Fresh is Best . . .

Baby Hope loves her milk and she’s not shy about asking for it. When she’s hungry everybody knows it! I love being able to provide her with the nourishment she needs to grow and develop healthily. However, while milk is very beneficial to Hope, it is only good for her when it is fresh. If I have a bottle of milk in the fridge, for example, it needs to be used up within 24 hours or else it will no longer be healthy for her to consume; She cannot consume old milk without suffering the consequences of it. As her mother, I want what is best for her and what is best for her is fresh milk for each new day. 

Just like Baby Hope needs fresh milk to be healthy and strong and to continue to grow and develop, we need fresh revelation from the Lord each day to continue to grow deeper in our relationship with Him. We cannot expect to grow closer to God if we become stagnant in our walk with Him. While yesterday’s revelations are wonderful, we need to seek God afresh each and every day if we want to develop and grow in our relationship with Him. 

Fresh is best. What is stale has lost its benefit. 

The Lord Establishes Our Steps . . .

Life rarely turns out just as we plan, but it turns out exactly as God has planned, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Would you? 

I was thinking about this concept recently in relation to the labor and delivery of  our daughter Hope . . . Her arrival didn’t happen the way I thought it would but, looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. 

In preparing for labor and delivery, I packed a hospital bag full of various items, including changes of clothes, pajamas, my iPad for reading books, and plenty of snacks. I assumed we would be admitted to the hospital and have many hours to wait before it was time to welcome baby Hope into the world. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In reality, when Timothy and I arrived at the hospital I was already 9 cm dilated, and was a full 10 cm dilated a few moments later. I was rushed into the delivery room and Hope arrived a while later. The only item I actually used from my hospital bag was my phone and we ended up going home less than five hours later! This did not go at all how I had planned and envisioned but although it was painful and at times scary I am thankful for how it all worked out and, looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. 

God knows the end from the beginning. He knows all of our days before any of them came to be. While it is good to plan and feel ‘prepared,’ ultimately it is God’s will for our lives that will come to pass in spite of challenges along the way. While I may have preferred the option of having an epidural in the moments I was experiencing contractions, I was able to fully experience the birth of our daughter and we were able to spend our first night together in the comfort of our own home. 

Prepare. Make plans. But if nothing comes of them, that is okay. God will have His way and His way is the best way. 

Proverbs 16:9: In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Hand in Hand . . .

Currently clocking in at about 38.5 weeks pregnant, I am on ‘baby watch.’ Baby Girl could come at any moment and, to be very transparent, though I am excited for when that time comes, I am also rather nervous. Although women have been giving birth for thousands of years and our bodies are miraculously built to do so, I myself have never before experienced labor and delivery and so I am naturally feeling a bit anxious towards the unknown. I don’t know what contractions will feel like, or how I will handle them when they come, but what I do know is that just as God is with me now, He will be with me then. And God is faithful to provide us exactly what we need when we need it.

I am not in labor now and so I do not require the grace, strength, and peace that I will need in those moments. When that time comes, God will provide me with exactly what I need. I do not need the courage for that moment in this moment. As it is written in Matthew 6:34, ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’ And Matthew 6:27 reads, ‘Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?’ I don’t want to live in fear of what has yet to come and rob the present of its peace. Instead, I cling to the truth in Isaiah 41:13, ‘For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.’ With God, we are capable of much when we need to be.

Whatever we go through in life, we never go through it alone because God has promised to not only help us, but to walk alongside us. He takes hold of our hand! What a beautiful promise we have in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Comfort Zones Are Not Safe Retreats . . .

I am 37.5 weeks along in my pregnancy and I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey thus far. It has been an exciting time filled with many ‘firsts’ along the way. I remember feeling Baby Girl kick for the first time and though she loves to kick and roll inside the womb, she also has a favorite place where she enjoys settling. Throughout the pregnancy she has always favored one side and she enjoys curling up and resting in the upper corner of that one side. Even though she is so young, she has yet to enter the world, she has already found a favorite place that she loves returning to time and again. However, though she may prefer that spot and find comfort in it, she will eventually have to leave that comfort zone. Though it is good for her to be there right now, safe inside the womb, resting in that favorite place, it won’t always be beneficial. If she remains there too long, it will actually be detrimental.

How true this can be of our own comfort zones. Though our comfort zones may not take the form of a physical location, we all have safe places that we enjoy retreating to and operating from. We enjoy our comfort zones because they are comfortable. They require very little of us and provide us a sense of safety and security. However, when little is required of us, little is produced from us. Our comfort zones, though enjoyable for the moment, are not beneficial places to remain because, in them, we become stagnant and fruitless; they are actually detrimental to us if we remain in them too long. Yes, it is scary to leave from them, but it is even scarier to remain because, in doing so, you are inevitably stifling your growth.

God’s Provision . . .

God knows our needs more than we do. As it is written in Matthew 6:8, our ‘Father knows what [we] need before [we] ask Him.’ What a comfort this knowledge is, that we serve a Heavenly Father who created us, loves us, knows us, and provides for us exactly what we need. I was reminded of this recently when God worked through someone to provide for one of my needs.

I was looking for a certain item to purchase recently but was having very little success; the item I was hoping to acquire was hard to find and it was also rather costly, and it left me feeling a bit discouraged.

However, shortly after my fruitless search, I was contacted by someone who had the very item I was looking for and was wondering if I had need of it! What a tremendous blessing! I was blown away by the generosity of this person that the Lord used to meet my need! God often works through His children to meet the needs of His children. Never underestimate the impact of your generosity because it is often used of the Lord to meet a great need.

God knows what we all need. He is always faithful to provide for the needs of His children. Sometimes God’s provision will come through you or through me. How wonderful it is to be a vessel of God’s gracious provision to bless others!

OVERCOME! Don’t be Overtaken!

For those of you who have experienced the sensations of a charley horse, you know it is not a fun thing to endure. The shooting, cramping pain that suddenly pulses and permeates through your calf is not the ideal way to wake up from one’s sleep. This happened to me quite a few weeks back. Apparently charley horses are quite a common occurrence during pregnancy but, fortunately, I have only had to endure one thus far. Though the pain only lasted a short time, it was intense and my calf muscles remained rather tight all through the next day. What I didn’t realize at the time I was experiencing the charley horse was that, the way I stretched my leg actually exacerbated the problem and perhaps even brought it about.

Since that untimely and uncomfortable middle of the night wake up, I have put into practice a couple techniques to help prevent my calf muscles from seizing on me again. I have, for example, stretched my legs before heading to bed and I have also learned to move my foot a certain way when I feel as though a charley horse could be coming on, and it has helped to keep the pain from taking over.

Though you may never have had to deal with the pain of a charley horse, you will certainly have to deal with temptations. Sometimes, like a charley horse, temptations can suddenly creep up on us with little to no warning. They can appear through something we see very quickly, through something we hear, or through a thought that quickly passes through our minds. Though the temptation may be fleeting, its effect on our lives could be long lasting. Rather than just giving into the moment and the temptation that surfaces, it is important that we develop techniques and put them into practice so that when temptations come, which they will, we will be better equipped to resist them. Know, for example, that you are not immune to temptation and that you need God’s help to overcome. Know your weaknesses and protect yourself by staying away from what may be a stumbling block. Memorize scripture and recite scripture when temptations try to take hold. Pray.

Charley horses are not fun and I will do whatever I can to prevent them from reoccurring. How much more so do we need to be diligent and proactive when it comes to temptation.

Selah . . .

Acts 19: 29a, 32, ‘Soon the whole city was in an uproar’. . . The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.’

Not much has changed.

It seems as if the whole world is in an uproar. There is much confusion, anger, hatred, and division. Some are shouting one thing, some another. Some don’t even know why they are shouting what they are shouting, they are just following the crowd and joining in the tumult, adding their voice to the fray. People are pitting themselves against others. In this hostile climate it can be so easy to feel overwhelmed, discouraged, and in despair.

However, as the Bible instructs us, ‘selah,’ stop and think about what is happening. Pray. Seek God and His counsel. As it is written in Romans 12:2, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.’ And in Romans 12:21, ‘Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.’

I love this verse found in John 1:5, it is truth and it is worth clinging to. It is a firm foundation in this very fragile world in which we live . . . ‘The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it.’

There is a Cost . . .

The worthwhile things in life do not always come easy, usually they come at a price, but, though they might cost you something, they usually reap dividends.

As I write this, I am sitting in my apartment with the portable AC unit running and I have two fans pointed in my direction operating at full blast. I am very much pregnant and the heatwave we have been experiencing feels more like a flood. I am not looking forward to seeing the electricity bill next month but, at the same time, I know I wouldn’t be able to function without the coolness the fans and AC unit provide. Though the use of these appliances will cost me, it will be worth the price; it is a price I am willing to pay.

Our relationship with the Lord will cost us. The narrow path does not make for the easiest journey, which is why only some will find it and choose to walk on it. It involves denying ourselves and taking up our cross. It means saying no to certain worldly pleasures so we can enjoy the promise of what is to come. Though this relationship will cost us, it is well worth the price. What it will cost us cannot even compare to what it will produce within us and for us. If the journey seems difficult, long, and burdensome, take heart . . . At the proper time you WILL reap a harvest if you do not give up.

Loving Even When We Cannot See . . .

Timothy and I have yet to see our baby girl. With each passing day, her due date draws nearer, and we are excited for the day we will finally meet her. It will be so interesting to see what she looks like . . . Will she have hair? What color will it be? However, although we have never seen her face to face, we love her dearly; she is part of us. And though we have never seen her, we have felt her presence. Each kick and movement is a beautiful reminder that she is with us. Our inability to see her does not negate her realness or our love for her.

Though we have never seen the Lord face-to-face, that does not negate His realness or our ability to love Him. Though we have never seen Him, we sense His presence and guidance each and every day. Every answered prayer, every time we experience peace that passes all understanding, we are reminded that He is with us, lovingly watching over us. Be encouraged. Our God will never leave you nor forsake you. Though you can’t see Him, He is an ever present help and is as close as the mention of His name. And, with each passing day, His return draws ever nearer.

Voices are Powerful, Be Careful Which Voice You Are Listening To . . .

One day this past week while I was out running errands with my husband, I heard a negative word which, though it probably shouldn’t have, affected me for quite some time. My emotions were already feeling a bit jagged and raw and so it didn’t take too much to bring them to the surface. Though I kept a stiff upper lip during the exchange, once removed from the situation, my resolve dissolved and the tears quickly followed. In that moment, when I was feeling a bit weak and vulnerable, I allowed a rash word to impact me in a way I never should have.

Voices are powerful tools. They have the ability to impact someone either positively or negatively; they can either build someone up or tear someone down. We all have a voice and it is even more impactful than we realize. However, in addition to having a voice, we all also have the autonomy to determine which voices we listen to and accept. This situation was a reminder to me that we do not have to accept all of the voices that we hear. Not every word spoken over us is truth. It is so important that we filter each voice we hear through God’s truth. Voices are powerful, but we ultimately determine whether or not they have power over us. What voices are you listening to?