Thursday, July 31, 2014

Beyond "Me"

It was the summer of 2001. I felt his tiny brown hand grasp mine and his little fingers twirl around my own. I looked down at his smudged face and dusty brown hair and smiled as he gazed up at me with a grin of his own. His name was Junior and he was my new pal. I was thousands of miles from my home and my eyes were now taking in the beauty of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

I looked down at my new little friend. Upon arriving at his local Church centered in one of the most dangerous and unsafe areas of the city, he was one of the first faces I met and I instantly loved this little boy with his big brown eyes that gleamed every time he gazed at you. Many little boys and girls in the neighborhood quickly won their way into my heart but Junior captured my heart and had it in his hands. Looking at him, I saw a little boy without a care in the world. I saw a young child unscarred and untainted, surrounded by those who would love to trampled him into the ground. He was in an area filled with gang activity and drug dealers, living among those who would fight to strip him of his childhood innocence as soon as they could catch him. Yet he was oblivious to all the pain and sin in the world and only wanted this - my affection. All he wanted was to befriend this American teenage girl. Something inside began to hurt as I looked at all the children gathered around the steps of a local shop. Both little boys and girls alike were always around hugging us, smiling at us, wanting our attention, our time and our love. Loving these little dirty rascals was a simple and easy to do. But inside me, there arose a deep hurt. And with every mission trip, the hurt only increased. 

You see, modern, American Christians think the world revolves around them. I can say this because I am an American Christian who has the comfort and ease so many of us here in the USA are blessed to have. We think God is incredibly pleased and that we are doing God a favor by going to Church or doing good deeds or living well. As much as I hate to admit it, we are self absorbed, haughty, and we definitely take grace for granted. If we could see ourselves in the horrible, sinful state we were in before the blood of Jesus washed us clean, I am convinced that we would be a very different people altogether.

I believe what this generation needs is a shot of serious, radiant transformation. Instead of running after worldly endeavors with all the gusto we have, we should be about changing lives, inspiring souls, and making an eternal difference for the Kingdom of Christ Jesus. The Gospel, the glory of the saving Redeemer, is far from dull and bland, and the merciful grace and the unconditional, massive love of our sinless Savior deserves more than a mere two hours a week. Love so rich and unworthily poured out upon us demands our every waking moment. Little Junior taught me that. A young boy in Brazil who forever changed my perspective.

It's not about us, friends.... it's about them.

If Jesus Christ be God and died for me,
then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.

— C.T. Studd

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Where Joy Is Wednesday #16 and a Link-Up

Welcome to
 Where Joy Is Wednesday!

Amy Carmichael wrote, "There have been times of late when I have had to hold on to one text with all my might: "It is required in stewards that a man may be found faithful." Praise God, it does not say "successful.

I'm reminded of Luke 16:10 when Jesus says, "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much..."

It is easy to feel like because we are not successful by the standards set around us, we are failures. If we don't have our names in bright lights or if we don't hold a top position at work; if we don't write a book or manage a popular blog; if we aren't gifted to preach or teach; if we aren't measured as "great" in the eyes of our world, then we are somehow less able to make an eternal difference. 

If this is you, forget what the world says, and remember what Jesus has said. He asks only for obedience and faithfulness. And if we are faithful in the tiniest things - the things that may not matter much in the eyes of others - then we will be faithful in much. Meditate on that today.... :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Where Joy Is Wednesday #15 and a Link-Up

Welcome to
 Where Joy Is Wednesday!

We are having such a cool summer this year! It's been strange to have spring-like weather in late July, but we have enjoyed not having the scorching heat. We have been keeping busy with canning, picking sunflowers, finding pumpkins (totally didn't know they could be ready this early!), getting ready for 3-K, and having lots of fun together! What have you been up to?

Lord willing, this coming Friday we will find out the gender of baby #3 and we are all really excited! Nathan's vote is for a boy. Selah just says "baby." ;) Hope you all have a marvelous rest of the week!

Friday, July 18, 2014

20 Weeks with Baby #3

I haven't given a pregnancy update, so, here I am - 20 weeks along with baby #3!

I was concerned about this pregnancy from the very beginning. I was exhausted with Nathan (I don't even remember my first trimester with him. I was asleep for three months) and I felt sick all.the.time with Selah. However, with this one, I haven't been as tired as I thought I would be, nor have I been as sick as I was with Selah. I'm thankful to God for giving me the grace to make it through what has always been the hardest trimester with relative ease. Some updates....

I'm feeling movement. By far, the greatest part of pregnancy is feeling those little kicks and nudges. Baby
is pretty much quiet for the most part, but I feel a little reminder every so often each day that he/she is alive and well and enjoying the coziness of my womb. I have to say, it's reassuring for me. For some reason, I felt like I might miscarry early on, but I'm so grateful to God for a healthy report at each doctor's visit and for, now, the movement I feel every day.

No weight gain yet. Totally fine with that, too. I feel as though I've gained 20 lbs, but I've actually gained only one pound. I'm not worried, though.

Morning sickness is history and my dizziness that I struggled with is more or less gone too. Now, I'm just dealing with headaches, which has been common in each of my pregnancies. I'm trying not to take any Tylenol unless I absolutely have to. Instead, I'm soaking my hands and feet in warm water, taking bubble baths with Lavender Essential Oils, and drinking lots and lots of water. Oh and I'm resting when my kiddos nap. Those things help. :)

No, we don't know the gender yet. BUT, Lord willing, we will know if this baby is a little boy or a little girl on the 25th, one week from now! To say I'm anxious is an understatement. As it stands, the highest vote is for a boy. We'll find out soon!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Where Joy Is Wednesday #14 and a Link-Up

Welcome to
 Where Joy Is Wednesday!

Lately, my days have consisted of canning tomatoes, apple pie filling, and strawberry fig jam. It's been a highlight of my summer since I married. 

This year, however, I'm also keeping busy writing, planning for another little one, gathering Nathan's 3K curriculum for the fall and, of course, running after these two. :)

I pray your day is filled with joy no matter what you're up to! :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Secret to a Fulfilled Life

When a couple is in love, they want to spend every waking moment with each other. They talk constantly. They share the details of their life with one another, and they are overjoyed to simply be a special part of each other’s life. 

Now for the tough question:

Does our heart delight in the Lord?

Marriage is only a reflection of the spiritual relationship God longs to have with us. Anything we could ever desire in an earthly relationship, we already have offered to us in the Lord. We naturally desire to be pursued, understood, taken care of, protected, and loved with a dependable love. These desires were created in us by God, but we are quick to doubt that He is able to fulfill every one of our desires completely.

Even the best marriages will still include moments of loneliness and heartache. The same basic struggles that singles have are often found in marriage too. Married women often admit to feeling alone and unfulfilled, even those that are financially secure with a thriving career. Why is that?

Just as God created us to long for love and peace, He also created a void within us that only He can fill.
The psalmist, David, wrote: Delight thyself also in the LORD: and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Psalm 37:4)

If you are familiar with that verse, I’m sure you have heard the commonly used paraphrase: Love the Lord and He will give you what you want.

That definition sounds appealing, especially when you are lonely and ready for a romance, but that is not at all what this Scripture is saying.

What does it mean to “delight” in the Lord? That’s pretty unusual terminology when the subject is spiritual. To delight in someone means you take great joy and pleasure in them. It means to be caught up with excitement and satisfaction with the one in whom you’re delighting in.

Simply loving the Lord does not mean that we will have an easy, comfortable life with material possessions and perfect relationships. If we are not ultimately content in the person of our Savior, we will never be content, even with an earthly relationship or with all the money in the world at our disposal. No amount of gifts, love letters, or tender expressions can fully satisfy us because we were created to delight, first, in Christ Jesus. The more we rejoice in Him and find our fulfillment in Him, the more our heart’s desires will merge with His. If we fall in love with Jesus, the cravings of our flesh and the longings for other, earthly things will diminish because our satisfaction is firmly rooted in the love of Jesus. It is only through this Heavenly romance that we can be fully fulfilled by our earthly spouse.

 (excerpted from my upcoming book)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Where Joy Is Wednesday #13 and a Link-Up

Welcome to
 Where Joy Is Wednesday!

Have you spent time with the Lord today? Make sure in the hustle of each morning to make time for Jesus. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pro-Life and on The Pill

photo credit

Before my husband and I married, I had it set in my mind that I wanted to wait at least a year or two before having children. My reasons made sense:
  • It would give us both time to adjust to marriage without the added stress and change of a baby.
  • It would allow me to keep my figure for a while longer.
  • It would give me continued freedom before the responsibility of children consumed my time.
  • It would let us build up our savings.
Reasons can always be found to justify not having children. But about two weeks into our marriage, however, we both felt it impressed on our heart to let God do what He wanted to do regarding our family. I got off the pill and, actually, assumed it would take months and months, if not a year, to get pregnant. I mean, some couples try for eons before it happens. Little did we know that in just two months, God would knit together a little boy in my womb.

After Nathan was born, Grant and I understood why God calls children a blessing. We were so in love with this little person and wanted to have another soon after. Because of a minor health issue, however, I was kind of forced to get back on the pill for a few months. Once things were cleared, I got off the pill and we began trying for another child. It took four months before Selah was conceived and we were overjoyed when we finally saw those two little pink lines!

Those of you who have followed this blog know the struggle I faced after Selah was born. PPD hit me hard and I became terrified of conceiving again. So much so that against my better judgement, I got back on the pill for the third time. Then something happened. You see, for years I had heard people say, "Let God determine the size of your family." and I was supportive of that. In essence, I completely agreed. I love my big family and I'm a fan of the Duggars. But I made excuses for my own fertility:
  • God also gives us a brain to make our choices.
  • If I have too many children, I'll only be a stressed out, overly tired woman.
  • God is bigger than birth control. I mean, some women can actually still get pregnant while on it...
That last reason was what led my husband and I to study oral contraception and how it really works. This is what we learned:
  1. Plan A: The pill tricks the body into thinking it's already pregnant so the body will not ovulate. (totally sounds unhealthy, eh?) This is called suppression of ovulation.
  2. Plan B: Many times, plan A does not work (they don't tell us this) and a thing called breakthrough ovulation occurs where the body ovulates anyway. If this happens, as it often does according to research, plan B comes into place where a barrier of thicker, cervical mucus is created between the sperm and the egg, preventing conception from happening.
  3. Plan C: The first two plans sound, at worst, unnatural, but there isn't really much of a danger, right? Now comes plan C. Just like breakthrough ovulation occurs quite frequently, the sperm and the egg can still meet, regardless of plan B. When the sperm and egg come together, life begins. At this point, the little baby goes to attach itself to the uterus. How does plan C work? The synthetic hormones in the pill create a shield over the uterus, preventing implantation. To put it bluntly, it blocks the life from its life source, thus suffocating the baby to death. At this point, a woman usually begins her cycle and many times, what is thought and believed to be a normal menstrual period is the body flushing out an aborted life. 


Learning the truth left us horrified and I immediately got off the pill. This time, for good. Fast forward to the present. Now I am 18 weeks pregnant with our third child. In December, I will have three children - 3 years old and under! Some call that irresponsible. Others call it lunacy. But I am so comforted by the words of God in Psalm 127 that calls children a blessing, a reward, and a heritage. Am I nervous? Yes. Overwhelmed? I am. But I also know that it wasn't simply our choice to be on or off birth control that this little one was conceived. Every life is created and ordained by God. Every conception is done by His will, not ours. Whether we like it or not, we really aren't in control of creating life. God is. And each life He creates has a purpose.

I want to encourage you today to spend time in prayer with the Lord, and to ask Him what you should do with your fertility, your family, and your future.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Where Joy Is Wednesday #12 and a Link-Up

Welcome to
 Where Joy Is Wednesday!

It's been a crazy few weeks. We have had two youth camps back-to-back, plus our week-long family vacation to Alabama! But now we are home and somewhat back into a normal routine. Today, I am busy cleaning the house and catching on laundry. I hope you have a blessed, warm, and sunny week!


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