Today’s Devotional

Guest-Writers

{A Time To Mourn} When We Find Comfort in the Fellowship of Suffering

Written By: Christy Mobley

I was having an out of body experience. At least I think that’s what you would call it.

Actually it was more like levitating over myself while watching the doctor deliver the news. It was just like you see in the movies, except I wasn’t an actress and this wasn’t a movie. An actress can’t conjure up goosebumps that dot her arms and legs at a moments notice. She can shiver, and do the tears yes, but goosebumps … no way.

The goosebumps were the telltale sign this was me. This was my life, my doctor’s office, my conversation.  Funny how your mind can do that—make yourself feel as if you aren’t there and you’re watching the whole thing.

It would have been kind of cool if it weren’t for the crushing news.

I was in the sonogram room five minutes earlier and over-the-top excited. And yeah, okay, a little nervous. Today was my 20 week appointment where I would finally see my baby for the first time.

As the technician rolled the wand across my small baby bump, I sensed something was awry. Sonogram lady didn’t utter a word. There was no chit-chat or smiles. Her blank expression said it all. And the words she didn’t say, I concocted in my mind for her. They really need to teach those people to do a better job at “not” delivering bad news. They’re so obvious when they tell you nothing.

I have to admit, I actually had a gut feeling weeks earlier. Mamas just know these things. My belly didn’t look as big as I thought it should, but I passed it off as having a crazy hormonal imagination and put on a happy face.

After the ultrasound technician was done , I dressed, and a nurse ushered me into my doctors office where the whole “out of body” thing began. In hushed, direct tones Dr. P. told me the sonogram revealed I had very little amniotic fluid in my uterus and the problem was likely renal-a-genesis.

That was Latin to me, but translated it meant, my baby boy had no kidneys.

It was a death sentence.

Our baby was born on January 16th.

Stillborn.

An interesting term, stillborn. It means “dead at birth,” but to me our little boy was still born. Born to us, his mama and daddy. Born without a breath.

Our first baby bypassed the pain in this life and went straight on to heaven. We held him and kissed him and said our goodbyes.

Family, friends, and neighbors, showered us with love and a lot of really good food.

But the love didn’t stop the grief from coming in waves like the drawing in and out of the tide. Each day I saw a little more sunlight but then without warning I’d get yanked back into a sea of tears. However somewhere in the midst of pain I felt the presence of God’s comfort. A peace that whispered, all would be restored.

Over the months and years that followed I came to understand the real meaning of the verse 2 Corinthians 1:3, where it says our God is “…The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

I couldn’t give breath to the baby I lost but through the experience of his death, God uniquely equipped me to breathe live-giving hope into other mamas. Mamas who suffered the heartache of encephalic births, miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, stillbirths, down syndrome births, all sorts of high risk pregnancies and fetal anomalies. Opportunities to love on those hurting, popped up all over.

Every time I gave out a dose of hope I received back a heap of healing. A circle of comfort within the fellowship of suffering. A plan of restoration only God could arrange.

We went on to have more children. Our last son, Aaron, was born on January 16th, the very day we lost our first son. The morning we brought Aaron home I noticed the calendar date and I felt God smile. There was no coincidence here.

By no means do either my husband or I feel our third son was a replacement for our first but rather a “God wink”. An assurance to us of His great and unfathomable love. A gift of hope.

Dear friend, have you suffered a loss? If you have, know that God feels your hurt and holds your tears.
“You have collected my tears in a bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8.)
He’s also uniquely equipped you to be a presence of His love for someone else walking a similar path. I pray you will be able to find peace as you bring the comfort of hope into the fellowship of the suffering.

for linkedin (1)Christy is a wife, mother, mother-in-law, mentor, and a first time grandma! Her passion is to help women find their joy in experiencing God at work in their everyday circumstances.

You can find Christy on her blog Joying in the Journey.

 

Guest-Writers

{Time to Mourn} Receiving God’s Blanket of Grace

Written By: Vicki Johnson

Motherhood had always been a part of my story. After welcoming 4 sons and 1 daughter into this world without a hitch I felt that I had done my part to keep the Johnson name alive and well. Then we moved into full time ministry and I started thinking about new chapters opening up in my life.

But what happens when life throws a surprise party and you wish you hadn’t been invited?

I found myself unexpectedly expecting. Sure, this would only be number 6 for a girl who had at one time chosen 12 names for future children. The book, Cheaper by the dozen, offered a myriad of possibilities for raising a large family.  All for the glory of God, of course.

Soon it would start: doctor’s visits, weight gain, physical adjustments to a growing baby in utero. My life and sleep times would not be my own for who knows how long. Sigh. Inward groan.

My hubby was excited to welcome another player to the team and seemed unaffected by the alterations this little addition would make. But day after day, I grew to resent the fact that God, who is the one who opens and closes wombs, had allowed this to happen. Especially since I had developed an issue with blood pressure and residual weight gain from previous pregnancies. Truth be told, I didn’t want to be pregnant.  But I certainly couldn’t tell my pastor/hubby that. I think he could tell, anyway.

Near the end of my second month I noticed the faintest pink on the toilet paper. My stomach lurched at the thought that something could be wrong with me or the baby. I prayed, “Lord, please keep the baby safe. Help me to know what to do.” I didn’t see it again for a few days. And then it reappeared. I went to the doctor who did some tests to see if the pregnancy was progressing properly. Each day I prayed for God to help me as I struggled with the potential problems it indicated. Each day I reminded God that He got me into this mess in the first place.

I would not have chosen to get pregnant now.

I would have done things differently.  I’m sure God got a few chuckles out of that.

The miscarriage happened at the worst possible time. My husband and our two oldest were ready to travel an hour and a half away for a monthly regional youth gathering where my husband was in charge of the music. I was experiencing heavy bleeding and intense contractions but tried to be strong and self-sufficient when it came time to say good-bye. He asked me twice if I wanted him to stay. At first I said no. Then fear got the better of me and I finally said that I needed him with me.

Pregnant five times before this, I went through labor, delivered healthy babies, and everything had been fine. This time, my laboring resulted in loss. Death makes life real.

In Ecclesiastes 7:2 we read, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to heart.” I lost a child that day. One for whom I hadn’t even prepared its first receiving blanket or newborn sleeper to wear because it was too hard to embrace the inevitable.

I also lost my fight against God. In mourning that tiny life I began to mourn the demise of my own conceptions of what my life should look like. I was challenged as to how far I was willing to trust God. He who opens and closes the womb also knows my blood pressure at this very moment. He knows my sitting down and my rising up; my struggles and my hopes and dreams. He holds it all in His hands.

A year later I lived in a different state but relived the same circumstance. But this time I had begun my condition with joy for what God would accomplish in me, receiving with the help of God’s Grace the developing life within my womb. I could look at baby clothes in the store and muse about the little one who might wear them. My husband entered a drawing for new baby stuff and I did too! Hopeful anticipation had made its home in my heart. I had even pulled out my collection of receiving blankets and newborn clothing and started preparing for the baby.

But it was not to be. My seventh and last pregnancy ended at 11 weeks gestation. It was just as messy and terrifying as the first miscarriage. But this time I had a greater appreciation for life and the One who created it and a deeper sense of mourning and loss for the child I would never mother here on earth.

“Blessed {and} enviably happy [with a happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace] are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted!” (Matthew 5:4 – Amplified Version)

Even in mourning there is a receiving that is done, wrapped in the matchless, varicolored Grace of God.

vicki-johnson-picVicki Johnson creates a lot of drama in southeastern Pennsylvania where she lives with her pastor hubby, David, and her daughter, Esther.

She has written a Bible study entitled, “Following Christ – A Disciple’s Walk of Faith,” enjoys speaking, singing, working at 1075Alive/WBYNFM as a part time announcer, writing her blog at Gracefilledgirl.com, and generally encouraging fellow Christians to walk in a way that pleases God.

Her sign-off on the radio comes from 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “Faithful is He who calls you and He will bring it to pass.”

Guest-Writers

{A Time To Laugh} Fire Breathing Dragon Mommy

Written By: Jenny Jerkins

True or False (ugh…the most loathed quizzes of all time).  Each night I go to bed so proud of my mothering skills for the day.  My son listens and exudes love and obedience.  I never lose my cool with him or my husband.  I have the energy of a thousand suns.  I am super mom who never wears leggings as pants.  I feel like Joan Cleaver.  Life is unicorns and rainbows.  We all know it’s all lies – all lies I tell you!  Yet, it’s the expectations we put on ourselves for some crazy reason (well except maybe the unicorns and rainbows part). Then what happens? We tend to erupt like Mount St. Helens when life is real instead of an episode of Leave it to Beaver.  Or maybe that’s just me.  I ooze (okay, spew) fire out and become fire breathing dragon mommy. And my voice sounds more like Marshmallow (the scary snowman) and less like Olaf.

I’ve struggled with reining my angry reactions in.  And it seems the older I get, the worse it grabs hold of me. I attribute much of it to my ever increasing approach to the threshold of menopause, which is super fun by the way and a whole other topic.  The uncontrollable urge to punch someone in the throat is just lovely.  I totally get Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes now.  Temporary insanity is a real thing.  Not to mention the sweating – ALL THE SWEATING!  But the reality is that satan knows our weaknesses and where we are vulnerable and man, he can bring out some ugly in us when we aren’t on guard.

So what is it exactly that turns us into the little girl from Poltergeist?  Sweet one minute, possessed and spewing pea soup the next.  Honestly I don’t have a clue.  I’m not a doctor or psychologist.  But I am a woman – and a wife and mom – who is in the trenches of life just like the rest of us.  We are normal.  And I don’t know about you, but I’m tired (SO TIRED) and I don’t want to be the fire breathing dragon mommy every day.  That’s not what I want my child to remember me being like.  Yes he is going to send me to the brink of insanity each day – uhm, because that’s what boys do – but my reactions don’t have to be in competition with that.

We all have different triggers – things that turn us grumpy as my son says.  But I will share with you three things that tend to make me go from sane to psycho in 60 seconds or less.

 

  • The Condition of My Heart

 

This sounds so “churchy” and something we all know, yet it is the hardest thing for us to control.  Our heart operates on auto pilot much of the time, but controls much of our body – including the filter from brain to mouth.  When I am out of fellowship with God, I can feel it and so can everyone else around me.  My defenses are up, I’m grumpy, and thus starts the day of battle after battle with everyone in my way.  Right out of the gate, I come charging out like a bull searching for the first clown.  But on the days that I get up those few extra minutes early, soak myself in the Word, and commune with my Savior the enemy has to flee.  He and God cannot co-exist.  That doesn’t always mean my mornings go perfectly and that my son listens and doesn’t act, well like a boy.  It just means that my reactions to his antics and disobedience looks a whole lot less like satan himself with a  pitchfork and more like a mother giving gentle correction (and not losing her ever loving mind).  Because for the one hundredth time, GET DRESSED.  Am I right?  It’s the same routine every day.  I don’t get it.  But I digress before my heart freezes again.

 

  • Emotions, Hormones, and all that Other Fun Stuff

 

I curse you Eve for eating that piece of fruit!  Seriously she set us up for failure.  I blame her for it all – the emotional instability, the hormones, the hot flashes – all of it.  Women are ruled by their emotions.  I mean we do make it fun for our husbands in a demented sort of way.  Bless their hearts. But this “stuff’ rules me so much of the time, and the worst part is that it’s largely uncontrollable.  And it makes us certifiably crazy.  All you young moms in your twenties – enjoy it.  Because sisters when you approach forty, you lose your ever loving mind to the brain eating parasites called hormones.  I’m not remotely kidding.  You can’t remember anything, and you long for the days where you were smart.  All of this fun stuff – emotions and hormones – take control of our hearts, minds, and our mouths.  And if we aren’t careful they will take control of our marriage and our relationships with our children.  They turn us into ugly and emotionally unstable beings, or at least they have me.  We have to manage it before it manages us.  If you are struggling with this (like I have and do), please seek counsel and medication.  Yes, God is there for us and we should rely on Him, but He also gave us people who are able to help us manage that ugly in ways that we can’t do on our own.

 

  • Life, life and more life

 

Life happens.  Crap happens in our lives that stinks worse than my son’s feet (pun intended).  Bad things are going to happen and life is going to deal us some hands that we can never be prepared for. And what do we (read I) do?  I throw a tantrum that can put some threenagers to shame.  I become that butt face that my child called me last week (he met the hands of Jesus for that).  Circumstances can catapult us into crazy land.  We say and do things completely out of character because we are in reaction mode.  And everyone in our path suffers from our nuclear meltdowns (I threw that in there for my nuclear hubby).

I don’t know how to completely avoid breathing fire and spewing venom altogether.   I’m a human and I’m going to make those mistakes as a mom.  But what I don’t want is to end each day in shame and guilt over having more bad than good moments.  I don’t want my pillow soaked with tears every night.  Our kids are going to disobey, life is going to happen, hormonal imbalances are inevitable, and we are going to have a lot of less than stellar moments. But with a whole lot of Jesus, coffee (and/or wine), and encouragement for one another we can’t go wrong.

Also, there is a great book that I love called Triggers, written by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake.  It is speaking directly to my soul.  It makes me feel normal and in less need of a straight jacket and muzzle.  Just like me, they love Jesus and their families, and desperately want to get this thing right.  They offer some great Biblical responses for those fire breathing dragon mommy moments.  You are not alone, mama.  Keep fighting the good fight.  God gave us the children we have for a reason – because He trusts us and knew we would be the exact mom they needed.  We will trip and fall flat on our face (especially if you are less graceful like me), but He’s always there to pick us back up.  His mercies are new every morning.

~ Jenny

Jen Jerkins headshotJenny Jerkins is a former engineer turned stay at home wife to Asia, and mom to the most spirited and hilarious little boy, Ethan who currently believes he is Batman.  Their battle with infertility led them to the greatest miracle of adoption.  Jenny desires to bring hope, encouragement, and the love of Jesus to others, and especially women.  She also loves to share the many candid moments of daily mom life where she is usually asking for Jesus to hold her.  Jenny resides in Augusta, Georgia where her southern accent is strong and her coffee is stronger.

You can connect with Jenny on Instagram (link: https://www.instagram.com/jen_jerkins/), Facebook (link:https://www.facebook.com/jenny.t.jerkins/), and Twitter (https://www.twitter.com/jen_jerkins/).

Guest-Writers

{A Time To Build Up} Motherhood Is Everything I Never Thought It Would Be

Written By: Jenny Jerkins

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” – Psalm 127:3-5 (NLT)

I was never one of these little girls who carried a baby doll around with me everywhere.  In fact, I didn’t even really like baby dolls.  I didn’t pretend to be a mommy, or even think about being a mommy one day. 

Then I grew up, went to college, and got married (in that order because that’s what I thought was the good little Southern girl thing to do).  I earned a college degree in Chemical Engineering (totally by the grace of God) and I jumped head first into a career.  I didn’t love it, but it gave me meaning and what I felt was value. My husband and I felt we wanted children at some point, but career came first.  I needed to validate myself in the corporate world and claw and scratch my way around in it for a while before I would even consider becoming a mom.  ME FIRST. (Insert caveat – I had no idea at the time just how selfish of a person I was). To make a really long story short, five years went by and I was at the peak of where I wanted to be.  I was knee deep in meetings, paperwork, and travel.  All my friends became knee deep in diapers, bottles, and toddler tantrums.  I was almost 30 years old and began to think “I guess it’s time to have a baby too.” 

Now at nearly 40, I reflect back on that blur of the first 30 years of my life and see just how ironic it was. Because what I didn’t know then was that my husband and I would struggle 5 years to become pregnant only to find out that we have dual infertility.  Meaning, the likelihood of us ever being able to biologically have children together was near impossible even with fertility treatments.  Every doctor said it.  And each time the words came out and a failed pregnancy test was thrown into the trash (or across the room), I blamed myself. Was it because I never played mommy?  Was it because I was a career woman?  Was it because of my sin? 

It was a pivotal point in my life as a woman and as a Christian.  The focus turned from me to Jesus.  I left that shell of a lukewarm life and ran straight into His arms (sometimes angry, sometimes devastated, sometimes hurt, sometimes confused – but always loved). 

Motherhood became everything I never thought it would be the moment our son was born.  God hadn’t punished me for my lack of mommy-hood dreams or for my selfish desires.  But He did have to get me to a place where I turned it all back over to Him.  And He had a greater desire to make beauty out of ashes.  That came in the form of an unplanned pregnancy in a 17 year old girl who was seeking a couple to raise the child growing inside of her, and that couple became us.  Our son is now 5 and I weep at the thought of what God did in each of our lives and how I love the irony of it all.  Motherhood wasn’t dreamed of, and didn’t even come the way I thought it would as that 30 year old woman.  It was greater – because of Him.

But it didn’t stop at our son’s birth.   Something began to change inside of me the moment I became a mother.  That career suddenly became the least important thing in my life.  And I did what I said I wouldnever do – I became a stay at home mom.  I even feel my eyes rolling at my former self now as I type it all out.  (Note: This is not where I say all women should be stay at home moms because they shouldn’t be.  I’m not even going to go there.). 

The whole journey to motherhood, and now through it, is everything I never thought it would be.  I envisioned a calm, listening, never talk back kind of child.  (Ok, so I was delusional).  What I got was a spirited and strong willed little boy.  He is a loud, has the energy of a thousand suns, and opinionated kind of boy.  But I love him just the way he is; the same way that Jesus loves me. 

Motherhood has taught me more about the love our Father has for us than anything ever could.  He loves us unconditionally, just as we love our own children.  He is good and He wants good for us.  Becoming a mother brought me to the end of myself and to the feet of my Father. 

How has motherhood changed you?

What is Jesus teaching you, or has He taught you, as a mother? 

How is life different from everything you thought it would be?

And, if you are struggling through infertility or would like to connect, I would love to talk to you and pray with you.  You are not alone.  There is a great support system full of women just like you out there waiting. 

– Jenny (jenjerkins@gmail.com)

Jen Jerkins headshotJenny Jerkins is a former engineer turned stay at home wife to Asia, and mom to the most spirited and hilarious little boy, Ethan who currently believes he is Batman.  Their battle with infertility led them to the greatest miracle of adoption.  Jenny desires to bring hope, encouragement, and the love of Jesus to others, and especially women.  She also loves to share the many candid moments of daily mom life where she is usually asking for Jesus to hold her.  Jenny resides in Augusta, Georgia where her southern accent is strong and her coffee is stronger. 

You can connect with Jenny on Instagram (link: https://www.instagram.com/jen_jerkins/), Facebook (link: https://www.facebook.com/jenny.t.jerkins/), and Twitter (https://www.twitter.com/jen_jerkins/).

Kerrington's Posts, {Beauty}, {Faith}, {Life}, {Love}, {Worth}

When I was camera shy…?

Written By: A very insecure girl.

Let’s take a walk together down memory lane…

When I was young, I loved having my photo taken, but when this comes to mind I remember a certain time in my life where I loved it even more…That was year 6 of my little life. I loved getting dressed up in fancy outfits, taking hours in the bathroom doing my hair a certain-perfect way, lathering my face with fake kids make-up and putting on my hot pink plastic high-heels that had a large, fake diamond on the front of them.

Although, with every step was squeaky sounds coming from my feet below as I walked on our 90 year old, original hard wood flooring in our bunagolo styled home. To the great amounts of pain and loss of feeling that my poor feet were experiencing…this was an invigorating time for a 6 year old.

I would walk ever so carefully in my heels to find my Mum and have her take photos of me with our family’s non-digital, non-seeing the picture till its developed camera, in our sun shine filled living room and cozy covered porch.

I felt alive when these photos were being taken. I felt beautiful. Like everything was simply perfect.

Now fast forward 13 years. There I was getting my make up and hair done. Sitting waiting to have my photos taken with my love for our 1 year anniversary.

(This should have been another invigorating experience…yet that entire day I have never felt so sick, nauseous, and nervous before in my life.)

After a couple hours of pampering, I was ready. In my beautiful dress that I had bought for this special occasion, wearing my boots that my Grandparents had bought me, make up done, and hair just right.

My love arrived to our home, I was upstairs doing some finishing touches. I heard him come in the front doors, I was beyond excited to see him, yet I couldn’t walk down the set of stairs before me. I was so nervous.

I had to have him come up the stairs to me, because I was having such a hard time facing him. Shaking inside as I heard the creaking sounds as he walked up the stairs…He looked at me and smiled like he always does. He said that I looked beautiful.

I was trying so hard to understand why I was feeling this way, I mean this wasn’t our first photo shoot. I loved getting photos taken of me, my whole life and then, it came to me… as we were driving to the location where we were getting the pictures taken.

This was the first photo shoot since I had gained 63 of the most ugliest pounds from my medication. I was camera shy. I was scared.

Feeling terrified of what I would look like on camera, we began.

All through the shoot I continued to be nervous. With every pose, thoughts swirling around in my weary heart,  “What do my legs look like?”, “What does my stomach look like?”, “What about my arms…do they look like legs?”

This vicious cycle went on, the entire time.

Then the photos were revealed to us in less than 1 weeks time and I was amazed. Even though I have gained lots and I was nervous. They turned out amazing.

Sisters, no matter your size NEVER, I repkerjosh2017-17.jpgeat never be camera shy. God created you. Yes, YOU!!! He even created me knowing that I would gain weight rapidly and hate my body through it. He knew that I would be nervous, because He knows it all. Never forget…ANY size. You’re beautiful.

Until Next Time,

~An insecure girl, who knows she’s secure in her Heavenly Father’s arms. (Kerrington)

Heather Brooks Photography.

Guest-Writers

{A Time To Heal} Trusting God

By: Olivia Brush
It was Wednesday, March 23 I remember the day so clearly it was the day I started falling in love with the man of my dreams. He seemed to always check everything off my “Must have” list. We definitely had our ups and downs but in the moment it seemed so perfect. It was in those few months life seemed to me so perfect. I all my friendships were in a good place everything was just perfect. But its always in the moment when you think you have your life in order. When you feel like you’re finally where your meant to be doing what you’re supposed to do its at that time the enemy comes in and tries to mess things up.
The week I’m about to talk about was probably one of the hardest weeks so far for me to get through. It all started Tuesday night, I came home from volunteering at my local church I went straight to my room to get ready for bed as Tuesdays are very long for me. My Mom then came in my room as I was just climbing into bed. She sat down on my bed and said some not just very painful words but life changing. I immediately zoned out and starred off into nothingness. As she tried to get me to focus back into reality I physically felt my heart break in to what seemed like a million pieces. It felt like nothing could stop this terrible feeling of heartbreak. In addition she then preceded to explain her reasoning, but it just seemed to break my already shattered heart even more.
I went to bed that night heart broken as I did the next few months. A couple days went by after that terrible, exhausting night. I went out for breakfast right before school with a close mentor of mine. I knew I could share what I was feeling in my heart. She gave me wisdom and hope for the future. Believe me complete healing of the heart takes time. Most of the time healing comes with time. Months have past by now and I still have days where the only answer I have for what I’m feeling is tears. Life still doesn’t feel the same cause complete healing of the heart sometimes takes the longest.
I built myself a hectic busy life, I tend to use this chaos to run from what I truly feel instead of dealing with it. Long story short, healing of the heart in my opinion takes the longest to heal.  But just like someone once said “Faith isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice to trust God even when the road ahead seems uncertain.” Trusting God in a season of heart break can sometimes be the most difficult choice. But ladies I encourage you to trust God even when the next step in the stair case seems uncertain. In addition, God is the only one who truly knows the pain in your heart.
Olivia BrushOlivia Brush is the third child out of four in her family. she has two brothers and one sister. Her parents got divorced while she was a young girl. She lives happily in Amherstburg Ontario with her Mom, Step Father and her little brother. She has a very sensitive personality and often takes things to heart. Olivia is a active volunteer in her town which makes her a very busy young lady. In the future she plans on going to bible college and becoming a Children’s Pastor. She enjoys going on coffee dates with her friends, as well as journaling after a long day and hanging out with friends. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest!
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Even when I walk through the fire…I won’t be burned.

Written By: Pastor Kerrington Sweeney

Here I am sitting in the exact spot, where 7 weeks ago I had my last anaphylactic attack.  Where my breath was stolen right from me, my heart rate was sped up to ridiculous beats per minute and my life flashed before my eyes, yet again.

People ask me often…”How did you do it?”, “How could you still say God was faithful?”, “How could you get up the next day, head to work, and act like nothing happened?”, “How could you even still have any joy when you walked through that fire?”

It’s questions like this that bring me to my knees. Oh Sisters, we serve an incredibly faithful God. Even through the fire, He’s there. Being told on more than one occasion by medical professionals that “We almost lost you there, that sure was a close one. Be thankful that you’re alive.”

To be quite honest it is not a comforting feeling, knowing that you almost lost your life…AGAIN. Moments like these dear sisters, is where fear creeps in like a thief in the night. Like John 10:10 says, “…The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;”

This is so very true. Time and time again between 7:30pm-9:00pm I would have my anaphylactic attacks. Fiercer and fiercer did they ever come. Worse every time. My faith was weakened to its breaking point. Like a thief in the night they came.

Although, while this was all happening…may I remind you, I was still keeping up my pastoral responsibilities. There I was… barley enough strength to get up and shower, I put on my “Pastor Hat”, left the fears raging inside me to rest, let the tears behind every comment that came my way roll to the back of my mind, put a smile on and pushed through.

Joy was absent. Fear was present. Hope had ceased. 

“Why me, God?” was the constant thought and prayer of my weary heart.

Every prayer time, small group, staff meeting, and bible study I would raise a hand for prayer. Desperate in searching for answers. I couldn’t bare this weight on my own. My arms were tied together with old rusty, chains of fear and restraint.

Like I have said before, I hit the bottom of my rock bottom. A friend of mine one day texted me this verse and I was amazed at how much this particular verse applied to my current life situation. It was this exact text:

“Hello sweet friend. This verse is for you. Isaiah 43:2b says “…When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned…”

She continued on to encourage me to begin claiming this over my life ever time something happened or fear crept in, “Even when I walk through the fire…I won’t be burned. 

After some time this began to be my hearts prayer, with every attack and bucket of fears that came my way…I would take moment, stop, and whisper to my Heavenly Father      “No matter what, I won’t be burned. You are a faithful God.”

As I write this, I can vividly recall on the many times where I would be whispering this very prayer under the breath that I had left in me, riding in the back of an ambulance on my way to the hospital. “Even through the fire, I won’t be burned.” To this day, this has been my prayer. 7 weeks later anaphylactic reaction free. Thank You God, You are faithful! Sisters, if you remember this one thing, remember this…

 “Even through the fire, you won’t be burned.” 

Until Next Time,

~Pastor Kerrington

Kerrington's Posts, {Beauty}, {Faith}, {Life}, {Love}, {Worth}

The ever-changing plans, of our constant Saviour.

Written By: Pastor Kerrington Sweeney

Sisters, have you been in a place in your life where the going gets tough? Where your emotions run like wild fire? Where there is one too many unanswered questions or uncertainties? BUT you’re doing everything right and following God’s word to a tee?

Yup, I have SOO been there…And I sincerely hope and pray that this blog-post serves as an encouragement to you, on your journey of serving the Lord wholeheartedly. Today’s topic is…God’s Will. Oh my…what a complex thing that truly is.

“God’s will is ever-changing to the human eye, yet our Lord and Saviour is always constant.” 

Learning to see and hear the subtle signs of the Holy Spirit’s leading and listening to His directions is crucial, especially in the day and hour we live in.

Here’s a definition of “God’s will” from The Bible Study Tools website. “…as vast as his entire plan for creation, and from the standpoint of objective content, it seems to be settled and unchanging. Old and New Testament writers can thus refer to God’s will as if its existence is accepted by all. But though it may seem to have the character of a broad blueprint, in practical applications it is expressed in specific terms. God’s will can also be viewed from its active side as his conscious “deciding,” “willing,” and “choosing” to do something…”

3 specific areas of this definition above, are what I would like to dig into and discuss today, with you my sisters.

  1. It’s settled and unchanging. 
  2. It’s existence is accepted by all.
  3. It seems to have a character of a blue-print, in practical applications.  

It’s settled and unchanging: It says various times throughout the Bible that Our God, is never changing…here are a few examples below:

Settled definition: “steady or secure style of life.” 

Unchanging definition: “not changing; remaining the same.” 

Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever.” 

Malachi 3:6 says “For I the Lord do not change…”

Numbers 23:19 says “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”

Isaiah 40:8 says “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” 

2 Timothy 2:13 says “If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” 

All these verses explain to us that God’s will is never changing. Its settled. Yesterday, today and forever. He never changes. Although we as humans, lie and sometimes don’t always keep our promises and change our minds…God always keeps His promises and never changes His mind. He stands faithful forever and in those moments where we are faithless. Oh yes…we of little faith, He remains Faithful, for he cannot deny himself.

No matter how many uncertainties and unknown paths come your way. God’s will is settled and unchanging for you, my sisters.

It’s existence is accepted by all: This category doesn’t have scriptures to relate to, but in the culture we live in, I thought this category was neat. How many times do you hear in movies “Oh, its JUST providence…” or coincidence somethings happen. I know that I have heard these statements countless times. But did you know that this statement is subtly saying

“Oh, its God’s will…”

When I thought this through, I was amazed. Non-Christian people saying this, don’t even completely understand that ‘Just Providence’ is really ‘God’s will’ in their lives. God’s will is accepted by all whether they realize it or not.

It seems to have a character of a blue-print, in practical applications:

How many of you dear sisters know how to read a blue print?

I would say probably 90% of you have no clue how to, 5% have done it before and the other 5% know how to. If you aren’t trained in blue-print reading, it’s hard to sometimes understand what the blue-print is saying…it’s difficult to understand the messages its trying to say, what the little words and letters the blue-print writer is tying to say to it’s readers.

God’s will at times, is just like a blue-print. Its hard to understand, its unclear at times…The Lord sending messages to us that we don’t yet understand. Seasons of life where you question “God, are you still there?” God’s will although to the human-eye may seem like a complicated, hard-to-understand blue-print. Our Heavenly Father always has practical applications for your life to help begin the process to better understand the messages on YOUR life blue-print. Sometimes it takes awhile to understand the applications and other times its a drastic eye-opening experience that you see God’s will for your life.

So sisters, if you remember one thing, remember this…

“God’s will is ever-changing to the human eye,

yet our Lord and Saviour is always constant.” 

Until Next Time,

~Pastor Kerrington

Guest-Writers

{A Time to Kill} But God.

Written By: Michelle Nehrig

After sharing part of my testimony recently, the listener suggested that my passion is redeeming stories.
I love to hear a story of how God has moved in someone’s life. I have a burning desire to share the story of how God has shown up and shown out in my life in miraculous ways. Seeing how God kills old habits and strongholds in the lives of His followers ignites something within me.
And this would make sense. After all, He is still writing my redeeming story.
I am a single mother with two amazing kids, by two different dads. I was never married to either of their dads. Long before I had children, I was married and divorced. By society’s standards, I am a failure.
But God.
But God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
But God doesn’t look at the outside of man. He looks at the heart.
Let’s talk about what God is killing in me.
He is killing the desire to sin.
He is slaying my selfishness.
He is murdering my desire for worldly possessions.
He is abolishing my need for monetary gain.
The enemy wants to remind me of my past. He wants to remind me of all of the wrong that I’ve done.
God wants to kill Satan’s lies with His truth. His truth which states that I am loved. I am worthy. I am a child of the King. I am valued in His Kingdom.
The enemy wants to remind me of the bad choices I’ve made.
God wants to kill the enemy’s reminders; instead reminding me of the words in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
The enemy wants to tell me that, not only have I made mistakes, but I am ONE BIG mistake.
God tells me in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” So that we know, in God, nothing is an accident or a mistake.
More often than not, it is not pleasant to talk about killing or things being killed. Unless we are talking about the bad habits and sinful ways of our flesh. When these are the discussion at hand, then it is encouraged to talk about the ways God is killing these traits in us.
I press on with my prayers for more patience and more love and more kindness and more encouragement toward others. I push forward because I know this is not all there is for me. And it’s not all there is for you, either. God has more. He is still writing our redeeming stories. We just have to give Him the pen and stay the course. His word is the last word. I know it will be a good one.
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Michelle Nehrig
Michelle is a daughter of the King of Kings. She loves Jesus, her children, coffee, and books.
Michelle is grateful for the grace that is heaped upon her daily by her heavenly Daddy. She is still learning how to accept it for the gift that it is. You can find her thoughts, life-lessons, and sometimes comical adventures with her animals at: beauty in between. Her life verse is Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” This is something she is still learning.
Kerrington's Posts, {Beauty}, {Faith}, {Life}, {Love}, {Worth}

One Simple Act.

Written By: Pastor Kerrington Sweeney

Have you ever had a long, rough week? A week where it seems that everything is going wrong. Feels like everyone is working against you and then it starts thundering and raining outside. Yup, I have been there.

Depressing for sure. A week like that happens way too often.

I had a week just like this one awhile back. Dealing with drama, hearing rude comments being said straight to my face, and in all honesty, being completely blunt here…nasty things wanted to climb out of this Children’s Pastors mouth. It was one of THOSE weeks.

I still remember the moment that changed my week for good…with one simple act.

It was a youth night at the church, where my boyfriend serves in ministry. I was taking some moments to pray and worship in the sanctuary before the students arrival to the youth group. Pouring my heart out to God about how terrible my week was and how tired I was with dealing with people, with issues, and with drama. I was almost in tears with the amount of heaviness that was on this weary woman’s heart. My soul felt weakened.

Heard a little noise and quickly turned and seen out of the corner of my eye, one of my girl-students standing at the end of the pew I was sitting in. She had a bouquet of spring flowers hand-picked from her very own garden, a smile as wide as the Pacific Ocean and such a proud twinkle in her eye.

She gently handed me the bouquet of slightly, wilting home-garden, grown flowers and said these exact words:

“These are for you! Hope you’re having a great week.”

Sisters, this 12 year old girl changed the course of the rest of my entire week. I felt loved, appreciated and purpose-filled. NO…Not because she gave me flowers but, because I knew that me being even just there, was impacting her in a small way.

This my dear sisters, was one simple act. Which was infused with encouragement for my weary soul. Her facial expression will forever be engraved in my mind…she was so proud.

How many times have you thought to do “One Simple Act” and simply didn’t because you didn’t think it would make a difference? If you remember when think today, remember this: “Simple Acts lead by the Lord…make BIG differences.” 

Keeping the “simple acts” in mind, a story I heard a preacher once share, was close to something along these lines of what I can remember.

“A girl questioning her faith, feeling like she was a mistake and why she even existed on this earth, came to church one night to youth and she prayed these words to God…

“If you’re real you will show me in a tangible way tonight. Someone will give me a bouquet of all yellow flowers with only 1 purple flower in the middle of it..then I will know that you are God and I won’t kill myself when I go home later.” 

The night went on at youth group and still no flowers. It was just about to end at the program, when one of the church congregational members walked in and said in a very exuberant voice to the Youth Pastor, “I have to give something to a girl who is going to kill herself tonight…she needs to know that she is loved, forgiven and accepted by the Lord himself.”

The youth pastor in shock and utter amusement (Thinking “what is this lady doing??”) he hands her the microphone out of his hand. She announced loudly, her statement she heard from God and the room stays silent, no one says anything.

She begins feeling a little nervous and thinks “Am I sure that what I heard was from God?” Then she says in a little more timid, nervous voice “……Did someone ask God for a bouquet of yellow flowers, with one single purple flower in the middle?”

A loud sob, comes from the back left corner of the room and sure enough there she was. A girl who needed a tangible reminder from her Heavenly Father, to make sure she knew she was loved, cherished, accepted and treasured in His eyes.”

Now although, my personal experience wasn’t as drastic as this one was but, God truly works in mysterious ways even through people to send tangible simple acts, sent as reminders to God’s children of His daily faithfulness.

Sisters, are there other women in your life that you know could use some encouragement in a “One Simple Act” kind of way?

We all know someone who needs extra love and grace. Why not stop whatever you are doing right now and encourage someone. Make them feel loved and appreciated for everything they do in your life.

Sisters, remember this “Simple Acts lead by the Lord…make BIG differences.”

Until Next Time,

~Pastor Kerrington Sweeney