Choosing God’s Plans| By T’eoria Murray

“Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.” Isaiah 30:21 (NLT)

When we start walking with Jesus, we never know quite where the journey will lead. Missionary Katie Davis discovered this early in life. In 2006, Katie was a high school senior in Nashville, TN. She was class president, homecoming queen and top of her class. Her parents were supportive and loving and had raised her to love Jesus. It was this love for Jesus that radically interfered with the plans she once had for her life and certainly the plans others had for her. 

It began in the winter break of her senior year when she took her first three-week mission trip to Uganda and fell in love with this beautiful country and the amazing people she encountered there. She was so enamored by the experience that she decided to spend a year as a missionary in Uganda after graduation. She assured her parents that she would then proceed with her plans to go to college to become a nurse and return to status quo. As followers of God often find, her plans were not God’s plans. 

In 2008, Katie made the decision to move to Uganda full-time. She gave up a lot of normal things like girls’ nights and her favorite foods and even regular electricity for a whole new normal. That year, she founded Amazima Ministries which began as a non-profit organization to care for the orphaned and most vulnerable in her community. Fast forward 14 years, and that ministry has expanded to include the Amazima School, a vocational program for mothers in the community, farming outreach and medical outreach. 

Today, Katie Davis Majors lives in Uganda with her husband, thirteen adopted daughters and two sons. In her book about this whirlwind experience, Katie wrote, “Jesus wrecked my life, shattered it to pieces, and put it back together more beautifully… I am blown away that my God who could do this all by Himself, would choose to let me be a little part of it.” 

This has been the testimony of Christ’s followers throughout the Bible. Ruth was a young widow who could have chosen to return to her parents’ home and their gods after losing her husband. She could have remarried and had children, finding contentment in the path of least resistance. 

Instead, she refused her mother-in-law’s pleading and said, “Don’t ask me to leave or turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” (Ruth 1:16,17) 

Through her husband’s family, Ruth found the true God, and she clung to Him as the treasure of her life, abandoning all else. 

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:21 (NLT)

This was the choice made by the apostles when they followed Jesus all the way. In Luke 5:1-11, the story is told of the day Jesus called Peter, James and John to follow Him. It had been a long night of fruitless work for the fishermen, and perhaps the burden of failure weighed on them as they washed their nets and listened to Jesus speak to the crowds. When He had finished speaking and told them to once again lower their nets into the sea, it was more out of respect for Him than belief in a catch that they obeyed. Imagine their astonishment when the nets were so full both boats could not support the catch of fish! It was here, on the most lucrative day of their careers, that Jesus called the men to leave everything and follow Him. And that’s exactly what they did.

As cliché as it may sound, I am learning anew that choosing to follow God, wherever He leads, is the most important decision a person can make. It is the overarching choice that directs every choice that follows- our careers, our relationships, where we live, the friends we choose, how we interact with our family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. There are so many competing voices and influences in our lives and varying opinions on what direction our lives should take. Our God specializes in the unusual and extraordinary so what He calls us to do will not always make sense to onlookers. 

The questions to ask daily are “Will this choice help me to build God’s kingdom? How can I glorify God in this?” 

Sometimes, this means my plans must change, or I have to take a backseat. It can be as drastic as changing your major, leaving one job for another one, or moving to another city. Or maybe it is a smaller change- getting involved in a ministry at church that needs support, befriending a neighbor, mentoring a young person in your life. 

What choice is God calling you to make in this season? Only He knows how it will change your life and the lives around you. When we follow, He leads us to beautiful places. When we are faithful to obey His directions, He is faithful to fulfill His purposes. 

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

God Is Who He Says He Is | By Stephanie Cain

Last year was the hardest year of my life. 

First of all, my mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2019.

I left a job for a new job, but I was eventually laid off from that new job. The day after I started my second new job of the year, my husband broke his collarbone in two places requiring surgery.

My son had a minor procedure done, and at the end of the year, my father lost a foot to disease. 

One high point(Praise God!) was when my mom was declared cancer free. 

Clearly, 2019 was a year of battle, but it was the year that I truly learned about trusting in the Lord.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart” is so easy to say and can so easily be an empty, Christian catchphrase.

However, as each of these big changes would happen in my life, I would hear a simple question in my spirit – “Do you trust the Lord?” 

This may have changed a little with each battle. 

When I lost my job it was, “Do you trust the Lord? Is He your Provider?” 

When my mom and dad both had major, life threatening illnesses it was, “Do you trust the Lord? Does He have a plan for their future? Does He have a plan for your future? Is He the Creator and the Healer?”

But what it really boiled down to was this:

  1. Is the Lord who He says He is?
  2. Does He do what He says He will do?
  3. Do you trust Him for it?

Because if God is who He says He is (Provider, Savior, Creator, Father, Healer, Lover of our Souls, Victor) and does what He says He will do (Provide, Heal, Love, Forgive, Never Leave, Work for Good, Has a Future for Us, Redeem), then why would we not trust Him?!

I recently had a management change at my job with a new regional manager. She came in like a wrecking ball and had everyone afraid to lose their job. She even had me going for a minute, but then a moment of clarity hit. Who gave me that job? Who really controls whether I have that job or not? Who really is my provision? It is not the person that I interviewed with. It is not the person that signs my paycheck, and it is not that new management. 

It is the LORD! The Lord holds my present and my future. There is so much freedom and peace that comes with knowing that all you need to do is show up, do your best as unto the Lord, and love people. The rest of it the Lord will take care of faithfully. You CAN trust him for it!

So you may be thinking like I would have been if I was reading this post a few months ago: that’s nice and all, but how?? How do I trust the Lord for such big things? This is my house note we are talking about! Or this is my mom and my son’s grandma we are talking about! 

Here is what I did; I reminded myself of times when God had been faithful to do what He said He would in the past- big or small- and I told myself “If He was faithful then, He will be faithful now.”

And maybe you do not have a time you can think of- that is ok. There are plenty of testimonies in the Bible of healings, provision, guidance, redemption, and restoration. Find one and stand on that! If God could heal the man with a withered hand, He can heal my mom. If the Lord provided food for 5,000+ people out of two fish and some bread, He can provide for my family of three. When the enemy brings anxiety, fear, and doubt because you cannot see the solution yourself, remind yourself that God is who He says He is, that He does what He says He will do, and that you can trust Him for it.

Slow Down| By Zuzana Niedelova

Have you ever thought about the incredible creativity of Jesus? Only very few of His teachings are not accompanied by an illustrative story, analogy or a metaphor each of which is so fitting and relevant. He was able to capture people’s attention, captivate them, interrupt their lives and point to a better alternative they can have in God. He offered tangible and familiar pictures to help people understand the Kingdom. 

In our busy lives, surrounded by technology and unceasingly working on our tasks, there is no time to observe wild flowers and birds so no wonder we cannot use them as an analogy! We do not stop and contemplate on how people work; Jesus did and it enabled him to see the parallel between a sower and God which later helped people understand the Kingdom of God.

Taking time to notice our surroundings and reflect on it is crucial for our personal life and ministry alike. If we want our words to be relatable for people who do nott know Jesus, if we want to be quick to hear God’s voice and notice his work in this world, we must take time to to see these things first. 

It is alright to slow down. Take time to appreciate the little things and bring them to God – ask Him what they speak about Him. Put your phone away for a few minutes and look around; find one thing that catches your attention: a huge tree, a homeless man, an unfamiliar smell, warm wind or the sound of the crowd. Slow down and really see it, feel it, hear it – be really present with all your senses and then think, what is God saying to you through it? You won’t believe what amazing things He will reveal to you! He has so many things to show us and to get excited about with us if we just give him the attention.

Slow down, observe, contemplate and talk to God. It is that simple. Be truly present in everything you do and expect God to speak to you because there is nothing better in this world than seeing the world through our Father’s eyes.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)

Believe and Trust God| By Emily Lawson

Tell me something. Do you believe in God? 

I am sure, if you are here, your answer is surely a resounding, “YES”. 

However, I challenge you. Think about it. Think hard. Think deep. 

How much do you REALLY believe in Him? 

When things start going sour, are you upset? 

When something unexpected comes up, are you praying for it to be moved quickly?

When your plans fall through, are you asking why? 

I do. I’m the WORST. I am constantly having my “human moment” of tears and anger, before I calm myself down, and have a conversation with God. (Note: calm MYSELF down)

The last couple weeks have been convicting. I have found that I have placed God in this tiny box of my expectations. And that is where I expected Him to stay. 

Read that again, you read it right. Where I expected HIM to stay. If things went the way I wanted them too, God was good. If things did not go the way I wanted, then something was wrong, and I must be being punished for something. 

Though I talked about God’s plan being good, and is timing being right, I did not really TRUST His plan or His timing. 

And that’s the difference. 

Belief vs. Trust. 

Believe (per dictionary.com): to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something.

Trust (per dictionary.com): confident expectation of something.

Believing in God as a being is only half the question. Do you believe in the parts of the Bible where it says He is all knowing? Always present? All powerful? Do we, in other words, TRUST His words? 

In the third chapter of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace, bound and fully clothed, that was heated to seven times its normal temperature, all because they refused to worship the gods of the King. The men that threw them in actually died as a result of the heat that was being omitted from the opening. However, when the king looked in, he saw that there were FOUR men, which were unbound and walking around. He called them forth from the fire. 

And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw that these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, not was the hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered His servants that trusted in Him. Daniel 3:27-28

Had they only believed that He existed, but not trusted in the power He held, the results would have been very different. 

And because of their trust, the fire had no power! They did not even SMELL of smoke! 

It is the same for us today. We’re going to face fires in this world, whether it be unmet personal expectations or burdens that feel like they weigh a ton. They have no power over us when we trust in His power. We’re under the same protection that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were under. 

God does not change. This world is not so different either. The King has his gods that he expected the people of his kingdom to worship. Today’s world had their gods too. Social media, beauty regimes, celebrities, crystals, loose morals, and more. And they expect all of these things to be put before the one true God. They expect God to fit in around everything else. 

We need to stand firm like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, no matter the consequences, because we have the belief and the trust in our Lord that He will not forsake us. 

And through that, we can show others the amazing power they’re missing out on! 

So, reevaluate where you stand. Where does your belief stand? I’ve got some moving up to do!

Unfulfilled Longings| By Jasmine Beard

Lord, I will exalt you and lift you high,

for you have lifted me up on high!

Over all my boasting, gloating enemies,

you made me to triumph.

 O Lord, my healing God,

I cried out for a miracle and you healed me!

You brought me back from the brink of death,

from the depths below.

Now here I am, alive and well, fully restored!

O sing and make melody, you steadfast lovers of God.

Give thanks to him every time you reflect on his holiness!

I’ve learned that his anger lasts for a moment,

but his loving favor lasts a lifetime!

We may weep through the night,

but at daybreak it will turn into shouts of ecstatic joy.

I remember boasting, “I’ve got it made!

Nothing can stop me now!

I’m God’s favored one; he’s made me steady as a mountain!”

But then suddenly, you hid your face from me.

I was panic-stricken and became depressed.

Still I cried out to you, Lord God. I shouted out for mercy, saying,

“What would you gain in my death,

if I were to go down to the depths of darkness?

Will a grave sing your song?

How could death’s dust declare your faithfulness?”

So hear me now, Lord; show me your famous mercy.

O God, be my Savior and rescue me!

Then he broke through and transformed all my wailing

into a whirling dance of ecstatic praise!

He has torn the veil and lifted from me

the sad heaviness of mourning.

He wrapped me in the glory garments of gladness.

How could I be silent when it’s time to praise you?

Now my heart sings out loud, bursting with joy—

a bliss inside that keeps me singing,

“I can never thank you enough!” -Psalm 30

Recently, I layed in my bed and had a desire to cry. All day long I had suppressed the pain that was inside of me. I wanted to cry my eyes out into my pillow because of the absence of the very thing I longed for. 

But then I felt stupid, ungrateful, and more mixed emotions, “What will crying solve?” I thought to myself.

“There are people dying of cancer, people who are going hungry tonight, yet I want to cry about this? Jasmine, snap out of it, pull yourself together!”

So, in that moment I made a decision to suck all the tears that were surfacing back,suppressed my emotions, and tried to fall asleep. As I pouted, tossed and turned, and tried to fix my eyes on Jesus and more important things I felt the spirit say, “read Psalm 30”. I was not sure if I heard Him correctly but, then I heard Him again. I put off reading the chapter until the next morning. 

The next day, as I sat in the corner of a coffee shop and read Psalm 30 verses 11-12 stuck out to me. They read:

“You have turned my mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!”

In that moment I realized that God acknowledged my pain. Although, my pain was small in comparison to so many others, God acknowledged how hard my circumstance was for me.

Ever since childhood I have had a burning desire to be a wife and a mom. But year after year, nothing. At times I wondered does God even care about this kind of pain?

I tried to believe the lie that the longing inside of me was because I was not focused on Jesus enough or because I was not grateful enough.

“Maybe if I was more grateful”, “Maybe if I served more”, “Maybe if I prayed away this longing” I would not have bouts of crying about a longing that is at the very core of who I am.”

But that is not true.

Being more grateful and serving more are great things and should be encompassed into all that we do as Christians, but they do not change a longing or desire inside of us.

The truth is when we have deep longings and desires that beautifully align with God’s word and are living with our eyes fixated on God we can trust that He cares. He cares about the longings, the pain, and the heartache that the waiting season can sometimes bring.

“Make God the utmost delight and pleasure of your life, and he will provide for you what you desire the most.” Psalms 37:4

We can trust that if God has placed a godly desire in us such as marriage and parenthood that He will be faithful to bring that desire into fruition.

Today, I want to encourage you to not hide the longings or desires that are deep in your heart. Bring those things straight to God so that He can comfort you and in due time give you the desires of your heart <3.

Play for Fun| By Ellie Saul

Have you ever met someone gifted, successful, sharp, smiling, convincingly charming and delightful even, on the outside… and then in one question realize she is barely hanging on to a glimpse of a thread for dear life in so much pain?

What you say flows from what is in your heart. Luke 6:45

Within minutes of meeting Mrs. P, I knew a few things about her. She is poised, manicured, dressed to impress and ready to tell me all about herself. Mrs. P has a very successful husband who is older than her, a grandson she teaches all about the Bible when she keeps him once a month, and her favorite thing about herself to mention is that she is the piano player at a large, prominent  church. She plays for multiple services and in impressive choral groups and even travels with her talent. She actually works hand in hand with “the” pastor.

“Oh wow! You’re amazing!” I said, “What’s your favorite song to play?”

She looked at me matter-of-factly and said, “I can play anything they tell me to.” 

“That’s so awesome! When no one is asking you to play… what do you like to play for fun?” I asked innocently.

She looked at me like there was an unfamiliar foul smell she couldn’t describe… puzzled… and quickly replied, “Oh no, I don’t play for fun.”

My heart broke. She doesn’t play for fun.

 Her elevator speech self description of prestige and success would make anyone feel like she has it all together… I couldn’t even respond, but she sure did… I think my question opened the flood that is really in her heart because she started talking about losing a child, losing her parents, and losing her job in one year with a stoic, emotionless face. Quickly she described again all of the work she is doing with music now that she is retired against her will. She listed countless tasks, travels, and ministries concluding that her faith is what keeps her. 

My heart broke again. That doesn’t sound like faith at all…it sounds like work

She is grieving and hurting and only has the words to describe to me that being very busy every day with important tasks with important people at important places and playing the piano **not for fun** is the “faith” that helps her cope. 

When we are grieving we can easily come to a place where we “survive” by working and filling our day with importing tasks. I’ve done it.  When I was grieving I needed to hear that I had permission to fall apart, permission to drop every single plate I was spinning, permission to seek counsel, permission to rest, permission to mourn… and most importantly for me... I needed permission to play for fun, to experience guiltless joy again. 

Sometimes grief makes us so sad and so lonely and we don’t even know how it happens… but somewhere we start feeling guilty for joy because it feels somehow disrespectful to the loss or grief we are experiencing.

If you are hurting today… If you have an amazing elevator self-accolade speech that holds the rivers of pain in your heart back only long enough for a stranger to ask one innocent question that opens the flood of grief you have… let me give you permission today to do 5 things from the Bible. 

  1. You have permission to fall apart. Mourning is not weakness, it is a vehicle God can use for us to be comforted and heal. (Matthew 5:4)
  2. You have permission to drop every spinning plate (you can pick them up later if you even want to pick them up again. Even if they break, someone can sweep them up for you for now) (Proverbs16:9,Exodus 14:14)
  3. You have permission to seek counsel. Experts can help you talk through things and look at things in ways you never imagined. (Proverbs 12:15)
  4. You have permission to rest.  Sometimes resting is discipline and learned and can feel like a punishment if you are a go-getter… it’s for your good. Our bodies literally heal when we rest (Matthew 11:28)
  5. You have permission to PLAY FOR FUN! You have permission to laugh, sing, jump, clap, and have guiltless joy even if you are suffering loss. Joy does not diminish your grief or make your hurt any less significant. It just releases strength that you very well may need to get through this pain. Jesus Himself considered JOY on the cross experiencing the deepest pain of His life on earth. (Hebrews 12:2, Philippians 4:4, Nehemiah 8:10)

There is Room at the Table| By Brooke Juneau

As I walked into the house for life group, my favorite person ever came to greet me. His name is Ford (or I call him Fordie). He’s 4-years-old and has the cutest smile and the biggest imagination. He knew we were making waffles for everyone, which are his favorite, so he wanted to be a part of the whole process!

He stuck beside me the whole time to make sure it got done- grabbing eggs, pouring oil, and even checking the temperature of the waffles to ensure they were cool enough. At one point he even tried to refrain from using the bathroom for fear that I would make the waffles without him.

He thought that he was going to miss out- that there would be none leftover for him. What he did not know is that I had already come prepared with enough to make him as many waffles as he wanted, but it was hard for him to trust that was true if he could not see it in front of him.

In the end, as I watched him stuffing the waffles in his mouth, all I could see was myself.

All of my life I have felt like I was going to miss out on my calling. That I was going to wake up one day and God would throw his hands in the air like, “Sorry, you didn’t get here fast enough. All of the spots are filled.”

If you have ever felt this way before, I don’t blame you. We live in a world that has always said that there’s not enough. If you want it, you better start pushing your way to the top and speeding up the process because the spots at the table of dreams are filling up and they’re filling up fast. I’ve even heard the saying “If you don’t do it, then God will find someone who will.”

This created a fear in me that my calling is first come first serve, and if I don’t get to movin’ then someone will replace me. That God won’t want me anymore. That my calling will go stale, I’ll miss out on purpose, and I’ll have to watch someone else take that place.

Having this mindset made me skeptical about God, so I began to assist God in the process. I would step ahead of him- trying to pour oil in areas that didn’t need any, stir up things that weren’t ready yet, and try to cook things that were still missing ingredients.

I have read in his word a million and one times that he has a plan and a purpose for me. I have read that he calls, and he equips. That he works everything out for the good of those who love him. But I was still unwilling to leave for a bathroom break for fear that while I was gone someone would steal my waffle, or I was unwilling to step back and let God work his magic for fear that if I didn’t step in it would never get done.

This kind of fear makes you paranoid. Every time someone around you has a success, it makes you feel like a failure. Every time someone takes on the same passion as you of writing, photography, painting, speaking, leading, etc. It makes you feel as if you’re playing musical chairs with the seat at the table God has set and they are your competition for the last one.

There’s a passage in Luke 9 all about Jesus feeding the 5 thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Somehow these loaves and fish keep getting multiplied and distributed to ALL 5 thousand people and when all have eaten and were SATISFIED, there were leftovers.

I am a God of leftovers”.

God does not just give what we need, he gives even more. There is always room, there is always enough. His table is never filled and the chair he has for you has your name written on it. He won’t ALLOW anyone else to take it. You do not have to fight for it, you don’t have to compete for it. It is yours. It’s been yours since you were created in the womb.

Now, if you never step up to the plate of your calling, it doesn’t mean that someone else is going to replace you. It just means that the world misses out. They miss out on the piece of Jesus that God has called YOU to give. God may use someone else to reach the same people, but it won’t be with the same effectiveness. Only YOU can unlock the calling God has for you. 

There is no plan B. There is you. So, find freedom in celebrating others and celebrating yourself. 

Made in His Image| By Gabby Jones

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7 NIV

When God speaks, stars burn bright, trees grow up, and animals begin to form; but when God uses His hands, something special is about to happen.

With all the wonder we have in our minds about this world and how someone so small could move just a spec of what God created, we have to remember that He created us too. 

He did not just speak about your existence, He formed you in His own hands and breathed His breath into you. 

We have all studied science and know many facts about the world, universe, and the body, and a majority of the time, we feel small compared to what is out there. We start questioning who we are and the impact we could have in this world, and it can be a bit overwhelming. Even as young women, some of us still don’t know who we are and what we could possibly do in this world. 

Why were we made and how could we possibly have any effect on anyone or anything in this vast space?

When following the beginning of Genesis, you start to notice that God spoke when creating the skies, animals, and seas. He spoke everything into existence with each little detail we see today, but when we get to how God formed man, He decided to get down and dirty. You see, when God created you and me, He didn’t just say a name and move on, He rolled up His sleeves and decided to use His hands to form His greatest creation. He does not just know your name, He knows your heart because it first beat in His hands. 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalms 139:13 NIV

For a long time, I didn’t feel worthy enough to be compared to the beauties of this world. It was hard enough to compete with people, how could I stand to be this small person within something so big. But God. He reminded me that out of the things he created, I was His favorite. He carved out my left dimple, twirled my curly hair, and perfected my wheezy laugh. He smiles when I find the beauty in myself because he personally made me. He smiles when you see the beauty in yourself because He personally made you and you are His favorite. 

You were not just created to be a void in this world, you were created to show the world who God made you to be.

You may not know that right now, but as you continue to press into God, He will show you why He took the time to carve you into who you are. You have so many qualities that overwhelm and impact THIS WORLD. You aren’t just another name or word, you are His CREATION. 

To be more encouraged about who you are, read Psalm 139. You are His.

You Are Not Your Circumstances| By Zuzana Niedelova

A few months ago I met a boy. He was a 9-year-old as any other – going to school, playing with his friends, telling silly jokes and all the other things boys his age do. I met him in his school; I was asked to come to help him during his classes as he needed the extra support. At first, I did not think much of it; it was my job to go to various schools to support kids with special educational needs or to help with problematic behavior.

But this day was very different from all the others, mainly because this boy was blind, in a public school and I was not expecting nor was I trained for working with physically disabled children. It was just natural for me to start analyzing his possible thought processes and insecurities before I even met him.

I thought, surely he would be shy and quiet because he is different from all his classmates. Or that he would not want to join in with learning because it was more difficult for him. I even thought of a possibility that he would be rude and self-consumed because power so often serves as an easy coping mechanism.

I had all these thoughts in my head, trying to pick a strategy for working with this problematic boy who was about to walk through the door any minute.

Since the moment he came in to the end of the day he kept surprising me and wrecking my presumptions about him. He was not shy or quiet, but rather one of the loudest in the room.  He was not scared of any challenge and was so eager to learn I could not keep up with all of his questions. On top of it all, he was by far one of the kindest, sweetest kids I have ever worked with. He was full of joy, energy, and yearning for all the good life has to offer.

His favorite activity was to read, the most exciting part of it being long new words, learning how to spell them, count their letters and find the middle one – all using a Brillo machine and his fingers. At the end of this sequence there would be a happy exclamation: “this word is so big! It has 11 letters with a ‘t’ in the middle!” his excitement was contagious. He had his special book that must have been hilarious because he could not stop laughing and his kind heart could not keep the jokes to himself so he always translated it for me so we could laugh together. 

What I saw in this boy at first was everything that was destroyed and stolen from him. But he knew that was not what defined him. We all have our ‘blindness’, that thing or situation which has a potential to drain our energy, to be too hard, to leave us wondering that maybe that is all there is to life. But it is only a potential and if we grant it the power to take over, it will take it.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV)

Jesus came that we may have life in all its fullness. We are not bound to what happened to us, we are not slaves to whatever the enemy tries to kill, steal and destroy in our lives. We are freed, given new life, forgiven, and loved.

Every day is a new beginning with Jesus – every minute if you need it, Jesus does not count it; with Him it is always as if it was the first time. We don’t have to just know He is giving the new life to us; we can accept it and own it.

This boy is 9-years-old and after only one day he managed to inspire me for months. He might not know Jesus but he certainly knows that there is more to life than bullies, constantly bumping into things, being different in such a hard way, not ever seeing his parents, or even having to get through his whole life with by far not as much support and resources as people with sight.

There is always more to life than what you have to face today, tomorrow or even in a year. No matter how difficult your situation is, Jesus is offering comfort, joy, love, unity, peace, purpose, forgiveness, new life and so much more. He is offering you a life in all its fullness so take it and own it. 

Do not let the enemy kill, steal and destroy what you have; rather see yourself as a child of God, fearfully and wonderfully made, blessed with all the heavenly blessings and with the Holy Spirit as your helper. 

Rejoice for he has given you a new life – life in all its fullness.

Jesus and My Mental Health| By Emily Lawson

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139: 14-16 (KJV)

I am finally to the point of pregnancy where I feel like a normal person. I am also to the point where I can begin to feel the kicks of the tiny human growing inside me. 

Yet, with the excitement and thankfulness I have, worry at times still consumes me. 

“I haven’t felt him today. Is that normal?”

“That was a really quick movement, not his normal stretches. Is that normal?” 

“My oldest just kicked me so hard in the stomach. Is that going to cause an issue later?”

“Ugh, healthy food is so blah, I just want some salty chips. Am I ruining my baby?”

When I was pregnant with my first, I had such high anxiety levels, that I had to go to a counselor for five weeks. I was too anxious to take medicine. I was too anxious to call the doctor. I could not function at work, literally having to walk away from my desk several times to hide away and cry. I would cry over everything. I spent forty dollars on three pairs of pajamas and a robe for the hospital (really, a decent deal!). The next day I had a panic attack at work thinking I had spent too much and wouldn’t be able to afford diapers for my new baby. 

The counselor helped how she could, releasing me with some breathing exercises and telling me to use my husband when I felt overwhelmed. 

And though those breathing exercises helped me through a few moments, God saw me through that entire time period. Though I felt like I was drowning at times, and I felt that there was no way I could make it through, He was able to guide me through those last (very long) seven weeks of pregnancy, and hold my head above water. I knew during that time, that although these feelings would consume me for periods of time, that’s all they were. Feelings. They weren’t the truth. They weren’t real. They were the conclusion of my brain believing the lies that the enemy laid before me.

God’s eye knew the outcome of those feelings. He knows the outcome of my current pregnancy. He knows what I’ll be going through each and every second of the rest of this pregnancy. He knows the outcome of my children’s lives. 

He knew when my son would take his first steps, as I fretted and compared to other children His age.  

He knows when my son will finally get over this picky stage and will eat normal food, all the while I fret if he is getting enough nutrients to make it through the day. He knows the exact moment that my second will be born. 

In His book, each and every one of our thoughts and actions are written. He knows what we cannot see and He knows what is to come. 

It is all in His plan and no matter the degree to which I worry and panic over it, He knows the outcome. 

And here is the exciting part. 

As scary as my mental health was to me, it was not enough to scare Him away. The scariest thing that my brain could think up, was put in its place when God stepped in. When I thought that I had gone too far, He never let go of my hand.

I am not saying that it went away. My brain still got overworked. I still had moments where I sat in the fetal position on the floor of a room with no windows and cried. I still had bad moments. 

However, when I allowed God into those moments. When I reached out and just let Him take over, I had peace in the midst of the storm. My heart was still racing. The tears were still flowing. But I had the knowledge that this was temporary. That though I felt detached from everything, I could still take small steps to ensure that I was moving in the right direction. 

Life is hard. The enemy will do everything in his power to throw loops and hills and potholes in your path. But clinging to the one who holds tomorrow in the palm of His hand is the one thing that can keep us grounded. 

God knew those seven weeks would be grueling. He also knew that I would make it through those seven weeks from the moment I was formed in my own mother’s womb. 

He wrote my story, just as He has written yours.

Life is hard. But nothing is too hard for God. 

Ah Lord God! Behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee. Jeremiah 32:17 (KJV)

If you are struggling with your mental health, I encourage you to reach out. Don’t let the enemy keep you in a pocket of fear and wondering. Talk to the doctor. Take the medicine. Try the exercises. Write out those feelings. Don’t lay down in the darkness. Cling to the Lord as He guides you where you need to go. My experience is not unique. I didn’t take the medicine then, but coming out the other side, I know that it would have saved me so much anxiety. Pregnancy Anxiety and Post-Partum Anxiety and Depression are real things. Don’t let anyone tell you that “It’s just hormones, it’ll pass.” Address the issues and remember that you need to take care of yourself so you can enjoy every little thing this new adventure has to offer. Pregnant or not. Feelings are real. They exist in you, and dealing with them is the best way to get past them. Don’t settle for mediocre. You were worth sending an only son to die on the cross for you. You are worth the effort to feel better! Feel free to reach out to me directly also at @the_modest_wife on Instagram if you ever need to talk. You’re worth it. Never forget that!