Eva’s Testimony

It has been my prayer that the Lord would receive glory from the story He is writing in my life. I am so overwhelmed by His love toward us that it is truly a humbling experience to tell you now what He has done!

Growing up I always thought I would get married and have kids all at the same time… that’s how everyone did it right!? My husband and I had been married for three and a half years before we thought about trying. Just as soon as we talked about it a missed period and positive test told us we were expecting our first! It was a magical moment and we were thrilled! Life just seemed to be falling into place according to my plan, until…

We started to pray with our firstborn (then 2 1/2) that the Lord would bless us with another child. We also were praying for His will and timing…
I have never waited for something so long in my life. It has been a journey full of tears, hurts, deepening of my faith and coming to the point of complete surrender to the Lord. My life is His and He can do with it whatever he wills. There is a joy and freedom in this like no other.
My life is His.
His story has included some dark and cloudy moments though. After three years of unexplained infertility and crying out to the Lord we were elated when those two lines appeared on a positive pregnancy test!! Shocked and amazed we fell to our knees in worship that God would choose this for us! However, two short weeks later we found that this precious gift was not ours to keep. In those two weeks I let my heart dream all of the big dreams that I had been holding back for three years. Though my heart was broken to pieces the Lord was ever present with us through it all. He comforted us in ways I never knew possible and we experienced His peace in new ways that surpassed our understanding.
My heart was unsure how to move forward from this experience. I knew I wanted to glorify Him with this no matter what and I know He will continue to use this difficult heart-wrenching experience in the years to come. Nothing is wasted with our God.
This is not the end… A couple of short months later a different kind of shock and awe hit us when that pregnancy test was positive again! Oh my. My heart was thrown for a loop. Everything was different now. Am I headed for more heartache? Will I be able to hold this baby in my arms? These and so many other questions immediately flooded in. In all honesty I have to say that I struggled for a week before my heart calmed enough to hear that still small voice say, “I was with you then, I’m with you still.” I’m so thankful for the prayer support He surrounded me with during this time. I leaned into Him again and made the choice to trust. This is His story.
Today I hold a precious beautiful baby boy in my arms as I write this out. My heart was prepared for the Lord to grow our family in other ways and maybe He still will. I had hoped, but was submitted to whatever would happen. Sometimes we are called to wait and sometimes our prayers are not answered the way we had hoped they would be, but God is sovereign over it all. My prayer is that through my experience God would receive glory and that you, my sweet sisters in Christ, would be encouraged and take heart. Our Lord may not always give us what we want, but we can be assured that he is always working for the good of our souls.
–Eva

 Thanks so much for sharing your testimony Eva! We celebrate the life of your precious baby boy and all that God has done in you and through you on this journey!

If you would like to share your testimony of how God has healed your womb, or how He has healed, or is healing your soul (whether or not you have a baby) please email me [email protected] and check out the writer’s guidelines at “Want To Share Your Testimony?” I feature a Testimony each Tuesday, you can also subscribe with your email address, or follow along on my Facebook Page.

Love, Rebekah

Why Dishes Are Still In My Sink

I didn’t finish my dishes tonight. I love when they are finished. Because I can come down to clean kitchen the next morning, brew my coffee and start the day fresh.

But I didn’t finish them tonight. Half are still soaking in the sink. With food stuck to the plates. And BBQ sauce sticking to my crockpot.

Tomorrow I will go downstairs to a messy kitchen. I will have to stick my hand in the cold water and unplug the drain. (Something I hate doing.) And I will have to start my day doing the dishes I didn’t do tonight.

But do you know what I DID do tonight?

I popped popcorn on the stove with my daughter Selah, who is 4-years-old. Because she wanted to have a “fun” night. All week she kept saying she wanted to have a “fun” night where we popped popcorn and watched a movie and danced to music.

So I decided tonight was going to be the “fun” night.

And it really was.

She stood on the counter as the popcorn popped on the stove. And she laughed hysterically, the whole time, at every single kernel as it popped. It wasn’t really that funny, but it was “fun” night, so I joined her in forced laughter for five straight minutes.

We started the movie, “Because Of Win-Dixie,” and sat together on the floor holding our big bowl of popcorn.

And she fed me.

Every couple handfuls of popcorn that went into her mouth, she would pick up a piece and put it carefully to my mouth. But there was so much love in her eyes.

I obliged.

After all, it was the “fun” night.

So, we took turns feeding each other. The movie played on and there we were looking like two newlyweds at their wedding reception, but instead of feeding each other cake, it was popcorn. And we couldn’t stop laughing.

And she put her arm around me. And I didn’t want to leave her side.

The dishes were calling me.

But tonight, I just stayed. I just sat by her side, and watched the movie all the way through.

She put princess stickers on my shirt. Carefully, one by one.

And…

She told me she loved me.

And it felt good. To just fully give myself to her.

For once.

To breathe in her sweet scent. .

I remember the first time I smelled her. The snowy night she was born, when they laid her slippery little body on my chest. And I wrapped my frail, shaky arms around her. And all at once, I loved her. All of me, loved all of her.

And an avalanche happened in my heart.

Of love.

Baby girl. 

Come back. 

She’s not a baby anymore. She’s four.

But on nights like this. When we’re wrapped in eachother’s arms. She is mine, and I am hers.

And there’s nothing more sacred, more holy, then these moments with her. Getting low and laying on the carpet.

Feeding each other popcorn.

And laughing at all the funny parts.

Because it’s “fun” night.

And I love her.

And by some miracle, she loves me.

With a love more tender, and kind, and gentle, than I am worthy of.

With stickers.

And popcorn.

And her tiny arm tightly around me.

Because tonight, there was this moment when I looked over at her laughing, and I was laughing, and just for a moment she felt more like sister, than my daughter. Like my friend.

And I’m going to remember this, tomorrow morning. When I wake up and go downstairs. And stick my hand in the cold water and unplug the kitchen sink. Because I’ll be wondering why I didn’t choose the dishes.

 

And I know, moms, we can’t spend ALL our days playing with our kids. Our houses would eventually collapse in a pile of rubble.

But let’s be honest, how much time do we actually spend playing with our kids?

(Without our phone handy, so we can space out on Facebook…which is what I usually do.)

I don’t play with my daughter enough.

Tonight, though, for a change, I just needed to “clock-out” from being Susie Homemaker. Because there are always dishes in the sink. There’s always one more thing to do.

And it’s always something important.

(To me.)

 

But she’s important, too. And it’s more important to her, that I lay on the floor, and let her feed me popcorn, and cover my shirt with stickers.

Tomorrow, I’m going to trip over the pillows on the living room floor.

And I’ll be sure to find some stray popcorn kernals on the stove.

And yes, I’ll reach into that nasty cold sink water.

But she’s the reason my dishes are still in the sink. 

My daughter.

My sister. 

My friend. 

Kelly’s Testimony: Don’t Get Lost In The Storm

My journey with infertility started over 13 years ago, in April 2003. My cycles were unpredictable. I eventually learned that my body did not ovulate on its own… or so the doctor said.

Over those 13 years, I internalized my emotional roller coaster and I began to eat my emotions.

At my largest, I was 70+ pounds overweight. So, in August of 2015, I began CrossFit. In the beginning, I went to become healthy enough to carry a baby–but at some point along the way, the journey became less about conceiving and more about being happy with who I am. I began to work out more, eat healthier, drink more water and my cycles became more regular only being off by 4 to 7 days, (instead of months and months apart.) But most of all, I began to live for myself and not for the unborn child that had not been conceived yet.

In November 2011, I re-married an amazing man who stood beside me, encouraged me, and made me feel whole. We did some fertility treatment, but January 1, 2016, the monetary and emotional cost, would lead us to make the decision to let go.

I asked God, “Why?” A LOT. I never really understood the “Why?” but always felt or even knew in my spirit that it would happen. I still believed. I still had faith God would provide. But I needed to separate myself from living for someone whose time had not been appointed yet.

My husband and I took down our nursery, gave some things away and attempted to sell the rest; however, no one would buy anything….anything!

In October of 2016, we made the decision to buy a new house and some farm animals on 5 acres! The land had not been cared for in many, many years and there was a lot of work to do. Our life had become busy with work, working out, and caring for our land. The pain of being 32-years-old and seemingly barren had begun to slip away a little.

We began to enjoy the freedom of being able to go and do what we wanted, when we want. “2 a.m. run to Walmart? Sure, why not!” We began to realize that we had the ability to go and do, unlike most of our friends. We began to enjoy each other; after all, life was just going to be the two of us…forever.

Christmas came, I decorated every room in the house, every room had its own tree; it was beautiful! Then New Year’s came and went. We had been a full year of focusing on us, our marriage and building a life for two, plus our “fur babies.” We were content. Life was perfect… or so we thought.

Then there is January 26, 2017 at 5:15 p.m.

My cycle was only 3 days late. No big deal. I am used to that. But, I was having some stomach issues, (also normal for me) and I wanted to take some medication for it but knew it would be unsafe IF I happened to be expecting. I asked my husband, “Please stop and get some pregnancy test. I know it will be negative. I would just feel better taking it before the meds.” He happily obliged, knowing that when it was negative, I would descend into a spiral of darkness for a few days. He would be there to hold me, cry with me and we would pick the pieces back up and move forward together…stronger and closer as a couple.

BUT, this was not the case this time….there was a “+”. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There had NEVER been a “+”. I took the test to him for reassurance. There was definitely a PLUS! I finally understood why no one would buy all the clothes and toys we had collected over the year.

After a journey that lasted 13 years and 8 months, there was a tiny miracle in my womb! God had kept His word…His promise. The promise I had stood on for the last 5 years. The promise I reminded Him of daily. The promise that was posted all over our home: Psalm 113:9 “He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord.”

God has been faithful to us! I have prayed for this child by name since December of 2011. Isaiah William is due to arrive September 28. God has filled the desire of our hearts!

God has seen us through the struggle of infertility, provided the miracle of being able to purchase a home we never thought we could afford, put a tiny miracle in my womb and had us in a safe place on April 29, when a tornado destroyed our home and car.

We can see God through the storms… ALL of them! The lesson we have best learned through it all is: Don’t get lost in the storm. Just like Peter, in Matthew 14, if we take our eyes off God, we begin to become afraid and sink in the situation. Keep your eyes on God, praise Him through the storm and He will see you through it!


Thank you Kelly for sharing this beautiful story of how God has carried you through these storms for 13 years! You give hope to us all as you have trusted in the Lord, and we cheer you on now as you are pregnant and give birth this September! May God deliver your sweet baby boy in His perfect time, and His perfect way. 

If you would like to share your testimony of what God has done (or is doing) in your womb, or in your soul, please email me at [email protected] and check out the writer’s guidelines here at “Want To Share Your Testimony?”

It’s Not Your Fault He’s Not A Dad

You saw the way he was beaming at her–as she carried his baby carefully against her chest. She didn’t even catch his glance, her husband’s proud gaze. But you did.

And something shifted in your heart.

And you wish you could give this gift to your husband. The gift of children.

The gift of being a dad.

Because you’ve seen the way he makes kids laugh. You’ve seen the the boyish grin on his face, and the delight in his eyes.

And you know, he’d be good at it.

But there’s a chasm. It feels as wide as the ocean. Between what you want to give him–and what you can give him.

You wish you could give him the world.

Or just, one child.

“He deserves to be a dad,” your heart whispers.

“If it wasn’t for me..”

“If he had married someone else…”

“If my body could carry a child…”

“If I were different…”

Maybe he would be a dad.

Oh, sweet sister. These whispers are not from God. They are not from the Holy One. Who formed you and created you in your mother’s womb.

These whispers are from Satan.

Know this.

It’s not your fault he’s not a dad. 

It’s not. Okay?

You can’t give your husband children. 

Do you know why? Because…

Only God can. 

The pressure is not on you sweet girl. It is not your burden to carry.

It never was.

God is the giver of life.

He gives life.

“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.

The world and all its people belong to him.

For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas

and built it on the ocean depths.” Psalm 24:1-2 NLT

Your friend with the kids–she didn’t give those kids to her husband.

God did.

No one has the power to give children anyone. We are not given this ability.

Every baby born is only born because God has created this life. And anyone who has the incredible gift of children, the incredible gift of being a mom, or a dad, is only because God has given it.

I know, because I have been there. Where you are. I have cried into my husband’s chest. I have said those words through tears, “I’m sorry I can’t give you children.”

But I see now, that I never could.

Today, we have two beautiful children. Selah, who is 4, and Jesse, who is 6 months. They are precious, precious gifts. And my husband is a tremendous father today.

But I didn’t give him those babies.

God did.

He is the Giver. The only one.

“Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3 (NLT)

So look to Him. And cry out to Him. And wait on Him.

And as you wait, dear one, don’t apologize to your husband for something that isn’t your fault. Because it isn’t.

The pressure is not on you. This is not your burden to carry. Nor your husband’s.

It’s God’s. He is the burden-bearer.

And He is the giver of life. The only one.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.

The world and all it’s people belong to Him. ” Psalm 24:1

Even you. And even him. 

What Postpartum Feels Like

It’s April 1st, and my Christmas wreath is still hanging on our front door.

Let that be an indication of how things are “going” in our household.

My Facebook profile picture is still a maternity shot of me…and my baby boy who was born in December, is now 3 1/2 months old. So…

I’m a little (or a LOT) behind on laundry, vacuming, grocery shopping (since the ALDI incident), and pretty much every other area of life right now.

I haven’t been writing, because I feel empty inside. And have nothing to say.

I nurse my baby boy constantly, while my 4-year-old begs me to play Candy Land with her, and watch her magic tricks, and cries when I don’t look at her while she’s talking. (So, she cries a lot.) I fold laundry and cook dinner with one hand. Or not at all.

Sometimes, I forget to start dinner, and pull out the rock hard frozen chicken breast at 3:30 p.m. And it’s a frozen pizza for dinner, instead.

The Keurig light blinks, “Not Ready–Add Water…” And that’s pretty much how I feel right now. Like the canteen is dry, and blinking. And being constantly depleted.

And this is how postpartum feels, sometimes. And the jump from one to two kids is harder than I imagined it would be. It’s so good–it’s just that my weaknesses are showing through more than ever.

My Scripture reading is scant–unless an Instagram graphic counts. And I’m pretty sure just playing the “Bethel” station on my Spotify on my phone isn’t quite giving my soul the intimacy with God I need.

Our house is filled with chaos and noise–a beautiful sound in contrast with the years of quietness and crying out for children.

But now that they’re here, it’s strange how the barrenness can creep back into my soul.

And I’m reminded again–that it is God, and only God that truly satisfies the longing soul.

Sometimes my daughter leaves the caps off her markers. This week I picked up the orange marker to write down a phone number, but the cap had been off. It was bone dry. It made a mark, but just barely. I tried to press harder–and the color just barely came through.

I’ve felt a lot like that orange marker lately.

Like, the cap has been off for a while now.

I’m pressing hard–but just barely coming through.

And my soul is dry like that marker.

I’ve felt all kinds of different emotions lately. I know part of it is due to postpartum hormones, and nursing an infant, and clutter around my house, and driving my daughter to preschool while my son wails. And being so tired. All the time.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE being a mom. There are these beautiful moments that simply take my breath away.

But there are other moments, that simply take my sanity away.

Like when my baby is crying because he wants to be held or nursed, and I haven’t gotten to eat anything yet and it’s 10:30 a.m. And my stomach is growling. And my 4-year-old daughter is crying because I didn’t let her screw on the cap of the sippy cup, and my son poops through his outfit and needs a bath. And his poop leaked onto the shirt I’m wearing. And when I pass myself in the mirror, I look much like Miss Hanigan on Annie. (Not the new Cameron Diaz version, but the ugly one from the 80’s version.)

Sometimes, all three of us are crying at the same time.

 

Sometimes, it feels like we are at a nut house.

When my son fell asleep yesterday, I put a show on for my daughter and locked myself in my room–just so I could drink a hot cup of coffee and straighten my hair. Just to feel “normal.”

It didn’t really help. But my hair looked better than it has in a long time. 😉

And I finally realized something: my soul is parched.

I am in a season of drought. 

Even as I write this–I am in a season of drought.

But I found some hope yesterday, and I’m clinging to it, wrapping both my arms and legs around it, and not letting go.

During one of my nursing sessions on the couch–I made a very feeble attempt to read my Bible. I one-handedly flipped open my it open to Jeremiah 17.

I have always loved this Scripture–but God met me through it in a new way.

It says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.” Jeremiah 17:5-6

As I read, I was realizing:

Yes. That is me. Trying to make my own flesh my strength. My heart departing from the Lord. A shrub in the desert. Dwelling in the parched places of the wilderness. 

I might have walked away depressed if I stopped there. But I kept reading. And found this,

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.  He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in a year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

And here I find my hope.

Because even the man who trusts in the LORD—goes through times of drought.

And when he does, he does not grow anxious.

He does not fear–when heat comes. (Not if heat comes, but when it comes.)

So, right now, in my dry, chaotic state of mind, as I am parched and weary–I put my trust in the LORD.

Indeed, my trust is the LORD. It has to be. And not my weary self.

Even in a year of drought, I am not to grow anxious.

(I really hope it’s not a full year of drought.) But, however long this drought lasts, I don’t have to be anxious and fearful.

I can’t “feel” God close right now. But He is. My mind is dull, and distracted, and I can’t engage how I would like to.

And I’m thirsty inside.

But in my thirst–I still have hope.

Because He promises to quench me. In His time.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

In my unrighteousness, I thirst for His righteousness. And He will fill me. He promises this.

I hope you know, I’m not writing from the other side of this. I am in a dry place right now.

But, I have to share this, because I think someone reading this might be in a dry season, too. Maybe it’s you.

Maybe you are in a postpartum state. And maybe not. But either way, maybe you too, feel like a dried up marker.

Trying to make a mark, and pressing hard…but just barely coming through.

Who feels depleted. Who wakes up each day like the blinking Keurig. “Not ready. Add Water.”

Who wants to have it together–but doesn’t.

If you are, you’re not alone. Because I am in this place, too.

And then, there’s Jesus… I have to believe He will come for us. That He will meet us in our drought. Because…

He  calls out to the thirsty.

And thirst is good. Because it makes us realize how desperate we are–for Him.

I don’t know when the rains will come. But they will come.

He will come. He has to. 

And though I feel like it has been a long time, in this drought season. I see a cloud. It’s only as small as a man’s hand. But I see a cloud…and rain is coming.

Jesus is coming. For us.

For the dry markers. And empty Keurig’s. And the barren lands. The souls thirsting for water.

I’m not afraid to admit: I’m thirsty. I’m dry. And I need Him. 

Because He will send the rain. He promises this.

“For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.” Psalm 107:9

and

“Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3

So let it rain God. 

I am thirsty for You. 

And You alone. 

 


You may also enjoy listening to this song by Kari Jobe, “Let Your Glory Fall.”

I Was Dreading My 30th Birthday Until My Daughter Said This…

“I can’t turn 30!” I was folding laundry in the living room and my 4-year-old daughter was sliding over the arm of the leather chair on her belly. She looked up at me and smiled. “Selah, I can’t turn 30!” I said again, half serious, and half joking.

She just giggled. (She continued pretending to be mermaid slipping down the front of the couch like it’s a water slide.) Meanwhile I began to panic inside.

I will turn 30 in just a few days. 

30? Really? 

Usually, I look forward to my birthday, but for the first time…I feel like that’s “old.”

I’m not a kid any more. 

Pretty soon, my knees will creak when I bend. My hair will gray and whiten. My eyes will wrinkle when I smile. And who knows what illness may be waiting for me in the years to come?

“I can’t turn 30…” I muttered again, this time dropping my face into my hands.

“Yes, you can Mom!” Selah said, coming over to me, smiling wide.

“I can’t turn 30!” I said again.

“Yes, you can Mom!” She said.

Then she came over to me and put her hands on my shoulders and got right in my face, just like a football coach.

“Mom,” she said, very matter-of-factly, “You have to turn 30!”

“Why?” I asked her. Honestly, wanting to know. But I didn’t expect what she said next…

“Because,” she said, getting right in my face, “God’s still growing you!”

God’s still growing you. 

And that’s when something caught in my spirit.

God

          is still

                       growing you. 

I pulled her close to me, and wrapped my arms around her, this little blonde girl, whose only four years old, but sometimes seems so much older. Who sometimes seems more like a little prophetess or angel, more like a messenger from God to me. Reminding me of wisdom from another world. Her words rang in my head.

God’s still growing you.”

And suddenly I realized, in that moment. It’s okay that I’m turning 30. It’s okay that my body might change, or will change, in the coming years. It’s okay that I get older. It’s okay I look older. And even feel older.

It’s okay that wrinkles eventually appear from all the years of laughing.

Because you know what?

God’s still growing me. 

And my body, may change, it may get weak and frail, and one day wear out. But even then,

God’s still growing me. 

And every year is a gift, to be celebrated. To look back on all God has done, to look ahead at all He will do.

And God is always, always growing us. Growing us up in Him. Growing us in Christ.

Every year He moves us a little more out of the kingdom of this world, and a little more into the kingdom of God–the kingdom we were born for.

And every birthday I turn a year older.

But that just means I’m one year closer to seeing Jesus,

face to face. 

 

And that is a reason to celebrate.

I don’t know what 30 will hold, or 50, or 70…or beyond.

But I know Who holds me.

And as long as He has me on this earth,

He is growing me. 

He is constantly growing me. 

And the only reason I breathe in and out each day is because

He fills me with His breath. 

And outwardly I may be wasting away…but inwardly, He is renewing me day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

And,  “My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)

So, here’s to 30, I will embrace you with both arms. I won’t fear what the future holds. I won’t mourn my body. I won’t dread becoming older. Instead, I will smile at the future, and laugh at the days to come. (Proverbs 31:26)

Because God is still growing me. 

“And besides Mom,” Selah says, “You have to turn 30, because you have to eat cake and blow out your candles!”

Yes, dear girl. I do. 

To The Woman Who Saw Me At ALDI Today

I was feverishly chucking my groceries onto the conveyor belt today at ALDI, while my one-month-old son was screaming in-stereo. (If you are an ALDI shopper, you know how insanely fast the cashiers scan your items.) I felt everyone’s eyes behind me as I was holding the binky in my son’s mouth with one hand, and grasping at my groceries with the other.

My 4-year-old daughter was trying to “help” me by reaching into the shopping cart (except that she’s too short to reach the groceries, but so fiercely determined, that she was balancing on the edge of the cart on her stomach, and almost falling head first into the cart.) “Let Mommy do it!” I kept saying as she was grabbing all the glass jars of salsa and marinara sauce, and nearly dropping them onto the floor.

Meanwhile, my son continued screaming. I kept telling myself to just keep calm. This was my first grocery shopping trip with two children. And it was everything I pictured in my nightmares.

Until she saw me.

I don’t know where she came from. But she came.

I had just pulled our massive parade-float of a shopping cart over to the counter, and I was trying to bag my groceries with one hand and jamming the binky in my son’s mouth with the other. Neither was effective.

He kept on wailing. And I felt I was beginning to perspire as I was saying, “Shhhh,” and wiggling the binky into his mouth. The entire store could hear us.

As the soundtrack of baby screams continued, my daughter was upset and whining because I wasn’t letting her “beep” all the groceries before putting them into the bags. (She likes to pretend she’s the cashier. Even at the worst times.)

I looked up out the window into the parking lot to see that it was snowing…sideways. The wind was blowing hard, and it was nasty out.

But then she came. This woman.

I didn’t see her, but…

She saw me.

She saw me flustered, trying to be under control, and visibly struggling. (Audibly struggling…as the wailing continued.)

She came over to me and said, “What can I do to help you?” And something about the way she said it, I knew she meant it. 

I recognized her as the friend of one of my friend’s. I didn’t know her name, but I had seen her before maybe at a cookie exchange, or birthday party.

“I can do anything,” she said.

She quickly came over and helped me bag up the rest of my groceries. She talked sweetly to my daughter. And she said, “What else can I do?”

“Thanks so much. We’re okay,” I told her. Trying to convince myself we were, as I looked out into the parking lot and blowing snow.  And I almost left right then, but hesitated. There was something I saw in her face, something you don’t see every day:

kindness.

And I knew, I could let her help me. That she actually wanted to help me.

And I knew I could trust her. (Because she was my friend’s friend…and at that moment, it was enough.)

So I said, “Can you stay with my daughter and cart while I pull my car up?”

“Of course,” she said with a smile.

She knelt down and smiled at my daughter, and began showing her pictures of her kids on her phone. (Because she was a Mommy, too.) And I’m not sure, but I wonder if she may have had a day like this once.

I left the store carrying my son out to the car in this impromptu blizzard and pulled up as quickly as I could. Part me felt crazy, I couldn’t believe I was doing this. But I was desperate.

When I went back in the store she was still knelt down with my daughter showing her pictures on her phone. I thanked her as best as I could, and we left.

I had managed to keep my composure in the grocery store, and even when I was putting away my cart back to get my quarter back. But as I drove home, the tears came.

I began the ugly cry. Partly because of all the pent-up frustration I had felt in the store, but mostly because of what this woman  had done for me. That she just jumped in, all hands on deck, ready to do anything for me. I remembered her words,

“What can I do to help you?”

“I can do anything.”

There is an African Zulu greeting I have heard of, “Sawubona.”

It means, “I see you.”

I see you. 

She was just one woman, but she saw me. She saw me frantically juggling my groceries, and the binky bouncing out of my hand, the crying newborn, and the daughter trying to “beep” all the groceries, and nearly breaking them.

She could have closed her eyes.

But she opened them.

She could have walked on by. But she stopped.

She saw me.

She could have smiled, and said, “Been there!” (Which would have still been nice.)

But she went the extra mile. She got low, to show me kindness.

And there is a huge difference between being nice.

And being kind.

Niceness is safe, but real kindness is risky.

Kindess isn’t just a smile. But it’s words, and it’s heart, and it’s hands–when you need them.

And she was kind.

She didn’t just say it. She showed it.

She simply saw a very messy situation, and turned it into a beautiful one. With kindness.

I think she did exactly what Jesus would have done if He were standing in ALDI’s today. And the more I think about it, the more I realize He was there. In her.

She literally lived out, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)

I think here in the midst of suburbia, we sometimes don’t know how to be kind. We are afraid to ask someone if we can help because we are afraid of offending someone. We are afraid of creating an awkward situation.

But I don’t think Jesus intended it to be as hard as we make it.

Maybe it’s as simple as saying:

Sawubona.

I see you. 

Or, in other words:

“What can I do to help you?”

“I can do anything.”

Baby Boy Is Here

After a very long and intense 30-hour labor–our baby boy arrived on December 14th at 10:39 p.m.

We named him Jesse Michael. Jesse which means “gift.” And we are so in love.

I never knew a boy could be so beautiful, but he is.

Oh, it was the hardest day of my life. Laboring with him. Everyone told me their second labor was faster and easier…but mine was longer…and so much harder. But the Lord was with me, and my husband, Brandon. Who again proved himself to be like an angel without wings. Soothing me with his gentle voice, and persistent spirit, he did not leave my side.

By the end, I literally felt like I was at the end of myself. Like I had nothing left. I felt like he would never come. Like I could never cross that finish line. Like he was still a million miles away. So far out of reach.

But he was right there, the whole time. Just waiting for the right moment.

And I listened to that song, “Out of Hiding” by Steffany Gretzinger, and I wept in between contractions.

“Baby, you’re almost home now, 

Please don’t quit now,

Baby, you’re almost home now,

to me…”

And finally, he came. By some miracle, God opened the way. And delivered him. And me.

And when he finally came out, (facing up, so that our spines were against each other the whole time)…he was a whopping 9 lbs. 11 oz.! (Almost 3 pounds heavier than his big sister!)

And they threw him on my chest, and he wailed, and my husband and I, cried happy tears. And my fragile arms shook with this miracle, I couldn’t believe I was at last holding in my arms.

***

 

Sometimes, even when I am so beyond tired…I can’t close my eyes. I lay on the bed and just stare at him. The wonder of him.

The wonder that he is here.

How did he come to us?

How did God form this masterpiece?

This masterpiece we had no idea would be coming to us at this time last year.

But he came. 

Not because we did anything to deserve him. Not because we proved our faith to God.

But because of God.

God gives good and perfect gifts.

He came like a gift. Undeserved. Unearned.

But gladly received with great joy.

Received with open arms. And hot and happy tears. And hearts exploding with joy. Our arms and our hearts stretch to wrap around you.

Welcome to the world, Jesse. You are a perfect gift.

And we thank God for giving you to us.

For you are from Him.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17


For more on the story behind our second miracle, Jesse, read these posts:

God Did It Again: Our Second Miracle, On the Way

When God Surprises You Big Time

To the Angels Without Wings

When You Want To Give Your Child A Sibling, But You Can’t

What Church Can’t Do For You

dead flower

“Mom, look!” she said in a panic.

“What?” I asked, to see what was the matter.

“My flower is DEAD!” she cried.

(It was.)

“Well…did you water it?” I asked.

“YES!” she cried. “I watered it at church!”

That part was true. She watered this flower. One time. At church. (Two months ago.)

She had planted this flower in a little pot at Sunday School, where they watered it. And then she brought it home.

The problem was: she hadn’t watered it since. 

This flower had lived (or died) next to my kitchen sink for the past few months, and never got any water–except from a few almost-empty water bottles that I happened to dump on it, before throwing them into the recycling bin.

“Honey,” I told her, “Flowers can only survive if you water them a  lot. Like…every day.”

She had a shocked look on her face. “But I watered it at church!”

“I know,” I said, “But you need to keep watering it, every day, if you want it to live.”

 

As we poured some water into the parched soil of  this half-dead flower, I suddenly realized:

I am no different than my daughter.

I do this all the time. 

My relationship with Christ is a lot like my daughter Selah’s flower.

It’s a daily thing that needs water.

It doesn’t matter that I watered it at church. 

It needs water today. Tomorrow. And every day after that.

Or, it starts to die.

This summer I had a group of friends over for 4 weeks. We got together for one purpose–it was to learn the simple art of meeting with Jesus.

For some of us, this was a brand new concept. For others, it was a lost art we had to rediscover.

After some honest discussion, and tears, we all realized that when we don’t spend time with Jesus, we feel just like that flower by my kitchen sink.

Parched.

Dry.

Thirsty.

(And ready to die.)

So for four weeks and beyond, we practiced. Meeting with Jesus. 

And do you know what we learned? It’s so simple. You don’t need to read a book about how to do it.

All you have to do is:

Get alone. (All by yourself.)

Get a Bible.

Get a journal.

And be somewhere quiet (or with soft worship music.)

And here’s what you do…even if it’s only 15 or 30 minutes…

You talk to Jesus. Whether you write, or speak out loud is up to you. But you talk to Him, as honestly as you can. It’s not fancy. He just wants you. Cuss if you have to. And just tell Him what you actually think, and actually feel.

Then you open your Bible and read it. And something incredible happens…He talks back to you. Sometimes it’s so simple. But He is always profound. And you write down what He says. And let it pierce you. And somehow in this process, your spirit encounters His Spirit.

Yes, the Living God, meets with you. (In your car, or in your bathroom, or in your living room..wherever you are.)

And He waters you. He waters your thirsty soul.

And He makes you alive.

Because He is alive.

Jesus Himself, invites you to do this,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28

My friends and I confessed in my living room this summer…that it’s so easy to ignore Him. 

It’s so easy to just scroll Facebook, or look through Pinterest…or numb ourselves with a hundred different ways.

When really all we need is just to meet with Jesus. 

And be watered. By Him. 

Your church can’t do this for you.

Your husband can’t do this for you.

Your friends can’t do this for you.

And Facebook…(sigh) can’t do this for you.

It’s something only you can do. 

Only you can drink Him in for yourself. 

No one will force you to do it. You can let it go dry. And just dump the end of a water bottle into it, every now and then. Or hope church is really good when you go.

You might still survive.

But you will feel parched, and thirsty, and dry.

All the time. 

It’s such a basic principle, and I often fail to remember it. But…

If you want something to grow—water it. 

Meet with Jesus. By yourself.

Drink Him in.

Jesus–the One, the only One who waters you.

And brings you back to life.

What If The Mountains You Face Aren’t Mountains At All?

A photo by Karsten Würth. unsplash.com/photos/b_8eErngWm4

I still remember the breathtaking view as we mounted the summit of the Continental Divide in Colorado. I had never seen real mountains before. (Just the kind we have in the East.) And my husband wanted to show me real mountains. I still remember, how massive they were, or how small I was in comparison. My head spun with the vertigo.

When my daughter Selah was just 2-years-old, I realized she didn’t know what a mountain was. Not a clue, actually. So, trying to be educational mommy, I googled some mountains and sat her up on my lap, “See these, these are mountains,” I told her. We looked at as many high-resolution photos online as we could. And I whispered, “Someday honey, I’ll show you real mountains.”

Later that week, as we drove to the grocery story, Selah began shouting from the backseat, “Look Mommy! Mountains! Mountains!”

“Where??” I asked, looking around.

She pointed stiffly out her window, “Right there, Mom!! Mountains!”

Then I saw what she was seeing…

It was a gravel yard.

Assorted types of gravel sat in big heaping piles, 20 or 30 feet off the ground.

“Mountains!” she shouted, raging with excitement.

I could not help but laugh.

“Oh honey,” I said. “Those aren’t mountains.”

“They just kind of look like mountains.”

I couldn’t help but think as I passed them on the way home, how they really did look like mountains.

To her.

Because she was so small, they looked big.

***

How many times in my life have I seen the mountains in front of me and been overcome with fear? Drained of courage–to face them. To cross them.

Sometimes the mountains just seem so big. So terrifying. And so solid.

But what if, when I am seeing mountains—God is seeing little piles of gravel?

What if He’s whispering, “Oh honey, that’s not a mountain.”

“Not for Me.”

What are the mountains that you face today?

 

Often the mountains (for me) are health-related. Is that lump cancerous? Does my blood count point to something life threatening?

Is the baby’s sonogram normal? What if he has a disease?

And we wait holding our breath for test results to come back.

Maybe you are waiting to hear about the diagnosis of someone you love.

Or maybe you are facing a mountain because of an illness or injury they are going through right now.

Our mountains can be financial.

Or relational. Maybe you just don’t know if your marriage, or your own flaws, or spouses flaws can ever change–or if God can redeem your brokenness into something beautiful again.

Mountains. Sometimes everywhere we look, we feel we are surrounded by mountains.

And the mountains we face seem big.

Solid.

And unmovable. 

But what if, just what if…that mountain that you face is not a mountain at all?

What if, it’s just a heap of gravel?

Because to God, that’s what it is.

Maybe, it looks like a mountain from where you are standing.

Maybe it looks impossible to face.

Impossible to cross.

But it’s not impossible for God–nothing is impossible for God. God is ABLE.

I love this story in Mark 9 where a father comes to Jesus and is distressed over his sick son–who has a demon, and convulses, and is harmed because of it.

This son has had this problem since he was a “small boy” the story says.

And it’s still happening as he’s getting older. He’s not “out-growing” it. He’s still convulsing, foaming at the mouth, and rigid. I can’t imagine how heart-wrenching it would be as a parent to watch your own son or daughter go through this. And not be able to do anything to help.

When this desperate father meets Jesus, he is already defeated. He already feels like this “mountain” will never go away. After all, he already went to Jesus’ disciples and they could not drive the demon out.

And when Jesus sees this, he says, “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” (Mark 9:19)

The boy’s father says to Jesus, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” (Mark 9:22-23)

Some versions say, “If you are able?” Some have exclamation points, “If you can!”

Do you hear the shock in Jesus’ voice here??

If I “can”?!

If I am “able”?!

The poor boys father, probably with tears in his eyes, exclaims, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (9:24)

And He does. Jesus drives out the demon, and restores the boy.

I love this story–because it’s so honest. On both sides.

The despair and agony of the father that his son cannot be healed.

And the unfiltered shock of Jesus, at their unbelief. As if He is saying, “Have you no clue Who I AM?”

But then, this loving exchange–where the father cries out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

And the way Jesus just crushes the mountain in front of them. So they can walk through it, like a pile of rubble.

Sometimes as we tremble, terrified of the mountains, we forget:

God is the maker of the mountains.

And He can form them.

And He can crush them.

Like gravel.

(“‘If I can’?” replied Jesus.”)

He is not like us.

We are small. And afraid.

But He. He is big. And strong.

And mighty.

He can do things no one else can do. 

He can heal things no one else can heal. 

He can change things no one else can change. 

If you are trembling, and afraid, like I so often am, I want you to listen to what God says about Himself,

“Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem?

Or have I no power to deliver?” Isaiah 50:2

 

Oh dear one, have you forgotten who God is?

Have you forgotten what God can do?

What are the mountains that you face?

I don’t doubt they look and feel impossible.

And maybe they are. For you.

But they are not for God.

 

His word says  what is impossible with men, is possible with God.

Because all things are possible with God.

Even that mountain you face today.

 

Sometimes we see mountains, and God sees little mounds of gravel.

“Oh honey, those aren’t mountains.”

“Not for Me.”

For Him it is a small thing. It is easy.

And I pray He demolishes those things you called “mountains” and shows us they were just piles of gravel.

Not because they weren’t difficult, or hard, or scary. But because He is so much bigger than those things that terrify us. So much stronger. And He is more solid than they are.

And maybe He’s asking today,

“Do you see Me as bigger than the mountains you face? Or smaller?”

“Do you see Me bigger than your fears? Or smaller?”

The answer to this question, defines the size of your mountains.

The answer to this question, either makes them appear like Everest, or like a gravel pile.

He is God. Hope in Him today.

The God who says, “‘If I can?'”

And, “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

And we cry with tears, and trembling, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

May He turn our mountains to rubble, and victoriously walk us through them. Because He is God. And He is able. And what is impossible for men, is possible with God. Who says…

image

“Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem?

Or have I no power to deliver?” Isaiah 50:2