Tag Archives: HOPE

To All Mommas, From an Outsider

To All Mommas

Hi Mommas,

Mother’s Day is this weekend and I’ve been thinking about writing this for too long now, so this forces a deadline on me. I am not a mom yet, but I hope to be soon and I wanted to write this while I’m still an outsider looking in.

I realize that your time is limited, so I promise not to take up too much of it. I also realize that you’re likely reading this while parked in the school pick up line, procrastinating folding laundry while the kids are all in school, or those ever long but needed bathroom breaks (what was my mom doing in there for soooooo long?) so I’ll get to the point.

I just wanted to let you know that as an outsider, I think you all are remarkable and I have some encouragement for you!

I often think that my friends think I’m just being kind when I say what I just said, but I’m honestly shocked at how incredible you all are!! You not only made a human, but carried them for 9 months, and then (oh my goodness) you birthed them or had major surgery to have said human(s). Now you’re doing the 24/7 always on the clock job of mothering!!

Seriously, hats off to you…I’m in a standing ovation applauding you over here, as this is no small thing. Stephen and I love kids and we want to be parents, but we don’t by any means think it’s a walk in the park.

We see your struggles and we salute you! There’s so much competition these days and parents already have plenty to deal with without adding Pinterest perfect parties into the mix!

We always say, if your kids are alive, you’re alive and you’re not negligent, abusive, or dealing with substance abuse, you’re doing a good job!

(We often say this in a light-hearted way to encourage our friends, but even if you fit the struggles I just mentioned, there is help out there for you and it’s not too late to become a better parent :) )

I realize for you it might not always seem like you’re amazing, so here’s a few of my encouragements I hope you can carry into Mother’s Day;

1. Stop the comparison trap

She stopped breastfeeding her baby when they were 6 months old and your child was old enough to ask you to stop.
She never allows screen time and you carry three types of portable charging stations to keep all of your devices powered.
She went back to work after a month and you’d never consider leaving your little one.

These are all choices and shouldn’t be reasons to be ashamed or to shame others.

Yes there are overall wise steps one can take and doctor’s advice that can best help your baby and growing children, but at the end of the day you’re presented with millions of choices and you have to do what works best for your family and what you’re willing to accept responsibility for.

There is research I’ve seen that says that young moms today are more stressed today than in their parent’s generation. It’s no wonder when social media seems to fuel this mommy comparison trap. I now have several friends apologizing for posting two pictures instead of one about their kid’s birthday or other cute things.

When did this become a thing?

I can’t speak for others, but I for one am not a Instagram or Facebook police who goes around counting posts to see how many times you’ve posted in the last day or two… “ain’t nobody got time for that” ok?

I just scroll, read, and like posts (I’m currently overusing the Facebook reactions—help!) and I love pictures of you being a mommy and your cute kiddos! Since we travel all of the time we mostly keep updated with people on social media and it helps me know more of what’s going on in your lives and how to pray for you.

So mommas, if you want to post 1,000 pictures of your children everyday, do it! As I mentioned before, you carried them, brought them into this world and are their full-time caretaker, so don’t apologize.

Remember if someone else has a problem with you “overgramming” then they can unfollow you ;-) This leads me to #2.

2. Stop apologizing to me. 

Yes, your child interrupted me while I was speaking and asked you a question. It’s ok, I’m 29 and they’re 4, one of us has had more time to understand social interactions. I know they’re learning and you’re doing a great job teaching them.

Yes you just gave an entire Starbucks cookie to feed to your tiny child, but I realize you just changed a diaper blow out after walking out of the door and you forgot to grab a healthier snack. If you don’t feed them something, you’ll have to leave all together while they have a melt down that makes you lock yourself in the bathroom. By all means, get their blood sugar up ;-)

No, I don’t think you’re a bad mom for wanting to talk to me and giving your kids 5 back to back Shaun the Sheep episodes (can I just say how much Stephen and I adore Shaun?!?) so we can talk for an hour.

I know what a crazy season of life looks like without kids, so I have grace for what you’re dealing with by adding kids into such a season.  You have to make do with the season you’re in, which leads me to #3.

3.Stop cleaning up for me.

You are not doing me any service by putting on a fake representation of how motherhood will be. I know that  you want things to be ideal for us to hang out or for people to visit your home and I appreciate that.

If by some random chance your home is always 100% tidy, your kids never interrupt you while you’re talking and food always stays neatly on a table verses finding sticky syrup everywhere, then continue in that way. However, if things are sometimes messy and out-of-place and you’re on your 4th cup of coffee at 2pm, don’t hide that either.

That’s real and that is the rawness and beauty of motherhood. I want to glimpse into that. I also want to spend time with you and I don’t mind distractions.

Motherhood is hard work and you’re a beast at your job, don’t make it look effortless–show off your skills! Some of your days are full of dipper blowouts, everyone including you are in tears, and you go walk aimlessly through Target when your husband comes home just to gain some sanity.

I know because I’ve been there to experience some of these and remember my sweet mom very graciously raising two brothers and myself.

All of that is ok. You’re doing something incredible and absolutely precious. Treasure that. Let me in and outsiders like me who love you and support you. If you are going through challenges, ask for prayer or for help. You’re not expected to do this alone and even outsiders or not –yet mommies can help by being friends and praying for you.

I’m not asking you to clean up the smashed and crusty bananas from your couch cushions or even brush your teeth for me (drink that coffee girl!). I want you to be a great wife (to the mommas who are married), a fabulous momma, and with what you can be, a loving friend who shares her life with others.

You don’t need to be perfect for me or anyone, just be you!

You’re doing great mommas and I’m cheering you on!

Also—can some of you remind me of this in upcoming years please?? 

My Grandmother’s Dandelions

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My grandmother, my mom’s mom, sent me an email of a comic strip this week.

She’s 88 and not only does she use an iPhone, Facebook, and Instagram, but she has a better memory than I do sometimes. Maybe this happens because she’s fully present in a given moment and makes you feel like you’re the center of her world. I always joke with her that she’s not that old because my memory is worse than hers.

When I opened the comic, I had no idea why this was relevant. I asked her why she had sent it and she recalled an exchange between she and I a few weeks previously.

Most of my mom’s side of the family had been in together celebrating Easter and some birthdays so we all went out in the backyard to take a family picture to capture the moment.

Upon coming around the corner from her patio, I noticed Spring had indeed sprung up with a bunch of dandelions scattered all over her yard.

I said, “Wow look at all of those dandelions!” which were literally everywhere. I said this in a negative way as I was thinking of the toil involved in removing them.

My sweet grandmother says as giddy and thankful as possible, “Oh…Thank you God!!”

Perplexed, I asked, “You’re thankful for the weeds?”

She said, “Yes (giggled) they’re beautiful”.

The Hi and Lois comic she sent me had a little baby admiring the dandelions calling them pretty flowers and assuming that the mother must like them too because she was picking all of them. The mom is then shown gathering the weeds and quite flustered and complaining.

One saw the beauty in the evidence of Spring and another experienced the toil and nuisance of Spring.

I laughed that my grandmother remembered this and I wondered how I had forgotten it so quickly.

I assume if I had the perspective that she had that I would’ve remembered it because I would’ve been thankful like she was.

This made me ponder about how many times I’ve chosen to look at situations with an ungrateful heart and missed out on a moment to be thankful and to stop “smell the roses”( or dandelions as the case may be).

How many times have I acted old but not wise in my age? How many times do I not see with the simple faith of a child?

While I joke with my grandmother about truly being younger than me at times, I think that she has learned to have faith like a child. Even though there is a 59 year age difference where I am obviously younger, I often see things like the mom in the comic strip and instead of being thankful, I become frustrated.

After the exchange between my grandmother and I, my youngest cousin picked up a dandelion that just had seeds and blew it all over the ground.

Yes, that created more dandelions if they took root, but she seized the moment to be thankful too and created a memory instead  of losing a moment like I had. 

This little reminder with the dandelions is helpful to slow down and see the beauty even in things that are annoying and will require a little extra effort.

If you’re anything like me, stop and appreciate the small things of beauty. I immediately saw a task that needed attention instead of the fun and beauty that dandelions can produce. I forgot a moment with my precious grandmother when she savored that moment.

Also, if you have dandelions, once you’ve admired them, then go get your lawn mower or some weed killer because clearly your yard needs some attention ;-)

Happy Spring! 

Confessions of a Not So Newlywed

CONFESSIONS

As I recently drove past a church on a main road on a Saturday night, a limo pulled out onto the oncoming lane and left behind lots of nicely dressed people waving goodbye with bubbles celebrating the newlyweds. I smiled and watched the limo disappear over the hill in my rear view mirror. I had flashbacks to the day I married Stephen. The overwhelming joy, my dress, our friends and family, how perfect it all was. I thought about what I’d tell this young couple if I had the chance to talk to them.

Stephen and I have been married now a little over 3 years. This puts us in what I’d call the “not so newlywed” stage. This is the phase where you’re out of the “honeymoon” stage and where you’ve sent out quite a few Christmas and thank you cards as a couple, but where you still find yourself staring at your spouse wondering, “Am I REALLY married to you??” both in good as well as confused ways.

Let me preface this blog by saying I am certainly NOT an expert on marriage. At 29 years of age, I am constantly learning more and more about everything. These are just some thoughts that Stephen and I’ve written over the last year or so of our marriage.

1. Marriage is not easy

(and all of my married readers shouted “AMEN”)

I honestly came into marriage with what I thought were fairly realistic expectations. I didn’t think it would be “happily ever after” or “picture perfect”, but I also didn’t expect it to be SO much work!

It’s not that marriage isn’t amazing, because it is! I’d HATE to scare any single friends out there. But I will say, it is hard work when you’re both TRULY committed to one another and have each other’s best interests at heart. You are two entirely different people who’ve lived two separate lives (even if you’ve been dating since the 8th grade).

Marriage is a collision of worlds, both in glorious ways and in ways that conflict.

It takes a lot of intentional focus and effort to make marriage work and it requires you to die to yourself daily like no other relationship. This is work that you both have to fully commit to in order for it to happen. It’s not something that can be delegated or be disregarded.

If you find yourself frustrated or freaking out because communication isn’t as easy as it was when you were dating or engaged, you can’t seem to agree on anything, or you feel like you’ve married a stranger—relax! You’re not alone! I congratulate you on being on a WONDERFUL journey where you get to grow and learn together.

2. Infatuation will end

Psychologists say that infatuation, or those “oooo” and “ahhhh” feelings last at most for 18 months. They say that after that time you will never ever experience those same feelings ever again.

That sounds like a heart breaking and traumatizing statement! However, those infatuating feelings are what keep some couples together and help them make a commitment to marriage.

Instead of the fickle feelings your relationship started with early on, you get to build upon true love. A self-sacrificing, self-denying, preferring one another kind of L—O—V—E. This love can still give you fun “oooo” and “ahhh” feelings, but it’s built upon a deeper mutual respect and trust.

To say that I was disappointed when I fell extremely ill on our honeymoon or got in a bad car accident shortly after being married is an understatement. We didn’t experience a great honeymoon or a “honeymoon” stage. For the longest time I was very upset and I felt like I had been robbed of what I thought I was entitled to as a newlywed.

I came to realize that Stephen and I get to build a foundation for our marriage that few get to  so early on through the hardships we’ve already faced. We get to choose love in the darkest, scariest, and most trying moments. We don’t choose to stay only in the realm of our feelings, which change day-to-day and from moment to moment. We have the opportunity before us daily to choose to love with a greater love than we could ever be capable of on our own.

3. Some days I want to be single again

I don’t mean to sound like I’m ungrateful because I’m truly thankful that I’m married or that I’m saying that my husband isn’t incredible, because he is.

It’s just that some days I want to be selfish and not have to think of someone else. When you’re married, you aren’t the center of your universe anymore and there is someone else to constantly think about and include. Sometimes I just want to check out on reality and only think about me. EEEEK—too honest?? I’m sure I’m not alone in this right? Help a girl out ;)

What I’ve found though, is that on the days I feel like this, as I listen to the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit, I find how marriage is refining my heart to be more like Jesus. I can step back and realize marriage is forcing me out of my independent ways so that I’m more dependent on God in every way.

When I got married, we became one in every aspect. When I desire to have certain things the way that they were before we got married, I’m essentially separating what God has joined together.

4. Your relationships will change

Not all of them, but some relationships will change and not because you’re driving them away. It’s just a different circle or season of life that you’re in. The positive and beautiful side to this is that you two as a couple get to make friends together.

I feel absolutely spoiled by the love I’ve received from Stephen’s friends from all over the world. I’ve been hurt by and sad to lose other relationships, but every season holds its own beauty and its own disappointments. Embrace the new relationships together and work hard to keep the established friendships of those who love and believe in you.

5. You’re going to disappoint your spouse and even yourself.

Hold back your laughter, but I thought that I would be an awesome wife.
I thought I might even vacuum while wearing pearls!
Boy was I WRONG!

After Stephen and I withstood tough battles with his health problems in 2011 and a long-distance engagement, I thought that marriage was going to be fairly smooth sailing.

Little did I realize how insecure, selfish, prideful I was and it came pouring out like hitting the jackpot in a slot machine.

Give you and your spouse a break!
Marriage to one another is new for BOTH of you. Try to learn to be thankful for what they do and who they are and likewise what you contribute to your marriage as well.

A wise person once told me that you might only be 26 years old and 33 years of age like we were when we got married, but at your anniversary, you’re only 1-year-old as a couple, 2-year-old etc.

You wouldn’t expect a toddler to take care of itself, so work together to let your marriage grow and mature into something beautiful. Your spouse is with you in this process of change, so CLING to one another, and be QUICK to forgive and QUICK to ask for forgiveness.

 6. Sexual purity is just as important in marriage as it is before marriage.

I look back on our dating and engagement seasons with such joy and thankfulness. There’s not a day that I regret remaining pure with one another not just in action, but also pure emotionally and in our thought lives.

I never once felt uncomfortable around Stephen or regretted any interactions we had. I know this was the grace of God that came from a firm commitment we made before we even met to be pure sexually and emotionally. I have the same feelings of peace and thankfulness when I think about our marriage now.

Sexual purity, like anything else comes with the price of hard work. You must be willing to be honest and transparent with one another and set healthy boundaries in your marriage.

We’ve set strict boundaries in our marriage, not because we’re being tempted or because we don’t trust one another. We have them in place to protect and preserve our marriage and ensure that we remain faithful to what Jesus has for us.

Will you put up safety guards on your Internet to avoid porn sites? Will you include your spouse on a text message to someone of the opposite sex? What about riding in the car with the opposite sex? These examples are just to name a few considerations.

These might sound like legalistic rules, but let me assure you—you can’t have too much communication or openness. Not only will your marriage feel the safety, peace, and integrity that you establish, but it’ll be reflected to the world around you.

7. Counseling is priceless.

I wish couples spent some of the money that they typically spend on a wedding and invested it into their marriage.
Seriously though-sure the wedding day is beautiful and you’ll decorate with those pictures for the rest of your life except for me who doesn’t have any albums made yet.

However, in hindsight I’m glad we didn’t break the bank on our wedding, nor did our parents. We’ve been able to invest money into counseling, books, dates and vacations to help our marriage continue to flourish.

I don’t feel like you can put a price on counseling for marriage. It isn’t just for those who are facing divorce or have some deep issue going on. It can be for maintenance in your marriage and help you understand one another and grow together.

I personally know several friends who’ve gone through counseling with their spouses and have benefited so much from it. I recommend seeing a licensed counselor with a Biblical worldview that can give educated and also godly counsel.

Learn to laugh together and to lean on the Lord! He designed this beautiful covenant and He has all of the wisdom we need to build our marriages well.

 

My biggest confession of all is that I wish I’d met and married Stephen sooner! Life with him really is the best!

Where Feet May Fail–Overcoming the Fear of Failure

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Have you ever felt paralyzed to move forward with something?
Have you stepped out and had a bad experience and purposed in your heart not to try again?
I’ve been there and I think all of us have faced failure to some varying degree in our lives. I’ve learned a few things from my experiences and I want to begin 2016 by becoming a water walker.

When we moved to Madagascar in 2014, we asked people to pray for us whenever they heard the song, “Oceans”, by Hillsong since we were in fact moving to the middle of the ocean. The lyrics spoke such life into me during a season where I needed them the most and wrote about it some on my blog here.

Some of my favorite lyrics say,

“Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.”
This song is about the story of Peter walking on water to meet with Jesus. To understand what I mean by becoming a water walker, we’ll need to look at the story of Peter found in Matthew chapter 14.

When they added subtitles in the chapters of the Bible, they didn’t title this story “Peter fails and sinks”, “Jesus rebukes Peter’s faith” or even, “Peter walks on water”.
It’s titled “Jesus walks on water”.
This goes to show this story has very little to do with Peter’s ability to do something and everything to do with Jesus’ empowerment.

To Peter’s credit, I love how when Jesus called to Peter that he came. He was wiling to come when everyone else sat in the boat. He went TOWARDS Jesus and AWAY from the boat that confined everyone else.

The Bible doesn’t tell us how many steps Peter took on the water before he sank. For all we know he could’ve walked half way across the lake or maybe he only took two steps.

I try to put myself in the shoes of Peter because in acting you have to do this to try to understand what motivation your character has for their actions. This story causes me to ask myself all sorts of questions like–Did Peter think that first step was actually going to work?
Was he wondering how it would be possible to walk across the water to Jesus?
When he realized that he could walk on water, did Peter think it was of his own accord?
However many steps he took and whatever questions he might have thought, the Bible is clear that Peter got distracted by the wind surrounding him.

When Jesus says,” O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”, I don’t believe it was this harsh disappointment of, “Really Peter?! You failed?! Good job–well now you’re sinking!”. I believe it was more of an empowering rebuke of, “Hey I had you–did you not know that I was keeping you afloat? Why did you doubt me? Why did you move your trust off of me?”.

It was a learning lesson not just for Peter, but for the other disciples as well AND a lesson to you and I.

When I let my fear of failure keep me from ever stepping out of the boat, I don’t leave any opportunity for Jesus to sustain me or to catch me when I fall.

Where Feet (1)

Peter needed to know that you have to come to the end of your faith in yourself before you’ll ever see the true beginning of what your faith in Jesus will look like. Jesus knew that this moment would prepare Peter for the future. He knew that one day Peter was going to deny Him three times and feel like a total failure.

Walking on water was an illustration to show Peter that he was going to do something no one else had ever done because of Jesus’ empowerment. This happened so that when the biggest heartache of his life comes later on from denying Jesus and knowing he died, he would know there was a hope of redemption.

Maybe Peter eventually had the thought, “If I started to sink because I got distracted with the storm around me and Jesus caught me, He can catch me again in this storm that I am in now.”

Jesus knew that getting Peter to walk on water that it would not only prepare him for other times when his faith would fail, but it also taught Peter to stand in difficult circumstances. He had to learn to rely on Jesus so that he would be prepared for the day when he would lead the church.

He learned to step out so that others could follow. The principle I’ve taken away from this is that if I don’t leave my comfort zone, I can’t lead people out of their comfort zones.

I love the end of John chapter 21 when Jesus has been resurrected from the dead and restored Peter. He says these words in verses 18-19, “ Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish. This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’”

These are the last words that we have noted where Jesus is speaking directly to Peter. Jesus is talking about Peter’s death here and how he would die in a way that would glorify God by dying on a cross. Jesus uses the words, “you walked where you wished” which reminds me of Peter taking the steps to get OUT from where he was comfortable and walk where only Jesus could sustain him. In Peter letting himself actually feel his feet failing and Jesus catching him, he was prepared for the storms to come.

I think so many times we resist the storms because we think we might fail. We get afraid to step into something new because we anticipate a storm might come and we might not be able to do it on our own. Yet if Jesus caught us once like He did with Peter in saving us, then we have the promise that He’ll catch us over and over again.

Many know that I have faced significant health challenges since SK and I got married. Far more than we shared on our House Hunters International episode ;) A bad car accident that left me with a compressed vein in my kidney that took two years to diagnose, some nerve damage that thankfully hasn’t been permanent, reoccurring infections and various tropical diseases. Moving to Madagascar where my throat began to close off in the middle of the night while visiting in 2013 was quite a step of faith. Our job required us to go and we felt with what information we had at the time that God was calling us, so off we went.

To be honest I was afraid of failing.
I was afraid if I took this step and failed that it would be the worst thing ever. Yet even in the chaos of the storms and in the pain, Jesus had me the whole time and has made such beautiful things out of my bold and obedient steps. He can with your steps too.

Thomas Edison tried over 1,000 ways to invent the lightbulb. When he was asked about his 1,000 failed attempts, he said this, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The lightbulb was an invention that took 1,000 steps.”

What is it that you need to take another step out of your comfort zone this year?
What doubts have held you back?
Have you tried to do something in your own strength only to fail?

Jesus is ready to catch you my friend and restore your trust in His ability to keep you walking on water! 

Keep taking steps in this new year of 2016 and purpose to become a water walker!!!
Keep trusting and don’t be afraid of failing!
What looks like a failure to yourself or to those around you is an opportunity for God’s strength to come in and through your lives.

I shared these thoughts in the closing point of a sermon with SK two weeks ago and you can listen on podcast here. This point is from 25 minutes-30 minutes.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

When Christmas Isn’t Like the Songs

 

When Christmas

It’s going to be about 65 degrees (Fahrenheit) in Oklahoma this Christmas. This is certainly not the “baby it’s cold outside” weather of the Christmas songs I’ve been overdosing on. Matter of fact, it’s only about 10 degrees difference than my in-laws will experience in Nairobi, Kenya and they’re in summer months!

While I might join Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney and “dream of a white Christmas”, unless I hop on a plane for Canada, I can keep dreaming.

Sometimes it seems like all of life is speaking its desires and ambitions over you and they feel like ideal dreams. I even laughed out loud today thinking about those fancy car Christmas commercials where the car has a big new beautiful bow on the driveway and the spouse is elated! If I was that wife whose husband bought an expensive car causing us to go into debt and without discussing it with me first, I wouldn’t think it was the best thing ever! I’d have to hold up fingers in front of his face to make sure he knew how many fingers were there and wasn’t suffering from a concussion or something.

The reality is we are constantly inundated with advertisements and song tells us the expectations we should have of the Christmas season. Every one is showing some type of perfect family scenario, receiving ideal gifts, and dashing through the snow. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is an upbeat song you can’t help but sing along to, yet many people don’t see this as “the most wonderful time of the year”. The holiday season can amplify pain and grief people are experiencing and many see no possibility of hope.

Around the time that Jesus was born, circumstances were anything but “jolly” and “wonderful” both for Mary and Joseph and the Jewish people. They were crying out for a Savior to deliver them from oppression from the Roman government and bring them hope. God’s voice had been silent for 400 years. The world seemed dark, weighty, and evil abounded. Many thought that God had forgotten them, that He must be done with them, and that they’d have to suffer forever. They felt as if the promises of the Messiah were in vain and that He’d never come.

BUT God sent His only Son and shattered the silence! God released living hope into the world and named Him Emmanuel. There is no way that the first Christmas is anything close to “O Holy Night” or “Silent Night” even though those are beautiful songs that make me cry. Even the best Christmas productions, which also make me cry, can’t capture the true glory and splendor of what took place. A host of heavenly angels proclaimed,” Glory to God in the highest! Peace on Earth! Goodwill to men!” Shepherds, the lowliest of people came to the place of Jesus’ birth showing that the poorest and unlikely of people are welcome in His presence. It was beyond magnificent! Yet Jesus was also born in the most unlikely and less than ideal circumstances. Even the first Christmas came with uncertainty and holding onto God’s word and promises.

“Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel”

Emmanuel means “God is with us”. Once He came as a baby, He was among us and even after His death, resurrection, and ascent, He sent His Holy Spirit to come to us when we accept Him. So rejoice in this news today! You might not have a winter wonderland and might feel weighed down with grief and sorrow of this past year which is unlike many Christmas songs. Yet there are songs of joy, of hope for your redemption, that can take you back to a place of adoration of Jesus like the shepherds would’ve had. Let this serve as a reminder that no one is truly alone this Christmas season if you just believe.

In your last-minute hustle and bustle, reach out to those who come to mind and who you know have been hurting. Offer them the eternal hope that comes with Christmas!

Merry Christmas and God Bless from Stephen and I!

When Religious Cliches Don’t Help

Kari Jobe Blog

Kari Jobe’s potentially awkward moment turned into a beautiful moment for healing hearts.

When an awkward lull happened at the Designed for Life women’s conference I attended a couple of weeks ago, I immediately knew what was going on.

I’ve not been pregnant yet, but with all of my kidney issues, I can relate to those frequently visiting the bathroom as their baby(ies) press(es) on their bladder.

The host, Pastor Debbie Lindell took the platform for an unplanned speech to help transition the evening service. There was a band already set up on the stage and I knew Kari Jobe was scheduled to sing some during the conference. I also knew she was in later stages of pregnancy and I laughed as I realized that she was probably in the bathroom.

I had just slipped back into my seat from the bathroom right as a video ended and Kari was scheduled to lead worship. Debbie jokingly asked if any women remembered being pregnant and their frequent potty breaks as Kari took the stage. Debbie then explained to Kari in front of about 9,000 women that she’d just told us that she was peeing! Kari confirmed this report into the microphone much to the amusement of all those attending.

When Debbie left the stage Kari shared how she wasn’t just using the bathroom, but she’d been cleaning off her smeared make up as well. She told of how her sister who was pregnant at the same time as her just lost her baby two weeks earlier. She was 7 months along and had a still birth. There was such a sweet presence of God in the auditorium that evening as we worshiped together which was healing her heart. At one point she looked up and a woman with her little baby girl came and sat in front of her and more tears fell.

What began as laughter quickly turned into tears as we all listened to her story through her choked up words and rawness. She went on to say how through this experience she’s realized that religious clichés don’t help-they actually shut someone down. And I lost it. I could relate with her now far more than just our frequenting the bathroom.

She’s right. When you’re in the midst of pain, loss, or suffering you don’t simply need to hear, “God will turn this around for good”, “God will come through!”, or “Just have faith”.

Nothing against anyone who thinks like that or has said those statements to someone as we’ve all been there.
It can be awkward when we are confronted with the pain and suffering of another person.
It often is a strange interaction, so when we as believers don’t know what to say we often say something we think sounds spiritual.
Maybe the thought process is,”if I say a scripture then I’ll be helping”.
Or maybe we’ve never felt the pain or faced the difficult scenario they’re in so we think there’s an easy answer, “just have more faith”.

Yet none of those things help. In all I’ve faced particularly in this season of life, I know that God is good and I know that He is going to work things out in my life for the good…”because I love him and I’m called unto His purpose” (Romans 8:28). It isn’t that I don’t believe in His goodness or that I’m not focused on the truth of God’s word. It’s just that walking through some situations are difficult and they demand more depth than a surface response.
When you’re walking through the questions and suffering the heartache of your circumstances, it isn’t helpful to find yourself shut down by others’ replies or by their silence.

When you feel confused about God or you’re trying to see truth through the sometimes murky and violent water of trials, you don’t want to be simply told that God is good. When faced with that doctor’s report you weren’t prepare to hear, having someone exclusively say, “God’s got this” as you wrestle the fears and make difficult decisions isn’t helpful.
You need to experience His goodness THROUGH others.
You need to experience His love encompassing every area of your life, including your questions and perceived failures.

You need to be ALLOWED to cry and really feel what you’re walking through and invite Jesus into that place of pain.

Sometimes our words can shut down someone’s heart from allowing real healing to take place.

I realize that facts about a doctor’s report or situation are subject to change. I know that we have all power and all authority through Jesus. I’m not denying that focusing on the TRUTH of the word of God isn’t applicable. It ALWAYS is and that’s exactly what needs to be focused on, but not at the cost of invalidating what someone is walking through and not being willing to walk  WITH them through their pain. We must be willing to look to the example of Jesus and how He walks with us in this life.

Jesus came to take on our flesh so that He would relate to our flesh both in victory and in sorrow.

One of the most impactful things that has ministered to my heart happened two years ago during a really challenging time in my life. I had been really sick for almost a year with various tropical illnesses, small seizures, and I was dealing with constant pain from misaligned ribs and hips from a car accident that caused great pain even with walking. Stephen and I decided to get away for a few days and our trip happened to fall around the anniversary of my cousin’s death. My cousin was my best friend and we’d grown up together as she was four months older than me. She battled cancer for 7 & 1/2 years before dying when we were 14 years old. Due to the difficult season I was in and our constant travel schedule, I was really lonely. Some people had said awkward things to me concerning my faith while others just pulled away. Other friends simply weren’t able to encourage me face to face as we were traveling so frequently. This caused me to grieve my cousin’s loss in a new way that year. One morning on our trip, Stephen took me outside and shared how he felt like he had a word to share with me. He sat me down and said that while he was praying that morning that he felt like Jesus said, “Tell Bailey that I know what it’s like to lose my cousin and I’m crying with her”. The words hit me like a load of bricks upon my chest and as I began to cry I felt something break off of my life. I felt the nearness of Jesus more in that moment than I had in any other moment of my life. Not because this was a happy moment that He was meeting me in, but because in my pain and sorrow, He met me and was crying with me. That made me want to pour my heart out in adoration and worship like never before.

I want you to know that no matter what you’re walking through or how lonely that you’ve felt in your heartache, Jesus is with you. He has experienced pain, suffering, sorrow, and sadness. He did this all the while being filled with the Spirit, in complete surrender and obedience to God’s will and fully knowing that His Father was good. Just because He was the Son of God who died for our sins doesn’t mean that he didn’t feel the pain and weight of our sin or the sorrows of this life. He can relate to you and speak to you more than any human ever can.

As religious Christianese circulates around you and questions stir within you, I encourage you to press past those voices and listen for the voice of Jesus. Hear what He is saying and let His love draw near in your time of hurting. Don’t allow your painful circumstances to steal your praise of the One who is worthy and wants to pour out His love. He hurts for you and He hurts with you. Worship Him and let the disappointment, offense, mistakes, and fears fall off. Lean on Jesus and get back up again–you were made to live victorious!

 KJ InstagramWell said Kari–thanks for sharing your heart and bringing others to the place of healing in Jesus.

How To Overcome Disappointment

DISAPPOINTMENT

Recently Stephen and I spoke at one of our supporting churches in Winter Park, Colorado. Clearly it is one of the most beautiful places to connect and minister ;-) It makes me miss living in Colorado so much!

The Pastor asked us to share a little bit from our experiences in this season and on the topic of how to overcome disappointment. We have faced a lot of trials, mainly in physical health in the short time we’ve been married. We’ve walked through a lot of disappointment in this season in plain view of others, but some of the darkest moments we’ve been alone and have learned a lot to help others through their challenges. We want you to know that you’re not alone!

Here’s the main passage that we used in Luke Chapter 24 to illustrate a few points on how one can overcome disappointment.

Read for reference LUKE 24:13-35
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven mile from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

This is one of the most powerful chapters in the whole New Testament. It was the resurrection, the premise of the Christian faith! It should have been an exciting day.

Jesus has been preparing his disciples: “And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” Luke‬ ‭18:31-34‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It was almost like these two men had their fingers in their ears saying “la la la… I can’t hear you.”

They don’t understand what Jesus is saying. They had their own ideas of how things are supposed to happen. Not too unlike any of us, they wanted God to do things in a certain way at a certain time.

Their expectations of what they thought Jesus meant were disappointed by what actually transpired.

“But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”‭‭Luke‬ ‭24:21‬ ‭
Maybe they thought that He was setting up a kingdom, that He was going to drive out the romans, eliminate the heavy taxes, and that Jesus would be the president of a new empire and they would all have cabinet positions. It would be payback time!

That’s not what Jesus did. He hung on a cross for the redemption of sin.

Was Jesus the one to redeem? Yes, but there are two different definitions of what “redemption” looks like.

When their experience didn’t match their expectation, they experienced disappointment and extreme disillusionment. When we experience disappointment, we can fall into the same mindset.

Here’s a look at a 3 things we’ve learned to do to overcome the ongoing residual effect of disappointment.

1- We must overcome the tendency towards cynicism and unbelief:

Faith is the central premise of Christianity.
“…the just shall live by FAITH
Romans 1, Galatians 3, Hebrews 11, Habakkuk 2 are all clear teachings on faith.

We often look at faith in the primary area of acceptance and adherence to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet there needs to be an ongoing continual walk in our daily lives. 

The two towns, Jerusalem and Emmaus are only 7 miles apart. This shows us they’re walking not by faith, but by sight.

They had lost faith in what Jesus had said.

It was Resurrection day. The women had found a rolled away stone. Jesus’ body wasn’t in the tomb. They had a vision of angels with a message that he was alive. It’s the third day. Peter only found the grave-clothes.

These two men would’ve known these things, yet they were walking AWAY from Jerusalem because they didn’t believe.

There was a lingering effect from being wounded by disappointment. God didn’t live up to their expectations of what they thought He would do or HOW they thought He would do things.

Recently I (Bailey) cut my tendon on my right index finger while scooping out coconut milk from a can. I had surgery to permanently stitch the tendon and the scar on the surface has healed really well. The surgeon and my therapists aren’t as concerned about the tendon rupturing again or the finger being permanently damaged. They’re concerned that the scar tissue would form too much and entrap the tendon and nerves around the repair causing a greater injury than the initial cut.

I thought about how wounds in our lives can be like this. Maybe we are removed from the situation that caused the initial hurt, but the residual effects of the wound can keep growing.

Scar tissue is a great reminder that you can’t always see someone’s pain. On the surface you or someone else might look alright, but you never know what’s going on in someone’s heart.

God wants us to come to Him with our questions and our pain. He is not your problem, He is your provision for healing.

“Come, and let us return to the LORD; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.”- Hosea 6:1

“For I will restore health to you And heal you of your wounds,’ says the LORD.”-Jeremiah 30:17

2-We must overcome a tendency to isolate ourselves from healthy relationships and from God:

When people get wounded and hurt the tendency is to pull back and retreat.

We see this with these two guys  left the larger body of believers that they were connected to. We know from the book of Acts, that there were 120 gathered together on the day of Pentecost. That means that there were at least 118 other disciples that could have encouraged them and ministered to them. Yet we read that they are by themselves on a road to Emmaus and apparently lonely enough to talk with a stranger about their woes.

With every step they’re walking further and further away from people who could encourage their faith.

The problem with isolation is that you make yourself more vulnerable to the enemy.

Instead of isolating ourselves, we need to stay connected to the body of Christ.

Luke 5:17-26 tells the story of the paralytic man being lowered to the ground.

There were 4 friends who did whatever it took to get their friend to Jesus’ feet.
The weight of carrying another person is not easy.
That stretcher required 4 people.
We need to be willing to go beyond our own comforts to help people in their trials.

Set in place some healthy relationships in your life now so that when storms come there are some people strong enough around you who will carry you back to Jesus.

We need to ask ourselves: what kind of friend are we to others?
Are we the kind who when people are isolating themselves that we pursue them anyway?
Are we moved in compassion to help those hurting around us?
Are we willing to tear through roofs and do whatever it takes to get them to the feet of Jesus?

It’s a lot easier to point our fingers and start blabbing our mouths instead of carrying someone’s weight as they face disappointment and isolation. We can speak words of life and encouragement to prevent them from discrediting Jesus’ love for them.

You need to know that even if you feel no one is there to “carry” you, that you’re not alone.

What is so beautiful about this story on the road to Emmaus is that even though other friends and disciples aren’t with these two guys, Jesus is. He comes at a critical time and intercepts their unbelief with truth. He reveals Himself to them even when they’ve cut themselves off.

Cleopas’ name is never mentioned anywhere else in the Bible and it’s a unique point that Jesus knows your name and where you’re at with your faith and will always be pursuing you to remind you that He is faithful.

HE IS NOT TURNED OFF BY OUR QUESTIONS OR BY OUR WEAKNESS. He instead meets us in our weakness and reveals Himself to us.

You also have to know who He is and who He says you are in seasons of abundance so that when storms come, you know the truth.

In a season of disappointment, everyone will give their opinion on who God is and what is happening to you. The first person who will knock at your door is the enemy. If we don’t learn to press in and learn the voice of God in seasons where we aren’t encountering as much resistance, we won’t clearly recognize the lies that the enemy throws at us when we’re being shaken. Others will speak to you about who Jesus is from their wounding and from their offenses so you have to know who He says He is and who you are in Him. Don’t allow distractions to keep you from building a firm foundation of hope and truth that keeps you from building upon the lies of self-hatred, condemnation and doubt.

You’ve got to as I like to say “bulk up” in the word during seasons where there aren’t as many storms. As athletes train for their sporting events in off seasons, we must bulk up and study God’s word and listen for His voice so we aren’t shaken when difficulty hits.

3- We must overcome the tendency to rush God’s purpose and timing:

In a day where our microwave can deliver our food to us in a matter of seconds, it is easy to find ourselves resistant to and inpatient with the timing of God.

We can’t impose our time-table over Gods sovereign purposes.

We see with these two guys that they rushed the promise Jesus made.

Jesus has made clear promises that on the third day that he would rise from the dead. It was the third day. They waited as long as they thought prudent. The roads would’ve been dangerous at night. It was 7 miles to Jerusalem to Emmaus. If they walked at a brisk pace of 15 minutes a mile or 4 mph,  then it would take 1 hour 45 minutes to complete their journey. Jewish sunset is around 7 pm. So let’s say it was 5:15 pm when they started their journey. It’s clear that these men waited until what was likely the last possible minute that they would’ve waited before walking to Emmaus to arrive before dark.

Jesus is going to appear to the disciples later that night.

In a very real sense these guys were just hours away from their breakthrough!

Instead of waiting and holding onto promises, they forsake it all and walked away right before the moment of breakthrough.

To encourage you, His timing is always perfect.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,”-1 Peter 5:6

“At the proper time…”
When is that?
We may not know, but we can rest assure that He does.

When I (Stephen) was a senior in college, I was walking into the chapel on campus one day and clearly heard God say to me,” you’re going to meet you wife here”. I have honestly only heard something that clear a handful of times in my life. I walked into the chapel service that day thinking I’d “find her”. I looked for the pretty girls raising their hands in worship. I graduated that Spring and there was no wife. I moved back to Kenya and again there was no wife. I ended up moving to Burundi in the middle of a civil war and again, there was no wife. I pastored a church in Tanzania and by this point I’d long forgotten the word God spoke to me some ten years prior. I returned to the United States in the summer of 2010 and the next Spring I was asked to return to my alma mater  to share a message with some college mission students. We met in that exact chapel building and there on the front row was this beautiful red-head sobbing while I shared stories of Kenya. I came to find out she has loved Kenya since she was a little girl and God moved on her heart that evening. We hit if off, began dating, and it wasn’t until we were engaged that I even remembered God’s word to me that day 11 years earlier.

His timing is always perfect and when we take the timing into our own hands, we can miss what He has for us.

_______________________________________________________

We can see how we can relate to and learn from these two travelers. But why would Luke choose to conclude his book this way?

Well, here’s the rest of the story: resurrection was just warm up for Pentecost.

In other words Jesus wasn’t setting up a monument to His suffering; He was mobilizing a movement to reach the world.

The message of the resurrection wasn’t for the disciples alone; it was for the world.

That movement was going to be birthed in Jerusalem NOT Emmaus.
The Holy Spirit was going to fall in the upper room NOT in their supper room.

The crucial problem is that they were headed the wrong direction and were about to miss God’s purpose!

They needed to be reconnected to other believers.
They needed the spark of faith to be reignited.
They needed a new awareness of Gods timing and purpose.

In order for that to happen they needed a burning heart.
“They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”-Luke 24:32

Here’s the thought for us to take away from this story:
Our hearts can continually burn even during times of great sorrow and suffering.

The lie of the enemy is this: if you are going through tough times then your heart will invariably go cold or at least lukewarm.

Jesus shows us that’s not the case.
Jesus warns us that in the last days hearts would grow cold.

“And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.”Matthew 24:12 

We are seeing it left and right in this hour. This isn’t the hour to be apathetic and slow of heart. This isn’t the hour of fear and indifference with double minded allegiance.

Jesus continually revels Himself to us so that our hearts might burn within even in hardships. 

He’s doing this to bring about full healing in our lives so that we can then become His witnesses to the world.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”-Revelation 12:11

In order to live this scripture out and overcome disappointment, we must accept Jesus’ full work on the cross, share our testimony with others of what He’s done in us, and have a burning heart so that our lives are not our own.

Jesus’ evidence that He had died and rose again on the cross was His scars. The scar on my(Bailey) finger won’t ever go away. It’ll always serve as a reminder that I cut my hand in the kitchen. Yet once I walk through the necessary steps of physical therapy and regain function, it’ll serve as a testimony of healing for others. Likewise when we allow full healing, our scars will serve as a sign we’ve overcome disappointment and be a source of healing for those struggling to find Jesus through their pain.

 If you’re interested in hearing the message, you can click HERE.

Questions for Christians about Abortion and Pregnancy

 

Questions about Abortion and PregnancyTo say that I am disgusted with the recent events of Planned Parenthood and how they’ve treated countless women and unborn babies is an understatement.

The illegal business of selling body parts of these precious unborn ones makes my heart heavy.

Precious women everywhere who’ve already grieved the abortion process are once again revisiting their decision with a new wave of grief of wondering if their baby’s body parts were sold off. It’s heartbreaking reading some of their stories. We need to pray for them and be a place of safety and love.

In light of these horrific details of PP and their unrepentant comments, I’ve been thinking a lot about alternative solutions to abortion that I’ve pondered the last 8-9 years or so. Where can someone in need find a better solution?

If the government cut funds to Planned Parenthood and a list of other companies supporting them stopped and they were forced to close their doors tomorrow, where would all of these women go? PP provides general health care for women too, not just abortions.

**Let me clarify to those who’ve stumbled upon this and don’t hold the same spiritual beliefs as I do. I am not being insensitive or judging ANYONE who has had an abortion or who thinks that this is a good idea and should be the women’s choice. I can’t imagine some of the trauma and heartache associated with the decision of having an abortion and I’m not taking it lightly. I just believe that there is a better way and while I’ve not ever found myself the victim of rape, incest, sexual trauma etc., I still believe there is FAR better care and redemption than what PP is doing. Through my personal relationship and healing with Jesus Christ, I know He is the best solution.

So it is with the above clarified that I ask these questions to the believers reading this.

1.CHURCH—are you ready to handle this situation?

You’ve prayed for abortion to end right? You’ve prayed for the ending of abortion since 1973. Within that time, over 55 MILLION babies have been aborted right here in the USA.

What if PP closes? What if some forms or all forms of abortion become illegal? Are you ready to handle the pregnancy crisis?

This will NOT mean the usual flow of pregnancy crisis scenarios that you’ve dealt with before. If an abortion takes place roughly every 90 seconds in the USA, we’ll have huge crisis on our hands.

Please don’t answer with a “No, but…” statement like “No, but I know where to refer someone.” That’s a great start, it really is, but it’s time to evaluate what YOUR PERSONAL part is for you/your church (pastors) to play in this. I say that with all the love and kindness in my heart. Some hurting person needs you to be prepared to give the answer of hope that you/your church carries.

Even if PP doesn’t close and every form of abortion is legalized, this is an hour for the Body of Christ to stand up and BE the hands and feet of Christ in a HUGE WAY!

2. Are you/or is your church aware of the demographics in your city?

This might sound irrelevant, but Planned Parenthood knows these and specifically targets lower-income areas to build their clinics. Yes, they provide more than abortions and it makes sense to have cheap or free services in these areas, but abortions are still the prevailing service. These demographics are majority African-Americans and Hispanic groups. Talk about racism in our country—abortion is by far the leading factor of preventable death in these minority groups. As a believer this PROVOKES me to be a solution.

These areas might be areas to look into planting a Pregnancy Crisis Outreach or something of that nature if there is not already one established. Consider inviting people in this area to your church (yes that would mean providing transportation), conducting free health screenings as an outreach, or partnering with a local church that is actively reaching out and helping women who are facing the decision of abortion. I’m not suggesting that EVERY church needs a Pregnancy Crisis Center like they NEED childcare and parking spaces on Sunday mornings, but I believe every church CAN be actively involved.

3. Are you educated on abortion, pregnancy crisis, adoption and are you acting in compassion? Are you educating others?

One of the biggest ways that Christians miss opportunities to be a light on this topic is by being uneducated and not stepping out of their comfort zones to action. We need to help these women, not throw stones and say how awful an abortion is. That’s not helping these women or saving babies lives. Congregations need to know where there is a safe place for women to go to in their city. They need to be informed on how they can get involved in foster care, caring for pregnant women, and adoption as well.

4. Are you offering solutions to those around you and are you willing to BE a solution?

Once you are educated of where safe places for pregnant women are in your area, share that information with others. Many women say that if they had a better solution, they wouldn’t have had an abortion. If there had been a family willing to cover pregnancy/birth expenses, they would’ve carried the baby full-term. If there had been comfort and acceptance outside of their broken situation, they would’ve kept the child.

Maybe Jesus is asking you to be willing to take in a young mom or adopt her child. It’s definitely something to pray about and evaluate.

5. While I completely understand the necessity of rules in churches and Christian schools and I certainly don’t think we should celebrate sexual sin, where do we draw the line and help?

 

Some friends of ours were once youth pastors and they had a teen get pregnant. The wife decided to throw a baby shower for the teen in a way to love on her and show support of her keeping the baby. There was a long story behind this teen’s decision and her home life was quite awful. The response the church took and the ridicule this couple faced was definitely NOT reflective of the cross of Christ.

I agree that we shouldn’t celebrate sin, but how can we come alongside girls particularly in our Christian schools, youth groups and churches who find themselves pregnant? Do we just kick them out? It takes two to tango…what about the guys involved? Let’s start here and evaluate what we could do better or differently.

6. Are we truly setting a standard of sexual purity in our own lives? Are we creating a culture of this in our churches?

We all know what makes a baby ;) And while some cases of pregnancy crisis are horrific in nature like that of incest or rape, the majority of pregnancies aren’t. The majority of abortions aren’t a result of an extreme situation either. We need to be teaching on sexual purity and most importantly living lives in the freedom we say we’ve found in Christ. THEN we can truly help lead others into everlasting hope in Jesus and true freedom.

7. Are you willing to give to support this cause?

If your church or a church in your city were to start a pregnancy crisis center or an outreach, would you be willing to give your finances to support it? How about your time? Would you be willing to provide a home for a pregnant mother with nowhere else to go? Would you be willing to give up your plans to take on a (another) child?

8. Have you prayed?

Do you pray for abortion? Do you pray how you can be involved in adoption? Do you know where the abortion clinic(s) are in your home town? Does your church know how to pray for this topic?

If we believe prayer works and we believe in the One with whom we are speaking, then we can rest assured He’ll guide us as we pray.

 

I am not saying that ANY of these are convenient or comfortable, but what if it is what Jesus is asking of us?

I love the Body of Christ and believe in every one of you. My prayer is that we would pour out the love we’ve so freely received in our hearts. As a missionary, I’m thrilled that I get to be connected with some many incredible churches across the USA. You are the hope for this generation and you hold the answers to the problems we face today.

Church: I believe that YOU HOLD THE ANSWERS. I believe Holy Spirit has already been moving on hearts to be prepared for an hour such as this. With so much passion in my heart, I deeply desire to see the church rise up in this area and be the solution these hurting families need. What we’ve done so far is not enough. If abortions become illegal, that doesn’t end the number of unwanted pregnancies, problems with the foster care/adoption programs, heartache over trauma, and the list goes on and on.

We must pray.

We must strategize.

We must work together and be the solution.

 

Here are some additional resources I am personally connected to and can highly recommend. Please feel free to add more in the comments below for your local area.

http://www.christianadoptionconsultants.com/

http://bound4life.com/

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/lifechallenges/love-and-sex/abortion/abortion

Becoming Content with the Here and Now

Roses

There are many things that SOUND glamorous.

Getting married.

Having a dream job.

Traveling.

Raising kids.

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N.

The problem with these lovely things is that we’re always living for the next one. We’re rarely content with the here and now. Or let me say that I am rarely content!

For years I kept jobs where I had enough flexibility to travel and do mission trips or occasional weekend trips. If I stayed still for 6 weeks, I’d get a traveler’s “itch”. Now in the past 3 &1/2 years I haven’t stayed still for 6 weeks and not longer have an itch to scratch. The thrill of travel and the desire to travel is more draining to me now as opposed to it holding thrilling adventures. I’d rather STAY PUT. I look forward to being rooted somewhere someday.

We always want what is NEXT.

What someone else has.

What we THINK we need.

I’ve been living in this mindset of what’s next for far too long now.

Today as I sit in Tulsa, Oklahoma desperately needing to load up my car in the 90 plus degree heat, I’m putting off my drive back to Missouri.

I woke up wanting to be in Africa today. Wanting to NOT have to go to yet another doctor’s office, but that’s what my day has for me. A quick stop at the doctor’s office and then 3-hour drive by myself.

There have been too many hindrances to what SK and I WANT to be doing. What we feel like we NEED to be doing. The things we know are in our future that we assume SHOULD be happening RIGHT NOW. (woah Bailey—calm down the all caps!).

Waiting is one of the hardest places to trust the Lord.

It’s easy to trust when things are going the way you planned for, expected and agree they should be going. It’s really difficult when it’s everything opposite to your timing and desires.

For most of us, we’re in seasons where we’d readily welcome the right spouse to come into the picture, that beautiful baby we are carrying to just hurry up and “be born”, or our boss to give us “that” promotion we’ve been dreaming of and working towards.

What if in our dreaming and hoping, we are missing the here and now?

What if we are single and our spouse is about to walk into our lives and we’ll forever be in a relationship and we are missing out on the independence and experiences of being single?

What if that baby (who can’t stay in there much over 40 weeks without exiting anyway) is about to come and we’ll have sleepless nights and a child to be responsible for and we’re missing out on enjoying the days of carrying the child inside of us?

What if the hard work we’re putting into our jobs is producing deep character and skills that wouldn’t be forming if it weren’t for being “under authority”. Once we get a promotion, our role will change and new challenges will come, but the things we’re learning here today could end.

I saw these 3 beautiful roses my husband gave to me yesterday across the room this morning and instead of rushing out the door and leaving them behind to die, I sat down to let their beauty inspire me to write.

How does a rose bloom? One petal at a time.

It doesn’t unfold every single layer all at once or you’d miss the beauty of a rose. It has layers and layers that continue to one by one peel back and reveal more beauty.

When you first see a rose all curled up and small, it’s not that attractive. Its appeal isn’t in the beginning form; it’s in the unraveling, the slow process of seeing the layers comes together to bring forth its splendor.

Our lives are like that.

Each layer, each unraveling piece helps make the beautiful story of our lives.

Some days I am in pain. Other days I feel great sorrow. Not every day feels pleasant, but no matter how dark any given day is, that doesn’t mean tomorrow doesn’t hold promises of beauty within it. Each petal itself isn’t perfect and pretty, but the overall unfolding of the rose is splendid.

I need the stretching of being opened up. I need life to force my dependency on Christ and not on my own. It’s good for me to admit my own frailty and draw near to Him.

SO it is with a deep breath inhaleexhale … that I can step back and choose to be content today.

I’m letting these gorgeous roses remind me of the delicate magnificence of life.

Enjoy today. Enjoy tomorrow.

Realize that each day and phase of life while it might not be the most enjoyable is pulling back another petal to make a way for more beauty to come forth.

Rejoice in the One who causes the unraveling beauty in our lives.

**Thanks honey for my lavender roses—they’re my most favorite as are you ;-)

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Would You Find a Toothless Woman Beautiful?

 

IMG_9316I climbed into a ditch yesterday to get eye level with a woman who had been looking my way. I was the only white female around and with my ultra white skin and this long auburn hair, I’m sure that I stood out more than I realized.

It had been a dream of mine for about 2 years to stand where I was standing. There are factories nearby my house and many Malagasy people work there and eat out on the streets on their very short meal breaks.

There is a harvest in my backyard basically and I wanted to go and love on them.

I had just shared with the people on the love of God and the way that it has changed my life. There were tears as I saw glimpses of God’s heart over each one who listened to me.

I spoke with and prayed for several at the end of my sharing time and I kept my eyes open for anyone else whom God might want me to pray with.

My translator stuck by my side and thankfully he is a bold young man who loves Jesus so he went along with my leading him person to person.

After many smiles and warm prayers had been offered, I knew it was time to go and greet this one who was continually looking my way. I climbed down onto her level and smiled.

I began to ask her name and if there was anything that she needed prayer for.

There was indeed, so I asked her like the others I had prayed for if I could hold her hand.

Her eyes widened as she heard my translation come through in her mother tongue. She looked back at me and covered up her smile.

This white girl wanted to hold her hand.

Then I said what a beautiful smile she had. To which she shook her head like any woman who’s insecure and being complimented would do.

The only difference between her insecurities and maybe a friend back home is that she is missing most of her teeth.

Not only that, but the remaining teeth were rotting.

I meant what I said though—that she had a beautiful smile.

She was beautiful. Far more than the so referred to ideals of beauty that only masks what real beauty is.

Here she was not hiding who she really was. There was no escaping that she’s grown up less fortunate than anyone I know from the USA. There’s no hiding the fact that she’s not had access to proper dental care or hygiene. Her wrinkles on her young face reveal many harsh days in the sunlight working and the physical stress her body has endured.

We prayed for her specific needs and I also encouraged her that she is a daughter of God just like me. That there might be differences in our lives naturally, but we are the same value with Him and we are loved by Him.

We continued to talk and I watched as her countenance changed. How her eyes softened more and received more love like sunlight to her heart.

I repeatedly told her how beautiful her smile was and each time it grew broader and brighter.

Her sister came along, not missing any visible teeth and was equally as beautiful. We talked and prayed and then they thanked me and walked away.

I thought about this dear smile.
This toothless face and the precious sight it is to my Father in Heaven.
I thought of the joy that Jesus has over this one who to the best of her knowledge loves Him and worships Him.
This one who He paid the price for in dying on the cross.

Then I thought about the social media world and it’s view on beauty.

I’ve never seen a popular post of a picture of a woman with no make-up and saying many comments of “Wow you’re so beautiful!”, “GORGEOUS!”, “Ow Ow super-model friend”.

I know I’ve often remarked on my friend’s posts of wearing no make-up, but it’s not the normal and pictures of women without make-up is by large, rare.

I’ve never seen people get all excited over some woman’s outfit that is just “plain Jane” or one that is mismatched, has holes, and is tattered like my toothless friend.

The reality is that we don’t see beauty like God sees it.

We look for the no wrinkles, flawless, put together, something we can all desire type of beauty.

We post about the latest trends, style the latest haircuts and colors, and keep one another in a constant comparison trap. All the while the true beauties of the world get pushed out of sight.

Back to my original question, would you find a toothless woman beautiful?

You might answer yes particularly if you can picture this Malagasy woman I have described and have a sense of compassion. BUT is your “yes” based on sympathy and feeling sorry for her? Is your scale of beauty adjusted to fit someone who’s life is lived in the dust and dirt of Africa? Or can you confidently saw yes because no matter if you are looking at this precious one or the woman next to you at work, you see true beauty. You see it in the ones that others would call “ugly”. You see beauty in the faces of those who would never grace a magazine about beauty and style. You see it because you’ve seen the one whom “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him”. (Isaiah 53:2)

There was nothing in Jesus’ nature that marked beauty or denoted an attractiveness like a King, yet the beauty of His love and life is far greater than any person will ever have.

When we see His beauty and gain His heart, we see the beauty in others, even if there is ugliness in their hearts that makes them unkind.

Beauty isn’t in a perfectly set of straight teeth or in a perfectly arched eyebrow. It certainly isn’t in an expensive dress or in the shade of hair dye.

Beauty is in the heart of God who created everything and said that “It is good”. He created you. He created me. He created the sunsets, the rainbows and the stars. And he calls things beautiful like my toothless friend.

Don’t be afraid to climb down into the ditches of life and to search out beauty where few are brave enough to explore. You’ll find great treasures of beauty there hidden just to reveal themselves to you.

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