“My Forever Daddy”

The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Originally, I was going to dedicate this article to new mothers. I believed that I was given this verse as a gift to any of you who are a new mother or a mother of little ones. As I began writing, however, I quickly stopped trying to guess what this was all about and let God do the inspiring instead. This article is definitely dedicated to every woman, man, and child. We are all facing challenges, big and small, every day.

Recently, a very dear Christian sister gave birth to a beautiful little girl. This baby girl was born to parents who were surprised when they first learned about her, but they quickly regrouped and excitedly prepared and looked forward to her arrival.

That same week she was born, I was introduced to a baby boy who’d been removed from his parents’ care and was being shifted from one relative’s home to another for his care. Despite the abuse and upheaval, this baby boy was full of smiles and happy resiliency.

Both babies put a smile on my face. They delighted me and made me want to cuddle them and breathe in their baby scent. My heart prayed for them and rejoiced over what God has in store for them, so much so that I wanted to sing.

There was a third baby that week who came up in conversation and prayer. This baby was born to a loving home, but never made it home from the hospital. He died because he wasn’t far enough along in his development and too weak to live. I wept for his parents and rejoiced in their faith that God has taken him home because it was best for the baby. There were no worries, just pain of loss.

In my own world, I was spiraling from a different kind of loss. A change in something I thought I had complete control over. I received a beating to my pride that brought it back under submission along with a stack of bills, paperwork, and tough decisions to make quickly. I half jokingly said I wanted my mama, but I went to my knees before my Father. A short time later the Bible app on my phone alerted me with the verse Zephaniah 3:17.

The beauty of our Lord’s care and love astounds me and makes me weak in the knees.

To Him we are just babies, no matter our earthly ages or circumstances. We are His children. He is always with us. He will always pull us out of the wreckage of our lives when we call on Him. He will always hold us and calm us when we seek Him wholly. “Do not fear (Lamentations 3:57). Know I am near (Psalm 71:21). Nothing can compare to My love for you (1John 4:16).”  He delights in us, and He sings over us as we rest in His care.

Just close your eyes now and listen to Him sing. “Hush little baby, don’t say a word. Papa’s gonna…”

Abba, I cannot begin to share the depth of my love for You! You are too much to contain in words. You are so faithful, so loving, so good. I love You with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength. You are my Forever Daddy. Thank You! Let your name be blessed now. Amen

Lorinda Freeman

Lorinda has a passion and desire to teach children about the love of God.  She is a homeschooling mom of four and together as a family they work within their church with the children’s programs making sure the hearts of all the children are being taught God’s love for them.  Lorinda and her husband, Chris, make their home in Hibbing, Minnesota after Lorinda had endured extensive travel growing up as a Navy “brat”. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-13, “We are not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.  As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.  We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.  Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.  You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.  For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Lorinda has a passion and desire to teach children about the love of God. She is a homeschooling mom of four and together as a family they work within their church with the children’s programs making sure the hearts of all the children are being taught God’s love for them. Lorinda and her husband, Chris, make their home in Hibbing, Minnesota after Lorinda had endured extensive travel growing up as a Navy “brat”. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-13, “We are not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

To Hug Or Not To Hug….that is the question.

I recently took Brigg Meyers test. It’s all over the Facebook. Have you taken yet? I just went with the flow and did it because all my friends did it. It really didn’t catch my attention until I started reading more about my personality trait and I caught myself saying, “Yes! Oh my goodness, that is so me it’s not even funny.” I am INTJ you see. My kinds of people are highly intuitive but not easily driven by the emotions and feelings. We think and plan ahead. We love intensely and selectively.  And we just don’t do random hugs. No one just randomly gets a hug from an INTJ.  And it’s not that I hate hugs or people, because I love them, I really do, but I have to be comfortable and most definitely familiar with the person to hug or be hugged by them. You’ll hardly ever catch me giving front hugs (those are the most awkward for me). But I do enjoy hugs. My husband and our kids lack no hug. I have a 4 year child who craves hugs! But he too likes the hugs from “his people” only just like his mama.

I have several friends who are unconditional full time huggers, they offer hugs to everyone who would take them and they are always open to receive a hug. We have ongoing jokes about it.

One night I was studying the scripture and found something I’ve never seen before. When I started digging deeper in the word, the revelation made me chuckle!

I was reading Acts 10 and I got to verses 43-44 it says “while Peter was preaching the Word of God, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who was listening.”  I stopped to think, “How does the Holy Spirit FALL upon all the listeners?” I looked up the definition in my trusty Strong’s concordance and here is what I found: the Greek word for “fell upon” in this verse is “eipipto” (#1968) and it means “a love hug, to fall into one’s embrace, to embrace with affection”. I smiled at God and said, “So, I take it Holy Spirit is a hugger!”

When you look at this passage you will see two keys:

  1. The Word of God is taught/preached/spoken.  
  2. Holy Spirit fell upon / hugged the willing listeners with teachable hearts.

These kinds of hugs are the best! It doesn’t matter if you are INTJ or ESPF or any other personality trait! The Holy Spirit loves to hug us! When was the last time we were opened to his hugs and embraced his arms?  When was the last time we thoroughly enjoyed a nice long hug from the Holy Spirit?

Don’t just read the Word of God for the sake of reading it and marking it off the reading plan, read it until you feel his embrace, until you know you’ve experienced a holy hug!  Don’t just worship in church because all others are singing, worship until you know you’ve just had a holy tackle from the Lord!  He dwells among the praises of his people. He speaks to us and hugs us through his word.  He loves us, oh how He loves us.

When I read this portion of Acts 10 an image came to my mind I saw on Facebook or Google image.  Yes, Lord! Hug away! I am all yours! Even if I have personal boundaries with humans, You are always welcome to burst my bubble and hug me until all the brokenness is healed, all the fears melt away and all the doubts are gone.

 

Lenna Rivera

Lenna was born and raised in Volgograd , Russia.  She grew up in a family that did not know Christ. At the age of ten, she and her brother found a Gospel preaching church and became first the generation of Christ followers in their family .  Then, at the age of eighteen, Lenna felt a strong calling for missions and the Lord opened doors for her to become a missionary to the country of Georgia.  Today Lenna and her husband, Zach, reside in Nebraska,. They have 3 children together. Lenna enjoys cooking, spending time with the family and a good harty in-depth Bible study.  Her husband leads worship at their local church. Lenna enjoys writing about the things God reveals to her through the reading of the Word.

Lenna was born and raised in Volgograd , Russia. She grew up in a family that did not know Christ. At the age of ten, she and her brother found a Gospel preaching church and became first the generation of Christ followers in their family . Then, at the age of eighteen, Lenna felt a strong calling for missions and the Lord opened doors for her to become a missionary to the country of Georgia. Today Lenna and her husband, Zach, reside in Nebraska,. They have 3 children together. Lenna enjoys cooking, spending time with the family and a good harty in-depth Bible study. Her husband leads worship at their local church. Lenna enjoys writing about the things God reveals to her through the reading of the Word.

Blind Faith

It was without question the darkest, scariest day of my entire life.

It was Labor Day 2005 and I was typing on a computer when suddenly blood began to drip down the screen. Wait, WHAT? I looked again and what I saw took my breath away. The blood was not on the screen!  It was INSIDE my left eye, and everywhere I looked, on the wall, on my own hand, outside on the beautiful fall leaves, it was there. Like rain on a window, it trickled down my retina in rivulets of crimson as I sat panicked, fear stricken, and powerless to do anything to stop it. Within minutes, all I could see out of that eye was a haze of pinkish red, and I knew that my worst fear since my diabetes diagnosis sixteen years earlier had come to pass: diabetic retinopathy. I was only twenty-five years old  and my life, as I knew it, had officially ended. But that was just the beginning.

It seemed like everything bad that could happen happened during that time was happening. Shortly following that horrific day, my right eye began to bleed just like my left eye had. Thankfully my doctor decided it would eventually clear on its own without surgery, although I would have to undergo surgery to save the sight in my left eye.  I had to go through multiple laser treatments in both eyes regularly until January of the next year in order to cauterize the weak blood vessels. That in itself was awful. Terrible. On my list of things I wouldn’t even wish for my worst enemy. Then, I was fired from my job as a legal secretary, even after I was up front and honest with them about my condition. I told them I would just resign, as I couldn’t very well work when I couldn’t see. No, they said, we will work with you. We want to help you in this very difficult time. “We will even set up a cot in the back room so you can rest”, my boss told me. So I said okay, grateful for their understanding. Then I had to take two weeks off of work to have the eye surgery in my left eye, called a vitrectomy, and only a few days after I returned to work, they fired me without warning.  On top of it all, my then-fiancé and I went through a heart-wrenching breakup. It really wasn’t a huge surprise, as we had had many problems and I had finally come to the realization that we were not right for each other.  But still, after being with someone for three years, it was extremely tragic, especially when I so needed someone to lean on during the hardest, darkest time of my life. I felt like a modern-day Job in so many ways, and my faith was so weak. Family and friends prayed and tried to encourage me, but I still felt so far away from God and like He had completely abandoned and forgotten about me.  It all seemed so unfair! I had spent most of my life serving God and ministering to others in one way or another…from singing in church as a little girl to witnessing to my friends in school, to going to Bible college and singing with my college music team, to traveling and singing with an international music ministry, to leading worship at my church in Denver. What had I done to deserve this? Life looked so bleak and I envisioned going blind and having to move home to live with my parents for the rest of my life; an invalid with no hope or purpose or future.

Well, I’m sure that’s what the Devil wanted for me, but the reason I’m writing this today is to tell you that GOD had other plans! Despite the way things looked from my limited perspective, His plans for me were plans to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11-14). His plans were to turn what Satan meant for evil into good (Genesis 50:20)! My life did not end that September day so long ago. In many ways it was just beginning and I give Him ALL the praise!  Last Wednesday, October 21st, 2015, marked TEN years to the day since I had my eye surgery. Since I had gotten sick from the anesthesia immediately afterwards and had thrown up every hour for 12 hours after that, even that is a testimony to God’s goodness. My doctor told me with all of that pressure on my eyes so soon after the laser and surgery, I should have had more bleeding, which would defeat the purpose of the surgery, but I didn’t. I still vividly remember him coming into my hospital room and saying in amazement, “Someone up there must be watching out for you.” Yes, doctor. Truer words have never been spoken because ten years later, I’m still here. Not blind, not living with my parents. Instead, I’m celebrating God’s goodness and faithfulness to me in blessing me and giving me what I never thought I would have in my future: my eyesight, the love of a wonderful husband, and two beautiful children that are biologically mine! I was often told because of the diabetes that I couldn’t ever have my own kids and that I should adopt. I have nothing against adoption, and I think it is such a beautiful thing and an answer to prayer for so many. I was open to it if absolutely necessary…but because I was told I could not, it was so important to be able to carry my own children. God saw that desire of my heart and fulfilled it, and I just want to praise Him for that! He is SO good!

He brought me through that dark, horrible season, my personal valley of the shadow of death, and into this new season of life and light and blessings, and for a long time now I’ve had 20/20 vision in both eyes and am doing great with no other complications!!!  Even through two pregnancies, which can cause detrimental eye changes, God has miraculously preserved my sight. I love being a wife and mom, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to fulfill those roles. I cannot praise or thank Him enough for holding me and carrying me through that time of my life. Even though I doubted Him and even questioned His goodness, He never gave up on me. He carried me, kept His promises to me and truly brought me out to rich fulfillment! In reflecting on what I went through, I can’t help but think of Psalm 66:8-12:

“Oh, bless our God, you peoples!

 And make the voice of His praise to be heard,

 Who keeps our soul among the living,

 And does not allow our feet to be moved…

 We went through fire and through water;

 But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.”

So be encouraged today if you are facing a dark and trying time in your life. God is not done with you and He will carry you through it! If He did it for me, He WILL do it for you! Don’t lose hope; just keep your eyes on Jesus. Even when you doubt, He will lift you up so you will not sink below the waves. His faithfulness will be your strength and His goodness will prevail!!!

Sharilyn Edgerle

Sharilyn is the mother to two adorable little boys and met her husband, Enoch, through eHarmony in.  She grew up and graduated high school in Montana.  Together they make their home in Michigan. Sharilyn’s passion rests in sharing the love of Jesus with others through evangelism, music and writing.  She has recently been asked to lead worship for a local church and started writing for the Titus II Woman blog team.  Sharilyn is a graduate of Trinity Bible College with an Associates of Arts degree in Music Performance.  Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, says the Lord.”

Sharilyn is the mother to two adorable little boys and met her husband, Enoch, through eHarmony in. She grew up and graduated high school in Montana. Together they make their home in Michigan. Sharilyn’s passion rests in sharing the love of Jesus with others through evangelism, music and writing. She has recently been asked to lead worship for a local church and started writing for the Titus II Woman blog team. Sharilyn is a graduate of Trinity Bible College with an Associates of Arts degree in Music Performance. Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord.”