Caly turns two next week. As all mommies say, “It feels like yesterday” that I brought my sweet girl home from the hospital. And, well, to be quite honest, it feels like yesterday that my friend “postpartum depression” also followed me home from the hospital. (Maybe I should deliver somewhere else with my next one!)
Having watched my mom and sisters all have babies and not experience postpartum depression, I was completely
unprepared for the three months following Caly’s birth. My c-section did slow down recovery a bit, but even after most of the physical pain was gone, I was still feeling tired and rundown. I would wake up each morning thinking that I was feeling better only to find myself exhausted and overwhelmed a few hours into my day. Tears were my constant companion. This continued for about three months and then, as quickly as it came, it left.
In the same way, the first trimester of my current pregnancy has brought similar challenges. Along with the vomiting and exhaustion, I have experienced that familiar “down” feeling, just like with my friend postpartum depression. All someone has to do is look my way and I start to cry. Boy, I don’t sound like someone that you want to hang out with right now. (Hee-hee!)
So what’s a girl to do? You may not be experiencing postpartum depression or pregnancy blues, but perhaps PMS or menopause is where your struggle is. For me, one of the most encouraging things that my mom told me after Caly was born was…"THIS IS NORMAL." Yes, it’s common. As it says in 1 Corinthians 10:13:“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” These hormonal challenges are a temptation—not an excuse to sin, mind you—but a significant temptation to be sure. And we are not alone in this struggle. Women all over the world experience the same things. We aren’t the first and we certainly won’t be the last.
I don’t know about you, but this truth brings comfort to my heart. I’m not some strange person experiencing a unique trial with no known cause. The Lord allows this and He will grant all of the grace needed to endure.
In fact, that’s exactly what 1 Corinthians 10:13 goes on to promise: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Our Lord does not stick us in the middle of hormonal craziness and leave us alone to find our way out of the maze. No, He graciously provides a way of escape so we can endure it. He provides a way of escape so we can rejoice in Him (even when it’s the last thing we feel like doing). He also provides a way of escape so we can serve others (even when it’s the last thing we feel like doing!). We’ll spend the next few days considering some of the “ways of escape” God has so graciously provided.
For me, God was faithful to help me endure in the months following Caly’s birth. That same help is here in the midst of morning sickness and pregnancy hormones. And I know He will be faithful once again in the months following the appearance of this next little one. I won’t be surprised this time. No, I’m planning on welcoming “postpartum depression” home right along with Baby #2 because I know that the Lord will grant me the strength to endure. That knowledge will dry up a few of those tears!
We know they’re coming (most of the time, anyway): PMS, morning sickness, postpartum depression, menopause. Yet these predictable, physical trials of a woman’s life still tend to catch us off guard. When they show up, we feel like we’ve been hit from behind and struggle to keep steady amidst physical and emotional challenges.
Last week, my girls and I spent an evening answering questions from the wives of the men in the Sovereign Grace Pastors College. We had a blast with these sweet ladies. The final question was from a woman who was pregnant again and dreading the inevitable postpartum feelings of sadness she knew would follow the birth of her baby. She humbly asked for counsel. How could she glorify God and serve her family in this difficult season?
This wise woman understood the truth of Proverbs 22:3: “The prudent [woman] sees danger and hides [herself], but the simple [women] go on and suffer for it.” She saw danger ahead and by seeking counsel, she was running to hide herself from it.
For the next few days we’re going to talk about some of the ways we can all prepare for the “dangers” of postpartum depression, PMS, or other physical difficulties. So no matter what time of the month it is for you, we hope you’ll join us for a little “PMS Prep.” You know it’s coming. But take heart: God’s grace is already here to help us prepare to glorify Him and serve others. Let’s consider how.
So the girls told me that it was time to give a little pregnancy update. I haven’t been to the doc yet, but still plenty to tell. Those online pregnancy calculators put me at 11 weeks with a due date of August 28.
I thought I was sick with Caly, but this baby is looking to beat all of her records. I’m much more sick and much more tired. Fun, huh? Kinda dragging around a bit these days. With Caly, the sickness stopped right at 12 weeks, and I have already made it clear to this baby that the same will be true again. No exceptions.
My first craving was broccoli. Steamed with some lemon and butter. (My mouth is watering right now!) Too bad it was late at night and I was already in bed. I have also been craving cream puffs (but only a special kind that my mom makes—hint, hint!), egg and cheese sandwiches, and Chinese food.
No “feeling” yet on whether it’s a boy or a girl. Everyone is having fun guessing, but that’s what you are supposed to do. I’ll be sure to share the news when we find out.
More “baby watch” soon. Thanks for all of your encouragement and most of all, thanks for your prayers.
“Over the course of time, preaching the gospel to myself every day has made more of a difference in my life than any other discipline I have ever practiced. I find myself sinning less, but just as importantly, I find myself recovering my footing more quickly after sinning, due to the immediate comfort found in the gospel. I have also found that when I am absorbed in the gospel, everything else I am supposed to be toward God and others seems to flow out of me more naturally and passionately. Doing right is not always easy, but it is never more easy than when one is breathing deeply the atmosphere of the gospel.”
How’s that for incentive to preach the gospel to yourself every day? The author of these words has written a book that’s been published just in time for our little series. We’ve mentioned it before, but now it is officially in print: Milton Vincent’s A Gospel Primer for Christians. This little book is “a tool designed merely to get you launched in preaching the gospel to yourself and rehearsing its benefits.” And we’ve found no more helpful tool for digging the truths of the gospel from the soil of Scripture.
There are thirty-one reasons to rehearse the gospel daily, and “A Gospel Narrative” in both prose and poetry. Best of all, each page is more than half-filled with Scriptures that expound the gospel.
As Mr. Vincent says, preaching the gospel to yourself is the discipline that will make the biggest difference in your life. And A Gospel Primer will get you started.
We told you we’d answer this question today, but instead, we are going to punt to Dad, who already explained how-to in his book, Living the Cross Centered Life. So here are five suggestions to help you begin today, to preach the gospel to yourself every day:
Memorize the Gospel—“All God’s promises commands are precious and powerful, but those verses that tell us of the Son of God who gave His life in our place are the most precious and powerful of all.” You can begin by memorizing verses such as 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 8:31, Isaiah 53:3-6
Pray the Gospel—“The gospel should be at the center of your prayer life because it makes it possible for us to approach God.”
Review How the Gospel Has Changed You—“For Christians, one of the best ways we can draw near the blazing fire of the cross is to remember our past, and allow it to remind us of how marvelous God’s salvation really is.”
Study the Gospel—“To grow in your passion for what Jesus has done, increase your understanding of what He has done.” Discovering the Power of the Cross of Christ by Charles Spurgeon and The Cross of Christ by John Stott are two classic works to get you started. Tomorrow we’ll tell you about one, newly published book on the cross.
In reference to yesterday’s post, several readers asked “What does it mean to ‘preach the gospel to yourself every day?’”
This phrase was popularized by author Jerry Bridges in his book, The Discipline of Grace, where he explains: “To preach the gospel to yourself, then, means that you continually face up to your own sinfulness and then flee to Jesus through faith in His shed blood and righteous life.”
Mr. Bridges asserts that the gospel isn’t only the most important message to preach to non-Christians but it is also the most important message for Christians to review each and every day. This is because….
“…preaching the gospel to ourselves every day reminds us that we are indeed sinners in need of God’s grace….It helps us to consciously renounce any confidence in our own goodness as a means of meriting God’s blessing on our lives. Perhaps more importantly, though, preaching the gospel to ourselves every day gives us hope, joy, and courage. The good news that our sins are forgiven because of Christ’s death fills our hearts with joy, gives us courage to face the day, and offers us hope that God’s favor will rest upon us, not because we are good, but because we are in Christ.
Hope, joy and courage are available in Christ, and by preaching the gospel to ourselves daily, we enjoy these blessings.
Tomorrow we answer the question: “How do I preach the gospel to myself every day?”
There is one more question we must add to our list of fellowship questions, and it is the most important one of all:
How are you preaching the gospel to yourself every day?
Milton Vincent, author of The Gospel Primer makes the case for why the gospel is vital to Christian love and fellowship:
“The greatest gift I can give to my fellow-Christians is
the gospel itself. Indeed, I love my fellow-Christians not simply
because of the gospel, but I love them best when I am loving them with
the gospel! And I do this not merely by speaking gospel words to them,
but also by living before them and generously relating to them in a
gospel manner. Imparting my life to them in this way, I thereby
contribute to their experience of the power, the Spirit, and the full
assurance of the gospel. By preaching the gospel to myself every day, I
mature the bond that unites me with my brothers and sisters for whom
Christ died, and I also keep myself well-versed in the raw materials
with which I may actively love them in Christ.”
Mr. Vincent references 1 Thessalonians 2:18 where Paul tells the church that: “Having
so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not
only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become
very dear to us.”
We may say that our friends are “very dear
to us;” but if we do not live in the good of the gospel, we stifle the
source and limit the scope of our love for them. May this motivate us
to preach the gospel to ourselves every day—so that we can "actively
love" our friends.
Marsha, a reader and seminary wife, wrote to tell us that she and a friend are going to begin “holding each other accountable to the tough things of the faith.” They are comprising a list of helpful questions and she wanted to know if we had any to add to their collection.
Several years ago, we put together a list of questions to encourage fellowship among women: to provoke one another to pursue Christ-like character and cultivate biblical womanhood.
We hope these questions get you started, Marsha. And for all our readers, we hope they spark many Christ-honoring girl talks!
Describe your current practice of the spiritual disciplines.
What is a passage of Scripture you have been meditating on recently?
What fruit of the Spirit are you cultivating?
What sin are you seeking to weaken?
How can I pray for you?
Here is an evidence of grace that I observe in your life.
How are you seeking to grow in expressing biblical femininity?
The Super Bowl is this Sunday and in my fam, the snacks are almost as important as the game (if not more important). You don’t have to guess where my loyalties lie. Who is playing again?
A long-time favorite snack of my dad’s is a rather unusual cheese dip. It has shown up at every Mahaney-family event for as far back as I can remember.
Now let me warn you up front: this combination of ingredients may seem a little weird. But don’t let that stand in your way. My dad is sure you’ll love it. It’s super easy (no pun intended) and only has four ingredients. That sounds appealing, right?
You need 1½ cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese (if you are lazy—I mean, resourceful—like me, you will purchase the already grated stuff), ¾ cup mayonnaise (if Miracle Whip is used, we cannot vouch for the results), 2 tablespoons grated onion, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix it all together and cook at 350* for 20 minutes or until bubbly and brown on top. Use a paper towel to absorb excess oil (oh yeah, did I mention, this isn’t healthy?). Serve it piping hot with Triscuit crackers.