The Silent Church

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“For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.” -John 13:35 [Passion Translation]

Jesus said that they (the lost) would know us by our love. That was the lens in which the world would identify Christians. Does this ring true today?

I’ve often marveled at the transforming power of mission trips. Particularly ones in which we leave the American bubble, and travel to a 3rd world country. People come back from such trips looking like they had encountered God in the flesh, dazed and overcome with the feeling that what they experienced was real and that what we have is counterfeit.

It isn’t as though God is more present in Africa or anywhere else, He is everywhere and just as accessible! Then what is the difference? Why is the church booming in places of persecution and poverty and stagnating or reversing in places of peace and plenty?

The answer can be found in 1 Corinthians 13. It is the chapter of love, recited often at weddings, this chapter fully encompasses not just love but God’s love. Or more accurately, that God is love.

With God’s love in your hearts, you can make a difference, without it, you can do nothing. With His love, you cannot be self-righteous or hold unforgiveness but in fact, are compelled toward believing the best in others, seeing them as God see’s them.

1 John 4:18 adds that there is no fear in love. Perfect love (God’s love) casts out fear.

Why is this important to note? Tell me this…if the church had this love would its reputation be what it is today? A reputation of judgment and pride? Would a church filled with hope and passion for the lost be so silent? So afraid to speak up?

” Perfect love casts out fear” (Fear of man).

The bride of Christ has failed to mirror the love of God. In countries where to even call yourself a Christian is a death sentence, this weeds out those who would merely claim the title without the faith to back it up. In those places to simply live and breath is to walk by Faith! The lukewarm cannot exist in these places, in America they do so cozily because we have yet to taste such a life of surrender and sacrifice. They know what it means to “pick up their cross daily and follow Him.”

I don’t understand how those who carry the truth are so unwilling to share it. Those who carry a shred of humanity and morality are too tightlipped to defend their ideals. Meanwhile, do you know who isn’t silent?  The wicked. They spread their slander and falsity with every breath and the world is being swayed by their words because they’re the only words being spoken in the all crushing silence.

The Republicans need to step up, cast off fear and remind this nation of its foundation. Christians need to open their church doors, they need to go out into the world and remind the people of the love of Christ that is freely theirs. We need to speak the truth in love and laugh at the devil’s attacks which prove he is afraid.

Jesus, our savior, is coming soon for his bride (the church). If your husband to be was coming after a long time apart, wouldn’t you do everything you could to prepare a home for him? Wouldn’t you bathe, dress in your nicest dress, adorn yourself with jewelry, clean, cook, and prepare a table for him? In expectant excitement, you would watch for him, not daring to fall asleep and miss out on his arrival.

The church is slumbering, the bride is neglecting herself and her duties. Does she believe she is in the right? Or has she grown weary of waiting for her groom? Whichever the case, it will not stop him from coming like a thief in the night, when she least expects it. His mind and heart have never wavered and his timing is always right. He’s been working and preparing a place for her, and His eyes have stayed wide with expectation and excitement.

In what state will He find His bride? That is entirely up to us. Up to you. We are the church, and it’s time to speak up.

 

 

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Early Pregnancy: What to Expect

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So I just found out I’m pregnant, now what??

If you’re like me, your mind is probably spinning with both excitement and fear. Don’t worry! Us expectant mothers are in this together, you’re not alone!

I saw my “double lines” just a few short weeks ago. Now, I am roughly 7 to 8 weeks pregnant with my very first baby. I’ve decided that although there are many blogs run by mothers and mothers to be, another couldn’t hurt! The pregnancy journey is different for everyone, and so I’ve decided to share my unique story in the hopes that it may help someone else. Also, if you are a first-time mom, I’d love to hear from you and pray for you! Please message me.  😃

So, 7 to 8 weeks in, what has happened to me so far? (men may want to skip this section)

Well, I first found out I was pregnant when my period, just…wouldn’t come. I had very mild cramping that kinda went on every day and would stop if I sat and rested awhile. It was as though I was going to start my period at any moment, but that moment never came. If you are experiencing this, I would just trust your gut and try a couple pregnancy tests to be safe. You will know when your body is acting out of character and there is a good chance that pregnancy is behind it rather than some hormonal imbalance.

Despite the normal mild cramping that comes when the baby is securing itself to your uterus (this lasted 2 to 3 weeks for me). There is also bloating, but slightly more severe and long-lasting than with period symptoms. Another very noticeable change is breast tenderness without the common lumping that happens around period time. This pain is more intense and all-encompassing. I hate to say it but this hasn’t left me just yet. Your body has a lot of changes to undergo and these can cause tenderness, cramping, and even a sensation of needing to stretch your stomach muscles. Also, expect your breasts to grow…rapidly.

It wasn’t long after week 6 that I started getting nausea. Thankfully, I’ve discovered the culprit. Hunger.

If I let my stomach be empty too long then I start to get sick, and that feeling increases till I’ve eaten something. If you want to avoid starting your days feeling like you have the flu, I would wake up a couple times in the night, maybe when you have to pee (most likely if you are drinking enough water, you will pee more frequently), and grab a bite to eat. Nothing hearty, just eat some saltine crackers and drink some water and sleep in a propped up position.

Nausea will still come reminding you when to eat again, but at least you won’t be vomiting level sick. This has just worked for me, I’ve come close to vomiting only once and it was because I slept through the whole night without a quick acid-reducing snack.

And when you go to eat any meal, although you should eat veggies, proteins, and fruit, if you are really struggling with sickness, just eat what sounds good, you will be glad you did. Some days I really know what I want for dinner that evening, and generally, it’s something filling and not entirely healthy. But, so long as you eat normal amounts, take your prenatal vitamins (I use chews instead of pill form), and eat right in the moments when you feel you can then the baby is off to a good start.

Just be aware that too many carbs or overeating will do to the baby what it does to you, add on pounds! So far, despite my change in eating times, I’ve managed to stay around the same weight because mostly I’m just snacking throughout the day. The only thing I feel I should cut back on is salt intake. Salty foods may calm the tummy, but not the heart.

Generally, I snack on saltine crackers and shredded wheat cereal for fiber during the night and early morning hours. That’s 2-3 times a night and no more than a cup worth, the goal isn’t to stuff, just to feel good enough to go back to bed.

In the morning you can eat a normal breakfast, or at least try and eat what’s normal for you. I generally take in my daily sugars in the morning or protein. You can have scrambled eggs or bagels. Or you can go the pancake route or quick oatmeal bar. Somehow I find that oatmeal cookies soothe my stomach.

Lunch, I typically eat something warm, like a ham and cheese sandwich, and once that’s down I can then snack on fruit with ease. Strange as it may seem, I’ve really been able to eat pizza or pizza bites without stomach upset. Not that you should go to that every time, but you will discover foods that your body just craves for no apparent reason, those are your safe choices when you aren’t sure if something will make you sicker.

Dinner is your heartiest meal, make it count so that you don’t have to eat again unless you prefer to snack on veggies or fruit. I usually eat whatever sounds good for dinner. I love chicken in its various forms, and, although I advise against eating too much of it, potatoes definitely taste good and stay in the stomach awhile.

The reason I advise against too much of anything really is that at this point in my pregnancy gas can be an issue, a seriously painful one. Just adjust accordingly. If gas becomes a problem, avoid potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, and brussel sprouts…and anything else that triggers gas for you.

In an emergency, I take Mylanta gas chewables. Just one seems to help break up the gas in the stomach for me. You can generally safely take Tums also if you can stomach them, for acid.

So, it might seem overwhelming, all these symptoms, but you learn to adjust to them just as you would anything else. Just remember, it’s temporary! As your baby grows and changes, so will you and your symptoms, at least that is the hope!

I suppose I will keep you posted on whether that rings true for me 😅 until then, I’d love to hear how things are going for you. Are you dealing with morning sickness? What ways do you combat those pesky symptoms?

If you haven’t already, schedule your blood test and your first visit with a gynecologist. Mine is today at 3pm! Wish me luck!

 

His Promises

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“It is no small thing to say that God is Good, and yet we make it so. Could you just as easily say that God has been good to me? It is one thing to say it, and another to experience it first hand. As for me, I can say both with complete confidence and assurance. God IS Good and He has been Good to me.”

 

I’m Pregnant.

6 to 7 weeks ago a new life was given to us. A life that now is growing arms and legs, 100 brain cells a minute, facial features, and may very well have a heart of its own. The cycle of life has begun, the clock has started ticking anew, and I get to behold this wonder called life.

Motherhood has been on my mind a lot lately, well before this miracle occurred. I work with children every week and often daydream about what it would be like to be pregnant, to surprise my parents, family, and friends with the news, and how great a father Aaron will be. It’s like I’m making memories before they happen, or even, making promises with myself, visualizing with my mind what I know will become a reality someday. Amidst the torrent of demonic attacks my mind has faced, this is one pleasant dream that he can’t touch.

I stared down at the test strip in my hand in shock. Aaron asked what was wrong and I just stared at him, a smile pulling at the corner of my mouth. “Two lines! That’s positive!” I said aloud, filling up with both excitement and, to be honest, terror. I’m pregnant, and as wonderful and amazing as that is, it is also a terrifying matter, a strange new territory that I have no choice but to embrace wholly and completely. My body is no longer just “mine”, nor will it be the same body I’ve always known and trusted. An irreversible change is coming…that will change our lives forever.

My family was ecstatic, my friends just as overcome with joy and support, advice, and already, “gifts.” My mom even made a shirt for me that says “coming 2020” with a pumpkin painted on the tummy region. I wore it all Saturday while out with the women of my family in Amish Country, noticing the small stares and smiles as people read it’s meaning. I’m no longer just Riley, I’m carrying someone else within me. Another soul, purpose, and destiny.

Almost constant nausea, bloating, cramps, soreness, and emotional swings haven’t changed my inward acceptance and love toward this new life. I was asked if, as a pregnant woman, I could better understand those who would get an abortion. And though there is a small part of me that understands the inconvenience of all these pregnancy symptoms (I mean honestly, I missed a day of work already due to morning sickness), as a mother…and yes, I am now a mother. I would give my life for this little ball of cells that I’ve never met, never seen, and have yet to even feel.

Why? That is what it means to be a mother. To fully accept that life begins at conception, just as we all began at conception. God has held the keys to my womb for over a year and He chose now for me to carry His newest addition to the world. He knew my child and everything about him or her before they were ever a dream or thought in my mind. I honor and value what He values. And I see all life as a gift from Him.

Our child will do great things in this world, and it is Aaron and I’s dream, that our ceiling will become their floor. We want our children to go even farther in their faith and walk with God, and experience even greater freedom, making their mark on this world, bringing Him glory. I am honored to carry the promises of tomorrow, to bring another warrior of God into the world, who will one day fight in my absence and continue the destiny God has placed on our lives as well as fulfill their own unique call.

God, thank you! I’m truly blessed! And I’m ready for this new season, prepare us, deepen us, grow us so that we will fulfill the plans you have for us and successfully raise our children to follow after you with all their hearts. May your will be done, Father, for you are good and your ways are true…always and forever, amen!