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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I’m slightly obsessed with the photos I took a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time in a while I felt like I was seen as more than a mama. Knowing & feeling are two different things right? Add looking & appearing to be more than a little tooshie wiper and you’ve got this………. me in a non-kid friendly top and short short. I can still do both.

Ironically, this post has been sitting waiting to be edited and published for a couple weeks now. That first paragraph was already written, I just updated the time line. THAT paragraph is the same sentiment I believe Ayesha Curry has and experiences… just like a ton of other mamas and women who experience change and are consumed by a role. “I still got it.” I can still walk out of the house confident about what I look like now (post baby body) and be recognized for that alone. Not seen as only someone’s mama or wife or _____. But, a woman. And, I got attention, as I usually do, but this time it was different. It wasn’t “What a beautiful family.” or “You’ve got some beautiful girls.” or “You look amazing … how do you get yourself together with 3 girls.” The compliments I receieved from men and women was centered around me. And, I loved it. It felt good. I’m sure they saw what I felt – a spark, freedom, an ease that isn’t there when you’re chasing two kids with one on your hip. A vibe that isn’t present when you’re dressed to have kid goop all over you and your shirt used as a snot rag. I am still who I was before who I am now. That recognition felt great.

Aside from not usually looking like anything but “Logan and Rhy Rhy’s mom” (y’all know how kids do)….. I love being a mama. Love serving my family. Love pushing strollers and carrying the cutest diaper backpack. Watching my kids learn new things and become these little girls with their own personalities and expanding vocabularies bring me all the joy. Marie Kondo sytle – they can stay because they spark joy. Maintain the joy. They are joy even when they’re on my nerves. Their presence is a physical proof of God’s faithfulness. Even when they’re pushing me to crazy, they are all joy in all of their loud and chaotic chaos.

Being a mama is my jam. As a mama, I get to be & do….. I have become ….. the woman I was purposed to be. Purposed, fashioned, fearfully & wonderfully made.

I get to teach. Empower. Encourage. Support. Establish belief. And, grow it. Establish faith. And, mature it.
Purposed to impact the kingdom.

When I first began this blog, I was a married woman struggling with infertility.
That was about 7-8 years ago.
I wasn’t who I am now.

There’s a quote.. a saying.. that says we ask the Lord for cake but we dismiss the eggs, the bowl, sugar, wisk, etc needed to bake, to prepare what we are asking the Lord for. The irony is that the Lord didn’t say “No.”, but he did give us gifts, gives us opportunities in our lap, intentionally puts people in our paths; the good, the bad, the experiences that seemingly crush us. He said, “This is what you’ll need to receive what you’re asking for.”

There are points in life we are completely unaware of the what and why. There are times he begins to show us little by little why things happened the way they did. Sometimes we fight the process. We fight the path he has us take, we ignore opportunities, and choose to not act on the urges the Lord impresses on our hearts. We lose time. We miss out on experiences. We live Plan B instead of Plan A.

I can look back on the last ten years of life and see how the Lord has been preparing me for now all along. I can see how he has softened my heart in so many areas, how he has brought specific people into my life in one season who were vital to landing me exactly where I needed to be in another. I can think back to specific events where I know the Lord was telling me to do something, to go against what made sense, to ignore “who I am” and obey what he was telling & truly positioning me to do.

Plan A or Plan B? Is there even a Plan B?
There’s an idea of God’s permissive will and his perfect will for our lives.
I’m undecided and not truly sure if it even matters.

What I know and believe is that the Lord is for me. That he created me to do a specific thing and that is to love Him and love people well. And, that’s exactly what the path he’s placed me on has taught me.

He’s used every single gift he’s placed in me, every single moment of my life and decision made to shape me. The ignorance he pulled out of me and replaced with understanding and wisdom. The people he’s placed in my life, the jobs I’ve had, the experiences and lessons. The faith he has developed and built and the passions he has placed in the pit of my belly. The dreams and goals that won’t die. The hope that won’t let up. Hello, oil, eggs, & vanilla extract.

All of that was for this.
The chance to be a mother.
100% of the time.
Leading, encouraging, inspiring, empowering, and helping
other women/mamas/single mamas
believe and see that they have options.
Their goals may not include working from home with babies at their feet.
But, I believe they want a way to provide for their families.
They want to feel like playing with their kids.
They want to have the energy to do for everyone else and themselves.

When I became a single mama, I already had a side income that allowed me more breathing room (because I accepted an opportunity seven months prior not knowing what would happen later on that year). Without it, I would have had to take on another job that required me to spend more time away from my children. With only two weekends and a few hours in the evening, time was already limited. Hello, sugar.

A few years later, I found myself pregnant with a little girl who would ultimately lead me to walking away from the classroom to have a relationship with her. To continue building a business that had grown, and continue growing an income that included a comma every month. To continue helping people the Lord brought into my life to see an opportunity that could change theirs. Hello, cake mix.

Which opened my mind up to the fact that opportunities to use what we have to develop personally, grow skills, earn income, support others, and build the kingdom while doing that are all around us…. if we are brave enough to pursue them. Gimme the wisk, the measuring cups, the cake pan.

So, I decided to add a little something new to my plate that would allow me to serve, empower, and support other women while also providing for my family on my terms. 
A result of the bravery learned, belief in myself grown, the matured faith, and vision for
opportunity that has been developed over the past few years led to this.
Please pass the icing.

The tragedy of a divorce four years ago led me here.
Led me to be the single mama who needs to provide for her family while being
available to her children.
The place where her childhood dream became a reality.
The place that developed her, matured, and forced her to
be brave when shrinking in fear and uncertainty,
taking the safe route seemed best.
Led me to learn to lean and abide, to stay close to Jesus.

The cake.
The answered prayer.
The provision.
The abundant overflow that you need.

Ask the Lord about opportunities. Then, accept them.
Ask the Lord for guidance. Then, follow.
Even when you’re not sure.
Even when you’ve never done it before.
Even when others won’t agree.
Even when you have no idea what you just signed up for.

Choose trusting the Lord in uncertainty over the fear paralyzing you know in the familiar.

Understand this:
You aren’t supposed to know the outcome; you aren’t God.
You’re just supposed to trust God.
You’re supposed to be faithful with what he’s given you.

And, that is what I’ve been doing. It hasn’t been easy. It’s been insanely hard. I’ve cried out, I’ve yelled, I’ve given up (in my head), I’ve been pissed and terrified, I’ve been devastated…… But, I’ve also been provided for. I’ve been led. I’ve experienced insane favor. Growth. Maturity. Peace. Understanding.

Choosing to trust God isn’t easy and there are times it puts us in some pretty devastating places.
But, it also positions us to “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13), to be rescued (Psalms 55:16), and sit at tables prepared before those who don’t do right by us (Psalms 23:5).

Feel free to allow the Lord to fill you with overflowing joy, be thankful, and
enjoy the cake.

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If I could teach them anything…

My girls are my most prized possessions………………………….. next to Jesus. And, it’s my God given responsibility to teach them to be responsible, productive, God fearing little ladies. There are sooo many things I’ve done horribly wrong, some things have gone better than expected, and some things have gone really right. The good and bad of life can’t always be controlled, but they are dependent on our choices and how we view ourselves. Good choices and a strong, positive mindset will determine their quality of life…

Our quality of our lives depend on the quality of our choices.

Most people don’t come into the world making good choices and operating awesome habits. It has to be taught. Like many of us, I haven’t always made good choices. I’ve done some reflecting and there are quite a few common themes that I believe have impacted my choices. While there are many things I want to intentionally teach my babes, these six lessons are at the top of the list. (and, yes, I’m still learning myself.)

If I could teach my girls anything, I would teach them to be bold and assertive yet kind.
It’s a balance that some will forever have difficulty finding (my name is at the tippy top of that list) because hard conversations are tough and we, as women specifically, are somewhere, somehow taught that it’s not nice to be vocal and say hard things. But, I believe this is an important lesson to learn because I don’t want them controlled by another person’s feelings when communicating their expectations or desires, but cognizant of them at the same time. Be gentle and caring.

If I could teach my girls anything, I want to teach them to be dreamers. 
How silly is it for me to teach them that with God all things are possible and with him we can do mighty things, if I’m going to put a lid on what can be? There is a great big world with so much beauty and opportunity. They have a God given imagination and heart desires that are there for his glory. I want them to dream big and believe that they can do anything they set their mind to! Lack of dreaming comes from a low belief in what we can do… it comes from not being able to see what is possible. If I can instill big belief in my girls, they will more than dream large, vivid, and audacious dreams!

If I could teach my girls anything, I want to teach them to be go getters.
Go after what you want… with passion, determination, fearlessness, and drive. Make a plan and execute, reflect and adjust, then keep going. Listen for wisdom and guidance, and ignore the naysayers and those that speak negativity and limitations. No one can limit you but you. No one can discourage you without your permission. You hear and see what you focus on, so focus on what the Lord has given you and do everything you can to accomplish what you set out to do. The noise can sometimes be so loud, drowning out the quiet voice that says, “Yes you can.”

If I could give my girls anything, I want to give them the freedom of living out their dreams. 
I can already see my girls bent towards certain things. One loves to sing and picks up on music very easily. She is also a little fashionista in the making. The other loves to flip, is incredibly athletic, and loves to take pictures. And, I want to put them in cheer and I’d love for them to cheer though college… along with whatever else they want to do! That’s my dream for them!  My girls will know that their dreams don’t have to be mine… there is no pressure to be me. They don’t have to be Plexus ambassadors (although the opportunity for financial freedom is a no brainer), they don’t have to want to be mamas (even though I’d love some grandbabies in about 25 years), and they don’t have to want to do what I’d love for them to do. They can’t do what they are called to do if they’re pushed to do what I want them to do. My goal is to shape them to be who God created them to be and watch them to big things! Giving them the freedom and support to follow their own dreams will help build their confidence knowing that they matter, that what they think, and what they want are important.

If I could teach my girls anything, I would to teach them that it’s okay to “not be strong”. 
What’s it’s not okay is to whine and do nothing to fix the situation. I want them to be strong, self sufficient, and capable of handling life’s struggles.  Faking strong isn’t strong. Not communicating, not seeking help, suffering for the sake of appearances,  struggling silently, stuffing emotions is not healthy, nor is it strong. You can be, you are,  strong when you cry and find help to sort through the hurts and hardships of life. You’re not weak because you prioritized yourself over someone else, you didn’t fail just because things didn’t work out the way you wanted and expected them to. You’re strong when you do what’s right no matter what else another person is doing, you’re strong when you walk away from pain inflicting people and situations, you’re strong when you know when to be quiet and when to apologize (and actually do it!)… strength isn’t ugly or hard or unforgiving. Breaking down, ice cream accompanied nights of tears, and shutting life down for a day doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human. A strong one.

If I could teach my girls anything, I would teach them to listen to wisdom and make good choices based on facts more than feelings. 
Now, their mama is a feeeeeeeler, which means it can be difficult for me to make choices based on what is versus unfulfilled potential and what is yet to be. So, we’re all gonna have to work on that because this is where life quality is established. When we base choices on short sighted wants versus the long term benefits, we likely won’t end up in good situations later on. I’m totally a feeler, so it takes MUCH effort, time, and self control to make choices based on facts and feet (action) versus potential and hopes. lol. Still at 34.  It’s so important to have a support system of people who have your best interests at heart. Ones who’ve walked though life a little bit longer than you have, who have strengths in different areas than you, and who you trust to help you learn to make better choices. Decision making can be tough… some decisions being harder to make than others. When you consider how much better your life could be because of one choice you made, it motivates you to choose smarter.

I want to teach my girls to be happy and confident people who love others well and follow their dreams. I want them to be happy more than anything. Life is hard and it’s such a blessing for them to have each other to do life with. There’s nothing greater than having people in your corner that are pushing you to be your greatest self who challenges you and holds you accountable. Lots of lessons learned, lots of weaknesses strengthened, lots of strengths sharpened and smoothed out. Thankful for growth and the opportunity to better my babies’ lives because of what I’ve learned!

 

 

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