Getting a divorce can take a toll on your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health leaving you feeling broken and burnt out. The good news is that you can rebound from a life challenge such as this and start thriving again. In today’s episode of Momma's Motivational Messages, Kelly Foster discusses her road back to finding herself and living in her purpose. …
What do you do when the garden you planted blooms and then turns to decay? You get to know yourself, find a new patch of land and start planting again. That’s what today’s guest, Kelly A Foster, found herself doing after she ended her marriage and the ministry she built with her husband. But starting over was no walk in the park. In fact, Kelly had to take three years off so that she could focus on becoming healthy, healed and whole.
In our conversation, Kelly shared her unfiltered views about her life, starting with her incredible journey from being a Social Worker to following her calling to the ministry. Kelly talked about overcoming personal struggles and embracing new challenges, and she cautioned listeners against becoming so emotionally invested that you lose yourself. Kelly said that sometimes we get so codependent in our relationships that we don’t know where “I” stops and “you” begins. That was her experience in her marriage.
You’ll want to listen to this episode so you can learn how to overcome those hurdles that crop up in life without explanation, and how those very hurdles can help you in your journey as you start over and learn to see your imperfections as assets.
The importance of forgiveness, grace and persistence when you’re trying to bring your dreams to fruition.
Kelly mentioned taking FMLA if you need to pause in order to get your life together. So What is FMLA ? The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
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Peggie Kirkland: 0:00
Today we have with us Kelly Foster, author, speaker, advocate, I know that you're going to be inspired and informed by what she has to share with us today. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Kelly, welcome so much to Momma's Motivational Messages.
KELLY FOSTER: 0:25
Thank you, Peggy. I am so excited to be here with you today and excited to jump into this conversation.
Peggie Kirkland: 0:31
So Kelly, what can you share about your background with my listening audience that would allow them to know who Kelli Foster is.
KELLY FOSTER: 0:44
So I started out in school as a Social Worker. And, I literally just wanted to help people, I found the career that I felt like would give me the most freedom to be able to help people. And from that, I started a ministry over six years later. And again, continuing the same passion. I'm very passionate about people becoming healthy, including myself, and connecting with one another based on our common needs. And so that's really my background. I'm also a mom of three beautiful little girls. They are my world. I've also had the opportunity to create an online ministry called Imperfectly His, and that's where I spend the bulk of my time these days, helping women become healthy, whole and healed.
Peggie Kirkland: 1:31
That sounds awesome. So what kind of a journey was it to make the transition from being a social worker to being a minister?
KELLY FOSTER: 1:42
The journey wasn't that difficult. I consider these professions to be one in the same. Again, with my desire and passion to help people; it's the same as in ministry. So, from a practical perspective, with social work, and then transitioning to a spiritual perspective with ministry.
Peggie Kirkland: 2:02
Would you say that it was a calling that got you into ministry? And and if so, what do you mean by that?
KELLY FOSTER: 2:12
I would absolutely say it was a calling, I would, say the calling began before the calling, if that even makes any sense; just that internal desire, and I know there are some listeners that may also have that as well; that internal desire to help others. It started inside of me, and it manifested itself in the form of studying social work and studying how to help others overcome and it moves into ministry. As my faith began to grow, I wanted to activate it, so to speak, by just engaging in more spiritual development.
Peggie Kirkland: 2:48
And as part of that spiritual development, I see that you became a church planter. Can you explain what a church planter, or who a church planter is for anyone who's unfamiliar with that term?
KELLY FOSTER: 3:05
A church planter is simply an individual or individuals that choose to start a church from scratch. It is a very tall task, and it is very similar to starting a garden; you start with nothing, and you have to develop the principles. You have to develop the who, what, when, where, why of all of that. And I had a unique opportunity, at a very early stage in my marriage, to begin a church from scratch. And that is the essence of church planting.
Peggie Kirkland: 3:34
So you said that you had a unique opportunity, is there anything you wanted to share regarding that opportunity?
KELLY FOSTER: 3:40
Yes, so at the time, I was married, and I was newly married, and my husband at the time was also in ministry. This is before I sort of accepted my calling. And he had been in ministry for about 10 years at that point, and it felt a calling, as we kind of talked about earlier, to begin a church. And so this was, like I said, the early stages of our marriage. So, there's lots of things that was going on at the time, lots and lots of changes. But we did sort of embark on their journey at the beginning stages of that marriage.
Peggie Kirkland: 4:15
Now, when you talk about starting a garden, or starting anything, there are lots of challenges involved. As matter of fact, this summer, I sorta tried to start a little bit of a garden with a group of friends. So we came together at the beginning of spring and we had a planting party. So everyone came, well not too many because we were still under COVID restrictions, came to my to my yard and we had a bunch of seeds, and we we each decided what particular vegetable we wanted to grow, and we planted them. And then there was a lot of excitement, when in about three days, we all started to see shoots. And we were sending photos back and forth and having a great time because all of a sudden, we felt like farmers. And then about a week or so later, those shoots shot up. And then they hung over. They were drooping. And we didn't know what to do because we weren't professionals at doing this. How did you manage to go through that planting as it were, to get to the point where you actually have a ministry that's recognized as such?
KELLY FOSTER: 5:42
Oh, my goodness, Peggie, you just said a mouthful, and I think it's so key to sort of point those aspects out. It does; it takes an entire, as we say, it takes a village to raise a child, it takes so many different components to put together a ministry of any kind or any size. And so you had all these moving parts that you're speaking about; you know, you have someone that helps with funding, and someone to help find a space, and someone to help, you know, the background work, and you've got to put a board together, you've got to find the bylaws, you've got to create the Constitution. It was a very challenging time, especially because this was the very beginning of my marriage. And, I was actually pregnant at the time as well. Wow! Yeah, quite a bit of brand new things happening, and this caused friction in my marriage; you know, wearing multiple hats; you know, having a spousal relationship, but then also having a relationship where this person is a leader, not just in your family, but in other families as well. And so this was a very challenging time. So, I would say persistence, you know; there was a lot of persistence. There was a lot of grace and forgiveness during this time to help sort of bring these these dreams and these plans about, but I cannot deny that there were also very many challenges that persisted even beyond that season.
Peggie Kirkland: 7:10
Would you care to share any of those challenges, and how you actually dealt with them?
KELLY FOSTER: 7:19
So, I would say, my husband at the time, we are no longer together, but he was going through some very personal things. And, you know, sometimes things don't come out until as we say, the funk hits the fan. And that's kind of what happened in our situation. And so he was dealing with some internal sexual struggles, that did not go away because again, when you're dealing with challenges internally, and things that are not helpful to you, and a part of your healing and your growth, they will eat away; they will eat away at the things that you try to grow almost like this garden that you talked about. You know, when you don't nurture, you don't grow that garden, we can throw as much fertilizer on it as we want, but it is probably going to die. And so, although this was an amazing opportunity to begin this church, we ultimately ended up having to close this church, because of some of the internal struggles that my former spouse at the time was dealing with that, again, caused a sort of eating away at the ministry. And so it was an opportunity, one of the first opportunities I had to take a step back from whatever my goals or my thoughts or my ideas were about the way I thought my life should be, and really turn introspectively and go, "Okay, here we are, we've done all this digging, we've done all this growing, we've done all these things, and something can come in and almost attack it overnight. And you're kind of back in a place of from scratch; you know, you're looking at the dirt again. And so how do I rebuild? And for me, rebuilding comes from taking a look inside of myself. So at the time I was still married. These challenges that spilled over from the church into my home, and the church was was now going to close, but I needed to figure out what I needed to do in my own personal life. And so that really began a healing journey for me that is still going to this day.
Peggie Kirkland: 9:24
Wow! You've said quite a bit there. For anyone who is listening, and they themselves are going through challenges, when you have taken the time, when you've taken the energy, when you've taken the emotion of planting and growing and it turns to decay what do you draw on to keep going, or who do you draw on to keep going?
KELLY FOSTER: 10:00
Yeah. That that is such a such an amazing question, Peggie. I love questions like this, because they make me think. For me, my faith is a major part of why I continued at that time to persist. And even to this day, there are sometimes no explanations for why things go wrong and why things fall apart. Sometimes it just happens. You know, no amount of planning, no amount of crossing your "Ts" and dotting your "Is" can change life and the challenges that might come. But for me, I do rely on my faith in God to keep me grounded and stable and healthy. And so sometimes you may not have all the answers, and sometimes things, a lot of times, they just don't make any sense. But there is hope. And I hold firmly to that belief, you know. Our troubles are temporary, they're momentary, and we definitely usually have hills to climb and things to overcome. But they do not last always, and we can work through them.
Peggie Kirkland: 11:05
So for any member of my audience, who's wondering right now, how is Kelly doing? Let me ask the question, "How is Kelly doing right now?"
KELLY FOSTER: 11:17
Peggie, it has been a wild ride. I'm doing great. I really am, but it has been a wild ride. I did end my marriage at the very beginning of this year, actually 2021. And for any friend or family that I've talked to about this, and I've actually shared this with my audience as well, it is no joyous thing to end a marriage. It is usually always a tragedy and a very sad thing. However, for me, I was in a situation where I knew I'd given it my all. And when I say that, I want to be very clear that if a relationship requires you to step outside of yourself and give more than your 100 percent, and then you are doing too much. And so there's a balance of putting in work into a relationship. And then sometimes you can go beyond that, especially for if anyone relates to me, I can have perfectionist ways, and I want everything to be just right and just so, and I had a motto, you know, in my marriage, I will do everything I can. And sometimes, because marriages and relationships in general, they take two people. You can't do everything for yourself, as well as the other person. The other person has to also put in their time as well. So, I did make a decision to leave that marriage at the beginning of this year. It was kind of a long process. And again, like I said, I started this healing journey, many, many years before, about five years before actually ending the marriage. And, I realized, I got to the point where I said, "Okay. I accepted a few things. Number one, you can't change other people. And number two, I can change myself." Those were two pivotal truths that began my own journey. And without those, I would not be where I am today, and be able to speak to you Peggie and say, I am doing well. with every fiber of my being, of truth, I am doing well, because I decided to take care of myself.
Peggie Kirkland: 13:30
Oh my goodness! I feel all of this in every bone of my body. You said so many, so many nuggets that you offer there. For anyone who's listening. And frankly, in any age group.One of the things you said that really struck me is that you had given your marriage your all, and that if you're giving more than 100 percent, it's time to step back and think about that. Yes?
KELLY FOSTER: 14:04
Yes. Absolutely. Um, you know, marriage isn't 50/50. It's 100 /100. And that's, that's kind of my viewpoint. And 100 percent doesn't mean I'm giving my entire self to the point where I'm broken and I believe that's over 100 percent. I think there's a way that we can operate healthily in our relationships to where we can take care of ourselves; we can manage our emotions; we can deal with our own mental health and put in the work to keep a relationship going. But when you find yourself drained and stressed and you're disconnected from your own feelings and emotions, you're going beyond, because there's nothing more important than staying grounded in your own truth and understanding who you are. And sometimes, we get so codependent in our relationships, that we don't know where I stop and you begin, and I experienced that
Peggie Kirkland: 15:03
Girl, you're just dropping so many really, really deep pieces of ...these are beyond nuggets. I don't know what the next level is, but just wisdom that's coming from the heart. And what you said reminds me of a quote I heard some time ago that said, "You can't tell someone how to love you. You observe how they love you, and decide if you want to participate?"
KELLY FOSTER: 15:37
Peggie Kirkland: 15:39
It sounds like that's the journey that you were on. And so, how much did you have to call on your faith to get you to a point where you feel your head is now above water? You don't feel as though you're drowning in all of the scenarios that you've talked about? And I know you're probably only scratching the surface. How do you come up for air?
KELLY FOSTER: 16:14
Oh, goodness, you know what? I think it's most important that we allow ourselves the time to process. And so, like I said, I love having everything perfect and figured out. And so once you realize that your marriage is failing, you go, Okay, I gotta get out of this thing. I gotta fix it up, I gotta, I gotta heal." But healing is not fast. It's not linear, and it's not simple. It's very complex. And so I think the biggest thing for me, has been, and this is a journey of two, two and a half years almost, we're going on of being separated, and healing, allowing myself the space to heal, and allowing myself to be comforted, comforted by my faith, comforted by friends and family that know me and love me, and that I can trust and lean on; allowing people into my life like therapists who actually know what's going on in my life, because I don't know about you, but I've gone to therapy before, and I haven't told my honest truth. And I've just walked in and walked out and came out the same person. But really being broken, I think, is where I've had to really rely on my faith most. And, you know, my faith teaches me that when I am weak, Christ is strong. And so instead of being afraid of being broken, and not having the answers, and being down and out and crying, and and not and feeling like I'll never get over this, I allow myself to do that. And some of those days were dark. In some of those days, I was alone without a person, but I believe that God was with me the entire time. And so on a day to day level, I may have been crying one minute, excited another minute, and crying again. So things were up and down and back and forth. But I stayed, I stuck with it because what I didn't want, and I still don't want is, and this is my this is my heart for anyone that's going through and healing. Don't be so excited to get over it, that you miss going through it, and then you have to go back to it. And that's kind of a mouthful, but I think we're all some of us are just in a rush, you know, to get past some things, and I'm over it and I'm done, and it doesn't bother me. And it does. It does bother you, and sometimes it's okay to be weak. And sometimes it's okay to not have the answers because you can allow your faith to move and grow inside of you at that time and you can get better, but we can't get better if we ignore it. Right? What what's the saying we can't heal what we don't feel.
Peggie Kirkland: 18:54
Ummm. We can't heal what we don't feel. And I understand what you're saying, and the emphasis that you put on taking some time to heal. And you know, one of the things that my audience tunes into hear is how they can take better care of themselves so that they demonstrate love for themselves. Now, you mentioned therapy, and therapy is something that I think is much more... it's more talked about now. It's more in the forefront of our news when you have people like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles taking time away from something they spend their entire lives training for, to say, I need to take care of my mental health. I think that's such an important. I think it's such an important part of this conversation. I have to tell you that it is not something that I I grew up knowing about; it's not something that people in my generation really talk about. I remember when I was going through some real challenges on the work front. And I had a boss who came from another planet, to put it nicely. But it really made me question all of the skills and expertise that I knew I possessed. And at that time, I did seek out help from a therapist, who, unfortunately was not very helpful. So after a few months, I gave it up, that's for a whole other interview on how one selects a therapist, how one determines if this person is helping them. But it did give me an opportunity to come to terms with the idea of sitting in front of someone, and basically, as we would say, telling them your business.
KELLY FOSTER: 21:04
Peggie Kirkland: 21:05
And so that is something that we have to become more comfortable with, as you say if we're going to be in that space of healing. In thinking about healing and self-care, that's one of the things I would like to talk with you about, because when you're going through all of that stuff, how do you have, or do you even have the presence of mind to take care of you, so that you can be better for the children you have, for the people who count on you and depend on you. And the other thing is, when you're in the kind of position that you were in, people don't see you as needing help, because they are coming to you; they're unburdening, and they're leaving it at your door. You say whatever you need to, you feel their pain, they feel better, and you're left there. How do you take care of all of that stuff?
KELLY FOSTER: 22:14
Yeah, those are, those are great questions. Um, you know, the first thing I would say is when you're going through, and I call these crisis periods, you know. We're all in the ebbs and flows of our lives. And so sometimes you have these mountain top seasons where you know, things are going well, and you're fine. And then sometimes you're in the middle of a crisis, and I'm always the first to say, hey, know, your season, know your season, know if this is a time of rest because you are in the middle of a crisis. And that's totally appropriate. Peggie, I started my online ministry,Imperfectly His about six years ago, while I was in the middle of this marriage, and going through all of these things. And I decided that I needed to take a step back, and that's exactly what I did. Now, it sounds nice now that I'm saying it, but I was really upset at the time, I knew exactly what I needed to do, as far as stepping back and not doing, you know, just cutting down on my hours and just really going silent. But I was upset about it because I knew if I took a step back, that would mean, you know, I couldn't move forward, I couldn't go forward with the ideas that I had, I had books that were on my Google Drive, sitting and waiting and ready for the next steps. I had ideas and thoughts and things that I wanted to do. I've got goals, you know, I'm a very driven person. But at the time, I knew. You can't be in this season, Kelly, you can't do what it is that you need to do, which is taking care of your family and taking care of your children, and still operating at 100 percent. So I took that time off. I took about three years off, and this was tough for me because I continue to watch other colleagues grow in their ministries, and grow in their businesses. And I couldn't. You know, it was tough, but I will say this, you know, hindsight is 2020 I'm so glad that I did it. This was exactly what I needed. So the first thing I would say is rest. Take time, step away. If you have the time on your job, take the leave of absence, I'm talking extreme rest here. Take your time off. FMLA is going to be... take it. You know your situation, and honestly, you know what you need. And when we're in tune with our bodies, and we know what's going on we know the next step. No one needs to affirm it for you. No one needs to validate it, you know exactly what you need to do take that time, because healing doesn't start with doing a bunch of work and signing up for therapy. It starts with pausing and assessing your situation and going hey, this is what's going on; this is what needs to be sort of fixed and I don't mean that in an easy way, but this is what needs to be dealt with. And so when we start from that place, and we really figure out what what it looks like to rest and scale back, and focus on our priorities, which is yourself and those immediate priorities like your family, your children, that's when we can begin to go, okay, I've got that down, or I feel a little bit, you know, I'm not drowning this much. Now what what do I need? What do I need to feel better, to get better? For me, I made a commitment many years ago to stick through counseling because I saw the benefits. And once I saw the benefits I was sold, I've definitely experienced not having the right therapist. And you know what, don't waste a second, if you get there, you feel like the person is not going to fit, you are probably right. You don't have to give it seven sessions. You can take your business another place. There are so many different types of therapists that offer different strategies, once they could connect and relate with wherever your story is, find those people that I always say, these are your people, find your people. And and don't start with just one because it's like it's a relationship, you know, you need to find someone, not only that has the skills that you'll need, but you want you don't want to have to explain yourself for every single thing when you go into a session. You need someone that understands your background, maybe they can personally relate to it. Or maybe maybe they're familiar, they've worked with other clients like you. So you don't have to do all that groundwork every single time. It's okay, the benefits are for you. What do I need to continue to move forward and grow?
Peggie Kirkland: 26:30
Kelly... Kelly... Kelly... said a mouthful. Another mouthful. Okay, well, um, for anyone who is looking for a therapist, which I am, again, because I figured they're things I really want to get off my chest, you've heard some of the tips that Kelly shared about that in terms of finding yourself a therapist, if you feel that that's what you need at this point in your lives. I love what you said about just pausing and assessing the situation because I think when we when we're in the valley, we just want to get out as quickly as we can. And we don't take the time just to be still and know. And I think you've said that that's a really critical point of starting that journey; that healing journey.
KELLY FOSTER: 27:30
Peggie Kirkland: 27:32
Look, Kelly, I could talk to you for another hour or so. But, I think we're coming to the end of our interview. And so I want to ask you, if there's one thing you wanted listeners to know and remember, if nothing else, from this interview, what would that be?
KELLY FOSTER: 27:53
You know what I want listeners to begin to see their imperfections, as assets, all of the things, these things that I talked about these challenging moments, divorce, being a single mom, starting over, taking a step back from your ministry or your career, none of these are fun things. These are not the topics of cocktail hours and conversations that we want to have. These are things we don't talk about, these are things that are kind of hidden and stuffed. But what I want to challenge you to do is to see these things as assets, these are the things that are going to show you the areas that you want to work on personally, these are also the things that you're going to relate to others with because, again, your story isn't just about you. It's about helping someone else out. And so sometimes getting outside of ourselves, it actually helps us and helping someone else. And so don't look at these, these challenges or these crisis that come up in your life and think oh, I'm counted out. It's never gonna happen for me, I can't get up from this. These are actually assets. These are things that can move you and promote you to the next level. But it's just a question of will you allow it? Will you allow it? Will you allow yourself to be broken enough to say I'm not perfect; I need some help, and I can get help. So that's the challenge and the thing that I want to leave listeners with today.
Peggie Kirkland: 29:16
As much as I said that we were at the end of our interview. I want to take that back just a little bit. I've heard in imperfection and imperfectly and not being perfect come up a few times in what you've said. And I was really taken by that title Imperfectly His. What does that mean? Why did you choose that?
KELLY FOSTER: 29:40
That is been sort of my my calling, you know, I want to walk in the truth of who I am and I am totally imperfect. I am absolutely totally imperfect. But I am also, I'm a child of God. I am His and no matter what I go through, no matter the hardships that I have, the highs or the lows, nothing will change that. So I am his, but I am imperfect. I am imperfectly His.
Peggie Kirkland: 30:09
On that note, Kelly, I have to tell you, my heart feels so full right now with all of the wisdom, the knowledge, the love that you've just shared with the audience. It's been an absolute pleasure having you on this show. I want to thank you for taking the time to share your personal stories with us, and your passion for ministry, and your passion for people. I really think the audience has a lot to benefit from this. So thank you so very much.
KELLY FOSTER: 30:44
So excited about this conversation, and glad that you had me on today.
Peggie Kirkland: 30:47
So if anyone wants to learn more about you or to reach out to you, how will they be able to get in touch with you?
KELLY FOSTER: 30:58
Absolutely. So I can be found online and all the information resources. Imperfectly His can be found at Kelly A. Foster.com. I also have a brand new book that was just published in June, that can also be found there as well.
Peggie Kirkland: 31:14
Okay, and all of that information will be in the show notes. So you don't have to stress yourself out about trying to write it down. I will make sure that you have all of that in the show notes. Kelly, thank you so very much. It's been my pleasure.
KELLY FOSTER: 31:31