YOUnique Mom!

YOUnique Mom!

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’”

– Proverbs 31:28-31

Do you ever feel like every mom around you is being awarded the good mom medal except you? Maybe you feel like a bad mom because you are not like the other moms? Guess what?!?! The other moms are not like you. There are moms at home right now eating a tub of ice cream as they scroll through your Social media profile and feel guilty that they are not the mom you are. I want all my fellow moms to STOP Playing the comparison game.

You were uniquely created to be the mom God designed YOU to be.

Psalm 139:13-14: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

Do you really believe that you are a wonderful mom in the eyes of God? He loves you so much and has equipped you to be the mom your child needs. You already have all you need within you to be the mother that God has created you to be. You only need to reach out and take it.

This does not mean that there are no areas we can trust God to help us work on as mother’s. There is not a perfect mom in this world. Shocker! Right?! I only want us to choose to STOP living in the shadow of our mom friends.

I have no sympathy bone. I always joke that Jesus switched my sympathy bone for a crafty bone. Need a crafty mom? Here I am. Need a hug cause you fell down after I told you THREE TIMES not to stand on the back of the couch, sorry I’m out of hugs.

We all have our WOW mom moments and we all have those not so WOW moments. I guess I would have to agree that my lack of a sympathy bone is a weakness for me.

The other morning we were on the porch taking pictures. I was so frustrated because I felt like Ellie was trying to make it difficult. (She wasn’t!!!!) In a moment of weakness I yelled “YOU ARE GOING TO SMILE AND YOU WILL ENJOY IT!!!” She cried saying “ I am smiling. This is my new smile!” I felt awful and I’m sure the entire neighborhood saw my crazy mom moment. I honestly just needed Jesus to remind me that my kids don’t have to be looking in the same direction in every picture. The truth is, the mom next door to you needs Jesus just as much as you.

When I was pregnant with Jay I felt like the worst mom in the world. Not only did Ellie have to hold my hair back as I hurled into her tub of animal crackers but one day we laid in the bed from the moment we woke up till 4 pm. Then we just moved to the couch. She played on her iPad the entire day and many days after that. Why? I was too sick to function and my pride held me back from asking for help. I look back and wonder, why didn’t we fly Jessie’s mother down? Why didn’t I reach out to my personal mom friends? Why did I feel like I had to do it all on my own? We all have seasons as moms when we need help and that is ok. We need to let go of our motherly pride so that we can receive that help.

Be willing to let go of your pride and ask for help. You don’t have to do this mom thing alone. It’s hard. It’s rewarding but so challenging too. Also, be willing to return the help to the next mom next door. Moms need moms!!!!

We were not created to do life alone.

The other day Kayla and I were working at the church. I couldn’t find my hot glue guns anywhere. I have 100 but could not locate one. In my head I started going through the motions of packing my kids up (I only have two but it seemed like a marathon) and hauling them to theDollar Tree. For a 20 minute event I knew that I was going to spend an hour because one kid was going to have a blowout and the other was going to want me to look at EVERYTHING!! Without hesitation, Kayla said…

“Just go. I’ll watch your kids.” Let me tell you how fast I ran out of that building. I was driving down the road to the FURTHEST Dollar Tree, singing at the top of my lungs to Ellie’s favorite Kids Bop CD, sipping my Diet Coke, bopping my head and feeling like a fly mom. I love my kids but can we just please normalize taking a break from our kids. Moms need a break. It’s ok to take that break. There is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself so that you can be a better mom.

#Normalizemombreaks!!!

We also need to Let go of unrealistic mom expectations! Until we let go of our unrealistic mom expectations we will never be able to reach our full mom potential that we were created to be. The only expectation you should have as a mom is to raise your kids to love and serve the Lord.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – 3 John 1:4

We should want our joy as mother’s to be in the fact that we are raising our kids to love and serve God, not in how we can be more like the mommy Suzy Jane down the street who knows how to cook healthy meals and do cute hairstyles. That’s good and all but having the perfectly symmetrical pig tails is not what will bring our children joy, peace and purpose. Only Jesus can give them that.

Each and EVERY mom has something that only they can give their children. No one (except Jesus) can love your kids better than you. You have all you need to be the mom God has shaped you to be. God has already birthed that gift in you. You just need to reach out and take it. We are not the same. We are not called to be the same mom. We are all different as moms and that’s ok. We are all loved by the same God. We are not bad moms but we are uniquely created to be the mom God gifted us to be. You are just who your child needs. You are called, chosen, loved, you are a unique mom!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Jesus always provides!

Jesus performed 7 types of miracles. He fed many people, cast out evil spirits, healed the blind, deaf sick and injured, turned water to wine, controlled the elements of nature, allowed Peter and his fishermen to catch a lot of fish, and lastly raised many from the dead including himself. This past weekend in Kids Life we focused on the miracle of Jesus feeding 5000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread. To illustrate how much Jesus provided we covered the floor in cotton balls to represent the fish and bread. When they were told to go the kids used their “baskets” to collect as much bread and fish as possible. When the bell rang they stopped collecting.

“Wow! Jesus did an amazing miracle! After He fed 5,000 people with only five loaves and two fish, there were still all these baskets of bread leftover!”

Our kids were able to visually see that even after all the people were fed there was still so much more left. Jesus always provides.

Smelly Disobedience!

We really wanted the kids to get a sense of what it was like to be in the belly of a fish for three days. So we decided to bring the story to life. As they set in a circle to hear the story we had Joann spray water in the air just enough for it to land on each of them as she talked about the storm. Jonah found himself in a storm while hiding on a boat. He knew the storm was because of his disobedience so he had the men throw him into the water. As she told the part of the story where Jonah gets swallowed by a big fish she hurried the kids under the blue tarp. It was dark and lonely for Jonah. In his loneliness Jonah reached out to God. He prayed! To finish, we passed around a can of tuna for the kids to sniff. With one quick sniff they got the point. Being in a belly of a fish was lonely, dark, gross and smelly. Jonah chose to run from God. However, he learned that you can never run so far that God can’t find you. Jonah repented from inside the fish and then was vomited on to dry land. Eww gross!!! God forgave Jonah and sent him on his way to Nineveh. Jonah obeyed this time. We might not be physically running from God but sometimes our hearts can be running. We grow distant when we stop talking to Him, reading His word and spending time with other believers. When we grow distant we stop listening to where He is trying to lead us. Just like Jonah. Sometime we hear Him speaking or nudging our hearts but like Jonah we don’t obey. Don’t allow yourself to get on the wrong boat, be thrown into the ocean, swallowed by a big fish and to top it off vomited on to dry land. Just listen to God the first time. Most importantly, know that you have not messed up too much to be forgiven and still used by God. He wants to use you. Where ever you are right now, reach out to God in prayer. You are not too hidden for God to hear you.

“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me!” Jonah 2:1 NLT

One day!

I have found myself thinking of my dad a lot lately. He spent my entire life broken over the loss of his son, my brother Brook. I can’t begin to understand the grief his passing caused my parents. My brothers death puts my entire childhood in perspective. When going through my dads things he had a box with Jays name written on it. I opened it to find a bunch of toy cars. They were cars my brother played with almost 39 years ago. My dad wants to give them to Jay. For obvious reasons, I offered them to my mom who in return encouraged me to keep them because she knows I would do something sentimental with them. For now they sit in this tall vase. I’ve been spending a lot of time dreaming up ways to display these cars. I know I’ll come up with the perfect display. Brook is the brother I never met. Brook is the brother who left this world all too soon. He’s the brother I’ll meet for the first time in heaven one day. He’s the brother I oddly find myself missing. Brook was the first child born 5 years before me. Brook passed away 1 week before he should have turned 1. Almost 39 years later my dad still cries when he talks about him. There is hope for my dad knowing he will hold is son again in heaven when the time comes. I can only imagine how beautiful their reuniting will be. One day my dad will be with Jesus, he will be with Brook and he will finally be free.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4 NLT

Hide!

You can run from God but you can’t hide. Let’s be real, Jonah tried to hide from God by sailing away on a ship. However, running from God only caused him to be thrown over the boat, swallowed by a big fish and vomited on to dry land. In the end, Jonah listened to God and went to Nineveh to tell the people about Him. In preschool this week the kids told the story of Jonah using our water table. We filled the water table with a boat, Jonah and lots of little fish. Our preschoolers used our “big fish” to catch little fish and ultimately Jonah. They also threw Jonah over the boat and used the “big fish” to spit Jonah on to dry land. My favorite part was hearing the kids have Jonah cry out to God from inside the big fish. ❤️

“From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God…” Jonah 2:1

Upside down faith!

We did a fun activity this past weekend to help us understand what it means to trust like Noah did. Each kid filled a cup part way with water. They then placed an index card over the opening of the cup and pressed down to create a suction causing the cup to hold tight to the card. When they tipped the cup over, the water remained in the cup because the air pressure pressing upwards is stronger then the gravity pressing downwards. Can you see the air pressure? No! But you know it’s working. We can’t see God but we know He is there working in our lives. Noah had the pressure of the world telling him he was silly to build an ark. No one saw a storm coming. However, Noah’s trust in God was stronger then the pressure of those around him. He knew he could trust God even when what he was being asked to do didn’t make sense. We can trust God. You can’t see Him but God is there working in your life.

A song that gets me excited about Jesus is Waymaker by Michael W. Smith. The part…

“Even when I don’t see it, You’re working

Even when I can’t feel it, You’re working

You never stop, You never stop working

You never stop, You never stop working”

This part gets me pumped because regardless of what we can see or feel God never stops working in our life.

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” John20:29 NLT

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NIV

Pizza and a Prayer!

When I was 10 my dad became angered over a pair of lost car keys. We had another set but for some reason he was still furious. He came in the apartment and with the power in both arms and in one quick swoop, he threw everything on the table across the room covering us in soda. We took off running. No shoes on my feet. My mom walked toward us as we yelled for her to run too. We dove into the car and my mom started driving away. My dad threw his entire body across the front of the car leaving his hand print plastered on the window as he yelled for my mom to open the door. She didn’t. We drove off. We hung out with friends for a few hours. We swam in their pool but I mostly shook in fear. After a few hours passed we met my dad for pizza. We ate like that entire scene never took place.

While I have these memories that still leave me shaking my heart has been changed toward my dad. A heart that was once filled with fear is now filled with love and forgiveness. Yet, I’m also filled with continuous grief because mental illness can feel like a never ending battle.

I’m not sure if it’s right for me to share a story so personal. I’m not in the business of hurting those I love. However, not sharing is like failing to tell the world how God can do the impossible. God truly has changed my dad. I believe that with my whole heart. He’s not perfect but he’s not the same dad I grew up afraid of. He’s struggling at this moment because bipolar schizophrenia and Lewy body dementia don’t work well together. I want to make one thing very clear. My dad’s mental disorder does not change his salvation in Jesus. He will be in heaven not because he does everything right, but because he put his faith in Christ Five years ago. He’s going to heaven because Jesus lives in His heart. I’m proud of my dad and I want nothing but a happy ending for him. I’m not ashamed of him. I’m very much proud of who he has worked to be and devastated that mental illness and dementia is hitting him this hard.

A few days ago my dad packed up everything in his room at the nursing home and sent it home with my aunt because in his mind a resident was trying to rob him. He sent his dentures in the bucket too. He is walking around with no teeth in his mouth because the voices in his head tell him that someone will take them.

This is just a glimpse of what mental illness looks like.

I can’t forget what has happened in the past. I still remember the gun pointed at my moms head. I still remember the dozens of cops in and out of our apartment. I definitely remember being threatened with eviction if we had to call the cops on my dad again. I can’t forget the fear and torment of my childhood because I literally feel it in the shaking of my bones. Still, I want to be sure to be loud about the good God has done and is still doing. I want to be loud about who my dad is in Christ today because up until five years ago he had no faith

We ironically ate pizza with my dad while visiting him the other day. It was the perfect visit. Far better than 23 years ago when we ate pizza together after running from him in fear for our lives. It was as if it were meant to be. It was an hour that made up for the years of fear. He was fully alert and calm. He was excited to see the kids. At the end of our visit he asked us to pray for him. Growing up we couldn’t talk about God without him getting so angry we would hide. Now he’s requesting prayer. Unfortunately a few hours after our visit his paranoia got the best of him and one thing led to another and he was sent to a psych ward. I don’t know what happens from here. I’m filled with an overwhelming numbness. I know we serve a good God who loves my dad. I’m at peace. My heart aches for my dad but still there is peace that I can’t quite understand. I know that God is working all things out for His good. I just can’t see it yet.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 NLT

High Five!

High Five!

I’ve been giving this girl high fives all month. We are so proud of her positive attitude since covid hit the month of her 4th birthday. Now she is turning five. Ellie has grown to love being at home, lounging in her footie pajamas, eating pancakes, chugging chocolate milk, watching Adley on YouTube, playing barbies or dancing for Jay to kids bop.

Her favorite songs are Waymaker and Yes I Will. Ellie has truly learned to worship Jesus in rain or shine and that’s a win in our book. Recently, she saw an ambulance and fire truck at a wreck and immediately she said “mom we should pray for them.” I love her heart for Jesus and others. While watching a movie Ellie asked why the girl in the movie was sitting alone. She kept asking if someone was going to sit with her. She noticed the character was sad and waited to see if someone would help her. I pray she never loses her compassion for others. I pray when given the opportunity she will be the one who sits with the broken and lonely.

Ellie is filled with such joy and loves to laugh. She loves to make others laugh too. She is our snuggle buddy and personal hand warmer and the best big sister. Ellie loves to make videos and put on shows. When she grows up she wants to be a mommy and blogger. Ellie loves wrestling dad and giving Jay kisses. She will give you the best hug ever and yawn really big when nervous. I truly don’t know what I did to deserve a little girl like her. Ellie made me a mommy five years ago and I have never been the same. Happy birthday Ellie. Have a high five birthday.

This past year Ellie has taught me to be content in every circumstance. Her joy has not Changed. She was filled with joy before Covid. Her joy continued as the world shut down. Her joy remained the same when I was too sick to play!

This is why my verse for her this next year is…

Philippians 4:11NLT

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”

Ellie! Always love Jesus! Always share Jesus with others! Keep being His light. Lastly, continue to always make every day a high five day no!!!

Show up!

Thankful for this guy! There are so many reasons to love him. This week I love him because he has always shown up. I can always count on him. On Wednesday my stepdad will be heaven for 11 years. Jessie and I were dating when Mike got sick. He drove me all the way to Livingston Texas to see Michael (my stepdad) and then back again once he passed away. Jessie carried my stepdads casket at his funeral and when I grieved for two long years he showed up at my door to make sure I was eating even though I broke up with him because my heart couldn’t handle the thought of loosing him too. He has always shown up even before we were married. He has continued to show up not just for me, but for our kids, our family, our church and so many others. Most importantly he always shows up in the way he worships Jesus. Blessed to call him my husband and forever best friend. Jessie Rayos

Thanks Mark Hootman for the wonderful picture.

Another Smile!

When I was little my dad convinced me that he could make the car fly. I was in the back seat and very gullible. “Make it fly” I shouted with my hands in the air. He put his hand on the clutch and I screamed out, “No! It’s too scary” He took his hand away and smiled this huge smile that I have sketched in my memory. Again, I shouted “Ok! I’m ready! Make it fly!” He put his hand on the clutch again and looked at me through the rear-view mirror and OF COURSE I chickened out. I never got to see him fly the car that day but for the longest time I believed he could.

My dad gave Jay a toy car for almost everyday of the year this past Christmas. Looking at the cars, I’m reminded of the car I never let him show me how to fly. I’ve been dreaming up ways we can showcase these toy cars in our home. For him the toy cars mean so much more. Once upon a time he had a son named Brook who he bought toy cars for. Brook passed away a week before he turned one and now my dad buys cars for Jay. I believe its a way of emotional healing for my dad. My dad is currently in the hospital… AGAIN! He’s been sick for too long but every time we think it’s the end he pulls through. I’m praying he pulls through again but ultimately I just want him to smile like he smiled that day in the car. The way he smiled the day he found out about Ellie. I could hear his smile through the phone that day. I want him to smile like the day he smiled when he held Ellie for the first time. The way he smiled when he met Jay this past November. I’m praying for Gods will not mine. His way not mine. His time not mine. ultimately my dad belongs to Jesus so I’m putting him in His hands.

This is what I know. From the time my dad heard about Ellie I have watched God completely change him. He is far from perfect but he tries. I’ll never forget hearing “I don’t want Ellie to see the same things you girls saw!” I can’t forget when he said “I need to put my faith in Jesus again!” And He did.

We sang, It Is Well With My Soul in church this Sunday. I didn’t know how much I needed that song till now. Because my dad knows Jesus, it truly is well with my soul. No matter what happens IT IS well with my soul. I’m saying Gods plan is well with my soul. The only way I’ll ever see my dad smile again even if not on earth is through Gods plan for my dad. Not my desires. Not what I want. Not the story I want to tell but His story for my dad. If my dad pulls through I’ll celebrate. If he doesn’t I’ll still celebrate because with Gods plan my dad WILL smile again. It’s just a matter of where.

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Like 22:42 NLT