f i v e

Can y’all believe this?! These people are five years old!

This space was birthed because of them.
(Sort of.)

I started writing in this space in 2011 to keep my family and close friends in the loop of my & then husband’s journey through infertility. With all of the doctor & specialist appointments it was annoying to make all the phone calls and send the texts…… so I started writing.

 Created a blog and titled it something that has colored the last eight years of my life.

GROWTH. Very public, very ‘come alongside me’. Journey though all life’s hard shit with me. I never thought it would become what is has. Ever. Your emails, messages, comments, and support has been NUTS. Because you’ve been going through the same exact things. And, felt alone. Felt afraid. Felt isolated. Confused. All the things that I was feeling, but we got to do it together. It’s been nice.

Three years of writing through the ups and downs of fertility treatments and adoptions.
Three years of sharing the highs, lows, disappointments, fears, & frustrations.
Three years of learning about character of God, how to trust Him.
Three years of fighting through a maturation of my faith I KNOW
wouldn’t have come unless we took the hard, rocky route.

The one that forced you to face God.
And, then…. boom.

At the point I became aware of the unraveling of my marriage, I find out I’m expecting.

More hard and rocky.
Insanely unbelievable hard and rocky.

Timing made no sense.

Then, five years ago, after 9 days in the hospital on bed rest, I woke up to a second consecutive high blood pressure reading at 36 weeks and was prepped to deliver these sweet girls by a c-section.
The last five years haven’t been easy.

But, again …. the Lord is answering prayers still.

He is faithful.
He is love.
He is kindness.
He is mercy.
He is grace.
He is hope and strength.
Full of joy and comfort.

They are and are becoming everything that I have prayed for. They are kind and funny. Smart and helpful. They’re thinkers and compassionate. They love God big and love singing worship songs and praying. They love to read. They’re cuddlers and wonderful big sisters.

Even in the midst of chaos & hardship God is still faithful and good.

Their story, these miracle blessings came at the worst time in my eyes but even still the Lord has been so good. We are not able to control the climate, we can’t control the circumstances. However, we can trust that whatever God allows no matter when he allows it, he will carry us, grace is through it.

There are times I wonder why God allowed such incredible blessings to come in the middle of such drama. Why after all of the craaaaaazy, things couldn’t level out and be fine… because OMG answered prayers! Come on!!! This is glorifying to you, right?!

But, y’all. THIS IS.

And, I mean….. that would have been, too, right? Peace and marital restoration after crazy. For sure. Maybe. Who knows. But what I do know is that this life I’m living right now has put me face to face with God and I love it. I love his Word, I love HIM, I love watching him move in my life and be & so all the things I’m asking & needing him to be & so. Trusting God “though you can’t trace Him” as my Pastor says, is hard but so so so good.

Their life is like a time stamp of sorts. Marking not only evidence of the faithfulness of God, but so much newness. Five plus years of this….. growing and maturing with and because of these incredible little girls.

Five years of watching them seemingly never have enough time to
play and chat and sing together.
Five years of laughing at their silliness and jokes.
Five years of milestones, growth, change, challenges, and learning.
Five years of watching two little people who came at the most
inconvenient time make such a huge impact on so many people.

Two little girls who are evidence of the impossible. Two little girls who have, by their very existence, driven me closer to the Lord and been such catalyst for out-of-comfort-zone living.

I can’t (well, I could but won’t) celebrate them without honoring how gracious God has been. If you don’t truly know, it’s likely hard to understand how intertwined so much of this day, my girls, & their birthday is to completely changing our life and faith in God. The fact that they are here, my pregnancy was as healthy & physically/medically stress free as it was, and we have made it five years is a reminder of what and why I believe what I do and why my faith is as unshakable as it is.

God truly gives us the desires of our hearts.
Truly answers prayers.
Has his hand on our lives as he lifts up our heads, as he covers us with grace.

I was still crying out to God for AN answer when TWO were already growing in my belly.

A celebration of these girls cannot be unattached from worship, separated from the acknowledgment of how faithful God is.

We prayed them here. Praised God when we got that positive pregnancy test. Praised him when they got here and we’re going to do the same exact thing every single year.

PUBLICLY UNASHAMED.

Signature

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.

Signature

follow & find

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.

Signature