What Is Spiritual Freedom?

What is spiritual freedom? How do you know you are spiritually free? Or perhaps a better question is, what is spiritual bondage and are you be able to recognize it in your life? Is it even possible to be a Christian and have need for spiritual freedom?

Spiritual Bondage

Compulsive Behaviors

When you find yourself driven to do something you don’t like doing anymore, but you have lost your self-control. Feeling compelled toward a behavior in such a way is an indication of spiritual bondage. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have been diagnosed (although perhaps you have), but the loss of self-control in even a small area of your life means there has been a loss of free will.


Behaviors that cause harm to yourself physically or self-sabotaging behaviors as you move forward toward success. These unhealthy patterns often abort the success of a job or a relationship. Severe self-harm includes inflicting physical pain on self and suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Similar to that of a spectrum, self-harm shows up in a wide range of behaviors.


Pulling away more and more from your family, your marriage, your friendships, and your community. Darkness thrives when you’re not in relationship with others. Isolation enables the lies that circle your mind to take root because no one is there to help you combat them.

Physical Illness & Mental Illness

Science is the “systematic study and knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.” However, the spiritual is not material. But it often masquerades as such. Many illnesses and afflictions are sourced in the physical: environment, lifestyle, diet, genetics, and so on. But when the source of the illness/affliction is spiritual, even the best medical and mental health communities cannot pinpoint the source and find helpful treatment. While the mysterious symptoms can be observed, the source remains evasive and treatment elusive. Eventually your sleep, relationships, and vocation, as well as your emotional and mental health are impacted. Unexplained and untreatable illness or affliction is a common indicator of spiritual bondage.


When behavior brings personal shame and humiliation to you and your family members. This is not the embarrassing moment people laugh about at ice breakers. This is a deep, gut-wrenching humiliation that makes you choke on your words as you try to talk about it. This shame and humiliation destroys human dignity.

Spiritual Freedom

Self-control. Hope. Sound mind. Community. Unashamed. Forgiven. Well rested. Peaceful.

Spiritual Freedom is a deep, abiding inner peace. Rooted in an identity and freedom that isn’t determined by the external or the internal, but the eternal. Spiritual freedom is reflected in the physical, emotional, relational, and financial areas of life being free of bondage. Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life… the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy but I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” John 10.

Can Christians experience spiritual bondage? In Christ, we have access to total and complete freedom. He transferred us from the kingdom of darkness into His kingdom of light and life. It brings Jesus joy and glory to see you walking in the total freedom He purchased you. But having access to spiritual freedom does not mean you are experiencing spiritual freedom. He gave you the keys to your freedom. Will you choose to use them?

Complacency is the enemy of freedom. Complacency says, “It’s not so bad, others have it worse.” Complacency says, “I’ve dealt with this for years, I’m used to it.” Complacency normalizes spiritual bondage. But the Spirit of Truth shines a light of the disguise of complacency. Truth champions freedom.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. – John 8:32 NIV

Jesus longs to restore you to your position of dignity and authority in Him. If anything we’ve covered in this post today sounds even a little familiar, don’t let complacency steal another moment of your life. Ask a Certified Emotional Healing Practitioner at Redeeming Freedom about our Free In Christ program today. Our team is here for you.

Contact Redeeming Freedom


God Heals Because He Loves

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” ~Luke 4

What started out as a prayer team with a verse from Luke, ended with Jesus Christ healing celiac. God is personal. He knows your heart. He knows the wounds and the scars, and in His awesome love, He heals. He loves us wholly and completely.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how beautiful the love of God is and how far it reaches. At Redeeming Freedom Ministries, we never really know what God is going to do next, only that it is going to be awesome. And Jesus Christ? …well, He does all the work so He gets ALL the credit.

What about you? “What are you carrying that you are not meant to carry?”

Schedule your appointment today: office@redeemingfreedom.org



What do you do with ALL those feelings? Many have certainly linked feelings and emotions to physical health. But we are going to address their interactive role with soul and spirit.

Depending on who you ask, some religious circles dismiss feelings and emotions because they are tangibly influenced by factors such as food, sleep, hormones, stress… Yet, your entire physiological person – body, soul, and spirit – gives those feelings honor by responding to them. Immediately.

Feelings can be regarded as life’s sign posts along the road. Informative. They do not choose your direction, only identify it. They inform you of the enviornment you are passing through, what you can expect ahead and what you left behind.

When you give your life to Christ, and we become a new creation, the old is gone and all things are made new which includes your feelings. As you grow in Christlike character, as His light pierces the darkness of your heart bringing healing to old wounds, a transformation takes place.

Your feelings, your old road signs, are being transformed too. The old Pleasantville is no longer pleasant. The old environments are no longer enjoyable, the old jokes are now grating. The old lies are no longer binding and the old fears are no longer threatening. Our feelings, sanctified by Christ, reflect these changes.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17

One reason for this, is that God designed our emotions to play a massive role in our spiritual discernment. Emotions honed by God’s truth are a helpful tool in spiritual discernment and often lead us to choose healthy, appropriate responses.

For example, after giving your life to Christ, let’s say you walk into your family’s Thanksgiving and immediately negativity surrounds you, pulling your emotions down into a dark place. Before Christ, you would have relished the argument… even started a few. Now, you grieve the division. What happened? God happened! Christ changes everything.

When we submit ourselves to Jesus’s transforming power, our emotions are made new as well. Allow God to recalibrate them. Submit your feelings, no matter what they are (God isn’t scared), to His truth so that when they do show up, you are not afraid to address them.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.
Ephesians 3:16‭-‬18

When you do find an emotion that is out of place, a trigger flaring up when it shouldn’t, thank God for that sign post too. This is the Holy Spirit, loving you enough to reveal the places in you that still need the freedom of God’s transforming love.

Declaring freedom and light over you in Jesus’s name.

– Leslie


2022: A Year in Review

Looking back at 2022 we are so grateful for all the Lord is doing. Thankful too, for the incredible team that serves with love, experience, and grace and a community that has supported and welcomed us into it. Above is a just a snapshot of the wonderous things Jesus did this last year.

As we prayerfully look forward to 2023, we anticipate all that God is calling us into. We continue to focus on Emotional Healing, Healing Art, ministry to the sick, and training and equipping believers to advance the kingdom of God through classes and studies.

Healing Art has grown and we are excited to be partnering with churches across town to bring it to their ministry teams, bible studies, teen and young adult ministries. If you are interested in having Healing Art at your church, please contact us at Office@RedeemingFreedom.org.

RFM Bible Studies

In 2022 we also developed two Bible Study series for adults designed for church groups:

  • New Kingdom, New Rules. A four week series for new believers which includes the beginning and fall of Man, the purpose for why Jesus came, the spiritual authority of the believer, functional faith and spiritual warfare.
  • Faith Basic. This is also a 3 week series for new believers that focuses on Forgiveness, Repentance, and our Identity in Christ.

New 2023 Classes

Childlike Faith Class. Beginning in the Spring, parents and kids will get to meet online with RFM director Leslie Crouse once a week to pepper her with all the theological questions kids have. No holding back! Using the 90-Day Tired Mamas Pray prayer journal as a daily guide for scripture and prayer, parents and kids will have a chance to take 5 minutes together with God and dive into His word.


In response to your requests, we now have RFM Memberships! Memberships are an opportunity for you to co-labor with us in the training, equipping and activation of God’s people. From individual memberships, to corporate and church memberships, we have something for you.

We joyfully pray for our members daily, bringing your needs before the Father with the knowledge that He is a miracle-working God, who does “exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).  We do more together than we could ever do alone, and we build this community together through a dedication and commitment to advancing the Kingdom.

Praying the Spirit of Truth would draw us all deeply into His presence in 2023 and set us apart for Him!

Leslie Crouse, Director


The Father’s Love

November 2022

I recently completed my first session at Redeeming Freedom Ministry and I couldn’t wait to share the work that God has began. I reached out to this ministry because I’m walking through a rough season in my marriage and through this season the Lord has really been working on me individually and all the brokenness I came into my marriage with. I was referred by my mentor, not having much of an idea what to expect but through confirmation from God, I knew I needed to go.

God met me right where I was that day, with a hungry desire to know Him more but unable to get past the walls I had built around my heart. The staff so lovingly walked me through each lie of the enemy I had stored in my heart and guided me back to the loving arms of Jesus with His truth.

During my session I felt the weight of each brick lifting off of me as the Lord broke chains over my mind and unlocked the chains around my heart. I was overwhelmed with the clear answers He gave me as I was guided to my own freedom.

I left my session that day with forgiveness, not only for others but also myself. I left with a love for myself that I hadn’t experienced since I was a little girl but what impacted me the most was the love and acceptance from my Heavenly Father I was met with. I never knew what kind of love I was missing out on until my heart was softened and I was able to forgive myself to receive His perfect love.

That session has forever impacted my life, it has changed the mother I am to my children and I am believing it will change the wife I will have the opportunity to be again soon. To walk in the love and confidence and authority as a daughter of the King has completely changed my life. I am so thankful for the staff praying with me and guiding me through that session without judgement. Truly being the hands and feet of Jesus. I still have some more work to do and am eager for another session but I know, He who began a good work in me will be faithful to finish it.

-Jordan H.


Jesus Heals Pulmonary Fibrosis

I first met Krista in May 2022. She had just been diagnosed with the lung disease Pulmonary Fibrosis. The prognosis was discouraging and she was asking us to stand with her in asking Jesus for healing.

Krista grew up attending the universalist church engaging and participating in many different types of worship. Homelessness turned into prostitution, prostution to sex trafficking. And while in those years the enemy tried to re-write her story, Jesus had other plans.

Krista gave her life to the Lord and He has been with her through the pain, trauma and heartache. But this summer, Krista decided to go deeper with God. She wanted freedom.

She repented, listing by name, of all agreements and participation in other religions. She cried out forgiving every person who had hurt, betrayed, and used her, asking God to forgive them too.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

James 5:16 ESV

Last week, on September 14th, Krista went in for a follow-up CT scan on her lungs. The official medical record states under Findings,

“Certainly NO Pulmonary Fibrosis.”

On September 25th 2022, Krista rededicated her life again to Jesus and was water baptized. At Redeeming Freedom Ministries, we give Jesus Christ the standing ovation of praise He deserves. He alone is the One who saves, heals and delivers to the uttermost.

Sanctification is a process, and Krista, as you lean into Christ, know that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 ESV

Praise God for His unending love!



When Art Unlocks Healing

As children, we connect feelings and experiences to colors and shapes long before words come along. In RFM’s Christ-centered Healing Art Session, you will reconnect feelings and experiences to colors and shapes, discovering truth, forgiveness and healing along the way.

What’s it like? In a Healing Art Session, there is a group of about 6-12 individuals. No one verbally shares the details of what comes up, but expresses them with paint on canvas instead. Healing Art Sessions are about discovering healing through forgiveness, truth and color. Reasons why you should sign up now:

  1. You can bring a friend.
  2. You get to mess, doodle, & play.
  3. Group setting.
  4. Find healing. Find freedom.

Here are a few words from our most recent Healing Art Session:

The Lord showed me truth about His love for me and how He is always with me. He has me covered even in the messes. I felt peace within His presence and in hearing His voice. I needed to feel connected to Him and He met me right here and used colors and art to show me His love and truth. I now have a visual reminder of what He showed me and I can draw peace from them when things get messy because I now see Him there.

–Michele C.

Today the Lord brought to light the hurt and separation I was feeling towards Jesus. I was able to intimately talk to Jesus and let go of the control I was holding on to. I put my trust in Him and He showed me how much He cares and loves me. I was able to reconnect, let go, and be set free of feelings I didn’t not know had a hold of me. Jesus is my healer and He wants to heal!

–Lori W.

The Lord revealed to me that even though I have grown spiritually with Him, and had known the truth, the lie that I had believed was still hovering in the background shedding its cloud at every turn. Since going through Redeeming Freedom I am now free from the lie. It no longer does it have its hold on me and as a result I will hear from the Lord more clearly and release His word over people who He wishes to reveal Himself to.
I will no longer be in doubt nor question hearing His voice.

–Teresa R.


Do It Again

Be courageous. Do it again. Tell your story.

When you tell your story others realize they aren’t alone. They catch a glimmer of hope. By telling your story in it’s truest form, you are asking God to do it again for someone else. You “re-present” Jesus. This month, at Redeeming Freedom Ministries, we will be focusing on testimonies. Collecting them. Documenting them. Releasing them.

In Hebrew, the root word for “testimony” literally translated means to “duplicate, restore, to do it again.” When you tell your story, you are releasing God’s glory into the atmosphere and asking him to do it again. You push back unbelief, hopelessness and despair by remembering what he has done and who you are in Christ. Israel had their stones of remembrance and the ark. Jesus has us. We are His walking, talking testimony because we carry Him with us and we release His glory with something as simple as a conversation.

They conquered the enemy by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony. Revelation 12:11

Tell the world exactly what Jesus did for you. Don’t add to it. Don’t polish it. Don’t take anything away from it. Be true. Every time you share, God gets the glory again and again. Boldly ask God to to re-release His glory into the life of someone else.

So, what is your story?

Redeemed – Restored – Delivered – Healed – Made Clean – Set free – Embraced – Forgiven?

We will be collecting video testiminies of what Jesus has done! If you have a story and you are interested in helping us release His glory, please comment below or send us an email. We love to hear the stories of God’s grace, forgiveness and power.



Church Wounds

I have lost count of those who sat across from me devastated by church wounds. Is that you? Something felt off and before you knew it you were silenced, isolated, berated and labeled unteachable. One of the biggest reasons for church wounds is an infiltration of the spirit of idolatry.

Oh yes. Idolatry is still alive and well, ruthlessly tormenting genuine believers. Simply put, idolatry is a counterfeit of the Living God. A distraction, a substitute. The spirit of idolatry seeks to steal worship, distract us from our true mission and drain our time and resources so we do not do what God has purposed. Because it hides within religion, it appears holy. But to those who are in tune with the Spirit of God, there is a friction that rubs the wrong way.

How do you know if idolatry is creeping in? Below is a quick checklist. If you find four or more, ask the Holy Spirit to increase your discernment and give you eyes to see and hears to hear.

Identity & Self-worth

The identity and self-worth of those around you has become tightly bound to the establishment. You will see establishment symbols, car decals, and clothing identifying those who worship at this altar. Leviticus 26:1

TRUTH: Jesus Christ alone gives us our identity in Father God. He made you into a new creation and approved you, therefore in Christ you are worthy. Worthy to speak. Worthy to enter. Worthy to work. 2 Corinthians 10: 17-18


Feeling like an outsider because you don’t fall in line with the approved culture. Leadership may say they value differences of opinion and perspective but speaking and looking different feels unsafe. Psalm 12:2

TRUTH: Jesus chose twelve men from diverse backgrounds. His decision illustrates his value for diversity. Experiences. Opinions. Perspectives. Races. People who love God passionately are called to build bridges. Groupthink is all about control. Diversity is God’s antidote. 1 Corinthians 12

Gifts & Offerings

Collection of gifts and financial offerings for leadership. Presented as “honoring” leadership but used to curry and exchange favor. Idolatry seeks to earn alliances and favors through the giving and receiving of gifts. 2 Kings 5, Judges 8:22-31

TRUTH: As Christians, we are encouraged to give with a cheerful heart, in secret and expecting nothingin return. Not by compulsion but by the leading of the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 9:7


Confusing power with authority. When leadership makes unilateral decisions and others are expected to align without question you have a leader driven by power. Those not in agreement become an enemy to “growth.” You are isolated, often with false accusations made against you. 1 Kings 21: 6-13

TRUTH: Jesus walked in all the power and authority of heaven itself. Yet, even Christ did not lord over his people. He shared with the disciples all the Father was speaking. He included them in his plans. Even now, as he sits on the throne, he intercedes for us and is consistently including and partnering with us. Matt 20:25-28, John 15:14-16


Greeters bouncing around in parking lots twirling signs while announcement videos are packed full of exaggerated voices to pump people up and create energy in the worshippers. Exodus 32:17

TRUTH: The Holy Spirit is full of explosive power and light, miracles and joy, life and freedom. One encounter with the Living God breaks addictions and destroys sickness, restores marriages and families. When religious institutions lack the Spirit of the Living God, they manufacture it with hype. Ephesians 1:17-23

Dead Senses

When idolatry is present, the spiritual senses of leadership become dulled. The physical eventually yields to the spiritual. Hearing issues, eyesight issues, nose and sinus issues, speech impediments… physical ailments that do not clear up despite medical attention. Psalm 115:4-8

TRUTH: Our physical senses correlate to our spiritual senses. Our discernment and sensitivity we have to God’s voice. Our ability to hear his voice. “Sniff out” something that is spiritually off. Speak words of knowledge and wisdom. Matthew 13:9-17, 1 Corinthians 12

Child Sacrifice

It’s more subtle today, but idolatry still wants you to sacrifice your family. They ask your children to endure several services so you can serve more. They tell you to pull your children from sports to support the goals of the ministry. Move them a grade to accommodate the mission. Missing recitals and games in the name of ministry. Joshua 6:26, 1 Kings 16:32-34

TRUTH: God gave us the family unit as our first mission field. We are to teach our children, train them up in God’s ways and walk along the road of life with them. They do not come second to our ministry. They are our first ministry. Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Ephesians 5

Healing Church Wounds

Jesus knows all about church wounds and he can to heal the brokenhearted. Maybe you got out years ago and still feel like areas of your life are still held back by your experiences. If that is your story I urge you to seek the Lord for healing and freedom. If you want to schedule an appointment with our team, send us an email at office@redeemingfreedom.org. We do online appointments and in-person appointments.

The Innkeepers


Hananiah sat amidst the noisy dinner guests watching them fight over the last of Evie’s famous challah bread. His wife was the best cook in Bethlehem and he was big enough to prove it. Evie’s heart was even bigger. He watched her serve their guests with that soft smile and sparkling eyes. After twenty years together, he loved her deeper than he could have imagined.

Over the din he heard, “Where are your children? I do not believe I have seen them running around here with my own.” He cringed and glanced at his wife Evie. Silence fell in the room as Hananiah watched a flood of sorrow overtake Evie’s eyes before she nodded at him and ducked into the kitchen.

He cleared the lump forming in his throat at the sight of his wife’s pain and answered, “The LORD will bless us in His time.” This was no new question. Small talk always led this direction and over the years Evie had learned to let him answer while she avoided the knowing looks.

That quick flash of pain in her eyes was the only indication of their deep sorrow. Does not God hear their cry? Does he not see what a wonderful mother she would make? Anger fought to fill his heart but he pushed it back down. God knew best. Over the years Evie had not hardened her heart and he would honor her by doing the same.

God had blessed them in so many ways and he was not ungrateful. Having been born here, they did not need to travel during this ridiculous census. Hananiah and Evie had been able to stay put and collect the income brought on by Caesar’s decree. Pompous man. If he were God fearing he would know strength is not found in numbers but in the name of El Shaddai. Ah! He must shake this dismal mood or his guests would suffer for it.

At the sound of a knock or, rather a bang on the door, Hananiah began the task of standing up. Difficult after another of Evie’s fine meals. He kissed her cheek as he walked by and whispered something in her ear that made her smile and swat his arm.

Outside stood a young man wringing his hands. “Shalom! Sir, I beg of you, I must find a place to stay tonight. My wife’s pains have begun and I fear we do not have long. I have asked everywhere. Please say there is a place for us.” Hananiah looked at the woman and took a double take. Wife? This was a mere girl! Something did not seem right here. Why can Evie and he not find joy in children while this undeserving couple did? LORD! It is not right! Well, whatever she was, clearly she was in labor.

Hananiah gritted his teeth. He wanted help, but the inn had been full for days and there was no way he would ask a family to leave. Refunds were impossible. They had already spent the rental income on linens, supplies and fresh grain for the animals. With town as busy as it was, food and supplies were scarce and greedy men had raised prices. Again.

The city square was no place for a woman to give birth. Where could they go? He must think.

“Shalom my friend. I see you are in need of… much.” He began leading them to the stable but the young woman paused to brace herself – one hand against the wall and another wrapped around her large belly – suppressing a low groan. She was embarrassed and obviously this was her first or she would have been better prepared.

Where was her mother? Maid? He set them up in the stable with fresh water for them as well as their animals and told them he would return shortly with blankets and food. It was the least he could do. Wasn’t it?

As he walked back toward the inn he heard another of her cries and the sound launched him back in time to when his baby sister was born. He was the second son of nine and had listened to births before.

He supposed he could let them have Evie and his room. It was in the back, separate from the others. But what a noisy business! Messy too. No. I will not do that to Evie. I will not make Evie watch a girl give birth in her own bed and then clean up after her too. Besides, if the other guests are disturbed our inn will always be remembered as such and destroy any future business. It is decided then. The barn it is. Evie would not approve but he would do what he must. His wife and his business needed to be priority.

Another cry pierced the night pulling him from his searing conscience and justifications. The more he thought about it the more urgent the girl’s need became. This girl needs a midwife now! Where is that servant boy?

“Jacob, go get the midwife and bring her to the stable as fast as you can!” Hananiah yelled.

“But Sir! Grandmother Anna left for her hometown day before last. She isn’t – ” Jacob said.

“Then knock on every door and find one! We have no time!” Hananiah interrupted. At the rate she was going that baby may be here before the boy made it back. He watched Jacob, race down the dusty street. Truly, at this point any midwife would do. Any experienced mother.

Bitterness welled up again. Evie would not hesitate to help but she did not have the knowledge needed. He must tell her about the situation though. Maybe he could put it off until after the baby was born. She had her hands full with their guests. And if the guests caught wind that couple would never get any privacy.

“HANANIAH BEN JOHN! What do you think you are DOING? You told that poor girl to give birth in a barn? A BARN!” Fists planted on her hips, Eve skewered him with that fiery look of hers that withers every argument. She was on a war path now and was coming straight for him.

He had known she would not approve, but he had done the only thing he could. Right? That Jacob and his big mouth! What was done was done and right now they did not have time to argue.

“Eve, you must know given everything going on this was the best option. I will not argue with you about it. There is too much to do.” Eve whirled away in a fury. She began slamming open cupboards and ripping out all the brand new linens he had just purchased for their guests. He turned to get fresh water when he heard a ripping sound and his eyes grew round.

“Evie!” Hananiah’s face blanched as Eve ruthlessly tore their new linens to shreds. Never had he seen her so angry. It gave him pause. He turned his back and took a deep breath searching his heart one more time. Why had the barn seemed like such a good idea again? It is much too dirty for a woman giving birth. He knew that!

Before he could remember his arguments, His shame was punctuated by a loud smack as Eve stormed out the kitchen door arms full of the most expensive rags he had ever seen.


“That MAN! What was he thinking?!” Outside Evie took a deep breath and then another. She knew what Hananiah had been thinking. That infuriating, practical, wonderful man of hers was thinking of her. She saw that look in his eye at dinner. For twenty, long years they had weathered barrenness together but the pain never really lost its edge. When had her pain become so crippling that her husband felt he needed to protect her even at the cost of compassion?

Eve. What had her parents been thinking? Eve meant life. Mother of the living. Thirty-seven years with nothing to show but two heartbreaking miscarriages. Her name added irony to her pain. Expectations never met. A daily reminder of shriveled dreams. But not tonight. She refused to be swallowed up by self-pity. El Roi saw her. Heard her. She and Hananiah had the LORD and each other. Besides, tonight was not about her. And what better way to step out from one’s own pain than by serving another?

Evie looked up at the stars. She always felt closer to the God of Israel when she saw them. Strange. Tonight the stars looked extraordinarily bright. Glorious even. Like they were singing. Though the ever present pain remained a powerful peace entered her soul.

Quietly she slipped toward the barn door and listened. The tell-tale sound of a tiny mewling cry escalated into gusty wails that only a newborn could make. Time to move. She was none too early with these cloths. At least they were clean! She held back a smile at the look on Hananiah’s face when she ripped them up. Serves him right for putting business before compassion.

The young man looked up at her, wild eyed with hair sticking up in every direction. Relief flooding his face, he ran to her and said “I have no idea how to do this! I have wrapped him up four times but his arms keep escaping! Every time he just screams louder and louder.”

Evie smiled. This she could do. Gently she approached the young girl, who was trembling from exhaustion. Compassion overwhelmed her. Vaguely she heard the barn door open and close as Hananiah sheepishly came in with more hot water, blankets and a earthen bowl of warm broth for the young woman. He flicked a glance at Evie as he approached. His face guarded, unsure of where they stood at the moment. Evie knew he would nurse his pride for a bit, but he was a good sort and she loved him.

Finishing a perfect swaddle she glanced up at Hananiah and smiled as a peace offering. Surveying her handy work and the now content baby, she picked up the sweet boy and with Joseph’s permission and cooed to him. She walked over to Hananiah and together they looked into the most amazing dark, grey eyes they had ever seen.

As she locked eyes with the infant, something broke inside of her. A flood of tears. Sobbing she could feel the healing take place. Deep within her heart all the names she had been called, the accusations that had been launched, the scars she had lived with for so long melted powerless. A warmth began to grow inside her. Beginning in her belly, the heat spread like a fire throughout her entire body. Shaking with the power she felt surging through her, she handed the little boy to Hananiah who was also weeping – with joy it seemed.

Eagerly he took the baby. Holding him high, laughing and weeping at the same time. A glow she had never seen in him shone from his eyes. In this singular moment, she saw Hananiah changed. The anger and bitterness he tried so hard to hide was gone. Replaced with unspeakable joy. Peace. In awe, Hananiah again looked into the face of this little child and Evie knew that he knew. They glanced at each other and again at the baby. It made no sense, but with absolute certainty Evie knew this tiny, red face was the face of God.

Sensitive to the sacred moment taking place between man and wife, Joseph gently reached for the child and said, “His name is Joshua. Or – Jesus, as Caesar’s register will say. For he will save us from our sin.”

Evie watched Joseph as he laid the boy in a feeding trough beside Mary so that he could spoon feed the broth to her. Jesus. What miracles had just taken place! Marveling at the baby in the trough, and the heat that still vibrated through her body, Evie turned to Hananiah as he put his arm around her and led her back to the house.

When they entered all was still. The guests had retired and the lamps burned low. Had hours passed? As they prepared for bed on this silent, holy night they discussed in excited whispers all they had witnessed. Each had experienced the overwhelming power of God’s love when they held little Jesus.

“How can the full strength of God’s love dwell in a tiny baby?” Hananiah asked.

“And how God’s love burns like fire! I am hot all over.” Evie said excitedly while rubbing her tingling fingertips. Hananiah laughed with her.

“It is a miracle! I could not decide if I wanted to shout for joy or fall to my knees in worship! Evie, there is immeasurable treasure in our stable right now. Why us? Why our stable? I was prepared to move them inside, but somehow, I sensed that is where El Shaddai wanted them.” Hananiah said.

That night, Hananiah and Evie fell asleep as he held her close. A once brokenhearted couple basking in God’s overwhelming love.

Evie smiled at the sound of her baby’s cries. Hananiah’s eyes were so full of pride and joy as he looked at his first born and then Evie. In a look they shared their remembrance of Jesus, the child who changed their world with one powerful encounter of love. Then Hananiah addressed their family and friends saying, “His name is Samuel because the LORD God has heard.”

by Leslie Crouse