How many children do you have? I have 2 children (5 and almost 8) and I am pregnant with another.
How old are your children? My son will be 8 in May and my daughter is 5. I am 5 months pregnant with my third.
Are you a mom of girls or boys? I have one of each and plan to be surprised with this one. However, I feel like I know. I have been a mom since 2014. However, I felt like a teacher mom to my students ever since I started teaching in 2006.
How does having this treasure of Christ influence and transform your approach and ability to mother?
Christ changed everything for me. He changed me. Growing up, I never felt like enough. Once I learned that I didn’t have to be, it changed everything. God is enough for us. He is our source of everything. Through motherhood, He showed me that I didn’t need to hold onto the past and chains. I didn’t need to accept anxiety as part of who I was. Instead, He guided me to break free. He broke me free. I had to turn to my eyes and heart to the Word and daily Bible reading and time in His presence to see that Jesus already held the victory over everything.
My two part book series is part of something God placed on my heart: Be who you needed when you were younger.
Looking back on my childhood, I remember 3 things about that little girl so vividly.
1. I was a dreamer with a HUGE imagination.
2. I loved reading and writing.
3. I worried.
For me, anxious thoughts started at a very young age. In fact, so many memories of my youth were ones of fear. I didn’t talk about it though because I felt ashamed. Then there was the social anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and eating disorder of my preteen/teenager years.
I sought to be perfect and hid behind my smile, good grades, sports and anything I could. Yet, I was starving to be seen and still ashamed. I wanted everyone to know I really was beautiful, but the shame blinded me into thinking I was ugly.
Then, there was college and my twenties. While the anxiety and disordered eating was still there, it looked differently: insomnia, ocd, and while I was no longer starving myself, I found comfort in things like counting calories still and drinking away my shame. While it all piled up, I still wrote and talked to God. I wasn’t listening as much as I was talking though.
Can God really use your baggage for something better?
Now skip ahead to being a new mom thrown into the world of food allergies.
After my son’s first anaphylactic reaction to dairy, we learned he had 21 potential food allergies. Because of his health at the time, I too gave up the foods to continue breastfeeding him.
While I was no longer limiting calories, I was still counting on most days. (It had been 20 years of doing so at that point.) But God is faithful to His promises, and the words that He had once placed in my young fifteen-year-old heart saying that I would overcome the eating disorder fully, came true.
It was in doing that elimination diet for my son, that I no longer felt that I needed to keep track of calories. I was free of the addiction! It was gone! It was a moment I will never forget.
I remember wanting to tell everyone but thinking no one will ever believe me. And yet it didn’t matter because I’m not sure anyone even knew…but God knew.
How has God preserved you through the pressures of being a mom & How has God seen you through a “dark” period in motherhood?
He has preserved me and saved me from my own messes. However, after that experience with my son and being so free of disordered eating, the anxiety showed up in different ways.
After I had my daughter, I learned from a counselor that I had been battling PTSD from my son’s reaction and also postpartum anxiety. A precious miscarriage and other health issues including a breast lump sent me chasing answers.
From depression to post traumatic stress disorder and postpartum anxiety, my mind was always in an internal battle, often silent until it overflowed. Because of it, I was full of shame, guilt and fear. But God… He is such a good, good Father. He still loved me, just like He still loves us all.
At that time, the reality was I still had much to deal with. I had past experiences that I had to stop blaming my issues on. I needed to let go of it and not leave anything behind as an excuse to fall back on. And luckily my husband being the straight shooter he is, spoke that truth to me. After briefly being insulted, I realized he was right. I had to break the cycles and forgive. I needed to forgive some people, including myself. For there is such freedom in forgiveness.
This is when I truly started seeking the One who holds all the answers and strength. I started seeking God’s presence. I didn’t want to live in the cycles of anxiety anymore. I wanted freedom and so I immersed my life however and wherever I could with God’s truths. It led me to find a wonderful therapist at the time who encouraged me to grow in faith too. I started to get involved at my church, and started reading and reflecting on the Bible every single day. It is when I truly accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. It is when healing started to overflow my life.
And that is when the miracle happened, in the most unlikely of places and situations. I was set free.
What are some falsehoods that you believed your role as a mother?
When I started as a mom, I was still stuck on the unattainable ideals of perfectionism. I needed to have things in order all the time, my lists checked off, my plans followed.
However, I soon learned that I needed to lean into God’s plan for my life, and that I needed to listen and obey it. I learned that I did not need to listen to every opinion thrown at me or the ever-changing fads of the world.
God gave me my children for a reason. Therefore, He equipped me with whatever I needed for all things we faced. I needed to turn to Him and the Holy Spirit to help me with it all. And I certainly needed to stop looking for validation and confirmation from every person in my life. That comes from the Lord.
Share a miracle!
Like stated above, got a phone call at work after starting to truly heal, that I had a baseball-size tumor on my ovary and due to its size they were concerned it was cancerous.
My first thought was, ‘I literally just started to heal, and now this.’ I felt myself starting to spiral back to old ways as I went to the bathroom to wipe away the tears. That is when I heard a whisper in my heart, “Don’t go back. I need you right here.” I know God doesn’t need any of us, but, He loves us so much and wants our very best.
I heard the words and I knew I couldn’t go back. I felt it in all of my being. So I vowed at that moment that I would lift it up and lean on God. At the time, I didn’t know the significance of those words, or that it would be a moment that changed everything for me. Despite battling anxiety for decades, what seemed impossible, happened – I was set free from it! And I began to experience something so amazing: true joy… the joy of Jesus and nothing can take that away.
As you can see, it did not happen overnight. It was a process that unfolded blessings through the battles that I myself would never have been able to do on my own. God’s plans are always so much greater than what we can devise. No matter what the lies of guilt and shame tell us… He knows us. He sees us. He loves us all even through our imperfections and messes.
And another miracle…
After my son’s first anaphylactic reaction to dairy, I was overwhelmed with emotions. Then, we learned he had 21 potential food allergies that needed to be avoided.
It. Was. A Lot.
It felt impossible! But God… Within four years, 21 went to 3!
God IS the God of miracles. He can do the impossible. Keep believing. Keep praying. Keep praising.
Which scripture(s) gives you strength to keep going?
There are so many but Nehemiah 8:10 is one. Through it all, the joy of the Lord is my strength.
To sum up, much of my battle was internal. No one, or very few, ever even knew. I hide behind my smile and the impossible ideals of perfection. That’s why I believe so strongly in being kind. We just never know what someone is walking through.
Another reality is I still get scared. I am human and real, not perfect. The times still provoke fear, and I start to sense the anxiousness but, it’s different now. I recognize it and fight back in faith. And, I have beautiful and honest people in my life who remind me too (aka that lovely truth-speaking hubby of mine).
My chains were broken, and I breathe and live differently now. I know joy, and my heart wants that for everyone. Everyone deserves an abundant life with Christ. God has everything we need. He continues to mercifully teach me step-by-step how to rely more and more on Him, and to seek and praise Him through it all.
And that is just some of the reason why I know I must continue to write, share and publish works and books that bring the hope of Jesus to others. I wish God’s words had filled my mind back then more than those worries. But my wish has become my work as I become who I needed when I was younger, or rather, to speak and teach of Who I needed, Jesus.
It is my role as a believer, wife, mother, teacher and friend to teach love, kindness, courage, and the hope of Jesus. God can take our messes and turn them into such beautiful messages of hope. So while my house may be overflowing with laundry and the clutter of toys these days, my heart overflows with joy, and I would have it no other way.
And that is the heart behind my books and writing. That is the heart behind “The Art of a Messy House.”
Since our inception in 2020, For the Moms has received over 2500 views in over almost 30 countries!
I am all the more grateful for the women (like Jen) who have chosen to join me on this journey of transparency. I can’t thank you enough.
For the Moms is an annual written blog series which aims to ignite and connect Godly Women in various stages of Motherhood toward the revelation of their Divinely given assignment and their impact as the gatekeepers of the home.
The purpose and mission is to elevate Christ and conceptualize Godly character in Motherhood – and to reach down and pull up those Mothers who are just starting, who are understandably worn, or who have somehow lost their way.
Further, For the Moms is a movement that is calling to attention the warriors within us for the times in which we live. We will aim to unravel the mistakes and cycles of generations past. We will wage war for our families. And, we will diligently seek the Lord’s face concerning His will for our children, and who we are becoming through our Motherhood.
My prayer is that the women who lay eyes on the For the Moms Series, will be encouraged, emboldened, and all the more hopeful.
For the Moms,