Kendra is a friend of my daughter Charity’s. We knew Kendra’s husband James from the time he was born. My daughter had talked about what a sweet and tender mother Kendra was and I had been reading her Facebook Posts and thought she would make a lovely Inspiring Woman. I’ve only met Kendra twice but found her to be a genuine young woman with a heart for motherhood.
Life With Kendra
A Little About Me
My name is Kendra Joy Collins. I am a stay-at-home-mommy to Ruby Jean, who is two years old, wild, strong-willed, and beautiful, and to Flynn Alexander, who is 5 months old, and just about the sweetest chunkiest baby around.
I met my husband 8 years ago at an outdoor leadership development program in Haliburton called Prosago, and, though it was anything but love at first site (think romantic comedy when the couple start out really strongly disliking each other), we have been married for 5 years.
I love music and have been playing different instruments since I was 6, and I have always found that music speaks directly to my heart and soul. I have always loved animals and have been blessed to work in that field for a year before I landed my dream job, being a Mommy.
A Typical Day
Right now my life consists of juggling housekeeping, potty training, schedule keeping… ect. With a two-year-old and a 5-month-old, my days are hardly dull or easy. Ruby loves to climb, and get into everything that is not her toys, even though she has a whole room dedicated to her and her entertainment. She also loves her brother, and there is rarely a moment when I am not telling her to be careful and not love him so aggressively. But he adores it and loves the attention she gives him.
I honestly have a hard time remembering what it is like to be without them both, and though the days and nights are long, the years are short. I try my hardest to make the days memorable and fun, even if that means letting a toddler “help” me with dishes. I am also taking an online Maternal Support Practitioner ( aka Doula) course, which makes Thursday bedtime just that much more crazy.
My Daily Struggles
It’s kind of ironic that my middle name is Joy because one of my biggest struggles right now is being joyful. I recently moved back to Sault Ste. Marie after spending almost 3 years in the Niagara Region. I moved from Oshawa to Sault Ste. Marie, 5 years ago when James and I got married, and before that, I had lived away from home during the summer since I was 14 and able to work at camp, and then when I was in school.
To say the least, I am not a stranger to moving. When we made the move to Niagara Falls 3 years ago, I left a job I loved and was 6 months pregnant.
But we packed up a U-Haul and headed south full of excitement for what the next adventure held for us.
Ruby was born in March, and when she was 6 months old, we moved 30 mins away from where we were living to a house we bought. I had a bit of sadness leaving the house that I had brought my baby girl home to, but I was excited to start life in our own house. Two years later, not quite a week after Ruby turned two, we welcomed Flynn into our lives. Then suddenly out of the blue, an opportunity came up for James. An opportunity to move again, but this time back to where we had started our lives as a newly married couple.
The thing was, it was a huge move with two little ones, and it meant leaving the community I had been building full of wonderful people from the church we were attending and other mommas. I had been attending a moms and tots group that was feeding my soul in almost every way, and other mom friends that I connected within a playgroup.
It also meant moving away from my parents who were conveniently only 2 hours away and willing to come and help when I needed it. Needless to say, I was not interested in making a move at that time. But interviews were done, a job was accepted, and boxes were appearing.
The whole time I was praying and hoping something would stop us. We had a week to pack up and move, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support from the friends we had made. By the time moving day arrived I felt numb, and when I did feel anything, it was heartbreak. After going to church one last time to say goodbye to the people who had embraced us and adored Ruby, and a tearful goodbye to a close friend in the parking lot, we were on our way. God had opened doors for us, a house we could move into right away, people on the other side waiting to help unpack and friends dropping off food for us.
I was having the worst time being positive, especially when there were people around me who were happy that we had moved back.
I would get frustrated with their excitement since I was not happy or okay with this move and was already missing my community.
The first day I was alone, was a rough one. I was heartbroken and unmotivated. After Ruby came up to me, hugged me and said sadly, “Mommy sooo sad..” (which prompted more tears from me) I decided to put on some Christian music on youtube. A song, from my now favorite band For King and Country, called Choose Joy came on.
Some of the lyrics are:
It spoke to me and reminded me of something I learned so long ago in Prosago while on a canoeing trip in the Florida Everglades. While canoeing, it was cool to see the water on the top being blown one way against us, but the current under the surface pushed us and helped us get to where we needed to be.
What I realized was Joy is similar to that current. It is unseen, and I may be sad or angry at the time, but Joy is a deep unseen emotion.
However, the thought had never dawned on me that I had to choose to have Joy help me.
I had been paddling against the current so to say, and focusing on the rough looking water.
Joys In My Day
So after struggling a bit with what I knew God was telling me, I decided that I would consciously and intentionally choose joy throughout my days.
I don’t necessarily want to go for a bike ride, but James loves biking and wanted to spend time with me, so instead of being miserable and complaining the whole bike ride, or not going, I decided I would enjoy the ride and have a fun date with my husband.
I hate doing dishes, but if I put my toddler in an apron, even though we both end up soaked, and the floor usually ends up with more water than the sink, it’s a fun memorable time.
I still have moments that I wish we hadn’t moved, and miss our community down there, I am working on building a community here, and with God’s help, it hasn’t been as hard as I thought it might be. I was given the middle name Joy for a reason, and I am now determined to live up to that challenge.
As I mentioned before, I have started a Doula course and I am hoping to start my own business. A doula is basically an experienced guide who supports a woman or couple before, during and after birth. I will be trained to provide information, emotional support and physical comfort for a labouring mother, as well as encouraging and advising her husband or another support person on how to help her.
Someone, after hearing a brief explanation of what I will be doing, likened it to if you have never flown before, but end up sitting beside someone who has flown before and can assure you that the noises you hear are normal.
After having two of my own children, one with an epidural and one without any medical intervention, I have found out I am very passionate about birth, and when I was blessed enough to be invited to the birth of my friend’s second child, I loved being able to support and encourage her.
I want to help women have a good experience when it comes to birth, and I also hope to help girls who may not have that support available to them.
If you know of anyone interested in this kind of service, I would be glad to talk to you or them more about it.
*Contact me through my Facebook page: Beyond Measure Doula
Moments with God:
Choosing Joy is not always easy, but God is an unending source of joy, and he definitely gives us the ability to choose joy in our lives. My children are huge sources of joy for me throughout the day. but I have to choose to put down my phone or take a moment away from folding laundry to dance with my two-year-old, or bouncy my little boy on my knee. Though I thank God for my jolly jumper because after two or three bounces my arms are killing me due to his adorable chunkiness.
Remember, as well, that it is okay to not feel okay. I have learned that lately too, though that’s perhaps for another time. Joy is underlying and God gave us the ability to feel emotions other than happiness all the time, and I think it’s very healthy to be able to show those emotions.
With God’s help, I hope I can inspire others to choose joy.
The situations you’re in may not be ideal, but remember that God can make good come from a bad situation (Romans 8:28) and He has a plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11).
Also, go check out the song Choose Joy by For King and Country, if anything it will brighten your day and make you want to dance ( and with how uncoordinated I am, my dancing usually inspires joy).
Would you like to read a little marriage humour? Click on this short and sweet post: Marriage Tip #1 : Warn Your Husband Before You Dye Your Hair
Ladies, are you in need of a day away to relax and have fun? Our Inspired: For Women By Women conference is just a few weeks away (October 2Oth, 2018.) Click: HERE to buy your tickets.