Spring is in the Air

Springtime. My favorite season of all. Things that once appeared dead come back to life- the very breath of God breathes life back into them again. Flowers’ blooms grace the earth with their presence. Grass peaks from beneath the surface. The sweet sound of birds ring in your ears as they return. Life that lies dormant during the long, grueling months of winter returns and rejuvenates the earth. New life. The handiwork of the God who created it all.

My favorite part of Spring, though, is the return of the leaves on the trees. Winter can be harsh. With it comes the cold that drains the energy from each tree, branch by branch. The trees stand together, bare, no sign of life as far as the eye can see. But with the return of Spring, a miracle happens. Buds begin appearing little by little. And once again life breaks through. Evidence that God is at work. 

Every year I look forward to the return of Spring. It’s become a ritual with my kids. They know when Spring comes because Mommy gets very excited about seeing “baby leaves”! So every year we celebrate its return and look for baby leaves on every tree we see. 

For me, Spring means new life. That’s why I love it so much and look for its return. It is God’s promise that He will not leave us bare, lonely, and broken, but he will breathe life into our bones. No matter how many times we experience the winter season, He will return and once again life will break through. He will lead us to the springs of abundant life, where hope and mercy overflow and never leave us empty. 

I pray that if you’re in a Winter season, you may find life. That you may see the “baby leaves” as a sign of the hope and mercy to come. Friend, He wants to lead you to the springs of abundant life! All He asks is that you look up and trust in His restoration and rejuvenation.

“And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.”

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:6 NLT

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

‭‭John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Rejection

Rejection is something that I battle on a daily basis, whether it’s actual rejection or perceived rejection, it attempts to destroy my soul. 

I always want to share my story, my heart, my life with whoever will hear. I recently had the priveledge of writing a guest blog for the organization Leading and Loving It, an organization for ministers’ wives and women in the ministry. I pray that you will find hope and comfort in dealing with rejection through these words. 

“The LORD will not reject his people; he will not abandon his special possession.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭94:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Leading and Loving It Blog

For my Husband…After 12 Years

Dear Husband,

We have spent 15 years in the ministry together and the last 12 years as husband and wife. Throughout that time, we have seen some joy and some sorrow, some laughter and some tears, some ups and some downs. Through it all we have walked together, side by side, hand in hand, for better or for worse. 

Before we met, I felt the Lord calling me to ministry. I knew I was called to be a pastor’s wife- I didn’t know my calling was to be your wife. God had something in store for me beyond my imagination. He could see the days of joy and the difficult road ahead of us when he planned out our days together. I am so thankful that he brought us together. 

I was there when you surrendered your heart to the ministry after you felt the Lord tugging on your heart; I was there when you were brought into this great ministry through licensing and reaffirmed through ordination. I stood by your side and was proud to call you my husband as you declared your calling before His church body.

I was there, with you, as you became pastor to a small group of people for the first time. And again as we were called to another body of believers. 

I was there, watching, when the sweet older ladies would come and put their arms around your neck and pull you close just to thank you for speaking truth from the pulpit.

I was there, watching, when parents looked at you with tears in their eyes as you shared the greatest story ever told with their child, as their child walked down the aisle to take you by their hand and declare the greatest decision they had ever made, and as you stood before the church, and baptized their sweet child in obedience to the Lord.

I was there, pondering, taking in the moment when our daughter sat in your lap wanting to know the God of her mother and father, wanting to know this Jesus who could take away her sin. I watched as you led one of the precious gifts God has given us into a relationship with Him. 

I stood beside, cheering her on as you baptized that gift before His body of believers. With tears in my eyes, I watched as she proclaimed Jesus as her Savior. 

I was there when you would come home so excited and passionate about what the Lord was doing. I was there, right by your side, envisioning and dreaming with you of the future for His bride, the church. 

I was there when you would come home meeting after meeting, feeling defeated, wondering what more you could have said, what more you have done. I saw how defenseless you looked and felt as you sat and took all of the countless accusations of the things people thought you were doing wrong or weren’t doing. I could see in your eyes all of the things you wanted to say, but didn’t because of the spirit of God living in you, calling you to love His people, even the difficult to love.

I was there when you made the decision to lead your family in another direction. I watched as you worked hard to provide for us. Together we wept over the past and rejoiced in the hope of a future.

I have been there, falling more in love with you each time you have taken one of our children in your arms and held them tight so they could feel your love and protection. 

You’ve been there every time I’ve felt the defeat of the world or when the feelings of loneliness and rejection creep in and take up residence in my heart. 

You’ve been there. After 12 years, you’ve been here. I’ve been here. Despite what trials and struggles we’ve been thrown . 12 years, 2 kids, 3 towns, endless laughs and memories. 

So I’ll be there. Forever I’ll be by your side, supporting you, praying for you, and making memories with you. I praise Him everyday that He brought you to me and that we get to do life together. 

From These Ashes

Beauty. In the midst of suffering, brokenness, devastation.

Is it possible?

Dictionary.com defines beauty as “the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).” 

Our world sees beauty as flawless, perfection, an outward appearance. What if there’s more to beauty than what the eye can see? 

We seem to know the things that are not beautiful very well. Brokenness. Destruction. Devastation. Division. Lies. Accusations. Bitterness. Anger. Hurt. Some of us have experienced one of these things. Maybe more. Some of us go through seasons with these things. Some of us live there or at least camp out there for a while. 

What if there was beauty in the midst of it all? What if there was purpose to our suffering. 

That’s our story.

My husband and I have served in the ministry since before we were married. I felt called to be a minister’s wife and he was called to be a pastor. We got married and started serving together and once our kids came along we continued to serve, but as a family. We recently went through a season in His church that was present with lies, accusations, and division. We were fulfilling our calling and in the midst of it were being torn down. I think for so long we had tried to hold the walls together with whatever we could. We tried to pick up the pieces and glue them together. When that didn’t work, we stood, holding brick by brick up so the walls wouldn’t come tumbling down. As we stood, we watched as what we had built became rubble. We sat in the midst of the rubble, clinging to what remained, clinging to the hope that the walls could be rebuilt, but mourning the loss of what once was. We sat wondering what happens now?

As we wept over the past, we sat holding each other, waiting to see what God had next for us and dealing with the feelings of bitterness and hurt that had enveloped us. What once held beauty had been turned to ashes. What once had brought deep satisfaction now brought hurt, fear and brokenness. 

We spent months living in our hurt, our brokenness, and fighting our bitterness. All the while He was leading us, giving us hope little by little. Assuring us He was rescuing us out of our desperation.  

The words of Isaiah 61 were never as evident in our lives as they were in the midst of our brokenness and suffering. 

He had called us “to bring good news to the poor; to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives (vs.1); to comfort all who mourn (vs.2)” and now we were the ones needing comfort, needing to be reminded of our freedom as the devil, our enemy, had tried to whisper lies in our hearts. 

In the midst of this season, we began to see how our story was affecting others, pointing people to the gospel, changing lives; we began to see the beauty from our ashes, from the rubble. He was giving us a “beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit (vs.3).” We had sat in the rubble, looked up and cried for Him to rescue us, and He did. Oh how He did. He set our feet on a new path and only asked that we follow.

From the ashes, the rubble, there was a white flag. A white flag where we stood on the rubble and said, “We surrender to your will. Your path. Your new beginnings.” In our new beginnings, we are looking back at what was, looking back at the ashes, the rubble, and now we see the beauty in the midst of it all. The brokenness that made us cling to Him. The desperation that made us depend on Him. The new life that grew because of Him. He is planting us, “that we may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified (vs.3).”

See, when we surrender to His will and refuse to camp out in our devastation, we will “build up the ancient ruins; raise up the former devastations; repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations (vs.4).” 

Many will choose to remain in the midst of their devastation, the ashes. As for me, I will choose to pick up the rubble and build an alter. This is where He clothed us with a beautiful headdress. This is where He picked up the pieces and started again. This is where we began again. This is where He showed us beauty from the ashes.

Please check out this video by Nicole Nordeman called “The Unmaking.” This song is my anthem right now. It was the inspiration for this blog:

The Unmaking- Nicole Nordeman

A Room Full of Mothers, a Meeting, a Ministry

A group of women sat in a living room together. They each had a different story, a different journey. Some had been on the journey of motherhood for a long time, some a short time, and some would begin this journey soon. Some were grandmothers and some were still children themselves. Every one of those women had one thing in common, though; they were all mothers. This was what would be the first of many meetings between these moms. 

A few years prior, God had given one of the women a vision. What if there was a ministry for young teenage moms? That was one ministry that didn’t seem to exist. There were ministries for recovering drug addicts, alcoholics, singles, senior adults, children, women, men, married couples, but where were the ministries for the young teen moms and dads? 

What if the community came together and took young moms and dads under their wings? Taught them how to provide and love their children with a godly kind of love that the world could not offer them? Lives would be forever changed. So a vision formed in her heart that she questioned, but clung to, nonetheless, for many years. 

How would this ministry ever form? 

Who would be apart of this ministry? 

How would she find these young moms and dads in the small, rural community in which she lived? 

This vision stayed with her for many years. She knew that it would have to be something that God would birth and grow. If He began it, He would bring the workers and the harvest. She just had to trust and believe. 

During this time, she met every week with some sweet women to study and grow in the Word. The more they studied the Word, the more their hearts were burdened over their community and the lost and dying world. They would spend hours pouring into the Word and praying for others; their hearts longed to pour themselves as a drink offering into the community. So they began praying a simple prayer, asking God to show them where they were needed and how they could be His hands and feet. 

He was gathering his workers. The women discovered this vision to save a lost generation. Many of them had been young moms themselves and knew the hardships that came along with that. But where was the harvest? 
That’s when God revealed His purpose. One by one he began introducing these women to teen moms in their community. It became very evident that God was placing the harvest in their hands. He was weaving these women’s lives with the lives of a few young moms in the community.

And so a ministry was born. The women started investing in the lives of these young moms. They never needed to pursue one; God always brought them in their path. He was the orchestrator and the heart of the ministry. The women saw a purpose in the burdens they had born for so long. 

This was not an easy or a pretty ministry and the women knew that. Many people around them began raising questions:

“Aren’t you endorsing sex before marriage?” 

“Are you really equipped to help these young moms and dads?” After all, they had made their own beds; they needed to sleep in them. 

The church had turned a blind eye to pregnant teens for so long. The enemy had breathed lies to God’s people, and so they focused on the sin instead of the sinner and His mercy. Meanwhile, the enemy used the world to entice teens to abort their babies by telling them lies:

“You’re too young to be a parent.”

“You’ve got your whole life ahead of you.”

“A baby would only hinder your dreams.” 
So the purpose of this women’s ministry was very clear: share the love of Christ and save lives. 

The bond that formed between these women and the young moms was unbreakable. Even after coming under fire, the women continued to minister. They continued to carry out the vision God had placed in their hearts. Lives were forever changed. The ministry was for the young teen moms, but He was changing the lives of the women too. He was showing them the need for the gospel and that He has a purpose for each life.

A group of women sat in a living room together. They had been meeting for some time now. They shared testimonies, they helped each other, they leaned on another for support, they didn’t see the sin that had been apart of the journey, but the grace and mercy that God had bestowed upon each of their lives. They saw each other as equals, as mothers. Each woman knew the hardship that often came with motherhood, and as an individual, as one, this could be overwhelming, but as many joined together, as one accord, they could face the hardships together. Nothing was impossible with God.

What if we as women, as moms, as friends, as Christians, as churches loved others in the way that these women loved the young moms? The way that Christ loves sinners, the way He loves His church? This is what “doing life” together is all about. This is God’s command to believers. We were all like these young moms at one time: alone, fearful, ashamed. But then He rescued us as we drew near to the throne of grace and poured out His mercy and grace over our lives in our times of need (Hebrews 4:16). 

So because we have been given this mercy, it is our job to show others mercy no matter what their situation in life. It is our job to come alongside them, teach them what we have learned and show them the love of Christ. Who knows. It might just save a life.

When the rain comes…

Rain. For some reason I love the rain. It seems to bring peace. As a kid, when I would spend time with my grandparents, one of our favorite things to do when it would rain was to sip coffee on the front porch as a storm would roll in. It’s still one of my favorite things. The sound of the drops on the ground brings comfort to my soul. I can’t explain it. When others see dreariness and depression, I see hope. Maybe because I know that means God has not forgotten the ground, the plants, the earth. Maybe because after weeks of a drought, his rain brings healing to the earth. Maybe because rain brings relief from the relentless heat of the summer sun. Maybe because after the rain, the plants seem to look up to the sky as if to say, “thank you,” to their maker. 

I have felt the scorching heat on my back for several months, my drought. I have been silent. Every time I’ve tried to “pick up the pen” I’ve not had the strength or the words to say. I’ve been so broken-hearted. We’ve poured our lives into ministry and people and we were torn apart. We saw the ugliness of ministry and the hard hearts of those who claimed His name. And when we didn’t think it could get any worse, it did. That’s when I fell into a depression and a state I had never really known. Some might call it “situational depression.” God has more for you, they said. God has different plans for you, they said. How are you? They asked, and for the first time I couldn’t bring myself to say, “good.” I longed for the day I could say good and mean it or at least lie and maybe convince myself. 

The days and nights seemed to blur and life became something completely different than what I knew. For the first time in my life my servant heart was broken. I was angry. I was bitter. How could life go on and people move on while we were still in this state? Still in pieces? Discarded? I’ve always told people after they’ve experienced a loss that “the rest of the world will move on before you’re ready,” and now we were experiencing that ourselves and it made me angry, made me broken, and just made me want to cry out, “why God?” 

I tried to just hide, blend in, go unnoticed. But that was impossible. Everywhere I went people asked questions. I was faced with my anger and bitterness on a daily basis. Ever felt like there was an elephant in the room? An uncomfortable silence? Everyone staring at you? I had these feelings everywhere I went. Wanting to tell the truth, wanting to cry out from brokenness but always hiding…always protecting others from hurt, but who was protecting me?

Then came the rain, the relief, the healing. He was always there, protecting me, saving me, healing me. Letting me know that I was going to be okay. We were going to be okay. I always knew that. When you stand for truth and follow His will, you could lose all in this life and still gain everything, gain Him. He is worth it every time. 

Maybe that’s why I love the rain. God’s promise that he never forgets, always gives hope, restores what’s been broken. What else would explain how a plant can begin to wilt, but when drinks the rain, is restored to life?  

So it’s time to sit back and allow the healing power of the rain to soothe my weary soul; it’s time to pick up the pen and not be silent anymore…about His story of restoration. Please understand that I am not anywhere near fixed; for right now I’m just drinking the rain and looking to the sky.

“When the rain comes it seems that everyone has gone away—When the night falls you wonder if you shouldn’t find  someplace to run and hide, Escape the pain—But hiding’s such a lonely thing to do.” Third Day: When the Rain Comes

Depression: My Reality…Jesus: My Life

It’s been a while…months…my pen has run dry…I’ve had no words. I still struggle with the words. I have been broken down until nothing was left. But I know that I must pick this pen up. I must pick up and keep going, keep living, keep writing. So here are my thoughts, lessons learned, and my new realities.

Depression…a word I never thought would become part of my vocabulary, my journey. A word that I thought others struggled with, but not me, at least not until last summer. I have a beautiful marriage, 2 children that bring me joy, the best job, and I get to serve in the ministry alongside my husband. So why is this word now a part of my world?

I’ve always said that I would share my journey through this life with others. If my life can be a testimony, can minister to someone, can give someone hope, then it is worth it. When I went through my miscarriage a number of years ago, I shared my story. I was amazed at how many people opened up and shared their story because I had been open and vulnerable, some for the first time. This is no different. Depression is not a pretty part of my story, but it is part of it, nonetheless. May it bring hope and comfort to those walking this same road, and may it give hope to those that love someone walking this part of the journey.

Last summer I experienced some things that were beyond my control. I began to fall into depression and before I knew it, a month had gone by and I was drowning. I was forcing myself to be part of the world around me. I had the most amazing support from my husband and children; I knew that my God had not forsaken me, yet I still felt myself spiraling. There were times that the pain was more than I could bear, and all I could do was close my eyes. Maybe then the pain wouldn’t continue to suffocate me. I began to feel guilty. How could I say that I trust Jesus but allow this pain into my heart, my life? What would others think of me? A Christian, a pastor’s wife, and yet I couldn’t climb out of this pit? I think that was just it. I couldn’t climb out of the pit. There was nothing I could do. I soon sought medical help and joined many others that I know on antidepressants. I felt like I was betraying Him. Betraying the one that created me, that loves me and continues to carry me. But I knew that I needed help.

This was the beginning of a nine-month journey that I am still walking, still fighting, still learning. As difficult as this journey has been, I wouldn’t trade the lessons that the Lord has taught me for the world. My prayer is that by sharing my story and my thoughts, my journey can be a testimony and an encouragement to those who are walking this journey.

For those of you walking this journey:

1. Know that you are NOT alone! You have a Heavenly Father that thinks the world of you and loves you because you are HIS creation. He bought you with the blood of the lamb. You are HIS! There are so many others out there walking the same road, fighting the same fight. That is probably one of the most important things I’ve discovered. When you make yourself vulnerable, others will too. You are NOT alone!

2. Live ONE day at a time. Survive today. Get through today. The Bible says not to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow has its own worries. Give today to the One who holds today AND tomorrow. My spirit is overwhelmed when I begin to think of all the worries tomorrow holds, but when I focus on today, this moment, His presence in this moment, then I have the strength to make it through today.

3. Know that you were fearfully and wonderfully MADE. He created you in HIS image and His image is PERFECT! Right now we can only see in part- dimly as in a mirror, but some day we will see face to face. Now we only know in part, but someday we will know in full just as we are fully known by Him!

4. Get up. Some days all I could do was celebrate the fact that I had gotten up and out of bed. Do the things you can do. Celebrate life. Jesus came to bring LIFE and life more abundantly. I look back at the times I’ve been in the valley this past year, and the times I regret are the times I’ve missed celebrating life with my husband, my children, my family and friends.

5. Know that what you are going through is OKAY. It is okay if you need help and can’t do it on your own. Be honest- tell someone you need help. You were not made to go through this alone. God doesn’t want you to go through it alone. He wants you to cry out- He is in the HELPING and RESCUING business!

For those of you walking beside someone on this journey:

1. Reach out- your loved one needs you. They need to know that they are not alone. They’re still going to go through this season. It may not fix it for them, but they’ll know they aren’t walking alone.

2. Pray. Some days it feels like the only thing you can do, but it is the BEST thing you could do. Intercede for them- cry out for them. The Bible says that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

3. Love. LOVE with an unconditional love- let them know that no matter what, you love who they are and will walk with them. Show them love- show them what it means to love and be loved.

4. Be a SAFE place. This journey is so difficult and can be so lonely. Be someone they can open up to without feeling like they’re being judged.

5. Did I say pray? PRAY daily and sometimes hourly for them. Cry out on their belief. One of the hardest things for me has just been knowing what to say- finding the words on my own. Pray for them when it is difficult for them to pray.

Above all else, run to the One who knows. Knows your heart, your situation, and your being. There is One who is trustworthy. There is One who cares about you- He knows your thoughts and longs to lead you and guide you. Some days I have to convince my soul to rise and praise Him. The amazing thing about our Father is that He never leaves us- it doesn’t matter what state of life we are in. Whether we are walking on the mountain or through the valley. So I will praise Him- He is life, He is hope, and He is my all.

Psalm 139:

1 You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.