Finding the Sun in the Winter

Today I walked outside to get the mail and was pleasantly surprised at how great it felt outside. It has been pretty cold the last few days, so feeling the sun hit my face felt like a warm hug to my soul. I stood on the front porch and closed my eyes, soaking in the sun rays. Man, that felt good. Have you ever got a quick glimpse into the springtime in the middle of winter, that it gives you just a serge of energy? You think, just hold on a little longer and then it will be flowers and sunshine and warm rains again.

I soaked in the warmth for a little bit longer and just happened to look down. Next to my front porch I have tons of clover growing (which is one of my favorite things). When I looked down, it looked as though all of my clover were cupped, facing the sun. They were all turned the same way, soaking it all in just like I was a few moments before. And just like that, I heard the Lord say to me, “In the middle of the winter seasons, turn toward the light.”

Lately, I have felt like I have been going through a spiritual winter season along with the physical winter. Things have seemed drab, cold, and tough. It seems like wherever I turn there is something else going wrong, a sickness around the corner, financial struggles, personal struggles, the list goes on and on. It is so tough to keep the faith during these kinds of seasons, when it feels like the fight never stops. But what else is there to do but fight?

We can go through these struggles sometimes, taking each hit from the enemy, and forget that we can do something about it. Like the clover, who have been going through the winter season, in the midst of the cold, drought of winter, they turned toward the light. We can do that too. We can stop in our struggle and simply turn; turn towards the Light of the World. Turn towards His Word and promises. So often we think we are victims of our circumstances around us. We think we have to keep every anxious or depressive thought, we think we have to continue to be abused by the toxic people in our lives, we think we are doomed to the lives people have spoken over us.

One thing I am very stubborn about is letting people know they are not stuck. Even in the middle of the winter, you can find some Son (I know, it’s cheesy but it’s true). So often we wait for Spring to come in order to get some fresh air and light in our lives, when in reality you can find what you need in the middle of your bleak season.

John 1:5 states, “The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life, whom shall I dread?”

Ephesians 5:14 states, “For this reason He says, ‘Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine [as dawn] upon you and give you light.”

I give you these scriptures (and there are many more) because although darkness does exist, so does the light exist even more so. So you may be in some dark season; you may feel like nothing is growing, no light is shining, and no hope of change is near. But I come to remind you to be like the clover and turn towards the Light. Turn towards the Son. Turn towards Him Who is able to do more abundantly than you can ask or think according to His power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20).

I want to remind you that you are not a slave to your circumstances as long as you are a Child of God. You belong to the Creator of all things who can make something out of nothing. Don’t lose hope. Don’t hang your head down. Turn your eyes to the Lord and trust Him and watch Him work on your behalf. Align your thinking and speaking with His Word, even if what you see around you doesn’t just yet.

I don’t know, I just felt it heavy on my heart for anyone who may be going through what I am going through to let you know that hope still remains. Light still remains. Growth still remains. What’s been planted will bloom soon, what’s been freed will fly, and those things that have held you down will break. Just turn to Him and soak in His light and love. Be like the clover!

Happy homemaking.

The Key to a Happy New Year

Happy…happy…happy! What a word that is thrown around all the time. Especially this time of the year! A new year! It’s such an amazing and exciting time for the unknown. One tradition I always do around this time every year is just take a moment to breathe and think about where I was this time last year. Did I do the things I wanted to do? Did I chase the passions I wanted to chase? And then I think about the next year; I think about all the things that can happen in one year.

New years are the perfect time to start “anew”. They are the perfect time to gain back hope and get excited for all the things that lie ahead of us. But they can also be a time where it is easy to fall into the fear trap. Many opportunities lie ahead in the new year, but so do many unknowns. That can be a little scary. We worry about the new year. Will it be like last year? Will I go through trials again? Will it be hard again? What if bad things happen? What if I’m not happy?

Last year was an amazing year of ups and downs for me. I had my first baby, bought my first house, graduated with my master’s degree and celebrated two years with my love. But also there were many hard times. Times of anxiousness, depression, doubt, and numbness. Many times last year I struggled with that word: “happiness”. I fell into comparison traps, I blamed everyone around me for not feeling happy (including my husband and baby), I blamed my past hurts for keeping me stuck in a pit of despair. Yes, there were times I felt strong in the Lord, but any time something hard happened and my “Happy” was hurt, I returned back to murmuring, complaining, fault-finding, and even finding myself angry towards God.

Yesterday, I felt a general sense of just unhappiness. As I walked through the day, I tried to find every reason for why I was feeling the way I felt. “Well, nothing new and exciting is happening in my life….” “Well, my husband has been getting on my nerves lately….” “Well, my baby has been very clingy and hard to deal with lately….” “Well, my body still isn’t what I want it to be…” “Well, God still hasn’t healed me…” “Blah, blah, blah”. I was sick of being with myself by the end of the day.

After I got baby into bed and my husband went to sleep, I thought maybe a “self-care” night would help. I soaked my feet, watched I Love Lucy, drank some hot peppermint tea, took a bubble bath, and yet the numb sadness was still there. I put my phone down beside the bath, took a deep sigh, and realized what needed to be done. The key to happiness wasn’t going to be found in more “me” time. It wouldn’t be from drastic romantic dates and notions from my hubby. It wouldn’t come from a constantly happy baby and a fit body. Happiness wouldn’t come when all of my wants were met. It could only come from one thing: humility.

I realized that I had been attempting to find blame in everyone and everything else for why I felt the way I did. I wanted to put the responsibility for my happiness on everyone else, that way I didn’t have to do it myself. I realized that I had been walking in selfishness and pride; thinking that the only person that mattered was “me..me…me”. It will exhaust you as a Christian to walk in pride and selfishness, because Christ’s nature of servanthood lies within you and they cannot coincide together in peace.

When you feel yourself always feeling unhappy, think about WHO has been on your mind lately. Is it you? This world teaches us that it’s all about making ourselves happy; it’s all about doing what makes us happy. Who cares if it hurts someone else or you have to walk over everyone else or you have to leave people behind, as long as your happy, you do it. What’s sad is that this type of thinking can slowly leak into our minds as Christians, if we are not careful and cautiously taking inventory of our thought life and heart attitudes.

Movies tell us that romance is always butterflies and fireworks, so if we are not getting that 24/7 then our spouses need to step up and make us happy. Instagram moms post pictures of their perfect babies, always clean, always happy, always doing what they are supposed to. Then our babies act like humans and we think that we did something wrong or got the short end of the stick. Prosperity gospels tell us that God should always bless us and fulfill our every desire, but when we don’t get every single thing we expect from Him, we get bitter and disappointed at God. But did you notice, we never turn our eyes on ourselves.

It’s time we stop blaming everyone else for our current emotional turmoil. It’s time we stop blaming our families for our stress and our jobs for our unhappiness. It’s time we stop blaming God for our disappointments and let down expectations. It’s time we turn the mirror on our own souls and get to the nitty gritty. It’s time to humble ourselves.

I sat in the bath and I wept. For so long I have been murmuring, complaining, and thinking negatively. For so long I was waiting on everything around me to line up perfectly in order for me to find happiness. When the whole time the problem was me. Wrong attitudes, wrong motives, wrong outlooks. Selfishness, pride, envy.

I asked God to forgive me for not being thankful for His many blessings. For always looking at the bad instead of the good. For wanting Him to do my will instead of His will. For blaming everyone else for my problems, instead of the fact that I was running. I didn’t need more self love or self care. I needed time with Jesus. I needed to hit my knees and humble myself and realize that it was me all along that was responsible for my happiness.

David in the bible was often in the midst of trial and turmoil. But one thing you can find in him, is that he always encouraged himself in the Lord. He didn’t need 15 different small groups, 100 new friends, and social media to make him feel good when he struggled. He took it upon himself to encourage himself in the Lord. Sometimes we don’t need to reach for the phone when we are feeling downtrodden or worried. We need to reach into our spirits and say to our soul, “Why, oh my soul, are you downcast? Why are you so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5).

There is a point when you have to tell yourself, enough is enough! Stop allowing the enemy to walk over you. Stop letting life’s circumstances declare whether you are going to praise God and walk in thankfulness or not. Stop waiting on everyone else to bring you peace and joy, when you can speak to your soul and tell it to rise up!

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6). Sometimes, your struggles in life are not because of other people but because you have chosen to continue to walk in defeat. Sometimes you are your own problem. If you speak negatively, think negatively, walk in defeat, murmur, complain, and never count your blessings, then you can bet that you will walk in depression, anxiety, and bitterness.

It’s time to get up! Shake the dirt off, walk in victory, and be who God has called you to be. Stop waiting on others to do the hard work for you. The pastor ain’t gonna do it for you; the people in the alter ain’t gonna do it for you; your friends and spouses aren’t gonna do it for you. If you have struggled with the same sin, the same defeating thoughts, the same fears over and over again, it’s time to humble yourself, surrender to God, and walk in victory. Proclaim His Word instead of your fears. Walk in thanksgiving and praise instead of doubt and complaining.

Stop seeking blog posts to give you the “top 5 mindfulness attitudes” to bring you happiness. Stop buying all of the products that advertise they will complete you. Stop filling your life so full of plans that you cannot find a moment of peace and quiet to hear from God. Make this year the year that you stop relying on others to fill you up, and rely on God instead. Humble yourself, come to Him, and let Him be everything that you need. You will be amazed to find that in the midst of humility (which hurts very bad sometimes), you will find happiness.

Finding Myself Again: The Journey of Learning I am more than a Mother and Wife

Our identity need not lie in the roles we play here on Earth, but in the stance we took when we were adopted into God’s family. I am more than mother and wife, I am first a daughter.

Katie Richards

I finished my master’s degree back in October and since then have been dealing with some identity issues. Before school ended I felt as though I still had something for myself. Yes, I was a wife and mother, but I also had school which helped me to feel like I had a meaningful purpose.

When school ended, my role switched and as I do with most things in life, I found myself pouring all of myself into my husband, son, and household, that there wasn’t much left for “me” anymore. It’s been a slow process but I have felt the burning out. The endless cycles of cleaning, cooking, and serving everyone else, and sometimes feeling like I am forgotten along the way.

My personality is a go-getter personality. Up to this point in my life, I have always had something that I was chasing after; some goal that kept the fire lit in my soul. Today as I poured my heart out to God, I wept as I told Him, “I feel like my fire is gone. I don’t even have a dream or passion for myself anymore. I’m tired of living off the vision of everyone else; I want vision again.”

I type this out with tears in my eyes because it has been the first time that I have allowed myself to feel these feelings and I will tell you why. Every time in the past I almost got to this point, I would feel guilty. If I allow myself to weep over what I feel like I have lost in this season of motherhood and marriage, then I am not being thankful for what a beautiful blessing it is.

But that isn’t true. We are allowed to be so thankful for what God has blessed us with, while also wanting our souls on fire for the things of God again. We are allowed to serve our families while not forgetting what our real passion and purposes are. Yes, God has me in this season of homemaking, but He also has other things in store for me. I am so tired of living in an “either-or” state of mind.

I am writing about this because I am sure that I am not the only young mother, wife, and woman who has felt this way before. But I offer encouragement. Today, as I wept tears of grief, weariness, and just exhaustion, God comforted my soul. “Daughter, your purpose in life is not to be a wife, mother, teacher, author, evangelist, or person in ministry. It is not to master the art of homemaking or be the one everyone comes far and wide to listen to. Your purpose is to be Mine, to seek Me in everything you do. When your heart has the right purpose in it, you will find passion in your home and on the stage.”

As I’ve poured myself into everyone and everything, I have lacked in pouring myself completely into God and the things of God. Had I purposed in my heart to serve Him first, then all the rest would easily follow. You see, exhaustion comes when we try and do everything without Him. We think we are simply doing our part and playing our roles, but God has asked we do all things according to Him.

So when I am cooking dinner, I am not simply feeding my family. I am feeding my husband, who has mighty purpose and anointing on Him. I am feeding my son, who will follow in his father’s footsteps, a prophet to the nations and mighty man of God. And I am feeding myself, a mighty woman of God with a heart for the broken and the Word of God.

When I am cleaning my house, I am making a home that is welcoming the Holy Spirit. Where the hurt and broken can come and be ministered to, through the Word or through baked goods. Where peace is present, and laughter is worship to the Lord.

We all live in seasons. And right now your season may be a stay-at-home mom or a working mom who feels like everything is spent out in serving others. I encourage you to change your mindset. To allow God to rewrite how you think about your daily life. To pray daily that God would show up and order your steps.

I am excited to see what God has in store for the future. I am. But I cannot afford to spend my time always looking ahead and forgetting what is in my today. The chances for ministry here in my own home. The chances to serve God in humility as I lay myself down and put others before me. What we cannot forget is to pour into our spiritual lives by setting aside time with Jesus as a priority.

The One Who loves you more in a second than anyone can in a lifetime longs to spend time with you. And when you set aside daily duties, to-do lists, and distractions, you will find the Well that never runs dry, ready and willing to fill up and overflow every part of you that feels empty.

So, yes I am a mother and a wife. And I love those roles that Jesus has blessed me with. But first, I am a daughter of the Most High. Adopted, created with purpose, and made for communion with my Father. So, I am opting to walk in that role first, and I know the passion and fire for the rest of my roles will come with it.

Seasons come and go, but it is what we do with them that truly matters. Enjoy your season and use it as an act of worship to God. I hope this encourages you, happy homemaking daughter!

Christmas Breakfast Casserole

Yay! Christmas time is here! For me that means my husband gets to be off with us and we get to enjoy our favorite time together: mornings! We both love our coffee and a yummy breakfast. When I was pregnant we went every Sunday to Waffle House and I ate a pecan waffle, bacon, hashbrowns, and sometimes even a biscuit too… I can no longer eat so much!

Around Christmas time I like to make special breakfasts for us! This one is one of my favorites! Its packed full of veggies, protein, yumminess, AND to top everything off the colors of it look like Christmas!

This breakfast casserole is a wonderful family breakfast and a fantastic way to sneak vegetables in your kids diet (you’re welcome). So if you’re looking for some breakfast ideas for the holidays or have a brunch you need to bringing a dish to, this ones for you!

Christmas Breakfast Casserole

What you will need:

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4 cup ham (diced) (you could use ground sausage or diced bacon too)
  • 1/2 cup of cheese (1/4 for mix, 1/4 for topping)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp siracha
  • 2 stalks green onions (diced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 cup diced grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 bag of frozen hashbrowns

Dry seasonings:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp creole seasoning (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a large mixing bowl, crack eggs and add in milk and siracha. Whisk mixture well and set aside. Dice all of your veggies and add to the bowl. Add in ham, hashbrowns, dry seasonings, hasbrowns, garlic, and 1/4 cup of cheese.

Spray a casserole dish with non stick spray and add in mixture. Make sure to spread out all the veggies and get everything in an even layer.

Bake for 25-30 minutes and enjoy!

This breakfast casserole is one of my favorite breakfast dishes! It’s also the recipe I use to meal plan for my husbands work meals! Hope you enjoy it as much as we do! Happy homemaking!

Are you Tired? Then Go Running

I love to write. I have always loved to write, since I was little. It’s the perfect way to get my heart across to another. Often in marriage counseling or talking with friends, I tell them to write. Writing helps get our thoughts across in such a way, that often distractions can’t come through. Usually when I write on here, I write from experience, revelations, or fun ideas. Often, however, I simply ask God what He wants me to say. What do they need to hear?

Today, as I was in my time with God I felt the urge to write. And this is what He wanted me to let you know. When you’re tired, weak, exhausted, and weary: run. Physically, this idea doesn’t make much sense. When you are exhausted physically, the last thing you want to do is go running. The last thing you want to do is use what energy you have left in your reserve.

Often when we are struggling spiritually, we feel the same way. We are so exhausted from the battle, emotionally and mentally, we don’t want to use any energy left to run to Him. We would rather numb ourselves in front of the television or with groups of friends, hoping the distraction will somehow create an energy in us to deal with the struggles. But simple physics tells us nothing comes from nothing. If we do not get gas for the car, gas does not simply appear in our tanks. If we do not run to God for refuge in the storm, we won’t have the strength to go forward.

One of the verses I “run” to all too often is Matthew 11:28. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” With my personality, I often am way too focused on doing everything myself without asking for help. I don’t know why I am this way, but I feel like a burden to ask for help. So I just do it myself. This can be one of the worst things a person can do to themselves. God made us as people who need others. We need Him. If you are feeling burnt out and exhausted, it is very possible that you are carrying a burden you were not meant to carry alone. The next part in the scripture explains a truth that set me free. Verse 29 and 30 says, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Not many know what a yoke is because not many are surrounded by farming and harvesting. A yoke is what holds two cattle together as they plow the fields. It is very important that the two remain working together, because if one pulls the yoke too fast, the other can be injured or even killed.

Jesus is telling us here that if we are exhausted and weary, it’s time we lay down our yokes and yoke up with Him. Our yokes, our burdens, our weights, are too heavy for us to carry. But when we come to Him, His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. When you are at your breaking point, feeling like you can’t push forward by yourself any more, it is not the time to run away from God, but to run towards Him. Drop your yoke of the world, and yoke up with Him.

“Cast all of your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). Imagine your child walking alongside you on a hike. They are carrying a backpack they packed themselves before the trip and you are carrying the backpack you packed. As you hike along, the child becomes increasingly exhausted; crying, whimpering, complaining. “I can’t carry it anymore, it’s too heavy.” “Well give it to me then.” You would think the child would hand it over right? No. Instead you hear, “Well, I can carry it myself.” Or, “It’s mine though… I don’t want to hand it over….” “If I hand it over then I may lose something…” “I don’t know how to walk without carrying my backpack… if I give it to you then I don’t know how to go forward.”

Confused, you continue walking with the child. This time they stop, kneel to the ground, huffing at the exhaustion and strength it’s taking to carry the backpack. You kneel down beside them. “Honey, give it to me, I will carry it.” The child lifts their head, crying, and says, “I don’t know how.” “Just hand it me.” Crying heavily, “I don’t know how. If I give it to you, I won’t be carrying anything.” You lift their chin to you and say, “You carry my backpack, and I will carry yours.”

You take your backpack off and help them take off their backpack. As you lift it you realize how heavy it is. “What did you pack in here?” You open it up to find many stones. On the stones are written different things. One reads “fear”, another “anxiety”. There is a huge one, and on it says, “expectations of others”. You keep rummaging through the bag, pulling out the stones one by one. “Sadness”, “loss”, “depression”, “self-hate”, “suicide”, “bitterness”, “anger”, “hurt”, “abuse”, “rejection”, “condemnation”, “shame”, “guilt”. It goes on and on.

“Honey, how have you carried this for so long? Here, take mine.” The child, relieved, drops their shoulders. As they lift your bag on their shoulders, their eyes open in amazement. “It’s so light! What do you carry?” They open the bag and begin pulling out feathers. On the feathers are written many words: “faith”, “trust”, “peace”, “love”, “forgiveness”, “righteousness”, “holiness”, “joy”. The child begins crying, “You mean I could have carried this the whole time?” “Yes, honey, but don’t be sad that you have walked so far with burdens. All you have to do is hand them to me, and continue forward. And if you are tempted to pick up any rocks along the way, just give them to me.”

I know, it may sound corny, but this story is the perfect depiction of how God feels with us. You would feel so frustrated that you offered to carry your child’s burden, yet they continued in exhaustion and weariness. You would want to scream from the mountain tops, that what you had for them instead was so much better. But when we continuously rely on ourselves or others, to meet our needs and fill our emptiness rather than relying on God, we will be that child who continuously decides to carry burdens that are not ours to carry or pick up things along the road of this life, we were meant to cast away.

Enough is enough. Stop carrying the world on your shoulders and cast it onto the One Who is enough for you. Are you heartbroken? Wounded? Rejected? Bitter? Do you not know how to give it all up? Have you been walking so long with the weight that you’re afraid of what it may feel like to finally let it go?

The answer is not complicated, although the enemy wants you to believe that it is. It is simple. If you are weary, RUN. Run to Him with everything you have. Hit your knees, throw your burdens on Him. Trade your sorrows for joy. Trade your mourning for dancing. Trade your tears of grief for tears of laughter. Trade your brokenness for full restoration. Trade your bitterness for forgiveness. Trade your anger for peace. Trade your hate for love. Trade your dirtiness for righteousness. It is so much more simple than it seems.

Humble yourself. You do not have to carry it on your own any longer. You are not a burden to Him, He yearns to give you peace and rest. So, if you have been wounded and exhausted, RUN TO HIM. If you have been trying to numb yourself from reality, RUN TO HIM. If you have been running in the wrong direction, RUN TOWARDS HIM. You will find hope for hopelessness, faith for unbelief, and healing for your souls. Think on this:

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Psalm 23

Postpartum Body: Does it get Easier?

I promised I would be vulnerable on here and I just want to talk about something I am struggling with pretty bad. My postpartum body. It’s been almost 9 months since I gave birth to John, and I still haven’t “bounced back”. As I watch so many friends who gave birth around the same time as me post their pictures and somehow look like that lost weight being pregnant, I can’t help but feel so discouraged.

I never thought I would have an enemy. This enemy seems to be everywhere, all the time. It’s a reminder of the things I hate about myself and I can’t stand to look in it. This enemy: the mirror. Y’all I absolutely hate getting undressed in front of the mirror. I hate seeing those stretch marks, the jiggly belly, the extra pudge. I pull the fat around my face back to remember thinner days. I turn sideways and see what looks like a 2 month pregnant belly. I turn around and look at the rolls on my back forming as I turn. I feel utter disgust. Humiliation at my husband seeing me. Tears welling up in my eyes.

Last night my husband weighed the baby by first standing on the scale and then holding John and standing on the scale. I glanced at the weight of them two together and felt a punch to the gut: they weigh less together than I do at the moment. Not by much, but still. The thought that two people weigh less than I do together made me want to throw up. And then yesterday we picked up my wedding set that was resized because I was tired of not wearing my rings. When I went to put them on, they fit, but they still were tight. It felt like punch after punch. I felt sadness and depression looming nearby.

That night after the baby went to sleep, I wanted to relax in the bath. As Tyler got ready for bed he happened to be in there as I undressed. Complete shame filled me and I just wanted to hide. I got in the tub hoping he would just hurry and leave the room. He came by and kneeled by the tub to kiss me goodnight and as our eyes met he asked those words, “What’s wrong?”

Now if you know me, I can hold my tears back as long as you don’t acknowledge me. But as soon as you ask me to talk about what’s wrong, they will flow like Niagara Falls! I start bawling and say something along the lines of, “I hate myself. I hate my body.” Knowing he needed to get up in about 5 hours for work, he still sat down by the tub and held my head in his arms. He kissed my head, my arm, my tear rolling down my cheek, and said, “I love every part of you.” “But I don’t, I hate every part of myself.” “He prayed over me and told me I needed to get alone with God and listen.

As he went to bed, I sat in the tub and decided to listen. “God, I don’t like feeling like this… I’m so tired of hating myself.” “Your worth is much more than what is physical. There are some who would trade a “perfect body” for your stretch marks and weight gain. Those who want a baby so bad, they would immediately take a body they do not “love”. Be grateful for the scars, the jiggly bits, and your womb.”

This hit me hard. It’s not fair to whine about my body. Yes, I have a thyroid problem that makes losing weight extremely hard (if not impossible). Yes, I don’t like my reflection and it feels like whatever I do doesn’t work or help. But, I hold a baby boy everyday who is healthy and happy. This is the body that carried him. This is the body that my husband loves. This is the body that carries me throughout this life, making memories and taking me on adventures. I am so tired of being my own worst enemy. I am so tired of being mean and hateful to the person that God loves. I would never in my life allow someone to talk like this about themselves, but I allow the abuse to myself.

Ladies, I still struggle with my body. But I am choosing to work hard in the ways I can by being healthy, and letting God do the rest. I am choosing to learn to love myself in this season without hating my reflection or pictures of myself. I am so tired of seeing my husband’s smile go away when he shows me a picture he took of me and the baby and all I can do is criticize my image. He saw a memory, the woman he loves and the baby we made, and all I saw was myself.

Hating yourself is selfishness. It’s always thinking about yourself and not of others. It’s okay to work on yourself and be healthy, but when it surrounds your life in a way that your self takes priority over other’s, it’s not godly nor healthy. So if you had a baby and your body bounced right back, I am thankful for you! I am so glad that your body is healthy and you now have a healthy body. If you are struggling with your postpartum body like me, I am with you, but let’s be thankful for the gift of life and the amazing work God created our bodies to do. And if you’re struggling to even have that precious baby you dream of, I am sorry if I have ever hurt you with my criticism and thoughtlessness. I am praying for you and that God would answer every desire of your heart.

Let’s stop letting the enemy win. Let’s stop allowing him to steal the joy of this season. Let’s stop allowing him to take away the praise we should be giving, and replacing it with complaining. Speak well about yourself, for you are a daughter of the Most High! He doesn’t like you talking so badly about the one He loves. Your spouse doesn’t like hearing you talk about the one he loves so much. Your child doesn’t need to hear you talk about their mama, teaching them it’s okay to talk so badly about yourself.

So, I encourage you to take some time to be friends with yourself. Give your worries, pains, and shame to God and enjoy every moment of this time of your life. Happy homemaking and good luck!

Single and Searching: What to Look for in a Godly Husband

Dating was such a difficult thing for me to do after I had been hurt. There really was only one word to describe the whole process of dating and seeking my future husband: fear. Fear enveloped every part of my thought process when it came to my promise. What if I choose wrong? What if I get hurt again? What if fear stops me from ever going after my husband?

It was so bad that for about 5 years straight I couldn’t go past one date with anyone. As soon as I got home, my mind went over all of the reasons that person wouldn’t work and why they weren’t my husband. I remember when I went on a second date with my husband, my mom said, “He’s the one, because she actually wanted a second date.”

Now it wasn’t because I was “too picky” and couldn’t be pleased. Really it was for many reasons. But one of the main was because I had not met the one my soul was ready to fight for yet. When I met my husband Tyler, I was finally ready to fight the fear of vulnerability and intimacy. You may struggle with those same fears too. “If I let myself be vulnerable, I will just get hurt again.” “How do I know he isn’t just like the rest?” “How do I know this is the one God has ordained for me?”

During that time I was so wishing there was someone who could walk through the process with me; a woman who had been through it before. So I thought that maybe someone reading this is going through the same battles and it may help.

I remember many times in my frustration and loneliness, someone would tell me, “There are plenty of people to date out there, you just have to put yourself out there.” And having been saved and committing my life to God, I was looking for a Christian man who was ready to be married and committed. It felt as though, honestly, there were no men my age who were committed to God and was ready to be committed to a wife. They were all playing the “Christian” game, but the fruits in their lives didn’t really show it.

I remember yelling at my mom, “There are no good Christian men out there!” I really felt that way. And I was afraid to date some because every time I tried, it felt like they said they were godly men, but their actions spoke otherwise. I didn’t want a counterfeit; I wanted the one God had for me, who would pour into my life in a godly way, and not try and take from me.

During this time I remember praying, “How will I know?” And God said so plainly to me, “You will know by their fruit.” So I will go over some things I learned to look for in a godly husband, and how I learned to be free of fear and trust God in the process.

One of the first things that let me know Tyler was my husband, was that he was immediately respectful and pure. Even when he messaged me on Facebook for the first time, it was a picture of a bear waving hello. There was no “Aye girl how you doing?” or “You’re cute, what’s your number?” He was respectful in conversation and really just wanted to get to know me. Ladies, if you are looking for a godly man, he isn’t going to speak to you disrespectfully because he will know who you belong to. Watch out for men who flatter with their tongues a little too much; compliments are one thing but when it crosses the line make sure you don’t cross the line.

As we started dating, I noticed some things about him that caught my eye. Not only was he respectful of me, he was respectful of everyone around him. He has one of the greatest servant’s hearts I have ever seen. He treated his mama well, he served his Gran Gran (who is in a wheelchair) without even being asked, and he was respectful to people like waiters and store clerks. A red flag to look out for is someone who is rude to others; if they don’t have a servant’s heart, they won’t be able to serve well in marriage.

Now you may think I am crazy, but one thing I firmly believe in is to state clearly your goals and purposes behind dating. If you want to get married…. tell them you want to be married. Don’t date someone who doesn’t have the same goals as you and then get frustrated because they don’t want to change! On our first date, I remember saying, “Listen, I want to date for marriage, so if you don’t then this isn’t going to work.” I know… I cannot believe I said it either, it just came out! I remember he took a second and then laughed, and with his beautiful smiling eyes I love so much, said, “I do want marriage too.” You see the one for you will not be turned off by your blunt personality (if you have one). You won’t have to change your silly sense of humor or looks for them. Another red flag is that if you feel you’re having to mold to fit better for them… they probably aren’t the one for you.

I struggle pretty heavily with self-esteem. There are many things about myself I do not like. I remember one night at Sonic, Tyler was wanting to hold and look at my hands. My hands are one of my biggest flaws in my mind; I think they are far too big, long, and ugly. I kept pulling my hand away from his and he got frustrated. “Why are you doing that?” I said, “Because I hate my hands.” He looked so confused. “Why? Let me see them.” After many tugs away, I finally let him hold it. He then looked at my hands and then glanced at me. “I love your hands.” And he went on to tell me why he loved them. Then he made me say something else I didn’t like about myself. “My eyes… I wish I had blue eyes.” The he told me why he loved my big brown eyes. We went on until I had named everything off; and tears went down my cheeks. He had touched my soul in a way no one else had. And none of it had to do with sexual attraction; he wanted me to know that he loved everything about me. Ladies, find a man who lifts you up. Who scares away all of your fears. Because one day you will give birth to a baby and your belly will be softer with stretch marks, and you will wish you had a man who still looks at you like you are the sexiest woman alive. Because he loves you and not your looks.

I was very open about my fears with dating. He walked alongside me through anxiety attacks, tears, and fear. He made me write down my fears on a piece of paper. From being hurt to being alone. He then went through each one and told me why I didn’t have to be afraid, pointing me back to God. Find a man who will continually point you back to God in your struggles, who will remind you that you serve a God Who can take care of all of your fears. Because one day you may be in the bathroom floor, just having a miscarriage and in your deepest pit of despair; and that husband will be the one to point you back to a Faithful Father you are mad at. Who will guide your soul back to peace and love in the midst of so much pain.

It’s important who you sign up to live the rest of your life with and become one with and I could go on and on about the many reasons why I knew my husband was my own. He has so many beautiful characteristics that continually make me want to be better and more like him. But I will leave you with a quick list of reminders.

1. God has someone for you. He said it was not good for man to be alone. There may be a small few called to celibacy and singlehood, but it is not many. Marriage is holy and is the best teacher of our souls. So hold on to hope and do not rush into something out of loneliness. You will know when your soul finds it’s pair.

2. Watch for their fruits. If you are dating someone who is not bearing godly fruits in their lives, then it is wise to step away. If they are angry a lot, mean, disrespectful, or pressure you to into sexual things, but proclaim to serve God, then you need to take another look. A godly man will point you towards God, protect your purity, and treat you well.

3. Listen to the Holy Spirit. We do not serve a quiet God Who doesn’t talk to His people. If you sincerely pray that God would let you know what His perfect will is, He will let you know. It is your job to listen and obey, and not go off of your own flesh and will. If you ever find it hard to pray for God’s will to be done in your relationship, it may mean that your flesh is fighting your spirit. God’s plan for our life is so perfect. I remember thinking that I had found my husband once, and God asked me to end that relationship. I found out later on after being married some scary things about this person, that would have destroyed a marriage. What may hurt for a little while, is not worth the hurt that comes with disobeying God and marrying the wrong person.

4. If you want to be married, date for marriage. Dating for “fun” is not really a biblical principle. It is not “fun” to continuously give parts of yourself away to many different people, all to find yourself feeling empty and still alone. I lived that lifestyle, of constantly needing someone to be interested in me. It led to hurt and loneliness, and a heart that had a wall around it. Had I just let God love me and make me whole, it wouldn’t have been so hard for Tyler to break down those walls. If you want to be married, your heart is not your own. Think of your decisions as impacting your future spouse, because whether you think they will or not, every decision you make impacts your future relationship. So, if marriage is your goal, make it clear to those interested in dating you (maybe not as bluntly as I did), but you get the point.

5. Lastly, marriage is not your ultimate goal. Marriage is holy, amazing, and definitely one of the best decisions of my life. But getting married and being a wife and mother, those things are not and should not be what you live for. Yes, I am so happy God blessed me to be Tyler’s wife and John’s mother, but my first purpose is as His daughter. My first goal is to serve God with my whole heart, mind, and soul, to do what He created me to do. If you are in a season of singleness and marriage is all you can think about, try letting yourself fall in love with God. Try serving God for the sake of serving your King, instead of hoping your obedience will lead to a husband. Marriage is a blessed thing, but it is not everything. Remember your season is a beautiful season to enjoy! Singleness has many perks that marriage takes away. So enjoy your season, hope in God, and serve Him however He asks.

I remember someone told me that the best way to find your spouse is to run towards God so fast, that one day you happen to look over and see your spouse running next to you. You may find them when you stop looking.

So, all of this to encourage you on your journey. Do not just give yourself away to the next cute person that shows interest in you. Be wise in your choices, prayerful in your decisions, and let the Holy Spirit lead you to His perfect will. I love you all! Happy (future) homemaking!


Cast Iron Skillet Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs

So this year my husband and I found out that we both prefer chicken thighs over chicken breasts. Chicken thighs are the moistest, most flavorful cut of the chicken you can get! I always buy skinless and boneless because that’s how we prefer it, but to each its own.

This recipe was one of those “throw everything together and intohope it tastes good” kind of dinners that I often make at home! And now it is literally both my husband and I’s favorite dinner that I make! So I thought I would share it with you!

This cast iron honey garlic chicken is the perfect mix of sweet, savory, and delicious! I always serve mine with either mashed potatoes or oven roasted potatoes and broccoli! You could also serve it over some white or brown rice if you wanted! Either way I believe this honey garlic chicken recipe will make it on your dinner rotations! Let’s get started!

Cast Iron Honey Garlic Chicke. Thighs

What you will need:

  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard

Dry Seasonings:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In cast iron skillet, place chicken thighs with top side facing up. Sprinkle dry seasonings over top of chicken.

In a small bowl, mix together honey, garlic, soy sauce, olive oil, and mustard. Pour mixture over chicken and make sure to spoon sauce on any missed areas.

Bake in oven for 20 minutes. When 20 minutes is up, carefully spoon sauce from the bottom of the skillet over top the chicken thighs and place back in the oven on broil for 3-5 more minutes (be sure to check for color since ovens vary).

Then you are finished! That’s how easy it is! I hope you will love this recipe as much as I do! Happy homemaking!

5 Things I Wish I did not Buy for my New Baby

Having a new baby is such an amazing time of preparation! A time full of excitement, anxiousness, and pure joy! It can also be a time full of lots of questions, especially if it’s your first baby or your first baby in a while! What do I need? What does baby need? What is worth spending my money on?

Having a new baby is an easy time to spend a lot of money on things that may not be necessary. I made a list of The Top 5 Things I Loved for my New Baby and many found it helpful! I thought, you know what, I’ll share the 5 things I wish I hadn’t of spent money on too! Maybe that will help as well! So in case you’re wondering what I personally found not necessary to purchase, then hopefully this helps you!

As with my top 5 list of things I loved, this is very personal! So if you have a different opinion, that’s totally fine! Not to mention, each baby is different in what they like! So it’s possible for one baby to not need something and another baby to need it!

1. Baby Shoes under 12 months

Okay, I know this one is hard because baby shoes are the sweetest thing that have ever been invented! HOWEVER. In total honesty, I cannot even tell you one time that John has successfully worn a pair of shoes since he has been born. When he was little he wore some booties (made of fabric) but when it comes to actual shoes – yeah that didn’t work.

So many people would pay tons of money on name brand shoes for a baby who will outgrow them in literally 2 weeks. And if you have a baby with a massive monster foot like my baby… all the shoes you have will be too small before you even have a chance to put them on him! So, when next baby comes around, one thing I will not buy will be shoes.

Now when walking begins and shoes are a little more sturdy, then I will purchase shoes for John. But until then, just don’t do it. Unless you want to spend 10 minutes re-putting shoes on your baby who continuously kicks them off.

2. Receiving Blankets

Okay so this one may be controversial BUT this is just my experience! Let me tell you why it isn’t necessary to purchase lots of receiving blankets. I have about 10 blankets neatly rolled up in the top drawer of his changing table and I can count on 3 fingers how many times I have used one.

John wasn’t into being swaddled so I didn’t need them for that. He was gifted SO many blankets at his baby shower that I had tons of comfy ones he preferred. Honestly, receiving blankets are way too expensive for the little amount of use that they actually get. Now, many of you will still get some at your baby shower! So if you don’t feel like returning them you can always keep them in your baby bag and use them for public restrooms! I just never really used them so I wish I wouldn’t have spent money on them.

Also the hospital gave us the classic white receiving blanket with the pink and blue stripe, so we kept that for memories!

3. Newborn-Sized Clothes

Now this is for those who have bigger babies in their families. Luckily, I didn’t spend a dime on newborn clothes but was handed down a whole bag full! John was over 8 pounds when he was born and 21.5 inches long, so he really could only wear newborn clothes for maybe a week or two? Had I spent a ton of money on newborn clothes, I would have been very upset! Now if you have preemie babies or small babies run in your family, then it may be worth the money! But I definitely recommend finding cheaper, already used clothes for your baby because they grow out of the sizes so quickly!

Definitely do not spend tons of money on clothes for your new baby! Go by what season your baby will be born and buy maybe 3-5 onesies, cotton pants, zip-up pajamas, and maybe one or two fancy outfits. That’s really all you need!

4. Bumbo Baby Seat

So, many of you who have babies probably loved your bumbo seat! That’s fine! With John, I never really used it at all. His legs were chunky from day 1 and this chair always squeezed him too tightly. It also runs brand new at about 60 bucks, so to pay that for about 5 uses just wasn’t worth it for me.

I definitely won’t use in the future for any more babies because we have chunky, big babies. But you may like it! This is just one of those purchases that wasn’t worth the money for us!

5. Loud Expensive Toys

You’ve probably heard this one before but I will reiterate it! DO NOT buy all kinds of noisy, room-taking-up toys for your new baby. When they start playing around and crawling, they are much more interested in random objects in your house rather than toys.

The toys that have been worth the purchase are just basic toys like balls, blocks, and stuffed animals. Things that John can bite on and easily put in his mouth and hold in his little hands. He may hit a noisy toy once and then moves on to something else. Luckily, we were gifted and passed down toys so I didn’t spend too much, but had I spent a ton of money on these toys I would have been sad!

So that’s my short list of things I wish I would not have bought for a new baby. There’s many other little things but these were the 5 that I mostly think would be helpful! I hope this helps in your journey for answers! Happy homemaking!

The “What-if” Trap: How I Broke Free from Anxiety

Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.

Charles Spurgeon

I remember that time during my life, when anxiety was my “normal” state and I couldn’t remember what it felt like to just not worry. About anything. At that point I remember worrying about things that really didn’t matter; what people thought of me, if I was doing enough as a Christian, if I would ever make it in life or be successful. You may think those things matter but honestly, while I was worrying about them they were falling together without any help on my part in the background. My worrying was getting in the way of promises coming to pass.

But I worried still. One thing that really stuck out during that time of testing in my life was I continuously had to go to God. What felt like the darkest, most trying time of my life also was one of the times of my life I felt closest to My Father. I had to learn during that time complete reliance on His strength for my everyday. Honestly during that time there were days I would not have made it one my own; but God.

One thing that God taught me during that time was that had He just delivered me from anxiety, I would have never known how to fight anxiety when it tried to come back. You see, anxiety will rear it’s ugly head to everybody whenever it gets the chance. Some have learned to turn it away, others embrace it. During that time God had to teach me to stop embracing every anxious thought and instead cast it down and cling to His Word. So that three years later when an anxious thought tries to come back, I have the tools to tell it where to go.

One thing I realized as I tested every thought during that period was that most often, every anxiety attack began with two words: what if. What if I don’t get that job? What if I never get in that relationship? What if I get sick? What if that person I love walks away from me? What if I get hurt again? What if I’m not good enough? What if I am rejected again… what if… what if… what if….

It was a prison. A cage. A trap. Every time a thought began with “what if” I knew what would follow. A thought that led me down the path of fear into the storm of anxiety. I knew what I was thinking wasn’t true… I knew that it was fear and anxiety attacking me… but I didn’t know how to not embrace the thought.

One day as I was praying to God and crying out, I just began to be at my wits end. “How do you expect me to break free of it if you do not tell me what to do?!? ‘Fear not’ is easy enough to say, it’s the doing that’s hard!” In my frustration, He quieted my soul. “I have told you what to do. Read My Word.”

Begrudgingly I went to the Word and turned to one of the many verses on anxiety I had memorized at this point. I’m going to post it below because I believe if you’re reading this post, then you need to read this scripture:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.

Philippians 4:6-8 AMP

As many of you know and some may not, my undergraduate and graduate studies were in psychology and counseling. As I read this scripture, immediately I thought of psychology and counseling concepts for people with anxiety, trauma, and depression. The thought behind many of the techniques used for people with those struggles is to locate maladaptive thoughts and replace those thoughts with the truth and positive thinking. While I contemplated what this scripture meant, I realized our Counselor, the Holy Spirit, can help us do the same thing.

He essentially told me right then how to deal with anxious thoughts and cast them down. The above scripture is a formula for anxiety.

1. Take what is making you anxious and pray to God about it. Give specific requests (supplications) and thank God for His blessing and hand on your life; knowing that whatever may happen He has you.

2. Filter your thoughts through the list above. Is what you are ruminating on just, true, pure, lovely, of good report, praiseworthy, virtuous? Or is it anxious, fearful, angry, bitter, lustful, dread-giving, prideful? You will essentially live out your thought life. So a way to combat an anxious life? Stop anxious thinking.

You may be thinking, “That’s easier said than done.” And you would be correct. It was very hard work to be free of anxiety. For two years I filtered every thought I had; it was the most emotionally draining thing I have ever done. But it is not impossible to be free of anxiety. You are not doomed to it forever just because you struggle with your mind. The issue is to retrain your thinking. If you struggle with anxiety and depression I do recommend reading a book by Dr. Carolyn Leaf who is a Christian Neuroscientist. She helps explain your thought life and the physical and spiritual aspects of it. This book really helped me live free of anxiety and depression. I will post a link of it below!

Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions by Dr. Caroline Leaf (2007-05-03)

So after I read this scripture I asked God, “What does that look like practically? Replacing my thoughts?” And He simply told me what began my walk to freedom. “Instead of thinking what if something bad happens, simply turn it around and think what if something good happens.”

So when a “What if I never get married,” thought came around, I turned it around and said, “What if my God has my husband waiting around the corner?”

“What if I am never free from this bondage?” instead “what if my deliverance is tomorrow?”

“What if they don’t like me?” “What if God has anointed relationships and friendships waiting on me?”

“What if they reject me?” “What if rejection by them is what will put me on the path to the right relationships?”

You see it’s all about outlook. Anxious thinking is truly thinking without God in mind. But when you remember who you are and Whose you are, you remember to add Him into the equation. Then we remember that whatever the enemy means for our evil, God can turn around for our good (Genesis 50:20). Even if those bad things do happen that you are anxious about (which they most likely never do), then you have a God Who restores, replenishes, and redeems.

The what if trap steals your hope for the future, wraps you in anxiety, and chains you in fear. But if you begin to filter your thinking and align it with the Word, you can and will be set free. Freedom is not unavailable to you. If you have been trapped in fear and anxiety for 2, 5, or even 20 years, you can still be free. My mom lived in anxiety for over 40 years. And she walks free of it today. Don’t let the enemy lie to you and tell you that this is your forever. Begin surrendering your thought life to God and see His freedom today!

I will be sharing more of what I learned on my two-year journey with anxiety. Be encouraged and please let hope spark in you again. Happy peaceful homemaking!