Christian living

Facing the Unknown

Unknowns

Recently, my son was diagnosed with something called Auditory Processing Disorder. (A condition where the brain misinterprets or doesn’t transmit signals to the ears and so a speech and comprehension delay occur.)

I struggle with wanting to see improvement in his speech right now, when reality is that it’s a life long issue just like my PAH or COPD.

As a parent, it breaks me that my son will be “different” and struggle in similar ways to me as a child. (Having a delay). I long to protect him from that pain.

However, as I started to internally ask God “why our son?,” my mind flew back to the times he wasn’t supposed to be a reality. The times we were told to “terminate” because “we don’t know how the pregnancy will affect him.” Or “your body can’t handle it.” The fight through preterm labor and the hours of labor and God’s protection.

God gave me the strength and faith to believe that He would do the impossible and He did .

I realize again and again that I have to continually put my son’s future in God’s hands just like I do my own. It isn’t a one and done process.

Today, my thoughts are again drawn to Hannah who asked for a miracle child and then had to fully trust God with that child’s future. Hannah didn’t have a chance to see the daily growth her child made, but instead had to be content with seeing Samuel once a year.

How easy it is for me to say “God I trust you with my son’s future” when it seems known! But the real test of my faith comes when I can’t fix it. The real test is trusting my child’s unknown future to an all-knowing God.

God has proven that He is able to take the brokenness in my life and use it to His glory despite the deficits I have. How much more able is He to use my son’s life for His glory? “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

My child is more than the one thing that is different. He has been beautifully crafted by a loving God. He is the result of crying and praying that our faith be made sight.

He is only 2, but already wants to be with the Teens at church. His smile lights our lives. His personality is precious and unique. He is whole and perfect in his imperfections.

I love the words “Every joy or trial falleth from above. Traced upon our dial by the Son of love. We may trust Him fully; all for us to do. They who trust Him wholly find him wholly true. Stayed upon Jehovah…”

Remembering the miracles and trusting God for more.

Christian living

     A Time To Rest

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Since being diagnosed, becoming a mom, and now a Pastor’s wife, I’ve discovered that life is a juggling of responsibilities rather than a list on which I can check off tasks.

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t LOVE to have a plan and stick to it! Maybe you’re the same way.

However, sometimes our “plan” differs from God’s. I found myself in that situation this week. Unexpected circumstances changed my list.

During this unexpected pause, I suddenly realized that I had become a Martha- so worried about what needs to get done and afraid to relinquish control- that I forgot to rest in Christ. Just rest.

Are you in a similar boat? Are you like a hamster on a wheel running so fast through life that you forget to intentionally rest in Christ?

When life changes and causes you to rest unexpectedly, it can either be a time of discouragement and frustration, or a time of encouragement and joy.

Here are some benefits to enforced rest:

1. We are able to really dig into God’s Word.

Oftentimes, like Martha, we can get so caught up in doing things FOR Christ that we forget to spend time WITH Christ. During a time when you can’t minister, God is giving you a chance to refresh yourself in God’s Word.

2. Your family is able to sit, listen, and be ministered to by other pastors (if a Pastor’s family) or if you’re sick, via social media (ours was via livestream).

In the Book of Mark, we see Christ Himself set aside time to be ministered to by God’s Word.

“And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”
Mark 1:34‭-‬35‭

3. We were able to relax and have fun!

Here is a verse in a similar vein, reminding us to take time and REST! “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” Mark 6:31

How can we as Christians minister to others if we are constantly exhausted? We can’t. We are instructed to do everything “heartily as unto the Lord” That’s not possible to do if we are not at our best.

The point of this is: Take Time To Rest in Christ.

Christian living

“Let” The Little Children

A mom came to church for the first time. She held a toddler in her arms. Her face was etched with exhaustion. She told me hesitantly that she hadn’t wanted to come before because she didn’t want her baby to disturb the congregation and didn’t want to leave him with family.

I told her I understood. I have a 2 year old and he was incredibly fussy until he stopped bottle feeding. The relief on her face was palpable.

You see, a year ago, I was that mom. Wary of the judgement I would face if he cried too loudly in service and wary of some moldy looking nurseries or nursery workers that were panicked because my son cried too loudly.

Church, anxiety as a mom is real. Church- we need to step it up! When the Disciples tried to step between Christ and the little children because they were “inconvenient”, Jesus reprimanded the Disciples and brought the children to Him and held them. Children are PRESCIOUS to Christ. Each child has an angel guarding them- that should tell us as Christians that we need to value children too.

When you hear a child cry in church, give the mom a smile of encouragement. When a new mom comes in, offer to help watch her child. It may be the only time that mother can grow spiritually without being surrounded by sticky fingers and Paw Patrol on repeat.

Church- be a refuge. Church- be like Christ.

Motherhood

But Grace Has Brought Me Safe: A Letter To My Son (written February 2019)

Dear Baby J,

We’ve been together for 8 months now, but you’ve been in my heart for so many years.

Before we knew you were here, I asked God to give me time. I asked Him to let me meet your dad when no one thought it would happen.

I was told it was impossible to have you and that I should give up. I screamed, begged, and cried to God asking Him to turn my dream of you into reality. I prayed for you. I didn’t know your name, but I loved you!

Doctors told me you would never be a reality or an option. They told me I would pay much too high a cost breathing for the both of us.

Your dad and I prayed for you for months before we were married and when we saw my Drs. they told me my body was stable and you were possible.

We waited and prayed and waited some more. God began a work in your dad and I. He strengthened our faith and taught us to love. He gave us love for children that wouldn’t ours by birth, but by choice. He taught us to fully surrender self to His will.

He gave us such a love and peace-one that we wouldn’t have learned to have otherwise. We asked Him to open doors soon to allow us to foster. When we surrendered to that possibility and stepped out in faith, He blessed us with you.

You’ve brought us closer in so many ways! Your dad and I asked God to protect you every night.

We can’t wait to meet you! The past few months have been hard, but you are worth every bit!

One of the scariest moments I’ve ever experienced was thinking that I would lose you. We spent the hour on the way to the hospital praying for God to keep you safe. It’s a terrifying feeling not being able to protect the one you love the most.

Thankfully, God spared your life and I got to see your beautiful heartbeat for the first time. I saw you.

This and countless other experiences caused me to reevaluate if I truly meant what I told God when I promised to give you back to Him. I had to question if I really trusted Him, even if you took you back before I met you.

Being with you has been a daily learning experience. I have to constantly give my fear to God and ask Him to take care of you, because I cannot humanly do so. I pray that God will protect you and allow me to be your mother.

Because of my conditions, I was assigned an O.B. nurse from my insurance company to help co-manage my care during pregnancy and to make sure we’re both doing well.

Today, I once again realized how God has held us both in His hand each week and how He’s shown His power through our lives. It convicted me. Despite everything your dad, you, and I have faced, God has shown Himself bigger than the impossible.

Drs. and nurses have met us both, and we’ve been able to share your story. I pray that when they hear it, they at least consider the possibility of a God who loves and cares for His own.

God has shown His grace and given us strength when we had none. He’s sent finances when we wondered how the bills would be paid, and He’s sent friends to encourage us when it was hard to be away from family.

You truly are our miracle. We love you.

Christian living

Why Am I Sick?

This is a question that I personally have wrestled with multiple times, and I’m sure many others have as well. While I’ve been given many pat answers and a lot of “advice, I simply want to give my opinion and why I feel the way I do.

Is The Answer Because I’ve Sinned?

No. More than once, I was told to “confess my sins” and God would heal me of my PAH. I begged for forgiveness and healing and was still sick. I was taken to a Psalm of David and another verse I was given was Isaiah 53:5 to back up this view

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” I was so riddled with guilt and anguish- all due to faulty Biblical interpretation.

Here’s the context: Isaiah 53 is a prophetic passage foretelling Christ’s death on the Cross. Being healed by His stripes references our healing from sin- not disease!! The Psalm I was led to was a confessional Psalm of David after his sin with Bathsheba. He was asking God to forgive his very obvious sin.

Not only is this mindset Pharisaical– if you’re healthy you’ve achieved a higher spiritual level so to speak- but it also does damage to not only chronically ill Christians who are struggling, but to those who unchurched- who are afraid and looking for answers- possibly for the first time.

Jesus Himself addresses this faulty thinking in John 9:2-3. A man is born blind, and the assumption is that it’s God’s judgement. Jesus answers the Disciples and shows them and us, that He is not a cruel God. “And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

The reason God allows all different trials, sickness, or maybe even death is for the same goal: to glorify Himself through us. It isn’t about US at all- but Christ working through us.

Is The Answer Because I Don’t Have Faith?

No! Let me be VERY clear. Do I believe God can and does heal? Absolutely!!! Is that always His will? No. The Apostle Paul was one of the most prolific authors in the Bible on faith. Yet, in 2 Corinthians 12, he states,”For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

If the Apostle Paul, who healed others simply by passing by, and wrote the Hall of Faith chapter, wasn’t healed, who are Christians today to judge one another as lacking enough faith to be healed?

I choose to believe that God is good and that He can work through my limitations. Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

For me personally, my illness has made me cling to Christ in a way that I otherwise never would have done. Life for me is a vapor in a very real sense and God is my refuge and strength from day to day.

Is The Answer Because God Has Somehow Chosen Me For A Life Of Pain?

No! Pain and illness started when man sinned. It grieved Jesus when people were hurting physically or mentally. I take great comfort in Hebrews 4:15a “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities…”

In the story of Lazarus, when Martha early on in the chapter laments that if Jesus had been there Lazarus would be alive, Jesus states that Lazarus will rise and then we see that Jesus weeps. Not for Lazarus- because He knows that he’ll live again- but for those who are mourning him. We serve a God of compassion- not a God who is vindictive or cruel.

In summary, God didn’t “call” me or anyone else to be sick. He doesn’t choose one person to suffer more than others. However, with the suffering He allows He gives grace to travel life’s journey. Another verse that I take great comfort in is the one below.

Thanks for reading! 😀

Uncategorized

[Un]Worthy

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Psalms 139:13-15

The first time I thought of this verse in reference to my own life, I was at a summer camp. I’d desperately wanted to go on the week’s hike but knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my cabin mates. A counselor offered to go with me on free time. I took her up on it.

As we were hiking, I confided that I didn’t understand why God had allowed me to be born the way I was. She mentioned Psalm 139:14 and told me that God made me just the way I am. She later mentioned running track. At that point, I knew she didn’t understand, but the verse has stayed with me.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve felt unworthy and unqualified not just physically, but spiritually. Little lies creep into my head telling me that I’m too broken. I won’t ever be fixed, so I am not worthy of love, my ministry, and cannot help anyone else.

However, that simply isn’t true. We serve a God who uses the broken things for His glory. We see in the Bible time and time again where God uses the imperfect.

In the passage I mentioned, I’ve seen the first verse quoted often. However, I don’t usually see the next verse quoted: For me, it changes the tone completely.

My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”

This verse gives so much comfort!! God knew my broken DNA in my mother’s womb and saw the lungs that would never fill fully with air. Yet, He chose to use me knowing since before I was born that I would be flawed and imperfect.

You may have an imperfection in your life or something you can’t control, and the Devil may sneak the same doubts into your head. However, you are valuable and God can use you.

Jesus states this speaking of our value to Him.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
Matthew 10:29‭-‬30

We are incredibly valuable to Christ!! A woman I think of often is Hagar. She wasn’t an Israelite, was a slave, was going to have her master’s child as a surrogate, and was angry at the whole situation.

She ran away into the desert with no food, water, etc. and God appeared to her and promised to make a great nation from her son. It says that then “And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?”
Genesis 16:13

God sees us. It’s a simple thought but beautiful in its’ simplicity!! God sees me. My pain, my flaws, my good and bad. God sees me and I matter to Him!

A great example of someone who was used despite his imperfections was the Apostle Paul. He stated this “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

In this verse we see the crux of the matter. It isn’t about us at all! It’s all about Christ and what He can do through a willing vessel.

Something that we can take comfort in is that God uses our brokenness for His glory. In John 9:2, we see the Disciples ask Christ “who sinned?” when faced with a blind man. Jesus’ answer explains it all: “Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
(John 9:3)

Sometimes God allows sorrow, pain, trauma, and sickness in our lives and it’s ok to wonder why, to mourn, and feel broken. However, God can heal us or use what we see as broken pieces if we let Him. God can allow us to comfort others and can use us to help someone else going through the same circumstance. The following verse is such an encouragement!

God has a purpose for our lives. He values us and will use us if we let Him

Inspirational

Remembering The Good

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" Philippians 1:6 

Today, as I sit in bed or on the couch resting between breathing treatments and popping Prednisone (and all the other meds I take to open my lungs when a cold is brewing) I remember the good.

Before becoming a mom, I scoured the internet for stories or tips on being disabled and parenting. I didn’t find much- and what I did find was written in a cloying or an overtly pitying way. With little resources to advise me, parenting with a disability seemed daunting to say the least.

What I learned throughout my pregnancy, birth, and am still learning today is that despite my disability, God is still good. God knew every aspect of what would happen. Despite every human “failure” and nothing going to plan, He made it good. Even during the “bad” days God is still good.

When I look back, I can remember God’s goodness time and time again. He gave me the instinct that likely saved my son from brain damage despite medical advice that I could push. He put the insistent thought in my head to go to the ER when my heart was failing. He gave me Drs. who helped me fight the endometrial infection and who staved off a transfusion.

However, in the humdrum of life I now sometimes lose sight of the miraculous. I forget the beauty lost in my new normalcy.

This morning, I was awakened by chest pain and a sink full of dishes that I wanted to do, but couldn’t because I had no strength. I had to sit and (gratefully) watch my spouse transform the mess into order

My 2 y.o. suddenly decided he didn’t like the breakfast he’s eaten multiple times. Later, during my SVN, he just wanted hugs as I rested in bed.

Today, he ran through the entire apartment while Grandma caught up to him. I was frustrated. At my lungs and at him. I was still frustrated that I couldn’t “do” and was so sick and tired.

Then it hit me again. The memory at the Perinatologist’s a few weeks before his birth. “His kidney is building up fluid. We think there’s a defect. You’ll have to have a pediatric nephrologist there when he’s born. We prayed and prayed. A few checkups later, the fluid had miraculously disappeared.

I suddenly thanked God that my son COULD run. Despite the medications & the problems with delivering, God kept him healthy and keeps me going from strength to strength.

EVERY Dr. I meet, including my newest, the preventative oncologist, hear my story & then ask hesitantly “how is he? I mean he can walk?”

Sometimes I get so caught up in the every day, I forget the wonder and the miracle. I lose sight of the goodness in the every day.

Messy fingers that can grasp a crayon.  Little feet that kick when angry or run from mommy laughing. Lungs that can scream or sing along. Eyes that love to watch a show or “read” his books. A mouth that smiles, loves to snack, and wants the last word.

The ability God has given me to enjoy each day with my son and his antics. The ability to watch him learn and grow. The fact that God has kept me thus far to see him grow.

Remember the goodness. Delight in the everyday.

Disability awareness, Inspirational

The Light In My Corner

In recent days, I’ve felt overwhelmed by events in the world & everyone’s views on social media. If I’m not careful, it’s easy to feel helpless and unable to DO anything- especially as someone with a Chronic Illness. However, as one of my Patient Navigators said, “You only have so many batteries and you want to spend as many of them as possible on your son.”

Does that mean that I don’t act or care about what happens in the world? Absolutely not! It does, however, mean that I realized something very important.

In the Bible, we see countless examples of Christ working in His immediate community to make changes. He didn’t travel to Rome or sign petitions. He didn’t make sure He was heard by Caesar. He simply loved people in His community and the surrounding areas. He also stood for justice for those people.

We see several times where He confronts the stigma of disability by stating that the person is not to blame and by actually SEEING them as people. He lifted those who were seen as “less”. He praised the woman who gave from her poverty, valued the Samarian woman, and didn’t prioritize those from whom He would benefit, but instead saw the brokeness of the Publicans and Sinners.

There’s a kids’ song that says:

“Jesus bids us shine,
With a clear, pure light,
Like a little candle burning in the night;
In this world of darkness, we must shine,
You in your small corner,
And I in mine.”

The Bible states in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

The point of this thought is, look around you. Changing the world starts with impacting one person for Christ. God can use whatever you CAN do for His glory. Start looking for opportunities with those around you. If all you do is go to Drs. appointments, you can still share the goodness of God in your life. If all you can do is be a stay at home mom, God can use you to instill Biblical values into your child. If all you can do is pray, God will use you to reach many that you may never even see.

We can all be used- and it starts with us seeing the need right next door 💜

Christian living, Inspirational

Controlling or Contented?

When thinking of women God used in Scripture, my mind was drawn to Sarah. In a time when women were seen as less, and didn’t have a voice, she was a strong, independent woman that ran a household. She eventually was the mother of a nation. She was also very vocal. Her whole life was made up of circumstances beyond her control. As many of you know, I’ve had many of those.  Maybe you struggle with what you can’t control just like I do.

I noticed a few things that we can learn from Sarah:

1. Sarah decided to control her circumstances based on her impatience.

In Genesis 16:1-2, she wanted an exact time frame of when a baby would be a reality. “And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.”
Genesis 16:2

Although God had promised her a biological son, Sarah didn’t want to wait any longer. She wanted a son NOW. To make a long story short, she ended up regretting her decision and her biological son and his half brother became enemies.

“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.”
Genesis 21:9 This had long lasting consequences

Ecclesiastes 3:1 states: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8

We may want something to happen when we think it should, but God’s timing is perfect. We, like Sarah, see the immediate good or impact of our plan. That is only a sliver of the picture God sees. In Ecclesiastes 3, the Bible says “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time:…”

2. Sarah decided to control her circumstances based on her fear

In another instance in Genesis 20:11,  Sarah lied to a foreign king about being married because she was afraid the king would kill her husband.

She, by omission, relied on what she worried could happen (fear) rather than God’s promises.  “And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake.” In verse 18, her lie had drastic consequences.

“For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.”

We at times tend to try to control our circumstance based on what we imagine will happen. This can and does lead to sometimes worsening the circumstances. However, Prov. 3:5 states “trust in the Lord with all thine heart.”

We may not understand why God allows things to happen or His timing, but we must trust that He has a purpose even through fearful times, struggle, and pain. Jeremiah 17:7 states, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.”
Wait for the Lord’s timing. He sees the whole puzzle- we see a piece.

3. Sarah tried to control her circumstances based on her doubt.

In Genesis 18:10-14, God told Abraham and Sarah, “…I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him…

“Therefore Sarah laughed within herself… And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the Lord?”

Sarah laughed because she doubted that God’s promises would be a reality. She looked at her circumstances from a human standpoint and thought God’s promises were impossible. God gave her a son the next year.

How many times do you or I look at circumstances that are humanly impossible and say “there’s no way this can get better or be resolved or that I can have anything good come from this.”

God gives us this assurance. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28

We can know that if we surrender our “control” God will handle the situation far better than we ever could in our finite minds!

If I’m being honest, I’m preaching to myself, because oftentimes I’m a “Sarah”.

I hope this is an encouragement to you that if you give up your control, God will give you- and me- something so much better! He will give us a resolution far better than any we could ever plan!

Just give Him control. It’s a daily battle, but you and I must daily tell Him “Take my life and let it be” and mean it.

Uncategorized

On Women’s Day

Today is apparently International Women’s Day. This made me stop and ponder the idea of being a woman and what it means to me. In society, we’re given two extremes. On one side, we’re told to fight for our rights, to be brazen, and never let a man hold us back because we are equal if not better.

The other side focuses on women being the feminine ideal. This means having the perfect outer appearance, hitting an ultra specific standard, and doing what is expected for your “stage in life”.

However, the more I grow in my own life, the more I realize I will never be either of those extremes. While I advocate for being feminine, my values will never be those of a feminist. I adhere to the “old school” of thought that I actually do need a man and that my husband actually does have the final say in major decisions.

On the other hand, while I am fully under my husband’s authority, we’re a team. I’m not a lesser being or doormat because I’m a woman. My main responsibilities are cooking, cleaning, etc because I’m a SAHM BUT if I’m unable to, my husband pitches in willingly and I don’t have to feel a false sense of shame.

In the Bible, we see a beautiful balance of femininity. We’re given examples of women like Deborah, who led an ARMY in a time where women were viewed as less. A contrast is the quiet Jael, who served dinner then assassinated a general.

We’re given the example of Sarah, who for better and sometimes worse, was a strong, independent woman that ran a household and was the mother of a nation. We see Esther, who had position but was terrified, who used her influence to save her people, not to better her own state.

We’re given the example of Hannah, a quiet, resilient woman who took the mockery of another without exploding in anger while longing for a child she thought would never be possible. An opposite of this is Martha, who was always busy talking, “doing,” and advocating for others.

As humans, we sometimes fall into the trap that we have to fit a certain mold. We have to shout our feminism from a rooftop to have a voice, or that we have to have 6 kids and a spotless house to be feminine enough.

What I want to leave you with is that God used women from all different walks of life with unique personalities who were surrendered to Him completely.

Sarah was bold and stepped out in faith into the unknown with Abraham. Esther was beautiful and knew it, but used that power for good. Leah wasn’t a beautiful woman in societal standards, but we see her quiet faith and loyalty to her husband.

So on International Women’s Day, use the gifts God has given you to advocate for others and to show Christ through your life. In the end, having the perfect makeup, spotless house, or protesting in the streets won’t change much. Allowing God to use you to impact others will.