There Really Were Songs Yet to Sing [Day 28: SONG]

My dad wrote me a poem called Still Yet Songs to Sing when we lost our second child, Ezra Coleman to miscarriage late in my pregnancy in 2013. It was such a sweet gesture and encouragement to me. It showed a father’s heart moved with grief for daughter’s pain, and I know it mirrored my heavenly Father’s heart in that way.

I was so broken at that time, completely wrecked with this great loss. I hadn’t asked for a second child, yet God granted me the precious gift of life far earlier than we would have planned. We welcomed the gift and spent those 5 months planning and dreaming for our little one. It was a dark year as we reeled from the sudden tragedy, and during that year, we had to continue traveling around the US raising support for our future ministry. I sobbed in many a church bathroom and pasted a smile on when someone asked how many children I had and I replied that I only had one. A few times, a well-meaning soul would say, “She needs a little brother!” And I would think, “She had one, ” or “We tried to give her one.”

There really were still yet songs to sing. There were still ways we were gonna get up and work for the Lord just how we dreamed we would, but we had to walk through that dark valley first. What’s funny about these types of thorns in the flesh is that they can be so healing if we are submissive to the Father’s hand at work to bring restoration. I could barely stand up on my own two feet so I had no other choice than to lean on Christ. That time of immense pain shaped me into the wife, mom, and lady in ministry that I am today. At the time I think I said I was grateful, but I wasn’t quite feeling it yet. I’m feeling it now.

Sometimes God allows great pain to enter into our lives. Knowing that death and loss were not a part of His perfect plan from the beginning, we know He does not delight in doing this. However, because of His display of love on the Cross and His daily graces in our lives, we can trust He will work all things — even the hardest things — for our good when we come out on the other side.

And we will… come out on the other side. Even though it feels like we’ll never make it there. We will come out grateful. We will come out singing, praising God for all He has done. Broken but healing hearts crying out, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I’m singing now and, by His grace, I am serving Him on the other side of the world. We have two precious children now and are perfectly content with the life we have been given. But we will never forget that little boy we held for just a few moments. His memory will forever impact the songs I sing and the way I fall into the Father’s arms — because Ezra taught me how.

I “make” God big in my life when I accept hurt from His hand and trust Him to heal me. Knowing He will give me songs to sing, I can walk first through the dark valley as He guides me to the other side.

What trials has God brought you out of to sing His praise?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Contentment is Counter-Cultural [Day 22: HELP]

I’m taking a break from #Write31Days this evening, but I have a new post that went live on the Velvet Ashes blog today. I think it’s a message many of us need to hear whether we are living and serving overseas or honoring the Lord daily in our hometowns.

When it comes to contentment, I so desperately need GOD’s help to guard my mind and my heart. I need Him to help me say “no” to the things that aren’t necessarily bad but aren’t good for me either. I can’t peacefully live the quiet life He has called me to without fully resting in His provision.  

I hope you enjoy this post, and I hope you will poke around the VA page for a while. It has been a huge blessing to me. I’m currently leading a Connection Group, and I would recommend joining one to any lady serving overseas in any capacity.

Contentment is Counter-Cultural

I’m getting pretty fed up with Instagram lately. I chose to make my account private so I have to approve all follow requests. I would estimate that around 80% of my requests are phony. Generally, they are fitness gurus who want me on their team changing my lifestyle — oh, and selling stuff. If it’s not them, it’s got to be some hipster blogger who certainly has no interest in my account of life in Nepal but has every intention of influencing me to boost my lifestyle to boost her bottom line.

Discontentment sells. It sells in America. It sells in my host-country of Nepal, and it sells all over the world. Our hearts are fragile, and we are easily influenced. “Get a better body in 8 weeks,” or “Transform your home with 1 can of paint” — no matter the tagline, the message is the same: your life and the person behind your social media feed is not acceptable as is. I fall for it just about every time. Discontentment fuels economies and fills bank accounts, but it does nothing for the soul…

Read More at Velvet Ashes

 

A Sacrifice of Praise [Day 12: PRAISE]

I sat in Ama’s home with a lovely group of women made up of Americans and nationals too. We had paid our dear widow of our church a visit with the hope of being a blessing to her. But I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we were all blessed that day. She made us black tea, and we conversed with her dogs to make her smile. One of the girls of the group shared later that a cockroach crawled between her feet. We thanked her for *impressively* remaining calm and not taking away from the sweet vibes shared between sisters in Christ sipping tea and enjoying the company of one another.

As the conversation died down, Ama showed us her beloved Bible — never mind that she can’t read — and sadly shared with us that a rat had eaten through some of its pages. She then pulled out her solar powered audio Bible and began playing in Genesis 1:1. She closed her eyes and smiled. She listened intently as if it was the first time she had pressed play on this device.

When she opened her eyes she said, “I love the Bible. It’s sweeter than honey to me.” I translated these words for our visiting friends, and the elders in the bunch got collectively teary-eyed. She began praising God and sharing with us how good He is. Even though she knew there was not one unbeliever in the bunch, she got her Gospel on in a big way!

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

I was encouraged by Kate Motaung’s post today to change my vocabulary to regularly praise God for everything He is and every gift He gives. And I was encouraged by Ama that no matter how little I have or how small my life may seem on the grand scale of things, I can praise God big. I can offer a sacrifice of praise.

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Hebrews 13:15-16

It has been said that praise is the consummation of joy. When I’m truly enjoying God and relishing His gifts, praise is the expression of that fulness I find only in HIm. He is well pleased, and His name is glorified when I offer it back to Him. May my heart always be the kind that rejoices in the Lord and my mouth always be spewing sacrifices of praise.

I “make” God big in my life when I praise Him in times of victory and defeat, great joy and great sorrow. I “make” Him big when I enjoy Him and let Him (and everyone else around me) know it. 

What can you praise God for today?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Peace in my Inability to do #Allthethings

Five Minute Friday: WHY

I glance at my to-do list and see #allthethings that went undone this past week. I moan as the thoughts begin to flood my mind, “WHY can’t I keep up with it all? WHY am I such a bad mom? WHY can’t I be a better help to my husband?” I aspired to do #allthethings. I planned to do #allthethings. So, what happened? Certainly the answer lies in my inefficiency, my inadequacy.

Somewhere in the middle of this self-deprecating sesh, Scriptural truth drowned out the noise of negative emotions:

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
2 Corinthians 9:7-8

I don’t have to do #allthethings — no one asked me to. But the things I choose to do and the ways I choose to serve others should be done with a cheerful heart. Not because it needs to be done but because I have intentioned to do it and to do it with a proper attitude of service. But how can I do this when I’m knee-deep in monotonous tasks and overwhelmed by my own inability?

Photo by Michael Carnevale on Unsplash

I rely on the grace of God which abounds to me. It is more than enough and is greater than #allthethings in the world put together! That changes everything. His grace is never out-matched by my lengthy to-do list or naively ambitious aspirations. He gives the measure of grace I need each day to do the things that really matter — to love my children and my husband, to serve others around me and proclaim the name of Christ as I go.

In his abundance, I find –though I may not be able to do #allthethings– I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. And I’m so grateful for #allthethings He has allowed me to do for Him today.

 

A “Thank You” That Means Something

Day 11, Five Minute Prompt: THANKS

The Didi at the coffee shop giggles and mocks me when I thank her for my caramel latte. The taxi driver shrugs his shoulders when I hop out of his taxi with a cheerful Dhanyavaad and the handful of bills he required. Even my neighbors visibly signal their dislike for my habit of voicing gratitude. After all, aren’t neighbors supposed to look after each other?

Saying “thank you” for every little tiny thing is largely an aspect of American culture. Many times A few times, I have laughed at myself for thanking the officer who so generously gave me a speeding ticket.

In my excessive expressing of gratitude, however, the phrase has lost its meaning. I thank my husband for passing the milk, but so rarely do I say “Thank you for paying the electricity bill” (which is no small feat here) or “Thank you for helping our daughter learn to read.”

Even less do I say, “Thank you for making time for our family, or “Thank you for your faithfulness to me.” Every day, meaningless thanks roll off my tongue but the taste of these words is new and strange.

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I think of the times I have felt overworked and under appreciated after a 12 hour shift with life-sucking toddlers. Arms around my waist and a “thank you” whispered in my ear turn me from stiff and sour to putty in his hands. I leave the work undone to melt into my husband’s side and wind down the day with too many words exchanged on a juice-splattered sofa.

Living the Golden Rule, I express gratitude for the sacrifices he makes. He is constantly balancing the pressures of work/ministry/family. I see his shoulders relax. As a man who relentlessly strives to excel in all areas, he needs reassurance that he’s the only one that thinks he’s dropping the ball.

Sure, he has responsibilities, and he is man enough to do them without a pat on the back. We are family, and appreciation goes without saying. But why should it?

Has “Thank You” lost its meaning in your marriage?
In what special way can you express gratitude to your spouse today?

Talk to me in the comment section!