Make Room for You, for God and Rest

Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop Ovid

Everyone has a story.

All of us were once little boys and girls. We all have memories. 

Some happy. Some not.

Some we share. Yet, many more lay hidden in the secret pages of our heart.

So that we can be strong. So that we can be happy.  So that we can be free.

That’s what I thought, until one day, I stood at the cusp of a childhood dream about to come true.

I was going to write a book.

But as my pen hit the paper to capture those moments, they all came alive.

My memories were no longer stories I once told myself.

And I began reliving them.

Unexpected. Painful memories.

Trauma.

Anxiety.

Just a Visit

I was seven years tall.

I didn’t want to be afraid. It was supposed to be simple. Just a visit.

On the weekends, my father would come see my sister and me.  After the divorce.

I was supposed to climb into the car with the cracking vinyl seats, into the car with the peeling rooftop — of my daddy’s olive green Nova.  It smelled like old, dirty ashtrays, as I slid in the back.  It smelled sad and lonely.  But, I didn’t say anything.

I kept quiet as my little sister with chubby wrists and cherub-rose cheeks toddled in to sit beside me. I felt small and awkward, my hands on my lap and shoulders hunched over as my daddy turned around and smiled a little too widely, his eyes begging for me to smile back.

But, I didn’t know what to do. Because my momma said nothing about this visit.  Other than I better not take anything from him.  I better not come home with anything, other than what I left with that morning.

Which was nothing.

As we rode across town, across the train tracks, up and over the metal buildings and smokestacks of the old Del Monte cannery in Sunnyvale, everything stood eerily silent.  It was Saturday morning and everyone and everything was still in bed.  The streets rolled by empty, as I looked out the window and wondered where we were heading.

I still remember how big the Kay Bee toy store looked as my father tried to hold my hand walking through the parking lot. The square letters spelling K-a-y-B-e-e were suspended kid-tousled happy on the signage way up high.

Even though my little sister couldn’t read, she didn’t need to.  She was getting excited, her little feet hurrying ahead.

But, I knew better. Nothing ever came simple for me.

That day at the toy store ended up just as I had feared.  Not simple.

Who I Could Be

The journey of rest has been the same.  Not simple.

How do you rest when life is less than perfect — with stress marring the daily journey?

I’ve tried to find rest by making a safe place for myself, by putting myself to the side.

By problem solving.

By being strong.

By doing.

I wrestle my anxieties into action plans and check lists to shield myself from vulnerability. I was thankful, sincerely trusting God in what I could do — but missing out on who I could be — by trusting Him to rest.

Here I was, all grown up, mom of two beautiful boys, married to a loving husband.  Yet, I somehow came to believe  incorrectly that if I had faith in God, stress, doubt and pain couldn’t touch me.

Awaken Your Heart

It’s so much easier to take care of everyone, to tend to problems and everything else. It’s easier to be strong and not need or feel.

This is how I’ve lived my life. Fine and functioning.

Surviving.

But, deep inside, where no one knew — where I seldom ventured myself — I was weary. I longed for rest.

Soul rest.

Sometimes the deeper journey of faith is found by following your heart to rest.

Putting our hearts first — letting Jesus love us — is a deep, intimate journey of resting with him.

Make room for you.

Feed your soul.

Slow down.

Breathe.

As much as I longed for all this, I didn’t know how. Until Jesus took me on a  journey of faith to awaken my heart. To be real. To be known. To rest.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the day at the toy store would be our last visit together. My daddy and I.

Something New

As I journeyed through stories long forgotten, God was using all my broken pieces to make something beautiful.

Something new.

God transformed my brokenness into a story of discovery.

A story of rest. To find the things I somehow lost along the way.

Quiet.

Stillness.

Intimacy with God.

In that secret place where I dream dreams. Where I can just be me.

In my search for answers, I made an important discovery:  we all need spiritual whitespace.

Spiritual Whitespace

White space is used in art and design. It’s the space on a page left unmarked.

It’s not blank – it breathes beauty. It gives the eye a place to rest.

Without it, clutter takes over the page.

Just as beautiful art needs white space, our souls need spiritiual whitespace.  We need rest.

God, after all, is an Artist and we are his work of art.

My story is really everyone’s story. Everyone long to find a place to breathe –

to dream dreams,

to slow down,

feed their soul,

and be free.

To feel more deeply connected to God. And others.

Make Room For Your Story

Learning to make room for yourself to rest requires risk. It’s vulnerable to say, I can’t do it all. I need rest.

I eventually went on to complete writing my book about my journey to find rest.

As I uncovered my story, I am finding kindreds on this journey of rest. I realize I’m not so alone anymore.  

I think of Jesus. How He made room for you and me.

By living a beautiful, broken story of love. He told this story. By living it.

Sometimes the hardest stories to tell are the most beautiful.

Our stories are the greatest, most beautiful gifts we can offer: ourselves.

Take the journey of spiritual whitespace.

Uncover the stories deep in our souls, to create space in our hearts and in our schedules.

For beauty. For rest. For God.

So we can live a better story.

Today.

Today’s post was written by Bonnie Gray and is shared from the following website : https://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/bonnie-gray/make-room-for-your-story-for-god-and-for-rest.html

 

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How to Brighten Your Morning (and Whole Day): 7 Powerful Habits

Let nothing trouble you let nothing worry you everything passes away expect God God alone is sufficient Norman Vincent Peale

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
Marcus Aurelius

The alarm bell goes off. You slowly open your eyes. A new day lies before you.

A day of unexplored potential and opportunities. How can you make it more likely to become a positive and good day?

Today I’d like to simply share 7 habits that I have used to make my mornings and whole days better.

1. Have a reminder on your bedside table.

How will you start your very first moments and minutes of the day?

One good way to get off to a good start is to have a note, a reminder on your bedside table that will be one of the first things you see after you have woken up.

A couple of suggestions for what to write down on your note:

  • A low bar for happiness. Write down: “Today I will set a low bar for happiness”. Read it and try to keep it in mind during the day. This one helps me to appreciate things more. The food, my work, the weather, the people and the small events of the day becomes not everyday stuff but something I feel happy to have. The small things or what may be something one takes for granted becomes something I now often pause for a moment or two to take in and appreciate.
  • Your top 3 priorities in life right now. To keep your attention in the right place it is essential to remind yourself every day of what is truly most important. So what is most important for you this year? A project at work? Your family? Improving your social life? Your blog, photography, soccer or debt? Think about it and reduce what is important in your life to the top 3 most important priorities.

2. Give one genuine compliment.

Giving one genuine compliment to your partner, a family member, friend or co-worker during your morning can not only lift his or her day but also make yours a little brighter and happier.

So tap into what you can appreciate about a person in your life. Then tell him or her that.

If you can, make it something that may be a bit unexpected and something that person hasn’t heard a hundred times before. For example, a compliment about her great taste in music or his wonderful way with animals may be more appreciated and powerful than a compliment about looks and other more superficial stuff.

3. Positive information intake over breakfast.

Instead of watching the news or reading the papers and getting a negative and perhaps depressing start to your day do something that will inspire you.

  • Read one or a couple of new posts from positive, funny and uplifting blogs or websites.
  • Read a chapter from a book that inspires you.
  • Or simply have a fun and warm conversation with the people around your kitchen table.

4. Start your workday with your most important task of the day.

If you do then the rest of the day will feel lighter and easier. You will feel better about yourself and more confident as you move on to other tasks.

If you have trouble getting started with the most important task then just make a deal with yourself to work on it for 3 minutes. Then you can stop if you like. But you may not want to once you have gotten started. That seems to be the case for me most of the time.

Getting started is most often the hardest part. So make that part easier for yourself.

5. Go slow.

When I go a bit slower it becomes easier to fully focus, to keep the stress down and I most often do a better job with something the first time around.

I work with more clarity and I do not get stuck in doing busy work very often.

It may feel like I’m not getting enough done but at the end of the day I usually get more quality work done than if I tried to maintain a high speed throughout the day. Partly because the lower stress levels keeps my mind fresh and energy up even through the last few afternoon hours of the workday.

Try going a bit slower. See how it works for you.

6. Work out.

Often mentioned and for a good reason. It has many positive benefits.

I workout several times a week and by doing so I boost my energy, inner doubts and tensions lessen, I feel more decisive and my mind becomes more optimistic. And all of that makes the rest of the day lighter.

I highly recommend doing some kind of exercise in the morning. If you can’t go to a gym or work out from home early in the day then maybe you can walk or bicycle to work or school.

7. Do the right thing in some small or big way.

This one boosts your self-esteem. It puts a spring in your step and it at least makes me feel happier.

So do what you deep down think is the right thing.

A few examples that may resonate with you:

  • Perform a random act of kindness. Hold up the door or point out the way for someone who seems lost.
  • Help someone out practically or just by listening.
  • Get started with putting a dent in the most important challenge in your life.

Build upon just a small step, a small thing if you like. Start building an upward spiral of positivity and good feelings within. And then take further steps upward.

Towards what you know you really want and you know are the right things for you in your life.

Today’s article was written by Henrik Edberg and is shared from the following website: https://www.positivityblog.com/brighten-your-morning/#more-8400

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The Stresses of Life…Best Handled with Faith

It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it. Lou Holtz

I planned for today’s post to be on stress…because we all have it. I see the effects of stress and its influence on health almost every day as I work with clients and patients.

This morning, I came across this article and a smile immediately lit my face! The minute I read it, I knew I needed to share it! I hope as you read it, it will reach down into your heart and help you understand that God loves us deeply and that the trials and stresses we experience in life are not punishments, they are opportunities for us to get to know our Creator a little better and grow our faith in him!

Olympic Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton: Trials are God’s Opportunities for Us

Scott Hamilton recently spoke at the RootsTech, the largest family history and genealogy conference in the world, sponsored in part by FamilySearch.

Scott Hamilton is arguably the most popular figure skater of all times, a best-selling author and Olympic gold medalist, so he must have glided right through life without a hard fall, right?

Not so. In those days when newspapers took personal ads that included a short description of yourself, he joked with a friend that his would look something like this if he were to be 100% honest: “Short, bald, half-neutered, chemoed, surgically-repaired, retired male figure skater of unknown ethnic origin seeks beautiful woman for long walks, laughter and an interest in my hobby of collecting life-threatening illnesses.”

“Believe it or not,” he said, “I got a taker.”

“I’ had my darkest years when I was at the top of my good fortune,” he admits, but he came to believe that trials are actually “God’s scheduled opportunities for us,” and he speaks of his life, which has been riddled with challenges, with humor and faith and a good will that is contagious.

Scott was adopted at six weeks of age by “an amazing family.” “You know that’s me,” he jokes, pointing to a newborn photo of himself. “Same hairline.”

His parents wanted a big family, but every time his mother was pregnant, she’d carry the baby to full-term and then have a still-born. “My mom was the center of my universe. She was the best woman I’ve ever known,” he said. “She was the driving force in my family.”

His sister looked at him when his parents brought him home and said, “He’s not very cute. Can you take him back and exchange him for another baby?”

“A lot of people thought I looked like my Mom,” Scott said, “and she would say, you always resemble the ones you love the most.”

“We’d celebrate that I was adopted every day,” Scott said. Later in life when children would tease him about being adopted, he’d say, “Yes, I was adopted. My parents chose me. Your parents got stuck with whatever came out.”

He had a beautiful family situation, he said, with frequent interactions with his grandparents. Yet, the variety of illnesses that would plague him through his life began as a child. He said, “I always joke that the counter that’s in your kitchen that the children run under all the time, and you know that one day they are going to bash their heads because they’ve grown taller, that never happened to me.” He was sick and small and as a man only grew to be 5’4’’.

“I was on this never-ending journey of hospitals,” he said. His parents even went back to his birth parents to see if they could solve the health mystery, but it was a mystery that never was solved. Finally the doctors said, “We have no idea what’s going on. We just think you need to go home and live a normal life,” he said. “My parents were just shattered and exhausted from this four-year adventure” going from hospital to hospital.”

During these many hospital visits, Scott’s Mom slept in the chair in the corner of the room and was under a great deal of stress. Finally, the doctor suggested to them that they needed a morning off and that the university offered classes at a new ice skating rink every Saturday morning. “Put him in those classes and he will be well supervised,” the doctor assured them.

When he got to the rink, he was excited to be with well kids, but was still wearing a nose tube because of the supplement that he wouldn’t drink. No one would have figured him for a future gold medalist.

“As I started to skate my health got better. They couldn’t figure out why,” said Scott. “There was never a chance that I would be anything but a skater. That was going to be my life.

“The problem with that was I wasn’t very good. I failed tests all the time, and I didn’t have any focus. There was this thing called compulsory figures that I just couldn’t stand doing. It was boring and I hated it, so of course I wasn’t very good at it. I plodded along, and plodded along. I would do ok in a competition and then fall and only did all right.

“If you are a female figure skater and you medal, you’re really good. If you are male figure skater and you don’t medal you probably should be doing something else,” Scott said. “I was doing just OK and my parents, who were both school teachers, were doing everything they could to keep me in skating.”

Scott finally got to the point that he needed to go to a place where they had great coaching. It was time to make the quantum leap to the national championships. At the competition, he said wryly, “I rose to the occasion. I fell five times in front of 17,000 people.

“It was humiliating and devastating and I said, ‘I’m never going to do that again.’” He worked really hard that next year and only fell twice and came in next to the last. By the time he was getting to the junior level, he finally beat two guys. He came in seven out of nine.

It was then that his mother was diagnosed with cancer. “I knew that times were hard,” said Scott. “She had sacrificed everything for her children.” Under this new stress, his parents told him, “we’re broke.” You can keep skating one more year and make it great. When you graduate from high school, you can go on to the university for free, but they could afford no more skating.

That next year, Scott said, “weird things started happening. I decided to actually work.” He made it to the nationals and his Mom came, wearing a wig because the chemotherapy had taken all of her hair, and she had a sling on her left arm because she had a mastectomy. Still, she had a twinkle in her eye for pride for her son.

About a week before the national competition, Scott started landing his first triple spin, but on the night of the nationals, his coach said, “You are in a really good position to have your best finish ever. Don’t warm up the triple before you skate, because we don’t want to know if it is there or not.” Scott said, “I had this history of just wiping out all over the ice at nationals. The coach said, ‘If you feel like doing it, what have you got to lose? It’s your last competition. Do it.’”

Scott landed the first triple ever in competition and won the national title in what was to have been his last competition ever. However, his parents found sponsors for him so that he could continue.

The next year he was 18, sponsored, and in an apartment on his own. He went to the nationals and it was an “epic fail.” He fell hard on his first jump. He said, “I was undertrained. I was unprepared. I was lost. I was this clueless 18-year old kid. It was the worst thing ever, because that is the last time my mother would ever see me skate in competition. She lost her battle to cancer.

He had choices at that time. He could have dissolved into self-pity. Instead, “I decided I wanted to honor my mother in every single thing that I did. I took her on the ice with me every single day.” Scott worked hard and the very next year he went from being 9th in the country to being 11th in the world.

People stepped in to play the role of surrogate mothers and father for him, including his coach Don Laws who was with Scott training him every single day, not just in skating, but in confidence and integrity. “My preparation through him,” said Scott, “was to be ready for any circumstance under the harshest conditions. That ribbon around my neck at the Olympics was the gold medal he allowed me to win by his miraculous training.”

On March 17, 1997, Scott was diagnosed with cancer and then three years later on March 17, 2000, he met the woman who would become his wife—Tracy Hamilton. Every year they celebrate March 17 as the best/worst day. “I had been knocked down enough times and gotten up enough times to be able to recognize that the greatest gift I ever received was her.”

Having survived testicular cancer, Scott wasn’t sure if they could have a family, but then nine months and two days later, they gave birth to a son. He said, “As an adopted child, this was the first time I saw flesh of my own flesh, and I was staring directly into my own eyes and it was a feeling like no other. I’m a father. I’m starting my own family tree.”

As Scott and Tracy were raising this child, more health issues arose for him. This time it was a brain tumor on his pituitary gland. But they wanted another child desperately, so they got to work. They prayed and prayed hard. On the way home from a brain scan he got the text that indicated a baby was on its way. When he saw his second son’s flaming red hair, Scott said, “I must be Irish!” Ethnic origins cleared up.

Both boys were thriving and their lives were full and complete. Yet, as he was preparing for the 2010 Olympics, and an earthquake shattered Port au Prince, Haiti and shattered Tracy’s heart at the same time.

She just felt compelled to go help—and it was the beginning of what would be 27 trips to Haiti to help the people there. On one trip she met two children who would have little chance in life and, Scott said, “We could give them a great one. We knew that God was totally directing our steps and that we needed to do something, We prayed, and we prayed a lot.”

So for Scott, it came full circle. The boy who was adopted and loved his family grew up to be a man who adopted other children. “My goodness, all the mysteries of life,” he said.

He was given the incredible gift of a family and now he can pass that on. “Our past is the foundation for everything that comes of it. Without our past, our present has no meaning and our future is worthless.”

The key for this man who has fought several life-threatening diseases and continues to win is faith.

He said, “Cancer was a wonderful way for the Lord to set me back on the right path. All good things came out of cancer for me. I don’t dread it and I don’t regret it. It required faith on every level—the abundance, the blessing, the times where we get knocked down, where we get course corrected.

“I don’t make any decisions without faith, without praying on it. I don’t give a talk without praying first for permission and support. There’s not a thing I get into, like the Olympics where I am on TV an hour a day where I don’t feel like the wherewithal to pull that off without prayer,” Scott said.

“The answers are all there if we are open to it. I’ve really learned that the Lord has directed my steps and he’s been there every step of the way. There’s never been a time in my life when he hasn’t been there. I recognize that in everything that I do. Try to be light. Try to be salt. Try to share the good news and hopefully when people are in their deepest suffering, they will understand the only way out.”

Today’s article was written by Scot and Maurine Proctor and is shared from the following website: https://ldsmag.com/olympic-gold-medalist-scott-hamilton-trials-are-gods-opportunities-for-us/

 

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Using Faith to Overcome Adversity

Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into light Helen Keller

A Personal Story of Overcoming Adversity

Adversity challenges all of us. It seems to pinpoint our weaknesses and swallow our dignity until all we are left with are two choices: to cry out to God deeper than ever before or throw in the towel.

Nearly ten years ago, adversity struck our family in a moment when we least expected it. My normal routine flipped upside down when I received a call from my husband as he was on a ministry trip. He calmly yet firmly told me the doctors received the results from his biopsy. He had cancer. My husband, a dad, a Pastor, an evangelist, a man of God, my best friend, had cancer. Not just any cancer, but metastasized melanoma. The kind of cancer that has no cure and spreads rapidly in the bloodstream. In that moment, I was faced with those two choices. I chose to do what I had done for years and trust in God that His position has and will always be higher than any adversities we face in life.

My husband battled six years of horrific clinical trials and treatments until there was nothing left for the doctors to do. We stayed steadfast when there was no hope in the future. We prayed. When others told me to have a drink or take medication to calm the nerves, I chose to cling to Holy Spirit and listened to His voice for direction.

My husband passed away on March 9, 2014. Seven months later, I received the news that our only son had passed away from an overdose in his apartment. Can you imagine my agony as a wife and mother? The pain I experienced after losing the love of my life AND my son? I literally could not stop crying, I used my tears to cry out to God and asked Him to take my tears of loss and turn them into tears for the lost. I wanted to see His plan in all this and He was so faithful to let me know He wasn’t out to hurt me, but wanted to use what I had been through to touch others.

I literally could not stop crying, I used my tears to cry out to God…

As I was reading the Word, a story in 2 Kings, chapter 4 became alive to me. It’s the story about a widow and what was left in her house after her husband died. She began to tell Elisha that she had nothing left since her husband was gone, but what she didn’t realize was there was something in the house. There was oil. I came to a point in my grief when I cried out to the Lord and said, “I have nothing left!” But He quickly reminded me that I was full of oil of the Holy Spirit. God gave me two beautiful daughters and two son-in-laws full of oil of the Holy Spirit. He left me with the ministry that Steve and I began together years ago. He left me with people who loved us. I had oil in my home and that’s what would help me overcome these tragic, life-altering events.

So, how do we overcome adversity? Just as David said in Psalm 77:11, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” I remind myself of where He brought me from, how He saved me and set me free from a life of sin. He took a girl who was born from a rape, never knew my biological father, don’t remember my mom’s first husband, then she was a single mom with three children on welfare and food stamps. Life had dealt her hand that she didn’t know how to play. She married again, an alcoholic, a very abusive man verbally and physically. I let hate & bitterness fill me which lead me to start drinking & smoking at age 12, which continued to escalate until I was 18 and in jail for selling drugs.

Going to church Easter and Christmas didn’t give me much of a foundation. I didn’t think anyone could understand the Bible and change. My mentality was that you had to be born into a Christian home to be able to have a good life, so I thought my lot in life was a life of sin. But then something happened, my mom got saved watching a Billy Graham crusade on TV. She started reading the Bible, praying for God to do SOMETHING in her family. An Assemblies of God pastor came to our house and invited us to church. My mom wanted to go but my stepdad wouldn’t let her. This pastor wouldn’t give up, he came back every Saturday for two years, even when my stepdad threatened to call the police on him and I told him we weren’t interested. He kept telling me that Jesus loved me and had a plan for my life. I didn’t believe him, I told him and God I wasn’t worth it and they might as well give up on me. It took two years of his persistence for God to wear me down to a place where I would say, “Okay God, I am sorry. Have your way in my life, forgive me, cleanse me, make me new.” And He did!

I went into a program called Teen Challenge where they taught us the Word of God and to memorized it. to pray and have a love relationship with Jesus. For the first time in my life I thought there was hope and that if God could change me, He could change anyone. My heart’s desire was to let God use me to reach others.

I met Steve in Bible School. He had been touched, changed by God and wanted to share Jesus’ life changing power with others as well. I loved serving Jesus alongside Steve for 35 years. Now he is with his first love and I am still serving my first love.

I am still serving my first love.

How do we overcome adversity? Cling to the Word of God, holdfast to His voice, and never allow the enemy to diminish your purpose in Christ. I will never allow fear or grief to water-down God’s plan and purpose for my life. The enemy lies to us telling us we aren’t worth it or life isn’t worth it, but when we decide (And I believe it is a decision) to believe in God, His Son, Holy Spirit and let our thoughts be taken over by the Word of God, we can overcome any adversity that comes our way.

Today’s story was written by Jeri Hill and is shared from the following website: https://godtv.com/overcoming-adversity/

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Trusting in the Lord

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God Corrie Ten BoomPeople going through tough times often wonder, Why is God letting me go through this? Is there a point?That was me in seventh grade. At the time, I thought it was the worst year of my life. Anybody who knows me has heard me say that. But now I know better.

Without that year, I would not be who I am today.

I am a missionary kid (or MK). I have lived in the Czech Republic, the second most atheistic nation in the world, since I was 4-years-old. I’m naturally shy so it’s tough for me to make friends. But to make matters worse, I was growing up in a foreign country, where I didn’t fully know the language and where every kid I met thought Christianity was the dumbest thing on the planet. Let’s just say I felt like there was no hope for a close friend.

And then it all got worse. We moved to California for a year before returning to the Czech Republic. I had no idea what living in America was like, and now I had to attend seventh grade there. Sure, I’d been to America once during our missionary service. But it was for four months. Now, I was going to go to school there. I had no idea what Abercrombie was, who Rihanna was, or even how to relate to American kids.

I knew from the very first day at school that things were very different from the Czech schools. People talked differently, dressed differently, acted differently, and even thought differently. I did not fit in, and I didn’t know how to fix that. I was doomed to be the class outcast, the weirdo of seventh grade. And I was. The many insults that I received hurt deeply.

I had been taught all my life about God and Christianity. But before my seventh grade year, God was kinda just there—not really doing anything. He was like wallpaper. But now, I was broken. I was spiritually hungry and thirsty. I thought that if God couldn’t help me, no one could. One day, I opened my Bible and Psalm 31 stared back at me: “For I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me and plot to take my life. But I trust in you, O Lord. … In the shelter of your presence you hide [those who fear you]; in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues. … You heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help” (NIV).

I knew it was no coincidence my Bible fell open to this psalm. I devoured the passage and literally felt a hunger for more. Through his Word, God showed me that I was not alone, and that I just had to trust in him to make the best of it. When I gave him my whole heart, my life opened up. He gave me joy for each new day. He helped me find a few friends around the school and taught me how to let him be my Best Friend. He gave me many opportunities to live out the instruction to turn the other cheek. Life was still very hard. I still cried myself to sleep a lot. Some of what the kids at school said still wounded me badly. But, still, things were different.

I knew that God had a plan, that he had a reason for all the pain and strife I was going through. I didn’t know what he was planning, but who am I to argue with the God of the Universe? I couldn’t see it then, but as I look back now, God has revealed how he used me that year. For instance, there were several students in my class who came from a different country or whom nobody liked. I realize that, with my experience with living in a different culture and being the social outcast, I was the ideal person to reach out and relate to them.

I noticed lessons of that year when we moved back to Czech. I began eighth grade in yet another new school and I had to make new friends all over again. In America, I’d learned how to stand up for myself, how to make a good yet truthful impression, how to laugh at my mistakes, and how to overcome most of my shyness.

Needless to say, I had a very enjoyable eighth grade year. Since then, too, my life has been much more rewarding. With less shyness, I have been able to act in my school’s plays and participate in more group activities. God has blessed me with close friends who encourage and strengthen me. He has shown me how to be a better friend.

Most importantly, he used that year to draw me closer to him. I could have never imagined this relationship with him two years ago. God surely used the bad for good. James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3, NIV).

Today’s post was written by Jessica Dagen. Jessica is currently attending high school in the Czech Republic. Today’s article was shared from the following website: https://www.christianitytoday.com/iyf/truelifestories/ithappenedtome/bestandworstyear.html?start=2

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