THE GIFT OF GRIEF by Leslie
I used to believe it was Jesus’ plan to fix our broken hearts. That His intention in the lives of His children was to fit each piece of our shattered hearts back together, good as new. And one day God dashed my dreams of wholeness and gave me a new vision for His mission in my life and in the world. As I cried out to God to heal these broken places and make me whole again, He whispered, “That’s not how it works at all. My mission is not to fix what’s been broken as if it never happened.”
WHY ARE YOU DOWNCAST, O MY SOUL? By Julie
Depression. It’s been a life-long struggle that comes and goes. In some seasons, the grip is so intense I feel as though I will suffocate. Other times, it’s a dark cloud in a holding pattern over my heart. And sometimes it’s a fog that settles quickly over the surface with no rhyme or reason. Occasionally, there is an easily recognizable cause – a major loss or life change. But there are also the periods of overwhelming sorrow or hopelessness with no justifiable cause.
I have found it helpful to begin each day by focusing on and thanking God for His perfect, never-ending, sacrificial love for me. As I ask Him to show me the places of my life where I have seen His love, it is amazing how I, by His Spirit, know deeply to my core just how much I am loved by Him. Reminding myself of this Truth enables me to keep my eyes fixed on Him and not the wind and the waves.
HE IS THE GIFT by Kerri
God made me in His image, and clearly my passion for music and the absolute pure fulfillment I feel when performing are innate, given to me by Him – part of Him. A gift given for His glory, my joy, and to serve others. But there have been times when the passion for those things became my end, my all, my only satisfaction. When I needed to perform to feel whole. When I needed the attention of performing well to feel that I had value. That is when the gift became a god.
UNEXPECTED BLESSINGS By Lisa
God has been working on me for years in the area of SURRENDER. This past year, He has been inviting me to trust Him in the area of provision. I used to lay awake at night and ruminate on how in the world I would ever be debt-free. And “what-if” one day I couldn’t afford my house? Or car repairs. Or activities for the kids. My mind would run in circles and I would find myself afraid and anxious. I have spent plenty of time worrying about so many things, and instead of living life, I was just trying to make it through the day. Wasting precious time and energy.
WHY I QUIT RUNNING by Carrie
What if there is value in not running? What if there is much to be learned by sitting in the pain? What if there is an invitation from our loving and merciful Savior right in midst of deep suffering? And what if there is actually beauty in that pain? In the brokenness? What if the pain is actually increased when we try to run away? And what if the problem lies more in our inability to see what God is doing in the midst of the pain? What if, instead of running, we really need to regain our sight.
NEARNESS AND LIGHT By Kerri
In 2009, I faced a very serious health issue – a stroke. In His mercy, God healed my brain in miraculous ways! I will always stand in awe. We had come home from Zambia during this time and we were so thankful to be cleared to go back to the work God had called us to there! As we returned to Zambia and began to settle into life again, fear and anxiety began to settle deep into the corners of me. I became utterly crippled by the fear of death.
The Hope of 1 Peter by Lisa
I sincerely love Jesus. I have ever since I was a little girl. He is the most beautiful and constant part of my life. I am deeply grieved when I think of His suffering on the cross. It is PAINFUL for me to envision His suffering, and even more painful to acknowledge that it is my sin that put Him there. So for me, choosing to avoid confession is also choosing to avoid PAIN. It doesn’t make me feel good to do it, therefore the root struggle here is avoidance of pain in pursuit of feeling good.
BEING THE NEW GIRL IN CHURCH by Julie
I see now though that I had become too comfortable. Those friends had become like my favorite pair of yoga pants. I love putting them on at the end of the day and breathing the deep sigh of “being with you is so comfortable and easy.” But if I’m not careful, I’ll wear those yoga pants for so long that I become completely unmotivated to exercise, put on make-up, or even take a shower. We can become so content in our relationships that we forget that there are those God is calling us to welcome. This is often subtle, just like the pull to stay in those yoga pants a tad longer than I probably should. I see now that I might need to get a bit uncomfortable in order to love well.
MY SPIRITUAL GROWTH PLAN By Leslie
Yet, even knowing these truths, I’ve spent many years frustrated and discouraged that my spiritual growth has so often seemed incredibly slow and inconsistent. One thing I’ve realized as I look back on my faith journey is that no matter how quickly I’d like to see “results,” God is not in a hurry. He is patient, thorough, and long-suffering. And though it’s difficult to express in words, “I know that I know that I know” that His hand has been upon me every day of my life: guiding, shaping, changing and growing me.