Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
This week Facebook has been flooded with controversy; from a certain CEO to Angelina Jolie. Why are we so caught up in this? All of this nonsense.
I won’t even name the CEO or his company. I refuse to give his comments or his sexually immoral advertisements and marketing system any more publicity. His comments were not nice but were they really all that surprising? I don’t shop there because I’m a fat girl. When I was thin I didn’t cross the threshold of that store. I don’t agree with the moral compass of this company and that’s enough to keep me out of the store.
The best thing we can do is to stop talking about him or his company. Stop handing over the mass media and the internet to this man. Don’t allow your children to shop there or wear his clothes. When their commercials come on the television, if you don’t already do this, change the channel or turn it off. Stop it!
Pray for his heart to be changed. That he would see how the sexual exploitation of young people to garner sales, is wrong. That is our very best defense.
Please reconsider sharing the video that is going around of the young man passing out the brand’s clothing to the homeless. Exploiting the homeless to make a point is wrong.
Can I ask why we are so concerned with Angelina’s breasts? Seriously. They belong to her body. She had an 87% chance of breast cancer. If my own risk were this high, I would probably do the same and it’s really no one’s business. I doubt very much that she went into it without a lot of thought and consideration. She has six children to consider. And again, it’s absolutely none of our business! Stop it!
Let’s rise above the nonsense and stop giving attention to those who don’t deserve it or need it. Stop stirring the pot.
What are your thoughts on the past week’s controversies? Does it roll off your shoulders? Or does it incense you? Share in the comments below.
Thoughts and convictions have pinged around my mind since our return from Haiti and back to regular US life. How can I continue to live like this, with stuff, so much stuff while others suffer in the world? Is that what Jesus wants from me? If not, what does He want?
The stuff. It distracts. Keeps us from focusing on Jesus. Keeps us from relying on Him for our every need. We’ve got manna stored up in every cupboard, the fridge, and our closets. While it may not be rotting from the outside, it is rotting us from the inside out.
The desire for more fuels our actions and motives. More money, more food, more pretty clothes, more furniture, new cars, and yes, more ministries.
What would happen if we stopped the more? Stopped the excess? If we changed our focus from things and turned our heads toward Christ and said, “Lord, I trust you to provide what I need.”
It can be done. It’s being done in other countries, in other cultures. Where they don’t have a refrigerator or an oven or lights because they don’t have power. The only clothes they own are those on their backs, and yet, they are clothed. Sneakers that are the wrong size cover the feet and provide protection just the same by smashing down the back of the shoe and shoving a foot in.
The more we purchase, the more we desire. When our hearts are longing for more things to fill our homes, our closets, our cupboards, the less we are focusing on Christ.
It is one of satan’s favorite tools in the USA.
We have the power to fight back. To say, “no more!” To reduce. Refocus. And give.
Do we really need 24 towels in the cupboards? Or 52 outfits in the closets? Are 13 pairs of shoes necessary? Or how about 15 cans of tomato soup stocked in the pantry?
The simple answer is, no.
No, we don’t need to have all of those things. We don’t.
Because when we decide that we really only need 3 pairs of shoes, we stop looking for another pair of shoes. If we have all we need for the week in the cupboards to provide our family’s meals, we stop looking to purchase additional food items, on sale or not.
When we have enough stuff, we stop looking for more stuff. We refocus our attention and desires on the One who will provide everything we need and sometimes, even the little extras as a blessing.
“For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’ Deuteronomy 15:11
How do you plan to refocus your wants and desires? Do you find the need and want for things to be a distraction in your life? How much is too much? Does God want us to have more in our homes than we need? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Click the image to help this small orphanage as they fulfill God’s command to love the orphans.
The day we left Oregon my sweet friend and neighbor drove us to the airport. As we stood in our home church waiting to load up, she unclasped the necklace around her neck and placed it around mine.
“I know you have a heart for women’s ministry and I wanted you to have something you could give to a woman you connect with on your trip.” I wrapped my hand around the heart with a cross through it.
I wondered if I’d be able to give it to anyone. We’d been told that we were not allowed to give anything to anyone. It can incite riots and it leaves the natives with expectations of gifts from other missions teams.
All week I prayed God would provide the right woman to receive this precious gift. I might have to leave it with our hostess. Surely as a missionary on the field, she would know who to give it to.
And then the c-sections happened. Two women who would each be touched by the gesture. I knew who God wanted me to bless.
The day after the births, we headed back to the hospital to see the twins and get some pictures of them. I posed the question to our nurse friend as we walked.
“Is it possible to meet with the mom who lost her baby yesterday and pray with her?”
“Yes, actually I spoke with her earlier today and she would really like that.”
“I was given this necklace,” I opened my palm to reveal the silver necklace. “Would it be appropriate to give this to her?”
“Absolutely. Just do it discreetly because if anyone else sees you give her something, they will want something too.”
“Okay.” I wiped my sweaty palms across my skirt. Nervousness tip-toed across my stomach. What do I say to a woman who just lost her baby? Would this necklace be a hard reminder of all she lost each time she looked at it? Deep down, I knew who the necklace belonged with. I prayed it was a reminder that someone thought of her, prayed for her, and above all, God loved her.
We visited with the mother of the twins. We prayed over her and her family. She lay on her side, fetal position, tears trickled down her soft cheeks. She gave us permission to hold her new babies. God bless this mama of 11.
Heading down the hall to the next mama I took deep breaths to stay calm. Please Lord, don’t let me burst into tears and make things worse for her in her grief. We rounded a corner and arrived at her bed. This precious woman lay on her side, grief and pain etched across her face.
I took her hand in both of mine, rubbing her smooth skin. Tears trickled down her cheeks. Two mamas hearts connected in that one touch. I prayed over her as our nurse translated. When I finished, I placed the necklace in the palm of her hand and closed her lovely fingers around it. I squeezed her hand, rubbed her arm, and told her she was beautiful in Creole. Oh Lord, please be with her as she moves through the grief of losing her second child.
Heading down the hall toward the babies I wiped my eyes and nose with my handkerchief. Now wasn’t the time to fall apart. More grieving for the mama was sure to come but it would have to wait.
The nurse’s station is where they keep newborns that need extra care. Today, there were now two sets of twins tucked into their clear plastic bassinets. There is no neonatal unit. The only extra care offered to preemies and small newborns are oxygen and a feeding tube.
The twins we witnessed being born
We held the babies and took our pictures. Before we left, we were waved over by the young mother of the other set of twins. She asked us to hold her babies and take photos.
Her twins were born at 7 months. They were now 4 weeks old and doing really well. Amazing that without all of the NICU bells and whistles, these little babies were thriving.
Here is this new mom. She’s 23 years old and has been sleeping in the hospital for a month, caring for her little ones. In this hospital they only provide medical care. Family is responsible for bringing meals and doing the laundry for the patient.
Sorry the photo is blurry. If you look at the little one in my hands, you can see she fits in both of my hands. The legs of her pajamas that are hanging down are empty. Her clothes are too big.
What a precious gift she gave us. Those babies will forever be in my prayers because I truly believe we remember and love those whom we touch with our hands and hearts. This mama and her little ones will be prayed over, in another country, by a woman she doesn’t know.
As you mull over the stories I’ve shared the last three days, I hope you too will put all three of these mothers and their children on your prayer list. I left my heart in Haiti and I can’t wait to return. While I can’t be there physically, I can pray. God is there.
I know you have questions. Ask them in the comments. I’d love to hear them and answer the best I can. Why do we go on short term missions? Does it really make a difference? Feel free to ask, I only request that you are respectful.
Did you miss Part One and Two of this story? Go back and read them! You don’t want to miss them.
Our youth pastor poked his head in the door. “Hey, the nurse just called. There’s another c-section starting now.” He took a deep breath. “This is the one you should have been at. The mom is two weeks overdue and the baby is fine.”
He had our full attention.
“If you want to attend this one, we have to move now.”
The girls and I hopped off our beds, slipped our shoes on, and headed back to the hospital. We hurried across the missionary compound, shoes slapping in the dirt. I prayed silently that this birth story turned out different.
“I wasn’t going to give you the option to attend this one.”
“Oh,” I said. “What made you change your mind?”
“God,” he sighed. “I paced outside your door for several minutes before deciding to tell you. I hope no one is going because of peer pressure.”
“No, I don’t think they are. After the conversation we just had, the girls don’t regret going to the first one.”
We rushed through the hospital corridors and back into the green hallway to the operating room. Blue caps and masks passed between us, covering nervous smiles as we were ushered back into surgery. Deep breaths and lots of silent prayers.
Single file we shuffled against the wall in front of a new mama who sat naked, hunched over, waiting for her spinal tap. Eyes the color of dark chocolate and full of fear stared back at me. The temptation to look away was strong, instead I tried to smile and encourage from under my mask. Could she read the anxiety in my eyes? I hoped not.
They began the spinal tap. The mama moved on the operating table. The nurse in front of her grabbed her face and began yelling, while another nurse screamed from behind her. The mama began to cry. Oh please don’t cry because I will cry too, I thought. Already emotional, it wouldn’t take much to get my water works going.
“Don’t be upset. That’s just how they talk to each other here.” Our nurse friend explained. “They are not as nice as we are but she’s okay. She’s just scared.”
Once they finished administering the spinal, they had mama lay back on the bed. Her belly much larger than the mama in the last c-section. That’s a good sign. I breathed a little sigh of relief.
The surgeon pointed to the dad from our mission team, who had attended the last surgery with us, and waved him over.
“Me?” the dad asked and pointed at himself with disbelief. The surgeon nodded and waved a frantic hand at him, beckoning the dad to come to him. Dad did as instructed and headed toward the surgeon and operating table. A male nurse took a few steps forward but the surgeon shooed him away. He pointed again at our dad and motioned him forward.
“Just don’t touch any of us.” The nurse said.
The surgeon pointed at the surgical light and motioned for Dad to adjust it.
“He wants you to adjust the light shining on her belly.”
Dad moved the light shining on her stomach but it swung back to the original position when he let go. He tried again with the same results.
“It’s not tight enough to stay.”
Our nurse friend translated in Creole. The surgeon nodded and motioned Dad back to the wall.
Surgery began, just as it had the hour before. This time the surgery took longer. Mama had very little if any fat to get through. The stomach muscles on this mama were fierce and strong. Finally, the uterus came into view. One final cut and clear amniotic fluid spurted out. We waited, anxiety filled the room. Please Lord, let this little one be okay.
The surgeon pulled a baby out. It was the same size as the little baby from the other c-section. Small for such a large, full term belly. Anxiety gripped my chest. I held my breath. Please breathe, please breathe. And then it happened. A small little whimper!
The nurse grabbed the little man and hurried him over to the little table by the door. The same little table, that an hour before held the lost little one, now held precious new life.
I glanced back to the mama. A nurse was holding her hands over the uterus as it spurted more amniotic fluid like a fountain. Everyone in the room started laughing. It felt good to smile and laugh again.
And then the surgeon reached back into the uterus and out emerged another baby boy! Twins?! No one knew! Oh my!
A nurse stationed at the mamas head, pointed at our team’s Dad and motioned him over to her. Again? Hesitant, he stepped forward. She handed him a tube. With hand motions, they were able to communicate where she wanted Dad to connect the tube. Who knew our team Dad would become a surgical tech in Haiti?
We watched as the little ones were wiped down. When the nurses took the babies to their mama, we snuck quietly out of the room.
This time when we removed our masks and caps we did so with smiles, happiness, and relief.
Later, when our nurse friend returned to the missionary compound, she shared that these babies were #11 for this mama. They tied her tubes for her which they don’t do in Haiti unless you have a c-section. That is a blessing but these babies have to grow up in Haiti. . .
God gives and takes away. In Haiti this is a powerful daily truth.
Please remember this family in your prayers. A family of 13 is hard to provide for in the USA, but near impossible in Haiti.
* I realize some of this story sounds very different from the safety precautions we expect in the States. One thing you learn very fast in a third world country is that different does not equal wrong. It just means different. In Haiti, they do not have the same infection rates post surgery as we do in the US because we have over sanitized and built up immunities to antibiotics. And the only other explanation is by God’s grace.
Part Three - it involves baby pictures! Yes, there is more to this story. No, we did not attend any more c-sections
“Does anyone want to attend a c-section? They are starting one right now.” Our nurse friend asked our team after we finished the hospital tour.
Hands shot up. An emphatic ‘yes’ sounded in the dingy hall from three teen girls, a father, and myself. My hand was in the air? I don’t do blood and medical procedures and yet, my hand was raised, my mind raced. When would we ever have the chance to experience this again? I didn’t have to watch if the surgery became too much but I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to see a baby born in Haiti.
“The mother gave permission for you all to attend. This is a missions hospital so they are used to having others attend surgeries and procedures.”
We’d come from hauling rubble and cinder blocks. Filth and dust decorated our shirts, shorts, and shoes but it didn’t matter. Hand sanitizer squished between fingers and rubbed palms. A blue cap and mask adorned our heads and we were ready to enter the surgical room. Yes, without a gown, gloves, or booties.
We waited with anticipated excitement while the mother received her spinal and then the five of us shuffled into the room and lined the wall. Large brown eyes peered at us from the surgical table. I shifted with discomfort, feeling like a gawker, as this little mama lay nude awaiting surgery to bring her baby into the world. Unlike in America, our view was from the foot of the bed, instead of up by her head.
Orange iodine wash scrubbed across her belly and wiped clean. Blue surgical draping spread out over her body. The extra draping clipped to the oxygen tank and whatever was near her head to block the surgery view from the mother.
And surgery began. Cutting and cauterizing. The smell of burnt flesh wafted through out the room. If I passed out now it would be embarrassing. I can do this.
A male voice whispered beside me.
“Why is she having a c-section?”
“Oh, I’m not sure.” Our nurse friend exchanged words with the surgeon in Creole.
“It’s for a separated placenta.”
Tears pricked my eyes. No, no, no. We shouldn’t be in here. Fear and panic gripped me and raced up my chest. This is bad. So bad.
“This may be very bloody and it may not have a good outcome.”
Please Jesus, let this baby be okay. Please Jesus, let this baby be okay. Please don’t let us traumatize these teens with the death of a baby. Oh please, Lord.
Tears rolled down my cheeks and nose and into my mask. What were we thinking? Why didn’t we ask why before we came in this room? More silent prayers to my Lord who holds life and death in His hands and knows the outcome of this birth.
The uterus came into view. More cutting, tugging, pulling, and blood; lots of blood. Please Lord, let this baby be okay. The surgeon reached in and pulled out a tiny little one. Lifeless.
Silent sobs racked my body. I glanced at the girls lining the wall beside me. Eyes full of tears stared back. This can’t be happening.
The nurses whisked the little one over to a table and went to work to try and revive this precious little boy. Their bodies blocked the door. No escape. Ugly cries filled our bodies as we remained silent to avoid alerting the mother.
Minutes felt like years as we watched in horror. No life. It was over. They covered his little body with a tiny blue blanket.
When the nurses moved aside our group of five hurried out the door. We ripped off our caps and masks and threw them in the garbage, huddling together to cry.
“I’m so sorry. I know this is hard to understand. This is Haiti, where death is very much a part of their lives. And this baby is now with Jesus, in His arms, and he doesn’t have to grow up in Haiti.” Our nurse friend tried to comfort but our minds were not able to process those words. Not yet.
We walked back to the compound, crying and snotting, while others stared as we left the hospital.
Our hostess met us in the dining room of our home away from home. She hugged us and spoke sweet comforting words over our group.
Our group leader/youth pastor hugged me. “I had a bad feeling about this. I didn’t think they would do c-sections in Haiti unless it was for an emergency.” He said. Why didn’t that cross my own mind? Ugh. I’m a mother of four. How could I not think about this?
The girls and I made our way back to our bedroom and flopped onto our beds to grieve.
Lord, how do I help these girls process this situation that I cannot wrap my own mind around? Have we traumatized them for life? What will their mothers say? Oh, my aching heart. Lord be with this young mother and bring her comfort. Amen.
When the tears dried up in our room, I left the girls for a short time so they could talk amongst themselves and I could pull myself together. I returned a short while later to gauge their reactions.
“I know this is so hard and nothing I say can make it better. One thing you can take away from this situation is empathy. One day when a friend has a miscarriage or stillbirth, you will have a very different take on it. It is often ignored and not acknowledged as the big deal that it is.” Heads nodded in response.
“What I want to know is if anyone regrets going into this surgery?” I posed the question and sent up a silent prayer. Were they scarred for life? Would this taint the rest of the trip and block out all of the other amazing experiences we’d encountered up to this point?
All three girls responded with, “No.” Each tear stained face spoke in truth. Heartache, yes, but no regrets. After all, this is Haiti. . .
Click here for part two and return tomorrow for part three of this story. It doesn’t end here and I promise it gets better.
When the Lord lays this mama on your heart, please lift her up in prayer.
You could quite easily say I am a worrier. I am always ten steps ahead of what ever is going on in my life, trying to figure it out. Planning and plotting. I have this need to know how things are going to turn out. Sound familiar?
This need is an addiction. An addiction to worrying. To over thinking. Over analyzing.
The worst part? It means I am not trusting God fully.
God provided for the Israelites every single day on their way to the promised land. Each day they were only provided enough for that very day. He provided their basic need for sustenance. If they took more than needed, it rotted.
How much of our life and time are we allowing to rot because we spend it worrying?
For many of us, it becomes an excuse to behave in ways that don’t glorify God. “Oh, I’m just a worrier.” We can pass off owning our behavior with that simple statement. Or so we think.
But that’s not what God instructs for our lives.
Jesus commanded us not to fear more times than he commanded anything else in the bible.
But how do we stop it?
It takes practice to stop those racing thoughts. I’ve been doing a lot of practicing with our Haiti trip quickly approaching. I know God has it in His hands. He’s already in it. And I have to stop my mind from racing off with crazy thoughts.
When the devil whispers in your ear, “Worry about this!” You can boldly reply with, “NO, I can’t afford to worry!”
Get a few friends to hold you accountable. When you start obsessing and worrying, allow them to gently prod you back into right thinking.
Speak scriptures out loud over your life. Over and over and over again.
Speak truths out loud. “God is in control. I do not need to worry.”
Focus on today only. Worrying about the future does no good. When has it ever changed anything for you? As my mama always says, “Don’t borrow trouble.”
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34
How can we help each other to stop worrying? Has worrying become an addiction in your life? What suggestions do you have to stop it? Share in the comments.
Today, we are blessed to have author, Traci Tyne Hilton share with us! Check out her newest novel, Good, Clean, Murder.
Good, Clean Murder
I send my kids to school every morning, so I get all sorts of me- time all for myself. I get to read as much fiction as I want. I get to write as much fiction as I want. Or non fiction. Or blog. I get to spend hours online. My husband is supportive of anything I attempt and believes that I can do anything I want. And he wants me to do anything I want. I get girls nights out, weekly coffee days, I have playdates coming out of me ears, and more playdates just waiting for me to initiate. According to woman’s magazine culture, I have the perfect recipe for a fulfilled and satisfying life: Me time, and lots of it.
Yet I am not satisfied. I am very frequently exhausted, worn down, stressed, disappointed in myself, discouraged in my parenting and lacking a sense of meaning in life. I think the paragraph above makes the reason for my troubles clear. If I am stressed and exhausted and all of those other bad descriptors it must be because I have too much of something. I need to read through the above paragraph and highlight whatever it is that occurs to often.
I send my kids to school, so I get all sorts of me- time all for myself. I get to read as much fiction as I want. I get to write as much fiction as I want. Or non fiction. Or blog. I get to spend hours online. My husband is supportive of anything I attempt and believes that I can do anything I want. And he wants me to do anything I want. I get girls nights out, and weekly coffee dates. I have playdates coming out of me ears, and more playdates just waiting for me to initiate. According to woman’s magazine culture, I have the perfect recipe for a fulfilled and satisfying life: Me time, and lots of it.
This paragraph seems to center all around on person. Myself. I am leading a very self-centered life. Self-centered and not so satisfying. I am doing things that are fun and productive, but not refreshing or life giving.
It would be impossible to address and change my whole self-centered life style all by myself. Fortunately, I don’t have to do things all by myself. I have the Holy Spirit to guide and help. Praise the Lord because I need the help.
The way to heal my personal case of selfishness-induced-dismay is relatively easy and time honored. Early to bed and early to rise.
My husband and I tend to stay up late reading, blogging, or just hanging out together. His busy work life makes our evenings extra special. But constantly getting to bed at midnight and getting up moments before I need to drive the kids to school makes mommy stress worse, not better..
I need to and am convinced that I can, start my day off focusing on God. If I cut a solid hour and a half off of the evening routine, I should be able to wake up in time for good, old fashioned, morning devotions. It’s been years since my devotions were a morning activity, and I think my stress and anxiety are the natural consequence.
The woman’s magazine culture would call getting to bed early and reading the Bible in the morning necessary me-time for a mommy. I think, in my life, it is important to make a differentiation. Getting to bed early is healthy me-time, yes. Making time for the Bible and prayer is God time, which is exactly what I need more of.
Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of Good, Clean, Murder, The Mitzy Neuhaus Mystery Series, and one of the authors in the The Tangle Saga series of science fiction novellas. She was the Mystery/Suspense Category winner for the 2012 Christian Writers of the West Phoenix Rattler Contest, a finalist for Speculative Fiction in the same contest, and has a Drammy from the Portland Civic Theatre Guild. Traci serves as the Vice President of the Portland chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Traci earned a degree in History from Portland State University and still lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest with her husband the mandolin playing funeral director, their two daughters, and their dog, Dr. Watson. More of Traci’s work can be found at http://www.tracihilton.com
Photo Credit: luigi diamanti at Freedigitalphotos.net
Have you ever had a situation frustrate you so much that all you seem to do is talk about it? So much so, even you are sick of hearing you talk about it? I have a couple of those issues that taunt me. And I can’t talk about them anymore.
Conviction is a wonderful thing but it can sting. I’ve gone before God with the two situations. Prayed over them multiple times. Like a heavy stone tossed into the deep river, God sank a message into the ravine of my heart.
Why are you still discussing it then?
If we’ve brought it to the Lord in prayer, we no longer need to be talking about it. No more bellyaching. No more group gripe fests. No more. Nada.
We need to change our thinking. Instead, let’s decide that God’s got it and step back and watch Him work it out.
Do you trust Him to handle it?
I will admit that my motivations are often selfish. They are about me and what I want. But what if what I want is not what God wants? Am I willing to submit to His authority and step back? Tough to do sometimes.
I challenge you today, stop talking about the problem.Pray about it and then ask God to help you keep your mouth shut. We’re going to need God’s intervention on this one.
Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. Proverbs 17:28
Are you dealing with a situation you’ve talked too much about? Has God ever convicted you to get quiet? Share in the comments section.
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