Christen shares with us thoughts about family, grace and saying ‘no,’ tenacious faith that allows us to become what God envisioned, how to keep growing despite a busy schedule or the demands of motherhood, and the importance of learning from a multi-generational group of women.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: “Lord, my every desire is known to You; my sighing is not hidden from You.”
Psalm 38:9 (HCSB)
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Throughout 2018, I am focusing on seeking grace. Specifically, the act and art of extending grace to others as well as to myself. As a recovering perfectionist, I want to seek the kind of grace that will grant myself the opportunity to say, “I can’t” or “It’s too much for me right now,” or simply, “no.” We live in a world full of constant demands and endless obligations that have us running wild and ultimately, weary. There is power in saying “no” to the things we don’t want or need to do. There is strength developed when we
recognize that we cannot do it all, have it all, or be it all to everyone.
This is the type of grace that I hope to seek and gift to myself in 2018. With my fourth child expected to arrive in early May, I find it is no coincidence that God put this meaning of “grace” on my heart. Especially, after finishing an enlightening year of seeking wisdom, it makes perfect sense to me that He would lead me to seek grace during a year that will definitely be very busy.
We’re well into the new year, and I have already used a handful of opportunities to gift myself grace. They may have been baby steps but they were also productive progress towards the end goal of letting go and letting God. I am so grateful for the wisdom God has given me to know and understand myself better and on such a deeper level, but I am also very thankful for the people I do life with.
As I will continue to pray for the ability to extend and receive grace to both myself and others, I want to also pray for those who may be on the receiving end of my grace quest. May they have the heart to recognize when my soul needs a rest or when my body is screaming “no” even though my head may be nodding “yes.” We are all in this life together and together we can be pillars of grace in a world of jacked-up priorities and jammed-packed schedules. We can be the change our world desires, or at least, we can change ourselves by allowing God’s grace to overflow into every corner of our life.
“We are all in this life together and together we can be pillars of grace in a
world of jacked-up priorities and jammed-packed schedules.”
Profession: I’m a stay-at-home mom to three, almost four, children (ages: 8, 4.5, 2, and baby due on May 10th) as well as an aspiring writer/blogger for Seeking Grace & Gratitude.
A one sentence bio of yourself: I’m a recovering perfectionist, devoted to an online ministry that encourages Christian women to live purposeful, unfiltered lives that embrace human imperfection within God’s perfect design.
When did you first encounter God? I was baptized into Catholicism as an infant and was raised in the Catholic tradition for the first twenty years of my life. I grew up believing in God, and I never questioned His existence, however, I never had a personal relationship with Him. After my boyfriend (now-husband) asked me why I was Catholic, and I couldn’t defend my beliefs, I began to explore his faith – Christianity. Several months later, I received the altar call to dedicate my life to the cross and follow Jesus. Nearly twelve years later, I am actively, intentionally and purposefully pursuing my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Each day is equally a gift and a challenge, but I am eternally grateful to be experiencing life with God at my side.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? As a busy mom and wife of a husband with a demanding schedule, my personal time is often limited and my energy is regularly strained. I frequently find myself clinging to the Matthew 11:28 verse, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
I’ve been a mom for over eight years now, and the one thing I have learned that keeps me grounded and centered is being intentional in my personal walk with the Lord. I attend a weekly bible study on Wednesdays with a multi-generational group of Christian women. I love meeting on Wednesdays because it not only breaks up my week but also refreshes my soul.
As a 32-year-old, I highly recommend participating in a multi-generational women’s group because there is so much life wisdom and biblical insight obtained when you develop relationships with women who are spiritually mature. I also lead a women’s group in my neighborhood that meets twice a month. Additionally, I average at least one hour every day spending “quiet” time in God’s Word, listening to faith-based or sermon podcasts, reading books of Christian-influence and listening to Christian music. I find that surrounding myself with as many things that are good and Godly, instead of wrong and worldly, positively and directly impacts my current season of life.
I am often asked when I have the time to do these things and the answer is every chance I get! Meaning, I listen to Christian music or a podcast at home, in the car, while exercising or folding laundry. Likewise, I always have a book or bible study in my mom-bag and will read while waiting for a doctor’s appointment, while one of my kids is at an extracurricular or while in my children’s school pick-up line.
“I highly recommend participating in a multi-generational women’s group because there is so much life wisdom and biblical insight obtained when you develop relationships with women who are spiritually mature.”
Just read/currently reading: I started the year by reading The Daniel Dilemma by Chris Hodges and Your God is Too Glorious by Chad Bird. I am currently reading Love Thy Body by Nancy Pearcey and Dreaming with God by Sarah Beth Marr. A big part of my blog, Seeking Grace & Gratitude, focuses on my partnership with Baker Publishing Group. Baker sends me 2-4 books each quarter in exchange for an honest review on my blog as well as on various book-related websites. In addition to the Baker Publishing Group books I read and review, I try to read a handful of spiritual growth or women’s issues books throughout the year and actively pursue any opportunity to be a part of a [Christian] book launch team.
Top three essentials: Oh, that’s a good question. My top three essentials would have to be coffee, a book, and music. You can’t find me without one of these three things near me, in my hand or surrounding me, throughout the course of a day!
How did God speak to you recently? I love this question! God spoke to me in a big way in December 2017 by answering a persistent prayer I had questioned Him about for over two years! When I look back at the time I had sought answers, I can see how every little obstacle, challenge, mistake and spiritual growth moment I experienced were all to bring me to the place God has me at now. It was not the answer I had requested nor was it what I ever expected, but I have absolute peace about it and am so thankful I chose to focus on the Lord’s faithfulness and perfect timing.
“I can see how every little obstacle, challenge, mistake and spiritual growth moment I experienced were all to bring me to the place God has me at now.”
Hobby: As a busy mom of three young kids, I don’t have much free time for myself.
However, when personal time allows, I absolutely love cooking, reading, being active (cycling, hiking, yoga and ballet barre/dance classes are my fave!), going to concerts, having picnics, and spending time with my family and friends.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: My top three tips for staying spiritually strong would be:
1) Be intentional with actively spending time in God’s Word;
2) Surround yourself with faith-based influences such as people, books, music, etc. I find that I am a completely different person when I engage in secular activity or cultural influences;
3) Prioritize relationships and be particular with who you do life with. While it is worthwhile to spend time with those different than you so you can be a light and a witness to them, ultimately those closest to you should be breathing life into you and not sucking it out of you.
Favorite person in scripture? Peter – I love Peter because he is real. He was one of Jesus’ closest friends and strongest follower, yet he still questioned Jesus and was far from perfect. What I admire the most about Peter is his tenacious faith and perseverance to become the man God designed him to be.
“What I admire the most about Peter is his tenacious faith and perseverance to become the man God designed him to be.”
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? When people look at me I want them to see God’s grace. My biggest struggle in life is my constant battle against perfectionism, but each day I am gifted to be alive, I can feel God sanctifying me and allowing me to let go of my desire to be perfect. It is through the power of His grace that I have been able to [slowly] let go and let God do His perfect work amidst my imperfections.
“It is through the power of His grace that I have been able to [slowly] let go and let God do His perfect work amidst my imperfections.”
Favorite season? My all-time favorite season is fall! I was born and raised in West Michigan and absolutely love the colors of fall, all things pumpkin and apple spiced, and the crisp, cool weather.
Favorite holiday? My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because it is a part of my favorite season and the beginning of my second favorite season – Christmas! While I do enjoy the Christmas season and primarily the significance behind it, Thanksgiving closely beats Christmas as my favorite holiday because I love spending a whole day in the kitchen cooking (and often times several days prior to the holiday cooking), as well as gathering with family and sharing a hearty meal, with full hearts, together.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Right after Thanksgiving weekend, my daughters and I will spend the following two weekends baking Christmas cookies and other sweet treats for family, friends, and neighbors. It usually takes 3-4 long days in the kitchen, but we adore the time we get to spend together taste-testing our desserts and singing/dancing along to Christmas music.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? If God created the world to be perfect and good, then why did He allow evil to develop and ruin His perfect design? It seems to me that Satan should have never been able to sin and rebel against God if God had designed everyone to be good and perfect in His image.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: One hot topic that has hit me close to home is the issue of homosexuality and same-sex attraction. My brother considers himself gay, and after learning this about him six years ago, I made it my mission to biblically understand the sin of homosexuality. I’m not sure what type of impact I can make to serve God’s Kingdom, but I do know that the biblically obtained knowledge and wisdom I have received from pastors as well as from theologically-creditable sources has allowed me to minister to those closest to me and my local community.
What do you usually do before 9 a.m.? I am pretty consistent day-to-day, unfortunately! During the school week, I wake up at 6:30 a.m. and spend a good hour becoming a human through the powerful assistance of coffee and mindless television (like a Hallmark movie or Fixer Upper)! I am not a morning person, but I discovered a few years ago that waking up an hour before the rest of my family has allowed me to prepare for the busyness that will follow my day.
On school days, my kids get up about 7:30 a.m., and we head to school around 8:15 a.m. From school, I hit the gym, but on Wednesdays I go to my bible study. On the weekends, my kids usually wake up about 8:30-9 a.m., so I tend to “sleep in” until one of them wakes me up!
What is on your nightstand? The only thing I have on my nightstand is a lamp and my phone being charged because anything else I put on there, one of my kids will surely play with, destroy, or hide!
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity equals more of Jesus, less of me. (John 3:30)
Until next time, keep witnessing!