Hope in His Promise

 

DSC03845

 

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:45, NIV)

This past weekend, we celebrated our firstborn’s fourth birthday.  And, yes, this mama was quite emotional.

You see, our son is no ordinary child.  I’m sure most parents feel this way about their children, and rightfully so.

In our case, Nicholas is a promised fulfilled.  He is a special reminder to me and my husband that God certainly does keep his promises.

If you’re new to the blog, my husband and I experienced a miscarriage when we first tried to have a child.  The months that followed brought us face to face with different stages of grief and I, personally, dealt with crippling anxiety like never before.

But, there was one day when God spoke a promise.

I will never forget that day.  After months of anxiety and panic attacks, and not thinking clearly, I felt a tug on my heart and knew it was God’s presence.

My husband and I were driving home after serving all day at church on a Sunday.  My husband pulled the car into a parking spot in front of our apartment building, and for some reason I kept feeling this tug on my heart.  I turned to my husband and said, “I think we’re going to get pregnant again, and it’s going to be soon.”  After going through what we went through I was surprised I was speaking those words and actually believing them.  To my surprise, my husband looked at me and said, “I feel the same way.”

About a month later, on the very same weekend I was scheduled to deliver our miscarried baby, my husband and I found out we were expecting.  On the weekend where I assumed we’d be mourning, we were rejoicing.  I thought I was going to be afraid, or nervous, or anxious at the news for fear of losing another child.  But instead joy, peace, and hope filled my heart.  Fear had lost.  Hope had won.

So, when I look at our boy, I remember God’s promise.  I remember the victory.  I remember His faithfulness.  And, hope rises within me.

There is hope in His promises.

If you’re waiting for a promise to be fulfilled, let this blog fill you with hope today.  Blessed are you who believe that the Lord would fulfill His promises to you!

I love this song by Elevation Worship called “Your Promises.”  I pray it blesses you!

 

Advertisements
Posted in Christian, Couples, Devotional, Encouragement, Hope, Miscarriage, Stay-at-home mom, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Punch Drunk

“Punch drunk.”

Those were the words my dear friend used to describe how I felt. She had called to see how I was doing after visiting a series of doctors to no avail. Within a one-week span I had experienced sudden swelling, bad bruising, and numbness in the center of my middle finger. After going to the ER, visiting my primary doctor, and seeing four specialists in different fields, no one could explain what was wrong.

This, unfortunately, was just one of the many “punches” our family had experienced over the course of a one-year span.

During my second pregnancy, about two weeks before my scheduled C-section, me and my family were walking through the mall on a regular, casual Saturday, when my husband’s tongue all of sudden became heavy and his speech became slurred. I got behind the wheel with my big belly and rushed us straight to the hospital. After a two-day hospital stay, my husband was placed on medication and sent home.

Two weeks after our mall incident, I gave birth to our second son, Silas, who was just perfect. But, I, on the other hand, had some complications. I had developed a lot of scar tissue from my first C-section, which had to be removed. The removal lasted more than anticipated and I lost more blood than was planned. I was left with stitching on multiple organs, and so weak that I had to be placed on bed rest for three consecutive weeks.

Four days after his birth, our newborn son accidentally fell out of his baby carrier and had to be taken to the hospital for observation.

In the weeks and months to follow, my husband had two more visits to the ER, several follow up appointments with specialists, special lab work and medical exams done.

In the midst of all that, we were in the early stages of a six-month long fight with our health insurance carrier, which denied my husband’s hospital stay and was going to require us to pay 100% for the expense.

My husband’s health improved and the issues with our health insurance carrier were resolved, but then the medical bills started rolling in. It was just one major hit after another on our finances.

During a season where we thought we were going to be saving monies to purchase property of our own, we were spending thousands of dollars on medical bills.

And now, my finger was swelling.

Hundreds of dollars spent on co-pays and exams, and still there was no explanation.

I know there are many other worst things we could have been facing. And, our situations were nothing in comparison to what others face day in and day out. But, we just felt so struck down, squeezed, and stretched.

We were Punch Drunk.

My friend had described it best.

According to the urban dictionary, the boxing term is used when a boxer is hit so many times by his opponent that “his disorientation is described as and similar to being drunk.”1

There’s no breathing room. It’s one hit after another. And, there’s no opportunity for a response or a counter punch.

You’re “punch drunk.” You’re under some type of influence. It’s like you cannot focus. You cannot think soberly. You cannot see clearly. And, you begin to question.

We definitely began to question.

Does God really see? Is God really going to come through? Did I commit some kind of sin that has blocked my access to God?

We were so confused and uncertain about what God was doing. Things just didn’t make sense.

I mean, we maintain ourselves pretty healthy.

We give tithes and offerings unto the Lord the way the Bible instructs. I can honestly say that’s never been a struggle for us.

We love God with all our hearts and we seek to put Him first in our lives.

So then, why were all these things happening? Why all the punches?

During that season, I decided to take a closer look at the life of Job, who the Bible says was “…blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). But, the bible states that for whatever reason, God allowed Satan to attack Job—Satan threw a few punches so to speak.

One day Job is visited by four messengers all bearing bad news—and I mean like really, really, bad news. Devastation came upon his family, his livestock, what he had worked so hard for, and even upon his own body.

The bible says, “While he (the messenger) was still speaking, another messenger came…” (Job 1:17).

Job didn’t even have a chance. Bad news came one hit after another.

Though the bible states that Job lived an upright life, even Job began to question if he had done anything wrong (Job 7:20). He was punch drunk. He was confused. He was uncertain of what was taking place.

So much so, that Job felt like his hope had been uprooted like a tree (Job 19:10). He felt like he cried out to God, but God was not answering (Job 30:20).

Punch Drunk.

Hopeless.

Weary.

Fatigued.

What do we do when we’re Punch Drunk?

What do you do when you pray and it feels like no answer or reprieve is on the way?

Trust.

Trust in the One who holds you in the palm of His hands.

Trust in the One who fights for you when you have no more fight left.

Trust in the One who works all things out for the good.

I recently heard a sermon by Pastor Craig Groeschel of Life Church called, “When God Doesn’t Make Sense.” During the sermon, Pastor Craig encouraged listeners to trust in God’s purpose even when life doesn’t make sense. He shared, “We don’t have to understand or like the plan to trust in God’s purpose.”

Pastor Craig described a moment when even Jesus’ prayer was answered by silence—when he was on the cross and cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). There was no answer from heaven while Jesus hung on the cross and died. As Pastor Craig shared, “Just because God is silent doesn’t mean that God is absent. He’s still good. He’s still doing something.”2

In Job’s case, he questioned what he was going through, but never did he denounce God or his belief in Him.

And, at the end of a very horrible season, the bible states that, “…the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10). “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part” (Job 42:12).

In our case, my husband and I sent our final payment for all those hospital bills last month. I guess you can say we ended the year with a bang (:)). At the payment of that final bill, it felt like the word DONE was spoken over our season of punches. It’s finished. It’s over.

At the start of this New Year, I felt the Lord impress this verse on my heart:

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19).

We’re believing God for that NEW thing this year. And, we’ve already begun to see His provision in just the few weeks of this New Year.

We’re believing that God is going to restore and bless like never before—not because we deserve it, but simply because we are His children.

And, as for a place of our own? When God does it, I’ll be sure to share the news!  🙂

 

  1. “Punch Drunk.” http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=punch+drunk
  2. When God Doesn’t Make Sense. http://www.life.church/watch/when-god-doesnt-make-sense/
Posted in Christian, Devotional, Encouragement | 4 Comments

Getting Naked

I know the title is a little on the edge, but just stick with me for a bit.

Last month, my husband and I celebrated twelve years of marriage. I can honestly say that my husband is my best friend, and God has truly designed us to complement one another. The best way for me to put it is we are like two puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly. For this I’m extremely grateful.

So, it’s an honor for me to host my husband, Ariel Nieves, today on the blog.

We’ve decided to share a message we tag-teamed together for a marriage event a few years ago entitled: “Getting Naked: Baring all with God and your Spouse.”


“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25, NIV).

Here we read in the beginning of Genesis that Adam and his wife were both naked and felt no shame. We would like to propose that this was God’s original design for marriages—that we would be naked and without shame, transparent with one another.

The basic definition of the word naked is: bare of any coverings, defenseless, exposed, or unprotected. Because Adam and Eve were naked, transparent, bare of any coverings, there was no shame to get in the way of their relationship. There was a connection they shared—a special bond between the two. Nothing hindered them from being fully connected to each other, thus truly making them one flesh the way God intended marriage to be.

Then, in Genesis chapter three we read that Eve is in the garden and she’s having a conversation with a serpent. The serpent, which is synonymous to Satan, makes Eve doubt God’s instructions to her and her husband about not eating from a particular tree in the Garden of Eden.

We go on to read in chapter three that Eve eats a fruit from the tree, and she shares it with her husband. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves” (Genesis 3:7).

They eat the fruit and they become aware of their nakedness. So what did they do? Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. They hid from each other.

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God…” (Genesis 3:8). The Lord comes searching for them in the garden and their reaction, again, is to hide.

They hid from each other, and they hid from God.

A fear and shame settled into Adam and Eve’s union.

They became exposed, but not in the way God intended them to be. So their initial reaction was to cover themselves—cover themselves with things they created on their own. They were ashamed of their nakedness.

When shame enters a marriage it doesn’t allow us to be fully naked and transparent the way God desires us to be. Shame encourages us to hide and cover ourselves with our own coverings.

We hide from our spouse and we hide from God. We begin to disconnect from our spouse, and we also begin to disconnect from God.

Natalie here :). When my husband and I got married we had baggage. We weren’t perfect, and twelve years later we still are nowhere near perfection. Before I came to know the Lord, I dated someone I should not have been involved with, and I was told I was fat. Those words started me on a journey in which I struggled with anorexia and insecurities. Once I committed my life to the Lord, God began to work in me and He helped me overcome some of those struggles. A few years later, I began to date my husband and eventually we were married. During the early years of our marriage, I began to realize I was still hiding behind certain insecurities. Whenever a disagreement occurred, I would automatically shut down because I never felt secure enough to share what I was really feeling. So for me, those insecurities were my covering. I hid behind those feelings of inadequacy. This was incredibly unfair for my husband because having an honest conversation with me was like pulling teeth. I would resort to hide and disconnect from him whenever we went through a rough patch.

Ariel here. When I was conceived my dad was married but, not to my mom. I was born out of an affair and it affected the way I thought about marriage. When my wife and I were dating, I was afraid to propose to her because I expected my marriage to end in an affair. I didn’t have an understanding of what it was to be a husband. At the age of fourteen, I was also introduced to pornography. And it became like gum on the bottom of my shoe. No matter how hard I tried to get rid of it, it was still there. I walked around with a lot of shame and guilt, which I brought into our marriage. Shame caused me to hide and disconnect.

Maybe you can relate to our stories. Maybe shame has entered into your marriage and has caused you and your spouse to disconnect. Maybe you find yourself hiding.

In most instances, not only do we hide from our spouse, we also hide from God. We compromise our time of prayer, our reading of His word. We go to church only when we’re scheduled to serve. And when someone asks us how we’re doing, our response is, “We’re blessed and highly favored.” We hide. We disconnect.

So what do we do?

Is it possible to go back to the original design of marriage? Is it possible to have a Genesis 2:25 marriage?

YES!

We believe that James chapter five, verse sixteen gives us a roadmap to get back to the way God intended marriages to be – that naked, without shame relationship.

The verse reads: “Therefore CONFESS your sins to each other and PRAY for each other so that you might be HEALED.”

CONFESS

First, confess to one another. Confession is the total opposite of covering and hiding, which is our natural instinct. It’s bringing things out into the light. An act of exposing—getting naked and transparent with your spouse. Confessing is humbling because some of the things we have to confess may not be easy to say. This may also include confessing grudges, resentment, anger, and unforgiveness we may have had towards our spouse.

This process allows you to reconnect with your spouse. It’s a form of being intimate. Totally transparent, totally exposed, totally naked with your spouse.

A word of advice – it’s easier to confess before things grow or fester. No matter how small it may seem, don’t allow those things to build up. The idea of what your spouse doesn’t know won’t hurt them is a LIE! Those “little things” can grow into very uncontrollable monsters.

The other component of confession is acceptance. When you’re in a relationship with someone, you take the good, the bad, and the ugly. ‘Til death do us part. When it comes to dealing with humans there’s a lot of ugly. Allow freedom for your spouse to confess. And make sure there’s no penance, no payback. You may feel hurt by certain things, but choose to go through those feelings together.

This is not the time to change your Facebook profile status to single. Confession can be difficult, but love keeps no records of wrong (1 Corinthians 13:5). That is a tough verse to follow through on. The word love in this verse is agape love – unconditional love. The source of that kind of love is God. If you are connected to God, He is able to give you the love you need to love your spouse. The love you’ll need to overlook the offenses. Remember, your spouse isn’t the enemy. We don’t battle flesh and blood. The enemy is the enemy. It’s he who causes division and seeks to rob. (Note that if you are in an abusive marriage relationship, counseling is strongly recommended so a mediator can assist you and your spouse through your situation).

PRAYER

Our next step is prayer. There are some things that are only resolved through prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29), which means if you’re serious about your marriage you’re going to have to go to war in prayer.

People are fighting in their marriages and they’re not fighting for their marriages.

Our weapons are not carnal; they’re mighty to bring down strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4). It’s not in arguments, or in trying to prove who’s right. The only way there’s peace is when we begin to intercede and pray.

Natalie here again. When my husband confessed to me his struggle with pornography, I didn’t feel too good after that. Just being transparent. Just being naked with you. My first thought was, man I’m not good enough. It came to a point where I had to realize that my husband wasn’t the enemy. The struggle with pornography was the issue and that’s what I had to fight. It wasn’t until I took that the stance in prayer and really interceded for my husband that that stronghold broke. I appreciate that my husband was so transparent with me. He spoke openly with me because he didn’t want to hide, and we were able to fight it and overcome it together.

HEALING

The final step is healing. We really believe there is a divine exchange in the healing process. An exchange where we take off our coverings—all the stuff we’ve been hiding behind—and we become exposed, and we receive God’s coverings. We receive the coverings that God intended for our marriage. You have to be naked in order for God to clothe you with His garments. He’s not going to set his garments upon coverings we’ve made for ourselves. We shouldn’t feel guilty as we unwind those coverings – God doesn’t see us by those things we’re hiding behind. He sees us covered in his blood.

In Genesis chapter three, after the Lord has learned what has taken place in the Garden of Eden, the bible states that, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).  God clothed them despite what they did. He covered them. He was replacing the fig leaves – whatever they made on their own and he covered them. He wants us naked, exposed, bare, so he can cover us.

Stop hiding from your spouse. Stop hiding from God. Be open to the fact that it’s time to begin confessing. Come together as a couple and pray. As you confess and pray you’re going to begin to see a healing in your marriage. You’ll experience blessing. You won’t be “just making it.” You’ll be overcoming. Your marriage won’t just be okay. Your marriage will be great.

In closing, years later the bible records in the book of Zechariah, a vision the prophet Zechariah has of Joshua who was the high priest at the time. The image is of Joshua dressed in filthy garments. He’s clothed in filthy coverings and Satan is standing next to him accusing him. God then rebukes Satan and requests that Joshua’s garments be removed. God takes Joshua’s coverings off.

“Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’ Then he said to Joshua, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you’” (Zech. 3:3-4).

Like Adam, Eve, and Joshua, you may find yourself under some coverings. Perhaps those coverings are more like filthy garments. Maybe just like Joshua experienced, Satan is also accusing you—convincing you that it’s best to stay covered, it’s best to stay hidden because what will others really think of you? What will your spouse think of you?

The last thing Satan wants is for us to begin confessing, and reconnecting with God and our spouse. He might be reminding us of our shameful state, but God wants us to remove our filthy garments. God wants to quiet every accusation and lie from the enemy. He wants to dress us with His garments. They’re fine garments. They’re His coverings. He wants us to live out His original design for marriages.

We want to exemplify a Genesis 2:25 marriage. In a day and age where marriages begin and end so quickly, there is still hope. No marriage is too hopeless for God’s healing.

Confess. Pray. Receive God’s healing today.

Posted in Christian, Couples, Encouragement, Hope, Marriage | Leave a comment

Being Instead of Doing

Here in New York City, our culture is very much go-go-go. We rise and shine, hustle in the daily grind, and then repeat it all over again.  It’s pretty much the way life is here.

To be busy is pretty much a cultural expectation. We must be doing something right if we’re busy. We’re aspiring; we’re succeeding; we’re making strides. Or, at least, that’s how it appears.

At times, we find our value in doing since we’re meeting the cultural expectation.

This is something that I have struggled with for a long time and I didn’t even realize it until I withdrew from the busyness.

During my battle with anxiety and panic attacks, my husband and I made a tough call and we decided that I would stop working. It was something we felt I had to do in order to heal and get well.

Despite the fact that I knew the decision would help me, it was extremely difficult for me.

What would I do with myself?

What would I do with my time?

My husband and I both worked in full-time ministry and, as true perfectionists, we lent ourselves to be the work-a-holic types.

So, I went from maintaining a busy schedule to not working at all. It was like going cold turkey.

The hardest thing for me was: What will others think of me?

To me being busy was a good thing. It meant I was good at something. It meant I was smart, successful, and hardworking. I found my value in being busy.

In my mind, others would perceive me as someone who was just sitting around all day. They would think of me as lazy. I would be seen as someone who was unsuccessful.

The idea of resting and being still brought about a lot of unrest in my mind and heart.

It has been over three years since I stopped working. Since then I have become a stay-at-home mom and, unfortunately, finding value in being busy is something I still struggle with. As you can tell from my previous blog posts, being still is not my forte.

In the Bible, Jesus’ friend Martha was very much like me.

Martha invited Jesus to her home and she planned a big dinner in his honor.

“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home. Her sister Mary sat on the floor, listening to Jesus as he talked. But Martha was the jittery type and was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Sir, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’ But the Lord said to her, ‘Martha, dear friend, you are so upset over all these details! There is really one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it—and I won’t take it way from her!’” (Luke 10:38-42, TLB).

In Jesus’ day, women kept busy by taking care of their home, their children, cooking meals, cleaning, drawing water, etc. It was the “cultural expectation” for them to handle those responsibilities. Martha prided herself in meeting those expectations. In her mind, it was good for her to be busy and concerned over the dinner preparations for Jesus, that’s what she was supposed to be doing. Sitting and being still was probably the last thing on her mind.

Her sister, Mary, on the other hand, left all the preparations for her to handle. Mary decided to sit at the feet of Jesus. She chose to be still—to rest at His feet.

In those times it wasn’t a woman’s place to listen to the teachings of a Rabbi—that was the role of a man.

Mary went against what culture said she should be doing and she sat with Jesus.

To the onlooker Martha was doing all the right things. She was busy accomplishing her duties, and she was probably doing them with great care and excellence since she was doing them for Jesus.

Mary, however, wasn’t bustling about. She was still. And, yet, Jesus states that what Mary was doing was really the only thing to be concerned about. According to Jesus, Mary had discovered something that He would not take away from her. She tapped into something that few people truly get.

Mary tapped into being instead of doing.

She was being still. But, in her stillness, she was being attentive. She was being fully present.

Mary could have multi-tasked and helped her sister Martha while she also listened to Jesus’ teaching. But, no – she chose to sit, cease from activity, and probably lock eyes with Jesus as if no one else was in the room. She perhaps thought to herself, I may not have this opportunity again.

Mary chose what was best and I’m sure she never regretted that decision.

At times, I find myself having the same “jittery” disposition as Martha. Worrying about so many things. Checking off items on my to-do list. Making meal preparations. Cleaning up. Paying bills. Going to doctor’s appointments. Planning out activities. Making sure the kids are learning and being stimulated in various ways.

And, unfortunately, in the hustle and bustle, I often overlook the thing that truly matters the most—being instead of doing.

Being still.

Being present.

I’m realizing that I not only struggle in this area in my relationship with Jesus. But also in my relationships with those who matter the most to me.

In the busyness of me doing, I forget to be a friend to my husband. I rattle off all the errands he has to run and at times I forget to simply ask him how he’s doing.

In the busyness of me doing, I forget to simply be a mama to my boys.  Instead of taking a few minutes to find out the latest about a Star Wars, or Lego character, and engage in conversation that would mean the world to my son, I run from room to room picking up toys and franticly correct my children for their mess like some kind of military officer.

In the busyness of me doing, I forget to be there for my family and friends. Rather than pick up the phone to check in on my grandmother, I scan my to-do list and convince myself that I will definitely make time for that tomorrow.

But, tomorrow is not a guarantee.

I’m praying that God would help me to number my days so that I would gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). Wisdom in making decisions; wisdom in my relationships; and wisdom in the use of my time.

Are you like me, and Martha? Worried about so many things? Things, that in the long-scope, will not really matter?

I encourage you today to be still.

Be present.

Pick up the phone and call that person you’ve been meaning to call for some time now. Treat your child to a one-on-one date. Sit at the feet of Jesus with nothing on the agenda but just to worship Him and hear from Him.

I promise you, you won’t regret it.

PS – One thing that has helped me really be intentional about being still and being present with Jesus has been a new app called First 5.  This app has helped me give undivided attention to Jesus and His word.  And, it has challenged me to give my first five minutes of my day to the Lord.  Being with Jesus for the first five minutes of each day, has helped me get through whatever comes my way throughout the day.  Check out their site! The app is free!

Posted in Christian, Devotional, Encouragement, Hope, Stay-at-home mom | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Hope in His Discipline

“Just as I’m in the process of parenting my children, the Lord is in the process of parenting me.”

I read this quote by Melissa Kruger, a writer with Proverbs 31 Ministries, a few months ago and, as a stay-at-home mom, I can SO relate! Since I have been home with our boys God has been definitely parenting me!

At first, adjusting to being a mom was difficult. But, as our first son got into his toddler years things became a little more manageable. Then, just when I felt like I could handle this parenting thing, God sent baby #2 our way—a complete surprise! Just when I thought I knew it all, I learned I knew NOTHING. And since our second son was born, God has been parenting me OVERTIME!

From infancy, our youngest son, Silas, has strongly disliked having his diaper changed. Each time I change Silas’ diaper it is like taking part in a wrestling match, or some kind of jiu jitsu routine. Our oldest son always gets a kick out of his brother’s “kung-fu skills.” I must confess on some days it’s humorous, but on most days it’s just downright EXHAUSTING!  A simple diaper change leaves this mama with muscle aches, soreness, and plain frustration.

One particular afternoon, I was worn out from the day and felt pretty drained, when Silas soiled his pamper.

Ugh!

I took a deep breath and tried to muster up some strength to change him hoping that he would easily comply. I grabbed a little gadget thinking it may keep him distracted while I cleaned him up. It did…for about 2 seconds.

Ugh!  

Then, his karate leg kicks began. He squirmed and twisted in all types of directions. I tried hard to pin him down just to get that last wipe in. But, the biggest challenge still lay ahead of me—securely putting a clean diaper on him.

Ugh!

In the middle of it all, I just let out a big huff and said, “Silas, why do you fight me so much?!  I’m trying to help you out here and you’re making it difficult for me.”

As I finally sealed his diaper and picked him up, I felt God whisper to me, “Natalie, you fight me just as much.”

Ouch.

Really?! I do, God?

Yes. Yes, you do.

If you’re wondering whether God can use a diaper change for a teachable moment—yes.   Yes, He can.

In my previous blog post, I shared how God has my husband and I in a place of waiting on him, being still before Him, and simply trusting in Him.

We’ve been waiting on Him in a particular area where we just need a miracle.

And, externally, I was being still. I said to myself and to others that I was trusting in Him.

If you asked me, I was doing as the bible verses state:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV).

Or, at least, I was trying to live this out.

But, God knew—deep down—I wasn’t.

The moment I heard the words, “Be Still,” the internal kung-fu leg kicks began. I didn’t want to be still. I wanted action. I wanted something to happen!

He knew in my heart of hearts, I had a “Plan B” written out. You know – the “back-up” plan. The “this is the plan IF God DOESN’T come through for me.”

I have read Proverbs 3:5-6 hundreds of times, but after having this “parenting” moment with God, I decided to re-read it once more. I realized I had never really taken note of the verse immediately after.

Proverbs 3:7 states: “Do not be wise in your own eyes.”

Deep down, I felt like I knew what was best. Instead of waiting, and relying on God, I was really leaning on my own understanding and my own “wisdom.” I wanted to be in control of my situation instead of truly trusting God.

In my heart’s eyes I was the wise one, with everything planned out just in case God’s plans fell through.

Internally, I was fighting so hard to relinquish total control to God. Because what if He failed?

Sounds foolish and immature, but it’s true.

As I read that one verse, I felt God whisper, “All this time I’m trying to help you out and you’re making it difficult. Don’t be wise in your own eyes. Don’t think you know what’s best. I know what’s best and I’m trying to give you MY best.”

It’s true what the author of Hebrews states about discipline:

For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems sad and painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose]” (Hebrews 12:11, AMP).

It was tough hearing those things from God. But, I’m glad He took the time out to correct me.

There’s Love in His Discipline.

As a Father who loves His children, God—even in His rebuke—displays His affection towards us.

There’s Hope even in His Discipline.

The end result far outweighs the “parenting moment”.

I want to be in right standing with God, and I truly desire a lifestyle and attitude that seeks His will and purpose above all else. HIS Will over my will. HIS Purpose over my purpose.

Today, I have Hope in His Discipline.  I have Hope in the deeper work He’s taking the time to do IN me.  And, I have Hope that His Best is really yet to come!

Posted in Christian, Devotional, Encouragement, Hope, Stay-at-home mom | Tagged | 2 Comments

Be Still

After a few years of being married, my husband and I came to the realization that we had gained a bit of weight as newly weds.  We were enjoying our date nights, eating at different places, trying new foods.  But, eventually it caught up to us.  As a result, we decided we were going to try our best to maintain our health, so we committed to working out at our local gym.

I felt like I personally needed to enroll in a fitness class to get the results I was looking for.  So I signed up for a weekly boot camp class.  The first time I met the instructor, I knew this class was not for wimps.  He was a seventy-two-year-old former Marine who had veins and muscles popping out of his biceps, triceps, forearms, calves, hamstrings–I mean to say the man was toned and fit was an understatement.  You knew he meant business.

From start to finish, the class consisted of non-stop movement.  If the instructor saw anyone slacking off a bit, he’d quickly yell out, “Come on!  Pick it up!”  The fast-paced music, the counting of reps, the use of dumbbells and steppers, the militant orders to spur everyone on–everything about the class was about high energy, constant motion, and intense activity.  And, ultimately, the activity brought about great results.  Core strengthening, muscle-building, and muscle toning.  It’s difficult to develop those things without that level of activity.

It’s interesting though, how this concept doesn’t necessarily apply to the development of our faith muscles.

My husband and I currently find ourselves in a place where God is definitely “toning” our faith muscles, but instead of increased activity what we have heard from God is “Be Still.”

Say What?  God, you want us to Be Still?

Yes.

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

“…you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14).  

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently…” (Psalm 37:7).

That was not quite the instruction I was looking for.  I was looking for more of a “Do this, then do that” type of instruction.  The type of instruction I can actively take steps towards.  Not “Be Still.”

How will we see any results if we’re still?

It’s so hard for me to be still.  I perceive being still as doing nothing.  As being inactive.

But what we perceive as inactivity, can be God’s greatest moments of activity in our lives.

In our stillness, God is actively working things in us and out of us.

In our stillness, God is working out our faith muscles.  He’s stretching us.  He’s building up our inner-core strength.  He’s working out our endurance and perseverance.

In our stillness, God is working out of us any unbelief and doubt.  And, in their stead, He is instilling a steadfast spirit, and unwavering trust.

So that, when life throws blows at us – we’ll be immovable.

So that, when storms come and winds blow – we’ll be firmly rooted.

So that, when we hear of bad news – our hearts will be steadfast (Psalm 112:7).

So that, when things come against us – they will not overcome us (Jeremiah 1:18-19).

Being still is not for wimps.  But, I’m certain that the results will not disappoint.

If you’re enrolled in the same faith fitness class, be encouraged.  God is actively working in us and for us!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hold on to Hope

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).  

A few years ago, my husband and I were traveling to the Poconos area in Pennsylvania to visit family.  Unbeknownst to us, we drove into torrential downpours during our trip.  The rain drops pounded ferociously on our car and our vision was limited to say the least.  We actually were unable to see anything in front of us, or around us.  Unable to read road signs and street names properly, we just hoped we were heading in the right direction.  We set our windshield wipers on the highest speed, turned our high beams on, and proceeded cautiously hoping we were going to eventually get to our destination.

Thankfully, after some time, we arrived safely.  Our trust in our vehicle to get us there was not in vain, and our hope was not disappointed.

At times, life can place us in the same predicament, not just literally, but spiritually and emotionally.  Seasons of “torrential downpours,” entering unknown and uncertain pathways, simply going on a bit of hope that we are indeed headed in the right direction.

During those times, what can serve as our “high beam” so to speak?  The Word of God.

God’s Word is a lamp for our feet, and a light on our path (Psalm 119:105).

God’s Word is filled with promises we can FULLY put our hope in.

When we cannot see what is ahead or even what is around us; when it’s dark and hopeless; when we are unsure of which way to go–God’s word says:

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you” (Psalm 32:8). 

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go” (Isaiah 48:17).  

In a place of uncertainty, let us remember to do as the author of Hebrews says – to hold unswervingly to this hope we profess.  To not be deterred in our hope.  To not veer to the left or to the right–even when our surrounding situation is persuading us to swerve.  Let us hold on to this hope because He who promised IS FAITHFUL!  He WILL remain true to His Word!

Posted in Christian, Devotional, Encouragement, Hope | Leave a comment