For the Moms – “Bold & Brave” with Cheryl Shumake

For the Moms - Bold & Brave

How many children do you have? 1 biological child, 3 bonus children.

How old are your child(ren) OR how long have you been a mom? I have been a mom for 28 years, a bonus mom for 13 years. All of them are adults and living on their own now.

Are you a mom of girls, boys, or both? I am a mom of 3 girls and 1 boy. My biological child is a girl.


How have I had to be bold and brave in the last year?

I had a biopsy earlier in December, 2019 to rule out endometrial cancer.  My family and I spent the rest of December preparing for the holiday. I put the test out of my mind. The morning of December 26, 2019, I sat in my living room for a time of devotion, worship, and prayer. I could not get past Psalm 23:1, The Lord is my Shepherd… My heart lifted in adoration to the Lord who had stretched the heavens as a curtain, who commands the sea, defeated death, and reigns supreme.  My husband and I ventured to the store then returned home to relax. Around 12:30 the phone rang. My doctor was on the other end. It was cancer.

At some point I made my way back to the living room and sat down. Speaking to the Lord, I said, “OK Daddy. They say I have cancer. What are we going to do about that?” There was no answering impression on my heart. No comforting scripture came to mind. As I waited in silence and solitude, a question bubbled up in my heart, “What’s changed?”  I looked around my beautiful living room. Nothing was missing, the walls were not cracked, the world had not shifted off its axis. I replied, “Nothing has changed. You are still the Lord who stretched the heavens like a curtain…” In that moment I recognized I do not get to tell the Lord what to do with my life which belongs to Him. I continued in worship, “Whether I live or die, whatever You decide to do, glorify Yourself and magnify Your name through this! Let even my brokenness serve You!”

There is something about facing one’s mortality that clarifies what is important, what is reliable, what is true. I had once declared, “I will no longer live like God is small.” I had no idea the mechanism the Lord would use to break me free of timidity and self-reliance would be cancer. In the ensuing months, while recovering from surgery to remove the cancer, and at the start of the COVID shut down, the Lord instructed me to launch Stepmom Sanity. I had no idea how to, but I was assured by God’s faithfulness, and emboldened by His power at work within me, that He would equip me with every resource needed. Which He has. I took my first steps towards greater boldness and bravery in the surrender of my life to the point of death. To the degree I have deeper surrender, I live greater boldness, I possess a grace which increases bravery. Both of which serve my King and propagates His agenda in my family, in the organization He has blessed me to steward, in my life…for His glory.

Cheryl Shumake
Blended & StepFamily Educator, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, StepMom-Preneuer
For the Moms - Bold & Brave

Speak to the life of a Mom who is weary and burned out.

There is a scripture, written in script, framed in an old, weathered picture frame, hanging in my office. It is John 15:16, which reads:

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

It’s a reminder to me that our lives are on purpose by design. Chosen. Appointed. For a reason. Our efforts yield a sustainable, Kingdom harvest, in the work we are given to do. You and I are parenting for eternity.

God is for you. God loves you. God gives you everything you need to accomplish His plan and purpose for your life. All of Heaven fights for you. Even your desire to please Him comes from Him.  It is mind-blowing to say the least. You are God’s beloved and He will prosper you in your parenting. Your labor is not in vain. An abundant harvest for the things you’ve sown in faith, obedience, and love is coming your way.

Relax. Give it over to the Lord. He sees and He knows. 

We do not have to manufacture the breakthrough necessary to overcome weariness and burn out. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. In the same way the Holy Spirit is responsible for producing His fruit in our lives in increasing degrees of abundance, He also does the work of transforming. We are being made new every single day. Not by our might, wisdom, ability, or efforts, but by the Spirit of the Living God. Our task is to tilt our hearts towards Him for refreshing: stay prayerful, meditate on His promises, worship Him. We position. God does the refreshing. He also gives us friends to talk to and therapists to process with. Rest. Rest is as much a command as is worship. (It’s number 4 of the 10 commandments). According to Jesus, it was made for you (Mark 2:27-28). Take it.

What do you believe is creating fear for mothers in this present time? How has the Lord quieted fear in your life?

I believe, more than anything else, the current culture of relativism is creating fear for mothers. Beyond the rejection of biblical truth, there has been a distinct societal shift of acceptance and indoctrination of conduct, beliefs, and positions that are anti-biblical. Long before they are ready to defend their faith, in places once deemed safe, children are being challenged for belief in Jesus Christ, belief in the traditional definition of “male” and “female”, and belief in an absolute truth. Certainly, it takes a great deal of courage to raise a family in these perilous times.

It also takes a great deal of trust in the faithfulness of God. When we are fully convinced of God’s love for and His goodness towards us, we will recognize He can be trusted with what causes us anxiety. When we are fully convinced of His faithfulness and integrity, we will rest in His promises. During tumultuous, anxiety-producing times in my life, the Lord quieted my heart with remembrances of His faithful shepherding. It was how He led David to encourage Solomon when Solomon was anxious and fearful about building the temple.

1 Chronicles 28:20 reads: David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.

I am struck by David’s imploring, “my God.” In other words, “This isn’t just any God we’re talking about. This is MY GOD! You’ve heard the stories, Solomon. This is MY God, who helped me slay Goliath! MY God, who kept me safe while on the run from Saul! MY God… THAT God is with you.” Through David, the Lord reminded Solomon that He is able, faithful, and with him, as much as He was with David. Knowing the faithful God who steered me through yesterday’s storms will be with me through tomorrows instills confidence and hope. I encourage moms who are anxious about their children growing up in this culture to grab hold of God’s promises for your children, rehearse His track record of goodness in your life, recognize His love for you and your children, and trust Him.

What advice would you give to the mom struggling to find time to fulfill her responsibilities and find time to spend with the Lord?

Where you are is okay. There are seasons to life and our Sovereign God is not ignorant of the demanding call to mother children. Get creative. Enlist the help of Dad. Ask him to take over care of the children while you spend time with the Lord. Wake up a little earlier. This may be a season when you have to “steal” time to be with the Lord. And, there are so many resources to help us do this. For example, Mom may need to “listen” to her daily bible reading while she’s cooking dinner. Maybe she and the children can worship the Lord together with songs the children enjoy. Maybe she stays in the bathroom an extra 5 minutes and uses that time to pray. 

The other thing I would say is: Don’t struggle. Follow the rhythm of grace. Go with what is available. God never intended time with Him to become another regimented practice of religion. Rather, it is opportunity for fellowship with the King of Glory. It is time we’ve set apart to be with the Lord, learn of Him, hear from Him, without distraction. If you find today is not conducive for 30 minutes at 6:00 AM, grab 15 minutes at Noon. Get together with another mom for a playdate and each of you take 15 minute breaks to spend time with the Lord.

Last, invite God into your struggle. Pray about your desire to carve out more time with Him. Ask Him to help you in the prioritization of the your “have to’s,” “want to’s,” and “get to’s.”  He wants to spend time with us as well. Ask Him for His help. 

What 5 items would someone find packed in your mommy survival kit?

Stepmoms are besieged by emotional turbulence. Not that all moms aren’t but it’s different for a Bonus Mom. She gets all of the grunt of “momming” with little to no reward of being a mom. I advise all the women I get to serve to have a survival kit, which I call the Stepmom Bugout Bag. It’s her metaphorical goody-bag filled with the people, places, or things that feed her soul, releases the tension, and restores mental equilibrium and emotional well-being. With these, she get out of her emotions, recalibrate, and return to her family the wonderful wife, mom, stepmom she is. At minimum she should have: 

  • A Bold, Truth-Telling Friend: 

Thank God for friends who love enough to not placate. From them, we get only so long to wallow and complain. When there’s a break in our ranting, they lead us back to truth. We get heard and then we hear what we need to hear. 

  • A Happy Place:

My happy place happens to be by the water. Give me water. Any body of water. I have cried, prayed, thought, talked, relaxed, and released by the water. It’s the place where I feel comforted, centered, and small, in a good way. Every mom needs to identify hers and go there. As often as she can.

  • A Life – Giving Hobby:

I needed a mental break after a rough stepmom day. Without much thought or intention, I grabbed my camera, lenses, and took myself to a park. After fooling around for a few hours photographing dogs, kites, people, and flowers, I remembered how much I actually like taking pictures. My trek began as an escape and ended with joy. Discover or re-discover a hobby that lets you get away. 

  • A Therapist:

Find a good therapist and keep his/her phone number in your contact list. Even after completing therapy you may find yourself needing an emotional tune-up. You’ll thank me later.

  • Something Bigger Than Your Life:

As horrible as being treated like an also-ran can be, there is someone who is experiencing worse. This is not to diminish the emotional upheaval we can experience as moms and stepmoms. However, serving those who are without homes, suffering food insecurity, or those who are recently rescued from sex trafficking, keeps things in perspective for me, and infuses my heart with gratitude despite the occasional dust-ups.


Cheryl Shumake
Blended & StepFamily Educator, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, StepMom-Preneuer

For the Moms - Bold & Brave
Follow Cheryl! Website: www.stepmomsanity.com
Facebook: Stepmom Sanity
Twitter: @stepmomsanity
Instagram: @stepmomsanity
Email: info@stepmomsanity.com

I am all the more grateful for the women (like Cheryl) who have chosen to join me on this journey of transparency and support – ESPECIALLY in addition to the life adjustments and loads we all experienced in the midst of the last year! I can’t thank you enough.

Connection and support are vital to our growth and survival as humans and as Women. I have met many Mothers (myself included at one point) who are going through the trenches and carrying loads solo. This has often led to depression, loneliness, isolation, and such guilt and shame in “not measuring up”.

My prayer is that the women who lay eyes on “Bold & Brave”, will be encouraged, emboldened, and all the more hopeful.

For the Moms,

Hannah


This series is for the Moms! In honor of Mothers, this May will be chock-full of real stories of Motherhood from Moms of all ages, in all stages. Join me as I feature different Moms (on a weekly basis) who will so graciously be sharing their life in words.

If you missed the previous feature, catch it here! Stay tuned for more stories of triumph, valleys, and faith.




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