Chapter 1: For the New Mama: Infertility, Epidurals and Boobs
My road to motherhood wasn't an easy one. It was filled with disappointment, struggles and a whole lot of waiting. Looking back I can see it wasn't a battle with infertility, it was a trial of faith. When I began to replace the doubts and disappointments with time in God's word, it started to transform the outlook. The struggles didn't end with the plus sign on a pregnancy test. The pressures of motherhood mounted the minute that baby started growing inside of me. Chapter one is about the journey to becoming a mama, recognizing the guilt and learning to let it go. It's about understanding that you have the freedom in Christ to write your own manual on how you will do this job and a reminder than when you have doubts and questions, the answers can always be found in the Word.
Hi, I'm Katie and I'm a perfection-aholic. I know its unattainable, I know its striving for the impossible, but I can't seem to let go of this idea that I need to be a perfect wife, a perfect mama and perfect at my job. After years of striving for other people's idea of perfection, I've decided I will not change. Setting goals and working to achieve them to the best of my ability is who God created me to be. But what I can do to give my soul a break is redefine perfection to a set of standards that is good enough for me. My own "perfect," and when it doesn't work out and I come up tired or exhausted, I can escape to my closet, sit in the dark and return to the fountain of living water. My mama taught me that.
You were not created to do life alone. God created us for community, fellowship and support. It's taken years to build my village, but a day or a week wouldn't be possible without at least the prayerful support of my village. It's like a bullseye with a core and outer rings and each layer is meant to meet a specific need in your heart and life. If you don't have your village I will show you how to build one. A village helps you find beauty in the ashes, helps you put all the pieces back together when you face loss or disappointment and points you to the the One who can be the true satisfaction for your weary, thirsty, worn out soul. Your village is the pilot light for your soul when you think there is nothing but darkness.
Chapter 4: The Other Camp, Us vs. Them
The stay-at-home mama is not the enemy. We may not speak the same code when it comes to parenting or survival techniques, we may not understand when they complain about a long day and exhaustion, but that is because we don't take the time to understand them. We don't talk about our differences in a way that is covered in love and grace. We don't treat them as our equal. Its not because we are bad or mean, its because we feel judged. We feel the comparison. We feel the glares when we are the ones dressed in suits at school drop off, when we can't volunteer for field trips. We feel like they disagree with our choice to go to work, like they believe we have made the wrong one. Is this reality? Who knows! Sure there are some people who make cruel assumptions and statements in their own insecurities, but chances are these judgements are perceived. Maybe they even tie back to your own guilt. Let's tackle this! Let's drop the guilt, know our own convictions, understand theirs, let's take time to listen, befriend them and most of all let's not compare us to them.
Chapter 5: Parenting Takes Bucks, Bribes and Surrender
Let's be honest, mommin' aint easy. Sometimes the behavior of our children is less sweet angel baby that you birthed and more in line with a wild animal. In the trenches of work and motherhood sometimes we think we are taking the easy way out by choosing our battles, ignoring so many things until we just snap. We lose our cool, we yell, they cry, we cry and it fixes things for a moment until the next time. We lived this crazy cycle for far too long, until realizing that God had a better way. Taking time to learn what motivates our kids, incentivizing their positive behavior and reaching them at each stage of their childhood with the right type of guidance and instruction has made a radical difference in the tone of our home. We still have crazy cycle moments, and sometimes I still cry away my guilt and parenting failures on the floor of my closet, but I've tasted and seen the difference and my soul longs for more of that.
Chapter 6: Shifting the focus from self to soul
We are being led astray daily and are being served up empty promises this world has to offer. They leave us feeling like we are short changed, letting us believe that we are owed something. Its a breeding ground for guilt because it is in stark contrast to what a spirit-filled soul longs for. We are being told lies that do so much damage to who we are as individuals and as a collective group of women. If you want to stop your guilt once and for all, guard your heart. Stop listening to the lies and ground yourself in some truth. How do you know if it's the truth? Check it with the Word and the Spirit that dwells within you. You know when something doesn't sit right with your soul, when it goes against the grain of who you are and who God is calling you to be. For instance, when I hear the term "self-care," I cringe from head to toe. Not because taking care of yourself isn't important but because we need to check in with the motive. Replace the concept of self-care with some soul-care its lasting.
Chapter 7: That Time I Was Fat
Let's just agree to laugh a little. I'm not saying that a size 12 was "fat", I know enough about my creator to not offend him by picking at his masterpiece. So we are using the term loosely and in jest, and this isn't even a chapter about weight loss. It's about the hard-hitting truth that you cannot have it all. If you want the thriving career, something will suffer. If you want to put your kids first and job second, there's a sacrifice to be made. You cannot have "it all" and be "it all" to everyone at the same time. But what you can have is an understanding of your priorities, and get in touch with who God made you to be. You can work, you can mother, you can wife, you can serve others. You may even find financial success along the way. But you will always be choosing what is important to you, making a sacrifice and adjusting your expectations. We just need to keep it real.
Chapter 8: Like a Boss, Transforming your approach
The Bible has a lot to say about work, and talks a lot about your boss. It also has a lot to say about the employee. Chances are you will go through life and have a boss for most of it and the only person standing in your way to the next raise or promotion is that boss. Whether you love them, hate them or secretly wish they would just disappear... you've got to live with it. Right? Or maybe you could actually do something about it. First, you invite God into it through prayer. Second, you decide that resting in the misery of your current work situation is not enough for you and you start winning over your boss. Even if you think you have the absolute worst boss, you can at least try. I had four different bosses in the course of three years. Trust me, I know a thing or two about having to prove yourself. Oh, and by the way, how you dress does matter!
Chapter 9: Money Myths and Matters of the Heart
Money is not a dirty word, yet we often don't talk about it, especially in the christian community. We shy away from the topic until we have money problems. We aren't sure if it's ok to dream big, set financial goals or allow money into the equation of what motivates us in our workplace and vision for our career. But God talks about money. It appears somewhere between 110-120 times in the Bible. And its not all bad and judging. God's word is clear about how He wants you treat money, you cannot love it and Him. But He wants to be part of the discussion. He does not call us all to a life of poverty for poverty sake. If you have been given much, He has big plans for it. If you have been given little, can you praise Him in the drought? Can we all give it up and follow Him? It's a tough question. Let's answer it together.
Chapter 10: Let's Get Real
I don't want to tell you what chapter 10 is about because I want you to get there and feel all the rawness and emotion of the season God allowed me to walk through as a working mama. I think you will be able to relate, I think you will be able to feel every doubt, every confusion and see all the areas where a total and complete surrender and reliance on the Lord for "what's next" is the only option. So there's no summary, there's no teaser details. Chapter 10 is where I pour it all out for you. It's how I leave you... until the next story that God is still writing.
I had to give a little love to the single mama, the one who does this whole thing alone. While I cannot personally relate to the struggle in my own life, I have been surrounded by enough hard working, single mamas to know that their journey isn't easy. The greatest picture I have witnessed of the selfless love like this is that of my mother-in-law, Vicki. At 15 years old I was welcomed into their family and had the privilege of watching her juggle it all. So this one's for you, the single mama!
There is no application for the bonus chapter.
Simply reading something doesn't have an impact unless you can apply it to your life. We are taking this journey together because we long for freedom from guilt and a pathway to a soul set on fire. For a brief summary of each chapter and a preview of the application, click on the photo below. You can take this application section one step further and apply it to a book club in your office break room or a Bible study.