Monthly Marriage Miracle: Beth’s Story

One of my passions is to help couples find healing in their marriages, (since I found healing in mine) even when their minds tell them, “It’s impossible.” Once again, I’m posting a marriage miracle story. This story is true, but the names have been changed. I pray that during this Corona Virus “stay at home” time that your marriage will become stronger than ever. And if your marriage is already thriving, please pass this story along to a couple you know that is struggling. Remember that our God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV.)

Here is Beth’s story: The Power of Forgiveness

My husband, Greg, and I met at the age of thirteen, dated off and on in high school, and married in May of 1978, one month shy of my turning nineteen.  We were young, too young, and crazy in love.

He was in the Air Force and stationed at Eglin AFB in the Florida Panhandle. Our marriage and this move took me away from my parents and family for the first time. I was the oldest of 4 kids and was the 2nd self-appointed “mother” in my family. I knew I would be very homesick, and I was.

During the second year of our marriage, the Air Force sent my husband to South Korea on an unaccompanied tour (meaning that I could not go). So, I returned home for the year that he was away, got a great job at a bank, and had our first little home built.

He returned to the States to a new home, but to his old job in management at a grocery chain.  This was, I believe, somewhat disappointing but somehow familiarly comforting. So, there we were, right back where we started, and living in our little house, both working all of the time, and not sure what the future held or what we wanted. After four years, we decided that it was time for a bigger home and we wanted to move to a different area of town, so we found a lot and had another home built.  This, we thought, was where we would start our family. A lot of our friends were starting to have kids, and by this time we had been married about six years.          Well, the having kids part didn’t come easy for us, and in fact we struggled with infertility issues and all of the stress that goes along with that.  At the same time, my husband was becoming more and more disgruntled with the grocery business and needing a change.  At the same time, I had just completed schooling to become a medical transcriptionist, and was recruited by a local hospital, as I was at the top of my class.  So, while I was looking forward to a new career and exciting new things, it was the opposite for my husband.  Looking back, I can see this was a nearly lethal combination as far as our marriage was concerned.  I’m not sure if this was the first time he strayed, but it was the first time I figured it out and confronted him.  It was absolutely devastating to me, and I nearly fell apart.  We separated for a few weeks, talked, tried to re-group, and eventually decided that if we were to make a fresh start we should sell everything, leave our jobs and move up north where my sister and husband lived.  It was a plan, and that is exactly what we did.

At this time, we were not going to church, in a relationship with the Lord, or seeking help from anyone to get us through.  We just knew that we were determined to stay together and work things out.

I can tell you that the next seven years were a series of ups and downs, joy and disappointment.  My husband was determined to stand by me and was remorseful for what he had done.  However, I could not forgive easily and I definitely could not forget.  I tried, I prayed, and I wanted to erase it from my memory.  I now believe that my unforgiveness caused me more pain than the infidelity itself.  I also believe that we should have sought counseling together following such a traumatic event, but we didn’t.  Years later, I went by myself, thinking there must be something wrong with me.

We will tell anyone that marriage is a work in progress, but when we take the holy vows of marriage, God wants us to stay together if at all possible…and that’s what we had…the possible.

We did finally get pregnant, though it took 10 years, both of us having surgery, etc.  We had our daughter when we had been married 16 years.  She was and is a miracle and, as we like to believe, evidence that we did the right thing by working at our marriage.

We got ourselves to church and in relationship with the Lord.  We started to give Him the attention he deserved and living a life made easier by knowing Him.

We still are working on our marriage, and there will never be a time that we won’t be working at it.  Living life with someone is not easy, especially when they make horrible choices.  I still pray every day for peace and understanding regarding those choices.  I’m not perfect, and I’ve made bad choices, too. We are all flawed in some way.

Our advice for a lasting marriage is simply this – be willing to give more than you get, love more than you are loved, and forgive more than you are forgiven. The willingness is the secret!”



Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Corona Virus Crisis: Winning Over Invisible Enemies

During a recent TV news report, someone referred to the Corona Virus as “an invisible enemy.” Right after this man uttered those words, I thought of other invisible enemies that people battle during this worldwide crisis: fear, discouragement, depression and more.

At times lately as I watch the TV for too long, I start to allow these invisible enemies to interfere with my faith in the Lord— often without realizing they’re creeping in. Thoughts of many “what ifs” try to sneak into my thought life. If I let them stay, the final outcome of each one ends in a catastrophe.

I find myself turning to Facebook where I’m blessed by encouraging words from brothers and sisters in the Lord. Some of the themes have been: there are still things to be thankful for during this crisis, although so much about our world has changed, nothing about God has, and God will bring good out of this bad and already has as people reach out to help and encourage others.

I’ve been so blessed by Christian singers whose concerts have been cancelled or who just want to bless others who have done live concerts on Facebook from their living rooms. As I sang along, I felt so connected to the body of Christ and to all the people in the world and truly had a sense of “we’re all in this together.”

Today I’m thinking of a song which has meant a lot to me lately. It’s called “Waymaker” by Leeland. The first time I heard the song, the words that caught me beside the chorus were “Even when I don’t see it You’re working. Even when I don’t feel it You’re working. You never stop. You never stop working.”

In this crisis, I can be tempted to think, God’s not working to end all of this. When that thought tried to invade recently, another one came: He may not seem to be changing what’s going on with this disease right away, but He’s working to change us, to encourage us, to draw us near to Him. He’s also working in those who because of this crisis may choose Christ as their Savior.  

As I reflected on other times of crisis in my life, I realized He didn’t always end the negative circum-stances when I wanted Him to or break through loved one’s hardened hearts in the huge ways I longed for Him to do, but He worked on my heart to give me a proper perspective and strength to make it through.

As I think of invisible enemies that try to defeat me during crisis times, something else that’s invisible comes to mind: the faithfulness of God.

No matter what trial, trauma, or tribulation I look back on, I see God’s faithfulness—at times even in the midst of my lack of faith.

During this time of uncertainty, I’m determined to keep my eyes open for God’s faithfulness, even in the midst. He’s been faithful in the past, and since He doesn’t change He’ll be faithful again. I sense His faithfulness right now, which is not about preventing all of this or ending it this moment, but about His providing to help us through it.

Now that I’m spending much more time at home, I can spend more time alone with the Lord. I can seek Him to refresh and restore me and bring me to a place of rest.

As I seek Him, He keeps the promise He made in Psalm 34:4: I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” (NIV)

I remember during other personal crises, I thought This is the worst time of my life. But if I’m honest I also could say, “That was the best time of my life.” Why? Because I felt closer to God than ever before. As I drew close to Him, He drew close to me. (See James 4:8) He reminded me who He was and whose I was and assured me of His love, despite my broken heart and the sense that I had no control over all that was happening around me. He’s doing that again.

I’m seeing that I can allow invisible enemies besides the Corona Virus to take over, or I can choose to allow God’s invisible faithfulness now and over the years to remind that what’s going on doesn’t surprise Him, scare Him or stump Him. Once again He’s calling on me and all of us to trust Him. When He allows all that we tend to trust in besides Him to be removed, we’re faced with this question, Do I really trust God?

I declare right at this moment my answer is, “Yes, Lord, yes.” I think of Job who said in the midst of His horrendous crisis, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15 KJV).

Today I’m determined to keep track of all the good God is bringing out of this bad—both in the physical world and in my own heart and in the hearts of those around me.

A verse that God gave me in the midst of self-pity during a crisis in the past comes to mind, “I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me” Psalm 13:6 NIV.

Singing praises certainly helps to slay those invisible enemies!

“Way Maker” by Leeland

Here’s another song someone pointed me to in recent days:

“Through It All” by Andre Crouch




Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Monthly Marriage Miracle Story

God has healed my marriage, and I love to tell people about His miracle-working power. I also like to hear from others about how God worked a miracle in their marriages. Here is another story of a marriage miracle. The story is true, but the names have been changed. May you too believe God for your marriage miracle.

The Compassionate Wife


Beverly embraced the virtue of “a compassionate wife.” This year she and her husband, Jason, mark 40some years of marriage, quite an accomplishment considering their many hurdles. Jason entered the marriage with a negative self-image and after dealing with the sense that both of his parents rejected him. Poverty governed his younger years, leading to shame when people came to his home.  Emotional issues lingered. Over his married life, he stuffed his anger and turned inward. At times he voiced suicidal thoughts.

“Codependence made me think I was responsible to rescue him—to pull him back from the edge of the cliff,” said Beverly.

Over time, she learned simply to say compassionately to herself, “He has a problem,” It reminded her she didn’t cause nor could she cure his issues.

She frequently encouraged her husband to seek help from a counselor, but he refused, so she went alone to one who told her, “Get outside of your marriage house and look inside through the window and get perspective.” This helped her accept her husband, and her expectation of change ceased. She came to view acceptance, which is part of compassion, as a gift from God.

“I learned to see my marriage and even my marriage problems as a gift,” she says. She saw that “whatever he had been through was what brought him to the place he was in our marriage.”

Beverly, an adoptee herself, dealt with abandonment issues, which enabled her to empathize with her husband’s abandonment in childhood. Her attitude toward Jason became: “There but for the grace of God, go I.” When issues came up in their marriage, she kept in mind both their backgrounds of rejection. She discovered unconditional love as her husband’s biggest need from her

Out of compassion, Beverly prays for her husband. “I picture Jesus, my Shepherd, in the green pasture of the 23rd Psalm. I take my husband by the hand. I walk out to the meadow, the green pasture, and I place my husband’s hand in Jesus’ hand knowing that He is sovereign. He loves me, and He loves Jason more than I do. He has a plan, a hope, and a future for each of us. As I walk away, thanking God for how He is working in my life and in my husband’s life, I experience a feeling of peace.”

The sudden death of a friend at age 48 increased Beverly’s compassion for her husband.

“This could be my last day. I want my last words to Jason to be loving words. I want to give him a loving embrace. I want to finish well,” she relates.

Beverly sees signs of healing within Jason as he plays with his first grandchild. She observes him experiencing deep joy. She learned the joy of compassion sufficient to place unconditional love above being loved.

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I Won’t Give Up On My Miracle Repost

My last post was about a marriage miracle. Today I’m reposting a blog from February 2018 that’s also about a miracle—one that hadn’t arrived yet back then.

At the time I battled hopelessness in the situation. Since then God has worked in miraculous ways. No, the circumstance hasn’t completely changed, but matters are getting better, and God is growing my faith and drawing me closer to Himself as I wait for the completion of this miracle.

I pray if you’re waiting for a miracle that you won’t give up on believing God for it. What I know is this: although God may not always give us the miracle we pray for, He is a miracle-working God and delights to work mightily in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones. Often He challenges me not to just seek a certain miracle but to notice all the other miracles connected to the situation.

Today I choose to pray, “Lord, thank You that You are working a miracle in her and in me,” and “Thank You for all the miracles You have worked in my life and in the lives of those I love over the years.” I’m even going to take the time to write some of them in my journal.

Don’t give up on your miracle!


I love when God speaks to me through songs.

Recently I battled hopelessness in regard to the waywardness of a loved one. This seemed true: the more I say and the more I pray, the worse things get. The situation seemed impossible. I felt heartbroken. I knew God was able, and it seemed in the past He intervened. Now the circumstance slid back to worse than ever in many ways.

After work one day I got in the car, and a song I never heard before came on the radio by one of my favorite Christian groups, Unspoken.

The theme of the song spoke to my weary soul loud and clear: “Don’t give up on a miracle.”

I realized I loomed close to that point.

Yet here was God speaking to me through these singers promising me a miracle. I thought I heard Him whisper, “The miracle is coming. Just wait.”

Maybe my first miracle won’t be what I desire: for this loved to draw close to Him right now and let go of the poor choices she’s making. Perhaps the miracle will be in my heart in regard to her, i.e., that I  let go and no longer allow her ungodly life to get in the way of God’s calling on my life—to love her with God’s love no matter how much she hurts and rejects me and to spend more time writing and speaking the truth—not just to her but to those who have a hunger to receive it. Or my miracle could be that I will be released from weariness and worry in regard to the situation and draw closer and closer to God as she backs further and further away.

I decided to view what’s happened so far as God bringing this person to the end of her rope, so she has nowhere to turn but to Him. I want her to turn to Him, but I accept it may not happen–at least not any time soon. But I refuse to allow this to rob me of joy.

Lately I battle guilt over my wrong choices in dealing with this wayward soul. I failed to set boundaries, and I failed to speak the truth in love but at times just allowed this person to mistreat me. And so many other wrongs on my part come to mind.

The thought just came to me that as I deal with this situation and my heartbreak, it’s like going through grief. I battle with the stages described by those who study the grief process: denial, anger, guilt, bargaining, depression…The final stage is acceptance. I’m moving closer to it, and that in itself is a miracle.

This I know for sure: I’m not going through this alone. God remains with me to offer comfort, counsel, courage until the miracle in this loved one’s life comes.

I will not give up on prayer, on drawing close to Him, or on remaining daily in His Word. I look forward to God speaking to me more through His Word, directly to my heart and through songs in the days ahead. Some days in the past He gave me a new song which touched my soul. Here’s the chorus of one God gave me a number of years ago during other difficult circumstances. I played it on my guitar today and sang it to myself, to God, and against the devil.

My life changes,

But nothing changes

When it comes to You.

You’re always there

To hear my prayer.

You are faithful and true.

Nothing ever changes

When it comes to You.

I remember years ago my Bible study teacher asked, “What’s the prerequisite for a miracle?”

Then she gave the answer: “an impossible situation.”

I love that our God delights to do what others and my mind say is impossible.

Today I reflect on the many miracles God brought to me over the years, which reminded me this situation is not too difficult for Him. Matthew 19:26 proclaims that truth: “With God all things are possible.”

I refuse to give up on this wandering soul or on the miracle I pray for her.

Lord, I thank You in advance for the miracle that’s on the way.

“Miracle” by Unspoken


Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Why Doesn’t My Husband Love Me Anymore?

It’s Hearts Set Free Marriage Miracle Monday.

“I run in the paths of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” (Psalm 119:32 NIV 1984)

Hello friends of Hearts Set Free. One of my passions is to help wives move toward hearts set free, so they can continue to love their husbands through hard times. God miraculously healed our marriage, so I know He has power to heal. I believe His healing power is for anyone willing to receive it. Your spouse may not be willing, but if you are the first to believe for God’s healing power to heal your heart, amazing things can happen. Once a month I will have a Marriage Miracle Monday story to share. These stories are true. I have changed the names to protect privacy. Maybe you’re not going through a hard time in your marriage, but you know someone else who is. Please pass the stories along to bring help and hope to those who feel there is no hope. For every marriage that’s healed, God receives glory.

Why Doesn’t My Husband Love Me Anymore?

Karen wrote about a difficult time nine years into her 30-year marriage when she wondered, Why doesn’t Peter love me anymore?

“I glanced over my menu at Peter, seated on the opposite side of the booth. His dark-blonde hair still waved over his forehead. His blue eyes, always twinkling with humor while we were dating, now looked empty. What’s happening to us?

“Peter’s three years as associate pastor in a large city church had changed him. Physically he had altered little from the slender, handsome man I had married nine years before. The church members looked up to him in more ways than one—often teasing him about his six-foot-plus height—but in my eyes he had shrunk somehow.”

When Karen helped a friend who was divorcing to find an apartment, these thoughts went through her head: How can I possibly afford to live alone? What would the church people think if I left Peter? How has our relationship deteriorated to the point that I’d even consider divorce? At this crossroad, many women do leave their marriages—even Christian women like Karen.

One evening Karen zeroed in on the problem in their relationship: “Can’t you just stay home with me tonight?”

“You know I have to be at every church meeting. Ron is always there, and he expects me to be there too.”

“Maybe Ron’s wife is used to it. Besides, she’s home all day. I work from eight to five, and at night you’re in meetings! I’m sick of your being gone all the time. We never see each other. You give yourself to everyone else and have nothing left for me!”

Another evening, at an in-home Bible study Peter led, upset about the need to fake a smile all the time, Karen drove home instead of going inside, leaving her husband to find his own ride home. Back at home she relates: “I took a long, hot bath, hoping to soak away my pain and confusion about our marriage. Peter has abandoned me too, but what right do I have to complain? He has abandoned me to do God’s work.”

Rather than walk out on the marriage, Karen urged Peter to attend counseling with her, where she discovered serious issues lingered from his childhood.  For a time they separated; Peter lived elsewhere while he worked on his issues. After reuniting, Karen recalled their tenth anniversary: “Peter and I drove to a special restaurant to celebrate our tenth anniversary and our renewed love for each other. ‘Let’s open our gifts in the car,’ he suggested. ‘Yours first.’

“I unwrapped a tiny jeweler’s box to find a gold necklace with two intertwining gold hearts. ‘Our hearts, our love,’ Peter said. ‘We’re going to make it, aren’t we?’

He pulled me close to him. “I love you so much.”

Karen’s renewed love for her husband came through courage, patience, and compassion. She won that serious, “I don’t love him anymore” battle and continued to love and encourage her husband through their 30-year marriage. She and her husband faced more hardships as their marriage continued, but through depending on the Lord, Karen loved her husband for better or worse until his death parted them.

“Love Is Not A Fight” by Warren Barfield

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What Story Am I Telling? Repost

Not long ago I spent many hours with someone who devoted quite a bit of time to speaking negatively about his life and giving in to and proclaiming his self-pity. After first, I was judgmental and even thought, Where is your faith in God?

Then I remembered that I do that too. How easily I can give in to negativity when hard times come, and on some days I allow myself to wallow in self-pity like a drunk who pours drink after drink.

I praise God that He’s brought me a long way when it comes to overcoming this tendency toward negative thinking and speaking out my negativity to those around me.

Today I’m reposting a blog that I first posted on October 6, 2015, which deals with this subject. Reading it again and listening to the songs encouraged me today and reminded me of God’s faithfulness and His desire for me to proclaim it out loud to others.

What Story Am I Telling? Repost

Lately corrections have come from a friend and from the Lord about what words come out of my mouth.

One day when I was speaking of negative things going on in family members’ lives, a friend encouraged me to stop the negative talk, ie verbalizing my fears and worries. Instead she urged me to speak out words connected to God’s faithfulness and my faith in Him.

Instead of saying, “I’m afraid my loved one is being drawn further and further from the Lord,” she urged me to say “I’m believing she will embrace her destiny—that God will make sure that happens.”

Not long ago in prayer time, the Lord encouraged me to focus and talk about prayers that have been answered and express out loud thanks for those rather than speaking of prayers which have not yet been answered and getting trapped in moaning and mourning out loud about those.

Two songs I’ve heard in recent weeks seem firmly connected to letting go of these negative words that slip out of my mouth.

Both songs have to do with telling our stories.

As a writer, I often send out words that speak of God’s faithfulness and my confidence in Him. I’ve had numerous articles published on that theme. These are what I have called “my stories to bring Him glory.”

Yet when I’m in conversation, I too often get caught up in the opposite–telling “sad stories.” These are tales of the bad things that are happening and my grief over the fact that it seems God isn’t doing anything.

It took these two recent reprimands to realize that these “stories I tell” in normal conversation cast doubt on the faithfulness of God. They can lead people away from the Lord rather than toward Him. They hurt my own intimacy with the Lord. At times my tales of woe are fueled by comparing, self-pity, and doubt. I’m praying and believing that God will continue to deliver me from slipping into these destructive mindsets.

My new goal is to tell my story—the story of God’s faithfulness–not just in written form but daily in my interactions with everyday people who cross my path.

Yes, bad things have happened. Yes, traumas, trials, and tragedies have sometimes taken my breath away. But the truth is that through it all God has been faithful. He may not have intervened in ways I demanded or as quickly as I have desired, but He has intervened with His love, His peace, His hope, His strength, and His joy in the midst of sorrow.

He has answered so many prayers immeasurably more than all I have asked or imagined. (See Ephesians 3:20 NIV)

The Word of God warns me not to be naïve about the devices and schemes of the enemy. (See 2 Corinthians 2:11)

I’m realizing that getting me to focus on the negative is Satan’s plan. When he gets me to do that, he has succeeded.

The Word also says that he comes to steal, kill, and destroy. (See John 10:10) He desires to steal my joy, kill my passion for the Lord, and destroy my confidence in a loving, caring God. For moments at a time in my life, he is successful at this. With others he succeeds for years or even decades.

The good news is that God is merciful. He does not hold my
negative words against me but urges me on to a better

He celebrates when I speak openly of His trustworthiness.

I’m looking forward to a new day tomorrow where I can tell the story of my life—the story of God’s faithfulness.

Lord God, please help me to tell the true and uplifting story of Your never-ending love for me and for each one of us.

Here are the links to the two songs about the stories of our lives.

“My Story” by Big Daddy Weave


“Storyteller” by Morgan Harper Nichols (with Jamie Grace)


Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Reflecting on the Year 2010 Repost

Today I’m reposting a blog I wrote nine years ago—my first pre-New Year’s blog. So much of it still applies to my life today—especially what’s on my thank you list. Here’s what I wrote at the end of the blog with the years changed.

What about you? Have you reflected on 2019 and thanked God for all the goodness He has shown you? I guarantee you that doing so will lift your spirits more than a new year’s toast with a glass of champagne. Here’s to God–for all He is, for all He has done in 2019 and all He will do in 2020.

What a privilege to look back and see how God blessed me back then and how He continues to bless me, despite ongoing challenges and at times even heartbreaks. Today I’m celebrating His love for me and His faithfulness throughout 2019.

I’ve added a song this time. I’m so thankful for how God has used songs over the years and in 2019 to encourage me. I’ll call this song “My top encouragement song of 2019.” It’s “Haven’t Seen It Yet” by Danny Gokey.

Reflecting on the Year 2010 Repost

Each New Year’s Day and for many days after, I reflect on the year that has just passed. My reflections center on giving thanks to God for all He brought me to and through and for how good He has been to me.

These verses come to mind as I think back:

I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:6 NIV

Give thanks to the LORD for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 16:34

I will remember the deeds of the LORD…Psalm 77:11

I write or type these reflections on a thank you list that I keep in my journal or on my computer.

Here is the start of my thank yous for  2010:

I thank You, Lord:

–for Steve, Tami, Mindy, and Destiny and for how we have stayed close in 2010.

–that Steve and I made it to 35 years of marriage, and we still love one another deeply.

–for continued healing in our marriage.

–for the family conflicts You have brought us through.

–that we are enjoying an empty nest for the first time in 30 years.

–for good health for me and my family.

–for the progress I’ve made in songwriting.

–for my trip to the Inner Circle songwriting conference at Babbie Mason’s home outside Atlanta.

–for my writing retreat trip to Carolyn’s place in North Carolina.

–for my trip to the Chicago area to visit family and connect with relatives I had not seen in awhile at the family picnic.

–for Your financial provisions and blessings in 2011….

I will continue to work on my list and will include: people I’ve met who have blessed me, God’s provision on my job, opportunities God has given me to be used by Him, and specific ways friends and family members have blessed me.  Thanking God for spiritual progress in my soul is another part of my thank-you list as well as whatever else comes to mind.

If I find myself thinking about bad things that happened, I thank God for them and for the good that came out of those circumstances.

And when I have those days when I feel I’m not as blessed as I think I should be, I will read my list over again and remind myself how good God has been to me.

What about you? Have you reflected on 2010 and thanked God for all the goodness He has shown you? I guarantee you that doing so will lift your spirits more than a new year’s toast with a glass of champagne. Here’s to God–for all He is, for all He has done in 2010 and all He will do in 2011.

“Haven’t Seen It Yet” by Danny Gokey



Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Repost of That’s Why He Came

Today I’m reposting a blog titled, “That’s Why He Came,” which I wrote in 2011 and which I have posted during other Christmas seasons. During this Christmas time I and others who face hardships need the reminder: “That’s why He came.” What comfort I receive as I remember He is with me through every trouble and trial.

Lately I’ve been mourning the death of a young rapper who died of an apparent accidental overdose at the age of 21 on December 8th. Jarad Anthony Higgins known professionally as Juice Wrld was born in the same town as me, Chicago, and he was a fellow writer, who— like me—tried to be transparent in what he wrote. He boldly spoke and rapped about his troubles.

I confess I’ve judged rappers in the past, and I couldn’t get past the profanity or the “n” words, but this time—even before he died—I listened—really listened—to his music, and I saw someone struggling not only with drug addiction but with mental health issues. I cared about him because someone I love dearly also cared about him and was captivated by him and wanted to see him in concert. As I listened to him before and since his death, I saw a young man with a compassion for others—even in the midst of deep struggles of his own. He was in the trap of drug addiction from which he wanted to escape, but couldn’t.

Since I’ve been trapped by the “remedies” this world offers, I understand somewhat what Jarad went through. My compassion for him rises up, and I feel sad that he died so young. My prayer is that his struggle will help other young people and even older people escape the trap of drugs. I pray they will turn to the Lord for deliverance, which Jarad may have done a number of times in his life. To his family, his friends, his fans, I pray for comfort and peace during this Christmas season. Jarad was raised by a godly mom, and I know she has a broken heart, but will turn to the Lord to have it healed. May his life and his struggles not be in vain. May many be drawn to the Lord and away from drugs because of his early departure from this earth.

As I think of Jarad and his battle with drugs, I think, “That’s why He came.”

God bless everyone reading this blog with joy and peace this Christmas season and in the new year.

That’s Why He Came

I confess on some past Christmases I have given in to sadness. Celebrating has seemed difficult.

There are two reasons for this. One has been because I have been facing difficult times during the Christmas season. Life wasn’t going according to my plan. People sinned against me in ways I never thought I’d have to deal with.

The other reason I’ve been melancholy at Christmas is because of the suffering of others.

It breaks my heart to see what people go through. I feel this way especially about family members, friends, fellow Christians, and those I minister to in the world of the mentally ill. Some days I ache over what happens to strangers I read about in the newspaper or hear about on the news.

But this year I feel joyful—perhaps more so than I have in quite awhile.

I haven’t been embracing the negative thoughts in my head about all that’s wrong at Christmas time. Instead I’ve heard God whisper four words about Jesus each time I think of something bad that’s happening in my world or in the world of those I love and care about.

He has been saying of Jesus, “That’s why He came.”

Someone died during this holiday season. That’s why He came—to take the sting of death away.

A precious one is riddled with sickness. That’s why He came—to heal all of our diseases.

People are going through loss, hardship, emotional pain. That’s why He came—to heal broken hearts, to bind up wounds, to set prisoners free.

When I think of this phrase “That’s why He came,” an old Christmas song comes to mind.

The carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is based on an 1864 poem “Christmas Bells” written by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The last two stanzas go like this:

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.

I’m also thinking of the familiar Bible verse that so many of us first heard early in our Christian walks: John 3:16.

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Love, giving, eternal life.

That’s why He came.

What about you? Are you or a loved one going through a difficult time this Christmas season? Are you able to embrace the truth: “That’s why He came?” Will you make the decision to celebrate His coming even so and even though? Isn’t it amazing? Jesus is Emmanuel—God with us.  Thank You, Jesus.

“I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day” by Casting Crowns



Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Giving Thanks Repost

Thanksgiving Day has passed, but I’ve been impressed in recent years that giving thanks and expressing gratitude is to be an everyday pursuit. I confess too often I complain about circumstances in my life rather than looking for reasons to give thanks. Once I start focusing on gratitude, I find so many things to be thankful for. Today, as I read again a blog I posted in November of 2010, I’m reminded that giving thanks is something which lifts up the Lord and pleases Him. I pray God will continue to help me grow in having a grateful heart.

Here is that blog from nine years ago, with a song added.

Giving Thanks

Recently as I was studying the Psalms, I ran across a verse I hadn’t noticed before. It said,

“I will praise the name of God with a song and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30 AMP 

When I read the words “magnify Him with thanksgiving,” I thought of how I instead tend to magnify my problems with complaining. At those moments, my problems seem huge, and God seems smaller than He actually is.

Here the Word was telling me how I could magnify the Lord. It wasn’t with doing lots of jobs for God, but through having a grateful heart and speaking out my gratitude–to Him and about Him.  

After studying surrounding verses in this psalm, I realized gratitude can have a huge impact on my relationship with the Lord and in helping to draw others to Him. It’s simple to sincerely express gratitude when everything is going well, but the person writing this psalm said in verse 29:

“I am poor, sorrowful, and in pain…”

Something wonderful happens when I give thanks to God despite the poverty in my soul that I feel, and despite the pain and sorrow I’m facing. Not only does gratitude do a work to transform me, but people around me who notice my difficult circumstances almost study to see how I will face them.  When I have a grateful rather than a complaining or bitter heart, I notice they marvel at that–especially those who don’t know the Lord.

I asked God after reading this “thanksgiving” verse why it was so hard for me to have a grateful heart. One reason that came to mind is perfectionism. I’ve come a long way in the battle against it, but wanting things perfect can keep me from thanking God and other people. I focus on what’s wrong rather than on all that’s right. Often this comes out on holidays because I want things to be just so.

Today as our family celebrated Thanksgiving together, there were things that didn’t come out right in the dinner we ate, but I was able to let it go and enjoy our time together. There were also many things in my family and extended family that could cause my heart to ache all day if I dwelled on them. I could see how far I’ve come in not “going there” and in not trying to make people and situations perfect through my schemes and efforts, thinking this would finally bring me to the point of gratitude.

I can be grateful no matter what’s happening in my oh so imperfect life, because I have a perfect God who loves me perfectly and wants only the best for me. Somehow all that is imperfect in my life is working toward perfecting my relationship with Him.

And so right now I choose to be grateful to God–for all He’s done for me and in me. I thank God for blessing me with a marriage of 35 years and for two beautiful daughters and a lovely granddaughter. I thank God for providing for my financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs for all these years.  I thank God for using me as a writer to reach hearts and lives with His truth. I thank God for all the good He’s brought out of bad in my life.

There is one thing I know about expressing gratitude. It is found in in the next verse in Psalm 69:

“…it will please the Lord…”verse 31

Even though I have a ways to go in learning the art of a grateful heart, pleasing Him is my heart’s desire. How wonderful it is that we serve a God who can be pleased with us. There’s yet another something to be grateful for.

What about you? Are difficult circumstances or perfectionism getting in the way of expressing gratitude? Thank God anyway and see what a difference it makes.

“Give Thanks” by Don Moen


Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Repost of Praising My Way Through Grief

Lately, I’ve been going through a time of grieving. This grieving does not have to do with the death of a loved one, but the seeming death of dreams I’ve had for loved ones. Some days I feel the more I pray, the more situations happen that add to my grief.

Yet in the midst of grief and my temptation to wallow in self-pity, I’m reminded that praising God is mandatory if I want victory.

Today I’m reposting a blog with a song added that I posted on April 29, 2012—two months after my youngest brother committed suicide. God helped me through that time of grief, and He will help me now. Staying in praise seems to be a key to receiving that help.

I pray that this will be the course of my heart: I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1 KJV


Praising My Way Through Grief

Praising God when things are going well seems the right thing to do.

But when my world seems to be shattered, praising God can feel unnatural.

And so it is.

This is why God rejoices when I do it, and my life is transformed in the process.

There’s no doubt that the Word instructs me to keep on praising the Lord—no matter what my circumstances are like.

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1 KJV

What a challenge this has been in my Christian life. Too often I want to “bless the LORD” with my praise only when all seems right with my world.

When it feels to my near-sighted soul that He has withdrawn His blessings from me–such as when tragedy or trouble comes–I want to withdraw my praise.

The course in the midst of troubles has too often been: I will praise Him when things get better—when He is blessing me again.

The truth is that God never stops blessing me. Every day and every moment of the day He pours His grace on me. He helps me through my troubles—if I’m willing to receive that help. His love for me does not change—even though my circumstances may.

Praises can cease when I start judging God– accusing Him of bringing calamity to my life for all sorts of unholy reasons. The truth is God remains holy and righteous through every season of my life. His view of me does not change just because I think it does or because my view of Him becomes skewed. He is not punishing me through trials just because my wayward soul determines it is so.

When tragedy struck in my life due to the suicide of my brother, there was a part of me that wanted to stop praising God—especially since this was the second suicide of a sibling I had to face. How can I praise a God who refused to intervene to save this precious life? Or my sister’s life many years ago? But those thoughts were short-lived as I determined to stay in praise no matter what my emotions told me.

As I have stayed in the Word—especially in the psalms—I’ve been reminded that God is deserving of all my praise. Praise the Lord! I’ve recalled all He has brought me through. Praise the Lord! I’ve recollected how at times He has carried me when I’ve felt too weak to go on—both in this tragedy and in the midst of calamities in the past. Praise the Lord!

Not only do I praise God for His faithfulness in days gone by and in my present struggles, but I also praise Him for His promise to be faithful in the future. I feel excited about what He is going to do next to continue to bring good out of this latest heartbreak as He has done with every challenge in my life.

My heart echoes what David said in Psalm 43:5

…for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (NIV)

Here is a song that has comforted me so much over the years:

“Praise You In The Storm” by Casting Crowns




Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment