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

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.

Love Wins

Love wins. This slogan has been in the mainstream media a lot this summer. God began to lay on my heart a message of love that has been taking shape for the last few months and I knew that I had to write and share it with the world. As I started to see #lovewins everywhere, my heart broke. Not for the decision the supreme court made, but for the many people who have never experienced what true love is…the love of Christ. See, the world has cheapened what love is. Follow your heart, they say. God says your heart is deceitful above all things. It’s about what makes you happy, they say. God says let the joy of the Lord be our strength. The world offers a temporary, conditional love that will eventually pass away. The Lord offers an eternal, unconditional love that will last forever. The world’s version of love is about pleasing self; it’s about what you want and your desires. God’s word says the world and its desires will pass away. The Lord’s version of love is about pleasing Him; it’s about offering yourself and sacrificing your desires to bring about peace and love in the hearts of many. His word declares that the man that does the will of God lives forever, and this is His will, that we show the world His love so that many that are perishing will come to know this great love. So please understand that there are two versions of love out there and we must choose how we will love people: with a worldly love or with a godly love.

If we profess to know Christ, if we profess to have been rescued from the world by His death that lives in us, if we claim His salvation in our hearts and have been reconciled to Him, then love is a command. And not the worldly love that tells us to only love those that we deem worthy or that we think deserve our love, but everyone, and His Word says especially those of the faith. 1 John 4:16 tells us that if we live in love, then we live in God and He lives in us. Verse 19 tells us that we only know how to love because He first manifested His love in us. If we have no love in us, then His Word makes us out to be a liar (verse 20) and tells us that if we cannot love our brother or sister who we can see in the flesh, then how can we love God who we cannot see. You see, our proof or evidence that God exists and has come to rescue the souls of many is in the way we love and show His love to the world. Who will believe us if they can’t see His love in our hearts?

Love. Seems like such a simple command, then how come it is so difficult? Even though we have experienced the love of Christ when He died on the cross for our wretched souls, showed us mercy by rescuing us from the punishment of our sins, and continues to show us His grace everyday by lavishing His love and riches, that we do not deserve, in our lives, we continue to experience worldly, fleshly desires because we live in these human bodies. Love is a choice. We choose whether we will love our neighbor. We wrestle everyday with that choice. The struggle is real! Our fleshly desires are constantly battling our spiritual desires and will continue to battle them until we see Him face to face and know Him fully, with every part of our being. Some days, loving like He loves seems impossible and to the world, it is. That’s why they settle for a cheap version of His love. His love seems like it will cost too much.

His Word gives us a picture of what His love is and what His love looks like in 1 Corinthians 13. Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (verses 4-8). The world cannot love like this because it does not know God. You who have Christ in your heart, in your life, can. You can love like this because He first loved you like this. When you’ve been wronged, when you’ve been hurt, when you’ve lost everything, when you have nothing or no one, when you feel as though a relationship is beyond repair, you can love like this. Love is what binds everything together in perfect unity. Love is what holds everything together. Love does not cost us anything. It cost Him everything, His life, so that we might know that kind of love in our hearts and love others with that kind of love. It IS possible. But it takes a daily submission to His will. It takes a choice: choosing to love every single day. Some days will be harder, but He has overcome the world and in that, we can have hope.

So love wins. His love wins. Every single time. How can we show Him how much we love Him? By loving His people. And bringing a message of love and hope to a lost and dying world that thinks #lovewins means having desires for whoever you want. Offering the real thing in place of a cheap version. How we love others will declare His message and truth in our hearts. So the next time you are given a choice of whether to love like the world loves or how God loves, know that how we love others will be the evidence of how we love God. Choose His love. Every single day. The world needs to see and experience God’s love.

5 Truths You Should Know About a Miscarriage

March 22nd. The day my second child was due. The day we prepared for since we were given a due date at 7 weeks. The day that would actually bring about sorrow instead of joy.

When I was pregnant with my first child, we decided to share our little secret at 5 weeks. We knew many people who kept the news of their pregnancy a secret until they escaped the “miscarriage time frame,” but we just really felt like if we celebrated, we wanted our loved ones to share in our celebration, and if we grieved, we wanted them to share in our grief as well.

It was no different when we found out we were pregnant the second time. But something felt off with this pregnancy. This time our celebration was met with questioning as to why we told so early. I remember almost feeling silly for telling so early, but we kept our original beliefs. The pregnancy felt completely different than the previous one- something wasn’t right. As we pulled into the doctors’ office at 10 weeks, I had this aweful feeling that we would not receive good news. As soon as we saw our little baby for the first time, I knew something was wrong. It did not look like what an ultrasound should look like at ten weeks.  After trying to find the heartbeat, the doctor gave us the devastating news. Our baby had stopped growing at 7 weeks. This would begin a long journey including another ultrasound to confirm the loss, a D&C surgery, more appointments to check my hormone levels every week, and telling our loved ones that what we thought we were growing, actually wasn’t growing anymore. We were heartbroken.  We went from dreaming and making plans, to awaiting another ultrasound that would confirm what we had already known. I remember sitting in that waiting room after being told that our baby wasn’t growing anymore and watching others in the room anticipating their ultrasound to confirm the sex of their baby. It was so unfair. Where was our joy?

We were very open about our loss. We were not afraid to grieve in front of the same ones that had questioned why we had told so early. And they grieved with us. Everyone did. But eventually they moved on and we were left with our grief. As the weeks went on, I still longed to dream and make plans like the many others around me who were journeying through their pregnancy, and I longed for the child that would never be.

My miscarriage immediately put me in a new group of people: people who have lost a child. A group I never wanted to be apart of, but as soon as I became part of this group, I learned some important truths that help me identify with those who have had any kind of loss.

1. A miscarriage is a loss. 

According to prolifeaction.org, DNA is determined from the moment of conception and a baby’s heart begins pumping blood at 21 days. At the time my baby stopped growing, he/she had fingers, a tailbone, elbow joints, and even eyelids. It was a life that one day was growing inside of me and then the next day was not. Calling it a fetus or saying that it was not a life does not take away the reality that it was growing inside of me and was my child. A miscarriage is a loss. The loss of a living being.

When I lost my baby, it almost felt foolish to still be grieving over something that the world does not consider a baby. I was only 10 weeks along. Shouldn’t I just move on with my life? I began to realize that the world was wrong. I was growing a baby. I lost a baby. A living being. So I decided not to be silent anymore and I began to share my story. I wrote an article that was published in the local newspaper telling my story and the work God had done in my life at the time and immediately received phone calls, emails, and letters from other women sharing their story with me- many of them had never shared their story with anyone, not even their own families. This boggled my mind. Why would women keep their sorrow and grief silent? That’s when I began to realize that the world, its view on pregnancy, babies, and miscarriages is what has prevented women from sharing their story. Many people do not know how to identify with someone who has lost a baby because of this reason.

2. Plans and dreams have been lost.

From the moment a woman finds out she is pregnant, she begins making plans. She not only thinks of all of the physical changes that will be taking place, but what the baby will need, how her family willl expand, what needs to be done to accommodate the growing family, if she will work or stay at home, and many other plans. There is also a connection that begins from the moment she knows she has a little one inside of her. When she loses that baby, she also loses the plans and dreams that had begun developing. That connection is still very much there, but it has changed. She now longs for what is gone. I felt as though the plans and dreams my husband and I had begun making were gone. In the blink of an eye, gone.

3. Grieving takes time.

I have come to understand that with grief, the rest of the world will move on before you’re ready. When everyone else moves on, a woman is left with her grief. I dealt with the empty feeling that plagued my happiness for weeks. Every time someone else announced their pregnancy, it was another reminder that I was not pregnant anymore. Every time someone asked what our family plan was, I was reminded that our plans for our family were temporarily gone. Even now, whenever I go to the doctor they ask the question, “how many pregnancies have you had and how many children do you have,” and I have to answer, “3 pregnancies and 2 children.” Every time it’s a painful reminder of my loss.

4. Miscarriages affect more than just the woman.

Grieving brings people together. My husband grieved along with me. I didn’t realize the connection he had made to our baby and the plans he had begun making until our loss. He cried, we held each other, we prayed and asked God why?  Our parents, who had known since the beginning, grieved with us. They had already opened their hearts to the possibility of another grandchild. Our church grieved with us. We were public about our loss and the Sunday after we found out, we went to the alter and just poured our hearts out. Our church family surrounded us and grieved with us. Other families that had been through the loss of a child grieved with us. We experienced the love of God firsthand through His people as they hugged us, grieved with us, and poured out their love and care on us.

5. A baby lost cannot just be replaced by another baby.

I remember being asked after our loss when we were planning on trying again. It was as if the void that came with a miscarriage could be fulfilled with another child. I too was guillty of those thoughts. Then, I became pregnant three months after my miscarriage. I was terrified. I tried to keep from connecting with this one, just in case I lost it. I went weeks before I allowed myself develop a deep connection with my growing child. I allowed fear to dictate my connections. I soon realized that once I allowed myself to connect, I developed a new and different bond with this baby. There was still this void that would never be filled by anyone else, but my new baby had come into my heart and taken up residency there.  However, many women never try again because the effects of their loss are so great.

Knowing these truths not only help women get through the depths of their loss, but will help others uderstand that loss. God’s desire for us in our loss is to cling to Him who heals all wounds and share our story with others that they may find healing as well. That is my prayer for you as you read this. May you find hope and healing in the midst of your tragedy and storm. May you grieve without worrying about what the world will think, and may you trust in the One who mends, restores, and creates.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans‬ ‭5‬:‭3-5‬ NLT)