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?”

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.”

Why I Really Need Jesus This Christmas

christmas

The whole house smelled like the sharp scent of Windex and furniture polish, mixed with something delicious baking in the oven, and the vacuum was always running. Mom gave us all a job to do, to get ready for their arrival. My grandparents.

As soon as I finished my chores, I would stand at the door and wait. I stood so close, my breath would appear on the cold glass. And I would draw smooth lines with my finger. And my heart would rise and fall with the passing of each car. Until finally, it came.

Their big cream colored Cadillac stopped in front of our house. And my heart leaped.

When you’re eight years old–you don’t wait for people to ring the doorbell. (Especially when you’ve been watching out the window for a half an hour.) And you don’t give them “courtesy time” get out the car. No. You run. You race down to greet them in your socks.

You nearly climb into their car before they can even climb out. And you cover them in hugs and kisses, and cling to them like a starfish, so they can barely walk.

Have you ever had that feeling of longing? Of waiting so long…it physically hurts?

(Click here to read about infertility and longing for a baby at Christmas.)

I’ve been thinking about expectation lately.

Maybe it’s because I’m expecting a baby a boy in less than four weeks. And I’m longing to meet him and touch his skin, and look into his face.

Or, maybe it’s because we just finished a very a ugly political season. And I’m watching rioting in the streets on my TV. And the world seems dark. And in need of a Savior.

Either way…I’m feeling this longing. This expectation. This need for Jesus. To be here.

So I’ve decided to celebrate Advent this year.

(Please on’t think I’m super spiritual…because I didn’t even know what “Advent” meant until a couple of weeks ago. I thought an Advent calendar was a paper calendar with chocolates inside.) (And it is, in many grocery stores.)

But I didn’t know Advent is so much more.

The word “Advent” actually means “coming.”

And I just found out that people celebrate the “season of Advent.”

The season of “coming.”

The season of “waiting for His coming.”

You  know how the sky grows darkest before dawn? How it seems so black, and then slowly it turns blue, like that deep, glowing blue, that gradually turns pale blue…and then the dawn breaks through? The light pierces the dark?

That’s Advent. Like watching the dark sky, and waiting for those first gentle rays of light.

Because the world is dark. And we are all waiting, quietly, desperately for Him. For Jesus. To come.

In years past, I guess I have “tried” to celebrate Advent. I tried to print something off Pinterest and force my 18 month old daughter to do the readings with me each night, while she screamed and ripped up the papers. I tried to force my husband to do this “tradition” with us, that I read was supposed to be so meaningful.

But since everyone hated it. (Including me.) It only lasted about a day.

(Maybe someday, we will figure out some wonderful Advent tradition that works for our family… )

But for now, I’m realizing: I need it.

Instead of trying to drag the family to do something I want to be “meaningful,” maybe I’m the one who needs to find something meaningful in this season.

I’m thirsty for it. For Him to show me who He is.

I feel Him prompting me to “behold” Him. I don’t really know how, but I feel like you can’t “behold” someone, or something in a two-minute rush (like I usually do). It takes some time.

So, I’m trying to learn how to behold Him, And His coming. And I’m celebrating the season of Advent this year. The season of darkness before the light, the season of waiting, and expectation, and longing so bad, it hurts.

And I’m celebrating by myself. Because I realize: I need Him. And until I am able to “behold” Him—I can’t help anyone else to do the same.

So I bought a book on Amazon, called “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp. And It’s a book all about Advent. A book about “His coming.”

I know Christmas will come either way. All the Black Friday Ads are coming in the mail, and the hustle and bustle will start us all racing to December 25. We will do gift exchanges, and parties, and try to make our homes warm and beautiful, and full of light.

But what if the preparations don’t need to be done so much outwardly?

What if the real preparations happen inwardly?

Maybe I need the light inside me this year?

Because there is something about preparing a place. Inside. Like the Christmas carol says, “Let every heart prepare Him room.”

When we would prepare our house for our grandparents to come, it wasn’t just about work. It was about anticipation. We could all feel it in the air. It was in the expectation of standing at the window, and watching for them.

I feel that Jesus is calling me to prepare a place for Him. Maybe I’m not the only one who is desperate for His light to pierce through?

Maybe He is calling you to prepare a place for Him this Christmas, too.

Maybe you will stand at the cold glass door, and wait for Him. And watch for Him, to come.

And when He comes…

When He comes…you won’t wait for Him to ring the door bell. Or to get out of the car.

You will run out in your socks to greet Him. You will run wildly, like the father ran to meet His prodigal son while he was still coming up the road. You will cling to him like a starfish, so he can barely walk.

When you see His light appear, you will fall down and weep before Him. You will behold Him.

And He will hold you, and He will not let you go.

And this “beholding” is what Christmas is all about.

Emmanuel. God is with us.

His Word says,

“Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1-2

If you feel the night is black right now, hold on. Christmas is coming.

For you.

Jesus is coming.

For you.

The night is long. But…

Your Light is coming.

Yes, He will be here soon.


For more encouragment about infertility, motherhood, or marriage follow Barren to Beautiful by entering your email address in the box on the right of this website. Or, “like” the Barren to Beautiful Facebook page, by clicking here. For more Christmas posts read “When All I Wanted For Christmas Was You,” or “Christmas Is For Desperate People.” 

10 Things Every Christian Will Be Tempted To Forget After The Election

usa

We will all wake up on November 9th and realize: it’s done. We will have a new president. (No matter how loved or hated.)

People will go around at night and yank up either all the Trump or Hillary signs from the cold wet dirt.

And people will freak out on Facebook. Either way. There will be rants, and memes, and hoards of nasty comments.

There may even be rioting in some places.

So what will you do, dear Christian?

The world will respond how the world will respond. But what about you?

You may not think that your response matters. You may think that the election is over, so you can wait four more years to try again.

But what you do after the election, and every day in between now and the next election—matters. 

It matters so much.

What matters now, is not who you voted for–what matters now is how you will live. 

As Christians, here are some things we will be tempted to forget. In fact, I think Satan would love us all to forget these 10 things. But they are the truth, and we can stand on them in the days and years to come:

1. God is not surprised (at all) about who “won” this election.

No one gets elected into office without permission from God. He holds the final authority over the authorities of our land.

Romans 13:1 “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

2. God is not anxious, worried, or depressed about who won this election. 

He isn’t in heaven wringing his hands, and neither should we. He knew before the foundations of the earth, who would govern our country at this time in history. And He’s not afraid of it. Why? Because He is God. And His purpose will stand. 

“He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.” Isaiah 42:4

He will not fail nor be discouraged. God has a plan, and He will carry it out. 

3. God’s Kingdom is not of this world. 

It would have been nice if when Jesus came to earth, He set up a perfect, flawless government system to keep us all in perfect peace–but He didn’t. That’s not why He came. He didn’t come to be a political figure. The Jews would have loved to see a Messiah that looked like a king, and brought a kingdom, and enforced it here on the earth. But that is not at all what Jesus did. When Jesus was arrested and brought to Pilate, he answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” John 18:36

He didn’t come up to set up a political power. But to unveil His Spiritual power. And to rescue us from our sin.

4. Our Savior is not (and never will be) from this world. 

No person in political power can save us. Even the best candidate will be sinful and flawed, and should not be seen as a “savior.” God’s Word specifically tells us, “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings who cannot save.” (Psalm 146:3)

Instead it says, to hope in God. 

“Blessed are those whose help is in the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—he remains faithful forever.” (Psalm 146:5-6)

No prince or president can save us from the wrath to come, only Jesus can do that.

5. Jesus is our ONLY hope. 

I don’t care who you voted for. One day, you will sit before the judgement seat of God. And in that day, only one person can stand at your defense. Only one person can cleanse you of every sin. Only one person can cover your nakedness and shame, and clothe you with His righteousness. Only one person can stand before God the Father in your defense, and and shout at the top of His lungs, “She is covered by my blood!” “She is mine!”

And that person is: Jesus Christ. 

Hope in Him. Hope only in Him. In this life, and the life to come.

6. God has specifically purposed you to be alive at this EXACT time in History. 

There is a reason you were not born a hundred years earlier, or a hundred years later. God specifically put you here on the earth, at this time in history, for His divine purpose. 

His Word says,  “All the days ordained for me have been written in His book, before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)

He chose you to be alive at this time in America, under this president, with these laws (or lack thereof), and these people. Why? Because He has a purpose for you right here, and right now. You can complain about our culture, or you can step into it. Because you are here for such a time as this.

7. Real “religious freedom” comes from God, not governments. 

Many Christians are terrified of losing our “religious freedom.” And I know it can be a scary thing, but when Jesus set up His Church on the earth, He said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

So whether we are meeting freely in the public square, or secretly in a dark corner of someone’s basement…God’s kingdom will prevail. Let’s not forget that when God’s people were prisoners in Egypt–He sent plagues and split the sea to rescue them. When Paul and Silas were bound in prison–He sent an earthquake to set them free. And how many times did He send angel armies to war on His behalf?

Has God ever been bound by the laws or threats of man?

Perilous times may come. But not our government, nor ISIS, nor even the gates of hell will prevail against His Church, His Bride.

8. Jesus didn’t leave us as orphans. The Holy Spirit is alive and active on the earth. 

The world cannot see Him or recieve Him, but “you know Him, for He dwells with you, and will be in you.” (See John 14:16-18) Jesus promised He would not leave us as orphans, but that He would come to us through His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is here to guide us, comfort us, convict us, and fill us with supernatural power to bring glory to God.

9. Laws don’t change people’s hearts. Only Jesus does. 

I wish we had laws that kept everyone peaceful and kind. But we don’t. We can get really upset when laws change. But more laws and better laws don’t actually change people. That was what the Pharisees wanted. They kept dragging out these “sinners” in front of Jesus and wanted Jesus to tell them what the “law says.” (Like the woman caught in adultery.) They wanted Jesus to condemn these “law-breaking” sinners. But Jesus knew the law couldn’t save anyone. That’s why He always spoke to the heart of a person.

As Christians, we can wish the “laws” of our land took care of people’s morals or prevented sin. (And I’m not saying we shouldn’t fight for laws that will prevent evil or innocent lives. But we have to realize that there’s more to it than that. )

Personally, I wish we had more laws against abortion. But I can’t just hope the “law” takes care of it. If I really love babies, then I need to get involved in the lives of broken women. I can see women in difficult situations and have compassion on them. I can get involved with counseling at the Women’s Care center. I can become friends with teen girls. I can do foster care, and take in a baby whose mom decided not to abort, even when it got really hard. I can rejoice with pregnant teens, and throw them baby showers, and financially support them.

There are a thousand things we can do as Christians in between elections to make a real difference in the issues we claim to care about.

It’s easier when checking a box on a ballot takes care of it. But sometimes, most times, it doesn’t.

So, this is our moment to wake up. And step up. Which leads me to the last point..

10. Love is the most powerful weapon we have. 

The world sees Christ not in our angry political banter on Facebook. But in the loving, gentle, compassion of Christians who are willing to get low, to get dirty, to become completely humble, and listen to a world that is very much hurting.

This is so convicting for me. Because the call to love people and really see people the way Christ loves and sees people–is one of the most risky and wild businesses I could ever get involved in.

Because it means we get low with people caught in adultery, and draw in the dirt, like Jesus. And we share meals with thieves, and touch people who no one else will touch.

We aren’t called to hide from the darkness.

We are called to live in it, and be the light.

We are called to invade the darkness with light.

We are called to stand with Jesus. The One true King.

Who is coming back.

For, in just a little while, He will come. He will stand upon the earth, and all the armies of heaven will come riding in behind Him.

And when He comes, I pray He finds us bringing good news to the poor, and binding up the brokenhearted, and comforting those who mourn. I pray He finds us giving beauty, instead of ashes, to a burning world. For we are all in need of His rescue.

And He will come.

In this world we will have trouble, but He has overcome the world. So don’t grow weary, or lose heart.

The Spirit of the Lord is on you.

For such a  time as this.

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.

5 Officers Killed In Dallas And Truth For Your Soul

dallas officers

I turned on the TV this morning to find a kid show to watch for my daughter. But I didn’t leave the channel. “CBS Live Report: 5 Officers Shot and Killed in Dallas.”

My heart sunk. My eyes widened and I stared, as the TV showed nightmarish scenes of these brave officers who were led into an ambush, and shot. And killed.

The screen’s red and blue lights shone, and they blurred out the officers dead bodies in between their police cars.

Then the whole screen blurred, with my tears. My heart is grieved over this. Over men trying to protect us. Over men whose lives were stolen away, in a moment. Over their wives, and kids, and friends, whose loved ones were snatched away by wicked people.

“These weren’t like other attacks,” the officer they were interviewing said, “This was a skilled, military-style ambush.”

The female newscaster then said, so accurately, “It seems like every day many Americans wake up, not sure what tragedy they are going to find, that’s even worse than the day before.”

“What do you make of it?” she asked the officer being interviewed.

“Well, to be honest, our culture is changing,” he said, “People are not satisfied with anything any more. They are impatient. Nothing is good enough for anyone. They are more callous and rude. They take matters into their own hands. And with the right kind of weapons they’re very dangerous.”

“It seems that the anger of the American people is at a tipping point,” she said.

“What can law makers do to stop this from happening?”

Law makers??

What can law makers do?!

I wanted to pick my TV off my wall and shake it.

Nothing. 

How I wish “lawmakers” could change it somehow.

The problem isn’t the laws. It’s the people.

There is no law that can stop this. You know why?

The problem is in the heart. 

In all of our hearts.

 

And that’s the truth that our culture refuses to hear.

Our culture: that believes we are all right in our own eyes. 

And we preach tolerance–because everyone is okay.”

No. I’m sick of it.

We are not okay.

I am ready to scream from the rooftops,

“We are not okay! Look around! We are not okay!”

Let God be true and every man a liar.

The words the officer said began to ring louder and louder in my ears.

“Our culture is changing.

People are angry.

No one is satisfied. 

We’re getting worse.

People are more rude than before.”

And just like that the Holy Spirit reminded me of a passage in Scripture, where God utters these very words. It’s in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:

 

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Is this not our culture? The description here could not be more accurate.

I don’t say this as an innocent person. I say this as a sinner. Who is guilty of most of what is on this list. We all are.

But I don’t share this to shame you. I say this to encourage your spirit.

When you see what’s happening on TV, and all around you–you need something solid to stand on.

You need to find comfort. And it’s found not in how many weapons you have, so you can hunker down and build a bunker for when it all goes down.

It simply comes down to one weapon. 

You either have it, or you don’t.

But you sure as hell, better get it. Because when hell breaks loose–you are going to need it. 

Here is the weapon: the Sword of the Spirit.

God’s Word.

You can laugh. You can mock it.

But you can’t live without it. 

Hell is coming for you. Whether it’s through the hands of terrorists…or simply through the selfish desires in your own soul, that make you want to love pleasure more than God.

Do you have a weapon?

Do you know how to wield it?

You need to learn. I need to learn. 

Today, drop what you are doing. Get your sword out. Open God’s Word. And if you don’t understand it, learn from someone skilled in it. As if your life depended on it.

Because it does. 

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

That passage in 2 Timothy, the one that says how our culture is going from bad to worse–there is an encouragement there for believers. Here is what it says,

“But evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:13-15

It’s not a joke. The thing we are told to stand on is: God’s Word.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16

You wan to be equipped for every good work?

I don’t care how Sunday School-ish it sounds: read God’s Word. 

Devour it. Hide it away in your heart. Soak in it. Let it penetrate your soul.

And live it.

It’s the only way.

We are a people, who are not okay. 

Every. Day. We need reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness. So that we may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

I don’t know what bombs or bullets may come against me.

But we aren’t warned in God’s word about bombs and bullets. We are warned about “principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12-13

Maybe I will get shot in a movie theater. Or maybe I will be the victim in some terrorist invasion. Who knows? The way our culture is going, the odds are going up every day. But however I die–is not up to me. It’s up to God.

But how I live–that is up to me.

Every day it’s up to me.

And I live in a culture that is slowly, or quickly, killing itself. People have no hope, no God, and desire pleasure, always, more than God. And it pulls me down with it. Every day is like trying to crawl out of quicksand. But we are not called to simply try to “survive.” We are called to so much more in Jesus Christ. We are called to stand up. To play a part in Jesus’s rescue mission in this world. Because our lives are not about us, they are about Him.

Our lives are not about bunkering down in our little kingdoms, they are about wildly advancing His Kingdom. 

They are about letting Heaven invade earth. 

So, we don’t have to hide, we have to stand. We have to stand and not deny God’s power. 

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” Ephesians 6:14-18

It’s not that our world has too many weapons. It’s that we don’t have the right kind of weapons. 

Without the weapons of the  Spirit–we fight this battle like a naked man. 

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10

 

 

Put your armor on. And do not deny His power.

We don’t need more lawmakers.

We need Jesus. We need heaven to invade earth.

For His is the Kingdom,

the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.

Photo credit: CNN.com

To the Mama Fleeing Terror Tonight

mama

We were sleeping over at my parents. All three of us in the little guest room. My husband and I were in the full-size bed, and my daughter, age 3, was in the Pack n’ Play close beside.

I woke up to her crying in her sleep. I reached down and rubbed her back, hoping she wouldn’t wake the whole house, until she fell back asleep.

But a few hours later, she was crying again. Frustrated, I tried to quiet her. But this time when I reached down to touch her, I felt she was wet.

Soaked really.

I felt around, and realized: she had wet the bed. And it must have been hours ago–because it was cold.

“Oh, baby, come here,” I whispered in the dark.

I lifted her out, she wimpered. I laid her down on our bed. Peeled her wet underwear off from her body. And went to the hall closet to grab towels.

I dried her off. Found some clean, dry Minnie-Mouse underwear in her bag. And laid her on a towel between Brandon and I.

She fell instantly to sleep.

And after I did my best (3:30 A.M.) job of cleaning up the Pack n’ Play, and carrying all the pee-soaked blankets, towels, and undies to the wash–I finally crawled back in beside her.

As I lay there, all three of us cramped in this little bed–my mind began to wander. I’m not even sure why, but I began to think of  the mamas in the world fleeing terror tonight.

Just two summers ago, I wrote a post about Christians fleeing from ISIS in the Middle East. The husbands and children were being beheaded in parks. The wives and daughters were being raped and murdered.

And I remember how my heart wrenched each time I thought about their reality.

And what happened? Do I think it just stopped? Do I think it’s all better now?

Just because I don’t hear about it on the news, or see it on TV doesn’t mean this horrific reality of my sisters in Christ across the ocean has gone away.

Just because all my T.V. shows me is stupid clips of Donald Trump, and the Cavs winning the Finals, and the World Cup, and a thousand other forms of entertainment–doesn’t mean that my sisters across the ocean are suddenly okay.

It just means no one is talking about them.

But just lean in for one moment with me. And remember the least of these that no one is talking about…

Our sisters across the ocean, are running for their lives tonight.

Their homes have been invaded and destroyed.

Their husbands have been killed.

Don’t just think of the masses. Picture one woman.

Picture her olive skin. Her dark hair. Her deep brown eyes.

And her babies are hungry, and there is no consoling them.

She doesn’t have the luxury of scrolling Pinterest, and pinning ideas for DIY projects in her home. She has no home. She has no nursery for her babies. She is running every day, from place to place.

She doesn’t have the stress of a busy summer schedule, or checking things off a fun bucket list, or packing for vacation. She is living on the run–to survive.

She isn’t worried about her clothes being trendy–all she has is the clothes on her back.

She doesn’t complain about making a meal plan or grocery shopping–how she would love that luxury! She is thankful to even find any food at all. Any clean water, that will sustain her and her babies another day.

And when her child wets the bed in the night–she has no clean, dry clothes to put her in. She has no linen closet full of white, fluffy towels.

She has nothing.

She peels off the wet underwear, and hangs them to dry. She takes off her own clothes to wrap her child in. And waits for morning to come.

To the Mama Fleeing Terror Tonight,

I never think about you. But tonight when my daughter woke up soaked in pee, I did think about you.

I thought about you tonight, as I lay next to her, until a hot tear rolled into my pillow.

I thought about you as I looked over and saw my daughter and husband, sweetly sleeping in safety. Without threats, or danger, or gunshots, or bombs in the distance.

Where are you tonight?

And what are feeling right now?

I just want you to know, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I forget about you.

I’m sorry that I don’t pray for you, or even think of you.

I’m sorry that I complain. In all my luxury, I complain. And grumble. When my internet doesn’t work. And when I have to grocery shop. And when I say, “I have nothing to wear.” I speak like a fool when I say that.

I know this isn’t much.

But here in America, I am dreaming of you tonight.

Because you are one of “the least of these,” that Jesus loved so dearly.

I wish you were here. That I could share my clothes, and my blankets, and my house, and my food. I wish I could wash your little girls pee-soaked underwear for you. And you dry clean clothes for her.

But I can’t.

But this is what I can do:

I can remember you.

I can pray for you.

I don’t know your name tonight, but God does. And He sees you running.

And I can ask Him, to show me, and convict me, and lead me in real, practical ways–that one day I can help you.

And something else I can do.

I can stop complaining and acting like I deserve all the luxuries I have. And next time I want to complain about something so “First World”, even as the words form in my mouth–may the Holy Spirit convict me, and remind me of you.

May all my foolish grumbling, over Pinterest, and Target, and H&M, be replaced with prayers for you, in your suffering, my sweet sister in Christ.

My sister, I love you tonight. Here in my safe bed.

I am praying for you. I have to believe that it effects you somehow. That it protects your babies. And helps you sleep tonight.

I don’t know if I will ever be in your shoes. But I hope if I ever am. That my sisters across the ocean, will think of me. And pray for me. And my babies.

After all, this is what God tells us to do.

“Resist him, [the devil] standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:9

We are called to pray for each other.

Your language my be different than mine. Your skin may be different than mine.

But we have the same blood.

The precious blood of Jesus Christ, that cleanses us from all unrighteousness. That washes us. Restores us. And makes us whole.

And one day, we will sit down together at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. As true sisters.

I am praying the angels surround you tonight. And the Spirit comes and speaks into your ears, all the words you need to hear. Because you are a beautiful, precious jewel.

You don’t deserve to live in a dump, you deserve a palace, and right now, at this moment, Jesus is preparing one for you.

You don’t deserve to wear stiff, dirty, thread-bare clothes–and one day Jesus will clothe you in robes of white.

You don’t deserve not to shower or bathe–but one day Jesus will wash you, and cleanse you, and heal you.

And on that day, when you finally get to go “home,” the real “home” you have longed for so badly and with tears, Jesus will bind up your every wound, and kiss away every tear. Until the memory of anything painful, is completely vanished.

And His face will shine like the sun. And never will you see anything so bright, or feel anything so warm–as His face smiling into yours.

And for every painful tear, will flow a thousand happy ones.

That’s where I will find you.

In the place of His rescue.

But until then, stay strong sister. Do not lose heart. Do not lose hope.

For “the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11

When Housework Gets The Best of You

houseworkNo one saw me do it. But yesterday, in my bedroom, I rolled up a pair of my husband’s khaki work pants, belt still in the belt loops, and chucked them against the wall.

I was angry.

Not at him. I was angry at all this housework.

It just kept coming.

At that moment, in my bedroom, I had already folded one basket of clothes, and two more baskets lay in a giant heap on our bed, waiting to be folded. (The socks are still in a basket up there right now, as we speak.)

But for some reason, yesterday, I felt like the housework was never-ending.

We had just gotten back from a trip, so there was a lot more laundry than usual.

But, have you ever had that feeling you are running around from room to room trying to pick everything up, and make it look clean–but somehow, even though you do this all day long–your house still looks messy?!

I was trying hard.

But I was losing it.

I cleaned the bathroom, I cleaned the kitchen, I picked up all the toys down-stairs, and ran them upstairs. Somehow, the toys kept coming back downstairs. (This happened about 5 times.) I made a good dinner for my family. I cleaned up from the dinner. I loaded and unloaded, and reloaded the dishwasher. And then there was the laundry–which by that point, I was chucking clothes at the wall…like a crazy person.

And I did it all with a big, stinky attitude, that cried, “Look at what I’m doing!” “Look at how much I’m serving you!”

Sometimes, housework gets the best me.

But this morning, in the quiet of the house, (my semi-clean, semi-messy) house, I felt the Spirit’s gentle prompting:

“If you can’t serve your husband, or your daughter, who are seen, how can you serve God, who is unseen?”

I quickly remembered throwing the pants at the wall. And my heart was pierced.

I turned to the Scripture that spoke about this. And read, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” 1 John 4:20

I want to know God’s will. I want to share the gospel. I want to do ministry for the Kingdom of God. I want to change my community. I want to do all these great things. But then the Spirit whispers,

“But what about this?

What about this very small thing?

For the ones who you do see? Right in front of you?”

I forget what a priviledge it is to even be physically able enough–to do a few household chores. To get to make my home a refuge and a safe place, for a husband that faces the world each day, and provides so much for me, and a fragile daughter who needs my love and protection.

Who needs me to clean the tub, and fold her freshly washed, Snuggle-scented little 3T-size shirts. And the crumbs swept off the kitchen floor. And clean sippy cups.

And a husband who needs my hands to make meals, vaccuum the carpets, and open the windows, and let some air in this place. And make the bed, so he can fall into it after a long day at work. And who also needs my arms open wide, ready to embrace him. To love him.

(And not throw his pants at the wall.)

I don’t need a housekeeper. Or a nanny. 

I need a new heart.

I need to exchange this heart of stone, for one of flesh. I need Christ to come lead me, come show me how to be tender, and kind, and willing to bend lower and lower still.

When I start feeling like, “Look at how much I am serving my family!” It’s usually because I’ve lost sight of how much my family serves me–all the time. I become blind to all the rich provisions and sacrifice my husband makes for me–daily and constantly–and without complaint. I forget how much joy and life and laughter my daughter brings to me. I forget what life would be like without her, or him in it.

Maybe my attitude needs to change from, “Look how much I am serving them!” To, “Look how much they are serving me!”

Because they are, all the time.

On our better days, my daughter and I play “Cinderella.” (Since we’re both obsessed with the new movie.) And she becomes my little helper with the chores. I call her “Gus Gus,” (like the mouse,) and she calls me, “Cinderellie.”

She stands on a stool next to the washer, and I hand her the dirty clothes, which she puts in, piece by piece. Sock by sock. (It takes awhile.) Then, I let her dump in the cups of detergent, and the creamy blue Snuggle. And with shaky hands, and huge smile, she does it. She’s so happy to get to do it. 

She’s so happy just to help me do something. 

And she begs me–to let her pull the warm dry clothes out of the dryer. And when I do, she looks at me and says, “Thanks Cinderellie!” Which I can’t help but smile at.

When I bring the baskets of clothes upstairs, and dump them on the living room floor. She runs and jumps in them like they are a big pile of leaves–and she laughs, rolling around in them. And I can’t help but laugh with her.

And I’m happy. Here. Doing just this simple thing.

With her. And for her.

She’s teaching me–what joy looks like.

She’s teaching me that serving someone can be fun.

Housekeeping doesn’t have to get the better of us.

It can instead, bring out the better in us. It can bring out Christ in us.

If we choose to let it.

 

It can bring out moments of joy, because your daughter is jumping in the clothes like a pile of leaves, and calling you “Cinderellie,” and giggling the whole time, like it’s the best place on earth. Because to her, it is the best place.

Or, you can do it all by yourself. With a bad attitude. You can run around from room to room and try to make it look like no one lives in your house. And you can chuck clothes at the wall. And think about how much you’re serving everyone. And forget how much they are serving you and loving you. All the time.

You can say about your chores, “I have to do this.”

Or, “I get to do this.”

If I can’t love and serve these ones here with me, who are seen, how can I love and serve God, who is unseen?

Don’t let housework get the best of you. Don’t let it steal your soul. Or your tenderness.

Be like Christ. Who joyfully lays Himself low, to serve and to love. And this laying low and  serving and loving–gives life to people.

 

Don’t let housework get the best of you.

But do let your family get the best of you. 

The part that laughs. That scoops up the crushed Cheerios off the carpet. That lets the kids jump into the pile of clothes. And who asks God for help when she feels she can’t give any more. And who asks God for help when she forgets how much she’s been given. 

And who asks God for help when she struggles to love and serve her family–who is seen.

For the God who is unseen, sees you. And loves you. 

And He sees it all. He is gracious, and kind, and tender. He pours out His love for you, He lays Himself low for you.

And no one can love, truly love, without Him leading the way.

And He will teach you to love the ones who are seen. As He shows you the love, of the One who is unseen.

“For we love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

I pray you know His love. I pray I know it. Because without it–we have nothing. Just clanging gongs and cymbals. Just rolled up pants smacking against the wall. But with it–with His love–we have the power to give life in our homes, to move mountains, to part seas, and to make a way–for God to come through. In our living rooms, and kitchens, and bedrooms.

For the One who is unseen, can be quietly seen, in us.

When we love.

Don’t Lose Sight Of Your Lover

crowd

We were in New York City when I lost sight of him. My husband–the fast walker. The only one who knew the way through the crowded streets. The only who knew how to get where we were going. He was only my boyfriend at the time–and you’d think as in crazy love as I was–I would have kept an eye on him.

But I didn’t.

I looked around at all the glowing billboards, and stores, and people. I could see him ahead of me. I was keeping track of him from a distance. He was just a couple people ahead of me.
And then, he was gone.

I didn’t see him anywhere. His friends, who were also following him, caught up to me, and asked where he was. “I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t see him.”

This was before cell phones–and we searched for him. We moved awkwardly through the crowd, me and five others. Until we finally found him, waiting for us underground, in the subway. “Where did you go?” he asked, clearly waiting for us to come stumbling in.

And it’s like that with Jesus, too.

We think we can follow at a distance. We think if we keep an eye on Him–we can get to wherever it is we want to go.
But then we look up, and He’s gone.

And we have no idea where to go.

We get callous and and all we care about is the “plan.” When all along, it’s the relationship that mattered. It’s the relationship that would have kept us in the plan.

My friend Adam Frano says, “We have to come to a place where we trust God’s character, more than His plan.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of trying to follow Jesus at a distance. Because these streets are crowded. And loud.
And I’m lost. Without Him.

I want to follow Jesus so closely, I am walking right in His steps. I want to walk so close, that when the wind blows, the mantle of His robe gently hits me in the face. I want to be so close I feel His breath on my cheek. That I can hear His voice when He is softly speaking. And not only when He is shouting. Or rescueing me from peril.

Jesus wants to be my Lover, not my tour guide.

My heart is pierced today over this. Because I’ve tried to make Him a tour guide–and I’m lost.

If you too have lost sight of Him…

Maybe today He is waiting for you in the subway.

Maybe when you find Him, He will say, “Where did you go?”
But when you do find Him–slip your hand into His.

And do not let go.

Let your pulse beat with His. Let your feet move with His.
Jesus is on the move. Move with Him. He’s going somewhere today.

Go with Him.

It’s all I want. I pray, it’s all you want, too.
There is nothing better you could do today–then to lock hands with Jesus. To lock your eyes on Jesus. The Lover of your soul.

The streets are crowded today.

Stay with Him.

When Sirens Sound Like Cries

earth cries

I hear her crying. But find her sound asleep in her crib.

It was the sirens.

Outside.

We live in the city now,

and they are so frequent.

They blend.

The sounds.

Only young mothers can hear

how human they are,

the sirens,

like a voice,

crying out,

in the night.

 

Only young mothers can feel

the tension,

Of the sirens,

Sirens that make us catch our breath

until it passes. And quiets.

And we can breathe again.

 

Somehow when we became moms,

God gave us an ear for distress,

A keen sense of unrest,

Wherever it may be.

 

He gave us power within,

To listen and mend,

The fragile ones,

when they cry

for us.

 

I still pause when I hear it,

the sirens.

Is it her?

No. She’s here. She’s safe.

 

But many tonight, are not.

 

And when I hear the sirens,

it’s the earth’s cry.

Like a newborn.

Not able to find comfort.

And calling out for it.

Again, and again.

 

The earth groans and waits.

And cries.

The sirens keep on crying.

For some soothing.

For a Savior.

 

And sometimes only a young mother can hear it.

Sometimes only a young mother can feel it.

When the earth cries.

 

And sometimes only a young mother

Can soothe it.

 

He said He’s coming back.

But He didn’t say when.

And until He comes again,

Young mothers:

Listen for the cry.

Of the sirens.

You will know it when you hear it.

 

In that day,

Lean in and see with His eyes,

 

Be the soother of the cries.

The singer of the lullabies.

The wiper of the tears.

The quieter of fears.

Because you are a mom.

 

You are a mom and you have soothing powers. 

And your children have taught you well,

To know what a cry sounds like.

 

And maybe our world needs more police men,

And more politicians,

And more power.

But maybe the world also needs more

mothers.

 

If you are a mom,

Maybe you will be a mom to more,

than in your care.

Maybe you will be a mom to orphan children,

everywhere.

Maybe young, and maybe old,

Jesus’ story has to be told,

by mothers.

 

All you have to do is look around, and

Everywhere,

you hear the sound.

Of sirens.

 

And cries.