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Sweetness and Surrender: Part 1



I stepped out of the courtroom to a sea of faces. One side held taunting glares and each pair of eyes seemed to invite me into some unending duel. I quickly diverted my attention to the opposite side of the sea—to all the faces flooded with gratefulness to see me again. To all the smiles that offered encouragement and begged me not to fatigue, not to give up, not to let the hostile current pull me under.

One of my friends from the friendly-faces-side slipped me a sheet of paper. We were nearing the end of the trial. Prayers had been sent up from all directions over the course of the last three years. I had entered the courtroom that morning for the seventh day and realized there wasn’t much else that could be done. This sheet of paper was a final attempt to equip me with the encouragement I might need to push on.

I stepped back inside, took my chair, and stared up at the judge. My eyes studied him for any indication of how he might rule—for us or against us. I rubbed my hand across the top of my protruding belly, and again wondered why God thought it was necessary for me to have three boys. I had surely thought He’d be content with two and then give me a girl. Subconsciously, my other hand reached for my husband’s arm. Just the warmth of his body heat somehow gave me the confidence I needed to make it through the last stretch of this horrible thing called termination and adoption.

While our youngest was growing within the confines of my womb, my husband and I were in what we believed to be the final stretch of a three-year long battle to terminate the rights of my oldest son’s biological father and in turn allow my husband to officially adopt him and continue to raise him in the same manner we had been conducting since he was two years old.

We wanted it official. We wanted him safe. We wanted him to grow in a home that represented unity and stability. Not a home of perfection, but one that when nasty imperfections reared their ugly head, the Head of the home was Someone else.

In the Beginning

I could go into an ugly dissertation on all the awful circumstances that led us to make such a strong decision. To seek termination of someone’s rights as a father is no light decision. Yet as interesting and dramatic as those events might be, they would overshadow the work that God was performing in our lives.

My husband and I married in 2002, just six months after meeting and four months after falling in love. I was 22, a very new follower of Christ, and a very proud mom of a two-year-old little boy.

My son and new husband fell in love as well. Even while we were dating, my husband had discussed with me the desire he had to one day be my little boy’s father on paper as well. I was elated, but not overly hopeful. I had been dealing with inconsistency and difficulties over custody, visitation, lack of child support, and other fun legally binding matters that come with a split home. I knew that there wasn’t hope for utopia in this area of our life and that we were simply doomed to deal with the everyday drama.

We had an attorney who I had hired pre-husband. After discussing adoption as a possible option, we decided that if this attorney of ours ever said, "Now is the time. I think you have a chance," we would jump on those words like bees on honey. We met with him several times, and never were those words uttered. In fact, we even asked a couple of times, impatient and eager to place our son in a safer situation. The answer was always something like, "You could, I guess, but I’m not so certain you’d be standing on firm ground."

Then, one day, I received a phone call. We had just learned that the source of all our drama had earned himself a spot in prison. Our attorney called to let us know, "Now is your best chance."

I stood outside my dining room, ear still burning with those five simple words. I was excited. I was nervous. I was terrified of the ramifications if we lost. I was doomed if I didn’t learn how to cling to God. This was the start of a chapter in my life I will someday reminisce upon as "Sweet times with God."

Setting the Stage

The following months were a whirlwind of activity. We had our second child, moved 1,600 miles away from our home in Tennessee, and started a new career in a new home within a new community.

Letters came from the attorney, along with bills. Sometimes they would be spread apart months at a time. Dates would be set between the lawyers, actions ordered, until one day we heard of the need for a deposition to be taken. Since the defendant, the biological father, was incarcerated, it was necessary for his side of the story to be taken under oath and presented to the trial judge.

I was more than a little nervous. During this time, there were two verses God gave me that I learned to cling to.

God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will receive it in full. (Matthew 5:6)

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. He will shield you with His wings, He will shelter you with His feathers. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. (Psalm 91: 1, 4)

The deposition came and I couldn’t believe what had been said against us. I spent almost an hour thumbing through the dozens of pages of recorded conversation, highlighting everything I knew to be a lie. I panicked and questioned the possibility of us being able to rebut any of the accusations.

My forehead rested heavily upon my hand as I read claims that medical injuries had prevented him from being able to work, therefore excusing him from child support—the strongest accusation on which we stood for grounds of termination. I replayed face-to-face encounters we had in the last couple months before prison, wondering if my mind was playing tricks. I had never seen any injury. I had never seen any inhibiting cast or brace. Was I wrong? Were we mistaken?

Our roller coaster ride had begun. Court papers came that declared witnesses against my husband and me. Not just one or two. I am talking dozens of witnesses. My heart sank. Then the court ordered that the biological father was not going to be present in person during the trial, only over a speaker phone. I was elated.

Another ruling came that demanded a guardian ad litem, which was a lawyer who would act on the best interest of the child. We met with her a couple of times and had an excellent impression of her ability to be strong in her recommendation. Then, a few weeks later, we received a phone call from her stating that she could not in good conscience recommend this adoption. She said her answer, when asked by the judge if she recommended termination of paternal rights, would be a "No."

My journal reads on December 15, 2005:

We received bad news this morning from the guardian ad litem, at this point (only a month away from the big day) her answer is a no. But I refuse to lose hope and focus on God’s power and ability instead. For Ephesians 3.20 says, "To He who is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope." How? By His mighty power at work within us. I’ve seen it in the past, so I know You can work miracles. Reveal to me how to use love and hope in this situation.

That morning, as I sat down at the computer, my heart cried out for some sort of answer or promise from God. At this point in the journey, I was used to Him responding when I was in need of hearing.

I lifted the phone to call my husband when my eyes fell on a sheet of paper my oldest son had left on the table before heading to school, before I received the phone call from the guardian ad litem. The letters were all capitals with no spaces in between and read, "G-O-D-O-L-W-A-S-W-E-N-S." My throat closed shut and my eyes grew hot. I realized what his phonetically spelled words said, "God always wins."

It was another promise, another tidbit of food to sustain me for what lay ahead.

Read Part 2 of "Sweetness & Surrender."

Marian Green resides with her husband and four children. She is an adoptive mom, a pastor’s wife, and (once again) a student. She is currently working on a non-fiction project for “bad girls” — helping women who have lived lives of promiscuity to redefine marital intimacy. In between it all she takes a deep breath and realizes, none of this was what she had planned in life … and she loves it. Marian blogs at Uprooted and Undone.

Marian Green resides with her husband and four children. She is an adoptive mom, a pastor's wife, and (once again) a student. She is currently working on a non-fiction project for "bad girls" -- helping women who have lived lives of promiscuity to redefine marital intimacy. In between it all she takes a deep breath and realizes, none of this was what she had planned in life ... and she loves it. Marian blogs at Uprooted and Undone.


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.



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.



“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.



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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Sweetness and Surrender: Part 1

by Marian Green time to read: 6 min