to a godly man who puts his family before himself. Who leads his family in truth. Since I met this man 13 years ago, I knew he was someone I needed in my life. I want to love him more. I want to show him how much I love and care for him. But there are days where I am just so overwhelmed.

I am a child of the King. I gave my heart and life to the One who saves many years ago. 26 years ago at my little blue table in my bedroom. Since that day I have tried to live a righteous life. I have tried to study my Word, pray to Him, live for Him. But I keep failing. I keep breaking my promises. I keep running. I’m so overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed. Overwhelmed. Overwhelmed. The word that plagues my mind everyday. The word that knocks on the door of my heart, longing to come in and take control. The word that leaves me feeling like a failure, empty, useless, broken and laid bare for all the world to see. The word that suffocates me so much some days that I just can’t breathe.

That’s when I lay my broken body at the foot of His throne once again. I come. With all of my messes, my failures, my disasters. I come. And all I do is look up. I look up at the One who originally found me, lying on the floor in the midst of ruins. The One who once picked me up, cleaned up my mess, wrapped His robe of righteousness around me, and called me His. His. His beautiful mess. His beautiful disaster. And whispered a promise to my soul. Not the kind of promise that I tell. The broken promises I’ve told. An eternal promise. I will restore you. I will clean you up. I will pick up the pieces and debris you’ve left behind. I will turn your ashes into beauty. I will be merciful to you and withhold the wrath that you deserve. I will lavish my grace upon your broken body until you no longer see a mess, a failure, a disaster. But you see me. My Son. My glory. Keep coming child. Forever come to the throne. To the One who makes you new. And when you fail again, and you will, I will pick you up and show you my beauty. That you may gaze upon what is good and perfect. And see me rather than your failures.

So I come once again to the throne that makes me whole. The One who will remind me once again when I cannot see past my failures who HE is. What HE’S done. And what HE will do again and again in my life.

I am His. I was purchased by His blood. When I wronged Him and sinned against Him, He purchased me anyway. Since the day I chose Him, he has been transforming me. Molding me. Making me into something beautiful and pleasing to Him. When I fail Him over and over again, He picks me up, calls me His, and continues to transform, mold, and make me. I am overwhelmed by His mercy. His grace. His love. His promise. I am His.