Don’t Get Emotional| By Makayla Durapau

Did you know that God has emotions?

When He sees us,

or thinks about us,

or hears from us,

or looks at us,

it makes Him feel something.

How cool is it that we can affect the heartstrings of the One that created us and everything around us?!

Spending time with Him and having a relationship with Him makes His heart glad even more so than it does ours.

Honestly, I do not feel like emotions get enough appreciation.

I have learned a lot of times that emotions indicate the state of your heart, your motives/intentions, and even the state of your relationships, both with other people and with God.

Unfortunately, a lot of people do not like to talk about emotions, or even what is causing them in the first place. This is mostly because emotions are messy. They are not always wrapped in neat little boxes that can be neatly unpacked and neatly set down somewhere to look pretty or be practical. They do not wait to make themselves known until it is convenient for you. They do not say their peace, then tidy up and go home. Sometimes, they spill… everywhere.

They act irrational.

They demand to be heard and seen.

Sometimes our emotions get, well, emotional.

That does not mean that we should stuff them down and suppress them. It also does not mean we should let them sit in the driver’s seat of our lives and dictate our response to everything life throws at us. However, it does mean our emotions are indicating a deeper reason than simply “I feel angry” or “I feel hurt” or “I feel sad”.

It is kind of like with babies. When they cry, they do not do it as a hobby. They cry because there is something deeper that is bothering them like hunger or needing sleep. Likewise, our feelings many times will let us know that there is more going on than just feeling like you want to cry or feeling like you want to punch the lights out of someone/something.

As a Christian, one of my greatest passions/desires is to see people set free from the bondage in their lives, specifically when it comes to emotional and spiritual freedom. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Isaiah 61:1, which says,

“The Spirit of the Lord God is on me, because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners;” Isaiah 61:1 (CSB)

I had seen this verse before, but it was not until about a year ago that it really leaped off the pages to me. To me, it speaks of how we are to take up the mantle that Jesus left his followers. God wants to use us to reach the poor, heal the brokenhearted, liberate those in captivity, and free those who are being held prisoner. As believers, we have been enabled to do this with the help of HolySpirit.

One thing that really strikes me about this verse is that to accomplish these things, you have to get your hands a little bit dirty. To free prisoners, you have to go INSIDE the prison. To proclaim liberty, you have to OPEN your mouth. To bring healing, you have to get CLOSE to the one who is hurting. To reach someone, you have to take the risk of CONNECTION. Jesus has not called us to a life of seclusion, reclusiveness, or exclusiveness. He has called us to a life of inclusion, closeness, and connection; both with our creator and with other people.

When we look at the Bible, we start to realize that we are called to love ALL people at ALL times (John 13:34-35; Matthew 22:39). I Peter 4:8 says,

“Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8 (CSB)

When we are looking at others through a lens of love, it is easier for us to give others grace in our interactions with them (Proverbs 10:12; James 1:19). Peter knew that when you let love guide your interactions with people, you are more likely to see them how God wants you to see them, and less likely to see them how the devil would like you to see them. It means that despite what they might have done, we still see them as someone Jesus was willing to give his life for. Someone that God wanted a relationship with.

Remember Your Promise| By Chelsea Verdin

The lyrics to “Your Promises Never Fail” (spontaneous version) by Emmy Rose have been my fighting words for months now. And each time I listen to it, I feel greater revelation happening within me about who my God is and how powerful His promises over me are.



“For I know Your thoughts
Your plans for me are good
I know You hold
My future and my hope
Your promises never fail
Your promises never fail
And Your promises never fail
And Your promises never fail
No, no, no”

My heart has cried many times, “God, when will my prayers meet my promise?”

“When will I see what I’ve poured out my soul for come to pass?”

“When will you do it for me?”

Each time I ask these questions I am reminded of Hannah. Her story in 1 Samuel is one of my most favorites. I can relate to Hannah so strongly that I feel as if I am Hannah. She is a woman desperate for a promise to come to pass. She is taunted relentlessly by an enemy. People who loved her, who were in her corner, supporting her, but couldn’t fully grasp what grieved her. Bystanders judged her because they didn’t know her story or her heart. When I look in the mirror, all I see is a weeping, desperate Hannah.

If you are unfamiliar with the story of Hannah, I will give you a paraphrased version. Hannah shared her husband Elkanah with another woman named Peninnah. Peninnah was able to have children and did, but Hannah could not. Each year, Hannah’s husband would take them to the house of the Lord to sacrifice. He would given Hannah a double portion because he loved her even though she could not give him children. He could not understand her pain. Hannah’s rival however taunted her so relentlessly that Hannah was in great sorrow. Just as Hannah is silently pouring her desperate heart out to God, a judging priest approaches her and accuses her of being drunk. Through tears, Hannah explains her heart, and the priest quickly blesses her and sends her on her way.

My most favorite part about this story is in verses 19-20.  “and the Lord remembered her. And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, ‘I have asked for him from the Lord.’”

For at least nine more months, Hannah had to be taunted by Peninnah. She had to keep praying. For at least nine more months Hannah had to use her promise as a weapon against Peninnah. She had to remind her heart and her mind what was spoken over her. She had to keep fighting and keep praying and keep singing until her cries were from labor instead of grief. She had to use her promise as a weapon until she could see it. She had to keep praying until she could meet it.

I see you woman, on your knees desperately praying for your promise to pass. I see your family and friends misunderstanding you because they do not understand your promise or your heart. I hear your rival taunting you and beckoning you to give up, to forget your promise and forget your God. I hear the bystander’s whispers and accusations as they watch your life from afar but cannot see your heart.

However, I also see our God wrapping His arms around you in compassion and mercy. I see His heartbreaking for yours and holding you still. And mostly woman of God, I hear your victory cry! Your shout of labor as you birth your promise! I rejoice with you as you continue to war for what is yours!

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her.” Luke 1:45

God Keeps His Promises| By Tori Savoy

Promises sometimes can feel like empty words. When you are going through the valley, it can be hard to see the promise of the mountain top. So many times we wait so long we begin to think that the promise just does not exist.

I have been here several times in my life. Have you ever prayed for something for so long that you finally give up praying for it? You begin to accept the situation you are in instead of believing God will turn it around.

God has given me several promises in my life, some of which I am still waiting to see come to pass. However, no matter how many times He has come through, I still doubt those unfulfilled promises.

If you have been following my story, you know the last several years have been a battle with my health. I have gone from doctor to doctor trying to get answers. It has been the hardest road, but God promised He would be glorified through it.

Many have been touched by my health story, but I kept asking God, “When will I be touched? When will my healing come?”.

One thing He has taught me through this process is that He did not bring me this far to leave me here.

“‘Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?’ says the Lord. ‘Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?’ says your God.” Isaiah 66:9

Just because your hard season is lasting a long time, does not mean that God has abandoned you or forgotten His promise.

He recently told me my season of struggles was coming to an end. With the progress I had been making in my health, I truly felt this was going to be the end of my health struggles.

A few days later, I saw my doctor who informed me that my thyroid levels were doing much better, and it was time to lower my medicine dosage. Everything else came back doing much better, and she said I was headed in the right direction to recovery. My healing had finally come after years of prayer.

I know when you are in the middle of waiting for your promise it seems like the sun will never come up. Sometimes it feels like you will be waiting the rest of your life.

Do not give up hope. Sarah waited years for her promise of her child, but it came. The Israelites waited in captivity for the promise of a deliverer.

Your child is coming. Your deliverer is coming. He hears your prayers and knows your heart. He did not bring you through the valley to not take you up the mountain.

“Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭38:15‬

When Following Christ Becomes Hard| By Tori Savoy

Christianity has been a part of my life since I accepted Christ into my heart at the age of five. Yet, sometimes being a Christian is still difficult for me.

From the outside looking in, it may appear I have it all together and that I am happy. Yes, I have unspeakable joy my Savior has given me, but I still have my off days, or sometimes months.  

Sometimes I catch myself going through dry spells where I am not as devout to spending time with God as I would like to. I will begin to compare myself to other Christians around me and feel as if I am not as good at this “Christian thing” as I have led myself to believe. My failure consumes my mind and makes me want to run away and never return. However, my faithful and loving Savior always ushers me back in.

I have found since becoming part of a ministry that the enemy likes to attack me all the more in this area and tell me I am not fit to be sharing my testimonies with the world. His attacks make me feel as if I am not a good model of what Christianity is suppose to be.

However, God tells me differently. Christianity is merely a sinner making the choice every day to lay their sins at the feet of Jesus and share His love and forgiveness with the world.

Jesus’ disciples are a prime example that being a follower of Him is not always easy, but that we do not have to be perfect to be transformed and used by Him.

I have often time caught myself embracing my failures like Judas, who betrayed Jesus for worldly treasure. Judas’ regret following the betrayal drove him to the point of taking his own life.

Sometimes, my guilt for not being a “better” Christian causes me to avoid any contact with God.  This results in severe depression for me when all I need to do is bring my failures before a forgiving Savior to start all over – just as the apostle Peter did.

Peter is one of my biggest reminders of God’s faithfulness to use someone imperfect like me. He was one of God’s most devout followers, and yet, He failed God on numerous occasions.

He walked on water with God in the midst of the storm, but began to sink as soon as His doubt set in. Still, He was the only disciple who even tried to step on the water in the middle of the storm.

Despite being warned of God of his upcoming unfaithfulness, Peter still denied having any association to Christ. Although I have never denied my Christianity, I know many times I may sugar coat it or just not mention my Christianity to those around me.

Luckily, we are never too far gone or have made so many mistakes that God cannot shape and mold us to use you and me for His glory.

After Jesus ascended into Heaven following the crucifixion and resurrection, Peter preached to people from all over and won many souls to Christ. He died a martyr for the name of Jesus.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

Just because you started off making mistakes does not mean that is where it ends for you. We can let our failures define us or give them to God and let Him define us. We can let our failures become a testimony, or allow them consume us to the point of spiritual death.

God never asked for perfection, but that we continue to follow him. Yes, following Him will be hard, and we will have to pick up our cross daily. However, He can turn our mess into a great message.

Today, I challenge you to be open with God about your shortcomings so he can make something beautiful with them. Do not try to outrun a Savior that is standing there for you with arms wide open.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

Being Still in the Midst of Anxiety| By Jasmine Beard

Heart pounding, thoughts going a mile a minute, scared, terrified for no apparent reason.

I was 18 when I had my last major panic attack. I was leaving college and was headed on my way home when I was hit with sheer panic and confusion. It may have been 8 years ago, but I still remember my thoughts directly after the incident. I thought:

“what’s wrong with me?”

“What is this?”

“Will it happen again?”

“What if something really bad happens when/if it happens again?”

If you cannot tell, I was a bit of a worrier at that age, and if I am not careful, I can still go into a cycle of worrying, fear and eventual panic attacks. I like order, plans, and control, but life is simply not predictable.

Honestly, anxiety makes sense in our world because of the sheer pressure we put on ourselves and on other people. My days are filled with ever ending lists, juggling jobs, ministry, bills, starting a non-profit organization, trying to maintain a normal social life for a 20-something  year-old woman, and much much more, but I will spare you.

On top of all of our ever growing to-do lists, throw in unplanned life happenings, and it can turn some of us into the biggest worrywarts and anxiety-ridden folks. I cannot tell you the amount of acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and relatives I know who battle anxiety on a regular if not on a daily basis.

One day recently in the midst of my ever growing lists and unforeseen situations, I heard the Holy Spirit whispering to my heart for a slower pace and for a season of rest.

If you are anything like me, you cringe when you hear that word. I cringe not because I do not want to rest (because trust me, I really do, like really.) But my question was, how?!

How was I supposed to rest when my world was spinning? That’s when Psalms 46:10 began to ring in my ear, it says:

“Be still and know that I am God…” Psalms 46:10 (ESV)

I have always loved this passage of scripture, but up until recently, I have never dug deep into the meaning of this.

Most of us have heard this scripture before. Maybe when you read it you picture yourself waiting quietly and expectantly waiting for a whisper from Heaven. Although that is not a bad thing, when we dig deeper into this scripture we learn that the Hebrew root of be still is not “to be quiet”, but rather “to let go”.

This may sound crazy if you are a planner, a doer, and maybe even a worrier like me. Even with knowing scriptures like “who has ever added a day to their life by worrying? (Matthew 6:27)”, I still find that worry can be my initial reaction instead of faith.

Maybe you feel like that today. You worry about the big stuff and even the little things that maybe do not matter as much. I want to encourage you to let go of your anxieties and worries and place them into the hands of your Heavenly Father.

It is all little stuff to Him and fails in comparison to how BIG our God is.

So let’s position in our hearts to be still and to know…..

To know that God is making a way for that light bill to be payed.

To know God is making a way for your baby to be healed.

To know God is making a way for you to get that raise at work.

To know that God is making a way for YOU.

He is making a way that allows you to let go of every anxiety, worry, and pain, and for you to trust Him at His word that “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Remember that God is walking through every step of life with you holding your hand, longing to carry your burdens and guide your every step. Let go of the pressure you place on yourself. You are not called to carry the weight of your burdens one little bit. Just let go and know that God is trustworthy and faithful to work all of our anxieties out all on His own if we just trust Him.

“Many put their hope in chariots, others in horses, but we place our trust in the name of the Eternal One, our True God.” Psalms 20:7 (Voice)

Label Me Not| By Stephanie Cain

Have you ever lost yourself? You travel through life, days flying past like exits on an interstate, and all of a sudden, you realize you need to Google Map how to find you – the real you.

I think everyone has been there at one point or another. We live in a world where everyone wants to fit into these perfect boxes. The thing is, we are not designed like that. Each person is so multifaceted! We are all complex, beautiful, masterpieces handcrafted in God’s image. (Psalm 139:13-16) So we put on labels to help clarify what is in our box.

Mother. Daughter. Sister. Wife. Caretaker. Housekeeper. Big. Tall. Short. Sassy. Quiet. Bookish. Athletic. Loud. Friendly. Not-so-friendly. Giving. Driven. Selfish. Professional. Hippy. Glamorous. Natural. Happy. Anxious. Funny. Boring. Weird. Popular. Loner.

By the time we put on all these labels that are meant to help “define us”, we cannot even tell what was in the box to begin with.

I struggle with this SO much! I am a relatively newlywed, new part-time working and part-time stay-at-home mom, and the only child to two wonderful parents who have illnesses and need help. I feel the weight of these labels daily. The pressure to be a great mom, and feeling like if I am not, I might ruin this gift God gave me. Wanting so badly to be a loving wife who keeps her house in order for her husband. Knowing that there is work to be done at my house, but also that my parents’ grass needs to be cut soon. Desiring to be fun and outgoing like other young moms even though you are an introvert. Striving to be skinny so the new cute trends will look good on you. Trying to have a meek, quiet spirit with a mouth that runs faster than a cheetah at times.

In the struggle to live up to these labels, I lose sight of me – the me that God made and saw as good. There is no labels, no hoops, no striving. He sees me, knows me deeply, and loves me unconditionally no matter how many dishes are in my sink.


“Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life.
Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!” -Ephesians 3:17-19 (TPT)

My Facebook friend Leslie, who happens to be an amazing writer, recently posted something that stopped me in my tracks. She said this:

“We need grace to sit in a space and just BE…to remove the titles and responsibilities and roles and embrace the one identity that brings rest to the soul, ‘Child of God.’ We don’t have to strive with that name. We can fully and overwhelmingly just BE. He welcomes it.”

When I read those words, I realized how weighed down I was feeling from trying to be everything for everyone. When in reality, the most important thing I am is a Child of God. Walking in that calling will make everything else fall in line. So if you are where I was, one step away from asking Alexa how to find you, please take a moment to just BE, to remember who the Lord says you are, and to rest in Him.

Unveiling Eden Gives Thanks

 

Chelsea
Chelsea Verdin, Contributing Writer

Something I am thankful for this year that is different than last year….

SOLITUDE

Sometimes we can get so focused on the busyness of life that we forget how refreshing it is to just get away – away from the noise, away from the distractions and just sit in our secret quiet place, absorbing and rediscovering who Jesus is.

I spent a fair amount of my life constantly wanting to go, or be, or do. When I received more responsibility or territory, I realized how sacred isolation can be in some atmospheres.

Isolation doesn’t always mean loneliness. It can also mean elevation.

Sometimes, He has to take us away in order to lift us higher. Sometimes, He has to quiet our souls so that we may learn to listen. And sometimes, we have to be alone to understand who He is.

A letter to my daughter……

Heaven
Heaven Harris, Staff Writer

Dear Evelyn,

You are too young at the moment to read this or even understand, but my hope is that this letter finds you years from now and gives you a glimpse of my heart.

This thanksgiving is technically our second one together, but last year you were barely a week old. Therefore, this is our first real thanksgiving with family and friends that you won’t be sleeping or nursing the whole time:).

I want you to know sweet girl, that next to Jesus, YOU are what I am most thankful for this year and for every thanksgiving to come. Nothing and no one has brought more joy and love to my life. This adventure we are on, even with all it’s lows and highs, is worth celebrating and being grateful for.

Getting to be your mother and the bond that I was able to form and steward with you has brought me to life in places I was sure was dead. I am thankful to you, for that, even though it’s beyond your comprehension right now.

And know that it truly takes a village, and we have the best one around. We are so blessed with the most amazing friends and family that love and support us and surround us with laughs, hugs, and deep and strong prayers that usher in God’s presence to daily move mountains in our favor. We are beyond blessed and highly favored.

So this Thanksgiving, I will give honor and glory for us where it is due. My prayer is that I am able to show you even in seasons that don’t include the Thanksgiving holiday, how to be grateful because He works it ALL for our good.

I love you my princess, until kingdom come. 

Jasmine
Jasmine Beard, Editor-in-Chief

Something I am thankful for this year that is different from last year…

RESTORATION

“The act of restoring ; renewal, revival, or reestablishment.”

Restoration has always been something I have believed in. I know that I serve a God that can do all things, including the miraculous.

Although I know this, I did not think a relationship with a family member could ever be good. I settled in the fact that while forgiveness had been given, the state of the relationship could never be repaired.

Through my own healing of hurt this year, I was able to see the person who had repeatedly hurt me through a different lens. I no longer saw them as the person who had hurt me continuously, but as a hurt person themselves.

I had to take that person off of the pedestal of expectations I placed on them. I had to simply see them as a child of God. Once I did this, I no longer thought of all the pain they caused me. I instead saw all of their wounds and knew because of their own pain they hurt me.

” Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”

“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord!

This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again!

I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”’-

Ezekiel -37:3-6

Just like these dry bones, God breathed life into my relationship with my family member. Something that was once dead and barren has began to sprout new life. Thank you Jesus!

Stephanie
Stephanie Cain, Contributing Writer

A letter to my mother……

Dear Mom,

Words cannot express how thankful I am for you.

I have always loved and appreciated you-  I mean,  you are my best friend and my flower girl. But this year, you helped guide me into motherhood. You showed me that perfection is not the goal and that you must allow yourself grace. You loved me through the difficult times. When my world felt crushing, you were there to hold me. You reminded me I can do it and that God gave me this new purpose the He would help me fulfill. All this while still being a shining example of motherhood for me, an amazing wife, and learning how to be a mama to my baby boy.

I will always be grateful to you for everything you have done for me and my family. I love you more than words can convey.

Sincerely, Your Sally

Tori
Tori Savoy, Editor

Something I am thankful for this year that is different from last year…

CONTENTMENT

Contentment – it is described as “a state of happiness”. I believe the world is always searching for contentment in the tangible things of life such as money, success, life milestones and so forth. If only we could reach that certain goal we have in mind, we would find contentment.

However, this is not the same definition God would like us to use.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11, “…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

As a Christian, my contentment is not determined by my state. My contentment, when anchored in who God is, remains when times are good or bad.

Worldly contentment gives us no reason to better ourselves, but Godly contentment pushes us closer to our source of happiness – God Himself.

This Thanksgiving, I thank God for giving me a “state of happiness” despite circumstances that try to steal my joy.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For me brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” 1 Timothy 6:6-7

Gives Thanks UE

All Who are Thirsty| By Jasmine Beard

IMG_6919This is a picture I took a couple months ago of the Great Smoky Mountains. Breathtaking, I know. As I opened the cabin doors and walked onto the balcony, I was awestruck at the majesty of God and His splendor.

As I gazed into the skies and saw the glorious mountains and trees, I envisioned God crouching down from the Heavens whispering into my ear sweet whispers from Heaven.

His words are like honey to my soul. The very sweetness of Him quenches the longings of my soul and every inkling of my Spirit.

How I long to be in awe of Him all the days of my life into eternity forever and ever. I dream that He picks me up in the palm of His hands sweeping me away into the clouds of His majestic being. I am dancing in the glory of His beauty and drinking from the palm of His hands for the rest of my days.

This picture reminds me of the Samaritan woman at the well.

She came to the well for a drink of water for she longed to quench the thirst of her body. Unaware, she met Jesus who did not want to only quench the thirst of her body, but of her soul as well.

“…But if anyone drinks the living water I give them, they will never thirst again and will be forever satisfied! For when you drink the water I give you it becomes a gushing fountain of the Holy Spirit, springing up and flooding you with endless life.” John 4:14 (TPT)

In that same way, Jesus met me, and it is because of this that I am able to see His majesty, to see His glory, and to drink from His cup.

After I dance with Abba in the clouds, He gracefully places me back down to earth. I look around, and I no longer see the beauty and splendor that I saw before. I see brokenness, dirtiness, and darkness all around me. Nothing in me wants to stay and be back on Earth, but God tells me,“go forth and love my people and tell them of this majesty you have found and this water that never runs dry.”

I once saw a picture of myself at a well. The depth of this well was deeper than I could ever hope to see. Then I saw a picture of a wide well, and God instructed me to never be a fat well.

This picture may seem funny to you, and it is a bit funny to me as well. However, that picture is packed with so much meaning..

If we are fat wells, it means that we have no depth to our reach. We just take up excess space. However, if our well has depth, we can bring nourishment to barren land.

Jesus does not show us His splendor or allow us to drink from His cup just for our nourishment. If we just continuously receive from God but never pour out, we become essentially a “fat well.” However, if we instead allow God to fill us deep into our soul and allow others to drink from the well inside of us, we become a deep well.

‘“All at once, the woman dropped her water jar and ran off to her village and told everyone, ‘Come and meet a man at the well who told me everything I’ve ever done! He could be be the Anointed One we’ve been waiting for.’ Hearing this, the people came streaming out of the village to go see Jesus.”’ John 4:28-30 (TPT)

The Samaritan woman dropped the very water that would quench the thirst of her body because she had found drink for her soul. Today, be a deep well bringing the same gushing fountain that has quenched your soul to God’s people.
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Tidal Waves| By Stephanie Cain

image2 (3)

Over the last year, almost every area of my life has been stretched, prodded, or flat out attacked – especially my faith. A few days ago I was watching my son play in his walker corner when I had a flashback. A few years ago my husband’s family decided to go to the beach together. On that day, the water was rough – not enough for red flags but enough that children did not leave the shallows. However, as adults, we ventured out to chest height and jumped into the tidal waves as they rolled in.

One time I did not jump soon enough, and the wave swept over me. Suddenly, I was tumbling under the water with no clue what was up or down. My feet found the ocean bottom, and I pushed up, gasping for air as soon as the next wave rolled in. I was immediately toppling under the water again desperately trying to find the surface for air. This happened two more times until finally my husband caught me and helped me stand. It was such a scary experience that I stayed in the shallows after that.

Where I am now in life feels a lot like that beach. As soon as I find my footing and catch my breath, a new wave is rolling in on top of me sending me spinning again. However, Jesus reminded me of something He did while here on earth.

Mark 4:35-41 chronicles the time when Jesus and His disciples were in rough waters because of a storm. Jesus spoke to the storm and said “Peace! Be still!” The winds and waves obeyed him and stopped. Jesus reminded me that He does not just calm physical storms, but He can calm the waves in our lives. If we listen to Him as He speaks through the Holy Spirit to us, “Peace! Be still!”, we will see the waves that were engulfing are now a soothing ripple. This is not to say that we will not have storms. Of course we will! There may be times in our lives that the winds and waves are so loud and big that you can’t hear the Lord’s still, small whisper of peace.

Another time in Jesus’ ministry (Mark 6:45-52), His disciples were in a boat rowing against the wind. This time, rather than calm the wind with His words, the Lord walked on top of the water. He invited Peter onto the water with Him, and as long as Peter kept His eyes on the Lord, He walked over the waves too. This is HUGE! In those times when we cannot hear Jesus speaking peace in our situation, we look to Him and trust Him for every step onto the waves.

In my life, that looks like this:

A problem arises. I see no possible solution. Anxiety swells. Rather than allowing it to topple over me I say, “I can’t see a way, but I trust you Lord. I know you have a plan, a purpose, and it is for my good.” Take a deep breath. Move forward with my life one step at a time.

My hope is that these words encourage you today. Whether you are in the storm of life or not, I pray that you keep your eyes focused on Him because walking on the water is a much bigger adventure than hiding in the shallows.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17

A Mother’s Redemption| By Amanda Maduell

image2 (2)As I lay and watch my two-year-old sleep, it is hard to believe that not long ago he started out as a tiny “blip” on the monitor. As I laid on the exam table at my OBGYN office, tears of guilt, shame, and fear rolled down my cheeks. This is not the reaction that any woman deserves to have as she experiences the expected arrival of her first child. A woman’s heart should be full of joy, love, and excitement during this time. My story is not the same.

For I know the plans I have for you ,”declares the LORD, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Everyone knows this Bible verse as it has become so incredibly popular, but it is so much more to me. This verse was my bread and butter. I had it saved on my phone screen saver for my entire pregnancy. Every time I was in despair, God reminded me of this message.

When I was encouraged by the father of my child to have an abortion, I turned to God and this verse.

I would think to myself, “God created this life inside of me, and He already knows the plans for it! How could someone want to throw this away?”

“For you formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13-14

I knew from the beginning that abortion was never an option for me, but I could not convince the father of my child to feel the same way. I thank God everyday for giving me His strength to see through and overcome that. I agreed that I would trust God, and I would wear the shame of my sin in front of me, whether the father of my child was willing to stand by me or not.

I have to admit that it was not easy.

At times, the enemy convinced me to believe that it was me. That I was not good enough or worthy enough for this person, and that this is what I deserved for committing these sins. But again that was just the enemy.

I felt lonely from the outright rejection that was displayed toward my unborn child, and I was immersed in pain. I wanted nothing more than to be loved, appreciated, and respected by the person whom I had created life with. I experienced just the opposite.

I remember coming home from working one of my two jobs and crying so hard in my bathroom that I would vomit. I lived alone, and I was too ashamed to reach out to many of my friends, I felt as though I had, “brought this upon myself.” I was scared of the unknown, I was scared of what people would think of me for having a baby without a father, I was scared of being another, “single mom statistic”, and worst of all, I was scared that I would never be able to trust or love again.

I was disappointed in myself for taking a chance on someone who had consecutively lied about his commitment. I had become so consumed in sins of the flesh. Although I considering myself a “Christian”, I still thought it was okay to have sex with my ex-boyfriend. I justified it by telling myself, “we were in love”, and because we, as adults, have “needs.”

However, I was reminded that God has a purpose for us. Although we may not always understand it, the Bible clearly states that His plan is solid. God knows before we sin against Him, and He still sends His love and grace down upon us in ways we don’t even realize in the moment. For some, like myself, it takes “struggles” like this for us to see God’s unfailing love and mercy for us.

“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” Jonah 2:2

Before my son was born, I picked the name Jonah after reading the short book of Jonah in the Bible. In Jonah’s story, he disobeyed God, and he was swallowed by a big fish. He prayed to God and asked for forgiveness from inside the fish. After three days, the Lord had the fish spit Jonah out, and he was forgiven.

Jonah knew that he was disobeying God by not following his instructions to go to the city of Nineveh and speak out against its wickedness. Just as I knew that I was disobeying God by continuing a sinful relationship with my son’s father. I felt as though going through an unplanned pregnancy without the father was my storm.

However, the birth of my son was my forgiveness, my redemption, and my second chance. We are children of a loving and forgiving God. I cried out to him at my lowest point, when I experienced the rejection, fear, and disappointment, He forgave me and restored me by allowing me to be the mother of one of His precious children.

After the birth of Jonah, The Lord continued to be the father that my child and I deserve, time and time again. Just when I reach my breaking point he catches me and says, “Trust me.”

Two years later, my son and I are doing great. I am blessed with phenomenal parents who were there for me during my pregnancy and birth of my son and also now. I am part of a women’s group, and I just signed a mortgage on our first home. All of this is possible because we are the children of a perfect and faithful God who has a perfect way for us, even when we can see no way for ourselves. 

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