Tag Archives: disappointment

what a real hero looks like

Colette Fabry, Co-Author of awriteheart.comEarly in the morning on August 12th, after nine months and a long, hard day of labor a woman gave birth to a baby boy. He weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces and was 20 1/2 inches long. She had asked God to give her a child, and he was the answer to her prayer. She was still mourning the death of her first precious child, Stella, when she conceived Luca Charles. And while many people slept, at exactly 12:39 a.m., she welcomed him.

The ultrasound showed a problem with Luca early on. She remembers the day clearly. But it took many more days to absorb the meaning of all the words. Anencephaly. Won’t live. Option to terminate. Words she and her husband didn’t want to hear. Choices that were not choices.

Terminating the pregnancy would mean terminating life. A baby’s life. Lucas’s life. Her Lucas’s life. The baby boy she had prayed for and already loved. For her there was never a choice to end his life.

bbc_imageKara Gagliano is a hero. Because in a world where so many would have chosen differently, she chose life. So many people chant that it’s the mothers body and she can choose what to do with “the fetus”. It was never a choice for Kara to end her son’s life. To solve a problem. To prevent her suffering. Our world seems to have lost sight of what a true hero is. A hero is brave, courageous and one who does all they can to save someone elses life.

Most heroes don’t want to be called a hero. I’ve heard them say things like “I just did what anyone else would do”.  Most heroes are modest and don’t even recognize that they are extraordinary. Kara is a hero.

She knew that the safest place in all the world for Luca Charles, her son, was in her womb where his heart beat with hers. Where he was loved. She believed that she didn’t have the right or desire to take his precious life. Only the obligation and the desire to protect him and allow her body to nurture his.

And all mothers who have ever carried a child to term cheer for her. All who have felt the baby-kicks and hiccups inside of their wombs cheer for her. All moms will tell you that it is life they are feeling inside of their wombs. Real life. They will tell you that it is a privilege and responsibility to sustain their baby’s life, inside and outside their womb. All women who pray to God to fill their barren wombs cheer for her. And those who have miscarried. All who value life. We cheer for Kara today.

Many people may believe she had a hard choice to make. But to her it was not hard and it was never a choice at all to choose life.

So for nine months inside of her and for 18 minutes in her arms…she carried him. She sang to him. She prayed over him. She loved him. For 18 minutes she kissed his precious face. And at exactly 12:57 a.m. her baby entered into heaven. Passed from this life to the next as she said goodbye for now.

IMG_7102Kara was one of my cheerleaders when I was a Varsity Cheer Coach. I still see her in my mind. Her high-school face smiling as she yelled and jumped…and cheered. Back when problems in her life were not yet so big. But today, Kara and I switch roles. I proudly cheer for her. And I cry with her as we say goodbye to her son. For now.

Baby Luca, whose name means “light”. Mom Kara, whose name means “beloved”. They lived out the meaning of their names, on Luca’s birthday.

His birth was precious. Kara and Dave and Luca were surrounded by family who wore green shirts with the Bible verse “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart”. Baby Luca came into this world as a little light in a dark world, surrounded by family who deeply love him.

They serve a God who is the giver of life.  They bless and honor Him with theirs…even when their prayers aren’t answered their way. They understand that His ways are not always our ways. And like their Luca, they are a light for Jesus.

Thank you Kara.  For showing this world what a hero truly is. For showing us that life is precious and sacred and a beautiful gift from God.

Happy Birthday Luca!

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]This little light of mine, Colette[/custom_headline]

Kara graciously gave permission for us to post her story. Her response when asked about it was this, “Colette that is beautiful. Yes I would love it if you would share that on your blog.” Thank you, Kara, for the hero that you are.

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~Colette & Melissa
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the amazing things that happen when we are thankful in ALL things

Colette @ awriteheart.com

[blockquote type=”center”]In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thessalonians 5:18[/blockquote]

I went for a long walk on a beautiful day. Thinking on thankfulness, I wasn’t too sure about the verse above and being thankful in everything. I rephrased it into a question. It’s the will of God to give thanks in all of the circumstances that have to do with me? I had lived a long time believing that God didn’t want me to be thankful for certain things. Things I considered bad, wrong or unfair in my life. I took a deep breath, began walking faster and first thanked God, out loud, for all that was good. Easy!

[pullquote type=”right”]”How could you possibly want me to be thankful in something that brought pain…something so ugly!?”[/pullquote]Then I thanked God for what I considered bad in my life. For every heartache I’d felt, for what I didn’t think was fair, for what brought me pain and tears, for any thing…past and present…that had gone wrong. Some situations popped into my head that I didn’t even realize that I was gripping onto with anger and bitterness. Let me tell you how hard that was. It was agonizing. It brought actual physical pain to surrender everything, in thanks, as something that was passed through God’s sovereign hand. I would think of a difficult time and before the words of thanks came out I stopped. I wrestled internally with God and asked Him if I was really suppose to thank Him in that? I continued, “How could you possibly want me to be thankful in something that brought pain…something so ugly!?” I couldn’t stand to even think of it let alone be thankful in it.

I wondered if this is what the Bible meant in Hebrews 13:15 and Psalm 116:17 by a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise – the kind that costs something. Then in my struggling I was reminded of Job. The awful trials that good man endured were terrible. Satan was behind all of them and God allowed it: the destruction, the deaths, the sickness, the heartache, the hurt. He allowed it for so many reasons: to test Jobs faith, to show Himself strong, to show Job that God is all he needed, to give us all a living example throughout history about God, His sovereignty and His love for this man who, again in the end, was blessed abundantly.

The same holds true for Joseph. In the end he was thankful in all that had transpired in his life. The abandonment, the mistreatment, the separation from his father…all of it God used for good. The very thing that hurt Joseph became the avenue that God used to bless him. God was the faithful One in his life and He elevated Joseph to places of leadership. Then one day Joseph had a decision to make: would he curse his brothers and repay evil for evil? He didn’t. Instead he wept and embraced his brothers with sincere forgiveness. GOD was the hero of Job’s story. And GOD was the hero of Joseph’s story.

That day as I walked I told God that I want him to be the hero of my story as well. I thanked Him IN it all and because of that I was then able to be sincerely thankful FOR it all. I released all thanksgiving to Him. I thanked a sovereign God for allowing even the most difficult things in my life. I realized that he allows them for my good and for his deserved glory.   Had I never experienced difficulty, how would I understand in the sufferings of others?  Of Christ?  How would I be able to teach and understand forgiveness had I not been faced with situations that needed both my forgiveness and my need for forgiveness?

[pullquote type=”left”]Nothing compares to the cross. [/pullquote]Towards the end of my walk, I thought of the cross. For many years I have said and sang songs of thanks for the cross. The place where the most atrocious thing happened. Where God, who came in the form of Jesus, was hung and beaten and paid the price for all sin. Giving thanks in that? Had it not been for the cross and Christ’s crucifixion, that awful and precious act, we would be lost forever. God has a plan and a purpose for all things. All things. Nothing compares to the cross. Not any hurt or sorrow that I have or ever will have compares to the heartache of the cross. How thankful I am for the horrible, beautiful cross!

Amazing things happen when we are thankful in ALL things!

  • Our perspective changes and we can safely trust a sovereign God whose greatest characteristic is love. We no longer need to harbor bitterness, blame or anger because we know that God has a bigger and better plan…..for pure good and His glory.
  • There is a miraculous shift in the deepest part of our heart.
  • We are set free from burdens that we are not suppose to bear.
  • The cross becomes more and more our center.

I encourage everyone to spend time in thanksgiving to God for ALL things, the good and the bad…because nothing is wasted in His hands. I have watched many brokenhearted people do this. It’s one of the most difficult, emotionally draining commands given. But also one of the greatest and deepest healing things a person can do.

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him and bless his name. For the Lord is good…” Psalm 100:4 That we can enter in at all is unfathomable – THIS is the amazing grace of God. For this grace and for all things I am truly thankful!

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Give thanks with a grateful heart, Colette[/custom_headline]

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Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by eschipul http://flickr.com/photos/eschipul/6792993194 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

I prayed for healing…and this is what I got.

Melissa @ awriteheart.comI remember sitting in a church service about two years ago, in the back of the auditorium with my husband and a few friends. I could see my dad in the second row where he always sat, singing and raising his hands in worship to the Lord. I prayed for healing for him as I watched him that Sunday morning…and eventually I got exactly what I prayed for. But not in the way I expected.

My dad had been troubled for quite some time up till then. For many physical and emotional reasons, he was becoming less and less himself – more anxious, less able to cope with the stresses and changes of life, less able to enjoy what and who he loved. He was rarely at peace…He was restless, always searching for something it seemed. It wasn’t by choice – there had been circumstances in the past that had physically changed him. But regardless of the source of his problems, he was becoming less and less able to live free from the burdens his mind laid on him.

So I prayed that day in church as I watched Dad sing – for his physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. For restoration of relationships. For wholeness. I said to God, “Do whatever it takes”, and I remember the moment after that because I realized what I had just said to God…and I meant it. I wanted God to do whatever it was going to take for my dad to be healed. For his life to be whole. I knew that the cost could be great, but I was willing to take the chance.

A few months later my dad started slurring his speech, and he started walking more like an old man than the 61 year old that he was. He started losing his balance, and even falling sometimes. All of a sudden it was very clear that something had happened inside of his body. Tests and scans were done…There was no mass, no infection, no tumor, no imbalance that would cause such a change. And we were left with “dementia” – non-specific and unpredictable. He had a Parkinson’s-like condition as well, and his needs quickly escalated. Within a short time he was in a nursing home.

I prayed for healing…and look at what happened.

At first glance perhaps you’d say that God just said “no”…And maybe He did. But even if “no” was the answer, I think He wanted us to trust Him to fulfill that promise we find in Romans 8:28, that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him. Maybe He wanted us all to see that His healing comes in many different forms.

1620826_10152625054397645_4613765575691345274_nDuring the time that he was so debilitated, Dad needed my mom…He needed her in a way he never had. And she cared for him. She was tender toward him. Like most marriages, their relationship wasn’t perfect – but because of my dad’s needs I could see them growing closer – putting the past behind them and dealing with this new challenge together. I saw forgiveness. I saw surrender. I saw true love. I saw healing.

Dad died less than a year after I prayed that prayer…in his sleep, in the quiet. Mom and I went to see him that night last August, and he looked peaceful – there had been no struggle or fear or pain. He went home – home to Jesus, whole and renewed. Healed in every way.

1511514_10153781007155457_753299338_oAlmost a year after his death, my dad became a part of my daughter’s salvation story. She’s private about emotional things, and after he died she was quiet…very quiet. But something happened in her heart that changed her during the time following his death, and she decided that she wanted to trust Jesus as the leader of her life. She is healed – redeemed forever from the penalty of her sin. (Watch the video below of her salvation story and baptism.)

I know that there are many people reading this who are praying for healing for themselves or for someone they love, and I write it not to dissuade you from those prayers but to encourage you to see what healing can mean in the eyes of the only One who can see all of time at one glance. We see this vapor of time that we call our life, but He sees everything and everyone – and how it all fits together in light of eternity. Trust Him to heal HIS way, to use the “no’s” for good, and to take what we would never have chosen for ourselves to paint an ever expanding picture of how great and mighty He is.

I prayed for healing, and this is what I got.

1795416_10154294796710457_224403745214707738_oI got the healing of not just my dad, but also of my mom and daughter who I love so dearly. A favorite quote of mine by St. Augustine says, “…I was born into this life which leads to death – or should I say, this death which leads to life?” and the more I experience the more I know it to be true. It isn’t our gain that profits us, but our loss…The death of us – our sin, our flesh, even the literal death of our bodies – those deaths lead to freedom, healing, and true eternal life. We may not always get what we ask for from God, but as followers of Jesus we can trust Him to work all things – yes ALL things – together for our good.
[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]It is well with my soul, Melissa[/custom_headline]

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never give up!

Melissa @ awriteheart.comI work as a nurse in intensive care, and the vast majority of our patients have cardiac related problems. A woman came in some time ago in need of a big surgery – she had a couple of valves replaced, and after her surgery she had one complication after another. She was older but active before she came to us, and she just wanted to get home…but at every turn it seemed as though she hit roadblocks. We couldn’t get her off the ventilator, which was helping her to breathe. She had bad reactions to some of the medications we gave. Because she couldn’t breathe on her own and couldn’t eat normally, she was fed through a tube. After a time she did improve, and from a medical perspective she had gotten past the most critical part of her treatment. But by then she was depressed and discouraged by the length of time it was taking her to recover. She was sick of needing so much help, sick of not eating on her own, sick of not breathing on her own, and sick of not being free to do what she had done before. Two things happened: she stopped believing that she could recover, and she allowed her anxiety to get the better of her. She stopped participating in her care, and mentally gave up. This is the story of not just this patient, but of many patients…The struggle goes on so long that they can’t see the end goal, and so they stop hoping, and stop trying.

[pullquote type=”right”]We are unsatisfied and unhappy, but we don’t want to work for anything better because no matter what we’ve ever done before, nothing has ever really seemed to help. [/pullquote]
We do this same thing in our lives sometimes, don’t we? We struggle for a long time with the same old things…The same old relationship problems, the same old kid problems, the same old health problems, the same old sin problems, the same old addiction problems. Every day we look into our mirrors and see what we saw yesterday, and the day before that. No progress. And after a long, long time, we stop seeing the possibility of change and we settle into a chronic unrest about our situation. We are unsatisfied and unhappy, but we don’t want to work for anything better because no matter what we’ve ever done before, nothing has ever really seemed to help. We stop believing that recovery is possible because of our past experience, and we give up completely on the future.

That patient and I had a little chat after a few days of me taking care of her. I looked her in the eye and put on my “let’s level with each other” face. I told her that she was improving, but that she would never really get better if her mind and heart weren’t in the game. I told her that she had to work for a good ending and believe that she could recover. If she really wanted to get home, she would have to do difficult and even painful things. It was within her reach, but only if she was willing to put her all into it. She pondered it all, and for the rest of that day we worked  on breathing and moving and staying positive. Unfortunately others sometimes make the opposite decision, and despite their physical healing they never really live the way they did before.

[pullquote type=”left”]We can’t give up and just let it all fall apart.[/pullquote]Let’s level with each other, here and now. Whatever you’re going through and whatever I’m going through is never going to get better if our minds and hearts aren’t in the game. We can’t give up and just let it all fall apart. We’ve got promises – promises from GOD – that tell us why we shouldn’t give up! Look at just a few…

Isaiah 40:31 Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; They will run and not grow weary, They will walk and not be faint.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

[pullquote type=”right”]God is not a dispenser of wishes. But when we obey and persevere through the circumstances of life and trust Him with the outcome, He promises great things – things we can count on.[/pullquote]In these three passages (which are only three out of many) what does God promise to us when we persevere through trials and struggles? In Isaiah He promises renewal of our strength; in Deuteronomy He promises the constant companionship of our God; in Romans He promises perseverance, character, and hope in the absence of shame. God doesn’t promise that you’ll get exactly what you want, and He doesn’t promise that the end will be just as you hope it will be. He doesn’t promise that we will always be comfortable or that we will see the purpose of things the way He does. God is not a dispenser of wishes. But when we obey and persevere through the circumstances of life and trust Him with the outcome, He promises great things – things we can count on.

Like the patients that I care for, we have to keep the end goal in mind – even when we can’t see it. We KNOW what the end will be for those of us who trust Christ as the leader of our lives and the forgiver of our sins. Our toughest battle has already been fought and won by our Savior, so keep in your mind’s eye the end that God promises to those who believe. Keep praying, keep fighting, keep working, keep surrendering, keep loving, keep asking, keep seeking, keep trying, keep trusting, keep believing…Get your head and your heart back in the game, and believe that God will do what He promises!

Hebrews 12:1-3 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. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Standing on the promises of God, Melissa[/custom_headline]

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face to the sun

Melissa @ awriteheart.comSometimes those around us let us down. Sometimes we don’t live up to what others want or need from us. And sometimes we’re just failing ourselves.

Around 11am some mornings I look at the clock and panic because of what I haven’t accomplished. I literally become anxious because I know my time is limited, and Jude has watched too much TV, and I have no dinner plan. I get angry at myself because of the waste I’ve made of the morning. And then I look back on the last few days and weeks and years and get all the more angry at what I have failed at. I haven’t changed the way I wanted to, haven’t improved the way I wanted to, haven’t excelled the way I wanted to. In the past I see failed relationships, failed attempts at reconciliation, failed attempts at success, missed opportunities, and a ton of wasted time. Things look the same as they did six months ago so I get discouraged. I look at Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest, and I see just how deficient I am compared to all of the other crafty, spiritual, published, master-chef wives and moms out there. The ones who squeeze every drop of life out of every single minute have me beat.

Epic. Fail.

Or at least sometimes that’s what I feel like.

I’m not the only one – I know it. The expectations I have of myself aren’t what I produce, and that probably applies to all of us on some level. But get this…please get this. God loves to tell His story through the things that I am the least proud of. He loves to take the expectations I had and replace them with what He wants for me – something better than what I so thoughtfully planned.

We have plenty of examples of how Jesus uses the least of men to tell His story in the grandest ways. Peter in particular comes to mind…Peter was a friend of Jesus’, who sat with Him and ate with Him and walked on water with Him, but then abandoned Him. He hid like a coward. But when Christ rose from the dead and Peter saw Him, he became a different man – bold, faithful, unashamed, and unstoppable. We think of him as an author and an apostle, a leader, and a martyr. But who was he in that horrible moment when he denied knowing his Lord and his friend? He was three times a failure. Who knows what Peter thought of himself after he denied Christ…I can imagine he was reliving that moment, wishing he were a stronger man and a better man – just like we look back and wish things out of our own pasts.

This changes everything.

Doesn’t it change everything to know that God uses the worst of our lives for His glory? It changes the way we view ourselves to know that even at our lowest, He can turn it around. It changes the way we see the future to know that even if we blow it, He can use it. Even if circumstances don’t allow us to get to the place we wanted to go, He can take us to places we never imagined.

[pullquote type=”right”]If I give Him every failure, for each one He will give me back another story to tell of His amazing grace.[/pullquote]My first marriage ended – a big, unexpected, ugly fail. But the day it was officially over, I remember walking outside into the June breeze, face to the sun. I breathed deep and thanked God for a new day. My life wasn’t over, and I knew that the story of how Christ saved me – not only from sin and death but from despair and hopelessness – would be all the richer because of it. Sure enough, this piece of my life story has been one of my biggest footholds into the lives of broken people, and it has allowed me to tell God’s story in my life more times than I can remember. If I give Him every failure, for each one He will give me back another story to tell of His amazing grace. In some circles, I might be considered somewhat of an outcast…but thankfully God sees my position as a door through which His message can be delivered.

Be encouraged…

…and breathe a deep breath with the assurance that God can use whatever life you’re living. If change is what you need, then ask Him for strength. If you’re going in the wrong direction, then turn around . If you’re stuck by no fault of your own, know that He sees it. Lay your broken life at His feet and get ready for the story God’s preparing you to tell.

~Standing on the Promises, Melissa~

my King and my expectations

Melissa @ awriteheart.com I’m not a big spoiler of my kids, but not too long ago I went out to get them gifts just because I wanted to…And because I had Kohls cash and a 30% off coupon. I got something tween-y for Hannah (12), something girly for Naomi (6), and a train toy for Jude (4). Jude and Hannah were thankful, but Naomi, instead of being excited, looked at her gift and informed me of what she would rather have had…She asked me if we could take it back to the store so she could choose something different. I was angry. I expected hugs and kisses and ooohs and aaahs, but instead I got complaints. I wanted recognition for my gift and instead I got an insult. I sulked for a while, and of course eventually we resolved it and I forgave her, but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.

This is a little example that was easily resolved, but I know that you can think of plenty of times when unmet expectations ruined your day. Or your year. Or your life. I’ve had some very deep cuts from those who were supposed to love me better. People who I love have left; they have failed; they have hurt me; they have disregarded me. And I, in turn, have been deeply disappointed. Some of you are disappointed with your life right now, maybe even secretly disappointed in God for letting this happen to you. Or maybe it’s not so big – maybe your husband came home late, or your son is sitting in detention, or your co-worker was rude to you. We’ve all experienced the feeling of let-down when others don’t live up to who we think they should be.

[pullquote type=”right”]…maybe God allows us to struggle with disappointment so that we can contrast it with who He is.[/pullquote]In every disappointment and unmet expectation, the same conclusion comes to light in my life…Christ is the only constant, the only good, the only One who will not change, the only One who delivers what He promises 100% of the time. The truth doesn’t erase the disappointment, but maybe God allows us to struggle with disappointment so that we can contrast it with who He is. He is steadfast, an anchor, a beacon. He is always forgiving, always loving, always just. He always hates sin, and always seeks obedience. He is our refuge, our strength, and our hope.

On this eve of Good Friday, there is JOY because of who He is and will always be! When you are disappointed, or when someone fails to meet your expectations, remember your King and celebrate.

~Alive because He lives, Melissa~