Gathering Gifts of Grace

Gather is a very “en vogue” word lately. We see it printed on banners and painted on signs because it hopes to offer a sense of warmth. For me, it brings to mind the idea of gathering my people and compiling the memories of the year. Together we take stock of what’s come and gone.

This quote by Charles Spurgeon comes to mind when it is time to reflect, “We are too prone to engrave our trials in marble and write our blessings in sand.”

In the middle of whatever Monday dumped in my lap, it’s so hard to remember the good things that have happened. It is far too easy to feel pessimistic or overwhelmed. So this November, I’m taking time to gather my blessings and count the gifts from God that I don’t deserve.

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The Gift of Family and Friends

What a year I’ve had! My new nephew was born in February. After a tumultuous delivery and stay in the NICU, he’s a healthy, happy, chunky guy!

I also gained a brother-in-law this year as my sister got married at the end of August! A beautiful end to our summer.

We’ve made some new friends this school year as well as new friends in our church!

What has happened in your family or with your friends for which you can give God thanks?

The Gift of Firsts

We’ve had a few firsts this year too. My oldest daughter started losing her baby teeth this year as well as getting glasses for the first time.

We were able to buy our first home after being under contract three times!

First time for my husband going through the process and achieving his mastership through our taekwondo organization.

My baby, my last baby, walked for the first time (shortly before we moved to our new house in May).

What were some of the firsts you encountered this year?

The Gift of Growth

Physical growth for my girls—height, teeth coming in. My oldest learned to ride her bike without training wheels this year!

Spiritual growth: for my oldest—we think she’s almost ready to get baptized, for me—learning more dependence and trust.

Mental growth: for my oldest—learning math this year and swimming with no wings, for my middle girl—her speech sounds are improving as well as her independence, for my youngest girl—potty training (!). For myself—stretching my perceptions and trying my hand at art.

How have you seen growth?

Gather Sarah Clews

Gathering Blessings

I picture that each of these things I’m thankful for is like a precious stone and I’ve gathered them all, rolling them in my hands, reminding myself of what the Lord has done. And the rest of it…the infections, the financial strains, the home inspections that didn’t come back as we hoped, the personal disappointments, the bad behavior…I’m leaving that behind. 

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. -Psalm 9:1


Sarah Clews HeadshotSarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown-ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.
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Grocery Doubts and the Storms of Faith

I was slogging through my grocery trip, pushing the cart and handing the cranky baby things to keep her occupied, when I turned a corner and almost ran into another shopper. I quickly apologized for my lack of shopping cart skills, and she replied with something that has pricked my heart ever since.

“It’s ok. I’m just over here drooling over your life.”

Circumstances are impossible to determine from the other side of the grocery cart. Perhaps she has lost a child. Perhaps her children are past the baby stage and she misses it. Perhaps she desperately wants to be a mom, and month after month was disappointed. I could see the doubt coming to the surface. The doubt that begins to question when life doesn’t look like we had hoped it might.

I will never be entirely sure of her intent, but under the surface, I could feel that there was a deep well of hurt. She outright stated that my life looked enviable. I was shocked, but I felt for her. That emotion wasn’t foreign to me. Did she, too, sometimes doubt that the life she had been dealt was really God’s grace and kindness to her?  I know how easily we can believe that everyone else’s life is sunshine, while our own is overcast with doubt and fear.

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Despite the outside picture, my life was clouded with doubt that day. What she couldn’t see behind the mom pushing a baby through the grocery store, is that the sweet, yet the cranky baby was a foster child who would be moving on from us in a few days. The childrearing stage I had dreamed of living while we faced infertility had come but in an abbreviated fashion. What she could see on the outside may have been both of our biggest dreams, but it was also the biggest storm. I wonder how many of the enviable lives I measure mine against are facing doubt of God’s goodness behind the layer I can see.

For a while, I had tried to avoid doubts as much as I could. But, I think storms may be meant to push us to face the doubts head-on. The situations I was facing at that time remind me of a storm Jesus and his disciples faced that was recorded in Luke 8:23-25.  

As they sailed, he(Jesus)  fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Beth Moore referenced this passage of scripture in her Quest study. She says, “Knowing a story turns out well can have a terrible way of taming it.” From where I sit, knowing that the storm was calmed for Jesus and the disciples that day, takes out the terror of their immediate situation. They didn’t know whether they would die in the storm, or if Jesus would miraculously calm it.

At times I can think the doubts I have are too big, but the disciples had some pretty big doubts to deal with that day as well. Can you relate to any of these:

Doubt of God’s goodness

Doubt that he cares.

Doubt that he hears our cries.

Doubt that he has a plan.

The disciples went straight to Jesus, but they were filled with doubt rather than faith. Our storms can leave us reeling similarly. We don’t know where this story is going, but can we trust the author of the story, even when it looks grim.

All throughout the Bible, the people we see interacting with God had no idea what would happen. If you actually sit in the tension of the situations they were faced with, the outcome would be far different from the platitudes we often hear in the midst of trials. When we face our deepest trials and hurts, it is not the  time to pretend that they don’t exist, or that they will somehow just magically be better and “turn out in the end.”

Holly Hawes Doubt

Should we begrudge Hannah, for pouring out her heart to God in agony, because, “It will all happen in God’s timing.”? Do we skip over the utter abandonment, and betrayal felt by Joseph as he suffered as a slave and later a wrongly convicted prisoner? Do we quickly run to Resurrection, and fail to reflect on the sorrow of the cross and the tomb?

As we start to see the narrative of the Bible through the lens of the struggle of human experience, we see a dance between doubt and faith, that I had been blind to. Just because everything does turn out in the end, doesn’t mean that it feels like it at the time. Instead of ignoring it, Jesus spoke directly to the storm. He can handle any doubt we face, and any trial that comes our way. Platitudes negate the storm, rather than letting the storm lead you to the only one who can calm it.

Experiencing Jesus in the middle of a storm is one of the greatest ways to turn seeds of doubt into faith.  Doubts spring up in the darkness when we cannot see what God will do; Paradoxically, faith cannot exist if we already see the end. Somehow the same circumstances that make us feel out of control can either be experienced on our own, and lead to doubt, or with Jesus and lead us to greater faith.

The only way out of their storm (and ours) is to ride it out with Jesus. The disciples went straight to him, and instead of their fears actualizing, they discovered that Jesus was good to them. He did care about their plight in the boat, he heard them cry out, and he gave them a way out.

Whatever the storm you are facing today, whether it blows across the water or at your local grocery store, take your doubts and fears to Jesus. He can see through peaceful facades, envy, and doubt. He is there to shepherd us through the storms of our life.


holly-squareHolly is a wife of 7 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been a 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.

3 Truths I Need When I Doubt Myself

I’m overwhelmed. I don’t have this. I’m not smart enough. I’m not strong enough. I’m just not enough. These are some of the thoughts that swirl sometimes as I’m trying to tackle the different parts of my life. I’m striving, striving, striving. But there aren’t enough hours in the day. I don’t have enough emotional energy to tackle all of it. I’m just not enough.

I hustle, hustle, hustle. Busting out the to-do list. Following my routine. Pushing myself so hard that I’m so exhausted I feel like a marionette just going through the motions. But it’s just not enough. I’m just not enough.

I’m doubting myself all the time and find my doubt to be justified. I don’t have an endless supply of emotional energy and grace, so I shout at my kids and my tongue lacks grace. I don’t have an endless supply of physical strength and energy, so my housework lags. My brain is so overworked trying to put out fires that I suddenly find myself mentally frozen like my brain is trying to tread concrete.

Sarah Clews Doubt

Not only that, but we’ve got well-meaning but not scripturally based books coming out called Girl, Wash Your Face that basically says, “You’re doubting yourself? Wash your face, suck it up, and try harder! You need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” You know what’s wrong with your life? You are just not trying hard enough!

I love what Gracelaced wrote on Instagram, “Steady heartbeat on repeat for some time now: We are not the heroes of our own stories. It’s en vogue to believe we steer our own course and drive the train in our own lives—that we are the sum of our unrelenting efforts…Friend, if your tank is empty, your road unclear, your drive lacking direction tonight, look beyond yourself. Look to Him. Jesus takes us where we could never go on our own.”

I’ve heard this saying falsely attributed to the Bible, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Oh, He absolutely will. And this is completely intentional. I’m doubting my ability to handle it all? Well God has certainly never depended on my ability to handle it all. There’s hope in my doubt…the hope that God never expected me to be able to “do it all.”

1. Cease Striving

“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NASB)

Our culture exalts “the hustle” and “the grind.” Seeking to live our lives without the power of God will always be a futile and exhausting exercise.

2. God is Enough

“My flesh and my heart will fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 (NASB)

We are not enough, but He is. Where I doubt myself and fail daily, God never fails. His love never fails. His mercies never fail.

3. Lean into God

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil.
 This will bring health to your body
    and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8

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Leaning on my own understanding is so disappointing and exhausting. It doesn’t mean I should stop making an effort, but depending solely on myself will always end in failure. In our modern culture, we suffer more than ever from anxiety and panic disorders. We’ve brought sickness to our bodies trying to do it all.

We must rest. Let us rest in the confidence that we have been rescued. As Jennie Allen says in Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard, “Our confidence comes from believing God can do anything, then stepping back and letting Him.”

I need Jesus to be the hero of my story. How about you?


Sarah Clews HeadshotSarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown-ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.

Trapped by Doubts

I think I need a lock screen on my phone with the words “You, bleary-eyed one, do not touch this! Danger!”—on a red background, in bold.

Have you ever regretted your early morning, nonchalant scroll through social media? I certainly have. Just this past week, I spent three days removing the shrapnel of allowing the many feet of Instagram and Facebook trample on the landmines inside me. You know, those parts of yourself that are weak, sensitive to comparison and criticism, your perennial Achilles heel. That simple, foolish, not-thought-through action loosed a storm of doubt within. As my coffee perked, I struggled to gain ground and fight back.

Doubt Kimberley Mulder

The first warning rumble had been the sinking sense of failure I felt as I read of a dear woman halfway around the world who is doing what I hope to do. She is younger, written the book, had the kids, already heavily involved in ministry, and gracious to all to boot. I’m struggling to write two blog posts a month, cope with my kids’ needs, stepped out of ministry for a season, and dealing with clogged sinks.

The next quake was the disparaging thoughts against another dear woman nearby posting links to activities she is a part of to further the cause of immigrants in America, while she leads conferences in other countries, and celebrates her daughters’ successes. All I could see in her good works was that I am doing little for immigrants, which shames me because I used to, hope to lead conferences someday, and at the moment am trying to figure out how to pay the counselor’s bill.

The explosion came when I couldn’t stomach the glad tidings of other writers’ successes, and I clicked my phone off. In the shallow morning light, I glowered in despair. Who needs coffee after that? I’ll just go back to bed, thank you very much, the world doesn’t need me!

Finally, almost grudgingly, I open my Bible app, recognizing I am in a bad spot. (Lashing myself all the while with “You know better, you should have started with this…”) And what do I read?

“Fear and intimidation is a trap that holds you back. But when you place your confidence in the Lord, you will be seated in the high place.” Prov. 29:25 (TPT)

And another look at it:

“The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” (MSG)

Basically, God’s sweet reminder that sounds like this: “Wake up, sweet one, you are in a trap! I have come to enable you to live the life I have given you! Just as I am enabling these other women, I have laid your boundary lines and given you your portion in which to thrive and grow and minister and be with me. What works for them is not for you. Do not doubt me in this, I know what’s best for you, and I tailor it to suit you.”

Over the next three days, I realized that these doubts I had about self, ability, energy, and success were not just about me, but really rooted in doubt about God. I have set out towards these goals under God’s express invitation and provision. I said yes before, I said I’m all in, I accepted the invitation and dove into the action. I knew the days would come when the energy of excitement that sparked the beginning and gave the courage to step out in faith would dwindle. The path would look far too long, the moments far too difficult, and doubts regarding the rightness and authenticity and, most especially, my ability would glare at me. But this is part of what Eugene Peterson calls, “a long obedience in the same direction,” a day in the equipping and shaping for what is to come, a necessary hiddenness and difficulty.

Even as I felt the lingering impact of the internal explosion in the days following, I repeatedly took the fear and frustration to Jesus in prayer. I wanted him to take it and make me whole instantly, but that was not his way. I continuously had to face them honestly, and tell them “I do not fear you, for I know who has called me. I know what he has called me to, and I know he will bring me to it.” I certainly did not scroll haphazardly! Yet, I still struggled to get out from under it.

One thing you need to know about me is that I am not one to pick up the phone to talk through my problems. I figure the other person already has enough to worry about, but over the last few years of developing some friendships because God has repeatedly pointed out to me that this is vital and good, I have started to call on them when problems arise. So I texted, asking for prayers because of my overwhelm and doubts. A few hours later, the oppressive internal cloud was completely gone! I could see from God’s perspective again.

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I was lifted to confidence in God, and out of the trap, through my friends. It required me to humble myself to not go it alone. I couldn’t release the trap of doubt any more than I could take shrapnel out of my own body. And now my faith is reinforced with gratitude and relief and friendship.

So, if you are struggling under a cloud of doubt, what scriptural truths do you need to tell yourself, and is there a friend you can call who will pray?


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Kimberley 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)

I Doubted the Power of My Story

When I was in high school I was constantly surrounded by one youth group speaker after another, each with a powerful testimony of how they came to know Christ after some dark and troublesome time in their life.  Each person had a heavy story – a life of drug dependency, a life of running from the law, a life of selling their body, a life of anger and hatred, a life trapped in a cult – and all of these intense stories ended the same.  In the end, they all had a radical encounter with discovering Christ their Savior, they turned 180 degrees and life was drastically different.

Each of these stories felt incredible; I often was met with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I heard of God’s saving, redemption plan for these lives that were deep in muck and mire.  I was in awe.  God is good!  And look at these incredible people, look at them going around and telling of the gospel of Jesus, of the one who saved them from their pits.

But also, then… what about me?  What about my story and my testimony of how I came to know my Savior? I was a “good girl” and always had been.  I’d grown up in a loving Christian home with two parents who always pointed me back to Jesus.  I’d known the name of Jesus for as long as my memory served me.  I told myself that because of the limited drama in my life that I would never be a speaker giving my testimony to a youth group crowd. What in the world did I have to share?!  I didn’t have some wild “before” life!  I didn’t feel like I had a testimony that anyone would care to hear. It only takes two seconds to say “I’ve known Jesus all of my life,” and who would sit before me to listen to that?  I doubted the importance of my testimony – one of a life rooted and with a foundation of knowing Christ since birth.  I doubted that it mattered one bit in the pool of all of the awe-inspiring tales of conversion out there.  Frankly, I doubted the power of Christ to show up and be revealed in a story as mundane as my own.

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I remember when the time came in my college group when we were asked to take turns sharing our testimonies with the group.  I asked the leader, “but what if you don’t have a testimony?  What if you don’t have anything to share?” I didn’t doubt the goodness of God in my life which had been constant and steady, but I doubted what felt like His lack of display of power in my life.

I didn’t have a gripping story.  I didn’t have an “ah ha” moment.  Did I even have a “real” testimony?   My lifelong knowledge of Jesus, who He is, and what He always did for me didn’t feel exciting or gripping, it just was.

At some point in those early college years, I realized that it was enough.  More than enough.  My story may not be one for the books or speaking engagements but my story is just as powerful as the one who came out of a life of addiction or a life of utter brokenness.

My story is powerful because it drips with the power of God: His power to save me from all of the muck and mire that I didn’t have to walk through, His power of steadfastness to walk beside me as a constant for all of my life, His power to be a strong and firm foundation, laying the brickwork for the mess that my adult life can sometimes look like.

Kayla Anderson Doubt

Today, I don’t doubt the power of my testimony or the power of Christ through my seemingly mundane story.  I don’t doubt that He can and will use it, boring as it may seem.  I’m not discouraged by my come to Jesus moment being something that feels like it ought to be more.  After all, it’s not me and my mess that the power and glory comes from.  The power is in Him alone and His saving grace – His grace over my sin-filled life.  A life where, despite being “a good girl”, I am still a sinner, just as in need of a Savior as the girl whose life was more outwardly messy or had a more exciting story.

I no longer doubt the power of my testimony, for I am my Beloved’s and He is mine.  I am saved by His grace; there is nothing which can snatch me up out of His loving hands and that is a mighty display of His power in my life.  Thanks be to God for saving a sinner like me.

If I’m Sowing Good, Where are the Blossoms?

Author: Deb Gruelle

Sometimes I’m shocked by the ways my life hasn’t followed the good dreams and plans that I’ve made as a Christian woman who loves God with all her heart. I’ve tried to follow God and sow good seeds that will grow to an abundance of good in later life.

  • When seven babies died, five adoptions fell through, and I waited seventeen years to fill our family with three children, I doubted God’s love for me.
  • When chronic illness struck, I doubted my worth to the world.
  • When my children, those desperately-prayed-for blessings, made choices that went against biblical morals, I doubted my identity as a good mother.

The funny thing is that even through all of this I’ve never doubted God’s reality. I was introduced to Jesus early in life, and God made such logical sense to me. I could see His fingerprints in the world around me. I could see Him working in my family’s lives. I couldn’t imagine life without God. I know this is different than some people, maybe I was given the gift of faith.

Deb Gruelle Doubt

What I began to doubt was God’s love for me. It happened insidiously over time as huge tsunami waves crashed on my life again and again. As devastating circumstances continued, I kept reading verses that said I’d reap what I sowed. I believed if I sowed righteousness I’d surely be rewarded. (Proverbs 11:18; 14:14; Galatians 6:7)

I grew up in a strong Christian family where I saw God reward good choices. When that didn’t happen to me, did that mean the reverse was true also? How could bad things keep happening in my life when I was also trying to follow God wholeheartedly?  When longings of my heart went unanswered year after year, I began to believe God must be angry at me. For many years, I felt confusion over these verses. I believed lies about my worth that separated me from feeling God’s love.

It took me many years to understand how Jesus balanced the truth of those verses with His parable about the sower in Luke 8. In this parable, He tells about a farmer sowing seeds. Then He talks about how the seeds fell on different types of soil. Depending on the soil each seed landed on, some grew and even flourished, but some didn’t grow at all or didn’t grow well. He said the Word of God is the seed that is sewn into hearts.

If we could count on this principle always holding true—that what each person sows always directly relates to what they’ll reap, surely the seeds of the Word of God would always flourish. But this parable says that isn’t true. There are many more things that act on our choices in life that play into the results. And in this story, God wasn’t angry at the farmer because he chose the wrong seeds or sowed them wrong. Sure, we can sow wisely to ensure that our seeds have the best chance at flourishing, but some failure is expected. No fault is laid on the sower for this.

I finally understood that when bad things happen in my life it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not pleasing God. What if Jesus thought He wasn’t pleasing God because He had to face the cross? I had to trust in God’s bigger, love-infused, long-term viewpoint.

I have no idea what the future holds in so many areas of my life. If I depend on future blessings to validate my worth, my understanding of God’s love for me will be short-sighted and wobbly. Instead, if I understand that my job is to snuggle up close to God, to first let His love flow into me, then out to others through me, that’s all I need to do to please Him and live in victory. If I keep my focus on His love for me, that gives me the strength to not grow weary in sowing seeds of good. The results aren’t my business—the results are God’s responsibility.

Doubt Deb Gruelle

I love to garden now. I’m still sad when I see a bud form that never flowers. But even in gardening, experiencing loss makes the vibrant blooms that much more precious. Either way, I’m going to continue gardening—sowing good seeds and watering them. That’s my focus in partnering with God to plant beauty, that and living in the truth that I’m loved by my Creator. I’ll be thankful when God brings blossoms, but I won’t let them determine whether God loves me.


_Best Headshot CLOSEUP SMALL FILE SIZE 11_16 Copyright Patti Mustain SeekingHisLight.comDeb Gruelle, best-selling author of Ten Little Night Stars (2018) and Aching for a Child (2019), serves as chaplain for Inspire Christian Writers, as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), and a Stephen Minister. Featured on radio broadcasts including Family Life Today and speaking across the country, she invites listeners to embrace both courage and rest for wholehearted living. 
 Web: http://www.debgruelle.com/ Find more from Deb on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

 

Check out her latest book:

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Mending Broken Vases

Author: Rebecca L. Mitchell

After my marriage failed, I fell into a dark season of doubt.

Many of my doubts revolved around myself. No longer wanted by my husband, I felt unlovable, ugly, a failure as a woman. I also questioned my ability to be a loving mother to my daughters, as I seemed to fail them, at least in my mind, in some way every day. Could I ever be whole again as a woman and a mother?

In such a daze of pain, I couldn’t imagine a bright, hopeful future or even a dull, decent one. I figured I would be able to function enough to stumble through life, but I thought oppressive grief, wounded anger, and aching loneliness would be my constant companions. I doubted I could regain emotional balance or normalcy.

If doubt is feeling uncertain about something, especially about the possibility of something good, I had it in spades. I couldn’t see good ahead. My biggest dream was just not to feel pain; I had no expectations of joy, no hope. For me, the opposite of doubt was not belief, but hope.

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I wish I could say that this is when I found Jesus, asked Him into my life, and never encountered my ugly companions of grief, anger, and loneliness again. The truth is, I already knew Jesus and had known Him for years. I didn’t doubt God’s presence in my life or His love for me—although I’m sure He could have handled it if I had. My faith in God was strong, growing, in fact, as I was clinging to Him in desperate survival mode. But I still struggled to have hope.

This doubt or loss of hope is common in the midst of deep pain and brokenness whether it’s from the loss of a loved one, financial hardship, or the shame of our own sin. Even if we aren’t struggling through ground-shaking chaos, we still get stuck. We doubt life can get better, or that we can change our bad habits. Our negative internal dialogue is on repeat, our smiles forced for public consumption.

Eventually, my genuine smile returned. Slowly, over time, God restored my hope: “Yes, my soul, find rest in God, my hope comes from Him” (Psalm 62:5). I learned He is not only able to restore me, He is willing. Scripture abounds with His ability and willingness to provide hope and restoration. Hannah was blessed with a child after years of infertility and Joseph became second in charge after slavery and imprisonment. Often, the psalmist, who begins with a cry of despair, ends with praise, adoration, and hope, even if the circumstances haven’t changed.

Doubt Rebecca L. Mitchell

The art of Kintsugi is a beautiful illustration of this hope of a restored life. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending broken pottery with resin combined with gold dust. The veins of gold along the broken lines enhance instead of diminish the beauty of the piece. God is a patient Kintsugi artist, melding our broken pieces into masterpieces.

My transformation from doubtful to hopeful has been frustratingly slow at times, but it has been genuine and true. Awareness of God’s deep, reckless love for me has moved from head knowledge to heart conviction. Amazingly, I now understand His desire to heal my brokenness surpasses my desire to be healed. I know that I know that I know, God’s plan for me is a life restored, full of joy and hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).


Rebecca L. Mitchell Blog post submission about doubt for OctoberRebecca writes with a passion to see women come alongside each other in their healing journeys. She is celebrating the release of her first book, From Broken Vows to Healed Hearts: Seeking God After Divorce Through Community, Scripture, and Journaling. Her day job is teaching English composition at UC Davis.
Find more from Rebecca at her blog http://rebeccamitchellauthor.com, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

Faith in the Face of Doubt

Show me a Christian and you will have shown me a human prone to doubt.  Faith isn’t for the weak.  It takes a certain amount of tenacity to stand faithful to God alone while the world calls us foolish, silly, and uneducated.  It takes a level of tenacity to stand firm in faith when life, or perhaps our enemy, throws flaming arrows of difficulty at us.  Sickness, death, sorrow, financial ruin, and abuse are enough to make even the stoutest believer cry out in dismay.  Why does God allow such turmoil?  Why is life so hard?

It isn’t just the harsh reality of this life that allows doubt to creep in.  Our own sin issues get in the way of believing.  Fear, insecurity, selfish ambition, greed, and pride all raise their head in defiance at faith.

In fact, faith is not for the weak or foolish.  Faith is the life song of those with enough grit to quiet their prideful heart, and trust God in the deepest, darkest periods of life. Faith fills individuals with enough tenacity to cling to what is unseen when what is seen is ugly and painful.  Faith is for those willing to put aside their own ideas, dreams, and perceptions and ask the unseen God of the universe to “take the wheel” and drive their life.  It isn’t a crutch.  It isn’t easy.

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Is it not easier to live our lives the way we want?  To pursue money and ambition and fame?  Is it not simpler to do what makes us happy with little regard for the next person?  Is it not more convenient to believe that our lives are our own and subject to no one else, not even God?

From the outside to those looking in, I know that I seem like a good person with a good life marked by good things. Others may question, what can I know of sorrow, pain and questioning God?  Yet my song, the song of my soul, is His Eye is On the Sparrow because I do know sorrow.  Sorrow so deep my heart sometimes feels ready to burst out of my chest under the pressure of the pain.  Sorrow that tears can’t describe; the sorrow of a life touched by illness, death, murder, suicide, mental illness, poverty, and abuse.  A life that was uprooted and left without a home for so many years that the idea of home seemed lost forever; a thing to be grasped that lays just out of reach.

My life…

But, even in the darkness and the sorrow, there is a knowing.  The kind of centered knowing that can only be found with a solid faith foundation in Christ Jesus, carried on by the work of the Holy Spirit, and rooted in experiencing the great and gracious love of God the Father.

In those dark spaces…there is no room for doubt.  Doubt is a liar.  Doubt is a thief that steals our joy and gets us off the right path.  And yet, Doubt is there.  Always questioning, always wondering.  And questioning and wondering bring new understanding and new insight.  Maybe it isn’t the doubt itself that causes us to lose our way, but the fear of what we will find when we wonder.

Fear, it seems to me, is the real enemy behind our doubt.  The enemy that says, don’t ask and don’t wonder and don’t grow.  Fear, as Zach Williams sings, is the liar behind us whispering that the truth is too hard and too scary and too disappointing.

But, fear can’t stand and doubts melt into assurance in the face of truth.  The truth is that we are wanted, loved, and precious Children of God Almighty.  We are righteous without our own merit and forgiven.  We are reconciled, and our souls are eternally free.  The truth is that no weapons formed against us can stand and the enemy must flee at the name of Jesus.  The truth is that we can suit up, arm up, and pray against our enemy and victory can be ours, in the name of Jesus.  We are filled by the Holy Spirit, backed up by the heavenly hosts, and set free by the blood of Christ!!

Doubt Jacqi Kambish

Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8: 32 and Paul said, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…”  Ephesians 6: 14. Truth takes the power away from doubt and casts out fear. So, put on the belt of truth, rebuke fear, and stand firm in the face of doubt.

No, life isn’t perfect.  Sometimes we don’t understand why things happen.  Pain and sorrow can be overwhelming and hard to take.  Sickness can be discouraging and relentless, but even then…

Even then, I am learning to “sing because I’m happy.”  Not happy with circumstances, but happy because my soul is free, restored, and whole, because my eternity is secure with Christ and I know this life isn’t all there is.  In that, there is also hope.  And Hope and Truth shut the mouth of Doubt.


Jacqi KambishJacqi Kambish is a Christian mom to three spirited children striving to balance the daily demands of parenting a child with special needs and meeting the needs of typically developing siblings while working full time and writing.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry from William Jessup University.  Jacqi lives with her family in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and enjoys reflectively writing about parenting, faith, and the joys and trials of life while leaving her readers with hope and encouragement.  Her blog The Presumptuous Ladybug can be found at and you can connect with her on Facebook

Raising Disciples

As a Christian, anytime the word “home” is mentioned, I tend to think long-term, as in our heavenly “home”.

But what do we do with the time we’ve been given right now? What should our earthly home look like?

As my friends and siblings are beginning their own families, I fondly remember the home I grew up in. It was a place that was filled with hospitality: hungry teenagers, sleepovers, parents who encouraged us to invite friends over. I grew up in a home where my parents loved Jesus, and they couldn’t help but want to love on all our friends. My parents took us to church, prayed with us, and ultimately, discipled us.

Sarah Dohman Home

I share this free print today to encourage your heart, dear friend. If you have little people running at your feet, these are your small disciples. The Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:16-20, says go and make disciples. And to the young parents who are now at home on a Friday or Saturday night, knee-deep in diapers and bottles, bedtimes and Bible stories, simple prayers and sleepless nights, this is my encouragement to you.

These little people, gifted by God, are your disciples. Pray for them, read God’s Word to them. Show them what it means to love Jesus. The seeds of truth you plant when they are young have the opportunity, Lord-willing, to grow into flourishing adults who love Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. You may not have it all together; heck, you may feel hopeless at times. But your faith in the Lord is not wasted. It is imprinted into the hearts of those you are raising. I know this to be true, as I am living proof of Jesus-loving, God-fearing parents.

Print this verse out, hang it up, and let it remind you that your work at home is not unnoticed. Your greatest gift to your children is to raise them up loving and knowing Jesus, who will always, always, lead them “home”.

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Click Here for your free 11 X 8.5 print.


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globetrotter, 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 on her blog or on Instagram.

A Home for the Uprooted

Home is sewn into the seams of my suitcase –  

Caught up in the fragments of childhood memories

Where I can’t place the country or state, let alone the date;

But I remember who was there

 

Home is in the beauty of silver-tipped mountains

And sweeping red canyons;

Where snow sneaks in for Easter

And July Fourth bakes the earth to a crisp

 

Home is in fierce, drumming rainstorms

Crashes of thunder

And the soft blink of fireflies;

Where stars pierce the sky

And mosquitoes outnumber them

Rachel olson home

Home.

The land of ever-changing, ever-flying, ever-new.

And the question, “what are roots?”

 

The longing for something constant in life –

Something else besides “goodbye”

 

The familiar taste of spicy meals and bustling market stalls

A far-off airport terminal I’ve known for as long as I can remember

And the voice of a treasured friend spanning oceans

Or sitting next to me

Home Rachel Olson

Home.

Both everywhere and nowhere

In heartfelt conversations or the scent

of my grandmother’s Irish Spring soap

 

And when it seems shattered, scattered to the winds

In a million pieces too tiny to recover

Home is still here in the promise of the Psalms:

 

“Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! 
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God. ” (Psalm 90:1-2)

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, 
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.” (
Psalm 139:7-10)

 

Inspired by this post from Communicating Across Boundaries.


Rachel Olson moved back to the US last year after making Africa home for a while. She is now living in her 17th home and has yet to find a simple answer to the question “where are you from?” She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes and is currently wondering if that might mean returning to Madagascar (one of her previous homes in Africa). You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram, or visit here to help her get back to Madagascar.