Tag Archives: struggles

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.

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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.

 

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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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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
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blessing, abundance, trial, and drought

Colette Fabry, Co-Author of awriteheart.comToday I walked through Wegmans, which I believe is the greatest supermarket in the United States. I saw a clear case with a black mushroom in it called a Burgundy Truffle. Its price is $599.99 per pound. I looked around at all the food. Everything you can imagine and then some. There were fruits and vegetables of every kind and even a hundred different types of bottled water. Water! We understand what it is to be full. To eat until we can’t fit anything else in our stomachs. We are a blessed people.

This afternoon I was reading about the children of Israel. In Deuteronomy 8 they were entering a season of blessing and abundance. Their wilderness journey, the difficult trial of drought and hunger, had just ended. In this chapter God is telling them why they had to go through that hard time and what they were to learn from it:

It was to humble them.

They had pretty much nothing of value and had to rely on God for every basic need, such as food and water. They had the same clothes and shoes for who knows how long. Poverty humbles. And humbled hearts find it easy to turn to an all sufficient God.

It was to prove them.

It showed their character, determination, and strength. Or the lack of those things. And character or lack of character is meant to turn hearts to a righteous and perfect God.

It was to see whether they would keep God’s commandments.

He showed them the Father-child relationship and because of that they would understand how important it was to walk in his ways and to fear him.  And living this out will turn hearts to a loving and fair Abba Father-God.

It was to give them the experience of true hunger so that they would understand their need for God.

They were to remember that when they  were “filled up” with abundance, they must lift their hearts to God (Deut. 8:10,14). He warned them that if they turned from Him and forgot where their blessing came from, they would be destroyed. Understanding this turns hearts towards our Provider-God who does not share His glory.

God told the Israelites that they must never take credit for their blessings. He told them that it is God who blesses with wisdom and knowledge and the ability to work.  It all comes from his hand (Deut. 8:17-18) Lastly, He said that if they decided, in their abundance, to forget Gods commandments then they would perish. He said it so clearly. “You will perish” (Deut. 8:19). Understanding this shows the grace and goodness of a holy God that gives what is needed.

I’ve watched so many people over the years. People in famine or in abundance, people in trial or in peace…people who know what Gods Word says about how to live life. And many chose to do things their own way and stray from God’s commandments: they choose to marry unbelievers and be unequally yoked, to choose sin, to grow prideful or hateful or unforgiving or bitter. God absolutely promises that those choices will lead to destruction – destruction of something or someone and the absence of His presence and blessing.

I remember the days when Matt and I were poor. We were young, newly-married college students and although we both worked, our tax statement showed our yearly income to be under $9000.00. Poverty level. As difficult as it was to go through, I am so thankful for that time. God did some pretty amazing things for us during that “drought and hunger” season. Our needs were always met and our faith grew strong. It definitely made us appreciative of what God did for us then… and now. Our trials throughout life are for the exact same reasons as the Israelites…to humble us, to prove us, to show us the importance of keeping his commandments, and to always remember where our blessings and strength comes from. From God and God alone.

Today’s reminder caused me to lift my heart high to God with thanksgiving and praise for all that He has done…in times of poverty and in times of blessing.  In both of those seasons there is the potential to focus on self.  But clearly, the answer is to focus on an all sufficient, loving, righteous and Holy God who we get the priviledge to call Father.

Psalm 121:2 My help cometh from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]How can I say thanks, Colette[/custom_headline]

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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
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Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by Guilherme Jófili http://flickr.com/photos/gjofili/4337577836 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

“In The Presence of My Enemies”: thoughts about Gracia Burnham’s book

Colette Fabry, Co-Author of awriteheart.comI’m always in the middle of reading a book, and every so often I come across a really great one. This past week I read Gracia Burnham’s book “In The Presence Of My Enemies”, the true story of her kidnapping by a terrorist group in the Philippines. She and her husband Martin, along with several others, were taken hostage in the middle of the night and kept in torturous conditions. Sadly, after 1 year and 11 days, Martin lost his life during a rescue attempt by the Philippine army. They had survived 16 gun-battle rescue attempts, and on the 17th the Burnham’s were shot, she in the leg and he in the chest. The book kept my interest with every single word and I had a hard time putting it down.

Gracia and Martin experienced a living nightmare. While most Americans were trying to make sense of 911 and the craziness and sadness of that, these two missionaries were in the middle of the jungle wondering if they would ever get home to their three children. Reading this book, I saw such real Christianity lived out. Not many people can say that they experienced anything near this kind of horror. But people do live out difficult trials and can learn from Gracia’s insight – I know I sure did.

Her words taught me that…

The toughest of times have the ability to strengthen relationships.

I noticed something pretty amazing about Martin and Gracia.  During the most difficult times they learned to rely on each other. Instead of turning on each other in frustration and fear, they helped and comforted each other. They shared a toothbrush, learned to sleep leaning against one another and continually watched out for the other. They didn’t let this awful trial come between them, but instead, they learned to work together and allowed it to strengthen their marriage.

My heart sunk to the bottom of my toes. Everything we owned in this life was back there in that backpack. The sheet we pulled over us at night, my long sleeved shirt, our toothbrush…A horrible wave of guilt swept over me. How stupid of me. I just lost it all. ‘ Oh Martin, I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry!’ I cried between sobs. My husband did not reproach me. He just quietly answered, ‘You know honey, we’ve got to save our energy for walking. I forgive  you. And you need to forgive yourself. Its going to be ok.'” ~Gracia Burnham

During difficult times it’s wise to know when to speak and when not to.

When either Martin or Gracia wrestled with discouragement and despair, the other gently listened. They just let the other feel whatever it was they were feeling and didn’t jump right in to fix each other with words; I’m sure they barely had the energy or even the ability, but nonetheless, they just loved each other through their feelings. When Gracia spent several days crying, Martin let her. He held her and he wiped her tears or let her sit by herself. He knew that she had to work through things on her own. He realized that he couldn’t heal her heart, but that he could support it.

[pullquote type=”right”]The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…Proverbs 37:23[/pullquote]” ‘Oh, I’m not giving up my faith’, I’d tell Martin.  ‘I still believe that God made the world, He sent his Son, Jesus, and Jesus died for me… I’m just choosing not to believe the part about God loving me. Because Gods not coming through.’ …I was really mad at God. After about three days of living with this torment, I was totally miserable. When I wasn’t at the river crying, I was in the house crying. Martin learned not to say anything, because he knew this was something I had to work through myself… I knew that I had a choice. I could give into my resentment and allow it to dig me into a deeper and deeper hole both psychologically and emotionally or I could choose to believe what Gods word says to be true whether I believed it or not.  This was a turning point for me…I simply gave in and handed all my pain and anger over to the Lord right then and there….From that day on, the Lord somehow let me know in my spirit that he was still faithful.” ~Gracia Burnham

 Trials are meant to strengthen our faith.

I felt Gracia’s struggle and if I were her I would wonder: “Why would God allow this? Where is He? Does He even care about me or even know where I am?” She had to wrap her brain around her faith and what it looked like before her abduction, versus what it looked like in captivity. Trials do this to everyone, especially if you are being held against your will, hungry, tired and thirsty. She chose to believe Gods promises such as,  “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. Not because she felt the truth of those words right then, but because God can’t lie.  She learned that God walks through hard and difficulty with us and doesn’t rescue us immediately from trials. He supplied so many needs and Gracia began to be thankful for each one. She told one story about a care package miraculously finding it’s way to them. Gracia watched as their captors rummaged through the box before giving it to them, helping themselves to a package of candy bars. She was angry. She was happy to receive the soap and peanuts and all the wonderful supplies in the box, including a new pair of Martin’s prescription glasses…but she was so mad about the stolen candy bars. God worked in her heart and she changed her attitude to one of thanksgiving. So many of us do the same thing…focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do. Reading her raw struggle was awesome and such a valuable lesson.

[pullquote type=”right”]Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:5[/pullquote]”We began making little piles of all the wonderful things.  But at the same time, we couldn’t stop thinking about those Snickers bars. The bounty we had wasn’t quite enough somehow. And then we looked at each other and said, ‘You know, this box has arrived from our mission out of nowhere–and we’re complaining about what the Abu Sayyaf took? We should be rejoicing in the Lord’s goodness.’  We decided we needed to share. Martin began going from group to group giving…We had asked the Lord earlier in the month to send us something nice for Thanksgiving and realized something incredible: It was Thursday, November 22– Thanksgiving Day!”  ~Gracia Burnham

 The picture is always bigger than what we can see.

Although Gracia would never have chosen to go through what she did – to enter into such suffering and the heartache of losing her husband – through her very words I was able to see part of a bigger plan. Deep in the jungle, amongst 50+ terrorists, men who may have never heard the name of Jesus, Gracia and Martin shared the gospel.  They lived it and spoke it in the midst of the most horrendous trial.  Gracia taught the other hostages the words to “How Great Thou Art” and they sang them while the terrorists listened. Martin had several conversations with others about God and in his kind and gentle way he was able to share Jesus. I know that when this couple gave their lives to be missionaries they never imagined that this was how they were going to be used.

“…I was able to harmonize while we sang the song (How Great Thou Art) every day and sometimes several times a day. The Abu Sayyaf never hissed at us for singing it….More than once Martin said to me ‘Maybe God has us here just to praise him in this very dark place.'”  ~Gracia Burnham

We are stronger than we think.

Gracia never thought in a million years that she could endure what she did…walking miles with no food and sleeping night after night in mud…being bitten by bugs, filthy for weeks at a time, separated from her children…the fear and terror of being shot at, running for her very life, living with out the basic essentials,  the humiliation of having to go to the bathroom in front of strangers and the heartache and shock of watching her husband as he was shot and as he took his last breath on this earth. But she did it. And she did it well!  What an amazing example of strength and resilience.

I looked back at where Martin still lay. The red spot on his shirt was larger now. His complexion was pasty white. And then I knew–the man I loved more than  anyone in the world was gone. I wanted the world to stop in that moment, to reflect on my dreadful loss, to mourn the senseless death of my wonderful husband. Unfortunately, the circumstances demanded otherwise.  I had to think about getting myself off this mountain alive.” ~Gracia Burnham

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After reading her book, I want to hug Gracia Burnham and give her a life supply of candy bars!  I can’t wait to read her next book, called “To Fly Again”  I have no doubt that she did!  Through the pages of her book I feel as if I know her, that she is a kindred spirit.  Her story glorifies her God, and my prayer is that yours and mine will as well.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]This is my story, this is my song, Colette[/custom_headline]

 

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/48352229_caf6c84ceb_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]ONE MORE DAY! Enter our July Giveaway NOW!!![/custom_headline]
With each post we have published in July, Colette has added ONE MORE of her FAVORITE THINGS to this month’s giveaway! 

As of this post, the giveaway includes:

Godiva Chocolates,
a SURPRISE gift from Anthropologie,
Dunkin’ Donuts coffee,
Victoria’s Secret hair spray and leave-in conditioner,
a lilac scented Yankee Candle,
a beautiful salad tong set from anthropologie,and
“In the Presence of My Enemies” by Gracia Burnham!

There are THREE WAYS TO ENTER!!!

1. Subscribe to our email newsletter – click HERE!
2. Follow us on Instagram – click HERE!
3. Tag a friend under any post on our Facebook wall and encourage them to follow, like, or subscribe – click HERE!

You CAN be entered more than once! SUBSCRIBE, FOLLOW, and TAG NOW!!! The giveaway ends this week!!!
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Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by Horia Varlan http://flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/4268896468 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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]

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/48352229_caf6c84ceb_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Our July Giveaway Just Got Better![/custom_headline]With each post we publish in July, Colette will add ONE MORE ITEM to this month’s giveaway! As of this post, the giveaway includes Godiva Chocolates, and a SURPRISE gift from Anthropologie – Colette’s favorite store!

There are THREE WAYS TO ENTER!!!
1. Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of July – click HERE!
2. Follow us Instagram – click HERE!
3. Tag a friend on our Facebook wall and encourage them to follow, like, or subscribe – click HERE!

You CAN be entered more than once! SUBSCRIBE, FOLLOW, and TAG NOW!!!

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

how to beat the odds, one win at a time

Colette @ awriteheart.comI wish I knew how long the baby had been crying. I’ve been told that after a day or two the neighbors in the apartment building called the police because of the non-stop crying. When help arrived they found him and eventually put the pieces together:  A ten month old baby boy had been abandoned. After his troubled, teen parents fought, they left each other, left him and separately left the state. After five years the boy was reunited with his mother who had remarried an alcoholic man who was mean and abusive. Screaming, yelling, name calling and fighting became the norm in their home. This boy (my dad) grew up, married, had three children and began the cycle of horrible dysfunction all over again. Until, in his 20’s, he knew he must change. For the sake of everyone that he loved and for himself, he knew that he had no other choice but to change. And that’s exactly what he did.

a secret to successMy dad is now 74 and has lived a successful life in every way. He became a strong marine, a wise leader, a compassionate preacher, a black belt in karate, an amazing long distance runner and a terrific golfer. Most importantly, he became a wonderful husband and the best dad a girl could ask for. How does someone change dysfunctional behavior? How does someone with raging anger and a violent temper stop acting the only way they have ever known? How does someone succeed in life when so many odds are stacked against them?

When I asked my dad how he achieved success in life, this is what he said:

“Success isn’t measured by failures and disappointments.  Success is measured by achievement in spite of, and even because of, failures and disappointments. I never stopped learning from difficulty but instead, used them to motivate me. When I understood that I was made for more and that God had a purpose for my life, it changed everything. I never stopped working to be what God had planned for me to be. Instead of focusing on what I didn’t have and what was unfair, I focused on what I was thankful for and how good God is. I saw the hand and grace of God in every step and through every season of my life. There were many times when I thought about giving up but I didn’t”.

With a twinkle in his eye he continued, “I just never gave up!”

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Melissa @ awriteheart.comSuccess never comes easy. We have reached the 3 month anniversary of awriteheart blog – which happens to be right about when statistics say that we should be signing off for good. 99% of blogs fail in three months, and Colette and I knew the failure rate when we started. When the idea was conceived, we had GREAT plans for this AMAZING blog, and we were SURE it would succeed because we believed that God was in it. What we didn’t know was that lasting 90 days, being committed for even that seemingly short time, would take more perseverance, prayer, encouragement, and positive thinking than we realized.

Our struggles have been different…I struggle with understanding the website and its language, and I struggle a LOT with time management . I struggle with my ego and my competitiveness when I watch the stats. I struggle with writer’s block, and with finding my voice…Wow, have I struggled with that. There was a week or two when I just couldn’t finish a post and Colette had to fill in for me, which was really humbling for me.  Colette talked me through plenty of days when I felt like the fifth wheel. She encouraged me by reminding me of texts and comments we had received from readers, and of personal accounts they had shared. She showed me that there is purpose in what we are doing, and picked me up when I couldn’t see that vision.

Colette struggles to write with excellence – she struggles with expecting perfection in each sentence and each word.  She struggles with feeling let down when she doesn’t see tangible results. She struggles with putting herself out there and making herself vulnerable by sharing personal stories. There were times when I reminded her that this isn’t about perfection and that God uses even the posts that aren’t the most popular. I dug through emails, texts and comments to show her what God had done with things we had written. I encouraged her to share MORE of her personal stories, because they resonate with people.

Along the way we’ve learned to keep going despite the bumps in the road, and to celebrate the wins. We encourage each other to see the good that HAS happened instead of the good that hasn’t. We see progress not in large numbers or great statistics, but in one life story at a time – one right heart at a time.

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20141109-DSC_9603-Edit2In life and in our endeavor of blogging, success never comes easy. In any circumstance, part of success depends on deciding to celebrate the wins instead of focusing on the losses. Any story can seem unsalvageable – but the decision to see purpose in it and the desire to use every part of our lives to glorify our great God makes all the difference. So we are thankful for the difficulties…the crashed computers, the time constraints, the Facebook glitches, the writer’s block, the insecurities, and all of the other struggles that come with writing. Those difficulties have taught us more about ourselves and about the God we serve.

We are so thankful to have reached this three month milestone. We have seen the hand and grace of God in each step of our blogging journey, and because of that we continue with smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts. We are encouraged by YOU – our readers – because of the successes and insights that you’ve shared with us.  It is because of those wins that we are even more determined never to give up.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]To God Be The Glory, Colette & Melissa[/custom_headline]

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/7974659789_debca388a4_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Time is running out to enter our June giveaway![/custom_headline]

Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of June and be entered to win a basket full of gifts from Kate Foster! On mobile scroll to the end of any post to subscribe…On a desktop, subscribe on the right sidebar or in the footer below. OR just click HERE and we’ll do the work for you!

If you’ve already subscribed, enter by tagging a friend under any post on our Facebook wall and encourage them to subscribe – the more the merrier!

giftbasketkateKate’s gift basket includes a Foster Happiness designed coffee mug, gift tags and a framed Bible verse. There is also 1 set of Jamberry nail wraps, manicure set, a Zambian wall hanging, and coffee and candle donated from Cafe Macchiato in Spencerport, NY!

Sign up today!

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4 things to remember while waiting

Colette @ awriteheart.comI waited patiently in a long line and was relieved to finally be next to pay my bill. Then I watched as a man walked in front of me, bypassed the entire line and stepped up to the counter.  Didn’t he see the rest of us waiting? Didn’t the cashier see the rest of us waiting?  The lady behind me mumbled a complaint and rolled her eyes.  I was surprised at how annoyed I felt but decided to  give him the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe he didn’t notice us or maybe he was in a big hurry.  I took a deep breath and waited….some more.

I wonder if everyone dislikes waiting as much as I do.  Research tells us that an average of 62 minutes a day is spent waiting.  Waiting for appointments, in lines, in traffic,  for tests, for results, for phone calls, on hold, for vacation,  for wedding days and babies to be born.  That estimate may be true for the tangible waiting.  But what about waiting for grief and depression to leave or hearts to heal?  I suspect that much more than an hour each day is spent waiting for these types of things to lift.

So many people in the Bible waited.  Moses waited for promised miracles, Hannah waited to be pregnant, The Israelites waited for deliverance.  Job waited for his trial to end, Jehoshaphat waited for victory.  Leah waited to be loved, Michal waited for David.  Paul waited in prison, Joseph waited to be reunited with his father.  And Anna waited for the Messiah to be born.

I believe that the most agonizing wait in all of history started in Matthew 27:46 when Jesus was nailed to the cross and He said the words “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”.  The sin of mankind was placed upon him and caused him to lose sight of his Father and of truth.  Sin does that… It blinds.  I can’t imagine what his followers thought when they heard those words.  They waited for him to show himself strong, to reveal himself as King.   But instead, at that moment he let out his final breath.  His spirit was gone.  Gone.  Even though they had been warned, I bet this wasn’t what they expected to hear him say. They continued to wait.  Mary Magdalene waited at the tomb and after three long days an angel finally appeared to tell her that “Jesus is risen”. (Matthew 28:17)

The waiting had to be horrendous. Waiting usually is. So often it feels like abandonment or betrayal.  Or like being forsaken. There is such fear in those words… abandonment, betrayal, forsaken.  Although the feelings are real,  truth doesn’t lie in feelings. In order to endure waiting, in the really hard places of life,  we must remember the following things:

God is El Emet: The God of truth

Going through a difficult time of waiting I was sick at heart and very discouraged. A friend said to me, “God doesn’t always deliver us”.  No sooner had those words left  her mouth,  I looked up at the television to see a beautiful scene; water flowing among nature and calm music playing.  The words written in bold letters on the screen were “And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer” (2 Samuel 22:2) Smiling, I chose to replace my friends words with those of the most high God.   During times of discouragment our tendency is to look at feelings and circumstances.  But Gods promises trump everything; promises like loving us with an everlasting love, or that He will never leave us nor forsake us… or the other thousands of promises He gives in Scripture.  Yes, He always delivers, in His way and in His time, because He is the God of truth!

God is El Hanne’eman: The Faithful God

I asked God during a trial “I have served you and trusted you to watch over my loved ones. Doesn’t my faithfulness and trust towards you count?” Before I could take a breath, the phone rang and the answering machine picked up. I heard an older ladies voice, and recognized her as a casual acquaintance from church.  She said ” I felt led to call you. I just want to encourage you to keep serving God the way that you do. It doesn’t go unnoticed. I just wanted to tell you that.”  The trials in my life have very little to do with my expectations of God.  But it has everything to do with my faith in him. With just a few words from someone I barely knew who was obeying the leading of the Holy Spirit, at just the perfect time, I was given strength to endure and to continue on.   God promises to strengthen us during seasons of waiting- Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. (Psalm 27:14)   He is The faithful God!

God is El De’ot: The God of Knowledge, the One who knows

I was jogging steadily on my usual running  path. This particular morning I was heavy hearted. An overwhelming trial had come upon me.  I asked God “how could anything good come from this? How could you ever be glorified in this ugly situation?”  That’s when I saw it. A beautiful flower in the midst of ashes. Real ashes. Acres of marsh had recently burned down. The entire city of Rochester had watched the awful televised fire, afraid that it would reach houses and people. It took firemen a couple of days to contain the fire. In the middle of the black ashes, after just a few days, a beautiful flower was growing.   It took me by such surprise.  I stopped my run and snapped a picture of it as a reminder, a living reminder.  That God knows…he knows my heart and cares.   That day he showed me, at such perfect timing, in answer to my questions that He promises to bring beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3).  He knows our thoughts before we even speak them.  Oh yes, He is the God who knows!

God is El Roy: The God who sees

My husband was driving me to the doctor to find out my test results. Melanoma had  been found three weeks earlier. The waiting to see if it had spread was awful. The what-ifs and the what-nows were working to destroy my peace.  Matt pulled over to the side of the road. I was irritated because I wanted to get this day over with. I wanted to be done waiting.  Didn’t Matt realize that?  I certainly didn’t want to be waiting on the side of the road for him to do who knows what.  I didn’t voice my opinions but instead I watched. He was getting something out of the grass and fumbling awkwardly.  I saw him rescue and gently cradle a bird with a broken wing. A sparrow of all things!  And the song burst  in my head “His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me”.  Oh my, what a living picture that was being created for me of Matthew 10:29-31. I was comforted in an instant and knew that no matter what the outcome,  He sees and He knows. God knew exactly what I needed.  Yes, He is the God who sees!

We are promised that all things work together for good to those who love God. So often we must wait for the good to be fulfilled.  In the midst of  waiting….in the daily things and in the the bigger stuff…. may we never forget that He is faithful, He knows, He sees, and He is  truth.  He is our El Hannora, The Awesome God of ours!

Psalm 27:14  Wait on the LORD: be strong and of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]While I’m Waiting, Colette[/custom_headline]

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/6465169545_619c9099d5_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Enter to Win Our June Giveaway![/custom_headline]

Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of June and be entered to win a basket full of gifts! On mobile scroll to the end of any post to subscribe…On a desktop, subscribe on the right sidebar or in the footer below. OR just use the “Contact Us” tab in the main menu and we’ll do the work for you!

If you’ve already subscribed, enter by tagging a friend under any post on our Facebook wall @ https://www.facebook.com/awriteheart and encourage them to subscribe!

giftbasketkateThis gift basket includes a “Foster Happiness” designed coffee mug, gift tags and a framed Bible verse. There is also 1 set of Jamberry nail wraps, manicure set, a Zambian wall hanging, and coffee and candle donated from Cafe Macchiato in Spencerport, NY!

Sign up today!

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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]

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/6465169545_619c9099d5_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Enter to Win Our June Giveaway![/custom_headline]

Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of June and be entered to win a basket full of gifts! On mobile scroll to the end of any post to subscribe…On a desktop, subscribe on the right sidebar or in the footer below. OR just use the “Contact Us” tab in the main menu and we’ll do the work for you!

If you’ve already subscribed, enter by tagging a friend under any post on our Facebook wall @ https://www.facebook.com/awriteheart and encourage them to subscribe!

giftbasketkateThis gift basket includes a “Foster Happiness” designed coffee mug, gift tags and a framed Bible verse. There is also 1 set of Jamberry nail wraps, manicure set, a Zambian wall hanging, and coffee and candle donated from Cafe Macchiato in Spencerport, NY!

Sign up today!

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what the prodigal’s father did right

Colette @ awriteheart.comI got on my knees in front of her.  I had never in my life seen such grief.  I prayed outloud what she could not.  She couldn’t form the words because her heart was broken.  I entered in to another woman’s sorrow that day and we prayed in unison of heart for her son.

The Bible says (3 John 1:4) that there is no greater joy than to hear that your children walk in truth.  Which means, there is no greater heartache when they do not.  I have cried, prayed and counseled with many Christian parents whose older children have become prodigals; who wastefully or extravagantly live in sin.  Heartbroken and confused parents who begged God for years to keep their precious children from sin; parents who dedicated their little ones to God and His service.  In Luke 15:11-32 we see where the father of the prodigal son did many things right and parents can learn so much from him.

He didn’t withhold anything from his son.

Luke 15:12 He didn’t say things like “if you live like this you are out of the will!” Instead, he treated him as his child whether or not his son was in sin or whether he was living right. When his son decided to leave, his father did not demand that he return the inherited money.  The father gave him his inheritance, he gave him his time, and he gave him his love.

He didn’t disown him.

He never said “if you choose to live like this you are not my son!” Instead, the door to his home and to relationship stayed open.

He welcomed him with open arms.

Luke 15:20 He never said “You are only welcome back when you clean yourself up”. Instead, he welcomed him before he knew that his son was out of sin and home to stay. He saw him from afar and he rejoiced that his son was coming home.  The Bible says that when he saw his son coming home, he ran to him!  This shows such love on this fathers part. He was just happy to be with his son and that his son was home.  The Bible says that the father rejoiced and killed the fatted calf and had a party for his sons return “because he hath received him safe and sound”.  I can almost feel his relief through the pages of the story.

He waited.

He didn’t plan and figure out how and when he was going to preach truth to his son. Instead, he waited for God to work in his sons’ life. Many parents want to instruct their wayward children at every turn and remind them of all that they are doing wrong. This wise man was still and waited for God to work in his sons’ life. It says in Scripture that the Prodigal Son came to himself, came to his senses, when he was eating with the pigs. Not when his father was preaching to him about his sin. This wise father let God do a work in his sons’ heart. And God did it in the pigpen among the dirt and the slop.

He didn’t let his emotions rule his actions.

He didn’t yell at his son when he chose to leave and live in sin.  He didn’t chase after him and remind him over and over of his sin. Instead, he controlled his emotions and his actions. I believe this is one of the hardest things to do.  Good parents strive to keep their young ones from sin.  It is heartbreaking to watch a child, the one that you love, go down a destructive path. But I see where this wise father did not allow his sons actions to rule his emotions. He didn’t go after his son with strong emotion.  In fact, he didn’t go after him at all.   It is evident that he felt strong emotion by the way that he rejoiced when his son came home. But, he used his emotions for rejoicing instead of negative, out of control, or manipulative behavior.

He rested in the fact that he had trained him in the ways of the Lord.

He didn’t keep instructing, instead he rested in the fact that he had already done that. When a child is wayward the only thing he may accept from a parent at this time is unconditional love. He won’t hear reprimands, warnings, Bible verses or instruction. Those things are all good but a backslidden son or daughter is not open to them when they have chosen sin. Love covers a multitude of sins and unconditional love must cover a child who is in sin.

I spoke with a young man who had been raised in church, who had accepted Christ as his Savior, he knew the Bible stories and was raised by Godly parents.  Even so, he became a prodigal.  After living for a long season in sin he came back to the Lord.  He told me that he was at a Lady Gaga concert, of all places, when the Holy Spirit began to work in his heart.  Lady Gaga said something about there not being a God.  That statement stuck in his heart.  He kept thinking “who is she to say that?  Am I going to take her word for whether there is a God or not???”  Eventually those thoughts turned to “There is a God and what in the world am I doing?”  Just like the prodigal son, he came to the end of himself.  He is now a changed man living his life for Jehovah God.  But in the pig trough is where God got ahold of this young man’s heart.

Many times God allows a prodigal to go down their destrictive path so that God becomes real to him.  So that God becomes their God and not just the God of thier parents.  God creates a testimony in all of his children.  In the story of the prodigal son, this son had so much blessing and didn’t realize what he had until he had nothing but God.

Don’t give up in despair, parents!  God loves your child even more than you do.  His children, Adam and Eve, had everything they ever needed.  God had given them perfection and they ended up choosing sin. God the Father loved them unconditionally!  He also loves your child unconditionally.  Keep praying and believing!  I know that as long as there is breath, there is hope. Prayer achieves the miraculous…I have seen it over and over again!

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]You never let go, Colette[/custom_headline]
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Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of June and be entered to win a basket full of gifts from our guest blogger, Kate! On mobile scroll to the end of any post to subscribe…On a desktop, subscribe on the right sidebar or in the footer below. OR just use the “Contact Us” tab in the main menu and we’ll do the work for you!

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giftbasketkateKate’s gift basket includes Foster Happiness designed coffee mug, gift tags and a framed Bible verse. There is also 1 set of Jamberry nail wraps, manicure set, a Zambian wall hanging, and coffee and candle donated from Cafe Macchiato in Spencerport, NY!

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