The Final Stretch

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35 Weeks!!

It was the first ultrasound that I went alone. Thanks to this crazy virus and it’s consuming fear, my husband wasn’t allowed into the office to see our son one last time in the womb. Still, James cooperated great, and here is one of those special pictures I will probably be staring at for the next few weeks as I await his arrival. 😊❤

God has been so good to me and I can’t be more blessed, even during this pandemic I get the constant reminder that God is with me and for me. And His Will? Is that this life should go on…that there IS a future and a hope, otherwise, why else would there be a baby boom happening amidst such times? This baby boom started well before any talk of a virus, and I personally know of over 10 people who are either pregnant now or just had their baby! It really is amazing.

Even as I type this, James is hiccuping steadily (he does this quite often) and is gratefully oblivious to the world he is about to enter. When I look back on these moments I don’t want to remember the looming shadow of covid-19, but the joy of carrying a new life within me. Each new day, he grows older, and I’ll never get a re-do, a chance to go back to this minute, hour, or day. To this moment.

God has been trying to tell me or remind me, that this is a time of joy in my life, and the devil has no power apart from what I give him. He has reassured me that everything will work out and this pandemic will pass quickly, that I have no reason to postpone “celebrating” all the good things He has blessed me with. Our son is a gift from God and I will give God honor and praise, even in the rain!!

The journey has been difficult, and I’ve had many moments where I’ve felt very alone, powerless, or afraid. It’s a confusing time and unfortunately, the complete truth has been unattainable. If I had to name this season I’d call it, “the unknown.” There is nothing that stirs up more fear in the human heart than the unknown. That is why as children (and even adults) we fear the dark and all that is unseen. We fear unexplored territories such as the deepest depths of our ocean, or the far reaches of space. All of these invite both danger, wonder, and fear because we have yet to turn over every rock.

It isn’t that we hope to find something sinister. As a child, running from a dark basement doorway, we never wanted real monsters or ghosts to chase us, we simply believed that they would. And how often were we wrong? Hopefully every time, right? Fear is a liar. And this lack of “knowing” has led to a worldwide panic that I must navigate with my sanity intact.

At my baby shower next week, there will be masks worn over smiling faces, some won’t come, out of this great fear, and others still will sit far away from one another. There is no judgment here or pressure on my end to make people forget. If anyone understands fear, it is me. I’ve had my own monsters to tackle over the years…I simply long to see everyone set free again.

Does the virus pose legitimate concerns? Yes, and for that reason, I want those who are afraid or at risk to do what they feel called to do. I just know that, deep down, this is a spiritual attack, just as much if not more than it is physical…however, God told me to keep straight on the path He has laid out before me, and that is what I intend to do.

My prayer is that those who attend the baby shower will find peace and rest, and be given a chance to escape if only for a while, this unknown world. My husband and I? we are going to celebrate, even if we are the only ones in the room. Because virus or not, James is coming soon and we aren’t novices in fighting an unseen enemy, as Christians, that is what we do, sometimes on a daily basis.

In life there will always be a certain amount of unknowns, I have yet to know what labor will be like, for example. But I have hope to counter the fear and uncertainty I face, that hope is in Jesus. He is with me tomorrow and today, He is making a way for me, and His promises are good. I trust in Him and want my son to grow up knowing that and experiencing that trust for himself. James is going to look to me and Aaron to know how far he can grow in his Faith, I want him to see that he can continually grow because his parents are doing just that.

My heart goes out for all of you, especially those who have had to postpone weddings, parties, graduations, and baby showers of your own. My heart breaks for those who have had to give birth alone, who couldn’t attend a loved one’s funeral, or who couldn’t be there at the hospital for a dying or suffering relative. Just know that if this feels wrong in your heart, that is because it is. We aren’t creatures of loneliness, and were never made to do any of this life apart. But take heart! Tomorrow is a new day, and no storm lasts forever, the sun is within sight now and we will taste the victory together!

May God bless you and guide you, may He wash away your fear and give you discernment instead. May you find an abundance of joy that can’t be explained, except by the power of Christ, and the unshakable hope we have in Him, in life and death. Amen and Amen. ❤

 

 

God or Humanity

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“The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There is not one of them which will not make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide. You might think the love of humanity, in general, was safe, but it is not. If you leave out justice you will find yourself breaking agreements and faking evidence in trials “for the sake of humanity,” and become in the end a cruel and treacherous man.” 

-C.S. Lewis

Humanitarianism was never in itself “bad.” In a world full of sin and destruction, a kind act,  from anyone, is highly sought after and deemed “good.” So why attack a humanitarian? Do they not work alongside the Christian missionaries to bring about world change?

The thing about godly traits is that they can be easily warped outside of Faith. Hence, what C.S. Lewis said above, that we can begin to do an evil act, sometimes without realizing it, all in the name of “humanity!” Be it seeking equality or justice, protecting minorities, or even in how we combat a global pandemic. The truth is, apart from God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we can start operating under this false sense of humanitarianism, believing that we are in the right and that we alone are governed by morality, while everyone else…well…is against humanity.

Fear for the preservation of life is an innate human quality. We were made to value our lives and to value the lives of others. However, again, if we remove God from the equation, that fear can become a monster, as I have seen demonstrated quite clearly in the last few weeks. Some examples?

Arresting people unjustly, neighbors and friends reporting others to the authorities for not maintaining quarantine orders (which vary state by state), fights erupting because someone “invaded” another’s social distancing space in line, masks being forced onto people and those without masks being labeled as “heartless and cruel,” businesses being attacked for trying to retain their livelihood, skate parks being filled in with sand, the right to freedom of speech and expression being attacked and deemed “nonessential”, churches being fined and pastors arrested, differing views being removed from social media….the list goes on and on…

Regardless of your stance on these matters, I think we can all agree that to a level, this has gotten out of hand. The “panic” is still at large and is turning many good well-meaning people into vipers. Many Christians have embraced humanity over faith, have forgotten what love looks like in the face of this worldwide fear. Weren’t we supposed to be the light? Whatever happened to “what would Jesus do?” Honestly, I feel like I’m surrounded by dictator-like humanitarians and very few Christians a.k.a “little Christs.”

And how can we stand to correct them? In their minds, what they are doing is right for the world and we are the ones who are labeled as selfish and unthinking for going against the tide. Just look at how the churches are being attacked, all it took was fear to change a nation, a world. Fear has turned a sanctuary into a breeding ground for disaster.

I admit that revivals are taking place and while many are turning away from their faith, many more are turning back to God. That this pandemic is opening eyes all around to the evil schemes of this world and is finally making people question the gov’t and authorities at work in their lives. All this is happening even while others do the opposite, giving away their freedoms so readily, believing in the news so easily when before they would have questioned what they heard and seen. I find it very unsettling how quickly we can turn back on our words and our very beliefs..actually, I think the heart of the problem is that we never really did “believe” and it took a pandemic to bring those unbeliefs to the surface.

So what is a healthy response to this?

To be honest, I’m still working that one out! How do I walk in faith, not fall for the lies and yet respect the fears of others? At what point do I fight for my freedoms and at what point do I relent? How much should I be protecting myself and others, and what is taking it too far and operating solely in fear? What do I believe and what do I question from statistics to doctors, to even the articles shared amidst friends? How should the church operate under these circumstances? At what point do we simply just do what we feel is right regardless of what others think of us?

These are just a few of the questions circling my head and up until this point I have tried to take a middle ground and have chosen faith above fear. I have respected the choices of others but haven’t relented to their fears myself. I have practiced good hygiene and have kept quarantined to my house except for church and occasionally the grocery store or doctor. I have kept clear away from the elderly and at-risk individuals in my family and have practiced social distancing in public whenever possible. I haven’t forced my presence upon anyone but have prayed for people’s protection and healing daily.

Despite this, many would label me as heartless and uncaring toward my fellow man. As if I must be fully adherent to every guideline set in place without question in order to be considered a thoughtful human being or member of society.

I’m not trying to sound offended, in fact, I am more disappointed than I am personally angry. It isn’t my job as a Christian to judge another’s convictions, nor to fight for the sake of my reputation, that battle is better left with God and is proven genuine by our actions. I’m disappointed that people aren’t thinking for themselves, I’m saddened that those I care very deeply about are living in constant fear and are suffering mentally from the toll of carrying it all alone.

I care about our country and our freedoms as well as caring about our health and the protection of those who need it most. I care about our economy and I care about the lives that have been lost, be it from covid or anything else, I promise you that death is not right and never will be. I care about those who are very alone right now, and how this whole quarantine might actually be doing more harm than good to them and their peace. I care about justice and equality, and I care about all those suffering from medical illnesses apart from covid that aren’t easily getting the treatment they need during this time. I care about my self and my unborn baby, as well as my own mental state which could affect my child as well. And I care about the truth, a truth that is more and more muddied and harder to distinguish, nevertheless there is freedom in truth and I long for the full truth to be made known to the world.

I refuse to submit to something I do not believe. I refuse to bow to something that doesn’t feel right in my Spirit, and I encourage every Christian reading to do the same. Your convictions may differ from mine, and that’s ok, so long as they come from a place of peace and not fear, you are bound to follow your convictions and I am bound to follow mine. At the end of the day, we must answer to God alone, and it is His Will and His Heart that should interest us, that should drive us forward on our walk. Condemnation is not from God, conviction, however, is. Do not be swayed by this world but remember that you are set apart from it for a reason.

Perhaps when this thing blows over we will all have a new perspective, a new appreciation for the things that God has blessed us with. Maybe we might even grow and mature in Christ and discover new ways to help others. Maybe we will realize that we could’ve done better, that maybe we cast aside our faith too quickly, or tried to do good apart from Christ for the sake of humanity. I don’t know…my hope is that at least, we all learned how to love a little deeper.

 

 

Don’t Throw in the Towel

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“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

-Joshua 1:9

I haven’t posted in a while, because quite honestly I’ve been unsure of what to say. It is strange to be in such a situation where basic biblical wisdom and understanding becomes muddied and difficult to determine. This is the first time in our lives we have faced a worldwide pandemic, or as Bryan Fischer of Focal Point so rightfully called it, “panic-demic.” What is the right response to such a foe? Is there really anything we can believe or discredit about such a new virus?

Perhaps it is time I step back and take a look at what I know to be the truth, before delving into all the mess surrounding this situation. Let’s list them:

  1. God is Good-this virus is satan’s doing and God’s Will is that this evil is not only defeated but transformed into good. (Already we see some good coming out of this-strengthening families, counting blessings, universal unity, self-sacrifice, people turning to God….the list goes on)
  2. Fear is a Liar-fear likes to masquerade under the title of “common sense”, when really it shuts down the mind, strips the Christian of his/her authority, and intimidates others who don’t share in the chaos. Fear is putting faith in the wrong power.
  3. Christians have authority-in fact, we are called to the front-lines at such times in order to defeat the enemy and reaffirm truth in the hearts of fellow believers and the lost. We are the bringers of hope and peace and there are many verses supporting that we have been given the authority to carry out the miraculous on the earth. A virus should be no problem.
  4. Follow your convictions-(Romans 14:1-23) talks not only about the importance of following your convictions (so long as they are by the spirit and unto the Lord), but the equal importance of honoring another’s convictions which may very well differ than yours. This includes someone’s lack of faith. Therefore we shouldn’t scold those who do not share in our convictions concerning the virus, it is our duty to do what we feel is right and not to judge another.
  5. Cling to Hope-Hope should always be at the core of who we are. No matter how dire the storm, our unshakable hope in Christ remains. It cannot be taken from us, though we can choose to give it away. Don’t join in the pessimism and doomsday talk, be hopelessly hopeful, believing the best over a situation or person. Our hope was never founded in circumstance, it transcends anything life throws at us.

As Christians, our duty is to honor and love one another. It is that simple. Instead, I see so many fellow Christians attacking their brethren for what they feel is a lack of personal conviction concerning the virus. Churches that have closed are pointing fingers at those who have remained open, and vice versa. Intimidation is at an all-time high as family and friends turn against one another in fear instead of building one another up in faith.

Tell me truly, what is more damaging? Is this virus really the cause of such discord? Has it really caused more damage than we have to ourselves in our fear-driven state of mind? I’m not downplaying the loss of lives here, any death for any reason is a tragedy and not the Will of God. All loss should be mourned from covid-19 victims to aborted babies and yet we have forgotten this very truth?

Babies are still dying, thousands are still losing their lives to the flu and many other illnesses/diseases/and medical conditions…even our fellow Christians are still being persecuted and killed, especially during Easter.

The fact is, we may never know the complete truth concerning this outbreak. And we have to still keep our heads despite this lack of knowledge. In life there are times we must be ok with not having all the answers, this may be one of those times. I get it, truly, the “unknown” leads to uncertainty and this can manifest as fear. Well, I’m here to tell you that you can’t throw in the towel to this fear!

Most of the time our fears are unfounded and quite misleading. Generally, experiencing fear is worse than experiencing the thing we actually feared. Our minds have a wild imagination and we easily imagine the worst-case scenario over the more likely one. However, when we needlessly fear we do give our imaginations power that they didn’t have before. Demons thrive on stolen power, and any authority they have is the authority that we give them. And so, by fearing we actually give ourselves a reason to fear. Yikes!

Lastly, I just want to share how Aaron and I have avoided fear and I want to leave you with the hope that this storm really is passing and will soon be behind us.

-If the news/Facebook/etc. isn’t life-giving than it is better to turn it off than to immerse yourself in it. There are other ways to get the news without as many biased opinions, though as I said before, it is almost better to unplug entirely at this time because no information is complete or correct and many if not all are quite biased and caught up in the “panic.”

-Be smart but don’t let fear control your movements. Whatever you do, do it without fear. If fear is trying to control you then take a step back, surrender it to God and move on. Memorize bible verses that build your faith and trust and recite these aloud when tempted to fear.

-Pray/Worship/Fast-even if you aren’t afraid or caught up in this war against the enemy, it is our duty to pray for the world and love our fellow neighbors. We are servants and God placed us in this world to transform it, not to wait it out till we go to Heaven. Or have we forgotten the prayer concerning God’s Will, “on earth as it is in Heaven.” Bringing Heaven to earth is the goal, and if successful this virus will have no choice but to die.

-Don’t cancel a thing! Reschedule if you must in order to respect others and the authorities in place, however, don’t mourn what you haven’t lost or admit defeat before you have even fought. There is still a long year ahead and satan isn’t going to rob you of it if you don’t let him!

-Reassess your priorities-that involves looking closely at your convictions and making sure that they are not driven by fear. Take this lockdown and start to bring your own “good” out of it. This is free time you won’t probably experience again to this extent. Make the most of it!

My heart goes out to you all and despite my words I do know what it is to experience moments of intense anxiety, fear, and loneliness. This is a difficult time, but we will prevail, and it is nearly over. Grow your faith, test your resolve, so that you can look back on this thing with joy and celebration instead of regret. God bless you all with peace, hope, and both spiritual and physical protection today and always.

And please, if you get the chance, pray for me. I want my unborn son to be proud of who I am, I want to demonstrate now, the kind of Christain woman/mother I desire to be. I know I make mistakes, I don’t always get it right, but I never want him to see me give up. I want him to surpass me on his walk with the Lord, and fulfill his own God-given destiny with as few obstacles as possible. Perhaps the obstacles I face and overcome mean less he will have to face and overcome on his own journey. If this is true, I will not relent, no, I will never throw in the towel. Amen.