[#1] Share a bit of your story with us.
Firstly, it was a surprising honor to be chosen to contribute to this series. All throughout life I've questioned my worthiness and this is no exception. I'm not an entrepeneur. I don't think of myself as incredibly creative. I didn't even finish college. I am absolutely an "everyday" mom if there ever was one. But my story is one of hope and I'm grateful for the chance to share it in hopes of God using it for His glory.
I was a pastor's kid and one of four children. We moved around a lot, and I'd lived in four states and one province by tenth grade. My parents always said, out of all four of us kids, I adjusted the most quickly to each move. And I believed them. But there was a lot of pain built up inside. I was an introvert who put up a happy front and didn't share much of anything with my parents. And they didn't think to ask otherwise. I was often incredibly lonely and desperate to be someone's best friend. But when I didn't find that, I chose the next best thing and started getting high off of the attention from boys. Oh, but I didn't do REAL drugs or even drink, so my addiction was so easily hidden. Little did I know the havoc my drug use was wreaking on my heart and on my future husband's heart. Fast forward a few years. I married my very first long-term boyfriend at just 19. We were relatively happy for several years and had a few beautiful babies along the way. But skeletons tend to find their way out of closets when they're not properly disposed of. I thought things like financial problems and parenting issues were the things God was using to refine me. But they were merely the dress rehearsal. I had a heart that was not fully surrendered to Christ and He knew it was going to take a lot more than some declined credit cards for me to get the full picture of His grace. A few years ago the rug was pulled out from under our pretty little marriage when my past caught up to me. We've walked a long and difficult road since then. We're both committed to seeing this marriage through to the end but only the Lord knows how we're going to get there. The last year has involved separate addresses and packing bags for my boys to stay overnight; things I would have vehemently denied would EVER have been a part of my story. But here we are. And things have never looked more beautiful to me. You know that grace I mentioned? I get it now. I stood under the torrential downpour of that grace a couple of years ago and it knocked me down in the best possible way. I finally realized I needed rescuing and my Savior was right there, waiting to pick me back up off of my face. Not because I deserved it. Quite the contrary. I didn't deserve an ounce of it. It was only because he loved me. So now I wait for my redemption song. I cling on to Him with a childlike faith that he will redeem this marriage, that from an outsider's perspective looks utterly hopeless. But my faith is not based on the facts of my circumstances. (I think Christine Cain said that line and I repeat it constantly.) I think its easy to talk about God's faithfulness when our trials have come to an end and are wrapped up with a pretty bow and tucked away. But I'm here to tell you that God is faithful right in the middle of the storm, no matter how long the storm lasts. And those storms seem to bring a spiritual clarity and focus that no amount of smooth sailing can bring. His grace freed me. His love sustains me. And His hope propels me.
[#2] What dreams and/or goals do you have stirring this year?
I've never been a big goal setter kind of person. My mind focuses on details, rather than the big picture. Most days my biggest dreams and goals usually involve early bedtimes, chips and guacamole and a Parenthood marathon. But when I do focus on those words, the thing that stirs up in my heart the most is sharing my story with highschool or junior high girls, because ultimately, that's where my story started and when my heart was yearning for truth but believing lies. I don't have a public speaking bone in my body, (my heart beats fast when we have to go around a room and share something in front of a group) so I know that dream was planted by the Lord. A couple of other personal goals would be to continue developing my photography skills (I just take pictures for friends right now) and when the time is right, I'd also love to become a post-partum doula to help new moms with nursing and infant care during those first difficult eight weeks. That was an extremely dark and difficult season for me with my firstborn and I'd love to encourage moms in the thick of it. I like to take care of people and this is already something I felt called to before I even knew the job existed.
[#3] What do you pray over your children?
I'm going to admit something here. I'm certainly not trying to uphold any semblance of a reputation at this point so we'll just put it all out there. I struggle with consistent prayer. It's definitely an area of my spiritual life with a lot of room for improvement and one I'm slowly learning to develop. Thankfully God is so gracious with me and my baby steps and I trust this is an area I will continue to see huge growth in over the years. I think I pray with them more than I pray for them. But my heart yearns for them to come to a full knowledge and understanding of God's grace and for them to truly abide with Him. I hope it doesn't take a mountain of pain and heartache for them to get to that point but if it does, I pray I can release my grip on their safety and happiness and trust that God will redeem whatever it is and write His beautiful love story on their hearts. I also pray that they will work hard and be kind to people. Sounds simple but I hope those two little rules help guide many of their choices in life.
[#4] This stirring & joining together of women speaking life into our culture is growing & shaping into something powerful. What is your vision for what the future holds as we press forward?
Again, God hasn't gifted me as much of a visionary. I'm no Jen Hatmaker or Jenny Lyons, that's for darn sure. But what I see happening in this world through online relationships is the ability to have a better understanding of people. In my own little town and my own little circle of friends, I only know and come into contact with so many people and an even smaller number of those people actually open up and share an honest account of what's going on in their lives. But because of the online community of women sharing their own experiences, we have an unlimited number of things we're being exposed to on a daily basis. I understand more fully things like, infertility, raising an autistic child or down syndrome child, miscarriages, loss of a child, moving across the country without family, taking in foster kids or adopting, marital problems, the list goes on and on and on. And I think by asking questions and reading someone's personal thoughts and feelings, our eyes are opened to where we were being judgmental or not extending enough grace. I want to assume every single mama out there is doing the best job she knows how to do and to stop assuming that her kids/marriage/house/life would be better if she just did A, B or C differently. This has already started affecting the way I interact with strangers in my own town and I hope to see this love and grace and encouragement touch the hearts of those women who have only felt shamed or judged or misunderstood. And ultimately, I hope the love and grace we extend will only point them towards the one who authored love and grace in the first place.
[#5] Name three Instagram moms that inspire you & why.
@naomigal for her intentional parenting. She loves those closest to her so well. And her artistic talents, that she doesn't show off nearly enough, blow me away.
@environmentsofgrace because I've never met a woman in my life who has such spiritual depth and wisdom at such a young age.
@ainsl3y I think God gave her a heart three times the size of a normal person's. She's also the one I learned about post-partum doulas from and has been such a blessing in my life this year.
Gosh, girls. That was hard. I hate leaving people out. I think this list needs to be top ten.
[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
I think I have to share this photo. I give myself grace on screen time these days. As much as I'd like to throw all the screens far far away sometimes, it sure does give this mama some peace. My husband travels a couple days a week so I do a lot of single parenting and we currently live in a townhouse next to a pond. Trying to raise three boys without a fenced in yard is nearly suicidal. They can't go outside alone. So the tv is necessary for this season. And it ALWAYS produces the best cuddle sessions.