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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Come Alive|By Heaven Harris

come alive

I have always considered myself a dreamer – a visionary. Dreaming came easy for me and those very words have often been used to describe me over the years. I had a big imagination, and I was not afraid to use it.  

Over the years though, often without realizing, I found my dreams becoming smaller and smaller, and my heart to dream dying. Sure, there were certain things I would find myself believing for and visions I would catch a glimpse of sometimes in the secret place of prayer, but my BIG dreams…what happened to those? The ones that made my bones rattle and my heart quiver because they required the work of my BIG God.

I think I even created the excuse that it just happens that way sometimes. We grow up; we become adults. The yearning to dream is drowned out by the weight of responsibilities and failures we have experienced. It is subtle, of course. We do not even realize it sometimes. We trudge through life, and many of our dreams deteriorate from life-like and life-size to mere bones laid bare and dry.

Ezekiel 37:3: “He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’”

This scripture was laid on my heart about a month ago. Most of us know this story or have heard a sermon on it in some form or fashion. I would venture to say that most the times we take in this story is in reference to praying for those hearts that we long to see come alive to the love and purpose of God. We pray that He breathes His holy breath on our family, our schools, our church and brings forth the army referred to in the scriptures.

The rest of the story in Ezekiel goes like this…

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!

5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.

6  I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.

8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’”

10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

I was waiting for Him to tell me who I needed to pray for and instead He said, “See those dry bones?  These bones represent those dreams  I have laid on your heart and given you vision for but that lay dead in the valley. Can these bones live? Can these dreams and the words I have spoken over you live again?”

I was honestly at a loss for words. As I sat in the presence of my sweet but direct Savior, I began recalling those dreams and words spoken over me throughout my life, and my reality check was that most of them I had allowed to dry up and become barely a whisper in my heart.

So, let me ask you…

Are your dreams thriving and breathing before a Holy God or are they laid bare in the valley somewhere? If you are looking back and realizing that you have dreams that have no life to them, let me encourage you with this scripture:

“The earth and sky will wear out and fade away before one word I speak loses its power or fails to accomplish its purpose.” Matthew 24:35 (TPT)

When reading this. I hope that you see the pattern. That every word and dream God spoke WILL come to pass without FAIL. Let your heart rest in knowing that those beloved words, passionate dreams and those vivid visions He has whispered to you in the quiet places are alive and well and will find their way to fruition. You need only to speak.

The word prophesy simply means to say that a specified thing will happen in the future; to speak as if divinely inspired. I urge you to prophesy to your soul! Prophesy to those dreams!  Prophesy to your heart!

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

Fast forward to the here and now, as I chose to take God at His word and began speaking those dreams out loud, I have now applied and been accepted into college. I am moving out of state due to an amazing opportunity that opened up for me to stay home with my daughter and go to school. I know this is just the beginning of an amazing new season.  

I urge you to take God at His word and let the presence of God soften your heart and remind you today of the dreams He has given you.  Then speak them aloud and ask God to breathe His Holy breath on them and watch, in His timing, everything He has promised you will come to life!