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

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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Bible studies

New Online Study Coming in October

For many of us, 2020 has felt anything but pleasant, peaceful, and hopeful, leaving many feeling as if their circumstances are hopeless. But Scripture tells us, in Christ, we are more than conquerors. Nothing can separate us from the love we receive from Christ and our eternal hope is held secure. God has such amazing things in store for us. Let’s cultivate hope in one another as, together, we live in the victory of Christ’s freedom.

Join us in October for an online discussion of Bob Hostetler’s 6-week study titled: Life Stinks … And Then You Die: Living Well in a Sick World, led by Jennifer Henn. (Find the Zoom join link HERE; buy the book HERE.)

Where: Zoom

When: Thursday nights at 7pm CST from October 1st-November 5th

From the back cover:

Many people seem to blithely skip through the meadows of this world, with nary a wound or scar. Day after day seems to shine on them. They wake up each morning with a smile on their face. . . . This book is not for them.

There is something dreadfully wrong with this world, and everyone knows it.

Some try to fix it. Some try to ignore it. Some recognize that the same thing that is wrong with the world is wrong with us–and nothing will change until we grasp that reality.

Life Stinks . . . And Then You Die is a gritty, honest look at the world around us and the world inside us. It is based on an ancient book of wisdom that many consider to be the Bible’s most perplexing book, Ecclesiastes, to a man who seemed to have every advantage–wealth, education, and power could possibly offer–but still struggled to find happiness and meaning. It does not offer platitudes. No easy fixes. It doesn’t spackle over the rough reality of life in the twenty-first century. But it does offer perspective. And hope. And a plan for living well in spite of all that’s wrong with the world and with us.

Study leader Jennifer Henn has mentored women through a variety of leadership roles, small group meetings, and now through Wholly Loved online groups.

She 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.

We also invite you to join our private online Facebook group where women support, encourage, and pray for one another. You can find us HERE.

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.

Jenn Henn Quote 2

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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Make sure to connect with us on Instagram and Facebook!

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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Faith

Hope in Chronic Illness — Guest Post

woman gazing toward the sunrise with quote from Matthew Henry

Grasping for Hope

by Jennifer Henn

Several years ago, I was wasting away from undiagnosed Celiac Disease. It affected every system in my body. When the doctors finally determined the cause of my symptoms, I weighed 100 pounds and couldn’t absorb nutrients. They ordered me to rest, saying, “Do nothing so you can heal.”

Those are hard words for a mother to hear. I was willing to do anything to quicken my healing. I thought if I could understand certain Bible passages, and put those truths into practice, my hardship would soon be over. I read and memorized Scripture, studied and journaled about it, hoping for a full understanding. But I had the wrong perspective. God wanted to work within my heart, and heart surgery takes time.

I cried, “Why is this so hard!” I struggled to grasp the truth and personal application of the Scripture I’d read.

I wanted change in my life—now. But I’ve learned God wants me to have a deeper understanding of His truth, which can’t be immediately grasped.

The first couple of years following my diagnosis were the hardest and often brought me to one section of Scripture in the Bible.  “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4, ESV).

In my exhausted state, I often questioned whether my character was improving. The weight of never feeling well and multiple doctor appointments bore down on the weak places in my soul. In my quiet time, I asked God, “Am I persevering? Will I find the hope Romans talks about?”

I needed hope that God’s Word is true when it says I am loved and that His ways are greater than mine. Meditating on this truth needed to be a daily practice in order to end the voice of despair taunting my mind.

To keep hope in view, I asked a friend who makes jewelry to make me a bracelet. I asked it be made with three different colored stones. Green would represent perseverance, red character, and a faux diamond for hope.

The bracelet companion reminded me that God was working things out of me that needed to go. Things like stubborn reliance on myself or the craving for people’s approval. At the same time, He worked in my ability to trust Him. While I learned to praise God in my storm, He gave me hope.

When I look back, I see hope was there the entire time. It took hope to ask for the bracelet to be made. Hope led me to continue in perseverance with prayer and the reading of Scripture. Hope opened my eyes to the sufferings of others which took the focus off myself. And hope showed itself when others said, “I see Jesus in you.”

When I focused on the struggle, I became discouraged. But over time, I learned that understanding comes through the struggle. God supplied hope through His love to keep me going. And through it all, my perspective on life changed.

When we praise God through our suffering, He works in hope. Once we have a deep sustaining hope, we can bring encouragement to others. Today, in your difficult circumstance, believe in hope. Praise the One who made you and is doing a good work in you.

Let’s talk about this!

Where might you be missing hope that’s in front of you? Who do you know that needs encouragement through their time of hopelessness?

Did this devotion encourage you?

If so, make sure to check out our Bible reading plan available now on the YouVersion app! You can find Cover image for Bible study devotionalit HERE! And make sure to grab a copy of our 90-day devotional, Drawing Near. You can find that HERE.

Get to know Jennifer!

Jennifer Henn homeschooled for nineteen years. She speaks and writes about her experiences from preschool through high school. Discouraged by the trend of homeschoolers to label themselves, she shares a balanced approach. She believes 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.

Visit her on her website, follow her on Facebook and Instragram, and purchase her book on Amazon.

Are you considering homeschooling your children but have no idea how it’s done? Take The Mystery Out of Homeschooling: A How-To Guide takes parents incrementally through the basics and offers practical advice so they can make informed decisions. Easy to navigate sections include: popular teaching methods, what subjects to teach, how to schedule the school year, socializing your children, where to get help, record keeping, and much more!Jennifer puts your mind at ease through personal examples of her own and other homeschool veterans. If you want to homeschool, and need a resource for success, this book is for you.