Emily Rose began writing short stories and poetry as a little girl, entered the blogging world in her early 20’s, and recently began the revision process of her first book, Yielded in His Hands (eLectio Publishing). She enjoys being a stay-at-home momma while freelance writing for various websites and publications. You can find her work on iBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com where she is a staff writer. Emily and her husband Paul also blog at www.wewouldratherhavejesus.com where they minister to those who have been deceived by false teaching by sharing truth and exposing the error found WOF/NAR/Hyper-Charismatic movements.
When I am passionate about a subject or I want to know more about an intriguing topic, I thoroughly enjoy researching it. In fact, at one time, a friend’s nickname for me was “Brit,” short for Britannica Encyclopedia.
I can get frustrated when I discover conflicting information in my research, because it is difficult to know the real facts. I want the truth to be evident and clear. To be completely honest, that is how I have felt through much of the last year. With all the chaos close to home and around the world, it seems as if life has become a constant pattern of conflicting information and “unprecedented” daily news.
It seems every day that the information, data, statistics, and facts are ever-changing. Often, opinions become the driving force and facts are put in the backseat.
We want to believe the best in those who are presenting information to us, but sadly, it has become increasingly more difficult to trust what we hear (and even see) happening around us every day. It is easy to see how all of this can put many people in a state of confusion.
Confusion usually causes us to feel anxious and panicked. Decision-making becomes almost impossible when we are confused, and our thoughts can ping-pong all over the place. We become restless and lacking peace. This is not how believers are supposed to live, considering the One whom we follow, our Savior, has the title “Prince of Peace.”
1 Corinthians 14:33a also tells us this about God: “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”
As Christians, the God we worship does not ever bring confusion. He calls us to a life of peace. That does not mean life will never be confusing, but the Lord does not want us living in a constant state of confusion.
God is the creator and source for peace. He is also the source of ultimate truth. Through Satan, the author of confusion and the father of lies, the world can lie to us every single day and try to bombard our minds with conflicting information, but we know that we can run to God when we feel overwhelmed and find His perfect truth in His Word.
No matter what is going on around us, even if it seems like everything is falling apart, we must remember that God holds the entire universe in His hands. He is completely sovereign. Nothing passes through His hands by accident. He is in total control and has a great plan regarding all of it.
In the midst of confusing situations, we don’t have to know every single fact. We can rest in the truth that we serve Truth Himself. We must remember to keep our eyes fixed on the God of peace and know that His perfect peace is available to us every single day.
These last several months have been so chaotic and overwhelming for so many reasons. It is difficult to know who or what to believe when it comes to the current events in our world today. Many of us have had to fight off confusion and anxiety almost every day because of these current events. But we know Your Word tells us that You are not the author of confusion, but of peace. As Your children, You want us to look to You when we become confused and overwhelmed because You are Lord of all and sovereign over all.
Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; 2 from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, 3 for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
(Psalm 61:1-3, ESV).
I sat in the recliner, with my journal on my lap, and tears streaming down my cheeks. I knew that if I could just write out my frustrations (just like countless times before in my life) that I may be able to find some clarity and it may help to calm the swirling thoughts that were circling around my mind and causing me to feel so utterly overwhelmed with everything going on in my life. I have journaled for as long as I can remember. As a writer, I have always enjoyed being a storyteller, and often, especially after becoming a Christ-follower, journaling has helped me externally process my very own stories with God.
Before I began writing, I grabbed my Bible and thumbed through the book of Psalms. Suddenly, the first three verses in Psalm 61 caught my attention:
“Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy” (1-3, ESV).
I read these three verses aloud a few times, and tears continued to flow. My heart was faint, but the Lord was strengthening me as I looked to Him, my ever-present help in time of need. My weeping turned into a time of gratitude that I was not alone in my suffering; God was near to me in that moment. Instead of the overwhelm of my anxiety from what I was facing, God’s peace began to now overwhelm my heart as I shared with Him what was causing me so much worry and stress. Suddenly, I was able to see more clearly, and my problems seemed so small standing next to God Almighty.
When our heart is overwhelmed with the cares of this life, we must take the time to cast them upon the Lord (1 Peter 5:7). Like Psalm 61 tells us, we are to cry out to God, for He alone is our protection and refuge against the chaos of this life. Jesus Christ, our rock, is our firm foundation when the ground beneath our feet feels shaky. We can run to Him for safety and trust that when the waves crash in around us, He will be our fortress in the midst of the storms of life.
Father, I am stressed out and overwhelmed. I cry out to You knowing that you care for me and that You do not want me to find safety in anything else but You. I run to You and look to You to bring a peace that passes all understanding for You are my fortress and protection against the storms of life. Thank You, Jesus, that You are a firm foundation. In the midst of chaos and troubles, You are constant and You are unshakable. I do not build my life upon sinking sand, but You, my rock and my redeemer. Thank You for being near to me when I am worried or afraid. I can always lean upon You and trust that You are always working things out for Your glory and for my good.
For the majority of my life, I struggled to feel truly loved by my dad, who was an on-again, off-again recovering alcoholic. Because of that missing piece, I longed to find love and constantly sought out approval and attention from boys, giving myself away piece by piece- first becoming entangled by pornography, then slowly moving toward sexual encounters beginning at the tender age of twelve and going on until I was about 22 years old- a whole decade of my life.
I knew John 3:16 by heart, but I didn’t fully understand it. I couldn’t shake the religious upbringing that taught me only about a vengeful, angry God who would smite me down if I were not perfect. I still felt like I had to work for forgiveness and love. That performance-driven mentality affected all areas of my life. No matter how hard I tried to be perfect, I never felt good enough.
I reached a point where I stopped trying and just lived. In college, I made plans to run away to Los Angeles. I would be an actress and prove to the world my worth, talent, beauty and charm. But, one Sunday morning, only a couple months after I graduated, my eyes were truly opened to my selfish and sinful existence.
I hadn’t been to church in years, but one morning I went with my mom and sister. During the worship service, I began to experience this deep conviction that I was living a reckless and selfish life; I had been running away from God. Immediately, I knew I needed to repent start running toward Him, back into the Father’s arms. In that moment, I realized where I truly belonged. Right there, with hands lifted in worship, and tears streaming down my face, I repented of my pride and rebellion; I told God that I didn’t want to live this life on my own anymore, and that I wanted to surrender to His plan.
But only a few short months after this change began in my heart, I received some traumatic news- someone murdered my father outside of a strip club. His lifestyle landed him in the wrong crowd, and it tragically cost him his life. Although I lost my earthy father, I discovered a Father’s love that is stronger than anything I’ve ever known.
Since that time in my life, God has completely healed me, transformed me, and shown me His overwhelming love as my Father, who will never leave me. The most powerful revelation I received once I started seeking God as found in the first chapter of the book of John.
“But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be[h] children of God, to those who believe in His name,13 who were born, not of blood,[i] or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man,[j]but of God” (John 1:12-13, HCSB).
What a powerful reminder for us! Jesus died so that we could have unending fellowship with the Father. When you fully embrace Jesus, the Father embraces you. Jesus gave us the privilege of being called God’s child, and He made a way for us to have access to the Father. No what matter what you have done, you can never outrun His love. You are never too far gone for His reach. He will rescue you and use you for His purpose in the earth. Receive Jesus and the work of the cross and learn to stand in the most important position you will ever hold in this life- a child of God!
Father, help me learn to be satisfied with Your love above all else. You are the only One can satisfy my longing to find love and acceptance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
When a tragic, unexpected death happens, do you shake your fist and proclaim “Not today, Satan! We will make the devil pay!” or do you trust God’s ways are higher than yours and say like our Lord, Jesus, “Not my will, Lord, but Yours be done” and trust that He will use that trial for your good and for His glory?
Suffering is a reality for everyone on this earth, including believers. To deny that, is to deny reality of the fact that we live in a fallen world and Christians are not exempt from the results of it. Remember, the Apostles suffered greatly and many of them died horrendous deaths as martyrs. But it was all for God’s glory and a part of His sovereign plan for their lives.
James 1:12 shares us a beautiful promise about suffering:
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (NIV).
God will use all things to conform us to the image of Christ and often in the life of the believer that includes pain and suffering. In times of suffering, we can pray for God’s mercy to come and cry out for His help in time of trouble, yes, but we must remember Jesus promised that “in this life, there will be trouble” (John 16:33). Yet, we know that He overcame the world for us and we will one day taste of that victory in full when we meet Him face to face!
That is why we must keep our eyes fixed upon the hope of eternity and not on this life. And that is why faith in God is so important because it is the rock on which we stand when trials and the storms of life come because they will. We must remember that our faith in Him means that because of the cross, we are forgiven and now we can have the hope that He never leaves our side and walks with us through the valley and the mountain top experiences and we have the ultimate hope that there is a glorious eternal life that awaits us in Christ Jesus. That is our anchor…the hope of eternity. There is a day that awaits believers where all pain and suffering will cease. But until then, we continue to declare “And if not…He is still good” and trust our life in His sovereign hands no matter what comes our way.
Father, please help us find your mercy and goodness when trials and the storms of life come our way. If we are prone to grumble and complain, may the Holy Spirit convict our hearts and remind us to be thankful for your promise of eternity because of the cross. May we look for opportunities to comfort those around us who are suffering as well, so we can help hold each other up. We live in a fallen world, and although we cannot escape suffering, we know that heaven is our home and that the crown of life awaits those who stand firm in the faith, trusting that you have overcome the world and there is no reason to fear. We give you praise and thanksgiving that you will never leave us alone to walk through suffering alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Here in America, we are very blessed to be able to not only freely read the Word of God, but many Christians in this country personally own several Bibles, especially if they have been a believer for many years.
I received my first Bible as a gift when I became a member of my church in high school, which just so happened to be a Bible specifically designed for teens. Sadly, I did not dive into the Word of God much in high school or college, but it remained on my shelf nonetheless. It wasn’t until I graduated college that the Lord began to stir a hunger in my heart for reading the Bible.
My second Bible was also a gift; this time from my future husband. In fact, he gave me that Bible on Christmas morning and by nightfall, I received another special gift from him- asking me to be his wife.
A few years later, as I grew in knowledge of the Bible, I was interested in owning another translation, so I purchased my next Bible this time. I have owned that Bible since October 2011…
…I cannot believe it has already been nine years!
But as you can see, it is definitely showing wear and tear after all these years. Recently, I have been finding pink flakes of the cover next to me on the pew at church, which reminds me of something the great British preacher, Charles Spurgeon, once said:
“A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to a person that isn’t.”
I truly have been needing a new one, but I was hesitant; There is something special about a Bible that is starting to fall a part like this. It means it has been well-loved. This pink Bible holds a lot of precious memories and testimonies of the times in which the Lord carried me when I did not think I could go on.
But funny enough (or providentially enough), the decision to move forward with a new Bible was actually made for me recently- I received an email from PersonalizedbBibles.com asking:
“Would you be willing to receive a Bible from us and review or mention our website?”
I, of course, said yes!
As I browsed their awesome selection, it didn’t take long for my eyes to catch this amazing NASB Thinline Bible with large print (Lord knows I need it as I get older 😉) in my favorite color…TEAL! 🙌🏻
God’s timing is so perfect, especially considering I’m entering a new season as a mom of now three boys…
…this beautiful Bible is another great reminder to me to pick up the Word!
Oh, how much I need the truth found in these pages to strengthen me as I learn how to juggle life with a newborn and two other little monkeys who I am homeschooling for the first year as well!
Not only does PersonalizedbBibles.com offer a wide selection of Bibles, both by style and appearance to different translations, you also have the option to add imprinting such as a personal name, study group name, or a short inspirational inscription to personalize your Bible and make it special unique!
Unfortunately, I was not able to get imprinting service on the particular Bible I chose due to prior imprinting issues with the cover texture, but I am so extremely happy with my new Bible nonetheless!
(I just wanted to make you aware of this in case you pick the same Bible, or one with a similar texture). There are some examples of what an imprinted Bible looks like below if case you are interested in choosing the imprinted option to personalize your Bible.
If the Bible you choose does not have the same cover texture, then you can personalize your Bible for only $7.99 for 1 line or $14.98 for 2 lines! Just start by picking a Bible and then follow the instructions on that page to add imprinting.
You can add up to a maximum of 25 characters and spaces in total for EACH LINE of text.
Here is an example of a Personalized Bible:
Your inscription will be imprinted on the bottom right corner in gold or silver-colored foil to match the Bible printing and page edges.
Snap Flap Bibles are imprinted across the flap if there is insufficient room on the Bible. Zippered Bibles are usually imprinted on a small gold or silver plate which is fixed to the Bible.
If the Bible has a colored hard or paperback cover we will imprint on a small silver or gold plate and stick that on the Bible.
Names on some imitation leather Bibles, particularly European Leather are branded onto the Bible without using foil – this matches the publisher’s printing on these surfaces:
The default type is mixed case 18Pt Goudy script:
(The actual length of this name on the Bible = 1 5/8″)
If you prefer all capitals please type the name in capitals and we will use block capital type:
(The actual length of this name on the Bible = 1 7/16″)
Imprinted Bibles are normally shipped on the same or next business day following your order. If PersonalizedBibles.com cannot ship your order out within 48 hours, the company will contact you.
A huge thank you to PersonalizedBibles.com for reaching out to me and gifting me this wonderful NASB Thinline Bible! I am truly excited to use it in my daily reading as I grow in my walk with the Lord and discover more about our great God, knowing that His Word helps keep my life from unraveling.
If you are in a similar situation as me where your Bible is falling apart (but your life isn’t 😉), then I highly recommend that you visit PersonalizedBibles.com! Tell them Emily Rose sent you! 😊
*I received this Bible free as a blogger in exchange for a review of the product. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
For me, one of the hardest things during pregnancy is not so much the morning sickness (although that is pretty rough). It’s not the weight gain, back aches, swollen ankles, insomnia, constant potty breaks in the middle of the night, or not being able to bend over to pick anything up without making weird noises. Although all of those things can make life a struggle, especially when you are chasing around two other littles, the most difficult part for me is the last few weeks of pregnancy…
…and not knowing when the day is going to be.
It takes a level of trusting God and leaning into His sovereignty like no other major life event. He is God. We are not. He is in control of all things. And we are not.
And birth is one of the greatest reminders of that…if you are allowed to let your body naturally call the shots and don’t have any kind of medical interventions, of course, and that was my goal this pregnancy just like my previous one with my son, James.
My hospital experience with Isaiah, my first born, was a bit traumatic- my water unexpectedly broke at 37.6 weeks at 1am, contractions stalled and no amount of walking was helping jumpstart labor, so the doctor approached us with the concern that the longer we waited, we risked infection for the baby, so Paul and I prayed and decided to take the doctor’s advice and be put on Pitocin to help my body along.
I will just say this: 12 HOURS ON PITOCIN AND NO EPIDURAL was NOT my idea of a natural childbirth, but God gave me the grace and strength to endure those 25 hours from the time my water broke to the time I was holding the baby boy who made me a momma.
God has an amazing way of taking a painful experience and making something beautiful out of it, and because of the chain of events that happened the day Isaiah was born, the Lord brought restoration to an area of my life that was broken. You can read more about that here.
Although difficult, I was thankful for a healthy baby and a safe labor and delivery at a hospital, but from that moment on, I knew I wanted my next labor and delivery to be quite different, so I chose to deliver our next son, James, at a birth center under the amazing care of midwives instead of an OB.
To be completely honest, Jesus brought so much redemption and healing with that experience, and I just remember being so filled with joy after I looked at my amazing teammate of a husband in the eyes who was literally my anchor during it all and scooped up my sweet prince into my arms. My water broke to initiate labor this time too, but there was no delay in stopping that boy from being born; In typical James’ fashion, he came into the world like a rocket in just under two hours after arriving at the birth center…as their 1,000th birth since they opened as a facility. You can read more about that birth story here.
When we found out we were pregnant with our third in January 2020 (after only trying once…God is good!), I didn’t hesitate to decide where our next baby would be born. I called the birth center and set up my first appointment where the boys were able to hear the baby’s heartbeat, and since the birth center had added some new ultrasound equipment since James was born, we were also able to catch a glimpse of the little peanut growing in my belly. Everything looked and sounded great! What a precious memory for me to experience with my two oldest before the whole world shut down just a few weeks later.
That is the word that comes to mind when I reflect on my entire experience with our third son, baby Jude, as you will see.
Just a few weeks after my initial prenatal appointment, I received a letter in the mail from our insurance company- the birth center was no longer contracted with United Health Care.
My heart sank and tears began to well up in my eyes. I don’t want another hospital birth! I cried to Paul. Especially during a global pandemic! I searched and searched the internet to find another option.
What about the birth center at Mercy Hospital? I thought. Two of the midwives at the birth center worked there! This would be great!
Sadly, it was out-of-network with our insurance.
What about a homebirth? Yes, that settles it. I am having a homebirth.
If you know my husband, Paul, you know how that was out of the question. He works with data in the medical community for a living and calculates risk for fun. You will never find us on vacation on a cruise. “It’s a death trap! Like being in a giant steel coffin in the middle of the ocean…no thank you!”
But on a serious note, looking back, I see how God had a specific plan for this pregnancy and how He ordained every step of the way even at 14 weeks along. I was able to find a family physician that I had been wanting to see as my own primary care doctor when I was postpartum with James, but she was only accepting patients who were currently pregnant, as she also delivered babies. This doctor was a major contributor of advocating for more natural childbirth at Mercy Hospital and helped their birth center get off the ground before she opened her own practice. She also trained as a midwife’s assistant before beginning medical school. AND her practice was in-network with our insurance! And not only would I get to see her during my pregnancy and postpartum, I would finally have a primary care physician for the first time since I was in college!
My pregnancy was a rather smooth one once we made it out of the dreaded first trimester nausea and fatigue, and I truly enjoyed getting to form a relationship with my new doctor, but every so often, I would get frustrated that I had to go the hospital route, especially as COVID restrictions kept changing.
As we approached my “guess date” of September 19th, I began to have a similar prodromal labor experience as I did with James. Contractions began to form patterns and they would intensify. I never knew if “this was it” or if the contractions would simply keep me awake through the night only to fizzle out. This in and of itself is pretty exhausting and stressful, especially when others’ schedules are impacted by your personal judgment and being terrified that you would run out of time and give birth in the car on the way to the hospital.
The week leading up to Jude’s birth was extremely stressful and emotional for Paul and I as our childcare plans continued to fall through and change last minute in addition to having one false alarm that resulted in a hospital trip mid-day to get “checked.” My doctor wanted me to do laps in the hallways to see if things would progress, and because of COVID policies, I had to wear a mask at all times and walk alone without Paul only to find out that I hadn’t progressed at all. Let’s just say I was so over it, that it was hard to hold back the tears by that point.
Contractions continued to come (and go) at various times in the day and night and finally, the day after my “guess date,” my water broke just like my other two pregnancies….hat trick! 😉 It happened around 7:30pm as I was climbing into the van to go grab Paul some White Castles. We will remember that story for a long time!
Since it was a Sunday night, Paul’s parents were able to come to the house to stay with the boys with no issues at all and on top of that, my mother-in-law Becky was off work the next day. Something I was so worked up and anxious about, ended up working out with ease.
I had been listening to sermons that entire week about not being anxious or worried because my Heavenly Father knows what I need and will provide. I simply just needed to trust Him. I’m so glad I prepared my heart with those teachings because I had no idea how much I would need to trust the Lord as I prepared to give birth to our sweet, baby Jude.
As we were admitted into the hospital, we were blessed with an incredibly kind and gentle L&D nurse who helped us remain peaceful; We were almost certain she was a believer. Suddenly as I got up to go to the restroom while contractions were still pretty mild, the nurse notice a unique coloration that indicated that the baby passed meconium in the womb. She calmly informed us that NICU staff had been notified in advance so that they were ready at the time of his birth just in case they were needed for an emergency situation.
Contractions continued to get stronger and I settled into position (which I discovered with James’ birth) where I get “in the zone.” Paul was an amazing support by my side, holding my hand and encouraging me through each wave of contraction. My awesome doctor arrived just as I began to make vocalizations to handle the pain and she was also encouraging me through the contractions and giving me sips of water. That is usually unheard of when it comes to OBs who mostly just show up at the very last minute to catch the baby.
My doctor was only in the room for less than hour by the time I felt the urge to push. I switched to an upright position on my knees with my arms around Paul to bear down as I began to push, which seemed so much more difficult than I remember with James. I heard the doctor tell me that the head was out, but then I kept wondering why it wasn’t over yet.
What I didn’t know was that Jude’s shoulders were stuck in the birth canal.
Suddenly, a swarm of nurses were around me as they turned me onto my back, and everyone did all they could to help Jude out. It was a slow night, so there was plenty of staff to come to the rescue.
Finally, there he was, but instead of instant skin to skin like I was promised, they rushed him to the table across the room where Paul met them. The NICU staff worked extremely fast and precise to intubate him to clear his airways because he did in fact swallow meconium and wasn’t breathing. As I was waiting to hear his precious little cry, I just kept praying “Please, Father” over and over again as the nurses by my side were telling me to calm my breathing. Finally, Jude cried, and I threw my hands up in worship and kept saying “Thank you, Jesus.”
One of the reasons, his birth was so difficult was because he was very unexpectedly two pounds heavier than Isaiah and James. Jude Samuel born at 1:39 am on 9/21/2020, and weighed in at 9.6 lbs- my doctor was absolutely shocked that baby fit inside my little belly. Most often, babies that big result in a C-section, but by the grace of God, Jude entered the world naturally and because of God’s grace and mercy and the amazing staff at Missouri Baptist Hospital, he is alive and healthy.
Once the doctors and nurses were able to stabilize his oxygen levels enough before they took him to the NICU for him to receive the care and observation he needed, the nurses swaddled him up in a blanket and put a hat on him for a quick family photo op. I was still trying to grasp what had just happened that I could barely smile. As I look at the photo now, I see that Paul’s eyes were welled up with tears and Jude’s gaze was locked on his momma.
A couple days after we came home from the hospital, Paul needed to process what he experienced in the whirlwind of events of Jude’s birth, and he shared with me that Jude was in fact limp and lifeless for what seemed like an eternity. I know it was a scary several minutes for me not knowing what was happening, but the reality of this news that Paul shared with me hit me like a ton of bricks. So instead of thinking about how awkward I look in this first photo with our third precious son, I will forever remember how I had no idea what God had just done, but I praised His name, knowing that He was faithful to hear my cries and saved my son.
I cannot truly put into words the gratitude that my heart has felt these last two weeks as I continue to process those extremely intense moments leading up to Jude’s birth and the moments of seeing my little man with all the tubes and wires on his tiny body when I nursed him for the first time in the NICU (of which his stay was brief at only five hours total). Truly, the Lord was so incredibly merciful to us that day. What the enemy meant for evil, God turned it for good, and our sweet Jude’s life was spared all for God’s glory.
I can’t help but see God’s providential hand from the beginning of my pregnancy with the birth center dropping our insurance so that I had to give birth at a hospital instead, to the very end with my water breaking to initiate labor to see that there was meconium in the fluid so that the NICU was ready and on-hand just in case.
Nothing with God is coincidence or happenstance; He is sovereign and in control of every detail in our life, guiding our every step. His work in our lives is providential through and through, and He causes all things to work out for our good and for His glory.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
After this life-changing experience, this verse is having a profound impact upon my heart as I continue to reflect on the goodness and faithfulness of God.
We serve a mighty God who is completely sovereign over all things in our lives. Because of that, He can be trusted.
Thank you, Lord, for our newest arrow, Jude Samuel, who will one day be sent out into the world to tell others of Your great love and share the Gospel wherever You send him. May we raise Him to testify of Your goodness and give You the glory You deserve, all the days of his life.
I sent this pic to Paul on Tuesday after a four hour non-stop cluster feeding session with our newest son, Jude, (#boymom 😊) who officially entered our Father’s world on September 21st, 2020. Because of some issues at birth (which I will share at a later date when I am able to sit down and write the birth story), we had to unexpectedly stay an extra night in the hospital. So Paul headed home to be with our older two boys and relieve my mom who needed to be at work the next day. I am so thankful to have had the care received at a hospital this time around (my last delivery with my middle son was at a birth center and it was supposed to be for this pregnancy/delivery too, but they dropped my insurance when I was around 12 weeks pregnant…but nothing is coincidence with God) for a number of reasons I will share later, but I am happy we are finally now home. My heart is full.
It is rather mind-blowing to me that not only were Isaiah (our oldest) and Jude born around the same time of year (just about 2.5 weeks a part), they have strikingly similar facial features, and what is even more obvious to me is their similar temperament.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that because of a traumatic birth experience, severe sleep deprivation, and my history of struggle with anxiety and depression, I was not handling any of it very well.
But because of my severe lack of understanding of the sovereignty of God and horrendous Word of Faith beliefs, I never told a soul, not even admit it to myself that I was struggling. You just don’t do that because once you say it, it becomes reality (**Cough** Law of Attraction **Cough**Cough*). There’s power in your words…power to speak life and death, I was taught. This, of course, is taking Proverbs 18:21 out of context (and not even quoting the whole verse) to mean we can create every outcome in life with our words.
Friends, that is not what that verse means, but that’s another topic for another time.
And how could I forget to stand upon my “life verse” in times of struggle… “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Taking Philippians 4:13 out of context to mean that I am unstoppable…a super human if you will… because “I am a Christian! I am a child of God…I am more than a conqueror in Christ! I am to walk victoriously in all areas of my life! I am blessed and highly favored! When Jesus died of the cross, He took away ALL sin, sickness, and disease! I am healed and whole. Nothing missing, nothing broken. Anxiety and depression are just attacks from Satan and he has no authority in my life…I bind this anxiety and depression in the name of Jesus! I am not weak!”
But the thing is… I am weak!
I know to admit that now probably more than ever because of these last (almost) six years of motherhood.
This particular passage of scripture in 2 Corinthians has carried me through so many dark nights of the soul, and I find myself clinging to its truth in my current season:
“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Not only have I learned to admit my weaknesses so that I can boast in the strength and grace of Christ, I have learned a whole new level of dying to self as I lean into the high (demanding) calling of motherhood.
This morning as baby Jude stirred for a feeding and my body feeling the ache of the aftermath of my third natural childbirth and only 2.5 hours of sleep as I write this, I read these comforting and timely words in an email from Well-Watered Women:
“When the mornings begin to cool and the leaves start to change, so does my heart. The heat of summer is passing, and any sign of a chill in the air causes my heart to soar and my tummy to crave a nice cup of coffee. The changing of the season brings new life to my soul and my home—but at the same time, it ushers in death.
Once-green leaves begin to turn colorful hues before falling to the ground and losing all signs of life. The leaves that previously shaded us from the sun become a crumpled heap we step on. This necessary death brings about new life in the world as well as in our souls.
Death brings new life for believers as well. Death to self brings life in the Spirit (Romans 8:9–11). Death to sin brings life in Christ (Romans 6:6–8). Jesus offers us the invitation to die to ourselves in order to embrace true life in him (Luke 9:23). This year, let the changing of the seasons be a physical reminder of the importance and beauty of death in the Christian life. Death is not the end for the follower of Jesus; it’s the segway to new life in him.
May we die to live. May we lose to gain him—and him alone—as we remember that in the changing of the seasons, he never changes. His truths never fail and they never grow stale. They never falter or become less vital. Rather, his Word sustains us when every leaf falls and the cold of winter comes. His grace gives us hope and enjoyment in every season.”
What a powerful reminder of who our God is…never changing even when the seasons change!
So I will end with this…
As we enter this Fall season, and I enter a new season of motherhood that brings me to my knees in the middle of the night and causes me to die to myself a little more each day, I fix my eyes on Jesus and boast of my weakness and my great need for the Lord.
Jesus’ grace is sufficient today and in every season.
“This year, let the changing of the seasons be a physical reminder of the importance and beauty of death in the Christian life. Death is not the end for the follower of Jesus; it’s the segway to new life in Him. May we die to live.”
When my husband comes home from work, immediately after greeting me and the boys and changing out of his work attire, he goes straight for his favorite chair in the whole house, the recliner, to kick up his feet. His workday is over and it is now time to relax and rest for a little while before dinner is ready. He is a “worker bee” by nature, so he has had to practice this routine of relaxation and remind himself often that it is important to take breaks. Sitting down is a position of rest.
The Bible tells us that Jesus, our great High Priest, is now seated at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 10:12, Mark 16:19). Before He had taken His final breath, he declared “it is finished” (John 19:30). He accomplished all the Father had asked of Him and paid in full all debt of sin.
Jesus is now sitting because the work is finished. In His graciousness, He is now forever making intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25), but that is not an act of striving. The end has already been written- He has won the victory for us!
Did you know the Bible also says that we as believers are now seated with Christ? We can find that truth in Ephesians 2:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”
Because of Christ’s finished work on the cross that poured out God’s great mercy upon us, we no longer have to strive to earn God’s love or forgiveness. We are forgiven! We are God’s beloved children! This truth will echo into eternity as we see and experience His rich grace and love towards us forever.
We have been given an inheritance in Jesus, our salvation, and abundant life forever joined with Him. We are seated in heavenly places with Him meaning that, like Christ, our striving is done, the work has been accomplished. Because we are in Christ, we receive the fruit of His labor of love. We can rest in that blessed assurance.
Do you find yourself striving to earn God’s love and forgiveness on your walk with Him? We need the good news of our salvation to permeate our hearts every day to remind us that we did nothing to earn it and we can do nothing to keep it. It is all the work of Christ, the finished work of the cross. His grace is sufficient and powerful to both save and keep those who are His chosen children. Spend some time meditating on the truth found in Ephesians 2:4 and write down in your journal areas of your relationship with God where you are struggling with control issues and trusting God’s grace. Receive God’s fresh mercies today!
Change the baby’s diaper, take the dog outside, feed everyone breakfast (including said dog), start a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, fill the dishwasher with more dishes, fold and put away the laundry, clean counters, vacuum, sweep, mop, snack-time, school-time, nap-time, lunch-time, snack-time, dinner-time, snack-time, bed-time. Do it again tomorrow.
As a mom and wife, I am given countless opportunities to set aside my wants and give my love, time, and attention to the needs of my husband and children. Pouring yourself out like that on a daily basis can sometimes be physically exhausting; I find myself praying for supernatural strength often! Yet, at the end of the day, even though I am tempted to wonder where my “me time is,” my heart is always full.
This is when I begin to see more clearly what the Apostle Paul meant when he said:
“I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”
The Biblical principle of dying to yourself has always been true, but I didn’t always live it or even understand it. Becoming a stay-at-home mom has challenged me in more ways than I can count in the area of putting others before myself, and I am always learning and finding that it is truly is more blessed to give than to receive.
As Jesus’ disciples, we are called to follow Him. That was Paul’s mission in life – to imitate Christ. And it is what he and the rest of the apostles literally gave their lives to preach to the world through their words and actions. We may not ever get the honor to literally die for Jesus Christ because of our faith in Him, but by God’s grace, we can imitate His selflessness every day.
To be able to imitate Christ, we must look to Jesus as our example. Even though Jesus was God in the flesh, He still leaned upon God the Father for everything He said and did while He walked this earth. Jesus would rise early to pray and seek God for His will for the day.
In addition to seeking God in prayer, Jesus obediently submitted Himself to the will of the Father, even unto death. Each day, we are faced with the temptation to satisfy our flesh and go outside the boundaries of God’s perfect will. We discover what that will is when we read the Bible and study it for ourselves to learn God’s ways. We are not perfect, but thankfully Jesus was, and because of His sacrifice on the cross, we have been given the precious gift of the Holy Spirit as born-again believers.
Ultimately, Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve others (Mark 10:45). Jesus ministered to thousands upon thousands of people during His time here on earth. John 22 tells us that if all the things Jesus did were all written down, the entire world could not contain the books that would be written!
Dying daily definitely isn’t easy, but it is worth it because Jesus promises us that whoever loses his life will find it and find it abundance (Matthew 10:39/ John 10:10)!
But remember, we cannot die daily in our own strength, friends. The Holy Spirit is who empowers us to choose God’s way through the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). With each passing day, by God’s grace, we mature and cultivate a life worth dying for, a life found in Christ alone!
Who is God asking you to serve?
What selfish desires do you need to lay aside to put someone else’s life before your own?
Are you too busy or too distracted to serve others?
Take some time and write down those who may come to mind who you can minister to, even if it is just a simple phone call to encourage someone. May God empower us to die daily and choose others above ourselves.
Although it was six years ago, it’s still fresh in my mind- the day that the man who murdered my father received his official guilty sentence- life in prison. He was sentenced to 60 years of his life, not free, but behind bars, given a great opportunity to think on his actions for the rest of his life on this earth.
The murder occurred in November 2008, so it took many years for the sentence to be finalized. While many of my dad’s side of the family still doesn’t fully understand, I chose not to become involved in the pursuit of making sure that this man “paid for what he had done.”
There was much commotion and to be quite frank, drama, via social media between family members over the course of a few days that resulted in hateful and bitter comments regarding events in my dad’s life that occurred almost 20 years ago- my parent’s divorce being one of them. My heart was heavy to think that in the midst of such tragedy, people would choose to argue over issues that they have no control over any longer, and truthfully, no business being involved in whatsoever. The tragedy of losing my father actually paled in comparison to the unforgiveness and bitterness that surfaced between my family members.
Unforgiveness is bondage.
It is a yoke that slowly tightens around our neck and chokes the life out of us.
Bitterness is like a cancer that spreads throughout your whole body and affects you completely and everything and everyone around you.
We are given many opportunities every single day to take the bait to become offended and hold grudges, but it is so important that we hold onto Jesus and His powerful Word- God’s perfect truth.
The Apostle Paul explains to us the freedom we find in Christ and urges us to not become entangled in sin in Galatians 5:1:
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (ESV).
Although Paul is not speaking of unforgiveness specifically in this verse, we do know that unforgiveness is sin that will separate us from God.
Jesus explains to us at the end of the Lord’s Prayer:
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
When He was crucified and His blood poured out to accomplish God’s ultimate salvation plan for the world (John 3:16), our sins were thrown as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) and we no longer had to be slaves to sin- we were made free!
When we stand before God in prayer (and eventually at the end of this life here on earth), He sees what Jesus has done. He sees His Son’s precious blood, and the price that Jesus paid with His very life just so that you and I could have a relationship with Our Heavenly Father through Christ.
So why would we deliberately choose bondage by allowing unforgiveness and bitterness to plague our hearts and hinder fellowship with God and the love of others?
I don’t know who you may need to forgive. I don’t know how deep the pain goes, how big or small the offense may be. I don’t know how long you have carried that burden with you, but I do know that you need to forgive, and you don’t have to do it in your own strength. God has given you the Holy Spirit to help you, to heal you, to change your heart. You are given the choice to be the one to make the move. You must choose to forgive. Don’t wait. Do it today. Do it right now. You will experience such great freedom that Jesus so passionately laid down His life for you to have.