Unstoppable Love

When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” -Matthew 8:1-4

I used to believe that every miracle Jesus did was to demonstrate to the world that He was the Messiah. That each act of power had a purpose in mind. To spread His ministry, challenge the Pharisees, or even propel Him toward the cross.

I guess I never really realized that many of Jesus’s first miracles were done in secret. Often we see him telling those He healed to keep quiet about Him. He even shuts the mouths of demons who knew He is the Christ. Mary even gets the “it’s not the right time, mom!” treatment for asking Him to do something at the wedding they were attending.

And yet, despite all of this, Jesus still healed everyone who asked for healing. He still turned water into wine at the wedding so that the celebration could continue. And He still cast out demons, knowing they would recognize Him.

The Leper who was healed in the passage above didn’t do what Jesus asked and instead told about Him all over town. This hindered Jesus’s impact in the city and He had to continue healing people outside its walls.

And so why did he risk it? Why did He heal people, like Peter’s mother-in-law who had a fever, or the paralyzed man by the pool of Bethesda? Surely, He could’ve waited and healed them when the time was right instead.

“Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.” (Matthew 20:34)

“I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a great distance.” (Mark 8:2-3)

“When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14)

“Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,He said. Be healed!”’ (Mark 1:41)

Jesus carried the all-consuming love of God inside Him. It was this great love that drove Him to heal and help whenever opportunities presented themselves. It was a selfless love that cared not what would happen so long as people were completely restored.

He didn’t heal from afar but got right down in the muck with people. The leper is a great example of this because lepers were considered the “untouchables” of society. They even had to yell, “unclean!” If people came within six feet of them unawares.

Six foot distancing sound familiar? Jesus didn’t just reach out toward the man, He took those six feet toward him and touched him! Can you imagine? Living for years with the identity of being unclean and never feeling the warmth of another human’s touch?

We’re to be moved by that same compassion toward today’s “untouchables.” Because we are God’s hands and feet in the world. How else will people know His love if we fail to demonstrate it? You may just be the only Jesus someone ever meets!

Notice also how Jesus never once went down the healing line like, “you’re healed, you’re healed, you can wait because God wants to teach you something through your illness.” Or “you can be healed, but to you I’ll give cancer to so that I receive some future glory from it.” Is that love? Does that sound like Jesus? And yet, these kind of beliefs are in our churches today.

The truth is in the Word. And in the Word we see the heart of God which holds nothing back and doesn’t hesitate to pour out love and healing upon us. Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the true heart of God on the earth.

If ever you find yourself doubting, turn to Him, read Matthew/Mark/Luke/John and place yourself in the story. You are the leper, the tax collector, the paralyzed man, the bleeding woman, the adulterer, etc.

Jesus wants to climb over your walls, and into your pit, into your pain. And pull you out. He has compassion for you, so much that He would’ve died just for you.

Never forget that.

Doubting Thomas

“But he (Thomas) said to them, unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” -John 20:25

There is a reason the disciple, Thomas (also known as Didymus), is labeled as “doubting.” The passage above points to the fact that he was a man who needed to see in order to believe, and yet he was one of the 12 apostles that Jesus had chosen to be His followers and closest friends.

Apparently, he died much like the other disciples, being martyred for his gospel of Jesus. So why do we use the phrase, “don’t be a doubting Thomas,” which overlooks everything else the man accomplished for Christ?

“So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “let us go, so that we may die with Him (Jesus).” -John 11:16

I find it interesting that Thomas still performed miracles with the others when Jesus sent them out in Matthew 10:1-42 and Luke 9:1-6. There was no mention of his doubting then, and if it existed, even in his heart….miracles still took place.

One evening as I grumpily wondered why my prayers weren’t being answered, I remembered Thomas and realized the truth. He believed more than me.

It wasn’t a matter of Faith, we’ve all been given a measure of Faith. It is all in how or if we use it. We are never lacking in Faith to the extent that miracles can’t occur. Jesus clarifies this by saying even a mere mustard seed of Faith is adequate (Matthew 17:20).

Faith only requires action, otherwise without works it is dead (James 2:17). And Thomas has surely walked by Faith more often than not. He lived with Jesus! I’m sure his deeds also far outweigh my own. What have I truly accomplished for Christ?

And so I say, BE a Thomas. Don’t let your doubts stop you from seeking truth and exercising your faith. Follow Jesus even if you don’t have all the answers because let me tell you, “you never will!”

We are today’s disciples. And although we are very different than the 12, from the clothes we wear to the way we speak. We carry the same Holy Spirit. And if He is the same yesterday, today, and forever than I don’t think He changed His mind about miracles either.

I don’t know what it takes. I really don’t. There are days when I feel like prayers are mere wishes, days when I start to place more faith in myself or doctors. Sometimes I don’t even want to try anymore because my hope is so deferred. But at the end of the day I refuse to believe an easy lie over a difficult and painful truth.

The problem isn’t prayer and it isn’t God. It’s us. Something has taken what was simple and made it feel impossible. Or rather, someone. The devil doesn’t want us to release the Holy Spirit in power on the earth (his kingdom). And so, I believe the problem in our hearts began with the creation of the “religious spirit”, that is mere works without faith, condemnation over conviction, rituals without love. It forces all low but never rises up. It robs our hearts and minds of power and true wisdom and stagnates the growth and impact of a Christian on the world around them.

We all have this false doctrine engraved in our hearts to some extent. But I’ve tasted the freedom of truth and have seen that there is so much more we are missing that Jesus paid for. That we aren’t merely sinners saved by grace but coheirs of the kingdom, given power and authority to do even greater works than Jesus on the earth! (John 14:12)

Once you experience truth, no one can take it from you, and no amount of falling, no amount of demonic attack can make you forget that truth. You’re allowed to doubt my friends, you’re allowed to have days when you can’t take a step further. But you were not made to rest in that state of mind. Dust yourself off and start over, because you know the truth and the world needs the truth to come alive.

I can’t deny who I am in Christ. I will always come around, full circle, back to Him. He is the only way, and my only hope. He is the reason I live, do, and someday, die.

Thomas wasn’t perfect and neither are we. God shines brightest in our weaknesses and there wasn’t a soul God partnered with that didn’t need Him, nor didn’t need repentance. He likes to work through us broken vessels and that in and of itself is a miracle. He transforms us and that is miraculous!

I don’t know if this word is for someone else out there. During this pandemic, I just see a lot of people falling prey to this thought of powerlessness. Stop asking God, “what will YOU do?” And ask yourself, “what will I do?” Speak aloud the reality of heaven you want to see on this earth, in your workplace, in your home. Stand on the truth and speak it until you believe it!

Put that God-given Faith to work and you won’t have time to doubt.

May God bless you all ❤️

Official 8 Month Old!

Oh boy! Where’s the time gone?! You barely fit in my arms anymore and lifting your car seat carrier feels like a feat for Superman. Those cute little baby sounds have formed into your first word, “dada.” And I know someday, I’ll be hearing a “mama” too.

Your once gummy grin is now filling with tiny teeth, and that bald head is filling with blonde hair. Your eyes still remain brilliant blue, a rarity, considering our eyes of hazel and brown.

You love to stand and bounce, and every morning I wake to your squinty little smile and baby giggles which light up my life like no other sound.

You are finally enjoying the world of flavor, and it’s a joy to see your pallet grow. I wish you would love veggies more but boy do you love sweet things and mashed potatoes! Gravy all the better. 👍

I see you learning and growing, reaching new heights, and wanting to do more and more without my hand to guide you. I see a look of pride as you stand up straight, or reach that far off toy. And so I count the days and savor each moment, and give one last glance at each pair of clothes outgrown, before tucking them away in bins alongside toys and baby gear you no longer need.

I hold your tiny hand, and rock you as I sing, watching the sun rise and set on another day and memory of this chapter called “James and Me”, and excitedly await what memories summer will bring to us both.

James beside his newborn shirt

You are my sunshine ❤️ and nothing will ever change that. I pray that above all that you will ever learn, and before all the great things you will ever do, that you will know that you are loved, you’re here on this earth for such a time as this, and that this world is a temporary plain, just as you are only temporarily mine.

But that is good news son. Because beyond this life lies eternity, and beyond my love is the love of God, and the woes and pain that this world brings will someday cease. And we will all finally be home as one. But until that day, I will wipe away your tears and do my best to fill your life with light too.

I may not be perfect, we’ve had our share of tough times. But son I want to thank you for changing my life. ❤️

I love you….never lose your wonder, keep reaching, keep growing, keep becoming who God made you to be. I am so blessed to watch it all unfold and to be entrusted with raising you. Thank you God, for choosing me to be your mom.

Sleep tight, my little love ❤️

Time Well Spent

It is a joy spending time together as family. Aaron and I will watch some anime together or cooking show while James plays on the floor. Or we will all laugh together, as James tries to say his first words (which happens to be “dada”), or practices standing.

Our evenings generally look like that, but Aaron has to sleep all too soon so that he can get up early for another 12 hour day at work, and then it is just me and James again.

Eventually, I long for time alone with Aaron, just as we did before welcoming our son into our family. I long for intimacy and connection with the man I married. And when we do get a few hours time to ourselves during our date nights I then begin to miss my little boy again.

This cycle of spending time together, as a whole and alone got me thinking about how God longs to spend time with us. If we are made in His image, I’m sure we also reflect His Heart and desires when it comes to quality time as well.

Maybe, He also desires…

1. Intimate time (just the two of us)

2. Family time (kids/spouses)

3. Fellowship time (as a body/church)

It isn’t enough to just have a personal relationship with God that doesn’t also include family and church time as well. We should have a healthy schedule of meeting with God alone, and meeting with Him together. Whether that looks like devotion time as a family, reading to your child as you lay them down for bed, praying together before meals, worshipping at church or attending a class…

You name it, God wants to be a part of it. In fact, He wants to be a part of everything. He wants you to do life hand-in-hand and step-by-step with you. His love is patient yes, but it is also passionate and all-consuming. You’ll never meet a more dedicated lover, a more intimate being than our God. He IS love after all (1 John 4:8).

So don’t confine Him to your closet or Bible time. Don’t just spend time with Him when your family is all together or a couple hours on a Sunday. You can’t live your faith through other people, eventually it will have to become real for you and personal and vice versa if you never spend time together as one.

The devil despises your relationship with God. He doesn’t understand it because he only loves himself. And so he will find any way possible to inch in between you. That is why it is so difficult to find ANY time for God.

He gets you thinking that everything has to be perfect in order for you to spend time with God.

“I’m busy now, maybe tonight before bed I will read my Bible.

“I’m too tired today, I’ll go to church next week.”

“Our schedule is too full this month for family devotions, maybe once our son’s soccer season is over.”

Insert your own excuse. I’ve fallen into the same busyness scheme and it never feels healthy to be stuck in it’s vicious cycle. Honestly, we would only be doing ourselves a service and accomplishing so much more if we gave God our first fruits in time. What you give to God first He gives back tenfold. Don’t believe me? Try tithing.

It can be dangerous to separate yourself from the body and it can be equally so to separate yourself from alone time with God. Each scenario you leave yourself open to attack.

Those who distance themselves from the counsel/correction/teaching/ and support of the body may become deceived and are like sheep that’s escaped the safety of the flock. God didn’t design you to live out your faith alone, but to be a part of His family.

If you only meet with God as a whole then your faith will never grow on its own. You may just place people on a pedestal and live your faith through them or behind them. Your faith must be become real and alive to you or the devil will cut you from the safety of the flock like a weak sickly lamb and take you out.

Healthy relationships are dynamic and flexible. They aren’t one-sided or controlling, and they aren’t forceful. God is patient and waiting, and always speaking. He doesn’t hold the use of your time against you and He never condemns you.

Some tips to help spend more quality time with God:

1. Nature walk: Take the dog/kids or just go by yourself with a journal or devotional. Just being in nature can declutter your mind and help you to feel one with Him.

2. Podcasts/audio books: make your trip into town/ or to work meaningful and listen to the Bible audio book or a sermon by your favorite preacher. Let the message sink in as you go about your day.

3. Morning Bible verse/passage: For younger kids I’d start with a single daily verse and then have them think about it throughout the day. Before bed, bring up the same verse and talk about it as a family. This is a good way to begin devotions and prayer time.

4. God in the passenger seat: If you find it hard to incorporate God into your daily grind, imagine Him as a friend in your passenger seat. He follows you wherever you go like a spouse/friend. Talk to Him just as you would them, remember, He just wants to be with you. And just as you let your friend/spouse talk back/reply, do the same with Him.

5. Anytime is worship time: kids love to dance and you will find them enjoying even doing chores if you put some music on and worship while you work. Whether you can sing or not, just praise Him anywhere; in the car, in the shower, or even as a quiet lullaby before bed. Your kids and you will feel peace and happiness flow.

The Wrath of God

God is serious business.
He won’t be trifled with.
He avenges his foes.
He stands up against his enemies, fierce and raging.
But God doesn’t lose his temper.
He’s powerful, but it’s a patient power.
Still, no one gets by with anything.
Sooner or later, everyone pays.
Tornadoes and hurricanes
are the wake of his passage,
Storm clouds are the dust
he shakes off his feet.
He yells at the sea: It dries up.
All the rivers run dry.
The Bashan and Carmel mountains shrivel,
the Lebanon orchards shrivel.
Mountains quake in their roots,
hills dissolve into mud flats.
Earth shakes in fear of God.
The whole world’s in a panic.
Who can face such towering anger?
Who can stand up to this fierce rage?
His anger spills out like a river of lava,
his fury shatters boulders.
(Nahum 1:2-6 MSG)

…This is what the Lord would still be doing if it weren’t for His Son. God had a plan from the beginning, a way to save us from what we deserved. He couldn’t deny Himself or His righteousness that demands purity. Light could never meddle with darkness but always drives it out. That is God’s design.

And so the Old Testament remains as a reminder of our past, our great need for a Savior. Because who could ever completely purify themselves before God? Or follow all the ancient rules perfectly?

Jesus was the fulfillment of the law and the bridge between God and man, that we might walk with God again like in the Garden of Eden. But the serpent is still loose, though his days are numbered, and our garden needs pruning and constant care, or it withers and succumbs to thorns.

Because of Jesus, who drank the wrath of God on our behalf, the judgment of the Lord now comes with a choice. Do we repent and follow Jesus, who took the punishment of our sin in full? Or do we decline His free gift of salvation and forgiveness and reclaim that wrath and just judgement upon ourselves?

There are many who would rather cling to their selfish pride, even to the point of eternal death, than surrender to a higher power. They live this life as they wish, and deny all that would truly set them free. You see in their minds they think they are free, and that the church and Christianity is a rigid cell, when in actuality, they are bound by many chains. A sinful life is a life filled with bondage. Not only to darkness but to the flesh, who rules their every thought.

But that aside, what have we done as New Covenant believers to reach those bound by such darkness?

On Facebook, I see post after post about the wrath of God on our nation. I see fire and brimstone preaching that may lead some to God in fear, but turns many others away. Imagine how differently the Story of the Prodigal Son would have ended if the father never welcomed him home. Many children are driven away from their fathers in rebellion and further still by their father’s continued wrath at their disobedience.

The truth is that we flee from guilt, discomfort, and judgment. We can only truly experience guilt and overcome it if we first feel loved. A son who knows he is loved can heal and move on from his mistakes because he knows that the father only disciplines out of love.

Discipline goes from, “how dare you do that!” To, “I can’t let you do that, because I love you too much.”

Our job has never been to condemn the world or say, “you better repent or God will unleash His fury on us all!” But to show the world that our God loves them so much that He gave His Son so that we could be with Him again. All He ever wanted was to be with us. He did everything He could possibly do short of taking away our free will, to do exactly that.

Granted, our free will got us into this mess but I think we all can understand that choice is important because it reflects the heart of a person. We go to work because we have to, not because we want to. We go to church because we love God and call Him friend.

God isn’t angry with you. The world or your actions don’t surprise Him, He saw it coming and loved us anyway. The world is what it is because it is the devil’s kingdom and God has relinquished control of it, temporarily. He chose instead to work through us.

That means our faith (power of the Holy Spirit) must be released onto the earth through works. Prayer is powerful but a believer who understands that they are the conduit through which that power flows is even more so.

What does that mean?

YOU may be the answer to the prayer. Stop begging God to do something He can only do through you! Stop looking up to heaven as if all the power is shut up behind it’s gates! You are carrying the power within you, the Holy Spirit is alive and waiting for a chance to move! If only you would move…

The world is radical. We need to meet their passion with our own. Turn it up a notch! Demonstrate the love that no darkness can extinguish. Only then will people start to see that the church isn’t fading or there to rain fire upon them, but to offer them true life, purpose, and freedom in Christ Jesus.

God isn’t angry or sleeping, He’s simply waiting…waiting for you to answer His call.

Star Trek: Quotes

“I do not approve. I understand.” -Spock

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these! In my search for good quotes with lengthy words and deep meaning I overlooked the simplicity but equal importance of others. This one from Spock in reply to Anan in A Taste of Armageddon is one of such quotes that I feel has relevance today.

For those that aren’t familiar with this series, Spock is a half human/half vulcan that prizes himself on logic. However, even he has said that logic is only the beginning of wisdom, not the end.

In today’s society, the amount of illogic would probably lead to this iconic expression.

Fascinating

My point today, however, isn’t to raise my eyebrows at the state of our world, but to try and understand the “why” behind it.

I believe that no one is born evil. And quite frankly, I wouldn’t readily say that those who do evil things do it with the thought of, “I want to be evil and turn against God.” If we really looked into it, I’m sure you would find that most people think they are good and feel a sense of guilt over those actions which they believe to be bad.

Character and civility still mean something, and that is a good thing! Though it’s importance and definition is slowly fading, most of us still have a moral compass which directs us. That is why the devil has his work cut out for him when he seeks to twist a person to his will.

You can’t take a good person and turn them toward darkness in a day. It would be like trying to get a doctor, whose spent his whole life healing and helping others, to kill and destroy. It would be unnatural and disgusting to him, and yet doctors are doing this in abortion clinics throughout the world.

The only way to twist a man is by one thought, or rather, half-truth, at a time. The devil is good at being that subtle voice, like the serpent he is. He knows that a snare can’t be too obvious or we would avoid it, and so he spends years laying the trap and training us to step into it unawares. In fact, by the time he’s done with you, you’ll believe that his words are truth and his trap a warm embrace.

If you allow this way of thinking to take hold, he will get you to believe anything.

Maybe it isn’t a baby…maybe it is just a lump of cells

I don’t like who I am, God must’ve made a mistake when I should’ve been born a boy!

The list is practically never-ending. It’s these slippery slopes of deception that I can very easily understand. We have all been tested and have believed these lies (maybe not the ones listed above) but others…

Maybe God isn’t all good

I don’t see miracles, they must not exist today

Do these ones hit closer to home? Can you see that we are all in the same boat, being attacked by the same enemy. Like any battlefield, you’ll see injured, broken comrades, alongside those who get back up and keep fighting, some retreat, others lose heart, and others still are killed.

We are all on this battlefield fighting the same battles and one enemy.

It isn’t Biden, world leaders, the wealthy, some ethic group, a political party…rewind and keep rewinding…it all started in that garden. The serpent.

Jesus understands. He came down to live as a man, but died to free us from death. He is now our mediator but just like the quote above His understanding of our condition didn’t equate to approval. If that were so, we would still be lost and damned without a savior.

I don’t want to beat a dead horse with this topic but my final example is the clearest one in my experience.

Behavior in Children.

I’ve worked with young children for awhile now and have seen my share of illogical behavior. Most of which, are normal developmental phases of learning boundaries, though not all.

In the normal cases, children learn quickly and the problems are easily managed with discipline. In cases of abuse/neglect they tend to spiral and react poorly to discipline.

It’s easy to get annoyed by bad behavior but once you hear the story behind it, suddenly you understand the why to their behavior all the while wanting them to overcome the obstacle and to heal.

It is this heart of compassion, of understanding that I believe will reignite our passion for the lost. We’ve grown used to arguing and judging and have forgotten to love like Christ. He died while we were still sinners, and though He understood our condition He loved us too much to leave us there.

And so let’s attempt to be an understanding church, so that we can be a compassionate one. That our love and commonality would unite us and press us toward the fulfillment of the great commission, to lead people to Christ and bring Heaven to earth.

Cut’n Dry

We live in a world full of compromises and concessions. Too many of us are afraid to put the foot down on what the Bible says vs. what the world is trying to make it say. The era of cut’n dry truth has been muddied to the extent that even Christians (a.k.a little Christs) don’t agree on it.

All in the name of…progression.

My question to them is this, what exactly do they hope to “progress” into? And is it really their own idea, under their control? Or are they just spiraling out of control, with the devil spinning the wheel?

For example: I’ve heard the term “brainwashed” and “deceived” repeated almost like a broken record by our divided country. We are stuck pointing fingers and demanding equality, but can any society have that which it denies?

Without the moral foundation of the Word of God and, equally important, the love of God, our eyes shift from Him to our fallible selves. Suddenly God is “us” and we have seen what chaos that ensues.

Satan has a field day when we say to ourselves, “who needs God?”

As Christians we are not called to progress into madness alongside the world, but to stand apart, and quite frankly, be hated by the world (Matthew 10:22). A church that is beloved by all unsettles me in today’s culture. A church that has dissected truth, using cookie cutters to make it exactly what they want, gravely forget the warning of God at the end of Revelations and what it means to be a follower of God.

They made the truth fuzzy and warm, easy on the ears. Since when is truth easy? I love truth, but my experience has been that it is solid, cold, and unbending…not what the fallen man wants to hear but what he needs to survive. It’s the pill that’s hard to swallow but as necessary as oxygen itself. It is our grounding to reality and the reality of God. Of good and evil, both in the world and in our hearts.

The church’s job was to shepherd the world, like a parent. Not become the world’s best friend. Does that approach ever work when raising children? Sparing discipline is hatred toward your children! (Proverbs 13:24)

Sparing the hard truth is hatred toward the world!

The truth is, there is a hell. And many will live out eternity there. Doesn’t that scare you? To know that you are missing the opportunity to save those that you love because you fear man and his rejection?

One saved life is worth the following persecution of one hundred.

We need to stand firm and reassert the Word of God into every fiber of our being. If someone asks you what you believe it will be as simple as pointing to the Bible, the whole thing, and not just a few verses.

You can’t be a Christian and believe in abortion or side with those who believe it. You can’t be a Christian and say that because God is love, all kinds of “love” must be from God. The devil creates nothing but warps everything God first created to be good and pure. You can’t be a Christian and hate your fellow man, love should be the driving force behind everything you do, not offense! Every evil act against man is an act against God, but He can take it and He will settle it.

My advice to you during these uncertain times is this. The Word of God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Read it. The whole thing, excluding nothing. Allow it to erase the worldly thinking and replace it with a Godly one. Make truth cut and dry, simple, again.

And then stand on it with everything you have, like a rock wall against the torrents pushing against you, trying to make you forget, blend, and “progress” into the devil’s hands.

It’s time we unite and remind the world that we’re unshakable, because of Christ in us, the hope of salvation which is free to anyone who says, yes!

My job, and ours is to remind the world that there is another way, another path, and that is Jesus. We are ambassadors from another kingdom after all. Represent Him well.

And do it all with love or it means nothing..(1 Corinthians 13)

Hope Song 2021

My days go something like this…

I wake up rather stiff backed, to the cooing of my son beside me in his crib (this is a new thing for us as he has slept with me since birth and never slept through the night completely til just a week ago). I get him up, play with him in bed, change his diaper and take our dog out. I then hurry to wash all of James’ baby bottles from any nightly feedings as he grows impatient for his morning meal. I feed him and let him have floor time, while I either hurry to catch up on chores or watch some mind numbing show.

This leads into midday as James keeps me busy with drool control, supervised play, feedings, and diaper changes, and teaching him new skills/sensory play. If I’m lucky, he will be happy enough to let me shower while he sits in his high chair. Otherwise he’s glued to my hip, fighting naps and being fussy as I frantically try to figure out what’s wrong. My stress turns slowly into impatience and anger as I watch time tick by and chores pile and my son moans or cries for something I don’t know how to fix.

I find myself fighting new battles in anxiety every day or week it seems, be it rashes, teething, breathing issues (when he was younger), constipation (frequently), new sleeping arrangements for me, James, and Aaron…among the anxieties of life, marriage, church functions, and home that I have to balance harmoniously.

Evening rolls in and Aaron is home, I give him a quick peck and maybe he takes James for a bit so I can do a power shower or a troubled bath in which mother mode still won’t chill as I hear James cry for something through the door. We make dinner, we hurriedly eat as James bounces, or plays on the floor, generally this is noisy squealing playtime so we don’t hear much TV, or James is chill and I get a few minutes to talk to Aaron.

Then it’s bath time for James, and hopefully he takes a nap, though now that he sleeps through the night I’m lucky if he takes a good nap at all, though he might take a 15 min one around 12 or a longer one around 6. Each time I lay him down it’s a struggle during the day unless he really wants to sleep.

Sometimes the nightly routine of coaxing James to sleep lasts 3 hours. And by then Aaron has to go to bed (we sleep alone) and I finally have silence collapsing quietly upon the air mattress in James’ room. I can’t sleep many times for a few hours. I try to get some things picked up in the house, I scroll my phone and I get up a few times to reinsert binky or roll James into a better position. Or sometimes I have to change him and then try to get him back to sleep for an hour.

In all this (which is wayyy better than when James was younger), I still haven’t had the time to write. Even now I do so from the air mattress with James finally sleeping in his crib deeply for the first time all day. I wonder to myself what my hope song is anymore.

I have a blessed life. My son is a blessing and he’s healthy. I have a wonderful husband who works hard and a roof over my head. I have a church family as well as parents who would do anything for me. I know that my struggles don’t compare to many others.

I have a cousin whose son is confined to a wheel chair, he is sick all the time, he had a liver transplant and sees many specialists because he is the only one in the world with this disease. He requires constant care and his mother has suffered more than you can imagine. What is her hope song?

I admit that I just haven’t made time for God very much. Let alone for myself. Or even my spouse. I’m not generally someone who gets texts from friends wanting to come over, though I know many who would open their doors to me if I asked.

I hardly write, and I no longer sing in the church band or preach. I still serve as director of the preschool class, not wanting to abandon my kiddos or the work we started there.

Covid opened my eyes in many ways. It tried (or more specifically satan) tried to rob me of joy last year harder than ever before, amidst the greatest joy of my life, my son being born. James is a light, a hope song to my family and friends and his wondrous view of the world keeps me rooted.

What then is my hope song when all around me is fear, pain, hopelessness, depression, and hatred?

I promise you that even at my lowest, which I tend to hit a lot lately, God is still that hand reaching into the pit for me. My world is upside down now, it isn’t about me anymore, I don’t live for me, and as much as I’d die for James, I don’t just live for him either.

I live to live as Christ. My Bible may be dusty, my mind busy, but all that I do is for Him. I raise James to serve God, I even clean my home to serve God. I don’t always go about it with that mindset but at the end of the day, it really is all about Him.

And so when your hope comes from the very one who already won the victory over life and defeated death, why would you let anything take that away? Why would you fear a virus or who’s president? Seriously, was Daniel ever in tears or shaking in terror under the rule of King Neb?

It’s okay to have a bad day, it’s okay to mourn what has been lost and what the devil has done to our country, family, and friends. It’s okay to be angry! But let me tell you, it’s not okay to stay in a place of depression or fear. We still have a hope that the world needs to see, His light is still shining just as bright as when He gave His life on the cross so that we might truly live.

You aren’t powerless! You’re duty isn’t to lament and cower, begging God to change the world, YOU are the change! YOU were born for such a time as this. Don’t bow, don’t surrender, don’t turn away, don’t be swayed, stand FIRM and remind the world Whose we are!

My life has changed, I have changed. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it. And I wouldn’t change a thing. My hope song is still singing, my light isn’t fading, and this year I will take two steps forward to make up for the year I took a step back.

Pray for our new president, pray for our country, pray for our church, and keep fighting the good fight, keep running the race to the finish line ❤️ Our work has just begun.


4 Months of Madness 😅

When you’re pregnant with your first, you get bombarded with horror stories about labor and delivery, needless to say, you go into labor knowing the ins and outs of what could go wrong or, hopefully, right.

What they never tell you about is what it’s like taking that baby home, the facts on how best to swaddle, feed/nurse, bathe, and flat out survive! They don’t tell you about all the unique questions you will have, the fears and anxieties, the marital stress, the bodily stress which makes after birth recovery ten times more difficult. How your body, even 4 months after, is still recovering! That being said, I want to share a bit of what I’ve learned in order to help any new mom out there.

First, meet James, my sweet (generally), little bub. He is 4 months old to the day in that picture and boy does he keep me on my toes. Being a mom is great and I love him to pieces, so don’t get too overwhelmed by my “overwhelmedness”, my story is different than your story, and no matter what your baby is like, or how you are, God chose you to be your child’s mother, that IS something and that SAYS something about you. If you ever feel underqualified, remember that God believes in you and trusts you with His own. You will survive this!!

What they never told me about nursing:

  1. It is very hard to get a proper latch, you want your baby to take in more than just the “nipple”, and any improper latching will hurt you.
  2. Those first few nights after birth are hell if you are breastfeeding because that milk doesn’t come in right away. Don’t fret and supplement with formula if you must!
  3. Prepare to pump all day and if you plan to freeze, know that not all women can freeze their milk, something about the enzymes causing milk to go bad even in the freezer! (this was true for me)
  4. Don’t feel condemnation if you can’t keep it up. Honestly, I breastfed for a month and that was all I could handle, and even James was not reacting well to the milk so formula saved us both!
  5. “Letting down” as they call it, which happens a ton when your breastfeeding, like, even if your baby so much as cries sometimes, is painful and when you do plan to dry up, you will want to limit the milk let down triggers if possible.
  6. Get a bra that holds the pumps on!!! I spent hours holding those things on because the suction doesn’t hold. Also, more milk won’t flow if you up the suction power, just put it to what level you can handle comfortably and pump often/or breast feed often if you want milk to come in faster (no food tricks will make it come in more).
  7. Babies may lose a pound at first on breastmilk, and if you notice your baby gaining too quickly later on, try to make sure they are not just getting the first fatty foremilk. Which lasts about 15 min into feeding per breast, until you reach hindmilk which has more nutrients and less fat.

What they never told me about caring for boys:

  1. Circumcisions are no joke, but they do heal within 10 days roughly and require very little care. Just buy Vaseline to have handy when you bring your little guy home and keep diapers loose…no pants either!
  2. Keep the skin around circumcision pulled back (you will need to do this even after it is healed until they are 1 to 2 years old or you risk them developing a penile adhesion. (Was never told this and our little guy almost developed one recently!)
  3. Boys have the ability too shoot pee very high (sometimes into their own face during changing time). My son pees every time we put him in the bathtub and frequently during diaper changes. Be prepared, keep a pee guard up and understand that the diapers you got at your shower may not work for you. Pampers has worked best for us when it comes to avoiding leaks up the back/sides.

What they never told me about caring for newborns:

  1. I honestly wouldn’t believe the myth that some babies just cry for no reason, my little guy has always had a reason and the whole “colic babies just cry and there isn’t much you can do about it” phrase is nonsense. My son had gas (still does) and acid reflux and it took me a long time of learning to realize what was ailing him and how to help.
  2. Learn how to massage the stomach and bicycle the legs to help with gas and constipation. As you struggle to find the right formula mix (which you should give each formula at least a month before switching), gas and bowel issues will ensue. I no longer need Mylicon drops (which barely work) to ease my kiddo.
  3. Babies have under-developed stomachs so bare with them when trying formulas and don’t just assume that your child has an allergy to milk, which apparently isn’t as common as I once thought. James had constipation for a few weeks when we switched him to a formula with milk that wasn’t so broken down for him, but now he is great on it. It just takes time.
  4. Prune juice ( a VERY tiny amount) in milk will ease constipation!
  5. Tummy time is very vital, even for newborns! And helps with gas also.
  6. Be sure to bathe every single fat crease and wrinkle on your baby-they get stinky fast (within a day) and diaper rash can develop anywhere. Newborns need bathed only ever couple days or they can dry out too much.
  7. Trim nails while baby sleeps, use a grinder if you’re afraid to trim their nails and give a newborn a few weeks before you trim them because their skin may be attached to the nails at first.
  8. In the first month of life your baby will shed a whole layer of skin, just gently wash off and keep lotion on them. This is normal adjustment to life outside the womb.
  9. Newborns breathe really funny. Like, many have periodic breathing patterns when sleeping where they stop breathing for 10 seconds. This is normal but anything longer I would keep tabs on.
  10. Babies aren’t great at regulating their temperature. My son can go from very hot to clammy and cold in a matter of minutes. Just be sure to dress your baby light at night or during naps because overheating is a major risk for SIDS.
  11. Not all newborns sleep. My son only slept 10 minutes here and there and once he kept me up 24 hrs. No joke! Get your sleep now if you’re expecting!
  12. Overstimulation can quickly cause a fussy baby. People love to make babies laugh and try to get a smile out of them but babies can only handle excitement in short bursts-the time lengthens as they age but even my 4 month old can only take so much. Overstimulation can lead to overtiredness which in turn means your baby will struggle to calm and lay down for a nap. (Just be aware of the cues that your baby is done playing), this goes for newborns and older babies.
  13. Rotate your newborn’s head while they sleep so they don’t develop flat or bald spots.
  14. If bottle feeding or breastfeeding be aware that your baby’s head is elevated properly or they may choke on the milk or even run the risk of getting ear infections. My son choked on milk a lot and stopped doing this around the 2 month mark.

What they never told me about babies:

  1. At the 4 month mark be prepared to change the way you get your baby to sleep. At this time babies don’t sleep so easily and fight it even. Rocking, singing, swinging baby may have worked before but now it can have the opposite effect, and overstimulate your already tired baby. This is the chance for you to teach your baby to self soothe. My son takes a pacifier only when he is ready to take a nap. Just get them to where they are tired but still awake and lay them down in a quiet darker location with a fan on. I might still pat his back and help him with pacifier but otherwise he sleeps on his own now. (Setting a nightly schedule is vital)
  2. Rotate your baby if they get fussy while they are sleeping-they don’t know how to roll over yet so they can get uncomfortable if in the same position for to long, just as we do.
  3. Bottle sizes/types/and nipple sizes are a challenge for new mothers. Especially when dealing with colic. My best solution was anti-colic Dr. Browns bottles or Tommee Tippee anti-colic bottles. You will want a slow flowing type bottle and start small on the nipple size until your baby shows signs of not getting milk fast enough. Do frequent burping breaks to ease colic and just let your little one have time to adjust to bottle feeding. They are learning too.
  4. Teething began as early as 3 months with my baby, prepare for the saliva and constant fingers in mouth. (you’ll want to have many teething options for when those teeth really pop through because fingers in the mouth can cause teeth issues later on). No teething toys? a rag will do in a pinch.
  5. Shots can be a rough time-but more so for you mom than the baby. My son got a fever with his second row of shots and wouldn’t take Tylenol. If your child gets a fever, try a cold wet rag on the forehead and loose clothes with no socks. If you bathe him/her, make it warm not room temp or this can cause a spike in the fever.

What they never told me about post partum healing:

  1. Using the restroom sucks, and sitting on your butt sucks for a few weeks if you had stitches. Just keep ice and witch-hazel pads handy and spray bottle with a tad of hydrogen peroxide/water.
  2. Your stomach may look ruined but it will go back to a likable shape, especially if you do exercises to strengthen them as well as doing Kegels to strengthen your other muscles.
  3. Stretch marks will be sore as they heal, but they will fade from red to purple and will eventually turn light or whitish.
  4. Your joints will be recovering awhile as well as your back since you still have relaxin hormone in your body keeping you loose.
  5. You will get random pains/cramps for months as you regulate. Your back will be the last thing to feel normal…mine still isn’t! Just try and keep back straight/good posture.
  6. Your emotions will be crazy! course that could be from the stress of having your life completely change.
  7. Your hair may fall out around 3 months. Yep, mine is falling out drastically still. I read that taking Biotin could help as well as continuing to take prenatals.
  8. Your feet may forever be larger. This never happened to me, but for some ladies, your feet get bigger due to the relaxin and stay bigger.
  9. Your breasts are done for, lol, sorry. They may just stay this large though after breast feeding is over they get thinner.
  10. You may have post partum bleeding for a long time, don’t overdo and let yourself heal. If you don’t, this process will last longer and you risk hemorrhaging.
  11. Take care of yourself!
  12. And if you plan on getting pregnant again right away, my advice is to wait at least 6 months so your body has plenty chance to heal, this is also best for your future baby.

Well, that is the jist of what I’ve learned so far as a new mother, and that’s leaving out plenty still! If you’re a new mom and have any specific questions for me, I’d love to try and answer them. I know I’m not an expert but I also know how I felt on those long rough nights when I was scared and stressed beyond belief and the doctors offices were closed or they flat out didn’t have an answer for me. Hearing other moms voice the same issues and how they resolved them gave me a sense of peace as I hope I can do for you as well.

May God bless you all for bringing new life into this world. And may He fill you with peace and joy that passes understanding, each day is a chance to renew and build positive memories. Seriously, with James, one day we are both crying, the next we are laughing and I’m marveling at him achieving new milestones. Take care of yourself and nab some sleep and rest whenever you can girl. You got this!

I’m Grateful But…

This post has turned out to be rather difficult for me to write. Having deleted what I was going to say twice because it sounded more like rantings than actual wisdom. In all honesty, perhaps this title is misleading in that envy isn’t exactly what I’m talking about, but what envy is at it’s core…selfishness.

I’m sick and tired of selfishness, not just in the lives of those around me but in my very own life. It alone has led to depression problems, anger/control issues, marital problems, and so much more. If I was only selfless in all things…wouldn’t that make everything better?

Unfortunately, no one can be completely selfless, not like Christ was, who gave up His life on the cross to save us all from ourselves. He is the very definition of agape love as John described in chapter 15 verse 13: “Greater love has no more than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends.”

I want to know what that love is like. I want to be wholly surrendered to God so that I quit stumbling and backsliding on my walk with Him. I must say, sometimes I do envy those who seem to come by selflessness naturally. They are the ones at the forefront of this battleground, winning souls over daily for Christ. Meanwhile, I feel accomplished If I read the Bible for a few minutes a day.

Is this convicting? And yet, how many of you will let such convictions fade away as I have done many times. Praise be to God that He loves us anyway, that He just wants to be close to us, whether that looks like talking to Him as you drive to work, or worshiping Him as you do the dishes.

I was going to spend my time writing about all the selfish things I’ve witnessed around me, but have realized that little can be gained in pointing at others when I struggle with the same thing (Matthew 7:3).

An example, would be the depression I once struggled with a few years ago. I was to the point of almost taking medication and believing it was a mental illness when in reality I had allowed my mind to become rewired into thinking poorly and seeing only the hurt and pain around me and in my own life. I was spiraling and no one could save me from this but God and myself.

It was painful because I had to make the decision to fix how my mind operated, and this could only be done through Christ and talking about my feelings with Christian couples I trusted. I cannot stress this enough, that Christ is the answer here…we don’t have the power to pull ourselves out of the pits we dig without His hand reaching down to pull us up. Our action is also required in that we must accept His help and do the hard dirty work of climbing up out of the pit.

What happens is selfishness takes a backseat instead of sitting upfront in the place where God should be sitting. You see depression is selfish also, as hard as it is to admit, thinking of yourself poorly is still thinking of yourself. If your mind is always consumed with self, that is selfish thinking, it doesn’t have to always be positive. They are two sides to the same coin.

I once heard humility described this way as, “not thinking any less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” From there true healing can commence, something that drugs ultimately prohibit and put off. If you are suffering from depression since childhood, you need Christ to uncover what it was that effected you and caused you to spiral. If you were born with a mental problem which causes depression, know that God’s Will doesn’t include you feeling that way. He wants you to be healed and to seek healing apart from medicated emotional control, He wants you to be free.

For those who are suffering from depression within the past few years, ask yourself when it began and why. If you can pinpoint some traumatic event or loss, most likely you just never allowed yourself a chance to heal or to mourn that loss. There is a healthy way to grieve and if we aren’t careful the devil will get us to grieve indefinitely. Because if we are consumed with self, we will not accomplish the things of Christ.

It is as simple as that, the more inward we are focused the less we can give/pour onto others. That is the one crippling factor of selfishness in that it will rob you of your true destiny and true happiness.

You might think that your heart is king and never makes an error or that your heart is pure and reflects the heart of God for your life, but ultimately if God isn’t on the throne of your heart, you will desire only what is evil and what destroys you. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

The cure is more of God. That is always the answer, to any problem you face in this life. More of God=more joy, love, peace, faith, purpose….etc, etc. And so I will seek more of Him and the closer I become to Him perhaps, I will mirror Christ a bit more until that fateful day when He restores the good work He began in me and I can go home.

If you are struggling with this issue, you aren’t alone. If you are witnessing this around you, simply pray that hearts will be softened to hear the truth because let me tell you, no one who is consumed with selfishness is content, and if they are, they are deceived or only momentarily content. They are like leaves in the breeze chasing something that is incomplete and void. They are chasing a very lie from the enemy and many are falling into this pit today, in America alone.

May God bless you on your journey ever closer to His heart, His ways, and His truth. Amen.