Always a Conquerer

This weekend I was scheduled to preach at Ocean View Methodist Church once again, something I am privileged to do every month.  It is something I look forward to every month as I love teaching an building God’s word into my church community.  But this month I was a little nervous about it.

This would be my first sermon at OV Methodist since D-DAY (Keller’s diagnosis day) and I was unsure of my steps.  I have wondered in the past two months on many occasions if I would get up to speak or lead at something and just fall into an overwhelming crying spell in the middle of a sentence.  It hasn’t happened, but I have wondered… I wasn’t sure if I could get through an entire sermon, but more I wasn’t sure I had the emotional energy to listen to God’s voice for my church and then write a sermon.  It takes a lot of my heart and mind and emotional space and I take it very seriously.  But in praying about this sermon I felt led to move forward and began praying through the sermon.

I felt two things should be said.  I first knew that I should just tell Keller’s story and confess where we were emotionally.  We had told our church of Keller’s diagnosis but not much else, and I wanted to share.  The facts of the diagnosis are important but I also wanted them to know of their pastor’s broken heart and unsteady future.  But second I felt God wanted me to share His simple truth that He is with us in dark days and difficult times.

Sharing my story of Keller’s diagnosis of autism NOW is hard because the story isn’t finished.  We don’t know the last chapter and I have no idea if it will ever be tied up in a nice bow.  I hate telling stories in the middle when they are still hard.  I like the finished version where it’s OVER and I am DONE and my heart is put back together.  But this weekend I felt God telling me to tell the story now.  Tell it from the darkness.

From the ‘not yet.’  From the wanting and waiting place.  From today.

However, even in the dark, there are many things to claim and celebrate, and God led me to the end of Romans 8 in preparing to share my story.  In these days though, Romans 8 is hard to believe at times.

Paul writes, “ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” -Romans 8:37

I don’t feel much like a conquerer these days.  I feel like a survivor.  I feel like a crying mess.  I feel like a barely making it momma.  I feel like we are getting by.  But a CONQUERER?  Where is the conquering and victory in TODAY??   The tomorrows might have victory stories, but TODAY?

God has simply laid it on my soul that the victory in today is HIM.  HE is the victory.  HE is the conquering of my situation.  No matter how dark it feels and look HE is with me.  He is loving me, fighting for me, and blessing me with his presence.  


Where are you needing a conquering spirit in your life?  Because Jesus says we are MORE than conquerers because He is with us.

Hallelujah and AMEN.

(See full sermon notes below)

Love Beyond What I Deserve

“Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life,mand I will dwell in  the house of the Lord as long as I live.” -Psalm 23:6

In this journey of Keller’s autism diagnosis we have received heaps and heaps of love and support from Africa and the United States.  It has been humbling and overwhelming.  People have poured out their love for Keller and our family.  We have been loved far beyond what we deserve.

It’s hard to accept people’s love sometimes.  I like to be the one serving and loving and giving.  To be on the receiving end of love is just plain tough.  It makes me feel vulnerable and needy.  I am still learning how to ask for help and I know I will get better at this.

But the earthly love that has been poured out to us has only been a reflection of what God has shown us.  God doesn’t send e-cards or bring you dinner, but his love is showered upon our lives… if we only will open ourselves up to it.

Even though I wish God would come to me in these days like a storm, He always shows up in a whisper and I have to lean in to hear His words to me.  But His love is perfect and He is the definition of love.  As much as I want to believe that the earthly love I am experiencing will last forever, it won’t, and His love is never-ending.  He will always be pursuing me with His love.

Psalm 23 has been on my heart during these days of Keller’s diagnosis.  And God’s love has been very real to me, as in other times of crisis in my life.  Psalm 26 tells us these two things about God’s love:

1. God’s goodness comes from His nature, not our worthiness.

2. God’s love comes from His character, not our virtue.

 God is being Himself, being all GOD when he loves us and lavishes it upon us.  It is more than we deserve and meets us exactly where we are.  For me, this diagnosis and facing grief and loss of dreams has been difficult, but much of it is that is has revealed parts of my heart that I didn’t know that were there.  My own selfish dreams.  My desires to be normal and accepted.  It’s fine if ‘other’ families have special needs but that won’t happen to our family.  The list goes on as I have thrown many temper-tantrums before God about this situation and how IT’S NOT FAIR.

But even when we are unlovable, even when the darkest parts of our hearts are exposed, God still moves towards us with his LOVE.  He doesn’t sigh and wait for us to get it together.

He RUNS to us.

“And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” -Luke 15:20 NLT

I have felt this from God in this newest trial in our lives.  As the gross parts of my heart have been exposed and as grief and worry have washed over me like waves, I have felt God close to me.  And after the confession and sorrow then I have begun to hear Him with me.  More, I have sensed Him with me.  Holding me and holding these things together.

People have remarked about how ‘strong’ our faith has been in this trial.  I have never felt further from strong, but there is no where else to run but to God.  Without God’s strength and love I could not make it through this.  There is no time to be mad at Him because I am desperate for Him.

And HE comes for me.  Thank you Jesus.

Wonderfully Complex

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.” 

-Psalm 139:13-16 NLT

The first person I contacted when we got Keller’s diagnosis of autism, after crying and blabbering with Casey for a while, was my sister.  My sister lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I am in Cape Town, South Africa but living across an ocean has somehow made us closer and stronger.  She is my favorite person in the world outside of the crazy three that live in my house.

I texted her.  Blabbered.  Sobbed.  You know how ‘real’ it makes something when you tell other people?  Was feeling that.  And she responded with sadness and shock and love.  And then later she sent me a piece of Psalm 139.  She said her spirit was telling her to share that Keller was ‘perfectly and wonderfully made.’

In the New Living Translation (above), the passage says that each person is ‘wonderfully complex.’  The Prince family is hilariously and glaringly complex; that is obvious.  But now my soul has to wrestle with Keller being wonderfully complex, including his autistic brain.  He is perfectly made, including a brain that isn’t properly developed and keeps him from making social connections and communicating.  He was brought into OUR family by the way.  Our family’s life mission is to communicate and socially connect with people.  And now our perfect little boy was somehow woven together BY GOD inside me… but he does not have the parts of his brain that teach him how to do… what we DO.

It’s a painful place to wrestle, and I know I am not the first.  God, why would you allow Keller to be developed so wonderfully and yet his brain doesn’t process the same way we do?  How could he not be able to hold eye contact, be hugged, be a friend?  These are things that are very possible, but we will have to TEACH Keller how to be social.  We have no idea what the future holds and what kind of kid Keller will be.  He might be the most outgoing kid ever or grow up to have only one friend.

At least I will always be his friend.

There are no responses to my questions shot up to God.  Just his promise that even though Keller doesn’t SEEM to be perfect and wonderful in this moment, he IS.  God has made Keller and allowed autism to be a part of his story.  I might never know why, but I can be sure God thinks Keller is wonderful.

So now we wrestle with Keller’s wonderfully complex brain and ask God to expand our version of perfection.  I have a feeling I am going to like God’s version of wonderful more than the one I have always held…