Mother's Day...

Dear Mama,

Mother’s Day comes with a wide range of emotions, from excitement and celebration… to dread, guilt, and grief. Mother’s Day is arguably the only holiday that appeals to everyone’s emotions, causes one to reflect, and warrants a response of some sort… regardless of race, gender, income, background, or even religious beliefs.

On this single day, some will joyfully reflect on their own mother. Others are thankful to be a mother. Some will feel the pain of not having a mother. While still others feel the anguish of not being a mother. I tell ya, for a holiday to inflict such a response, shows the power of the ones behind it.

Mamas, we matter.

Not only do we matter, but we are built for this.

On those days where you may not see it, believe it, feel it, or understand it… just know, you are built for this. Single mom, step-mom, foster-mom, working mom, stay-home mom… you are built for this. Tired mom, frustrated mom, helpless mom, depleted mom… you are built for this. The load may seem heavy, and at times unbearable. Days may seem foggy, and your calling questionable. But always remember, you are built for this.

You lack nothing.

You matter.

So on this holiday, whether our loved ones hit the mark or miss it, I pray blessings and peace over you. I pray the truth of God’s Word encompasses you. And I pray that you embrace the beauty of God’s design for motherhood… and that you celebrate!

Keli ReeseComment
A MOMent with Brittany...

Dear mama, meet Brittany.

Brittany is a mom of 3 beautiful girls. I have known her for nearly 30 years, and in this time, I have watched Brittany grow up, and grow into the woman she is today. Her precious words have inspired me.

This is her story…

It’s taken me almost 33 years to learn to love this woman. I spent so much time trying to be who I thought I should be. Trying to fit into what I thought others expected of me. All the while, neglecting the one person that should matter most… me.

There was a time when I would look in the mirror and the reflection was a complete stranger. She didn’t know what she wanted. She had no goals. She had no boundaries. She didn’t believe she was beautiful. She felt inadequate. She felt undeserving.

I knew I never wanted my daughters to ever have to experience that. I wanted to raise them to be strong, confident, sure, loving, and generous. I had the revelation that negative self-talk is taught and this if I continued to live this way, I could be creating a generational wound of bitterness, anger, and complacency.

That day I chose to do something different. I decided to change my family tree. This began with me. I had to learn to love myself unapologetically. I had to instill hope, faith, love, and confidence in my children. I had to learn to forgive. Not just those that I feel hurt me, but more importantly MYSELF.

Every single day I take one step closer to being the woman I envision myself to be. And many days I fall short. But I forgive myself, show Brittany some love, and keep moving forward.

I cry when it’s necessary. I exercise my NO. I rest when I need to. And I take the time out to nurture my temple, my body. I journal to clear my mind. I create. And then I am able to pour out my best self to those in my world.

Keli ReeseComment
A MOMent of Guilt...
Mom Squad.jpg

Mom guilt. Many of us have it. Most of us can’t shake it. Few of us have conquered it. So, let’s confront it.

To the working mom, stay home mom, single mom, foster mom, step-mom, adoptive mom, married and divorced mom… How often are you overwhelmed with a particular sense of failure, inadequacy, or disappointment as it relates to raising your child? Do you find yourself consumed with thoughts of “what if”, or constantly questioning a parenting decision? Do you evaluate, only to reevaluate an action you have taken, and then conclude that it was the wrong one? That, my dear sister, is mom guilt.

Mom guilt became a reality very early on in my parenting.  In fact, I did not even know what this feeling was, or that it had a name. But I did know that for various reasons, and at random times, I just felt like a bad mom… like, I wasn’t quite measuring up to my own expectations, or the expectations of those around me. I felt off at times, even down on myself. But the distinguishing characteristic was the belief that anything bad, or wrong, was my fault.

Mom guilt is destructive. Not only does it silently break down the heart of the mother, but through its vicious path of disguise, and distortion, mom guilt ultimately dismembers the very relationships that we are trying to nurture. Here’s how it works.

The disguise.

Mom guilt can easily be disguised as good intentions. In fact, guilt usually stems from a genuine desire to be and do the best for your child.  There’s a standard of “mom-excellence” that many of us have in mind. Whether it was fashioned by our own experiences, personal desires, or cultural norms, we set the bar high for what a “good mom” is. Therefore, any mistake is often interpreted as a failure – even termed “mom fail” (what’s up with that??!). And multiple “failures” over a period of time will land us at the doorstep of guilt.

The distortion.

Once we are there, guilt then distorts the truth of our day to day life. Just imagine operating a vehicle with blurred vision. (If you’re like me, with a pretty significant astigmatism, you may be personally acquainted with this reality!) it’s quite difficult - dare I say, nearly impossible to maneuver effectively. Yet, when we allow our inadequacies to be woefully magnified, and our shortcomings to define who we are, we are living our lives with a distorted lens. The truth becomes fuzzy, and our journey very much agitated. Everything is “my fault”, “unforgettable”, and “not as good as” <insert mom friend>. We just can’t see straight. We lack clarity. The weight of guilt has us duped, and our vision distorted.

So now what?

How do we conquer the never-ending thoughts that overwhelm us? How do we get over mistakes that were made, or poor habits that we helped create? Do we live a life of unicorns and rainbows? Do we avoid addressing situations that are pressing?

Certainly not!

Dear mama, we must embrace the truth.

As daughters of the King, our identity is in Christ. Our strength is in Him. Our hope is secure… even as a mother. Simply put, there is nothing beyond the reach of God’s grace. So before we go any farther, stop and thank God for His grace, mercy, forgiveness, restoration, and everything that You need Him to be! You, dear sister, are already victorious!

Truth is, guilt is from the enemy. It leads to condemnation, and produces nothing good. Guilt requires us to make payment for our own mistakes. It will keep us up all night, and down all day. Guilt is NOT the same as genuine Holy Spirit-led conviction.  Guilt is not of God.

My challenge for us is to walk in freedom. This freedom is found in Jesus Christ. Jesus shed His precious blood so that may live victoriously in Him, by Him, and for Him. But remember, we cannot live a victorious life as a mom in Christ, while simultaneously being destroyed by guilt. One must give. And I don’t know about you, but I am ready to give up the guilt!

If you too are ready to conquer the guilt, consider this 3-step process toward cleansing:  

STEP 1: Confess it. Confess means to agree with God. Call guilt what it is. Don’t excuse it. Don’t explain it. And please don’t deny it. Confess it.

STEP 2: Commence. This means to move forward toward cleansing. This step may look differently for each person, depending on the complexity of the circumstances. So be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and prepare to obey His commands. Taking a step of obedience is your forward motion. So, commence, dear sister. Commence.

STEP 3: Connect. Pray about connecting with other sisters in Christ. Sisters to walk with you, pray for you, and hold you accountable. Sisters who are honest about their own struggles, while hopeful in victory. I have such a sister circle, and believe me. I cannot imagine doing the mom life without them!

Motherhood is quite a journey. So walk it out, dear mama… in freedom.

Keli Reese Comments
Motherhood and Marriage

Motherhood can get messy. Yes, at times, it’s even a blur. And if I’m honest, the one who really gets caught in the crossfire of my crazy… is my husband Ken.

Ken and I have been married for 13 years. We have a 12-year-old, 11-year-old, 9, 8, and (almost) 7-year-old. Our firstborn came along only one year after we were married. Then by adding more children soon after, it left our young marriage in a rather vulnerable state.

I have tried to successfully navigate both motherhood and marriage. But tending to one, without neglecting the other, is more than a notion. I have made plenty mistakes, but I have also gained insight on how to properly execute this dual role of wife and mother.

So, stick with me, Sis… I’ve got 3 ways to help run your home, but not your husband!

1.       Honor him as the HEAD – 1 Corinthians 11:3 says, “But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”  This, dear sister, is not a popular message, especially in today’s time. But God has a created order, the perfect order by which to display His glory. Don’t trip, though. This does NOT mean the wife is less than or subservient in purpose. But it DOES mean that we have different roles. And when properly executed, one compliments the other, and the home functions in a healthy way.

2.       Make him the HERO – As moms we can present so much information to our children. Real or fake, fact or fiction, fantasy or not, what we feed our children will either develop their imagination or shape their way of thinking. So, I like to use this opportunity to present the very hero we have living in our home! Now I hear you, I hear you, Sis. You might be “doing more” than your husband. And nobody is thanking you, applauding you, or holding you up on a pedestal, right? I have been there… more times than I care to admit. But as I began to honor Ken, the LORD began to honor me. But I would have never experienced the peace that comes with doing it God’s way, if I didn’t first step out in obedience.

3.       Remember he is HUMAN – We all make mistakes. And we give ourselves grace. We even give our children grace. But it’s often difficult to give our husbands grace. Let this sink in. He is imperfect… dare I say, just like you. So be careful not to hold him to a standard of perfection that even you yourself cannot attain. Yes, he is the head, and the hero, but he is also human. Show your husband grace!

Now don’t get it twisted. Ken and I are not the perfect couple, and we certainly don’t have it all together. However, 13 years and 5 children later, there is peace in the home, strength in the leadership, and joy in submission – as we are committed to nurturing our children by first nurturing our marriage. 

Keli Reese Comments

On a great day, my alarm sounds at 5am. It's quiet and still in our home. That's when I meet with God, uninterrupted and unhurried. I have at least an hour, yes, a full hour, to spend with the Lord.

I have been neglecting this 5am quiet time lately. Admittedly, my husband has a new work schedule, and my daily routine has changed. Our pace of life is different. And quite honestly, I've been too tired, more like exhausted, to even get in the Word - especially at 5am.

Consequently, I have been going through my days not only lacking physical energy, but spiritual energy as well. And I have been defeated. A lot. I have been defeated in my thoughts.  I have been defeated in my words. And I have certainly been defeated in my actions. Each day I just feel like I am spinning my wheels and getting nowhere... driving with 4 flat tires.

But I thank God for His reset button. You see, as much as I might desire to get back on track, I don't have the means within myself to pull it off. But God! Not because I'm so good, but because He's so faithful. And it is in His faithfulness that God continuously draws me to Himself - even when I’m faithless.

So, what does a reset look like?  Let me tell you. Just this morning, I silenced my alarm, and woke up 2 hours later, already defeated. But by 7am, there remained an unusual silence in our home. And I knew the Lord was calling me to use this time to spend with Him.

I was a little hesitant about getting in the Word at this time, as I anticipated the pitter patter of little feet that would soon be coming down the stairs. But I went ahead... sat down at the table and met with the Lord. And my children, who normally wake up at 7am, remained asleep, until 8:05am. Coincidence? Absolutely not.

God cares for me! And He loves me enough to let me struggle on my own, in my own strength... just long enough to let me see that I can't do it. But oh, He doesn't leave me there! In His unconditional love, mercy, and grace, He picks me up, and lovingly places me back on the right path.

Do you need a reset button?... Whether it's physical, mental, spiritual... Go to the Maker of your very soul! And even if it ain't pretty... Allow Him to reset you.

Bridgett HobbsComment
Not my will...

Growing up, I knew exactly what my life would be like. Everything was calculated by age... I’d graduate high school at 18, then from college at 22, get married at 23, and then have children after that. My children would be exactly 2 years apart, because that’s just what seemed right.  And by the time it was all said and done, I would be finished having kids well before turning old and gray at age 30.

It was simple.  It was perfect. It was my plan.

Believe it or not, I was pretty close! I graduated college at age 23, got married at 26, and… well, here’s where it gets foggy. Ya’ll, the babies… they just kept coming. 

In fact, soon after getting married, Ken and I managed to squeeze 5 kids in 5 years. Seemingly without warning, we were immediately thrust into this category of "family"… “large family” at that.  This was not our plan. 

MOMent after MOMent of thwarted plans, the struggle began. I struggled to find significance, in a world that looked down on women who remained barefoot and pregnant. I struggled to find purpose, as a college-educated professional, thriving in my career, but now home full time, and technically considered “jobless”. I struggled to find balance between home and ministry. And I most certainly struggled in my walk with the Lord, as I felt like I gave up “all of me” to take on “all of them” … and now there’s none of “me” left. It’s not fair. And boy, did I struggle.

Then the light bulb... the epiphany... the ah-ha MOMent, where something you "know", suddenly becomes so clear! And I remember it clear as day. It was during my quiet time that I ran across a familiar passage, Psalm 127:3, which reads: Behold, children are a heritage (blessing) from the LORD.  The fruit of the womb is a reward.  

Blessing? Reward? These 2 powerful words initiated an immediate response from me, which required a shift in perspective– from self to service.

It was on that day, that I decided to stop complaining about our life situation long enough to simply embrace the TRUTH. For God has blessed my husband and I... and He has rewarded us with 5 of His most prized possessions. He has loaned 5 souls to us. He has entrusted 5 hearts to us. God has given us 5 beautiful children... to give back to Him.

Now when I think, "This was not the plan”, it is from a place of humility and appreciation. For I now know, we have been rewarded. We are blessed.

Bridgett Hobbs