Grace for the Refugee

Meet Shukri….

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Shukri is 24 years old, Somalian, living in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. She has spent most of her life in this refugee camp.

Shukri decided to apply for refugee status when she was in her teens. The process was started, and she waited….

In the mean time, she met a man, got married, had children. All of her children were born in the refugee camp in Ethiopia.

After years of waiting, Shukri was approved for resettlement as a refugee to America. Imagine her excitement. After what must have felt like a lifetime of waiting, the entire lifetime of her children and then some, she was leaving the refugee camp and coming to America.

Unfortunately, she was not married when she applied for refugee status, and her husband’s file and hers were not connected. She and her children would have to travel to America alone.

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Half a world away in Phoenix, Arizona, a team of people were anxiously awaiting the arrival of Shukri. We had been praying for the refugee family that we would sponsor having no idea what to expect or how any of this would work. When we learned that this was a single mom and 3 children, I began praying for her travels. My sister had lived internationally for many years, and I remember that during all of her journeys with her heavy baggage packed full with everything needed to live for the next year, we would pray that God would place angels throughout her trip to assist her. Traveling alone is no fun: baggage, customs, taxis, exhaustion. I remember the first time we sent her off to Korea alone. I remember the tears and the loneliness (for both of us). But I also remember that at each point in her journey God provided someone to assist her – without fail.  And so I began to pray for Shukri. She wouldn’t be traveling with lots of baggage, but 3 children! Oh my! What on earth do you do with a 1 year old, a 3 year old, and a 5 year old on a journey that would take several days on multiple airplanes through multiple airports? How could she possibly do this alone?

When Shukri stepped off the plane, she was easy to identify. Young woman, two little ones clinging to her side and a baby strapped to her back. She was clothed as you would expect an African Muslim woman to be in a long dress with her head covered with a burka. Even through the long dress, you could see she was very thin and malnourished. Her head was down as if she didn’t even dare to look around and soak in her new environment.

As the case manager approached her and the children, we noticed something. Shukri was not alone. There was another family with her. Another Somali family, Abdirisek and Zamzam with their 18 month old daughter had walked off the plane with her. This family was all smiles; it was evident that they were very happy to have arrived in America. As we talked to the case manager, we learned that this second family had traveled from Ethiopia with Shukri. While they had family in the area, they would be living in the same apartment complex as Shukri. As I learned these details, I just had to smile at God and how He answers prayer. From the very start of her journey, Shukri had help. There were 3 adults to care for 4 children. There were traveling companions to help her get through airports and customs. While she had left her husband behind, God had made sure she was not alone.

One of the women in our sponsor team, Candy, is a tea drinker and knows that tea is something of a comfort food. She researched out the type of tea that was most likely consumed in the region of the world that Shukri was from and bought all the tea leaves and spices to be able to make it for her. When we left Shukri at the apartment that night, Candy brewed Shukri a pot of tea, so she could have a taste of home as she settled in.

The next day, Steve and I headed back over to the apartments to check in on Shukri and see how she was doing. Bunk beds had been delivered that morning so I put sheets on the beds and attempted to show Shukri how to fold and unfold the pack n play. We decided to run to the store to get some fruit. When we returned, the case manager and translator were there trying to give Shukri an orientation to the kitchen, showing her how to use the stove to cook. Poor Abdisilem, the baby, was not happy with the cooking lesson and was screaming. I offered to take him outside and was granted permission to hold this sweet boy. We went outside where he continued to scream, not wanting this tall white lady at all. He wanted his mama!! It wasn’t long before Shukri came out, gathered her children and hurried them back upstairs where she knew they were safe. Steve and I talked to the case manager for a few moments, and as we turned to leave I realized that I had left my purse upstairs in the apartment. I ran up and as I peeked through the window saw the most precious site. The meager meal that had been prepared during the cooking lesson was being served. This little family was sitting in a circle on the kitchen floor, just as if it were the dirt floor in Ethiopia that they left just days before. And there in the middle of the circle was the tea pot, that precious thoughtful gift from one tea loving mom to another.

Life in America had begun…

LOVE, Melissa Hubler

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Grace for the Fearless

DSCN6780“Grace, grace, God’s grace…grace that is greater than all our sin!” is part of the refrain from the song, Grace Greater Than Our Sin, by Don Moen. That lyric is a byline for my life. Even when I was still in my sin (Rom. 5:8), He chose me and saved me (Eph. 1:4-5). My testimony is too long to cover in this blog post, but I will share some excerpts as an example of the grace and mercy of almighty God.

I was fearless as a child, so my first brush with death came at around two. I was running like the wind down a steep hill of a cemetery while my parents put flowers on nearby graves. Tripping on the trunk of a small tree, reeling out of control, I landed hard and was later diagnosed with a broken femur. Next around four, I ventured into the river while my dad swam across the river. He looked back to see my long brown hair floating on the top of the water. I made it out safe and sound, but I was always getting myself into scrapes. I climbed on roofs, jumped off high places, and ended up covered head to toe with poison oak after one summer adventure. Those were innocent times.

At eleven my sixteen-year-old brother died in a sudden vehicle accident colliding with a train. The police reported the news to me (I looked much older than my years). His death was followed by my grandmother’s sudden death from cancer and my 46 year old uncle’s sudden death from a heart attack, leaving my six cousins all under the age of 18 to figure out life without a provider or protector. I decided at a young age that if I was going to die young, I might as well make the “best” of it while I could. Was it a conscious decision? I do not believe it was, but when added to my fearlessness nature, the combination lit a fire of rebellion that lasted the next thirteen years.

From age 12 to 25, many of my choices were foolish and dangerous. At 17, I came near to death again from Toxic Shock, surviving a 107-degree fever and other awful and painful symptoms. After 30 days of recovery, I got out of my house for the first time, only to be rear-ended by another vehicle, the force so powerful it bent the metal frame of my 1968 Mustang. While my daily life was colorful and full of friends, family, and school activities, my nights and weekends were often filled with edgy, darker activities.

I went to college with the help of my parents and student loans. I continued my sinful decisions and what had now become defiance toward God. I met a young man who knew God, but was not walking with Him. He tried to tell me about God and the devil, but his life was total hypocrisy to me, which was the only loophole I needed to push God even farther away.

Fast forward four years, I was living in another town and working at a small vitamin store, barely getting by. My coworkers were a witch (she said she was a white witch, the “good kind”), a prostitute, and a Christian (although I did not know she was a Christian at the time). The Christian woman was kind and hard working. She had a peace about her that I was attracted to and needed desperately in my life. Finally, amongst the strange environment (we were having break-ins at night), I asked the woman, “Do you go to church or something?” She replied, “Yes, would you like to go with me sometime?” I was in such a hopeless place and knew the only thing I hadn’t tried was God, so why not? Much happened in between, even a miracle that to this day I can’t explain, except that it was God. But after going to church with this woman less than a year, she asked me if I wanted to pray to have Jesus come into my life and by then I knew He really was the only way, the only truth, and the only life (John 14:6).

Maybe you are in a similar place. Your life is filled with fun and adventure, but deep down you know you are missing something. The Lord is the only answer to that longing. No amount of fearless fun can satisfy like He can. Accept Him as the way the only way, the only truth, the only life, and you will begin to transform into a fearless servant of the One True God.

Grace from the Pit

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Danielle Keller

I have recently found myself in a dark place. Years and years of dealing with some heavy circumstances started to overtake me. I didn’t feel like I could think clearly anymore; I didn’t feel the presence of the Lord in my life like I usually do. It wasn’t a quick decline, as can sometimes happen to us; it was a slow spiral. And I knew where I was heading, and I fought it tooth and nail. I think that might be even worse-to know what’s coming, and feel helpless to stop it. I call it THE PIT.

From the pit, I couldn’t rely on my feelings. My feelings that my situation was bleak, that it would never change, that I would never get relief weren’t accurate, and I knew it. God brought to mind others in Scripture that had been in the pit, and I was in good company. I knew that Joseph was put into the pit by his brothers, but he wasn’t left there. I knew that Daniel was thrown into the den of lions, but God provided a miraculous way out. I knew that David hid in the cave from his enemies, but was delivered. I had to rely on what the word of God tells me. 2 Corinthians 10:5b says “…and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Regardless of how we found ourselves to the pit, God allows the pit experience. We aren’t in the pit beyond His watchful eye. We aren’t in the pit beyond His almighty providence. The Lord was right there in the pit with me, even if I couldn’t feel it. He’ll be right there with you in the pit, too.   You might not be able to feel Him there, but His is there. He promised “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5)

When you are in the pit, and you feel the waves swirling up over your head-look up! I realized at some point that the only place that I had to look was up. I woke up one morning with this verse going around and around in my head, “Look up for your redemption draweth nigh.” The verse is found in Luke 21:28, and I love the King James version the best. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Jesus was giving the prophesy of the destruction of Jerusalem and the persecution of the early church in this verse, but it is also a dual prophecy proclaiming the return of the Son of Man coming on a cloud to redeem this earth. Look up, lift up your head, for your redemption is coming!

So many times in scripture when it says “look up”, it is saying to look up for your help, for your delivery, for your promise. Psalms 121 “I look up to the mountains-does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, or the moon by night. The lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.” When you feel alone-look up!

Look up for your redemption. Look up for a promise from God. I found it so helpful to physically lift my eyes up to the sky. To look up to the clouds, or the sun. To look high up and imagine how God was looking down on me. God took Abraham outside and said “Look up at the sky and count the starts-if you can indeed count them. So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:5. Look up for a reminder of that promise. “Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.” These were three men sent from the Lord to remind Abraham of this promise-and in a year one of them would return and Sarah would have a son.

When Joshua was near Jericho and he knew he had to fight a battle where he was grossly outnumbered, he looked up. He saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. It was an angel, a commander of the Lord’s army, who had come to fight the battle for him. And the angel said “Take off your sandals for you are standing on holy ground.” (Joshua 5:13-15) When you feel like you are outnumbered-look up!

The pit is conveniently located down. It’s the lowest of the low. There’s no other place to look, but up. It is not a place we enjoy going to, it’s not somewhere we want to be. But if we never experience the pit, then we can never experience the Lord’s might redemption. Do you want to know how to get out of the pit? LOOK UP!!!

LOVE, Danielle

Grace for the Sinner

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Cor 4:7

A few months ago I naively believed that once I was married and I no longer struggled with the temptations many single Christians face, that I would have somehow “arrived” in my faith. It would be so much easier to be a Christian if I didn’t actually have sin in my life, and marriage seemed to be the ticket to freedom. Some of you, who are wiser than I, might be shaking your head with a compassionate smile on your face right now.

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To my shock, marriage did not make me sinless. In fact, God woke me up to other sins and struggles, like pride, that I never noticed and now had to deal with, which left me with this big question: Can I serve God while struggling with sin? Now, obviously, the Sunday school answer to this is yes, that we are all sinners and God has still called us to serve Him. But this isn’t a question I struggle with in my head; it’s a question I wrestle with in my soul and with my emotions.

The most beautiful, and illogical part of grace is not being able to earn or deserve it, but sometimes I fool myself thinking that I am more lovely, pleasing, and beloved by God when I am doing the right thing. Conversely, I feel like God must be ashamed and disappointed in me when I am messing up, and so I run and hide to cover my shame. And since I am a daily sinner, I tend to approach God like a father I am expecting wrath and punishment from rather than love and joy. How could I be of any use to a perfect God when I fail over and over again? How can I stand up as an example of Christianity when my sin is in direct opposition to everything Christ taught?

When I get to feeling sorry for myself like that, when I get to feeling useless and helpless and tired of trying, God very tenderly reminds me that I have made Him small. My worry is that my sin is too consistent or too big for God to forgive. How incredibly prideful to think that anything I do could in some way limit our infinite and sovereign Lord! How selfish to focus on my sin and how ashamed I feel rather than seeing the hurts and needs of others!

I am a sinner and always will be. I am an earthen vessel, a cracked and ugly jar of clay. I will never “arrive” (and the moment I think I do is when I need God most). These may be my limitations, but I am wrong when I believe these are God’s limitations. God uses the weak, the downtrodden, the sinners so that we would not be made big, but so that others may be awed by the “surpassing power” and glory of God and praise only His name. God used prostitutes, murderers, and doubters to bring about the Gospel. God does not require us to be sinless to be used by Him; God requires us to have faith that our sins have been paid for by the blood of His Son and that now we are made right before Him—believing in our place as His sons and daughters.

I am a teacher, a wife, and a friend—and alone I am not good at these roles. I am too selfish, prideful, and insecure. I doubt myself constantly. But when I recognize that I cannot accomplish what God has asked me to do on my own, and I call on Him with all the faith I can muster, I can believe that God will bring glory to Himself through a willing, albeit sinful, servant.

LOVE, Brittany Strosnider

Grace for the Pressure Cooker

MERLYNN%202014%20copy%20size%2090AI’m a preacher’s kid. Honestly, it’s even worse than that. I’m an evangelist’s kid. I have a lot of funny-sad stories of things that people thought that meant and what they thought that made me. Inside our family, though, there was love and acceptance and general cheering for one another. My brothers and I were blessed beyond measure to be enfolded in this household of faith. One of the major desires of our parents was that we kids get a really fine education. It mattered. As the first one out of the nest, I definitely blew it. I found school easy and fun, but falling in love even easier and even more fun. I married halfway through college. My younger brothers sailed past me — off to BAs, MAs and a PhD.   When my husband finished all the school he ever wanted, I decided to surprise my dad and finish my BA. So off I went to the closest college to do just that. It took four years of night school to do the last two years. Ah, but then I got the bug. With two young sons and a husband, I climbed that education ladder to my own MA and PhD.

I became a psychologist; not a clinician but a researcher. I had done my doctoral work at Stanford and, for reasons that are grist for a different blog, I needed to stay in the Bay Area. I taught at Stanford throughout my graduate years and also consulted for school districts throughout the Bay Area. I eventually landed across the campus at the Medical School, and there I stayed for the rest of my career. I directed an international program for medical faculty in Medical Decision Analysis – a field that was brand new in medicine at that time. Clinical faculty came to our program to learn this medical curriculum as well as how to teach it.   When they returned to their own medical schools, they were prepared to train their own faculty.   I also did my own research in valuing health states to provide a quality adjustment for length of life. These values were then used in decision modeling, primarily for policy purposes. Medical conferences, writing, data analysis, teaching, presenting papers – I lived the full academic life. It often felt like a pressure cooker. I thrived.

All this to say, that I, as a firmly grounded conservative evangelical Christian, was right in the middle of a career and a university that was not interested in or friendly to my faith. I even went to church! That alone was a huge testimony to people in the Bay Area where churches do not appear on every corner as in AZ. I went to a Conservative Baptist Church! Wow. I was unique. At church, I was pretty unique, too. Older women will know why. I taught and worked at a decidedly secular university.   Back then, we who were ambitious and career-oriented were called “uppity women.” So at work I was too conservative; at church too liberal. I was determined to find my own way to grow as a believer and find a clear outlet for my faith. Stanford is “pc” to a fault. Tolerance is a much touted virtue. Talking about personal faith was frowned upon. Christianity was “old hat.” My well educated colleagues thought they already knew all there was to know about Christianity. On the other hand, unusual religious practices and beliefs were “interesting.”

My desire was to “Let your light shine before men in such as way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 NASB. This is what happened during my Stanford years. I learned to play the quieter game and was always personally respected and liked, despite my stance as a believer. I put a “new face” on Christianity for many of them, I believe. Everyone knew what I stood for and there were chances for private conversations–often when things were tough in their lives. They knew to whom they could come and be heard. I became, and have remained, a valued confidante for a number of them.

At church, I was busy through the years – teaching adult classes; serving on educational committees; attending courses in doctrine and theology, helping in Jr. Church; volunteering with the high school group – joyful service within my local body. The last decade before I retired and moved to AZ to care for my mom, I found the perfect place for my secular skills to combine with my Christian faith. I participated in a national training program in San Diego for Stephen Ministry Leaders (recall the story of Stephen, Acts 6:8-7:60). Stephen Ministry is a confidential, one-on-one lay ministry to people in the midst of the familiar crises of life—divorce, illness, grieving, job loss, infidelity, childbirth, care-giving.   I became the co-leader, supervisor and trainer for many groups of volunteer care-givers through those years. People in the church applied, were carefully interviewed and prayed for, and then those we chose were given 50 hours of training using some of the finest materials I have ever seen. There was also continuing education during our twice monthly Peer Supervision meetings. Along with teaching others, I had my own care receivers through those years. We had an amazing impact on the lives of hurting people both inside and outside our congregation. It felt satisfying to be able to witness of my own faith with freedom during these encounters. I will forever be grateful to God for this experience and His answer to my prayer for a way to truly serve.

Think of your own lives. Are you working or volunteering in a place where your faith is not valued or even allowed to be mentioned? In these cases you may choose a quieter way as I did.

  • Build a solid reputation as a hard and effective worker, as the early Christians were advised (With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men. Ephesians 6:7 NASB)
  • Live as we are taught in God’s Word.
  • Speak of your faith when asked.
  • Support the fellow believers you will undoubtedly find.
  • Witness when you are one-on-one and/or at non-work events with your colleagues.
  • Pray for those God lays on your heart. He will give opportunity.
  • Continue your own growth in the faith.

We used to call this Friendship Evangelism back in the day. The way we behave, the hobbies, activities, attitudes we choose will bring others to us in curiosity or admiration. Then our testimony really has an impact.

Finally, make every effort to find those places where you can be fully Christian in an open way, serving and ministering to the ones Christ has put in your path. Love from your sister and fellow servant.

LOVE, Merlynn

Grace for a Past

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Brandon & Brittany * May 11, 2013

Have you ever notice that most little girls need reassurance that you love them or you like their new sparkling shoes? They want approval of their worth, to know that they are cherished and loved. I was definitely this type of little girl. I never knew my worth and always was seeking to find it in various ways. Boy! That got me in a tangled web that tangled me up my whole life. This web led me to seek man’s approval and not my Lord’s. I had this huge hole in my chest that nobody could fill. I was an angered, troubled teen and was always getting into trouble with drugs and alcohol.  My heart was on a mission to find my worth so it was so easy to get sucked into anything that could numb my emptiness.

My parents put me into a private school, Christ Community Christian Academy, which is now known as my home church DSCC (funny how the Lord works). I met my husband, Brandon, there and fell in love. We were always together, hand in hand for 3 years. However, I was put back into public school, and that is when things began to change for the worst. Brandon and I went our separate ways due to differences we couldn’t settle, and I had my eyes on different things. I wanted to embrace my youth, and when I did my life went downhill.

It was my junior year in high school, and I was finally an upper class man. I had a new boyfriend and was on the dance team. Everything in my eyes fell into place. I was getting everything I ever wanted, except the emptiness was growing in my heart. So I started tapping into alcohol on the weekends with friends and doing drugs when I could. My relationship with my new boyfriend was toxic, and I was continuing in my downward spiral. That’s when Brandon started popping back into the picture. He tried to get me to go to In & Out Burgers for this youth group thing. That was the last place I wanted to be.

The Lord had His hand on me during this dark time of my life. It took one party to change everything. I had way too much to drink, and I was passed out on the floor in the bathroom. I was in really bad shape, though I don’t remember much. One of my friends came and checked on me, and soon there was a crowd of people. I heard one of them say that I might need medical attention and another voice said, “She’s fine. Just shut the light off.” So there I was “living the life” thinking I had tons of friends who would have my back and that they loved me.  Lying in the dark on that nasty bathroom floor, I heard in my head that I needed Jesus, that He would never leave me, and that this was not the life He had for me. That was the only thing I can remember from that night.

The next day, I felt led to call Brandon, and I decided to go to In & Out that week to see what the fuss was about. I went and that first night I met a beautiful lady named Heidi Jones. She was so welcoming and warm, and I never was greeted with so much kindness from someone I just met. I left there wanting to know more about Jesus than I ever had before.

It still wasn’t easy. That summer I was pulled between following the Lord and still being stuck in my old ways. During the summer, my parents took us up to Flagstaff. On the way up, I had a 2 hour long conversation with my mom about God and what He did for me. It took me back to the night where I was passed out and that I needed Jesus. Nobody had helped me at this so called friend’s house, but I thought of what Jesus did for me and it took my breath away for a moment. I accepted Christ that weekend in Flagstaff, and I came back home as a changed person.

Over the next year, there were many transitions I had to make. My friends weren’t helping me live the life I needed to, so we all went different ways. That was a very painful time. I broke it off with my boyfriend and wanted to focus all my attention on God. I started attending In & Out regularly with Brandon and then started going to the college group at Desert Springs. I just couldn’t get enough of God’s love. The empty hole in my chest wasn’t so empty anymore.

I thank the Lord that through the darkest time of my life, the Lord never left me.  And as it turns out, neither did Brandon. After months of cleaning up my life and letting God take over, we began to hang out again. This time it was different. He was my brother in Christ! That’s when God put the desire in my heart that I wanted to marry this man. Oh happy day! That’s exactly what happened a year later. I found Brandon on one knee asking me if I would marry him.  God is so good and He has such a sense of humor! Who would have thought that I would be married to my 8th grade sweetheart who helped me to love Jesus? I guess God did!

Now, I’ve been walking with the Lord for 3 years, and I’ve been married to Brandon for year as of May 11. To see how the Lord changed my life in ways that I never thought He could, has inspired me to help girls that are going through the same struggle. It is still a daily battle to find my worth through Christ’s eyes and not man’s, but words aren’t enough to explain how thankful I am for the Lord’s love and grace. We certainly do serve such a great and awesome God!

Grace for the Pastor’s Wife

In May of 2006, on our second date, Robby told me he was planning on being in full-time ministry. He wanted me to know of his plans right away, in case they were a deal-breaker. Now, if I hadn’t been completely thrilled about our growing relationship and slightly googly-eyed over this handsome guy sitting next to me, I may have run for the hills. Me? Married to a man in ministry? Maybe even a pastor’s wife? God, I think there are plenty of other girls to choose from who would be much better at this job than me, ok? Praise the Lord that these thoughts of mine were fleeting, and I responded to Robby with an, “Oh, that’s awesome!”

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(Left to Right) Greta, Robby & Kelly

Throughout our marriage, God has used my role of “pastor’s wife” to mold and shape me in ways I didn’t know I needed. Here are two of the (many) lessons I’ve learned that I believe can be of value no matter who you’re married to or even if you’re not married at all.

Lesson 1- You don’t have to be perfect, and you need to stop trying to be.

As Robby and I were engaged and our wedding was approaching, I had a picture in my mind of how I would partner alongside my husband and be the best youth pastor’s wife on Earth. I would always say the right things, look the right way, always have the perfect word of advice for a student in need, I’d never have a bad attitude, and I’d never even THINK about gossiping. Overall, my plan was to just be so super holy. Well, I can imagine you’re chuckling a bit to yourself right now (and if you know me well, I can guarantee that you are!). Because perfect execution of these ideals, however noble they may be, is UNATTAINABLE this side of heaven! Besides, who wants a perfect mentor? That is Jesus’ job anyways. The people I look up to and admire do struggle, have flaws, are honest with their shortcomings and wholeheartedly seek Jesus through it all. Being real is so much more valuable than being perfect. My goal now is to be someone who uses her life, struggles and all, to point others to God as they see Him working in me to make me more like his Son.

Lesson 2- Your contentment and joy is a huge blessing to your husband.

It’s not easy being a pastor. No matter how much any man loves his job, there are sure to be some draining days. Many of my days are filled with taking care of our two year old daughter (while growing her baby brother inside me), trying to keep us all fed, and attempting to maintain a “clean enough” home. I, like Robby, could definitely classify many of my days as draining. On the days when I just want to be a grouch because Greta skipped her nap, slapped me in the face, her birthday fish died, and I just have the hardest life EVER, I have found it benefits my entire family immensely when I choose joy. When I align my perspective with Jesus’ and focus on what matters eternally, I’m able to find the blessings in my daily challenges. Skipped nap? I can rejoice because I get more time with my girl! Slap in the face from my daughter? I can thank God for choosing me to guide, shape and discipline this little human. Dead fish? I can seize the opportunity to talk with Greta about how Jesus rose from the dead for us (unlike her fish “Orange” and “Baby”). With my mind on the Lord and his blessings, I am then capable of creating a happy atmosphere at home. An atmosphere that makes Robby excited to come home each day and find refuge with his family.

I am so thankful that God perfectly tailors our life circumstances to shape us into who he wants us to be. His plans are always so much better than mine.