by Stephanie P. | Mar 31, 2020 | Uncategorized
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 KJV.
I like the King James version of this verse because it uses the phrase “sound mind” instead of self-discipline or self-control. Fear tends to make us conjure up a lot of possible (usually frightening) outcomes as a response to something we can’t control.
I am not usually a fearful person, but this past week tested me.
My 23-year-old daughter started showing symptoms of the coronavirus last Tuesday—sore throat, headache, and fever. We hoped it was a normal virus or cold. But by Friday she had pressure in her chest and was weak and dizzy.
She could barely walk across the room without resting. She was nauseous if she thought about eating.
My momma heart hurt for her, and fear was crouching at the door of my emotions. I told the Lord I didn’t want to give in to the fear that was threatening to take over me. I told Him this many times. I kept praying for Alexandria.
If you’ve read many of my blogs, you know my twins were preemies—born at 27 weeks. They had their share of ventilators, pneumonia, and asthma. We worried that her lungs could be ripe for this virus.
Let me just say here she was never officially tested or diagnosed. We were told to stay away from hospitals and doctors’ offices unless you were having trouble breathing. She wasn’t. So we stayed away.
We have a holistic approach to health care. So, we had her on liquid silver and zinc, and vitamins A, B, C, and D. I felt like a pill pusher…
On Friday morning, my husband and I anointed her and prayed for healing. During prayer, the Lord gave me a picture of Alexandria as an infant in the NICU isolate. I remembered this day.
We received a call at 4:30 in the morning telling us our baby girl was in critical condition. She had pneumonia in both bronchial tubes within her chest. She was no longer breathing on her own.
When I got to the NICU, I saw my very sick baby girl. She was gray and still. The doctor gave her a drug to paralyze her so she would not fight the ventilator. We prayed for her and asked everyone we knew to pray for healing.
So, I as saw this picture in my mind, I felt as though the Lord reminded me He healed her then and He could heal her now.
Peace ran through my body, just as it had twenty-three years ago.
Monday morning Alexandria got up, feeling herself again. The fever was gone, the headache, aches and pains disappeared. She wanted to eat.
I am thankful for all the people who were praying for our daughter.
But, mostly, I am thankful for my Heavenly Father who knew her plight and never left her or our family.
My family is in quarantine for at least another week or two. The rest of us have no symptoms and I am praying it stays that way.
But my house seems small with five adults here ALL. DAY. LONG! Let me tell you.
I am thankful for friends who have dropped off groceries and hair color, too :).
Stay healthy and don’t give in to fear. It has no place in your home or life. Give it to Jesus and let Him send it to go back to the place it came from.
We have much to be thankful for. We have homes, food, and people who love and care about us.
What are you most thankful for during this time?
by Stephanie P. | Mar 24, 2020 | Uncategorized
With the current state of our world, many are thinking this is the beginning of the end. While Scripture tells in Matthew 4:8, “All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.” What does that really mean?
Unfortunately, this world is not getting better. People are inherently selfish and evil without God. The Bible tells us this.
I saw a video with Chinese nurses, doctors, patients, and dead in Chinese hospitals. (I am not sure when these videos were filmed, it may have been at the height of the epidemic). It was heartbreaking!
It’s so easy for us to see China as the enemy, or a place filled with godless, evil people. But, these are people under extreme stress, crying, wailing, and begging for help. Nurses watching people die before their eyes, while working 15-18 hours or more everyday–overwhelmed.
These people are tired and hopeless. They need our prayers and they need a Savior.
The truth is there is a growing, thriving, underground church in China. When people are denied human rights for their emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being, hopelessness escalates. But, when they search for hope they will find Jesus. And they are!
How long will it take for our country to become this hopeless? We are already on our way. But, are we so bad that we are searching for Jesus? Are we willing to surrender our will, pride, materialism, and desires to be wholehearted, all-in, followers of Jesus, yet? What will it take?
How bad does it have to become?
Persecution grew the early church. Laziness and apathy stunt its growth.
Would we be willing to go against our government and meet in underground churches in the cover of night for hours, feeding on the Word of God and mouthing songs of praise? No, we don’t have to live this way, thank God!
But can you imagine your neighbors, or you or your family doing this?
The United States is becoming more and more godless. Some churches forego teaching holiness for a feel-good, do-as-you-please-God-will-still-love-you gospel.
God is Holy. He tells us to be holy as He is holy.
God is also LOVE. He is the very embodiment of love. He calls us to Himself. The Father disciplines us in this lifetime, so He does not have to punish us in the next.
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:26-28
We need not be hopeless! Neither do we need to let fear overcome us. The almighty, all-powerful Creator loves us.
God can right all wrongs with a thought or eradicate a pandemic with a word.
So, why doesn’t He?
Did God create this virus? I don’t believe so. But whether man created it or it was the result of eating animals we were never meant to eat, we have free will.
God will not take our free will away even if we use it to kill ourselves and those around us.
The Father uses all things to bring glory to Himself and for our good. If God cannot use it for good, then He will not allow it to happen.
This is not the end of the world.
Could this virus be a wake-up call? Can it change the way we have been living? I hope so.
I believe God will and is using this virus to open people’s eyes and hearts.
We have a non-fragile God who can help us in our time of need.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
This is God’s promise.
We love to quote these promises. But there is more to these verses….
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you…” Jeremiah 29:12-14
This is our part…
I’ve studied Revelation. It’s gonna get much worse than this.
Birth pains tell us something is getting ready to happen–new life is on its way. This present time may or may not be birth pains. Only God knows.
That is not meant to cause fear, but to encourage us to live a life for Jesus. He is on the winning side. We need to take that seriously.
There will be New Life–God has promised that for all who love and follow Him.
There is Hope.
His name is Jesus.
by Stephanie P. | Mar 17, 2020 | Devotional
Have you ever been in a difficult or dark time when you felt all alone?
Did it feel as though everyone you knew had forsaken you? Maybe it was a crisis in your family or marriage and your friends didn’t know how to handle it. A difference of beliefs or conviction can drive a wedge between people and leave us feeling heartbroken and isolated.
Jesus experienced dark days near the end of his life. The men he had spent three years of his life with abandoned him when trouble arrived.
Heavily armed guards sent by the chief priest and scribes arrested Jesus after He prayed all night preparing for the upcoming universal battle between life and death. His disciples saw Him walk on water, feed thousands of men, women, and children, heal the sick and give sight to the blind; they even saw Him raise the dead. Yet, they deserted Him.
Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’” Mark 14:27 (ESV).
Years ago, my husband and I shared a friendship with four other couples. We attended the same church, dined at each other’s home, shared life, worshipped and studied God’s Word together. I loved these people as though they were my flesh and blood.
I was preparing to teach a Revelation study I had written for our class. One day during prayer, the Lord warned my husband the Bible study would come under attack.
We prayed and asked our friends to pray for the study and us as well. Halfway into the study, a division within our ensemble of friends developed. The split was not because of the Bible study but resulted from one couple walking away from their faith and God. No one knew what to do, so they ignored it. As a result, it divided us.
Because I wanted to fix it, I reached out to my pastor for advice—my friends viewed that as disloyalty. I was a snitch.
Those once close friends now treated my husband and me as if we no longer existed. It was horrible. Not only had a great friend walked away from the church and God, but our other brothers and sisters ostracized us for seeking help outside our group.
I was miserable while I continued teaching my study without them. My family sat alone during Sunday services while the remaining three couples of our once tight-knit group filled a separate row.
God did not leave me; He moved in closer.
I experienced a more intimate relationship with Him than I had never known. God healed my hurt and my wounds as I forgave those friends. We no longer see each other, but I hold nothing against them and have told them as much.
Jesus forgave His disciples, too. He restored them and used them mightily in the days that followed. He never left them nor forsook them.
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14 (ESV)
Will you forgive those who have left or betrayed you? It doesn’t matter whether they are sorry or have asked you for forgiveness.
God knows your pain and can heal it.
He will free you, if you ask; I promise.
Jesus came to mend the brokenhearted.
[Jesus] heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 (ESV)
by Stephanie P. | Mar 10, 2020 | Uncategorized
If you have read many of my blog posts, you may already know my husband and I have three children, two being twins. Two weeks ago I wrote on a dream involving the pregnancy of my twins before I knew I was pregnant. You can read that here.
By the time my twins were a year old, I found out I was pregnant again (can you say surprised!). Because of the problems I had with the twins, I spent most of the first trimester in fear of losing this baby.
One day around week ten or eleven, I felt the calming voice of the Holy Spirit say, “You will not lose your baby and it will be a boy.”
Surprised, I was like, “I won’t lose him? And he’s a boy?” Nothing like having the God of the Universe speak the fear right out of you. Fear had no place in me now… I thought.
Later the doctor confirmed he was a boy. But it wasn’t long before fear crept back into my mind.
Another day, the Lord dropped a question into my mind: “Will you still love this baby if he is not perfect?
After catching my breath, I thought, Yes. I will still want and love this baby even if he has a birth defect, illness, or genetic issue. The Lord was preparing me for something, what, I didn’tt know. But, I had peace.
I told my husband. We waited and prayed for this little boy, yet to be born.
Michael was born early at six pounds. He was completely healthy. Mike and I thanked the Lord for him.
About the time Michael was four months old, my twins were twenty months. Their development was behind because of their prematurity, and Alexandria had just started walking.
It scared Matthew to try the slightest step and he didn’t crawl well either. We noticed he moved his little legs awkwardly as he tried to take a few steps with our help.
We made an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon soon after.
Mike and I thought he may need surgery on his hips since he wasn’t walking. But we were not at all prepared for what the doctor told us. Matthew had Cerebral Palsy (CP). Now, this is not at all a death sentence, but we never suspected our little boy would have long term problems.
Cerebral palsy results from damage to part of the brain controlling muscle tone. Matthew’s legs and other muscles were stiff (from the nerves over firing) making his muscles stay in a state of contraction. We noticed Matthew didn’t smile as quickly as Alexandria did, or roll over, or scoot on the floor. He was behind her in every way.
Matthew would not get worse but could get better with therapy.
By his second birthday we began physical and occupational therapy. Matthew got some braces for his legs and a cool little walker. He got good with the walker, too. Children use a walker differently than you see older adults use them. His went around his back and was open in front of him.
He would take off down a slight decline and raise his feet off the ground like he was on a ride.
Matthew had to have some painful surgeries, too. He had surgeries which stretched his muscles to lengthen them. See, his bones grew long, like they were supposed to, but his muscles remained contracted. That surgery took place when he was four. It was hard to see him in such pain.
It was hard to see kids ignore him, when he couldn’t keep up. Sometimes walking past families in McDonald’s, I’d hear children asking their parents, “What’s wrong with that boy”, as they pointed to Matthew. I’d see the mother mouth, “I’m sorry” when she knew I overheard. It didn’t bother me. Children are children, mine did the same thing.
It’s important to teach our children about things like these. For children to ask questions about what they don’t understand, is normal.
Although, Matthew’s twin, Alexandria became very sensitive to children with any kind of special need. She sought to become friends with the rejected and different kids in school. As a college student coming home from a trip to communist country, she was heart-broken how the government treated their deformed, and special needs children and adults. She couldn’t imagine Matthew treated that way.
From the difficult beginnings of his life Matthew always had good self-esteem. We never held him back from trying something. I remember as a toddler, he wanted to get on a small rocking horse which sat on the floor. He would try again and again to pull his little leg over the “saddle” of the horse… until one day he got it. He sat on that horse so proud and rocked it!
That’s how our son is.
Matthew is twenty-four years old and he is very high functioning. He has been to Israel three times, graduated from college with a degree in International Relations, he speaks Arabic, and works as a financial analyst.
Nothing has held him back.
My husband had a hard time with Matthew’s diagnosis as first. He prayed and prayed the Lord would supernaturally heal him. Mike took him to a local faith-healer when Matthew was just four. I stayed home. Not that I didn’t want Matthew healed, it was just that the Lord had been so faithful to him!
My Father’s hand was on this little boy!
Our pastor asked us once if we would want Matthew healed if it meant Matthew might change from the compassionate, tender-hearted, God-loving boy he was. We both answered NO. We loved the little boy God had made him, disabilities and all.
God has a plan and purpose for every man, woman, and child born on this planet. Every child has value and is loved by the Father.
For You formed my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and I know this very well. Psalm 139:13-14.
by Stephanie P. | Mar 3, 2020 | Devotional, Uncategorized
A knock on his door woke him.
As he got up to answer it, he realized how late it was. “Who could be here at midnight?” he thought. As he opened the door, there stood a friend who had traveled a long way and was both tired and hungry. Realizing he had nothing in his house to feed his friend, he hurried to his neighbor.
As he pounded on their door, the man shouted he had company who just arrived, and he had nothing to feed him. The neighbor called out, “Leave me alone, I’m in bed!” The man who had company did not give up. He continued to shout his need until his neighbor gave him what he wanted.
Before Jesus taught this parable in Luke 11:5-8, he taught the Lord’s Prayer. With that prayer, He showed us the way to pray. However, the parable explains how we are to pray. It’s not just the words we use, but the persistence we show.
In Luke 11:8 (ESV), Jesus said about the neighbor who didn’t want to get out of bed, “I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence (or persistence) he will rise and give him whatever he needs.” What does this mean? The neighbor didn’t get up because his friend asked him for food; he got up because he knew his neighbor was not going away until he got what he needed.
The Hebrew equivalent of the word impudence is chutzpah and it means brazen tenacity. We can better understand this if we know the meaning of these two words, too. The word brazen means to be bold and without shame and tenacity means to have determination. 
Is this how you pray? I honestly can’t say it describes all my prayers. In some rabbinical (Jewish) literature, they describe Moses’ intercession for the children of Israel as if he took hold of God’s garment and pleaded with Him to pardon them.  This is chutzpah. This is what Jesus taught.
In Luke 8:43-48, Scripture tells us about a woman who knew Jesus could heal her of a bleeding disorder if she could only touch His garment. There was a great crowd around Jesus; people were pressing up against Him making it almost impossible to get close.
Yet, her brazen tenacity didn’t let a crowd stop her from getting to the feet of Jesus. When she touched his garment, Jesus knew power had gone from of Him. After the woman came to Him and told Him why she touched Him, Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
The blind beggar in Luke 18:35-43 didn’t stop yelling for Jesus to have mercy on him even though people told him to be quiet. When Jesus asked him what he wanted, he replied, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” Jesus said, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” The beggar had brazen tenacity. He would not be silent, so Jesus stopped to talk to him.
Like them, our brazen tenacity evidences our faith. There are stories throughout the Gospels about people who did not take “no” for an answer by pushing past boundaries to get to Jesus. These were only a few stories in which Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you.”
What about the times our faith and tenacity don’t get our prayer answered in the way we hope? We all know someone who didn’t get healed or lost a child or spouse from a terrible disease. Or maybe it’s you whose prayer has not been answered. Does Jesus love us less? Did He not hear our cries in the dark or at the altar? We don’t always know why we get a “no” or “wait” from our Lord.
In her book, To Live is Christ, Beth Moore explained that in the Bible Jesus healed for two reasons. One was to prove His authenticity. He was and is the Son of God. The second reason He healed was when natural methods were not possible. 
The healing or the suffering? God knows which one it is. He doesn’t want us to suffer, but if our suffering takes us deeper into our relationship with Him, then it’s worth it. He knows our ultimate healing is in Heaven. But that does not mean we pray with any less brazen tenacity. Like the man who needed food from his neighbor, keep pounding on Heaven’s door.
Is there anything you have not asked the Lord because you thought it wasn’t worthy or because you felt embarrassed by it? In the verses which follow the parable in Luke 11:9 (ESV), Jesus said,
“Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.”
Jesus doesn’t want us to stop asking, seeking or knocking. Approach His throne boldly knowing He hears you and He loves you. Never give up. Pray boldly with shameless determination.
 Google.com, https://www.google.com/search?q=brazen+definition&rlz=1C1CAFA_enUS630US711&oq=brazen&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l5.4848j1j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
 Google.com, https://www.google.com/search?q=brazen+definition&rlz=1C1CAFA_enUS630US711&oq=brazen&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l5.4848j1j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#dobs=tenacity
 Young, Brad H., The Parables, Jewish Tradition and Christian Interpretation, Baker Academic 1998, pg. 63
 Moore, Beth, To Live is Christ, B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, TN, 2001. Pg. 77.