What God Has Taught Me Through the Seasons Where I Felt “Stuck”-iBelieve Post
June 28, 2018
“Hi, my name is Emily, and I am recovering from an addiction to do-ing.”
It took me many years to finally admit that. If there was a goal or task to accomplish, I would throw all of myself into successfully completing it. I still have great work ethic, but the problem was the fact that I was too concerned with what people thought of me based upon my accomplishments. I loved the high from “the hustle” and having my schedule full to the brim. I spent years upon year upon years crowding the margins of my existence with:
Dance class, gymnastics, cheerleading, running track, Student Council, Marching Band, Pep Band, Concert Band, Art Club, Peers Group, musicals & plays (“I can’t. I have rehearsal.”), auditions, performances, church choir practice, tutoring, youth ministry, college and career ministry, worship team rehearsals, Bible studies, prayer meetings, church leadership meetings, drama practices, event planning committees, speaking engagements…
…just to name a few.
Entering a New Season
Being successful and driven became the meaning behind every breath I took; I found purpose in my performance and productivity. This was all I knew for well over 20 years of my life.
Then came the day, four years ago, when God asked me to leave my job and become a stay-at-home mom. Even though there was always a daily task-list before me:
Laundry, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, vacuuming, mopping, dishes, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, lunch, emails, phone-calls, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, dinner, feeding, burping, diaper-changing…
…I didn’t feel accomplished at all.
I felt robotic.
I felt completely overwhelmed and frazzled, drained and exhausted.
My excellent productivity skills had always proven to be such an asset to my daily routine, but not anymore. I couldn’t focus on the here and now, let alone enjoy it, because I was always looking to the next thing that had to be finished.
What did I even do today? I would ask myself constantly because I never felt like my to-do list was completed. There was always more to do the next day too.
Using this Season of Life
Although I would have told you straight to your face that my identity and purpose was not in what I do, I don’t know if I whole-heartedly believed that. In this new season of my life as a stay-at-home mom, I felt absolutely stuck and quite frankly, like a failure. Surely, God wouldn’t call me to leave my job just to abandon me here, drowning in dirty laundry and a sink full of dirty dishes, feeling like it was piling up all around me. Surely, there had to be more purpose to my life than all of this!
This lack of productivity and accomplishment felt totally foreign to me, but little did I know, God was going to use this new season to teach me some of the greatest lessons of trusting Him even when everything in my life seems to be at a stand-still.
Read more at iBelieve.com
Special Delivery Part 2: My Birth Story
March 12, 2018
I wrote about my birthing experiencing with my son, Isaiah, just two weeks after he was born. He wasn’t a great sleeper (and almost 3.5 years later, we occasionally have our issues…Lord, thank You for Your grace!), so I found myself awake all through the night…a lot. I must have had trouble falling back asleep the night I wrote our story of his birth. Sleepless baby and sleepless momma. Man, those were some tough nights. But we survived, thank You Jesus!
Now with my second son, James, it has taken me over a month to sit down and write out our story of his birth. It must be because we actually sleep at night! Even with the time change last night, he STILL slept for 6.5 hours straight! He is my little sleeper…praise the Lord!
God has been so incredibly faithful to us with Jameson.
From the moment my water broke to these last several weeks with him finally here with us.
His grace, so incredibly tangible.
For the whole pregnancy, I was fully mentally prepared to hold our new precious baby boy in my arms around 38 weeks, since that is when his older brother graced us with his unexpected presence.
But to be completely honest with you, that didn’t happen, and the last month was extremely stressful, confusing, and exhausting.
I cried. A lot. I was moody. A lot. I was tired. A lot.
I started to have time-able/ pattern-forming contractions around 37 weeks along with baby boy #2; I was getting even more anxious for that special day to come when we would finally meet our newest blessing.
But that cycle of “fake outs” lasted for over 3 weeks. God bless my poor husband! I never really knew when it was “go time…”
…until a little after 6am on February 7th, 2018 (the day after my due date), just as Paul was headed out the door for work telling me to keep him updated, I gasped as my water broke while lounging on the couch!
No more guessing if it was “go time!” Ha! Grace! Paul called my mom to let her know the news because she offered to drive over an hour and a half to come watch little man AKA Isaiah. Grace!
Because a friend of mine offered to be present at the birth to photograph the joyful day (Grace!), I hopped in the shower and got glammed up, of course! 😉
I assumed that it would be awhile before contractions began, since mine never started with Isaiah after my water broke with him…Pitocin is the devil…
…but before I could finish my shower, they started to amp up. Grace! And they were definitely the real deal this time! Yikes!
I dialed (do we still use that word for cell phones?) the on-call midwife and let her know what was going down and we decided to meet at the birth center at 8am, just in time to get stuck in rush hour morning traffic! But by the grace of God, we were able to stop by Chick-fi-la for FREE chicken biscuits for a quick breakfast (eating in between contractions that were now starting to get pretty intense) and STILL made it to the birth center on time, not having to deal much with traffic whatsoever. Grace! Grace! Grace!
We pulled into the parking lot at 8am on the dot, shortly after the midwives arrived, and made our way to the room. Less than 10 minutes later, my mom arrived to take little man to the waiting room for a bit to play with their blocks. Grace!
I was able to joke through the contractions and make the midwives laugh a few times before it was game-time, which came MUCH sooner than I had anticipated.
The contractions intensified very quickly, so much so that I didn’t even want to lie and relax in the giant Jacuzzi tub that was just filled up for me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was ready to push soon and hold that precious little peanut.
Not really knowing what position would be most comfortable for me because I didn’t have much time to decide, I made my way to the bed and laid down on my left side. Paul knelt by the bedside and held my hands and I used them to brace myself through each contraction. Before they got too close together, he asked if I wanted to listen to some music on his phone. I immediately said, “The Undoing by Steffany Gretzinger.”
God’s peace filled the room. Again, I could tangibly feel God’s grace.
When I could, I sang and hummed along and looked into Paul’s eyes and told him how much I loved him. It was an absolutely beautiful moment with him, something so completely different than what we experienced with Isaiah’s birth that left us dealing with much anxiety and trauma in the weeks following.
In an instant, all of that was redeemed. Grace!
We really were such a great team together. Team Massey!
When the contractions became pretty unbearable, I found myself making an “O” sound to get through them. It really was the only thing that seemed to help me stay focused through the pain.
The midwives were so encouraging through it all, and kept reminding me that I was almost there and that I was doing such an awesome job.
It was very quickly time to push, so I made my way up to my knees and braced my arms around Paul’s shoulders. He told me later that I almost made him pass out when I accidentally had him in the sleeper hold! Hahahaha! Funny, but not funny for him, I’m sure!
Then suddenly, when I didn’t think I could take another second, at 9:40am (yes, that’s right, an hour and 40 minutes after we arrived at the birth center) they told me to pick up my baby who entered the world.
The birth center’s 1,000th birth, might I add…so cool!
“We did it, we did it!” I said with joy filling my lungs. Sooooooooooo….much GRACE!!!!!
I scooped up Mr. Jameson, discovering he had a head full of brown hair like his momma (Yay!), and said “You’re a slippery lil’ fella!” making the whole room laugh once again.
Just four hours later, were discharged from the birth center, both momma and baby healthy and thriving. It was so nice to be able to head home and start our life together as a family of 4. On the trip home, both boys were snoozing and stayed down for naps for a couple more hours for us. Grace!
A miracle, really!
The whole day was just perfect.
I’m really still in awe of it and just how good God is to us. He truly is a redeemer and a giver of good gifts.
So here I am, almost 5 weeks postpartum, and signs of postpartum depression/anxiety/rage or insomnia are no where to be found! Praise God! My milk supply has been overflowing, and we have no need of formula supplementation like we had to do with Isaiah. And thanks to an awesome lactation consultant that we saw 2 weeks postpartum, I am able to have success with breastfeeding this time around. A major answer to prayer that just ties the whole experience together with so much GRACE!
I’m so thankful for God’s grace, my friends. It is truly all-sufficient and is carrying me through this new season of motherhood in such a beautiful way. It doesn’t mean everything is easy by any means, because along with the demands and responsibilities that come with caring for a newborn, we surely have had some tough toddler days as Isaiah goes through some mega emotional development right now (ah meltdowns!), but God’s grace is my ever-present help to see me through it all.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV).
And this momma will gladly boast in my frailty because Jesus’ gracious strength is so much better than my own.
FOREVER MY GIRL- A Movie Review
January 23, 2018
With Valentine’s Day just three weeks away, many couples are looking for something romantic to do together to celebrate the February holiday.
Dinner and a movie, anyone?
A bit cliche, I guess, but I know that my husband and I enjoy any time we are able to spend together on V-Day, especially when that special date consists of filling our bellies with good food and our hearts with a good love story….well, maybe that second part is more for me than him. Right, ladies?
And let me tell you, I know the absolutely perfect romantic movie that you and your sweetheart can go see that actually just released in theaters last weekend!
FOREVER MY GIRL, which is based on the best-selling novel, tells the story of music super-star Liam Page (Alex Roe) who left his bride, Josie (Jessica Rothe), at the altar, choosing fame and fortune instead. However, Liam never got over Josie, his one true love, nor did he ever forget his Southern roots in the small community where he was born and raised. When he unexpectedly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his high school best friend, Liam is suddenly faced with the consequences of all that he left behind.
In addition to facing consequences of his selfish and careless actions, Liam is also faced with his very own brokenness that he had been running from for many years.
But what I absolutely loved about this movie is that brokenness is not the end of Liam’s story, nor the story of the film.
The word that seems to capture the heart-beat behind this heart-warming film is “RESTORATION.”
Although there are only glimpses of the characters’ faith shown in the film through scenes in a church, I see God’s hand of restoration throughout the entire story and it is incredibly, breathtakingly beautiful- a redemptive story of ashes turned into beauty, most definitely.
This film will having you laughing one minute and tearing up the next, which aside from that being fairly normal emotional activity for me at 38 weeks pregnant, I loved every minute of the emotional ride I was on throughout the film, and I think you will love it too.
So ladies, grab your honey, or your girlfriends, and go see this heart-warming movie! But don’t forget to bring along your tissues! Seriously!
Catch the trailer for FOREVER YOUR GIRL below:
In theaters now!
How I Met My Hubs, Our First Date, and A New Romantic Movie for You to Go See!
January 12, 2018
Last year, while shopping for a wedding gift, I found the cutest piece of decor for my home that helped remind me where our little (growing) family began.
I couldn’t help myself, I just really NEEDED it in our home.
Well, maybe not “needed…”
…but you get my point!
“Every love story is beautiful, but ours is my favorite.”
Every time that I see those words in our living room, surrounded by photos of my husband and I and our little boy (and pretty soon, photos our second bundle of joy), I can’t help but get overwhelmed by how blessed I am to have such a beautiful love story that continues to unfold in such a sweet and precious way.
But where did our love story begin?
Well, in the summer of 2008, I attended a church service for the first time in three years at a church my mom had found out about through their TV ministry. It was a pivotal moment for me in my walk with the Lord (that’s another story for another time…), and I absolutely fell into love with people there. Within a couple months, I started to make some new friends. One of my new friends who worked for the church introduced me to a young man name Paul. She and Paul both were raised in that church and grew up together. In the Fall, they had tons of events for young adults and families to attend and my family took advantage of them and made great memories. One in particular was a bonfire and hayride at a local pumpkin patch where Paul and I had our first conversation. Little did I know, he called the church earlier that day to find out if me or my family signed up to attend the event because he wanted a chance to spend some time getting to know me.
Later that weekend after the church service ended, he approached me and my mom.
“A few of us were going to the movies after the hay-ride the other night and no one had your number to see if you wanted to go,” he nervously told me. “So um…um…”
“Would you like it?” I asked with a smirk.
“Uh…yeah. That’d be great.”
I handed him my business card with my head-shot on the front. Emily Rose Mollet- Actress. Singer. Dancer. I was so full of myself and had serious identity
problems, but the Lord was working on me, as I slowly let Him. Paul thanked me and told me to have a good night. I looked at my mom and squealed.
Later that week, I volunteered to chaperone for a field trip with the youth group and was paired up with Paul. (I’m pretty sure he had somehow arranged that) We didn’t do a good job chaperoning because we spent the entire night talking to each other and ignored the rest of the group. He asked me to go out to dinner with him that weekend so we could get to know each other better.
That first date lasted over ten hours!
It was obvious there was a connection between us. He had an amazing sense of humor, and I could tell that he had a huge heart for God and His Kingdom. At about one in the morning, he dropped me off at my car. We hugged good-night and said we would see each other in the morning at church. He took me out to lunch after the service the next day, and we spent the entire afternoon talking and getting to know each other even more. We sat in his car talking about the sermon, and I shared my heart with him about where I was before I came back to the Lord.
He had a completely different experience than me because all he knew was the house of God and being in fellowship with the Lord. I discovered that the very same ministry he had served in since he was seven years old was the one God used to bring me to him. He had served in the TV department at the church running cameras and assistant-producing the program that my mom would watch on Sunday mornings. I was beginning to see God’s hand in this whole story even though it had just begun. At one moment our eyes locked and he reached for my hand.
“I have something to ask you,” he said.
“Yes…?” I respond with my heart beating faster.
“Everyone else in your life has always stolen kisses from you, and I wanted to ask
you for one this time. Emily, can I kiss you?” he gently asked me.
I nodded my head, and he leaned in and kissed me. I had kissed so many men at this point I my life, but this one could not ever be compared to any of them at all. It will forever be marked on my heart and mind. I was completely smitten by this boy (yes, he was a boy at only 18 years old, actually 8 months younger than my little brother! haha). After the evening service that night at church, he began introducing me to his family and friends. He couldn’t stop smiling because his friends had been telling him that he had absolutely no chance with me because he was so much younger than me. He by no means behaved like any 18-year-old I knew, so I didn’t even notice the age difference.
Later that night, he took me to the park by the church, and we sat on a bench with his arm around me. I laid my head on his shoulder and looked up at the stars,wondering how someone like me, someone with such a dark and messy past, could possibly end up with someone like him. We walked to the car with our arms around each other; I fit perfectly under his arm.
Paul looked at me and said, “I’ve never felt this way about anyone before.”
“Me either. This is different. I know we haven’t known each other that long, but I want to be with you for the rest of my life.”
“Me too. Emily, I want to grow old with you.”
That night there was no doubt in either of our minds or hearts that we were supposed to get married. We just trusted God would work out all of the details, and we would follow His leading.
And in October of this year, we will have been walking hand in hand, following God’s leading, for ten years together! It’s been a beautiful story to watch unfold, with God as the author of it all!
Our love story is, of course, my favorite, but like my little sign in my living room reminds me, every love story is absolutely beautiful!
That’s why I am thrilled for the release of the upcoming romantic film, Forever My Girl, that tells of another beautiful love story.
This new film will begin showing in theaters on January 19th…just in time for Valentine’s Day too!
Synopsis: Forever My Girl tells the story of music super-star Liam Page (Alex Roe) who left his bride, Josie (Jessica Rothe), at the altar choosing fame and fortune instead. However, Liam never got over Josie, his one true love, nor did he ever forget his Southern roots in the small community where he was born and raised. When he unexpectedly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his high school best friend, Liam is suddenly faced with the consequences of all that he left behind. Forever My Girl is an uplifting romantic film about second chances.
Watch the trailer below:
Not only does the story line draw me in, but the music soundtrack includes some of country music’s favorites such as CMA New Artist of the Year nominee Lauren Alaina, and Travis Tritt!
Be sure to make plans with your gal pals or your honey next weekend to go see this movie! I’m sure it will be a beautifully sweet one!
The Man Who Invented Christmas- New Film Releasing soon!
November 10, 2017
With the cooler temps breezing into the Midwest, I am getting extremely excited for the season ahead, enjoying parties, Thanksgiving, and….
Of course, Christmas is one of my favorite holidays because it is when us Christians get to joyfully celebrate and remember when our Savior King left His throne, came down to earth, and became Emmanuel, God with us!
My family and I also enjoy all the rest of the typical Christmas traditions such as decorating a tree, gift giving, and tons of yummy food with family.
Another favorite thing we always do is pull out all of the wonderful Christmas movies and reminisce over all the past holiday seasons throughout the years.
Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, A Charlie Brown Christmas…the classics!
And I am thrilled to hear that another Christmas classic is hitting the Big Screen this November…A Christmas Carol!
Well, maybe not exactly another film adaptation of A Christmas Carol, but the story behind the creation of A Christmas Carol and it’s author, Charles Dickens’!
THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS is a delightful family film that will hit theaters on Friday, November 22 – just in time for this holiday season! Actor Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey, Beauty and the Beast) brings beloved author Charles Dickens to life as we follow the inspiration that helped him craft one of the most cherished novels of all time. Some of the others cast in the film include, Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Carribean, Miss Saigon) and screen legend Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music, A Beautiful Mind).
Watch the trailer below and mark your calendars for Friday, November 22nd! Another fun Christmas activity for the whole family to enjoy!
Also, here is a fun behind the scenes featurette for you to enjoy!
Forever My Girl-New Film Releasing in January 2018!
November 8, 2017
I don’t know about you, but I am a total sucker for romantic movies, and when they have music interwoven in them, they are even better! And maybe it’s just my small town, southern Illinois roots, but I have a sweet spot for country music love songs. That’s why I am extremely excited about an upcoming film called FOREVER MY GIRL that is coming to theaters about a month before Valentine’s Day 2018!
Not only does the story line draw me in, but the music soundtrack includes some of country music’s favorites such as CMA New Artist of the Year nominee Lauren Alaina, Travis Tritt, and Alex Roe who stars in the film as country star “Liam Page.”
FOREVER MY GIRL tells the story of country music super-star Liam Page (Alex Roe) who left his bride, Josie (Jessica Rothe), at the altar choosing fame and fortune instead. However, Liam never got over Josie, his one true love, nor did he ever forget his Southern roots in the small community where he was born and raised. When he unexpectedly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his high school best friend, Liam is suddenly faced with the consequences of all that he left behind. -From Roadside Attractions
FOREVER MY GIRL releases in theaters on January 19, 2018, so be sure to mark your calendars and make it a girls’ night out or a date night!
Watch the trailer below!
Holding Onto Hope
March 17, 2017
“Hold onto hope!” were some of the last few words I wrote in my journal as I reflected over my current circumstances.
I had no idea how much the word “hope” would become even more tangible to me as it has bubbled up inside of me these last few weeks while Paul and I have been discussing our future.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
Now, I understand that many Bible scholars and Bible thumpers HATE when people quote this particular verse to apply it towards any given circumstance in life. Many agree that it is widely taken out of context.
I understand that the Lord is talking to Israel through His prophet Jeremiah in this passage, and I also understand that the Israelites would have to endure seventy years of captivity in Babylon before they began to see God’s promise of a great future come to pass.
But does that mean that God’s plans towards us are not good or that we should not remain hopeful of a glorious future ahead?
Of course not!
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28, NKJV).
God’s character has not changed and He loves us just as He loves His chosen people, Israel.
Yet, we definitely need to remember that our definition of good and God’s definition of good could be two completely different things and those plans could possibly involve some suffering and challenges on our way to that glorious future.
And the Lord knows Paul and I have endured some of those challenges and suffering over the last few years that have tested our faith and shaken our hope in the Lord’s promises to us, especially as it concerns our desire for debt freedom- a dream we have had since very early on in our marriage, which has always been accompanied by very limited time together from all of the jobs we have had to take on to see that dream become a reality.
Although those difficult and sometimes painful experiences seem to have loomed over our heads these last two years, they have most definitely become more intensified these last six months or so.
Our son Isaiah has always seemed to have sleeping issues since he was born, but in late September until early February, he was waking up every single night (no exaggeration), multiple times, into the early morning hours. This just so happened to be around the same time I started my new part-time job in retail where for almost three months (well over 20 hours a week) I wouldn’t get home until close to one o’clock in the morning (thanks to those lovely extended holiday hours). All I wanted to do was sleep during the day, and I dreaded having to do it all over again that night, not to mention hating all the time I was missing out on with my family and friends on the weekends as well.
I didn’t know how quickly this would all catch up to me- my health definitely took a turn for the worse, which was difficult for me to experience since I was in the best shape of my life after working out for an entire year straight, eating clean, and taking supplements. But in December, I began experiencing severe bloating, fatigue, and issues with my menstrual cycle that culminated in a chemical pregnancy, which is a type of early miscarriage, because my hormones were extremely imbalanced from all of the added stress. I was having panic attacks in the middle of the night and arguments increased between Paul and I because of the sleep deprivation and utter exhaustion from dealing with a child who would inconsolably scream for hours through the night. Did I mention we live in an apartment complex? I’m sure our neighbors just adore us. 🙂
But thanks be to God…and to friends who have been praying for us continually!
We have seen great improvement in Isaiah’s sleep and in my health this last month! I have had no choice but to hold onto hope. I have had no choice but to fight to hold onto my peace and joy and to fight for my marriage.
I’ve held onto it all with a death-grip, really.
I refuse to sink. I refuse to let the enemy win because frankly, he’s a loser and has already lost the battle.
My Jesus has already won the war!
I know this sounds kinda cheesy, but it has such a deep truth:
I don’t know what my future holds, but I know Who holds my future.
God does.I will hold onto the hope that God is holding onto me. Click To Tweet
Whatever you are facing today, know that God is holding you. He’s got this and He’s not going to let you down. His thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9) and His plans are greater than you could ever ask, think, or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
HOLD ONTO HOPE IN JESUS TODAY, FRIEND! He is your anchor and won’t let you sink!
I’m holding on to hope
I’m holding on to grace
I’m fully letting go
I’m surrendered to Your ways
The anchor for my soul
Father You will never change
I love You, I love You
–From “Anchor” by Bethel Music
Ian Yates’ AWAKEN TO LOVE- A Review
August 17, 2016
As a writer, I often receive emails from my readers from all over the world who take the time to let me know that something I wrote encouraged them or inspired them in whatever they were facing at the time. Those emails always encourage and inspire me! Last month, I got another email from a reader of one of my blog posts, but this time, it was from a Christian music artist “across the pond” who stumbled upon my CD review of Matt Redman’s album Unbroken Praise that I wrote last summer. This Liverpool UK music artist’s name was Ian Yates who I had not heard of before, but he just so happened to be a friend of Mr. Redman and even co-wrote “No Longer I” on Unbroken Praise! How cool!
Ian asked me if I would like to review his new upcoming album, Awaken To Love, that releases next month. Without hesitation, I excitedly agreed and patiently waited to hear his new music!
I can boldly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to these 12 songs non-stop for the last month! I listen to a lot of music, and there are very few albums that I can listen through without skipping through a couple songs. Awaken To Love is one of those easy-listening albums that you can just let loop as you work on your computer or on your commute to work.
Ian’s sound, in my opinion, is a mix between Hillsong’s Young and Free and Switchfoot- upbeat, yet very powerfully moving songs that tell of God’s goodness and love.
He even does a version of another Liverpool artists’ song- The Beatle’s “All You Need is Love,” bringing this classic song to a whole new generation with a brand new sound!
I honestly enjoy every song on this album, but my favorite has to be “He has Never Left You,” reminding the listener of God’s faithfulness and nearness. I am a sucker for acoustic guitar!
Awaken To Love releases on September 16th, but you can pre-order it right now on Ian’s website (receive a a signed physical copy plus a digital download), iTunes, and Amazon!
You seriously don’t want to miss out on this new music! Check out the album trailer in the meantime!
For more information about Ian, his music, and how to connect with him, visit his website: www.ianyatesmusic.com!
Thank you , Ian, for sharing your musical gifts all for God’s glory! It was an honor to get to listen to these amazing songs before they are officially released for the world to hear! God Bless!
God Can Use Empty Cups: Part 2
May 13, 2016
Click to read: “God can use empty cups: Part 1”
I found out very quickly last Saturday that you can indeed pour yourself out even when you don’t feel like you have much to give.
God took full advantage of the fact that I was asked to sing “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” from Phantom of the Opera with my cousin at my grandpa’s funeral. Phantom of the Opera was one of his favorites and my grandpa loved going to hear his grand-daughters sing when we were both involved in musical theater. I just thought I was going to (try to) perform this song (without crying uncontrollably) and quietly sit back down in my seat, but God had other plans.
The night before the funeral service, I rehearsed with my cousin and tried my best to get some sleep, knowing that the next day was going to be a very heavy and emotionally draining one for me and my whole family.
I wrestled on and off trying to fall asleep because I wasn’t sure how I was going to introduce myself and the song and try to make it all sound somewhat uplifting, since the song is VERY VERY DEPRESSING. Absolutely beautiful, but nonetheless, depressing.
Playing out in my head different scenarios, I mentally wrote out my script, but trusted that God would give me the words. Then He told me that He wanted me to say more than just an introduction to the song and why we were singing it.
He wanted me to share my faith and speak His truth about eternity. In front of MY WHOLE FAMILY, many of who are not believers nor have a relationship with Christ at all….yet. 🙂
Immediately, I thought of all of the reasons that I was not equipped to do such a thing:
I haven’t read my Bible in weeks. I’ve pressed the “Catch Me Up” button on my “Digging Deeper Daily” one year Bible plan so many times, I’m about 7 months behind on where my original end date was. My prayer life consists of “Help me, Jesus” and just praying I can stay awake. And YOU want to use ME? To be Your vessel? Right now? Like tomorrow? Or better yet, several HOURS from now???
But one thing I do know about the Lord is that He does not call the qualified. Even in seasons of dryness and weakness, He qualifies the called.
And I know that I’m not only called, but chosen.
So this little chosen solider in the army of the Lord said, “yes sir.” Then I prayed a very familiar prayer:
Empty me of myself. Fill me up with You. I want to be Your vessel. I want to over-flow with You.
Then I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep, trusting that God would fill my mouth with His words.
And He did.
I can’t remember much of what I said, which usually happens when you become a mouthpiece for the Holy Spirit to speak through, but I can say that I poured out every bit of what God poured into me. Not just in that moment, but everything He poured into me in all the years of time spent alone with Him in His Presence. I’m so utterly grateful for the history that I have been able to form with the Lord, especially these last eight years.
I’m also EXTREMELY grateful that God would use this season in my life, a season where I don’t feel like I have much to give based upon my merit or Christian duties of prayer and Bible study, to allow me to share with my family (and extended friends and family who were in attendance that day) about one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given- eternal salvation through the finished work of the Cross of Jesus Christ. Proving that I will never be good enough in my own ability or strength. No, when I am weak, He is so very strong. And His grace is ever sufficient.
Through many tears and a shaky voice, I ended the song in prayer:
Boldly praying and thanking God for my grandpa’s life and all who he touched during his blessed 89 years here on this earth, thanking Him for the opportunity to share the gospel with my grandpa a few years ago where I was able to lead him to Jesus before he took his last breath and met the King of Glory face to face, and then praying for those under the sound of my voice to believe and trust in Jesus Christ and not wait another moment.
Then I opened my tear-filled eyes, slowly walked back to my seat, and sobbed. Many probably thought that I was crying so hard because we had to say our final good-byes to my grandpa (and yes, that was definitely heavy on my heart), but the tears were coming from a place of deep, deep joy and gratitude because God is so incredibly faithful.
He fulfilled a constant prayer of mine in an instant.
That is, I would be able to share with my family how much I love Jesus and how much He loves them, how much He has changed my entire life from the inside out because of His amazing love and forgiveness, and how they can spend eternity in heaven with this beautifully, merciful Savior too.
I thought this was all going to happen at a small, family gathering during the holidays, but God completely blew me away during the most unlikely of circumstances- turning ashes into beauty as He always does.
He used me as an empty cup that day. Emptied completely of myself and my own abilities or strength and filled me up with so much of His love and His Holy Spirit.
My cup now runneth over.
Love and miss you so much, grandpa. I can’t wait to see you again. Soon and very soon. XOXO
Heaven on Earth: Finding Family
January 25, 2016
I heard a quote the other day that really hit me strongly.
“The more heaven comes to earth, the more earth will look like family.” -Jonathan Helser
Oh, how I long to experience heaven in that way again, I thought!
Within that statement, I began to envision the Father’s heart behind His original design of creation, and then seeing His ultimate plan when Jesus came to reconcile man back to God through the Cross.
But I have to admit, any time I heard someone praying “on earth as it is on heaven” or heard songs proclaiming “let heaven come,” my mind immediately associated those words with miracles, signs, wonders, and encountering God’s tangible Presence like never before.
I have experienced those types of encounters both privately and corporately and, yes, they are quite heavenly to be sure!
But there was a point in time where even in a crowded room, among other believers, I still felt like something was missing.
Although I have experienced “family” with a body of believers before, it seemed to have disappeared; I believe the void in my life began forming a couple years ago.
I no longer felt the sense of being a part of the family of God.
I mean, of course, I KNOW I am a daughter in the Kingdom of God, and I know I am a member of the Body of Christ, but the family element of my weekly church gathering had seemed to vanish.
As I saw close friends of mine, one by one, leave our church home, my heart began to grow colder, but instead of dealing with the pain it caused to lose touch with them, I embraced my ministry assignments and kept moving forward in my calling.
But sadly, my personal time with the Lord began to suffer, and I began to view my involvement in ministry leadership as just another job. Because of my driven and goal-oriented personality, I didn’t question this jaded point of view.
Just keep moving ahead with the vision. Don’t look back for those who no longer want to support the vision.
Just keep attending those leadership/planning meetings.
Just keep going to those worship team rehearsals….even on those nights when they are 3 hours long…
Just keep preparing those messages for the youth meetings.
Just keep attending those prayer meetings.
Just get to church early to unlock the building, run through sound-check, wrestle the baby through the service, pray for this visitor, invite that girl to the next youth group outing, stay late for a meeting with Pastor, do the process all over again if there was an evening service/midweek service and then do it all over again next week and the week after that and the week after that…
Just typing through all of that makes me exhausted!
As I have shared in previous posts, by the direction of the Holy Spirit, Paul and I decided to step off of the hamster wheel of ministry at our church home and trusted the Lord would lead us where we belonged…hoping we would find our tribe, our community, our FAMILY.
A few weeks after we stopped running on the “hamster wheel,” we found ourselves in a safe place at a Baptist church, with sound teaching and surrounded by believers who truly love the Lord, but we both knew that our stay would most likely be temporary until we found our new “home.” We enjoyed four months there: Bible studies, Sunday school classes, Christmas concerts, choir rehearsals, and made some new friends. We are truly thankful for everyone who poured into us while we healed from our ministry wounds.
And then yesterday happened.
I’m still giddy from excitement and in awe of how quickly God can make things right in an instant of trusting Him to make all things new.The Lord can take our brokenness and bring wholeness in the blink of an eye! Click To Tweet
A few weeks ago, we kept running into an old friend of ours who also felt the pain of finding family, but recently found her tribe. Yesterday, we decided to take her recommendation, and got the whole family ready for church.
I was filled with such hope and anticipation, and within just a few hours, discovered my prayers of belonging had suddenly came to pass.
Just like I knew Paul was my husband after our first date, I knew this new church was our home after the first service!
Of course, everyone who greeted us as we walked in the door was so warm and inviting and we were both super impressed by the check-in process for their children’s ministry, making it as easy on the parents as possible…so helpful! And who could complain about a church in St. Louis that offers Kaldi’s coffee on tap! *Praise break*
Paul knew I was all in when the worship began. The song choices and the music style are, seriously, the sound of my heart, and since God has created me as a worshipper and songbird, it was hook, line, and sinker for me!
The message was the second one in a series called Renewal, which is totally a word the Lord has been speaking to me about my current season.
Stop mourning past seasons. I want to do something new in your life…trust Me.
I received confirmation on some passages I had been studying during the week, which is always something you are grateful for when coming together corporately to worship and study God’s word!
Then as we were leaving, we were able to connect with a young couple. We found out they only lived a few miles from us, so we exchanged numbers and I spent the next couple hours after we got home connecting with my new friend!
We are both stay-at-home moms too! Another answer to my prayers- finding someone who was in the same stage of life as us!
So within just a few hours, God turned ashes into beauty and is bringing “family” back into our lives again! We are so looking forward to our community group tomorrow night and then I have a girl date with my new friend on Friday- a night of worship with the women of the church!
Lord, You are speaking my love language!
I’m just so thankful and praising God for His faithfulness!
If you are battling discouragement or disappointment in your life right now, especially regarding relationships, I just encourage you to hang on, keep trusting the Lord! He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother and is faithful to the end! Soon and very soon you will find yourself surrounded by those who will love you for who you are and not what you can do for them. They will speak your language and make you feel right at home…
…just like heaven on earth.