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.