I was trying to hashtag some photos the other day, but I quickly realized that #kissthewave is full of photos of ocean stuff. It made sense to me, but also, not really. I was going for something totally different – a different story that the ones I saw portrayed there. And since I don’t know how hashtags work, I’m just giving the title to this blog entry as is.
I ran a half marathon yesterday. My brain is always scattered as I don’t have too much time to write; I need to start cooking dinner. So let’s this finish this ASAP. I read a quote some time ago that’s attributed to Charles Spurgeon. It reads:
Those who know me (and those who have read the last blog entries) know I had a miscarriage, well, almost two years ago. Time does fly by. Grieving was hard; dealing with the sadness of losing a pregnancy, and also experiencing kind of a second loss since we haven’t been able to conceive since then. Doctor said it was not impossible, but my numbers indicated it was going to be very difficult. I think I took a long time in the last post to deal with all the details of what I’ve been going through – the dark parts of my heart and all. If you’d like to read it, you might need like three days off of work, but you can do it here.
God has been so very faithful to me. So kind and gracious. I read so many books, and listened to so many resources (the list is on that last post, too). I think by far the most eye-opening was a book by Jeremiah Burroughs called The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. I think that book had me crying every day, and not because of the loss of my child, but because it showed me my sin raw.
LISTEN. I’m not saying I didn’t suffer, or that it didn’t hurt, but I deserve hell. If I’m still alive and walking and writing here, it’s only because I have a merciful Savior who went to the cross and died for me. He loved me and gave Himself for me. He did ordained my suffering for His glory and my good, but my loss has been so very good to me. It has humbled me. It has grown me. It has changed me in ways I wouldn’t be able to explain in a few sentences. It has shown me my pride and the idols of my heart. Of course, I have two years to look back. I was not able to see all this as I was going through the pain, but the pain today is less that the pain a year ago.
As a Christian, God’s will for me is not to make me happy, but to make me like His Son, and He chastises His people. He doesn’t afflict from the heart, but He does afflict. Suffering is never for nothing, and all things work together for the good of those who love Him – those who have been called according to His purpose. He has worked my loss for my good. I am His child. My life belongs to Him. And I have learned to trust Him in the difficult times. And these words might sound harsh to the unbeliever, or even to the believer who doesn’t have the view that I hold onto when it comes to the Sovereignty of God, but this is what the Bible plainly teaches.
I think death has changed me forever. I still remember the miscarriage, not everyday, but I still get sad every now and then. I haven’t gone to any Baby Showers at my church – I don’t think I’m ready, and there’s been like five showers. I still need to work on that. Sadness hits me sometimes when I least expect it, and I just… it’s not okay to break at a Baby Shower. I’m hoping I’ll be ready for the next round of babies.
So I’m happy. I never thought I was going to feel “happy” again, but life goes on, which is exactly the point of the blog.
As I was dealing with my feelings, I got into triathlon. I had to do something to keep me sane, specially after the first year anniversary of the miscarriage. I think I explained in the other post that it took me a long time to realize that I was grieving, so I was sad all the time. So long story short I did a Duathlon, then a Sprint Triathlon and I’m about to start training for my first Half Iron Man.
Swimming has really helped my cardiovascular endurance, and it showed yesterday because I was struggling during the last 4 miles of the race, but I was breathing fine. So follow this: I have a friend who has shared with me she struggles with ADHD, and I’ve never been diagnosed, but every time I read about it, I’m like, “That’s me.”
I reached out to her because the last two weeks had been really hard for me. This has always happened; I have seasons in which I’m happy, but then I get super sad. I am always very distracted. Maybe this is just me – I don’t know whether or not it can be a clinical thing. I also don’t sleep very well. Point is I reached out to her, and while we were discussing the fact that we are a body linked to a soul, she was encouraging me and giving me resources for counseling, etc. She then says, as in passing, “The Lord has used my struggle to refine me and help others, so it’s a wave I will kiss as it pushes me onto the Rock.”
I was like,
I knew what she was talking about. I knew the quote. It was clear – very clear. That has been my story since the last time I wrote in this blog on April, 2022. I know about that wave. The wave sometimes seems to threaten you as it pushes you, but it pushes you to lean on Christ – the Rock of Ages. The wave, the suffering ordained by the Father to refine you and make you like Christ, only serves a holy purpose. The wave is not meant to destroy you. Th wave is actually fulfilling its purpose – conformity to the image of His Son.
One of my favorite hymns explains it so well. There’s a part where it says,
“Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been Granted in what He ordaineth?”
For years I’ve prayed for God to make me like His Son. And it seems so backwards that suffering has been the way by which God has made me a little bit more like Jesus, but it is true. My desires have been granted in the things He has allowed to happen in my life – even the bad things. I don’t expect everyone to agree or understand, but this is a plain teaching of Scripture. There’s a wonderful book on suffering that helped me deal with loss from a biblical perspective in case you’re interested (Trusting God – Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges).
Anyway, so this year He has helped me and taught me how to lean on Him and only Him. When my life seems to get out of control, or the world seems like going crazy, He is stable. And I’m so thankful because I know the darkness in my heart. I know my sins, and my temptations, my ugly thoughts on a regular basis. I need a Savior.
This last year God has taught me to endure, and today it was a physical, tangible way to see that endurance in my body. I ran 13.1 miles on my own. My husband is always coaching me and giving me advice, and my best time running a half marathon under two hours was because he paced me. It was last year. But yesterday, he wasn’t there. I was a bunch of nerves because I hadn’t been running consistently or as intensely as I was last year. I just signed up to the race two days before out of impulse LOL!
So I started the first three miles at a steady pace. Then the next four, I picked it up a little. Then I saw my friends and I got so excited I ran the next three too fast, and I had to “slow down” for two miles to recover, but I gave it my all on the last two miles. I endured. I felt like I was about to quit with 1.5 miles to go. I remember the burning feeling on my legs, they were aching. I had eaten my gels and drank my liquids, it was not a fuel issue (plus it was only two hours of exercise) – it was just my muscles. I guess I was tired.
After seeing my friends, I remember I ran past a lady and she told me I was awesome. It’s always so good when people shout, “Go, Mom!’ or “Go, Danny!” I mostly cringe when people say I’m awesome cause I know I’m not. I know they mean well, and what they really mean is, “Great job for pushing a stroller at a good pace.”
So I usually just smile, but I wish I could stop and tell them about how awesome I am not. I yell at my kids everyday. I roll my eyes at my husband every day. I get angry. I am envious. I don’t do the right thing all the time, and I wish I could tell them how a holy God will not settle for, “I did my best, plus I was better than…”
A holy God requires righteousness – perfection – and I am unrighteous. I deserve His wrath. And more importantly, I wish I could stop and tell them that the holy, just God I serve is also very kind and merciful. He is so kind He sent His Son to live the righteous life I could never live, and to die the death that I deserve. I would ask them to trust Him, to repent and turn away from their sins. I would ask them to look up and see Christ and how beautiful and awesome He really is 🙂
But there is not enough time on every race to do that, so yesterday as I was passing a lady who told me I was awesome, I replied, “I’m not, but thank you. You know who’s awesome though? The Lord Jesus for allowing me to run with my baby. And look at this perfect weather!! Isn’t it amazing?”
I meant EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. She obviously looked at me like I was from another planet. That was my cue to smile again and I took off. After that, I was able to catch up with the 2:05 pacers. That’s when I got super excited because I had three more miles to go, and I knew I could finish faster than what I was expecting.
I so really wanted to stop with one mile to go. I mean, the last four miles were my mental struggle. The race was in my neighborhood, and when I saw the last mile marker, I began pushing as hard as I could. I remember yelling. I was also looking at my hand (I had written the quote and also the line of a hymn), thanking the Lord for His goodness over my life. I told myself, “You’re not quitting with one mile to go. Let’s gooo! The 2:05 people CAN NOT pass you.”
I really was trying to catch up to the 2:00 pacers, but I couldn’t. That would have been awesome, but I am so proud of myself. It is very hard to say those words because I never believe them, but I am so very proud of myself – for the effort I made with little training, and for just not quitting even though I wanted to.
I was so happy when I finished. I asked my husband how to know if this actually a race effort cause I’m using this data to train for Galveston 70.3 – he asked me if I had another mile in me. I obviously didn’t, and I finished in 2:01:27 – pushing 30 lb. of stroller and 30 lb. of Danny 🙂
This has been a year of growth for me, a time in which God has helped me learn to kiss the wave that throws me onto Christ. That is actually why I signed up for the half ironman distance: a way to tangibly acknowledge the endurance the Lord has worked in my faith. It hasn’t been easy, but I have kept the faith. I don’t hate God, I am not bitter – I actually love Him more. He has become my only Portion. He is better to me than ten sons.
And God willing, I will rock a kit with that quote during Galveston 70.3 🙂
It was April 4th, 2021. I was the happiest woman in the entire world; as far as I knew, I really was the happiest woman alive. I was at church celebrating Resurrection Sunday with my beautiful family: an amazing husband, a ten year-old girl, an eight year old boy, and a wonderful six month-old baby. I was also six weeks pregnant…
Three days later I miscarried.
Maybe a month after, I was asked to speak at a Baby Shower for a sweet lady at church, and I wrote (and expounded on) what I said in my “speech” here: God’s Discipline in Motherhood. Obviously, almost no one knew what had happened – definitely not the lady who asked me to speak at the Shower. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know why I didn’t refuse when she asked me to speak, but I went ahead and delivered a message with a lot of good theology – truths from the Word of God that are precious to me, and that I wholeheartedly affirm.
I actually read again that blog entry this morning, and I just realized that it took a full year for my heart and my emotions to catch up to many of the things that I said that day. I think that talking about suffering and adversity is way easier said that done. God has been definitely been gracious to me in the fact that I have been humbled by going through the pain of losing a baby. Oh, and it was a baby. Let me say that upfront. Please don’t ever try to offer some words of encouragement to any mother by saying, “Well, it was ONLY six weeks old, you know.”
Also, I’ve been coping with memes LOL!
So take my advice, it’s for FREE. If somebody telIs you they lost a baby, no matter how far along she was, either you say, “I’m sorry,” or just try to hug them instead. I am a very reasonable person, so I understand that I can’t compare my suffering to the suffering of a mom who has to go through labor to deliver a stillborn, but my child was created in God’s image, and I yearn for the day when I will be able to hold him or her – to know him or her face to face.
It has been eye-opening, to say the least, how my emotions and my feelings got in the way while dealing with a situation like this. And it’s obvious, right? I needed to grieve!! I just didn’t know what grief was or what to expect. I thought I was sinning by not being content after the miscarriage, like I needed to be joyful and thanking God for it… which, by the way, I do thank God for it. I don’t rejoice in the death of my child, but by God’s grace, I am currently able to say something along the lines of, “God, I wish my baby hadn’t died, but I know this was a gift from you. It still hurts, but I thank you for what you have taught me about Your character and your unfailing love for me during this hard time in my life.”
So I was taken aback with all these feelings, right? Anger, sadness, despair, plus plenty of hormones that had to leave my body, too. Add the fact that I had to go to the doctor to confirm that I was indeed pregnant at some point, and then the questions, and the pokes in your arms. So I bought this book called Learning Contentment by Nancy Wilson. I already said I thought I was sinning because I was super sad all the time. I had three beautiful children, and yes, I had lost a baby, but like, “God has been good to me. Why am I this sad? This is not okay, or is it?”
So in her book, Nancy talks about how many women come to her asking for help in dealing with their discontentment, but as she listens to them, she realizes these women are actually grieving. And then I thought, “Am I grieving? Maybe I am. I don’t even know exactly what that word means.”
Yes, that’s how bad my obliviousness to suffering was 😬
Moving forward, I had zero idea grieving takes hard work, and that as a Christian, although you should grieve in a way that honors God, you nonetheless need to grieve. So I bought yet another book called Grieving by James White. Reading that short and sweet book (you can’t read a treaty that explains your pain, so I think it’s the perfect length) exposed me to the concept of grieving from a Christian perspective for the first time. The only other time I have cried over someone’s death was when my grandpa died. I was 12 years old. However, the dynamic of the family in which I was raised is so foreign to the things that book mentioned, that it is literally a matter of light versus darkness. I could not stop crying over not being able to understand why my grandpa hadn’t taken his chemo medicine when he had promised me that he would. He PROMISED me he would, and yet we found all these pills hidden in his bedroom. The adult in charge of me during the funeral (who honestly was still a child herself) told me, “You need to stop crying, Karla. He’s dead. Your crying won’t bring him back, and he obviously didn’t mean what he said.”
You can’t blame that adult, nor the older adults in charge of raising that adult. Goodness, those adults were never raised in functional homes to begin with, let alone Christian households.
So even though it has been hard to learn to grieve well, I am in awe at how God has been so gracious and so good and so kind to me in shielding me from these things until now. I also know, or at least I hope, that I can be an instrument in His hands to maybe one day being able to comfort others with the same comfort that I have received from my Father in heaven. No one teaches you how to grieve well, there should be a Sunday School Class for that, like a Grieving 101, but BEFORE the tragedy or adversity happens.
So okay, I lost a baby. Let’s keep trying, right?
Recently my OBGYN has politely said that my labs suggest I am entering perimenopause, which is the transition a woman’s body enters before hitting menopause. I can still get pregnant, although it will be very difficult. Again, not impossible, but very difficult. And I get it, you know, I am not in my prime anymore. I am almost forty years old, so this is the beginning of the end for me being able to “Be fruitful and multiply.”
I am about to make a parentheses here. I know the “numbers” in my labs might have been a fluke, or that numbers fluctuate, I get that. But I am almost forty years old. Sure, I may not be that old, but it is a matter of fact – of The Fall – that our bodies decay; and I don’t mean to be morbid here, but in a way, we are all dying. It has definitely been sweet to see people encouraging me by saying I should not resign myself to what the doctor said, or that I need to pray with hope, or that maybe I need to change my diet in order to take care of my body and get my hormones right. I have not taken offense at those comments, I really haven’t; and I have thought about the numbers, you know, I really have. If I came to the hospital with a blood glucose of 300 mg/mL and a A1C of say, 7%, the doctor would absolutely declare me diabetic. Numbers DO mean something. My numbers, although the doctor said they are not set on stone, are a good indicator of how ancient my eggs are LOL!
They “should” be around a value of 1.00 for a woman my age, but mine are 0.015 – lower than the lowest range.
Even with some other comments that have ranged from, “Your baby has wings now,” to “If I couldn’t get pregnant I would think I was cursed,” God has actually worked in my heart, too. I have remembered things that I’ve said to people in the past, and I have had to apologize to some friends for speaking with ZERO compassion. One time I told one of my dearest friends that I was pretty sure God would bless us with babies right away after my husband had his vasectomy reversal, because you know, “I had always been so fertile in the past”. You know what? I had absolutely forgotten that that particular friend had struggled with infertility for years. Ugh… Another time I said to another friend that I refused to take fertility pills because I couldn’t imagine having a child with disabilities. Of course I didn’t mean anything evil! I meant that I could not set my heart on having a child by any means possible knowing that a particular drug could potentially harm said child. But in the process of saying that, I forgot about the fact that my friend has a child with special needs. I’m telling you, that day, when I realized what I had said, I baked a lemon bread, and brought it to her house and asked for forgiveness. She was so sweet, she didn’t even know why I was at her house with bread and apologizing, so I had to go through the shame of telling her what I had said again, and then elaborate on what I actually meant. I felt like such an idiot; this is one of the godliest women I know! How could I have spoken such words without even thinking?! Well, I am a human being, and sometimes – many times – I open my mouth without thinking. So God, using the miscarriage as His instrument, has also taught me to be more compassionate and thoughtful about the suffering of others, as well as the things I say to them; while at the same time helping me to be gracious when people say things to me that might be hurtful, but that I know they probably meant well.
But going back to the numbers and my “diagnosed” infertility… Can God give me life in the womb? Absolutely He can. Will He give me life in the womb if I change my diet or pray with more faith? Not necessarily. This past year has been full of sin in my life, and something that has been very clear to me is that He is God and I am not. He gives life to whomever He wants to give life to. I’ve been exercising constantly, running half-marathons, keeping a healthy diet, precisely because I wanted to get pregnant. But I am done trying to do this or that, so that God does this or that back.
God – not me, not my diet, not my hormones – GOD controls the conception of children. Yes, I do have a responsibility to take care of my body, but at the same time, it is also perfectly fine that I am willing to recognize that my most fertile days are over without wallowing in self-pity (which I have also been guilty of). To be very frank here, if you consider that I was 18 years old when God gave me the gift of life in the womb for the first time, it is amazing to me that twenty years later I became a mom again at the age of 38.
So basically, my husband, as always, was right. I need to trust God, and stop trying to control things: mainly because I can’t. Oh, I would absolutely love to control things if I could. Isn’t that what we all try to do at times? That is precisely why it is a magnificent and marvelous thing that God is God and I am not. I make a terrible god. The LORD does not give His glory to another. I have been so, so proud and so full of myself… I can say without the shadow of a doubt I needed the chastisement of the Lord in my life.
In the words of C.H. Spurgeon, “You will never glory in God till first of all God has killed your glorying in yourself.”
1Then Job answered the Lord and said: 2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ 5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6 therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
If you are still reading, what comes next is just pure details on how the Lord helped me deal with all this. You don’t have to read them all to know the Lord is good, but I do need to write them all – or at least the “short” version (yes, this is the short version)- because I forget often about His goodness, and this is after all, a blog that I began writing so that I remember.
I think it is fair to say that my mind has always been my worst enemy. I am a sinner, but I have a wonderful Savior. I keep a journal of my thoughts and my prayers, and though I am not as consistent as I wish I were, I was recently able to see a pattern. I think being able to read what I had written in the past really helped me to see where I have been sinning for the past two years, or three. It’s not that I didn’t know, you know, but I continued doing the same thing. I did see some change, though. I did pray, and the Lord did change my heart. I did see God’s grace in my life one trial at a time. I DID see it.
The best way I can explain it is by saying that God has helped me see different aspects of His character through the same struggle, if that makes sense. It has been the same struggle for me, for a long time – time and time again, but God keeps showing me mercy. The struggle is this: fear and unbelief. That’s it. So I will try to elaborate on that.
For example, I am terrified of my husband dying, or I was. I am not as afraid as before. God has helped me with that. Now, brace yourself for my selfishness: I am afraid because he is the one who takes care of the finances of the home. I know I’m going to miss him, but I’m more afraid that I won’t be able to mourn him and grieve because I won’t know what to do with insurance policies, and all those things that need to be taken care of. He is amazing with his Excel sheet, and the only time I tried to keep the budget, we were in the red as fast as two days. I am not organized. I have zero idea of what he does with the backyard, when it needs to be fertilized, erosion control, weed control, mulch, trimming the trees, power washing the walls when they go green so the HOA doesn’t call you five times. If the AC dies, I don’t know what to do. These are first world problems. I know. I also know there’s wisdom to be exercised here, and I could be learning all of that before he dies, right?
[I actually had to ask him what are some of the many things he does cause I am clueless].
Over the years, God has also shown me that I’m afraid of not being able to take good care of the resources that would be entrusted to me were my husband to pass away. But my energy and my tears have been spent so much on those dark thoughts, that one day, by God’s grace I thought, “Where does your trust really lie, Karla? What if your husband were not to leave you any money at all? How then would you survive? A widow with two children and zero money? – I had two children at the time.
“Where are you placing your trust? In your husband’s bank account or in the Lord who provides? Even if you knew how to take care of that money and make it grow, you might still lose it all; what would you do then? Would you trust God to keep His promises to never leave you nor forsake you? What if you become homeless? Will you still praise the Lord? Will you be able to say ‘The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be His name’?”
After thinking those things, I realized that I was mainly afraid of my inability to do a good job with the resources that God has entrusted to us. A job like the one my husband has done. I don’t even know how to use Excel, and I mean, I am obviously not my husband. It has made me so angry just to think that were I to die, he would be like, “Okay, children, she’s dead, let’s go buy groceries and keep on plowing through the Math curriculum…”
My husband is so capable and so smart. And I feel like I am not. I actually asked him what he would do before I wrote it down, and he said, “I don’t know, I’d miss you, and I don’t know any of the things that you do with them. I don’t have time for that. I’d probably just tell them, ‘Okay, I need to work. I don’t know what your mother does with you, so do school.'”
This let me know he would figure it out. I have come to the realization that I would need to ask for help. I will need help, at least with some things. And God will help me through His people. I have actually identified that the husband of my dear friend (the one I was a jerk to with my comment about being Fertile Myrtle) is an accountant, and my husband really trusts him, so there’s that. I mean, we are the Body of Christ – the Lord provides you with people to help you, and He is glorified in that. Now, again, there’s wisdom to be exercised, and I’m not looking forward to my husband dying. I don’t have it all figured out, but the Lord has taken that anxiety away from me. He will take care of me. It’s not something that I dwell on anymore as often as I used to do before. Actually I haven’t thought about it in a long time. It was memorizing Scripture and meditating on what I was memorizing that helped me. I memorized Lamentations 3:21-26 .
So, here’s the pattern…
In March 2019, I wrote in my journal that I was very anxious about not knowing what would happen in the future regarding my life. There was this fear that came out of nowhere. Around the same time, I was praying that my husband would agree that we should homeschool the children. He said he needed time to think about it. At the same time, we were in the process of leaving our church over issues that were irreconcilable. Also, my husband was about to get a vasectomy reversal. I guess life was busy LOL!
My husband was not even scheduled for the surgery and I was already afraid of God not giving me babies. I knew I had done things in the past that were unforgivable – I had an abortion at 18. I had joked about not wanting to have more babies. I had despised in my heart the thought of staying home with my children and homeschool them. Of course, God had changed my heart regarding homeschooling, but I knew I had done things. I was not in the Word much. We were attending a mega church, and even though I loved my friends there, I was spiritually starving. I mean, I loved to hear expository sermons online, but there was no real discipleship, or any real life-giving fellowship that I was a part of. My pastor didn’t even know me.
I had the desire to have more babies as soon as my second one was a little bit older, but by then my husband had had a vasectomy because I had told him I was done having children after labor. Labor. You don’t decide things after labor… Anyway, my husband said the insurance didn’t cover the reversal, and that was that. We were selfish. I was selfish. People have different reasons to stop having children. In our case, we were thinking like the world thinks of children.
Now, the story of how God changed my husband’s heart is so sweet that I’m going to write it again. You can also see that the Lord was already working in my fear issues back since I had Danny. I wrote about it in Welcome Home, Danny!
My husband is telling Danny the story of why he got his vasectomy reversed:
On February, 2019, I took a little trip to Singapore and India. While I was there, I took a stroll to the neighborhood where we used to live. We used to spend all our time together when we lived there, and many memories came back. We had a lot of fun, and it was a great place to live. We would see the sunrise and the sunset on most days because we had a terrace in our building. When I was there, I felt so guilty.
I saw Enzo’s videos from when he was two years old, and I remember we were so frustrated because he was disobedient and angry all the time, and tossing things. But now that I looked back, I felt so guilty… he was only two, he was a little boy. I called Mommy, and I told her about it. She said she knew I was feeling guilty, and she read to me Psalm 103.
I guess the Lord had been working in my heart already, but that Psalm and also looking back at Enzo and Libby when they were little, made me think it had been a mistake. It was not the right decision to make on 2012 when I had a vasectomy. We thought, ‘We are done, our family is complete, and we don’t want any more kids. When we are 47, our children will leave the house, and we will be free. We are still young and we will enjoy our lives.‘ But the more and more I read the Scriptures, the more I saw that children are a blessing from the Lord. We were thinking more like the world than biblically.
On the way back from India, I took a 17-hour flight from Doha to Houston, and I sat down next to a mommy with a little girl. That baby was holding my finger, and she reminded me so much of your sister, her big brown eyes, very cute and tender. I felt even more conviction from the Lord. I thought, ‘What did I do? This was a mistake…‘
So upon my return, and after praying more, I scheduled a vasectomy reversal. On May, I had surgery, and we prayed that if indeed it was the Lord’s will, that Mommy would get pregnant, but it was not happening. On January 2020, I traveled again, and we had missed the window, but we tried anyway. The Lord, in his grace and his mercy got Momma pregnant, and nine months later, here you are in my arms. You were supposed to be born today (October 20th), but you were born two weeks earlier because you are big.
You are gorgeous, you are a little angel, and your Daddy loves you very much. And I’m probably gonna make mistakes like I did with Enzo and with Libby, but it’s gonna be mostly your fault.
I love you. I love you, Son.
This is what was in my husband’s mind when he was in India 🙂
I think there’s a lot to unpack in what my husband said because there are no mistakes in God’s plan for our lives. Yes, my husband did have the vasectomy, but that was God’s will for his life. My pastor would say, “Did it happen? If the answer is yes, then that was God’s sovereign plan for your life all along.”
Things get complicated, though, the more you think about these things. There are things that are horrible that have happened through human history, and we need to think about those atrocities from a biblical point of view, without trying to “let God off the hook”. That’s where most Christians cringe. I think, for the most part, Christians feel safe by saying that God allows bad things to happen, and that He works things out for the good of those who love Him. But what I am saying is that I also affirm that God actually ordains those bad things to happen, that He sees to it that those bad things happen, and that the reason they happen is because He planned that they happen. And if this is where I lose you, I understand.
I would hope you would give me a chance to explain what I mean, but it doesn’t take five minutes, you know. I’m going to link some wonderful resources that talk about God’s Sovereignty and God’s Providence, the misunderstandings of it, and how to deal with biblical texts. God is indeed sovereign and omnipotent while at the same time, unchanging and unchangeable, just and loving, merciful and holy.
We have to have categories in our mind that allow us to see God for who He has Himself revealed to be in the Scripture – a God who bring calamity and even ordains sin to happen, without God being evil or the author of evil. Those things are true at the same time, and there’s a lot of tension with that, but the Bible teaches both are true.
LBCF 1689 – Chapter III. Of God’s Decree
Paragraph 1 God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass;1 yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein;2 nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established;3 in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.4
I have come to a better grasp of these truths through the sermons that I will link at the end. My pastor has spent a lot of time going through the London Baptist Confession of Faith 1689, laboring Chapter after Chapter, Paragraph after Paragraph. He has showed the congregation where these truths are found in the Bible. We are a confessional church, and so we believe what we believe because it’s in the Bible, and my pastor has been faithful in preaching God’s Word.
I’ve had to ask myself, “Do I really believe this? Do I really affirm this? I’ve seen it in the Scriptures, but will I submit to it – pain and all?”
You know, it’s easy to affirm God is sovereign when your life is pink, but is He sovereign when you wake up, and see your bed stained with blood? Will I affirm that He ordained my miscarriage would happen from before the foundation of the world, for His glory and for my good? I can tell you something straight: it doesn’t FEEL good!! The death of my child was NOT good! My dreams died. I will never be able to hold that baby, or hug him, or kiss him until the day I die. The only memory of him that I have is that last Easter I was pregnant, and I took a picture with Danny because I was so happy. I was wearing a blue skirt. For the next several months, I would go into my closet and cry every time I saw that skirt. I hated that stupid blue skirt. I hated death. I hated going to church because I would cry with every single hymn, and with every single sermon.
Why did I take that pregnancy test so early? If I had waited, I would have never known I was pregnant, and I would have thought the bleeding was only another very heavy period – like the ones I’ve had in the past. I know God is near to the broken-hearted, but I was in so much pain. I didn’t really feel Him near for some time, and when I would see a little bit of light, the emotions would come at me again, and kick me in the gut. Then it was horrible all over again for a while.
James White writes, “If He [God] is control (and He is), then the change in my life came from His hand. And I don’t like this change. I’m angry, and yes, I’m angry with God.”
This is the perfect break for a meme.
My husband has always being super chill about God’s will. As you read in what he told Danny, he really had the vasectomy to go back to his “natural” state. He never had it because he knew God would give us more children. He wanted to honor God in what he felt God’s conviction was about. I was not as chill, though. Even back then, the OBGYN had suggested I began taking some medicine to ovulate since I was really not that young anymore, but my husband refused. He didn’t want anything or anyone intervening whatsoever. He wanted God to receive all the glory. That made me angry. Anyways, I did not conceive until nine months later, and that, when it was the least likely of times. I was tired of trying, and I literally was done. But he wanted to try and we did. And God granted me conception that month – the month I didn’t want to try. The month I had given up trying.
Looking at my journal I can also see there has always been this fear of asking God to give me good things. The things that are big and unthinkable, things that are almost impossible… I am afraid of asking for those because I am afraid He will say NO. I know I don’t deserve them, so I assume He will deny them. And to be honest, I think God is changing that in me, too. When I began to understand the Doctrines of Grace, I was so terrified about my children’s salvation because I knew I had no control over it, neither did my children. I had seen these truths in the Bile, and I had come to terms with them, but I didn’t like them at all at the beginning. You know that cage-stage? It happened to me LOL!
But over time, I began to see that those doctrines are the sweetest to live by, because Christ really loved me to the uttermost. To be so radically depraved as to reject Him, and that He went through the death that He went through – in order to give me life? I am confident that He will glorify Himself either in the salvation of my children or He will exercise His justice were they to reject Him. I am at peace with that, because I have learned and seen these truths in the Scriptures. And so the confusion and misunderstandings of those doctrines are gone, because while I am NOT in control of their salvation (that is God’s sovereign choice) I know I I DO have a role to play: I can pray and I can share Christ with them.
My prayers for my children and my sharing of the gospel are the means by which the Lord will save them – if that is His will of decree. His revealed will for me in this particular case is that I pray and share the gospel. If I don’t pray for things to happen, then they won’t happen, and if God has ordained that they get saved because my pastor preached a sermon (among other things), then that sermon HAS to be preached, and on and on we go.
Think about when Paul was in the ship and everybody was going crazy, and he told them they had to stay in the boat. God would save them all, but they needed to stay. Had they jumped, they would have not been saved, but they stayed because that’s what God had ordained to happen, and so it happened. And they were all saved. I hope I’m not losing you.
I really hope you listen to those sermons from my pastor, specially when he talks about how God exercises His sovereignty in the works of Providence, and what he talks about secondary causes. I have come to see that my miscarriage was indeed a gift. Not the death of the baby, but yeah, the pain and the loss. God is not rejoicing over that, but He did ordained my sanctification. He is committed to make me like Christ, and I had always been afraid of that because I know that it has been granted to me not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29). I know sanctification involves suffering. I didn’t want to suffer.
I have always asked, “What if this, what if that? What if Emerson dies? What if I never get pregnant? What if I do get pregnant, and then the baby dies?”
And so the whole pregnancy with Danny, I was so afraid of losing him, that I began memorizing Scripture like never before. Every morning I would go on a 2-mile walk, and I would cry my eyes out. Somehow the Lord had opened my eyes to the fact that the godliest people suffer, that sanctification usually happened through suffering. I was already struggling with fear even before I was pregnant. During the nine months that we were trying to have Danny, I had already memorized Habakkuk 3, the last verses when he praises the Lord even though there is no fruit on the vines, and the field produces no fruit.
I was trying to set my heart on God, not on a baby. So I know that Danny was not given to me because somehow I had this amazing faith… I am an over-thinker, I know, but thinking helps me figure things out. So I already shared with you that I was afraid of asking God for good things because I know I don’t deserve them, so I assumed He won’t give them to me. But doesn’t that mean or reveal that I have this underlying false assumption that the things he DOES give me, He gives them to me because somehow I DO deserve them? And honestly, this would not be an uncommon pattern of thinking for me because I was raised in a very works-based fashion. I had to earn approval and love. I have always struggled with my view of God as a Father who loves me and takes care fo me, regardless of what I do for Him. I have had to work very hard at believing HIM and trusting HIM when He says that He loves me for who I am in Christ.
So when I had Danny in my uterus, I was still asking the Lord to help me set my heart on Him – not on Danny. And the whole pregnancy, I was so afraid of losing Danny. Then Danny was born, and I was struggling with breastfeeding, and I thought he would starve to death. But these fears were unfounded; he was not starving, of course. It was just me being fearful.
Goodness, there was a time in my life when I lost like ten pounds just because I was so anxious about dying. Back then, my husband was not really being the spiritual leader in our home, and I was terrified that if I died, he would not teach the children the Bible. Do you have any idea of how many hours of my life have been wasted by crying and worrying over things I have no control over, and most of those things – basically all of them – have never come to pass? (Miscarrying has been the only one that did happen).
So the pattern that kept showing in my journal is that of fear and repentance. Fear and repentance. Fear and repentance. Through Danny’s pregnancy, the Lord did showed me how much He loved me. I knew that, of course, but the experience of His love was so sweet. I felt so blessed that He would give me a baby! A baby at 38 years old!
And I cried at the hospital because for one, I was full of hormones; two, I had a long and painful labor; and three, I realized how unfaithful I had been with Him. Why did I worry so much? Why didn’t I trust Him that He would care for me and for this child that He gave me? And my answer would be that I didn’t know Danny would be healthy, or that I couldn’t presume that things would turn out right. I am always anxious about something, and that hasn’t been the best way to live. It is awful.
Reading my journal and seeing the same sinful patterns before the pregnancy with Danny, during the pregnancy with Danny, the miscarriage and now the wait for another baby – even the potential scenario in which Danny is my last child – has helped me see that I am always trying to pry into God’s secret will. His will of decree. His revealed will is that I read my Bible, that I love my neighbor, that I pray, that I don’t lie, that I don’t lust, etc. But it is NONE of my business to try to figure out how my life will turn out. So when I can’t figure it out, when I can’t know whether it would go well with me or not – and I always presume it won’t go well – I always despair, and then I fear, and then I go full corrupt with unbelief.
I mean, is that crazy or what?
The cold truth is that I haven’t FULLY trust God. And I know that’s not a fair assessment of my faith, I have trusted Him at times – fully. I don’t think my faith has to be perfect, because no one’s faith is perfect. The object of my faith is Christ, and I have trusted in Him for the forgiveness of my sin. I know I am saved, but I cannot wait to get rid of this body of death, and being able to never sin again. I look forward to being with Christ more and more as the years go by. I’m not looking forward to dying and leaving my children as orphans in this world, but I hope you see what I mean.
God has been working in my heart, in His most holy and wisest of ways, to make me love Him more. My faith and my trust in Him has deepened through this trial, in ways I can only try to explain. It’s as if He is wooing me. He has been working in my heart to make me trust Him more. And that has been so sweet, and comforting, and tender. He doesn’t afflict me because He hates me, He afflicts me because He loves me. He does afflict, but He doesn’t afflict me from His heart – that is a big difference (Lamentation 3:33).
He wants me to be like His Son. He has promised me that He will make me like His Son (Romans 8:29). And the death of my child has been so sad, but at the same time it has been one of the biggest blessings in my life, because I have seen how my God, my Savior, has taken care of my soul. He has made me identify with His Son in His sufferings. The Lord Jesus Christ asked for the cup of God’s wrath to be taken away, and The Father said NO – for my sake. For my sake. God brought many sons to glory through the death of Christ, and Christ endured His cross for the joy that was set before Him. He did that for me.
God has showed me and exposed in me so many faulty assumptions I had about His character. I knew things about Him in my theological head, but many of those things needed to click in my heart. I am not saying theology is not necessary. I can only imagine someone saying, “See, that’s why I don’t like theology and doctrine”. Yeah, well, you need good theology to properly worship God. The goal of theology is doxology.
I cannot wait for Easter Sunday. It is this Sunday. My child died on April 7th, so the anniversary is behind me. But I can’t wait to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ because He died for me, He loved me and He gave Himself for me. If my righteousness came through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. He is so compassionate and abounding in steadfast love, He is merciful and forgives my trespasses. It has been good for me to wait for the salvation of YWHW. He is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks Him. His mercies are new every morning, they truly never come to an end.
Okay, so, get this. The other day I was running, and I began sobbing. I was listening to when Jesus teaches that God is a good Father who will not give His children a snake when they ask for a fish. Grief does weird things to you. I began sobbing because I’ve been asking for a baby all this year, and nothing is happening. For all I know my womb is dead. And I told him through my tears that I needed to help me believe that he was at work in this, somehow. I know the miscarriage was his plan. But I have also felt like hearing about my fertility was another loss on top of the loss. I knew this was not a serpent, although it felt like one, but I believe the Scriptures, and He doesn’t give bad things to His children. I was so tired of asking, so tired of waiting, so tired of persevering. I just wanted to quit, you know? It would just be easier if He would tell me I’m not going to be a mother ever again. You know what the saddest thing is? That is something I have told him once before – when I was trying to get pregnant with Danny.
So I was sobbing, and I was going faster, and faster… I cried out, “The steadfast love of YHWH never ceases, your mercies never come to and end, right? Your mercies are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. Where? Where are the mercies, help me see them because I don’t see them!”
Ugh… then some days later I am walking with Danny, and it’s a beautiful morning and the sun is still shinning, and I am alive, and I get to talk to God. I get to approach the Creator of the universe because of what Christ did for me on the cross. God has kept me. He has tested my faith, but He has been so good to me in this trial. Goodness… every time I go for a run – literally – He upholds the beating of my heart by the word of His power. I am not that morbid, but I have thought sometimes, “What would ever happen if God said to my heart, ‘Stop beating’ while I’m running and pushing the stroller?”
How is the fact that I’m still breathing not an every-day mercy?
This year I have felt the full weight of this Paragraph.
LBCF 1689 – Chapter V. Of Providence
Paragraph 5 The perfectly wise, righteous, and gracious God often allows his own children for a time to experience a variety of temptations and the sinfulness of their own hearts. He does this to chastise them for their former sins or to make them aware of the hidden strength of the corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts so that they may be humbled. He also does this to lead them to a closer and more constant dependence on him to sustain them, to make them more cautious about all future circumstances that may lead to sin, and for other just and holy purposes.15 So whatever happens to any of his elect happens by his appointment, for his glory, and for their good.16
Let me tell you, my heart is DAAAAAAARK. My heart has lied to me, my heart has set me against my God, and against the people of God whom I love. My heart is deceitful and so full of sin. And my God is so, so good.
I think we are almost done… I don’t have many more things to say. I originally wanted to type basically every single thing that I have underlined in every book I have read, but I’ll skip it, this has been long enough already. So the book on grief talks about stages and how you will go through them, more of less, all of them in different patterns. And you need to work through those stages, not ignore them, otherwise you will only delay healing. You will fall into destructive patterns of behavior or coping mechanisms that will just not allow you to heal. I think I went through all of those just fine, they would come and go.
I think my healing was delayed as long as it was because I had no idea how to go through the grief. I mean, I had to buy a book, and the book doesn’t tell you exactly how to deal with those things. It tells you what will happen, and that those feelings are normal and to be expected, but it is not like there’s someone counseling you, you know?
I don’t know, I have my dearest friend who always heard me cry, having gone through several miscarriages herself. But after a while, I kind of felt bad, you know, like I had to move on, and not bother her anymore. But that’s the thing with grief – it’s different with everybody. Also, most of the time I felt unthankful for not being joyful about the children God had given me, instead of focusing so much on the one He had taken away. It was okay to be sad. My baby died.
So anyway, I reread the book on grief in order to write this blog, and it said, “Hope accepts the promises of God and trusts in Him. That is the means of your deliverance.”
When I read that, I was like, “I just got there last week. I have arrived at HOPE. A full year in, and by God’s grace, I’ve made it. I’m there. God did it.”
Now, how did God make this happen exactly? I will tell you what… It was a full year of sadness, and crying, and anger, and praying for things I didn’t even know if they were the right things to pray for, but I hope to give some insight. I need to put all these thoughts into writing, but before I do that, the book DID say you have to deal with all those feelings. And I know now that the feeling I was holding onto was my anger.
I was angry at God. I know not all people are the same, but if anybody tells you they are not angry at God in some way after the death of someone they deeply loved, they are most likely lying. I had misconceptions about God’s Sovereignty. Actually, I knew what it meant. I knew what I believed. I just hated the fact that His sovereignty had touched me. What a depraved little heart I have… to be so full of pride that I somehow felt it was not okay for this to happen to me. One never really thinks or even expects this would happen to them.
The book said that if you don’t deal with those emotions, you will fall into a pattern of behaviors that will only delay your healing – destructive coping mechanisms, in some cases. You will express those feelings somehow. Just recently, I realized that I was expressing my anger via memes. I delayed dealing with my anger because of all the misconception and faulty assumptions I had regarding God’s character. Also my heart lied to me, and my emotions lied to me.
Now, my memes… I have always liked memes, but I did get into a pattern of ugly memes. I was angry, and I was making memes to make people angry, and you know what? I loved it for a while. But the Lord began showing me this was not okay, and I stopped full turkey. I left the Facebook group I was a part of.
I thought it was not a big deal that I was making these memes, they were not in any way offensive or inappropriate, they would just make people upset at times. Then I heard my pastor preach a couple of weeks ago on the wrath of God, and I thought, “What have I been spending most of my time with? What worthy things for the Kingdom have I been doing all this year, other than moping about the miscarriage and my infertility? I mean, sure, I’ve been homeschooling my children and serving my church, but will the Lord be pleased with the other things I do?”
I kid you not, my Facebook meme group came to my mind in a second. I knew I had to leave it. And I tried to leave a couple of times, and I couldn’t get myself to click the Leave Group button. I loved that group too much. But then when I spent the whole afternoon not being able to click the Leave Group button, I realized I really needed to leave. It was actually hard. I breathed in and out, counted to three, and clicked the button. And that was that. Honestly, I think that was obedience to the Lord. And I am not saying my obedience was the key to my healing – God healed me – but I think obedience played a huge role in that. And we know that whatever I do, it is really the Lord bringing that about in me (Philippians 2:13).
After I left the group (no more than two weeks ago), I began listening to my pastor preach the sermons I’m linking to. I almost found those sermons by accident, but we know there are no accidents in God’s Providence.
My pastor’s words also healed my heart in a way. You don’t know my pastor, but he is the best pastor. He has seen me from the pulpit straight into the eyes when he knows I’m crying, and he keeps on preaching Christ. He knows what I’m going through, and he asks me how I am doing when he knows I am not doing okay. And yet he doesn’t shrink from declaring to me the whole counsel of God. He just preached last week an amazing sermon on how God is in charge of our pain, and it was so comforting to my soul because it is the first time I hear those words and I don’t recoil at them. I am not angry at them anymore. I embrace them. I was actually so happy during the service. I knew God wanted me to hear that. I will link to that sermon too, and I will end this blog with some of those words.
I had no meme group anymore, so hearing my pastor preach online helped me buy another book called Trusting God Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges. I read that book in almost three days. I was underlining everything, and things were just coming together, one after another. All those passages I’ve had been memorizing for years, Habakkuk 3, Lamentations 3, Romans 8. It’s like scales began falling from my eyes. I don’t know how else to describe it, but like, I went from disbelief to belief. It was like I saw God’s Word anew. It came alive and I believed it. It was not me, though, I know it was God’s grace that made that happen. It was as if the Lord had made me learn all those things before, and memorize all those passages before, and then He made me flesh them out in my soul for a full year.
This may sound obvious, but the book said that God’s sovereignty is exercised primarily for His glory, but because I am in Christ, His glory and my good are linked together. Because I am united with Christ, whatever is for His glory is also for my good. This is a promise that only believers in Christ have. I had, somehow, disconnected those truths from my heart. I thought Him to be harsh and distant. I was angry. The book also addressed so many questions and thoughts I had, thoughts I had kept hidden. It mentioned that the more we come to believe God’s sovereignty in our lives, the more we are tempted to doubt His love and question His goodness. Not only that, but that Satan will also plant the thought in our minds that God is up in heaven mocking us in our distress. That was refreshing to hear. You have no idea how refreshing. So far I’ve seen four women announcing their pregnancies in my church in the last six months. I love these women, and I am learning to rejoice with those who rejoice. I also, however, felt the sting in my heart as if God were parading these pregnant bellies in front of my face, like a rich man parades a piece of bread in front of a poor man who’s starving. And the poor man says, “May I have some of that bread, sir? I have come to believe you are truly the Only One who can give it to me.” But the rich man, scoffing at the poor man, says, “Of course, not.”
So to read that, to read those temptations are a reality, and very likely have been experienced by someone else like the author, made me rejoice in God. And I repented for allowing my pain to cause me to harbor hard thoughts about God.
I even wrote, “Thank you!” next to that paragraph in page 136. It was that refreshing to read.
The book also helped me to see that I could not let my emotions hold sway over my mind. I had to reason through the Scriptures even when my heart ached. It also challenged my thinking that I should not aim for the pain to be gone. My duty and first priority was to glorify God, and to honor Him by trusting Him in the midst of adversity. The book showed me that trusting God was not a matter of my feelings, but rather a matter of my will. God’s honor should take precedence over my feelings.
I think the sweetest part was that it encouraged me to pray. And when I say that, I mean that I will continue to pray, not for the Lord to take away the pain (it still hurts), but for the Lord to grant me the desires of my heart as I delight in Him. This year has been so crappy. I’ve read psalm after psalm, and the psalmists never allowed their whys to drag on – they always ended up rejoicing in God’s salvation. Like, everything is about God’s salvation, not about getting what they want or getting out of trouble. And I could not understand how they did that. All these verses and passages I read talk about God’s goodness for those who wait for Him, but all this year I did not know what I was waiting for. What had I been waiting for exactly?
Should I keep on praying and waiting for a baby? Should I pray for the Lord to take away the desire for a baby? Should I keep on waiting for deliverance? Deliverance from what? From the pain, from the “infertility”? I even asked my pastor, “What am I supposed to do? When do you call it quits because God is not answering?”
Once again, the book encouraged me to pray and to trust God’s sovereignty, without falling into this pious fatalism that I am prone to: I don’t know what will happen, therefore I despair, then I fear, then I go full-corrupt with unbelief. Habakkuk 3 ends in hope. Lamentations 3 ends in hope. Jeremiah remembered, he literally brings to mind that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, and that His mercies never come to an end, and he ends up saying that it is good to wait for the salvation of YHWH. They are trusting God to fulfill His promises to them; promises that are beyond this earth. Suffering makes you see beyond what is temporary, and helps you set your eyes on what is invisible and eternal.
I am not saying this has not been hard, but it has really been but a light momentary affliction that is preparing for me an eternal weight of glory that is beyond all comparison. This suffering will produce eternal glory for me. I believe it will because I have believed God, and He has promised that. It has weaned me from the world, it has purified my heart by breaking off from me the sins on account of which God afflicted me, it has disposed me to look for God to console me and support me in my trails. He has promised to reward me for this suffering as I live it in faith. As Isaiah 48:10 says, “Behold, I have refined you , but not as silver. I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.”
So I went on a run the other day with Danny and I I was listening to the book of Luke. I had read the night before everything I just said about prayer, and how I have noticed that I quit, that I get discouraged and I stop. I quit when I don’t see the Lord answer my prayer in what I think should be “my” timing. And what do you know? I heard the Parable of the Persistent Widow, and it starts like this, “And he [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.”
I seriously had to listen to that sentence over and over again. It is my duty to always prays and not lose heart. This is His revealed will for me: that I always pray and not lose heart. I repented for not doing that. I don’t know what God is going to do with my obedience, but I need to obey. He gave me the desire to obey, and I will pray for me to delight in Him. That is my priority right now: to delight in Him.
How futile and even arrogant for us to seek to determine what God is doing in a particular event or circumstance. We simply cannot search out the reasons behind His decisions or trace out the ways by which He brings those decisions to pass. If we are to honor God by trusting Him, and if we are to find peace for ourselves, we must come to the place where we can honestly say, ‘God, I do not have to understand. I will just trust you.’
Trusting God by Jerry Bridges
I have repented of not delighting in God. I have been delighting in other things, but not in Him. Those other things were but broken cisterns that could not hold any water. After reading that book (it really was just a couple of days that I finished reading it), I went to bed, and the next day, I felt… free. God delivered me from my affliction. I DO want God to give me the desires of my heart, but I am not about to vulgarise that great promise.
I have seen the above quote being fleshed out in my life and heart this year. When I looked at Danny during pregnancy and even after that, I was so afraid of losing him. And now I delight in him, but it is different. I am actually delighting in the Giver of Danny. Of course, there is a sense in which I also delight in Danny, and he is so full of life, that I love seeing him every day. But I have learned not to fear losing Danny, and this has been God’s doing. That’s why I am not as afraid as I was before, if my husband were to die. Those thoughts and temptations come at times, but I have been fighting them better. This year God has shown me that my only true hope, and the only true anchor of my sou is Him.
My heart is so full of joy and happiness, like it hadn’t been in a very long time. I had felt so thirsty for Him; this year has been so hard. I know it is His grace, not anything I did. I am so happy I am not pregnant right now, because I know my joy is in Him – not in a baby. This year, I made motherhood an idol in my heart. I still hope He blesses me and grows my family, but He has taught me to say that He is my portion. I will hope in Him.
So I went on a run the other day – I’ve been running a lot – and I heard Psalm 116. I had never been so pumped while listening to a psalm LOL! I can tell the psalmist had issues going on, and I was l like, “Me, too, Brother. Me too.” I have experienced what he was talking about, and it’s not something that I would recommend, but suffering really helps you appreciate the inspired psalmists and their writings.
1I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. 2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.
He heard me. He heard me cry for mercy all this year. I will call on Him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. 4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!”
This year I have felt sorrow that I had never felt before. My bones were in anguish and at times I did feel death, in a way, entangling me. There were so many nights that I would cry quietly in my bed.
5 The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. 6 The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.
AMEN. He is full of compassion. He brought me low, and He has saved me.
8 For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, 9 that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
10 I trusted in the Lord when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”; 11 in my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.”
12 What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?
He has delivered me from death so I may walk before Him in the land of the living. What can I render to Him for His goodness to me? Nothing!
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. 14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
I will lift up the cup of salvation and glory in His name. I will gladly receive His mercy to me.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. 16 Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. 18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, 19 in the courts of the house of the Lord— in your midst, Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord.
I don’t know what else to say. I have literally exhausted my brain LOL!
God is so good to me. That’s all I’ve been saying lately to my children for the past four days. He has told the rod of my affliction to stop, and it stopped. Oh, my pastor had no idea how happy I was when he was preaching this last week.
When we believe God’s revelation, it will cause us to lean on Him, instead of leaning on what seems visibly powerful. In Isaiah’s day, it was Assyria. Don’t put your hope today in wealth, when you know the One who gives wealth… Friends, the Sovereign Lord says to the rod, ‘That’s enough, this is where you stop.’ And let me tell you something, friend, just like He limited Assyria, the Sovereign Lord says that to the rod in your life, ‘This far is what I intend, and no more.’
Even in His chastening, God shows mercy. He is so good. I am just overwhelmed by His wisdom, His fatherly care, even when He wields the rod. He doesn’t wish any more suffering in His people that is necessary for their sanctification, and whatever His tool, whatever His instrument, whatever that messenger of Satan sent to harass you, and drive you to humble dependance upon the Lord, your loving heavenly Father is just waiting to say, ‘Enough. Your work is done. My servant is purified. He’s cleansed, he’s learned, he’s grown. He’s cast his hope on Me, and not on the powers that be.’
Friend, trust His wisdom. Trust His heart. Trust His Sovereignty. Kiss the rod. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.
I wanted to go straight after the sermon and give him a hug, and tell him, “He stopped. You know how I was waiting for something to happen? Well, I’m not pregnant, but the Lord heard my cry, and He delivered me! I believe His plan is good for me, I know He will fulfill His promises to me. I know He loves me. I know He is near me!”.
But I was also so close to the beginning of the line for lunch, that I chose lunch LOL!
The book on grieving said this, “God is doing something in our lives, trials and difficulties are the fire that He uses to bring our impurities to the surface. But what does the goldsmith do after removing the first impurities that appear? Does he stop? No, he makes the fire even hotter, bringing up the next level of impurities. The process continues on, each time requiring more and more heat.”
I read that as I was preparing this blog, and I was like, “Oh, no, who’s gonna die next?” And then, I laughed, not because I rejoice in death or find it funny, but because that is the kind of thought that entangles my mind. I know He wants me to be more like Christ, so my trials will only get more and more difficult. I know this, then I despair, then I fear, and I go full-corrupt to unbelief. But this time, I was able to laugh, and rejoice in my Savior. And I don’t look at suffering in the face and say, “Bring it on.” That would be stupid and arrogant and proud. But I trust my Shepherd. He will guide me through whatever valley He choses to lead me to. He is good. I am not going to pry into His secret will – that is HIS. My duty is to trust Him, and obey Him as He leads me.
I’m done. It took me almost three days of full-time writing. I literally abandoned my baby to the mercy of YouTube nursery rhymes for one full day, maybe two. But my heart is so full.
There is a happy ending. My dear friend who has struggled with infertility just had her third baby this Thanksgiving. My baby would have been born around the same time. We had dinner with them a day after the anniversary of my baby’s passing. I told her I was going to try to hold it together, but that I had no idea how I would respond. I had no idea what emotions I would feel when I hold this baby in my arms, so I asked for grace in case I cried. She was sweet and told me I didn’t have to keep it together for her.
So we went. I saw the baby. He is so chubby and cute. I had to make a conscious effort to ask for him, but when I held him in my arms there was no sadness at all in my heart. No bitterness. No anger. No despair. No envy. No covetousness. No emptiness. No anxiety. I DID NOT SIN. When I carried him, I was overwhelmed with joy. I didn’t cry, and I didn’t even had to hold back the tears because there were none. I was happy.
That evening I saw my three children playing together with her three children. The house was full. I realized that God, in His goodness, has set my heart straight. I don’t idolize a pregnancy anymore, and that is yet another mercy. God set me free, which has enabled me to pray for His will to be done. I still have the desire to have more children, but the Lord has purified my motives. I rejoice in children because they bear the image of God, they are cute, and I want to train them in the ways of the Lord. So yes, I want to have more babies, and I hope one of these days He says YES!!
But even if I never get to call a baby my own anymore, I will rejoice in the Lord. I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength. He makes my feet like the deer’s. He makes me tread on my high places.
Hearing Jesus speak into your Sorrow by Nancy Guthrie. Personally I didn’t even finish this one, cause I cringed at how she would talk, almost pretending to talk like Jesus. It reminded me of the heresy of Jesus Calling. However, I have seen Nancy being recommended by Costi Hinn. I am not saying she’s doctrinally in error. I just didn’t feel comfortable with the book – that’s all.
Mysterious Ways by David Kingdon. This is a book on Providence in the life of Joseph. I haven’t read it. I got it at a conference. I think it will most likely make more sense now, maybe not so much if I had read it when I was full into the saddest moments.
Jeremiah and Lamentations by Philip Graham Ryken. This is a commentary. I haven’t finished it, but the section on Lamentations has been very helpful to me.
Providence by John Piper. I have not read it. I just found out about this book last week, and it’s seven hundred pages. I am intending to buy it, though. I am linking a video with john Piper explaining all that the book contains.
Doctrine of the Providence of God by John Piper. He starts with the story of Ruth and how the Lord gave her conception so he obviously had my attention. This is part 1. There are ten parts in this series. If you click in the link, YouTube will show you all the remaining parts.
I have been learning about trials, and how they relate to the Lord’s discipline. I know God is using trials in my life as of late. The following text comes from the book of Hebrews 12:3-12.
3 Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,
13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed
I hope that by the end of this post, you might see how God uses His hand of discipline in motherhood. Of course, as in all my writing, I am talking to myself here. I need to process my thoughts.
Personally, I always thought of this section in the book of Hebrews as talking about the trials and persecutions that come from living the Christian life, and that is certainly the context in this epistle. These believers are facing intense persecution, and some are not even willing to gather with the church anymore (Hebrews 10:25).
I guess I had always associated the word discipline as something negative, as something that yes, you have to endure, as verse 7 says.
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
The Lord loves you, and He is your Father, therefore He will discipline you – like a spiritual spanking of sorts – to grow you in holiness. That is also what verse 10 says.
10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
God does this because we ARE legitimate children, and He is treating us as sons. So in my head, I think I thought, “You may not like the discipline, but it is good for you, so… you are gonna have to suck it up, Buttercup.”
But I was wrong in considering discipline as only trials and persecutions, and bad providences. Particularly bad providences. I saw those as the Lord getting even with me. You know, I KNOW God’s wrath has been spent on Christ on my behalf, but I mean, what if the Lord considered it wise to bring some suffering my way in order to make me holy? Or what if I actually sinned in such way that the Lord chastised me with bad providences in order to get my attention? That is not at all unbiblical. It happened in the life of David as a result of his adultery with Bathsheba. Their first baby died as a direct consequence of their sin.
Maybe I did do something wrong or thought some things about the Lord that I shouldn’t have, and therefore I am experiencing what I am experiencing as a result. Honestly, though, if the Lord got even with me for every moment I don’t worship Him or think highly enough of Him as He truly deservers, I would be dead. Like DEAD.
The trials in my life lately have taught me to trust the Lord completely. I have put down the guard that unconsciously had developed in my heart. I know God does not afflict me from His heart (Lamentations 3: 33). He does bring suffering directly and indirectly – I can see that clearly in the Scriptures – but it is never as revenge or to get even. He brings suffering into my life because He loves me. He cares for me. And to the world of unbelievers, that makes no sense at ALL.
And I also think some believers recoil at the idea of a God who from all eternity decreed everything that occurs, without reference to anything outside himself; that He did this by the perfectly wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, and yet God did this in such a way that He is neither the author of sin nor has fellowship with any in their sin – THAT GOD is almost a monster in their minds. But I cannot see it any other way. It would be terrifying to have it any other way. I know that God declares the end from the beginning, and that He accomplishes His purpose – even in my pain (Isaiah 46:10).
Job knew this. He knew the LORD gave, and the LORD took it away. He still blessed the LORD (Job 1:21). Job knew he was receiving evil – really bad life circumstances – from the LORD (Job 2:10, 42:11). I could say the same about Joseph, all his sufferings had a purpose. Some of the sweetest and most humble and gracious people that I know – that I aspire to be like – have suffered a great deal. Ever since I was pregnant with Danny, it’s like I was on alert. I was thinking, “When will it be my turn to experience some suffering?” I have never suffered for my faith, and God has been so good to me, that you know, I was like, “What are you going to do next, Lord? Are you going to take this baby away? Are you going to take my husband away? Are you going to allow cancer to invade my body? What are you going to do? I need suffering, and it’s like I know it might come sooner or later…”
Elizabeth Elliot is so gracious, I think, in her definition of suffering. She defines it as having what you don’t want or wanting what you don’t have. I call it gracious because in my opinion it allows for a lot of first world problems. She experienced my worst fear times three – she lost three husbands. So when I read her book, Suffering Is Never For Nothing, I think I have never really suffered. But Elizabeth herself says she had not suffered like others had. She once knew a mother whose four year-old had spina bifida, and some tests revealed that the child that she was pregnant with would also have spina bifida. Nancy Guthrie lost her six month-old daughter due to a metabolic disorder. Her husband got a vasectomy, but the procedure reversed itself, and their second son also died when he was six months old due to the same metabolic disorder.
I can’t imagine having to bury two children one after another. I can’t imagine burying my husband. But I also suffer. My suffering might look different than theirs, but it is the suffering that God ordained for my life. And I am not confused. God is good. It just hurts, and it is okay that it hurts. There are situations in my life that I would have never chosen to go through, but it is precisely those that God is using for my ultimate blessing.
Regardless of the many reasons for my suffering, I think this has helped me realize that God is close to the broken-hearted. Just as God ordained the death of Lazarus for the glory of God (John 11:4), Jesus also was deeply moved and greatly troubled. He suffered with them (John 11:33). God can bring suffering directly and suffer with you. It is not either/or, it is both/and.
In my sadness I have discovered a new face of God that I had never seen, and it is a sweet face. I have not blamed Him or get angry with Him, if anything I am angry at sin, and death. Death should not be part of this world, but somehow it is. Sin has destroyed everything, and I find myself longing for heaven in ways that I had never done before.
I think that was a long background for what I was trying to say: suffering is not necessarily always a direct result of wrong-doing. And I think I always associated the word discipline with bad consequences. But my pastor taught me the other day that discipline, really, involves the whole act of training up a child in the ways of the Lord.
Discipline involves the rearing of a child, the training up, the instruction, the rebuke, and yes, the chastisement. In a word, discipline is the proper instruction that trains someone to reach full development – full maturity. It involves much of what we think for the purpose of education.
That’s what we do with our little ones, right? We spank them, but not only that. We correct them, we encourage them, we love them, we educate them in the Lord- because we want them to be spiritually mature. So with this in mind, I want to encourage you today, and again, I’m talking to myself here… Where is God putting His finger in your life today?
You may not have children yet, or maybe you are en empty-nester. You may have never had children, but if you are God’s child, He is disciplining you. He is always training you.
Behind every tear we have shed for our little ones when we see them in pain,
Or behind every prayer that we have prayed so that the Lord will bring them to Himself,
Or behind the sleepless nights when they are sick at the hospital,
Or behind the infertility or the many miscarriages,
Behind the exhaustion of potty training, or changing the diaper for the 20th time a day,
Or behind our children’s disrespect, or their sinful choices as adults…
Behind all that, God is training us to achieve full maturity as His children. He is training us through our present circumstances -whatever they might be – to fully become what He wants us to be. And what is that exactly? What does God want to achieve in us?
Ephesians 1:4 says He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him. That’s exactly what Hebrews 12:10 says, He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
Romans 8: 28-29 says He works all things for the good of those who – what? Those who love Him – for those who have been called according to His purpose. And those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to – what? To the image of His Son. He is making us more and more like Christ. Becoming like Christ involves going through the Lord’s discipline.
Now, I don’t know all the details of your life, there are great joys in motherhood. Nursing, your baby giggling for the first time, your child walking, or your children actually playing with one another. Sometimes we take those for granted, don’t we? I know I do. So enjoy those great moments. Cherish them and praise the Lord every morning for them. Thank Him. Make a habit or remembering the goodness and mercy of God.
Where is God putting His finger in your life today?
But temptations to be forgetful will come specially when things are not going that well. So like I said at the very beginning of Hebrews 12:3, Consider Him, who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Whatever season it is that you are in, do not take His discipline lightly, or despise it, as Hebrews 12:5 says. You see, the writer of Hebrews is quoting from Proverbs 3:11-12. I think the danger with discipline is that when we are going through it, we might either take it lightly (we might despise it/hate it), or we actually may become so discouraged that we will feel that we cannot go on. We might become weary.
And I also think that’s why the author of Hebrews gives us in Hebrews 12:6 (that accords to Proverbs 3:12) the reason to persevere. The reason we are able to endure is not because we Suck it, up buttercup. The reason is that the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives. If you are in Christ, God loves you with an everlasting, electing love that He only gives to His children, and that’s why He is training you, because He wants you to become like His Son. So we endure it with joy.
Hebrews 12:2 says we endure in the race by looking at Jesus. We set aside the sin that entangles us, and we focus on Him. He endured because of the joy that was set before Him, He despised the shame of the cross. I think looking inward or looking at others will disappoint us dearly, so we ought to consider ONLY Him. He is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3).
There are many more things that I wish I could say, but for now I guess I’ll just finish by saying this:
My God is always good. He makes no mistakes, and everything that has happened and will happen in my life happens because He considered it necessary for my training as His child. He loves me, and His discipline is one of fatherly love. I know that now. That actually makes me happy and able to find joy in the midst of the trials of this life. I don’t know the reasons of why things happen, and I don’t really think I need to know or that I could handle it. But I know the One who holds the universe by the word of His power, and I trust Him completely.
Trial, to speak plainly, is the instrument by which our Father in heaven makes Christians more holy. By trial He calls out their passive graces and proves whether they can suffer His will as well as do it. By trial He weans them from the world, draws them to Christ, drives them to the Bible and prayer, shows them their own hearts, and makes them humble. This is the process by which He “prunes” them and makes them more fruitful. The lives of the saints in every age are the best and truest comment on the text. Never, hardly, do we find and eminent saint, either in the Old Testament or the New, who was not purified by suffering and, like His Master, a “man of sorrows.”
Learn us learn to be patient in the days of darkness, if we know anything of vital union with Christ. Let us remember the doctrine of the passage before us [John 15:1-6] and not murmur and complain because of trials. Our trials are not meant to do us harm, but good. God chastens us “for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). Fruit is the thing that our Master desires to see in us, and He will not spare the pruning knife if He sees we need it. In the last day we shall see that all was well done.
J.C.Ryle, Expository Thoughts on The Gospel of John, p.268
I turned 38 years old last week. It was a sweet celebration. I had my favorite for dinner: steak, sweet potatoes, and asparagus. There was also a humongous chocolate cake that I made myself, although the recipe is not mine. A sweet friend from church shared it with me since I basically ate an entire 9 in. x 13 in. cake pan when they brought us dinner after Dany was born 😬
So I finally finished reading my commentary on the book of Ephesians, and I began reading the book of Colossians. I have always wanted to study Colossians deeper as I’ve heard it talks about the supremacy of Christ. My commentary is on the way, but this morning I read this from Colossians 1:9-14,
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of theLord, fully pleasing to him:bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
As I shared in my last post, I have been reading You Who, by Rachel Jankovic. I cannot say I did not know what she has been talking about throughout the whole book. I did know. I am terrible at remembering my Savior, though. I sin when I forget whom do I belong to. I was thinking about this two days after my birthday:
“Will there be a day in which I won’t feel the temptation of wanting to be enough APART from Christ?”
I know I am nothing without Him. I know my identity is in Him. I know every breath is a mercy coming from Him. I know – in my head. And then I forget. I don’t forget to the point of going backwards five years in my life, say, like when I began Christian counseling; there are days, however, where the feelings don’t match what I read in the Scriptures. And that’s where the fight is, right? At least for me. It really takes the work of the Holy Spirit to bring life into my heart to help me see Christ every day in the text. It takes the Holy Spirit to make me die to self every single morning as I start my day.
The chapter Turn to Christ is by far my favorite because she talks about the sun and the moon. It rocked my world!
Being oriented to Christ and to the glory of God is in fact the answer to almost every human trouble. The fact that it is almost always the correct answer is NOT the same thing as being the answer we always want to hear. The phrase “Turn to Christ” is a well-trod path in Christian encouragement. You have probably heard it before, and here I am saying it all over again. If you are struggling in your life, this kind of advice might make you feel like you are being dismissed.
Do you feel lonely? Turn to Christ.
Do you feel like you are laboring under burdens that are destroying you? Turn to Christ.
Do you feel the deep need to know and be known? Turn to Christ.
Do you wonder where the time is going and why anything matters? Turn to Christ
Ain’t this the truth? Turning to Christ is the obvious answer, but she is right, sometimes I don’t want to hear that. Maybe in all my ramblings, I hope, you can see that I am a selfish individual in desperate need of God’s saving grace. It has never been my intention to present myself as anything else. This chapter was awesome to read. It exposed my sin clearly. I was like, “WOW… somebody finally put into words what I feel when everything in me wants to yell like Pam.”
Mostly, this is how the inside of me feels when I struggle. And I almost never have time to sit down right then, and think why I feel the way I feel, and deal with it quickly. If I let it go for a long time, it just starts piling up, piling up, piling up, and then BOOM!
I learned to do that in counseling. It wasn’t like the counselor would teach me how to think, she would just basically ask me questions, and I would ramble for an hour and cry. It takes time and prayer to deal with my feelings. By prayer, I don’t mean hearing the voice of God telling me what’s wrong. I mean I actually ask God to help me deal with my feelings as I read His Word. It has been His Word and seeing Him there, seeing Christ there, what has healed my once-broken heart. But it does take time for me to process why I feel the way I feel at times. There is always sin involved.
Like the other day, my husband and I argued for a whole day. I was so upset. It was so stupid in the end. He was so kind in listening to me trying to put two sentences together without me getting angry or overwhelmed. Then the children would come and interrupt, or it was time to cook, or the baby would cry… It all ended up being that I wanted romance in our marriage. And when he said it, it took him two seconds. He said, “Karla, I know what you want. You want romance.”
I was like, “Why didn’t you say that five hours ago!? It would have taken us five minutes to deal with this issue, and not the whole day.” But he was so sweet and said he wanted to hear me, to hear how I felt, and telling me what he already knew was not gonna help. He is really patient with me.
I know that for many of you this admonition would make you think something like this: “Yes, yes, I see Christ. But what about this mess here? I’m talking about this mess in my life, I am not talking about Him! I know He is perfect, I just can’t figure out how that is supposed to help me right now! I want to be known because I want a husband, not because I don’t know about Christ. I want to be free of the guilt and shame of my weight problem because I want to be attractive, and I don’t see how looking to Christ will magically make me more appealing! I want someone to tell me that I matter to them and that I am important, not read the words of Christ because He says those things to everyone. I want something more than that. Stop telling me to look to Christ because I already know about Him and I’m still here having this problem!”
Talk about some honesty here! I had not seen that level of honesty in a book – ever. I have felt like that. That’s the kind of thing that got me into counseling. I was manipulating my children, my husband, and all my relationships were very codependent (which is secular jargon for idolatrous). I wanted worship – that was it. Of course, I would have never said that, I don’t even think I knew what was happening to me at that moment. All I knew was that I was in a lot of pain.
The deeper I dived into my Bible, the deeper the conviction grew. It was almost as if God were performing heart surgery. The pain grew deeper in a way. I wanted my husband to love me, and give me all his attention. I wanted all his time. I wanted to feel – to be – beautiful, but then I didn’t. I would go around in circles, worrying about things, grumbling, not being happy. My family never talked about anything – everything was stuffed down. Am I making sense? If I ever felt angry or sad or whatever, I never learned to put a name to those emotions and deal with them accordingly, let alone doing so from a biblical perspective.
Like say, anger. Anger happens, but anger can be sinful. So there’s a way to express your anger, deal with your anger and actually, repent from your anger. The same with sadness. The more and the longer I read my Bible, I saw Him. I saw Christ as beautiful. Everything that I ever wanted, He was giving it to me, and I was rejecting Him because I wanted those things from Emerson, not from Christ. Like, Christ was good and all, but I wanted to feel loved, deeply loved by my husband. Appreciated. Seen. Heard. Valued. And those things are not wrong, but there’s a fine line in which those desires can turn into idolatry. I crossed that line and Emerson, my children and other people were sitting on the throne of my heart – not Christ.
It was sinful to demand this from my husband. It was evil of me to manipulate the relationship in order to get those things, you know, like when you play victim? Plus It was actually unfair. I was putting on my husband the burden of carrying my heart, my troubles, my pain, when the man was not even able. Emerson is a great man, but He is not Jesus. Emerson is not supposed to satisfy my every single need or fulfill me – God is.
Anyway, this is not a counseling session, and of course, I don’t expect you to relate to me. I am just here thinking no one gets to write a book and nail those feelings perfectly just randomly. This woman, Rachel, has to have experienced those herself. And I am thankful she is better at writing them down, and doesn’t ramble like me LOL! I am thankful she point us to Christ. This book has definitely done that for me. So…
This is when she talks about the moon,
This reveals something that is wrong in our thinking. Jesus Christ is not a glorious mountain that makes up part of the scenery of our life. Looking at Him in the distance as though He was an immobile and indifferent thing is part of the problem. We think we are looking to Christ when what we are doing is simply being aware of His existence.
Imagine that the moon was having a hard time. Imagine it crying to itself, saying, “I don’t know what to do anymore! I don’t feel useful. I don’t feel beautiful. I just sit here in the darkness all the time with no purpose, no goals, no identity. I feel useless, adrift. No one cares about me or wants me to be anything special.”
What if someone could say to the moon, “Look to the sun! Just do what you were made for! Reflect the glory! Look to the sun while you go on your journey and your face will be bright! You are beautiful when you are oriented to the sun. You are purposeful when you are oriented to the sun. You are needed when you are oriented to the sun. You were made to be oriented to the sun!”
Now imagine the moon saying something like, “Oh, that? That seems sort of unrelated. Why would that help me? What does that have to do with anything? I mean, I know it is there, but it has always been there. It doesn’t have anything to do with the way I am feeling right now. It just seems like pointless platitudes. It doesn’t really feel like you are listening to me.”
On a fundamental level, we were created in order to do this. This is our purpose. This is our calling. Whenever we are feeling lost and adrift and without purpose or goals or people who want us, we are in the middle of not doing our most fundamental job of looking to Christ. We don’t look to Him like we are looking at a poster of a faraway place. We do not look to Him like He is a piece of information in a textbook. We do not look at Him like we look at an old family snapshot, remembering a good time. We look to Him as we were created to look at Him—in an interactive, glorifying relationship. We reflect His glory. This metaphor of the moon and the sun is a biblically accurate metaphor for our relationship to Christ.
After reading that, I literally thought, “I’m an idiot.” 🤦♀️
I knew this. I knew this. And yet this was so clear. I seriously praised the Lord for His mercy in letting me see it yet again. All my issues always come when I start trying to reflect my own light. Can people reflect light? Of course they can. But when they try to reflect their own light, they end up being burned down. It is pretty exhausting.
Am I pretty enough?
Am I good enough?
Am I smart enough?
Am I thin enough?
Like, good enough for WHAT?!
I was talking to my son the other day. He was boasting about being better than his sister at playing this typing game they play. He didn’t come to me to share how much he liked the game, his intent was to tell me he was much better than her. I hate that. I don’t encourage that. I said, “Wait a minute. Can you actually type like she does? Because she is pretty good at it. I mean, she basically typed a whole chapter of my book faster than I could. Can you actually type?”
Of course he said no. I knew this. That was my way to poke at his heart.
So then we talked about his bragging, and how sinful the attitude in his heart was. He was boasting at being better at a game than his sister. I explained to him that I enjoy him playing that typing game, but that really, the whole point of those games is to improve his typing. If his typing is not really improving, then I don’t care how good he is at playing it. He has to actually finish his typing lessons, just like his sister did. I told him it was not my intention to hurt his feelings, but he needed to know that he was being proud, and being proud was an abomination to the Lord. We also looked at some Scriptures that literally said that. I was already feeling I was preaching to myself. God does that often when you are a parent.
Poor guy, he probably was just sharing with me, or maybe he wasn’t; it is those moments that I often use to disciple them. We talked about comparing oneself to others and how that is a terrible and dangerous game to play. If he is better than his sister at something, then he would be feeling better about himself, right? But when his sister is better than him at other things, then he gets depressed. I know my son. He is a mini me – physically and emotionally.
He actually said the other day that he felt like a lousy worm in the dirt (or something like that) when he does Math. Lots of drama, you see. This boy of mine needs to be confronted with the attitudes in his heart often.
And I do exactly the same thing!! Because deep down, hear me out… if I were actually better than other people, and I could be sure I am, or if at least I were satisfied where I am without comparing myself to others, then I would be content. We would be content in general. We would say that we are good at this or good at that. Nothing wrong with that, I talked about this in my last post. It is not sinful to recognize what God has done through you as long as you don’t glorify an earthly vessel.
Of course, I would never say I am much better than someone else at something. I know better, I know that sometimes that doesn’t look good on the outside, especially if I say it in order to feel better about myself. If I were actually better than others, and I knew it, I would be happy. We are always happy when we play the comparison game, and we end up being the better ones. Are we not?
But here’s the thing. Sometimes we don’t know if we are better, or we are not sure, and so, what do we do? We start asking questions, but we don’t ask direct questions like, “Am I more beautiful than my friend Sally?” or “Am I smart enough to finish a Science degree?” or “Am I fit enough to carry another pregnancy?” or “Am I a better mom than my neighbor?”
And what is the purpose of these questions anyway? Again, this is my way of processing things. Take no offense at this. I hope it does expose your idols if you have them.
My purpose when I begin the loophole of comparing myself to others and wondering whether I am good enough, or better than, is always that I, somehow, feel empty. Like Rachel said, “Whenever we are feeling lost and adrift and without purpose or goals or people who want us, we are in the middle of not doing our most fundamental job of looking to Christ.”
I look at other people to validate me. I look at other things to make me happy. I want to shine. I want to feel loved and appreciated and heard. And all those things are valid, but I will never shine the way I am supposed to shine as long as I keep trying to shine for my own sake, or for the sake of those things. I only shine my best when I shine for the sake of my Maker. When I am on the losing end in the comparison game, and I’m often there, life gets really blue. When I look at my husband and his reasoning skills, and his way of being organized, and his self-discipline, and his efficiency when he talks, and how focused he can be – basically he is everything that I am naturally not… Boy, when I look at him, I can get depressed so quickly. So quickly.
But I must not look up to other people to be my sun. I have a Sun, and it is Christ. When I try to shine and reflect the light of others, as if they were my sun; or when I try to be the sun of others, and make their lives revolve around me; or when I try to be my own sun, and get so focused on the self… Whenever I do any of that I am nothing but a thief. I am trying to steal the light from the One who owns the light. In reality I am nothing but a dark satellite with no light coming from me at all. When I bring myself up because I’m amazing at something, or when I bring myself down, and throw pity parties because my performance sucks; when I do all those things, I am opposing God by trying to steal the glory that rightfully belongs to only Him.
I mean, isn’t that what Satan did? He didn’t want to reflect the light. He wanted to BE the light. Satan was not perfectly content with being a beautiful satellite reflecting the light of the Sun. Satan wanted to be THE Sun, and that was precisely his downfall.
So I had this conversation with my son. I mean, not like that, but very similar. How gracious of God to give me, a sinner, the joy and the huge responsibility to raise little sinners. I had empathy. I actually talked to him about some of my struggles. The latest one being the use of make up because I woke up the other day and I saw in the mirror that I’m getting old. It was fun watching videos on how to apply it and what not, but at the end of the day, the dark circles and the wrinkles around my eyes are still there.
I shared with Enzo that deep in my heart sometimes I would like to be young again. I shared that the skin around my belly is not as firm as it once was, and everything is hanging low, and that very likely, it will continue to drop. And I have dark circles, and I want to look beautiful and vibrant, and he was laughing!
In the middle of my confessions, he actually said,
You see, my intention was to point him to Christ, not to his own abilities at the video game. I encouraged him to look to Christ if he doesn’t want to be carried away trying to be good at doing life on his own strength. He needs to practice typing, and also work hard at it; he can also be content if he is good at the game or at actual typing, but he should not boast about his abilities. He should rather praise God for them. How much of that talk actually made it into his heart? I don’t know. I pray a lot of it did.
It is always pride, isn’t it? Sometimes it masquerades as false humility when we try to put ourselves down or when we obsessively think about ourselves, and how we are not good enough this, or not good enough that. That’s the issue. Is culture trying to encourage our relationship with the One True God? No, culture always points us to ourselves. We are not the answer, though.
So here’s my mini-commentary of what I have thought about Colossians (finally!). It’s all stuff that has been on my mind since I read that chapter on the sun and the moon. I am probably preaching to myself here,
Look, you. Stop trying to pursue your own glory. It is not about you anyway. Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God, not for your own glory. Don’t be a glory thief. Be thankful your Maker has bestowed on you the great privilege of actually being able to reflect his glory, and that the more that He conforms you to the image of His Son, the more glorious you will become be, and the brighter you will actually shine. You will get the joy, and He will get the praise.
Forget about yourself. You want to please God? You really want to know if you are doing a good job? Then read. It is possible. God can actually be pleased with you. Stop trying to please others or make others please you until your face turns blue. Instead, get to work in pleasing Him because this is what life is all about. Here is how you do it.
Pray. Pray that He fills you up with with the knowledge of His will. When you know His will for your life, you will actually walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. When you know His will, you will actually be fully pleasing to Him. I am talking about the revealed will of God, not His will of decree. You can know His will in the things that you can actually do.
Your husband asked you to shred the pork? Do it, and do it gladly. Don’t give him the faces you give him, or rolls your eyes at him when he asks you to groom the gods. Submit to him, be a helper. Respect him. Honor him. Wanna please God? Endure with patience and joy. Take your children to the playground, and breath a prayer of thanksgiving. You actually have three children now. Didn’t you want that? Enjoy them, love them, cherish them. Yes, they can be particularly obnoxious at times, but so are you. Forgive them. Be compassionate with them.
Put to death what is earthly in you. Do not covet the life of others as if they have it better than you. You walked on these evil ways before, but now you must put them all away. Put away your wrath, kill your sin. Get up early to read your Bible. Go for a run. Be joyful. Pray often. Give thanks – in everything. This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Renew your mind. Don’t be a slave to sin.
Want to please God? Bear good fruit in every good work. Of course, go to church, read your Bible, and catechize your children, but don’t miss the forest for the trees. Bearing fruit is more than just doing good works or checking off a list. You can’t please God without faith first. When you begin checking off lists, you get overwhelmed and start thinking you will never please Him. The list will never end, and it is not about the list. It’s not about doing, it’s about being. You are His child. You have His love. You belong to Him. You are His, and He is yours.
God has prepared all these good works already for you to walk in them, so walk in them. You were saved not by works, but unto good works. You were saved for good works. Live accordingly. In your homeschool, teach them to love Christ. In your neighborhood, be kind. Speak truth. Do not shrink back. Make dinner joyfully. Get your hands dirty. Bake more bread. Make more pizza dough. Involve your family. It is a mercy, not a burden, that you get to cook often, and that there is always plenty. If you haven’t, give thanks.
Offer your whole live as sacrifice to the Lord. And do all this for His glory. Ask Him to give you His strength, for you will burn out if you are trying to do this on your own. The more you do this, the happier you will become, and the less self absorbed you will be. You will stop thinking about your skin not being firm, or your the wrinkles in your face.
More on how to please Him? Increase in your knowledge of your Creator. Repent. Embrace a high view of God and the Scriptures. Submit to a local church. When something rubs you wrong, you are the problem, not the Word. Be willing to be wronged, and be wiling to be taken advantage of at times – specially in your own household. Be patient. Endure. If pain and suffering visit your life for awhile, regard them as friends, not as foes. God is treating you like His child. He loves you, and He never gives to His children anything that they don’t need. If you find yourself without zeal for your Maker, then you are not living in His will.
In case I forget, give thanks! He has qualified you. He qualifies you. He literally made you able. He has made you competent, He has made you sufficient. Fit to work. You are not trying to live a worthy life. You are already worthy IN CHRIST – worthy of an inheritance of light. You are already qualified. Live up to it. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling then, because it is He who works in you to will and work for His good pleasure. He will complete His work in you.
He has transferred from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son – what a gift! What a glorious truth! Rejoice!! You have been redeemed, you have been forgiven. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Get your second wind and keep running the race. Open your eyes, and fight the good fight of the faith. It is not easy. Be on your guard. Haven’t you noticed lately that the enemy of your soul never sleeps? He’s always prowling like a lion, ready to devour you. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
There’s no difference when done to the honor of the Lord between preaching and washing the dishes. As touching to please God, there is no difference at all. Do not look for loopholes. Women are not given the role of preaching with authority to men. Read your Bible. Trust and obey.
And STOP asking if you are enough. Ask yourself instead, ‘Am I fully pleasing to God?’ You will literally have your whole life with enough work in your hands to make sure you do.
Sister, as my Pastor told me, always keep your eyes on Christ and not men, and you will never be disappointed!
Wanna hear something super funny? I thought I had ordered a new commentary on Colossians. I was sure I had done that. But nope, I order a commentary on John 😂
Very few times I have received words of criticism well. Actually, I have never received them well. The one word I’ve lately been making a fuss about is the word aimless. We sat down recently as a family to discuss our goals for this new year. We have never done that together, I don’t think; if we have, I don’t remember. That’s not new. Also, I do not like setting goals.
After setting the goals a week ago, I think I know exactly why I have been sad/angry/depressed. Here it is: I am not a hard worker. I am a lazy individual. Of course I do stuff, it is not like I never lift a finger; I do work , but really, I think I like settling for the bare minimum.
You see… [let the reader understand]
I already have a very well-organized, corporate-oriented individual in my life. I don’t need to become one like him.
Obviously, nobody is telling me I need to become like my husband, but my heart freezes at the idea of actually writing stuff down, and working hard on making things happen. I like it messy in my life LOL! I actually kinda know what I am doing. Truly, though, I drift, and I drift often – like everyday. So when I heard the word aimless, I think I got really sad because I know it is true. Godly spouses tell you the truth.
I think it is here when well-intended individuals will say, “How dare he!? There, there, don’t beat yourself up; give yourself some grace. You have your plate full.”
Well, yeah, I get the sentiment. I am homeschooling my children. I also had a baby three months ago, and he’s not sleeping that much anymore during the day. I need to clean the house, cook meals, exercise, spend time with God, learn to play Pokemon, yada, yada. Anyway, first, only God can give me grace, and I need a lot of it; second, I am the one in the wrong here. It is true that I am aimless. I have been, in many areas of my life. By aimless I don’t mean that I haven’t accomplished anything in my life. I rock at teaching grammar, I am sustaining a life with my breast milk, and meals are put on the table; but it is also true that I need to manage my time better. I could be doing more things for God’s kingdom if only I would put the phone down.
I don’t start projects I know I am going to quit or that are going to be difficult to accomplish. I quit Organic Chemistry 101 for that reason in college. I think I have also realized that work is never done, and I want to have it all done. I was very overwhelmed last week over very silly stuff. So when I hear the word “goals” I think my mind goes to many places. And there’s no way to put it all into writing in this post, but I think the skinny would be that I tend to assume someone with very clear goals for their life is a very proud individual, and I don’t want to be proud. Therefore, I go to the other extreme, and I do nothing.
I am wrong because setting goals has nothing to do with humility or pride. Having goals is not necessarily sinful, although your motives can be.
You see, dear ones, the opposite of pride is not putting yourself down, but to think of yourself with sober judgment. When Paul is saying that he is not inferior to the super apostles in the church in Corinth, does that sound like pride? Paul actually tells the church in Corinth that they should have commended him, but he knows he is nothing. Paul considers himself the least of the apostles, yet, he is what he is; yet not him, but the grace of God working in him. Do you hear that? That is sober, mature, self-assessment. Paul knows what God made him for, what God assigned to him; he can recognize what God has done through him, and yet in every one of those ways, Paul saw himself as nothing. It was all grace. Grace. Grace. You can recognize what God has given to you, assigned to you, and accomplished through you, and yet you can do it in a way that it never glorifies a clay jar.
And that’s where the struggle was. I think I held to the wrong idea that writing things down and accomplishing them, or even trying to accomplish them, was a prideful endeavor. But like, great men of the faith have accomplished great things through the history of the church, right? I don’t think they winged it. They had to be hard workers, right? And men of the Word, and men of prayer… they had to have a plan.
Long story short, I began focusing on myself. When I do that, it only gets worse. My pity parties and spiritual tantrums always lead me to ugly places. My sinful heart leads me to want to be enough, but I am not enough, so I try harder. Then I get sad because I know that I am not enough, and I will never be.
What?! I mean, just writing it down, I’m like, “LOOK TO CHRIST, YOU SILLY WOMAN!!”
I listened to this video the other day, and it made me cry. It’s really good regarding goals for 2021. It was probably nor super profound, but God accomplished with it what He wanted to accomplish, mainly, to show me that I was not looking up to Him. Instead I was looking at myself as my own savior, and I am a terrible god.
I think you can’t pin your sanctification to the calendar. What is a good Christian practice is to reevaluate things that we have been doing because sometimes we drift, and we think that the next year somehow is going to fix itself. Or you think that you will stop worrying when life is not so worrisome. So the woman you want to be in fifteen years is really the woman that you should be trying to be now, which is basically, ‘Today if you hear His Word, do not harden your heart.’
Your obedience is important today. Your obedience yesterday, you either did or you didn’t; and your obedience tomorrow, well, it really takes no courage or faith to obey in your imaginary future. All you have in your hand are things that God put in them today. How can you be faithful today with what God has given you? And based on 2020, there is no reason to believe that 2021 is going to be a smooth sailing… you have to look to Christ, because things are just not going to happen…
It made me realize I have to set goals because the things I want to accomplish for God’s glory are not gonna happen just with wishful thinking, like, “Yeah, I need to write more blog posts.”
It’s so easy to drift into thinking, “What am I doing with all my time? Am I really working toward something? What are these great things that I am set to do for the glory of God? Does it even matter? Where is the ‘Wow, Mommy, you do really make the best pancakes!’ Where’s the glory in changing a diaper for the fifth time today, or wiping the urine off the toilets seats and floors?
I get it. I get why women need an attaboy. We are needy. Boy, was I so needy last week! I needed some validation. That was so sinful because in real, practical life, Christ was not enough for me. That’s also why I worked outside the house when I had the chance. And while I am not saying all women sin when they do this, I am saying I wassinning because I wanted to be praised, and nobody praised me at home. It felt good to receive a paycheck, no matter how small it was. I have realized since Daniel was born that I am weak; my body feels weak, my mind is weak, my heart is weak. My heart is so prone to wander, prone to leave the God I love, and yet, He is so merciful that He keeps on calling me back. YHWH is such a good, merciful God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
I have been reading a book that is pointing me to Christ, and that basically called out all my sin in the last weeks. It’s You Who, by Rachel Jankovic. I also read an article by Founders Ministries leading me in the same passage that my pastor preached this last Sunday. Overall, the message was the same:
Look Up To Christ. Do not look at yourself. Look up to Him, and let His Word dwell richly in you.
So yes, Paul worked really hard, and yet it was God working in him. There’s nothing sinful about setting goals. I want to honor God, and to glorify Him in my daily life. Even the commentary on Revelation I am reading with the children talked about it today. It is like I obviously needed to hear this. God is so gracious. I do want to live for Him, and use every gift He has given me. I want to confess my sins and flee to Christ for forgiveness. I want to praise God, worship Him, delight in in Him – the triune God. I want to trust Him, and surrender all things into His hands. I want to walk humbly, thankfully, and cheerfully before Him as I become increasingly conformed to the image of his Son. In short, I want to glorify Him by trusting in Him and doing His will with a ready mind and heart (Revelation, Joel Beeke, pg. 394).
Below is a summary of the things I read this week that God used to call me to repentance. It is nice that Libby typed it for me. I will also link the article from Founders, and a song I heard at my church. I have to work diligently at believing that God is pleased with me, and that I don’t have to earn His love. I have noticed I go into “works” mode when I am not consistently reading my Bible.
Also, Daniel is three months old. Time goes by so quickly. The year 2020 was definitely crazy, and while I am not saying Jesus is coming back tomorrow, I do want to be ready, faithfully doing what He has called me to do.
We just need to look around and see that this world needs Christ. I am thankful He calls me His own, and that He is mine.
You Who – some things…
If you are a Christian woman who has been in Christian circles at all, you have no doubt been told that you are a princess.We have misused this truth to the point that is seems common to attribute to God all of the characteristics of the world’s most indulgent father of a spoiled child at a mini-mall. We think a princess means having your nails done, tiaras, plastic high heels, and getting everything you ever wanted because your father doesn’t know how to say no to you. He is a king, after all!
In reality, your Father is not a petty, child-indulging king— not at all what the princess encouragement makes him out to be. But more than that, it is a position of responsibility. You are a daughter of the King. That means you should be about His business. In a way that becomes the office you hold. While it is a great honor, being a daughter of the King is more like wearing a shirt that says STAFF boldly across the back.
What is the nation of this kingdom, and how is it built? Look at the example of your Father. He sent His Son to lay down His life for His people. You belong, body and soul, to the kind of King who is building His kingdom on the mercy of self-sacrifice. ‘For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect though sufferings’ (Heb. 2:10).
Here we have our first among many brethren, and what is the prefect example that He gives us? Laying down His life. Being perfected in suffering. Bringing us to glory. We are called to live in imitation of our high priest and the selfless work that He accomplished for us. So, yes, I believe that you are royalty. You are a daughter of the Most High King, and you are a princess. But what does that mean practically?
When this phrase is trotted out, it almost always comes off as addressed to someone looking hopelessly out of a window, wondering who they are while curled up in an afghan watching the rain drops on the window. It is a message for our feelings, intended to bolster us up in our needy moments. But, as we have established, we haven’t been called to “feel awesome about ourselves”; we have been called to faithfulness.
The reality of following Christ is not that kind of cheap affirmation. It is not an emotional Snuggie for our cold hearts. It is a different thing altogether. It is a cross being carried. It is a child of God looking at a trial and saying, ‘This is mine to handle. Let me mop the same floor I mopped yesterday and every day before that, or freely give away my time in a million ways with no expectation of getting it back. Let me change your diapers and hold your hand.‘ This is work for a daughter of the King.
A life of Christian royalty is not an easy one. It is full of trials and obstacles and suffering and troubles. Not only do we endure trials and suffering. We are called to turn those very things into blessings for others. A person telling you how their cancer pointed them to Christ, how their darkest moments showed the kindness of the Father. This is the duty of sons and daughters of the King. To lay down their lives for those around them. To point to Christ continually by imitating Him. To seek to live for His purposes and to trust Him that all things work together for good. Our identity in Christ is more about our responsibilities than our privileges, though there will be many of those. We do not fear because we know a time of perfect rest, a time of glory, a time of perfect happiness will come-but that time is not yet and our work is not done. Work hard in the hope of that glory, and “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ”
(2 Timothy 2:3)
We would rather continue our quest for our identity, looking for clues all around us, for those little indicators of who we might be and what we might be here for; rather than placing all our hope in the ultimate identity that we have. Christ crucified is more than everything we ask for. He is beyond enough. He is the actual power of God and wisdom of God. He is all in all. And yet we so often say, ‘That isn’t quite what I am looking for. Give me something a little… less.‘
You may be thinking that you have never said that. Because, laid out there bare like that, very few Christians dare to say that Jesus is “not enough” for them. So let’s look at some of the very mundane, more familiar ways that we do this. What are some of the most common wants we have as we struggle though our lives? We might say we are just really, really needing a break. We need a chance to recuperate and relax. A little rest? We are stressed and want some time off. What is Jesus in this situation? He, the incarnate Son of God, is our everlasting rest. An everlasting rest and peace has already been given to us in Christ, and we are still looking for short-term, unsatisfying rest. Why? Because we are asking for less. We are turning aside from this monumental gift to say that it isn’t quite the thing we meant. Worse, we might be thinking of Jesus as another item on our to-do list.
What if we are looking for a little appreciation and recognition? We might be trying to find ways in which our work matters. We might be resenting the backstage role we have at the office, the less-than-famous artist the we have become. We might be at home with our children, wishing any grownups cared about what we are sacrificing. Or we might be unmarried and wishing we had anyone at all who wanted to know what we were doing all day. We look for something little to cheer us up. Maybe, if someone brought us a coffee and said they knew how hard we were working and that it mattered, we would feel better. We think we would be satisfied if there was just a sign that anyone cared, or if anyone was thoughtful enough to notice that we are tired because we have been working so hard. We want someone to tell us how this is such important and hard work we are doing. Maybe we would feel better if anyone knew and appreciated what a long day we had. We are looking to be known and to be loved.
But is this a need that Jesus does not fill?We want a little indicator that our lives matter to someone.
Is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God not enough for us?
Does that not show us that we are valued and loved in an authoritative way?
Has He not told us that He knows every hair on our heads? He knows us and understands us to such an extent that absolutely nothing in our lives is outside His knowledge. Once again, this is more than what we were looking for. We are urged to cast all our cares on Him, for He cares for us. And yet we look around and wonder why there is no one willing to help us bear our burdens. We wanted a thoughtfully timed coffee, not cleansing blood and the everlasting arms. We wanted someone to say, ‘I care about you’ on a post-it note, not someone to give their life for us.
Do you see how we are in possession of more than what we are looking for? We are wasting our time looking around for support and encouragement when we have Christ. We want to drink hesitantly from a sippy cup of comfort while god offers us the opportunity to stand under a Niagara Falls of glory.
We have eternal forgiveness, and we seek cheap validation.
We have an omnipotent, omnipresent, and eternal God, and we just wish someone knew what we were going through. We want to matter, but we are part of the very body of Christ.
When we begin to worship our ideas of support and love and encouragement and start orienting ourselves around those, we become shallow and short-term people. But when we look to Christ, our shallow problems are completely overshadowed by the size of our answers. Christ is all in all.
I have been trying to write this post for at least two weeks, but other things got in the way. This may be considered Part 2 of the post I titled On Memorizing Scripture.
In that post I said I have been memorizing the Book of Philippians. I also mentioned that when I read the Bible I go very slowly, and sometimes it takes me days to move forward because I keep thinking and thinking about one particular word, or verse, and then I go on rabbit trails.
So I was in the book of Philippians for probably two solid months – reading it every day, and reading my commentary along with it. It is not a particularly long book. You can read it in one sitting, and be done with it in less than an hour. My commentary, however, has at least five to ten pages to read for every three or four verses. So it took me a long time, but I just finished two days ago 🙂
I was fascinated by diving deeper into this section. I was convicted by the words of Paul, and I was also deeply encouraged in my walk and my pursuit of Christ. I felt a lot of love for my Savior. And that might sound cliché, because every Christian should love Jesus, correct? But I personally never had emotions and/or affections that arose deep from within my heart when I was exposed to the Word of God.
I had never experienced that until I began studying Biblical Doctrine.
Paul has so much passion when he talks about Christ – it is contagious. He wants to know Christ. He wants to gain Christ. He wants to be found in Christ. And as I have said, I usually go on rabbit trails trying to find out what all that means. There are things that I cannot relate to when I look at Paul’s life. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have anything to teach me, of course. But there are other things that I can practically apply to my own life.
So that whole section in Phil. 3:1-16, really gave me hope. It also made me ponder on questions like: How do I gain Christ? What does it mean to be found in Christ? How do I keep pressing on to make Christ my own? How do I forget what lies behind, and keep pressing on what lies ahead?
I want an answer to all these questions because I want to follow Christ as Paul followed Christ. The fact that I am not Paul does not grant me an excuse to not pursue Christ in the same way Paul pursued Christ. Actually, Paul is instructing the Philippians to imitate him, and to keep their eyes on those who walk according to the example they had in Paul (Phil. 3: 17). So Paul is assuming we will be doing this – imitating him as he imitates Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). As we do so, we in turn can encourage others to do the same.
I want to do that. I want to look for people who will encourage me and keep me accountable to live a life worthy of the calling to which I have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-3).
I want my love to abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment so that I may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ (Phil 1:9-10). I want to orient my heart towards God in such a way that I can confidently say, without the shadow of a doubt, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21).
The whole Book of Philippians was amazing.
Something that truly struck me was the fact that the apostle Paul was actually hard pressed between two choices – to remain in the flesh or to be with Christ. He was just not using figure of speech. And it convicted me deeply because I am not struggling with that choice. I know that were God to give me an option today, I would choose to remain. There is so much work left for me to do – or at least I think so. My children need me.
I am pregnant. The child in my womb needs to hear the gospel. I know Christ is more valuable than life itself, but I want to remain in the flesh for their progress and joy in the faith (Phil 1:25). I don’t feel like Paul yet, but it was good for me to understand that I should be fighting my self-desires that go against the self-dying that is necessary for my family, and that as time passes, God willing, my desire to be in heaven should be ever growing.
It was good to know, that Paul’s conviction was rooted in his knowledge of God’s sovereignty. Paul was trusting in God’s will – regardless of the outcome. So his joy was the result of growing closer to the Lord Jesus.
The whole book of Philippians sings with joy, and Paul’s desire for his entire life to revolve around Christ – his Savior. It made me want to sing, too.
When studying theology does not prompt us to adoration, we must question whether we are more concerned to puff ourselves up with knowledge than to glorify God. I have sinned greatly in this area. I have confessed that, and I have repented of studying theology for the sake of head knowledge in the past. The Lord has been very gracious to me in that arena. I know He has forgiven me.
But now more than ever, when I think about the ways my life has been transformed within the last four years, I have come to the realization that it wasn’t counseling what transformed my world. It wasn’t a book on how to deal with abuse that produced perseverance, forgiveness, and compassion. It wasn’t a magic formula on how to raise godly children what has helped me remain faithful in my parenting when I don’t see the fruit of the Spirit in my children’s lives. Nothing special about me has made me mature spiritually.
My life has changed as a result of being taught the Word. This has happened through many means: podcasts, Bible Study, and particularly, my local church. And this is something that didn’t happen in one day, it was a long process. That process is still happening and will continue to happen until the day I see Christ. As I read my Bible, listened to sermons or podcasts, God worked in me.
By God’s grace I am living like Paul lived. I am not talking about sinless perfection for I sin every day. But it is a mercy and a grace from God to be able to see that I am growing in holiness – even my husband has noticed some of that change. So I know it’s actually happening, and that I am not making that up.
And you know what? That process has actually involved suffering. Granted, maybe not like Paul’s, but suffering nonetheless. I have struggled with seeing my idols being stepped on, and fighting for the Lord to be my portion. I have had to confess my unbelief to God in times of anxiety. I have had to recognize that my desires and my wandering often pull my away from Christ. Sometimes I really think I can do all things through ME.
But with Paul I can say, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”(Phil. 3:12).
Paul did not consider that he had made it his own (Phil. 3:13). Me neither. But with Paul, I do one thing: forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:14)
This section comes after Paul lists his pedigree as a Pharisee, and lists all the things that could have made him rely on his own righteousness, rather than the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ – the righteousness of God that depends on faith (Phil. 3:9).
The most astounding fact is that in this spiritual growth in my life, God has been the driving force – not me. That is not to say that I am NOT pursuing Christ because I am. But the fact that I am pursuing Christ springs from God himself, who is working and orchestrating that desire in me.
Who, then, does the actual work? Is it God, or is it I?
The answer is: YES!
Philippians 2:12-13, says:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
This comes as Paul’s instruction to the Philippians after he has explained the humiliation and exaltation of Christ, and the reason why we, as Christians, should be the most humble of peoples – willing to sacrifice for others and serve them.
Therefore – because of all that Paul just said in Philippians 2:1-11 – they should be working out their salvation with fear and trembling. This has nothing to do with earning one’s salvation. Paul is very clear in his other epistles, that justification (being declared righteous, having peace with God and not condemnation from Him) is by grace alone, through faith alone. And we contribute nothing to that process.
But in the process of sanctification (which is becoming more and more like Christ) we do play an active role. We have the responsibility to actively pursue obedience. And as we do pursue Christ, the Lord by His indwelling Holy Spirit is who actually produces the good works and spiritual fruit in our lives.
Now everything that I just said is doctrinal in nature. The whole Bible is a doctrinal book. I have personally grown in these areas because I have been exposed to great sound teachers online, but more importantly because my pastor feeds me the Word of God. He cares for my soul as he preaches on Sundays.
I am always beating the horse on social media that we, women, are biblically illiterate. Men are biblically illiterate, too, but I am not talking to men here.
Now, I am not saying women do not know how to read. But I am saying that we are not provided, for the most part, with the tools we need in order to read the text, contextualize the text, apply a good hermeneutic to the text, and exegete the text in such a way that we can actually detect false teaching. So I am not surprised when many women think I am a hater when I tell them their favorite Women Bible teacher is a false teacher, or when many Christians are falling for false gospels like the ones espoused in the Woke Church Movement.
This has been obvious to me for a while, the fact that we need to learn biblical doctrine. But it wasn’t until I had a conversation with a friend of mine the other day that I realized I was wrong in assuming people knew what I meant. I wish I had all the time in the world to write every single thought that comes to my mind regarding this, but I will try to provide some examples of what I mean when I say we should go deeper, and pursue Christ harder.
I was listening the other day to a sermon I heard by John Piper. He preached it in 1984, when I was a one year-old. I’m not entirely sure if Piper has gone fully Woke – that would be a disgrace. I can tell you I trust the John Piper of 1984, and that’s why I am willing to write about this sermon.
Piper quotes from the book The Pursuit of God, written in 1948, in which Tozer writes:
How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Everything is made to center upon the initial act of ‘accepting’ Christ . . . and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him, we need no more seek Him.
According to Piper, the Spirit is not deadening; he is addicting. I agree with that. The evidence that you have HIM – the Spirit, indwelling you – is that you want more of HIM. Continued indifference to growth in grace is a sign of NO grace.
Matthew Henry is right: “Wherever there is true grace there is a desire for more grace.”
Paul went hard after Christ, forsaking all the things people normally boast about; and he did it in order to know Him. Why did Paul do this? Because knowing Christ is a value that surpasses everything else. The evidence of conversion is whether or not you continue to pursue Christ, obeying Chrsit, and walking in holiness (Heb. 12:14).
Again, that doesn’t mean you never sin again, or that Christians cannot fall into grievous patterns of sinning. But if you have been really given a new heart (Eze. 36:26), if you have been made alive after being dead in sin and trespasses (Eph. 2:1-10), if you have been transferred from the dominion of darkness into Jesus’ Kingdom (Col 1:13), then now you are not who you were before Christ. So it is literally IMPOSSIBLE that if you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you, you will remain loving your sin.
A born-again person has a new heart with new desires. He wants to please the Lord in everything he does. A genuine convert enjoys fellowship with Christ (1 John 1:6), she is sensitive to the sin in her life (1 John 2:3), she is obedient to God, she rejects the world (1 John 2:15-17). She loves other Christians, she experiences answered prayer, she sees a decreased pattern of sin in her life (1 John 3:5-10), she is rejected by her faith in many cases (Phil. 1:28). She is able to discern between spiritual truth and error.
All this is doctrinal in nature. It involves an understanding of the Doctrine of Regeneration, and what it means to be truly converted. Is it a simple prayer you pray, or is it God who causes you to be alive, and therefore, you put your faith in Christ as a result? What happens at conversion? More importantly, who makes it happen? God in His Sovereignty or you in your Free Will? And while I respect what you think, it is not about what you or I think, but about what the Bile actually says.
These are things that may not matter to you right now, but I can guarantee you, they will matter when your daughter is crying because she doesn’t know if she is truly saved. She sees her sin, she sees that God is holy, and she has this sinful pattern of behavior that she can’t seem to break away from. God forbid I give her a false assurance based on that one time where she said she repented, and that prayer that she said she spoke. That is NOT what the Bible tells me to tell her. The Bible never calls her to accept Jesus into her heart, but to repent and believe. And to keep repenting and to keep believing is the Christian life.
Paul commands my daughter to examine herself to see if she is really in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). You may say, “Well, Paul is not Jesus. And Jesus loves her.”
Sure… I guess?
To accept that answer would only reveal a lack of understanding of the Doctrine of Inspiration, and who exactly wrote the Bible. Are Paul’s words to be taken as commands, or just as good advice for wholly living? Paul indicates what he writes are God’s commands (1 Cor. 13:37). This actually is one of the many loopholes female Bible teachers use in order to say they can actually be pastors. They are following Jesus’ calling for their lives, you see. They have this deep desire in their hearts, and if the desire is there, then it must have come from God, right?
Uh… no. They are being disobedient, because the same apostle who commands us to rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4), also says, “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” (1 Timothy 2:12). Very unpopular now a days, but that’s what the Scripture says. Are we going to submit ourselves to it or not? You can watch this debate if you’re interested to know more about those passages.
The same with homosexuality. Was that only forbidden back in the Old Testament days, but really, Jesus is pleased with those relationships as long as they are monogamous and committed as Jen Hatmaker says? Is homosexual so-called marriage even a marriage? What is marriage? Why was it created by God? Who says it has to be between a man or a woman? By what standard are we supposed to evaluate the culture? Another great debate on that here.
So we need to go deeper in pursuing Christ and His Word so that we can be rooted and grounded firmly in our faith. We need this not only to be able to defend it, but so that we ourselves are kept from following false teachings, and are not tossed back and from by the winds of this godless culture.
You see, it is not that I was not a Christian before becoming intensely persuaded that women need theology. It is not that I was not secure in Christ. But there was really a way in which I did not really know the God I worshipped. I was very content knowing Jesus. However, I was not really pursuing Him. I think I romanticized Him, and I thought everything was about me, when in reality it is all about Him. And in our minds, we have no trouble saying God is in control, but when things really get rocky, we cry, “Why is this happening to me?”
The fact that I was struggling in my marriage, and my child was out of control, really made me bow down to the God of the Scriptures, and for the first time I saw Him in ways I had never done before. I understood what grace really is. Again, while not vocally confessing it, I was living for my glory – not God’s.
Going deeper in my knowledge of who Christ is has also helped me to become a better mom, and a better friend. I also hope I have become a better wife. I will ask Emerson. LOL!
Biblical doctrine has helped me to fight the daily battles in my mind. Sometimes I get sad out of the blue. I recognize lies that are whispered by the enemy of my soul. And that’s why I have loved memorizing big chunks of Scripture with the children. When Libby was sad about her sin, I was able to pray for her, and all that was coming out of my mouth was the Scriptures. I was able to confront her in her sin, encourage her to pursue Christ, and assure her that she will never be sinless. I also told her that if indeed the Holy Spirit lives in her, then He will keep on testifying to her that she is a child of God (Rom. 8:16). And that if so, then no one will ever be able to separate her from His love, and we began quoting together the new chunk that we are memorizing beginning in Rom 8:28.
When life brings suffering, I want to rely on the Doctrine of the Sovereignty of God. I want to trust that my God ordains all the things that come to pass for my good (Rom 8:28-32). I want to trust that even on the days when I’m feeling like trash (because I have days like that), my God has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:3).
It is the Doctrine of Election that takes a hold of my heart, and helps me focus my attention and redirect my heart to the God who chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). And his choosing had NOTHING to do with my performance, or how I would be feeling on that particular day, but He chose me so that I would be holy and blameless before Him, and to the praise of His glorious grace (Eph. 1:5). He chose me according to the purpose of His will (Eph. 1:5) in order to demonstrate that it does not depend on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy (Rom 9:14-18).
He gave me mercy. He gave me compassion. What else do I need?
Maybe I have been saying these things regarding theology, and people think my life is boring and consumed by books. Well, of course I read books. But I am talking about devouring the Bible. Doctrine comes FROM the Bible.
In days when I feel worthless or super unproductive (that has happened lately as I have grown super tired because of my pregnancy ), I remember the Doctrine of the Atonement. And no, I don’t say, “Atonement is the reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ. DONE. I feel much better.”
No, I tell myself that no matter how I am feeling, I am not justified by works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ. I tell myself that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is not longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And that the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I tell my heart not to put its trust on how much I can do with the children for school lately because if righteousness were through the law, or through all these things that are good in themselves – if Christ really died for those, if I begin to rely on all I can do to make myself feel better – the Christ died for no purpose (Gal. 2:15-21).
I can go on and on giving more and more examples on how this has helped me personally in my faith. But I guess I just want to encourage the women who might be reading this that they can do this. It is not rocket science. People go hard after the things they really care about. We do make time for the things that we love, don’t we?
Start reading. Start listening to podcasts and/or sermons of pastors who preach in an expository fashion. Technology is – LITERALLY – at your fingertips.
You don’t know who preaches that way?
Here are some names: Paul Washer, Steve Lawson, Tom Ascol, John McArthur, Josh Buice, Richard Caldwell, John Bray (YAY for my Pastor), Jeff Durbin, James White – that should get you started. Many of those pastors also have either a blog, or a podcast.
Find a healthy church that preaches the Bible in this way. You want to learn more? That’s fine, but it begins with your local church. It is actually your Pastor’s job to watch over your soul. He will give an account one day (Heb. 13:17). You may want to read this article.
So really, the question is:
Do you love Christ?
Do you want to know Him, and the power of his resurrection, so you may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death? (Phil. 3:10-11)
Do you desire to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,so that Christ may dwell in you hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God? (Eph 3:14-19).
Do you want to advance the gospel regardless of the consequences it may bring in to your life? (Phil. 1:12-14). Do you want to learn contentment? It will involve suffering (Phil. 4:10-13).
If you really desire that (and there are many more promises in the Scriptures), things are not just going to happen. You need to actively pursue Christ knowing that you won’t be perfect in your pursuit, but that the God who bought you with his blood is the same God who will hold you fast as you run hard after Him. What He starts, He finishes (Phil. 1:6).
When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast; When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast. I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path; For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.
He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast; For my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast.
Those He saves are His delight, Christ will hold me fast; Precious in his holy sight, He will hold me fast. He’ll not let my soul be lost; His promises shall last; Bought by Him at such a cost, He will hold me fast.
He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast; For my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast.
For my life He bled and died, Christ will hold me fast; Justice has been satisfied; He will hold me fast. Raised with Him to endless life, He will hold me fast ‘Till our faith is turned to sight, When He comes at last!
He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast; For my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast.
Philippians For You. Commentary by Steve Lawson.
Founders Ministries. Tom Ascol.
Alpha and Omega Ministries. James White.
The Sword and The Trowel Podcast. Tom Ascol, Jared Longshore.
Just Thinking Podcast. Virgil Walker, Darrell Harrison.
CrossPolitic Podcast. David Shannon, aka The Chocolate Knox.
The Women’s Hope Podcast from the Master’s Seminary.
Delivered by Grace. Blog by Josh Buice.
Grace To You. John McArthur.
Sheologians Podcast. Summer White.
Christ Church. Doug Wilson, Rachel Jankovic.
Founders Baptist Church. Walking In Grace Ministries. Richard Caldwell.
A recent conversation with my son helped me realize one more time the truth that children learn/absorb more than we think they do from the environment in which they are spending their time.
We were listening to For The Longest Time, by Billy Joel, on my iPhone. I love that song, I love the tune of it. There is something about it that makes me feel happy, and it’s not the lyrics. It’s literally the music. My husband says it’s harmony. I’m not a musician, but I trust him, so let’s just say it is the harmony in that song what makes me smile.
Believe it or not, after 13 years of living in America, listening to music in English has never been one of my favorite things to do. I still can’t understand what most people are saying if they’re singing, and I still use the subtitles when I watch a movie. That’s why I don’t like talking to people on the phone. Unless I can have a conversation face to face, or I can communicate with them via text, I get very anxious.
So Enzo and I were playing Catan while listening to the song, and I was reading the lyrics on my phone. Then I read this:
Maybe this won’t last very long,
But you feel so right, and I could be wrong…
Who knows how much further we’ll go on,
Maybe I’ll be sorry when you’re gone.
I’ll take my chances,
I forgot how nice romance is,
I haven’t been there for the longest time…
I literally stopped the song, and said,“Did you hear that? What is he talking about? What does that even mean? He is saying he doesn’t even know if this is the woman he wants to spend his life with. He knows this relationship might not last for long, but she feels right for him, at least right now. Even if they end up breaking up, maybe – just maybe – he’ll miss her. But for now, he just wants to be with her because romance is nice. You are not to be that kind of man, you hear me? I am not raising that kind of man.”
He said what he always says when I give him that tone of voice, and he knows that a talk is coming. He said, “Yes, Patootie.”
We talked about the reality that his dad grew up listening to that kind of music. Emerson has also always listened to Classic Rock ever since we were dating sixteen years ago. He has also listened to Pop Music (from the 80’s, I guess). I think there’s some kind of nostalgia there, and it is totally understandable. I think Emerson’s inheritance from his dad will include at least seven hundred – SEVEN HUNDRED – records. So Emerson was raised listening to lots of different music.
I told Enzo that I had never asked Daddy to stop listening to that kind of music because I know that he likes it, and honestly, I really like the tune of many of the songs, too. I like some songs by Queen, or Paul Simon. There’s something about Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes – specially if you hear it in my husband’s music room.
Anyway, this was actually the first time that I had realized what Billy Joel was singing. So we talked about how music can really get you into certain kind of mood, and how you always have to be aware of what you’re singing because the reality is, most of the time, the more you sing something, the more your end up believing what you are singing.
And then Enzo said, “I know what you mean Mommy. Like, when it says, ‘So lock up your daughter, lock up your wife, lock up your back door, run for your life.'”
I asked him what in the world he was talking about.
He said it was from AC/DC’s T. N. T. I had never caught that’s where the lyrics said, since all I understand from that song is the “Oi, Oi, Oi” and “T.N.T, I’m dynamite.”
No, we don’t rejoice when we hear those songs, and as far as I know, Emerson has respected my wishes of not listening to specific songs that bothered me, like Queen’s Fat Bottom Girls, or AC/DC’s Highway To Hell.
What I am saying is that children are aware of those things even when I am not, or even when I think they are not. I firmly believe I should not isolate my children into a Christian bubble, otherwise they will be shocked when they go into the world. It is my job to train them, and to expose them to the evils in this world. I want to be the one introducing them to those things.
You may not agree with me, so I am posting this podcast for your consideration. Tom Ascol, who is one of the pastors that I respect the most (after my own pastor), relates the story of his high school daughter. She was homeschooled, and at one time there was an incident (involving cursing words) at the community college she was attending that made her vulnerable. He realized that there had been a gap in her education by her not knowing those foul words.
I really encourage you to listen to it. The podcast The Sword & The Trowel, by Founders Ministries, is also available wherever you get your podcasts. The YouTube link is below.
So with our children we watch all kinds of movies. We have watched Jaws, The Meg, all Jurassic Worlds, all the Marvel movies, all the Harry Potter movies, The Mandalorian (Season 2 is coming – YEAH!!), among others that might make many Christian parents cringe. I understand and respect that.
We talk about those movies. We talk about Moana’s false narrative that Unreached People Groups do not need the gospel. We talk about demi-gods like Maui, and the reincarnation of the grandma. Also, Moana seems to just be following her heart. We have talked about Frozen – particularly Frozen 2. Let’s just say it’s pretty dark if you think long and hard about the voices Elsa is listening to. We have watched Onward, and we have talked about the scenes in which there’s the push to normalize homosexuality.
They don’t watch nudity if there is any – including scenes where people are kissing in suggestive ways (like Anakin and Padme in Star Wars). We talk about cursing words. They are also watching The Simpsons with Emerson. I don’t like that show, but the children love it. They, along with Dad, think it is hilarious. Emerson also grew up watching them.
I actually interviewed Libby for this blog. I asked her to tell me about The Simpsons while I typed.
Homer is kind of an idiot, and because he is an idiot, he is kinda funny. He is a bad dad, and a bad son. He doesn’t even care for his father, and because of that, the children don’t care for their grandfather.
Marge is kind of nice to people, but her sisters are horrible. They hate Homer, and they smoke. Bart is a terrible kid, and when he does bad things, his parents don’t really discipline him. I don’t really think much about Lisa, other than she’s very smart. The Itchy and Scratchy Show… I don’t know why it is funny to them, it is not funny to me. Violence should not be funny.
Principal Skinner still lives with his mother, but he doesn’t really care for her. He acts like she is a burden. Maggie, you don’t see her very often.
Mr. Burns is very rich, and everybody works for him, and he is so selfish. Overall, I like The Simspons becasue they are funny.
And that’s that.
Emerson says that the fact that we know all that about the characters is precisely what makes them funny. I guess it’s like watching The Office. That show is so politically incorrect… and that’s exactly what makes it hilarious.
This is what takes me to my main point. The Simpsons was not the first thing I introduced my children to, nor has been it what I have filled their minds with. If Libby, an articulate almost 10 year-old, can have such an opinion of the show is because she has a biblical world-view.
My children have a standard for righteousness. They know what is right and what is wrong, and they know (for the most part, I mean, they are still children) how to evaluate the reality to which they are exposed to. Since they were super little we have worked very hardly to expose them to the Scriptures. They understand the gospel, and to the best of our ability, and by God’s grace, we are training them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
Tom Ascol mentions in the podcast (around minute 21) that the word INSTRUCTION (paideia in Greek) involves that you just don’t give your children facts, but you train them, you inculturate them. You actually instill a way of understanding the thing that you are teaching, and that goes along with Deuteronomy 6:4-9. No subjects are off limits, and of course, you don’t expose them to all the evils in the world, and they don’t have to experience it, but children do need to learn about evil from their parents.
By God’s grace, we have talked with our children about LBGTQ issues, sex, masturbation, pregnancy, rape, pornography, sexting, bestiality, sexual immorality, drunkenness, etc. It is all in the Bible if you are consistenly reading it with them. This has not been done in ONE sitting, and it’s really a long conversation that has happened over the span of many years. Maybe you might think they are too little for that. Libby is 9.5 y.o., and Enzo is almost 8 y.o. I respect your opinion, but I want to challenge you to think through it.
A long time ago, in an article from Focus on the Family, I read that what robs the innocence of a child is NOT the information you give them, but actually the self-discovery of such information, specially if they discover it or experience it in sinful ways.
I am not going to sit down with my child and show him what porn looks like, but I can describe it to him. I can give him wisdom on what to do if such images were ever to pop on a screen. I am not encouraging them to have sex before marriage, but I am going to explain to them the consequences of it. I have many consequences from it that I still carry to this day. And we always go back to the Bible, and what God has said about those issues, and the reasons God has for having set those boundaries for His people. It goes beyond just telling them that sex before marriage is sinful. We have to engage their hearts and explain why.
You see, sex in itself is not wrong or evil. Sex is a beautiful thing that God gave married coupes to enjoy each other, and when practiced between a man and a woman who are committed in covenant for life, it speaks to the relationship Jesus has with His Bride – the Church. That’s the kind of intimacy God wants with His children. Marriage is supposed to testify of the loving, long-suffering, compassionate, forgiving God. Jesus would never give up on His Bride, and say, “I am done with you, I don’t love you anymore.”
No! He died for her, He drank the cup of the wrath of God for her. “What then shall we say to these things?”says Paul. “If God is for us, who can be against us? He [God] who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)
And that’s why God hates divorce.
So I’m very welcoming of your criticism if you think I’m wrong in talking about these issues with my children. BUT – and this is a big one – IF you have your child enrolled in public school, and you think somehow they are not being exposed to all of the craziness going around in this culture already, then somebody is being naive. And I know it’s not me. Very respectfully I challenge you to think through it. I am not saying you have to homeschool. Maybe you do have to work, and private Christian school is not affordable (even a Christian school can only be Christian in name). I understand that. There are many situations that I don’t know about. I am talking about the parent whose child is in public school, and thinks his children are too young to know about these things. To assume your children are not being exposed to this already, in my opinion, is to be naive at best, and irresponsible at worst.
I think I’ve talked too much already, and haven’t said what I originally intended to say. Oh, well…
My point is this:
You know I have been reading Philippians. This morning I was in Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
I read my commentary, then I went for a walk and I listened to a sermon on it. I am linking the sermon here. It is a great sermon, and actually part of a whole series Pastor John McArthur taught on the book of Philippians. He says, “In order to be spiritual stable you must focus on godly virtues. Spiritual stability is a result of how you think.”
How true is that. As long as we don’t dwell and meditate on God’s Word, then we cannot train our children to do the same, and teach them how to think critically and biblically about the world around them.
I hope the photos of the commentary will help you see what we as mothers should be meditating on, dwelling on, and filling our minds with. You might as well buy it. It is awesome!
SPOILER ALERT: WE MUST DWELL ON GOD’S WORD.
I woke up in the middle of the night to finish typing this. It was around 2:30 a.m., and I couldn’t sleep. “One hour,” I said. “It will only take me one hour to finish.”
It is almost 5 a.m. LOL! Guess I am getting ready for those sleepless nights for when Danny is here 🙂
This is a very long comment I posted on a Facebook thread . I had to divide it in three parts because FB said it was longer than 8,000 characters LOL!
The comment had to do with a video that Rachel Jankovic, who I really like by the way, posted regarding Parenting. You may want to watch the video here so that you know what my comment was all about. I am just saving it for my own personal records, since Emerson jokes around saying I write Chapter Books instead of texts.
Somebody commented that my words had blessed her, and that meant a lot. My friend Katey from church also commented on it. You might think I’m just babbling, but the fact that women can actually interact with each other in conversations like this is proof that:
Women are super smart. Not that I was doubting it, but many seem to assume we want to talk about our feelings all the time, having it all dumbed down, and therefore, many Women’s Ministries in the Church just exist to give us milk – or less than milk. We want meat. Although I can’t generalize, I can say that there are many women who want solid teaching – not weak sauce. Also, lest you misinterpret me, my smarts don’t give me the right to disobey the Lord, and therefore preach on Sunday morning or exercise authority over men. Let’s be perfectly clear about that.
Women (and I will argue Moms) need theology. We need theology to raise our children. We need theology when our children get sick, when our children disobey for the hundredth time of the day, or when our husband dies. We need to constantly be looking to Jesus – the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).
I wish I can explain every single one of my points here, but I can’t. Also, if you happen to be reading and I sound like I am talking Chinese, take heart. This also would have sounded like Chinese to me five years ago. I just want to encourage you to know there are wonderful resources out there, and I hope I can link some of those at the end.
So watch the video first. And here we go:
I began reading about Covenant Theology because the Presbys (on a Presbyterian meme page) were always making fun of the Reformed Baptists saying we cannot be really Reformed. Which granted, being Reformed in your Soteriology (aka, you are Calvinist) doesn’t mean you’re thoroughly Reformed. Like say, John Piper is Calvinist, but he is not Reformed.
And I think Rachel is coming on this video with her understanding of Covenant Theology as a Presbyterian, and how their children are to be considered part of the Covenant. In my understanding, a truly converted Presbyterian couple is in the Covenant, right? Therefore, they baptize their babies assuming that their children are IN the Covenant, too. They do this just the way parents circumcised their children in the Old Testament. Parents in the OT assumed their children were part of the Covenant God made with Israel. Eventually, though, those parents had to recognize that a child of Israel may not be a true Israelite. This is exactly the point Paul is making in Romans 9 – that not all Israel is Israel. There was a true Israel within visible, ethnic Israel. I think that’s why Rachel says that eventually they would have to kick them out of fellowship if the children show no signs of true conversion. So I think that’s her presupposition to begin with since she’s Presbyterian.
So I got angry at the memes 😂😂 and I bought a book that’s published by Founders Ministries written from a Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology perspective. After reading that book, I understood my position even better. The book gave words to what I actually believe because I have seen it in the Scriptures. The way I see Covenant Theology as a Reformed Baptist is very different than Rachel’s, and there’s no way I can elaborate on the whole book, LOL!
But as I understand, the New Covenant was bought by Jesus’ blood. That means God made a Convent with His Son in eternity past (Covenant of Redemption) in which the Son would come to buy A people. Now, that developed in history in different dispensations, if you want to call them that, but the people is A people from every nation, and tongue, and there is no way that you know someone is IN the New Covenant unless that person repents and puts faith in Chrsit.
That CALLING happens in time, but it was PREDESTINED in eternity past. So if Chrsit bought you by His blood, you ARE in the New Covenant – you are CHOSEN (that’s precisely the L in TULIP), even though it takes time for you to realize that. So in that sense, I have always been a sheep. It’s not that I was a goat, and then I became a sheep. I have always been a sheep, but I had never HEARD Jesus’ voice calling me until I was 23 y.o. – that’s the language John uses in John 10.
So Chrsit did not die to make my salvation depending on my “free will” a mere possibility, but He actually bought my faith and my repentance at the cross, to make sure that I would eventually come (which is the I in TULIP). The father gave A people to the Son and those and only those will come. Those are the ELECT. That’s why Jesus said those who the Father gives to me will come to me… that’s why Jesus said to the Pharisees that they were not His sheep, and the reason they didn’t believe is not because they didn’t see, but because even though the saw everything he was doing, they were not of His sheep, and therefore didn’t believe.
That’s just the beginning of my argument LOL!
So THAT being said, I can’t assume my children are IN the Covenant. Given my understanding on Covenant Theology, and what the New Covenant represents, I can’t assume my children are IN that Covenant unless they profess faith in Chrsit. She seems to assume her children are IN the Covenant. So we have to disagree on that. Not on whether or not the children are ELECT (they might as well be), but whether or not we can assume they are.
But I do see her point, because when I realized TULIP was biblical, I was enraged. And for a long time I was in the cage stage, which happened at the same time that Enzo was at his worst, and so it was very tempting for me to say, “This child is a reprobate” LOL!
I was not saying, “This child is unregenerate.” I was given to despair and doubt and saying he was not of the elect since I didn’t see any fruit in him at all. Maybe, and I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt on that, that’s what she’s talking about. Maybe she’s talking about Baptist parents who see their children do not produce fruit right away, and they give up as in “You are not saved, you‘re never gonna be saved”.
I was always thinking, “Are they saved? They sinned again, even though the say they believe. Maybe they are not truly Christians, blah, blah…” And it was exhausting, because I was always crying. Maybe that’s what she is referring to.
Fast forward, God has worked in my heart to know that their ELECTION into the New Covenant is not my choice, nor their choice, but His choice. I’m sure Rachel will agree with that. I feel more comfortable teaching the children from the Scriptures all these realities and saying to them, “Look, God bought A people, and I pray and pray that you are part of those people. But the only thing I can do is share the gospel with you and call you to repentance. I can’t change your heart. I can’t give you light, I can’t open your eyes. When you sin, I can’t see whether o not the Holy Spirit is in you, but I’m calling you to examine yourselves.”
I am sure Rachel will also agree with that. I personally don’t think I am putting doubt in their minds. Yes, I was doubting as a parent, but not anymore. I know their salvation is not of me, and therefore I can’t assume it either just because I am raising them in a Christian household.
I am pregnant, right? As I see the Scriptures, this baby in my womb is an enemy of God. He is going to be born as a God-hater. He already is. Like, you don’t have to go far to know they will disobey, and they will rebel, right?
Libby was listening to pastor Bray like a month ago, and at the end of the sermon she broke down crying cause I think she put 2+2 together, and said, “What if Baby is not of the elect? It’s right there in the Scriptures, Mommy. It’s a true possibility.”
And Pastor John called her and said, “That’s is true. BUT I have a lot of hope for Baby Daniel because God works through means. He calls His people though the proclamation of the gospel, and I’m sure that Baby Daniel will hear the gospel since Day 1. He has already been hearing the gospel, and you are praying for him, too. Baby Daniel has already an advantage over many other children in the world, because he is born into a family who loves the Lord, a family who will read him the Bible, a family who will pray for his salvation. So while we don’t know for sure, we have many reasons to rejoice and hope that God will indeed save him.”
But that doesn’t mean I’m gonna baptize Daniel just on the assumption that God will CALL him, you know what I mean?
I agree with her in everything – almost. But I disagree with her first comment that I am teaching my children to doubt Chrsit. On the contrary, I think I am teaching my children to be realistic about their spiritual condition. I am teaching them to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith, and trust that if Chrsit is really IN them, then the Holy Spirit will testify TO THEM (not to me) that they are children of God.
If Chrsit is IN them, they will love Christ, they will experience conviction of sin, they will weep when their Lord is blasphemed, they will love God’s people. I have grown in this area, too. God has testified to MY Spirit that I am saved, that I am truly one of the Elect. You can know you are one of God’s chosen ones. People who misunderstand Calvinism always attack this issue. And I’m not saying this in pride, but you can actually know you are CHOSEN because the Scriptures teach us to see these beautiful realities. God did not reveal these doctrines so that we will be doubting, but so that we can be confident and be assured of our salvation, knowing that what He starts, He finishes (the P in TULIP).
I can say, “Well, Rachel, you are teaching your children to over confide in Chrsit because of their baptism.”
She seems to assume that 1 John, and walking in the light means salvation or fellowship with God. The child in my womb is in darkness, he is dead in sin and trespasses. Until God raises him from the death and grants him repentance and faith, he is blind, he is of the devil. He has a heart of stone, not a heart of flesh. Those are Scriptures terms, not mine. If you know your Bible, you know those verses.
Does Rachel mean I am still called to love that child dearly, and teach him the LAW so that they can say, “My family loves the Lord and they are teaching me how to obey the Lord.”?
If she means that by being in fellowship, then yes, I am raising my children that way. I am not only gonna teach my 2 year-old, that He is God’s enemy and that God hates evil doers, therefore God hates him – although that is true to some extent (Psalm 5, Romans 5). But I am also going to teach him that God died for His enemies, and for those who hated Him, that God is full of compassion.
So I have to preach the FULL gospel. Am I making sense? I am not going to wait until my child has a conversion experience to teach him Law and Gospel, or to teach him that breaking God’s Law will bring punishment. However, all the teaching, I will be doing it that under the assumption that all my toiling work is like planting seeds. I can’t assume God will bring the rain. But while I can’t have the assurance that the Lord will bring salvation, I can be faithful as a parent, and do MY part. I can preach the gospel, take the weeds out when I see them, pray for them, raise them in His ways, and then IF the Lord chooses to bring down the rain, everything is already in place. I toiled for it, and He gave me the perseverance in doing it, but bringing down the rain is still His choice.
I am not NOT going to do all these things just because I don’t know if the Lord WILL. My job as a mom is to do ALL those things, for His glory, even if HE does not save them. As painful as it might be, I know I will still hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” because it is about MY faithfulness in doing what He required of me as a parent. My faithfulness has nothing to do with whether He saves them or not.
When she mentions Ephesians 6, I agree. I am training them in His ways, and I don’t even have to assume their salvation. I am training them, and I do it with joy. I am not gonna raise Daniel telling him he’s not chosen or that he might as well not even obey cause who knows if he is one of the elect. I will teach him to love the Lord, and to sing praises to Him. I’ll teach him that God is good, and compassionate, and kind and faithful, and mighty – and HOLY.
So who knows the kind of Baptists she is talking about. LOL!
Libby and Enzo will officially be recognized as part of the church if they get baptized and begin having the Lord’s Supper. We were doing Lord’s Supper with them until Pastor Bray told us that was not biblical since they had not been baptized. He also explained us why. Even if they are baptized, and they continue to live in sin, Pastor Bray will withhold the Lord’s Supper from them, and will start church discipline. So Baptists, we also remove people from fellowship. I am shepherding my children to be about Christ – their whole identity. But even though they are being raised as part of the visible church, I cannot assume they are or will be part of the actual Bride. Does that makes sense?
There’s a danger on her side, too. She can see her children sin, and assume they are believers because she’s training them that way, and they really aren’t, so she will have to remove them at some point. We, as Reformed Baptists, will remove them, too – even though they are baptized later. We will excommunicate them, until they repent, and then we vote to bring them according to Matthew 18. I mean, the process doesn’t have to go that far. It can stop short of removing them from the church if they repent.
Anyhow, that’s why I am in agreement that faithful parents, either Presbyterian or Baptist, can look very similar. I will say I am in that category in which both parents eventually will have to get them out of the church if they continue to walk in sin.
I am glad she mentioned the dangers of her position with parents who baptized them and never deal with the sin in their children, or Baptists who might assume a child cannot know the love of Christ. I would say, my children may not totally understand everything, but my job as a mom is to show them Christ in my parenting: grace, faithfulness, discipline, etc.
Maybe by KNOWING Christ, she means teaching them to love Christ?
Again, I don’t believe my baptized infant child knows Christ, because you actually KNOW Chrsit until you come to him in repentance and faith.
Also, sinning does not equate not knowing Christ, if it did, then I don’t know Christ because I sin everyday. So maybe she’s talking about the parent who’s obsessed with their child walking in obedience always. Like the parent that wants perfection in their children, and freaks out when they are not perfect, and therefore doubts their salvation?
I agree, I am a sheepdog, bringing them back. Spanking them is how I bring them back LOL! One of the many ways anyway… so I do see her point.
I do believe she may have painted with a broad brush putting all Baptists in her category of how Baptists raise their children. Maybe she should hang out with us, cause we are Reformed Baptists, who are also Covenantal, although the memes might disagree.
I’m gonna stop right there. It took me very long. Sorry about that! But this is a public forum, and I officially said I disagree with Rachel Jankovic… I needed to explain at least why.
I honestly like her a lot. I don’t think she meant wrong. I think she may have assumed many things about Baptists, in which case, she needs better Baptist friends, or actually, she needs Reformed Baptist friends, LOL!
The children and I have been working on memorizing big chunks of Scripture lately. I found that Libby was able to memorize a ton of stuff one day when she came back from school. She quoted this “prophecy” from a book about dragons she was reading with her friend in second grade.
The Lost Continent
Turn your eyes, your wings, your fire
To the land across the sea
Where dragons are poisoned and dragons are dying
And no one can ever be free.
A secret lurks inside their eggs.
A secret hides within their book.
A secret buried far below
May save those brave enough to look.
Open your hearts, your minds, your wings
To the dragons who flee from the Hive.
Face a great evil with talons united
or none of the tribes will survive
Wings of Fire Series
When I heard her reciting all that without skipping a beat, I thought, “And here I am thinking you should only memorize one cute little Bible verse at the time.”
Last year – I kid you not – the three of us memorized Genesis 1. The whole chapter. It took us like a month. But like they said, Use It or Loose It. We lost it. So this year, I’m trying to strategize better.
What we do is that I read the section we are to memorize. I explain it to them word by word so they know what it means, and get familiar with the context. Then we memorize one or two verses, depending on how long they are. The next day we go back to the verses we already know, we recite them again, and we memorize a new one. And we keep on going like that until we finish the section.
I got this idea from a podcast that you can listen to right here. I have modified this method to the way my brain works, because I memorize better by reading the text, instead of by listening to the text.
Enzo is a listener, but Libby has to see what she is memorizing. Somehow the Lord is working it all out for us. This school year, I am happy to say we haven’t lost anything so far. We are spending time reviewing the verses that we had already memorized every ten days or so. As a reward for reciting them all, I give them extra time watching shows or candy.
They will do anything for extra candy.
Doing this seems like a lot of work, and it might be, but this method has actually been very helpful for us – even for Enzo – who is the most distracted 8 year-old that I know. He is a boy. He is always moving and jumping around. He seems to never be paying attention, and this drives me crazy. I just want him to sit down and listen – without even blinking. But in these eleven weeks of school, we have memorized Psalm 1, Philippians 2:3-11, Philippians 3:1-11, and Philippians 4:4-9.
In my own personal time I have memorized the first chapter of Philippians and Philippians 2:1-16ish. And I’m stuck there because I am not disciplined.
If you take the time to listen to the podcast, this women will say that memorizing Scripture this way is very powerful. It has served them well in counseling women. When you have stored in your heart not just one verse here, or one verse there – but whole sections of the Bible – you will be better equipped to pray for others, pray for yourself, and for understanding the context of a given Bible verse.
Consider this example from social media:
It is true. It’s in the Bible, so I believe it. An image like that, however, may make the reader think that the SHE in this Bible verse is talking about a woman. We, women, want to be strong. We don’t want to be moved. Some Bible versions say WITHIN HER, so that works out even better to convey the message, I guess.
God is in ME [within ME], therefore I shall not be moved.
When you go read Psalm 46, though, you will realize that the SHE in verse 5 is not talking about YOU – an individual woman in need of self-confidence.
Psalm 46 talks about God being the refuge and strength for those in trouble. It encourages us not to fear though the earth gives way or though the mountains move into the heart of the sea. And why shouldn’t we fear? We don’t fear because the holy city of God is inhabited by Him. God is in the midst of HER (the city), and SHE (the city) shall not be moved. God will help HER (the city) when morning dawns (Psalm 46:4-5).
I am willing to be corrected if I am wrong. I just find it extremely hard to believe Martin Luther wrote A Mighty Fortress Is Our God while thinking about a woman.
It was 1527, and the bubonic plague was sweeping through Europe. This vicious epidemic brutally struck the country of Germany. A large number of deaths occurred because of the plague. People were living in fear. Many were escaping town in search of safety. The issue for Luther was: should he flee for the health of his family and his own preservation? Or should he stay and minister to those who remained and expose himself to the deadly disease?
Luther made the difficult decision to stay in order to shepherd the German people. With his wife Katy, Luther turned their house into a hospital for the dying. Tragically, their young three-year-old son Hans contracted the disease and nearly died. During this season, Luther became so overwhelmed mentally and emotionally that he fainted at the dinner table more than once and had to be carried to his bed.
It was in the middle of this grim situation that Luther anchored himself to Psalm 46. In a time of weakness and pestilence, Luther wrote “A Mighty Fortress is our God” as a testimony to the strength he found in the Lord Himself. One of the verses of this famous hymn reads, “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing/Our helper, He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.”
It was Psalm 46 that gave Luther the inner strength he needed during this devastating plague. This psalm begins, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (verse 1). Here, we see two profound truths, that God is both all-powerful and all-present.
As the psalmist writes this, the city of Jerusalem is surrounded by enemy forces, undergoing a siege. There was a very-present threat––foreign armies that threatened Israel’s very existence. God was ultimately the walled fortress around the psalmist, protecting, preserving, and empowering him.
The same is true in our lives. God remains our refuge and our strength. It is in times of our weakness when we should turn to Him with the greatest trust. God is all-powerful, and He ever promises to uphold us.
So, can this be applied to me as a woman? Sure. And it can also be applied to a man because, again, the psalmist is talking of HER as the people of God. THEY shall not be moved. You can see the application of Psalm 46:5 here.
So when I see images like that on social media, I really struggle in assuming the best of people. Who knows who makes those images, right? But I see them everywhere. There are so many false teachers who love to make us, women, the center of the universe when we are not. GOD IS.
In short, this is why we are memorizing big chunks of Scripture this year. We want to honor the Word of God, and that includes not twisting it to satisfy our fleshly passions.
I was hoping to go into how memorizing Scripture this way has been particularly helpful for me as I am studying the Book of Philippians with a commentary in the mornings. But I guess I will have to write another post on why we should go hard after Christ.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
The last time I wrote something was about four months ago, but for some reason it seems an eternity has passed. Of course, in the middle of it, we have had the Rona, the BLM situations all around our country, and churches arguing over whether or not to gather on Sundays – with or without masks. Much has happened in our family even though it doesn’t feel like much since we have been in the house most of the time.
To start with, we successfully completed our first year of homeschooling. For many weeks straight I felt that Enzo would never love writing, and still he doesn’t. But it has been wonderful to see that consistency in disciplining him have been key in dealing with his rebellious heart. Last year I was so worried about curriculums, but if my first homeschooling year taught me anything, it is that the curriculum is not the most important thing to focus on. I am NOT saying it is not important. What I AM saying is that shepherding the hearts of my children should be my first priority.
I had to constantly look at our “Mission Statement” when I felt overwhelmed by the question, “Why are we doing this?”
My children are very smart, I have no worries about their academic future life. I sometimes worry about Enzo and his choices in life – what he will do for a living. But it is not because he is not smart, but because he struggles with laziness. Although, he wakes up at 4 am. sometimes to go running with his dad, so he is an early riser… My point is that even if their brains would allow them to become the next Nobel Prize or whatever, that in itself is a gift from God Almighty, and I am convinced that nothing they might accomplish in this life is worthy of praise – at least not praise from God – if they do it apart from knowing Jesus Christ savingly.
That is a hill I’m willing to die on – daily.
Among other happenings, we also had a fun summer despite the virus. We went to the beach when I was about 20 weeks pregnant. Oh, yes, I am pregnant. That’s a long story, so long story long, God changed Emerson’s heart regarding having more babies. So he had a VR, and after nine long months of trying, God answered our prayers, and I am pregnant with a boy. I think during this season of waiting, God taught me many things regarding His goodness. He is good no matter what. No matter how I feel, or what I think. Even if the answers to my prayers are a NO from Him, He is still good.
IT’S A BOY!!
During the first nine months of not being pregnant, the anxieties in my heart were a bunch of WHAT IFs – What if I don’t get pregnant? What if the VR didn’t work? What if I’m too old, and the baby is not healthy?
God really showed me things about my heart that were not right. Even after getting pregnant, the questions were different, but altogether the same, What if the baby dies? What if I have a miscarriage? What if I die during labor? What if Emerson dies?
Fear of death has always been a recurring sin for me. I know that for the Christian death has no victory – no sting. I know that. This is the worst fear I have: If Emerson dies, I don’t know how to handle the finances of the house – that’s it. I simply don’t know how. And that may be super silly for other women, but it paralyzes me.
The issue here is that in every fear that I’ve had, there’s always been unbelief on my part. So during this season God has shown me that I don’t take Him at His Word. Do I believe He will take care of me? Do I believe He will help me go through the death of a husband, and the raising of three children alone? Do I believe He will equip me with whatever He might deem necessary in order to administer the finances? And even if I go broke, do I truly believe in my heart that God will provide for me?
South Padre Island, June 2020
God is so good regardless of my circumstances. DUH… yeah. But when you are going through a season of anxiety, and fears, how do you deal with those?
When we were in the middle of the last school year, we were studying the history of Israel, and so we were pretty much reading the Bible chronologically. The lessons were kind of a helicopter view, but I wanted to study them deeper, so that I could explain it to the children better. So for the first time in my life, I read the book of Lamentations in context. I have read the Bible chronologically before, and it has been a tremendous blessing, but sometimes when you follow a Bible reading plan, you just want to finish. This time, however, I had to stay in Lamentations for a while, not only because I wanted to explain it to the children, but because it really opened my eyes to real suffering and real joy – both at the same time.
I was not pregnant yet, so I was really struggling. Why would God change Emerson’s mind regarding babies, only to NOT give us a baby? On top of that, Emerson told me he was not okay with me taking any medicine to increase my fertility as the doctor suggested. He said this was something about his obedience to the Lord, and that God would be the one to decide whether or not we were gonna have more family. And I was like, “So you spent thousand of dollars in a procedure just for the sake of obeying the Lord. That’s great. I understand that, but if I got cancer, wouldn’t you want me to have chemo? Why is this medicine different? We can have babies faster!“
You don’t get it, Karla. Stop trying to control things. If God wills, we will have a baby; if He doesn’t, then we won’t. I had the VR not to give you a baby, but to obey the Lord and go back to my natural state. And if you get pregnant, He will get the glory – not a pill your doctor gave you.
Of course, I argued back. If God was gonna get the glory anyway, then He might as well give us a baby without Emerson even getting the surgery – if it was all about not using medical procedures. Of course, I was selfish, and God was merciful to me in my irreverence. Also, Emerson ignored me LOL!
We tried super hard to get pregnant during eight months. But that last month I had been studying Lamentations for a while already. I was asking God to change my heart because the things I was reading were convicting me of my sin. Somehow I had made the desire to have another baby into an idol. I was crying every time I went for my morning walk, afraid that the answer to my prayer was going to be, “No, you’re not going to have another child.” I was doubting God’s love for me over this. I was questioning His goodness over this.
So the only day when we literally could have tried making a baby, I was so exhausted that I told Emerson maybe we could take a break and try next month. I didn’t even know if I was ovulating so there really was no rush. He refused, and then BAM – I got pregnant because of that one time LOL!
Ballon Fight to start the 2020-2021 school year – I hit Enzo right on the face!
Of course I didn’t know that night was the night that eventually would lead me to buy a pregnancy test, but I do remember one night when I was crying – again – and I told God I was going to praise Him in the middle of my fear. I did want a child, but I refused to worship the desire of having a baby. I wanted to worship Him. I wanted Him to be my portion, like Jeremiah said in Lamentations. That I was okay if God chose not to give us more children. Of course, I was gonna be sad for a while, but I didn’t really need a baby. I wanted God to teach me how to wait for Him like Jeremiah also said.
I wanted to know whether the answer was going to be YES or NO, but I asked God to help me learn how to wait for His answer – even if the answer was delayed, and even if the answer was NO.
I dwelled on the verses below for months before getting pregnant. I was really expecting not to get pregnant, but the day after I prayed for God to help me wait, I realized my period hadn’t come. I was late. And I was late not for two weeks or four weeks. It was actually day 28, but my hormones had been so crazy, and my cycles had been so random that I never made it to day 28 – ever. So I bought a pregnancy test that day and it was positive. That was so weird. I mean, I had just prayed the night before for God to help me learn how to wait, and then He answered the next day. Then I realized I still had to wait nine more months battling the same fears and anxieties in my heart.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Why has the book of Lamentations meant so much for me before the pregnancy and during the pregnancy? Well, this might get long, but I need to write about it.
Right in the middle of the destruction of Jerusalem, Jeremiah is praising God and rejoicing. He is suffering when he sees what he sees, but he also rejoices IN God. He is not enjoying his circumstances, but Jeremiah KNOWS his God is sufficient.
I wanted that for my life. My fear of not having a husband to provide for me, or my fear of not getting pregnant, or even losing the pregnancy at any point are things that may happen at any point in my life. God never promised me a bed of roses. So if bad providences were to come my way, where does my hope really lie?
Does my hope lie on people, on my circumstances, or on the God who cares for me? Little by little during that time, I realized that I don’t want to suffer. I don’t want to be bothered with life-pain (that affects believers and unbelievers) or with Christian persecution.
And yet, God tells me suffering for the faith is something every true disciple has to go through. These are some verses, just to name a few.
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 1:6-7
“When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
“This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”
People suffer for a variety of circumstances. Christians suffer on top of that for the fact that they are Christians. The world hates us. So if suffering is a given, how would I deal with it when it comes? What is the framework that my mind and my heart have to be aligned with, so that I don’t fall for my feelings, my own ideas or any other false teachings?
The frame work is God’s Word. The Word is what I should believe regarding who God is, what He does, and why He does it.
I wrongly thought God was just enjoying my suffering, like He was enjoying being mean to me. And that is just so… stupid. Over and over as I read my Scriptures, it was super clear His discipline springs out of love (Hebrews 12:4-11). He wants to make me like His Son (Romans 8:28-30). And even when He does afflict – because it is also super clear in the Bible that He does afflict – He doesn’t do it out of spite or just to get even with me. His wrath against me was put away at the cross. Any punishment was dealt with in Christ. There is no more condemnation for me from God (Romans 8:1). In His dealings with me, God deals as a Father, not as my adversary.
For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.
Lamentations is a sad, sad book. Jerusalem is being sacked, the temple destroyed (Lamentations 1:10), and famine, pestilence and the sword are coming – just as Jeremiah and Ezekiel had warned the people. And Jeremiah is watching all this happening. He recognizes it is the Lord inflicting all this on His people because they sinned grievously (Lamentations 1:8), and Jeremiah weeps (Lamentations 1:16). He recognizes the crown has fallen from Judah and Israel – no more Kings until Jesus is born (Lamentation 5:15-16).
But Jeremiah never makes excuses, he actually acknowledges the Lord is in the right for judging them (Lamentations 1:18), and also that the Lord warned them this would happen (Lamentations 1:21). Jeremiah’s eyes are spent with weeping, he sees babies dying, children who faint from hunger, women eating their own children (Lamentations 2:11,19, 20).
And yet all this is happening according to the plan and purpose of God (Lamentations 2:17). God spoke it and it came to pass, good and bad comes from the Most High. Why would men complain about the punishment of their sins? (Lamentations 3:37-39).
Jeremiah sees the affliction under the rod of God’s wrath. God has made him dwell in darkness, God has filled him with bitterness; Jeremiah has suffered so much that he has forgotten what happiness is. Jeremiah’s endurance has perished and so has his hope from the LORD (Lamentations 3:1-20). And then the most beautiful, contrasting verses come in the middle of all of this.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
I think every woman loves that Bible verse – the one about God’s mercies being new every day. I just never had read the whole book of Lamentations in context, so I could not grasp how deep Jeremiah’s suffering was. This is not a “I am terrified of not knowing how to handle the finances of my household if my husband were to die”- kind of suffering that Jeremiah is going through.
And I am not belittling my suffering or my anxieties by any means, but in perspective, I really have never experienced this much suffering. I do not know what it is to eat your own child out of hunger, or seeing the tongue of your infant sticking to the root of his mouth because of thirst. I do not know what it is to beg for food, with no one giving it to me; or seeing people looking blacker than soot, with their skin dried as wood, and shriveled on their bones due to starvation (Lamentations 4:44). I do not know any of that.
In Lamentations 3:18, Jeremiah’s endurance and hope have perished, but two verses later Jeremiah remembers something, and it fills him with hope once again.
Jeremiah calls to mind that the the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, that His mercies never come to an end, that they are new every morning, and that His faithfulness is great. All this while people are dying around him (v. 22).
Jeremiah then says that YHWH – the LORD – is his portion. It is Jeremiah’s soul confession that makes Jeremiah hope in the LORD. The fact that YHWH Himself is Jeremiah’s portion is what makes Jeremiah regain his hope in Him (v. 24).
I’ll have great helpers 🙂
It really took me months of pondering every day, I wish I were quick in dealing with my issues. In situations like this, I stop, and I go verse by verse on rabbit trails. I ask Google, “Google, what does it mean that the Lord is your portion?”
So I end up with answers like the one below that I then double check against my trusted preachers – which involves listening to sermons, or reading articles. It takes FOREVER, but my soul needs it, and that’s how I deal with my sin.
When a biblical writer says, “God is my portion,” he means that God is the source of his happiness and blessing. He is content with all that the Lord is and provides. He has the best inheritance imaginable and does not seek any possession or comfort outside of God. Riches, honor, friends and fame—nothing is as valuable as the promises of God. “My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26, NASB). If God is our portion, we need nothing else.
I realized God was not my portion. I could say He was all I wanted, but the fears and anxieties revealed He wasn’t. So it has taken a lot of time, praying and reading my Bible, asking God to help my soul say the same things Jeremiah’s soul said.
I’ve realized it is a command to rejoice in my suffering – not a suggestion. I am to rejoice regardless of my circumstances, knowing that the Lord is good. It is right there in the text. Jeremiah was able to do it when he took his eyes off the destruction and placed them on his portion, on his everything: the LORD. God is good to those who wait for Him, to those who wait for His salvation.
Jerusalem was not spared, and Jeremiah eventually died, but it is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. Jeremiah’s consolation was that God always sits on His throne enduring all generations (Lamentations 5:19)
This takes me to other rabbit trails, but I’ll stop right there. I cannot possibly write about what has been happening in my heart since Emerson had the surgery sixteen months ago. It’s definitely been a season of God confronting me with my lack of trust, and His abounding love for me, His patience and mercy towards me.
Rooting for the Patriarchy – pregnant, barefoot and cooking in the rain LOL!
Of course, I’m not excited at the prospect of suffering, but my God is good. I know He loves me, and that His love for me extends far beyond my existence – it reaches back into eternity past, where my God choose to enter into a covenant with His Son in order to rescue a people – a Bride for His Son. I am part of that people that Jesus Christ died for.
Nothing makes me feel safer than that – whatever suffering life brings. To know that I have been so profoundly loved by the Creator of the world, even before I was born… even before I came to Him. To think that He had already bought me with His blood even before I was conceived. Even if the loss of a child, or the loss of my husband were to be part of His plan to make me more and more like His Son (Romans 8:28), I rest knowing that I am totally and completely loved. I heard a teaching by Steve Lawson on The Unfailing Love of God. You should check it out.