5 Permissions (and Commissions) for the New Mom

2013 January-Selah Paige Fox 147New Mom’s or Mom’s-to-be: Here is a bit of “sisterly” advice I gave to my own sister at her baby shower a few weeks ago. I gave her five “permissions” and five “commissions” as she embarks on the journey of motherhood. Enjoy!

5 Permissions for the New Mom
1. Permission to wear sweatpants. Every day. I always vowed I would not do this. But then I realized something: I can not be fully happy…until I am in my sweatpants. (Don’t worry, you will totally rock them.) (P.S. You can always change real quick into that cute [ahem: socially acceptable] outfit once your husband pulls into the driveway.)

2. Permission for Imperfection (in your house and appearance). Your house does not need to look like the pages of a Better Homes & Gardens magazine. And don’t think because you are not “working” you must be the Super-Organized-Clean-Freak you have always fantasized about being. It’s harder than it looks. I once saw a wall sticker that said, “Please excuse our mess, we’re busy making memories.” If you hold to this mantra, you will be happier. (P.S. If your house is making you scream, call your Mother or Mother-in-Law to come clean it for you. There’s nothing sweeter than falling asleep to the sound of her vacuuming downstairs while you nap.) And as for your appearance. Don’t expect to wear your skinny jeans home from the hospital. Freaks of nature do that. Once you are a new mom, you have limited time and energy to put into how good you look. So what if you only put mascara on one eye before leaving the house, and have spit up down the back of your black shirt? (Of course, you will be horrified when you later discover this in the bathroom mirror at Target.) But just remember, people won’t be looking at you as much as they will be drooling over your baby. Get used to having him/her steal the show. On some days, you will be truly grateful for it!

3. Permission to be late. No matter how timely you are (and any female blood relation to me is not very)–but no matter how timely you “were” you can just throw that out the window. No matter how hard you try, chances are, when you are loading Baby into his carseat, you will notice liquid poo has seeped through his pants. After about 37 baby wipes, and three peed/pooped on diapers, you will dress him in Outfit B, and run down stairs. He will spit up on you. You will run back upstairs and change your shirt. Once in the drive way, you will realize you forgot some “highly valuable” object (like the binky, cell phone, or for goodness’ sakes, the diaper bag!) and sprint back into your house to get it. This dash from your car to your house will happen about 3 times before you actually pull out and drive away. (Of course your neighbors will think you are psychotic, but maybe they already do.) Get used to this routine each time you try to leave your house. (And note: the more important the event (ie. weddings) expect even more delays. Your baby will want to show up fashionably late.)

4. Permission to open food at the store, (before you buy it!) You are a Mom now–go for it! Open the Teddy Grahams, the Goldfish, the Puffs! And don’t feel a drop of shame when you hand the cashier an almost empty bag as you check out. (So what if your baby doesn’t have teeth yet, and is only a month old?) Just look down at him, pat his back and say, “Hungry little guy!” Look straight ahead, smile confidently, and march that cart straight out of the store. (You gotta do, what you gotta do.)

5. Permission to Rest. Please. For the sake of everyone around you. Take. A. Nap. (If possible!) New mom’s feel SO GUILTY taking naps. Once the baby is sleeping…you do not need to remodel the living room, complete an Iron Man, bake a few pies, whip up a gourmet dinner, and appear helplessly gorgeous the moment your husband walks in the door. Get the rest you need. You will feel so much better, and be able to tackle your goals with more energy after that. (It’s amazing what soup sleep can do.) I assure you, your husband would rather have a sweet, well-rested, slightly messy house, than a Pinterest Perfect “Princess” who accidentally singes his eyebrows off the moment he walks in the door with dragon fire.

5 Commissions for the New Mom

On a slightly more serious note, I want to send you out into Motherhood with these five commissions: 

1. The Commission To Be A Kid Again. All of those things you miss from childhood, (you finally get to do again!) Building forts, crawling around on your hands and knees, snow angels, finger painting, wrestling, Play-dough, Disney movies, laying in the dark with a flashlight. A big part of becoming a Mom, is learning to have fun with your child. (And you don’t need to wait until your child is 4-years-old to start doing fun things–even babies like to have fun in their own way.) Be the kind of mom who gets down and plays, takes adventures, uses imagination, laughs out loud and dances wildly. You will impress upon this little heart more than you think. And your child (as all children) can always tell if you enjoy and embrace your life, or merely drudge along each day. Fill your home and atmosphere with life and adventure and joy.

2. The Commission To Not Fear Your Weaknesses. There will be moments you have no clue what you are doing. There are things that the “What To Expect Books” just don’t cover. And there will be days you aren’t sure if you, or your baby cried more. But where we are weak, God has promised to be strong. Isaiah 40:11 says, “He gently leads those that have young.” And He will give you everything you need to be a Mom.

3. The Commission To Enjoy Your Baby. Any mom can tell you how fast the time goes. It really happens before your eyes. Like a flash. The days coming may be tired, but they are so very happy, in a new kind of way I doubt you’ve ever experienced. Enjoy this little person in front of you. At the end of your life, you won’t care if you finished the dishes every night, or had a floor you could eat off of; you won’t care about the clothes you wore, or how many projects you completed, (or even how great your blog was;): you will be glad you cherished time with the ones you loved. They are the ones entrusted to you, they are the ones that matter. And this baby, who stares into your face with wonder, you have so little time to enjoy, before he or she grows up, and flies away.

4. The Commission To Know Your Worth. Our world doesn’t make much of “just being a mom.” But God does. Realize you are shaping another human soul, and no one can replace you, or substitute for you. You are his mother. The only one. You are completely unique, and God knew exactly who this little boy would need for his mother. He chose you. It doesn’t matter how unqualified or weak you think you are. He will give you everything you need to be his mom.

5. The Commission To Trust God. Thanks to the Internet, there are a billion things to fear, and you can look them all up on Google and WebMD. But before you do that, know: He loves you and loves your baby. And you are about meet your baby for the first time, but God has known him by name from before the foundations of the world. And whatever happens in this life, God loves him even more than you ever could, and will hold him long after you are able. He will care for him forever. His eyes saw him in the secret places of the womb, and spoke his being into existence. Therefore, God is stronger than any threat, wiser than any doctor, and more loving than any person. Every day, keep placing your trust in the God who made this child and will love him forever, and never stop loving him, even in the world to come.

 

 

[Readers, what other permissions or commissions would you give to a new mom? Or which permissions or commissions did you find helpful when you began motherhood? Please share in the comment section!:)]

The Man Who Sleeps Beside Me

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It’s early morning, when I wake and feel him next to me. I lie as still as possible, careful not to wake him. I look over through the pale blue morning light, the quiet prelude before dawn. The beeping will sound soon, and he will wake and rush with the rest of the world. But for these few quiet minutes I lay here, hearing nothing but the sound of his breath.

This man.

How did he come to me?

I remember the day I met him, I remember the way his hand greeted mine. The touch of his skin. The only skin I would ever touch or be touched by, again. I had no idea then, that we’d be lying here together, eight years later, like this.

I remember the way his fingers moved with careful fretwork up the neck of his guitar. And the way his voice soothed a part of me I never knew needed soothing.

I remember the first time he kissed me. The gentle flush in his cheeks. The steady green in his eyes, like the sea after it’s rained.

What happened to the wonder? The wonder of…

Of…him?

How did I get like…this? Love-less. And demanding. And more interested in making dinner than making…

Love?

Could I be still enough,
to take him in?
To drink deep and long of love again?

Too many words are spoken, broken, spilled. There are expectations and disappointments, and flaws and failures, and real sin, and real pain, and real…

Grace.

That word, that thing that Jesus came to show us. And poured out His blood for. So we would know what real love looks like. That it sweats, and cries, and bleeds. That it gives up self. And makes itself low.

And is gentle. And is kind.

And is not rude.

Do I see him the way God sees him?

Because: God sees him as precious.

Precious.

Fearfully and wonderfully made…by God Himself.

I have him for only such a short time. I do not even know how short. And I wasn’t chosen just to be his housemaid, or his business partner…but his wife. His bride. His friend.

To have and to…

hold. 

I look over this morning. His chestnut hair falls across his forehead. He is so still. So quiet. So handsome. It all seems so simple here…before the beeping.

But it’s a choice: Who will I rise to be today?

Today, could I bend a little lower,

speak a little softer,

wait a little longer

kiss a little slower?

To fall in love. To fall like leaves, in surrender. To fall to my knees, becoming tender.

For I am his, and he is mine. And the banner over us is Love.
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[Your turn! I am challenging you to participate in the"Fall In Love" challenge. All you have to do is to share in the comment section one thing you love about your spouse. Or, if you are blogger, you are doubly challenged to write a post endearing to your spouse and leave a link to it in the comment section.]

Don’t Waste Your Barrenness: 10 Things to Do While You Wait

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It can feel isolating. It can feel like everyone notices that your belly is flat. It can feel like everyone reads “Not Pregant” like a tattoo across your forehead. At the baby shower, questions start to surface: Why her, and not me?  Is there something wrong with me? Has God forgotten me?

The answer is:

                        No,

                                    Dear One,

                                                  He hasn’t.

Barrenness, in some ways, is like singleness. For many, it is a season, not a lifetime. For those who have a God-given desire to parent a child, whether through natural, or adoptive processes–will most likely be doing just that one day. The problem is, you don’t know when, or how long you will be waiting to do it.

You don’t know if your “infertility” will last another month, year, or decade. God knows. But He often keeps those secrets to Himself. And I think the reason He does that, is because He wants to give us something even better in the process. He wants to give us Himself.

However long the wait is, you don’t have to spend it with the posture of your head in your hands. This is the time God has given you (before parenting) to live awake, and alive. If you spend this time like you would in a doctor’s office waiting room, you will just..well, sit there. And maybe leaf through magazines waiting for your name to be called. But that is not a good use of your time. If you haven’t yet, start seeing this “waiting room” time as season of incredible adventure, possibility, and purpose.

Here are some practical things to do while you wait:

1. Recognize God May Have a Special Calling On Your Life. Instead of feeling overlooked by God, start realizing the truth: God has chosen you for a special purpose. Maybe you aren’t like everyone else. He has a unique calling on your life. He may have appointed you to do something or minister to people you couldn’t reach if you had children right now. Perhaps, through this “waiting”, He is wooing you, calling you, to step out of the norm and find Him. He may be about to show you something incredible, you would not otherwise be able to see.

2. Live Radically. Is there anything “dangerous” or “risky” you’d like to do? This could be something like going oversees for a mission trip, traveling somewhere foreign/awesome, or sky-diving. Pray about doing it now, and not then. Once you become a parent, you see everything differently. (Not that you can’t ever do anything crazy or fun ever again.) But life is a little more fluid now, and you have the capability. Don’t break your bank account, but consider that this might be a season God is calling you to adventure. (Plus, any future kids will love to hear your wild stories at bedtime.)

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I even got to climb a mountain with this stud.

3. Buddy Up with Your Husband. A chief complaint of couples who got pregnant before they married, or very shortly after is: we didn’t have enough time together! This “time” God has given you is a blessing, not a curse. Get to really be best friends with your husband. Really get intentional about listening to him, learning to love him more, and laugh with him. The stronger your relationship before you have kids, the more likely you two will be able to grow and communicate after having kids. Don’t make an idol out of him, but learn what he loves. And even be willing to participate in his hobbies that have never appealed to you. (This might mean doing things you never imagined, like: going hunting with him, watching (and cheering louder than him during) football games, go golfing, skiing, or yes…even PLAYING Fantasy Football. Whatever it is. I dare you.)

4. Develop a Hobby or Skill. So..I took violin lessons with a man I swear was Gandalf’s twin brother. It was awesome. (Can’t say I’m the fiddler on the roof, since my violin is stuffed in the storage closet right now. But it was a lot of fun to learn!) Right now you have time to learn to do something you have always wanted to do. This might be a hobby you will enjoy (like a musical instrument, or knitting) or it might be a skill you can later turn into profit (ie. learning photography, or graphic design.) Learning a marketable skill may be more useful than you think, and may help to keep you at home with your babies once God gives them to you.

5. Exercise. When I was not able to conceive, I remember thinking, “Hey, at least I still get to exercise! Some pregnant women are not allowed!” I loved spending that time going on long two mile runs outside (it’s long for me, okay?), lap swimming, or jumping into a volleyball match. I’m not saying that becoming a mom is a death sentence for working out…it can just change it. A lot.

6. Career Time. If you want to realistically stay home with your child(ren), this time God has given you to work a job is a great time to clear away debt. Keep that at the forefront of your mind. Really pray about making big purchases now, that you could be paying for later (ie. houses, cars, exotic vacations etc.) Sock away that money into bank! Private/and international adoptions are expensive, if the Lord should lead you to do that. And if not, it never hurts to be a good steward of the finances God has given you, trusting He will teach you how and where to use them.

7. Invest in Other People’s Lives. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. Wasting time on other people, is not a waste. Seek out ways to serve in the lives of your friends and families and church and develop the gift of nurturing people. (I had the privilege of mentoring junior high girls during my waiting time, and loved it!) But if you seek out practical ways to help or invest in people who need it for the glory of God, you will never be wasting your time. I remember telling God I was ready to have a baby because I had so much love in me, I was overflowing. I remember sensing the Spirit’s reply, “How well are you loving the people I have already given you?”

8. Turn Your Waiting into Worship. When we bought our first house, there were like three extra bedrooms. One of them was even decorated as a nursery when we moved in. Of course every time I walked past that room, a pang of longing came. When will we have a little person to fill that room? Months and months went by. And those bedrooms, though they began to fill up with odds and ends, seemed only emptier and emptier. One day, I decided to make the “nursery” a room for worship. I cleared out some of the junk and would go in there and just worship God, often on my knees, or on my face. And you know what? After worshiping my God in that empty room, He would come and fill that space with His presence. He would come fill my empty heart, as a dwelling place for His Spirit. The “waiting room” became the “worship room.” It was a time to seek the Lord like I never had before. Not so that He would give me what a I wanted (a baby), but so that He would give me Himself.

And He always did.

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Our first apartment getting wrecked by Brandon’s nieces. It was worth it.

9. Cultivate a Heart for Children. Jesus loved children. And so should we. Look for opportunities to get to know some kids. It will only soften your heart, and prepare you to love whatever children God should give you more. Baby-sit for your friends with kids, or your nieces and nephews. Their parents will really appreciate it, and though it may seem like a stretch, you will probably love it. We did this quite a bit during our waiting time. And it was a blast. Of course we had NO toys at our house, and not one plastic cup…but we got creative and made it work. It also opened our heart further for adoption (something we were seriously considering at the time) and made us willing to love and care for any child, any age, or race, that needed a home.

10. Seek His Face. I can’t say this enough. God is what makes life full and alive, whether your womb or household is empty or full. The best moments in life, are the ones that are full of God. The very title of this blog “Barren to Beautiful” is not about going from infertility to motherhood. It’s about seeing. Do you see your life as a barren wasteland, or a beautiful masterpiece? Children don’t change that perspective, God does. Because if you are stuck seeing all the “lack” around you, even if you should have a child, or ten, you will just find more reasons to be unsatisfied. Nothing and no one else but God can satisfy and transform you. Don’t let yourself be a stagnant pond, open your hands, open your arms to God, and to the people and things He has placed before you right now–then the streams of Living Water will flow to and through and from you, and pour from your soul. That is how the barren become beautiful.  “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

This post was inspired by John Piper’s book, “Don’t Waste Your Life.” For more info on my barrenness read my post About My Barrenness or any of the posts under the TTC (Trying To Conceive) category.

I’m praying for you this morning.

Missing Rock Concerts

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Right now, Kari Jobe is less than a mile away from my house. (I could literally put on my running shoes, and be at her hotel. Not that I’ve thought about it or anything.) But she might as well be across the country. Tonight thousands will flock to our city’s arena and hear her sing and lead tremendous worship
–but not me.

Why, you ask? Because of barking.

Last night around midnight, I heard barking across the hall.
It was my daughter, it was Croup.

When I pulled out last year’s humidifier from our hall closet…it looked like it was hit with the Black Plague. (That was disappointing.) In a flash, my husband was gone to buy a new one. Meanwhile, I lay with her next to me in our bed, pulling her warm, feverish body close to mine. “Shhh,” I whispered. “It’s okay.”

My husband must have bought an industrial grade model. Because let me tell you, it felt like a SWAMP in our bedroom last night. I swear I felt raindrops at one point as the whole water cycle was happening in our bedroom. I mean, it was thick in there.

But she could breathe.
And that’s all that mattered.

This morning, as she and I stayed home from church, I popped in a live DVD performance of Bethel Music’s, “You Make Me Brave.” And who should appear on the stage, but Kari Jobe. “Ah!” I thought, “I could be seeing her tonight!”

But alas. Here we were. Her in her pajamas, and I in my sweats. In a steamy house. Steamy like the fog that was wafting on the stage where Kari Jobe was singing on the TV screen, steamy like the arena where she would be singing tonight.

But as we watched…Selah, my daughter, got up and started dancing. And I started dancing, too. Together, in our steamy house, we started dancing, and singing, and jumping, and laughing, and I held her hands swung her around in wild, dizzying circles, while she let out a high-pitch squeal at the top of her lungs. And Kari Jobe was belting it out from the TV, and so was I. And no one was watching.

But God.

And here in this place, here my sweatpants, I suddenly didn’t mind missing the rock show tonight. The glory of God came down, right in our living room. Selah laughed, and I cried–because God is good, and God is here, and God is enough. And just to be here, in his presence, together, like this–is enough. More than enough.

Being a mom: I may miss out on some of the glamour, but none of the glory.

“Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” Genesis 28:16

Photo Credit

“Do You Eat Girls?”

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“Are you not thirsty?” said the lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the lion.
“May I — could I — would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to — do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
—Excerpt from The Silver Chair, by C.S. Lewis

I love this scene because it’s one we all find ourselves in.

Thirst. 

You were born with it. And can die of it, too.

You need water to live. But there’s just one problem: you can only get it from one source. And you have to cross a Lion to get there. (Who very well may swallow you up.)

Oh yes, you were made to be wild my friend. To drink deeply. To live truly. To wrestle and walk away with grass in your hair. To live life alive. And to discover the most terrifyingly beautiful One of all; the only one who gives you what you need. And crave.

Run barefoot to the ends of the earth and you will not find a love like this. Drink anything you like–but to find Living Water…

“There is no other stream.”

But Christ.

Braver Than Me

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She charges into the roaring surf at the ocean. And wants to be pushed higher, and higher on the swings. She pets barking dogs. And scales the walls of her crib. She stands on the very edge of the kitchen chairs, like she’s ready to spring off a diving board. And during her bath, she dumps bucket after bucket of water on her head, drenching her face.

How did she come from me?

This dauntless creature?

Who screams louder than I did. Moves faster. Laughs harder. And jumps higher. (In her crib.)

Last week, I set her down in the store, and at once she ran to a giant “Back to School” display, grabbed a lunch box for each hand and charged down the aisle just like someone about to miss a flight (except, she was laughing hysterically.)

“Stop!” I’m yelling, “Come back!”

I snatch her up like a squealing pig, and whisper, “Shhh!” in her ear, trying hard not to laugh. But as I’m prying the Hello Kitty lunch boxes, like suitcases, from each of her hands, a wave of loss washes over my heart.

Don’t grow up, Baby Girl.

She’s only one and a half, but is already racing out of my arms the moment they swing open, like a derby horse out of the gate. And I know the day will come when she’s not just heading down an aisle at the store, but another aisle. Where she is dressed in a white flowing gown, and I stand by with streaming tears, and…a thousand tiny memories of her,
are suddenly awakened,
like a thousand butterflies put to flight.

Please, could I catch just one, to keep?

I want to pin her down forever. Right here. Like this. Where I can stroke her soft white-blonde hair, that curls when she wakes-up warm from a nap. And stare deep into her blue eyes, like two worlds. And to grab her skinny, squirming frame, and pull her close against me, if even for a moment. Could we just stay frozen like this forever?

But I can’t pin her down like a butterfly in a collection. And fragile as she seems, she was made to be free.

Free to fly.

My Darling Girl,
Sometimes, I fear what you will be. Where you will go. The adventures you will take. And the risk.

But if God has given you wings, I will teach you to fly.

To reach higher than me. Love deeper than me. Run harder than me. Stretch further. And be braver.

For when the world goes dark, your hands may need to strike the match and carry the torch. And when the Dragon invades, your bow may need to shoot the arrows into his heart. But don’t be afraid.

For your Rescuer, Jesus,

is coming back,

and coming soon,

for brave hearts longing for Him.

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[I recently had the honor of being a guest blogger and submitting this piece for a wonderful blog called MomLife Now, which is written by an incredibly gifted writer and mother named Sasha, whom I believe you will love as much as I do.]

To My Friends Who Lost Desire

As I was driving in the car yesterday morning, I was halted by this single reality: God is the most important thing. All the questions, desires and requests I had been asking Him that morning suddenly just—stopped. And this question came instead: Do you want God, for God? Or for what He can give you?

It’s a question I haven’t answered since I was in the midst of barrenness two years ago.

Do you want God, just for God?

How rarely I get up early just to go sit in His presence. Just to be with Him. Just to desire Him for Him.

This morning I read Psalm 63.
And it was so simple.
My soul thirsts for you. My flesh faints for you. My soul clings to you.

Often my desire for God is combined with a thousand other requests and petitions. Which is good. I really believe my God can answer every one. But sometimes in the midst of those “requests,” I lose my desire just for Him. Alone.

I no longer realize His preciousness.

To those who feel empty…you were made for God.
You were created to worship God. Not His world, not His gifts…but God Himself.

God is the most important thing.

So throw off the sin, and distractions, and desires that so easily entangle. And run. To God. For God.

“Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” Psalm 63:3

6 Things You Can Do for Persecuted Christians in Iraq

This morning, across the ocean, a woman has just watched her little toddler be beheaded, and her husband hanged with rope, and tonight waits to be stripped naked by two filthy, bloodstained hands of an ISIS militant, who will molest, rape, and kill her.

It’s true. “They are systematically beheading Christian children, raping, and killing the wives, and hanging the husbands,” CNN reports in this must-see video.

For the first time in my life, I cannot ignore it. I can turn the channel, or leave the room, but there is still this un-ignorable weight in my heart. When I speak about it to my friends or family, and hear words like “beheading, raping, and hanging” come out of my mouth, I become too choked up to finish. The Holy Spirit keeps testifying one thing: this is real.

But why do I feel so different about this crisis than all the others that flood across the news feed?  Is a Christian life of more value than a Muslim, or Yazidi?  No.

Then why do I grieve for them more?

Perhaps it is because…

They are my brothers, they are my sisters.

I am connected to these ones.

Born of the same Spirit.

Even though I do not know their names, the sound of their voices, the depths of their eyes…

They are my people.
Through and through.

“These are my people!” Queen Esther cried out. As in, “My own flesh and blood!” When her people (the Jews) were being persecuted, her grief moved to compassion, and compassion moved to high-risk action that would ultimately save them.

God has given us humans this violent thing in our hearts called, “compassion.” But there is reason we feel; it is to drive us to action. Something is not right (be it, Christian persecution, or human trafficking, or people starving while we live in excess)—and God is calling us to do something.

But as so many have said, “What can I do? They’re so far away.”

There are 6 things you can do today:

1. Follow What is Happening
You can’t care about something until you know about it. I am notorious for being out of the news loop. People are repeatedly shocked that I “didn’t know” about major news events. But while I am chanting, “Ignorance is bliss,” people are dying. I often don’t see the point in following the ever-depressing news–because if I’m honest, how does it affect me? (I’m usually consumed with “my kingdom,” when I am called to be consumed with God’s.) Secondly, (though I sometimes wish it), I wasn’t born in the “Little House on the Prairie” era, I was born into this one for a God-ordained reason. What if God has a greater agenda for me than the chore chart that’s hanging on my fridge?

2. Involve Your Kids
I’d like to flash my “mom card” like an excuse for jury duty when it comes to following events outside the playroom or kitchen. And yet, part of motherhood is introducing my daughter to our big world, and to an even bigger God who can save it. It’s okay if my daughter sees me weep over the things God weeps over. Perhaps one day, she will be more inclined to do so as well. In terms of the Iraq persecutions, my toddler and I  have simply been praying for “babies” with “boo boos.” She understands that much.

3. Let Yourself Feel Something

Just like Jack Johnson expresses in his song, The News, “Why don’t the newscasters cry when they read about people who die?” It is easy to be numb to catastrophic events that are so far away. However, author Francis Chan gave such helpful insight in his book, “Forgotten God,” about how to let myself “feel” the weight of injustice right here in my living room:

When he first learned about the realities of children in the sex-slave trade industry, he stayed up in his hotel room and began to think: what if my own kids were captured by the sex-trade industry? He stayed up all night sobbing loudly for them. And the more he thought about it, the more passionate his resolve that there was nothing he wouldn’t do to rescue them. [And as a result gave all of the royalties from his book, Crazy Love, to the Isaiah 58 Fund.]

What if we started actually feeling persecution as if it were being done to our own sisters, our own brothers? Our own children?

For indeed, it is.

4. Pray.
We sing about the God of “Angel Armies,” but do we really believe that? Many feel that prayer is “passive,” when it may be the most active thing we can do for our Christian brothers and sisters overseas. We have no idea that God may be releasing those angel armies at our cries. What is “passive” is talking about praying and never actually doing it (which is what I am guilty of.) But when you engage in fervent prayer, the Holy Spirit will testify in your spirit, what you are doing is intensely active and important.

Remember who you are praying to. Our God is stronger than any military, government, or power in the universe. When He acts, who can stop it? (Is. 43:13) All through Scripture God defeats nations (2 Chronicles 20), strikes armies with blindness, and surrounds his people with angles and chariots of fire  (2 Kings 6), He parts seas (Heb. 11:29), provides food from heaven (Exodus 16), opens prison doors, and story after story, delivers His people. Can He not do it again?

5. Give.
You can donate money to Christian organizations in Iraq. A few legitimate ones are The Voice of the Martyrs (which gives Bibles with the aid), Open Doors and Christian Aid. I usually pass on these because I assume the money won’t get ever get there. But these are solid organizations, and these people need our help.

6. Raise Social Media Awareness

This is what I am doing right now. Many don’t know what’s going on, and will never read my words—but they will read your words. Because they know and trust you. If you have any type of social media account, you have the power to do this. What is God pressing on your heart to say about it? Share that.

You can also upload the picture below to your social media profile to show loyalty and stand with the persecuted Christians in Iraq. Click here to read more about the meaning of this symbol.

I heard yesterday that the only reason America is helping in Iraq, is because they are concerned about the oil and money in it. Maybe that’s true. Maybe not. I don’t know what America’s agenda is about.

But I do know what God’s is about.
And He will advance His kingdom.
He will unite His people.
He will build His church.
And the neither the Islamic State, nor the gates of hell will prevail against it.

Your prayers, or offering, or awareness-spreading may be the only answer to an Iraqi sister’s prayer tonight

….as she lays in the dark on a cold floor with a knot in her stomach, waiting to be raped, clutching onto her last dying hope: not to deny Jesus Christ as Lord.

For when it’s all over, when that ISIS militant is all finished ravaging her body, and deems her “worthless,” and ends her life, by bullet or sword

…she will at last open her eyes to eternity, and see another Man standing before her.

The One who formed her. Who first uttered her name into existence. And knit her together in the secret place. She will look down, and no longer be naked, but clothed, in white. And his warm hand will wipe away all the tears from her eyes and heal all her wounds and whisper, “Before I formed you, I knew you, and you are Mine. Come, I have prepared a place for you at Wedding Supper of the Lamb.”

 

Photo Credit

Frozen Pizza and the Crisis in Iraq

“What’s for dinner?” my husband asked. “Just pizza,” I replied, pointing to the box of frozen pizza on the counter. “Just pizza?” he said with a curious smile, implying my obvious ingratitude. “Okay,” I rolled my eyes, “We get to have pizza tonight!” I exclaimed in my most enthusiastic voice. (But not very convincingly.)

As I threw together a quick salad to go with it, my mind stayed glued on my husband’s implication. “Just pizza?”

My mind flashed to the news I heard that morning: Thousands of innocent people stranded on top of a mountain without food or water for seven days, waiting for rescue, or death.

Men, women, children, babies–hungry and thirsty. What they would give for even a morsel of any food. 

Every day I have food and water. I rate things like a frozen pizza ‘a kind of crappy dinner.’ I push my cart through aisles of food. Thousands of choices. Varieties. I can’t even decide there are so many choices. I can eat what I want, whenever I want. Without a thought.

60 children are confirmed dead on top of Mt. Sinjar tonight–from extreme temperatures, hunger, and thirst.

“Just pizza?”

I grieve for these little ones tonight. I have been given so much. Most of the world has so little. And I don’t even know it. They usually seem so far away. Like another world.

But tonight they seem so close.

I lay in my warm bed with my husband. My daughter sleeps across the hall in her crib–safe right now. Another report surfaces in my mind: hundreds of young women have been taken captive by the militants with “vicious” plans for them, and are being held in schools in Mosul, “most likely being abused in demeaning ways by the terrorists,” Amin reported, “to satisfy their animalistic urges in a way that contradicts all the human and Islamic values.”

Tears roll off my cheeks into my pillow. I lay in my bed wondering, what it would be like, to be one of them? What horrors do they face tonight?

My husband rolls over and tells me, “You’ve just been reading the news the last few days, Bekah. But this kind of stuff is going on all the time, all over the world.”

He is right. I hate that he is right. This is our world. The one Jesus came for. Because it’s broken and hurting and so very sick. Sometimes evil things can masquerade as beautiful ones…but sometimes the whole world turns and sees evil for what it is.

Urgency courses through my blood stream. And yet, I don’t know what to do. I pray desperately for their rescue. I ask God to send angels to war for them. To save them. I can’t stop thinking about them. Babies are dying of starvation and young girls are being raped. Every day. This is reality–even if I can’t see it.

I grow increasingly restless, unsure of what my hands can do, or my voice can speak, or my wallet can spend to help, help this injustice all over the world…to stop. I don’t know what I can do, but once I do, I hope to do it with all my might.

What can I do tonight? Tomorrow?

Stop complaining about things that are only “first world” preferences, and start being relentlessly grateful for what I have. Like food. Water. And that God has sustained me, and my family one more day on this earth.

This means: I need to not be picky about food. Not a little bit. Not ever. I need to never ever say again, “Just pizza.” I need to never apologize to my family or my dinner guests for what I am serving them.

Instead I will serve them whatever food God has supplied, like it’s the best meal on earth.

For, “godliness with contentment is great gain,” and, “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6:6,8

We will hold hands and say “grace.” And mean it. By God’s grace we have been given this food, this water.

This life. For one more day.

 Photo Credit 

[I know this is a real and serious situation, not just in Iraq, but globally. And learning gratitude is only a small part. If you know of, or participate with any social justice organizations, or, can share any practical involvement or beneficial resources, please share in the comments section.]

When Writing is Seeing

“You can talk to God this way,” she said, then handed me a black composition journal and a new pen as we sat in Sunday School class. I did not know the power then, of what she had given me, of what was in my hands. Of words.

That words have life-giving power.

Since I was twelve, I have been scribbling down my thoughts, prayers, dreams, and nightmares in a journal. From junior high gel pens to more grown-up Barnes & Noble types…I cannot count how much I have written or how many journals I have gone through. Stacks.

Writing is how I engage with God. Pour out my heart. Get my bearings. But more than anything: to see. 

To see, is a beautiful gift. And when I stop writing, I stop seeing.  Stop looking for God, stop listening for Him. I go blind so quickly to all He is doing, all He has given me, all He is calling me to.

But to write, is to see. And to see, is to see Christ, high and lifted up.

Here at Barren to Beautiful, the goal is to listen and look for God’s beauty permeating through all of our current life. To see beyond the barrenness, the empty, the want. To put our gaze on Christ, the opener of our eyes. So that we will not walk away empty, or thirsty–but full. And satisfied in God.

I was recently featured by a beautiful blogger named Sasha at MomLife Now. She is one of my dear blogging friends who often helps me to see the glory all around me. She has this incredible ability to magnify small mundane moments into take-your-breath-away sacred ones. She is a true writer who becomes still enough to hear, to see the beauty. It’s amazing how reading about her world, actually makes me love mine more. You can check out a favorite, “Forever My Passion” here or by clicking the photo below.

Part of participating in this blog hop is to feature another blog you simply love.

I am thrilled to point you to Jeanne Harrison at Loving My Lot, the first blogger I ever fell head-over-heels for. Her blog, Loving My Lot, is all about embracing. Embracing Jesus. Your kids. Your husband. Your world currently. However glamorous (or unglamorous) it may seem.

If you want a refreshingly honest voice on the real issues today’s women/mother’s/wives face: read her blog. I have read many books written for today’s Christian women, and I have yet to find a voice this clear, piercing, and genuine (and might I add…enjoyable?).  I stumbled upon her as a new mom, with her post Mom vs. Mom: The War I Didn’t See Coming, but was hooked ever since. She is like a really wise friend, who is not afraid to (hilariously and humbly) tell it like it is. And yet with wisdom, hope, and joy point you toward Christ. She offers everything from book reviews to topics like fearful parenting, romancing your husband, and being intentional with your kids and even practical advice on developing a schedule and taking care of your home. Her words are a continual joy and strength to me. And reading her words have helped me not only embrace, but enjoy what God has given me.

Dear sisters, wherever you are today, whether you are blind to the blessings, or gratefully aware of them: choose to see, and to keep seeing. Whether it’s reading, or writing. Whatever it takes. Listen closely.

You have a God who is speaking. Who can open eyes that are blind. Ears that are deaf. With His words. Words that create worlds. Words that heal wounds. Words that have life-giving power.

Words that help you see.