Monday, February 4, 2019

Don't Stoppe Believing!

The Amazing Rhonda Stoppe spoke this morning and she, like always, blew my socks off. I have been wondering what to be when I grow up as I hit 40 and now I know I want to be Rhonda when I grow up. I want to be that fired up, to have that spark she has. She is such a beautiful soul and the Lord has always spoken to me through her.

She dove into Moses' and Davids’ Mothers this morning. I never usually think about their moms. It's funny, we tend to look at the stars of these stories and not at the influential people in their lives. Their Mamas had huge impacts on making them into the godly heroes of the Bible we look up to. Our roles as Mamas are huge. Rhonda spoke about the number one thing that makes Christian kids walk away from God is having hypocritical parents; and if you tell a kid of 2 crack heads about a God who loves them they are more open to the truth. This is so true!! My husband comes from a home of Christians whose family looked great at church, but at home it was a whole other ball game. Matt walked away from the Lord as a young adult. Thankfully God pulled him back into the fold. I grew up in a non believing home and as soon as I learned about Jesus I instantly knew He was real.

Rhonda's talk was good and encouraging and I was really enjoying it until it hit a little too close to home. I have major Mommy issues. My mom has had addiction issues that led to abuse in our home. I have never felt nurtured by my mother, let alone liked or even loved. So when Rhonda spoke about "if you have Mama issues you will push other women out because you can't trust them" huge alarm bells went off for me. I have always had a lot of friends but when the chance to go deep and really trust another woman comes in, I run. I find something to nitpick about their behavior and make an excuse for why they can't be in my life anymore. Right now I am asking God to forgive me for resentment, bitterness and an unforgiving heart. I am asking Him to help me to love and trust other women. I know it won't be an overnight healing but I trust that He will help me to heal.

Wow I had no idea this morning was going to go this way and I am so thankful that it did. He is so good to have Rhonda share one sentence that I know was specifically for me.

Mamas, let's do what Rhonda said and fight for Joy in our homes. Let us let love and joy fill our homes. For me that means working on my hang ups so anger and resentment will no longer take a hold of my heart. What does that look like for you and your home? Let's think of one thing we can do today to show our kids a joy filled home that has a Mommy who, yes makes mistakes, but who loves Jesus! I love you Mamas and I am praying right now for you, that when you read this you will be encouraged to trust Him and may the Joy of the Lord be your strength.

Summur

Monday, January 21, 2019

Surrender Daringly

Have you heard of enneagrams? For those of you who aren’t familiar, enneagrams are a system of classifying personality types where each of the numbers 1-9 represent a personality type and its psychological motivations. Participants strive to use the enneagram to become more aware of their own psychological fixations, spiritual problems, patterns of behavior, and as a way of relating to other people. I had heard about them before but just recently dove into finding out what my number was. Long story short, I’m an 8 which is often referred to as “The Challenger”. A major part of an 8’s personality is the strong desire to control their environment; especially people. Certainly it’s not my favorite part of my personality, but, oh boy, is it a very LARGE part of who I am.

I have struggled my entire life with seeking to gain control. I have had a life where things have been very unpredictable. I’ve experienced a lot of loss and sadness related to things so far out of my control while enduring a lot of physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. There’s this part of me that thinks, “If I can just control this aspect, things will be better.” Abusive father, parents’ divorce, single mother raising me, brother battling cancer, tumultuous family relationships, friendships abruptly ending, abusive relationships with boyfriends, miscarriages, battles with mental illness, brother dying, autoimmune disease, children with health issues... all these things I have ZERO control over. But, that doesn’t mean that at most times I didn’t fight tooth and nail to gain control in nearly all these situations.

I grew up in a Christian household, accepted Christ at a very young age, went to church, went to Christian schools, was involved in church activities and missions. I grew up knowing God was in control, but I always had trouble giving up my control to Him. I had no problem giving Him my prayer requests and my praises, but I couldn’t give up control. WHY?! Do I know better or do I think I can do better than God, just because I think my circumstances “should” be different or that “I don’t deserve this”? I used to question why these things kept happening. Hadn't I been through enough?! I had this expectation that I deserved a break from the hardships. After my brother’s death, I began to accept that God was using these moments to teach me, shape me, grow me, or use me for his greater good. Well, at least I thought I did. I know that in my heart of hearts because the Holy Spirit is screaming it to me, but I still struggle daily with seeking to control.

Surrendering to God is the ultimate act of faith and the most daring and brave thing you can do in your walk with Him. Think of the freedom of not feeling the burden or pressure to control every situation. To let yourself off the hook from thinking everything is up to you. God asks us to cast our cares and burdens upon him. What are we missing out on by distracting ourselves with what we think we can/should be able to control? Where could that energy be better spent? What message are we missing when our focus is on unhelpful expectations and the need to control?

Being a mother is the hardest job. You wear many hats as a mother. You love so fiercely. You experience 257 emotions every day. The second you become a mother, you are transformed. It is no longer about you. Everything you do is for your child. Their needs surpass your own. You would do anything for your child. You are exhausted. You struggle with the dreaded mom guilt, feeling like you are constantly falling short. You are being tested each and every day by these little blessings that make you want to cry and pull your hair out while simultaneously making your heart melt. But God chose YOU to be the mother to your child. Motherhood is the perfect lesson in control. That is, you have very little control over your child. You can do all the right things, but your little human is a being with free will. You can provide the perfect sleeping environment, but it’s up to your child to sleep. You can provide all the right foods, but it’s up to your child to eat. You can teach them and train them in ways that they should go, but it’s up to them to make the right choices. You are not in control of your child’s life. That statement can be terrifying. Your child is your heart walking around outside of your body and it can be tremendously difficult to see them experience pain or difficulties or struggles. I say all this, not to discourage or be a bummer. I say all of this because I feel motherhood is the ultimate lesson and tool that God uses to refine us. We need not worry or fear because He is in control.

Motherhood has brought me to my knees more times than in my entire life before having children. I have given my concerns, my worries, my anxiety, my fears, my struggles, my transgressions, my pleas, my desires... I have laid them all before him. But why do I still struggle with feeling like I still need to control everything? Maybe it’s just part of my personality- that strong willed, controlling 8. I still hold onto a piece of those things I lay before Him. I struggle with full surrender. But God continues to work in my life. He continues to use the daily struggles of life and motherhood to refine me. He brought me MOPS. He brought me to the blog team. He brought me this message. He is using the Holy Spirit to scream at me that I need to not just give him my worries and strife, but truly and fully surrender them to Him. I need to let them go... *cue Frozen sing along!* When I truly surrender, He brings me encouragement and restores my soul. There are so many challenges in motherhood, I don’t want my worries and constant need to control to add to the difficulties. I don’t need my load to be any greater. I need that weight lifted off my shoulders and to let things go when I give them to God. I need to be bold, be daring, and daringly surrender. I want to be still knowing that my God is bigger than any problem or worry I have. He is always in control. I need only be still and listen and trust that when I surrender to him, He has me exactly where he wants me to be and will guide me through this thing we call life.

-Heather G.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

RESPECT

R.E.S.P.E.C.T

Well my Christmas D├ęcor is packed away; the New Year is among us. It seems most people are saying goodbye to the “bad” of 2018 and embracing the hope for 2019. As I take a moment today to reflect on the last 365 days, I can not help and feel contentment.

Personally, I know how devastating this year has been for some of my closest friends. Some have lost loved ones after a long battle with health issues, others have separated from long relationships/marriages, another handful lost the heartbeat of the child they have not yet met but loved so dearly, additional individuals lost jobs, homes, along with hopes and dreams that they had anticipated for 2018.

I know how hard some years can be, some years where you hope desperately, they leave behind all the darkness that year held. I remember having, what seemed to be year after year of devastation. I recall frantically having an DNC the last week of 2012 after learning I had lost my child earlier that month. 2012 had already brought Mom’s cancer and losing a child, was just the icing 2012 needed, so I made sure all the “bad” would stay that year. 2014 Mom died on December 23rd and I was not going to let 2015 have her burial, so we begged and pleaded for us to bury her before the year ended… I know hard years and wanting to leave them behind, so with that I will give myself permission to continue this post.

2018 has brought contentment. Everything was not perfect and rosy, but it was not devastating either. I think for the first time in my life, I have given myself permission to look at the good the year brought, instead of focusing on the bad I was leaving behind.

Our speaker on our last meeting had so many great moments on stage and even though it seemed to be two different areas she spoke about, for me it all undertone one word, RESPECT.

RESPECT- A FEELING OF DEEP ADMIRATION FOR SOMEONE OR SOMETHING ELICITED BY THEIR ABILITIES, QUALITIES, OR ACHIEVEMENTS.

Respect for others is extremely important and not to be taken lightly. I think when we think of this word, we usually associate it with how we respond to someone else. Wendee focused on the word internally; to RESPECT oneself. To allow one permission to put one first and give your being the respect it deserved. All over the Bible, self-respect is talked about.

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made”- would I not respect something that is made wonderfully by God?

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” – would I not respect something God created in HIS own image? 

Why don’t we give ourselves the respect we deserve? Why do we sacrifice and to the point DISRESPECT ourselves, to make someone else happy?

Wendee referenced a line from the book titled 7 Things Every Healthy relationship Needs, “Respect Yourself. Respect is crucial to relational health. And again, you can’t respect anyone else if you don’t first respect yourself.” 

To respect oneself, is not conceded or unloving to another, it is a healthy way to learn to be a better individual. It will teach you how to love others better if you love and respect yourself. If you put you and your family first. She mentions how she leaves for Christmas to allow herself the time she needs to focus on the holiday and respect her external family needs to build their own traditions and not feel the pressure and fear the holidays can bring. This is one of the ways she has helped herself and her family. This may not be for everyone and I know her well enough to know she is not saying to everyone to ditch their extended family on the Holidays. I do believe what she was saying is give yourself the permission to respect your needs and wants during this season and in life in general.

So, I am RESPECTING myself enough to look at 2018 and focus on the good. I am not going to look at what failed, for it is so easy for me to pick on myself and what I could have done better. I am respecting myself enough to say, “Yessie, it was a good year.”

So, what happened to me in 2018, well I grew as a woman. I learned to love harder and seek friendships. We paid off a lot of debt by budgeting and working super hard. I made the decision to close some doors with unhealthy relationships in order for the “possibility” of them to be opened again in a healthier and much deeper way, or for them to remain closed as they might have been toxic. I started to blog and write more, to allow all my thoughts to be put into words and actions. Finally, I allowed 2018 not to dictate me but for me to dictate it!

I recently heard a quote from Gisele Bundchen. “The mind is an instrument, don’t let it play you, you play the instrument!”

What a great reminder of how much we can control our mind and perspective.

So Happy New Year, embrace whatever 2018 had written for you and prepare yourself for 2019.

Let’s start off with embracing this definition of RESPECT.

RESPECT- A FEELING OF DEEP ADMIRATION FOR YOURSELF ELICITED BY YOUR ABILITIES, QUALITIES, OR ACHIEVEMENTS. 

Much Love and Respect,

Yessie J. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

A Precious Gift

Erin from the Modesto Pregnancy Center joined us at our last meeting. The pregnancy center provides pregnancy testing, classes, and they even have a boutique that moms can shop in with baby bucks earned by attending classes. Besides these things, and in my opinion one of the greatest gifts they give, is the knowledge that they are loved by God and so are the babies that they are growing.
It is a place that is near to my heart because 10 years ago I walked into a pregnancy center scared and nervous. The kind people at the pregnancy center helped me confirm that I was  pregnant and asked if they could pray for me and my baby. I walked out of that office afraid of what was to come but comforted by that prayer. As my pregnancy progressed I would receive calls from the pregnancy center workers to check on me and pray for me. It was touching and something I will never forget.
I ended up having a beautiful baby girl, Leilani Jae. That tiny baby that rocked my world and made me a mommy turns 10 tomorrow. It is the most bittersweet feeling in the world. I am so proud of her and I love seeing who she is becoming, but I wish I could make the single digit years start over. She is mature, funny, and so smart. She loves to be on stage and is the sweetest big sister ever. I am in awe EVERY SINGLE DAY by this gift that the Lord gave me. I am so grateful to be her mom and I sit here crying happy tears as I remember the nerves I felt and how I had no idea how I was going to do this. I am forever grateful for the women that told me I would be alright and prayed over us. That support meant the world to me and I love how the Pregnancy Center gives hope to moms that need it. -Ana

Monday, November 26, 2018

Made with Love

Alrighty let’s see. Our last meeting was the Market and Mingle. How fun was that!? It was so cool to see Mamas talking with other Mamas and to see different gifts and talents people have.

So I thought I would share something that I thought about after I made something a few months ago.

I made a sign that says “made with love” on it to put in my kitchen. After I hung it up, I was thinking about how I made that sign with love and I loved what I had made. The sign is to say that the food I make is made with love, but that’s not what this is about. It just made me think about how we were all made by God and He made us with love and He loves what He made. We are His masterpieces. He chose our smiles, our eyes, our hair-color, our voices, the gifts we have, and everything else about who we are.

It just amazes me that the God who created the universe, gravity, snow, fire, day, night, and everything else, created me. And He created you. 

It makes me think about my babies and how I don’t have the ability to choose anything about them. God made them one of a kind and from day one they’ve surprised me as they grow and I learn more about them; and they’ll continue too. Shiminy, I surprise myself sometimes too, haha.

And that brings me to me. It’s amazing to me that I have this body I live in but sometimes I have no idea what’s going on with it. I was born with it and yet I still have to learn more about it and get to know it better, though I won’t ever know it fully.

I’m so thankful that God knows me fully and I can rest knowing He’s got my life in His hands.

All that to say... you were made by God Himself and you are loved and valued.

So I took a little detour to try writing a poem and this is what resulted:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We are all makers
Makers of something

It may seem great
It may seem like nothing

God has gifted us in different ways

To be a hand or a toe
Makes no difference you know
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Psalm 139:14 - I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

1 Corinthians 12:14 - Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

1 Corinthians 12:25 - .. , so that there should be no division in the body, but that it's parts should have equal concern for each other.

Psalm 25:1 - In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.

-Heidi M.






Friday, November 9, 2018

Your Fire is Coming...

With a little bit of laughter and a whole lot of Jesus, we are going to be better than alright.
Lisa Mills had me peeing my pants! Her southern accent and red hair were what my soul needed this morning. To be honest, I had a hard time getting to MOPS this morning. I woke up exhausted, kids were late to school, lunches were not made, and the idea of being “on” sounded dreadful. Those who know me, know this is not me, but this morning it was! I am so glad I got my lazy body out of bed and forced it to go get fed, by all you lovely ladies. I don’t think I have ever regretted forcing myself to do something I didn’t want to do, but I have regretted laying there and allowing my rut take over my morning or day.
Anyways, back to Lisa, she truly fed my soul. Her ability to laugh and embrace the little things in life was so refreshing. For one, I will never look at TSA uniforms the same. Two, I have a new respect for small kid potties and the magical power they hold.  
I loved that Lisa got serious at the end, because that woman has some amazing insight. There was so much there that I honestly can go in so many ways with this post, but I will focus on this: God may not give you your microphone until you allow him to heal you and restore you from your past.
We all have this one thing in common: WE ALL HAVE A PAST!
All of us, we all have it. Some of us have 24 years worth, others are passed 40 years worth, but it is there! It is all different and shaped differently. Some might consider their past worse than others, others may think their past is not worth mentioning because it doesn’t involve a dad chasing them through the woods with a shotgun, as you try to protect your siblings as Lisa did. Regardless of what your past holds, we can all agree we have been betrayed at some point in our lives by someone or something. We have ALL had to forgive something or have something to forgive. We have been changed by someone else’s actions. It may have been when we were 10, 15, 25, or in my case 1 years old.
Here is my past, I was molested for 12 ½ years of my childhood. It was by someone I knew, and my parents trusted. I had no idea what was happening until about 6 months before it stopped. He stole something truly precious from me. Something I could never gain back. Something that my husband should have had to himself. He made me fearful of being with a man. He stole that, and there was NOTHING I had done to deserve it.
It took another 5 years before I was able to tell my mother what had happened. To be honest it was God who told her, I was so ashamed, but he made me have a horrible dream and she heard the revelation come out, as in my dream I shouted terrifying noises. The truth coming out caused more problems at first, it is what my mother calls the sizzle of a fire burning out when someone adds water to a burning fire. Well, it sizzled, and it almost seemed like it got worse before it got put out. Although to the outsiders my life seemed to be a royal mess, the truth was, for the first time in my life, my soul was starting to heal. The truth coming out allowed my suffocated being to finally take a breath of living air. God opened my heart to seeing the big picture. As He continued to heal me, I kept hearing him say over and over again, forgiveness is not about him, it’s about you healing from him! It is you letting go of the last strings he has on you, you forgiving him will set you free from his abuse.
Forgiveness came easy through Christ. Trust me, if it would have come from me, I would still be in a tangled dark mess. Allowing Christ to take ahold of my darkest moments allowed him to use my mouth and actions to glorify him through the act known as forgiveness. I remember the hell day the Devil had with this; for him being against me, he used God’s ability to allow me to forgive my abuser against me. Everyone questioned if this truly happened, how could I have forgiven so easily and without strings. No one does that, if he truly did this to you, you would make him pay for his actions, you would never forgive, you would never go to his bedside as he nearly died and say to him, “My forgiveness is without strings.” But through Christ, anything is possible. (I can imagine the Evil One falling over backwards over this comment).
Friends, I share this with you for two main reasons: To let you know you’re not alone, and two, to show you how God must restore you, even when it is not your fault, before being used.
Your story may not be like mine, it may be “worse”, or it may be “rosier”, regardless of it, you are not alone in it. We all have had reasons to hold on to anger, fear, anxiety, you name it; but you may not be able to be used to your fullest until you start healing from it. You don’t need to be perfect, please don’t misunderstand me, but you do need to figure out what is holding you back.
Lisa gives a beautiful example of his promises. God gave her a microphone, for her it literally is a microphone, as a tool to use after her healing from her dad’s abuse. God will use us and all our broken pieces the moment we hand them ALL over to him and allow him to restore us.
What will your microphone look like once you allow him to restore you? What fire will He ignite in you, if you allow him to start healing your soul?
I’ll leave you with this last thought from Lisa, “Your fire is not one you go seek, it is not hard to find or hard to manage, instead, God will throw this fire towards your direction, when the time is right.”  Your fire is coming; He will do the hard work to make it, the question is, will you let him?

Much Love,
Yessie J.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Lead Me

Last Tuesday the magnanimous Heather Blass, my very first MOPS leader, shared with us about Leading Where We Are. She challenged us to step up as leaders within our "Sphere of Influence". She encouraged us that God will use us where we are, and reminded us that "God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called"! She was so inspiring in her message that I found her after, interrupted her conversation, and told her that I think I need to go back to school full time and become a medical doctor. Ha! We will see if that is what He has in store for me.
     This last week her message has me thinking about what the Lord has done in my life and how He has used me. Used me in ways I never planned for or would even want. He has even taken away things I thought I wanted but I'm so glad He took away.
   I used to like to think I knew everything and how my life should work out perfectly, oh and I could tell you how to live your life too. Of course I can still think this way from time to time. I think this has got to be pretty funny to God because of the amount of plans I have had for my life. It is a long family joke that if you name a job, or a place, I have probably worked there. I literally want to do everything and be everything. I have worked as a Waitress, Salmon Hatchery Tech, Nanny to the rich, Missionary, Hot Dog on a Stick chic, etc. The list literally goes on and on. After High School graduation I was accepted into an acting college in NY, but was trying to decide if I should be a Paratrooper Medic in the Army...I ended up settling on Child Development...also, Fashion School was an option before I met my husband and I got my EMT shortly after we were married. So yes, you can say I have a focus problem or lots of different dreams.
     When I became a Christian, and a wife and mother shortly after, I thought I had finally figured out what I was supposed to do...The Highest calling known to man, a Stay at Home Mama. Surely it would be a super easy and rewarding job, right?
  Fast forward a few years and my husband and I were raising support to be missionaries, not the cool ones who get to go to a third world country, but the Home Team ones who go to Dallas TX to work in an office. So we headed to TX with our 3 year old and 16 month old. When we got there it was a great community of believers and I made instant girlfriends. I told God.."Okay Lord, now we can relax, this is what you have for us for the rest of our lives and it’s perfect. We live in a bubble of Christians and I get to homeschool my kiddos and humbly serve you until I die, perfect." Well He had other plans. We served there for 3 and a half years and slowly found out it was a corrupt ministry. 2 of my husband’s cousins ended up diagnosed with cancer, one of whom was my BFF. So we headed back to Modesto with no job, and no house, and zero plans and ideas for the future. Not at all according to plan.
    Surely I would not be used now, or be able to lead anyone, I thought. I was sad and depressed and felt completely alone. It was all survival mode at this point; feed our children Lord and provide for us. Not many of my prayers were to ask for Him to use me. But He did. In time God provided Matt a job, us a home and me a MOPS group. After one year I was asked to lead a table at MOPS. I started to get a little cocky..I asked God to allow me to show these ladies at my table a thing or two. I had wisdom and could surely lead this table no problemo. Well I went into the year pregnant and ended up diagnosed with Postpartum Depression (PPD). All those gals at my table who I thought I could teach a thing too, ended up holding me up that year and helping me to just survive. Still not my plan and surely He can’t use me now! The next year He did end up using me through my toughest trial I had ever had. He gave me a chance to share my story at a MOPS meeting. Through that, many gals opened up about their own walk through depression and anxiety. And women still come up to me today to share about their walk through depression.
    Two things I never planned to happen and God was able to use me in ways I never expected; Helping women with PPD and Spiritual Abuse. He used me to lead. And still is. Who knows what He wants me to do when I grow up, wink wink.
   If I would have known as a little baby Christian the things He would allow to happen in my life I would have never signed up for them. My kiddos are now in school and I am still leading at MOPS and living in Modesto. Add those to the list of blessings I never planned for.
We all have desires in our hearts. HE will give us those desires the Bible says. Let’s spark those fires of the things we have a passion for and see how He will use us. It’s just the simple act of being willing to be used by Him. Being a leader is just a person being used by God. Taking small steps to work towards what we have a passion for. He will open the doors He wants us to walk through, and close those He doesn’t.

My challenge to you ladies is to walk boldly as Mama leaders! To prayerfully be open to what HE has for you. To remember that you are a unique and gifted person whom God has given desires and dreams to for a reason.
I wrote down a couple of scripture references to remind us all who we are in Christ. Do not be fearful Mamas to Find Your Fire. God put it in your heart for a reason. HE may not follow your plans, in fact I guarantee He won’t. But His plans will be awesome! Love you!, Summur

You Are........
A new Creation    2 Corinthians 5:17
His Workmanship    Ephesians 2:10
Chosen and Royal    Romans 8:1
Without Condemnation    John 1:12
Child of God      2 Corinthians 5:21
Righteous    John 15:5
Temple of God     Ephesians 2:6
Friend of God   2 Timothy 1:7
Full of Spirit of Power, Love and Self Control     Galatians 2:20
I can do All things     Romans 8:17
Citizens of Heaven    1 Corinthians 6:17
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made     Colossians 3:3

--
SUMMUR BRALEY

GOD IS LOVE & HE LOVES YOU!