Birthing and Longing

Birthing and Longing

‘You know, babe, I wish I could have known you would be all into this … birth stuff before we got married.’

We became pregnant just a few short months after our honeymoon, which unlocked inside of me what has become an enduring life passion: childbirth.

My favorite portion of Romans 8 is where Paul uses childbirth as a metaphor to teach us about our ultimate future glory.

‘For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God … For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.’

Whether it’s something as significant as a waiting to see a child to come to saving faith in Christ or something more temporal but strongly felt as waiting for a child to fall asleep (PLEASE!), we all know what it means to wait for something with eager longing.

But the waiting of childbirth—and, so, creation—is marked by groaning. This is not a comfortable waiting. It is waiting punctuated by great effort and, oftentimes, pain. The tension of ‘already but not yet’ is palabable in the delivery room. Every birth attendant knows that the baby is coming; but often as the hours or days of labor creep by, it is easy to fall into wondering if the baby will actually ever come

Christians are a people keenly aware that this world is not as it should be. When we look around and see hatred and bigotry, inequality and racism, poverty and wars, it would be right for us to literally moan, ‘When will Jesus redeem this once and for all!?’

Praise God that we have assurance that day IS coming—the baby WILL be born!—though it will be at an ‘hour no one knows.’

Just like a woman in labor, may we endeavor to put those groanings to work. May our groans sound like women who shout gospel truth through the labor halls of life. And may we know when we get to see our Savior face to face, it will be cause for infinite joy—a moment that will make the breathtaking moment of looking into the faces of our own children once they’ve been born pale in comparison.

When Your Husband Isn't the Father You Imagined: Gracious Truths for the Disillusioned Mom

When Your Husband Isn't the Father You Imagined: Gracious Truths for the Disillusioned Mom

I remember the first time I ever saw my husband with a baby. I found myself in a daydream in that moment, as love struck young women do, of what it would be like to raise a family with this kind, servant-hearted, steady man.

The daydream crumbled shortly after we came home from the hospital with our newborn son four years later.

Those first few weeks were really difficult. Caring for our child came much more naturally to me. Gradually, I started to just do things myself instead of asking for help because it was easier that way, but it didn't stop resentment from growing in my heart. I had looked forward to all the ways that parenthood would make us closer and more in love, but those first few months were nothing like I had imagined.

It was so much lonelier.

I wish I could sit down for coffee with that grieving, disillusioned mama and offer her the encouragement in this article, but instead, I pray that if you are struggling the way that I was in that first year, that this article would meet you in that place and offer hope.

Your Father sees, hears, and knows.

Your Father has given you all that you need.

Your Father is sovereign over this season.

Your Father is able to change hearts.

So this Father’s Day, if you have experienced something similar, celebrate your husband for what he is: the father of your children.

Reach deeply for the things he is doing well. Encourage him with the ways that you see God working in him and through him.Tell him that you know what a great responsibility it is and how much of a challenge it is and how you are committed to supporting him and praying for him.

Most of all, feel the blessing of your heavenly Father loving you not according to what you have done, but because of who you are in Christ, and extend that same patience, grace, and favor to your spouse.

Joyfully Spreading the Word

Joyfully Spreading the Word

As women in the church learn and grow together, following Paul’s instruction to Titus that older women should teach the younger ones ‘what is good,’ a call to evangelism must be a crucial part of the good things passed on.

God’s people have the astounding privilege of passing on the good news of what God has done for us through the death of Christ on our behalf and his resurrection from the grave. Although it is clearly the concern of the whole church, the subject of sharing the gospel is one that women will do well to consider deeply together. 

Let me suggest three specific reasons why.

First, believing women need to hear voices calling us to a gospel-centered outward focus—rather than a self-centered, inward one.

When we do turn outward toward social issues and actions—and, happily, we increasingly do—the temptation is to turn with passion to the physical and emotional needs that move our hearts. Why are we not equally moved, or even more moved, to share the good news of Jesus and how he can meet the greatest and eternal needs of every needy human being?

Second, there are great role models who can teach us biblically and well. 

Women with hearts to share the gospel juggle a variety of contexts, mixing home and work and friendship and hospitality and mercy ministry in that sometimes-chaotic combination that makes up many women’s lives. No matter what our involvements, we can spur one another on in learning and sharing the Word that is at the heart of our ongoing witness.

Finally, women should be considering deeply together the subject of personal evangelism because we sense the urgency of teaching each other this part of ‘what is good.’

We all need voices calling us to a gospel-centered outward focus. We need strong Word-filled role models. And we need a sense of the urgency of this message, this message that calls people from death to life through the power of the gospel.

Contentment in Motherhood

Contentment in Motherhood

Stomach bugs. Hitting. Biting. Lice. Bed-wetting. Tantrums. Sleepless nights. Exhausting days.

Each day you wake up with a plan, only to find your efforts dismantled before you’ve even finished your first cup of coffee. Like a rudderless boat tossed back & forth on the waves, our days rarely go the way we hope. With so many ups & downs, plans made & plans delayed, how do we learn the secret of contentment in the season of motherhood?

Is it even possible?

The short answer? Yes, I believe it is possible.

Often, I picture contentment being a moment of stillness when everything surrounding me is calm & peaceful. Beds are made, dishes are done, children are napping, & I’m sitting on a cool porch in the sunlight with a hot cup of tea.

In this situation, I’m hoping for outward peace in my circumstances to work inward peace in my soul.

However, Christian contentment works in the opposite direction.

Christian contentment is an inward assurance in God’s sovereignty & goodness that produces the fruit of joy & peace & thanksgiving in the life of a believer, regardless of outward circumstances.

Notice the difference—Christian contentment begins inward & is independent of daily events & circumstances. Its source is God’s character & his plan, not our own. It’s rooted in the belief that God is working all things for our greatest good—fashioning & shaping us into the image of Jesus.

This belief allows us to view every tantrum & trial as a means by which God is at work in us, not just us at work in our child.

How do we take hold of Christ’s strength? He tells us, ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me & I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.’

We need time with Jesus each day because without him, we’re powerless. He’s the source of strength we need & the refreshment we seek.

We desperately need the truth of God’s word to remind us of the good news of the gospel.

Today, God is at work in every detail of your day. He never forgets you & he always sees you. Take your worries & concerns, hopes & dreams to him. Trust in him, rest in him.

Helping Children See Christ in Scripture

Helping Children See Christ in Scripture

Taking an uninteruppted shower became a luxury after the birth of my first child. I would linger in the bathtub, praising God for a quiet moment before the rocking, the nursing, and the sleeplessness. Motherhood stretches not just our bodies, it stretches our time and capacity, filling them with long days and nights—as well as joy and delight.

Many of us are hard-pressed for time and energy. Our schedules are filled with homes, husbands, children, churches, jobs, friends, and the constant temptation to stay in-the-know of the hashtags, the trends, and the news. We are busy mothers with full hands. And somehow, amid the juggling of responsibilities, we are to nurture our children in the instruction of the Lord.

Picture the scene: dishes need to the done, dinner needs to the cooked, and I have a phone conference with a church group. I’m desperate for an uninterrupted hour so I offer my girls the diversion of a ‘Bible movie.’ They watch and I work; all seems well until I hear these words sounding from the screen: ‘David was brave in facing Goliath. You need to be brave and God will help you fight your battles too.’ I cringe.

Translating Bible passages into behavior instructions might help kids to prize certain traits and values, but this kind of teaching will miss the intention of the scriptures themselves—which is to testify of Christ.

Jesus is better than moralism, and thankfully we can find him everywhere in scripture. I want my children to hear narratives like David and Goliath with their eyes on David’s Greater Son, the one who defeats and liberates us from a deadly enemy we could never conquer on our own, sin.

With language that is understandable to our child, we teach in order to direct them to the Lord who bids little ones to come. This Lord is Lord of all, “bestowing his riches [without distinction] on all who call on him.” This means that, everyone (even fidgety children and with busy moms) can take in the goodness of God’s glorious gospel.

And the story of David and Goliath reminds me of Someone else.

Moms, Embrace Your Need

 Moms, Embrace Your Need

Mom friends—you’re doing it. You’re fulfilling the work of ministry God has planned for you! He’s given you a wonderful gift in your children, and though the days feel long and nights, even longer, this is precisely where he wants you. Right here with your kids.

You’re exactly where you should be.

We can’t foresee all that will happen, but we can anticipate our hearts—our struggles, anxieties, and fears—and proactively preach God’s Word to ourselves.

When you struggle with feeling depleted from lack of sleep, remember that God’s grace is sufficient for each moment, that he will give you what you need with every breath you take.

When you struggle with choosing motherhood over other things, remember that for everything there is a season, perfectly planned by God for the advance of his purposes in the world.

When you struggle with a sense of purpose in the routine, remember that motherhood is a calling from God, an important work of faith and labor of love that images Jesus Christ.

When you struggle with guilt over time in God’s word, know that the basis of your salvation isn’t dependent on this, but on Christ.

You and I can embrace our need for an all-sufficient, perfectly wise Lord and Savior in this unique season of motherhood.

We can praise God for a new grasp of what it means to cling to him—because we know that when we are weak, he is strong.

He’s Been Through It All

He’s Been Through It All

I know what it’s like to be a mom.

When I was 17, I got pregnant. Right after graduation, I was married, and then about a year later I was divorced. I know what it’s like to be a single mom with a little one to care for; to struggle to balance work and college and mothering and the laundry and…and….

Then, right about the time I turned 21, the Lord graciously saved me.

After a few years in church, I married Phil, who became dad to my little guy. Soon, we had two kids of our own: Three kids, one husband, two dogs…and chickens.

As I look back on those days, I’ll admit that there were plenty of times when I felt completely overwhelmed and alone. I frequently felt like I was drowning.

I’m sure, had you asked me, I knew the Lord was with me, but I’m not sure that I knew how near he was, how much he understood, or how that understanding would have transformed my daily experiences of isolation, irritation, exhaustion, and hopelessness.

Jesus knows what living a boring daily grind is like. He also knows what it’s like to have tired feet, and to feel overwhelmed, to be exhausted, as though you never get a moment to yourself. And (single moms this is just for you!), he also knows what it is like to be the single head of a household.

What do you suppose his life of sawing wood, hammering nails, striving for holiness, loving his neighbor, longing for a bride, was like? It was just like yours. He isn’t ‘out of touch with our reality.’

Get that. He knows what it is to live the life you’re living.

Except, of course, he didn’t sin.

His obedience means first, that he was qualified to bear the punishment for our sin and secondly, that his perfect record of always having obeyed is yours and mine right now.

And that, dear sisters, means that every time you need help, every time you feel like you’re just not going to make it, every time that child needs something again, you’ve got a friend in really high places. He understands what you’re going through and he’s promised to be there with you, supplying all the grace you actually need for that day.

He gets it. He gets you.

Better yet…you get him.

Infertility and the Gospel

 Infertility and the Gospel

“‘Am I going to continue to trust God, even if he never fulfills the longings of my heart?’


That question filled my mind after the doctor informed me that I was born with a somewhat rare medical condition that prevented me from bearing my own babies. The news almost devastated me. For the first time in my life, I faced a situation I couldn’t quickly fix or work my way out of. It didn’t seem fair. With a tear-stained face, I entered into the greatest wrestling match of my life with the Lord.

‘Where was God in my childlessness?’

‘How does the Bible speak to my suffering?’

‘Why would God withhold apparent good from me?’

Maybe you’ve asked similar questions. Maybe you’ve struggled month after month to get pregnant, to no avail. Maybe you’ve lost a precious little one by miscarriage. Maybe you’ve had one child, but are experiencing second hand infertility and another baby won’t come.

God met me in the midst of my longing for motherhood.

As I searched scripture for hope in the midst of my suffering, I learned that the pages of the Bible weren’t silent on the topic of childlessness. Seven barren women are highlighted in the Bible.

I’m glad the Lord included the struggles of other women like myself—women longing to be mothers. 

Because the good news the gospel offers in the midst of our pain is that our identity isn’t in our ability to bear babies. The greatest role of a woman is not to be a mother, but rather to glorify God with our whole lives in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. 

Biblical womanhood is about boldness, tenacity, tender heartedness, and loving the Lord and his people.

Even if we never have that longed for baby; even if our family looks different than we’d imagine, we can rest in the fact that the Lord promises his presence. In him, we can find hope. 

Press into him and allow him to speak life into your soul.”

Identify in Christ

Identify in Christ

Have you ever considered how your identity was shaped?

Our identities are who we are at our core. The things that often define us can be connected to our family’s achievements, or possibly our own abilities, the things we’ve accomplished or even failed at.

If you’re anything like me, you take pride in your roles.

I grew up in the church as a preacher’s kid, I was a cheerleader for most of my life, a sorority girl in college, & after graduation, I soon became a wife. After marriage, we unexpectedly struggled with infertility, experienced failed adoptions, then—by the grace of God—became pregnant with twins, & I finally became a mama. Oh, the pride!

Unfortunately, when my marriage shattered, so did my self-esteem.

I became a single mama in 2015 & I was lost, broken, hurting & fearful of how life was going to turn out. I desperately needed the Lord & needed him to redefine who I was, my life, & mend my heart.

Christ constantly challenged the root of people’s identities, but also graciously & freely gave newness to those who believed in him. These pictures of unconditional acceptance, grace, & love caused me to see myself the way he does; in spite of my circumstances or what other people may think of me.

2 Cor. 5:17 tells us, ‘If we are in Christ, we are new creatures and made new.’ Paul is talking about our identities—who we are. Those old labels & attachments rooted in anything besides the work of the Lord will pass away.

As single mamas, it is easy to wear that label & deal with the empowering or negative connotations of it. Although we are doing a two person job alone most days of the week, we have to remember where our true identity lies. Raising our babies alone is what we do, it is not who we are.

Christ was never concerned with job titles & status; he surrounded himself with tax collectors, the sick, prostitutes, & known sinners. He knew who they were & he used their lives for his glory. He came to have a life altering interaction with us that would change what & how we do all things forever.

Out of those truths of who we are, what we do is done differently.

A Love That Speaks

A Love That Speaks

Nine weeks. Sixty-three days. Seven hundred fifty-six hours.

Those numbers measure the span of time I lived in the hospital in 2015.

The plan was simple: I was to continue carrying our second daughter, Alisa Jane, until it was no longer safe to keep her in my womb.

Recently, I told a friend about this experience, and she asked, ‘How did your family logistically make that happen?’

Thankfully, our little family didn’t just survive that season; we actually thrived, even in all the heartache and grief. Reflecting on the experience with the benefit of hindsight, I answered my new friend with the simple, yet profound, reason for this: ‘The body of Christ surrounded us.’

Speaking to the disciples on the eve of his death, Jesus said, ‘By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

We know God’s love means we are to offer this same type of love to those not yet covered by the blood of Christ. Yet sometimes, I wonder if we have neglected to remember the true intent of Christ’s words on the eve of his death. Jesus was concerned that night with how they would love one another.

Jesus anticipated that his followers would be known by their love for one another, because the uniqueness of their love would reflect the greatest love this world has ever known: God’s incomprehensible, unconditional love.

This is the distinguishing characteristic of the Church.

Those nine weeks I lived at Baylor Hospital were some of the most humbling days of my life. I watched as believers from our community surrounded us in support. Friends with children of their own gave of their time. Christians we hardly knew provided meals, grocery shopped, and gave financially to help us navigate that trying season. Believers—some I had never even met—visited me almost daily, bringing with them the fragrance of Christ to the 6th floor at Baylor.

When we operate as he intended for us to live, we, the body of Christ, are a magnificent reflection of the greatest love known to man—God’s love for us.

The Gospel Comes with a House Key

The Gospel Comes with a House Key

Peaceful sleep sounds echoed from my husband and two youngest children. Even the dogs were sleeping. My Bible was open, along with my copy of Tabletalk magazine and my notebook. My coffee cup was in arm’s reach, sitting on a calico mug mat that my ten-year-old daughter made in sewing class.

That morning, my prayer time stopped at the concentric circle labeled ‘neighbor.’ I was praying for my immediate neighbor, whose house I could see from my writing desk.

I love waking up and seeing the familiar van parked in the same spot, and as the sky yawns open, the house and people in it unveil their morning rituals (lights on, dogs out, paper retrieved, a wave of greeting, maybe a child running across the street to return a Tupperware or deliver a loose bouquet of red peonies).

Loving your neighbors brings comfort and peace.

So there I was, praying for my neighbor. A typical morning. Except that the phone I had turned off, which was in the other room, continued to receive text messages alerting me that something was terribly, dreadfully wrong in the house across the street. The house of the man for whom I was praying.

And then I noticed it: burly men ducking around the back of my house, wearing orange shirts marked DEA—Drug Enforcement Agency.

What does the conservative Bible believing family who lives across the street do in a crisis of this magnitude? How ought we to think about this? How ought we to live?

We could barrack ourselves in the house, remind ourselves and our children that ‘evil company perverts’ (see 1 Cor. 15:33), and, like the good Pharisees that we are always poised to become, thank God that we are not like evil meth addicts.

We could surround our home in our own version of yellow crime-scene tape, giving the message that we are better than this, that we make good choices, that we would never fall into this mess.

But that, of course, is not what Jesus calls us to do.


Can Moms be Missionaries?

Can Moms be Missionaries?

When reading about Paul in the New Testament what comes to mind? A gifted missionary perhaps? Paul wrote letters to various churches, traveled from city to city, to the Jew and to the Gentile, preaching the good news of Jesus Christ!

As encouraging as this is, I can’t help but wonder what I have in common with Paul.

From the Chick-fil-A drive through to daycare pickups, from dirty diapers to spilled Cheerios, from grocery store trips to dance recitals, the life of a mama with kids seems very different from his.

Yet just like Paul, we have been given the same mission.

Simply put, evangelism is sharing the gospel or the good news of Jesus Christ. It can seem intimidating not knowing where to start or having the right words to say, but when Jesus gave us the great commission, he ended it with a powerful reminder as we seek to obey this command.

He reminds us that he will be with us always.

The first thing we can do is to pray that God would press onto our hearts people who he wants us to witness to.

Think about those who are around you that may not know who Jesus is. Prayer shows our dependency on God to give us opportunities to share the truth about him with those people whose hearts he has already been working in. We, the messengers, just need to be ready to share.

The second thing we can do is practice.

As often as I could, I started sharing the gospel with my one-year-old son who would, at worst, ignore me and, at best, clap at my feeble attempts. Reciting the full gospel out loud to my child gave me the opportunity to practice what I would say in a way that sounded natural.

We can allow an embarrassing moment to keep us from experiencing a powerful promise that follows after our obedience, or we can continue to press forward—placing one foot of faith in front of the other.

We’re not alone in this. As we begin to share our faith with others and teach them to know and follow Christ, we will actively see God working in our lives and in the lives of others.”

The Curse of Complaining

The Curse of Complaining

How do you react when something doesn’t go your way?

I’ve noticed that even when I’m on cloud nine after a mountaintop experience—whether a conference, retreat, or vacation—all it takes is some small annoyance and a fountain of complaints begin spewing from my mouth.

How quickly our fickle hearts are exposed by our words.

In Exodus 16 the Israelites had just come from a mountaintop experience. After wandering in the wilderness for three days without any water, God led them to the desert resort of Elim.

But just after they left Elim they entered the wilderness of Sin. Complaints poured from their mouths as their stomachs rumbled with hunger. They quickly focused their whining on the two men who were leading them, Moses and Aaron. Moses rebukes the Israelites because their complaints against him and his brother are ultimately against God.

Sometimes we do the same sort of thing, don’t we?

We need to remember the One who is sovereign over every interruption and unsavory circumstance in our lives. When we grumble, we’re really telling God that we know better, that our plan should win out.

He is not unaware of your child’s temper tantrums or your overbearing relative or your tight budget. Instead, he’s using these trials to shape us and cause us to rely on His all-sufficient grace. He’s working in our lives for our good and his glory.

So the next time you’re tempted to open your mouth in complaint, pray for the Lord to put a guard over your mouth and keep you from making the same mistake as the Israelites. Instead, ask him to fill your heart and mouth with gratitude, to bring glory to the Lord over all.

Five Ways My Mom Invested the Gospel in Me

Five Ways My Mom Invested the Gospel in Me

Every mother wants a strong relationship with their daughter. Or at least, I think they do. I actually don’t know for certain since I’m not a mother. I’m a daughter who just graduated from her teens last year.

As I look back on my teen years, I loved hanging out with mom. I loved learning from her. I even took her correction pretty well because she exposed my sin truthfully yet tenderly. I loved praying with her, baking with her, going on adventures with her, and reading books with her. What’s more: I still do.

So what’s so special about my mom?

It actually isn’t anything particularly special at all. It’s merely two things: she prioritized her relationship with her kids and she relied on the grace of God.

As I consider my teen years, I’m mindful of five things my mom did to build this relationship with me: she started young, she prayed for and with me, she risked vulnerability, she learned with me, and she had fun with me.

I wish you could meet my mom. She’d say she’s far from a spiritual giant and that raising godly kids wasn’t about her.

‘It just took intentionality,’ she’d tell you. ‘But most of all, the grace of God.’

For both my mom and you, there is gospel grace to meet you at every turn. No mom is ‘mom enough.’

Every mom needs infinite grace to forgive her sins, to work through her mistakes, and to point her and her kids to Jesus.

Remember: he is the savior of your family, not you.

The Talk

The Talk

Do you remember the first time your parents or friends talked to you about sex?

I wouldn’t describe the emotions that I experienced from the conversation with my mom or with my friends as positive. And yet, in Genesis 2:25 we have a description of a very positive experience. Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed.

Can you imagine a scenario where you could be completely naked, emotionally and physically, and be unashamed? Nothing to hide. Nothing to cover. No good parts to emphasize. No bad parts to deemphasize.

This is the beauty of the sexual experience as God intends it.

We know that our kids won’t get the biblical view of sex from culture. The culture swings between sex being too important and not important at all. It is the end all of every great experience and it is so unimportant you can engage in it with anyone.

We need to give our kids a different view. We need to give our kids a grace-centered, biblical view of sex.

The question is how do we talk about sex to our children in a way that validates the goodness of sex, the way God intended, without shaming or scaring them into thinking sex is a bad thing.

How do we stand next to our child and give them more than a list of dos and don’ts?

We must show our children that a relationship with Jesus is better than any other experience. And we must make sure they know that no sin, sexual or otherwise, is beyond the grace of God. We can only give a complete biblical view of sex when we affirm that Christ loves the prostitute as much as he loves the woman who was a virgin when she got married.

Grace levels all of us.

This glorious news is worth the embarrassment that you may feel in any conversation with your kids.

So smile, and share.