Supermom!

As I’m sitting here writing this, I am feeling not enough. In fact, that’s how this post was birthed. Not being enough. But what if I told you that we, as moms, don’t have to be enough, because through Jesus, we already are? So many of us are striving for a perfection that doesn’t exist. Now lets all take a deep breath and relax, knowing that we don’t have to be. I took these thoughts to Facebook, because I wanted to see how many of y’all were like me. I asked you what were your insecurities were as a mom. The most common thought that was shared was something along the lines of this:

“My life doesn’t look like the perfect moms I see on social media.” Ok, first of all, that’s fake. But that’s a whole different post. I’ll save that for another day! Second, who is perfect? Not her. Not me. Not you. We can be anything we want to be on social media, but that doesn’t mean it’s truth.

If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time now, you know that I like to overshare. Some think of it as a bad thing, but I see it as a gift. I know not everyone is comfortable being that open, so I want to say thank you to the ones that participated on Facebook. It takes guts to be so transparent and vulnerable. To the ones that messaged me, I hope this helps you on your journey. Exposure is so important…things being brought to the light so they can be dealt with. The enemy likes to isolate us (hello, Eve!) so we feel alone. When we feel alone, he can trick us into thinking we can’t share because people will judge/condemn us, so speaking out can feel scary (look what it did for Esther though) but you’re in a safe place here. When we hide in darkness, bad things can grow and take over. For example, mold. When left unaddressed, in a dark place, the spores multiply and eventually take over. Same for an infection. When left untreated, it will grow into something bigger and more toxic. When you treat these things early on, they don’t get that chance. Same with our insecurities and toxic thinking. When brought to the light, they can be shut down and destroyed. My weapon of choice? God’s word. I read it out loud so it filters through my ears and into my brain and takes root in my heart. I know that God’s word is truth, so my thoughts have to change. Even if it takes me reading it out loud over and over again until I believe it for myself.

I’m going to talk about a few insecurities I deal with as a mom. A lot of the time I feel like I have to be Supermom, but really, all I have to be is the Abiding mom. Abiding in Christ.

“I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”-John 15:1-4

“I can’t provide the life I want for them”

Yikes. As a single mom, I deal with this ALL the time. Sometimes, providing means the bare essentials. Like paying my water bill. Forget about taking a vacation! I get angry about it too. Or sad. Or discouraged. But the Bible is so encouraging…

“The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”-Psalm 34:10

“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”-Philippians 4:19

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”-Matthew 6:25-27

“I’m not making a positive impact because _________________”

This one was left blank because you can insert whatever reason you want. Mine is that I don’t get enough time with my kids. They are gone for a week at a time. That might sound appealing to some, but I assure you, it’s not. Two different homes, equal amount of time. Two sets of rules. Two different parenting styles. Unequally yoked. It makes my job, as their mom and positive influence, twice as hard. My thoughts are usually something like this:

What are they being exposed to? How long were they in their rooms alone today? Lord, please be their filter while on YouTube. Are they getting outside play? Are they eating healthy?

Sheesh. It can get overwhelming IF I LET IT. That’s the key. Not allowing it to get to that point. So again, I turn to the scriptures.

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”-Deuteronomy 6:6-7

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”Deuteronomy 11:18-19

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”-Proverbs 22:6

So, you see, it’s not about how much time, it’s about making the best of the time that you have. If you’re planting good seeds, they will become fruitful! My oldest is 14. She has lived primarily with her dad since 2015. The things I’m about to say next are NOT SHADE being thrown.  Looking back at the way things have happened over the last few years, it was an absolute blessing. He has done a great job being Bella’s biggest support system. But. They don’t go to church*.

*Going to church doesn’t make you a good person or get you into heaven.

They don’t foster a relationship with God. Had those seeds not been planted in her since the age of 3, things might look a little different for her. She watches messages from Louie Giglio and Steven Furtick. She also watches my home church, West Ridge Church, livestream on Sunday mornings. Without anyone telling her to. Talk about a proud mama!

These are all great resources, by the way, if you are looking for a home church or just to be fed spiritually!

“I am not enough”

This thought is so damaging. It doesn’t just apply to us as moms either. We use it when it comes to all of our relationships. Our jobs. We don’t feel like we are enough with Jesus either. We are constantly selling ourselves short. We don’t even try because we self-sabotage before we even start. But this isn’t what God says about us….

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”-1 Corinthians 3:16-17

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”-2 Corinthians 12:9-10

WOW!! I’m just gonna leave that right there for you to chew on for a minute.

I know, being a single mom, about feeling alone. We carry all the weight of our families on our shoulders. But that’s not a weight we were meant to carry. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the everyday, I forget that I have a husband I can depend on. Yes, I said it. A husband.

But you just said you were single.

Yes I said both.

“For your Maker is your husband-the Lord Almighty is his name-the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.”-Isaiah 54:5

That gives me so much peace. Jesus is the ultimate husband. He will never leave me. Never forsake me. He will give me good things. He gives me hope and a future.

I want to leave you with one last thought. Once you have made up your mind to trust Jesus, stay planted in that. Don’t allow your thoughts to toss you back and forth, wondering if you can trust Him or not. Watch this message from Pastor Louie Giglio, from this past Sunday. He goes into more depth about it and it truly changed my thought process on so many things.

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.-Isaiah 26:3

I hope this has encouraged you to at least not feel alone. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, on any platform, if you need prayer. Before I write any of these messages, I pray over them. I ask God to be my voice and that it would help those that need it. So if you’re reading this, I’ve prayed for you. Thank you for taking the time to read it. If it has helped you, in any way, please feel free to share it, so it could possibly help and encourage someone else.

Remember. We don’t have to be Supermom. Just a mom that abides in Christ.

xoxo

 

Forgiveness??

If you were to make a list of the people in your life that you needed to forgive, could you be honest? Would your list have two names? 20? None? How many of those people are family members?

The family dynamics in Colossians 3:18-21 is God’s perfect plan. You can call me old-fashioned, sexist, barefoot and pregnant…I don’t care. It’s what I believe. Our family is supposed to be our first line of defense. Our parents to protect us. Our siblings to build and learn about friendships with, along with conflict resolution (even if that involves these hands! Right Lyss? You were so mean!). But instead we have strife. Jealousy. Bitterness. Anger. A house divided cannot stand (Mark 3:25). And no, I’m not referring to the SEC…at least not today haha!! Go Dawgs!

If there is division, it can destroy the family structure, causing us to “wander” solo. No one by our side to hold us accountable…yes we have friends, but we can talk about that later….that’s how Eve was able to be tempted. She was alone. When a sheep wanders away from the herd and it’s shepherd, it’s more vulnerable to its predators.

The funny thing about this blog post is that I don’t have an answer or resolve to what I just talked about. Which brings me to my next topic.

Today was my first counseling session at Elevate. I had one major issue in my life that was causing me a tremendous amount of stress. That’s what caused me to make an appointment in the first place. I wanted some healthy coping mechanisms for when I felt anxious. God had bigger plans, y’all. I wasn’t ready!! My first session and I’ve already learned that I’m dealing with un-forgiveness. I didn’t even know!!! It was so profound that I’ve decided I’m going to make this journey public. I’m going to blog after each one of my sessions. I will share my revelations, my heartaches, my joy and my victories. My darkest places. I really hope that my transparency will help you to see that you’re not alone. No, I won’t be sharing names if anyone, in case you were wondering! This is for my exposure, no anyone else’s.

I thought I knew how to forgive someone, but today I found out that I don’t. I’m excited to learn and share as I go. My hope is that it will inspire you to seek it out for you and your family too.

xoxo

Let them eat cake..er, cookie dough!

Last night, while making cookies with my kids, they mention to me they’ve never tried cookie dough. Real cookie dough. Growing up, I want allowed to eat it because of the raw eggs. “Salmonella!!”, my mom would say to us. So much that it became an actual fear. Irrational c yes, but there nonetheless.

When my kids said this, it triggered something in me that made me do something I’ve never done before. Let me give you a little background. I’ll start with a simple, yet profound statement. 

Sometimes it takes losing everything to make you appreciate what you have. 

As most of you already know, my ex-husband spent some time in prison. I’m not here to sling mud. He’s done his time. But it still happened. That left me to try and pick up the pieces and try to keep my family from unraveling. Well guess what? I failed. I was on the brink of losing my home (for the 2nd time). I was working 2 jobs and that still wasn’t enough to keep up with everything. So after taking to my then-husband, we both decided and agreed it would be best for our kids to stay with their grandparents in Tennessee while I tried to salvage what was left of my sanity and my dignity, and he went back to jail to finish out his sentence. Trust me when I say this, it was the last thing I wanted. It showed weakness. It showed failure. It showed that I wasn’t enough. That I couldn’t handle it. Insert whatever statement you want here. I promise you I’ve already beaten myself up for it at least a hundred times. But sometimes, as a mom, it means making hard decisions. I’ll never forget the day they left. I was devastated. I kept telling myself “it’s only for a short time.” The pain was unbearable. I closed myself off. I rarely talked to them on the phone because all it did was tear my heart out more each time. And theirs too. This went on for (roughly) 6 months, maybe 8. 

Side note, this isn’t something I’ve shared with many people. If you were apart of my life during this time, you knew. But I don’t go shouting it from the rooftops. Until today. 

Being a mom is hard. You’re responsible for teaching and raising kids, to grow into successful adults. There is so much pressure to be “perfect”. Have them in the best school. Sports. Dance. Church. Good grades. Before their father was arrested, I was the worst kind of helicopter mom. I gave them freedom, but not too much. Looking back I now see it wasn’t very much at all. Them being away from me for that long taught me a lot of things. One of the most important things it taught me was to LET GO. I was trying to control their every move and every outcome. I couldn’t just let them be kids. But now?! Now, on the weekends, they can have ice cream for breakfast (sometimes). They can walk in the grass barefoot. They can hang their arm out the window in the backseat. They spent all day yesterday in their pajamas. We had pizza delivered twice in a week! The little things in life that are meant to be enjoyed, are being enjoyed. I’ve learned to take a deep breath and a step back. Yes, it was awful while they were gone. I hated every single moment of it. But it made me better. Better for them and better for me. 

Cut yourself some slack, y’all. Parenting is hard. Parenting with an ex-spouse is even harder. Do the best you can with every day you’re with them, even on the days when you want to run and cry in a closet. 

I guess I’ll address the cookie dough thing. We are cookie dough last night. A lot of it. And they said it was the best thing they had ever tasted. Something as simple as cookie dough!! They danced around the kitchen and laughed with delight. Such a small moment but such a huge impact. There will be many more cookie dough dates in our future. Oh and by the way, no one got sick 😉

xoxo,                                                                                     Jess the Haute Mess

It’s finally time for me to share this with you

The story that I’m about to share is an emotional one. I will preface a little bit. But first let me say, there are women out there that do this every day. Military wives. Single moms. Please know that I’m not discrediting you in any way. This is just my story.

My husband was arrested 6 days before I went into labor. This was my hardest pregnancy ever. I had lots of preterm labor issues, bed rest, bleeding…it was hard. I missed out on a lot of things because I was always in the hospital for something. My body doesn’t handle pregnancy well at all. I’m going to be very transparent here and say that I’ve had 4 miscarriages. Not many women want to talk about it because they feel alone or that something is wrong with them. But unfortunately, it’s more common than you think. You are not alone.

So back to my story. He was arrested 6 days before I went into labor. I thought he would be home the next day and we could just go back to our business until the next court date. But that wasn’t the case at all. His bond got denied because we had no legal representation. I cannot express to you the emotions that I was experiencing. Crippling fear. Sadness. Loneliness. Fear was the biggest one. I was so scared I was going to go into labor at any moment. I had moments of clarity and faith that said “he’ll be home before your son is born”. Well. It didn’t happen that way. God does things His way. And sometimes you don’t understand until you’re looking back on things.

At the Shine Conference this year at my church, the theme was “Brave”. The whole time I’m thinking, wow, I’m pretty brave. I’ve lost 4 babies and lost custody of my oldest to my ex-husband. I would’ve told you then that I was pretty brave. But God was setting me up for the things I had no idea we’re coming downstream.

My Pastor’s wife told me, “We’re praying and believing for a miracle. But we also need a plan B.” So I came up with a plan B. People that I would call if I did go into labor. My mom had already driven down the day after he was arrested to come and be a help to me. My oldest daughter, Bella, had told me about a dream she had that Elisha was born on a Wednesday. She was right.

It was 1:00a.m. on Wednesday morning. My contractions had been strong that day and were getting closer together. I woke my mom up and told her I was going to drive myself to the hospital and just to stay with the kids until she heard from me. As I was driving to the hospital, I got out my phone to start making my phone calls and the Holy Spirit stopped me. He told me “You and I are going to do this together.” I can’t explain to you the peace I had at that moment in time.

I get to the hospital and I’m 4 centimeters. I had been 4 centimeters for 2 weeks with no change. They kept me over night to see if I would progress. I just kept crying out to the Lord and singing over Elisha, songs of worship. One song that repeating on my playlist was “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel. It was also sang at the Shine Conference. (By the way, as I’m writing this out, I’m crying my eyes out. One because of God’s goodness and another because my husband still hasn’t been able to hold his son).

There was no change, so they sent me home the next morning. It was around 8 on Wednesday, July 22. But I knew he was going to be here that day. I talked to Billy and told him that today was going to be the day. He cried with me but said “Make sure to celebrate him. He deserves that. Don’t be sad because I’m not there. Be happy because you’re bringing forth God’s promise.” That was around 1:00 p.m. I had already been readmitted into the hospital with again, no change. My contractions started getting stronger and I asked my mom to take the kids downstairs to get a snack so they didn’t hear the pain I was in. I had no epidural. Well my water broke and I went from 4 cm to 8 cm in a minute. Literally. It was time to push. I was so scared and felt so alone. I looked up in the midst of my labor pains and anguish and I saw Jesus in the room with me. He was just sitting in the chair, very casual. Like I imagined Him to be when He was sleeping on the boat. No fear. Just peace. He nodded His head at me and somehow I mustered up the courage and strength to bring forth my son, with no one but Him to get me through it. It happened so fast.

In the picture I’m going to share, you can see the mixture of sadness and joy on my face. IMG_1163Here I had this perfect little baby. All alone in the room. No one to take pictures. No one to kiss me on the forehead. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But now, here I am, 3 months later, finally able to share it with you on a level that only my closet friends have heard. His name is Elisha (God is salvation) Silas (forest). Silas actually has a double meaning to me. Silas because Silas was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. Imprisoned while doing God’s will. And forest because sometimes, when the trees are thick and we can’t see where we’re going, Jesus will show up in the room, give you a gentle nod and guide you the rest of the way.

If you would have asked me in January if I would be able to do this without my husband, I would have said not a chance!! But God has taught me to be more dependent on Him. He has constantly provided for our family. I’ve had to go back to work, which has been hard because I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for years and years. But there’s no one I trust more to take care of my babies than my mother. She gave everything up to move here and help me. Mom, I love you and I’m so grateful for all you do.

Please know that you are not alone. Even when you feel like you are, you’re not. This story isn’t over yet. My husband still isn’t home and I don’t know when he will be. But everyday I believe for a miracle. And you should too.

Jess the Haute Mess

No, I’m not ok.

I’m about to pour out my heart onto my keypad. Just a warning. It won’t be pretty.

I cannot put into words the hurt that my heart is feeling. I feel abandoned by God. I feel helpless. I feel so much anger because I feel helpless. Heart broken. Sad. Contrite. Despair. 

I’m a problem-solver. I’m a go-getter. I don’t like to just sit on my butt and wait for things to happen for me. But God has asked me to do just that. Sit on my butt. And wait. Somedays I wonder what the heck am I waiting for? I lose focus. I have to go back and read my journal to reaffirm that I heard God correctly. And you know what? I did. So now what?

Today I was angry with Him (don’t worry. He knows. We’re cool now). I couldn’t figure out how a Star-Breather couldn’t just fix things for me and my family. I mean, my 2 youngest are hurting through losing their sister, and lets face it, Bella’s dad sure isn’t making things any easier. Even though according to the judge he’s supposed to be. 

So why can’t God wave His sovereign hand and just fix this? That’s what I asked Him today. Actually it was more like an anguished, painful sob. Probably the way Hannah sounded when she was lamenting for a child. 

I have a point to this post, I promise.

The first one is that God wants you to be real in your prayer time. This is something my husband has taught me. God knows are hearts and can hear our thoughts, so why pretend everything is peachy, when in fact, we feel like we’re dying on the inside? There’s something about saying everything out loud. You may realize how ridiculous you sound for doubting the Star-Breather. I felt pretty stupid today. But I needed to hear it. God needed to hear it. And now that my heart has been (temporarily) cleared, we can move on to the next “thing” that God has for me. It’s all about the realization of who God really is in your life. Sometimes you need to throw a temper tantrum to get you refocused. 

Now my 2nd point. 

Whatever pain you’re going through, is going to birth something beautiful. I know it doesn’t look that way now. Trust me, I’m living it daily. I hurt every moment of every day that goes by. Literally. But just like David, I have to recall all the things God has already done for me. And that’s a long list. But it does something to my spirit when I do it. It revives me. Just like a defibrillator revives a heart-attack patient, it brings me back to life. It also gets me off my “why me” soapbox. Who cares “why me”?! It is what it is and I can sink and die or rise up and learn from it. You have the same choice. 

Which will you choose?