The Risk of Motherhood

Risk-taking looks different for all of us, doesn't us? For some, jumping out of an airplane would seem like a huge risk while for others it's considered adventurous and exhilarating. For some, meeting a new friend for coffee feels like a risk, while for others it's exciting and comes naturally. Whether we're talking extreme sports, traveling the world, giving a speech, or taking a relational plunge, I believe risk-taking is all relative to the one taking the risk. 

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the IF: Gathering in Austin, TX. It was a great weekend for so many reasons. It was my first time to Austin (which turns out to be a very cool city), it was MUCH warmer than the frigid Chicagoland climate I'm used to, and I was able to enjoy some alone time out of my normal day-to-day routine. The speakers were top notch and I met many women who shared similar passions and desires for God to move in their hearts as well as in the hearts of the people they do life with in their communities. The seating at the conference was a little different than most conferences I've been to in that rather than "stadium style" seating, we were all sat at long farm tables which sat 40-50 women each. We were facing each other. People we didn't know. And there were questions laid out of the table. I can imagine that for some of the women who attended the IF:Gathering, just getting there was a risk. The thought of opening up your heart in whatever condition it might be in, to a bunch of women you've never met, can be scary.

There were times through out the weekend where we were to discuss some of the questions laid out at our tables. We grouped into fours or fives and dove head first into some raw, heart-revealing conversation with complete strangers. One of the questions asked that weekend hit me a little more than all the others. The question was this:

"What is one area of your life where you feel like God is asking you to risk?"

As the ladies around me started to answer I knew that my response probably wasn't going to be like theirs. Most said things like, "reaching out to my neighbors who don't know Jesus", or "getting to a place where I can say "God I'll go anywhere you want me to go". Some were afraid that if they loosened the grip of control they had on their own lives, God might tell them to move to a mud hut in Africa. 

For many of us we feel like in order to truly live a life of risk means our loving father is going to ask us to do the very thing we are terrified to do, and we have no choice but to say yes. And maybe sometimes that's the case. We often learn and grow the most when we are in a situation where we feel the least equipped or qualified. (Because it forces God to be in charge. And He's really good at that.) But risk doesn't always look like that. Sometimes it looks like the mundane, the day-to-day, the things that challenge us to persevere and test our level of faithfulness. A difficult friendship, a messy marriage, a wandering child, a role in which we don't experience meaning or purpose, those too can be times where God can ask us to step into risk. And often the risk is to just keep going. To keep loving. To keep obeying. Even though there may be pain and heartache ahead. 

The "big" risks tend to be easy for me. If God wanted my family to move to some third world country, I'd say "Let's Go!". Those are the kinds of things I dream about. Just ask my husband. It's not hard for me to say "God, I'll go where you send me." (Unless of course it some not-so-desirable place like Nebraska or Montana in which case God and I would have to sit down for a chat.) 

The risk I struggle with is the RISK OF MOTHERHOOD. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being a mom and I LOVE my son and daughter more than I could've ever imagined I could love someone but I didn't grow up as a little girl dreaming to one day be a mother. I'm not naturally a nurturer and I often feel like the mom role doesn't fit me so well. I learned this in a painful way when my husband and I had a foster child live with us for about three months. It was a disaster. And mostly because of me.

The risks of motherhood for me are many. Being intentional, being present, being consistent, being selfless, embracing my weaknesses, asking for help, being physically run down, showing Jesus to my kids, and giving grace to those around me. 

I think anytime we feel like we might fail at something, that's when it becomes a risk. If the idea of failure isn't in sight, then it's probably not a risk. 

So there I sat at the IF: Gathering with my new friends and I knew that Motherhood was the area in which God was asking me to risk. Because I feel so inadequate and ill-equipped and because so often failure seems to be too close in view. But when it does I remind myself that Grace is bigger and jumping into the risk of motherhood just might be one of the most rewarding risks of all. 

I want to risk. Risk to love my kids well. Risk to show them Jesus. And risk to let Grace be bigger than the fear of failure. Here we go.

3 reasons why I love going to conferences

Some would say I'm a bit of a conference junkie. I'd prefer not to be called that because, well, it makes me sound like a junkie but I did go to a handful of conferences last year. Going to a conference, whether it's an all weekend thing or just a one-day event, always refreshes me in a variety of ways. Here's what I mean...

  • It's AWAY time. Away from my normal routine, away from my family (whom I love very much of course), and maybe even away from my city. I love to travel so being in a new place is exciting and inspiring for me. If I get to drive rather than fly, that's even better. Getting out of my normal environment even just for a day or two can do good things for my soul. I come back refreshed and in a healthier place to love my family. 
  • It's GOD time. I often go to conferences alone, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not. Being by myself for a couple of days allows me to hear God in a different way than I normally would in my every day routine. I often do a lot of crying if I go alone and not the sad kind of crying, more like the cleansing kind of crying. 
  • It's LEARNING time. There are a handful of female authors/speakers that I have loads of respect for and I cherish any time I get to sit under their teaching and learn. Enough said. 
Here are the conferences I hit in 2013:

January - Crowns Conference // Marion, IL
February - The Justice Conference // Phildelphia, PA
August - Women of Faith // Peoria, IL
September - Revive Our Hearts // Schaumburg, IL
September - The Influence Conference // Indianapolis, IN

2013 was an abnormal conference going year for me. I don't usually hit that many conferences in a year but all of them were great and I came away with lots of new insight and many new friendships. 

There's only a couple on the schedule for 2014 so far and it'll probably stay that way since I'll be having a baby in June and my husband and I are planting a church in August. But I'm super excited to be attending:

The IF: Gathering in Austin, TX this month and probably The Influence Conference in Indianapolis, IN again in September. A couple local things might pop up through out the year so we'll keep an open mind to those:) 

Do you have a favorite conference? Are there any that you're planning on going to this year? 

She Does Justice

Happy Monday friends. And more importantly... happy Martin Luther King Jr. day. What a man he was. Today I'm grateful for the things he stood for, the things he fought for, and the lives that have been affected because of his deep, deep convictions.
I wanted to give a quick shout-out to one of my favorite blogger friends, Megan from She Does Justice. Megan is a blogger and a handmade shop owner and I just recently purchased a few of her handmade women's turbans. They sell for $16 and they come in all sorts of fun designs. Check out her shop and you'll see what I mean. One of the things I love most about Megan's online space is that she gives 10% of all her shop sales to a different compassion + justice organization each month. She cares about those who need a voice and she's making a difference in a lot of lives.

Want to support a cool product and an even better cause? Go check out the She Does Justice Shop.

Hello 2014.

I've tried to start this blog post many a times but I've been having a hard time figuring out what I really wanted to say. A part of me wants to talk about 2013, but it was a rough year and a year full of much change and the other part of me wants to just put it to rest and look ahead to 2014. So that's what I'm going to do. I'm certainly not choosing to ignore the hardships of 2013 because they taught me much about life and much about myself but I'm ready for a new year and a clean slate. Are you?

I've got a few goals for 2014 that I hope will make it a year filled with more intention, more growth, and more adventure. So here it goes...

1) Read more. I'm not a voracious reader and I never really have been. But I want to be. So in my home, more reading will have to equal less t.v. time. Our cable contract ends at the end of January and instead of renewing it we're just going to let it expire. We have an Apple TV and use that to watch shows and movies on Netflix so we won't be completely be cutting our t.v. input, but we will be reducing it drastically which will hopefully result in more books in our hands.

2) To be known. This one is a little less tangible in terms of the physical kind of goal but none the less, it's a goal. 2013 had some rocky moments for me spiritually and I ended the year feeling quite distant from God and that needs to change. My desire for 2014 is to know God and to be known by Him more than ever before. I know a lot of the personal struggles I face are often magnified because of the distance I sometimes place between me and my heavenly father. I know this will never be an area I will reach perfection but I want to do my best. The good news is I know that each time I choose to walk away, God will always be standing there waiting for me to return with an abundance of grace.

3) Exercise. I'm a pretty active person by nature but pregnancy tends to put me on the couch, and not because I feel sick but because mentally I just give myself permission to be lazy because hey, I'm growing a person inside of me. This is my second pregnancy and I want to do a better job of staying active for as long as I can. I've been doing prenatal Pilates from my living room and also walking/jogging when we get to the gym. I know it will be better in the long run for me and baby #2.

Three goals is about all I can handle in this season so I'm going to put the lid on it for now. I want to share with you one of my favorite things of 2014 so far... which is the picture on the desktop of my computer.

One of my favorite bloggers Jessi, from Naptime Diaries, does a monthly bundle (downloadable prints, calendars, notecards, and desktop and iPhone wallpapers) and I just LOVE January's desktop wallpaper. Also, you can get the bundle for only $5 here.

So here's to 2014, and A FRESH START.