Thursday, May 15

Angels in the Entryway

Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?  Hebrews 1:14

I was laying on the living room couch, facing the wall, hoping to take a nap when I heard two soft, excited voices.

My twin babies were born 6 weeks early and had just come home from the hospital.  At the time, they were about 2 weeks old.  Elisabeth and Milena were so tiny (3 lb 11 oz and 4 lb 3 oz).  They were laying on their backs in their musical swings.  The music had stopped playing and now they were sleeping soundly.  I could hear their soft breathing as I prayed they would sleep long enough for me to get some rest.  It seemed like they ate constantly and never slept at the same time.  I was very overwhelmed, a brand new mother with twins who had never even held a baby before my own little ones were born.

And then I heard those voices.  At first I thought they were friends coming to visit.  I felt them standing in the entryway near the front door but I didn't want to turn around.  Maybe they would think I was asleep so I could finally get some peace and rest.  I didn't want visitors at a time like then.  I had not even gotten dressed that day. I prayed they would go away.

But the visitors continued talking about the babies.  It's been 6 years since that day but I still remember their voices so clearly--one a male and one a female--talking about how the baby girls were so sweet and perfect.  They talked about how peaceful they looked while they were sleeping.  They went on and on and then I began to get a strange feeling.  How did these visitors get into my house?  The doorbell didn't ring, no one knocked at the door, and I didn't hear my husband let them in.  Suddenly, I felt they were angels.  I was frozen with awe.  If I turned around, what would I see?  I couldn't bring myself to peak so I lay there silently looking at the back of the couch until I no longer heard them talking.  I closed my eyes then and took a much longed-for nap.

When I woke up, I asked my husband who came over earlier and why he let them in when I was trying to get some sleep and still had my pjs on.

He said, "No one came over all day."

I asked, "Didn't Sandra and Bradley come by?  I thought I heard Sandra's voice."  Sandra has a very nice, clear voice.  The female voice I heard sounded a little like her's.

"No," my hubby said.  "Sandra and Brad didn't come over, or anyone else."

I told him about the people I heard talking and what they said.  Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I knew I hadn't imagined them.

When Mike convinced me that no one had come over, I knew I had heard angels.  I didn't tell anyone except my husband at the time because people get funny about "angels" sometimes.  Much later, I read the bible verse above and thought, "This is biblical.  Angels are real, they are sent by God to protect and watch over us, and if any of my fair readers don't believe what I know is true, that's okay. I'm going to write it anyway." 

Hearing angels talking about Beth and Milena gave me a sense of peace then and still does now.  I think to myself, if these certain angels were appointed to watch over Beth and Milena, they must be watching over Sammy and Lulu, too.  As a young mother, I felt so overwhelmed and battled depression for a very long time.  But there was a God in Heaven who was watching over me and holding me in His hand.  I didn't often have anyone to help baby-sit or keep me company but, just as God's word says, He had appointed angels to help me watch over my babies when no one else could and He had used them to pull me out of the darkest time in my life.

Because you have made the Lord… your dwelling place... He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.  Psalm 91: 9, 11

Lord, help us to make You our dwelling place, that we'll rest in You and find comfort in You when we can't find it in anyone else.  Help us to never doubt any part of Your word, but to embrace it with everything we are.  In Jesus wonderful name, Amen.

Thursday, May 1

God WILL Give You More Than You Can Handle!

“Wow,” someone said to me as I dropped my twin babies off at the church nursery, “You have twins. God didn't give me twins because He knew I couldn't handle them. God will never give you more than you can handle.”

I didn't say anything. Those days, tears were always stuck in my throat, threatening to spill over as depression constantly clouded my mind. What does “handle” mean, anyway? I thought bitterly.

So many people told me the same thing but I knew it wasn't true. Unless I was “handling it” when I threw vases and broke them against the wall, thanking God I didn't hurt my babies during my fits of rage. Unless “handling it” was screaming (yes, cursing, even) at my husband or babies who cried all night. Unless “handling it” was running outside and slamming the door and wishing I had my own car so I could run away. Unless “handling it” was crying into my pillow every night and wishing I could die.

When I first became a Christian, 5 years before depression set in and challenged everything I thought was true about God, I argued with a college professor that “God will never give you more than you can handle.” He said, “Well, Celena, there is a verse that says 'God won't tempt you beyond what you're able to endure' but 'enduring' is much different from 'handling.'”

To handle something means you've got it under control. While the world assumed I was handling being a new mother of twins, I was actually flying off the handle just about every other day. Webster's dictionary described me well: “flying off the handle: going into a state of sudden & violent anger.” That was me alright.

For about a year and a half, I struggled with post partum depression. I think it's important to talk about because when I was going through it, I was very ashamed and thought no other Christian ever struggled with it. I didn't tell my doctor because she knew I was a Christian and I wanted to have “a good testimony.” I'd heard countless preachers say Christians shouldn't need medication for depression. Please don't think I'm saying whether I believe that or not: I will never tell someone what to do in that situation. I made it through without killing myself but that was about as close as I came to “handling it.” But that's me, and it's not you... or someone you love who's fighting with all they've got just to make it to the next day.

When I was fighting depression, the only book in the bible that could begin to console me was the book of Job because he questioned God the same way I did. Job said things like,

“I was at ease, but He shattered me.”
“Why do You hide Your face and consider me Your enemy?”
“Though He slay me, yet will I serve Him.”

I would lock myself in the bathroom, the only place I could be alone & cry out to God with a heart like Job's:

“God, why won't you deliver me?”
“Do you hate me? Why do you hate me? What did I do wrong?”

And He spoke to my heart the words He spoke to Peter, “You don't want to go away, also, do you?”

And I cried out, even though everything within me was certain He had something against me for some reason... that He hated me even!, “Lord, where else can I go?! I know that You have the words of eternal life. I believe and know that you're God. There's nowhere else to go!”

So... I endured. I endured. I didn't handle anything. I couldn't handle it on my own. I couldn't even “handle it” as I prayed and sought God. But I realized how much I needed Him more than I ever realized it before. When I first prayed at the altar 5 years before all my real problems began, I was a very happy sinner. Yep, sinners can be happy! I knew something was missing, and when I prayed to ask Jesus to come into my heart, that was just the icing on the cake. I knew He died for my sins but it was so superficial. Jesus was my buddy, my real life genie in a bottle. But when He finally “gave me more than I could handle” and I realized how much I really, truly needed Him, He became my Father and my Savior, the One I could never run away from... no matter how bad it got.

So is God not God because He gave me more than I could handle?

I believe He gave me more than I could handle so I would understand that I'm still a sinner who needs His grace. Before I fought depression and anger, I didn't realize I had that potential for such anger inside me. My faith was superficial. For 5 years, I had a life of ease, just like Job did before calamity struck. I loved God because He was good to me, because He blessed me. I didn't realize that even if He never did anything else for me, dying for me was enough.

I am so thankful that my children will never remember that I used to scream at them, cuss at them, throw things, and slam doors. I'm so thankful that I never hurt them. I'm so thankful that I can smile a sincere smile and can laugh so hard my face hurts. For almost 2 years, I wondered if I would ever laugh a real laugh again! My friends tease me when I laugh so hard I snort, but I love when that happens because every single time I do God reminds me there was a time I thought I'd never be happy enough to laugh that hard again.

I am so glad I'm not there now, but I wouldn't go back and change it for anything. And I think it's worth mentioning that God truly did deliver me from anger and post partum depression. If you've struggled with it one time, you don't have to struggle with it again. When I had Sammy, depression didn't even try to sneak back in. I was truly delivered from it and God blessed me so much by giving me such great joy with my final baby whose name means, “heard by God.” God did hear my prayer, and He didn't answer it the way I thought He would and deliver me right when I asked... but He did a more glorious work in me than I ever would've thought to ask for by making me “endure.”

And so I praise His name and I thank Him so, so much for being a God who sees the end from the beginning and will give someone more than she can handle!