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Friday, December 23, 2016

The Scary Truth of Becoming a Parent

My days blurred together when my first child was born, and the first month of her life was one of the single most difficult months of mine. It required coming to the end of myself in so many ways and in ways I had never experienced before. Those painful feedings throughout the night mixed with the desire to impress my husband with a spotless house, folded laundry, a home-cooked meal, and otherwise left me drained and exhausted. I lived under the false pretense that I could have it all together if everything was all together around me, but instead I suffered burn-out.

I truly wanted to bring joy and rest to my husband, my firstborn, and myself. Instead, my offering became a burden and my attitude became negative. Emotions swirled around me and my husband received the brunt as soon as he made it through the door. Every evening showed my ugly self in some form-the tears, the rants, the throwing myself on the couch, and I'll just leave you with those few details. It was a full on temper-tantrum. Life as I knew it had changed by bringing new life into the world and the change couldn't be described in any amount of words or emotions.

In full attempts to give my best, I gave my worst.

Oh friends, how I wish I would've taken the message so often repeated by loved ones for a season they remembered all too well. "Make sure you rest." Our greatest offering comes when we have allowed ourselves to rest. God himself rested on the seventh day for the greatest offering of all: creation. Yet, I failed to nap when the baby napped because of my running list meant to bring joy and rest.

Our second child later, and we've recently left the newborn phase again. What a difference it has made to carve out intentional time for resting! As soon as my toddler went down for a nap, I fed our baby and then settled in for a nap myself. Dishes piled high, toys spewed on the floor, and laundry sat in the closet. Those things would have to wait. When my husband returned from work, he either brought dinner home or made dinner for us. Afterward, he washed the dishes with our oldest while I fed the baby, and never once with complaint.  I have tears in my eyes as I unfold the beauty of a man who cares for his wife, who loves her without conditions, and who rises to the occasion to offer rest to the one he is one with, the one his soul loves, tenderly cared for as though he were caring for himself (Eph 5: 25-30). Difficult moments occurred, of course, but we were much less stressed and able to enjoy the first month with our sweet second, all because of a little rest and a few tasks left untouched. 

So how do we bring joy and rest to others? First, we recognize the joy in our own lives and we give ourselves time to rest. After that, we ask ourselves how we might bless a friend, a coworker, or a stranger, and we do the thing that brings them the joy and rest that we all need. 

Before you take on the next task in your day, here are some verses to remind you that it's okay to rest. In fact, if you are feeling a bit burned out, I recommend that you forfeit from trying to bring joy and rest to others and carve out a little time to rest yourself. God rested. Jesus offered rest. This rest is critical in every season, especially the ones that bring you to the end of yourself. And now, the scripture as promised on my Facebook video yesterday:

Genesis 2:2-3: God rested on the seventh day and sanctified the day of rest.

Genesis 8:9: A beautiful illustration of Noah offering rest and a safe place for the dove just as Jesus offers us.

Ruth 1:9: Naomi prayerfully offering rest for her daughter-in-laws in their future homes.

Psalm 37:7: A reminder to rest in the Lord.

Isaiah 30:15: Rest is critical.

Matthew 11:28-30: Jesus offers us rest with him.

Luke 23:55-56: The women who prepared the spices for Jesus' body rested.

Revelation 4:8: A powerful image of heavenly beasts who never rest because they are continuously worshiping God. That's a hard one to even picture.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Slowing Down: Creating Art

What if I told you that the mundane tasks in your life were instead paintings in the making, every brushstroke on canvas creating a masterpiece? Would you attempt to slow your pace, giving each task your undivided attention, allowing the painting of your day to unfold beauty, to reach the deepest parts of your soul?

Washing a plate, a stroke of pink. 

Folding a towel, a stroke of blue. 

Walking the dog, a stroke of brown.

Changing a diaper, a stroke of purple. 

Cooking a meal, a stroke of yellow. 

Making the bed, a stroke of green. 

Instead of rushing from one agenda to another, fretting about what you want to do instead of what you NEED to do, could I beckon you to stop? Breathe. Slow your pace. Start again. Command the anxiety wreaking havoc to dissipate. Realize that you were created on purpose, with a purpose, and that the purpose will not prosper with truth until you rid yourself of the belief that the seemingly insignificant, daunting, repetitive, and small is not worth your time. Dear friend, it's worth your time. Slowing down to the things that require your attention from week to week are meant to be lived fully, are meant as displays of art in the center of God's eye. 

God sees you. He sees your painting emerging as you tidy your home. He hears the melody as you hush and hum your infant to sleep for the umpteenth time. He sees the dance of you working frantically to appease both boss and customer. He sees as you sob behind closed doors, later choosing to wipe the tears, continuing the painting, the song, and the dance that is your life.

How I wish I could open up a portal that would allow for you to see him seeing you, his eyes looking lovingly on you, his heart feeling with you, his ears readily listening for you, and his arms always holding you. Instead, I remind you of the intimate words written in Psalm 139 detailing a holy God who knows you on such a personal level, and that you, yes you, are fearfully and wonderfully created and so very precious to him. He's constantly thinking of you. 

So I challenge you to slow down today. Let your next task be an intentional brushstroke, refrain, and curtsy to the Creator of this universe. You were made for this next thing, even in its smallness. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Prepping for Christmas: A Great Gift for Children Under 5

Christmas decorations are coming out of storage today in preparation for the decorating we will do this evening. This year, there was one box I was most excited to pull the items from and my oldest has already helped me set it up. We bought a Fisher Price Nativity Set for her first Christmas instead of a barn set with animals. Below are two lists. One explains why I love this product and the other describes why my daughter may love this product as well. She's played with it for hours since we set it up, so I think that's a sign that it was a great purchase!

Why do I love this product so much? Here is my list:

1. In keeping with the true meaning of Christmas, having a nativity set somewhere in the house to serve as a reminder is better than the stockings, bells, and mistletoe. 

2. We didn't have a nativity set when we bought this for our daughter last Christmas, but if we did, it likely would have been a "look but don't touch" situation as most are breakable when dropped. 

3. A typical nativity set, while beautiful to display, doesn't offer a hands-on approach. Children under five are all about activities that involve their fine motor skills. Every item is new and exciting, exploration and learning top priorities! 

4. I don't want my child to grow up hearing "there's Jesus," but don't touch him. No. I want my children to understand that there is a place for them involving Jesus, and that he knows them by name and could identify them and their need among those crowded around him like we read in Luke 8. Playing with the nativity set while hearing mommy explain the BEST and TRUE Christmas story might be that touching-the-hem-of-his-garment moment in her life as a little one. 

5. Bonus: If you have more than one kid or plan to have more than one kid, this nativity set will get more than just five years of use! Our second child will enjoy it with her sister come next year.

Why does my daughter love this product so much? If she could form the words, she might say: 

1. Mommy gave me something "new" to play with today. How exciting!

2. The toy comes with a few animals, and I love to emulate the sounds they make. I even made up my own sound for the camel.

3. There's a  button at the top that plays "Away In A Manger" every time I push it, and the star lights up.

4. A song I know how to sing is "Twinkle, Twinkle," and I sing that to mommy when the star lights up.

5. Mommy put the nativity set on its own shelf  in the living room, and I am allowed to grab the nativity set and play with it wherever I would like and then set it back up when I'm finished. I'm such a big kid!

Note: You can purchase this product by clicking on the Amazon link above or by clicking on the picture in this post. Both will take you to the same place. If you make a purchase using my link, I will make a bit of money, but the main purpose of this post is to recommend a product that you and your children will love for years to come. I know we will.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Miracle Baby: A Testimony Concerning Endometriosis

Four years ago, my husband and I started trying to have a baby. He has three children from a previous marriage that I love like my very own, but I wanted a child. I wanted to create a little life and be a part of every aspect of raising him or her. After the first year of trying, we sought medical advice. In 2013, we received the opinion of several doctors that all told me the same thing, my endometriosis prevented me from getting pregnant, and adoption was my only option.  I was crushed. Several years of severe pain and unhelpful treatment and medication were keeping me from the baby I longed for. My emotions having the best of me, I turned away from my faith, continually questioning why this was happening to me.

In November of 2015, my Dad invited me back to church. I was hesitant to go; it had been so long since I was in church and my relationship with Jesus was not where it needed to be. Taking a step of faith, I decided to go back to church. About two weeks later, I came to a Sunday evening service and rededicated my life to Jesus. I knew it was the best decision and that if anyone could take away my pain, Jesus could! After that, I started to pray for my husband’s salvation every single day. In the spring of 2016, my husband started attending church with me and gave his life to Jesus. Prayer does amazing things! During this time, I was beginning to heal emotionally from being told I’d never have children of my own, but still struggled. One day, I decided that I was going to leave it to God. If it was His will that I get pregnant then I would and if not, then He had greater plans for me.  My Pastor’s wife shared a scripture with me: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4. That scripture stayed with me, and I decided from that moment on that I would delight in Him.

In June of 2016, my cousin in Baltimore, who happens to be a youth minister, sent me a book called Supernatural Childbirth. The title sounded a little crazy at first. I waited about a week and then picked it up one evening and started reading. The book was a woman’s testimony on how she started speaking the word of God into her life and became pregnant after years of infertility. I had already tried the treatments and medications and they failed. Why not give the Word of God a chance? It was either going to help me or I’d still be infertile.

Every evening for about two weeks I studied my Bible. I picked out every scripture related to children, fertility, and God’s promises and wrote them down in my notebook. I spoke those scriptures over my life. I’d wake up and say to myself, “I am a child of God, His promises belong to me! My body will come into subjection with the Word of God and I will be healed in Jesus’ name!” In the evenings, my husband would speak a blessing over me and claim the promises in our lives.

When I went back to see my Endocrinologist, he did an ultrasound to check the progression of my endometriosis. He looked at me very confused and said, “It’s gone. I can’t explain it, but all your scar tissue is just not there anymore. I need to consult with a few colleagues of mine and I’ll get back to you on how to handle this.” I knew. I knew that I had been made whole. I knew right then that Jesus answered my prayers and healed me from the disease that I had suffered with for so long! I told the doctor it was because I was healed through prayer and claimed my healing through Jesus and he looked at me as if I were crazy, but I didn’t care, because nothing or no one could take away my joy. 

I shared my healing with my church family the next Sunday. I couldn’t wait to tell them since they had prayed for me and agreed that I would be completely healed. The pain was gone, the symptoms were gone, and my faith and relationship with Jesus grew so much stronger than it had ever been.

A week after being told my endometriosis was gone, I decided to take a pregnancy test. I despised taking these tests. It was always the same negative result and I got so tired of being disappointed. This time felt different, and I prayed before taking the test. Finishing, I put the test on my bathroom sink and walked away to prepare for the day. Almost forgetting about the test, I went back to the sink. I picked up the pregnancy test saw two dark lines, and I immediately began crying. I kneeled, thanking Jesus for giving me the desire of my heart. I finally got my blessing and I knew I never could have gotten where I was without Jesus. Treatment couldn’t heal me. Medication couldn’t heal me. Only the blood of Jesus Christ could heal me and set me free from my inability to bear a child. I was in shock for several days, but when I went to my first doctor’s appointment and saw my tiny baby on an ultrasound for the first time, it became so real.

Children truly are a gift from above. I am forever thanking God for my miracle baby. 

Whitney Stroop 
A stay at home wife and mom, Whitney is expecting a baby boy in a few months. Reading and bible journaling are a few of her favorite pastimes. Her favorite verse is the same scripture that her pastor's wife shared with her: "Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart" Psalm 37:4. Delight she has, placing her relationship with Jesus first and foremost followed by family and church family. Whitney felt led to share her testimony in hopes to reach other women who may be struggling with infertility.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Rivers Of Living Water

Today as I walked over the bridge where I take my morning walk, I glanced over the edge. The beautiful, early sunlight was dancing on the rippling waters. It took my breath away!

But almost immediately my eye was distracted by this clump of sticks, branches and dead leaves just beyond it. I noticed that the water on the other side of this debris was quite still.

 Well that isn’t pretty I thought! Why doesn’t someone clean those out? Immediately the Spirit started prodding me about His water, His beautiful living water! What might that look like in a heart? What might that look like in my heart? 

In John 7:37,38 Jesus stood and cried out,” If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ He was speaking of the Spirit whom those who believed in Him, were to receive. 
In John 4 Jesus spoke again, this time to the woman at the well telling her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

Dear ones I want that beautiful dancing water in my heart, not the still water that no longer seems to have life in it because of the debris clogging it up. It is ours for the taking through Jesus! 

So I must ask myself, what water have I been drinking from? Am I looking for joy and life and peace in something other than Jesus? If I am trying to quiet my heart, satisfy my longing or fill myself with joy from any other source then I will find myself thirsty again and again. In fact, the more I partake of these other sources for my hearts longings the more insatiable my thirst will become. 

However, if I take my longings to Jesus, I will NEVER thirst again. In fact, the waters He gives me will become a well springing up to Eternal life! This never-ending source is something I can then share with others, again and again, never to run dry!

About Tara Dickson
I am Mama to four amazing children and Nana to one little girl that lights up my life! We said goodbye to my sweet husband this past February after a 1 year battle with brain cancer. We left family, friends and our farm of 25 years to move to Tennessee when the Lord called us. I believe in writing transparently because there isn’t time for anything else. Every day is a gift and as a family we are experiencing what it means to be “ Bruised But Not Broken”. I share freely of our lives and what God is teaching us but it always comes back to His word because it is the only thing that brings life. Our journeys may be different but we all need reminded that we have a hope that is an anchor for our soul. Our hope is Jesus and He is the same yesterday, today and forever, for you and for me.

   Find Tara at the links below: 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Sucking The Life Out Of You

Our first and only child is 18 months old, and for 27 months now, I have been a mother. There are no words, experiences, or amount of pre-anything counseling that could have prepared me, or anyone I suppose, for the realness and emotional rollercoaster that is motherhood. I remember the nervous excitement and anxious anticipation the day I saw a positive reading on the pregnancy test after months and months, maybe even years, of trying. I remember the butterflies in my stomach the first time we heard her heartbeat, a heartbeat that spilled awe from my soul, surging joy through my body until it seeped out of me through a smile and tears. I remember the excruciating ineffable pain of totally natural birth and staring hazily at the lights on the hospital ceiling, still very much in a postpartum state of numb mindlessness as a 7 pound 5 ounce baby girl was laid on my chest for the first time.
I remember a smile I had never seen before creep onto my husband’s glowing face as he held our daughter for the first time. I remember sensing the grand wonder and capability of life—realizing that this baby girl’s coming to be had caused us all to “come to be.” We became more, fulfilled more than we could ever have without her. This child changed who we were—changed me. She even gave us all new names: wife became “mother,” husband became “father”…
The first time she smiled in recognition that I was her mother, the first time she said my name, the first time she walked—all these moments are more precious to me than any physical thing I could present to you. Those short moments brought more joy than any other had in all my 26 years of life.
I remember the bankrupt sense of utter failure and helplessness as my child cried from hunger. I remember trying to feed her from my own body, my own body that was sore with pain and chaffing. Feeding her will bring her life. She needs life; she is hungry. But the pain—the tender, throbbing, torturous pain. I remember crying from the pain, wincing from the pain as I tore my daughter away from myself. She screamed. I screamed. We cried together.
I remember the bitter isolation, cold remote isolation that came short of a year after she was born. I was dying. Not physically, but in a very real way, I was dying. I used to do things. I used to go places. I used to have friends. I used to put on real clothes and read books and play music and discuss theology. And sleep. I used to sleep. But now, I was dying to myself and I felt alone. I remember feeling desolate, like I had no friends. I knew no one within 100 miles who was a new young mother, who had a new joy-bringing life-sucking baby, who was trying to learn to breastfeed or to care for another human being on an hour’s sleep. I was and am a stay-at-home mom, and those stay-at-home hours were long and hard, and in the beginning very lonely. I had so many people in my life who loved us and would ask about our baby girl. “How is she doing/eating/sleeping/adjusting? If there is anything I can do for you, do not hesitate to ask.” I love all those people and am amazed at their love for my child. So many asked what they could do, or how was my baby. But too few asked, “How are you?” Too few saw my baby, and never really saw me. How am I? Am I? I am not. I am dying to myself.
Jesus talked about dying to yourself. “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) We have to take up our cross: we have to die. The message of the gospel can be communicated in different ways, but simply put, Jesus came and died so that we might live. His death brought life.
For me, motherhood has been a process of learning to die to myself so that others might live, so that I might teach my daughter what Jesus’ selfless love really looks like and how it really does change the world and bring the kingdom come. It has been incredibly isolating at times, but I remember that Jesus felt isolated as he was dying. It has also brought me joy, and allowed me to become more like my Father.
Sure there are days I would love to sleep more or buy myself clothes for a change, days I wish I could go back to work full-time or just “go” without thinking twice about it. None of these things are bad. But through motherhood God is teaching me to die to my own wants and needs, and to esteem others as more important than myself. He is teaching me to be like Jesus for his glory’s sake.
Being a mother sucks the life out of you—figuratively in that you give everything you have, and literally if you breastfeed. But I say, let it suck the life out of you. Let it change who you are. Let it take your life until you die to yourself, and in dying to yourself are more conformed to the measure of Christ’s full stature, able to bring life to those around you, to your children, your husband, your family, everyone you encounter. Jesus taught us that death brings life. He died for God’s children and in doing so made them live. As mothers, let us die for our children to the glory of God the Father.

Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross! As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow– in heaven and on earth and under the earth –and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Paul to the Philippians (Philippians 2:3-11)

Courtney Bradley is a wife and mother, and somewhat of a theologian and philosopher. She is a graduate of Asbury University in Wilmore, KY where she studied Bible Theology and Philosophy. She married the love of her life and best friend, Patrick, in 2012 and they have one daughter, Claire (born 2015). She is a proud stay-at-home mom. She cares most about the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.

Monday, October 17, 2016

While We're Waiting

The wait is over! On October 11th at 4:09pm, we gave birth to a beautiful baby girl! Avalyn weighed 8 pounds and was 19 inches long. Though the majority thought we were having a boy, God had entirely different plans. I couldn't picture it any other way. Over the course of the next few months, I'll be taking a small break from writing to cherish these sweet moments that fly all to quickly. However, you will still see content in the form of guest posts and occasional posts by me. Until then, a picture of our sweet second. Cuteness overload.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Short & Sweet: When I Didn't Get the Family I Dreamed Of

My husband and I didn't marry until we were nearly 31. As soon as we were settled financially we began working on having a family. After several months of not conceiving we turned to adoption.

Infertility is extremely heartbreaking, but God graciously led us through it. Yes, we shed tears, but from the very beginning He prepared our hearts for this possibility.

Within the first few weeks of trying to conceive, I either read or heard three stories of women who had dealt with infertility. I thought, "God are you trying to tell me something?" As I listened to women share how difficult it was for them to handle the news of friends and family members who had become pregnant, I prayed, "Lord, don't let me be like that. Help me to rejoice with those who rejoice." And He did!

At that time we were involved in a small church of maybe 100 people, where seven other couples were also having difficulty conceiving. The Lord told me to pray these couples get pregnant. That way when they got pregnant, I would be excited for an answer to my prayers. You know what? Every one of those couples did eventually get pregnant. And I was able to truly rejoice with them.

We, however, never did get pregnant. The five children we raised were all adopted from eastern European orphanages. They came with overloaded baggage, irreparable foundations, and the inability to attach. The years we had them at home were filled with horrendous behaviors. Again, I had innumerable opportunities to commiserate about the family I never got. By the grace of God alone, I did not.

You see, in my late twenties I had grown angry at God when He didn't give me a man to love. I felt I could no long trust God with my deepest longings. As a result, I knew what it felt like to have a wall between God and me. Once that wall came down, I decided I never wanted another one.

It was a battle at times to not resent God's will for me as a mom. Usually, I just didn't let my mind go there. But one day I told my counselor, "I think I need to have a funeral for the children I never got." He encouraged me to do so. I never did—it was enough for me to just recognize the need.

If we are going to remain content in God's plan for our lives, there will be times we have to bury our dearest dreams and trust that some day we will witness a resurrection.

So here I sit today, my children are all grown with their own families. Much of their inability to attached has healed as they've had their own children. Some of my children are rock solid in the Lord. Another just bought his own home. Most of them are moving forward in life beautifully.

Contentment is the only way to parent at our best. When we parent out of fear, envy, guilt, or a sense of failure or inadequacy, we (unintentionally) sew discord in our children's hearts. But when we parent out of contentment, we sew peace and joy and confidence. We have to choose—every day—to be grateful for what God has given us and to trust that His plans are perfect.

How did I stay content when I didn't get the family I dreamed of? Well, I wasn't always successful, that's for sure. But as I sought God's heart on a regular basis, He helped me to …
  • refuse bitterness
  • surrender my dreams
  • pray for others to get what I didn't have
  • thank Him when they did
  • and trust Him no matter what

Cheri Johnson calls herself a SAFE mom: Step/Adoptive/Foster/or Every other kind of mom to non biological children. She's a mother to five children all adopted from Russia in 1997 and 2000. Many days she wanted to run away. She felt alone, misunderstood, and beaten down. Yet, God took the painful, confusing, and scary times and turned them into wholeness, beauty, and treasures. She now shares her pearls—gems grown from the grit of parenting—on her blog ( and Facebook page (
In addition to her five children, she's also married to her loving husband, Bob, who shares with her the joys of ten (and counting) grandchildren. They live in St. Paul, MN. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Short & Sweet: An Invitation to Hurt is an Invitation to Trust

There was no way we could hide it from him.
We’d brought a baby home with every intention of adopting him, but the entire process was being derailed. Our seven-year-old was with us from the moment the plan began to unravel, and I knew I couldn’t hide it. He was watching and asking valid questions. “Will we get to keep the baby? Will you be sad if we don’t? Will we get another baby if we have to give this one back?”
Those questions sent splintering cracks through my already fragile heart. On the one hand I was trying to love and bond with a baby I may lose; on the other hand I had a son who was trying to find security in the shakiest of situations. I wanted to shield him from all that was falling apart.
I’m the adult, I told a friend one day. I can take the blow of loss, but I’m worried about what this will do to my son. If we lose the baby, I can’t pretend like it never happened. Court dates, phone calls—I can’t shield him from everything.
In the middle of my panicked tears, my friend spoke these wise words to me: Invite him into your pain. He will learn to trust the Lord in crisis by watching you do it.”
There’s a lot that’s foggy about the seven months we lived in uncertain territory. But those words stand strong and clear in my mind. I took them in, wringing out the reality that could appear side-by-side with the chronic ambiguity we found ourselves living in. I could talk with my son honestly, and I could cry in front of him. I could also take this painful experience and point him to Jesus as our Hope and Comforter. Instead of whispering or pretending our faces weren’t strained by concern and fear, we talked openly about how God would take care of both us and the baby if our lives threaded out in different directions.
Yes, it would hurt.
Yes, we would be sad.
But oh yes, God would be with us in our sadness and would one day heal our hurt.
I don’t know if we handled it all right. As a mom I question pretty much everything about my parenting. But I can look back and see that my son was confident through the ups and downs of that unruly adoption process. And though his little heart is still learning about who God is and what it might mean to follow Him, he didn’t doubt that God would be with us in whatever way our story ended.

A few weeks ago, my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and while tears streaked my face for days at a time, my now-eight-year-old watches me with serious eyes as I once again invite both him and his baby brother into my pain. He’s not alarmed by my tears, and I hope that he is learning it’s okay to feel uncertain sometimes. It’s okay to feel sad and unsure--because underneath it all is the steady beat of hope in Christ and the unbroken faithfulness of God who is always with us.

Find Glenna Marshall by clicking on the links below.

Monday, October 3, 2016

While We're Waiting

It's baby week! Maybe. Hopefully. Our little one may arrive by the 6th, but we shall wait and see what he or she decides to do. Until then, some reads for you!

I Quit My Job to Become 'Just' a Mom by Jill Molloy

The Weary Work of Waiting by Glenna Marshall

How to Drink Your Gatorade by Leigh Sain

Friday, September 30, 2016

Short & Sweet: Forty Days

*This isn't a typical Short & Sweet post, but I hope it serves to encourage those in a waiting period.

Truth? Patience doesn't come easy for me. Reality. I'm forced to practice patience on the daily, and with every year, it seems to increase based on the happenings of life. This season of waiting for a baby to arrive after being pregnant for what feels like forever is difficult. The discomfort, the baby kicks, and the "how are you feeling" and "when are you due" questions make it near impossible to keep from being anxious. The doctor bringing up induction makes me wonder if this baby will take just as long to arrive as our first. The last month feels like a thousand months, and every extra day that follows feels a million years. Anyone with me?

When I came home from the doctor's office the other day, you can imagine my frustration hearing that I hadn't progressed since last week. We are so close, but not quite. Many others around me have been having their second and third babes a week early, and here I am hoping ours will just come on its due date. I was frustrated at the thought of waiting beyond the due date and frustrated that jealousy was attempting to creep into my thoughts, so as soon as my daughter went down for her nap, I opened my bible to read some scripture on patience.

Trivia time: How long was Noah and his family on the Ark?

I've heard this bible story ever since I was old enough to understand language, and the only number I ever associated with The Great Flood was forty. It rained for forty days and forty nights, and while illogical, surely they exited the ark as soon as it stopped raining, right? Um, no. It was more like a year, give or take a month or two.

What an incredible amount of patience Noah and his family had to endure!

A few things stick out to me:

  1. Noah and his family kept busy. Certainly anyone in their position would be anxious to race off the ark when surrounded by stinking animals, especially considering that several months were spent sitting in one place while they watched the water recede each day. Instead of lingering on when they'd leave the boat, they worked hard mucking stalls, feeding animals, and keeping seasick llamas healthy. No, the bible doesn't say what they did in those months, but I'd imagine this work had to be done. 
  2. A method was devised to test if the earth was dry. Near the end of their stay on the ark, Noah sent out birds every seven days, and in time, there were several occasions that offered hope to him and his family. 
  3. Even though all signs pointed toward the land being ready, they remained on the ark until instructed by God to leave. 
So, we wait. Each and every one of us, at one point or another, are given situations in which to practice patience. We wait for newborns to arrive, for new job offers, for test results, and for loans to be paid. In order to keep from growing anxious, we must prepare and keep busy. Preparing may look like washing baby clothes or updating a resume. Keeping busy may not even be related to what we wait for. It may look like helping a neighbor, cleaning the house, or training for a race. We may devise plans to reach what we patiently wait for, but ultimately, we must wait for God's instruction. 

Over the next several days, I plan to wait patiently and to keep busy and prepare for our new arrival whilst waiting on God's timing. I've also placed this verse on my fridge as a reminder until little Hughes makes his or her arrival: "He hath made every thing beautiful in his time..." Ecclesiastes 3:11a. 

Check out Genesis 8: 1-16 to read about about this patience story for yourself. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Short & Sweet: Pocket of Air

A phone call brings me back to the reality of life, the one I push into crevices to create a pocket of air for breathing. As long as there remains a pocket of air, all is safe, and I can allow the water to swirl around me unnoticed. I ignore the places that need most attention in order to enjoy the small portion of air I breath just in front of me. The pocket of air will cave, but for now it's comfortable, and searching for a surface will mean sputtering on water and may even mean drowning before I'm pulled lifelessly out of the depths to be awakened.

I can't give details on this phone call, not in written words at least, because I fear. I fear you'll read the words and stab at the only air available to me. I'll be forced to thrash in the undercurrent before finding light and an exit. So I remain in the pocket of air. I close my eyes and visualize simple. Nature. Flowers. Breathing. Slow. Calm. Redemption.

But the phone call stirs me, brings me back to reality, and reminds me to continue searching for the surface. One day I'll share with you, and you may wish to stab at the pocket of air, but I won't be there anymore. I'll be using all my strength to find air and to make sense of direction. Holding my breath, I'll attempt to tell you the story which will be seen differently from above water. Looking into the water, the direction for surfacing makes sense. You know exactly how you'd surface, but it's different when the water is actually surrounding you. One day I'll explain from my perspective, and maybe you'll attempt to understand, and though you may not agree in whole, maybe you'll agree in part, and a sliver of mutual understanding between us will be worth the experience. Offering grace to one another will be key, because every person is different, learning, and holds a unique story. One day I'll explain, and it'll hit home for the few who are or have been in the very same water, and that shared understanding will be life-giving.

Until then, I'll attempt to search for the surface though I'd much rather close my eyes and think of simple, like a child who squats down to smell flowers, oblivious to the hurt of this world. Until then, I must remain in the searching, and that's okay.

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