This is an awesome music video by Shane and Shane with an excerpt from John Piper's message, "The Glory of God in the Sight of Eternity." It encourages us to not lose heart in the face of suffering and it reminds us that our suffering is never meaningless. If you could use some encouragement, listen and be renewed.
“No dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” -Philippians 3:13
Edisto Beach is a place that our family loves dearly. We have built thin peaked drip castles by the hundreds, combed the beach for shark’s teeth until the back of our necks cramped, and had crabs enthusiastically grab onto stinky chicken necks time and time again just before their captor quickly scooped them up. One of the funniest snapshots of my mind is a time when we were going to an inlet to dig clams and seine for fish and shrimp. We were all doing our thing when my youngest son let out a scream that would curl your toes! I honestly had never heard anything like it!
Yesterday, I was led to share something about my past that I didn’t want to share, especially because it was in front of someone whose approval is very important to me. For the rest of the day, my heart was heavy. I found myself struggling with why sharing this particular part of my story was causing so much hurt in my heart. I have shared parts of my story many times before, and though it has never been easy, I've never experienced emotions quite like this.
I found a quiet space to just sit still before my Father, and I asked for help. As I sat there, the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, gently shed light on what was happening.
A good bit of my story revolves around things that happened in my life before I came to a saving knowledge of my Lord and Savior. But, this particular part of my story happened after Jesus saved me from my wicked and sinful self.
Before Christ, I sinned against a God I didn’t know, but now, when I sin, I sin against a Father I do know, and that makes the sin all the more grievous to me. I thought about the disciple, Peter. What incredible heartbreak Peter felt when he looked into Jesus’s eyes as he realized in full whom he had sinned against. I was feeling that heartache.
I want to make sure you understand that my struggle was not with whether or not I had been forgiven. When we repent of our sins, God takes them and throws them as far as the east is from the west, and He remembers them no more. I believe that with all my heart, so I knew that there was no place for condemnation.
So why the broken heart?
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about a thorn in his flesh. No one knows with certainty what that thorn was, but Paul explained that it had a purpose:
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (verses 7-12)
I found myself agreeing with Paul. I will be glad for my thorns. The pain reminds me of who I am apart from Christ and let me tell you…that keeps me in a humble place. It reminds me that His grace is precious and all I need. I’m so thankful that I don’t have to be strong on my own; that when I am at my weakest, He does His most powerful and amazing work.
I found myself gladly embracing my broken heart. In fact, I always want my heart to be broken when I am called to revisit those dark places because on the heels of the heartache is the sweet reminder that I am a cherished child of the Most High God. I always want to be amazed that He would saved one as wretched as me because when that reality sinks deep into the inner most parts of my heart, I find myself loving Him more and more.
Who is like our God?
Have you ever had times in your life when it felt like you just couldn’t go on? Maybe you weren’t considering suicide (or maybe you were), but life had dealt you a hard blow. I think we all have been there or pretty close to it, at one point or another. So, what do you do? How do you manage to get out of bed each day in the midst of stress, turmoil, and pain? Well, I am glad you asked.
It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since Chris died. It seems like not long ago, I was in the ER waiting for them to tell me that they’d have to fly him out for further evaluation, or maybe even surgery. I knew he had taken a pretty bad lick to the head. I called to him at the scene of the accident and he didn’t answer. So, ok doctor, let me have the news. Which hospital are you going to fly him to? What’s broken? What type of surgery will he need?
“...Excuse me? Did I just hear you say…he didn’t make it? Do you mean to tell me that I have a three-year-old son and a five-month-old baby girl who are now fatherless?
Instead of which trauma hospital, I was being asked which funeral home.
I can still see the image of that car rolling towards us, even ten years later. There was no place to go, we were on a bridge. We just watched and waited for her to hit. How could I even be angry with her? Her two year old died at the scene.
It is so hard to move forward when you feel like you can’t go on. I prayed. I cried, and then I did it all over again. Life seems unfair at times we; all have our share of ups and downs. But God did not intend for us to remain in those down times. He will catch us by the hand through His spirit, and we will feel His strength in our times of weakness. We will never know how strong He is, and how weak we are, if we never ask Him to hold us, to carry us through.
The question is often asked why God allows bad things to happen. I don’t know that I have the answer either. I too believe that He has the power to speak or wave His hand and things will be or not be. All I know is that when they happen, during those times of stress, trouble, and pain is when I learned so much about my God. I don’t want to go through things just to know His power, but when I do go through them, I learn more of Him.
He will give us the strength, the will, the ability to move forward. We can go on; we can make it through this, make it through that. I don’t know your battle, but I know who will give you victory over every spirit of hopelessness and depression that comes along with it. God can, and He will. Although He knows, talk to Him. Tell Him all about it. You don’t have to have any fancy words to get your point across. He may detect a little anger or anxiety in your voice, in your heart; but it’s ok. Just keep the line of communication open. Let God know what you are feeling and ask for His help to keep going. Before you know it, you will have made it through a lot of yesterdays. The tomorrow that you thought you couldn’t make it through, will become yesterday. Our God remains the same today, tomorrow, and forevermore. He can get you through it. Ask Him to help you. Speed up when you can, and slow down when you have to, but don’t stop. Keep moving forward.
I just finished teaching a six-week bible study to a group of amazing women. It wasn’t an easy study. It required intense soul searching and a willingness to take a really hard inward look. Not an easy thing to do. But these women were incredible. They dug in and refused to not learn…no matter how hard it got. Most of them are in the middle of very difficult circumstances. They are in a season where heartache is plentiful. Where throwing the towel in would be such an easy thing to do. But they have chosen instead to stay the course, no matter how difficult. These women are warriors and I am better for having shared this time with them.
We started our study off with this quote:
“Great warriors are not made from living pampered, unchallenged, obstacle less lives. Though they may think themselves valiant, they have never been trained for the intense battles. On the other hand, a mighty warrior is born out of great adversity, difficult obstacles, and many scars. The scars that come from deep wounds-but wound that have healed. They are the wise, courageous, diligent ones who never take their eyes off of their king. They are the ones that count the loss as gain, who surrender all they have for their King.”(Author Unknown)
There is nothing in this world that hurts my heart more than watching one of my children struggle with a broken heart. You know, when one of our children experiences a deep hurt, I really believe that we as mothers might hurt even more than they do. We would do anything to take away the pain, but there are those times when there is absolutely nothing we can do. We beg God for help, and sometimes we even wonder if He hears our prayers.
If any of you are experiencing the pain of watching a child struggle with a broken heart, I’d like to give you some encouragement.
This past Friday night I watched in utter amazement as the Sumter High Gamecocks pulled off another heart stopping win in Summerville. The win sends them to Williams Brice to play for the state championship next Saturday. When the game was over, we all ran out onto the field to hug up on our boys. Like so many times before, I began looking for my oldest son, but this time, I wasn’t looking for a boy in a SHS uniform, I was looking for a young man in a SHS coach’s shirt.
Back this summer, a baby deer wandered into our neighbor’s yard. At first I refused to go to their house because I knew if I saw it, I would want to keep it. I love animals, especially baby animals. But after a short time I couldn’t stand it any more so down the road I went.
We immediately knew something was wrong. The little buck appeared to be blind. He kept wandering around aimlessly, bumping into things, and getting hung up in vines. We were all very worried because there are fox and coyotes were we live, so we knew his chances of survival without his mother were very slim.
A rescue team was quickly put together and a plan was formed. One went for a bottle and formula while the others stayed back and kept a close eye on the baby. Let me tell you, NOTHING was going to get to that baby.
We love to tell stories in our family. Not the “lie” kind of stories - though we do have issues there. The stories I’m talking about are more like the retelling of something that happened kind of stories. Some of us are so good at it that we can take a mediocre event and turn it into a jaw-dropping story to end all stories. In fact, if you were to be present at the event and then at the retelling of the event, you might not even recognize it.
To say we exaggerate is somewhat of an understatement. And no, we do not consider exaggerating to be lying. The thought is this; if you’re going to make people listen to your story, at least make it worth their while.
I love telling stories, except for the ones that are less flattering.
“… being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.” Colossians 1:11
Would you agree with me in saying that the fast food industry has totally exploded over the decades? To me, its popularity proves that WE ARE HOOKED! I admit it … I love those piled up roast beef sandwiches paired with fries that look all curly like a pig’s tail and I love hearing “My pleasure!” as I speed away from a drive-thru load ‘em up line that only took 5 minutes! Now, there’s probably no disagreement that that scenario sounds easier after a hectic day than going to the self-check line at the local grocery store, standing over boiling pots of sweat inducing steam, and then still having to clean up that baked on greasy mess from the broiling pan? Either way you’re gonna be full (just maybe not as healthy)!
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” –Psalms 34:8
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
· 1 cup normal, healthy birth
· 2 parents to taste
· ¾ tsp of being misunderstood
· 1 tsp of being “bullied” in middle school
· ½ cup of a friend’s invitation to youth group
· 1 dash of a loving grandparent
· 4 cups of health issues
· 3 quarts of bad decisions in college
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