How To Have Peace In Any Situation

Recently, I have been dealing with a situation that shook me to my core. At times, it has left me angry, depressed, overwhelmed, hopeless, resentful, tired, confused-pretty much every negative emotion you can think of. If I am really honest, there were days that I have laid in bed praying for God to take me out of this world, because that would be so much better than dealing with this pain.

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I have already overcome so much in my life that I have faced with strength and faith. I am in no way a perfect person, but I have tried to live with intention and obedience to God. I certainly wouldn’t dare to know more than God, but I had some questions:

Why would you allow this to happen?

Haven’t I been through enough?

Am I being punished?

Do I not deserve to be happy?

Do you not love me?

I wanted God to set me free, one way or another because I very much felt like a prisoner of my circumstances. One night, as I prayed, begging Him to relieve me from this situation, I felt Him say to me, “Life is short, but eternity is forever. Your happiness isn’t the priority. You have all of eternity to be happy. I have a purpose for you. I have a purpose for your pain. I didn’t cause it, but I allowed it because I can use it. I love you, but there are other people I love that I want you to help. This life is short, but eternity is forever.”

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When I woke up the next morning, it was still in the forefront of my mind what God had spoken to me the night before. The first verse I read that morning was Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” God taught me to do just that.

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This life with all of its pain and problems is just a hiccup in comparison with eternity. Revelation 21:4 says, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” And Romans 8:18 says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” I had a decision before me: to either pursue what I think will make me happy, or to obey God and pursue purpose.

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I have chosen to obey God. To not view my circumstances as a trap, but rather as training for what lies ahead of me. The moment I chose the difficult road of obedience, I felt peace. A peace that I had wanted and needed so desperately, more than happiness.

Have you found yourself in the middle of a situation beyond your control? Are you feeling hopeless? Helpless? Trapped? I challenge you to bring it to God. Lay it down before Him and allow Him to show you what He can do in even the most desperate of circumstances. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. “

12 Bible Verses For Advent

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As we enter the season of celebrating the first advent of Jesus Christ, I like to see how God mentioned this promise of the Messiah many times throughout history. It’s important because He has also promised to return, and it serves as a reminder that He does indeed keep His promises. There should be this similar expectation that we are reminded of at Christmas time. Here is a list of verses that speak of the Promised One from the book of Genesis to Luke.

  1. “And I will put emnity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” - Genesis 3:15 (NKJV)

  2. “‘…In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.’” - Genesis 22:18 (NKJV)

  3. “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” - Genesis 49:10

  4. “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, “ - Numbers 24:17

  5. “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear,” - Deuteronomy 18:15

  6. “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” - Isaiah 7:14

  7. “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”- Isaiah 9:6

  8. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” - Micah 5:2

  9. “But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’” - Matthew 1:20-21

  10. “Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’'“ - Luke 1:30-32

  11. “Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’” -Luke 2:10-12

  12. “And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. “ - Matthew 2:11

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What I Read In 2018

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I love books! I love just the smell of books; and I could spend hours just perusing through various books, walking away with a sense of joy just from being there. I usually enjoy a good fictional novel, however this year’s reads and book purchases have been all non-fiction. I am open to a good fictional book recommendation so please comment your favourites below.

Here is a list of some of the books I am exploring this year:

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Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines

I am obsessed with cookbooks! I don’t really know what it is about them (likely the colorful pictures of delicious food). I may be equally obsessed with Joanna Gaines…but who isn’t? Magnolia Table is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also filled with delicious comfort food recipes.

Home Body by Joanna Gaines

Did I mention that I am a huge fan of Joanna Gaines? When I found out that she had written an interior design book, I had to have it! This is a great “How To” book on how to incorporate design elements into every room of your house, filled with visual examples great for us amateur designers.

Awaken by Priscilla Shirer

Awaken is a 90 day daily devotional that encourages you to start each day spending time with God. I really enjoyed this devotional by Priscilla Shirer.

The following books on my list I have not yet read, but I am excited to see what they are all about, especially as I think about heading into the new year.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

This book has been generating so much buzz. I just have to find out what all the fuss is about! I do love the premise “Stop believing the lies about who you are so you can become who you were meant to be.”

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy & Kathy Keller

After reading a few quotes from this book, I’m excited to dig into it. Have you read this book? What did you think?

It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst

Another book with lots of buzz. This year has been a particularly challenging year, so I look forward to reading a book that offers encouragement and perspective.

What’s on your reading list? Do you have any recommendations for me? Please comment below!

My Story, My faith: The Light In The Dark (Ziah's Birth Story)

It was such a hot afternoon as we were walking just a few blocks to the park. I was pulling the wagon loaded with a four and a one year-old and some sand toys. I was working as a nanny for a family in the neighborhood, just a ten minute walk from my home. It might have been that I was feeling the heat a little more because I was six months pregnant. It was my first child, and we had found out five weeks earlier that we would be having a boy. My husband was so excited that he actually bit my hand when the tech told us the news.

As I was walking, I felt a flutter of kicks so uncomfortably low that they stopped me in my tracks. I wasn’t in any pain. It just felt weird. I decided to turn around and take the kids back home. “Sorry, guys, no park today.” I brought them back home and let them play in the backyard. They didn’t seem to mind. Then, I called my doctor’s office to speak to the nurse. I let her know what I was feeling. She asked me a series of questions. “No, I’m not in any pain.” “No, I’m not having contractions.”  “Yes, this is my first pregnancy.” After asking a few more questions she replied, “Well dear, this is your first pregnancy and what you are experiencing is normal. But if you experience bleeding or pain, go to the hospital.”

My husband had flown to Los Angeles for a wedding and was heading back that night. When he came home, I let him know what was happening and what the nurse told me. Neither of us thought that there was anything to worry about.

The next day, I went to work, came home and started to prepare dinner. I was carrying a laundry basket to the basement, and I began to feel those low kicks again. Stronger this time. I went to the bathroom, and I noticed the tiniest bit of bleeding. I immediately phoned my husband who had gone to his Bible study group. “I think I need to go to the hospital.” I told him.

I shut off the oven and laid on the couch, waiting for him to arrive. I wasn’t in any pain, so I still wasn’t worried that there was anything wrong, but we had to be sure. The hospital ride was about a twenty-five minute drive from our home, and the main road was full of potholes. We joked as we bumped along. “Imagine when I am in labour with contractions, driving down this road!”

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We arrived at the hospital, the maternity ward was on the eighth floor. We walked down the hallway to triage, explained the issue and checked in. We were brought to a room, where I undressed and put on a hospital gown. They hooked me up to monitor to measure contractions and the heartbeats of my baby and me. We waited for the on-call doctor to arrive. The whole time my husband was making me laugh with his jokes and playing with various instruments that he should not be touching.

The doctors finally came and began asking me a series of questions regarding my health and any drug use. We were all laughing and joking. They checked the monitor and everything seemed normal. No contractions. Heartbeats look good. “Now we are just going to do a quick internal exam.” Yay. I put my legs up. I noticed that their faces changed from smiling to very serious. “Okay, Sharla. We are going to need you to lay all the way back. You are four centimeters dilated, and your baby’s foot is in your cervix. It is likely you will have him today.”

Wait. This can’t be happening. It’s too soon! I began to cry, and the only words I could get out were, “I need my mom.” It doesn’t matter how old we get, we will always believe that our moms have superpowers to make any situation better. My husband dialed her number, quickly let her know what was happening and then passed me the phone. “Sharla, there isn’t anything you can do. You need to be calm. Give it to God. Pray.” “Okay.” I managed to whimper. It was all I needed to hear.

The next few hours were a bit of a blur. Specialist after specialist entered my room and gave me a report of what to expect should my baby be born that night. At twenty-three weeks and five days, they would not perform any extraordinary measures. Oh, God! Please let my baby stay put! I was given steroid shots in my thighs to help strengthen his lungs, so that maybe he would have a chance. Andrew was given a cot next to my bed. I didn’t get much sleep as the nurse needed to check my vitals every few hours. Also, my bed angled in a way so that my legs were above my head. It was supposed to help keep the baby in, but it also gave me headaches and heartburn.

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Earthquakes and Fireworks

The next morning, we were greeted with the same flood of specialists as they did their rounds. They repeated what we should expect should I deliver that day. Shortly after the doctors left, Andrew and I were just sitting, exhausted from the events of the last fifteen or so hours. “Do you feel that?” I asked him. The vibrations grew stronger. This cannot be happening! “Should I be rolling her into a doorway or something?” I could hear Andrew asking the nurse. After what seemed like forever had passed, the shaking finally stopped. I looked up and whispered, “So not cool.” Then Andrew made a joke, “That was just God shaking the baby back in.”

I believe it was the next day that they decided to move me from labour and delivery to the maternity ward. The baby and I seemed to be holding steady, and they needed to make the room available for any other emergency delivery situations. Each day the doctors came in and gave us the same report. When I reached twenty-four weeks, it was a little different. The neonatologist would also join the rounds and each day give us the statistics of what a child born at this time would have for chances of survival and long-term disabilities. At twenty-four weeks it became our decision if we wanted extraordinary measures taken.

Andrew and I were split on this decision, though I did not give voice to my opinion. I know that he was struggling a lot with what was happening even though he appeared to be holding it together, wanting to be strong for the both of us. I wouldn’t make him feel bad for not wanting to take measures. I know he just didn’t want to cause our baby to suffer. So I just prayed to God to get us to twenty-five weeks, and let the decision be made for us.

I had a plan to celebrate reaching twenty-five weeks. We would celebrate with Chinese food, which I was desperately craving. Hospital food is just “no bueno”. Each day that passed with me lying upside-down, with no need to pull the emergency red cord, watching episode after episode of Gilmore Girls on my laptop, was a day closer to the goal.

I was twenty-four weeks and six days, and the doctors came in to see me. For the first time they were smiling, they seemed hopeful that I could make it to twenty-eight weeks, which for my situation would be ideal. That afternoon, while my husband helped me remove my bed pan(I bet he didn’t know what he was signing up for when he married me), he began yelling, “Pull the cord! Pull the cord!” I hadn’t felt anything, but I obeyed, pulling the ominous red cord from the wall. Suddenly, there was an influx of nurses in my room.

They quickly wheeled me over to Labour and Delivery. I was so close! I was hooked up to monitors, and I was, in fact, in labour and eight centimeters dilated. About an hour later, the contractions felt like little vibrations, still not painful, so I decided that I could totally forgo the epidural. Twenty minutes later, the pain was so unbearable that I was shaking, screaming for drugs. I was nine and a half centimeters when I got an epidural, with contractions less than a minute apart. Then, I was perfectly numb from the chest down.

Three and a half hours later, my son was born. I didn’t get to hold him. They handed him over to what looked like a homeless man. He had long white hair and a beard, and was wearing a Canadian hockey jersey. It was Canada Day. My husband followed the group of NICU staff, as the doctors finished up with me. I only caught a glimpse of his little head full of black hair.


I waited for what seemed like forever, and my husband finally came back with some news. “He cried!” he said. That was a good sign. He showed me pictures, telling me how when they placed him in his incubator by the window, fireworks started going off in the background. We still hadn’t settled on a name. I was really set on Isaiah, but my husband didn’t love it. The next morning when he heard me waking, he said, “What about Ziah? It means ‘the Lord is my strength.’” “Ya, I like it.” The easy part was over, the hard part was just beginning.

A Light In the Darkness

The weeks and months that followed were some of the most trying that I had ever experienced. We rode that emotional roller coaster of being parents of a micro-preemie. There were good days, followed by really bad days. Too many times doctors approached us with “There’s nothing else we can do. We just have to wait and see.” It was after one of these really bad days, that I went home and just collapsed on my bedroom floor crying out to God. I remember asking him, “Are You punishing me?” .  It was in this moment that I first began to feel God’s fatherly love. I remember as I finished that thought, I heard the Spirit say “No, I’m about to show you how much I love you.” There were many occasions during this time where God comforted me, telling me, “It’s going to be okay. Trust Me. I love you. Trust Me.” I did. I allowed His peace to come in and carry me.

We were finally able to bring our son home after six and a half months and five surgeries later. Not before we experienced an outpouring of love on us from around the globe, even from people we didn’t know. From the moment we entered that hospital that day in June, God surrounded us with people who would encourage us along the journey.

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Father God

No parent likes to see their child suffer. We would take on their pain if we could. Nor does God take pleasure in seeing his children suffering. Suffering is a part of living in this fallen world. We cannot escape it. But that doesn’t mean that God can’t use it, and turn our pain into something beautiful. I know that my son’s journey touched many lives, strengthening and even restoring the faith of those who watched miracle after miracle. God used this dark time to make Himself known and more real to me than ever before. Even though I had been a Christian for almost thirty years, I had not known the immeasurable and tender love of my heavenly Father until I let myself be vulnerable enough to fall into my His arms.

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God used the birth of my son to break through some pretty thick walls that I had constructed over the years. For most of my life, I kept God at an arm’s length. I would not give Him an opportunity to disappoint me. I put Him in a similar place as my biological father. A sort of mythical figure that was who I deemed Him to be. The problem with this idea of God is that it didn’t allow me to experience who He is: the Great I AM, Yahweh. He is far greater than I could imagine Him up to be in my limited scope of understanding. That day, when my strength was gone, I finally let Him show me who He is. He did not disappoint. As He showed me who He is, He also showed me who I am: His beloved child. His heart broke for me, as mine did for my son. His strength carried us both.


My Story, My Faith: How To Live In Freedom

If this is your first visit to my blog, this post is the third in a series called “My Story, My Faith” and you may want to start at the beginning by clicking here.

My biological maternal grandmother, thankfully, recorded some history of our family. She created this document to honour my deceased great grandmother. I was able to piece together so much of my ancestry because of this document and to get a glimpse of what it was like to live as an African-American in the South during the post-slavery and pre-Civil Rights era. In it, she included this heartbroken story about my great-great grandfather, Sam Stewart:

Her father Sam Stewart was born in slavery. He was owned by Mr. Harris, sold to him by his former slave owner, Mr. Stewart. He was sold to Mr. Harris when he was about 10 or 11 years of age. The last time he saw his mother was when he was standing on the block to be sold. She was crying and waving goodbye to him. They were living in Virginia at this time. Mr. Harris brought him to Georgia. He was brought up by the Harris plantation. Mr. Harris made him overseer of other slaves. He was the whipping boss. After the slaves were freed, he went back to Virginia looking for his parents. There, he found two cousins who told him his parents were dead and took him to where they were buried. He returned to Georgia. He chose not to be called Sam Harris and went back into his parents’ name, the name of Stewart.

I can’t imagine what it would have been like in those days, to stand by and watch my children be sold and taken far away. What does slavery do to one’s sense of identity? African American slaves were often separated from parents and children, took the name of their owners, not allowed to marry, and endured unimaginable treatment and abuse.  They were property to be bought, sold, and used.

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The Slave Mindset

I imagine that life must have been very difficult for those newly freed slaves. They may have been freed from slavery, but escaping the slave mindset, I expect that took a bit longer. Imagine being stolen away, given a new name, and having everything that you have ever known to be true about who you are being forced out of you through abuse, shame, and lies. It is these assaults on your mind that can keep you a prisoner long after you are physically freed. Knowing who you are can allow you to live in the freedom and claim the promises that you have been given.

Consider the story of the Hebrews in the book of Exodus. God freed them from the bondage of Egypt. It was only a 10 day journey to the Promised Land but they stayed in limbo between slavery and freedom for forty years! In fact, of the adults who came out of Egypt, only two of them actually moved into the freedom and the promise that God provided for them. The rest stayed stuck in the wilderness because they didn’t know who they were, a chosen people, called out by God to enter the land that had been promised to their forefathers. They knew their history. It had been passed down from generation to generation, yet they had lost their identity as God’s chosen people. Though they were physically free, they died as slaves in the wilderness.

Our Freedom In Christ

When Jesus saves us, He offers us freedom from sin. Not just from sin, but from shame, from the pain of our past, from the emotional and mental prisons, from damage done to us by our parents and peers, from failures, from hangups, from habits, from fears, from bitterness, from anger, from everything and anything that keeps us from living a life full of joy and peace.  Yet many of us still live with that slave mindset. We are comfortably uncomfortable in our bondage.

Living in the freedom God has for us may mean facing giants, and marching around walls, and standing in the midst of our enemies. We have fear because we can only see our inability, everything that we are not, instead of seeing God, the great I AM. Our position in Christ gives us access to the God of the universe, the one who placed each and every star in the sky, who formed the earth with His hands. Even in the midst of our greatest fears, this same God is with each of us.

Be Confident

Facing our fears alone would be absolutely terrifying. But we, as children of the living God, are never alone. Ever. I love Psalm 118:6, “The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?” If we can really understand not just what God has saved us from, but what He has saved us to, there would be no stopping us!

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It is the same confidence that gave Joshua and Caleb peace about entering the Promised Land, while the ten other spies trembled in fear. It is with this same confidence that young David, armed with only a slingshot and five stones, went out to face Goliath. It is with this same confidence that the Apostle Paul spread the gospel around all of Europe, primarily from prison.

Once we find our confidence in our position that, in Christ, we belong to God, our life changes. Through Jesus Christ, we went from death to life, from imprisoned to freed, from slave to child. We are His. Embrace your life of freedom. Claim His promises. You are no longer a slave! Not only are you free, you have been elevated to a prominent position. A child of God. An heir to the riches that are in Him.

What lies from your past are you believing? You are not who others say you are. You are not what you have done. You are not what was done to you. You are who God says you are: freed, forgiven, wonderfully made, and dearly loved.

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