by Stephanie P. | Jan 23, 2020 | Uncategorized
Two years ago yesterday, we lost our sweet dog, Olivia. It was a very warm winter day. She went out onto our pond (that was frozen the day before) and fell in. We were at a funeral for a family member and no one was there to rescue her.
I was heartbroken and inconsolable.
I didn’t understand why God had let our sweet dog die this way with no one to help her.
As I reflect on that day, God was there with us. He did not let my children be the ones who found her. It was my husband. A friend was there to help him pull her from the pond.
A friend was there for me as I wept uncontrollably over the phone.
As I questioned God, He gave me this verse-
What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. Matt. 10:29 NLT
If a single sparrow can’t fall to the ground without Him knowing, Olivia did not die without His knowledge either.
God understood my pain and was with me through it. He never left me.
When it was hard to pray–and it was–He was there praying for me. The Holy Spirit was interceding for me, too.
Adonai (God’s name meaning my Lord) promises:
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Ps. 34:18.
Death is normal. Death is a part of life, whether or not we like it.
One day death will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14). No more death, only eternal life.
Until then, parents will mourn over the loss of their child or unborn baby; people will mourn over the loss of parents, friends, and siblings to terrible diseases and accidents. Friends will lose friends.
It was not part of God’s original plan. It came as a result of sin and the fall.
Jesus knows loss, pain, and grief. He experienced everything we do so He would understand exactly how we feel and how to comfort us. (Hebrews 4:14-16.)
My son had a dream one night after Olivia died. In his dream every animal we have loved and lost came up from a hole in the ground. Each was perfect and alive. Each one remembered us. He shed tears thinking we would see Olivia and our other beloved pets again.
But, we have this hope: we can see those we have lost–every child, mother, father, sibling, and friend–in Heaven. All we need is to put our faith and trust in the One who died and rose again to give us eternal life–Jesus the Messiah.
I pray you know Jesus as your Savior and Lord!
If this spoke to you or feel someone can relate to my story, please share it.
by Stephanie P. | Feb 1, 2018 | Devotional
Identity. What does it mean?
We all have one. We’ve all heard of identity theft, right?
Wikipedia says, “It means to assume another person’s private identifying information…to commit fraud or other crimes.” It also says, “The person whose identity has been assumed may suffer adverse consequences…”
But, what is our identity? Who seeks to steal it?
Some may have their identity in their ethnicity, like being Greek, Italian, or an American. Others in their vocations: I’m a doctor, a teacher, or a mom. You may call yourself a Baptist, Pentecostal, Nazarene, or Charismatic and honestly believe that defines who you are.
Maybe your identity is found in being a Republican, Democrat, Conservative or Liberal.
Our pastor has been doing a series on Sexuality and Gender. Many people find their identity in being Gay, Lesbian or a Transgender, among others. Their identity is wrapped up in their sexuality. A young girl I know recently told me about a friend of hers. She is struggling with gender fluidity. According to Gender.wikia.com, this is a gender identity which refers to a gender which varies over time. They may identify as male, female, or neutral on any given day.
Maybe your identity is called Rejected, Abandoned, Angry, or Fear.
Let’s face it, all of us have had or are having an identity crisis of some sort. If you’ve been through Middle school, you probably struggled with your identity in one way or another. It is normal (For a time) to not know who we are or what our purpose is on this Earth.
However, when we come to believe in Yeshua, we are given the most significant identity ever. We become the child of God. That means we are important, we are loved beyond belief, and we matter! Our life has always been important to the Creator even before we knew Him.
In the book of Hebrews, Yeshua is called our Great High Priest because He is a mediator between God and us. He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses because He walked in our shoes and was tempted in every way we are. He became like us to identify with us.
Yeshua gave up His identity so that we can have our identity in Him. In 1 Peter 2:9, Peter calls us a royal priesthood. Why? Because it is our calling to be like Yeshua.
In his book, Cup of Salvation, Rabbi Pesach Wolicki writes about Psalm 114:2: ‘”When God told the people of Israel that they will be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation He was telling them as follows: ‘You have a job to do. You will be the priests of the world. Your mission is to draw everyone on the earth closer to me. In order to continue to carry out that mission, you will need to be holy – to have a distinct and different identity from the rest of the world.'” (bold highlight is mine).
Our identity is NOT of the world. It is of God. We are set apart…that is what it means to be holy. Satan does not want us to have a heavenly identity, but a worldly one. He wants carbon-copies. He wants to steal your God-given individualism and uniqueness.
John 10:10 (ESV) “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Satan is our identity thief. Remember the definition at the top of this page from Wikipedia? “The person whose identity has been assumed may suffer adverse consequences…”
That is precisely what happens when we let Satan steal or destroy our identity. We suffer! Satan wants to deceive us into thinking that we have no other identity except what we believe about ourselves, which is always changing with our circumstances. This is fluidity.
If a season of our life is fruitful, then we think well of ourselves, but when that changes in some way, our feelings about ourselves change too.
We are so much more than our sexuality. We are much more than the rejection we’ve experienced. We are more than a Baptist or Pentecostal. We are more than what we do for a living.
Satan wants us to believe the worst possible thoughts about ourselves.
However, we can not depend on how we feel. Our feelings lie to us. There is only one truth, that is found in Yeshua and in His Word.
Yeshua is truth. He will tell you the truth about yourself without condemnation. He corrects us in love. He wants to give you identity and purpose. He is our base-line. He is the beginning of our true identity. Our circumstances, whether we fail, succeed, lose, or win, whether we are rich, poor, happy, sad, sick, or healthy, do not change who we are in Yeshua.
You are forever His child. He will forever love you. Come to Him with the struggles of your life. He already knows them and is waiting to help you.
Yeshua came to give us identity and life.
by Stephanie P. | Dec 5, 2017 | Devotional
This year my fraternal twins turned 21 years old. This was quite an accomplishment!
Twenty-one years ago, my mother-in-law was having knee surgery. It was a Tuesday. Our family, my husband, Mike, father-in-law, Ted, my sister-in-law and her husband, my brother-in-law, and his wife were all there to be with her. After her surgery, we went to lunch. No, it wasn’t in the hospital cafeteria, it was over 5 blocks away, and we walked there and back. I was 27 weeks pregnant (but looked full-term) and was supposed to start bed-rest that weekend. It was a rough walk to get lunch!
The next morning, I woke up to pain down my legs and thighs. I thought the walking had been too much and I was feeling sore. However, by the time I got to work, my water broke, and I was taken to the hospital about 45 minutes away. I was so naive I didn’t know to be scared.
I was assured by the nurses and doctors that they would stop the labor, but I would have to stay in the hospital until the babies were 34 weeks old to be safe. Didn’t happen. One of my babies had decided he was coming into this world regardless of what anyone else thought.
At 3:00 that afternoon, my twins, Matthew and Alexandria, were born weighing a little over 2 pounds and 14 inches long.
They were taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where they were hooked up to respirators, pulse-oxygen machines, and heart monitors. They had more needles and lines going through their little arms, feet, and umbilical cords than I could have ever imagined possible. A mask was placed over their eyes to protect them from the lights. Their skin was translucent, making it possible to see and feel bones and blood vessels. They were literally skin and bones. Muscle had not fully formed, and there were no rolls of baby fat on their tummies or thighs.
I could only sit there talking to and praying for them because their little bodies were sensitive to touch. I was told they would be in the NICU until their due date. That was 13 more weeks! My heart was breaking into so many pieces….I already loved them so much!
For the first few weeks, they had bad days and worst days. Alexandria’s lungs were weak and would collapse almost daily. Both developed staph infections and needed blood transfusions every other day among other things. I hated leaving every day.
I prayed and prayed that God would keep watch over them and that His angels would surround them and protect them while I was gone.
On one tough day, Matthew’s pulse and oxygen rates kept dropping into unsafe territory. At one point the nurse started bagging him because he was not responding to anything else she tried.
As I paced, my mind yelled at the doctor to do something!
I started praying for God to intervene so this baby of mine would live.
Suddenly, it was as though a gentle weight on my shoulders was guiding me to my chair. I heard a voice in my heart that said, “Matthew will go home with you.”
That was all I needed to hear. Matthew would go home with me! My son was going to be alright. I was able to settle down and let God do His thing. Matthew’s numbers began returning to normal, and his skin turned pink again.
Alexandria had the worst time. She developed pneumonia in both bronchial tubes going into her lungs. She was unable to breathe on her own. The staff had to give her various drugs to paralyze her body so she would not fight the ventilator. Her skin turned gray from a combination of pain meds and the air forced into her lungs by a machine. All I could do was rub her head.
But she was a fighter!
Before she was 24 hours old, she had pulled the intubation tube out of her throat. The nurses would have to replace it 3 more times before she left that hospital.
After 10 weeks in the NICU, my babies came home. It wasn’t all that easy. They came home on heart monitors, and Alexandria still needed oxygen. But they were alive, and they were home!
God took care of my babies. He was faithful, and He had mercy on us.
He taught me that He loved these two babies more than I did. They were and are His. I am their caretaker, but He is their Creator and Father.
My husband and I surrendered all our rights to these two babies and gave them over to their Maker.
He gave them back to us. We have been loving and parenting them to the best of our ability for 21 years. We have made mistakes, but we have never forgotten who loved these two children first!