by Stephanie P. | Apr 21, 2020 | Devotional
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 ESV
At twenty-five years old, I had a stomach ulcer from the unbearable stress of my job.
I had found a laboratory who would hire an inexperienced college graduate with a B.S. in biology. The VA hospital needed a histology technician, and they would train me to do the job.
Histologists make slides from the tissue removed from the body during surgery, which pathologists review to make a diagnosis for the patient.
My lab consisted of my supervisor and one other histology lab tech—I was the youngest. Both women had been working in this lab for years. I came in excited to learn. But I didn’t realize that I would learn more than histology…
God was about to throw me into the middle of a spiritual battle.
My supervisor, a Jamaican woman fond of talking about curses and voodoo dolls, did not like me from day one. I believed her goal was to make my life and job miserable.
She began by criticizing my work clothes, the way I styled my hair, and wearing my contact lenses. She demanded I pulled back my hair and wear glasses. Good thing I wasn’t there to find a boyfriend… it would’ve never happened. Although she thought I flirted with all the doctors who came into our lab because I acknowledged their presence.
It got worse. She didn’t allow me to take some of my breaks and if she decided she wanted me back in the lab before lunch was over, she would stage a mysterious phone call from a family member, who hung up before I got to the phone…
My supervisor criticized my work in every way and at times compared it to that of a five-year-old. Equipment from my locker disappeared after she watched me stow it away for the night. She even called my house to see if I was sick after I had called off.
I cried to the Lord every single day. I was too demoralized by her to complain and fear and intimidation held me hostage.
Even though it seemed like discouragement and hopelessness were my constant companions, I sensed God’s presence. He met with me each morning as I worshipped and poured out my heart to Him; He filled my soul. I grew in faith and dependence on my Savior.
However, the more I matured in my faith, the worse the harassment got.
So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6 ESV
After a year, I interviewed for a job on another floor of the hospital. They offered me the position, but I knew the Lord did not want me to take that job. As I turned it down, God gave me immediate peace.
Once I had endured that job for two years, the head lab manager gave me a significant pay raise and promotion because of my degree and two years on the job. My supervisor, who had no control over this, was furious. She increased the attacks, wanting to prove I was undeserving of this promotion.
I begged God to let me leave; He did.
During those two years, the Lord surrounded me with praying friends and mentors who taught me how to pray against the spiritual darkness I faced. I had faith the Lord was with me.
After I quit, the Lord had an incredible job waiting for me in cancer research. They were looking for a histologist with two years of lab experience!
If I had taken my eyes off Jesus and surrendered to the hopelessness of my circumstances, I would have missed out on a job I loved.
No matter what situation you may find yourself in today, whether a bad relationship, a difficult job, or a health problem, don’t give up. Keep your eyes on Jesus and hold on to your faith.
He has you in the palm of His hand. He will never leave you or forsake you.
In what way is the Lord teaching you to trust Him?
by Stephanie P. | Feb 25, 2020 | Devotional
It was night, and I was in the middle of a forest when I saw him.
It was difficult to make out his features; I only saw darkness—evil. He had something in his arms. What was it? It was small but moving on its own. It was a baby! I knew it could not be his, and I feared he would harm it. As I walked closer to him, he ran.
I chased him for what seemed like hours in the humid night air. My heart pounded and my chest heaved, but I couldn’t stop until I had the baby. Not knowing what I would do once I caught up with him, I kept running. I prayed hard.
God needed to help me rescue the baby.
I don’t know why, but he stopped. Catching up to the man, I snatched the baby from him, although I can’t remember how. Then I just ran and ran with him on my heels. I ruined his plan, and he was angry. He chased me to exhaustion. Suddenly, I realized there was nowhere to go. I had come to a white fence too high to climb with the baby in my arms. With my back to the fence, I watched as the figure approach me—his arrogant eyes victorious. I didn’t know what to do.
As the evil one stood before me, trying to pluck the child out of my arms, I could only whisper the name of Jesus. I realized this man hated that Name. Although it was dark, I could see his body recoil. It made me brave. I shouted Jesus’ name with everything I had.
The Name terrified him and he ran as I pursued him, yelling Jesus’ name. I watched until he was out of sight.
Then I woke up.
The next day, I got up feeling nauseous. Since my husband and I were trying to get pregnant, and I worked in a hospital lab, my coworkers gave me a pregnancy test. It was positive.
Little did I know how difficult this pregnancy would be.
At eight weeks, I passed some blood. I panicked. I was sure I had miscarried. As the doctor did an ultrasound, he discovered I had twins and explained I passed nothing more than an isolated clot.
But it continued to go downhill from there. The morning sickness was terrible. I couldn’t eat anything but ice and lost weight for the first fourteen weeks of my pregnancy. The headaches and migraines were awful, too.
I passed out one afternoon at work while on my way to the bathroom. That freaked out my coworkers. The doctor told me later my babies had pressed against my abdominal aorta and temporarily cut off blood flow to my brain. It was the last time that happened.
At twenty-seven weeks, my water broke on my way to work. The shuttle driver, who picked me up at an offsite parking lot, drove me straight to the emergency room.
He was more of a mess than I was.
The doctors and nurses seemed amused by the shuttle driver’s reaction because I looked full term. Once I explained I was twenty-seven weeks with twins, they sobered.
Fear overwhelmed me. I called my husband to tell him the bad news: our babies were coming too soon. They transferred me to a different hospital which was better equipped to handle premature births.
As they prepped me for a caesarian section, the nurse informed me my babies would only be a pound and a half each and would stay in the hospital until their due date, which was thirteen weeks away. I prayed they would be bigger than the nurse claimed.
After their birth, Alexandria and Matthew were each a little over two pounds. A nurse told me I must have been farther along than I thought. But I knew better. Doctors and nurses rushed to hook them up to ventilators, IV lines, and heart and respiratory monitors.
One day, two weeks later, my daughter developed pneumonia in both bronchial tubes. The phone call from the hospital, informing us our baby was in critical condition, woke us at four a.m. We prayed the rest of the morning for her. When I got to the NICU later, she looked as if she were dying. Alexandria’s skin was gray from a lack of oxygen, and the doctor gave her a drug paralyzing her to prevent her from fighting the ventilator. God was faithful, though. He healed her tiny body and before long; she was as feisty as ever.
Another time, Matthew had stopped breathing after the doctor removed him from the ventilator. As I watched the nurse bagging him—forcing air into his lungs, his tiny lifeless body refused to respond. She called the nearby doctor for help. I stood, wanting to scream for someone to help my baby. Instead, I prayed—begging God to save Matthew.
Suddenly, it felt as though someone’s hands were on my shoulders and I felt peace I cannot describe. I heard the Lord’s assurance Matthew would go home with me as I sat back down in my chair. My babies came home after ten weeks at the hospital.
Matthew and Alexandria are now almost twenty-four years old. Although they had difficulties at times, they are healthy and happy college graduates.
The baby in my dream represented the babies I did not know I was pregnant with. At the time of my nightmare, we did not have a fence, nor was it in our plans to have one.
My husband had a six-foot white fence installed after I gave birth.
I realized after a year or two, it was this enclosure I had seen in my dream. The woods behind our property is where it had taken place.
The Lord gave me that vision to prepare me, not just for the battle my babies would go through to survive, but to show me He would be there as soon as I called His Name. He had already won the battle; all I needed was faith.
Matthew 21:22 ESV says, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith.”
by Stephanie P. | Jan 28, 2020 | Devotional, Uncategorized
I watched my dog, Agape transform into a predator.
From my front window, I could see a herd of twelve deer, all does, walking up my long driveway. We have a six-foot-high fence and gate surrounding our five acres of property.
Our German shepherd guarded it. She saw them and at once went into hunter mode. Agape crouched, never taking her eyes off the deer while inching her way toward the herd. As she tore into a full sprint, they saw her and ran.
First, she separated them into two groups. The first group jumped over or went through the vertical PVC splines of our fence forcing them to expand to the circumference of their bodies.
She stayed with the second group, chasing them to the back of our property.
I followed window to window trying to keep up.
My dog drove the next group into two, and then separated a doe and her yearling, from the others. At this point, I ran to my garage to watch this match unfold.
The mother doe, who Agape separated from the yearling, came out of nowhere nearly knocking me over as she ran past me back to the front yard. The yearling ran along the opposite side of the driveway with my shepherd on her heels… uh, hooves.
We have a fifteen-foot-wide rock-lined creek across our front yard.
As I watched the yearling run towards it, I could see my dog getting excited as she anticipated the kill; the deer had nowhere to go.
Then, it happened.
In one graceful leap, the doeling sailed over the fifteen-foot cavern, catching up with her mother on the other side. My breath caught; it was a beautiful site.
But my sweet, defeated dog stood there, dumbfounded, staring at the creek and the deer on the other side. I called her. She came with her head bowed as she lost the will to chase the pair any longer.
What I Learned from this
First, watching this 100-pound dog go after twelve 100-200 pound deer, I wondered how different the outcome may have been if those deer stopped acting as prey and realized they outnumbered and out-weighed my dog.
They could have turned the tables on her and left her running to her doghouse with her tail between her legs.
Satan is our predator.
When Satan’s prowling turns into an all-out sprint against us, we can stand against him as the body of Christ. There is no need to scatter in fear.
Our joint weight and power in the Holy Spirit defeats Satan as we pray for one another in the name of Jesus.
Has there ever been a time in which you tried to fight a battle alone?
Read Ephesians 6:18.
We are stronger together!
by Stephanie P. | May 28, 2019 | Uncategorized
How do you feed your soul?
I just returned from a Christian writers conference in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It was an exhausting, yet exhilarating five days. This conference was a time for making new friends and catching up with old ones.
But, it also fed me.
This conference fed me spiritually, and it fueled my creativity. It inspired and challenged my writing.
I also realized How. Much. I. Don’t. Know.
Last year at this conference, I met a family whom I now deeply appreciate. They are the Kauffmans. Rick, Beebe, and their daughter Katy have inspired many people besides me. They are the founders of Refresh, an online Bible study magazine, and Lighthouse Bible Studies.
Beebe and Katy taught me a lot about writing devotionals for Refresh. Since meeting them, they published two of my devotionals in Refresh and gave me the courage to write for CBN.com and the Charisma online magazine.
I recently contributed to their book Feed Your Soul with the Word of God.
This book is a feast of thirty short Bible studies written by twenty-six contributors; most of whom I know. You will love their stories and insights into Scripture.
Each short Bible study has a story, application, 4 to 5 questions, and a prayer. Easy peasy. You can get one in before work.
I have two short Bible studies in this book. The first one is How to Withstand the Predator and is about my dog and the deer she chased from my yard. Using this story and Scripture, I give you steps to withstand Satan’s schemes and understand Spiritual warfare.
My other short Bible study in this compilation is Psalm 18 — Retold. Psalm 18 is my favorite Psalm and I hope it will be yours after reading my version.
There are many other topics and scriptures used by great writers of this book to keep you engaged.
It is available on June 20th from Amazon.
You can get your copy early by commenting on this post and sharing it. I will choose one random person to win a copy of Feed Your Soul with the Word of God.
We want everyone to hear about this study, so sharing it will improve the chance of reaching more people with the Good News Bible study give us.
Remember, to win a copy, first comment on this blog, then share it with your friends and family.
Thank you! I will contact the winner to get your address.