the path we create

If you follow me on Insta (@amayes), you may have seen how I chatted early yesterday morning about a stony path in my stories. You may have seen how I shared in a post about hard things being not so enjoyable but beneficial.

Our perspectives of wanting to avoid “hard” can absolutely deter use from experiencing some really incredible growth, beauty, and tighter relationship with our God. And, I know. I’m sick of hard, y’all. Seriously. If you’ve read along with me and my growing crew since way back before Logan & Rhyann over 5 years ago, you know your girl has been through the wringer. And, I’m well over it. I absolutely am believing the Lord for three very specific, major things and I think that amazing. I’m committed 100% to what I’m trusting the Lord for.

BUT……
Just this morning,
the Lord really convicted my heart about believing so big about those things, that I haven’t truly accepted or settled in where I am, we are now. And, because of that I’m missing a lot. The idea of redemption and restoration has kept me from saying “What do you want me to do right now? In this space? Before I get to the day I see your glory and redemption is evident, and I can see restoration?”

Right now. In this apartment. Re-building a business. Single parenting.
Which then convicted me about the choices I’ve been making. I’ve been living a very temporal mindset. While, YES, redemption is coming…. TODAY, the Lord has something for me to do right where I am.

…on this stony path.
that I’m sick of.
(just being real)

Stony paths or bricked areas aren’t always as immediately beautiful or seen as comfortable desirable as lush, soft green grass. Concrete and rocks are hot in the summer, cold in the winter. Your feet don’t sink into it and Lord help if a baby falls or one of the kids trips & hits the stony, concrete, bricked area! We’re a little more afraid of falls and what we may see or feel when we finally have the courage to stand up after a face plant on brick. Falls in the grass can be a bit more easy peasy. We dust our kids off and send them back to play. A scrape in the grass compares not to a bone and concrete connect, right? All in all, concrete ain’t all that cute. Until it is.

Hard places need a bit of something, something to make them a bit more aesthetically pleasing and  picturesque. All on its own, it’s not very inviting and can be pretty cold.

We may not be able to fully control the path we are on. Sometimes poor choices rooted in difficult circumstances or limited mindsets keep us there and other times we’re led there (the Israelites were led by the Lord into the wilderness… into difficulty). When we are in a stony season, a season it can seem as if there isn’t any way we can grow up. We’re standing on rock (I won’t preach on that today… but, whoa) and generally, we’ve got to have some good, fertile ground to root ourselves in in order to grow.
One thing I know, you can grow anywhere. And, on the flip, remain stagnant and stunted in the most beautiful of spaces.

If you’ve been reading here for a looooong while you may remember this post I shared about the little bricked back yard my ex-husband and I had when we lived in our own townhome community.

Y’all. Click the link and go back to look at that yard. I’m so thankful the Lord brought it back to my memory this morning because it was the perfect picture for the analogy I shared on Insta stories. These are a couple screen shots.

But, y’all. We choose that. We can choose to not tend our mindsets, maintain our focus, prioritize our physical & emotional health, and devote time to our spiritual development. We can choose to stay in a safe, uncomfortable place not doing much to change what we don’t like. We can choose to not dare to do anything different, to avoid the hard things, and limit how we allow the Lord to use us.

Or….

Or, we can be brave and courageous. We can be afraid, but choose to go all in anyway.

Why?

Because our paths matter. Not only for us right now, but to our children, and the kingdom. When you’ve bent your shoulder to hard work for years in the most difficult circumstances and choosing to do it well… people watch. They watch how you work, when you work, who gets the glory from your work, and ow you walk that hard season out. And, it influences. It inspires. It motivates. It encourages. Hard seasons aren’t for you. They’re for your kids- so they can see what it looks like to be committed, to work hard, to swim upstream, and to still praise the Lord. To still serve others. To still work to be patient and kind. To still give. To be bigger than what is so heavy. The work and the reward aren’t for you to bear alone or rejoice in alone. Even in hard seasons, you can choose to bear fruit, to beautify your space, and control what unmanaged and can choke the life out of the potential of everyone involved…… That got serious quick, but have you been in a really hard season? for a really long time? Lol… No games are played and it’s not easy at all. The enemy isn’t playing and he wants us to be too tired, too defeated, too frustrated to stand up and war against him. Too serious? Not ever.

But, we can live well. Even in hard seasons. We can do the hard work with grace. We can do all things, Paul says, through Christ…. and that verse came after him saying he’s learned to live with much and little and be content with through it all. Grace is always sufficient. His strength is always enough.

We can’t avoid the stony path if that’s where the Lord has us. We can choose to create an environment where peace reigns, the love of God is evident, and others are drawn to our God because of how we live and love.

A jungle of a stony path looks and feels like chaos. You get all anxious and stressed looking at it. Don’t you? It just looks like no effort, no goals, no hope. As if the person tending it gave up because it was too hard, or truly had no interest in it in the first place. So thankful our God isn’t like us. He doesn’t quit, doesn’t get overwhelmed, or anxious at the sanctification process. He just keeps molding us ever so patiently and diligently. with an eye for detail and an all encompassing love. That unkept garden is full of potential. What could be never went away, but it can be squandered due to laziness, comfort, and detachment.

Learning to live well in hard seasons is a lot of work. A lot of operating at higher levels and under a lot of stress daily. The stony seasons are full of lessons on plants – how to maintain them and also how to distinguish them from a weed. Must learn about different tools, create some sort of understanding of how how often everything should be watered, pulling weeds, and doing the heavy lifting of maintenance…… when you’d rather be napping or shopping or just relaxing.  The work isn’t always convenient. It is always intentional, but when you’re done… you’re proud and you’ve got something to show for the effort.

What path are you creating? Intentionally or unintentionally.
What are you doing? Intentionally or unintentionally.

Are you expecting things to change but not bending your shoulder to the work? Maybe re-evaluating? Re-aligning? Asking the Lord for a re-vision as I did last month.

The amazing things is: we don’t have to wait. This moment, you can choose to be intentionally begin creating a physical, mental, and emotional space where you and others can thrive. Even in the hard season you can do something new. Right now, make decisions that will benefit you now and in the long run. We don’t have to wait until things get “better”. We don’t have to wait until something changes … the truth is, the change and better we’re hoping for can be behind the hard work we have a tendency to put off.

I don’t know when better is coming. I don’t know when we will see redemption and restoration in its fullness. I do know that the Lord is working things together for my good right now. I know my prayers are heard and answered. I know that I’ve got to trust the Lord and do the things he’s called me to in order to experience all, or as much as he has for me as possible.

That requires courage. It requires leaving behind the mindset of “That’s just not me.” and “I don’t think I can.” If the Lord is bringing you to it and impressing it on your heart, if it will move ya forward….. jump and trust the Lord on the way down. He is faithful.

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hope reestablished

Do you ever catch themes occurring in different seasons of your life?

This past year has been repeated theme after theme after theme and the most interesting thing is that multiple areas of my life would communicate the saaaaame topics. Wasn’t confusing, it was actually exciting but didn’t make sense in the moment. The themes didn’t seem connected. So, I was (and honestly still am) frustrated at why all of this is happening the way it is.And, these thematic months haven’t seemed to result in much either aside from me meeting the end of September sitting against the wall I slid down in surrender feeling completely defeated, with my legs pulled close to my chest, bawling out to the Lord while Dylan patted my head and brought me toys.

I’m literally looking towards God wondering what is going on, then staring at the cross like “okay…. he did that, I can do this..” to all of these completely impossible circumstances like “how am I going to do this…” to the scriptures, to sermons filled with phrases that literally repeat prayers, & Bible study notes that are all saying the same thing: “this ends well…..” but I can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. Can’t go around it.
I have to go through it.

Honestly, y’all… I’m tired of going through it.
Years of back to back to back to back drudging, climbing, sweltering, thirsting through it.
And, we’ve been enduring.
But, now…
just about every area of my life has been leveled.
And, just like before, this theme is repeated in more than one area
rebuilding

It’s also not lost on me that we’re in the last quarter of the year and
rebuilding now to walk into something new in a few months is…. poetically beautiful.
If something strong and of substance is actually built.

Everything in life that has been knocked down and leveled, but still necessary. Isn’t that…. jacked? To need the very things that have been dissembled? It’s even more difficult when you’ve watched it crumble…..as you scrambled and worked and prayed and rallied and done all the things to keep it together. It fell a part. And no matter how hard I tried to piece it together, pull it together, fasten it together……… it would not hold.So, I closed my eyes, fell back against the wall, slid down to the floor.Spent the last weekend of the 9th month of this year laboring with my Heavenly Father.
Reading, worshipping, praying, focusing….
rebuilding and reestablishing my trust in Him.

…because I’m tired.
Spiritually depleted from trusting and believing
God for things that aren’t not only not happening,
but falling completely a part.

While also happier than I’ve been in a long while.
Over the past four years, I’ve learned to think & see & operate in abundance, speak life, and literally change the belief in who I was,  see my worth & value that resulted in a shift in my mindset and freedom from so much fear, self doubt, scarcity….. even in chaos, lack, disappointment, & hurt.

I saw more.
I saw more opportunity.
More hope.
More possibility
…..even though…..
I was beyond worn out. Beyond drained. Beyond depleted.
Emotionally. Mentally. Financially.

But, frustratingly grateful that in seasons past
I learned how to be grateful & content and how to endure and hope.

Thankful that depleted in 2019 isn’t the same depleted of 2015.
Drained and exhausted look and feel different now than it did then
because I’m physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually healthier.
I’ve strengthened my body and my faith.

But, needing massive relief nonetheless.

Yesterday I listened to Steven Furtick preach about transitions. Talk about perfect timing. One of the illustrations he gave was about the distance between where you and what you see/hope for using an Alcatraz inmate’s experience. Alcatraz Island, where the prison was located, is 1.25 miles away from San Francisco. Inmates could literally see life happening from a place they could not escape from.

It’s right there. A mile and a half isn’t far… at all. It’s right. there.Just as those prisoners could see the beauty and twinkle of a city they could only fully experience through the senses of their imagination, there are goals and dreams I just haven’t been able to touch with my hands. Desires I can’t yet see in the physical with my eyes, hear the reality of that life with own ears, and smell the scents of “finally” through my own nose but can be felt just the same. How torturous. I wonder if the thought “this is going to be torture” crossed any minds as the purpose of the island was planned and developed. Wonder if that city within walking distance inspired the imprisoned, gave them hope, or something to dream of and look forward to. Or if it drove them insane from desperately wanting & needing to grab hold of something that was within reach, yet impossible to grasp.
Imprisioned.
I get wanting out. I get feeling like you’re losing your mind trapped in a
situation you can’t find relief from. I get not being able to escape your own mind,
your own imagination, your hope, and ability
while not being able to go where you want to go until you were set free.

Stuck.
Working and enduring where the Lord has us.
Knowing that this positioned space would be torture, the space between
here and there, as he laid out the plans for our lives.
Stuck
but experiencing his grace as he is our sword and shield.
As he defends and protects.
Stuck
where he has permitted as he provides and protects
while giving glimpses of what’s possible.

I have found peace and beauty in that space.
I know what it feels like to near choke on air thick with hurt, devastation, and uncertainty
yet feel contentment and joy.
I know what hopeful feels like in the middle of a circumstance that is showing no signs of change.
What it feels like to want to stop hoping, to completely give up but literally can’t.
Almost doesn’t feel fair.
Like God is intentionally keeping you from.
Keeping you through.
Keeping you focused.
Showing you glimpse after glimpse of what can be.
Is stuck such a bad place?
You can’t stop believing, even though everything is leveled.
You see what is possible, even while staring at devastation.
I’ve been gorging myself on the book of Isaiah. Processing. Thinking.
Clinging to the truth of who God is, the truth of what he is capable of, the many many promises of how he will restore and trade the disastrous for the beautiful. For a while, I flipped and skimmed and ignored half the book until I realized how full of reasons to hope and trust and wait each chapter was full of.
Then, I craved it.
(“A little taste before we see?” – my hopeful imagination)
And, was reminded that the God I put my trust in is the very potter that is
working all things together for my good.
The very things he decided to use to mold and shape me
into the one who he has planned to bring him glory are
the very things that will be a joyous blessing and cause festive praise.
Those things that will allow me and my children to see and experience the other
side of this rebuilding process and his goodness here on Earth.
Those very things will testify to how he truly cares for his children
and has great plans for us.
How He redeems and restores.
Brings dead things to life.
How He prepares tables.
Fills empty jars to overflowing.
Heals brokenness.
Binds wounds.
Settles the lonely in homes.
Provides.
How He is our shield.
Our comforter.
The Lifter of our Heads.
The Rock on which we stand…….
when everything else has fallen a part
And, I rest on him. Depend on him. Look to him.
Hope in him. Believe in him.
Wait on him.
Patiently.
While putting my mind and hands to the work he has set before me.

 

In Nehemiah 4, the walls are being rebuilt as they have been completely destroyed.
After threats of attack, Nehemiah calls his workers to prepare to protect themselves
by working with one hand and holding a sword in the other.

Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us how to dress in war against the enemy….
among the various pieces of armor, in our hands is to be the sword which is the Word of God.

Is it possible that we can do nothing of value without a
commitment to do hard things, while facing & enduring unavoidable trouble, &
holding fast to a vision of what is to come,
while keeping the Word in our hands and heart?
…. at our disposal?
… ready to encourage, remind, strengthen?
… as we simultaneously work?
Holy God, keep us.
answer our prayers.
strengthen us.
build us.
grow us.
remind us.
hold us together.
provide.
develop.
sustain.
abide within us.
renew our hope.
adjust + restore our vision.
(what we see with our eyes & heart)
bless us as abundantly like only you can.
establish us as mighty oaks planted for your glory.
in the name of Jesus.
amen.
Good and Loved by Travis Greene & Steffany Gretizinger.
If you’re a long time reader, you may remember how I would link a song that were inspiring me in the moment to each post. Decided to bring that back today. Over the weekend and while I wrote this post, Good & Loved replayed. I hope you love it as much as I do! Let me know what you think!
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meal hacks

Hey, y’all!

So this post is a bit different than what you’re seeing on here but I believe it is plenty good so I wanted to share how I’ve been slaying mom life over here! So I’m going to share a bit of how I spend my time in the mornings & a bit of lunch and meal prep, too!

If you follow me on Insta (and you should!!!), you’ve noticed that my girls are newly obsessed with bringing their lunch to school. I’ve been sharing their daily lunches over there so if you’ve missed them, catch up on their lunches via my “Bento Box Lunched” highlight!!

I always, always, always… and have always…. gotten a ton of compliments on how I “do it all” (said in a variety of ways). From how I take the girls with me just about any and everywhere, how I am made up & in heels, how the girls look nice………..

y’all. It’s a choice.

Pieces of that choice I have no choice about ….. we have to go grocery shopping together. If I want to accept an invite and kids are welcome, we’re packing up and heading out. But, even when I have a choice (for instance putting on make up or wearing heels), my choice is an absolute hell yes. I mean, I don’t think 3 kids is a lot in the grand scheme of things (if I remarry I’m absolutely down for having a couple more before I hit 40) BUT what I also know is I enjoy making myself and looking cute. ***shoulder shrug**** and if I’m wrangling 3 kids, you better believe I’m going to look cute doing it. And, y’all…. cute isn’t always eyebrows filled in…. sometimes it’s a baseball cap (haircut or not), clean face, jeans, & tee shirt. There are levels to this, right?! Lol.

Point being, I choose what I say yes to and what I say no to.

When I am dressed up with a beat face, I wake up earlier, too. I believe deeply in waking up before the kids. Part of my early morning is devoted to just sitting in silence with the Lord, reading my Bible, & even getting some work done. Filling my cup is also having a quiet shower, putting in make up, and perfume. Those are life givers for me and because I hardly have any time to myself….. I have to choose to create it.

While Dylan has been the most unexpected joy, adding a third has completely wrecked my ability to multi-task and be productive in the way I was used to. The more mobile, opinionated, and engaged with her sisters she became ….. the more difficult it was to complete tasks I was used to knocking out without a second thought. Just adding another person has made the need to be ahead of the game mandatory, but it’s made such a difference.

I work really hard to get everyone’s clothes set out the night before, and some items prepped for the week. Wasting time is so frustrating to me, so using it to find socks or undies, a uniform shirt or even my own clothes is a waster. Some days I choose to not prep for whatever reason, and I just wake up a little earlier and suck it up the next day – which is a perfect ‘natural consequence’ that reminds me to spend that time at night so my mornings will be a little easier.

Another couple life hacks are around our meals. Y’all, I’m not a chef or a food blogger. I don’t know calories or anything like that. So, I hope your expectations about these food pics, recipes, and meal plans are underground low. But it’s working for me and, as always, I’ve gotta share what works for me because I know it could work for you, too!!

The girls were recently gifted Bento lunch boxes and they are obsessed with bringing their lunch to school. Which I don’t completely mind, but it does cause me to use my time differently.

(A lunch from last week…. these are documented in my ‘bento box lunches’ highlight).

Packing their lunch is a major night before prep. I put all the dry items in their box the night before, everything refrigerated or what I’ll warm in the morning is also prepped and ready to just drop in their boxes in the morning.

(Their lunch menu for the week… I pretty much stick to it unless I notice they aren’t eating something and/or they request something else.. on the menu) This is lunch prep for tomorrow. The pretzels, fruit snacks, & ketchup is ready to go. The cheese, mango, & hotdogs are already cut up. So in the morning, I just have to pop the hotdogs in the microwave and divvy up the cheese & mango. Easy peasy.

I also pack my own lunch which is some sort of remix of what the girls are having. I’ve also started making breakfast muffins on Sundays that last through the week! It’s super easy to warm that, add avocado or another fruit and get on out the door!

I posted the breakfast muffins last week and had so many people ask about the recipe, so I decided to just make it super easy and post here.

This recipe made 12 breakfast muffins!! And, they are so so so good!!! Don’t taste funny at through the week!

Just wanted to share a few tips and hacks that have helped me, and I hope they help you, too!!

If you’ve got any great hacks or super easy recipes, leave a comment or shoot an email! I’d love to hear!!

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