God Our Healer

From a young age, I knew my hands and heart were created to heal. In my twenties I graduated from nursing school, ready to bring comfort by words and deed. While most of my job consists of staving off illness, curating health promotion and prevention, I do encounter students on my caseload who have incurable syndromes and diseases. With these precious small friends, I have no choice but to trust that God has a plan for their welfare and their time on Earth. This means that sometimes healing occurs, and sometimes it does not.

One miraculous story of healing in Scripture is found in the book of Matthew. Matthew 9:20-22 (ESV) speaks of a woman in desperate need of healing from physical bleeding. “And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.’ Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well.”

The Passion Translation shares this verse a little more clearly. Suddenly, a woman came from behind Jesus and touched the tassel of his prayer shawl for healing. She had been suffering from continual bleeding for twelve years, but had faith that Jesus could heal her. For she kept saying to herself, ‘If I could only touch his prayer shawl I would be healed.’ Just then Jesus turned around and looked at her and said, My daughter, be encouraged. Your faith has healed you.’ And instantly she was healed!”

In an instant, Jesus turned and saw this unclean woman. Only, he didn't see her impurities, or scrunch his face up in disgust. In turn, he saw her heart, broken and willing. He knew herPause for a moment and envision this woman’s life. She lived in a time prior to adequate sanitary conditions. Women who were menstruating were physically separated from men for seven days at a time. They were not to go out, touch members of their family, even cook or clean. Women during this monthly ritual were to be quiet, as per purity laws. This woman had been bleeding for 12 years! She suffered not only all the physical ramifications of having a constant period, but the emotional and social implications as well. I’m positive she felt isolated, depressed, frazzled, and fragile.

In her state of desperation, this woman left her home, where, by law, she was required to reside, and sought after Jesus. She had caught wind that he was in the business of healing, and she knew in her heart of hearts that if she could see him, talk to him, touch him — he could save her from her life of distress. Her faith drew her to Jesus, and prompted her to boldly act, touching his robe. An unclean woman, as she was, shouldn’t have been out in public, nor been in the presence of men. An unclean woman most certainly should not have reached for Jesus in the crowd. But on that day, God heard her cry, and her fingers swept across the robe of Jesus.

In an instant, Jesus turned and saw this unclean woman. Only, he didn’t see her impurities, or scrunch his face up in disgust. Instead, he saw her heart, broken and willing. He knew her pain, her cry for help. He picked her out of the crowd, declared her faith, and healed her.

As I grow older, I recognize the need for Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals. Psalm 147:3 states, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” He wants us to come to Him in our brokenness, whether that means physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally. He has no desire to shame us, or turn us away when we are in a state of desperation. Instead, Jehovah Rapha longs to repair the wounds. God is the God of healing, no matter what state we are in.

As Ann Swindell says in Still Waiting, “There is one truth that allows us to be a people of hope, even as we wait for our own wholeness and healing: Jesus has restored us to himself, to others, and to ourselves. And when the King of kings restores us–soul, body, and life–we are given hope, not only for this life, but for all of eternity.” (211)

He wants us to come to him in our ragged state -- to lay down our burdens, to have faith in miracles. He sees us. He knows us.My time as a nurse has taught me to see beauty in the brokenness. There are those who are suffering from physical ailments. Minds that are overwhelmed by anxiety and fear, depression and angst. Hearts that are longing to be known and loved. Working as a nurse has revealed there is a humility in asking for help when life feels uncontrollable.

I am not sure if you are in a current state of desperation — if you are needing healing. If you are not, I’m sure you know a friend or loved one who is. And while I cannot explain why God does not always heal this side of heaven, I am sure of this: He wants us to come to him in our ragged state — to lay down our burdens, to have faith in miracles. He sees us. He knows us. May we be moved in our times of biggest need to seek Jehovah Rapha for restoration and healing.

sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.


Knowing Love

Some 16 years ago, back in high school, I remember one of my good friends speaking about 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. We’d all heard it many times; “love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…” Yes, we knew all that well. They are great verses but it was nothing of news to me; I’d heard it preached many times already. Those specific verses had even just played a big role in one of the hit films “A Walk to Remember.” Except this time, instead of where the film had depicted the verses in relation to love between humans, my friend was relating the verse directly to God and his character. He was explaining that God and love are synonymous. God IS love.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

Kayla Anderson Character of GodThat connection was new to me. I knew God is love. It’s one of the most talked about character traits of God but never had I considered using the words synonymously and in exchange for one another so effortlessly in that manner. And so, my friend read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 to us in this way,

God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. He does not dishonor others, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.

All of the sudden, looking at those verses (and don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying scripture isn’t perfect as it is but this was simply a thought change) made them mean something deeper to me. Since the new revelation I had that day, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 have always been life verses to me – verses to live by, for I know that we were created in the image of God and these verses have no grey area of who God is and what his character is like. Verses that were cut and dry of what I was to model my life after, truth about God and who he was, is, and will always be. Not only that, but they remind me that he is a God that is for me and not against me – which I need to remember in the midst of challenges, both minuscule and mountainous.

About a year ago, I found a wood sign with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 painted on it. I picked it up and brought it home with me. Without much thought, I hung it up on a wall in my home that had the right space for it. It didn’t dawn on me till much later that the wall I chose to hang it on was the most central wall in my house – one that was in the middle and central point of the six lives dwelling in our home. On a wall that supports and holds our home in place soundly. A perfect spot for the encouragement and reminder that God is Love and what we should be modeling our lives after.

Character of God Kayla AndersonReminding me to have patience when my kids have spilled milk for the fifth time that day (because sometimes it’s hard to not cry over the spilled milk). Patience for the baby clinging to my heels.

Reminding me to do as I always tell my kids, which is to “use kind words in a kind voice,” even when it’s asking the same thing of them for the tenth time. Or to be gentle and kind to all those which I encounter, whether in my home as guests or as soon as I step out of it, because I don’t know what mountains or valleys they are walking through in their life.

Reminding me to not be self-seeking and looking after what I want to do – but to serve my family eagerly.

Reminding me to not be easily angered and to keep no record of wrongs when in conversation with my husband. To not dwell on past hurts from my husband, my friends, family or even the mail lady, but to release them and truly keep no score sheet, no tally marks – no record of wrongs.

Reminding me to keep faith in all things because there is always protection, trust, hope and perseverance in him. Because if God IS love, then God never ever fails.

And that’s the kind of God that I can put my faith in.

Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.


God is Faithful

Author: Lila Diller

My testimony always sounded boring to me. I never had a miraculous change or an obviously God-thing happen so that everyone could hear the “Hallelujah” chorus being sung over my head. I simply grew up in church all my life. I heard all about Jesus and His love for me ever since before I can remember.

My pastor always began the invitation the same way every service: “Bow your head and close your eyes. All those who know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are saved, raise your hands.” I peeked every Sunday and saw everybody raise their hands. “Now,” he would continue, “anybody who couldn’t do that, who doesn’t know for sure that you are saved, raise your hand so I can pray for you.” Nobody ever raised their hands that they weren’t sure.

I asked my mom one day while she was sewing, “Why does everyone get to raise their hands every Sunday at church?” She told me I needed to be saved and taught me the sinner’s prayer. I bowed my head and repeated that prayer, raising my hand right then.

I just wanted to be like everyone else in my church. That’s just what everyone in my world did. Salvation and baptism were just what every good little church girl did. And I was determined to be the best little church girl. I followed all the rules, trying to please my parents, Sunday School teachers, pastor, and school teachers. When my pastor baptized me, he asked me some questions about salvation. I don’t remember what they were or how I answered them, but whatever my serious answers were, they prompted the entire congregation to laugh at me.

Character of God Lila DillerThe next year, when I was seven, my little sister started asking questions about heaven and hell one night after church. My mom and dad sat us both down and told us again about the Gospel. I felt that I hadn’t really understood it before and was scared to think I might still go to hell whenever I died. I prayed again, and I believe I truly repented that night. But I had already been baptized in front of everybody, so I didn’t tell anyone.

I remember being excited enough to tell the Gospel to my best friend at school. She was shocked when I used the word “hell.” I was always really active in the church youth group and made it a point to “do” my daily devotions every morning.

But I struggled with doubt all through my school years. I would wonder, “What if I didn’t say the right words? What if I didn’t mean it sincerely? What if I hadn’t understood it enough? What if I couldn’t remember the exact date or the exact words I prayed?” I would pray over and over, “Lord, if I wasn’t really saved before, save me now.” But I was never sure.

When I turned 15, the year of spiritual darkness began. I doubted everything I was ever taught, even down to the existence of any god whatsoever! Through soul-searching and a little bit of research in our tiny little school library, I decided there had to be a higher being that created the universe. It couldn’t have just happened for no reason; there is no effect without a cause.

Lila Diller God is FaithfulThen I wondered if He was just a Force or maybe the God of the Muslims, Mormons, or Jehovah’s Witnesses. But I had many times before felt Him speak to me through His Word, enough to prove to me that He was the God of the Bible. But was the Bible to be interpreted literally or liberally? I was even forced into debating religion at school. It was me against all my other classmates, who were either Mormons or atheists. I had answers for all of their arguments and questions. But I still doubted every once in a while.

I made the decision early on to go to a Christian college. I desperately prayed, asking for guidance in college choice as well as career choice. I never got a definitive answer for the career, but I felt my choices narrowing and narrowing until I chose PCC. The very first week of my Freshman year, they held a revival. I realized all this time, though I knew the doctrines and believed intellectually in all the right beliefs, I had not been trusting in Jesus alone. I had been trusting—or rather, not trusting but doubting—in my prayer and understanding of my salvation prayer. After that, I never doubted again! “He is faithful and just to cleanse us from all our unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Praise the Lord!

KODAK Digital Still CameraLila is an author of Christian Romance novels, blogger, and homeschool mom. She loves sushi and Mexican food, Hallmark movies, anything dark chocolate, the color purple, and reading in her pajamas. Lila, outnumbered by a houseful of males, lives with her supportive husband Chris, two energetic boys, and a hyper dog in Statesville, NC. She loves to help readers create romance in their marriages and in their spiritual walks with Jesus. You can find her at liladiller.com and at www.facebook.com/loveisseries.

Trusting the Sovereignty of God

Author: Karly Grant

Sovereignty. It seems like such a big, daunting word, because it is. To those of us who claim to follow Jesus, God’s sovereignty is at the core of what we believe and walk in. The dictionary defines sovereignty as, “supreme power or authority.” I believe that God’s power and authority is evident throughout scripture and in my own life. The idea of God’s sovereignty seems so intimidating, but really it is simple and allows believers to experience deep freedom.

God's character Karly GrantWhen I think about the sovereignty of God in the Bible, I immediately think about the book of Exodus. A few years ago I was in a Bible study that went through this book in depth. Every week when we’d get to the last question of the study about how to apply what we had read, my answer was, “God is sovereign. I need to trust that.” The story of Exodus really begins in Genesis with God’s promise to Abraham to make him a great nation–offspring that would be as plentiful as the stars.

Abraham may not have lived to see this promise come to complete fruition, but God, in His sovereignty, ruled Abraham’s descendants. In the book of Exodus, God leads them out of exile and eventually to the promised land. God called Moses to set His people free. He hardened and softened Pharaoh’s heart, and eventually set His people free. Even while the Israelites were wandering in the desert, God was sovereign. He was in control. He provided what they needed and, with love, ruled over them.

God’s sovereignty continued into the New Testament. God sent His son to save us. He has the power to do that. It is because of His authority over the earth that Jesus came down, lived a sinless life, told us how to live, and paid the ultimate price. It is because of God’s sovereignty that He rules over us today and called us to be His children.

During those years I was weekly (if not daily) reminded of God’s sovereignty, and they were needed as I learned to trust His plan and rule in my life. That is still the case today. I am a slow learner, and, really, I think it is a lesson that will take a lifetime to learn.

When my world seems to fall apart, I need to trust God’s authority. The last few years have been extremely difficult for my family. Things have happened that I never imagined, and quite frankly, they tore my family apart. I don’t know why these things happen, and other than a miracle, I don’t see restoration happening this side of Heaven, but I know that I can trust the God who is sovereign in my life. I can rest peacefully and wake up every morning knowing that He is in control.

Karly Grant Character of GodCurrently, as I plan to take a huge step of faith by moving to another state, I am so grateful for the steadfastness of my God. The last few weeks have been stressful as I nail down specifics, such as a place to live. I’m holding closely to Proverbs 16:9 in these times, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” 

I know that God is in control. He hasn’t stopped providing for me yet, and he won’t. In His time, He will provide a home and a job for me. He is in control. He is sovereign over the world and over my life. I can keep putting one foot in front of the other and following where He leads. He was sovereign over Abraham, Moses, and Jesus’s life on earth. He has had authority and power over my life. He will have all sovereignty for eternity. For that, I am thankful.

image1 (1)Karly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm  of adoption. God has laid this heavily on her heart and she is willing to trust Him. This homebody is taking the biggest leap of faith yet this spring and moving 1,700 miles away from the life and people she has known as long as she can remember. She is  both terrified and so stinking excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.

Peace is Our Home

A parent embodies home, or should, at least. We all began existence within our mother’s body, the womb our first home. Instinctively, children return to mom and dad for safety, sustenance, and support. Our houses may change, but our parents should always feel like home, that is, they were meant to. Sadly, too many of us have had parents that didn’t,  couldn’t, or wouldn’t be that sanctuary for us. Whether you had parents who incarnated shalom for you or not, the following is of imperative importance.  

Kimberley Mulder Character of GodWhat is often unknown, or ignored, is the fact that before we were in our mother’s womb, the creative, giving, life-ordaining mind of God purposed each of us. It is with our Father that we have our true beginning, our true place, our true home. Likewise, it is in God’s accepting, receiving, redeeming presence that we will again return home.

Homing pigeons illustrate homecoming beautifully. They have been used to carry messages from far or unreachable places since 3000 BC. They proclaimed the winner of the Olympics in ancient times, they carried important messages over hostile territory during many wars, including WWI and WWII, and were vital to the success of the Invasion of Normandy. They were used for these endeavors because of their incredible ability to always find home, even over hundreds of miles!

By placing their enclosures in one location and their food in another, homing pigeons have been trained to fly round-trip. Some have been trained to fly over a thousand miles, trusting their homing mechanism to guide them. The term “home in”, which means to focus with intent on something or someone, has its origins in these talented pigeons.

So what are our homing mechanisms? And what do we focus on with intent?

Character of GodOur spirits are our homing mechanisms. Our spirits were made to exist with the One who made them. They are like internal compasses turning us to our true north. However, they are broken, uncalibrated, and will point us in the wrong directions if left alone. Jesus came to recalibrate us, to reconcile us, to point us heavenward, and to bring us home.

Our true home, in the presence of God, enclosed by His infinite care, is the place of greatest peace. The more intently we focus on Him, the less lost we will be. We will be able to navigate through war and conflict, with persistence and endurance, over short and long distances, in storm and sunshine, knowing that He, our Peace, is our home.

There are fathers on this earth who provide a foundation of peace for their children. These are men who surrender to God, who are consistent and faithful to both God and family, whose children feel absolute certainty that they are cherished and loved. They partake of his peace by being in his presence in all situations.

How much more a foundation, then, is our Father’s peace! He is peace. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – three-in-one who has no division, no competition, no evil within, only wholeness, complete cooperation, and complete power over evil. From this absolute unity he offers us his peace. A peace that passes understanding, a fully confident, unafraid, perfect peace. He gives of himself. Jesus brought us peace as he united our belligerent, broken spirits to our forgiving, peaceful Father.

Much like homing pigeons brought to a foreign location and charged with carrying a message, we live on this earth as foreigners (Hebrews 11:13) and are charged with carrying the message of peace. We go, winging our way on winds of peace, offering the olive branch to those who might receive it. When Jesus sent out the seventy-two disciples in Luke 10:5-6, he told them, “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.” Whether the people in our lives receive the message of peace or not, we return to our home, to the peace of God, to dwell there and be sent out again. Thus, it is vital to the peace of this world, that we live in the presence of peace daily. We, too, must become characterized by peace for our message  to be received.

2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and shares on her blog Living a Mary Life in a Martha World.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

Let ‘s All Be Brave! A Book Review

I listened to Annie F. Downs before I ever read a word of her writing. She’s likable — and a super fun sounding Southern gal, always up for a good laugh. Her podcast, That Sounds Fun, hosts a variety of insightful, Jesus-loving people. Her heart for God, and others, drew me in, and I asked for her book, Let’s All Be Brave, for Christmas. Thankfully, one of my brothers bought it off my Amazon list.

As I opened her book, I knew from the first few pages that I would glean encouragement and wisdom. At the time of the book’s publication, Annie was 33. And single. Hello! She’s like me. Possessing a zest for life, and seeking adventure. Chockablock full of raw emotions, some easy breezy, some a little trickier to navigate through.

Hold on to hope. That's the thing we can't stand to lose. You can let go of jobs or people or hurts, but don't let go of hope.

My #oneword365 is hope, and I cannot help myself as I mull over a particular passage Annie shares about in the pages of her book:

Hold on to hope. That’s the thing we can’t stand to lose. You can let go of jobs or people or hurts, but don’t let go of hope.

This book isn’t about me being single, but if you think it’s been easy to hold on to hope as I’ve watched my friends pass me by in life phases over and over again, oh friend. Not so much. It’s one thing when they get engaged or married. It’s another when babies come. And another when the kids go to school — and I’m still alone at night.

Amy Stroup sings a song called “Hold Onto Hope Love” that has been my companion more nights that I can count as I’ve cried to God about the rough patches on my hands from holding on so tight to the cliff of hope when it feels like it would be easier to just let go and fall into hopelessness.

And the truth? It would be easier.

But it wouldn’t be brave.

It’s not the story God is writing with my life. It’s not the story God is writing with yours either.

So please. Hold on. (p. 122)

Envision my face after reading this passage. Oh the tears! What perfect, God-ordained timing that I would pick up a book without knowing why I must read it. My heart, as I kept reading, said, “Hey! Me too! I am feeling all those feels friend. I am not alone and crazy, but validated in my thoughts and emotions.” Annie’s bravery throughout the entire book, by sharing her God-given story, vastly encouraged my heart. And in turn, her story helps me want to take steps of bravery in my own life. Whether that means sharing vulnerable parts of my own life through writing, or taking steps toward a dream I may have pushed by the wayside for some time.

If you want to read a book that will embolden you, I cannot recommend this book enough. In what way is God asking you to hold on to hope? What dream has He placed in your heart? How can you begin to be brave today? Read on friends, read on, and I think you might be surprised by the end of the book what God reveals to you through Annie’s words.

sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.

5 Ways Bitterness is Made Powerless

Over the last few years, some frustrating situations have jarred my expectations and pushed all the wrong buttons. Over time, as these things stacked weight heavier and heavier in my heart, I realized part of the reason they were so hurtful was because they were dredging up unrelated pain from years ago. As I thought over how old things were still affecting me and all the ways I wish they had been different, I found bitterness festering.

Rachel Olson BitternessThankfully, I had a couple wise friends who helped me sort through the whole thing, instead of just addressing the bitterness at surface level and having the same underlying issue continue to pop up over and over again. Here’s what I’ve learned through it:

Pour out your heart to God. Don’t stuff the pain and bitterness or try to muster your own strength to fix it. It won’t do any good trying to pretend or force your bitterness away. Bitterness loses its strength when we can see the situation through God’s eyes. Give God whatever mustard seed of trust you have and ask for his perspective. Ask him to work in your heart and the situation.

Share with a trustworthy friend. Vulnerability can be hard sometimes. It’s so valuable though to have a wise friend to listen, pray with you, speak truth when you need to hear it, and offer insight that you might not see on your own.

Sometimes even just by saying something out loud, helps me see an issue from a new angle or realize it’s a lot more trivial than it seemed in my head.

Ask what’s at the core of the issue. Is it unresolved conflict? Your own pride? Someone else’s sin against you? Unrealistic expectations? Disappointed dreams? How might you need to sort these things out with God, and possibly another person?

If there are action steps, take them. Maybe it’s a process that only needs to take place between you and God in your own heart, and whoever else was involved in the situation never even needs to know about it. Maybe going forward, there’s a change you want to make in how you relate to a specific person, or how you handle conflict.

Or maybe there’s an uncomfortable conversation you need to have with someone. It can be tempting to look ahead and say ‘that’s too hard’, or ‘I don’t think that will make any Bitterness Rachel Olson (1)difference, so why bother?’ But you’ll never know for sure until you try. When I look back at times in the past when I used that logic, I wonder, ‘would things have been different if I had just tried anyway?’

Ask God to move! When we allow God into life’s hard places and give our pain to him, he is able to carve beautiful things. It doesn’t have to go to waste or fester into bitterness.

Today I can look back with thanks for what God has done through those more recent situations I disliked so much. It’s a long process, but the baggage I didn’t know I was carrying is already a few pieces lighter. Where old hurts sparked bitterness, God is bringing beautiful new growth, life, and redemption one day at a time.

Rachel Olson HeadshotRachel Olson recently moved back to the US after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.

5 Seeds of Bitterness that Need to be Uprooted

Two tiny leaves popped through the newly thawed soil. Stretching toward the sun, they began to grow, each extra bit of sunlight and water fueling them to become the exact imprint of the seed that had been planted months before. Laid dormant through the harsh winter, it was finally time for this new life to break forth into the world.

I watched with delight as the seedling burst forth. I hadn’t lived long in this place, and certainly didn’t know what may have been planted. In the beginning, the tiny leaves were indistinguishable from one another, so I waited with baited breath while I imagined what beautiful things had been sown in this place. I watched carefully, at first, but as they continued to grow I lost track and checked in less often. Until, one day, I rounded the corner to find that the innocent tiny duo of leaves had somehow transformed overnight into a gnarly tangle of thorny foliage.

A weed. In fact an army of weeds, had invaded my yard as I stood there watching. I didn’t have the time to wrestle with it that day, so I left it and went about my business, sure that it would be there to face another day.

Sure enough, when I came back, it was there. Nearly as tall as I am, with a thick stalk and strange alien defenses, the weed defiantly stared me down. Inch long thorns drew blood and precariously fragile fluffy seed pods drifted defiantly in the air around me.

In the cool of the day, as I yanked out the deep roots of this intruder, I began to think of how similar my heart is when infested with unexpected bitterness.

Bitterness Holly HawesBitterness has never been something I saw coming. Instead, it always appears as an unexpected invader. As a seed dormant for a long time, promising new growth, all hiding and disguised bitterness. Death that masqueraded as life until it was so deeply entrenched that tearing it out tore me up in the process.

The seeds of bitterness are tricky, because the same experiences can lead us to different places, depending on how we respond. One way leads to death, and the other to life and peace.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6

Here are some unexpected seeds of bitterness to watch out for:


Pain becomes bitterness when we don’t allow God to heal us. The source of the pain doesn’t really make a difference. Loss, betrayal, physical anguish, and the things that make our heart hurt can either push us away from one another and from God, or pull us closer.

When we face pain points in our lives we need to watch carefully. Guard against bitterness towards God by meditating on and wrestling with the truth of his goodness, faithfulness, and power despite the current situation. Guard against bitterness towards others by not expecting them to fix it, or say exactly the right thing.


Relationships become filled with bitterness when we don’t bring up hurts or offenses. We try to get past problems without facing them, and in the process drift away. Soon we realize we haven’t seen the person in months, and it would be quite uncomfortable to encounter them. A gnarly bitterness has grown where there needed to be a simple conversation. In confronting hurts rather than avoiding, we guard our friendships and relationships. The initial plucking out is far less destructive than what we could allow to grow.


Control produces bitterness when we discover that control is a mirage. Whether it is a cancer diagnosis, or a person you’d rather act a different way, any effort to control things can quickly turn into bitterness.


Holly Hawes BitternessWe all long for something, but if we make our happiness contingent on the fulfillment of our longings, we will discover that none of our longings truly satisfy. That specific person’s approval. The next step in your career. A child. To be included. It isn’t as if these desires are for “bad” things, but the overwhelming nature of the longing can easily elevate it beyond what these good things were meant to fulfill. Long-term lack of the very thing you feel entitled to moves quickly from disappointment to bitterness.


How can bitterness grow in the solitary mind? Unspoken expectations can quickly pile up, until our thoughts become centered on how “He never______ ” or “She always____.” This is especially true of roommates, or family members. The people we share close physical proximity with have ample opportunities to fail to meet unspoken expectations. Instead of letting expectations morph into bitterness, have a conversation.

This year, I am facing spring head on. Trowel in hand, I am heading into the mud to root up the seedlings that I have seen turn into painfully-spiky alien invaders. And as I dig, I am examining my heart once again. What have I let grow that God would ask me to dig out? What at first glance looked like innocent leaves, but is beginning to grow into bitterness? Are the things in my life full of the Spirit? Life and Peace? These must be answered if I want true life to flourish.

holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

Free Printable: Ephesians 4:31-32

Throughout February we have been exploring the dangers of bitterness, and Sarah Dohman has created this beautiful scriptural reminder to help you combat it. Put it on your wall, your mirror, or even in you car so that you can kill the seeds of bitterness that try to tangle your heart.


Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Chri

Get your free Printable Here!

How Resting in Christ Freed Me from Bitterness

Growing up in the church, I was always told God was good and that He loves us, and I didn’t question it for a second. It wasn’t until I was an adult enduring infertility when I began wrestling with those concepts.

“God, are you good?”

“Do you see me?”

“Why does everyone get to move forward and I’m stuck here confused and hurting?”

I wanted answers. Answers from doctors and from God, and I wasn’t getting any from anyone. I found myself bitter, angry, and confused. All I wanted my entire life was to be a mother, and it didn’t look promising.

I searched scriptures. I prayed. I sobbed on my living room floor, grappling to understand what God could be doing. I couldn’t find peace and was resentful. In despair I watched friends and family share pregnancy and birth announcements. I found myself constantly frustrated wanting to control anything that I could, and avoided women’s gatherings not being able to bear any more talk about child rearing. It wasn’t until I did a study about abiding (resting) in Christ that I came to a place where I understood God’s heart regarding my suffering.

Keri Nikkel BitternessIn Andrew Murray’s book “Abide in Christ” he says: “Abide in Christ! This is indeed the Father’s object in sending the trial. In the storm the tree strikes deeper roots in the soil; in the hurricane the inhabitants of the house abide within, and rejoice in its shelter. So by suffering the Father would lead us to enter more deeply into the love of Christ.”

Oh. He wasn’t being spiteful or showing me that I had upset Him. He was asking me to come to Him, like a child running to their father for protection. I had been carrying my burdens and they were weighing me down. All the while thinking I was alone, He was actually walking with me, gently inviting me to bring Him my sorrows and rest in Him. I won’t pretend that my heart changed overnight, and that magically my bitterness and frustration disappeared. But with each day choosing to trust God with my deepest desires, He drew me deeper into peace with Him.

Bitterness Keri NikkelJesus says: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

After placing my hope in Christ instead of an answer, my heart was filled with joy in what had been the most painful time of my life. Our God is a God who redeems, He did have a plan for me to be a mother although it was not the way I initially anticipated. Our whole journey was preparing us for adoption, and I am so thankful for it. Had I held onto my pain and bitterness I would not have been open to what has become my greatest blessing. Yes, at times I do still mourn not bearing a child. But, now knowing I can trust God with my deepest desires, I know that His plan is greater than my own I have found peace in His will.

7c7d0-24955437073_d41206ac70_oKeri is a wife and stay at home mom. God has, and is, using many situations to teach her to abide in Him. She believes we are all given a story that can help encourage others and hopes to offer hers as an encouragement to you.