Category Archives: Encouragement

My God Understands

“O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” Psalm 139: 1-7

                            

If there is one thing I’m learning about motherhood, it is the lesson of finding joy in whatever state you are in. It is seeking to be joyful and cultivating patience as you embrace a state of dying to self. Motherhood is absolutely a gift and I wouldn’t trade my role in life for anything, but it is not always easy. There are those hard days, hard times. Today I’m writing about raw motherhood. You know those days. The days when all the books are pulled off the shelves, the food from the pantry is scattered all over the house, the children are in a constant state of whining, someone pooped in the tub, something stinks in the trashcan, and it isn’t even 10:00 AM yet!

The other day, I was having one of those days. I felt the weight of so much need. The laundry, the dishes, the dirty floors, the messes, were calling my name and I didn’t have the gumption or the pain tolerance (in my 8 month pregnant state) to bend over the hundreds of times that were required in order to clean everything up. On top of that, the little people seemed to be continually disobeying and getting into trouble, and were constantly clamoring with a chorus of:

“Mom, can I help you stir?”

“Mom, I wanted to crack that egg.”

“Mom, I wanna help you plant the plant.”

“Mommy, poo,” (Translates to diaper change.)

“Mommy, ice, ice, ICE!” (Translates to I want ice in my water NOW.)

“Mom, I need you to wipe me!”

“Mom, we wanna snack.”

“Mom, I don’t want my water in THAT cup!!!!”

“Mom, can you unbutton my pants!” Etc, etc, you get the idea…

The dear husband helps out when he’s home, but he has needs too (thankfully not as dramatic), but that day I just felt too needed, like I wasn’t adequate enough to fulfill all of the need. And all I wanted was 10 solid minutes of “me” time, vegging somewhere in a little corner with no interruptions! I felt overspent, so needed by everyone, tired, and there seemed to be no end in sight. Suddenly, something a dear friend had shared with me some time ago came to mind. She simply shared that Jesus knows, He understands, He can identify with you in this state of mothering young children because He realizes what it is like to feel so incredibly needed all day long. The thought was precious to me. Jesus knows, He understands what I’m feeling right now. He can relate.

Jesus knows the feeling of caring for needy people. (See the first three chapters of Mark and how much Jesus was called upon to help people.) He had throngs of people surrounding him, needing him all day long. He knows what it is like to be spent, poured out completely. He knows how you are dying to yourself numerous times throughout the day. He knows what it is like to lay down your life, to suffer countless aches and go through extreme pain, so that others might have life. (Truly pregnancy and labor is a picture of this.) He understands the unpraised sacrifices, the non accoladed duties, and the unthanked tasks you do every single day. In other words, He gets it, this stage you are in. This is one way we can identify with Him, we can relate to Him, by choosing to respond as He would have even in the most mundane, menial tasks of life. It can be done with joy through His power and it can be done for His glory. As Elisabeth Elliott said, “Anything, if offered to God can and will become your gateway to joy.”

To the overwhelmed mother: we can pour out our hearts to the Lord and take our complaint to Him because He understands. He was in all points tempted as we are. He can identify with you. You can take your burdens to Him. He can give you joy in the mundane, and peace where you are.

To the woman grieving the sudden tragic death of her child, He is the Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief. He knows the deep pain of your heart in a way no other person knows. He holds all of your tears in a bottle – Psalm 56:8. You can take your tears to Him. He understands your heartbreaking trial, this excruciatingly painful valley you are walking through.

To the woman longing for a baby, He knows your heart. He feels your pain. He feels your longing. And though it might not yet be His timing or His will to grant that desire in the way you are looking for (because we can’t always understand His ways or His plan) rest assured that He knows your heart’s cry. You can take your aching desire to Him.

“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!” Psalm 139:17

To the woman longing to be married, He knows the loneliness of your heart. He knows what it feels like to be completely alone. He can identify with you. He went through being separated from the Father on the cross for us, so that we would never have to be alone. He has promised, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”  You can take your loneliness to Him. He loves you and cares for you.

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

 

The Birth of Our Daughter

20160713_182447Nearly a whole year has passed since the birth of our sweet little girl. In honor of her upcoming birthday I’m finally sharing her birth story (raw details and all) here on the blog. What a difference a year can make! We are incredibly thankful to God for having entrusted us with this bright-headed little lady! Our year together has been a real gift from Him. She brings us such joy!20160514_163939

This story begs for me to give the backdrop and it starts out with me feeling fearful. God used the birth of this child to relieve my fears and redeem my mentality towards the experience of birth. Around ten weeks pregnant I went into my appointment with the midwife kind of hoping they would discover that I had twins so that I could just sign up for a c-section and not have to go through labor again. I was super sick, overwhelmed, weak and discouraged at that point. Throughout my pregnancy I expressed a real fear of labor. The midwives at the birth center were so kind and took extra time with me reassuring me that it would most likely be better the second time, and they would completely support me if at the last minute I decided I wanted to go to the hospital and get an epidural.  

I didn’t know what to do. I so loved the midwives and greatly valued their time and support, but I just dreaded going through the painful valley of birth again. I couldn’t pinpoint where the fear exactly came from with my last experience. I didn’t have a horrible first birth. Most people said it was perfectly normal and good for a first time mom. Maybe it was driving to the birth center during transition, maybe it was pushing for 2+ hours, maybe it was the tears, or the excruciating stitches afterwards, maybe it was that I was exhausted for weeks afterwards, maybe it was because I came down with mono (which lasted for six months), maybe it was because I felt weakened by the whole experience, maybe it was the postpartum depression, or maybe it was the feelings of complete exhaustion (and yet still couldn’t sleep at night). Whatever it was, I couldn’t put my finger on the precise thing I dreaded, but the whole process and the aftermath had left a genuine fear on my heart.

The verse I’d chosen to claim for this labor was Isaiah 50:7 “For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” I would quote it again and again when fears would arise. Also, on Elisabeth Elliot’s radio program “Gateway to Joy” she was talking about how a mother cooperates with God to bring life into this world. I loved that word picture. “You’re the only one who can do this.” The Lord would tell me. “You’re the only one who can bring this very unique and special life I’ve created into this world. You can trust me to help you in giving birth to this baby.” How kind of my Savior to whisper these comforts to my heart. I thought on this over and over again as the time for birth drew nearer.

We decided to have this baby at home since leaving the house in labor was stressful last time. (It’s a good thing we made this decision too, or we would have had this baby in the car!) I’d also decided that I didn’t want to find out the gender, I needed that reward of a surprise at the end of labor;though I had a strong feeling this baby was a girl right from the beginning.

Anyway, this brings me to the point in our story where I was past my due date by five days. Since our son was born five days early I felt like I’d been pregnant for 10 months! In those final days I struggled between listening to my feelings and thanking the Lord for His perfect timing. I decided to focus on all the good in my life and thank God for everything I could. That exercise helped me keep my sanity and made me a sweeter person to be around!

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By now Hubs and I were trying every trick in the book to try to get this baby out! Spicy foods, red raspberry leaf tea, love making, evening primrose oil, long walks, stairs, pressing acupressure points, you name it we probably did it! I just decided to enjoy life and try to have fun each moment at a time until these contractions would actually turn into the real deal! And Hubs and I were having fun together. We tried to laugh a lot. And thankfully, my sister was here to help with our toddler when Hubs was at work and she really helped make the slow passing days easier.

On Friday, the 24th I awoke at 3:30 AM and started thinking maybe this was the big day! I ate some cheesecake and decided to send some emails. I called the midwife to give her a heads up when I couldn’t type through contractions, but still didn’t think the birth was anytime soon.

I woke hubs up around 4:00 and he sprang into action helping me clean up our room, finding my special hair clips, and filling up the birth pool we had rented. By now I was breathing heavily through the contractions and really trying to surrender to them and the pain. They were still about 5-6 minutes apart though. I kept thinking “stick your stomach out” and that would help me stay relaxed through the contractions.

Then I started feeling this strong nesting urge. I was like “our room is not clean enough to have a baby in” and I started scurrying around in between contractions trying to tidy things up a bit. I began diffusing my favorite oil “Gentle Baby”, my sister brought me some homemade “laborade” and then the ambiance was all set for some action and boy, was it coming!

Through the intense pain of the contractions, I kept hearing a sweet friend’s voice, Molly singing the song “The Potter Knows the Clay”. This brought such comfort to my heart.

I know you are going through the fire
Its getting hard to stand the heat
But even harder is the wondering
Is God’s hand still on me
Its lonely in the flames
When you’re counting days of pain

Chorus: But the Potter knows the clay
How much pressure it can take
How many times around the wheel
‘Til there’s submission to His will
He’s planned a beautiful design
But it’ll take some fire and time
Its gonna be okay
‘Cause the Potter knows the clay

Friend I just came through that fire
Not too very long ago
And looking back I can see why
And that my God was in control
But on the hottest days I’d cry
Oh Lord, isn’t it about time:  Chorus:

Around 5:20 AM, Hubs called Lisa, our midwife who lives an hour away. Right after he called her I started shaking uncontrollably and I knew we should have called for her sooner. Within a few more contractions I was feeling the urge to push. I kept asking, “Where’s Lisa? Why isn’t she here already? When is she going to get here?”  When Hubs responded with “in about 20 minutes” (and he was kind of fudging on that time) I was like “No, that’s too long! I need her NOW!”

Hubs brought a plate of scrambled eggs in to our room. The smell of those eggs were disgusting to me at that point, and I was so crabby that he had brought those near me, but by now the labor was intense enough that I didn’t have the wherewithal to ask him to get those eggs OUT. We were in the same room, but completely different worlds and I had lost the ability to communicate. All I knew was I was super crabby about that grossly intense egg smell. (You kind of have a right to be crabby when you’re in the middle of pushing a 8.5lb person out of a hole normally the size of a Cheerio! E.g. the cervix.) Just sayin’! 🙂

Hubs was my “calm and steady” through the fast-paced intensity of this birth drama. He was there praying over me, telling me words of scripture and affirmations, assuring me that I could do this. He would rub my back when I wanted and then quickly stop when I’d cry out “don’t touch me.” He was incredibly confident too, fully prepared to deliver this baby. I kept saying, “No you can’t deliver this baby. I need Lisa and I need her NOW!”

When Lisa walked in at 6:14 AM (precisely 14 minutes before our daughter made her debut into this world) I cried out, “Lisa, I need you!!!” I was in absolute agony at this point, but it was short lived. “I know, honey. I’m here to help. I sped the whole way here and I’m ready to help you.” She replied. Her presence brought comfort, and as soon as she arrived I felt the liberty to really bear down and push!

The next instant I felt like I was about to throw up the cheesecake I’d eaten not too long ago. (Oh, why did I do that?) “I’m going to throw up!” I called, and Lisa grabbed a large bowl, sprinkled some peppermint oil in the bottom and set it in front of me. The pungent smell of mint helped me fight the urge to get sick.

Five minutes before our baby emerged, I looked up and saw a woman walk in with towel dried hair. I saw her and her crazy hair and in all the intensity of labor I thought, “who is that crazy lady and why is she here?!” I wanted her to ask her to leave, but I had no ability to form a sentence in that moment. I just told myself, “Stop, worrying about everything else and just get this baby out!!!!!”  The “lady with the crazy hair” was the nurse from the birth center whom I just hadn’t met before. She had left her house with her hair wet in her hurry to make it to our fast-moving birth. For the record, nurse Peggy is a beautiful person and a dear soul. I was just very disillusioned in those final moments of labor. Sweet Peggy was so helpful to me after our daughter was born, and I’m very thankful she made it in time to see my baby into this world.

Things were happening so fast. Now down to a couple of minutes before, I began to scream, “I can’t do it, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t! It HURTS, IT HURTS, IT HURTS, I CAN’T DO IT!!!!”  Lisa calmly and firmly said, “you’re doing it.” To which I just answered with a deep, heavy moan. I had no other choice than to “bite the bullet” and just do it. Then my water broke. The warm liquid puddled on our bed and around my knees. (I’d never left the all fours position.) Next baby’s head popped out. Then I got a Charlie Horse in my right calf. “My leg, my leg, somebody rub my leg!!!!!” I screamed! I didn’t have time to think that I was going to die like I did with my firstborn, but I did feel completely tortured at this point.

The next thing I knew my baby was out!!! It was 6:28 AM. I took a second of moaning in pain, before I looked down and between my knees was the most beautiful baby girl!  She was so pink and chubby, a beautiful redhead child! It all happened so fast. “We have a ginger!” Lisa exclaimed joyfully! Where did this child come from? I wondered. She looked nothing like I’d ever imagined, and was a ton cuter than anything I could imagine. I leaned down and began to kiss her wet head. “Mommy loves you, baby, mommy loves you. I know, it was so hard for mommy too. I know, darling.” And we both cried together. “I like her, I love her! She was worth everything! You were worth everything. Mom’s gonna have to get lots of fun girl clothes.” I cooed on excitedly. 🙂

Daddy said when he saw her little face pop out, he instantly knew she was a girl. Her face was just so feminine. (He had run around to see her head when it popped out.)DSC_0704

I can’t describe the joy of holding our chubby little ginger-haired baby girl! I just thanked God over and over for sending her to our family. I felt guilty for how I had complained during her pregnancy. Suddenly all the nausea, the horrible hip pain, the sleepless nights, the dozens and dozens of stretch marks, the back pain, the pain of labor, it all seemed as nothing. “I can’t believe she’s ours. I love her so much.” I said over and over. For the next couple of weeks, I sort of lived on this joyous high of overwhelming gratitude for this baby girl!

One of my goals with this labor was not to tear and so in the weeks leading to labor, I started using Frankincense oil which helps your skin with elasticity and stretch-ability. 003Then once I knew this was the real thing, I had hubs put it on heavily again. We were such a team working together for this birth. It was wonderful! And oh, was it a better experience for sure. I survived with only one small tear, and that was only because she had the princess wave thing going as she made her way through the birth canal (her little hand was raised high.) Funny thing is that during that last month of pregnancy I kept saying “It feels like she’s digging her fingernails into my cervix.” I kept feeling these sharp claws causing sudden pains. Now I think it was actually her scratching me with that little hand she had up by her face. Lisa said that if her hand had not been up, Hubs would have delivered her for sure. That little hand slowed us down just enough, and because I was waiting to push until Lisa arrived, it gave me time to stretch. The Lord worked out the timing of everything.

My baby was face down and that helped so much! I largely credit that to the chiropractic adjustments during the last trimester. My pelvis was in near perfect alignment before she was born and so she had the space to move into the correct position. Thank you, Dr. Katie Shay! <3

Lisa left almost an hour after our baby girl’s birth. We told her we were trying to give her the biggest bang for her buck. We wanted to give her a good deal by making it speedy. Just kidding! We never even used the birth pool we had rented. It wasn’t full at the time I wanted to get in.Maybe for the next baby. Below are some pictures of Lisa and baby.         

Sweet Peggy stayed with us for several more hours to make sure we were all thriving. She washed our bedding, helped with nursing, and looked after all the little things. We both laughed when I told her my silly first impression of her while I was in the most intense part of labor. 

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Baby Dear weighed 8lbs, 8oz and was 21 inches long.

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Our son was calmly eating his breakfast through all the noise of labor. Mom screaming didn’t phase him one bit. His auntie was amazed at how chill he was. 🙂 She brought him into our room to meet his little sister almost as soon as she was born and then my sister blessed us by taking these pictures for us.DSC_0731 Big brother didn’t show too much interest in the baby, but he wanted mommy to hold him, so I held my bigger baby, my precious firstborn while daddy held our little daughter close to his chest to keep her warm. <3 She even tried to nurse off daddy. 🙂  

 

As our little family sat on the front porch that evening, DSC_0861the neighbors walking by couldn’t believe I’d had a baby that day, and they were ultra shocked when we said “Yes, we had her right there in our bedroom.” “On purpose?!?” was the common response. “Yep, on purpose.” 🙂

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We gave our daughter a name meaning “Beloved Grace” and she is a testimony of God’s precious grace in our lives. We cherish the time He has entrusted her to our care and we pray that God will use her in a mighty way so she can show others His beloved, precious grace to mankind. We love her so much!      DSC_0819DSC_0900

006 (1)     007Our happy little family of four!

Lessons from Lovely Linda

It was around Christmas time, when life was all in a hustle and a bustle, and I ran into my friend, Lovely Linda in the cheese section at Wal-Mart. This woman is such a joy-filled, radiant, beautiful Christian and just visiting with her for 5 minutes that day filled my cup. For as long as I can remember, I’ve called her Lovely Linda, and we go way, way back. She actually made my birthday cake when I was 4 years old.:-) Shortly after hubs and I got married, we had Lovely Linda and her dear husband over and they gave us such great advice for a newly married couple, and completely refreshed our souls.

After the brief encounter at Wal-Mart, I felt the Lord say, “You need to share her. She could be a real blessing to some of your friends.” So I said, “Okay, Lord who should I share her with?” and He put some ladies on my heart. The Bible says that the older women are to teach the younger to love their husbands and when we love and reverence our husbands, we are loving Christ. With this in mind, I wanted dear Linda to come teach on something she does very well and that is loving her husband. When I called her to see if she could come, her response was she needed to check with her husband to see if he was working that day, “Because I don’t like to be away from home on his day off.” I thought “And that is exactly why I want you to come share on being a good wife!” Case in point. Thus my little lunch party with Lovely Linda as the guest of honor came about. As she shared her wisdom on being a godly wife, I was busy scribbling down notes so that I wouldn’t forget anything (so that I could share with my sisters, and you, my dear readers). Here are some of the points of wisdom she shared. It is not completely verbatim, but you’ll get the gist of her advice.

 -As a wife we need to really look for the good that God has done in our lives. God inhabits the praises of His people so we should be praising Him all day, if we want Him to be near us (Psalm 22:3).

-Everyone is different, that is why we have to accept our husbands just the way they are and just choose to love them. Choose to accept your husband just the way he is. Each of you is different. Don’t try to change each other. Two halves make a whole and you need those differences. You will be “heavenly sandpaper” to each other whether you like it or not. Marriage will show you how selfish you are.

-Remember what the Lord has done and rehearse it verbally. Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb 13:8). He is still the same God today.

-Think back to why you fell in love and what attracted you to that man.

-Be discreet and don’t be too detailed. Your husband needs to know that he can trust you. Even with best friends be very careful what you tell them.

-Let God change your husband. You just pray, pray, pray and then pretty soon you probably won’t care anymore (“I love that part” she said). You can’t change him ever, and if you could, you wouldn’t like what you’ve changed. Our job as women is to just accept them the way they are and to pray. In times of praying and waiting for God to work, many tears were shed while in prayer. God keeps a bottle up in heaven of those tears.

-Ask the Lord for joy to greet your husband every time he comes home, for joy to serve him and for your home to be filled with joy. When he gets home, look into his eyes with joy and listen to him.

-There might be a time when your husband is very lonely. Try to be in his world enough so that he never feels alone.

-If bad thoughts come to your mind, take it straight to the cross and say, “Jesus died for that for me, so I don’t have to be in bondage to that thought or sin.”

-If you feel angry with your husband say “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”. Call unto Him and take it to the Lord in prayer. You will find it melts away when you pray.

-If ever your husband asks you to do a job and you think, “I just can’t do that for him”, then do it for Jesus.

-As wives, we control the atmosphere of the home. It is up to us to keep things light. Don’t make mountains out of molehills. Many a husband could be won just by the wife keeping things light. You may think you don’t have a sense of humor, but try to make your husband laugh. Ask God to help you and give you ideas.

-Maybe you’ve studied a little more of the bible or think you know more than your husband. That is dangerous. Self-righteousness is dangerous, very dangerous. He is where he is supposed to be spiritually. He is the head. Let the Lord teach him and not you.

-If you’re feeling overwhelmed as a wife and a mother, take a gratitude walk around the block. Look around at God’s creation and find everything you can to be thankful for and verbally thank the Lord. Be grateful for everything, all the time you do have with people, and focus on all that the Lord has given you, instead of what you don’t have and still want or think you’re not getting.

-Put on the whole armor of God every day. Jesus can’t put it on for us, we have to intentionally put it on every morning. Pray at night before you go to bed, just talk to Jesus. He is our best friend. Put up that shield of faith.

-Every morning ask the Lord to have His way where you sit, stand, how you react, and in conversation.

-You can have everything, but that is not enough. You must get your satisfaction from Jesus.

-If you love your husband with all of your heart, the way the Lord wants you to love, then you cannot believe how much he will love you.

-You grow in the Lord by praying for other people! We are powerful, we are warriors, we are in a battle and we have to bind the enemy. Lift up your husband and other people to the Lord. These days are evil, but Jesus is depending on us to pray. Praying is the best thing you could ever do. When you are Spirit-filled and praying, the enemy and his demons flee! We have power when we pray! The Lord will change hearts and circumstances when we pray. We have a tremendous responsibility to pray!

Thank you Lovely Linda for all of this wisdom!

Greetings!

Good-day Mates,

Greetings from the UK!  Just wanted to give you a brief update and share some pictures while I have a few moments.  Hopefully, I can send out semi-regular updates via this blog. 

We are getting settled here in a quaint little town in the county of Surrey.  It is a lovely area and there are many little shopping centers right near us to visit.  On the weekends, they have a large farmer’s market that is right around the corner from where we are staying.  There are so many mothers out with their babies.  Child care is outrageously expensive, so most mothers stay home with their children until they are school aged.  I feel like every time we go out, we see at least a dozen mums and babies.  They are everywhere and that is reassuring to me.           20160303_083509 DSC_0868

Husband has been enjoying his work assignment here.  Apparently, they have what they call a 20/20 office set up, which involves everyone sitting together at a table so that they can share ideas easier.  Being a natural people person himself, hubs has fit right in and really enjoys additional opportunities for communication with this new set-up.  DSC_0660

The Lord has orchestrate some special little things for us just in the short time we’ve been here.  Last Saturday, we toured a church building built in 1280 (the history here is astounding) and just as we arrived, a group of bell ringers were finishing up their practice of ringing bell calls and appeals.  They invited us to go up in the bell tower to watch them ring the bells, which was something I’ve always wanted to do!  Needless to say, I was quite excited about that opportunity.  The narrow steps that we had to climb to reach the bell tower were built in 1530 and are still going strong!

Later that day, we walked through Chartwell, which is Winston Churchill’s country home.  That evening we learned that the very day we toured his home was the exact day of the 70th anniversary of Churchill’s iron curtain speech that he delivered in Fulton, MO.  Wish we would have known that earlier so we could have had something to tell the tour guides.  😉

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On Sunday we drove 45 minutes to visit this sweet little church, Emmanuel Baptist. The fellowship is small, about 30-40 people, but they told us that there are only 4 other similar churches in the UK and they are the largest fellowship.  The Lord gave is a sweet confirmation that day. This little church we visited currently has no children in it right now, but they told us they did have a family from the states, with seven children attending there for the past two years. This particular family just left because the father, who works with Microsoft, got called back to Seattle.  Well, it was in the morning that they shared this information with us.  Later in the afternoon, my parents shared that morning they had a guest pastor from Seattle, WA speaking at their church in Springfield, MO. This pastor used to work high up in Microsoft before God called him into the ministry.  He told my parents that their dear friends just returned from spending two years in London and that they went to this little church in the UK called Emmanuel Baptist!  How divine is that?  Only the Lord could have orchestrated that connection, especially on the same day too!

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The people at this little church were delighted to have children back in attendance, some thing they had been praying for. 🙂  We enjoyed sweet fellowship all the way across the pond with our British brothers and sisters, and the teaching was a blessing as well.  Also, I thought it was special that they use the very same hymnals that I grew up using.

We do miss you all and send our love to everyone!  We are so thankful for all of your love and prayers!

Lovingly,

Elizabeth

 

2016 – the Year of Praise

Happy 2016, a little late from the writer of this neglected blog.  One of my goals is to blog at least once a month in 2016.  I can’t aim too high in the blogging world over here, based on my track record!  🙂   Hopefully, soon I will be sharing my birth story (probably 6+ months after the fact!), some more recipes, and some things the Lord has been teaching me.  untitledhi3So last month while reading through the book of Revelation, I started noticing all the verses that are direct praises to the Lord God Almighty.  The Lord put on my heart to have this new year be the year of praise to Him.  This has become my theme for 2016 – the year of praise!

As a conformation to that, a few days into the new year, the Lord gave me these verses in my quiet time: “Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.  Let the high praises of God be in their (your) mouth, and a two-edged sword in their (your) hand;”  Psalm 149:6

We, as believers should be verbally singing the praises of the Lord all day long.  The two-edge sword is representative of the Bible, so with the Bible in our hand (which means we are reading it) we are to be joyful in the Lord with the exalted praises of God continually on our lips!  Psalm 22 says that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people, so if we want our God to be near to us, we need to be praising Him all throughout the day.  If we are going to spend all of eternity praising our God, then why don’t we start practicing for heaven here on this earth?  Why should we spend so much of this short, short life here on earth murmuring and complaining when God has redeemed us through the precious blood of His own Son?  Why not start the habit now of singing the high praises of our God to our God, for He alone is worthy!

“I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  Psalm 34:1

For this new year, I’m reading through my Bible and searching for all the verses that bless and praise the Lord God.  I’m writing them down in a little notebook and keeping it handy so that I can start using them in my prayers to the Lord and in everyday speech.  Crying out these praises to God lifts my soul to heaven and my mind to the eternal!  It has already been such a powerful blessing!  We do control our thoughts, and we must work to keep them centered on the eternal, and on blessing the Lord!  This will spill out into blessing, and speaking blessings into the lives of those around us.  My toddler’s favorite phrase now is “praise the Lord”.  🙂  The littles do try to imitate us in so many ways.

There are so many, many verses praising and blessing the Lord once you start looking for them, but here are a few examples of what I’ve started praying to the Lord.  And this is only from the book of Revelation.  I’m excited to discover all the other verses!  

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:11

Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”  Revelation 5:13

“Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 7:12

“Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”  Revelation 15:3-4

“Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments:”  Revelation 19:1-2

I bless you, my reader in the name of the Lord!  May 2016 be a year of spiritual growth and praise to our God as we are given yet another year to discover His goodness!  

How to Deal With Scorning

Well, my baby is overdue and so I’ve got some extra time on my hands.  I decided to revisit my much neglected blog by writing a post that has been on my heart for many months now.  We’ve all had to deal with scorning in one way or another at some point in our lives, and let me just say, that none of the advice here is original.  I’ve been so blessed to learn these things from seeking wisdom and counsel from several godly older mentors on this subject throughout the years, and this post is just a culmination of their advice that I’ve desired to compile and share for quite some time.

First of all, what is the definition of a scorner or what does the term scorning mean?  According to Webster’s Dictionary scorning means:  to show that you think (someone or something) is not worthy of respect or approval: to feel or express scorn for (someone or something)

: to refuse or reject (someone or something that you do not think is worthy of respect or approval)

: harsh criticism that shows a lack of respect or approval for someone or something

Some antonyms of the word “scorn” are honor, respect, accept and approve.  A scorner is someone with a critical spirit and an excessively negative attitude.  No matter what you do or how hard you try this person will never be happy.  They refuse to look for the good and instead thrive on finding as many things wrong as they possibly can with people or situations.   Many times they don’t even realize they are scorning.  By focusing on all the little things that are wrong (which are always easy to find on this side of heaven) they miss the big picture and blessing of how the Lord is working in lives and situations.

Psalm 1:1 says:  “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

If you want to be blessed, do not sit in the seat of the scornful.  Don’t allow yourself to sit in that seat or stay there.  The habit of scorning can easily and quickly become a lasting pattern.  It is a dangerous place to sit in because Proverbs 3:34 says: “Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.”   Who would want God to scorn them?   The Bible has a lot to say about scorning.  Proverbs 22:10 goes on to say: “Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.”    And Proverbs 14:6 says: A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.”  If we want wisdom and knowledge, we need to be an understanding people and shun any scornful thoughts or words.

Saul, the first king of Israel, was a scorner.  He is very sharp contrast to Daniel, who the Bible says had an excellent (or a positive spirit) in him.  Which of these two people would you rather spend the day with?  Who are you?  Who am I?  Who are you striving to be like in your own life?  We have to be intentional about this because our human nature is to follow in the way of Saul.  We all have a little bit of Saul in our hearts.

So below is some of the wisdom that has been shared with me and has helped me so greatly:

  1. Make sure you have a thankful heart. The mark of the people in Romans 1 was ingratitude.  Make sure your heart is right with the Lord and continually praising Him so you don’t fall into the trap of scorning yourself.
  1. Put yourself around thankful people who will draw you closer to the Lord Jesus. If you are always around people who have critical spirits and think that they have it all figured out, it will dry you up.  Choose wisely who you will spend your time with. We must guard our hearts and our time against someone who is scornful because it will heavily drain us.  Someone can come and pour out negativity for an hour and after that hour, they are done and have moved on, but the things shared can affect you, your life and thoughts for days and weeks.  It also can have an effect on the people around you, not just one person.  You must stay guarded against this kind of negativity because it will hinder the work for Christ’s Kingdom.
  1. If you can’t lead the conversation in things of edification then you just have to stay guarded or move on.
  1. Don’t take the criticism personally. It is not you, a scorner would find fault with Jesus if He was walking among us.
  1. Ask the Lord for special grace to overlook transgressions. Proverbs 19:11 says: “…it is his glory to pass over a transgression.”
  1. If you have been offended by negativity or criticism, write down your thoughts and hurts so that you can put them out of your mind and stop mulling over them. Running them over in your mind is allowing the hurts to control you, so lay them aside by writing them down and if God opens up an opportunity later, you can share the offence, without rehearsing it your mind a hundred times until then.
  1. Pray for those who have hurt and scorned you. Ask God to bless them, pray for them, if they come to your mind, instead of thinking of all the ways you’ve been hurt, immediately start praying for them.  There is such power in prayer and it is so healing to pray for those who have caused you pain.   This will help guard you from turning around and criticizing or scorning the very person who is scorning you.  It is such an easy trap to fall into and the only thing it will accomplish is bitterness.
  1. Always strive to put yourself in other people’s shoes. You can still protect yourself, be guarded and do this.  Ask God for a heart of compassion for the person who is scorning.
  1. Remember how much you’ve been forgiven and extend that same forgiveness from Christ to the person who has offended you. If you stop that flow of forgiveness, you will become bitter.
  1. Hurting people hurt others. Realize that the person scorning you is probably hurting.  You can break the cycle by asking yourself, am I hurting?  Take your hurts to Jesus and lay them at His feet.  Do not retaliate hurts, but instead show love and mercy.

These tips have made such a difference in my life and have helped me overcome feelings of bitterness that were springing up in my soul.  I hope they can help someone else in some way.   We serve an mighty God who is willing to help change any heart who is hurting and in need of help.

 

Visiting Transnistria

One of the things we did was visit a pastor and his family in Transnistria, which is a region across the River Dniester of Moldova and just west of the Ukraine.  The Russians have taken over this region and made it an underground training base for their army.  Because we were foreigners, they would only allow us to stay for less than 24 hours.  We did not wish to find out what would happen if we overstayed our welcome!   As my hubby was unloading the van, a large group of Russian soldiers came marching down the little street.  The oppression of that area was strongly felt, but the Lord is still doing a vibrant work there.

DSC_0963A real Russian military tank guarding the entrance to their barracks.  We weren’t allowed to take any pictures of the boarder, and there were tanks there and Russian soldiers with machine guns with their dogs.  You did not want to make one wrong move!DSC_0891   DSC_0912On our way to visit the rehabilitation center that our brother started, we drove past Bender Fortress, a fortress that was built in the early 1400’s.   We also passed this man sitting outside his little shack, drinking a large bottle of vodka.  What a sorrowful sight.  The mayor of this region said that they entire village needs to be rehabilitated.

IMG_3872Here we are with the changed men at the rehabilitation center.  All of these men and the two woman were former drug addicts and alcoholics whose lives have been transformed by the power of Christ.  The only reform program they have here is to give them the gospel, the Bible and lots of work.  There is no other physiological counseling or anything of that nature.  They have daily Bible studies and receive guidance  and prayer from a local pastor who ministers there. The men work to raise all their own meat, have milk cows, and a huge garden.  They also have a ministry to the village people by providing them with the extra food that they raise.   IMG_3813     IMG_3811The men singing praises to God in Russian.  They all asked for prayer that they can be reunited with their families.

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DSC_0913                                                       The way the men workout.

IMG_3857  DSC_0947 The milk calf and meat rabbit.

It was exciting to see what God is doing in the hearts and lives of these men and women in that depressingly dark region.

DSC_0922This woman was addicted to drugs for 12 years and has been set free through the blood of Jesus.  She loves the Lord so very much and has such a huge heart for many other women who are addicted to substances and need to know the love and forgiveness of Christ.  She prays everyday for a way to minister and reach them.

” Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.   And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;”                                                                                                    ~2 Corinthians 5:17-18

Precious Memories

Below is a collection of pictures that bring back such precious memories from our time.


DSC_0992  DSC_0050Brent inside a small Moldovan kitchen.  The beautiful view outside.  Pictures don’t do it justice.

DSC_0989 DSC_0991                                                     Here is the way most people live.  Homes are very old and falling apart, but there is no money to make repairs.  Also, a picture of a wood stove that heats the home and is where they do all the cooking.

DSC_0028I matched the door of this little house that a sweet Christian couple is looking to buy.

IMG_4040IMG_3918 Brent sent greetings to these churches and briefly shared our story of how God worked to bring us together.  Brother Ghiorghi had prayed for a godly wife for Brent several years ago.

IMG_4067IMG_4061 Precious littles!  How can you not love this darling little face?

DSC_1043DSC_0874Delicious food!  The meal on the left is roasted lamb, cold chicken feet soup, pickled tomatoes, homemade feta, raspberry compote and cheese pies – all made on a wood stove with no running water in the house!  The meal on the right is beet slaw, fermented carrots, corn mush, brown bread, beet soup and fried meat patties.  Such complex and interesting flavors that we don’t have here in the US.  I loved that everything is non GMO and organic.  We felt so healthy over there, even with the cleanliness standards being very different.  Many people would all share the same cup and think nothing of it.  🙂  It was good for us to be stretched in that area.

Devoted Believers

 “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”  James 1:27

Pacea Domnului – May the peace of the Lord be with you!  This is the greeting the Christians greet one another with accompanied by a kiss on each cheek. Their sacrificial love for the brethren was so evident!  One of the things that impressed us about the church over in Romania, Moldova and Transnistria was just how practically their faith was lived out.  They care deeply for the fatherless and the widows and there is such a need for the church to minister to them as there are so many orphans and widows.  But another thing that really impressed us was they way these dear Christians keep themselves unspotted from the world and their devotion to holiness.

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This dear brother in the green coat is a Gideon who has smuggled Bibles into Siberia and many parts of Russia.

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This family had been very persecuted by the priest and people in their village and they were needing encouragement. They are trying to start a church in an area surrounded by three monasteries.

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This sister is a pastor’s wife and pregnant with their 3rd child. She is due just 2 weeks after me. I greatly admired her strength in living without so many basic necessities, including an indoor toilet!

DSC_0794I fell in love with this chunky little man!  He’s only 4 months old and already weighs 20 lbs!  They know how to grow them big in Moldova.  His parents are a sweet Christian couple.

IMG_4159Another dear pastor and his family.  Our missionary friend, Brother Ghiorghi affectionately calls this brother, “John the Baptist”.  He has a church in one village and is trying to start another in a village 5 miles away, but he doesn’t have a working car so he has to ride his bike over dirt roads to preach the gospel.  He and his wife were such joyful people!DSC_0783

The young man in the striped shirt accepted Christ while we were at his house!  He is 17 years old and has grown up in a Christian family and just been a good kid, but Brother Ghiorghi was telling him that God has no grandchildren and he needs to develop his own walk with Jesus Christ.  He told him that he can’t just keep riding on his parents faith and convictions, he needs to have the Holy Spirit and listen to His leading for his own life.  When Brother Ghiorghi finished sharing, this young man had tears in his eyes and said that he wanted to accept Christ and begin his own personal walk with Jesus.  We all knelt and prayed as he prayed to give his life to Jesus.  Many tears of joy were shed!  Praise the Lord!   After that glorious moment, Brother Ghiorghi exhorted him to start trusting God for a wife and to pray for her.  He urged him to pray instead of date, and to be a man of prayer, a man of the Word and a man of faith as he waits for God to work.  Such great advice!

DSC_0647Another precious pastor and his family of seven children.  Their youngest daughter, Sara had been praying all week for a soccer ball and we unknowingly brought them an Energia soccer ball that represents the story of the gospel through the colors.  She was delighted that God used us to answer her prayer, and we were so touched to be used as wellDSC_0632      DSC_0634

DSC_0631This is their oldest daughter, Valeria and her fiance Gregori.  They had a precious testimony of how the Lord worked to bring them together.  The church encourages the young people to stay busy serving the Lord and pray in faith for a godly spouse instead of dating.  It was so beautiful to witness the purity of their relationship.  They were to be married 20 days from this picture!

We are all called to be faithful and fruitful!  May God help us to bear eternal fruit and build up His eternal Kingdom!

 

The Godly Widows

 “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”  James 1:27

We were privileged to visit some dear widows and take them some groceries.  Most widows in Moldova survive on about $40 a month.

The first dear sister we met was Sister Anna, a precious 83 year old woman who reminded me of the prophetess Anna from the Bible.  This sister could barely walk, she used two canes to get around, but the first thing she did when we got inside her probably 150 square foot home, was drop to her knees and pray a long prayer of grateful thanksgiving to the Lord.   She is so grateful for Jesus and so excitedly looking for His return.  She was so close with Jesus, reading her Bible and talking to Him all throughout the day.  It was evident that He is her best friend.  I marveled at her faith, and her joy in such circumstances.  Tears filled my eyes as she talked to her Savior.  She has nothing, but she has Him!

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I didn’t want to forget anything she said.  Through Brother Ghiorghi’s translating we were able to understand and glean from her deep wisdom.

She told us that great persecution was coming and we must continually look toward heaven for Jesus’ return.  She shared how this homosexual movement is a sign of us living the last days. She said she had heard about a pastor in the US who refused to marry a homosexual couple and was sent to prison and fined.  She shared how she prays everyday for all the pastors who still fear God, that they would stay strong on what the Bible says.

She said,  “I hear America is a very big country with lots of wealth, but they have no fear of God in their hearts. You are very young, but you must stay strong in the faith and always fear the Lord.”

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She urged us to stay strong in the faith, to not give in and she blessed us in the name of the Lord.  She said, “If I don’t see you on this earth again, I will look forward to seeing you in heaven!”  Wow!  Just gave me chills of excitement.  I gave her our family photo so she can pray for us.  I want to be on her prayer list!

We also visited these other dear sisters and took them some groceries. IMG_3728

This precious woman (the one reclining) had 12 children.  She is now 85 and her prayer was, “Lord, keep me close to you until my last day.”  Here she is with four of her children.

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This is our missionary friend’s mother.  She is 84 and still milks her cow everyday, makes cheese, cans, gardens and cooks on a wood stove.   She loves the Lord as well.  DSC_0734

Thank you, Lord for these dear women.  Please watch over, protect and provide for them.  Minister to their needs.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.