First things First

Run To Jesus | By Andrea Pinner

First things first:

  1. Everything I’m about to write I’m saying to myself too.
  2. Girl, I know you’re busy, so I’ll be short and sweet, just like my mama. (Love you, Mama!)

I wish I could sit real close, look deep into your eyes and tell you that you have ALL that you need to be the parent that you want to be. How do I know this? Because you have Jesus. He is our source for everything that we need.

image2Just to be clear, I’m not talking about cute bento lunch boxes, or perfectly decorated or
labeled anything. I’m talking about you and me as mothers. How we behave when we are around our kids. Now listen, your kids don’t need the perfect version of yourself. I hate to break it to you, but they already know you’re not perfect. They need to see you pursuing the One who is though, with all that you have.

Now get this, let it really sink in deep, the enemy is going to want to twist this all up so let’s get something straight. You are enough because Jesus is enough. This is not another failed to do list. This is an invitation to spend more time with the One who loves you and knows you better than anyone else.

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Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten how busy you are. I know you just want to go to the bathroom by yourself and your body is begging for more sleep. I’m not saying you must carve out a beautiful serene quiet time into your day. Maybe that’s impossible in this season we’re in, so just remember this; HE is always with you!

 

Your kids are cranky and you’re about to lose your mind? Run to Jesus. It’s bedtime and they want one more story or drink of water. Run to Jesus. You’re running late and that one child of yours, you know the one, has misplaced their shoes again! Run to Jesus.

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Our kids need to see us running to Jesus in the everyday moments. Let them see you read your bible for a couple minutes with breakfast, worship Him in song or dance, listen to podcasts while driving or doing your make up, pray when you’re anxious, or angry, or sad. They don’t need perfection. They need real. Real Pursuit of Jesus.

The world will show them a million false things to turn to for peace, strength, joy, and love. Let it be us (their mamas) that show them by example to always, always run to Jesus.

 

 

 


Andrea Pinner is a daughter of the King, wife of 18 years to her love, Joseph, and mother to her five dearly treasured daughters. She loves to sing, dance, cook, and write. Flowers, butterflies and cool crisp mornings are her favorite. She’s passionate about encouraging young women and other mamas in their daily walk by being transparent with her own struggles and victories.

A Day for Thanks

A Day for Thanks | By Victoria Gomillion

I would like to start off by saying I absolutely love this time of year! The cool weather, plaid, food, and family is my happy place! I am a high extrovert, so the more people the better. The only idea better than having all of my friends and family living on my street would be if they lived in my house. I love decorating (though I am not the best at it), and I love cooking, and eating. I could write a whole blog on my high, unrealistic, over excited optimism about the holidays, but I would like to share something a little deeper. I want to share why this day is so precious and should be looked at with eyes of excitement instead of dread.

My favorite moment in the day of beautiful chaos, called Thanksgiving, is when everyone shares what they are most thankful for. I love watching people’s “thinking” face as they IMG_3675mentally go through their life trying to categorize the best part. It’s quite humorous. A lifetime of blessings comes down to a five second platform to share something that has made or changed your life forever. How can I name just one thing that is a blessing in my life? Why is it only Thanksgiving Day that we share these deep truths with each other? Why are we not proclaiming all year long, “I am so thankful for my family, friends, food, shelter, freedom”? I’ll tell you why, because sharing what you are thankful for does not mean you have a thankful heart. Believe it or not, there is a huge difference, and that’s what I want to remind us of. When we have a thankful heart it overflows into every aspect of our lives, even the way we think and feel.

Having a thankful heart means we smile with joy and appreciation when we can only afford the lesser quality version of something we really wanted, or when a husband helps out around the house even if it isn’t the way we wanted. A thankful heart means we are truly content with what we have and where we are at, period.

IMG_3840In the Bible, Paul told the Philippians that he had learned the key to happiness and that was contentment in all things. He mentions he knew what it was like to be rich and poor, full and hungry, warm and cold, and at the end it all comes down to contentment. I feel convicted even writing this because of how many times my attitude is anything but thankful. The Bible is full of verses on thanksgiving and the importance of having a thankful heart. Probably because life has a way of throwing a huge pile of poop (aka trials or hardships) on the most perfect of days. Are we going to try and focus on the day we wanted so badly to be perfect, or the stinky poop covering it? Though loving Jesus is easy, following Him is not. We want things our way: perfect, happy, blessed, and stress free. So how do we still enjoy ourselves when things don’t go our way? How do we hold onto contentment with a thankful heart?

I know this holiday season is difficult for many people. Maybe someone you loved passed away around this time of year, and when you look at happy people or laughter all you can remember is how you used to share in that kind of joy with them, and now you will IMG_3956never get that chance again this side of heaven. Maybe you are in such financial hardship that even thinking about buying a turkey or decorations seems like a burden, reminding you of just how poor you are. Or maybe your family is toxic and abusive and this time of year means constant fighting and hurt feelings, covered by fake sentiment and crying in a closet alone. I have experienced all of this so I know how hurtful this time of year can be. What should be “the most wonderful time of the year” can quickly become the most dreaded. It’s one thing to go through the holidays, but it’s a whole different story to try and rejoice about it.

I really, really want to rejoice in hard times and make God look good! He deserves that. After all, He made me, pursued me, saved me, redeemed me, and then empowered me! At the end of the day, no matter how good or bad, if we can remember this I think it’s the first step to a thankful and grateful heart. So, when you feel the frustration rising, the chaos beginning, and the expectation of a perfect day dying; try to take five minutes for yourself and say out loud, “Thank you God for not only my crazy family, some food and shelter, but THANK YOU Jesus for never giving up on me, but instead pursuing me relentlessly because You love me so much.” Reminding yourself of who you are and where you would be without Jesus is a sure way to get back a thankful heart! Let’s do our best to be the bright shining lights God created us to be in a dark world! Let’s be the people that rejoice even when it’s hard, laugh when things go wrong, and have love for those that sometimes make it difficult. Happy Thanksgiving everyone, bring on the fat pants!


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Victoria Gomillion has followed Jesus Christ whole-heartedly since the age of 19. All of her success, fruit, blessings, and life she owes to Him. She fostered a child for two years, was married to her Prince Charming last year, and pregnant a month later. The same month she found out she was pregnant, her first daughter’s adoption was finalized. Victoria has had the blessing of finishing nursing school, leading worship, speaking prophetically, and teaching mentor classes. Her full-time joy is now as a wife and mother.

 

Intimacy

Intimacy | By Bethany Luchetta

Where are you God? I am waiting for You to show up.

Fact: God is here. So now what?

Here is what I found. I hope you can pick-up on my analogy. You can walk around on a getty_rf_twofingerspecial date with your lover. You can be with them and connect. But you aren’t making love 100% of the time, or even 90% or 10% or of the time. The truly intimate, physically
resonating connecting moments are rarer than the time we spend together connecting in non-physical ways. There may be seasons when we are jumping-in-bed-all-the-time; making-love like bunnies! This is the same with our intimacy with God. There are seasons we are running to Him, fully feeling Him, and experiencing wholeness in our soul. You may say, ‘addicted’ to the emotional high we get from ‘the touch’!

With that in mind… What if your lover only wanted you in bed? What kind of Online-Dating-Data-Featured-382x255relationship would that be? I am ashamed to admit, there was a time I thought sex was the only flash-in-the-pan that I needed. But the truth is, it leaves you empty if there is no other connection. What about truly caring for someone outside of how they make you feel? What if there was no ‘foreplay’ or time spent getting to know your heart and mind. The relationship would be shallow and immature. So, just like your lover, God wants to hear your heart. God wants you to hear His heart too!

The dictionary defines ‘coming together’ or ‘communion’ (which is a form of prayer) as: The sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, the Apostle Paul says to ‘pray without ceasing’. How is this even possible if prayer only looks like a traditional prayer picture we see on wall art. It is not possible to live like that. We couldn’t perform any other of our worldly tasks required if we are down on knees petitioning all day – albeit, this type of prayer is important in times. It’s not a wonder this definition of ‘pray’ in verse 17 is outlined as: “Fellowship with God through Jesus Christ, expressed in adoration, thanksgiving and intercession, through which believers draw near to God and learn more of his will for their lives.” This, we can do without ceasing. And what is November without Thanksgiving!?

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I struggle with this idea of prayer (or any idea of prayer, to be completely honest). I still long for ‘the touch’. You may have heard of ‘programming; yes, like a computer. People are programmed a certain way (nature / nurture). Sometimes your computer needs new programing. The brain responds to new code. So, here is my specific struggle, I have a hard time asking for help. And it’s my responsibility to upload the new script so I can grow. So, prayer to God for petition or intercession creates a mind-block for me. But I have to train myself that the Bible is true and this area of prayer is good, and desired by God. I also struggle with being vulnerable and allowing myself to be known. Prayer for ‘communion’ sake – just being together and becoming familiar with one another is good. So, I have to re-program myself for that Truth. And even when I crave the deeper touch, I have to trust that the other moments are vital and bring deeper faith. The feeling will come with time. Truth will set you free, and rehearsing it will reprogram your mind.

The intimacy you crave (and I crave) is good. God desires intimacy with us too. It fills us up so we can give back.

I am laughing out loud right now because an example just came to my mind: when you get intimate time with your lover, it takes the edge off. If you don’t get ‘the need’ met, the 5340957245d848fe96680acc6b5bd71fsaying goes, you end-up with “pent-up sexual energy”. When those needs are met, you have greater ability to cope at work, less likely to be distracted, more attentive to your children, and the like. But you also have other needs, and so does your lover. What if you never asked for help? Or your lover never asked you for help? What if you never sat down and talked? It would feel less like a partnership and more like a booty-call. Same with God. He wants to partner with you. He wants you to petition Him. He wants you to intercede. He also wants to ask you to come alongside Him and be a vehicle for action on this planet for His purposes like a power couple. It’s a symbiotic relationship (symbiotic: interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both).

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Both deep intimacy and communion are vital to keep the other in balance and growing in deeper relationship.

Even when I don’t feel it, I have to reprogram myself to the fact: God hasn’t left me until our next session. God is omnipresent. He is with me even when I don’t ‘feel’ like that’s the truth. Romans 8 is encouraging me right now. I hope it can encourage you as well. I will end with this beautiful expanded version: “When we have trouble, when we are hunted-down, when we are destroyed, when we are hungry, when we are penniless, when we are in danger, when we are threatened to death, when we fear today, when we worry about tomorrow. In the depths of the ocean, or on the highest height, has God deserted us!? NO! Nothing will separate us from the love of God.” I think I can add in there, even in the mundane, even in the daily tasks, in the routine, in the moments I don’t ‘feel’ it. I will choose to program my mind to KNOW that God is with me; I have not been left. An intimate exchange will come and it will be beautifully refreshing. I am growing closer to God.


IMG_2727Bethany Luchetta is a writer of life and reality. In hopes to connect with the humanity around her, she writes from her heart. Bethany just celebrated 7 years of marriage with her love, Vince Luchetta. They are both on their second marriage. Life has not been without challenge in their personal lives and career lives, yet they strive for growth in love and tragedy. They share three beautiful daughters, Makayla (17), Paige (13), and Livvy Lou (3). If you see them, reach out and say hi!

 

Table for One

Table for One | by Sonya Finley

I have been single for over 23 years – say what now?! And oh, the stories I could tell – but that, my dear reader, is the subject for another blog.

There are a variety of issues we face every day as single women in the church – raising children alone, managing finances, navigating car repairs, being labeled, ostracized, or even left out.  These issues often have nothing to do with a desire for companionship and/or a physical relationship. However, while there is so much more to living “la vida” single, singles ministries often fall short of providing necessary and practical tools for successful living. Instead we often find that ministries focus on marriage preparation and empowering us with the ability to “just say no” (if you know what I mean). Because of this we often find ourselves feeling uncomfortable, unsatisfied, and ungrateful in our singleness. Subsequently, quite a few of us will spin our wheels, jump through hoops, or “hide ourselves in the Lawd” to find that Godly man that He has prepared just for us.

Single_Ladies_(TV_series)_title_cardBut ladies, what about in the meantime – the time between the hoop jumping and the actual fulfillment of God’s promise to you? How will you approach this stage in which you find yourself?  Don’t have a clue? Do not worry! I offer you ten practical things you can do to live a gratifying life while you just happen to be single (after 23 years, I should, right?).

  1. Accept your situation. You’re single. You are not married. You may not get married in the near future, and there is the possibility you may not get married at all. This may not be the life you dreamt of, but it is the life you have been blessed with. And what a blessing it is – if you pay attention. Tough love coming at you: Spending an excessive amount of time reflecting on past relationships or visualizing your future husband is a subtle form of denial, and an outright refusal to deal with where you are right now. You are single. Deal with it. Press into it. You will find you are right where you need to be.
  2. Be honest about your feelings. Of course, if you are not yet content being single, say that. I give you permission. If you are harboring bitterness or anger because of your situation, admit to it. This is important. We cannot be healed and cannot align ourselves to our situation if we don’t truly admit where we are. If you are not feeling the single life, that’s okay – just don’t stay there. Admit your need and allow God to move on your behalf. Admission brings about the changes needed to walk in freedom.INB-table-plate-FPO
  3. Let go of the fear of being alone. I don’t need to remind you that the Bible speaks against fear. Fear is not of God. Fear is a dangerous thing. Fear will make you allow anything into your life just to have a man. Women with fear stay in bad relationships because “a bad man is better than no man and doing it alone.”  Fear will keep you from realizing what God has in store for you. Trust God’s plan in your life, even if that means being by yourself for a time. You will be okay.
  4. Get a social life – one that does not revolve around service to the church. Yeah, that is what I said. Be honest. Do you have something to do or people to hang out with when nothing has been planned by your local church? No? Well, you should. How many times have you sat at home alone and lonely because nothing was going on at church. Get out and have some fun, gurl! Call a friend from work and go hang out. No friends? Take a Latin dance class or join a Meet-Up group with people of like interests. Fill your life with laughter, fun and friends, and you’ll be surprised how good you feel being single.4
  5. Do not fall for the “Okey Doke”. You are single, and to some, that may be a negative – a shortcoming of sorts. Without meaning to, folks will define you by their negative (or pity filled) reaction to your lack of or desire for a companion, and you may find yourself falling into agreement with their assessment (the Sunken Place). Do not accept the negative labels. Do not be defined by your situation. That is not who you are. Singleness is just your current state, and gurl, it is by no means cause for pity.
  6. Take care of you. Do I really need to spell this out? Do for yourself. Make time for you. And don’t give me excuses about having kids – I raised four, with a job – sometimes two! Although I learned the hard way, I did learn the importance of making time to do for me. I used to take what I called “artist dates” and my sons were trained to understand and respect mommy’s time. That time spent doing something just for me made me feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and re-centered. It empowered me to be the best version of myself and to find beauty and appreciate the life I had.
  7. Stop waiting! Yeah, you over there waiting to start living for when you finally get a man and finally get married. Don’t! Get a move on it. What are you waiting on? And please do not recite the scripture about “waiting on the Lord”. I am pretty sure you sitting around letting life pass you by is not what God had in mind when He inspired that scripture. NOW is the time to do something – anything – that keeps you actively involved in your life.note-to-self-you-gotta-do-this-for-you-this-16404756
  8. Always look your best – from the inside out. (The Fashionista’s words to live by!) Getting your attitude in line will give you a beautiful glow that moves past all the surface stuff. This does not mean you should neglect your outer appearance. Be fierce! Not for the men you think it will attract, but for your own self confidence.
  9. Get your finances together – Now! Don’t wait for a man to come along and rescue you from your debt. Make steps today to get financially secure.
  10. “To thine ownself be true.”  Honor yourself. Do not allow yourself to be belittled or dismissed because you are single. Know what God says about you and walk in that.

No worries, gurl. You got this.

 


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Sonya A. Finley has been living the single life for 24 years. In that time she has raised four awesome young men (James – 26, Kevin – 23, Joshua and Johnathan – 18), graduated from college with a BFA, and began a huge step in her professional career. She is on the verge of a new season in her single life that now focuses on a journey not centered around child-rearing. She has made many mis-steps, learned quite a few bits of wisdom along the way and is happy to share with women who find themselves in the same place.

Mom, You’re a Heifer!

Profound Motherhood | By Denise McAndrews

I don’t know if this ever happens to you: you have a profound thought but it’s not convenient to write it down and later you only remember that you had an amazing epiphany but not the details. This happened to me one morning last spring.

Several days later, I asked God to help me remember the understanding He had given me. (The older I get, the more I rely on John 14:26; God’s promise to remind me). While I was asking God to help me remember, I grabbed some cheese from my lunch box and there, written on the package, was a note from God saying:

“All cows are moms! Before they have a calf, they are called heifers.”

I just about jumped out of my seat! I wonder, since God owns all the cattle on the hills, was He there (in the corner, kind of snickering) when the package was printed? Clearly, He planned to put it in my hands.

Now that might not sound like much to you. But, in one sentence, that package encapsulated what God had downloaded into my heart about Mothers days prior. In fact, I was so excited about the phrase, and so touched by God’s reminder, I told almost everyone I met that week! And, that’s when I was asked to write something for this blog.

Now, I feel I need to qualify what I am about to say or at least brace you for something that may either require evidence or be overly simplistic. Take it as you may. But, don’t take it until you pray. God may show you something amazing and simple even if He has to write it on a package of cheese for you.

What’s in a Name?

When you became a mother, you were given a new name; you were given the name, “Mom.” This is Mom with a capital “M.” And, like in marriage or when you became a Christian, a new name implies a new identity. Your name and personal identity go hand-in-hand. And, once you became a mother, at least one person was destined to call you “Mom.” (Yes, I am using the cow analogy. You love the cheese-package story now, right?)

There are important distinctions about names that sometimes get muddled up with the roles we play. “Mom” as a name, is not an additional role like sister, student, employee, child, or even wife. The difference between roles of a mom and the name Mom are easily misconstrued because many people perform the roles of a mom. In fact, you can be Mom and “a mom” to someone. It is when there is no Mom, that the role of mom is so valuable.

To embrace Mom as an identity means to realize that mom-ness permeates your every fiber. To fulfill the role of mom implies a portion of your life or time or effort. Roles may be temporary. Mom is not. Becoming Mom changes you.

Not only does the word “Mom” identify who you are but it has the power to define what a mother is to your child. Since you are Mom to your child, you are your child’s definition of a mom. It is something like a math equation: to your child, you are Mom (You = Mom). Therefore, Mom equals You to your child. Make no mistake, to your child, you are “Mom.” It is who you are from the moment you became Mom. And, you are always Mom to your child even apart from age and life.

Many times, young mothers (and older ones too) struggle with identity issues. To be Mom, the things you used to do with your time and money are often exchanged for other things because you are Mom. (Not to mention your body no longer looks or feels like it’s yours.) Becoming Mom doesn’t mean you are required to give up all other identities. Yet, there are times when the new identity can feel like an unfair trade and even a sacrifice. This part doesn’t last forever.

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Denise with Tom, her hubby (and love since Middle School), and their dog Lili

Whenever God calls for a sacrifice, the return from Him is always far greater. Our best example of this is God’s love for the world that is so great that He gave His only Son so that anyone who believes in Him will have everlasting life. The return for this is incomprehensible. And, while I can’t say the sacrifices you make to be Mom feel like that type of a return, the return can be amazing!

When my children were young, I thought about the sacrifices I made to be Mom. Now that my children are older, and have children of their own, I can’t picture myself not being their Mom. There is no sacrifice too great compared to the gain I received in exchange for being Mom.

Your identity as Mom has the powerful potential to envelop you and wrap itself into the fabric of your very being. It is significant, impactful, and lasting. Without embracing it as an identity, you will miss the very blessing God intended it to be.

Here’s a bit of trivia: The moons of other planets have names other than “moon.” But, the name of the moon that orbits the Earth is “Moon.” (Now we have a cow and a moon story! I see a theme here.)

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Denise with her best friend of 30 years, Mary Fletcher

It’s clear that this issue of identity is mysterious and that sometimes, it doesn’t manifest as deep, sacrificial love. Selfish desires or seeking to protect ourselves from rejection cause us to avoid love. But, only love protects. To get a Mother’s (or Father’s) heart, we must move towards love or at least lean into it until we can shift our weight completely so that we are standing firmly, secure in our decision to love no matter what. This is what God desires of us.

So often we don’t love deeply because we don’t know we are loved deeply by God. We need to ask God to help us know and remember His love for us. In that, we can overcome hurt and be free to love others and not count the sacrifice as a cost greater than the returns.


Denise is a mom, a Grammy (and a Mimi). She is a sister, a daughter, a wife, a friend, a co-worker, and a lover of Jesus Christ. Little fun fact (posted by her daughter Bethany) Denise was co-founder of the original Classical Academy (yes, THE Classical Academy). She homeschooled her three children and loves educating.

 

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Denise with her own Mother