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Galatians 5:22-25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

“Peace” is the third in my “Fruit of the Spirit” series. The idea of peace reminds me of the idea of “peace like a river, ” which led me to think of one of my favorite hymns: “It Is Well”. You can listen to the song and read the story on Godtube.

“It Is Well”

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul

Refrain: It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this blessed assurance control
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

My sin, 0 the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but in whole
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, 0 my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend
Even so, it is well with my soul

I’ve always loved this song. The words are so powerful. But they mean so much more when you know the story behind them. In the 1870s Horatio Spafford was a successful Chicago lawyer and a close friend of evangelist Dwight L. Moody. In 1870, however, things started to go wrong. The Spaffords’ only son was killed by scarlet fever at the age of four. A year later, it was fire rather than fever that struck. Horatio had invested heavily in real estate on the shores of Lake Michigan. In 1871, every one of these holdings was wiped out by the great Chicago Fire.  Spafford and his family desperately needed a rest so in 1873 he planned a trip to Europe with his wife and four daughters. While in Great Britain he also hoped to help Moody and Sankey with their evangelistic tour. Last minute business caused Spafford to delay his departure, but he sent his wife and four daughters on the S. S. Ville Du Havre as scheduled, promising to follow in a few days. On November 22 the ship was struck by the English ship Lochearn, and it sank in twelve minutes. Several days later the survivors landed at Cardiff, Wales, and Mrs. Spafford sent a telegram to her husband with the brief message, “Saved alone.” When Horatio Spafford made the ocean crossing to meet his grieving wife, he sailed near the place where his four daughters had sunk to the ocean depths. There, in the midst of his sorrow, he wrote these unforgettable words that have brought solace to so many in grief.

You can read a much more detailed version of Spafford’s store here. In writing about the same story of the same song, Jody McBrayer from the band Avalon ends with “It is my prayer that when you and I are faced with struggles, we respond as Mr. Spafford did. With the “blessed assurance” of knowing that God is bigger than our circumstances. He is greater than our speeding tickets. He is more powerful than divorce. He is mightier than cancer or disease. Our God took into consideration all of these situations, both joyful and difficult, long before time began. Then, He sent Jesus to take those burdens from us and to renew our lives.

In Isaiah 53 it says; “…He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”

I wish you all peace, the kind of peace that Horatio Spafford had. The peace that only comes when we trust God with every fiber of our being. Knowing deep within us that, no matter where we are in this life, no matter what answers we don’t have, no matter how difficult the path ahead may be, we can sing and truly believe “It is well, it is well with my soul.”

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Galatians 5:22-25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

This is the second in a nine part series on “The Fruit of the Spirit”. I’ll admit, I’ve struggled with what to write about joy. Sometimes in my life, I don’t feel like I have joy. What is joy exactly? Well, the dictionary defines it as: “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.” and “a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated.” That’s one big emotion.

As I was sitting here lamenting on what to write, my hubby asked me to think of who was the most joyful in the Bible. Immediately, the apostle Paul popped into my head. I thought about how often he was imprisoned, yet he continually wrote about having joy in his life.

The story in Acts 16 is incredible. Acts 16:16-26

Paul and Silas in Prison

16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.

19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

The Philippian Jailer Converted

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.

Most of us won’t have to go through what Paul and Silas did.  Being beaten and then imprisoned. And what did they do while they were there?  They had a little time of praise and worship. How was this possible? Because they understood the difference in joy and happiness.

From a sermon I read on-line, “Paul understood that there is a difference between “joy” and “happiness.” A person can be happy and not have real joy. A person can have joy but not really be happy. The word “happy” comes from a root “HAP” which means “luck, chance, good fortune.” Here are some other words that come from this same root: “happen” “happening” “happenstance” “happy-go-lucky.” To remember the word “happy” just think of “happy-go-lucky.” If things “go lucky” then you can be happy! If things happen the way you want them to happen, then you can be happy.

For example, you can be happy if .  .  .  .

…it’s a nice day
…you get a real special gift for Christmas or for a birthday
…you do well on your report card
…everything is going your way

But what happens if your luck runs out? What happens if things do not happen the way you had wanted them to happen? What happens if . . . .

…the rain spoils the activity or event
…you don’t get the gift you hoped you would get
…you get poor grades on the report card
…you catch the flu
…your favorite team does not win
… your friend lets you down

Happiness depends on circumstances and happenings! If things go well, I can be happy! If things do not go well, there goes my happiness!

Joy is much different than this. JOY does not depend on circumstances, JOY depends on the LORD, and He never changes! Even though Paul’s circumstances were terrible (he was a prisoner!), he could rejoice.  We cannot always count on things happening the way we would like them to happen, but we can always count on God being God no matter what happens.”

This year, I hope to learn to be able to find joy in ALL my circumstances.  And I pray that you will too.

Galatians 5:22-25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

This is the first in a nine part series on “The Fruit of the Spirit”.  Love is such an amazing word. We use it so often for so much. I love my husband.  I love to snow ski.  I love pizza.  I love watching movies at the theater.  But most of this is not really love as described and defined in the Bible.

One of the best definitions of what love is can be found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”

It only took me a short time being married to realize that love is not an easy thing to give.  It’s so easy to be selfish, or want your way.  So easy to hold a grudge and put up your guard.   But it’s supposed to be different with God’s love.

In my MOPS group, we’re reading “A Woman After God’s Own Heart” by Elizabeth George.  In Titus 2:4, it talks about “loving your children”.  On page 138, Elizabeth gave a great explanation on what that’s supposed to mean.

“…The Greek language has several words for love. Agapeo is the kind of love God has for us as His children.  He loves us inspite of our sin; He loves us unconditionally; and He loves us regardless and no matter what.  And certainly we mothers are to extend this kind of godly love to our children.

But phileo is the word God chose to convey mother-love here in Titus 2:4.  Phileo love is affectionate love, a love that cherishes its object.  It is friendship love, a love that enjoys children, a love that likes them! God calls parents to build the family on a foundation of biblical teaching, instruction, and discipline.  The home gains a heart, however, when parents not only love their children but like them as well.”

This week as I read this chapter, I was really challenged.  I’ve found myself slipping into worldly love.  Not really liking my children some days.  Really being annoyed with the little things they do.  But they’re only children.  They’re not even 2 and 4- and they do not have the Holy Spirit inside of them.  Yet, I do.  So I was convicted that I’ve got to pray to really LOVE my husband and children.  To allow God to work in me, for this type of love is so unnatural.  This year, my prayer is that you and I may learn to really love others like Christ loves us.

Psalm 103:8-12 “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. “

East to West

Recently, Casting Crowns came out with a song called “East to West”. It has such a powerful message about God’s forgiveness.

One of the things that’s common to man is that we’ve all had the need to be forgiven. Some of us have done things that feel like it requires “more” forgiveness. Yet, in God’s eye, sin is sin. God is a perfect and holy God and CAN NOT be in the presence of anything that is not holy. So when we sin- whether it’s stealing a pack of gum from a friend or store, or if it’s lying to someone, or if it’s killing someone, that sin separates us from our God.

The good news is that Jesus came to earth. He was fully man, living here on earth. Yet he did something that no other man has done or can do. He lived a perfect life, without sin. He did that because he was also God in the flesh. And then he sacrificed his life on the cross, and bore the weight of all of the sins of the world. He bore the past sins, and all the sins forever to come. He took them on, so that he could die and through his death and resurrection, we could have access to a perfect God. Jesus bore our shame.

God is love. God is forgiveness. And what a victory to know that when we approach the throne of God and realize our sin and repent, our sin is as far as the East is from the West.

This personally is a concept that I really struggled with. I felt like the sins I committed (you can read about that in my blog “Inwardly Knit” just below this one) were too big to be forgiven. I knew in my head that the Bible said that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”(1 John 1:9) But in my heart, I kept remembering what I had done, and feeling guilty and full of shame all over again. It’s like I was calling God a liar in my heart, because I couldn’t believe that He had taken my sins and forgiven them. And they were no more.

So began my struggle with guilt and shame. I really feel like it’s a trick of Satan. The Bible says in John 10:10 that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Yet in the same verse, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” My life was not full. Walking around feeling like a phony. Like if anyone ever found out your secret, you’d be totally discredited.

Amazingly, I lived like this for over 10 years. Hoping no one would ever find out my secret. But that is when my local crisis pregnancy center came in and changed my life. I went to Hope Pregnancy Center to train to help out there, but found out that I had to go through their post-abortion counseling program: PACE. I was a bit reluctant to really dig up my past. But by facing my past, I found true freedom!

Barbara and I spent 3 months looking through what the Bible said and how I could move on with my life. Romans 8:1-4 – “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”

God does not want us to live as condemned people anymore. Psalm 32:1-11 – “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD “- and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

While I kept quiet, I was wasting away. After I went through the counseling, I realized that the Lord could use me AND my past to minister to others. Psalm 34:1-2“I sought the LORD , and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”  I didn’t have to live with the shame and guilt anymore!!  And while I’m not proud of my past, I know that I have experienced forgiveness from Christ and God can use my life – mistakes and all, to help other women.  Because He has forgiven my sins and they are as far as “the east is from the west”, I can stand before him as child fully forgiven and unashamed.  Praise be to the Lord!!!


Psalm 139:13-16
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Inwardly Knit
10 Week Fetal picture

January is Sanctity of Human Life Month. As soon as I started this business, I knew I would be doing this colorway this month. This colorway is loosely based on some amazing pictures that were taken by Lennart Nilsson in his book “A Child Is Born”. This particular one shows a baby at 10 weeks gestation. In every state, abortion is legal for any and every reason up until 12 weeks of gestation, though over 75% of all abortions performed in the United States are performed before 10 weeks gestation.

To read more about each week of development, look at this site. It’s amazing!!

So on to my story. Everyone has skeletons in their closet, and sometimes keeping them there allows you to be trapped in shame. So this is my story of freedom.

I was 16, living in a small town- where I knew everyone and everyone knew me. My mom was THE elementary counselor at our only elementary and had been since before I started school. There’s a lot of history, but basically- while I was raised in a Christian household- I was really taught by example that it’s more important what PEOPLE think of you than what God sees in your heart.

I was in an emotionally abusive relationship, where I was raped for my 1st sexual encounter. It was a date rape type of situation, and I stayed in the relationship cause I was stupid. He was a Senior, who was crazy about sex, and I was a freshman, who lacked a lot of wisdom and confidence. I had always vowed that I’d be a virgin when I married, and after that instance, I kept thinking I could say no. I never intended to be sexually involved. But somehow I could never say no. And he “hated condoms.” Since I was in denial about our sex life, I never took birth control . So about 10 months into our relationship, I found myself pregnant.

Honestly, I never even thought about keeping it. I knew it was wrong, yet I couldn’t imagine the shame I’d bring to my family by carrying a child. My parents expected me to appear like a “good Christian” and if I was pregnant, everyone would know. I coerced my parents into taking me to have an abortion. I cried and cried. And honestly, I lost a part of me that day. And on the way home the shame began, as my dad mentioned that I NEVER needed to mention this to anyone. Like it was our little shameful secret.

And I didn’t learn from the first encounter. Approximately a year later, I found myself in the same situation. But the precedence had been set and everyone knew what we would do. My boyfriend and I broke up for good shortly after my second abortion. Really, in some ways, I was a shell of a person for all of my high school days. It was as if I had to pretend that it never really happened because I didn’t know what I would do if I had to really face it.

Fast forward to college. I went through some counseling for my rape. I came to a place where I forgave my ex-boyfriend. But I was constantly swallowed up by shame. I got involved with a Christian sorority. I grew closer to God than I ever had before. I came to a place of repentance, true repentance. I cried out to the Lord and begged for forgiveness- for my immoral relationship, for the murders I committed. I knew that the Lord forgave me. His word promises us that He does. Yet there was always something in the way. It was like this invisible barrier to every relationship I had. Still the guilt. Still the shame.

Sometimes, I’d think about who those babies would have been. But not for long. I couldn’t stand to hear about abortion or anything like that. I really renewed my position on pro-life in college, just based on the pain I’d carried and the shame I felt. Especially, when I’d read in my local paper about loving couples who were desperate to adopt. I knew I could have given that gift to someone.

And in college, there was a girl who shared her story. She was not a Christian when she got pregnant and had her abortion. She met Jesus in a personal way, and wanted to absolved of all her sins. She went through post-abortion counseling and shared her story with us. The girls in my Christian sorority who she shared with were so supportive. I was in awe of her courage to talk about it. I saw how openly these people loved her and held nothing against her. Yet, I still continued to believe that it would not be the same for me. They’d judge me, because I was a “Christian” at the time I made the decision to kill a baby. So on and on I carried the guilt and shame, though.

I married my husband right after I graduated, and when we started talking about starting a family I grew really concerned. Often, women who have had abortions have trouble carrying children in the future. Right before we were planning on trying to conceive , we really spent some time in prayer and fasting. I confessed my sin and asked the Lord to heal my uterus. I honestly believe that He did. My cycle had been wacko before this, and all of the sudden, I was regular. My oldest daughter was conceived 3 months later, on our 2nd month trying.

When I got pregnant with my second daughter, it was laid on my heart to work with the local crisis pregnancy center. But to do that, you have to go through post-abortion counseling, if you’ve ever had one. I scheduled that and I have to tell you that this experience was a life changer for me.

You see, I believe that Christ came to make me into a new creature. And that I am no longer the person I was a long time ago. And that we all make mistakes. And whether it’s killing a baby (like me) or stealing a pack of gum from a gas station, we have all sinned against God. Yet, the blood of Christ is able to cover even the greatest of sins. And in that I have freedom. I think that I was carrying around shame that I no longer had to carry.

Am I proud of what I did? NOT AT ALL. But am I forgiven in Christ? Yes. If I could go back and change it, would I? In a heartbeat! And I believe that I’ll meet my babies (who I believe are a boys) in heaven. In Christ, I have freedom from my past. And I think that God can use my past to help someone else someday.

Though I am not proud of my decision, I am so grateful for what I’ve learned through it. I can honestly say that abortion is NOT the answer. The scars that you bear are wicked and invisible. Many women can not bond with their future children, if they can ever even carry them. Many turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. I am so glad that I was spared that route. Though bearing those children during my teenage years would have certainly changed my life, I could have looked out for the rest of my life and known I had given someone a gift- the gift of a baby. Instead, I bore the shame and scars that were self-inflicted for 16 years, until I found Freedom in Christ.

To read about my process of finding forgiveness in Christ, read my blog about “East to West”.

Psalm 37:4-6 “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

Created as a custom for a special customer.  She’s such a neat gal, and I’m glad I’ve gotten to “know” her.  She and her husband have been hoping to add another member to their family for quite a while.  And recently, she found out she was expecting again.  She was so excited.  They were simply overjoyed.  Yet, the elation didn’t have a chance to last long as she ended up miscarrying.  It’s been a tough time for them.  To want a baby so bad, to become pregnant and then to lose it, all within a matter of weeks.  It can be a hard season, for sure.  Yet she’s really relying on the Lord for strength.  In fact, she had some verses that have really meant a lot to her in this time.  I will copy some of what she shared with me.

” Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

These verses are a total encouragement to me, especially at the time of my miscarriage.  They helped me to keep my focus on God’s will, rather than my own will.  People are amazed at my “recovery” after my miscarriage; but I just tell them that God has replaced my grief with an unmistakable, unbelievable peace & happiness.

Psalm 37:4-6
4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the    noonday sun.

And these verses remind me of God’s promise.  If we commit our way to the Lord, our desires become His desires.  And he will give these to us.”

God knew her desires.  He still knows them.  Though there are hard times, He can replace our sorrow with joy.  And because He loves us and desires the best for us,  when we delight in Him, He will give us our “heart’s desire.”