No Matter Your Defects, God Can Use You!

No Matter Your Defects, God Can Use You!

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

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“Oh, stink!”, I grumbled to myself as I pulled my wilted produce out of the refrigerator. I needed to make a batch of baby food, but I’d put it off too long and now my green beans, cauliflower, and zucchini were looking past their prime. I’m not sure if they would have even been sold in their condition if they were sitting on the shelf at the market.

I decided to go ahead and use them though. As I was snapping, and washing, and chopping, I couldn’t help but feel like those veggies- worn out and less than. Life had felt a little overwhelming and was only starting to spin faster. I was feeling guilty about all of the ways I wasn’t measuring up to my expectations.

The vegetables turned into a delicious puree that my baby loved. She didn’t know or care that the veggies didn’t look their best when I used them. Isn’t God able to use us in the same way? Couldn’t He still use me to be a loving and caring mother? Time and time again the Bible tells us of when God used someone who was “less than” do something great.

God Can Use You!

Just this morning I was reading about when God called Gideon to save Israel from the Midianites.

“But Lord,” Gideon asked, “How can i save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all of the Midianites together.”

(Judges 6:15-16)

For God’s Glory

God’s plan for Gideon was less about Gideon, and more about showing mercy to his children. Perhaps that’s why God likes to use the ones who feel like they don’t measure up. The truth is that all of us are blemished with sins and shortcomings. Even the strongest among us still need God. The arrogant ones take the credit, the humble ones know it’s only through God they can do great things.

Gideon’s story was centered around God’s glory. God wanted to make sure Israel would see that it was He who saved them. God sent home more and more men from their army so that Gideon had only 300 men with him to attack their enemy. God gave Israel their victory through Gideon, but make no mistake, it was the work of Lord not of man.

As a wife and mother I fall short in many ways, but I don’t want my story to be about me. Like Gideon, I want my story to be a reflection of God’s glory. With his help I can do great things, but not for the purpose of fulfilling my own superficial expectations. No, with his help, even though I am selfish I can offer life to my family in the way I tend to their needs and build our home. It is for the glory of his kingdom, not mine.

Take the pressure off of yourself to perform and decide to let God work in you. Let your story be about showing God’s grace and mercy to others. Let your story be about Him. Pray continually. Read the scriptures. Listen. Obey. Let him take you from wilted veggies to a yummy puree! No matter your defects, God can use you!

 

God Answered a Prayer that I Did Not Mean to Pray

God Answered a Prayer that I Did Not Mean to Pray

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

I sit here in awe of God, once again, as I remember how God answered a prayer that I did not mean to pray!

How He Answered a Prayer that I Did Not Mean to Pray

What actually happened was that my heart and body called out to God because I had no idea what we would do. For the first time in my life when finding out I was pregnant, my heart sank, I balled my eyes out, fell to my knees, and cried out to God:

Now? What are we going to do? God my husband still doesn’t have a job! I can’t handle another c-section. 

Please don’t misunderstand. I was not upset about the beautiful life growing inside me. It had just been a loooong 17 months. We had been taking care of my husband’s grandmother and my husband had not worked that whole time.

Not only that but not three weeks prior I had gotten rid of practically all of our baby items including clothes. So the things “we needed” we no longer had and there was no job available to provide for it.

And the c-section. That 4th c-section in conjunction with Diastasis Recti had taken so long to overcome that I did not want to have another one. I was told by my current OB/GYN that I could have up to 8 c-sections, but I knew there would be a price to pay for doing that.

God’s Gentle Reminder

In the midst of my ugly cry, I felt God say,

“Have I not taken care of you?”

That was enough to calm my spirit. God had definitely taken care of us for the year that we had been taking care of my husband’s grandmother. Actually, he had been taking care of us our whole lives!

So armed with that reminder, I dried my tears and asked God to help me trust Him.  Never realizing that he would answer something in that prayer that my heart longed for but my brain would no longer dare to ask.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:25-26

Two Weeks Later God’s Answers the 1st Part of My Prayer

Within two weeks, my husband had two job offers!  One was within two hours of where we lived and was my top choice. The other was in a place that I had been to decades before but sadly, all I could remember about it was counting the roadkill as we drove into town.

After visiting both cities with my husband and praying about them, I was overcome with another ugly cry.

Apparently, my 5th pregnancy was filled with lots of ugly crying!  Lol!

I knew in that moment that God wanted us in the city that was four and a half hours away and lined with roadkill!

God always has a plan. Sometimes we see some of the “whys” immediately and sometimes we do not.

Within a Month – Surprised with Gifts!

Upon learning that I was pregnant again, friends reached out to me and gifted our family baby items they no longer needed. From a car seat to a breast pump to clothes to cloth diapers to a jumper, all the basics that we needed were taken care of. Once again, God was reminding me that he would provide.

Every time I use one of the items gifted to us, I say a prayer of thanks to God and for those who shared their blessings with us.

Within 6 Months – The Prayer I Didn’t Mean to Pray Was Answered

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect God to work things out the way He did after we moved to Texas.

The quest for a doctor to deliver our precious daughter began. Within a few weeks, a hope began to rise that I never thought was possible. A midwife had told me about a doctor in Denton, TX that specialized in Vaginal Births After Cesareans (VBACS) after multiple c-sections!

God was answering the prayer for which my logical mind couldn’t even ask. I didn’t dare ask because I knew it was impossible. But God isn’t limited by the impossible!

No hospital in Oklahoma, that I knew of, would perform a VBAC after having 4 c-sections. Yet, here, in another state that God had sent us to, there was a man who was willing.

I sent my records over to this OB/GYN hoping and praying that he would accept me as his patient.

At 35 weeks, with eagerness and cautiousness, I saw Dr. Cummings for the first time. After discussing in depth with him my desire, past medical history, and my understanding of the complications, he agreed to allow me to not only be his patient but to have a natural birth. I was going to get my VBAC4!

I must stop here and explain before continuing. 

It was my greatest desire from my first pregnancy to have a natural birth. I know c-sections are needed in some cases, but after having so many, I have to admit that it takes a toll on the body. It is major surgery. Our bodies were not made to be cut open again and again and again and again.

Every time, recovery was a little harder. Every time, my longing to be able to have a child the way God intended grew, but with every c-section my hope faded away until God made it happen! 

God Made It Happen

On June 16, 2017, our family welcomed a beautiful baby girl into our family. We would have rejoiced even if I had another c-section, but we were in awe of God rose up a doctor who loved him and believed with all his heart that God made women’s bodies to give birth.

He was humble and trusted God through the whole process and clearly stated this when I asked him,

“Why? Why do you choose to do this when other doctors won’t?”

His answer was simple. He said,

“I’m a believer. And I believe God made women’s bodies to birth babies. I’m just here to help them along.”

Now, I have a bold new prayer!

I pray that God will raise up more OB/GYNs like Dr. Cummings. He is one man. He cannot do it all and there are many of us, who know our bodies can deliver a child the way God intended, even after having a c-section. We want the chance to have a natural birth. We want hospitals to allow this to happen. And so I pray with all my heart that other doctors will trust God the way Dr. Cummings has trusted God. I pray that with a humble spirit they will be willing to wait for a woman’s body to give birth, encourage the mother to wait for God’s perfect timing in when their child should enter the world, and be ready to step in when it’s necessary.

Being able to have a VBAC4 was a redemptive experience for me. It allowed me to grow closer to God in ways I didn’t realize and brought a new understanding to light, but that is another post.

For now, I’ll just continue to be in awe of how God takes care of each one of us!

 

Romans 12:12 {My Favorite Verse}

Romans 12:12 {My Favorite Verse}

Candace B

Candace B

I am a proud wife and Mother! My hubby, Tyler, and I both attended Oklahoma Christian where our love grew! We got married, had two beautiful kiddos, our son Gunner and daughter Brooklyn, and we are living a truly blessed life! I am a Kindergarten teacher in the great state of Texas and most importantly a Christian. I strive daily to keep God #1 because he is the reason I have all the amazing blessings, I give him all the praise!
Candace B

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My Favorite Verse

Romans 12:12 (NIV) “Rejoice in hope, [be] patient in affliction, [be] faithful in prayer.” 

I think that as I have grown there have been different verses that “speak” to me or become my favorite verse. When I first became a Christian at twelve, I loved John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

I still enjoy this verse. There is something about it that speaks to the world and most people know this verse…which is AWESOME!

I believe there are times that you read the Bible and God speaks to you. Verses that you have read before suddenly have a whole new meaning. We know that God shows us these in times of need, or to get us prepared for something, or to show us someone we can bless with God’s love.

Romans 12:12 has been my favorite verse for about six years now. It reminds me, quite simply, what to focus on and to show Christ in ALL I say and do.

Rejoice in hope:

Hope is something wonderful to have in anything you do! I have been known as the eternal optimist, and I love that. Most importantly I have hope that stems from the life I live in Christ. I have hope, no matter what the cost, no matter how good or bad the situation is. As long as I have hope and faith in God, He will take care of whatever it may be.

Patient in affliction:

I don’t know about you, but this is something I have to pray for daily because I seem to never have enough! Kids, marriage, LIFE, there are so many stresses that require a constant need of patience. This portion of the verse is very powerful, because it shows me that I can show God’s love by being patient.  By being patient, it shows others that I am different, that I am set apart. Christ is shining through me.

Faithful in Prayer:

This should bring it home for all of us. How is your prayer life? I try my best to not only pray daily but have a constant communication with God because this is how we strengthen our relationship with God. How do you strengthen any relationship you have? As a wife, mother, and friend, I make a point to be a part of their life. I have communication with them on a daily basis to show that I love and care for that person.

My husband and I encourage our kids to pray for the sick, the good and bad situations, and also to pray for things that they might be struggling with, such as talking back or throwing a fit when they don’t get their way. When we bring it before God, we are putting our full faith in him that he will help us in whatever we need.

Contributing to the Needs of the Saints

Verse thirteen concludes by adding that Christians should be “contributing to the needs of the saints, [and] practicing hospitality.” I love that this verse solidifies what we have focused on. By focusing on others’ needs and showing love and care to everyone we encounter, we are given daily opportunities to demonstrate how we rejoice in hope, have patience in trials, and are faithful in prayer.

What a wonderful world it would be if we would facilitate love, patience, and hospitality to all we know! Let’s be prayerful and focus on these words that God has gracefully given to us and simply show more of God’s love to all we see.

We want to hear from you!  Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

 

Grief: Mercy in the Abyss

Grief: Mercy in the Abyss

Melissa W
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Melissa W

Melissa is an Okie with a Texas heart. She is a wife and a mother of four. After having taught in the classroom for 8 years, she now happily finds herself as a stay-at-home mom. In any spare time, she enjoys leisure reading and also enjoys writing on her blog (chroniclesofakeeper.com). Out of all the little adventures of life - her greatest joy is found in her relationship with God. Walking in His grace, living in His peace and resting in His redemption is something she is very passionate about sharing with others.
Melissa W
Follow Me

“For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?

But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?

How often–will it be for always?–how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’? The same leg is cut off time after time.”

 

C.S. Lewis

The Barren Land of Grief

The presence of grief is felt thick and its roots are deep in the hidden places of our soul. It is a spiraling entity that immobilizes us and causes us to ache for what once was…or for that which never had been. Grief spirals us into a land barren and unknown.

Where it is lodged secretly, no one knows of its depths. Not even the most intimate of relationships are aware of its overwhelming presence. We find comfort in the pain. We draw strength from the agony, but our light flickers dim as the darkness overtakes every nook and cranny of our grieving being. The comfort and strength gained wanes and becomes our undoing. The grief paralyzes.

“It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.”

Daniel 2:22

We hold tight to our comfortable uncomfortable, as grief has become part of our essence. But He who is light brings out the darkness. Nothing is hidden from His embodiment of knowledge. He sees our grief buried–our secret made known. He sees the darkness that has crept in, the grief that has taken hold. He knows what is in the darkness…and He offers us light.

For the grief-burdened soul, there is hope in the Gospel message.

When brokenness entered that once-perfect garden, it also birthed grief into a once joyful and peaceful place. We often speak of our rescue from sin, of a Savior who died bearing the weight of our iniquities. But do we not also share that the day sin and shame were hurled onto the beaten body of Perfection hanging on a cross, so also was the enormous weight of all that is broken dumped heavily and fully onto the Sacrificial Lamb. Grief, in its complete form, crushed He who was Hope and Joy.

For what?

For the sake of mercy…for the sake of hope and joy complete.

Finding Comfort in Jesus

In knowing that Christ carried our grief fully on the cross, we can now find comfort as He walks through waters dark with us. Knowing that He defeated grief through His death and resurrection, we can now find hope in a rescue from its prison. When our vulnerable bodies can fall onto bruised knee and stretch out shaky hands in surrender, He will meet us in our state of fragility and hold us close. He is the balm that heals our broken heart. His love saturates deep as it fills complete.

“When I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies.”

Sir Thomas Browne

Is that, then, the hope in grief? Are the feelings of emptiness and the bone-deep aches drawing us into His place of mercy? It is then that we find all we lost is recovered that much more in His redemption. Do we dare hope to feel again, laugh again…do we dare hope to live again? Is grace so strong that it restores the soul tattered and torn by grief’s long reign? In the mass of mercies given, there is such an amazing grace.

“When I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies.” - Sir Thomas Brown (3)

A New Perspective

The grace received brings on new perspective. Our grief buried can be His peace resurrected. Letting go is scary and hard. When the pain does not drench into our pores, we feel as if we might have betrayed. But to live is not to forget. Our life for His glory, our sadness for His joy, our emptiness for His fullness–this is when and how He walks in the grief with us. He beckons us close and He breathes life into our soul. We can ache for that which we grieve, because in the aching we can surrender. We surrender our grief to the One who knew the ultimate grief on the cross. So then, we do not abandon grief itself. Instead, we allow it to be made full through His mass of mercies–allow it to draw us deeper into the heart of God.

“The deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering. And out of the deepest waters and the hottest fires have come the deepest things that I know about God.”

 

Elisabeth Elliot

The Lingering Fragrance of Christ

The Lingering Fragrance of Christ

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

What’s your favorite smell?

I have some of my grandma’s perfume. Whenever I take it out and enjoy it’s scent, all these wonderful memories come flooding back.  I feel her warmth and love. Sometimes, the scent alone brings tears to my eyes. She has been gone a long time but her scent still lingers.

The Scent of Jesus that Lingered

I can’t help but think of how Jesus must have smelled the day he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.  Just the day before Mary had poured “about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume” on Jesus feet.  Surely, the scent would have lingered to the next day and been wafted in the air by those who were fanning palm branches, laying the branches down before Him and yelling “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is the King of Israel!”  How that expensive, rare scent must have stood out and made a lasting impression on all those who were in his presence that day!

Who knows maybe the scent even lingered with each step he took towards the cross.  What a beautiful gift Mary gave to Jesus and all those that came in contact with him the days following.  Without knowing it, she was preparing Jesus for the day of His burial just a handful of days away.

John 12:1-8

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him,objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

 

aroma-of-christ-on-earth-1

Jesus’ Fragrance Lingers Today

Christ has been gone from this earth for thousands of years but his scent still lingers today!  Others can smell it through us – his disciples on earth!

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?
2 Corinthians 2:15 -16

Just like Jesus, our life giving actions and words will be a sweet and wondrous smell to all those who accept it and will reek to those who reject it.  No matter how it smells to others, know that it is a pleasing aroma to God and we should be proud to wear this eternal scent. Let us praise His name for all He has done.

2-corinthians-2-15

Prayer Over Our Hearts

Lord, you have given us everything including your One and Only Son!  Through Him we have life and hope everlasting.  You’ve given us the gift of your Holy Spirit to guide us through this life and have even given us the scent of Christ himself!  Praise you, Lord, for all you have done and will continue to do throughout the generations.  May those we reach out to in your name take hold of you and impact generations upon generations for you too!  It is our hope and prayer that we will be a pleasing aroma of Christ to you.  In the One who pleased you with His sacrificial life – Amen!

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The Obedience that Saved

The Obedience that Saved

Melissa W
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Melissa W

Melissa is an Okie with a Texas heart. She is a wife and a mother of four. After having taught in the classroom for 8 years, she now happily finds herself as a stay-at-home mom. In any spare time, she enjoys leisure reading and also enjoys writing on her blog (chroniclesofakeeper.com). Out of all the little adventures of life - her greatest joy is found in her relationship with God. Walking in His grace, living in His peace and resting in His redemption is something she is very passionate about sharing with others.
Melissa W
Follow Me

When reading the scriptures detailing the death of Jesus Christ, believers often acknowledge that they sometimes can be difficult to get through. Yes, our souls celebrate the freedom resulting from that moment, but our hearts also mourn the harshness and pain of it, too.  Jen Wilkin has said, “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.” I get that.  Many times I have read through the scripture’s account of everything from the Last Supper to when Jesus cried out His last breath. For a long time, I didn’t love reading it. I didn’t love the words my eyes took in, because my mind did not understand what was there to see. Reading through those passages now, with a desire and purpose to understand, brings about a new meaning. 

Many things could be written concerning those last moments before the death of Jesus Christ. For this post, I want to focus on the obedience Jesus displayed. Christ’s perfect obedience to His Father is so powerfully and beautifully laid out; I wonder how I never saw it all those years ago.

At the Garden of Gethsemane, we get a glimpse of an intimate moment between Father and Son. We read the words Jesus spoke aloud to His Father:

Going a little farther, He fell face down and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will” Matthew 26:39 (HCSB).

Here we see Him not questioning. Rather, in full perfection, He submits to the rescue plan His good and loving Father had set in place since before the creation of the world. The Son lays down His life to His Father, so that He can then lay it down for ours. 

The beauty of the Son’s perfect obedience, as scripture shows, is ours to soak up and savor. We acknowledge Jesus Christ’s beautiful and wonderful perfection as He lived, walked, suffered, and died in perfect submission to His Father. By reading these passages, I am fully aware that my obedience to God is not contingent on my own strength or capabilities. It is only possible because of and through the perfect submission of Jesus Christ to His Father.

Our lives could never be the perfection as that of Christ’s. He lived the life we could never live and died the death we deserve. But, what a glorious gift — that His obedience brings us hope. What a thing it is that His obedience perfected is ours gifted. What a marvel and joy it is that Christ’s perfect obedience resulted in our redemption.

bonnie & Carole

For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. -Romans 5:19 (HCSB)

For just as through one man's disobedience the many were made sinners,

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