Count It All Joy? Really?

Count it all joy? Really?

Life is really heavy sometimes. In my mind, I had the perfect family; a husband, a little boy, and very soon to be a little girl. My due date arrives after my very perfect pregnancy, quick check before we deliver… No heartbeat. What? Wait, what?! This cannot be. Fast forward to 15 hours of induced labor, my beautiful daughter is here. Stunning, but not alive. God? Hello? Is this real, everything is a blur. Nothing matters anymore. This can’t be happening. God? 

Don’t you remember I was a missionary? Remember, God? I know all of the right things. Heck, I even went to Bible school. What’s going on? Life has been pretty amazing so what has happened? Count it all joy? Ha. Yeah, right. All I can do is cry. And cry. And cry. And lay in bed and cry some more. Joy? Ha. Yeah right… But God.

Perhaps it’s financial trouble, difficulty in your marriage, losing a child, life just not turning out as you expected it to. I don’t know where you are in your story, but I know that while happily living in the middle of mine, everything came crashing down around me.

Life punches us in the gut sometimes out of the blue, when we are least expecting it. You know it. That hard news that comes and takes your breath away. We are then forced to make decisions that we never knew we would be faced with and we question everything we’ve ever known.

My heart cried out, but God, I’ve loved You and trusted You with all of my heart, and now this? It doesn’t make sense. It’s not fair. How can I still trust You? I thought You were good. All these thoughts ran through my mind when I was faced with the hardest thing I have ever walked through. Perhaps you’ve been there, perhaps you still are.

And yet, the truth that I knew deep down, was that God was still good. That His promises to me had never changed. And it was then I had to dig down deep and bare my soul to Him, and in my grief, anger and ache, I had to believe that somehow what the enemy had intended for bad, God would use for good.

This is where deep rooted faith comes in, this is where the foundation that is built on Christ that cannot be washed away by the storms really is tested. Do I really believe that I can trust God and that He really is good when everything around me is not? The answer for me was “no” for a long time.

It has been four years since our loss and what a crazy journey it has been. I’ve reminded myself so many times that most men and women in the Bible didn’t have it so easy either. They were given promises that sometimes they had to wait 100 years for, I’m thinking of Abraham. They waited in dungeons, in prisons, in caves and had enemies and were on the run, and yet they had the promises of God and knew Him and that He is good. They didn’t have the end of their story written to read and know that it was all going to be for something so much greater. We get to read and see the stories and they are amazing.

But when you are in the middle of something, like I am, we don’t get to see the end right away, we get to wait, and we get to trust Him or not trust Him. We have to trust in who we know God to be. It is so hard, it is hard sitting in a mess and not seeing any way forward, and yet here I sit, looking like a fool to most, hoping against hope. I know He is so much greater than my small mind. He has it all figured out, and so I keep trusting, I keep my eyes on Him, I keep loving Him, and praising Him among my heart ache and my tears.

I know He is right here next to me, and is not silent though it may seem, and that this is all birthing hope and glory. He has promised that He is faithful and good, and He is the lifter of our heads.  God promises us that all things work together for good, for those who love Him and who have been called according to His good pleasure. He has promised that what the enemy intends for bad, that He will use for good.

I don’t understand how that is all going to happen, but what I do is I continue to trust Him, I continue to bear my soul and my pain and every feeling to Him and that somehow He comforts me, in a way that is supernatural. We are given a peace that is out of this world that He has promised to us when we lay our requests and our heart before Him.

He gives me a joy that isn’t dependent on my circumstances and will do the same for you. I promise you He is near to you, He is near to your broken heart and He loves you and cares very deeply for whatever it is you were walking through, even when it seems like the valley of the shadow of death.

For my Jesus is not a stranger of suffering or hardships, He was human and divine. He understands the deepest of our sorrows. Despite the happy face that religion paints, or the problem and carefree false masks that people wear, He actually knows and can empathize with what you are struggling with and wants nothing to do with religion.

He is there. With love. With tears in His eyes because He too has been broken. In every way. Offering His hands with scars, to hold you. His life, divine, to accept you. Offering His ears to listen and grieve with you because He knows.

Isaiah 53 says that Jesus was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and was well acquainted with grief. It says He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was afflicted and wounded for us. It says that all of our brokenness and stuff we go through and do wrong was laid on Him. He knew deep grieving.

He willingly laid His life down as an offering for our sins, and because of the cross, we are healed, and forgiven. He poured His soul unto death, He was punished with the most sinful of transgressors and He gave His life so that we could be made whole and have hope beyond what we could have ever imagined.

He understands your humanity, and yet resurrected, and defeated death, crushing it and all that would try to keep us defeated and depressed. Even in the darkest of our days, there is a great Hope and your dark days have an end. This is the good news for everyone. Run to Jesus in whatever state you are in and I promise you He will provide comfort beyond what you ever knew was possible because we are the beloved.

Thank you for reading my story, I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but I know Who does and in that  I take great comfort and joy.

— Shawnda Lorrelle

About the author

Shawnda Lorrelle is a mom of two boys that spent her 20’s mentoring, speaking and sharing Christ around the world. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and is currently writing a couple of books and supporting women who have experienced late term loss and stillbirth. She can be found on Instagram @shawndalorrelle and @late_term_loss_and_stillbirth

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Restoration Stories – Lisa Reyes

I wasted many years living a lie, a life full of drug addiction & bondage. I thought that was the only way to have fun, to go anywhere I had to be high or it was boring, that was the lie I believed, what I called living… It was truly madness, I was running from God. I don’t know what I was so afraid of God is so good!! 💯❤️

I came to the Lord in a wheelchair, barely able to transit from the chair to my bed. After serving Him a short while I wanted to dance. There was a lot of freedom in the Church (I was attending then) a couple would dance at the Altar (Her with a scarf & him with a tallit, a Jewish Prayer Shawl). My hearts desire was to dance before my King!! 💃👑❤️

I’d spent four years in a wheelchair, so to most people this would seem impossible, but we serve a God of the ‘impossible.’ He says, “Nothing is too hard or too difficult for Me!!”👆💯

The devil kept telling me how foolish, dumb & ignorant I was going to look. But, my hearts desire was to dance.. Finally, I told the devil to “Shut up!! Shut up lying devil!!!” I screamed in my head. And I don’t know how I got up to the front of the Church, to the Altar, but I did it. God did it through me & today I am walking & I dance for the Lord. I close my eyes & it’s just Him & I (I don’t care who’s looking at me). It’s just Me & Jesus!! 💯❤️🔥

The doctors are awestruck on their X-rays I don’t have a left femoral bone (that’s what you normally receive with a hip replacement), but I walk by faith not by sight.- Heb 11:1

If God has promised you something, you hold onto it Child of God & don’t let it go. He is faithful & true, He keeps His promises & He’s watching over you! He is watching over His Word to perform it. All of His promises are ‘Yes & amein’ and He is not a man that He should lie. Trust Him! Praise Him like your prayers are already answered, because by faith they are…

Faith – Complete trust in someone or something.

#Faith

#Firewalker

#Hebrews111

#TrustInHimChild

#CreatedForGreatness

~ Lisa Reyes

A Fraud And A Pariah

My greatest fear is that I would be found to be a fraud and then become a pariah— a man faking his faith, with no love, no knowledge of God, and no integrity. Becoming an outcast and a pariah. This is deeply rooted in me, and it steals my joy and my peace. It harkens back to a time in my life when I was a fraud, a fool, and a pariah. The memories still haunt me.

The world and Satan would love to freeze frame us and lock us into a self image based on our worst moments and our darkest days.

Our Father in Heaven and those who truly love us are rooting for us to rise up, declare the past dead and gone, and, like Paul the apostle, “strain forward” to what is ahead.  

Our past does not define us; our present reality and our future destiny are all that matter.

I would rather have a wretched past and a glorious future than a perfect past and a dubious future.  

There are many who have lived a socially acceptable life but have not bent their knees to Jesus, and all of their good works and social acceptance will be burned up on judgement day.

So the only fearful prospect in life is to be found “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked” by Jesus—his verdict on all those who rely on their own resources and refuse to come to him for their life.

When we give our lives to Jesus, he becomes our “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption”—our everything.  

How do we know if we have made this essential transaction with Jesus? How do we know if we have made him our life?  

I suppose that it is in the quiet moments, when our hearts and our minds drift toward their default settings, that we discover who we really are. When we get off work, turn off the tv, and just rest. Then, where do we run for refuge; what do we delight in; what gives us peace and joy?

I hope that it is our forgiveness and our great inheritance that both flow from our reliance on the precious price of blood that Our Savior paid for us  2,000 years ago. It is a heritage and an inheritance that will stand the test of time and withstand the onslaught of trials and troubles. It is durable and dependable—the rock on which we stand!

~ Brad Heilhecker

In Christ we all have a Bright Future Ahead!

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If you are ready to share yours – contact us here.

Restoration Stories – Ngahuia Harvey

I was on the road to no where with no where to go no destiny nothing but baggage 🧳suit cases full of hurt ~ anger ~ manic depression ~ I was a drug addict for 19 years from 17-36 years old I was an IV user addicted to meth put my kids through hell in & out of court system as close as my eyes are together that’s how close I was from going to jail i said my final goodbyes to my kids that morning but grace turned it around (15 years prior I had already given my life to Jesus ) & ya know what I still went home & got high stuck a needle in my arm for the next 5 years in a toxic marriage finally built the courage up to leave after 19 years in abusive r/ship I went to a women’s shelter got high with a friend one night went back to my unit just so happened to open the Gideons bible to Psalm 18:19 “He also brought me out into a broad place; He DELIVERED me bc He DELIGHTED in me” I was so convicted & delivered & set free the very next day I’ve never touched needles or drugs to this day I have been clean for four years when they say the Word is alive well it sure is true that one verse leaped out in front of my eyes that night my baggage lost ~ confused ~ lonely ~ hurt ~ pain ~ broken ~ abandoned ~ forsaken ~ wounded ~ rejected ~ mistreated ~ all that stuff now God has set me free from all that I’m healed saved in Jesus name. I have so many things to thank my God for he still chased me down with his love even when he knew I was going to walk away from him for those years the kindness of God is amazing. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future & hope – never forget that”Jeremiah 29:11~ & this one has been on my heart all week Isaiah 46:4 ~ “and when you are old, I will still be there carrying you, when your limbs grow tired, your eyes weak, your hair is a silvery grey, I will carry you as I always have, I will carry you & save you”. Wow now I’m crying haha JOY. PRAISE GOD HE’S SO GOOD !! more than we could ever ever know. You can count on him those who have been forgiven much love much.

~ Ngahuia Harvey

Restoration Stories – Amanda Eksteen


I longed for someone or something

to change my life

I had this emptiness and loneliness

inside of me

I had a deep hunger inside..

not knowing for what…

I continued having this desire for something

to fill the emptiness

I searched all over for that missing link

I read selfhelp books

I tried to be a better person

I did all the rights things

according to the standard of men

I even attented church on a regular base

But still I was empty on the inside…

Until one day I cried out to one name…

That one sweet name was JESUS

The name above all names

That name saved me…

That name healed me…

That name delivered me…

That name wrote my name

in the palms of His hands

He taught me to love…

He taught me to forgive…

He taught me to have faith…

He taught me to trust Him no matter how hard,

No matter under which circumstances

No matter how I “felt”

He taught me to hear His voice

He showed me my gifts and showcased them

He revealed Himself to me as a loving Father

He told me He loves me

He told me I am His precious daughter

He told me that He will never leave me

nor forsake me.

Today I have peace, love, joy and victory.

Jesus changed my life!

I HAVE FOUND WHAT I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR!

~ His Beloved Daughter,

Amanda Eksteen

HOW ABBA FATHER CHANGED MY LIFE