Tag Archives: Encouragement

THE PURPOSE OF PAIN

ThePurposeOfPainEdit

On a day of volunteering at a ministry that provides food to people in need, I was able to see clearly how God uses pain in our lives. As I stood next to a table that had a variety of delicious foods, I picked up a pie and handed it to a sweet, young mom. Tears came streaming down her face as she saw the abundance of food we were giving her family. The pie seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, or to put it in better words: It was the pie that touched the mother’s heart. She was obviously deeply touched by the generosity of God through this ministry.

Through her tears, she began telling me that her small children had been without enough food to fill their tummies the previous week. While she was sharing her heart, I was overcome with weepy emotionsWith tears rolling down my cheeks, I embraced her tightly. Her story was taking my mind back to the time when I was experiencing a difficult circumstance similar to hers.

As I remembered my pain, I told her, “It will get better with God’s help; I promise.”

Memories flooded my mind as I hugged her. I thought about the years my husband’s home-based business was struggling and he delivered pizza for less than $7.00 an hour while I was home-schooling our children and working part-time. As I listened to her painful story, I remembered the day when our refrigerator was almost empty and my daughter asked me, “Are we going to starve, Mommy?”

Join me over at DaySpring’s (in)courage site to read the rest of the story. I’m super excited to be a guest contributor to one of the best women’s ministry websites online.

JESUS MAKES BEAUTIFUL THINGS

Beauty for Ashes - Isaiah 61

As I shut off my cell phone, I burst into a deep heartfelt cry. I’d just listened to someone spill their heart about a really tragic circumstance. I could feel the pain of another person’s heart entering into mine. It hurt me deeply to watch a loved one go through such an excruciatingly painful thing that seemed more like a nightmare than reality.

After I dried my tears, my mind filled with thoughts and questions. How can this be redeemed? How can anything good come out of this tragedy?

Within moments, the questions left my mind and I felt the warmth of Christ’s love wash over me. In my spirit, I could hear Him whispering, “I can make beauty out of anything.”

As the day went on, I felt God’s presence and peace so intensely, and I remembered the song, Beautiful Things, recorded by Gungor. I rushed to my computer and pulled up the video online. As I listened to the words, I began to weep again. This time it was different though. My tears were not filled with distress like earlier in the day. The tears were an expression of joy as I meditated on the fact that Jesus is the Beauty-maker.

If He could take a broken, messed up life like mine and turn it into a beautiful story of love, He can surely take my loved one’s or anyone’s life and turn the ugliness into something beautiful.

My life is proof that Jesus creates beauty out of messes. He healed my broken, painful marriage and turned my seeds of hatred into mountains of love. He turned my depression into unspeakable joy. He breathed life into my broken spirit and made me new.

Because of the way Christ has redeemed my past, I choose to have child-like faith for every person’s life—not just my own. No matter how big the mountain is in a person’s life, it’s not too big for Jesus. He is the healer of broken hearts and the mender of all things.

With my redeemed life, I’ve made it one of my life’s purposes to spread encouragement everywhere I go and to pray without ceasing for those who haven’t yet seen Christ’s beauty revealed in their lives.

For those experiencing anguish, you can be assured that Christ will replace the ashes of your past with a crown of beauty and give you a joyous blessing instead of despair. The Spirit of God holds a ray of light so intense that it will penetrate the darkest places of your soul and will fill you with an indescribable peace as you trust Christ to make beautiful things out of your pain.

 “To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” — Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)

His Unfailing Love

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I saw something recently that caught my attention and made me think of God’s perfect love toward us. I was driving home from doing errands. As I was making a right turn, I saw a motorcycle and a bicycle turn in front of me. At first, it struck me as really odd because the cyclist was riding so closely behind the motorcycle. But then I could see clearly what they were doing. It was a father and a daughter riding together.

The man looked to be in his forties or fifties. He was riding his motorcycle directly in front of the girl. They were so close together that it looked as though they were touching each other. The girl looked about sixteen. She had on a biker’s shirt similar to what the professionals wear. She was obviously training for a serious race, and her dad was there to help her train. It was like her father was guiding her and protecting her along the way. As I passed by, the dad was turning around to look at his daughter to make sure she was okay.

While driving by them, emotions rose up in my spirit. I saw a picture of how God loves and protects us.

I could hear God’s still, small voice speaking to me in my heart.

He whispered to me so gently. “I love you with an unfailing love like a father loves His child. I go before you to mark the path that is best for you. Stay on the path with Me, and I will keep you in the shadow of My wings.”

I had tears of joy as I drove home thinking about such a beautiful picture of God’s love for us. I realized in that moment of watching the father guiding his daughter on her bike, how we don’t need to move ahead of God, outside of His protective shelter.

Isn’t that amazing to think about? God our Father is continually with us and sheltering us as long as we don’t try to sneak away from His loving guidance. The Bible says God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity (Joel 2:13). As we stay close to God, He will keep us from harm, and make us sing for joy all our days on earth.

I pray that you will experience the immeasurable love of God today. May His peace rest upon you, and may you always know you are His beloved daughter or son. Most of all, I pray you will bow before Him and be satisfied in His unfailing love.

But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.” Psalm 13:5  (NLT)

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 36:7 (NIV)

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14
(NIV)

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8 (NIV)

In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.” Psalm 143:12 (NIV)

From Darkness to Light

from the darkness comes a light

                                   Photo Credit: Christa von Borstel

It was springtime in 1997 when I hit rock bottom and ended up in a deep, dark pit. It should’ve been a happy season for me as I had recently given birth to my second child. But instead of feeling joy, I had a serious case of postpartum depression. I was in a place of desperation. I wanted to die and prayed for my life to be over.

It seemed that everything good in my life had been lost. My marriage was broken, our finances were a complete mess, and I felt hopeless.  My busy life had pulled me away from the intimate relationship I had with God in my youth.  My prayers had become last resort petitions to God instead of daily communion with Him. I was surrounded with darkness.

Deep in my heart, I knew the only answer for me was the power of the resurrected Christ to pull me up out of my desperation and awaken my soul with His healing light. My personal journal revealed the darkness in my soul.

May 22, 1997

God, do You hate me? I feel so helpless. Please show me Your love. Please make a way for me out of this.

In that moment of being at the lowest point of my life, I cried out desperately for help from God. As I prayed, Jesus pulled me out of that pit, He began restoring my life little by little and step by step, and I eventually found the faith in Christ I had always dreamed of having.

Through prayer and the encouragement of a close friend and mentor, God brought me into His light. My friend Bonnie shared her faith with me during that dark season.

With certainty in her voice, Bonnie said, “Amy, I went through a time similar to what you’re going through. God will bring you through it.”

Her words brought hope to me in a way that is indescribable. It was as though her testimony drew me into the light that had brought her through the darkness I was experiencing.

Bonnie suggested that I listen to worship music continually and focus on God constantly. Her encouragement was worth far more than pure gold. She encouraged me in too many ways to count. I can still hear her sweet voice in my mind.

She sweetly said, “Write Scriptures on note cards and place them all over your house as a way to keep focused on the truth of God’s Word.”

Bonnie’s words were a reminder to me of the faith-steps my mother and grandmother had taught me when I was young, but I had allowed my hectic life to distract me from the spiritual disciplines my soul needed. As Bonnie suggested, I wrote out Scriptures on 3 x 5 cards and taped them wherever I thought my eyes would be drawn to. As I prayed and focused on the Scriptures that were strategically placed on my window sill, on my stove, on the bathroom mirror, and on my car dash, I felt hope rising up inside me.

The hopeless feeling I had lasted for a short season. By the time my son was five months old, I was feeling like a new person in many ways and beginning my journey of growing into a passionate praying woman.

Ultimately God is the only true Source that can heal our souls, but the encouragement from Bonnie and from my family pushed me in the right direction. Their encouragement gave me the hope I needed to keep praying and seeking God.

It’s been sixteen years since the darkest season of my life, and today I celebrate how God brought me through the tunnel of darkness and into His illuminating light.

That dark time in my life is what brings me here to begin writing on this new site. I want to do for others what was done for me at a time that I wanted to die. If you’re going through a dark season, I am here to say that it will get better as you pray, press into God, and seek to know His Truth.

I hope my life will stand as a living testimony and that you’ll stop by my site whenever you’re in need of encouragement. I pray that the peace of Christ will permeate your soul and bring you into His marvelous light.

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…” 1 Peter 2:9 (New King James Version)

This post is written in memory of my beloved friend, Bonnie Morrell (1959-2008).