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The Power of Living, Loving and Telling YOUR Story {Instead of Longing for Someone Else’s}

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In obstetrical terms, I’ve been labeled as both “elderly mother” and a woman of “advanced maternal age.”

It’s why, as the 46-year-old mom of a 3 1/2 year old, I’m forever going to be a decade or two older than most of the other moms of my youngest daughter’s friends.

And I’m okay with it. I love our story!

But I wasn’t always so joyful about it. Because this is not the way I envisioned my life to go.

No daydream involved me having a baby as a 42-year-old, ten years after having my first daughter. None of my imaginings included infertility or miscarriage, heartache, or jealousy.

Before our second miracle baby was conceived, I lived in a seemingly eternal state of dashed hope. Month after month, year after year, I prayed to be growing more babies … growing them into the story I had imagined for our lives.

But the story I pictured played out in my friends’ homes, not mine.

My closest friends had not just one child (like me), but two, three, four, five, and six children! Instead of enjoying what God had given me, I spent a lot of time asking Him to quell my jealousy; and I spent a lot of time asking Him to give me what they had.

I was so embarrassingly ungrateful; I wanted their stories, not mine.

Then one day, I grew tired of organizing and reorganizing the baby, toddler, and little girl items that had gathered dust in the garage. So, after seven years, two fertility specialists, a miscarriage, and resigning myself to having a daughter growing up as an only child, I began the cathartic process of giving it all away.

Memories flashed as I touched each item: those little socks with rattles on the toes; the cozy little plaid pajamas; that denim hat — all reminders of the lovely daughter God had given me.

Slowly, I began seeing our tiny family of three through a lens of gratitude rather than one of self-pity. I chose to look at all God had given me, and it was much indeed!

We started making all kinds of crazy travel plans, because traveling with a family of three is soooo much easier than exploring with a brood, right? Plus, our daughter was getting to an age where we could do fun stuff together such as hiking and snorkeling.

The Power of Living, Loving, & Telling Your StoryContentment settled in, and it was very, very good.

That, of course, is when I became pregnant.

My 42-year-old self was like, “Saaaaay whaaaaat?!”

But our hearts warmed quickly to welcoming new life, even though it meant starting all over with diapers and board books, car seats and binkies.

God revised our family story from my original draft, but His version honed us and matured us far greater than anything I could have concocted — ever.

And I’ve learned that there is great power in telling my story — not just the glorious ending, but also the ugly, self-pitying, jealous and whiney middle parts — because as I tell it, I can’t help but to brag on God.

It’s like when Moses squeezes in a visit with his father-in-law Jethro, and tells him “everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake AND about all the hardships they had met along the way AND how the Lord had saved them” (Exodus 18:8). After hearing Moses’ story, Jethro rejoiced saying, “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods…” (18:11).

This intimate little chat between Moses and Jethro is my new favorite part of the Moses chronicle.

Because early on Moses had asked God FIVE times (Exodus 3:11, 13; 4:1, 10, 13) for a different story; He clearly did NOT want what the Lord had in store for him.

And yet, here he sat, years later telling his father-in-law about God’s miraculous work in his life and in the life of his ginormous family. Power flowed through the narrative, and Jethro understood — perhaps for the first time ever — how great is our God.

How about you? Are you walking through a hard stretch right now? Are you longing to take back your narrative? Are you hoping for a different story?

Be encouraged: there is power in living, loving and telling your story — even if you weren’t initially all that keen about it. Because our God is great indeed! Stick with Him, and you’ll eventually find every line of your record redeemed.

And if you have the privilege of telling it to others, you’ll undoubtedly witness God using your story to bring attention to His name and to bring the lost into His house.

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Gifted with one beautiful daughter for her tenth wedding anniversary and another for her twentieth, high school English teacher turned homeschooling mom Rhonda Owens is passionate about the Word. She loves nothing more than to study it, talk about it, write about it, apply it, live it and teach it ... all preferably accompanied by deep community and good chocolate. Exploring with husband Mitchell and her two girls is a favorite pastime, and you might find them snorkeling, hiking, or kayaking in a remote corner of God’s world — or simply walking in the woods behind their home in little Bryan, Ohio. Co-author of the book Undivided: A Family Devotional: Living FOR And Not Just WITH One Another , her writing can also be discovered at MitchellAndRhonda.com. Additionally, you can find Rhonda on Facebook, Instagram (rhonda_owens) or at ForTheFamily.org where she contributes regularly.

3 Comments
  • DrCarol

    Your story of infertility and then your surprise blessing is a blessing to me. I’ve helped many many women through their infertility journey. Your perspective is so positive and refreshing. You explored and found the gratitude even while never giving up the dream. Blessings to you.

    • Rhonda

      Thanks for your sweet comments! Trust me when I tell you that the whole process has been a journey of ups and downs, of valleys and peaks — and every one of them has become part of the story. Thanks for taking the time to connect. Blessings to you as well!

  • Briana

    I love this, Rhonda, and am living a similar experience of God scrapping my script to write His own. I can’t say I see the wisdom and glory of it yet, but I trust Him with it. I know that what I don’t see here on earth will one day be revealed to me in full when I’m face to face with Jesus. And I actually wonder if once I am standing before Him, will I even care?

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When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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The Power of Living, Loving and Telling YOUR Story {Instead of Longing for Someone Else’s}

by Rhonda Owens time to read: 3 min
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