The Truth About My Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

The Truth About My Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

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My baby. She was finally here. She was healthy and in my arms…and she was perfect.

We bought a new home only 3 weeks before her arrival. It had way more space than our tiny, one bedroom condo. It was a place to finally call our own. A place where we could paint every wall hot pink if we wanted to because it was ours. There was room to grow. It was perfect.

Everything was perfect…except it wasn’t.

The immediate months following my transition into motherhood were hard. Really hard. I constantly wondered how every other new parent was able to handle it all, while I was slowly crumbling.

The sleep deprivation alone was enough to break any person into a hundred pieces. But there were also the changing hormones, the new dynamic between me and my husband, and the heavy responsibility of being another human being’s everything. And on top of it all, came the constant arguing, the deep anxiety and the paralyzing panic attacks. I felt so sad that I was almost numb. The scenarios I worried about were not only irrational, they were extreme.

It was all balled up together like a bowl of tangled, spaghetti noodles—everything intertwined and knotted. One thing seemed to affect another thing which led to another, and another and another. I couldn’t find the beginning or end. And I could no longer decipher an irrational meltdown from a logical concern. It was all the same. I was tired and empty and felt completely alone.

I resented my husband for not doing more. Not taking the baby more. Not cleaning more. Not helping me more. But when he offered to help, I didn’t even know which of the moving pieces to give him. I was juggling it all and if I handed off the baby, or gave him one task or chore or action, the whole thing would fall apart. It was just easier if I did it. I felt myself getting dangerously worn but I felt too guilty to stop. There was no solution—I either resented him for not helping or I felt gut-wrenchingly guilty for asking for help. I was the mom. I was the one who was supposed to be able to do it all. Right?

But the single working part that I had become starting breaking. One person can only go or do so much before they just…can’t anymore.

And that’s where I found myself. I couldn’t. I barely recognized the woman in the mirror. Even worse, I didn’t like her anymore.

I longed to be a momma my entire life, so needing help felt like I was failing at the one thing that I always aspired to be. Nobody told me it would be this hard. Nobody told me that parenthood would test the endurance of my marriage, challenge my emotional and spiritual condition, and make me question my own self-identity.

I had heard of “baby blues.” What a cute, non-threatening label. I had also heard of “postpartum depression.” That term sounded more medical and serious, but still, I didn’t truly know what it was. I had never even heard of “postpartum anxiety.”

My preconception of postpartum depression led me to believe that it was uncommon, and when a woman did experience it, it was within the first few weeks of having a baby. I was far passed the few weeks mark—my baby was 5 months old—so it had to be something else. Maybe motherhood just wasn’t as natural for me as I thought it would be. Maybe I needed to get away for a while. Maybe my husband and I were growing apart. Maybe I was just losing it.

I wanted to be a mom and I loved my baby and I was healthy and young. I had a new home, a great husband, and beautiful healthy baby. What was there to be depressed about?

Yet, I was suffocating. I hadn’t expressed my feelings to anyone. Not to the degree in which they were exploding inside of me. All my mommy-friends looked like they had their lives together. It seemed as if motherhood was a breeze for them. They were happy and organized…and showered. I was barely functioning.

And after 5 months of feeling inadequate, overwhelmed, anxious and exhausted, I realized it wasn’t getting better. In fact, everything was getting worse.

I wasn’t just tired. I wasn’t just feeling the newness of being a momma. I wasn’t just “in a funk”.

It went deeper. So much deeper.

Finally, I met my breaking point. “I need help. I can’t do this anymore. I’m done. I wasn’t crying for help with the dishes or housework or holding the baby. I needed help with my entire life. My marriage, my mind, my body.

I called my doctor. I called my pastor’s wife. I called my mom. I talked to my husband. I went to a professional counselor. And I began to open up with the moms around me. Just saying those 3 words were freeing in itself—“I need help.”

The moment I began to feel the warmth from the intentional support of others, my hope and clarity began to restore. I had existed in hopelessness and helplessness for so long that hope felt…strange. Strange but wonderful. Like a precious friend you haven’t seen in years—you know them well, yet don’t fully recognize them.

Because there were so many different kinds of issues and struggles going on inside of me—and because new pains had mixed with resurfaced ones—it took everyone on my “team” to help me. My husband, my pastor’s wife, my counselor, my doctor, my momma-friends. Each person helped me in different, vital ways. Each contributed a level of healing.

My doctor and I came up with a 3 week plan. Three weeks of counseling, being intentional with what I was eating, how I was exercising, spending time in the sunshine, allowing myself time to be alone. After the 3 weeks, I would have a follow-up appointment to reassess how I was doing and see if there was any improvement. If there wasn’t much improvement, we would then discuss incorporating medicine. It wasn’t night an overnight “cure” but within the first few days of starting my new routine, I noticed an improvement. I could already breathe easier. Because this was an ongoing process, I remained intentional with my self-care routine and stayed aware of how I was feeling.

My senses felt crisper. I was living again, not just surviving. And it happened because I spoke out.

Postpartum depression and anxiety can vary in appearance from momma to momma. Its heaviness can gradually grow like single grains of sand slowly piling up. Or it can come on very suddenly. There isn’t a definitive list of emotions or symptoms and there isn’t an exact timeframe as to when it can happen. And I think that’s why it can go undetected or ignored for so long.

If you’ve recently had a baby—even within the last year—and you feel overwhelmed, hopeless and completely empty to the point of feeling like you can’t function as a person, I encourage you to speak up for yourself. Talk to a professional. There is no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed. I know that you want to be the absolute best momma to your baby. I know you may feel guilty asking for help or wanting to take time for yourself. But in order to fill up the ones around you, you have to be filled yourself. Caring for yourself—mind, body and spirit—should remain a top priority. I’m not sure why there is still such a stigma around postpartum depression but I can tell you with complete certainty, you are not alone, you are not failing and there is nothing to be ashamed about. I promise you, there is help nearby and things are going to get better.

Something Bigger Is Happening

Something Bigger Is Happening

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I am not an avid news watcher. Hours of death, destruction and hatred—then at the end, throw in a story about a squirrel that can water ski to lighten things up. I’m sorry, but there aren’t enough water skiing rodents in the entire world to lighten the burdens of the evening news. I just can’t do it. But whether or not we actually sit down and watch a news broadcast, the many devices and social platforms we have definitely keep us plugged into worldwide happenings the instant they occur. There’s really no escaping it.

My family and I went to lunch the other day. And about 5 minutes after we sat down, our waitress asked, “Did you hear about the shooting? My sister just called me and said there’s an active shooter near the hospital.” Her next question was, “And what would you like to drink?” And in one of those weird moments where you say something you never thought you’d hear yourself say, I replied, “Oh my goodness, I haven’t heard anything about the shooting…and…umm…I’ll take a Coke…”

My husband got on his phone and sure enough, every local news station was covering the story but very few details were available. We just sat there, unsettled by the fact that there was a shooter loose in our city.

And this story isn’t isolated. My newsfeed and heart have been completely overwhelmed lately with horrendous stories of a pastor’s pregnant wife being murdered in their own home; crowds of innocent people being targeted with bombs; families being driven out of their towns, forced to leave behind everything they know. My mind can’t comprehend the pain, devastation and brokenness that other humans are experiencing at this very moment.

And sometimes, I have a really hard time with it all.

Lord, how does this happen to the innocent? To people who love you? To children? None of it makes sense.

I battle and I pray and still…I just don’t understand. I will never understand. And when all feels like chaos, I desperately cling to the truth that the only place my heart will remain secure is in Jesus. Even when I don’t understand why. Especially when I don’t understand why.

There is something bigger happening here. And I desperately long to perceive it on a deeper level.

In a heartbreaking situation where a man’s wife was brutally attacked then murdered in their own home, his reaction was one of forgiveness…and love. How can a man respond like that to something so hellish?

There’s something bigger happening here.

When bombs went off and the lives of thousands of people were forever changed in the matter of seconds, it would seem that was the end of the story. Yet numerous reports of kindness, selflessness and unity are surfacing from those unlikely moments of devastation.

There’s something bigger happening here.

People who are making their way across foreign lands—who have lost children, parents, and siblings because of the God they worship—refuse to forsake His name. They are struggling to just to stay alive, but will not reject the Savior they serve. He is all that they have. They’ve literally had everything and everyone they love taken away because of their unwavering faith. Yet, they hold steadfast in proclaiming His name.

There’s something bigger happening here.

With all of the fear that surrounds these evil attacks that have been carried out by evil itself, I know that peace—real peace—will come only from my Lord. And when the uncertainty of tomorrow is too heavy to hold, I will meditate on the One who is already there. When nothing can be trusted, I will place my trust in Him.

Because there’s something bigger happening here.

The continual existence of evil and the pain of the innocent still doesn’t make sense—but when the voices of the broken speak of things like hope and forgiveness and wholeness, it’s clear that something bigger is happening within the raw details and moments of their lives. And that bigger thing is the power of Jesus.

Blessed be the Lord!

    For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;

    in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;

my heart exults,

    and with my song I give thanks to him.

The Lord is the strength of his people;

    he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!

    Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Psalm 28:6-9

5 Things to Do for Someone Who’s Had a Miscarriage

5 Things to Do for Someone Who’s Had a Miscarriage

5 Things to do for Someone Who's had a Miscarriage

As many as 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. That means the odds are either you or someone you know has experienced the loss of a baby through miscarriage.

As a woman who has lost 2 babies, I can attest to the healing power of other’s loving words and supportive actions. Although I have experienced loss firsthand, I still struggle to find the words to say to someone else who has lost a baby. Each loss is so unique, just like each woman who is grieving is unique. But as with any heart that is hurting, comfort does not come from a perfect sentence or flawless sentiment. A grieving momma just needs to know that you are available and that she is loved.

Don’t allow the uncertainty of knowing what to say keep you silent.

Here are 5 things you can do to support and love someone who has just experienced miscarriage.


1.) Send a Card

It may seem like a small gesture, but acknowledging her loss and telling her that she’s on your heart will mean a lot.

2.) “I’m so Sorry for Your Loss”

It’s hard to know what to say, but a simple, “I’m so sorry for your loss” can be powerful. Sometimes it’s the only thing that needs to be said. The same goes for “I’m praying for you” or “Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.”

3.) Listen and be Present

It is easy to feel isolated after losing a baby, especially in the weeks and months following the loss. Simply inviting her out to coffee and asking how she is doing helps her not feel alone or forgotten in her grieving process.

4.) Ask to Bring a Meal

It’s the going thing to do for someone who has just brought their baby home, but what about someone who doesn’t get to bring her baby home? It can take all the emotional and mental strength she can muster just to make it through the day. Not having to worry about dinner plans allows her to focus energy on other sensitive things she needs to tend to.

5.) Remember that the Daddy Lost His Baby Too

So many times, the man gets overlooked because the miscarriage physically happened to the woman. But he is also grieving. Extending the same kind words and support to him validates his feelings and grief as well.


It doesn’t matter if you completely understand what a mommy or daddy is going through after a miscarriage. What does matters is your willingness to love and support them through a very difficult time. It is your kindness that their hearts can absorb. And that is a very precious gift to them.

Lookin’ like a Sloth

Lookin’ like a Sloth

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I looked in the baby monitor and saw my 2 year old stirring from her mid-afternoon nap. And then, crying. My heart dropped because it was the “something hurts” cry.

I raced to her room, picked her up and immediately felt heat radiating off her body.

“I so hot, momma.” I didn’t need to grab the thermometer to know she had a fever.

I took her to the living room and kept a close eye on her. We cuddled and watched her favorite show. Within hours her little sister had a fever too.

I took a deep breath, bracing my heart and body for what I knew would be a restless night.

The length of the night felt multiplied times over. If one girl was asleep, the other one was up. My husband and I spent the dark hours tag-teaming bedrooms, swapping kids back and forth. It was an exhausting rotation.

After a couple days of feeling yucky, the girls seemed to be over it all. A deep sigh of relief.

I went a full 24 hours thinking our house was well. Then I woke up the very next morning feeling like I had been body slammed into a brick wall all night long.

My first thought was, “I can’t be sick. I can’t do this.”

I slothed around the house all morning – in action and appearance. No, slothed isn’t actual a word. But I bet you got the visual, didn’t you? A hairy, greasy, animal slowing making it’s way around the jungle floor. Beady little eyes, scrunched up face, lookin’ like it was hit by a car, drug down the road for a couple miles, but somehow managed to survive.

Yeah, that was me.

I gave myself a quick pep talk. If I can just take it easy for a couple days, it’ll be ok. I can do this…I can do this. And then round #2 hit our girls. All 3 of us were sick. Not “cough-cough” sick…we were sprawled out, snotty, crying messes. I called the doctor and was told that this bug was going around and hitting hard. Yeah, no kidding. There was nothing to do except wait it out.

This thing lasted 10 days for the girls. TEN…DAYS. Which of course included 10 restless, uncomfortable, yucky nights.

But even after the 10 days, I was still slothing it. On the 14th day, I went to the doctor and found out I had a sinus infections and a UTI.

The doctor was a cute little thing. She seemed too young to be a doctor and the whole thing felt a little too Doogie Howser (please tell me some of you remember that show). Anyways, she told me to get plenty of sleep…and to kick the kids out of the bathroom 3 times a day to be alone and run a hot shower for my sinuses. Sleep? Is that the thing some people do at night when they close their eyes for more than 2 hours at a time? I’ve heard about that. Private time in the bathroom? Like, alone? Like, with no kids? No, I always have an audience. If I manage to shut the door before my entourage follows me in, I immediately hear pitiful pterodactyl screeching and see little fingers wiggling underneath the door. In theory, the doctor’s game plan was what I needed. But the execution was impossible. I just smiled and nodded…knowing one day, when she has babies and hasn’t peed alone for years, she may remember the unrealistic orders that she gave to that weary, sick momma who looked like a pitiful sloth.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been brought to a place of such mental exhaustion. It easily outdid the sleepless newborn stages.

After the 2 weeks came to a close, my mind, heart, and body were depleted. Totally depleted.

I broke down and prayed, “Oh, Father. I can’t do it. I’m so exhausted. So sleep deprived. So worn out. So…empty. I just can’t do it. Please, Holy Spirit refresh me. Refresh my mind, body and soul.”

I was desperate. Desperate for supernatural refreshment. Desperate for living water to rush through my veins and pump into my heart. Desperate for holy air to fill my lungs and for clarity to purge my mind.

It was through that new perspective brought on by my desperation, that I realized something. Normally when I start to feel empty or dry, I “do” something myself to fix it. Rarely do I stop and ask for the Lord to renew me first. 

And in my depletion and desperation, there was a beautiful submission that took place within me. It was a breaking of my own mental and emotional strength. I had nothing in me to “do.” I could just lay there, close my eyes and ask for the Lord’s strength to renew me.

And you guys, He did.

I woke up the next morning feeling revived – like angels had sung to my soul all night long. My spirit had fresh air. My body didn’t ache. My thoughts were clear.

It truly was a supernatural renewal. I was so humbled and grateful that I cried in thanksgiving for days. Thank you, Father.

Far too many times I rely on my own ability to try and improve the way I feel. Sometimes I will “do” and other times I use distraction to divert my emotions and thoughts until I feel better. But when my emptiness extended beyond my own reach and ability to fix it, I was reminded of my constant desperation for God.

And when I think back on things that have happened in my life, it’s always in those times of brokenness, emptiness and depletion when I see the most transformation and power in my mind, body and life. It gives me a little deeper understanding about what Paul is talking about when he says,

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

There are many good things I can do to keep my heart, mind and body healthy. But nothing compares to what Jesus offers. Nothing changes a life like His grace and power. When I acknowledge my need for Him and ask Him to refresh me, then make the conscious decision to release my own grip on control, He can work inside me freely and fully.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

Maybe you’re in a place of emptiness and getting through just one more day feels impossible. Maybe you’re desperate for physical energy or emotional renewal. Wherever you are, no matter what you’re going through, no matter how empty you feel, God wants to work inside you, freely and fully. Let Him renew you. Let Him refresh you. Let Him revive you.

He’s faithful to do it.

Jesus Smells Like Lavender

Jesus Smells Like Lavender

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My daughter ran up to me this week with a big smile on her face, arms straight up in the air, one hand holding a small glass spray bottle. Its glass is a deep, transparent blue that makes it look like something that should be sitting in the window sill of a beach house. The handwritten label reads, Lavender & Rescue Remedy.

Momma, spway me, pwease!” Anytime I put on a body spray, she too needs to smell pretty. But this particular bottle is a cherished one and every drop of its contents considered valuable. It was given to me by our midwife after we lost our first baby. She came to visit a couple days after everything happened to check in and see how I was doing. She sat beside me, opened her bag and pulled out the blue bottle. She told me to close my eyes, breathe deeply and then began misting my face and the air around me with the delicate scent of tiny purple flowers. So now, whenever I smell lavender, my mind involuntarily transports me back to that time.

The fragrance carries me to a place half way between here and eternity.

When my soul is heavy with grief, the smell of lavender fills me with the intense power of His peace that surpasses all understanding.

When the ache of loss puts me in a sorrowful slumber, lavender awakens my heart and I sense the intimacy of His presence.

Lavender reminds me that instead of remaining shattered in sadness, His fierce love restored me.

Why does a scent hold so much power? Because to me, Jesus smells like lavender.

The air being filled with the holy aroma came at a time without coincidence.

April is a very emotion-filled month for me. The 13th is our first baby’s due date; the first baby that we lost. A baby’s due date becomes forever imprinted on a mommas heart from the moment she knows it. And being a due date that turned up empty adds to the sacredness of that day.

As I entered a month that brings along with it an ache and emptiness, my precious daughter was now covered in the very scent that brings me peace…that brings me Jesus. Without the pain and loss we experienced, we wouldn’t have the little girl that now skipped and played through the house, carrying with her lavender to every room. Lavender would be just another scent. I wouldn’t have been transformed by Jesus in the ways I have. I wouldn’t know Him like I do now. An idea I can’t bear to think about.

The Lord was whispering words of comfort to me, “I am still here, as close as the air you’re breathing.”

Maybe you’re in the thick of things and your heart throbs in agony.

Look around, breathe deeply. Do you sense the presence of Jesus? Maybe it flows in the scent of lavender, or maybe it’s in seeing a small green clover. Or perhaps it’s carried in a song or in a car ride through the country. Don’t overlook the tangible traces you see. Don’t quiet His whispers or dismiss them as coincidence.

He is near. The evidence is all around you.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

To Love the Unlovable

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I recently watched a very complicated situation unfold. I wasn’t directly involved- more of a bystander. But a friend I love dearly was in the heart of it, so I got an up close view of the whole thing.

A close relative of my friend was injured and needed to be cared for during their recovery process. In the best of circumstances, her relative could still easily be defined as “unlikable.” So throw in a traumatic experience, unstable emotions and a resistant attitude, and you’ve got someone who makes it miserable to be around (to put it nicely).

Throughout the recovery process, nothing seemed to go smoothly. There were physical setbacks, unexpected financial blows, constant opposition and emotional outbursts.

And that was just the surface of the situation. There were layers upon layers of emotional scars that ran deep, adding to the messiness of it all. The person who had inflicted those scars now lay in a hospital bed, unable to do basic things for themselves.

My friend, who could have been justifiably angry from a lifetime of pain, chose to bear the scars with mercy, and love someone who didn’t deserve it. Once broken and fragile, my friend now embodied strength and restoration. She had found healing, peace and redemption over the years. That’s what happens when Jesus gets involved in our messes. Sitting in that hospital room, she poured out grace and love without restraint.

Now before I go on, let me just say, having boundaries is a very good thing. I don’t think the “right thing” or “loving thing” means to keep going back to an unhealthy or dangerous situation or relationship. Sometimes, staying away is the harder thing to do. Sometimes, it’s best to get out of a relationship completely because it’s physically or emotionally dangerous. Other times, love can only be offered through limited interaction like short conversations or through prayers for the person. But other times, love physically comes face to face with the unlovable.

That is the love I saw. Given freely and unconditionally. I watched as the emotionally wounded chose to love the wounder over and over.

She made the decision to love.

It wasn’t the feel good kind of love that’s filled with hugs and rainbows and bunnies.

It was the raw, messy, pain filled, undeserving kind of love.

It was Jesus kind of love.

And it shook me.

But if I can be totally honest, I don’t know if I would have loved as well as she did. If put in that situation, I hope I would love well. I desperately hope I would. However, there were numerous times I watched her be horribly mistreated and my heart thought, “She should just walk away. It’s not her responsibility. She’s the one who has been hurt. Her relative is just finally reaping what they sowed for years. They don’t deserve such a love. It isn’t fair.”

But during one of those thoughts, the Lord very clearly interrupted, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

The example of love I saw that left me in awe was human to human. Can you believe that there is a love even fiercer, stronger and eternal? I too, have been given a completely undeserved love by a holy God. I make mistake after mistake, but He continues to love me.

Is that fair? Not at all.

Do I deserve it? Absolutely not.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18

He is a perfect God loving a very, VERY imperfect person. Yet, He calls me His daughter, His beloved. He has not only cared for me when I was most unlikable, He died for me when I was most unlovable. He took the punishment of death that I deserved. Death. That is what I deserved.

How’s that for love.

Raw, messy, never-ending, undeserved love.

Freely given…

…despite mistakes.

…despite failures.

…despite resistance.

…despite messing up again…and again…and again.

…despite never ever being able to come close to deserving it.

It’s easy for me to accept something good that I don’t deserve, but the moment I see someone else given the same good thing, I quickly point out the injustice.

Oh, the love of Jesus!

Yeah, it’s not fair or just or deserved. And thank goodness. My life depends on it…and so does yours.

Forgive and Forget

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Sometimes our 2 year old likes to remind us that she is in fact, very much 2. That is accomplished with ear piercing shrieks as she runs and hides behind the curtains at bedtime. Or sometimes it’s through very stern, unwavering NOs. She does NOT need a jacket in subzero degree weather. She does NOT need a nap. And most assuredly, she does NOT need to eat dinner before dessert. 

After one of her statements got…umm…brain-rattling loud…she was warned that if she screamed again, she would get a time out. There was a pause and then “the look”. If you’ve raised or even babysat a toddler, you know the look. It says, “I know I’m not supposed to, so I’m going to because I’m 2.” Our house filled with “Noooooo! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!” I’m pretty sure I heard every window in our house shake and every dog in our neighborhood howl.

Needless to say, she was told to march to her time out spot.

She served her time well and was released on schedule due to good behavior. I was so proud of her. She said she was sorry. We told her we forgave her. There were kisses and hugs and I love yous. And off she skipped to go play again.

My husband smiled at me and said something that really got me thinking. “I love that she simply accepts our forgiveness then skips off in freedom. I can’t imagine if she kept thinking about a mistake or continually felt guilty or sad for something she’s done. My heart would break. As a dad, I would be like, ‘I forgave you. It’s over. It no longer needs to affect anything. I forgive and forget.’ I bet that’s how God feels towards us when we keep dwelling on past mistakes instead of accepting His forgiveness and moving on in freedom.”

No truer words have been spoken.

It only takes me a moment to mess up, but I can beat myself up about it for a long, long time. I have the endurance of a marathon runner when it comes to dwelling on the mistakes I’ve made. Even after I’ve asked for the Lord’s forgiveness, my flesh sometimes likes to remind me of my failures.

My thoughts overflow with all the “what ifs.” The “I should haves.” The “I could haves.”

But I’ve realized something.

The enemy loves when we stay in an emotional and mental state of regret because it keeps us focused on the past. And as a result, our present is eaten away and we are not a threat to him in the future.

If the enemy can keep us embarrassed, he can hinder us from growing bold.

If he can keep us ashamed, he can prevent us from knowing our worth.

If he can keep us regretful, he can keep us from experiencing freedom.

If the enemy can keep us distracted, he can keep us from being effective.

We can’t expect the ground around us to flourish with joy and power if we keep our feet planted in contrite soil.

Sometimes looking into the past can bring healing and enlightenment. It can free us from bondage. But sometimes, looking back just reinforces the chains of those bonds.

Jesus has been showing me that it’s not about my mistake, it’s about my heart and choice today. And when He says He has forgiven me, He has forgiven me. Period. That’s it. End of story. He will never remind me of my mistakes to bring me shame, embarrassment or guilt. He will forgive and forget.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:11 -12

Do we believe that Jesus’ blood was enough? If we do, may we live like it.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Thank you, Jesus for the abundant life that You make available to us. May we live in your freedom. You are faithful & good. Your grace, your freedom, your forgiveness is sufficient for me. 

The Ache of Christmas Eve

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Do you want to hear a story of God’s faithfulness? This particular story happened one year ago today.

It’s an ugly & messy & painful wound. But it has become one of the most beautiful scars a woman can carry.

After we lost our first baby on October 1, 2011, I wanted to find was desperate to find an ornament for our Christmas tree. Not any ornament, but one that would represent our baby. One that would remind us of God’s goodness & faithfulness. One that would tangibly tie our baby’s life into all future Christmases.

I told no one of my search. Only my husband & my God knew the importance of this simple little object that I longed to hang on our tree. I repeatedly asked God to lead me to my ornament. I went to countless stores trying to find the perfect one. But it was nowhere to be found. I would not buy an ornament, just to have one. I knew in my heart, when I saw it, I would just…know.

And then…

one afternoon, a small box arrived. It was from a close, “adopted” aunt. I opened the unexpected package & there it was. My ornament. My precious precious ornament. She did not know about my search. She did not know how many stores I had explored. She did not know how deeply my heart ached for it. And the moment I saw it, I knew…it was the one.

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My aunt mailed it, but my God sent it. And His words filled my heart.

“I see you. I hear you. I know this is important to you. And it’s important to me too. Here it is. I love you.”

Time went by. My beautiful daughter was born. And the Christmas season of 2013 had arrived. I was pregnant again. And Christmas Eve had arrived.

One year ago today, I was bleeding.

I walked into the same ER I was in when I lost my first baby. I walked by the very room where I felt His presence closer than the air I was breathing. That white-walled room that held my cries to Jesus, our prayers to our God & the realization we would not be bringing home our baby.

They admitted me to a room down the hall. Tests were done. Blood was drawn. Ultrasounds were taken. And it was confirmed.

I had lost my baby.

One year ago today, I walked through the darkness again.

I screamed. I yelled. I cried. I beat the floor with my fists in anger. I was not angry at God. I was angry at the enemy. This was personal.

But this time, my heart recalled memory after memory of God’s faithfulness through my first loss. The details were covered with His fingerprints. He was there. And he mourned with us. He showed us we were not alone.

So, I claimed His faithfulness once again. I clung tightly to Him once again. I entrusted my broken heart to Him once again. Because I knew it is only in His hands that my shattered heart can rest & be restored.

One year ago today, my husband & I left the ER & began driving home, where I would see our Christmas tree in the living room & my baby ornament hanging.

I told Jarred I wanted to stop by the mall to get an ornament for this baby. Tomorrow was Christmas & our baby ornaments could be together.

But as we were driving, I knew I was too physically & emotionally depleted to muscle my way through crowds of last-minute shoppers, so I told my husband to just head home.

We pulled up in the driveway. On our front step was a box. It was from my adopted aunt. I opened it & began to weep.

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The perfect ornament. It even looked similar to my first baby’s ornament.

My aunt mailed me this little box days before. Nobody knew I would spend Christmas Eve in the ER finding out that I lost my second baby.

No one knew…

Except for my GOD.

And so, today, one year later, I hold my 3 month old; I snuggle my 2 year old; & I stare at my 2 baby ornaments. I declare my God as faithful in every day, every pain, every joy.

He loves us beyond measure. He is so very present in this very moment. And I am overwhelmed by His faithfulness.

Merry CHRISTmas.

In The Still Of My Heart

I was doing some cleaning yesterday afternoon to prepare for a visit from my sister & baby nephew. It’s always when I know I’ll be having company that I will dust everywhere (yes, even the places you can’t see) and finally decide where to put that stack of mail that has collected in the corner.
As I was finishing up in the kitchen I looked on top of my refrigerator & stared at the hospital bands that I was required to wear the night we lost our first baby. For months they remained on my counter where I could see & touch them every day. I didn’t want to throw them away or hide them. I don’t know why, but they have remained precious, tangible objects that have reminded me of the physical & emotional pain of that night. I could touch them & hold them in my hand when I needed to. And it brought comfort & connection to me. I didn’t want to get rid of them because I didn’t want to forget anything. Now I know I will never forget. How could I? But for a while it was a very real fear for me to think that the memory of that night or our baby would fade or that people would forget about our baby’s life. Those bands symbolized that for me. So getting rid of them would mean that what happened didn’t mattered. It terrified me. After a couple of months, I deliberately moved them from my counter to the top of the refrigerator. It was a step towards further healing for me. I knew they were there. If I needed to look at them or hold them, I could. But they were further away. And for the past 5 months, that’s where they have remained.
So yesterday, as I fixated my eyes on them, I began crying. Not out of sorrow, but out of remembrance. And I knew & felt that it was time. Not to discard them, but to tuck them away somewhere special, just like that night & our baby will always be a very real, precious part of me. So I did just that. And I realized something. That piece of my heart is no longer an excruciating, open wound. My God started bandaging it the moment that loss began. He personally tended to it in the quiet nights where I laid in bed sobbing, crying out to Him, wrapped in my husband’s arms. Even though it was painful, there were multiple times that my God changed those bandages & cleaned out the wound, because that’s what it needed. And yesterday, as I tucked those hospital bands away where they will remain from now on, I knew that the wound I have felt for 7 months has now become a beautiful scar. I realize that the healing that Jesus Christ has given me does not diminish the memory of our baby or minimize the significance & importance of that life-changing night. It just means that my God is faithful to walk with me through the dark valley & will restore me always. He is close to the broken-hearted & faithful to His Children. His peace is beyond what we can fathom. His love is deeper than we’ll ever know.
Thank you, Father for my beautiful scar. Enjoy loving on our sweet baby. We look forward to the time when we will be reunited & can do it ourselves. I declare You as faithful, my God, Savior & Comfort.
And as another testament to God’s faithfulness & for those of you who may not know, I am 6 ½ months pregnant with a little girl. We are naming her Raelyn which comes from the name Rachel in the Bible. It means “God’s lamb of beauty”. And oh my goodness, yes she is. 

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It may only take me a moment to mess something up, but I’ll tell you what…I can beat myself up about it for a LONG time. I have the endurance of a marathon runner when it comes to remembering certain mistakes I’ve made. Even when I’ve genuinely repented for what I’ve done & I know I’ve been forgiven, my flesh likes to remind me & keep me in a state of regret & embarrassment. It keeps me focused on the past. And as a result, my present is eaten away.

Sometimes looking into the past can bring healing & enlightenment. It can free us from bondage. But looking back for reasons other than those, it’s usually not for the best.

Jesus has been showing me something incredible. It’s not about my mistake. It’s about my heart & choice NOW. And when He says He has forgiven me, He has forgiven me. Period. That’s it. End of story. He doesn’t bring up my mistakes to make me feel guilty or remind me of how inadequate I am. He doesn’t use it to show me how unworthy I am of His love. That isn’t the heart of my Savior.

Psalm 103:11 & 12, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

God has never expected me to be perfect & He doesn’t demand me to handle every situation perfectly without any mess ups or mistakes. He cares about my heart. When my heart is in line with His, THAT is what matters. So why do I sometimes feel like my past mistakes have a hold me? It’s the enemy. He knows that the forgiveness that Jesus brings is FAR MORE POWERFUL than any mess up or mistake I could ever make & he wants to keep us ashamed, regretful & distracted from the blessings of today.

Acts 3:19, “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,”
  
If the enemy can keep us in that state of regret, we won’t live in the fulness & abundant life that God has provided for us. When we settle into that cycle of focusing on the mistake not the forgiveness, we’re really missing something. We’re missing the beautiful message of the price & sacrifice that Jesus made so that our sins could be forgiven. God sent His precious, perfect & innocent Son to die on the cross for our sins, yet we still dwell on the sins that have been forgiven? Do we believe that Jesus’ blood was enough? If so, do we live like it is?
 

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
 
What if we really grasped onto the truth that Jesus’ rejoices when we repent & doesn’t hold our mess-ups against us? How would our lives change?

Thank you, Jesus for the abundant life that You’ve made available to us! May we live in it, dwell on it & share it with others! You are faithful & good. I’ve made mistakes & will continue to. But with all my heart, I want to live a righteous, holy life & focus on the beauty of Your forgiveness, not my failures! In every circumstance, in every day, Your grace is sufficient for me.

Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Be blessed my friend! I declare my God as faithful!