Spring Reed is our friend, as well as the editor of ByFaithShe. She pushes us to be better writers, but most importantly to be more like Jesus. Every fifth Friday, you'll hear her voice. But in all honesty, you hear her voice each day on the blog as she cheers us on and sharpens our skills to be writers for the glory of the Lord. Enjoy!
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:15-17
Even though we were 9 months in, it all became very real as my husband and I sat in the courtroom that day.
Just a little over a year before, after several years of infertility and what seemed like endless fertility treatments, my body was tired. I was tired, and I am sure my husband was tired of all the hormone swings. ;) For both of us though, it seemed as though God was stirring within us a different desire.
He was stirring a different desire for the time, not a plan B.
I used to lay awake at night as my husband slept and read all the biographies of the children needing a forever home and cry. I always wanted to be a part of providing a home for children who didn’t have one because I could not imagine growing up without one. My heart was heavy for those who never had a safe place to come home to, people to love them no matter what and teach them all the many big and little things we need to know growing up.
But how in our situation would this ever happen? My husband was chronically ill, and it seemed we had a million things stacked against us.
One day out of my faith that may have truly been as small as a mustard seed, I prayed that if this was God’s will for our lives to adopt, He would just lay it in our lap. I was too tired to convince someone that we would be good parents despite our situation.
All we wanted was to love on kids who needed love.
Our first step was to take a short adoption class offered at our church. This class prepared us in so many ways (thanks again Fonsie and Leslie), but it mostly prepared us spiritually in ways we didn’t anticipate.
Even though my faith may have only been the size of a mustard seed, it was just a few months later when the answer to that prayer was laid in our lap.
After getting a text message from someone we knew, we found ourselves, driving down the road on a Thursday to see our children who had just been born at the local hospital. In just five weeks, we met a birth mom, prayed about what God’s will was for us, found a lawyer, completed all the training, paperwork and home studies. Everything went so smooth as we took our children (did I mention they were twins?) home to figure out this thing called parenting.
As the adoption process was coming to an end, we headed to the courthouse 9 months after bringing them home.
The biblical promises of how God has adopted us into His family, I am not sure I had ever fully understood until that moment. As we pledged to take care of our children, for them to be ours, for our inheritance to be their inheritance it all seemed to make sense at once.
Before that day, they were our children. We clothed them, took care of them, and called them ours but in that courthouse it was forever binding. It was an incredibly beautiful moment. A moment that was one of the sweetest of my life and greatest days of our marriage. I will never forget the details of that moment.
My children are more than a delight. They are smart and funny and can make any gloomy day bright. Yes, as we are entering the 3’s there are definitely challenging days and moments but they are what has continued to propel me forward.
They are what keeps me on my knees, praying that I am who I need to be for them as only God can do.
Their story of how God redeemed us (yes, them and my husband and me) here on this earth through their adoption, is a beautiful picture to a lost world of God’s eternal redemption for those that choose Him and are adopted into His family.
It is with this very beautiful and amazing story that God gives me countless opportunities on an almost daily basis to share. These opportunities are often with those who do not know God’s love.
As we end this national adoption month this November, I pray that each of you understand that if we are God’s children, He has forever adopted us to be His. He is our Father, and because we are His we have a safe place we can go. He loves us no matter what, and He teaches us all the things we need to know if we seek Him.
This is just a few of hundreds of details of how God worked so many miracles throughout this time and since. I wish I had the time to tell you everything, but if you want to know more, please ask! I love to share all that God has done and continues to do and will do for you if we trust Him. The road may not be easy, it may be uncomfortable, full of bumps and holes, and the route and destination may be unclear, but it is beyond worth it.
It is worth it because of where the road leads.
Have you been adopted into the family of God? Do you know this love and this redemptive story for yourself? Is God calling you also to adopt here on this earth and provide a home for a child who needs one? My encouragement to you is to pray. What is God’s desire for you? And then take the leap and do it. The road may be bumpy and the destination unclear but following the Lord where He leads is always worth it.
Read Spring's love story here.
Spring is a native Texan who is the momma to 3 year old twins, Charlie and Londie and widow of her late husband, Charles. She is currently a rehab nurse in Houston, TX but has been a part of many different aspects of women’s ministry through the years. She loves meeting new people, sharing a good laugh, deep conversations and sharing stories of God’s faithfulness. She has a Master of Arts degree in Women’s Ministry from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow more of her story at charlesandspring.com
It's that time of year where the hustle and bustle can easily take over the true meaning of Christmas. It happens to all of us, but how can we be intentional and keep Christ the focus?
When our daughter was younger, there wasn't an "Elf on the Shelf" alternative. Now hear me out, I am not against having an Elf on the Shelf and I do believe you can still keep Christ the focus even by using them. For us, though, we didn't have access to different alternatives. So, we started thinking of ways we could fill her mind and heart with Scripture and challenge her to do things for others. That's when we decided to have the Wisemen come visit our home during Christmas.
We have a child's nativity set that we put out every year, and the Wisemen travel through our house looking for baby Jesus. They leave "acts of kindness" to do for that day and Scripture to go with it along the way. Our Wisemen typically come to visit on December 1 and stay through Christmas Day. Both of our children, ages ten and four, love this tradition and anxiously await where the Wisemen will be.
“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” - Matthew 2:2
As our daughter has gotten older, it has given us the chance to really dig into Scripture and have great discussion on things such as: Were there really only three Wisemen? Did they really find Jesus in the manger? We love these teachable moments to help her grow in her knowledge of God's Word.
I have included the FREE download of 25 printable cards with acts of kindness and Scripture that you can use in whatever way you choose. Please let us know some fun traditions that you do with your family!
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!
Life doesn't look like you envisioned it. You keep thinking if only I had a different job, or a different spouse, or a different child, or a different ___________.
Right now, the proverbial grass on the other side of the fence looks to be your favorite shade of green.
But what if?
What if the job doesn’t improve, the spouse doesn’t change, the kid doesn’t wise up, the ______________ doesn’t change? Then what? Do we live in neutral or in a “woe is me” state or give up?
God didn’t create us and put us in this period of time, in this location, in this situation for us to give up! As Christ-followers, we have the power of the living God inside of us!
Romans 8:37 reminds us that we are MORE than conquerors through Christ. But in reality, many of us are living as the conquered. We’re continuously striving, grumbling, complaining, and are down-right grouchy.
Goodness. We need to shake this Eeyore mentality of woe is me... my life is so wretched... my situation is so hard...etc. etc. etc. Wake up, O Sleeper! This life isn't about me, nor is it about you. It's about God and His glory.
That hard place you are all grumbly about? It is during these difficult times that God shows Himself faithful in our lives and that His promises and His word are true! He's inviting you to get up! Throw off the shroud of winter! Allow spring to bloom in your soul!
You know Philippians 4:13, “I can do ALL things through Him who gives me strength.” Have you glanced back two verses? Check it out?
“…for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. “ Philippians 4:11
Content. Wow! Paul learned to be content in whatever situation.
Content in this context means independent of external circumstances. No matter what situation presented itself, Paul was at peace. He unwaveringly believed whatever hard condition - beatings, imprisonment, ship-wrecked, etc. - was before him; it was God’s will for him to make the most of it.
That, my friend, allowed him to boast, “I can do ALL things through Him who gives me strength.”
That’s the secret, dear one. Contentment. Peace. Right where you are, whether in a stressful job, or a loveless marriage, or a terrible parenting situation, or _____________. Like Paul, we must learn -- get in the habit of -- to be content.
I wish I could take your hand into mine, look into your eyes, and speak this to your soul, "You, dear one, were made for hard things. Because of Jesus, your life should exceed the normal humdrum existence."
"Bloom, Jesus Girl!"
Bloom in that hard spot! Let God's resurrection power soften the soil of your precious heart with hope and joy and peace!"
When the marriage is hard, press into God's promises.
When the job is frustrating, press into His life-giving Word.
When the parenting is hair-pulling, press into His peace and long-suffering.
When the _____________ is tough, press into Jesus.
Press in. Learn to be content. Like Paul, unwaveringly believe that whatever hard situation is before you; it is God’s will for you to make the most of it.
How do we bloom in those hard places?
Our hearts have to pray repeatedly, "Your will, not mine, Lord. Your will, not mine. Change my heart to beat like Yours. Help my hands and feet do what it takes to thrive in this season."
Our minds need to fix on life-giving advice found in the Scriptures such as:
Marriage - Ephesians 4:32, 1 Peter 3:1-4, 1 Corinthians 7:16, Ephesians 5:22, 31-33,
Parenting - Ephesians 4:32, Ephesians 6:4, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Malachi 4:6
Job - Colossians 3:23, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Ephesians 6:6, Titus 2:10-11
People - Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:12-17, Galatians 6:1, 1 Peter 3:9
Situation - Psalm 56:3, Proverbs 3:5-6, Romans 15:13, Exodus 14:14
Dear one, I don't know your hard situation. But if God hasn't closed the door, you are probably exactly where you are supposed to be. May you learn to be content so that you can thrive! I'm cheering you on as you press in and bloom in the midst of this hard situation. <3
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials,
for we know that they help us develop endurance.
And endurance develops strength of character,
and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
And this hope will not lead to disappointment.
For we know how dearly God loves us,
because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
This post resonated in so many precious hearts, that we designed a t-shirt to remind us to bloom! It's such a great reminder when we look in the mirror and see the words "Jesus Girl" looking back at us that we feel renewed courage to push thru the hard things in Christ's strength!
Look at the cuteness below not only for you but for the next generation of Jesus Girls, too! Great for layering now or for the soon to be warm spring time temperatures.
You can find them here.
Other great posts to help you push thru the hard:
Self - When You're the Lost Sheep
Marriage - Winning at Marriage
Parenting - The Best Kind of Parenting
Situation - Confrontation. the Dreaded Word
Tammy Valdivia - Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, deep talks, lively laughter, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
Follow us on Facebook here.
Our Prayer Warrior shirts are BACK!! And, we have a brand new Jesus Girl design in adult and youth sizes!!
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We ByFaithShe Girls love cheering on other Jesus Girls who are living fearlessly for the Lord. Therefore, we are delighted to give you a taste of a year long devotional about to be released. Below are a few days of water for the parched soul from one of the thirteen mommas who collaborated on this project. Purchase info included. Enjoy.
Devotional excerpt #1
She was deeply distressed
and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.
1 Samuel 1:10 ESV
“I feel like Hannah, weeping from bitterness of soul. I’m so sad and so frustrated.”
I wrote those words in my prayer journal on January 14, 2004.
We had been trying to get pregnant for about three and a half years, and we were facing our second artificial insemination. The roller coaster of infertility was wearing on me. Why did other people seem to be able to get pregnant when they weren’t even trying? (And who even says that to someone walking through infertility?) Why was God not answering our prayers for a baby? I became bitter.
Hannah wasn’t the only woman in Scripture who struggled with bitterness. In the book of Ruth, Naomi struggled so much that she changed her name to Mara, which means bitter (Ruth 1:20). At this point in our journey, I was dangerously close to needing a name change too. Hannah wept bitterly. Mara became bitter. This was not what I wanted.
I searched Scripture more diligently. I prayed more fervently. I asked others to pray with us. We sought medical help. Yet nothing seemed to change.
Thirteen years later, I can see that God’s plan is so much better. I can also see that He can handle our bitterness – even when it might be enough to change our very name for a time. He is not surprised by our reactions. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He continues to reveal Himself – through His Word, through the kind words of friends, through praise songs – slowly changing our hearts.
He grows us through those trying times, refining us even in our bitterness.
Please don’t hear me saying that God is always going to give you what you ask. He might, but He might not. What He will give is grace. Our bitterness can become sweet if we will only trust Him.
Father, thank You for giving us grace and for loving us patiently when we become bitter to our very core. Help us to trust Your plan and Your ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Devotional Excerpt #2
We do not know what to do,
but our eyes are on you.
2 Chronicles 20:12b ESV
You’ve been there, right? That point where you throw up your hands and exclaim, “I don’t know what to do!” There are many situations that can bring about this type of response, and adoption is one of them.
During our international adoption, we learned that our home study file was inactive. This realization was a painful reminder of how long we’d been in the process – and that we still didn’t have a child. What we’d thought would take eighteen months had stretched to four and a half years, with no immediate end in sight.
To keep our file active, we would have to update everything and come up with more fees. I hung up the phone, had a good cry, and then called my husband, exclaiming, “I don’t know what we’re supposed to do!”
In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat faced a vast army that was seeking to dethrone him. With his kingdom in jeopardy and his heart fearful, “Jehoshaphat ... set his face to seek the LORD” (v. 3, ESV). He declared a fast, gathering the people to pray. He acknowledged that God “will hear and save” (v. 9, ESV), that they were powerless to face the enemy (v. 12a, ESV), and then voiced their complete reliance upon God.
They fixed their eyes on the only One who could give victory.
Throughout the adoption process, there will be enemies to face: discouragement, financial stress, closed programs, and naysayers, to name a few. You’ll face fear and uncertainty. Your plans will be in jeopardy. Especially in those times, set your face to seek the Lord. Acknowledge that you don’t know what to do but that your eyes are fixed firmly on Him. Sometimes God is waiting for us to express our total dependence on Him before He acts.
Our situation didn’t change immediately after reaching this point of desperation. However, a few months later we did receive a call about a little boy in a program we had not even considered. We basically started over. But in the end God prevailed, giving us victory and bringing our son home sixteen months later.
Father, when the enemy threatens with his fiery darts of discouragement and frustration, when we reach the end of our rope, help us to acknowledge our helplessness and fix our eyes on You.
Devotional Excerpt #3
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.
Matthew 6:34a ESV
Before becoming a mama, I was an English teacher. When I taught writing, I taught my students about the four types of sentences. One of those was the imperative, a sentence that gives a command. Matthew 6:34 is an imperative sentence, a command given by Jesus to His followers. The Apostle Paul gives the same command to the church at Philippi in Philippians 4:6. Do not be anxious.
I am a rule follower. When a command is given, I try to follow it to the best of my ability. This command though? It’s a little harder. Don’t be anxious? When the pregnancy test is negative again, when you learn that you’re too young to pursue the adoption program you just knew God was calling you to, when invoices come from the adoption agency, when a country closes its doors, when it seems like nothing is happening ... how do we avoid being anxious?
In the earlier verses of Matthew 6, Jesus reminds us that our Heavenly Father knows everything we need. I believe this knowledge even extends to knowing our heart’s desire for children, which we would classify as a need. But perhaps He must have us in a place where we are seeking Him first before these blessings can be added (Matthew 6:33).
Besides being a command, an imperative is also something of great importance. This command not to be anxious is necessary as we seek to live a life of obedience to our Father. We could be a great witness to others as we are walking this journey. While they may not be adopting, they may be facing other trials. If we constantly fret and stew over each hurdle, we fail to follow this important command from our Heavenly Father. And we fail to show that He is trustworthy and provides in His perfect time.
Don’t be anxious. While not easy to follow, it’s clear that these words are more than merely a suggestion. They are an imperative from the One who feeds the sparrows, clothes the lilies, and gave His Son as our ransom.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You know our every need. Help us to have hearts that seek to obey even this command not to be anxious. Amen.
Gina Bowling is a pastor’s wife and a homeschooling mama to two swim-loving girls and a superhero-loving boy. She is passionate about women’s ministry and seeking to point women to a greater desire for Truth and a better understanding of biblical womanhood. She loves listening to podcasts and audio books, reading, and chocolate.
For more information about the devotional, click here.
November…a month where we focus on what we are thankful for, but what does that really mean? Are we thankful? Do we show the gratitude that comes along with sincere thankfulness?
I started pondering these questions, which led me to Luke 17:11-19, the story of the ten lepers:
As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten men with leprosy stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”
Jesus was continuing on His journey when He arrived at a town where He saw ten men gathered together. These ten men had leprosy, which meant they had to separate themselves from others in the village. Leprosy was contagious and they had to announce their presence when they came near anyone.
What I find interesting is the one phrase they cried out was, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” It wasn’t, “Please heal us!” or “We need a miracle!” These men had heard of the compassion that Jesus bestowed upon people and that was their request. I think if I were in their place, I would have specifically asked for my disease to be taken away, but these men were desperate for anything that Jesus had to offer!
In verse 14, Jesus tells them to “Go show yourselves to the priests.” If we go back to Leviticus 14 in the Old Testament, we see there is a spiritual ceremony for the cleansing of leprosy and a leper must first present themself before a priest if they think they have been healed. So, when Jesus told them to “Go!” they were not concerned in standing before the priest, they just went. As we see in the second part of verse 14, “As they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.” Their faith healed them! They were healed on the way to see the priest. Is your faith in God so strong that you will act without any evidence of the outcome?
Why is this story relevant at Thanksgiving?
What can we learn from the ten men who had leprosy?
As we keep reading, we see only ONE of them came back to Jesus shouting, “Praise God!” This one man fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet thanking Him for what He had done. One man out of ten chose to thank Jesus for healing him. It’s no coincidence either that this man was the only Samaritan in the group. A Samaritan is a mixed race, despised by the Jews and they despised Jews as well…which Jesus was. God’s grace is for everyone!
What about the other nine men? Did Jesus heal them? Yes, He did! But we never see a moment when they give thanks to the Giver of their healing. Scripture only tells us about the one man who was thankful.
As Christians, we have two choices. We can fall at His feet and give Him thanks for all that He has done and is doing in our lives. Doing this enriches our relationship with Him. Or, as Christians, we can take His grace and mercy for granted and fail to recognize that it all comes from Him.
My question for us to consider today is...
Will we sit around a table on Thursday and share the many things that we are thankful for with those surrounding us?
More importantly, will we acknowledge our Savior who made it all possible?
Thankfulness is a choice, let’s choose to praise the One from whom all blessings flow!
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!
We would love to help add some intentionality to the Thanksgiving table this year, by offering this free downloadable. Twenty cards filled with fun and thoughtful questions, to help point the conversation to thankfulness.