Tag Archives: Jesus

The Strength Of A Woman – 12 Pregnancies in 11 years

Many will say that women are the weaker sex. Many are wrong, some are right. We have our weak moments, ladies, but so often we rise above because we call out to the One through whom we are able to do all things. (Philippians 4:13) Women, we possess a tremendous inner strength that is unlike anything the world has ever seen before or ever will again. If you’re nodding your head right now, you know exactly what I mean. You’ve experienced soul crushing, heart wrenching pain, haven’t you?

I’ll bet you’re wondering about the title. How is it possible to be pregnant 12 times in eleven years? Oh, it is if you’ve had eight miscarriages, three cesareans and are pregnant with your thirteenth baby (the first pregnancy was twins and resulted in a miscarriage). If you’re wondering if “it” ever gets easier. No, the loss of a child is never easy. Time can scab over the wound, but it’s not fully healed for a long time. Every time I give birth to just one baby at a time, I mourn the loss of my first pregnancy – twins. This isn’t to say I’m not immensely grateful for the children I do hold in my arms. It’s just sad to never have met them or have that situation redeemed in the way I’d like to see it happen. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

There is a plan in everything that God does and I believe it is to strengthen us, to bring us closer to Himself and to break our will without breaking our Spirit. (Isaiah 55:8; Jeremiah 29:11) When my twins died, one at a time, they were six and eight weeks gestation, respectively. My husband shipped out for boot camp the day after we lost the second one. I nearly died from the infection that followed. There were a lot of tears, a lot of silent prayers and a whole lot of moments where all I could do was cry out to God. Was I brought closer to Him? Absolutely. He is Comforter, Friend, Counselor. (Matthew 5:1-12) He has been all those things to my husband, too.

Theresa was conceived three short months after the miscarriage. We all held our breath, wondering if this one would stick. She did! A healthy baby girl was born in the middle of a chaotic night in mid September ten years ago – the very night my husband returned home from his first overseas deployment. I’d went into labor spontaneously at the airport, but didn’t realize I’d been leaking amniotic fluid all day long and the baby was in distress. An emergency cesarean saved her life and brought her fully into mine.

Miscarriage number two happened before Chelsea was born. It was such a blip on our radar because we were preparing for deployment for number 2. We mourned a little together, Anthony and I…and then I watched his ship sail into the horizon and drove home sadly.

Chelsea was born during deployment number three, the following year. Fortunately, my husband was able to stay state-side for the birth (a repeat cesarean, even though I’d gone into spontaneous labor twelve hours earlier and was progressing normally). He was able to fly down to Panama to join his command after the birth. We were really blessed by that extra time together. The healing from the second cesarean took a little longer than we’d anticipated.

Miscarriages number three through five happened all in one year. We have no idea what caused any of these. My guess is a combination of stress and hormonal imbalances? I don’t know. I thought about looking into it, but with my husband deployed every year for six years straight, and raising two little girls on my own, I just didn’t have the heart or the time. My weight, my attitude, poor eating habits and lack of motivation to do much except “get through the days” were all reflective of the deep pain I was feeling inside. Internally, my thought process was “I’m a terrible Mother. God took my babies to punish me. He hates me and wants me to know with certainty that I’m undeserving of anything good.” As you can probably guess, my depression worsened and I wanted to die. (Job 3:11)

Miscarriages six through eight occurred sporadically over the next three years. All were early trimester losses and I never even made it to my first obgyn appointments to see their heartbeats. The bleeding began shortly after receiving positive test results for pregnancy. We mourned those quietly. Most never even knew we’d been pregnant.

Jackson was born on a sunny morning in late May two years ago. When the obgyn was sewing up my cesarean wound, he remarked that he’d also removed a fair amount of scar tissue from my uterus. He stated that this would make the next pregnancy easier, more successful. At the time, it was little consolation to me. I wasn’t sure I would ever want to have another child again. Three cesareans was enough to break my spirit just a little more. Not only couldn’t I carry most of my babies past the first trimester, my body also couldn’t give birth. A mix of joy over the birth of our first boy and sorrow over the loss of ever being able to give birth vaginally crashed over me like tidal waves. As I healed physically from the surgery, I suffered moments of regret so intense I truly believed that I didn’t deserve any of my children. My best childhood friend had just given birth to her third baby vaginally, unmedicated not long before I had Jackson, and I couldn’t even birth one that way. What kind of Mother fails her baby in the most basic way? I wondered, “would I ever give birth ‘the right way’?”

Flash forward to about a month ago, and I finally had my answer to so many questions I’d been asking myself for years. While filling out a birth plan form for an obgyn, I had this funny feeling that I should not be checking the boxes for a repeat cesarean. It’s difficult to describe just what was going through my mind, because I truly don’t believe the thoughts came from within my own head – they were divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit. As I read off the option of “I would like a mirror placed at the end of the bed so that I can see my baby being born,” I thought “well, that would be nice!”  I didn’t check it off. I knew it wasn’t a possibility for me. No one does a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) after three. Or do they? (They do! Read ACOG Guidelines here!)

Something sparked inside of me, and I looked around on YouTube and Facebook for a support group or some sort of advice. Was it possible? Could I dare to dream? I found a local VBAC support group and read about a miracle VBAC doctor. He’d recently, successfully completed a VBA3C at a local hospital.  My heart beat violently inside of my chest and my eyes turned toward the hills, as I prayed silently “Lord, could this be me? Could I be one of those women who boasts about the miracle You have done within them?” A little research and a whole lot of prayer later, I was on the phone with a hospital administrator who is not only VBAC friendly, but was encouraging me to go for a VBAC. I took her advice and ran with it. As soon as I got off the phone with her, I called the miracle doctor and made an appointment.

Flash forward to today, I am on my way to a VBA3C (Vaginal Birth After 3 Cesareans). The miracle doctor encouraged me to get a volunteer doula and to take childbirth classes. I’ve done both and I have to say, I’ve never been more encouraged or felt more supported while pregnant. I have the only male doula in my area, and while some would balk at that, I say “puh! You don’t know what you’re missing!” He’s a great source of support for both my husband and me. I’m also able to meet with the midwife at my doctor’s office for most of my prenatal visits (though it will be the miracle doctor who delivers Isaiah). Midwives are an amazing source of encouragement and support, too. How vastly different, how divinely blessed is this pregnancy! I cannot thank the LORD enough! I cannot praise Him enough! Every day, I’m waking up and thanking Him for this day. No matter what stress is going on in my life, it’s still a good day. I’m one day closer to my very first vaginal birth. One day closer to restoration. (Joel 2:25)

God is good. I know I can endure great suffering because God is right there in the midst of it with me, strengthening me. (Romans 5:3)

There are so many resources out there that now tote the dangers of repeat cesareans and give hope to the possibility of VBACs after multiple cesareans. You are not stuck in a repeat cesarean. You can switch providers! You can do this! (More ACOG support!) Call your local hospital, ask about their policies and ask to speak with the VBAC friendly nurse or doctor. Be firm, and remind the hospital that policy is not law. (Don’t be rude, though!) You have to advocate for yourself, decide in your mind that you can do this, and then run with it, no matter what anyone says. Keep looking for the VBAC friendly doctor – that miracle doctor out of hundreds that will say yes even after everyone else says no. (You’re going to find that most of these doctors are classically trained, so expect an older doctor. Not always, but often.)

There is great pain in child loss, in miscarriage, in infertility, in birth plans not going the way we’d hoped. There is also great healing to be found when we take our pain straight into the arms of Christ. He is knitting solutions into the problems we never knew we had.

Lord, I lift up to You the pain of others who also have suffered pregnancy loss. I lift up those who have lost infants and children young and old. You are good. You are capable of comforting, of healing and restoring. Thank You for never leaving any of us in our time of need. We love You, LORD. All Glory, Praise and Honor go to You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

 

There’s a Plank In Your Eye, Miss!

“Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Matthew 7:1-3 ESV

Ah…this scripture. I love it and yet…I find that it drives a stake right into my heart every time I read it. Yes, it kills the monster in me that just want to scream “You’re a fool!” to some random person. You see, I can’t do that because I’m a fool, too.

We all are going to make mistakes daily. We’re all struggling in some way to do something right all the time, but we’re never going to reach perfection. We’re not God. We are called to sharpen our brothers and sisters by gently rebuking them, redirecting their attention to the scriptures and by praying for them, but we are never called to monitor their every move in order to harshly judge them or call them a fool. Search your hearts, brothers and sisters. You may not be doing exactly that, but there may be something similar going on in your life right now and you…as well as I, need to stop it right now.

We are not loving our neighbor when we’re people watching only to create websites that display the foolishness of humanity. ( Yes, I’m talking to you, People of Wal-Mart.) We are not loving our neighbor when we call out their insecurities and make fun of them for it. We are not loving our neighbor when we feign friendship only to gain insight for scholarly gain. (Term papers, social studies, etc.) And we are certainly not loving our neighbor when we’re consistently, without love, calling out our neighbor for mistakes they’ve made in life. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all done some variation of this. We have to check our hearts, folks. If we’re not correcting out of love and concern for their souls, we’re judging harshly and inappropriately. Check your heart and then lead your heart.

Most of us will naturally become annoyed with anyone with whom we’ve spent too much time. We’ll step on each others’ toes and make silly mistakes that don’t feel silly. They’ll hurt feelings. We’ll intimately get to know our neighbor and yes, we’ll discover hot buttons that when pressed, will create deep wounds. We are not to take advantage of this, or even use this to “correct” our neighbor when we finally find out “what’s wrong with them.” Chances are that whatever “issue” you are finding fault with in your neighbor is more your problem than theirs. We will see our own issues and insecurities manifest themselves in others when that is what we’re placing our focus on. Regain focus. Look to Jesus and pray for your own heart, then look back to your neighbor with a heart full of Grace and love. What do you see? If it’s not a person made righteous by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, then you’re going to need to look away again and refocus your eyes and your heart on Jesus before you can safely (without sin) look at your neighbor again.

I am speaking to you, too…self. I am having such a problem with this issue as well. I really struggle with making harsh judgments towards those with whom I am spending too much time. God has placed my family in an interesting and sometimes extremely uncomfortable situation right now. I’m learning that God doesn’t care too much about my own comfort as He sets my heart right.I am very grateful for this and that He checks my motives before giving me the desires of my heart!

Jesus has already died to set you free. You are no longer a sinner, but a saint. (read: 1 Corinthians 1:2) You are made perfect in God’s eyes because Jesus absorbed all of your punishment on the cross. (read: 2 Corinthians 5:21) We are not called to obey the law in order to retain our salvation. (read: Matthew 5:17) We’re called to obey the law out of love. (read: Romans 13:10) We need to live this out every day, to the best of our ability. When we can’t or don’t, there is grace. Please don’t abuse that! (read: Romans 6) We are all in need of grace. None of us are in competition with anyone else for our salvation. We already have it. Just look to Christ to grow you and mature you more each day. You can do this! God has equipped you with everything you need.

Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father, we come to You boldly, in the name of Your son, Jesus. We thank You for the Holy Spirit that loves us and guides us. We ask that You would make us sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Help us to hear it more clearly and know when we’re making harsh judgements and when we’re truly seeking to correct or rebuke a brother or sister out of love. Help us to focus first on You, Lord and correct our behaviors, thoughts and attitudes before we even dare to look to others. Thank You for growing us and for fulfilling Your word that You began a good work in us and You will see it to completion. We confess that sometimes we don’t trust that. Sometimes we also try to do things on our own and that leads to burnout. We get frustrated with ourselves and become critical of others. Our focus is lost and we sin against You by sinning against Your children. We are sorry and we humbly repent, admitting that all sin is against You and Your will for our lives. Thank You for Jesus who has borne our sin and those of our neighbors as well. Fill our hearts with Your love as we reset our focus back onto You and away from idols and sin. In Jesus’ Holy and perfect name we pray. Amen.

 

The Tirado 5, hours after Jackson was born.

Then and Now {Praise Him}

Have you ever looked back to the worst moment in your whole entire life and then looked around you at your present life? Can you see an immense difference between the two moments in time? This morning, as I was holding my son, I did just that. As I attempted to count my blessings, I found that I could not, for they are far too numerous. That realization caused me to stop everything I was doing (other than breastfeeding) and just praise God for His mercy and grace. He delivered me from what once felt like the pits of Hell. I cannot even begin to fathom how different the world would be without my kids. You see, the worst moment in my life is the moment I was pronounced dead at age 16 during a suicide attempt. I had totally given up on life because I figured that everyone who mattered had already given up on me. I was wrong. God had not given up.

At age 16, there was no way that I could even begin to fathom that my life would work out to what it is right now. I married my high school sweetheart. We have been together now nearly 20 years. We have two beautiful daughters and a very handsome infant son. I survived military life (which almost killed both of us) and I have spent years teaching Sunday school, working with kids – including special needs children. I’ve traveled to and lived in several different states and I’ve met people from all over the world. I have a great life, despite our struggles. None of this would’ve happened had God given up on me.

1997
Anthony and I in 1997, shortly after we became a couple and not too long before my suicide attempt that nearly took my life.

You see, when we’re at our worst moments and we don’t even have the strength to call on God or to acknowledge His existence, He’s still there anyway, saving us from the Enemy. He knows we have a purpose long before we know we do.

I did not call on God that day until the bitter end. I called on Him to bring me Home – to Heaven. He said “later” and sent me back to the World. Initially, I was outraged by the outcome of a failed suicide attempt. Now, I am praising Him for it. I cannot imagine a better life than the one He has given me.

 To all who mourn in Israel he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.

Isaiah 61::3 TLB

The Tirado 5, hours after Jackson was born.
The Tirado 5

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.

Psalm 23:5 NLT

Let’s Pray: Lord, we thank You for the blessings You’ve bestowed upon us. We have experienced such intense moments of weakness that we could not even call out to You, but You in Your infinite Mercy came to our rescue anyway. You have replaced our mourning with joy and songs of Praise. All Honor and Glory rightly belongs to you, O Lord. How we love Your ways! In Jesus’ Name we Praise You. Amen.

How has God come to your rescue in moments of weakness? Has your life turned out better than you ever thought it could? In what ways?

God Bless You {Food, housing insecurity}

For the last several years, Anthony and I have struggled so hard with money, attempting to get back on the same page with finances, make ends meet, put food on the table, pay down debts…that we’ve often missed the boat and continue to struggle harder. We rarely have food security. There are entire weeks each month where we have to carefully ration food  to make sure everyone eats 3 meals a day. I cringe hearing my kids tell me they’re hungry because I don’t know if I can make our food last to the end of the month if I give them one more snack in between meals.

Most months we run out of gas money too early. We have to borrow. It’s soul crushing to ask more than once.

Every month we have to watch our bills pile up, debts increasing because we just don’t enough money to pay everyone. It grates on our nerves, threatens to break us. Yet we know – somehow we have more than enough.

I remember once walking through the grocery store helping a friend shop for her family. I hadn’t eaten a full meal in days.  I desperately wanted to grab some fruit, crackers, cheese – anything really – off the shelves, run to a secret corner somewhere and devour the food like a wild animal. I was so desperate for food. I’d been pretending to eat at home, but there wasn’t enough food to go around, so I was saving my share for my husband and kids. I count them as better than myself.

I didn’t steal food that day and I never told my friend how hungry I was. Not too long later, she surprised me with a grocery cart full of food that she’d paid for. It was a gift for my family that she’d felt compelled to give. My faithfulness was being rewarded – for lack of a better term. I’d not grown weary in doing good. The Lord provided.

We are facing similar (but not the same) issues right now. I feel tired – exhausted, really. Every day I wonder when the glass floor will shatter, so to speak, and we’ll be knocked off our feet and lose everything. I know if we remain faithful the Lord will provide. We will not ever need to lie, steal or cheat in order to provide for our family. I pray continually that the Lord will give us wisdom to use our resources wisely. Sometimes I fear we’ll never get it right. We are trying and we are praying. So much is coming at us so fast that it seems like we’ll never float – we’re always fighting not to drown.

We won’t drown. The Lord knows our needs. He will provide.

I share this to encourage anyone else facing the same or similar situation. There’s no shame in asking for help, especially when you have kids. You are going to get through this. So are we.

We’ve been selling extra items, Anthony’s taken on extra hours at work, I’ve worked briefly in the past (but had to quit to save money). We’re cutting expenses left and right and always looking for more ways to do so. Nothing sticks for long. We pray about finances a lot, never wanting to burden anyone else.  This is our problem. Except that it’s not just our problem. It’s a problem millions of people face each day in our country and so many of us pretend we’re alone in this, not wanting to burden anyone else, not wanting to share our shame. We’re afraid that people will think less of us. What does it matter if someone thinks less of us because we’re struggling? Isn’t that indicative of a larger problem within themselves, rather than with us?

We can hold our heads high and continue to look to the Lord for help. Our help does come from the Lord. He is ever present in our time of need and in our time of rejoicing. He can be trusted with all that we are going through, good and bad. Won’t you take some time to share your burdens with Him today?

Remember: Do not grow weary in doing good.  God sees you. He has not left you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will supply all your needs. Have faith and rest in Him.

God bless you, Brothers and Sisters.

An Open Letter to My Unborn Son {Jackson Henry Aaron}

15 weeks
Jackson Henry Aaron due May 27, 2015

Dear Jackson,

For you son, we have prayed fervently. God has blessed us with your conception. I’m looking forward to the day when I can hold you in my arms and kiss your head as I praise God for bringing you into my life. Your father will do the same thing, as will your sisters, grandparents and all who meet you. You are a blessing son. I pray that you never forget how important, loved and blessed you are. May God bless you and keep you safe all the days of your life.

Your sisters, Theresa and Chelsea are so excited to meet you. They’ve been singing songs about you since the day we told them we’re expecting you (September 21st, 2014). They don’t really understand that May 27th is a ways off, but they’re eagerly awaiting your arrival. They’ve been praying for you, too.

There has never been a moment when we haven’t wanted you, or wondered if you should be a part of our family. You were always wanted. You have always been loved.

Before you were conceived, several of your brothers and sisters were born into Heaven. You and your sisters currently have more siblings born into Heaven than you do here on earth to embrace. I often wonder if you kids played with them before coming here to earth. That is one of life’s great mysteries. Someday, when I meet God in Heaven, I’d like to ask Him. I know your brothers and sisters were beautiful because they were a gift from God – a blessing. I know I will meet them someday and embrace them. I thank God for their lives, short as they were. I thank God for your life, and for your sister’s lives as well.

Little one, you are strong! I have felt your kicks and barrel rolls since week twelve of pregnancy. At first, they felt like tiny flutters and now, they tend to feel more like a mighty warrior, looking for the exit. Sometimes I wonder if you haven’t mistaken my bladder for a bouncy house. I have a feeling you’re really going to enjoy those someday. 😉

I wonder what you’re going to look like and what your interests will be. Your dad and I keep going back and forth about whether you’ll be a football player, a soccer player or a baseball player. I wonder if you’ll be a mighty preacher, a lawyer who stands up for civil rights, or something else. We have big dreams for you, but we also know you’re going to have to make up your own mind about a career, based on your relationship with Christ. We trust Him to direct your steps and ours as well as we raise you in the Church and in relation with Him.

Jackson, you’ll never be able to meet your aunt Melissa, great-grandpa Tom, or great grandmothers Verla and Mary Jane (among many, many other deceased family members) but I want you to know that they’ve already influenced your future in so many way, just as we will, who are still here among your earthly relatives. You see, you’re part of a beautiful legacy of God’s people. We’re a little broken, a little silly, and a lot hopeful for full restoration among God’s creation. We’re all part of the foundation for yours and your sister’s future. Our stories, woven together create a beautiful tapestry that can help lead back to God if you allow it. There are stories of triumph, wisdom, love, death, sadness, sin, and foolishness. There are stories of victory and joy. There are stories that will help you understand the importance of hard work, loyalty and friendship to your fellow-man. Some stories will inspire, some will make you cringe, but all are part of the beautiful tapestry. All are important for you know.

More than anything dear Jackson, I just want you to trust God and love Him with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul and love your neighbor as you love yourself. That is my greatest prayer for you, my son. I also want you to know that there is nothing you can do to separate yourself from the love of God or from the love of your father and I. You are our son and you are first and foremost, God’s beautiful, beloved creation. We’ll see you soon, Son.

With love,

Mommy

The Root of Sin {My A-ha! Moment}

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about coming into a closer relationship with Christ. For years I’ve desired a closer relationship with Him, but haven’t really been willing to put in the work. You see, I really, really enjoy living in comfort. Pain isn’t all that enjoyable for me (who is it enjoyable for, really?) and I’ve worked hard to avoid it at all costs. This has included isolating myself from outsiders, hiding away in a closed room when I’ve sinned, refraining from prayer (what if God actually knew what I was thinking?) and running away from Christians whom I perceive as better than myself. (Afterall, I don’t need more reasons to feel bad about myself. I already know I’m a sinner!)

One of the biggest a-ha(!) moments I’ve had lately is that I sin because I don’t fully trust God. I want to do a lot of things on my own in order to earn my own salvation and please God. In his award-winning book Jesus Is, Judah Smith tackles this very subject. After relaying the story of the prodigal son, Smith reminds us that we’re often like children who want to earn our salvation, but we are never able to. Smith likens this attitude to a child who walks up to his father and says that he suddenly doesn’t deserve to be his son anymore. How asinine! The son has never been able to earn his place in the family. He did not choose his position in the family. The father did. Can you see the correlation between us trying to earn salvation and God having already chosen it for us? There is nothing we can do to earn it. God has already provided it for us. Why shouldn’t we trust Him and show our gratefulness to Him through obedience and trust? God has done nothing to harm us.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in the book of Romans, chapter 14, verse 23 that “Whatever is not from faith is sin.” (John Piper has an excellent sermon recorded on the website Desiring God on this very subject. I suggest you read it as soon as you’re able. It’s very compelling.) Paul is correct. When we’re not acting out of faith, we’re going to sin. When we trust ourselves to make “good” and “moral” decisions, we’re often caught in the throes of sin. Even the best of us make some pretty poor decisions sometimes. This grieves God, yet He’s not surprised by it.

Beth Moore has written a fabulous, life changing book entitled When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. In it, Moore discusses the spiritual battle behind our sin. I’ll admit I’m not yet finished with the book, as I’m reading it slowly and intentionally. I’m often so moved by her words that I find myself setting the book down and picking up my Bible to pair the passage with corresponding scripture. This has led to a deeper relationship with Christ and understanding of my own human nature. I’ve also come to understand the spiritual war behind sin and just how deceitful Satan is. God is so much more powerful, thankfully.

As I come to understand how Satan knocks us down and brings the seduction of sin to us, I find myself becoming more vigilant, more repentant, more eager to enter into deeper relationship with Christ. I want to trust Him more because I see, finally, how much more He has done for me than I could ever do for Him. I see the folly in trying to please a God that has given me everything I could ever and will ever need. He has already defeated Satan. He has already promised everlasting life. He has already promised victory over sin. I simply need to obey.

There is so little that I feel I can say on this subject because Christ has said and done it all. He came to earth as a little child to live among us and minister to us. He sacrificed His life for us. He conquered death for us. He rose to Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I did none of these things. What more could I possibly say to persuade you or even myself to repent from sin and trust Christ with your life and your witness? He has done it. He has spoken. He was walked the walk to match the talk. I’m just working on it. Still.

Bullying From Both Sides {Homosexuality Debate}

It is possible to disagree with someone and still respect them. The “homosexuality is OK” camp is really deep into bullying anyone who disagrees with them, slinging names like “bigot” and “ignorant”. Conversely, the “homosexuality is a sin camp” tends to do the same.

Folks:  no one can hear you if you’re screaming and bullying. It defeats the purpose of the discussion. In the end, what does it really teach our kids anyway? That they no longer have to mind their manners and be respectful of others because their personal agenda is too important? How sad.

We can separate all sin from the individual person and love them anyway. My kids have told lies to me and I hate the lies, but I love my children. God feels the same about sin. We don’t need to bash each other for our beliefs.

If you’re placing your identity in your sexuality, think about this: have you ever told a lie? Well, then you’re a Liar. Do you want to go around with that label hanging over you your entire life? No? Then why would you walk around with the label of homosexual hanging over you? You don’t need to carry that sin on your shoulders.

Labeling ourselves by our sin is dangerous. Even Christ does not do that. He has taken our punishment and in turn He calls us Beloved. That is our identity. Turn from your sins and repent. There is One who is waiting to receive you.

Liars in the Church and Gossip from the Pulpit

Have you ever had a really negative experience in church? One that left a bad taste in your mouth and caused you to run away, never to look back? I have. Many times. In fact, as I’ve been doing research on this topic, I’m finding many resources that suggest as much as 74% of the population currently doesn’t find church a satisfying or necessary use of their time. That’s 3/4 of our population. What is happening, folks?

Speaking from personal experience, there have been several churches and at least 5 major denominations that I’ve closed the door on in the last ten years. I’ve simply not found the Pastor’s sermons to contain the Truth or shed Light on any darkness in the world. In fact, many times, the behaviors and preaching of the Pastor, elders and deacons have perpetuated it, leading me off the path that Jesus intended me to be on.

If we’re speaking the name of Jesus and the Word of God, we’re bringing Light into the world, as God intended us to do.

For more than 23 years, I attended what is now openly touted “liberal and accepting churches where all of God’s people are welcome.” Except that you’re not really welcome unless you’re willing and able to denounce any portion of the Word of God that causes any member of society to feel uncomfortable. What you’re left with is just a few vague ideas that Jesus is a nice man, in a group of other nice men who did nice things for many people as often as they were able to. And oh, by the way, the name “Jesus” is now expected to be interchangeable with Buddha, Allah, and any other god that someone might want to worship. We can’t allow anyone to feel left out, can we?

In many churches, calling anything other than murder and adultery a sin is a serious offense. You may be asked to leave the church entirely. I was asked to leave a church last year because I called homosexuality a sin during a Bible study. I’d explained that we are called to love sinners, but hate sin. This was a major no-no in their eyes. (I’m glad I left, and I wish I would have done so sooner. I’m in a great church now.)

In a few churches I’ve attended, it’s openly believed (and preached!) that there are “in fact” at least 18 genders, which “explains” the varying degrees of homosexuality. When I’ve asked for an explanation from the Bible in regards to this belief, no one has ever been to offer one. There is no explanation for this belief. It’s an outright lie.

I’ve heard it preached many times that all religions come from God, converging neatly “somewhere in the middle”, though it’s never been clearly explained where or how. The services in churches who preach this idea consist of a meshing of practices from Buddhism, Islam and Judaism. Christianity and preaching the Word of God is lost in this tangled mess of “one world religion.” The idea of  one world religion is preached often in liberal churches as a means to bring about unity and peace amongst the community, but turning from God’s Word can never bring true and lasting peace. Jesus made it clear that He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Light. All other gods are false.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Matthew 10:34 (NIV)

In other churches that I’ve attended, weekly sermons consist of openly discussing the trials and tribulations of local law enforcement, clergy from neighboring churches, and community members with whom the preacher is acquainted. You need not wonder whether or not the preacher is talking about someone you know. He or she will be glad to give names, and freely does during his/her sermons. You may be persuaded to stand against certain people or to take action against a particular political stance “in the name of God.” Don’t drink the Kool-Aid, Brothers and Sisters. You’re being deceived.

Brothers and sisters, this type of behavior is deplorable and it has got to stop! I’ve personally experienced this type of behavior from Pastors and Priests in more than ten different churches in three different states and have heard stories from more than a dozen people who have had similar experiences.  Many more testimonies are readily available online that corroborate what I’ve laid out here today. What I want to know is why are we still burdened with this inappropriate and offensive style of preaching? Can we even refer to it as preaching?

The first time I heard a sermon that shook me to repentance, I was in Lake Stevens, Washington. The moment I stepped out of my car and onto the pavement outside this church, I knew I needed to pray. Something big was about to happen. I was right.

As soon as the sermon started at this new church, I pulled out my Bible. I was going to catch this Pastor in a lie and prove that there was no good church anywhere. If this sermon didn’t work out, I was going to leave church for a while. I’d attended more than 10 churches in three years, trying to find the right one.  Pastor “M” had me flipping through my Bible all throughout that amazing sermon. He did not stray from the Word of God once. I was blown away. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I got chills. I can’t remember exactly how many times Jesus’ name was spoken that day, but I do remember that it was more times than I’d ever heard His name called out in any other church I’d ever been to. I stayed at that church until Pastor “M” left a year and a half later. I still miss his preaching. He was the real deal. Our souls were fed and nourished. Sin was called sin, mercy was administered. Healing happened faster than we were prepared for it to. We called on the name of Jesus because He was alive and working through our church family, especially our Pastor.

Pastor “M” isn’t the only Pastor I’ve met who has preached this way, but he was the first in my then twenty-six years of attending church. I’d almost given up, but then I found the Light being shone through the darkness. I share this with you to encourage you, Brothers and Sisters. You can not only walk away from a Liar and a Gossip, but you can seek the Truth and you will find it. Do not lose heart. Do not weary of doing what is right. God has not forsaken you and He has never left you.

We cannot stand idly by while those entrusted to lead congregations spew lies and spread Gossip from the pulpit. We have to call it out as we see it, Brothers and Sisters. We have to leave bad churches in search of better ones. 

Speaking Out Against Our Kids Practicing Yoga at School

Today, we found out that our daughters’ school is now teaching yoga for physical education. Tonight I had the difficult task of emailing our daughters’ teachers and principals and firmly request that our girls not be involved in any way with yoga on school grounds. I don’t know how this will pan out on their end. On mine, this is a non-negotiable issue.

I feel the need to speak out against the dangerous practice of yoga, as it is far from God honoring. While Yoga is indeed on the surface, a set of wonderful physical stretches and breathing techniques, we need to dig a lot deeper, back to the roots of Yoga, in India.

Yoga is an ancient Hindu spiritual practice that guides an individual to self-realization through meditation, breathing techniques and both physical and spiritual discipline. It’s a self-serving practice that opens the door to a spiritual realm that is not associated with Christianity, but to Satan himself.

One of the main beliefs in Yoga is that everything is god and in everything there is god. There is no distinction between God and man. While the practice of yoga appears to be a deeply spiritual practice, it is not. Yogis and their followers seek only to worship oneself, by opening the “third eye” and enlightening oneself to the point of “self-realization.”

We already are self-realized. Look in the mirror. There you are! 😉

Seriously though, even the Hatha practice of yoga, which is a physical form of yoga with a light smattering of spirituality, still opens the door for one to dig deeper into the “New Age” practice of yoga. With other ancient practices like Integral, Iyengar, Jivamukti, Kripalu, Kundalini, and several others delving deep into denial of God’s ultimate existence and refusal to acknowledge humanity’s sinfulness and Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, yoga is a practice that we simply cannot tolerate our children to participate in. It’s a slippery slope. Why take that darkened, slippery path to Hell when Christ has so brightly lit a better one for us, Brothers and Sisters? I’m not saying it’s a guarantee we’ll go to hell for practicing yoga, but rather that it’s one in a series of mortal sins that carries that risk that we’ll love serving ourselves so much, we’ll turn eternally from God. We need to turn eternally from Yoga.

Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older, he will remain upon it.

Proverbs 22:6 (TLB)

Current media has done a fabulous job of providing a smoke screen as to what yoga “really is” and how it can make your life “more fulfilling.” Everywhere we look, we see messages of peace and tolerance. You’re either for it, or against it, the mainstream claims.

I’m all for peace, but yoga is a practice I simply cannot tolerate, like rape, murder, dishonesty, coveting, theft…you get the idea.

We are God’s children and we are called to live in the Light! We are called to die to self and serve God! We are called to find ourselves in Christ. We are God’s beloved children, bought with a price and adopted into His family. Christ died for us so that we may eternally live with Him and our Father in Heaven. That is the ultimate sacrifice. Not veganism, self denial or poverty. Earth is not all we have. We are not god and we’re not called to be Him.

If you’re still wanting to know more about the dangers of Yoga and the Christian response to it, I’ve provided some lovely links for you. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, and I encourage you to seek out more if you’re still interested.

We would love your prayers as we navigate this tricky and touchy issue with our daughters’ school. Have a great day and God bless you, Brothers and Sisters!

In Christ,

Mandy T. 🙂

The following link is a beautiful and painful testimony as to how a woman fell far from God at a young age after being introduced to yoga by her mother at age 7, and many years later, found her way back to Him again. I hope you’ll take some time to read it before commenting on this post, either positively or negatively.  http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2005/march/truth-about-yoga.html?start=1

The Different Types of Yoga: http://www.matsmatsmats.com/yoga/yoga-disciplines.html

What is the Christian View of Yoga? http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-yoga.html