In high school, I was gifted a Bible when I became a member of my new church. I was so excited to start reading it and learn more about God, but as time went on, I became more and more intimated by its pages. Where do I begin? Do I start in Genesis and just read through it beginning to end? Do I need to spend time memorizing what I’m reading? What does this word mean?
These thoughts circled my teenage mind, and I was so hesitant to even dive in for fear that I wouldn’t understand what I was reading. It didn’t take long for schoolwork and all of the extracurricular activities I was involved in to crowd out any down time to make space to read my Bible. Soon enough, that Bible would find a permanent home on my bookshelf, left untouched. I hate to admit it, but the intimidation and distractions would follow me all through college as well. When I was stressed out, I would glance at my neglected Bible and randomly open it and try to soak up some hope for my weary soul.
Although I heard the gospel as a teen, and was a professing Christian for six years, it wasn’t until after I graduated college that God granted me genuine repentance from my sin and rebellion and gave me the faith to fully surrender my life to Christ and trust Him completely. One Sunday, I stepped foot in a church service for the first time in a few years, and I believe I was born again that day, as the reality of offending a Holy God and my desperate need to turn to Jesus, take up my cross, and follow Him overwhelmed me for the first time in my life. After that moment, my whole world changed, and I suddenly had a deep desire to read my Bible and obey God. I look back and see the difference between my high school and college days was that I was trying to understand what I was reading without the help of the Holy Spirit. Once I became born again at the age of twenty-two, I was given the gift of the Holy Spirit- Jesus describes Him as a Comforter as well as a Helper and Teacher in John 14:
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26, ESV).
As born-again believers, when we open the pages of scripture, we are not left on our own to understand what we are reading. We have a Helper and a great Teacher, the Holy Spirit, to guide us in our pursuit of growing in the knowledge of the Lord. He illuminates the truth to us over time and will bring what we have read to our remembrance. This is why it is so important to consistently be reading our Bibles, so that we can store what we are studying in our hearts. The Bible is a gift from God to help us in our daily lives- to be able to learn of God’s ways and learn who God truly is so that we can grow closer to Him and worship Him rightly.
I have to admit that I sometimes still struggle with intimidation and distraction when it comes to reading my Bible, but after walking with the Lord for over ten years now, I know that I am not left alone on this journey. I have a Helper who guides me into all truth and supernaturally helps me understand the words I am reading- words that are spirit and life (John 6:63). He is always with me and I can always ask Him for help.
Heavenly Father, I thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Not only does He convict me of my sin when I daily fall short, He is my ever-present Help in time of need who also guides me into all truth. I admit that I need help understanding your Holy written Word. Holy Spirit, will you give me a hunger to daily read the Bible? May You supernaturally illuminate what I am reading and give me the ability to comprehend what I am studying, not just for head knowledge, but to help me know You in a deeper way so that I give You the worship You deserve. In Jesus’ name, amen.
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” -1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18, NASB.
A friend of mine shared a graphic on social media the other day that stopped me in my tracks and convicted my weary heart. It was a brief but powerful list of reasons to be thankful when we are tempted to complain. It said:
Early wakeups = Children to be loved
House to clean = safe place to live
Laundry = clothes to wear
Dishes to wash = food to eat
Endless questions = kids’ brains growing
If I am honest, I have not rejoiced in these blessings at all. I have complained, and often. So much so, I caught my six-year-old repeating phrases I had been saying as I grumbled with bitterness throughout my day.
Right after I saw that post on social media, the Holy Spirit brought the scripture to my mind that our pastor had just preached on Sunday earlier in the week; it was from 1 Thessalonians 5.
The Apostle Paul exhorts the believers at Thessalonica with these commands:
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing;in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18, NASB).
I knew that the Bible talks consistently about the sin of complaining, but I did not realize how important it is for a believer to make joyful thanksgiving every moment of every day. In fact, it is God’s will for us to do this because we are in Christ and in Christ, we have much to be grateful for!
Knowing that our flesh would so much rather complain, grumble, stress out, and look at everything that is wrong, there is no doubt as to why the Apostle Paul tells us to pray without ceasing. We must lift up our hearts to the Lord for help if we are to walk in thanksgiving when the pressures of this life crowd in around us and try to weigh us down. We need His grace to rejoice. We need His strength to face each day, especially when our current season of life is stressful and physically and mentally exhausting.
Lately, I have been physically and emotionally drained. Stress has been so high for me that I was beginning to grow resentful. I truly needed a shift in my perspective because it was affecting my heart in major ways.
In addition to being thankful for my growing children, the safety and comfort of my home, clothes on my back, and food in my belly, as a believer, most of all, I needed God’s help to remind my soul of the eternal blessings that I have in Christ.
In Christ, I have access to the Father to come to Him in prayer because I am His child. In Christ, I have hope for eternal life. In Christ, I have peace knowing that my sins have been forgiven and I am justified before a Holy God. When I am tempted to complain about the stress and inconveniences of life, I must look to Jesus and ask Him to remind my heart of all of these blessings that are lavished upon me that I truly do not deserve, both earthly and eternal. It is God’s will for us to rejoice and be thankful, so may God’s will be done in my heart.
I am weary and worn out from the cares of this life. My heart is heavy and stressed and my body is feeling the effects of it all that seems to be weighing me down. My heart has become bitter and ungrateful; I have taken many blessings in my life for granted. Father, I repent of my complaining and grumbling. I know that I do not deserve anything that You have lavished upon me. You do not owe me a thing, yet you are such a great Father and provide for my needs and grant me Your unmerited favor and mercy each new day.
In addition to my physical needs being met, you have given me eternal life in Jesus Christ and peace knowing my sins have been forgiven because of what Jesus did for me on the cross when He laid down His life for me.
I come to You to help me rejoice and ask You to fill my heart with thanksgiving. Please remind my heart to begin each day with a grateful heart and know that I can pray anytime I am struggling with bitterness or I am tempted to grow resentful for all that You have freely given to me. Help me guard my heart against anything that may cause it to grow hard and bitter.
Thank You, Jesus, for Your sacrifice and for the life that I find in You alone.
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.
[a] Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! 2 His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.
Psalm 112:1-3, ESV
My husband and I have this “game” that we play: “Tell me something you love about me” where we list a quality that we admire about each other. Since we have been married for ten years now, I’m sure we have repeated some of the answers, but I always try to come up with something new or something that may pertain to our current season of life.
Without hesitation, I replied, “I love that you are a hard-worker.” He is always working hard to provide for our family and help me take care of things around the house (I have never mowed a lawn in my life!). I am thankful for that quality of his because this man is anything but lazy. Yet, if I am being honest, because my love language is quality time, it sometimes can get under my skin that he has trouble slowing down and resting.
Most men (and women) have a drive to work, work, work and find pleasure in accomplishment and productivity and a longing to provide for their family, but I think it is important to find a balance between work and rest, much like we see how God rested on the seventh day in creation.
God has given us wives to our husbands (and vice versa), so it is important to pray for them in this area so that they do not become exhausted both physically and mentally. But more important than praying for them to find balance and rest, their walk with the Lord is of upmost priority. Apart from God’s grace we are all limited, so we need to make sure we are leaning upon the Lord and looking to Him for wisdom and strength for everything we put our hand to. We see in Psalm 112 the benefits of a man who fears the Lord:
“Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever”
A man who seeks the Lord and trusts in His word is a reason for praise. God calls this man and his children blessed. This isn’t a passage about “getting rich quick,” but we see that in addition to the blessings of God’s peace, joy, and love in our life, God provides and blesses us materially as well. As a father’s love for God grows, and he leads his children in God’s righteous ways, his children will want to imitate their dad and follow in his footsteps. Much more than teaching them how to work hard and use the gifts that God has given them, a father with a fear for the Lord and a hunger for God’s word is one of the best treasures he could give them. As women, we should pray for the men in our life, especially when they have children, that we would learn how to find a balance of work and rest, but most of all, a desire to seek God first in all things.
Father, we pray for the men in our lives. If the father of our children does not know you, we pray that You would draw him to Yourself and that He would have a hunger for Your word. We pray that He would learn the importance of rest so that he can be restored. We ask that he would lean upon Your grace in all that You have called him to do. We thank You that You are a faithful Father who always provideshttp://emilyrosemassey.com/2020/06/praying-for-the-father-of-your-children/ for our needs. We pray that the father of our children always looks to you first for wisdom and strength as he learns how to walk in your righteous ways and leads his children in the admonition of You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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.”
“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.
I struggled with anxiety and panic attacks for many years in high school and college, even as a believer. Stress and worry were just a part of my life, and I allowed them to move into my mind and become my permanent mental roommates. From money problems to relationship issues, if it became too much, you would find me curled up in a ball in the fetal position on the floor, hyperventilating until parts of my body went numb and crying until there were no more tears left.
After I graduated college, I began to walk closer with the Lord and study His Word like I never had before in my life. My mind was being renewed and over time, I began to trust the Lord with every care and worry and cast them upon Him like 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to do.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
The other night when I experienced the panic attack, there was a brief moment where I was given the opportunity to resist the negative thoughts and take them captive and begin to talk to God like I had learned to do so many times before, but this time, I chose to let my mind run in circles. I was so familiar with the experience of a panic attack that I could literally feel it try to overtake me right before it happened. The dark cloud of what I believe was demonic oppression then blanketed my mind and then my whole body. If I would have remembered Philippians 4:6-7 or even 1 Peter 5:7, I would have realized that God offered me a solution to my anxious thoughts. A simple conversation with the Lord would have helped me centered my thoughts and would have brought immediate peace to the whirlwind in my mind.
If this describes your life at all, here is a prayer you can pray for when stress hits hard:
A Prayer for Stress
Lord, thank you that you want us to cast our cares on you. Thank you that there is nowhere I can go that you are not there with me. Thank you for having a hold of my life, even as I feel like everything is crumbling around me.
Lord, I confess that I have let stress take a hold of my life, rather than You. I have let stress control my mood, my attitudes and my actions. Lord, I repent of this! Please Father, help me see what is stressful in my life and hand it over to You. Help me not let the stress win out. Help me actively think on Your goodness to me.
I am so hopeful for my eternity with you, Lord, where there will be NO more stress! Help me look back on all the ways You have rescued me from my stressful moments, and look in hope to the future where You will one day rid all stress, forever.
Help me live boldly in the truth of Your goodness and power today. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
“Good morning, sweetheart,” I hear my wonderful husband whisper to me as my eyes struggle to open. I grab my cell phone and begin to scroll through my notifications from the night before.
“I love you.”
“I love you too,” I mumble as I continue to fix my attention on my cell phone, an inanimate object that didn’t hold me as I fell asleep last night, instead of this sweet man that is standing in front of me that God has given to me. My husband lovingly snatched my cellphone from my hand and looked at me straight in the eyes, longing for me to share a moment with him before he went off to work that day. The sad thing is, this isn’t the first and only time I have done this to him or others for that matter.
Now, I know that I’m not the only one who has grabbed their cellphone first thing in the morning or stared at the screen during dinner with a friend, so I have to ask:
When did we get so consumed with technology that we’ve allowed it to capture our complete attention more than an actual human being?
When I had this interaction with my husband, I realize how all he wanted was a little attention before he started his day. Imagine how God must feel when we not only choose other people before Him, but THINGS.
I want to dig even deeper and ask is this dependency on electronics and technology also affecting our relationship with the Lord?
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
That means putting Him first in our lives at all times, even the first few moments of our day. He is the One who graciously woke us up, gave us the breath in our lungs, and provided us another opportunity to live another day. He deserves our devotion the moment our eyes pop open, even if it is a mere “thank you, God” before our feet even hit the floor.
As we live in the great information age, we are bombarded with opportunities to fill our time and our minds with so many things that can so easily replace our time of fellowship with the Lord.
Information available to us, literally at our fingertips, at all times, is wonderful gift, but that mobile device that we carry around in our purses and pockets can also be a mobile distraction that follows us everywhere we go.
Although our cellphones, tablets, iPods, laptops, etc are not evil, I do believe we need to be cautious as to how much time we are devoting to them. We need to be aware of where we are directing our focus. We need to be attentive of what is capturing our attention.
Perhaps you may not have an issue with technology distracting you from the Lord- good for you! Stay strong and be an accountability partner for those around you who are easily pulled away from the things of God because of the ever-increasing information age.
But if you are like me (a stay-at-home/work-from-home mom) and you are finding yourself with limited time to spend with Jesus in prayer and the Word, I challenge you to ask the Lord if there is something you can arrange in your schedule to allow better time management. Also, ask Him if He would like for you to fast (technology, that is) something that could be causing division between you and Him.
Devote specific time every day to spend some quiet time in fellowship with God and reading your Bible, without your cellphone or iPad within reach- turn them off during that time and perhaps put a timer on the most-used apps that you access throughout your day.
Be thankful for the benefits of the tools and global connections that technology brings us, but don’t allow technology to rob you of your connection to Jesus.
Let’s un-connect for a while, refocus, and reconnect with the Lord!
That was the extent of my examination at my release from the hospital after my first son was born as well as at my six week postpartum check up with my doctor.
And since that seemed to be the only question I had been asked regarding the issue, I thought I was free and clear from the dreaded PPD.
But as the weeks went on, I began to experience behavior and emotions that did not seem normal. I was arguing with my husband (which we seriously seldom do) constantly over the most insignificant things and I felt like I had no support, even though that couldn’t have been further from the truth because my husband is the most supportive and selfless man I know. I would belittle him and snap at him at the drop of a hat. I was suffering continuously with anxiety attacks to the point of hyperventilation because I didn’t like who I was becoming.
My attitude went beyond the effects of the normal sleep deprivation you experience with a newborn- I felt out of control and miserable. When my son finally fell asleep, I was unable to doze off and would just stare at the ceiling until 4 AM.
I really noticed that there was a problem when I felt rage welling up inside me when my newborn would not stop crying, and I couldn’t console him whatsoever.
I then began to argue with God:
“When am I supposed to read my Bible? When am I supposed to have ‘quiet’ time with You? I need Your peace because I’m disconnected from the Vine, but how, Lord? How?”
Although I felt like a failure, somehow I knew that it wasn’t my fault.
I began to research hormonal imbalances after pregnancy and PPD symptoms. I discovered that there are more issues associated with commonly known PPD, such as PPA (Postpartum anxiety). The more information I read about the symptoms of PPD and PPA, the more I was aware of my behavior and the more I could control it, instead of it controlling me. As a Christian woman, I knew to also fight with prayer and focus on renewing my mind by listening to His Word day by day.
In addition to prayer, I reached out to PPD/PPA support groups and other Christian women who have walked through it. I also have been watching my diet because the food you consume also affects your endocrine system, the system that produces and releases hormones in your body, in major ways.
Everyone’s body and situation are different. Some women need to be put on medication and/or need to see a counselor. Seek medical attention if you feel as if your symptoms are severe- you want to harm yourself or your baby. You are loved. You are not a failure.
Here is some advice that I learned during my recovery process:
Do not suffer in silence. Tell someone what you are going through. Don’t hesitate to ask for prayer or a listening ear. The enemy longs for you to stay in denial and allow your symptoms to worsen and drag you down into the pit of depression. Get as much sleep as you can. Your brain needs to be recharged, so try to sleep 5-6 hours a night and nap when the baby does (this is really true) – the house work can wait. Your recovery is more important. Avoid or limit caffeine. Try your best to cut back on your caffeine intake. I know, I know…I need my coffee! Unfortunately caffeine wreaks havoc on your endocrine system, so try to slow down or avoid how much coffee or soda you are drinking. Your body will thank you. Laugh! Laughing keeps your endorphins up. Find a funny movie that you enjoy or watch silly videos on YouTube. Tim Hawkins is a favorite one for me! Listen to the Bible or teaching. You most likely will not be able to sit down and do in-depth Bible studies or devotions like you used to and that’s okay. I have the Bible on my iPod and will plug it into some speakers and let it play throughout our house while I’m taking care of my son. Your mind must be renewed with the Truth so that you can combat the lies that the enemy tries to throw at you. PRAY! Jesus has sent us the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter and Helper so don’t hesitate asking Him for comfort and help at all times. Sometimes all you can pray is “help” and help will come!
Like I said before, you are not a failure!
Not only have you experienced a drastic change in your body, your life is forever different with the new addition to your family. Walking through these hormonal/emotional changes is all about recovery. And thankfully, as a Christian woman, you do not have to walk alone.
The Lord will help you and strengthen you. He is with you always and will see you through this!