It was a beautiful summer evening. A fire was crackling in the outdoor fireplace. I was surrounded by friends dear to me who were in discussion of the ins and outs of normal life and how to make it glorifying to God.
Then, the conversation turned and went that direction. Once again, I wondered if I would ever not hurt and feel sad when my friends discussed pregnancy and childbirth. It was no fault of their own that their bodies functioned normally and mine did not.
The orange and blue bath towels made it through the laundry yesterday, but they’re still in a pile waiting to be folded and put away. The few dishes I’ve used in the last days are balancing in the sink, waiting to be washed. Then, I overslept this morning, perhaps from the relief of not needing to get up at 4am.
When my youngest brother was still a babe in the crib, I used to sit in the rocker in his room and read while he napped; it was quiet and peaceful. Often, I liked to just watch his rhythmic breathing, steady and restful. It meant life.
People are confusing. They break promises, grow, move away, change their opinions—they’re hard to trust sometimes.
But God doesn’t change. He keeps His promises. He’s omnipresent, so He couldn’t move away. He should be easy to trust.
"So what do I do now?" I said to myself as I thought about the months stretched before me. I had just returned from Iraq and life in the states looked hard. There would be nine months of my life to live before I returned to land where I had felt purpose and fulfillment. Nine months of reading books and training to prepare me for my return. But what is a person supposed to do with nine months of waiting, of expectation for something?
My labor began late in the evening of the first day of spring. Nine long months of pregnancy, many of them bed-ridden with acute morning sickness, had finally turned into the countdown we’d been waiting for. I was one week overdue. My husband was so excited to be a daddy; I was so excited to meet the cherished little person who had been forming inside my body for nearly a year, and our families were excitedly waiting by their phones for the announcement. After being awake all night with contractions, the sun finally rose on Friday, March 21. We put the finishing touches on our hospital bags, took a long walk, and headed for our midwife’s office.
I sit down to write these words with my baby girl snuggled beside me. She’s a slobbering, giggling, big blue-eyed chunk of love. And the fact that she’s here, that I’m here, is nothing short of love.
When the Romans in the first century were trying to figure out magnification through glass, they probably had no idea how popular that concept would eventually become. But they should have figured it would become popular because we, as humans, are born with the desire to magnify something.
Many of us have had the privilege of growing up in Christian homes and attending church ever since we were babies. We could recite Psalm 23 before we could read. We are liberally doused in the Word of God; and yet, it’s so easy to not let the Word penetrate our hearts and truly change us. Our greatest spiritual growth will not happen on Sunday morning, but in the quietness of our own homes as we let God speak to us through His Word. How do we move from a quick reading, that we soon forget, to digging into, learning from, and applying the Bible?
As a mental health professional I am in a trusted position. By the time people come to see me they are often feeling a mixture of desperation, anger, sadness and hurt. Let’s face it, no one seeks out help when life is working for them.
As a child I remember the thrill of unwrapping the family Nativity scene every year at Christmas. Mom allowed my siblings and me to set all the pieces in the perfect arrangement. We carefully rotated the shepherds, wise men, and animals so that they surrounded Mary and Joseph, and most importantly, the baby Jesus.
I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You'd just say the word
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
Imagine you are stranded in the middle of the Atlantic. Your ship has sunk and now you are in a lifeboat with six other people, about to sink if you don’t get rid of some weight. Someone has to be thrown over.
18th century, Paris, France. Times are hard and money is scarce. Within the city, though, there is a tiny basement that’s filled with warmth and light and joy. This is because the basement is inhabited by a cobbler, Alaire, and his good wife Sophie. The basement serves as a home and workshop for the couple, and, although their earthly possessions are few, the couple lives a happy life, for they love each other and have learned the art of contentment. Alaire expresses his joy through singing, and as he works the shoe leather with his skilled and experienced hands, he warbles with vigor and gusto.
LURKING IN OUR MIDST IS A GREAT THIEF. He is the enemy. Can you see him? Do you hear him calling your name? Is he tantalizing you with forbidden fruit? Eve, the mother of all creation, knew him as the serpent. Cunningly, he deceived her by offering eternal life, but in turn, she found death. Presently, you may be deceived by the unnecessary pressures of measuring up: wearing the best clothes, driving the newest car, having the most fit body, and the list goes on. If you are facing these unnecessary pressures, you are not unaccompanied. Women throughout the ages have been warring with the enemy. The modern church is not alone in the battle of true femininity. From the days of Eden until present, Satan still seeks to destroy the beautiful design of women. We find ourselves with tainted hearts and mixed desires. Within us a war is raging. Our desires are contrary to our nature, and thus, we constantly fight the battle over truth and pleasure. Find a place of solitude, and seek to unveil the freedom found in being the woman God desires and has designed you to be. May we find ourselves refreshed as we being to unlock the life-giving freedom God offers in His design for women.
This person had done so much to ruin me that I didn’t know if I had it in my heart to forgive. Over the previous months, I had gone through many messy steps to try to attain healing.
There are a lot of reasons why a person would want to stay in the world. Entertainment, wealth, and independence entice some people, but not me. At a young age I knew I was different from other children. Their petty games and ideas didn't interest me. I spent my time trying to convert my friends and asking my school's principal if we could wear school uniforms. I think I longed for structure. As I grew up I lost some of that nagging desire and moved on to a normal childhood of normal interests. I loved movies and would frequently memorize every word. After school a friend and I would spend hours acting the scenes out in her front yard.
In the last few months, God has asked me to surrender some pretty big dreams and desires. I struggled for weeks about one dream.I did not want to surrender it. I allowed myself to be miserable for days until I realized i would not know true peace until I was willing to surrender. Just as God promised, peace flooded my soul when I finally gave in and surrendered my dream.
Honestly, I was pitying myself. Not throwing a big pity party, but definitely feeling bad for myself and for our family.
A brand new nephew had just been born and we were all absolutely delighted. We’d been looking forward to this day for so long! A cousin for our children, a new baby in the family; what could possibly be more exciting?!
"In this world, ye will have trouble. But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 33:16
In March of 2008 I stood in a little bathroom in Honduras, the white light stark and harsh on my features as I stared at my face in the mirror, baffled by how normal I looked. I expected something to be different. Something to show that my world was falling apart and the happy future I had taken for granted had warped and then vanished into a void of unknown fear and pain. My eyes looked darker than usual. Slightly puffy from crying. But now, I had moved to a place beyond tears. My main emotion was horror. And yet, the sadness in my eyes was almost unnoticeable, even to me. I braced myself and left the bathroom, trying to settle my mask even more firmly so the sadness didn't show because my siblings didn't know yet what was going on.