Fearfully & Wonderfully Made

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Fearfully & Wonderfully Made

 

I stood there looking in the mirror, pinching the skin on my stomach, and pulling at my thighs to make the cellulite disappear. I was in a low place. I had never felt such disgust with my own body as I did in that moment. And then my daughter walked in. “Hi, mommy” she said in her sweetest two year old voice. “Wha-cha doing?” My face went flush. I paused. “Um, mommy is just getting in the shower sweetie. Will you see what daddy is doing and I’ll be right out” I said.

As soon as she left the room I lost it. "What am I doing" I thought? What am I teaching this innocent girl? Would I want her to think these same thoughts? I got in the shower and cried. I asked God to forgive me for thinking those things of myself. I asked Him to take the self hate away. I cried to Him to make me new. And in that steamy shower I heard a small voice say “my child, you are already new. You are the daughter of a king. You are wonderfully made on purpose, with a purpose. You don’t need to change a single thing about yourself.”

You see, God knew exactly what He was doing when He made you. He gave you your body, your talents, and your gifts to serve Him and His people. If He wanted you to be somebody else, He would’ve done so. But He needed YOU.

 
 

The reason you have value is because of what God says about you, not because of what other people say about you. The world focuses so much on outward beauty, projecting a perfect image, and being a certain size, but the world is not looking at your heart. The truth is:

1. God created you.

2. Jesus died for you.

3. God’s Spirit lives in you.

Think about this—you were so important to God that He sent His only son, Jesus, to die for you. The devil knows this. He knows the importance of your heart, and he is constantly trying to get to it. It is his goal to have us to think negatively about ourselves, and to get our hearts to become hard. If he can do that he knows our spiritual life will quickly deteriorate.

So today momma I challenge you. Every time you look in the mirror I want you to say 3 positive things about yourself. It could be “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”, or “I love how strong my legs are”, or “I am thankful for these arms to carry my children”. Those are the things we want our kids to hear. That is the message our sons and daughters will carry with them.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” 1 John 3:1

 
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Feelings vs. Truth

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Feelings vs. Truth

I seriously don’t feel adequate to write any kind of encouragement to you mamas. I don’t feel like I have a lot to offer. And not just to you here, but to many around me, including my kids. Anyone else struggle with this? That inadequate, not good enough feeling?

A lot of days in my season feel more like surviving instead of thriving.

But then I step back.  I can literally look at the sentences I just wrote, and notice which word sticks out as the most used word. Do you see it?

FEEL.

“I FEEL like I am not good enough, I FEEL like I have nothing to offer.”, etc etc.

 

Now, there is nothing wrong with feeling or processing emotions. But what I think happens to many of us as mothers, is that we tend to listen to feelings versus TRUTH. Feelings are obviously given by God, but they are also a major tool of the enemy to divert us from living in the reality of truth.

Feelings keep us floundering, truth sets us free.

When we feel like we keep messing up as a mom, it’s important to stop and process what is actually true, versus what our heat-of-the-season emotions say. Are you ACTUALLY the terrible mom you feel like you are? No. Are you really unloving in their eyes? No. They love you because you are their mom. Are you a terrible person because of the yelling you did at your kids this morning? No. They forgave you and moved on. Are you lousy and have nothing significant go offer your kids? No.

Our feelings of inadequacy and shame and whatever else can keep us in a terrible cycle. What stops this cycle is operating by truth instead of by feelings.

Believe me, this is super hard for me. Even as I write this post, I am battling feelings of shame that I am not a good enough mother and what do I even know what I’m talking about?

But you know what truth says? You know what HE says?

He says you ARE a good mother. He says He DID pick you to be their mom for a reason. HE says He did create you for such a crazy season as this. He says you are forgiven for your mistakes. And He invites you to live in the truth of your identity instead of the feelings of the moment.

Things can really change when we start believing truth and stop listening to our feelings so much. And wow, what a gift to teach our children…to walk by TRUTH and not operate out of our feelings. (can you imagine the lesser amount of drama that could happen if our kids operated this way?)

We miss things, important things, that the Lord wants to speak to us when we only live by what our soul feels and not by looking at Him and listening to His truth. When we can get out of our own way a bit, we can reshape our reality based on truth and not on feelings. We learn confidence and teach our kids that too. We get to partner even more with God as we pursue His word and His voice above our feelings. We can hear Him better and hear Him for our kids better, when we can put aside our negative feelings or how things look and feel to us...and rather, live in perfect truth.

“For we walk by faith, and not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

 

 
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BECOMING | THRIVE MOMS SPRING RETREAT 2017

We're so excited to share with you our Spring Retreat 2017! We've got an amazing line up of speakers we can't wait for you to hear from each one of these mamas! 

Who are you? What do you find your identity in?

 You aren’t what has been done to you. You aren’t your mistakes or your shortcomings. You are definitely not defined by your bad days, your past or what names the world gives you. And believe it or not, your identity doesn’t belong in your role as a mother. Whether you’ve been a mom for 20 years or 20 minutes, you are forever changed. What a beautiful gift we have been given to understand the love that God has for us through motherhood, but how quickly the enemy wants to steal that from us and tell us that we are no longer who God created us to be. It’s time we stop trying to find a new identity and realize our identity is already firmly planted in Christ. We will rediscover what our identity is, leaving false identities behind. We’ve been given a new name and it’s time to live in that freedom! We are becoming more and more like Him every day!

THRIVEMOMSLIVE.COM

MAY 6 • 11AM - 2PM CST

SECOND VIEWING:    MAY 8 • 7PM - 10PM CST

To register, and check out more from our speakers visit the retreat website here. We can't wait for you to join us! 

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Feature Partner: Redeemed Jewelry

I adore being a mom. I am a mom to 3 amazing children. They have taught me more than they’ll ever know (until they have their own children)! But when I tapped into something that gave me the ability to be more than a mom and to pursue my hearts desires it was truly a gift from the Lord. When Redeemed Jewelry began to become a reality and not just a distant dream, I began to realize how amazing it is to combine your passions with your dreams. It has taken so much work to get to where we are today, but each step has been worth the struggle. 

With a handmade business the need for balance in my personal life and professional life is necessary. I have learned and grown so much as I’ve had to navigate these unknown waters and figure out when to stop working and spend time with my family and when to dedicate time to the business. Family always comes before the business and the Lord before both of those.

The inspiration for starting our business comes from Proverbs 3:3, "Let love and faithfulness never leave you. Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart."  With this as our guiding verse, we design pendant jewelry with Scripture on it in a variety of styles. Our mission is to create beautiful Scripture necklaces that will encourage and inspire those who wear them, gift them, or read them.

Over the last couple of years we have heard amazing stories of those who have been touched by a certain necklace we made and those who have been encouraged by being given one of our necklaces at just the right time. The Lord has even taken some of the mistakes I've made along the way and used them for His good. It has been a truly humbling for us to be a part of this work that God has been doing.

It is my hope that you are able to be an amazing mom to your sweet kiddos and that somewhere along your journey you are able to take your passions and dreams and make them become a reality. He will guide you and He will give you the wisdom, the patience and the perseverance to achieve what you never thought possible. 

Visit Redeemed Jewelry here and follow them on Instagram here. 

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Partner Feature: Ashley's Goodie Bag

Goodie bags aren’t just favors for kids’ parties. 

As someone who likes to do things for herself and plans everything, being let go from a job was something I wasn’t prepared for. I had a small baby at home and needed to find something to occupy myself while on the hunt for a job. As many know, searching for a job is a job in itself. I spent hours and hours online for days filling out numerous applications and growing more frustrated by the minute. Then I decided I needed an outlet to do something other than job searching or else I was going to go crazy! 

Retail therapy is always a good idea right? While browsing through a store, I found soap making items. Hmm, I like to make things and who doesn’t need soap? So as any good shopper, I bought the items and couldn’t wait to try it out. That was all it took for me to get hooked. I began making soap and giving to family members to try out and received positive feedback. Having my own business has been a lifelong dream and thus Ashley’s Goodie Bag was created. I began making soaps primarily for my own use and those of my close family members. Since I began, that small baby I mentioned is now six and the soaps I make her are still what she uses today. Since I control the amount of fragrance and coloring that goes into them, I don’t have to worry about harsh chemicals in some store bought soap.

I did get a full time job and have been employed for about three years. In reality I still had to work in order to provide for my daughter and myself while Goodie Bag comes to fruition. The great thing about Ashley’s Goodie Bag is that I can still make soap in my free time and have the business ownership that I crave. I enjoy creating something beautiful that allows someone to feel great. The soap I make can be enjoyed by the whole family as well as a wonderful gift option. 

Sometimes it takes being in an uncomfortable position, such as being without a job, that God uses you to find something that makes you happy. He knows us better than anyone else. I like to have a plan or routine and it took something changing my plan to realize His plan is always better.

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Partner Feature: The Purposeful Housewife

I was struggling. I thought I was the only mom in the world who couldn’t get it together, who wasn’t really enjoying motherhood. I felt terrible. I sat on my couch with a giant pile of laundry next to me. Another day had come and gone and I had barely been able to keep up. The days were flying by me, my kids were all four years old and under, but I felt like I had missed what childhood they’d had so far. I was always cleaning up.

When I thought about my days and how I spent my time, all I saw were piles of dishes, an endless mountain of laundry, picking up toys and books and markers and jackets and shoes and empty water bottles and paper artwork.

I thought motherhood was going to mean I’d get to enjoy my kids. I chose stay-at-home motherhood because I felt like this is where I was supposed to be - home with my kids. It felt right. Yet, I never spent time truly with them. I had to keep moving or the house and the day would collapse. When I did press pause and spend some time with my kids, it felt like I had to pay the price - catching up on housework; making up for the time I missed living my life. This made me lose my desire to even play with them. What was the point if I was just going to get more behind, more stressed out?

It’s not that I’m a neat freak (in fact, I’m probably pretty near the opposite). All this work was simply to keep the house functioning. I was that student in school who stays up all night studying and gets a C. That’s how I felt about my life. I was trying so hard! I felt little satisfaction, little joy, and every day was a battle for my time that I didn’t want to wake up for.

I asked other moms, friends, and people I respected if this was normal, how they managed their homes and kids and if they felt like they enjoyed it. What I was met with was a resounding “oh yeah, I remember those days! That’s motherhood. It’ll be okay and you’ll get through it.”

“You’ll get through it.”

But what if I wanted more than to just survive in my motherhood? That’s what I was doing now.

After another particularly difficult day, I reflected on how I’d yelled, how I’d been the mom I never wanted to be, how I was counting how many hours I had of peace and quiet before morning came and I had to start over. It wasn’t like I’d had this one really tough day, but tomorrow would be a fresh start and things would get better; I was feeling like this nearly every day. This wasn’t what I wanted, and I knew I was called to more than this for my kids’ sake and my own. This wasn’t abundant life, it didn’t feel purposeful, it felt overwhelming and depressing.

In that moment, I had had enough. I decided I wasn’t going to let this be my life, and this overwhelm and depression wasn’t going to rule me any longer.

What I did next set my life on a new course, and it never went back to the way it was. It changed everything.

I went into the playroom - the room that was the bane of my existence. This was a room full of colorful bins, each bin full of toys. There were toys on the floor, in chests, in boxes, toys everywhere. I would send my kids in here to play and they would come out less than ten minutes later complaining of boredom. This room was pointless, and I’d had enough.

I started working through the room, making piles - keep, trash, donate. I got rid of every single toy that I felt wasn’t benefitting my kids. If it didn’t cause them to engage in constructive or imaginary play, it wasn’t staying in this house because it wasn’t worth the work it caused me. If I was going to clean up it was going to be the things that added to our lives; it was going to be only the things we needed and the things we truly loved.

When I was finished, all that remained were trains and tracks, a couple of dress up costumes, books, and blocks. The trunk of my car was overstuffed with toys to take to Goodwill, my playroom was purged, and I immediately felt lighter.

The next day my kids ran downstairs for breakfast, and as usual, I sent them into their playroom to play, curious to see if meltdowns would ensue because of what I’d done with their toys. They walked in, looked around, said something along the lines of “hey! It’s nice and clean, Mommy! Hey! There’s my trains!” and happily started playing.

I was shocked. I stepped out of the room, poured myself a cup of coffee, and sat on the couch. To my surprise, my kids played in that room that day for three hours. Three hours! It wasn’t just that day either. They continued to want to be in their playroom for long amounts of time from then on. They started going outside more often, making up stories and scenarios together, playing tag and creating art. It was as if I had unclogged their God-given gift of imagination when I got rid of their toys.

I took my purging into other areas of the house - the dishes, the clothes, the drawers and cupboards - and our whole homelife continued to transform. I was spending much less than half the time managing my house, I was playing with my kids, I took up homeschooling, my marriage even improved because I wasn’t a cranky maniac anymore. My depression lifted and never came back.

Life felt lighter, intentional, and I was no longer “getting through it”. This was abundant life in motherhood; I could feel it.

(Note: I’ve put together a bonus resource at the end of this article that will help you begin this process in your own life).

Today, almost four years later, we’ve had a fourth baby, moved cross-country to chase our dreams (very easily, because we weren’t tied down by our stuff), I started a business doing what I love and helping other women, and the housework is just a side note in my life. It’s something I have to maintain a little each day in order to serve my family and keep things running smoothly; it does not take up the bulk of my life anymore.

My kids’ imaginations continue to bloom in amazing ways because there are hardly any toys in our house. They create these elaborate stories together and act them out, they get along so beautifully together, and they prefer to be outside more than anywhere else. I feel like we’re giving them an honest to goodness 1970’s childhood, and I love that.

So why did de-cluttering give me so much freedom? How does losing my stuff have anything to do with my depression and general lack of joy in my motherhood?

Studies show a direct link between the amount of physical possessions in a house and the stress level of the female homeowner. One study done at UCLA found that the more stuff was in a woman’s house, the higher her level of stress hormones. This same study also found that women subconsciously relate how happy they are with their homelife and family to how they feel about their homes. So the more clutter and chaos in the home, the less happy the woman is with her family and her life.

Bingo.

That’s what was going on with me, and I believe it’s the cause of today’s epidemic in mothers. Barely getting by, living in survival mode, feeling like their kids’ childhoods are passing them by even when they’re right there living it with them. Our stuff is literally stealing away our joy and our lives. It’s stealing the most precious thing in the world - motherhood.

“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of what we most value, and the removal of anything that distracts from it.” Joshua Becker

I believe mothers need minimalism more than anyone else.

Minimalism is less cleaning, it’s the joy of always being ready for company to drop by without stressing out, it’s more free time to focus on your priorities, it’s enjoying your home rather than being owned by it, it’s being able to be a mom who plays rather than a mom who’s always cleaning up, it’s being a happier person.

If you’re feeling ready to make some of the changes that led me to this place of thriving in motherhood and removing myself from survival mode, I’ve put together a free starter kit to help you.

I want this for you, sweet friend. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be like this for one more day. You can choose a different path, you can thrive, you can love this life, you can escape the chronic overwhelm that everyone else calls normal. I promise you, it’s so worth it.

 

About the Author

 

Allie Casazza is an intentional living coach, and the blogger behind The Purposeful Housewife. Her passion is helping her fellow women find hope and light and purpose when chaos has stolen their motherhood, and infusing them with intention. She believes motherhood and humor should always go hand-in-hand, otherwise you'll never get through it.

Allie is the wife of Brian, her seventh grade algebra partner turned sweetheart. They have four small kids, and they're SoCal natives who caught the adventure bug, and are currently living in the beautiful Northwest corner of Arkansas.

 

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Retreat Partner Feature: Jelly Telly

We're excited to take some time this week to introduce you a bit more to our Thrive Moms Retreat Partners. These partners help us in making retreat available and FREE to you! Take some time this week to read their inspiring stories and check out these great companies! 

We are so thankful to be a part of the Thrive Moms retreat this year! We pray that it is a time of refreshment and joy for each of you. Thanks for allowing JellyTelly to be a part – we are thrilled to introduce JellyTelly to you! 

We love good stories, and we know that the greatest story ever told is the story of God and his love for us. We know the world tells a different story - a story where God is a fairytale at best, and doesn’t exist at worst. 

That doesn’t make it easy to raise Christian kids. And while we don’t have it all figured out, we’re passionate about telling authentic stories and bringing the truths of the Bible alive for kids and parents. 

JellyTelly is a place where God is real and His Word is true, and your kids can find hundreds of hours of shows and movies that they will love and you will trust. 

Our passion is to help you raise your children to have a resilient faith in an ever-changing culture. Because at the end of the day, you have the greatest influence in your children’s lives - but we all need a little help, a “start here” and a place to go for “oh my gosh how do I talk about THAT with my kids?”. 

“Screentime” is such a buzzword - and for a lot of moms, hearing it brings a mixture of relief (hallelujah! I can do the dishes!) and guilt (are we really watching this episode AGAIN?). That’s why JellyTelly is a partner for your family beyond the screen. When you sign up for JellyTelly, you get instant access to our popular 5 Minute Family Devotional Videos, printable activities, encouraging and idea-filled blogs just for parents, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing your kids are learning about God from every show they watch.

It’s our prayer that we’ll be there for you, a partner for you as you have the conversations about Jesus that really matter for your kids. Keep us tucked in your back pocket and we’ll do our best to be there when your kid asks a hard question, or needs a conversation about the fruit of the Spirit, the resurrection, or just a little reassurance about that tricky Abraham-and-Isaac story. 

We can partner with you in a few ways. You’ll find plenty of resources at our JellyTelly Parents blog, from stories from parents like you to research to printable activities. You can also check out the JellyTelly app, the only streaming video app just for kids - with over 300 hours of streaming Christian videos. Your kids will love having their very own video app and you will love the peace of mind that comes from knowing they can only access quality Christian content. 

Will you join us? We want to help your family flourish. Visit jellytelly.com to learn more. 

 

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Retreat Partner Feature: Brave and Free Conference

We're excited to take some time this week to introduce you a bit more to our Thrive Moms Retreat Partners. These partners help us in making retreat available and FREE to you! Take some time this week to read their inspiring stories and check out these great companies! 

The Brave & Free conference is a weekend designed for women to dive fully into all the good things God has for us.
To be set free from lies, distractions, and strongholds. 
To live bravely and courageously, as we abide in His perfect, always faithful, love.

Through powerful worship, amazing speakers, beautiful prayer opportunities and fellowship (and yummy treats, a marketplace, and swag bags, of course!)…our prayer is that women will be touched in fresh ways by the Lord.

The Father wants us to live freely and wholly as His daughters. That freedom and bravery can get drowned out by the lies we so often listen to as women. Fear, depression, rejection, comparison, loneliness, etc., can cause such hindrances to freedom. But through the power and perfect love of God, we do not have to live that way! We desire for this to a be a time where we get set FREE from the things that hold us back from being BRAVE in all we are called to do!

Our speakers include Angie Smith, Sarah Rodriguez, Kara-Kae James, Julie Bennett, Lesley Zellers, Amy Kavelaris, Haverlee Coyler, and Kim Galindo. Our worship and prayer teams, and everyone involved are expectant and excited to experience the presence of God all together…because where the Spirit of the Lord is there is FREEDOM! (2 Corinthians 3:17)

This will be such a sweet weekend filled with joy that only comes from Him!

Grab your besties, mom, sisters, coworkers, mommy groups, and girlfriends and make it a fun, life-giving getaway weekend. We have women coming from all over the country to experience His heart for us all together. We would be honored to have you join us!!

February 24-26, 2017

Oklahoma City, OK

www.braveandfree.org

@braveandfreeconference

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