Hardships and Trials, Intentional growth

God—the Ultimate Coach

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I like to watch American Ninja Warrior, a television show where competitors move through an obstacle course with agility and superhuman strength. Contenders refuse to quit, even when they face their last obstacle—a fourteen-foot wall that curves inward. As they prepare to climb, the crowd urges them from the sidelines like a beloved coach. I watch rapt from the edge of my couch, practically reaching with them. When they make it, the crowd cheers, and I cheer too.

The Ninja course isn’t designed to make competitors fail—it’s designed to make them better. Each athlete brings their own strategies, strengths, and weaknesses to the course. I’m not a Ninja Warrior, but I am a Christian, and my life overflows with obstacles. If I’m not careful, difficulties can leave me feeling like God doesn’t love me. After all, if God really loves me, why not make my life easy? Click To Tweet

Our answer is found in Hebrews 12:7-11. As the writer urges, we shouldn’t falter when the Lord disciplines us, for He’s treating us like a favored daughter. If He didn’t help us grow, He wouldn’t be a father who cared. Don’t we respect authority in our life when it teaches us wisdom? God disciplines us for a short time for our good. Yes, it can be painful in the moment, but if we’re willing to learn from it, our life will produce peace and goodness. When I face a seemingly insurmountable wall, God leads me over it like an expert coach. Click To Tweet

When we go through hard things, we get better. God Coach blog 2

I desire to be a mature Christian. Looking back at challenges I’ve experienced, I thank God for the changes they brought in me. When I face a seemingly insurmountable wall, God leads me over it like an expert coach. Through help from the Holy Spirit and the Bible, He encourages me to remain strong during every obstacle I face.

As God continues to delight in me, His beloved child, He’ll continue to allow circumstances to teach me. When I am willing to trade my comfort and ease for training in godliness, I become a strong woman of God. Like a father who cares for his daughter, God has a remedy for my childish ways.

Are you able to look back and see where God helped you through a tough time? If you’re in a difficult place now, do you have a favorite Bible verse or prayer that reminds you God is coaching you for the greater good?

 

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Join Wholly Loved’s Jennifer Henn for this great study.
Join through Zoom’s online video conferencing here: ttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/6706857130

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Faith, Hardships and Trials

Faith and Healing Amid Turmoil

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A year ago, as I sat in a church classroom, trying to learn how to heal my wounds, I thought about the woman who bled for twelve years. She went from doctor to doctor, draining her finances to find a cure to stop the bleeding. The woman knew Jesus’s reputation for healing hands, so when she heard He was traversing through town, she wedged her way through the crowd. He was out of reach, and the woman lowered her body to the ground and reached out to touch a piece of His robe. Jesus felt something. The book of Matthew tells her story: Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.  Matthew 9:20-22 (ESV)

The woman feels compelled to touch Jesus to receive healing of her physical — yet invisible — trauma. The woman had become a societal outcast: in her day, women who discharged blood other than or past the time of their period were considered unclean (Leviticus 15:25-27 NIV). Although her wound was physical, I can only imagine what she endured emotionally.

Her wounds were unseen, and so are mine. My emotional scars hide in day to day interactions. No one would suspect the hurt I carry. Some scars are from my choices; others are from the decisions of those around me. My recent wounds stem from living during a pandemic, economic uncertainty, racial tensions, and divisions in our country and the church, not to mention the loss of routine and ability to celebrate life events.

Recently, a friend and I discussed over video chat what to say these days when someone asks, “How are you?” The customary polite answer — “Fine, how are you?” — doesn’t seem entirely correct. The unnamed woman in this story taught me that she knew she wasn’t fine or okay. She knew and admitted to herself that she needed healing. After years of trying to find a remedy, she made it her mission to touch the cloak of Jesus (or, as other translations state, the hem of His robe). She knew that He was the one who could heal her: the One who could provide what she so desperately wanted. I can follow her example and admit these times are hard, and I’m not always okay.I can touch the cloak of Jesus by taking my wounds to him in prayer, worship, and praise. Click To Tweet

As I think back to the church classroom, I now understand the steps I need to take to start the healing process. I can grieve and lament the losses and uncertainty. To heal, I must admit these times are hard, and I’m not always okay. When we hurt, we can cry out to the Lord and touch Jesus’ cloak by taking our wounds to Him in prayer, worship, and praise. I have faith that He sees and hears me, and I can accept the help of those Jesus sends to minister to me. Like the bleeding woman, I have faith that He will turn to me, see me, and say, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has healed you.” Robrenna-Heal Post Quote

A question to ponder:

What are you grieving in these difficult times? Name them.

Lament over each loss, fear, or anxiety.

Offer a prayer of healing to the Lord.

Meet the Author!

Robrenna's Headshot

Robrenna is a real, raw, no-filters, kind of girl. She went from an army brat to a military veteran. A wife to Troy and mom of two teenagers, she has served in women’s, children’s, and middle school ministries.

Robrenna wrote a Bible study for middle school girls based on Identity in Christ. She is the executive administrative assistant for the anti-sex-trafficking organization I’ve Got A Name. Robrenna is the friend you call to walk alongside you in hard, painful places of life as well as the joyful ones. Her passions include mocha coffee, dark chocolate, time with family and friends, and telling others of God’s love, mercy, and grace.

 

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Cover for Anchored and Secure devotionalIf you’re seeking resources that will help you grow closer to Christ, make sure to grab a copy of our latest devotional, Anchored and Secure: 60 Days of Resting in Grace:

Thanks to Christ’s death and resurrection, we don’t have to stress, strive, or perform. We simply need to rest in what Christ has already done. That is when we begin to come alive and find the power and courage to live as He intended. That’s when we experience true and lasting freedom. This sixty-day devotional helps women reflect on God’s grace and the freedom of living deeply anchored in Him.

Find it HERE.

Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.

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Hardships and Trials

Good News Despite Life’s Struggles

Life is filled with ups and downs, good news and bad news. Image of a woman sitting in window

The bad news, for example—life can be hard. Really hard. At times, just before we get out of one battle, we find ourselves thrown into another. 

Years ago, if you asked me who I was, I would’ve said a wife, mother, and missionary. But that all changed the day I came home from working overtime, went upstairs, and was surprised with divorce papers. I was shocked and sad—struggling to understand my new identity.

This meant I wouldn’t be Mrs. So and So anymore… I felt lost. My husband and I had been nearly inseparable for ten years. The worst was seeing the divorce complaint … the official paperwork, where at the top it read him vs. me. This wasn’t anything I ever wanted or even saw coming. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t threaten my sense of self. 

The same struggle came when my doctor told me I could no longer travel because of my chronic illness. Then he told me I could no longer do semi-physical work. Finally, he informed me I couldn’t work at all. I had been deemed “medically disabled.” It was extremely difficult to accept. 

girl-2619115_1920(1)I was crushed. This was my dream job. I was living out my purpose. Yet now it felt like watching everything I’d hoped and worked for crumble before my eyes.

Some of you can relate. Maybe not to the divorce and debilitating disease, but perhaps you’re also a single mom. Maybe you’re trapped in the grips of addiction, doing your best to quit, but you’re on that relapse merry-go-round. Or you’re in a pit of grief, mourning the death of a loved one while it seems everyone else has moved on.

But the Good News is just that: the Good News. The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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God sees you in your struggle, and still He sent His Son to die for you. Not while you were in a state of perfection but in your mess—your helpless addiction, never-ending grief, chronic pain, or failed relationships. He sees us as we are and still wants to give us the gift of eternity with Him.

We are living in tremendously dark times. We’re seeing an increase in divorce rates, a crushing economy, a worldwide pandemic, and brother fighting brother. It’s enough to make anyone lose hope. 

Jesus reminds us that life on earth won’t be easy. As He says in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (ESV). Click To TweetJesus reminds us that life on earth won’t be easy. As He says in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (ESV).

If you find yourself facing hardships and wrestling with anxiety, remember that Jesus loves you. He chose a gut-wrenching death for our salvation—yours and mine. And the suffering we endure today is nothing compared to the irreversible work of the cross. If you find yourself facing hardships and wrestling with anxiety, remember that Jesus loves you. He chose a gut-wrenching death for our salvation—yours and mine. And the suffering we endure today is nothing compared to the… Click To Tweet

I’m not sure what you’re facing today, but I do know this: Our struggles are real. But you can choose what to believe. Remind yourself that you are loved immeasurably. No amount of bad news can eradicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And you can achieve peace through Him.

Let’s Talk About This: How are you silently struggling? Are you wrestling with something others feel you should be over with by now? How can we hold onto our peace despite our struggles?

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Victoria Mejias

Meet Victoria!

Victoria Mejias is a graduate of the University of Nebraska – Omaha and attended the University of Nebraska College of Law prior to making a leap into public service. She has nearly 20 years of experience in the private, public, legal and non-profit sectors. She has previously served as the Missions and Small Groups Pastor at StoneBridge Christian Church and the Development Director for Open Door Mission / Lydia House. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Heartland United for Puerto Rico and her past service includes a variety of other boards.

Victoria received her Certification in Urban Ministries from the Dallas Theological Seminary’s Urban Ministry Institute in 2012. She has spoken at a variety of venues on matters of leadership, diversity, spirituality and faith– locally, nationally and internationally as far out as Damoh, India at the World Leaders Evangelical Conference. Recently Victoria was the recipient of two Congressional awards for her service by Puerto Rican Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón and Nebraska’s Congressman Don Bacon during a floor speech at the US House of Representatives.

Victoria serves with Wholly Loved Ministries in numerous capacities, including functioning as one of their feature writers, writing articles on behalf of the ministry for iBelieve. She has two children, loves the Lord, reaching the lost and enjoys travel, arts and culture. Visit Victoria online at www.victoriaelizabeth.com.

Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.

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Forgiveness, Hardships and Trials

Forgive and Forget? by Jennifer Henn

Jenn Henn Quote 1

Forgive and Forget?

By: Jennifer Henn

Maybe you’ve always heard, “Forgive and forget.” But what do you do when it’s impossible to forget? A certain song, smell, or a curse blurted in anger, and, at lightning speed, our mind remembers. Even when the memory laid dormant for several years.

I woke up to sheer panic, my bed shaking. When I opened my eyes, the mirror on the wall wildly swung back and forth. As soon as I caught my breath, I let out a terrified scream. My parents couldn’t come to me—they were rushing to secure the cupboards so all the dishes wouldn’t fall out. The early-morning San Fernando earthquake became a permanent memory in my six-year-old brain.

We moved from California the next year, and it wasn’t until decades later, in Georgia, when I felt the earth tremor once again. My husband was in the bathroom shaving and didn’t even feel it. Newscasters joked about how most people didn’t even know we’d had an earthquake. I knew. Some things you never forget.

Everyone hasn’t gone through a natural disaster, but everyone will experience fear and trauma. Often, people in their life cause their pain. Our emotions are an intricate part of who we are. Some memories, especially traumatic ones, refuse to leave. We may not be able to forget a painful memory, but we can control whether or not we will dwell on it.

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God has never asked me to deny, or “forget,” hard situations of my past. Instead, He calls me to walk in truth and then asks, “Now how are you going to handle it?” and “Am I enough?”

When Christ died a cruel death for our sin, He never denied our offenses against Him. He forgave us because we couldn’t save ourselves. I can’t be like Christ and save anyone, but I can forgive them.When Christ died a cruel death for our sin, He never denied our offenses against Him. He forgave us because we couldn’t save ourselves. I can’t be like Christ and save anyone, but I can forgive them. Click To Tweet

In the Bible, a disciple asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22 NIV).

When I think about someone who wronged me, I’m reminded of a parable Jesus told of a man who owed a king a huge debt he could never repay (Matthew 18:23-35). The man begged the king for mercy, and the king forgave the debt. However, the forgiven man went to another who owed him a small amount of money and insisted on immediate payment.

This second debtor begged for more time to pay, but the forgiven man’s heart was hard, and he refused to give more time to pay the debt.

Word got back to the king. “Hey King, remember that guy’s big debt you forgave? Well, now he wants a man thrown in jail for a much smaller amount of money owed.” (Paraphrased.)

Outraged at the man’s lack of mercy, the king had him brought back to court and thrown into jail.

Chills go down my spine as I recall this story, for I remember my reluctance sometimes to forgive others. While I don’t need to forget what happened, God gives me mercy in abundance, and I should offer the same to others—even those who wronged me horribly.

Therefore, I have to make a conscience choice to forgive. Sometimes, over and over. When situations trigger a memory, the quicker I forgive and move on, the better. Moving on doesn’t mean I forget every wrong endured. If I did, I might stay in an unhealthy relationship or miss out on a lot of good lessons. But I do forgive.

Think about it. If we really were made to forget every wrong done to us, we’d keep going back for more abuses or continue in poor judgement. We wouldn’t be able to walk in truth.

We need to consider other’s deeds with wisdom and truth. If your friend is not responsible with their finances, you don’t lend them money. If your teen is known to take drugs, you don’t lend him or her your car. The circumstances can range from mild to tragic. With truth, understanding, and love, we can honor people and still set appropriate boundaries based on their character.

When I have bitter feelings toward someone, I know I’m resistant to forgiveness. That’s when focusing on the cross helps.When I have bitter feelings toward someone, I know I’m resistant to forgiveness. That’s when focusing on the cross helps. Click To Tweet

Christ forgives me not because I’ve changed or paid Him back for my wrong, but because of His love for me. I need to love others in the same way.

God understands how hard it is to forgive some offenses over and over. That’s okay—just keep your eyes on Jesus, the One who forgives all the sins of the world, and know you are cared for. He sees you and loves you deeply.God understands how hard it is to forgive some offenses over and over. That’s okay—just keep your eyes on Jesus, the One who forgives all the sins of the world, and know you are cared for. He sees you and loves you deeply. Click To Tweet

Meet Jennifer Henn

Jennifer Henn's headshotYears ago, Jennifer asked God, “As the gray hairs come in, make me wise.” Today, her gray hair may be camouflaged, but she has compassion and wisdom to share. She’s mentored women through a variety of leadership roles, small group meetings, and now through Wholly Loved online groups.

Jennifer also serves the homeschool community through conferences and writing. She shares how you can teach your children at home, while enjoying the freedom to explore their individual interests. Her first book, Take the Mystery Out of Homeschooling: A How-To Guide, takes parents incrementally through the basics of homeschooling and offers practical advice so they can make informed decisions.

Jennifer and her husband live in Metro Atlanta where their nest is down to one chick. Besides writing and speaking, she is the secretary for Christian Authors Guild, a member of Word Weavers Intl, and serves on the mission’s assessment team at her local church. Visit Jennifer online at JenniferHenn.com, connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Instagram, and find her book on Amazon HERE.

Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.

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Highlighted resource:

Anchored and Secure: 60 Days of Resting in Grace:

About the book:

Anchored and Secure Cover ImageThanks to Christ’s death and resurrection, we don’t have to stress, strive, or perform. We simply need to rest in what Christ has already done. That is when we begin to come alive and find the power and courage to live as He intended. That’s when we experience true and lasting freedom. This sixty-day devotional helps women reflect on God’s grace and the freedom of living deeply anchored in Him.

Buy your copy HERE

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Hardships and Trials, security

Steady Souls in the Face of Uncertainty

 

Two older women with quote from post.

Mark Twain penned, “Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.” 

I hope that’s true for me. 

I’ve always smiled with my eyes. Or that’s what others tell me and probably why I have so many wrinkles showing around them. With all that is happening in the world I find myself struggling to not take it all on myself. I attempt to solve one issue, or mourn another, and cannot stand under the pressure. It’s impossible to live this way and my face speaks what’s happening inside. My brows furrow while my mind travels to tasks or worries. In place of smiles are scowls while impatience pushes aside joy.

If you’re finding yourself riding waves of concern and anxiety, you’re not alone.

The other day, months into the Coronavirus stay-at-home orders, my son started laughing in deep joy while crying tears of grief.  He swallowed hard, stopped, and said with shock, “Woah, that’s never happened before.” It hit me hard. Many of us are experiencing deep emotions washing over us.

We feel hope, grief, joy, frustration, and fear.  But we can stand firm knowing these emotions remind us of our need for Jesus. He is our anchor in the waves. We cannot anchor ourselves.We find our security in God and know He will fulfill His promises. Click To Tweet God is our certainty, our faithful anchor amidst the confusion and unknowns that flood our feeds and minds daily.

Hebrews 6:19a says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm, and secure.”

Anchor image with quote from post

When we place our hope in Jesus, we sit with confident expectation in God’s faithfulness, love, forgiveness, and the promise of eternity with Him. These truths steady our souls in the waves of uncertainty. 

When multiple emotions leave us feeling out of control, we must stand firm and anchor in God. As identifiers, our emotions can bring us closer to Him, letting us know when things need to be tended to, or surrendered. 

When multiple emotions leave us feeling out of control, we must stand firm and anchor in God. Click To Tweet

As my eye wrinkles leave coordinates of past heart conditions, I’m reminded that I can choose to praise God in hope and faith as He holds me firmly. I pray that my wrinkles of grief and anxiety are shallow, while my deeper wrinkles are of joy and peace, evidence of God’s love and faithfulness.

Allow God’s  Word to wash over you today as you cling to Him during uncertain times. 

“When I thought, ‘My foot slips,’

Your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.

When the cares of my heart are many,

Your consolations cheer my soul” (Psalm 94:18-19, ESV).

—–

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Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.

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20 Days of Relational Health Bible reading plan.

Our hearts crave deep, lasting connections–to know we are loved and belong. This Bible reading plan will help you grow in your relationships as you learn to love others well, speak and live in truth, and set the healthy boundaries that will allow your relationships to thrive.

Find it HERE.