Fabulous Footwear

Lately my middle son is going through a shoe phase. Or I should say, a shoe LESS phase. Twice now we’ve loaded into the car, driven to our destination, gotten out… only to discover that the kid has no shoes on (insert the mom-face-palm here). This last weekend was especially painful, we were out of state at a wedding that three of the kids were in. We stayed one night at a hotel and, I kid you not, every.single.time Jonah left the hotel room he forgot his shoes. E-ver-ry tiiiiiimmmme people! By the end of the weekend I was seriously considering having him tested for a stroke or brain injury of some kind…

But I digress- today I wanted to talk about the importance of footwear… namely WEARING it but also making sure you have the right kind for each occasion. What style we have is dictated by the situations we know we’re going to be in. Soldiers wear boots, runners wear sneakers, hikers wear hiking boots; you wouldn’t find me in high heels on the beach for instance (actually you’d be hard-pressed to find me in heels anywhere… #momlife) but you get my drift. Anyone who has worn the ‘wrong’ shoes in a situation I doubt makes the same mistake twice.

WEARING shoes matters. It helps us actually get out of the house (or out of the car and/or hotel room in Jonah’s case). It protects our feet from harm so we can go do what we need to do,

WHAT shoes we wear matters. In many situations what we wear matters a great deal… it helps us do our jobs better (soldiers, firemen, flight nurses!), perhaps it enables us to be more efficient (runners), it protects us from injury or wounds (hikers). Keeping our feet protected and appropriate is vital to many situations- rarely is there a situation where no footwear whatsoever is recommended.

In real life we need shoes and we need the right shoes. In the ‘realer’ life, our spiritual life, we need shoes as well. Not only the wearing of them but the right ones for the mission field you’re walking within.

Ephesians 6: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand…. 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 

Dear ones we have to make sure we’re putting on our spiritual shoes, ones that will carry us on mission to wherever God has called us. The Gospel, this amazing good news of Christ’s forgiveness, is THE reason we’re leaving the house everyday. It is THE most important thing we carry with us minute by minute. We don’t leave our houses for work or school, the movies, the park, or running errands without shoes. Neither should we be leaving our houses without our feet fitted with the Gospel of Peace. Even moreso… the READINESS that comes from that Gospel.  A runner is ready with his sneakers, a paramedic is ready with her boots, a scuba diver is ready with his flippers, a ballerina is ready with her pointe shoes… at a moment’s notice, no matter what the situation calls for, they are ready to act because they have the proper footwear.

This amazing Gospel, knowing it, speaking of it, witnessing to it, proclaiming it, spreading it… fits us with spiritual shoes that are always appropriate for whatever situation we find ourselves in. 1 Timothy 3: 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 

Know the Gospel.

Be fitted with it’s readiness daily.

Proclaim it in your mission field.

Walk it out, bring it to the lost… and wear out the soles of those shoes winning souls for Christ!

A Change of Scenery

I’ve been doing a lot of gardening lately and my poor front bed has been begging for attention. It’s got several bushes that, although beautiful, were just planted helter-skelter thoughout the location; neither blossoming well nor growing as abundantly as they should. Don’t get me wrong, none of them are dying, none are not NOT blooming, none are really doing poorly.

They’re just not thriving.

And they’re not in a place where they can truly showcase their blossoms for the world to see.

I mean, I want traffic from a block away to notice them. The potential is there, but their location is not ideal.

So the other day, I did what all gardeners just luuuurrvvve to do- actually more accurately, I had my dear husband do it- I transplanted three of them to three different spots.

And all of a sudden they were NOTICED. Their blooms seemed more vibrant. They complemented the beds we put them in like they’d been there all along. And I swear two of them have doubled in size. I even had a few neighbors comment on them- asking where we’d gotten the ‘new’ bushes.

Funny how that works. Plants we’ve had since we bought the house, that no one has ever noticed, are now thriving.

And all because of a location change.

It was a good call in the gardening department for sure. But it was not without some effort. I’m sure if those bushes had voices, none of them would have been too thrilled about the transplanting process. Getting dug up, uprooted, pruned back, transplanted to a whole new location I’m sure is not the plants idea of a good time.

I can certainly empathize. Changes in scenery aren't always fun.

Last year God took something very dear to me. Rather He forcibly moved me out of something dear to me. Cutting my roots, digging up my heartstrings, transplanting me to a new place. To put it bluntly, it sucked. It hurt. It was unexpected. And I’m still working on re-establishing my new root system.

My change of scenery was not welcome and I certainly didn't like the new view.

These last few days even as I was marveling at how much better my bushes were doing, God has been gently letting me see the parallels.

I wasn’t doing poorly at my other location. I was blooming and growing. But the Master Gardener saw a need to put me in a new spot. A BETTER spot. One where I would grow better, blossom more, and glorify Him from blocks away more brightly.

And just as my bushes didn’t get a ‘say’ in their move, neither did I. Furthermore, they didn’t complain or question me as their gardener, so neither should I question or complain about where my Gardener plants and prunes me.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:4-6 ESV

Today I encourage you to know that God’s got this. He’s got you, your circumstances, your soil, your sun, your rain, your flower bed, your pruning schedule- all of it- He’s got a master plan for. It may not make sense. It may hurt or feel super uncomfortable. It may involve new locations, new people, new ministries, or new calling. He may prune away even good growth in order for you to more fully thrive. But it’ll be more than worth it.

So please don’t be discouraged. Please don’t question. Please don’t complain. Don’t wriggle or argue. My bushes didn’t do that to me so we shouldn’t either. Rather simply enjoy your new view and the wonderful, God-given change of scenery.

The Four Most Important Things Every Foster Family Needs To Know- Lessons From The Fostering Front

We recently took in and subsequently gave up two foster sons, all in the space of about 5 weeks. We loved a lot, we cried a lot, we prayed a lot, and boy did we learn a lot! Despite all the trainings and certifications, I wished that a few of these hard-won lessons had been told to us beforehand. As Gabe and I have reflected on everything over the last few weeks, as we’ve slowly brought our family back to normalcy (if there is such a thing), it occurred to me that getting what we learned out to the masses may not be a terrible idea. At the risk of being redundant, repetitive, too obvious, and re-inventing the wheel I’m going to assume that (like us) others may not have had these lessons taught to them anywhere in the vast fostering-world. So, without further ado, in no particular order, I give you my top four things you need to know but never have been told….

(To get a full-explanation of the entire situation, please read first blog of this set which sets the stage (and all the GodStuff that happened) for you.

It’s okay to say ‘no’.

Let me put it another way for those who don’t like to be negative- sometimes your best ‘yes’… is to say ‘no’. As most foster parents have no doubt discovered, there is no lack of calls to take kids. And despite the fact that we’d all take them all if possible- you need to hear from me (as I <clearly> speak for all authorities in this) that it is okay to say ‘no’ to some of these calls. I hate saying ‘no’, I know you do too. But I’ve come to find out that if my saying ‘yes’ robs someone else the opportunity to say ‘yes’ instead, if it disrupts my marriage, our family dynamic, my ongoing other ministries… then I’ve made the wrong call. Now don’t get me wrong, fostering at best will always be a <bit> of a disruption- children, whether bio or not, all tend to do that. Don’t misunderstand me… there will always be some stretching and adjustment that comes with each new placement. But if you’re already maxed- in time, energy, resources, bedrooms, carseats, finances, patience, etc. then ‘no’ may be a better and healthier Call. Kids need parents who have the time and energy to pour into them, love on them, lead and disciple them… an already stressed out mom or dad is not helping anyone. I’m giving you permission, here and now, to say ‘no’ if needed… and not feel terrible.

Discernment and prayer is key here as you seek God in who He wants in your house. Prayer is our go-to always for new placements. Sometimes He says ‘no’ to what would seem obvious great fits, other times He says ‘yes’ to the proverbial square-peg-in-a-round-hole placements. But let Him lead your decision-making, He won’t lead you astray.

You.Are.Not.Superman. It’s okay to ask for help.

I’m totally doing to pot and kettle thing here because I am the WORST at asking for help. I don’t know if it’s a subconscious pride thing or that it doesn’t even occur to me that I need it or maybe I’m just too freakishly busy to even have time to stop and ask… whatever the case may be- I’m sure some of you can relate. But I’m telling you right here and now that you not only will want help but you will have times when you need it (whether you want it or not.) Put away the cape and red undies and don’t try to be Superman- you’re not. Neither am I (hard as it is to admit!) So ASK .FOR. HELP. when necessary. There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing assistance in this fostering world. No one on the planet, especially those who love you, are expecting you to do all of it on your own. That’s an impossible task and one that no one is up for. So plan on needing, wanting, begging for help at times.

For those of you who still need a push- think of it this way. There are many people who are not called to foster but still want to support those who do (by the way, send them this blog on ways to best help you) By ‘never needing help’ (insert eyeroll..) you’ve robbed them of an opportunity to serve you and the Lord. Throw these poor people a bone… and maybe some laundry or yardwork to do….

Sometimes your part to play is short and temporary- and that’s okay.

Some placements are long, some are short. The average length in care here in Missouri runs around 18 months. We’ve had our current for 10 months, the last two were about five weeks, the previous before that was less than 24 hours, and somewhere in there we were placed with one that after four days of preparation we never did get. It varies- and that’s okay. I used to get super frustrated with unpredictable length of time. I’m a planner and organizer and not knowing is generally irritating and at times downright infuriating (can I get an amen?) but I’ve learned that there is purpose and a plan in all of it. Don’t ever feel that your time with a child is not without value. You are an important link in their chain, no matter how small, and each second you spend loving on that kiddo will echo in their hearts and in eternity (for more on that, read part one of this blog here). Spend what precious moments you have in the best quality ways you can, and leave the quantity to the Lord. You just never know what He’s cooking up for these little ones!

If it’s not working out, it’s okay to make the call and give them up.

If you’ve read the sister post to this one, you know that our last placement was short and not-terribly sweet. I struggled with coming to my limits and desperately needing to give them back. I felt like a failure, a horrible foster mom, and an utter fraud. I figured if we couldn’t keep these kids, who seemed on paper a perfect fit for us and us for them, then surely no one else could either. I was simultaneously prideful and completely ashamed of myself- a very weird place indeed to be.

I think I had unwittingly fallen into the slightly martyr-like mindset that many foster families do. We are doing great work. We have a worthy and admirable ministry going on. It’s usually rough, it’s always hard. And I fell into a trap of pride within the struggle. Once that decision to take them was made, we put our heads down, our noses to the grindstone, and we were gonna keep them until the end… come hell or high water. We were committed. In it for the long run. Ready to bear these little burdens until someone took them off our backs.

I just never thought I’d be the one to ask to have them taken off.

The best piece of advice a fellow foster-mom told me was that it’s okay to say ‘uncle.’ For my sanity, the sake of my marriage, the health and welfare of the other children we had… I needed to see the situation for what it was- which was not working or at least not working well- and make the call.

It wasn’t failure- it was honest. I wasn’t a fraud- I was human.

I really, really needed to hear that. Maybe you will too someday. If it’s not working, for whatever reason, it’s okay to make that call.

I hope these thoughts are ones that help release you (if needed) from so much of the emotional gravity that fostering holds. I needed to learn them for my heart and head and I’m so happy that we had people who had gone before to lead us down these paths. If you are a foster parent, I’d love to hear your comments on these or others you’d suggest- be sure to comment below!

Be blessed!

Flowers Among the Snow - The Untimeliness of a Timely God

For Those Who Live In Southwest Missouri, We Get To Enjoy Truly All Four Seasons Of The Year... Sometimes In One Day. I Kid You Not, This Weather In This Part Of The Country Is Downright Bipolar At Times. Case In Point, it’s March and it snowed last night yet it was in the 60s last week. It's Kind Of A Thing Around These Parts. Being March and with (supposed) warmer weather right around the corner All Our Bulbs And Flowering Trees have started sprouting.  It's A Welcome Sign Of Spring And Refreshment For Those Of Us Yearning For Warmer Days. Church was cancelled this morning due to the snowy weather and between our family’s pancake breakfast, a rousing game of hide-and-seek with the older three kids, and some school-work I stealthily slipped in (go me!), I was able to spend a few quiet moments looking at the snow on the new sprouts and flowers. It Was Beautiful To See The Juxtaposition Of The Snow Over The Flowers- And Striking Because We Don't See The Clash Of Seasons Like This Very Often.

THE BEAUTY OF THE VISUAL IS IN THE UNIQUE AND RARE PRIVILEGE IT IS TO WITNESS

SOMETHING THAT OCCURS 'OUT OF SEASON'.

THE PICTURE IS NOTHING SHORT OF MIRACULOUS AND CARRIES A CERTAIN SENSE OF

SUPERNATURAL TOUCH WITH IT.

Those of you who know me or have followed me for any length of time, know that I've Felt Quite ‘Out Of Season’ for going on 3 years now. God Has Me Planted In A Very Odd Place At A Very Odd Time In My Personal Life And Professional Career. In My Limited Capacity, It Makes No Sense, it’s generally uncomfortable, and I don’t particularly <love> the spot He’s got me in. And Yet I Know Without A Doubt That I'm Being Obedient. In Fact, The Doors That He's Had Me Walk Through Have Been Slowly Coming, Bit By Bit.. He Even Gave The Extra Grace To Spur My Spirit Very Early On That These Changes Would Be Happening. So It Is Not A Surprise... And Yet The Timing Is Still Utterly Confounding. The ministries He’s placed in my lap and other’s He’s taken out of it seem to make no sense.

I feel very much like those new, lovely little flowers… full of promise of beauty and purpose, yet bewildered by the temperature and scenery of my current spot. Ministries, especially my writing and speaking (which is so very, very my heart and desire) has needs-be been put on the back-burner to make way for another ministry that I <like> but is certainly not my heart. (Feel free to read more about our fostering and that whole situation here.) A second mission and heart I had and was doing as the medical director for Camp Barnabas God also asked me to put down and quit. I did willingly, but again, not without some questions about His timing.

Yes, I am very, VERY out of season right now. My head and heart’s desires have been put away and I’m doing my darnedest to be obedient to what God would ask of me instead.

Some days I’m pretty good, others I question. As I’m sure many of you do as well.

From the beginning of this season, with God moving me away from flight nursing on the very week that my first book Helicopter Mom was launching (believe me, the irony was not lost on me- read this original blog about that particular week…) There Is A Ton That Doesn't Make Any Sense About It, Especially At This Particular Time, But God Could Not Have Opened More Doors More Fully Than He Did. Being Obedient Was Easy Because He Made The Path So Clear... Even When The Instructions Were A Bit On The "Whaaaat?!?" Side Of Things.

I'd Like To Think That The Snow We Have Was Sent Just For Me As A Reminder Of His Sovereignty. The Flowers Don't Question When And Where To Grow, They Just Obey Their Instructions. The Snow Doesn't Argue With God That It's Too Late In The Season To Fall, It Just Obeys His Command. All Of Creation, Nature, The Weather, The Seasons... They Grow And Thrive, Come And Go... At His Command. Without Questions, Without Raised Eyebrows Of The Timing, Without Arguing That Something Is 'Out Of Season' Or Makes No Sense. As A Result, A Rare And Beautiful Clash Of Seasons Occurs- One That Stops People In Their Tracks To Enjoy The Scenery And Marvel At The Supernatural Hand That Brought Together Such Unlikely Events. I need to remember and use their example. It always astounds me how much of an example in obedience nature can be to us.

Today I Want To Encourage You Dear Ones, For Those Of You Who May Be Feeling Like You've Been Planted In A Bizarre Or Untimely Season. Search Your Path, If You Know You're Walking In Obedience Then Take Heart That God Is Using This Unique Planting For Something Greater... Something More Beautiful... Something Striking That The World Will Stop And Take Note Of. God’s timing is always perfect, even when it seems untimely. His path for you is always straight, even if it feels like a roller-coaster. His instructions to you always have a plan and a purpose and we would do well to obey, even in the face of incredulity.

For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

You Are Loved

I wanted to pause with you for just a moment today to tell you that I love you.
We may have never met. We probably will never get the chance. For many, oceans separate us and miles of land stretch between our hearts.

And yet you need to know today that you sister are precious. Your life has meaning and purpose. Your soul is priceless. You were not a mistake. You were fearfully and wonderfully made before the testament of time could start recordings it’s annuals.

You are beautiful!

You, dear one, are loved. By me. By others. By so many. But mostly importantly by our Great Father. You are remembered in the heavenlies hourly. The steps of your life, both easy and rough, are numbered by God Himself.

Today take a moment to relish in the fact that you are cherished, adored, lifted up, wooed, and worried over. Yes- you! All of us! The daughters of the Most High are keenly beheld and fiercely protected. Believe this. Close your eyes and inhale the goodness of the Father. Listen for nature’s worship of our King. Feel the warmth of His enduring and faithful love wash over you and inside you.

Have hope in the goodness of your Father, find resolution in the sacrifice of your Brother and Bridegroom, be at peace with the Spirit residing and whispering within you. You are not alone. You are a precious jewel in the treasury of the Most High and He does not take your existence lightly. Be entranced by the favor you’ve found. Lift your head high, walk with authority, kneel humbly, and know you are loved.

Mind Your Soil

Reading through Luke 8 today and the parable of the Sower I was struck anew by the visual of all the different kinds of ground that the seeds were scattered on.

“A farmer went out to sow seeds for a harvest. As he scattered his seed, some of it fell on the hard pathway and was quickly trampled down and unable to grow and became nothing but bird seed. Some fell on the gravel, and though it sprouted it couldn’t take root; it withered for lack of moisture. Other seed fell where there was nothing but weeds. It too was unable to grow to full maturity, for it was choked out by the weeds. Yet some of the seed fell into good, fertile soil, and it grew and flourished until it produced more than a hundredfold harvest, a bumper crop.” Then Jesus added, shouting out to all who would hear, “Listen with your heart and you will understand!”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:5-8‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Notice here that the seeds are good- always. They’re healthy, fruitful, and ready to multiply. It’s the soil conditions that vary and thereby dictate if and what quality of fruit is produced.

As a <very> amateur gardener I know that the kind of soil I plant in greatly affects the kind of crop I produce and the overall health of the plants over time. Gravel, rocks, weeds, the wrong pH, the incorrect pesticide, not enough or too much sun, not enough or too much water- all these things determine whether or not the plants not only grow... but thrive.

This passage today reminded me that the maintenance of our own spiritual soil is no less important. Though Christ was speaking specifically to the spread of the Gospel here, I think the metaphor can be carried well into our spiritual lives.

We need to intentionally and diligently keep our soul-soil healthy. The Word of God will always be sowed with healthy seeds, but we need to be making the proper adjustments in our soul-soil to ensure that as far as it is with us, the conditions for the Seed to thrive are present.

Is there enough sun (Son) in your life? Or is the shade of darkness hindering full exposure? Are there spots in your life that the Light doesn’t have access to? Those places will eventually die from lack of Sonlight. There are very few plants that thrive in darkness. So also there are NO souls that can.

What about making sure those seeds are getting regular and untainted (Living) water to drink? Without adequate watering, all plants eventually die. Watering them once a month doesn’t cut it. So also our souls need regular and filling drinks from the the Word of God, communication with the Holy One.

What about rock that needs removed? Unconfessed sin or addiction, idolatry and unrepentant hearts can lay like rocks in our gardens. Some are huge- too big to move ourselves. Others are small, tiny even- like gravel- but have worked their way into every corner of our soul-soil. Even small, the sheer amount of rocks to clear out can have the same effect as a huge boulder. Both kinds we need God to help remove. Seeds cannot grow and thrive when they’re competing for nutrients, sun, water, soil with other stuff. Our walk with the Lord can certainly grow to a certain extant with these rocks in our soil, but God demands more. He deserves more. He requires an undivided heart and a garden that testifies to allegiance to Him only.

And then there’s the weeding that all gardeners know is a necessary chore. Dear ones, daily spiritual weeding needs to become a habit for us. For just as the seeds of truth and Christ are being scattered over our soil, the evil one is scattering his own on the same land. In us. We need to be daily walking through the paths of our soul-soil and pulling out roots of bitterness, vines of envy and jealousy, ivy of laziness, weeds of discord, disunity, anxiety, worry... you name it. As we all know, certain weeds thrive in certain soil conditions. Likewise certain sins thrive in certain people. We all know what temptations we are prone to- and we should be especially on the lookout to uproot their beginnings within our soul-soil.

Daily, diligent upkeep results in bountiful and beautiful gardens. The same is true of our spiritual gardens. With regular maintenance, Sonshine, Living water, and help from the Master Gardener we too will thrive; overflowing our boundaries, feeding multitudes, showing beauty to anyone who walks by.

Dear ones I challenge you all today to mind your soil- today, tomorrow, and always. Be intentional in keeping your ground healthy and ready to receive His word. Start habits that promote healthy and abundant growth. May your garden testify to the Master gardener in your life. Amen and amen.

For Those Who Ache

For Those Who Ache

I imagine you feel like damaged goods. Like what little was there to start with is now irrevocably tarnished. So much so that you're not worthy of love or any goodness in life. People have started treating you differently- like your pain and wounds are just too much... too ugly... to big for them to handle. Right?
The pain goes too deep to root out the cause, the treatment to heal too scary to consider seriously. The worry and anxiety of such a burden that you carry is overwhelming and yet you are unwilling to put it down or even share the load.

You run. You hide. You numb. Picking your poison to flee from the pain and ache of all that has gone wrong.

And by now you’re convinced none of it matters anymore. You’re beyond help. Beyond attention. Beyond redemption.

Dear one- you need to hear that you are loved, treasured, precious, and accepted by so so many people. Your life, your sins, your wounds, all are worthy of notice, love, and healing. You are worthy of redemption. You are worth it. Even minute of struggle, every moment of regret, every bad memory, every hurt whether visible or invisible- is known by your Father in heaven and He longs to heal you.

You need to stop running from the pain and listening to the lies. You need to know that you have plans and a purpose in this life and this season of tremendous hurting will be redeemed by your Savior. The crazy thing is that He has already done it... but you need to accept the gift.

No longer numb- take your pain and agony, worries and anxieties to God. He is trustworthy and a safe shelter.

I am reminded as I write of a lyric from Oh Holy Night.

'The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.'

Sister, dear sister- hear me clearly- your night need not go on forever. Today is a new day, another morning to start anew. Take time now to make some choices- you need to put down the drugs, the drinks, the anger, whatever you're numbing the pain with- they're doing you no good and not stopping any pain in the end. You know this. They are the easy way out... until they're not. Rather take a step towards your Father and onto a road of supernatural and TOTAL healing. Healing that is complete and eternal. Healing that cannot be mimicked by anything or anyone this world will ever offer you.

“When you sit enthroned under the shadow of Shaddai, you are hidden in the strength of God Most High. He’s the hope that holds me and the Stronghold to shelter me, the only God for me, and my great confidence. He will rescue you from every hidden trap of the enemy, and he will protect you from false accusation and any deadly curse. His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you. You can run under his covering of majesty and hide. His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm. You will never worry about an attack of demonic forces at night nor have to fear a spirit of darkness coming against you. Don’t fear a thing! Whether by night or by day, demonic danger will not trouble you, nor will the powers of evil launched against you. Even in a time of disaster, with thousands and thousands being killed, you will remain unscathed and unharmed. you will be a spectator as the wicked perish in judgment, for they will be paid back for what they have done! When we live our lives within the shadow of God Most High, our secret hiding place, we will always be shielded from harm. How then could evil prevail against us or disease infect us?
God sends angels with special orders to protect you wherever you go, defending you from all harm. If you walk into a trap, they’ll be there for you and keep you from stumbling. You’ll even walk unharmed among the fiercest powers of darkness, trampling every one of them beneath your feet! For here is what the Lord has spoken to me: “Because you have delighted in me as my great lover, I will greatly protect you. I will set you in a high place, safe and secure before my face. I will answer your cry for help every time you pray, and you will find and feel my presence even in your time of pressure and trouble. I will be your glorious hero and give you a feast. You will be satisfied with a full life and with all that I do for you. For you will enjoy the fullness of my salvation!””
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭91 TPT

Find those God has placed in your life who know these dark paths well and who don't fear the monsters in the shadows. There are multitudes who have fought these fights and won glorious victories in Christ. Our testimonies should be a map of the roads we’ve walked. We will walk alongside you. You have many ready to fight with you. You are worth it!


Pause and Ponder

I wanted to catch a moment with just you, me, and a newborn baby this day. Just us. Together in a moment of time.

There are probably children playing in the background, wrapping paper bits scattered about, smells of Christmas dinner wafting here and there.

Or perhaps none of those- perhaps today is quiet or full of worry or sadness. Maybe an empty chair whispers of a loved one missing from it, maybe food is scarce, money short, or relationships strained.

It’s okay. We three can still be together for a bit.

Dear one, take a moment with me, whether happy or sad, whole or hurting- and let us pause life for just a minute or two. Like Clarence in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, I want to look back with you and ponder this day we call Christmas.

In this movie our somewhat hapless guardian angel is trying to earn his wings by helping a suicidal, broken, and stressed out man to see the good in his life- the impact his presence has made for others. Clarence does this by walking him back through a time that doesn’t include him- a time that has no knowledge or imprint of his existence.

Today I would ask you to meditate on something similar with me- but instead of yourself being the center of life, let us put the newborn babe there instead.

Can we for even a moment comprehend a life without the existence or imprint of this baby King?

Imagine a world without the Christ child- it surely looks different does it not? Suddenly all those lovely Christmas carols hold meaningless words, unmet promises, and heavenly lies hanging over an empty manger. A darkened world lays under a silent night that is just like any other. The thrill of hope remains a void in the world’s heart. The new and glorious morn harkens nothing of renewal or glory at all. In fact the morning after testifies to the same sin, death, destruction of it’s sister the day before. The world lays in sin and error pining... still. Forever.

Yes, surely without this tiny baby the world would be eternally lost. Pain and suffering would have no purpose. Loss and grief would find foothold in our hearts without any hope of the bitterness being healed. Sin running rampant and without answer. The hope of peace, the promise of heaven, Emmanuel incarnate... just... not there.

Ponder with me the impact the void of this Child would have in your own life. What paths of destruction might you still be on? What relationships still broken? What losses still deeply unhealed? What brokenness still manifest? What hopelessness for an eternity separated from our Creator!

Yes, truly without this baby we would have pasts with no redemption, presents without purpose, futures with no hope. Dear one, the significance of this occasion we celebrate and cherish cannot be overstated. Mary’s screams in childbirth still echo in eternity. The chasm that was bridged between heaven and earth as his little head breeched between her legs, in one instant, mended both time and space between God and man. The great fall now had a great Savior to soften the blow and ultimately catch the fallen.

So today, as our moment together draws to a close, let the words of Isaiah wash over you and bring you unabashed joy in the birth of our Savior.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9:2-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Unlike the movie, this Christmas story is not a fairy-tale, it’s not a fantastic novel, it’s not a fable passed down through the centuries. This is Jehovah deigning to be Emmanuel. This is a new chapter in the history of creation that started the beginning of the end of the story... a story that we are characters in so many years later. A story that we are both saved in and get to aid in. A story of a world that was completely lost that found it’s Savior in the form of a tiny baby boy. And in that moment, the cosmos past, present, and future shifted forever. What a marvelous thing!

Living Intentionally Fearlessly Truthfully
Merry Christmas my friends!
~Bethany

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