Posts tagged trust
I am Loved

And when I realize this, that the greatest part of my being is that I am deeply and unconditionally loved, it makes me desperate to share the realness and the ability to feel this with those whose greatest feeling in their being right now is a lack of love.

Because this person that I am now, this loved and accepted and grace covered person, is not who I once was.

I spent many days and nights feeling
unloved.
unwanted.
not enough.
overwhelmed.
under qualified.
cast aside.
never good enough.

So to be here, resting in love…it’s surprising.
And yet, so natural. Because I was designed to love and to be loved.
My flaw was in looking to people to fulfill this design.

When I sit at the feet of my Father, I am not at all concerned with who or what Iam.
Because I am HIS.
And He is perfection.
And that is enough.
And I am so caught up in every beautiful thing that He is, that my earthly thoughts of myself fade into the shadow of His wings.
I. am. loved.

I was loved before I realized it.

I had only to open my soul to it.

And now I want nothing more than to pour it out on you.

You. are. loved.

You need only realize it.

Cast your burdens into the shadow of His wings and allow your soul to be enveloped in His love. Find rest. Find healing. Find joy. Find overflow. Find love.

Find LIFE.

Guest Contributor:

Andie Fair.jpg

Andie Fair is the starry-eyed wife of her high school sweetheart, Executive Creative Director of Chaos to their kiddos, a quirky, open-door homemaker with a soul wired to explore the unknown, a heart crafted to lead with love, and a second mug of coffee forever in the microwave. She’s a certified health coach, aiming to make healthy living easier for families and a volunteer disciple maker who gets her thrills guiding others to engage in an active relationship with their Redeemer. She writes randomly and strives to live intentionally. 

Forced Rest

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   Matthew 11:28-29 (NET)

I’m learning a lot about rest lately.  

Rest:  repose, freedom from activity or labor.  Peace of mind or spirit.  A place for resting or lodging.  Something used for support. 

In July the Lord moved our little family to North Dallas, Texas.  This after seven years in the Northern, Virginia/Washington DC area.  It was a massive change for all of us.  We were fully “over-programed” in our big city life.  My hubs was driving a 3 hour round trip commute plus an 11 hour work day.  I was driving the kids 3 hours a day to and from their special school that could help teach them Jesus and accommodate their learning needs.  Our sweet kiddos had some activities, but not as many as most of the children of the land in which we lived.  Mine are kids whose time is spent in therapy and with special doctors, typically a city away.  I was a busy Bible study teacher in our church. It was the joy of my heart, but our life had outgrown us.  As a family we were weary and burdened. 

There was no doubt God called us to Texas.  To a softer life.  A life with a smaller geographical radius, with closer grandparents and helpful schools for our kiddos. And, without notice, He called us to a serious season of rest.   Some stuff we were happy to let go of…we skipped away.  Others we released slowly, sadly.  

To leave my Bible study teaching felt like leaving a piece of my heart in Virginia.  We knew, really deeply knew, God had said, “it’s time to go.”  But it wasn’t easy.  I also knew God was calling me to wait before I jumped into ministry here in Texas.   “One year…”  Kept reverberating in my spirit.  “One year…”  And then, like an exclamation point, I broke my ankle.  

I broke my ankle in two places in November 2017 and it took nearly a year for complete healing.   I started out with a non-walking cast for four weeks, then a boot for six more weeks, followed by three months of physical therapy.   At first, I was in a respectable amount of pain so I didn’t do a lot of moving around.  I thank Jesus profoundly for my bathtub.  And for my husband who did EVERYTHING while I was laid up.  Oh, and my sweet neighbors.  Y’all, Texans line up to bring the food.  Bless them. 

I expected to “work” while I was forced to sit.  I expected to write my Opus Maximus.  Friends said, “I can’t wait to see what God does with this time!”  And I felt the pressure to do something important…at least at first.  But to tell you the truth, after a while I settled into it.  I grew to like certain aspects of my forced rest.  My days were smaller, simpler, cleaner and quieter.  My pain distracted my mind and required a lot of actual physical downtime.  If I were standing up for more than 10 minutes my foot would swell and the toes peeking out of my cast would turn purple.  I had no choice but to sit, foot up, ice on.  I read a lot.  I listened to audio books.  I colored in my daughters “adult” coloring book.  I ordered all of our Christmas presents and most of our groceries online.  I was a late adaptor to Downton Abbey so I caught the first two seasons.  I learned binge watching could be delicious!  Did I mention my bathtub?  

During this season Jesus was speaking to me, asking me to reframe how I see my life.  I see life as a full plate.  Busy, loaded.  If something new comes, I just shuffle things around so everything can fit.  I bet you do too.  I see rest taking up a very small space on that plate.  Like an olive.  Or a pickle.  It’s a garnish, not a main component of my day.  And when I indulge in it, I tend to feel a little extravagant, wasteful even guilty.  

My full plate got tipped over.  During my recuperation life was not a full plate with moments of rest.  Life was full rest with moments of activity.  It flipped.  I lived the inverse of my previous existence.  Of course it was situational, temporary.  We can’t live on the couch and we aren’t called to.  But it taught me something.  I am not the sum of my activities.  I simply am.  To Jesus that is enough.  It’s enough.  This is the starting point.  Add to your life carefully from here. 

In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus is talking to the crowds.  Folks who were burdened with guilt and laboring hard under pharisaical laws.  Many laws, requiring strict observance, and impossible to follow.  These people were hamstrung, trapped.  There was no real path to rest for them.  In Jesus’ time the oxen’s yoke had become a metaphor for Jewish law.  It was heavy hard work to carry this yoke.  Everyone knew what you meant when you talked about the yoke of the law. In Bible times, it was the chief work of a carpenter to craft yokes.  Jesus knew about yokes.  And here He is, the gentle carpenter, with a message of rest.  

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

The words spoken here are ours to claim.  He beckons us to come to Him.  That is the initial action we must take.  To come means to put our trust in him.  To give Him our strained and swollen lives.  To open our hands and drop our burdens at his feet and trust him for what’s next.  

What’s next? He gives rest.  Physical rest?  Maybe.  Most of us need that.  Spiritual rest?  Definitely.   We trust - Jesus gives.  It’s His eternal exchange.  Don’t you love Him for it? 

Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  Matthew 11:29

First we come, next we take His yoke.  His will for our lives.  His path for our days.  After our initial moment of trust we pursue Him through life.  Yoked to Him, seeking him, letting Him guide the easy days and the hard ones.  Life with Christ becomes, not easy, but easier than doing life on our own.  Now, our rest isn’t given…it’s found.  We find rest in living a life close to Jesus.  Why?  Because a life close to Jesus is a life covered in grace.  Trust and grace lived out, that’s rest.  That’s peace.  

In Expositions of Holy Scripture, Alexander Maclaren phrases it this way, “The 'coming' is an initial act which makes a man Christ's companion. And the 'Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me,' is the continuous act by which that companionship is manifested and preserved.” 

Initial then continual. A friendship holy, intimate, and blessed. 

Let’s not miss this, Jesus makes Himself gentle and humble in heart voluntarily.  He bends low to share this yoke of life with us.  It’s not his divine nature to be lowly.  He does it for us.  

So what does this look like practically?  To live a life yoked with Jesus?  To find pockets of rest and grace among the clatter of our lives?  How do we get there?  

We go to Him. 

Here’s an idea.  Spend some time alone with the Lord in prayer.  

“Lord, I come to you trusting.  I’m tired.  I need rest.  Your rest.  I long for the assurance that you are with me, guiding my days.  I take your yoke upon me.  Teach me how to be gentle and humble like you.  Show me the path of grace.  Help me find rest for my soul.”

Now sit in silence. (Keep a notepad and pen handy to write down and dismiss all distracting thoughts that come your way.  Use shorthand.  Ex: swch laundry,  p.u. kids)   

Ask the Lord:

1) Where do I need to trust you more?
2) What is my heart longing to do for you?  
3) What is one next step I can take? 

That’s it my sister.  Put time in your schedule and come back to this often.  Block it off in your smart phone.   

Amy Carmichael, the amazing missionary to India in the 1900s, said, “Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace. If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit, which is life and peace. In that stillness you will know what His will is.”

Know that great things come from resting.  You are not wasting your time.  God uses rest to prime our hearts for the next good thing.  Those things left on your plate, some of them won’t be so important anymore, they’ll fall off.  Others will get the time and attention they need.  

Yesterday, I had a hard day.  My ankle hurt and so did everything else.  I felt sore and stiff.  It’s ok.  It’s what comes from months of limping.  So, I took a rest day.  I stayed home.  Took a slow walk.  Got back in my bath.  And Jesus, my yokefellow, was there saying, “Remember what you learned on the couch.  Come to me.  Trust me.  I’ve got this.” 

*Forced Rest first appeared on Daughters of the Deep

Guest Contributor:

Julianna Mathers.jpg

Julianna Mathers is a writer, speaker and ladies Bible study teacher who is passionate about encouraging women.  She has instructed little girls, teens, and adult women for the past 20 years through discipleship, Sunday school, and in-depth ladies Bible study. Along with her husband, she has co-taught couples and hosted a life group in her home for years. She's had the privilege of sharing her miracle adoption and mothering stories with hundreds of women through speaking events. 

With her relatable, poignant and funny style, she loves to challenge, dream with and draw women into a deeper knowledge of scripture and a more intimate relationship with the Lord.   

Julianna graduated from the University of Virginia and spent 11 years working in corporate America before becoming a wife and mom.  She is married to Dwight Mathers, a retired U.S. Coast Guard Captain and is the mother of two wonderful adopted children.  In her free time she loves decorating and re-decorating her home, cooking big messy meals, writing about God’s lavish grace, and exploring blogging.  Julianna and her family have recently relocated to Dallas, TX from the Northern Virginia area.  They are members of Prestonwood Baptist Church.  Julianna and her husband Dwight are both active in Bible studies with Riverstone Ministries, a ministry centered in her neighborhood.   

Desiring God's Presence

Exodus 33: 15 ‘If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.’”

Having moved 2000 miles from VA to TX, I dove into the study of Moses and I assumed the Lord would ask me to stop my complaining.  I just survived a hot Houston summer, bugs the size of small rodents, and a record flood and hurricane season, but hey who is complaining? Of course the passages on the grumbling Israelites would put me in my place.  Much to my surprise, the Lord had a bigger issue in my heart, which needed tending to.

Week after week, I was continually drawn to Moses himself as so many aspects of his life and his walk I admired and desired to strive towards.  I spent many hours thinking about how desperately Moses desired the Lord’s presence above all and it was this very thing, his intimate face-to-face relationship with the Lord, which made the difference in his life.  The Lord promised Moses victory over his enemies, promised him land flowing with milk and honey BUT Moses knew the better choice. Moses was willing to give up all those things and stay camped in the desert if the Lord refused to go on with them.  Moses wanted the Lord’s presence!

This made me really think about where my heart truly was.  If I was promised victory over my battles or promised days filled with peace, joy, contentment, self-control, comfort, and security; however, I was given the caveat that the Lord’s presence would not be with me.  How would I respond?  Do I truly want Christ and only Christ?  Is He truly where my complete satisfaction lies?  Or deep in my heart do I desire more…  

The year started off very smoothly and I was feeling quite proud of myself, and how quickly I seemed to have settled into this new life as a Texan.   Then I encountered some rough waters and began to struggle, as I faced a depression, which seemed to come out of nowhere.  The Lord began showing me that in my impatience for the Lord to bring healing to my heart, I began to build my own boat to set sail in.  Needless to say, I’m not very good at building boats.  I was trying to re-create what I had before. Signing up for everything and anything where maybe I could meet a friend and hoping to try to fit in and feel apart of something.  I found myself decorating and re-decorating my house but with no one to entertain, working out until my knees gave way, serving my family beyond what I should and in all of this trying to feel purposeful once again.  One by one idols where being created, attempting to fill the void only God should fill.  So one by one God began taking apart this boat that I had built leaving me floating on the water with Him alone.  That’s exactly where He wanted me.

Like Moses desperately desiring the Lord’s presence, Christ wants me to desperately seek after Him.  He desires that I find my purpose and fulfillment in Him alone. Christ wants to be the boat that I climb into each day.  He will enable me to ride the tossing waves of adversity, to be still while floating on the tranquil waters of patiently waiting, to not fear when the storms clouds of uncertainty roll in and to be anchored firmly when my doubts want to pull me away.  Unlike all those other boats I try to construct, Christ is the only one who fills my heart with true satisfaction.  My circumstances will change but when I am finding fulfillment and purpose in my perfect redeemer, Jesus Christ, I am able to remain anchored securely.

What boat are you setting sail in today?

Guest Contributor:

Mary Fahenstock headshot.JPG

Mary and her college sweetheart, Matt, have been married 27 years, have lived in WI, VA, TX, and they currently live in Ann Arbor, MI.  She is learning to embrace the “empty nest” years along with the travel which goes along with having her three grown children on both the east and west coasts. Mary enjoys spending time with her family, wherever and whenever they can gather, as well as reading, studying the Word, and spending time soaking in the beauty of God’s creation.

 

"I am Singing over You" Love, God

Years ago, while going through a season where my perception of God’s love for me was challenged, there were several days that I had a few lines from a song stuck in my head.  That is not that unusual; we’ve all had that happen.  What was unusual, was that I hadn’t heard this particular song in years, not even it’s melody had come across my path.  Just a few lines from the song kept repeating in my mind.  I’m not even sure I could recall the rest of the song; it was obscure and I had only ever heard it a few times, at best.  

After a few days while humming it and going about mundane tasks, I felt that still, small voice speak to my spirit and I was thunderstruck.  “Meg, you are hearing the song I am singing over you.”  A passage in scripture, that always makes me smile is Zephaniah 3: 17 where the prophet says the Lord will rejoice over His people with singing.  You see, in my period of doubt, doubt that My heavenly Father could love me as much as others He chose to favor with what I desperately longed for, but lacked, I was hearing, continually, Paul Simon’s song Father and Daughter.  The lines I kept hearing were, “I’m going to watch you shine, gonna watch you grow….and as long as one and one is two there could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you.”

Oh, what we will hear if we listen, if we inquire after the Lord, and we wait upon Him!   In Daniel 2:28 Daniel declares that there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, mysteries if you will.  He longs to show us more of Him, reveal His nature that we may know Him.  He does that primarily through scripture, His Word, His love letter to us, the greatest love story ever told.  As we get into His Word, get before Him in prayer, which is not only unloading our cares and requests on Him, but surrendering our will to His, waiting upon Him, and listening, He will “show us great and mighty things” which we do not know. (Jer.33:3)

I began to ask that He would reveal to me what He was singing over me, when I needed to hear to it most, and the for wisdom to know, when it was just a song stuck in my head.   He has answered a handful of times, always in surprising ways, and always timely and personally.  I am so grateful for the heavenly Father who knows me intimately, and desires for me to know Him just as personally.

The truth that Daniel proclaimed to King Nebuchadnezzar, that there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, is unchanging.  What do you need to know, how the God of the universe truly feels about you, how He sees you?  Press into Him, ask, seek, knock, and as you wait upon Him, be listening.  (Phil 3:14; Luke 11:9)

Miracle Red Cowboy Boots

When the Lord first moved our family to Dallas we lived on my husband’s military pension while he looked for the job that would launch his second career.  We were so blessed to have the resources that permitted us to move, plant ourselves in a wonderful neighborhood close to family, and provide our kids with a private school that accommodates their different learning styles.  Our needs were fully met, but we had to watch our pennies.  We had to put little luxuries on hold, just for a season.  Our discretionary abilities were on restriction.  Life became smaller, and in some ways sweeter. 

In my daily prayers for my husband, one of the things I would ask for was peace and confidence in his provision of our family.   Looking for a job is hard on a man and I didn’t want to knowingly add stress to his burden to provide.  So I prayed, and God helped me imperfectly live out my intensions.  This season was hard for me.  My friends who know me well could tell you why.  I want stuff.  I know, we all want stuff, but some of us are better at putting our desires on the back burner.  I’m not so good at it.  We had a new home and I’m one of those who loves to fuss – a little coat of paint, a few new light fixtures, maybe a rug here, maybe a lamp there.  Curtailed, for a season.  In prayer the Lord said, “this phase seems like a test for your husband but it is also a discipline for you, to prune away unnecessary desires that won’t satisfy you…can’t satisfy you.”  

The words of 1 Timothy 6 reverberated in my spirit, But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

Red Cowboy Boots_Julianna Mathers.jpeg

And so we set our minds on contentment.  Our kids had to grow in this area too.  I have a tween daughter.  She’s a very tweeny tween.  She has had a very nice life.  And because she is a child, she has no idea how nice it has been.  So when we chose to curtail expenditures, well, it was a bummer for her.  One afternoon we were playing tourists in our own town during a “staycation” Spring Break.  It was a Western sort of day at the Fort Worth Stockyards.  I don’t know why I did this, but I let my daughter amble into a cowboy boot store.  Real cowboy boots, not the ones from Target.  Beautifully stitched, butter soft leather, expensive cowboy boots.  And, I don’t know what I was thinking, but I let her try some on.  I have to admit they were cool - red, with elaborate stitching.  She looked cool, she felt cool…and then she looked at me in anticipation.  “No, not today.”  The answer was predictable of course.  But it didn’t sit well with her.  She proceeded to have what we lovingly call “a hissy fit” in our family.  And it was a loud one.   She was hoping to embarrass me into buying boots that were too expensive for most of us, including me.  What she actually did was embarrass herself.  I took her outside as fast as I could get those pretty boots off her feet and we had a little talk.   She was so certain those boots were vital to her happiness.  And here I was denying her the key that would unlock the answer to all her fashion problems.  

“Look,” I said, “you are not the first young woman who decided the only thing she needed was the one thing she lacked.  Eve with her apple was the first.  We will let these boots go and you will survive the disappointment…be better for it.”  But the lesson couldn’t stop there.  I told her about my prayer for her daddy, who was working hard daily, building his network, and searching out a new way to provide for us.  I told her my prayer was peace and confidence for her daddy.  Was her ingratitude fostering that?  Was she helping?   “Oh no, mom.  I didn’t think about that.  I don’t need those boots.  Never mind…”  

My girl and I love garage sales, thrift stores, and antique barns.  We love the hunt.  God is so faithful. Wouldn’t you know the very next day we were passing one of our favorite resale shops and decided to stop.  Can you guess what was right up front, displayed and waiting for her?  Yep, an almost new pair of butter soft red leather cowboy boots…in her size…at a small fraction of the price of the originals!   At first I wasn’t sure why the Lord had decided to answer my daughter’s “hissy fit” with the very thing she was longing for, but I do not pretend to understand all His ways.  His sweetness in response to our sourness continues to astound me.  I can’t be sure, but I think He was showing my daughter that God meets our needs…and sometimes our wants…if we open our hands and bend our will to His choices.  I think He was showing all of us…

Read with me in First John Chapter 2: 

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.  For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

This sounds like an order or a command, and a tough one at that.  How do I not love the world?  The lust of the flesh, our physical cravings.  The lust of the eyes, our longing for things.  The pride of life, our confidence in earthly resources.  These things seem to rule me. How to I resist?  

The answer is simple and complex all at once.  I think maybe this isn’t a command at all.  Maybe it’s really it’s an explanation.  Do not love the world…because the world will not satisfy. It cannot satisfy.  Sure we can buy the new boots and we can over-extend our finances to do so.  But you know what that leaves us with?  Fancy feet and the same old sick soul.  Nothing changes.  Boots wear out.  But when we trust the Lord for our salvation, our provision, our direction on this journey, then everything changes. 

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”  This, friends, is the secret to a happy life.  It’s like a code.  That thing you want, that thing you can’t live without? Eve’s apple, my daughter’s boots, or my new lamps…it’s not the fix we’re hoping for.  Jesus is the fix.  Only Jesus. 

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33

*Miracle Red Cowboy Boots first appeared on Daughters of the Deep

Guest Contributor:

Julianna Mathers.jpg

Julianna Mathers is a writer, speaker and ladies Bible study teacher who is passionate about encouraging women.  She has instructed little girls, teens, and adult women for the past 20 years through discipleship, Sunday school, and in-depth ladies Bible study. Along with her husband, she has co-taught couples and hosted a life group in her home for years. She's had the privilege of sharing her miracle adoption and mothering stories with hundreds of women through speaking events. 

With her relatable, poignant and funny style, she loves to challenge, dream with and draw women into a deeper knowledge of scripture and a more intimate relationship with the Lord.   

Julianna graduated from the University of Virginia and spent 11 years working in corporate America before becoming a wife and mom.  She is married to Dwight Mathers, a retired U.S. Coast Guard Captain and is the mother of two wonderful adopted children.  In her free time she loves decorating and re-decorating her home, cooking big messy meals, writing about God’s lavish grace, and exploring blogging.  Julianna and her family have recently relocated to Dallas, TX from the Northern Virginia area.  They are members of Prestonwood Baptist Church.  Julianna and her husband Dwight are both active in Bible studies with Riverstone Ministries, a ministry centered in her neighborhood.   

Hope-Filled Brokenness

Romans 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  

When we had first moved to Houston, I was struggling to adjust to my new normal and the Lord gave me a word picture of how He wanted me to live my life. It was a very broken and cracked vase, which had definitely seen and experienced a lot of life.  It was so cracked that it could not hold water.  As water was poured into the vase, it would begin trickling out of some smaller cracks and gushing out of the larger cracks.  This vase appeared quite useless and without a real purpose, other than as a new décor piece for a mantle.  This was not really the look I was aiming for however at this point, I definitely felt like that broken vase.  I felt quite tired and useless being placed here in Houston far away from family and friends.  The easiest thing would be to stay on the mantle and reflect on all the wonderful memories but the Lord wanted me off the shelf to be used once again.  This is always easier said than done.  

So I allowed the Lord to take me off that shelf and begin to use me in little ways as I stepped out here and there.  The more the Lord chose to use me, the more water would leak from my cracks.  So I found myself beginning to try to patch the cracks in my vase with various things.  I felt like if I looked prettier on the outside, perhaps my cracks would not be noticed.  New hairstyles, new outfits and a newly decorated house only ended up making me fall deeper into a pit of comparison and broke my vase in additional places.  My increased insecurities welcomed in some emotional eating, where food became another coping mechanism to help distract me from the loneliness that was filling my heart.  The additional pounds that I added to my waistline only created more cracks in my shell of insecurity, causing me to want to jump right back onto that shelf and hide.  But the Lord kept pulling me off that shelf and showing me the things I had filled my life with in order to “fix my brokenness”.

Situation after situation came into my life, which brought additional brokenness into my heart.  Emotions, which I thought were placed behind me, came reeling back to me again.  A few dreams that I once held dear needed to be let go and grieved which required me to fully trust the Lord’s plans for me and my family.  The only thing I could really do was spend extra time really filling myself with His truths.  I prayed fervently, I read His Word voraciously and I cried out to the Lord for answers to how to walk in this brokenness, which I was feeling.  Over time as I sought Him, I began to sense that He was not asking me to walk in brokenness but instead was showing me that He wanted me to walk in HOPE FILLED brokenness!  Just two simple words with ten letters but that made all the difference.

When I walk in this type of brokenness, His hope is pouring out of me, rather than my emotions, my sadness or my despair.  Jesus is my true and lasting hope.  He is the One who shines in my life and enables me to love others despite how I may be feeling. I want my heart to overflow with the hope of His return, I want to cling loosely to the things of this world and I want to be filled with the hope of Christ and all that entails.  When this hope is filling my heart, my focus is on Christ and not on myself.  This is the hope He is asking to walk in and to be filled with so when He chooses to uses me, as I am … a broken and worn vase…. His hope would overflow from me by the power of His Holy Spirit.

Are you feeling broken and unable to be used by the Lord?  Know that Jesus desires to shine His light brightly through your cracks as you cling tightly to Him and choose to walk in His hope.  Christ is our lasting hope and He desires that we live our lives hope filled even on those days when we are feeling broken.

Guest Contributor:

Mary Fahenstock headshot.JPG

Mary and her college sweetheart, Matt, have been married 27 years, have lived in WI, VA, TX, and they currently live in Ann Arbor, MI.  She is learning to embrace the “empty nest” years along with the travel which goes along with having her three grown children on both the east and west coasts. Mary enjoys spending time with her family, wherever and whenever they can gather, as well as reading, studying the Word, and spending time soaking in the beauty of God’s creation.

 

Bringing Our Fish and Loaves to Jesus

Do you ever feel overwhelmed as a mom?  Oh, that is an understatement, right?!  Do you ever wonder how you are going to be enough for your kids who need so much from you?  From the first moment we meet our precious little one face to face we fall in love and instinctively want the very best for him or her.  We desire to nurture our little one physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  We begin to feel the weight of the responsibility of leading this child into its future.  All these emotions can happen to us in a matter of moments.  I shouldn’t speak this way for all moms, but those were exactly my feelings when I met each of my three babies.  The love that welled up in me and poured out was immeasurable, but along with those loving feelings came the feeling of inadequacy.  Will I be able to be enough, know enough and do enough to always provide exactly what my children will need? 

Maybe you too can relate?  Let’s look at a passage in Scripture that may help us with these feelings.  Check out John 6:1-14.  Take a moment to get out your Bible and read the passage.  It’s the well-known story when Jesus feeds the five thousand.  Picture the scene in your mind.  There were thousands of men, women and children gathering around Jesus that day.  He was meeting their needs spiritually with His words and His presence, but they also needed to be fed physically.  How could they even begin to feed thousands of people?  So, what did Jesus do?  He asked one of his disciples, Philip, to come up with a plan.  Another disciple, Andrew, chimed in and said, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” (v 9)  Then the disciples went to retrieve the small portion of food available, all the boy had, and put it in the hands of Jesus.  We know the rest of the story…after giving thanks Jesus was able to feed the five thousand, with food left over.  Jesus met the physical needs of thousands of people with just two fish and five loaves of barley.  Amazing!

You might be thinking, yes that was one of Jesus’ great miracles, so how does this passage relate to an overwhelmed mom holding her newborn in her arms thinking about the future?  Or to a mom raising multiple children who is pondering if she is doing enough to pour into them physically, emotionally, and spiritually?  Or even to a mom who is in the thick of the teenage years doing her best, but questioning if her best is enough to prepare them for the real world?

Let’s address those thoughts.  There are many truths to take away from this passage, but there is one I have come to love and find rest in as a mom.  Let’s look at the boy with the obedient heart who was willing to give what he had to Jesus.  Then, what did Jesus do?  Jesus Himself filled in the gap between what was given and what was needed.  We, as moms, can learn a great deal from this passage.  God asks us to have an obedient heart, be willing to give what we have to our role as a mom and trust He will fill in the gap.  None of us can parent perfectly, do it all, be it all and ensure our kids will receive enough from us.  BUT, we can give our fish and loaves, what little we have, and watch Jesus make what we give, BIGGER, in His hands.  Bottom line, we need to parent WITH JESUS.  

God invites us as moms to parent with Jesus; to rely on Him, trust Him, walk with Him, day by day.  We can rest in God’s sovereign plan, take our daily marching orders from Jesus, and He will take what we give and make it enough for our kids for His plan and His glory.  He chose YOU before time began to be the mother of your specific children. He knew in advance they would need someone like YOU. (Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 139:13-16) And when you parent with Jesus with an obedient heart, He works through you to grow your children and you each day to be more like Him.  (Philippians 1:6) In the hands of Jesus, you are enough for your kids because you are a child of God, created with a godly purpose as a mother.  Let’s not allow the feelings of being overwhelmed to take over our minds and cripple us from taking what little we do have and putting it in the hands of the Almighty God. (Philippians 4:13,19) Invite Jesus into your mothering, give Him your fish and loaves, and rest in Him to make it into enough…with leftovers.

Adoption: Welcoming Sons and Daughters

I remember sitting on my couch during a 6-week recovery from major surgery.  It was summer of 2003 and there was no Facebook, so I was limited to daytime TV since I could not drive or keep my eyes open to read a book due to the pain medications.  I soon filled my mornings by watching 2 back-to- back shows on TLC:  “Birth Days” and “Adoption Stories”.  I was drawn in by the emotional and happy moments these reality TV families experienced; tales of how they came to love the babies they bore the first hour and adopted the next.  I cried happy tears for those families I did not know, but I also knew deep down that they were tears for my own longing to get married and have children of my own.  

I was 37 at the time and had always wanted to be a wife and a mother.  I had a successful career as a medical social worker for 15 years, and for many of those years I enjoyed the perks of being single.   As I started to close in on my 40’s however, worry set in that marriage and becoming a mother would never happen for me.  The medical world backed up my fears, telling me that I was running out of time for motherhood.  Sometimes it was difficult to see so many of my friends get married and then welcome all the new babies that soon followed.  My weekend social calendar was full of both bridal and baby showers for years.  During my quiet times with God, I sensed Him telling me He would work it out, that I just needed to wait a little bit longer.  Walking closely with God during those times gave me hope.  

As I thought about it years later, those TV reality shows were a part of the hope He gave me and they left a lasting impression on me.  I believe they were placed in my life at that time to prepare me for what God had planned to come.  I remember loving these 2 reality shows because either way those babies joined their families, biologically or through adoption, both were wonderful and special.  Those reality families loved their babies whether they birthed them naturally or adopted them.  I also realized that it was then, during my recovery from surgery, that God planted the desire in me to experience both a “Birth Day” and an “Adoption Story” of my own.  

At ages 41 and 38, Karl and I were married and we knew that since we both wanted at least 2 children, we needed to get started right away.  I was a little sad that we would not have some carefree time as newlyweds, but I also knew the urgency of our situation.  The road to having our children was relatively short, but rocky.  Our daughter, Emily, was born after the heartache and anticipation of 4 back-to-back IVF cycles.  After a spontaneous miscarriage and some more infertility treatments a year later, we knew the final chapter of our Birth Story was written and we were ready to start our Adoption Story.  

Adopting was indeed, a very different story.  There was a mountain of paperwork, interviews, and fingerprints to be examined.  And then there was the waiting.  Throughout the whole experience there were a lot of questions, some that we did not see coming or know how to answer right away.  We had not anticipated the level of detail that the adoption application itself would entail.   Would we accept a child or any race or ethnic background?  If not, which ones?  What if the biological family had a history of cancer?  How about mental illness?  What if the mother smoked, drank alcohol, or took drugs while pregnant?  And if some drugs were ok, which ones weren’t?  What if the child was the “product” of a rape?  How about multiples?  Some of these questions were “easy”, and others stopped us in our tracks and caused us some considerable thought and discussion, as we wanted to make sure we were equipped to handle any situation that might come along—as if that’s even possible!  

Other  “interesting” questions came from the people around us.  Perhaps they meant well, but their questions indicated to us that they were leery of adoption.  “Do you think you will be able to love both the children the same even though one is yours and one isn’t?”  “Why would you want to raise someone else’s kid?”  Wow.  It was hard sometimes to not be defensive since we knew this was the plan for our family, and we had little doubt that we would love our adopted baby just as much as Emily.  

The reality is, we are ALL adopted by God, or at least have the opportunity to be adopted by God.  Galatians 4:4-5 says, “ But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under that law, that we might receive adoption to sonship”.   God walked with us in some amazing ways through our adoption of Abby because He reminded us that we are all adopted by Him and that was the whole purpose of sending His son, Jesus.  

God welcomes all of us who believe in Him to become his adopted sons and daughters.  There are no limits when He adopts us. He doesn’t require an adoption application and if He did, it wouldn’t matter which boxes we checked and which ones we didn’t.  He already knows all there is to know about each of us and He accepts us right where we are.  His love is unconditional.  He loves ALL and wants ALL to come to know Him and become part of His family.  His love is vast and beyond anything we can fully comprehend as humans.  He loves us fully and equally.  

Eight, almost nine, years later I can tell you with certainty that we love our Abby just as much as Emily.  She is ours, no matter how she came to complete our family.  We can’t imagine life without her and firmly believe that she is the child God planned for us.  We don’t even think about her being adopted, unless we are talking about adoption (which I love to do!)  I like to think of Emily as the gift God gave us, and Abby as the treasure He lead us to.  

Abby sometimes doubts that she is loved as much as Emily because she knows she is adopted.  When she expresses her doubt, we do our very best to convince her with hugs and every “love word” we can think of.  Still, sometimes she isn’t quite convinced.  In those times we tell her she needs to make a choice to believe us, even though her inner voice still tries to make her think otherwise.  It’s that way sometimes with us too; we wonder how God could love us enough to adopt us.  But that’s the whole reason Jesus came- so He could welcome each one of us into His family, in spite of our imperfections. Sometimes, in the midst of doubt, we just need to step out in faith and believe.  And when we accept His love for us, He will always be there to welcome us as His sons and daughters.

Sherry Fischer-HeadShot.JPG

Sherry Fischer grew up and still lives in Northern Virginia.  She obtained her Bachelors Degree (James Madison University) and Masters Degree (Virginia Commonwealth University), both in Social Work.  Sherry worked in a hospital setting as a Medical Social Worker/Case Manager for 20 years.   Sherry married Karl when she was 38 and is now a full time stay at home mom to Emily (12) and Abby (9).  When the girls were preschoolers, Sherry was an active participant and eventually served as a leader for Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS).  Once both girls were in school full time, Sherry joined the Passion4Moms team, where she is currently the Director of Hospitality and enjoys writing periodic blogs. For fun, Sherry enjoys making cherished memories with family and friends at Deep Creek Lake in Maryland.