Yesterday (3/15/18), I had the opportunity to speak to a chapter of Mastering Motherhood; My first time on a stage, speaking to about 50 women!
Following is the transcript. (Warning: It’s Long)
Amy currently lives with her husband of 11 years and 3 children.
J (15), L (9), and her sweet rainbow baby L (17 months), along with their 2 cats and mini pig, Sweet Tea, who’s a small 150 lbs.
Amy spent most of her childhood growing up in sunny Central Florida, moving to CT with her mom and sister at the beginning of 7th grade. She lived in M until 5 years ago, when they bought their first home a town over.
You can’t deny her entrepreneurial spirit, having had her hands in many different projects, starting her own personal chef business in 2010. Amy’s always worked in food service but recently left the kitchen professionally. However, you can still find her cooking vegetarian, gluten free meals for her favorite client.
When she isn’t leading a group or serving here at her home church, Amy works part-time as a waitress at (restaurant), just down the street from her house. And recently accepted her first office job as a business analyst for an engineering and land surveying firm which has been a true blessing for her family.
With a servant’s heart, you can often find Amy happily volunteering in her community, whether at the soup kitchen, hospital, or local cat shelter. But she’s truly happiest with her toes on a white sandy beach, next to the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean and dreams of becoming a snow bird when she grows up.
Nothing like a good intro to make you feel better about yourself! Thank you, K! Kinda looks like I’ve got this life thing figured out! Life looks good in black in white!
Good morning, Ladies! I know YOU know better though, life is more than black and white. And very quickly, you’ll see, I don’t quite have it all figured out.
What I HAVE recently figured out, and what I’d like to share with you today, the answer to unshakable peace, joy, and strength, in even the toughest of seasons.
We all go through it, at some point. The seasons that knock you off your feet. Maybe the loss of a loved one, trauma, illness or major disappointment.
I’ve learned, your strength and resilience in these moments, relates directly to the foundation you’ve built for yourself. Just like a house, the stronger the foundation, the more stable you are.
Not sure what the condition of your foundation is? You may need some reinforcements, if anger, worry, loss of patience, or complaining, is a common attitude, towards even the day to day stuff.
It’s the strongest of foundations that allow you to respond, with peace and love, no matter what life throws your way. And aren’t peace and love exactly what the world needs more of today?
So much is gained by shifting our focus, from circumstances, to the foundation Christ has set for us. Galations 5:22 tells us its the Holy Spirit that produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control.
I don’t know about you, those are the things I need more of, today! So, let me share with you my story…
Going back, I was lucky to grow up in the church, with my Mom. She did the best she could for us girls, when times got tough. I’m really only standing here talking to you today because of that foundation set from childhood. It gave me something to come back to. So, thank you, Mom.
As you can imagine, leaving my friends, dad and family in Florida, just in time for middle school, wasn’t my idea of a good time. Church here was way different, too. I stopped attending a year or 2 after we moved here. That one decision, moved my feet from a strong foundation and set me in the mud, so to speak.
About the same time, already shaken by the circumstances of our move, changing hormones brought upon my battle with chronic depression and anxiety. I was knocked down even further when sexually assaulted at 15, and utterly broken, junior year of high-school, when my Dad died. Each passing year I slipped further and further into darkness and despair.
The only relief I found, from the pain and anger, was in drugs and alcohol. By 18 I had a significant cocaine habit and a long list of regrets.
Getting pregnant at 19, was no doubt the best thing that could have happened to me. I didn’t think twice about cleaning up my act. Though it got really lonely, really quickly as no one else was ready to settle down, including my son’s father.
From then on, every little bump in the road would send me spiraling, exacerbating the depression and anxiety I was barely managing.
I wish I can say the dark days of high-school were the worst of it for me, but that hasn’t been the case. I’ve unfortunately hit rock bottom a few times, since then.
It was shortly after I was married, sitting at the bottom of the barrel, I had no choice, but to finally look up. That’s when I stopped the cycle of rebuilding in the mud, and gave the mess I created fully to God. He’s been putting the ruble back together, on top His rock, and with His glue, ever since.
Just in time too, because the blows, they kept coming. But, instead of getting tossed around, feeling helpless, reacting ridiculously out of fear or anger, God has shown me there are great rewards for those who stand firm in the fire. He has also shown me, I’m not alone in the fire. And neither are you.
I don’t know if you know this, but tough times rarely bring out the best in a person. And since I’ve always had sort of a cool temperament, it may surprise those of you who know me, freaking out, hot mess, isn’t outside the realm of possibilities.
I look back now and see the fool I’ve made of myself, in moments where anger got the best of me or my pride got in the way of doing the right thing or when panic would stir up an anxiety attack.
I bet we all have stories of being irrational and out of control. Throw in Mom exhaustion and it seems like some days it doesn’t take much. What if I told you some of these shakable moments can actually be blessings in disguise?
I learned this, like all my lessons, the hard way. I was working at CCSU, 8 years ago, as a supervisor in their dining hall. It was the last day of the semester, summer break was about to begin. My Aunt and cousin were visiting from Florida, I was excited to see them, as soon as I got out.
Halfway through the shift, upper management decided to extend our operating hours. As closing supervisor, that meant I wasn’t getting out when planned and I wouldn’t make it to see my family.
Not being as cool, calm, and collected, as I am today, I copped a bit of a tude and walked out when originally scheduled. I’d show them!
Well, on the way to my grandparent’s house, I was in a car accident. Not my fault, BTW! But, instead of getting to see family, my evening was spent in the emergency room on top $7,000 worth of car damage.
It didn’t take me long to admit, had I done the right thing, I would have avoided that accident completely.
Since then, I look at things like detours and setbacks, as blessings. I find myself thankful for them because I honestly don’t know what they could be saving me from. It’s amazing how simply changing your perspective and attitude can change your whole day, for the better, instead of ruining it. Either with an accident like I experienced or simply by eliminating your bad attitude.
Winston Churchill said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
So true, we have very little control over what happens to us. We do have 100% control over our actions and attitudes, though.
Life is hard, guys. Life as a parent, even harder! I applaud you for being here today. Just think of the foundation you’re setting up for your children.
Like Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Just one of the many promises we’re given, that you can hold onto as a parent.
There’s another promise I’d like to share with you, from Isaiah 28:16 “LOOK! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem… It’s a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken!”
The cornerstone God’s referring to in this verse, is Jesus. And what a promise! Whoever believes need never be shaken. All we’re asked to do, is build our life upon His.
Without that foundation, it doesn’t take much to knock you down, where you’ll find yourself in the mud, covered by fear, regret and suffering.
If you struggle with trusting God in this way, know you’re in good company.
You probably know this story from Matthew ch.8 23 Jesus got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The disciples became afraid, worried and unsettled, in Jesus’ presence. What’s amazing to me is their reaction in light of the first half of this chapter! These men see Jesus miraculously and instantly heal both a man with leprosy and a young servant who’s paralyzed with chronic pain.
They watched as Jesus cast out evil spirits and restored health to ALL who were sick in the town. Peter’s own Mother in Law, was sick and in bed with a high fever, they were there as upon Jesus’ touch, the fever left her. She was able to get up and cook them a meal (Mind you, we all know Mom’s don’t get sick days and she probably would have done it anyway ;)).
They saw firsthand Jesus’ power, and the very same day, were shaken by fear, as the storm around them became fierce.
Thing is, we aren’t meant to live life in turmoil, tossed around by our circumstances. Even if it’s a natural response to freak out, lose your temper, or worry yourself sick, know it’s those responses that breed fear, anxiety, anger and even insomnia, in your lives.
And you know what? That’s right where the enemy wants you.
But that’s surely not where God wants you.
In Matthew 7:24-25 Jesus says, 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall….
When I feel myself starting to stumble, becoming irritable, depressed, or anxious, without fail, I’ve missed a few days hearing God’s Words. When I’m not reading my Bible, my prayer life suffers, and focus quickly turns to my circumstances, causing overwhelm and doubt. A slippery slope, for sure!
Reading God’s word, is the water your roots need, to grow into the rock. It’s by hearing His words, you come to know His voice.
You know the cartoons, where they show a little angel on one shoulder and a tiny devil on the other? I’d say that’s accurate. Every day you have these 2 voices vying for your attention. Your actions and attitudes clearly show whose voice, you’re tuned in to.
We can see the intentions of these 2 voices in John 10:10 Jesus states, “The thief comes in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance.”
The thief, here, is Satan. He’s the father of lies. His voice is flashy, and seductive, playing into your every fear and desire.
Jesus’s voice, on the other hand, is like that of a father, consoling an upset child. Think of a child in the midst of a tantrum, they can’t hear your voice. Not until they calm down and focus, does your voice break through, to offer comfort, wisdom and direction.
His voice is raw, no tricks, no gimmicks. By knowing it, you’re able to live in obedience, following his perfect example, therefore, becoming firmly planted and unshakable, because of Him.
If you’re not yet in the habit of reading your Bible, I challenge you to start, even just a verse a day. If you need to, ask God for the time, He’ll quickly show you where a shift in your priorities, and schedule, will bring you closer to Him.
Once in the Word, don’t get overwhelmed by the rules and traditions of the Old Testament. Through the life of Jesus, God summed up all His laws into 2 fundamental points.
To love God, and to love others. Ever wonder what your purpose or calling is? That’s it!
God’s love in us, is what heals and transforms us. And it’s our love towards others, which heals and transforms the world.
I’ve experienced both over the last few years, and its awe inspiring.
One of the ways we show love for God, is by putting him first.
In my life, I do this by reading His words, every day. I personally use the youversion app, it puts a different, daily, Bible verse right on my home-screen. I also find plugging into my church, by serving through different ministries, allows me to connect with other people who are full of God’s love, and when I need prayer and support, they’re right there when I need it most. A vital part of my unshakable foundation.
What you fill your mind with, is also important. Books, TV, Music, Social Media… I have to be hyper aware and selective about these. If I’m not careful, they quickly and easily become distractions.
The other piece, to a firm foundation, can be found in 2 Timothy 2:19 God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone, with this inscription: …“All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.”
We’ve been given the perfect model in Jesus Christ. He was betrayed, abandoned, tempted, abused, yet He never sinned.
He is to be our model, for an unshakable life. Not the Kardashians. When Jesus was squeezed, it was only Christ that oozed out. That should be the goal of any Christian, to become so full of God, that any form of pressure simply releases more of Him.
Coming to groups like this, is a great way to experience the love of God. Also, getting into a Bible based church. If you don’t have a church home, I’d like to personally invite you to be my guest, here. I’d be more than happy to meet you and sit with you any Sunday!
I wish I could say, recommitting my life to Christ, flipped a switch, to easy living. That’s not often the case. As I started, to walk the walk, God’s been opening my eyes, to the exact areas I was needing to surrender, to do it His way. Because my way, does not work.
These are the areas, if not given to God, Satan will feverishly attack until completely destroyed. You’re only as strong as your weakest link, after all.
Most recently, God walked me through the surrender and deliverance of chronic depression and anxiety. In December I was able to wean off the prescription medications I’d been on for over 20 years. A true feat considering my history with different meds and that the year before, my DR said it would never be an option for me, but he doesn’t know the God I know!
4 years ago, it was my marriage topping the list. And because my husband doesn’t have a relationship with Christ… yet… this is still a daily surrender for me.
We had been married about 7 years at the time. We were both unhappy and growing more frustrated, by the day. Up until that point, neither of us realized just how dysfunctional our relationship had been, since day 1 really. We were lacking any sort of foundation and simply operating out of fear. Fear of being alone, fear of being vulnerable, fear of rejection, fear of the unknown…
Had I focused on what friends were saying, or gone by today’s standards for relationships, or listened to that little devil on my shoulder, no one would have blamed us for divorcing.
I’ll never forget the moment, like scales fell from my eyes. What I saw scared me. We weren’t just growing apart or falling out of love… we were stuck in a viscous cycle of abuse, with no way out.
I, for the first time, recognized what was happening. We didn’t know any other way. I was left, walking on eggshells, for fear of upsetting him. Afraid to stay, afraid to leave.
It’s never been physical. But psychological and emotional abuse leaves the deepest of scars. I prayed and prayed, for years, that my husband would change. For him to stop breaking stuff, to stop saying mean and spiteful things, to stop threatening his life, and to stop blaming me, for everything.
I had begged for a sign from God, an open door that would allow me to leave, clear of conscience.
As much as I prayed, those things never happened. I had to make a choice.
I know it’s hurt people, who hurt people, so I decided to wait. To wait for God to show me, what next. Surely, not because I wanted to, but because I knew in my heart, it was the right thing to do.
I continued seeking Him, through meeting with my pastor, surrounding myself with Godly women who prayed over me, lots of scripture reading, and non-stop prayer, on my part. I remember spending an entire afternoon prayer walking, around the outside of our home, reading out loud Psalms 31, claiming God’s promises over those 4 walls and everything in it.
One night, months after we had basically been living separated in the same house, waiting for the other foot to drop, I sat in my bed, not knowing what to pray anymore, utterly defeated.
In that moment, God showed up, and gave me the words I needed to say. The answer to my problems. But not the answer I was hoping for, or expecting. Somewhat reluctantly, I whispered, “Lord, change my heart”. Then, I opened my Bible, like I had been every night. And here’s the verse I opened to:
1 Chorinthians 7:14-17 14 For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage… Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy. 15 (If the husband who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the believing wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.) 16 Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? 17 Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you.
My mind was blown. How’s that for a clear cut answer.
This October will be our 11th wedding anniversary. We’re still 2 flawed people, committed to making it work, or, 2 lazy to start over with someone else, either way, I pick up my cross daily and know that God is at work in my marriage, and in my husband, through me. I praise God for the growth I’ve seen, in us both, and will continue to pray for my husband’s salvation.
If any of you ladies are single, please don’t settle. Let God guide you to the right relationship.
I honestly still have days where I question God and ask for an open window I can jump from, head first, but so far, His answer has always been the same. Love your husband, the way I do. Easier said than done, some days.
Since that time of reconciliation, my new foundation has held me through Lyme’s disease, getting let lo go from 2 different jobs, the loss of my 3rd child, in pregnancy, the bank coming to foreclosure on our home, and even as I held a dying stranger on the side of the road. Through it all, I’m still standing. Looking a little frazzled, but I’m here!
God is so good though! After 2 years of applying and interviewing for jobs, I didn’t even want, working odd ball hours when and where I could, I landed the best job I never knew I wanted! It was just a month ago, to the week of our time being up with the bank, the sign about to go up in our front yard, and only by the grace of God, as I never worked a day in an office in my life!
Because of this job, and its decent wage, Wells Fargo has agreed to let us pick up making payments, where we left off, over a year ago. Can I get an Amen!?
Ladies, I hope and pray you never know this kind of stress.
It’s still a work in progress, but the entire time I’ve been working on my foundation, how blessed I am to see, it’s my entire home that’s become unshakable.
I’d like to end with my favorite verse Ephesians 3:20 Will you read it with me? Now, all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. (Thank You)
Table Talk (Discussion Questions)
Read Ephesians 4:25-32 (NIV)
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands,that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
According to the verse, what are we to stop doing? How are we supposed to react instead?
Which of these area(s) do you struggle with?
What does the devil having a “foothold” mean to you?
How would your life change if he (Satan) no longer had a foothold?
It was an emotional day for me, especially having my mom in attendance! Being able to thank her, was very special, to both of us, I think.
I wanted to share with you something that came to my attention, after our meeting. A young lady, we’ll refer to her as R, stopped me, with tears in her eyes!
Now, R was a part of my Mastering Motherhood small group, the year prior, where I shared the situation of our house going into foreclosure because we weren’t able to make payments. R told me, just yesterday, after hearing my talk, that the year prior, after learning about my financial struggles, she went home and prayed out to God that she could help us not lose our home. I was heavy on her heart, she said. R of course, not able to pay off what we owed on the mortgage, gave it to God and moved on.
Fast forward… 2 months ago. R was approached by her church friend, as someone who might know someone, to fill the position she was having a hard time filling. R didn’t, until later that day, when she saw my post on FB about another interview that just wasn’t the right fit for me. Not knowing my experience she reached out to me. I mentioned I had ZERO office experience, but I have enough sense to learn whatever I need to. I was hired due to R’s recommendation and given the opportunity to prove myself. (Which I did =))
We serve a GREAT God, who in fact, used R to save our home, by getting me the job that’s allowed us to start making payments again, with the right schedule and right pay for my family’s needs.
God is GOOD, ALL the time ❤