Freedom Friday: The Promise of Suffering

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NLT), emphasis mine

I wrote about the power of the cross this past Freedom Friday. I wanted to talk a bit more about the promise of suffering.

We often think we are doing something wrong when we experience lots of trials, suffering & temptation. I spoke about the reality of lifelong temptation in this post. We’re also promised trials, as we can see in these verses. But why are we also guaranteed to experience suffering?

“For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21 (NLT)

“So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.” 1 Peter 4:19 (NLT)

Peter reminds us that suffering should not be a surprise. There is no promise in Christianity that if we believe in Jesus, life will always be easy and pain-free. Quite the opposite. The promise instead that we receive is that God will carry us through our suffering, if we allow Him to.

If we are to truly know God, we must also truly know suffering.

“For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” Romans 8:16-18 (NLT)

Remember also you have a choice in how you respond to suffering. You could respond with bitter and angry fist-shaking toward heaven, asking how a good God could allow such heartache. God can handle it if you do respond that way. Or we can respond as Jesus responded. “God, if there is any other way, take this cup from me…but not as I will, rather according to Your will.” Or we can allow our suffering to drive us to God.

We will likely never suffer to the point of dying on a cross. In the midst of my trials, I can look at the cross and say to God, “You did that for me? Then, I will cling to You and, as Peter said, trust my life to the One who created me.”

As we continue to reflect on Good Friday and Easter, let us also reflect on the life of Christ. Let us continue to consider the cross and how to live a life that reflects its resurrection power.

I want to close with this passage. Consider Paul’s words, life & example, as he considered all things to be garbage compared to knowing Jesus, even in His sufferings.

“I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.

“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” Philippians 3:6-11

Read the rest of the passage here.

Note to readers: I am currently reading the Life Recovery Bible. The NLT seems to have slight differences there when compared to the NLT at

Freedom Friday: The Power of the Cross

This the pow’r of the cross
Christ became sin for us
Took the blame, bore the wrath
We stand forgiven at the cross

I sang this song the other night at a gathering. Since then, I’ve been asking myself: what is the power of the cross?

Here are a few thoughts as we celebrate and mourn on this Good Friday.

The power of the cross is:

1. Surrender
The power of the cross is Jesus’ perfect picture of surrender.

Here are some excerpts of Matthew 26:38-46, as Jesus wrestles with the path before Him.

38 Then he said to [Peter, James and John], “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
46 “Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

After praying those three times, Jesus gets up to meet His fate. He chooses to trust God, and surrenders to the very reason and purpose God sent Him to earth.

Isaiah 53:10 states “Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.” NIV1984

God’s will to crush Him? To cause Him to suffer?

Yes. Sometimes, suffering is God’s will, and this was true for Jesus. So that we could be reconcile to God and reconnected to our power source.

And Jesus surrendered to that will.

“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8 (NASB)

True surrender requires complete submission to whatever God has for us. We can’t hold certain things too tightly and try & live in a state of surrender to God. He wants it all.

True surrender is yielding oneself completely to God’s power and control. It’s saying, “God, You created me, You have a plan for me, and You alone know what’s best for me. Have Your way in my life.”

Oh to see the dawn of the darkest day
Christ on the road to Calvary
Tried by sinful men, torn and beaten then
Nailed to a cross of wood

It’s a declaration of God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness. The power of the cross thus is Jesus’ example and demonstration of perfect surrender.

2. Forgiveness
The power of the cross is total, finished forgiveness.

Jesus said to His disciples at the Last Supper about the cup he offered to them: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:28 (NIV1984)

Colossians 2:13 (NLT) states, “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.” I’ve always loved the way the NASB puts verse 14: “having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

Our certificate of debt was nailed to the cross! It has been forgiven, once and for all. We have been forgiven, and thus we can forgive.

In the New Testament, the most common word translated as “forgiveness” means, literally, to release, to hurl away, to free yourself.

I’ve heard it said that forgiveness is like releasing someone from prison, only to realize the person in prison was you. Unforgiveness can keep us locked in a cell of resentment, pain and bitterness.

Forgiveness is a complicated topic in some ways. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that we reconcile and continue a relationship with the person who needs to be forgiven; that’s not always a healthy choice. Forgiveness simply means we extend to that person the love of Christ by no longer holding their sins against them in our hearts.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV1984)

Oh to see the pain written on Your face
Bearing the awesome weight of sin
Ev’ry bitter thought, ev’ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow

The power of the cross is undeserved, complete forgiveness.

3. Victory
Finally, the power of the cross is ultimate victory.

Now the daylight flees, now the ground beneath
Quakes as its maker bows His head
Curtain torn in two, dead are raised to life
Finished the vict’ry cry

After the apostle Paul talked about our certificate of debt being nailed to the cross, he said this in verse 15: “In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross” (emphasis mine).

Life can sometimes feel like one defeat after another. We seem to hit obstacle after obstacle, trial after trial. The power of the cross is the reminder that in the end, God always wins.

Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

“The prince of this world now stands condemned.” John 16:11b

Ultimately, the power of the cross is the power to defeat sin and death. It’s a declaration that God wins every time. It’s a symbolic representation of what God is able to accomplish.

The empty cross declares – is anything too big for God?

Oh to see my name written in the wounds
For through Your suff’ring I am free
Death is crushed to death, life is mine to live
Won through Your selfless love

“For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” Colossians 1:13-14 (NLT)

Jesus purchased our freedom. He won our victory. He bought our forgiveness. And He perfected surrender.

Have you embraced the power of the cross?

This the pow’r of the cross
Son of God slain for us
What a love, what a cost
We stand forgiven at the cross

All songs lyrics are quoted from “The Power Of The Cross” by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend, © 2005 Thankyou Music

Note: It may seem strange to have a decorative cross as the image for this post. Personally, I struggle with the images we have created, of what we think the cross may have looked like. Since this cross was made and given to me this week by a dear friend, I decided it was just as appropriate as the images generally used.

Freedom Friday: Feeling Stuck

Sicks kids again today! But here are some short thoughts for you to consider.

I’ve been hearing from a lot of people lately who feel stuck. Stuck in their spiritual lives, stuck in their jobs, stuck in their recovery – just stuck. They feel as if so many things are working against them, and not many things are working for them.

They are asking: what do I do? What can I do? How do I move from this place?

They feel as if their hands are tied.

I read the following verse in my psalm this morning. It actually appears three times in the psalm.

“Turn us again to Yourself, O God. Make Your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.” Psalm 80:3, 7, 19

Sometimes, we overcomplicate things. We forget to pray. We don’t ask for help. We neglect reading God’s Word. We stop trying to hear God’s voice. We don’t utilize the tools we’ve learned are helpful. We lose hope.

As I’ve been praying for these people, God spoke these words to me: they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

How our lives and hearts would be changed if we could begin to grasp the fullness of all that means! He knit us together. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He is the One with the plan and purpose for our lives. He knows us intimately. He alone is able to save us – from our sin, from our struggles, from our bondage in all the forms it takes.

If your hands feel tied today, open your journal and write. Use it as a way to talk to God about what you’re experiencing. Or simply speak to Him out loud. Lay it all out before Him: every circumstance, every doubt, every concern, every emotion, every situation that has you feeling bound & overwhelmed. Ask God to breath life into you once again. Ask Him, as the psalmist did, to turn you to Himself again, shine His face on you. Have a friend pray with you. Read Psalm 139. If it’s familiar to you, read it in a different translation. Read the posts about being a child of God, being His favorite. Trust that He wants to speak to you and pause to listen.

“Turn us again to Yourself, O God. Make Your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.” Psalm 80:3, 7, 19

Freedom Friday, Choosing to Trust, Part 2

Hi, Freedom Friday readers!

We have a lot going on right now. I feel as if I say that a lot in this blog. Well, that’s because it’s true 🙂 But this week, we had several more issues added to the mix. Some of these had been brewing for quite some time, so they weren’t completely unexpected.

My reaction, on the other hand, was something I didn’t expect.

Over the years, I have learned to go with the flow, to not react, to not try & predict, over-plan, over-calculate. I have learned, in many respects, to really actively choose to trust God. Mostly.


When the stuff hit the fan this week, I didn’t choose to trust God. I chose to freak out. Just a little. But freak out nonetheless.

It’s actually quite amusing to be me. I am, generally, fairly confident in who God is, who I am in Christ, and who God created me to be. I write what I’ve experienced and what I know deep within my soul. I don’t write about it if it hasn’t already begun to pulsate in my blood.

There are some exceptions. At times, I write about concepts I am grappling with or aspects of God & myself that I’m struggling with. But most of the time, I simply write what I’ve learned through reading the Bible, living amongst other believers, and through my recovery and ever-increasing walk of freedom.

It becomes amusing when I am stubborn and refuse to take my own advice.

About 6-8 hours into my freak out, I started telling myself I needed to go read my own blog. Did I? Of course not. Because a part of me wanted to keep freaking out rather than tell myself the truth.

Eventually, I snapped myself out of it. As I was running the next morning, the phrase “look up” kept coming to me. And I couldn’t help but preach to myself a mini-sermon based on this blog post about seeing with God’s eyes.

Since then, I’ve been back to my usual self, relying on God when the doubts come, resting in the knowledge of His character, diving deep into Him, and allowing His peace to fill me. Mostly 🙂

Peace, rest, reliance: none of these things are dependent on my circumstances. They are dependent solely on the character of God, who He says He is, and all that He has offered to us as believers.

God either is who He says He is, or He isn’t. It’s that simple. God is either the source of my peace, or my planning and my provision and my best guess are the source of my peace. I did the latter long enough to know where that gets me! The part that is more challenging is to believe all that God is & trust that all He has is available to us.

God did not jump off the throne, my pastor used to say, just because your circumstances have thrown you for a loop. He is still in control. He still has a plan.

I have come a long way in this area. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was writing this article, Opportunities for Joy, about practicing acceptance. Contentment, resting in God, trusting in Him comes a lot easier these days.

I hope that’s encouraging to you, readers. Progress is possible. Change is possible. Freedom from unhelpful & unhealthy patterns can be a reality.

Practice does not make perfect, but it can make progress.

Cling to Jesus. Learn about whom He really is. Show Him your heart. Open your heart to His. Rest in Him. When you find yourself striving, run to Him.

Freedom Friday: Keeping Up the Pursuit

This blog post is coming to you from Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina! What a fantastic time we are having here. Gifted speakers, amazing worship leaders, and good friends.

I’ll be speaking to a group today and teaching a workshop tomorrow. But first, a short Freedom Friday.

As I read Judges yesterday, a short verse jumped out at me:

Gideon and his three hundred men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit, came to the Jordan and crossed it.

Judges is interesting, challenging and at times convicting to read. The book of Joshua had just ended, full of victory and promise. The Israelites had finally come into the promised land! But despite warnings from God & Joshua, the Israelites almost immediately began to follow other gods. Fast forward a few chapters, and that’s why they were in this position with Gideon, described in the above verse, of pursuing their enemies: because they stopped pursuing the One True God.

Why? Why did they leave behind the God who had shown Himself to be faithful over & over? Were the gods in the Promised Land that alluring? Were they pressured by the people they were living among to try out these other gods?

We don’t know exactly. Judges 2:10-11 simply says, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals.”

Are you tired of following God? Weary of doing the right thing? Has following after God at times exhausted you?

God knew that doing the right thing, choosing to act like a free person, clinging to Him would not always be easy. 2 Thessalonians 3:13 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.”

Galatians 6:8-10 says, “Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

The theme of this week’s conference is The Reality of Grace. Generally, about half of the people here at these conferences are first-time attendees. They are truly stepping into their Jordan. I’ve talked to numerous people whose worlds have been rocked by what is being shared here. My world was rocked backed in 2004 at my first same-sex attraction conference when I first truly considered the reality of living in grace. Grace is a breath of fresh air to a weary, striving soul.

Something we hear in these circles quite a bit is that the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality; it’s holiness.

I have to ask, if the pursuit has you weary, what are you pursuing? Are you pursuing freedom from temptation? If so, it’s no wonder you are tired! We will always be tempted in some way. The Bible does not promise freedom from temptation. Even Jesus was tempted, but He did not sin.

Or are you pursuing God and all He has for you?

If it’s the latter, the Bible promised that if we continue to choose God, to dive deep into Him, we will reap a harvest.

It will pay off. It will be worth it.

God is calling you to Himself because the desire of His heart is to see you become the person He created you to be. He wants to be known by us, known for who He truly is.

If you are weary today, pull out your encouragement file. Ask someone to pray for you. Take some time alone with God and reflect on the words of Jesus in John 16, where He says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Ask God to show you His perspective through His eyes.

And remember the words of Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Thank You, God, for inward renewal, renewal that Your Word says is happening, even when we can’t see it. Thank You for loving us enough to reach out when we were running from You. And help us to learn to run to You, to cling to You, to dive deep into You, even when the pursuit has us weary. We love You, Lord. We pray in the mighty, powerful, awesome name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Good Friday: The Original Freedom Friday

It’s Freedom Friday. It also happens to be the day many in the church celebrate Good Friday.

I wrote this on Good Friday of 2009 in my paper journal:

It’s Good Friday & I’m 8 weeks pregnant.

Today is a bittersweet day. This is my 3rd pregnancy. My 1st pregnancy was relatively smooth and resulted in my beautiful son, Bear. We always hoped to have many children. Being that I was 32 at Bear’s birth, we only waited just over a year before trying to have another. After less than a month, we found out on our 6th anniversary that I was pregnant again- with a baby we called Bunny Boo.

At 8 weeks pregnant, Bunny boo was lost by miscarriage.

I was pregnant again 2 months later with Monkey. I felt peace about my 3rd pregnancy, but felt bittersweet relief when I arrived at 8 weeks.

If I hadn’t lost Bunny Boo, we wouldn’t have been celebrating 8 weeks of pregnancy with Monkey this Good Friday.

How appropriate! This weekend, whether you call it Easter, Good Friday, Resurrection Sunday or Pascha, is also bittersweet. On Good Friday, we can celebrate and reflect because we know the end of the story. We can mourn as the disciples mourned as they watched their leader be arrested, led away, flogged, taunted, punished and murdered by crucifixion. We mourn that our sin put Him through all that. Yet we rejoice in knowing that because of God’s love, He made it possible for us to have abundant & eternal life.

Thankfully, my 3rd pregnancy has a happy ending as well. I have a cute little Monkey, 17 months old, running around the yard as we speak 🙂

That doesn’t erase the pain of the bittersweet reality of Monkey’s pregnancy and Bunny Boo’s loss.

We also know the end of the story we are celebrating today. Just like my 3 pregnancies, Easter does not erase the bittersweet reality of Good Friday. So before before we rush on to the Resurrection, let’s sit here for a minute.

As I type this, the 100 Portraits song, “Around my Neck“, plays on my iTunes. An amazing song. I’ll let it speak for itself.

The cross I wear around my neck
What does it mean if it does not mean death.
Please tell me if it doesn’t mean blood,
or nails, or crying or loneliness?

The cross I wear around my neck
What is if for, if it is not for breaking
And if it’s not for pain, or nakedness, or hammering?

The cross I wear around my neck
is being raised above my head
I think this time it’s wearing someone else
I see it drop into the ground and when it falls
I hear the sound, someone crying, “I love you!”

The cross I wear around my neck
What does it mean, if it does not mean love.
Please tell me if it doesn’t sing of hope and healing,
and forgiveness?

The cross I wear around my neck
Who is it for if it is not for me, if it’s not for sin,
and all my searching for the innocence?

The cross I wear around my neck
is being raised above my head
I think this time it’s wearing someone else
I see it drop into the ground and when it falls
I hear the sound, someone crying, “I love you!

The cross I wear around my neck
is being raised above my head
I think this time it¹s wearing someone else
I see it drop into the ground and when it falls
I hear the sound someone screaming, “I love you!”

The cross I wear around my neck
Who is it for, if it is not for us:
the lame, the blind, the ones held captive,
and the fatherless?

What is the message of Good Friday? It’s a message of surrender. Imagine if Jesus had chosen to follow His feelings & desires in the Garden that day. Where would we be? It’s a message of suffering. And it’s a message of hope, abundant life and mercies new every morning.

The message of the cross is the Father God crying out to a broken world, “I love you and I am willing to do whatever it takes to hold you in my arms, love you, heal you. I’m willing to give up everything I have, my Only Son, that you all may have the opportunity to be called my sons & daughters, that You no longer have to live in bondage.”

“Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.” Isaiah 53

We have freedom in Christ because Jesus did not use His own freedom to choose to step outside God’s will. He instead chose to step right into His Jordan for you and for me.

How then should we respond? Take a moment to be silent. What would God have you do in response?

I challenge you today to respond with that same level of surrender. My prayer is that you, and I, will make the same declaration of trust, that we will take the next step toward living in the fullness of abundant freedom that is available to all believers.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Amen.

Freedom Friday: "I Have No Man": Looking for Help in All the Wrong Places

The Pool by Palma Giovane

Last week, I heard someone quoting John 5 on the radio and it was opened up to me in a whole new way.

Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.]

A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?”

The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

The above quote is from the NASB; you can read the whole chapter here.

I’ve heard this passage discussed quite a bit in recovery circles. In fact, it’s the basis of Steve Arterburn’s challenging book “Healing is a Choice“.

And what has always stuck out to me was the man’s response. I always viewed him as sort of making excuses in his reply to Jesus. After all, he didn’t answer Jesus as to whether or not he wanted to get well; rather, he pointed out the reasons why he couldn’t get well.

But on this occasion, I was most struck by the fact that the help he needed was right in front of his face, but he was unwilling or unable to see and accept it.

Do we sometimes ask the wrong people for help? Are the people who are available to best support us right in front of our faces, and yet we don’t reach out?

A few months back, I was feeling a bit lonely and undersupported. I was lamenting this fact to Roy: all my friends are busy, have kids, have jobs, live far away, boo-hoo, no one loves me 🙁 He reminded me of my pregnancy with Bear, that I had a list of women who I emailed on a regular basis with updates. What was stopping me from doing that again?

What was stopping me was that I hadn’t thought of it!

I have 3 women I am accountable to, so as Roy suggested, I started emailing them regularly with an update to ask for prayer. Two of them live far, far away (as my 3.5 year-old son would say), and one of them lives about an hour away, so while I don’t see them often, I know I have their support in prayer.

One of my default settings is to feel abandoned and rejected. I think that’s part of why it’s a challenge for me to reach out. But I can’t complain about having inadequate support if I never actually asked anyone to support me. So I’ve also started asking others for support & help, even if they are likely busy and will say no. I can make an active choice not to allow past rejection & abandonment keep me from having deep, connected, supportive relationships.

Maybe the man at the pool had a similar default setting as I do (I’ll be talking about “default settings” thoroughly in a future Freedom Friday, but just imagine it’s the place and space you find yourself falling back to). It wouldn’t be surprising, given that he’d been sick with something for 38 years, and no one was helping him get into the pool (likely the only way he thought he’d ever be healed). There was nothing wrong with his plan (to have someone lift him into the pool), but he was so fixated on that plan that he didn’t see the help that was available right in front of him.

Where have you been looking for help? All the right places, or all the wrong places? Have you been so fixated on a particular plan that you are sure would work that you can’t see that the help you need is readily available to you?

Freedom Fridays: Choosing to Trust

Trusting God is a hard thing. Understatement of the year, but this is something that has been really hitting home lately as I ponder the future of my children. Surrendering my children to God’s care does not mean things will turn out the way I hope, or even that they will live to reach adulthood. I don’t mean to sound so somber. Or maybe it sounds pessimistic or gloomy.

But it’s reality. I had a miscarriage. I trusted God with that child. The child died.

I’m not saying God killed my child. Hardly. Miscarriages happen for many reasons. If we get hyper-focused on the “why”, we miss the point 🙂

God LOVES you. Just like you wouldn’t wish for bad things to happen to one of your children, neither would the God who does not give us stones when we ask for bread. He has beautiful, awesome, amazing and wonderful things for you and for me. Really. Let that soak in.

The point is that trusting God is a choice.

It’s not a choice to trust that things will work out a certain way; it’s a choice to trust in His character. It’s a choice to believe that He works out all things for the good of those who love Him – and that means trusting that He’s not trying to teach you a lesson in a punitive “I’m wagging my finger at you, little girl” way because you need to learn a lesson.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

I want to share an excerpt from an article I wrote:

And most importantly, I wrestled with God. A lot. In all honesty, I suppose, it was more like I wrestled and He waited patiently for me to realize that He is who He says He is and He will do what He has said He will do.


There were times when I was so angry and bitter at God because He could have made my life — past and present — easier if He wanted to, but He didn’t. He wasn’t working according to my timing, and that wasn’t easy for me.

I’m reminded of something from John 6. Jesus had just given the disciples a particularly difficult command. Rather than trusting in God’s goodness and overall trustworthiness and taking into account their limited understanding, quite a few of the disciples decided it was too tough a command and stopped following Christ. When Jesus turned to the Twelve to ask if they would leave too, Peter responded, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God.”

That’s how I feel. In the midst of all the questions and doubts, I already knew that I had tasted and seen that the Lord is indeed good, and that I had no other choice but to take refuge in Him (Psalm 34:8), to take my questions and hurts, rest in the shadow of His wing, and trust that He’s always been faithful. And that this time will be no exception.

As I’ve been contemplating the issue of trust and what it should look like, I can’t help but think of the following passage where children interact with Jesus:

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16 (emphasis mine)

I’m sure there are a lot of things we could pull from this as we seek to understand the passage, but I can’t help but relate it to the trust of a child.

As most of you know if you’ve spent 60 seconds reading my blog, I have 2 children 🙂 I never had to teach them to trust me. They trusted me from birth. Of course as imperfect parents, there are things we can do to break that trust, but at least initially, my children inherently trusted me, and thankfully they still do. They run to me (or their father) when they need food, when they have a question (in fact, all day long, I hear, “Excuse me! I’m telling you a question!”), they come to us when they are excited, and we are the first people they run to when they were hurt.

Why don’t we do that with God? If we are to come to Him as little children, why don’t we trust Him like little children?

Trust is a choice. Again, it’s a choice to take God at His word. It’s a choice to believe that He is who He says He is even when life would try to convince us otherwise.

I’ve been actively choosing to trust God for several years now. Almost every time I pray, I end with, “God, I choose to trust You.” It’s almost another way of saying, “God, if Your will is different than my will & my desires, I will still love & follow You.”

If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.
2 Timothy 2:13

Believers are God’s children. We have been adopted into His family. And when we choose to trust God, it’s a picture of how Jesus responded to the little children: He takes us into His arms, places His hands on us and blesses us.

Trust is a choice.

When I think about trust, I can’t help but think of the song He’s Always Been Faithful by Sara Groves, a song that still brings me to tears almost every time, despite 8+ years of knowing it. I chose the picture for this entry based on the first 2 lines. The lyrics stand for themselves. I’ll end this post with them.

Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine
Season by season I watch him amazed
In awe of the mystery of his perfect ways

All I have need of his hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me

I can’t remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can’t remember one single regret
In serving God only and trusting his hand

This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long
God has been faithful, he will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end

Freedom Fridays: Embrace Grace, Part 1

We know the bottom line: that God is the freedom giver. But how exactly do we find freedom, and how/who does it come from?

The answer is grace.

It is for freedom that Christ set us free, right? How did He set us free?

Through salvation by grace alone.

From the Gospel according to John, chapter 1:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:24

All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 8:9

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

2 Corinthians 12:9

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

Galatians 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

We need to understand what Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished, in order to learn to walk in freedom. Jesus’ death on the cross took care of all our sins – those we committed before we were saved AND those we committed since then.

This really was one of the keys in helping me to overcome my struggle with habitual sin. I used to try to achieve obedience, freedom and mastery over my sin by my own strength. I would pray and ask for God’s help, of course; but then when I’d fall, I’d beat myself up for a good amount of time because of my fall. This behavior fit right in line with how I treated myself before I became a Christian, especially as it pertained to my eating disorder. If I ate too much (in my opinion) or didn’t exercise enough, or if I woke up one day and my weight was too high, I’d belittle myself and make resolutions about how to change
whatever it was that I didn’t like.

Galatians 3 says “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”

This way of thinking made me pretty legalistic. I made all sorts of rules for myself (and others) in an attempt to measure my faith as well as theirs. If I had boiled down my thinking, my core belief seemed to be that it was easier to follow rules than to try to live in the reality of grace.

It reminds me of Paul’s warning to the Colossians:

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Let me tell you from experience that rules alone will get your nowhere fast.

I just read this today: “Self-striving nurtures self-hatred.” Yes and Amen.

I cannot, cannot do this myself. I never could. That’s precisely why Jesus died on the cross.

More in Part 2, which may or may not be next week. I’m going out of town and will have to see if I have time to post!

Keeping Feelings in Their Proper Place

On Saturday, I started thinking about Tuesday. That’s today, December 14, the day on which in 2002, I married my husband. The day on which in 2008, I found out I was pregnant with Bunny Boo, the baby who was born much too early and straight into God’s arms.

I don’t know why God allowed those two dates to be the same. It’s one of many times in my life that a date has significance for multiple reasons. Another example is the day Bunny Boo passed away: 4 weeks after we learned of his existence. It was on the same date my father’s parents, my grandparents, passed away, except my pebble baby died 1 year after my grandmother died and 40 years after my grandfather (my grandparents died on the same date, 39 years apart). And then my baby JJ, who wouldn’t have been born had Bunny Boo survived, is now 1. He was born on the same date that my aunt, the sister of my grandmother, passed away, just 1 year later.

I can’t say why God allows dates to line up like that. In this case, maybe He didn’t want me to forget. But on Saturday, I started feeling quite sad and very sorry for myself.

Then I decided to take some of my own advice. I decided to allow my feelings to be indicators rather than dictators.

I could allow myself to feel my feelings without choosing to wallow and drown in them.

It is absolutely OK for me to be sad that I lost a child. Absolutely. But often we start to feel bad and then we analyze and rationalize all the reasons we are feeling bad. We stare deeply into our feelings, gazing into each cell and picking apart every nook and cranny. We choose to dive straight into self-pity rather than allowing God into those moments: not only to give us insight but to allow them to be redeemed.

Deeply feeling our emotions is part of the healing process. But it’s not the end. Sometimes we have to stay in that place for a little while in order to learn that our feelings are valid, as many of us have been told time and time again not only to ignore and deny our feelings, but also that our feelings, our emotions, our reactions are just too big and too much.

That said, as much as we do want to recognize how we are feeling, we need to remember that our feelings are valid as indicators. If we dwell there too long, we can allow them to transform into dictators.

Today on this beautiful and painful anniversary, I will allow myself to feel my feelings, but I won’t permit them to engulf me. Instead, I can acknowledge that my feelings of grieve can coexist with my feelings of rejoicing in all this day encompasses.