When the Fireworks Lost Their Sparkle

when the fireworks lost their sparkle by nicole bernard on devotional diva

[Guest post by Nicole Bernard: We’re welcoming back Nicole today to share her perspective on how our sins hurt God.]

The Fourth of July can be quite stressful…. at least that’s my experience as a mother to a rescue basset who suffers from anxiety issues.  This year, while my husband, Steve, and three-year-old son, Carter, sat outside enjoying the fireworks, I remained inside with Lucy as she paced, panted, trembled, and occasionally lost control of her bladder (and worse).  

As I sat crouched on my knees near our living room window, scrubbing away at the carpet, a burst of light flashed, catching my eye.  Turning my head, I was soon captivated by the nearness of the fireworks.

Sheepishly, I realized what was truly happening:  There I was on my hands and knees, literally scrubbing away precious time while my family was outside making wonderful memories.

Abandoning my task, I jumped to my feet, heading towards the door.  It was time to take my place in those memories… not remain in the background cleaning up after a neurotic hound dog.

Turns out, that was only the first lesson I learned that night.

I came through the door to see Steve and Carter, side-by-side in lawn chairs, watching the sky.  Smiling at the picture they made, I came up from behind, squeezing Carter’s shoulder.

My son, who’d always loved spending time with his mom, looked at me and said, “No, I don’t want you.  Go inside.”

Though I don’t take orders from a three-year-old, I can’t say his words didn’t slash…that my happiness didn’t dim; and that the lights in the sky didn’t suddenly lose their luster.  Here was my son; this precious little person whom I love so much…for whom I’d suffered, sacrificed, and rearranged my entire life for…telling me to get lost… It was my first real rejection from my child, and it cut deep.  

But don’t I do that to God, my Father?  The truth is that God created the earth and the heavens for his glory.  We, too, were created to reflect his glory, and to embrace with gratitude the gifts he’s placed all around us.  How much time have I spent failing to recognize what he’s done for me; the glory that is obvious all around me?

It’s so easy to fixate on the things we feel are lacking in our life; to become consumed by the few things that we want but don’t have… and somehow miss God’s glory and his very presence all around us.  

For years I didn’t understand that my sins hurt God.  I reasoned that I was only hurting myself.  But what if that’s not true?

If the underlying cause of all sin is a basic rejection of God and his ways, why would I not believe that it would cause him pain?  In Deuteronomy when God speaks of the Israelites he says:

“For I will bring them into the land I swore to give their ancestors – a land flowing with milk and honey.  There they will become prosperous, eat all the food they want, and become fat.  But they will begin to worship other gods; they will despise me and break my covenant.”

Deuteronomy 31:20 NLT

How had I believed this would not be hurtful?  With all God did to demonstrate his love for the Israelites, and all the miracles he performed while freeing them from slavery…  How could I ever believe that their blatant rejection didn’t sting?  

On the Fourth of July, I began to understand.

With Carter, reconciliation came quickly.  Less than an hour after telling me that he didn’t want me, he was cuddled in my arms falling asleep.  And though he’d hurt me, I was more than willing to embrace him.  The same is true of our Heavenly Father.  In whatever way we’ve rejected him, be it intentional, or unintentional, the remedy is simple.

He’s ready to forgive and restore.  Just tell him, repent, and rush into his ever-waiting arms.

And enjoy Him.

“Sing hymns to God;

all heaven, sing out;

clear the way for the coming of

Cloud-Rider.

Enjoy God,

cheer when you see him!”

-Psalm 68:4 MSG

nicole bernard on devotional divaNicole has spent the past 3 years as a stay-at-home mom to her young son (and two hound dogs); and considers this time away from work to be an incredible blessing. This season at home has given her the space to focus on growing in her relationship with God as well as the time to explore her faith in writing.  You can read about her journey at Faith Over Understanding.  (If you are a dog lover, you may also enjoy her dog blog: Two Suburban Hound Dogs).

Continue Reading

Blessed to Be Back!

blessed to be back devotional diva
Please enjoy this cheery (and really unrelated) pineapple photo!

I’m so happy and blessed to be able to come back to Devotional Diva and continue to help women share their stories. I think I have some great posts lined up, and I hope you’ll enjoy them.

The Devotional Diva schedule will be only Tuesdays for the time being. I thought we should ease back into this!

If you’d like to submit a post and “Become a Diva,” please follow this link!

alice devotional divaI’d like to introduce you to Devotional Diva’s new social media intern, Alice Carter! Actually, you might already know her because she guest posted last spring.  She’s taking over the Devotional Diva social media pages and also will be posting some of her own devotionals!

 

My days over the summer break were filled with time with visiting family and lots of snuggles with my boy. I’m enjoying my new little family and this new stage of my life, even though I won’t deny that being a new mom is hard.

I mean, motherhood itself is challenging. But I feel like I need to adjust to a whole new life — a new schedule, a new way of going about things, a new body… (in fact, I published a post on my personal blog regarding body confidence — if you’d like to check it out, follow this link!) A lot of new-ness.

Remember how I talked about my trust issues with God? I’d say I have some new-found trust.

On Oliver’s one month birthday, I found some streaky marks (almost like stretch marks) on his skin that kept popping up. He would be swaddled, safe in his crib and get new ones in random places. I felt I need to call his doctor. We went to our pediatrician that day and he thought it was bruising. He said if he was bruising that easily, it could be a bleeding disorder, but that he thought Oliver most likely had low platelets.

Then he said these scary words: “I want you to be prepared that he might have to go into the hospital tonight.”

I was so taken aback that I gasped. It was an especially sad thing to hear because my mother-in-law was arriving all the way from Iowa that day.

Thankfully, all of Oliver’s blood work that day came back fine. No hospital! He didn’t have low platelets, so the pediatrician said it was probably a bleeding disorder and that Oliver would need to see a specialist.

We had to go to a pediatric hematologist/oncologist where there were little kids all over with bandannas covering their hair loss from chemotherapy — Really sick kids. It was heartbreaking. And while Oliver wasn’t being checked for cancer, it was frightening to be there with my child. (I don’t mean to upset anyone who is actually dealing with cancer in their family!)

It was a waiting game between seeing the blood specialist and getting more test results back. I didn’t think about the scariness of it all that often, but it was always in the back of my mind weighing me down. It was so terrifying to me that something serious was wrong with my precious baby.

I had to learn and learn fast to trust God and give it all to Him. I couldn’t have gotten through the unknowns without Him…I would have fallen apart. I told myself that God would take care of us and everything would be okay. I had to trust. I had to.

Again, all of Oliver’s tests came back perfect. The blood specialist really did not think it was a bleeding problem, so he sent us to a skin specialist. The skin specialist decided that Oliver’s fair skin is sensitive to pressure, but the lines weren’t bruises either. He said that some kids are just like that, it isn’t anything we are doing wrong, and there is no need for treatment. Oliver will grow out of it.

That was a major “praise God” moment. I trusted the Lord and I wasn’t let down, not even a little. There was really nothing serious wrong with my baby after all.

I’m glad I followed my instincts and got it checked out, but I’m even more glad that I gave my worries about it to God.

dd-sig

Continue Reading

He's Here!

 

olivers-hereThis is just a short post to let you know that my son, Oliver, was born!

My due date was May 11th, but he arrived May 17th! It was definitely not the labor and delivery experience I had expected. I was induced, but the little guy was in too much stress to go forward with labor. So, I ended up with a C-Section.

The thing is, as soon as I got to the hospital to be induced, they figured out Oliver was in distress. If I didn’t have that induction date, I wouldn’t have known! The doctor wanted to try to get him out as soon as we could, but the medication for the induction just made it worse…with every contraction, Oliver’s heart rate dropped.

I am so grateful to God that I was given that day for my induction and Oliver was born safely!

We are both doing great. I’m still recovering, but my husband has been a huge help. Oliver is perfect!

So, back to the regularly-scheduled summer baby break…

You can definitely still email me. It just might take a little longer than normal for me to get back to you!

I will be back to scheduling regular guest posts on Devotional Diva in a couple months. See you then!

dd-sig

Continue Reading

Summer/Baby Break

summer and baby break on devotional diva

Devotional Diva is now on summer/baby break!

Initially, I intended to keep working on Devotional Diva (scheduling posts, etc.) right up until I gave birth. I was very gung-ho. I’m not due for two more weeks, but I just need to take some time for myself now. I didn’t know how I would feel being so hugely pregnant since this is my first baby.

I am tired. I am very tired, and very sore. I get a lot of contractions that can be very painful and sometimes even regular. But, they start and stop. It’s been hard to know if sometimes if we should head to the hospital or not! My doctor said the start and stop pattern can happen, and the baby could come at any time now. I’m not sure I will really know when it is the time!

I still plan on announcing when the li’l Devo is born, but I wanted to have this post to explain that there will be no more regular posting for a couple months. I’m hoping to bring guest posting back in the late summer or early fall. Like I said before, I’m new to this mom thing, so that could change. I will definitely keep you updated. By the way, you should follow the Devotional Diva Facebook page for updates!

Don’t hesitate to email me. I’ll still be responding to emails while DD is on break, but it may take me a little longer to get back to you. Please still email me if you’re interested in guest posting when we return…I have begun a list of people!

I want to thank you so much for supporting Devotional Diva! See you later!

dd-sig

 

 

 

photo credit: Sombrilla via photopin (license)

Continue Reading

When Can't Becomes Can

when can't becomes can devotional diva

[Guest post by Myána Chartese: We all know those times when accomplishing something seems like an insurmountable task. Here, through her son, Myána describes when can’t becomes can.]

Being a mother is one of the most precious gifts you can receive from the Lord, and I’ve learned more about the nature of God and the love of God during motherhood, than I have from anything else that I’ve been graced to do throughout my journey in life. 

Most recently I was in the basement ironing clothes and my son came downstairs to join me, and there was a particular toy that he wanted me to take upstairs for him in the middle of my ironing.  At first I told him that I didn’t want that toy upstairs because it was kind of big, but he insisted, so I told him that if he could get it up there on his own he could play with it upstairs.  

For me to take the toy up the steps was nothing, but for a four year old it could prove to be quite difficult.  His reply to my offer was, “I’m not strong enough yet to take it upstairs.”  I reassured him that he was, so onward he trekked. 

When he came to the first set of stairs, I could hear him from the other room struggling with it.  I walked to the hallway in the basement and talked him through it, and then went back into the family room to continue ironing. 

By the time he reached the second set of steps, he started to get frustrated and didn’t want to carry the load any longer and wanted someone else to do it for him. 

As a result he started yelling, “I CAN’T DO IT!!!” 

However, I wouldn’t allow him to give up!  I talked to him from the bottom of the stairs that he had just climbed and told him, “Stop defeating yourself, you are strong enough!  Look how far you’ve come, you’re almost there.” 

I urged him to keep going and talked him through the last set of steps, and as he relied upon my voice and my instruction he made it to the top, and I of course celebrated his accomplishment. 

He had a little smirk on his face that he didn’t want me to see because he was still mad that I didn’t do it for him.  I knew that behind that smirk was a valuable lesson that my son learned and it was that he is more than able to do things that are uncomfortable, difficult, and takes more strength than he believes that he has for that moment.  His I “can’t” became “I CAN,” and it is no different with us.

This experience reminded me of Paul’s thorn in the flesh and how he had implored the Lord three times and God still didn’t remove the thorn.  He allowed Paul to go through it because he was equipped to handle it, and so are YOU!!!  2 Corinthians 12:9-10 in the Amplified Bible says,  

“But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and [b]show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may [c]pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!

1So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [[d]in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful [e]in divine strength).”

There is an important message found in 2 Corinthians 12 that should inspire all of us to receive the grace of God to push through challenges, and not to give up when God doesn’t answer our prayers in the way that we thought that he should, or in the timing that we insist upon. 

We learn in these moments just how resilient and powerful we are, all while God’s strength perfects our weaknesses.  When we finally get to the END of ourselves, and our need to wrestle with whatever our “thorn” is, we allow God’s glory to be seen in us, and that is what fortifies us to rely upon His voice and His instruction, so that when we get to the place that we don’t believe we are strong enough, and ready to give up we are then made able to make it through that test, accomplish that goal, and have the great privilege of saying, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). 

And we know that at the end of it all there is a crown of righteousness for our, I CAN.

Myána Chartese on devotional divaMyána Chartese, a native of Clinton, MD centers her writing on faith.  Besides her blog myanachartese.com, she loves exploring writing poetry, plays, short stories, songs and movies. She published her first book in 2012, The Memoir of a Red Bottom Shoe, and her 2nd book Super Faith (a children’s book) is set to be released shortly.  Myána has a heart for God and desires to empower, encourage, and uplift women through the ministry of writing and public speaking.

photo credit: Sunday Picnic via photopin (license)

Continue Reading