“A Daughters Touch”

Picture taken by Annie’s daughter. As Annie was scrolling through pictures to find the perfect one for the post this picture stood out. Everyday Annie watches her daughter play with her babies. Everyday Annie is grateful for her healing encounter that happened as she was caring for and expecting her babies. It just so happened that her daughter had laid her babies out in the exact order of Annie’s kids and took a picture of it. 🙂
Audio Version of “A Daughter’s Touch” by Annie Becker

Coping Mechanisms, we’ve all got ‘em. Our desire to control something uncomfortable, it’s human. One of my favorite authors calls the things that give us pleasure, whiz-bangs. The risky thing is that the whiz-bang often leads to us seeking the created rather than the Creator. 

As a child, I had anxiety. I didn’t know it then, but now see a well-worn way that was traveled. As a little girl, I began a terrible habit of eating the extra food at meals so that nobody would “get too big”. That sounds childish to even say it that way and in some ways I’m still uncomfortable saying the words that I really felt. I feared health issues for my family and took it into my own hands to do what I could to prevent them. 

I developed weight issues, which then led to shame issues, which then led to identity issues. For nearly 20 years, I struggled with a clinical Eating Disorder – waffling between Anorexia and Bulimia. Sadly, it’s origin was a deep need to protect my loved ones. Eating was my whiz-bang. Eating served two purposes, it “protected” and it gave me pleasure – because eating is fun, right? God designed it to give us pleasure, to give us a whiz-bang — but to not be the end goal. 

I struggled throughout my life, but am going to focus on my adult life in this post. During those years, I battled the comings and goings of an addiction – one that never left my side even when I was standing on the mountain tops – marriage, graduating college, moving for first professional jobs, but mostly, babies, babies, babies being born. Pregnancy has long been used as a metaphor from God in my life (and in the Bible). Seasons coming and going, Hope bursting forth, and recognizing my limitations as one designed to be dependent. 

After my third baby was born, (my sweet Bear) I took a very challenging path. I say took because for the majority of my life I believed that I was at the mercy of the ebbs and flows of the disorder.  (This is not the case today). I began drinking to try and control hunger and numb myself to the underlying identity issues that hadn’t been addressed in my life. I found myself struggling with multiple whiz-bangs. 

What began as a means to control my fear as a child was now controlling me and creating fear as an adult.. 

One evening I surrendered, this was something I had done before but there was something more humbling about it this time, a desperation. I recognized my lack of control which was the one thing I was seeking to find. This marked the last night for 9 whole months that I even remotely struggled with temptation, controlling thoughts, or the manipulative behavior I’d previously enforced upon myself. I began to walk in freedom. I began to allow myself goodness in the form of community, rest, and nourishment. I wasn’t afraid. 

For 9 entire months, I never once considered my old ways. It was a supernatural healing. 

Super. Natural. 

To help you understand the depth of this healing, I hadn’t ever gone longer than one month free of these issues for the 20 years prior, and those times consisted of white knuckles. 

But God wasn’t done. No, He didn’t heal me for the sake of healing me. He then helped me to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit within me. It was a voice that I had long heard but hadn’t trusted because I thought it was unsafe because it sounded so good to me. That sounds funny right? 

The Spirit communicated with me uniquely, like He does all of us. It fit my shape, my personality, and my heart. It felt unsafe because I thought the Spirit would only correct me and I had long felt shame and couldn’t bear any more. (This was a misbelief that He also healed during this time). But instead, He led me down paths of delight. He showed me how He could take what was once used for evil and use it for Good! He showed me that He really does make a table in the place of my enemies (Psalm 23:5). The old places the enemy used as a playground, God now reigned over! To give you an example, exercising. Running had been used as a form of manipulation for years and was finally used as a way to grow stronger and care for my body. BUT, it didn’t stop there, God also used it as a direct opportunity for me to connect to Him, but mostly to hear His voice! I began to run so that I could talk and hear and connect with His Spirit within me.

What once was darkness now brought me into  Light. 

After this pregnant pause (the 9 months of freedom), I was eager for New Life. My husband, Matt and I had dreams for our future and looked forward to the Fall season that was before us. There was all this space that we were going to frolic in, spaces that were once consumed by the darkness that the eating disorder (and associated behaviors) controlled. The behaviors were actually the most consuming aspect of the disorder. The highs and lows of moods, the time it consumed, the lack of community it allowed. 

We were finally free!

And then, we found out we were expecting. 

This was not part of our plan. At all. Yes, we know how children happen. 

The season we had just experienced (and were currently leaving) was a full 9 months. This is the time frame of a full term healthy pregnancy. What comes at the end of a pregnancy? 

New Life!

God gave us New Life in the form of a precious baby boy, born to a virgin mother.

He also was giving Matt and me a precious baby boy in another 9 months. Another pregnancy. Another opportunity to trust and depend. Another New Life.

We named our sweet boy Caleb Josiah, meaning the Lord is Faithful (born of a leader of the Isrealites sent by Moses to scout out the Promised Land. He and Joshua were the only to enter in because of their faithfulness). Josiah, because – the Lord Heals!

The Lord heals! He healed in the Bible and He still heals today! In Luke 8, the daughter who bleed for a dozen years was healed by her great faith. 

Consider for a moment what this woman must have experienced for those 12 years. 

Her loneliness and shame. Did she feel loved? Her inability to connect to others (whether because of self-imposed reasons or those imposed upon her). 

She was essentially quarantined! (We can all relate to that to some degree, right?)

She reached out and touched Jesus. 

He knew. 

He felt power leave His body and flow into hers.

The woman realized she was no longer able to stay hidden. 

She trembled, fell to her knees at his feet. 

She poured out her heart, the depth of her pain. The desperation. 

He tells her:

“Go! Your faith has made you well, my dear daughter. “

God supernaturally healed me so that I could be well – but also so that I could hear His voice within me. He healed me so that I could be the daughter He created. He healed me so that I could be the mother that He designed. And the wife my husband was designed to have. 

The list goes on. He healed me but not for me, but I still received blessing upon blessing through that healing – even today, two years later. 

Reach out! Touch Him! 

Dear Daughter, you are worth the stop too.

Written and Recorded by Annie Becker

Week 5: Daughter of Faith #worththestop

Audio Version of “Week 5:Daughter of Faith #worththestop” by Mattie Book

Healing comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes we are healed from sickness and other times we are healed from a bad relationship. Sometimes we are healed from past trauma and other times we are healed from stubbing our toe. Healing happens all the time and it happens differently for everyone. We all need different areas in our life healed. One of my favorite healing stories in the Bible is found in Luke 8 verses 43-48. It’s the story about a woman who was desperate for healing.

She had been bleeding for twelve years and nobody could heal her. She was likely living a very lonely life as she was someone that could not be touched. I can’t even imagine the weariness and the seclusion she felt. She must have felt so unworthy, so broken, and so embarrassed.

When we enter into her story we enter into a crowd. A crowd of people that were gathered around Jesus. This woman probably had so many people she had to push through to get to Him. She was determined to get to Him and she didn’t let anyone stop her. I imagine her pushing through the crowd with a focus and a drive that fueled her to His presence. She knew where to put her hope for healing and she found a way to His cloak. In the unworthiness and agony of her health condition, Jesus was worth her stop!

When she reached Him, she touched His cloak and her bleeding stopped. Jesus felt the power leave Him and He wanted to know whom it was that touched Him. He didn’t just keep walking. Nope, He wanted to know the woman that touched Him. The woman that pursued Him with such focus and desperation was worth His stop.

We see this woman fall at His feet and then get up to proclaim her story. Luke 8: 47-48NIV states, “In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” When I read these verses God shared with me some truth to reflect on. He said, “she proclaimed her story to the presence of ALL the people, not just a couple. And when she told it, she started with “why she had touched Him,” she had to share her story of suffering for others to see His goodness and power. She had to share her brokenness first before she could share His faithfulness.” Sometimes I think we try to tell others about Jesus, but we forget to tell them our personal story with Him. We tell other people to follow Him, but we forget to tell them why we made that decision. We jump into telling others that He is a healer, but we don’t share the times we’ve experienced His healing touch. God was reminding me that my story (the good the bad and ugly) matters. Sometimes our stories are what invite others into Him. God continued to shine light beams of truth into verse 48. He told me, “She was called daughter. Her bleeding wasn’t the only thing healed. Her identity was healed. Her future was healed. Her reputation was healed. Instead of being known as the woman that continued to bleed, she was known as the woman with a faith so strong in Jesus that it led to her healing.” Her identity was worth the stop. Jesus healed her body, but He also healed so much more.

This past week has been a whirlwind for me. As I have been mentally preparing to write this all week, I found myself in a desperate place for healing. My COVID-19 results still aren’t back yet, and an ear infection began on Wednesday that quickly became intense. My doctor called me in an antibiotic to treat the ear infection. Thursday my right ear was completely swollen shut and the infection was compressed against my eardrum. My doctor knew I needed to see an ENT, but without having my COVID-19 results available, he told me it would be unlikely that an ENT would see me. I was sent home with pain medications but woke up on early on Friday morning in pain so excruciating that the pain medications weren’t even taking the edge off. My fever was high, and it was obvious that three days of antibiotics weren’t healing this infection. I went to the emergency room. They told my husband he couldn’t come back with me to my room because they didn’t have my COVID-19 results yet. I was given a liter of fluid, blood work was taken, and I was sent to CT for a scan. The ER doctor told me that no abscess was found, however, monitoring this infection was very important. He told me that my ear infection could be bacterial or viral, and they have the potential to spread to the back of the head into the cranial nerves and the bones surrounding the ear. Immediately, I was filled with fear that the COVID-19 was the cause of this infection and it had the potential to spread and worsen without a cure in sight. The doctor reassured me though that as of this point there were no known cases of this happening and he was hopeful that inserting an ear wick into my ear and increasing my antibiotic dosage for both my oral medication and my drops would kill this infection. He told me that if it didn’t get better in the next 24 hours I would need to come back in.

In the last two weeks, I have watched way too much news and read way to many stories of people dying from COVID-19. I’ve become so consumed with this virus that hearing the doctor say this could be a viral infection put me into a panic attack. As I got home from the hospital I knew I needed to dwell with God for a little while. I told Him I was so scared about this being a viral infection that would spread. I was begging for Him to heal my infection. I needed His hands to cover my ears and take away the infection within them. As I was begging for this, He said, “first I want to deal with this deeper fear.” As this was put on my heart I knew exactly what the deeper fear was, it’s the fear that I could die from this. I know that sometimes healing the body is God’s will, yet other times it isn’t. Being surrendered to God’s will is trusting Him even when the healing doesn’t come the way or at the time you need it to. I was afraid of dying. I wasn’t afraid of not making it to Heaven I was just afraid of leaving my husband and my daughters. I want to see them grow and I want to live a long life with Zachary. I didn’t have a crowd to push through to get to Jesus like the woman in Luke 8, I just had crowded thoughts and a lot of anxiety from the noisy news I had been glued to the last couple of weeks. As I was honest with God in telling Him my fear of leaving my girls and my husband, He said, “she laughs at the days to come.” And then He said it again, and then again. He needed me to hear it, and every time I heard it, it just got louder. My ears that couldn’t hear anything from anyone else were able to hear Him. This statement of truth, “she laughs at the days to come,” from Proverbs 31 shouted into my soul. I believe God was telling me to be bold. He needs me to laugh at the days to come, not fear them. His statement of truth healed my fear of dying. I felt empowered. When I was asking for healing for my ears, He wanted to heal my fears too. Our God is a healer.

I’m excited to say that my pain is subsiding tremendously. I am hopeful that the antibiotics are working. God guided the medical staff at the hospital to care for me well and then healed the fears surrounding me. I’m His daughter. You are His daughter, and the woman in need of healing in Luke 8 was also His daughter. Whatever you face in life that needs healing, run to Jesus. Charge to Him through the crowds of whatever is between you and Him. Focus on Him and you will get to cloak. Receive the healing you ran to Him for and then proclaim your story of encountering Him to ALL. Never forget that no matter what you seek healing from, you aren’t defined by the brokenness, you are defined by Him and He calls you Daughter! You, your body, your soul, and your mind are worth the stop! Jesus is stoping for you and His hands want to heal you! Let’s be healed and let’s laugh at the days to come. Let’s be daughters clothed with strength and dignity and let’s invite others to be healed by sharing our stories where we encountered the healing hands of Jesus.

This is the last week for Worth the Stop. It has been so fun to dive into the five stories in scripture that God asked me to write about and invite others to write about as well. I just want to say thank you to the amazing writers that have joined me in this series and all of the amazing readers that make this blog worth the stop. I am so encouraged and inspired by the feedback and beautiful comments I receive from so many. Writing is such a gift and I love using it to share God’s faithfulness and goodness with others. May you live like Eve proclaiming that even in consequences your Heavenly Father helps you, may you pray fiercely like Hannah with confidence that your Heavenly Father is one that delivers, may you never forget that just like Gomer you were bought with a price and your Heavenly Father doesn’t just stop for you once He stops for you over and over, may you dwell with God like Elizabeth in her seclusion claiming God’s faithfulness but also dwell well with your sisters like she does with her relative Mary, and may you receive healing like the woman in Luke 8 and share your story to proclaim His glory and live in the identity that you are His daughter and you are worth the stop!

Worth the Stop,

As Long As We Both Show Up

Audio Version of “As Long As We Both Show Up” by Tabitha Wheat

To my friend who feels like they need to be perfect for us to hang out…

Don’t worry about putting make-up on; I will not have any on. Don’t put on real clothes; I will be wearing sweatpants. I don’t want you to do your dishes before I get there; we can ignore them together. I don’t want you to get all your laundry done; I have piles of it at home myself. I don’t want you to feel like you need to do your hair all cute; mine will be in a ponytail. I don’t want you to be embarrassed about your kids running around being crazy; mine will probably be leading the charge. I don’t want you to make anything special to eat; we can order pizza. I don’t want you to clean up your house; we can pick it up together. Your kids don’t have to have on matching clothes; my socks probably will not match. I don’t want you to feel any pressure with me coming to your house. And if you feel it’s too much for me to come to your house then please come to mine. I will have laundry in the corner that was never folded. I will have dishes piled high that I just haven’t gotten to yet. There are toys laying everywhere because my kids are just as bad as me at keeping things picked up. But I want you to come with no strings attached. I want you to be able to relax with me. I don’t want you to feel like you need to be superwoman or have it all figured out. We can both be real and be ourselves. I don’t want you to think you have to have it all together, because I certainly don’t. I want us to talk together, vent together, laugh together, cry together and do life together. I never want you to feel like you have to put on a show with me. Let’s always be honest, but never judge. Let’s make a pact to never have to be perfect with each other as long as we both show up.

I wasn’t always this way. When I gave birth to my twins seven years ago, that meant I had four kids, the oldest being only 3 1⁄2 years old. While I had lots of help it still felt like I was keeping myself in seclusion. I rarely went out; it would have been really difficult to do with 4 small children, two of them being infants. I didn’t invite anyone over because my house was always a mess and I didn’t have the energy to pick it up. As is true of most mothers with young children, I was never alone but I continuously wondered why I was so lonely. I saw my friends at church and, as most of us were young mothers, we would tell stories about how crazy our lives were as we cared for children and tried to keep our homes in order. But at the time I never realized how much I was just craving other peoples’ company. No offense to my husband, who tried to help as much as he could. But let’s be honest, guys process things differently and it can be hard for them to understand the emotional toll that non-stop child-raising combined with the lack of any type of social life can take on a woman. I wanted to talk and socialize with my girlfriends, but by the time I spent my whole day chasing kids, feeding kids, playing with kids, and then tucking them into bed at night, I was so utterly exhausted that sometimes it was hard to make it to my own bed and I would just crash on the couch. I didn’t have enough energy to get into the shower, let alone have adult conversations that required thought. I felt like no one knew what I was going through.

About two years after my twins were born, my best friend and I were talking one day after church. We rarely had time to catch up these days, and I mentioned how much I missed adult conversation. We began to realize how much we were both struggling with the same things and just never told each other. We made a plan and started getting together once a week. We had a “come as you are” policy. My house was not spotless. I wasn’t dressed up. But we’d drink coffee and talk while our kids would run around like crazy little people, playing and laughing. We would make them lunch and do the chaos of meal times together. When the littlest ones began to melt down and we knew nap time was upon us, we’d say our goodbyes. After my friend left, I always felt so refreshed that I had been able to talk and laugh and share life with someone. Someone who was going through the exact same thing that I was going through. Someone who felt the same way I felt. It helped both of us in so many ways. I started to feel like myself again. I finally started to come out of the mommy haze that I had been in for almost two years.

23 ​When his time of service was completed, he returned home. ​24 ​After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. ​25 ​“The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

Luke 1:23-25

39 ​At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, ​40 ​where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. ​41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:39-41

There is so much in these versus that we could talk about. But when I was reading the one thing that keept coming back to my mind was that Elizabeth was in seclution for five months. Then when Mary found out about herself and Elizabeth she hurried to go to Elizabeth. She hurried is what my text says. She wanted to be with her so badly she hurried to her side. I don’t know if Elizabeth and Mary really knew each other before Mary showed up on Elizabeth’s doorstep. I would think that they didn’t know each other very well because Elizabeth was “very old” and perhaps that meant they were in different social circles. But If Elizabeth had been in seclusion for 5 months, I would think she was lonely. I’m not sure if the medical professionals at that time would have told her she needed to be on bed rest. I don’t know if she was just being cautious. But it says that she was in seclusion when Mary came to see her and then spent 3 months with her. I don’t know for sure but I would think having someone else there with her, in her home each day, would have been a wonderful comfort to Elizabeth. She finally had another woman to share life with, to share the ups and downs of pregnancy with. To share fears and joys, household chores and meal preparations. While she remained in seclusion, she was no longer alone.

Friends, we are not made to live alone. I believe God made us with the desire for community in our hearts. He designed us to want to be with others, to share life with other human beings. Yes, even the introverts among us. And I think this all comes back to God wanting intimacy with us. He created us to depend on Him, to come to him daily with our struggles and triumphs, with our sorrows and gladness. He wants to be the one we rely on in all things. If you are feeling alone, I want to encourage you to seek God. He’s here already, waiting for you. The best part? You can come as you are! There’s no need to have it all put together. God accepts us at our best and at our worst. We need only to show up. And let us seek out friendships with people who will lift you up and come alongside you in this journey we call life. We are made for one another. And if you feel like you are doing well in this department, please look for those who might not be. There may be some very lonely people on the edges of your circles, struggling to feel connected to others. Make it a point to check in with them. Let’s be for others the friend we needed when we’ve felt our loneliest. Because for me, it made all the difference in the world.

I wonder if Mary thought to herself, “If anyone is going to understand what I’m going through right now it’s Elizabeth. I’m going to hurry and spend time with her.” I wonder if Elizabeth not only was excited because she knew Mary was carrying God’s son, but was also excited because after all this time in seclusion she was going to have someone there with her. Someone to talk to, someone to spend time with and someone to share in this amazing miracle that God had given to both of them. Maybe not, maybe she was only excited about the son of the living God growing in her relative. But maybe, just maybe, she had the same questions and worries as the rest of us moms. Maybe they had lists of everything they wanted to ask other moms. Or maybe they just sat with God and each other for three months, but at least they did it together.

Written and Recorded by Tabitha Wheat

Week 4: Elizabeth #worththestop

Audio Version of “Week 4: Elizabeth #worththestop” by Mattie Book (Please show me grace as I am sick as I record this! )

God’s plans always amaze me. He plans things with such intention. As I was planning this series, week four was the only week that I was unsure about. Originally I was so sure that He wanted me to write about Mary and Martha, but then the names Elizabeth and Mary started to stir in my heart. He kept telling me, ” when you get to week four you will know.” I spent a lot of time diving into the story of Mary and Martha in my book that is supposed to hit shelves later this year so I decided to adventure into the story of Elizabeth. God was right, He is always right. At such a time as this, I am certain God wants me to share the story of Elizabeth and Mary, and how dwelling with Him and dwelling with others is always worth the stop.

I would also like to share some personal information. As I write this it is Saturday. I have been sick all week with a stomach virus. On Friday the stomach bug symptoms were gone, but I woke up with a sore throat. As the day progressed I developed a fever and a minor cough. My doctor sent me to get tested for the COVID-19 on Friday evening. I woke today feeling even worst. I have asked God what to do as I didn’t want to delay this post and He put this verse on my heart. “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”- 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. I may be weak as I write this, but He is not. I pray this finds you well and encourages you!

Okay so let’s talk about Elizabeth. Why am I so sure that it was God’s plan for Elizabeth’s story to be week four in this series of “Worth the Stop?” Because as we dive into the story of Elizabeth we see that she was a woman that was secluded, and right now all over the world we are dealing with seclusion as we stay inside to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Of course, our reasonings for seclusion are much different from Elizabeth’s, but I think many of us can agree we know what it’s like to feel a little isolated.

Luke 1:24-25NIV states – “After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” 

Elizabeth’s pregnancy story wasn’t the norm. An angel, Gabriel, visited her husband to inform him that Elizabeth would become pregnant and he was to name the baby John. Her husband questioned this as I’m sure it was all very hard to understand, but because he questioned and slightly doubted the angel, he lost his ability to speak. He came home and Elizabeth found herself pregnant in old age, without a husband to talk to. She was secluded in a time I’m sure she had looked forward to her whole life. A time that she had prayed for year after year, arrived at time she must have least expected, and she had no one to share it with except the Lord.

What I love so much about the verse I shared about Elizabeth in seclusion, is that even though she was in seclusion, she was claiming God’s faithfulness. She may have been dwelling in seclusion at such an unknown time, but that didn’t keep her from praising God. She overlooked the fact that she was secluded and she claimed what was true. She claimed God’s favor even in a situation that was against the norm. In a situation that was unexpected yet full of excitement and wonder, Elizabeth was quiet with the world but loud with God. She didn’t have to proclaim His greatness from a stage, it was enough for her to do it in the confinement of her house. As I studied this beautiful truth God spoke to my heart and said, “wherever you find yourself, praise me. Whether it’s in a situation you planned or one you found yourself in, praise me. Whether it’s on a stage, or at home in a quarantine, praise me.”

As Elizabeth’s story continues in Luke you will see that when she is in her sixth month of pregnancy, God sends Gabriel to talk with Mary. As he informs Mary that she is going to become pregnant and have a child by the Holy Spirit, he also tells Mary about Elizabeth. I believe that as God instructed Gabriel to share this news with Mary, He also was intentional about mentioning the miraculous pregnancy of Mary’s relative Elizabeth. I think it was always in God’s plan to bring these two women together at such an incredible time.

Mary had just been visited by Gabriel and told the news that I’m sure was hard to comprehend. She was chosen to be the mother of God’s son. She was a virgin and I’m sure none of this plan made much sense to her. Not to mention I’m sure she fought fear as to what could have happened to her if anyone found out she was pregnant before marriage. Mary could have done a million different things at this time, but she remembered the news Gabriel shared about her relative Elizabeth and she left to greet her.

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”-Luke 1: 39-45NIV

What an exciting time that must have been for both Elizabeth and Mary. Elizabeth who was secluded now has company. Another woman to share the excitement and the joy of the unknown days ahead. I love verses 39-45 because you see Elizabeth who was dwelling with God in seclusion, is now dwelling with Mary. What does that look like? There isn’t a comparison or competition. The women aren’t sitting angrily complaining about the unknowns. Elizabeth isn’t a woman who only dwells with the Holy Spirit in seclusion, she surrenders herself to be filled with the Holy Spirit as she’s talking to Mary. And what a gift this is for Mary. Both of their journeys were filled with unknowns and both of their journeys were not the norm. Yet, they welcomed the Holy Spirit into their space and were encouraged. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months. I believe God created us for relationships. Although there is a time for seclusion, I also believe there is a time for fellowship. He knew that Elizabeth and Mary had hearts full of secrets to share, so He gave them the opportunity to share them together. I can imagine God smiling from Heaven as He watched these two women chosen for different journeys, spend three months together. Their journeys were just beginning yet they already had so much to share, and I have to believe that when God sent Gabriel to Mary it was also a plan to send Mary to Elizabeth.

Another point I’d like to make is that both women have a verse linked to them citing “favor”. Elizabeth in her pregnancy states she is favored by the Lord and Mary was informed by Gabriel that she was found to have favor with God. I paused on these verses for a second. It was worth the stop. Both women had different journeys ahead. Elizabeth’s son would make the way for Mary’s son. Many unknowns surrounded them, yet we know they were favored by God. Elizabeth and Mary were chosen, loved, and favored by God, yet in time both would have sons that were killed. I’m not sure if Elizabeth was there when her son’s head was caught off, but I know that Mary was there when her son was nailed to the cross. What God spoke my heart as I reflected on this was so life-changing, He said, “Mattie, being favored doesn’t eliminate pain. My favor doesn’t eliminate trials. My favor covers you in the pain and my favor makes you victorious in the trials.” See sometimes I think when we are going through hard times we question if God has turned His back on us, but what if instead we claim that no matter the unknown no matter the pain, our God favors us. He loves us, and His back isn’t turned against us, but rather He’s got our back. He’s in the trial, He’s ready to receive your pain as you receive purpose in it. God’s favor on you means victory in the battles ahead, it doesn’t mean a lack of battles. Mary’s heart broke as she watched her son die on that cross. There was pain, but oh was there purpose, and three days later as Jesus slayed the grave, there was victory!

We are all feeling a little secluded right now. In some homes, it’s become a Holy rest of reconnecting with God and re-centering our families. In other homes it’s not so great, panic and fear are consuming many moments. Some homes are going hungry and others are being fed well because they are healthcare workers who are risking their lives to be on the frontlines of this pandemic. This is a trial that we are all facing together. As I wait for my results though, I am going to praise Him. Another day secluded is another day being united with the Holy Spirit. It’s another day of praise. I know that soon, this too shall pass and we will be reunited with our sisters. Oh, what a victorious day that will be!!! It may take a few days, but it’s on the way. And when it gets here, we are going to enter into places of such a strong connection. Places where we share the moments of the past couple of months. My prayer is that in those moments the Holy Spirit will be welcome encouragement and truth will flood the spaces!

As always, I pray this meets you where you are and encourages you! God loves His daughters and I know sisterhood is important to His heart. He created us to love others well. Praying for strong connections in secluding times like these. Connections that are much stronger than quarantines!

Rest Well Everyone,

“Are We Out of the Woods Yet?”

Audio Version of “Are We Out of the Woods Yet?” by Allison Laidig

And I remember thinking…
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods?
Are we in the clear yet?
Are we in the clear yet?
Are we in the clear yet?
In the clear yet?
Good.  

Have you ever been lost in the middle of the trees, spinning in circles, wondering, “How will I ever find my way out of here?” I actually can’t say that I have, but I can imagine the panic I would feel because I HAVE been lost in Walmart as a child, and I remember the terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, screaming inside my mind, “I’ll never find my mom! Where did she go?! Why did I think it’d be fun to hide in this rack of clothes?!”

Sometimes hiding from people or even from God sounds like fun. Sometimes we go on an adventure and realize we aren’t where we thought we’d end up. This is such a great metaphor for life – for marriage, parenting, careers, friendships – anything!

Let me tell you a little about a marriage in the Bible that seemed a little lost, but was really right where God wanted it to be. Gomer and Hosea – it was love at first sight…. or was it?!

Here’s a snapshot. There’s so much going on in this book, but I just want to focus in on Gomer for today. In Hosea 1, God told Hosea to marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her. He marries Gomer, and she conceives three children (2 boys and a girl). God tells Hosea to name them some pretty sad names. He’s doing this to compare them to the people of Israel who have turned their backs on Him. Gomer may have even conceived these children with someone other than Hosea. I don’t know.

What I do know is that Gomer is worth the stop in God’s eyes. He wants her to see the love that He has placed in front of her with Hosea, and He wants us to see the love He has for his people. Ultimately, we have to make the choice. 

In Hosea 3, God shows how Gomer is still worth loving. I’m sure he felt like he was lost in the woods in his marriage. Can you imagine being married to a promiscuous woman and feeling the hurt of her choices over and over? Oh, the pain!! As this is a parallel to God’s love for His people, I think of the hurt He must feel for us when we continually run to other things over loving Him, the one who chose us in the beginning!

So, after all of this, he tells Hosea, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” (Are the sacred raisin cakes really worth it, people!??!)

Hosea loved Gomer so much, even after such hurt and betrayal, that he bought her back out of slavery or being a mistress. Even through the hurt, he also chose to obey God above that pain. Are you willing to do this? It sounds impossible.

But you guys! We are worth even more than that to our God! He will do whatever it takes to get us back. He’s always pursuing us, and Jesus paid the price for us to come back home to Him. This wows me over and over again.

Are we out of the woods yet? Let’s get in the clear. We don’t need to hide from the ones who love us. We don’t need to hide from the ONE who loves us either. After Hosea bought Gomer back, he set up some boundaries and guidelines for their marriage. I find this truly beautiful because we need people in our lives to help us take steps forward continually. Most times, boundaries are needed in those situations.

Life in the fast lane is all fun and games until you spin out of control and there is no guardrail to keep you from crashing and smashing into those in the other lane or flying off a cliff while driving on those crazy, swervy mountain roads out west. Looking back, I’ve actually been a person who hid a lot of things. A little white lie here or there. A hidden bad choice here or there. It added up to some more serious hiding as I grew up. I think about my life in my twenties and how I was hiding parts of my life from others and from God. It could’ve continued going down a path like Gomer’s if God hadn’t put up a guardrail for me and brought me back to Him. His pursuit is a beautiful thing.

Thank you, Holy Spirit for continual kind nudges to remind me of truth and love that never stopped even though I’d kept driving closer and closer to the edge! Gomer and I had a lot in common, but as I’ve become a new me through Jesus, I remember wondering so many times, “Are we out of the woods yet? When can all this hardship be over? When will I get to live a life full of rainbows and unicorns?”

It may not ever happen. We will face trials in this world. The Bible never tells us whether Gomer and Hosea live happily ever after. I really wonder about this…Did Gomer realized that she was chosen and loved by Hosea? I don’t know. I want to know!! I do know this one thing:

Gomer was worth the stop. I was worth the stop. You are worth the stop. I was worth the stop multiple times with many reminders that God’s love is like Hosea’s. We can find ourselves wondering if that’s really true, but I’m telling you from experience that it is. 

Like Hosea fought for Gomer, God will fight for you. He wants His people back. Quit hiding. Let’s walk out of the woods. Together.

This is just the soundtrack of my life. 

Dwelling Daily,

Allison

*This blog post was written/recorded by Allison Laidig*

To follow Allison, her blog, and her ministry, please check her out at http://www.thesoundtrackofourlife.com and http://www.dwelldailyministries.com

Week 3: GOmer #worththestop

Audio Version of Week 3: Gomer #worththestop by Mattie Book

Dark places exist. Two years ago, I watched God rescue someone I love very much from a dark place, but within months I watched her return to that dark place. My heart was broken. No matter how hard I tried to tell her she was living in a house of deception and abuse, she persistently justified it and seemed to view it as the taj mahal. It was an excruciating time for me and leaning on God’s understanding above my own was my only option. He saw the details that I couldn’t see. I saw the chains of lies and toxicity, but only God had the strength to break them. I knew that I needed to step out of the way for Him to step in. I knew that I served a God who loved this person even more than I did, I knew that she was His daughter, and I even knew that my God wasn’t afraid to light up dark places with truth as He would make her worth the stop.

The story of Gomer is found in the Bible at the beginning of the book of Hosea.

“When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.”-Hosea 1:2-3

The Lord begins speaking through Hosea. He is now a prophet of the Lord. The first thing that is asked of Him is that He go marry a promiscuous woman AND start a family with her. God didn’t tell him to go marry a righteous woman, He asked him to marry a promiscuous one. I am sure this confused Hosea at first, I mean can you imagine these two big moments happening back to back. He becomes the Lord’s vessel, and now he is commanded to marry a woman that society has probably deemed as dirty. He obeys though. Even though it may not have made sense, and even though it probably wasn’t his original plan for marriage, He trusted God and obeyed His command. He entered a dark place to rescue Gomer and make her his wife. Gomer was probably in a place of feeling unworthy, yet God was sending Hosea. She may not have seen her promiscuity as a dark place, but God did, and even if she wasn’t ready to be rescued, God was sending Hosea to do just that. We also see in this passage of scripture that God is making a parallel to Gomer and Hosea with Him and His people. A parallel that demonstrates the pursing, reckless love of God, that bulldozes right into dark places to light up the land with His mercy.

If you continue reading in Hosea you will see that Gomer has three children. She went from promiscuous to married, to a mom. I began thinking about Gomer’s journey and what it must have been like for her. As she married Hosea, did she ever know her worth? She had children with Hosea and started a family, but even with children, I wonder if she ever felt worthy of the life that surrounded her. Was she grateful that Hosea rescued her from her past that was tainted? Was her home life a place where she felt that she didn’t quite belong? Maybe she had spent so much time in a dark place before Hosea that a life of love and family just couldn’t feel like home. I believe at times we can become so used to the dark that the light feels uncomfortable. We don’t know much about what Gomer was experiencing in her home life, we just know that she left. She left the safe and sound, she left the marriage God had given her, and she raced back to a life of promiscuity. She left her family to pursue the toxic. She chose the chains of prostitution and became the adulterous wife that God had foreshadowed in Hosea 1:2.

I do also wonder whom Gomer was listening to as she stepped into the shoes of adultery. Were her friends’ supporters of promiscuity and prostitution? Did they tell her that she was living the good life every time she entered another man’s home? Or maybe she didn’t feel worthy of any relationships and she was not only living in a broken place, but she was also secluded in her brokenness. I know one of the hardest parts to watching the person I loved so much be in a dark place was watching others influence her. Some of the people were surrounding her dark place and telling her it wasn’t dark at all. People that were supposed to love her, were telling her what she wanted to hear not what she needed to hear. They were either deceived as well or they were choosing to avoid the deception. Maybe they chose not to see the control tactics and abuse out of fear of losing a relationship with this person. I believe the voices of these influencers were so loud and noisy that hearing truth was just so hard. She continued listening to their words and it prevented her from hearing God’s voice. It showed me just how important my tribe needed to be. It showed me that I needed to be intentional about whom I allowed to speak truth into my life. Making sure that the people whom I entrusted were truth-seekers and kingdom speakers. Dark places will come from time to time and I want to make sure that the people that I trust to speak into these times, will bring God’s truth to light up the dark place that surrounds me. I developed a golden rule that the select few people I would trust to speak life into me were people that I knew had a strong relationship with the life-giver. God and I made a list of those people. It’s my emergency preparedness list and the people on it are people that go to God first, and they aren’t afraid to speak truth to me on His behalf. See how God uses things for good? He took one of the hardest moments I had to watch, and He allowed an opportunity for me to grow. A time when I could have gotten so frustrated because there was nothing I could do, God said that I could do something and that was to become intentional about the voices I heard! He uses all for good friends, nothing is wasted with Jesus.

What was this painful time like for Hosea? What about their kids? They had to be crushed as they watched their mom leave their home for many homes. They had to be heartbroken as they watched their dad go through the humiliation and devastation of losing his wife to many men. Not to mention, can you imagine Hosea’s conversations with God? God told him to marry a promiscuous woman, and he was obedient, but now this happened. Was his rescue for nothing when he married her? Why would God have asked him to marry and raise a family with a woman that was always bound to hurt him?

Hosea was a man that sought his advice from the Living God. I see this at the beginning of chapter 3 when the “Lord said to me.” Note that it doesn’t say “google said to me,” “my friend said to me,” or even “my doctor said to me,” it says the “Lord” which tells me that Hosea was calling on the Lord in this heartbreaking time and even though others may have chimed in with their two cents, Hosea was listening to the Lord.

The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.” Hosea 3:1-3.

God saw the worth of Gomer even when Gomer didn’t see it. God had compassion on His daughter and asked Hosea to do the same. Gomer was worth the stop even in the dark place. Notice a few things about this passage of scripture though. First, see how it starts with “Go.” The Lord told Hosea to “go,” not someone else. This rescue mission was for Hosea, not anyone else. When I read this I was so relieved. It reminded me that the Lord has a “go” for all of us, but not everyone’s “go” is the same. For example, when I watched this person I love so much choose her dark place, God told me that it wasn’t my dark place to enter at this time. It wasn’t my mission yet, but God did tell me to “go” and enter into a dark place for two little boys as He called us to foster them. I had a “go,” and I had to trust that God would put a “go” on the heart of the person called to run a rescue mission for the woman that I loved in her dark place.

Also see that it says, “show your love.” Hosea wasn’t instructed to just love her again, nope, God told him to show her love. More is caught than taught. I often wonder if Gomer knew how to receive love in a healthy way. I believe that God told Hosea to show her love because He knew that Gomer needed to see it over and over and over again, to be able to receive it. One of my favorite pastors always says, “love them to Christ.” I think that this was a beautiful example of just that. He was being called to show her love, even if she didn’t recognize it, even if she couldn’t reciprocate it, and even if she would never be able to receive it.

One of the ways that Hosea shows His love for Gomer is with sacrifice. He sacrifices to buy her back. I wonder if this was one of the ways that Gomer would be able to receive love. I think that Hosea paid a price for her, to make a statement that even though she left him, even though she chose to break their unity, and even though she was choosing the toxic darkness over their forever, she was worth his stop. Why was she worth his stop? Because she was worth God’s stop.

As you read those last lines in Hosea 3:1-3 you will also see Hosea setting boundaries. Healthy relationships have boundaries. Hosea knew that he never wanted to see Gomer settle again. He never wanted to see his bride in the chains of prostitution, seeking worth and value from the highest bidder. Hosea wanted Gomer to be free and he wanted many days with her. Her future was worth his stop and their union was worth his stop. Even though he didn’t struggle with the same sin that Gomer did, he set the boundary for himself by saying he wouldn’t be unfaithful either.

From the beginning of this story, we see God compare the unfaithfulness of an adulterous wife to the land of Israel. I don’t believe this is a story of how to handle unfaithfulness in a marriage, but rather a love story of God and His children. He was pursuing Gomer even in the darkest of places. God buys all of His daughters back time and time again, and He gives us boundaries in his word to keep us from falling back into the sin He bought us from.

I don’t have the answers as to why this person I love so much decided to go back to a dark place, and I don’t know why Gomer went back to her dark place either. What I do know though is that when God told Hosea to move, he did. He didn’t move a day earlier or a day later. God chose Hosea for this mission and not anyone else. He moved as God instructed him to, and he loved her well. God told Hosea to show love to Gomer, not condemn her. Dark places don’t scare God out of stopping for His daughters.

After a year of praying hard and trusting God, I was given the “go” to speak to this woman I loved so much. God arranged a divine appointment where we ran into each other at the mall. We hadn’t seen each other in almost a year, but when we saw each other God told me it was “go time.” I asked her to clear her schedule for the rest of her day and I asked her to spend the rest of the day with me. I didn’t know how to enter into her dark place, but with the Lord’s help, I did. The Holy Spirit told me everything I needed to say and it was the beginning of her rescue mission. We went to lunch and then I drove her home. Can I just tell you that driving her back to her house was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do? Knowing that it could be the last time I may ever see her was so hard. As we spent our last few minutes together in the jeep I asked her if I could pray over her. I blasted Tasha Cobbs song “Break Every Chain,” and I prayed harder than I had ever prayed before. I was declaring the chains of lies and abuse be broken off of her. I begged God to give her eyes to see, ears to hear, and the strength to get out. After I said Amen, she got out of the jeep and I prayed all the way home. I trusted God to do the rest and He did. Within a few weeks after our unexpected time together, more darkness was exposed, except this time the deception couldn’t be avoided or ignored. She realized she was in a dark place and she called on God to get her out. She was worth the stop. Gomer was worth the stop. YOU are worth the stop.

I wish we could have seen how Gomer’s story ends. I’m not sure if she was ever able to accept the love that Hosea was was going to show her. It makes me sad to think of the parallel again and think about all of God’s daughters that have a hard time accepting His love. I know that the person I love so much that I have talked about in this blog, does accept His love and is hearing His voice, I believe she will have quite a journey ahead of her working to help women in their dark places. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”– Romans 8:28NIV

No matter the addictions, unhealthy relationships, sin, or dark places that you find yourself in, God will always be able to find you, stop for you, and show love to you! You are worth His grace and He wants you to ask Him how to use those painful experiences to help others. As you enter into this week, ask God what your “go” is, and then go and show your love, you may be surprised just how fast that love lights up their dark place!

As always I pray this meets you exactly where you are at.

Dwelling in His presence & Dwelling in His word,

The One Who Understands

Audio Version of “The One Who Understands” by Alyssa Howell

Have you ever had a moment when you thought to yourself…no one understands? Now I don’t mean you’re just pouting about something being unfair, I’m talking about the full-blown everything around you is falling apart and you haven’t worn makeup in days because WHAT IS THE POINT! I know, I know, what an awful way to start a blog. But seriously, I know you have been there. Life has a way of taking us to a point where we feel like there is no way out. That there is no hope. I am here to tell you about a time in my life when I was there, really there. 

My husband was in the ICU after his 3rd major surgery in 6 months. Man, I don’t know if you have ever spent time in an ICU, but it is a dark place. The words “code blue” constantly coming over the intercom and all of the nurses running to that room to save the patient. The alarms on your husband’s machine going off every 15 minutes. Your phone blowing up because everyone is worried. Small rooms. No windows. Dark place. Of course, since my husband just had surgery, he was sleeping a lot, which left quite a bit of alone time with my thoughts. Staring at him with tears in my eyes wishing I could take his place, I realized that there was only one thing I could do for him…pray. I started crying out to God: my worries, my frustrations, my pleas. 

After a few days, my husband was struggling. He was angry, he was hurt, he lost hope. I recognized his emotions because I was there a few days prior. I knew there was no way I was going to tell him about my sob story, though. I mean seriously, he was the one lying there in that hospital bed physically going through something that I would never understand. So, I cried out to God for him. When he finally got moved out of the ICU, the nurses could tell he needed encouragement. They started posting their favorite Bible verses around his room and were constantly visiting with smiling faces. My husband will tell you, he was frustrated at first, but after having nothing else to look at except those verses all day, we saw God lift his spirit. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

My husband ended up having 9 surgeries in the span of two years, and there were a lot of discouraging moments, but I kept praying hard for my husband day in and day out. Many of those prayers were weeping, but many were also praises. My husband is finally in a good place, and God pulled us through it. God understands everything and He knows best. Praying for my husband through that time, not only brought me closer to him, but it brought me closer to God. 
In the Bible, we read about a woman named Hannah. Her husband had two wives at the time, but he only had children with the other wife, Peninnah. The bible says Hannah’s womb had been closed. She not only had to deal with the hurt of not being able to have her own children, but she also had to watch her husband raise children with his other wife. It goes even further talking about Peninnah provoking her to irritate her and then her husband not understanding why she was so upset. (1 Samuel 1:2-8) This is where I was at in that ICU. That moment before the breaking point. When everything weighs you down, and you aren’t sure if there is a way out of this. Like Hannah, I began crying out to God in prayer. Also like Hannah, I look back and see God’s deliverance in what seemed like an impossible situation. He built a community around us with the nurses and staff. He built friendships when we felt completely alone. He built a marriage that can withstand anything because He is at the center. Isn’t it so great that God gave us His word, filled with stories like this one? Stories that we can relate to and learn from. Stories where God shows us that He understands and we can lean on Him. So, when you get to that point in your life and you’re thinking no one understands… cry out to God, because He hears you, He remembers you, and He will deliver you.

Written and Recorded by Alyssa Howell

Follow on Instagram: howellalyssa

P.S- During the hardest times I found these two songs to be an extra encouragement to me (“Hills & Valleys” by Tauren Wells & “Rescue” by Lauren Daigle). Check ’em out!

Week 2: Hannah #worththestop

Audio Version of Hannah #worththestop by Mattie Book

On a rainy afternoon in August of 2018, Zachary came home and said that God told him we needed to adopt a little boy out of foster care between the ages of 3 and 6. I have always been open to adoption and fostering, but it has never been something that I thought Zachary would feel led to do. He was sure though, and in that moment of him sharing what God had put on his heart, I became sure too. We took the classes, we filled out all of the forms, we got the room ready, and we waited. We did all that we could and trusted that God would do all that we couldn’t.
I plan on writing blog posts in the future about our fostering experience, but today I just want to talk about the goodbye. In May of 2019, our fostering/adoption process began. Our foster worker called us and asked us if we would be willing to foster two little boys, a set of brothers. God placed these boys on our hearts because they were worth His stop. It was an assignment for Zachary and me, but it wasn’t our calling. God created a space in our hearts, but it was meant to be temporary, not permanent. I remember the day before the court hearing that would dictate if the boys were available for adoption. We had been fostering them for almost two months at this time and were praying diligently every day to to be able to keep them. That morning before the hearing Zachary and I both woke up and our hearts had changed. Before this court hearing, we were so set on adopting them if we had the chance. We wanted them to stay with us forever, and we were sure that they were meant to be ours. My heart would break every single time I thought about the possibility of them having to go back to their previous home. The morning before the court hearing though, Zachary and I both woke up with a new heart space for the boys. We went out to dinner and told each other that overnight our hearts had changed. I remember being so scared that day to tell Zach that my heart had changed. Then when he told me that God changed his heart overnight as well we knew that for some reason, God united us in this decision, and these boys were not ours. We sought counsel from our mentors at church, prayed about it together, and then called the agency and told them that even though we loved them, we couldn’t adopt them at this point if they were able to be adopted after the hearing.
The boys’ worker called us the next day and told us that at the hearing they decided the boys would be available for adoption and we were asked if we wanted to reconsider. It didn’t make sense to us at the time how our hearts could change overnight, but we stayed true to the “no” that we believed God was telling us. A few days later the adoption worker called us to inform us that a family called the agency and asked about the boys. This family knew they were supposed to adopt two and they had been thinking of the little boys since they called them a few months ago. God had placed the boys on their hearts. They put in an intent to adopt and within a week we drove the boys to meet this family.
When we met the new family it was instant joy for all of us. I knew in the depths of my soul that God had put this entire desire of adopting on our hearts just for these boys to get into the arms of these parents. It was an assignment, and it was an assignment for the other families calling. We were assigned to get the boys to them. We were assigned to love them, meet their needs, and teach them all about Jesus in the meantime. I remember the first night I tucked the boys in, the oldest looked at me and said, “God is dead because he never reminded Santa to bring me toys.” It broke my heart. When he left though, he knew that he was God’s masterpiece, he knew that he belonged to Jesus, and he knew he had a purpose. It was an assignment, and we were willing to accept it. It wasn’t always perfect, but I believe it was our assignment because God entrusted us to choose His will, even when it didn’t make sense, and even when it broke our hearts. We were a bridge for them to get to the forever home that God intended for them all along. I may not have been chosen as the boys forever mom, but I was chosen to get them to her.
I love the story of Hannah in scripture. She was a woman that trusted God. When she was discouraged, she prayed. When she was provoked, she prayed. Hannah knew that she needed to get to the house of the Lord year after year, even though it meant persevering through the provoking of Peninnah. The house of the Lord was a sacred place to Hannah in her heartbreak. When she was bitter and full of anguish, she prayed. Hannah didn’t pretend with God, she was broken, and she made it known. She could have been angry with God, but she still refers to herself as the Lord’s servant. Her heartache never compromised her identity, Hannah knew who she was and she knew she was the Lord’s. She was misjudged by Eli as a drunk, but she corrected him with grace as she humbly informed him that she wasn’t a drunk, but she was a woman who was deeply troubled. Hannah didn’t pour herself a drink she poured her heart into God. She was a woman that took her heart to God, even in pieces. Hannah was also a woman that God stopped for. Her prayers were answered. Hannah wanted a son, and that is what God gave her. We see in scripture that when she specifically asked for a son, she vowed to give him back to the Lord and that’s exactly what she did.
I also love the story of Hannah because of the prayer that she delivers after she gives her son over to Eli to be raised in the house of the Lord. I can’t imagine her heart in as she says goodbye to her son that she longed for. The son that was only hers for a short time. When you read the prayer though, it’s evident that Hannah trusted God’s will and she was a woman of follow-through. Her prayer that she leaves Samuel with is an exclamation of God’s goodness even though I’m sure her heart was heavy as she anticipated leaving him. Hannah had perseverance, hope, and an unwavering trust in God. In a moment where she could have broken down and begged God to let her keep Samuel, she chose to proclaim His faithfulness. The “Hannah Prayer” is famous, but what I love so much about it is that it was the prayer that came after God delivered a son to Hannah and after Hannah delivered her son back to God. Hannah was worth the stop for God, and God was worth the stop for Hannah.
Bitterness, anger, heartbreak, and hunger didn’t stop Hannah from praying. Her loss of not being able to conceive didn’t change her identity, she still referred to herself as the Lord’s servant. She ran to God and He delivered, and then she gave back to Him what she promised. And she did it in a way that proclaimed the faithfulness of God.
What if we all decided to raise our kids as if they were the Lord’s and not ours? I believe Hannah was chosen to have Samuel because the Lord knew that her willingness and obedience could be trusted. What if we all acknowledged the fact that God created our kids for a much bigger purpose than to be our kids. Our assignment isn’t to raise them to be ours, our assignment is to raise them to be His. Our assignment isn’t to raise them to fulfill our expectations, but rather to guide them as they fulfill the purpose God planned for them. It’s a process that will take a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Let’s be like Hannah so when those moments come we run to prayer. And when the time comes for God to call our kids into the purpose He planned for them, let’s be mama’s that pray the Hannah prayer and trust the God that will lead them, even as we wave goodbye to them.

Then Hannah prayed and said:

“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
    in the Lord my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
    for I delight in your deliverance.

 “There is no one holy like the Lord;
    there is no one besides you;
    there is no Rock like our God.

 “Do not keep talking so proudly
    or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the Lord is a God who knows,
    and by him deeds are weighed.

 “The bows of the warriors are broken,
    but those who stumbled are armed with strength.
 Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
    but those who were hungry are hungry no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
    but she who has had many sons pines away.

 “The Lord brings death and makes alive;
    he brings down to the grave and raises up.
 The Lord sends poverty and wealth;
    he humbles and he exalts.
 He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
    and has them inherit a throne of honor.

“For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
    on them he has set the world.
 He will guard the feet of his faithful servants,
    but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness.

“It is not by strength that one prevails;
     those who oppose the Lord will be broken.
The Most High will thunder from heaven;
    the Lord will judge the ends of the earth.

“He will give strength to his king
    and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

1Samuel 2: 1-10

I hope this meets you where you are and encourages you! You are loved friend and you are #worththestop!!!

Worth the Stop,

“Wild & Worth the Stop”

“Drop the Lies” Artwork by Casey Haist
Audio Version of “Wild and Worth the Stop” by Casey Haist

                          Wild & Worth The Stop

                                    HAPPY TO BE WILD & FREE

Before we knew anything about God we knew He was a Creator. Just as He created the world and every bit of it in detail with intentionality, He created you. When God created the garden of Eden, He created Eve along with Adam, FROM Adam, from His very bone (do you ever think about that? Women, we began from bone, created from another creation, the one that needed us as their perfect helper, first surrendered a piece of themselves so WE could exist…that just sounds like the perfect way to start a relationship doesn’t it? Sacrificing FOR the life and growth of the other).  Eve wouldn’t have been without Adam’s broken-bone sacrifice. I want to remember that when I think about Eve and how she began. This living, breathing, walking-around fleshy creation. God created her right along with man, all of the flowers, the living plants, animals, waterfalls and streams. She wasn’t just human, she was an intricate piece of the creation puzzle that surrounded her. I can picture Eve being just as wild and just as free as the birds and the flowers that stretched and blossomed where they were planted, just as they were. I think of Eve as a runner, running freely in creation, knowing exactly who she was. I think she slowed down within her day of exploring to walk beside her Creator in confidence, knowing that she was “good.” I picture Eve exploring and breathing in every intentional detail He breathed into existence, knowing every bit of her was created with the same care. I think she not only walked alongside her Father in the day and ran beside the animals, she lived just as freely in her own flesh and bones as the animals did, standing her ground, knowing the territory and scoping out the best watering holes to drink from—-which waterfalls to jump. I think she knew the abundance and beauty in all God created so she also knew the beauty within herself.  

She didn’t only know who she was, she knew WHY she was. WHY she existed within the creation puzzle. She knew the part she was meant to play in God’s story instead of striving to write something she thought would be better (until she……did. We’ll get to that, ugh). But in the beginning Eve knew who she was and she knew WHY she was. That she was created by a loving God, for His creative purposes that glorified and reflected all the good He was doing. 

I think Eve walked as one with God and the rest of creation like she belonged there.

She lived as “good” and ran with “the good” of creation—-

Until she listened to the voice of lies and destruction. 

                                        THAT SNAKE IS A LIAR

Eve was running freely, jumping, breathing in the creative puzzle that surrounded her and noticing every gift of its detail, including what made up the masterpiece within herself. I think the masterpiece within herself was maybe even her favorite part. That God would think to create her, the color of her eyes and the bones that made the running possible. 

Then this other voice tip-toed its way around this perfect Eden on its own mission. It was a voice that got close enough to Eve in the garden without her even knowing it was near. But what this voice brought, its presence made known, was enough to get her to turn her head and listen to what it had to say. 

So she stopped. She stopped the running, stopped the smelling of the flowers and the examining of the detail right in front of her. 

She stopped long enough to listen instead of facing the truth that she knew. The truth she knew about God and herself in this puzzle of paradise and purpose. 

This voice. Because she stopped and because she listened, it spoke words of “not enough”. It offered her a new story, even though it had no previous record of creating “good”, authoring a glorious Eden or designing such things. She had never seen this creature produce fruit, only offer it. This voice offered her fruit without anything to show for it. This voice only produced lies, yet the way it offered them sounded appetizing. 

So she decided to give it her attention. 

The voice questioned God’s order. It went ahead and started re-writing the story in all of it’s crafty-ness and used it for manipulation, when it had no such authority. When it was the created not the Creator. It told her she could be more, it pushed a new imitation need beyond what was already provided and “good.”

Without even recognizing such language, but by the way it appeared all shiny and appetizing, she made a choice. (God allows us that, as part of the heart of freedom He has for us, doesn’t He? Part of His “good” means the freedom to choose.)

So she chose to take ahold of the fruit that appeared to be good, yet it was rotten and empty on the inside. 

She stopped for what this creature was selling and she took a bite of something she was never designed to consume. The consumption of listening to the voice of anything she wasn’t created from. 

And in the middle of tasting something new, she had her eyes off of her Creator. What she was doing off to the side of her original purpose had her feet in a direction she was never meant to run in. In fact, her feet in this moment took her off course, they took her legs that were meant to run in freedom right to Adam, in lies instead of life. The way she started walking, before she even experienced the aftertaste, set Him off course too. 

He ate it too. 

And you know what? Because Eve ate from a different source, listened to a different voice than the One who Created her, she found herself sick. Hiding, distancing herself from God’s good, her head held low, and her feet planted in shame when they were made for running and jumping. I wonder if she even felt so sick from the consumption of destruction and distance that she vomited the thing right up once the aftertaste kicked in. After the taste turned from appetizing to disgusting in her gut. I bet she had acid reflux of the soul and that sounds like it’d be the nastiest kind. I imagine body chills coming in strong and the need for clothing and care. 

No wonder Eve and Adam started feeling naked in a whole new sort of way. Because they were listening to a voice that reflected a need for more, when originally they were fine just the way they were. 

All because she took her eyes off of her Creator. The One who truly knew her design and the best fruits for consumption. 

Remember what God said as He addressed her in her isolation? 

“Who told you that you were naked?”

Which voice are we going to listen to? The voice of the One who designed us or the voice of another who just wants His place? The voice of the One who actually produces good fruit within our lives or the one who’s only advertising?

I believe if Eve was still here with us this is what she’d say:

“Don’t eat the bad apples! Look for holes, dissect and examine what the world puts out on a platter in front to your face! Don’t chose imitation fruit that doesn’t come from the One who created you! It’s not for you! It wasn’t worth it, it wasn’t worth the distance from God and the hiding and the shame. I wasn’t made for that. I was made from love, for love, for the running and the jumping and the locking of my eyes with His.”

                                            WORTH THE STOP

So, I leave you with this. 

Let’s remember. Let’s learn from our sister, Eve. Let’s give her a great big hug when we get to heaven and tell her that her story reminded us to live freely with a focus straight ahead, feet forward, eyes on our Creator first, instead of the created. Let’s remember that God’s good exists but evil still exists too. It’s coming for us in this world, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t standing right here beside us, ready to fight on our behalf. On behalf of His creations. This freedom Eve had in the garden was bought back for us. Jesus played His part and walked to the cross because we were still worth the saving. We were still worth the freedom God so very much wanted for us. 

So let’s go back to Eden. Let’s let it be known that Jesus bought it all back. Let’s start running and jumping and finding the best waterfalls with our sisters and explore the details of our days. Because there’s so much good. 

There’s STILL so much good.

Let’s remember that the voice of crippled lies still slithers around, angry in death, darkness and a never ending mission towards getting our attention. But we don’t have to look, we don’t have to listen. Let’s remember that the voice of deceit and death only slithers and eats dust. Only comes to advertise without good fruit to show for it. 

We can crush its head when it wiggles its way through our front door.

We can re-focus our attention on the cross and the blood that was shed for freedom, instead of whatever other voices come calling offering a different kind of fruit. 

I don’t know about you but I want the good fruit that was designed for me. The kind that brings life instead of acid-reflux and isolation. The kind that when I consume it, creates more good and an abundance to share with my sisters and brothers. 

I want to be like Eve. I want to run in the freedom of my design and then grab ahold of the freedom that’s still there for me when I’ve eaten bad fruit and listened to lies. That freedom and truth God’s still providing even in our weakest moments. The freedom that was so intended for us that God couldn’t let us go without still providing it. I want to grab it again and again, remembering it’s still there when I’ve grabbed for the wrong things and eaten from the wrong source. Finding myself sick. 

I’m so glad Jesus provided that path of freedom for us on the cross, that covers all the times we find ourselves feeling naked.

Thanks, Jesus. Thanks for Your stop at the cross. You knew we were worth it. 

I want to face forward, run, and eat only the good. I want to use what God’s created within me, pull it back and shoot it at any bad apples the voice of lies try to throw at my sisters and brothers. They’re worth the fight, in the same way God provided for Eve in the garden and sent Jesus to win us back. They’re worth the stop within the race of freedom we run. We can stop for them, we can stop to shoot the lies down and send the good stuff in their direction, because the truth we’ve tasted nourishes our warrior souls.  

We can eat the good God has and we can drop any other fruit this world offers. We don’t even have to grab it or stop for it, we don’t even have to turn out head in its direction when there’s an abundance of freedom right in front of us for the taking. 

Truth, and freedom. I’ll stop for that, and I’ll stop to pass it all around to my friends for the tasting.

Written and recorded by: Casey Haist

Writer/Author (coming soon!)

Follow on Instagram: @caseyhaistwrites

Eve: The Measurement of His Mercy #worththestop

Audio Version: Eve #WorthTheStop Week 1 By: Mattie Book

As I was beginning this series of Worth the Stop, God asked that we start with Eve. During my time preparing for this first week, God met with me on many occasions to un-layer the many times that His daughter was worth the stop. He placed on my heart that all too often we focus on the sin of Eve that we miss out on the grace of Him. I started writing this first post many times, but God kept adding another layer of His mercy for me to treasure. I asked Him what to do because I didn’t want to miss anything as I was sharing His heart, so He gave me a vision of the beautiful notes above. This vision of colorful notes from His word became a reality and I pray that you enjoy them to the fullest. They are a gift that He asked me to place into your hands. Every note, every circle & every highlight was placed on my heart by our creator. I trust that these notes will meet you where you are and illuminate His love for Eve, and you!

Week 1- Let’s do this… His love for you will always be greater than your sin!

Zachary and I lived together before we were married. We chose sin over obedience. During this time I was told by another woman that I “wasn’t of the Lord.” I had already felt distant from God because I knew that my actions were hurting my Father’s heart. God always wants what’s best for His children, and I chose my own way, and it was a way that wasn’t pleasing to God. When I heard the words that I “wasn’t of the Lord,” I believed them. I started to believe that my sin disqualified me from being His daughter, and I was covered in shame.

The shame I was chained to had a tight grip on me for seven years. It wasn’t until I went to a women’s retreat at our church and attended a session on shame that I was able to receive God’s mercy and experience the chains break. The woman leading the session asked us to draw an “x” on our hands and think of the shame in our lives, she then asked us what one drop of Jesus’s blood does to that shame. We then got in a line and the woman in front of us would wash off our “x” and then we would turn around to wash the “x” off of the woman’s hand behind us. As I was walking up to have my handwashed I remember hearing many thoughts like “you’re unworthy,” “you don’t belong in church your past is too messy,” “you broke God’s heart,” and lastly, ” you are not of the Lord.” I remember that as “you are not of the Lord,” echoed in my heart the woman in front of me grabbed my hand and all of the noise stopped, and I heard God say, ever so direct, “you are mine.” The shame chains were broken, and I was set free.

Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. She chose her own way rather than God’s way. Her sin is often what many focus on in the story of Adam and Eve, but God led me to a new perspective. He used the sin of Eve to show me His pursing love and care for His daughter. See, when Eve sinned, God still walked towards her in the garden calling out to her “where are you?” Eve’s sin did not keep God from pursuing her. When shame caused her to cover her body with fig leaves, God was upset and He asked, “who told you that?” “Who told you that you were naked?” God didn’t leave Eve after she told him the truth that she messed up. He continued talking to her, He continued to pursue her in conversation. God knew what she did, but He asked her what she did anyways. He knew that her heart needed to confess her sin, or His daughter would spend the rest of her life hiding from Him. God’s desire is never to see His children slaves to shame, so He invites us into confession with Him. He invites us to share the sin in our lives and receive His mercy. After Eve told Him the truth, that the serpent deceived her and she ate the forbidden fruit, God cursed the snake but gave only consequences to His children. He didn’t curse Adam or Eve, He only cursed the one that deceived them. The children received their consequences, but God continued to provide for them even in that space. “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them“-Genesis 3:21 NIV. This verse matters, it’s WORTH THE STOP! When God showed this verse to me, I felt His heart break for every time the story of Eve is told without this verse. God is a provider, and He knew that the fig leaves were not sustainable, so He clothed His children with what would sustain them. God is merciful, and His mercy will always be bigger than our sin. After His children were forced to leave the Garden of Eden, God didn’t leave Eve in her consequences alone, He followed her even out of paradise. Scripture tells us that, “Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.”-Genesis 4:1 NIV. Did you catch that? “She said, with the help of the Lord.” Ladies, hear me, God has a message for you, YOUR CONSEQUENCES WILL NEVER ELIMINATE THE PRESENCE OF GOD, HE IS WITH YOU AND HE GOING TO HELP YOU. Your shame may be great, but the measurements of His mercy are so much greater, and He wants to clothe you with His love and help you through your consequences. I think often of the consequences that God gave Eve. For so long, when I was told this story of Adam and Eve, I always viewed Eve’s consequence of severe childbirth as punishment. I was taught that her sin was to be punished as if God wanted to hurt His daughter with the severe pains of childbirth. Can I tell you what God shared with me though? God shared with me that, “when Eve ate the forbidden fruit she chose not to be dependent on God, but to be dependent on her own understanding. The consequence of severe childbirth pains was not given to hurt Eve, but to bring her back to complete dependence on Him. When her pains were great, He was there, He was faithful, and she was in full dependence of Him. God was trustworthy, and out of her burden of childbirth pain, He delivered a blessing.” In the pain of childbirth, God helped His daughter. She encountered God in the biggest pains of her life, and He didn’t shun her, HE HELPED HER. He was faithful and He sustained her even in her consequence, and her heart was not filled with the shame that she caused this, but rather her heart rejoiced that the father that she hurt, and hid from, never hid from her, and followed her even out of Eden to be present with her in the greatest pains of her life. And guess what, in Genesis 4:1 Eve becomes the first person in scripture to declare God’s faithfulness when she says, “with the help of the Lord!” Her father was faithful to her when He helped His girl.

I don’t know where you are in your faith journey, but can I tell you something? Okay, how about seven somethings?

1.) Your sin doesn’t define you.

2.)You are still God’s daughter.

3.)There is no hiding place that your Father can’t find you, wherever you are, His voice is calling to you, “Where are you?” He isn’t afraid to walk through the fog of shame, He wants to! Because our Heavenly Father is good, and He wants to meet you exactly where you are and deliver you from wherever you are hiding!

4.) God speaks life to His children, not death. So if you’ve ever been told that you are unworthy, not enough, too much, that your sin is too great, that you will never belong, or that you are not of the Lord, shut those voices down, and let God ask your heart, “WHO TOLD YOU THAT?” See when I was told that I wasn’t of the Lord, the enemy won twice. He won as he deceived heart and the mind of the woman that he put these lies into, and he won a space in my heart as I chose to receive this comment and let it define me. He may have won that battle, but he will never win the war. Because my father fought for me, and won the war on my heart, and until I die I will pray over the heart and the mind of that other woman that believed such false identity about me. And my Father will continue pursuing her heart and mine and yours until all the lies are gone and orchards of His goodness and truth will be the only fruit trees growing in the soil of our hearts.

5.)God provides for His children even in the consequences. He clothed Eve in Eden after her sin, and He clothes us now with the blood of His son Jesus. The blood that clears our slate time and time again. Shame has no place on you, ditch the fig leaves, and put on His forgiveness. Put on His promises. Receive the full armor of God and walk out of your shame. Go, and sin no more!

6.)Invite God into your hardships, and then declare His faithfulness. Let’s do it together, “She said, with the help of the Lord…” ( Finish this sentence EVERY DAY)! Every day, declare out loud how your father shows up to help you. Be a Genesis 4:1 lady! When others talk about you let their words always start out with “She said, with the help of the Lord…” Let’s be an army of women that acknowledge the many ways our father helps us in the many different situations we find ourselves in.

7.)Eve was worth the stop, I was worth the stop, and, you, my precious, beloved sister, YOU ARE WORTH THE STOP! Believe it, receive it, and preach it!

God’s heart is so much bigger than the sin of Eve. Her sin leads us to a love story of the way a faithful father cares for His children. Although Zachary and I have had to go through the consequences of the sin we chose, God has been ever so present. Consequences of financial burdens from us being so young and not having finance talks because we were too lost in each other’s eyes. Consequences of our wedding night not feeling significantly special, and the consequences of feeling the pain of hurting God’s heart. Sin comes with consequences, but it was never intended to come with shame. God comes with us even in the consequences, and dependence on Him is often anchored. If you are a woman that is bound to the chains of shame I want to invite you to email me at dwellatthewell@yahoo.com. I want to pray over you, and I want to help you break free from this. I am your sister and I am rooting for you. God loves all of His daughters. Your sin and your shame are so small compared to His love and plan for you. This series is going to be intense, God’s heart for His daughters is huge, and He is chasing the hearts of His daughters right now. If you are a woman that isn’t bound to shame, can I ask that you pray for sisters that are? Can I ask that you make your sisters’ worth your stop? Pray for every sister that needs to break free, and the next time you hear the beautiful story of Eve, show others the beauty in the verses that often go missed. Show others that God found His daughter in sin, that He invited her into confession with Him, that He listened to her, that clothed her, and when she was going through the consequences from her sin, God helped his daughter. He never left her. You may walk away from God out of shame, but He will never walk away from you, and He’s not ashamed of you, He’s calling to you and He wants to help you!

As always, I pray that this blog finds you where you are! You are worthy, you are His. I invite you to share this blog so all of your sisters will receive truth, and the truth will set them free.

Worth the Stop,

Mattie Book

His Plan>My Fear

Sketched by Ryan Wheat
Audio Version: His Plan > My Fear by Mattie Book

A couple of years ago as I was in the middle of a church service, God spoke to me about my oldest daughter, Hannah. Hannah was getting ready to go into kindergarten. She only knew 12 letters, struggled to write her name, and was fighting against a speech and learning delay.  I was so afraid of what the next year would bring. During the middle of worship, I remember putting my head down and saying, “God, I am so scared for Hannah going into kindergarten with so many delays. I feel like I’m sending her to the wolves.” I was so humbly broken. Like no matter how hard Hannah tried, she was going to struggle. I just couldn’t handle the thought of sending her into kindergarten knowing that she was so behind and embarrassed of her speech delay. How would the kids respond to her and would the teachers be patient with her? God was quick to respond, His presence came over me and He said, “Mattie, where I send Hannah, she won’t know the language. Teach her MY language. That is the language I am going to use.”  What a moment that was! I was filled with purpose as Hannah’s mother. All the pressure I’d felt for Hannah to accomplish in kindergarten suddenly vanished and my heart was filled with direction. With my head down and full of fear, God met me with His message of Hannah’s purpose.

I knew that after that moment the only thing God was asking of me, as Hannah’s mom, was to teach her His language. I didn’t need to feel the pressure of her knowing the alphabet. God didn’t say He was going to use the alphabet; He said He was going to use her, and the only thing I needed to do was teach her His language. I decided at that moment that I didn’t care if she was ever able to learn how to multiply or write a paragraph, God put me on a mission to teach her His language.  His language of how to love others well and how to serve. I needed to teach her how to forgive and extend grace. I made it a mission to start teaching her scripture so she could be filled with truth.  Arm her with the tools necessary so the enemy would never be able to attack her with lies. Teaching her identity, belonging, and purpose in Jesus Christ became an everyday conversation. I needed to start teaching her how to access God in prayer. Most of all, I knew that I needed to teach her how to hear His voice. I also vowed to myself that I would not tell her about the conversation I had with God until after He called her, but I needed to teach her how to listen for His voice so when He does call her, she will hear Him.


As Hannah grows, God shows me glimpses of why He may indeed call her into missions. Hannah LOVES to be outside. Hannah loves National Geographic and she is passionate about saving the environment. She loves serving other people and she loves sharing the Gospel with strangers. When I think about Hannah’s future I get so excited! I know that nothing, not a syndrome, not a speech delay, not even a bad report card will ever take away the plans God has for Hannah, and the only job I have as her mother is teaching her to hear God and obey Him.


A couple of weeks ago we had a meeting at the school for my youngest daughter, Elaina. As we are preparing for her to go to kindergarten next year, we have a lot to consider. She doesn’t know any of her letters, she still isn’t potty trained, and her speech needs are significant. Her team of therapists and teachers all sat around a table to discuss benchmark milestones and upcoming testing for her. My heart just started to break, and break, and break some more. They tried hard to make the data look good, but the truth of the matter is, Elaina is so very behind. The team started to talk about a possibility of Elaina going to a school for children with moderate to profound cognitive delays. A school that kids can attend up the age of 26. A school that may be more equipped for her needs, depending on what the testing will show. A school that is near to my heart. I worked there my senior year of high school, and in the walls of this school God called me to be a nurse. I love this school, I just never imagined that Elaina would need a school with so much support. I wasn’t ready to consider the thought of having my daughters at two separate schools. I was also faced with the instant grief that no matter how much support my Elaina could receive, getting a high school diploma isn’t promised. I finally just burst into tears. My husband was in shock, and the teachers did their best to tell me that everything would be okay and that this school was just one of a few options. I have found there are just some moments in this journey that I could never have prepared for. The teachers continued to talk about Elaina being a kind student in the class and then I read the words on the screen, “Elaina sits with her peers.” As I read this with tears streaming down my face, Jesus entered the room and gave my heart a vision. I saw an image of Jesus standing in front of many people, but little Elaina was sitting at His feet with her little hands open. Jesus then said to me, “Elaina sits, Mattie, Elaina sits, teach her to sit at my feet and she will always be fed.” I was seeing a vision of John 6. Scripture says in John 6: 9-11NIV, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.”


See, although Elaina moves at a different pace than others, she is still learning and growing every day. She is constantly amazing her father and me, and we celebrate all of her milestones. As I read the words, “Elaina sits with her peers,” Jesus stopped me in the middle of my heartbreak to let me know that I had a job to do. If Elaina can sit then I have purpose in showing her where to find His feet. As Jesus intervened, He gave my heart a sense of peace and the power to fight all the fears ahead. See, after we jump over this hurdle there will be another one. I battle with fear of what will happen one day when I am no longer here; who will take care of Elaina and who will love her like I do? When Jesus told me to teach Elaina where to sit, He wanted me to know that there will always be a place for her in front of Him and His hands will always supply all that she needs. His love does indeed cast out fear. Jesus loves Elaina. When my heart was breaking about the possible plans for next year, Jesus redirected me just like He did with Hannah a couple of years ago. He showed up and He gave me purpose as her mother. He wanted me to know that as I was being faced with all the ways Elaina was delayed, He saw something that mattered. She sits, and if she can sit at His feet, she can receive, and not just a handful. She can receive as much as she wants. The miracles ahead for Elaina are going to be endless and they will continue even after I am gone. I just need to teach her where to sit. How do I teach her this? I take her with me. I take her with me to sit at His feet when I pray, when I listen, when I praise Him, when I serve others, and when I enter our beautiful church. I teach her where to find Him in her day, and I trust that He will always fill her hands with all that she needs.

When God created my daughters, He created them with a purpose that will always be greater than their diagnosis. Although their syndrome causes many challenges that bring heartache from time to time, one thing remains constant, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”-Psalm 34:18NIV.


Being a special-needs mom is hard. The last couple of weeks have been hard for our family, but God has been so near. Jesus loves to partner up with parents. He’s partnered up with me the past two weeks to speak truth into this hardship. To remind me that it doesn’t matter what building Elaina finds herself in next year, because her seat is saved in front of Him and He is the ultimate teacher. Let Him into your heartache. If you ever find yourself filled with grief and your spirit crushed, know that He is close. Let Him speak life into your circumstances. Ask Him how to equip the kids you are raising and let Him tell you how to prepare them for their future that He planned long ago.


I pray this blog meets you where you are and encourages you today. You are loved friend, and you have a purpose!


Sitting at His feet & Dwelling in His presence,
Mattie Book

Cleaned & Redeemed, Scrubbed & Loved

Sketched by Ryan Wheat
Audio Version: Cleaned & Redeemed/Scrubbed & Loved by Mattie Book

I wish I could say my house is always clean. It isn’t though. Smudges seem to always cover my glass patio door, and there always seems to be a mess to clean up in the kitchen. Every morning the dishes need to be put away and laundry never stops needing to be folded. I have also learned that different parts of the house need a different type of cleaning too. The bathrooms need to be disinfected at least twice a week and our wooden bookshelves need to be dusted every other week. I try to keep the carpets vacuumed every other day, but only need to mop the hardwood floors once a month. I have come to this conclusion that every day, I am cleaning some part of our house.

I was cleaning the kitchen today with my sweet Elaina (my youngest) and we decided to jam to some worship music. If you ever stop by when I am in a cleaning mood you will know it because you will hear the music as you pull into the driveway. The momentum for cleaning my house always seems to go up when I blast Christian music. Sometimes I even find that I feel like cleaning my house has become a dedicated time of worship for me. I know that when I clean, I get to enjoy loud praise music and feel connected to Jesus even with the Clorox wipes in hand. I decided to talk to Him about this.

A.) Because telling another person that some of my greatest moments of worship are spent wiping down the counters would be weird.

-and-

B.) I wanted to understand this better. I know God is my creator so I find that when I want to understand “me” a little better, I go to Him.

So, as Elaina and I were cleaning off the kitchen table, I decided to talk to God about this. I said, “God, why do I experience you in worship as I clean our house? God, what is something good and true you can tell me about worshiping you as I clean?” God is always present, and always desiring us to enter into conversation with Him. After I asked Him this I stopped cleaning for a minute and just took the time to listen. His presence flooded my kitchen and He said, “I am a cleaner, I clean the hearts of my people.”

Just like our houses need constant cleaning, so do our hearts. Let’s think of our hearts as if they were a house for a second. If our hearts are a home then what does God need to clean up? I reflected on this today and God brought up the rooms of my heart that He is always pursuing with Clorox wipes and the areas of my heart that need to be tidied up daily. Just like I dust off the bookshelf, God needs to dust off the passivity that covers my heart from time to time. I want the countertop surfaces of my heart that are sticky with pride to be wiped clean. I need God to clean the windows and doors of my heart so that I don’t have any smudges of selfishness that prevent me from seeing beyond my own sliding glass door. I need God to disinfect areas of my house that stink of false identity, and I need Him to mop away any shame that lays as dirt on the floor of my heart. As false idols clutter the staircase, I am desperate for Him to remove them and throw them in the garbage where they belong. God knows my heart, He created it, therefore, He knows what doesn’t belong in it, and from time to time I need Him to take out the trash.

Continuing my reflection with God, He reminded my heart that we use different cleaning supplies for different rooms in our house. Well, it’s the same with God. He recently called me to do a 40-day sugar fast. He needed to clean up that idol of sugar that I always run to in distress. Fasting was the method He used to remove that clutter from the staircase. He calls me to serve at times when I could be easily inconvenienced as a way to clean up the smudges of selfishness, so I can see and serve others the way He wants me to. When pride is sticky on the countertop, He cleans it up with a cleaning solution called, Humility. He uses His word to disinfect the lies that the enemy would want me to believe about my identity, and He mops the shame away with the blood of His son, Jesus.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,

    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”- Psalm 51:10NIV

As I continued to spend time with God reflecting on all of the ways I am desperate for Him to clean the rooms of my heart, He led me to Psalm 51:10. I actually fell in love with the whole passage of Psalm 51, and I encourage you to take a look and count how many times you see a “cleaning” word. It’s amazing how David pleads for his heart to be cleansed, and I have decided that I want to be this intentional about praying over the cleansing of my heart. The enemy’s motive is to steal, kill, and destroy. The enemy wants your heart to be an overwhelming mess of doubt, hatred, un-forgiveness, bitterness, gluttony, false identity, lack of belonging, and shame. God knew that the enemy’s motive was always to make a mess out of your heart, so He sent you a Messiah, the one who died for your heart and salvation. See how God took that word mess and added an ending to it. God will always get the last word, and He can always add a life-giving ending to any mess we surrender to Him to clean out of our hearts. When your heart is a mess, call on the Messiah! The Messiah that delivers, anoints and gives our hearts a clean and eternal ending. Our God is a God that creates, cleans, renews and redeems. With Jesus, our hearts have a purpose, and that purpose is to serve Him (and serve others), follow Him, invite others to Him, praise Him, trust Him, and be constantly changed & cleansed by Him.

I wish I could say that my heart is always clean. It isn’t though. Maybe you feel the same way. God has asked that I leave a verse and prayer for you. As always, I pray and trust that this blog will meet you exactly where you are and encourage you. God is asking that I finish this with one more treasure of truth. He is asking that I tell you, “There is no mess that Jesus the Messiah can’t clean.” I am not sure what the inside of your heart looks like right now, but God wants in. He isn’t afraid of the clutter, He doesn’t look away from the shame, and He doesn’t walk away from the sticky counter. The smudges don’t make you unworthy. He is ready, love. He is ready to mop your floors and take out the trash!

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” -1 Corinthians 3:16 NIV

Heavenly Father,

I come to you in Jesus’s name and I just ask for a cleansing of our hearts. I ask that you would just tidy up every room in our hearts that have clutter. I ask that you would mop away any shame, false identity, pride, and the sin that we struggle with. God, 1 Corinthians 3:16 claims that we are your temple and that your spirit dwells in us. Temples serve a purpose God and I just ask that you would reveal to us the purpose you have created for our hearts. We together are your temple ready to serve you, Lord. As you dwell in our midst I just ask that every room of our hearts would be cleansed with the blood of your son, Jesus. Renew our hearts God and continue to create moments of worship that lead to life-changing conversation. Remind us every time we clean our house that you are pursuing our hearts. We surrender our hearts to you God. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Dwelling in His Love & being changed by His heart,

Mattie Book

Porcelain

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2 NIV

“Porcelain”
Sketched by Ryan Wheat

     Burdens can be so heavy at times. Having two special needs children my burdens have been almost unbearable at times. My kids are not the burdens of course, but the medical bills, fear of the future, the grief of lost experiences, and an array of doctor appointments have all been burdens that our family has had to carry through the years. The challenges that accompany their diagnosis are the burdens and so many times I have cried out to God how it isn’t fair. I wanted a motherhood experience without these burdens.

     Our yellow brick road is not meant to be walked alone. Jesus sees the burdens that you carry and He wants the burdens brought to Him. Paul (the author of the book of Galatians in the Bible) asks us to carry each other’s burdens. When God spoke to me about this verse He showed me a beautiful vision of my seven-year-old carrying fine china to the table. He asked me, “Would you let your daughter Hannah carry this porcelain fine china to the table?” The answer was of course, “no.” He then asked me, “Would she even know where to put it on the table?” Again, the answer was, “no”. I love my daughter, but I would never let her carry something so precious to the table and trust she knew where to place the set.

First of all, the set is too heavy for her to carry by herself. Secondly, I can’t expect her to be able to carry something so precious as she doesn’t have the balance and sense of responsibility yet. Also, she lacks the direction that is needed for this task. She is an amazing little girl but isn’t suited for this mission quite yet. I need to be able to trust Hannah with carrying the napkins to the table before I trust her with the porcelain cups that could shatter all over the floor.

Ladies, God was showing me that He views our burdens as porcelain. Let’s think about this fine china for a second. The financial burdens from the medical bills are the plates. The fear of the future is the cups, the doctors’ appointments are the silverware, the anger from the challenges we see our kiddos endure is the teapot. All of our burdens make up a set. When not handled with care these burdens can shatter us like porcelain that falls to the ground. 

For the longest time, I asked the wrong people to help carry this fine china set with me. My set kept breaking because I kept looking to the wrong people to help me carry it. God needs our burdens on His table. We are asked to help others carry burdens. This also means we are asked to let others in to help us carry our burdens, but we need to be intentional about this. 

The people that we ask to carry these burdens need to know where God’s table is. They need a sense of direction so when you feel lost, they know where to put the plates. They need to be able to move. Sometimes it’s easy to hold onto our hurt and become overwhelmed standing in place. A friend called to carry these burdens knows that they are called to carry, not stand-still. And they need to have room in their hands for the extra plates they will need to carry. If they have many burdens of their own, then it may be difficult to take on more plates at this time, and it would be a great opportunity for you to pray that God would bring them others to carry their burdens with them, or it may be an opportunity for you to add one of their plates to your collection as you are headed to the same place (God’s table). 

In the same note let’s also be mindful of the burdens we are helping others carry. Let’s help our sisters carry their burdens to God’s table. As we help them on their journey let’s be conscious of the direction we are headed as we carry them to our creator. God put it on my heart as I was writing this section that helping a sister carry a burden is one of His mission’s of loving, serving, and extending grace. As we help carry plates for our sisters, let’s carry them with His hands and His heart. Let’s not forget the way to God’s table, and let’s be intentional in every step that their burdens are like porcelain and should be handled with care.

The goal is carrying our burdens towards Jesus, and you aren’t meant to do this alone. His table is the only table prepared for such fine china. I believe that even though our burdens can be fragile they are painted with beautiful designs from the journey in which they landed in our hands. Not everyone carries the same teapot as you. One thing though that we all have in common is that when our burdens are carried to God’s table, He can turn them to blessings. Sometimes the most challenging burdens we face become our biggest testimonies for His Kingdom. We get to experience Him receiving our burdens as we receive His rest. Every time we carry a burden for a brother or a sister we fulfill the law of Christ and every time we allow a sister or brother to help us carry our burdens we allow them to fulfill the law of Christ. God asked that I attach a prayer to this one. My hope is in Him and I believe His hope is that your heart will receive this prayer and that you would enter into conversation with Him about the burdens you have. God wants to use your burdens. As you place them on His table watch as He takes them and uses them for your good and His glory. Let Him fill that empty fragile teapot with His faithfulness and His provision. He delights in you and He is just waiting for your burdens to overflow with His blessings. One more thing He is asking me to write… When He receives your teapot, He knows how to fill it with the tea of His faithfulness and He knows where to pour it! Sometimes the tea He puts in your teapot is actually meant for your sister to taste. For example, the burdens that I have faced as a special needs mom have now become the best cup of tea for other moms to taste God’s never failing love. As I am able to speak to others about the porcelain set that found its way into my hands, others get to hear of the many and mighty ways God has cast out fear, met every need, and carried our family through hardships. Carrying your burdens to Him will result in Him carrying you. Let’s have a tea party with God today! Let’s carry our burdens together and let Him give us rest as He prepares the table for us and fills our cups until they runneth over with His love, faithfulness, and provision.

     A prayer for all of my sisters-

            Heavenly Father, we are your daughters and we trust you. We know you see our burdens and we know you have entrusted another one of your daughters to help us carry them to you. If there is someone in our life that you have called to help us on our journey of carrying burdens to you, I ask that you put their names on our hearts. If we do not have someone at this time to help us, I ask you that you bring us someone. God, we can’t carry these on our own. We need a sister in Christ with direction to help us bring these to you every day to set them at your table. God our burdens are safe with you. Show us, God, how to find your table every day. Use our burdens as a way to testify your goodness. Nothing is wasted with you Lord, you use everything we bring to you. We love you, Lord. In Jesus name, Amen. 

Writing for Jesus & Dwelling in Him,

Mattie Book

( If you find yourself inspired or feel called to write a testimony of God’s faithfulness in your life I would love to hear from you. I believe that God would love to use Dwell at the Well to be a place for many stories of His faithfulness. Email me at dwellatthewell@yahoo.com)

FILL IT TO THE BRIM

Audio Version: FILL IT TO THE BRIM by Mattie Book

For as long as I can remember I have always been afraid of running out of something. When I was younger I feared I would run out of friends and approval. In college, I feared I would run out of the mental capacity to study for another nursing exam. As a newlywed, I often feared we would run out of money. When I became a mother this scarcity mindset really surfaced. I found myself in chains of anxiety every day that we would run out of something. I just lived in this fear of running out and not having enough, which now I realize was keeping me from really living at all. God is super kind though so He brought this to my attention and asked me to spend some time with Him in John 2. He needed me to see what running out could look like.

John 2: 1-3NIV On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” So three verses in and we see that something has run out. When God sent me to John 2, He really wasn’t wasting any time. The wine ran out and Mary went to Jesus. A soft whisper filled my heart when I read this and the Holy Spirit said, “When you run out, run to me.” Mary (mother of Jesus) could have “said” to a friend ohhh no we ran out of wine, she could have “said” to the servants ohhh no we ran out of wine, but she didn’t, she went straight to Jesus. He was her first stop when the wine ran out. I want Him to be mine too.

John 2:4-5NIV “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” As I read this Jesus put on my heart that sometimes my timing and His timing are very different. In verses 4-5 we see that Jesus tells His mom that it’s not His time yet. What does Mary do at this moment? Does she pout and throw a fit? Does she go to someone else because Jesus wouldn’t deliver at the moment she may have wanted? Nope, she gathers the servants and she instructs them to obey Jesus. She is preparing for His timing, and she is leading others to His presence. Mary was not controlled by panic or fear when the wine ran out because she knew who to run to. She was so steady as she waited for His timing, and she used the minutes leading up to His time to get ready for Him to deliver! God knew that I needed to see this. He needed me to understand that just because my timing and His timing aren’t always the same, the time in between my request and His deliverance matters! He needed me to see that when He says “Mattie not right now”, I say “Okay God who am I inviting to you right now and what work do you want me doing for the Kingdom while I wait?” Sisters, this time matters!

John 2:6-7NIV Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. One of the gifts God has given me is the ability to un-layer scripture. He brings to life the intentional details that often go unnoticed. I love sharing this gift. So as you see I bolded the words “so they filled them to the brim”. It’s intentional and if you have your Bible out, go highlight it. It matters. When I read this God spoke to me again and said, “they filled them to the brim.” The problem was a lack of wine not a lack of water. Can you imagine the servants as they received this request from Jesus? They needed more wine, yet a man who wasn’t even their master was requesting they fill these jars. They held 20-30 gallons of water. That is surely a task, yet they filled them and they filled them to the brim, the point of almost overflow. God needed me to see this and reflect on this. When Jesus asked the servants to fill the jars they didn’t almost fill them to the top. My heart needed to align with the obedience of the servants from this passage. That even when I don’t understand why Jesus asks me to do something, I do it and I do it to the brim. I don’t let discouragement or anger from being told “not now Mattie” prevent me from filling the jars He’s asked me to fill.

John 2: 8-10NIV Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink, but you have saved the best till now.” Once again we see the obedience of the servants as they obeyed Jesus’s command to deliver the wine to the bridegroom. Even though they didn’t know how the water turned to wine would taste, they trusted the one that instructed them. God needed me to see that out of the servants’ obedient hands, a miracle was delivered. Jesus loves to use our hands.

Jesus used the hands of the servants to fill the jars with water and He used their hands to deliver the wine. Their obedience to the fill the jars to the brim led to that much more of an abundance of wine. Imagine if they had stopped filling those jars when they were almost full. They would have missed out on a lot of wine, and not just any wine, but the BEST wine.

John 2:11NIV What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. God needed to show me that sometimes running out of something can actually lead to His glory being revealed to others.

Please also note: When Mary went to Jesus because the wine had run out, she went to Him on the behalf of someone else. It wasn’t her wedding that ran out of wine. She went to Him for a miracle for someone else’s wedding. She didn’t fear the lack of wine because she knew how to find the one that replenishes. She knew how to find Jesus. When we see our sisters in Christ struggling, when we see them run out of something, let’s be sisters that find Jesus first. Mary was a woman that didn’t need to see the wine to know it was on the way. She just knew she needed to find Jesus because He is the way! He’s still the way. Let’s live for our sisters that way. Let’s run to Him for them when they run out.

Scarcity mindset and obedience (when it doesn’t make sense) are things I have struggled with. God is gentle though and constantly pursuing me. He goes through the layers of my heart as He brings layers of scripture alive to heal the areas of my heart that need to be healed. Tossing the scarcity mindset is a layer of my heart that needed to be addressed. I’m grateful that He replaced that layer of fear with layers of John 2, a story of His faithfulness and deliverance.

I believe that God put a lot of this on my heart to remind us that when we run out of something we can run to Him. It’s an invitation that is extended to all of us. He doesn’t want us to fear running out of something, but be excited to experience Him when we do. He wants us to trust His timing even when it’s not ours. I believe He wants us to lead others to Him in those times of waiting and instruct them well. To be steady in Him as we get ready for His timing. I believe He wants to use the hands of His servants to fill the jars and deliver His miracles. I believe He wants His servants to fill it to the brim, and I believe when we run out of something its an opportunity for others to see deliverance through Him!

Written in Love, Mattie

My Samaria

Audio Version “My Samaria” by Mattie Book

Welcome to Dwell at the Well. I once read an essay called, “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Perl Kingsley. It was beautifully written to describe what it’s like to be a parent of a child who has special needs. Emily describes it as expecting a trip to Italy. You buy the guide books and get excited to board the plane, but when the plane lands the flight attendant comes on the speaker and says, “Welcome to Holland.” Immediately you panic because you aren’t supposed to be there, you were supposed to land in Italy. Eventually, you meet new people and get new guide books. For the rest of your life, you will see people come in and out of Italy and you will always grieve the fact that you never made it there, but if you spend your whole life grieving the loss of not making it to Italy then you will never be able to enjoy the simple joys of Holland. I did my best to paraphrase, but the essay written by Emily is so incredible I recommend it to everyone. It can be found at (https://www.emilyperlkingsley.com/welcome-to-holland).

When I read this essay it was the first time that I felt a part of the world that I was in, and it was the first time I knew how to describe the journey of having children with special needs. I knew the place I was in and it was called Holland.
A couple of years after I read this poem God gave me a job to do. He started pouring words into my heart for the women in Holland. He literally woke me up one morning and spoke to me and then said, “now go write this down for the women in Holland.” It was the first time I had even remembered that essay in quite some time. I started writing all that God was showing me, and in three months I had finished a book. A beautiful devotional to mothers living in Holland. It’s currently in the process of being published as I write this. As much as my heart was overjoyed for completing this project, I was going through an internal spiritual struggle. I kept going to God and asking, “God are you sure?” “Are you sure God that you want me to do this?” “God I feel so unworthy to do this, I am by no means the perfect mom.” “I am flawed, I have a colorful past, and I still lose my patience daily.”
As I was bringing these questions to God, He was bringing a vision to me. I kept seeing a sketch of a woman at a well. I kept seeing her sit alone with an empty water jug. The vision grew and I then saw the well with bricks, bricks that had names on them. The names were the books of the Bible. The vision continued to grow and I saw the well overflowing. And then the vision grew one last time, the words “Dwell at the Well” were sketched above the image of the women at the well. I decided to take a trip to John 4, as I believed God wanted to speak to me through the story of the women at the well.
John 4 is packed with goodness. I love John 4:1-2 NIV (“Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although, in fact, it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.”). The disciples were doing the work and Jesus was getting the glory. The Pharisees were hearing about the momentum of Jesus by the work that the disciples were doing. I want to live in a way that when others see me, they see Him. I want to serve that way. I want to love that way. I want to write that way. My desire is for others to meet Him when they meet me.
As I continued reading through John 4, God’s words began aligning with the vision I received, and His words took root in my heart. I saw this woman with a broken past and an empty jug approach Jesus. Jesus knew that this woman’s past wasn’t perfect, yet, He asked her for a drink. Many people in her town probably saw her as unworthy, yet, Jesus saw her worthy of serving Him water. She questioned Jesus because she knew that they were from two different places and she couldn’t understand why He would ask her for a drink. Jesus uses her questioning as an opportunity to invite her to the living water. The water that doesn’t lead to thirst, but leads to eternal life. John 4:14 NIV states, “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Notice the word “welling.”
Okay, so this woman and Jesus continue conversing and we find out in John 4:17 & 18 that the Samaritan Woman is honest with Jesus, and Jesus affirms her honesty as well as tells her about her past. He does it in a way though that doesn’t lead to shame, but seems to leads to excitement and wonder. We know this because scripture doesn’t tell us that this woman left burdened or upset, it doesn’t tell us that she left him feeling unworthy. Scripture tells us that she stays for more conversation. A conversation where she learns truth about worship and that the man she was conversing with was the Messiah. So at this point, we know that this woman who came to the well alone was worthy of serving Jesus water, worthy of receiving His water that would lead to eternal life, AND worthy of conversing with Him. When Jesus declared to her that He was the Messiah, He was taking the time to share with her who He was because she was worthy.
After their conversation, this woman left her empty water jug at the well and went back to the village. Her heart was overflowing after her encounter with Jesus and she had to share her experience with the people in her village. “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. (John 4:29-30 NIV). Her testimony led to the village extending an invitation to the Messiah. Also note, when she told them that this man told her everything she ever did, it wasn’t said with her head down and full of shame. It was said with excitement and wonder- full of invitation. “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” (John 4: 39-42 NIV)
The woman at the well used her testimony as an invitation for others to encounter Jesus. She didn’t persuade them or try to convince them, she just invited them. Once again we see this woman with a broken past worthy of serving Jesus, and sisters she wasn’t just worthy, I think she was chosen. When Jesus stopped at Jacob’s Well that day I believe He was waiting for her. I believe He wanted her to know who He was and He wanted her to never thirst again. Only Jesus can take a broken past and an empty jug and turn it into an overflow of eternal life.
As I spent time journeying through John 4 I was lavished in love as God began to whisper the answers that my heart was searching for. He said, “Holland is your Samaria.” God loves the women in Holland. It was there that He dwelled with me alone and gave me vision. I am like the woman at the well. I am flawed and many times I have felt unworthy, but in those moments I am reminded of my encounters with Jesus. I dwell with Him at the well that never runs dry. The well that overflows with love, truth, and grace. He has put me on a mission to invite the women in Holland to His well and to carry the living water back to the ones that aren’t ready yet to come. Using my story to testify His faithfulness to bring Him glory. To be an inviter and a truth-teller. Although my mission is for every special needs mom to know they are loved, seen, and invited by the Almighty, I also want to welcome all the other women that aren’t living in Holland. A lot of my testimony is about my time raising children with special needs (arm in arm with Jesus), however, I don’t live in their diagnosis- I live in Him. Wherever your Samaria is, you are welcome here, and you are welcome with Him.

Welcome Sisters, my hope is that you find Dwell at the Well to be a place of empowerment and truth. I am not sure what God has in store for Dwell at the Well, but I am excited to find out. Let’s dwell at His well together, let’s drink from the spring that leads to eternal life.

-Written in love by Mattie Book