With God

FullSizeRender (1)When the doctor handed him to me, I knew it was really happening but I still couldn’t believe it.  With a room full of those I love crying with me, it was real but so surreal.  And now he looks at me, deep into my eyes, and smiles. And I am captivated.  I can’t quit thanking God, and a lot of times I cry because I cannot believe I get to be a mom again. A mom to this sweet boy, a boy named Daniel. He’s such a gift, in so many ways, sent from God at just the right time.

When I think back to 10 years ago when all I wanted was a baby and look at now, seeing what God has done, I cannot keep it together. It’s so overwhelming and I can, today, say that the pain of infertility and miscarriages was worth it. These children were each one worth the wait, the struggle, the heartache. Joy comes in the morning, whenever that morning might be. I no longer mourn our many losses or ask God why because I know His plan for our family was and is perfect…and far better than I could’ve imagined.

With God all things are possible.

All things, everything.  That thing we think is impossible and could never happen…with God is possible. That thing man says will never happen…with God it is possible. When the world tells us it will never happen, when our circumstances or past experiences paint the picture that it will never happen, we can never say never when it comes to our God.  What we see with our small human eyes is nothing compared to what He can do and has planned for each one of us. Oh that we would stay in a posture of knowing that no matter what, with God all things are possible!

At 6 weeks pregnant, When I hit publish on the blogpost “And So We Wait” I immediately ran far away from my computer, sick to my stomach with anxiety at what I had just put out there. Looking back, I truly feel the prayers of many carried this baby to term.  Each of you that stormed the gates of Heaven on our behalf played a special part in Daniel’s life.  We thank you so much.

We are so in love, our hearts are so very full and we are having so much fun with our little gift. I give all glory to God.

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Love Runs Red

It’s Good Friday.  What an important day, a dark day, a special day, a brutal yet amazing day.  The day many, many years ago Jesus Christ sacrificed His perfect, blameless life for our salvation and redemption.  One man, one act, one horrific death for any and all.  It’s hard to comprehend!  I can’t think about that day without recognizing the significance of Christ’s bloodshed on the cross.

We all know what blood is, it’s the red fluid continuously circulating throughout our bodies composed of vital nutrients and transporting them to and from our organs.  It gives us life and without we cannot live…interesting, huh?

“For the life of a creature is in the blood…” Leviticus 17:11

In the Old Testament, God required animal sacrifices for the temporary forgiveness of sins.  Can you imagine?  I think it’s all I would be doing, sacrificing animals to live in a brief moment of freedom, a temporary time of forgiveness…wow.  Just wow.  I’m so grateful we live on this side of the cross, this side of grace, this side of the last blood shed for our permanent forgiveness…and then I think of what it cost and I’m overwhelmed and cannot believe I am loved so much– we all are!

“…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22

With blood we have life, without it there is death.  Through Christ’s blood, poured out on the cross we can truly have life and freedom.  His bloodshed wasn’t a temporary act like an animal sacrifice, but was and is a permanent reminder of our forgiveness of sins.  Of grace being enough.  Of Christ being enough.

“…and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in Heaven, by making peace through His blood shed on the cross.” Colossians 1:20

From the beating with the whips, to the crown of thorns, to the holes nailed in his hands and feet suspending Him on the cross, to the final pierce in His side, the weight of the sins, sadness and sufferings of the world were laid upon Him, one man, our Savior, Jesus…and then entered grace.  With each drop of blood that fell at the foot of the cross, each drop that rolled off of His brow, we are forgiven.  We are given grace.  Grace undeserved but given anyway.  We will continue to struggle with sin and sufferings until we meet our Savior face to face but no more is there a need for blood to be shed, just blood to be remembered and received.  Oh THANK YOU JESUS!

Love runs red.  On that dark day years ago and until He returns, His love runs red for you and for me.  Today we honor Him and remember His sacrifice by wearing red, won’t you join us!?

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us.” Ephesians 1:7, 8a (NIV)

Longing

img_6057For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to Him.” 1 Samuel 1:27

For me, most of 2014 was spent in quiet longing.  We experienced our fourth miscarriage early that year and with it came a season of great darkness for me.  A season of depression and sadness, questions and doubts and this longing for what I had lost.  I stayed there for a little while and let myself grieve, but didn’t want to stay in that place too long, it wasn’t fun and it was extremely lonely.  I tried to be positive and carry on and keep my eyes on Jesus, but deep down my soul was crushed.  I slowly crept out of the hole and turned my eyes away from what I had lost and focused on what I did have, the two amazing children God had miraculously blessed us with.  What miracles they were!  I thanked God profusely that He allowed me to carry and birth my little boy and my little girl.  And it helped, turning my heart from one of discontent to gratefulness…but the longing for another baby was still there.

An excerpt from my journal dated January 23, 2015…

Lord please take this longing from me. This longing in my soul that desires another baby. I want to want You and You alone. To long for You and You alone. Only You can satisfy. Help me get through this loss. The pain, grief that I feel as I move past this stage of having more babies. I trust You. Do I!? Is this really it? Are we really done? Will I never carry a baby again? Give birth again? Nurse again? Oh I grieve. I want to do those things, Lord. But not my will but Yours be done.”

Literally, that day, the longing for another baby relinquished.  He knew my heart and He answered the prayer to take my longing away.  Little did I know that EXACTLY 6 months (to the day) later I would randomly take a pregnancy test and see a baby in the making.  When I least expected it and against all odds, a baby.  The answer to my hearts longing and my many prayers and cries.  If you follow my blog, you know this pregnancy has come with great fear but as I am nearing the end of my pregnancy I am so overwhelmed at God’s goodness, greatness and His always perfect timing…I literally can’t quit crying as I write these words.

I want to give anyone overwhelmed with longing HOPE.  Whether it’s for a baby, a spouse, healing, whatever it may be, God hears our cries.  Not one goes unnoticed by Him.  He can handle our fears and our doubts and our questions and our tantrums when we don’t get what we want when we want it.  Trust me, I threw many a tantrum.  I grew weary and hopeless and doubted often.  And then I would feel bad for being so faithless and ungrateful. But Grace…ever adbundant even in our waiting- whether we wait patiently and expectantly or if we wait impatiently and hopelessly.

We may only see what we want but God sees so much bigger and so much more and knows it’s in the waiting where our faith can be replenished, restored and overflowing- even if at times it feels our faith has been destroyed, even if we “give up” on God…He never gives up on us.  Ever.  And He doesn’t get mad at us when we handle things imperfectly.  He is always sovereign and has a plan.  It may not look like what we thought it would, but God knows what He is doing and He loves us more than we know and is worthy of our trust and confidence in ALL things.  In hindsight, I see His hands always working things together for my good.  And I can see why this pregnancy happened when it did and not one day sooner.

There are other things my heart desires and I’m certain there will be more, different longings as the years go by.  I can say through the many miscarriages and decade of roller coaster emotions with great highs and deep lows, of miracle blessings and hard losses, He has taught me to receive grace in the wait and that HE loves me in the wait, no matter how I wait.  I’ve learned that He is in control and has a plan laid out so beautifully for me all I have to do is follow His leading.  To be still and know.  To lean into Him, to find comfort in His Word.  To know He holds me in the palm of His mighty hand and never lets me go.

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 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  Proverbs 3:5

 The words in this song are so beautiful especially to anyone in wait or in longing.  Lauren Daigle – Trust In You  http://youtu.be/n_aVFVveJNs

Sweet Surrender

35822694_mSurrender. It’s been my word of the year.  A word so prayerfully chosen at the end of 2014. A word sent straight from God because He knew how much I would need it in 2015, He knew the struggle I would have with it this year.  It’s no coincidence, either, that my verse of the year was Zechariah 4:6, “‘Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord.”

Reflecting on 2015, I failed a lot with this word and this verse, but looking back I did learn and can see God’s unending grace in those places I didn’t surrender or allow His Spirit to help me.

Surrender: to cease resistance and submit to God’s authority (yield); to abandon myself entirely, give into Christ, to submit

It’s very easy for me to surrender when the house is quiet and everyone is asleep, whether it’s 2 am or 6 am…but what happens to my surrendering when my littles are up and the rush of the day starts?  It often goes out the window with the first (or second or third) confrontation or cross word from a family member, or even a frustrating inanimate object (anyone else know what I’m talking about!?).  Ugh.  How I wish I could stay in a sacred spot of sweet surrender instead of letting life’s chaos, circumstances, and my to-do list sweep me out from that place, but as the Bible tells us, “…the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 26:41b) Oh yes it is.

Surrender is a constant redirecting of our wills to align with God’s. My will is pretty strong so this isn’t always natural, easy or consistent, but I know so many good things come out of a surrendered heart.  Surrender gives me the ability to love, forgive and give grace in the most difficult circumstances.  Surrender is love, it is forgiveness, it is grace. It keeps me in the place and position to love and not criticize, to forgive and not grow bitter or angry, to give grace and not judgment.  Surrender is freedom.  It’s life, victory, peace, joy, purpose, etc…It’s so many good, good things from a good, good God.

In surrender we trust God. It’s sanctification at it’s best and in it we are under the complete authority of our Creator and are greatly guided by Him.  He doesn’t force us to surrender, although sometimes I wish He would.  He leaves it up to us, it’s our choice;  a deliberate commitment necessary to live the life He has called us to live.  A life in tune with Him, a life devoted to Him, a life made abundantly full, whole and complete by Him and through Him.

Surrender: to give control to someone else, to allow something to influence me, to give myself over to Christ

Surrender is taking everything I hold on to so tightly and laying it at my Savior’s feet, giving it to Him- my children, my husband, my marriage, this pregnancy, my fears, strongholds and insecurities. It’s trusting Him with my prayers and dreams and believing He will answer them according to His plans, not mine.  It’s letting Him have me. It’s choosing to breathe and ask Him for help when my kids are not listening and driving me crazy and all I want to do is yell at them.  It’s doing what God has called me to do, even if it goes against the flow; seeking His approval above all else (agh, a tough one for this trying-to-be-ex-people-pleaser). It’s letting go and letting God; saying “YES” to Him and knowing that He has equipped me for whatever He is calling me to do. It’s slowing down and being in the moment, each moment and breath a gift from God to be used for His glory, not my fleshly desires.

Surrender: to agree to stop fighting, hiding or resisting because I know I will not win or succeed

Surrender is choosing to stop and think before responding to someone, because a lot of the time what I really want to say doesn’t line up with what the Lord would have me say.  It’s choosing to pause before reacting in a harsh manner towards someone who has offended or misunderstood me and letting God give me the words to say- or not say.  It’s letting Him guide me, knowing He is always fighting for me, I just need to be still.  It’s giving Him my thoughts and emotions and allowing Him to drive my actions, not my fickle feelings, keeping my eyes on Him, not on what’s going on around me.  It’s knowing this life is fleeting, just a vapor, and we are only here a short time. Bottom line, surrender is allowing God to not only be Lord of my life as I claim but to be Lord, King, Ruler, Decision-Maker of my day, my to-do list, my schedule, my relationships, my words, my thoughts, my all.

A friend recently asked when Jesus became real to us, and for me, Jesus becomes real when I surrender.  Not that He isn’t real when I’m not surrendering but His awesomness and power are extremely evident in my heart, soul and life when I get out of the way and let Him move and work and mold and do His job.

“Then Jesus said to His followers, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang onto your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Matthew 16:24-25

As I end this year, I am hopeful.  Hopeful that the lessons learned on surrender throughout 2015 will be stored in my heart with gratefulness, knowing how perfect and strong our God is and how imperfect and weak I am.  Never forgetting that God can bring good from any situation, even the worst of them, and committing to staying surrendered even if this good might not look exactly like I thought it would.  I do pray for my mind, heart and soul to surrender more consistently and deliberately in 2016.  Knowing my prideful independent self will at some point resist Him, I am grateful that He will guide me and my strong will back to the spot of sweet surrender never ceasing to give me abundant grace along the way.

A prayer for today~

Dear sweet, sweet Jesus…You made the ultimate surrender when You came to earth, lived, died and rose again for us.  You came to do your Father’s will…oh that we may do the same!  Your will, not our own.  Our lives are Yours!  Use us, guide us, direct us and keep redirecting us as we find this place of surrender to You, the One who knows us better than we know ourselves and has a plan of our lives that is far greater than anything we could ever imagine.  May we surrender it all, not just the places that are easy or comfortable.  We are thankful for Your grace, Your kindness and Your love.   How can we ever repay you but to live wholly for You and You alone.  Help us get out of the way, help us to only hear and heed YOUR voice and no one else’s.  We thank You for the freedom and fulfillment you bring in surrender.  In Your Holy name, Amen.

~Do you do a Word of the Year?  My friend, Heather Patterson, first gave me this idea and I’m so grateful!  Click here to read her blog series about a Word of the Year!

~If you enjoy music, Touch the Sky by Hillsong United is a beautiful song about what happens when we surrender     …I found my life when I laid it down…I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground…🙂

When All We Can See Is Bad

Turn on the news and it’s heartbreaking.  Devastating.  We don’t see a lot of good going on and the world we live in seems to get scarier and scarier. It’s a messy, fallen, broken world full of messy, fallen, broken people.  What are we to do??

When all we see is bad, we lose sight of the good.  We wonder where God is in all of the pain and suffering, not only in world events but the circumstances we might be experiencing in our own lives.  We wonder how a good God could allow such bad things to happen…

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” Proverbs 3:5

It’s not God’s desire to cause people to hurt, but my how He can use painful times to bring about good, growing us and causing us to turn our eyes toward Him.  What we see or experience is often hard to comprehend, so we must know and trust our God.  We must know and trust that He is good, He is with us, He is in control, He knows all and sees all, He loves us, has a perfect plan, can redeem and heal even the messiest situations, and can bring comfort and peace to a heart filled with the opposite.  I will say it again, He is good, He is with us, He loves us and He can bring good from bad.

Sunday night I was overcome with emotions over the recent events in our world.  Fear, sadness, desperation…I got on my knees and cried out to God to protect His people.  But then I realized although it’s a good prayer, and one we should be praying, it’s a selfish prayer.  God’s people are sealed, guaranteed eternal life through His son, Jesus Christ.  Shouldn’t I also be praying for protection and salvation for those who don’t yet know Him?  Those who need Him in the here and now but also for all eternity?  For the Lord to use these bad times for good, to draw others to Himself?

Christians, may we use this time as an opportunity not to shrink back but to rise up and be bold in our faith.  For it to flourish and grow.  May we take hold of Christ and shine His light of hope and peace in the darkest of places. May we seek God through His Word and with other believers so we know exactly who this God is that we place our trust in.  He is peace in the chaos, He is faith and not fear, He is worthy of our trust.  May we turn to Him when the anxieties and fears creep in (like they did for me last night when I watched the news again…ugh). 

“When I am afraid I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

I pray we also can be honest with our children about our fears but never stop pointing them to the One that is bigger than any of our fears.  Let them in on the verses above and below, memorize them together, pray together.  The news isn’t getting any better and we are raising the next generation, oh how I pray they are a generation that seeks God’s face amidst any and all trials and circumstances.  We can teach them that He is good, He is with us, He loves us and He can bring good from bad.

When all we see is bad, let’s look at the good.  Look for God, seek His face, and let His goodness unfold through the storms.  It’s where He works best and where we seem to grow the most.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear but one of power, love and self control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

One of a Kind

IMG_5869While at the store one fall day, I picked up some small striped pumpkins, mainly because I thought they looked really neat and would add to my seasonal décor, but when I took them out of the bag at home, I noticed how vastly different each one was even though they were the same type of pumpkins.  I immediately thought of how different each of us are; how different God makes each of us.  We are all human, we are all made in His image (Genesis 1:27), yet we individually have certain character traits and physical features that set us apart from one another, just like these pumpkins.

Not only did these little pumpkins remind me of God’s creativeness in fearfully (meaning with reverence or awe) and wonderfully designing each and every person that ever was, is and will be, it makes me feel very special and loved to know that I was thought of and known even before my conception- even before the world began we were thought of by our God! It’s so amazing!

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” Jeremiah 1:5a

“Long before He laid down the earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love…” Ephesians 1:4a

We were made by God and for God.  Ephesians 2:10 states that we are His handiwork, designed for the good works He has already determined for us when we walk in them.  Basically, God has a unique plan for each and every one of us!  When we walk in the way of Him and His design for us according to His Word, He does a mighty work in and through us.  By faith and in our obedience, His artistic process of making us into His image continues.  It’s beautiful, isn’t it!?

You, like these cute pumpkins, are one of a kind; there is no one else like you nor will there ever be anyone else like you.  Memorize these truths for yourself and let them sink into your being so you never doubt your (or other’s!) beautiful design, uniqueness, purpose or the plan God has for you (or them!)!


An activity for children:

  1. Gather two or more pumpkins (other items could work great too- fruits, vegetables, plants, flowers, leaves)
  2. Have the children take note of the differences in each one…if you have older children, they could write them down, maybe making it a fun game of finding ten things that are different between the pumpkins, you could also circle any obvious differences on the pumpkins.
  3. Talk to your child about how just as God created these pumpkins one of a kind, he made each person one of a kind.
  4. Going over Ephesians 2:10, let them know they were created in their Creator’s image, they are His workmanship, His work of art; they were thought of by God way before they were even in their mother’s belly!
  5. Talk about how awesomely and wonderfully God made them; how unique, beautiful, loved and wanted they are by God and you!
  6. List the ways they are unique and beautiful.
  7. If they have siblings, celebrate their differences.  Let them know they are one of a kind and there’s no need to try and be like anyone else.  Often we want to compare our children (or ourselves!) to others…this, too, takes away from God’s unique design of your child, try not to do it.

TIPS:

~Grab a Bible and look up the verses together, they are woven all throughout the Bible–you could make this a Bible drill type of game or just use it as an opportunity to get into the Bible together and find the verses together.

  • Genesis 1:27
  • Psalm 139:14
  • Jeremiah 1:5
  • Ephesians 1:4
  • Ephesians 2:10

~For younger children, the verses can be broken down:

    • (child’s name)    , you were created in God’s own image (Genesis 1:27)
    • You are so awesomely and wonderfully made! (Psalm 139:14)
    • God thought of you long before you were in mommy’s belly, even before He created the world! And He even knew you then! (Jeremiah 1:5, Ephesians 1:4)
    • You are God’s work of art! (Ephesians 2:10)

~If your children can read, write the verses (or fragments) out and have them read them aloud.  Have them practice memorizing the verses in their entirety.

~Remind them that just as they are God’s handiwork, so are others; they should not only treat themselves as such, but others as well.

~Talk about God’s special plan and purpose He has specifically laid out just for them.  Include what God has already done in their life, or any way God has used your child to grow your faith.

NOTES:

~There are so many ways to utilize this activity on a daily basis: with clouds, trees, sunsets, etc…

~When you are shopping at the grocery store you could have a hayday with all the various looking fruits and veggies! And what a way to keep a child entertained while you shop! Give them two of any fruit or vegetable and have them list the differences.

~When shopping at the mall, sit down and people watch, admiring God’s art work in people passing by.

I want my children to know these truths and understand how vastly important and unique they both are.  I couldn’t wait to sit down with them, observe the differences in these sweet pumpkins and discuss the creativeness of our God in each of them…my little pumpkins.