God is ALWAYS better than we think He is

“There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

This is a famous quote from the Hiding Place, a true story written by Corrie Ten Boom.  She and her sister Betsy had defied the Nazis by hiding Jews in their home.  When their house was raided, the Jews were never discovered in the expertly designed hiding place, but Corrie and Betsy were taken into custody and eventually put into a concentration camp.  Corrie experienced the horrors of a hell on earth.  She witnessed the death of many, including her beloved sister.  Yet she learned that in the darkest pit, God was there…and He was good…so incredibly good.

She came out of that experience more in love with Jesus, more devoted to following Him.  She spent the rest of her life encouraging other people to love Jesus.  That is a testimony that no one can deny.  No imaginary God, no fairy tale God, no boring or religious God could work a miracle like that; placing a life into the crucible of suffering and making it a joyous offering.

I have often pondered Corrie’s life and wondered what I would have done in her place.  It is unlikely that any of us will have to make the choices she had to make.  Yet each one of us will have our own personal hell on earth that we will have to navigate through.

On Thursday night, I heard the stories of five women from my church; each I knew well; each had faced their own crucible.


Kristi is a wonderful deejay on the local Christian radio station.  She lives in my neighborhood and I sometimes see her pass my house, taking a walk with her little boy in a stroller.  She told how just months after their marriage, her husband was diagnosed with cancer.  Years later cancer was found in her body as well.  In addition, the doctors told them it would be impossible for them to have children.  Her story wasn’t about the seven long years of treatment and tests, sorrow and disappointments.  Her story was about the goodness of God, His healing power, and their miracle baby!

Bobbie is the mother of one of my first youth leaders, and one of the hardest working, sweetest ladies you will ever meet.  She faced breast cancer and multiple cancer scares after that. Does she live in fear?  No!  Her life is full of joy because of her amazing God!

Tiffany was just a junior higher when I met her.  I was in senior high and would sing on stage with the youth worship band.  She wrote me a sweet little note at one of the youth retreats that said something like this, “I see you on stage with such grace and confidence, and I know that God does that.”  Well, my singing voice is not what it used to be, and I have faded into the background.  Now I watch Tiffany on stage worshipping with a clear and powerful voice, singing songs that she has written and recorded, and I am looking up to her in admiration!

Tiffany told the story of suffering a blood clot in her lungs, dying twice, and surviving a surgery that would have killed 499,999 people out of 500,000.  Her story wasn’t about the pain and suffering she had to enduring during the recovery process.  She didn’t complain about the interruption in their lives with two little girls and a newborn baby boy.  She told of how God’s goodness was there every step of the way.  She said, “You can NEVER exaggerate the goodness of God.  He is ALWAYS better that we think he is!”

Sharon was a leader in youth group when I was in high school.  A few years later, I actually saw myself in her wedding album.  She and her husband were honeymooning in Boston.  I just happened to be there on a missions trip with YWAM, and we randomly ran into each other on the street and snapped a picture!  I admired both her and her husband, and when I heard the news that he had left her for another woman while she was pregnant with their second child, I was heartbroken for them.  She was devastated and was a single parent for almost 15 years.  Yet her story is not one of loss and betrayal.  It is a story of learning to love herself, learning to forgive, and learning how much God loved her.  Now she sees restoration in all the broken relationships and just married a man who is better than the very best she had ever imagined for herself.  God gave her more that she had asked for!

Sue is a powerful woman of God at our church.  I first met her when I volunteered to help out with vacation Bible school when I was in high school.  I was assigned to help in her room which was the dancing room.  Each day, four different groups of children would rotate through our room.  Sue led them with a microphone (which she really didn’t need) and tireless energy. I had never had so much fun at vacation Bible school before!

Sue told of her battle with cancer.  She was in so much pain that she wished for death.  She survived the surgery that took out her entire stomach, part of her esophagus, part of her intestines, and her gallbladder.  Her doctors were so surprised, they hadn’t developed a follow-up plan.  Cancer free six years later, she doesn’t moan about how unlucky she was.  She sings and shouts and passionately tells of her beloved Jesus!  She looks like she would explode if she didn’t proclaim her love.

How can this be?  Shouldn’t all these women be bitter and cynical, wondering why a loving God would lead them through the valley of the shadow of death?  All of these women have a real relationship with a real God who never left them for a moment.  In fact He was always right there with them, carrying them, listening to them, speaking to them, and healing them.  He was sending answers, giving provision, working miracles and loving on them until they were filled to overflowing with that love.

This is a God that we just cannot deny.  I pray that you and I will be encouraged to trust more in His great love for us and have the courage to say in our own trials…

“There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”


The More Children I have, the More Blessed I Become

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Babies are a blessing!  When they look up at you with the blue eyes they got from you and smile a dimply smile they got from their Dad, you think to yourself, “Surely there is nothing better in the entire universe than this precious little one!”

Yet babies can be a lot of work with all the crying, diapering, laundry, training, and worrying that is involved.  And toddlers!  Wow, the work just multiplies.  A huge amount of energy is spent just keeping them from death and injury as they begin to explore their world with abandon.

Young children need to learn all sorts of things such as: the alphabet, addition facts, what president is on the penny, what a president is, how to be polite, how to get rid of the monsters in their closet, and how to wipe their little butts.  This constant instruction can be frustrating and draining.

As they get older the training expands to chores, homework, and interpersonal relationships.  It becomes apparent at this point that these children have developed personality traits that are nothing like yours, and you wonder how this could have happened!  They have behavioral issues that you never expected and don’t quite know how to handle because frankly, you expected your children to be nearly perfect just like you.

Then you begin to relate to the parents who act as though their children are more of a burden than a blessing.  They make jokes about how their children drive them crazy, and how they definitely don’t want ANY MORE of those little monsters!!  They love them desperately…but they kind of dread the summer when they have to be with them day in and day out.  You understand…because sometimes you feel that way too!  Oh, for some alone time!  Oh, for peace and quite!  Oh, for some extra money to buy something for yourself!

The Bible says that children are a reward and a heritage from the Lord.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them! (Ps 127:3-5) God says that birth, pregnancy, and conception are our glory. (Hosea 9:11) Pregnancy, babies, fruitfulness, and many children were God’s blessing to his people when they were obedient to him. (Ex 23:26 and Lev 26:9)  To have a lot of children in your family is a sign of God’s favor and blessing on your life.

Let me tell you all the ways I have become more and more blessed with each child.

It is true that children are a lot of work, but all the work has taught me about how to be more organized, more efficient, and more time effective.  My time has become so precious to me, and I don’t spend it on any old thing.  I use it as wisely as I know how.  I have been so blessed by giving up stupid TV shows and filling my time with relationships, learning, reading, and drawing close to God.  I am a better and more knowledgeable person for all the hard work I have done.  Now I am able to train my children to be hard and efficient workers as well.  Some of them even enjoy an organized home and a job well done!  What a blessing!

It is true that children are so emotionally draining.  All the crying that is not comforted by my best mothering efforts could lead me to depression.  All the nightmares and fears I am called upon to calm, all the yelling and disagreements that I am required to negotiate, all the disobedience and disrespect I am expected to correct WITHOUT anger could drive me completely insane!  Instead, it highlights my weaknesses and drives me right into the arms of God.  I depend on Him for everything.  I look to Him for every answer.  I seek Him for everything my children need, because I know that I just don’t have it all within me.  I go to Him every time I fail and trust that He will cause my children to be just fine despite the fact that their mother is grossly inadequate.  I pray constantly and continually for their bodies, their souls, and their spirits.  He amazes me with His promises for them, and overwhelms me with His love for them.  Without all these children, I would never be so close to my heavenly Father who parents me perfectly.  I am so blessed to have such a close relationship with God, and I am so blessed to feel His precious grace increase every time He gives me another baby.

It is true that children cost a lot of money.   They are constantly growing and needing new everything!  Yet for every child that God gives, he gives the money and resources to go along with that child.  We have a big house because we have a lot of children.  We did not get the big house first and then decide that we could have more children.  We have resources constantly flowing to us because we had a lot of children.  We didn’t wait for the resources and extra money in the bank before we decide to have more children.

I have bought very few children’s clothes in the past 16 years.  Clothes just come to us through friends and relatives.  Nice Clothes!  Beautiful clothes!  Barely or never worn clothes!  I have bins and bins and bins of clothes in the attic just waiting for a child to grow out of their current wardrobe!  We have had people give us a refrigerator and another person gave us a huge chest freezer for free!  Then we have other friends who get us amazing prices on boxes and boxes of food to fill all of the refrigerators and freezers!

If one of our children needs something, we pray together for God to bring it to us…and He does.  It is so fun to witness the unusual and unexpected ways that He does it. When the time comes for bigger needs such a cars and college educations, I know that the miracles will be there.

I have heard many amazing testimonies from missionaries who go out on the mission field with very little resources.  They simply have a raw faith that they are doing God’s work and God will provide…and He does.  God loves my children just as much as he loves the heathen people in the jungles of the Amazon.  I can expect miracles in my own life just as the missionary does.  What an exciting life I get to live, a life of faith and miracles!  What a blessed life I have!

As I have more children, my workload actually lessens and my life becomes easier.  Why?  Children go from being liabilities to being assets.  They can work!  They can do chores and do laundry and cook and clean and take care of babies, and if you train them right, they can run the entire household without you even being there.  Oh, the glory of seeing a clean kitchen and knowing that you didn’t have to wash a single dish!  Oh, the wonder of a date night with your husband as the older children put the younger children to bed.  Oh, the beauty of returning home from a lovely evening out to find peace and order without handing out money to a babysitter.

Being pregnant is so much easier with lots of children and teenagers around.  I don’t have to hurt my back doing housework.  I don’t have to bend down to get anything with all those eager, little hands.  And everyone wants to hold the baby and learn how to change his diapers.  Blessings abound!

What could be better than fun and adventurous family times?  To experience new and different things together is awesome.  To go on trips and vacations with so many playmates around is loads of fun.  At home on a normal day, there is no lack of conversation!  The cooing and babbling of the baby keeps us delighted.  The hilarious comments of the younger children keep us laughing.  The constant questions of the curious ones keep us alert.  The unexpected and imaginative thoughts of all the children keep us in wonder and awe!  The adult conversations with the teenagers keep us company and enrich our lives.  The love exchanged between us all is what we live for.  And what a lovely, blessed life it is!

I can only guess at all the blessings that will be mine when each child becomes a mature, responsible adult.  How lovely it will be when I witness them becoming who God created them to be, when they are displaying their unique gifts and callings.  And when they become parents with children of their own, all those grandchildren will be one adorable blessing after another!

I can only imagine what it will be like someday when I stand before God and He pulls back the veil.  I will be able to see clearly the impact that my children had on the world and on eternity.  What inconceivable blessings will be mine, forever and forever!

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When people see me out with all of my children, they seem a little shocked that there are so many of them.  When friends and strangers alike learn that I have eight children and one on the way, their reactions are all very similar.  At first they seem very surprised and confused (Like they are asking themselves, “Do people really have 9 children these days?”)  Then they give me a look that says, “You are absolutely crazy, you know that don’t you!”  But they usually don’t make that comment out loud.  What they do say, almost universally across the board is, “Wow, you have your hands full!” and “God bless you!”  I have been blessed more times that I can count!  Every time I meet someone new, they say to me,

God bless you!”

I know that words have power.  With words like those being spoken over me every time I go out, I feel like the most blessed woman in the world!


Ordinary or Miraculous?


We all hope and pray for that divine moment when life passes from ordinary to miraculous.  Yet as I have experienced miraculous breakthroughs in my own life many times, I am struck by how they are always surrounded by the normal, everyday things.  I think most miracles in the Bible occurred on ordinary days in ordinary lives.  The people were still people like us; hot or tired, scared or angry, awkward or confused, obedient or backslidden…with faith and doubt living together in their hearts and minds.  Perhaps they were battling just to keep afloat, yet secretly wishing they could give up and slip into a dark and peaceful oblivion.  And after the heavens opened and the glorious event occurred, there were still battles to fight, details to agonized over, persecution and annoyances to deal with.  There were still journeys as long as a lifetime to be navigated…one step at a time.

I have been reading 2 Chron 14-16 a lot lately.  I am encouraged when I read about how God won an amazing victory for King Asa simply because the king relied on Him.  An army of a million men were defeated before the small nation of Judah!  Extremely perplexing to me, however, was the fact that the prophet Azariah came to Asa and encouraged him AFTER his stunning victory.

“The Lord is with you, while you are with him.  If you seek him, he will be found by you…But you take courage!  Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded,” the prophet said.

Wouldn’t such a phenomenal victory be enough to show Asa that the Lord was with him?  Wasn’t he already on such an incredible high after seeing the Almighty God answer his prayer, save his life, and deliver his nation from defeat and annihilation?  Why did the prophet come to him AFTER the victory rather than before?

Recently we have had a miraculous breakthrough occur in our own lives, yet we still need many more miracles and feel overwhelmed by it all.  I think I might understand why Asa needed that encouragement.  He probably became king in his early twenties.  He inherited a nation full of idolatry, foreign relation nightmares, and huge needs. He had a kingdom of people with problems, all looking to him for the answers.  Being a man of integrity who sought the Lord, he felt the full weight of the responsibility that he was carrying; to please God and serve the people.  He probably would have rather died in that battle than to turn out to be a lousy king and have the people suffer under his lousy rule.  History tells us that he was a very good king, but he had no assurance that he would be.  He was probably plagued with doubts and concerns…just like all of us!  One miracle was not enough for Asa. One miracle is not enough for us.  In order to take courage, we need the miracle of God dwelling with us everyday, just as Asa did.

Isn’t it glorious that God promised that He would NEVER leave us or forsake us?  Isn’t it mind-blowing that God promised that NOTHING could ever separate us from His love?

The miraculous is ALWAYS at work, in every mundane step of the journey.  We all long for that moment when the power of God becomes undeniably evident.  Yet the miraculous is in the here and now, in the imperfection of ordinary moments.  It was surrounding me this morning as I was lying on the living room floor doing exercises to alleviate neck pain and Coldplay was on in the kitchen and my child was asking if he could have sugar on his oatmeal.  I wanted to just pause and take it all in.  The vastness of the universe, complicated beyond my comprehension, forever expanding, and being held together by His words.  The inconceivably minute details of every one of my cells, burning energy, producing life so I can exercise, listen to music, say, “Just a little bit of sugar on your oatmeal!” , and ponder the unexplainable mysteries of the cosmos all at the same time.  The wondrous is all around us.  The supernatural is on the inside of us…that is…if we have invited Him in.

How much of that miraculous are we missing today…simply because we don’t realize that it is here?  Can I be like a prophet speaking to you, as Azariah spoke to Asa, when I type these words that God led you to read?

Take Courage, the Lord is with you!  And with the Lord, every moment of your life is pregnant with divine possibilities!