Sit at the Feet of Jesus| By Kristen Mamou

“I am not ready,” was my first thought when my alarm went off.

The day before had been trying, to say the least. It was one of those days my children had been “off the chain.” One kid had undecorated the Christmas tree, another colored on my hall closet door (the one you see when you first walk in my house, yep that one), and my once barely clean house was in shambles.

I drove to Michael’s later that same evening with my hubby and kids in tow. We got in the store, and I realized I put the keys in the diaper bag and then decided not to bring the diaper bag in. Yeah, you guessed it. We were locked out of the car.

When we finally made it home, way later than expected, my frustration level was at an all time high, my taunting insecurities rising up. I quickly put everyone in bed, and I followed shortly.

All of these memories from just the day before flooded my mind as I hit the 6:10 AM snooze button. I was already aggravated, and the day had not even started.  

Have you ever been there before? You have not even started your day, and you are already frustrated and aggravated. 

I turned on some worship music and began to try and quiet my spirit. I had no words to pray, but just reminded God that today I needed his grace and strength. 

This scripture came to me: “My grace is sufficient, my strength is made perfect in your weakness.” 2 Corinthian 12:9 (NIV)

Mommying (as I call it) is hard. If you are married, being a wife is hard. Just holding down your job and career is hard.

There are days where I am sure you feel like me and that, no matter how hard you try, you are failing, falling short of your goals. God reminds me in those times that it is when His grace is most evident in my life.

Those times are when He wants me to lean on Him. 

James 1:2 (KJV), reminds us to “count it all joy when we go through trials and temptations, because it works patience in us.” 

The day to day life trials are designed to work patience inside of us, but even more so, to draw us closer to God. I know I need His strength and His grace to be the mom, wife, and ministry leader He has called me to be. I cannot do it without Him, so it forces me to be right where He wants me all along sitting at His feet.

Sitting at the feet of Jesus is where I find grace, strength, and His wisdom to get through my day, to be a wife, a mom, and the many other hats that I wear. As I sit at His feet, He reminds me who I am and whose I am. I can vanquish the lies of the enemy in His presence, those insecurities begin to fade away as He reminds me that His banner over me is love.

Today, I do not know what you are going through or what trials you are facing, but I can tell you that His grace is sufficient for you.

Stop, take a moment and just sit at His feet. As the hustle and bustle of the holiday season come to an end, do not be like Martha so busy that you do not have time to sit at the feet of Jesus. Today, take the time to sit as His feet and allow Him to strengthen you and give you His grace to be what He has called you to be. 

If we are going to be successful mamas, wives, career women, or whatever our title may be, let us choose the best thing, sitting at the feet of Jesus.

The Reason for the Season| By Emily Lawson

I’m a procrastinator. Majorly! Doomed forever into a life of rushing and running ragged. 

Though usually much better in previous years, this last week, I’ve done ALL of my Christmas shopping (we buy for around forty people!) and put up the Christmas tree. Like I said, I’m a procrastinator! 

My mind has been on what this person would like, where this present needs to go, how much wrapping paper I need to get, do I have bows, do I have enough flour for cookies, what day is that happening? 

But when I took the time to read the story of Jesus’ birth recently, I realized something I had missed. 

I hadn’t taken the time to appreciate the meaning of the season. 

In previous years, I have been able to enjoy the week before Christmas. Seeing the lights, liking my tree, wrapping the gifts, baking cookies, and starting to think about the season and its actual meaning. 

Christ’s birth. The salvation plan beginning.

This past weekend, my church’s youth group had a Christmas play based on the Innkeeper’s perspective of the birth of Jesus, and all the regrets he had after that night. 

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7 (KJV)

A thirty minute play, and the moral of the story being that the world STILL makes no room for Jesus. 

We are rushing to get to work. We are rushing to get home. We are rushing to make time for friends, family, get togethers, birthday parties, and more. 

And, the world has forgotten that this life is about more than “going”. 

Think about it, they didn’t have ultrasounds and pregnancy apps when Mary was pregnant. She knew that pregnancy was about nine months and she was due soon, but they still had to go pay taxes. 

And the Bible says in Luke 2:6 that “while they were there, the days were accomplished”. Can you imagine the panic of finding some place to have your baby? And a first time mom, wanting everything to be perfect? The anxiety that must have been going through her as she had to resort to a manger to birth the SON OF GOD! That definitely was NOT in the birth plan she had made! 

However, I also know, that as soon as that baby was born, she knew that all was okay. She knew that it didn’t matter where he was born, and she knew exactly where her priorities were. She was saved by His presence. Stolen away from the anxiety, worry, and worldly needs and wants of the moment. 

Good news! This world can be also! 

Being in his presence is the best present of all this holiday season.

Let Him wash that anxiety of getting everything perfect for the holidays away, and let Him set your focus. His birth is the reason for the season, and everything else falls behind. 

Giving is a wonderful thing to do for Christmas each year, but let’s also each TAKE the time this holiday season to sit with Him and thank Him for the gift of His coming!

Millennial Mom, a Million Worries| By Tori Savoy

I always knew motherhood could be overwhelming, but little did I know that it began as soon as you become pregnant.

I thought, “I have a whole nine months to prepare.” 

However, nine months is not enough. 

There are so many things to consider and worry about when it comes to growing a life inside you. They tell you to keep your weight within a certain range, and each time you step on the scale you want to cry in defeat. My pregnancy book says to eat at least 8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day to make sure my baby gets the proper nutrients. I start each day planning to do this, but in the beginning, the nausea was overwhelming and all I wanted was to drive and get some french fries. Now that I am later in my pregnancy, I am too tired to grocery shop or meal prep. 

Somehow I expect myself to workout just as hard and often as I did before pregnancy. Several other moms have done it, right? But what about this paralyzing headache, lack of energy, and oh, the occasional cramps? Could I hurt my baby more with my intense workouts?

The mom guilt is real, and the pressure is on.

Then there are all the things to consider for when the baby arrives. What carrier is safest? Breastfed versus formula? Is your baby’s mattress free of chemicals? 

Do not even ask for other mom’s opinions on the best stroller, you will get 20 completely different suggestions. 

Preparing for motherhood is even more stressful in this day and age with social media glamorizing motherhood or trolls demeaning mothers on their choices. Not to mention the ever-changing research you can find online for just about every topic.

Be sure to get your vaccines while pregnant and have everyone around you vaccinate, or you are dooming your child to death. 

Having a son? Be ready to be mom-shamed or called a “monster” over your circumcision choice. 

Bonus points if you post a breastfeeding photo to your instagram to empower women. 

However, be ready for negative comments no matter what side of these arguments you fall on. 

Before you know it, your due date is quickly approaching, and your to-do list is several pages long. You have baskets full of clothes to wash (who knew you needed to wash brand new clothes??), last minute items to shop for, and your “pinterest-perfect” nursery to complete. 

With all these lists and expectations, it is so hard to enjoy the beauty that comes with pregnancy like the sweet little kicks, imagining who your little one will grow up to be and who he/she will look like, and the excitement of becoming a mother. 

While I am a fan of making lists, sometimes it really does take some of the fun out of things.

I must admit, it is so easy for lists, expectations and other people’s opinions to directly impact my everyday walk with God. 

I make lists of how I think I need to live my life (30-minutes of intimate worship, three Bible chapters a day, long-drawn out prayer time). But ultimately, this can quickly become overwhelming, and also puts God in a box.

I can easily spend hours reading other people’s opinions on God’s word, Christian life, and even politics. When I compare my Christian walk with others, I either end up feeling prideful or incompetent, quite like when we compare ourselves to other mothers.

Instead, I should be soaking up every moment God has created. While He is in that 30-minutes of quiet time I set aside, I have to be always listening in the simple and mundane tasks of each day. 

Sometimes, we just need to throw out lists, expectations and the opinions of others that so easily overwhelm and just soak up the beauty of being a child of God. 

Psalms 46:10, God says “Be still and know that I am God.”

He is there in the stillness, not the checklists that keep us busy or our ability to be a “perfect Christian.”

Whether you are overwhelmed by pregnancy and motherhood, or your walk as a Christian, I want to encourage you to just take a moment to soak up each and every moment. Deplug from your mommy forums or pull away from those to-do lists. You are doing the best you can, and what matters the most is that you are present in the moment. 

Your child is not going to spontaneously combust because you do not use 100 percent organic products, and God is not going to strike you down because you chose to skip tonight’s reading for some much needed worship time.

Your child needs your affection more than a spotless house, and God wants your heart over how many chapters you can breeze through in your Bible plan. 

Drop the lists and all the overwhelming opinions, and be still. You got this momma! 

“When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.” Psalms 142:3 (NIV)

Good News| By Emily Lawson

I had to wake the Kraken.

It was 6 p.m. (bedtime is 8 p.m.), and the baby was an hour into a deep nap. 

It was time.

And it was not a pretty sight. 

Wailing because he was being held too high. Whining because he was too reclined. Throwing of food and pacifiers because he 

JUST.

WASN’T.

HAPPY.

So, sucking it up, I took the usual mama’s boy, outside to his daddy. 

And there it was – 

A smile. 

And just like that, all was right in the world. 

Later that night (after bedtime) as I was doing my daily studying, I came across these words:

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalms 16:11 (KJV)

Just like my son, perking up from a bad mood when he saw his father, we, as Christians, gain joy just by being in the presence of our Heavenly Father.

The news is full of negativity – this group hating this group, a shooting here and an assault there. 

This world can be a scary place. 

But I have GOOD news for each and every one of you! 

We are not meant to be part of this world! We are set apart (Psalm 4:3). We are a peculiar people (Deuteronomy 14:2).

We have been chosen by the One and Only God, and in turn, we must choose to keep our Godly mindset. 

Philippians 4:8 (KJV) says, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” 

True.

Honest.

Just.

Pure.

Lovely.

Of good report.

Virtuous.

Worthy of praise. 

It is all outlined word-for-word for us. It is not about making daily difficult decisions. It is the simple task of choosing to observe the good things in life, both in the world and in our spiritual walk.  

Did you hear about all the people that flooded to the Bahamas to help with the hurricane destruction? Did you hear about the 16,000 people that crashed the University of Tennessee website after they began selling a bullied teens’ T-shirt design? 

Good news is out there. 

Yes, this world is full of bad things. Many are unavoidable to a point. But, what we choose to let in, what we choose to dwell on, and what we choose to allow to define our actions, is what determines our view of our surroundings and our mindset. 

Galatians 5:22-23(KJV) says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” 

It is not a one way street. We are given the blessing of love to share, joy to spread, peace within, longsuffering through the hard times that we are bound to face when we choose to dwell on God and to let Him define us! 

And just like the quick change in attitude with my son, when we get ourselves in the presence of the Father, physically and mentally, He will always choose us. He will provide us with that missing piece. 

We just have to choose Him first.

A Mother’s Redemption| By Amanda Maduell

image2 (2)As I lay and watch my two-year-old sleep, it is hard to believe that not long ago he started out as a tiny “blip” on the monitor. As I laid on the exam table at my OBGYN office, tears of guilt, shame, and fear rolled down my cheeks. This is not the reaction that any woman deserves to have as she experiences the expected arrival of her first child. A woman’s heart should be full of joy, love, and excitement during this time. My story is not the same.

For I know the plans I have for you ,”declares the LORD, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Everyone knows this Bible verse as it has become so incredibly popular, but it is so much more to me. This verse was my bread and butter. I had it saved on my phone screen saver for my entire pregnancy. Every time I was in despair, God reminded me of this message.

When I was encouraged by the father of my child to have an abortion, I turned to God and this verse.

I would think to myself, “God created this life inside of me, and He already knows the plans for it! How could someone want to throw this away?”

“For you formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13-14

I knew from the beginning that abortion was never an option for me, but I could not convince the father of my child to feel the same way. I thank God everyday for giving me His strength to see through and overcome that. I agreed that I would trust God, and I would wear the shame of my sin in front of me, whether the father of my child was willing to stand by me or not.

I have to admit that it was not easy.

At times, the enemy convinced me to believe that it was me. That I was not good enough or worthy enough for this person, and that this is what I deserved for committing these sins. But again that was just the enemy.

I felt lonely from the outright rejection that was displayed toward my unborn child, and I was immersed in pain. I wanted nothing more than to be loved, appreciated, and respected by the person whom I had created life with. I experienced just the opposite.

I remember coming home from working one of my two jobs and crying so hard in my bathroom that I would vomit. I lived alone, and I was too ashamed to reach out to many of my friends, I felt as though I had, “brought this upon myself.” I was scared of the unknown, I was scared of what people would think of me for having a baby without a father, I was scared of being another, “single mom statistic”, and worst of all, I was scared that I would never be able to trust or love again.

I was disappointed in myself for taking a chance on someone who had consecutively lied about his commitment. I had become so consumed in sins of the flesh. Although I considering myself a “Christian”, I still thought it was okay to have sex with my ex-boyfriend. I justified it by telling myself, “we were in love”, and because we, as adults, have “needs.”

However, I was reminded that God has a purpose for us. Although we may not always understand it, the Bible clearly states that His plan is solid. God knows before we sin against Him, and He still sends His love and grace down upon us in ways we don’t even realize in the moment. For some, like myself, it takes “struggles” like this for us to see God’s unfailing love and mercy for us.

“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” Jonah 2:2

Before my son was born, I picked the name Jonah after reading the short book of Jonah in the Bible. In Jonah’s story, he disobeyed God, and he was swallowed by a big fish. He prayed to God and asked for forgiveness from inside the fish. After three days, the Lord had the fish spit Jonah out, and he was forgiven.

Jonah knew that he was disobeying God by not following his instructions to go to the city of Nineveh and speak out against its wickedness. Just as I knew that I was disobeying God by continuing a sinful relationship with my son’s father. I felt as though going through an unplanned pregnancy without the father was my storm.

However, the birth of my son was my forgiveness, my redemption, and my second chance. We are children of a loving and forgiving God. I cried out to him at my lowest point, when I experienced the rejection, fear, and disappointment, He forgave me and restored me by allowing me to be the mother of one of His precious children.

After the birth of Jonah, The Lord continued to be the father that my child and I deserve, time and time again. Just when I reach my breaking point he catches me and says, “Trust me.”

Two years later, my son and I are doing great. I am blessed with phenomenal parents who were there for me during my pregnancy and birth of my son and also now. I am part of a women’s group, and I just signed a mortgage on our first home. All of this is possible because we are the children of a perfect and faithful God who has a perfect way for us, even when we can see no way for ourselves. 

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When My Steps Fail Me| By Stephanie Cain

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Breastfeeding is hard. Those who have tried know this already, but if you haven’t yet, let me just reassert that breastfeeding is hard. Before I had my son, I had this image in my mind of breastfeeding him. There I was in a softly lit room, my child lying peacefully in my arms, me glowing while I looked blissfully down at him and my hair magically blowing in the same imaginary breeze that is featured in the Pantene commercials.

It was beautiful.

It was also no where near the reality! The reality was that I had a strong-willed, independent child right out of the gate. He is very independent, does not like to be confined, and is strong physically and mentally.

So here is what the reality was more like: me in my barely lit bedroom at two in the morning, trying to guide my sons head to the milk, and him with his head shoved in one direction (inevitably the wrong one). He was convinced he knew where the milk was and how to get to it!

During one such moment, I remember saying to him, “Son, if you would just let me guide you, this would be so much easier! I know where the food is, let me help you!”

I felt the Holy Spirit jump inside of me. He had been trying to tell me the same thing.

When we come to a fork in the road or a difficult situation, our human nature is to pick what we think is the right direction and go head first down that path. However, we cannot see all the way down those paths. We can’t know for certain what comes from going “that direction” in our lives. The good news is that we are in the hands of the One who does!

The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:11 that the Lord knows the plans He has for us and that they are plans to prosper us, to give us hope, and a future! It also says in Isaiah 58:11:

“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

The Lord is ready, willing, and oh so capable of guiding our steps. However, we have to allow Him to guide us. We have to relinquish that tiny bit of “control” we feel we have. It is a hard thing to do, but if you think about it, whose hands would you rather your future be in? Yours or the hands of the Creator of the Universe?  

We, myself included, have to make the daily (sometimes moment by moment) decision to remind ourselves to rest in Him and in His promises, to seek Him for guidance, and to trust that He is faithful in all things. It is not always an easy thing to relinquish control and trust in the Lord. I struggle with it daily. BUT if we do, there is joy, overwhelming love, and indescribable peace that will flood our spirit like an overflowing fountain and an abundant life waiting for us.

Cheerios on the Floor| By Rachel Lukinovich

 

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Laundry to be folded, dishes in the sink, stuff all over the counter, and cheerios, occasionally crushed, spread randomly throughout the floor.

Does the cycle ever end?

The life of a stay-at-home mom seems over-glorified and desired by many. It has truly been one of the biggest blessings for me to be home with my two precious girls every single day, but like everything else in life, it definitely comes with its challenges.

However, when I am faced with challenges, I hold onto these two words – embrace and appreciate. The not so easy days in motherhood have allowed this to be the best ride on my spiritual journey with Jesus thus far. I have learned to embrace and accept. God has used my children, my weaknesses, and so much more, to reveal His pure and beautiful heart to me. I wouldn’t trade one second of it for the world.   

One area I find challenging is housework, the dreaded word to a stay-at-home mom. I am not a huge neat freak, but with the amount of company that comes to our house, I have always prided on having a clean, peaceful home, so everyone could see how nice and put together it was.

Did I say “it”? Really, I need to drop the “T,” leaving only the letter “I”.

I somehow came to believe that my house was a display of how together I was. Sometimes I really was doing well and could keep my house completely in order, but other times, it felt like such a huge burdensome task that never ended, and left me feeling overwhelmed and defeated. You may not be a stay-at-home mom, but I bet you can relate.

It wasn’t until recently, as I was on my knees before the Lord pouring out my heart, that my mind started to wander into thinking about the endless list of things to do. I was likely telling God how I felt I couldn’t keep up with it all, but regardless of what I said, His response is all that I can truly remember—

“The cheerios on the floor are not what define you. I only care about the cheerios in your heart. Are there cheerios in your heart? Do you have mounds of laundry needed to fold in your heart? Is there clutter in your heart? This is what defines you.”

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11

Freedom was released to me in that moment. A freedom that allowed me to breathe and not be overwhelmed when the house is not completely straightened. More importantly, a freedom to actively pursue what should overwhelm and consume me most – the presence of Jesus.

We all have pressures to perform to some degree in our lives. With new added challenges, it only increases the pressure and feelings of being unqualified. Most of us want to perform to this sometimes unrealistic standard we place on ourselves so we can feel accomplished and feel good about ourselves. It is like you somehow have it all together, and if you don’t, then “you need to get yourself together.”

“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” Ephesians 4:7

Gracethe word we all need to hear, receive, and accept. Although we should strive to do our best outwardly, it’s the condition of the heart that determines if “we have it all together” or not. Daily repenting and in return receiving His love, His grace, and doing the best we can with what God has given us – This is where our freedom lies. Let the challenges come, and accept and embrace them by knowing and growing in Him and His grace.

“But grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

I Am Not A Single Mom| By Chrystol O’Connor

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I’m not a single mom. I have several roles, and single and mother are just two of them. I hate when there are categories that I am forced to fall under. I am a sister, a teacher, a student, a daughter, a woman, a mother, an American, and most importantly a child a GOD.

Indeed, I am a single mother. I have a five- year-old daughter that brings absolute joy to my life. Just like every other role in my life, this too has its challenges. Being a mother is not easy, especially when you do it alone.

Of course, sometimes we receive help, a great support system or awesome parents who help make the load feel lighter. I, for one, am one of those single moms. I have great supportive parents and lots of sisters, which means several built in sitters.

But, it is still not an easy yoke to carry. I dealt with feeling inadequate as a mother, crazy, afraid, and shameful because when I got pregnant with my daughter I was involved in church.OH MY GOSH, yes, all in church. Shame and regret were things that I carried in my heart for a long time.

The enemy comes at us in so many different areas especially when raising a warrior for the kingdom. God has had to come and remind me so many times of my value regardless of past mistakes. I am reminded of this scripture 1 Peter 2:9:

“But you are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into wonderful light.”

Even though it doesn’t have everything to do with me being a single mom, it signifies what God has done in my life. It reminds me of the redemption that took place in me when I had my daughter.

I decided to live for Christ shortly after finding out I was pregnant, perfect timing right? I had a daughter to set an example for and God had proven himself so faithful when she was still in my womb. I am forever grateful for the grace and mercy that was showered over me while I was bearing proof of my sin in my stomach.

Maybe you’re reading this, and you’re a single mother. I want to inform you that there is hope. GOD is truly so faithful. I look back at my past struggles and some of the seasons and changes God brought me through, and I realized He was walking with me the entire time. Just like me, you are a daughter of the most high God, and nothing can separate you from His love– no past mistakes, no past pain or hurts, no regret or shame.