20130507-221425.jpg Today, I am honored to share my sweet friend, Julie, with all of you for our "Moments of Motherhood." Julie writes at Come Have A Peace and has just published her eBook, Expectant: 40 Devotions for New and Expectant Moms. I've asked Julie some questions about motherhood and I know you will enjoy her answers!

Tell us what we can expect from EXPECTANT. EXPECTANT is a collection of 40 devotions for new and expectant moms that uses transparent stories and biblical truth to offer hope and wisdom to women transitioning into motherhood. If you have dreams and hopes of what mothering will be, your heart is already Expectant.

Women enter motherhood in a variety of ways, so EXPECTANT shares encouragement for every mom as she grows into being a mother. That may mean she grows a pregnant belly or a home study for adoption, but she will grow. By talking about real issues like changes in your body, your marriage, your work, and your schedule, EXPECTANT helps new moms think through necessary transitions to find hope and confidence right there on the changing table or playground.

Like spending time with a loving, honest mentor over coffee, EXPECTANT uplifts women. The devotions are organized into sections about you, other grown-ups, the baby, and your new normal. Each one includes words from scripture to grow your heart, as well as questions to get the conversation started with a friend, mentor, or dad-to-be. It’s formatted so that it would be easy to do with a partner or small group of moms.

Each journey into motherhood is unique, but every mother’s heart is expectant.

How is motherhood different than you expected?

I knew I would love our children, but I never imagined how much I would enjoy our children. Every season has been amazing, but moving through the changes of childhood, along with the accidents and surprises, has kept me prayerful. Being a mom is great for your prayer life!

Being a mom has stretched me more personally than I ever expected. God uses motherhood to expose my weaknesses, my failures, and my sin. While I’ve been watching our kids grow, God has been growing my heart and life.

What are some of your favorite motherhood books?

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp is foundational. Sharon Jaynes’ book Being a Great Mom, Raising Great Kids really challenged me when I was deep in the elementary years. I was so inspired to make the most of time with our kids. Vicki Courtney’s 5 Conversations books for boys and for girls gave me direction as JoHanna and Jacob were growing, especially since I never had a brother. I needed the wisdom from those authors!

One thing I’ve learned as a mom is that I should never stop learning, so I’m always excited to find a new book or resource to make me a better mom. If I ever think I’ve got all the bases covered, something changes and I’m sent to my knees, searching for wisdom!

Your website is called Come have a Peace. How do you find peace as a mother?

I’m convinced God means for us to live out our days experiencing His peace in the practical, real life, relational stuff of our days. For a mom, it seems impossible sometimes, but we aren’t meant to stay in heavy, discouraged places on our mothering journey. We’re meant to find peace, and Jesus said we find it in Him, (John 16:33). Mamas need that message all day, every day, and often through the night.

God has used major transitions, distance from family, and multiple crises in our lives to show me my “peaceful mom’s heart” does not depend on my circumstances. I’ve become a “pray all day” kinda mom who cries out often and openly to the only perfect Parent we know, God Himself. I’ve learned to give myself a lot of grace and let myself off the hook of expecting perfection, refusing to compare myself to moms around me. (Remind me of that, will you?) And I give our kids a lot of grace, trying to keep the “big picture” in mind as God unfolds His plans for them. He’s doing a great job with them!

The greatest complement I receive is when our kids have friends over and they say, “Your house is so … peaceful.” Love that!

What was most difficult for you during the "young years?" How did you grow as a mother?

When I delivered our first baby, it was quite a finale to our pregnancy! Nothing happened the way we anticipated. I was left with fear and disappointment, and it took a long time for me to feel whole again. Feeling fragile was not only hard, it wasn’t what I expected.

I always wanted to have children, but I also loved being a teacher. Making a transition to spending the day with the baby at home was not as easy as I thought it would be, and before long I found myself overcommitted and worn out. I was challenged to take a close look at where I found my identity and where I placed my trust. Motherhood turned out to be as much about growing me as growing our children.

It seems like women in their early twenties are discouraged these days to become a mother so young. What type of encouragement do you have for young couples ready to become parents?

No one is every fully prepared to be a mom, but giving yourself a chance to grow and mature in wisdom helps you be the best mom you can be and want to be. God is able to do extraordinary things with moms who start as ordinary women. If you wait until you’re perfect and have a well-padded portfolio and house with a fence, you might wait a long time.

A wise mentor once encouraged me not to rush through the sweet years of just being a couple. Strengthen your oneness during your pre-child season, and you’ll be better parents when the time comes. As you enter parenthood, you’ll find that it’s a lot about growing yourselves while growing your family.

I’m thankful my mentor slowed us down; God’s timing is unique for everyone. Seek Him together. The most important part of the decision about when to start a family is unity between the mom and dad-to-be. It’s never worth it for one anxious spouse to push the other forward. Your hearts must be longing and expectant together.

Will you be overwhelmed if you start young? Every mom is overwhelmed at times, regardless of age, but God will be there to Father you lovingly into an experience more amazing than you ever imagined. He has a tender place in His heart for moms, and He knows all you hope and all you anticipate, (Isaiah 40:11). He is the one who has grown your mama’s heart to be so EXPECTANT.

Stop by the EXPECTANT page to find out more and to purchase your copy for $4.99 on Kindle or for use on the Kindle App.

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