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Mamas Thriving Together is here!

Mamas Thriving Together is an online group coaching community designed to help mamas build a life that is exciting, meaningful, and true to who they are.

Click this link to check it out!!

Registration closes Monday, August 21 at 11:59 pm ET. Click this link to sign up now!

What Is God Nudging You Towards?

Hey there! I’m shaking things up a bit this week with a video post! In it, I discuss the Holy Spirit’s promptings in my life and how He might be whispering to you.

What might God be nudging you towards? What is the Holy Spirit whispering in your ear? Share in the comment section below!

How Might God Be Able to Use Your Story?

You have a story to share that can change lives.

In last week’s post, I talked about how God has worked in amazing ways to redeem a recent storm in my life.

As I’ve shared the story of my struggle with depression, I have touched lives in ways I never imagined. People have commented how thankful they are that I opened up and shared my story.

I have a question for you.

How might God be able to use your story?

Who, me? What story? How could God possibly use me?

Yes, you. We all have a story to share. We all have gone through something that someone else has gone through or is going through right this very moment.

So why aren’t we all sharing?

Maybe we’re embarrassed. It’s scary to be so open and vulnerable. But God can use your story in amazing ways if you allow Him to.

Open your heart to the lessons He can teach you. Open your mind to the potential you have to change lives with your story.

Want to share your story? I’ll be featuring testimonies in upcoming posts. Your story can be anonymous if you’d like. Click this link to contact me. Remember—big or small, you have a story to share. Don’t discredit what God can do in you and through you.

How God Redeemed My Storm

“At any given point, we are coming from a storm, in the middle of one, or headed towards one.”

Kind of a downer, right? But it’s true. None of us makes it through this life unscathed. Mind you, our storms can range from a raging hurricane to a slight drizzle. But there will always be storms. The wonderful thing is, the time in between storms can be incredibly beautiful.

Last week’s post was a joy to write. I loved looking back at the memories of our birth experience with our son. That was one of those beautiful times in between storms. And things stayed beautiful for a while. I recovered well, Charles was thriving, breastfeeding was going well, Margaret was an amazing big sister, and each day my husband became even more of an incredible husband and dad.

Now, before you continue reading, please watch this short (74 second) video.

Ok, now that you’ve watched the video, (you did watch it, right?) here’s my story:

A few months after I had Charles, a storm started rolling in. It was subtle at first. I started noticing some of my symptoms of depression creeping up. I discussed my concerns with my therapist. We went straight to the plan of action we had outline a year prior when I came off my antidepressant medications shortly before I got pregnant with Charles. I shared what was going on with a few family members and close friends. Jeremy was extremely supportive as I started on the non-medicinal route to healing.

But the storm grew stronger. And stronger. No matter what I did or how much I prayed, the clouds grew darker and darker.

I started losing sleep. It got to the point I was getting maybe 3 hours of sleep each night. And when I don’t sleep, my depression worsens. And when my depression worsens, I lose more and more sleep. I began to spiral downward even more quickly.

I woke up on Sunday morning, November 13, 2016 and realized it was time to call my doctor. I desperately didn’t want to go back on medications because of the likelihood that I would have to wean my son, but I needed to take care of my mental health.

My doctor prescribed the medications I had used in the past. I began researching furiously to find out if I could continue breastfeeding on these medications. After countless internet searches and phone calls to my lactation consultant, a research center, my psychiatrist, and our pediatrician, I finally decided I needed to begin weaning Charles. Unfortunately, I had gotten too sick and the decision to wean was the tipping point.

As Jeremy and I were out walking with the kids on Thursday, November 17, I began to panic. I told Jeremy I didn’t feel safe. I feared I would hurt myself or hurt our children. The thought terrified me and terrified Jeremy. After consulting with a therapist my mom knew, we chose to call 911 and have me transported to the ER.

After speaking with a social worker, I was transferred to a behavioral health unit. I spent 3 days in the hospital and was discharged on Monday, November 21. My family decided it was best that I stay at my parents’ house while I recovered.

I began an outpatient day treatment program at a local hospital on Friday, December 2 and continued in that program for 2 weeks.

I missed a lot during that time. I missed my family’s Thanksgiving celebration. I was barely present for my daughter’s 3rd birthday party. Christmas was a struggle. I had essentially dropped off the face of the earth when it came to my relationships, including my relationship with God. I hadn’t even touched my business since I went in the hospital.

I moved back home the first week of January. It was a difficult transition. It took me a couple months to get back into the groove of things, and I still had a lot of pain to work through.

I wrote a blog post on Thursday, January 5, 2017 explaining I had been dealing with some health issues. I did not, however, discuss what those health issues were. I wasn’t ready.

On January 6 I emailed the lead for our church’s moms group and inquired about speaking that semester. I had no intention of speaking about what I had just gone through, but the leader asked me to. I agreed, and on March 28 of 2017, I “went public” with my recent battle with depression. A few weeks later I posted a video on my website using the audio from that speech. You can watch that video by clicking here.

It was a heck of a storm. The hospital stay…weaning my son…mastitis (ugh)…figuring out medication dosages…attending a treatment program…being away from my family…learning how to live life again…

But you know what, God has brought so much out of that storm. He’s given me strength and wisdom. I got feedback from several moms in my church group that my speech was very powerful for them. I was able to connect moms to local and national mental health resources.  Several people have commented on how powerful the video on my website was for them.

I’ve been asked to participate in a photo shoot for an up and coming non-profit called the StrongHer Movement. The StrongHER movement is passionate about empowering women in their real relationships with God every day. The movement encourages and equips women with relatable and user-friendly tools and testimonies to inspire confidence and to create warriors for Christ. I’ve been asked to share my testimony during the lunch break that day.

I’ve allowed myself to become even more vulnerable and transparent in sharing my story. I’m connecting with and encouraging others in ways I never expected. God has taught me that he truly can redeem awful, awful experiences.

Am I thankful for my experience with depression that winter of 2016? I’m not sure I would go that far. But gosh am I thankful for the way God has used, is using, and will continue to use it.

Things are going pretty great right now. My family is doing well. I’m healing and growing every day. I’m loving my work, building relationships, and pouring into others. I once again am doing life with my friends, family, and church family, and it’s amazing.

I still have little storms here and there. We all do, even when we’re in a fruitful season. But I’m enjoying this season as much as I can. And I know that when the next big storm hits, God’s got me.

I’m reminded of what Bob Beaudine discusses in his New York Times Best Seller 2 Chairs:

1. Does God know your situation? YES.
2. Is it too hard for Him to handle? NO.
3. Does He have a good plan for you? YES.

If you’re in the middle of a storm, know this: God knows your storm. It is not too hard for Him to handle. He has a good plan for you. Open your heart to the opportunity to learn and grow from this storm. It’s hard to see in the midst of it, but God truly does have a good plan for you. If you allow Him to, God will bring good from your storm. He did for me, and He can for you.

Think back to a storm in your life. How might God have been using that storm to grow you? What good followed that storm? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

P.S. I’ve got a bonus for you! Click this link to get a FREE copy of my guide “Weathering the Storms of Motherhood: What we can learn from life’s challenges if we open our hearts to the good that can follow.”

Looking Back at Our Birth, 1 Year Later

It was the most empowering experience of my life.

One year ago, I achieved my goal of a natural birth with my son. At 31 weeks pregnant, God lay it on my heart to pursue natural childbirth. From that moment, my husband and I embarked on an incredible journey. We learned, we laughed, we cried, and we were in complete awe of God’s goodness.

While I had found the thought of natural childbirth overwhelming and even laughable, my mind completely changed as my husband and I began our research.

As my due date approached—and passed—my doctors became increasingly antsy. They wanted me to schedule a c-section, since I had one with my daughter. They had me schedule one, even though they knew I would cancel. Twice I canceled and rescheduled, just to appease my doctors. I couldn’t consent to a c-section when, aside from a few research statistics, I had no risk factors working against me. I couldn’t throw away my goal of a natural vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) out of fear of the “what if’s.”

I kept asking God, “Why? Why hasn’t he come yet?” When I was 40 weeks and 5 days, God revealed to me that He had a plan for the time while I was waiting.

At my 41 week appointment, the OB we saw offered another option besides a c-section—an option no one had mentioned before: a low-dose Pitocin induction.

That Thursday, June 30, 2016, We did it. We got our natural VBAC.

One of the greatest lessons I learned from that experience was the importance of a positive mindset. It’s amazing the power our minds have over how we experience events in our lives and how we respond to challenges and stressors.

A few weeks later, I began a series of blog posts sharing our journey. The pictures of us you see in these posts were taken by our incredible photographer, Amy Oliver, who showed us the true beauty of birth photography.

Click here to read “Our Journey Towards Getting the Birth We Wanted, Part 1: The Surprising Benefits of Natural Childbirth.”

Click here to read “Our Journey Towards Getting the Birth We Wanted, Part 2: The Hardest Discussions We’ve Ever Had.”

Click here to read “Our Journey Towards Getting the Birth We Wanted, Part 3: Jump-Starting My Labor.”

Click here to read “Our Journey Towards Getting the Birth We Wanted, Part 4: ‘Baby Out My Butt.'”

I am so grateful for the people who supported me in that journey.

Jeremy—Thank you for going with my crazy idea of natural birth and for trusting in God’s plan for us. Thank you for your support and for staying right beside me every step of the way.

Anna—Thank you for planting the seed (even though you didn’t know it) that would eventually grow into me listening to God’s nudge to pursue natural childbirth.

Ashley—Thank you for encouraging me and sharing your wisdom with me. Without you, I wouldn’t have changed the trajectory of my decisions regarding the labor and delivery of sweet Charles.

Brandy—Thank you for filling us with as much knowledge as you could in 4 weeks as we prepared for our birth. Thank you for encouraging me to advocate for myself and to stand firm in my beliefs and my trust in God’s perfect plan and perfect timing.

Jocelyn—Thank you for being the most incredible doula we could have asked for. You provided exactly what we needed and were such a calming and reassuring presence during our labor.

Amy—Thank you for capturing those precious moments. We will forever treasure the invaluable gift you gave us. You took more than pictures—you captured memories that we will forever be able to relive.

Thank you to everyone who prayed for, encouraged, and loved on us as we prepared for our birth and the days following. We are eternally grateful.

Thank you to everyone reading for being a treasured part of my journey of motherhood. I love you all.