5 Lessons Learned from 20-30

I turned 30 this week and I am strangely excited about it. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and thought I’d list some of the things that stand out as lessons I’ve learned this decade. In no particular order here they go:

  1. One child, or person for that matter, means a lot to God, and if He has given you only one to care for, He has given you a precious and meaningful thing.

I spent a lot of my twenties caring for one child at a time. First I cared for one very special girl who had autism, then one sweet little boy I nannied for full time, and then my own beautiful daughter Adelle, who was my only child for nearly four years, and I was her stay-at-home mom. That was a lot of one-on-one time God gave me with three amazing children, and He saw fit to use the majority of my twenties in a way that seems so small, but I have no doubt in my mind of how significant and meaningful those times were.

  1. Being a mom, a wife, and a keeper of the home is enough.

This one really hits me hard, because last year I was not able to be Adelle’s primary caregiver, not because of choice, but because I was physically in too much pain. Being a mom isn’t easy, and being a mom when you have health problems sometimes feels impossible. Being a “home keeper” at times really has been impossible.

This year has been so much better, but I have really battled with anemia and ups and downs with pain issues, so at times I have definitely felt like I can’t “do my job.” But God has been good, He has helped us, and I have had a lot of good times this year. I am excited for our future as a family. I took my daughter Adelle for a bike ride the other day and I was so full of joy you might think I was loony. It felt like heaven to me, and I appreciate those times so much because of the times I have missed out on them. When we got back she asked me for a snack, and to my delight I still had enough energy to make one for her and one for my husband too. I was really excited to not be falling over half dead by the time I got home- I mean like, really excited.

Being a mom and wife in this family is something I can’t take for granted. I realize now what an incredible blessing it is, even though it can be so hard. God has given me more in this family than I could ever hope to find elsewhere, and I am so thankful. (Note, I am not saying women cannot do things outside of the home- I am currently taking a University course! But I don’t need to add to my role to find fulfillment or prove I am enough).

3. Job 2:10 “Shall we indeed receive good from God, and not accept adversity?”

I don’t know how many times I have battled this out. Enough times that I would hope I have really learned it, but it is usually a wrestling match. There is no peace when we don’t accept whatever comes from God’s hand. When we resist His will. When we say He is unfair, and when we actually believe we deserve something better, whether we say it out loud or not.

Whatever the circumstances, I have learned that God provides peace when I recognize that I do not ultimately get to have a claim to what I want or think is best for me. He knows. He is wiser than me.

  1. “If the Lord wills” is not a cliché. Those have become some of the most freeing and peace giving words in my life.

Going back to the last point, I have learned that I can accept adversity while hoping for and even pressing relentlessly towards relief from that adversity. If the Lord wills, I will overcome. If the Lord wills, He will bless my efforts. If the Lord wills, I can achieve my goals in spite of this adversity. And if He does not will, He will stop me in my tracks. He will thwart my efforts. He has the right to do that! He knows what is best. If I recognize that my life is in His almighty and loving hands to do with as He pleases, what is there left to fear?

  1. You don’t need it all by 30.

Speaking of thwarted plans- hah! Actually, I stand amazed at all the Lord has done in our lives. Two kids, a house, and my husband works from home full time running his business. I marvel how we ever made this work, and know it can only be because of God’s provision.

As far as my ambitions or even plain desires outside of this realm, God has often made me unable to run after them! He has kept my life small, and even the small things have often felt harder than I think they should, but small does not mean insignificant, and guess what? I’m only thirty y’all.


Evil Suspicions


1Timonthy 6:1-10 gives us incredible insight into the sinful motivations and hang-ups of false teachers and I welcome you to read it before continuing. We see first that they teach different or “new” doctrines, and do not agree with the words of Jesus. Jesus’ teaching leads to godliness, while their teaching and nature is conceited and puffed up, producing things opposing to godliness. Verses 4-5 says about the false teacher:

“He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”

The false teacher has chosen a controversial and likely “special” revelation which he thinks he has had, and narrows in on it. Likely, he obsesses with one, or a few select topics, which do not point people to Jesus Christ for salvation. He chooses scriptural phrases which suit his message, and twists them, or gives them a whole new meaning, and if he is corrected he fights back. The products of his pride and error are envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction.

The false teacher is motivated by money, plain and simple. He is “imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” He is looking to Jesus for financial wealth, because money is his first love. He (or she in more recent times) will point their hearers to Jesus for the same thing.

The Christian, on the other hand knows that “there is great gain in godliness with contentment,” and should bear fruit consistent with sound doctrine and right motivations, primarily love for God. 1 Timothy goes on in fact, to tell us how the “man of God” must “Flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness (verse 11).” A Christian should not bear fruit similar to that of the arrogant false teacher. Continue reading


You Are Never Doing Nothing

If for some reason you are ever rendered incapable of doing much of anything, you will likely know the insecurity and restlessness that goes with it.


Insecurity, because as people we have so much of our perceived worth wrapped up in what we do. Our capabilities, responsibilities, and hobbies are what make us who we are. When we are no longer able to take on those things, we are left with little left to talk about, and find it painfully difficult to relate with those who are busy doing things.

You have a sense that you are existing more than living, and that is an incredibly difficult feeling. I wrote last year of this experience:

And some had easy laughter
And a carefree kind of sway,
They flittered and they fluttered,
Humming through the day.

“What have I to offer?”
The bruised reed said
From the ground,
“The glory’s gone over my head
But I am sinking down.
Up above the light is shining,
Sweet perfume fills the air,
But down here is decaying,
And an awful load of care.”

There is a potentially crippling sense that because you are not accomplishing things you are not valuable, nor are you even interesting.


I say restless, because we are used to doing things and being busy, and when life becomes slow and monotonous, all the hours rolling into one, it is easy to be anxious. But a sadder thing happens when you are stuck in that place for a long period of time. You accept your current reality and even if you are able to hope for improvement, when that hope is a long way off (even weeks or months), it is a dreadful wait. You begin to look forward to nothing more than going to sleep at night, and perhaps, if things are particularly bad, even night does not bring relief. Continue reading


We Rejoice In Our Sufferings



Romans 5:3-5 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

“We rejoice in our sufferings.”

We have here a totally unnatural response to suffering. Only God can produce that. It isn’t hard to be angry or frustrated with suffering. If we just give way to our fleshly, automatic responses, this is likely where we are headed. Nobody wants to suffer. I don’t want to suffer. I want an easy life; I want goals met without roadblocks, I want plans carried out without interruptions, I want pleasure that is unhindered by pain, I want choices that are dictated by pure want and not scribbled out by limitations. I want myself and everyone I love to be healthy and happy.

I suppose we call that hedonism. For the Christian, we might not want to attain this “easy” and “pleasure-filled” life in the same way the world might, or at least we shouldn’t. Many of the pleasures of this world Christ has made ugly in our eyes. But if that is the case it doesn’t mean we are free of self-indulgent want. It doesn’t mean we are free of the idolatrous and entitled thirst for easiness.

Simply put, we want a smooth road and pleasures by the wayside. Comfortable and enjoyable friendships, respectful children, loving spouses, a healthy church, steady income, hobbies, health, vacations, laughter- simple things. Not ungodly things. Good things. And it is so easy to make them all idols.

So I’m preaching to myself. Suffering can lay its hand on so many avenues of life. It can interrupt our “good things,” or turn them upside down. It can even destroy them completely. And who wants to rejoice at that?

No. It is not a natural response. In fact, many circumstances call for what I have called “fitting sadness.” Rejoicing does not mean there must be the absence of sorrow, for the bible says we are “sorrowful yet always rejoicing (2Corinthians 6:10).”

But here we have it. “We rejoice in our sufferings,” strange as it seems, and the scripture says it is because of what we know God is going to produce through them. Continue reading


Last Year- past the end of my rope.

January of last year I found out I was expecting our second child. I was half excited and half terrified, my dream and my dread all wrapped up in one.

New Years Eve of 2015 I had prayed more earnestly than that whole year before that I would conceive again. It was the first time I wanted another baby more than I wanted to escape pain. I prayed, and believed God would answer that prayer in the following year. It was the end of a hard year. Over three hard years. I had so much physical pain with my first pregnancy, and that pain was only just starting to fade three years after my daughter was born. Pain that stabbed me every time I walked and prevented me from doing so much of life. Pregnancy causes severe back and pelvic pain for me, and experience told me that healing from it and getting back to life was a nearly impossible task.

That New Year’s Eve I wrote:

“I don’t know that I’ve ever been so low
As this year
Or as high,
It was a battle knowing no retreats
Though bombs like rain
Fell from the sky.”

I was still scared that God would answer my prayer for a baby at the end of a year in which I battled so hard and was left weary, needing rest. If He did, how was I going to survive it? I was so spent with pain, so ready to move beyond it, yet I wanted another child so desperately. I ended that poem praying:

“Here I am- empty without You,
Take me up
Upon Your shoulder bear,
This year I pray you will surprise me
But You must carry my care.
Be it dark
Provide for me a spark-
Be it bright
Then dance me in that light.” Continue reading

pic from steph

The Woman on the Internet

My heart has been grieved by recent events involving the Ashley Madison account, and especially when I hear of fellow Christian families whose lives have been impacted by this. I am burdened as a fellow sinner in this fallen, tainted world. Who isn’t impacted in some shape or form by the seduction of this present world, and the ever readily available and in-your-face pornographic content flooding it? Who is there without need of grieving? Of fearing? Of praying and battling? This is an issue the church and individual families need to face with the seriousness of Proverbs 5-7. Father’s need to be warning and instructing their sons. Go down this path- and die, says Solomon to his son. What comes to those who follow the adulteress is this: The hunting down and destruction of precious life, burning, scorching, punishment, violence, wounds, dishonor, and disgrace.

“All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life (Proverbs 7:23).”

Blind lust makes dumb, and it makes men forget. Would you forsake your wife? Would you forsake the “water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well (Proverbs 5:15)”? Would you harden your heart to the Lord and pretend He does not see? So many do, and they do it not only to their own hurt, but to the hurt of their God and their families. It doesn’t get more serious than that.

There is much that needs to be said on this topic, but I wrote this poem only to address men, and to point to the hope found in Christ. I hope it might be used in somebody’s life to the glory of God.

The Woman on the Internet

The woman on the internet
Doesn’t make you wise,
The woman on the internet
Doesn’t give you life,
The woman on the internet
Leads you into lies,
The woman on the internet
She is not your wife.

The woman on the internet
Calls you with allure
The woman on the internet
Says you’ll dwell secure
The woman on the internet
Hunts down life that’s dear
The woman on the internet
Perverts what is pure.

Now to the men who look at her-
Do not cast your blame,
Now to the men who look at her
You did seek your shame.
Now to the men who look at her
Quick pleasure your aim,
Now to the men who look at her
Like fire is a game.

That woman – does she know your touch?
That woman – does she love you much?
That woman – do her arms surround?
That woman – does her kiss resound?

Your secrets have a thin veneer
Your secrets God has seen quite clear
Your secrets to the surface near
Your secrets which enslave with fear.

The woman on the internet
Seemed to you so free,
The woman on the internet
Came so easily,
The woman on the internet
Had you as if drunk,
The woman on the internet
Where many men have sunk.

The Lord would from such trouble save,
The Lord would lift you from this grave,
The Lord would tell you to repent,
The Lord would straighten what’s been bent.


The Desolation of Smug

Trials have a way of killing smugness. I suppose some little wave crashes upon a boulder and he doesn’t feel it much. But there are waves that beat upon a stone without relent, and sometimes he thinks “I’m surely going to crash into this sea like so many tiny pebbles do.”

It’s the long relentless trials, often repeated, in which desperate men cry out for deliverance with parched throats and eyes that dim of scanning the horizon (Psalm 69:3)- these are the trials which put a knife to smugness.

To be smug is to “be contentedly confident of one’s ability, superiority, or correctness; complacent.” You can see it in the life of people who store up their treasures and say to themselves “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry (Luke 12:20).” We see it in those who simply live without acknowledging God or His ways, fill up their measure of sin, and tell themselves “He will do nothing; no disaster will come upon us (Jeremiah 5:12).”

It’s easy to identify smugness in unbelievers isn’t it? And we might have some patience for that, since after all, they don’t know God. But there are some sins, or struggles the smug believer thinks he or she would never be tried with. The things “good” and “real” Christians just don’t do, or even think of doing. Good Christians don’t get divorced. They don’t curse, or hit things, or hit others. They don’t hurt themselves or have “mental breakdowns.” Good Christians aren’t tempted to use alcohol or drugs to dampen the pain and difficulties of life. They don’t get bitter. They don’t experience large scale moral failures. The “true” Christian doesn’t question God’s purposes and never thinks- “perhaps a different path would have led to a happier, easier life.” That “real” Christian never has doubts about His God or His faith.

The smug believer thinks he doesn’t do those thing because he simply couldn’t do those things. He is too good a Christian in fact. It would be impossible for him because he has climbed too high for such a heinous, ignorant, and disgraceful stoop. He knows too much truth and has too pure of motives. His reasons for coming to Jesus were right; he follows Christ for Christ alone, and nothing else that might be gained. Take the world but give him Jesus, and he will be just fine. He is sure.

The problem is not that he despises the thought of ever sinning or struggling in such ways, but rather that his trust is in himself, and his attitude towards failing believers is one of quick readiness to judge and deem them cut off. But trials are not so easy and glamorous a tool of refining believers as sometimes they are made to sound. People talk about their victories but we often don’t hear how trials will prove you ugly before they start to make you pure. Consider this excerpt from a poem I have written reflecting on this topic:

“Did you think
To put you in a furnace
Would not scorch your skin?
To come out gold
With easy glee
And not the surfacing of sin?
Or that boiling water hot
Would like a warm bath
Scathe you not?
Like sinking in so comfortably
To fire should come easily?”

When a Christian goes into the boiling pot and stays in it for a long time, God will undoubtedly grow and refine that Christian. I look back on this long trial with chronic pain and I see a hundred idols slain. But it is not as if they crumbled down themselves. They’ve been slain through tears, constant battle, and much travail in prayer. The longer I go through the trials, the more I see that there is no temptation uncommon to men (1Corinthians 10:13), and there is no temptation or sinful thought too sinful for myself. I see those idols slain, but I know their root lies in my own heart and when my eyes go off my God how quickly they resurrect. I see that this battle isn’t won until I finally find myself safe in the arms of God. I will overcome and conquer one doubt or one sinful wish, but it will rear its head again. I’m not sure there’s such a thing as killing a sin (including smugness!) once and for all. When you’re living in a trial it is constant war and you must kill the flesh daily or quickly lurch towards destruction.

If it were not for God you’d find my faith somewhere dashed upon a rock. I’m certain of it. Trials have had their way of desolating smugness in me, but there is (thank God!) a higher rock than I (Psalm 61:2). Smugness and security are not the same thing. Eternal security- the promise of God that He who began a work of salvation in me will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6)- is my hope and joy. It is my confidence in the day of trouble.

My confidence is a person. My trust is in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I’ll echo these words from hymnist John Berridge:

“Thou poor, afflicted, tempted soul,
With fears, and doubts, and tempests tossed…
What if the billows rise and roll,
And dash the ship-
It is not lost;
The winds and waves and fiends may roar,
But Christ will bring thee safe on shore.”

About the smug heart, I have written previously:

Did you think endurance
Meant to never fall?
So with steady steps
To conquer all?
So worthily you might
Win the crown?
And say at last
“Was me who won
By never falling down”?
The valiant and strong
Shall win the prize!
All Heaven will esteem me
With their eyes!

Do you see how that attitude differs from the Christian who has seen they are a ship who left to their own will drift off in the turbulent seas and be dashed? Oh, but even if he drift for a time, even if the winds, and waves, and fiends assail him, and he approaches his shore as one almost sunk- be it certain, Christ will bring him safe on shore. He is not lost.

That is the hope I’m clinging to, and am learning to embrace with godly fear- fear that takes seriously the warnings in scripture that urge us not to fall away, while clinging to the only Savior who can sustain our hope, our faith, and our strength. Eternal security is not a doctrine that leads to sin, unless we have careless hearts which cast ourselves on a doctrine rather than a person (Christ), with an attitude of smugness. That is dangerous, and a real threat. But when shattered hearts lean into the Everlasting Arms, resting safe and secure from all alarms, that indeed, is a beautiful thing. God who sees the heart knows the difference.

I end with a portion of scripture that seems fitting:

1Corinthians 10:12-14 “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. 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. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”

mom daughter

More Than a Parenting Method

Within weeks of my daughter’s birth (almost three years ago *sob*) I felt totally disillusioned by baby-parenting books. They had given me tried-and-true methods for happy-mom/happy-baby success, but none of it really pulled through and broke those endless hours of screaming. Needless to say, I was not too enthusiastic about parenting books anymore.

Raising toddlers is a whole other ball game. I love my daughter to absolute pieces, but nobody told me that a two year old girl and a sixteen year old aren’t all that different… Does that came out insulting? Let me explain. The other day I asked my almost-three year old daughter to clean her room and her response: “That’s mommy’s job.”


But for the most part we have fun. Best of all, we have love. For every bad moment there are many more good ones. I get to hear “I love you mommy,” every single day, and “Just stay one more minute” every night. When I’m really lucky I get a “Mommy you’re so sweet and nice,” or “Mommy you’re my best friend.” Continue reading


New Blog Announcement!

Hello readers! I’ve been blogging here at Come to Christ, since 2009. The Lord has been so good to me, and has done so much work in my heart these past five years through this avenue. I am starting up a new blog that I want to let you know about, at I want you to know that I intend to keep Come to Christ running, but I want to make this new blog a higher priority, which means I will be posting on here less often.

A few reasons why I’ve started a new blog:

I’ve been writing poetry since I was around twelve years old, and it has played a crucial role in my life. Even as an unbeliever, poetry seemed to force me to be honest with myself about the condition of my soul, and in truth, that process had much to do with my coming to Jesus Christ. When I was saved around the age of eighteen I committed that my writing was to be first, and foremost, for the glory of God.

There are many reasons I’ve started up a poetry blog. I’ve faced many physical difficulties in my twenties, one of them being with my wrists. Pumping out lengthier articles (and attempted novels) doesn’t fare too well with my body most days. A few weeks back I confessed to the Lord I felt like I was constantly being driven into a corner; so I prayed that if I be in a corner, may He blow the roof off of it and let me see more glory and more beauty than I would ever be able to see in open fields.

I don’t know if that makes sense to you, but trust that it makes perfect sense to me.

Also, may it be said, that poetry is the form of writing that brings me the greatest sense of delight and satisfaction. I have long lamented that I was born in the wrong century and that “no one seems to care about poetry anymore.” Well, I feel challenged that perhaps that is not true.

Lastly, I recently read “Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully,” by one of my favorite writers and preachers, John Piper. I suggest you read it too as it mightily encouraged me in poetic pursuit.

What I hope (key word being hope) to accomplish with this blog:

1. I want to hone my own writing skills and bless first the Lord, then people with my poetry.

2. I want to read more stuff by poets and hymn writers of old. Then I want to share the best of it with you.

3. Of course I’m also happy to share poems or review poetry books by people far more accomplished then myself who have already published! Feel free to let me know what’s out there!

4. I want to share my love of hymns with you and try to feature modern artists who promote that same aim.

5. I want others to join me! I am hoping to receive and share some excellent, little-known or unknown poetry from other writers. Beyond that how awesome would it be if we could collaborate? I like to dream about musicians, and videographers, and photographers, and actors, and poets all collaborating together- but perhaps I dream too much?

Well, it doesn’t hurt to dream does it? In the meantime I’ll try to stay faithful to my meager efforts, as the Lord allows me to. I hope you will take time to visit my new website and perhaps share, subscribe, or follow on Facebook!


Charlene Nelson


Hem Me In

He had hemmed me in
Behind and before,
Drew the lines that fall
But I thought to soar
Past sunsets that looked
Like bars might prove more.

Pastures green, like plain
Bread, stale and dry
Rolled on for days; Streams
Meandered nearby-
My eyes gazed elsewhere,
I refused to lie.

“Pleasant places, these,”
Said a lamb. I nod,
Pretend, but o’er the
Valley there’s a broad
Place with less restraints-
To please! But not God…

Oh, but there to taste
To spread like wild vine!
Should such a pleasure
Be deprived of mine?
Can sweet fruit not grow
Among fainter lines? Continue reading