At my first prenatal appointment, the doctor searched long and hard for a heartbeat. Unable to locate the tiny flicker, he sent me to have blood work done and said we'd have to wait to see if there was viable life. I was either very early on in my pregnancy, or I was miscarrying. His icy cold words seemed to freeze my whole world into stillness. I might be miscarrying?
About fifteen years ago, when I was a twenty-three year-old newlywed, I was diagnosed with a benign tumor in the center of my brain. I had successful surgery to remove that tumor, but I had to have a shunt implanted in my brain to drain the fluid.
Have you wondered why God places special needs families in your midst? It's not so you can pity them. It's so you can learn from them! There are lessons in the special needs journey that God desires to teach all of us.
The very things about the season that enchanted me also served to magnify my heartache: parties with everyone coupled up but me; romantic Christmas music and movies; and those annual Christmas letters brimming with friends' burgeoning families. It all reminded me of what I didn't have.
I've experienced loss many times--loss from miscarriage, loss of friends, loss from death, loss of a church, loss of loved ones, loss of relationships, loss of dreams. But no matter how much loss one experiences, I don't think it's something we ever grow comfortable with. Loss is always an unwelcome intruder to our lives.
I sometimes have to drive very near the place where he killed himself. Seventeen years have passed. Life has moved on, and I have had many happy days . . . but something about this place transport every emotion back to that gut-wrenching time.
I admit it. When I saw the theme of this year's Gospel Coalition Women's Conference, I wasn't overly enthused.Nehemiah? And I care because . . .? (Okay, I didn't consciously think that, but I might as well have!)
On good days you will hear me talk about how I know this was filtered through the fingers of a loving God. I'll talk about prayer and faith and peace. I mean those things. I really do. I'm not just blowing smoke or trying to talk myself into something. But there are bad days.
Parenting can challenge the best of marriages, but parenting a child with special needs can push two people to their limits. It would be easy for this difficulty to tear our marriage apart, but God has used it to knit our hearts together instead.
I'm not the tent-pitching camper type. My idea of camping is a good bit of exercise outside by day and settling into a heavenly bed at the Hampton Inn by night. So, I can only imagine how the Israelites felt wandering around in the wilderness for forty years. >
At age 37 I'm finally beginning to understand that my greatest ministries have not come out of my greatest strengths, gifts, or wisdom. Instead, they've come out of my greatest weaknesses: the things that humble me to my core, seem foolish to the world, are easily misunderstood by others, and push me past my limits.
Do you ever feel like you're continuously coming up short? Dishes in the sink. Mountains of laundry growing by the day. Bathrooms that need to be cleaned . . . again. DIY Pinterest projects aren't turning out perfectly. Should have said this. Should have done that. Recently, I had one of those days.
The past couple months I’ve been learning how to acknowledge and live within my limitations. After all, God alone is infinite; I am not. Here are four truths I’ve been remembering and implementing in everyday life. I hope they help you as much as they’ve been helping me.
We tend to romanticize that first Thanksgiving. We imagine happy Pilgrims sitting over steaming plates of food and kindly asking their Indian guests to "please pass the potatoes." It's all so quaint--but our retellings of history have a way of puffing up the happy stuff and glossing over grim realities.
What words do you use with God after the "do not resuscitate" papers have been signed? How do you pray for your friend as you hold her hand and she strokes his in that sterile room as God changes her title from wife to widow? How do you pray when you thought there would be so many more years together?
My name is Ami Atkins, and I am a thirty-year-old barren widow. My husband was a passionate follower of Christ. He lived with reckless abandon for God and the gospel. Jon adored me, but he adored Jesus more.
Jack barked with vigor that day, not wanting any harm to cross our threshold. But of course Van's Medical Supply had only come to help. I shushed Jack and nudged him aside, allowing the oxygen tanks to roll in--one, two, three, four.
Confession: I LOVE CHOCOLATE. Specifically, Dove Chocolates. But the last time I indulged in my confectionary treat, I was alarmingly taken aback by the messages Dove was sending me. Most of the time, the messages are fun, frolic-filled, frivolous quips on the necessities of bubble baths and massages. "Indulge," they would tell me. "Daydream," they would say. But this day, this chocolate was especially disturbing to me.
Ginny and Karen Melby had no idea when they undertook their paddleboarding trip across Lake Michigan last month to raise money for orphans in Uganda that God was preparing them for something much harder just around the corner.
"God only gives special needs children to special people." You may have heard that beforeâ€”or said it yourself. Sixteen years ago, our son Taylor was diagnosed with a severe form of autism. Kind, godly people would approach me or my husband, giving us hugs and committing to pray. Often in conversation we were reminded that we must be special for God to give us such a responsibility. I didn't know how to respond, because I didn't feel special at all.
As I write these words, I am nine months pregnant. Those of you who have been there know that is a very "fleshy" season of life. That's true in a very literal sense (I'm talking to you, extra large maternity pants!), but I've also found it to be true in a spiritual sense.
As I was driving home, my mind drifted. In no time flat I was in an internal panic, thinking about what would happen to my children if my husband and I both died at the same time. Then, I let my mind go further (too far), and I imagined we all died except my youngest daughter. Would our friends gather around her? Would our family get there quickly enough to calm her fears? I was almost in tears, gripped by fear.
It’s almost like Paul is saying, “Look, it’s a no-brainer. Weigh what you’re fearful of, in comparison to God’s commitment to you, and ask yourself how the two compare! Face the angry crowd, the empty bank balance, the prodigal child, the lonely nights with this knowledge. Remind yourself Who you belong to and Who is committed to be on your side. The fearful circumstances may bottom out one side of the scale, but if you could place God on the other side . . . the scale would explode!
Would you describe this season of life as The Devastation? Do you sometimes feel like you may not make it across without dropping dead? Consider the lessons Jesus teaches from the wilderness and take hope.
Hostility against Christianity proves Christianity's threat to the kingdom of darkness. Persecution confirms God's reality. I mean, think about it for a minute . . . Does it even make sense that world powers, rulers, dictators, and religions would see Christianity as some kind of threat?
After being married for nineteen years, I had to go back to work. I was torn because I couldn't give 100 percent to both callings, and both our home and my career suffered to some extent. I experienced what many of you working mothers have agonized over—the secret, silent bleeding of a working mother's heart, with all the accompanying guilt and exhaustion and divided loyalties.
In the privacy of the bathroom stall, Jane burst into tears. She wept and wept, wondering why her emotions were so strong. She couldn't help but feel something was deeply wrong. Something beyond her power or ability to fix.
"You need to learn to trust men again." When she said this just moments after I admitted I had been sexually abused as a child by a man I trusted, I got mad . . . really mad! She didn't understand the depth of my fear, disgust, anger, and helplessness. She didn't even acknowledge my emotional scars.
When I see a voicemail on my phone, fear often grips me. I guess I've received one of those "I'm sorry to have to tell you this but . . . phone calls that have turned my world upside down one too many times.
You may be enduring a winter of suffering with no hope for spring. But no matter how you entered this season of adversity, you did not enter it alone and you do not walk it without purpose. You may see adversity as your greatest enemy, but I’m throwing out a different perspective . . .
Through this precious, twelve-minute movie, you can not only peek inside the Daily's home; you can get to know Paul, Becky, and their five boys. While they're all pretty incredible, one in particular stands out. Titus.
I have come to believe that the basic pattern for change is the same no matter what the habit or addiction: dependence on God, trusting Him for help one day at a time, purposing to avoid the "triggers," adding health-promoting routines, and becoming saturated with the truth of God.
I am one of the non-planners of the world. I convinced myself I was a free spirit--an artiste. I couldn't box my creative self in by something as mundane as plans. I smugly told myself that I didn't need to make plans, because I had faith.
I sat in front of a little girl and her daddy on one of my recent flights. We had been sitting on the tarmac for forty-five minutes when the captain's voiced pierced our collective silence with these words . . .
I don’t hear a lot of “Excellent job with that diaper changing technique, mom,” or “I love the way you scraped the dried milk out of my sippy cups,” or “I really liked your voice inflection the fifth time you read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to me today.”
I'm sure my scream took the phone from her ear. I'd asked for a boy. They'd long wanted a boy and thought their child birthing years were past. A boy. A good gift from the faithful Father. But that wasn't her only news. Pre-cancerous cells on her back.
Does Scripture memory sound like “just another thing to do” on an already overwhelming to-do list? What if you learned it was one of the greatest weapons with which to battle discouragement and depression in your life? Would that pique your interest a bit more?
We often sense the Lord’s presence in places of serenity and security.
But what happens when the scenery changes—when the serene and secure
become tumultuous waves of uncertainty, doubt, or fear? When the bills
can’t be paid, or the consequences of sin run deep, or your hopes and
dreams for the future have been shattered?
I started noticing that the incredibly encouraging emails my mom regularly sent me were full of Scripture. They weren’t just hopeful sentiments from a mom, but actual promises from God that gave me something sturdy to cling to.
When Lorna’s husband began drinking heavily, she decided that the answer to her problems was divorcing him. But through an “only God!” encounter, Lorna realized that divorce wasn’t the answer; God was.
When we take our eyes off all we are not seeing God do, and begin thanking Him and proclaiming His goodness for all we haveseen Him do–our perspective transforms from worry . . . to praise and gratitude!
In this video, Jennifer talks about a darkness we all struggle with—depression. She calls it normal, encourages us not to mask it, and tells us about our God who offers us the grace we need in the darkness.
Worry eats at us. It mires our hearts in apprehension and fear. It saps
our strength and drains our peace. And that worry tempts us to believe
the myth that an uncertain financial future is an unbearable state of
A lack of commitment is normal in our society. It's like it’s even expected. Think of how often you hear “no commitment necessary.” Whether it’s a gym membership or an email subscription service, I know that I usually want to know what the terms are for getting out of what I have just signed up for!
One of the most unusual gifts I ever received was an overflowing bowl of cooked-to-perfection chicken feet from my Zambian friends. Gifts certainly come in all shapes and sizes! Philippians 1:29 describes another unusual gift.