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For Such A Time As This

It is so awesome to see how God works things out.  His hand is so evident in our lives if we just watch for it….. wait for it…..expect it.  Never in my life have I been so ready to see the Father “work it.”  Yeah, I am still struggling in areas of my life, we are still uncertain in our finances, mothering is still hard, BUT and it is a big BUT….instead of being afraid of all of that I am ready to see HIM bring it down. 

This is what I am talking about…..yesterday I started a new Beth Moore Bible study on the book of Esther.  I have been anticipating this study for a while, ready to get back in to the Word, and ready to have Beth Moore, bring it….. if you have done one of her studies and or have heard her speak you know what I mean.  Although I was looking forward to the study, I had no idea what direction it was going to take and how it was going to apply to my life and  I am doing the study at FBC so there is some trepidation for me in returning each week to a place of such hurt and disappointment (trusting that the Father knows why I am back and what He is going to use me for). 

Anyway, here are a few things that Beth Moore said…

1. in the book of Esther there is a total absence of any reference to God….(didn’t know that)….doesn’t mean that His Hand isn’t on it…after all it is part of God’s Word.

2. Esther provides an important perspective on the providence of God.  Providence being, “God conceived as the power sustaining and guiding human destiny.” God attends to the ordinary, seemingly trivial and mundane not just the momentous events and people. 

3.  There is as much to learn about God when He doesn’t make Himself known.  The character of the unseen God and his covenant is still carried out through the simpleness of life…..It is on purpose…there is no coincidence

4.  The absence of His name puts a God-ordained emphasis on the human responsibility.  Esther dealt with what we dealt with and she had a choice to make.  God is going to fullfill Christ’s destiny with or without me, but He isn’t going to fullfill mine with out me. 

     My words….. I have to jump on board, get committed, follow the Father.  Often it isn’t about seeing with my eyes, but seeing through faith….and believing that even when I can’t see/feel the Father….He is still there…So in those moments like the last year when it seemed as if God had jumped ship, like His name was not written in the story of my life doesn’t mean that His hand wasn’t on the story of my life.  He was there, but I had to trust what I knew about Him, I needed to contribute through my faith in Him and walk toward my destiny in Him holding His often unseen hand.  Last year, I was so afraid that things weren’t going to work out, I was crippled by the feeling that God didn’t care… and I thought I knew that because He wasn’t working everything out like I told Him to. I have based my belief in the Father’s care for me based on the actions I thought He should take. 

So as I sat there listening to Beth, yes we are on a first name basis, I kept reflecting on the last year of my life and how alone I felt, wishing that I had had this study to encourage me and wondering why now…….Well, I still don’t know the answer to that except that in hindsight I see that the Father was already beginning to show me these things.  He has already brought me through that season and maybe now He is going to reveal through this study and His Word the why…..and even if He doesn’t explain the why He is helping me articulate what He has already been ministering to and teaching me.  As Beth said, Esther is a book about tremendous hope.  I have been down that dark and lonely road making choices to keep God away and not choosing to see Him as He is, but no more……As it says in Hebrews 12:1…it is my race to run….and even when His presence isn’t visible it is still there as I step forward in faith walking into the destiny the Father is only going to fullfill with me.  Here I am, For Such A Time As This!!!!

Follow along with me on this journey through Esther….. I hope to update you as I move through.

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or TOTs as we like to call them.  I found a blog I think will become a great resource for you and……I will be writing for it as well.  This new blog is the creation of Carisa, homeschooling mom to two boys, one of them a tot, over at 1+1+1=1.  She has gathered together some moms with “expertise” in specific areas to create this blog focused on tots. 

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At Totally Tots, you will find spiritual encouragement (Get Real with God), ideas for teaching tots from the Bible (Bible Bites), funny stories and pictures submitted from other moms just like you (Giggle Time), simple crafts to do with your tots (Crafty Corner), health and nutrition tips for you and your toddler (Did You Know), homeschooling ideas and tools that are easy and simple to make for your tot (Simply Made), and tips from real moms on what is working for them (Totally Working for Me).  You should be able to find resource for all areas of you mothering life and even somethings just to encourage you as a person…imagine that …..we aren’t just mothers?!?!

Anyway, go check it out… currently there are some great resources for making February, the Love Month, fun and meaningful for your kiddos.  Also, take the time to submit one of the great things I know you are doing with your children.  I am always looking for new things to try and knowing that another mom with kids my age has tried it and it worked is always helpful. 

Look for me under, Get Real with God (encouragement for moms).  I am sharing the writing duties for this section with another mom named Heather ,who is taking the first several post.  I am busy now cooking up some posts on expectation and giving ourselves the grace that our Father gives us. 

I hope you will go check it out, add yourself as a follower and get connected with other moms and ideas that will encourage and inspire you as you grow as a mom. 

Post a comment here and let me know that you went and checked it out.  I would love to hear what you think.

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You know how when you are at the beach or on a lake all the houses have names, The Smith Shack or the Wilson’s Hide-a-way, etc….????  You know?  Well, we landed directly into a place like that.

So we left Utah last Wednesday (see post below) fully expecting to move directly into this older farmhouse that our friends were able to get us into for a month.  We new we were going to have to move at the beginning of August and while I was thankful that we had a place for at least that long, I was dreading yet another move, that and unpacking for 4 weeks was not really something I was looking forward to.  So we reached Oregon on Thursday and on Friday my mom called with a great offer from their friends.. our families friends… friends who own the above house and view.  They offered us rooms in their house for as long as we need.  This is an fabulous house and an amazing gift to us.  The older boys have beds in a huge playroom (I didn’t need to bring in their toys) with a bathroom, we have our own room and bath and Eyob has his own bed and bath (not sure what he is going to use it for), and those are only half the rooms.  We have more than we need to be totally comfortable.  It is such a blessing to us.  Did I mention that it is right on a lake?  We have spent a couple of mornings/afternoons playing in the water and on the beach… what a great opportunity for the boys, especially after not having a yard in Utah. 

In what felt like the eleventh hour, God came through and gave me what I needed.  It isn’t my own house, but maybe for this time it is even better. It is a divine placement.  God moved us out of our own plans (pretty obviously) and into his… I have no idea what he is doing, what he has planned, why we are here (in Washington that is) other than the job, but I have no doubt that if I can cling to the Father, relax and let go of the need to know, the need to plan, and to have it all under control, then He my Father will lead us.

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So we are outta here.  Brandon is driving the Budget truck loaded with out boxes and pulling his Honda, packed to the gills.  I am driving the Mazda full of the boys and toys and snacks.  Yesterday was an exhausting day, but with the help of Susan and Cassie, who watched the boys all day, the Trostruds and a couple of wonderful high-school boys who helped us load the truck, and Aggie and Suku who made us a wonderful dinner we were able to go to bed by 10:30 and have little enough to do this AM that I can post. 

Funny thing… we put our house on the market at the beginning of July and left for Oklahoma.  While we were there we had a showing every other day (about 8 or so).  When we got home I prayed a quick prayer that God would give us one weekend without showing the house so that we could pack without interruption… I guess he wanted to give us two weeks… So since we have been home, not one call.  Well my wonderful friend and Realtor, Kelly, called last night and said we have a showing today at 4:30.  Can you believe how perfect God’s timing is.  Pray with us that our house would sell.  Remember we only have a place to stay for a month….

Pray for us as we drive… peace and safety would be nice.

I will be off line for a few days.. maybe a week.  Love to you all!  See you in Washington.

Bye UTAH!!! and FRIENDS!

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I can still remember, like it was yesterday, the day I loaded up our suburban (with the help of my parents) said goodbye to a house we had just built, my best friends, and a town I had lived in for 17 years, the place I had spent the first 10 years of my marriage and had my first two babies… a place I never really thought I would leave.. and set off down the road on a “great adventure” to Utah, a place I had only driven through, where my husband had been for the last three months, and what would be my new home.  I never expected to like it here, but I knew that I was going to give it a good shot.  I had a chance to “reinvent” myself, a new start and I wanted to make the most of it, even though my heart felt like it was going to break and I couldn’t imagine ever feeling better.

We new that we were supossed to come here.  We needed to get away and to make it on our own as a family.  Utah has been a refuge for us. After an intense time of struggle with our church back home, it was been a safe haven for us. A place to rest, refresh, and transform.  I have learned so much being out here on “my own” away from family and all I had known for 17 years.  God has changed me, molded me and refined me into a person that is much more what I should have been and want to be.  I am so thankful for the people who have come along side me here.  Who have been my family for the last two years and who have allowed me to be who God wants me to be… so it is with much sadness (two years ago I never would have believed I would say this) I say good-bye.

Looking back on my time here, I can see how God has strategically placed people and events in my life that have radically changed who I am today.  I remember my friend Jenn told me when I left Shelton that in the first two weeks of being in Utah, I had to find a MOPs group and join.  So I did and there I met a wonderful girl named Heather (as well as lots of other great friends) who invited me to the Draper MOMS club and there I made some wonderful friends who invited me over, introduced me to fun places around the valley, had a wonderful baby shower for Eyob, brought us dinners when we got home from Ethiopia, and who continue to be a source of encouragement to me.

Who knew that that first visit would lead to me becoming one of the coordinators for our churches two MOPS groups and meeting some of my truly favorite people here in Utah.  Women who have walked beside me these last 6 months encouraging me and praying for me all while we served together. Thank you MOPS friends.  I am truly going to miss you this coming year and you will be in my prayers.

Through South Mountain Community Church, I have gone on a wonderful women’s “wild” weekend, participated in 4 life changing Bible studies and made some wonderful life long friends.  Friends who have challenged me.  Cassie and Susan I am so thankful that God brought us together that first study.  I am going to miss you sisters.

Driving away from Shelton two years ago, I never would have imagined that I would connect to a place and to the people so much in such a short amount of time, but I have and I will always be greatful for this stop in Utah along the path the Father has laid out before us.

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yeah that’s right you know how it goes….

Anyway….. I think that God is teaching Brandon and me that the best laid plans are really out of our hands…. Where we are sitting right now with a house full of boxes, getting ready to move back to the Shelton, WA area is not where we had planned to be 4 weeks ago, let alone 6 months ago.  We are realizing now how little we actually have figured out.  We know that we have a job, Praise the Lord.  We know we have a place to stay for free for a month, after that who knows, especially if our house doesn’t sell.  We know that we are leaving next Wednesday and heading west.  We know that the Father loves us, and other than that we really don’t know anything.  As hard as that is, I am far more accepting of it than I would have been 2 years ago.  I am learning to trust in the Father’s love for me even when it feels like what I am experiencing is not good.  As Brandon keeps reminding me, “Don’t you think your Daddy wants to give you every good thing.” So to this I cling as we continue to put the fiishing touches on our packing, say good-bye to some great friends, whom we will really miss, and head out.

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Sometimes I really hate making decisions…… it seems like that is all I do.  I make decisions for myself, for each of the boys, often times for Brandon and many times a day for the family.  By the end of the day I am pretty much done in, so when Brandon asks me what I want to watch on TV, I think I must just look at him with a blank look on my face.  I imagine myself… eyes glazed over, mouth open, and staring at who knows what…..so this past week and a half as we have made some huge decisions about our future, I find myself at the end of this week needing a bib and a vacation.  A bib to collect the droll that must be coming out of my mouth as I sit almost comatose before the computer and a vacation to recuperate from these last 6 months.

As you may know we have spent the last six months, not only getting to know a new son and trying to figure out how to be a parents to three little boys and how to run a family of five, but also taking a new direction with Brandon’s job.  There have been many ups and downs along the way.  We take a few steps forward with our boys and then seem to find ourselves many feet back. With the job situation it seems like we have walked through many open doors only to find a wall at the end of the hallway.  At this point our plans were to be settled into Brandon’s new “job,” to feel stable as a family of five and well into working our way through the adoption of an older child we met while in Ethiopia (we were just waiting for our six month transition period to end).  But it seems like God has other plans.  One week before our 6 month mark, another family stepped in to adopt this child that we so felt like God was calling to be our child.  We had been praying for her the whole time and imagining her as part of our family.  At the same time many of the opportunities Brandon was “running,” down over the last six months are being met with closed doors, which leads us to a week of huge decisions needing to be made. 

In the last week, we have bought a cheaper car (ever heard of a micro-van?), done numerous around the house fix-it projects, put our house up for sale, interviewed many moving companies and made the decision to pursue a job back in Washington. So there it is….in a strange twist of events…we are headed back to the Northwest. 

I am not sure how I feel about all of this except to say I am in a daze.  Things have happened so fast and so unexpectedly and not at all like we had planned that I don’t quite know what end is up.  I do know that we have risked a lot following the path that we feel God has led us down these last few months and I am tired. Risk is scary and learning to trust in the Lord is hard work… maybe I have made it hard work because I want to hold on to so much of the control.  I do know that so much in the last few months has been uncertain and so to have some certainty before us will be a refreshing change.  Yet leaving is always hard. 

 

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One of the great things that I have been learning through these last months is that my Abba Father is a Father of Love. All of my “Christian” life I have been told, or read, or sung about His love but haven’t really understood the depths of it.  I have allowed my own ideas of what love is to represent what my Papa’s love is.  How short my love falls, so I have assumed that His love must fall short as well.  The love that we see around us in this fallen world is so deceiving, so empty, so fickle and when we try to grasp the Father’s love we can only really see it in how we love. But what a mistake that has been for me. 

I have been seeking over the last 6 months to see, not this natural world, but the spiritual world in which I am called to live and I have begun to catch glimpses of the Father, through the Holy Spirit. Glimpses that are transorming me from the inside out.  Seeing God through the eyes of my heart with the Holy Spirit as my guide, I am able to see what I have been missing.  My Father’s love is not conditional, it is not faltering, it doesn’t end even when mine does or should I say especially when mine does.  Infact, when my love begins to fail His love begins to shine.  Seeing Him as He truly is not as my human mind can comprehend, but as the Spirit living in my comprehends, I am changed. 

Oh, how great is the LOVE the Father has poured out on me.  Though my circumstances maybe hard and the path of my life may be taking turns that I had not planned, my Heavenly Father is all about love.  He is not a God of punishment. He is a God of redemption.  I am so greatful that His love is not like mine.  Open the eyes of my heart Lord, open the eyes of my heart. I want to see you. I want to see you. 

His love reaches into even the smallest areas of my life.  Hence the above picture… this is going to be silly to you I am sure, but oh so meaningful to me.  This little picnic table is a symbol to me right now of God’s interest in my life and His willingness to show me love in the smalles of things.  The story behind the table…..

For a while now I have been wanting to buy a picnic table for the boys, to have a place where they can eat and draw and play with playdough outside… really who thought playdough was a good idea?  Anyway, I haven’t wanted to spend the kind-of money that buying one in a store would cost, so last weekend during Daybreak’s community garage sale, I got the boys in the car, filled them with snacks, and proceeded to drive through the neighborhood looking for a picnic table.  Before I started I said a little prayer and asked God to find us one…and for once truly believing that my Papa would actually LOVE to do this for us and guess what?  He did, not 5 minutes later on the curb sat this beautiful, in prestine condition table with three seats, one for each little boy…..and to top it off, it only cost the cash I had in my purse at the time.  I was so thrilled and touched that God cared enough about me and my boys that He reached down into my small little life and blessed me with what I asked for. 

I know simple things, but you know what?  When we start to attribute the good in our lives to our Heavenly Father it is amazing what we see.  He loves us…me…. you…..

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A must read!

I finished this book about a month ago and have been ruminating on it and wanting to blog on it since then. So here goes…

This is probably one of the most life impacting books I have ever read and I read a lot.  It is a modern allegory that brings the message of God’s love straight to the heart.  Before I read this book, God was already preparing me to hear His message and so when I finally did read it I was blessed beyond what I can put into words. 

I don’t want to ruin the story for you, but basically a man (Mack) who is struggling with the loss of a child has an encounter with God… really with the Trinity (Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu) that basically helps him shake off, what the author refers to as, his “Great Sadness.”  Let me just say this is no ordinary encounter.  God shows up in a form that will probably throw some of you off, but keep reading.  So much of what I read, I knew already, but it was communicated, through this story in such a way that I couldn’t help but be changed. While the main character is a man, I still identified with him in so many ways. Many of “his” questions were questions I have been asking lately and so much of what was revealed to him by this encounter with his Papa was revealed to me in a fresh way that penetrated my soul.  Mack was a broken man, a man struggling to make it through the day with his faith in tact and so often that is where I am at. 

 There is much in this book that will rock your stereotypical religious boat, which I think know was intended.  Don’t let that disuade you from reading it.

I spent much of the boys nap time yesterday making notes in my journal about what I read and what stood out to me….what changed me…. and I still have over a quarter of the book to write about.  Here are a couple of the things that I wrote down (much will need to be blogged about in seperate posts). some of the following words are mine, but most are a paraphrase from the book..

God is about relationship…..Only God can set us free, but freedom can never be forced. Freedom is a process that can only happen inside a relationship with the Trinity.

God is LOVE-

God is NOT who I thought He was… He is sooo much more.

God is not a punisher, He is a reedeemer.  Sin is its own punishment.  It is God’s purpose and joy to cure sin not punish it.  My choices (sin) cause hurt and suffering.  God is not evil. I am the one who embraces fear and pain and power. But my choices are not stronger than Gods purposes and He will use every choice I make for the ultimate good and most loving outcome.  When I realize, believe, and live in this, I am free to have a relationship with Him.  Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved. 

All the “bad” in the world is NOT justified by God, it is redeemed by God. 

I could go on and on, but I would rather you read the book yourself.  If you love a good story than you will enjoy this book.  If you want a fresh word from the Lord, you will want to read this book.  If you are struggling to feel the love of your Father in the midst of your pain, then read this book.  If you want to feel the loving arms of your Papa around you in a real, loving, and almost physical way, dive into this book head first, expecting Him to meet you on the pages.  I don’t think you will be dissapointed. 

If you have already read this book… please comment…. I would love to know what you think.  After you read it come back and comment as well.

The Shack by William P Young

 

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As many of you who have been reading my blog over the last few months know  it has been obvious I am sure how much I have struggled.  As I have walked through this desert time, this “mourning time” I have begun to see what, maybe, Christ had in mind for me. 

Shortly after returning home, in December, I was taking a little mommy break at Barnes and Noble. Perusing the Christian book section…… I came across this book by Henri Nouwen.  Ordinarily I would not have been familiar with him, but my dad had mentioned him quite a few times on his blog and had forwarded me some daily devotions from Nouwen’s website as well.  Anyway, Sunday morning, the boys were playing quietly downstairs, Brandon was trying to catch up on some sleep and I sat down and finally picked up, Turn My Mourning into Dancing (TMMID) and was blessed immeasurably just by the first chapter.  So much so that it has been ruminating in my brain for the last two days.  I even interupted Extreme Home Makeover last night to read everything I underlined to Brandon. 

I feel like I have experienced quite a bit of grief over my 33 years and through many of the experiences, I often felt isolated and alone….separated from people, as well as, God.  I tried as hard as I could to either change my circumstances, forget my pain, or stumble painfully along hoping that at some point it would go away and I would be able to move on.  I have spent many months at a time wishing away my uncomfortable circumstances, shaking my fist at God and or begging HIM to change my life. 

Even though I was raised in the church, I was not ever really taught how to deal with loss or hurt in a Biblical way.  In fact, if I am being totally honest… I think the church set me up for failure.  I think what I really learned from the church is that if you are a “good” christian you will not let your grief/loss/struggles get you down.  You will praise the Lord and move on.  You should ignore your pain because if you spend to much time in it you are sining.  I have heard every platitude possible, all well meaning I am sure, but useless none the less.  I think that the church places such an emphasis on being happy and that any sadness is not part of the Christian life.

Along the same lines… the world tells you that if life ain’t right get a new one.  If you’re not in love any more, move on.  If you don’t like your friends trade them in.  If you don’t like the body you have been given work harder.  If you aren’t happy, dig deep into your “inner” self and find your che(pretty sure I didn’t spell that right..oops).

Henri Nouwen points to another “way.” A way that resonates with me, oh how it resonates.  As I read the first chapter my tired heart (if we are honest aren’t most of us tired at heart?  After all this world is a hard place and offers up such challenges) was lifted up.  Don’t get me wrong I was deeply challenged, but also acutely blessed.  “Who is it that Jesus says will be blessed?” Nouwen asks, “Those who mourn (Mat. 5:4).”  Doesn’t just that very statement give you hope and peace? 

Here are a couple of quotes from the intro that touched me………. “By greeting life’s pains with something other than denial we may find something unexpected.  By inviting God into our difficulties we ground life-even its sad moments- in joy and hope. “

“Many of us are tempted to think that if we suffer, the only important thing is to be relieved of our pain.  We want to flee it at all costs.  But when we learn to move through suffering, rather than avoid it, then we greet it differently.  We become willing to let it teach us.”

Nouwen says that learning the above will not be easy and he suggests 5 “movements” through hard times.  These movements make up the 5 chapters of the book.

#1- Chpt. 1-  From Our Little Selves to a Larger World-  I am just going to pull out some quotes that I found impacting and then comment when I feel compelled.

“How do we,” Nouwen asks, “make this shift from evading our pain to asking GOd to redeem  and make good use of it.”  Good question…. the key word for me was “asking”  … it is my choice to let HIM redeem. 

“We are called to grieve our losses.”  Amen!  Often I feel like I am the only one doing this and often I feel ashamed and like I am not “loving” or “trusting” God enough and that I am being a big baby.

 “Our efforts to disconnect ourselves from our own suffering end up disconnecting our suffering from God’s suffering for us.  The way out of our loss and hurt is in and through.”  I had never before made the connection that grieving my own losses helps me identify or connect with the loss that God suffered in sending HIS Son for me. See also…2Corinthians 4:7-10

“Facing our losses also means avoiding a temptation to see life as an exercise in having needs met.”  “We also like easy victories: growth without crisis, healing without pains, the resurrection without the coss.”  – This is me in so many ways.  How many times have I gone to God and said, “Lord, remove this suffering from me.”  Not that we can’t ask Him but letting that be the only thing I do is wrong.

“The way from Palm Sunday to Easter is the patient way, the suffering way.  Indeed, our word patience comes from the ancient root patior, “to suffer.”  To learn patience is not to rebel against every hardship.  For if we insist on continueing to cover our pains with easy “Hosannas,” we run the risk of losing our patience.  We are likely to bcome bitter and cynical or violent and aggressive when the shallowness of the easy way wears through.” Again, WOW!-  All you in the middle of adoptions and feeling the pull towards impatience… this is for you and me…..

“Instead, Christ invites us to remain in touch with the many sufferings of every day and to taste the beginning of hope and new life right there, where we live amid our hurts and pains and brokeness.”

“I am less likely to deny my suffering when I learn how God uses it to mold me and draw me closer to him.  I will be less likely to see my pains as interruptions to my plans and more to see them as a means for GOd to make me ready to receive Him.  I let God live near my pains and distractions”  I want this don’t you?

“The small and even overpowering pains of our lives are intimately connected with the greater pains of Christ.  Our daily sorrows are anchored in a greater sorrow and therefore a larger hope.”

“Our choice, then, often relvoves around not what has happened or will happen to us, but how we will relate to life’s turns and circumstances. ”

“A key to understanding suffering has to do with our not rebelling at the inconveniences and pains life presents to us.”  I am so guilty of seeing all suffering as an inconvenience to me and more often then not mad about them.

Ok…. I promise only two more quotes…. I actually have to stop myself…. and by the way I haven’t even quoted all the things I underlined.

“But then we let our hurt remind us of our need for healing.  As we dance and walk forward, grace provides the ground on which our steps fall.  Prayer puts us in touch with the God of the dance.  We look beyond our experience of sadness or loss by learning to receive an all-embracing love, a love that meets us in everyday moments.”    

“Our glory is hidden in our pain, if we allow God to bring the gift of himself in our experience of it.  If we turn to GOd, not rebelling against our hurt, we let GOd transform it into greater good.  We let others join us and discover it with us.”

I have always seen suffering and loss as something to be avoided.  Most often I have responded with anger, avoidance, pity parties, and the like.  What I am hearing through this book is, that while it is ok and even good and right to grieve, we must also make the choice to see our pain as a means for GOd to work in us.  Doing this connects us more to Him and in turn to the larger suffering world around us. 

I am not a scholar nor do I have any real amazing insights, I just wanted to share with you these amazing, freeing thoughts.  Please let me know what you think.

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