Weeping in the night, Joy in the Morning

I am convinced that sleep deprivation from the baby/toddler phase is the mom version of fasting. My flesh becomes so weakened and my reliance upon God becomes absolutely everything. I cannot help but rely on His grace to do pretty much anything. If you count third trimester lack of sleep from the uncomfortableness and countless trips of waddling to the bathroom, I literally haven’t slept through the night in almost two years. This isn’t hyperbole- my 17-month-old has NEVER slept through the night. My middle son took 25 months to do so- which was only six months before my youngest was born. It’s been an extremely physically and mentally (and often emotionally) trying season that has lasted years.

I don’t share all of this to complain or receive sympathy or ask for advice. I share to remind you (and myself) that the Lord is near to those suffering and in that suffering, He brings unspeakable joy that is not dependent upon our circumstances. No matter how overwhelming it may feel, His grace is sufficient in your weakness. Lean upon Him, and He will strengthen you and transform you in your suffering to look more like Him.

When I was praying the other night in the midnight hours during the on and off wakings (awakened every one-two hours because of his teething pain and what I can assume is the 18 month sleep regression), I said “God, I know he is a gift…please help me.” And as I reflect upon this trying season, I’m realizing the ways my son is a gift from the Father, along with all my children, of course. I cannot help but praise God in the midst of my pain for the Lord’s faithfulness to me. Even though my circumstances have not changed, He is changing me. I am encouraged by these verses in Psalm 30 to give thanks and remember that joy always comes in the morning:

“Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.”

Psalm 30:4-5, NASB

When my flesh is weak because of the difficulties that come with this season of motherhood, and I am humbled to my knees, by God’s grace, I am able to bear fruit and walk in the Spirit in a way that pleases the Lord. Instead of asking God to rescue me from my weeping and struggles with my son’s sleep, I find myself thanking God through tears of joy for this sleep deprivation. Suffering is a gift and with it comes joy and a heart full of praise to God for His faithfulness. May we ask the Lord for eyes to see our suffering in that way.

Heavenly Father, I’m weary and hurting. I have asked so many times for this suffering to be removed and for You to rescue me from this storm. I feel depleted. I feel like I’m drowning. But I realize that You have not called me to live by my feelings or by what I see happening around me; You have called me to walk by faith. And as my faith in You rises up in me, I trust that You have me exactly where I am supposed to be- totally dependent upon Your grace. In my weakness, I know that You are my strength. I praise You in my pain, and I ask that You would use this trial, this suffering, this storm to change me to look more like Christ- all for Your glory. I know that I may endure weeping in the night, but Your joy always comes- a joy that is not dependent upon my circumstances but is everlasting and sustaining even in the darkest of nights. Thank You for Your nearness to me in my greatest time of need and pain. You are a faithful Father, and I am so thankful to receive Your mercy and be called Your child. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / /

Our Life Starts with Death

Before I became a stay-at-home mom, I worked in a small medical office for four and a half years. That job was difficult for me because I came into contact with a lot of hurting people. And as we all know, “hurt people hurt people.” There were many days that I would drive home crying and collapse on my bed because of the exhausting day of what felt like being a human punching bag.

I constantly asked the Lord to get me out of there, but He had other plans for me. I longed for the day when I would be used in ministry, but what God was trying to get me to understand was that my ministry was right in front of me!

Every single patient who walked into our office was an opportunity to share the love of Jesus with. Once my eyes were opened to that truth, my experience in that office changed and the Lord, in turn, changed me. I would pray every single morning that God would bring someone across my path who I could pray for or share truth with. And guess what? God always provided! I was given countless opportunities to pray for people and share truth with. If I would have stayed in my selfishness, wanting to escape the uncomfortable, I would have missed out on real life- that only comes from denying ourselves and following Christ’s ways over our own. 

It is human nature to seek after what our hearts and flesh crave, but we do not have to give into that kind of nature for we have a new nature in Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:10, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:24). Jesus told his disciples a better way to live if we truly want to be a Christ follower:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Matthew 16: 24-25, ESV

Jesus died to bring us life, our life starts with our death. In dying to self, we feel pain and joy, as the light of God shows up in other peoples’ lives, so that He would receive Glory. His Resurrection life leads to our resurrection life and power; our resurrection life and power is an ongoing commitment to death to self. Although we have been given this command from our Lord, He does not leave us to our own strength to follow through. The Holy Spirit empowers us to set aside our selfishness and learn how to surrender our desires and be selfless like Jesus, preferring others above ourselves. We are then empowered to fully surrender and die to self. This lifestyle of surrendering our love for self helps us bear much fruit, and we will see others come to Christ as well.  How have your freedoms/prosperity made you comfortable? Have your freedoms and prosperity in life made you a comfort-seeking consumer? Is it a joy for you to die daily and come after Jesus? If this is a struggle for you, let us go boldly to the throne of grace and ask Him for help to surrender to dying to self and following Christ where true life is found. 

Father God, I repent for trying to hold onto my life when you have asked your followers to deny themselves and take up their cross and follow you. I surrender my love of self and lean on Your grace to walk in Your ways, preferring others more than myself. I set aside my desire to be comfortable and avoid pain, and trust that you have joy for me in a life of selflessness and service. Help me have boldness to tell others about You and share Your love and truth with whoever comes my way. Thank You for laying Your life down for me to find true life eternal. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Tagged : / / / / / / / / /

Hope for the Hopeless

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness”

(Romans 8:24-26, ESV).

My husband, Paul, and I recently celebrated twelve years of marriage. Although I enjoy reflecting and focusing on all the wonderful and joyous memories together over these last twelve years, it can be said that our faith has been tested under waves of chaos and storms and under the weight and pressures of life.

It would be amazing to have a life full of happy times only, but it’s in the fire, the trials, and the storms of life that we are truly strengthened. We can choose to rise above the chaos or allow hopelessness and despair to overtake us. 

Our faith in Jesus Christ has given us hope to remain steadfast because we know He is faithful. This hope is what has been our anchor through all. 

This anchor is what holds you to your trust and faith in the Lord. Hope isn’t something that can be created or conjured up. Sure, we can give ourselves a pep-talk when we are feeling downcast or be encouraged by a friend to keep putting one foot in front of the other, but true hope is given to us by the Holy Spirit. He endows us with the faith that God’s promises are true; He is not a liar- He can be trusted completely and that ultimately, His sovereign hand is working in our life; we will not be put to shame.  

Having an eternal perspective lifts your eyes from the cares of this life and helps you move forward when you are going through a storm to remind you that ultimately, this place is not our home; Being heavenly minded during earthly trials is what fuels your hope in God.

Romans 8 speaks of this kind of hope:

“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness”

(24-26, ESV).

We eagerly wait for the return of Christ and the day we will abide with God forever in our heavenly home. No matter how dark things may become around us in our world or in our personal lives, we must ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with hope. We must renew our minds with God’s Word so we will be able to seek and understand God’s perfect will in our lives more clearly. He has a purpose for us to fulfill here on earth and that is to share with others His glorious Gospel so that they may also find the hope that is available to God’s children.

As a child of God, we may feel hopelessness in our heart, but we must move beyond our feelings and remind our heart of the great hope we have in Christ. The Holy Spirit can help us in our weakness. Let us ask Him for help when hopelessness tries to overwhelm us, moving beyond what we see and connecting ourselves to the hope that is attached to our trust in God’s promise of eternal life in Christ.

Father God, 

I am experiencing a heaviness, a weariness in my soul. Our world is in a constant state of chaos it seems, and my own soul is in turmoil from the weight of the cares of this life. But I refuse to live by what I feel for I know You are faithful and will not let me drown in the waves of the storms of life. Holy Spirit, fill my heart with a hope that can only come from heaven. Help me fix my eyes on eternity and give me the boldness to share the Gospel with others so they would know of this hope that heaven awaits those who repent of their sin and put their full trust in Christ alone. Thank You for never leaving me in my weakness and for strengthening me with Your grace each day. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Tagged : / / / / / /

Finding the Blessing in the Blissful Chaos of Motherhood

As a mom of three boys, my “quiet-time” is not really quiet: it’s full of tiny distractions and interruptions from these little ones. Nap times are quite short and to-do lists are quite long. My days seem to go by in the blink of an eye, and I’m often left exhausted, only getting the chance to pray “Help me, Lord” in between homeschooling, my writing deadlines, continuous snack requests, laundry loads and diaper “loads.” Knowing very well that this season in life won’t last forever, I have learned to cast my cares upon the Lord and soak up the few moments that I can in the Word of God because it is what I need to readjust my focus when I’m tempted to complain. 

The other day, a passage in Mark 9 met this momma right among the blissful chaos with encouragement:

And He [Jesus] sat down and called the Twelve [disciples], and He said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he must be last of all, and servant of all.” 36 And He took a little child and put him in the center of their group; and taking him in [His] arms, He said to them, 37 “Whoever in My name and for My sake accepts and receives and welcomes one such child also accepts and receives and welcomes Me; and whoever so receives Me receives not only Me but Him Who sent Me” (35-37, AMP).

By putting my sons and my role as a mom and wife above my desires and my life’s goals, I have been serving Jesus this whole time! And if serving Jesus, worshiping Jesus!

And if that wasn’t uplifting enough, Jesus calls out our service to children specifically in verses 36-37. When we welcome our children into our lives and make them feel loved and accepted every day, we are also welcoming them in the name of the Lord Jesus every day. Jesus compares being the servant of all, a high position in the Kingdom of God, to those who welcome children into their lives. What an honor!

So to all my tired and overwhelmed mommas out there, take heart! Every time you embrace your child and serve your family, you are embracing Jesus and even more so, your Heavenly Father who is not going to leave you to raise your children alone!

Father, we welcome you into our blissful chaos as we raise up our children to trust in You and receive Your love into their lives so that they may point others to You and Your Kingdom. We are thankful that you give us the privilege of embracing little ones every day. Give us eyes to see opportunities to share the Gospel with our children in everyday moments. We ask for your grace and strength when we are feeling overwhelmed and weary. Help us to serve You with all that we are and in everything we do…laundry loads and all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tagged : / / / / / / / /

His Grace is Enough

I saw a graphic shared on Facebook the other day that said: 

“She believed she couldn’t, and she was right. But God, when she gave Him every broken piece, of herself, He used it all for His glory.”

This isn’t a popular message right now- admitting your weakness, admitting your limits. You won’t get many followers, likes, or shares for it, that’s for sure!

You know what will?

 “Girl, you are in charge of making your dreams happen!” “Hustle and slay all day, girlfriend!” “Stop accepting less than you deserve.” “You are in control of your own life!”

..loudly shouts the widely successful author/speaker/entrepreneur/reality TV star/blogger/Instagram influencer/Facebook viral sensation.

That is the message that echos in our culture of women empowerment and it really is a message of false hope. The ultimate answer to our success is not found in our own abilities and talents. We cannot even take credit for those things because they were given to us as gifts from the Creator of the universe.

Beloved, if you are a believer, know that your life is much more useful in the hands of the Savior’s than in your own. His power and strength are really what we need.

This reminds me of the verses in 2 Corinthians 12 that the Apostle Paul penned:

“But [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

(9-10, NIV).

This message is so countercultural, but so much truth can be found in it. Much like the apostle Paul, I believe it is important to gladly boast in our weakness for it shows the world that our faith truly lies in Christ and not in ourselves. Jesus tells us that there is strength to be found there, not because we are awesome and capable and in control, but because He is. 

Your strength isn’t about how hard you can slay or hustle. Real strength comes from total dependency on God.

For His strength will always be made perfect in our weakness. What blooms in your life will be beautiful because of Him. 

Author and artist, Ruth Chou Simmons says it this way: 

“God demonstrating His glory through your dependency is your real story, and He’s writing it day-by-day through deepening roots and newly formed buds.” 

Your story of walking with Jesus is not about your works or what you can do to look more like Him in your own power or strength, it is about working with grace and allowing it to do its work in you and through you.

The more you lean into His grace, the more you will see growth and maturity in your heart and life. Through this dependency on Him, you will make Jesus famous and not your own name. God alone will receive all the glory that is due His name.

We must remind our hearts that His grace is enough to walk through this life, even when we feel so incredibly weak and powerless and incapable of what we feel God has called us to do. May we learn how to surrender our life to Jesus every single day and trust that He will use it all for His glory. 

Are you finding yourself “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” to accomplish a task that the Lord has given you?

When was the last time you asked God for His help in an area you were struggling?

If you find it difficult to admit your weakness, know that a safe place to run is into the arms of God. May we not walk in our own strength and learn how to humble ourselves before God so we can see Him work in our heart and life. This will help shine a light on how real and faithful God is to the world who are looking for real strength to get through the trials of life. 

Tagged : / / / / /

An Anchor of Hope

I sat there on the bathroom floor browsing social media on my phone next to the bathtub as my boys splashed around in the bubbles, playing with their tub toys- just a typical day in the life of this stay-at-home mom. Suddenly, my heart sank as I scrolled Facebook and caught the headline, “CDC Confirms first St. Louis Case of Coronavirus.”

COVID-19 had made its way to our home-state of Missouri and suddenly, the anxiety many people around the world had been experiencing for months became very real to me. 

As this virus has spread across the nation, so has much uncertainty and panic as many have been told by government officials to stay shut up in their homes because of the danger of this extremely contagious virus. Many churches have closed their doors since no more than ten people at a time are allowed to gather. Many businesses have been shut down and employees have lost their jobs in the process.

Empty grocery store shelves, massive job loss, social isolation, endangered health, and sadly, even death have been reality for so many people during this time. Suddenly the comfort of abundance and security has been stripped from our society and many are looking for hope right now. 

Some believe that hope can be found in a vaccine or medication for all of this to go away. Although modern medicine is a blessing to our society and could solve the issue at hand, the real concern is that this pandemic is revealing that people are trying to find hope in the wrong source.

This is one of the greatest opportunities as Christians to shine the light of real hope to a fearful and hurting world- the hope of Christ!

Hebrews 6 tell us of this hope:

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters [p]within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Hebrews 6:19, NASB

This verse shares the truth that Jesus Christ has made a way for us to be able to enter into fellowship with a thrice holy God. He lived the perfect life we could not live by fulfilling the law and laid down His own life as a sacrifice for us. Because of this, we are able to have hope no matter what we face in this life. And if that wasn’t good news enough, as our high priest, Jesus is also forever making intercession for us daily (Hebrews 7:25)!

As Christians, we must constantly remind ourselves of this blessed hope when anxiety comes in like a tidal wave and tries to overwhelm our hearts. We must fight the temptation to find our hope in anything else but Christ. Our hope should not be in a vaccine, medication, a booming economy, job security, a full pantry, positive statistics, or the government’s financial support.

Our hope should be built on Christ, our Solid Rock, the anchor of our soul, the only security we have in this life because that security is eternal. Our health and finances may be taken from us. No matter what happens, life in Him can never be taken away from us. For when this is all over, He is the only One who can save us from the curse of sin and death. 

In Him, we are forgiven and justified before a Holy God. In Him, we stand faultless before the throne of judgement that awaits us all one day. The hope of eternity in His presence should be the anchor in the storms of life. The only real hope we can stand upon is eternal life found in Jesus Christ. 

Have you been tempted to allow anxiety and panic to sweep you away during this difficult time?

Are you feeling hopeless because of your current circumstances and looking for relief in the possible solutions presented to us? Take your worries to the Lord today and ask Him to help your unbelief.

Are you spending more time looking at statistics and the news right now?

Instead of reading the newest headlines every day, open up your Bible and fill your heart with hope, not fear. The temptation during times like this is to focus on all the trials around you, especially if you are experiencing uncertainty, lack, or discouragement. Resist that temptation and use it as an opportunity to offer your gratefulness to God: everyday find three things to be thankful for and write them down to remind your soul of God’s goodness.

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / /

From Suffering to Glory

Even though I have so many wonderful memories during the holiday season, this time of year also holds some painful memories of experiencing the bitterness of death and loss. Sadly, I know this is the case for so many people. For me, November is the month that my dad was murdered (actually it will be 11 years on the 17th) and the month my husband and I lost our first baby early on in my pregnancy. Those were times where I had to endure some pretty heavy emotional suffering. Even though I was a Christian during those times, the pain was still very real and I struggled in my faith. I had to constantly press into God’s truth and surround myself with other believers who loved me and encouraged me during those dark times.

Pain and suffering are not something any of us look forward to, but while we live here in this fallen and broken world, it is inevitable. It is so easy to get caught up in the storms of our life and lose sight of the hope that is available to us through Jesus Christ. He is the anchor in that storm and promises to never abandon us. 

The suffering may not disappear, but the good news is that Jesus is right there with us to walk through it together. In the midst of the pain, the temptation is to give all of our focus on the battle we may be facing. I believe it is so important for us to keep a heavenly and eternal perspective when we are in the midst of a painful situation or even a painful season. We have to remember that our life here on earth is not all that there is to our existence.

There is a life to come where we are promised no more pain or suffering when we see Jesus face to face and when He returns in all of His glory. This is the glory that Paul tells us about in Romans 8:18:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Romans 8:18, NASB

We will experience God’s glory in all of its fullness one day and what a glorious day that will be! Let us hold fast to that hope of eternal life that awaits us, free of all pain and suffering!

So take heart! We must press into God’s promises of what lies ahead.

Jesus is the anchor of our souls; He helps us not waver and is secure and strong.

We must remember that this place is not our home…we are just passing through!

The suffering you are experiencing cannot stand against God’s glory. Let us keep our minds fixed on heaven and fixed on Jesus Christ our Savior, in the midst of our storm.

Sadness and grief will come, sometimes like a tidal wave, but you have an anchor of glorious hope and His name is Jesus!

If you are currently experiencing a trial that seems too much to bear, take that pain to the throne of God. He hears every cry; the Holy Spirit is our great Comforter. Also, fight the temptation to isolate yourself and try to find a friend whom you can share your heart with and confide in. God never intended for us to walk through the valley alone. He is always with you, and He will send someone to be a listening ear and shoulder to cry on if you ask Him. 

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / / /

The Peace Found in Contentment

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

This song is ringing through every store, in every restaurant, and following you on your drive home from work. Oh, yes, the holidays are upon us. This can mean many things for you depending on what has your focus. As Christians, we can get caught up in the hustle and bustle of this time of year and even if our intention is to keep Christ at the center, especially if our family celebrates Christmas, we can be lead astray very easily with the spirit of consumerism that can often come with this time of year. 

As Americans, our culture seems to have a desire for more, more, more, especially when it comes to material things. Even if we don’t need it, if it is on sale, often times, we feel drawn to purchase the item. This mentality seems to be magnified in our society during the holidays. Unfortunately, the infamous Black Friday sales have taken over the entire month of November, and Thanksgiving, a time where we should be reflecting on what we are grateful for, is beginning to take a backseat in our culture. We are becoming consumed with consumerism. 

Perhaps it is time to ask ourselves, if we are always seeking and reaching for more, are we truly satisfied in Christ alone? Are we looking to material things, people, or great circumstances to find peace or joy? Are we content with what God has already provided for us?

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he begins to share with the church at Philippi encouragement about learning how to rejoice no matter what is going on in life and gives the people direction in what they need to focus on.

In Philippians 4:8, he exhorts:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

ESV

If they would put this into practice, they would experience the peace of God.

As Paul nears the end of his letter to the church at Philippi, he reflects on God’s perfect provision:

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”

Philippians 4:11-12, ESV

He ends that thought with the famous verse, proclaiming that he can do all things through Christ that gives him strength (Philippians 4:13).

What is most encouraging about this verse is its context, contentment.

The secret to finding contentment regardless of circumstance, having plenty or being hungry, that Paul is talking about is Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the One who gives us the strength and ability to remain content no matter what we are experiencing. True contentment is knowing that Jesus alone can satisfy our souls.

When we search for fulfillment in things, people, or even our circumstances, we will always come up short. All of these things we try to fill our lives with aren’t necessarily bad things, but when they become the end goals, and the reason for our being, they become idols in our life. We end up being discontented because those things were never meant to fulfill us. Jesus is the only One who can bring true contentment into our life. And

What makes this time of year the most wonderful for you?

Take some time to reflect and journal and express your gratitude to the Lord. If you are feeling discontented, ask the Lord to help you find satisfaction and peace in Him alone. 

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / /

Let Not Change Move You

Growing up, I learned very early on that not much in my life would stay consistent and that the pattern of my life would include a lot of change, and sometimes drastic change. From my parents’ divorce to my mom’s remarriage to a man she met on the internet (remember AOL chatrooms?) to the birth of another sibling when I was in middle school to moving homes every two years throughout grade-school and middle school to my father’s constant on and off battle with alcoholism to a sudden complicated break up with my high school boyfriend of two and a half years. It did not take long for a heart of anxiety to be formed in my life because there was not much in my life that I could run to for security. 

So as I got older, I ran to other things, other people. I quickly became ensnared by alcohol abuse and did many dangerous things that only served to create glue-strong attachments to other people — things like an adulterous relationship with a married man and countless one-night stands with random men I followed home from the bar. I was constantly anxious and depressed.

But, after I graduated from college, my eyes were truly opened to my selfish, promiscuous existence and my deep desire to find something firm and secure. I hadn’t been to church for years, but one morning I went. During the worship service, God met me in my mess and convicted my heart. Immediately I knew I needed to stop running away from Him and start running toward Him.

In that moment, I realized He was the security and peace I was searching for. I told Him I didn’t want to live this life on my own anymore and I repented for my rebellion and unbelief. I knew that all I was searching for could only be found in Jesus. I resolved to stand upon the secure foundation of the Rock, Jesus Christ, who never changes. After that moment, my whole world changed as God began transforming my heart. It was by far the best change I have ever experienced!

You may not have experienced difficult and often painful change in your life exactly like I did, but I’m sure you have realized that change is inevitable while we are here on this earth.

Change is just a part of life.

How we handle that change is really where we will discover where our hope and sense of security lies. If change is causing us to worry or stress out, we need not to run to other things or people to try to fix our anxiousness. We will always be disappointed, left feeling empty and even more anxious. We must run to God.

Philippians 4:6 tells us that we must not allow anxiety to overwhelm us, but instead, we are to come to God in prayer and cry out to Him with our requests, full of a thankful heart knowing He hears us.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Philippians 4:6, ESV

Nothing is too small when it comes to our prayers to God; He wants us to come to Him about everything! God not only hears our prayers; He responds with giving us His peace and protection. 

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7, ESV

God’s peace is like nothing else this world can offer; it is beyond all human logic or reasoning.

He promises to protect our hearts and minds when we dwell on our position in Jesus, as forgiven children of God. He is not only the Creator and sustainer of life, but He is our heavenly Father that longs to protect and provide for us. 

So at the turn of 2020, are you undergoing a lot of change, whether by your own hand or by unforeseen circumstances? Is this change causing you to worry?

Instead of allowing these worries to drive you to other sources in an attempt to bring relief, make a list of these worries and take them to God is prayer today. He hears every request. You can find peace and rest assured that He is the One who never changes. Even if everything around you feels like shifting sand, remember that Jesus Christ is firm and secure.

While you are writing down your requests, listen to the old hymn, My Hope is Built on Nothing Less and reflect upon the One who is the only strong and constant foundation.

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

“You Put My Tears in Your Bottle”: Drawing Close to the God Who Sees Our Pain

I laid on the cold, sterile exam table feeling uneasy from the moment I parked my car.

I thought to myself, “Paul and I were just here 2 weeks ago. We got to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time and got pictures to show our family. Why did the doctor need to see me again for an ultrasound?”

I told my husband he didn’t have to come with me to this appointment since it would just be a quick routine checkup on the baby’s growth, which is what I was told. Since this was my first pregnancy, I didn’t think anything of it when I put the appointment on my calendar, but the closer I got to the doctor’s office on my drive there, I was starting to worry and question why I needed to be seen again so early on.

Within the first few minutes of the ultrasound, the doctor got very quiet and simply said, “Oh, I hate when this happens.”

“What?” I asked, my heart racing faster and faster.

“There is no heartbeat. I’m so sorry.”

That Kind of Faith

I sat up, tears streaming down my face and let out a big sigh. She asked if I was going to be okay.

With a shaky voice, I pointed her to the One that has always been near to me during times like these.

“I have been through a lot in my short life. I have had some serious valley experiences.  My dad was murdered several years ago, two divorces ripped a part my family, serious family illnesses, anxiety, depression…but my faith in God has always gotten me through it. This will be no different. Jesus is faithful.”

She sat across from me still, nodded her head, and said “I’m glad you have that kind of faith. I will give you some time alone…just get dressed and come out whenever you are ready, and we will talk about our options.”

“I knew that I was not alone in my sorrow. God saw me in my pain and did not overlook it.”

Although this baby went on to be with the Lord early on in my pregnancy, Paul and I did not believe this would be the end of our story; we strongly believed God would give us a child, and we would rest and trust in His timing. God was faithful to us and we now have two sons. But do those two sons erase the pain of losing a baby? No.

Although God answered our prayers to have children, He still saw all of those tears and was with me as my heart and body healed. I looked to the only One who could keep me from being crushed under the weight of my grief. I knew that I was not alone in my sorrow. God saw me in my pain and did not overlook it.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

Psalm 56:8, NLT

The same was true, years before, after I received the news that my dad had been brutally murdered. Honestly, my faith met at a crossroad during that time in my life. Instead of allowing the weight of that loss to completely crush me, I chose to look to Jesus. I chose to call upon the Lord and to stand upon Christ, my solid Rock, and believe He was good and He was in control. I chose to have faith in the One who is near to the brokenhearted.

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit”

Psalm 34:18, ESV

Clinging to Jesus in the Whirlwind

My family and I are currently going through another valley experience right now, and we are choosing to stand upon God’s Word and cling to Jesus for He is our anchor in this storm. Just a couple days before Independence Day this year, my husband received the devasting phone-call that his younger brother was involved in a tragic drowning accident while he was on vacation with his newlywed wife and friends. These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions and physical exhaustion. From the mere shock of this tragedy to consoling parents, friends, and relatives to responding to countless messages, texts, and phone-calls to the planning of funeral arrangements and the days following all of these events.

Although I felt the sting of this tragic loss, I watched my husband, his parents, and my sister-in-law experience the deepest pain imaginable – pain so difficult that it physically hurt. The night Paul received the news, I held him as we both cried, huddled on the couch. He kept grabbing his chest and saying, “I miss him so much. This hurts so bad.” We are all putting one foot in front of the other and walking through the pain with Jesus, trusting that He will continue to heal our broken hearts and believing we will see our precious brother again in heaven someday.

 I don’t know if you have ever experienced so much emotional pain that you physically hurt, but in those moments, as humans, we struggle to bring real comfort and healing, whether to ourselves (self- help isn’t the answer, friends) or to others. We can offer our condolences, bring them food, send cards, pray for them, and hold them when they need a shoulder to cry on (all of which we have thankfully experienced these last few weeks), but truthfully, only God can help to bring the comfort, healing, and peace we need during times like these. After all, two of the Holy Spirit’s names are “The Helper” and “Comforter.”

Jesus tells His disciples about the Holy Spirit in John 14:26:

“But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you.”

AMP

The mighty, all-powerful God who created the entire universe is the same God who draws oh so close to us in our brokenness and pain. The Holy Spirit (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) is our gift from the Father and is nearer than our very breath. Just like John 14:26 says, He will also help us remember what Jesus has told us in Scripture.  

In this season of my life, as I ask for strength and grace to help my husband and our family walk through this valley, the Lord is doing so by bringing me to the truth of His Word. After a couple days passed after the news, I was finally able to take off my mom-hat for a few minutes and be alone and process all that had happened. I broke down sobbing in the shower. Although we weren’t siblings by blood, he was my little brother for the last ten years. The pain hit me like a tidal wave, and I cried out to the Lord like I had done countless times before when the heaviness was trying to overwhelm me.

Not only did I sense the nearness of God in the moment, the Holy Spirit brought a verse to my mind that flooded my heart with hope. As soon as I left the shower, I grabbed my phone to look up the Scripture. The Holy Spirit was reminding me to keep my mind fixed on eternity.

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, ESV

What a beautiful reminder to all of us who might be experiencing pain right now! We may feel pain and sorrow, but that does not mean that we have no hope! Our life is only a vapor (James 4:14), and this place is not our home. We have a promise that one day every tear will be wiped away and pain will be no more:

“[Jesus] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 

Revelation 21:4, ESV

The Bible is full of truth about eternity and wisdom on how we should live our lives while we are still here on earth. Jesus doesn’t promise that we will escape pain here on earth, but He does promise that He will be with us always (Matthew 28:20).

In your pain and sorrow, cry out to the Lord and walk with the Holy Spirit. Allow Him to bring you true comfort and peace, all while guiding you into truth about the Kingdom to come. Soon and very soon we will be with Him forever, where His perfect love will be all we ever experience. Until then, keep drawing near to Him and He will faithfully draw near to you, just as His Word promises us. 

Tagged : / / / / / / / /