A Crooked Center

I’ve been laid up in bed since Thursday, after putting out my back, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be covered by both the loving devotion of my family and the necessary relief of pain pills.

How did I hurt myself, you ask? By bending over my sweet Chloe’s crib.

Knowing how unstable my lower back is, I always try to bend at the knees and not at the waist. But when your baby is crying and you’re hurrying to reach her… well, those purposeful and cautious movements don’t always seem important. I snapped down to reach her and immediately felt the all-too-familiar POP run across my lower back. And this experienced back-putter-outer knew it wasn’t good.

The pain wasn’t bad, at first, and I was able to move pretty well. But as the day went on, full of scary thunderstorms that had me running up the stairs to calm little ones’ fears, and full of happy packing for a visit with friends that we had excitedly been planning for, the pain became worse and moving became harder.

By the end of the night, I was more crooked than I have ever been in my entire seven-year run with back problems. Scott could barely stand to look at me, worry filling his eyes as he saw that my left hip was painfully shifted way too high, making my right hip so low towards the ground that you could barely feel the bone beneath my skin. Worry filled my mind, too, as I sat at the edge of the couch shaking in agony, unable to stop the paralyzing nerve spasms that were attacking my tensely crippled body.

I’ve tried everything from physical therapy to chiropractic care since that day, seven years ago, when my back first went out, but nothing has given me full relief. Everything seems like a Band-Aid, temporarily covering up a wound that cuts much deeper. On Friday, though, a Band-Aid was what I desperately needed. So I made an appointment with the chiropractor, received an adjustment and some massage therapy, and stared in fright at the newly-snapped x-rays of my spine. My center.  A very crooked center.

 

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Even the chiropractor’s jaw hung open as he gasped, “Do you have scoliosis?!?” Well, fortunately I really don’t think that I do. I’ve seen my back look just as bad as this, and I’ve seen it look better, but the problem is that it should never get like this to begin with. In fact, I’m probably walking around with this curve in my spine most of the time, only it gets exaggerated and painfully inflamed whenever the muscles and ligaments in my back shift, pop and pull. Who knows. I certainly don’t, which is why I am seeking the help of an orthopedic specialist on July 21st, fighting to finally have an MRI taken that might hopefully provide more answers. Better answers. Anything but guesses and advisements to “strengthen your core,” or “loosen up those tight hamstrings,” or “sit on the floor and stretch all day long.”

Because honestly, the other bit of very important info in this week’s events? I tried stepping up my calm, happy, helpful 10-minute yoga videos to a more intense blend of pilates and yoga. And for those two weeks, I was feeling great guys. Muscles were being used instead of sitting dormant, my arms and legs were taking on new shape, and I just felt stronger than I have in a really long time. But what do you do when, in order to help fix a part of your broken body, you must essentially hurt it? The very muscles I am always told to work and strengthen are connected to my back, and I can’t work the former without hurting the latter. It’s a frustrating double-edged sword, and I’m not sure how to carry it anymore.

I don’t write this post to whine, complain or seek out the sympathetic, “Poor Kim.” I also don’t write it to seek out more advise. I really, truly don’t. I am simply a writer by nature, and to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) is my personal way of working through things. Do I want your prayers? Absolutely! If you take away anything from reading this, then please let it be that. A simple plea for prayer.

I haven’t been doing much of that for myself these past few days, and I’m struggling to know why.

It might sometimes seem that I write about life as if I somehow have all the answers, and that God is always revealing truths to me in great and powerful ways. And if that is the misinformed impression that I have given any of you, then please let me fix that now.

I do not have all the answers. And I do not always hear God speaking to me in great and powerful ways.

Why? Because I am not always willing to open my heart, my mind and my Bible to seek out His voice. I am not always willing to be still and listen.

And as I start to make my way back to God, staring at my unopened Bible on the bed next to me and wondering what it is that God would have me learn right now, I think it is about exactly that–being still. Listening. Loving the body I have and the place I am in. Loving the repetitive, every day routines of being a housewife and stay-at-home-mommy. Loving the chub on my arms and the jiggle in my thighs and the perfectly unique ways that God shaped my body into being.

It might seem like I’m starting to stray from the whole back thing and lose my train of thought, but I assure you that I’m not. My back going out–the visual proof of my crooked spine–is opening my eyes to the plethora of ways in which my life’s center is crooked. Off balance. Out of whack. Lately, I’ve been waking up with thoughts about everything I could be doing to give my life more meaning and purpose, instead of seeing the beautiful ministry I have here at home. An amazing husband, beautiful children, a more-than adequate home that is happily cluttered with priceless memories. I’ve been waking up and putting my workout clothes on first, before clothing myself in the strength and power of God’s transforming Word. The stretching of my physical body has been coming before the stretching of my heart, mind and spirit, and the effects? They seep into every crack and crevice of my day.

As far as my is back concerned, I’m not sure what will happen from here but I do know that God holds the answers. He has everything under control and His grace will cover me, just as it always has and always will:

“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.”

(2 Corinthians 12:9)

But as for the other things in my life that are tilting off balance–the spiritual center of my being–those things I am determined to re-commit to The Lord. Step by step, day by blessed day, I will fight to wake up and seek His face first. Know His ways to the utmost. Love the meaningful, purposeful, better-than-perfect life He has given me to live. And I will live it by breathing in the moments, slow and deep, not rushing to accomplish this or to fix that, but simply soaking in the perfectness of imperfectness. Accepting the help of others with gratitude and not beating myself up for those things I cannot control. Admitting when I need help and allowing the gifts of others to be used in my life.

I will continue to pray a simple but earnest prayer for help, answers and healing. And if this pain in my back is a thorn that I must learn to always carry, then I pray for the strength to do so in a way that glorifies His name. In a way that shines the light of God’s love to my children, showing them how to live as imperfect but loved, not striving to be perfect but missing out on love altogether.

I pray that, even if my physical center must forever remain crooked, that my spiritual center will always be the one to hold me upright, straight and strong.

 

When God’s Answers Don’t Feel Good

I’m writing this today because I don’t want to forget. Its truth is too powerful, and its words of love are too precious:

 

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

(Luke 11:9-13)

I often forget how deeply God loves me–how He wants good for me, because I am his daughter and He is my Father in Heaven. There are so many cracks in our earthly relationships, and I automatically assume that those cracks also exist in my relationship with God. I allow the ugliness of this world to seep in and fill me up–doubt, fear, worry, selfishness, thoughts of condemnation and unworthiness. All things whispered in my ear by the evil one to distract me from what’s right and what’s true–

God loves me. He sees me, He hears me and He wants only what is good for me.

I haven’t always had a personal relationship with God, but looking back on my younger years, I now see that He was always there. And in my broken, fragile heart, there was a seeking and yearning that was always brewing at my core.

I accepted Christ in college, before which time I had no idea that such perfect love existed. His desire to be known by me, and I by Him, was never made real until one warm college night on a park bench. I was led in a prayer full of words that, at that moment, I did not yet fully understand. I walked away knowing that something was different–that I was different–but it’s taken many more years and life experiences to crack the surface of understanding how to walk with Him–

To live in  confidence of His unconditional love for me.

To see the good in every single thing He gives me.

To know that I am a daughter of the King of Kings, once broken and condemned but now made perfect and redeemed.

I had a lot of baggage to deal with in the years that followed that night on the bench, and it felt like a lifetime of questions were in need of asking. Some things in my life had felt hard, and I desperately wanted answers–His answers. I needed God to show me the good in a childhood of teasing and broken self-esteem. I yearned for God to show me the good as I searched for joy in depression and loneliness. I cried for God to show me the good when life felt nearly impossible.

That college night on a bench, the doors of communication were blown wide open as I was learning to go to God at any time, with anything. “[...] ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened for you.”

Still, through it all, I never would have imagined the painful questions yet to come, the ways in which my tear-stained fists would pound furiously  upon the window of Heaven’s door.

As Scott and I embarked on growing our family, miscarriage after miscarriage broke our hearts–four of them in the course of one year. And in the quiet depths of my soul, it felt like my worst fears had come true. I believed that God had finally discovered what a fraud I truly was, my mess of sin coming back to give me the punishment I so clearly deserved. I didn’t want to ask God why, because I was afraid that I already knew.

Have you ever been there, friends? Are you in that dark place today? If you are, or if you fear that you soon will be, then I beg you to stop and hear me right now: those are lies straight from the pit of hell.

I was new in my faith, flawed in my thinking and missing the whole point of Christ crucified. I had a relationship with God, no doubt, and my salvation was certainly secure, but I had been walking through life under a secret cloud of fear. Fear of asking Him for things of which I am not worthy and don’t deserve. Quite honestly, the thought of asking God for anything once sent me into a panic. It took my own painful brokenness to see that my fears were so unfounded.

God is not waiting for the next big moment to put me in my place. He’s not eagerly anticipating the moment when He can say, “There! Take that!” and knock me down with an arm of wrath. These thoughts are misguided, and they break God’s heart.

Wouldn’t it break yours, to hear your child say that she is afraid of you? That your precious child, whom you love more than life itself, actually doubts your love for her? That you don’t accept her, right or wrong, and always want what is good for her?

How much more, then, do these thoughts break the heart of God?

I didn’t learn this for myself, and live it for myself, until we made it through to the other side of that storm. Looking back, it was one of the very ways in which God redeemed a terrible situation–one not caused by Him but by the broken world we live in. He used our heartache to bring us closer to Him, deepening our understanding of His love for us in ways that we would not have known otherwise. Through the childhood bullying, the college depression and days that knocked me down in the dirt, God’s answer to me has always been there… and it’s always been the same.

My answer–the only answer–is Him.

To walk through trials of any kind, and to brave the tides of all weather, is for us to see Him. It is to know Him more, to love Him more and to draw near to him more fully. I look back and see how God picked me up in the days before I knew He was even there. I look back see God reaching down to catch each tear that fell into my empty, childless arms.

I think about my life and find that it has always been good, because He is always good.

God? He is in everything.

And then, even when He should be more than enough, God reaches down to give us the desires of our seeking hearts. And He does so at just the right time. From bad, He brings good. From ashes, He brings beauty. At just the right time, God gives just the right answers.

Scott and I? We asked, begged, pleaded and prayed, and at long last… we received.

How could I look at these beautiful faces and see anything less than a God who gives us only good?

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And now, I find myself in a new season of life in which my faith is again being tested. I am a mother to these precious little girls, and the fears/hopes/dreams I have for them overwhelm me daily. I love them so much that it hurts, and I want only the best for them in this life. Every fiber of me being is theirs. How can anyone else love them more? Who else can give them what is good but me?

God. That’s who. My God and theirs.

As worry for their well-being overtakes me, I am called again and again to go back to those powerful words in Luke 11. To go back to the depth of God’s love for me and know that His love also covers them. To break open my heart before my Heavenly Father, minute after minute and hour after hour, asking and seeking not only for myself… but now for the sweet children He has blessed us with. It is no longer for myself that I knock, but also for them.

And when I knock? I must believe that the door will open and His answer will always be good.

The Gift in a Broken Mom

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

(John 3:16)

After reading this verse with Emma, I asked her to draw a picture of what God’s love for her looks like. I offered guidance with a list of examples, from His creation of the world to the beautiful red hairs on her head. She looked at me for a moment with eyes that said, “It’s okay. I’ve got this,” and she began to draw. As I watched Emma work, eyebrows furrowed and tongue wetting lips in concentration, I wondered what was going through her mind. What pictures of love were spinning through that busy, buzzing brain of hers?

As she eagerly held up her masterpiece, I was surprised to see what had spilled forth from her tiny little fingers:

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In the best way she knew how, Emma wrote a tribute to her Mom. Her words, her letters, her heart… they filled up the page completely. I asked my three-year-old to show me what God’s love for her looks like, and she answered me back quite simply: “It is you.”

There are a million other answers that I thought she would have given, all much better pictures of a love that doesn’t fail–sun shining, birds chirping, rainbows after the rain. These are all constants. They’ll never let her down.

Me? Her mom? I let her down every day.

Yelling at her clumsiness. Saying “no” when I could say “yes.” Making time for the computer and looking forward to her bedtime.

Every day, in so many ways, I fail. And really, deep down? I fear that the failures are all she’ll remember. The yelling, the “no’s”, the grumpy ends of days… those will surely linger in her memory far longer than the good days, won’t they?

But then she comes alongside me, bursting with all of the untapped wisdom that a three-year-old contains, and my daughter quiets my fears. With a piece of paper and some colored pencils, daughter reminds mother that the good always prevails. The Truth always wins.

And love?

Love always remains.

Hugs, kisses and moments of belly-laughing fun? These are the memories that will live on forever… the times that she will remember.

You see, my love for her and her love for me are direct reflections of God’s love for us. Emma got it quite right. He leaves our bad and takes our good–no condemnation, shame or guilt. His love poured out on the cross covers all of our messy sin. And my love for my daughter, and her love for me? We cover each other, too.

The cross leaves room for nothing else.

Even on our worst days–when yelling ensues, weariness grows and we’re getting this mommy thing wrong–our children see our hearts. How our love for them never stops flowing. One look into our eyes, and these babies we are raising can see a gift that has been given to them from a God who really must love them.

You are Mommy, and you are a gift. Even in your brokenness, when the stronghold of sin closes in, you are always and forever a gift. It’s in the loving, in the trying  and in the picking yourself back up. It’s in the tender-hearted apologies and the goodnight kisses, the crust-less PB&J’s and the post-tantrum hugs.

Your good speaks louder than your bad ever will.

Love is always bigger.

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How are you doing in this journey called mommyhood? I’d be blessed to hear from you. Let’s comment, talk and connect.

Because I am His

 

 

“For freedom Chist has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1, ESV).

 

Every night, as I fight for sleep, there is a battle raging on inside of me. The suffocating weight of failure sinks in on my heart and mind, threatening to crush my spirit. Yelling at the girls, ruining dinner, snapping at Scott when he walks through the door, ranting about someone or something else that has once again got me in a tizzy. I am human and sinful by nature, but there is still this expectation of perfection that I place on myself. And when I inevitably fall short (waaaaaay short), my head hits the pillow with thoughts of inadequacy, frustration and devastating unworthiness.

Then the morning comes, and with it I grasp for God’s outpouring of new mercies. New grace. A chance to start fresh and live just for today.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34, ESV).

 

I swing my feet out of bed, take a deep breath and dig deep for the hope that today I will do better.

Hope that I will do better.

Hope in me.

Myself.

And with all of that wrongly placed hope comes the old list of expectations trailing behind it. Because, as it turns out, I’m waiting for myself to achieve perfection and ignoring The One who already did:

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV).

Jesus Christ, who walked among us in the flesh and endured every struggle this world has to offer? He did so as the perfect Son of God.

Perfect, holy and blameless.

And what’s better? His death and resurrection on the cross served as the final and ultimate sacrifice for our sins. For my sins. Because He was perfect, and because I accept His gift of salvation in my heart, God sees me as Jesus was.

Jesus was holy; now I am holy.

Jesus was blameless; now I am blameless.

Jesus was perfect; now I am perfect.

The very righteousness of God, through the sacrifice of His One and Only Son, has now been attributed to us. To me. God sees me in His very own likeness.

You see, I can try all I want to live out the fruits of the spirit and love others as God loves me. And those are ways in which we are truly called to walk. The missing piece of the puzzle, though? We must always go back to our freedom in Christ first. At the end of the day, and again at the beginning, it is always all about Jesus:

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they [the Scriptures] that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40, ESV).

I will never, ever be perfect. Today will hold moments of yelling. There will be tantrums from both myself and the kids. Chores will go unfinished, and the ones that do get done will soon be undone. My husband will come home from a long day at work and be disappointed in how my weariness outweighs my love for him in that moment. People will treat me poorly and the world outside will cause me to despair.

But the freedom I have in Christ? That will cover all of my mess. And when my head hits the pillow tonight, I can rest in the hope of Him who was and IS perfect for me. Beautiful, holy, without blemish… I am all these things because I am His.

 

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When Troubles Are Many

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There were (and still are) so many times when these words felt impossible to carry out.

It’s hard to find joy when all hope seems lost.

It’s hard to be patient when afflictions overtake you.

It’s hard to remain faithful when prayer feels pointless.

I was tempted to walk away from God multiple times, blaming Him for our struggles and finding nothing but despair in a faith that had let me down. Wasn’t it supposed to make life easier, this walk with a mighty King who is ruler over everything? Wasn’t I supposed to be prospering in my role as a wife and mother, instead of mourning the loss of the babies I would never hold in my arms?

Empty arms. It seemed a cruel and unusual punishment for a good girl like me.

It’s not about being a “good person,” though. And this preconceived notion we have, that the Christian life should somehow be easier? That is nothing more than a lie. In fact, the Bible tells us that affliction is INEVITABLE for Christians! In John 16:33, Jesus warns of such troubles:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” {John 16:33}

Did you catch that last part? It’s all too easy to focus on the promise of trouble, but what we should really be doing–what Christ came for us to do–is to set our eyes on His promise of hope. He overcame the troubles of this world! Every single bad thing that we will ever experience, the perfect Son of God also endured. And He found victory over it all.

Even now, as I sit here and aim to write a message that I thought I knew so well, God is revealing to me how unsure I continue to live of this truth. Christ found victory over all the world’s troubles, and although He was pierced on the cross in a death He did not deserve, the grave could not hold Him. God had a purpose for His life and a plan for his afflictions. The troubles which Jesus found in this world? He walked through them all, Holy and blameless, opening the way between God and His beloved children.

Beloved.

The God of the universe–the mighty King of Kings who holds all things in His hands–hears our cries for help and works in all things for our good. He loves us! The evil we endure? That only comes from the fallen world in which we live. But joy in hope? Patience in affliction? Faithfulness in prayer? These are the things we will find in our Heavenly Father. God did not cause our miscarriages anymore than He put Jesus on that cross. We, sinful man, tortured God’s only Son. It was God the Father who raised him from the grave and gave him victory over death. It was God the Father who redeemed His beloved Son.

And it is God, your Father, who will redeem you.

Whatever storm you are walking through–whether it be miscarriage after miscarriage or something far different–God will redeem it. Of this you can be absolutely certain. I can’t tell you when, and I can’t tell you how, because those details are known to Him and Him alone. But have faith that at just the right time, God will make these things known to you, as well.

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

Love.

God loves you. He sent His Son to die for you. Perish? No. Nothing God has for you will cause you to perish. And because of God’s great love for you, nothing this world has for you will cause you to perish, either.

God loves you. He has good for you. Hold on to this truth in joy, patience and faithfulness.

To See Their Faces

That is what I’m longing for tonight. To see the faces of our five babies, who were all taken from us much too soon. I want to know them. Kiss them. Hug them. Call them by name and tell them how much I love them. 

Honestly, this is the first time I’ve ever really felt this longing in such a deep and desperate way. I think it’s been easier these last few years to just compartmentalize my pain, accepting that those babies were never meant for this world. Their sweet little personalities shall forever remain faceless, and no good can come from my questions of “what if.”

Tonight, though… tonight my Emma asked questions that tugged at my heart strings and ripped the lid right off of my past. As I laid next to her, tickling her back and listening to her quietly singing scriptures I thought she had long forgotten, this sweetly innocent conversation took place:

 

“Was I in your belly, Mommy?”

“Yes, baby, you were.”

“Was Chloe in your belly?”

“Yes, Chloe was, too.”

“Who else was in your belly, Mommy?”

 

If only I knew how to tell a three-year-old the answer to that deeply heart-wrenching question. If only I could show her pictures of those faces, the faces of her brothers and sisters she has yet to meet until we see them one day in Heaven. If only I could cry and hold her and fully express how much she and her sister mean to me… just how happy and full and unbroken their beautiful faces make my heart.

If only I could hold all of our babies and tell them the same thing. If only. 

God has woven a tapestry of blessings from our story, and if we hadn’t been through the exact set of circumstances that took place over the last five years then Emma and Chloe would not be sleeping in the next rooms. So, you see, I cannot for a single moment wish anything to be different. Our past has made our present–beauty from the ashes, in its purest form. And while that is the truth I live in every moment of every day, there will always be those times of pang when I’m reminded of the precious faces I will never know in this world. 

The backs I will never tickle.

The voices I will never hear sing.

The cheeks I will never kiss.

One day I will meet them, and the joy of that I cannot begin to imagine. But until then, I long for a snapshot to carry… something to know and remember them by.

A picture so that, the next time their sister asks me about them, I can show her who they were. And together, we can see their faces.

 

The Dirt Lurking in My Kitchen

 The Dirtiest Spots in Your Kitchen

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I stood and scanned the room, catching glimpses of dirt in hidden and not-so-hidden places. Grease, grime and dust packed itself into each little corner and crevice. I sighed, thinking about how my quick and infrequent wipe-downs simply were not cutting it anymore. The mess that had accumulated in my kitchen was growing out of control, and the sight of it was weighing me down.

Feeling the fight leave my body, I finally gave in and rolled up my sleeves. Then and there, with PJ’s on and Clorox in hand, I started to scrub. Some spots came off easily while others required a tiring amount of elbow grease. As I moved from one bit of dirt to the next, willing myself to keep going, I thought about how much easier this job would be if I hadn’t ignored it for so long. What if I turned an exhausting, uphill battle with dirt into an act of daily maintenance? What if I made it a goal, each and every day, to keep my kitchen clean and simply wipe away the intruding bits of filth before they became too much to handle?

For as long as I stay away from the truth of God’s word, I am able to turn a blind eye to the filth that is muddying up my faith. Glimpses of my dirt, my sin, reveal themselves from time to time. Yelling at my girls, mistreating my husband, harshly judging people or insecurely comparing myself to others–the list could go on and on. The bottom line is that, at the end of the day, when I stand and scan the condition of my soul, dirt reveals itself in corners and crevices that I’ve let go unseen.

Only, God has always seen them. And not only does he see them, but he convicts me of them:

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” {Hebrews 4:12-13}

We may be able to spend a season ignoring the mess at hand, living life every day by working around the muck deep within. But sooner or later, if we are not careful, the dirt will completely take over. Relationships will crumble, marriages will fail, and we’ll be forced to look around and see what God has always seen…

… we are in desperate, daily, deep need of Him.

At some point, there is nowhere left for the dirt to go.

Every corner, every crevice, every seemingly imperceptible crack has been filled with grime that does not belong. Our bitterness, our jealousy, our pride–those things have no place in our lives once we have been made new in Christ. As I did in my kitchen that morning, we must get on our hands and knees and begin to scrub away the dirt, cleansing ourselves in the baptizing waters of Jesus:

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the spirit.” {John 3:5}

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” {Ephesians 4:31-32}

Once we’ve done this, though, we still must do more. Just as it is not enough to clean my kitchen only once, so it goes for our souls. We must immerse ourselves in the truth of God’s word each and every day, allowing the life-changing blood of Christ to wash over us minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, until we can no longer bear the presence of anything that is not glorifying to Him.

As we scrub away layers of dirt and reveal the beautiful surface beneath, other areas in need of cleansing will suddenly appear–areas that once found it easy to blend in. And eventually, as we wipe them away one spot at a time, the sight of even a speck of dirt will look completely and glaringly out of place.

When my kitchen–my soul–has been cleaned head to toe, the things that don’t belong become much easier to see. Against the sparkling clean backdrop of a heart made new in Christ, our brokenness and our sin have no corner or crevice to hide.

Our dirt sticks out like a sore thumb.

This, my friends… this is what I want to be said of my life. That I immersed myself so deeply, so richly, so regularly in the truth of God’s word, that the broken things of this world never stood a chance making home in my soul. Emotions colored by jealousy, relationships tangled with a lack of forgiveness… they simply have no place in my life.

Instead, I want my daily living to be filled with the sweet aromas, the delicious and satisfying fruit, of a life lived for Him…

… as sweet and delicious as the sight of my clean kitchen.

Silent No More

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My name is Kim.

I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend.

I am also a Christian.

I believe the BIble is our instruction manual for how to live in this world, every word of it being God-breathed and meant to bring us good.

Not harm. Good.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” {Jeremiah 29:11}

I do not believe in same-sex marriage. God tells us that this sacred union was intended for one man and one woman, and this is one of many beliefs I hold to firmly. I don’t waiver and I never will.

I also believe that I am a sinner–broken, imperfect and in desperate need of God’s grace. God humbles all of us when He declares that none of us is better than the other. There is no sin that is any less sinful, no sin that is any more sinful and no scale of 1-10 when it comes to the wrongs we commit. Sin is sin, and it’s as simple as that.

Being a Christian does not make me any better than those who say their vows in the name of same-sex marriage. The couples who did this last night on our television screens, forcing their way into our homes with their values and beliefs… I am no better than them, and God loves me no more than He loves them.

That being said, I now want to speak boldly about something so that you hear me loud and clear, and to be sure there is no mistaking where our differences do lie:

This world will never change me.

Your views will never trip me.

Your intolerance for my faith will never shake me.

Your hate for my God will never silence me.

I am a wife standing up for my husband. I am a mother standing up for my children. I am a daughter and sister standing up for those who raised me.

I am a follower of Jesus, standing up for the one who died for me.

His death on the cross and victory over the grave have given me hope, a future and a promised eternity in Heaven that will bring me relief from the pain of this world. With all of these gifts freely given to me, not because I’ve done anything to deserve them but because my God loves me just that much…

… do you really think I would forsake that?

I’ve spent far too many years being silent about my beliefs. It’s no secret that I’m a Christian, and if you’ve read anything else that I’ve written then you know that it is not something I hide. Still, when it comes to speaking boldly against the evils happening in this world, I am all too quick to shy away from conflict and simply let the fight rage on around me. There will always be those Facebook statuses that I posted too hastily, and there will always be those texts and emails that should have been considered more carefully before clicking ‘send.’ But, when it comes down to it, I’ve largely subscribed to the idea that I am doing more good by staying quiet. Because God is love, and the only way to love people is to let them do what they are going to do and say what they are going to say without getting in their way.

A lie from the pit itself.

God IS love–more love than any of our immature minds will ever fathom or comprehend. And, most definitely, we as Christians are called to love even the most difficult people to love, seeing them through the eyes of God himself. It hurts, it pains us and it often goes against everything our flesh wants to do, but that’s where our faith is strengthened and we bring the most glory to God–when we love like Him, sacrifice like Him, and live like Him.

But this doesn’t mean that we are to be silent. It means the very opposite…

… to speak up for the word of God even when it hurts. 

… to stand up for our faith even when it’s not popular.

… to fight back against the darkness of this world with the truth and light of the gospel.

Our instruction manual for living in this world.

MY instruction manual for living in this world.

And so, this morning as I sat and prayed in the hours before my family’s day began, a promise was born between God and myself–a promise to turn away from the things of this world that threaten to pull my family from Him. Television shows, music, unhealthy relationships–anything at all that dares stand in the way of my own walk with God, and my husband’s walk with God, and my children growing up to walk with God–as of today it is gone. My heart, my soul, the new creation I am in Christ… it can’t stand for the ways of this world any longer.

“And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell…” {Mark 9:47}

And so, the world outside can and will continue to spiral out of control with sex, drugs, violence and ways that emphatically protest the existence of a higher power. But our home? We won’t be subject to it. We won’t put up with it.

We will not stand for it.

We choose to stand with God–the One who is first and last, alpha and omega, giver of life and maker of all things good.

“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” {John 14:21}

Where Love and Sacrifice Collide

Sacrifice.

Love.

The world doesn’t always put these two words together. To love someone, in a worldly sense, often means to give as much of ourselves as we can without getting in the way of our own well-being. Our society preaches love, and we wave our banners high that there’s not enough of it. But, at the end of the day, when it really comes down to it, we find it easiest to love when we are not inconveniencing ourselves.

Sacrifice.

It’s a hard word to swallow, isn’t it? The idea that, to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, requires giving things up.

Taking the time to make a meal for a friend when our own family is waiting for dinner.

Pausing to pray for the people we claim to be praying for, even when our minds are racing with self-seeking needs and desires.

Reading one more bedtime story with our children despite the cozy couch and full DVR, waiting to carry us away from the day’s troubles.

Or, where I am in this very moment… pressing onward to share my life’s experiences with others even though it makes my heart hurt.

I was so excited when I finally started writing this blog–eager to help others and anxious to see what God might do through my words. (It is all about Him and not me, after all.) But then something happened that robbed me of that anticipating and joyful heart–love and sacrifice began to collide, and I wasn’t okay with that.

As other people’s stories began trickling in, my eyes were open to the magnitude of just how broken this world truly is. I found myself struggling to find the words to speak as devastating losses were shared, the kind of pain that makes me want to hide away and cry my eyes out forever.

It simply hurt too much.

I found myself seeking less and less guidance from God and instead building walls around my heart–a heart that could bare no more suffering. A selfish desire reared its ugly head, a desire to protect myself from feeling sad and to instead step back into my “happy” little bubble where the world really isn’t that bad. Life doesn’t really hurt that much. Losses that deep don’t really happen all the time.

Only, you know what? The world really is that bad. Life really does hurt that much. Losses that deep really do happen all the time.

It doesn’t matter how much we try to run and hide because the truth will always catch up with us, and that truth is our desperate need for a savior.

For Jesus.

We don’t have to look any farther than the cross to find love and sacrifice collide, and they collided in the most beautiful way possible:

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” {Ephesians 5:1-2}

It wasn’t easy for Jesus to hang on that cross. His pride, his fears, his flesh–it was all pierced when he died that day. But Christ did it, and he did it for us. The love he has for us was enough to make the sacrifice of his own life worth the pain:

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” {Luke 22:42}

It would have been easy for Jesus to give into his own selfish desires and choose not to die a painful and humiliating death. Yet, he sought wisdom from above and knew God’s plan was far better than his own. God did not take that cup from his one and only son, but that is because He had plans to fill it overflowing–with goodness, purpose and meaning.

The colliding of love and sacrifice.

I’m writing these words today because I’ve been waiting, in my own way, for God to take this cup from me. If you’ve read our story then you know the heartache we walked through and the blessings that we’ve found on the other side. I’ve always felt a nudging from God to combine my love for writing and my love for Him in a way that will use our story to bring others hope.

He hasn’t taken that cup from me, though, and I don’t think He ever will. There is purpose, meaning and goodness waiting to fill this cup that once held pain. It won’t be easy, and I will always have the choice to say no and make my own way, but isn’t it much sweeter to simply let God’s will be done? If we are to be imitators of Christ then there really is no other way.

We must love like him. We must sacrifice like him. We must live like him.

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” {Proverbs 3:3}

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” {Hebrews 12:2}

Where love and sacrifice collide, it is there that our cups will be filled.

Thankful, Blessed… & Still a Mess

The statuses of thankfulness are ablaze since entering into November, and while they occasionally do make me smile, I tend to quickly scroll past them in my news feed. I’ve asked myself why I feel so borderline-negative about the whole idea. It’s not that I don’t care about the things that make others happy, so why does my heart feel so hard to what my friends and family share?

Tonight God started to reveal what is possibly weighing on my heart.

While catching up on Day 1 of a Thankfulness Study (hosted by the lovely ladies at Good Morning Girls), one of the leading women stated a cold, hard fact about Facebook: it paints a picture of the best of the best.

We post pictures of meals-gone-right, our adorable children at their finest, romantic getaways with our spouses and the fleeting moments when all seems right with the world. And you know what? I am guilty as charged. So very guilty.

When we were in the midst of trying to start a family, Facebook was an awful place for me to be. I closed my account more times than I can remember, simply because the pictures of other people’s baby bliss only made my empty arms ache more. Many people don’t understand this feeling, especially those who have never experienced infertility or pregnancy loss. So many people would tell me how I should “just be happy” for others because, after all, my problems were not their fault.

Even now, with our precious children asleep in the next two rooms, those words of “advice” still make me cringe. Of course our trials were not anyone’s fault, and obviously I felt happiness for friends as their families grew, but I wanted someone to think about me for a moment. Just for one brief second, before entering a status update about baby kicks or adding pictures of their adorable little ones, I wanted people to consider how those Facebook updates might affect me and my mess… and if it was truly worth posting at all. Understandably, that didn’t happen often (if ever, as far as I am aware), which led me to the decision that I would NEVER shove my blessings in someone else’s face. If and when God blessed us with children one day, I would NEVER be the woman who posts hundreds of cute baby pictures and writes 99.9% of her statuses about the joys of motherhood. Being on the other side had given me a whole different perspective, and I absolutely refused to be that person.

Until it happened.

I’ve posted more pictures of our girls than I can count. Just about all of my status updates are about our children and being a mom. And do you know the sad thing? There have been so many times when I have stopped to consider how my posts might affect specific people in my life… and I decide to share them anyways. I am so very guilty as charged.

And so here and now, at 12:08 in the morning, I am making both my November post of thankfulness and my humble request for forgiveness…

I am more grateful than words will ever express for the children God has blessed us with. An old picture of Scott and I caught my eye tonight as it hung on the refrigerator, and it instantly brought me to tears. I stared into the eyes of a young woman who was carrying the weight of discovering just how broken this world is. Back then, that girl had no idea if she would ever become a mother, or if her husband would become a father. She was depressed, lonely and fighting to make it through each day in one piece…

Then the sounds of lullaby music on the baby monitor caught my attention, and a thankful smile spread across my face as I thought about our answers to prayer sleeping soundly above me. Even as I write these words, my heart is swelling with love for my Father in Heaven, who has poured out his love on me:

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” {Psalm 40:2}

Now comes the hardest part of this entire post… asking the forgiveness of those I have hurt. If my hundreds of pictures and mommy-centered statuses have caused you pain–if they have kept you away from the computer screen as they once did for me–then I apologize, from the bottom of my heart. I realize now that I can’t promise to never share a picture of our children or a status about being a mom, but I CAN promise to be much more thoughtful before hitting the “enter” key. I will stop and consider if it is an update worth sharing. I will ask myself how it might affect the feelings of specific people in my life. I will be careful to stop using Facebook as a means of painting a “picture perfect life” for all to see… especially when it doesn’t even exist.

My friends, if you are reading this then I want you to know how happy it makes me that we can all partake in something positive together… something like sharing the grateful pieces of our hearts with one another. Facebook is an amazing tool for staying connected, and by now our world cannot imagine life without it. And while I can’t make anyone see things through my experiences and my personal perspective, I simply ask that we all be sensitive to the needs of loved ones in our lives.

That we choose to be real with others when we paint a picture of what our day-to-day living actually looks like.

That as we focus on being thankful and feeling blessed, we still make it okay to be a mess… ourselves included.