God Weeps With Us – Tears of Pain

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My dear friend Amanda shares her heart in this post about losing her unborn son.
She is the first guest blogger on The Happy Wife of a Human Husband, which is my mom’s blog that we are revamping into a community where women can encourage each other.

Click to read this touching post!

God Weeps With Us – Tears of Pain.

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This job has been given me to do.

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My mother is a big fan of Elisabeth Elliot, and I remember reading her books “Let Me Be A Woman” and “Through Gates of Splendor” as a young teen.  But it wasn’t until I was an apprentice at MMR and went through the Preparation for Marriage class with Matt and Jenni that I really was convicted and changed by her writing.  I read “Passion and Purity” in that class, and later my friend Kezia bought me a copy because she knew how much I loved it.  On the inside cover she wrote:

“Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.” – Prov 31:10

Beth,
May you continually move toward being that virtuous wife.  May your thoughts, words, and actions be Christ honoring and filled with purity.  And if you never become a man’s bride remember that you are Christ’s bride and seek to be holy for him.
I love you Betania,
Your friend,
Kezia

My tattered copy of this book is filled with highlights and underlines.  It was 8 years after she bought this book for me that I became a wife, and I found that I could relate to Elisabeth and Jim’s story in my years of waiting.  But her words resonate with me now maybe even more, because the exciting dating/engagement/wedding is over and now the day to day obedience stretches out ahead, and each day the choice needs to be made to die to myself and follow Christ.

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Elisabeth Elliot was always very blunt and straightforward.  She wouldn’t say to follow your heart, she would say to sacrifice your heart on the altar.  She wouldn’t say dream big, she would say do cheerfully what God is asking of you today whether that is to forgive your brother or give up your deepest heart’s desire or die for the gospel.

I am no good at this, and I hope that I don’t pretend to be good at this.  But I am trying to apply her words to my life: THIS JOB has been given me to do, and therefore, it is a GIFT.  It is an OFFERING that I can make to God.  It is to be done GLADLY if it is done for him.  It is HERE, not somewhere else that I may learn God’s way.  In THIS job, not some other, God looks for faithfulness.

In this daily washing of dishes.  In this dealing patiently with kids who hit each other.  In this choice of how to spend my free hour during nap.

The question is always, do I love him?  And if the answer is yes, my life needs to show it by sacrificing my will on the altar of obedience.  Trusting that God does not ask us to die merely in order to be dead.. we die in order to live.

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Bring it to Light

My daughter is asleep, the laundry is folded, and I have a few hours of peace before the chaos of babysitting begins.  I have been wanting to write this blog post for a few weeks, so today you get it.

One of my recent entries in my journaling bible was from John 3.  I was reading through trying to decide what I want to teach from in the class I’m doing at church next month, and this passage stuck out to me in a whole new way.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.  But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

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For most of my childhood and teen years, I was really afraid of my sin being exposed for how ugly it truly is.  I bought into the lie that no one else struggled with what I struggled with, that no one would understand, and that there was no way to “cure” me.  When I read verses that talked about being pure and faultless before God I couldn’t relate, because I held these secret sins so close to my heart that I almost didn’t acknowledge them anymore.  Sin was just part of who I was and that was the way it was.

As a high school junior, I made the decision to spend my senior year in an intensive discipleship program.  I had given myself an ultimatum that if I went I would finally deal with my issues and stop trying to pretend that I was a good church kid.  So, my first week in the program I went to my advisors and emotionally vomited my deepest darkest secrets into their laps.

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It was definitely awkward, and very painful and frustrating to deal openly with issues that I had always been secretive about and ashamed of.  But, I was able to actually embrace God’s forgiveness of my sin and learn that victory over it is possible and wonderful.

The passage in John talks about how much God loves the world, how he knows all about our sin and doesn’t want to condemn us but wants to save us.  Then it talks about how we love the darkness because our deeds are evil, we hide ourselves from the light of God because we don’t want our actions to be visible.  But the brave soul who desires God’s truth and love above all else in their life will come into that light and let God deal with the ugliness that clings to them.

I think that Christians today have a problem with confessing sin.  Some have amazing stories of recovery from openly sinful lifestyles, and the problem of sexual addictions is getting more light than it used to, but there are still a vast majority of Christians who let sin fester in their hearts because they don’t have a clear avenue and example of how to confess it.

Bitterness, pride, lust, greed, selfishness, hate, lying.. these sins are just as powerful and controlling as being a drug addict or a prostitute.  They may not be killing your body, but they infect your spirit and eat you from inside.  And it is completely unnecessary.  You do not have to be controlled by sin because God has given you everything you need to live and be godly.  He has set you free from a life of sin and death, so that sin no longer has mastery over you.

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I came up with a list of reasons why it is better to bring your sin to light than to wallow in it.  I think we subconsciously let these things control our thinking and actions, we let them get so ingrained in our hearts that we don’t even consider them a problem anymore.  Or, we are ashamed and afraid that somehow our sin is unique and disgusting, and that no one will respect us again if it comes out.

That is a lie.  God takes our rancid slop and composts it into fertile soil where he can plant righteousness.  He is a master at this, it is what he loves to do.

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If God is bringing an area of your life to mind right now, pray about confessing that sin to someone you trust and getting help.  You can have true victory in Jesus, I promise!

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Trust in who he is.

On Sunday our pastor talked about patience.  He was preaching out of James 5 and showed that Job is called an example of steadfast patience, which is funny because Job spent 40 chapters arguing with God about the trials in his life.  It really hit home for me that patience is not about sitting quietly and accepting whatever life brings, but it is about going to God with those questions and hashing it out with him.

In Job, God finally replies, but he doesn’t answer any of Job’s questions.

What he does is remind Job of who he is and what he has done.  I think he is basically challenging Job, saying, “are you with me or not?”  And Job responds that he is, regardless of all the pain in his life and having no idea why God would put him through that.  Because God is who he is, Job wants to be with him.

For this entry, I thought about trying to do something dramatic and cool, but I decided that I only wanted to do that so I would have a stunning picture to share on Facebook, and that is not a good reason.  I ended up writing out the gist of what I got from the sermon and passage, then doing a little word art/doodle and coloring it all a bit.  Sometimes that is even better than going crazy on a page.

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I am trying to learn this in my daily life.  I need to embed trusting God regardless of circumstance into the fiber of my day, because too often I get distracted by the plans I make.  And when things start spiraling and I am asking God why he isn’t coming to my rescue, I need to keep learning to trust him even when he doesn’t tell me why I am going through this particular trial.  I need to trust him because of his character, his history and his promises.

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P.S. – I just added these sweet printable to my Etsy shop!

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I care about freedom because…

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For the past few years I have been making an attempt to put the topic of human trafficking in your news feed on a fairly regular basis.  It can be hard to tear your mind away from the issues you are dealing with in your life and actually focus or care about people who are being forced into labor or sex, but I think that it is important to do it.

My interest in human sex trafficking started at some point in my teen years.  I was fascinated by love and sex, and so the idea that there were people who routinely and ruthlessly stripped others of their innocence made me so angry.  Now that I have a daughter, the idea that someone would look at her as a means for their own gain is horrible.  My daughter should be able to grow up, start a career, fall in love and raise a family.  No one has the right to take that from her because they want money.

But that happens every day.  The average age of a person sexually trafficked is 13, and their expected lifespan is 7 years.  That means that thousands of people’s daughters and sons are having their futures stripped of them right now at the hands of criminals who think people are commodities.

I do say that to scare you, because the reality of it is scary.  But I want to encourage you too.  Human trafficking is becoming a hot topic, and organizations are springing up all over the country and world to help rescue victims and shut down trafficking rings.  The world is becoming better informed, and therefore victims are more likely to be rescued.

I care about their freedom because if it were someone I loved, I would want to go all Liam Neeson and rampage the world until I got them back.  But I don’t have that particular set of skills.  What I can do is know what to look for, I can teach my kid that trafficking happens and how to spot it, and I can clog up your news feed with ways for you to be informed or get involved.

Learning how to spot signs of trafficking is just a good skill, like learning the heimlich or CPR.  If you notice any of these things call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1.888.3737.888 (a good number to save in your phone):

  • Seems anxious, fearful or paranoid.  Avoids eye contact.
  • Tearfulness or signs of depression.
  • Unexplained bruises or cuts or other signs of physical abuse.
  • Appears to be in a relationship with someone who is dominating.
  • Never is alone and/or always has someone translating or answering questions on their behalf.
  • Not in control of their own finances.
  • Presents with secrecy or unable to answer questions about where they live.
  • Inconsistent details when telling their story.
  • Has no identification such as a license, passport or other ID documents.
  • Inability to leave their job or residence.  Says they cannot schedule appointments.
  • Being a recent arrival to the United States and does not speak English.
  • Is under 18 and providing commercial sex acts.  Or at any age unwillingly providing commercial sex acts.
  • Is afraid of law enforcement or receiving help from an outside entity.

You may never run into this, but let me tell you, the director of North Star Initiative recognized these traits in a woman while shopping and ended up busting a huge trafficking ring.  You never know.

I blog for The Exodus Road because I care about freedom enough to give some of my time and effort to raising awareness.  If we all give a little bit, learn a little bit, care a little bit, we can make a huge difference in the lives of someone’s child, sister, or friend.  We can help give them back the future that had been taken away from them.

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