Thursday, July 28, 2011

Guest Post: God provides comfort, hope, and peace.

A couple of months ago I sat with a decaf coffee in hand, soaking in the company of two my dear friends, Sally Wood and Diane Amoroso. Diane and Sally are sisters and I know them both from different seasons in my own life. Diane was a friend of mine from college who I had lost touch with for the most part, except for our few facebook interactions here and there. Diane was visiting for about a week, and the two of them invited me to come and crash their party one night after all the kids were asleep. I was blessed as I listened to Diane's testimony of how God was there for her over the past few years. I asked that she write out her story so other believers might also be reminded to seek God to be their comforter, provider, and emotional the same way that she has. For me, personally, Diane's story reminds me to peacefully rest in God's promises in my own life even before I see those promises come to pass, knowing that He is ALWAYS FAITHFUL. I hope that God uses her testimony to speak to your heart wherever you are today...

After a couple years of marriage, my husband and I decided we wanted to expand our family. We were so excited when we conceived on our first try! We broadcasted our joyous news immediately, and then I miscarried a week later. It was devastating to me, but people kept trying to comfort me by telling me things like this:
  • "It's very normal"
  • "It happens to a lot of people"
  • "At least it happened early"
  • "At least you know you can get pregnant"
  • "It won't happen again" etc...

Their words were of no comfort to me. I stuffed my pain deep inside, thinking I was being a wimp about it. However, the pain resurfaced time and time again until 6 months later my older sister "gave me permission" to grieve. She validated my pain, and helped me to realize that it was a very real loss for me.

A couple months after that we found out I was pregnant again. This news came with dread instead of joy. What if I miscarry again? There were tears instead of excitement as I told my family of the "happy" news...I was so afraid. My fears were confirmed when I went to the doctor and it was again a very weak pregnancy, and likely to miscarry. My second pregnancy ended a week later. This time, however, I allowed myself to grieve. I found a Christian book on miscarriage that helped me to understand that my baby, though he/she was really a tiny ball of cells at the time of loss, was alive, and that I will see him or her in heaven one day.

As the months went by, my husband and I kept trying. However, by this time I was becoming obsessed. Month after month I was disappointed and decided to try something else to take things into my own hands. Not only did this obsessing not help, but it actually worked against the "trying" process because it was causing me to stress. I think I was scaring my husband! This "one-tracked mind" was controlling me, and I started not being able to be happy for other women who were pregnant. It got to the point where I would avoid pregnant women in my life; I couldn't stand to be anywhere near them because it was so painful for me.

I knew what I was feeling
was not what God wanted from me, so I began to seek Him more. I did everything I could to draw closer to Him, begging Him to take this burden from me. I was so hungry and thirsty for Him to speak to me and help me. At one point I remember crying out to Him saying,
"I'm like the woman in the Bible who wanted to be healed and was healed just by touching the hem of your garment. Please let me touch the hem of your garment and be healed!"
At that moment He showed me Isaiah 40:11'
"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart..."
Through that verse, what I felt was a slap in the face saying,
"You are acting like a desperate woman! You are NOT a desperate woman. You act like you have to chase after me, but you don't realize I am holding you in my arms."
That was such a wake up call to me, and from that moment, I had a picture of God holding me, carrying me in His arms, walking me through this time of trial. He became more and more every day my source of strength. Every day I was getting stronger in His word through my own quiet time with Him (I was getting up at 5:30 a.m. just to start my day with God), and through my pastor and other Christian speakers and authors. I verbally bound the spirits of control, obsession, and envy and cast them to the depths of the sea.

About 8 months after my second miscarriage, God began to send people to me.
First he sent my 6 month pregnant sister to visit me. I was very nervous about her visit, but it was therapeutic for me. How could I envy someone I love so much? How could I not love my nephew growing inside her? I felt healing and love where envy had stood.

Next, God gave a Christian coworker of mine a "word of knowledge" in the form of a vision. She saw me very pregnant, twice, and said to me, "In the name of Jesus you will have your baby. Thank you Jesus for this baby."

Last He sent a Christian couple who was visiting the U.S. from Argentina. They hadn't planned on visiting us, but felt God leading them to share their story of struggling with infertility with us. They also proclaimed that in Jesus name we would have many children. My husband said, "See how much God loves you? He is sending people to speak to you."
By this time, I was healed on the inside, not only because of the hope that had been given to me, but because God healed my broken spirit and had grown me immeasurably. I am a different level of Christian today than I was before. I have more faith in God's Word and in His plans for our lives. I thank Him for the difficult time He allowed me to go through (though I am thankful it is over)!

Surely enough about a month later I wasn't feeling well, took a test, and was pregnant. This time the news was received by my husband and I with rejoicing! I knew this baby was here to stay. God needed me to go through the trials of the previous 2 years so that I could find Him as my only source of strength. Our daughter is due in a few weeks, and I rest in the fact that this was His perfect timing for her to arrive, and that He will provide for all our needs.

He is our comforter and our provider.
About the Author: Diane Amoroso lives in South Florida. She has been married for 4 years to her loving husband, Diego. They met while working at the same school in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Diane lived for 3 years. She is an elementary school teacher, currently teaching 4th grade. She attends Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. At the time of this posting Diane is 36 weeks along in her pregnancy and she and the baby are both healthy. :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Be Comforted

Could you use a little extra comforting today?

Listen to the sweet words of Gwen Smith, the soft melody of her music, and the comfort of the message behind her song. God is your comfort and you can rest in HIM.

MY God, MY comforter, My prayer...

"I know you're here.
I know you care.
I know you want to fill the emptiness..."

It's comforting to know that
The darkness cannot hide your light.
Your light penetrates right through.
And Lord, right now I need your might,
and some of your comfort too...

...I'm glad you're here Lord.

As a child of the King, you have the privilege of sitting at His feet. You can rest in Him, find your comfort in Him, and move forward renewed and refreshed, even if your circumstance has yet to change. Ahhhh...that's better. ;)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Guest Post: Jennifer Riley tells how God spoke a message of comfort to her at a crucial time in her life.

Our guest post this week is written by Jennifer Riley. Jennifer is a BEAUTIFUL woman of faith who I was blessed to meet while working with the children at our church a few years ago. She has a gentle, sweet spirit and a heart to serve those around her. I hope you are blessed as you read Jennifer's testimony of the Lord's hand in her life. In this guest post she tells of a time when God chose to give her the comfort she needed through a sign and through a handful of believers around her. Here's Jennifer's testimony...

February 8 marked the one-year anniversary of my losing my left eye to cancer. What an event that was in my life. I am changed forever. It was the scariest thing that ever happened to me, but in so many ways it was also a time of the greatest blessing. I want to share this cool story with you.

It happened on a Sunday morning. The next day was my surgery, and we were sitting in our usual row in church surrounded by so many supportive friends. There was a guest speaker in church that day, a local man named Jeff Kling, who happened to be talking about God healing him from cancer. I was curious to hear him talk.

I want you to know I was NOT expecting a healing for my eye. I know God could do that if it was His will, but I knew that my eye was definitely coming out the next morning, and I was scared. Who wouldn’t be? I remember telling Jeff (my husband), “I can’t believe I’m going to let someone remove my eye tomorrow.” It seemed horrific and unreal--the worst kind of adrenaline rush. It’s hard to explain, but with the upcoming loss of that eye and the very real threat of the cancer further metastasizing to my liver, I could not even see life beyond the next morning’s surgery. Yes, I had all the faith in the world in my salvation through Jesus Christ. It’s not that I was afraid to die; I was afraid about my kids, my family, left without me. But for right now I was sitting in church drawing close to the Lord and knowing that’s exactly where I was supposed to be.
I sat there glad to forget about myself for a little while and listen to Jeff Kling share his story. He gave a miraculous telling of his cancer diagnosis, his surgery, his incredible conversation with God, and his healing! It was truly touching, and I was choked up right along with him as he told about his new-found faith. What an amazing thing to happen! My eyes filled with tears as my heart filled with joy for him.
He was concluding his message by saying he didn’t know why God chose to heal him and not someone else, and talking about putting your trust in the Lord. My own terror came flooding back to me, and I remember feeling agitated as I thought about what I would have to face the next day.

That’s when it happened.

Jeff Kling was still speaking at the front of the congregation and as he was standing there, right up there on the stage with him, I saw a sign! A literal sign! A big sign! I can still picture it now—it looked like one of those boxed signs you’d see high on the wall outside the door of a radio station that lights up in bright red letters: “ON AIR.” Only this one didn’t say “ON AIR.” It said “TRUST ME!” I watched in private awe as the backlit red letters in the sign box actually blinked—yes, they blinked!--on and off, on and off:

Oh!!! God was right there, giving me a message of my own!
I bowed my head and thanked Him. I thanked Him so much for that blessed assurance. Wow! “Okay, God,” I prayed, “I will.”
We went home from church, and I packed my bag for the trip to Michigan. While eating supper at the hotel that night, I told my dad and Jeff what I had seen at church. Trusting in God, I had my surgery the next day.
A couple weeks later, my friend Wendy called me. She had been approached by a member of her church, Jeff Kling (!!!), who had spoken to my congregation. He’d seen my name when she put it on their prayer list and wondered if she thought it’d be okay if he gave me a call. He’d seen a lady in the audience while he was speaking at Agape Christian Church, he said, and felt a connection. He was pretty sure it was me! I told Wendy my story, and told her he was welcome to give me a call.

Not even an hour went by, and I was speaking to Jeff Kling on the phone!!

He asked if I have long blond hair. Yes.
Attend the second service? Yes.
And was I sitting in the middle section several rows back that morning? Whoa! That’s me.
When he was speaking that day, he said his eyes kept coming back to me. He got a feeling that I needed to hear what he had to say. Each time he shares his testimony, he explained, he concludes it in different ways, depending on what the Lord lays on his heart. That morning, he said, the message from God was for me. And that message, Jeff said plainly over the phone, was for me to TRUST GOD!!! “I do!” I said to Jeff, “I do!” And I told him MY story.
You’ve heard of people raising their hands heavenward and begging, “God, if you’d just show me a sign!” For me, this undeserving, fear-filled lady, God did just that. He is so real! He is so amazing! And He loves us so much! It’s not about Jeff Kling. It’s not about me. It’s about Him.

All glory to YOU, God!
I trust You. No matter what. 

Jennifer Riley resides in Westville, Indiana with her supportive husband of 20 years, Jeff Riley, and her two beautiful children, Amanda(18) and Jason(16) Riley.