My greatest passion is intentionally sharing my faith in Christ with our children and grandchildren. Jeff and I married in 1975 and are blessed with three adult children and their families. Our six grandchildren bring us great joy. Serving alongside of Jeff in pastoral ministry for twenty years, we launched Covenant Heirs ministry after our first grandchild was born. We desire to offer encouragement and resources to help equip parents, grandparents, and others to intentionally live a life of faithfulness to God, with a family discipleship emphasis. Please contact us at email@example.com.
Holding His Hand blog (2016) is dedicated to my mom, Audrey Lewis, who learned to trust in Jesus during her battle with cancer. This blog testifies to God's amazing love and provision in our lives.
At the Home of Martha and Mary – Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
We are all given the same amount of time each day to live it in any way we choose (for the most part).
Twenty-four hours to determine how we will spend our time. Mmmm….
Approaching the age of becoming a senior, the purpose of my life is taking on greater urgency.
Old Age / Senior Adult (Definition)
The last period of human life, now often considered to be the years after 65. Whew! A little ways to go.
In most cases, dogs can be considered senior between five and ten years old. Jeff and I recently watched the movie, A Dog’s Purpose,* a family-friendly movie with some human-life applications. Bailey is reincarnated several times, becoming a different breed each time, and finds himself in various homes. He keeps asking the question, “What is my purpose?” “Is it eating, playing, sleeping, working as a police canine?” At the end of the movie, Bailey returns to one of his original owners, the one who loves Bailey simply for being his companion.
So, what’s important in your life?
For me, at this stage in life, spending quality and quantity time with family and friends, and everyone else God brings into my life is very important.
I never considered myself an extravert because I enjoy my “personal space.” Space to simply relax, read, work in my yard, meditate on God’s word, etc. I don’t typically like large gatherings as much as I do just hanging out with a few people who want to simply hang out with me…just to be in the moment, sharing life together.
Martha often gets a bad rap because Jesus seems to reprimand her for her busyness. I don’t think Jesus thought any more of Mary than he did Martha, but simply made the distinction of what is “better.” Taking care of the necessities of life is important, but taking care of relationships is better.
I don’t let anything keep me from sitting at the feet of Jesus during my morning prayer and Bible study. Spending time with Jesus is my highest priority. It took a few years and a few more reprimands from the LORD before I realized what a joy it is to simply live in the moment with my God and Savior.
The Scripture clearly shows us where Martha was amiss. She was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.”
What are the distractions in your life, that keep you from “the better?”
Earnestly evaluate your daily/weekly activities. How are you spending the gift of time God is entrusting to you? As you reflect upon these, you will no doubt be able to determine what’s important in your life.
Holding God’s hand most often leads to holding the hands and hearts of family and friends.
“After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper” 1 Kings 19:12.
Listen…so you may hear His loving and gentle voice.
For me, His voice whispered through a Bear Hugger.
Nearly nine years ago, at age 51, I experienced severe shortness of breath. Undiagnosed for a few months, I became increasingly more anxious and frightened with reoccurring incidents. Two that stand out to me:
Playing outdoors with our young granddaughter (4), I found myself gasping for breath, while wondering if I would even live through the moment, or get to see my granddaughter grow up. (She’s now 13.)
On another occasion, I found myself clinging to a sales clerk’s counter at Walmart. She probably should have called for an ambulance. Well, maybe not, since God’s timing is always perfect.
A few weeks later, I was finally admitted into the hospital with a suspected coronary artery blockage. My family surrounded me while I awaited my turn for a heart catheterization. I remember my biggest worry was not so much the impending procedure, since I desperately wanted relief from the inability to breath, but of being cold. I’m always cold!
After my family prayed with me, the nurses wheeled me into the surgical room. It’s there, I knew I was being cared for, not just by the medical staff, but by God.
After being transferred onto the surgical bed, I immediately experienced being embraced by a comfy warm apparatus. It was a large inflatable blanket-type device which blew warm air onto my cold body. Wow! I couldn’t believe my simple fear of being cold was eliminated in an instant. The nurses later told me the technical name of the device: Bair Hugger, or as I now affectionately refer to it as Bear Hugger.
I ended up having a stent inserted into my artery, which was nearly 100% blocked. And nine months later, a second stent was placed in the same artery. I think of it as God giving me double protection.
God held my hand during some serious health issues over the years and it gives me great joy to share this one with my blogger friends.
Holding His Hand:
I believe we will always experience God during fearful moments of life, if we will simply listen and watch for His unfailing presence in times of darkness. Recently, I was trapped by myself in an elevator during a storm. It was pitch dark! I couldn’t even see my hand in front of me. I began to panic, thinking I would be stuck for hours…and possibly plunge to the basement floor. Then, within minutes, the doors opened and I was free to escape the darkness. God often allows us to experience darkness in our lives (illness, a job loss, sin, etc.) so that we will experience His undeniable presence. A presence of peace, calm, and warmth…all culminating in God’s perfect love and protection during our fear.
Take Elijah for instance. Elijah had demonstrated courage before Ahab in the king’s palace and on Mount Carmel. He had also witnessed God’s supply by the brook, in the home of the widow, in the years of famine, in the fire from heaven that consumed the sacrifice, in the coming of the rain, and in the ability to outrun Ahab back to Jezreel. However, when faced with the threat of Jezebel and the obvious fact there would be no immediate revival in the land, he suddenly became fearful and discouraged. Elijah was exhausted, and found himself in a dark cave, hiding from Jezebel’s death threat. But wait! It was in this dark and quiet place that Elijah heard God’s voice.
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
For a deeper understanding of this Scripture passage, I invite you to follow the link to Bible.org ministry.
Possibly you have found yourself in a dark place like Elijah or like me, facing a life-threatening situation, or it could be another fear that’s gripping your heart. If so, I encourage you to quiet your spirit and listen for God’s gentle whisper. It’s not easy in this extremely loud world, so it will take intentionality. Turn off all social media devices and find a place of solitude. It may not be a cave or a surgical room, or it may, but wherever it is for you, know that God’s presence is with you…just listen.
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
Written by: Mary Alice Medley
On September 17, 2014, we went to Daryl’s doctor’s appointment. While we were there he became very ill so I took him to the emergency room. This was the beginning of our journey together until February 27, 2015 when Daryl went home to his eternal reward.
During those long days, weeks, and months, I remained by Daryl’s side. Driving daily to and from the hospital or the nursing home, some of the trips were in torrential rain and the dark of night. Daryl, knowing I’m not a good driver and have no sense of direction, worried about me and always said, “be careful” or “is the car running okay?” I didn’t have a single accident or any car trouble during this time. I had wonderful friends who offered to drive me on days when I couldn’t. GOD IS FAITHFUL!
There were many trips to the emergency room and the hospital–eight trips to the ER and admitted to the hospital six times. When Daryl wasn’t in the hospital he was in the nursing home. Healthcare facilities are not cheap! When I saw the final cost (nearly $600.000), it was breathtaking. Yes, we had insurance and it paid a large portion of the expenses, but I was responsible for several thousand dollars on the hospital and doctor bills, plus nursing home and dialysis center expenses. Every time I received a bill from the hospital I called to make arrangements for monthly payments and most of the time they were very cooperative. In fact, while paying on four different hospital bills, I received another one. So, once again, I called to arrange payments. But after checking on the information, the clerk returned to the phone and said, “The bill is paid in full!” GOD IS FAITHFUL!
I accepted the fact that I would be making monthly payments for a long time. However, God had another plan. Daryl and his siblings inherited a farm several years ago. The farm had been on the market but hadn’t sold and we all wondered why and when someone would buy it. About a month after Daryl was hospitalized, I received a call from his sister. She said, “We sold the farm.” I told her that was an answer to prayer and I would use the money to take care of Daryl. We did not receive a huge sum because the proceeds were divided among five siblings, but I have NO medical bills! God’s timing is perfect. GOD IS FAITHFUL!
While Daryl was ill, I had some issues at home. The refrigerator quit. I didn’t want to take the time to go shopping, so I ordered a new refrigerator online. It was delivered and the old one removed. The delivery man said he needed to turn off the water for the ice maker on the old fridge, so he went downstairs and turned it off, supposedly. After several days, I noticed water on the laundry room floor and could see where a pipe was leaking. I called a plumber we had used previously. The plumber came and discovered all the wood flooring under the kitchen was water-soaked and the kitchen floor needed to be pulled up and the wood dried out. I was unable to get someone to come out immediately to dry everything out, and they would not install a new floor until they were sure my insurance was going to pay. I made many phone calls over the next several weeks, trying to assure that the damage would be paid for. Eventually, I received a check for the entire cost and got a nice new kitchen floor. GOD IS FAITHFUL!
God continues to show His faithfulness to me in so many ways.
One day I had a flat tire. I had never aired up a tire, so God provided a kind gentleman who offered to help me. The next day some kind friends followed me to Tires Plus so I could get it fixed. GOD IS FAITHFUL!
My garage door failed to stay down. so I prayed and said, “Lord you know I won’t sleep tonight if this garage door is up.” I tried one more time and it went down. I called a repairman who came out quickly and fixed it. The cost was minimal because I had purchased a maintenance agreement with the company. GOD IS FAITHFUL!
One day I was getting ready to run some errands, and when I turned the key in the car ignition, it wouldn’t start. I needed a new battery. I walked across the street and asked my neighbor if he could help. He came, put the battery charger on and instructed me to a place where I could buy a new battery and have it installed. I was up and running within an hour. GOD IS FAITHFUL!
Just recently, I was driving down what is typically a very busy street. Suddenly a large dog jumped out in front of me. I stopped immediately, but I hit the dog. He rolled over several times right down the middle of the street. Thankfully, there were no cars coming! The dog jumped up on all fours and ran away. I am so thankful I didn’t run him over because he would have been hurt badly and I would have damaged my car considerably. Also, if there would have been anyone coming behind me, they could not have avoided hitting my car, which would have caused considerable damage. GOD IS FAITHFUL!
When we started this journey in September of 2014, the Lord gave me a verse from Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
God’s promises are sure and HE IS FAITHFUL!
About Mary Alice: I first met Mary Alice when my husband was interviewing for the lead pastor position at St. Paul’s Church of the Nazarene, KC., MO. Since then, I ‘ve had the wonderful opportunity getting to know Mary Alice as a friend and sister in Christ. She demonstrates a strong and dedicated faith in God. Mary Alice is the prayer coordinator for our church and is always reaching out to those who need encouragement, including me. It was a true blessing to meet some of her family during our National Grandparents Day of Prayer. Mary Alice and Daryl have raised a family who loves Jesus.
I hope that you will take the time to read more about Mary Alice through her personal testimony.
MY PERSONAL TESTIMONY
By Mary Alice Medley
I was very fortunate to have Christian parents who always guided me in the things of the Lord. My father was a minister. He lost his health at a very young age, before I was born. When I was just a few months old, I became very ill. My parents were living in a very remote area, so they could not get me to a doctor. My father anointed me, and I was healed. God had a reason for sparing my life.
When I was six months old, my parents moved back to civilization and settled in Indiana. I grew up in a small town, small school, and small church. When I was five, I accepted Christ as my Savior at my mother’s knee. The church I grew up in was quite legalistic and I found myself at the altar many times. My heart’s desire was to serve the Lord, but I had a lot of spiritual growing to do.
After high school, I attended Olivet Nazarene College (now University) for two years. Those were eye-opening days for me and experiences that enriched my life. My parents were unable to help me financially, so it was a struggle, but again, God was faithful and I am so thankful for the opportunity and the friends I made during those years.
God kept His hand on me and in 1959 I felt led to move to Kansas City to work at the Nazarene Publishing House. I started attending St. Paul’s Church of the Nazarene and am still attending the same church today. I met my husband at the church and we were married in 1963. We were blessed with two children in the next two years. Those were difficult times financially and physically, but God was faithful and provided our needs.
On Christmas Eve, 1971, I gave birth to a stillborn child that I had carried for nine months. The days and weeks following that loss were very difficult for me. I felt like no one understood, but again, God was so faithful and provided strength and guidance.
In the fall of 1972, I began working at Nazarene Headquarters (now Global Ministry Center). I worked in various areas for the Church of the Nazarene until December 2008, when Daryl fell on the ice and became disabled. I needed to stay home and care for him, and again, God was faithful to give us strength and supply our needs.
As I look back, I see the hand of God as He led me each step of the way. Today, as I face life as a widow, I sense God’s presence in my life each day. He is my shelter, my rock, my helper, my healer, my provider. He is faithful and I will serve Him as long as he gives me breath.
Holding His Hand
Illness and death are sadly a part of this world. The reason? Sin entered the world through one man, Adam, and we now live in a world filled with the effects of sinful man.
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—(Romans 12:5).
But the story doesn’t end there. Read on: (Parentheses added.)
21 For since death came through a man (Adam), the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man (Christ).22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[f]; the last Adam (Christ), a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man (Adam) was of the dust of the earth; the second man (Christ) is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man (Adam), so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man (Christ), so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man (Adam), so shall we[g] bear the image of the heavenly man (Christ).
50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[h]
55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:44-57)
God can resurrect the body–perfectly, completely and supernaturally.
Mary Alice holds an unshakeable faith in Christ. She has told me multiple times that even though she misses Daryl greatly, she looks forward to being reunited with him someday. She will also be reunited with their child, who was stillborn.
One day God will supernaturally bring our human bodies together, breathe into us His Spirit, and empower us physically for eternal life. Because of the resurrection of Christ, the process of death will one day be reversed, and death will be swallowed up in victory.
Eternal life can be found in Christ alone. If you haven’t received Jesus as your Savior yet, please click on this link for a simple prayer of faith: https://holdinghishand.org/receive-jesus/
The Bible says that Christ is preparing a place in Heaven for all who have received Him. (John 14:1-3) It will be a glorious place! A place where God will dwell with his people.
2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:2-4)
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
Personal testimony written by Joy Pedrow. Used by permission*
As a victim of rape, I thought the rape was my fault. I did not fully understand that I was experiencing the result of sin until years later. No matter the reason for the rape, it still wounded me deeply. Because of my hurt and pain, I often wondered why God would allow His children to suffer.
During the months following my abuse, God felt closer than ever before. He never moved. When I cried out in agony, He was by my side. When I prayed with tears streaming down my cheeks, He was there. When I begged Him to take away the pain, He held my hand.
He was there.
Right beside me, holding my hand, and helping me find healing. He was there and He knew this would happen. Even David knew that God was present and active in his life.
“For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began”Psalm 139:13-16.
I never would wish the pain I experienced on anyone, but you know what, God used that pain for His good and taught me a few valuable lessons.
First of all, God revealed to me that I did not know Him. I did not know the gospel. I thought I had to work for my salvation. I did not know about Grace. I did not know that I could experience God’s love in an intimate way. I thought God was a big guy up in the sky, telling me what to do, but never telling me why.
God used rape to bring me to my knees, see my need for Him, and fully surrender my life to Christ.
Secondly, God constantly uses my story for His glory. My ministry is built on authenticity and vulnerability. God gave me a story and I share it with the world, because sharing my story brings others freedom.
I experienced pain, but God has redeemed every single tear I cried.
Sin is ugly.
Pain is ugly.
Rape is ugly.
But God is beautiful.
Redemption is beautiful.
YOU are beautiful.
God may allow rape, but He is not distant, uncaring or uninvolved. If you are a victim, He is painfully aware of your suffering. I believe that night I was raped, that God was in the room. He was standing, angry, and pacing. He was MAD.
God HATES rape and will punish those who commit that sin. Read what His Word says about sexual sin:
“In this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 4:6-8
I believe that Jesus was there too. He was just as angry. Jesus felt the pain I was feeling. At that moment, the sin of the man who was hurting me was the sin that Jesus paid the price for on the cross. The immense pain I was experiencing as a result of sin was the same immense pain Jesus felt on the cross as the result of sin.
We are not alone in our suffering.
Good news, one day Jesus will bring suffering to an end.
You can choose to blame God for rape, since He allows suffering to happen, or you can blame sin. But if you choose to blame God, remember that He gave up His one and only Son for YOU. Do not place blame somewhere other than where it rightly belongs. We can choose to feel angry at God, or we can turn to Him for peace, comfort and healing. Does anger really help us find healing anyway?
God was present then and God is here now, ready to welcome you home, ready to love you and ready to help you find healing. In the midst of pain, choose to run to Him, instead of from Him, and trust in His perfect love.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” Revelation 21:4.
About Joy Pedrow
*Joy Pedrow is a second year student, pursuing a Masters of Art in Christian Education degree in women’s ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary. To know more about Joy, please visit JoyPedrow.comhttp://joypedrow.com/, where she points women to Christ so he can bring them healing from addiction and freedom from shame.
Dr. Sue Edwards is Assistant Professor of Christian Education (Specialization: Women’s Studies) at Dallas Theological Seminary and holds degrees from Trinity University, DTS, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is the author of New Doors in Ministry to Women, A Fresh Model for Transforming Your Church, Campus, or Mission Field and Women’s Retreats, A Creative Planning Guide. She has 30 years experience in Bible teaching, directing women’s ministry, retreat and conference speaking, training teams and teachers, and writing curriculum. Married to David for 34 years, she especially enjoys extended family gatherings and romping with her four grandchildren.
Some of my favorite quotes from Joy
When I cried out in agony, He (God) was by my side. When I prayed with tears streaming down my cheeks, He was there. When I begged Him to take away the pain, He held my hand.
I never would wish the pain I experienced on anyone, but you know what, God used that pain for His good and taught me a few valuable lessons.
I experienced pain, but God has redeemed every single tear I cried.
Holding His Hand
Only God knows the pain we will suffer while living on Earth. I can’t imagine knowing in advance the pain and suffering my children would incur. And if I did, I would do everything humanly possible to prevent each one.
God did know, and planned for His Son to suffer and die on the cross, to redeem the entire world from the power of sin and death. I cannot fathom this at all! However, I know this is true because I have received the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus by faith. Christ’s great and amazing love for me is what takes me through each painful occurrence, with the assurance that He is always with me. Praise be to our LORD and Savior.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16.
If you have experienced rape or any other type of severe suffering, I want you to know God desires to hold your hand and lead you to complete healing and wholeness. Like Joy, prior to her rape, you may not know Jesus as your Savior. If not, I pray that you will receive Him now. Please click on this link: https://holdinghishand.org/receive-jesus/
I encourage you to share your pain with a trustworthy Christian (friend, pastor, counselor). God places people in our lives to love and support us when we need them the most. Joy shares her personal journey of healing from sexual abuse on her website at: http://joypedrow.com/2017/01/how-to-heal-from-sexual-abuse/
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” Psalm 56:8.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be matureand complete, not lacking anything.5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt,because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.8 Such a person is double-mindedand unstablein all they do” James 1:2-8.
Did you know that God always answers prayer? His timing is always perfect and He has a beautiful plan for each person He has ever created.
I was born blue in the face. One doctor tried to give me oxygen but it wasn’t helping me, and another doctor suggested that they check my blood sugar. My blood sugar was extremely low, in the single digits. They found out that the illness I had was rare and only a few children in history had been born with it. The child who survived the longest lived to age 14 and was unable to sit up, walk, talk, or feed them self. The doctors told my parents, in this condition, I would only live to age 21. Throughout my childhood I spent a lot of time in the hospital. My parents and churches from all over the world were praying for me and for the doctors to have wisdom. They prayed that the Lord would work through them.
At age 2 the doctors decided to remove half of my pancreas which had been producing too much insulin. I was healthy for about two and a half years and then I started to get very sick again. The doctors discovered that my pancreas had grown back and was producing more insulin than it had before, so at age 5 my pancreas was completely removed. I have been a diabetic ever since. Today I am nearly 30. God answered the prayers of so many people. I have had the experience of graduating high school, college, and am now married! These are three wonderful experiences that my parents didn’t know I would ever have.
God is so good! I thank Him for each day that He blesses me with. Each day is a beautiful gift from God. As I wake up each morning and begin to tear away the paper, I can’t wait to see what He will unfold before me as I open the box. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11.
I’ve had some very hard days which have strengthened my faith in God. I’ve come to realize I don’t have to go through these times alone because I have Jesus! I know that there will never come a day in my life that will present challenges that He can’t handle through me. My goal each day is to stay as close to God as I possibly can.
Through every surgery, hospital stay, and seizure, I’ve never had to face it alone. God is there. I believe that He always has a plan. All I must do is obey if He asks me to do something, and trust Him for the results. I’m so glad my life is in His hands. I know I would not be here today without Him!
No matter what challenges you may be facing, know that you don’t have to go through them alone. God loves you and if you will trust Him and believe that He has a plan, He will be with you through any challenge, any sickness, or any struggle you may ever have to face.
About Katie Finn:
I met Katie a year ago, when my husband and I accepted a call to pastor a church where Katie and Mike are members and serve God faithfully. After only a few conversations with Katie, I learned of her life-threatening illness and unshakeable faith in Christ. Her desire to please God in all areas of life is demonstrated by her humble and gentle spirit.
Unable to drive because of her illness and having other limitations with her vision, Katie doesn’t let this deter her from living a life of purpose and joy.
God has gifted Katie with many talents, including the ministry of music. She skillfully plays the piano and the flute, and sings beautifully unto the Lord. Katie also enjoys sewing, making many of her own clothes, and preparing healthy recipes.
Katie serves alongside of her husband, Mike, as Outreach Pastors at our church (St. Paul’s Church of the Nazarene, KC, MO). They both have a tremendous heart for reaching people with the Gospel of Christ. Mike is completing his bachelor’s in biblical studies degree at MidAmerica Nazarene University, as he and Katie prepare for full-time ministry.
One of my favorite quotes from Katie’s testimony: Each day is a beautiful gift from God. As I wake up each morning and begin to tear away the paper, I can’t wait to see what He will unfold before me as I open the box.
Holding His Hand:
When all seems dark and hopeless, Jesus is there. While talking with Katie’s dad, tears filled my eyes as he retold the frightening hours/years following Katie’s birth. He said the doctors gave little to no hope of survival for their precious little girl. Katie’s parents spent endless hours lifting their hearts to God. And while confessing their anguish and fearfulness, they came to an altar of total relinquishment and trust, by praying for God’s will to be accomplished through Katie’s fragile life. The physicians’ non-encouraging consultations continued throughout Katie’s young childhood, and yet, hope and peace came through an ever-present awareness of Christ’s nearness and faithfulness.
Recommended Reading: 1 Kings 17:7-24 – Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath
6 He (Jesus) said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. (John 21:6)
When we respond to life’s difficult, and at times, reoccurring situations the same way over and over again, and keep getting the same undesirable results—possibly it’s time to cast our net on the right side.
One evening, following the resurrection of Jesus, Peter decided to go fishing. Several other disciples joined him. The Lord had instructed His disciples to meet Him in Galilee, which helps to explain why they were at the Sea of Galilee.
The Scripture tells us that the seasoned fishermen came up empty after fishing all night. I imagine they were exasperated, not to mention, tired and hungry. Then it happened! A voice from the shoreline shouted out, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” They replied, “No.” Then He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” “When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish” (John 21:5-6).
God spoke this same message to me recently. No, He didn’t tell me that I would catch a lot of fish, but He did clearly tell me that I’d been fishing on the wrong side for a very long time and coming up empty.
The parallel to Peter’s fish story:
For quite some time now I’ve been trying to fix some problem areas in my life by using my own strategies. Yes, they were prayed over and well-thought out, of course. But just like Peter, my net kept coming out of the sea of human effort totally empty.
Whatever you may be dealing with, an unsaved loved one, a difficult boss/coworker, financial woes, fear of an uncertain future, or XYZ, you don’t have to end up with an empty net.
John, the beloved follower of Christ, was the first one to recognize his Savior’s voice. “It’s the Lord!” And with this jubilant exclamation, Peter grabbed his garments and jumped in the water to meet Jesus at the water’s edge. (John 21:7)
Sometimes others will recognize the Lord’s tender voice before we do. God places these people in our lives, to give us that little extra support and encouragement…at just the right timing.
Jesus is teaching me to “really” listen to his voice when He speaks to me from His Word, or in the quietness of my spirit during prayer. He then waits for me to respond in obedience. Did I wait long enough, or did I rush off to work or jump right into the next project on my list?
Ways to clearly hear the Savior’s voice:
Listen intently – through His Word, in the quietness of your spirit
Listen intently – through those God appoints in your life, a pastor, godly spouse, friend, etc.
Act upon His command and guidance
Wait expectantly for the Big Catch!
Remember, if you keep doing the same thing over and over and over again, and continue getting the same undesirable negative results, maybe it’s time to try God’s way…even if it doesn’t make sense.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Our greatest weaknesses (either real or perceived) can become our greatest strength, when we fully surrender them to God.
Identify your weaknesses:
Lack of education
Little or no resources
When you fully surrender your weaknesses to God, through prayer, He will teach you to cast your net on the right side, and will fill your net with His abundant and gracious provision.
Holding His Hand:
I love the fact that Jesus not only waits patiently for us to follow His instructions, but He blesses our obedience by warmly nourishing our souls.
The rest of the story:
8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[c]9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” (John 21:8-12)
For further study: Judges 6-7
Read the story of Gideon, “the weakest in his family.” Going to battle against the numerous Midianites with only 300 men definitely didn’t make sense, but Gideon chose to fish on the right side and defeated the Midianites.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). (NKJV)
Born in Putnam County, New York, Fanny Crosby became ill within two months. Unfortunately, the family doctor was away, and another man—pretending to be a certified doctor—treated her by prescribing hot mustard poultices to be applied to her eyes. Her illness eventually relented, but the treatment left her blind. When the doctor was revealed to be a quack, he disappeared. A few months later, Crosby’s father died. Her mother was forced to find work as a maid to support the family, and Fanny was mostly raised by her Christian grandmother.
While she enjoyed her poetry, she zealously memorized the Bible. Memorizing five chapters a week, even as a child she could recite the Pentateuch, the Gospels, Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, and many psalms chapter and verse.
Fanny’s love of Scripture was attributed to her grandmother who cared for Fanny while her mother worked, following the death of Fanny’s father, just six months after being blinded. The faithfulness of Fanny’s Christian grandmother laid a strong foundation of faith in Christ.
Her mother’s hard work paid off. Shortly before her fifteenth birthday, Crosby was sent to the recently founded New York Institute for the Blind, which would be her home for 23 years: 12 as a student, 11 as a teacher. She initially indulged in her own poetry and was called upon to pen verses for various occasions. In time the principal asked her to avoid such “distractions” in favor of her general instruction. “We have no right to be vain in the presence of the Owner and Creator of all things,” he said.
Her love of poetry began early—her first verse, written at age 8, echoed her lifelong refusal to feel sorry for herself:
Oh, what a happy soul I am, although I cannot see! I am resolved that in this world Contented I will be.
“How many blessings I enjoy That other people don’t, To weep and sigh because I’m blind I cannot, and I won’t!”
Francis Jane Crosby went on to write more than 9,000 hymns, some of which are among the most popular in every Christian denomination. She wrote so many that she was forced to use pen names lest the hymnals be filled with her name above all others. And, for many people, the most remarkable thing about her was that she had done so in spite of her blindness.
“I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give you sight when he showered so many other gifts upon you,” remarked one well-meaning preacher.
Fanny Crosby responded at once, as she had heard such comments before. “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind?” said the poet, who had been able to see only for her first six weeks of life. “Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”
Holding His Hand
Rather than feeling sorry for herself, Fannie Crosby chose to walk by faith in Christ, not by sight. When we place our trust in the hands of the Savior, we can rest fully upon His guidance without fail. Yes, there will be times when we stumble and fall because we live in a broken world. Crises come, failure is inevitable, unfair and unkind words wound deeply, and yet, the Saving grace of Jesus tenderly walks us through times of darkness and bewilderment.
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).
While vacationing in Michigan with my husband Jeff, we purposely arranged to meet and talk with two amazing men. What makes these men so amazing is their unlikely friendship following some major turn of events in their lives. Here’s their story, as reported by Steve Hartman, CBS News April 15, 2016*.
Andrew Collins, a former Benton Harbor, Michigan police officer falsely arrested Jameel Mcgee in 2005 for dealing drugs. Jameel was sentenced to prison.
*”It was all made up,” said McGee. Of course, a lot of accused men make that claim, but not many arresting officers agree.
Andrew Collins served time for a number of crimes, including framing Jameel McGee for selling drugs
“I falsified the report,” former Benton Harbor police officer Andrew Collins admitted.
“Basically, at the start of that day, I was going to make sure I had another drug arrest.” And in the end, he put an innocent guy in jail.
“I lost everything,” McGeee said. “My only goal was to seek him when I got home and to hurt him.”
Eventually, that crooked cop was caught, and served a year and a half for falsifying many police reports, planting drugs and stealing. Of course McGee was exonerated, but he still spent four years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
Today both men are back in Benton Harbor, which is a small town. Maybe a little too small.
Last year, by sheer coincidence, they both ended up at faith-based employment agency Mosaic, where they now work side by side in the same café. And it was in those cramped quarters that the bad cop and the wrongfully accused had no choice but to have it out.
After they both served time, Jameel and Andrew now work side by side in a cafe
“I said, ‘Honestly, I have no explanation, all I can do is say I’m sorry,'” Collins explained.
McGee says that was all it took. “That was pretty much what I needed to hear.”
Today they’re not only cordial, they’re friends. Such close friends, not long ago McGee actually told Collins he loved him.
“And I just started weeping because he doesn’t owe me that. I don’t deserve that,” Collins said.
But he didn’t forgive just for his sake, even for Collins’. “For our sake,” McGee said. “Not just us, but for our sake.”
McGee went on to CBS News about his Christian faith, and his hope for a kinder mankind. He wants to be an example — so now he and Collins give speeches together about the importance of forgiveness and redemption.
And clearly, if these two guys from the coffee shop can set aside their bitter grounds, what’s our excuse?
Jeff and I sat across from Andrew and Jameel in the Mosaic Café as they reiterated their story of forgiveness and redemption.
Andrew shared he had been raised as a Christian but he had not fully trusted his life to Christ until he came to the end of himself through this journey.
Jameel clearly identified the need to “hold onto the hand of Jesus” during his four years behind bars, and now testifies to the power of God’s grace and forgiveness in his own life which ultimately led him to forgive Andrew.
Andrew told us that the Mosaic Café ministry gave him a place to not only earn a paycheck, but more importantly has allowed him to give back to the community where his corrupt lifestyle hurt so many people.
“So how did you two reconcile?” I asked.
Jameel told us that although he was extremely sad that he had missed out on four years of his son’s life while imprisoned, he was sincerely grateful for God’s intervention in his life, which had been heading down a one-way street to destruction.
After returning to Benton Harbor, Jameel was referred to the Mosaic Café ministry and was told that he would be mentored by Andrew Collins. His initial reaction: “What? No way am I going to hook up with this dude…he’s the one who sent me to prison.” But after meeting Andrew face to face, he felt God’s forgiveness fill his heart as they shook hands. Andrew admitted, he hadn’t recognized Jameel’s name when given his new mentorship assignment, but quickly realized this was the man he falsely accused and sent to prison.
Andrew told us that at first he didn’t think this would work out, and wouldn’t blame Jameel for refusing to be paired up with him. I (Charmé) believe the Holy Spirit began His work by softening Jameel’s heart when Andrew asked him “What can I do to make this up to you? I’m so sorry for everything I put you through.” Jameel said “That’s all I need!”
The two men now serve together in the Christian Mosaic Café and bring the light and the love of Jesus to others who walk through the doors of this little town café.
While waiting for Andrew to join us at our table, I overheard Andrew sharing words of hope and encouragement to a man who had just sat down at the counter to order some coffee.
God is opening new doors for Jameel and Andrew to tell their story of forgiveness and redemption to schools, churches, and other organizations across the country.
Holding His Hand
It’s easier said than done…to love our enemies and pray for them. And it’s nearly impossible without first holding the hand of Jesus. Whenever I think of people who have hurt me, and those I have hurt, it helps me to let go of past wounds by recalling these last words of Jesus spoken from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
When we hold onto bitterness toward another person (who was created in the image of God), we soon become imprisoned to our own sin. We forfeit true inner peace with God and with the person we refuse to forgive.
I am thankful to have met Andrew and Jameel, who truly live out the love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness of Jesus.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
This is a true story of an unshakable faith in the midst of great sorrow, grief, and suffering.
After returning from a week’s vacation with my husband, Jeff, I wrote the following in my journal.
“I can’t even imagine the grief, sorrow, pain, and hurt they are going through, and yet, their faith in Christ is secure.”
Jeff and I had the opportunity to attend a pastors and wives retreat in Buchanan, Michigan, at a beautiful facility called The Lodge. We spent four nights and five days with three other pastoral couples and our host couple, Ed and Gayle, who facilitated our sharing sessions.
Prior to beginning our sessions, we sensed a spirit of love and grace within the lodge. We are thankful for our prayer team who were praying for us, along with others. I know now that these prayers were not only meant for us, but also for our host couple.
We quickly learned that Ed and Gayle lost their precious adult son six months prior, through a tragic death. I don’t feel led to share any details, for they seem inconsequential in relation to the deep loss this dear couple has experienced. I will say that I’ve never been with anyone who has demonstrated such grace and faith in the midst of severe suffering. I didn’t mention the second part to their faith journey. Ed learned he had a large cancerous tumor in his bladder just a few months following his son’s death.
Ironically, I heard the following statement twice during our vacation/retreat week, “You can make your own choices, but you can’t choose your consequences.” This was spoken first by our retreat host and the second time by my sister-in-law. Both were restating what they had originally spoken to their adult sons.
I think this statement grabbed me to my core, as I thought of how God allows us to freely make our own choices in life and how these choices will either result in pleasing God or the folly of our own flesh. When we choose to go our own way, apart from God’s direction and leading in our lives, we really are saying to God, “I know what’s best for my life and I really don’t need your guidance or authority to rule over me.” Sounds familiar doesn’t it…the first sin in the garden.
My thoughts quickly race back to our retreat hosts. Although they feel that their son made some wrong choices toward the end of his life, they also know and testify to the unmerited favor of God in their lives. Throughout our week together, they shared how in the midst of heartache over the loss of their son, they are choosing to hold God’s hand as they continue to serve faithfully in the ministry God has called them to. Their unwavering faith and commitment to Christ brings hope, healing, and encouragement to pastors and wives through Life Action Ministries https://lifeaction.org/. For more information about The Lodge, please go to: http://www.retreatatthelodge.org/.
Holding His Hand
In the deepest despairs of life, God is near. His promises are true. If you are overtaken with grief and sorrow over the loss of a loved one, I encourage you to cry out to Jesus. The Psalmist declares: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:17-18).
For those wrestling with decisions, please consider the words of the Apostle Paul.
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:7-10).
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
“One hot July afternoon in 1967, I dove into a shallow lake and my life changed forever. I suffered a spinal cord fracture that left me paralyzed from the neck down, without use of my hands and legs. Lying in my hospital bed, I tried desperately to make sense of the horrible turn of events. I begged friends to assist me in suicide. Slit my wrists, dump pills down my throat, anything to end my misery!”
While angry with God and questioning His power, Joni Eareckson Tada’s friend, Steve, pointed Joni to Christ.
Joni believes God’s purpose in her accident was to “turn a stubborn kid into a woman who would reflect patience, endurance and a lively, optimistic hope of the heavenly glories above.”
If anyone knows what it’s like to suffer, Joni does. And yet, throughout the fifty plus years she’s lived as a paraplegic, Joni has given God full permission to use her life to help others and to honor Him. Joni is an artist (painting with her teeth), she’s authored over 50 books, and is the Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, an international advocate for people with disabilities. To learn more about this lovely woman and her ministry, please check out Joni’s website: http://www.joniandfriends.org/
Most of us won’t experience the same type of suffering as Joni, but everyone will eventually face some form of suffering. It could come through a broken relationship, a wayward child, indebtedness, a serious illness, and the list continues. When suffering comes, we too, have a choice to make… to hold God’s hand and allow Him to fill us with His unfailing love, grace, peace, and power to fulfill His purpose in our lives, or remain helpless and hopeless.
Holding His Hand
“My wheelchair used to symbolize alienation and confinement. But God has changed its meaning because I have trusted in Him. Now my wheelchair symbolizes independence. It is a choice I made and one that anyone can make.” – Joni Eareckson Tada
Recommended Reading: Romans 8:18-39
The words of this song capture the thrilling perspective Joni has come to know in the years since her accident:
I rejoice with him whose pain my Saviour heals. And I weep with him who still his anguish feels. But earthly joys and earthly tears are confined to earthly years, And greater good, the Word of God reveals. In this life we have a cross that we must bear; It’s just a tiny part of Jesus’ death that we can share. And one day we’ll lay it down, ’cause He’s promised us a crown To which our suffering can never be compared.
That’s why Heaven is nearer to me, and at times it is all I can see. Sweet music I hear, coming down to my ear, And I know that it’s playing for me. For I am Christ the Saviour’s own bride, And redeemed I shall stand by His side. He will say, “Shall we dance?” and our endless romance Will be worth all the tears I have cried.
Heaven Your Real Home is one of my favorite books about living for eternity.
Another book authored by Joni, Making Sense of Suffering.
Joni’s Corner: Weekly (Each Monday) encouraging thoughts shared by Joni, and her Diamonds In The Dust video series. See link below.