… the source

One thing I absolutely love to do is sit with the Lord. I love reading my Bible, I love pulling scriptures that settle my soul or ignite worship. I love reading stories of God’s faithfulness + commitment to and Christ’s love for the “us” of old, the “us” of now, and the “us” that is waiting to come. I love that he loves us in-spite of who we are in our sinfulness, our mistakes, our brokenness & the brokenness that comes out that disrupted space.

I love that He loves me.
and, in my time with the Lord I get to revel in his focus for me, his plans for me, and stretch out in the freedom of total acceptance. 

And, for a moment, mama….
I want you to think about you, too.

…. while you consider this scripture:
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. 
Then, you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. 
Romans 15: 13

Consider that when we are feeling overwhelmed from the laundry and dishes and taxi-ing.
When the current struggles in toddlerhood (I mean, childhood in general)
seem hopeless and never ending.
When there isn’t a man, a partner, and shoulder.
Or when the shoulder is struggling itself.
Or just being annoying.
When that something you’re dealing with is too much.

Trust that we have a hope. Then anchor yourself to it.
A source that deeply desires to fill us completely to overflowing.
The visual I get is a child planning to pour their own juice or milk.
They are excitedly anticipating  pouring their own juice from a heavy, full container.
And, if your kids are like mine, a little isn’t enough. That cup has to be full.
They are so confident and proud of carrying that container to the table (or spot on the floor, let’s be real) where they have strategically placed that small cup and begin to pour.
…. to overflowing.

Remember how God so beautifully gives us living and breathing examples that show us who he is.
Like our children, He is completely and utterly excited about us.
And, he desires greatly to pour out his peace and joy into our vessels.
To overflowing.
But not because he isn’t strong enough to carry the pitcher and control the pour.
The juice spilling over that small plastic cup, spending across the table, and dripping onto the floor isn’t an accident.
Or, when that cup is at the lowest possible point – on the floor – and tips over at the weight and speed of the pour and causes the milk to spread under the table, refrigerator, and across the floor…  it didn’t happen because someone wasn’t being monitored.
It was, like my girls say, “on purpose.”

The overflow out of the cup.
The cup tipping over.
The juice spreading across the table and under the fridge.
The Chik-Fil-A lemonade wasted on the floor leaving a sticky mess
is all a very intentional act to:
1. allow us to feel (fill?) his love.
2. equip us
3. share

But, we cannot do that if we aren’t allowing ourselves to be filled and healthy.

Devotionals are incredible spaces to reflect and are an awesome tool to help you learn more about who God is. Books are my love language. They are full of wisdom, perspective, and testimony.
But, the Word of God should be our foundation, everything else a reference that supports the Word.

Fill yourself up on the Word.
Eat your dinner first. Snacks and dessert come later.
Let’s get to the know the person and not just inhale the chatter we hear others speaking.

Be well so that you can live well. Think well. Speak well. Endure well.

If you know my older two…. if you’d had the absolute pleasure of meeting them, you will immediately recognize that they are happy and joyful. Actively happy and joyful. They love each other and love the Lord.

I have been immensely blessed by a couple at my church who just have taken to my family. They spoke incredible life into me as a mother, provider, and woman for an hour after church last Sunday.

And, that conversation boiled down to this:
“Your children are as happy, beautiful, and incredible as they are because of who you are.”
Now, yes, while they all have incredibly present fathers and family who pour into them…..
Me, as their mother, impact and shape them in ways that other people do not and cannot.

And, my friends are right.
And, the same is for you mama.

What we pour into our hearts and minds is going to overflow onto your family, work space, friend spaces, and impact the stain we leave behind. Even water leaves an outline.

The impact I leave can stress me out. I can worry so much about the outcome that I’m hustling to be (read: look, sound, respond, speak, create, earn) the best and what “right” and “successful” looks like to the masses, to myself, to my children at any given point that I do not allow the Lord space to reign and work.

Wine doesn’t work hard to stain.
Chick-fil-a lemonade doesn’t try to be sticky.
It just is because of the ingredients it is made of.

Same for us.When we allow the Lord to fill us to overflowing, we become new creatures daily.
When we fill our hearts and mind with truth – in written word, music, encouragement from our people – we pour out that truth and life giving words.

And, because it’s no secret that I supplement and balancing + fueling my body has made an incredible difference in my emotional and physical health.
When we are not physically and emotionally well, we cannot be all that we are called to be.
YES. I can be loving even though I’m constipated and poop once a week.
YES! I can serve well with high blood pressure.
YES. I can be productive as I battle through exhaustion daily.
Yeeeees, I can be present and attend all the events and still snap on my kids and
have horrible mood swings.
I’m still going to heaven even when stress, anxiety, and depression are daily battles.
But, what quality of life is that?
Especially when we are called to be love.
We can’t be love and feel like crap at the same time.

Like many of you, I have to operate at a high level and under great stress daily.
There is no one at this house to shoulder a thing.
But, even if that isn’t the case, how I feel impacts my responses, my thoughts, and productivity.

I thought that the issues I was struggling with were just “a part of life as Alaina” and this is what it was.
Those issues aren’t an issue anymore. My responses aren’t the same.

And, I am the mama and woman I am because Jesus is mending + strengthening my heart
and Plexusis healing my gut and balancing my hormones.

The Lord delights in you, mama.
He wants to comfort you, encourage you.
Lift up your head and strengthen you.
He longs for time with you,
to be the source that fills you to overflowing.
For you. Just for you.
Just because he loves you so much.
Just so that you can be filled with him.
AND, so that you can be a source of love that points back to Him.

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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.

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it’s all for his glory

One of the most beautiful things about the love of Christ is how he transforms our lives.
It’s beautiful how he will literally breathe life into a broken, dead situation.
How he puts joy and songs of praise in our hearts in the midst of and after great loss.
We value and celebrate that growth… count on it and expect it.
….. while at the same time, we’re ashamed of the need to grow.

WHY?

I have to admit that when my girls received the Most Improved award at their end of the year program last year, I was embarrassed. Even though I knew they’d matured so much over the year, knew that there was no doubt that they’d grown, and truly improved in so many areas from not losing their shit during drop off to potty training to using more words…. they blossomed! But, what I wanted was for them to be the best from the beginning. The foolish and judgmental stigma of “most improved” that I had was that they literally sucked and they’ve gotten better……… as if growth wasn’t something to be proud of, that it should be expected, and that it should be a goal to attain. Truth is, I was very proud of how they matured, I just didn’t “like” that they received an award for it. So silly.  Their hard work should be been celebrated instead of something to be ashamed of. Lord knows if it was up to me to get them potty trained, they’d still be in diapers. lol. Their teachers for the past two years have been incredible and I’m truly grateful for the leaps and bounds they’ve accomplished since they’ve started their preschool program.

How is my perfectionism and shame of their growth teaching them?
Is it pushing them to cover their struggles?
Am I teaching them to be insecure about their weaknesses?
Or that I will only be proud of them if they are “there” instead of celebrating them and enjoying the journey of becoming?
lol… I am more ashamed of myself and what my actions (even though I never told them or showed them how I felt) communicated than their growth. Clearly it revealed multiple areas I needed to grow in.

A friend of mine recently posted about the beauty of golf courses and how, in all of their well thought out beauty, they are man made. That space, those acres of plush grass, sand dunes, lakes, trees, and pathways, was not natural. But, the awe we feel doesn’t decrease and we don’t look down on them because they needed work.

But, we do this to ourselves daily. Or….. I know I can beat myself up about not having a certain trait or not quite yet getting control over that flaw not realizing that growing into that trait and becoming better over time is still something to be grateful for.

The disappointment, frustration,  or shame comes from comparison…. from looking at another person and thinking that the way the Lord naturally created someone makes them better than how he naturally created us. It minimizes the sin issues they have (whether you’re aware of them or not) and maximizes ours. It compares what could be the later chapter in their book to the earlier chapters in ours that are still being written. It ignores how the Lord is molding, shaping, improving, and creating you to be.

Lord knows there are days I wish the issues and flaws that I have didn’t exist…… that I could have come into this world as the person I’d like to be. But, that’s boring. That doesn’t tell a story of how great our God is and how he truly works things out for our good. Beauty is beauty…. formed by the words of our God or thought up in the imaginations and created with the gifts that the Lord has given us. It’s all from him. All for his glory. All of it tells of how the natural things the Lord created come together to honor him.

It’s the same. 

Over the last few years, I’ve learned how important it is to not allow a flaw to cause us shame. That sin issue may truly be a hard one to swallow, it may seem worse than any other, and it may have caused you some serious consequences and broken relationships….. But, guess what? When Christ died on the cross, he gave you victory over that sin. He forgave you of that sin. He gave you access to a relationship with a God who wants you to get that Most Improved award and tell you “Good job, my good and faithful servant!” when he greets you in heaven. He gave, he gave, he gave…. so that he could take away the hard and ugly and (again) give you something beautiful in return. A life free of guilt, a life full of hope, of salvation, of opportunity, or wisdom, and growth. He gives you a story your life will tell that will cause everyone around you to see that something about you different and wonder how it was possible.

And, you get to say “Jesus”.

Remember when I would post songs that I had on repeat?? Let’s bring that back!
Hillsong United – So Will I (100 Billion X)

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