Category Archives: Faith

How Your Prayers Made a Difference

Well I am home and recovering from my surgery on Tuesday. The night before the surgery I had a terrible night’s sleep. The dog’s collar kept jingling when she would move and we had heavy rain and storms come through as well. Maybe it was nerves too, but I tossed and turned that night.

We arrived at the surgical hospital about an hour before the procedure and they got me in their system, handed me some pretty fancy hospital wares  and then we waited. My Dr. is an OB/GYN and apparently there was a potential labor emergency during the time the surgery was supposed to start so we had to wait almost an hour longer than we expected.

Dominic and my sister Beth kept me company until they brought me back. We had some laughs so it made the time pass pretty quickly. Once in the operating room they hooked me up to a heart monitor and started the IV. They said the meds would kick in pretty quickly and in one moment the ceiling was moving above me and the next thing I remember was waking up and asking the nurse if they had to take the ovary or not.

She said I needed to talk to the Dr. about that and honestly if I did, I don’t remember that conversation! But eventually they brought me to a second recovery room and brought Dominic and Beth back in.

Everything went better than I had imagined it would. No cancer, the ovary remains, my tubes are gone and the ablation was successful. Praise God!!!

In the weeks leading up to this surgery I had steeled myself for a different answer. I really did have a peace about all of it and knew that if the news wasn’t great that God would be with me on whatever path I would walk next. I had even stopped praying for specific requests for myself and instead just thanked God for giving me peace and for being my strength.

But so so many of you did pray those specific prayers on my behalf. It was incredible really, people from my community and local church rallied around me. Women that my mom knew from another prayer group she is in emailed me and told me that they were praying. So many of my Facebook friends sent encouragement and positive thoughts my way. And my parents drove up to make sure that we had someone to be with the kids while we were gone!

Each prayer, comment, text message…they made a difference and I am just humbled that you would step in and support me in that way. At a time when in so many ways our country seems like a dark and sad place, you my friends brought me light. Oh and a few of my dear, best friends from church worked it out with Dominic to come to our house when I was gone to redecorate the built in shelves in my kitchen/dining room AND the tackle the chair recovering that I just had not been able to complete!! Seriously it is overwhelming to be loved on like that!!

Thank you doesn’t seem enough, but it is what I can offer right now. That and the promise that I will intercede on your behalf if and when the need arises.

The last time I had a surgery I was so very sick from the meds, that recovery and coming out of the surgery were the things I feared the most. But my Dr. was proactive and prescribed a little patch that I placed behind my ear 3 hours before the surgery. In addition they offered me a pill to take right before the surgery, that when paired with the patch usually resulted in very little nausea.

So thankfully when I woke up I wasn’t really sick. I am uncomfortable today and need to stay consistent with my pain meds, and I already over did it this morning when I got up to help the kids get ready for school. It proved to be too much and I have since spent the majority of the day in bed.

I don’t “rest” well. I don’t accept help well either. Ha! But we have friends from church scheduled to bring us a few meals, and our neighbor brought us over a meal this afternoon as well that we can have later this week. What a gift that will be for our whole family!

I don’t remember if it was my dad or someone else that said to me that when we deny  people the opportunity of helping us, we are denying them the use of their spiritual gifts. I like that way of looking at it and so instead of believing that I should be able to manage it all, I step back and am humbly accepting  the gifts of others.

The anesthesiologist said that they would make a list of everything the used to help control the nausea  so that next time we could do it again. I told him that I would prefer there not be a next time..but if there is I will remember this experience too. How so many people gave us support and encouragement.

Because we know that there will be trials, we often don’t know when they will come, but they will come in some shape or form. I know that next time I can hopefully be that gift to someone else.

This experience has reminded me that when I become ready and willing to turn all of it, whatever it is (fears, worries, doubts etc,) over to God, that I can walk through a situation confident that He is with me even if I can’t comprehend what will happen. I have this hope that is an anchor to my soul….

This experience has also reminded me about the value of community. Of having a church family, good neighborhood relationships, family and friends that you can confide in. So that if there is ever a time when you don’t have the words to pray, you can know someone else is interceding on your behalf.

Once again I have been a bit long-winded, thank you for sticking with me. And if some of this doesn’t flow well, I am blaming it on the meds I am taking. I feel a bit foggy with my thoughts and my words. But it was important to me to take a few minutes and post an update here.

Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus to me and my family. I am so very grateful for each and everyone of you!!

Photo Credit: ThienLong

Even in the 30%

Yesterday was my pre-op appointment with my doctor and while I did share this information on Facebook, I want to share it here as well. I want to continue to keep a record of all of this and writing helps me process, so thank you for allowing me to be real and personal here.

So the doctor initially decided to try and see if she could feel the cyst because she said there was a possibility that it went away on its own, but it was definitely still there. She also attempted to do a biopsy of my endometrial lining for the ablation that they will be doing as well (a kind of buy one get one free part of my surgery – Ha!) but apparently my uterus is tipped and it made that quite difficult and pretty darn painful. And I thought I had a pretty high pain tolerance. Ouch!

So after that fun, we talked about the surgery and the risks etc. There are some things about the cyst that are “good” and not indicative of stage 2 or greater cancer. Like there isn’t fluid around it. But there is something abnormal with the cyst, there are 2 cysts or possibly one that is split, but they can’t tell for sure and it has thick walls. So they have to get in there to see it with the scope to know for sure.

She said that if she had to put a number on it she thinks there is a 70% chance that the cyst is just a normal cyst and then she might be able to just remove the cyst. A 30% chance it is not typical. If it looks abnormal at all she’s going to take the cyst and the ovary, call in the oncologist and they will take lymph nodes as well to check for cancer. This is apparently standard protocol.

They take it all if there is any chance at all it is abnormal so they avoid the risk of breaking the cyst open and possibly spreading cancer cells into the uterus.

Regardless of how the cyst looks, they will remove my tubes for sure to help decrease the chance of cancer. If the ovary has to be removed then I will have to look at some hormone replacement therapies. There are lots of options and we will discuss those if/when that time becomes necessary.

We talked about the side effects that I had from the meds I took for just 10 days (they weren’t pleasant) and reassured me that there were lots of options to try. When this all first started I was so panicked about the HRT’s, it bothered me so so much. Today I can say that I am confident that if it is needed, she will help me find the right balance of meds.

Oddly enough, I feel at peace about everything. She said she would treat me like she would her own daughter. I trust her and more importantly I trust God. She is a Christian and said she is doing Gods work, and so I know I am in good hands.

And no matter what happens, God will be my strength. I do so appreciate all your prayers and messages. Surgery is next Tuesday and I am ready. I almost wish I didn’t have to wait a few more days because I just want to get onto the healing part of this process!

I voxed my best friend all of the details later yesterday afternoon and she messaged me back that I sounded like a different person. She could hear the peace in my voice. Part of that does come from knowing all the details and options, yes. But more importantly I think, that peace has been poured over me because of the prayers of all of you.

So many of you have interceded on my behalf, praying against fear and for peace. I can’t tell you how grateful I am. The prayers are heard and they are felt.

I am the type of person that could easily get stuck in the “what-if” of that 30% number. And let’s just be gut-level honest here….I have a real vanity about my hair. The thought of the possibility of cancer and chemo and losing my hair. Oh my goodness, I can’t even fathom it. I know I shouldn’t joke about that but I have dreams nightmares about losing my teeth and my hair. It’s not pretty guys!!

So even a week ago I could have easily been stuck in that place. Spinning over all of the negative possibilities. Filled with fear and anxiety over what might happen if I was in that 30%.

But yesterday God met me in such a tangible way, such a take-my-breath away moment, that I realized it doesn’t matter what percentage I fall into. It really doesn’t. God IS with me. He so specifically made His presence known to me in a way that He knew would minister to my heart, I have no doubt that whatever happens next Tuesday, He will continue to be the God that ministers to me. (Hair or no hair!)

I shared that I was honored to be a part of the (in)courage A Moment to Breathe 365 devotional. It is no coincidence to me that the release date for that book was THE date of my surgery (October 3rd). A day that would be remembered by joy and not fear.

But yesterday when we got home from the doctor’s office I wanted to read the devotional for that day (I was sent a few advance copies to give away!!) and so I googled what day of the calendar year it was. Day 270.

I opened up the devotional to day 270 and saw this.

I instantly started to cry. Words I had written, words to bring encouragement and hope to another now speaking life into me. A reminder that I can trust the journey. That I don’t need to know the future, I don’t have to know the answers but instead I can trust God in the process.

There are 79 other authors in this devotional book. I had no input on where my posts would land, or on which days. I have 4 other posts in the book and this one specifically is JUST what I needed to be reminded of.

These are words He gave me a long time ago. He hasn’t changed and He won’t. It doesn’t matter if I wake up next Tuesday and discover I was in the 30%. God is still God and I trust Him fully.

Certainly, I am praying for the 70% results. But even in the 30%, there is hope. And whatever it is, the next steps I take will be with Him leading me. I have confidence in that. I have peace.

I told my kids this morning on the way to school that mom wasn’t scared. I trusted God and He was with me. And they could trust Him like that too. If nothing else I want them to see that they don’t have to walk through life filled with fears and what-ifs. They can put their faith in Him and He will guide them.

I don’t know what you are facing today. What unknown you might be struggling with. Can I encourage you to turn it over to God, ask some trusted friends to pray for you and with you and then allow His peace to flood your spirit. I would be honored to pray for you, so if you have any specific prayer needs, please leave them in the comments and know I will be lifting you up!

A Moment to Breathe

I shared last week some of the scary stuff that is going on in my life right now and you were all so encouraging to me, offering prayer and support. Thank you. I know that no matter what, I am not going through this alone and that is so comforting!

That said, I have certainly had my moments of crazy-town as early on I spent waaaay too much time consulting Dr. Google. Let me tell you that Dr. Google doesn’t always have the best bedside manner and may often leave you in a fit of panic.

At one point I voxed my best friend and lamented my woes to her and I almost spent $449 on a mattress cooling pad thingy without talking to Dominic because I was certain that I would be recovering in a pile of sweat after my surgery and didn’t want to be in pain and drowning in my own nastiness. I tend to have a flair towards the dramatic….

Thankfully I did not purchase said mattress pad and she lovingly but sternly told me that I was banned from Dr. Google until after my pre-op appointment that is still a LONG 9 days away, and I was not allowed to purchase any products right now to treat something I am not yet dealing with! She was right though. And as I laughed about it with Dominic later that evening he reminded me that I was essentially “paying the fine for a ticket I hadn’t even gotten”….I have a tendency to jump the gun a little if you haven’t noticed.

The next morning I got up and found an empty prayer journal. I had been really good about writing out my prayers a year ago and then I got busy and I stopped. But I knew that in this season especially, I needed to take a few moments in the morning and focus on centering my life and my heart in prayer.

When I write the prayers out I can go back and see all the ways that God has answered those prayers, and it keeps me focused. My mind can’t wander as easily and I am forced to put my phone down {ahem}.

It doesn’t take much time in the morning, but it’s a moment to breathe, to focus on prayer and to spend time with God.

I recently shared on Facebook that I was blessed to be a part of a new devotional that is coming out from (in)courage called A Moment to Breathe. 365 Devotions that meet you in your everyday mess. Well isn’t that just perfect for me? And even more exciting is that the book will be available for purchase on October 3rd. The very day of my surgery.

A day that I will be waking up hungry and scared and nervous can now instead be marked by excitement and honor to be featured as an author alongside some of my most favorite authors! It really feels pretty unbelievable to me still!

Right now, and while supplies last, when you order your copy of A Moment to Breathe here though Lifeway, Lifeway will send you this beautiful mug (pictured above) for free! And the mug ships right away, I know because I ordered several to give as gifts and they are HUGE and beautiful!!

It is a perfect gift and the book is something that you will be able to read again and again!! I hope that you will order a copy for yourself and maybe a copy to share with a good friend, I know we all can use a moment to breathe in the midst of our mess can’t we?!

Yes, But….

I know when it has been too long since I posted last when I have forgotten the password to log into my own site! Hello friends, thanks for being here with me today. It is funny how much changes in a year’s time. Last year at this time I was writing away, planning for my 31-day challenge on Fervent Prayer. And then somehow after that, the words just stopped. I am not one to force words out just to have a post, thus the long lengths of silence here. I can’t promise that things will be changing soon but I do want to share a little bit of what is going on with me and ask for some prayer in the coming weeks.

Part of my reason for sharing this more personal information is so that I can look back at it and remember, and also because as I have done some of my own research I am finding that first-hand accounts are rare and quite honestly, I get lost in the complexity of medical terminology. When I had my PRK surgery I blogged honestly about my experience and so I thought I might do a little of that here today.

Some back story for those that don’t know it…it will become important to the rest of the story in a minute.

Sometime in 2001 I believe I had a very scary experience when a large cyst, that I didn’t know was growing on the underside of my left ovary, burst and basically tore my ovary and fallopian tube to shreds. I remember feeling a funny “pop” in my gut and then feeling uncomfortable all day at work. I didn’t know what was going on but I was stubborn and ignored the symptoms.

It wasn’t until later in the day that I started to black out as I would stand up. Someone called a women from a neighboring department who was an EMT and she came and took my blood pressure and it was really low. I decided to drive myself (I know I am that stubborn) to the local acute care to be checked out.

At this point I was in terrible pain in my abdomen and could hardly stand up straight. They did an X-ray and couldn’t figure out what was going on. They wanted to send me to the ER and thankfully had me call my mom to come and get me because it was unsafe for me to drive. In the ER they did a CT scan and discovered I was filled with blood and figured it was some sort of “female” problem. My OB/GYN doctor was called in to do an emergency exploratory surgery.

I remember being on the table as they prepped me, being ready to be put to sleep and she came in. She has long red hair and it looked like fire to me next to her blue scrubs and the white walls and lights. I begged her to save my ovaries so that I could have more babies. We only had Isaac at that point and I knew I wanted more kids.

She told me that she would do her best but that if it was a decision between my life and my ability to have more kids, she would save me. I woke up and the first thing I asked was if I had lost everything. I hadn’t. She had been able to save the right ovary. They had removed blood clots the size of lemons from around the my lungs. I had bled internally from approximately 11am to 9pm. I was on the verge of needing a blood transfusion but they decided to wait and ultimately I didn’t need one.

I credit my doctor for saving my life. They said if I had ignored the woman at work and decided to drive home instead I likely would have died. After that surgery I was able to have 3 more children. It wasn’t necessarily easy, but we had Gabe in 2003, a miscarriage in 2007, Elijah in 2009 and Karlena in 2010.

After Karlena I went on birth control. I hadn’t used it for years because we stuggled so much to get pregnant it wasn’t necessary, but then our girl was a surprise to us so quickly after Elijah and we knew after 4 that we were done…so I decided to take something.

I didn’t love how the birth control made me feel. I know for most people there aren’t side effects, but I felt big emotional swings and developed dark melasma patches on my cheeks. A few years ago I started using essential oils more, started replacing many of our products with more “nautral” ones and tried to eliminate products that used parabens etc. from our cabinets. In 2014 I decided to have my tubes tied so that I could eliminate the need for the hormones all together.

10 months ago I started working out consistently with the Beachbody programs. I am consistently doing something at least 5 days a week if not more. I have lost and kept off 10lbs and also lost 10 inches from my hips and waist! I stopped drinking sugared juices in October and drink only water now. I don’t eat 100% “clean” but I know that I am healthier today and in better shape than I have been in years.

Since my tubal, my cycles have been a little funny. When you take a hormone to control them, they come on a specified day and typically end on a specified day. When you leave your body to naturally handle that on it’s own, it doesn’t always do it the same way. That has been the case with me. I have been tracking my cycles each month for over 2 years and while they have been somewhat consistent, recently I was noticing some changes. It was an extra extended cycle that brought me into my doctor last week for a check.

They ran some blood work and did an initial check of me and scheduled an ultrasound for this past Tuesday. I thought it was possible that my symptoms were a result of perimenopause. I had been told that women can go through some of the menopausal symptoms for up to 10 years before they are finally through it. (Great right?!) So I thought maybe this was my deal. Not ideal, but manageable.

The ultrasound on Tuesday revealed that there was a little more going on than just perimenopause symptoms. The doctor ran a CA125 blood screen to see if that was elevated. She explained that if it was it “may” be an indicator of cancer and the growth that was seen on the ultrasound would likely need to be removed. If not we could probably just watch it, but she wanted to get the radiologist’s full report to determine that as well.

They called yesterday and thankfully the CA125 was in a normal range, as was my thyroid and my FSH test. But the cyst on my only ovary has “focal thickening” and apparently that is concerning and it needs to come out.

The surgery itself is pretty simple. The doctor does it over her lunch hour. Bad for me because I am going to be STARVING since I won’t be able to eat after midnight the night before…but what do you do? Anyways, the biggest problem I am having right now is that depending on IF the cyst looks benign she may be able to remove it without taking the ovary. But IF any of that isn’t the case, it will all have to go and I will effectively be put into what is called “surgical menopause”.

Google that for some fun stories if you want to cry a little with me. Nevermind, don’t. Basically when the ovaries are removed the body immediately loses all estrogen production and so unlike a typical woman going through perimenopause who slowly loses estrogen, mine would immediately stop. From what I am reading it is very likely that ALL the symptoms of menopause could happen, like right away at any time. (Google was NOT my friend yesterday, I’m telling you!)

So the doctor mentioned that I would probably have to be on hormone replacement therapy. This is exactly what I wanted to avoid. When someone says “Oh those side effects only happen to 1 in 5 women”…well I am the 1.

But if I don’t take the HRT there are pretty huge and scary risks especially for women that are under the age of 45. Like being 7 times more likely to develop heart disease, increased risk of osteoporosis, and a doubled risk of Parkinson’s disease and dementia. All scary stuff.

Can I tell you that my heart starts beating fast and I get a little nauseous thinking about all of that! And there is so much info out there, how do you trust what is true and what is hype? I start to get in a panic and things spin quickly out of control.

Breathe, just breathe……

Dominic reminded me last night that we should be grateful that she didn’t call and say the CA125 was elevated. Yes, but…

And I realized that even though I had stopped to ask some close friends to pray about it for me, I hadn’t myself stopped to give it over to God.

Do you trust Me?

Lord, Yes, but….

I do, and I am grateful…but I didn’t want this.

I do, but I am scared and I don’t want to make the wrong decision.

I do, but I would have been happier if the answer was even simpler.

I don’t know yet (today) what is going to happen. My surgery is tentatively scheduled for October 3rd. I will meet with my doctor on the 27th to discuss all the options and risks etc. I am praying for wisdom and discernment, and for peace that whatever happens will be right for me medically speaking.

I am grateful that the blood test was normal. I do not want a repeat of what happened in 2001, even if it means surgical menopause.

Last week two of my closest friends whom I vox with every day were in Houston facing the terror of Hurricane Harvey. I have never in my life been so invested in fervent prayer for someone. I prayed over and over that God would spare their homes. I prayed crazy, bold prayers, that His army of angels would surround their homes and that not a drop of water would be allowed to enter their door frames.

At one point last week it seemed that all hope was lost, one friend was being evacuated by FEMA and the waters were rising fast. They were told that all the homes in the neighborhood would be covered. And yet by some miracle, the water stopped rising, and held and didn’t enter their homes.

God hears prayer. I was a first-hand witness to it. I also know that there are times those prayers don’t get answered in the way we would hope. I can’t explain why so many people did lose their homes, and others were spared. I can’t explain why my blood test would be negative but I know that there was likely a woman receiving different news yesterday.

I believe that the God that held back the waters, is the same God that will be there for me. But I have to be willing to let go of the outcome. I don’t want to have a “Yes, but…” kind of faith. In any of life’s storms I want to be able to say “Yes, Lord I trust You.” Regardless of the outcome. I won’t always get the answer I am hoping for. But I can look for the many reasons to be grateful along the way.

This has gotten incredibly long, and kuddos to anyone of you that has stuck with me. I will probably try and share more as I go through this. I know my experience will be unique to me, but being able to read someone else’s real life experience is so much more helpful (in my opinion) than 10-year-old forum chat boards that become quickly overwhelming.

So as I have more to share, I will do that and thank you in advance for anyone who is praying for me, I appreciate it so much!!

A Very Important Decision

Parenting has proven to be one of the most difficult yet rewarding aspects of my life. There are days that I am failing and need to ask for grace over and over again. And there are days that we count as a win, when our kids surprise us or act on a teachable moment.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all of the should-do-this and don’t-do-that whispers that come from all around us. If I am not careful and prayerful I can get caught up in those. But there are those rare and amazing moments that are God-filled and I want to share one of those with you today.

I should be having Dominic write this story because it is really his to tell. I wasn’t even there, but it was such a beautiful example of parenting with God’s leading that I wanted to document it.

On Saturday I had a special day planned with some of my girlfriends from church. We were heading to Sioux Falls for some shopping and then a evening conference featuring Lysa Terkeurst. It is rare that I get away for days like this so I was really looking forward to it.

Dominic took the kids over to get haircuts before I left town and then had a full day planned filled with work, a motorcycle ride and grilling hamburgers for the kids. It would be a pretty typical Saturday or so we thought…that is until lunch.

We have a 6 and 7 year old right now. We have been working with them on their understanding of communion. In our church there isn’t a specific “class” on why we celebrate communion, it is something that the pastor explains on the Sundays we have it and as parents we are encouraged to talk with our kids and help make the decision about when the time it is right.

For a long time Karlena has been asking about it and wanting to take communion but really just thought it was a time to snack at church. We knew she didn’t understand the significance of it all so we continued to talk to her about it.

After the last time we had communion at church Dominic took home a few of the little cups the juice comes in so that we could talk more about it at home. The cups have been sitting on our counter for a month or more but for some reason on Saturday Dominic got them out at lunch time and he and the kids started talking.

He told them again the story of Jesus, why He came and why He made a sacrifice for us. He talked about the significance of the last supper and why it is the reason we recognize the celebration ourselves today.

Then he asked the kids if they wanted to take communion together. So they got some crackers and he filled the little cups with some of his opened Monster energy drink…to which they all said it was “delicious and mom doesn’t know what she’s talking about”…they are on to me and my lies about how terrible sugared drinks taste!

Anyways, together they took communion and celebrated the gift that we have been given through Jesus. Dominic felt confident that they understood the significance and that they were ready to participate in church.

Then he asked them if they had ever asked Jesus to come into their hearts? Elijah had and so he said yes but Karlena shook her head no. Dominic asked if she thought she might like to say a simple prayer to ask Jesus into her life and she said yes!

So he called everyone together and they knelt down and he led Karlena through a prayer of recognition of who God is, confession of her sinful nature and then asked Jesus to come into her life and lead her. She repeated the words after him and was so excited that Jesus was now in her heart!

I got the news through a text after it happened, and I have to admit that I was a little sad that I wasn’t there, but I was so grateful that Dominic was able to share this incredibly special moment with his youngest and only daughter. And I am so glad that Dominic followed the Holy Spirit’s leading to have the conversation in the first place!

On Sunday morning when she got up, Karlena came to find me to tell me the good news. Wonderful news indeed!! Such an important decision, one that we all need to make. I know this doesn’t guarantee that her life will be easy. As much as I wish ease and comfort for my kids, more than anything I want them to be drawn to a personal relationship with Jesus. And if they are anything like me, they may need some hardship before they come to that place of surrender and being fully ready to let God lead them.

But regardless of what happens in the next 10, 20 or 40 years of my daughter’s life, she has the assurance that she is saved and loved by God. She is sealed by the blood of Jesus and her name is written in the Book of Life.

I am so proud of her and it is an honor to be a parent to the amazing kids God has given us!

Remembering the Gift – A Deeper Waters Guest Post

Recently my friend Denise Hughes reached out to me and asked if I wanted to participate in her study of the book of James over at her Deeper Waters site. It is always an honor to be asked by fellow writers that I esteem to join in their ministry and so I happily said yes.

We each had to choose a set of verses in James to study further and write on. I knew immediately which verses I wanted or should I say needed to write on.

James 1: 19-25 specifically addresses anger. This has long been a struggle for me. My temper has caused hurt and pain and I continue to have the opportunity to practice a different response.

It just so happened that I learned from one of those opportunities recently and I am sharing my heart over at the Deeper Waters site this morning. I would love if you would join me over there and I encourage you to sign up for the daily emails and keep walking through the book of James with us!

Happy Monday!

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Deeper Waters website

Where’s Your Mission Field?

I used to think that I needed to be called overseas to be on mission for God. I used to think that I needed to publish a book to prove that I was writing for Him. When those things didn’t happen, it was easy for me to believe that maybe God hadn’t called me to anything special.

But I was wrong.

This morning my daughter came to me with her backpack. The liner in it had ripped at the top and she didn’t want to use it anymore. I told her that I thought I could fix it, at least enough to use it. So I got out some thread and a needle and with just minutes to spare before leaving for school, I repaired her bag. Sometimes my mission field looks like a bad sewing job on a broken backpack. My girl was so grateful for the fix and it took me less than 5 minutes to serve her well.

Yesterday I spent 3 hours in a hospital room holding a very sick baby boy. His mama (with strong encouragement that she wasn’t being a bad mother) went to support her husband at his grandmother’s funeral. She struggled with leaving, but as a mom who has spent days in a hospital with a baby that almost died from rsv…well she knew I understood what to do. For 3 hours yesterday, this boy was my mission field. I took pictures and sent them to his mom to reassure her that he was just fine. I got to rock him and sing to him and even fed him his first bottle! What a gift that was to be of service in that way.

Every day my husband and I go to his office. We work hard to help people plan their estates so that their family doesn’t have to worry or fight once they are gone. Sometimes the days get long and we are at the office into the early evening. Sometimes we have projects or plans that are mentally taxing and it feels overwhelming. But we have the honor of helping people. We don’t take this responsibility lightly. Even though we aren’t a church or don’t serve people in a foreign country, we still have a mission field right here. 

I have always been someone that struggles with comparison. I see my friend who is leaving on a mission trip and I wonder if she is doing it better for God than I am. I watch as more and more of my author friends are releasing yet another book, or signing their first book deal…while I struggle to get posts out on a consistent basis. I wonder if God knows He can use them more than He can use me. I see those involved in the church and leading in ways I am not and believe the lie that my past failures make me unqualified.

It would be very easy for me to see myself as not valuable and unworthy. But that is crazy! God whispered to my heart this morning and reassured me that I was on a mission for Him.  My mission field is found in the ways I serve my family in love, in my prayers for others, when I find ways to be an encouragement to someone who is struggling, when we go to work each day and strive to do the best job we can for our clients.

Friends, we each have a mission field. Find ways to be of service to those around you. And do so with a happy and grateful heart. When we love others well, we are sharing the love of God. And what a mission that is!

Pieces Woven Together

Our pastor has been teaching on the life of David and we have been walking through a good portion of 1 Samuel for many weeks now. I love this type of Bible teaching because we, for the most part, are going through this book verse by verse.

We did this in Romans and Acts too. It helps me get a feel for what was really happening. He gives us background about the time in history etc., and I can put myself into the story and see it from all angles.

David has an incredible story doesn’t he?! A shepherd boy, the unmentioned of many brothers who is chosen and anointed by God to be the king. A boy who then waits YEARS from the time of that anointing to the time he is actually appointed king.

Talk about waiting to walk into your calling!

And we see that David struggles. He makes mistakes, he runs from God, he sins and falls short. God knows David’s heart though and he uses him anyways. What hope stories like this give me. I too can be the chief of sinners and yet God has found ways to use my story for good. How we should fall on our knees grateful that He loves us that much to redeem our story and allow us the opportunity to share His grace with others!

Today our Pastor was talking about dark times. The bulletin referenced 1 Samuel 2 (or I thought it did)…we were actually in 1 Samuel 28. But I happened to turn to 1 Samuel 2 and started reading. I have to admit, I don’t have a full grasp of the entire Bible, and how things are woven together. But today I discovered a connection I hadn’t made before and it so encouraged me.

Back in 2013 I shared a post about a woman named Hannah. I was so moved by this woman’s faith. Childless for years, tormented by the other wife, she begs God to give her a child. In exchange she vows to devote that child to the Lord’s service.

God hears and grants her a son. And then she follows through and actually gives her son over to the priest at the church. I said it before, but can you imagine the pain of having to follow through on that promise? I’ve found myself bargaining with God, making promises I probably didn’t intend to keep. But Hannah followed through.

When I wrote about it a few years ago I was amazed at her faith…but I didn’t fully understand the rest of the story. I didn’t read on through the rest of 1 Samuel to see what happens. Today it came together for me in a new way.

You see the Bible tells us that Samuel grows as a man and in his understanding of the Lord. So much in fact that he becomes a trusted advisor and a prophet. Samuel eventually anoints Saul as king. Saul the very king that we later hear is to be replaced by David. Samuel becomes David’s trusted advisor as well. He has become a man of great influence.

Our pastor said today, “Samuel had been a spiritual anchor for the people for 50+ years.” Isn’t that incredible?! And my thoughts immediately went to Hannah once again. A women who desperately wanted a son. A woman that was true to her promise and let her son go.

Do you think she had any idea the man her son would become so many years later? That he would be a spiritual anchor? We don’t know for sure, but I honestly don’t think so. It may have been easier to give up her son had she known the outcome…but so often we don’t know what will happen.

But like Hannah we take those bold steps of faith and do the hard thing anyways. And when we do the results are often more than we could ever imagine they would be. This connecting of stories gave me hope today. It was a reminder that the trials I have gone through and the lessons that I continue to learn may not only impact me and my kids…but generations to come!

So we keep walking forward, taking those hard steps and allowing God to use us, knowing that we may not see an answer to our prayers in this lifetime, but that they may continue to bear fruit for years and years to come.

Isn’t it amazing how God works?

Photo Credit: ame h

Broken Pieces


We decided to go down to the beach for one last walk to look for shells.

It was much colder that morning and the wind was blowing the dry sand across the beach. The waves rolled and crashed and after a few minutes we threatened to go in.

I love hunting for treasures. When we vacation in the summer with our kids it is one of my favorite things to do. It maybe be quartz or agates or shells….but the thrill of finding that one perfect treasure keeps me going. So that morning I kept walking.

The reality was that most of what we found was broken. Hurricane Matthew had done some major damage on those beaches in Georgia just months before and so what was washing ashore was broken pieces of once beautiful shells.

But as I walked I reflected on some of the broken pieces of my own life. Times where I too had found myself shattered. Times where I had done the damage to someone I loved. At the time I could only see the shards of what was remaining….it didn’t seem like beauty could come from the brokenness.

But over and over again God has restored those broken places. Not because I deserved it, or even because I had changed, but simply because He is sovereign and merciful and He loves me.

As I picked up the pieces of the broken shells I could imagine what they looked like whole. I could see their beauty despite their brokenness.

I spent some time that morning walking and praying. I thanked God for all the ways in which He has changed me. I thanked Him for His love and mercy. God has been faithful to restore and redeem me even when I have fought Him and actively gone against His will before coming to that place of surrender.

He has always been constant in my life. A good, good Father. We sang that song in church a few weeks ago and it is so beautiful. A praise to the One who makes all things new.

Even when we can’t see it, when we are in the midst of the struggle, God sees us whole. Because of the saving sacrifice of His Son, God sees me as the perfect shell. He doesn’t see the chips and cracks, the shards left from the brokenness I have caused…no He sees the whole me. A vision of myself I may not comprehend this side of heaven.

Friends, I don’t know what might be the cause of your broken pieces, but I am sure you have them just like I do. It is easy to get stuck in the pit, focused on all of the negatives and unable to see the beauty.

But the beauty is there. Sometimes it takes a perspective shift to see it…but it is there. It is a new year. A time for fresh starts. Take a moment today and look for the beauty around you. Acknowledge where God has moved in your life and thank Him for that. Hold tight to the truth that He sees you whole and that those broken pieces in your story may just be the thing that gives another hope.

Walking The Path We Are Given

I don’t remember when I first heard the story of Rory and Joey Feek, but once I found their blog This Life I Live, I knew these were people with an incredible story to tell.

If you read anything that Rory has posted you will know without a doubt that he loved his wife. Theirs seemed like that timeless love we all hope for. And yet they found themselves walking a path they didn’t see coming.

In the new documentary movie, To Joey, With Love, we are given a glimpse into their real-life, day to day as they journey into parenthood and then an unexpected cancer diagnosis.

Not realizing the significance of his decision, Rory decided to start capturing their life on film as they waited for the arrival of their daughter. Soon after her birth they discover that their daughter has Down Syndrome. Unexpected yes, but they knew this was the path they were walking on and they trusted God through all of it.

Being a new mom can be difficult enough, but at her 12-week check-up, Joey receives some devastating news.  Cancer.

I can’t imagine the fear she must have felt, and yet Rory and Joey walked this path with hope and trust in God’s plan. The new media caught wind of what they were dealing with and soon their story had spread like a wildfire.

People all over the world were praying for Joey and reading Rory’s blogs. We all hoped for a miracle. But sometimes those miracles don’t come in the way we would hope or expect.

As was true with this story.

While the outcome wasn’t as so many prayed for….it doesn’t mean that God wasn’t there. The love Rory and Joey had for one another inspired others. The faith they had encouraged the weak. Their choice to celebrate the joys in the journey remind us all that even when it is dark, blessings abound.

To Joey, With Love was a beautiful, intimate film and I was a bawling, hot mess once I finished it. It is available for purchase on December 20th but I have a free copy to give away to one of my readers!! Just leave a comment below and you will be entered to win!

For more information about this new movie, watch the trailer below (Email subscribers click here to view)

YouTube Preview Image

Thank you to the Icon Media Group for the opportunity to view and review this movie in advance of its release.

All pictures and media found on the To Joey With Love website.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...