“I’m just not sure if I see God as good. I see Him as holy but not necessarily kind.”
Someone said this to me a few days ago, and it immediately brought me back to my teenage years when I had the exact same thought. I was trying to read through the Old Testament, and I remember being so confused by God’s responses to His people. In Exodus, He responded to the Israelites’ grumblings in the wilderness with grace time after time. Then suddenly in Numbers, He responded to the exact same grumblings with curses and serpents.
I found myself wondering: Did He just run out of patience? Does that mean His grace for me also has limits? Why did He keep blessing Abraham and Moses, even though they made so many terrible choices, but then didn’t show that same continued grace to His people when they were wandering in the desert? Does He have favorites?
I was recently challenged in a Bible study to share my version of my salvation story with God and then invite Him to share His version with me. I put it off for a while, but I finally sat down to share it with Him one night last week, and joked, “How long do You have, God?”
I then proceeded to tell Him exactly how I remembered my story:
You say that all I have to do is call to You, and You will tell me things I do not know.
So, tell me: Where are You?
I can’t read the news anymore. There’s so much pain in the world right now, and I can’t help but wonder—where is Your light? You say You have overcome the world, but we still have to live in it, and it is so very broken. I tell my children that You are a good and loving God who will protect them. But then, in the same breath, I have to explain why they aren’t allowed to see their friends or be near their grandparents.
In Luke 17:1, Jesus says it is impossible that no offenses will come. In Greek, the word for offenses can mean hindrances, obstacles, or stumbling blocks. And that’s what the spirit of offense does—it hinders our walk with Christ.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I am offended, I lose my religion. I can be having a full-on spiritual revival in my car, listening to my worship music, and feeling the very presence of God. But when someone cuts me off without using a blinker, suddenly my heart loses focus, and I’m yelling out, “Jesus, you better take the wheel because I’m about to rear-end a Pharisee!”
When I first met my pastor, he prayed over me and my husband, Matt.
The two of them had grown up together, but he didn’t know me very well, and I could tell because he specifically prayed over a ministry I was going to have one day while speaking to a crowd. I remember smiling and nodding while thinking, “You have SO got the wrong girl.”
My skeptical response was a reaction based on where I was in my walk with Jesus at the time.
You see, my salvation did not meet my expectations.
This morning was chaotic. We were late for church, and I was trying to get my daughter’s messy hair into a quick braid. As I combed through one of her tangles, she tensed up and yelled, “Ow, ow, ow!” I quickly kissed her head and said, “You’re fine,” as I rushed out the door to finish getting ready. She followed me out and tugged on my dress. As I turned around, my 3-year-old looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “No, I’m not fine. It hurts.”
I watch you glance at the clock. Because for now, life runs on time. And your days just don’t seem to have enough. It’s time for a bath and bed, and it’s okay when you feel guilty that you’re glad. I give you just enough energy to make it through the splashes and tantrums. And I hear every word you softly sing over her. I am already answering those prayers for her. Mama, you just wait to see what I do in her life.
Your to-do list is almost complete. And even after all of that, you still come meet me on the couch. I understand that you can barely hold your eyes open, but Mama, my Truth is just the refreshment you need. My Word is the energy you need to love hard tomorrow. And all I need you to do it open it. I’ll do the rest. And I’ll give you rest.
You did more Kingdom work today than you will ever know, sweet Mama.
And you will never know how proud I am of you.
—“Dear Working Mama” by Jessica Satterfield (excerpt)
Three years ago, as a brand new mom in the throes of postpartum depression, I gulped these words down like they were water for my parched soul. Over and over again, I would go back and forth between these words and His Word. My whole life I had been an over-achiever, and it was devastating to not live up to my own expectations.
I recently returned from a wonderful trip to Mexico with Operation Christmas Child. I had the opportunity to visit with several local pastors and lead a team of staff members as we all got to experience the joy of thousands of children hearing the Gospel for the very first time.
One of my favorite things about being a mom is how God uses parenting moments to give me better insight into His relationship with me.
This past week, my husband and I celebrated our daughter’s third birthday. After he picked her up from preschool, she came barreling in the door asking for a “birthday lollipop.” I told her no because we had plans to surprise her with a trip to an ice cream shop that had 20 flavors and 50 toppings to choose from. She immediately burst into tears, devastated that we wouldn’t let her have a lollipop. As she melted into the floor, accusing us of hurting her feelings, I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and say, “If you only knew what we have planned for you!”
“Jesus may have said man shall not live by bread alone, but He said nothing about moms living by caffeine alone,” I joked to my husband while sucking down my second cup of coffee after a hectic morning. Icy roads, school delays, and blow-out diapers had not set us off on the right foot. I was frustrated because I was going to be late to work (again), but in the midst of the craziness, I felt a gentle prompting in my spirit to meditate on Nehemiah 8:10:
I remember my son’s first cry clearly… because it was immediately followed by silence.
Neither of our birth stories went the way my husband and I had planned. I was in labor with our daughter for over 24 hours when her oxygen levels started dropping, leading to an emergency C-section. With our son, we had a scheduled C-section, but I went into labor four weeks early, so it ended up being another emergency operation.
I’m honored to share this beautiful testimony from my sweet friend, Tiffany, who will always hold a special place in my heart. She was my daughter’s nanny for two years, and my husband and I consider her part of our family. Every single day, she was intentional about showing my baby girl the love of Jesus and I will be forever thankful.
For out of His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. – John 1:16
“The Lord keeps giving me a vision of being in the middle of an ocean. I’m treading water and barely surviving. There’s no land in sight; nowhere to go. I begin to get more and more exhausted as I try to carry my life on my shoulders. My past crashes over me like a wave. The pain of sexual abuse, fear, and unworthiness creep into my lungs while I desperately fill them with air. I push my head under the water every few seconds to rest. But then I pop back up, gasping for air, and take up the weight again. I never stay down long enough to let the water fill my lungs.
The other day I found myself asking my toddler this question after she repeatedly refused to put away her new Christmas toys. Usually, she responds with a sullen, “You are.” But this time she smiled at me and said, “Jesus is!”
It was pretty hard to argue with that logic, so my new parenting motto is: Until Jesus comes back, Mommy’s in charge.
For the past few weeks, bedtime has been a hot mess in our family. Our toddler has been crying every night for various reasons: she’s scared, she wants a hug, she needs a drink, or she has to go to the bathroom. The night typically starts with me gently comforting her and ends with me yelling, “Stop whining! You’re fine!”
She’s usually a pretty good sleeper, but there’s something crazy about this time of year. We are all exhausted, and I’m quick to lose my temper because we are in a season of over-spending, over-scheduling, and over-worrying.
This will be our first Christmas without the matriarch of my family—my Meme. So many things remind me of her. The other morning as we sang “O Come, All Ye Faithful” at work, I found myself singing the Latin words, and all I wanted to do was call and tell her how much I missed her Sunday morning Latin lessons.
Even watching my kids open their presents at my parents’ house this weekend brought me back to my own childhood, waiting impatiently on my Meme and Papaw to make their way to our house so we could open our gifts. She was always there to rejoice with us over every present.
Over the past few years, I’ve learned that one of the reasons Christians can come across as condescending or hypocritical is because we don’t want to share the dark parts of our testimony. The struggles with alcohol, drugs, addiction, mental health, anxiety, depression… The parts where we don’t have it all together.
But we can’t glorify Jesus unless we are willing to talk about what He’s delivered us from. Instead of preaching, “You need to fix this in your life,” we have to start with, “I’ve been there.” We have to make it personal. We have to be real and transparent with each other if we want to earn the right to speak into each other’s lives.