Because I Knew You…

To my sweet baby in Heaven,

It’s been more than two years since we lost you. We said goodbye just two days after we said hello. Had I waited to take a pregnancy test, I probably would have never even realized that the blood that flowed was shed for you.

But God, in his kindness, prompted me to buy a test at Target that day in May. And in his sovereignty, I ditched my plan to surprise your dad with the news and just told him as soon as he walked in the door. (I’ve never been very good at surprises.) And in his goodness, he let us know you and love you for 48 sweet hours.

I’m so glad he did.

Your daddy and I love going to musicals together. One of our favorites over the years has been Wicked. There’s a line from a song towards the end that gets me every time….

“Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”

Oh, sweet baby of mine. I am so thankful for the privilege of knowing you. In your short life, you made me a better mother, friend, and person. Because I knew you, I truly have been changed for good!

Knowing you made me grow in my knowledge of God. As I drew near to him, he was faithful to make himself known to me. I came to intimately know his comfort, healing, and hope, and it made me love him all the more.

Knowing you has helped me understand grief. Grief isn’t linear. It ebbs and it flows. I remember waking up one morning a few months after my miscarriage and realizing that I hadn’t thought of you the day before. I wept as I realized that the world–my world–kept turning without you in it. But I also rejoiced in how God was slowly, carefully mending my heart.

Knowing you has taught me how to walk with friends who are grieving. I have learned how to better care for my sisters walking through the valley by serving them and gently pointing them back to the unchanging, unwavering, unending love of God. My sympathy has turned to empathy, and I am grateful.

Knowing you has taught me to trust in God’s sovereignty over all things. Just before I started miscarrying, your daddy and I were watching a special on the Duggar family. It wasn’t something we would normally watch, but God knew it was just what we needed that day. As the family mourned the loss of their own baby, Jubilee, Jim Bob prayed, “Lord, you give and you take away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” Literally moments later, your daddy prayed that same prayer as we pleaded with God to save you.

In the same breath that God gave you, he took you. In an instant, we were faced with a difficult question—could we trust him? At face value, it seemed like a cruel joke. Why would he let us know you if he was just going to rip you away? But we knew our God, and we knew that he is the antithesis of cruel. He is rich in mercy and abounding in steadfast love.

Death is a tragic reality of our broken, fallen world. But Christ conquered death so that you and I could spend eternity with him. The answer to the question, then, was and is a resounding, “Yes!” We can trust him completely with your life and ours.

Knowing you has given me hope. Two verses deeply ministered to me as we grieved your death.

“For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.” – Psalm 71:5-6

This Psalm reminded me that you leaned upon the Lord even before your birth. And when he took you from the warmth of my womb, you continued to praise him! Your hope in the LORD encouraged me in my own faith, dear child. It was contagious!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” – 1 Peter 1:3-5

The phrase “born again to a living hope” was my anthem after our miscarriage. These words had two very special meanings to me: I firmly believed that you were born again to a living hope in Heaven, and the living hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ gave me the strength to face each day with confidence.

Knowing you has made me long for heaven. Its not just because I believe I’ll see you there, though I so look forward to that day! You, little one, make me think on Heaven. And when I dwell on being with God for eternity, I can’t help but yearn to be there with you and all the saints, giving glory to our great God together.

Knowing you, my child, has been one of the greatest joys of my journey here on Earth. Thank you for proclaiming Christ to me and to others in your life and death. God has used you to change my life for good.

Until we meet again,

Mama


Resources for our sisters walking through pregnancy and infant loss…

Books

Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the Womb by Jessalyn Hutto {A friend gave me this book after I miscarried, and it was a huge encouragement}

Hope When it Hurts: Biblical reflections to help you you grasp God’s purpose in your suffering by Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton

Holding On to Hope: A Pathway through Suffering to the Heart of God by Nancy Guthrie

 

“There is hope for the woman who has miscarried since a baby was given to her more than 2,000 years ago. He lived for her, he died for her, and he will return for her.”

-Jessalyn Hutto, The Baby Given to Women Who Miscarry

 

Articles

Letter to a Parent Grieving the Loss of a Child by John Piper for Desiring God

Embracing the Grief of Miscarriage by Kelly Needham for True Women

5 Things God is Teaching Us Through Miscarriage by Abbey Wedgeworth for The Gospel Coalition

The Baby Given to Women Who Miscarry by Jessalyn Hutto

How Miscarriage Led to My Crisis of Faith by Trillia Newbell for Christianity Today

Help After Miscarriage: Be Pro-Life by Courtney Reissig {This one is especially helpful for women who want to support their sisters in Christ through miscarriage}

 

“Your son is not lifeless. He simply skipped earth. For now. But in the new heavens and the new earth, he will know the best of earth and all the joys earth can give without any of its sorrows.”

– John Piper, Letter to a Parent Grieving the Loss of a Child

 

Podcasts

Risen Motherhood Ep. 23 – Hope After Miscarriage: Two Moms Share Their Stories of Loss & Healing 

Risen Motherhood Ep.39 – Infertility, Miscarriage, and Motherhood with Courtney Reissig

Revive Our Hearts Podcast Series When a Heartbeat Goes Silent with Mark and Sarah Vroegop

 

“God comforts me by reminding me of who he is. He is my God. He is my personal, intimate, fatherly God. He is with me. I am not alone in my fear. And because he is with me, I need not be dismayed. He will strengthen me, he will help me, and he upholds me. I can receive his care and believe because he is God.”

-Trillia Newbell, How Miscarriage Led to My Crisis of Faith

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A Prayer for My Three (White) Sons

Heavenly Father,

You are the Creator of the universe and the Giver of life. You have fearfully, wonderfully, and intentionally made each and every one of us. Before the foundations of the world, you called out a people for yourself–a spectacular rainbow of men and women from different tribes and tongues and cultures who profess you as their King!

In your sovereign plan, you chose for my sons to be born into a twenty-first century American white suburban family. I often watch the news and wonder why my sons were born into such privilege while other young men are born into such hardship. But your ways are better than ours, and I know that we can trust you.

Lord, first and foremost, I pray that you will save my sons. Sin knows no partiality. Privilege does not guarantee their salvation–it is only by your grace that they might be saved through faith.

May they love you with all their might and seek to honor you in all their ways. Give them a hunger for your word. Let it penetrate their souls and equip them for every good work.

Give them hearts that beat for you and for others. Help them to love fiercely and serve joyfully. Raise them up to be bold ambassadors for Jesus Christ.

Father, I pray that they will stand, sit, march, and kneel with the marginalized. Grant them empathy and compassion. Let them be slow to speak and quick to listen. Give them courage to speak up for the voiceless, the poor, and the destitute.

Keep my sons from evil. Kill any hint of hatred that resides in their hearts. Guard them from self-righteousness. Have mercy on them, and do not let them inherit the sins of their father and mother.

Lord, let them see the world in splendid color and rejoice in your grand design! Open their eyes to behold the beauty of the cross–the only place where boys of white privilege and black oppression can both come on equal footing and receive grace upon grace.

Help me, Father, to raise (white) men of noble character.

In the name of Jesus, our Redeemer and Friend,

Amen.

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My Bucket List

In March, I decided to start a #30before30 bucket list. I asked friends and family for ideas and pieced together a list of thirty goals to accomplish in the next six months. Here’s the list in all her glory:

1. Read the Harry Potter series
2. Take a bubble bath
3. Color a page to completion
4. Go horseback riding
5. Write a worship song 
6. Watch the BBC version of “Pride and Prejudice”
7. Submit a guest post to a Christian blog
8. Make a Shutterfly album
9. Moisturize my elbows
10. Go to Tom + Chee
11. Reupholster our dining room chairs
12. Do a Paint Nite
13. Keep a prayer journal
14. Learn how to do a new braid
15. Make 30 blessing meals for families or individuals
16. Go swimming with my kids
17. Learn how to prune bushes
18. Paint our bedroom
19. See Hamilton
20. Take an overnight trip with Dan
21. Invest in friendships
22. Hang out with all four of my sisters just for fun
23. Read a biography
24. High tea
25. Church scripture memory
26. Get a massage
27. Sit in a hot tub
28. Teach Duke a trick
29. Go to Northwestern
30. Create a will

Today, is the big 3-0, and I am pleased to tell you that I failed my #30before30 challenge. It’s what I now affectionately refer to as my #13before30.

Six months ago, I would have been sad had future Chelsea told me that I wouldn’t complete it. But today, I’m content.

Shock in the Night

I drafted this list in March, and a month later, my life flashed before my eyes when I went into anaphylactic shock in the dark hours of the night.

The morning after my incident, I had a greater sense of urgency. But it wasn’t directed toward the bucket list, it was pointed straight at my heart.

I suddenly became acutely aware that God is the one breathing life into me each morning and that my life is not my own. The “bucket list” isn’t mine to make. It’s his.

A Bucket List of Two

My bucket list changed that day from thirty to two:

1. Love God and seek his face.

Before my episode, I was a sporadic Bible reader at best. With three little ones, I convinced myself that I never had the time.

But thanks be to God for revealing my need for him and his word! Today, I wake up like David and say,  “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalm 17:15).

I now realize that things of this world will never satisfy me like Christ. They can offer temporary joy, but he alone gives me abundant life (John 10:10).

2. Love others by pointing them to Jesus.

If you’ve been around here long, you may have noticed an uptick in my writing beginning in April. Before then, I was lucky to write something every few months.

Yes, #7 on the list was “submit a guest post to a blog,” but can I tell you what really happened? As I beheld the face of Jesus through God’s word, I couldn’t keep silent!

As scripture says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). My heart overflowed with words about Jesus, and I had to write them down. I wanted to tell everyone about this man who lived and died and rose so that we–yes, you and me!–could be in right relationship with God.

I did the work of submitting an article to Desiring God and building a website and developing a social media presence, but it was GOD who did the work in me, friends. What you see on the screen is truly a testament to the transforming work of Jesus Christ in my life.

For Jesus’ Sake

Today, I’ll check #10, 20, 21, and 27 off the list because it’s good to have goals and dreams and fun! But at the end of the day, those things won’t matter.

What will matter is if I’ve loved God and others well. If I reach the end of my life and can check those two goals off my list, then I will die happy. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in my heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. I proclaim not myself but Jesus Christ as Lord, with myself as your servant for Jesus’ sake (2 Corinthians 4:5-6).

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons from The “Other” Proverbs 31 Woman {PLUS my guest post at Desiring God}

Today, I’m honored to be over at Desiring God talking about six ways for moms to redeem playdates. If you’re visiting from Desiring God, welcome!

As a mom of three little boys, playdates are part of our regular rhythm of life. My kids love playing with their friends, and I should love fellowshipping with other Christian moms, right? But to be honest, playdates often leave me discouraged. I go into a date longing for Christian community, but walk out feeling like it was no different from time spent with non-believing friends.

I recently shared my feelings with a few other moms (ironically at a playdate), and I was surprised to learn that they feel the same way. How is it that we — a group of moms who love Jesus — can gather for two hours and talk about nothing more than diapers and diets?

We decided then and there that it’s time for our playdates to be seasoned with the gospel. How do we practically achieve that? Well, you’ll have to pop on over to Desiring God to find out 😉

In the meantime, let’s talk about…

The “Other” Proverbs 31 Woman

I was born and bred in the church, so I know the Proverbs 31 woman pretty intimately. You may too. She’s everywhere. Our church even has one of those Hobby Lobby “She is clothed in strength and dignity” canvases hanging in the women’s bathroom!

But until recently, I had never noticed the other Proverbs 31 woman. What about you?

Proverbs 31 begins…

The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:

Proverbs 31:1

Who is the “other” Proverbs 31 woman? King Lemuel’s mother. And let me tell you, sister, this woman is fierce. 

It’s no wonder that God saw fit to preserve her counsel in his holy word so that future generations might benefit from it. We can learn so much from what she says and how she says it! Trust me, after reading this passage, you’re going to want to hang her words in your own bathroom.

The Mother of Wisdom

The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him. What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows?

Proverbs 31: 1-2

Before she even opens her mouth to impart wisdom on her son, the king’s mother is already teaching us something.

God could have easily chosen to leave verse one out of the Bible. We’d hear the oracle that follows with or without it. But he specifically chose to tell us that his mother taught him, so it must be an important detail.

Many commentators believe that King Lemuel is likely King Solomon. Lemuel means “devoted to God” and is thought to be a name of affection given to Solomon by his mother, Bathsheba.

If we assume that King Lemuel is, in fact, King Solomon, then it follows that God chose to give Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, at least part of his wisdom through his mom.

Moms, hear me (and this goes for you too, spiritual moms). God has chosen you to speak wisdom into your children. God is using you and your words to mold their little hearts. We don’t know what the future holds for our kids–they may be kings or pastors or accountants or parents themselves– but we do know that we are training up a whole new generation of people to follow and glorify God. And that, my friends, is a high calling!

Mother Knows Best

Imagine knowing that people’s lives would literally depend on the decisions your child made each day. What kind of wisdom would you want to impart on your son or daughter?

King Lemuel’s mother offers two pieces of sage, Godly advice.

1. Don’t squander what God has given you.

Before she offers any wisdom, the king’s mother addresses her son with tender affection and appeals to the inherent bond they share when she calls him “my son” and then “son of my womb.” She reminds him that she knows him intimately–his strengths and his weaknesses.

Do not give your strength to women,
your ways to those who destroy kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
it is not for kings to drink wine,
or for rulers to take strong drink,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed
and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.

Proverbs 31:3-5

Because she is his mother, she knows that he will be tempted towards lust and drunkenness and warns him against falling into those traps.

As king, he had been entrusted with God’s law and his people. When he took the throne, he actually had to write his own copy of the Law so that it would be engraved on his heart as he governed God’s people. (Deuteronomy 17:18-19) His mother knows that these vices will make him temporarily forget God’s word and impair his judgment, so she lovingly warns him not to throw away the tremendous gift God has given him.

Because we are also royalty through Jesus Christ (2 Peter 2:9), God has graciously entrusted us with his word and his people as well (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13).

Like King Lemuel, we have been given an extraordinary gift–the free gift of salvation!–and we are to flee from anything that will make us forget the gospel and “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” so that we can “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) God calls us to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

Sister, run to Jesus each and every day. Spend time in his word. Bathe in it. Meditate on who he is and what he has done for you. Pray that your hearts would beat as one. Don’t squander the good gift you have been given.

2. Speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:8-9

The king’s mother doesn’t tell him to stand up for his own rights, but instead urges him to stand up for the rights of those who are poor and needy.

We live in a culture that tells us to fight for our rights. “I deserve it” is the anthem of our generation. But as Christians, we are called to lay down our rights and look to the interests of others. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,” Paul writes, “but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Jesus offered us the perfect example of this when he laid down his life for us. He didn’t deserve to die a humiliating, painful death, but instead “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”(Philippians 2:6-8)

When you are tempted to take up your own cause, look to Jesus and take up his. Jesus loves people, and he holds a special place in his heart for those who are poor and needy. We honor him when we lay down our own rights and fight for theirs instead.

What does this look like for us today?

Think about the circle of influence God has given you. Who in your circle needs you to speak up on their behalf?

  • Are you teaching your children to embrace God’s good design of diversity and to speak up for their friends who may be treated badly because of their skin color, social status, or disability?
  • Are you speaking up when you see others fall victim to racism, bigotry, or hate?
  • Does God want you to be an advocate for an elderly parent or widow?
  • Have you considered being a foster parent to children in your community who need love and protection?
  • Can you spend some time volunteering at your local pregnancy center and give voice to the most vulnerable among us–the unborn?

Take some time to prayerfully consider how you might “open your mouth” for those in need.

A Hidden Gem in Plain Sight

The words of the “other” Proverbs 31 woman may not ever be on a Hobby Lobby canvas, but I pray that they will be engraved on all our hearts–reminding us to flee from sin, remember the gospel, and yield our influence for good.

I thank God for sharing the wisdom of King Lemuel’s mother with us. This passage is a hidden gem in plain sight, spurring me on to become more Christlike in heart and action. God has used these verses to challenge and expand my ideas of what it means to be a “Proverbs 31 woman,” and I pray that he’s done the same for you.

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Thankful for the following sources…

Gill, John. “Commentary on Proverbs 31:4“. “The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible”. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-31.html. 1999.

 

 

 

Be Strong and Very Courageous

This past week was tough, friends. I had to do some big, scary things.

When I told my four-year old that I was afraid, he took my cheeks in his little hands and said, “Mom, God is with you.” We had just read the story of Joshua, and he was referring to those liberating words…

Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

Coincidentally, I spent a lot of time on the go this week. I wrote this little poem at the airport as I fought to keep my eyes fixed on Christ. I pray it might encourage you as you fight the good fight today.

Be Strong and Very Courageous

I’m off to fight the battle.
I march across the field.
A warrior on a mission
To love, my flesh to yield.

The enemy awaits me.
He taunts me from afar,
Hurling lies like hand grenades.
Soldier, this is war.

My heart, it pounds inside me.
My thoughts, they start to race.
He’s clever, big, and strong to boot.
He’ll laugh right in my face!

“Be strong!” the general shouts aloud.
“Take courage! Have no fear!
This battle is not yours, it’s mine!
I’m with you. I am here.”

“His stature may be daunting,
But over him, I tower.
He may have swords and bows and guns,
But in my name is power.

I’ll arm you with a belt of truth,
This sword will make you ready,
This shield of faith will block the blows,
These shoes will keep you steady.

A righteous breastplate given by
The King who reigns above.
A helmet of salvation
Guards your head with love.”

“Be strong and very courageous!”
I hear him cry once more.
“Wait! You’ll find your strength renewed.
On eagles’ wings you’ll soar.”

“Fix your eyes upon the Son.
Think on all that he has done–
All the dragons he has slayed,
The battles he has won.

Engrave his words upon your heart,
And follow his commands.
Keep them close, you’ll find success.
Hold them in your hands.

His words give life and health and peace.
They counsel and they test.
In the trenches, think on them,
And you will find true rest.”

“Be strong!” He bellows from the front.
“Take courage! Don’t give in.
Have faith, the victory is ours.
Soldier, we will win!”

“The battle that is waging
Is coming to an end.
Until that time, gird up your loins!
Stand firm, and do not bend.

With just one blow, I’ll end the war,
And bring eternal ruin
To the one who dared to challenge me.
The time is coming soon…

When pain and tears will be no more,
When death and war will cease.
A time when truth and love will reign
In the perfect Prince of Peace.

Until that day, keep marching.
Keep marching toward the Light.
Be strong and very courageous.
I am with you in the fight.”

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The Best Bronzer Money Can’t Buy {PLUS my guest post at (in)courage!}

Do you ever look in the mirror and pine for the days when you had less lumps, wrinkles, or grey hairs?

Me too, friend. Daily.

Today, I’m over at (in)courage #keepinitreal about the struggles I’ve had with my own changing body and sharing how God is teaching me to be thankful (yes, thankful!) for all that these changes represent. If you’re visiting from (in)courage, welcome!

I’ve been getting daily encouragement from (in)courage for some time now, and I’m so excited to be the one offering some encouragement to my sweet sisters today! Sign up here to receive daily notes from (in)courage, sent right to your inbox!

While We’re on the Topic of Beauty…

Guess what I did this weekend? I went to Ulta for a whole hour without kids! Such a treat.

As I was scouring the shelf for the bronzer I needed, I couldn’t help but smile as I remembered a recent conversation with a dear friend. I had just read Psalm 34:5 which says “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed,” and I told her that when I read that verse, HER face came to mind. She is one of those women that just glows with the love of Jesus!

She graciously accepted the compliment and then laughed. “Ya know, I have been admiring this one woman at church from afar because she has this amazing glow about her,” she said. “I’ve been thinking I have to ask her what bronzer she uses, but now I’m realizing, I think she is just radiant in the LORD!”

Radiance in the Lord, friends. The best bronzer that money can’t buy.

Seeking God’s Face

There’s a story in the Bible where Moses met with God on top of Mount Sinai. When he came down from the mountain top, the Bible says “Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.” (Exodus 34:29)

Moses’ face was literally glowing because he had just beheld the glory of the Lord. While we might not physically glow from meeting with God, he does promise that those who look to him will be radiant.

God’s word says that “God is light and in him there is not darkness.” (1 John 1:5) When we look to him, he brightens and uplifts our souls. As we gaze upon him–remembering who he is and all that he’s done for us in Christ–his face shines upon us like the sun kissing our cheeks on a warm summer day.

The Glory of God Made Manifest

Jesus Christ is the glory of God made manifest in human form. As Christians, God has “shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Let’s take a moment to behold God’s glory in the face of Jesus, shall we?

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-6)

Jesus is good and kind. He is our gracious and merciful savior. He has redeemed us, transformed us, and made us heirs to an incredible inheritance.

Doesn’t that warm your heart? It makes me want to bow down and say, “Thank you, dear Jesus!” What about you?

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

As we bask in the light of his glory, we grow less concerned with the worries of this world and more infatuated with him.

The weary-eyed woman looks to Christ and finds rest. (Matthew 11:28-30)

The woman whose eyes are heavy with shame lifts her eyes to Christ and finds forgiveness. (1 John 1:9)

The woman with anxious eyes fixes them on Christ and finds peace. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Looking to Jesus doesn’t magically make our struggles disappear, but it does make us see them rightly in the light of his glory.

As the old hymn says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will go strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

Be Radiant

Sister, as you go about the good work God has given you to do today, make sure you take the time to look to him. Read his word, meditate on the gospel, and let his face shine upon you.

May you be the woman of whom others say, “I wonder what kind of bronzer she uses.” And may your response simply be, “It’s not bronzer, friend. I’m just looking to the Lord.”

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When the Weight of Sin is Just Too Big For You

Our little John has been struggling ever since we made him say goodbye to his beloved “paci.”

We often find him huddled in a ball of shame underneath the dining room table, sucking quietly away on a pacifier he swiped from his baby brother.

Then, not too long ago, he looked up at me with his baby blue eyes, handed me his pacifier, and said, “Hold this? It’s too big for me.”

My first inclination was that he had adorably misspoke and meant “I’m too big for it.”

But upon further reflection, I think he said exactly what he meant to say. The pacifier–and the temptation and shame that came along with it–had become too big for him, and he knew the only way he’d be at peace was if his mommy held it for him.

Pacifiers of the Soul

We all have our own pacifiers–the sins we secretly savor and want to hold on to.

At that moment, it was as if God was tenderly looking down at me, asking, “What pacifiers are you holding onto, Chelsea? It’s time you hand them over.”

For me, it’s entitlement. I feel like I deserve to be acknowledged for my work, to be treated better by others, and to have time to myself whenever I desire it. What about you?

Whatever it is, when sin and shame weigh heavy on us, we have two options: 1) we can choose to stay hidden under the table or 2) we can come out from under the table and hand it over.

In Psalm 38, David wisely chose to hand over his own pacifier to God. Overwhelmed by his sin, he cried out to God, “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.” (Psalm 38:4)

How did he go about unloading this heavy burden? The rest of Psalm 38 lays out exactly how he turned over his sin to God: by bowing down, confessing his sin, and asking for help.

When the weight of sin is too big for you, bow down before God.

I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all the day I go about mourning. (Psalm 38:6)

People from all different nations bowed down to David, the great king of Israel. In Psalm 18 we read, “You made me the head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me. As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me; foreigners came cringing to me.” (Psalm 18:43-44)

David knew what it meant to bow down. It meant that he was humbling himself–submitting himself–to a higher authority. In this case, God.

Notice he didn’t just sort of bow down either. He says he is “utterly bowed down and prostrate.” He humbled himself completely before his king.

When your sin is too heavy for you to carry, bow down completely before God and acknowledge him as your king. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God,” Peter writes, “so that at the proper time, he might exalt you.” (1 Peter 5:6)

When the weight of sin is too big for you, confess it.

I confess my iniquity;
I am sorry for my sin. (Psalm 38:18)

When we lay ourselves down at the feet of Jesus, we can’t help but recognize how undeserving we are of God’s grace and mercy, and confession naturally will follow.

Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, we may feel inclined to hide our sin out of shame and fear, but we need not fear the wrath of our great King Jesus. If we are in Christ, we know that he already bore God’s wrath for us on the cross. And because of this great act of love, he “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Yes, all unrighteousness. No sin is too great for God. David was an adulterer and a murderer, and yet God still forgave him. “As far as the east is from the west,” David writes, “so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

When your sin is too heavy for you to carry, bow down and confess it to Jesus, our good and faithful king.

When the weight of sin is too big for you, ask for help.

Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation! (Psalm 38:22)

We can’t just unload our sins on God and move on. Repentance involves two steps: turning away from sin and turning towards Christ.

John Piper defines repentance as “experiencing a change of mind that now sees God as true and beautiful and worthy of all our praise and all our obedience.”

We can’t change our minds in our own strength, though. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to renew our minds and transform our hearts, so we must ask him for help. After all, the Father gave us the Holy Spirit to teach us all things and to remind us of all that Jesus said. (John 14:26)

How does the Holy Spirit go about the work of teaching and reminding us? Mainly through the word of God.

God strengthens us through his word. As we read it, we learn more about who he is and what he’s done for us.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

When I am feeling entitled, God’s word reminds me that the only wage I deserve is death, but that instead, God has graciously given me eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

When I am harsh with my children, the Bible tells me that “a soft answer turns away wrath.” (Proverbs 15:1)

When I am sinfully basing my identity on social media likes and comments, the Holy Spirit reminds me of who I am in Christ–chosen by God. (John 15:16)

God is waiting to help you, friend. If your sin is too heavy for you, be like David and ask for help.

Coming Out from Underneath the Table

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30)

You don’t have to carry the weight of sin in your heart, dear sister. Come out from underneath the table, bow down, confess, and ask our good God for help. Let the Spirit search your heart today and give you the courage to hand over the pacifiers of your soul to the one who saved it for himself.

His yoke is easy, and his burden is light. Like a mother with her child, your Heavenly Father is eager to give you rest.

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Strength for the Weary Mom

Not too long ago, a friend sent out an S.O.S. on Facebook that went something like this…

“My hubby and I are wondering what the reward is if we make it through this stage of our child’s life alive. #twoishard #weareexhausted.”

The commenters fell into two camps:

  1. The “I’m right there with ya, girlfriend” mamas who affirmed the weariness she described and relayed their best terrible twos stories.
  2. The “I’ve been there, girlfriend” mamas who affirmed the weariness she described and encouraged her to slow down and treasure these fleeting moments.

Not gonna lie…sometimes I wanna punch those “slow down” mamas in the face. Don’t they realize just how HARD this is?

Ironically, today I’m the one over at Desiring God encouraging weary mamas to slow down.

*Gasp*

Please resist the urge to punch me in the face.

I’m an official card-carrying member of the weary mom club. I know you’re weary. I feel your pain. “I’m right there with ya, girlfriend.”

And because I’m right there with you, I also know firsthand that we can’t slow down in our own strength because we are weak, feeble people. The only way we can offer our children glimpses of God’s comforting love is through his strength, not our own.

How does God strengthen weary moms?

Today, we’ll look at three means of grace God uses to strengthen us: the gospel, his word, and community. Each one a precious gift for the weary mom.

God will strengthen the weary mom through the gospel.

The gospel is the “power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16)

God so loved you, weary mom, that he gave his only son to die for you. 

But he didn’t stop there. The Bible says that if you are in Christ, this same power is presently at work within you. (Romans 1:16)

Let that sink in.

While you may feel weak and weary, the very power of God is at work within you.

Jesus is no stranger to weariness. Imagine the utter exhaustion he must have endured during his time on earth–caring for hundreds of thousands of souls, suffering at the hands of sinners, faithfully carrying out his father’s will.

He understands our weariness, and he died so that we might be free from it. “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden” Jesus calls to us, “and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

When we consider Christ–when we come to him and really consider all that he is and all that he has done–we can’t help but find rest.

“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” – Hebrews 12:3

As we remember the power of the gospel, the worries of the day don’t disappear, but they lose their power over us. Yes, my boys may be fighting over the blue light saber for the hundredth time, and yes there may be heaps of laundry and dishes that need my attention, but that all suddenly shrinks down to size when I consider the magnitude of the gospel.

Plus, the gospel allows me to handle those situations and tasks with love and grace.

The gospel says I can love my kids when they’re downright unlovable because Christ loved me first. (1 John 4:19)

The gospel tells me that I need not grow weary in disciplining them because I know that I will reap an eternal reward. (Galatians 6:9)

The gospel says that I can, indeed, sing “Jesus Loves Me” over and over and over again when my son is scared because that same Jesus I sing of loves me and bears with me when I am the one who is afraid. (Psalm 18:6)

The gospel is the power of God at work within you, weary mama. Today, when you feel like you’re at your limit, consider Christ and allow him to give you much-needed rest through the power of the gospel.

God will strengthen the weary mom through his word.

Where do we find gospel truths and promises to strengthen our souls? David answers this question for us in Psalm 119.

“Strengthen me according to you word.”

The Bible is full of encouragement and strength for our weary souls. Its pages are overflowing with sweet reminders of God’s faithfulness and unchanging character. We just need to open it.

But that involves time, you may say. And I just don’t have any.

Trust me, sister, when I say that I often feel the same way. It’s hard to make time for God’s word when you’re keeping little people alive. But you know what’s harder? Trying to keep little people alive without it. We need the strength that God’s word offers us, and we have to fight for it.

Keep a bible open on the kitchen counter. Write one verse on a few index cards and lay them around the house. Read a few verses at the kitchen table with your kids. Dare I say it, read a chapter while you’re on the toilet.

You have to make time, mama. These words are too powerful to pass up.

God will strengthen the weary mom through community.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m weary, I’m tempted to go into isolation. Just the thought of play dates or small group meetings or women’s ministry gatherings overwhelms me.

But do a quick search of the word “strengthen” and you’ll quickly see that throughout the Bible, God often uses community to strengthen weary Christians.

Take Jonathan, for example, who God used to strengthen David when he was afraid for his life. The Bible says that Jonathan strengthened David’s “hand in God.” (1 Samuel 23:16) Yes, even the man after God’s own heart needed to be reminded of God’s promises and pointed back to Christ by a friend.

God doesn’t need us to strengthen his people. There’s enough power in his little finger to strengthen all of his children entirely on his own. But how gracious of him to allow us to strengthen and be strengthened by fellow believers!

When you remind another mama that God sees her (Genesis 16:13), God is using you to strengthen her.

When you open your heart up to another mom and she speaks truth in love to you (Ephesians 4:15), God is using her sweet words to strengthen you.

Often times it does take someone else to look at your situation and speak gospel truth into it. By encouraging one another and stirring each other up to love and good works, we are doing the good work of strengthening each other in the Lord. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Take Heart, Weary Mom

If you find yourself at the end of your rope today, weary mom, take heart. Our all-powerful God is eagerly waiting to strengthen you through the gospel, his word, and community.

His power is made perfect in your weakness, so rest in his soul-sustaining grace today. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

My hope is that God will use this little blog to strengthen your soul. Subscribe today so we can stay connected and receive a free copy of my poem, “A Mother’s Offering.”

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Changing Landscapes

Dan and I were able to get away for a quick overnight this past weekend in celebration of our eight-year anniversary. I had been itching to visit my college campus (Go ‘Cats!) for some time, so we opted for a night in Evanston.

It was an odd juxtaposition–so many familiar sights and sounds mixed with lots of new ones.

Coming into town, we didn’t need our navigation system. The streets haven’t changed. We’ve just grown up from Dan’s old Grand Prix to his Ford F150. When we first arrived, we ate sushi at Koi–where I first lost my sushinity back in college. After dinner, we walked the streets and noticed that Dixie Kitchen and Merle’s BBQ had shut their doors. My church had moved down the road. We stopped for ice cream at a fun new frozen custard place, and I enjoyed peeking into the new restaurants and stores that had popped up downtown.

The campus itself blew me away. Outside my dorm, the road where Dan used to wait in his aforementioned Grand Prix had been replaced by a grassy common area where students were sitting on benches doing scholarly things. The view by the lake was almost unrecognizable. I had heard about the new music building, but no one could have prepared me for the scope of this state-of-the-art new construction. The floor-to-ceiling glass structure looked like something out of a George Lucas film. Not to mention the addition of a visitor center and sailing center (not pretentious at all).

As we drove away, I started to cry.

“How could so much possibly change in eight years?” I thought. “And why am I getting so emotional about it?”

And then it hit me.

Eight years.

The same amount of time that Dan and I have been married.

It was poetic, really–this changing campus landscape. Just like the changing landscape of our life together. Our new home now stands where a condo once was. We’ve moved down the road from Lakeview Church to Crossway Community Church. Dan has graduated from an elementary school district to a high school one. We have watched landmarks torn down due to death and brokenness, but we have also watched God create three beautiful skyscrapers–our three beautiful boys.

“For everything there is a season,” it says in Ecclesiastes. “A time for every matter under Heaven…A time to break down, and a time to build up.” (Ecclesiastes 3:3)

It’s comforting to know that God has ordained the changing landscapes of our lives, isn’t it?

The Master Builder has “made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) My life is no different.

I may not be able to see the full landscape now. In fact, there are days when I feel like everything around me is crumbling to the ground. But God’s word assures me that he is strategically laying each brick and mortar to build something magnificent for his glory. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Today, I am thanking God for the growing pains. As much as it pained my heart to see my Alma Mater change, I think I would have been sadder had she stayed the same for eight years. The same goes for my life together with Dan. May our landscape be ever-changing, ever-growing for his glory.

The Best Heart Medicine

For the past several months, I’ve been dealing with some relatively serious health issues. You can read more about it here if you’d like more details, but in a nutshell, I’ve been suffering from acute allergic reactions since November. The cause is still unknown.

Since we don’t know exactly what’s triggering these episodes, my doctor has put me on a pretty strong cocktail of antihistamines in hopes that they’ll help keep me safe while he tries to come up with a diagnosis and a more permanent solution.

Today, I realized that my heart is mirroring my body. There’s something wrong there. Something I can’t diagnose right now.

After my first major allergic reaction, I saw an allergist who sent me home with no more than an epi-pen in hopes that it was “just a fluke.” Needless to say, I sought out a second opinion because I knew that I needed someone who would help keep me safe while we searched for answers. 

In the same way, I want to keep my heart safe as I sort out whatever is going on in there, and I think a hefty dose of God’s life-preserving Word is just what the Great Physician ordered. 

God’s words of eternal life are like the pills I take each morning and evening to ward off sickness. If I am in God’s word, then I am fully armed and protected to face each new day with the belt of truth and the sword of the Spirit.

“If your law had not been my delight,” the psalmist writes, “I would have perished in my affliction.” He continues, “I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.” (Psalm 119:92-93 ESV)

God uses his word to give us life and to sustain it. In times of uncertainty, his word is reliable and true. We can count on him and his word to keep us safe.

Yes, I want a diagnosis, and I’m sure God will be faithful to search me and test my heart. For now, though, I put on my armor and pray, “I have suffered much; give me life, O LORD, according to your word.” (Psalm 119:107 ESV)