Purposeful Faith

Author - Abby Mcdonald

The Things God Teaches Us in the Dark

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“I should’ve had all my babies in the summer,” I said jokingly to my friend. Only it wasn’t a joke. We were full into the flu season and I was trying to keep both boys healthy as we awaited the birth of our child- a girl. Trying and failing.

All of us caught colds in the final weeks before her arrival. Panic seized me as I imagined bringing our newborn home to a germ-infested house.

The fight against illness and seasonal elements was hard enough, but there was another battle waging. Another reason a winter baby gave me a sense of dread.

I remembered the months of depression that followed the birth of my first child, who was born in the middle of summer. Baby girl would arrive a few weeks before the official start of winter. The dreariness of the season always brought a gloomy mood with it, and on top of it we were adding newborn baby isolation.

A few weeks after our bout with illness, we brought our new girl home and the overcast weather swept in like clockwork. We weren’t supposed to take her into crowded places for a month.

The first few days I was too tired to care, but one afternoon I felt like the walls were closing in around me. Everything bothered me. I questioned my abilities as a mom and a wife, and at night when our newborn wouldn’t sleep, the tears came.

Sometimes when we go through difficult seasons of life, the lessons we learn stay with us. But most of them need repeating.

We humans are forgetful people.

As I repeated the mistakes I made with my firstborn, God brought me to some timely words from a fellow sojourner. And I realized in my sleep-deprived state I was assuming this battle against depression was purely an emotional one.

I was negating the spiritual side all together.

We have an enemy who loves to use our seasons of physical and emotional weaknesses to whisper spiritual lies. We are so much more gullible when we’re tired. We’re more likely to accept his lies as truth when we our bodies are healing from surgery, illness and pain.

But you want to know the beautiful irony in all this? Those times when the thief creeps in are also the times when God can do his mightiest works.

His power works best when we’re at our weakest point. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I tried to wrestle with God and walk in my own strength, but He just wanted me to let him carry me. Sure, I could take my vitamins, drink my coffee and catch cat naps here and there. All those things were needed.

But what I needed most was his grace. I needed it when I snapped at my husband and kids. Most of all, I needed it when I disappointed myself.

We can say his grace is sufficient for us, but change won’t come until we truly believe it. And it doesn’t just cover us enough for our shortcomings.

It drenches us.

The more I embraced this, the more the darkness shrank back and I saw the sun breaking behind the clouds.

The more I let him cover me, the more I saw that I didn’t have to pretend I had it all together. I could just be me, imperfections and all. And because of Jesus, that was enough.

Order Kelly Balarie’s new book, Fear Fighting today! Or, get all her blog posts by email. Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

What Does Casting Our Cares Even Mean?

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

Kids hear everything.

A few days ago I received a reminder of this. Even when we think they’re not listening or won’t be interested in the conversation, they hear. They pay attention. And yes, they take interest.

In the process of running my mouth to my husband on a phone call I thought was private, I transferred worry. My eight-year-old son who should be thinking about Santa Claus or how he’s going to finagle his next piece of candy was worrying about his baby sister instead.

Because I was worrying about his baby sister.

Our fears have a way of spreading, don’t they? Like they’re contagious. We think we’re carrying these burdens by ourselves, as though the weight of them may crush us. And then out of nowhere we see the weight is also being carried by others. Other loved ones. Other friends and members of the church body.

The crazy part though? It isn’t being carried in a way that lightens our load. We don’t feel any release. They’re anxious because we’re anxious. Instead of releasing the burden, we hold onto it, unaware of its virus-like effect.

A few days after the phone call with my husband, we put the kids to bed and sunk into the couch, watching mind-numbing TV on Netflix. He told me our son had confided in him about what he’d heard.

“I’m afraid Elise’s heart rate will drop, Dadda,” he had said.

When my husband asked why he was worried about this, big brother said, “Well, Mama is worried her heart rate will drop, so I’m worried too.”

My heart nearly broke.

I realized my son was becoming a mini version of me, fretting about the unknown neither one of us could control.

I thought about all the time I spent racing down endless trails of what-ifs. Now my son was adapting this habit that would only add to the circles under his eyes. The thought of it made me feel a knot in the pit of my stomach, and it wasn’t his baby sister.

A few days later, my mind went to 1 Peter and his thoughts on anxiety.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

I’ll admit, many times I’ve heard these words and thought, “What does that even mean?” The command seemed good in theory, but putting it into practice was vague and muddled to me.

But this time as pondered the verse, I thought about what Peter did for a living: fish. He cast his net repeatedly out into the water, hoping for a catch that would sustain.

Then I thought about how heavy those nets must have been. Like all of our problems we carry day after day, and how releasing that net must have felt like releasing the weight of the world.

Peter was a skilled fisherman, but once he released his net he ultimately had no control over the outcome. The fish could come or swim away. They could fill his net or fill someone else’s.

Casting our cares carries the same concept.

The cast is the release of control. Instead of fretting and running through endless scenarios in an attempt to micro-manage, we release the problem to God.

All the troubles we carried in our net become God’s to bear. The One who was in control all along takes the weight we were never intended to endure.

When I unknowingly cast my worry on my firstborn, he tried to carry it, but his tiny frame was too small. He was never meant to bear its load, so he and I both had to release it to the One who holds the future.

As we cast our nets, we still can’t see what lies ahead. But we know baby sister will be just fine.

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

The Only Sure Way to Multiply Your Time

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“We recommend an ultrasound around thirty-two weeks for women thirty-five and older,” the doctor said as he helped me sit up on the exam table.

I wanted to see baby girl’s sweet face, but my first thought was, “Do I have time for this?”

I had to pick up my son from school, and the procedure wasn’t scheduled.

I wish I had more time.

I looked at the time on my phone and decided if they were quick, I could make it. And less than fifteen minutes later, I marveled at growing life, seven months young.

Don’t blink.

I stared at the tiny figure on the screen, amazed at how her features had changed in twelve short weeks. She was almost ready to make her entrance into the world. I ignored the growing pressure on my bladder and enjoyed every inch of her.

The tech noticed my discomfort.

“Don’t worry hon. We’re almost done.”

At this point, the clock was no longer important.

“Oh, I’m fine,” I said, shifting my position slightly.

Take your time. This moment will never come again.

After a few minutes, she finished up and wiped the sticky gel off my belly. I held the series of snapshots she’d captured, grateful to have a keepsake of this time.

Time is all we have in this life, isn’t it? And lately, pregnancy has me in a constant flux of slow down and hurry up.

I’m so tired of being pregnant. I can’t wait to meet our little girl.

Oh wait! The nursery isn’t ready. Slow down, baby. Just a little while longer.

A few days after my doctor’s appointment, my oldest son lost another tooth. His first one on the top and another milestone. I snapped a picture of his smile with my iPhone and thought about the first time I held him in my arms.

Now I can’t pick him up without paying for it with back spasms.

In every moment I want to grab and freeze a while longer, I realize that I can’t slow time. I can’t stop my kids from growing up or keep them in their toddler beds until they’re teenagers.

I can’t stop them from asking questions I am completely unprepared to answer like, “Where do babies come from?” or “Can I be in the delivery room when she’s born?”

When a dear friend is offered a job in another state, I can’t stop her from moving away. I wouldn’t want to.

And as the warm air turns brisk and the leaves turn vibrant shades of red and orange, I know I can’t slow their fall.

Time will not slow down, but I can.

I can stop and look people in the eye. I can put down my phone when someone is talking to me and listen to what they’re saying instead of rehearsing how I’ll respond. When someone seems distant, I can reach out instead of pretending nothing is wrong.

Time is all we have.

When you’re growing a little human inside of you, you’re made painfully aware of the ticking clock. Each kick and discomfort reminds you time is not only precious, but short.

I see countless articles on social media about ways to multiply your time, multi-task and get the most out of each second. But the longer I carry this baby, the more I see the truth.

Perhaps the only sure way to multiply our time is to savor it.

It isn’t by rushing from one activity to the next or trying to do twenty things at once. It’s by being intentional, slowing down, and seeing the blessings right here in front of us.

A well-known passage from Ecclesiastes beautifully describes the seasons of life and how there’s a time for each one. A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to be silent and a time to speak. (Ecclesiastes 3)

As I read the passage today, what struck me is how the writer doesn’t say, “A time to rush through life. A time to multi-task.”

Because a life spent rushing isn’t a life at all.

Time is all we have, friends. Let’s spend it savoring the things that matter most.

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Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

The Good Found in the Darkness (Linkup)

I can’t sleep without white noise. Whether it’s a fan, air purifier or an app on my phone, I need that gentle hum to lull me into oblivion.

My husband travels several times a year for work, and sometimes during his absence I turn the noise up a notch. Every sound in the house except for that air purifier sends me into a panic.

I check the locks on the doors three or four times. I stand by the kids’ bedroom doors to make sure they’re asleep. I pace the house wondering.

Was that a mouse in our attic? Was it a squirrel? Or was it an intruder looking for a way inside the house?

 Now, we live in a fairly safe neighborhood. But it only takes an hour of drama on Netflix or the latest news story to send my mind into high-anxiety mode.

There’s something about the darkness that makes us uncomfortable, isn’t there?

We fear what’s lurking in the shadows. We like the awareness the light brings- a sense of control, a knowledge of what surrounds us and even what threatens us.

Come on over to Abby McDonald’s blog to read the rest of this post! She’s hosting the #RaRaLinkup today. We’d love to have you join us and share your encouraging post.

 

When You Feel Abandoned By God

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“Well, this isn’t how you prayed this moment would turn out.”

The thought passed through my filter of truth and circled my mind on repeat. I knew it was a lie, but I listened to it. I stood there with my four-year-old, who was starting a new school, and tried to hold back tears.

His own tears flowed freely.

“I want to go to old school,” he said repeatedly. The school staff gathered around, trying to calm him.

“Buddy, this is your school now. You’re going to have lots of fun and you get to go to school with Jay,” I said, faking composure.

Big brother stood beside us, cool as a cucumber. He told little one everything was going to be okay and talked about the things he was going to do with his class.

I looked at my firstborn’s cherub-like face with amazement. He was a little beacon of sunshine in this mess of a morning. A reminder from God that He was still there.

The guidance counselor distracted little one with a walk over to the school’s pet lizard and settled him. With her prompting, I snuck outside to my car, praying my baby’s day would improve.

My day did not. A rough morning with my youngest turned out to be only the start of hours of chaos and like an old habit, I questioned God again.

Why is this happening? Please, God. Make it stop.

For weeks, anxiety over life’s circumstances had been mounting. I worried about my youngest starting school. I worried about a family conflict. My mind turned to the baby growing inside me and I worried about the postpartum months.

You’re not going to have anyone to help you. You’re going to be alone.

With each lie I listened to, I was more overwhelmed. And this crazy day was the culmination of it all, begging to verify all my worries were true.

Except they weren’t.

Those beacons of light that began with my firstborn’s calm demeanor kept coming. A friend offered to help with the kids at the last minute when I needed to go to the doctor.

You’re not alone. You have friends to lend you a hand.

In the middle of a pregnancy scare, I called my doctor’s office to set up a spur of the moment prenatal visit. And in a practice with a dozen doctors, I got an appointment with the one I trusted the most.

I’m here with you in the chaos, child. I haven’t gone anywhere.

When troubles abound, we’re tempted to question God. It’s our human nature. But you know what? The flesh is a liar.

It lied to Eve in the garden when she listened to the serpent and felt like she was lacking something, even though she lacked nothing. It lied to David when, in the midst of being pursued by Saul, he thought God had abandoned him. (Psalm 13:1)

Our circumstances may change like the wind, but God’s faithfulness does not.

He is steady and constant, reaching into our problems with a soft whisper, “I am with you. I go behind you and before you.”

That pregnancy scare? It turned out to be a false alarm. And my sweet Gabe transitioned into his new school with ease after a rough first morning. While I know things won’t always turn out the way I desire, my chaos-filled day served as a reminder of one simple truth: God never leaves.

The next time you’re in a middle of a storm, look for the beacon of light. It may be as faint as a jet stream, but it’s there. And when you find it remember at your weakest point, He is strong.

He’s whispering to you in the storm. You just have to focus your ears and listen.

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AbbyView More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015 McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

 

 

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When Grief is Great and Your Words Are Weak

Post by Abby McDonald

Today we’re saying goodbye to one of the oldest members of our family. She doesn’t wear human skin or express herself in many syllables, but she’s loved just the same.

She’s the four-legged kind. A blondie. A dear friend named Coco.

She and our other mutt brought my husband and I together thirteen years ago with their mutual love for walks and chasing furry creatures. And as they say, well, the rest is history.

Since I’m pregnant and rather hormonal the realization that our companion is dying hit me rather hard. But I believe during those hard seasons God often speaks the loudest, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

As my husband wrapped his arms around me and my round belly this morning, I reflected,

“It’s amazing how God speaks to us through our animals.”

I’d been observing our two girls over the past couple of days. Our other dog, Zoe, knew something was up and her disposition had changed. She’d become more affectionate, more calm, wanting to be near us often.

One day I let both of them out on our back porch while I cleaned. After about a half hour, I peeked through the window. Coco laid on the doormat, like she always does, and Zoe reclined behind her, practically spooning her with her legs.

She stayed in the same position until I let them inside, only leaving Coco’s side for an occasional drink of water. It was as though she was saying, “I’m here for you, girl. It’s okay.”

But she didn’t need words to say it. Her presence was enough.

As I thought about these mutts who started our family, I realized how often I use words to fill the empty spaces of grief. Not because they’re needed, but because I think they are. I have friends and family members who are walking through difficulties much harder than a dying pet, and the silence of sadness can be awkward.

I focus on myself and my need to fill the void rather than the grieving person’s need to simply know I’m there. To know I’m not going anywhere, and that the discomfort of grief won’t keep me from loving them.

When it comes to grief, silence always speaks louder than empty words.

Sometimes a hug goes further than a platitude and a listening ear further than a trite explanation.

“Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” Job 2:13 NIV

When we can’t mouth the words to Jesus because of the weight of our sadness, He still hears us. He’s that good of a Savior and a friend.

Job’s friends modeled the behavior of Jesus himself when he encountered those who were grieving a deep loss. If we look into the scriptures and walk through the chapter of his life where a close friend died, we see that his words were few. And even though he foresaw the miracle, he wept. (John 11:25)

Today as I run my fingers through my companion’s soft fur for the last few times and reflect on these verses, I know my love for words won’t change. I’ll keep offering them up as praise, encouragement, and a gift at the altar of the One who gave them to me.

But I pray God will give me wisdom to know when words are weak. Because even when I have nothing to say, his healing power is still strong.

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View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

The Promise Inside the Sting of Rejection

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I remember watching my firstborn get his first taste of rejection. He was about two at the time, and he leaned in to give his older female playmate a kiss.

On the mouth.

She looked at him, wide-eyed and a little mortified, and backed away. I couldn’t help but chuckle but my sweet toddler took it in stride. He knew he was cute, and her lack of interest didn’t stifle his confidence.

We kiss in our family. We show unrestrained love. But I know that once we go outside the walls of this home, those unstated rules of conduct change. My two-year-old didn’t know these rules but at that age, who does?

As he’s gotten older, the tide has shifted. Rejection hurts. I remember the first time he cried after a spat with a friend who said, “I’m not your friend anymore.” I’ve seen kids come in and out of his life, sometimes later to return.

He’s usually able to roll with the stings and the snubs, but he’s not bulletproof. And I don’t want him to be. As much as I’d love to see him never cry, get hurt or given a cold shoulder from a friend, I know he has to experience these things to truly live.

A week ago I sat at my computer reading a rejection email from an online publisher and I realized the prick of “no” may change in nature, but the pain doesn’t.

When we see the pictures of the get-together we weren’t invited to plastered on Facebook, we may feel like we’re in our high school skin all over again.

When we extend the invite to the new acquaintance from church and are repeatedly shunned, we may wonder why we even bother.

We may feel like crawling into a hole with our popcorn and Netflix marathons so that we never have to feel the ache of another “no,” another denial, another wave of apathy and disregard.

But can I tell you something? The blessing is worth it. The “yes” is worth it. When you don’t think you can extend yourself one more time, remember this.

 We serve a God who was rejected in the most brutal, public way. He did it for you. For me. He did it so we could experience life and love and yes, pain. He never rejoices in our pain but he knows it’s sometimes necessary for us to grow.

But we can’t live if we’re constantly trying to protect ourselves. We can’t live if we let fear of pain and rejection rule our lives.

For over a year of my life, I stared at what I thought was a closed door. I counted cracks in the ceiling, and our recliner and a good book became my best friends.

I was tired of trying to make friends. I was tired of the blank stares.

Since I didn’t have anyone else to talk to, I talked to God. He hears us, you know. And he’s the always the best person to talk to. The first and the last.

After months of staring at ceiling cracks, I wasn’t sure God heard me. Silly, right? But then, I made a connection. And then another and another.

I discovered community, life and purpose. I discovered friendship, yeses and open hands.

Keeping our hands open isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. When we make those kindred connections and see those invitations extended, it’s worth the “no’s,” the stings and the heartache.

The next time you’re rejected, remember the promise of the One who was rejected most of all. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5). And he’s working and listening, even when we don’t see it.

Keep your hands and your doors open, friends. You never know what God may have for you on the other side.

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View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

 

How a Black and White View of the World is Ruining Our Witness

ruining our witness

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

My seven-year-old has asked questions for as long as he could string sentences together. He is a sponge learning about the world around him, and he loves figuring out how things work.

Often, he asks me a question I don’t know the answer to. And parents are supposed to have all the answers, right? But I don’t, so I simply tell him I’ll have to look into it and get back to him, or I’ll help him find the answer.

A few months ago, I discovered he was learning about storms at school. He loves engineering and science, and was repeating some of the things he’d learned about tornados, hurricanes, and floods.

Partly because he goes to a public school, I like to hear about his curriculum. I give him reminders about how God orchestrated all of this, and how nothing is out of his control.

I don’t do this so that he won’t ask questions, but so he will have a strong foundation for asking them. He continues to ask, and I am humbled because often, I have to search. I have to request wisdom from God, who generously gives it to me when I come to him.

After a recent conversation I jumped on social media and found a rather heated debate taking place about whether it was okay for Christians to drink wine. Some of the comments were downright degrading.

I wondered, when did we stop asking questions and assume we were always right?

It’s as though the age of social media has gotten rid of any knowledge that we may, in fact, be human. That we may not always hit the nail on the head the first time.

That we may still be fallen creatures.

And yet we stand loud and proud on our platform, hidden behind the screen, proclaiming we know everything.

I’m not disputing there’s right and wrong. The clash between good and evil is clearly shown in scripture. And yet there are so many issues the Bible does not address. Things where we are required to follow the Spirit’s leading and exercise judgment.

And yet all too often, we speak as though we are Jesus himself. We make assertions about right and wrong in his name, regardless of whether his word affirms any of it.

I don’t know about you, but the last time I looked in the mirror I did not see Jesus’ reflection. I don’t want that authority and I’m sure if I had even an inkling of it, I would abuse it.

His Spirit lives in me, counsels me and directs me, but I am not him. I am still very much a human tainted by sin, flesh and selfishness. I pray everyday others will see a little bit of him in me, but I still fail.

I’m afraid that many of us who call ourselves Christians live, whether knowingly or not, in a world of black and white. But friends, not everything is black and white.

And if we stand up and proclaim we know it all, is there room for growth? Is there space for us to move forward in our walk with Christ and be made into his likeness if we’ve already arrived at the pinnacle, knowing all things?

I don’t think so. There’s no space for humility either, because our pride has made us think we can’t be wrong.

When we enter into a relationship with God, he doesn’t clothe us with robes of self-righteousness. He clothes us in his righteousness.

When we think otherwise, we go down an ugly path of self-sufficiency. But his power isn’t made perfect through my self-sufficiency and arrogance. It’s made perfect through my weakness.

As we interact with others online today, things may get heated. Our nerves may get pricked and we may encounter some hurtful comments.

If this happens, let’s give ourselves space to breathe. Let’s extend the grace Christ gave to us toward others remember there is only one person who has all the answers.

And he isn’t of this world.

 

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Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

HGTV, Pinterest, and the Things That Matter {Link-up}

the things that matter

I have a love-hate relationship with HGTV. And Pinterest. And all of those fixer-upper shows.

My husband and I moved into a fixer-upper several years ago, and while we’ve done a lot of cosmetic upgrades, there are still things I’d like to change. But life doesn’t stop for remodels and the kids don’t stop needing new shoes, so for now we pushed the pause button.

Most days I’m perfectly happy having friends over to eat in my 70’s kitchen. But every now and then, I hear those voices saying what I have to offer isn’t good enough.

It’s a dismal truth, but it’s there.

Those voices interrupted my thoughts several weeks ago when I was having a dear friend fly in to speak at our local MOPS group. She was staying overnight, and in the weeks leading up to her arrival we made some preparations to ensure she was as comfortable as possible.

I was excited to have her visit and for the chance to connect in person, since she lives several states away. That is, until I visited her home. A couple of weeks before her visit, I joined some friends at her house for a weekend retreat.

Today the #RaRaLinkup is being hosted over at Abby McDonald’s place. Click here to join us!

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Don’t Settle for Safe

settle for safe

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“God, take the decision out of my hands.”

I didn’t say the prayer out loud, but I may as well have. For months, I had gone back and forth over a life-altering choice that would change our family forever: whether or not to have another baby.

And every time I thought I’d decided, the endless trail of what-ifs froze me in my tracks. What if we lost the baby? I’d reached the age some doctors consider “high risk”, so what if the baby was born with a birth defect? Of course, I’d have to have another surgery and what if it didn’t go well?

So instead of making a decision, I remained in a state of inertia. The unknowns loomed over me like an unpredictable storm, and I my feet were stationary.

One day in early spring, something shifted. My mama instincts kicked in and I knew the possibility of new life was real. I could taste it. Fear and excitement overwhelmed me in alternating waves, and I spent the morning waiting to buy the test confirming my suspicions were right.

God handed us this gift of life and said, “Here. I know the desires of your heart.”

Sometimes, God knows what we need better than we do.

We try our best to protect our hearts, but he simply wants us to trust Him.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 NIV

He wants to give us good and perfect gifts, but we’re often clenching our fists too tightly to receive them. We move around the spheres of our lives, thinking if we can hold onto the gifts we have we will be happy, but God wants to give us so much more.

We have to keep our hands open to receive what he has for us. And as I watched the colors on the stick change and the clear positive sign appear, it was as though God was saying, “I am for you, child. I am not against you.”

I know there are still a lot of ifs on the road ahead of us. Every morning when I wake up, they try to overtake my thoughts like the steam engine that courses through our town at regular intervals.

But when the darkness of the unknown hits, I repeat this truth over and over: My God is for me. He is not against me. Do you believe he is for you too?

If we live our lives stuck in a state of what if, our what ifs will become could-have-beens. And I don’t want to live my life that way.

I want to live a life fueled by the One who never settled for safe.

As this new spirit continues to grow inside of me, so does the passion to move forward into unchartered waters. It may not always be easy, but heaven knows it will be an adventure.

Will you take his hand and come with me? I’ll see you past the break tide.

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Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.