How My Son Helped Me Become a Better Daughter

October 11, 2014 at 2:19 am. A moment in time I will never forget.

Not only because I became a mother for the first time, but because my eyes were opened to the reality that I needed to be a daughter to my own mother.

To be completely honest, leading up to the birth of my son, my relationship with my mom wasn’t where it once was many years prior. To put it simply, I reached a point because of so much hurt, disappointment, and rejection from so many people in my life that I told myself that I couldn’t rely on anyone any longer, especially her. She became just another person in my life, and one who I dreaded seeing her name on my phone’s screen when she called.

Of course I loved her, but I kept her at arm’s length because I didn’t want to risk being hurt once again. I was a big girl now; I didn’t need my mom. But in that delivery room, although I had no idea, I needed my mom. She heard me from the waiting room and couldn’t bare it any longer, so she invited herself into the delivery room. Although my husband and I had decided to keep the experience private, I was so glad she busted through those doors!

Because my contractions stalled, I was then experiencing Pitocin-induced contractions and needed as much support as I could during the “breaks” I would get in between each wave of pain. I remember looking up at her and crying out to her- even calling her “mommy” at one point, which I NEVER called her that before in my life. I truly believe it came from the deep recesses of my heart. Having my mom there in that room, massaging my back, encouraging me, and holding my hand was one of the most special moments I have ever experienced with her in my entire life. I am so thankful for it and will treasure it forever.

As the hours went by, another person I struggled to fully embrace entered the room- my mother-in-law. Our relationship had become very surface-level over the last few years because of the same reasons as my mom and I’s relationship- I feared rejection and disappointment and put up walls around my heart, loving at a distance. She never stopped loving me and never stopped praying for me, even in that delivery room. I am so thankful for her prayers throughout the whole laboring process and so thankful for our now-restored and renewed relationship.

I find it so absolutely beautiful that God would take such a physically painful experience and make something so wonderful and life-changing in so many ways for me. I saw years that the enemy had stolen from me be restored to me in an instant and God is continuing to heal and strengthen even more still as the years have gone by.

I thought that the birth of my firstborn would be the only miracle I would witness that mid-October day in 2014, but God had so much more in store for me. I thought that day would be about me becoming a mother, but God had greater plans, as I got my mother and mother-in-law back that day. His love for me completely overwhelms my heart!

God’s grace and love have carried me through these last five and a half years of being a mother, now to two little boys (and another sweet prince on the way!) and I am in awe of the miraculous restoration that has occurred in my relationship with my mom and mother-in-law over the years.

Now every time I look at my children, and I think about how much I love them and how I would do anything to give them all that they need, I am reminded of how much God loves me and cares about all aspects of my life, including my relationships. I am able to pour out that same love without hindrance to all that He places in my life. Because God gave me the gift of becoming a mother, I am able to love so much greater as a daughter. For that, I am forever grateful!

(Thank you, Mom…I love you a bushel and peck and a hug around the neck! Happy Mother’s Day!)


The original version of How My Son Help Me Become a Better Daughter was first featured on iBelieve.com.

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What God Has Taught Me Through the Seasons Where I Felt Stuck

“Hi, my name is Emily, and I am recovering from an addiction to do-ing.”

It took me many years to finally admit that. If there was a goal or task to accomplish, I would throw all of myself into successfully completing it. I still have great work ethic, but the problem was the fact that I was too concerned with what people thought of me based upon my accomplishments. I loved the high from “the hustle” and having my schedule full to the brim. I spent years upon year upon years crowding the margins of my existence with:

Dance class, gymnastics, cheerleading, running track, Student Council, Marching Band, Pep Band, Concert Band, Art Club, Peers Group, musicals & plays (“I can’t. I have rehearsal.”), auditions, performances, church choir practice, tutoring, youth ministry, college and career ministry, worship team rehearsals, Bible studies, prayer meetings, church leadership meetings, drama practices, event planning committees, speaking engagements…

…just to name a few.

Entering a New Season

Being successful and driven became the meaning behind every breath I took; I found purpose in my performance and productivity. This was all I knew for well over 20 years of my life.

Then came the day, four years ago, when my husband and I decided it was best that I leave my job and become a stay-at-home mom. Even though there was always a daily task-list before me:

Laundry, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, vacuuming, mopping, dishes, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, lunch, emails, phone-calls, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, dinner, feeding, burping, diaper-changing…

…I didn’t feel accomplished at all.

Feeling Stuck

I felt robotic.

I felt completely overwhelmed and frazzled, drained and exhausted.

My excellent productivity skills had always proven to be such an asset to my daily routine, but not anymore. I couldn’t focus on the here and now, let alone enjoy it, because I was always looking to the next thing that had to be finished.

What did I even do today? I would ask myself constantly because I never felt like my to-do list was completed. There was always more to do the next day too.

Using this Season of Life

Although I would have told you straight to your face that my identity and purpose was not in what I do, I don’t know if I whole-heartedly believed that. In this new season of my life as a stay-at-home mom, I felt absolutely stuck and quite frankly, like a failure. Surely, God wouldn’t call me to leave my job just to abandon me here, drowning in dirty laundry and a sink full of dirty dishes, feeling like it was piling up all around me. Surely, there had to be more purpose to my life than all of this!

This lack of productivity and accomplishment felt totally foreign to me, but little did I know, God was going to use this new season to teach me some of the greatest lessons of trusting Him even when everything in my life seems to be at a stand-still.

Learning How to Just Be

Within the first few months into this new role as a mom, I finally realized that if I didn’t slow down and carve out alone time with God, I would sink even deeper in this place where I felt utterly stuck. I needed to learn how to just be.

I need to learn how to be present. God didn’t need me to DO anything for Him because Jesus had done so much for me already so that I could simply spend time with the Father- now and forever in eternity.

Why would I rush through this life frantically trying to cross things off my task list for the sake of productivity if I allow it all to steal my peace and joy?

Becoming Intentional

Slowly, I learned how to stop going through the motions just for the sake of accomplishment and became intentional about staying mentally present. I made sure that quiet time spent with the Lord was a top priority. He was the only One who could restore my soul from the stresses of the daily demands of being at stay-at-home mom and wife. I chose to breathe it all in and enjoy every moment with my son and my husband, no matter how big or small it seemed, knowing that it would pass so quickly. It was then that I began to experience genuine peace and joy.

An Issue of Mis-Identification

I thought I was getting the hang of this whole “being” business, until God took it to the next level when He convicted my husband and I’s hearts that we needed to search for a sound, Biblical church (you can read about that initial experience of coming out of deception here), thus, removing whatever titles or ministry roles I still attempted to find my identity in and busy myself with. No more worship team, no more prayer meetings, no more church leadership conference calls, no more preparing messages for the youth group, no more drama team rehearsals.

Once again, I felt stuck. I felt so out of sorts. I felt so void of purpose because I no longer had all of these extra responsibilities to fill my plate. Clearly, I still had this huge issue of mis-identification, asking God why, when, how, wondering what this sense of void really was all about and if it would ever go away. Why couldn’t I find contentment in the waiting, in the process, in the stand-still? Why was it so hard to “just be” and trust God was at work in and through my life even when it looked like nothing was happening?

Yielding to the Hands of the Potter

In this season, God stripped me of all of those wrong labels that I was trying to identify myself with by completely removing me from activities and ministry positions. He even removed certain desires and passions, like my writing, which was starting to pick up speed since my book had just released several months prior to this big life change.

It took me two years to finally yield to the hands of the Potter and give him every label and title I have ever held onto and see Him smash them to smithereens with is mallet, y’all. That’s a long time to wrestle with God, but thankfully, as He always does, He won that match! I finally surrendered it all over to God.

Learning Whose I Am

Sure, there were times that I felt like I had lost myself.

But through the process of losing myself, just like Jesus tells us, I found the life God created for me to live.

“He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”

Matthew 10:39, NKJV

In the season of “barrenness” and stillness, I discovered my true purpose and identity, a daughter of the Most High God.

It’s so incredibly simple, but it is at the core of the gospel—The Father gave His only Son for the whole world so that those who would believe on Him would never spiritually die but have everlasting life, experiencing restored fellowship with their Heavenly Father (John 3:16).

Those who embrace Jesus and put their trust in Him are given the right to be called children of God! There is absolutely NOTHING we can do to earn that position. We can’t work for it. It isn’t based upon our accomplishments or performance; it’s based on Jesus’ performance on the Cross! All that is required of us is faith in Jesus Christ…and we don’t even have to work for that either! God freely gives us that faith as a gift! When we embrace Jesus, the Father embraces us!

Children of God

In Christ, we are God’s children and our purpose is to stand in that identity and tell others the good news that they can have that right, too, through Jesus Christ (John 1:12).

It’s from that place as children of God, in Christ, that we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28a).

Did you catch that: have our BEING, not that we now can have our doing!

Finding Peace and Rest

Although it is so easy to get caught up in fully understanding our individual purpose, I don’t believe what we do while here on this earth is God’s main concern. I believe His main concern for us is that we know whose we are!

You may feel “stuck” right now and feel like you aren’t doing much of anything of value for God, but I am here to tell you that being a child of God is the greatest position you will ever stand in! Today, find peace and rest in believing you have purpose just by being that!

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Count it all joy!

2016 was a hard year for me and my family.

While juggling with babysitting a friend’s son who was a full-on ‘threenager,’ I walked through a really difficult mothering season with my own son who seemed to always protest sleep since he was born.

Every few months, he went through major sleep regressions in which he would wake up multiple times a night. Occasionally he would sleep through the night, but the night wakings always seemed to continue for weeks leading into months at a time, night after dreadful night. About a month before he turned two, He began waking three-five times a night. This routine continued every single night for six solid months straight. We prayed (and cried), we had other people pray, we tried a sound machine, essential oils, added extra cushion to his bedding, and followed all of the pediatrician’s advice and tips.

Nothing worked.

Needless to say, sleep deprivation was my constant reality and it hit me hard in 2016. 

From all of the hormonal imbalances and added stress from the severe, chronic sleep deprivation, along with taking on a part-time job in retail around the holidays, I experienced a chemical pregnancy and battled depression on and off for months. Our marriage was also under so much strain because I simply was not behaving like myself whatsoever and was on edge or emotional all the time.

Feeling depleted and defeated was an understatement. 

As a Christian, it felt like such a fight to hold onto peace, hope, and joy. Knowing that true peace, hope, and joy are not circumstantial, I really had to lean on God’s grace to get through every single day unlike any other time in my life.

I knew the Bible told me that I needed to “count it all joy” in the midst of these trials, but I needed God to give me eyes to see the why behind that and empower me to the how as well. 

We find in the opening of James’ letter to the tribes of Israel, after his initial greeting, he immediately begins exhorting and encouraging God’s people that the storms of life are not for no reason at all; there is purpose within the pain. 

James 1:2-3 says,

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces [a]patience.” 

NKJV

We know that as children of God, our Heavenly Father is allowing these trials into our life to strengthen our faith in Him, knowing that He is always working things for our good (Romans 8:28). James 1:3 reveals that this sharpening or testing of our faith ‘muscles’ will produce a patience in us, which is a fruit of the Spirit. God will often use painful, uncomfortable, and stressful situations to sanctify us. We can have joy knowing that these storms of life and difficulties are molding us into looking more like Christ. 

Ultimately, we must remember that our joy is not anchored in this life, but most importantly, in the life to come.

When our lives are filled with trials, we must be able to look to the future—to heaven—to find the joy that can soothe our weary hearts. Our joy must be based on looking to God and to the inheritance we will receive in heaven. This is exactly what Jesus did. He was able to endure the cross because of the joy that was set before Him (Heb. 12:2). We, too, must realize that the suffering we endure in this life cannot compare with the joy that is laid up for us in heaven.

To be able to count all suffering joyful, we must be able to trust God.

Are you struggling with that kind of confidence in God’s goodness in all things and finding comfort in His sovereign hand in your life, even in your suffering? Ask God to help you find joy in Him alone and to give you a heavenly perspective when you are tempted to allow the present circumstances to consume you.

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Walking Through Postpartum Depression

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

Isaiah 41:10, NLT

“Do you want to harm yourself or your baby?”

“No.”

“Okay. No Postpartum Depression then.”

That was the extent of my examination at my release from the hospital after my first son was born as well as at my six week postpartum check up with my doctor.

And since that seemed to be the only question I had been asked regarding the issue, I thought I was free and clear from the dreaded PPD.

But as the weeks went on, I began to experience behavior and emotions that did not seem normal. I was arguing with my husband (which we seriously seldom do) constantly over the most insignificant things and I felt like I had no support, even though that couldn’t have been further from the truth because my husband is the most supportive and selfless man I know. I would belittle him and snap at him at the drop of a hat. I was suffering continuously with anxiety attacks to the point of hyperventilation because I didn’t like who I was becoming.

My attitude went beyond the effects of the normal sleep deprivation you experience with a newborn- I felt out of control and miserable. When my son finally fell asleep, I was unable to doze off and would just stare at the ceiling until 4 AM.

I really noticed that there was a problem when I felt rage welling up inside me when my newborn would not stop crying, and I couldn’t console him whatsoever.

I then began to argue with God:

“When am I supposed to read my Bible? When am I supposed to have ‘quiet’ time with You? I need Your peace because I’m disconnected from the Vine, but how, Lord? How?”

Although I felt like a failure, somehow I knew that it wasn’t my fault.

I began to research hormonal imbalances after pregnancy and PPD symptoms. I discovered that there are more issues associated with commonly known PPD, such as PPA (Postpartum anxiety). The more information I read about the symptoms of PPD and PPA, the more I was aware of my behavior and the more I could control it, instead of it controlling me. As a Christian woman, I knew to also fight with prayer and focus on renewing my mind by listening to His Word day by day.

In addition to prayer, I reached out to PPD/PPA support groups and other Christian women who have walked through it. I also have been watching my diet because the food you consume also affects your endocrine system, the system that produces and releases hormones in your body, in major ways.

Everyone’s body and situation are different. Some women need to be put on medication and/or need to see a counselor.  Seek medical attention if you feel as if your symptoms are severe- you want to harm yourself or your baby. You are loved. You are not a failure.

Here is some advice that I learned during my recovery process:

Do not suffer in silence. Tell someone what you are going through. Don’t hesitate to ask for prayer or a listening ear. The enemy longs for you to stay in denial and allow your symptoms to worsen and drag you down into the pit of depression.
Get as much sleep as you can. Your brain needs to be recharged, so try to sleep 5-6 hours a night and nap when the baby does (this is really true) – the house work can wait. Your recovery is more important.
Avoid or limit caffeine. Try your best to cut back on your caffeine intake. I know, I know…I need my coffee! Unfortunately caffeine wreaks havoc on your endocrine system, so try to slow down or avoid how much coffee or soda you are drinking. Your body will thank you.
Laugh! Laughing keeps your endorphins up. Find a funny movie that you enjoy or watch silly videos on YouTube. Tim Hawkins is a favorite one for me!
Listen to the Bible or teaching. You most likely will not be able to sit down and do in-depth Bible studies or devotions like you used to and that’s okay. I have the Bible on my iPod and will plug it into some speakers and let it play throughout our house while I’m taking care of my son. Your mind must be renewed with the Truth so that you can combat the lies that the enemy tries to throw at you.
PRAY! Jesus has sent us the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter and Helper so don’t hesitate asking Him for comfort and help at all times. Sometimes all you can pray is “help” and help will come!

Like I said before, you are not a failure!

Not only have you experienced a drastic change in your body, your life is forever different with the new addition to your family. Walking through these hormonal/emotional changes is all about recovery. And thankfully, as a Christian woman, you do not have to walk alone. 

The Lord will help you and strengthen you. He is with you always and will see you through this! 


A version of Walking Through Postpartum Depression is also posted on theprayingwoman.com!

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