Posts in Overcoming Hardship
Your Broken Past Is Not the End of Your Story

I remember sitting in the back row of church--just my second visit--as tears fell down my cheeks. I heard God's voice for the very first time. It wasn't audible or startling. It was a quiet, calm voice that echoed in my heart: You don't need to move away. You can have a new life here.

I felt peace for the very first time.

Up until that point, my most common emotions were anxiety, despair, anger, guilt, shame, bitterness, resentment, and hopelessness. There were times of manufactured happiness and excitement, but very little was truly joyful.

The rise of divorce, abuse, bullying, and harassment have weighed heavy on our culture. Kids are not afforded the luxury of happy childhoods. Boys and girls face pressure, abandonment, and bullying. These same kids grow up feeling unloved, unwanted, and unworthy.

It's no wonder we have adolescents and adults who are depressed, addicted, and suicidal. I know what it's like to question whether life will ever get better or if I will ever be worthy of that better life.

The problem is, nothing on this earth can provide the kind of hope that overcomes a past filled with pain and suffering. The only true hope we have is in God, and in His son, Jesus Christ.

Christians know that. On a head level, we've been taught that Christ is our only hope. And on a heart level, many women have experienced that moment I did--the feeling that God is real and He loves me.

So if we know that God is our only hope, that nothing on this earth can truly satisfy our need for love and purpose, then why do so many of us still feel so hopeless, even as Christians?

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Where are you God?

It was 6:00 am on February 12th; my baby girl was barely 2 days old. I held her in my arms, completely grieved and at a loss as to why we were sitting in a hospital room. A nurse walked in and I looked up at her, my eyes red from crying for so many hours.

“She is starving, isn’t she? That’s why she won't stop crying?” I already knew the answer! Of course she was hungry. She was a newborn and I had not been allowed to feed her for 9 hours already due to a potential blockage in her intestine. We were waiting to be airlifted to Vancouver Children’s Hospital and I wouldn’t be able to feed her until after the surgery. She went 18 hours without eating.

The nurse sheepishly made eye contact with me. “Yes dear, she is hungry.” Though I already knew the truth, her words slammed against my heart like a boulder and I couldn’t take the pain for one second longer. I started to hyperventilate; I couldn’t breathe. It hurt too bad--I had to
move, I had to get air. It all needed to STOP.

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5 Lies We Believe About Forgiveness

We’ve gotten forgiveness all wrong in our culture. I know this because I see people, Christians even, who are trapped in their own bitterness and resentment because they have failed to embrace a life of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is difficult, and we like to think that things should be easy if we’re supposed to do them. But God asks us to take the best way, not the easiest way. I have experienced that the best is often not the easiest at all. This is particularly true for practicing forgiveness in my life.

As Christians, we're aware that God tells us to forgive one another but knowing how, when, or why to forgive can be confusing. We often approach forgiveness from a human perspective instead of God's perspective, which causes us to believe lies regarding forgiveness. These lies cause us to bear a burden of bitterness instead of embracing the beautiful freedom we receive through forgiveness.

God is always for our good, and if he tells us that we should pursue forgiveness then we are wise to listen. So, let's break down some of the lies we believe so we can live in the fullness of God's truth.

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Finding Joy in Suffering

It was August 15th, 2016. I was 20 weeks pregnant with my third baby. My two boys and I were up in Canada from San Diego visiting my family. As we left San Diego, I knew something was strange with my husband, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

We had an uphill marriage since the start—the emotional abuse, separate lives, constant absence in the home, control, and lies. We were no strangers to dysfunction. For years I put on a brave face and pretended everything was ok. But behind closed doors, I was a shell of a person and in complete denial of how badly I was being treated. 

Even so, I never predicted the freight train that was coming my way.

My walk with Christ had awakened the year prior and my heart was on fire for God. I was believing for a miracle in my marriage and I felt the gift of this new baby was God’s promise that everything was going to be ok. I was reading marriage books, praying over and for my husband, actively pursuing the Lord so I could change, and I surrendered my husbands need for changing to God. I so desperately craved godly change in our lives. I was committed and hopeful.

So I was blindsided by the phone call I received while my kids and I were with my parents. My husband's voice on the other end was cold, distant, and I felt like I was speaking to a stranger.

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Moving Forward through Self-Forgiveness

No one I know answers the question, "How's it going?" with "Oh man, I failed BIG time this week." We often feel embarrassment, and even shame, about our failures. So instead of being honest, we just smile and say "good!" But everything isn't all good all the time, and we know it.

Whether it's a minor error in our work, a harsh word said to a friend, or an affair on our spouse, we will regularly come face to face with the challenges of our sin condition. We won't always resist temptation. We won't always act according to the Spirit. God willing, we will grow stronger and become more resistant to the desires of our flesh, but there will always be things that we do or do not do that will cause us to feel God's conviction through the feeling of guilt.

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When I Fail, God is Faithful

I am in the middle of an unexpected season of change. All of the change is ultimately for my good, but some of it is born out of my failure. I still hate to admit that I've failed. My prideful heart has a difficult time admitting failure, let alone accepting it. But at the same time that I have failed, God has been so faithful.

He never once let me crawl into my shell of defeat and hide. In His loving nature, I believe He allowed me to face tremendous challenges this year for the very purpose of breaking down my walls--both to Him and to people around me. He didn't let my heart harden. He sought me. He loved me. He opened up my heart in such vulnerability that I would have not believed I could do it had I not experienced it.

He didn't love me in spite of my failures, He loves me through my failures... all of them.

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Beauty for Ashes

Ashes: the remains of something destroyed.

The fires that raged in my soul and those that surrounded me left me in ashes. With hardly an identity or form, I entered my young adult years unrecognizable to myself. With no substance or weight to keep me rooted, I was blown by the winds of each day, unable to plant my feet or feel at peace. My soul was perpetually unsettled.

I remember clearly the day that I traded the lifeless, formless ashes of myself for the beauty God desired for me. In an instant, God swept up the pile of ashes and lovingly reformed me in His image--in my true image.

The beauty had always been there, I knew. I kept grasping for it in vain, not understanding that I needed to surrender the ashes to God first.

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Silence in our Trials

This year has felt nothing short of a bad roller coaster ride. One of those rides that somehow never ends. For the most part, I've been very proud with the way I've handled these trials. Through such tribulation I've been able to stay focused on my heavenly Father and just rely on his strength. As hard as this year has been it's also been extremely life-giving and eye-opening. I sit here today with wisdom I would not have had unless I had walked through the hard days. I continue to have the courage to keep walking down the long road ahead. That being said, I want to share with you about a couple days I had not so long ago...

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Dealing with Unwanted & Unplanned C-Sections

People these days are all about individual freedom and the right to choose! We can choose our gender, women can choose to give birth to the human being inside them or not. And they can choose how to have their baby if they choose to keep it. As for me, I am happy I was born a girl! And still happier to give up the right of changing my gender, thank you very much! And, after all the suffering and tears I went through after my sterility diagnosis in 2005, I kept my right of having as many kids as God allowed me to have.

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You're Not My Mommy - Lessons in Foster Adoption

In 2002 my husband and I made the decision to become foster parents. Over the next 9 years we, along with our three children, would welcome 21 children into our home. If there was one decision that greatly altered my life, it was this. Hindsight has turned this into the most frustrating game of “Would you rather…?” Would I rather have the strength and insight that I currently do or would I rather go back to my quiet nuclear family without the growth?

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While We Wait

Isaiah 40:31 says: "But they that wait upon the lord shall renew their strengths; they shall mount up on wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." My family is in a season of waiting; life feels particularly hard at the moment. I'd like to tell you that I’m a pillar of spirituality right now, that as I wait I'm just mounting up on those wings and flying like an eagle. I’d like to tell you that this human heart of mine doesn’t grow weary at times, or that I don’t question God's plan.

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Let God Take Your Pain and Turn It Into Passion

In my son’s homeschool preschool class, we decided it would be a great idea to teach the kids about Noah’s ark. I had always remembered this story fondly. I mean, what’s not to love--a really old man named Noah builds a HUGE flotation device and brings aboard two of every animal to survive a ginormous flood. So as I excitedly sat down to read my son the story of Noah, you could imagine my surprise when my innocent little 4 year old looked up at me and said, “Mommy, what happened to all the people and animals who didn’t get to go in the ark?” GULP. Why had I never thought of that? As I swallowed my uncertainty, I responded, “Well, they died.” “Why?” asked my son.

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5 Keys to Finding Peace

For 2015 my “resolution” was to find inner peace. Since the birth of my second son, my lack of peace was magnified. Which really meant that I was overwhelmed and over-functioning. I can truthfully tell you that it took me all of 2015 to even scratch the surface of finding inner peace. I overturned many rocks, searched down many alley ways, and about lost my mind. I had to learn and unlearn many things and what I’ve come to realize is that like anything worthwhile in life it takes a constant pursuit. I couldn’t find inner peace without Jesus, it just wasn’t possible for me. Once I finally understood the magnitude of my heavenly father I started to piece together the puzzle of peace. I have compiled 5 things that I believe God has revealed to me on my journey of finding peace.

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