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Band-Aids for Piper

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“Mommy, Mommy, I got a boo-boo!”

Piper, my toddler, had been playing next door with our neighbor and her sister’s kids, running around in sandals. When she arrived home, she greeted me with her wound announcement.

Sure enough, she had a bleeding scratch on her foot, probably caused by a stick or something she had run over in her busyness. I set her up on the bathroom sink to clean the wound.

“Ouch! Ouch!” Ever on the alert for dramatic flair to add to her little life, she added sound effects and struggle that only prolonged the process.

“Do you need a Band-Aid?” I asked, knowing she would respond affirmatively. She firmly believes that Band-Aids fix boo-boos, even if boo-boos are only imagined.

As I stuck the Band-Aid on her foot (with not a little help from my independent miss, who insisted on unwrapping the fix herself), I told her I was sorry that she had gotten hurt. And I was sorry. I wished I could tell her that she wouldn’t get hurt again. I started to tell her that I wished she hadn’t gotten hurt this time, especially not when she was playing. I started to tell her she needed to be more careful.

Something stopped me, though.

She was sorry she’d gotten hurt, but couldn’t wait to get back outside to play. She didn’t need sympathy for her pain. She wanted to go back to living.

Instead of offering the cautionary sympathy on the tip of my tongue, I found myself saying wistfully to her innocence: “Life is like that. We get hurt the most when we’re really living.”

God Who Wounds

Everything in my growing-mother’s heart wants to keep my children from the wounds I have known: disappointed hopes, broken hearts, physical limitations, repeated failures. I have lived long out of my own wounds, and they keep me caged and quiet at times so that I don’t even know what I want because I won’t risk myself and my heart beyond the safety I have chosen.

But when I go before the Lord to ask Him for the abundant life Jesus came to give, I come face to face with God who wounds that He might heal. I encounter a God who guarantees that His people will suffer, because who are we to think that we won’t suffer as our Master suffered?

“They have persecuted Me; they will persecute you,” Jesus promised.

The suffering we face isn’t always persecution, either.

Very shortly after my second child was born, someone I didn’t know found out that her baby had died in her womb. I had recently discovered that she lived in my town, and, hungry for some real-life connection with an in-the-flesh girlfriend, I had initiated a meet. Two days later, she broke news on her blog that broke my heart with hers.

We decided to wait on the meeting — time and emotion were against us. Her very deep wound opened a path into my own fear, and as I held my newborn son to my breast and welcomed his smiles from his fifth day in my arms, there was caution in my joy. I didn’t mean to wall myself off from him, but I couldn’t embrace him so fully as I wanted.

I read this woman’s story, following her heart through the ultrasound discovery, through the memories of her labor, through her first and last sight of her daughter’s face, through the scattering of her ashes on a beach I have visited. I thought, How does she go one with this reality? How can she say this goodbye?

I prayed, “God, why?”

My own son was strong and healthy; why had her daughter been weak to die before she breathed? I clutched my baby to me hoping he’d love me, then I held myself back from him, fearing inevitable loss; I prayed for God to come near me and love me, then I pushed Him away for lack of a guarantee.

What kind of love would tear a heart apart in such a seemingly senseless manner?

But what kind of love would plan for His own Son to die?

By His Wounds We Are Healed

My friend — for she was a friend after I had read her heart, not someone I didn’t know — kept writing, counting first the days, then the weeks since her baby had died, until her baby was supposed to be in her arms. I watched, transfixed, as she changed overnight. Hope began to slip into her grieving, life went on for her, and there were three sons she was loving more than she had loved them before her wound.

Something was happening in her heart, and as I continued to follow her journey, I couldn’t help but gather my own courage to breathe past my fear, to offer my love anyway, to open my wounded heart up to my own children. She wrote of messy rooms, unscheduled days, and long-porch reflections. I dared to release my guilt over my own unkempt house, my unpredictable two-kid schedule, my moments alone.

She wrote of a longing inside each of us, something that doesn’t feel quite right until it finds satisfaction in the love of God, something in her that hadn’t found such satisfaction until He had taken her daughter to His heart. Her pain staggered me. But God’s work in her heart brought me to my knees and dared me up again to live outside my fear of loss.

Jesus came to bring abundant life, but to give life, He first had to die.

It is by His wounds that my deep sin-wound is healed. It is through His pain that I gain joy. The guilt that He bore in my place allows me shame-free peace.

What kind of love, indeed?

God Band-Aids

Paul prayed that he would get to enter the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. He wanted the life-wounds that would quicken him and set him apart for the resurrection of the dead. He willingly chose to forget what old wounds he bore and pressed on into the face of his own death, that he might be with the Lord (Phil. 3:7-21).

If I am to live, I cannot cling to the idea of a wound-free life. Really living as God has promised that I may live will leave me open to all His sorrow — and all His joy.

About a week after Piper came to me with her boo-boo, I noticed her scabbed-over wound while we were sitting together on the couch. I asked her if she knew what the scab was.

“A boo-boo!” She responded quickly, preparing her drama again. I kissed it and told her, “This is a God Band-Aid, just for Piper. Wasn’t He so good to make a way to make your boo-boo better?”

Article photo copyright © 2010 Kelly Sauer. Used with permission.

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Kelly Sauer is a writer, wedding photographer, restless heart, wife, and mama to two. She makes fine art out of real life, revealing beauty where it wasn't. She shares her art and her real life at www.kellysauer.com. You can find her on Twitter as @kellysauer.

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When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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Band-Aids for Piper

by Kelly Sauer time to read: 5 min
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