WFMW: The Hardest Yes of Motherhood

YesWFMW

I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Erin for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

The word “mess” is a familiar one to me. I’ve never been the best at keeping things well organized, but add three boys and all the Legos that come along with them, and I’m usually surrounded by messes. When I read the concept of saying “yes in my mess” in Kristen’s book I thought, “I can do that. I’ve been doing that for years.”

It turns out our messes aren’t always just physical, though, and it is often the relational, spiritual, and emotional messes that prevent us from saying yes more often to God and His plans for us.

I’m writing this during a break in packing my oldest son for camp. He’s eight and this is his first year going to church camp three hours away from home for four days. This may have been my hardest “yes” as a parent so far, and not just because I’m going to miss him or because he’ll be so far away and I worry.

Erin Yes In My Mess Post

My relationship with my eight-year-old has been quite messy for the past year or so. I am sure it’s not that much out of the ordinary. Many other moms of eight-year-old boys have reassured me of this. I asked his permission before telling this story because it is his story as well, but honestly, I don’t know if he feels the mess between us as much as I do.

The relational tension between us is two-sided, but I’m owning up to my part today. I’m creating a lot of mess with my own expectations and a desire to hold on to control of my family. Yuck. I hate to admit that, but this is where my “yes” came in to play.

Several months ago, my firstborn came home from AWANA talking about church camp and how he was finally old enough to go. “Can I go?! PLEASE?!” I was happy to hear him excited, but my mind quickly swirled with thoughts of him being too young and not ready and the camp being too long and too far away. This seemed like something very much out of my control.

Besides the control thing, I couldn’t help but think about where our relationship as mother and son was…and how I didn’t want it to be this way just before he left to be on his own for the first time. I had to make the decision to send him to camp or not in the middle of that mess. This was just about the time I was reading Rhinestone Jesus. As I wrestled with this balance of feeling God leading me to let my boy go and the feeling that I wanted our relationship to be “right” before I released him, I read this…

“God didn’t wait for me to get my life together before I said yes – He accepted my willingness in the middle of my mess.”

That’s just what I did. I said yes in the middle of my mess. I’m not writing this to tell you what happened on the other side. We’ve been working on my expectations and his respect for me, both making progress but with lots of room to grow. He leaves for camp tomorrow morning and I really have no idea what God will do through this. I only know He is working on me through this whole experience, asking me to let go so that He can shine. And I trust that He will.

“God wants us right in the middle of our mess because it’s the perfect place for Him to shine through our imperfections.”

 

 

Erin Mohring enjoys life in Nebraska with her husband of 11 years and their three boys, as well as reading, running, and movie nights with her guys. She writes at Home with the Boys and is the co-founder of The MOB Society, a site for moms of boys, by moms of boys.

WFMW: Why this Mother is Moving to Uganda {Giveaway}

YesWFMW

 

I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Emily for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

I wore Africa on my feet when I was three.

I wore it red on my soles, padding softly across the dirt to stare through the wire fence at neighbors dressed in bright prints and singing deep songs from somewhere low, their hips swaying as they washed dishes and clothes in the sun, in bubbles in a bucket.

 

Kristen Welch

The same kind of bucket I bathed in with my brother who was borne premature in the Congo, and our house was made of cement and my crib covered in mosquito netting, the legs of the crib in bowls of water to keep the tarantulas from climbing.

We ate mangoes, fallen red and plump on the ground by the garden where Mum grew legumes and squash and she canned those mangoes and we spread them on homemade bread.

I stopped talking when we moved to Africa and didn’t say a single word while I lived there. I just laughed and all those words, they got caught in my throat and then we went back to Canada when I was four.

And they said we were home but I didn’t see it. Because home wasn’t white and cold, it was red dirt roads and hot like the sun, and I’ve spent my whole life trying to get back there.

I’ve spent my whole life trying to find home.

I tried to find it in an eating disorder when I was nine because even though I’d found my voice I wasn’t allowed to say what I needed to. We were pastor’s kids and we moved a lot, we were home-schooled and I was the eldest of four, and my Dad was always at church and I didn’t have any friends, so I stopped eating.

And even after I nearly died at sixty pounds, and the nurses said I was a miracle and I began to believe in God, it wasn’t enough and I couldn’t leave our house fast enough at eighteen.

Searching the whole globe for home, but I never made it back to Africa.

Not until this January, when I went on a bloggers trip to Uganda and that red dirt, how it clung to my soles.

I embraced every bright-clad woman I saw, every child, and I couldn’t stop holding the people because they were family.

But my family was hurting.

They wouldn’t say it. They just hugged me and moved over so I could sit with them in the dirt, in their life, and hold their babies.

And even though I visited Rwanda too, it was Uganda which wrapped my heart tight like Kikoyi, an African cloth, and I was there for three and a half days.

I took Uganda back with me on the plane, I took it sobbing and restless and wrecked for the abandoned babies I’d seen, for the slums with their cardboard walls and the hunger, and the child-headed households and the thirst—the hospital that had no well, the kids who had no school to attend or shoes to wear, I took it all home, and I fell on my face every night begging God to show me what to do.

And he said to this girl who hadn’t spoken until she was four, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

The Lulu Tree is a name God gave me before I knew it was a real tree in Uganda, a Shea nut tree which produces fruit, as the website says, in the people’s exact time of seasonal hunger. Lulu means pearl in Swahili, and Uganda is the pearl of Africa, and we have no plan except to be like Jesus.

To feed beans and to read a Bible story. My friend Joy is our hands and feet in Kampala, she lives there with her family and she is overseeing a team of nationals who will minister to the mamas and children in the slums of Katwe.

And in four years, in September of 2018, my husband, kids and I will be moving to Uganda for one year to serve alongside Joy.

God whispered it to me when I left for Uganda in January: “Your job is not to fix. I could fix the world with one breath. Your job is to love.”

I hear this every time I fall on the floor in the dark begging God to help those children, the ones sniffing glue to numb their hunger, the ones lying in the same dirt chickens defecate on.

All we have is a pot of beans and a Bible. But it’s our loaves and fishes. And we’re trusting Christ for a miracle.

 

268386_Wierenga_WB

My memoir, ATLAS GIRL, is releasing this month, and I am excited to give away FIVE copies today. Just leave a comment below to win!

From the back cover:

“Disillusioned and yearning for freedom, Emily Wierenga left home at age eighteen with no intention of ever returning. Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents’ rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else–anywhere else. Her travels took her across Canada, Central America, the United States, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. She had no idea that her faith was waiting for her the whole time–in the place she least expected it.

“Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a very personal story of a universal yearning for home and the assurance that we are known, forgiven, and beloved. Readers will find in this memoir a true description of living faith as a two-way pursuit in a world fraught with distraction. Anyone who wrestles with the brokenness we find in the world will love this emotional journey into the arms of the God who heals all wounds.”

Click HERE for a free excerpt.

I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl. Just order HERE, and send a receipt to: atlasgirlbookreceipt@gmail.com, and you’ll receive A House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing Inspirational Memoir an absolutely FREE e-book co-authored by myself and editor/memoir teacher Mick Silva.

Atlas Girl_700x175_2

ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards my non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel.
64519_10153705975080099_2037134714_n
Bio: Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

WFMW: Because Your Yes Is Worth It

YesWFMW

I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Andrea for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

God has given each of us gifts, passions and dreams that are for His glory.
These desires and passions are all to advance the kingdom.
He wants to use each of us to do amazing things.

What you do everyday is good. You are doing the faithful work He has called you to.
He has great plans for your life. He has great vision and purpose for you.

I am writing these words and I really believe them in my heart.

But…I get stuck on a few details.

I am a mess.
My life is messy and not perfect.
At. All.

How can I say yes to God size dreams when I can’t even control the family laundry?

say yes image

How can I say yes to the desires and stirrings in my soul when I stink at meal planning and when my kids eat more cereal and mac&cheese than I care to admit?

How can I say yes to the dreams that are tearing me apart and scare the living daylights in me; the dreams that bring me to my knees and make me tremble?

How do I step outside of my everyday life and walk in the dreams and visions He has called me to?

Am I so bold to say, “Lord, I can’t seem to wash my kids’ underwear, but here am I, send me?”

Am I that audacious?
No. I’m not.

It’s easier for me to cower in my mess and say, “Lord, I am not qualified. I am not perfect. I can’t even match socks correctly. I forget to put a timer on meals and burn them often. I call going to the library ‘school’ more than I probably should and then I don’t return books and rack up embarrassing fines.”

Yet God says, “You think I don’t know you’re crazy? You think I don’t see your mess?
I see it. I’m calling you anyways. I give you dreams and visions despite the mess.
If you give the mess and the crazy to me…I will make it beautiful and fruitful.”

Because, ya’ll…He is really good at taking nothing and making something.
He is really good at taking cowards and making them brave.
He is really good at taking the meaningless, everyday mess and producing an overflow of greatness.
He is really good at taking the unqualified and making them purposeful and outstanding.

Because ya’ll…He made Eve from a rib and her womb was fruitful.
He made Esther bravely step up and she saved a nation.
He made Ruth do the work of gleaning and from her womb came the line of the Savior.
He made Peter, an unqualified, mess of a fisherman speak words of truth that saved 3000 people in ONE day.

God is worth the mess of life.
He is worth the crazy, beautiful, big dreams of life.

He desires for you to say yes.

Say yes, because what God is leading you to is worth everything.
Say yes, because God is worth it.
Say YES.

 

Bio:

Andrea Portilla has been married to her high school sweetheart for 11 years and she is also a mom and home educator to three amazing kids. Andrea can be found online at 5 Minutes for Faith and will soon be contributing to the new online magazine, Faith, Truth and Love. Andrea writes about her passions, faith and imperfections at BeautifulCraziness and her greatest desire is to inspire women to walk faithfully in what God has called them to within in their own beautiful, crazy lives.

 

WFMW: Saying “Yes” and Trusting God to Provide

YesWFMW

I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from LeeAnn for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

Snuggled in our king-sized bed under mounds of fluffy down feathers, sleep overtook me as I waited for my husband to come home from a late night meeting at the church we helped plant less than four years prior. As a pastor on staff, his days and nights were filled with meetings, ministry, and more meetings. Our marriage and family life were struggling under the weight of expectations and other challenges of ministry life. His heavy footsteps treading down the hall woke me and the words, “I think I’m going to resign” came gently tumbling out of his mouth.

Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch
In one night, my comfortable identify as a pastor’s wife in the church we loved came crashing down.

In the months ahead, I followed my husband into uncharted, uncertain territory as he moved from a steady (albeit small) church ministry salary to launching his own pastoral life coaching business and ministry. It didn’t take long to see God’s hand of favor in the one-on-one interactions he had on a daily basis, and my husband’s faith moved him to try audacious things as a new small business owner.

But I was scared.

Our tiny emergency fund wasn’t even the amount of one month’s salary and everyone knows starting your own business isn’t a recipe for quick financial success. My full time income alone wasn’t enough to meet our basic household financial obligations.

“Deep down I knew God was calling us to something radical,” writes Kristen Welch in Rhinestone Jesus. “And even though radical terrified me, I was more afraid of not following God.”

As his wife, I desperately wanted to support my husband in this new opportunity as he ministered to those who would never step foot in the door of a church but who would listen to godly wisdom shared in the context of creating goals and breaking down life’s hurdles.

His faith was contagious and it prompted my journey from a fear-based religion to a faith-based relationship with Jehovah Jireh, our Provider.

After two years of struggling financially when every month we have more bills than income, we have watched month after month God provide in large and small ways for our needs.

  • My husband’s new office needed painting? One of his first clients gave him a gift card to a paint store and friends provided the labor.
  • The kids needed pajamas? Old Navy had their exact sizes on clearance for $0.47. (No, that’s not a typo…less than a dollar each!)
  • No money for gas or groceries one month? A client gave me a card and $400 in cash with a note encouraging me as the wife of a world-changer…she knew it was hard and wanted to encourage me to continue to follow my husband as he pursued God’s call for his life.
  • The mortgage payment in jeopardy of not being paid on time? Without knowing the need, a friend gave us a check that more than covered the payment.
  • Christmas coming up and no money for gifts or extras? A family gave us $200 and told us to enjoy the holiday.

There are so many more examples of God’s faithfulness and provision through this time. We have learned that remembering God’s past faithfulness is the key to moving forward in bold faith.

Saying “yes” to God even in the midst of uncertainty has proven to be the greatest blessing. While I still at times struggle with fear as our financial situation each month is filled with unknowns, I am learning that “our need cannot be bigger than God’s provision.” (Gary Morland)

As we continue to say “yes,” He continues to provide for our needs, one day at a time.

Bio:

profilepiccropped

Growing up all along the east coast in a military family, LeeAnn Taylor has settled in North Carolina with her husband Chuck and two spunky kids, Salem and Sekaiah (with one more on the way!). She’s learned that living out the Christian life authentically requires daily submitting the pieces of our broken lives to God, the Ultimate Artist, allowing him to craft them into a beautiful mosaic masterpiece that can be used for His glory. She writes at The Mosaic Life about the journey of releasing fear & control, living intentionally, and embracing the freedom of Christ.

 

WFMW: Your Yes Is Enough

YesWFMW

I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Michelle for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

I remember gazing at the check on my dining room table, my cursive signature tidy in the lower right corner. The night before, my husband Brad and I had decided to sponsor the education of two teenaged Tanzanian girls. I’d dutifully written out the check the next morning, but I stopped just short of sliding the blue slip into an envelope.

I didn’t want to mail the money.

Brad and I had supported local charities sporadically for years – ten dollars for hunger, twenty dollars for new sneakers, an unwrapped Christmas gift, a few checks here and there – but we’d never contributed to an initiative that entailed such a significant monetary commitment.

But as I sat at the dining room table with the pen in my hand, I realized the money itself wasn’t the problem. The hard truth was that I simply didn’t want to spend it on something that seemed so fruitless.  What was the point? I reasoned. Who were these girls, and how would our help make any difference at all? It felt futile, like the tiniest drop

That was five years ago. Today photographs of Jackline and Neema hang on our stainless steel fridge. They are women now, wise eyes and huge smiles replacing gawky school-girlishness.

pic1

Last week I received an exuberant email from Jackline. She’s enrolled at the university, studying to become a professor. In her note she included a list of final grades from her first semester at college, and I smiled big like a beaming mother when I saw all the As and Bs.

Neema is finishing her last year of high school and hoping she’ll do well enough on the national examinations to gain entrance into the university. She always begins her letters, “Dear my lovely parents…” neatly scripted on stationary she’s illustrated by hand.

pic2

pic3

I admit, even after five years, I still struggle to write letters to Neema and Jackline. Sometimes the gulf between Nebraska and Africa seems to yawn so wide, I can barely string together a single paragraph. What to write to those who have so little?

Should I mention we recently returned from palm-lined beaches?

Should I say we are taking our young son and his five friends bowling for his birthday party?

I can’t possibly admit we repainted our older son’s bedroom, bought him new curtains and a new comforter to replace the ones that were not very worn.

I feel guilty. We have so much and they so little. It seems wrong, backwards and upside-down, that the ones who have virtually nothing pray for the ones who have so much. And truthfully, our handful of letters and once-a-year check seem not nearly enough.

“It’s common to have the desire to do something but end up doing nothing because we don’t know where to start,” writes Kristen Welch in Rhinestone Jesus. “We often don’t do anything because we think our contribution won’t be enough.”

She’s right. Most days it doesn’t feel like nearly enough. Two young women in a country of more than 40 million people, 60 percent of whom live on less than $2 a day? How does that make a difference at all? How can our checks, our letters, possibly matter?

Except they do. Even when I don’t quite know what to say, those letters and those checks matter for two women with wise eyes and broad smiles. Two women who live 8,750 miles away, in a country stricken with poverty. Two women named Jackline and Neema.

Our efforts are small, as are our contributions. They barely register a blip. But those smiles beaming at me from our fridge tell me something important: our yes is enough.

Bio:

bioA Massachusetts native, Michelle DeRusha moved to Nebraska in 2001, where she discovered the Great Plains, grasshoppers the size of Cornish hens … and God. She is the author of Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith and 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Heroines of the Faith (releasing September 16, 2014).  Michelle writes about finding and keeping faith in the everyday at MichelleDeRusha.com. She’s mom to two bug-loving boys, Noah and Rowan, and is married to Brad, an English professor who reads Moby Dick for fun.