Posts tagged Jesus
From Feeling Stuck to Finding Freedom

Trigger warning: this story contains depictions of abuse. If you need help, please call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 800-799-7233.

Let me tell you about a girl who believed a very big lie.

A girl with the world at her fingertips.

A girl with a bright smile that lit up the room.

A girl who loved Jesus.

A girl who got pregnant with her boyfriend.

Riddled with shame and embarrassment, the girl tried to “right the wrong” with an engagement. Against all advice, she charged into this marriage before her sweet child came into the world.

Then she began to notice patterns in her husband that he hadn’t exhibited AT ALL before they were married – Like his anger. Like his unrelenting sarcasm. Like his intimidation. Like his aggression. Like his lies. Like his manipulation. Like his threats. Like his fighting dirty. Like his total disrespect.

But she stayed.

 
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She stayed through the short fuse and the huge temper. She stayed through the deceit and theft. She stayed through sexual abuse and neglect. She stayed through his exploitation of power and control. She stayed through the f-bombs and name-calling. She stayed through the verbal beatings that she “never should have been born, is stupid, alone, and worthless.” She stayed through slammed doors and screaming rants, while rocking on the floor, plugging her ears in the fetal position.

And she stayed through the birth of their child.

She stayed through her fear of her husband and fear for her son. She stayed when the only advice she received was to turn the shower on so the baby couldn’t hear him screaming at her. The girl became desperate and hopeless, even turning to thoughts of suicide. (Which he made fun of and threatened to take her to a psych ward when she reached out for help.) She could not live this way.

Until, finally, she stopped believing this very big lie.

You see, this smart, brave, beautiful mother had believed the lie that there was no way out. She believed that she was stuck because of her sin. She chose to marry him to make things right and now she had to live with that decision, regardless of the abuse. She was so far entrenched in this lie of deserved punishment that she couldn’t see the light of day. She couldn’t hear the hopeful, loving whispers from her heavenly Father as she cried out to Him, begging Him to save her.

Until she could.

Until she believed the truth that redemption was possible. A new life of love, forgiveness, peace, SAFETY, and a God-breathed future in FREEDOM. She began to consider what her life could look like outside of captivity. She believed that God did not cause this abuse or use it to punish her.

This beautiful artwork is one of 10 gorgeous TRUTH statements you can find in the What’s True About You Guided Journal -COMING SOON!  Artist:  Ami Atkocaitis

This beautiful artwork is one of 10 gorgeous TRUTH statements you can find in the What’s True About You Guided Journal -COMING SOON!

Artist: Ami Atkocaitis

And what’s amazing about this girl is that as soon as she called the lie out for what it was, she stepped into her freedom with divine determination and supernatural tenacity.

A middle of the night rescue mission ended in the comforting arms of family. As she gained her footing, her future unfolded so magnificently. God gave generously at every guided step. Trauma became the pain of the past instead of the reality of the present. Through her hard work digging deep to find healing, she clung to Jesus and the truth that He is not the Punisher. He is the Counselor who caught every tear she cried in a bottle. The God of Love and Grace and Forgiveness. The God of Hope and Peace and Freedom.

Now, I wish I could report that the girl hasn’t experienced a single struggle since that day or that her prison break was easy. I wish I could say that she never looked back. I wish I could say that there isn’t more healing to do, but I can’t.

After all, life is hard and this journey is a long one.  

But I am happy to say this girl is now happily re-married to wonderful man, which is just part of her redemption story. The most significant, inspiring part of this story is how through the pain and hopelessness, she made it to the other side as a fiercely strong and confident daughter of the King.

In her quest for peace, she also found her passion. A passion to revolt against injustice, especially when it comes to women and children being mistreated. A heart for single mothers and overwhelming empathy for those who feel stuck in abusive relationships. 

And so for you, dear friend, you may need to be reminded of who you are. You are God’s masterpiece, dearly loved and freely-called to engage the world in ways that only you can.

You are worthy of love, peace, and freedom. You are worthy of believing that “God is for you, not against you. He is near to you, not far away from you, and He has created you on purpose, and for a purpose” (the truth that our Radio Theology team shares with our listeners every week.)

If your story too closely reflects this one, please know that you are not alone. Please do not believe the lie that you are being punished for poor choices and sentenced to a miserable life because of the mistakes you made. There is hope for you. Redemption can be the next chapter of your story.  

As much as I love connecting with you, exchanging emails and Facebook posts, and swapping stories – this is too big for me. Please call the highly trained professionals at the National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 800-799-7233.

Whether abuse is part of your story or not, you are in your own fight to live freely in who you are. I’m with you. And the entire I Am Mother of the Year community is with you. With weekly blog posts, radio content, an encouraging group, and a What’s True About You Guided Journal due out in just a few short weeks that will walk you through pinpointing those deep-seated lies and replacing them with the truth, there are so many ways to engage with this movement!

We hope you do! We love you lots!

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To the Mom Counting MISTAKES Instead of Sheep

Numbers are not really my thing, but tonight…tonight I got really good at counting. And you know what I counted? My mistakes. I soaked in a hot bath of guilt, shame, and fear, and literally counted the number of mistakes that I could remember from the past week or so. I counted the number of mistakes that I’m still carrying from who knows how long ago. I’m counting…counting…counting…

  • I was late every day last week to pick Josie up from pre-school. Gives new meaning to the pre-school walk of shame.

  • I turned in Josie’s eye exam form 3 weeks too late. She’s probably about to go blind.

  • I didn’t realize that Josie’s Halloween parade, party and class chapel were not only happening this week, but parents are welcome…as is her Halloween costume. Insert a 35-minute round trip drive home to frantically search for said costume in a mountain of princess dress-up clothes in the world’s messiest playroom.

  • Despite my best efforts to remain consistent in discipline, Josie has gotten off too easy with a few too many sassy comments.

  • After a long evening of yelling, feeling lost, and ready to walk away from the motherhood game altogether, I shoved a wailing Josie in bed at 6:17 p.m.

And those were just a teeny tiny sampling of the Josie ones. I probably don’t even have the emotional capacity to go into any of the other mistakes I’ve made a mom to a beastly boy child, a wife to a hardworking husband, a co-worker, a daughter, a friend…

Sounds like a nice little Tuesday night, doesn’t it? Let me tell you, it’s not.

Earlier today, I had some friends affirm me, and specifically affirm the mission of the Mother of the Year movement. They said that I’m good at empathizing with moms of all ages because whether our kids are in diapers or in dorm rooms, we all want to be better at giving ourselves a break. They said that I’ve given us all a rally cry. A cry that says that our best is enough for our families. A cry that says we don’t have to live the lies that we believe about ourselves. A cry that says no matter what, we’ve got great moments in each and every day to celebrate and we can stand tall in that victory.

Ummm, wow.  But guess what I forgot today? The rally cry. The mission. The words that I often write to you. And the words that I truly believe with my whole heart. I’m a good mom. So are you.

So in case you’re having a night like I am right now…a night where instead of counting victories, blessings, or even mediocre success, you’re counting all of the ways you’ve failed. Let’s talk.

  • Replace the word should. “I shouldn’t have yelled at her.” “I should have put her Halloween party on my calendar.” “I shouldn’t be sitting in the bath right now being mean to myself.” Instead of using the word should, use the word could. It’s a lot more empowering and creates space for making some changes. “I could have controlled my temper. Next time, I’ll try to walk away for a brief cool-down.” “I could have put her Halloween party on my calendar. In the next 2 days, I’ll find her school calendar and add every event in so I’m prepared.” “I could allow myself to feel some grief over my mistakes, but then I’ll forgive myself and move on.”

  • Tell yourself the truth. It doesn’t take a genius to read through my list of mistakes and figure out what lies I’m believing about myself and my situation. And you know what lies do? They steal our joy, our confidence, and our peace. Replacing the lies with the truth, one by one, will send a new wave of peace and clarity our way. This is something I’ve been practicing (and am soon to reveal an AMAZING tool that can help us master this!)

  • Invite Jesus and someone else into your mess. Maybe don’t invite a friend into the literal bathtub with you (#awkward), but the quiet moments are perfect to have a little chat with Jesus about how you’re feeling and ask for His wisdom. Ask Him to tell you the truth about who you are. And then find a time to share your struggle with a trusted friend. Nothing makes you feel more alone than keeping your mess to yourself. Be brave and bring someone in who can speak lovingly to your pain.

Hey, mama. Take it from me, a mama who just wasted an entire evening in a shame spiral…it’s not worth it. Count the good stuff instead. Say out loud that you are Mother of the Year. Shout the rally cry that your best is enough for your family! You’ve got this.

If you need reminders of your awesomeness, sign up for my email list and be sure to join the Facebook group!

How To Punch Fear in the Face

“I just want to have a good night.”

That’s what I think EVERY. SINGLE. AFTERNOON. on my way to pick up the kids from daycare. That’s not too much to ask, right?! A few hours of family bliss. Hugs and snuggles. Sure, the occasional time-out when necessary, but let’s just all get along.

Well, that wasn’t tonight. I knew we were off to a bad start when Josie wouldn’t let me look at her when I picked her up from daycare. Yes, you read that right. She wouldn’t even allow me to watch her get into her car seat and buckle up. And, of course, as the parent, I don’t follow her rules because she doesn’t get to make the rules.

Disaster ensued.

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But I was able to channel something that felt a lot like confidence. I was peaceful, even as she was losing her mind. And I think I know where that came from.

Last night, I stood in front of a hundred people – spotlight shining, mic booming, and cameras rolling – to share my story of creating this whole Mother of the Year movement. I was scared to death. (So nervous, in fact, that the day before, I was so full of self-doubt about speaking that I had myself convinced I was so inadequate that I couldn’t even buy a shirt at the mall. It’s quite the leap, but I’m sure you’ve been there with something equally as ridiculous!) But once I hit that stage, that sweet peaceful confidence took over. I stepped right through that fear to tell the crowd the same truth that I try to tell myself every day.

I told every single person there that their best is enough for their families. That they didn’t have to love every minute of motherhood to love their kids well. That they are great mothers (or fathers, grandparents, sisters, etc.).

Tonight, I believed that for myself.

And that’s what made a difference in my parenting. Maybe I was still riding that high, but I figured if I could push through fear last night and experience something life-giving and amazing in front of a crowd, then I could push through the fear of not having a good night with my kids to be the confident, tough, loving mother that my firecracker daughter needed tonight.

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Some takeaways:

  • It’s not about perfection. I flubbed and ad-libbed a few times in my 10-minutes on stage last night. And I waffled a bit tonight, too. Perfection is not what ushers in the peace.

  • Replace the lies with the truth. The gremlins in our heads will give a pretty powerful performance, convincing us that the mean and horrible things only we would think of ourselves are actually true. They aren’t. And the sooner we can spot the lies and replace them with the truth, the more peaceful we will be.

  • Get to know yourself. Seriously, as soon as I started on my journey of discovering and naming the unique parts of my personality, my passions, my drive, I truly believe God kept calling me step by step into my future. I started a blog, got back on the radio, and launched the Mother of the Year movement. But more than those “accomplishments”, I was able to see that how God put me together wasn’t an accident. That my empathy is more blessing than curse. That my gift of storytelling has actually been one of my strengths my entire life. And the list goes on. THE BEST PART: the more I know about myself, the better mother I am! (If this sounds interesting to you, and you want to know more about starting this journey, I’d love to invite you to an event that could seriously change your life!)

The best things in life are waiting for us on the other side of fear. For me, I may always be scared that I’m going to ruin my kids one way or the other, but I hope I keep walking through that fear to parent from a place of peace. And I will probably always be shaking in my boots before I speak in front of a crowd, but you better believe I’m going to find a way back to that spotlight and shout it from the roof tops that You Are MOTHER OF THE YEAR!

And you want to talk about peace? How about putting your 4-year-old to bed at 6:15 p.m. I mean, that’s real peace right there! 

So what’s it for you? Is fear or peace shaping your motherhood?

P.S. I’m working on some AMAZING resources for you to help us sort through all of this! Join my email list, and you’ll be the first to know!