The Strength of Womanhood

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 Philippians 4:13 (NK]V) 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 

This scripture is so simple, yet so profound. It has encouraged many of us during our trials in life. As I sit here and ponder what I should share several things come to mind: I could share my past hurts, I could share how I overcame being wronged, I could share how I found strength to forgive, I could even share how God is giving me strength to endure my walk with infertility. 

All of these are worthy to share and they all show that I only overcame these trials by the power of God in me. Yet, I find myself wanting to share something much deeper, my fear. A fear that I have carried for a long time, something that I don’t share with anyone because the fear of rejection is paralyzing. 

I don’t think any of us like rejection, however, some of us can handle it better than others. I for one have let the fear of rejection keep me from doing so many things in my life. I look back and think of all the opportunities I have missed because I just didn’t take that step. I’ve been my own worst enemy for a long time. I know that God has a calling on my life and I know that He has a purpose for me. Unfortunately, I have let myself get in the way of stepping out into the places that He wants to take me. I am a dreamer and I have big dreams, yet I haven’t done anything to make them happen. Why, you ask? Well, because I am afraid. Afraid to minister to someone, afraid to write that book, afraid to teach others because my past will eventually catch up to me and tarnish any good that I’ve done. Afraid that those who knew me in the past will rise up against who I have become in Christ and cause people to question who I am today. 

I have spent so many years just being friendly and cordial to people, but never really seeking a relationship with anyone outside of my husband, family and children. I’ve loved on others, prayed for them, blessed them and done all the right things, but I’ve never encountered that unconditional love from a friend. I’ve never allowed anyone to even get close enough to test those limits, that is until recently. Over the past couple of months a few people have been brought into my life to challenge me and grow me. I began this class not really knowing what to expect, because I didn’t really know anyone, but in this short amount of time my heart has been touched so deeply. I’ve met some of the most amazing people and connected on such a deep level with a few of these individuals. I genuinely cherish these women who have been brought into my life because it is such an honor to be able to do life with them. 

I’m sure by now you are asking the question: what does this have to do ,with any kind of fear? Right? Well, the closer I got to these women, the more I loved them and knew that I wanted to be completely transparent with them. I wanted them to know me, all of me, the good, the bad and the ugly. We’ve cried together, we’ve laughed together, we’ve prayed together, but I needed to know that they would love and accept me in spite of who I was. It’s easy to love people that seem so put together on the outside, so shiny, so confident (as long as you don’t get too close), but what about those that are broken and hurting? Will they still love me if they knew my past? There was only one way to find out, be honest, share my story and see where it goes. So with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, I shared something that I’ve not shared with anyone. Only people in my family and from my past know this about me because it isn’t something that I share with others. I don’t share it because I am ashamed and I don’t want to be judged or looked down on. 

My fear of rejection always takes over my wanting to be transparent, so I’ve just always kept my distance. This time was different though, I wanted to be who I was, I wanted them to know me, the whole me. So there we stood in the parking lot and I spilled the beans that I had been married before which I’m pretty sure they already knew that part. The part they didn’t know was that I’d been married several times, I am a three time divorcee. I can give excuses as to why I made the decisions that I did and maybe even convince some that I was right to make the choices that I did, but the truth is, there is no good excuse or reason. I just made poor decisions, and now I carry the burden of those poor choices. It has hindered me from being who God called me to be because I let my mind convince me that I’m not worthy to lead others. I’m not worthy to be an inspiration to others, I’m damaged goods and no one will ever take me seriously. I watched their faces as I spoke, but I seen nothing but love and compassion and the only response they both gave was: “Let it go, God has forgiven you, Stop living in a defeated state of mind”. My heart was overcome with joy, you mean they didn’t sprint to the car with an abrupt “we’ve got to go”. They didn’t look at me as if I was some leper. They helped me see that I was the only one crippled by this truth. They helped me see that in God’s eyes I was worthy and in their eyes nothing had changed. I was no different, then I was five minutes before I told them. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off of my shoulders. I knew then that I finally felt the true, genuine love of christian women who will forever, be a part of my life. With this new sense of freedom I was able to share with my life group leader this truth, and the response I received yet again was, “Let it go, stop holding on to that”. I was remirided that we all have a past, some are just more intense than others: So with my friendships still intact and no rejection to this point, I came to church on Saturday with a lighter heart. I came with a heart of gratitude and was able to surrender it all to God. After service I was approached by someone that I did not know who said she felt led to come over and pray for me. After she prayed over me and my husband, with several others standing in agreement with us, she told me that she felt like God was telling her to have me read the Book of John, there was something He was trying to reveal to me. That evening we got into bed and I picked up my Bible and did just that, I read the entire Book of John Saturday night earnestly searching for what God was trying to tell me. I read all of the miracles that Jesus performed and I was reminded that the same God that performed those miracles is the very same God that I serve today. I also know that the miracles He performed in the Bible are still miracles that He can and will perform today for those that seek Him. As excited as I was to read all of these miracles, I was sure there was something more and sure enough there was.

I found myself right there in the Book of John … I was the samaritan woman at the well who hung her head in shame because of the decisions I had made. I was the adulteress woman whose life was spared because Jesus reminded her accusers that they themselves were not free of sin. I was both of these women whom Jesus extended His grace, His mercy and His salvation and then told them to: “Go and Sin No More”. He already forgave my sin the minute I gave my life to Him. He not only forgave it, He forgot it. I was the one holding onto it, I was the one letting it hinder my ability to live freely in the grace and forgiveness that He extended to me. I was the one living in fear that no one would accept me, I was still hung up on the shame of these decisions. I kept people at bay not wanting them to get too close because of my fear of rejection. This isn’t God’s plan for our lives, He created us to have relationships with each other. Real relationships with real stuff so that we can grow and learn from each other. So after several confirmations and a word from God himself, I am now free of the bondage of this sin. He has given me the strength to overcome the stronghold that was over my mind. I realize that I am an overcomer only by the power that He places in me. 

A saying very near and dear to my heart is: “My flesh is weak, but He is strong· and His mercies endure forever.” I love this because it is so true, my flesh will fail, but His strength in me allows me to overcome these times and keep on going. God didn’t create us to live a defeated life. He gives us strength to overcome obstacles so that we can be warriors in His Kingdom. We have to be strong in Him in order to fight the enemy and press on even when our flesh is weak and tired. 

God’s word says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) And He said to me, ”My grace is sufficient for you, for mstrength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power qf Christ may rest upon me. I stand on the promise of this word because His strength is made perfect in my weakness. In my weakness He was able to renew my mind as to who I am. I am a daughter of the King of Kings, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He loves me and has surrounded me with people for such a time as this to lift me up and help me overcome my demons. 

 

 

NOTE: This entry was actually written a few years ago back in 2016. I came across this particular piece today by accident actually and felt led to share it. I do pray that it blesses someone because when this was written, it was during my time of struggling to become a mom.

 

First Day of School Blues

boy in brown hoodie carrying red backpack while walking on dirt road near tall trees
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

So it finally happened. My girl is old enough to start her first school program. After we relocated back to Georgia this spring I found out that a local church offered a program for 3 year olds. I was really excited to find out more about the program because our baby  girl is always talking about going to school and seeing her friends. I had always had every intention of homeschooling; because it just fit our lifestyle better with my husband’s line of work. However, when she was approximately one and half we found the tv show, “Sid the Science Kid” and this little girl has been in love with going to school ever since. She loves to make friends and every child she sees is her “friend”. I kid you not, we were walking through the airport one day and she seen this little boy and said “hey that’s my friend”, this little boy looked up at his mom in a state of confusion. We passed them again and she repeated her previous statement about him being her friend. This time he asked his mom “do I know her?”. My husband overhead him and just smiled at him and said, no sir you don’t, she just calls every kid she sees her friend.

To see her so free spirited truly does warm my heart, because she has processed so much in the three short years that she has been on this earth. Most people don’t know her story and those that do, don’t really understand it. Very few people in her life really appreciate where she is right now socially. What you see now is a rambunctious, outspoken little girl who seems fearless and fierce. However, this hasn’t always been the case. There was a time that she would shy away from anyone that looked at her, let alone tried to talk to her. She didn’t want any part of anyone holding her and had zero intentions of unlatching herself from mine or her daddy’s leg when she encountered new people. Even people that she knew and was familiar with were kept at a distance. Leaving her with anyone was not even an option because she would throw an absolute fit if we ever tried to. For the first year of her life, she went into the sanctuary with us at church because we could not leave her in the nursery. We could sometimes get her in there, but one of us would always have to leave service because she would eventually start crying and would not stop until one of us came and got her. We finally learned to just take her after praise and worship because she really enjoyed that and it shortened her time in the nursery.

As she got older she began to get really fidgety in service so we had to figure out a way to get her in the nursery so that we could worship and get filled ourselves. After discovering her new favorite show that made school look fun and exciting, we thought we had found a solution. So Sunday mornings became a place where we could see our friends. Although she was still skeptical, she was making progress and we could see the growth that began to take place.

We decided to start going to a church that was close to our home because the one we had been attending was a good 45 minutes away. That drive made it difficult to get connected  several times a week to be involved in various ministries. The first visit to the new church was tough because she just did not want to let us go. I reluctantly left her in the hands of the ladies in the nursery and stood outside in the hallway waiting for her cries of fear to go away. Eventually, they subsided and I was able to go into service knowing that she wasn’t freaking out any longer. I know what you’re thinking “good gracious lady, get a grip, let her grow, she will be fine yada yada yada”. Sure, that is easy to say when you are standing on the outside not knowing her full story. I eventually learned that the ladies in the nursery thought I was just an overbearing mom who couldn’t let her kid go. When the truth is, I knew the reason she was crying and it had absolutely nothing at all to do with being spoiled or being some kind of momma/daddy’s girl. Her cries came from a place that most of us have never known.

It’s no secret that all of my babies are adopted and that I have no children biologically. I get asked all the time to explain our family dynamics, which is kind the reason for this blog honestly. Anyway, when our beautiful girl came to us, it was through foster care. She was 3 weeks old and the most precious thing I had ever had ever seen. I immediately fell in love with everything about her. She was so curious always looking around with her big ole eyes that seemed so full of questions. We wanted nothing more than to protect her from ever being hurt again. She was loved, taken care of, had her needs consistently met and had a routine and structure that she was accustomed to. We had been told over and over by our Social Workers to settle in for the long haul because she would be in our care for a long time if not permanently. We heeded that advice and made sure we were planning accordingly and preparing ourselves for the journey. Only to have it come to an abrupt halt when the judge closed the case unexpectedly and ordered her back to her birth parents.

As you can imagine we were devastated and just could not seem to wrap our heads around any of it. I called my husband, who was working out of town, to give him the news. He didn’t even get to tell her goodbye. I broken heartedly packed up our sweet baby girl and took her to the CPS office to meet with her birth mom and Social Worker. I cried for days, I just didn’t understand what had happened. We had been told by so many people that this case would take a while and would most likely end up being a permanent placement. So we began to believe that and allowed ourselves to see her in our future. After the unexpected call to return her, I needed to get away because everything in my house reminded me of her. I decided to go and stay out of town with my husband for a few days to get my head and thoughts together. Needless to say it was the hardest week I have ever walked through. On the other side of that pain though, God had so much more for me.

The following weekend we had a barbecue at our home and invited several friends over, including birth parents and our sweet girl. They came and we all enjoyed the fellowship and tried to keep our emotions in check as we laid eyes on our baby girl after a week of her being gone. Something about her was different, she cried the entire time and nothing anyone did would console her. The little light that shined in her eyes seemed to be gone and she didn’t look as curious and inquisitive as she did the week prior. She seemed sad and lost, and this broke our hearts. We were allowed to love on her and care for her while they were in our home, so we did everything we knew to do just to get a smile out of her.

After everyone had departed we were left with just our baby and her birth parents. We were trying to give them some pointers on how to care for her. We just wanted her to be happy and loved so we were giving advice and offering our help in any way. This is where God begins to show us just how powerful He is in every situation of our lives. When we were so confused about the ruling and could not wrap our minds and hearts around the situation God comes in and blows us away. They say to us that they want us to take her back for a while because they needed to get themselves straightened out and get their living situation in order before they could properly take care of her. WHAT?!?!? Did I just hear you correctly? You are asking us to take her back into our care. Without a moments hesitation we agreed and worked out all of the details. It was eventually decided that they wanted her to just stay with us so we began the adoption process once they asked us to do so.

So what does all of this have to do with starting school?

When our little girl came back to us, she was very different. She was distant and untrusting. We had to regain her trust and the bond that we had made with her, You see, she had grown accustomed to her life with us, the routine, the sounds, the smells, the schedule, the love and consistency. She was safe and secure and care free. In a moment all of that changed for her and her world was completely turned upside down and thrown into chaos. The people that was meeting all of her needs were no longer there, there was someone new. The people she had a bond with were no where to be found. She was lost in a world that she was unfamiliar with and she didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t talk to ask any questions to help her understand, all she could do was cry.

We worked extremely hard to regain that trust and build that bond back with her. We were constantly reassuring her that she was safe, but she still had that look of distrust in her eyes. Anytime someone new came around she would hide her face, she would not let anyone hold her, hug her and if you tried to touch her she would pull away. We simply could not get out of her sight without her having an absolute melt down. Which is why we could not get her in the nursery unless her sister was on the schedule. She had to have familiarity in everything she did. Even people in our lives couldn’t get close to her, she limited herself to only those that lived in our home. We began to understand that she had a very real fear that we were going to leave her again. She was terrified of being abandoned again by the only people that she knew and trusted,

It probably took us a good two years to even get her to a place of acknowledging people in our life. I remember taking her to Six Flags and she was playing on the playground area just having a ball. I was standing off to the side never once taking my eyes off of her when all of a sudden she stops in the middle of the playground and just started calling “mommy, mommy, mommy” because she had lost sight of me. It was like she was frozen and would not move until she seen me, the fear in her eyes broke my heart. I wondered if we’d ever get her to trust us again to not leave her. We had several incidents where we’d try to encourage her to allow others in without any success. Then all of a sudden it happened, she gave someone hug, she let someone get close to her, she actually acknowledged someone speaking to her and didn’t shy away from them. This healing process for her began not quite a year ago, but the past 6 months or so she has really began to come out of her shell.

We have loved watching her grow so much that we wanted to help encourage that by getting her into a school setting; where she would be able to make friends and sit under the guidance of others. This is where the title and purpose of this entire blog entry comes from. We had our very first day of school this week and she was so excited. This day is all she has talked about since I enrolled her. I was excited for her because I have seen her growth and knew that this would be good for her.

Our first day of school began super early. I got her up so that we could get her hair done, get breakfast eaten and go potty before we left home. We get to her school extra early, because Momma wanted to get pictures. We spent our extra time walking the pathway just talking and praying over her day. She wanted to talk about the trees and the flowers, but we had some good quality time together before it was time for her to go in. As we approached her classroom, her little body could hardly contain the excitement. She ran into that classroom without a moments hesitation and never once looked back. I didn’t even get a hug or a goodbye :(. I didn’t cry though, I checked to make sure I didn’t need to do anything and walked back to my truck. I sat there a minute before I drove home just trying to process driving off and leaving her for the first time since regaining her trust.

Believe it or not I did not shed one tear. I got home and began to prepare dinner as my other two babies played under my feet in the kitchen. It hit me all of a sudden, should I be sad that she didn’t say goodbye? Does she not care that I left her? Does she not love me? Y’all know how the enemy likes to play mind games. Just then in His still small voice, God spoke right to my heart. He said “my child, do you remember where she was last year? Do you recall the scared little girl that wouldn’t let anyone touch her? Have you forgotten how far she has come in her journey of healing? She is happy and carefree, she is no longer afraid of you leaving her. Of course she loves you, you are her mother and the first one she cries for when she is scared”. In that moment tears sprang to my eyes because I did know her journey and I do know what a victory it was for her to overcome that fear that was so crippling for a toddler. God reminded me in that moment that even when I feel like I am failing, I am part of her journey of healing. He helped me see that we are doing something right because she is growing in the right direction. He allowed me to feel His presence right there at my kitchen sink as He touched my heart as if to say, you are doing a good job daughter, stop being so hard on yourself.

I am certain, I have many more hurdles to overcome when it comes to this little warrior princess of mine. However, with God’s help and guidance I know we will overcome each of them. As this new journey begins, I am trusting God to cover both me and her as we navigate unfamiliar territories. I am certain that as she continues to grow this Momma’s first day of school blues won’t get any easier. I will always be proud, and my blues won’t be because I’m sad. My blues will just be because the time is passing by so fast and she will be out changing this world before I know it.