The Joy of the Lord is my Strength: Nehemiah 8:10


I have wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. So, after saying “I do” 18 years ago, Jeff and I were ready to start a family. We waited and waited on the Lord to answer our prayers. I would continue to pray and press into the Lord with each disappointment but, still no baby. I remember specifically praying to the Lord, and hearing Him clearly speak the words “you will have joy” to me. Initially, I would cling to those words and cry out to the Lord “where is the Joy that you promised me?” I thought the only way I would be joyful was to have a baby because that was the desire of my heart. However, that clearly was not what the Lord meant; I had to find my joy in Him. The plan that I had four our family was not what the Lord had for us. His plan was much more perfect.

Looking back on those years which I thought were so sad – I truly see the joy of the Lord and how He worked in my life. I went from “we will do whatever it takes to have a baby” to “I just want to be a mom” to “maybe we should consider adoption”. It brings me to tears to consider what would have happened had we not considered adoption. I wouldn’t be Marly’s mom – and being her mom will always be the greatest gift that God has given me. I am so thankful for the trials that led to the adoption of our daughter. I know that sounds crazy to women going through the trials and sadness of being childless or barren right now. During that difficult season in my own life, I can truly say that I learned to trust the Lord, believe His promises, and find my joy in Him .

…once our eyes are opened, we can’t pretend we don’t know what to do. God, who weighs our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act.” Proverbs 24:12

GuatemalaThe Lord’s plan was much more than giving me the gift of motherhood. He has broken my heart for orphans, the poor, and the country in which my daughter was born: Guatemala. However, it has taken awhile for me to realize that God means for me to act on these feelings – not just sit back waiting for the perfect time “to go”. When opportunities arose for me to participate in mission trips to Guatemala – I decided to say “yes – I’ll go.” Marly has now expressed a desire to one day serve in Guatemala as well. Another desire that I had not been acting on that God was cultivating in my heart was to become involved in orphan care here in our city. For years, I have had the numbers and names of several people who work in orphan care and women’s ministry. I just hadn’t found the perfect time to act.

2015 was the most painful and heartbreaking year for my self and my family. My brother, who I have adored since birth, suddenly became very ill and was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. For six months he fought a courageous battle and I truly believed with all my heart that God was going to heal him. For six months I prayed in confidence, rallying everyone I could to pray the same. Unfortunately for us, my brother was not healed in this life, but instead found his healing in Heaven. It was incredibly difficult for to watch my elderly parents say good bye to their son and to see my sister in law, who had not left his side once during his six month battle, be left alone. So, how do you find Joy in such sorrow? I believe it is only by clinging to the Hope we have in Jesus – depending on Him for the strength for each day. It is seeking His word – for comfort, for hope, for understanding, and yes, even joy.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full”. John 15:11

“May the God of Hope fill you with all Joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

The Joy of the Lord is my Strength!” Nehemiah 8:10

I can truly say that I watched and experienced unimaginable strength be given to my brother during his time of sickness and to all of us all throughout that time. We kept our eyes focused on Him and found joy in the Lord’s promises. We have the comfort and peace of knowing that my brother is where we long to be, and that the Lord’s promise for him has been

The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the Joy that’s coming. Romans 8:18.

The loss of my brother woke me up to the fact that we are not guaranteed a tomorrow. We must Live for the Lord Today! The Lord has continued to place on my heart the love of children. I decided to not keep waiting for a convenient time to “get involved” in orphan care here in our city. I sent an email to Orphan Care Alliance simply asking, “do you have the need for volunteers?” That email led me to a meeting with Sarah Cook, director of Safe Families for Children with Orphan Care Alliance. I only wish that I could have been as wise and passionate about the Lord and children as Sarah is at such a young age. From this meeting I learned that there are other ways to care for the fatherless outside of adoption or foster care. Safe Families is being the church for families in crisis – showing love and keeping families together. I was awakened to the crisis of homelessness here in our city. There is such a Huge need for the church to begin showing Biblical Hospitality here in our city. I have had the privilege of serving with some amazing families, and watching the Lord move in their lives.

So, this amazing Plan that God has had for me was so much bigger than the initial prayer of wanting to be a mom. I may have been a slow learner but, I am not hesitating to say “yes” anymore to God’s plan. I am choosing to find my Joy in Him in every situation. I’m really excited to see where His plan will lead our family. I am also hopeful that God will use Springdale Community Church to be a church ready to serve families in crisis.

–Debbie Presser

closeupPresser 2I have been married to my husband, Jeff, for 18 years and we have a beautiful 9 year old daughter, Marly. I have practiced as a registered occupational therapist for 20 years, & have been blessed in so many ways with this profession. I am a family coach with Safe Families for Children ministry with OCA, and an American Heritage Girls squad leader. I enjoy spending time with my family, extended family, & friends. I am an animal lover and our family has 2 dogs, Rosie and Dug & a cat Mittens. I enjoy gardening and love the beach.

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