Blog

Perseverance

I am a mother today, finally, because Josh and I were given an amazing opportunity to adopt a beautiful girl from a beautiful young woman.

So many of us are going through so much – putting our bodies through so much – stretching the limits of our sanity.

My message to you today is don’t stop. Don’t give up.

But more importantly – don’t close your mind to opportunity. Listen to your heart. Listen to the world around you.

If you think Yoga will help – do Yoga.

If you think acupuncture might be a solution – do acupuncture.

If you have an opportunity and the means – do it.

Chase it.

Do it.

Just never close your mind. Never close your heart.

Nothing is worth shutting the door on your dream of loving a child.

Nothing.

Read it again – Nothing.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~ James 1:2-4

Devotionals

I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N

What does it mean to be a Christian? It means I am who HE says I am.

Shout out to my 80’s Bible School buddies!  Where’s the s’mores? Did y’all sing this too?
This song just brings joy to my heart. I remember being so proud of myself when I  could sing it and spell it faster and faster right along with my mom and the big kids.

Life was so easy when I was little, living in my little Texas town, where my Daddy was the  preacher and my Momma played the organ every Sunday morning and the piano in the little chapel every Wednesday evening. Wednesday evening church was a favorite of mine because we always sang out of the Cokesbury hymnals. Everything was simpler then. Weekend Revivals were gospel music-filled, Holy Spirit motivated community events with three-legged races and homemade ice cream. I always wondered if it was as magical for the grownups as it was for me. I hope it was. I loved that time in my life.

It’s a different world, and I’m one of the grownups now. Being a Christian is a life I choose to make for myself and for my own children to grow up in. The magic of being a Christian as a grownup is that now I get to experience the renewal of life. I know what it feels like to be called to action by God. I understand WHY those gospel songs are so amazing, and I sing Victory in Jesus at the top of my lungs every chance I get.

So what does it mean to be a Christian, now that I’m a grownup?

I am who HE says I am:

I am a child of God.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. ~ John 1:12
I am renewed.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17
I am redeemed.
And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. ~ Romans 3:24
I am accepted.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. ~Romans 15:7
I am created to do good.
For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God  prepared beforehand so we may do them. ~Ephesians 2:10
I am chosen and dearly loved by God.
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy,  kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. ~ Colossians 3:12

Hallelujah Thine the Glory! Hallelujah Amen! Hallelujah Thine the Glory! REVIVE US AGAIN!

Blog

I’m gonna jump when the Spirit says jump…

It’s so hard to act against fear. Fear wants to keep you backed into a corner of suffocating silence and isolation.

But faith…the exhilaration of even that first tiny step of faith is enough to jolt you out of the grip fear and remove the weight of doubt. Take that step, make that leap, jump when the Spirit says jump! You have the faith, you have the desire, push aside the doubt. There have been times in my life when I have fought against doubt daily, even hourly. You can do it too! You are worth it! Your story, your life, your truth is worth your fight to overcome doubt and walk by faith!

Pray for strength. Pray for guidance to move in the direction of God’s will for your life and He will provide it. He WILL provide it. It’s your time. Right now is your time to love yourself enough to pray for yourself. I’m praying for you!

Get ready to jump!

Devotionals

The Little Keychain by the Washing Machine

“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” ~ Matthew 8:5

When I take a step back and look at my life, with everything I’ve been through, and everything I’ve done, I wonder how could anything pure could still exist in me? No one gets through this world untouched. And like a lot of people, not only have I been touched by the world, it’s flat out beat me down a time or two. And that leaves a mark just as surely as sin does. That’s where bitterness, anger, coveting… all stem from. Broken dreams, broken promises, insensitivity, frustration, betrayal, battle, condescension, these are all things that destroy what was once pure. And that’s just lightly touching the surface.

So when I read the first part of the verse, “Blessed are the pure of heart,” I say, Yes, bless them, we need more of them, bless their pure, sweet, innocent hearts. And then I read the rest of the verse, “…for they shall see God.” And I think, “Just them, or does anyone have a bible with a different version that’s maybe a little more vague and encompassing? No? Then what does that mean for me?”

What does it mean to have a pure heart? How can I ever get one of those?

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”

That tells me right there, in and of myself, it is impossible for me to have a pure heart.

But, what is impossible for me, is possible for God. By the grace of God, I can have a pure heart.

I think a pure heart is a forgiven heart.

One night at a bible study, our lesson was based on a Rob Bell video we watched. The message had this to say: There is nothing you could ever do to make God love you less. Nothing you could ever do to make him love you less. Nothing. This message really meant a lot to me because I grew up hearing these words from my parents my whole life. “There is nothing you or your brother could ever do that would make us love you less.”

When I was about 7 years old, my brother and I accidentally broke something of mom’s. I don’t remember what it was, but we were afraid to tell because we didn’t want to get into trouble. When Mom found out (as Mom’s do), she decided she needed to come up with a way for us to feel like we were able to come to her with anything we’d done. So, one day, she got us together and showed us a keychain. It was a simple little keychain with a picture of a puppy on it. She told us that any time we did something we were afraid to tell her about, we could bring her the keychain. It didn’t mean we wouldn’t be punished, but Mom promised us that if we brought her the keychain, she would not get mad or yell, but she would talk to us about what had happened or what we’d done. We didn’t have to be afraid because she would always love us, no matter what we did. She hung the keychain low on the wall on a nail beside the washing machine and told us it would always be there when we needed it.

I remember, vividly, one occasion when I used the keychain. I had been sent to my room as punishment for something I had done. I was so mad about getting into trouble, I wrote on my bedroom wall in big, little kid letters, I hate mom. I don’t remember what I used to write it with, but I do remember that it didn’t come off with an eraser, and it didn’t come off with water. I instantly became afraid, and ashamed. I knew three things for certain. I knew I was going to have to tell mom what I’d done. I knew that it was going to hurt her badly. And I knew there was no way around it, because there was absolutely no hiding it.

So, I walked into the kitchen. With trembling hands I removed the keychain from the nail, and with tears streaming down my face, I went to find my mom. She didn’t get mad, but when I told her, she started to cry. She hugged me, and took my hand and led me into the kitchen. We got a small bucket from under the sink and filled it with soapy water, my mom handed me a sponge, and together we walked back to my room, and to my wall. The worst part of the whole thing was the guilt and shame of having to face those blatantly mean words again in front of her. She knelt down beside me, and together we scrubbed the words off the wall…every last mark. I still, to this day, feel terrible for writing it. But I don’t remember ever talking to mom about it again.

I decided to use this story as an illustration at one evening service when I volunteered to give the message. I thought I’d better let Mom know and make sure it wouldn’t upset her again to hear it. I asked her if she remembered the keychain she gave my brother and I and she told me that she did. She said she’d even thought about that keychain just a couple of days earlier. I took a deep breath and I told her what I planned to say about my writing on the wall and what a horrible daughter I am. She sat and listened until I’d finished. And do you know what she said? She said, “I don’t remember that.” She remembered the keychain, and she remembered that my brother and I had both used it a few times, but she didn’t remember a single thing we had ever done.

How many times do we fail to come to God with our sins and anger simply because it hurts so badly to have to face that sin in front of Him? How many times have we been mad at God, or too busy for God, and turned our backs to Him only to find ourselves standing in front of a wall, facing the sin in our lives, with no way to hide it, and no where else to turn? It begins with a simple prayer of complete surrender, “Lord, forgive me. Have mercy on me.”

We can’t wash away our sin without God’s help. God faces our sin with us. He washes it clean. He forgives us. And then through Isaiah 43:25 He tells us, “I – yes, I alone – will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” He forgives us because He loves us. And there is nothing we could ever do, to make Him love us less.

Blessed are those who are forgiven, washed clean, for they shall see God.  Achieving a pure heart is not something we can do once and maintain. It is a constant renewal by the grace of God.  Blessed are the pure of heart, the forgiven heart, the willing heart, for they shall see God.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a faithful spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10.

Devotionals

Dangerous Intersections

Psalm 138:7

There is a road that runs through the center of my city. Just past the university, there is a stoplight followed by a curve, then another road splits off the main road to the right. Typically, as many cars take that turnoff as continue straight. People are changing lanes at the last minute to turn off, while other cars are lined up to cross the street from both sides. It’s a busy, rushed, and at times confusing intersection. Houses line the turnoff road on the right-hand side.

One morning I was taking my daughter to daycare on my way to work. She was four years old, and I was 7 months pregnant. I’m always in the right-hand lane on this main road because I take the turnoff as it splits to the right. As I rounded the curve after the stoplight, I saw a little girl, not more than two years old, laughing and chasing a little puppy out of the open gate on the side of her house. The puppy ran right into the street just in front of me, and the little girl followed.

I slammed on my brakes. As a few thousandths of a second passed and I tried to decide what my part was going to be in whatever would happen next, the passenger door of a plumbing truck in the left-hand lane next to me opened, and I watched in absolute amazement as a man jumped from the truck that was still trying to stop – he just jumped from a moving vehicle. He landed on his feet already in a dead sprint across traffic, right in front of my braking vehicle, toward this tiny, happy, toddling girl. He scooped up the smiling child and her puppy, and ran for the sidewalk. I instinctively turned on my hazard lights, watching this unselfish act of heroism in stunned amazement. Thankfully, the cars in the lane behind me and those in the left-hand lane quickly became aware of the situation. We all just stopped and watched in relief (I cried) as this brave young man hugged the girl and her puppy close to his heart, while he talked to her and smiled at her and carried her safely up to the door of her house. The door had a lovely painted wooden heart decoration hanging on it. I often wonder how the person who answered that door must have felt, hearing about the moment I had just witnessed.

I drive that route every single day, and I always think about that morning as I pass the house. Things could have happened very differently that day. So many things could have gone wrong. But they didn’t. Because one man did not think – he just jumped. At that moment, nothing on this earth was more important to him than that child. And he didn’t even know her.

We may not always have the benefit of seeing God swoop down from above and physically pluck us out of a bad situation, but he still does it.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me. ~Psalm 138:7

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. ~ Colossians 1:13

As creatures of this world we so easily chase dreams and goals and desires – seeing only what’s just out of reach in front of us – without realizing the path we’re running full speed down ends at a dangerous intersection.  

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

I really like the first sentence of this passage. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” God is so much bigger than the temptations of this world. And in the next sentence we read, “…he will also provide the way of escape.” This says to me that when I find myself overcome by the difficulties and pressures those dangerous intersections surprise me with, there will always be a way out. There is always a choice. There is nothing I cannot be rescued from.

Read it again – out loud. “There is nothing I cannot be rescued from.

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. ~ Hebrews 7:25

God’s intervention alters the course of events for YOU and ME.

These two scriptures offer great advice to help us stay on the right path:

1. For we walk by faith, not by sight. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

Walking by faith means we consciously ask for God’s guidance – and we follow it.

2. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. ~ Peter 5:8

Be alert, be aware. Use self-control and be ready, so that when you are confronted with something new that steals your focus and entices you to follow down a dangerous path, you will recognize when the hand of God is reaching for you, to pull you out of the way of danger.

Walk by faith, not by sight. There is nothing you cannot be rescued from.

Let’s keep looking out for each other, friends.

~Be Intentional. Be Strong. Be Faithful. Be Delivered. ~

Carrie-Anne

About Me, Blog

Delivered

Delivered

The following story describes the moment of my deliverance from infertility to motherhood.

On Saturday April 30, 2011, I had a phone conversation that would forever change my life. I wrote this blog post shortly after that day.

Josh and I had been trying to get pregnant for quite some time. So when we were approached with the opportunity to adopt, especially considering the amazing family we were approached by, there was no question that God had beautifully orchestrated our circumstances and so purposefully intertwined our lives with the family that was destined to become an extension of our own.

To try and fit our entire experience over the past 6 months into one post would be impossible – and wouldn’t do justice to the lives involved. It was just too precious a journey with such incredible emotional ranges to try and summarize. I hardly know where to begin.

So for now, I think I’ll begin at the exact moment our old lives ended, and our new lives began – Phoebe’s birthday.

Brandy, Kim (Brandy’s mom), Josh and I had been to almost every one of Brandy’s appointments together. We heard Phoebe’s heartbeat together, we witnessed her sonograms together, saw Phoebe’s toes on the screen, watched her beating heart and saw her tiny hands together, hugging and holding hands and loving on Brandy together. We began to think of ourselves as the four musketeers – Phoebe’s original crew. From the very beginning, Brandy was so gracious to include Josh and I in every part of her pregnancy. Josh and I were thrilled that Brandy wanted us in the delivery room with her.

Brandy went into labor just a few days shy of being full term. She and Phoebe both had been strong and healthy the entire pregnancy. Brandy’s strength always impressed me – and continues to do so.

On Thursday night (Sept 8th) Josh and I got “the call” and we met at the hospital at around 11pm. It was excruciating watching Brandy, this brave young girl, go through so much pain. She had an epidural in the early hours of the morning (which we were all very glad for her to get), and at about 6:45am the nurses began setting up the room and her bed for the delivery.

It all got really real, really quick.

There were two delivery nurses who were in the room with us to get Brandy started until the doctor was called. The head nurse was a very impressive and take charge woman who said she’d been delivering babies for 40 years and in whom we all had every confidence could deliver a baby without the doctor if it came to it. I think we were all just glad there was an adult in the room because we felt like a bunch of kids who didn’t know what we were doing. Thank God she was there to give us all an activity.

Once the delivery began, Josh and Kim stayed at the top of the bed to hold Brandy’s hands and help her push. Myself and the other nurse (who herself was very new) each held a leg in a stirrup – the most important job of my entire life. The nurse had Brandy push until she saw Phoebe crown, then the doctor came in. We had become acquainted with this doctor over the past months of appointments, so she knew Josh and I too. We really liked her. And I think there was a big collective sigh of relief when we saw her familiar smiling face walk in the door.

I really can’t describe watching the delivery. I had no idea what all goes on “down there” in order for a child to be born. It was incredible. I saw Phoebe’s head. I looked at Brandy and she was looking right at me and I said, “Brandy, she’s coming. She’s almost here. Push sweetie!”

And Brandy pushed.

And suddenly, the world slowed down.

I watched as Phoebe was born into this world. She was here. She was born facing up, and her eyes were wide open. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck twice, but the doctor freed her immediately. The nurses cleaned around her mouth and she cried out – and so did we.

Brandy had arranged beforehand what she wanted to happen once Phoebe was born. Josh cut the umbilical cord, then one of the nurses laid Phoebe on a small blanket –

and she placed my daughter in my arms.

I began crying like a baby. We all did – the doctor and nurses included, I was later told. Well, everyone except Phoebe. She was just wide eyed and looking around – taking in her new world.

As I held Phoebe, suddenly it seemed the doctor and nurses disappeared, it seemed there was no one else in the room – in the whole world – except for the four of us and Phoebe. God stopped the world – He stopped time – for just a moment, and gave us the most precious moment I have ever experienced in my life. Josh and I held each other, and together we held Phoebe, I kissed Brandy on her forehead and I thanked her and I held onto Kim as she had her arms wrapped around her own precious daughter. And God’s arms were wrapped so tightly around all of us it was as though He physically enveloped us and allowed us to leave the earth behind for a moment.

And in that precious moment that Phoebe was delivered – I was delivered too.

I was delivered from all of my fears, all of my frustrations, all of my doubts. I was delivered from bitterness and anger and countless days spent agonizing over my infertility.

I was delivered from the fear of childlessness – and born into motherhood.

It was so important to me to write about this moment. It is so important to me that you know what an incredible experience this has been. I know there are many couples who have considered adoption but have held back due to fear of the unknown. I want to thank those of you who have been through the adoption process and who offered nonstop encouragement and prayers when my frustrations started getting the better of me. I want to thank the adoption agency for their tireless efforts to keep us on the fast track during the very unbelievably tedious adoption process. I want to thank Kim for her courage and her friendship and her unconditional love for her daughter. I want to thank Josh for being strong for me every single time I was weak. I want to thank Brandy for her bravery and selflessness – and for giving Josh and I the incredible gift of parenthood.

Dear God, Thank you for blessing us with a child.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.~ Matthew 7:7

I believe this.

Four years later, at the age of 40, I became pregnant by surprise and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Stephen.

Dear God, Thank you for blessing us with our children.

Devotionals

The Weight of the World

I love feeling the weight of my family. The weight of my daughter snuggled up tight to me on the couch while she plays on her phone. The weight of my son sitting on my lap while he drinks from his sippy cup and gets sleepy and heavy. The weight of my husband blanketing me, holding me.

The weight of my world.

I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Corinthians 1:4

There was a time when I lived a flighty, selfish life and let my closest loved ones down on many occasions.

Then I met my husband who rooted and grounded me in love.

There was a time in my life when I didn’t think I would be a mother, and my baby-less, infertility obsessed thoughts had me headed for a self-destructive breakdown.

Then I allowed Christ to fill and heal the broken emptiness in my heart. And through faith I was blessed with my children – who have rooted and grounded me with an unfathomable comprehension and understanding of unconditional love.

17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19

Rooted and grounded in love.

Now, when insecurities make me want to give up, when anxieties make me want to hide, when the weight of the world feels like it’s pushing me off the edge, I blanket myself with the weight of MY world.

The weight that loves me and holds me and strengthens me and covers me and forgives me.

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8

Rooted and grounded and heavy and solid and intentional and weighted in love.

~Be Intentional. Be Strong. Be Faithful. Be Delivered. ~

About Me

Strong and Delivered

Several years ago, I created a website called Two Week Worship where I shared my struggle with infertility and offered encouragement to other women who just wanted to become mommies. The website it still open, although I haven’t written any new devotionals in years, but I still receive messages from other women who have found some peace and understanding in the devotionals.

Now I’m beginning a new chapter. I want to continue my offering of faith based encouragement, understanding, and hope to women needing a push, a smile, scripture and a lot of focus.

The title “Delivered” that you see in my website name stems from one of the last posts I wrote on Two Week Worship. I find it fitting that I post it here, as my first entry in my new chapter – a continuation of the amazing adventures in my life.

Faith. Belief. Hope. These are the words that describe my journey to being Delivered.

With love, hope, and a ton of excitement,

Carrie-Anne

CarrieAnne_3