Not Just a Mom

 

A year ago, I was a restless stay-at-home mom with a standing three-week appointment to color my gray hair. Run ragged by the demands of a busy schedule, I found myself at the same time exhausted and bored. The Lord had gifted me with an amazing, hard-working husband and four beautiful children, but I wanted more.

Rewind twenty years. I was a fresh-faced college student, ready to take on the world. I filled my schedule with literature and theater classes to prepare me to teach high school English and Drama. I was mentored by the best professors, studied endlessly, and even taught and volunteered in Africa between my junior and senior years.

My whimsical life continued unfolding in my favor. I was offered a teaching job as a traveling English teacher in a poor, underserved area of Los Angeles. Rubbermaid cart of supplies in tow, I trounced from class to class like a hybrid of Mary Poppins and Jodi Foster in Dangerous Minds. Needless to say, I was thriving.

Then, as any magical gypsy teacher would, I met my husband. We married, and I had to let go of my dream job to move with him to his first Army station. I had plans to finish my Master’s in Education and continue teaching- but I was young, in love, and excited for adventure, so I chose this path without a second thought.

Early on, being a stay-at-home mom made sense. But my husband’s career was extremely demanding, and we lived far from any family support. Depression began to sink in. The days ran together, and every one of them felt the same. I lived through the motions of motherhood but felt shame for not enjoying the process. I poured myself out for the sake of my family ignoring the stir I felt to take time for myself. My cherished hobbies were pushed aside for lack of time.

In retrospect, I see I compromised my ability to mother well because I neglected to care for myself. But in the moment, all I felt was shame. So many women would give anything to stay home with their children, and here I was, in a deep pit of depression, barely able to summon the strength to get through the normal rhythms of motherhood. The Lord sustained me, but my soul continued to cry out for more.

Last year, I finally realized my depression feelings may not be original to myself. Fresh out of four years of counseling, I knew the Lord was finally opening me up to a new season. Instead of wallowing in my sadness and shame, I began to look for ways to be fruitful with them. I was shocked and relieved when I found Christian blogs about the struggle of motherhood. Soon after, the Lord gave me a kindred community of women who longed to walk in their gifts like I did. I was beginning to feel like myself again.

Books like Restless and Love, Skip, Jump encouraged me to ask the Lord about my giftings. What did He have in mind when He created me? Why was I here? Was my role simply to be a mom and accept it willingly, or was there more He was stirring in my heart to do? I had some healing, repentant conversations with my husband over those few months. The Lord was gracious to confirm my giftings when my husband told me he knew I was created to paint and write. We prayed together the Lord would open up doors and provide direction.

It came at the strangest moment. My husband was getting ready for work. He was brushing his teeth, and I was sitting on the floor in the bathroom. I blurted out, What do you think about me starting a blog? A place to share what the Lord is doing in my life, a place where I could be real about my struggles and encourage women that they arent crazy.He spit, out of surprise and necessity, I can see you doing that.The idea took hold, and it wouldnt let go of my heart. I burned out Google that day. I didn’t know a thing about blogging. I could barely navigate social media!

I took one step at a time: I was able to purchase a domain name, set up a simple WordPress theme, and watercolor my logo. I learned how to create blog posts, add graphics, and ultimately published my first post all within two months of neurotic googling. Finally,  I felt alive! I would get my kids ready for school in the morning, kiss them goodbye, and rush home to get my household chores done so I could write, create, and learn how to improve my teeny-tiny blog. I was finally feeling challenged.

I am recovering people-pleaser who struggles with wanting to be accepted, so when I realized I needed to publicize my blog, I was afraid to jump in.  Social media intimidated me- who would want to follow a stay-at-home mom new to the blogging scene? So, I prayed. And I signed up for Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Those early days were so rough and raw.  I was new to the process, but I was willing to grow and learn. Along the way, the Lord brought people through Instagram who started guiding me to new levels of growth in my blog. I joined the Influence Network and found a whole new world of Jesus-loving bloggers and small business creatives. I asked questions, started guest blogging for their sites, and asked for feedback on my blog. With their gracious help, I was able to rebrand my blog, refine my graphics, and develop stronger content.  

On the surface, my blog had nothing profound to offer. I dont have useful homemaking tips or a Pinterest-worthy wardrobe. I am simply a woman who is wrestling with her past, her insecurities, anxiety and fears. But I am also a woman who feels the deep calling to put herself out there to share the hard stuff with other women to let them know that it isnt just them who feels this way. I dont know where my writing will lead me, but I have found a community of women who simply want to know they arent alone in their struggles.

Through this process, God has reminded me that it is the process of stepping out in faith, being courageous enough to dream God-sized dreams is what mattered most. Even if not a single soul reads my work, the process of obedience is changing me. And I know He isn’t done yet.  Yes, I am a mom and wife-but I am also a disciple of Christ.

He has commissioned me to go out into the world and proclaim the gospel. I was hiding in my home, resigned to simply keep to myself, raise my kids, and pass through life unused and ineffective. But God saw more in me to give. In helping me to begin looking outward to a hurting world, He made me a better mom. He helped me show my kids how to use their gifts for the Lord, how to shine out of His work in their lives.  

I know my struggles are being redeemed. I believe that the Lord gave me my weaknesses, and my past in order for me to share my story to other women who may have walked a similar path. I want to show that God is active in all of our stories and empower women to walk in theirs. I dont know what your gifts and talents are, my friend. But dont sit back and believe the lie that you are not valuable for kingdom work. Just like me, you’re called to share your heart with the world through the gifts and talents He’s given you.

 

A New Little Change To My Blog

 

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Hello Friends!

Some of you may have noticed that I made a few changes to my blog along with my hairstyle. I decided to change the name of my blog to distinguish my writing from my new shop- A Shiny Reflection Print Shop. Even though the name has changed, my heart remains committed to shining God’s love which is at work in my life. My goal: reflecting the glory of His grace through the weak and broken places of my story.

If you have saved my blog on your browser, please be aware that my web address will permanently change in a few months.

Here is the new site URL:  www.beckikcampbell.com.

So very thankful for you!

Becki

Learning to Abide

 About a Boy

There was this guy. He had it all. Money. Looks. An adoring father.
Wearing a brightly colored coat, he had dreams, plans, and visions.
But he also had a bit of pride. A tattle-tale to daddy.
His brothers hated him.

Joseph, of the Bible. I truly have a soft spot in my heart for this man and his life. Something resonates in my soul when I read his story. (see Genesis 37, 39-50). It is a harrowing tale of immaturity, pride, hatred, jealousy, lies, accusations, promises, and redemption. The perfect plot line for a movie.

Joseph was 17 when we first meet him in Genesis. He was fresh out of the fields shepherding his father’s flocks. God had given him two specific dreams while he was out with the sheep. He couldn’t wait to tell his brothers and father.

Being the youngest, favored son, Joseph probably felt the need to validate his greatness by flaunting his dreams out for all to hear. The need to be admired, the desire to be looked up to, and confirm with proof that he truly had it all together.

Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it. //Genesis 37:6-7

Oh Joseph. Sweet, immature boy. You can’t help but cringe at his eagerness to prove his self-worth. The driving force to show he was great and important. God had great plans for him. This was evident to all who heard of these dreams.

BUT timing is everything.

God had more to do in the life of this ruddy shepherd boy. Greatness didn’t arrive in the fashion he had hoped.

In a jealous rage, the Lord allowed Joseph’s brothers to do the unthinkable. They removed him out from the protection of his father,  stole his splendor, and ultimately wiped any living proof of his existence. The dream of greatness was shattered when he was thrown into the pit awaiting the slave traders.

He was stripped bare. Humility was forced on him without warning.

But God was there all along.

He was there when Joseph entered the glitzy halls of Potiphar’s house. God was near when he earned the respect of his master. And even when Joseph was falsely accused, God knew. In jail with no hope of freedom. Forgotten by his fellow prisoners for freedom, but not forgotten by the Lord.

Joseph had a choice at the beginning of all of this: to fight or to abide.

He chose the latter, and I am so very glad that he did. Wave after wave of difficulties pelted that young boy. Under the watchful eyes of a loving God, Joseph learned how to abide under the pressure knowing that there was good to be found through it all. God’s timing ultimately proved trustworthy and Joseph was ready. God restored Joseph back into community and fellowship with his family. He raised the humble, broken, and accused man to a place of prominence and respect. The trials Joseph endured were for the purpose of maturing a selfish boy into a godly man of humility. He was refined through the fire of difficulties.

About a Loving God

All of us who are Christians have no veils on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord. We are transfigured by the Spirit of the Lord in the ever-increasing splendor into his own image. // 2 Corinthians 3:18

God’s ultimate purpose through the trials and difficulties of life is to simply conform us to the image of Christ. He will use whatever means possible to shape, mold, and chisel us into the likeness of his Son. Our heavenly Father will even use our weaknesses and imperfections to drawn us to our knees in utter dependency for his help and strength.

Why?

Love.

Recently, my daughter and I had spent the day at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. We meandered through room after room, drawn breathless by the beauty of these famous works of art. I was singular in purpose, even though we were slow in moving through the exhibits, focused on a specific destination. I have held a deep, deep love for the Impressionists: Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, and Pissarro.

At the end of the last corridor, the room opened up to a grand ballroom sized exhibit. Seeing these works of art up close was an emotional experience for me. I was having a serious fan-girl moment in that gallery. My poor teenage daughter was trying to act like she didn’t know me.

When I was able to collect myself, I was able to share with my daughter why I loved Impressionism so much.

When you stand up close to each piece, you are able to see a multitude of brush strokes. To the untrained eye, it can look haphazard and messy. Up close, the picture resembles nothing familiar. Colors blending in odd combinations, movement in paint texture seeming to have little to no direction or purpose.

But when you take several steps back from the artwork (I love to stand about 5 feet away) the picture takes on the artists intended form. The chaotic brush strokes show a movement and direction that highlight and draw your eye to beautiful sceneries. The details that seemed incoherent all now work together to create a landscape of purpose and form.

This is so like the Christian walk. So much like my life.

My life is just like a Monet painting. All I can see are the haphazard brush strokes of pain, failure, and trials. I sometimes wonder if there is a purpose or a plan in it all. The story of my life is woven with scarlet threads of discord and strife, bound together with victories and joy, and unraveled in places to allow His glory to stream through my brokenness.

The crushing pressure and intense heat of life feel more like a punishment than a blessing.

But if I were to take a step back from the emotions of my struggling soul and survey the course of my life so far, I will see a completely different picture. The chaotic mess of day-to-day life slowly fades into an intricate pattern of purpose and design. I will see the Lord’s presence, knowing that His hand is leading, guiding, and protecting me. A beautiful representation of grace and love created in my life.

 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. //Romans 8:18

My limited scope of understanding will remain in place until the day I stand face to face with my Savior in heaven. And just like Joseph, now in this season of life, I can choose to fight, doubt God’s goodness, or simply abide. I am learning to abide in the refining process of allowing him to change me into the image of Christ.

So which will it be for you?

Will you abide under the pressure?

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.  // 1 Peter 1:6-9 NLT

{you are for me- kari jobe}

 

Free From The Cycle of Defeat

When we admit our need for him, he breaks the cycle of defeat, infuses us with his grace, and empowers us to share our story to those around us.  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! // 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

It is so easy to repeat the cycle of regret, shame, and guilt when we struggle within the limitations of our own strength. Repeating the lies in our head of how we are worthless, defeated, and unable to be used by God.

In John 4:1-42, Jesus met the woman at the well who happened to be stuck in a pattern of defeat. This Samaritan women was married five times and was living with a man who was not her husband. When Jesus spoke truth over her life- love, forgiveness, redemption- she couldn’t keep it to herself! She ran back to the place where her life was stuck. Her village was changed when this broken woman proclaimed her redemption story!

Just like this Samaritan woman at the well, we too can get stuck in believing that our lives are not meant for greatness. We live in the ruts of our poor choices. We are in need of a Savior who meets us at our lowest moment and reaches out in love and truth. When we admit our need for him, he breaks the cycle of defeat, infuses us with his grace, and empowers us to share our story to those around us.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! // 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

Let’s live our lives radiating freedom! Let’s proclaim it from the rooftops! Let’s change this world by shouting out our redemption story!!

{redeemed – big daddy weave}

Lift Up Your Eyes


Dear friends, don’t look down! You may feel like your hope is fading. The disappointments and fear may surround you, but just like Jehoshaphat, drop to your knees and pray. Allow the Lord to hold your gaze with His loving hands. His peace will remind you He is in control. Let His word reaffirm your heart you that you do not have to be afraid and discouraged. He will go out before you and will be with you.

My mom said something to me once that has stayed with me all these years. She was waiting to pick me up outside my high school. When I got in the car she asked, “Why do you always walk with your head to the ground? You never look up. Is there something bothering you?” The crazy years of hormone induced melancholy. As a parent of two teenagers, I now understand her concern for me at that point in my life. I was so inward-focused. I couldn’t look up because I was so overwhelmed with my insecurities, my fears, and the drama wrapped up in being a teenager.

I wish I could say that I no longer walk with my head down. I still struggle. Life feels so overwhelming at times. Terror attacks, family drama, sickness, and death…I want to stay in bed sometimes with the covers over my head. Perhaps it is because I feel so deeply about everything. My heart hurts when I see and experience suffering.

Life is hard. Struggles, pain, and uncertainty are all around us. We can’t escape it. News stories inundate our Facebook feeds with endless wars and rumors of wars. We feel the pain hearing about a dear friend’s marriage crumbling before our eyes. We receive the crushing news that family member has cancer. We tell ourselves over and over to have faith; trust in the Lord; God works all things for the good. New difficulties, new trials come at us daily. It never ends. They close in on us to the point where we have trouble breathing.

We know the truth.

We know God’s word.

But it’s still so very hard.

Our eyes shift from looking up in hopeful expectation to drifting down to our feet with tired heaviness.

What does the Bible say about living in a broken, difficult world?

Wars, famine, plagues, persecuted Christians, relationship struggles, sickness, and disappointments were as common then as they are now. In fact, one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament reminds me of the world today. Have you read the story of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20?  I highly recommend reading the entire chapter on your own. Let me give you a brief run down…

Jehoshaphat was 35 years old when he became king of Judah. He loved the Lord with all his heart and he loved his people. He encouraged his people to have no other gods before the one true God. He destroyed the places of worship for the pagan gods. He was an amazing leader in times of great uncertainty. In this particular chapter, Jehoshaphat, confronted with the beginnings of a war with his country, realized that he was at an impasse. Three different people groups wanted to overthrow his leadership. Judah was outnumbered, surrounded, and they were terrified. Jehoshaphat, on his knees before his entire kingdom, cries out to the Lord. He recalled all the times God protected Israel. He remembered how the Lord protected them in the past. He shared his fears about the armies that surrounded them. He knew that all hope looked bleak for his people, yet this is what he said:

For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. // 2 Chronicles 20:12

God was so moved by this leader and his people collectively on their knees before Him. He heard their cries and responded:

 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’ // 2 Chronicles 20:15-17

Looking to God brings clarity and perspective when life feels too heavy to bear. God lifts up our head, gently asking us to make eye contact with Him as He speaks truth over our lives. He will fight the battle for us. All we need to do is keep our eyes focused on him.

Here are a few verses to remind you to keep your eyes on the Lord:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. // Psalm 121:1-2

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. // Psalm 105:4

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. // 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. // Hebrews 12:2

Dear friends, don’t look down! You may feel like your hope is fading. The disappointments and fear may surround you, but just like Jehoshaphat, drop to your knees and pray. Allow the Lord to hold your gaze with His loving hands. His peace will remind you He is in control. Let His word reaffirm your heart that you do not have to be afraid and discouraged. He will go out before you and will be with you.

Oh, how He loves you!

Lift your up eyes, help is on the way!

{hillsong united – we will not be shaken}

The Nearness of God

God is so good and so patient with us. He truly wants us to know that He sees us as His treasure. He doesn’t judge us when we don’t have our act together. He wants us to see these mini-victories and rejoice with Him over them. I saw a glimpse of His heart. Just as I rejoice with my kids when they learn something new {and usually celebrate with dessert} He rejoices with us when we let go and let Him take the lead in our lives. I am thankful that He doesn’t just stand back and let us sort through the craziness of life on our own. He is with us to give us strength, courage, and hope. We don’t have to fear what looms in the horizon. He calms the storm. He steadies our heart, and He will always be near.

I have to take a break. I am knee-deep in a sludgy mess of once frozen food. Meals I had lovingly planned out for my family are no longer edible. Meals I had hoped to pull out in a moment of need… now rotting in black trash bags at the curb. (sigh) I didn’t have time for this today. I didn’t plan for this to happen. I wasn’t ready. Instead of reading that great new book I bought as a reward for completing my home projects, I am wiping out a stinky fridge that reads 107 degrees. Instead of using the money in our savings account for a special little trip with my husband, we have to buy a new refrigerator. I am sad and I am discouraged. I just didn’t want this to happen today. // excerpt from my journal 

Do you wake up with a sense that a storm is on the horizon? That your day may need a little bit more prayer to make it through. I had a day like that a few months ago. I woke up with a horrible headache; the kind that makes your neck, shoulders, and back ache. The flu. If that wasn’t enough, I wasn’t able to get my kids to school on time. Our garage door was intermittently working. By refusing to open, it has made our car its prisoner at the most inopportune times. The repair man arrived later that day with bad news in tow…the part is not available for two weeks. Homework craziness, my husband had to work late, and I forgot to make my crock-pot dinner. It was 6 o’clock and everyone was hungry. Out came the cereal boxes- dinner of champions. Cheers all around!

Thinking that the day was turning around, I was crushed with what happened next. Upon pulling the milk out of the fridge, I noticed a warm blast of air on my face. Something wasn’t right. I touched the milk container. Warm. In fact, everything in the fridge was feeling warm. In a panic, I ripped open the freezer. The popsicles sat in their soggy cardboard box in lovely liquid form, sticky and dripping with condensation. The salmon I bought as a treat for this weekend- now a warm, slushy mess. In a hurried frenzy, we pulled things out of the fridge hoping to save something…anything. Too much time had past, it all had to go. After cleaning up as much as we could emotionally handle; we all went to bed.

The wreckage was still there the next morning. The day after the storm and I was on clean up duty. Defrosted stray blueberries were creating purplish puddles on my recently cleaned floors. The smell of curdled milk lingered in my hair. A bucket of brown soapy water, wadded up paper towels, and the various drawers and miscellaneous fridge parts cluttered up my countertops. Trying not to let my tears overwhelm me, I asked God to come near. As I was scrubbing out my freezer on my hands and knees, with my nose plugged from the putrid smell, I didn’t want to miss out on His purpose through all of this. I didn’t want to continue to feel sorry for myself or to continue to stay upset. I wanted hope. I wish I could say that a great verse popped into my head, or a voice spoke to the quiet part of my soul as I scrubbed away. Nope. I simply turned on my favorite worship music and pressed through and finished the clean up.

It wasn’t until later on in the evening where the Lord tied up the difficulties I experienced into a beautiful little gift for me. A framed verse that I received from a women’s retreat was sitting on my little bureau in my bathroom caught my eye. I often read the verse displayed in it while getting ready, but on this day the Holy Spirit illuminated that verse in such a way that it cast a wonderful glow on the struggles I encountered recently. I added my commentary to the verse in parenthesis.

When you pass through the (stinky putrid) waters (from your defrosted freezer), I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers (of emotions), they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire (discouragment and fatigue), you will not be burned; the flames (of frustration) will not set you ablaze.// Isaiah 43:2

God was near. He held my hand and walked me through a difficult moment in my life. He kept my focus firm on His promises without me even knowing it. He steadied my heart through the ups and downs. He put my feet upon a rock and kept my stance firm. I know in the scheme of things this situation really wasn’t life threatening, but God showed me His presence in a real and tangible way. I didn’t “lose it”. I didn’t get hopeless or completely off track. My world was a bit out of control. I may have cried a bit, but He held me close. I can’t explain it without fully disclosing all my weaknesses, but usually in these situations I sometimes act like Chicken Little and worry that the sky is falling. I didn’t this time. I had a mini freak-out moment with my husband…but God came near and stepped in. It was an “I’m making you more like me” moment. His glory was revealed through my usually weak, over-emotional heart.

God is so good and so patient with us. He truly wants us to know that He sees us as His treasure. He doesn’t judge us when we don’t have our act together. He wants us to see these mini-victories and rejoice with Him over them. I saw a glimpse of His heart. Just as I rejoice with my kids when they learn something new (and usually celebrate with dessert) He rejoices with us when we let go and let Him take the lead in our lives. I am thankful that He doesn’t just stand back and let us sort through the craziness of life on our own. He is with us to give us strength, courage, and hope. We don’t have to fear what looms in the horizon. He calms the storm. He steadies our heart, and He will always be near.

{nearness- bethel music}