How do you trust God in an earthquake?

How do you trust God in an earthquake?
For the 15th post in our trust series, I'm honored to have Katherine share her story of trusting God while fighting cancer. Her trust and faith in God makes my eyes misty and my heart soar. The trust series will probably end with one or two more posts. My Muir Woods hike is scheduled to appear at Tweetspeak Poetry on 11/14/14. *********** You hold my every moment, you calm my raging seas… There are times in our lives that are pivotal. Times when it feels like we’re in the middle of an earthquake, but the shaking is happening inside of us, at the very core of who we are. It leaves us feeling unsteady, unwilling to walk the road in front of us on such wobbly legs. Those are the times we sit. We sit with the God of the universe and we talk, cry, question and listen. We sit when we want to run. When the pieces of our lives are scattered around us, tossed about by the shaking, we sit. And when we whisper that we don’t know what to do, and we don’t know how we are going to do it… He says “Trust me.”   It was one of those times I will never forget. There was nondescript music playing over an intercom and the air in the diner was thick with the aroma of coffee and bacon. I was sitting across from my husband, one hand on a coffee mug, the other holding his. Often, life doesn’t play out in rosy scenes full of beautiful props and pretty backdrops. Sometimes it looks like processing the news from an oncologist over a late breakfast in a worn, red vinyl booth. I tried focusing on the cars just outside the window to avoid dissolving into a complete puddle, but it didn’t work. You walk with me through Fire, you heal all my disease… “I don’t understand this,” I said, “but there are things I know, things that breast cancer can’t change.” I met my husband’s gaze. “God is faithful. He has always been faithful to us. He cannot be otherwise, it’s who He is. He promised He will not walk away and I believe He always keeps His promises.” We were focusing on each other now, trying to put into words all that we were thinking and feeling. Leaning back against the bench he said, “God is good. Always.” “If He heals me, if I have to go through treatments and surgery, or if I die because of this,” I whispered. “He will still be good.” And then we were both in a puddle but the answer was, and will always be, yes. Yes, He is always good, always doing the very best for us. Nothing changes that. Nothing changes Love. He is always good, Always strong, Always present. And there it was, His whisper, in the midst of a roaring wind, “Trust me” And I trust in you, Lord I trust in you… ("Healer" by Hillsong). And sometimes, it’s in the looking back. It’s the thread of God’s faithfulness, goodness and strength in all of our days, years and generations that allows us to hold on and trust Him. Faith offers us a hand, and we stand. Love covers all of our “what if’s” and we take footsteps in Trust. We trusted the God of the universe… with my life. Not just once, but every day, every step. And even now, after Chemo, surgery and radiation, there are times when winds of fear howl loud. They threaten to tear us from His arms of overwhelming un-ending love and leave us standing on our own, trusting in our own strength. But the voice that speaks in the ravaging winds is bigger than fear, cancer, or death. We disarm the fear with this: God is Good, He is Strong, He is always Present Today and every day, no matter what the seasons bring can walk in His Grace and trust Him with it all. (Dear friends, will you please join me in praying for Katharine's complete healing and for continued peace for her and her family as they walk through this storm.) Thank you, Katharine, for sharing your story although your heart still feels raw. Soul Stops Moment: What struck you about Katharine's story?  Katharine makes her home in Ontario, Canada where she shares life and laughter with her husband and four children. She is on a journey with the God of the universe, discovering who she was created to be, and what it means to walk living loved, in everyday grace. Always listening for His heart and never without a cup of good coffee in a great mug! You can visit her blog Katharine Barrett - Just a Thought - here.   I'm linking with these encouraging friends: Holley Gerth, Jennifer Dukes Lee,and Lyli Dunbar of Thought-Provoking Thursdays.

When we join our story to God's Story

When we join our story to God's Story
This is the 14th post in our trust series. I say "our" because your comments influence the shape of the series. Thank you. "When we join our story to God's, the story in which our good and beautiful God gets the last word... Photo used with permission of: Mike Behnken The pain is still real, but it becomes bearable. We can then, in time, begin to move on. And we can begin to see beyond the suffering and look toward the widespread mercy that surrounds us." - James Smith, The Good and Beautiful God, 7. WARNING ALERT: This is a graphic story and it may trigger painful memories and responses in some. Bonita and Roy Thompson trusted God led them to work in Bangkok's red light districts about eight years ago. Last night, our family listened as retired teacher, Bonita shared about their ministry: The Home of New Beginnings; they work with a Thai woman to rescue women from the sex trade in Thailand. Most of the girls are sex workers because they're expected to be their family of origin's breadwinner. A photo shows a young women provocatively dressed in a girl's school uniform with a necktie holding a circle with #122 imprinted on it. I ache for the young woman. My stomach feels queasy knowing a man will select her by # like an item in a store. Bonita told of the deep cultural, religious and familial beliefs that keep these girls enslaved. She also shared stories of hope. Photo used with permission of Flickr User: Pittaya Sroilong When God is involved, hope always exists - even in the darkest places. Bonita and Roy trust God to provide the funds they need to provide a safe shelter and educational opportunities for these traumatized women. They trust God loves these women and wants them to love these women. Bonita thanked our church for being part of their Christmas outreach to the women so they can get a night off. To do this, The Home of New Beginnings must pay the women's bar fees for the night. For one night, these women are showered with God's nonperformance-based love. They are served food, entertained with skits by the residents of The Home of New Beginnings, given the Gospel, a goody bag and a New Testament if they want one. Such grace. These women know they have a refuge if they decide to leave the sex trade. She showed us photos of the girls after they live at The Home of New Beginnings. They wear real school uniforms. They can get an education if they desire. They teach the girls computer skills and help the girls to process (for the first time) the trauma they've experienced. Bonita said 60% of the women were sexually abused as young girls. One reason the girls suffer silently is because they believe they deserve to suffer bad karma because they were bad in a previous incarnation. So the girls believe their only hope is to make it through this life and hope for better karma the next time around. One woman's story of hope Photo used with permission of Flickr User: Hult International In another photo, two smiling young women wear black graduation gowns and caps; each carry a bouquet of flowers. One of the women met Bonita but she didn't want to leave because she made more money than what The Home of New Beginnings ("The Home") could give her to send home to her family each month. To help the girls leave the sex trade, The Home gives the girls money to send home. To me, it's like paying a ransom for their freedom. The girls create and sew items to help raise money. But donations fund most of The Home's expenses. Years earlier, one of the two women (who graduated) appeared at The Home badly injured. She had visited a regular customer at his hotel room, but he wasn't alone. Instead five other men were also there. Afterwards, she decided to leave the sex trade and came to The Home. Several years later, she graduated from Bible college. Another young woman recently graduated with a degree in chemical engineering. Her transformation was aided by the prayers and donations of people she will probably never meet. Every little bit makes a difference. Your little given to a big God can make a big difference.(Click to Tweet) Photo used with permission of: Thirdblade Photography I'm excited we can partner with Bonita and Roy in introducing God's Bigger and Better Love Story to these girls. God may not have called us to serve at The Home, but we can play a role. When we pray and give to The Home of New Beginnings, we become part of introducing these girls to God's redemptive Story. Trusting God involves action and giving of ourselves and our resources as God leads. We trust we cannot out give God. Every year, Bonita and The Home must trust God to provide the money to rescue as many girls as possible for their Christmas party. It's part of a long term investment to rescue and restore these girls. If you'd like to participate in The Home of New Beginnings, click here. Here is a CNN article on The Home of New Beginnings. Every little bit makes a difference. Your little given to a big God can make a big difference.(Click to Tweet) If you can, mail donations to: International Foundation Beginnings Acct. # 125.004 P. O. Box 23813 Washington, D.C. 20026-23813 Please pray (from Bonita): -for our girls in residence -for victims of trafficking to be freed -for the perpetrators to be caught and prosecuted -for the bar and massage owners in Thailand -for the demand to cease. c. Educate yourself about the issues of trafficking and the sex trade. d. Build awareness in intentional conversation with others. e. Consider an internship or team visit to Bangkok or Beginnings. Soul Stops Moment: Would you consider trusting God by giving in prayer and/or money to The Home? Together we can make a difference in a woman's life today. Would you please share this post on social media to get the word out about raising money for the girls' Christmas party? Thank you. I'm trusting and praying God will get this post to those who will have a heart to pray and give.     Linking with Jen of Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood and Kelli of Unforced Rhythms

Six Things I learned in October

Six Things I learned in October
For today, we're taking a break from our trust series, and I'm sharing what I learned in October. Hint: #3 is my favorite.   1. Sometimes you can see early hints of an artist's leanings. Our family enjoyed the 1985 movie Young Sherlock Holmes produced by Steven Spielberg. We noticed Indiana Jones type action scenes. The movie imagines what happens when a young Sherlock Holmes meets a young Mr. Watson and they try to solve a murder.   Photo used with permission of Flickr CC User: Jay del Corro. 2. What's Up with Movie Ratings? If you ever wondered why a PG-13 movie rating over 25 years ago(*) seems much less violent and sexually explicit than the same rating today, this article explains why. It's a classic study of desensitization. The study also highlights how influential a parent's viewing habits are on their child(ren). (*) If you've wondered, you're probably, like me, over 40. My husband and I determine whether we will watch movies on a case by case basis. 3. God answered my prayer for laughter in an unexpected way. (I hope this isn't TMI - too much information.) As I wash dinner dishes, I say, "I need to make banana bread," when I see overripe bananas on a plate. My husband replies, in his best husky voice, "I love your banana bread" while also playfully squeezing my _______ [what happens in our kitchen stays there] as he passes by. I burst into laughter at the incongruity between his words and his action. Surprised, he turns and laughs, too. Laughter is the best contagion. Lest I mislead anyone, our kitchen is not always this, shall we say, fruitful. 4. The Bible describes finding joy in some unusual places. Our women's small group did a word study on joy ["chara" in Greek] in the New Testament and it challenged me. For example, joy as a motivator to overcome extreme pain: "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:2 ESV Photo used with permission of Flickr CC User: BWChicago. 5. Do you prefer C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce or The Screwtape Letters? For my birthday, my husband took me to see C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce on stage. Afterwards, I read most of The Great Divorce (which I plan to finish), which isn't as accessible as C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters. I also preferred the stage production of The Screwtape Letters, which we saw a few years ago. 6. Friends want to know you better. (Okay, I already knew this truth but Nicky reminded me.) Online friend Nicky Cahill surprised me by asking me 20 questions then featured them with my answers on her blog. I felt touched she even asked. Here's an encouraging post Nicky recently wrote on how she found freedom from overeating. Soul Stops Moment: Have you read any books or seen any movies you'd recommend? What new things have you been learning? It can be anything. What made you laugh recently? I always read and appreciate your comments. Thank you. I'm linking with these encouraging friends: Holley Gerth, Jennifer Dukes Lee,and Lyli Dunbar of Thought-Provoking Thursdays. Linking with Emily's What We Learned in October link-up here.   

An Interview with Michelle DeRusha About 50 Women (& Giveaway)

An Interview with Michelle DeRusha About 50 Women (& Giveaway)
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On Miss Manners, Grace & a Birthday Bouquet

On Miss Manners, Grace & a Birthday Bouquet
We're doing something different today for the 12th post in our trust series. I say "our" because I learn from your comments. Thank you. ******A few trees show off their colorful coats of orange and yellow as I drive to a friend’s house. After I drop her daughter off after school, she surprises me with a bouquet of flowers: several red roses, a pale green hydrangea, purple freesia and sunset-tinged flowers. She says, “Happy Birthday,” I blush and reply, “Thank you.” We hug. Miss Manners would frown at what happened next.     Photo used with permission of Flickr CC User:Sh4rp_i Before I can stop, the words seep out: “Oh, but I didn’t get you anything for your birthday.” She graciously replies, “But you remembered my birthday and that’s enough.” We hug again and I drive home with my daughter and a beautiful bouquet. Every time I gaze at the flowers on my kitchen table, I wonder about grace, the theme for this year's Jumping Tandem Retreat. To read the rest of this post, please visit Jumping Tandem Retreat's blog; the post will go live at 8 a.m. CST Tuesday, October 21, 2014. Hope to see you there...Thank you :)Linking with Laura of Playdates with God and Kelli of Unforced RhythmsI'm linking with these encouraging friends: Holley Gerth, Jennifer Dukes Lee,and Lyli Dunbar of Thought-Provoking Thursdays.