#LikeAMom

mom power-basicI have the privilege of speaking to a MOPS group in a couple weeks. In all honesty, I never thought they would be my audience. You know…those moms. Ironically, I am one of those moms. You know, the kind who stays home and makes the conscious choice to be around their kids all day.

You see, when I was little I said I wanted to be a mom when I grew up. No joke. I wanted to be a mom and stay at home because I have a pretty awesome mom and that’s what she did. And hey, my sister and I turned out pretty good, so that had to be the right decision for me too.

Of course when I made that decision, I had NO IDEA what I was agreeing to. Honestly, most of the time, I still don’t know what I signed up for.

Initially, my life didn’t really change. Samara, my oldest, was pretty compliant to whatever schedule (or lack thereof) we threw her way. As long as she could sleep, she was content. Added bonus was that she never really experienced separation anxiety so I could pass her off to any momma at church who was looking for a baby fix.

But twenty-two months after I had Samara, I had Aliyah and everything changed.

It was hard and I was pretty sure I was guaranteeing my kids would be in serious need of counseling later in life.

You see, I thought to be a mom, I had to be able to cook wholesome, everyone-loves-their-veggies kind of meals every night. To be a good mom, I had to be able to keep the house clean. I mean, I was home all day after all. I thought to be a good mom, I had to be able to brainstorm awesome activities and crafts that would interest even a one-year-old. And that was not me.

That is still not me.

But through some really dark and miserable moments, I began to learn that being a mom is so much more.

Being a mom means that I will be there unconditionally for my girls.

Being a mom means that I will encourage them to dream big, no matter how fantastical their dream may seem.

Being a mom means that I get bruised knees from the amount of time I lay myself before God on behalf of my girls.

Being a mom means going to bat for them against the monsters they fight–whether they are imaginary or real.

Being a mom takes guts, but delivers no glory.

Being a mom is what I have been called to do. It’s a piece of who God created me to be. I have been called to be a speaker and a writer, but I have also been called to be a mom; and that is one of the most noble and humbling callings I can imagine. It is the most challenging job I have ever had, but when I hear my sweet girls tell me, “I love you mom,” and pummel me in a hug, the reward surpasses any frustration I’ve dealt with.

I’m going to mess up, loose my cool, and sometimes overreact. But more than anything, I am going to continue to grow and learn what it looks like to do this mom-thing. I’m going to love my girls #likeamom, I’m going to encourage my girls #likeamom, I’m going to play with my girls #likeamom, and I’m going to continue to pray over my girls #likeamom.

I am brave #likeamom.

I am strong #likeamom.

and I depend on God #likeamom.

While I never imagined that moms would be my target audience, I am honored to share my heart with them (#likeamom) and hope for more opportunities to share with other amazing moms in the future.

*If you happen to be a part of MOPS of Hillside in Keller, TX…I can’t wait to share this with you in greater detail on March 18th*

It’s more than a hobby…(and a giveaway)

more than a hobbyThis past weekend I had the pleasure of attending Re:Write 2015, a writing conference unlike any other. Where some conferences focus solely on the nuts and bolts of writing well, finding agents, understanding the publishing world, etc., Re:Write touched on all of that (with sessions led by industry leaders like George Barna, Sandi Krakowski, Ted Dekker, Mark Batterson, Esther Fedorkevich, and so many others), but focused instead on the heart of the writer.

If you are called to write, the WRITE, anything less is disobedience. ~Mark Batterson (@MarkBatterson)

The heart of the writer can be a scary place. If you are not a writer, let me take you on a little journey.

As you walk up to the edge of the forest, you are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the trees that stand guard. They are strong and mighty, sometimes seemingly impenetrable. You see the scars that have been left, some cut deep through the bark, leaving that place vulnerable for a while until it can heal. The guard can seem intimidating and uninviting, but they serve to protect, not to harm.

As you step past those trees, you step into an open valley that was hidden from the outside. It is bright and welcoming, trusting to all who venture in. The flowers dance to the melody of the breeze, innocently opening to the sunshine above. But there are patches of burnt grasses that contrast to the gentility of the rest of the meadow. Where those burnt patches exist, a tree spouts to serve as a protector. That area will not be hurt again.

Venturing deeper, beyond the guardian trees, and the free-spirit meadow, you come to a ravine. The rocks are jagged and unsteady. A single misstep will guarantee a nasty fall. But despite the danger, you press on, finding a bridge that stretches the length of the ravine, guiding you to safety on the other side.

And once you reach the other side, you step into a place that can only be described as an Eden. The trees here are not so intimidating as they are comforting. The flora throughout isn’t blindly innocent, but rather confident in its beauty and identity. There, at the core, is where the magic of writing exists.

You see, the trees serve as protector against past and future naysayers. They guard the heart and can be perceived as abrasive and off-putting. The innocence of the meadow is the natural joy and childlike faith that is to be a part of every creative. We all have it. But when we get burnt, we try to protect ourselves as to not be hurt again. Then there is the ravine. That is the place of all of our fears and doubts. If we have been burnt enough times, that ravine can overtake the innocence of the meadow. But through trust and faith in Jesus, a bridge is built that connects the meadow to the Eden–the point of creativity and magic.

All writers have their world, and each world looks a little different. But what unites us is the irresistible urge to write and write and write. As Ted Dekker said, “Your writing is mostly your own spiritual practice. It is your healing.” It is how we worship God most purely.

I can make endless excuses not to write:

  • The kids are distracting
  • The house needs to be cleaned
  • Dinner needs to be made
  • It takes too long to get focused and I only have ten minutes
  • I haven’t showered yet and today I have to choose between the two (yes, this was actually a dilemma I have faced and contemplated)
  • and on and on and on…

But it comes back to that ever-so-important question that must be answered before anything else:

Has God called you to write? 

If the answer is yes, THEN WRITE!

I want to encourage any and all of you who are not writers, but are still dreamers. What has God called you to do? What is etched into your DNA like nothing else and you find yourself in a place of actual worship when you do it? Do that. Don’t worry about the details or the reasons not to do it. Step into the identity of who God has made you and own it!

I would love to hear what that is from you. If you don’t want to simply leave a comment below, feel free to email your answer to me at becca@simplylivingthelife.com

I’m going to give away a book to someone who answers, so be sure to respond! 🙂

Trading doubt in myself for the fear of the Lord.

Doubt. Fear. Questioning.

As I sat there holding my new nephew, I was hit with an onslaught of negative emotions causing the tears to fall down my cheeks. In my arms, my nephew sighed contently, blissfully unaware of the turmoil that was suddenly raging through my heart and my mind.

Was I actually good enough to make this my career? I’m not good enough. I’m going to make a fool of myself, embarrass all of those who have stuck their neck out as a reference for me and my work. What was I thinking taking this on?

With each tear that fell, I felt the fear rising up again and again like waves crashing against the security walls surrounding my confidence.

Where this came from is clear enough. Satan hates dreams. His are selfish and solely focused on dominations and destruction, through any means necessary. Dreams that God gives us are in direct conflict with Satan’s schemes. The dreams that come from God are those that don’t serve to uplift that individual, but make tremendous impact on the Kingdom of God. They are selfless and never self-promoting. They focus on God and His wonder and glory. They are a form of worship.

My fears were regarding my dream of being a professional writer and speaker. I found myself scared of being made to look a fool despite my assurance that this desire was given to me by God.

So I did what I do in times like these; I wrote. I wrote my prayer—the cry of my heart. I wrote this post—a processing mechanism to empty my brain from the roller coaster of emotions and thoughts.

This—writing—is my God-given method of processing and worshiping. This is my dream, coming alive with each letter that is typed, each post that is published, each heart that is affected by the sharing of my story.

If the fear of the Lord is my strength, I need not fear anything else.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1 ESV)

I can have this assurance because I know without a shadow of doubt that I am a child of God. I was chosen and created for a specific purpose. The process of refinement can be tedious, but the end result is the culmination of my dream: that God be glorified through my life.

We all have this assurance. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. That love which surpassed even supernatural limitations when God sent His son to live a perfect life and then serve as the intercessory for all of mankind. The penalty has been paid in full and by the blood of Christ Jesus, we have been saved and can now be called children of God.

All that we are, all that we long to be, is by the grace of God alone. Through His love. Through His mercy. Through His sacrifice.

My fear is built on lies from the pit of hell. My self-doubt is Satan’s attempts to sideline me from all that God has called me to do—for the glory of His Kingdom.

  • What fears do you find yourself dealing with, and sometimes succumbing to?
  • Knowing that your identity is built in Jesus, what confidence can you take to stand strong on the dreams that God has given you?

It’s More than Just a Finger

On Wednesday nights I work with the student ministry at my church. My husband and I have had to create a work around to balance this with our daughters and with his work schedule. It’s can be a tad complicated some weeks, but all-in-all, it seems to have worked—if I get my timing correct.

You see, I have to make sure I don’t lose track of time because there is that precarious balance of prepping and cooking dinner, ensuring naps occur but not too long, then gauging the travel time as to not get caught in rush hour madness that would guarantee that I was late.

Once particular afternoon, I thought I was doing well. The girls were starting to get up and I was getting dinner together so it would be finished cooking well before we had to leave—making one less thing for my husband to have to deal with when he got home. Then…yeah then…I don’t even know what actually happened. Somehow or another, I sliced my finger—badly.

Initially I thought it was nothing major, but I couldn’t get it to stop bleeding. I tried calling my husband, but he didn’t answer. I tried calling my sister-in-law (who is a nurse), but she didn’t answer. I tried calling my mother-in-law (who is also a nurse), but she didn’t answer. I was starting to freak out, but I didn’t want to show that to my daughters so I over exaggerated my perceived calmness resulting in deep breaths and my voice octave raising slightly to ensure my tone stayed gentle and my volume remained normal-ish. I didn’t know what to do. Should I go to the ER? I didn’t want to deal with the ER (and everything that goes with that i.e. the bill). It was just a stupid finger for crying out loud!

I end up getting calls back from everyone, drove myself (with my girls) to a walk-in clinic where my husband had already arrived and is getting the paperwork filled out. My finger was still bleeding.

Because of how it was cut, stitches were out of the question, so they cauterize it (sorry if this story is grossing you out. It has a really good point, I swear.)

I had this massive, bright blue bandage on my left pointer finger and once the numbing drug wore off, it hurt—a lot.

I felt like such a baby because it was just a finger! My husband had survived 4 knee surgeries; my mom had gone through more than that. I gave birth to two, good-sized babies but I’m fussing over a stupid finger?!

So. Annoying.

1 Corinthians 12 says:

“For as the body is one and has many members, but all members of that one body, being many are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were baptized into one body…for in fact the body is not one member but many….if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not part of the body, is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 16-20, NKJV)

It’s all too easy to dismiss one measly finger. However, I didn’t realize how the tendons in that finger help the hand and thus, when the finger hurts, the hand is also greatly handicapped.

We do the same with our position—whether in the church or in life. We say things like, “I’m just a mom,” but the impact that a mom can have is eternal. If we don’t fill the position that God has called us to, it will either not be filled or will be filled by someone less adequate.

We are uniquely gifted to do amazing things for God’s kingdom. It is vital that we don’t begin to compare. Just because someone is called to pastor over a congregation, they are not any more important than the person who is called to teach a classroom full of students. The person called to travel overseas to evangelize to nations that have never heard of Jesus is no more important than the person called to serve meals at an inner-city soup kitchen.

We all have our roles, and just like my finger being out of commission became a big deal, just imagine how big of a deal it would be if you chose not to fulfill your calling.

Stop minimizing the role that you play! Stop being jealous of the roles that others play! You have been created to great and mighty things for the Kingdom of God, whether or not you see those results in your lifetime. The impact that you have today could be cataclysmicly significant in twenty, forty, or one-hundred years from now–WHO KNOWS!

My role may only seem to have the eternal significance of a pointer finger on my non-dominant hand. But that finger could type the words that change someone’s mind about their relationship with God. That finger could point to someone in a crowd and remind them of their worth and identity. That finger could be part of the hand that holds the hands of two precious little girls that rock my world. That finger, while little, is vitally important.

So are you.

Children don’t disqualify you from service

As the mom to a four-year-old and a two-year-old, there are times when life feels limited. Whether deciding against hiking a particular trail because it would be too far for the kids to walk, or not going to an event because there isn’t childcare provided, or simply selecting kid-friendly restaurants because there are times when they simply won’t sit politely at the table and eat all of their veggies. Life becomes messy and while children are a tremendous blessing, there are times when it feels like you are giving up opportunities.

As an analytical person, I tend to evaluate situations prior to stepping into them. That means that prior to saying, “yes,” I determine whether or not I have to have my girls with me or if there will be childcare, if they are with me, will they be a distraction? Is it safe for my kids to be around this particular environment? I find myself using my children as excuses as to why I can’t serve.

Of course, there are always exceptions, but how often have I turned down an opportunity to serve because I didn’t think they were old enough or there was a potential danger of some sort? How many times have I missed an opportunity to share Jesus, not only to the individual I would be serving, but to my children as they experienced what it looks like to love like Jesus loved?

It is all to easy to see my children as an excuse of why I can’t. Please understand that I adore my girls. I want to spend time with them and to raise them with wisdom and discernment. I chose to stay home with them and know that I will never regret making that decision.

But I have seen someone on the side of the road, wondered their story, but chose to not get out of the car and start a conversation because I had my girls with me and I wasn’t sure if it would be “safe.” I have seen opportunities to go on a mission trip but didn’t because I thought that if I had my girls with me, they would be a distraction for the other people and it would end up being pointless.

I want my girls to grow up thinking that occasionally paying for the car behind them in a drive-thru is a normal thing to do. I want them to be bold enough to not just offer a homeless woman lunch, but offer to sit and have lunch with her so that they can hear her story and tell her about Jesus. I want my girls to see how Kyle and I serve others so that it will become a natural and instinctive way for them to live their own lives.

I will continue to use discernment in when to say yes and how to serve, but I will not make that decision solely based on the fact that I have young children. I want to have adventures by serving and I want to have those adventures with my entire family–no matter what their age.

Love your neighbor

There is a lot that could be said right now. There is also a lot that should not be said right now (some of which has already been said). My heart aches for both sides of this issue. As a mom, I can’t imagine how painful it is to lose your child (no matter the circumstances) and then to feel as if there was no justice in his death. As someone who has family and friends who serve (or who have served) as LEOs, I can’t imagine how scary situations like this are and how compounded the stress and weight of the decisions that have to be made in an instant must be. For their family members, how scared they must be to know that there are those who assume the worst of civil servants and look to harm them.

I am not going to express an opinion favoring one side or the other. Honestly, I can’t because I was not privy to the same knowledge as the jury so all I have to base my opinion on is speculation and emotion, neither of which are of any real benefit.

The reality is that I thought very hard about what I could possibly add to this very heated discussion. I recognize that I am a white girl who has never dealt with the harsh realities of being racially profiled in a negative light by a police officer. I have been negatively profiled by people I’ve worked with and customers I’ve dealt with, but I won’t assume to know something that I clearly do not understand. While I have friends of many different races, some of whom are as close as family, and I married someone of a different race, I also recognize that being “color blind” is good in theory but not always practical.

There are so many beautiful things about the differences in race. It breaks my heart that we can’t see past the negatives of each other. Name calling, like thug and racist, do nothing to help the situation and if anything only perpetuate either side’s negative opinion.

Until we can reach a point of empathy for both sides, we are missing the point. This should not be a time to belittle one another or to point fingers. I can’t assume to know the heart and intent of either man involved, or of the jury members, or of any of the people who responded peacefully or not. But I can seek to love like Jesus. He told us to love our neighbors, to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us…

If I victimize one and criminalize the other, I am not fulfilling the commandments given by God. Only in love can we see any forgiveness and ultimately reach resolution. Yes, I am over simplifying a painful situation for all who have become involved, but all I can do is to continue to show love toward each person I meet, no matter how similar or different they are from me. Yes, there is still racial prejudices in many parts of our country (toward all races) and that means there is still a lot of work to be done to reach a point of true equality. But again, all I can do is to continue to show love toward each person I interact with.

I hope you all will strive to do the same.

It pains me that I feel the need to add this, but please be aware that while I welcome opposing views, I maintain the right to chose whether or not to publish your comment. If it is in anyway hateful, know that it will not be published. If it is racist (from either side), it will not be published. I am not looking to start more arguments, rather the opposite. I pray that this post will serve to encourage others to remain prayerful, peaceful, and go out of their way to show love in a time of pain and confusion and distrust.

Thank a Veteran Today

Military_Seals-logos_all_branches

As a political science major, the military has always been of great interest to me. For a number of years, I seriously contemplated joining; though why I never did I’m not entirely sure. But what I am sure about is that I am so incredibly grateful for the service that each service man and woman provides—for me and for my freedoms.

My heart breaks when I hear high school students talk with such disdain for the American government classes. They dread the American history classes and when asked some of the basics, it seems as though they haven’t retained any of the information that may or may not have taught.

Studies have shown that many new millennials are confused about what they do or do not believe. They want the help of the government but don’t want the government to control their assets. They want taxes raised for those with a higher income—until they realize that the divide is less than what they believed and they too will be paying more. It makes it difficult to know what you want to support when you haven’t been taught what our government was originally intended to be. Sadly this relates to how people respond to the military.

Everyone wants to cut military spending but don’t realize how little our service men and women actually make. They assume what they do not know and expect to maintain their freedoms without the use of the military. (I’m not even referring to physical battles as much as the necessary need for a strong military that is well trained, well equipped, and well cared for—both during their service and after they retire).

But I don’t want this to be a rant post. I want this to be a letter of thanks. So let’s instead focus on that.

To each man and woman who is serving currently and to all who have ever served in the United States military:

Thank you. It is because of your sacrifices and service that I have the right to speak my opinion, to work for myself, to raise my children without fear, and to practice my faith how I deem necessary.

To each man, woman, and child who is family to a service man or woman (present or past):

Thank you. I know that you are often times over-looked but I have seen the struggle and sacrifice that you go through as well. With each deployment, with each move, with each adjustment…It is because of your love and support, your family is able to serve.

On this Veteran’s Day, I implore each of you to take a moment and find a way to thank your present and past military. No matter what your beliefs are, they are serving you and deserve your honor and deepest respect.

A special thank you to the veterans in my own family: my grandfather (USAF), my brother-in-law (ARMY), and my cousins (NAVY and USAF). I am honored to call you family and I am so grateful for your service.

God bless our military men and women.