Blog

#allthemoms

I was sitting on a bench at the park with a mom-friend having my only adult conversation of the day. Our kids were climbing the tornado slide and shooting hoops independently while we sat and took a break from mothering. Another mom sat across the park from us… in the sand, digging, laughing, and playing with her kids. Soon she got up, put her little boy on her shoulders while pushing a stroller up a hill.

We sat there watching her amazing mom efforts from our cozy restful bench, and I felt a little humbled by her obvious mothering prowess.

“You’re my hero!” I said to the woman who seemed to have more energy than me and my friend combined.

“Oh, I just finally have a day off to be with my kids! Gotta soak it up.” she said waiving off my compliment.

That little moment reminded me that there is no place for comparison in mothering. We are all struggling either inwardly or externally to be the best mom for our kids. And we are all amazing.  For some of us that means taking a break on the bench for sanity, and for some it means being present and playing in the sand.

We are all struggling either inwardly or externally to be the best mom for our kids. And we are all amazing. 

I’ve been on both sides of the mom coin. I’ve been a full-time working mom who misses her kid so much she doesn’t want to go anywhere on the weekends because she wants to soak in every moment with those little snuggle bugs. And I’ve been a stay at home mom who plays all day long and needs her little snuggle bugs to play independently at the park because she’s needs an adult moment.

No matter what way you do it, mothering is the best, hardest, most rewarding, and most emotionally challenging role in a woman’s life. It is full of tender moments that are only experienced between you and your child. And it is full of worry, self-doubt, and fear that you are doing it all wrong or not doing it as well as the next mom.

No matter what way you do it, mothering is the best, hardest, most rewarding, and most emotionally challenging role in a woman’s life.

Here’s some of what I want to say to all my mom friends out there… 

To my pre-moms who are are trying to get pregnant and struggling or who are pregnant and are hyper worried. You are already a good mom because you already love your someday baby and are already wishing and hoping and praying for it’s future. The pregnancy journey can be lonely and long, but God is there to listen to every worry, fear,  or doubt. You will be amazing!

To my SAHMoms of littles who are just plain exhausted. Keep going. Your love and snuggles and never-ending days will be short-lived, but you will smile when you look back on these days and your kids will remember all that you do. Take care of your heart so you can take care of your littles. Know that for you and your life, you are the only person God wanted to take care of those littles which means less of yourself and more of son-2935723_1920them right now. But it’s worth it and you are simply amazing.

To my working mom friends who are equally exhausted. You are loving your kids just as much and you are building confidence in their little hearts as they see you rockin’ it at whatever you do. I remember when my mom finished college in my teen years with high marks and got her first job at a bank. I had never been more proud of her in my life and I told everyone about her accomplishments. She has been my biggest cheerleader in school, and a listening ear for all my dreams in life– no matter how crazy they are. Working moms, you are simply amazing.

To my moms of teens who are just plain lost in the world of adolescence and are hanging on to motherhood by prayers and God’s wisdom. We are here with you to listen and pray and encourage you. Please remember the lessons you learn on this journey and pass them down to us moms of littles. We will need your help soon! You are our role models. Stay strong. You are amazing!

people-2566854_1920

To my single mom friends. You are stronger than anyone I know. You do it all. Often times with no recognition or help. You are master jugglers of work, school, kids, and emotions. You are so strong that sometimes it’s hard for you to accept help and support. But we are with you. We are for you. We are amazed by you as you lead your people in love.

To my moms of kids that face big challenges— kids who suffer from physical illnesses,  learning struggles, mental, emotional, or social battles. It’s just plain harder. I wish I could take some of your burden and lighten your worry load. But the only thing I know is that our God is bigger and stronger than anything that our kids will face. When you feel out of control, He is in control. Let God be God of every moment that feels too big or too much, and let yourself just be you, amazing and wonderful you.

And to my grandmas and mother-in-laws out there. Simply where would we be without you??? We are so thankful for all the meals, hugs, help, love, and wisdom you have filled us with. You tell us we can do it and we believe you. You lift us up when we feel like we have nothing else. You bring coffee and smiles and sanity to our lives. You invest your time in your grandkids when you could be off doing your own thing. You make this mothering business so much lighter and remind us to keep focused on what’s important. You are simply amazing.

I have so much love for all you moms out there. In a world that tells you you are not enough, I just wanted to tell you that you are amazing.

Happy Mother’s Day!

-andrea

Phones vs. Farmer Wave

One arm is out the window basking in sunshine, the other on the wheel. There’s cornfields to my left and a pickup about to pass. I look him in the face as I go by and my pointer finger lifts from the wheel. His does too. Just being seen makes me smile.

My whole life I’ve known that interaction as “the farmer wave”. It’s simple, but there’s something so sweet about it. I’m proud to come from a place where we still acknowledge the presence of another person with a smile, a door held open, or even a farmer wave.

Still, I find the art of seeing people fading even in my town.

If I were the enemy I would think it’s pretty awesome that I can stop an entire generation from looking at each other — from really seeing each other.

I see kids get off the bus-stop with their heads in their phones instead of laughing with friends. Waiting rooms filled with parents staring at screens instead of comforting their child. Whole families at restaurants with devices instead of building memories.

Phones aren’t the devil. The devil is the devil. But if I were the enemy I would think it’s pretty awesome that I can stop an entire generation from looking at each other — from really seeing each other. Just by putting a phone in their hand.

break-2297835_1920

Because if the enemy can stop us from seeing each other, he can stop us from caring about each other. 

And I can write this because I am so guilty. It hurts my heart that my kids have heard, “Just a second…” while I finish a text instead of looking at their sweet faces as they talk to me. Or the fact that sometimes it’s just easier to sit on the couch with my phone than engage in conversation with my husband at the end of a long day.

What makes me want to change is knowing that Jesus’ love for us begins with the fact that He SEES us and He loves us. In fact, scripture is peppered with Jesus seeing and moving in love, compassion, healing, forgiveness, or acceptance.

“Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well” (Matthew 9:22 ESV).

Matthew 9:20-22 shows us one example of how Jesus acts when He sees us…

“And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment,21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well” (Matthew 9:20-22).

I looked up the original Greek for “seeing her” in verse 22 in Strong’s Concordance at Biblehub.com. It means not only to see with the eyes, but that Jesus saw her on a deeper level with his Spirit.

He really saw her.

Jesus understood her. He immediately knew the aching of her spirit. He shared in her pain. You know that feeling when you hurt in your heart for someone you love because they are hurting? He felt that for her because He saw her in her suffering.

He sees us that way too, down to the core of our being. And as his people, we can’t stop truly seeing others. We have to keep our eyes up so our hearts can see people and love them deeply like Jesus.

book-bindings-3176776_1920Journal reflections:

Who needs you to really see them today?

Who is God putting on your heart to reach out to no matter how crazy it may be? See them and make a move to love them today.

Enduring Motherhood

It’s 5:45AM and I’m wiping puke off the toilet. He didn’t quite get there. Two hours before his sister was up scared needing a 5th tuck in. Two hours after puke, his little brother wants to watch Lion Guard. And I am defeated before the day begins. I’m not sure I have the endurance for this day, but I have a choice to make.

Will I grumble through the day? Or will I endure with grace and love following Jesus through the landmines.

And a verse comes to my mind.

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young,” (Isaiah 40:11 NIV).

I stood in my bathroom, one of the only places I can lock the door for a moment and pray those words back to him. Jesus you say you gently lead mothers and I need you to do that today. I need you because I can’t do this day well without you. 

There is something so sacred and precious about the fact that our God sees us mothers and carries us close to his heart. He knows the humble and sometimes exhausting job we have to do. He sees our day and He honors it in his Word saying that He will gently lead us.

Gently. There’s no shove into perfection. No jab when we get it wrong. No guilt-trip that we’re not enough. No. Jesus is an opposite dose of everything the world around us is handing out. He gathers us to himself, carries us close, and gently leads when we surrender our day to him.

Jesus is an opposite dose of everything the world around us is handing out.

I think of you, friend, and what battles you face today. Whether it’s a whole bunch of little moments needing your attention, or a seemingly impossible giant ahead of you. At some point we all will have a day when we stretch ourselves to meet the needs of the people we care for. I pray that you remember Isaiah 40:11 on that day.

That God cares about all the little and big battles. He sees you and is with you especially when it’s hard. He tucks us in close and helps us endure.

 

book-bindings-3176776_1920Journal reflections:

When have you felt God carrying you in the past?

In what circumstances do you need God to gently lead you today?

Read Isaiah 40:11 again. What hits you? What soothes you? What is God saying to you?

 

 

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

The Power of Truth

I listen to the world too much. As I do, I feel my wheels going off the track in motherhood, in womanhood, and in faith. I’m done listening. I’m ready to be the one talking. Ready to fight back with Truth.

If you are a believer in Christ there is a battle going on over you. Over this day ahead of you. Maybe you think I’m over dramatic for saying that, but if we don’t believe it then we’ve already lost because we’ve already lost truth.

We have to know there is a fight going on, and who it’s against before we can start swingin’.

Paul puts it this way, “Finally be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the…powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:10-12 NIV).

We have to know there is a fight going on, and who it’s against before we can start swingin’. Otherwise we miss the target.

I admit, I have swung and missed on dark days. I have jabbed fellow warriors with my words or unkind spirit when I should’ve been saving that energy to fight the real enemy. But sometimes it feels like the fight never ends. I need reinforcements.

That’s why Paul reminded us to be strong in Jesus not ourselves. Because our power runs out, but Jesus has more than enough of all that we need for our day.

“…and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…” (Ephesians 6:13-14) NIV.

God has been pressing on me the importance of holding tight to truth lately. That when the days are long and all of our energy is worn out, God’s truth in the Bible gets us back on track. God’s Word fights back for us in our minds and spirits.

Paul continues saying, “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” (6:16-17 NIV).

I used to think when I opened my Bible it would be too confusing or all I would find was condemnation. But instead I find the Truth.

Truth that I am a loved child of God, that He has and will continue to fight for His daughter, and that Jesus is enough even when I am not. But I had to open up my Bible to find that truth. To believe it down in my gut I had to read it for myself.

I had to open up my Bible to find that truth. To believe it down in my gut I had to read it for myself.

I don’t know who or what you are fighting today, but I know God wanted me to remind you to hold to HIS truth. The truth that says you are not alone in the fight. Jesus has an ample supply of courage and strength for your day. So when you’ve done all you can to stand up straight today, dear friend. Stand firm then in Jesus.

 

Journal reflections:book-bindings-3176776_1920

How have you swung and missed?

What truth is God asking you to trust in today?

Open your Bible to the book of Ephesians. Write down verses that hit you as important and use them for battle!

 

 

 

 

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

I love Jesus but…

I love Jesus, but I cuss a little. I just about died laughing when I read the sign my friend gave me for my writing desk. Then she told me why she bought it for me– because even if we love Jesus we have to remind ourselves daily of some important truths.

Like how Jesus never required perfection.

Most of the people Jesus chose to reveal himself to were very far from perfect

In fact most of the people Jesus chose to reveal himself to were very far from perfect, and less than glamorous. Instead of the righteous Pharisees, His friends started out as social outcasts, murderers, prostitutes, low class fisherman — anyone who wanted more out of life than striving for an invisible goal of perfection.

Because Jesus is our perfection. And we get to breath in a sigh of relief knowing our job is not to prove how good we are, but to live in the grace He won on the cross everyday.

I have been memorizing and resting in Ephesians 2:4-5 lately. Paul writes, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

And He pursued us in our darkest moment, not in our shiniest.

I don’t think we can remind ourselves enough of these truths. God is rich in mercy, not stingy. He has great love for you and me, not just enough to squeak by. And He pursued us in our darkest moment, not in our shiniest.IMG_4918

So we live loved by Jesus and knowing that his grace covers the battles we lost. Claiming that He won’t give up on us, but will keep fighting alongside us until we are filled with his love and mercy. And that is what will make us new and whole.

I don’t know about you, but that is good news for me.

 

 

For You to really live

My belief of the significance of Easter was missing a key element for a long time. I wasn’t hung up on if it all happened. I believed that Jesus died on the cross, conquered death and rose victorious the third day. I believed all the things you are taught in church…

I just didn’t believe Jesus did it for me.

In my mind it was true that Jesus was the Savior of the world, but I felt I personally was on the outside of God’s grace. 

Somehow my sin was too great for the cross. Or surely He wouldn’t have come all that way and suffered so immensely for a rebellious nobody from Nebraska living 2,000 years after the fact. In my mind it was true that Jesus was the Savior of the world, but I felt I was on the outside of grace not knowing or accepting it as my personal gift from God.

Until I needed it more than anything.

In early motherhood I needed the grace of God to be real for me personally. I was broken by anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, and stress. All I saw was black fog and I needed Jesus to be real and to be light not to the world, but to me.

The cross had to take away my junk because I couldn’t hold it any longer. Every day I need Jesus to remind me that I am loved, forgiven and free to just live without any conditions. Because Jesus came to set his Father’s kids free, not so they could keep trying to earn their own Salvation.

Jesus came to set his Father’s kids free, not so they could keep trying to earn their own Salvation.

Knowing that Jesus is for me personally changes everything about life. Really it has given me back back my life. It increases my joy, hope, and thankfulness while banishing fear and inadequacy.

So this Easter my prayer for us all is that we would continue to walk boldly in the freedom won on the cross. Claiming that we are…

FREE to accept love and grace personally from Christ.

FREE to forgive others with his strength and wisdom.

FREE from trying to work for the gift of Salvation.

FREE to believe in your core that God crossed the barrier of heaven and earth…

for you and me. So we could truly live.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10 NIV).

Fighting Fear

I’ve seen it a few times now. A huge ugly hawk floating through the air looking for something to eat. Then out of nowhere, a little bird climbs high. She gets above the menacing hawk, looks down, and dives straight into it– pecking at the hawk’s back. She does it again and again as many times as it takes to drive the predator away. She seems so fearless.

I stand there in the middle of the street looking up and silently rooting for the little bird– marveling at her courage to take on a beast five times her size. And I smile when the hawk gives up and flies away.IMG_3737

I want to be that little bird.

There have been times in my life that I was simply unprepared for scary events. I felt completely out of control and afraid. The threat was real. The fear was justified.

But that’s not how God wants us to live.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV).

As we face the unknown we have to face it knowing that we are not alone in it. We have His Spirit. You have the strength of GOD in you! And that means that we do not have to be afraid.

We may be small, but there is nothing that can scare our God. 

Sometimes we let fear feel more real than God’s power.

Sometimes we let fear feel more real than God’s power. Alone, we see the scary hawk and size it up. We know it’s bigger than us, so we assume it will overtake us. That it’s too big for us to conquer. But that is a lie.

As we climb higher and see the situation through God’s power we can see the truth. There is no health problem too big, no person too messed up, and no situation too far gone with the help of God. Our God is not afraid of the things we see as five times bigger than us. And so with His help, we climb high through prayer and attack fear.

With God we see the scary hawk’s weak spot. We start pecking from above at the enemy’s fear tactics with truth.

We start pecking from above at the enemy’s fear tactics with truth.

We pray. Telling God the truth that we are scared. We tell Him every fear, every what if, every possible troubling thought.

Peck. Peck. Peck.

We ask Him to remind us of His truth. That He loves us and we are His. (Ephesians 1:4-5) That He is with us no matter the outcome. That we have His power and strength within us through His Spirit to conquer anything. Anything. Because nothing can undo the love of God. Nothing. (Romans 8:18-37)

Peck. Peck. Peck.

We ask for His wisdom and power and help and ask Him to be with us– no matter what. And we believe in the truth that God hears us when we ask big things. (1 John 5:13-14) And that He cares about the outcome. He is right there with us as we peck away at all our fears.

Peck. Peck. Peck.

And slowly as we keep pecking away at our fears with God’s truths written on our hearts through His word, we drive away our fear and replace it with His peace.

Most importantly, when we see the big hawk give up and fly away, we remember to praise God for His love and endurance through the battle and for answering our call for help. And we tell everyone we know about how God showed up for us so that more little birds can be strong.

So be strong, little bird.

Detoxing the Soul

In high school I ate chips, candy, and a pop for lunch and didn’t think twice. Now I eat my veggies and drink hot tea like it’s my job. Even though my taste buds have matured and my body has grown strong, I still felt the need to detox. So before my 34th birthday I chugged purple liquid filled with antioxidents in an effort to clear my body of hidden toxins. And I couldn’t help but think, I wish I could drink a magic potion to detox my soul, too.

The toxins

No matter how careful we are, our bodies take in toxins every day from our environment — the air, our food, impure water. Likewise, our souls absorb toxins everyday. Even though we war against them, they attack our soul in the form of bitterness, jealousy, comparison, unforgiveness, greed… sin.

I don’t know about you, but I have had 33 imperfect years to build up gunk. I’ve tried to clear it all out by myself, but that doesn’t work because sin can get deep in our hearts. We need something stronger than our striving to penetrate to the core.

The Antioxident

In order to detox the body, you have to stop eating harmful foods. During that time of rest, you fill your body with things like blueberries, rasperries, and purple carrot that have antioxidents. These powerhouse foods find hidden impurities and cleanse you from the inside out.

He helps us identify and deal with our life toxins not to look better on the outside, but so we truly are healed on the inside.

Our soul antioxident is the Holy Spirit. He helps us identify and deal with our life toxins not to look better on the outside, but so we truly are healed on the inside. But first we have to stop eating the junk. We turn away from our broken ways and rest in the grace of God. We invite his Spirit to search our hearts and minds for impurities and change us from the inside out. This takes some guts. It takes desire for something bigger than ourselves. But it’s worth it.

New Cravings

When you clear out toxins, you start to crave different things. As crazy as it sounds, instead of sugar you want an apple, instead of chips you want real potatos. You crave what you were made to crave — life giving food.

Same is true for our souls. When the Holy Spirit helps us clear out the soul toxins we start to crave more of His goodness. We want to see mercy and love instead of our agenda. We have tasted freedom and love and desire more of it.

When the Holy Spirit helps us clear out the soul toxins we start to crave more of His goodness.

1 Peter 2:1-3 NIV puts it this way, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Let the Holy Spirit it to do his work so our life taste buds change. It will require endurance and obedience, but the journey of detoxing the soul will change your life from the inside out.

 

Journal reflection…book-bindings-3176776_1920

What is God telling you to give up? What life junk needs to go to make room for God’s work in your life?

Spend time in prayer asking God to reveal and flush out the impurities in your heart and replace them with His goodness.

Transforming Sunday Religion into Immovable Faith

“When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” That was the haunting question Jesus asked his disciples in Luke 18:8 NIV. It’s a question that makes us squirm a bit. But it shows exactly what Jesus is looking for in us, his people. He will NOT be searching our lives for status, fame, money, perfection, popularity, a great marriage or well-behaved kids. No, the question is, will Jesus find evidence of faith in you and I. The answer lies in whether we allow our belief to be transformed into immovable faith.

I’ve been trying to come up with a tag line for my blog, something that really stands for the banner I want to wave. And I think I finally have it thanks to Jesus’ question. A FRUITFUL WOMAN — Living Fruitfully by Swapping Sunday Belief for Immovable Faith.

Are we, God’s children, a people of only Sunday morning belief or a people of moment by moment faith?  I ask this of myself as much as I wish you to seek your own answer. The reason? Because faith is what Jesus desires of us. Faith is what makes belief in Christ come alive. It switched my heart from a life of stressed out striving to a life of excited joy in Jesus.

Faith in Jesus doesn’t always change our circumstances, but it changes everything about how we live in our circumstances. – afruitfulwoman.com

What is faith?

Faith in Jesus doesn’t always change our circumstances, but it changes everything about how we live in our circumstances. So we need to ask ourselves what we think faith really is. To me, faith is living like what we believe about Jesus, through truth in the scriptures, is actually TRUE every moment of our day.

*Faith is waking up identifying that we are loved children of The Living God, not some project God has to repair.

*It’sClinging to the fact that Jesus laid down his everything for you and I individually, not thinking grace is for everyone but ourselves

*Faith is about believing that our prayers go straight to the ear of our Father instead of into the abyss of nothingness.

* And it’s knowing in our bones that we are not alone in the struggle, that the Holy Spirit is not some weird myth but a living and active member of the Triune God. Trusting him as our helper sent so we don’t have to walk this world alone post Christ’s resurrection. And following as we feel God’s Spirit as us to wait, stay, go, trust, be silent, speak up, or stand firm.

How do we strengthen our faith?

When we write our beliefs on our hearts through time spent with Jesus reading his word in our Bibles and in prayer, we put our feet on solid ground for the day. With God’s word on our hearts and his presence near in prayer, we can more easily see light through the darkness and therefore love our people more like Jesus and less like ourselves.

When asked what the greatest commandment to keep was, “Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40 NIV).

Loving God with everything you’ve got is more than a Sunday coffee date. It is an everyday affair that sustains our souls when the world around is trying to break off pieces. – afruitfulwoman.com

Loving God with everything you’ve got is more than a Sunday coffee date. It is an everyday affair that sustains our souls when the world around is trying to break off pieces. And when we love Jesus with our everything, loving others becomes more of our natural default instead of our sacrifice.

Fight the Good Fight

So I rededicate this space, afruitfulwoman.com, to everyone like me who is sick of struggling for joy, peace, patience, and goodness and wants to experience these divine qualities in abundance through Christ. Let’s start living like Jesus really loves us, that the Father counts us as his own, and the Holy Spirit is ready to do battle with us in our hearts as we stand firm in FAITH.

Let’s each of us in our circles of friends, family, children, marriages, churches, schools, jobs, be light and love as we point to the grace of God. And let’s stand firm so that Jesus will find fruitful faith instead of empty religion in our hearts when He returns.

Let’s start living like Jesus really loves us, that the Father counts us as his own, and the Holy Spirit is ready to do battle with us in our hearts as we stand firm in FAITH.

– afruitfulwoman.com