Just Faith

This time 5 years ago I was meeting a pastors wife who knew little about me, once a week, for 5 months. She wasn’t sure why, she just knew I was hurting deeply. Her husband did our pre-marriage counseling the year prior, so maybe she felt obligation. But I’m so thankful for her faith and persistence. She was so gentle but she championed for my breakthrough. I knew the enemy was terrified of my meeting with her. I knew he was afraid of her. I’m so thankful for the way she sat with me in silence. It felt like even in those moments, she had enough faith for the both of us to fight the spiritual battle happening within me. She gave me a verse (2Tim1:12) and told me to write a letter to the Lord and to seal it. She promised that He would do what I asked, because she heard my small broken voice but she recognized the warrior heart in me banging on the Father’s door, and she knew He was in the midst of my rescue. And He did it. I never thought I’d say it, but I treasure that year. It was the year I really saw Him for who He was. It was the year that could have made or broke my faith, and why I stand confident on His rock today. I wholeheartedly know and believe the enemy is terrified of a woman who know’s her place in the Kingdom. Of women who know who her Father is. The enemy is already under our feet. He just likes to fog things up and stir up a storm when we finally realize it.

I couldn’t be more sure of my ground—the One I’ve trusted in can take care of what he’s trusted me to do right to the end.

2 Timothy 1:12

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I notice you

It’s Sunday and I volunteer in the nursery, so we got our kids up and fed, dressed and out the door. I thankfully noticed the dirty diaper attached to my jacket before I closed the door behind me. I felt anxious from the rush and the time so I ask my husband to turn it from the Moana soundtrack to worship music.

I raise a hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies
I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief
I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody
I raise a hallelujah, heaven comes to fight for me”

The worship calmed my heart. And I look to my oldest son who is pointing out the window to everything under the sun. My baby reaches for his brothers hand and they laugh at each other. I realize we are raising great men who will love deeply and do greater things than we will ever do. Our greatest ministry will always be in our home, raising our boys together.

and I’m thankful to be their mama.

It’s been an on-the-go week (and weeks) and chores at home often pile up. It’s a season of motherhood that often feels unseen. And I’ve often felt unseen.

But this morning our pastor was praying at the end of worship and my mind started drifting when I heard the Lord say to me clear as day,

“I notice you.”

He notices every kiss we give on our babies boo-boo’s. He notices every prayer we say with them before they close their eyes at night. He notices the laundry we try to keep up on. The diapers we change. He notices our worry when our children come down sick and the temperatures we take when a fever runs high. He notices our tired eyes on an early Sunday morning but we go to church despite it all, because we want to know Him even more. He notices when we look in the mirror and find those grey hairs. Feeling older than the day before. He notices the sacrifice a woman makes when she because a mama. And He notices the way she doesn’t count any of it at all a loss.

And when you feel unseen. When you feel anxiousness in the depths of motherhood, He’s in awe of you. Your tender heart as you mother your babies. He notices every moment. Every kiss you give. Every prayer you speak. And He’s reminding you this is your greatest ministry yet.

Guest Post: Lori’s Story, 1977

I met Lori when my family and I lived downriver. She shared her story with me and I am so thankful she said yes when I asked if I could share it here. Thank you Lori, for being brave in sharing your story.

Steve and I met each other in our Junior year of high school. I had just moved to Taylor. My mom had filed for bankruptcy and she and I moved in with my grandmother. I had lived in Ferndale all of my life and all of the sudden I wasn’t going to graduate with all of my childhood friends. I was moving to a city where I knew no one. I can’t find words to explain how hard all of the change was for me. I felt so alone and depressed. As time went on, I felt like I couldn’t pull myself out of this hole I was in. Eventually, my mom agreed to let me move back home and live with my friend.

That is when it happened. I met my knight in shining armor. Steve and I starting dating February 12, 1977. He seemed to be the answer to all of my problems. All of the sudden I was hanging around with him and all of his friends. He said he loved me and I loved him. We spent every spare moment together. We talked about getting married when we graduated.

In the fall of our senior year I was pregnant. It was not intentional because of course, it would never happen to me. I’ll never forget when we went to the “free health clinic” to get a pregnancy test. Steve took me and held my hand every step of the way. When the doctor came in and told us I was pregnant, we were excited! Never did we consider not having the baby. All of that changed when we told our parents. Their influence was very heavy not to have the baby. They mentioned how I wouldn’t be able to graduate. How could we pay for a baby? Steve would have to drop out of school and get a job. Well they succeeded in changing our minds about having the baby. But they could never change my heart! I always wanted that baby. I was young and impressionable. I had respect for our parents and felt they knew best. Steve’s parents paid for the abortion and my mom and Steve took me to get it.

That will always be the worst day of my life. I will never forget it although there are some details I am blessed not to remember. Like the date I had the abortion. Thank you Lord for not letting me remember that date because that would be an anniversary every year that would break my heart all over again.

Roe V. Wade was passed January 22,1973. This was only 4 and a half years later. It is astounding to think of how the abortion process even then was already an institutionalized production. I remember being in a group of 10 girls who would go from step to step and room to room so similar to a production line. Then getting to the end of the line and hearing the vacuums and those ahead of me crying out. That is what stays with me all of these years later.

I can not count how many times I was haunted by that day until Jesus healed me later in my life. It has been a process that took another 25 years for me to get past the shame to be able to share my story in hopes that someone who may be considering an abortion will read this and maybe consider another option. When you go to get an abortion, they don’t tell you how it will affect the rest of your life. As if there aren’t lasting emotional consequences. How every year you think of how old your baby would have been. I could go on and on about the numerous questions that fill your mind. It is only by the grace of God that I can live with that decision and not in regret every single day.

Fast forward 42 years, Steve and I will be celebrating 40 years of marriage. Our assurance is that we will one day be reunited with our baby in the Kingdom of God.

more than broken

I remember 3.5 years ago when the pond was frozen and the sunset was beautifully beaming over it. I ran out on it to catch a better glimpse while my husband stood waiting on the trail. I was so broken, as I had been for years, it was just part of who I was. I had an abortion. I went through a horrible break up. I got married before I ever told my husband about my past. I wanted a baby but my womb remained empty. All of these things added onto my brokenness and I clung to it. But that year I wanted to do things differently. I wanted to do what He was asking me to do, and I wanted to let go of things I was wearing like a life jacket. And I felt His peace for a few minutes while I just stood there. I said a prayer, and I knew in my heart He heard it and it would come to be. 9 months later I found out I was pregnant with our first son, Gideon. I will always remember that moment on the pond, when I told God I trusted Him with my hearts desires and He told me He would come through. He did, and he still does, even now.

Fast forward 3.5 years later, and I had been holding onto the brokenness. Even in healing, it’s like I got dressed and the enemy is like, but don’t forget to put this on. And this. And this. All of the broken pieces. Like it’s my identity. When we lived in Detroit my husband and I were walking with our boys, I looked to him and told him I’m consumed with fear. I poured out all of my fears, while he smiled at the untruth of it all. He held my hand and declared all of the truths that he knew about me. And I believed him.

Later on I was washing the dishes when the Father gently let me know, it’s okay to be more than your broken. It’s okay to let those things go, like really let them go. It’s okay to see yourself the way I see you. Even when the enemy says something else, it’s okay to declare and remember and believe what is true.

And I sat on that for a few months, not sure where to begin. So I started in my worship. I stopped focusing on me, and literally lifted it up to Him. All of it. And the more I did it, the more things I left right at the altar. And I didn’t pick it up again. And I was unafraid to worship Him with all of my heart because I really had nothing to lose. And He began to do miracles that we were praying for. Big miracles that I’m still in awe of. So like a cycle, I worship Him deeper each time.

I looked in the mirror the other morning and I saw someone new. I told my heart, I like you. And it all just felt a lot less heavy. Because when He invites us into relationship, when He asks to take our brokenness, He is patient with it all. He is so kind and so gentle. And it’s taken me 7.5 years for it to finally click. That where He wants us to be in the end is just with Him. Not focused on a broken plan or a broken identity or a broken dream, just focused on the wholeness that is He. He makes us whole again but He won’t rush us in the process. And that just overwhelms me with His sweetness. How many times do I lose my patience waiting on someone, but He’s just been patiently waiting on me to see what He see’s.

tonight my husband and I went on a date, and we talked about all of the things we are learning from the Lord. I told him for the first time in what feels like my entire life, I’m shedding out of my broken skin. I’m seeing beyond myself and I’m focusing on His glory. The beautiful thing about living out a healed life, is that it doesn’t mean pieces won’t be broken again, but it does mean you can see beyond the pain. You don’t have to drowned in the sorrow. You can lift your hands in worship and focus on His glory. You see Jesus in it all and that is enough.

Oh, Abba, you are more than enough, more than the broken, you are more and always better. So much better than anything we leave at the altar.

Best Yes

Thinking about today’s message on Mary. Her best yes gave us Jesus. I watch my two sons sleep and I imagine the way her heart must’ve swelled for her baby boy the night he was born. And each moment after that. She probably had tired eyes in the morning after sleepless newborn nights. She probably had frustrating moments in the pits of motherhood. She probably watched Him sleep, memorizing his chubby toddler cheeks, soaking it all in. All of these moments she held in her heart must have all came crashing in when He was hung on the cross. And I’m so thankful she said yes, because when I worship Him today, hands reaching to Heaven, I think of all His goodness, His gentleness, His sweetness. I think of how He turns everything around for good, I think of these two boys, such a gift, and I cherish all of these things so deep in my heart.

ends of the earth

Sometimes we drive at night. Ever since we started dating we would go for a night drive. To anywhere. We dream together. We look at Christmas lights like my mom did with us when I was a kid. Tonight, we put the dogs in the back and strapped our babies in, and we went for a drive.

Sometimes things we live through feel all for not, but not this. I’m always searching for Him in everything. What are You saying? Where are You in this? What are You going to do next? But for almost a year He felt a little silent. Truthfully, what feels like silence can be frustrating for a while, until I started listening deeper. Realizing He’s trusting me to live this out, to seek Him harder, and to see what I will choose. We drove in the dark, and I told my husband I love Father more for this. For this season. And I feel His love for me more. I’ve realized He loves us so much, that He gives us our desires though He see’s the journey it will take us on. But because we desire it so deep, sometimes He gives it to us because He’s our Father and He can. He loves us so much. I can’t fully fathom that love. And I’ve never felt so consumed with love for Him in return. And that’s all He’s ever really wanted from us. For us to want Him back.

I remember a conference we attended in Grand Rapids where a man named Dan spoke at, it changed my life. He told a story about a time he was just driving, and He heard Father tell him to pull over and meet Him out in this field. He did, and Father told him just how much He loved him. Dan stood there in Father’s love for a while, consumed. He got back in his car eventually and drove off, and asked why He couldn’t just tell him this on the path he was driving. He told him that He wouldn’t have listened as intently if He hadn’t taken him off course.

Tonight I told my husband I know that He brought us to where we are to change my heart for Him. To be consumed by Him. To give desires just so I can realize that they are not what fulfill me. To be fulfilled by Him. I see even now what He was hoping I would. And I know through the years there will be moments that stop us in our track, where we will see even deeper still.

at the end of the day, we worship Him. We answer to Him. We trust in Him. We do our best to listen to His leading and follow. We aren’t perfect but He’s not asking us to have it all together before we can encounter Him. Just asking us to bring it all to Him and fall at His feet, stay there a little while longer, until all we see is Him. And He will go to the ends of the earth to tell us He is so in love with us, and for us to actually, really believe it.

You don’t give your heart in pieces, you don’t hide yourself to tease us 

Wild Fire

We woke up early this morning, I prayed over our family aloud before your daddy left for the church. Your brother napped for two hours and you and I did the dishes together. We cleaned your room together. I put things away and you played make-believe. It all felt so much like home to me. Something about your small hands and your little voice that calls me mommy, it takes me back to our old yellow house on Willow Street. It takes me back to curling up on my mama’s lap as she drinks her coffee.

And I was thankful to Father for this little gift, getting things done. My hair a mess and I look in the mirror and don’t feel so beautiful. But I have joy because I’m seeing this all as His gift.

And yesterday you tired me with that fit you threw over sharing toys. I worried what people would think. That maybe I’m not doing the best job at teaching you these things. But you nestle into my neck and you twirl my hair as your eyes fall to sleep. You let me know in this moment this is enough, this is all you need.

So I rock your brother to sleep for another nap and I watch you in the midday sun. I see sleep come over you after a morning of dinosaurs and singing songs and chasing your new kitten around the whole entire house. I close my eyes and I declare His goodness. His goodness in my tiredness. His goodness in the change. His goodness over you and your brother. In the fits and the tears and the happy and the fun. He is good in it all. And I ask Him for patience as your mama. He reminds me that you are exactly who He created you to be, wild, fierce, adventurer, a fire. So I pray for patience. I pray for a kind voice and arms that are always yours to fall in to.

And I see a glimpse of the future you. Unstoppable. I see the wild in you now is going to set the world on fire when you’re big and strong. I see the way you pretend you are your daddy when you have a microphone. I see you sing your little heart out and yell JESUS! So I won’t tame it. I pray for patience, and I’ll encourage you to be exactly who you are created to be. Wild fire.

Postpartum Journey

Trevor came home from the church with these in hand. “Fall Pick Me Up” they’re called. He had a fall candle for me, too. 4.5 months postpartum with our 2nd baby, this is what I needed today. It took me 5 months after Gideon before I began to feel like myself again. I was sad over nothing and everything and I wasn’t sure why.

With Asher, I understand it deeper, the postpartum journey. I expected the sadness and I knew it would last longer than the 2 weeks the nurse told me I should expect. I knew boundaries over my new baby were healthy and I didn’t feel guilty this time for not showing up to everything when I was just too tired. I didn’t feel guilty when everyone wanted to hold my baby but instead I held him close. I’m a more confident mama this time around, but postpartum emotions are still real. They are still here. They last longer than 2 weeks. But it seems like after those first few weeks we are expected to be back to our normal selves. The self before 40 plus weeks of pregnancy and hours of (sometimes traumatizing) labor. The self before we gained pregnancy weight and now or bellies are a little bit more softer than they used to be.

A few months after Asher, a man from church asked me how I was doing, how postpartum has been. Because he remembered there was a sadness after baby. & he cared. I was caught off guard that he had been the only one (besides my DR & husband) to ask me about it. But I was thankful. Because it reminded me that it’s normal to feel sad in the midst of such joy. And today was one of those days. But Asher kept looking at me with a really big smile through my tears and Trevor reminded me, God knew we needed our Asher in this season. So full of joy. And a reminder that Father is with us. And that is what his name means. Asher, happy/blessed. Emmanuel, God with us.

So if you know a woman who just had a baby a week a month or a year(s) ago, ask her how she is. Bring her a meal. Send her a gift, a card, a reminder that she’s doing well. A reminder that she’s seen in the midst of what feels like an unseen season. If you know her real well, offer to babysit. And if she says no thanks, just keep showing up. Sit with her a while, and just keep showing up.

whatever you’ve been praying for

I haven’t been to this space in over a year. The last time I was here we were living at my moms and we were pressing into our next step. Trusting God for us has always been a free fall. I’m usually the one to question that first step, but my husband takes the leap with no fear. So much has changed in a year.

It’s been one year since we moved from home. Where I’ve lived my whole life. Where I know everything. It’s still home to me, and I never thought we’d leave. But we trust Him more. We believe Him more. And we are enjoying where we are at. And honestly, we have been so spoiled in this season. I watch my husband and I could never say enough good things about him. The way he is a husband, the way he fathers, the way he handles it all. The way I would like to crawl back into myself at times, and the way he calls me out and speaks life back into me. He is so good. He is learning. I am learning. We are growing.

I sat with a friend last night and she told me about how God provided for their family in a huge way. God told her what their next step would be, and she trusted the impossible. And she saw it come to life. She trusted that He would show up, and He did, the way He always does when we have that kind of faith.

I stood in church this morning. We dropped our oldest off in the 2 year room and I held our baby during worship. My heart pressed in, heavy with all of these promises it seemed like He may have forgotten. And I know they aren’t forgotten. I know there is growth in the days that are leading up to the promise. These days are the promise. And I hold our baby, he falls asleep as the songs are sung. And she sings these words,

The Cross has the final word

She repeats it and it’s like an anthem in me. I remember years ago when I truly believed I would never be a mom. I can remember declaring that over myself in my hopelessness. Because I believed the enemy and what he had spoken over me. What he’s never let me forget. I remember sitting with our pastor in tears over the lie, that I wanted to be a mom but I would never be one. And I would think back to my first baby, and the enemy would remind me that I threw my chance away. But he is a liar, and he sees our purpose, so he tries to distort what’s true.

And she sings these words on a Sunday in September and I look at one of those promises in my arms. He’s fighting sleep as I rock him back and forth, as that anthem stirs inside of me and reminds me that it’s finished. That the enemy is finished. That we are healed and we are covered in His mercy, bathed in His grace. That someone can make the ultimate regret, and then gift His daughter with 2 babies, entrust her with 2 sweet boys, because of the cross. Because of His great love. I’ll never understand it, but I love being completely overwhelmed with Father’s love.

Whatever promise you’re holding onto, whatever you’re waiting on, I promise He hasn’t forgotten. And when the enemy tells you that He’s failed you just remember what’s true–

The cross has the final word

Give up the ghost

I watch him, he’s learned to walk and he has no fear. No fear, I know. I see the brave in him when he lets go of mama’s hand and walks, almost runs on his own. I see brave as he climbs stairs and he climbs chairs and he would climb down them alone if mama would let him. I watch him and I wonder how to get back there, to Eden. He has no fear and he’s there, in Eden. He’s innocent and brave but he looks back at mama while he does these things, like my presence makes him this way. Like it’s okay for brave so long as mama’s with him. And he laughs from the pit of him and it’s pure and sweet  and what is it about a baby’s laugh that does something inside of us?  It changes us for a moment. We don’t think about worry for a moment. For a moment we’re innocent, too. It’s Eden. 

And there’s a ghost that’s been chasing me or maybe I’ve been chasing it. And it’s midnight and He wakes me and He asks me to give it up. I pretend I don’t know what He’s talking about but He knows, I know. Because I’ve eaten the whole apple and I’ve known more than He’s wanted me to and it’s been chasing me, I’ve been chasing it. So many times I’ve closed my eyes and the liar is there. The liar shows me what he said would be forgotten and he lied. It’s there. And there’s plans I’ve been making without Him and I’ve been chasing them until my legs grow weak. He asks if He can come but I know what that means – give up the ghost. And can I? Hand over this box with all of my things? Hand over these plans in my mind for an unknown thing? Can I relearn this life-thing and get back to Eden? Before the apple fell into my lap? The Eden where he is, my trusting boy who’s brave comes from knowing his mama isn’t far behind. Can I find his brave in knowing that He isn’t far behind?

So I’ve invited Him deeper but really He’s probably invited me. He sits with me at the table of my soul and He knows everything I’m about to say. He breaks bread and He offers me some. He knows I don’t find the good in the clouds covering the sun. In the car that finds trouble in the rain. He knows I clench teeth when bank account runs dry and He asks, “Where is your brave?” And He asks, “Where is your trust?” And He asks, “Where is your hope?” And He knows, hope is in the ghost I’ve been chasing. In the plans I’ve been making. The ones I forgot to invite Him to. So He pours wine and He asks me to drink. He asks if I remember the house in the country and Him meeting me there. He asks if I remember slamming the door and telling Him to leave. If I remember the cool mornings on screened in porch where we met over coffee. All He wanted was to lift the heavy from my chest that had been there for years. He asks if I remember and I do. Because He did. It was painful because of the enemy but He was not the enemy. He was cool breeze in the early morning and He never left even when I slammed the door. And I remember. I take a sip and I see dark room and apple juice and I see nails and cross and I’m free. It’s been years, and I’m free. It seems so easy. The Answer. He asks and I remember. 

I open The Book and it’s Eden. It’s my brave child and I’m brave, too. Papa lingers behind me as we walk through the field and I feel brave, for the first time in a long time. And He speaks of thankfulness rolling off tongue but that’s a foreign language to me. It’s all over these pages and I’ve read them before but seeing them now as we walk hand in hand it’s like the first time. Thankful in all of this. Thankful for where we are. Thankful that that door didn’t open and thankful for wisdom to close the next with our own hands, even if it aches me. Thankful for dirt under toes and thankful for little hands to hold. And I can be tired and I can be broken and I question – but its been in these pages all along, waiting for me to give up my ghosts, waiting for me to invite Him in or maybe accept His invitation. For thankful. For His road. For His hand to hold. 

And I’m running in the field and there’s a wild in my soul flamed with a fire from Heaven, and He’s trailing behind fueling my brave.