Strength and Dignity

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future (Proverbs 31:25). That is the scripture God gave me for this blog, and it seemed fitting for the journey He had me on at the time. I have been through some very emotional and spiritual trials the last few years that have really stretched my faith, so the idea to base my blog on a scripture that speaks of strength and laughing without fear was perfect. I have privately stood spiritually on this scripture through many battles as I tried to be the wife and mother I needed to be during those hardships. I viewed this scripture to mean strength of character, emotions and principles…dignity meaning to hold it together and “be there” for others…and of course overcoming fear (which was a big one considering the trials we were and are still facing). This scripture applies to all of those things, and I believe God has used His Word to impart those versions of strength, dignity and freedom from fear, but lately He has shown me another application; to press further into following all that He has for me, and I believe when God speaks it isn’t just meant for one person. I believe we are meant to share the truths and encouragement given to us, to further encourage and inspire others that may be on similar journeys. So for me, sharing a new journey I am starting is not a way to say “look at me and what I’m doing”, but rather a way to encourage and speak to anyone that feels they are alone and needs someone to come alongside them. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

God has given me a second focus for the words strength, dignity and overcoming fear in Proverbs 31:25. He has told me to focus on being strong physically in my body and my health. I’m going to be vulnerable and just tell you that this new journey, this “new revelation” of this scripture is not something that is easy for me at ALL. I mean yes, everyone knows we need to be healthy and we need to exercise, but if you are anything like me, that does not come naturally or enjoyably. Anyone that knows me could tell you how I drink coke (like only coke, and a lot of coke…well occasionally sweet tea, but mostly coke) and eat candy, sweets, pasta and Mexican food (well not as much now that we are in California instead of Texas). I have never had to worry about gaining weight, which most of my life I’ve had to listen to “oh that must be nice,” but no one ever stops to realize how I have struggled to gain weight at times or been called anorexic. Or if they are concerned with how skinny I am they comment on how I don’t eat much and something must be “wrong.” I’ve had my physicals and testing done and I just have a fast metabolism, I am not “sick.” My point is,  I think we can all agree that the number on the scale is not the only criteria for being healthy or unhealthy. It is not the only way to measure the strength and vitality with which you live life, and while I have been small my whole life, that does not mean that I am necessarily “in shape.”

If I am to carry myself with dignity, then I must have enough self-respect for my body to take care of it the way God intended.

God revealed that being clothed with strength and dignity means not only am I strong spiritually and emotionally, but that my body is strong and able to carry out all of the roles He has called me to fulfill. Dignity means, “bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect.” If I am to carry myself with dignity, then I must have enough self-respect for my body to take care of it the way God intended. “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Laughing without fear of the future, when applied to taking care of my body physically, is most exemplified when I lay down my insecurities and expectations. Pushing aside the physical insecurities and flaws and not allowing whatever size, shape or fitness level I am at to keep me from stepping out of my comfort zone and believing who God says I am. Giving every expectation of my physical outcome to God and releasing Him to work in my spirit, soul and body. Not allowing the fear of failing (again) to hold me back or allow myself to not even try.  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

It is God’s power and strength working in us that will enable us to be disciplined in our physical bodies. We have to give God our bodies, worship Him through our workouts and right eating and die to self if we want to ever see a breakthrough in our health.

So what does being healthy and strong physically look like for me? Well, it does not look like going to extremes and changing everything at once. It means educating myself on the biblical principles behind eating organic. It means taking baby steps to slowly trade out one or two things every month for a healthier alternative. It means drinking more water (and less coke… which I have already changed since moving back to California). And it means sticking with an exercise program of stretching with light free weights every day and running/training for a 5K 3 days a week. I have already been stretching with weights for a few months now, but this week is the start of running. I have NEVER been a runner! I get out of breath just walking. So this is a HUGE 0E5C29C2-5CDA-42F9-AD56-B16D2AD88262challenge for me. But… I am a runner now!

When God asked me to share my journey, I was fearful of being so open and vulnerable. Fearful of the level of accountability sharing this publicly would provide, however God reminded me that He has called me to be vulnerable. He has called me to share my stories and struggles with others so that they might receive comfort and encouragement. So I want to ask you. How are you honoring God with your body? Are you clothing yourself with strength and dignity? What are some small changes physically you can make today that would further your purpose and calling? Join me in this new adventure as I put my running shoes on and share my journey to getting spiritually, emotionally and physically fit!

“Rise up, take courage, and do it!” (Ezra 10:4)

I am Brave

I am Strong

I have Courage

I Do NOT Fear

I Can Do the Hard Things

I Can Do ALL Things through Christ who gives me Strength

I am the Head and Not the Tail

I am Blessed Coming In and Blessed Going Out

Everything I set my Hands to Will Prosper

 

*Follow my running/fitness updates, struggles and achievements on my She Is Instagram and FB Page

 

Stepping Out In Obedience {Litfuse Book Review of Chasing Famous and Giveaway}

There are seasons in our lives that often require more obedience than others, times when God repeatedly draws us out of our comfort zones and asks us to trust His plan for our lives. This past year God has asked me to do a lot of things that have grown my character and beliefs in my own abilities. He has asked me to trust him and obey through some pretty uncertain circumstances and He has always shown Himself faithful. Each of the new endeavors He has brought me to have stretched my faith and forced me to push past fear, and rise up with courage to face the task before me. I often have wondered, “ok God, what are you thinking? There is no way I can do that!” None of these things have been easy for me to do, in fact I am still struggling with a few of them, but I have clearly heard His voice and I know from experience that even if we don’t understand, we will be more fulfilled and blessed when we follow through with obedience to what God is calling us to do. I also know that ultimately it is not my comfort or success that is the end goal. His plan and His purpose through my life is to bring glory to His name. To be a light and point others to Jesus.

Along this new journey of obedience, God allowed me to cross paths with author Lisa Lloyd, from one of my writing communities and I became part of her book launch team and blog tour for her new book, Chasing Famous (Living the Life You’ve Always Chasing FamousAuditioned For). God’s timing is always perfect. This book spoke to me right where I am. It was confirmation that I am pursuing the passion and purpose God has for my life and it encouraged me to keep my focus on making God’s name famous and not my own success.

In Chasing Famous, Lisa does a good job of giving a call to action, while encouraging and empathizing with the obstacles you might face when pursuing your passion. Whether you are pondering what calling God has placed on your life, or you are fearful to step out in obedience because of insecurities and a lack of qualifications, she points you to the truth of who God says you are and shows you the way to freedom in choosing to follow His plan over your own. She uses her knowledge and background in the acting industry as a creative guide to help you through the process of discovering your gifts and talents and using them to bring God glory.

I love this quote from chapter nine where Lisa addresses the trap of striving for our own success,

“God isn’t concerned about my number of blog followers, whether I publish countless books, speak to a stadium full of women, or even book a national commercial. But God will hold me accountable for making Him famous while I live-to my kids, my husband, my neighbors, to the cashier at the grocery store, and the employee at the drive-through.”

She also encourages us to stop comparing our gifts and purpose to others,

“When we are ungrateful for what God’s given us and we compare ourselves to what others have, we become preoccupied by what they are doing and how God could be glorifying Himself through them instead of focusing on what we are doing and how He can glorify Himself through us. And we may go after something God never intended for us to have.”

Throughout the book, I found myself excited to be on the journey God is leading me on and found confirmation on several decisions I had before me. I would definitely recommend Chasing Famous as a valuable resource for anyone that is actively pursuing God’s calling on their life, it will present insights and application on how to move forward in that process.

Here is the link to find out more and purchase Lisa’s new book, Chasing Famous. http://litfusegroup.com/author/llloyd

Lisa Lloyd’s ‘Chasing Famous’ Prize Pack Giveaway

Did you know you’re constantly, often unconsciously, auditioning for a part? Learn how to master these issues and turn the spotlight on God with the help of Lisa Lloyd’s new book, Chasing Famous. Chasing Famous is a redemptive book that teaches us how to take the focus off ourselves and shift it back on to the glory of God. Written by a professional actress who readily admits that she is the most self-centered person she knows, Chasing Famous provides practical and sometimes humorous examples of scriptural truth that will help you master the natural self-centered tendencies of life.

Discover what life really means when the focus is on God and enter to win Lisa’s Spotlight on God Prize Pack!

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on April 28. The winner will be announced May 1 on the Litfuse blog.

*DISCLAIMER: I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THIS BOOK FOR MY HONEST REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN.

The Truth Behind Postpartum Depression

So what is the truth behind postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression is an identity thief and a lie straight from the pit of hell. It’s that simple. It is a tool Satan uses to steal our identity and prevent us from moving forward into the calling God has for us. It’s a deception that blinds us to the truth of who we are in Christ, who we are as a wife and who we are as a mother. The lie says, “You are alone,” when in truth, God is always with us. This identity thief is waging spiritual war against our bodies, souls and spirits and often the lies are so convincing that we can’t even recognize truth through the darkness. Postpartum depression is a spiritual attack against our womanhood and the very specific calling of motherhood. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”IMG_9558.PNG (Ephesians 6:12) Satan will use any method he can to stop us from fulfilling our Godly roles as mothers and raising up the next generation to serve Jesus. He knows if he can keep us broken and bound in emotional turmoil, not knowing who we are through Christ Jesus, then he doesn’t have to worry about us making an impact.

Knowing this truth about postpartum depression does not, however, make the symptoms during everyday life any less real or painful. Knowing this doesn’t mean we won’t experience suffering, struggles and heartache. It just means we need to keep this truth in the forefront of our minds so we do not become lost during the process. We need to know what is happening spiritually, as well as in the natural so that we are adequately prepared for the enemy’s attacks.

I experienced PPD after my first and third born daughters and my miscarriage. After my second, I did not have any PPD at all. My first experience greatly prepared me for this last time and I am very grateful the effects have been severely less this time around. With my first born, PPD started at the hospital. I remember holding her in the hospital room and not feeling any sort of connection. I didn’t feel overwhelming love or experience a special bonding moment with her. I didn’t cry about it, just sat puzzled, thinking that maybe something was wrong with me. I pushed those thoughts aside and gently, almost as if I was trying to convince myself, whispered “I love you. I promise. I am so thankful for you.” Other than that brief moment in the hospital, I didn’t have any symptoms of PPD until she was 3 months old. By then, I had absolutely fallen madly in love with my baby girl. The worry I had at the distant connection to her was long gone, and I loved being a mom. It was then that I also began experiencing irrational and overwhelming irritability and anger. My husband, unfortunately, carried the brunt of these uncontrollable bursts of anger. I would be happy and in a great mood one second, and the next I would be extremely angry or irritated. I would either explode into a yelling fit or run away to be by myself because I couldn’t handle the situation. I am so thankful my anger was never directed at my children, and I am also grateful my PPD was never so severe that I was in danger of harming anyone. I walked around in a fog, caught up in the thoughts rolling around in my head. I would replay tense situations, real and imagined, in my head until I was emotionally worked up over nothing. When I cried, it was because I hated how out of control I felt. I wasn’t sad, but I felt broken. My heart still hurts deeply at how I pushed my husband away.

Until I experienced postpartum depression myself, I didn’t understand the reality of it

PPD is different for every woman and the way symptoms are coped with is different as well. Some people feel immense sadness and cry, others experience irritability and anger like I did, and for some it is so bad they become suicidal or seek to harm others. These are all very real and uncontrollable symptoms that should be acknowledged. It’s important to have a support system. Surround yourself with loved ones that will encourage and not belittle, that will listen when you need to confide. However, be selective with who you do talk to. Most people will not be able to understand and when you are going through this darkness, the slightest tone of judgment can be harmful. I have lost friends and pushed family away because they couldn’t understand why I didn’t confide in them. Until I experienced postpartum depression myself, I didn’t understand the reality of it. There are chemical and hormonal changes that happen in our bodies during the first two years postpartum, along with sleep deprivation and nutrient deficiencies. All of these things contribute to postpartum depression. Having come through PPD several times, I spent a lot of time researching various treatments and preventative measures and plan on sharing those later on. There are little changes that can be applied that do not eliminate PPD, but certainly help in dealing with its effects.

The truth is that postpartum depression is very real and moms everywhere are suffering. I personally went to hell and back suffering through postpartum depression and questioning God on the why. Why did I have to have this? Why did I lack control over my emotions? Why didn’t anyone else I know deal with this? I became angry at God because I couldn’t understand. The whys in this life will drive us to desperation. Even Jesus himself, his broken body hanging on the cross, asked “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Sweet friend, if you are in the throes, or just coming out of postpartum depression please know that you are not alone. So many women experience different levels of PPD and the enemy keeps us quiet in shame. In Ann Voskamp’s book, The Broken Way, she says, “The real Jesus turns to our questions of why-why this brokenness, why this darkness?- and says, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. This happened so the power of God could be IMG_9560.PNGseen in him.” There’s brokenness that’s not about blame. There’s brokenness that makes a canvas for God’s light.” Paul says in 2 Corinthians, “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

Friend, hear my heart when I say I know what you are going through. I know how difficult each day, each moment is in this journey of motherhood. But our heavenly Father doesn’t leave us alone. He is there with us in our suffering and heartache. God covers us with His grace, which is sufficient in ALL things. (2 Corinthians 9:8) This coverage of grace is summed up well by Ann Voskamp in The Broken Way, “Over all of us is the image of the wounded God, the God who breaks open and bleeds with us. How do you live with your one broken heart? All I can think is-only the wounds of God can heal our wounds”…”suffering is healed by suffering”…”bad brokenness is healed by His good brokenness. Bad brokenness is broken by good brokenness.” The truth is that postpartum depression is an identity thief. The greater truth is knowing that our identity is found in Christ and His grace is sufficient in our suffering.

Additional Resources:

Knowing Who I Am In Christ

Postpartum Support International

 

She Is Proverbs3125 FB Prayer Group

Pull Up and Dig Deep

Try as I might, over the last several weeks, I just couldn’t find the words. I knew that God called me to share my struggle with postpartum depression, but I wasn’t prepared for just how difficult it would be to write. I sat alone at my computer one day reliving some of the worst moments I had experienced during motherhood, struggles with postpartum depression that I would rather not admit to or acknowledge. Those memories brought a flood of negative emotions and I found myself unwilling or unable to write my story. That day I didn’t have the words that would help some young momma know that she will get through it. I didn’t have the wisdom to share practical advice to get her through the day.path2 I’m still learning how to deal with the effects of postpartum depression myself and don’t yet feel qualified to speak life and truth into someone else that feels alone. My experience, postpartum, has been vastly different with each of the four children I carried in my body. I developed postpartum depression with my first and third born daughters, as well as with my miscarriage. However, with my second born daughter I had zero postpartum depression. I know that God has called me to use my insight into the differences and experiences in marriage and motherhood with and without postpartum depression to encourage freedom in women. I know He has asked me to use my influence to shine a light on His grace and restoration that is available to mothers in similar life circumstances. Yet, on the day I decided to finally be obedient and vulnerable, the enemy so vividly threw me back into that dark place where raw emotion and reactions were uncontrollable.

Satan’s schemes are never new, he always resorts to shame. If he can get us to slink down in self-pity, he has succeeded. Satan so effortlessly silenced the message God wants me to share by throwing me into a spiraling descent of fear, regret, anger and disappointment. I wonder how often we have succumbed to the plans of the enemy by allowing our insecurities to stop us from stepping out into obedience.

But God…

God knows the weight of what He has asked each of us to do. He knows every move and attack the enemy has prepared against us. He also knows that if we rely on Him, we can pull ourselves up and do the hard things. We can do everything through Christ, who gives us strength. God knows what it costs to be obedient and vulnerable with His calling on our lives, and if we will dig deeper into His Word we will feel His presence go with us into the battle field.  God will take our hand and walk alongside us when we feel we can’t move forward. He will wait patiently for us to realize what He already knows, that we are strong and we are capable. When we are lost and don’t have the words, He will light the path with His Word.

…if we rely on him, we can pull ourselves up and do the hard things.

God doesn’t ask us to do it all. Even if we take baby steps in obedience, at least we are making progress. He showed me through not having the words to write about my struggle that I am strong enough to pull myself up and dig deep into His promises. Perseverance was cultivated in my spirit to fulfill His calling and to make sure that my daughters know their mother doesn’t give up just because something is hard. I want them to look at me and say, “She is steadfast. She is strong and able.” I want to be an example and encouragement to other women to not give up because you hit a bump in the road. I want you to know that you aren’t alone and you can pull yourself up with God’s strength if you will dig deep into His truth. You are steadfast. You are strong. You are able.

 

Called to Vulnerability

She is brave…

She is vulnerable…

She is strong…

At first glance, the idea that a woman can be both strong and vulnerable seems to contradict itself, when actually it’s because a woman is brave enough to unleash a vulnerable heart in this world that she becomes strong. Restoration for our souls and true connection in our relationships are only cultivated through vulnerability. If women are ever going to come together to support one another, we must stop hiding behind this false sense of perfectionism. Comparison and insecurity are the root cause of our carefully constructed facades and neither can live where God’s love has settled. We must choose to allow God’s love to fill our hearts and enable us to cast down fear and be vulnerable.

As women, we tend to put up walls and pretend everything is fine in our lives. We don’t want people knowing our “stuff” or having our weaknesses on display. I get it. Opening up and being vulnerable with anyone outside my immediate family has always been a struggle for me. I don’t like or want the attention and I care too much about what others think of me. But we can’t hide because we are ashamed that we are going through a difficulty and don’t have it all together.

If we are going to reach the lost, help loved ones heal or find restoration for our own souls it has to come through connection, through relationship and being vulnerable enough to say, “This is what I am going through and I need someone to listen” or, “This is my story and this is how God brought me through it.” When you truly connect with a person and allow God to open your heart up, their response is almost always, “Really? Me too!” Something you say takes hold and lets them know they are not the only one going through that situation. Women need mentors on the other side of issues to encourage them. We even need people to just listen and say, “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here for you.” Even if our stories are not exactly alike or my “stuff” isn’t nearly as bad as yours, woven through the hardships are similar threads of light, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, faithfulness and healing that God can use for each unique situation. His truth and biblical principles enable all of us to connect and come together to edify and walk alongside one another. Everyone needs vulnerability in their relationships and everyone is called to be vulnerable.

“When she is vulnerable she is at her bravest.”

In order to fulfill God’s purpose, we must allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, even in our struggles. He has more room to operate when we lay down our fear and selfish pride. Be strong and courageous. Being vulnerable is not a weakness, it is one of the strongest things a woman can do. When she is vulnerable she is at her bravest.

It’s okay not to be okay. You need to find someone you trust and be open with them about what you are dealing with. Being vulnerable doesn’t mean you go blabbing about all of your problems and “venting.” It means seeking out someone close to you; your husband, a close friend or relative, and confiding in them and allowing them to encourage you. Please know that you weren’t meant to do life alone. Oftentimes the way God chooses to bring relief to our situations is through vulnerability in relationships.

We should also be willing to share our own stories in order to encourage someone else. For me, relating to someone else’s feelings, emotions, marital difficulty or motherhood experience gives me hope and reassurance that I’m not alone in what I’m going through. God leads us to share in areas in which we have struggled and we have to be willing to follow that leading. My hope is that through the next several weeks I can be vulnerable and share pieces of my story and struggles and someone reading might be able to relate and respond with, “Really? Me too!” If I can encourage one person and help them know that they are not alone in this journey of marriage and motherhood, then I have fulfilled the purpose God has put on my heart.

 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

 

Who She Is

She Is… a wife.

She Is… a mother.

She Is… is a blog purposed to inspire that wife and mother of young children to fulfill her roles and calling by knowing who He says she is. Over the last couple of years God has really put a desire on my heart to encourage women walking through similar life seasons as myself. Marriage and motherhood are hard. Really hard… And women need truth spoken to their hearts in order to rise up and fulfill those roles with courage and excellence. They need to hear the truth about who they are in Christ. Wives and mothers everywhere need the support of other women to rally behind them and push them to go deeper in their relationship with Jesus.

My hope is to be a light in a dark world. Our society has a very backwards view of what it means to be a woman. Femininity is cast down as a weakness and women are expected to do it all. We are criticized for every decision we make, usually by other women that are getting attacked for the choices they have made. We have allowed the enemy to breed lies of insecurity and rejection in the hearts of God’s most precious creation. It’s time for the voice of Love to drown out those lies.

The foundational verses for this blog are Proverbs 31:25 and Ezra 10:4. These power verses represent a woman fully enlightened to God’s unconditional love for her. Proverbs 31:25 says, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” The word dignity means, “the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.” Can you imagine being so filled with the knowledge of God’s love that your very essence exudes strength and commands respect? What would it be like to laugh without fear of the future? No fear holding you back from being the wife God wants you to be; no fear keeping you up at night worrying about your children and if you are doing what is best for them. I want to encourage the wife and mother who is struggling, who feels tired and alone right now. Many of us go through seasons in marriage and motherhood that break us. We get emotionally, hormonally and spiritually overwhelmed and often we feel like that makes us a failure. We try to hide our brokenness when we should be bringing it to light for healing and restoration. If you allow God’s love and grace to lead you in yourwoman3 marriage and guide you as you train up your children it will give you boldness and peace. When we run straight into the arms of Jesus, He is there to pick up the pieces and bring wholeness to our souls. But… He doesn’t leave us there. He molds us, changes and stretches us for His purposes. We have to be willing to accept His healing as well as His leading. Ezra 10:4 calls us to obedience. What is God calling you to? How is He asking you to change your actions or attitude with your husband and children? What heart issue do you need to take to the Father? The Word in Ezra says “Rise up, take courage and do it”.

Today, dwell on the truth of whom the Word says “she is”.

She is… a wife.

She is… a mother.

She is… strong.

She is… brave.

She is… captivating.

She is… feminine.

She is… a leader.

She is… loved.

She is… a child of God.

She is… His masterpiece.