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Bagworms

Growing up in a fruit and nut orchard I spent my time barefoot in the trees, playing in the irrigation water and eating fresh fruit right off the branch. One year a large, old black-walnut tree near our house got infected with bagworms. The worms wove silky-spider-webby-like bags all over the tree and my dad had to take action. If he didn’t then the worms would spread and soon he wouldn’t just have one infected tree he would have a whole orchard and then the next door neighbors would have a problem too. To kill the worms my dad carefully maneuvered the ladder and a wand of fire to burn away each worm bag. It was a bit dangerous and precarious but he had to do it to save the tree and contend for the health of his entire orchard and the orchards around us. Much of cultivation requires nurturing through watering and pruning but when an enemy shows up you have to fight for life and health. Cultivation requires, at times, contention.

In Psalm 139:16 God tells us that before there was even one of them that God ordained each and every one of our days in a book, set apart, holy unto God. From the very beginning, even our first day in utero is holy unto God and God has a plan and a desire for every one of our days no matter how small, how big or how old we are. What does the scriptures tell us about these plans? That they are for our welfare and for our good (Jeremiah 29:11), that every good gift comes from God (James 1:17). God is good period. He does not plan for bad things to happen to us or those we love at any stage of development. However, we need to be aware that God isn’t the only one who has plans for “our orchard”. Just like the bagworms tried to set-in and launched an attack against my dad’s orchard, Satan will launch attacks directly at our ability to fulfill our God-given destiny (both our big life destinies and our destinies of season or a position as a child or as a wife for example). The enemy’s whole focus and agenda is to steal, kill and destroy everything God has a destiny for: marriage covenants, children, even babies and more. The enemy doesn’t have a “they are too cute” or “they are too innocent” off-limit line, he will go anywhere a legal foothold is provided to him and do whatever he can to thwart the plans of God in our lives and He won’t wait until we are old enough to know it. That is where the role of a parent moves from the nurturing aspect of cultivation to the contention aspect. We create footholds in our children’s lives either for the Holy Spirit to flourish or for the evil one to set up a stronghold. To cultivate God-given destinies we must contend in prayer, word and deed for ourselves and for our children. When God gives us a glimpse of his destiny for our children or for our own lives whether it be through a prophetic word, a life-verse that jumps out at you in scripture, a God-given passion, however He communicates it we need to hang on to it. We need to write it down. We need to carry it around. We need to remind ourselves about it when things seem to be going awry. We need to speak it over our children, be intentional about cultivating it, and bring it up in prayer over and over again. If God has spoken it we can push for it in prayer, it is His promise for our child. We can push and push in prayer until every stronghold that is in the way is destroyed…and there will be obstacles. We need to pray and ask God to show us where the enemy has legal rights/footholds. Whether we are facing a generational fortress of darkness or a toe foothold we, as followers of Christ, have this promise: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5” God has given us every weapon we need to destroy every “bagworm” in our walnut tree. Even if those bagworms have already spread and have already infested our orchard or the orchards of family members or even generations of family members….OUR GOD IS BIGGER!

I always knew since I was a little girl that I was going to be a mom someday. I now realize that becoming a mom wasn’t just a desire of mine or simply a choice or a preference for me to make, no it was part of my God-given destiny, to cultivate children in the fear of the Lord. This became particularly important for me to realize when after the traumatic newborn phase due to tongue tie I never wanted to have children again. I knew though that what I had just gone through was not from God, it was not good. I also knew that God had given me the desire to have kids so I started praying immediately upon having this realization and asking God to heal me from the trauma and to help me want to have kids again. I was contending for my God-given destiny to motherhood! God did heal me within a few short weeks which is miraculous given the fact that we were still struggling, just not as bad. God wants me to be a mom and the enemy will try to take that desire away.

I didn’t realize that for years I was contending for my God-given motherhood destiny. When my husband and I got married in 2006 I would always talk about “when we have kids” so much so that it led one lady to comment as to why we just didn’t have kids yet. In 2010 we started trying to have kids. We kept on trying in 2011, in 2012, in 2013, in 2014, in 2015 and in 2016…something was clearly wrong. Along the way it was tempting to just let my heart become hardened against the desire to have biological children in order to protect myself from the cruel and unusual emotional roller coaster of hope and heart break that is infertility. I am so thankful that during my journey more than one woman told me to remember that God had given me that desire to become a mother. This gave me strength to keep on trying and most importantly to keep on praying. Finally in 2016 God called me to do a fast starting out with 24 dry, 24-48 hour water only then 21 day juice. Around this time a friend of mine on the prayer team named Laverne had an anointing from God to pray over someone who had a request of prayer for the desire of their heart. I remember that prayer meeting, I was all of a sudden in a surprise and sudden battle for my destiny. On one shoulder thoughts like “oh you have prayed for this so many times at the altar with so many godly women, cried so many tears, you have reached a place of peace and contentment (see my blog post 5 years), is it really worth making a big deal about again today?” On the other hand I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to raise my hand for prayer. I raised my hand. I was contending for my destiny and I listened to God, hallelujah! After the prayer meeting disbanded two of the women took me aside for further prayer. One laid her hands on my womb and was led by the Holy Spirit to sing a song in tongues over my body and I now realize over my destiny. Susie at the same time was given a vision from God of me and my husband playing with a baby boy. Just a short time later and after years of trying my husband and I conceived…our joy and delight, our baby boy Caleb! Incredible! A prophetic vision and a miraculous conception! I also now realize that the fast God called me to was part of the contention for my destiny. Through my experience with Caleb I have found out that the root cause of my infertility is due to a leaky gut and all of the overgrowth of gross things like Candida (a fungus) that go with that. God knew this. I do not believe it was coincidental at all that He called me to do a detox fast right before getting pregnant! Not only did this fast help me conceive but it helped me keep my pregnancy as high toxic load (again linked to leaky gut) has been linked to miscarriage. My heart was so fragile after all of the infertility heart break already and God protected me from the shattering affect a miscarriage would have had on my heart. The fast God called me to do was not easy either. Contention is not easy. It was not easy for my dad to carefully balance himself on a ladder and burn out each bag of worms from the tree in the hot New Mexican summer but he did it. I faced cravings for food to feed the candida etc. that were so vivid and so hard to resist that I thought I would go crazy. It took a lot of determination to obey God and to cry out to him for help to get through that fast. Contention for my destiny through prayer and not letting my God-given dream die led to fasting, led to divine appointments, led to spiritual songs and prophetic visions and to a stronghold that was destroyed enough that it led me to get me pregnant and to a delightful baby boy! Hallelujah! I am now preparing to destroy that generational fortress out of my life all the way, in Jesus name.

Just a few hours before I went into labor God gave me a “jump-out-at-you” Bible verse promise for my labor and delivery: “…I will contend with the one who contends with you, and I will save your children. Isaiah 49:25b”. Less than 24 hours later my baby wasn’t breathing and was being intubated a second time by the ER doctor since the first intubation had failed by the labor and delivery team. God’s promise to me from the night before about saving my children had seemed a bit strange then but all of a sudden I knew this was a promise from God and in that moment it was what I hung on to and it gave me the strength and the faith to contend like I have never contended before in front of God and man in that delivery room. Crying out to God for what seemed like an eternity in front of everyone I prayed earnestly, I cried, I sang, I fought and I stood firm and my baby BREATHED….HALLELULAH (see my blog post Caleb Gabriel). The ER doctor came and saw us the next day and told me he really believed my prayers were the reason my little one had life. God gave me a scripture promise and a song, He gave me tools for the battle that He knew was just around the corner. God has prophetic words for our children all the time for us to use against every bag in every tree in our stewardship. We need to seek close relationship with Him for them and we need to herald them in battle. If the Word of the Lord has spoken it then we need to realize with the fear of God that we are accountable to it and can stand firm in it. It doesn’t mean the fight will be easy, there will be precarious moments but we have to stand firm.

I am still fighting for my son’s God-given destinies. We are up against generational curses related to tongue-tie, candida overgrowth/leaky gut, etc. This fortress is big and it is hard. My life and the fight against the “bagworms” would be a lot easier if I had heeded the Word of God and refrained from giving Caleb omeprazole but it doesn’t mean we are defeated. I did lay “lifeless” on the battlefield, frozen by my broken heart for a time after I realized the scope of the consequences from me discarding the warning of God, but I can stand up again and fight cause the grace of God is part of my heritage as a daughter of God. Grace. So it is not easy, we are still fighting the “bagworms” and I have realized that this “bagworm” infestation is so much bigger than “my orchard”, but we have the victory in Christ Jesus, even if we are surrounded by worms we have the victory. So just like I kept on contending for my destiny to become a mother and just like I kept on contending for my son’s life in the delivery room, and just like I kept on contending for my son’s oxygen which God gave him at 12 weeks of age (hallelujah, see my blog post Red Lips)…just like those and many other times I will keep on getting up and bearing the name and the word of the Lord in battle. Sometimes when I “get hit” in battle I feel like just lying there and crying and sometimes I do just lay there and cry for a bit, but my goal is to get up faster each time because to wallow in despair and discouragement is to wallow in agreement with the enemy. To sacrificially praise God in all circumstances is to agree with God. God deserves my praise no matter what and praise is a weapon of victory in and of itself!

I will praise Him and I will agree with Him that my son’s life, my son’s body, my son’s mouth, throat, stomach and bowels will be a living testimony of:

Jehovah Rapha, The God Who Heals Caleb
of Jehova Nissi, The God Whose Banner over Caleb is Love
of El Roi, The God Who Sees Caleb inside and out
of Jehova Jireh, The God Who Provides for Caleb
of El Shaddai, the All-Sufficent One

That will be and is my son, a living testimony. I am striving to cultivate, in the fear of the Lord, a living testimony of the Lord God Almighty. I am rearing a holy image of God and I am pressing in for my son’s physical body to not only reflect a Good God’s physical image but for his mind, heart and soul to reflect the same Good God, in Jesus’ name.

“Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant,
And Israel whom I have chosen.
 Thus says the Lord who made you
And formed you from the womb, who will help you:
‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant;
And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
And floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring;
They will spring up among the grass
Like willows by the watercourses.’”

Isaiah 44:1-4

Dayenu

One of the most encouraging and most beautiful blogs that I have ever read is called “It Would Have Been Enough” by Nichole Sawatzky. In it she explains that the Hebrew passover song “Dayenu” declares that it would have been enough even if God had just parted the red sea, or just fed the Israelites manna and nothing more. Each miracle, each provision, each manifestation of His presence during the Exodus into the nation’s God-given destiny was a gift that would have been enough to greatly and deeply praise the Almighty King of the universe even if that was it!

I would like to make my own version of Dayenu:

If He had just healed my broken heart of infertility,
and not allowed me to conceive
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just allowed me to conceive and to feel the precious kicks of my little one,
and not allowed me to hear my little one cry
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just allowed my little one to breathe,
and not given me an Owlet Oxygen monitor through an Instagram contest
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just alerted me to the problem with my newborn’s oxygen saturation which saved his life more than once,
and not led me to discover that my newborn was on the brink of starving
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If he had just helped me find out my newborn was hungry and not getting enough milk,
and not provided the special needs bottle Caleb needed to eat without hours of screaming
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just led me to the special needs bottle Caleb needed to thrive,
and not warned me against giving my newborn wheat cereal in his bottle as advised
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just warned me not to give my son wheat cereal in his bottles,
and not told me my son had food allergies before the doctors caught on
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just revealed to me that my son had developed food allergies before the doctors caught on,
and not healed his oxygen saturation levels

–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just healed my son’s oxygen levels without invasive medical care after 12 long weeks,
and not revealed to me the generational root to his feeding difficulties

–Dayenu, it would have been enough

If He had just revealed to me the root of our feeding difficulties known as tongue tie,
and not warned me against giving Caleb Omeprazole
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just stopped at the warning me about the omeprazole when I decided to listen to the doctors instead,
and not led me to a diet that can deeply nourish in spite of and even reverse the scope of food reactions that resulted
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just led me to the healing and nourishing diet plan,
and not helped me get Caleb back on my breastmilk even with doctors saying it would be like winning the lottery
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had just shown me what to eat so Caleb could drink breastmilk again,
and not provided me with a hospital grade pump

–Dayenu, it would have been enough

If He had just provided me with a free hospital grade breast pump even when no place would take my insurance referral,
and not helped me find the support group I did for Caleb’s healing journey
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If he had just led me to the support group,
and not provided a doctor who takes our insurance and knows how to help Caleb
 –Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If he had just led me to the doctor who understands what is going on in Caleb’s body,
and not shown me the root cause of my infertility at the same time then
–Dayenu, it would have been enough!

And Dayenu continues forever and ever. God’s wonderful miracles and works of provision deserve all of our attention and glory in continual praise. He is the master of the universe, time, and space;  how great and mighty is He that He takes such detailed care for each of us, Who loves us and speaks plans that are good for us. Let us press in to our Good Good Father and contend in prayer for everything He bought for us and for our children on the cross. Let us not forget one of His benefits.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
The Lord performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.

Psalm 103:2-6

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Red Lips

I didn’t know my son had red lips until he was 12 weeks old…He is now 13 weeks and I still am taken aback (in a good way) by his red lips, they look so out of the ordinary–so absolutely beautiful because red lips means oxygen and oxygen means healing, divine and supernatural healing.



When I posted my last blog I talked about how my son and I were hidden together in the Rock of Ages, but I had no idea how much I was going to learn about what that means over the next few months, nor how much I would learn about God’s providence or God being my son’s strength…Around the time that I posted that I had started to realize that my newborn baby boy was not sleeping enough. Out of desperation to sleep I had started to look up how much a newborn should on average be sleeping, my son was barely sleeping at just under a month. I thought it was the caffeine medication he was on and I started to try everything in my power to help him sleep from swaddling and rocking him on the yoga ball or in the dark with the water running so long that my arm would get stuck in a pain from holding him. I wasn’t even able to eat or go to the bathroom unless I let my baby cry or unless my husband was home and able to make me a sandwich to bring me while I nursed or rocked our son. We even moved my husband’s beer fridge out of the garage into the nursery in another desperate attempt to help me grab a snack (2 months later I threw out the food that was in there) because I hadn’t had time to eat it. Something was wrong, I just didn’t realize how wrong. In addition one of my breasts was badly cracked, 4 cracks, one of them right through the middle and a portion of the nipple had come off. I had even received special supplies from the wound care clinic to try to help it heal, but nothing was working. I didn’t understand why God wasn’t answering my prayers for my nipple to heal or for my son to sleep. I knew that scripture says that if we pray something according to God’s will it will be done, so how come it wasn’t God’s will for my baby to sleep or for my nipple to heal?

During this trying time of almost no sleep, no self care, and a crying baby that would scratch at my chest and scream and try to nurse even though he just had almost every time I tried to get him to sleep in a wrap God gave me a scripture to hang onto:

Do everything without murmuring or questioning [the providence of God], 15 so that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish in the midst of a [morally] crooked and [spiritually] perverted generation, among whom you are seen as bright lights [beacons shining out clearly] in the world [of darkness]. Philippians 2:14

This scripture became my lifeline, every time I was tempted to despair I would remind myself to trust in God’s providence even though this didn’t seem to have an end in site or any solution that worked. I hated sitting in the dark with him to get him to sleep, but any light would stimulate him and make him stare at it. One afternoon when I was rocking him in the dark with the block-out curtains down in our room I had left the door open because I didn’t want to be in total darkness – not again. It just so happened that the light from the sun moved onto the door and that little light softly and beautifully illuminated our room as my son slept and I bounced…I had been using the time on the ball to pray, and I felt like God was telling me that it may be dark on the ball on this side, but in the spirit realm we were a ball of light because the Holy Spirit was in us and all around us.

Finally when my baby was six weeks old I decided I had to pump and bottle feed in order for my nipple to heal. This led to 2 things, I researched how many ounces a day my baby should be getting and solutions for how to get my baby to stop pinching my nipples. That is when I read that a baby that pinches a nipple can constrict the flow of milk so that it is like they are drinking out of a coffee straw…then later that night I saw an article that listed signs of a starving baby – stick like limbs, green watery poop etc. I conducted some experiments with changing his nursing position and did conclude that he was constricting the flow, my heart felt so heavy, broken within me. Sure enough once I started bottle-feeding he started sleeping!!! I had brought him to the doctor several times in January but it was never caught that he was failing to thrive because God gave Caleb strength to stay awake way more than a newborn should to eat constantly and for long periods of time in order to survive and not start losing weight. I don’t know what would have happened if he hadn’t had that strength, I don’t want to know, God gave him what he needed. Praise God that HE knew and HE provided a shot of caffeine everyday for my baby to help him stay awake and keep on fighting. The LORD IS my son’s strength.

During this time of serious sleep deprivation I learned a lot about the cleft of the Rock. It is not a hard, cold place, like a cold but safe cave in rock. It is not just a safe place, or just a comfortable place, it is literally being held in the arms of God Himself. He did provide, even in the tough times and the smallest of ways throughout that time. We each have a choice whether or not to radically trust God even when it feels like our prayers aren’t being answered and when we are under intense physical and mental pressure. If we do decide to set our heart on trusting and obeying Him then He WILL provide. He IS Jehovah Jireh. It may not feel like he is providing, it certainly didn’t when I gave my non-sleeping baby caffeine everyday and when my breast continued to get worse than better – but God used that breast to make me pump and bottle-feed, and that was what my baby needed.

The bottle-feeding honeymoon didn’t last long, my baby had a constant stream of milk coming out of both corners of his mouth and he would scream and scream when he was eating from the amount of air he was swallowing. Apparently his high palate made bottle-feeding difficult, not just nursing. I felt desperate, how was I supposed to feed my baby! I resorted to using a syringe, but once again God stopped in and helped me find the haberman bottle online, the first time I tried to buy it I got the notification that it wouldn’t ship to Alaska. But then a few hours later apparently that company changed their minds cause I got free expedited shipping with Amazon Prime. Then a few weeks later I found a place where they were on clearance locally, still expensive, but cheaper than Amazon! Once again the providence of Jehovah Jireh saved my baby and made it easier on me than having to just wash and clean 3 bottles over and over, 5 was much easier to handle. 🙂

Then the snacking began. The new bottle prevented air intake and decreased the choking, sputtering and gagging, plus the flow of milk all over out of his mouth, neck and chest, but then it felt like we were going back to eating all the time and having a hard time sleeping. I started researching online and I found a blog about silent reflux. It sounded like what was going on and would explain the intermittent projectile vomiting, the on-going coughing – both without any indication of sickness…the gagging and choking. I made a same day appointment…but the doctor wasn’t so sure, but he scheduled a swallow test. In the meantime the snacking and everything continued. I felt like I should try to put him on a schedule, but he was a newborn still and feed on demand was what I was told over and over. It wasn’t until his therapist had me try to get him to eat faster and he started to projectile vomit again that we were given the green light to a feeding schedule vs the rooting. Apparently silent refluxers may eat to comfort themselves and tend to overeat! This made a huge difference, my son started to actually eat, play then sleep – at two months old we finally started to leave chaos behind and enter into a lifestyle that would allow us to leave the house and get more sleep (we were getting more than his first moth, but his naps were so short still and the nights were still frequent waking as well because he was never full from the snacking habit). Miraculously my baby even started sleeping 6 hours sometimes, and then by 3 months 8 hours at night! This was the same baby that pretty much did NOT sleep his first month of life without major intervention and then not well at all his second month…miraculous!

Around the time that I started bottle-feeding my baby’s oxygen started to desaturate again, the car seat, the changing table, while he napped. This in addition to coughing, gagging, choking. The doctors were not sure what was the direct cause of the desats and he stayed on the caffeine. Grunting in his sleep, cyanosis, and his heart heart had started to drop on top of everything. Things were going to start getting invasive if the doctors couldn’t find an answer soon. On March 1 sent out a prayer alert asking for prayer for quick answers, that night I started to cry as my son slept soundly with oxygen at just 92% for an hour and pale…but then I felt like I should praise God in faith and so I did. Then the next night that song, the one from his birth, came on and I felt like God wanted me to sing that song again, I was tempted to go brush my teeth and pump etc. but I started to sing “There is Power in the Name of Jesus” and to pray, and to declare healing for my baby – and I felt the Spirit move. I prayed hard over every part of him, for his heart, his lungs, his throat, his brain, his mouth, his tongue, his larynx, his esophagus, his trachea, his bronchial tubes – to be under the authority of the Holy Spirit – in subject to God and for there to be complete and utter healing – here is the email I sent out the next day:

Thank you everyone for praying, I’m putting my faith in God for complete and utter healing and deliverance as of last night in, as Laverne says the immaculate name of Jesus Christ. I wanted answers,  but now I just want the upcoming tests to be ones that show this healing and for his pulse oximeter to be redeemed from a device of alarm and fear to be one of joy, a testimony of the power of our Jesus Christ. Pray for me as I rely on God’s strength to keep my shield of faith raised over my household in praise of our God. Thank you Terri for the words of promise in Psalm 91 to pray over my son, God is good and He WILL be massively glorified through Caleb Gabriel. Praise the Lord for His providence, for His healing and for His authority over our every breathe.
For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen. —‭Romans‬ ‭11:36

God answers prayer. Caleb’s oxygen started doing well, really well, 96, 97% except one night when I struggled with fear and it was at 94%. The quick answers also began. The green watery poo had come back and I was suspecting the fat content in my milk was low because we had been busy with appointments so I had allowed myself to go long periods without pumping because I was getting enough volume for multiple bottles. I decided to do formula for a few days so i could get my pumping back on track and the fat content back up. I noticed Caleb’s fussiness increase a lot. Then my husband accidentally bought a pro-sensitive formula. I decided to give it a try. We immediately saw a decrease in fussiness and not only fussiness but his grunting while he was eating, plus the raised patch of dry skin between his eyes started to look better and more like just a patch of dry peeling skin versus raised like a wart or something….I decided to buy some liquid alementum and try that for two weeks instead of the pro-senstive…before my eyes I watched the skin between my sons eyebrows turn smooth  in just an afternoon, even though I’d been putting oil on it for weeks…AND his oxygen shot up to 98, 99, 100% at night during deep sleep!!!! PLUS his lips turned red, dark beautiful red! I’ve looked back at past photos and can find some with color in his lips, but most of the time they were pink, or even less than pink sometimes…I had just gotten used to seeing pale lips…my heart breaks when I realize this but then deeply and profoundly rejoices because again GOD KNEW what color lips he gave my son and GOD SAVES and if our GOD IS FOR US WHO CAN BE AGAINST US? Once again God used what looked like a problem with my milk to provide an answer, once again I was floored. There IS Power in the Name of Jesus, let me say it again — there is POWER IN THE NAME OF JESUS, to break EVERY chain!! I immediately started an elimination duet and decided to ask the doctor once again to let Caleb go off the caffeine and to not start a new medication that was already at the pharmacy – but get this had been delayed so that we had to wait to pick it up AFTER the weekend that my husband bought the wrong formula. That’s right. In light of the obvious change linked to diet we got to go off caffeine – cold turkey – no weaning, this is after a .10 ml a week weaning had been scheduled and then postponed. Praise the Lord!

THEN on Sunday the 12th I had determined to meet a friend at her church, it would be the first time Caleb and I went to church since he was born. Another friend Barb had told me she went to another church and I decided I would visit that one the next week with her. Well God had other plans, he had a divine appointment you see for Caleb and I to testify. It is by the blood of the lamb and our testimony that we triumph over the enemy! Caleb was crying and the other church was closer so I decided to go there instead of the one I had planned on, turns out it was a testimony service. Caleb and I had never attended that church before, but I felt like God wanted me to get up. Fear and doubt didn’t want me to so I made sure to get up and be the very first person to go – obey God fast and let the Holy Spirit to the talking (can I get an amen?!). Later during the testimony service the pastor actually stopped and said he had a song to sing for someone, a promise from God. I believe this was a promise for Caleb and I. I had never heard this song before, but now I’m declaring it, not just singing it!

Be not dismayed whatever betide
God will take care of you
Beneath His wings of love abide
God will take care of you

God will take care of you
Through everyday o’er all the way
He will care for you
God will take care of you

Through days of toil when heart doth fail
God will take care of you
When dangers fierce your path assail
God will take care of you

God will take care of you
Through everyday o’er all the way
He will care for you
God will take care of you

God will take care of you
He will
God will take care of you
He will

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

Praise God. Again I say praise Him and rejoice. Dance and sing for joy!

Naomi’s Baby Story

I told my baby story at my shower – I didn’t know if I’d every have a baby shower, and I’m so thankful to God that I did. I hope you find the story of my journey through infertility encouraging to you no matter if you face infertility or not. We will all face something that feels crippling or overwhelming at some point in our life. We are all busy with the building of our household whether it has children in it or not – who will you trust with the building?

Joy in the Wilderness

During my journey through the wilderness of infertility God was with me every step of the way. He led me in, just as He has led me out. Just as He provided for Elijah in Kerith Ravine, God sent me His Spirit and His truth to feed me and to sustain me even as my womb remained barren and void of life, like a drought – a drought I had been born with. When the test results had first come back showing that I wasn’t ovulating and that I wasn’t creating the hormone levels needed to create nor sustain a pregnancy I had a choice. Would I decide what I was going to do next, or would I let God decide what I was going to do.

God tests us in the wilderness to see if we are truly fully devoted to Him, if we have a heart toward Him like Joshua and Caleb had even as they marched back into the wilderness away from the Promised Land. To be fully devoted to God is to be fully devoted to His authority, to His Lordship over everything, including the decisions we make. I determined to wait upon the Lord and to only do what I felt sure He was OK with me doing in my efforts to become a mom. Ultimately I was brought to the crossroads that even though this had been a dream of mine my whole life that if it was not God’s will, then God’s will be done. I had to submit to the pain of a failed attempt at pregnancy over and over again and declare that God was good, no matter what. The thing that amazed me in all of this was that God taught me about His goodness in the midst of the wilderness. He taught me by allowing me to experience the depth and the love of His goodness when I all I had was Him. He taught me that He was more than enough.

When I took that really hard step and declared that God was good, as I cried and sobbed my heart upon the floor I should add…God responded by bolstering me up in Him, by doubling my portion of faith and by filling my heart with joy–joy in Him. We can have joy in the wilderness. It all just depends on whether or not we will say:

Have your way in me oh Lord.

A few weeks ago a pastor in my life, Clay Gatlin, shared a message out of Proverbs and spoke about God’s authority and determination of “our vat”. How big our vat is, and whether it is overflowing or not. This could mean a myriad of things for each of us, our income, our health, whatever our lot. For me it was my womb, God has spent almost the past 6 years teaching me and bringing me into a deeper awareness of His authority over my womb and over my fertility. He did this through a womb that remained barren and lifeless year after year. It has been a journey of sorrow for sure, but one that I’m thankful for because God brought me so much closer to Him and to a place of trust. He taught me about the great wealth of His goodness as He challenged and grew my faith in regards to His love and goodness. When I stepped out and declared God’s goodness over my circumstances, no matter what–I felt such an immeasurable level of peace and joy in the Lord, a peace and joy that sustained me and healed my heart even in the midst of a barren “vat”.

I’m so excited to tell you that my husband and I are expecting. After 5 1/2 of trying, and almost to the end of the time I was willing to go through the emotional roller coaster anymore, lo and behold God has filled my vat to overflow with life! When Pastor Clay spoke about how some of us have small vats and others have big vats and that we shouldn’t compare our vats that really resounded with me because God doesn’t want me to compare my vat with with other women’s vats, other women who will be blessed abundantly in their fertility. I just need to keep my eyes on God and rejoice in Him during this most amazing season in my life as my vat is literally bursting forth (my belly is surely growing and I love it)! I love the my vat is physically growing as a living testimony of God’s perfect timing and goodness. 🙂 I am soooo incredibly thankful to God for my baby and I love him so much already.

We each have our place to serve and to bring glory to God in the kingdom before He calls us home. I rejoice with women who have been called by God to bear many children. I rejoice in God for the place that He has for me in His kingdom as well. I rejoice with all women for the place that He has for each of us as His dearly beloved bride. Oh how deep and how wide is the love and the passion of our bridegroom for each of us. Lose yourself in Him. Catch your reflection in His tender gaze. We are each so precious in His sight, the apple of His eye.

 

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Vengeance in the Wilderness

Even when we walk faithfully with God in the wilderness, the wilderness is still a hard place to be. Darkness and confusion seemingly surround us and we are being tested and refined to live by faith. One of the hardest things to do in the wilderness is to resist the temptation to take vengeance into our own hands. In the wilderness when others hurt us it is compounded because of the pain we are already going through. To love, to forgive, and to spare in spite of what a situation or a person says or does takes the strength and the love of God. It is too great in our weakness for us to do this on our own. It requires supernatural, it requires faith. The only way to give grace is to learn grace, and learning grace is hard because it is undeserved. Having mercy is hard because it is undeserved.

It may also feel just downright wrong. The enemy will try to get us to believe so many lies to justify our hatred, our anger or our vengeance. What we have to remember is that no one is “getting away” with anything. When we exercise love and forgiveness we first must exercise faith in God. It requires for us to trust Him. The Lord’s Prayer begins with two very important words: “Our Father”. God loves His adopted, we are His children, and His love for us is more fierce and more passionate than the love of any parent–as hard as that can be to imagine. We are precious in His sight. When we choose to love and to have grace in a situation where it is not deserved we are choosing to trust God with the situation. We are releasing the people and the circumstances to the authority of God. We are reserving the right for justice over to God. He is perfect and we can trust Him with that.

Even in our daily lives this is difficult. It doesn’t take extreme wilderness circumstances to have to face difficulty in releasing anger to God in exchange for love. However, with the help of the Holy Spirit we can do it-and we must do it. God commands us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. He commands us to not keep a record of wrongs. He commands us to forgive. He knows this is to hard for us without His help – and He longs to fill us with the Holy Spirit in order to perfect His love in and through us.

Think about David in 1 Samuel 26. Talk about being in a wilderness on the account of another! Filled with jealousy and bent on preserving his line as the rulers of Israel, Saul was in pursuit of David’s life, acting in direct defiance of God’s will. David ended up in the wilderness, hiding out as a fugitive because of this. In 1 Samuel 26 David and a companion stood over Saul as he slept in his camp with the perfect opportunity to kill Saul with his own spear. His companion even offered to do it on David’s behalf so the blood wouldn’t be “on David’s hands”. David absolutely refused however. What if you are in a situation where the stars align perfectly for you to get back at someone who has hurt you and even to not have to do the dirty work yourself? Would you consider that to be divine providence for vengeance or would you steadfastly reserve vengeance for the Lord – biting your tongue, refusing to harm the other person in any way…? Furthermore David had been directly anointed by Samuel to be the next King of Israel – with witnesses, and the people loved him! In the eyes of man David could have walked away from this with every justification necessary–but not in the eyes of God. David understood that vengeance belonged to the Lord. In I Samuel 24 David had spared Saul’s life. then in Is Samuel 25 David was tempted to execute vengeance for himself and his men against Nabal, but God used Abigail to stop David with wisdom and then God executed the justice on David’s behalf. Then in I Samuel 26 David faced another perfect opportunity to take Saul’s life. By this time He’d learned it didn’t matter if two, if a hundred perfect opportunities to execute vengeance presented themselves, even if was seen as justice in the eyes of men – vengeance belonged to the Lord.

There was a time in my own life when I was wrapped up in bitterness, hatred and anger, so deep and so wide that it took the supernatural help from God to love those that had betrayed me and to forgive the unforgivable. But God commanded me to do it and He planted a love in my heart that I did not and could not have mustered on my own. In addition to helping to forgive, God also manifested restoration and healing. Just because we forgive someone and have love and grace doesn’t mean we have (or should have) a restored relationship with them. However, if it is God’s will (well really it is, but if the other person(s) is in resistance to the will of God it may not be possible)…Restoration it is so delightful, a wonderful gift from the Lord! God desires to heal each of us. To make brand new that which has been tattered and torn. No situation, no wilderness is beyond the hope and the help of God – Miraculous, Wondrous, Wonderful God. Our Father. Trust in Him. Release vengeance to Him. He is faithful.

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Strengthened in the Wilderness

Yesterday I posted about staying faithful to God in the wilderness, even a wilderness that comes upon us because of the sins of others. We are to fully follow God–whether He tells us to go back into a wilderness or to go forward into the Promised Land. Not every wilderness is the result of another’s sin. I’ve suffered in the wilderness because of my own sins (see my post But, there is a Redeemer) and I’ve suffered in the wilderness simply because we live in a fallen world and there is a curse of death upon our bodies (see my blog series starting with 5 Years). No matter how we end up in a wilderness though, if we humble ourselves before the Lord and recognize His authority by submitting to Him then God will provide for us in the midst of the suffering.

Think about Elijah, when Ahab and Jezebel brought suffering upon Israel because of their sin. The land was parched with drought, and on top of that Ahab and Jezebel were out to kill Elijah. Jezebel was out to kill all of the prophets of God in fact. It was a dangerous and perilous time to be a prophet of God–but God provided for Elijah. Elijah was faithful to God in the “wilderness” season of his life and God in turn transformed the actual wilderness into a safe haven for Elijah:

“Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan.  You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”

So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.” I Kings 17:2-6

One of my favorite verses in Exodus is chapter 15 verse 27:

“Then they [the Israelites during the Exodus in the wilderness] came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.”

God had created these 12 springs of water, one for each of the tribes of Israel, way before the Exodus. In His providence He created a safe haven for them, a place to camp at. Interestingly, and importantly they were tested directly before this provision with a time of wondering where there was no water, and a time where there was only bitter, unfit water.

Whether we’ve brought the consequences of sin upon ourselves, or whether we are suffering because of others or even because of the way we were born–God longs to be tender and affectionate towards us in the wilderness. He longs to provide for us supernaturally and providentially. God is able. Sometimes we find ourselves in a wilderness all of a sudden, and sometimes, just like Caleb, Joshua and Elijah, we need to obey God when he tells us to enter into the wilderness.

It is in the wilderness where God can teach us and refine us. It is in the wilderness where God chooses often to show Himself mighty and strong. It is in the wilderness where God delights in magnifying His love and His provision to His faithful ones. It is in the wilderness where you suddenly become aware of how much you have to rely upon Him. It is in the wilderness where He opens up the Rock and nourishes us with Living Water.

He is all that we need.