This story begins during my college days. College was an interesting season in my life. I had great friends, lived in one of the most beautiful parts of Texas, spent most weekends floating the river, and I did well in school. On the other end of the spectrum, I had a constant feeling of emptiness that I tried to fill up with partying, attention from guys and an eating disorder. I was desperate to find the guy I would marry and be able to start creating a life with. This desperate search for love and acceptance didn’t go over well. I was looking for love in all the wrong places and didn’t hold very high standards for myself. Because of my past, I felt like I was damaged goods and believed I didn’t deserve the best in a relationship. This quest for love turned into a cycle of rejection and heartache that made me feel less and less worthy.
One day I had an emotional breakdown in my car. I felt so alone, hopeless and empty. I knew I was done living the way I had the past 3 years. I cried out to God for the first time and asked him to take away my pain. He was there immediately. I didn’t hear an audible voice or see an angel, but I felt the presence of God so strongly in my little car. I felt surrounded by His love, and a sudden peace came over me. I promised God in that moment that I would stop trying to pursue relationships with guys and I would start getting to know Him. That very weekend I found a church to go to all by myself. Seeking a relationship with God turned out to be exactly what I needed. My emptiness was filled up by the love of my Savior. God built me up and showed me that I was worthy, I was loved, and to Him I was precious.
A few months later my mom was going on and on about this guy my parents had met at our family Thanksgiving. She kept saying that there was something different about this guy and I just had to meet him. At this point I was still swearing off men and really didn’t think letting my mother set me up was the key to happiness. Turns out, my Mom is always right…. We were traveling up to Cheyenne, Wyoming to watch my dad rope at Frontier Days. My mom kept on me that I should meet up with Jeff while we were there. I finally gave in and messaged Jeff (who had been sending me messages since Thanksgiving) to let him know we would be in town. He quickly replied with a rendezvous spot for that very night.
My sister and I drove over to the Albertson’s parking lot Jeff had requested we meet him at. I was very skeptical as we pulled in. Jeff was already there and stepped out of his truck with a big grin as we parked. I know it sounds weird, but I could tell from the moment we made eye contact that this was the man I was going to marry. It was like God was telling me Jeff was the reason all those other relationships didn’t work. It wasn’t because there was something wrong with me; it was because God had someone so much better in mind. God knew I needed to find Him before I would be ready to find the man he had planned for me. God waited on me through all of my mess. He never gave up on me and He was there with open arms when I came running back to him.
God’s plan is always better than our own. Your story may look very different then mine in the end, but one thing will always be true. God will never give up on me or you.
Spoiler Alert: Jeff and I didn’t ride off into a beautiful sunset of a courtship. We had heck working out our differences and making it through a long distance relationship. The story just begins here, come back next week to see how it all went down.
Bombcyclone. That is what they called the blizzard that hit last Wednesday. We had plenty of heads up that this was going to be a big storm, but I honestly had no idea what we were in for. We spent Tuesday getting prepared.
Jeff and Garrett got pens ready so we could get all the calves in a barn and all the cows up into a windbreak for protection. I went to town and got us all stocked up on groceries so we had plenty of food and water and fruit snacks to ride out the storm. We went to bed Tuesday night not knowing what we would be waking up to. Wednesday morning was a blessing. The storm hadn’t yet hit so Jeff was able to go check on everything again and help his dad and brother for a little while before things got bad. Jeff picked the girls and I up on his way back so we could go lock my horses up about 8:30 am. The storm blew in right as we got to the horse pasture. It was crazy how it went from drizzling rain to blowing snow in a matter of minutes. I could barely see the horses coming. They were as freaked out as I was as they came running into the barn already pelted with snow. We quickly got them taken care and headed home. Driving back to the house, we couldn’t see more than a few feet ahead of us at a time, but we made it home safe and sound and were happy to have all of our animals taken care of.
Everything was fine and dandy the rest of the morning. Sure the wind was howling outside and the snow was blowing like crazy, but I was getting my chili ingredients out and about to start a Netflix movie. Then the power went out…. Uh oh. I didn’t prepare for that. Suddenly I felt a little panicked. I started going through the groceries I had stocked up on the day prior and realized they all required electricity to cook. In my 5 years of living in Wyoming I had never had to ride out a blizzard with no electricity, and this was first big storm we had been through in our new house. Quickly it occurred to me that we were not very prepared for an actual crisis. What if we didn’t get electricity for a couple days? Would our house stay warm enough with just our gas fireplace going? I hadn’t thought ahead to fill up baths or pots with water. We didn’t have a back up power source. We had about 3 small candles to our name, and one flashlight that worked about half the time you needed it to. I did have plenty of bottled water and enough goldfish and tortilla chips to keep us from getting hungry, but all in all I felt pretty unprepared for a disaster.
I was so relieved when the power came back on a few hours later and then stayed on all night. I am so thankful for the people that risked their safety and went out in the terrible storm to fix the power lines. They really are heroes.
The bomb cyclone blizzard wasn’t easy to get through. It was hard on livestock and the ranchers that work so hard to take care of them. Thank God it didn’t last very long. Everything settled down Thursday mid-morning and the sun came out. Through this experience I learned a lot about how to prepare for a storm, and I have a list of things we need to improve on for the next one.
Exhausted by the events of the week and not feeling overly
creative, I asked the Lord what He wanted me to write about in my blog this
week. The first thing that popped into my head was to write about preparing for
the storms. Man, what an incredible lesson He was teaching me when I didn’t
even realize it. Preparing for real life physical storms is a lot like
preparing for the spiritual ones. It all comes down to a moment of truth when
you realize weather or not you are ready to face something difficult. After all God never promised life would be
easy. John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may
have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome
We can have peace even in the hard times if we keep God
central in our lives. He is our source- our “super generator” that will never
stop working. If we are connected to him we will always have light, strength, hope
and peace no mater how dark or devastating our circumstances may be.
Isaiah 54:10 promises, “Though the mountains be shaken and
the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my
covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord who has compassion on you.”
We must be constantly preparing for the storms. It is not a
question of if, but when they will strike. God’s word and time spent in prayer
are our most valuable resources. There is one thing even a girl from Texas
knows you are supposed to do before a big snowstorm: Fill up your gas tank. So
how you do you make sure your spiritual tank is full? You pour God’s word into
it. You make sure it never gets low by studying and memorizing and storing His
word in your heart, and by spending time thanking Him for his faithfulness and
asking him for protection.
My prayer for you dear friend is that you are filled with
the peace that comes from knowing that know matter what storms you have to face
in this life, whether they be physical or spiritual, God is with you.
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your
staff, they comfort me.
Thank you for visiting my blog. Today I want to share a story that took place almost 4 years ago. This is the birth story of our first daughter, Grace Josephine Berry (aka Gracie Jo, aka JoJo) Disclaimer: If you are pregnant you may want to come back and read this one after you give birth. I know I hated when people shared their horrible delivery experiences with me when I was expecting. Also, anyone else that doesn’t want to know personal details of my birth story, here is your chance to duck out and catch me on the next post as well.
The story takes place in March of 2015. It was an abnormally nice week in Wyoming, and I had spent every day walking at the park getting my body ready to deliver it’s first baby. The night of the 17th I woke up and it felt like I had wet my pants a little bit, but the doctor had assured me the day before that if my water broke it would be a huge gush, so I wrote it off as another embarrassing pregnancy moment and went back to bed.
The next morning I woke up and once again it seemed like I had a mini pants wetting episode so I told Jeff about it. He had been with me at the doctor office the day before and reminded me the doctor said we would know when my water broke. I told him I wanted to get checked out anyway, and in true rancher form he said, “Okay. Let me go feed the cows and check everything and then I’ll take you to town.”
He got back about 9:30 and we got ready and drove to town. We both felt silly walking into the doctors’ office and calmly telling them we think my water might of broke. They looked at us like the first time amateurs we were and said they would let the doctors know we wanted to be checked out.
We got to see Dr. Story a few minutes later and he checked to see if I was indeed in labor. He decided to run a couple tests and was back in our room in a matter of minutes. Sure enough, my water had not completely broken, but I was leaking amniotic fluid and there was a risk of infection if we did not get to the hospital quick for delivery.
The moment felt surreal, Jeff and I were excited that we would be meeting our baby girl that day! We drove straight to the hospital, checked in and prepared to deliver our baby girl. The doctor on call that day was Dr. VanKirk. I had never met her before, but I instantly loved her the moment she walked in. She was upbeat and made us feel she had everything under control. We were giddy and excited, not knowing that the experience would go down as one of the worst and best days of our lives.
My body was not in labor even though I was leaking amniotic fluid, so I had to be induced. Since we were now on a time crunch to deliver because of the risk of infection, we had to be pretty aggressive with the meds used to induce me. The contractions came on pretty quickly and they were extremely painful with little to no breaks in between them. I received an epidural about 4pm. After getting the epidural in, I was able to relax and calm down. Unfortunately my body tried to relax a little too much, and my blood pressure dropped so low that I was not pumping enough blood to our baby girl. The baby’s heart rate monitor starting beeping loudly as the nurses and Dr. Vankirk quickly came into our room. I had discussed with Dr. VanKirk early on that I didn’t want to have to do a C-Section. She said we would try an adrenaline shot, but if that didn’t work we would need to go straight in for a C-section. I agreed, my babies well being and safety being my first priority. The adrenaline shot kicked in quickly and baby girl’s heartbeat stabilized. We were all able to take a deep breath and settle in for a few more hours of contractions.
A little bit after 8 pm we had another scare, the same issue we had before of our baby girl’s heartbeat weakening happened again, but this time we completely lost it on the monitor. Dr. Vankirk calmly told me that I would have to deliver my baby right this minute because she was in danger. She yelled out that we needed more nurses in the room and the room filled up with too many medical people to count. Dr. Vankirk stayed calm and in control of the situation, but I could see the urgency in her eyes. Jeff also stayed calm and supportive, but I could tell he was freaking out on the inside. He grabbed my hand. I had multiple nurses on both sides of me holding my legs and feet. I remember in that moment a feeling of extra human strength as I began pushing my baby out with everything I had. Everyone in the room was yelling out encouragement, telling me she was almost out. It took only 3 pushes for me to deliver.
Doctor Vankirk lifted our baby up and was moving to put her on my chest when we all realized she was not in good shape. She was so blue that she was black. She was not making a sound. They cut the cord and immediately took her to the baby incubator to start working on her.
I remember pleading with everyone around me. Asking them, is my baby okay? Is she going to make it? Is my baby all right? Dr. Vankirk told me that for right now she had to work on me, and that my baby was in good hands, but the look on her face expressed her uncertainty.
I looked up at Jeff and he was white as a ghost. He, unlike me, could see everything that was happening to our baby girl as the doctors and nurses worked so hard to get her to breathe. Immediately it hit me. “We have to pray! Jeff, start praying!” Jeff began praying a prayer that I will never forget. I actually remember thinking, “No! don’t pray that!” But I knew the words he spoke were faith filled to a God we trusted with everything.
Jeff prayed, “Father God, we pray right now for our baby girl. We know that she is yours. We know that weather you take her up with you or we get to keep her here with us that she is yours first. We want this baby girl so bad God! We pray your will be done.”
I continued praying as I looked around and noticed a couple of the nurses by me were praying as well! And then we heard it, the beautiful scream of our precious baby girl. God had so clearly moved in that room, he had opened the lungs of our baby. I busted out sobbing, letting myself go when I had been trying so hard to keep it together. We thought we would name our little girl Addison or Avery, but Jeff said right at that moment, “We are naming her Grace.” I was in complete agreement!
Our baby girl was completely fine. She had no health issues at all. They brought her over to me all bundled up and beautiful. Words do not express the love I felt for her and the relief that my baby girl was in my arms and everything was okay.
I share this story for a couple different reasons. First, I share it for myself. I want to document our story so I can always go back and remember the moment that we cried out the God of the Universe and He so clearly moved in that moment to answer our prayer. There is pain in this story, but it is washed away by the joy. I wish in the moment I would of had the same faith and firmness of my Husband to be able to pray God’s will be done no matter what the outcome. My heart breaks for the families that have prayed the same prayer we prayed but didn’t get the answer we got. I know we serve a God that in all things works for the good of those who love HIM, but sometimes His way won’t make sense until we get to be up with Him in heaven and understand that it was the best way. I thank the Lord for every single day I get to spend with the precious babies He has trusted us with. I know we are not promised tomorrow.
Lastly, I hope this story can be of encouragement and attest to the power and love of our God. He heard our cry and He cared about our prayer. He is the God of the entire universe, but He heard the prayer of just two of His children and He was with us. His presence was in that room. He wants to be there when you need Him too. He wants to hold you when you need comfort, He wants to give you strength when your situation seems impossible, He wants to love you when you feel unlovable. He wants to be with you through it all.
I pray that you know your value and how precious you are to our God. Until we meet again,
It’s the morning after Valentine’s Day as I sit here writing this post. Time is moving so quickly. My babies are growing fast. Life feels like a whirlwind, leaving me scrambling to get from one place to the next. I feel the world’s pull on me to do more, to be more. The weight of all my responsibilities build up, And I feel like I can’t keep up.
Then I walk away for a moment, and I open God’s word. The never ending cycle of life’s obligations come to a stop for a few minutes, while I seek wisdom from the perfect words of my savior.
My time with God has not always felt this way. In my early days of becoming a Christ follower, I would open the Bible and be so confused by the words. The Bible seemed too thick, too complicated, and to be honest, too far fetched for me to understand. That is when I learned about the power of Holy Spirit. I would pray for the spirit to give me wisdom and discernment to understand what I was reading. Once I had the help of the Spirit I started to better understand. Messages started to come out of the pages that were so applicable to my every day life. I believe the gift of discerning and understanding the Bible is available for anyone who asks for it. Once you have it, you will not believe the way the Bible comes to life.
The other thing I had trouble with when I first began studying the Bible, was knowing where to begin. My personality caused me to always want to begin at the beginning, in Genesis, therefor there are numerous times when I would set out to read the Bible cover to cover only to get lost and distracted before I reached Exodus, the second book.
My advice for beginners would be to start in the New Testament. The first four books are accounts of the birth, life and death of Jesus written from four different perspectives. They are easy to read and understand, especially with the help of Holy Spirit. These first four books, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John contain the actual words of Jesus. His words are written in red. We have the actual words of our Savior to read and learn from, that in itself is an amazing gift.
When shopping for a Bible there is no shame in finding a version that is easy to read. I would still be lost if I was trying to use the King James version. The version I use and love is the NIV Study Bible. There are many different versions out there to choose from. Lots of these contain commentaries and resources on every page to help you better understand what you are reading. I think the next Bible I buy will be “the Message” version which is probably the closest in translation to our present way of speaking.
That reminds me, a must have for new readers is the YouVersion Bible app. This app is so handy. I prefer doing my daily studies in my real bible that I can hold, but anytime I don’t understand what I am reading, I can pull up my App and read that section in different translations until it makes more sense. The You Version app also is full of reading plans based on topic or plans for reading the Bible cover to cover. It is really an awesome resource!
I know this post may seem elementary and may not apply to everyone that reads, but I truly believe there is upmost importance for every single believer to become experts on the book God has written for us. We must learn for ourselves what God wants to teach us, not just hear secondhand somebody else’s interpretation. Paul tells the Philippians they must “work out their salvation with fear and trembling.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,”
So I urge you to take responsibility. Make it your mission to not only read the Bible, but to know it. Your very salvation, and the salvation of those you love depends on it.
Today I want to get a little deeper with you guys. Now that you know a little more about me and have heard a small part of my story let me get real with you.
I’m terrified that now that I have stepped into my calling, I might fail.
There is a chance that I could start this blog in all the excitement of something new and promising, only to lose interest and drop it like I’ve done with so many things before. I could let God and all the people who have reached out to support me down. I might drop the baton or fall flat on my face. Negative thoughts keep creeping into my consciousness. The worst of them being that nagging voice telling me I’ve been here before and I have given up.
The painful truth is: that voice isn’t lying.
I have taken a step out into my calling then promptly taken three steps back when I realized just how uncomfortable it is to be out of my “comfort zone.” I have heard God call and I have chosen not to answer. I have let the enemy’s deceitful, yet well devised attacks derail my progress. Yes, I have started races and chosen to quit in the middle.
But this time is different.
God has been preparing me for this my entire life. I now understand that every set back was actually a set up. God knew I would get knocked down a few times, but he also knew I would get back up. He saw me defeated, but knew victory was in my future. He will use my story for His glory!
I take the responsibility of living out God’s will for my life very seriously. I know that I am traveling down a narrow path, and it will be no surprise when trouble meets me along my journey. So, what is different this time? Now, I know how to fight! I also know who is fighting on my behalf.
I will put on my armor.
I will rest assured that with God, victory is already mine!
Below, I am going to list some powerful scripture that I have used to draw strength from and understand the battles I am facing.
1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefor to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
Trouble is inevitable:
John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous, do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Romans 8:31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
The Armor of God:
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on into completion at the day of Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Romans 8: 37-38 “No, in all things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I hope you realize that although I am confident in my God, there are times I doubt my qualification for the roles God has called me to fill. However, I take heart in looking back on my journey and on how far God has brought me. In Christ all things are possible. We just have to hold on to His promises and do our best to courageously enjoy the ride!
It’s hard letting go of the people that loved the old you and don’t understand the new “Christian” version you are working so hard to become. I’ve lost friendships, I’ve experienced resistance and disappointment from family members. I’ve had to let go of parts of myself that felt so genuine towards who I am at my core, but didn’t line up to God’s expectations of who I am as His daughter. I’ve had to teach myself how to navigate social situations without the “liquid confidence” that I once relied on. I’ve had to learn that being the slurring, stumbling life of the party isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and just because a group of people begged me to to show up for their entertainment didn’t mean they loved or cared for me the next morning when I sobered up. Giving my life to Jesus was the best decision I have ever made, but it has also been the hardest. Heck, there were even a hand full of times growing up that I became a Christian, the easy way. I asked to be saved and professed my love for my savior, and then went back to life the next Monday like nothing had happened. That was easy. It felt good. But it wasn’t real.
You know it’s real, when it’s hard.
Matthew 5:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
When you give your heart to Jesus and commit your life 100% to living for him, trouble will come. The enemy hates this more than anything, and he will devise a battle plan to hit you where it hurts the worst. But you must press on! You may lose your best friend, you may lose the support of close family, you might be tested in every area of your life, but guess what? God is going to fight every single battle with you. He will meet you every morning. He DELIGHTS IN YOU when you come to him exactly as you are, no make-up, crazy hair, sleep still in your eyes, guzzling a cup of coffee. He is DELIGHTED to be with you. Pretty soon you start seeing glimpses of the absolute beauty of His plan. His will for your life reveals itself slowly and carefully and the goodness and the peace of it will transform you.
Romans 12:2Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world. But be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve God’s will. His good pleasing and perfect will.
So look around sweet sister, it might seem like everything is falling apart, you’ve lost some people who didn’t love the real you in the first place, you’ve got some big battles up ahead you’re going to have to fight, but take heart.
John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
You’ve got a God that wants to walk beside you down the narrow path, and if you look hard enough you realize that there are plenty of people (myself included) looking for a tribe to travel through this crazy life with. Hold on tight to God’s promises and the people who want to be there to cheer the real you on as you travel your unique road.