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!  

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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

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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!

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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

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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.

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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!

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Our Next Adventure

maggie winterton on devotional diva

I have known about this next adventure in my life for almost a year now. But I didn’t share it because it just never felt real or like it was actually going to happen.

It seemed just too good to be true.

We are a military family, so we expect a lot of moving. My husband’s orders in San Diego, California are coming to an end. Since San Diego is a big military town with a lot of opportunities, we were hoping to get orders to stay longer.

In January, we began looking at orders. There weren’t a lot of options for San Diego. Brandon was able to put down orders he was interested in on a sort of “wish list.” Some of the places he was interested in were in the U.S. and some were international. One was even in a (relatively safe) part of the middle east. And honestly, we expected to go to the Middle East because nobody else wants to go there.

Brandon came home from work one day, interrupting my 3rd-trimester of pregnancy afternoon nap, and said that he had new orders. I was so nervous I didn’t even want to hear what they were. I was afraid that he would get somewhere he didn’t really like, doing something he didn’t really want to do.

“It’s okay,” he said. “we got Italy!”

I was in disbelief.

When we put Italy on the “wish list,” we never thought it was even possible for us to get it. We only put Italy down because we had room and we thought it would be the coolest thing ever to go there. Many people have told me that Italy is their dream location for orders. (I mean, it is Italy.)

Not a lot of people get to go since there aren’t that many opportunities…but somehow it happened for us.

We settled for the Middle East in our minds, but God had something bigger and better planned for us. I saw this illustration on Pinterest and immediately thought of our situation.

Sometimes when you pray for something, you don’t even realize that what God has in store for you is so much more amazing. Don’t doubt the heights that God can take you.

We were briefly concerned that our son’s health issues could prevent us from moving, but thankfully all is well with him.

We are so excited for our next adventure. This is a once in a lifetime kind of thing, and we’re planning to make the most of it.

Because this time is so hectic, I’ve decided to do a quick Christmas series and republish posts from Devotional Diva’s archives. I’m handpicking devotionals to fit this year’s theme, “Extraordinary Christmas.” Just like God has done something truly extraordinary for my family, I’m re-sharing other’s stories of God’s miracles. There are so many good devotionals back in the archives that I know many people haven’t read, and I hope that republishing them can inspire you this Christmas season!

After the series is completed, Devotional Diva will take a break for the end of December and into January while we get settled in Italy!

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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).

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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.

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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!

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