Moms are Royal, too!

Dear Mamas,

I don’t know about you, but ever since I became a mom I developed this slight feeling that I was perceived as, well, a little bit… ishy. I had this notion that, now that I was a sleep-deprived, time-deprived, nursing mother, I was just an exhausted lump of flesh that was not beautiful. I was not attractive. I was messy, and sloppy.

The truth is, part of this presumption is somewhat accurate. I mean, let’s face it: after childbirth and months upon months of nursing, my body just didn’t look the same as it did before I got pregnant. When I was caring for my newborn, it was a miracle if I managed to brush my teeth and change my underwear that day. Hair and makeup? Forget it. Putting in my contacts every morning? I got glasses. Outfits? I just grabbed the crumpled t-shirt laying on my bed. I had so much less time and energy to devote to myself, that every time I went out in public, I felt a little insecure. I felt like I wasn’t worth much.

Have you ever felt this way?

I just read a really beautiful, encouraging blog post the other day, and it happened to talk about being royal. (The royal wedding took place today, by the way). If you’re like me, if you’re a frazzled mom, you probably don’t feel anywhere close to being royal, and certainly not exquisite or beautiful.

So I’d like to share this very timely and encouraging blog post with you. It will remind you where our true value and true beauty comes from. It doesn’t come from our new haircut or outfit style, or even our ability to birth and raise children. No, our value and worth comes from something much, much better.

Click here to read the blogpost “Royal Wedding” by beautybeyondbones.

The author of the post, who once experienced deep unworthiness while in the throes of anorexia, is now a vibrant, confident, Christ-centered woman who is dedicated to reaching out to others. She exudes true beauty, both inside and out. Her posts are encouraging, enlightening, humorous, and relatable. Read on, and enjoy!

 

 

 

The Moving Game: A Testimony to the Grace of God, part 4

Here’s a quick recap from part three. (You can start at the beginning of the testimony here).

My husband and I were serving as missionaries and were blessed with safe housing, good income, new friends, and our first child. God was taking very good care of us. But, this new community was not somewhere we wanted to stay. It was a two-day drive away from our families and wasn’t the safest area to raise our family. But we couldn’t fathom how we could leave. God had called us to serve there. He led us there.

One morning, we received some unexpected news. Our landlord gave us a letter that requested us to leave the house we were renting. Now, this was not a mean or unfair request by any means. Our landlord had an aging parent and wanted the little house to be available for her. Our landlord asked us to try and be out in three months time. We completely understood and respected the request. It just came as a surprise.

But it also ignited a spark of hope. Could this letter possibly be God’s way of telling us that it was time to leave and move back to our home state?

My husband and I had two options: one – find different housing in the community and continuing serving as missionaries, or two – move back home. The problem with option one was that housing was difficult to come by, and we were getting increasingly anxious to relocate to a safer area for our family. The problem, or problems, with option two, were that we had no jobs and no housing to go to. We had no idea what we were supposed to do.

What happened next was a string of events that, we believe, was God’s clear direction showing us which option to chose. Here are some of those events.

  • When we spoke with our supervisor about the landlord’s letter and about our new predicament, our supervisor encouraged us to move back home. He helped us come up with a timeline and offered to continue our pay two months beyond when we would be moving. He was very much rooting for us!
  • The very night following the morning when we received the letter from our landlord, my sister-in-law had a dream that we moved back to our home state. She had no idea any of this was going on. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
  • When we spoke with my parents about our situation, they offered to let us move in with them until we could secure jobs and housing of our own. I did not ask or even imply that we needed help from them – they lovingly offered it to us.

I know there were more things that happened, but I cannot even remember all of them.

After much prayer, discussion, and thought, my husband and I decided that yes, now was the time to move. We needed to follow God’s direction and move home. We did feel convicted about leaving the mission, but we trusted that this decision was God’s plan for us and that he would continue to guide and lead us.

We prepared to move. Again. We were planning to pull a U-Haul trailer behind our truck and have a moving company deliver our other vehicle. But that vehicle carrier plan fell through, two days before we needed to head out.

Now what?

Again, God had everything under control. During a “just-to-catch-up” type of conversation with a buddy, my husband explained to his friend that we were about to move but that we were in a pickle with out other vehicle. The friend, without being prompted, offered to fly to our home and then drive our other vehicle for us.

Just like that. What a friend!

He arrived, helped us pack, and got ready to spend a night sleeping on the floor only to wake up and begin our two-day journey in the morning. Everything was ready to go. We were exhausted, but excited.

And to top it all off, two days before we made the big trip, we found out we were pregnant again. And that was the absolute final and necessary component that led my husband and I to decide that yes, we were supposed to move home. It was as if God was telling us, “just go already!”

So we did. We made the move and lived with my parents for three months while my husband tried a new job. It wasn’t a good fit. We traveled to visit his parents. We ended up staying with them for eight months! My husband found a job that he liked. We gave birth to our second child. We even found a house for sale very nearby and were able to buy it! All of these events were completely given to us by the grace of God; of that we are very certain.

We love to remember all of these events and share this testimony. It is a true reflection of the way that God leads his children and takes very good care of them.

And, the testimony will continue. Now, we are enjoying our new home and our two children. But my husband’s job will not be a lifelong career (it doesn’t pay well) and we are searching for what to do next. Will he find a different job? Will I return to work? Will we need to move again? Right now, there are new questions. But we trust, and know, that in his time, God will show us the plan. His plan.

The Moving Game: A Testimony to the Grace of God, part 3

My husband and I have moved seven times in four years. It’s been exciting, stressful, difficult, and exhausting. But God provided for us through the whole thing. I cannot help but share our testimony. (To start at the beginning of the story, read part 1 here).

God’s grace was so evident at this point in our lives. We were poor. We were seeking new employment. Our housing situation was uncertain. We weren’t sure what we were supposed to be doing with our lives.

In a miraculous instant, all of our questions seemed to be answered. My former supervisor from a previous job had just offered BOTH my husband and I jobs serving as missionaries. We would have income, steady work, housing, and purpose.

So, we packed up a U-Haul trailer and embarked on a the two-day drive to our new community. Our bank account was so meager that we had to borrow money from a family member just to rent the trailer and make the move. (I had been employed full-time but wasn’t earning much). We were extremely grateful for the help.

Once we arrived in our new place, our income situation changed immediately. We paid back the family member, started saving, and started being able to pay off some car loans and student loans. Praise be to God! He truly provided this for us.

We were also blessed with our first child during this time. And although I did struggle with some postpartum depression, we were so thankful for a healthy child and to become a little family.

The very first apartment we moved into was…. not nice. I mean, run down, dirty, gaps in the window seals type of an apartment. But it was pretty much the only place available in the town we moved to, where the local industry was growing like crazy and housing was so hard to come by. The rent was also ridiculously expensive.

Again, God provided. After just a few short months of living there, we met a local lady who owned a little “guest house” adjacent her own home. She offered to rent it to us at a much, much more affordable price. The home was clean and safe. We were so thankful! This little home was a much better place for our soon-to-be family of three.

We served as missionaries for two and a half years. We were extremely blessed to meet amazing people and be witnesses for the Lord. We paid off a lot of debt and saved. We started our family. There were countless blessings that God sent us during those two and a half years.

But we knew that this community was not somewhere that we wanted to stay. We felt it wasn’t the safest area for raising a family, and I was quite homesick (and dealing with the postpartum depression). I wanted so badly to return to my home state, but couldn’t see how that could possibly happen.

Guess what? It happened. And it all started with a letter from our landlady asking us to leave.

I’ll talk about that letter, and a series of other events, in part 4.

The Moving Game: A Testimony to the Grace of God, part 2

It’s been a while since I’ve continued my testimonial moving saga, but here comes part 2.

A quick recap: my husband and I were stuck in a funky situation. We were living on campus housing at the graduate school that he had just decided to stop attending. We were in an unfamiliar city, a day’s drive from our home state, with an extremely meager bank account. I was working a job that didn’t pay well. My husband, having just decided that more schooling wasn’t the right choice for him at that time, now was faced with the dilemma of trying to figure out what in the world he was supposed to be doing with his life. You can read the full post here.

And then we found out that we had two months to find somewhere else to live.

Two major, God-sent blessings happened next: one, we found a short-term housing option, and two, we were BOTH offered jobs.

Remember my old supervisor from my awesome first post-college job? I emailed him one day, just to catch up. I couldn’t help but spill our current scenario. A day later, he emailed me back with cheerful words, encouragement, and most amazing of all: a chance for employment. “Would you consider moving back to [that state]? I’ve got a mission opportunity for both you and your husband.”

I thought he was joking! I really did. Nope. He was serious. Had I not sent that “oh hey, how are you doing” email, we may have never reconnected and been presented with this opportunity. God at work, people. He provides!

Not only did He bless us with a job opportunity, He blessed us with housing. We found a little apartment with a short, three-month-long lease. And that’s all we needed. At the end of that three months, we’d be packing a U-Haul trailer and making a two day journey to a brand new town, new housing, new jobs, new mission, new people. This was a chance to serve the people of God as missionaries, and we were up for – and thankful for – the opportunity.

And although this God-given fresh start was exactly what we needed, it would still present us with new obstacles and challenges.

 

The Moving Game: A Testimony to the Grace of God, Part 1

The contents of this and the subsequent three parts have been swirling around in my mind for some time now. Basically, my family and I have moved a lot: seven residences in the past four years. And one of these moves was a big one. (I’m talking a cross-country, U-Haul trailer-in-tow type of move in which our destination provided no stable income and no housing of our own… and we had a baby on the way). It was almost unthinkable. Yet throughout these transitions, the grace and provision of God was so clear and so profound that I cannot help but share this story.

In order for me to fully explain the depth and overwhelming nature of God’s goodness to us, I’ll need to give some backstory. (Read: sit back and relax ‘cuz it’s going to take me a few paragraphs to set the scene).

I’ll have to take you back to my senior year of college. One month before graduating, I had a solid lead on an amazing job possibility. The only factor that made me even have an ounce of hesitation about accepting this position was that the job would take me far away from family and friends to a US state with which I was not very familiar. But I prayed and prayed about the prospect and felt that God was leading me to try out this new adventure. So, four months later I was scouting out apartment options and embracing my first “real” post-school job.

My experiences working for this start-up Christian ministry were many and varied, and I learned a lot. But that’s a post for another time. What you need to know is, I developed some amazing friendships and worked under a fantastic supervisor. Nine months after I started working, I was already saying good-bye and heading back to my home state. My husband and I had gotten engaged during that time. I left the job in June; we were getting married in December.

One year later, we were six months into our marriage. My husband had completed his first year of graduate school and I was working. We were living in a state that was a good day’s drive from our home state. The plan was for my husband to continue his schooling, and find a good job at the end of this arduous educational experience that would provide fulfillment for him and the means for us to have a family one day.

Well, plans changed. We decided that this higher education route wasn’t the right thing for us, and we needed a new plan. The problem was, we were “stuck” in a funky situation. I was the only one with a job, and it didn’t pay well. (I mean, we were living paycheck to paycheck and were digging into our wedding money to make sure we had food in the refrigerator). It didn’t help that we both had tuition debt and I was still paying on my first ever car loan. Since my husband wouldn’t be attending school any longer, we also had to leave the married housing on campus where we were currently living and find somewhere else to live… in this unfamiliar city where we had absolutely no ties.

So, we found ourselves embracing the dilemma of securing some housing, making enough money, and determining where and what in the world we were supposed to be doing with our lives.

What happened next was truly an extension of the grace of God, and a lesson I will never forget. Read about it here.

Beer or Prayer

When motherhood wears you beyond thin, it’s hard to know what to do or to whom to turn. Reaching for the chocolate, making an extra cup of coffee, watching a new show, sipping on wine, or browsing the latest Pinterest trends just don’t cut it, as much as we hope they do. If only those things could actually make us feel truly better.

There is a mom who found something that worked. Her name was Hannah. She wanted a baby; a precious child to care for and to raise up in the Lord. But year after year she could not conceive. She was depressed. Instead of searching for the next quick fix, she cried out to God.

This is how she responds when Eli the prophet sees her in the temple and confronts her about what she is doing.

Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” 1 Samuel 1:15-1

Hannah looked so distraught that Eli assumed she was drunk. Hannah was doing something much better than blurring her pain with drink, though. She was so broken down that the only thing she could do was to cry out to her Lord in prayer, to manifest her complete raw and depressed nature.

We can all learn from Hannah. We can be real with God; he already knows our deepest woes and struggles. He hears us, every time. He loves us, and he will answer, just like he did for Hannah. God helped Hannah conceive and blessed her with a baby boy.

Dear Mama,

I struggle just like you. Way too often I try and blur my pain or difficult situation with drinks or other distractions. But the only thing that has truly worked for me is prayer. When I am so distraught that I cannot seem to lift myself out of the dark, I ask the One who is much more powerful to give me a helping hand. Jesus brings light into my life. He can do that for you, too.

Sweet Words: Offering Encouragement Can be Simple and Effective

To anyone who is overwhelmed, sad, anxious, fearful, or depressed, helpful words can go a long way. If you know of a mom (or anyone) who could use some encouragement, do not hesitate to share a few kind thoughts. A simple text or email can go a long way. Saying things like “you sure are doing a good job” or “your child is so blessed to have you as a mommy” or “you’re a beautiful mom” will do WONDERS for her. Here is a Bible verse based on the importance of sharing words.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:2

King Solomon reminds us of the power of words through his wise proverb. Talking is easy, and sharing some kind words doesn’t take long at all. It brings sweet joy to the recipient.

We all need encouragement. Since none of us are perfect, it helps to have a good chunk of grace thrown our way as we do our best to work, live, and have relationships. Know that polite comments and kind compliments are very helpful. And remember that Jesus offers the best grace of all. It’s sweet!