Life Lessons from Children

 

life lessons from children

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Paige Magee. Welcome back, Paige! Now that my son is two, I am learning more and more from him! Paige is spot-on in her post today about life lessons from children.]

“A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.”

– Paulo Coelho

Anyone that knows me knows that I absolutely love children. I always have. I cannot wait for when I become a mother. Well of course I can wait, seeing I’m single and

should probably start my collection of cats, but you get the point. From the day I turned 15 years old and received my work permit, I have always worked with children – swim lesson instructor, early childhood education teacher’s assistant, ice skating instructor, nanny and babysitter. Even to this day, I still occasionally babysit for a family who I absolutely adore and feel privileged to have the opportunity to watch the children grow and develop their individual personalities.

Through the 10 years I have worked with children, I have come to know that children have the best hearts and are wiser than we realize. Children are inspiring when it comes to their confidence, courage and ability to enjoy life far more intensely than adults. So is it possible that their innocence and enthusiasm for life gives them a perspective that we world-weary adults may have lost? I say absolutely yes!

Below are the three most important lessons I’ve learned from these beautiful little souls:

1. Enjoy Yourself & Enjoy Life

“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 8:15)

As adults, one of the most harmful attachments we can make is our attachment to the past and future. From time to time, I find myself dwelling in negative thoughts and emotions, while exciting things are happening around me and passing me by. Children embrace life and all it has to offer with open arms. They have the beautiful ability to find joy all around them. Children enjoy being themselves and live enjoying the present moment because they don’t have much past experience nor a concept of the future.

Their happiness is contagious. They know how to enjoy life…period. No ifs, ands or buts about it. They laugh often, are silly and don’t worry what others might think or say about them. Children remind me to sprinkle my daily routine with enthusiasm, and not take the joys of everyday life for granted. As Robert Brault explains: “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

2. Wear Your Scars Proudly

“ But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

I remember in elementary school, my best friend broke her arm. She came to school sporting a baby blue cast and practically everyone and their mother signed it. She became almost like a superstar in our classroom – the survivor. You see, when children fall down and hurt themselves, everyone wants to see the scar. Children wear it proudly. As adults, we cover our scars, and our wounds become our secrets. We tell no one where it hurts. We do this because we don’t want to be seen as weak or pitied. What we can learn from children is that our scars aren’t signs of weakness. Rather, they are signs of courage, strength and perseverance. They are our stories to be told.

3. Be Honest & Call It Like It Is

“ For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.” (2 Corinthians 8:21)

I think everyone has experienced a time when a child expressed themselves with no regard, no filter. It can sometimes take us by surprise. Children can be brutally honest. They don’t understand the concept of sugar coating or lying for the sake of self-benefit. If they see something, they say something or ask about it. When children are arguing, they tell it like it is and scream it out before becoming best friends again.

We as adults can learn from this. We don’t always have to pretend were fine with the decisions and actions of those around us. I know it is cliché, but honest is key. Sometimes we just need to talk it out and maybe even scream it out. While I am all for being careful when it comes to other people’s feelings, children have taught me that a painful truth is more desirable than a comfortable lie.

So next time you’re frustrated or a child is challenging you, take the time to teach them because they have so much to teach you.

You want to know the truth about the world? Ask a child.

 

I’m a 24 year old from the Chicago suburbs. First things first, I’m on fire for Jesus and am constantly in awe of the grace that has been bestowed in my life. I’m still figuring things out and learning how to navigate this beautiful life God has given me.

Continue Reading

No Fairy Tale Marriages

no fairy tale marriages

princess and the frog

[This is a guest post by Melody Quinn. As a fellow Disney lover, I’m completely on the same page as Melody. Honestly though, even if I didn’t love Disney, I think I’d agree with this marriage advice! Thanks again, Melody, Bravo!]

No Fairy Tale Marriages

My childhood was filled with Disney movies and fairy tales. I read and re-read books full of original and modern fairy tales. I re-watched every Disney movie a hundred times, and still watch them to the annoyance of my husband. I used to attend dances and banquets with my imaginary prince. My childhood room was plastered with Disney posters. My own choice, my mother likes to remind me. I was hooked on tales of princesses and princes at a young age.

People used to tell me that I needed to be careful. If I kept filling my head full of fairy tales, I would be seriously disappointed with real life relationships. There are no Prince Charmings in real life. I must have heard that phrase over and over. I know that. In fact, that was part of my wedding vows: Honey, you’re no Prince Charming, but that’s alright, because I’m no princess.

I don’t regret that my head has been filled with fairy tales. I would change nothing about that. My love of fairy tales didn’t damage my view on my very human, very un-and-the-prince-and-princess-lived-happily-ever-after marriage. Even I was a little surprised that I had no expectations about having a fairy tale marriage. I was slightly disappointed in the dating process. I wasn’t expecting to be swept off my feet, but I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t a connection-at-first-sight moment. I had to struggle to get to known my future husband, but it was, and still is, worth every minute of that struggle.

No, my views on marriage weren’t damaged. If anything, I think that the fairy tale relationships that I read about and watched in the movie theater actually made my view on real life relationships stronger.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that the happily ever after that I dreamt about is not possible here on this earth. It will only come to pass when the Lord takes me to be with him. The relationship that I’ve built with my husband isn’t based on a happily ever after view of life, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t the stuff of fairy tales.

Here are a few things that I learned about marriage from the Disney fairy tales that filled my youth.

  1. Create a new life together. I’m putting this one first because it’s actually a very important concept. Fairy Tale/ Disney women are usually depicted as cleaving to their men. Some people don’t like to image a woman giving up her old life for her love. I’m actually fine with that, because I was able to fill in the blanks. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 NIV).  I left my old life behind; my husband did the same. Together we’ve created a new home. That’s how it’s really supposed to be, isn’t it?
  2. Together forever. Something else that I learned from Disney movies that I think is falling by the wayside in today’s society – the idea that marriage is forever. I don’t mean the happily ever after that’s tagged on the end of every Disney movie. I mean the idea that marriage is sacred. Married couples are going to have differences and fight. The point of marriage is to stand together and confront that together.
  3. Overlook the outside. My favorite fairy tale of all time – original, Disney, and every adaption in between – is Beauty and the Beast. And what is the whole point behind the tale? Not everyone is as they seem on the outside. This has a double meaning. As a married couple, my husband and I have gotten to know each other in ways that other people haven’t. We would never have gotten to this point if we weren’t willing to overlook the flaws that rested on the outside of who we are and dug deeper to find out who we really are. On a daily basis, we are called to turn a blind eye to the little imperfections that we’ve discovered and choose love and understanding instead. We should strive to see each other as the Lord sees us: “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV.)
  4. Work and serve together. When a married couple stands together, they stand as equals. Even when it seems like you’re a princess looking at a frog. As a unique individual, they have different strengths and weaknesses. They both won’t have the same calling, but that shouldn’t stop them from working side by side. Embrace your differences, but keep looking for ways that they compliment your spouse’s. By working together to obtain a common goal, they’re relationship is strengthened.
  5. Sing every day. I would love to dance around and sing to Disney songs with my husband every night, but that just doesn’t happen. What I’ve gathered from watching fairy tale couples sing with each other is that couples don’t only need to work together. They need to play together as well. My husband and I both enjoy reading, playing board games, and swing dancing. We take every opportunity that we can to have fun together. After all, the couple that plays together stays together.
  6. Don’t end the story in a fight. In other words, don’t go to bed or leave for a trip with unresolved anger and hurt hanging over your head. I know from firsthand experience that this can be a hard lesson for newlyweds to learn. However, dealing with fights upfront will make you stronger. Fights with your spouse can push you further apart or pull you together. Be careful with your words. You can’t take them back, and you can never be guaranteed a chance to apologize another day.
  7. Not everything is about you. I love fairy tales that really show a dynamic between two characters. Without each other, they can’t make it  through the day. Focusing on yourself can ruin everything. You need to learn to put someone else first. I feel that it’s almost important to mention that not everything is about your relationship. Just like a good story has to involve different aspects of a character’s life, not just their relationship, you need to have a life outside of your spouse. If you are able to stand strong on your own, then you will be able to stand stronger together.
  8. It’s not all sunshine and daises. There is always that one moment in a Disney movie when everything seems like it’s loss. Regrettably, that feeling occurs often in life. That doesn’t mean that you should throw in the towel or go on by yourself. The only thing that is going to make your married life stronger than your life before you got married is that you are no longer alone. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves” (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV).

So fairy tales and happily ever afters doesn’t exist in the real world. That doesn’t meant that you should discount fairy tale relationships entirely. My head may be full of Disney songs, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be happy here with my dear hubbie. And that goes double for you!

Melody Quinn is an associate editor for TouchPoint Press. She graduated from Stephen F. Austin in 2014 with a BA in English and Technical Writing. When she isn’t working, she enjoys reading YA and fantasy books, writing stories, cooking and baking for her husband, and playing with her guinea pig. She currently attends North Fort Worth Baptist Church.

Continue Reading

Foster Kids and Garbage Bags

Foster Kids and Garbage Bags

Foster Kids and Garbage Bags

A good friend of mine, Emily, is currently in the process of fostering and adopting two children. Through this process, she learned more about the foster care system and how scary it really is for the kids.

Emily and her family felt led to start a project to fight a huge problem they saw:

When foster kids are taken from foster house to foster house, most of the time, they just have to put their few belongings in garbage bags.

So the project aims to put together duffel bags with items foster kids might need, like hygiene products, towels, clothes, books, stuffed animals, etc.

Here is the link to the Davis Family Project.

When I saw Emily posting about the project on her personal Facebook, I reached out to ask if I could also post about it on Devotional Diva because I had no idea this was happening to foster kids. I think if I have this little platform on DD to raise some awareness, I should use it.

Continue Reading

Getting Through Rough Waters — Staci Frenes Q&A

staci frenes

staci frenes

Unpathed waters, Undreamed shores[Editor’s Note: Hey divas! Spring Break is over! Today I’m sharing a Q&A I did with Staci Frenes, a musician and author! She just released her ninth album, Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores and is the author of the book Flourish. Thank you for sharing with us, Staci!]

MW: Wow! Congrats on nine albums! How does this one compare to the first?

SF: Thank you for inviting me to come and share on your fabulous blog! Well, my first album was right out of college. It was a hodge-podge of songs, style-wise, and all over the map. Pop, country, folk. You name it. Listening back now, there are a couple of gems I still like, but not THAT many. This new album feels more mature, coherent and intentionally written. Each song tells part of the story, and together they form the soundtrack to my heart during this season of my life.

MW: What are some of your favorite songs on Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores or ones you’d like to talk about?

SF: One song people seem to be responding to a lot is ‘Storms.’ I wrote it for my kids, and it talks about how everyone wishes you sunshine and happiness because they think that’s what’s best for you. And of course, any mom wants her kids to be happy and healthy. But we also want them to know how to love well, how to empathize, how to be patient and long-suffering. Those things get developed during difficult times, so the song says, ‘I wish you storms, beautiful storms. The kind that break you and make you more tender than before. I wish you storms.’ As hard as those words were to sing and write, I DO wish those things for my kids and for anyone I love. Storms are where our faith gets tested—like precious metals in the furnace—and hopefully comes out strong and beautiful.
MW: How did you get into music?

SF: When I was little I wrote poems and stories, but something musical awakened in me when I was around 12 and became a Christian. The words I was writing started forming into melodies. I asked my parents for guitar lessons and started to write songs before I knew anything about music. Songwriting in those awkward teenage years was my lifeline. It’s how I processed the confusing stuff. It’s how I expressed my gratitude to God and learned how to praise Him. And since I’m pretty much a textbook introvert, I found songwriting to be a safe way to share my thoughts and feelings with others.

MW: Did you feel led into this career?

SF: I did for sure! I taught high school English after college for a few years before quitting my ‘day job’ and going into music full-time. It was a leap of faith, but it also felt incredibly freeing. I believe when we’re developing and using our gifts there’s a deep joy in our lives, not because of any paycheck or affirmation from others, but because it’s what we’re wired for and find fulfilling. That’s how I found my ‘calling’ really, by listening to my own joy.

MW: Do you have a process for your writing, whether for a song or book?

SF: I’m definitely a morning person, so most of my productivity happens in the morning when my mind is fresh and sort of a blank slate. With a song, it’s harder to just sit down and write because something has to stir your heart first before you can follow it. Even if it’s just a single word or emotion. But once I have the core idea, I’m like a dog with a bone. I don’t give up until I get all the meat off that idea. I try different melodies, lyric combinations, chords, until it sounds right in my head and heart.

MW: Could you share about your Christian journey?

SF: I encountered Jesus at a winter Christian camp in the 7th grade. Our family had just moved from North Dakota to California and I was in culture shock. I was lonely and shy, so the fact that I agreed to go to a winter camp was a miracle in itself. The speaker gave an invitation and I walked up and prayed that Jesus would be the Lord of my life from that moment on. I’d never known how personal and intimate God could be until that night. I was forever changed. Since then, I’ve been on a journey to know Him more.

MW: What has happened in your life to test your faith the most?

SF: I’ve been through some rough waters in the past few years. I lost my dad to cancer and then my brother to a sudden heart attack soon after that. Not long before that, we had lost our home in the housing market crash, and our teenage daughter came out to us quite unexpectedly. Talk about storms. It was like wave after wave kept coming. Some days it felt suffocating and hard to breathe. I thought of the Psalms, how David cried out to God in despair and then praised Him in the next breath. That’s the thing about faith. You experience painful loss and then you have to choose every day to believe that God is still good. That He still loves you and hasn’t abandoned you.

MW: What do you feel is next for you?

SF: This year I’ll be playing music from my new album wherever I’m invited; churches, house shows, concerts, podcasts. I’m also doing a few Flourish events (based on my book), where I share insights and stories about my creative process and encourage people to develop and nurture their own creativity. I’m grateful for the chance to share about hope and change in this new season of music.

Continue Reading

Marriage Honesty

Marriage Honesty

[Editor’s Note: I had the awesome opportunity to do a Q&A with Molly Reed of the husband/wife music duo Grayson|Reed. They are honest in their songs and have a strong marriage message that I love. Here is some backstory on Grayson|Reed before we dive into the interview…cover-artwork-gr

Mike and Molly met their first week of college as entering freshman at Nashville’s Belmont University. Over the next 10 years, the aspiring artists floated in and out of one another’s social circles, gradually building a unique friendship that eventually became a strong relational foundation when they started dating in 2012. The following year, they said “I do,” and two years later, they welcomed their daughter, Grailey. 

Whether writing about the Christian journey, marriage or redemption, Grayson|Reed simply desires to craft music from an intensely honest place—even if their vulnerability shines a light on the messy parts of life.]

MW: Do you feel like you have a mission with your songwriting?

MR: Absolutely! I believe that The Lord gave me such a special gift and has called me to use it. I’m so thankful for songwriting. Music is the universal language and to be able to communicate to people through song is so cool. I love the idea of being able to encourage people and share Jesus through music.

MW: Could you tell us about your Christian walk?

MR: My personal journey with Jesus really became real during my senior year of high school. I was on a mission trip and just got to see the world in a whole new way. It really opened my eyes and Jesus showed up in a way I hadn’t seen Him do before. It’s a daily choice to put Him first. What’s been super fun lately is praying with my daughter and teaching her about Jesus. I love seeing Him through her eyes.

MW: How important was it for you to be able to eventually work together?

MR: It was always a dream for my husband Mike and I to be able to do music together, and the fact that we are living that dream is amazing. Once we had our daughter Grailey, we knew we didn’t want to be touring apart and always leaving each other. We would rather be playing in front of 10 people together then 1,000 apart.

MW: What is your songwriting process like?

MR: It’s the same yet different for each song. I usually start with some kind of melody or groove and feel out the music, from there the idea or title is born. BUT, some days I come with a concept or title and write the music around it. Songwriting is much like playing a sport, it’s almost like a muscle that you have to use regularly to get better and better. It’s important for me to hone my craft as often as I can, so I try to write around 3-4 days a week when we are not on the road.

MW: What do you feel are the biggest reasons people give up on their marriages?

MR: Lack of communication or as we call it “writing stories.” From day one, Mike and I made a promise to try and NOT write stories or fill in the blanks with what the other was saying. So often, people live out and believe what they “think” someone meant by what they said rather than asking for clarification. I will say “Mike I’m writing a story that when you said XYZ you meant “this,” is that true?” It gives the other person a chance to speak to the lies we created in our head and call out the heart and truth.

MW: How has your faith grown during your marriage?

MR: Much like becoming a parent, I have had to learn how to surrender and trust in a whole new way. It’s easy for me to want to try to control the other person, or to live in fear of something tragic happening. But I’m choosing to give it all to God and TRUST Him with my family.

MW: What do you think is next for Grayson|Reed?

MR: Honestly, I love cooking and baking so one day I hope to be able to write a cookbook! Maybe I’ll call it “What’s Molly Making?” haha!  

Continue Reading

Do Not Worry

do-not-worry

Do Not Worry

[Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Rachel Myers. I so appreciated how candid she was in telling her story. I loved the style of this post and could relate to it so much — sometimes that worry just takes over! Thank you so much for helping spur other women forward, Rachel!]

Matthew 6:25-34 New International Version (NIV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

A Touch About Me….

My name is Rachel Myers and I am a 37-year-old mom of 2 kiddos (8 and 6).  I married my guy from Drexel U., received a BA in Finance (comical if you knew how much I don’t know nor care about all things finance), worked at GlaxoSmithKline Pharma in Supply Chain Logistics, and received my MBA in Marketing and Organizational Management.

Once it was time for the kiddos, I was very lucky to stay home, but struggled just like every other mom out there (tried to look like it was easy, but it wasn’t).  As my ‘nuggets’ approached school age, I started to think about what career I could have to offer work life balance.  I jumped at the opportunity to be a Preschool Teacher’s Aide at my church and fell in love with teaching the kiddos in a Christian setting.  Back to school I went to get my Masters in Education (PreK-4).  I am currently a Preschool Teacher at Upper Dublin Lutheran Church and super close to having that Masters in Ed!

The #1 Word in My Life…

Worry!!! If I had to pick an underlying theme to my lovely life on paper, it would be WORRY!  I can remember vividly as my 1st grade teacher was checking my paper and my little hands were fidgeting with anxiety, she looked at me and said, “Rachel, you are such a worry wort!”  At such a young age, she had me pegged. Worry has been with me my entire life!

I worry that I am not good enough, smart enough, hardworking enough, pretty enough (shouldn’t I be over that by 37?), and accomplished enough.  I worry that I am not the best mom, wife, daughter nor friend.  I worry about my mom with Alzheimer’s.  I worry about my Dad having to live and care for my mom with Alzheimer’s.  I worry about my son and daughter.   I worry that I am not a good enough teacher. I worry about my husband’s career.  I worry that I do not eat well enough or exercise enough or generally worry about the health of myself and everyone around me.  I worry that I don’t want people to see that I worry.  I worry that it is such a sin for me to worry as I have been blessed with so much.

Most of all, I worry about the fact that I worry too much!  To be honest, it is absolutely exhausting!

I have had a few extremely challenging years with the diagnosis of my Mom’s Alzheimer’s.  The physical and mental toll that it has taken on me has caught me off guard.  In addition, my son was recently diagnosed with ADHD, which digs an even deeper hole in my heart.  I look left and right to see so many horrific illnesses and tragedies and get that my issues are merely grains of sand compared to others, but worry still follows me.

Turning to God…

The Lutheran Church has always been a major part in my life.  Although I think I never learned how to turn to God in times of need.  I viewed church more as a place of celebration and fun as that is what it was for me during childhood.  I still get so much love and joy attending church every week and truly feel closest to God when I am teaching the kiddos during Sunday School.

Yet, I feel during this difficult time in my life I truly, truly want to learn how to ‘let go’ of the worry.  I am working to take comfort in Matthew 6:25,

“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life.”

I write this in hopes that I can start my journey on really putting my trust in God.  I know that he did not put me on earth to worry, and I know that he put me here to share his Love and Grace through the voice of children.  By focusing on this, I hope to push that ‘W’ word away and take more time to cherish each moment and not worry about what lies ahead.

rachel_headshotMy name is Rachel Myers and I am a mom of 2 kiddos (6 & 8).  I married my college sweetheart.  After working in Corporate America, I stayed home to raise my nuggets.  As my youngest entered Kinder, I found my true calling in sharing God’s Love through the voice of children.  I am currently a PreSchool Teacher at my church, Sunday School Teacher, Christian Ed.Member and almost finished with my Masters in Education. As I continue on my journey in life, I feel called to spread the love and joy of Jesus and connect with others on the same mission. Follow Rachel at her blog, www.letslearnandgrow.com

Continue Reading

Becoming a Mom is Completely Terrifying (and so is really being one!)

becoming-a-mom

[Note: This is an updated version of my blog post that was originally published on Devotional Diva before I had my son in May 2015.

I was recently telling a friend about this post. I was having major brain fog and was like, “Oh man, what was it called? Becoming a mom is completely…? Anxiety…?” It made me want to look back at the post and I decided to update it a little.]

Becoming a mom is completely terrifying.

Almost every night for the past few weeks, I’ve started falling asleep…and then I realize, I’M GOING TO BE A MOM.

I go into a panic, thinking about how hard it will be to take care of my new baby and trying to think of all the things I still need to do. I try to rationalize my knowledge of infant care and how I can get everything done.

In my mind, if I can make sense of something and have a reasonable plan, I start to feel better.

I’m excited for my little boy to arrive, really, I am. I want to be a mom, but at the same time, it’s just so scary.

There is no way one can really prepare themselves for becoming a parent, right? I am reading all the books on having a newborn, I’m planning on taking some classes, and I already have a lot of experience with babies. But I imagine you don’t know what you’re really in for until you’re there.

I hate that! I feel so much better when I’m prepared for things.

And it’s not just that I will have this little being completely relying on me in about two months. I still feel like I have so much that I want/need to accomplish before he gets here. Because, obviously, things we be different once he arrives!

So I want to try to get a lot of stuff out of the way, like home organization. I know that my son will not need our pantry to be reorganized when he comes home from the hospital. (Well, hopefully he is not a demanding little neat freak right out of the womb!) If it’s not reorganized by the time he gets here, oh well, I just will have to wait until things settle down and I have more time to do it. But I have still set that goal and feel I need to complete it.

The pregnancy books say that anxiety is normal, but I kind of feel bad about it. I guess I just didn’t think I would feel this way right now. It’s not like I thought I would be so ill during my pregnancy, either. Sometimes I have such silly expectations for myself.

It’s always amazing to me how, at stressful times, God will show me He’s got my back. A couple weeks ago fellow Christian blogger Kelly Crawford reached out to me to send me her eBook on motherhood entitled (get this): When Motherhood Feels Too Hard.

I think I laughed out loud when I read the email. There was no way Kelly knew I was just starting to struggle with motherhood. She only knew I was going to become a mom. Oh, but God knew, alright! God is so good.

It’s things like a devotional targeted just to what I need, that feeling of God’s love, and knowledge that He totally knows what’s going on with me that encourages me to carry on. To put down the baby care book at 1 AM and try to get some sleep; To stop looking at Pinterest to figure out how I’m going to reorganize my entire house.

And to just trust that, really, truly, everything is gonna be okay!

I got such nice comments on that post, too:

  1. Jane says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on being a mom 🙂 I think you’re going to do just fine! 🙂

  2. Renee Fisher says:

    Maggie, I love this! I know you’re going to be a great mom!

  3. Sarah Coleman says:

    Maggie, everything will be okay. And when it’s not, it will be soon enough. Blessings.

  4. Having a child is beautiful but can be stressful. However things always work out especially when your secret weapon is the love of Jesus Christ. He will never let you down. When I had my daughter, that is when I really understood the love of God and his sacrifice and I know your baby is going to do the same for you.

     

The truth is, now that I have a toddler, being a mom can be pretty terrifying too!

Some days are hard! Motherhood is hard! We all need a little encouragement sometimes.

Re-reading this post and those few comments was a great reminder to me to rely on Jesus and remember that things will be okay.

P.S. Little O did come out as a neat freak! He LOVES cleaning!

dd-sig

Continue Reading

An Interview with Singer TaRanda Greene!

 

TaRanda Greene

Editor’s Note: I had the privilege of conducting an interview with Christian singer TaRanda Greene. She has an amazing testimony! TaRanda is a solo artist and part of the group Cana’s Voice. Group Members are Jody McBrayer, TaRanda Greene and Doug Anderson. I hope you are inspired by TaRanda’s story as much as I was. Here is a little background before we dive into the interview:

She pursued her music career dreams, and God led her to her husband. They toured together and were blessed with two beautiful daughters. When her husband had a failing kidney, she donated hers. Tragically, he still passed away. 

 

Looking through your bio on your website, I noticed that you gave up college to purse your dream of a music career. Did you feel God leading you through that decision?

I did. I had an offer for a scholarship but I couldn’t get it together to take it. I kept praying and calling anyone I knew to help me with my dream, and it really is just a God moment that led me to The Greenes. As I look back, I see His hand guiding the whole thing.

Did you and Tony always want to tour together?

No. We were married, so some days, we didn’t even want to live in the same house, haha. But seriously, as time went on, Tony fulfilled a lifelong dream of owning his own funeral home and I became a stay at home mom, while doing background vocals in the studio when I could and touring. We stayed busy on and off the road, but our first dream was the calling we felt God had placed on us. We were honored to be able to tour and watch Him work.

What was it like being on the road with two young daughters?

Oh man, we had to delay more than one concert when they were babies so I could do a quick clothes change. It’s all the real world you can handle in front of people you haven’t met. A circus and a prayer most nights, but eventually we fell into a routine and the girls just knew what to do. They loved their lives. They knew no other way, and we couldn’t remember life before they arrived. It was wonderful.Photography by: Jake Harsh

Could you share what happened with Tony’s illness?

Shortly after Tony and I were married in 2001, we were changing insurance plans and went in for physicals. That’s when they noticed some issues with Tony’s levels and did further testing. He was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome, which is a kidney disorder that causes your body to excrete too much protein in your urine. There was no real explanation. He had two kidneys, but only one that functioned…and the one functioning kidney was failing. So, the typical hospital visits and tests followed every few months until 2008 when Tony began peritoneal dialysis. He did his treatments on tour as well as at home. In August of 2009, he developed an infection in his peritoneal cavity and had to get the treatment tubing removed and began hemodialysis. Again, scheduling clinics in the cities where our tour dates were to do his treatments and at our local clinic in North Carolina were an added element to our schedule. That’s when I was tested to donate a kidney to him. We were a perfect match and I had the transplant surgery in late August 2009.  In August of 2010, almost a year to the day of the transplant, we were in Texas and he basically collapsed off the side of the stage. We went by ambulance to the local hospital where they told Tony he had something infecting his lungs. We stayed in that Texas hospital for a week, and then went right back on the road. It was one month later that Tony checked himself into the North Carolina hospital where his regular doctors were, and six days later he passed away. At the time he checked himself into the hospital, the kidney was working great but his lungs were not. Even a year after his death, hospital investigators were no closer to finding an answer as to what the infection was in his lungs. It was only because of his mandatory suppressed immune system (so his body wouldn’t reject the donated kidney) he was unable to fight the lung infection.

How soon after you donated your kidney did you know it wasn’t going to work? I can’t imagine how devastating that would be.

We had no doubt the kidney would work. Our faith in the outcome of that particular surgery was unwavering. God had provided a way and He would make it work. As I explained in the last question, even until he entered the hospital the last time, the kidney wasn’t the issue. There were moments in that last year of his life that medicines had to be adjusted and so on, but it was explained to us by his doctors that it was completely normal and wouldn’t be a perfect balance of levels for about a year because of his body adjusting to a ‘foreign object’ inside. I knew it wasn’t my fault for the illness, but I did struggle immensely with anger. I couldn’t figure out why we would go through such a life risking process (for us both) for him to die a year later. I don’t have the answer to that yet, but God has dealt with me over my anger issues.

Did you feel a lot of uncertainty about continuing with music?

I felt uncertainty about everything in life. My ability to parent, my ability to sing alone, my ability to make a living for my family, my ability to trust God again with my heart. There was nothing certain in my life after Tony died except I knew there was a God and He must be angry with me. I took all of this very personally. So, I questioned whether I would ever sing again.

How did you start feeling better after Tony passed, without drugs? How did God play a role?

To be honest, it took some time. I was so angry with Tony’s passing that I stopped living in the present. I stopped trying. I couldn’t find a peaceful place in my life, including my precious children. It’s like I stepped out of life for a while. Nothing was the same. I was diagnosed psychotic OCD, severely depressed with four medications a day just for me to get out of bed and participate at all. But God, as loving as He is, didn’t let me go. He kept pursuing me. He was and is faithful to me even when I wasn’t to Him. He’s just that loving. A relentlessly praying mother and loving family pushed me back to God, pushed me to convening our fellowship. And pushed me back to life. God reminded me of a lyric in a hymn my momma taught me when I was a kid. One day as I was praying, and very tired of life, I told the Lord I knew I wasn’t being who He created me to be and living the life He created me to live. I told Him I needed help.

And He reminded me, ‘Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father; there is no shadow of turning with thee; thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not;’

and as I sang that lyric in my head God began to change me from the inside out. I made a vow to Him that day to do my best to become who He created me to be and to keep breathing and keep moving through the disaster I had created of my life. He redeemed me and restored me. Today, I’m depression medication free and have never been more grateful to be alive and living in the present. Isn’t it just like God to speak to a singer through a song? The journey’s been very long and very difficult, but He is so faithful. I feel a little nudge now and then from some other world letting me know I’m not alone. He’s got me and He’s not letting me go.

How did you get involved with StowTown Records?

I’ve known Ernie Haase for many years and he talked to me when Tony was in the hospital, not knowing what was happening at the time. None of us did. But I was able to talk to Tony about the conversation Ernie and I had then, so that’s very special to me.  A couple of years after Tony died, I began the recording process and the first person I thought to talk to about signing the record was Ernie. Just another God thing we didn’t know was happening, but when we look back, we see His hand. I’m honored to be a part of such a loving label. These people believed in me long before they knew they’d need to. And now, we’re family.

What other prayers has God answered for you?

Where do I start? Every single day is an answered prayer. I certainly have done nothing to deserve to live the amazing life I’m living, but God. I now have four beautiful, healthy children, a loving, devoted husband and an extended family who continues to support and love me. Oh! And I found a great sale on a fantastic jacket last week in Europe. I’m convinced God even does those things. Haha.

What have all of your trials taught you about God’s love for you?

I have learned the meaning of unconditional love. I have learned that I’m worth it to Him. I have learned that even when we can’t imagine He’d love us, He does. And I’ve learned God’s not finished with me yet.

Do you have any other messages you’d like to share?

Keep moving. Keep breathing. There is a purpose for you in life. Go find it.

Cana’s Voice link: www.stowtownrecords.com

TaRanda Greene link: www.tarandamusic.com

Continue Reading

Why I Chose to Marry Young – Revisited

 

This post was originally published on Devotional Diva on June 8th, 2014. I decided that since my husband Brandon and I will be celebrating 5 years of marriage this month, I wanted to rework this post since I (personally) feel it’s one of my most important. Also, there will be no new Devotional Diva posts next week because we will be off celebrating our anniversary!

(side note: Devotional Diva founder Renee Fisher also recently celebrated 5 years! Congrats!)

 

I chose to marry young — at 19, to be exact.

 

Brandon and I have a fairy tale love story – with some major kinks thrown in.

We had a lot of opposition going up against us the whole time we were dating.

For one, I was in a horrible place mentally and physically in the beginning. I talked about this in that post I mentioned, but it really was a struggle. My mom knew that Brandon was the one for me because of how he stuck by me through it all.

I mean, I was severely depressed and Brandon stuck by me. He supported me. He showed me love. I know that I was not able to show him the same kind of love at that time, just because I was going through so much.

But we got through all that stuff. I got better. Things were going great, and we were happy.

Then Brandon decided to join the Navy.

At first, we didn’t even consider getting married before his boot camp. But as we went through his recruitment process, marriage actually seemed like a pretty good idea.

I knew I loved Brandon and wanted to be with him forever. He said he always knew that I was “the one.”

It soon became clear that we did want to get married before Brandon would leave for basic training.

But I was so nervous about what my parents would say.

I felt like they would disapprove, because I was only 19 after all. Now-a-days, that is young.

It wasn’t like getting married so young was in their (or my) plans for my future.

I worked up the courage to talk to my mom about it first, and she eased my dad into the idea. They were accepting, more than I thought they would be. They supported us.

Brandon formally asked my dad for my hand in marriage in June, and a few days later he proposed to me. In November, we said our vows at my childhood church.

My mom said she felt the presence of Jesus so strongly during the ceremony.

We’ve been married 5 years now. We now have an 18-month old son. Our marriage has endured several moves, cross-country and international. It has endured health scares. It has endured distance. It has endured seemingly unending uncertainty (#Navylife). No, we weren’t always perfectly happy. But we always loved each other and were willing to work together.

I see how God had these plans for me, and there’s no doubt in my mind that I was always supposed to be with Brandon.

I followed my heart and ended up with a great man. But getting married at a young age is not for everyone. Honestly, everyone’s situation will be different. When you find your mate is up to God.

I still get surprised reactions when people find out I got married at 19. That’s okay, but I wish there wasn’t so much judgment.

It’s not just people who marry young – I know those who wait until their later 20’s or 30’s are judged too for being “old.”

Bottom line is that everyone has a different path; Let’s get over expectations.

dd-sig

Continue Reading

God Is Still In The Marriage Business

god-marriage-business

God Is Still In The Marriage Business

 

[editor’s note: This post was originally published on Feb 09, 2016. Due to a recent glitch, I’m just republishing it!]

My husband and I decided to get married because we wanted our lives to line up within God’s order
. It was not because of love, convenience, or social pressures. We made up in our minds that we will be examples to our families of what God can do when you put Him first.

I wanted to share this for two reasons. First, we don’t hear enough. I even have people today that frown up at me when I say it. Secondly, I want to assure you it is possible for God to guide those who want Him to speak to them about their relationships. In return, you have to be willing to open your heart to what He is going to direct you to do.

It was very difficult for me to submit to what God was instructing me to do. It was not that I didn’t love my partner or didn’t want to marry him one day. I wanted to do it on my own time. I realized that at that point there had begun a process of exposure.

Sometimes there are places where, if we admitted it, we don’t want the truth of God’s Word to rule in our lives. My relationship was one of those areas. It was more comfortable to live the way I wanted and not how God required.

I would have continued to live in sin waiting on a grand proposal. I had my heart set on receiving a huge diamond ring. My partner would have recited a long speech about how much he loved me, and there was nothing else he would rather do than to make me the center of his life. Everyone would be totally supportive. Of course, things panned out a bit differently.

We fought constantly about where our relationship would go after I revealed what God said to do. To top it off, people who were very close to us were not on board with it either. Yet, God still impressed on my heart that we were doing the right thing. He wanted better for us than the life we had chosen. The things I was waiting on could never compete with the love God wanted to pour into my life in this season.

The love I have for my husband now is more genuine than ever before.

1 John 4: 7 says “let us love one another, for love is from God”

I can honestly say my love for God and His Word strengthened my love for my husband and myself. I now walk in freedom being confident in the fact that I am even more closer to God without that disobedience in between us. I can witness to people without any fear or internal conflict. God has even begin speaking to me more about things He wants me to do.

Ultimately, God wants us free. Bondage of any kind keeps us from what He wants us to experience. Choose God’s Word over your own advice every time. Here is the place where true love begins to flow out of us and into the world.

 

ozellaI’m Ozella Jones, a 26 year old Certified Medical Assistant from Birmingham, Alabama. I’ve been encouraged by other women in Christ to be all that God has predestined me to be. With Christ in my life, I can laugh, love, and enjoy my portion, knowing that things are provided for those who trust in Him! Be blessed and be a blessing to others!

Continue Reading