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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glimpses of the good

I’ve been pretty quiet about life…real life… for a couple of reasons… one being that I don’t have much extra time to write. Which sucks but it’s the truth. I literally squeeze my ThriveMoms posts in at the very last second and I realized that I never sit on my couch – ever. So, needless to say there’s not much down time. Second, vulnerable is not as easy for me to come back from. and, it’s time consuming. And, I’m busy. So…….. while I crave depth here, and in my TM blogs, and in my relationships, safety is first. Safety in just being  vulnerable and in the grace needed to come back from that space when it’s not as cut and dry as we’d all like for it to be.

Life is insane and intense.
But, I am so grateful for the joy and happiness in the blurry.

I read a meme today along the lines of “don’t ask me what I’m doing tomorrow, I barely know what’s going on right now.” and that pretty much sums up my life right now. And, another mama totally “me, too, sister’d” that sentiment as we were just talking about life stuff. So, if you’re a super planner that used to organize by the week, but now about 12 hours (or minutes) in advance, join us. You’re in good company. 🙂 And, it’s fun over here, so you’re welcome!

I’m listening to Lauren Daigle’s station Pandora (if you don’t know her, get to know her. She’s amazing. & you’re welcome… again!) and a few songs played back to back that just drove the faithfulness of God and how he is with you in everything that you go through all the way home. Such beautiful songs that nearly brought me to tears.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you pretty much already know that I puke and gush Logan + Rhyann on a daily. Those girls are my people and my everything; two super cute, little near two giant yet tiny tornadoes who make my world go round.  So, when these songs were playing, all I could think of is how well things are going and how good God has constantly shown himself to be. Highlight of October: rank promoting in Plexus!

Single parenting is hard, y’all. And, I know I make it look easy because you tell me so. Y’all are so impressed by how I do it, but I literally would not be functioning if it weren’t for the Lord. That sounds so overly spiritual and churchy but it’s so true. I have no idea how I do it day in and day out back to back. And, y’all need to know that. Your comments, emails, and face to face compliments & encouraging words fill my tank and encourage me in so many ways. But, I need y’all to know that it gets crazy at that house and we sing and dance it out in the car because the fun keeps us happy and smiling. It’s more out of intentional necessity than spontaneous fun. lol. Thankfully I get at least one day break during the week and the standard every other weekend which is such a major blessing. Yes, I have a schedule and very little wiggle room most days so I try to stick to it…. and, I’m balancing being a mom and being Alaina pretty well which I’m incredibly proud of because I don’t naturally balance well. And, when I say I’m ‘balancing’, I really mean that ignoring the laundry that’s piled on my couch right now and choosing to spend with my friends…. If I couldn’t allow myself to break and be, I’d be stressed and frustrated, impatient, and unhappy.

This year has been so good to me….
it’s been a successful year in many ways.
A year of growth and accomplishment.
A glimpse into what’s to come……

and, it’s so good.twintasticFind these tees here!

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.
– Isaiah 61:3

Such truth.

There’s so much I’ve prayed for that has happened and that is on it’s way…. I’ve prayed for glimpses that let me know that all of the work and junk will be worth, prayed about earning more money, prayed about maturing and receiving wisdom, prayed about people I needed & needed me coming into my life, about strengthening relationships, prayed about writing/speaking opportunities……. and, this has been the year of yes. The year of redemption. The year of glimpses into a future that is bright, and full, and praiseworthy, and joyous. Not only for myself but for those around me.

So grateful.

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