Do You Know Who You Belong To?

identity, fathers, fatherless, child, children, purpose, belonging, God, Heavenly Father, position, destiny, devotional, rest

“But to all who did receive [Jesus], He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God” (John 1: 12-13, HCSB).


Those who try to find their identity in what they do will always be searching for their ultimate purpose and will never find fulfillment in life.

Why?

Because there is only one position that will ever give you a sense of purpose.

You are a child of God! You are His!

When you receive Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you are then adopted into the family of God. We find this amazing truth in John 1: 12-13.

But sadly, many of us continue to look for purpose on our walk with God, working to achieve His love, instead of just trusting in it. I am extremely familiar with this type of mentality because even after I received God’s forgiveness when I called upon Jesus to be my Savior, I still thought I had to work for that forgiveness to maintain it. Because I didn’t fully understand that my faith in Christ is what pleased God, I tried to perform for God, thinking my talents and gifts were what made me valuable and loved by Him.

Of course, this distorted view of God stemmed from my very dysfunctional relationship with my earthly father. Sadly, because his addiction to alcohol and pornography hindered him from showing me genuine love and affection, I didn’t feel loved by him, and tried all that I could to show him that I was worth loving through my gifts and abilities- High honor roll student, playing clarinet in the marching band, star in the Spring Musicals, Cheerleading Captain, Student Council officer, track star…the list went on and on.

No wonder I was always stressed out and exhausted! But over time, the Holy Spirit began to reveal to me the Father-heart of God. My mind was renewed through the truth of scripture of who God is through the glorious gospel message. The more I studied the gospels, the more I fully received His mercy and love.

Truthfully, God is very unimpressed with your performance, but He is deeply impressed with Christ’s performance.  You will find such freedom when you finally realize you can rest in knowing that Jesus paid for your performance and by putting your faith in that, God sees you as His daughter or son and His love for you is never-ending. Because of what Jesus did on the Cross, you can literally do nothing to change that. Embrace the Cross and the Father will embrace you as His child!

Father God, thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to not only die for my sins to be forgiven, but to restore me back to You as Your child, the greatest position I will ever stand in!


Read more: Galatians 3:26-4:1-7

“He Pulled It From the Mud”

sin, struggle, testimony, deliverance, healing, freedom, devotional, truth

“I waited patiently for the Lord, and He turned to me and heard my cry for help. He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure” (Psalm 40: 1-2, HCSB).

God will use pretty much anything to get your attention, so He can get a message across to you sometimes. The other day I was just having a really rough day and was struggling to find joy. While I was looking up the weather forecast online, hoping maybe it would be warm and sunny to help brighten my gloomy day, a story headline caught my eyes- “He Pulled It From the Mud,” it read in bold letters.

Immediately, one of my favorite passages from the Psalms came to my mind: Psalm 40: 1-3, specifically verse 2: “He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure.”

This truth is at the core of my personal testimony of how God changed my life completely and transformed my hardened clay heart into a vessel He could us for His glory! For many years, I chose to live in the pit of my sin and self-destruction, even though I was completely miserable and full of so much pain from my terrible life choices. I struggled with alcohol abuse, sexual sin, pride, and was plagued by anxiety and depression. Then one glorious day, I cried out to the Lord, He heard my cry, and He helped me out of my pit!

Then I realized that this truth is the core of every believer’s story!

When we cry out the name of Jesus, the Father reaches down into our slimy pit of sin and pulls our life from the mud, the filth of this world, and He gives us a new heart and begins to transform us from the inside out. He pulls us up from the pit of darkness and despair and sets our feet upon the firm foundation of the Rock, Christ Jesus. He not only does all of that, but He helps establish our steps as we learn to walk in faith, hand in hand with Christ. The longer we walk with Jesus, and learn of His of ways as His follower and disciple, we begin to see true life transformation and a deep change of heart.

I believe this is something we must keep at the forefront of our minds at all times to remind us of where God has taken us from. How can we not remain thankful? If you are struggling to find joy today, be grateful that “He pulled it (your life) from the mud!”  

Father, thank you for rescuing me from the pit, picking me up out of the miry clay, and setting my feet on solid ground. Help me to always remain thankful for this truth every single day!


Read more: Psalm 91: 14-16; Colossians 1:13

Finding Rest in the Yoke of Christ

rest, peace, burdens, control, people pleasing, trust, anxiety, worry, fear


“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, HCSB).

For a majority of my life, I was what many would call a “control freak.” It overwhelmed so much of my life that I even tried to control how people related to me, which meant I tried my best to be a people-pleaser. It’s extremely difficult to cultivate authentic and genuine relationships when you are constantly adapting and hiding your true self just to keep others happy and keep the peace. 

You can imagine why this would cause anxiety within your soul because you are simply not living honestly- with yourself, with others, or with God. For me, it was just a matter of time before that lifestyle became such a heavy burden upon my shoulders that I could no longer carry. The weight became too much for me that I lived in a constant state of worry and panic.

But one day, Jesus’ words in Matthew 11 beckoned me to come to Him and give Him all of the heaviness I was trying to carry on my own.

I must admit, when I first read His words to “take up [His] yoke” to find rest, I was hesitant. How would taking upon a yoke around my neck bring me rest? I pictured an ox plowing a field with a wooden yoke around its head, and the image didn’t bring about thoughts of peace and rest, but more exhaustion. I saw a yoke as bondage.

But that is the beauty of Jesus’ words and the beauty of the Kingdom of God that operates differently than the world’s system. Where I initially saw bondage by surrendering my control, God was revealing to me that His yoke is actually a tool He uses to help us move forward in the destiny that He has for our lives. When we yoke ourselves together with Jesus, He carries the load upon His shoulders and His peace and rest comes into our lives. Click To TweetHis grace carries us while we walk along side of Him, connected to Him, trusting His ways over our own.

Over time, God has taught me to run to Him first and trust Him with every single detail of my life, including my relationships. When the cares of this life try to overwhelm me and bring stress and anxiety, instead of taking matters into my own hands, I must remember to come to Him every day for rest and peace. Thankfully, His peace surpasses all understanding and is unlike anything else this world can offer us.

Father, show me areas of my life that I have been trying to control- areas that are bringing unnecessary burdens that You do not intend for me to carry. Lord, I run into Your arms and gladly take upon Your yoke, knowing that You alone bring me the rest that my soul needs.


Study more: Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7

Just Keep Breathing

breathing, stress, worry, fear, anxiety, anxiousness, Jesus, peace, hope, strength, faith, humility, grace, prayer, bible, truth, motherhood, momlife, boymom, toddlers, babies, Christian mom

Photo by: Eli DeFaria- courtesy of Unsplash


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.”

REALLY. 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 humbleTherefore 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.

PRIDE=ANXIETY

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.

How to Show Empathy (Without Internalizing Everyone’s Negative Emotions)- iBelieve.com Post

empathy, boundaries, friendship, trials, storms, grief, sorrow, pain, sympathy, listening, friends, toxic, relationships, loss


One of my nicknames in high school was “Queenie,” short for “Drama Queen.”

I understand that not all women are this way, but I guess I have always been an emotional person by nature. Of course, there were many times where my emotions got the best of me. I was pulled under and tossed to and fro by anxiety, chaos, worry, and drama. I would eventually find a place to release all of those emotions – the theater.

My emotions negatively affected many of my relationships because I didn’t know how to experience and process them in a healthy manner. My feelings controlled me when it should have been the other way around. Perhaps, this drama queen was attracted to drama, or perhaps, I simply wanted to help others weather the storm of their own emotions. Yet in addition to my own mess that I would find myself in over the years, it seemed my life got even more dramatic and chaotic when I allowed others’ junk to pile onto mine. Suddenly, I was carrying others’ baggage including my own. After a while, that starts to get heavy!

Thankfully, there came a point in my life where I cried out to the Lord that I couldn’t do it any longer on my own; it was just too heavy to carry anymore. Jesus found me in my mess, under all of my heavy suitcases, and He set me free from all of the unnecessary burdens that weighed me down. He showed me how to trust Him and surrender my emotionally-out-of-control/control-freak-ways all to Him.

We truly weren’t meant to carry around all this baggage!

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NLT).

It took time, but I learned how to find rest in Lord. The Holy Spirit helped me cultivate the fruit talked about in Galatians 5:22-23 (especially self-control) and taught me how to tell my emotions who’s boss. Take that, anxiety! Take that, anger! Take that, bitterness! Take that, depression!

Although I knew to run to Jesus when I was emotional, weary, or anxious, if I was around others (whether one-on-one, or my family, or people I encountered at work, or even things I would hear in the news or on the internet) who were going through a dark time or just needed to vent, I still found myself taking on their negativity and anxiety. Why? Because:

I wanted to help them through the struggle.

I wanted to bear their burdens like the Bible says we are to do (Galatians 6:2).

I wanted to show them empathy and put myself in their shoes.

All good things, right? As long as you don’t lace up those shoes and run off with them!

Ultimately, we cannot control the sadness or destruction going on in the world or in others’ lives around us, nor can we control others’ behavior or actions. But we can control how we react to it all and keep our own emotions in check.

Before we become involved in someone else’s problem or emotional experience, I believe the most important thing we must do is to guard our own heart.

Proverbs 4:23 tell us “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (NIV).

We don’t want our heart to become someone else’s dumpster. Considering the heart as the soil in which we bear good fruit (Luke 8:15), we must protect it from negativity, worldliness, worry, bitterness, and anxiety. Those things will only act like weeds and choke out the growth of the seed of the Word of God in your life.

When it comes to healthy interaction in relationships, our involvement in others’ personal problems, and exuding empathy, I think people can fall in certain categories: those in mourning, the pessimists, and the toxic. Depending on which category the person may fall under, I believe we can better understand how the Lord may be able to use us as an instrument of healing through walking in empathy in a healthy manner as well as what our role in their life may be during the hard time.


Read more at iBelieve.com

 

“You Put My Tears in Your Bottle”: Drawing Close to the God Who Sees Our Pain- iBelieve.com Post

pain, sorrow, loss, death, murder, miscarriage, loss, family, tears, faith, truth, tragedy, peace, hope, comfort


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

GOD FRIENDED ME- Coming to CBS this Fall!

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I was feeling somewhat frazzled today. These last few weeks have been a whirlwind to say the least. A tragedy hit our family like a freight-train at the beginning of July (I will share more about that soon), and I honestly cannot believe next week is already August. The “to-do” list in my mind was getting a little too long for me to keep up with mentally, especially with baby James not quite sleeping through the night yet, along with teething, plus fevers and projectile vomiting from an allergic reaction to multiple mosquito bites with my oldest. Thankfully, I’m not living the “mombie” life this time around like I did with Isaiah, but I still need #allthecoffee and as always, JESUS!

So I put the baby down for a nap, prayed, and sat down (with my iced coffee, of course) to write down the tasks that I need to tackle.

Ok, I can breathe a little better.

Now, oddly enough, this blog that I was asked to share was something that helped me see a little more clearly and reminded me once again that GOD IS IN CONTROL.

In the midst of a very full inbox, an email was waiting for me that God knew I would need to open today, especially after these last emotionally exhausting and draining weeks. I watched the preview of this new TV show called GOD FRIENDED ME that is coming to CBS in September and tears filled my eyes. The message of this TV show is something everyone needs to hear:

CONNECT TO SOMETHING (OR SOMEONE) BIGGER THAN YOURSELF.

In a world where we are lacking genuine human connection, this show reminds us that God created us for a bigger purpose than ourselves and that His grand design connects us all in someway, and if we yield our lives to Him, we can see His glory revealed through our lives and hopefully point others to Him in the process.

Here is the show’s synopsis:

GOD FRIENDED ME is a humorous, uplifting drama about an outspoken atheist whose life is turned upside down when he receives a friend request on social media from God and unwittingly becomes an agent of change in the lives and destinies of others around him. Miles Finer is intelligent, hopeful and optimistic, but he doesn’t believe in God. This puts him at odds with his father, Reverend Arthur Finer, a beloved preacher at Harlem’s Trinity Church for 25 years who is stung by his son’s strong rejection of his faith. Miles feels he’s found his purpose in life hosting a podcast where he’s free to speak his mind, but that changes when he receives the ultimate friend request. After repeated pokes by God, Miles’ curiosity takes over, and he accepts the request and follows the signs to Cara Bloom, an online journalist suffering from writer’s block. Brought together by the “God Account,” the two find themselves investigating God’s friend suggestions and inadvertently helping others in need. Joining them on their journey are Miles’s supportive sister, Ali, a doctoral psych student by day and bartender by night, and his best friend, Rakesh, a sometime hacker who helps Miles and Cara research the enigmatic account. Miles is set on getting to the bottom of what he believes is an elaborate hoax, but in the meantime he’ll play along and, in the process, change his life forever.

Watch the first-look featurette below:

GOD FRIENDED ME premieres on Sunday, Sept. 30th on the CBS Television Network and will air on Sundays (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT). 

What God Has Taught Me Through the Seasons Where I Felt “Stuck”-iBelieve Post

stuck, stressed, perfectionist, new mom, dreams, goals, motherhood, soul, peace, anxiety, rest, stillness, child of God

 


“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.

Feeling Stuck

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

THE MIRACLE SEASON- A Must See Movie!

new releases, movies, volleyball, Helen Hunt, movies, films, true stories, media, Grace Hill Media

I have always really enjoyed going to the movies with friends and family, creating memories indulging in overly buttery popcorn, over-priced candy and soda and some quality entertainment. But as I have gotten older, I have to admit, I don’t go to the movies all too often anymore. One of the main reasons has a lot to do with the “quality entertainment” part.

Obviously, as a Christian, I am cautious and hesistant of what types of movies that I watch. Not out of prudence or judgementalism, but simply as a means to guard my heart. I am a firm believer that what you feed your soul- what you listen to, what you watch, watch you focus your mind on- affects the way you respond and interact with the world.

After all, the Bible tells us in Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) to:

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.

So needless to say, I am excited any time I hear of solid faith-based movies that will be released in theaters. And it just so happens that there is one releasing today! LD Entertainment, the same production company that brought us the faith film RISEN, and the same director (Sean McNamara) as the faith-based film SOUL SURFER (one of my favorites!) is releasing another film that is based on a true story, called THE MIRACLE SEASON! The film stars Helen Hunt (TWISTER was another favorite of mine when I was a kid!), William Hurt, Erin Moriarty and Danika Yarosh.

This new film is based on the inspiring true story of West High School girls’ volleyball team. After the tragic death of the school’s star player Caroline “Line” Found, the remaining players must band together under the guidance of their tough-love coach in hopes of winning the state championship.

And because I got the privilege of viewing this wonderful story in an online screening a couple weeks ago, I can boldly say…

…YOU NEED TO GO SEE THIS FILM!

The cast is extremely talented and authentic in their deliveries of sharing this true story (Danika Yarosh, the actress portraying Caroline, was delightful!) so much so, I found myself wanting to be friends with the real people being portrayed in the movie.

I felt like I was right there in Iowa watching the story unfold. Being from a small, Midwestern town myself, I could totally relate to the small-town charm and support that you see from the whole community banding together to cheer on this volleyball team and the families represented, especially Caroline’s father Ernie.

What was so genuine about this film is that during the credits, there was real footage of the actual people from Iowa- the volleyball team, school, family members. You see how much they were involved in the making of this movie to keep the story in tact. From costumes to the way the volleyball court’s floor was painted, the filmmakers stayed very true to this telling of this beautiful real-life story.

(l to r.) Ernie Found and William Hurt on the set of THE MIRACLE SEASON, an LD Entertainment/Mirror release.

Ernie Found (center) with Nesta Cooper (#18) and other cast on the set of THE MIRACLE SEASON, an LD Entertainment/Mirror release.

 

The writers who wrote the script were very intentional at honoring those involved in this tragic and triumphant story. The director spent some time with Ernie Found to ensure the film would capture the heart at the center of it all. Throughout the film, you discover that it was Ernie’s faith that helped him get through such deep loss.

“You want to honor the people who had passed by talking to their surviving family, asking ‘What was this like, tell me your experience,’ so you can get it right,” says McNamara.

And “get it right,” they surely did!

I think about the struggle we live in today with finding quality entertainment for the whole family to enjoy, and I see how a movie like this that is based on a true story just reveals that our God is such an incredible author. Only the Creator of the Universe could pen something so extraordinary, and LD productions does a fabulous job reflecting it in THE MIRACLE SEASON!

Watch the new trailer BELOW:THE MIRACLE SEASON is available in theaters everywhere today! I highly recommend you go see this amazing film!

Special Delivery Part 2: My Birth Story

Photo credit: Rylie Craft Photography


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!

Trying to get baby James to kick with a chocolate long john!

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.