A Pain not Wasted | Fierce Friday

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Happy #fierceFriday y’all! Alisa is my guest today. Alisa is a Louisiana girl through and through and she even has the accent to prove it. She blogs over at Flourishing Today and is stuffed full of wisdom. Enjoy!

Death is one of life’s harshest realities. It has the ability to produce grief, fear, doubt and a myriad of other emotions that can leave us isolated and locked up for years. It’s deep wounds can leave scars that are constant reminders of what could’ve been, but will never be. Yet there are times when out of death, comes new life.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. John 12:24

It was 5am and my phone was ringing. I couldn’t imagine who would want to talk at that hour. As my husband handed me the phone, I could tell in his eyes is wasn’t good. “Alisa, your father was killed in a car accident last night.” The words pierced my soul like a bullet in the chest. It was like a bad dream that I couldn’t be awakened from. Thoughts of grandkids he would never meet and special moments he would miss flooded my mind.

He was a good man who served others to a fault.

Why would God allow this to happen?

I struggled with these thoughts for weeks. I grew up in church learning that God was good and that He loved me. Yet at this moment, I saw no good that could come out of this. Each day seemed to grow dimmer as grief and fear settled into what seemed like their permanent home in my heart and mind. I couldn’t seem to get passed the hurt and pain.

I wanted so badly to believe that God was real and that He would show up on my behalf. I will never forget this moment. I cried out, “God if you are real, I desperately need you to show up now!”

And He did.

I wiped the tears away and I felt something telling me to go to Home Depot and get some flowers. I had never planted anything before, so the thought seemed ridiculous. Nonetheless, I went. I got some soil, flowers, a shovel and some gloves. I headed home with my trunk full and my heart open to whatever this feeling was leading me to do. I began planting the flowers all along the side of my house. As I dug up the dirt, I sensed that something new was about to take place. If only for a moment, I felt a ray of hope for the future.

Difficult situations can teach us invaluable life lessons if we seek God in the midst of them.

Hard situations teach us invaluable life lessons if we seek God in the midst of them.… Click To Tweet

 

how-2

A month or so later, my mother in law came for a visit to help with my small boys. I knew she saw my pain. But more than seeing, she knew what I was going through. Her mother had died when she was young as well. As we sat down to breakfast one morning, she told me something that began to challenge me to rise up and overcome the emotional state I was in.

“Alisa, maybe you should start a Thanksgiving Journal. Each day write down one thing you can be thankful for. Even if it’s thanking God you have breath that day.”

A few days later, I began my journal. What began as an exercise to overcome, rekindled a love for writing. I journaled my thoughts, my feelings and my desires. Several months later, through divine relationships, my husband and I began attending a local church.

It was there that I gave my heart to Jesus.

I knew He was real, He had shown up for me months before. I realized it was Him asking me to plant those flowers, it was Him giving me the hope for the future. But it wasn’t just for a moment, but for a lifetime. He often reminded me of those flowers. They were a symbol of the new growth He was doing in me. Over the next few years, He began digging up all the hurts from the past and planting His Word in their place.

He was doing a new thing in me. He was giving me a new start, a new life in Him.

Although losing my dad was one of the most difficult times in my life, God used it for my good and His glory.

My salvation came out of his death.

Healing came out of his death.

God will never waste one ounce of our pain. #fierceFriday @alisa_nicaud Click To Tweet

waste-pain

Maybe your going through a difficult circumstance right now. Perhaps your feeling alone, afraid and hopeless. Friend, God has a great plan for you. He wants to bring healing to every area that causes you pain. He wants to touch those places that you’ve built walls around and bring victory into your life.

That’s why Jesus came, that we may have new life in Him.

As we seek Him in the midst of our pain, we will see Him show up in ways we never imagined.

alisa-nicaud-sidebarA native of Virginia, Alisa Nicaud currently lives just north of New Orleans, LA with her husband Philip Nicaud, their five children and their dog, Roux. She owns a boutique coaching practice and is the founder of the blog, Flourishing Today. Through her own tragedies, Alisa is intimately familiar with the struggles of anxiety, fear, insecurity and depression. Alisa’s willingness to be transparent gives her a unique advantage in relating to women from all walks of life and leadership. She freely shares helpful hints and practical encouragement rooted in Biblical truth in her posts and resources. Her passion is to equip women to overcome any limitations preventing them from leading a flourishing life. You can learn more by visiting her blog at www.flourishingtoday.com

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Loving your Spouse Well During the Teen Years

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loving your spouse well during the teen years

When John and I got married a little over 25 years ago we had no idea what we were getting ourselves in to as it regards to parenting. And I would guess that most couples feel the same.

Marriage can be hard, yes.. but parenting?

Ugh..

And how about parenting two teens…that just happen to be girls. 

Oh, God. <Literally>

We’ve got two girls. Honestly we wouldn’t trade them for anything but I would be lying if I told you it’s been easy. Because it hasn’t.

My oldest little is a freshman in college this year and my youngest is a sophomore in high school.

The last 4-6 years have been a bit challenging for us to say the least. We’ve had some hard years, just like most parents.

But I’m not here to talk about parenting teens, instead I want to talk to you about loving your spouse well during the sometimes rocky teenage years.

Parenting teens naturally adds a certain kind of stress to marriage.

And once children enter into the family your marriage matters MORE, not less. Sometimes I think couples get it backwards. They pour every ounce of energy into their kids, and neglect their spouse. But actually, in doing this they are indirectly neglecting their kids and their futures.

When you put your spouse and marriage before your kids, you’re doing them a favor. You’re actually putting them first.

You are literally their example of what their marriage could look like in the future.

I strongly believe that teens who come from a happy home life in which their mom and dad have happy marriages are more likely to have happy marriages themselves.

And that’s the ultimate goal when we have children right? To raise them up to be happy, well adjusted adults.

Here are a few things I’ve learned a long the way in my own marriage when parenting teens:

Be a team

You’re in this together. I see so many marriages suffer and fail and the primary reason is that they are competing with each other rather than working together.

Raising our daughters has been a monumental task and it’s one we both take very seriously. We realize that it can’t be done with just one of us. It takes BOTH of us, working together as a team.

It’s true that John and I don’t always see eye to eye on everything. And that’s okay. Being on the same team does not necessarily mean that you see eye to eye. In fact, a team is stronger when they don’t think a like.

John and I have two different thought processes in parenting. And although the two are different, we have managed to blend them together as a team to raise our girls the best possible way we know how. Our parenting styles are so different yet they mesh together into something pretty cool. I make up for his weaknesses and he makes up for mine. The result is a really strong parenting style between the two of us.

 

Celebrate key milestones together

 

Knowing that every perfect and good gift comes from Him, we also take pride in knowing that our DNA combined formed two beautiful female humans. Have you ever just thought about how cool that is?

So when milestones such as the first prom, homecoming, academic and/or athletic ability, come around, we take it seriously. Whatever those milestones may be, we celebrate them together as a couple.

I have fond memories of my oldest’s first prom. It was a huge moment for me and John. One in which we celebrated together. We both looked on with pride as parents because everything that we’d been through as a couple had brought us to that huge moment in her life and we didn’t take it lightly.

I’m excited about being a guest today at Searching for Moments. Click here to read this rest of this article!

 

My Love/Hate Relationship with Mothering | Fierce Friday

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Today I bring you Kristi. Kristi is a fellow blogger who just happens to live in Oklahoma, where I’m originally from. We had the privilege of riding together to a retreat several months ago and we hit it off immediately. I love Kristi’s down to earth personality and I know that you will too!

My Love/Hate Relationship with Mothering

 My Love/Hate Relationship with Mothering

Mothering and I have a love/hate relationship.

I love the idea of being a good mom. I want to be one. But there’s a struggle and underlying uncertainty with each attempt. I simply don’t feel good enough.

And I hate it.

It’s a vicious cycle.

Try.

Fail.

Self scorn.

Mothering pity party for 1.

Attempt again.

And girl, don’t even place a June Cleaver-type in my tracks.

 

It’ll be cause for a self-worth train wreck of the awful kind.

She’s so good, and I’m so…not. {sigh}

Cue the shortfall.

And the cycle begins again.

Let me offer a few examples…

There was the day I poked my head in the side door of our little Ellie, our silver flash of a van, only to find crumbs sprinkled on her floorboard and seats. And never-mind the trash shoved into the cracks and seat pockets. Goodness!

I sighed in defeat. After all, don’t good mothers keep clean vans? Mine was a mess. I stamped myself “Not Good Enough!”

Then there was the day milk spilled all over the dinner table – for the 455th time.

 

It rushed directly to the crevice – of course! It couldn’t gather in a nice, little puddle on the tabletop and wait patiently for a clean-up, could it?

With white liquid streaming to the floor below, I bellowed a slow motion “Noooooo” in my brain. I’m not certain what came out of my mouth. Six eyes stared at me as I cried, giving credence that women do cry over spilt milk. And kids stare at their cryin’ mamas.

And then there were those days when winning a tennis match with Serena Williams seemed easier than bearing the internal banter called “mothering indecision”.

Is he really hurt or does he just want attention?

Should I make her tow the mark on this one, or offer a “get out of jail free”?

Should I let them go or should they stay home?

Oh, the indecision…

Its chatter might as well have been plastered on a sandwich board hooked over my shoulders, hanging for all to see: “Bad Mother – Will Never Get It Right.”

But something has changed. I’m not that same mama crying over spilt milk anymore.

After all, milk doesn’t call us by name – God does.

 

But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine IS 43:1 NIV

Oh, I still like a clean van. And when those tires shine ~oooo!

But food crumbles left by clean and grimy little hands alike don’t create our identity – our Creator does.

 

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph. 2:10 NIV

My Love/Hate Relationship with Mothering

And the incessant indecision? It proved to be works of perfection determining my worth. I was afraid of being wrong for fear of being “not good enough”. It left little room for Jesus and His beautiful grace.

A right or wrong decision doesn’t determine our worth – our Daddy above does.

 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph. 2:8-9 NIV

A right/wrong decision doesn't determine our worth, our Daddy above does. @Kristi_Woods… Click To Tweet

The force behind these changes is what I call Godfidence. You know – God confidence.

Godfidence.

Are you mothering with Godfidence? @Kristi_Woods #FierceFriday #fiercelyHis Click To Tweet

It’s not a 10-step process or a read from Mothering for Dummies. (Is there even such a book?!)

No. It’s a little girl walking alongside her big, strong, capable Father, linking fingers in prayer, the word, and worship – fiercely clinging to Him through life’s decisions. And never letting go.

It’s a Daddy who knows just what His little girl needs – and being faithful to love her all the way through the changes. With each change, she gains God confidence – Godfidence. And her steps become more firm.

As my Father revealed lies buried deep in my own heart, He healed me. He healed my thoughts. He healed my mothering way of life. It was a process – and still is.

I changed. My mothering changed. But it wasn’t a mothering issue after all. It wasn’t crumbs, indecision, or spilt milk. No, those were only evidence. It was a heart condition.

As the Lord worked on my heart, I gained confidence.

 

It overflowed into mothering. It was Godfidence.

Mothering with Godfidence? Yes, please! @Kristi_Woods #fiercelyHis #fierceFriday Click To Tweet

So let’s stick with it – mothering emersed in trust of the Lord, okay? Let’s link our fingers with our Father, keeping eyes on His prize, trusting Him as we step. Let’s cling fiercely to Jesus.

Our God will show us the lies. He’ll also help us heal. And we’ll gain Godfidence for this race called life, mothering included.

After all, He can take any love/hate relationship with mothering and beautifully turn it into one of love/love. I’m living proof. To God be the glory.

picture1Kristi Woods is a writer and speaker passionate about seeing women walk deeper with God. She clicks her words of encouragement at http://www.KristiWoods.net regularly and is published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions as well as on Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today and on various blogs. Kristi, her retired-from-the-military husband, and their three children survived a nomadic, military lifestyle and have now set roots in Oklahoma.

Connect with Kristi here: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. 

 

Thanks for stopping by today!  Please take a minute to say ‘hi’ and share your thoughts below.  Also, would you do me a favor —if you resonate with this article or it has helped you today— would you share it with someone else? Maybe a friend, coworker, or family member…?

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Finding Joy Podcast: Rising Up

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Finding Joy Podcast w/Shannon Geurin

You guys! I’m so honored to be a part of the lovely Lauren Gaskill’s Finding Joy Podcast today!  Finding Joy is a podcast dedicated to bringing you encouragement and inspiration in all of life’s moments — the good, bad and everything in-between.

I absolutely love Lauren. She’s adorable and the kinda girl that you can just easily talk to. It’s a gift that she has.

Finding Joy Podcast

Click here and it will take you to her website where you’ll find the link to the podcast where I talk about:

  • My struggle with infidelity.
  • How God helped me and John restore our marriage.
  • How to combat shame and the lies from the enemy.
  • What it looks like to rise up for Christ.
  • What it means to be Fiercely His.

Enjoy my friends!

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Legacy

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Legacy

We had planned on a long weekend. My sister was in town for the weekend and Alex was coming home too. We planned on going to Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park. We were going to go to the Taste of Denver and stroll down Pearl Street in Boulder, eat on patios, all the while looking at mountain views.

Alex was supposed to land at 7am on Friday morning. We were on our way to pick her up at the airport when we got the call that my precious Grandma had taken her last breath.

9 hours later we were packed up and started on the road to Oklahoma so that we could be with family and that me and my sister could be with our Mom.

It wasn’t a time of mourning but a time of celebration.

Because Grandma had fought the good fight.

She had won the race.

And she is in heaven now, whole and healthy, dancing with my Grandpa.

So much changed in her 94 years on earth. From technology to transportation to relationships, there’ve been oodles of changes. Yet with all of the changes, as I look back on my life, she taught me so much.

There are three things she taught me. She taught me how to have fun, how to serve, and to be a woman of God.

I had the privilege of speaking briefly at her memorial service. It was a tribute. Here’s what I said:

She was fun.

Laughing was easy for her and is a sound that I will never forget. We would come stay with her for a couple of weeks every summer. She would make homemade strawberry jam and would always send us home with several jars. I love pickled beets to this day because she made the best and there is none that can even come close to what she used to make.

They used to have a creek that was spring fed across from their house before bottled water even became a thing. She would go with us to the creek, in her dress (because she wouldn’t be caught dead in pants) and wade knee-deep as we picked watercress for salad.

I remember sitting beside her in church and she would make little dolls out of her handkerchiefs for us to play with so that we wouldn’t get bored with my Grandpa’s preaching. <giggle>

She was a servant.

She passionately stood by my Grandpa and supported him in ministry. Not only was she the Pastors wife,  Sunday school teacher, and women’s ministry director; she was also youth leader, cook, janitor, counselor, taxi driver & I assure you, the list goes on. But she didn’t just serve her church, she served her community by personally cooking meals for the homeless and the hurting. And she never once complained.

She was a woman of God.

I distinctly remember hearing my Grandma cry out to God regularly in prayer. She sought him and she knew Him.  She served God faithfully most of her life and loved Him with all of her heart. Her love for him was never personal or private. Although she led many people to the Lord with her words, her actions spoke volumes. I can’t ever remember a single time I was around her when she wasn’t encouraging, exhorting, or urging others toward their faith and obedience to Christ. She prayed relentlessly for her kids and grandkids and loved ones. Many of us here today are the fruit of her prayers. In her later years, when part of the aspects of her personality had faded, that joyful faith in Jesus Christ remained.

legacy

The last couple of days as I was preparing what I would say today, I have to admit it was hard. But as I began to look around at our family, and the legacy that my grandma and grandpa have left, the words came easy.

To her three children, my mom Soni, Bud and Julia: as I look at you today, I see her. I see her sweet spirit and kindness and I see her joy. I see her authentic love for people. But most of all, I see Jesus. I see Jesus in each one of you, because of her.

When I look at her grandchildren Stacey, Sheila, and Kendall; I see in all three of you a compassionate and servants heart. I see her spirit of integrity and gift of empathy.

In my mom’s own words, the legacy that she has left is far greater than money or monetary gifts.

Grandma fought the good fight. All of her hard work, for her, came to fruition the day she took her last breath. All of the love that she sowed into her family and into others came in to fruition that day.

Many of us here today are the fruit of her labor.
The fruit of her tears.
The fruit of her prayers.

We are who we are today because of her example.

Who would’ve thought that on September 20, 1977 when her first grandson Kendall was born, that 39 years later he would preach her funeral. Kendall, there’s no doubt that her and grandpa are up in heaven rejoicing today. It’s all yours.

After I spoke, Kendall, her only Grandson who is now a pastor, came up and preached her memorial.

What a legacy.

My grandparents left us a legacy. A rich, deep legacy. What will be your legacy?

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Why I am Fiercely His

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“What does it mean to be Fiercely His?”

Someone asked me that question the other day and if I were completely honest with you, it stumped me.

It stumped me?

Good grief it’s the tag line to my blog and it stumped me? Any author, writing coach or literary agent would tell you that’s a big no- no. Because ya better know your stuff and what you stand for in the writing world.

Maybe it stumped me because I hadn’t been prepared.
Maybe it stumped me because I’m not quick on my feet when it comes to responding to people sometimes.
Or maybe it stumped me because it is something that I am deeply passionate about.

Have you ever felt so deeply about something that it was hard to put in to words?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’ve been in a bit of a lull lately. I haven’t had a lot of inspiration to just sit down and write. Maybe it’s because my life is crazy busy and full of all kinda emotions and has been for the last several months; or maybe its something else? I don’t know. For some reason I just don’t have my usual get up and go.

Ya know..I’ve known God all my life. My parents have known God all of their lives. Both of my grandparents were pastors. So, my parents practically raised me in church and there has never been a period or season of my life where I’ve “not” gone. It’s just something I’ve always done. God has always been a part of me.

But that’s not why I’m fiercely His.

Fiercely His is something that I am passionate about and I'll explain why.

You know my story.

It’s packed full of shame and sorrow.

Yet it’s so beautiful.

But how can something so shameful be so beautiful?

How? 

How can something that is intended for utter death and destruction turn out to be so beautiful?

There’s only one conclusion that I can come up with.

It’s because of Jesus’ love.

Can I stop for a minute and tell you something? If you don’t see His love, maybe it is because you have lost your focus. Or maybe it is because your eyes have moved..because His love is a constant. It never changes.

Jesus' love for us is a constant. It never changes. #fiercelyHis Click To Tweet

I write today out of complete brokenness.

Because I don’t understand and I will never understand.

When I am 90 years old or more and I am on my death bed I still will not understand this love or what He did for me.

Because I am so unworthy.

I am so weak and I am so flawed and as much as a I try and strive for perfection I am deeply flawed.

There is bitterness in my heart.
There is pride in my heart.
There is apathy in my heart.

These are only just a few of the ugly things that reside there.

I mean I need to get it under control and I’m working on it. Is this normal as one who follows Christ? I don’t know, but it’s the authentic truth.

Before you go all judgemental on me, can I gently ask you something?

What do YOU have to work on? 

We are all so completely imperfect yet He loves us anyway. What in the world kinda love is that?

He can turn my bitterness into sweetness.

He can turn my pride into humility.

He can turn my apathy into passion.

I won’t go into all of the details with you again, because honestly don’t you tire of hearing it? When John and I were smack dab in the middle of restoring our marriage one of the reasons it was such a difficult season for me personally is because I had lost all of my identity as a woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and the list goes on. So while I was in the throes of restoring my marriage, I didn’t even know who I was. It was as if life was punching and beating me until I was nothing but a bloody pulp.

I was completely stripped bare.

But this is where I learned how to be completely His.

It’s where I learned how to be fiercely His.

It has nothing to do with my upbringing. I am fiercely His because I have been in the depths of destruction and despair and He saved me.

I would probably be dead and my children would be visiting my grave today if not for Him.

But not only did He save me, He DIED to save me.

Jesus died to save me, and I am #fiercelyHis Click To Tweet

That alone friends, is enough.

I am fiercely His because He restored my deeply wounded marriage to complete wholeness and restoration.

I am fiercely His because He restored my relationships with loved ones.

I am fiercely His because He washed me clean of all of my shame and my guilt and made me into a completely new person.

No scientist on earth would ever be able to convince me that there isn’t a God in heaven who sent His Son to die for me because of my mistakes.

So then, what does it mean to be fiercely His?

It means that I am passionate and intense about being a child of God aggressively and intensely.

It means that I fully trust that He will take care of me. He’s got me!

It means that I recognize that I have free will to do whatever I want. We live in such a corrupt world where I can choose to fulfill by selfish desires at any given moment. But instead I choose Him because He chose me. And honestly…it is an honor to be His.

Not only His, but Fiercely His.

It doesn’t mean I am standing on the corner of a busy intersection proclaiming that I am a follower of Christ.

It doesn’t mean that I am knocking at your door waiting for you to answer so that I can share the love of Christ with you.

It doesn’t mean that I will judge you if you do something that I might not agree with.

In fact, maybe this is what it boils down too: Fiercely His means that I recognize I am in no way better than any of you whether you are a believer or not. I can be just as comfortable with one that believes the exact opposite as I can be with one that believes like me. And more than likely I won’t say one word about my beliefs but instead show you in how I treat you.

Maybe it means that I’m just a girl. A girl with two amazing kids and one amazing husband. A girl that is deeply flawed.

What does it mean to be fiercely His?

A girl who still makes mistakes.

I am wondering, am I alone? Surely I’m not. Because at the present time I need some peeps to join me. I need some women who are deeply flawed to boldly stand with me.

I am flawed yet deeply loved by a Savior. I am #fiercelyHis Click To Tweet

Will you? Will you be fiercely His with me?

I love hearing from you! Please take a minute to say ‘hi’ and share your thoughts below. 

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Fighting for my child | {Fierce Friday}

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It’s #fierceFriday today! I’m so honored to bring you Carmen’s story about her son, sweet Malachi and the life-threatening surgeries he endured during the first couple months of his life. You’ll want to grab some kleenex!

A story about a mothers strength in fighting for her child.

As I stood outside of the two large sliding doors that were wide opened the team rushed into the room taking their positions. Each person knew where to stand, what their duty was, what tool or instrument to reach for and where to put it.

It was 26 hours after his second surgery that he had within 32 hours and once again he was not responding.

My beautiful, four month old baby was laying there helpless with a body that was rapidly swelling, dropping oxygen to 60% and a heart rate passing the high number of 220’s.

At that moment I was a mother standing in despair near the entrance of his ICU room. How did it turn so bad so rapidly? How did we go from conjuring one situation of taking him off the breathing tube to forty-five minutes later, him suffering to breath again?

I looked towards my four-month old son lying in the hospital bed fighting with a handful of people standing over him. All I could do was selfishly think he has to fight alone this time. It’s been the most emotionally three months I have ever had and my strength is now non-existence.

I saw a team answering to their calling. Standing tall, speaking confidently and in sync with one another. Their voices and answers were in rhythm. Their feet were planted solid in the ground. Their arms were stretched out crossing one another from one side of the bed to the next working strategically in accordance with one another. Their hands and fingers were steady. Nurses were on standby behind each doctor encouraging the team and ready for instruction. The lead supervisor was shouting out vitals every few seconds.

Moments later one of the members stepped out of his position. He stepped towards me but stopped three feet before me. He stretched his hand out and spoke words to me that nearly broke me!

“He needs to hear your voice, mom. He needs you tell him he is strong, and that you are here.”

What this surgical resident that was assigned to my sons team in ICU did not know was that from the womb the Lord gave me a scripture to pray over my son:

You are strong and courageous, do not tremble or be dismayed for your Lord God is with you wherever you go!

As the surgeon gave me instruction again to speak encouragement to my son, I connected eyes with him in dismay and cried,

“I can’t.”

A story of a mothers strength in fighting for her child.

He rushed back to the bedside to assist.

My husband was standing at the foot of the bed as he watched the team of 8 medical members and 3 nurses rushing in and out of the door with more supplies and responding to instruction. My husband was hurting and was watching in fear.

It was my first time as a wife to watch him tremble.

Even so, his head was up high, and his lips were speaking payers. He was afraid but he was fighting!

I carefully walked back into the room and to be honest, I was in total fear. I stood next to my husband. He grabbed my hand and told me, “Do what the doctor said. He needs to hear your voice.” I wrapped my arms around my husband and cried and said, “I can’t do it. Not this time.”

I felt if I asked my son to fight then I was coming to the reality that he needed to fight and that scared me.

My husband looked down at me and told me “You are stronger than you think, now tell our son he is strong!”

I couldn’t do anything but repeat the verse that the Lord instructed me to pray over my womb everyday.

“You are strong and courageous, do not tremble or be dismayed for the Lord God is with you wherever you go.”
You are strong and courageous, do not tremble or be dismayed for the Lord God is with you… Click To Tweet

The more I repeated the verse the more I was reminded that God was in the situation just as the scripture said. I gave my son to the Lord the moment I acted in obedience and prayed that specific scripture over my womb.

The revelation later came to me: Yes, I am to teach my son the importance of the scripture for his life, but the Lord also gave it to prepare me for that moment while I was trembling and was dismayed by the thought of the “what if’s.” 

He gave it to me for the next moments over the next four months that we were about to embark. He had prepared me before we had even started the journey. I was already praying and speaking the scripture out loud daily to myself and my son since he was just a few months old inside of me.

The moments we as a family had to endure through the past year have not been easy, it’s been a struggle each day.

Why our child?

Our baby boy came home with extreme medical needs. We also had other children to care for. My husband and I knew that the only way to get up each day and face the enormity of our situation was to seek Him. To take heed to the words He was giving us because those words were giving us preparation and confidence to continue on.

The words were reminding us He was there, and we were not to leave our position just as those doctors did not leave their position by our son. As long as we were there standing tall and fighting fiercely we would see that the Lord would never leave.

And he never did.

Carmen is a fighter! #fiercelyHis

Malachi was born with a redundant colon. Today he is healthy and whole and completely done with surgeries. Carmen and her husband know that Malachi is a miracle! Today their family is busy with 4 wonderful children. Click here to read more about Carmen’s story and sweet Malachi. 

1463813201298About the author:

Carmen is a woman chasing after God. She is passionate about encouraging women to live in Christ. She is also passionate about building a home full of mercy and grace. She is a wife and mother to four beautiful children that keep her drinking coffee constantly. Carmen blogs at Married by His Grace. You can also connect with her on

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When change is hard.

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I think we can all agree that sometimes change is hard. I’m all about change. I like easy going. Shaking things up a bit. Doing things differently. I could annoyingly go on but you get it.

We made the transition of moving from Oklahoma to Colorado exactly 14 days ago.

It’s been a hectic month. We moved our oldest little into her first year of college at a private christian university in our hometown of Tulsa. 4 days later- me, my husband and youngest little said goodbye to that precious face and tons of other precious faces and left to settle in Colorado.

We will all go through change at some point in our lives. Here are 4 truths to remember when change is hard.

Although the emotions have been real, seeing life from this vantage point has been a breath of fresh air (literally) and awesome. Using the word “awesome” seems so cliche…but seriously…it’s awesome.  There is no way you can drive down the highway every day, see the Rocky Mountains and not know that there is a God.

I’m used to running in to change with open arms. But let’s be honest. Sometimes change is hard. And let’s be honest again. Sometimes it’s brutal.

Ever have those awkward moments where you second guess and question if you did the right thing? Even after you’ve received confirmation after confirmation? Ever ask yourself, God did I hear you right?

Yeah?

But I’m not talking about you because really, this post is about me. Because I’ve certainly been questioning a lot lately.

We’ve all second guessed ourselves I guess. Second guessed God. We just need to recognize it and then make the decision to trust Him. It develops our faith and it helps us grow.

I love the song “Inside Out” by Hillsong. “From the inside out Lord my soul cries out..” When we give our hearts to Jesus there is an internal change that happens and it makes it way from the inside out.

Transition changes us from the outside in. #change #transition Click To Tweet

Going through transition, though, changes us from the outside in. Whether that transition is moving, death, sickness, or loss of something, etc. There’s that an external blow and then it makes its way inside our hearts and can either be positive or negative.

External transition will alter you internally.

It’s important that during change we stay focused and remember what is true in order to have a positive change on the inside.

We will all go through change at some point in our lives. Here are 4 truths to remember when change is hard.

Truths to remember when change is hard.

The promises of God.

I believe in rainbows. The world has mystified them and made them about unicorns and pots of gold, but in my world they have everything to do with a loving God who keeps His promises!

God used a rainbow as a reminder of His covenant with Noah and I believe it still holds true today.

Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth. Genesis 9:16

The meaning of that rainbow was everything to Noah. It was his hope and promise for his future and the future of his family!

It’s not uncommon for Denver to get a 15 minute late afternoon rain. Afterwards, rainbows often appear. There have been two instances after the appearance of a rainbow in which I felt God speaking directly to me about moving to Colorado. It’s been very surreal and,  well…just downright cool. The first time was when we drove into Denver and the second time was when we found “the house.” (You know…”the house” that you find when you’ve been looking for a while and you finally find the one.) Which, by the way, we closed on that “house” yesterday. Yay! Anyway, those rainbows reminded me about the hope and future that God has promised my family. It was as if God was saying…all of this is ME. You are in my will!

God is so cool.

During this time of transition I must remember the promises of God. I must fight to remember them. 

  • He has promised us a hope and a future! Jeremiah 29:11
  • He is good and wants good things for us! Genesis 12:2
  • He has prepared the way. Ephesians 2:10
  • He goes before us! Deuteronomy 31:8

Things usually don’t go as planned- be flexible.

Oh my sweet husband. Let me tell you about him. He is the planner in the family. He keeps us all organized. He has cute preferences and he likes things to go a certain way.

And then there’s me. Fly by the seat of your pants and hope everything works out me.
Bless his heart.

He’s responsible for a mutli-billion dollar sales budget but I bet he’d tell you that being responsible for me and his two girls and helping us navigate our lives are the most challenging effort yet.

Poor guy.

With all of that said, since we’ve gotten settled here, things haven’t gone as planned. We’ve had to regroup. We’ve had to step back and say, ok,..what now?

And ya know what?

That’s okay.

Because things aren’t always going to go as planned and we have to be flexible.

When we’re flexible it allows God to move, because sometimes our ways are not His ways. It’s important that when things don’t go as planned to step back and regroup immediately, and then go on and go forth.

During change be flexible & let God move. #change #transitions Click To Tweet

God will send encouragement your way.

My husband had been quiet for most of the evening earlier this week.  The lines I call worry had positioned themselves right where they like to be in the middle of his forehead.

“Are you okay?” Yeah.. I’m fine. (I knew he wasn’t fine.)

Just hours before our youngest little told us that she’d like to visit a different school. It wasn’t the fact that she wanted the change, it was the reality of why she wanted the change. To protect her sweet privacy I don’t want to go into details, but she was just having a rough time at the school that we enrolled her in, and that’s what broke our hearts.

The next morning I was sitting on the sofa forcing back the tears. The phone rang and it was an odd number. I don’t know why I answered.  I normally wouldn’t have answered…especially if it was a number I recognized, simply because I knew that I would cry and I didn’t want to deal with it.

You get it.

But, it was a number I didn’t recognize. So I answered.

I recognized the voice immediately.

“Whatchya doin?”

Just the sound of my sisters voice made the floodgates open.

With my voice shaking, I told her to hang on and give me a minute.

I put the phone down and just literally sobbed. After about 2 minutes, after I was as composed enough to talk I put the phone back to my ear and my sister began speaking life into me. I don’t know if she realizes how that random phone call impacted me.

I love you so much, sis.

I needed to hear what she had to say and I fully believe that if her name would’ve popped up on my phone, I wouldn’t have answered…not because I didn’t want to talk to my sister, but because I was very emotional and didn’t want to breakdown on the phone with her.

God is so cool.

He sends specific people to encourage us during times of discouragement. Some amazing friends have on-purpose spoken life into me during this time and I’m so grateful. God loves us!

Cling to your spouse during change.

I didn’t know it, but John heard me crying when I was talking to my sister. I knew he was working downstairs in his office, but I didn’t realize he could hear me. After I got off the phone he came upstairs and asked me if I was okay and reached out his arms for me.

It’s so important to cling to your spouse during transitions! Satan loves to try and put a wedge in there when we’re vulnerable, but we have to recognize it and armor up.

We have to remember that we’re on the same team! A marriage is a TEAM!

So how about you? Are you going through change? If not, you’ve been there or you will soon be there. Everyone will go through some sort of change at some point in life.  Let these truths sooth your heart and know that God will not leave you! He’s got you girl!

What other things should we remember? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

Other articles by Shannon Geurin

How to Stay Confident in a Difficult Marriage {Fierce Friday}

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Hello friends! Today’s #fierceFriday writer is Leah Grey. If you are in a difficult marriage, I encourage you to sit back and lean in! Leah has a powerful story!

“I sat in the dark thinking about what life would be like after being divorced for a second time. I quite liked living alone. Being a perfectionist, living alone suited me just fine. My house would stay in order. I could cook whatever I wanted for dinner. The children would have a routine and it would be blissful. Elizabeth Taylor was married eight times for goodness sake.”

The time on the stove said, “11:13pm”. The lights were off in my parents living room, I was visiting them at the time. I was sitting in my father’s yellow easy-chair talking on the phone to my husband.

I swiveled around in circles in the yellow chair while my conversation with my husband spiraled out of control. He was back in New York, allegedly working. The problem was that every time I left him alone he seemed to forget he was a husband. While I was having family time in rural Ontario, Canada, he spent his days doing God only knows. I didn’t know where he was. That was the whole problem.

You see, I married a drug addict.

How to stay confident in a difficult marriage.

I could tell you about my husband’s pain and the reasons why he used drugs. I could also tell you of his great successes and his savant-like skills in technology but this story isn’t about him.

This story is about me.

I’m a small-town girl who spent most of her life reaching for a bar of success that she personally set too high. I was fearful and insecure. I made friends with “misfits” because I knew they would accept me. I waffled and waned in the crowd of outcasts, drug addicts and drunkards alike, to escape ridicule and years of being bullied.

It was in that crowd that I met my husband.

My husband was a charming, handsome, latin man who promised me security. He was from New York, which was nothing less a dream come true. Typical, small-town girl moves to New York story… I know.

What ensued was nothing less than a nightmare. I won’t go into all the details, I’ll just say that it was bad and leave it at that.

Back to my story:

I vigorously rocked back and forth in my father’s chair trying to will off tears. I thought, somehow, the rocking motion would stop them from rolling down my cheeks. At this point, we had already had a full-on intervention with my husband. He’d been admitted to the psych ward.

He tried to kill himself, more than once.

He went to rehab.

He did an outpatient program. He went to meetings.

He found God.

What was it going to take to wake him up?

As my husband adamantly protested my constant insisting that he needed to go to treatment yet again, I felt hope leaving my body like a gust of wind.

“I’m not going.” He said.  

I told him that if he didn’t go, I wouldn’t see him again. He said, that was alright. No amount of rocking was going to stop the flood of tears that came rolling down my cheeks.

I lost my breath and started hyperventilating.

“How… how… how… could…. you… do…. this…. to… me…?!” I stammered through tears and broken breaths.   

He said nothing.

“What… about… the… kids…?!”

He said nothing.

“I… hate… you…” I said.

A moment passed, “Well, this is your fault.” He said.

I hung up the phone and cried like I’d never cried before. I didn’t know I could be filled with so much agony. I’d mourned before but never like that. A mix of pain and frustration overwhelmed me.

It felt like the room was getting darker.

I didn’t want to fight anymore.

Suddenly, I knew I had a choice. I could walk away. It was my moment to stop fighting for my marriage and let my husband continue on as he chose. In the addiction circles, they would call it, “Letting go” and it would be totally okay if I did. No one would blame me for leaving.

I sat in the dark thinking about what life would be like after being divorced for a second time. I quite liked living alone. Being a perfectionist, living alone suited me just fine. My house would stay in order. I could cook whatever I wanted for dinner. The children would have a routine and it would be blissful. Elizabeth Taylor was married eight times for goodness sake. 

I would be a modern day Elizabeth Taylor and I would be fabulous.

I was so serious, I even wrote it on a post-it-note and saved it to my computer desktop.

How to stay confident in a difficult marriage

This is the actual sticky note I had on my desktop!

In my Father’s easy-chair, I found solitude in fantasies of leaving.

I would paint my walls the perfect creamy white… my bedroom would be bohemian and pink with plenty of natural sunlight… my house would smell like cupcakes and candles… I daydreamed happily.

Be still.

Then, the phone rang.

Reality has a way of coming in fast. It doesn’t sneak in slowly like one would wish for when daydreaming, it comes rushing in all at once. With each shrill ring of the phone I knew I had a decision to make.

The choice was very clear…

“Be Still” He said.

“The Lord will fight for you; You need only to be still” -Exodus 14:14

God had been preparing me for this moment for months. The words, “Be Still” were on a craft I made at a random event I wouldn’t have normally gone to, I ordered a t-shirt and it had, “Be Still” on the tag, my son’s agenda from school that year said, “Be Still”, my husband’s devotional from the treatment center had, “Be Still” on it; The message, “Be Still” was everywhere I went.

I knew that if I answered the phone, the road I was going down would be long. I knew it would be hard. I knew it wouldn’t always be rewarding but it would be fruitful. In a moment, I knew that God would go before me and defeat the enemy ahead.

“Hello?” I said, answering the phone.

“Ok” my husband said, “I’ll go”.

Goodbye daydream.

Real inner strength is actually confidence.

Sometimes, that confidence can come from a confidence we have in ourselves but when life strips away our armor and breaks us down, the most powerful thing we can have is confidence in God.

When life breaks us down, the most powerful thing we can have is confidence in God.… Click To Tweet

There is no enemy who can defeat Him.

God will fight for our inheritance, He will fight for our peacefulness and He will fight for our joy.

That day, I wanted to leave my chaotic marriage but I stayed and clung desperately to Jesus. I’ve not been disappointed. The road I’m on is still long and hard but it’s been filled with a bounty of blessings.

If God has called you into battle, be strong and let Him lead.

How to stay confident in a difficult marriage. If God has called you into Battle, be strong and let Him lead. #fiercelyHis #fierceFriday

Our God is a good Father and even though we may sometimes lose confidence in the world, we can stay confident in Him.

We belong to Him.

We are fiercely His and He fights for us, every step of the way.

Leah is a fighter! #fiercelyHis

LGBio

Leah Grey runs a faith-based online ministry for women with loved ones who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. She challenges popular beliefs about addiction and encourages women to support their loved ones’ recovery, without abandoning them, by creating healthy boundaries. In March 2016, she launched her website, leahgrey.com and community for women in crisis, “Live, Love, Hope”.
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“Live, Love, Hope” Community link-> http://www.facebook.com/groups/livelovehope

I hope you’ve found inspiration and encouragement through Leah’s story like I have! Please take a minute to say ‘hi’ and share your thoughts below. 

Also, would you do me a favor —if you can relate with this article or it has helped you today— would you share it with someone else? 

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Better Than Restored

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John and I have been better than restored in our marriage for about 5 years, and I’m telling you, it wasn’t easy. Restoration in marriage is hard. Sometimes you’ll want to quit, but if you’ll just hang on, you can be fully restored. In fact, your marriage can be better than restored, no matter the circumstance!  I’m so honored to share over at Sarah Koontz blog today. Sarah is one of my absolute favorite writers and although she is younger than me, she has quickly become sort of a mentor to me (and she doesn’t even know it). 

We live in a world in which we want everything to be easy and convenient, don’t we?

We want faster, easier, and simpler.

We want crockpot meals that take 30 minutes to prepare, can simmer all day and be ready to eat when we get home from work.

We want to order our favorite Starbucks drink from an app on our phone and swing by and pick it up in 10 minutes without waiting or talking to anyone.

We want to pay for things with nothing more than our thumbprint on our iPhones.

We want what we want, and we want it right now!

And as much as our society thrives on the now, obtaining restoration in marriage is not immediate.

That is why it’s hard.

But, I’ve got good news for you today!

Nothing is impossible with God. (Matthew 19:26)

Nothing.

Restoration in marriage is hard. Sometimes you’ll want to quit, but if you’ll just hang on, you can be fully restored. In fact, your marriage can be better than restored, no matter the circumstance!

There were times in my own marriage that I didn’t think that we would make it. 

There was just no way.
Too much damage had been done.
The betrayal was too deep.

Every single day, I feared that John was going to come home and say, “Shannon, I can’t do this anymore, it’s too hard, it hurts too much and I’m too tired.”

He had every right to leave.
It’s what everyone expected.
It’s what I expected.

Honestly, it would’ve been easier on both of us if he had left –rather than embracing the hard work of restoration. But he didn’t…

He chose to stay.
He chose to forgive.
He chose to rebuild.

Better than Restored: Hope for hurting marriages. Restoration in marriage is hard work, but if you'll take the steps necessary you will obtain not only full restoration, you'll be better than restored!

My husband and I embraced the difficult work of restoration 5 years ago, and by the grace of God, our marriage is stronger than ever before.

Click here to read the full article.

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