The Battles That Won't Go Away and The Savior Who Won The War

Want to know what is exciting about today? Ok, there's actually 3 things that are exciting about today:

  1. We have a working laptop that I am currently.typing.on. We've been praying and hoping and wishing for a laptop for months. Our computer is tucked away in the basement and our two year old is not exactly trustworthy upstairs on his own. So our to-do's have been limited or pushed off because our times without child are few and far between (especially for me). God, in His awesome wisdom and knowledge, showed us that we actually already had this "dream laptop" and it just needed a little tuning up. So here I am, on the laptop we already owned, and writing away in.... A COFFEE SHOP! (That's my #2)
  2. I'M IN A COFFEE SHOP!  (Ok, so I have a problem. It's called coffee. But I don't want to talk about it.) When asked what I would do for myself if I were given the time without child or other obligations my answer is always always always "Oh, I'd go to a coffee shop and read and write." THAT'S HAPPENING TODAY! Yay! Which leads me to #3...
  3. I'm writing. I've been wanting to write regularly for such a long time. Mom life is demanding and while that is not my excuse for not writing, it plays one part of many as to why I am not writing like I wish I were.

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The other day I taught a class on Galatians 5:16-17. This verse jumped out at me and spoke directly to the inner struggle I've been having most of my life, but have been acutely aware of as of late. The questions I ask myself are these:

"Laura, you are a woman who loves her Savior Jesus Christ fervently. You chase after Him. You rest in Him. You desire to be more like Him. You encourage others in the freedom they have available to them in Christ... and yet you do wrong. You give into this sin and that. You nit pick about your body, your attitude, your thoughts. You strive for perfection while constantly holding your life up against everyone else's as a rule by which life should be measured. You desire contentment and yet you strive to be perfect and for everyone around you to be perfect. You long for acceptance just.as.you.are. and yet your eyes continue to wander and seek the beauty in what everyone else has. Why do you think what they have is what you need? Where is Christ when you are giving into your false identity and lashing out at those you love? Where is the woman you know you are in Christ when the going gets tough and your attitude is challenged?"

This inner dialogue rages through my mind, sometimes quietly like an annoying hum and other times at seemingly deafening volumes. So when I came across Galatians 5:16-17 I was intrigued, relieved and confused.

"So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves. The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from conflict."-Galatians 5:16-17 NIV

Never free from conflict? Seriously? So the dialogue probably won't ever completely stop? Awesome.

But as I sat in that attitude of defeat I chose to read  bit of commentary on the passage. Matthew Henry says in his commentary on Galatians 5,

"That there is in everyone a struggle between the flesh and the spirit (vs. 17): The flesh (the corrupt and carnal part of us) lusts (strives and struggles with strength and vigouragainst the Spirit: it opposes all the motions of the Spirit, and resists everything that is spiritual. On the other hand, the Spirit (the renewed part of usstrives against the flesh, and opposes the will and desire of it: and hence it comes to pass that we cannot do the things that we would. As the principle of grace in us will not suffer us to do all the evil which our corrupt nature would prompt us to, so neither can we do all the good that we would by reason of the oppositions we meet with from that corrupt and carnal principle."

The perfectionist in me sort of wants to crawl in a hole and never come out upon reading this. We are set up for failure as far as the perfectionist is concerned. We will always have this battle being fought, flesh vs. Spirit, and while we know who the ultimate Victor is (Jesus Christ), the"other guys", or as we call them with our children, "the bad guys", will always be scrambling and striving for our attention and our worship, believing that winning the small battles will ultimately allow them toe victory over our souls. When we have the attitude that we are set up to fail we are taking the focus off of Christ, the ultimate Victorious King, and placing it on ourselves, our sin and on this side of eternity.

It's a reality, we aren't there yet, and so we are stuck with these bodies, this flesh and the sin that comes with it. But when we keep our focus on that sin and that flesh and that body we aren't having the mind of Christ. We aren't saying,

"Yeah, Jesus, my mind travels to places where you are not. It goes to the places of anger, of selfishness, of idolatry. But Jesus, YOU are King and Victor of my life, so once again I will take your hand as you walk me out of those places of self-preoccupation and into the bountiful places of Christ-preoccupation. You are not shocked that I'm here. You are not offended that I'm here. And You are merciful and gracious to keep ushering me back into the Spirit of Truth. May Your Name be praised!"

We can't get wrapped up in our failure. We have to get wrapped up in His victory, mercy and love.

I've been a believer for 14 years and I still need to be reminded that He is good in these things. That He's not the one expecting perfection here...

I am.

Matthew Henry continues to write, "where there is something of a good principle, there is a struggle between the old nature and the new nature, the remainders of sin and the beginnings of grace; and this Christians must expect will be their exercise as long as they continue in this world."

When the inner dialogue rages, that is where the remainder of sin meets the beginning of grace. Where the reality of salvation becomes tangible. And where Jesus is always waiting.

Paul says it best in Romans 7 when he says,

"14 This is what we know: the law comes from the spiritual realm. My problem is that I am of the fallen human realm, owned by sin, which tries to keep me in its service. 15 Listen, I can’t explain my actions. Here’s why: I am not able to do the things I want; and at the same time, I do the things I despise. 16 If I am doing the things I have already decided not to do, I am agreeing with the law regarding what is good. 17 But now I am no longer the one acting—I’ve lost control—sin has taken up residence in me and is wreaking havoc. 18 I know that in me, that is, in my fallen human nature, there is nothing good. I can will myself to do something good, but that does not help me carry it out. 19 I can determine that I am going to do good, but I don’t do it; instead, I end up living out the evil that I decided not to do. 20 If I end up doing the exact thing I pledged not to do, I am no longer doing it because sin has taken up residence in me.  21 Here’s an important principle I’ve discovered: regardless of my desire to do the right thing, it is clear that evil is never far away. 22 For deep down I am in happy agreement with God’s law; 23 but the rest of me does not concur. I see a very different principle at work in my bodily members, and it is at war with my mind; I have become a prisoner in this war to the rule of sin in my body. 24 I am absolutely miserable! Is there anyone who can free me from this body where sin and death reign so supremely? 25 I am thankful to God for the freedom that comes through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! So on the one hand, I devotedly serve God’s law with my mind; but on the other hand, with my flesh, I serve the principle of sin."-(verses 14-25 in the Voice)

Call me crazy, or selfish maybe, but I find a lot of comfort in knowing that Paul and I weren't necessarily too different in this area. He struggled. I struggle. And you struggle too. But pick your head up and I'll pick mine up too because it doesn't stop there...

"Therefore, now no condemnation awaits those who are living in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King, because when you live in the Anointed One, Jesus, a new law takes effect. The law of the Spirit of life breathes into you and liberates you from the law of sin and death."-(Romans 8:1-2 in the Voice)

You are not condemned. I am not condemned. Not only is He not shocked by this inner struggle (He knew what He was signing up for when He chose us, which makes it all the more incredibly glorious) but He does not hold it against us. He does not cast us aside because of it.

He liberates us. He breathes life into us over and over and over. Stop and take a deep breath. Really, just stop and breath. As you inhale and fill your body with new breath remember that He can and will breath new life into you in those dark moments of battle. His supply never runs out.

Glory! Halleluia!

So let's all choose to go into battle with one another, and recognize that we're all deep in the thick of it and not one of us is actually perfect or has it all together. The only One who is is Jesus. And He wants to show us "us" and how to be like Him.

laura b

Being Set Right - #freedomin15

freedom in 15 When Caitlin and I entered into this year-long commitment of receiving and experiencing the freedom we've already been given in Christ, I knew He would have some deep heart work planned for me. But that's how it usually goes for those of us who say "yes" to more of Jesus--we go in, guns blazing, with no clue of what's waiting for us as we venture in. I'm actually thankful for my ignorance otherwise I don't think I would always choose more of Jesus.

I entered into 2015 on the heels of some major loss and grief and weirdness in life, assuming that the worst was behind me, and that it was "safe" to give my boarded-up heart to my Redeemer to do some healing and setting right. I sort of laugh at myself, and the control I thought I had in this act of surrender. It wasn't exactly surrender, it was leaving my thumb and first finger gripped semi-tightly as I handed my wounded heart to God.

And the thing is, life has continued to happen, and because of that I've:

  • Exchanged regular practice time for regular study and reflection time.
  • Exchanged heart opening yoga postures for awareness and correction of my normal, every day posture.
  • Exchanged feelings of "rightness in the world" for questioning how things are the way they are.

See, all of those things I thought I'd do and feel as I ventured in were all within the realm of my own understanding. His realm of understanding is remarkably larger...

I taught this morning on 4 things: He is our protector. He heals our broken hearts and binds our wounds. He is still good. He is still God. I need all 4 of these things. I need to drink them in, have them hit me hard like a wave, and surround me and seep into me like the water does when I'm fully under it. But one thing stuck out to me as the Spirit moved and spoke today:

As he wraps up and binds my wounds, He needs to first set them right. The way I saw it in that moment is that in the midst of heartache there are two options: let the break heal as is, and heal incorrectly creating dysfunction in how life is lived thereafter, or let the wound be set right, so that it can heal as it was originally intended and go forward in victory and in wholeness and restoration.

When I entered into this year of asking my Papa to heal my heart, He knew He needed to do the painful work of setting some things right first. He needed to break some things so they could be moved and changed into their original design.

I began to question the other day if I should keep teaching, or if I should take some time to heal. But the Spirit kept telling me to get on my mat. So I planned a heart opening class this morning and practiced as I taught. At the very end of our active practice I ended us in a forward fold with heart opener, the very same pose I began my year of experiencing freedom with... And guys, I sunk into that pose like the comfiest of sweaters... Like the most perfect embrace... Like my heart felt safe to come out of hiding. I can't explain the feeling beyond saying that it felt like home. A smile crept across my face and in that moment I knew what He's been doing all along.

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Setting things right.

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"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."-Psalm 147:3 (ESV)

It's hard. It hurts. Sometimes I want to yell out in pain and sometimes I want to drown myself in silent tears. But I remember that He hears my cries and He collects my tears, so in whatever I do, it is all for a greater purpose--becoming more like Christ and less like Laura. Nothing is wasted.

I'm totally ok with that.

So if you're joining us on this year of Freedom in '15, let me encourage you to keep letting Him do the hard work of setting things right. Keep leaning into Him, in all the unbearably hard times, and reach out and ask others to lift you up when you can't do it on your own. It takes a room full of people to perform surgeries and fix bones... It's no different in the spiritual surgeries either. He's equipped some awesome people around you to assist Him in creating a good work in you.

Keep placing one foot in front of the other, friends.

laura b

If you are joining us on this journey we would love to see your progress or your postures you hope to find and experience space and freedom in. You can post them here or join us on Instagram by tagging #freedomin15.

My "Ocular Migraine" Season

receivingF Yesterday began like most Mondays--up by 5:45 and out the door to teach Holy Yoga by 6:15. As I drove I prayed over the Truth God had given me for these students on this day, but also noticed how fitting it was for my current season/struggle/wrestle match with God.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." -Hebrews 13:8

You see, I'm entering (or I thought I was first entering... Turns out He's been prepping the soil and gathering the tools for a long time) into this year choosing to receive and experience the freedom Christ gave me on the cross. When I wrestle with my insecurities, specifically with my body these days, it's easy to think I'm wrestling because I'm trapped. But really, it's sort of like how my son wrestles with his lifeless stuffed animals in his bed. He's grunting and thrashing and wearing the wrestle face like a WWE champ, but he's doing so with powerless beings. I'm wrestling with insecurities that have as little power over me in Christ as the stuffed batman has over M. So this uncomfortable season is always on my mind. A wise woman I know challenged me in considering that these deep things are coming out in a "purging" process of sorts. So I accept that--He needs me to really see how deep these things go so we can remove them one by one. Together.

Back to yesterday. I pulled into church, ready to rely completely on the Spirit as I felt ill-prepared (as per usual) and I read a sign. You see, since I was a kid I've randomly gotten Ocular Migraines. They come on quickly and they are completely random. And they almost entirely wipe out my sight. And every time the plans for my day are kidnapped by said migraines, it always begins with the reading of a sign... and then realizing that I, in fact, can't read the sign at all.

That afternoon, after recovering from the less than enjoyable events of the morning, I spent some time praying about life... About this purging process... And about this season of unknowns. You see, so much of life is like these migraines. Unwanted, unexpected, debilitating and yet familiar.

Wrestling with The Lord over my insecurity is not uncharted territory--we've been here. Many times. But it's still hard. This season was not expected. It feels debilitating in how I live with and love those around me. And it's familiar. And in all of that Jesus Christ is the same.

The same as He was yesterday.

The same as He is today. 

And, spoiler alert, He'll be just as good, faithful, strong and loving for all the rest of my tomorrow's.

If you're facing a migraine-type situation, one that's familiar and leaves you somewhat blinded, remember Hebrews 13:8.

He's the God of the mountaintops and the God of the valleys. He's not the one who changes from location to location; we are. And we get to find so much comfort in the steadfast character of our King.

 

laura b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

freedom in 15

Some Day-Three Advent Thoughts

SRT-Advent_instagram_day3 I decided to participate in the Advent study which has been beautifully provided by an incredible community of women that call themselves She Reads TruthWhile I grew up Catholic and found the saving grace of Jesus when I was sixteen, I've never understood nor participated in Advent before now. What's crazy to me is that this is totally my thing--studying, meditating and preparing for a big celebratory event like the birth of my Savior is completely my bag. So how I've gone so long without this I'm not sure.

After studying yesterday's chosen passages, I came away with a full heart and wide, love-filled eyes. Man does God love us! His Word proves this time and time again. I thought I'd share some of the insight in the hopes that it could start a conversation, if even just between you and the Lord.

"The people who walk in darkness

will see a great light;

those who live in a dark land,

the light will shine on them.

You shall multiply the nation;

You shall increase their gladness;

they will be glad in Your presence

as with the gladness of harvest,

as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

For You shall break the yoke of their burden,

and the staff on their shoulders,

the rod of their oppressor,

as at the battle 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 a child will be born to us,

a Son will be given to us;

and the government will rest on His shoulders;

and His name will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,

on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it

with justice and with righteousness

from then on and forevermore.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this."- Isaiah 9:2-7

"The people who walked in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them." Upon reading this verse I couldn't help but begin to ponder what my life would look like today if I didn't have Jesus. If the Son of God hadn't been made fully man and fully God and completed the joy set before Him in taking on the punishment for all sin, what would my day to day look like? Feel like? Seem like to others? See, I know what my life looked like before Jesus, some thirteen years ago, but what would it be like today, at 29? Friends, this is a scary thing to think about and is also a glorious thing to think about because, glory be to God, those things cannot amount to anything more than a thought! Hallelujah!

"... you shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide their spoils." He came not only to pay our penalty--but to replace fear, guilt, shame, temptation and frailty with an ever-increasing supply of gladness. As I read these words my brain began to hurt because I began to travel down the path of fathoming (or trying to anyways) the reality that the joy I will experience in the times to come will be greater still than the joy and gladness I've already experienced thanks to Jesus. Does that make sense? We think ahead to our futures and comprehend a degree of joy will come our way in various seasons, and even in the day-to-day mundane. But according to this verse, we have a greater amount of gladness awaiting us because His nature is for the joy He brings to do nothing but grow. Am I the only one who can't not smile about this?!

"For you shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian." We punish ourselves. We shame ourselves. To the degree that our physical form is altered. Check out the typical American's posture--you could almost imagine a staff across their shoulders. While there may not be physical weight, there might as well be the weight of the world. It's like when a person has lost a limb or a part of their body and they begin to have phantom pains. We are so used to living with something, and when it's gone we keep on going and feeling and living as if it weren't. The same is true of the staff given to us by our oppressor to weigh us down. But right now, I can sit up straight, draw my shoulders down and back, let my head soar high above my shoulders allowing my neck to un-bury itself, and truly stand up tall--because that rod was busted a long time ago. For real though, can I please get some sort of amen on that one?!

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."

Humor me for a second-

Wonderful: Extraordinary--hard to understand

Counselor: To advise, consult, give counsel, purpose, devise, plan

He is our extraordinary advisor. He gives us a purpose and plan that might sometimes be hard to understand but is always extraordinary.

Mighty: Strong, mighty, strong man, brave man, mighty man

God: God, one true God, Jehovah, strength, power

He is our brave Jehovah. He is our Mighty Strength. He is our Strong God, complete in power and truth.

Eternal: Perpetuity, for ever, continuing future-- ancient (past time), for ever (future time)-- of continuous existence

Father: Head or founder of a household, producer, generator, of benevolence and protection, ruler or chief

He is our continual Protector. He has been and always will be the Head--this position will never be eliminated. His role as your protector and ruler will continually exist--it will never fade or disappear. Many fathers disappear from their roles, but Jesus never will--He cannot. He is eternal.

and now my favorite one...

Prince: Leader, captain, warden, head, overseer

Peace: Completeness, safety, soundness, welfare, health, quiet, contentment, friendship and peace (from war)

He is the Captain of our Completeness. Do you get that? His charge, His aim, His job, is bringing us true peace: contentment, safety, soundness, quiet, friendship... He is the overseer of these things in our lives and Jesus came to be called the Prince of Peace because His passion is to show us what true completeness, welfare, health, quiet, safety and soundness looks like. He guards these things as a warden guards his prison. He is the ultimate decider or His peace, and He chooses to give it to us.

GLORY GOD!

Please take a moment and let those titles sink in. We read them and only digest what we know of each word--but once you open them up to their entire meaning His role and the reason why He came becomes ridiculously bigger.

"There will be no end to the increase of His government or of His peace..." His rule in our individual lives, and over this falling world, is doing nothing but increasing. The peace He offers is doing nothing for us but increasing. It's growing. It's becoming greater. and greater. and greater.

As you prepare this advent season know that He didn't just come to carry our burden of sin. He came for so much more and He deserves all adoration and praise for each and every thing as He reveals them to us.

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If you'd like to follow along with the She Reads Truth community PLEASE jump in. You will be blessed. They can be followed on instagram and you can easily download their app on both iOS and Android.

Swapping Trolls For Truth

My heart has been heavy these days. There has been several little troll-like thieves rummaging through my heart and mind, taking the Truth and leaving in it's place little poisonous mines for me to trip, setting off bombs that seem to take me longer to recover from than I'd like to admit.

Troll #1: Comparison.

Troll #2: Doubt.

Troll #3: Defeatism.

If you were a kid in the late 80's/early 90's than you may have had one (or many like me) of these:

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So cute, right? The little gemstone belly buttons, I mean, come on. That combined with their matching mood-lifting florescent hair is almost enough to make you forget that they are trolls. Weird looking, and really actually creepy, trolls.

Most of the time, as I'm living in little "t" truths, these are the guys managing my mind and heart like a factory. Producing the best of lies so that I might continue my life under the cloak of despair, only living in a sliver of the freedom and redemption that He paid for on Calvary. Because they are cute I don't fight with abandon to get rid of them. But I know they are there and shouldn't be. I know that Truth is being replaced and so I begin to seek it out; to find what has been lost. There's awareness that something is not right.

After piecing together thoughts, Truths and the whispers and booms of the Holy Spirit, it all begins to make sense. Truth, like BIG "T" TRUTH, floods my mind and I immediately feel like this:

 

 (If you watch Sherlock **If you're not you should** then this makes a whole lot of sense to you)

All the clippings, the Truth's, the sightings of reality and original design, coming into alignment. And the trolls are out of the job. They are seen for what they really are. Trolls. Trolls that don't actually have gemstone belly buttons or magical hair. As a matter of fact, their hair is probably the second grossest thing about them.

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Days and revelations like this are why it is so important for us to have fellowship, discipline and, most importantly, regular time with Jesus. Unless we keep pinning up Truths on the walls of our hearts and minds, those trolls will keep working hard at replacing them with lies. And it's so crucial that we have others that we invite in to pin truths up for us when we can't lift our heads to find see them ourselves.

Mediate. Find a passage or two and med-i-tate. Mull. Chew. Sit with it and feel, smell and taste all that it is.

Want to know what I'm chewing on today?

May He keep us centered and devoted to Him, following the life path He has cleared. -1 Kings 8:58

and

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. -Acts 2:28

We always want to know what we can do or take to make our life what we want it to be. Just a quick fix, please, Lord. But today, let's slow down, fire the trolls, and meditate on His Truth. Let's begin to build a fortified wall around these sacred places in us. Brick by brick. Truth by Truth.

Remember, again, that the "today" in this journey is just as important as the "one day".

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Sugar God- Call A Spade A Spade.

Before I sat down to write this, I polished off a little bowl of trail mix. Not so bad, you say? Well noshing on M&Ms before 11am is not exactly a winning way to start my day. Just because there's peanuts and raisins mixed with them doesn't make them any less sinful. Let me just clarify something here- Eating M&Ms is not a sin. I find this topic to be very similar, if not spot on, with Jesus giving perspective to adultery and murder.

We say, "It's not like I killed anybody." He says, "I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder."

We say, "I've never cheated on my spouse." He says, "Don't think you've preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices-- they also corrupt." (verses from Matthew 5 of the Message)

I say, "I only worship the one, true God. I have no other idols before Him." He says, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mk 8:34)

And to this I ask myself, "How willing am I to die to this desire of my flesh?" Because for me, this is not just a matter of occasional indulgence. This is something that, more often than not, nearly consumes my thoughts, and definitely drives my actions and attitude. So it no longer becomes "sugar" that I need to die to but the idol of self-indulgence. The "right" to call the shots and "satisfy" myself whenever I want.

And that right there, friends, is the unveiling. The moment when something "common" and "not that big of a deal" is seen for what it really is--something that takes the place of worship in my heart and mind.

So, am I willing to die to those yearnings. While the sugar itself may or may not be horrible for me, it's a question of obedience. Will I place Him first before self-satisfaction? Will I believe Him to be of greater worth and satisfaction than that which my mouth can taste?

We are asked to give things up not because we have a power hungry God. We are asked in order that He may see where He can go with us. How far down this God-glorifying life can we travel? Because unless we die to ourselves and our desire to be glorified, He will not be given glory.

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So where do we go from here? This week, check out these verses with me and see what the Spirit has to say about them to you. Because we all know this is bigger than the over-processed white crap in our pantries. As are most things, it's a matter of the heart, and our hearts are deceitful above all things, so they need a good talking-to on the regular.

1. Matthew 7:13-14: Our culture relies heavily on the latest fad diet to get us ripped quick and wafer thin by Sunday. What if, in this, we took the narrow road? What does that idea look like for you? Is cutting out sugar the "narrow" or "wide" road? Does the idea of digging deeper bring about feelings of anxiety or a welcome challenge?

2. 1 John 5:19-21: Take a moment, close your eyes, breath, and whisper to yourself, "I am a child of God." Do this over and over and over... and over. Do this until your mind begins to open up to this holy truth. Then read this passage again. What understanding has He given you regarding this little idol? Ask Him to show you what your body is really yearning for that sweets are simply numbing temporarily. Ask Him what you can do now, today, to keep yourself from the idol and nearer to your King.

3. Mark 8:22-24: Believe your God. Believe that He is for you. Believe that He is more satiating than the most decadent of desserts. Believe that, even if it's every 45 seconds, He will hold your hand as you say "no" over and over and over again. Meditate on this little treasure and as you face the "lions" in your kitchen this week expectantly ask Him to show up and, with dukes raised, help you knock the temptation out. Because He actually does care about these things. These types of things are not below His level of concern. When it comes to His son or daughter, any and every level is of His concern.

I would really love to hear how this goes for you this week, and I will share how it goes for me. And know that, even if tomorrow is another day that includes M&Ms before noon, there is no condemnation there. This is much more than that and He's not interested in shaming for a handful of sweets. He's interested in lifting our eyes so they are fixed on Him and not what's hiding in the cupboard.

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Day 28: The Goodness of His Word

Image-1 (9) "With my whole heart I have sought You, inquiring for and of You and yearning for You; Oh , let me not wander or step aside [either in ignorance or willfully] from Your commandments... I will meditate on Your precepts and have respect to Your ways [the paths of life marked out by Your law.] I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word."  -Psalm 119:10,15-16 AMP

I can safely say that as I have brought myself to God's Word, laid my selfish heart and bustling mind before the Lord, and let the words ruminate and change me from the inside, I have experienced an intimacy that I've not found anywhere else. That's the thing about God's Word -- it's the only book that will physically, emotionally and spiritually change you through and through. The thing is, it's not magic. It's not a quick fix, like we westerners like so much. That's the draw of so many books these days. How to get a better husband, how to overcome past hurts, how to find intimacy with the Savior... well, I've got news for you- the answer to everyone one of those things begins in your heart and are found in God's word.

I think this passage in the Amplified version is so beautiful. There's an eagerness there, like a child who delights so purely and unashamedly in the words of their parent. In verse 16, the word "delight" means to blind oneself or to smear eyes shut. Think about a time when your husband might have said to you such loving words that your face flushed and you placed your hands over your eyes because you just couldn't even believe they could be true. You delighted so much in hearing of the adoration he had for you that you had to close your eyes to take it in, even for just a split second. To this day, when T tells me how beautiful he thinks I am, I cannot help but to squeeze my eyes shut to take it in and delight in the reality that it's true. This is how the psalmist delighted in God's word. How cool of a picture is that?

My prayer for my husband and yours today is that they would grow to deeply love the Word of God. There is no fulfillment in anyone else's words but His. May they develop in them a ravenous hunger for His Word and an ability to chew it over and let it seep into the deepest parts of their souls. That the greatest delight in their life would be spending time getting to know Him through His Word.

May you yourselves develop a ravenous hunger for His truth too, dear wives.

-Laura

Father,

Your words are beautiful. Never will there ever be words as life-giving as yours. With them you have presented all of your children the opportunity to delight in how loved they are. It is the loveliest of love letters, the most cherished of laws and the glorious life-changing message of salvation. God, there is such an opportunity to fall deeply in love with you found in those words and today I ask that my husband would see that and grab hold of  it. Lord, continue your relentless pursuit of his heart and allow him to know that love by knowing your word. Show him how to slowly chew it over, allowing his soul to taste every bit of it and to digest it into every fiber of his being that he would be strengthened by it. Allow that strength to prepare him to bring your word out into the world, continuing to build that solid foundation in him. And in the quiet moments when he may feel you are distant, allow that truth to speak loudly, reminding him of how deeply and truly you love him. Breath your life into him, every day, as he carries himself and his sins and burdens to the foot of the cross, and show him the delight he can have in your truth, because you delight in him. Father, we will never be able to thank you enough for the gift you have given us in your word, but forever we will try. We just love you so much, and are so thankful for everything that you are and have done for us. We offer our lives, our marriage and our family to you, Lord. Please Father, be glorified in them all.

For Your name, Jesus.

Amen.

Day 19: Holding On To What's Good

Image-1 (4) "Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil." 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Seeing as tomorrow is day 20, and I plan on writing a lengthier post on a specific subject, I thought I'd set the stage a little bit today. I found this verse and as it tugged on my heart I caught myself molding and shaping it into what I wanted it to speak regarding my blog subject. Turns out, no matter how hard you try, God's word is HIS Word. We can't change it to fit our desires, and that, dear friends, gorgeously brings me to the truth He has asked me to share today.

Verses 19-22 in the Message translation give us a better understanding of the true message behind these words of the Apostle Paul's. "Don't suppress the Spirit, and don't stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don't be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what's good. Throw out anything tainted with evil."

For most of us, we live in the land of plenty. Plenty of objects to own, food to consume and soap boxes to stand on. There is no exception to this in the realm of Christianity either. We have a smorgasbord of men and women who are stepping out in faith (I hope) and proclaiming God's truth (I pray). The sad reality is that not all are from the Spirit. Not all are doing the work of the King of Kings. I am not the one to ask who these individuals are, because truly, when it comes down to it God and ONLY God knows. We can read blog after blog and never know the depth (or lack thereof) of a person's heart for the furthering of the kingdom.

As our men lead us, our children, and other believers around them, they need a sensitive spirit. They need a willing ear to hear the nudge of the Father that says, "Check that out." " Bring that against my Word." Or the merciful hands that wrap around them and say, "My child, this IS who I am. Open your eyes to see for the first time." Because wives, this can go either way. We live in a very cynical culture, and I will be the first to admit that I am usually on guard to most everything. I believe that is what we are to be, as Paul instructs us, but there must also be room to admit that we might not have God totally figured out. There just might be sides of Him He hasn't shown us yet because we were too infantile in our mindset to truly see Him.

So today, carry your husband alongside me as I carry mine, and let's ask our gracious Father to immerse their hearts and minds in His wisdom and to grow them in their discernment, that they may lead us down the path of Truth... the one that's a lot less traveled and takes a lot more strength and awareness to continue on.

Peace to you in whatever you are facing today, dear women.

-Laura

Oh Sweet Savior,

Your grace is boundless and your generosity never runs dry. God I am so thankful that you have chosen us for this time and this place, but Lord I recognize the need for discernment here. As in the years past, there are people among us who desire to bear a false witness, who desire to drive others away from you by proclaiming a very false gospel. As you grow my husband in his depth of knowledge of you and his love for you, I ask you to make his spirit sensitive to your truth. Holy Spirit, move in him in each and every instance where he may perceive information incorrectly. Impress on his heart the need to test everything; to bring everything before you, allowing you to open his heart to new sides of you and to dispel anything that is not of you. Make him strong in this, Lord, that he might lead me in the truth, and test my convictions and my knowledge so that I may not be led astray. Create in him a spirit of conviction and remove any timidity in this, that our children may see him as a source of wisdom in their lives; someone who will always bring them to the truth. I pray that this may become a place of intimacy in his relationship with you, creating a special bond between Father and son. Your beauty is incredible and we will never stop being amazed by it. Continue to reveal yourself to both of us, Lord. Open our eyes to new parts of you that we may have never been ready to see before.

Because of your goodness Lord, I pray these things.

Amen.

"Yes" be "yes"

There's nothing quite like sitting down, feeling light and full of the Spirit's word, and then getting smacked with your sinful nature. Here I sat, excited at the opportunity to write while M gets the last of his nap, as I sped through the usually lengthy warming up of my very old macbook. Even more excited, as the technical side of things was looking up, I logged into my site... and wouldn't you know, ten minutes later, lots of long deep breathing and prayers unceasing, my little old buddy managed to stop showing the spinning rainbow wheel and allowed me access to share these feeble thoughts of mine. "Oh how kind of you, sweet little white MacBook. Please don't take it personally if you find yourself out on the curb one of these days."

I have to laugh. This is such a picture of our lives. Riding high on the love of the Lord and the truth of who He is and then something as small as a technical error brings about our sin nature faster than an exploding gasoline truck in a head-on collision. Or maybe it's just that fast and intense for me. As sweet and kind and gentle as I may painstakingly try to appear, my tendency lies more in the area of anger, irritability and carelessness. But we all have our things, right? That's one of a bazillion reasons why we need grace. Every day. All day.

Well I've had a small little passage on my mind these past several weeks. The fact that it's been residing for so long in my mind and not being shared with the world goes to show my willingness to try to be less selfish... I don't want to.

Ok, obviously I want to, but what my soul wants and what my "self" does are usually two very far-apart things. Several weeks ago we were going over the Sermon on the Mount in BSF. We read a verse I've read about a hundred times, but in discussion a fellow classmate shared an alternate version of the passage and I haven't been able to shake it since.

"Simply let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no', 'no'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." -Matthew 5:37

I don't know about you, but in my circles I don't find myself making many oaths. When I think of myself saying "I swear" I'm brought back to my Jr. High locker bay and swearing to my friend that the boy she liked asked about her. Or that I swore I wouldn't share her secret crush. Or asking my best friend if she swore my permed hair didn't look and smell too awful. (That actually happened. The night of a formal dance at school, where I knew I would be dancing with my long-time crush. Who's idea was it to get a perm the day of a potential slow dance sesh? Sigh... Oh high school and your drama. Glad to be rid of you.) To be honest, I don't do much of that these days so this verse has always been a lesson in future instances where I might need to swear on something. My classmate shared the Message translation of this verse and it gave it much more life and applicability.

"And don't say anything you don't mean. This counsel embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying 'I'll pray for you,' and never doing it, or saying, 'God be with you,' and not meaning it. You don't make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say, 'yes' and 'no'. When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong." -Matthew 5:33-37 MSG

So.... what can I say after that? How many countless times have I, in hearing of another's difficulty, said, "Oh man, I will be praying for you." and forgotten about that oath within seconds of departing? I'm ashamed to say this happens on the regular. But here is the problem: I never intentionally tell a person that I will lift them up only to know that I in fact will not. I think the bigger issue is a lack of true understanding of the power behind the prayers I am willing to offer. If I truly understood the power behind the Spirit inside of me would I be more willing to pray right at that moment? Have those words become just one of many scripts we, as a society, say to one another?

This happens in more than just the Christian circles. "I'm thinking of you" "You're in our thoughts" "Let me know what I can do to help" "Keep me posted on what happens"

This is not just another problem with Christians, for non-believers to add to the list... this is a problem for humanity as a whole. Underneath our facade of empathy and care lies a lot of selfishness and only enough willingness to do what we are comfortable with... so long as it does not interfere with our own plans for ourselves.

I'm talking about you. And I'm talking about ME. Big time me. Majorly me. Oh man this is me.

I really want to be close with people. But not just close... I want to be their "person". The kind of friend you'd think of first to hang out with. Or when someone asks who your closest friends are, I'm on the list. I want to be thought of to be in your wedding. I want to be trusted to help in a time of crisis. I want to be that person. The favorite auntie, most helpful child, most thoughtful granddaughter. The problem is, I allow that underlying selfishness to rule and reign in my actions. My heart is all in, totally there, bursting with love. But my butt is still at home, sitting on the couch, surfing facebook, instead of calling you. Selfish. I think of you and your current heart-ache while I'm tending to M and I think, "I'll text in a bit" and a "bit" becomes never... or midnight when I think of it next. Naturally this problem has seeped into my intentions of prayer. These past weeks I have felt convicted time and time again that these promises must be fulfilled. My words must stay true to my oath. Unlike a friend who may also forget that I promised them prayer, my Lord does not. He is not vindictive, He will not come after me and scold me for saying and doing two different things. But just the reality that He remembers fills me with sorrow. How many dates have I ditched with Him in forgetting to pray?

One of the difficulties of T being deployed is the short, never deep, and often interrupted conversations we have. It's been a long time since my best friend has really been able to know and hear my heart, and me his. It sucks, in every sense of the word. And this, I now realize, is just how my Father must feel. When I begin to talk with him about a dear daughter of His, and suddenly I'm interrupted by my phone or my kid, that's a moment where He is left with only a piece of my heart. Then I forget and go on with life and He waits. He knows what this daughter or son needs before I ever even think to ask Him, but the intention behind my heart is an issue all of it's own.

And this is why I haven't been obedient in exploring this any further. It's a matter of my heart needing some changing. This is never easy. But it's always necessary.

Here are 4 questions you can ask yourself with this passage in mind: 1. How do Jesus' words concerning oaths emphasize His requirements of absolute truthfulness? 2. What commitment have you made to God that Jesus' words remind you to keep? 3. How would your relationships change if you obeyed Jesus' words in Matthew 5:33-37? 4. What could you expect God to do for you if you obeyed this command?

It's humbling and amazing to think of how simply and wonderfully my relationships with others and with God would and could change if I just obeyed. Maybe I could actually have a deep, meaningful conversation with my Savior and know that I am also building a friendship in the process. Maybe I could actually feel the closeness with others that I claim to want and need. Once again, it goes back to selflessness. Life can't just be about me. It must always be about Him and those He loves.

So to this I say, if I've told you I will pray for you for something you are in need of, don't be afraid to ask if I actually did it. If we all put a little meaning behind our words we just might see a lot more kindness around us. Life can't be about us. We aren't here for that. We are here for one another. We are here to bring Him glory.

My Big Question

My great, big, scary body-image question. No, more like a self-image question, because truly, my insecurities and short-comings and false notions revolve around more than just my physical form. But before I ask you the question, and in turn truly ask myself the question for the very first time, let me backup.

As stated in my previous post, I am a believer in the Author's sincere interest in my life; the tiny and the mighty, and everything that fits right in between. He romances, that is for sure. He also asks. He asks for my service, for my love, for my devotion, for my time. Recently He began asking me something I wasn't quite ready to hear. As a self-proclaimed victim of "seriously low self-esteem", I've created a life for myself that , in one way or another, revolves around how poorly I feel about myself. The trouble with this is that I have spent about 65% of my life feeling this way, so naturally, it has become somewhat of a character trait. My story is no different than anyone else, and honestly, that's not what I want to spend time sharing anyways. I will forewarn you in saying that this may or may not take two posts, and it may or may not be very esthetically pleasing to the English majors eye, but just stick with me.

Last week, a blogger that I follow began a series called 31 Days to Reclaiming Body Image (or something to that affect) and my immediate thought was, "yes, another thin, athletic, talented woman giving me advice on how to reclaim body image." And immediately I reminded myself that yes, it is possible for someone who has "all that I think will make me content" to have her own body issues too. So I swallowed my chill pill and kept on. With that topic lingering in the back of my mind one morning I felt challenged with a question.

 

What if you never change?

 

What if, for the rest of your days, you stay the very size you are right now?

 

Your waist doesn't get smaller, and definitely not firmer. Your boobs don't magically shrink and start defying gravity. Your skin keeps on keeping on in the pimple department.

 

What if?

 

While hating every fiber of this question, I also felt intrigued. It was almost as if a tiny shard of these lie-ridden glasses I've been wearing came loose and fell off. A little light of hope? A little glimpse of what might actually be my reality? So I kept mulling over this question, all the while poking and prodding each area of disdain... but with each day the pokes became a bit lighter, less hate-driven. Then I sat to do my BSF study. And I heard what was quite possibly written just. for. me.  We are studying Matthew 4 this week. To save you my interpretation I will simply share the words directly.

"Self-control and trust in God must replace a determination to control their own situation and others. And a truly contented spirit has no room for an attitude of self-pity and complaint." Ouch.  Remember back when you were in High School and instead of just feeling bad about yourself you also made sure everyone else knew how bad you felt about yourself? No? Well I do, because I did it often. See, that's the twisted thing about the deception of low self-esteem. It tells you that you really just feel oh so badly about yourself when in reality it's a serious pride issue.  It's a way of making everything about you and not needing to feel guilty or prideful about it. I mean, how could you? You're the sad chubby girl with no boys that like you. Or so you say. As an adult this habit changes slightly, but at the core it is the same. Instead of friends at school hearing your woes, it's your husband, or your family, or your boyfriend. In an effort to trudge through this life, I've resolved to control the one thing I know how; my dislike of myself. Truly trust God? Have self-control? What are these things they speak of? Do I long for a truly contented spirit more than I enjoy my attitude of self-pity and complaint? This is just one of many pieces that the big question brings about, and yet another reason why I didn't want to answer it when asked.

"Will you put aside your self-centered life of urgent but empty pursuits and ambitions? Will you trust the One who offers God's acceptance and transformation to real security and peace? Your Savior and King is here for you." The society we live in offers a lot of quick fixes for a lot of things. Just watch an infomercial. Major results in minor [time, commitment, money, effort]. This has always been my beef with diet fads, which is why my story does not include many of those. I have, however, bought into exercise tapes (Hip Hop Abs, anyone? Insanity?), the fitness magazines, and endless pins on Pinterest. The basic idea in our culture is that everyone has a "better" that they could be. Or for me, "should" be. I should be:

  • shorter
  • thinner
  • faster
  • stronger
  • dress "hipper"
  • be "more frugal"
  • crunchier (or more "natural" for those who don't get what that means... mom...)

I could keep going. And let me clarify one thing. No one, and I mean no one has told me that I need to be these things. These are things that have been fed to me by the thief of joy and author of deception. He has no greater love than seeing me live a life controlled by pity and pride. Two key words stuck out to me in the above quote: acceptance transformation

In a life filled with Pinterest and Facebook and mommy-wars and living "naturally", what woman (or man) in their right mind isn't desperately searching for acceptance? In a world of crazy, fat-melting Amazonian fruits and fitness magazines and Crossfit, what person doesn't long to see their physical body transform? But the truth I am beginning to see is that the acceptance and transformation will never be found in these places. It is found in the quiet places. Places of solitude, places of love. Family, laughter, joy, this is where we can truly feel accepted because we can truly just be. And the more I take the time to place myself there, in those moments that truly matter, the more I will see my soul, mind and heart transform. This weekend was my High School reunion, and it was absolutely no coincidence (maybe more like a harsh joke) that I would be pondering this question while returning to the place that birthed so many of these insecurities. I'm not a makeover story, the girl who walks in the room and blows everyone away with her crazy weight-loss and gorgeous hair and clothes and blah blah blah. I'm just an older, more mature version of the same girl who shied away from cool kids and ate lunch by her locker. As Saturday progressed and my womanly nerves began to get a little wracked, I truly asked myself that question, "Is it okay if you don't change?" (I decided that while I might be willing to discuss my options on being okay with the state of my physical form, I do know that there are parts of my mental, emotional and spiritual form that I do not want to see stay the same. But that is a topic for another post.) As I made my way to the neighborhood Target I passed something that made me smile and remind God that I had, in fact, not forgotten our previous discussion.

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I mean, what? This handmade sign, in a random person's front yard. Not a question. Not a call to confidence. Just the words that have been on my mind some five days or so. "Laura, your self-esteem is not found in anyone you will see while looking straight ahead but only when you look up." Needless to say, I made some giant leaps in acceptance that afternoon and resolved to enjoy myself no matter what. And I did. And the question still lingered.

So I will ask you the same question. If nothing changed, would you and could you be okay with that? If the answer is no, what are the things you do not want to carry into your life fifteen years down the road? Will these things hinder the way you love yourself, your family and your life? Will this drive a wedge between you and your Maker, the One who crafted you with such great care?

There are always ways to better ourselves, but I'm challenged to take a step back and see where I'm allowing my focus to lie. I always tell myself (and I know you do this too, so don't deny it), "Once I [do, make, lose, accomplish]_______, then I will finally be able to be content and put this whole big mess behind me." Another question to ask myself is, "If _____ changes, will I truly be content? Or is that an excuse to continue to look inward instead of out?"

I don't know about you but I've missed a whole lot of lives around me simply because I've been too busy feeling sorry for little old me. Some 17 years have passed and I can honestly say I do not want to spend another 17 replaying the same scenes.

So to that I guess I would like to ask you "My Big Question". Would you, could you, be content? (Cue the green eggs and ham.)

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it" (1)... not even a hot bod with killer hair and glowing skin. Not even an awesome "body after baby". Not one single bit of it. So to this I aim to remember that my body is a temple of the Holy of Holies. My husband and son deserve my very best. My future children deserve a healthy oven from which to be baked. So I must do what I can to take care of what has been given to me. But to these aims, not the aims of the society of which I live.

"Keep your lives free from the love of money (or beauty or societal acceptance) and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." " (2). Guys, this is really what He wants... for me, for us... to truly know that He will never leave us, even when we wish so badly we could leave ourselves. This is what life is about. Contentment in Him, because He is here for us.

Next time you look in the mirror, really look at yourself and ask. It might be interesting to see what you find.

To read more about the 31 Days of Reclaiming Body Image you can visit www.thelittleway.net

Verse references: 1. 1 Timothy 6:6-7 2. Hebrews 13:5

Childbirth

I've been thinking a lot about childbirth lately (no, not because I will be experiencing it any time soon. Although I do have the fever pretty bad). You see, I've returned to my home town just in time for the recent births of several babies. Friends, friends of friends, co-workers... Seriously, babies everywhere. It's just the most wonderful thing. My heart just smiles seeing these families become parents for the first time... remembering our not too distant past filled with sleepless nights, crying for what felt like hours and a belly button scab that I just couldn't wait to be rid of. All of those beautifully exhausting things, that truly slip by in a moment. Now he's almost a year old and so much of that is of the past, never to come again (for him anyways). How many more times will I experience them? How many more times will I anxiously (and angrily and painfully) anticipate the birth of the baby I've been making for 9 months? Only He knows and I will boldly and loudly exclaim that if it's even once more we are blessed beyond what we deserve. We are already blessed beyond what we deserve simply because we have M.What's been on my mind has been the process of childbirth. You see, due to my proctocolectomy (surgery to remove my entire colon and do some pretty cool stuff with my small intestine to get me up and running again) I am unable to have a vaginal birth. I must always deliver via c-section. For some moms this would be devastating. For me, I was just thankful to even be able to carry a child. We were given hopeful odds for conception, so we went into it thinking it wouldn't be a problem. Motherhood reality check number one. It doesn't happen very easily for everyone. Nearly two years (and many tears) later we found out we were expecting. This news, coming amidst news of loss and heartache for others around us, was the second motherhood reality check I had received and for me the chapter had only just begun. How different motherhood is for everyone. How fascinating to know that it happens to people in so many different ways. Whether by surprise, after many heartaches, accompanied by lots of doctors and injections or by someone who is not able to care for the child themselves, the process of becoming a mother is wonderfully unique. My third reality check was two days after M was born, when I realized I was unable to breast feed. Years ago I had a breast reduction under the impression from my surgeon that I should "have no problems breast feeding when the time comes." He had "never had a patient who was unable to successfully nurse their child." Suffice it to say I went into this whole nursing thing with my head in the clouds and my heart left unguarded. Little did I know, there is a very small percentage of women who are able to nurse after a reduction. (For more accurate information on this go to www.bfar.org.) To say that my heart was broken would be quite the understatement. By His grace I was able to watch my heart change by the hour as I went from heartbroken to thankful for whatever He provided that would allow our son to grow healthy and strong. After months of playing around we landed on goats milk formula as the best possible alternative for him. That is a different story for another time. The fact that I couldn't nurse was hard but I got over it relatively quickly... Until recently. Something about seeing so many friends with new babies... Hearing the stories of their milk coming down, or how well their child is eating... A little voice in by head asks the question, "Am I less of a mother? I don't know what it feels like to have my milk come down, so am I not the real thing?" In hearing these recent stories of childbirth, so fresh in their minds, I've soaked in the uniqueness of each one. It's truly amazing how no birth is the same. I love each story just as I love the families who brought these little people into the world. The thing is, you don't often hear many stories of people just walking into the hospital for their appointment to get numbed up and cut open to birth their child. Usually there are contractions, timing, walking, bathing, squatting, and a whole slew of other things involved... Even if the end result is still a c-section. I love our memory of waking up to the alarm, getting everything in the car, kissing the pups goodbye and praying the entire 4 minute drive to the hospital. I love the memory of walking up to the desk with a giddy smile across my face and saying, "I'm Laura Ferguson and I'm here to have my baby." There was no rush. There was no contracting or Lamaze breathing or yelling at my husband. It was scary and exciting and nerve wracking and possibly one of the best moments we will ever have shared together. But I didn't feel any pain. I don't know what it feels like to be in labor. Am I less of a mom because I don't know what that feels like? Am I not "in it" as much as the others because I haven't felt that horrible pain (so I hear)? Reality check number four. The thing with this reality check is that it didn't hit until 10 months after he was born. It took that long for the lie to grow and fester to the point where I could acknowledge it. All of our birth stories are different. And all of our birth stories are valuable. As I've fought this ugly slimy lie these past few days I've tried to focus on the women in God's word who were mothers. Certainly He would've included some truth to comfort me in this battle over my mind. I found that none of these women's birth stories were recorded. None. The fact that the child was born, that was it. No hint to their pain, their delivery method, whether they labored for five hours or sixteen. Just the beautiful miracle of the person. The little, wonderful, life changing person. There is also no mention of nursing. Obviously one would assume that they all did this, but what about women who just couldn't? I mean there had to be some around back then too, right? But again, no mention of that, just of the strong men their babies became. The recording of the amazing futures these men held, to me, is a nod to the provision they were given by their mothers. They were obviously cared for. They were nurtured, fed, clothed, changed, kissed, disciplined, taught and let go. These women were moms. They did what they needed to do. The only thing that was recorded was the reoccurring theme of barrenness. This is a very real and very prominent thing in the lives of so many women. So many that each of us interact with regularly, whether we know it or not. Children are truly a gift from God. To some, it may seem more evident. As I've read about them, their struggles and blessings, and I've thought about the mothers around me, I've been encouraged to know that mothers are kinda like snowflakes. There are no two that are alike. Similarly with the way we become mothers. Sure there are only a handful of means but each heart, each family, has been perfectly crafted for that child. There is a reason why God not only wants but needs for you to be the mother to that child. Whether you carried the child or not, labored or didn't, nourished by the breast or by a next best thing, you are just what that child needs. There is no one who could do a better job than you. So, after all of these words and all of these thoughts, I'm prepared to put these slimy lies behind me and know in full confidence that even though I can't say I know how it feels to be in labor, I know that I am just the mom for M. The one who was created so that he might be created to live a life to bring Him glory. In 1 Samuel 1, Hannah (who was barren and was blessed by the birth of Samuel) says to Eli regarding Samuel, "As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to The Lord. I prayed for this child and The Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to The Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to The Lord." That is motherhood. Giving them to The Lord, for their whole lives.

Be still my heart. Thank you for letting me process these things with you. Be encouraged, mama. You are everything they need for this day.

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