Stay Alert

This past weekend I was preparing for Scarlett’s first birthday party.  Saturday morning was the day I would take on cleaning the house from top to bottom.  I got up, did my Bible time, and got straight to work.  I decided to throw in my ear buds and listen to one of my favorite Christian women leaders, Jennie Allen.  It was her preaching about “getting out of your head” from her new book.

As I was vacuuming, I wanted to shout “amen” so many times to what she was saying.  Everything she spoke hit me! It was all about our minds! This negative, victim mindset we carry with us through our days is not serving us, our home, our community, or the world. But I already knew all this, it was not new. But it was like I was hearing it with fresh ears and a stirring was happening in my soul. I was on the verge of tears.

Suddenly the vacuum STOPS.  It’s clogged. “What.in.the.world!? I have so much to do! I don’t have time for this!” I walk down the steps so frustrated and of course my husband and boys were just having a good old time, playing around and I am thinking every “victim” type thought you could think of.

Finally, I get the vacuum unclogged. I tell myself to think positive thoughts. I tell myself how good my husband is and how hard he works and that he should enjoy this downtime. Then I get back to work.  Ear buds in. Push play. Go time.

I finish the upstairs and decide to get on the Walgreen’s app so I can print out Scarlett’s monthly pictures for her birthday frame even though I was just getting started with the cleaning.  But now that Scarlett was down for a nap, I had hoped to do this quickly, finish some laundry, and finish the bathrooms before she wakes up. I open the app, go through a full year of pictures on my phone as quick as I could to find each month’s picture.  I add each one and select my store. Hit enter and the app shuts down. “WHAT THE HECK!?”  I try to keep cool and start all over again, praying the baby stays asleep a little longer than normal.  Grab each months pic, add location, enter.  Shuts down AGAIN!!!!

I let out a “are you friggin’ kidding me!?” My husband asks, “what’s wrong?”  I begin rant, he says “sorry.” I say nothing.  He repeats, “I said sorry.”  With all my frustration I respond, “what do you want me to say? It’s ok? It’s not!”  Insert argument.

The next 4 hours I spent going down a rabbit hole of negative thought after negative thought as I cleaned.  I was frustrated, angry and it seemed like my mind had me in a place that made cleaning take triple the time it usually does because I just couldn’t stay focused.

Has this ever happened to you?

Around 3 o’clock I finally stopped being stubborn and started praying. “God, what is going on?”  Softly and gently He spoke into my heart.  I picked up the phone and texted my husband who was out doing errands for the party and told him how sorry I was.

That morning the Lord was really moving me in an area and the devil saw it. Then he saw a moment of weakness and frustration and he jumped in to devour. He saw it and attacked. He took that opportunity and wanted me to see my husband as the evil one and myself as the victim.  This could start the war the devil was hoping for in our marriage.  1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

But thanks be to God.  I know my true enemy.  It might take me a few hours to remember but I will always remember.

How could I have done things differently?

That day for a few hours, I forgot to pick up the armor of God when Satan attacked.  As soon as that negative self-talk and frustrating grumbling began I should have been alert and recognized exactly what was happening.

Ephesians 6:13-18 “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the LORD’s people.”

We aren’t always going to get it right. But what we can do is work toward it.  And when we realize what is happening, we can thank God for his grace, ask Him and those we hurt for forgiveness and suddenly we will find ourselves settled back into the peace and love of God.  We just must stay alert.

 

Lord,

We know in these days we aren’t fighting against flesh and blood but against the evil of the world.  Help us be alert and ready with your armor of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, your word and prayer!  We know this is the armor we need to fight the battles in this world.  Our enemies are not our husbands, our children, our neighbors or our friends. Our enemy, the devil, prowls around like a lion seeking someone to devour. Help us remember that he is our true enemy and that you have already won victory over him and so can we! Help us discern your voice over his. When we stumble, help us quickly to our feet so that we can shine like the stars for your glory. We ask you this in your precious and most holy name. Amen.

Here is the awesome book I was listening to. Click book cover to purchase.

 

 

Scarlett’s Birth Story

It’s been a year now since Scarlett has been on this earth. So I couldn’t wait another second in reflecting and getting down her birth story.
It was an unprecedented year and nothing I could have ever expected. Things had seemed “normal” even up to the day of her birth and then the next day everything changed.
But let’s start from the beginning….

I was already a c-section mama from Silas but I was hopeful that things could be different this time. As time progressed in the days leading up to Scarlett’s due date, the doctors made me very aware that Scarlett had yet to move down into my pelvis and things didn’t look much different from two years earlier with Silas. That’s when I started YouTubing videos of how to get the baby to move down. You could catch me at any given moment in the living room upside down or on a labor ball then. A week or two later at an appointment they shared with me that there was still no progress and I should start thinking about a c-section. Her due date was March 19th, and I was less then two weeks out from that visit. They said their next available date to schedule was March 17th! “How lucky!?” I thought. “How cool!? St. Patrick’s Day!” So I took the date. They told me to come in one more time that following Monday just to be sure nothing changed. Nothing did. But the doctor also explained that something earlier became available and asked what I thought about having a baby on Friday the 13th? I thought for a moment and said “eh, I’m a Christian, God’s in control not a special date.” So I took it.
I remember someone telling me once that the number 13 in Italy is considered lucky (we are Italian) because it means “hit the jackpot” and then after I scheduled, my dad told me that good things have always happened to him on the 13th in his life.  I think he even said that’s when he got his first girlfriend (lol). The date started to feel really special, like they already had these little stories tied to them. But little did I know it was truly the best decision I could have made. (I’ll get to that in a minute.)
So the night before the surgery, I had my bags packed and knew we had to show up at noon for a 2 o’clock surgery.
But when I woke up that morning, there was a voicemail asking if I’d like to come in at 9 because my doctor had his 11 o’clock cancel. I called my husband when he was on the way to drop our son Jameson off at school and was so excited we could go early. Mostly because I hate not being able to eat lol. But also I couldn’t wait another minute to see my babies face and to find out if these last 9 months I had been carrying a little boy or girl in there! I called my mom and my mother in law immediately. My mother in law came quickly to stay with kids and my mom headed to the hospital.
Neil and I jumped in the car and I remember it felt a bit like deja vu all over again from just doing this trip with Silas 22 months earlier.
We parked and checked in just like last time. Except this time they asked me if I had visited any of the highlighted countries on a map they had on the desk. These were all countries that had been hit with that novel virus we heard about on the news. Of course I hadn’t and it  seemed like something so far off from reality. Something I’d assume I’d never really have to deal with.
My mom arrived on time and shortly after my dad arrived and they even let my dad come back to the prep area. I remember my mom asking the doctor about the new virus and he was saying there was a shortage on supplies already. Still it didn’t phase me much. The doctor told us he ran late but I’d be in the OR by 1:30. I kissed my mom and dad before they headed to the waiting room and gave Neil a quick kiss knowing I’d see him in a few minutes once they had done the spinal.
I laid there just like last time and I remember looking around at everyone’s name tag, still searching for a name for our little one. We had Saylor in mind for a girl and River for a boy, but something about those names still didn’t feel right. And then it hit me… “Scarlett!” I didn’t even know if I was carrying a boy or a girl but the name hit me like a ton of bricks. Neil walked in a few minutes later and I said “Scarlett! I’m laying here and it was like someone yelled her name in my ear.” He laughed and said “let’s wait and see if it’s even a girl, but yes, I love the name.”
The doctor walked in and asked if I felt my legs and sure enough I couldn’t feel a thing. So it was time…time to meet our baby.  There’s no better feeling. I told the doctor that I wanted my husband to be the one to tell me if it’s a boy or girl. And then I asked Neil to take some pictures of them pulling the baby out and they agreed he could.  There was so much pulling and tugging and I remember the doctor saying “this is the longest c-section delivery I’ve ever done.” But I could of cared less. I just kept my eye on the prize, telling myself “it will be over in minutes and you will know your baby soon!”  Not knowing the gender made everything bearable.  They finally pulled the baby out and Neil looked at me with tears in his eyes knowing my desire and said “it’s a girl.”  I said ‘it’s a girl? Oh my gosh it’s a girl! I got my girl.”  She was the loudest crier I’ve ever heard. And she did not stop. Neil said “well she’s got her moms lungs!” And everyone laughed.  They checked her out and Neil was cutting the umbilical cord. The rest of the team was sewing me up and as I lay there with no one around me, tears were streaming down my face and I just kept repeating to myself out loud “I got my girl.” Talk about a moment I’ll never forget.
After they cleaned her up, they laid her on me and all I saw was her beautiful black hair and full lips.  The doctor said “she looks like a little Angelina Jolie.”  I was in heaven. 
A couple hours later they took us to our room and my parents came in to meet our baby girl.  A couple hours later, my in laws came with Silas and Jameson and all the world was right.
Then the next day happened…
We had scheduled a photographer to come that day to take “fresh 48” photos with us and the baby and our other kids. But early that morning a nurse came in and said “we just got word at our meeting that there are no more visitors due to Corona.”  We were shocked! Some of our kids hadn’t even been yet to meet the baby! Minutes later our doctor came in and kept us calm and said “you have until 3 o’clock and you guys are all safe here.” We called my mom who was supposed to bring all the kids and told her “you have to rush here because they are shutting the doors.”  The photographer contacted me and we both agreed that maybe we get pictures the following week until all this calms down.  Oh, were we all so clueless. The good news is that the girls got to meet their baby sister and we got to have a big family visit before it was just us the next two days at the hospital. 
Looking back I feel like God really looked out for us.  Had we stuck to the 17th I may have been in that OR all alone.  But knowing my hope is in God and not a date, he proved to me that my hope is right where it should be.  I’ll tell my little girl that story when she grows up. I’ll tell her this to remind her that “God is in charge of it all.”  Not a lucky date or future you have all planned out. Life doesn’t work that way. God is in complete control of it all.  This is the one promise that has kept me grounded through the most uncertain of times this year. That and the blessings He puts in front of me daily.  And Scarlett Juniper Rohrbaugh, born March 13th at 2:25 PM, weighing 8 pounds and 2 oz. is one of them.
Thank you Lord. You are so good.

Standing Firm is a Life Lived on Your Knees

“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” -Matthew 23:12

God’s kingdom is upside down.  It’s the literal opposite reflection of what the world says.  The world says “be proud” and God’s kingdom says “be humble.” It says “get even” when God says “turn the other cheek.”  Or how about “stand up and fight” when meanwhile God says “humility, meekness and longsuffering” (Colossians 3:12.)  And probably one of the most prevalent for women is that the world says “beauty is what is seen” when God says it’s “the good things we do” that makes us attractive (1 Tim 2:10.)

Standing in the World Instead of Kneeling to the Word

For far too long, I’ve lived my life standing on my own two feet.  In moments I do take to my knees but I never stay there too long.  I don’t trust it enough there.  I don’t trust HIM enough to stay there.  It’s just that I want some control because I don’t have enough faith to believe that God is good all the time. I say it and I know it, but deep down I haven’t completely believed it. I haven’t humbled myself enough to believe that “apart from Him, I can do nothing.” John 15:5

The truth is, when I’m on my own two feet, it takes much less to knock me down. I’m easily offended and easily angered. I am more insecure and unsure because I’m relying all on myself. When I’m standing on my own two feet, things can take me out at the knees. This is not just physically true but spiritually true too.  When I come up with my own grand plan, thought or idea and it doesn’t work or someone says something negative about it, I crawl into a negative place of fear, insecurity and defensiveness.

But when I’m living on my knees and life tries to take me out, it can’t because I’m rooted. I’m in a position of humility, surrender and trust. I am rooted because I’m not depending on “self” anymore.  I’m dependent on God’s foundation of truth and love and wisdom and no longer depending on my own ideas. I depend on His. And when I depend on His ways, I know the outcome is His.  It’s all in His hands, not mine. And that changes everything.  That leads me into a life of ease with peace in my heart. He says “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” in Matthew 11:30.  And it truly is. Yet we often insist on not trusting that.

Bottom Line

God’s upside down kingdom has shown me lately that standing firm in the Christian life is really a life lived kneeling in surrender.  And that humbling myself will lead to being exalted.  I’m done with exalting myself.  I’m done with trusting in myself.  I’ve been taken out at the knees far too many times. I want to live my life in full surrender to the one I am in absolute awe of. He deserves it all.  All of me.  It’s all for His glory.

Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” Psalm 115:1

Prayer

So if this is you too, I invite you to say this prayer with me:

Lord, I’m done fighting this fight of life on my own two feet. I’m done relying on myself for responses and ideas on what life should look like for me.  In my marriage, health, kids, home, and career, I’ve often stood proud fighting the fight alone instead of on my knees asking you how to do it and what you want it to look like. I’m sorry for not humbling myself enough to trust you.  And I am sorry that I haven’t always believed that you are good all the time because if I did I’d always do it your way.  Keep me on my knees.  Humble me.  And enable me to live a life in full surrender to you, trusting you always. I want all the glory to belong to you from here on out.  I know this is your will and you will see it through in me.  Thank you for this. In your amazing, holy, holy, HOLY name I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

 

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