Category Archives: Faith

How Can I Fear?

If you know our son, Ian, then you know that this child has no fear. From the moment he learned how to crawl climb and walk run, he’s kept us on our toes. He will climb up and jump off of anything. He will talk to just about anyone, which scares the poop out of me sometimes. He’s very independent and expresses that any way he possibly can. There is one thing he struggles with though, and it breaks my heart, because it’s something I struggled with as a child.

His battles come at night, in his sleep. He regularly has night terrors and/or nightmares. Every time he has one, I just want to cry with him. I wish I could reach into his mind and ward off whatever is causing the fear. But, all I can do is hold his sweat-soaked body, pray, and softly sing to him. After several nights of this, I discovered a song that seems to calm him immediately. I can never get through the song without being choked up with tears, because it amazes me how quickly God uses the words of that song to calm my little boy’s heart and ease him back into a peaceful slumber. It’s a song that I grew up singing, but the words didn’t start really hitting home to me until I watched their calming effects on my son.

You see, I have something that I battle with almost daily. In the words of Paul, this is my “thorn in the flesh.” My thorn is FEAR.

I’m the biggest worrier I know, and I am not proud of it at all. Sometimes my worry is ridiculous. For example, the other night my husband commented about how the curtain hanging in front of our sliding glass door leaves enough of a gap that anyone standing on our back porch could probably see into our bedroom when our door is open. You know what flew through my mind? The picture of a person with a gun pressed against the glass, the end of the gun aiming at me. Silly, I know. It gets even sillier. I decided I was going to fix the problem and started thinking of ways to close that “dangerous” gap. Hubby suggested to just use a thumbtack and tack it to the wall. My reply?

“Well, what if I forget to take out the tack in the morning? One of the boys might pull on the curtain, and the tack will fly out, and we won’t be able to find it. It will be found either by Ian (or me) stepping on it and getting a tack stuck in his foot or by Isaac finding the tack and putting it in his mouth, therefore swallowing it and sending us to the emergency room.”

My husband just stared at me with big, disbelieving eyes. “Did that seriously just go through your mind in those last five seconds?”

“Yes.”

He tried desperately to hold back the laughs that bubbled their way up his chest. I promptly threw a pillow at his head and muttered for him to leave me alone. But hey, coming up with a worst case scenario helped me remember to pull out the tack in the morning.

That’s just a silly example of my worry tendencies, but as an adult, I have encountered far more serious things to worry about. Things such as, our future, my children’s souls, the government, my children’s futures, etc. Overall, I just fear the unknown. I fear not knowing what will happen tomorrow, the next hour, the next minute. Over the past few months, God has revealed to me how much of a sin my fear is. If I truly believe that God is sovereign and in control, then I have no need to fear the future. He holds everything in His hands. Not to mention that fear is not of God but is actually of Satan. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” – II Timothy 1:7

Also, if I am living out the greatest commandment . . . love . . . then I should not have any room for fear. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – I John 4:18

Thinking further about that, by allowing myself to fear and worry, I am purposely putting myself through turmoil. I am saying that I would rather punish myself with anxiety than to let God take care of us. That’s so silly! Nobody wants to be in turmoil, but by fearing, I am saying I would rather feel that than the awesome peace that God provides each and every day. I am saying that God is not big enough to handle my problems and issues in my life. I am withholding from Him the glory of showing the world and myself that He truly is greater than me. How humbling!

God had to remind me of that again the other night, when I was singing Ian back to sleep. I couldn’t even finish the song, because I broke down in tears. I felt so convicted by the reminder that I so desperately needed . . . How can I fear? Jesus is near!

When shadows fall and the night covers all
There are things that my eyes cannot see.
I never fear, for the Savior is near.
My Lord abides with me.

How can I fear? Jesus is near!
He ever watches over me!
Worries all cease; He gives me peace.
How can I fear with Jesus?

When I’m alone and I face the unknown
And I fear what the future may be,
I can depend on the strength of my Friend!
He walks along with me.

How can I fear? Jesus is near!
He ever watches over me!
Worries all cease; He gives me peace.
How can I fear with Jesus?

Jesus is King! He controls everything!
He is with me each night and each day.
I trust my soul to the Savior’s control;
He drives all fear away!

How can I fear? Jesus is near!
He ever watches over me!
Worries all cease; He gives me peace.
How can I fear with Jesus?

*How Can I Fear? by Ron Hamilton*

*Photography by Portraits by Heather

My Weight Struggle

and the friend who helped me find some confidence through it.

 
You might look at this picture and see a happy and confident (pregnant) woman. But, the reality is that inside, I am frustrated and not very confident. What’s holding me back from achieving that complete confidence is my ever-constant battle with my weight. I know what you’re probably thinking right now. Umm, hello, you’re pregnant! Yes, I know. Pretty sure I am the one who is most aware of my pregnant state. But, you see, I have battled with weight my entire life, down to struggling with eating disorders for eleven years. You can read more about that in this post.
By the time my husband came home from deployment back in 2011 and after having had our first son, I had finally gotten down to the best shape I’d ever been in my life. I was so excited about my transformation. I felt confident, happy and amazing; and I finally had the ability to eat like a horse and not have it affect me so much!

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Helping Our Men With Grace

helping our men
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
-James 5:16
This is not going to be an easy post to write. I’ll admit that I’m actually very nervous right now. I guess I’m more afraid of any negative responses I’ll get to this post, but I need to talk about something that is weighing rather heavily on my heart.

As a woman and a wife, I try to be highly aware of the dangers of the world and how they affect our men. As a mom of boys, my heart is even more keen on making sure I help protect not just my husband, but my sons as well. I don’t think I need to talk much longer before you start to realize what I’m referring to. I’m referring to our men’s thought-lives and the things that affect them. Ladies, I want to implore you not to allow yourself to be so naive or so protective of yourself to think (or assume) that your man doesn’t struggle. I cannot speak for men who aren’t Christians or even for all Christian men, as there is a tiny percentage who really don’t seem to have an issue. I am speaking for the men who, having a relationship with Jesus Christ and allowing the Spirit to lead them, are battling with a sin in their lives. The sin could be pornography, taking a second glance at that woman on the street, etc. They’re battling, because the Spirit is battling within them and doesn’t want them to be consumed. They know the destruction of their sin, and they want to overcome it, but they need our help. They need our understanding. They need our support.

I’ve heard on more than one occasion of wives who refuse to let their husbands open up to them, and it breaks my heart. The husband will want to talk to his wife about his struggle, because he knows it’s the right and Biblical thing to do, and he so desperately wants help from his wife. Sadly, as he starts talking to his wife about it, she’ll immediately cut him off and won’t let him open up to her. Talking about struggles like that have become taboo and some women just want to allow themselves to live in disbelief of it being real. Here’s the thing, ladies, we all sin and come short of God’s glory. We all have destructive sin our lives that needs to be weeded out. That sin could be fear, gluttony, self-loathing . . . you name it! Every one of those sins is destructive, and every one of those sins can destroy relationships. So, how can we make sure this doesn’t happen? We need to be open with our spouses (or significant others), and we need to allow them to be open with us.

If your husband wants to talk to you about a struggle in his life, let him! He’s talking to you, because (aside from God) you are the closest person to him, and he wants to know that you’ve got his back. But please, if he wants to open up to you, be gracious and loving. I know how much it hurts to hear a confession like that. Believe me, I know. The pain can be unbearable, but your man is confiding in you, because he’s crying out for help. Honestly, the fear of our reaction is sometimes exactly what is keeping him from coming to you. The fear of you walking out on him or completely judging him ends up paralyzing him into silence.

You might not have faced a talk like this from your man but try to understand how the things of the world affect him. Even if he’s not struggling with pornography, he’s being faced with the way many women in our culture dress. You can’t even drive down the road without a billboard of a scantily clad woman smacking you in the face. These days, you simply can’t go anywhere without the immodesty glaring at you. Understand that men are wired so differently from women. Men are wired by sight. They are stimulated by visual images, whether on purpose or not.

Please don’t go away from this post and immediately throw the “Do you . . .?” question at your man. If you want to graciously help him, just simply go to him and tell him that you understand. You understand the affects of our world, that he faces battles every single day and that you are praying for him. Don’t just leave it at that; actually DO pray for him. He needs it, whether he tells you he does or not. Then, ask him if there’s anything you can do to help. (Who knows, maybe he’s been wanting to talk to you exactly about that but fear has kept him at bay. You have now allowed an open door where he feels safe. But, if you open that door, make sure you stand on the other side with an understanding heart and graciously open arms. You won’t be able to do it on your own. So, you must make sure you’re allowing God to keep your heart strong whatever may come. Be prepared for whatever might be brought to you. Be lovingly prepared.) Then, you can help take steps to make sure you are protecting your home. Below are a few ideas of things we have personally done in our house. Now, I’m not saying that every home needs to go to the levels that we’ve decided on. Every marriage is different and has its own strengths. So, I’m certainly not setting “rules.” If that’s what you pull away from this post, then I fear you’ve lost the whole point of what I’m saying in this whole post. Some of the things my husband and I have done may seem bizarre, but I think we women sometimes don’t understand the mind of a man that it simply just doesn’t make sense to us. But, trust me, every little bit helps. No, there’s nothing you can do about that billboard or that woman walking on the street, but you certainly can do a lot in your own home. Understand that, in order for any plan to work, you and your husband need to be in agreement on it. Just bear in mind that it might take time. Be patient and understanding. These are simply ideas and are some of the things we’ve personally done:

~ Put your main computer (or all computers) in a centralized location in the house, with the screen facing out.

~ Have a password on the computer that only you know.

~ Get rid of cable.

~ If magazines get sent to your house, rip out and shred the underwear/lingerie pages.

~ Go through your cds and remove the cd covers that portray immodest artists.

~ Go through your dvds. Any of them have nudity or even mild sex scenes? Toss them out; break them! They’re not worth keeping.

~ Put accountability software on your computer that sends every viewed site to your or his accountability friend’s email. A great one is “Covenant Eyes.”

~ Change your cell phones/cell phone plans to ones that have little to no internet access. That might mean changing carriers or going back to the good ole, stone-age flip phones. It’s okay; there was a time when our phones never had internet, and we survived.

~ If you’re married, attempt to be regularly intimate with your husband. Please please don’t take this the wrong way. In no way am I implying that it’s our (the wives’) fault that our husbands struggle. But, we can help decrease that battle by making sure we are allowing ourselves to be regularly intimate with him so that he is not feeling deprived. (Yes, I do know that the husband also needs to make sure he is showing love to his wife; otherwise, she won’t desire that intimacy. But, that is a topic for another day.) Unfortunately, pornography sometimes has a way of damaging a man’s desire toward his wife, so that’s why I say to try.

~ Be honest with your man about how his struggle makes you feel. Make sure you reveal your feelings in a loving way, even if through tears.

~ Pray, pray, pray and pray some more.

Before you go on to write a defensive response about how this destructive sin makes the wife feel, I know. Like I said before, I do know. Trust me. I know how it feels. So, I promise I will write a follow-up post to the men, describing and explaining how these sins make us women feel and how much it hurts. Sometimes, simply hearing our feelings can be helpful enough. But, for now, I just wanted to plead with my fellow sisters in Christ to be gracious and understanding of the battles our men face. Our men love us so dearly and want to protect us, but sometimes we have to be the knights in shining armor. You can’t do it alone. You need God’s help, but between the three of you, the battle can be won.
*I don’t try to pretend I know everything, so please don’t take this post as a self-righteous writing. This is just something that has been heavy on my heart and something that I’ve prayed over and have felt God’s prodding to write.*
-Photos taken by Virginia Mlinek Photography

Perspectives

In the past week or so, I’ve had a couple perspective changes about various things, and I owe a lot of that simply to God changing my heart. One of those was my perspective on homeless people. A while back, two women from our Bible study group started getting heavily involved in ministering to the homeless. They’ve been blogging about their journey, and you can read about it here. Reading their blog and listening to them talk about homelessness has been so eye-opening. I’ll never forget something one of the girls said. It’s stuck with me ever since she said it, and because of that, it’s caused me to change my perspective about homeless people. While talking to a large group of us, she said, “I want to encourage you to not allow yourselves to fall into the rut of stereotypes. Don’t just assume that every homeless person is a drug addict or squanders every penny handed to them. There are so many good people who are homeless simply because they lost their job and the bad economy has landed them in a homeless shelter. Not every homeless person is okay with their situation. They’re people too. They have so many needs, but because of stereotypes, their needs are hardly ever met.”

I’ll admit that I grew up with that mentality. If we saw a homeless person, we turned the other way. To make ourselves feel better, we’d say, “Well, they probably would just use the money to buy drugs and alcohol.” That mentality continued on with me until the ladies in our group started getting involved with homelessness. There is an old man who sits by the road leading out of the grocery store by my house. He’s there nearly every day, holding a sign that says “homeless.”  The first time I remember seeing him was before Thanksgiving. But, because of my stereotypical thinking, I always drove past him, all the while reassuring myself of my reasons for not stopping. No matter how much I “reassured” myself though, I always felt guilty. I automatically put him in the drug addict category, but I didn’t know his true story. I never talked to him to find out. I never took that time. That is, until my trip to the grocery story a few days ago.


As I was driving out of the parking lot, I saw him there again. Immediately, the words of that women came to my mind . . . Not every homeless person is a drug addict. They have so many needs. I looked down at the cash from my grocery change. Suddenly, I found myself pulling over and flicking on my 4-ways. I grabbed the little bit of cash I had and quickly stepped out of the car. Because my son was in the car, I didn’t have time to chat with the man, but the brief moment I had with him was an experience in of itself. I don’t think he even saw me pull over, because his head was still hung low as I approached him. (I severely hate rejection, and I wonder how many times these people are rejected every single day. Yet, they still approach each day with the hope that just ONE person might care. Just a thought.)

I’ll admit I was nervous. This was my first time ever lifting my hand to help a homeless person. I didn’t know what to expect, but what I got was far from what I ever thought. The old man lifted his head, and despondency turned into pure joy. Like a child about to receive an amazing gift, he excitedly clammered to his feet and rushed over to me. At that point, he didn’t know if I had money or not. He was just so happy that someone had actually stopped! His eyes were so big in amazement, and in that instant, I wished I had more money to give him. When he saw the money, he gasped. The bills in my hand suddenly felt so measly, but to that man, I was carrying a gold mine. I apologized for not having more money to give him and explained why I couldn’t stay to chat. He just continued to smile and pulled me into a fierce hug while saying, “Thank you so much, miss. You’re an angel!”

I didn’t know what to say, so I smiled and turned to go. As I drove back onto the road, my heart swelled. For the first time, I didn’t feel guilty or wonder what he was going to do with that money. I didn’t care! His smile and genuine gratefulness charged me to my inner core. I felt so blessed by that brief contact with that man. My perspective of homelessness was radically affected by moment.


You might be reading this with a closed mind and thinking that it’s not going to change your idea of what homeless people do with money you give them. If that’s the case, let me ask you a question . . . Have you ever received a gift from someone, that didn’t exactly fit your personality or you had no use for, so you re-gifted it or it just sat somewhere untouched? I know I have. That’s the same thing! If we were always afraid of what a person might do with a gift we give them, we’d never give people gifts/presents! Don’t let what that homeless person “might do with the money” keep you from doing what is Biblically and morally right. The Bible tells us multiple times to take care of people in need. Homeless people are definitely people in need! You don’t necessarily have to give them money. You can give them food, gift cards, clothes, etc. The donations are limitless. If they deny what you offer, then you have done your part. You have offered help. Whether or not they accept that is their choice. What they do with your donation is their choice. At the end of the day, you’ll know you’ve been a huge blessing to someone, and most likely, they will in turn be a blessing to you! Give it a try and see how much it can radically affect your heart and mind. 

Finding Purpose in the Pain

I shared in my last post about my husband and I finding out that we lost our second baby, when I went in for an OB checkup around 17 weeks. The events since that moment were incredibly painful, not just physically, but emotionally as well. Our lives will never be the same, and there will always be a deep, hurting love in our hearts for the son we’ll never get to hug and kiss and watch grow up. But, we can rest in knowing that our little Andrew is in the Lord’s hands now, and he will never have to experience the pains and evils of this world. I couldn’t ask for anything better for our child.

Though I know Andrew is in heaven and that he’s so much better off than we are on this earth, my heart still aches for him and wonders why God took him. For days, I kept asking God why. Why did He take Andrew when He did? If he was going to die, why didn’t He take him sooner? Why right then? When I was finally willing to sit back and listen to God, I feel like He gave me a little insight into His purpose for Andrew’s short life.

We had picked out the boy name, Andrew Joseph, long before we even knew I was carrying a son. My husband and I both loved the names and the meanings behind the names. Andrew means “strong, courageous” and is often associated with the phrase, “fisher of men.” Joseph means “God/Jehovah will increase.” After I went through the emotional and painful process of giving birth to our son, there was no question as to what we’d name him. We didn’t want to pick out a different name just because he wasn’t alive anymore. We wanted to give him the exact name we had picked out just for him. The correlation of Andrew’s name and the purpose behind God taking him didn’t come to me till several days of asking God why.

The doctor who confirmed Andrew’s death said that he probably died around 16 weeks. After giving birth to his little body, Evan and I were able to hold him. I was amazed at how completely formed his body was. He had fingers and toes. He had a bellybutton. He had a nose, mouth, eyes, ears. He had everything. We could even tell that he had my nose and the rest of his daddy’s features. It was apparent that he would have grown to look exactly like his older brother.

Did you know that in some states of the US, abortion is considered legal up to 24 weeks, and in others up to 20 weeks? In most states, it’s considered legal up to 14 weeks. Our Andrew was only two weeks ahead of that, and he was completely formed! I’ve always been very pro-life, and after seeing our son’s tiny 4 1/2 inch body, I’ve become even more passionate about it. I think I now know God’s purpose for Andrew’s short life on earth, and it didn’t end when he died; it’s just begun! Andrew can still be a fisher of men and God will increase greatly through his testimony.

We took pictures of Andrew’s little hands and feet, and those pictures speak beyond words. I hope and pray that the testimony of Andrew’s life will help save many babies (if even only one) and will bring mothers, fathers, and families to Christ. My husband and I recognize that God can greatly use us in this painful experience. I pray that we can adequately fulfill our little Andrew’s calling. We have found purpose through the pain.


“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
“You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am
fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

 

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!'” (Isaiah 52:7)
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