Tag Archives: loss

Do you believe in God?

Colette Fabry, Co-Author of awriteheart.comI walked down the streets of NYC in awe.  In awe of the variety of people, of sin, of poverty & materialism, of smells…some good and some horrendous. I saw homeless teens taking shelter in cardboard boxes and people digging through garbage for scraps to eat.  No one else seemed to be alarmed by these sights. I was taking it all in for what seemed like hours as a heaviness eventually settled on my spirit.

Then I heard someone preaching from what I thought was the Bible. There were groups of men monopolizing corner after corner on street after street. They were dressed in robes and stood on ascending, throne-like platforms. As I got closer I heard clearly their confusing message.  They screamed into microphones… words of racial hatred and Bible mixed with blasphemy. They shouted loudly in Hebrew, and made hissing sounds, at several Jewish men who ran past me.

The man on the top of the platform yelled into his hand held mic “YOU, lady with blonde hair, DO YOU BELIEVE IN GOD?” Out of hundreds of people walking by, he was looking and speaking directly at me. I yelled back to him “Yes, I do believe in God.”

Later I thought about this experience and wondered how I would have felt if an evil man had held a gun to my head while asking me the question, “Do you believe in God?” The same question that the young college students in Oregon were asked this past week. They stood up and and declared their faith in God. And then were shot and killed.

[blockquote cite=”Hilary Mantel, author” type=”center”]I cannot unbelieve what I believe.  [/blockquote]

Where does such faith, such belief, come from?  A convicting, amazing faith that sees beyond this life and chooses Jesus over all else?  Unless a person knows Jesus, God incarnate, they cannot possibly understand.

Those who lack faith will not understand how Christians can stand in the face of death with sadness, yet boldness; those with faith know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

Those who lack faith will not understand a belief in something you cannot see; those with faith see Almighty God and His glory in everything. We see with spiritual eyes the purpose and meaning of this temporal life. Temporal… short, fleeting and passing quickly like a vapor. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

[pullquote cite=”Isaiah 26:3″ type=”right”]Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.[/pullquote]Those who lack faith may not understand why, in the face of death one would not save himself, if even out of fear alone; those with faith understand grace and peace. How it pours over one who needs it every single day and in perfect timing. We also know that Christ gave His life for us so that we can have life eternal.  I’m not sure every person who says they are a Christian would stand strong for Jesus in the presence of their murderer.  But I do know that genuine Christians would; there is no other choice.

Those who lack faith will not understand why God would allow such things like the tragic death of innocent students; those with faith understand that God is Sovereign. That nothing passes through His hand without his permission and that even the most horrible things are exchanged for a greater purpose. No heartache is wasted.  (Psalm 139)

[pullquote cite=”Revelation 21:4″ type=”left”]And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.[/pullquote]Those who lack faith may not understand why parents and families and a nation must suffer at the hands of such awful tragedy; those with faith feel deep sorrow and weep for the hurting.  We know that God miraculously heals broken hearts and comforts those who are suffering.  We know that one day all things we despise… sickness, sorrow, heartache, physical death and evil will come to an end. We know that we must walk through life so that we can understand good and evil. So that we learn to hate unrighteousness with all that is in us. We are living among the consequences of sin in a fallen world. One day there will be no more tears. It is then that we will understand the meaning of love and righteousness in all its fullness.

Those without faith can’t understand how Christians can believe in eternity; those with faith know that the dash between our birth and physical death is a tiny dot on a long line of never ending life. “For God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

It is open to everyone….this invitation to receive faith in Jesus; this hope beyond understanding and peace that is not explainable.  This faith that gives one the ability to grasp the incredible love story of God-incarnate humbling himself to walk with us and become the payment for our salvation.  So that mankind might be saved from eternal separation from Himself.  So much is not fair in this upside down world.  Like homeless teens living in cardboard boxes. Or people eating out of garbage cans.  And, students being murdered for their faith.  But Jesus promises to make all wrong, right.  To settle every score and bring peace and righteous judgment.  He will do away with evil and we will forever praise Him.  He is the ONLY HOPE for all men.  It is for these reasons that we can never deny Jesus or that we belong to Him.  Not ever. As Hilary Mantel stated so simply, “I cannot unbelieve what I believe.”

My heart aches for the families of the murdered students in Oregon. Their loved ones proclaimed their faith in God through Jesus with their very lives.  Then their faith was made sight and they heard ‘Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the JOY OF THE LORD.” (Matthew 25)

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Singing hallelujah, Colette[/custom_headline]

Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by Fey Ilyas http://flickr.com/photos/renneville/3161518829 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

getting ready to let go

Becky BennettAbout the author: Becky Bennett is the wife of a bearded-hipster-worship-leader and is the mother of three small children, Ava (5), Avianna (3), and Jack (1). Becky was diagnosed with a life-altering nerve disorder called CRPS in October of 2014 and is determined to choose joy in suffering. Originally from Maine, Becky now lives in Webster, NY, where she and her family love being a part of Northridge Church. Becky is a writer, a dancer, a singer, an artist, and a dreamer. Her greatest passion is Jesus. You can follow her journey at ToChooseJoy.blogspot.com.

[line]

Becky Bennett - AvaThis week, my dear little first-born is heading off to kindergarten. Like so many mommas who have gone before me, I’m transitioning into the place where I have to let go. As she sets her little light-up-sneakered foot onto the soil of her new school, she is stepping into the beginning of a lifetime of choices that will happen outside of my home, outside of my reach. The questions she will have to answer are about to get much more serious than, “Would you like grilled cheese or peanut butter?”

It is in these first few steps that I have to release from my arms the baby who taught me what it meant to labor and to ache but to keep my eyes on hope and on the prize of my pain. In the same way that I had to breathe deeply and walk away from her crib at night, wondering if she would keep on breathing when I did, I have to let go of the fear of what might happen to her when my eyes aren’t on her. I would suffer anything if it meant that she didn’t have to experience pain. But I can’t do that for her. I cannot choose the trials that she will have to face.

Becky BennettIt’s been three decades since my own mom set out on this journey with me — the journey of letting go. I wonder what was it like for my mom when she stood on the other end of the phone line while my husband told her, from the hospital, that our life was going to change forever because I had just been diagnosed with a disease with no cure. In that very moment, she was in another hospital hundreds of miles away, where my dad was having surgery for cancer. I wonder how many times her stomach turned I wonder what her grief must have felt like.  A mom — having to let go.

wheelchair-2For all of the years that she spent lovingly preparing me for possible decisions and potential scenarios, my mom couldn’t choose my next steps for me as I faced loss after debilitating loss. She couldn’t give me back my legs when they were pulled out from underneath me, and my dancer-mobility was replaced with a wheelchair and a hopeful pair of crutches. She couldn’t be close enough in proximity, because of my dad’s condition at the time, to help care for her three small grandchildren whose momma had just been bound to a bed. She couldn’t be there to try to coax my youngest into taking a bottle — my baby, who, at the time, was only nine months old and had just lost his only-known food supply because of the medications I now had to take. She couldn’t be there to make us dinner. She couldn’t be there to tie my shoes. She couldn’t wish away my tears. She couldn’t take away my pain.She was helpless to help me, her little girl, in any way other than to pray. And pray, she did. She cast me into the arms of the One who cares for me more deeply than even she. And care, He did.

Becky BennettAnd I was ready for it. I was up for the challenge, resolved not to give in or to let it get me down. I chose joy in the suffering. I chose hope underneath heavy despair. In large part, I was able to make those choices because my mom had spent her life modeling the strength and mercy and joy and hope of Jesus for me.

When I think about letting go, when I think about releasing my daughter into a world of choices and inevitable suffering, I have another choice of my own to make. Will I trust God with her life? Will I believe Him, not just for myself, but for my child, when He says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance,” (James 1:2-3)?

I pray for good friends, kind teachers, and strong mentors to fill the years that are to come for my daughter. I pray that they would draw her towards Christ, rather than away from Him. I am reminded, however, that so often it has been through the least friendly “friends,” through the most difficult teachers, and through the greatest weaknesses in my mentors that I have learned the most about what God’s faithfulness and never-ending love and true wisdom really look like. I pray for a smooth journey and for success for my daughter. I know, though, that it has been on the bumpiest terrain and in some of the most devastating failures that the darkest places in my own heart have been revealed and that I have been healed. Trying times have been the very instruments of my maturity and my ability to press on through further trials. And those trials have been the very influences that cause me to cling more tightly to my Savior.

So, I will cast my cares on Him. I will entrust my child to the tenderhearted God of the most intimate and gracious and life-giving love. To the One who is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) and binds up their wounds. As my mind reels with urgency, wondering if I’ve missed something in these years that flew by so quickly, I’m comforted in knowing that my five-year-old does not have to be prepared, right now, for everything she will ever face. She only needs to be ready for today. I will pray her through each moment that I cannot be a part of, and I will be waiting with open arms when she comes running back home at the end of the day.

Beck BennettI will rest knowing that no matter what choices or challenges lie ahead for this little girl, she has already made the most important one that she will ever make: to give her life to Jesus. He will always be with her. He will carry her. He will never let her go. “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day,” (Psalm 46:5).

This beautiful little person didn’t come into the world just to fill my arms. She came to fulfill a destiny. She’s walking out the door. She’s ready. And I think that now I’m ready, too.

 

[line]

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/4761764740_03ae8d52b0_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]FREE Printable from Yellow Sparrow Studio![/custom_headline]

 

PrintableLowResSubscribe to our email newsletter (click HERE), follow us on Instagram (click HERE), like us on Facebook (click HERE), or share our post on any media…and you’ll receive a FREE printable from Yellow Sparrow Studio!!! This custom piece was created just for Becky’s post, and we are so excited to be able to give it to YOU!!!

If you subscribe, we’ll have all the info we need…but if you follow, like, or share, please email awriteheart@gmail.com to let us know your email address!!!

Thanks to Yellow Sparrow Studio for the artwork!!!
[/content_band]
Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by nick.amoscato http://flickr.com/photos/namoscato/8297366194 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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.

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/4761764740_03ae8d52b0_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]SUBSCRIBE AND SHOW KARA YOUR SUPPORT![/custom_headline]

We love to see our readers’ support of Kara – and by signing up for our email newsletter you can do just that. When AWriteHeart receives 500 new subscriptions we’ll donate $500 to the anencephaly charity of Kara’s choice. To subscribe, scroll down to the “Subscribe to awriteheart.com” form and enter your information!

Our goal is to encourage as many people as we can toward a better relationship with Jesus, and you can help us by sharing our posts with others! A huge THANK YOU to all of our readers for your love and encouragement!

~Colette & Melissa
[/content_band]

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]

[gap size=”25px”][callout type=”center” title=”SIGN UP NOW” message=”Sign up to receive our email newsletter and be entered to win a gift basket from the lovely Kate Foster! Click the subscribe button below! ” button_text=”Subscribe!” href=”http://www.awriteheart.com/contact-us/” target=blank]