Such an honor to share our triplet and TLC story on Good Morning Texas!
I'll always remember my first trip to the fertility doctor. My husband, Ryan, and I sat awkwardly in a waiting room, listening to the Backstreet Boys greatest hits through the ceiling speaker, while avoiding eye contact with other couples and commenting on the unusual art: mermaid family statue. I’m not kidding. The sculpture was of a mommy and daddy mermaid holding up a baby mermaid in the air! The artwork and music choice created a nice comedic relief from the anxiety of wondering what the doctor would say. What would be my prognosis? What if she said I had no chances of carrying a baby to term? What if there were no answers for why I easily became pregnant but could never stay pregnant? The rollercoaster of three pregnancies, followed by three miscarriages, was a ride we were ready to get off. The nurse eventually called us back to a consultation room that had all the posters and props of a high school health class, where we nervously played on our phones until the doctor finally came in the room. She sat down, looked through my medical history paperwork, and in no more than 5 minutes told us what she thought was wrong and how she planned to fix it. She confidently assured us she was not worried about my eventually carrying full term. We left the doctor’s office feeling very assured and encouraged. With the doctor’s help and God’s choosing to answer our heartfelt prayers for multiples, our triplets Blair, Barrett, and Blake were conceived six months later. We do not believe our triplets were a result of fertility medication. However, God chose to use medication to help bring about our desire for a family, and maybe He wants to do the same in your life.
After going public about our miscarriages and triplet pregnancy, the questions and comments started pouring in from women struggling with the same heartache of infertility and the same dream of conceiving. “Your story has encouraged me to not give up on my dreams of being a mom” one woman wrote to me. “As a Christian, how did you justify seeing a fertility doctor?” was a question sent to me by another woman who honestly wondered the spiritual argument for seeking help. How did we justify seeing a fertility doctor? Is seeing a fertility doctor playing God? Are babies born with fertility help any less miraculous? How do I talk to my spouse about going to a fertility doctor? How do I keep enjoying life with fertility struggles?
How did we justify seeing a fertility doctor?
Last October, I kept getting the flu, even with the flu shot. No matter what I did, it seemed like I kept getting sick and I kept being out of commission for weeks. I didn’t pray about what I should do. I didn’t ask respected leaders in the church their counsel. I was sick, and I needed a doctor. The same is true for people who are continuing to experience fertility problems. I know that God made Sarah and Abraham parents at 90 years old, but I don’t really see that happening anymore. Christians have deemed the medical condition of infertility a spiritual issue, and it is keeping many couples from receiving the medical help they need. However, seeing a fertility doctor is often the most prolife choice a couple can make. There would have been nothing spiritual about our continually losing babies when medical solutions were available. Wanting to bring life into the world is fulfilling the biblical command to “be fruitful and multiply.”
2. Is seeing a fertility doctor playing God?
God opens and closes the womb. Simple as that. Does God need help? No. Does God use modern medicine to help correct issues in our imperfect bodies? Yes. No baby is born outside of God’s will. God doesn’t have to readjust his plans for the world when a baby is born via fertility treatment. God is more powerful than fertility medication, and I can tell you from experience that receiving fertility treatment does not ensure a baby is born. For as many couples who receive children from medical help, just as many have failed-attempt stories. We are not powerful enough to trick, outsmart, or out-medicate God.
3. Are babies born with fertility help any less miraculous?
We get asked all the time if the triplets were “natural,” most often by the checkout ladies at Target. Our answer, “The triplets were supernatural.” We specifically prayed for three biological children, for multiples, and for “God to do more than anything we can hope or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20-21) and God answered. The fact that God answered so specifically and so creatively is nothing short of miraculous. God either opens the womb or He doesn’t. Whether a child is conceived through the help of science, medication, a memory lapse in taking birth control pills, or carefully timed family planning; every child is a miracle worthy to be celebrated. The reason God sometimes uses medical intervention is something we will have to ask Him when we get to Heaven. Every life conceived is equally valuable. Every answered prayer for a child is worthy of praise to our Lord.
4. How do I talk to my spouse about going to the fertility doctor?
Be sensitive, be humble, be open, and be loving when talking to your spouse about seeking help. We can all admit fertility is an awkward topic. Saying “fertility doctor” always makes me think of the monkey Rafiki from The Lion King. The idea of talking to a stranger about fertility issues can seem invasive, embarrassing, and weird. From my experience, fertility doctors often have an honorary degree in sensitivity training. I was amazed at their ability to talk about bodily functions while keeping a straight face, but they do it! The doctor’s appointment likely won’t be as bad as you imagine it to be. Even if the appointment is as bad as you have imagined, with the alternative being childlessness, it may be an awkward appointment worth scheduling. Please don’t write off fertility doctors and treatment as too expensive before researching your options. You would be amazed at the different options and programs for fertility treatment! Lastly and most importantly, decide ahead of time that your fertility struggle is no one’s “fault” but is the path God has destined you to journey together.
5. How do I keep enjoying life with fertility struggles?
God has a plan for your life that is not contingent on your ability to become pregnant. God gives us what we need. It is a tough pill to swallow, but by that rationale if you don’t have a baby then it’s not what you need right now. I know that is hard. I know that is heartbreaking. I also know that my worst year personally was my best year spiritually and in ministry. There is something different God has planned for this time, regardless of how determined you may be that it’s baby time. Please don’t get so consumed with ovulation tests, pregnancy tests, baby apps, baby clothes sites, or even reading pregnancy blogs that you miss what God has for you today.
I do not know what is right for your family. I do know too many couples are struggling in silence with fertility problems, and too many women are repeatedly experiencing heartache, while medical solutions are often available. As I told a girl crying to me in Anthropologie the other day who had just received a report from her OB-GYN that she would not be able to conceive, “It’s a good thing we have the modern medicine of 2018 and that God can do anything.” Let us take advantage of living in an age where modern medicine can help accomplish our dreams of a family. Let us remember that we serve a God who can do more than anything we can hope or imagine.
Well, our secret is out: Ryan and I are pregnant with triplets! My mom always cringes when we say, “We’re pregnant!” because of the obvious anatomical error in this statement. However, after about a thousand of Ryan’s late night runs to the grocery store on behalf of the four individuals I now represent; multiple weekly doctors’ visits; and the emotional toll of coming up with three names, while trying to predict which triplet could react to what in regard to name fairness… I’d say that Ryan is about as pregnant as I am pregnant!
However, the positive pregnancy test is far from where our journey began. Our triplet story started about a year and a half ago when Ryan and I sat down together as a couple and listed 20 things we were going to pray for multiple times a day until God answered. The final prayers on our list were for God to bless us with multiples, for God to bless our family with three biological children, and for God “to do more than anything we could imagine” (Eph. 3:20). Ironically, we never imagined God’s answering all three of those prayers in one miracle!
Mark Batterson states in his book Draw The Circle, “The greatest tragedy in life are the prayers that go unanswered simply because they go unasked.” We were tired of tragedy. We were tired of not getting results. We started asking, and God started answering.
How did we end up with triplets?
I remember the moment we found out we were having triplets. We were going in for my first sonogram after getting a positive pregnancy test. Our doctor performed the test in about two seconds before starting her sentence with the following, “I don’t want to scare you, but… there are three gestational sacs.” I started celebrating as if I had won an Olympic gold meal, pumping my arms and cheering, thanking God, and giving Ryan a majorly corny high-five, though it took Ryan a second to switch mindsets after the “I don’t want to scare you…” opening to comprehending the best news of our lives. We were thrilled! To answer the major question, no, the triplets were not IVF. But even if they had been, does that make three lives any less a miracle? God either opens the womb or He doesn’t, and there is nothing less miraculous about God working through science, medicine, or a memory lapse in taking birth control than carefully timed family planning. After three miscarriages, it became necessary to see specific doctors, and we would recommend anyone going through that heartache to do so, as well. We ended up with triplets because God ordained their lives and answered our specific prayers.
Were we surprised when we found out?
People have countered when we say, “We wanted multiples.” with “Be careful what you wish for…” but the truth is we didn’t wish for anything. We asked, pleaded, and begged God for this very specific prayer, and He answered as only the God of the universe can answer: timely, specifically, and powerfully. Our doctors and countless people since then have asked, “Were you surprised?!” We always respond, “No, we weren’t surprised because we asked God and truly believed He would answer, “Yes.” We have already heard incredible stories of people being able to use the triplet’s lives to tell others about the goodness of God, and we pray this continues to be the theme of their lives-- pointing others to our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Are we scared?
While announcing the triplets to our student ministry, church family, and social media world was a blast, after three miscarriages in a year it is hard to ignore the deep-seated fear of “What if?” What if God doesn’t let these babies live? What if we announce the triplets as this incredible miracle and then lose them like we lost the others? What if we announce the triplets to our student ministry but then have to provide grief counseling for 300+ students? If something happens, does that mean God isn’t good? If something happens, does that mean the triplets weren’t miracles? If something happens, will we stop following God? No, it doesn’t mean any of this because God is good, even if any of these things happens. As my father, pastor Dr. Robert Jeffress, says, “Faith is not believing God will do what we want Him to do. Faith is believing God is who He says He is and acting accordingly.” God’s goodness is not dependent upon our getting what we want; God’s goodness is the very nature of who God is and encompasses all He does-- regardless if we understand or agree.
We truly believe the triplets are a miraculous answer to our specific and persistent prayers. The triplets are not our story. The triplets belong to a God who is able and who did more than we could imagine!
While triplets are rare, the true rarity is not in God’s answering big prayers but in our asking big prayers! What big prayer do you want to start asking God today?
We so appreciate continual prayers for The Sadler Triplets to make it to 34 weeks without health or medical issues for babies or mama! Thank you for sharing in our journey! To God be the glory, great things He has done!
Let me be the first to admit that when the topic of biblical womanhood is brought up in a bible study, sermon, blog, or the dinner table: my eyes glaze over and I go to my happy place. I am not the only woman who has a comatose reaction to the ideals often attributed to being a “Proverbs 31 Woman.” I have lost count of how many times I’ve heard the Proverbs 31 woman be cited as the optimal goal for Christian women. While this woman has great qualities and seems like a nice lady who puts her family first, she is not the only woman mentioned in the Bible. Can I hear an “Amen!” from all the women allergic to the kitchen? (I’m convinced that “gathering food from afar” can mean driving to Whole Foods!)
While it’s important to look at the biblical model for households, it is also equally important to look at how God used women to accomplish His goals outside of the kitchen. As a Girls Minister, who works with teenagers for a living, let me tell you, one of the reasons women young and old have rejected biblical womanhood is because most teaching leaves out exciting Biblical stories with women in the starring roles. Thus enters the allure of the feminist movement.
Today we are going to look at a woman with a leading role in the Bible and in history, Queen Esther. Esther lives a real-life Cinderella story, has an entire Biblical book named after her, and manages to change the mind of a king and the direction of a country through her wisdom, beauty, timely words, and place of royalty. Esther has an important message for Christian girls and woman who desperately want an exciting life, impactful existence, and secretly wonder if in order to accomplish these goals they must side with the feminist movement. Let’s look at why Queen Esther matters for the feminist movement of today.
Esther 4:14 is the most quoted verse in the entire biblical book of Esther.
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come into your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
This is her uncle appealing to Esther to stand up for the Jews who were being mistreated and to use her high position in order to get her convictions heard before the king. The verse directly contrasts the idea that the Bible oppresses women. God placed Esther as Queen in order to lead a revolution!
1. Esther only used methods and means that were effective. If Esther lived in 2017, she would not have attended the Women’s March. How do I know this? She had seen the King’s first wife, Queen Vashti, behave in a feminist protest by refusing to obey her husband, to submit to God-given authority, or follow the norms for the culture of the day- which resulted in her losing her crown. Esther was not about to repeat the same mistake.
2. Esther had a systematic plan in mind and motion. Esther was not interested in merely yelling loud enough or long enough to get someone’s attention. She wanted results and to keep her husband’s heart, interest, and trust. Esther did not merely make him change his mind as a result of a tantrum. She carefully planned and respectfully appealed to her king and husband.
3. Esther kept her dignity resulting in her keeping her crown. Esther was not rash in the way she planned to confront injustice. Esther did not demand action but requested her voice be heard and her plan carried out. Because of her patience and calm demeanor, her husband was open to hearing her concerns.
4. Esther was her own person while remaining submissive. Esther had her own ideas about culture, society, justice, and equality- and that is more than okay! In fact, Esther differing in opinion from her husband is a main plot of this story! She was her own person, with her own ideas, who respectfully brought her request to the king and he listened.
There are ungodly and unequal ideas, laws, practices, and crimes that must change for women in 2017. Culture needs to progress in how women are treated and Christians need to stand for those who are mistreated. In the midst of creating a better world for women, there is value in learning how women in the Bible used their power, influence, grace, patience, beauty, and position to change the minds of kings and the direction of history!
“How do I talk to my child about suicide?” has been the most frequent question parents have asked me following the release of the hit TV show 13 Reasons Why. I’m so thankful parents are asking this question, instead of trying to figure out how to push this heartbreaking topic under the rug. Teenagers want to know what they are supposed to think about suicide; and, luckily, many children and teenagers are looking to their parents for answers.
The majority of parents I have worked with after a child’s suicide have said they never saw any warning signs. This absolutely breaks my heart and is the major reason I dedicate so much time speaking to students, teachers, and parents about the tragedy of suicide. While it is often true that parents don’t see the signs of suicide in their children, statistics tell us that four out of five teenagers who attempted suicide gave clear warning signs they were planning to do so. What does this mean for parents?
As the primary influencers in your child’s life, here are the top 5 things to remember when addressing the issue of suicide.
1. Keep communication open, even when it’s uncomfortable.
Do not just take children at their word that they are okay. They often don’t know if they are okay. They may be hurting, confused, and needing a safe place to process their grief and feelings. In relation to 13 Reasons Why, instead of being angry or punishing your children for watching the show, ask what parts of the show connected with them. Very few parents are aware if their child has been bullied or sexually assaulted. You can make 13 Reasons Why work for you. If you have a child opening up to you about this show, about a friend’s suicide, or about the topic of suicide, resist the urge to correct or condemn. Let your child talk for as long as they will; and use non-judgmental, open-ended phrases and questions, such as “What was that like?” “Tell me more about that,” or “What do you think about this?”
1. Watch for signs of depression and suicidal ideation.
People who are already struggling with depression and suicidal ideation can have an especially difficult time after someone commits suicide. Even if you do not think your child struggles with these issues, a recent suicide is upsetting for anyone. People in a location with a recent suicide become especially vulnerable because, in some way, suicide becomes a viable option.
Signs of depression: change in sleep pattern, sadness, anger, change in appetite, apathy, loss in interests, withdrawal, anxiety, self-harm, excessive crying, trouble concentrating, substance abuse.
Signs of suicidal ideation: irritability, depression, hopelessness, giving possessions away, apathy, withdrawal, losing interests, joking about death and suicide, saying things like “I’m a burden” or “If only I weren’t here anymore” or “I just want everything to be over,” getting in fights, sudden happiness (as a result of resolving to end their lives), saying goodbye, recent trauma, bullying, eating disorders, etc.
3. Get professional help.
This cannot be stressed enough. Getting professional help for your child does not mean something is wrong with your child. Getting professional help is a way for your child to gain skills to help them process the trauma they have been exposed to through another’s suicide. Very few people actually like seeing a therapist, so do not take it as a bad sign if your child is not enthusiastic about going. Encourage your child to go to a therapist at least a few times to help them bond with the therapist, even if your child claims they aren’t learning anything.
4. Try not to answer the “Did they go to Heaven or hell?” question.
This suggestion goes counter to my Southern Baptist, evangelical upbringing. However, I have worked with many, many teenagers and young adults who refrained from committing suicide because of their belief it would send them to Hell. The Bible teaches we are “Saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and this is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God.” Eph. 2:8-10 The Bible teaches the way we go to Heaven is through a relationship with Jesus Christ and that the reason people go to Hell is because they have not trusted in Christ as their Savior.
While we don’t want to lie or to teach wrong theology to anyone, it’s pretty tempting for a Christian who is suicidal to hear that if they commit suicide, they will definitely go to Heaven. Therefore, the best option is redirecting your questioning child to two concepts: 1. What the Bible says about life (Jeremiah 29:11). 2. The truth that nothing they have done and nothing that has been done to them can separate them from the love and the plan of God (Romans 8). I also use John 10:10 with students and adults, so they remember who is ultimately responsible for suicidal thoughts. “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you may have life and have it to the fullest.” Suicide is used by Satan to kill people. Suicide steals a Christian’s life, shortens their ministry, and hurts their witness. Suicide causes non-Christians to die without a relationship with Jesus Christ. Suicide is not God’s desire for anyone.
5. Let them know that nothing they can ever do is ever so bad that the only answer is suicide.
If you counsel and discipline your child as if what they have done is the worst thing they could possibly do and as if there is no room for grace or redemption, you have set your child up for failure. If you act as if their problem, screw-up, sin, or mistake is the worst thing possible, they are likely to believe you. While discipline is necessary for children, it must be coupled with the truth that God has a plan for us, even when we mess up. Colossians 3:21 states, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” You hold more power than you know as parents. Even when their headphones are in, even when their eyes are glued to their phones, and even when they constantly roll their eyes; they are listening. Children need to hear they are unconditionally loved and accepted by their parents and by God. They need to hear that there is always hope, always forgiveness, always redemption, and always grace.
God recently had my paths cross with a young woman contemplating suicide. She had experienced incredible hurt and trauma that had contributed to her depression and despair. On the very night she had decided to die, God moved heaven and earth to have five complete strangers interrupt her plan and to tell her of God's purpose for her life. On the night she had decided to end her life, she instead chose to give her life to Jesus Christ. In an instant she went from being completely hopeless to completely hopeful. If this is the impact five people can have on a stranger, imagine the incredible opportunity you have as parents to encourage and speak life to your child. The child-parent relationship has been proven time and again to be forever the most influential human relationship. While it's painful to admit when your child is struggling, you're the best chance they have to choose God's plan of hope and redemption. What an incredible responsibility. What an incredible privilege.
This blog was published by The Christian Post, Hello Christian, and The Southern TEXAN
The Reason the World is Watching “Thirteen Reasons Why”
The New York Times best selling book turned Netflix series “Thirteen Reasons Why” has turned into an overnight national phenomenon. Why is this series catching the attention of parents, teachers, teenagers, and pretty much everyone? While the series has many critics, this series has one main attraction. “Thirteen Reasons Why” is the most accurate show on television. As a licensed professional counselor and professional youth speaker who presents suicide prevention programs in public and private schools, I can tell you that, unfortunately, this show depicts the struggles many of our teenagers are facing. I knew immediately when I heard about “Thirteen Reasons Why” that I would inevitably write about this show, since I speak passionately about teen suicide to our young people. I went into the show ready to be a critic. I was ready to bash it for romanticizing suicide and for depicting dark images and ideas. However, I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming accuracy of this show. Because if 1 in 6 women are sexually abused and 5,000 teenagers in the United States attempt suicide daily, then there are a lot of Hannah Bakers out there. So, while there are many reasons not to watch the show, I want to focus on the number one issue depicted in “Thirteen Reasons Why.” Surprisingly, the number one issue is not suicide. The number one harmful issue is having a victim mentality.
Victim mentality is different from being a victim. Without a doubt, people are victims of assault, abuse, and many different horrible acts for which they are in no way responsible. Victim mentality does not necessarily have anything to do with being the object of a crime. Victim mentality is letting other people rule your life or, in Hannah Baker’s case, letting other people ruin your life. While this idea can sound harsh, it is the reason Hannah Baker’s character and millions of other people take their own lives. I remember counseling a suicidal 20-year-old girl who was a complete puzzle to me. I could not figure out why this beautiful and talented young woman with her whole life ahead of her was suicidal. Finally, she said to me, “I want to commit suicide because I want my dad to know how badly he hurt me when he sexually abused me.” That is the suicidal delusion that many teenagers and adults believe--that because of what has happened in their life, their life is over.
Many suffering people believe they are the only ones. They are the only ones being bullied. They are the only ones being sexually abused. They are the only ones without friends. And when people believe they are alone, they feel hopeless. But, luckily, our lives are never hopeless, never beyond repair, and never beyond redemption because God is big enough to use the worst parts of our lives for His ultimate plan. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph had the ultimate chance to confront his brothers who sold him into slavery and left him for dead, and his response was not to leave cassette tapes for all his brothers to listen to so they could be punished. Instead, Joseph told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.”
In considering your view of “Thirteen Reasons Why,” please remember that there is a reason it is a hit show. Countless numbers of people are tempted to commit suicide every minute. We must stop letting other people ruin and even take our lives. We must open our eyes to the nationwide epidemic and reality of suicide.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
(This article was published by The Christian Post, Southern Baptist TEXAN, and Hello Christian)
The startling article “What to Get a Friend Post-Abortion” was recently published by Teen Vogue, guiding teenage girls on how to comfort their friends who are recovering from abortions. Teen Vogue explains to their readers:
The worst part of all this isn’t the procedure itself (which by the way is completely safe as long as you have access to a good clinic) . . . but how you are treated afterwards . . . she shouldn’t have to feel ashamed because she made the right decision for her situation . . . and that’s OK . . . she will need you-- not because the act itself is so terrible, but because the world can be.
It’s difficult to identify the most disturbing aspect of this article: A teen magazine meant to help girls learn about fashion and makeup is advocating murder? Standing up for equal rights for women is now synonymous with accepting and promoting abortion? Post-abortive teenage girls are encouraged to wear the F-Uterus pin (a uterus giving the middle finger) from Planned Parenthood as a response to anyone who asks if a post-abortive girl regrets her decision?
While reading this article dedicated to explaining how teenage girls should comfort their post-abortive peers, I wondered if the author were a professional counselor, a physician, a social worker, or a health care professional of any kind who was qualified to give impressionable young girls health care advice. Not surprisingly, the author only cites her personal post-abortive experience as a source of medical advice.
As a licensed professional counselor who works with post-abortive women, I find the most inconsistent and harmful aspect of this article the way the author masks it as a help piece, while directing teenage girls to do the very opposite of what will actually bring them health and comfort. The author repeatedly tells readers they have no reason to feel shame and guilt. One would be hard-pressed to find a mental health clinician who regularly tells clients how they are supposed to feel--a fundamental tenet of Psychology 101. The very basis for processing grief and healing is identifying and exploring how an individual feels.
As a girls’ ministry director who ministers to hundreds of teenage girls weekly, I am praying for this generation of teenage girls to take stands for the principles of God’s Word. Generation Z is a generation who will no longer be able to be lukewarm in their faith or waver in their stance on religious, political, or social concerns. The spiritual issues that my Millennial generation labeled as secondary and non-essential will be non-negotiable for Generation Z. With culture pushing liberal agendas such as trying to brainwash people into believing they are not born male and female; this is the generation of Christians where the rubber must hit the road.
As a pro-life advocate who recently prayed at a pro-life rally in the very courtroom where Roe v. Wade first began, I want teenage girls and women to know the pain and regret that abortion brings. Abortion is not the only option to an unwanted pregnancy. An unwanted pregnancy does not mean an unplanned pregnancy because God has a plan for every life that is conceived, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one came to be.” Psalm 139:6.
As a Christian Millennial young woman who sees her Christian peers regularly waver on controversial spiritual issues, I pray my generation will start saying “Enough is enough!” We must start standing up for the truth of God’s Word, or we will soon not recognize our country or even our churches. Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” must be our battle cry. As Christians, we are on a rescue mission to bring as many people to Heaven as possible. We must stop being ashamed of what the Bible says about abortion, gender, sex, homosexuality, marriage and start proclaiming God’s truth to an unbelieving world.
Norma McCorvey, “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, famously stated, "However, upon knowing God, I realize that my case, which legalized abortion on demand, was the biggest mistake of my life." Abortion is not the unpardonable sin, but the decision to abort an unborn baby affects its mother and father for the rest of their lives. We are never hurting people by telling them God’s truth. If we truly want to help a post-abortive teenage girl, the only comfort is in offering God’s heart on abortion. Abortion is murder. Abortion is a sin. Abortion is also forgiven when we receive the forgiveness God offers through Jesus’ death on the cross.
Speaking Truth in Love,
Julia J. Sadler
Only in La La Land
(This blog has been published by The Christian Post and Girl Defined)
For years, my Millennial Generation has been looking for the next movie to rival the infamous romantic saga, The Notebook. With every new chick flick that is advertised, untold numbers run to the nearest movie theater with their significant others in hopes that this will be our next cult classic. This will be the movie that makes my boyfriend realize how lucky he is to be dating me. This will be the movie that reignites the romance in our marriage. This will be the movie that makes my girlfriends cry and the movie that causes me to shamelessly fantasize myself as the lead actress. La La Land was supposed to be this movie. Critics built this movie up to be the biggest blockbuster of the year. Awards so far include Golden Globe Award Winner for Best Motion Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Original Score, and the film is tied for the most Academy Award nominations in history… so it’s universally considered the best. But why doesn’t the couple in our new “best” movie end up spending the rest of their lives together? Where is the “happily ever after?” Where is the wedding? Where is the Romeo and Juliet devotion?
While critics rave, audiences have mixed feelings and opinions about the ending of the movie. While 95% of La La Land is a whirlwind of fun songs, romantic scenes, and quote-worthy lines, the last fifteen minutes deviates far from a traditional love story. Spoiler Alert! The adorable couple Mia and Sebastian, played by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, does not end up together. The last few scenes fast-forward five years to show Mia marrying another man. You read correctly. She does not choose to marry Ryan Gosling. However, Mia reflects fondly on the time she and Sebastian spent together, and the conclusion left for viewers is that, while their relationship was important, it was not forever. She now has a new life with her new husband and a new baby, and she is able to smile when she thinks about her former live-in boyfriend.
“Why does the ending of this movie matter?” you may be asking. This movie ending matters because it has profound implications for the Millennial Generation and it is a defining representation of our culture. Contrast the ending of La La Land with the ending of The Notebook (another Ryan Gosling classic). Just twelve years earlier, the famously romantic movie ended with the aged married couple holding each other as they died together in the same bed! The idea was that the husband and wife could not live without one another; therefore, each would literally die without the other. (Probably the husband had PTSD from the seven years he spent writing to the his wife without her reply!)
While in many movies the lead couple does not end up together, La La Land has a startling, inaccurate account of sexual immorality. Gone are the days of showing the scorned ex-lover, since this movie highlights the false idea of nostalgia among exes. Only in La La Land a girl smiles as she sees the ex-boyfriend who lost interest after having sex with her. Only in La La Land a girl can feel unashamed as she runs into her former live-in boyfriend while on a date with her new husband. Only in La La Land a girl can emerge unscathed after neglecting God’s guidelines for relationships and sex. And, while we’re at it, only in La La Land is this movie considered romantic.
The truth is, there is only pain when we ignore God’s command to “keep the marriage bed pure” (Hebrews 13:4). The majority of our culture is neglecting this truth and wondering why many of them end up with broken hearts and relationships. Statistics and personal experience tell us that the majority of people are far from following God’s guidelines for sex. This is one reason our culture is so accepting of and so excited about La La Land: this movie represents the lie so many individuals are living. The truth is, there is only heartache when we ignore God’s guidelines for sex and marriage. This is not because God is mean and loves to restrict us. God created sex, which means He knows how it works best. The notions that co-habitation produces stable relationships, that unmarried guys will stay interested in girls after sex, and that a girl will experience no shame when she sees her ex-boyfriend and former sex partner while standing next to her new husband are all ideas that only truly exist . . . well . . . in La La Land.
Julia J. Sadler
This month I had the incredible opportunity to be interviewed by Advance Now Media on "Why It's OK, Not to be OK": Hope & Help for Depression, Anxiety, & Suicide. Advance Now media is a podcast by the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention.
My heart and soul is to help everyone and anyone who is struggling with depression, anxiety, & suicidal thoughts by offering them hope and help! Hope you enjoy!
"Why It's OK, To Not Be OK -Hope & Help for Depression, Anxiety, & Suicide". Click the link to listen: http://bit.ly/Its_OK
Lying to yourself is really pretty easy. The trajectory usually starts by our having a lie told to us by a parent, friend, boyfriend, spouse, or any significant person in our lives. We may immediately recognize the statement as hurtful, but not recognize the detrimental effects of believing the lie until years or even decades later.
As a counselor, my clients are often surprised at the necessity of exploring their childhood in order to identify lies they grew up believing. While all lies are not from childhood, they tend to be the ones that are most ingrained. Without fail, I’ve watched people time and again uncover lies they were told and experience great healing by choosing to start telling themselves the truth. The obvious question is, “What is the truth?”
I define lying to yourself as “Telling yourself anything that God does not say about you or your situation.” That really narrows down what we are allowed to tell ourselves! Scripture time and again states the necessity of guarding our thoughts and believing truth.
Romans 12:1 states, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” This verse is a powerful plea to change our thought life in order to be capable of realizing God’s plan for us.
The number one question I ask all day long in my counseling practice is “What are you telling yourself?” People tend to think their emotions are what need to change in order for them to experience relief from anxiety, depression, eating disorders, stress, etc. However, a thought always comes before an emotion. It is impossible to tell yourself lies all day long and have contentment, peace, and intimacy with God.
Scripture tells us Satan is the “father of lies” (John 8:44), however, often we do his work for him. In closing, here are three questions to ask in order to help you identify and change lies you may be telling yourself.
1. What am I telling myself about my situation, my worth, or others in my life?
2. Is this what God says about my situation, my worth, or others in my life?
3. What does the Bible say about my situation, my worth, or others in my life?
Benjamin Disraeli describes the link between our thoughts and the quality of life in this famous quote, “Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than your thoughts.” The great thing is, we don’t have to come up with the “great thoughts." God has told us His great thoughts about us in His Word.
Psalm 139:14 states the we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” This is not God complementing us. It is His truth about His creation and it’s time for us to claim it! I challenge you as you go about your day to ask the simple but vital question, “What am I telling myself?”
“I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:14
Julia J. Sadler
First of all, I realize this is not the most positive post to launch my new blog. However, God keeps reminding me how important the topic of suicide is to Him. The topic of suicide is important to God because it deals with life and death in this life and in eternity. If a topic is important to God then it needs to be important to us. Recently I've been asking God to help me "hate what He hates and love what He loves." I am convinced that God hates suicide and loves people.
Just in the past 2 days I have counseled with three teenagers contemplating suicide. Those students were not atheists. Those students did not wear all black and only listen to heavy metal. Those students were all devout Christians who are struggling with depression and feel trapped by their circumstances.
September is designated as suicide awareness month. Suicide is a tragedy that affects millions of people’s lives either directly or indirectly. You will be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t dealt with suicide in some capacity. With this heartbreaking reality in our culture, it is imperative that teenagers, parents, school teachers, clergy, & basically everyone knows warning signs of suicide, causes of suicide, & how to find help for people struggling with suicide and depression.
Here are some quick facts about suicide complimentary of dosomething.org and health.com
- Suicide is a tragedy that affects over 5,000 teenagers in the US a year.
- Nearly 30,000 Americans commit suicide yearly.
- Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds.
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for 24-35 year olds.
- Each suicide intimately affects at least 6 people.
- Depression that is untreated, undiagnosed, or ineffectively treated is the number 1 cause of suicide.
- Strong social support is known to lower suicide risk
- Suicide can trigger copy-cat attempts
It is my belief that suicide is 100% preventable if you know what to look for in others and how to get help if you ever get to the point of contemplating suicide. One study reported that 1 in 5 high schoolers have contemplated suicide in the past year. This is an important study because it shows how common suicidal thoughts are BUT also that it's possible to not follow your thoughts to the point of action. I could write about this topic all day but for now here are some important things to know...
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide:
1. Tell someone!
Let me be quick to say, don't just tell anyone. You need to tell a parent, teacher, professional, counselor, call 911, or call The National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255. This is too serious to keep to yourself. You are not going to be in trouble. There is no shame in getting help. Just like bodies can get sick, so can your mind. You may save your life.
2. Understand while you pain is real, it's also temporary!
You are not always going to feel this way, have this situation, difficult person, or feelings of sadness, etc. People who survived suicide attempts have reported experiencing the impulse to go away after 2 hours. That means 2 hours later people were very thankful their suicide attempt did NOT work and they were able to live! Your situation will get better. You will not always feel this way.
3. Realize suicide doesn't fix anything, it only prevents your situation from ever getting better!
Satan specializes in near-sightedness. He loves when we can only see our present situation and become distressed to the point of becoming suicidal. John 10:10 says, "The thief (Satan) comes to steal, kill, and destroy but I (Jesus) have come that you may have life and have it to the fullest." Don't let Satan or anyone else convince you your situation is hopeless! The God of all the universe says that is not true about you or your situation!
If you are concerned about someone who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts:
1. Recognize the Signs! From webmd.com
- Always talking or thinking about death
- Clinical depression -- deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating -- that gets worse
- Having a "death wish," tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
- Losing interest in things one used to care about
- Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
- Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
- Saying things like "it would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out"
- Sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
- Talking about suicide or killing one's self
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
2. Ask the Question!
If you suspect someone is depressed or suicidal, ask them! You are not giving them a new idea. You are offering hope and support. This helps them to tell on themselves.
3. Get them help!
It's so important to be supportive of depressed and suicidal friends, family, children, students, etc. but realize you're not a professional ( unless you actually are). Make sure that person gets the professional help they need. It is not your job to decide if someone is serious or not. It's your job to make sure they are safe.
4. Don't mitigate someone's suffering!
This is especially important for parents! What's not a big deal to you, could be the end of the world to your child. Calling a child dramatic or dismissing their feelings only perpetuates their hopelessness. Take your child at their word. If they are saying they're suicidal or depressed, do not reprimand them or convince them otherwise. Thank God that they told you and get them the help they need!
Jesus tells us in 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." Pain is a part of the human condition. Pain is real. Pain is also temporary. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts please tell someone!
Never, Never, Never Give up!
Julia J. Sadler
I have been told that "pastor's kid" should be its own diagnosis. Having been a "PK" for 27 years and a minister's wife for 6, I can't say that I disagree. Out of all the unique struggles that come along with living in the fishbowl, the inability to be accepted for who you are trumps them all. Pastor's kids are either the "rebel" or a "goody-good" but it is never acceptable for them to just be a normal kid with normal struggles. As for the pastor, he and his wife are to model the perfect, godly couple for the rest of congregation. What is often missing in ministry families is the ability to have a safe place to be authentic. One of the great ironies of being a family in ministry is having a plethora of people asking how they can pray for you, but never feeling like you can share your real prayer requests. The sad reality is that every church member or staff member you come across is not safe to tell your deepest, darkest struggles to. However, often families in ministry hold themselves to a higher standard than even God requires. God never meant for us to live the Christian life alone. While we tell that to our congregations, it is a spiritual truth that many ministers can’t claim for themselves. One too many times of being burned by someone we thought we could trust adds one more brick to the wall around our hearts.
One of the Enemy’s greatest and most effective tactics is isolation. When ministry families isolate they are most vulnerable to spiritual warfare. The reality is that we can only fake it for so long before the truth comes out. My husband and I have a catch phrase for when we are burnt out in ministry. We tell each other “I’m running on empty” when we feel ourselves giving and serving to the point of neglecting our own self-care. Families in ministry must pay attention to when they are “running on empty” because their families will suffer and eventually so will their ministries. The thought of asking someone for help may be daunting, but it is vital to the health of your family and ministry. Counseling provides a unique relationship for families in ministry where it is okay to be upset, sad, doubt God, and reveal real life struggles in a safe environment. I wholeheartedly believe counseling is invaluable to families in ministry to provide an environment where they can be human. As uncomfortable as it feels, there is great power in humbling ourselves to the point of recognizing we were never created to do this on our own.
Hebrews 10:24-25 states, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
The Bible scholars reading this know that this verse is literally about the body of Christ meeting for worship. However, families in ministry are “on the clock” during typical worship services. Counseling is not a substitute for worship but it does give a opportunity for families in ministry to receive the kind of encouragement and support that is difficult to receive at church. My prayer is that through counseling, ministry families are able to heal, be real, and as a result better navigate the fishbowl.
(As seen on meierclinics.com)
Growing up a pastor’s daughter meant many things for me during the course of my spiritual life. This meant I had the important job of riding my tricycle around the church as my Dad locked up, bedtime consisted of my Dad explaining different religions as I fell asleep, and the majority of sleepovers included drawing a timeline of Revelation. Just the normal childhood, right?
Somewhere a long the way I decided I was tired of playing by God’s rules. Other options looked more apt to meet my most pressing needs and wants. I knew God’s commands. But I decided God would understand if I just needed a break from Him for a while. I had no idea how that decision would cause me to end up further from God than I ever imagined. Through what I call “the lost years” of my life, God relentlessly pursued me and never left me.
I have learned through my years as a counselor that I’m not the only one who fears coming back to God. The shame of sin keeps many people out of church and fellowship with God. Many times we rely on what other people think about us to conclude what God must think of us. Since we are human, and only know other humans, we have the propensity to attribute human characteristics to God. We conclude things such as, “If my Christian friends didn’t accept me because of what I’m struggling with, then that must mean God won’t accept me either.”
The great news is God is unlike anyone you or I have ever known! Isaiah 55:9 says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” God’s thoughts and ways are beyond our comprehension. His plan for us is big enough to include our mess-ups. God is not confined by time, place, or our decisions. His heart and desire is for us to come back to Him regardless of what we have done. We can become discouraged when we focus on our sin instead of God’s power. But the hope of the gospel is God loves to redeem people, in fact, He specializes in it!
My favorite story in the Bible is The Prodigal Son (Luke 15). The most powerful verse is Luke 15:22, “So he got up and came to his father. ‘But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” When we desire to come back to the Father, God runs to embrace us. If you’re wondering if God wants you back, He does! God is not mad at you. God desperately wants a relationship with you. I never could have imagined how God could redeem my life after my “lost years”. I can say with confidence He wants to do the same in your life. Will you come back to the Father who loves you?
(As seen on FirstDallasWomen.org)
With multiple sex partners becoming the norm among Christians and non-Christians, Dallas being in the top 10 cities with the most positive STD tests, and Texas being ranked the number 5 state for teen pregnancies; I would say there is a substantial amount of harm being done in the name of “love.” #Everyonegetsarose was the hash tag for the Valentine Day girl’s ministry event I organized this past February. This idea was a play off of the popular TV show, The Bachelor, where in the end only one girl gets the rose. In case you are unaware, the premise of the show is one guy or girl dates about 30 people at the same time and ends up picking one to propose to after narrowing the selection through “fantasy nights” in a romantic location. Before you close out of this page because you are a fan, don’t worry, this is not a viewer bashing session!
I am known amongst the girls I minister to for verbalizing my opinion about shows and songs portraying false expectations regarding marriage, dating, and sex. You may be reading this and thinking: “What’s the harm?” “Aren’t you being hyper-spiritual?” I care so much about these false portrayals of love because it is setting men and women, girls and boys, married and single up for failure and eventually heartache. When I started writing this blog my inclination was to address teenager girls. But the truth is I see teenagers and adults of both sexes who ruined their lives because of believing the lies that sex equals love and monogamy is an outdated idea. The problem is not exclusive to 16 year-old teenage girls.
My absolute favorite topic to speak on is Dating God’s Way-Following Christ in a Kanye world. I have found that many people want to follow God, want to stay pure, want to date God’s way but find it difficult to do in today’s culture. I believe the number one way Satan attacks Christians is through their dating and sex life. We all know there is a war and it’s time to give Christians the ammo to be able to win the battle for their hearts!
3 Tips for Dating God’s Way:
1. You marry someone you date.
This may seem like common sense but I often hear teenagers and young adults admit that their current boyfriend or girlfriend is not someone they would ever want to marry. While only dating people that you would consider marrying narrows down the options, it also protects you from wasting your time and settling for less than God’s best. The trajectory of picking less than God’s best in marriage, is settling for “best right now” or “best considering everyone else has a date” while single.
2. Quickest way to end a relationship is to have sex.
A lot of times the fear in dating is that the relationship won’t last. With the average age of marriage being 27 for women and 29 for men, I would say that is a valid fear. So many women and girls think they will have a binding deal if they are having sex with their boyfriend. However, having sex does not make you different, special, or unique; it actually makes you just like everyone else. If you want the relationship to last, actually make him (or her) wait to have sex until after marriage. The most important thing in marriage is friendship and the best time to develop that is in the dating period. Having sex before marriage breaks God’s design for sex and demands that He steps in to set things straight. If you really like the person you are dating and want them to stick around, put your relationship in a place where God can bless you by committing to purity.
3. The bait you use determines what you catch.
I got this saying from my favorite dating book Dateable by Hayley DiMarco, Hayley Morgan, and Justin Lookadoo. I hear so many people question why they attract the kind of people they end up dating and eventually marrying. I hear girls barely dressed wonder aloud why a guy only is interested in her sexually. What we use to bait a significant other is going to determine the kind of person we end up dating. If you never talk about or live out your faith, you are probably not going to attract a Christian. If you only go to parties with alcohol on the weekend, you’re likely to attract alcoholics. This truth can also work in your favor. If you walk with Christ at your school, you are likely to attract a Christian to date. If you dress modestly (still cute!), you are showing there is more to you than just your body and heighten your chances of “baiting” someone interested in getting to know you.
In the end, there is nothing romantic about a person barely picking you through an elimination process. You want a man who knows you and says without reservation, through denying all others, “I want that girl and I’m going to become the kind of man God has called me to be in order win her heart!” Women; wait for the man who deserves you, proving it through his sacrifice for you. Men; wait for the woman who is not in love with love but is in love with you!
(As seen on Elevateyouth.org)
I remember where I was when I realized I didn’t know more than God. I had a very difficult situation in my life that was the sole focus of my prayer life and requiring the majority of my emotional energy. I felt plagued by this problem. Up to that point all my energy had gone into trying to convince God to change my circumstance. I was sure this painful situation was an oversight by Him. I thought, “Surely God did not actually intend for me to have to go through this problem. If I can just get Him to see things my way, God will realize He messed up and relieve me of my pain.” I spent a lot of time pleading with God and bringing the necessary evidence before Him to win my case. However, the situation was not changing. One day while I was out for a run and bringing my problem to God yet again, a thought came into my mind that was so clearly from God I nearly stopped dead in my tracks. I heard God say to me,
"Julia, I know better than you and I know what I’m doing.”
Until that encounter with God I realized I had essentially been telling God what to do. My prayer-life had been focused on trying to get God to change my situation. After this moment my prayers changed from “God change my situation” to “God change me.” My entire perspective changed when God revealed to me that this painful circumstance was not a mistake or oversight but had a purpose in my life. I began to pray, “God, teach my whatever I’m supposed to learn so I never have to learn this again.” Interestingly enough, when the focus of my prayer life changed to “God, change me”, the situation ended up also being changed.
God doesn’t accidentally let things happen. He has a plan and a purpose for everything that comes into our lives. In John 16:33 Jesus says, “ These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Peace does not come from a change in a situation but from change in perspective.
God has told us what to expect in this life- grief, pain, sadness, and times of uncertainty but the good news of the gospel is we have the ability to have peace in the midst of all of it. We serve a God who has a purpose for our situation and says to all who are listening, “Trust me, I know what I’m doing.”
(As seen on FirstDallasWomen.org)