#183 Goodness in the Pain

 Photo by Trevor Rapp

Two realities can be true at the same time. At this point in my life, I am experiencing deep pain and unexplainable joy. My husband and I long for a child but are experiencing infertility and miscarriage. My pain is rooted in this expectation I had for my life, thinking I would already have children. While the unexplainable joy is attributed to my relationship with Jesus. When I get out of the cloud I am living under, I see the abundant blessings I have in Jesus; and for that, my soul rejoices!

I want to share my story because people need to see the goodness of God even when we experience pain. Most of the time we praise God after we have what we want because it is easy. Rarely do you hear or see people praise Him in the pain. So, I am here to share with you Jesus while we wait, even if it is forever.

Early 2019 I found out I had a miscarriage and we had already been struggling with infertility. I really was not able to process our loss until we were supposed to be welcoming our child into this world. It took me months to recognize a child was not going to be in my arms. It also didn’t help that everyone around me was telling me they were pregnant. And I mean everyone. My heart aches for what I long for and reminds me of the emptiness in my arms. I am so thankful that even in my pain, Jesus found in me a way to rejoice with my friends and even my sister, but it did look very different. My rejoicing includes a lot of tears, difficult conversations, and being present when it is the last thing I want to do. I don’t do everything perfectly, but by the grace of God, He is teaching me how to love when it hurts. 

One verse in particular that has really spoken to me through infertility is John 15:1-2: 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

I have been holding onto this verse in this longing because I can relate to this verse when I tender my plants. I prune my plants not because they are not growing or unsatisfied by the way they look, but to make them grow stronger, dig deeper roots, and have a firm foundation. We can get caught up in believing lies that God is taking something good from us or we have done something to deserve this. But I know God is pruning me to shape me more like Jesus, for His glory. He is showing me who He is—the Giver is more important than the gifts. I have realized and it is even harder to admit, but it is better to have Him without children than it is to have children and not have Him. 

I didn’t really understand how to be in relationship with the Holy Spirit. Infertility has made me more aware of the Holy Spirit inside of me. The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is inside of me! How beautiful is this! God sent His Son so we could be in union with Him. Jesus humbled Himself so that I may have eternal life with Him. The Holy Spirit taught me how to become vulnerable. It took me a while, and as I started to share more of my story, the more I felt the presence of God (see 2 Corinthians 12:9-10). It is emotionally and physically exhausting, but God is using my pain to share His good news. I don’t know if or when this pain will go away, but my response can still be pure and obedient. 

This is why I want to share my story. To provide hope in Jesus! Expectations can bring pain, while reality brings Jesus. I know God is loving, and I want people to see He is just as loving and present in the pain as He is in our happiness. I don’t want people to discount the work God is doing in their life while waiting. I am only able to glorify God because the Holy Spirit is working in me. My husband and friends can comfort me—and I believe the Lord uses them to help me—but ultimately it is the comfort the Lord provides through the Holy Spirit that is sustaining me and teaching me how to be joyful in a time of pain (see 2 Corinthians 1:3).

Jesus came to bear my burden and for me to experience Him, and this pain has allowed me to fall into His arms. I have to trust Him in the unforeseen future as He is the same God before I wanted children as He is now (see Isaiah 40:28). Infertility cannot take Jesus away, and this is why I rejoice! God does not promise children but promises Jesus! The pain is deep and may never go away, but the love of God is greater, and the promise of God stands forever. So, I lay it all down at the feet of Jesus.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#135 Peace in the Storm

 Sketch by Sam Joslin

We had been married for a year and nine months when we found out we were expecting our first baby in September of 2015. I remember looking at the test and bursting into tears of thankfulness, then seeing the look on my husband’s face of sheer and utter excitement. At the time, I was in my first year of teaching first grade and was anxiously anticipating being a mother, pastor, and teacher. I felt physically healthy during the beginning of my pregnancy, but my emotions were a rollercoaster. My husband and I were dreaming daily of baby names, nursery colors, and future family vacations. We were on cloud nine and prayed daily for a healthy baby. On October 8th, we had our first appointment for an ultrasound. We both got teary when we saw the tiny speck of life on the black and white screen, a small flickering heartbeat in the middle. Our doctor expressed some concerns at the time that our baby was measuring very small for its gestational age of nine weeks, but that it was common and shouldn’t cause any issues to arise.

The following week was a whirlwind. I started having some problems and was fearful that something could be wrong. My doctor checked and the baby’s heartbeat was noticeable, strong and flickering as before. One week later, on October 16th, I went back to the doctor for a third checkup in the same week. My husband and I could tell that there was something wrong when the ultrasound technician went quiet, the screen out of view. She left the room to get our doctor, and in my spirit, I knew what was to come. Our sweet doctor came in and told us there was no heartbeat to be found. We’d had a miscarriage. The words our doctor said blended together, a mix of “it’s very common” and “you can always try again.” My husband and I felt defeated, like we were broken somehow, and we leaned into each other heavily in that moment. In the midst of trial and pain, it’s easy to get angry with God and what we perceive His plan to be.

The days to follow were very dark and hard, yet there was an abounding peace that followed my husband and I. At the time, we were meeting in our house for our home church, and my husband, a pastor, considered canceling that Sunday so we could grieve. The message he had planned the week before was about finding peace in the storm; we knew we needed to have church in our home, and to this day are thankful we did.

The weeks and months following were blurry, emotional, and frustrating. I felt the peace of the Lord, but was still so upset that I wasn’t pregnant. It felt like everyone else I knew was in the middle of a healthy pregnancy, glowing and excited on the little squares of social media. I was given the strict order that we could not try to get pregnant for four months. As those months went on and 2016 started, I had several friends experience miscarriages. They reached out to me for comfort, guidance, and advice. My heart ached for them, but I knew that as much as my miscarriage was painful and part of my story, it was my job to share the hope and peace that God had provided me during the process of our miscarriage.

In the fall of 2016, we decided to try and start our family again. We were settled into our new house, I had started a new job that summer, and we were ready. We felt slight disappointment when a test came back negative during those first couple months of trying, but knew that it would happen. I attended a worship night with Bethel Worship in Nashville in the middle of October, the middle of our season of trying to get pregnant. A girl prayed over me as I shared my heart of wanting a baby. She prayed into my life words of encouragement, telling me that I was already a mother, that the Lord was preparing me, and that I was Hannah in His eyes (meant to have children with strong faith). At the end of her long and tearful prayer, she hugged me and shouted, “Congratulations!” She was celebrating what was to come; she was calling out what wasn’t as though it was.

Two weeks later, I was standing in the line at Walgreens, pregnancy test in hand, ready and anxious to take it the following morning. As the cashier handed me my receipt and the bag, she looked me so sincerely in the eyes and told me “congratulations.” Walking to my car, tears filled my eyes, and I felt in my spirit that that wasn’t just a hopeful phrase from a stranger; it was a prophetic promise from the Lord that we were going to have a baby. I went to sleep with peace and woke up early the next morning and took the test. I saw the word “pregnant” display on the screen.

Today, I am 29 weeks pregnant with a very healthy baby boy whom we will soon welcome into our family. My pregnancy has been filled with overwhelming peace, health, and joy. We haven’t been fearful and have trusted the whole time that our baby is healthy and that the Lord is taking care of us. The Lord is so faithful to keep His promises. The things that He begins in you, He will finish and will bring to completion.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#72 It Was Christ In Them


 Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

It was located in a storefront on the bustling street of the mid-sized township. Yesterday the church boldly opened its one door for free coffee and treats for the old town. And they dared to hope that love and expectant happiness might spread. Of course, the central heat died and couldn’t be fixed on time—which seemed par for the course. Everyone huddled in their coats and sipped on hot drinks. 

The following day, Sunday, the people brought an assortment of small space heaters—which of course blew a few fuses. But after some fiddling with switches and outlets, the place was moderately warm. They prepared for a normal day of worship. A few treats placed lovingly, coffee made pot by pot. Two greeters stationed happily to greet the faithful—the ones who came always: the elderly with canes, single young mothers with rambling and bright children, single people, young couples. This was the day to remake Jesus as King in human souls, as the faithful and tender leader—the One deserving worship. The Hopegiver. But, though the people had planted seeds and watered them, they did not make the plant grow. That was the heart-striking excitement of it all! In through the door that day new families and singles and senior citizens streamed through the door. They were not led by any human but, you could tell, by a Spirit more invested, more compassionate, more joy-filled, more merciful than any human. It was God Himself who gathered them up. The Father who sang into their souls: “Come.” Christ Himself who went ahead and behind. The Alive One, the giver of tingling expectation, was the warmth of that gathered family—strangers and friends together. 

The people scrambled to make extra coffee and find more chairs. Some had to wait to sit down to make sure the new ones had a place. In their hearts, working through love and hands, was the Holy. And joy tumbled and laughed and stood up straight with healthy pride. And it wasn’t them, it was Christ in them: the hope of glory.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#57 Rejoice And Do Not Fear Broken Things


Photo by Madeline Trent, Frames of Grace Photography

“Knowing you’re in the arms of the One and Only makes my heart ache a little less. We knew from the beginning that you were His, and we placed you in His loving hands. He alone knew the number of days your darling heart would beat, for He created it after all. I’ve never seen Jesus face-to-face, but I know He’s infinitely grander than I could ever imagine. He is so good, trustworthy, loving, and kind—but you already know that! One day He will wipe away the tears your daddy and I shed from having to let you go before we wanted to. I have big faith in the Jesus you see. He healed you right into glory, into His embrace.”

These words of love were penned in my journal on December 13, 2015 after experiencing a miscarriage the day before. Psalm 139:16 says, “You see all things; You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb; Every detail of my life was already written in Your book; You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it.”

With this as our starting place, it would be my joy to have your company for a few moments, to share His grace in the brokenness.

There were some concerns with this pregnancy, and my husband and I knew our option was to trust Jesus with the worries, fears, and unknowns (Prov. 3:5–6; Phil. 4:6). Because of the concerns, I got to have multiple ultrasounds that allowed me to hear that precious heartbeat! I didn’t realize in the moment the gift that truly was, until later in the week when the labor pains began and the sight of too much red indicated there was no longer a heartbeat. December 12, 2015 was an unusually different day, a day that began with death, but a day that was hemmed in—beginning to end—with His grace and mercy, since He already knew “every detail” of my life in advance. The Lord had prepared me, through His word and the wisdom of others, to step forward into a day that I didn’t want to embrace. As the reality of our loss took root, the Lord reminded me of the powerful words of Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Years earlier, a former Bible study teacher of mine had shared how Jesus would have said those words during the Passover meal with the disciples. If Jesus could declare those words, knowing He would be shedding red on a cross soon after saying them, then He would give us the strength to live into this day. We purposed in our hearts that the day was still worth living in and rejoicing in simply because God had created it.

Months before, that same Bible teacher had also admonished us to have the audacity “to hold tight with all your might to Romans 8:18—‘For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.’” Holding that verse closely was a soothing balm to my aching heart. Jesus knows it is scary to be us, and it was so kind of Him to have the Apostle Paul remind us that there is indeed something gorgeous in store! Also, a friend had shared with me, long before my experience with miscarriage, about a friend of hers who had lost a child at 16 weeks. Even though the loss was enormously hard, that dear woman chose gratitude. She chose to see His fingerprints of grace as she thanked the Lord for giving her that much time with her child.

As that detail of her story wedged back into my mind, I was able to see how much grace He had lavished on us as well (and I wish I could share all of it with you)! It was such a gift to be reminded to be thankful for the time God did give me with this little life. I share this story with you one year later. By the unbelievable grace of the Father, I share this story with you as another darling baby grows inside of me! I share this story with you thinking about a girl named Marie, who celebrated her birthday today in Africa (a girl we sponsor through Compassion International as a result of her sharing a birthday with our little one). I share this story with you knowing His arms of love are under me and under you.

And, do you have a moment for me to share a tad more about God’s goodness? The same month our little one would have originally been born is the exact same month that Jesus opened my womb with the gift of another life. My husband and I were stunned by the perfection of God’s timing and His sweetness to the details. As a dear woman shared with me after hearing I was pregnant, “We rejoice in the choices of our Lord! Knowing that the ones that hurt have the Healer beside of them. And the ones that bring joy have the Rejoicer beside of them! Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice!” Ann Voskamp wrote, “Never be afraid of broken things—because Christ is redeeming everything.

And Jesus is doing that right now in my story, in our family’s story. There’s so much more I’d love to share, but by now our lattes are getting cold, and the Lord has more moments for us to separately pursue this day. While it can be scary to share a glimpse of personal pain, knowing that on a human level we have a tendency to rank and compare our pain to each other’s, I pray you leave our brief time together feeling encouraged—loving Him more and trusting Him more. “O Israel, stake your trust completely in the Eternal—from this very moment and into the vast future” (Psalm 131:3).

In the words of Elisabeth Elliot, “I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.”

So, dear friend, let’s clutch our Bibles tightly, live from the truth of His promises, and love Him large through all the moments He gives us this side of eternity. You are loved beyond measure, and I can’t wait to hear your beautiful and miraculous story someday!

“May grace and peace from God our Father [and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One] envelop you” (Col. 1:2b).

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#55 A Daughter Of The One True King

Photo by Morgan Worley Photography

Today I decided to take the first step in faith toward taking control of my future. However, the most important thing to note is that I am NOT in control; I have absolutely NO control over how my life turns out, nor do I have any control over the circumstances and situations that have happened in my life thus far. I can’t turn back the clock and make things change and manipulate them to work out the way I wanted them to originally. And that is okay.

For the past several months or longer, I truly struggled with feeling God’s love. I could pour love out to others all day long, but I always felt so lonely, so unseen, so undesirable and unworthy of this thing called love. I would walk around with a smile on my face all day when I was with friends or family—and while I was truly happy during those moments, I always felt that something was missing. I fought my battles with that darkness in the dead of night—fighting back the LIES the Devil was placing in my head. During these moments, I never would allow my joy to be touched by this darkness that lurked in my life.

If you don’t already know, there is a difference between joy and happiness. You see, joy is eternal. It is the hope that we hold onto that we will one day see our Great Creator’s face, that peace will one day not only be something we’re searching for endlessly but that we get to feel every day we live. Happiness is temporary. You know that moment when you see a really cute dog and you get overly excited and ask the owner if you can pet the really cute dog? (P.S. you always ask to pet the dog, but that’s not the point.) If you get to pet the really cute dog, you become filled with this sense of happiness, but soon you’ll forget the dog and the feeling that you got when you petted it. Happiness is temporary; it fades. Joy does not. Joy is an all-consuming, never-ending, hope and peace within your soul. It’s that moment when you take the first sip of your hot coffee (or tea) sitting on your front porch at 6:30 a.m. when the birds are chirping, bees are buzzing, sun is rising, stars are fading, and the world begins to wake up, yet all seems still and calm.

Through my recent struggles, I began placing my worth and value in this person, or that job, or this grade. I viewed who I was and who I am through the lens of this world—wanting to be accepted by people or family, essentially holding onto the old and letting the new slip between my fingers. I began believing the lies this world told me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried in the last couple of weeks—but I was beginning to have to use my toes for help.

So today, I took my first step in faith to begin living my life the way God has intended me to all along. It’s a blind walk; I don’t know the treasures that are set before me, but I do know that whatever it is, it will be magnificent. I was always that girl who believed people around me are worthy of SO MUCH; that they are worth everything the world has to offer through God’s blessings; that they are worth the best of the best. But I never believed that for myself. Today that changed. As I prayed this morning, I dropped the weight of my burdens at the foot of the cross and asked Jesus to pick them up once and for all, because I could no longer carry the hurt and the weight that was pressing on my heart. I could no longer bear being sick to my stomach, not being able to eat, because I hadn’t said my peace to that person; I could no longer bear feeling like I was worthless and undesirable. And in that moment I heard the words, “You are the daughter of the one true King; walk with that knowledge.”

God and I have played tug-of-war with control here lately. “I am strong,” I would say to myself—but in all reality, I am the weakest link, and the only reason I am as strong as I am is because I have a God who loves me through my hardheaded moments, who goes to battle for me when I don’t even know it, and who carries me when I am not even strong enough to stand on my own two feet. When you only see one set of footprints in the sand, who do you think did all the walking? I promise it was not you.

Today I found the love I’ve been longing for. In Romans 8, God shows us the extent of His glorious love. The beginning of Romans 8 talks about our sinful nature, stating that because of Jesus being sent to die on the cross for you and I, we are no longer condemned if we belong to Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). By letting our sinful nature control our minds, this can lead to death (if we do not repent of our sins and ask forgiveness, we can be condemned to live eternal life in hell), but by letting the Spirit control our mind, this can lead us to life and peace (if we live to reflect God’s Spirit and give God the glory in all the things we do, this will lead to a life of eternal peace in Heaven). God’s Spirit joins with our spirit when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, affirming that we are adopted as His children, and that because we are adopted as His heirs together with Christ, we share in His glory—but we must also share in His sufferings (Romans 8:16–17).

These few verses showed me that even in the midst of my sinful nature (i.e., trying to take control of my life, creating worry, letting my anxiety and depression defeat me and not allowing God to do His job), He still loved me. He waited patiently for me to turn back to Him with full force. From Him constantly poking me on the forehead saying, “Sydney, I’m right here; hand it over, let me take care of it. You can’t handle this on your own”; to Him literally picking me up and carrying me when I felt like I just couldn’t get out of bed; to this point, right here, where I’ve handed my life back to Him—He loved me through it. He didn’t walk away when I got mad at Him; He didn’t leave me when I constantly doubted Him.

Today I allowed myself to “be still and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10b), and by doing this, I heard God speak truth into my life: Romans 8:18–19 “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are,” and Romans 8:38–39 “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I found God’s love and I am so excited to pursue Him as the one true King. Today I found my worth; I found my strength, my hope, my one true love—and though I know times will come where I fail Him (in fact, daily), I am finally able to stand firm in the belief that I am not alone. I know that I am truly loved and that my future is secure. It is okay to walk a blind walk; in fact, while it is definitely scary, it is also fun. I am the daughter of the one true King, and I deserve to be treasured as such. So do you! To the sons of the one true King, you are just as treasured, just as valuable, and just as worthy of a love so great. “Only in darkness can you find the diamond.” Persevere in the darkness; allow yourself to grow closer to God in a time where there seems to be no light. It is always in the times when God seems so distant from us that He is truly just holding out His hand waiting for you to let Him help you up. Matthew 11:28 NLT says, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#46 A Foundation That Will Never Fail

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

I have been a follower of Christ for almost two years. In those two years, I have undergone massive changes for the better. Two years ago, I could not dream of being happy without alcohol or without a boy’s attention. Two years ago, I was drowning in self-hatred, deep grudges, and comparison.

It was my sophomore year of college. I was living with three strangers that I didn’t get along with. I was working at a job that was draining me. I had failed two classes the past year, so my motivation was non-existent. A few nights after I became blackout drunk and threw up on my floor, I was at such a low point. I was angry, confused, and hated myself. Out of nowhere, and after five years of avoiding God, I started to talk to Him. The conversation wasn’t nice. I was mad, confused, exhausted, and I didn’t understand God. I was whisper-yelling at Him. I let everything off my chest that had weighed me down for five years, and just cried. I didn’t show any mercy or grace in that conversation.

What was amazing was how much grace God showed me. He listened to my tirade like a loving Father. As soon as I was done, He gave me a simple location to go to. It was a church-like location, and I had avoided church before. The first time, I went to the location, but I didn’t go in. The next week, God gave me the same location. I went into the building, found a random person, and asked for help. From there, I sat down and cried; I talked to three different people that night, all who showed me the same thing God showed me: Grace.

Fast-forward two years: I have given my life over to Christ, and while it was amazing, it has not been easy. I have had daily struggles and successes in following Jesus. However, the effort I have to put in is worth it. I am no longer that sad, angry person that relied on human attention and occasionally liquor to make me happy. I now find happiness in everything. I have an identity that no human can ever give me: daughter of the Most High King. I now have a foundation in a relation that will never fail me nor forsake me. I am not scared and confused; I am filled with childlike excitement to learn more. That couldn’t have happened if not for Jesus’ sacrifice and God’s patience. Each day, I am still shown grace upon grace by God. Each day, I seek a deeper relationship with Him; each day, He shows me more of what my heart and soul need. I fail daily, but He continues to be the loving Father that He was on the day I was at my lowest point. The thing that has brought me back countless times when I felt like I was too much to handle, too much of a burden for God—is grace.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#35 Obedience to Speak Love

Photo by Erin E. Photography

It has been the cry of my heart lately for this joy the Lord has instilled within me to spill over to His people. How sweet is this place—the place where we can stand before the Lord as the broken beings that we are and feel overwhelmed by the love He lavishes upon us when we feel so far from worthy. It is here in this place that we see that this love can’t just stay captive within us, but is meant to spread like wildfire among us. With this revelation, I have asked God to reveal my spiritual gifts to me and allow them to bless others. Being the faithful and sweet God that He is, He has done just that.

I was home in Cincinnati for the weekend and attended church with my mother one Sunday morning. We found a seat in the crowded room and began to worship. I am very observant and absolutely LOVE watching people worship Jesus, so sometimes I feel like the Lord wants me to worship by watching. When I do this, I see glimpses of heaven around the room, hearts surrendered, weights lifted, and expressions that long to see His face.

This particular morning there was a woman two seats from me that I could not seem to pull my eyes away from. She was PUMPED to be at the service. You know those people that you see at church that are about to just lose it because they are completely sold out on the love of Jesus that they may just fall out of their chair or burst through the ceiling? Yeah, well, she was one of those. It was awesome.

Worship ended and our pastor delivered his message. To be honest, I have no idea what it was about, because the whole service I heard the Lord telling me something about this girl that He wanted me to share with her. Me being the sometimes doubtful person that I am, thought to myself, No, this isn’t from the Lord; I’m making this up. I kept going back and forth in my head the entire service, and by the end of our pastor’s message I decided that I wasn’t going to say anything to her. Usually when I feel the Lord is wanting me to speak or deliver a message to someone, my heart is beating out of my chest, but it wasn’t in this particular case, so that’s what further supported my reasoning to not say anything. Shortly after thinking this, my heart began to beat really fast and I could hardly stand keeping the words in any longer. I was still dead-set on not saying anything though. But as we all know, God is persistent, strong, and fierce with his love, so He was not content with stopping there.

Before our pastor got off stage, he said, “I feel like there’s someone in the room that has a gambling problem and I want to tell you that he wants to deliver you from that. I just had to say that; I couldn’t be disobedient to the Lord.”

I then thought to myself, You’re funny God. Fine, I’ll tell her; I can’t be disobedient either. I tapped her on the shoulder and said, “The Lord has been speaking to me about you this whole service, and I’m not sure what this means to you but I feel like the Lord wants you to know that He is so proud of you and is holding the weight that you surrendered to Him.”

The woman began to weep. She reached out and hugged me for quite some time, crying in my arms while I whispered, “You’re beautiful” in her ear, and I just held her for a minute. I looked at her one last time, smiled, and went on my way.

I don’t know the story behind it all or what this meant to her, but I do know on that very day the Lord used the cry of my heart to speak love and life into hers, and for that I will be forever grateful. He hears our cries, he puts courage in our bones, and he uses His children to speak the language that only He could create—love. To Him alone be the glory.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#25 His Love And Light Lead The Way

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

I laid down ‘my career’ to follow Him.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. (Philippians 3:7-8) 

I was baptized at Southland Christian Church on Easter of 2009. Having participated in my first Bible study just three months earlier, I was seeing Light for the first time and in awe of God. My life was surrendered that day and the pastor said that God would do a circumcision on my heart to remove whatever is blocking me from Him. Just three days later, the earth shook. My role with my company suddenly was changing and the Lord, in His love and grace, gave me a choice to make… Continue working in the glamorous industry of sports or lay it all down to follow Him. Thirteen years had been spent building “my career”… working for major companies, high profile people, and championship-level programs. I knew in my heart that God was calling me to do something else. So eight days following baptism, my resignation was submitted… laying down “my career” to follow Him. The next day, the Lord led me to write my testimony, repenting of a work-a-holic lifestyle where “my career” was the center of my universe. I had been a perfectionist, independent in about every way, materialistic, and in the race to be first. The Lord helped point me to a new vision with Hebrews 11:1 leading the way, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

I was hoping for three things in life…

  1. God’s grace

  2. That I do His will

  3. For that great, Christian man He has for me (whenever that may be)

And that my life would be…

  1. Full of faith and love for life

  2. Every day an exploration

  3. Every year a “Bucket List”

  4. Healthy and fit physically… in-sync with a free and joyful spirit

  5. Making a difference

  6. A bright light

  7. Balanced personally and professionally

  8. Valuing every dollar ($0 debt, saving, giving and receiving)

  9. Connected in a special way with people, animals and the earth

  10. Rock solid in God’s word

I also had a new passion for helping broken people and felt called to be a leader working for a great cause.

Seven adventurous years have gone by since then and the Lord is so good and faithful. The whole miracle of life is found in Jesus. In him we live with God’s eternal love and infinite grace… and He is that which truly fulfills us. For so many years, I sought fulfillment and happiness in career accomplishments and success, busy doing one deal after the other, and one task after the next. Now, His love and light lead the way and I pray to be thankful and content in whatever season we may be in. Love is patient, this I now know.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God had done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God”. (Ecclesiastes 3:11-13).

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#15. The Artistry Of God

Photo by Erin E. Photography 

When I was 12 years old, it was discovered that I had an inherited disease that would eventually cause my body to become deformed. In fact, the deformation had already begun. When I was 13 years old, the doctor told my parents that my internal organs were being compressed and I must have surgery or I would die. The first surgery included the implanting of a rod and the grafting of a bone—but that surgery failed, as did the second surgery. I spent weeks in the hospital. After a third surgery, I was sent home with a cast that covered nearly half my body. I wore that hot, heavy, itchy cast for nine months—not able to shower, sit at my desk at school, or wear normal clothes. Unfortunately, after the cast was removed, the deformity continued to worsen.

Because the doctor was able to only partially correct my problem, chronic pain and embarrassment have plagued my adult years. Now, decades later, when I reflect upon the “Why?” I know that God has worked everything out for good in my life and the lives of others. I am now a health care professional and I know that I am more empathetic, compassionate, gentle, and understanding with my patients because of my own suffering.

I also believe that because I spent so much time in the hospital and recovering indoors, I developed a profound appreciation for nature. I can remember when I was first strong enough to get outside a bit while recovering from the surgeries. I walked around the perimeter of our backyard, which was separated from a farm behind us with a fence lined with trees and brambly bushes. The sky was a beautiful blue, the birds were singing, and the sun was warm on my skin. I soaked it in and experienced pure JOY and GRATEFULNESS to God. Being denied God’s beautiful creation for so long had given me new eyes and a new heart of appreciation for the beauty of nature. My eyes were opened to the artistry of God, and to this day, my eyes remain open to the wonderful free gifts we have in God’s creation.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.