Encouragement

5 Things That Get Easier With Parenthood

By Becky Beresfod

A few weeks ago I was once again battling my tiny army in the great bedtime war, a daily occurrence in our home. Somehow amid the laughing and crying and question-asking, I heard my phone buzz on the counter.  Please let it be my husband saying he’s coming home early with a Starbuck’s latte in hand! The one-year-old was bawling, the toddler was fleeing the scene and let’s be honest friends, who the heck knows where my first-born was? Probably drawing on one of my walls or raiding the pantry or both. Kids are talented like that.  By the grace of Jesus, I miraculously reached my cell and checked the texts.

Not from the hubby. Actually, it wasn’t from anyone I was expecting. My brother-in-law sent the message and his words caught my eye.

You should write a blog post talking about the things that get easier once you become a parent.” 

And snap. I wish I could have taken a picture of my facial expression in that moment because WHAT?   

Was he for real? Things getting EASIER after welcoming little humans into your life? The same little humans who murdered my nice couch and punched holes through my drywall earlier that week? Those babies? He and my sister had just welcomed sweet girl #2 earlier that month.  I’m sure he was delirious and very sleep-deprived; a combination that makes you do ridiculous things. But out of curiosity, I kept reading.

Cause it seems like literally EVERYTHING gets harder after kids, but that can’t be true.” 

It can’t? I physically stepped back in an attempt to readjust my current negative thinking. Was there even one thing I could honestly say gets easier after having children? Help me out here, Jesus. And suddenly, in the middle of all the chaos, He gently took my hand, drew me out from the muddled fog, and placed me in the clear pasture of His grace. 

BE STILL AND KNOW, MY CHILD.

I knew His voice--calm and reassuring. I knew He had a ‘best’ He wanted to show me. And slowly I began to see my surroundings for what they really were.

My eyes saw the little boy running from me, but this time I caught a glimpse of his mischievous grin as he looked behind him, hoping his Mommy would come get him. He wanted me. He wanted my love and attention and cuddles. I saw the little baby reaching up for the one person he knew could make it all better. He needed me and only me. And I looked at the scattered drawings on the floor my eldest boy drew with the most intricate detail and care. He showed it to me a couple hours ago because he was proud. He wanted Mama’s approval. My opinion mattered...I mattered. 

God showed me His beauty in a matter of seconds and I was eager to see more.

I quickly replied.  “I’m gonna do it.  I need to do it.

So here I am, staying true to my word. But more importantly, I’m choosing to see joy in the midst of the mess.  There are only five points here, but I’m pretty sure I could have done more. Yeah, I’m surprised too.

1.)  It’s easier to lose your mind. 

For real. You go crazy when you raise mini-people. I have spent hours looking for keys that were in my pockets. I wake up in the middle of the night hearing screams from the monitor, but it’s dead silent. I can barely make sentences and refer to all items as “that thing over there.” I make no sense and it just comes with the exhausted territory. I don’t sleep. I don’t eat. And yet somehow I am expected to give of myself 24/7 without being able to take care of simple needs like peeing on my own or taking a shower once a week. If they know you are somewhere in the home, it’s over. Checkmate, my friend.  They will find you.

Let it be of consolation to you to know it’s normal to feel like you are going insane because you probably are. But good news! You are not alone. Every person who has a child, especially young ones, feels your pain. We are all in the same circus boat and even if it seems like it’s sinking, just know it’s going to be okay and we will survive. I mean, it’s highly probable.

2.)  It’s easier to let go of expectations because you will have lots of practice.

I always have these grandiose ideas and visions for creating family memories but I actually don’t think I can recall one ever going according to plan. Things pop up, kids freak out, schedules change…life happens. Flexibility is a given in the parent world, but often it’s hard to let that piece of reality sink in. And sometimes it’s even harder to let it become the norm. In an interesting turn of events; letting go can actually be a gift. I know...it’s shocking. But true. The pressure to try and make everything happen the way you want it to can be intense.  If we allow Jesus to step in and remove our self-imposed burdens, the world will look and feel a whole lot lighter.

I have a son with special needs and our plans change by the hour. I used to freak out about it, but now I’m learning to make flexibility my friend. It isn’t easy in and of itself, but when we practice living with open hands and open hearts we give God the opportunity to step in and change our circumstances in a way that goes far beyond anything we could have dreamed. He is the God of abundance and His ability to make beauty out of the ashes will never fail. Trust Him.

3.)  It’s easier to laugh at it all. 

Kids have this uncanny way of bringing joy into the mundane. They see life through their innocence and experience it with fresh, pure hearts. There’s a reason Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16). Kids understand what matters.  And they know that one of the most important things you can do in this life is just to laugh and have fun! 

I love my goofballs. Sometimes I’m in the worst mood and I look at my sweet child’s face. He smiles ear to ear and it completely captures my heart. I’m a sucker for baby hugs and cutie kisses. But man, you add in their belly laughs and I’m gone! Soon my grin is as big as his.

I catch myself laughing during the precious times and the ‘Sweet-Jesus-help-me’ times. When it’s psycho nuts in my home and I’m just standing there not knowing what to do or who to take care of first, I just start laughing! It’s like my brain doesn’t know how to respond so it says, “Okay, this is too much.  Let’s crack up.”  And that’s when I begin to cackle like a crazy person.  See point #1.

4.)  It’s easier to beat yourself up like never before. 

I’ve always had a problem with shame. It’s my thing. But when you are in charge of raising decent human beings, let alone keeping them alive, things get real. I am certainly the hardest on myself when it comes to taking care of my family.  They mean the world to me and somehow each day I think I’m majorly screwing things up. I promise to reimburse them for whatever therapy they may need later on in life. But here’s the thing…every single parent thinks they are missing the mark! I have never met a mom or dad who thinks they have it all together. Instead, they feel like they are not good enough or too much or someplace in between. And the guilt can be so defeating. Luckily, we don’t have to live there.

The goodness of our Jesus is unending. He isn’t about perfection, which is great since no one is perfect. He’s about our transformation and I can’t think of anything else in life that changes you more besides being a parent. Your kids see your rough days. They see you mess up over and over again, but when you come to them and say sorry I truly believe it gives them a sense of relief! Not just because you are pursuing reconciliation, but I really believe this helps them avoid the unrealistic standards of perfection they may place on themselves in order to gain your affection. They will know they are always loved no matter what they do, and that model of unconditional love will stay with them wherever this life leads them. 

We are all doing our best. God knows that and He covers us in His grace. Whenever we feel weak, we know He is strong and more than able to fill in the multiple gaps.

5.)  It’s easier to understand the heart of God. 

The instant you hold your child for the first time, your relationship with Jesus goes to a whole new level. It’s the most surreal, humbling, and scary feeling in the world. God has entrusted this precious life to you. This beautiful creature that you would literally die for…they are your heart walking outside of your body. The love you have for them is nothing less than extravagant. 

In that divine moment, God looks at us, His beloved children, and softly whispers, “I love you even more.” It’s almost unbelievable and yet, it’s the most important thing we need to believe. This is the Love that surpassing all understanding. This is the Love that endures forever. Our Heavenly Father’s love stretches past any human’s capability to love on his or her own, and that includes parents. As much as you love your child, it’s just a glimpse of how much God adores you. You are loved perfectly and wonderfully just because you are you. 

And as if that weren’t enough, when we experience God’s love more fully, He gives us the blessing of passing on His love to our kids. There’s really no greater honor.

We can all agree that parenting is a complicated ordeal.  You don’t get a handbook with all the answers, but hopefully, we can encourage each other along the way. Just like being in love or picking out paint colors, it’s comforting to know that the simple and the hard can coexist.    

So take heart, fellow parenting-warrior.  With all the other complexities you may be facing today, let me reassure you just as my Jesus reassured me.

You are doing well, my friend. Very well, indeed.


One Day

Guest Post by Char Reid

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The ‘one day’ I knew would come has come. You know, that day everyone warned you about—the day the children would be grown. The day they really have moved on with their own lives. That day!!!  

Pouring all you are and have into seven (yes, I said seven) wonderful children occupied my very being. Not to mention an awesome husband who was pastoring a couple hundred people.

I have to say, when you look back you don’t remember the hard days as much as you do the good days. Take heart! Although there were tears shed over laundry for nine! There were the never-ending questions that harassed my every day:      

  • What’s for supper?

  • Who has a ballgame today?

  • Did I finish all of our homeschool work today?

  • Has everyone heard they are loved today?

  • Has love flowed from my words and tones today?

  • Was Jesus pleased with me today?

 You know, those things that matter to us as moms that creep in and make us feel like failures if we didn’t do them. I can recall days when I was convinced I was the greatest mom God ever created. While also feeling there were those days I was the absolute worst mom ever.

My heart, as I sit here in silence missing all the noise of little voices, reaches out for young mothers. There is an aching that longs to wrap my arms around you and fill you with words of encouragement and love. To say I loved being a mama is the understatement of my life! Being a mama is still my most favorite calling on my life. I tend to mother everyone now. Thus, my nickname Mama Char!

Through the years, there have been many God moments that have arrested me and gone way down deep in my soul, to the bedrock of who I am. One of my husband’s favorite sayings to our discipleship classes is, “Let the moment be the teacher.”  These are the times we allow what is happening in each moment to be what offers us life’s most precious lessons. These moments are the ones we receive the light that God shines on each circumstance; which leads us into His likeness and nature. I call these ‘Aha’ moments—the, ‘I get it now!’ moments. I want to share with you one of my personal ‘Aha’ moments that has helped me so much. I wish I would have known it as a young mom and I pray as I share it, it will help you as much as it helped me.

While going through a very heart-breaking situation, I realized I had given my heart to so many different people. I had given them control of my heart and my feelings. Hurt and disappointment came through family and friends, church congregations, and even my husband and precious children. I consider myself a people person and am outgoing, quick to give my heart to whoever I found myself with. I was completely capable of allowing my heart to be controlled by so many different situations and circumstances. One day, through my tears, I begged the Lord, “Please talk to me! I don’t know what to do with all of these feelings!”  In all of His kindness, He answered me that day.

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He said, “Daughter, when I said for you to love Me with all of your heart that is exactly what I meant for you to do. Your heart is Mine. I never meant for your heart to belong to anyone but Me. Not your husband. Not your children. No one but Me. Your heart is safe with Me. I will not crush you or hurt you as others can and will. You can trust Me with your heart. When your heart is fully Mine then you are free to love others fully.” 

 I can’t even put into writing what happened to me in that moment. I felt a freedom that I had never known. I realized that although I said I loved God with all my heart that I had really given my heart to everyone I had ever met! My heart wasn’t safe in His care when it was out there for my children and everyone else to abuse and hurt. I felt so vulnerable in that moment. I wanted to take all the pieces of me I had so carelessly given away and scoop them all back into me and make a fresh offering to the Lord. That was the day I realized my life as a wife, mother, and friend was really only about one thing: my relationship with God and Him alone. I learned, with my heart being secure in my love for God, I was free to be the wife and mother that my husband and children needed me to be. My position in Him was to receive His love and give it away.

It became so clear that my identity must be in belonging to Him and living and loving from that amazing place. If I love Him, with all of my heart, and I learn His nature and who He is then I become like Him and my husband gets the wife he needs. If I allow what is in Him, that makes Him so nurturing and kind, in me my children get to have the mama they need. If my heart is open to be changed with every fruit of His Spirit then my friends get the friend they need. And if I can just love Him and be His daughter, then I get the me, the real me, that I need to be for myself. The one whose heart is safe in my Fathers great love. Loving and living from this place has been the most freeing and fulfilling experience I have had as a wife, mother, and friend.

I pray you find this place of freedom, which will allow you to enjoy God’s love. A place of loving and living safe in His wonderful care. Blessings to you all! 

 

Jesus answered him, “Love the Lord your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, and with every thought that is within you.
— Matthew 22:37 (TPT)
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As a passionate lover of God, Char enjoys pouring out her life lessons learned from marriage, motherhood and ministry. Pastors wife and mother of seven (7), her nurturing nature is a true representation of the Kindness of the heart of God. Her greatest passion is spending time alone with God and Hearing His love. After journaling for years, she has recorded in this book her own encounters that have blessed her and many others.

Buy her book here.


Highly Favored

By Molly Kennedy

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When I think about a woman in the Bible who was deemed “highly favored,” my initial thoughts go to the woman from Proverbs 31--a woman who is worth more than diamonds, trusted by her husband, respected by her children. She’s a businesswoman, a seamstress, a cook. She has a good attitude and is kind and wise. She always looks like she is coming from a modeling appointment. Clearly, she has the hand of God on her life. I can almost hear her singing with the animals while she’s weaving her purple cloth. If only she would have written a book on personal growth.

And yet...the woman in the Bible who was considered highly favored was Mary, the mother of Jesus. What does a highly favored life look like in the Bible?

  • Pregnancy as a young teenager

  • By God

  • A fiance who was contemplating divorce

  • Raising a perfect son

  • Having your heart torn apart when your son is arrested, beaten, and crucified

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The highly favored life is not always an easy life. I think this is especially true for moms in 2019. When we get on social media and see other moms doing it better. When we are so tired with a brand new baby that the thought of having to go to the store makes us cry. When we run carpool in our pajamas and hope we don’t get pulled over. When our kids’ choices make us hit our knees and beg for deliverance.

And yet...God doesn’t make mistakes. He didn’t put you in this generation with these kids and cross his fingers. He knew you could do it. He knew you could do it on your best days when your kids look up at you with love in their eyes. He knew you could do it on your worst days when you yell and belittle.

Psalm 8:3-4 (MSG) says,

I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry. Moon and stars mounted in their settings. Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, Why do you bother with us? Why take a second look our way?

Why indeed? Because we are highly favored. You, my friend, are highly favored.

What is the best thing that is happening to you right now as a mom? Do you know why that’s happening? Because you are highly favored.

What is the hardest thing that you are going through right now as a mom? Do you know why that’s happening? Because you are highly favored.

The dictionary defines “favored” as preferred or recommended. According to biblestudytools.com, the original Greek word is charitoo, which means to honor with blessings or to compass with favor--how gorgeous is that?

You are highly favored by the most interesting, most powerful, most beautiful King in the world. Just sit in that for a minute. He is absolutely crazy in love with you. So straighten your crown, sister. And no matter what is happening with your kids today, smile and rest in the fact that you are chosen, adored, and absolutely enveloped in God’s favor.

And so are your kids.


Mama Bear in Warfare

 By Brittany Rust

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I’ve never been under spiritual warfare when it comes to health. Let alone, that on top of a mountain of battles. And boy, when the body is weak time and again, it seems the spirit can become weak as well if not diligent.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to share this weekend because I’ve felt so beat down. I wasn’t sure if I had anything to give. But then, why not speak from my battlefield. Spiritual warfare is so very real for all of us so let’s go there. And honestly, looking at the last several posts I can’t help but see God is wanting to speak intimately to some weary moms out there. 

I’m going through one of the hardest seasons I’ve ever been through. It started about fifteen months ago and about a month ago, I thought it would get easier. Instead, it got harder. WAY harder. The kind of hard that beats down with one thing after another. The kind that attacks all areas of your life and family. The kind that hits so hard you want to tap out. 

Right now, I’m sitting in bed, barely getting this out, alone. I’ve moved states but my husband is still back in Colorado for the time being. I’m without my partner and best friend, working full time and taking care of our little guy. All the things I assumed would come so easy because “God is in this” aren’t coming so easy and I’m doubting. We’ve been in urgent care two out of our three weekends here because with Roman it’s been one thing after another. Then I got sick this week. Like, so sick I haven’t been this sick maybe ever. And then tonight, as if our health wasn’t being attacked enough, Roman got pink eye...again. 

As a mom, I see my little man suffer and mama bear comes out. I want to fiercely protect him—to make him better. But I can’t. All I can do is help him along the best I can. 

Here’s how I’ve been feeling this week: I can take a long, spiritual battle. I’ve done it before. But my kid—not so easy. My perseverance is limited and my patience thin. Mama bear doesn’t like waiting for the storm to pass for her little guy who can’t kick sickness and misses his dad like crazy. I feel helpless. I feel guilty.

I’ve been pretty upset with Him this week. I’ve questioned and doubted. I told my friend this week, “I assumed it would be an easy transition because I thought God was in it. But it’s been so hard and now I’m questioning everything. Does this mean God isn’t in it?” 

She encouraged me so well (thank goodness for sisterhood, right?!). She said,

”Because it isn’t going easy does not mean God isn’t in it. It means things like that are just hard. Peace does not always come in the journey because journeys are a struggle with ups and downs. Peace will come later. Kinda when you go on a hike and it’s hard but when you are done it’s that moment you take a breath.”

She’s right—the right path isn’t always going to be easy; life is just hard sometimes. And then I was reminded, also this week, that God uses hard times to call out our perseverance. It’s something I’m struggling to have as a mom but that doesn’t mean I get a “get out of jail free” card because my kid is involved. Perseverance just needs to go to a whole other level! 

What I’m trying to say is this: Spiritual warfare will happen. And when it effects your kids, it will poke the mama bear within and perhaps cause you to fight or flight. But what if God just wants you to stick close and keep going? One foot in front of the other, wearily trudging ahead. 

Stand firm and keep fighting the battle, mama. Don’t lose hope. Keep the faith. Choose to endure. 

Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.
— Hebrews 6:18-19

How do you and I keep our head above water until relief comes? Flee towards Jesus. Have confidence in Him, not the surroundings. Trust the anchor to hold until the storm passes. We aren’t guaranteed an easy, breezy life. But we are promised a steady Savior in the midst of our chaos and uncertainty. Are you anchored by Him? Tethered to his unwavering love and care for you? He won’t leave you alone in the storm. His door of hope is just ahead. Don’t give up, friend. This too shall pass.


For the Days You Just Can't

By Becky Beresford

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Hey there, Momma.  

Could you do me a favor? From the depths of your sleep deprived soul, could you tell me how you are doing? No really. How are you? No sugar coating. No fake smiles or half-laughs. I really need to know because it’s been one of those weeks, and I feel myself starting to believe it. I’m starting to think Jesus should have given my littles to another put-together momma. Someone who resembles Mary Poppins and cooks like Rachel Ray. I look around at these flawless moms tackling life and think, “if they only knew.” If they only knew that my hot mess exterior mirrors the messier thoughts inside. And so, dear friend, please be honest. Because my mind knows I’m not alone, but today my heart needs to hear it. Today I need my sisters to tell me they get it. To stand in solidarity, with hands lifted high—coffee in one hand and the Word of truth in the next. I don’t want to pretend things are okay. I want to be real because this need for authentic community outweighs the risk of the unveiling. So, this is my invitation. This is my unmasking. I want you to see my genuine home, a place where the beauty and the broken are combined. A place I welcome you to now.

I’m a momma to three young boys, one of whom has Autism. He is a total joy and gift like the rest of our little men, but so many days I feel like I’m orchestrating a sea of chaos while drowning in self-doubt. I want to communicate with my sweet boy, but sometimes I don’t know how. I want to give him what he needs, but I’m not sure what. I often look at the circumstances in our family and wonder if it’s me. Am I the reason things aren’t more put together? Am I doing it all wrong? My husband was recently diagnosed with Autism as well, so now I am trying to navigate two different, but similar waters simultaneously. Most days I feel like I have no idea what I am doing. I try to accommodate the needs of everyone while maintaining my sanity, although this is not guaranteed. Throw in health issues, financial struggles and career moves, and it creates an immaculate storm of overwhelm. These are my ‘just-survive’ days. These are the days that I just can’t even.

When the meltdowns are fierce, and my children are falling apart, it takes everything in me to not plop on the floor next to them and cry collective tears. I feel the weight of the world. Every momma does. We feel the weight of raising children to be functioning adults who can thrive and succeed and love others like Jesus loves us. It is the heaviest and most heavenly honor anyone can have, and sometimes we feel like we’re messing it up completely. When the demands and deadlines and schedules pile up, we can look at ourselves and begin to believe we are not enough for our babies. We feel so less than. We’ve missed the Pinterest perfection mark by a mile and a half. We are undone and outdone. And that is when it happens. In that precious, imperfect moment, our gentle Savior kneels down and joins us on the floor. He meets us in the insecurity and pain. On our hardest days, He knows we can’t see ourselves for who we really are. But HE CAN. And He longs for God’s Daughters to get a sacred glimpse from the throne room above.

  • When we can’t see past our sins, He sees our sainthood.

  • When we can’t carry the load, He carries our hearts.

  • When we can’t heal the pain, He binds all wounds.

  • When we can’t stop the chaos, He gives us peace.

  • When we can’t hold it together, He holds our whole world.

  • When we can’t find the strength, He makes us resilient.

  • When we can’t do it alone, He reminds us He lives within.     

Ladies, we have a calling that is not for the faint of heart. Being a mom requires everything we have and more, and sometimes we feel like we just don’t have anything left to give. But our faithful Father does not leave us to weather the storm alone. He anchors our reality in who He is, not in our “cans” or “cannots”. Our worth has never been based on what we can accomplish, but instead, it is rooted in what He has already done. It’s hard for mommas because we’ve been trained to DO! But when we embrace God’s capacity to cover every detail of our lives in grace, it relieves us from our duty to perform. We don’t have to earn God’s goodness when it’s been given freely. The Bible says,

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9


If that’s the case, then our weaknesses actually lead us into the deepest kind of strength. Our barely-surviving days can do what they are meant to do: highlight God’s unmatched ability, not our inability. Here, the power of shame is taken away and is miraculously exchanged for the power of Jesus…a power that is about His provision, not our perfection.

Breathe it in, beautiful one. Take in His kindness and let go of the guilt.  Because perfect moms don’t exist, but perfect Love does. And out of all the women in the world He chose YOU to be your baby’s first love. Not Miss Poppins, not Rachel. You. Just as you are. Hand-picked from heaven to hold your child’s heart.

We are covered, Mommas. Our whole lives through. Especially on the days when we just can’t even.


Happily Ever After?

By Molly Kennedy

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In John 16:33, Jesus makes us a promise. He tells us that in this world we will have trouble. He promises that. I don’t know whether I should be comforted or annoyed by the fact that life is hard and he knows it. But I didn’t know how challenging it would be to become a mom.

I had always wanted to be a mom. I babysat when I was younger and then progressed to a camp counselor, pet owner, and teacher. My college roommates voted me the most likely to own a station wagon…the irony of that being that I was the last of all of us to get married and have kids!

I knew how it was supposed to be—babies brought indescribable joy.  When I finally got pregnant (after a year of frustration and thoughts of possible infertility), I was thrilled. I had seen friends and family members who loved being pregnant. I looked forward to sailing through my pregnancy and bringing home my beautiful baby. I knew how it was supposed to work.

Looking back, I know now that God will sometimes give mountaintop experiences but He’ll take you on a completely different trail than the one you had planned. And I am a planner. I like seeing the schedule in advance so I know what to expect and what items to take. I prefer a nice, easy ascension where I can stop and smell the columbines, have a sip of water, and enjoy the view. I don’t expect to be clawing my way to the top, hanging by a tiny rope, unprepared for anything.

My pregnancy wasn’t exactly textbook.  Morning sickness—ha!  I longed for morning sickness. I had twenty-four hours a day/seven days a week of nausea for three months. And, as it turned out, that was the easy part.  

In the third trimester, my body started breaking down. My body—my baby’s only home—started to betray me. The doctor told me that the baby was safer outside of my body than inside. My body had become a toxic wasteland, and the baby had to come out—it was seven weeks before my due date.

The doctors started inducing labor. Because of my condition (preeclampsia and HELLP), I was hooked up to extra drugs so that I wouldn’t have seizures (another side effect of this condition). 

I had been in labor for twenty-four hours and was a half hour away from delivering when the baby’s heart rate dropped.  All of a sudden, a whirlwind of doctors and nurses flew into my room and rushed me down the hall. I found out later that my mother and mother-in-law were frantically trying to get my husband into his scrubs (not an easy thing with his huge feet!) so that he could be with me.

Four minutes after we had entered the delivery room, our baby girl was delivered by emergency c-section. 16 inches, 3 pounds 14 ounces. She was whisked off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; I didn't even get to see or hold her that day because they couldn’t unhook me from all the drugs yet. Not exactly the easy, beautiful trail I had been expecting.  

Since I was unable to leave my hospital bed, and my baby was unable to leave the NICU, I had to use a pump in order to get a few drops of milk for my baby. Since she was so early, my milk hadn’t fully come in yet. My husband would whisk the precious liquid off to the NICU in order to feed her.

The following day, I held Grace Ellen for the first time, and she was beautiful and small and perfect. She stayed at the hospital for twelve days, a miracle in itself because the doctors expected her to be there for at least a month. St. Joseph’s Hospital in downtown Denver and suburban Littleton are not exactly next door but with the distance between Grace and me, it felt like a world apart.

John 16:33 starts with Jesus’s promise about having trouble in the world, but it ends with Jesus saying this: Take heart! I have overcome the world!

Kurt and I brought Grace home on a beautiful summer day. We had finally reached the mountaintop! Looking back, would I change anything? Would I change the journey that I had? The strange thing is I don’t think I would.  Even though God’s plans to get us to the top were not exactly the way I would have done it, He got us there. He was with us every agonizing step of the way. And I know I saw more of God’s glory through the trail He took us on than I would have if we would have had the ideal, easy baby story. 

Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Glory be to God on high….when things are easy but more importantly when things are not. 


Kudos, (Adoptive) Mom!

By Gabi Kelley

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Being a mom is tough.

Come on, let’s say it together in solidarity – being a mom is tough! There are all these dreams and visions of mommy bliss, but the crashing reality of teething and tantrums and too little sleep tends to blindside us and make us cry some of those big crocodile tears we had maybe thought were only for the weak (and clearly, that wasn’t going to be you…until it was).

So kudos to you, mom. Because you’re still in this, even with all the unexpected crazy days (like those days when you tried 4 times to at least not look crazy, but your toddler contravened your attempts to get 5 minutes alone to simply brush your hair).

Seriously, to all moms – kudos.

But there’s one particular set of moms I want to extra-kudo today (you know, sometimes there are people who need a bit of an extra tight hug, or just one extra high-five or “you’re doing great” to get them through the day). And those are the adoptive moms.

Hi, adoptive moms. I’m Gabi, and I have a 5-year-old son from Ethiopia and a 2-year-old biological daughter. Our son came first, nearly 4 years ago at the age of 16 months. As you know, people consider the “adoption journey” to be comprised of the moments between deciding to adopt and the adoption being finalized. But you and I both know that was the easy part, and the journey, in fact, is proving to be much more treacherous, vulnerable, and fraught with uncertainty on this side of the “finalization.” If no one has ever told you that this is normal, let me cyber-look you in the eyes and hold your hand and tell you emphatically, this is totally normal, and it’s ok to admit how challenging it has been.

Like me, you probably didn’t expect it to be quite this hard. Like me, you probably bought in (at least to a degree) to the idea that unconditional love, safety, and needs being met would be enough to make your adopted child feel and act the same as a biological child. But you and I both know this isn’t always the case. And you know what – that’s ok. It’s ok to admit it and it’s ok to face it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, it’s necessary for your mental and emotional well-being to both admit and face it.

The fact is, the mess of adoption is real, the grief your child has experienced is real, and even if he experienced his trauma very young, something in him is responding out of fear and self-protection. His response is so very often a shoving against the things you thought could fix anything – your affection, your direction, your very act of parenting. And that response can cause a heartache in you that goes deeper than your bones.

Adoptive mom, you know all this already. But maybe you needed to hear it from someone outside of your own house, if just so you can realize you are not crazy. And you need to hear this, too – you’re doing great, mama. I’m sorry it’s been so hard. I’m sorry the heartache has sometimes made you cry. I’m sorry it has caused you to look in your mirror at yourself and ask, “Why are you messing up so badly?” I’m sorry it has made you second-guess your ability to be a mom. So let me say it again – you’re doing great, mama. Nobody is perfect, but you’re absolutely doing your best. And your kid? The one you love with all your heart but sometimes feel will be the undoing of you? He’s going to be ok. And you’re going to be ok. And do you know what the very best news of all is?

You are not alone. I don’t just mean that in the mom-blog-solidarity sense, either. I mean it in the sense that the Creator of the Universe (who also happens to love you more intensely and intimately than anyone else) knows exactly what you’re going through. In fact, this is the JESUS life, and aren’t we lucky to live it? Adoption has been at the center of God’s heart from the beginning of time. Adoption is redemption, which has been God’s plan from the instigation of creation. Because of the fall, we are born of the flesh and do not share the DNA of God. But when we believe the message about Jesus Christ we are literally adopted by God, and become his legitimate children who share all the rights of heirs. Check this out:

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.
— Romans 8:15-16

This scripture is meaningful to anyone who is a believer, but as an adoptive mom, I cannot read it or meditate on it without tears filling my eyes. I’ve received God’s Spirit, I call Him Daddy, and He joins my spirit to affirm that I am His CHILD. I don’t know about you guys, but for me, this absolutely blows my mind. I know how much and how often I mess up. The trauma of my inborn original sin still haunts me all the time, even though I’ve been a Christian since I was a kid. I know God loves me, but I act out of self-protection and shame more than I’d like to admit. The older I get, the more I realize the ways I’ve pushed God away because of fear. I mean, could someone really love me as much as He says He does?

Guess what. The answer is YES. Yes, He does.

And oh, adoptive mamas, we get the incredible honor of displaying this truth in our very lives. We don’t know how long it might take our children to really believe to the depths of their souls that they are ours, they belong here, and they have full rights as our children. I’m certain that when I believe the lies that the enemy throws my way, when he succeeds at convincing me that I am not fully a child of God, or that I’m not loved as much as the Scriptures say, the heart of Christ aches. For millennia He has ached for us to understand this revelation, so when we give into the lies, when we don’t trust Him when He is completely trustworthy, He hurts – He hurts for us and He aches for us to know the truth.

We get to feel this hurt with Him as we raise up our beloved children, these ones who have been grafted in, but who we are committed to and love just as much as the ones that were born of our bodies. We hurt when their reflexive response is to push away, to not trust, to kick against the belonging that is rightfully theirs--fully theirs. We get to experience this hurt with Christ, sharing with Him in His suffering (see Phil. 3:19 and 1 Peter 4:12-13). This is our honor. To share in His sufferings is to become more like Him. To become more like Him is to become more perfected in love. To become more perfected in love is to know true humility. And all of this put together is to be given the privilege of laying our lives down for those who do not yet know or understand this love – and this starts first and foremost with our children.

I’m praying for you. Will you pray for me, too? We get such a chance to know Jesus and to sacrificially love our precious children who have known too much pain in their young lives. Sacrificial love hurts, and we need the grace and encouragement of Jesus and our sisters.

So let me say again: kudos, mama. You’re doing it. It’s messy and hard and beautiful and crazy. There are days when you want to cry your eyes out (go ahead do it) and days when the sunbeams come shining through and you want to dance for joy. Soak it all in. Lay it all down. Pray it all through. You were chosen for this. You were made for this. And your Daddy is very proud of you.


Ain't No Mama Like the One I Got

By Brittany Rust

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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?


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


The Day After Mother's Day

By Brittany Rust

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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 this world.