God Can and Does Use Our Stories of Pain for a Purpose

Our stories matter. Not only the blessings, but also painful experiences. Shame or the fear of rejection can tell us not to talk about the hard parts. But other hurting souls need to hear them to feel less alone and more understood. And it’s the pain of the journey that makes God’s loving rescue and redemption shine even more gloriously.

“Carry one another’s burdens
and in this way you will fulfill
the requirements of the law of Christ
[that is, the law of Christian love].”
Galatians 6:2 AMP
“He consoles us as we endure the
pain and hardship of life so that
we may draw from His comfort and
share it with others in their own struggles.”
2 Corinthians 1:4 VOICE
Meaningful Quotes

“To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.” (Brennan Manning) 

“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.” (Brennan Manning)

“Our stories of pain, adversity and overcoming in Christ are meant to serve as a testimony of God’s faithfulness and power, evidence that God really can take what the devil meant for evil and use it for good.”  (Tracie Miles)

“Because God gave you your makeup and superintended every moment of your past, including all the hardship, pain, and struggles, He wants to use your words in a unique manner. No one else can speak through your vocal cords, and, equally important, no one else has your story.” (Charles R. Swindoll)

“Out of fear, we repress, reshape and retell our stories in a way that displays our highlight reel instead of our messy behind the scenes acts. Although this version might seem easier to tell and may be well accepted, we do ourselves and others a huge injustice. When we tell a “highlight” story, we actually dull the very weapon God has given us to conquer the enemy, set people free and empower others.” (Kaitlin Garrison)

Scars
by I Am They
“Waking up to a new sunrise
Looking back from the other side
I can see now with open eyes
Darkest water and deepest pain
I wouldn’t trade it for anything
‘Cause my brokenness brought me to You
And these wounds are a story You’ll use
So I’m thankful for the scars
‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart
And I know they’ll always tell of who You are
So forever I am thankful for the scars…”

7 Days of Soul Care (Book Review)


gods-love-sets-me-free-from-the-chains-of-letting-fear-of-others-control-me-e1476934404221

I feel nudged to repost this book review from nearly two years ago. The truths in this book are so needed in our lives and in this world. As I revisit these truths, they have again comforted my heart. I hope they will encourage yours, too.

Does your spirit feel empty, discouraged, and confused? Does it feel like you’re missing something important in your life? Do lies about God, yourself, or others torment you? Do you long to grasp your identity in Christ Jesus? Do you crave a deeper relationship with God?

Wearying of trying to fit her circle into the square expectation of certain key people, Dolly Lee prayed and asked God to show her how He created and designed her. God answered her prayer and led her on a deeper experience of His love.

The journey was far from easy. Through valley lows and mountain highs, God led her on a journey of self-discovery and a deeper experience of His love that can transform and redeem brokenness to beauty.

7daysofsoulcare_mockup2-e1476393741791

Dolly’s personal battle with anxiety, depression, and  PTSD, and God’s transformation through His love and grace has birthed a book that will resonate with many. 7 Days of Soul Care: A Guide to Letting God Do the Extraordinary With Your Ordinary  “invites readers to surrender fear and to courageously embrace the journey of living more fully into his or her amazing true identity as God’s Beloved.”

Through creative (and some vulnerable) stories, Scripture, soul-searching journal questions, and heartfelt prayers, Dolly gifts us with highlights of what she learned over the past 17 years and continues to learn. With love and compassion, she invites us into a deeper relationship with God.

The top three takeaways Dolly wants readers to take to heart are:

God created you in love and for love.

God sees you as a masterpiece.

We won’t be able to fully receive God’s love when we believe lies about God, ourselves, or others.

myself-as-god-created-quote-e1477428724694

Some of my favorite quotes, one from each day, are:

Being exceptional begins with our connection with God. It has taken me decades to learn relationship with God begins first with our “being” and not with our “doing.”

We have worth because we are created in God’s image.

When I admit and experience my own brokenness and my failure to love well, I see in contrast God’s tender love and grace welcoming me back home. He calls me to rest my weary head on His chest. I don’t need to live by my own limited strength.

The more I remind myself of God’s unconditional love for me, the more I walk in freedom from people–pleasing and perfectionism.

Remember that the cross and not your circumstances are the measure of His great love for you.

I travel away from God whenever I forget I have all I need in Him and instead seek my soul’s fulfillment elsewhere.

It isn’t selfish to make time to care for our minds, souls, and bodies.

Life can get so busy, but that’s all the more reason to rest and nurture our souls. Our time will not be wasted as we read this book slowly and carefully so we can soak in refreshment for our thirsty, weary souls.

“I am the Vine; you are the branches.
The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit,
for [otherwise] apart from Me
[that is, cut off from vital union with Me]
you can do nothing.”
John 15:5 AMP

If you purchase this book, you will be contributing to a worthy cause – the International Justice Mission, a ministry that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. Dolly’s hope is to raise at least $500 out of her royalties for this book.

A Child's Trust

When Dolly needs to remember what is true about God and herself, she listens to songs. One of the songs she listened to during the writing process was “Here’s My Heart” by Casting Crowns.

dolly

Dolly Lee believes God’s love can transform a person from the inside-out if one surrenders to His love. She’s thankful God’s grace allows second acts and second chances. She attends Fuller Seminary and writes at her blog Soulstops.com where she invites readers to stop and connect with God. She lives with her family and one lovable dog in California where she loves to hike, read, share meals and laugh with family and friends. Her goal is to collect enough in royalties from the sale of her book, 7 Days of Soul Care, to donate $500 to the work of International Justice Mission.

* The two images were created by Dolly’s daughter.
* I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book but I was not paid to write this review. This is my honest review, based on information from Dolly and my own opinion.

signature2

Jesus Longs For Us to Find Refuge Under His Wings of Love

Courtesy of Heartlight
“Like a bird protecting its young,
God will cover you with His feathers,
will protect you under His great wings;
His faithfulness will form a shield around you,
a rock-solid wall to protect you.”
Psalm 91:4 VOICE

God often uses birds as an analogy of His loving care and protection over us. When an April snowstorm hit us, I watched a visible sign of this truth. A house finch pair already had a nest outside my office window. It was amazing to see how they kept the eggs warm and did not leave them to find shelter for themselves. The eggs did hatch and the parents faithfully fed, cared for, and protected them. If the little ones needed more warmth or were afraid, they snuggled more deeply under the wings of their mother.

Birds will sacrifice their own lives to keep their young ones safe. I once heard a story of a mother bird whose blackened and dead body was found by rangers after a forest fire. One of them bumped her body with a stick and out popped three little chicks alive and well. She could have flown to safety, but she remained to protect her beloved young and give her life for theirs.

Though a bird will give its life for its young, there are times when it has no power against much stronger enemies. That will never happen with God. He is invincible. There is no enemy too strong for Him. We can always find refuge under His Almighty wings of safety in the storms of life. 

And there will be storms, because we are part of this sinful, fallen world. As long as we are on this earth, physical, mental, and emotional losses in various forms will continue to cause heart-rending grief, anxiety, and fear.

We all need a Shelter, a Refuge, a Safe Savior in these storms.

Jesus mourns when we don’t choose to find refuge underneath His loving, shielding wings. When Jerusalem rejected Jesus and His love, He wept (Luke 19:41). He voiced His sorrow in Luke 13:34b:

“How often I have longed to
gather your children together,
as a hen gathers her chicks
under her wings,
and you were not willing.”

Jesus longs for us to find refuge under His wings of love and safety. He longs for us to believe He willingly gave His life for us to rescue us from sin, eternal death, and Satan. He longs for us to take it to heart that He loves us so much that He suffered an excruciating death for us to keep us safe.

Yes, it’s hard to trust there is safety under His wings if our trust has been horribly betrayed or if we are so confused about what love really is. It took me many years to believe I can trust Him. To believe His intentions toward us are always honorable and life-giving, not hurtful and life-taking.

Even if we hesitate to take shelter beneath His loving wings, He never stops loving us or caring about us. His wings are always open, entreating us to find refuge in Him. His patience knows no end!

Lord, thank You for loving us so much and longing for us to take shelter in You. Please help us to trust You with all our hearts. Take away all the roadblocks that keep us from fleeing to find refuge in You. Take away all the trust issues we may have in our hearts. Take away all our self-sufficiency. Please help us to snuggle underneath Your wings of loving care with all our restlessness, anxiety, and fear. Help us to picture Your protective wings around us whenever we step forward into places or situations that make us feel so afraid and untrusting but yet will help us on the road to healing the brokenness within us. Help us to be dependent on You and Your all-sufficient grace in whatever struggles we go through in this life. Thank You that Your wings of love and safety are invincible.

Your Wings
by Lauren Daigle