Those two words string together to make one of the most recognizable names in Christian music today. Natalie is not only talented and gifted, she is also authentic and genuine in her ministry. These characteristics makes this mother, wife and “real” woman so appealing to thousands of men and women the world over.
I’ve watched her from afar as she has balanced her full personal life and ministry with grace and dignity and couldn’t wait to read what she’d share as a guest blogger today. And, of course, she didn’t disappoint. Her words are vulnerable and captivating. . . just like her music.
Just like her.
You’ll want to read with a latte in one hand. . and a tissue in the other. Then, mark your calendar to download her newest CD that releases October 15th. The title cut called “Hurricane” is amazing!
After being told we would never conceive a child naturally, my husband and I began the long, hard road of fertility treatments. By the grace of God, we were blessed with a two-for-one miracle, and gave birth to twin daughters in 2007. So imagine our shock and awe, when 3 years later, after no medical treatments, we were pregnant again!
I still feel so ashamed to admit that this time I was not celebrating. This was the miracle I never asked for and I felt ill-equipped and not up to the task. Throw in the shame and guilt I was experiencing, knowing that my friends always said when they had a baby there was an instant “how-could-I-have-ever-thought-I-was-complete-without-you” love-connection that I wasn’t feeling. Instead, I felt the dark storm-clouds of depression closing in.
“You weren’t even supposed to be able to have children”, the voices would whisper.
“You are selfish and ungrateful”, the voices continued.
“Do you know how many women are begging for this kind-of miracle? You are a disgrace as a mother”, the voices kept on.
I listened to those voices, and struggled with post-partum depression for 18 months. Worsened by the fact that I was a Christian artist and had this idea I was supposed to have my life together, I struggled quietly and privately, believing the lie that if I gave voice to my pain, I would bring shame on my faith.
The storms continued. I found out my nephew was struggling with heroine addiction.
Heroine? Yes, heroine. My family was heart-broken, struggling, wrestling with tough questions and begging God for a miracle. A month after this discovery, my father was diagnosed with cancer. Yes, I was feeling pounded by the storms of life.
One morning I found myself in Matthew 14, reading a story I’ve known since childhood, but the Lord was so sweet to me that day as He allowed me to see it with different eyes. Jesus went to the hills to pray, but he insisted the disciples went ahead of him in a boat, and Jesus being Jesus, and knowing all, he knew a storm would come and the winds would beat against that boat the disciples were in, but he sent them anyway.
I imagine the disciples were afraid, as they were far out at sea and the storm continued to rage. Then they look up and there is a guy standing on the water. What? I would’ve hit the floor of that boat so fast. The Bible tells us that the disciples were terrified. Peter, doubting that it was in fact Jesus, asked the Lord to make him walk on the water.
Then Peter steps out of the boat. In verse 30, as Peter takes his eyes off of the Lord and begins to focus on the strong winds, he began to sink. Then the Bible says, “instantly, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.” (verse 31) Notice that it doesn’t say instantly the storm stopped. No, the storm was still raging. But it says that Jesus didn’t hesitate to reach out his hand.
I had been so busy looking out at the crashing waves of my circumstances, consumed with looking out at my sea of difficulties. But Jesus was saying, “just look up. I’m reaching out my hand.” Reading this story from Matthew 14 reminded me that just because Jesus showed up at the boat, the storm didn’t stop. I had been begging God to calm the storms in my life, but He was trying to teach me that he would find me in the middle of them.
I love this quote from Gideon, by our friend Priscilla:
“God is more interested in changing your heart than He is your circumstances.”
God began to do a healing work in my heart that day. The depression didn’t immediately lift. The problems didn’t disappear. But I became more aware of the presence of the Almighty God, who wasn’t outside of my storm waiting for me to come to Him, but he was in the eye of the hurricane with me, carrying me as we walked through the storm together.
I wrote a song that day which simply says:
“Step out on the edge, Don’t be afraid of it
And when you feel the rain, call His name
He’ll find you in the hurricane.”
No matter what seemingly insurmountable difficulties you are facing, stop looking out, and just look up. He’s reaching for you.