living on pb & j

Ordinary moms living on Prayer, the Bible, and Jesus!


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Happiness and Hope for the hurting hearts at Christmas!

The Christmas season is upon us! It is the time many of us wait for all year long!!

I just love this time of the year. I love the sweetness of family time as we come together and take time to observe the birth of our Savior.

I love the moments spent reading the Christmas story together and gathering around the tree as we have the opportunity to give to each other, after God has given us so much.

But the older I get, and the more I miss my daughter (who went to be with Him almost 4 years ago) the more I realize that Christmas isn’t easy for everyone.

As a child, pain and sorrow didn’t seem to exist this time of the year to me, and I took so many loved ones for granted. I didn’t think about how short life was or who might not be at Christmas dinner the following year. There was such an innocence about life and the reality of death to me.

So now as an adult who is missing a loved one or many loved ones, I now know.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle to attend Christmas events, celebrate the season and find the perfect gift for loved ones, it is painful for some.

This Christmas may be your first without a special loved one, and you honestly may not know how you will get through the holidays without them.

When family comes together, it is such a special time, but not everyone will have every member gathered around the table for Christmas dinner this year. That can be very hard.

I had the opportunity to teach my Sunday School girls this past weekend a lesson and the Christmas story. We talked about all the precious things they will get to do over the Christmas holiday, but I reminded them to take time to pray… pray for all the hurting hearts at Christmastime.

Maybe it’s a grandparent, or parent, a child or a best friend that won’t be able to spend an earthly Christmas here with you this year. And I’m truly sorry for who it may be in your life that your missing. That one person that you would love to spend one more Christmas on earth with.. I’m truly sorry.

But I am here to offer you hope!

Shortly after my infant daughter went home to be with the Lord, I truly wondered how I would survive from one day to the next. I felt like my heart was so heavy and it was so painful to just breathe day after day. Yet day after day, the Lord would pick me up and give me the strength and grace to go on.

That first year without her was so very hard. I remember each milestone and each holiday that passed broke my heart. It was a reminder of time moving forward without her. I just wanted her to be there to celebrate each life moment with me.

Time went on and God continued to bless and December had already come. As Christmas approached, my heart was almost in a panic.. How would I get through Christmas without her?

Just one year prior I was 39 weeks pregnant at Christmastime, dreaming of my new baby and the beautiful year ahead that we would have and share together.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the Lords plan for us.

So as Christmas came, my heart sunk. And in my quiet desperation, the Lord spoke to me…

And it spoke volumes!

As I thought about the little girl I loved and missed so much, I thought of His Son, Jesus Christ, the one in whom Christmas is truly about.

I remember tears swelling up in my eyes as I thought about the lowly birth that Jesus had. I thought about the childhood and the perfect life he lived, never sinning. I thought about what a wonderful man he became. And then I thought about the horrible death he had to endure.

Right then and there for the first time, I realized how much that must have hurt the Lord. For they crucified His only Son. His only child was put to death… and for what? For healing the sick? For helping the blind to see? Miracle after miracle our loving Savior preformed, yet they took his life anyway with no just cause.

I thought about my pain and then it didn’t’ seem to even compare.

God, knowing all things knew what my pain felt like.

He knew how much I missed my baby girl. He knew how much I was suffering without her. He knew exactly what I was going through.

And right then and there I felt I could see the Lords heart much clearer than before.

I felt like my heart was in tune with His.

He had a reason for this happening in my life. Month after month, year after year, He reveals it a little more to me. Her little life had MUCH purpose in those two little days she was here. She left quite an imprint on many hearts.

But Oh Jesus… how much HE left an imprint!!!

And then I thought, She’s with HIM!!!

As we celebrated the birth of Christ that, I thought about the birthdays I wouldn’t celebrate with my Maddie Grace and I thought, why should I be sad? She’s with HIM! She’s with Jesus!

She’s in Heaven celebrating Jesus’ birthday with HIm!  I can’t even imagine the joyous time that would be… to be in Heaven with the one that the reason for the Season truly is about!

When I truly thought about how happy my daughter was, my sadness seemed to slip away… the pain diminished through happiness and joy.

That Christmas eve, as we drove to our family dinner, I thought of my daughter with a smile on my face.

And just as I did, I saw the most beautiful pink sunset in the distance. (Pink sunsets are a little reminder for us of our baby girl.)

I could almost feel Madeline and the Lord shining down on me that night. I held her newborn baby brother in my arms and it was like God restored my hope. He gave me so much hope ahead to look forward to.

I do wish she could be here with me each year to celebrate life and love and happiness. But I also know, she is the happiest she could possibly be walking hand in hand with Jesus; The hope of this world.

This Christmas, who are you missing? The pain is here to remind us that we loved much, that is why it hurts.

God wants to comfort you and restore complete happiness and joy to your life.

It isn’t always easy having lost someone so near and dear, but there is a comfort found in God that is not found anywhere else.

He can provide hope like no one else.

He gave us His only Son… Imagine that? He gave.

I don’t think I could have done that.

Yet he gave us His Son Jesus Christ because He loves us.

He knows the pain of loss. He knows it very well. He’s had a broken heart and He knows exactly what that feels like.

God gave us His Son and Jesus gave us His life? Isn’t that amazing?!

The best gift we can receive this time of the year (or anytime!) is accepting Gods Son, Jesus Christ into our hearts and lives.

Do you know Him? (John 3:16)

He will provide strength for the weary.

He will provide help for the hurting hearts.

He will restore happiness to your life that you thought couldn’t return.

I’m living proof of that. =)

So, that Christmas, yes I missed my daughter so very much, but because I know Him, I knew I would see her again! And that alone gave me strength to keep going.

So, this year on her third Christmas and upcoming 4th birthday, I can smile, because I truly have hope I will see her again.

May you find happiness and healing through this Christmas Season as well, no mater what the situation may be. Just know that God loves you and wants the absolute best for your life.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones on earth, and in Heaven!

Much love,

Natalie

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:1


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Comparing Moms

You’ve been there. You click online and scroll through your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. There is your mom-friend, boasting a new ‘do’ and a Starbucks. You can’t remember the last time you had a Starbucks, and your split ends tell you it’s been at least that long since you had a trim.

One friend’s living room just got a face-lift and it looks like it’s out of Pottery Barn. How can she keep that couch so white? She has more kids than you!

Another friend posts pictures of her 6-course gourmet, gluten-free, low-calorie, organic, hand-pressed, home-grown, all-natural, beautiful meal.

Mom-friend #4 is homeschool supermom! She has pictures of lapbooks, timelines, food projects, pet projects, and a house full of smiling, well-learned faces. She seems to start school on time every day, and keep the house neat as a pin.

The next friend just finished making pot-holders for Christmas gifts… mug cozies, a Queen-sized quilt, and oh yes, matching church dresses for her daughters.

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Sometimes being “connected” isn’t so great. When you wake up grumpy, and so do the kids. When you feed the kids chicken nuggets again. When your hair is in a ponytail… again. When the baby woke up before you could read your Bible… again. It can be so frustrating to look at all those supermom-friends and compare yourself. But God’s Word has something to say to us:

“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” II Corinthians 10:12

If we compare ourselves to other moms, we will surely feel like failures. Nobody can be perfect all the time, or even much of the time. What you don’t see is that the day before that beautiful 6-course meal, hot dogs was the feast. Right after all the amazing home school projects, a battle of the wills was waged, and mother and daughter ended up in tears. We all put our best foot forward when it comes to the public eye. But if we use other moms’ “successes” as our pattern, we are being unwise. God and His Word are to be our pattern, our Guide, and our emergency manual.

When there are clear commandments in the Bible, there is no room to wiggle. None! But on many of today’s hot-topic parenting issues… organic, vaccinations, cloth diapers, breastfeeding, preschool, potty-training, etc., there is no right or wrong. Sometimes you just have to do the best you can, and pray for God’s grace and peace. But don’t compare your self! Don’t look around, Dear Mom… look up!

“For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” II Corinthians 10:18

If Jesus says, “You have been a good mom today. You have loved your children, by My grace today,” then you are a success! There is such peace and freedom when you stop looking at all the other moms, and let God be the One who decides if you are a good mom.

<3 Joy


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A Baby for Christmas

I will never forget my first taste of motherhood. 7 years ago, I was just a few weeks away from delivering my first baby. It was Christmas. I had decorated, and gotten my new little boy’s clothes ready. I had packed my hospital bag. Everything was ready!

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I sat in my sparkling-clean, shimmery, glittery, all-decked-out-for-Christmas, pre-children house, and pondered the Christmas story. I had heard it all my life, but somehow in 2007, it had new meaning.

I would sit in my rocking chair with my hand on my tummy, feeling my little boy kick and squirm. And I thought of Mary.

Mary was told that Jesus would be the king, that He would deliver His people. Joseph was told that He would save His people from their sins. But what did they really understand? The Bible doesn’t tell us all that Mary understood.

When baby Jesus was born, the shepherds came straight out of the field to worship her Son. Oh, Mary knew He was special, but they worshiped Him? She pondered all these things. She wondered, and she was amazed!

I wondered, as I felt my little boy inside me, if Mary knew her Son would have to be a sacrifice. I could not imagine being in her sandals. I even thought of God in a whole new light… as a Father. I could not imagine giving up my precious Son, even for good people, let alone murderers, thieves, and those who will never accept the free gift of salvation.

That Christmas, days away from meeting my firstborn son, I drew closer to my precious heavenly Father. What love, that He should give His firstborn, even His “only begotten” Son just for me!

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