For The Crushed In Spirit

For The Crushed In Spirit

Two years ago a pastor and mental health advocate I adored died by suicide. When I read the news I wept.

He was such a strong, powerful voice for those who loved Jesus and also struggled with depression.

In the days that followed I was mortified to see speakers and influencers denounce him and say he should never have pastored if he struggled with depression.

1) that’s a poor view of God and who He can work through and 2) read the dang room and be respectful in the days of someone’s passing.

Over and over in the Bible we see God use broken, flawed people for His glory.

People who had a speech impediment, people who struggled with depression, people who used to kill Christians.

Every person has struggles. Every pastor, leader, teacher, speaker, and podcaster has a struggle you don’t know about.

Thank you Jesus we are worth more than our private issues! We would ALL be disqualified.

Dealing with anxiety/depression/trauma/intrusive thoughts doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference in the world. It doesn’t discredit your testimony or wisdom you have to share.

Mental health struggles are no different than physical ones, we just can’t see them. They’re a lot easier to hide or make assumptions about.

A pastor who may deal with depression can still speak truth to people’s hearts. A mom who has PPD can still love her children and teach them who they are.

Your bad days do not disqualify you from the race God has called you to run.

2 Tim 1:9 says He gave us a holy calling not because of our works, but because of His grace. Nothing you do can earn His love or freedom, it was given to you.

Our effort isn’t what qualifies us for our calling!

Look at Moses, David, Elijah… Elijah experienced a powerful victory in 1 Kings and a few days later asked God to kill him.

Jeremiah cursed the day he was born. His entire ministry was filled with such difficulty that he’s called “the weeping prophet.” He cried out “why was I born if this is my life?!”

David, the man after God’s heart, someone who did great things but also made terrible choices he had to live with – “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” (Psalm 42:11)

The Word says that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and He saves the crushed in spirit. (Ps 34:18)

If He can use these people, He can use you and me.

If you struggle with an eating disorder, that doesn’t disqualify you from God’s plan and calling.

If you’ve dealt with suicidal thoughts, that doesn’t discredit the giftings God has given you.

No matter your struggles, God has a purpose for your life. No one’s opinions or cruel words should steal that from you.

Don’t receive the lie over your life that you can’t ________ because you have had depression or anxiety or go to therapy or use medications or supplements.

Imagine telling a person with fibromyalgia they aren’t qualified to teach the word of God. They can’t help the condition they have.

Now imagine telling a person who Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that they can’t share God’s heart with the world as they deal with trauma-based anxiety.

That’s like telling God He shouldn’t use David because of all the times he lamented in the Psalms.

Do we believe in the God of the impossible or are we limiting what He can do and who He can use?

Even Charles Spurgeon wrote about the pain of mental health –

The mind can descend far lower than the body, for in it there are bottomless pits. The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in ten thousand ways, and die over and over again each hour.

Charles Spurgeon

God uses imperfect people to do incredible things. He has taken people with terrible pasts and given them bright futures!

Whatever you may be working through, what matters is that you are working through. Talk to safe people, go to counseling, change damaging situations.

What matters is your heart. Are you living in a way that shows people Jesus? Does your life show the fruit of the Spirit?

Just like a bad day doesn’t make a bad life, a bad mental health day doesn’t mean that’s who you are.

This week was extremely difficult and stretching for me and everything added up until I woke up one morning feeling the tension mounting inside me.

A glass falling off the nightstand and shattering was the small trigger that set off all my overwhelm, spilling over into an awful anxiety attack.

These moments the despair is so deep. The lies try to creep in to disqualify me, and imposter syndrome rears its ugly head.

“How can you expect to help people when you’re so broken?”

It’s easy to keep these thoughts and moments to ourselves, but calling them out takes their power. Reaching out to someone who loves you and will rebuke the lies calls you back into the light.

Here’s the thing, dear reader… The power of your testimony and victories, the stories of your struggles and successes, they will bring freedom to someone else going through it. Share your story, shame doesn’t get the final word.

Your struggles don’t disqualify you; they might just be what draws someone else to the Lord.

Your perseverance through your mental health battles will show someone dealing with the same thing that they aren’t alone, they aren’t worthless, and they have purpose too.

Whatever your calling in life might be: pastor, teacher, mother, writer, social media manager etc., you are an overcomer. You are a more than a conqueror. You are seen, loved, and valued.

If you ever doubt that God can use you, please flip through Scripture and see the long list of imperfect people that God used to prophesy, lead, evangelize, and heal.

You aren’t your bad days, you are more than depression or anxiety.

Most importantly – you are never alone and deeply loved above all.

Of Hopes And Dreams

Of Hopes And Dreams

I have wanted to be a writer as far back as I can remember. Poetry, investigative journalism, novels… I just wanted to write.

Books inspired me, grew me, and kept me alive. In my darkest and loneliest times I had Jesus and books.

I started writing books as a preteen when I learned that Christopher Paolini, who had also grown up homeschooled, wrote and published Eragon as a teenager.

Ever since, I have had big dreams of writing novels and speaking and changing lives. Life took some twists and turns (Good twists! Hard turns!) and writing took a backseat for a while. I have gotten married and worked and had babies and served in ministry and done XY&Z!

And I have never called myself a writer.

Through it all, though, I have never stopped writing. And every time I write something vulnerable, something big, something brave, something that makes me want to vomit as anxiety and imposter syndrome creeps in…

Every. Single. Time. That I doubt or am unsure, someone shares with me how much they needed what I wrote.

That’s when I realized… You don’t need to be published with a huge company behind you or have a million Instagram followers to be a writer.

So, I guess this is my announcement to the world that *gulp* I am a writer.

It’s my passion. It’s my God-imbued dream. I have brilliant, complex worlds of people and stories in my mind waiting to come out. I have been slowly working on writing and world building for my dream novel for years now, and it’s time to get the ball rolling.

This week I made an investment into my dream and joined hope*writers. I am a hope*writer!

I want to write books that inspire readers, like Narnia and LOTR did for me. I want to share and empower women to be everything they’re destined to be. I want people to know that there is hope and joy in this world, that life doesn’t have to be all sorrow and pain and despair.

This is why I write. This is why I keep going. I don’t have to have it all figured out right now, I just have to keep going!

Like I’ve told my kids, my youth, my friends: sometimes you have to do it afraid. So here I go!

Ezer Kenegdo

Ezer Kenegdo

I’m going on a new journey with my writing space. I’d love if you would continue to follow along as I share it along with my personal posts, but I recognize the topic won’t be for everyone. That’s okay! If you’re curious, stick around 🧡

Something that I’ve struggled with since childhood is my identity as a woman.

Throughout my journey of religion, disbelief, and discovering Jesus “who am I and what is my purpose” has followed me. Plenty of belief systems have tried to answer that question.

I’ve seen so many mixed messages from so many different crowds. The spectrum in our culture swings from radical feminists who hate men to ultra-controlled wives abused by the term “submit.” I’ve witnessed both ends of it, I’m not here to debate the existence of either side.

I think there’s a middle ground that women are missing out on and honestly, we’re kept from.

Jesus fiercely loved women and advocated for them in a time where that wasn’t the cultural norm.

God desiged women עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ – “ezer kenegdo.” A FASCINATING deep term that goes way beyond “helpmeet.”

I want to dive into this topic, our divine design as warriors, not mice. The incredible stories of women weaved throughout the Word, and what this means for us.

How it can EMPOWER us and free us to walk in our callings and live out our purpose.

Whether you are called to teach the next generation of warriors, or you are called to be salt and light in the courtroom, any role in between…

You were created with purpose. And when you know who you are (and the power behind that identity) you can be an unstoppable Kingdom force.

A Day in the Life of Homeschooling: Monday

A Day in the Life of Homeschooling: Monday

Homeschooling looks different for every family.

In sharing a “behind the scenes” of our week, my hope is to show that homeschooling can work for a variety of people and lifestyles!

I know people who homeschool while working full-time, people who homeschool 6 kids, and people who homeschool on the road. You make homeschooling work for you. Just like we make it work for us!

Our Homeschool Schedule

A few weeks before we started officially for the year, we got into a routine with the baby. I was so excited to start daily lessons knowing when the baby would need to nap or eat!

Instead, our luck was that the week we started, the baby went through a sleep regression and when she did sleep her loud sisters woke her up.

Because of this, the idea of a schedule went out the window. We have a routine we try to go by, but it slides along whatever time frame we have based on the baby’s sleep the night before.

If she’s been up in the early morning hours, than Mommy will be sleeping later and we aren’t starting school at 8am haha.

Homeschooling is flexible to your family’s needs, and I’m very grateful I don’t have to get little people out the door obscenely early every morning!

Monday – Starting Our Week

Today got started a little later than I would have liked. Nevertheless, after breakfast and cartoons so mom could coffee (yes – it’s a verb), we got started with our school day.

Morning Basket

We went over our characteristic for this week, B drew the patience card! (Something we all need to work on haha).

B (my oldest) did her More Than Words Bible curriculum with me while E played, she wasn’t interested and I wasn’t going to waste the time picking that battle with her attention span.

We don’t do subjects in a particular order.

B picks each subject she wants to start with, and since E has less work as a kindergartner she gets her turn in between Bree’s lessons.

We started off with history/social studies. Part of the lesson was writing a sentence about your favorite landmark in your city or state, so we watched some tourism videos for our incredible city and talked about some of the places that stuck out to us.

B finished up, and we moved on to math (for her), nursing the baby (for me), and Lego building (for E’s busy brain).

One thing I need to share here that I think is super important for kids – we don’t sit down at the table and work for hours. We take “five minute breaks” that can really be anywhere from 2 minutes to 15 minutes in between bookwork.

This helps the kids get their wiggles out, move their body and stretch, and get a change of scenery. Sometimes its a snack break too! I don’t think it’s realistic, or even healthy, to keep kids in a seat all day long.

We also don’t do our schoolwork in the same location every day, or even every subject!

Sometimes we sit down at the dining room table, other times we’re on the couches so I can nurse the baby or hold her for a nap if she’s having a rough day. There are times we go out and enjoy our books on the front porch too! Again – so much flexibility.

By the time we were done with math, because we had a later start to our day, Daddy was taking his lunch break (he’s currently working from home due to Covid) so we paused to take lunch too.

After lunch and some hoverboard action, it was E’s turn! Our little kindergartener was having a tough day so we did bare minimum in her book and just practiced some letter recognition, drawing some shapes to build a house, and practiced writing some letters.

I had grand intentions of taking the girls on a field trip downtown to look at some of the landmarks we had watched on youtube, but unfortunately, that didn’t pan out.

We were done for the day sometime around 3, and I still needed to shower and then start dinner prep. Ordinarily, we are done with all schoolwork much earlier in the day, but this Monday needed the grace of going slow and taking our time.

I just realized I only had one cup of coffee today… maybe that’s why I’m running so slow!

Extra Learning Opportunities

When I first began researching how to homeschool my children (I am a former homeschooled kid from another state with different laws) I came across something that kind of blew my mind.

We are not replicating public/private school at home. We are learning at home. And learning never stops. We can learn math in a textbook, and we can learn it over the stove trying a new recipe with mom too.

We can have discussions after watching a film or reading a story. We can pair education with life skills. We can Google a question and watch a video to learn that frogs can’t throw up, that’s some science at bedtime!

Just tonight my girls came across a video of two men creating houses and swimming pools from just the dirt in the ground, water, grass, and some primitive tools. We had a really good discussion about it! This is learning at home.

The world at large has sort of made parents feel dumb and incapable of teaching their own children. Not knocking teachers at all, they are necessary and incredible. Kids who go to brick and mortar schools deserve amazing teachers! They really are superheros.

But most parents, if they have the availability to and want to, can teach their children. You’ve taught your children to eat, to speak, to walk, you can teach them how to read or how to tie a shoelace too.

I was terrified to teach my oldest to read, but we did it! She is an amazing reader, she even has incredible inflection when she reads aloud.

If there’s something you don’t understand or feel adequate teaching, that’s what textbooks and community support is for! (Or Dad, call in your back up haha.)

This Monday is in the books!

Realistic Homeschooling

Realistic Homeschooling

When you start homeschooling and follow these fun, amazing accounts on Instagram and mommy blogs, it’s so easy to get swept up into comparison.

I know I did! Big school rooms, gorgeous posters covering the walls, big whiteboards, desks, cubbies upon cubbies for organizing, and every educational toy or manipulative you could think of.

It was overwhelming to me and made me feel so inadequate because I couldn’t give that to my kids in my “small” house.

But here’s the deal. You don’t have to have a designated school room to homeschool your kids. If you do, that’s so awesome! You are blessed by that space you get to utilize! One of the beautiful aspects of homeschooling for me, though, is doing it wherever you feel comfortable.

We mostly do our schoolwork in the dining room. Sometimes we do our reading on the porch, our math on the couch, and on one rainy day we even did school from my cozy king-sized bed with cocoa to sip.

Homeschooling gives you the versatility to make it what it needs to be for your kids.

If you’re concerned about homeschooling taking up space in here to show you it doesn’t have to! Here’s my homeschooling space…

This bookshelf and craft cart hold everything we use for our school! I’ve even reorganized these shelves since starting this post.

I have a shelf for –

  1. My grown-up books about homeschooling and parenting.
  2. A shelf for Bible/devotions and read aloud books.
  3. A shelf for my oldest’s curriculum.
  4. A shelf for my middle’s curriculum.
  5. And a resource book shelf for miscellaneous things like topical books and dictionaries.

That’s it!

If you take a step back you can see that our homeschooling supplies only take up one small corner of our dining room!

I have room on the walls to hang some things and actually started putting up our chore chart from The Peaceful Press on the big mirror we have. Take advantage whatever space you have!

We have magazine holders to separate some binders for art and projects, and I love using baskets and trays to organize. I have one I keep on the top shelf for scissors and glue, and another for smaller items like flash cards, Play-Doh, and the like.

Simple and easy. If you have a smaller home, an apartment, or even just don’t too much space to give up – you can still homeschool.

Now that I’ve created a space for me and my kids that suits us, I can appreciate my favorite Instagram homeschool mamas even more. I might not have the space they do BUT they still offer incredible advice and perspectives. And I even snag some of their ideas too!

If you are new to homeschooling, I know it can be a lot. But you’ve got this! You know your kids better than anyone else in the whole world. Cut down to basics and find a place that will make this the best experience it can be for you and yours. 🧡

And stay tuned, coming soon I have some cool tips and products to share from a momma whose designed some really helpful printables and bundles for distance learning and homeschooling families alike!

To follow along my homeschooling mama journey, let’s connect on Instagram!

New to homeschooling? Check out my free homeschooling starter kit!