Unanswered Prayers and Longing Hearts

Daisies were my mom’s favorite flower. Honestly, her life resembled their beauty. She was a sweet spirited, gracious woman of faith pouring out JOY and the love of Christ to all who knew her.  Though her marriage of almost 50 years was not how she would have envisioned it, she stood strong and courageous and embraced her place.  She believed God for better days ahead and kept believing, in spite of the many obstacles.  Hidden behind her beautiful smile, her life consisted of frequent frustrations and brokenness.  There were seasons when she wanted to walk away but it was fear that kept her where she was but faith that gave her the guts to dare to believe that her tomorrows would be different.

I understand my mom so much better these days. The struggle between fear and faith, comfortable and risky, holding on and letting go.  Oh, how I wish her life could have been different.  Fear is a prison that shows no mercy if not reckoned with.  As her daughter, my heart breaks for hers still today but really, that’s so silly.  She is basking in her eternal home with Jesus now which takes away so much more than the sting of death but also the brokenness that she lived through.

I hoped and believed with my mom for things to change.   After all, we knew we were praying according to God’s will, so why did my mom not get to witness the fruit of her prayers?   I know about free will, choices, and all of that however, being aware of those kinds of things doesn’t lessen the pain of our heart’s longings, right?

SO, what do we do with unanswered prayers, longing hearts and chronic suffering?

The day I lost my mom is the day I lost my best friend.  It was a loss like no other.  I  think about my fervent, pleading prayers and belief for my mom to be healed of cancer and am wistfully reminded of her passing each day and most heavily each time my kids have milestone moments that I am unable to share with her.  AND now with my precious grand-babies, her loss is felt even more.  Oh, how she would so love them!! Nevertheless, I am quite aware that we are not, by no means, the only ones on the planet to experience this kind of long-suffering in what seems to be a never-ending journey through the wilderness of pain and unanswered prayers.

I think about the couple who unceasingly prayed for years to conceive a child, finally giving birth to a beautiful baby boy, only to have their dreams forever crushed as they lost their precious baby to cancer.

I think of the little girl who cries out to God to heal her daddy, only to have him die in a car accident, three months later.

I think about the parents who fervently prayed for their child who was put into prison for drugs, only to have him released and then die from an overdose.

I think about the missionary who felt the call of God to go to a foreign country, who interceded on behalf of the lost, who believed God for protection only to be martyred, never seeing the fruit of his labors.

I could go on and on about loss, suffering, and unanswered prayers and perhaps even add your story to the above. This side of Heaven, THIS. IS. LIFE. IT. IS. HARD.  However, this is not meant to depress you, to tell you that prayer is meaningless or to deflate your faith!  Please stay with me.

Though my mom’s prayers were not answered  this side of heaven the way she had hoped,  she died in faith, STILL believing that our God is faithful.  And you know what?  There are MANY who passed before her, whose FAITH stood the test of much patience, suffering, brokenness, along with those who were burned, tortured, stoned, imprisoned, whipped and oppressed even unto death. Of course, for the most part, these beautifully brave and courageous followers of Christ were not noticed by our world Their faith did not earn them any special accolades or awards.  I can promise you this; if they were standing before us they would say none of that mattered to them.  They were doing what they did for an audience of ONE.  Friends, that ONE took SPECIAL notice of their kind of faith, so much so, that He felt it important enough to speak of them…

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back.  But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.                Hebrews 11:13-14

Did you catch that?  Read the first part again.

All these people died still believing what God had promised them.  

They did not receive what was promised

Friends, sometimes our prayers are answered quickly, obviously, and even miraculously.  Our faith is ignited and our doubts are laid dormant in light of God’s evident working power in our lives and in the lives of those around us.  Other times, God’s perfect plan comes to fruition in ways that we might not recognize or understand.

Over the long haul of asking and believing, it gets tough. We get weary.  Our faith wavers.  We don’t like to think about having to continue in the wilderness of suffering and unmet longings and certainly we don’t want to even consider leaving this earth without seeing our gut-wrenching prayers answered.  Friend, you already know this, but maybe it is time to really embrace it; your prayers may not be answered THIS side of Heaven the way you would like them to be.  Can you be okay with that? What will your response be when things don’t go as you had prayed?

Whatever it is you are praying for or against, GOD has a purpose weaved all through it.  He lovingly filters ALL things that impacts the lives of his children.  If he allowed it, HE plans to use it for GOOD.  Not only will He use it to transform YOU, but to bring about HIS Kingdom purposes on this earth and in the hearts of those you love.

This is a quote worth sharing;

“We can be sure our prayers are answered precisely in the way we would want them to be answered if we knew everything God knows.”  Tim Keller

If you step back and look at it from a Heavenly perspective, those in Hebrews 11 really received the GREATER promise…the promise of their happy eternal after with Jesus.  By God’s grace and strength, that is what they kept their eye on, as the scripture tells us.  That is how they faced the horrific and unimaginable suffering that they were subjected to.  I adamantly pray that I could do the same. How about you?

Friends, this journey on this earth is NOT the MAIN thing!  So much of the time we are so short sighted that we lose our eternal perspective.  In the scheme of things, THIS life on earth is SO short, so minute compared to eternity.  Let me just remind all of us, myself included,  that God’s calling upon our lives, first and foremost is to be His hands and feet to a lost and dying world.  That is God’s heart…to save the lost.   Are we grieving over the lost and interceding for them or are we obsessing more over our own unanswered prayers? I know for me, sometimes I get so wrapped up in my own little world that I lose sight of what is REALLY important.  I get so distracted by what is right in front of me.

Don’t misunderstand me; I am in no way belittling the heart-wrenching things you may be praying about.   Even as I write this, there are tough and difficult circumstances in my own life that I am continually laying on the alter of prayer.   I want things fixed NOW! I don’t like waiting, I don’t like feeling out of control, I don’t like pain, and I don’t like the unknown.  So, are things changing? No, not altogether…but what is changing is me.  Trusting, believing, and even waiting brings growth and maturity that cannot come otherwise.  For now, that is MORE important to my loving Father than to change the circumstances I am praying about.  So,  I will keep praying and believing that my God is in control and hears every prayer. I can be confident that God has a Divine plan that exceeds my limited vision.

It is obvious that prayer is important to God.  After all, it has been noted that there are around 650 prayers in the bible. Prayer is powerful and brings about amazing and Divine things on this earth! Jesus even prayed and gave us the ultimate example to follow.

Without prayer, there is no communication and no communication means no relationship!  Therefore, keep praying, by all means.  And as you do so, think about your difficulties this way; if what you are suffering and/or praying for is keeping you humble and dependent upon Jesus then consider it a divine blessing of grace! Amen?!

Will you continue to believe God and not allow your faith to be shaken though your prayers may seem stagnant in the wilderness of waiting or chronic long suffering? Can you passionately pray a bold and courageous prayer just as Jesus did and proclaim from the depth of your soul “not my will but thine be done”?  Lord, Jesus help us!

Will YOUR name be added to the precious saints that God deemed worth mentioning because, by FAITH, you continue to believe until your last breath on earth?  I don’t know about you, but Hebrews 11:13 gives me tenacious HOPE and a resolve to bravely and steadfastly continue to BELIEVE and TRUST God no matter how long the waiting or the pain of brokenness my heart may endure.

Friend, God sees you! God hears you and His perfect love for you will answer your hearts cry as every circumstance and every difficulty is filtered through His amazing grace.  Keep praying, keep believing, keep trusting, and keep serving!  Always remember what God has ALREADY done for you! May you be filled with HOPE as you see heaven and Jesus as the backdrop in every single thing you encounter on this journey! He is faithful and the ultimate Promise Keeper! Believe it!

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her. Luke 1:45

So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in Heaven which we have not yet seen.  The troubles will soon be over; the joys to come will last forever.  2 Corinthians 4:18

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22

Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart.  For consider what great things He has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:24

Trusting and Waiting

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It happened several years ago, one August morning. In some ways it seems like forever ago.  Yet, I still remember it so vividly.  I was awakened from a deep sleep with the following scripture on my heart.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:3-5

I would love to sound all spiritual and say this was a normal occurrence in my life.  However, being awakened with a Word from God just pouring into my spirit wasn’t something that I was used to.  It is for that very reason that I knew this was special and I needed to pay attention. Of course, I didn’t understand it then but it was soon to be my life-line for the most difficult season I had ever encountered.

You see, a few years before that memorable August morning, something had gone way south in my marriage. It had happened many times before but this time was different. I knew it. Sure, our marriage had been extremely difficult over the years and there was much brokenness and betrayal throughout but I believed that we had finally progressed beyond all of that.  I so longed for the testimony that we had previously shared with our church family,  to continue to be the testimony of our tomorrows.  I knew God was able! Even though my gut persistently screamed at me and I saw the red flags waving, I didn’t want to give significance to any of it.  I wanted to believe that I was just being paranoid and overly sensitive.  But deep in my core, I knew.

My consistent and gut wrenching prayers became more desperate as time went on.  I asked God to bring light to the darkness, for Him to reveal what I felt like I already knew.   I begged Him and pleaded with him time and time again.   Consequently, there was no big reveal, no explanation, no tangible evidence, nothing! However, God was not totally silent. Thankfully, He gave me an anchor to hold onto.  The word “faithful” was graciously dropped in my spirit.  What did that mean?  I knew.  God was calling me to be faithful in the midst of the not knowing, the brokenness and the pain. He was asking me to simply trust Him and wait.  I had to be faithful…as a wife, as a mom, as a daughter of God and in God’s timing, He would bring truth to light and reveal His wisdom.  I could not let my feelings dictate my actions.  I could not run, I could not give up.  I had to continue right where I was, doing what I knew to do in that season of waiting.  It was a daily battle.  I prayed and surrendered my concerns, fears, frustrations, anger and pain to Jesus as I had so many times before.  However, things seemed to only get worse.  I cried and grieved a lot during that time and to say a lot is not an exaggeration. I think I knew in my heart what was coming and it broke me.  I had dear friends who tried to intervene but, unfortunately,  their kind efforts were unfruitful.

Looking back, I am beyond grateful that I was given the gift of divine space to begin the grieving process while still within the boundaries of marriage. I think I can compare it to a loved one being taken care of by Hospice at the end of this life. You know the end is coming and God, in His amazing love and grace, begins to prepare your heart to let go. I have no words to describe the difficulty of that season. It truly was like a slow death.

In the short years that followed, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and I was his care-giver.  He lived in my home  before he entered his heavenly home. I will not go into the added chaos and brokenness this brought into my life but it was very much a distraction from the sinking feeling that my world was about to be forever changed in more ways than I could comprehend.  Looking back now, the Lord was so very gracious.  He cares so very much about our burdens and brokenness. He knew this broken girl could only handle one huge life changing thing at a time.  It was not until about seven months after my dad had passed away that some truths were finally revealed. Subsequently, a month or two after I had awakened with the scripture I mentioned earlier. God’s timing is always perfect!  His ways are so much higher than our own!  Though my heart was broken in more pieces than I could count, I praised my God! I distinctly remember falling to me knees at that precise moment…it was bittersweet.   I thanked Him for finally bringing to light what I needed to know, even though it hurt so deeply.   It was then that I knew it was time. When you know, you just know.  I was rescued. I was released.

I used to always wonder how couples who had been married for 30 years could end up getting a divorce.  It seemed totally crazy to me. After-all, if you made it that far, you should be able to ride it out for the long haul, right?  Well, now I get it.  There comes a time when you finally say, enough is enough. I can’t do this any longer.  I need peace. I need to take the short years I have left and live them to the fullest even if it means living them alone.  It is not the life we would have chosen but that is how things sometimes turn out this side of heaven.

It has been nearly three years since I made that decision,  I dealt with two deaths in a short amount of time, the death of my father and the death of my marriage.  The death of my father was so very hard..but the death of my marriage and the challenges that have followed have proven to be the most challenging and painful season I have EVER walked through. Even though the struggles were overwhelming at times, I know my God rescued me.  Yes, God ordained marriage, Yes, God hates divorce! However, I know He loves His daughters MORE than He hates divorce.   I do not for one second condone divorce.  It is ugly.  It is hurtful.  It is devastating.  It affects SO many people. It is not how it was supposed to be.  I would NOT encourage any sister of mine to walk this path without first seeking wise Godly counsel and WAITING for God to reveal His guidance.  Waiting is a key factor.  You cannot make this decision based on your hurt and brokenness.  Emotional decisions are not wise.  You have to give yourself time to work through some of your brokenness before making such a life-altering decision…this applies to every area of our life!

I am 100% FOR marriage!  I am 100% for commitment and staying for the duration.  I am also 100% convinced that when you have done all you can do… the braver, more courageous choice is to let go and let God lead you out.  After 30 years, it was scary, it was stepping out of the boat of “I can’t do this” and taking hold of Jesus, trusting Him to keep me and my children from sinking.  It was like having a somewhat twisted, toxic and unhealthy security being pulled out from under us.

So why am I writing all this? Because somebody needs to hear it.  I used to think that going through a divorce was the worst thing that could ever happen, so I adamantly avoided it at all costs.  Friend, I can confidently say with humble thankfulness, that what seems like the worst thing that could ever happen is NOT the worst thing because we serve a faithful God! He  walks with us through the yuck and the messy and helps us to be braver and more courageous than we ever thought we could.

The morning when I woke up with Proverbs 3:3-5 on my heart was a divine father-daughter moment in which I will never forget.  Of course I did not understand the significance of it then but now, wow!!  He wanted me to know that I could trust Him through the unwanted, challenging and downright messy season I was about to enter into.  He was going to be with me… leading, guiding, protecting, and upholding me and my children and though I would not understand it all, I could still trust Him.  He would make me brave.  He would give me courage to face what was coming.

Throughout this journey, I was reminded of that scripture  time and time again.  I prayed it, repeated it, cried through it and stubbornly held onto it when my feelings told me otherwise and my God never failed me.

AND so it it with you, dear sister!  Our God can be trusted!  I have heard it said, “You don’t really know what trust is until you have to trust!” That is so true!  I can tell you, at your point of desperation, God is there.  He is with you.   He is writing your story and His grace and mercy are weaved all through it bringing beauty from what may have appeared to be something that you could not fathom having to endure.

Sweet sister. NO matter what your scary thing is, God is bigger! Though you may experience pain like you never have before, you will also experience God’s amazing grace like never before. He is such a loving Father.  So what is it? What scary thing is the enemy using to torment you with by whispering “you can’t do it, you can’t make it, you’re not good enough, God can’t use you, you’re too messed up, you are not smart enough”, etc? Stop listening to THAT voice and take hold of what God says! Your problems are no match for God’s promises! Be brave and take hold of HIS grace and step onto the waters of obedience and mercy and see what He will do!  

Is it a time of waiting and preparation or is it a time of action and application? 

Whatever season you are in, God’s grace is precise and sufficient for YOU! Trust HIM with ALL of your heart.  God’s plan is so much bigger than what you can think or imagine.   Seek that father-daughter relationship with Him and as you do, you can be CONFIDENT that He will hold you, comfort you, lead you, protect you, provide for you, empower you, bless you, and work ALL things together for your good and for HIS glory!  THAT, my friend is WHO HE IS!  Believe it!

Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

 We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. Romans 8:28

Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.  Psalm 27:14

Fake or Faith?

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Recently,  I had a dear friend transparently express to me that she feels like a “fake” many times as a Christian woman.  Yay! Somebody was finally real enough to say it!  I can so relate and just maybe you can, too! Our feelings and flesh are at war against our Spirit. When life is not going as we had hoped, prayed and envisioned the wrestling is fierce. We put on our smiles and our best foot forward in front of the watching world as we battle against anxiety, stress, pain, anger, unbelief or doubt behind closed doors.

I vividly remember that feeling of “fakeness” during countless seasons of feeling betrayed and deceived.   I sucked it up and lived many of my days pushing aside my brokenness in front of the outside world.  I would intentionally put on my mask like makeup as I headed out the door, all the while hearing whispers about how “fake” I was being.   But what I didn’t recognize at the time was that satan wanted to not only destroy my family but the very foundation of who I was as a beloved daughter of God!   How? By accusing  me of being a  “fake” Christian, time and time again.  For a broken girl who wanted nothing more than to serve the Lord and honor Him, those accusations were felt to my core.   The majority of the time while attending church events, girl’s night out, small group meetings, family gatherings, prayer meetings, etc.,  I was there with my smile in tact but inside I was a train-wreck.   The accusations of the enemy left me feeling even MORE defeated.  Since then, I have gained a different perspective.   It reminds me of the verse in 2 Corinthians 2:11 in reference to satan…”For we are not unaware of his schemes.”  This feeling of “fakeness” is no doubt, one of his “schemes” to cause us to lose our footing and faith and give up all together.

Here’s the deal…I believe that when I chose to stubbornly walk in a room with my head held high,  replacing tears with a smile, forcing one foot in front of the other, faith was winning! Sister, that is NOT fakeness!   Did my smile make me fake?  Did my determination to hit the floor each morning in spite of wanting to give up mean that I wasn’t authentic?   All of this wasn’t because I was a “fake” in my walk with Christ, BUT because I HAD faith even though my feelings were all over the place.

It is true that sometimes, okay…many times, we put on our masks.  Let’s just be honest.  We ALL do it! If we all walked around allowing our feelings to dictate our lives, what a messy and ugly world it would be!  Therefore, we wear our masks.  We wear them NOT because we are fake but because we live by faith.  Faith that doesn’t reveal our brokenness but our hope that our lives can be a testimony of God’s faithfulness to those who need it. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about transparency, sharing our stories and by all means, inviting others into our brokenness….but I believe that the enemy tries to discourage us by telling us that we are less than and not authentic in our walk of faith when we choose to put on that smile while feeling as though we are dying inside.

I am extremely proud of my dear friend that I mentioned earlier. Why?  Because her wrestling proves that she is throat punching the devil every time she chooses to continue to serve Jesus even though behind her smile she may be filled with doubts, fears, anger, pain, anxiety and all that other unwanted yuck that life tends to dump on us.

As women of God, we cannot base our life on our feelings. You may feel “fake” but if you are holding onto Jesus and battling those negative emotions by believing His Word, you are anything BUT fake! You are walking out your faith in a way that trumps your feelings! “Faith it till you make it” wins!  The next time the enemy whispers that you’re living a “fake” life, sweet sister remember this;

Your faith is the very reason you can STILL smile even if it is forced for a season and  even if, behind closed doors, your tears cover the carpet.

Your faith is the the very reason You can STILL get up and show up even though you may not “feel” like it and getting out the door takes all the fight you can muster.

Your faith is the very reason You can STILL worship even though it may be the last thing your flesh “wants” to do as the enemy is relentlessly whispering his lies in your ear.

Your faith is the very reason you can STILL serve and minister in spite of the tears and wrestling that no one sees because your faith is not based on your feelings but on choosing to do the right thing, in spite of them.

It is God’s grace that upholds us in the darkness so that we can display His Glory in spite of our fickle and changing feelings and circumstances.  That is living by faith!

Let God lead you, my friend!  There are opportunities that God places before us for the purpose of being real, vulnerable and transparent that is beyond the scope of  our intimate circle. However, there are many more times that you may need to intentionally put on that smile and put on your faith as you walk out the door AND that’s okay!  You are NOT a “fake”!  YOU, my friend. are a daughter of God Almighty who is walking out her faith in a way to bring honor to her Lord! Keep walking, keep shining, keep putting one foot in front of the other and know that one day your faith will become sight!  Faithin’ it and smiling with you, my sister! Faith wins!!

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7

When Things Can’t Be Fixed

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Life is full of broken moments, broken things and broken hearts…..

As a daughter…

Upon getting older in life, we realize life really does come full circle.  As children, our parents  care for us when we can’t take care of ourselves.  As we then become adults, we end up taking care of our parents and watch them return to that child-like dependence that we once had for them. Walking along side of them as they go through the transitions of old age including sickness, loss of strength, loss of memory, loss of mobility, and eventually, the  loss of their beautiful lives, is a pain that is in a category all of it’s own.  There is nothing that can prepare you for these difficult and heartbreaking seasons and years.  It can seem unbearable, at times.  I never knew my heart could hurt so much, It really is true that you wake up the next day after such loss and wrestle with the morning itself….after-all, you feel that the sun should not be rising, that life should not be going on without them. It just feels wrong.  It cuts to the very core of a child witnessing the deep emptiness of death itself.   I so remember feeling like an orphan after losing both of mine. I did not anticipate that, but nevertheless, it was something that I had to process and work through.  Maybe you can relate.

As a wife…

When our marriages are on the brink of destruction we pray like nobody’s business.  We plead for God to fix it.  We invade heaven asking for Divine intervention.  After-all, we want our happily-ever-after! It is what we dreamed about as a little girl in pig tails watching Cinderella.   We anticipated the day when our own Prince would come and rescue us and forever love us and in return, we would fully and devotedly love them and write our own “happily-ever-after’ story!  That’s just how it was supposed to be, at least that is what Disney wanted us to believe!  But then, real life happens.   We are left feeling short-changed.  We marry but we find out that it is hard and even heartbreaking at times.  Some struggles challenge the marriage and only propel the relationship to be more intimate than ever before.  Some things, however, drive a wedge that can forever separate and destroy.

As a mom…

Walking along side of your kids as they go through painful stuff is heartbreaking. We do everything we can to try to protect them and try as we may, we can’t always keep them from those unintended times when situations are out of our control and our protection is not enough. We are confronted with the harsh reality that just as we can’t protect them from pain, we can’t easily “fix” their broken hearts or protect them from life-altering situations or sickness. There are also those gut wrenching moments when your child may become “that” child…you know, the one that you heard about that got in trouble with the law and you swore your child would never, ever do such a thing? Then there are those courageous moms who have experienced the excruciating pain of losing a child. There are no words that can describe the pain. This is life. It’s hard, It’s humbling.  It’s full of unwanted devastation as we get the front row seat that demands us to experience the heartbreaking moments of being a mom who loves so deeply. Yet, whether we are moms by birth, spiritual moms, moms by adoption, grand-moms, we would choose it all over again!

As a child of God…

There are experiences in our own lives that take us by surprise and knock us off our feet. Unanswered prayers, broken hearts, pain, sickness, loss, and yet we know from scripture that we WILL have trouble.  The “why me?” questions force us to examine our true motives for being a Christ follower. Is it more about our relationship with Him or about what He can give us beyond the greatest gift of our salvation? If we are not careful, our expectations can turn selfish over time.  We get mad at God and blame Him as if we should be able to dictate our own lives with the avoidance of pain and suffering. Being a follower of Christ does not exempt us from the tough stuff.  Jesus told  us in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” There is no where in the bible that ever promises a life without difficulties this side of heaven.

SO what do we do with our brokenness, disappointments,  loss and those things that can’t be fixed?  How do we carry on when the pain goes so deep?

Here is what I have found….there are days when darkness seems to win; when fear bullies faith right out the door, when facing another day takes all the courage and bravery we can muster.  There are moments when desperate and broken hearts wonder if their dreams of the “happily ever after” are but, forever gone. So is life. I get it! However, there is an underlying component that brings a powerful flip-side to each and every agonizing heart.   It’s the God-factor! Because of our “BUT GOD” that follows and pursues us on this journey, we are never, EVER without hope, even in the most dire circumstances.

Friend, what if we spent LESS time focusing on our difficulties and MORE time looking to Jesus and capturing the precious blessings He provides in the midst of our mess! Not easy, I know. BUT it’s the most productive, powerful and peaceful option! I promise, you WILL see Him  in the worst of circumstances if you can but change your focus! He IS with you! He IS walking you through to bring you out!  Can I just say that faith challenged is a faith that is growing as opposed to faith that is comfortable and stagnant?  Comfortable faith brings us to lukewarmness and even a subtle move towards self-reliance which leads to pride and compromise…ugh!  We don’t like to admit it, but our flesh is so prone to wonder when we don’t feel a “need” for Jesus or when things are going great.   True story!

You may very well be thrown into the fiery furnace of difficulty, loss, divorce, or chronic illness.  You may find yourself in the lion’s den with fierce situations and roaring opposition!  You or someone you love may be going through the dark valley of loving a prodigal child.  You may stumble upon Red Sea moments that stop you in your tracks,  BUT God.  He comes.  HE rescues.  HE delivers.  HE protects.  HE heals.  HE comforts. HE speaks “peace be still” as the storms rage around us.  Throughout these turbulent seasons, we are reminded  that God does and will do what we can’t as we painfully SURRENDER our hearts and the hearts of those we love to Him, fully TRUSTING HIM for the outcome.  It’s called grace! And God has an abundance of it precisely stored up just for YOU and for me! We will find that in His perfect timing, His purpose will outshine the pain and that He will use the very pain we tried to pray away to transform us and others into the beloved children He created us to be!

Friend, because we know Him as our Lord and Savior,  we can say with stubborn resolve and unshakable courage “I am blessed!”  What a testimony for the Glory of God! As God’s very own beloved daughters, we have this ANCHOR that keeps us steady no matter the strength of the winds that threaten to destroy us or the devastation and loss that surrounds us.  Sister, our “happily ever after” WILL come because our future is secure in Jesus! Our hope goes way beyond the here and now! When all is said and done, we WIN because Jesus has already won this battle for us!! Can I challenge you to start focusing on and proclaiming out loud how very “blessed” you really are!?  That is TRUTH that no circumstance, devil, or person can take away! LIVE blessed, THINK blessed! It is YOUR inheritance! Receive it today and everyday with abundant JOY and know that the best is yet to come!

Jeremiah 17:7 But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Revelation 21:3-4  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

How Will They Know?

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Deuteronomy 32:3

I will PROCLAIM the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!

If you have known the Lord for anytime at all, you have, no doubt, experienced the greatness of our God.    Since the day of your salvation, God has been writing your story.  A story FULL of His divine, amazing grace.  What has God done since that day?   What storms has He calmed?  What wounds has He healed?  Are you proclaiming His greatness? Somebody needs to hear about the faithfulness of your God….somebody this very minute needs hope.

Think about it……….

How will the mom who has lost her precious baby know that He is the God of all comfort?

How will the wife whose husband left after many years of marriage know that He is the God that will never leave her nor forsake her?

How will the man who is bound by addiction find out that He is the God of deliverance and freedom?

How will the couple on the brink of divorce find out that He is the God of restoration and redemption?

How will the parents who are utterly devastated by the choices their child is making find the strength and courage to continue to pray and believe for divine intervention?

How will the woman who has just went through the brokenness of divorce find that her identity is not defined by her marital status but in who Christ says she is?

How will the man who feels he is at the end of his rope find hope and hear about Jesus dying on the cross for his salvation?

How will the lady who has just been diagnosed with cancer find faith to believe that Jesus is her healer?

How will the woman who aborted her baby and is now consumed with regret and shame find out the He is the God of abundant mercy and love?

How will the father who has lived a life of regrets and shame find out that He is the God of forgiveness and new beginnings?

How will the girl who feels she can never measure up and therefore, wants to give up, find that she is fearfully and wonderfully made…created by God who loves her completely and unconditionally?

I could go on and on with regards to life and the gut-wrenching things that people face day in and day out.  Life is hard! This world needs HOPE.  This world needs you to share the HOPE that has brought you through! 

Jesus walks with us through the wilderness of pain, loss, rejection, and brokenness not only to transform us into His likeness and to heal us but so that others can be transformed and healed, as well.

Here is what I have found to be true.  Broken people can confide in a Pastor for prayer and wisdom, which is very beneficial and recommended.  They can go to a Godly, licensed counselor to help facilitate healing and wholeness, which is absolutely wise and proactive.  They can share their pain with a friend which will bring great comfort to their hurting heart. But there is nothing like hearing God’s story of redemption and hope from someone who KNOWS what it is like to go through what you are experiencing. 

I understand this first hand.   The years of betrayal leading up to my divorce left my heart broken and full of loneliness and even shame, at times. For so long, within my close circle of friends, there was no one who had experienced what I was going through. Though they were so very kind and gracious, they couldn’t really understand my pain. When God finally brought someone into my life who had been where I was and was willing to share her own story, I found hope like I hadn’t had before.  I devoured every word she had to say….I knew she understood me.  The LIES that the enemy had been shouting to my wounded heart were exposed.  I wasn’t the only ONE who ever faced this.  I was NOT alone.  My feelings were NOT crazy!  God was STILL with me!  Truth  brought some bright hope to my darkness that day  because one dear sister was willing to be transparent about her past and God was glorified.

Dear friend, our painful and messy lives can be used to proclaim God’s powerful message to the hurting!

Part of me wants to passionately ask…how can we NOT tell them? How can we not tell about how God gave us hope when we had none? How He saved, healed, redeemed, restored and delivered?  How can we possibly keep silent when God has been so abundantly gracious to us?  

Lord, thank You for Your amazing and precise grace that has saved us and brought us victoriously through our most darkest and unwanted seasons.  May we boldly proclaim your goodness!  Help us to bravely allow our struggles, brokenness, and pain to be used to bring GLORY and HONOR to your name.  Amen!!

2 Corinthians 1:4  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

 

 

Divorce, Remarriage and a Handful of Stones

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I never thought I would find myself writing about this subject matter.   This week, someone, who did not like my posts about my journey through divorce, shared my link in a “Christian” group page.  Since then, several have contacted me with regard to their disdain towards me.

Because I am divorced and I am a Christ follower, I have been sent videos on divorce and remarriage, that condemns both.  I have received horrible comments.  Some of these strangers who commented were seemingly kind but felt the need to correct my erroneous thinking.  Some picked up stones,  surrounding them with pretty bows of christian “cliches” and then proceeded to throw their ugliness full force.  Some just got right to their stone throwing without hesitation.

Below are some of the comments I have received.

  • “You should not be making believe that God approves of your divorce.”
  • ‘God does not bless your disobedience.  He hates it.”
  • “You need to repent of breaking your home and be forgiving toward your husband.”
  • “No true Christian can pursue divorce and claim Christ.  These two are incompatible. You do not know the heart of Christ if you claim otherwise.”
  • “Marriage is permanent. No exceptions.”
  • “You are still every bit married today in God’s eyes as you were on your wedding day….”
  • “Your sin brings destruction on the Church and smears Christ’s face in the mud.”(This one hurt the most)

The purpose of my blog is NOT to draw the attention of those who believe differently than me and inadvertently invite their judgement.  The intended purpose is to encourage other broken girls who need hope and courage in the midst of their own difficult journey.

I will not post, debate nor will I respond personally to comments from people who choose to carry stones in their hands.  That would be useless and of no good benefit, anyway.  I want to honor God not use this outlet to prove a point or debate such things.

I get it, there is a wide chasm that separates “Christians” because of their beliefs about divorce and remarriage, among other things.  There are scriptures that can be misconstrued, twisted, and taken out of context to support both sides of this debate. I have researched both arguments.   I have sought the heart of God for my own self.  While I do not in any way claim to be a biblical scholar, nor a “know it all” when it comes to this subject, I am at peace with what I feel God has revealed to me.

So why am I writing this? Part of me is venting, ha! The other part of me is sharing because this is a learning curve for me that maybe others can learn from, as well.

It’s a rough world out there friends, yes, even among those who identify themselves as Christians.  I have never, in my 50+ years on this planet, been addressed by “Christian” strangers in such a condescending, condemning and ugly way.   Sadly, I know this happens in the church world all the time but this is new for me.   I am frustrated and trying to find my footing in the midst of such ugliness.  I have prayed that the Lord would search and purify my heart from the evilness that is behind this.   I am reminded of Psalm 37 that has been my go to throughout the last couple of years.  I wrote about that here:  https://blessed-is-she.com/2018/03/22/185/.  I have to make an intentional decision to not fret, to trust God, to commit to Him, delight in Him, wait upon Him, guard my own heart and leave the hearts of others in His hands. SO much easier said than done BUT by God’s grace it CAN be done and done well! STILL learning this one!

The blessing that I am choosing to find in this messiness is that these people have caused me to reflect and search my own heart.  How do I treat others who do not believe the way I believe? Who interpret scripture differently from me?  There is a right way and a absolute wrong way.   I would not want to be guilty of causing my sister or brother in Christ to feel that they were my latest target for judgmental stoning because we believe differently.  I understand that there are times when we DO judge for our own protection.  The Word specifically tell us that we will “know” them by their fruits.  This requires judging the actions and behaviors of others BUT not ever for the purpose of condemning or picking up stones. That kind of judgement is rooted in pride, arrogance and an accusatory mindset.  However,  I may not have been as bold and cruel as these people but in my thoughts am I guilty of judging (stoning), as well? Have I done this very thing to others?  God knows our thoughts and motives way before others experience our actions.  Lord, please forgive me. What about you?  If we were all honest, we all have done this more than we care to admit.  We can do better!

Lord, Jesus help us! Help us to minister your love to those who are broken among us and to those who believe differently about such debatable topics.  God is big enough to correct each and every one of us if our hearts stay humble and teachable.  We have no idea the things some of our brothers and sisters in Christ have had to walk through.  There are many hurting.  There are many wounded.  Life is hard.  Help us to remember why you have given us space on this planet.  Not to throw stones but to be a light for you for the unsaved and to come along side of and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ. May we be humble vessels that bring honor to your name as ambassadors for Christ.  Empower us to represent you well, so that others will experience your love through us.  Your Word tells us that it is your kindness that leads to repentance.  Together, may we show your kindness to those who are struggling to find their way.  We need you Lord! ALL of us! The married, the divorced, the widowed, the single, the remarried. the young, the old and all in between!  Judgmental Stones were meant to hurt not to heal.  Help us to use stones only to build a bridge so that others may find their way towards You.  The world is watching.  May they see the love of Christ in place of judgmental stoning within our church body and communities.  May we allow the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do and quit thinking that it is up to us to change or “fix” others.   May we fix our eyes on Jesus and thank Him for His amazing grace that transforms not only our own lives but the lives of those we are called to love and serve, even if they believe differently than we do.

What Divorce has Taught me About Life and the Hard Stuff

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I thought I knew a few things about God, life, myself and relationships pre-divorce… ha!! Needless to say, I knew so very little.  It is interesting how going through the wilderness seasons can be so full of difficulties and yet it is during those times that we learn and grow the most.

Just a warning, this is a long post. I am breaking the “blogger’s 101 rules for success”…but I am okay with that!  Believe me, there is more I could write on this subject so there may be a part 2 at a later time.

Please understand that journaling is heart therapy for me and because I am choosing to live #fearless in 2018, I am sharing!  Everyone’s journey through divorce is different so not everyone will be able to relate to everything that I mention.  However, just maybe there is at least one nugget that may help you in your own life if you find yourself in this place.  If divorce is not a part of your story, maybe this will help you in understanding some of the thoughts and struggles that divorce brings to the heart and mind of someone you may love and care about.

The following is the result of things said to me, things I had to learn the hard way, things that God showed me, things that helped me, things that I struggled with and things that I felt needed to be said. New things will be added later as I am still on this journey.  Please don’t judge me or anyone else who is walking down this road.  Nobody approaches their wedding day thinking or wanting this to be a part of their story! It is so messy, so hard, and so crazy difficult!

First of all, you CAN be divorced AND love Jesus!  You CAN have God’s favor and blessing over your life unlike what some may have told you!  You are NOT a heathen.  You have not been ousted from God’s grace and love. Yes, I had to say it! Now we can move on…ha!

Divorce is life-changing not life-ending!  Your marriage may have died but you are still here! Believe Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11.  The Word of God STILL applies to you!  God’s promises for you have not changed!

Letting go of your toxic marriage is NOT giving up on God NOR your faith.  There are times when it takes MORE faith and courage to let go than to hang on.  KNOW the difference.  I believed that lie for way longer than I care to admit to.  Our Father God is so gracious toward His broken daughters!

There are many losses that divorce demands.  The loss of  your dreams, your family unit, some friends, your extended family,  your “wife” and “Mrs.” status, your plans of growing old together, celebrating 50 years together, sharing grand-babies together and on and on. It is good heart therapy to make a list of your losses and take time to grieve over each one.  It is a process.  Embrace this season and the pain you are feeling.  Don’t deny it or try to hide it so that you can get THROUGH it!

Need some joy?  Let God use you in the midst of your own brokenness! Yep, it is possible!  Sister, you have NOT been put on a shelf! You are not deemed unusable for the Kingdom of God.  That is a lie from the enemy!  I understand that you may need to take a break from some ministry commitments for a season, and understandably so.  However, being overly self-absorbed for a lengthy period of time is not at all beneficial.   Take some time to reach out or simply make yourself  available to encourage a hurting sister.   Not only will it bring you joy to do so, but it might just help with your own healing!

You will be judged.  That’s okay!  Not everyone will understand because not everyone knows the details of your story…AND not everyone needs to know.  The Lord will reveal truth in His timing to those who need to know, the rest… let go!

Guard your heart! You are vulnerable!  Give yourself time to heal.  Give your kids time to heal.  Do NOT rush into another relationship! Make peace with who you are and embrace your singleness. Wait until you can confidently say and know that you are going to be okay with or without being in another relationship.  Ask your Godly mentors and friends if they think you are ready to date.  USE wisdom! Don’t be needy thinking you HAVE to have another man in your life…sister, you don’t!  Under these circumstances, desperation invites devastation! Seek God’s will for YOU!! HE knows what you need! Deal with your stuff…your mess, as much as possible so that you are not a target for another toxic person to come along and bring MORE messiness to your life.  Remember, your choices effect all those in your sphere of influence, especially your children….choose wisely!

The big “D” label it feels you are wearing on your forehead does not exist.  You are not an outcast as though you have the plague. Hold your head up! You are the beloved daughter of God Almighty! Walk like it, talk like it, and act like it!

Find your tribe! You will need prayer warriors who will go to battle for you and your kids on a consistent basis.  You will need those surrounding you who will speak God’s truths to you to combat the lies that the enemy wants you to believe.  You will need mentors, counselors and/or pastors who will come along side of you giving you encouragement and much needed support, wisdom and even rebuke. This is so very important!  Seek them out! Pray about who God wants to use in your life that will have your best interest at heart along with Godly wisdom.  There will be days when you will be in a brain fog, numb, and unable to even pray, but these precious God-sent people will fill in the gaps and lock shields in prayer on your behalf.  DO not for one second underestimate the power of your inner circle and those who you are allowing to speak into your life!

The enemy is your accuser, not God!  You are a child of God.  Your marital status does NOT define you, only God does!

Do NOT use your kids to hurt or get back at your ex.  Do NOT try to get them on your “side” by slandering and speaking negatively about your ex!  Do NOT post degrading and ugly things on social media about your ex!  Your children don’t miss a thing! They are watching! They are listening! Let God be your defender. Let God reveal truth. Do NOT bring more messiness to their broken hearts by taking part in this type of yuck!  Love your kids MORE than yourself and your need for revenge! (Leave the revenge part in God’s hands! Take the high road  always! Read and study Psalm 37) Look out for their best interests! Keeping your mouth shut is the best policy.  If they ask questions, speak truth as God leads but stick with the facts. Don’t bring your emotions into it.  This is not easy but the most beneficial and God honoring, heart-protecting thing you can do.

Some relationship dynamics will change.  Don’t be upset with the friends who do not send you invites any longer.  Show grace.  After all, it’s awkward.  Things ARE different.  Just maybe they do not know what to do with you so they just don’t invite you.  They don’t want to hurt your feelings when all the couples show up and then there is you.  Maybe they think they are protecting you.  Again, show grace, live in grace, and do NOT let offense take root in your heart.  You have enough messiness to deal with, don’t add to it!  God knows the close circle of friends that you need surrounding you.  Be thankful for them and don’t get bogged down with those who are choosing to love you at a distance, it’s okay!

Live. One. Day. At. A. Time. Seriously, I HAD to live this way on my darkest days.  I could not fathom my tomorrows and how things were going to turn out with all the craziness that never seemed to end.  Friend, God will give you grace for THIS day.  AND when tomorrow comes He will give you sufficient grace for THAT day.  He tells us to NOT worry about tomorrow.  Be obedient to His word. Trust Him with ALL of your heart. AND at the end of the day do it all again the next day! HE is faithful!

There are times when you will want to hide from the world and go into seclusion. This is okay in small amounts but if you find yourself in a pity party in which you can’t seem to find the exit door, force yourself to reach out to a friend or mentor.  You were not created to live life without community.   Recognize that caving into seclusion is a tactic by the enemy to destroy you.  Don’t let him.  YOU have a choice to make….choose wisely and don’t ignore that text from a friend or that phone call.  It just may be God’s life line and blessing towards you…receive it!

If your ex is toxic (and maybe even if he is not), cut off all ties except for what is absolutely necessary (due to children).  Looking at his posts on social media will keep you bound and hold you back from moving forward.  I did this. I looked. I watched. I checked it often. AND guess what?  It was NOT at all beneficial to me or my healing, it was just the opposite.  I ugly cried, I battled with the “that’s not fair” scenarios, I got angry, I had to forgive over and over again, I lived in fear.  I wanted to defend myself (thankfully, I didn’t! Always choose the high road!!!)….it broke me time and time again.  Everyone kept telling me to stop but I found it so difficult to do.  Thankfully, God’s mercy saw to it that it was stopped by His intervention and I am SO thankful! Guess what it did for me? FREEDOM! That’s right! Wow! I did not even realize how very much it was affecting me until it was stopped.  I walked a little more upright  without that heavy burden of accusations and negativity that I was allowing to keep me bound.  I moved forward in ways that I hadn’t before.  It may be hard to do but once you break that need to “see” and “know” you will find freedom that is so lovely, I promise! LET it go!!!  Just do it already!

It’s okay to not be okay!  You will experience some of the same emotions as if someone you loved had died.  You may be sad, angry, depressed, lonely, and downright heartbroken… you are normal! You are grieving the death of your marriage. It’s a process.  You are not crazy! AND just when you think you have got your footing, it starts all over again.  That just means you loved deeply and there is no fault in that!  Jesus’ promise to you is that He is with you…He is close to you in your brokenness!  You are NOT alone!  Psalm 27:18 declares it!

This could very well be the time that you have to be braver than you have ever been! You may have to stand up for what you believe is right! Let God empower your backbone! Fight for righteousness, fight for what’s in the best interest of your kids, speak the truth and don’t cower in the face of opposition.  You will be surprised at the inner strength and courage Gods give you….it’s a beautiful thing, really! “Jesus makes me brave” became the words I spoke over myself SO many times! AND He DID it!  I did things I felt so incapable of doing because of Jesus in me! He is the difference maker AND game changer in any and all things that we will face in this life! We are blessed! If God is for you, who can be against you? Romans 8:31

Just to re-emphasize…..You may have lost your partner in life but recognize that you are not alone, not ever.  God is your partner, He will help you and fill in the gaps. He will help you as a single mom, as well! It’s you and Jesus and He will not fail you!

A few final thoughts…

Friend, you are going to be okay! Jesus came for broken girls just like you and me. His Word tells us that He came to bind up the broken-hearted (Isaiah 61:3).  He is the God of new beginnings and fresh starts.  He forgives, heals, redeems and makes new!! I understand that this is not the life you had planned. It stinks. It hurts. It’s devastating. However, this is NOT the end of your story! There are chapters still to be written! The Lord’s GOOD plans for you are STILL good and have not changed just because your marital status changed.  What you are going through right now is only for a season.  It will not always be this hard or hurt this deeply! I promise! I understand that may be difficult to imagine right now.  However, I am confident that you will look back one day and be amazed at what you gleaned and the beauty that emerged from this time of broken holy dependence upon God…..from one broken sister to another, that is TRUTH, my friend! Our God is faithful, Believe it!