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Dear Friend,


I don’t know how my husband managed this, but he suspiciously was never around to answer those wonderful questions our children asked concerning the behavior of our outdoor cats. That responsibility fell on me. I may have lied and told them that the cats were in love and married. Don’t worry, my kids now know the truth through numerous uncomfortable conversations.


I figure if I can brave the awkward topic of reproduction with my kids, I can talk to you about it, too. We’re all adults, right? (Yeah, I know none of us really want to go there. You might want to sit down.)


Ephesians 5:31-32 ESV

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Marriage is a beautiful covenant created by God for us. This promise is to be a symbol of our union with Christ. He wants to be one with His church. I was thinking about this the other day and the roles given to Him and us. Jesus is the groom and we are His bride. Interesting that it isn’t the other way around.


We see the first marriage in Genesis. After God created Eve out of and for Adam (as we were created out of and for Christ), He commands them to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). The relationship God made to be symbolic of our relationship with Christ is a life producing union. It is an intimate relationship of promise, creating generations and multiplying. I came across the following verse while studying this topic:


Hosea 14:8 ESV

O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit.

God says to be fruitful and yet fruitfulness comes from Him. It made me think back to the concept of Christ and His church, of a husband and wife. The wife bears the “fruit,” but the husband provides the seed. (Stay with me here.) When researching the number of sperm cells released in one “event,” the number was in the MILLIONS. Seems a little excessive, but God has His reasons, I’m sure.


Why venture into these waters? God sends life our way in abundance, giving the hope deep within our being ample opportunity for life and growth. He wants us to produce fruit and multiply His likeness. Even as a man is able to contribute to life at any point in the month (unlike a woman), Jesus remains the constant Source of life to us, His Bride. He is always able to give towards life. In fact, Jesus IS life. We are united to life through Him, in Him, and because of Him.


John 14:6a ESV

Jesus said to him, “ I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”

When we consider that believers are the “female,” we see that we were formed to be life carrying vessels. We produce one egg a month on average to be fertilized. Hmmm… A couple thoughts that came to mind: God isn’t trying to overload or burnout His children. His desire is for us to thrive and grow, not be depleted and discouraged. Secondly, God sends us more than enough to ignite the small promise we carry. There is no shortage in God - we can all be carriers of abundant life. Also, as there are cycles to menstruation, when we feel we missed an opportunity to bear fruit, God gives us another opportunity, and another, and… (The opportunities may not all be the same, but God is patient and gracious towards us.)


So about those babies…


Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Believers should all be producing the fruit of the Spirit in some measure. The more connected we are to our Source of Life, Jesus, the more abundant and healthier our fruit. In addition to this, we will be producing many other types of fruit. Occasionally, our fruit grows legs and walks as a ministry. Often it shows itself as a confidence in the Lord and humbleness before Him that serves, loves, encourages, reaches out, leads, provides, etc...

I’ve been told that my daughter looks a lot like me. Just like birthing a child who is part of the father and part of the mother, our fruit is also part of the Father and part of us. As our earthly offspring resembles us, so will our spiritual fruit. You will catch glimpses of the Father (or His Presence) and of yourself when you look at it. If you are quirky, creative, serious, mechanical, whatever, you will see that in your fruit. Don’t expect it to look like someone else’s. There may be similarities, but you are unique. Don’t compare.



I have two children. They are as different as night and day. I’m pretty sure they have secret meetings to figure out how to keep their interests and likes from overlapping. Your fruit may not all be the same. I have a friend who is in between “babies.” She is pregnant, waiting with anticipation to see what this next baby will be. Will it be another Bible study (she has taught many) or something different? As an earthly father’s contribution decides the baby’s gender, God chooses the specific “baby” (plans) fitting for each of us. (Jeremiah 29:11)


In Genesis chapter three we see that due to sin and its effects there would now be difficulty in bringing forth children. (BUT because of God’s grace we are still ABLE to have the gift of carrying life.) There is the unfortunate reality of fertility struggles and miscarriage.


My husband and I lost our first baby to a miscarriage. Those were hard days. I remember afterwards walking around the mall, and it seemed everyone I saw was pregnant. I didn’t scream out loud then and there, so I consider that a victory.


Unfortunately, some of you know exactly what that heartache is like. Others of you have gone through fertility treatments, testing, and numerous doctor appointments. “Bearing fruit” can be rather challenging sometimes, can’t it?!!


Is this true about you? You want your life to count for something. You want to be part of something bigger than yourself. You want people to see Jesus when they look at you. You want to produce something valuable. You want to show you are indeed God’s and that He is at work in you. I know what it’s like to want to hold something in my arms that resembles Jesus. And when this fruit doesn’t easily appear, we get frustrated and want to bring it forth ourselves.


We weren’t intended to reproduce apart from God. Yet, we try to sometimes. We try harder. Maybe we try different methods. We search out help and advice. We may even experience success in bearing “fruit,” but it’s difficult to maintain, feels lifeless, or doesn’t grow in a healthy manner. We see others producing fruit, even twins and triplets, when we are desperate just to be pregnant. We want to cry out, “Why them and not me?”


John 15:4-9 ESV

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

Our focus needs to be on intimacy with Jesus, not on trying harder. Reproduction is the fruit of intimacy and will naturally occur when we are walking closely with Him. We “birth” Christ’s fruit as we become more like Him and His life is replicated in us and through us.


I want to encourage you who are desperate to be fruitful. Relax. Enjoy your relationship with Jesus. Just like producing children with our spouse, there has to be time spent together - time alone when we allow Him into the innermost places of our heart and life. The fruit WILL come. The fruit isn’t the goal, it is the byproduct of an intimate relationship with our Lord. Know God wants you to bear much fruit because in it He is glorified.


If you aren’t seeing the fruit you are hoping for, consider: Have you become consumed with babies (Baby Fever!) and not your “husband.” Jesus needs to be our FIRST LOVE. Are you not walking as closely with Him as you like to think you are? Sometimes life causes us to drift away. Or are you in a time of preparation? There can be a training period before things are birthed. (I wrote 115 blog posts that 2-6 people on average read before becoming part of First Love.) God is gracious in that He wants to set us up for success as a “parent.”


When the fruit comes, God doesn’t intend for you to single parent this. He wants to be a hands-on, right by-your-side parent. Don’t exclude Him. (It’s His kid, too, you know.) He will help keep you from getting run over by the kids, living in a state of exhaustion and frustration. He wants to encourage you, give you wisdom, and support you. Abide in Him.


John 10:10b ESV

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Painting the baby room,

Candace








Hi everyone,


I am amazed at how fast the year has gone by! Here we are preparing our hearts for the Christmas season and reflecting on what that means for us as believers. Jesus, God’s son, came down from His perfect, heavenly home to be born in a stable. Jesus would go on to experience life just as we do with all it’s temptations, hardships and sorrows, all the while, never sinning but dying a criminal’s death in our place. After three days He rose from the dead, defeating death, so that you and I could be in relationship with Him. That is the greatest story of hope that continues to be told throughout the world!


We carry this hope until we can be with Him forever. Until then, we can still sit with Him in heavenly places. You may wonder how this is possible. I like to say that God made a way when there was none.


Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV says “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

God Himself raised us up with Christ and sat us together with Him so that He could show us the IMMEASURABLE riches of His grace in kindness. Wow! Grace is unmerited favor, and kindness is being generous. I like to think of it as a proud father lavishing his daughter with everything that she needs and making her feel special. Sadly, because we are still part of a fallen world, it’s not always unicorns and rainbows. Each one of us has experienced things that maybe we wish we hadn’t, but when we are in Christ, we remember He has already taken our hurts, our regrets, our imperfections and our sins on the cross. He meets us in our mess with nothing but love, peace and strength.


Colossians 2:10 ESV

And you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

Being seated in heavenly places with Jesus shows us how to live from a place of victory through His power and authority. In my own life, I tend to focus on the things that need “fixing” or aren’t “perfect” yet like my cooking skills, my self care (not staying in my pajamas all day), my kids obeying me and so on! I’ve noticed that whatever I dwell on is what I become. If I’m dwelling on the negative, that’s how I am going to be towards the people around me. Lately, I’ve been telling myself that I’m seated with Jesus, and He has already done it all for me. Therefore, I don’t need to strive to create a perfect life to have His peace and joy. It’s not about the strength I have to fight my battles, but rather what He finished on the cross that makes me victorious and more than a conqueror!


1 Corinthians15:57 TPT

“But we thank God for giving us the victory as conquerors through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.”

Don’t ever be deceived into believing that you are not loved, not wanted and forgotten. Jesus came down from the heavenly places that you are now seated in, to live the perfect life that you never could and die an awful death that you deserved because of sin.


Oftentimes, I must remind myself of where I sit. Being a mom of toddlers, I find myself feeling weary most days (if you have little people I know you can relate). Trying to keep my mind focused on anything can be a challenge! An easy way for me to meditate on the Word throughout the day is by posting my verse of the day on my kitchen windowsill (since I spend a lot of time at the sink washing dishes). Each time I see it my thoughts are taken back to Jesus, and I am reminded that I sit right next to Him.

I’d like to end with this thought: Don’t be discouraged if you are struggling with something right now. Jesus went to the cross because He knew we would have weaknesses and struggles. He does not expect perfection from us but rather surrender to His perfect love. Know that the Lord is with you, He is for you, and He is your refuge. He wanted you right from the start, sitting next to Him in heavenly places, experiencing His abundant life and being victorious in every area of your life.

As you walk with Jesus, He will show you more of what it means to live from a heavenly place while you are here on the earth.

Blessings,

Becky



Becky is a mom to twin girls and wife to Nick. She grew up overseas with her family as a missionary and has a passion for leading worship, as well as seeing women empowered through their walk with Christ.


Dear Friend,


A few weeks ago I was complaining to my husband about some of my struggles. I was weary, discouraged, and I felt like a failure in so many ways. He asked if I wanted to know why I was having a tough time. Yes! Please tell me why I am struggling. (Wait - did he know this whole time and not tell me?) He matter-of-factly says, “You're under attack.”


I’m under attack??? What do you mean? It took a moment for what he said to register. That is how oblivious I was to the whole thing. The question that came to my mind was why would the enemy waste his energy on me when I do such a good job messing things up by myself? Shouldn’t he tell his minions, “Don’t worry about Candace; we can focus our attention on others who have their act together.”? It makes sense to me anyway...


Apparently, that isn’t the way it works, and our enemy will gladly add his weight to our struggles. Since I didn’t think I was worthy to be called out in battle, do you think I was in my combat garb? I was wearing the equivalent of spiritual pajamas. Great if you are going for that comfy look, but a terrible idea for the battlefield.


That day was a wake up call for me to stop lounging in my pjs. I’m a peace loving gal, but if the enemy (as our battle is not “against flesh and blood” - Eph. 6:12) is going to mess with me, I’m going to get proactive. Acknowledging the battle and dressing appropriately is a great place to start.


This became even more evident in a recent conversation with a friend. She was frustrated with thoughts that were going through her head. They were stealing her peace and joy and causing confusion and condemnation - all calling cards of the enemy. As we talked, we came across something interesting. God had been stirring her heart. She was experiencing discontentment in the best of ways, the kind that encourages us to delve into Jesus. He was calling her into more. More of Him. More of life. I asked - Did she have a dream for the future? I wasn’t expecting an answer in the affirmative and was admittedly a little shocked when she answered, “Yes.” She then described with some detail what she wanted to do.

The Holy Spirit had a hand in turning the light on for us that day. When that precious believer realized God was at work in her, that He had given her a dream, and that the enemy was trying to stop it before it began, a mighty warrior rose within her. She took her stand in Christ and is now taking the first step in God’s plan for her.


This would be a great time to talk about the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) and His sufficient provision, but we are going to go a different direction. I will mention one thing, though. If you study the armor of God you will find each piece is somehow connected to Jesus and what He did for us. So if you need a shortcut getting all that armor on in the morning - that shortcut is Jesus. Begin the day by inviting Him into every aspect of your day and what you are dealing with.




Time to wake-up. It’s daytime and work needs to be done. There is a battle, and you are involved whether you know it or not. You are enlisted even if you don’t believe you are worthy to be a soldier. There was a draft, and everyone’s number was drawn. (Yup, take the footie pjs off and put them away.)


Maybe you’re like me. Who am I to be enlisted and then called out into battle? I’m not a pastor, a missionary, or a well-known Christian leader. I’m a woman who lives in the middle of nowhere with more cats than FaceBook friends. So why would I have a target on my back? Why would you?


Glad you asked. First, Genesis 1:27 tells us that we are made in the image of God. There is something about us that reminds our enemy of God when he looks at us. All people are created in God’s image, even those who haven’t surrendered their lives to Christ yet. Our enemy is out to destroy that image.


Secondly, God loves us (John 3:16). That’s worth repeating. GOD LOVES US. All the more reason for the enemy to dislike us. If he can hurt us, he can hurt God’s family, His treasured possession.


Thirdly, we are created to be vessels. We are all empty containers, walking around, looking to be filled. The last thing the enemy wants us to be filled with is God. If you have invited the Lord in, you are a container of His Presence. EVERYWHERE you set foot, He has access: You bring Him with you into every conversation, every encounter, every simple hug. Our enemy definitely doesn’t want us to know who we are carrying around. Do you REALIZE who you are carrying around?!!




It’s not WHO we are, but WHOSE we are. It’s not what we’ve done, but what Jesus did that gives us value. You’ve probably heard: something is worth what someone is willing to pay for it - Jesus paid for us with His life. God has placed that unwavering value on us. We are loved by the Creator, stamped with His image, and vessels of His all powerful Presence. These are a few of the reasons why we are targeted by the enemy.


Side note: Speaking of carrying God’s Presence - shouldn’t we occasionally get excited when we have the opportunity to be around others? The Lord is there among us. Aren’t you curious how He will show Himself? Try this - the next time you will be around people, take a moment by yourself and acknowledge His Presence. Ask Him to open your eyes and give you a willing heart. Then obey.




Our enemy often has a better understanding of who we are than we do. He doesn’t want us to figure it out or remember we are in a battle against him and against darkness, fear, hatred, etc... He’s hoping that we will get lulled into a stupor, like I was, lounging in our slippers and being oblivious to his intent. He’d love to catch us sleeping, but if he can’t, he will try to wear us down until we want to give up.


Some of you have been battling so long, and you are weary, wanting to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over your head. May God strengthen you right now, even as you read this. Don’t give up, Friend.





The One whose presence we hold is greater than the one we battle. Jesus not only gave us the armor for this battle, but He’s established the victory we fight from. We forget how powerful it is to have Jesus with us and what a threat He is to our enemy. Be encouraged - because of what Jesus accomplished and God’s Presence with us, we can stand against the attacks of the enemy.


Mighty Warrior (Yes, you.),

Wake up. Arm yourself with Christ for the battle is at hand. The victory is already determined, and it belongs to our Commander and King, Jesus. May you be strengthened by our Lord when the battle is fierce and it runs long. May He open our eyes to His Presence and the ones that stand next to us. You are not alone in this fight.


Ephesians 6:10-11 ESV

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.


Adjusting my armor,

Candace


P.S. A few things you can do if you find yourself in a battle:

  • Ask a friend to pray with you.

  • Find Scripture dealing with the area you are struggling in. Say it outloud. Pray it. Meditate on it.

  • Worship.


Honestly, I don’t like to give our enemy too much of my time or attention. I feel our time is best served focusing on God, but I felt this needed to be addressed.




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