Not Just a Face Only a Mother Can Love

Not Just a Face Only a Mother Can Love

I immediately connect with this week’s guest when we met. We have both walked the difficult road of parenting a child with special needs. We talked about the joys and the challenges of having children with medical and special needs on Hope for Raising a Special needs Child Kathy is filled with hard-fought wisdom from pressing into God.

I am delighted to introduce you to my new friend, please welcome Kathy McClelland to By His Grace today.


Not Just a Face Only a Mother Can Love

By Kathy McClelland

The night my son Nathan was born he made a sour face.

The labor and delivery nurse said to me, “That’s a face only a mother can love.”

I was too drugged post-surgery to realize what she said, let alone respond with something I would’ve said to my then three-year-old like, “That’s not a kind thing to say!”

Almost four years later her words still sting when I think about them, especially because we were in the midst of discovering our little boy was born with birth defects. Nathan has abnormalities affecting his brain, spine, heart, and kidneys. He was later diagnosed with Cri du chat syndrome, a rare (1 in 50,000 births) chromosomal disorder.

Almost everything about him is different. Aside from his obvious facial differences, he eats with a feeding tube, needs to be catheterized intermittently, and still isn’t walking or talking. Yet these differences are no reason to say he’s a child only a mother can love.

In his short life, Nathan has managed to win his way into the hearts of family members, friends, therapists, caregivers, medical professionals, and teachers. His eye contact is piercing at times. He freely gives his affection to people by making kissing sounds and leaning in for hugs. And although he generally has a flat affect, when he does smile it lights up a room and leads people into sweet, joyful laughter. 

His presence is a gift. It's not because of what he does or doesn't do. It's because of who he is--a sweet little boy buried within a syndrome that entraps his mind and body. Click To Tweet

All too often I think that L&D nurses comment reflects a general attitude many people have toward those who are different, oppressed, needy, and weak whether they would openly say those things or not. As a society, we are often afraid and put off by other’s differences, rather than in search of their beauty. 

That’s not the heart of Jesus though. Our God is a God of compassion. He has great love, care, and concern for the outcasts. He moves toward people on the fringes of society and tells the little children to come to Him. 

Now I see how God was working to redeem and heal that nurse’s hurtful words. 

Three special friends offered to come to the NICU and hold Nathan when we couldn’t be there. They rotated through a schedule of early morning and late nights shifts. These ladies showed up to love Nathan, proving that he wasn’t just a baby only a mother can love.

It was a beautiful expression of love for a boy who will likely be overlooked and judged by many. NICU nurses would later talk about these three ladies as the “baby holders” and “church ladies” who took such good care of him. Their love for Nathan impacted not only our family but the NICU staff as well. They chose to openly care for him and love him even though he is different, just like Jesus.

From the outside, my son isn’t the typical portrait of beautiful. But on the inside, he offers great beauty. My little boy is teaching me there is beauty in differences and that, he is most definitely not just the face only a mother could love.

BIO:

Kathy McClelland is the author of Beauty in Broken Dreams: A Hopeful Handbook for the Early Years as a Special Needs Parent. She is dedicated to sharing hope and encouragement with others affected by disability and differences. This became her passion when her second son was born with a rare (1 in 50,000 births) chromosomal disorder. Go to her blog, kathymcclelland.com, and grab a free copy of All Things Beautiful: Finding Beauty and Hope in a Special Needs Diagnosis.

CONTACT/SOCIAL MEDIA:

Email: kathyallthingsbeautiful@gmail.com

Website: kathymcclelland.com

Facebook: https://business.facebook.com/kathymcclellandwriter/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kathy_allthingsbeautiful/


Have the challenges of life created a desire to strengthen your walk with God?

We all go through struggles in life. Author Misty Phillip has lived through many difficult seasons of life where all she could do was look to God and His Word for hope. She found biblical solutions and scriptural promises that helped her overcome, and she can’t wait to share with you what she has learned.

The Struggle Is Real, But So Is God is a 6-week journey through the Bible that will:

  • Equip you with empowering wisdom.
  • Help you grow spiritually by claiming God’s promises as your own.
  • Teach you how to declare scripture over yourself to strengthen your inner being.
  • Show you how to conquer challenges by activating God’s Word in your life. 

Experience just how real God is and know that He is right there with you in the middle of it all.

See just how six weeks can change your struggle. Just in time for a summer or fall Bible study,  The Struggle is Real: But So is God is now available on Amazon for pre-order order your copy today! 

The Struggle is Real: But So is God

Much Love,

Misty Phillip

Married to Mental Illness

Married to Mental Illness

Being married to someone with mental illness can be quite challenging! This week’s guest on By His Grace shares the challenge of being married to a husband who suffers from bipolar disorder, and how God has used this in her life to make her more dependant on the Lord. With the help of the Lord, she has actually learned to count it all a blessing.

Listen in to podcast episode 18 Married to Mental Illness Please welcome my sweet friend Rachel Daniel of Brave Pursuit to the blog today!


Married to Mental Illness

By Rachel Daniel

This November my husband and I will be married for nine years. While I am more in love with my husband today than I ever thought possible, I have to be honest and say that our marriage wasn’t always so great. In fact, I don’t think we got to the “honeymoon” phase of our marriage until we were three or four years into the marriage. Those first few years were rough, and looking back on things, I know now it was only by God’s grace and mercy that we made it to where we are today. 

This has to be one of the hardest blog posts I’ve ever shared because I want the world to look at and love my husband in the same way I do, through the eyes of Christ. However, to love someone with the eyes of Christ, you have to see every part of them with honesty and transparency…which is why I’ve been so guarded up until this point to protect the image of my husband.

The honest and transparent truth is that I’m married to a man who battles with a mental health disability: Bipolar Disorder. 

Neither David or I knew that he was suffering from a mental disability until things began to rapidly unravel in our marriage. He battled his disability while I battled my inability to meet his needs due to my own selfish pride, stubbornness, and unrelenting desire to always be right (classic baby-of-the-family syndrome).

Praise God that in spite of our difficulties, we both desired to stay married and do whatever we could to save our marriage. We ended up seeking professional help in the form of a counselor where David was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Once diagnosed and medicated, we were left believing things would be “fixed.” We had no idea that our marriage would still require work because a single pill doesn’t “fix” everything. Actually, we had no idea that our marriage would require more work than most marriages. 

What was heartbreaking is that as a social person, who has always lived my life like an open book, was when I shared with other Christian friends what was going on in our lives, the response went from dismissive to fear. It was then I realized that our culture, particularly in the world of faith, wasn’t speaking and supporting the battle for mental health, and I felt like I had nowhere to turn. I shut down and did my best to hide the struggles in our marriage from everyone for fear or tarnishing my husband’s image. God’s Word reminds us, “For I hold you by your right hand – I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you,” (Isaiah 41:13)

As a Christian wife married to a man who lives with a bipolar disorder, God has taken me on a spiritual journey that I never could have anticipated. I grew up in church my entire life, but I never knew what it was to truly have an intimate relationship with God until I desperately needed His grace and mercy over and over, minute after minute, every day to learn to be the wife my husband needed. Being nice, keeping a clean house, and raising our kids wasn’t what my husband needed. With the help of God every single day, I get the chance to really know what it means to be a Godly, Proverbs 31 wife that my husband needs and desires. I rely daily on prayer and counsel from God to help me in my marriage (Romans 73:23-24).

So what does it look like being a Godly wife to a Godly man who battles for his mental health?

On paper, it looks like most marriages: put God first in my life and my marriage, pray constantly for my husband and myself, communicate with my husband regularly, always forgive, and love him as Christ loves me. Click To Tweet

The reality of walking those ideas and principals out though often looks different than most marriages. I am the thermostat for our house. I do my best to always gauge when the emotional well-being of our family is in normal ranges or when I can sense a shift in the climate. It’s my job, to understand and prepare to handle when the climate changes due to my husband and children’s emotional state.

For example, when my husband is in a manic cycle, it’s my job to interpret his needs: space, sleep, adjustment in medication, extra attention, sounding board, problem solver, etc. Sometimes, this involves me understanding and encouraging him to spend time in his “man-cave” for a few days without the pressures of being the world’s best dad and husband. Sometimes I take the kids out for most of the day, giving him peace and quiet.

Other times, this may mean that I set up a date night for us so that I can give him my exclusive attention without any interruptions. Other times, he just needs me to listen to him vent about his frustrations with life, kids, work, finances, and the other million things he’s carrying day to day for our family without judgment and without trying to “solve” his problems. I’ll admit, I struggle most with trying not to “solve” and just listening probably more than anything else in our relationship.

That’s where God has to remind me day after day to show my husband I can simply listen, and God has to grant me a lot of grace and mercy because I fail at this task regularly. 

I used to rely solely on my husband to meet my emotional needs, and when he failed because he was a human, I was crushed and left unsatisfied. It was only when I turned to God to meet my emotional needs that I found a joy that I never knew existed within the contexts of my marriage. Because I rely on God’s ability to fill me with joy, when my husband is human and makes mistakes, I can still love him, forgive him, have a passion for him, and find happiness in him.

It was only when I turned to God to meet my emotional needs that I found a joy that I never knew existed within the contexts of my marriage. Click To Tweet

In recent years, David and I have become best friends. We don’t have the perfect marriage. We still fight. We handle the difficulties of him being bipolar daily. I fail to be the kind of wife and mother God has called me to be at least once a day…okay, it’s probably more like ten times a day.

Even still, by the grace of God, our marriage is wholly satisfying and filled with a joy that neither of us thought we could experience.

I always hold onto Romans 8:16-17, “The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

We learned (often times through trial and error) how to be each other’s spouse, best friend, partner, lover, and warrior. I wouldn’t wish for anyone to battle a mental disability. However, I know that because of my husband’s daily ability to be an amazing husband and father in spite of his mental health challenges, he has learned how to show compassion to me and our daughters in depths I don’t possess. He picks up the slack when I’m failing (especially in my third trimester of pregnancy with our third daughter), and he has an uncanny ability to get things done despite overwhelming obstacles. A bipolar diagnosis has taught us to rely on Christ in ways we could’ve never imagined, thus leading us to our best marriage ever. 


As Rachel so eloquently shares the struggles in life are really real, but SO IS OUR GOD, and He is always there to see us through! I am so excited to share The Struggle is Real: But So is God Bible Study is now available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon and launches May 7, 2019.

The Struggle Is Real, But So Is God is a 6-week journey through the Bible that will:

  • Equip you with empowering wisdom.
  • Help you grow spiritually by claiming God’s promises as your own.
  • Teach you how to declare scripture over yourself to strengthen your inner being.
  • Show you how to conquer challenges by activating God’s Word in your life. 

Pre-order your copy today The Struggle is Real: But So is God.

Much Love,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Misty Phillip

Dear Wife

Dear Wife

One of the places I encourage women in addition to my blog, speaking or podcast is through my writing at A Wife Like Me. A Wife like me exists to create thriving marriages by providing life-changing biblical truths and tools to wives. We have a fantastic team of contributors, the A Wife Like Me team who has come together to provide a resource for wives to grow closer to Jesus, and their husbands through our first book, Dear Wife.

I recently got a chance to read the proof of our book, Dear Wife: 10 Minute Invitations to Practice Connection with Your Husband devotional book this week and I bawled HAPPY TEARS! It is so beautiful and life-giving!!! This week on By His Grace Podcast I sat down with Amanda Davison The Founder of A Wife Like Me, and fellow contributor Natalia Drumm. We talked about the struggles of connection and communication in marriage, and the heart behind the Dear Wife book.                            

I would LOVE for you to join us as we release this beautiful offering into the world. We have a fantastic team of contributors at A Wife Like Me team who have come together to provide a resource for wives to grow closer to Jesus, and their husbands through our first book, Dear Wife. Dear Wife contains 26 invitations, with ten minutes of practices, to grow in your connection with your husband. Two of the invitations in the book I wrote and collaborated with the talented contributors who are accomplished authors, speakers, and Christian leaders. These wive’s love the Lord, and have walked through fire in their marriages and have lived to tell about it. Each invitation includes scripture from the life of Jesus, a message, and thought-provoking reflection questions.

The A Wife Like Me team has poured so much prayer, energy, and love into these pages!

                                                       

Do you wish you had more alone time with your husband? Do you find yourself going through the day-to-day busy routine of life while your marriage is on cruise control, without intentional time together spent connecting? Do you desire deeper intimacy and love with your husband?

Dear Wife Book

Being married is great, but being married and feeling intimately connected is what every wife desires. Dear Wife provides you with twenty-six heart-changing invitations to discover how Christ desires connection with you and how through connection with Christ, you’ll develop a deeper connection with your husband.

In this book, you will:

  • Replace boring and busy with building deep intimacy and love

  • Swap ongoing complacency with intentional connection

  • Spend guided alone time with your husband and God

  • Experience more depth in your marriage relationship

  • Restore and build connection with God and with your husband

Dear Wife is available for pre-order now and launches May 1, 2019.

Much Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

Misty Phillip

Daughters of Dementia

Daughters of Dementia

It is difficult for someone to understand the complexities that accompany being the caregiver of someone with an illness or special needs unless they have walked a mile in your shoes. My guest today Lauren Flake has not only found a purpose for her pain but has joined forces with a friend to make a difference in the lives of others.

Lauren Flake and I had a great conversation on the By His Grace episode 16 Lauren Flake: Dealing with Dementia. Please welcome Lauren Flake to the blog today.


Daughters of Dementia

by Lauren Flake

I met my friend Shana face-to-face for the first time over enchiladas and margaritas. We were born and raised in Austin and San Antonio respectively, after all. We had far more in common than our Central Texas roots though. First and foremost, we had both reluctantly earned the title of “daughter of dementia” in our early twenties.

That night, we talked, through many tears and a few laughs, about our mothers’ battles with early onset dementia. We lamented being helpless to stop their decline and being devastated by their worsening symptoms. And we compared the handful of humorous moments we experienced as well.

If you can't laugh at the situation every once in a while, you may not survive caregiving. Click To Tweet

Shana’s mother passed away a few months before, in the final stages of Lewy Body dementia, which mimics the symptoms of both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. My mother, on the other hand, was still in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s. Her journey towards the end was just beginning.

In our first meeting, Shana and I discovered so many similarities in our moms’ and our stories. Both of our mothers had been writers, for example. Her mom was a journalist; mine worked in public relations and was a high school English teacher. Shana and I were both writers active in state politics and living in Austin when we met. Most importantly, we both took on the critical role of power of attorney and primary contact for our mothers following their difficult-to-navigate diagnoses at the start of our careers.

After seeing a local news story featuring my family and reaching out to the reporter for my contact information, Shana became the mentor I needed most in that moment. I know now that God brought Shana into my life at the exact right time to show me that I could and would survive this heartache. She gave me hope when I had almost none left.

Shana told me honestly, without any sugar coating, what I could probably expect in my mother’s remaining years. She offered me a shoulder to cry on despite her own unbearable grief. She made sure I knew it was okay to be angry and scared. Shana used her traumatic loss as a chance to offer me healing through our connection. For removing the isolation I felt before meeting her, I am forever grateful.

She ended up moving out of state and then all over the place for work a few years later, but Shana and I still keep in touch. Her friendship is the inspiration behind Daughters of Dementia, our growing online community connecting women caring for family members diagnosed with any form of dementia. Our ultimate goal is to match current with surviving caregivers for friendships and mentorships like ours that began by sharing Tex-Mex over a decade ago.

We want to use our painful losses to help other women in similar situations find their footing again. We want to show other caregivers that through our suffering, we persevered and came out stronger on the other side.

We want to use our painful losses to help other women in similar situations find their footing again. We want to show other caregivers that through our suffering, we persevered and came out stronger on the other side. Click To Tweet

We want women to know that they are never alone in their grief and sadness. Our loving, righteous God sees and feels their hurt, and so do we. He counts every tear they shed and redeems every heartache they experience. And in his great love, he gives us one another to lean on through the pain:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! ” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 ESV)


Lauren Flake is a writer, artist, wife, girl mom, and Alzheimer’s daughter near Austin, Texas. She is the author of two award-winning children’s books for grieving preschoolers, Where Did My Sweet Grandma Go? and Where Did My Sweet Grandpa Go?; the co-founder of Daughters of Dementia; and the editor of Love of Dixie magazine for Texas women. Find Lauren at LaurenFlake.com and on Facebook and Instagram at @loveofdixie.


The By His Grace podcast is now reaching people across the globe! Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. Please continue to share meaningful episodes with friends and family because you never know who is suffering and needs encouragement.

Much Love,

Misty Phillip

The Next Right Thing

The Next Right Thing

I LOVE championing other authors! It is a privilege for me to share some of my favorite authors and their new books with you! Writing is hard y’all and it takes lots of time, energy and resources to create something worth reading. I am especially thrilled to share this book with YOU!! So, in case you’ve been living under a rock and you don’t know who Emily P Freeman is or you haven’t heard about The Next Right Thing book consider this your public service announcement.

The Next Right Thing Podcast

I began listening to The Next Right Thing podcast when it came out, and it could not have come at a better time. My life is in the midst of a season of transition. My eldest son recently got married, my youngest son graduates from high school next year, and I am launching into a new career after homeschooling my boys for the past 20 years.

Any time anyone asks me what podcast I recommend The Next thing is always at the top of my list. I have a dear friend who always used to recommend books and she would say, ”You have to read this book. It will change your life! Well, this podcast was a life changer for me and now it’s become a book!

The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions

The Next Right Thing podcast has been the calm to my chaos for this crazy busy homeschool boy mama who also speaks, writes, teaches, podcasts and leads! Emily P Freeman has a calm soothing podcast voice that speaks the truth in love. The contemplative thoughts and words Emily shares with me every Tuesday morning as I shuttle my youngest son to math class fuels my week.

The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions is a nice refreshing sip of ice cold sweet tea on a hot summer day for your soul! Click To Tweet

The book includes 24 chapters that will help guide you to make space to help with decisions. Some of my favorites include Be Where You Are, Stop Collecting Gurus and Wear Better Pants. But seriously y’all it is all SO GOOD each chapter oozes peace and wisdom. For example one of my favorite quotes from the book is “The decision is rarely the point. The point is you becoming more fully yourself in the presence of God”. Sometimes we worry that we will make the wrong decision and we will somehow miss out. This quote is super reassuring “God won’t let you miss your own future.”

The Next Right Thing book includes a practice and a prayer at the end of each chapter. This beautiful prayer is taken from the chapter Don’t Give Your Critic Words.

Prayer

“As we consider the decisions that weigh heavy on our minds, we don’t want to give our critic words.

Keep us in our stillness.

Quiet us in our presence.

Remind us of your love.

Replace the words of the critic with your words of peace.

As we lean our ear toward your heartbeat, allow our voices to rise up in your presence.

Then be our courage as simply do our next right thing in love.”

One of the kindest things that you can do for an author is pre-order their book and share it with your friends!! This helps with the books ratings and helps other people to find out about it. The Next Right Thing is available for pre-order now and is available everywhere books are sold on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. You will definitely want to get a copy for yourself, and maybe even one for a friend.


I received an advanced copy of The Next Right Thing because I am on the launch team for the book. A launch team helps build support around an author, and their book in advance of it being available for purchase. Speaking of launch teams I just opened the launch team for The Struggle is Real: But So Is God Bible Study and would love to have you join us! Visit The Struggle is Real Launch Team for more information.

Much Love,

 

 

 

 

 

Misty Phillip

Teens: Parenting Beyond the Rules

Teens: Parenting Beyond the Rules

When I was a young mom I thought raising toddlers was a challenge. And I’ll always remember my mother-in-law saying to me, ” Oh sweetheart, when they’re little they have little problems, and when they’re big they have big problems”.

For many people, the thought of raising teenagers is intimidating and invokes feelings of fear and trepidation. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Although I’m still in the process of raising my youngest teenage son, I have two young adult children who I have a great relationship with and they are well adjusted. Although the teenage years were far from perfect we actually like our kids and have a fantastic relationship with each one of them.

One of the major parenting philosophies we incorporated in raising our kids was making sure we had their hearts. This means not only knowing what’s going on with them but being involved in their lives. This requires knowing who their friends are and what activities they are involved in, but it also goes much deeper than that. It requires getting to their heart and knowing what is going on in their thought life and in their hearts. This means communication is key and making time to listen is critical.

These are the same principles in the new book for parents Parenting Beyond The Rules by Connie Albers.  Connie shares stories from her own parenting journey and offers practical wisdom and effective strategies that you can begin to incorporate immediately to affect change.

I believe it’s critical that we are in our kid’s world, not hovering like a helicopter mom, but being aware of what is going in their hearts and minds. When my oldest son was in high school and college we had heartfelt conversations and many that lasted late into the night. We always make ourselves available to our kids.

Two of the most important chapters in the book are Understanding their World that talks about teens and technology, phones, social media, bullying and cyberbullying, and Listen Up the art of listening to our teens, resolving conflict and other important topics.

It is vital parents are aware of the potential dangers from technology, social media, and the Internet. Click To Tweet

I especially loved page 87,  “it takes a great deal of time and effort to stay educated and help our teens be discerning. We are up against the forces of giant tech companies who spend billions of dollars to lure our kids into spending more time on their websites. But here’s the good news: Facebook or Amazon or Apple can not outwit God. Google doesn’t control the universe. God does. And he isn’t going to allow tech giant to dethrone him”!!!`

If you are interested in making an impact on the next generation then this book is for you!

If you have pre-teens and are unsure of the teenage years than this book is for you!

If you are in the war for your hearts and minds of your children this book is for you!

There is a war today for the hearts and minds of our young people and we must do battle on our knees for this generation and the ones to follow.  Parenting Beyond the Rules will equip you to parent your teens with wisdom and grace.

Be sure to grab your copy today!

 

 

 

Misty Phillip

Why We Need to Go Through Fire

Why We Need to Go Through Fire

This week I would like to welcome Ronne Rock to the blog. Ronne and I had an open honest conversation on By His Grace this week about church hurt, and loving the body of Christ. You don’t want to miss this podcast on Dealing With Church Hurt.

Ronne is a woman passionate about loving and serving her creator on the mission field of life. Today she shares why we need to go through the fire.

Please welcome Ronne Rock to the blog


Why We Need to Go Through Fire

by Ronne Rock

“I don’t get why there has to be pain. I don’t understand God’s purpose in it – it’s not fair.”

Looking back on all the prayer requests and emails and comments I’ve received when I’ve asked, “how may I pray for you right now – what’s going on in your life?” the subject that eclipses all others is pain and suffering. There are volumes of good theological discourse on why pain exists in the first place, and wonderful studies done on pain’s purpose in our bodies. What’s been churning around in my heart lately is neither.

It’s been 19 years since my mom took her last breath on this earth. And this year, there will be both the ache of her absence and the rise of fresh bravery to live my days fully in her honor.

I don’t have answers to every “why” of pain, but one of the most powerful things I’ve learned about its usefulness is the power of scorched earth.

Yes, scorched earth.   

Each time I visit LaPaz, Honduras, to spend time with the children of Niños Comúnidad, I ask if we can stop by the foundry where aluminum pots and kitchen utensils are made. We first visited one several years ago, when a local friend asked if we’d like to see a small miracle in the making. Our van wound through narrow streets for a bit, and we then parked next to a rusted corrugated metal wall. The smell of petroleum and earth was thick in the air, and waves of heat flushed our faces as we entered the yard. On the other side of the wall, men were working – all in tattered clothes and flip flops. A fire blazed in one corner of the yard to transform recycled metal into brilliant red liquid, and under a thatched roof that offered a bit of shade, the molten metal was being poured through small holes in hand-crafted molds. Bowls, plates, and large cooking pots were being made that day.

The red-hot aluminum reaches 1000 degrees before it’s poured. The laborers’ feet and hands are marked with scars – something they say is a harsh reminder of the road marked with purpose.

That first foundry in the community was started by a man who learned the art of casting pots from his grandfather. While there are factories in other parts of the world that make the same type of thing, he wanted to retain the heritage and dignity of the craft. So, he set up shop in a struggling neighborhood and made jobs available for men who desperately needed a way to earn a living.

Each item produced means a bit of money in empty pockets, and even more money can be made if the men are willing to travel. It’s difficult work, but the sense of pride in craftsmanship is evident in everyone’s faces. The work of their hands feeds their families and pays for electricity and helps start new businesses so more people can work.

Last October, friends and I visited a new foundry, located behind a small home and storefront in the same neighborhood. A growing business meant new opportunity for more men who had been trained to cast, and this new location allowed each of us to get even closer to the detailed work being done.

Metal had just been poured and large aluminum pots were cooling to the side. Two of the men looked at each other, smiled, and began a friendly competition to prepare the next casts. There was a rhythm in their well-honed labor, as they shoveled dirt into the wooden frames, packed it with their feet, trimmed it with knives, and carefully examined their work. Over and over, the process continued.

Shovel, pack, trim, examine.

Two frames would be carefully packed, and then the bowl or plate or pot would be added and packed into place with hammers, then even more carefully removed to reveal the shape to come.

We were captivated by the process, mesmerized by the joy of the workers as they had the rare chance to show off their skills. There was no vocational school or university to teach them; no, everything they had learned had come from the classroom of experience and fire and earth.

Yes, scorched earth.

You see, the dirt used by the foundry laborers to create tools used to prepare meals that feed bellies and bring life has to undergo its own transformation before it can transform molten metal. 

It has to go through fire.

The workers walk to a nearby dry riverbed and bring the soil of clay and sand. It is sifted first to remove rocks and debris, and then it is set ablaze. The fire changes the chemical composition of the soil, making it stronger, more resilient, and more malleable.

Only then can it hold its shape and cradle its creation.

The fire gives the soil greater purpose. It gives the soil life.

There’s something about fire.

In Guatemala, the volcano Fuego spews smoke and ash daily, and its lava streams threaten those who live below. It is hell-bent on destruction – and yet, life emerges. Its sister volcano, Acatenango, bears the brunt of Fuego’s fury and yet is home to some of the most robust coffee plantations in the country. Fuego’s fire is fuel for Acatenango’s strength.

Gold must melt to remove its impurities so that it becomes worthy to wear as a covenant symbol. Minerals moved through fire become glass and pottery that only then is used to pour out and serve. And you and I, moved through fire, become too. What we become depends on our response to that fire. Again, I don’t have answers to every “why” of pain, but I do pray we are unafraid to become scorched earth through its presence in our lives, and let pain become a road marked with purpose. I pray that with the ache comes the bravery.

I pray that the fire gives us greater purpose, and gives us life. Click To Tweet


Ronne Rock believes that you are hand-crafted by God for a life that is rich and vibrant and filled with stories. She travels the world to find hope and restoration in the midst of brokenness, and she invests in the lives of women to provide encouragement and wisdom for faith’s journeys. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, or on her website at RonneRock.com.

Ronne Rock

Tell stories that change stories.

writer | speaker | advocate | adventurer

Website: ronnerock.com

T/IG: @ronnerock

FB: facebook.com/RonneRockWrites


Hey friends, Got lots of exciting things going on behind the scenes. Be sure to sign up to receive the latest updates.

Much Love,

 

Misty Phillip

Can You Stop a Mom?

Can You Stop a Mom?

The long awaited day had finally arrived. It was months in the planning. Everything needed to be just right.  I spent hours searching online, for the perfect decorations, and yummy food for a couple’s bridal shower, well not a just a couples shower, but two couples showers.

I was standing in my kitchen talking to a sweet friend, who had come to share a devotional for the young couples. She was commenting on how beautiful everything was, and how wonderful the food turned out. She said,” You are amazing! I can’t believe you did all of this!”  That is when it hit me, how do you stop a mom? But we’ll come back to that in a minute.

What made my friend think I was so amazing? Well, six weeks earlier I was riding bicycles with my boys. My oldest son Jacob was training for the MS150, a 150-mile ride from Houston, Texas to Austin, Texas to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. Jacob, my youngest son, and I set out to go for a ride. As soon as we got to the trail my oldest son took off. The big ride was going to happen soon, and he needed to train.

Ian and I ambled from one park to another enjoying our ride and time together. I thought I was so clever. Attaching my phone to the front of my bike with Velcro, so that I could track my fitness, and control my music.

It was a beautiful day, and we were on a trail in the middle of the woods, that runs along a creekside. When all of a sudden around the 15-mile mark, my phone started to slip out of the Velcro, and my headphones were yanked out of my ears. I was afraid that they would get caught in the tire, and make me wreck. So without thinking, I reached for my phone with my right hand, and I squeezed the front break with my left hand, and came to a screeching halt! I was catapulted straight over the top of the handlebars, and without thinking, I put my hands out to brace my fall and snapped both of my arms.

Without thinking, I reached for my phone with my right hand, and I squeezed the front break with my left hand, I came to a screeching halt! I was catapulted straight over the top of the handlebars. I wasn’t wearing a helmet, and without thinking, I put my hands out t brace my fall, and snapped both of my arms! My left arm was nearly a compound fracture, and both my Ulna and Radius were broken. Fortunately, I only broke the Radius in my right arm, but that meant that I had two broken arms, and needed surgery to repair them. I had three plates and twenty screws inserted into my forearms.

My surgeon said it could take three months to a year for me to heal. Click To Tweet

Three months to a year? What? What did he just say?

At my follow up appointment two weeks after surgery I asked him, “How soon I can drive?” and he just laughed at me. I am a busy wife and mom. I have a husband and three boys and I am a busy homeschool mom.

I don’t have time to slow down, or stop for that matter!

If you are a mom then you know the drill. Someone is always vying for our attention, needs something, or we just run from one activity with our kids to the next. Which brings me back to that question. That question, that struck me so profound, that I couldn’t get it out of my head. As I was standing in the kitchen talking to my friend, and she was saying I can’t believe you did all of this, with two broken arms!

I simply replied, “ How do you stop a mom?”

But the fact of the matter is I did stop. I had to stop. I couldn’t brush my teeth or hair, feed myself, dress myself or bath. I couldn’t do anything for myself, or anything around the house. I couldn’t drive, grocery shop, laundry or cook for months. Besides hosting that bridal shower, I pretty much didn’t do anything else for almost a year! The one thing I could do was pray, and I spent a lot of time talking to God!

God showed me there was nothing that I needed to do for HIM, and that even in the midst of my sin, Jesus gave His life up for me. During that time He showed me how much he truly loved me, and cared for me. He ministered to my soul in ways I didn’t even know I needed. It is definitely not what I would have chosen for myself, but I wouldn’t exchange that precious time spent with the Lord.

Unexpected Events

Unexpected Events

We all face trials in life, some big ones, some small ones, and others that require a healthy dose of longsuffering. Today I welcome my friend Karen Smith to the blog. Karen has faced many difficult struggles in her life and has put her faith and trust in God to see her through her darkest days. Nothing is wasted in God’s Kingdom economy. Please welcome Karen Smith to the blog today.


Unexpected Events

By Karen Smith

Unexpected events sometimes happen in our lives.  We are caught off guard. I don’t know about you, but when unexpected events occur, I often feel that I am not emotionally prepared to handle such circumstances.  Sometimes my eyes leak tears, or sometimes my mouth spills not lovely words. Other times, I’m left speechless.

As I shared with you, I had an unexpected event that brought many tears to my eyes.  I had a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old. The diaper days were completed and the baby items sold.  Until….the unexpected pregnancy came and brought much surprise into my life. I had been sick and couldn’t seem to shake the sickness, or so I thought.   Then one evening we walked into a fast food restaurant and that all too familiar morning sickness hit my stomach with a vengeance. The stop at the store for a pregnancy test soon confirmed my suspicions–my illness wasn’t a virus; it was a baby.  Not just any baby, but an unwanted baby! What made matters worse was I had a friend that had been unsuccessful at conceiving a new baby, and now I was pregnant with one I didn’t think I wanted. The tears began to flow. For two weeks, I cried almost non stop before the realization that life would go on began to settle in.  

Unexpected events can bring sadness into our lives and cause tears to spill from our eyes. Click To Tweet

A few years ago, my husband’s health had been declining.  He had been on short term disability as he was recovering from a difficult chemo season.  He was preparing to go back to his job as a physicist. As he was getting ready for his first day back at work, he took a fall in the bathroom.  It was soon evident to me that he had a leg that would not hold any weight. A trip to the ER was in his future, and not the day at work he had planned.  It didn’t take long for us to discover he had a broken hip. This season of chemo recovery, a broken hip, and ALL three of my children came down with head lice I was not prepared for this season of unexpected events.  Yes, some tears leaked from my eyes, but more than tears were the ugly words that raged out of my mouth.

Where was God?

Was He even looking at me?

How much more did He think I could handle?

I think there were many words that I shall not repeat as well. My son stated it so eloquently one night, “Mom, I’ve heard you say more curse words in the last few weeks than I have heard you say in your entire life.”  Unexpected events can illicit undesirable actions!

A few months ago, I had a doctor insist that I attend an eating disorder treatment center.  In a week and a half, my life went from what I thought was reasonable to unraveled. It felt like I was walking in a cloud.  Everything was moving forward, but I was oblivious to its movement. The paperwork, the medical tests, the saying goodbye to my family, the arrival at a treatment center were all a blur.  Even though I was the primary participant in all these events, it did not seem real. Two weeks into treatment, I begin to start to feel again. I remember scratching my head thinking how in the world did I get here?  How did I agree to this? Unexpected events can paralyze us and make us a spectator to our own life.

We all have stories.  Every single one of you could take different situations and plug them into mine.  Unexpected events that have left you with tears or questions and not lovely words or situations that have caused you to be a spectator to your own life.  

Your stories are different, but the result is the same.

The more experience I have, the more I am learning to do three things that help me walk through unexpected events better.  When I can remember to do these three things, it allows me to have a much different response to unexpected events.

  1. Remember God’s faithfulness in the past.  When circumstances steal my joy, recalling the times in my life that God has been present and carried me through help bring a calm assurance into my heart.  It brings confidence that God hasn’t left me in the past and He will not leave me in the future. Our God is steadfast in love and faithfulness. Psalms 86:15 states,  “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

 

  1. Sing loudly.  Go ahead and laugh now, but I mean it.  Sing His praises. My God is a big God and is worthy of praise.  No unexpected event is bigger than God! So go ahead and sing loudly about our awesome God.  For real, He determines the number of stars and gives them a name so He surely can handle my unexpected storm. “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.”  Psalm 147:4-5

 

  1. Hold hands with a friend.  This number three is harder for me than number one and two.  I am a do it by yourself kind of girl. I like to hold my struggles close, not allowing others to enter into my world.  However, Scripture says in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burden and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Allowing others to enter our world encourages us to keep going.  Allowing others to hold our hands gives us the security to face unexpected events. Hold hands with a friend, let a friend bear your burden.

 

When unexpected events come raging into your life, I challenge you to remember to claim God’s faithfulness, sing loud and hold hands with a friend.  These three things will surely help you navigate the next unexpected season.


 

Karen lives in Huntsville, Alabama with her husband and three (20, 18 and 9-year-old) children.  She has served as Preschool and Children’s Minister and Women’s Ministry Leader.  When her older children were younger she directed a MOPS group.  She has also taught 2nd grade at Freedom Project Academy.  

Currently, she homeschools her youngest as well as caregiving to her husband.  Karen’s husband suffers from a debilitating disease known as Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Karen loves to minister to women in crisis.  She spends many hours in hospitals alongside those who need to know they are seen and loved. Karen speaks at Women’s Conferences and has a passion to help women learn to connect with one another.  She has come to understand that much of aloneness in life is not someone else’s fault, rather it’s each’s own inability to receive.  She also teaches women that in their brokenness, they are not disqualified from serving God and others.  In fact, in the middle of brokenness she teaches women the secrets of what she has learned in order that they may live life with more love, grace, and gratitude in the middle of brokenness.

Karen regularly shares glimpses of their faith and struggles with others, via her blog.  She has encountered what it means to be stripped of everything that seems normal to her all the way down to what she puts in her mouth.  But after being stripped down, she sees how God is using some of the darkest places in her life to comfort others in their darkest moments!  

Karen blogs at www.glimpsesoffaithandstruggles.com

You can find Karen online:

https://www.facebook.com/glimpsesoffaithandstruggles8694/

https://twitter.com/kksmith8694

https://www.instagram.com/kksmith8694/


 

Unexpected things may take us by surprise by God is never caught off guard. He has a plan for our lives, and it is a good one. We can trust him with the unexpected events in our lives. I sure enjoyed this post by Karen Smith today, and I hope you did too!

I have some exciting news to share with you today!

Karen Smith and I are both contributors to a ministry called A Wife Like Me  We wrote a book to address the need for wives wanting to grow deeper in connection with their husbands. The book is called Dear Wife and it comes out May 1st, but is available now for pre-order on Amazon at Dear Wife Book.

Dear Wife provides you with twenty-six heart changing invitations to discover how Christ desires connection with you and how through connection with Christ, you’ll develop a deeper connection with your husband. In this book, you will: Replace boring and busy with building deep intimacy and love, Swap ongoing complacency with an intentional connection, Spend guided alone time with your husband and God, Experience more depth in your marriage relationship, Restore and build a connection with God and with your husband. For more information visit Dear Wife Book.

Thanks so much for joining us here today! Remember, you are never alone in your struggle, and God is always there to see you through!

Much Love,

 

 

Misty Phillip

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