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Living in the Light

 

 

The Baby Given to Women Who Miscarry

Jessalyn Hutto

This article was published on October 15, 2015 at The Gospel Coalition. You can find the entire article here.

"Her eyes welling over with tears, my friend looked me full in the face and asked an honest question: What does the gospel have to do with my miscarriage?

The question sounded simple, but I knew the answer could be life-changing. I also knew there was nothing simple about her grief—the pain and bewildering loss that flows from having a baby stripped from your womb too soon. And I knew my empathy wouldn’t be nearly enough to mend her broken heart. She needed genuine hope for her future, and a biblical explanation for her pain.

Twice now, I’ve been her. I’ve been the one sitting in a doctor’s office staring at grainy black-and-white images of my dead baby, tears pouring down my cheeks. Twice now, as the cold news of an absent heartbeat met my ears, I’ve been plunged into the deep, wrenching grief reserved for mothers who’ve lost an unborn child. The sting of death is in no way lessened by the invisible nature of such loss. It is real, and it is horrible.

Yet the truth of the gospel has provided immeasurable comfort to me in the midst of such pain. So when my friend posed that question—that crucial questionmy heart leapt at the opportunity to point her wounded soul to the comforting, joy-inducing reality of Jesus Christ. Because his gospel truly is everything to a woman who has miscarried."

Continue reading here.

Bookmarks

Jessalyn Hutto

Here are some encouraging articles I've read recently. I hope that you will be blessed by them as well...

Going from Strength to Strength

“‘How are you really doing?”

This is a question that has been asked of me during the past weeks since we discovered that I have a brain lesion. Each person who has asked me this question has the sincere desire to care for me and to give me the opportunity to share any concerns or issues that I have not expressed on my Facebook posts.  I am so very grateful for these friends and the way that they are providing a safe place for me to be open and vulnerable.

I thank the Lord that I can honestly say that what you have been reading in my posts has been how I really am doing.  “What you see is what you get” is a saying that can be applied to me, thus far.

That being said, allow me to tell you about the daily (often hourly) battle that I have been having in order to maintain the hope, peace, joy, and faith that God has given me during this trial.  This is not an easy journey or a battle that does not need to be fought on a daily basis.  Sometimes I think about the discussion that God and Abel had in Genesis 4:7 when God told Abel that “sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”  I know that fear, despair, discontent, and anger are right outside my door and that if I don’t take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5), then I am “giving the devil an opportunity” (Eph. 4:27) and a foothold in my life.”

Re-Orienting Our Understanding of Sexual Orientation

“While her lesbian sexuality still did not feel ‘unnatural’, it occurred to her that she didn’t have to feel it to believe it. ‘When we defend our right to a particular sin, we are cherishing it. Painfully I’ve come to believe homosexuality is a sin. But so is homophobia. For those who struggle with homosexuality, I know it is a heavy cross to bear.’

Christians need to be careful not to add an unbearable weight to the burden, Butterfield cautioned. ‘The solution for all sin is repentance’. Butterfield said that while Christians can struggle with homosexual temptations, they cannot just add Jesus to the mix and not repent. ‘Make no mistake. This is spiritual war. Our identity cannot be rooted in sin.’”

Your Shattered Dreams and Shaken Faith

“Sometimes my faith is shaken when my dreams are shattered.

I wonder where God is in the midst of my suffering. I cannot sense his presence. I feel alone and afraid. My faith wavers.

I question what I have long believed. I wonder what is real, especially when my experience doesn’t match my expectations.

This wavering deeply troubles me. I have tasted God’s goodness, enjoyed close fellowship with him, rested in his tender care. I have known both his power and his love. Yet in the midst of profound struggle, I have no answers. Just questions.”

Comforting Those Caught in the Crossfires of the Abortion Debate

“It’s been 33 years since the Lord brought me to a place of healing from my abortion, but I remember the journey as if it were yesterday. I had been living with the secret sin of abortion for almost 10 years. Trapped in the middle of a culture war throughout the 1970s and 1980s, I felt I had no place to turn.

I was a pregnant, unmarried 18-year-old in 1972 when I walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic in Topeka, Kansas. They referred me to a clinic in New York City where abortion was legal at the time. (The next year’s Roe v. Wade ruling would legalize abortion throughout the whole country.)

In the years following my abortion, I began to witness two opposing sides lobbing personal insults like grenades. On one side of the street outside the abortion clinic, women demanded their reproductive “rights.” On the other side, pro-life protesters holding pictures of dead babies called women coming out of the clinic “baby killers.” Given my experience, I didn’t feel I belonged in either camp.”

Remembering the Little Ones Who Go Before

Jessalyn Hutto

I received an unexpected card in the mail yesterday from a friend. This friend. I'm amazed by her. In the midst of caring for her three precious babes, she has been faithful to remember my miscarried babies and sought to encourage my mourning heart every year since she's known me.

She is the kind of friend every woman hopes to have. 

She is the kind of friend I aspire to be.

She is God's grace in my life.

Her card arrived the day before Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day - a special day set aside for the purpose of drawing attention to the many babies who've been tragically lost in miscarriages and stillbirths. 

On this special day, I remember two children: a tiny image-bearer who was only six weeks old in my womb when he or she died, and a daughter who was 15 weeks old when her spirit left this earth. Both of their lives were precious to me and their deaths were times of great darkness in my world.

But through that darkness - the sorrow that flows from such devastating manifestations of the fall - shone forth the light of Jesus' love. He carried me through each devastating loss, always pointing my wounded soul to the hope of a coming day when sin and death and suffering would be no more.

He was always helping me to see that beyond the cross, their is heaven.

Does not heaven become all the more real to you, once you've lost a child? Suddenly you find your heart tied to that unseen place in a way you've never known before. To imagine my dear little ones with the Savior - that all-loving, all-caring, all-kind Jesus! To imagine them without the burden of sin or sadness to distract them from his perfect love! It fills my heart with joy. 

I'd like to share a poem with you today, dear sisters, which I briefly quote in my book, Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the WombIt is a poem by Elizabeth Prentiss, the author of the beloved book Stepping Heavenward. Elizabeth was no stranger to suffering the pain of losing a child as she shares in these powerful words, but she was also able to see the glorious realities of heaven beyond the pain. I pray that her words will bless your heart today if you are grieving the loss of a child of your own...

 

The Mother

by Elizabeth Prentiss

 

As I have seen a mother bend

With aching, bleeding heart,

O'er lifeless limbs and lifeless face -

So have I had to part

 

With the sweet prattler at my knee,

the baby from my breast,

And on the lips so cold in death,

Such farewell kisses prest. 

 

If I should live a thousand years

Time's hand cannot efface,

The features painted on my heart

Of each beloved face.

 

If I should bathe in endless seas

They could not wash away

The memory of these children's forms; -

How fresh it is to-day.

 

Ah, how my grief has taught my heart

To feel another's woe!

With what a sympathetic pang

I watch the tear-drops flow!

 

Dear Jesus! must Thou take our lambs,

Our cherished lambs away?

Thou hast so many, we so few - 

Canst Thou not let them stay?

 

Must the round limbs we love so well,

Grow stiff and cold in death?

Must all our loveliest flowerets fall

Before his ice breath?

 

Nay Lord, but it is hard, is hard -

Oh give us faith to see,

That grief, not joy is best for us

Since it is sent by Thee.

 

And oh, by all our mortal pangs

hear Thou the mother's plea -

Be gracious to the darling ones

We've given back to Thee.

 

Let them not miss the mother's love,

The mother's fond caress;

Gather them to Thy gentle breast

In faithful tenderness.

 

Oh Lead them into pastures green,

And unto living springs;

Gather them in Thine arms, and shield 

Beneath They blessed wings.

 

Ah, little reck we that we weep,

And wring our empty hands; -

Blessed, thrice blessed are infant feet,

That walk Immanuel's lands!

 

Blessed the souls that ne'er shall know

Of sin the mortal taint,

The hearts that ne'er shall swell with grief

Or utter a complaint!

 

Brief pangs for us, long joy for them!

Thy holy Name we bless,

We could not give them up to Thee,

Lord, if we loved them less!

I'd like to invite you to join me today at The Gospel Coalition where I'm sharing how the gospel relates to miscarriage.  And as always, feel free to contact me if you are in the midst of a miscarriage. I'd love to pray for you and offer any encouragement that I can.

Bookmarks

Jessalyn Hutto

Here are some helpful articles I've read over the past few days, perhaps they will be a blessing to you too...

Home Alone: The Lies that Tie Us to Our Phones

"The same device that connects us with people all over the world alienates us from those just across the room. It’s the in-home home-wrecker. The trade-offs are pretty silly when we stop and look up long enough to weigh them. We trade the needs in front of us, the meaningful conversation with our spouse or children, the opportunity to truly know and be known, and for what?"

Similarly, here are some eerie photographs of people with their smartphones photoshopped out of the picture.

Positive Purity

"Do you see it? Sexual purity is not ultimately about what to avoid, but what to pursue and what to enjoy. It’s about putting those old and ugly behaviors to death in order to free yourself to pursue the better ones. God wants to free you from sin so you can enjoy his gifts. God’s purity is a positive purity."

Can the Devil Read My Mind? 

"A similar question would be, Can Satan be at more than one place at a time? I would be inclined to say no. I doubt that in my lifetime I will ever have to worry about Satan reading my mind, because I will probably never meet him. He can only be in one place at one time. He’s a creature, and creatures by definition are limited spatially and temporally. So Satan cannot be at more than one place at a time. He has all his little junior assistants, and he might send one of them to harass me and to tempt you and accuse you, but he’s going to save his time and energy for people of greater influence than me."

We Need to Talk About Submission

"I find myself surprised when someone speaks in a straightforward manner of the God-ordained role of a wife to lovingly support and submit to her husband (who has his own God-ordained expectations as he submits to Christ). Increasingly, it seems, the subject is deemed unfit for polite conversation, even among believers — even from the pulpit.

Perhaps as a woman, this should please me. The further we drift from talk of submission, the easier my life becomes. With tacit agreement that this is hard, outdated, and maybe even unfair, I am free to embrace a measure of leadership, assertiveness, and other “natural gifts” in my home.

But as a follower of Christ, my desire is to see Jesus glorified, not my flesh. And submission is tied directly to the glory and honor due to our Lord and his word. The dialogue may not be replete with “amens,” but here are three reasons we need to talk unapologetically about submission."

He is Not Just God

Jessalyn Hutto

It is always startling when one of my children calls me by my first name. The sound of their tiny voices, saying the word "Jessalyn" or the more familiar "Jess" catches me off guard. They've only recently begun to experiment with names in this way as they've only recently begun to understand that their mommy and daddy have proper names just like they do.

Of course, as they've dipped their toes into the exciting waters of proper name usage, we've had to remind them that they are not to call us by our first names, they are to continue calling us Mommy and Daddy. "But everyone else gets to call you Jess!" my middle son pleads.

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Bookmarks

Jessalyn Hutto

Here are some encouraging articles I have read this week. I hope you find them helpful...

Take Every Task Captive Today

"Don’t believe this is a problem today? Try setting aside time in the middle of your day to pray or call other believers at your workplace to pray with you at the same time once a week. Watch how the tyranny of work makes that fifteen or thirty minutes feel burdensome, unnecessary, or inefficient. We build and build, fold and fold, work and work, without any sense of who’s in charge or what’s really happening. We quietly, even routinely, build our personal Babel, each task just another block in our own Jenga tower.

John Piper says, “When we don’t want to stop working and pray, we are drunk with American productivity.” He based that thought on 1 Peter 4:7: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers” (1 Peter 4:7). For the sake of our prayers, we must be sober — that is, not drunk. When we postpone, avoid, or put off prayer, we’re inebriated with a sense of our own strength, gifts, and output. “I don’t have time to pray today.” To the sober, this is insanity."

Why White Churches are Hard for Black People

"Yet too often it feels as if many whites refuse to imagine what it feels like to be the minority or to love the minority. White church’s church planting strategies sometimes reflect this refusal. While it is wonderful that many white churches seek to put young black men in leadership, many forgo sending that young black man back into a black church context. Beware of the temptation young black brothers have to leave the black church—where they must pay their dues—for a white church that will rush them to prominence. It sometimes feels as if some white churches consider black churches and black church practices to be unsound—or at least as not as biblically faithful—as a matter of course; I feel this way when white evangelical leaders make offhand comments about the apparent lack of Reformed theology in black churches. But countless black churches have believed and honored a Big God for a long, long time now. And countless black churches need their young men to stay within them.

But some white people hold the institution of the black church in contempt. They accuse its supporters of “dividing the body of Christ!” They don’t realize that when blacks speak of the black church, we’re not just talking about a sociological but a supernatural phenomenon—a bunch of black folk faithfully worshipping God. Some white folk, who decry the black church’s existence, don’t realize that their grandpas, who wouldn’t let blacks worship with their white folk, created the black church."

For the Young Mother: Ministry, Guilt, and Seasons of Life

"Guilt is a young mother’s habitual shadow. It has a nasty way of soaking through many of her efforts at nurturing, serving and loving others. “Am I doing enough for my children? For others? What do they think of me? What does God think of me?”

As a young mother everyone wants something from you—your family, your church, your boss, your neighbor. And most likely, you give way more than you ever thought you could. But along the way guilt nibbles at your soul, eating away your inner peace and joy. And it often lingers through the years, even after your children are grown and gone.

Dear young mother, don’t waste your guilt!"

Are Children a Barrier or Blessing for Missional Communities?

"In talking with others leading or participating in MCs, one thing has become apparent—trying to meaningfully incorporate children into the life of a community on mission is relatively new territory. I’ve seen the church build momentum with this in large corporate gatherings, which is a beautiful evidence of grace upon the church. However, the church must shift focus and begin building similar systems and rhythms for the children in our groups. For most missional communities, the extent that children participate is coming with their parents, usually destroying the host’s home, enjoying unlimited lasagna and cookies, watching a movie, and then leaving at the end of the night. For children under 3, that’s not bad. We want them to enjoy their time. That doesn’t mean they can’t digest basic ideas, songs, and stories about Jesus, but we shouldn’t drowned toddlers under 3 with theology."

How an Affair Really Begins

"At some point, we have all witnessed the devastation of an affair. On the one hand, it is shocking just how much can be destroyed by the act of one person sharing sexual intimacy with another. But on the other hand, it is not shocking at all when we consider how much meaning God has packed into marriage and into the sexual relationship within marriage.

One of the great misconceptions about affairs is that they begin with sex. Affairs do not begin with sex. Falling into bed with a man who is not your husband or a woman who is not your wife is never a sudden, unplanned event. Instead, it is a culminating decision in a long list of terrible, self-centered decisions.

Some time ago Denny Burk and I spoke at a conference, and Denny told us about the 6 “e’s” that Tommy Nelson uses to describe the “ease” with which people fall into extra-marital affairs. I have shared them before but thought it might be helpful to share them again. I believe any married man or woman can benefit by occasionally considering them. Consider it one more means to fulfill 1 Timothy 4:16: “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching.”"

The Lord Who Provides

Jessalyn Hutto

Just a few days ago I wrote, "I cannot allow myself to create imaginary hurdles before those who are lost when God has created a simple and easy means of salvation." 

The words still echo in my mind.

I wonder in the depths of my soul: is it really so easy to be saved? is it really so simple?

For our means of salvation was not in the least bit easy or simple for Jesus.

It was not with a word or with a look that Jesus accomplished the salvation of man. It was with pain, humiliation, and death.

Indeed, as our holy God voluntarily stretched out his arms and feet to be nailed to beams of wood, and as he hung there, voluntarily suffocating in his own lung fluid, I'm certain it never once felt easy or simple to him.

And as the eternal Son of God experienced his Father's complete withdrawal of affections and in their place appeared the full, horrifying wrath of the Holy One against sin, our spotless lamb accomplished the most complex and difficult thing imaginable: the work of atoning for his people's sins and bridging a chasm of infinite width between God and man.

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Bookmarks

Jessalyn Hutto

Here are some really thoughtful articles that I benefited from over the weekend. I hope that they are a blessing to you...

Will God Ever Give Us More Than We Can Handle?

“So, here’s my conclusion: God will never give us more than we can handle. Is that biblically correct? Yes, if we mean God will never give his people trials in which he will not sustain them and bring them through to everlasting glory. We will be enabled to do all we must do to get there.”

Thoughts on Note-Taking During Sermons

“The preacher ought to do his best on each sermon and preach his guts out in an act of audience-of-One worship, but it is best not to trust one sermon for specific results. Instead, we trust a pattern of and persistence in preaching to have a cumulative effect on the hearts of individuals and in the shaping of a local body. Note-taking is a one sermon act of trust. Just listening and exulting in proclamation trusts that it’s okay to miss some good lines or good points, because it trusts the Holy Spirit to be shaping your heart through the preaching of God’s Word.”

On Mr. Keating Moments

“Plato, if we read him more carefully, suggests not: we escape the cave, not for the sake of the escape, but in order to gaze upon the sun (and then, paradoxically, to return to the cave to drag others out.) The escape does little good until, having gotten our eyes accustomed to the light of knowledge, we may behold “the idea of the good,” “the cause of all that is right and fair in everything.” We may treasure liberation as a great good, but not good in itself—rather, good for what it brings. 

What this means is that liberation is never simply “from.” Always, implicitly or explicitly, it is also “towards.” And this realization must profoundly shape our teaching.”

Three Female Ghosts that Haunt the Church

“If you’re a male staff member at a church, I ask you to consider a ghost story of sorts. I don’t think for a minute that you hate women. I know there are valid reasons to take a measured approach to how you interact with us in ministry settings. I absolutely want you to be wise, but I don’t want you to be haunted. Three female ghosts haunt most churches, and I want you to recognize them so you can banish them from yours.

These three ghosts glide into staff meetings where key decisions are made. They hover in classrooms where theology is taught. They linger in prayer rooms where the weakest among us give voice to hurt. They strike fear into the hearts of both men and women, and worse, they breathe fear into the interactions between them. Their every intent is to cripple the ability of men and women to minister to and with one another.”

Bookmarks

Jessalyn Hutto

I feel like today's bookmarks are particularly good. They have been a great encouragement to me, and I pray that they will encourage you as well...

Lay Aside the Weight of Irritability

“The reason irritability is unloving, unrighteous anger is that it is a selfish response to an obstacle to our desire. What we desire may not be sinful, but a selfish response to its denial, delay, or disruption is a failure to trust God at all times (Psalm 62:8) — and often a failure to value, love, and serve another human soul.

Jesus didn’t die for our punctuality, earthly reputation, convenience, or our leisure. But he did die for souls. It is likely that the worth of the soul(s) we’re irritable with is infinitely more precious to God than the thing we desire. We must not dishonor God, whose image that person bears, by being irritable with them. There are necessary times for considered, thoughtful, measured, righteous, loving anger at priceless but sinful souls. But there is never a right time for irritability. Love is not irritable.”

The Leveled Ground Before the Cross

“For every young mom who feels isolated and alone in her season there is an older single who feels isolated and alone. For every man with the weight of the world on his shoulders there is a young man who feels the weight of nothing on his shoulders. For every woman struggling with infertility there is a unmarried person longing for a spouse. For every one in need of the gospel there is another person in need of the gospel.”

“There are endless shelves of them in the local Christian bookstore. They all promise to satisfy our hunger, but how can we know whether we are staring at shelves of Twinkies or organic purple kale? How can we tell which ones are solid spiritual food and which are "edible foodlike substances"?

Partially Hydrogenated Bible Study

Much like junk food manufacturers, Christian writers have been known to appeal to our senses to garner popularity. But the stakes for dining on spiritual junk food are high: Like real junk food, superficial studies sabotage a healthy spiritual appetite and create cravings for teaching that appeals to our feelings or preferences. These are not studies so much as "study-like inspirational musings." Yes, palatable para-studies seem right, but the end thereof is theology-starved spiritual flabbiness”

Spiritual Fruit VS. Self-Righteous Works

“These graces show forth the beauty of the Spirit’s work in the life of a believer. The sap of the Spirit produces fruit in the life of a Christian. Yet, each of us will find ourselves in situations where we feel unloving, impatient, unkind, or lacking in joy or self-control (all of which may have occurred on this morning’s drive to the office).

Faced with our own barren tree, we often attempt to achieve in our own strength what is not growing in our hearts. We determine that we will act lovingly to that unlovable person, be kind to that annoying relative, or faithfully serve in that ministry (while grumbling to ourselves about it). We will work harder, be more disciplined, and pick ourselves up by our proverbial bootstraps and get on with it.”

A Simple Call

Jessalyn Hutto

Here we have a marvelously simple and straightforward explanation of what it means to become a Christian: you must call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Just call.

For belief in Jesus is not a work, it is a recognition of need.

There is an interesting story in the book of Numbers that Jesus uses to illustrate the simplicity of saving faith. It is a story of the ungrateful, complaining, and quarrelsome Israel, just brought out from their slavery in Egypt, just saved from the sword of Pharaoh, and just released from their chains of torment.

But they were not happy with their gracious and loving God who had so recently walked them through the Red Sea on dry ground. Their new life didn't suit their suddenly high standards. Apparently, freedom was not all that they had hoped it would be. Yes, God miraculously provided food for them from heaven - food meant to perfectly sustain them on their journey to the promised land, but it was not good enough. They would have preferred the food they ate as slaves. Or so they complained.

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