A Prayer for Stress- iBelieve.com Post
November 1, 2017
I struggled with anxiety and panic attacks for many years in high school and college, even as a believer. Stress and worry were just a part of my life, and I allowed them to move into my mind and become my permanent mental roommates. From money problems to relationship issues, if it became too much, you would find me curled up in a ball in the fetal position on the floor, hyperventilating until parts of my body went numb and crying until there were no more tears left.
After I graduated college, I began to walk closer with the Lord and study His Word like I never had before in my life. My mind was being renewed and over time, I began to trust the Lord with every care and worry and cast them upon Him like 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to do.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)
The other night when I experienced the panic attack, there was a brief moment where I was given the opportunity to resist the negative thoughts and take them captive and begin to talk to God like I had learned to do so many times before, but this time, I chose to let my mind run in circles. I was so familiar with the experience of a panic attack that I could literally feel it try to overtake me right before it happened. The dark cloud of what I believe was demonic oppression then blanketed my mind and then my whole body. If I would have remembered Philippians 4:6-7 or even 1 Peter 5:7, I would have realized that God offered me a solution to my anxious thoughts. A simple conversation with the Lord would have helped me centered my thoughts and would have brought immediate peace to the whirlwind in my mind.
Excerpt taken from iBelieve.com- read more at ibelieve.com!
How Powerful Prayer Conquered My Panic Attacks- Post on ibelieve.com/crosswalk.com
June 15, 2015
Anxiety seems to plague many Christians lives. I wrestled with anxiety/panic attacks for many years and allowed it to become a part of my life until I realized that Jesus died on the cross so that I could be free from all sickness, including mental sickness! The enemy always tries the same ol’ tricks and the other night recently, fear tried to grip my heart in a very familiar way. Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote for ibelieve.com about anxiety and overcoming it with prayer!
As I wrestled to get my teething son to calm down and fall asleep the other night, it seemed like everything that was weighing heavy on my mind hit me all at once, and I collapsed on the floor in his room and started hyperventilating. I got extremely dizzy and felt like I was losing complete control of my body.
None of this was unfamiliar. I knew what this was because it had happened to me countless time before, even though it had been a long time.
Can’t catch my breath.
Can’t stop shaking.
Help me, Jesus.
I was having a panic attack.
My husband, who was barely able to walk or talk because of a severe migraine and muscle aches, rushed in to our son’s nursery.
“Look at me, Emily,” he said with compassion in his eyes.
“Just breathe. Stay calm. You’re okay.”
I felt trapped in my own body, while my mind was trying its best to calm down.
“Help me, Jesus,” I continued to pray over and over again, but the crying and the shaking just increased.
My husband was holding our son in one arm and with the other he placed his hand on top of my head and began to pray over me and declare the name of Jesus. I immediately felt the power of God overwhelm me and I fell to my knees.
I wept and whispered, “I love You, Jesus. Thank You, Jesus.” Then, suddenly, great peace surrounded me.
Read more over at ibelieve.com! Also, on crosswalk.com!
Max Lucado’s Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer- A Review
January 6, 2015
A book on prayer?
Wait, do I really need to read another book on prayer?
A resounding YES!
And not just any book on prayer, but Max Lucado’s newest book, Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer.
This book is a game changer in your spiritual arena. And as a bonus, it comes with a study guide to further sharpen your warfare skills.
And if you are like me, you could always use a little more battle training.
Although I have been called a “prayer warrior” by friends on different occassions, I definitely have my days when I feel like I am a member of the “PWA: Prayer Wimps Anoynonous,” as Mr. Lucado so humerously describes it at the beginning of Before Amen (pg 1).
Instead of over-analyzing and over-complicating prayer, Mr. Lucado guides the reader through a very simple prayer that he calls the “Pocket Prayer” (aptly highlighted as the titles of each chapter) by using the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus so graciously laid out for us in the sixth chapter of Matthew in the Bible as the template.
By sharing countless examples from personal testimonies from Max’s own life and others who he has met or heard their stories of the miraculous power of prayer, each chapter then discusses in wonderful detail how that mini prayer can unfold during your time simply talking to God, and not just rushing through a time slot somewhere in your busy schedule, but throughout your entire day.
These awesome testimonies of answered prayer found in this book shine a spot-light on God’s faithfulness and goodness and help stir your faith and increase your understanding.
But more than that, for me, it shined a light on areas of my prayer life that seemed to lack faith and understanding.
A very quick read, it didn’t take long for my eyes to be opened to the reality that I could still need some help in my revelation of who I was talking to throughout the day.
I have to admit because of a challenging and wounded relationship with my earthly father who was emotionally distant, praying to God, my Heavenly Father, only wounded my idea of God even more, and for many years I tried to understand how the Creator of the Universe loved me, much less cared about my life.
Needless to say, Mr. Lucado helped re-dress that healing wound in my heart in the chapter titled “Father…Daddy.”
Max unashamedly declares on page 19, “If prayer depends on how I pray, I’m sunk. But if the power of prayer depends on the One who hears the prayer, and if the One who hears the prayer is my Daddy, then I have hope.”
Is God a daddy to me? Do I see Him as MY Daddy?
Before Amen strengthened my answer to those questions and helped me see God even clearer as my Daddy who is always there for me no matter what and loves talking with me everyday.
I believe that is where many stumble, right out of the gate, when it comes to prayer.
If we can’t get past our pride or misunderstandings of the Father, and haphazardly aim our requests into the air just hoping and wishing someone hears them, we are missing out on it all.
Based on the statistics of the rise of divorce and broken homes, now more than ever, this generation desperately needs to know they have a daddy that loves them more than anyone else in their entire life and wants to spend time with them all day everyday!
Before Amen shouts that from the mountain-top and opened up my spiritual ears and heart to receive my Father’s overwhelming love. Knowing that I am loved by God, I long to dive even deeper into prayer as I grow in my understanding of what it means to worship the Lord, ask for my own needs and the needs of others to be met, experience forgiveness through the Blood of Jesus and learn to forgive, and walk out my whole day with a heart of thanksgiving of all that the Lord has done for me.
This book ignited a fire in my heart to once again seek out the passion and excitement of running into my Daddy’s lap and talking to Him about anything and everything, knowing that I don’t have to go through life alone.
I believe after reading this book, you will experience the same kind of fire in your prayer life as well. Definitely be sure to add it to your checklist for 2015!
Purchase Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer today, Family Christian‘s book of the year!
What Is the Enneagram? 3 Reasons Christians Should Use It with Caution- iBelieve.com Post
March 26, 2019
The popularity of The Enneagram, especially within Christian circles, really stirred up some questions as to why so many people were being drawn to this test that apparently brings about “breakthrough” in unhealthy personality traits or behavior. Why would a Christian use a source outside of the Bible to find self knowledge and find such identity in it? What is really behind this information?
When I pitched this idea to my editor at iBelieve, she really wanted me to discuss both the positives and concerns of The Enneagram (I tried to stay as close to her wishes as much as possible), but the more I researched about the origins of The Enneagram, the more concerned I became. Although the title of this article (which I did not pen) says Christians “should use it with caution,” I highly urge believers to use discernment in their involvement with this test/system at all. Any type of involvement in pagan/occultic practices should be taken very seriously. I pray you always look to the Lord and the Bible as your ultimate source of knowledge and identity.
______________________________________________________________________________When I was in high school, our science teacher taught us about biorhythms, which are mathematical measurements that can be charted and used to attempt to predict various cycles of a person’s life (physical, emotional, and intellectual) using the date of birth as a variable. In addition to completing a personal charting assignment for class, I would very frequently visit websites to review where my physical, emotional, and intellectual states would land that day/week/month. Would my emotional well-being land in the high mark or low mark this week? Is that why I was feeling ‘off’ today? Ironically enough, several controlled studies have deemed biorhythms as nothing more than pseudoscience, but there seemed to be something so captivating about possibly predicting my moods and understanding patterns of my behavior using this tool.
When the excitement of biorhythms faded, my best friend and I would hang out at Denny’s where she would perform “a reading” using Tarot cards while we sipped on our mediocre coffee. I would find some type of comfort in what was uncovered as each card was turned over. That’s why my life is a mess right now! Oh, maybe I should pursue that relationship after all!
I was a Christian. If you didn’t know this already, these practices are clearly New Age and occultic in nature. The Bible is very clear that God forbids such pagan practices and considers this divination, which is a grave sin (1 Samuel 15:23; see also Deuteronomy 18:9, 12 & 14).
Thankfully, when I got serious about following the Lord, I realized how dangerous it was to seek out answers from anything else but my Creator as well as seek other spiritual avenues that do not, above all, have a foundation in the Word of God.
Why would a Christian get caught up in these kinds of practices in the first place?
We Long to be Known
I think it stems from the desire to know ourselves and to be known. We long to discover answers to the unknown.
Let’s go back to Creation.
Adam and Eve enjoyed unbroken fellowship with God. They were naked and unashamed. Nothing was hidden. They were fully known by their Creator. As humans, if we are honest with ourselves, we long for this too.
Because of The Fall, we experience separation from God; there is this void in our hearts and a desire to be known by our Creator.
All of this- this desire to be fully known- had me wondering about another typology method that is pursued for such knowledge about our life and those we are connected to- personality tests, specifically The Enneagram.
If you are not familiar with the Enneagram, I will not judge you for living under a rock. I kid, I kid. Although it is not new- some even say it has ancient origins- it does seem to be a major buzzword lately on social media, even among Christian circles.
What is the Enneagram test?
The Enneagram is a personality typology method that is useful for understanding the inner workings and motivations behind human behavior, both healthy and unhealthy, and how we interact with others. Based upon their unique responses to the various questions in the test, everyone is considered to fall into one single type as their primary personality with a secondary personality trait called a “wing.” A person’s personality isn’t confined to just one type, but they can have traits belonging to other ones. There are nine types (“ennea” means “nine”) using the numbers one through nine. Each number has been given a descriptive name. For example, my enneagram number is a two, which is described as “The Helper.” My wing is a number three, which is described as “The Achiever.”
The Enneagram Institute boldly declares that this test is “one of the most powerful and insightful tools for understanding ourselves and others.”
According to the Institute, “… the Enneagram helps us to see ourselves at a deeper, more objective level and can be of invaluable assistance on our path to self-knowledge.”
Now, while I am not directly comparing reading Tarot cards or your horoscope to be the same thing as taking a personality test, I honestly believe the underlying desire is the same. We long to know answers about ourselves, about others, about the world around us. We are fascinated by discovering our identity, purpose, the meaning of the life- the whys and whats behind our existence.
Why Is the Enneagram So Popular?
We have this deep-seated desire to be known. Ultimately, I believe we equate being known to being loved.
Perhaps that is why the Enneagram test is so popular. There has always been a human desire to find identity, who we truly are, but might I boldly declare, Beloved, if you are a believer, this will only be fulfilled if found in Christ. We were created to be loved, but most importantly, loved by God.
Although engaging in the Enneagram may not blatantly fall under involvement in divination like Tarot card reading or astrology, I do think as Christians we should use this “powerful and insightful tool” with caution. The Enneagram has some questionable origins at best, but that is an entirely different topic for another time. I agree, the Enneagram test can be a very helpful tool to explore human behavior and motivations, but if we are going to utilize it as believers, there are a few things I think we should prayerfully consider.
Read more at iBelieve.com
Just Keep Breathing
September 16, 2018
It’s Sunday morning.
And I am at home.
I would normally be at church right now with my family, but my (very fussy, teething who is obsessed with comfort-nursing) 7 month old is fighting a cold. Considering we just faced this last week with our 3 year old who is majorly sensitive to pain or un-comfortableness (well, what 3 year old isn’t dramatic, right?), all I can say is “Momma is tired.”
Stress has been high, y’all. My right eye won’t stop twitching. Sleep deprivation is starting to become a part of my daily reality.
Where my mommas at?? This is #momlife.
And in a weird, optimistically sadistic way, I love it! Ha!
Moms are weird. Or maybe, it’s just me?
I often wonder if I will be able to physically and emotionally be able to take another hard day. Each day seems to drain every ounce of energy I have to give and sometimes it feels like I have to remind myself to breathe.
Although sometimes I find myself holding my breath when I am stressed to the max (and there has been a lot of instances lately…), I don’t have to remind myself to breathe. My body simply keeps breathing. Adding mom-brain to the mix, I am so glad I don’t have to remember to breathe…I would be in respiratory distress way too many times throughout the day if that was the case!
As I was reflecting upon this basic human function- breathing- I realized how dependent I am upon my Creator to physically remain alive. He is the One who filled my lungs with breath when I came into being and is the One who sustains every single breath since my very first one.
The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things… (Act 17:24-25, NASB).
Why do I worry?
I think it is important to truly acknowledge this. Instead of complaining about how stressed I am, I need to simply ask myself why I am worried.
This goes for all of us- not just moms. Stress, worry, and anxiety are our body’s response to being overwhelmed. Most likely we are putting ourselves into this state of panic because we are trying to control the outcome and trying to do it all in our own strength. As believers, we know that God is sovereign. We proclaim “God is control.” If we honestly believed this, we wouldn’t allow ourselves to be completely crushed under the weight of the stresses of life.
Life is stressful, but we do not have to live in a constant state of stress. If we do, there must be a part of us that believes we can completely control or fix our circumstances- this is oh so prideful, friends.
…all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5: 5b-7, NASB).
I love how these two ideas are connected in these Bible verses.
HUMILITY= ENCOURAGEMENT & GRACE
When we remain anxious for a long period of time, we are choosing to control the situation and not hand it over to the Lord. We are simply telling God, “It’s okay. I’ve got this. I don’t need Your help.”
Grace is a gift from the Father. It empowers us to walk out our calling and the assignments the Lord has given us. We are weak without it.
Jesus told the Apostle Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Like breathing, it is by His grace that we have the ability and strength to do anything for Him. If grace is like the air in our lungs, then constant anxiety is like holding a pillow over your own face. Click To Tweet
(I am shouting at myself too…)
Stop trying to suffocate yourself!
Now, I know that for many people, anxiety goes beyond your thought-life and can be a very serious medical condition regarding chemical imbalances and inflammation in the brain. I have been there many times throughout my life and still struggle with it…hello, crazy hormones! In this case, seek medical attention if you believe your anxiety is caused by a physical problem going on in your body. I believe in total wholeness and wellness: spirit, soul, AND BODY.
No matter what, we need God’s grace and help!
Most of the time, experiencing anxiety, worry, and stress are signs that you are trying to gain control and are struggling. You will undoubtedly experience those things in life (the Bible tells that we must cast our anxieties upon the Lord, so obviously there will be anxieties to cast), but they do not have to be your everyday reality because we should never hold onto them. When we are beginning to panic or stress-out, this is an opportunity to humble ourselves and call out to the Lord for help. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us that He cares for us, and because He is such a good, good Father, He longs to help take care of our needs.
Calling out to the Lord for help should be an everyday occurrence, especially during intense and overwhelming situations.
“Help me, Jesus” is my go-to prayer all-day everyday as a mom of little ones, and I am not ashamed to admit it! His grace and peace come into my situation as I fix my thoughts upon His goodness and faithfulness. I remind my head that Jesus is Lord and that He is in control. Without trying, breath fills my lungs, and hope fills my heart once again.
Take a deep breath and remember that God will care for you, no matter what stresses may come to overwhelm you.
Father, I pray for those who are feeling overwhelmed by their circumstances right now. I ask that You would graciously remind them to surrender their control over to You, the only One who can sustain all things and bring true peace and hope. Thank You for your grace and your strength when we feel so powerless. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“You Put My Tears in Your Bottle”: Drawing Close to the God Who Sees Our Pain- iBelieve.com Post
August 3, 2018
I laid on the cold, sterile exam table feeling uneasy from the moment I parked my car. I thought, “Paul and I were just here 2 weeks ago. We got to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time and got pictures to show our family. Why did the doctor need to see me again for an ultrasound?”
I told my husband he didn’t have to come with me to this appointment since it would just be a quick routine checkup on the baby’s growth, which is what I was told. Since this was my first pregnancy, I didn’t think anything of it when I put the appointment on my calendar, but the closer I got to the doctor’s office on my drive there, I was starting to worry and question why I needed to be seen again so early on.
Within the first few minutes of the ultrasound, the doctor got very quiet and simply said, “Oh, I hate when this happens.”
“What?” I asked, my heart racing faster and faster.
“There is no heartbeat. I’m so sorry.”
That Kind of Faith
I sat up, tears streaming down my face and let out a big sigh. She asked if I was going to be okay.
With a shaky voice, I pointed her to the One that has always been near to me during times like these.
“I have been through a lot in my short life. I have had some serious valley experiences. My dad was murdered several years ago, two divorces ripped a part my family, serious family illnesses, anxiety, depression…but my faith in God has always gotten me through it. This will be no different. Jesus is faithful.”
She sat across from me still, nodded her head, and said “I’m glad you have that kind of faith. I will give you some time alone…just get dressed and come out whenever you are ready, and we will talk about our options.”
Although this baby went on to be with the Lord early on in my pregnancy, Paul and I did not believe this would be the end of our story; we strongly believed God would give us a child, and we would rest and trust in His timing. God was faithful to us and we now have two sons. But do those two sons erase the pain of losing a baby? No.
Although God answered our prayers to have children, He still saw all of those tears and was with me as my heart and body healed. I looked to the only One who could keep me from being crushed under the weight of my grief. I knew that I was not alone in my sorrow. God saw me in my pain and did not overlook it.
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8, NLT).
The same was true, years before, after I received the news that my dad had been brutally murdered. Honestly, my faith met at a crossroad during that time in my life. Instead of allowing the weight of that loss to completely crush me, I chose to look to Jesus. I chose to call upon the Lord and to stand upon Christ, my solid Rock, and believe He was good and He was in control. I chose to have faith in the One who is near to the brokenhearted.
Read more at iBelieve.com
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.
Expecting: What will be birthed through me in 2018?
January 5, 2018
January 4th, 2018.
4 days into the new year. How’s 2018 going so far for you?
For me, it seems like I am finally finding time to write down goals/dreams and be still to listen with more clarity to what God wants to do in and through me this year.
Some people use the end of the year to reflect upon the past year and look forward to what is ahead when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st.
I’d like to say that I had ample time to do some mega reflecting, soul searching, and waiting on the Lord for direction and vision for 2018 at the end of December, but like so many other people because of the rush of the holiday season, my life was pretty full, frantic, and fast-paced for much of the month of December.
Aside from birthday celebrations, my wedding anniversary, Christmas, and New Years, (and oh yeah, GROWING A HUMAN!), December truly was just the culmination of much hard work for probably 6 months, especially regarding completing tons of writing deadlines, serving on a team at the Gateway House of Prayer as a singer, and one specific Kingdom assignment- writing, producing, and directing a Christmas production for my church! Although that assignment is now complete, I know there is still much Kingdom work to do that God is calling me to!
All of this was a huge change of pace for me, considering I was in a “season of rest” and “pressing pause” on many responsibilities for like…um…2.5 years!
Instead of merely reflecting on 2017, God really has been highlighting a period of time where He had to intervene before the train completely derailed, and I ended up in a padded room somewhere.
No, instead of focusing on 2017, I feel like I need to reflect and give God glory for this last extended season of the soul because I am truly no longer the same woman.
I sit here and also reflect upon the fact that I am about to give birth to my second child within the next month, after months and months of growth and development of a life inside of me, experiencing a change in my appetite and a major change in the way I walk.
Just like my second baby boy that is about to be born soon, I believe God is going to “birth” something through me this year that has taken more preparation, growth, and change in me than a mere 40 weeks, I can tell you that much…how about a spiritual pregnancy that has probably lasted over 3 years!
Ironically enough, all of this preparation, growth, and change in appetite and change in my walk started when my son was born, on October 11th, 2014- the day I became a mom.
Because I thought that I could go on with “life as usual,” I was seriously shaken by the fact that life would never be the same, that I would never be the same.
Things that I thought I had overcome reared its ugly head and began taunting me.
Rejection. Depression. Anxiety. Fits of anger and rage.
Just a few months into motherhood, I heard God whisper that I needed to learn how to “just be,” but it was so completely foreign to me that I just kept trying to run full speed ahead (especially regarding the many leadership hats I wore at my church, my writing ministry, and the release and promotion of my book in 2015- radio and TV interviews and networking with ministry leaders filling up my schedule and my focus). I was seriously running on fumes from utter stress and mega sleep deprivation (because my son refused to sleep until I was holding him or laying next to him), and then trying to get high off of the fumes from my accomplishments and productivity, thinking that (and coffee) would fix everything.
It all caught up to me, and I started to severely struggle in my physical and mental health in ways that I never had before.
More anxiety. More depression. More panic attacks. Weird physical symptoms like restless leg syndrome, insomnia, chronic ulcers in my mouth, and eventually an irregular cycle that would lead to a chemical pregnancy later on.
I felt like the air was being sucked from my lungs.
I felt so completely broken, but I would have no choice but to continue to stand on the promise that God would bring restoration to my life!
Little did I know that I wouldn’t see that promise start to come to fruition for another 2 years…in 2017!
Within that span of time, God told us to sell our house and move back to the county, step down from ALL leadership at our church home of 4.5 years and transition us and prepare our hearts into searching for a new church home (which all sadly came with much wounds from rejection and abandonment from ministry friends- but praise be to God for healing this area of our hearts over time), all while completely deconstructing every single Christian ideology/theology Paul and I stood upon in our marriage. We truly learned (and are continuing to learn) why we believed what we believed for the first time in either of our lives, immersing ourselves in the scriptures for ourselves and not clinging to what our upbringing, our pastor, or TV preacher told us was truth.
We became like the Bereans discussed in Acts 17:
The brothers[b] immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so (10-11, ESV).
In January 2016, after months of wrestling with all of these changes and realizing many doors were going to stay closed for me for a long time, I finally embraced the call the “just be” and rest. I finally surrendered to God as He stripped me of any title that I tried to find my identity in.
So much happened in me from January 2016 into Spring 2017. I learned how to simply be “Beloved” and “Daughter,” and learned how to find my rest in God alone.
It was from that place of rest that I would eventually find healing and restoration- physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually- truly learning how to become a vessel for God’s glory- spirit, soul, and body.
That process did not come without resistance and struggle though, and there would be countless opportunities to become discouraged, as we began dealing with Isaiah’s nightly wakings again- every night, 3-5 times a night for almost six months, all while I was trying to serve on a night-watch prayer team for two 10 week terms back to back, and hold down a part-time retail job in customer service at the height of the holiday season. Yep, all of that will definitely try your faith!
But we held onto HOPE the best we could!
Eventually, we experienced such great breakthrough with Isaiah’s sleep because of our church community’s willingness to stand with us in intense prayer…for that I will be forever thankful!
Then on Resurrection Sunday 2017, I realized God had been so faithful to bring restoration and resurrection life in so many areas of my life. That morning, one of my pastors approached me during soundcheck on my first Sunday leading worship at our new church home (after not standing in that role for a year and a half by that point) and told me that the Lord had put me on his heart recently during prayer and kept hearing the word “restoration.”
“Does that mean anything to you?” he asked.
Yes, yes it did! He was restoring my joy again, just like He promised!
And the restoration continued throughout 2017:
- Where we had issues conceiving, I found out I was pregnant shortly after Mother’s Day. Timely… 🙂
- God restored my writing and teaching ministry- countless articles written, reaching and encouraging readers from all over the globe that email me constantly, more networking connections made and freelance job opportunities, and being able to continue to lead a group of precious women through the Bible at Diane’s House (Teen Challenge St. Louis).
- God restored and breathed new life into my creative outlets with singing at the House of Prayer here in St. Louis and brought theater back into my life with the assignment of writing and directing the Christmas production.
- God restored the assignment of testifying for Him and sharing more about my book with my church community where my book is given out to visitors for free! More reached for Christ!
- God restored and strengthened relationship after relationship, bringing genuine friendship into my life, as we learned how to encourage and pray for each other in our struggles and trials. I have some of the closest relationships with godly women in my life right now- it seriously overwhelms me with so much JOY to even think about it! An answer to a prayer that I have believed and ask for MANY YEARS!
- God restored and strengthened my marriage on such a deep level as we survived the first 3 years as parents and learned how to always fight to hang onto loving and forgiving each other, no matter how difficult it may get. I don’t know where I would be without the support of my best friend who works so incredibly hard for our family (yay for TWO promotions in ONE YEAR!). Super huuuuuuuuubbbbbssss!!
- God even restored and is restoring relationships within my family that I thought would be impossible to ever see reconciliation.
For over 2 years, all I knew to do was to keep breathing, even though I had to fight for air so many times.
But God gave me my breathe back. The air is back in my lungs, and I can run without growing weary because of how He has taught me to wait and rest upon Him (Isaiah 40: 28-31), one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn to date, let me tell you!
So what does all of this mean for me for 2018? What is going to be birthed through me this year?
Well aside from another baby boy, obviously, I don’t know exactly what will all transpire this year, but I can tell you that I am expectant!
The Lord has already been giving me specific instructions as to what He wants me to focus on this year as He strengthens me and gives me courage to face all that is ahead in this new year and new season (STRENGTH and COURAGE being my words for 2018).
I feel like since 2017 gave me the breath back in my lungs, I have gained the momentum to hit the ground running into 2018. I’m starting this year in wholeness, not brokenness.
Some of you had a really difficult 2017, experiencing so many trials, storms, disappointments, and setbacks. Feeling broken and bruised, your faith really took a beating.
That wasn’t really the case for me this last year.
I don’t share that to rub it in your face, beloved. My faith has definitely taken a beating in the past, and I have experienced those times of trials and storms and disappointments just like what I shared with you in this blog post and through so many other blog posts I have written over the last three years on this journey to restoration.
Those storms, trials, and setbacks are not the end of your story, my friends! Just like they were not the end of mine!
Hope is on the way! Joy is on the way! Peace that passes all understanding is on the way! No matter what, God has good in store for you! Don’t give up, don’t give in! He’s going to turn it all around…just wait and see! He is so incredibly faithful!
I pray that this year, I will be able to continue to lead and encourage many more people as the Lord infuses me with His strength and courage! I want to help you get your breath back so I can see you run alongside of me and help others on their journey to complete wholeness, as we learn to give God all the glory with every fiber of our being!
Blessings to you in this new year! Expect your miracle…expect your breakthrough…expect restoration and healing! Expect, expect, expect!