My Week of Interviews – And Sharing One with You!

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Mother’s Day was certainly unique this year due of the COVID-19 pandemic. For me, the week leading up to Mother’s Day was interesting as it was full of video interviews and preparations for various opportunities to share my story.

  • I recorded an interview with a local pastor (and friend of mind) for his Mother’s Day message
  • I recorded an interview with my local church that was used for the sermon application
  • I did a Facebook LIVE interview with my cousin, who is a children’s pastor in Erie, Pennsylvania where we talked about parenting during this pandemic
  • And I did an interview with author and speaker (any my personal friend) Sara R. Ward, for a Mothering Strong Under Stress Virtual Summit
  • Then, I found out that an interview I recorded last fall was set to air on Mother’s Day as well. 

I felt like a “virtual movie star!” Haha! Thankfully, in “real time,” I was able to stay in my pj’s on Mother’s Day to watch these things from my family room. Then, my family made me lunch and we had a wonderful, relaxing day together. Yay for pre-recordings!

I wanted to share one these interviews with you today. I am grateful to Mitch Kruse of Restoration Road for this opportunity. I hope it encourages you!

Feel free to share and send me your feedback! I love hearing from you!

Have a great weekend!

Christy

Jeremiah 29:11- The Rest of the Story

FullSizeRenderPerched on the top bunk of my third story dorm room I had a good view of my fellow college students on the sidewalk below. I watched them pass as if staring at the second hand of a clock, absentmindedly watching the rhythm of the afternoon. I adjusted the pillow behind my back and leaned against the painted cinder block wall. My legs were folded under me, and my Bible lay open on my lap to Jeremiah chapter 29.

I wanted to know more about the plans God had for me.

As a Sophomore on a Christian college campus, I had heard the words of Jeremiah 29:11 many times in reference to God’s will for my future.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Those words robotically came from the mouths of professors, chapel speakers, and friends as if someone had pulled a string on their backs that triggered a preloaded response whenever a question about the future arose.

I did not doubt that God loved me or had good plans for me, but as I struggled through worry about the unknowns of my future;

What degree should I work toward?

Who will hire me after graduation?

What type of job do I want?

Who will I marry?

Where will we live?

What type of job will my husband have?

I was looking for more than a pat answer. I was looking for peace in the midst of uncertainty. And Jeremiah 29:11 seemed to be the go-to verse.

I wanted to know more about this apparent feel-good promise, so I read the context of the verse in its chapter, Jeremiah 29.

I felt confused.

The good feelings associated with plans for prosperity and hope were put aside. The verses leading up to verse 11 were not filled with smiles and sunshine. Jeremiah was speaking to Israelites who had been carried off, essentially as prisoners of war, to the country of Babylon.

The first verse of the chapter reads,

This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.”

The fact that the word “surviving” is in this sentence tips me off that this was sent during a difficult time of war and death.

Jeremiah goes on to tell the people that they will one day be brought back to their homeland, Israel. God does have good things in store for them. He has plans to rescue them… in 70 years. He knows His plans to help them.

Jeremiah 29:10-11 says;

“This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I realized right then and there that verse 11 had been grossly taken out of context.

Not that God doesn’t have plans for us…. not that God isn’t a good God… but God doesn’t promise ME anything in this passage. He was talking to Israelite POWs in Babylon!

What does this mean for my future? Does God still have plans and hope for me?

I squirmed on my plaid comforter and readjusted both my physical and spiritual position.

If Jeremiah 29:11 wasn’t written to me, then why do we have it in our Bibles? Why read it at all? How can I know what is true for me and not just a message to its original audience?

To answer my complicated questions I go back to the simplest basics.

I believe God is who He says He is. I believe He is all-knowing and sovereign over all. I believe He never changes. Therefore, I can trust that any principle that I can glean about God from any passage of Scripture is still true today.

The specific promise of Jeremiah 29:11 wasn’t written for me, but the principle that God was teaching the Israelites in that passage has not changed.

So what was the principle God was teaching His people?

I assumed from the way Christians had been quoting Jeremiah 29:11 that God was telling His people He was ready to swoop in and drop good things on those who loved and obeyed Him. That He was basically our Santa Claus with prosperity and hope in his sleigh. But the truth was, God wasn’t going to deliver good things to His people the day that Jeremiah’s letter was read to them, or even once a year under the tree, for that matter.

He was not planning to rescue them for 70 years.

And what really struck me were God’s instructions for His people during those seven decades of waiting.

God told them to get on with life.

Jeremiah 29:4-8 reads:

“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

The principle I learn here is that God DOES know the plans He has for us. He DOES have good things in store for our future. But while we are waiting, we are to live life and seek peace and prosperity, even if we’re in enemy territory.

Wow.

The principles of Jeremiah 29 are jumping off the page. I now see how I can relate and what I can learn from God’s Word to His people. I’m not so different from the exiled Israelites after all.

I live in enemy territory because I live in this world. One day I know God will rescue me and will take me back to my homeland to dwell with Him. But the principle I learn from Jeremiah 29 is that while I’m here, I need to live. I need to seek the peace and prosperity of this place I call home for now.

I need to get to work because if the work of my hands prospers, God will prosper me too.

It sounds like this principle in Jeremiah 29 isn’t all about what God has in store for me, but also how I can live for Him.

Jeremiah 29:11 is still a great verse to read for encouragement and hope. God hasn’t changed since the days of Jeremiah. He knows the plans He has for me, and when they include bringing me home to be with Him, I know for a fact they are good.

But there’s more to the story. God asks me to seek prosperity and peace in this territory while I wait for His rescue.

It looks like I had better get to work.

One of my Worst Moments

It is one of the worst moments of my life.

I was six days shy of my eleventh birthday and, as my six-year-old brother would say later, though the day was called Good Friday, it wasn’t a very good day for us.

Instead, there we stood in a sterile hospital room with our dad. We had just taken an awful ride in a police car as we followed an ambulance carrying our mother to the Emergency Room. Our mom had collapsed suddenly and shockingly at the kitchen table that evening and we had just been told by the doctor that she had died of a heart arrhythmia.

The pain I felt was indescribable.

Now the four of us were in a room alone together for the last time. My dad, even in the deepest grief of his life, had the wisdom to ask the doctor if we could see our mom’s body and so there we stood around her. And though it may sound morbid or scary, it was actually just the opposite. It was helpful.

My dad, my little brother and I were able to say goodbye, although my dad reminded us that what we saw was just my mom’s body and not really Mom. We held hands and prayed together, and my dad told us that even though we were heartbroken and we didn’t understand this, he believed God was still in control.

To say that the evening of March 24th, 1989 impacted my life is a gross understatement. The loss of a mom to a preteen girl is full of impact. I was so very sad.

Yet, I had hope.

The conversation with my dad in that horrible room where my mom’s body lay changed me as well. I was taught a deeply profound lesson in a few minutes’ time, and it has helped me in the days, months, and years since that night.

By pointing me to a God who is unchanging in a moment when my entire world had just been completely thrown off its axis, my dad gave me hope that God could not only handle the change, but was in control of it.

By reminding me that God is sovereign in a moment where everything seemed so utterly unfair, my dad gave me hope that I can trust that God not only knew about my mom’s death, but that He was still in perfect control of her death and my life.

By leading me in prayer around the bed where my dead mother lay, my dad reminded me that I can always turn to my Heavenly Father for comfort, hope and love.

It has been 24 years since that night. I’ve grown in stature, maturity and faith. I’m now a wife and a mom and have now lived longer on this earth than my own mother did. I’ve had other hard moments since that night too, and I know I’ll have more to come.

Yet, I have hope.

When I graduated from college and was in a season of life where everything was changing and there was so much unknown…

When I desperately prayed for a godly husband and didn’t know where I would meet this guy or when…

I was able to trust in an unchanging God who knew my desires and needs and was able to faithfully provide for me what He knew I needed and when.

When I miscarried two babies and struggled with surgeries and issues that caused me to not get pregnant…

When I was told by a doctor that because of these issues I would most likely have a small family…

I was able to turn to my God who I believe is sovereign and I cried out to Him for his comfort, love, hope and mercy. He was faithful. …and He not only blessed us with hope and peace, but has blessed us with children.

When our two-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia and we struggled through three-and-a-half years of chemotherapy and treatment…

When my days were full of dark moments of seeing my son suffer…

I was able to turn in prayer to a God whom I believe is real and not only knows my pain but also cares deeply for both my son, and me. And just like his Word says, He gave me a peace that passes all understanding.

The evening of March 24th, 1989 was one of my worst moments. And yet, through the pain and darkness I was reminded of a sovereign, loving God who offers hope and peace.

And even out of one of my worst moments of my life, God was able to bring good.

And I trust He’ll be faithful to do the same in every moment of my future.

I Don’t Want To Let Go!

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Hi. My name is Christy and I struggle with letting go.

Hi, Christy.

I mean, I get excited about new things, but I don’t like having to let go of what is familiar and comfortable and safe. Change can be scary, particularly if there are unknowns ahead. Like, if I can’t picture what my routine will look like in the next stage or what my purpose will be in a new season of life, I start to fret.

Please… tell us more.

 I guess, well, I mean… I feel like I don’t want to let go of what is certain because what if I don’t like the next step as much as I like this one. How can I be sure it’s safe to let go? But yet, as time marches on, I’m simply forced to let go of some things.

(Christy starts biting her nails.)

 ——————————————————————-

All right, I don’t actually have a support group. But, I do have a husband, whom I asked one day why he thinks I feel sad during times of change, like on my kids’ birthdays or last days of school. He said it’s because I have issues. Maybe I should get a support group. They’d probably be nicer.

But although my husband is somewhat right to so kindly point out that I have issues with change, I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. Women tend to agree with me. At least I think they do. Please, someone tell me (or at least tell my husband) that I’m not alone.

We ladies can sometimes struggle with change… and in particular, the changes that force us to let go. The act of letting go of a season of life, comfortable routine, or familiar territory is hard. We’d prefer to keep a white-knuckled grip on our children, dreams, schedules, plans, hopes and security. Trading the familiar for the unknown can be a bit unnerving.

This time of year always makes me feel sentimental too. Another school year has come to an end and I’ve seen kids that I used to babysit wear caps and gowns. I am feeling nostalgic as my own son reaches a grade I can clearly remember being in myself (and not that long ago, either)! I am once again slapped with the reminder that time marches on more quickly than I’d like it to. I’m forced to let go of this stage and phase and usher in the new.

And that kind of scares me.

But, wouldn’t you know, I’ve found comfort and reassurance. Not from my husband or my imaginary support group, but from my Heavenly Father through a wonderful hymn reminding me of His truth.

As I stood with a group of ladies in a Bible study that I attend, we recently sang the hymn, Praise to the Lord, the Almighty*, and one of the lines struck a deep chord in me.

Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been

Granted in what He ordaineth

I’ve thought about those lyrics countless times in the last few weeks. It’s two short lines with a lot of meaning. In other words, it’s saying:

“Hey! Haven’t you noticed that God has provided peace and joy for you in every stage of your life, good and bad, up until this moment? He has basically made your desires fit with his will. What makes you think He won’t be faithful to guide you and give you peace and joy in the next stage of life? Let go and move on, dummy!”

(You can see why my translation hasn’t made it into the hymnal just yet.)

And so, as I continue to replay that wonderful hymn and it’s truth in my mind I’ve found comfort and been reminded of God’s faithfulness. It’s hard to let go and to take steps into the unknown, but I trust that my God will go before me. He will lead me with His loving hand.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

—————————————————————————————–

So, let me ask you something, Christy.

(Imaginary Support Group leader leans back in their chair and crosses their legs. The rest of the imaginary group members lean in close to listen…)

 Christy, hast thou not seen how they desires e’er have been granted in what He ordaineth?!

 Yes.

Yes, I have seen. And with that in mind, may I look forward to the days ahead with joy and anticipation, as I trust in Him who leads me.

*Words: Jo­ach­im Ne­an­der (Stras­lund: 1680); trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Cath­er­ine Wink­worth, 1863. Music: Lobe den Her­ren, An­der Theil des Er­neu­er­ten Ge­sang­buch, se­cond edi­tion (Bre­men, Ger­ma­ny: 1665)

Daddy Loves You

IMG_4051 2My memory of the moment is both crystal clear and fuzzy at the same time. It’s hard to explain, but yet if you’ve ever been in shock, you’ll understand.

My body felt numb and weak and apparently that was obvious to those around me because a nurse pushed a stool underneath my legs and helped me sit down beside my son’s hospital bed. I hadn’t even realized until I sat just how much I needed that support.

My two-year-old son, Karson, was laying on the bed along with Lyle the Lamb, his stuffed companion. My husband, Kraig, stood on the opposite side of the bed and rubbed Karson’s little back. Our heads were reeling with the news we’d received just mere hours before. Doctors were telling us that our toddler had cancer. Now we were crammed in a small procedure room at a children’s hospital watching them prep our son for a bone marrow biopsy.

I was experiencing feelings of denial and shock. Our son had been limping for a week and he presented only mild cold symptoms. Why were they suddenly throwing around words like, “leukemia,” and “chemotherapy?” Wasn’t this just a virus that would pass on its own? Do we really need to do this procedure?

But deep down I reasoned that if these trained medical professionals thought there was enough evidence of cancer from a small bit of blood work, then I must allow them to proceed with further testing of Karson’s bone marrow. They had explained that leukemia starts in the marrow and they must take a look to find out what type of leukemia we were fighting.

And so, in what was literally half a day, we went from a normal morning routine to that dreaded procedure room in a hospital two hours from our house. I can still smell that moment and feel the sterility and darkness of that room. It was awful.

To be completely honest, I’m not even sure I want to draw up those memories or that emotion ever again. I wrestle sometimes with the watershed moments that were burned into my mind in the coming three-and-a-half years of my son’s chemotherapy and treatment. Some memories can bring the sting of tears in a matter of seconds. I used to see them often when I closed my eyes at night. Now it’s much less frequent, but the pain is just as raw. It hurts. So you may ask why I write about it or even bother to relive it at all?

I guess I don’t want to waste it.

As awful as Karson’s cancer was, there was so much good that came from it as well. Most of that good came in the form of God’s gentle presence in the midst of the rough storm. Kraig and I learned so much and felt like we were matured in our faith in a way that would otherwise not have been possible.

And on February 9th, 2007, as we took the first shaky steps into that journey, my husband… my son’s father, told me of how he now understood the love of our Heavenly Father in a deeper way. It was the first of many things we would learn along the way.

Kraig recounted the horrible moments of having to physically pin Karson down on that hospital bed as doctors used a large and painful needle and tools to extract bone marrow from our little boy’s hip. Karson was awake and acutely aware of the intense pain. As he lay there on his stomach, his face was turned toward his daddy who was firmly holding him still and talking to him. Karson was screaming and crying for the pain to stop and looking at Kraig with questioning eyes as if saying,

“Why, Daddy?”

“Why are you letting them hurt me?”

“Please make it stop!”

And oh, how we wanted to!

Kraig and I would have crawled onto that bed in a heartbeat and taken that pain instead of watching our son have to experience it. But we couldn’t. We knew that we had to allow to the doctors to proceed. We had to allow them to extract bone marrow so that they could determine what course of treatment would be most effective for fighting this cancer. But we couldn’t explain all of that to a two-year-old. Even if we had, he wouldn’t have understood.

And so as Karson screamed and pleaded with his Daddy, all that Kraig could say in response was,

“I love you, Karson.”

“I love you, buddy.”

“Oh, Karson! Daddy loves you so much!”

It was heartbreaking and profound.

And as Kraig shared with me later, he thought about how many times in life our Heavenly Father has had to hold us down through pain, trial, sin and ugliness. And we don’t understand it. And perhaps even if He told us, it wouldn’t matter. All we need to do is look into his eyes and hear His words.

Daddy loves you.

1 John 3:1 says,
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

I don’t get it. I can’t mentally grasp it or figure it out. I don’t know why my Heavenly Father has allowed pain in my life or my child’s life. I simply don’t know.

Yet the lesson Kraig learned in that moment, I continue to learn as well. I submit to my Father’s hands holding me firmly through the pains of this life, and listen to his almighty and loving voice reminding me of His unconditional love.

I know my Father’s love. And that’s all I really need to know.

Behold! I Stand At The Door… and Ring the Doorbell.

It’s fun to mess with your kids! In love, of course!

Since moving to a different house a few months ago our family has repeated a new trick that has yet to get old. Well, it’s not yet old to me anyway. In fact, I was giggling about it earlier tonight and my husband called me immature. But he started it!

The trick is that we now have two doorbells: one at the front door and one in the garage by the door leading into the house from the garage. The chime sounds exactly the same no matter which doorbell you push so of course we’ve been driving each other insane by ringing the garage doorbell and sending whichever gullible family member is closest to the front door. And nobody is there. It’s hilarious!

This evening I got our son with the trick once and then the second time he came looking for me the in garage. I tried to duck down behind the trashcan but I wasn’t quick enough so I earned a “Mooooommmm, I knew it was you!”

A bit later I had my husband ring the bell while I was with our son and it didn’t fool him for a minute. He knew it was his Dad. But… he’s not able to outwit his parents yet. We sent our three-year-old out to garage (she can barely even reach the doorbell!) and while our son was changing into his baseball uniform near the front door (why he changes his clothes there… we don’t know!) and when he was down to his undies our daughter rang the doorbell with Mommy and Daddy both in plain view of our son. He looked from one of us to the other and his eyes got huge as he took off down the hall. Gotcha!! 😉

Ahhhh…fun times. Yes, they’ve gotten me with it several times as well. Mainly my husband, the one who called me immature, has sent me to the front door while I’m trying to make dinner or do some other important task. See, he really did start it!

And here’s the thing. I got to thinking about it while doing dishes one day (when I was not interrupted by a doorbell!) Sometimes in life we’re looking for direction. As Christians we say we’re searching for “God’s Will.” We have options, but we’re not really sure if we’re supposed to go toward “Door Number One” or “Door Number Two.” We think we hear God’s leading but the chimes sound the same. How do we know what God’s will is?

My Dad has always told me that if you want to be in God’s will, well then you probably are. I like that. What he means is that if you’re truly trying to honor God and live in obedience to Him then you most likely are. God’s not going to trick us and ring a doorbell and run away. He’s not going to send us to an empty front porch and make us feel like an idiot. Instead, our Heavenly Father loves us and desires for us to live in righteousness and obedience. He will help guide us if we’re truly seeking His direction.

But we still have to move when the doorbell rings.

We can’t just sit back in our Lazy Boy or continue with our housework while listening to the call of the bell. At some point we’ve got to move.

Romans 12:2 says:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Test and approve. See, we have to try the doors. God’s not going to drag us to the right door. We have to move. And we have to trust that He’s not going to trick us. He loves us and will gently guide us as we honor Him with our actions.

Our Heavenly Father desires our obedience. He has a perfect will and if we want to walk in it, well then we probably are. He won’t deceive us with the call of the doorbell.

I wish I could say the same for my husband!