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Month: March 2019

Grief and Grace: An Interview with Sarah Jonas

For such a young person, Sarah has experienced more than her fair share of grief. In this podcast episode, she shares about her journey of both grief and faith through her mother’s illness and passing.

Sarah and her mother

This podcast will minister to anyone who is currently struggling with their own grief journey, or with those who’s lives, friendships, or families are affected by addiction.

In this episode, Sarah shares a verse that ministered to her throughout the care-giving process:

Fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10 ESV

If this podcast encouraged you, or resonated with you in some way, please feel free to share it with others. You can join in the conversation at PRN’s Facebook page as well.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus!

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Stories of Faith – Pass Them On!

I’m going to let you in on a secret: this blog and podcast ministry affects me more than it does my audience. Of course, my intention is for PRN to encourage other women in their faith, but I also find that it encourages my own. Let me explain.

While recording my the last two podcast interviews, I found myself becoming tearful as my sweet friends shared their God stories. Tearful because the stories were touching. Tearful because even though these women are my friends, there were layers of their stories that I had not previously known. Tearful because the Lord was using their stories to touch my own heart. As they shared about how God ministered and spoke to them, God was, through them, ministering to my own heart as well.

My pastor often says, “Believe the Gospel more.” At face value, this sounds like a really wise blanket statement to any Christian, but I honestly don’t often apply it. What does it really mean to believe the Gospel more?

The Gospel is GOOD NEWS, not just the minute I received salvation, but every minute: In the midst of hard days with my kids, in the midst of days my body doesn’t want to cooperate with my plans, in the midst of busy, can’t get a breath between activities, kinds of days. It’s good news on the days many people read my blog and listen to my podcast, and it’s still good on the days that they don’t. The Good News remains the same: I am loved, accepted, forgiven, and redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ. He is using every circumstance in the present life, even the bad, to be worked into His (and my) ultimate good. (Romans 8:28)

That is SUCH good news! Realistically though, it’s incredibly difficult to maintain that perspective! The primary way I can believe the Gospel more is to spend time with the Lord and in His Word. However, the second most important factor to my faith being renewed, is twofold:

  1. I need to remember and tell others about God’s faithfulness in my life. Remembering times He has been faithful in the past helps me have faith for my future.
  2. Hearing others’ stories of God’s faithfulness encourages and renews my faith. Where has the Lord shown up, sustained them, spoken to them, reminded them of His goodness? When have they stepped out in faith and been caught by their faithful Savior? Hearing others’ stories bolsters my faith.
Psalms 40:10

Thankfully, through podcasting, I get a double portion of faith stories. I get to hear the stories the first time as we record, and then I listen to the conversation again through the editing process. I find that there are many parts of the stories that I hear the second time around that I missed the first time. This too reminds me of the faith walk. I may read a passage of Scripture once and come away with one golden nugget, but when I read the passage again, another nugget of truth sticks out to me.

Telling and hearing faith stories is a key part of being in the body of Christ. So, if you have a story of God’s faithfulness in your life, don’t keep it to yourself. Pray and wait – the Lord will bring people into your life who need to hear your story.

Are you feeling depleted in your own faith right now? Spend time in the Word and in prayer. Go talk and pray with those whom you know are strong in their faith and listen to their stories of God’s faithfulness. The body of Christ working together can spread faith like wildfire. Faith is contagious. Like a baton in a relay, pass it on.

Pause: Take a deep breath and find a quiet space to read Psalm 40: 1-11. What stands out to you as you read this passage?

Renew: Reflect on a time that you heard someone share, as Psalms 40:10 says, God’s faithfulness and deliverance in their life. How did hearing that story affect your own faith?

Next: Spend some time this week reflecting on the Lord’s faithfulness in your life. If you have not previously done so, journal about it. It can be helpful to record those memories. Pray about how those stories may encourage others.

May we speak of the Lord’s faithfulness and believe the Gospel more!

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Holding On To Each Other & Jesus

I have interviewed some incredible women on this podcast and look forward to interviewing more in future episodes. My guest on today’s podcast, however, is my favorite of all time: my husband, Derek.

In this episode, we talk about how faith has played a role in our marriage and how the Lord has been faithful to us throughout our journey together. We discuss how we met, the ups and downs of our married life, and outside supports that help to strengthen our marriage.

As we look back over our journey together, we can clearly see God’s hand moving through circumstances and trials. His goodness and mercy to us has been evident.

Scripture quoted in this podcast: Psalm 23:6

I mentioned a previous episode on today’s podcast: Renewed and Transformed: My Story of Recovery

If something you heard on today’s podcast resonated with you, feel free to comment below, or join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus!

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Puffed Up or Built Up?

As an adoptive mother, I have known for some time that I should have a polite and respectable answer prepared for those inevitable times when I will be publicly asked questions about my son. From the very beginning of the fostering and adoption journey, I knew the questions were destined to come. However, no matter how much preparation I have done for those moments, they always seem to catch me off guard.

Mother and son – hand in hand.

For example, one day last summer I was checking out at the grocery store when one such question arrived. This particular day I happened to be alone, and every mother of multiples knows that a shopping trip without kids is like a mini getaway. So, it caught me off guard when the cashier referenced my adopted son and asked “Where did you get him from?” Now, the first thought I had was: we must be really well known at this grocery store for her to remember my children, even when they’re not with me!

Being caught off guard, my response felt like a fumbling attempt to educate her about foster care and the fact that all adopted African American children do not arrive through international adoption agencies. Honestly, I mostly just tried not to be rude. Afterwards, as I loaded my groceries into my van, I was internally frustrated with myself over my response. I replayed the conversation over and over again in my mind. I felt miffed with people in general for being so ignorant, and more than anything I was relieved that my son had not been present to hear the conversation.

Not long after that event, my husband and I were visiting with his cousin and her husband, who had recently done research on privilege and race. When I shared about my exchange at the grocery store, he offered a wise and unique perspective. He explained that people are fundamentally curious, and that, as a white woman, the cashier would probably never have approached an African American mother to ask a question like that. However, in her curiosity, she felt she could approach me. He said kindly and gently that, rather than being offended, I could view it as a privilege to answer questions that otherwise might never have been asked. Due to our conversation, the cashier had learned something about fostering and adopting she had not known before our interaction.

It’s all about perspective. I feel extraordinarily honored to be my son’s mother. Above all, I want to guard his heart and protect his story. Nonetheless, I am in a unique position to educate others about adoption, particularly about transracial adoption. My family is a living show-and-tell to our community.

On the other hand, I must also humble myself and learn from others. Because as much as I have sometimes been offended by others’ questions, I find myself asking questions too in my attempt to learn all that I need to know. Sometimes I have done this well, and other times I cringe to think about what a fool I’ve made of myself. Learning can be a humbling process.

I can’t change any minds, opinions, or lives through imparting knowledge. I could share all day about adoption, and it would mean absolutely nothing if it were not for love. People care when they see love. People care when they feel loved. I wish that I had shown a little more love that day in the grocery store.

Paul speaks to this very thing when he writes in I Corinthians 8:

We know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.  If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.  But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

I Corinthians 8: 1b – 3 ESV

I love knowledge. I have attended phenomenal adoption conferences and read amazing books. Still, I can admit it: I do not yet know as I ought to know. Not about motherhood. Not about adoption. Not about raising a son who looks different than me. The list goes on and on.

I Corinthians 8:1

My hope is that before I graduate this life, I learn to love first and pass on knowledge second. So, if you happen to see me out and about and have a curiosity question to ask of me regarding my son, I make two requests:

  1. Please make sure my children are not present. I want to protect my son from questions that could bring him unnecessary pain.
  2. Know that if you catch me off guard, there’s just no telling what might pop out of my mouth. (Just being honest.) Still, I hope that as I grow in knowledge and love, my answers will become wiser and more full of grace.

If on the other hand you happen to be on the receiving end, and I have asked you a seemingly awkward question, know that my heart was probably in the right place. I just so want to advocate for my son, and sometimes I can come across as clumsy in my zeal.

Verse 3 of the above Scripture passage is my favorite part: “If anyone loves God, he is known by God.” What a promise! We as humans might miscommunicate, get frustrated, or focus too much on knowledge, but God sees through all of it right to our very souls. He knows us: our motivations, our curiosities, our struggles, and our love. That is an amazing promise in which a tired mama can rest.

Pause: Find a quiet place where you can spend a few moments alone with the Lord. Read I Corinthians 8:1-3 and meditate on what you find there. For more context, read the rest of the chapter as well. What stands out to you in this passage?

Renew: In what areas of your life do you find yourself knowledgeable? Take a moment to honestly evaluate how you share your knowledge with others. Is it with love? If not, pray about how the Lord can help you love others well in this area.

Next: Look for opportunities this week to show grace to curious bystanders in your life. When you feel an eye roll forming, take a moment to observe your internal reaction and shift your paradigm. How can you bring light and love to the interaction while imparting knowledge?

May we view curiosity as an opportunity to build others up in love.

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