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Irish Springs Bring Peace! 

Irish Springs Bring Peace by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder of Refreshing Life With Naima

Every now and then I like to confess something just a little strange about myself.  I’m an avid War Movie buff with Hacksaw Ridge, Miracle at St. Anna's and When We Were Soldiers being my three favorites.  I am an introvert by nature, I like to be alone and although I love to sing, I don’t really like being in front of people.  And Rum Raisin and Pistachio are my favorite ice cream flavors…  but one of the strangest things about me is that I have a peculiar fascination with soap. 

And I do mean peculiar. I love the way a good bar of soap feels in my hands.  I can tell you which brands have the best lather, which retain their scent the longest, and which ones get you the cleanest.  I can even tell you when brands change their formula resulting in inferior or superior soap quality.  My husband’s love language is gift giving – and he gives good gifts.  Out of all of the wonderful gifts he gave me last Christmas, the gift I treasured the most was a basked of soaps he had curated from different shops and vendors – BEST GIFT EVER! I spent a good portion of Christmas Day with my nose in the basket inhaling deeply, opening soaps testing them out and placing them in baggies so I could retain their fragrance. 

My struggles with food addiction have never been a secret, I walk this thing out on a daily basis.  I find in times of great strain it is easy to reach for a cookie, when I should be laying before the Lord.  The euphoria of the moment of chewing for some strange reason brings a sense of false calm and deceptive peace – because there is always a price to pay. 

These last few months have been difficult and I’ve found myself falling short quite a bit.  But then something interesting happened.  I was in that melancholic artist mood, distraught about some thing I can’t even remember now, and I opened the fridge to see what was inside.  But then I thought – well actually I believe the Lord whispered to me – you need to wash your hands you’ve been cleaning.  

I found myself at the sink, lathering up my hands with some $5.00 soap that I had brought from the local department store, a good quality soap.  It was called Coastal Waters and the more I rubbed it together the thicker the lather became and the calmer I felt. I stood there for a good ten minutes, singing and washing my hands, lather everywhere, hands soft and wrinkled from the water.  But it felt so good, I felt so much better.  And let’s face it, washing my hands is a much healthier habit then eating a bunch of junk food with my health challenges. 

I thought to myself, what if every time I feel like the world is ending I came to the sink and washed my hands? What if the sink became my altar, my holy place? A memory floated up from the past at that moment… When I was in my early 30’s working with the youth group living in Ohio, I would carry in my purse a box of Irish Spring Soap.  And whenever I needed a moment, needed to focus, needed peace, needed clarity, I would take that soap out and sniff it! Everyone would laugh at me, but I was able to accomplish so much more because of a love of soap that the Lord put in me.  Yes, Irish Springs brought me peace. 

Now when I feel like I need a moment, I run to the sink to wash my hands and sing or talk to Jesus.  It leaves me with a peace I can’t express.  Maybe you need a touchstone, a holy place that you can run to when times are hard.  It may not be at the sink washing your hands, but finding out what it is will help you live a life of joy in the perfection of His will. 

So wash your hands. Make yourselves clean. Get your evil actions out of my sight!

Stop doing what is wrong! Isaiah 1:16

The See Saw 

The See Saw by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder, The Refreshing Life with Naima

Balance… that’s what I’m learning these days. Sometimes life is like a tipping scale, or a see saw, spend too much time on one area and the see saw goes wacky and tosses everything on the other end high into the air! My see saw has my personal life on one end and my ministry/professional life on the other. Over the last month I’ve seen that see saw totter back and forth unevenly most of the time. I’ve seen quite a few things go flying as well! And the fall out has not always been good… have you ever seen a little kid get tossed from a see saw, there is usually blood involved in those crash landings. I personally have been on the losing end of a see saw battle, dropped so hard my teeth chattered and my backside ached. I’ve been flung so hard and high I had to grip the little handle for dear life. 

What I’ve been learning over the last month is that it’s ok to let the see saw swing, you can’t always keep it perfectly balanced although for your own mental health and spiritual peace you should try.  You should also know when not to try so hard. Christ should always remain in the center… think of Him as that brave older kid who stood in the middle of the see saw balancing perfectly as you rode up and down. A good see saw ride should be smooth, going up and down equally, with little stress and with great rhythm. The point is to enjoy the ride! If you have a dream, a ministry, a desire deep in your heart that your working towards make sure you’re taking time to balance the see saw, let Christ stand in the middle helping you to balance and enjoy the ride! 

 Keeping Balance 

- Stay in prayer, keep Christ in the center 

- Make time to read your Word, pray, meditate and be involved in church 

- Determine what your priorities are and make decisions for your life based on these priorities 

- Schedule personal time and stick to it 

- Take care of yourself, exercise and eat right 

- Don’t work after the time you’ve set as the end of your work day 

- Deal with problems right away, don’t be afraid of confrontation, handle conflict in a Christ like manner 

- Always pause to listen to your loved ones

- NO is and always will be, a complete sentence.

Want to learn more about Balancing your life? Contact me for more information about, Joy School, a program specifically designed to bring more joy, more prayer and more thankfulness into your life! Contact Naima!

 

Domestic Violence In The Church!? 

Domestic Violence In The Church - A Video Blog with LJ and Novica Olinger, Jr. of Marriage Matters

 

Did you know that domestic violence occurs more frequently in Christian marriages then in secular marriages? In this video blog, Elders LJ and Novica Olinger share the stats, stories and vital information about this growing problem in the church today. Watch the video below for more information and an engaging insight on this troublesome topic.

 

 

Elders Larry and Novica Olinger are powerful and anointed marriage mentors - for more information about their work or to seek assistance on marital issues, contact them here: www.marriagematterstoday.com

In The Pit 

In The Pit by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder of the Refreshing Life

I promised myself that I would never return to this place.  But I look around and find myself halfway back to the start. What is it that is so broken in me that seems unable to walk in the fullness of Christ’s healing? 

Yep, I’ve found that I’ve picked up quite a few pounds. I can blame it on the sudden move last year, dealing with aging puppies who have been like children to me, infertility with my own advancing age, family illness or the sudden death of three loves, or just being super busy.  But that does not cut it. 

The truth of the matter is that I’m a food addict. And when I take my eyes off Christ, there is trouble ahead.  Addiction is a tricky thing. Just when you think you’ve conquered it, when it’s under your feet, when you’ve given it over to the Lord, you blink and find yourself deep in a pit. 

Living in a pit is not ideal – seriously.  You can’t see what’s going on around you because you are down so low.  

You can’t go where you want to go because you don’t have the physical strength to climb the walls. 

And you find yourself slipping even deeper in a hole because you keep making choices with a shovel and the dirt is piling up around your knees as you sink lower and lower. 

I hate pits. I have no desire to be Joseph stuck down below waiting to sell my own self back into a slavery that I have already escaped.  There really is only one solution, to get on my knees in this dark dank place and scrape a little foothold into the side of the wall. Then to take a step up and dig another little place for my hand to rest. until I find myself climbing up, up, up! 

I refuse to fall all the way back down the rabbit hole, not when I have a song to sing and a God who hears and comes when I call out to Him – so I guess I’d better get to scooping and climbing. 

 

I waited patiently for the Lord, He inclined to me and heard my cry. He lifted me up from te pit of destruction, out of the miry clay.

He set my feet upon a rock and made my footsteps firm.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see

and fear and put their trust in the Lord. 

Psalm 40:1-3

I'd love to hear your thoughts! Leave me a comment below or check us out on Facebook at: The Refreshing Life With Naima

#weightloss #healthandwellness #foodaddiction #escapingthepit #josephinthepit

How To Choose You In 2019 

How to Choose You in 2019 - Guest Post by Cheryl Lacey Donovan

 

Love your neighbor as “YOURSELF” Matthew 22:39 

Imagine sitting at you desk at the age of 35. All of a sudden you have difficulty breathing, your chest is racing, your arm is hurting, and you begin to sweat. Every thought imaginable crosses your mind. 

Eventually you find the strength to summon someone into your office and they tell you that you don’t look so good. A call to 911 and a subsequent hospital say let you that it could’ve been worse. This time it was only anxiety. Next time you might not be so blessed. 

That was me several years ago. It was in that moment that I realized the importance of taking care of me. 

Choosing yourself is a crucial part of your success and happiness in life. While some may see this as selfish the truth is selfish people always choose themselves, but those who choose themselves aren’t always being selfish. 

Choosing you simply means that you put yourself first when it’s necessary; you take your own health and feelings into consideration and, when necessary, you put those feelings and needs over the wants of others. People who are merely selfish always put their needs and wants over the needs of others. 

So how can you start to choose yourself? 

1) Stop and Think Before You Just Say Yes Out of Politeness 

This was probably one of the biggest lessons I learned. While it’s good to be open to new things, taking on too much work or too many obligations can overwhelm you and harm your overall mental health. 

Instead of immediately saying yes, why not pause and reflect on your own needs. Then get back to the person later with your answer.  

Can you take on more work or another event? 

Can you handle a party, or do you need to go home and recharge your batteries? 

It’s okay to politely decline an invitation or to help someone when it’s necessary. 

2) Treat Yourself with Kindness 

Part of choosing yourself is treating yourself well. If you don’t treat yourself kindly and with respect, how can you expect others to do it? Stop being so hard on yourself; we all make mistakes, choose poorly, and miss the mark sometimes. 

Give yourself a break and forgive yourself for your errors; as long as you learn from them, it’s all a part of life. A good way to practice this is by giving yourself pep talks throughout your day. 

You don’t have to do this out loud, but the act of deliberately thinking positive and inspiring thoughts about yourself will help you to overcome this obstacle and improve your self-esteem and confidence. 

3) Speak Up for Yourself 

Another big part of choosing yourself is standing up for yourself and your beliefs. You matter just as much as anyone else and so does your opinion. Practice stating your opinions, views, wants, etc. and standing up for yourself when necessary. You’re important and you deserve to be heard. 

4) Take Care of Yourself 

Part of getting into the habit of choosing yourself is choosing to take care of yourself. You’re only given one body and one life; you need to take care of it. 

Eat healthy food, exercise regularly, maintain proper sleep habits, go to the doctor when necessary, and do what you need to minimize stress and improve your mental health. It’s hard to choose yourself in social situations if you aren’t healthy enough to be in social situations. 

5) Let Go of Toxic People 

Everyone that is in your circle is not in your circle. What I mean is, everyone isn’t for you. Even if they come to every meeting, attend every event, and communicate with you on a regular basis. Look at is this way there were throngs of people who followed Jesus and therefore could be considered disciples. Of those, Jesus only chose twelve to really get to know Him. Of those twelve, only three were in His intimate inner circle. And let’s not forget that one of the twelve betrayed Him. 

Letting go of toxic people isn’t only a step towards choosing yourself, but also a crucial step in maintaining good mental health. Toxic people bring no good into our lives; they tear us down and keep us there. 

The only way to survive this type of situation is to get out of it. Choose yourself and let go of the people that only mean you harm. 

6) Remind yourself you’re Worth It 

If you don’t love you, who will? Know who you are and whose you are and remind yourself of it daily. Remember to see yourself the way God sees you and only speak the things about yourself that God says. “You’re fearfully and wonderfully made.” “You can do all things through Christ.” “You’re more than a conqueror.” 

As we said before, people often have a pre-conceived (and mistaken) notion that being your own cheerleader is an act of selfishness. However, this effort is more in the name of self-care. Sometimes you just have to encourage yourself. 

You’re choosing yourself in situations where it is necessary: when you can’t take on a larger workload, when you can’t handle more obligations, when you need to remove a toxic person from your life, etc. You’re doing this because you’re worth it. 

You are your own best champion, always remember that and choose you in 2019. 

Cheryl Lacey Donovan is an award winning author, speaker, moderator, educator, and media personality. Learn more by visiting her website http://www.cherylspeaks.org.

#starting2019right #cheryllaceydonovan #journeytojoy #christianselfcare

Happy Thanksgiving! 

An Exercise In Gratitude! by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder of the Refreshing Life

Well... 2018 is almost in the history books and here we are on the cusp of another Thanksgiving season!  Of course many people use this month to practice gratitude, volunteer, give and be a blessing.  But shouldn't we practice gratitude each and every day of our lives? Of course we should... but that doesn't mean that a holiday like Thanksgiving doesn't have it's place. 

I like to think of Thanksgiving as a memorial, a touch stone, a celebratory monument that we build each year like our forefathers did in Biblical times to commemorate the mighty acts of the Lord. Abraham, Joshua and Moses were always building monuments in honor of the great things the Lord had done.   

That's how I choose to look at this season of heightened awareness of why we should be thankful and why we should be of service.  I am in the last week of my first session of Joy School - if you missed it, I hope you'll participate in our next session next spring, it's been an amazing experience!  But one of the activities the participants engaged in was a seven day gratitude scavenger hunt challenge.   I thought it would be cool to share one of the days with you.  It's listed below and the directions are simple,  since it's a scavenger hunt, you have to follow the directions listed below!   

Day Three - Gratitude Scavenger Hunt 
We Are Thankful That We Can Be A Blessing To Others!

Today:

Find Something To Give Away 
Donate To Your Favorite Cause 
Volunteer Your Time To A Cause You Believe In 
Tell Someone Something To Encourage Them 
Do Something For Someone Anonymously  
Share with someone your memorization scripture 

Memorization Scripture 

PSALM 50:23: A SACRIFICE OF GRATITUDE 
“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly 
I will show the salvation of God!” 
  
So much fun! If you choose to try even one of these challenges, please let me know how it goes for you! Better yet take a picture, post it to social media and tag me in the post! 

Jon and I are wishing you a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

I'd love to hear your thoughts, shoot me a note or leave a comment here on the blog!

If you want to be one of the first to learn more about JOY School 2019 get on the list here: Joy School 2019

#benefitsofbeingthankful #gratefulness #christianlifestyle #healthandwellnessblogs

Jesus and Disney 

Jesus and Disney by Leann Lemons Winton

Now that I have your attention.  This is such a controversial statement. Trust me, I know!  Can the two even go together? Well, stick with me for a bit and let me show you what I think. 

DISCLAIMER: I do not agree with everything Disney.  

I said it. I don’t agree with everything Disney.  In fact, there are a lot of things that I down right say will not be on my tv or in our sight.  That’s just the plain truth of it.  As a mother of two beautiful girls, I waited for almost 20 years for them to come in to my life.  Having said that I am very careful to what they put into their eyes and ears.  

Being a pastor’s wife, mom and business owner, I mull over every decision I make.  Things have to filter through lots of lenses.  First is through the lens of my savior Jesus Christ.  I have to first please Him and everything I do must represent Him.  I am also accountable to my husband, my family and the church we planted close to 10 years ago.  It weighs heavy on me that I am an example of Christ to my little world in central Indiana. 

I come from a home that was based on God and the foundations of the Bible. We were very poor growing up and almost every year we would make the trip to my grandparent’s house in Deltona, Florida.  We would spend most of the time there hanging out and maybe going to the beach a couple of times but the highlight would be going to Walt Disney World.  

It was such a treat to be able to go.  I’m not really sure how my parents made it happen for my brother, sister and myself, but it made lasting memories that I cherish.  I dreamed of the day I could take my family to the most magical place on earth.  

This time was filled with such amazing memories for me and the most important memory was the importance of family.  You see, 20 years ago at the age of 20, my brother Jeff passed away.  I hold on to those very sweet and simple times my family got to spend together.  I decided that when I had a family, I wanted them to have such sweet memories too. 

In 20 years of ministry one of the saddest things we see is the lack of family.  In the two church plants that I have helped my husband plant this is a common denominator.  After the 20 years waiting for our daughters to come into our life through adoption, I was determined to make family a priority. 

My burden for family has brought these two things together, Jesus and Disney. 

Families seem to, now more than ever, have no time.  Our time is filled with work, school, sports, hobbies, and on and on.  Things that were foundations of a simpler life, like when I was growing up, are not a priority anymore.  There is no time for God or family. I mean, those things will always be there right?  

The simple truth is that we need to make these things a priority.  I started to help families find time for rest and togetherness so they can serve the Kingdom of God even better.  I found that when my family took a vacation, especially to Walt Disney World, we came back better equipped to minister to our community. 

The Disney bubble is a real thing.  Things happen when we get to Disney and escape the burdens of our busy lives. We have rested.  We have been inspired to create. We have bonded. We have made memories. 

This love of God, families, and Disney has become a ministry for me.  How can Disney become a ministry?  I help families and especially pastor’s families plan a Disney vacation on a tight budget.  I know how some struggle with finances and being burnt out and they need time to refresh.  They need to regroup. What better place to do that than by taking that dream trip to Disney.  

My sister and I started our Youtube channel over 5 years ago to show people how to accomplish this dream. We teach people how to go on any budget and make the most of your trip by using tips, tricks and hacks.  Also, we use it as a platform to tell people about Jesus.  This community needs it.  Disney is not a Christian company. I know that.  We see ourselves as a light to this community and have ministered publicly and privately to many over these years.  We have now expanded and have an Etsy shop where we sell Disney inspired candles and shirts.  And just recently I have become a Disney Travel Specialist and officially help families plan their trips to any of the Disney Destinations.  

I will say it again.  I do not agree with all that the Disney company does or says.  

I believe in family.  It’s important to Jesus.  It’s important to me. 

Leann Winton is a Pastor's Wife, mother, business owner, ministry leader and church planter who is passionate about Jesus, families, adoption and Disney. She has a growing YouTube Station with her sister and business partner, Amanda Lemons Ables where they share about Jesus, Disney reviews, tips, tricks and park visits to make a vacation to the Magical Kingdom affordable for all.  To learn more about Leann, the work she does or if you need help booking your Disney Vacation contact her at the links below!

www.thelemonssisters.com 

www.vacationwithleann.com

I Am One In Four Part Two 

I Am One In Four - Part Two by Heather Hughes

(If missed the first part of this guest post, please scroll back to read Part One from last week)

Based on all we had walked leading up to her birth, all the doctors' reports, I was positive she would be an only child. Because honestly, there was no medical reason for her to be here. She was truly a miracle baby. I became pregnant again. There were also issues early on in my pregnancy and I was put back on modified bed rest. At this point, even before we knew if I was carrying a boy or a girl, my husband and I decided this would be our last child. 

Pregnancy was too hard and it was emotionally exhausting. When we found out we were having a boy, we were thrilled. We were going be a family of four. This was way more than we expected back in 07. At this point my husband and I were on the same page. We felt a peace about being done having children because of all we had walked. Our little boy came after we had experienced the Nashville Flood of 2010 and a summer that broke long standing heat records. When I looked at the picture of the four of us, I was honestly content. The Lord answered major prayers and had blessed us with two healthy children. 

Little did we know the Lord would give us one more blessing. My husband and I were not trying to get pregnant. In fact, we were trying to be careful. We found out we were expecting again soon after we brought our new son home and we were in shock. While a part of me was thrilled, I knew what I had walked with our other two children and wasn't sure I could walk it again. 

The first ultrasound with our third brought another heartache. When we looked at the screen there were two babies. I was pregnant with twins! I was ecstatic. The tech then looked at me and said "Baby B has no cardiac movement." 

Her tone was harsh and I was again crushed. The tears started and stayed for most of the rest of the day. Based on what the radiologist saw, we were told I was carrying identical twins. We lost baby B due to a chromosomal abnormality. 

I can't tell you the anxiety that came with the rest of that pregnancy. I had similar issues to my other pregnancies, but now there was uncertainty about the health of our baby. I carried my anxiety in private. I never voiced anything to my OB or my husband. Our child was a planned c-section because my daughter had been an emergency c-section and our older son had also been born vie c-section.  Even though we had been told he was healthy, I still carried concerns of unknown issues until he actually started school. 

Our journey to parenthood was anything, but easy. All three of our children are walking, talking miracles. I still mourn the loss of our other four children. I often wonder what they would have looked like. What would their personalities have been? What would their interests have been? I try to imagine myself as a mother of seven. 

Miscarriages and infertility issues caused struggles in my marriage and my faith. I can't say I handled it with grace and dignity. There were many nights where I would cry myself to sleep. I stopped going to church on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day because it was just too hard. I would send gifts to baby showers, but I wouldn't attend. 

Please know, as long as you are not causing harm to yourself, there is no right or wrong way to grieve your loss. Again, miscarriages are real losses to be grieved. We all handle this type of loss in different ways. One way for me to find closure and peace with the loss of my children was to name them. While I only know for certain the sex of one of my four, I feel in my heart that I miscarried one girl and three boys. I had several friends who reminded me that even though my children weren't in my arms, I was still a mother. You are still a mother! 

Please don't walk this path alone. Reach out to your inner circle. Find a group of women who have also walked this path. I was blessed with two incredible friends who were there through all of the losses, as well as a church choir who surrounded me with prayer. I was also blessed to find an online group of women who had losses around the same time I did. I am still friends with these women today and I have had the privilege of meeting a couple of them.

Remember, you are not alone.

Heather Hughes is a wife, mother of three and on staff at The Glade Church. She has been blogging for several years and has a book in progress. Heather's passion is to speak into the lives of women, assisting them to build authentic relationships with the Lord and those around them

 

I Am One In Four 

I Am One In Four (Part One)  - Guest Post by Heather Hughes

Statistics. There's nothing overly fun about being a statistic. With miscarriage and infertility, it's not really something you strive to be. It's not a club anyone wants to join. Yet, here I am. Too many other friends are members of this painful club as well. Every October I am open about the journey my husband and I walked to have our children. Too many times women are silenced and made to feel their losses weren't real or important. I am here to tell you that you are not alone. When you have a miscarriage, it is a loss. 

Growing up I always wanted to be a part of a large family. The older I got I prayed to have a girl, followed by two boys and then another girl. When my husband and I were first married we talked about having two or three children. I prayed for twins in order for us to have the larger family. He was aware of what I prayed. It took a long while to get pregnant. When I finally saw the first positive on a pregnancy test in Dec of 05, my joy was short lived. Within a week of finding out we were expecting; our precious child was gone. The next miscarriage came at the end of April of 06, just a week shy of Mother’s Day. It would take well over a year before I became pregnant again, only to lose baby three in August of 07. 

After three miscarriages and it taking so long to get pregnant in between, my OB decided to run an extensive blood panel in attempt to identify the issue. After the panel was run, I was sent to a specialist to review the results. My husband and I sat in a tiny little room as the specialist looked at us and told us I was a Type 1 carrier for 2 types of blood clotting disorders as well as a carrier of MTHFR. I could continue to get pregnant, but chances were, I would never carry a child to term. I remember standing in the stairwell of this building, overlooking downtown Nashville and sobbing. My husband had his arms around me, but nothing could bring peace to what appeared to be the death of a dream I had of being a mother. My dreams of pregnancy, cravings, picking out nursery furniture, baby clothes, hearing "mama" were gone. All I wanted was to be pregnant and my body wasn't doing what it was created to do. 

My husband had talked about adopting. I saw it as an option, but at the time my heart just wasn't there. In the spring of 08 he broached the subject with me again and I was open to at least talking about it. He was all in. In his mind, the Lord could and would grow our family how He saw fit. All the while my husband was praying the prayers of Sarah, Rachel and Elizabeth. He had the faith the Lord would bless us with a child. Honestly, I felt like the Lord was angry with me and I was being punished for something. My walk with the Lord had been rocky at best since the last miscarriage. My faith was almost none existent at this point. 

Then came the fall of 2008. There was another positive pregnancy test. I distinctly remember telling my husband "Give it a few days and it will all be over." 

My loving husband continued to pray. There were several trips to my OB. I was placed on a prenatal vitamin, progesterone, a high level of folic acid (something my body refused to produce or absorb) and a low dose of aspirin to reduce the chance of blood clots. We had multiple scares. I was placed on modified bed rest. I was only allowed to go to work because I was a school based therapist and I could sit most of the day. I had more ultrasounds than most women would have in 6 or 7 pregnancies. It took until December when we had the gender reveal ultrasound before I could get excited about being pregnant. 

When the tech told me, we were having a little girl, I cried tears of joy. I couldn't believe I was staring at MY baby on the screen. Her heartbeat was strong and one of the most beautiful sounds I think I had heard up to the moment in my life. When the tech left, my husband prayed over me and our precious little girl. Two days after Mother's Day of 2009 I held my beautiful, healthy, baby girl for the first time.

Visit the blog next week to hear more of Heather's Story!

A Painful Moment of Joy 

I’ve been blessed to work with students and the Lord, in his infinite wisdom has given me a mother's heart.  There are my college kids from the years I worked in higher education, who lovingly called me Momma, the kids from the youth group where I served as an adult leader who now have kids of their own. I’m so proud and honored to have played a part in their spiritual development. Watching them serve the Lord as adults has brought me tremendous joy. But recent events brought me to tears, made me a hormonal mess for the span of 48 hours. Why?  

I asked my husband if he was disappointed that we had no children after being married almost seven years, me pushing 46 and the doctors saying it's too late. They say my recent diagnosis of liver disease won't allow me to get pregnant nor carry a baby to term if I did. That beautiful man said no, of course he wasn't, that God would simply provide our family through adoption.   

Which was always part of our plan, but when I examined the truth of the matter later on I realized what I was really asking was, are you disappointed in me, did I fail you as a wife and as a woman?  Childless women in the Bible were often ridiculed and frowned upon. It often feels like a mark of shame, this badge of barrenness I bear.   

But that's when Jesus whispers to me to take heart, my husband loves me because I'm me, not because of what I give him. That somewhere there is a child praying for me as hard as I’m praying for them.  There was joy in understanding that. In tears, there was hope and there was joy. 

One of my kids had a beautiful baby recently and I thought, if these were really my children, I'd have over twenty grandchildren by now, twenty grandchildren, and here I am, arms empty, heart still breaking. But then I remember the ten years they cried out to the Lord for their child and how I loved them so much I couldn’t help but rejoice with them for this miracle! There was joy in that. 

Bianca, my Chihuahua, has traveled the road with me for thirteen years of fulltime ministry.  Right there giving comfort, nuzzling me with that heart shaped nose, hogging the bed and making her appearance between Jon and I at the most inopportune times. Now the vet thinks she has cancer, and we need to decide on surgery or letting her go.   

How do you cope when the one little creature who has been most like your child may be reaching the end of her days?  I grasped onto to the promise that God cares for man and animal alike, I rejoice that she is in no pain, still chewing bones, begging for treats and racing up and down hotel hallways. I trust that the Lord has this in control and how long she lives is decided by Him. So I spoil her, hold her close and spend more time playing fetch and less time chained to my desk... and there is tremendous joy in that. I believe, although I know some disagree, she will be there in heaven and I find explosive joy and great peace in that. 

Finally, I was in covenant with three women, all of us childless, all of us praying for years that God would open our womb and bless us with a baby to call our own.  All three have had baby boys, like Hannah prayed for Samuel or Sarah laughed for Isaac, or Elizabeth gave birth to John in her old age. All, except me. What do you do when you feel forgotten?  Like your prayers will never be answered and your life over the last eighteen months has been nothing but adversity?   

You rejoice that you still believe, you find strength in the truth that no matter how you feel, God has not forsaken you and you praise Him because somehow, in the midst of it all, you still love Him and want others to love and know Him as well.  You stand back in utter amazement, convinced Jesus Is Real, because you can still sing, and I find unshakable joy in that.  

My prayer is that whatever is breaking your heart today, that somehow, God shows you... the joy in the darkest places. 

Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night,  But a shout of joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30 Verse 4 and 5

 

This blog was first published in March of 2017 on the Devotional Diva website. We are sharing it again since October is Infertility Awareness Month.  At the time of this posting - October 2018 - Bianca the Chihuahua is cancer free and still begging treats.

Dr, Naima Johnston Bush would love to come and speak or sing for your upcoming event. Contact her here to inquire about bringing her ministry to your upcoming event: Book Naima