Category Archive Trials And Blessings

ByDanielle

Seeing The Light Through It All

It’s been 17 months since my son went to Heaven.

A piece of my heart left my body and went to Heaven with him. I’ve learned so much these last months. I’ve learned the goodness of our great God. I’ve learned to be still and listen and more importantly hear. When Brian first died I was angry, no angry doesn’t cover it. I was livid. I could not understand how God would let this happen. That 1st Sunday back at church we sat in the over flow room and I cried the entire time. In my head I was screaming at God. At one point I stopped crying. I clearly heard God say my Son hung from a tree too. Brian is with my Son. You will always know where he is now. (There were many months I did not know if Brian were alive or not.)

It Is Well

I started hearing God’s voice saying small sweet loving things to me. Friends telling me how Loved I am. Telling me that our God is not a God of confusion, He is a God of Love. I hadn’t opened my Bible in a very long time. I opened my Bible 2 weeks ago, I read the book of John. I see things differently now. My faith is much stronger and I confidently know where my son is. Brian and I had a conversation 8 weeks before he died. I hadn’t talked to him in almost 2 years. (Drugs, alcohol, bad life choices, his choice to not have me in his life) He called me. He was at rock bottom and wanted a new start. He was willing to get himself here and go to a Christian mission to recover. We had a conversation about God. I said to him I know you say that you don’t believe in God, but I really think you are just angry with Him. My boy broke down and said he was so angry at God that this isn’t how his life was supposed to be. We talked everyday, several times a day before he died. My son knew God & knew how loved he is. In his death he has accomplished what he wanted to in life. Brian would give anyone anything they needed, whether he could afford it or not.

My family has some things in Brian’s memory. Our church has been going to the public servants of our town to thank them for all that they do. I was asked if I could help with the police officer luncheon. I have been wanting to find a away to thank them for their kindness on that night they had to come tell us. It blessed me so much to bless them. My youngest daughter walked the suicide awareness walk.

I can listen & hear people. I can listen & hear God. Now don’t get me wrong, God still has to show me things several times before I get it. I get it much sooner nowadays. Now don’t get me wrong, I wish my son was here with me. I don’t want any family to feel this grief, to feel this loss. It is horrific! Mental illness is a taboo subject that no one wants to talk about, that no one wants to ask for help.

<a href=Psalm 139:13-14" width="700" height="700" srcset="https://raisingstickyhands.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/1B4CF06B-34CE-42E2-A0DE-AFF52E8D9F12-768x768.jpg 768w, https://raisingstickyhands.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/1B4CF06B-34CE-42E2-A0DE-AFF52E8D9F12-150x150.jpg 150w, https://raisingstickyhands.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/1B4CF06B-34CE-42E2-A0DE-AFF52E8D9F12-300x300.jpg 300w, https://raisingstickyhands.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/1B4CF06B-34CE-42E2-A0DE-AFF52E8D9F12-1024x1024.jpg 1024w, https://raisingstickyhands.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/1B4CF06B-34CE-42E2-A0DE-AFF52E8D9F12.jpg 1535w" sizes="(max-width: 700px) 100vw, 700px" />

Sometimes I think my grief is jealousy. Brian IS in Heaven. I am here on earth.

 

God is good! All the time.

ByDanielle

Finding Joy In The Ashes: Life Since Losing My Son

Disclaimer: This post includes triggers as it discusses suicide and the loss of a child.

Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
Psalms 30:5

Finding Joy In The Ashes

In order to tell you this life altering event in my life I have to go back to 14 months ago….

After 2 years of a very long, life changing estrangement for my oldest child, Brian contacted me. At first he wanted me to know how angry he was that we didn’t have a typical mother/son relationship. He usually never comes out to say what he really means. We were estranged because he was a drug abuser and honestly he told me if I didn’t lie for him he no longer had a mother. I told him to make very sure this is what he wanted. It sadly was. Flash forward to that phone call 14 months ago. Brian hit rock bottom. He wanted help. In those short 8 weeks he and I reconciled our damaged relationship, more importantly he reconciled his relationship with Jesus. We texted everyday for hours, talked on the phone.

Flash forward 50 weeks ago…….(I actually wrote the following about a month or 2 after Brian died.)

My family’s life changed on May 28, 2015. My oldest child, my only son, committed suicide. Brian and I had been estranged for 2 years. 8 weeks before he died he reached out. He wanted help. He’d hit the bottom and wanted to be off drugs, find his joy.

In those 8 weeks before Brian died we talked about everything. The one thing that sticks out for me was the very 1st conversation. We talked about God, about Jesus. I said to him you say you don’t believe in God, but I think maybe you are just mad at Him. Brian started to cry. He cried hard and told me he was so mad at God. His life wasn’t going how he wanted. He told me of how he had been playing bass at church since Easter. We talked about everything in those last 8 weeks. We texted several times each day. I told Brian I loved him every morning and every night. Brian’s last words to me?

I love you Ma.

We were on the East coast for 15 days. We spread Brian’s ashes in the ocean. The ocean brought Brian peace. I also have a small urn that I keep.

That 1st Sunday back in Iowa, back in our church was hard. We sat in the overflow room in hopes no one would see us. I cried through the service. Pastor was preaching about the beatitudes- Happy are those who morn. Friends saw us, they hugged us, they cried with us. I cried every Sunday for several weeks. I couldn’t get past Brian dying. Living in a world where he isn’t here. I didn’t lose my faith. Was I angry at God for “letting this happen”? No. The enemy had Brian. Brian listened to the wrong thing. Brian died.

For the longest time I focused on my grief. How hurt I was. How angry I was that some friends didn’t really reach out to me. I can’t even tell you what I needed, or, what would have helped.

One Sunday I was sitting in the back of our church and I was silently crying, praying, listening. I could only picture Brian hanging. I could only see his hurt, his pain, his anger. I doubted he was in Heaven. God spoke to me and said Danielle, my Son hung on a tree too. Don’t worry about Brian, he is with me and my Son and his pain is gone. You don’t have to worry about where he is anymore.

I was blown away. I cried. And thanked God. In that pain in my heart there was a small flutter of joy. Brian has Glory. He is in Heaven.

I see things differently now. Joy comes in a different way now. There is this ache in my heart that will always be there but every so often I feel joy. And for that little bit of joy I am blessed.

Flash forward to today May, 16, 2016.

In this last year my life has changed so much. Before our son died I was able to reconcile our relationship. We had honest, loving talks. We texted each other several times everyday. I had 2 months with him that were a wonderful gift. We talked about life, God (I believe Brian is in Heaven) he knew Jesus, he is with Jesus now.

The outpouring of love from family, friends & people we didn’t know was overwhelming. We were on the east coast for 2 weeks, our families drew together and helped us. My husband and brother and sister in law took care of all of Brian’s final plans. We opted to not have an obituary put in the paper, mainly because it was $300 to do so & we weren’t even sure how we were paying for Brian’s cremation. Again our family and people we didn’t even know made sure everything was taken care of. It was a very small gathering at Plum Island, about 20 of us, just family. We laid Brian’s ashes in the ocean, a place I know he always found peace.

When we returned home family and friends called me almost daily, friends from church brought us meals & words of encouragement. I’ve made some new friends who are a part of this loss of a child, some very good friends, friends who get it. Along the way this past year I’ve withdrawn myself from a lot of things. Sometimes seeing the constant happy made me sad. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in sorrow. I tried many wrong ways of trying to cope with this grief, I drank almost everyday since Brian died, it took away some of the pain, in turn it scared my living children, so I’ve stopped drinking. I’ve tried pretending everything is just fine, didn’t work. I’ve cried and I’ve remembered happier times with my family. I’ve learned that I’ll never “get over it” as some have said I should. I will always grieve and a spot in my heart will always have an ache for Brian until we see each other in Heaven. I’ve learned that sometimes people are in your life for a time and that’s ok. There are days that I am still paralyzed in grief and there are days that I’m not.

I’ll honor God and Brian’s memory by loving. I’ll miss you Brian, I’ll miss you forever. I love you my dear sweet Buddy.

Since this happened I’ve lost many friends. Some because I have totally withdrawn and others because seeing me and my sad, pain filled eyes makes them think of their own child’s life.

One word.
Joy.

For the last 2 years Joy has been my focus. In joy I find love.

Finding joy after my son died.
Is there still joy? Can I ever feel that joy? I am afraid to feel joy.
Joy hurts right now. I still try to find one thing a day that brings joy.

To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
Isaiah 61:3

ByDanielle

My One Word… A Reflection Of The Last Year

My one word in January 2014 was JOY! How I tried to find the JOY in each day. I did this for about a month. I had every intention of finding the JOY in everyday.

Honestly I did.

I tried.

 

#OneWord 2015 - Danielle - Joy

 

Then Emma got sick. Emma, our last beautiful gift from God, has Juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Basically her immune system attacks itself, it attacks her joints. The joints affected start at her jaw and really goes to her toes. It’s in her spine, hands, wrists, hips, tailbone, knees, ankles & toes. When Emma gets “the common cold” or any other illness her body cannot fight it.

In January she got influenza A. We were away when she got sick. I still found the JOY. She didn’t have to be admitted to the hospital. Medicines seemed to be helping. She was doing ok. Emma didn’t really recover from the flu & got strep. Then an ear infection, then a sinus infection, then another ear infection, then another sinus infection, then she got C-Diff. Emma was sick for 6 months.

At the end of May Emma started to feel better. Being sick for so long took its toll on her as well. She was sad. Couldn’t understand why this was happening to her. Her awaking happened about the same time as mine. She went to arthritis camp & had a blast, she was flared up badly and spent quite a bit of time with the nurse.

In July my Dad & Step-mom blessed us with funds to come visit everyone in New Hampshire. It was truly a blessing to go there. I had been really homesick and needed to hug my Mom, Dad, step-mom,sisters & nieces. I just needed my family. We had some great adventures out there both, with family & alone. We went zip lining and by we I mean Sophia & Emma. I sat at a coffee shop having an iced cuppa. We went to the White Mountains and just soaked in God’s beautiful creation. We went to the ocean and again was mystified at its beauty. We saw a wild black bear at my Dad’s house which was amazing! We sat out by the campfire watching the shooting stars & just having amazing conversation. If it makes any sense, I have faith, I love Jesus and believe in Him with all my heart, but at the same time I was lost. I didn’t pray. I didn’t read my Bible. I wasn’t depending on my Creator to heal my child.

I realized in October my JOY was forgotten. All I needed, all I wanted was for my beautiful child to be healthy. I forgot about God. I didn’t pray, I didn’t read my Bible. I didn’t really go to church. People, family, friends would ask how are you? I’d lie and say everything is wonderful. Friends would invite us over or out and we would decline. Emma can’t be around anyone with a runny nose or cough. While all this was going on I withdrew.

I stopped relying on my friends. Depression set in for me. My friends reached out, on more than one occasion. I had shut down. Some of my friends aren’t really my friends anymore. That makes me sad. Sad that they just don’t understand. Emma looks fine, she even acts fine. What no one sees is when we get home she is tired, her body hurts. She will never complain. I’ve learned her cues. I know when something is bothering her.

Emma is sick. Emma. Is. Sick. I claimed that. I didn’t claim Emma is healed by what Christ has already done for her! For 10 months I claimed the wrong thing.

In September Emma started a new medicine. It requires us to go to the hospital 3 hours away once a month. After the 1st 2 treatments Emma was starting to come out of this chronic flare she had been in for 9 months. I realized, JOY! I also realized, as much as I believe in God, as much faith as I have in Jesus I realized I hadn’t fallen at the feet of Jesus. I hadn’t prayed. I hadn’t read my Bible once this year. I was present, but I wasn’t. About 6 weeks ago Emma got sick. Strep. Sinus infection. Bronchitis, belly virus. Trips to the doctor. Trips to Iowa City to see the specialists.

I realized today a few weeks ago at church that I still am not relying of God. Why am I not? At church today a man shared his testimony about the day his daughter was born. She was born by emergency C-section. She was born lifeless and grey. The doctors took her to work on her. He was praying with his wife and clearly heard the Spirit say go lay hands on your daughter and pray with her. He told his wife and she said go, go like he should have been gone 5 minutes ago. He went to the NICU and told the 15 nurses and doctors working on his daughter he needed to pray with his daughter. His prayer? LIFE! In Jesus name LIFE! In that moment his daughter started breathing. Her heart was beating on its own. Her color went from grey to pink. She opened her eyes turned her head and looked at her Dad & smiled. LIFE!

I realized today I can rely on my Christian friends. I can ask my family/friends to pray for my children. I can ask God for anything. He’s been telling me for months- FALL ON ME! I’ve already healed her. You just need to believe and have faith. Go to your church elders and have them lay hands on Emma. Danielle SHE IS HEALED.

I claim this. She. Is. Healed. JOY in everything. Joy in everything. Jesus is my JOY. So for the coming year my word is joy.

JOY!
I’ve got the joy joy joy down in my heart!
Down in my heart!!

ByAngie

A Merry Heart – And A Group Look Link Up!

All the days of the afflicted are evil,
But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.

When I was a teenager, I was already in a nasty battle with depression and anxiety that began in my childhood: The outcome of adolescent hormones and grief along with some unfortunate circumstances. I would become overwhelmed with everything wrong and I just couldn’t seem to get a grip.  My Grandma would ask me what was wrong, and as I began to list everything off she would quip back with scriptures like Proverbs 15:15, Proverbs 17:22, and many others. She would give examples that usually involved Polly Anna or Corrie Ten Boom. But most of all she reminded me of the promise that not only did she love me but so does a sovereign God that is on the throne.

All the days of the afflicted are evil, But he who is of a MERRY HEART has a continual feast. <a href=Proverbs 15:15 - Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven" width="550" height="334" srcset="https://raisingstickyhands.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/All-the-days-of-the-afflicted-are-evil-But-he-who-is-of-a-MERRY-HEART-has-a-continual-feast.-Proverbs-1515-Raising-Sticky-Hands-To-Heaven-.jpg 550w, https://raisingstickyhands.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/All-the-days-of-the-afflicted-are-evil-But-he-who-is-of-a-MERRY-HEART-has-a-continual-feast.-Proverbs-1515-Raising-Sticky-Hands-To-Heaven--300x182.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 550px) 100vw, 550px" />

I’ll be honest, sometimes I hated her encouragement. I wanted to sulk, cry, and vent. I always knew she was right, though. So I dried my tears and reminded myself of all the things she told me and go on with a smile on my face until the next “end of the world teenage crisis” would happen.

A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

Just like every other truth that is written in the Bible, the many scriptures about having a merry heart hold a lot of weight. If we don’t choose to be happy, even in the hard times, the negativity and darkness will overwhelm us and eventually lead to bitterness and extreme unhappiness. Without a merry heart, we see only the bad. But when we make that choice to be happy, no matter what, we are able to see the “sunny side” that the character Polly Anna talked so much about. With a merry heart, Corrie Ten Boom’s sister, Betsie, was able to thank God for the fleas that kept the Nazi guards from coming into their sleeping barracks instead of crying about one more problem during a time of extreme torment where evil truly afflicted every part of their days.

Now that I am an adult and have continued this battle with depression and anxiety, I understand more of what my Grandma was saying. I have seen God’s power in my life to know for certain that He is still on the throne. No matter how dark things may get, or how many nights are spent in tears, God is always in control. Even when it seems that there is no hope, I know that there is.

Does this mean that Christians should not seek medical help when things become unbearable? Not at all. By all means, if you need help, please get it. But it does mean that we should not focus on the evil around us. We should focus on the love of God, and rest in knowing that He will bring us through.

With a merry heart, we will strengthen and grow. The scripture is saying that with happiness we thrive. I am living proof. In fact, if I hadn’t chosen joy quite a bit these last few weeks, I would certainly not be smiling today.

Choosing to have a merry heart is not always easy, but it is always worth it.

 

A Look at The Book

Now, time for the link up!

 

Group Look Graphic

 

Our Host, Ren & The Ladies at A Look At The Book
Fellow Co-Host, Bethany at Graceful Country Diva
Fellow Co-Host, Mandy at Women of Worship


ByAngie

Bold And Fearless (And A Group Look Link Up!)

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 

Philippians 1:12-14 NKJV

It doesn’t take much looking around today to know that being a Christian is often frowned upon, no matter where you are in the world. In the United States, we are considered politically incorrect. In other countries, we are treated as criminals. The temptation to be silent and hide is strong. I know, because that is what I did for years until I became fed up. The fear of being looked down on and losing friends was a heavy burden to carry.

Heavy, until I realized what was happening to others on the other side of the world.

In fact, long story short, it was hearing a sermon on something along these lines that brought me to beginning this blog and “coming out of the closet as a Christian”.

Paul faced a ton of adversity when he made the decision to follow Christ. Yet he never let that stop him. He shared Christ with every person he came in contact with. Confidence in the Lord wiped out all fear and gave him boldness.

Bold and Fearless - <a href=Philippians 1:12-14 - Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven" width="600" height="480" srcset="https://raisingstickyhands.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Bold-and-Fearless.jpg 600w, https://raisingstickyhands.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Bold-and-Fearless-300x240.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" />

This is not an easy place in time to live in. We fear the loss of jobs, friends, family, and freedom for following Christ. Sadly, many have had to give all of that and more up already. Terrorists and anti-Christian regimes strip our brothers and sisters of their rights, possessions, and loved ones daily in other parts of the world. Yet, they stand firm. They are BOLD and FEARLESS in their proclamation of following Christ.

So why aren’t we?

I want to challenge you. Be bold and fearless. Become confident in God, that no matter what happens, He is in control. Stand firm in your faith and never waver because you are afraid. No matter if the fear is of something small or large. Because in the end, God wins, evil loses, and our reward in Heaven will be worth every bit of grief we face on earth.

If Jesus, Paul, victims of ISIS, and countless others can do it, we can too.

Now, time for the link up!

 

Group Look Graphic

 

Our Host, Ren & The Ladies at A Look At The Book
Fellow Co-Host, Bethany at Graceful Country Diva
Fellow Co-Host, Mandy at Women of Worship

ByJennifer A. Janes

Keys To Waiting Effectively

Keys To Waiting Effectively - Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven
These are tough times. My family is struggling, and almost every other family I know is struggling too, in one way or another. I’ve been praying and asking God for relief, for breakthrough, for help, for rescue – and not just for my family, but for all of us.

 

The good news is that prayer and focus on God are drawing me closer to Him and are showing me more about who He is, which reminds me what He is capable of. When I can remember that God is bigger than any situation or circumstance we find ourselves in, I am filled with peace. And peace is a great thing to have when you’re waiting to see God work in the situations that concern you!

 

Two keys to effectively waiting are:

 

  • Pray. Until recently, although I felt called to pray (and I did!), I wasn’t as focused and dedicated as I should have been. I’ve been reading a book about being a prayer warrior that has helped me to understand the importance of prayer and how critical it is to be fervent and faithful. When we all pray together, the impact on the spiritual roots of our problems is even more powerful!
  • Praise. Instead of worrying and fretting about what our families need, we need to spend our time praising God for who He is, what He’s done in our lives, and what He’s going to do. We need to play music that lifts God’s name and our spirits. When my home is filled with praise music, I find myself worrying less and trusting God more. I am filled with hope and faith, which are what God wants me to have instead of fear and anxiety. (It doesn’t mean I’m not concerned, but it means I’m resting and trusting in Him.)

 


I don’t have all the answers. My family has been waiting for answers to some of our prayers for a long time. What I do know is that prayer and praise change things! Even if my situation doesn’t change, my heart changes, and sometimes that’s the bigger answer to the prayer I didn’t pray.

ByJennifer A. Janes

Mamas, We Need Some Perspective

Mamas, We need some perspective

 

A few months ago I shared some tips for slowing down and finding rest. I’m still working on that. Really, I am! The problem is that there are bills to pay, dishes to wash, laundry to clean, kids to take to therapy and dance lessons and church activities and playdates, laundry to fold and put away, meals to prepare, grocery shopping to do, more bills to pay, and lessons to teach!

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed and sucked into the dailiness of life, to get caught up in the stress of having too much month at the end of the money, diapers to change, bottoms to wipe, puke to clean up, floors to mop, bathtubs to scrub, and trash to take out.

We need some perspective. We need to focus on the eternal. I have been convicted of that as I watch the news reports of the Arkansas tornado that devastated communities a couple of hours north of us on my younger daughter’s birthday. Foundations are bare. Piles of debris are stacked around what used to be neighborhoods. Families are attending funerals instead of birthday parties. The communities ache. Actually, the whole state is heartbroken. I have prayed for peace and comfort, for strength to rebuild.

And then I was rocked by a mama named April. April has a bare foundation. April’s possessions are in those piles of rubble and strewn across central Arkansas. April is in a hospital room, and she has two funerals to plan. Her boys are gone, and it looks like God planned it that way.

But April has what I don’t have. I would be angry, like the person who shared April’s story. April, on the other hand, while she still has a lot to process, has unshakable faith in her God—that He is good and has a plan, even when she can’t understand it. She rejoices in her children’s freedom from the brokenness of this world and in the fact that she will see them again one day.

I need that kind of faith. I want it. I’m tired of fretting and being anxious about everything. There is something beautiful in complete surrender to the Father and His will, even when it makes no sense to us, even when it’s painful.

To get that faith, to come to complete surrender, we have to keep things in perspective. This world is not our home. God is working behind the scenes, doing things we can’t begin to imagine. And He’s preparing us for eternity.

Mamas, why don’t we give ourselves a gift this Mother’s Day. Let’s give ourselves the gift of perspective. With it, we’ll get a peace we never dreamed possible, even in the darkest of times.

There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting. From Philippians 1:27-30 MSG

 

ByJennifer A. Janes

Embracing The “New Normal”: How To Handle Change

I’ve been gluten-free since last summer. I went dairy-free the first of this year. I recently started getting back into the routine of exercising four to five times a week, and I’m making every effort to read and crochet each day. In addition to my daily quiet time, I’ve started taking a “time out” several times a day to read some Psalms and pray. In the past few weeks, I’ve drastically reduced my sugar consumption.

 

Yes, my life looks much different from many people’s. Some of these decisions I made for my physical health. Some of these decisions I made for my mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Following the culture hasn’t worked for me. I needed a change.

 Embracing The "New Normal": How To Handle Change - "The thing about change is that it’s uncomfortable." Jennifer shares some advice on how to handle change in our lives when it is not easy. An encouraging post by Jennifer A. Janes at Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven

The thing about change is that it’s uncomfortable. It’s hard to learn a new way of eating, to rearrange your schedule to accommodate exercise, to stop throughout the day to pause and remember that God is in your day with you and you’re not alone. It makes me uncomfortable to have to ask for the manager every time I enter a restaurant (in addition to being dairy- and gluten-free, I also have a life-threatening allergy to another food) and to demand (nicely, of course) that they take appropriate steps to keep me safe. I don’t particularly appreciate the discomfort involved in exercise and the soreness that accompanies working out.

 

I do, however, like the results of all of these changes. That’s why I continue to press forward with my plans.

 

The longer I do these things, the more they become habits, part of the dailiness of my life, the more I embrace them because they’re good for me and because I feel better when I do them.

 

They become my “new normal.” After a while, they don’t feel new anymore. They just feel normal. Explaining why I do what I do seems less embarrassing and more matter of course. It’s just what I do.

 

If you’re trying to make big changes in your life, start with one thing at a time. Don’t try to make all of them at once. When one change begins to feel normal, start another one.

 

There’s no way to tell exactly how long it will take for you to feel “normal” about the changes you’re making. It depends on your personality and the magnitude of the change you’re making. Give yourself grace. Embrace the change, knowing that it will eventually feel normal.

 

I’m the queen of keeping things comfortable and familiar. Change is difficult and scary for me. If I can do this, you can too. As a wise friend told me last week, “Just do the next right thing.” That’s how you change your life.

 

What is your best tip for making a big change?

 

BySherry

Hannah’s Prayer: 1 Samuel 1:1 – 2:11

Read about Hannah’s Prayer in the Bible! It can be found in the book of 1 Samuel 1:1 – 2:11.


In November 2000, my husband, Matt, and I decided that we wanted to try and have another baby. So I went off the birth control pill and we started the process of adding another child into the Williams household. Already having a daughter in the mix, I desperately wanted a little boy. Someone who looked like my husband, and had an imagination like Calvin from the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes. We had gotten pregnant pretty quickly with Sarah, so I expecting a quick turn around this time. Yet, every month I would either start my cycle or have a negative pregnancy test.

 

Feeling pretty discouraged I talked with my mom. She had read an article about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). She thought I had that and wanted me to take the test in the magazine. So I did. It completely described me to a T. I went to my Dr with the article in hand, and discussed the problem with him. He thought there was also a good chance that I might have PCOS, and referred me to an Endocrinologist. The day of my appointment, Matt and I nervously went in to the new Dr. He wanted to have an ultrasound of my ovaries. Honest to God, they looked like a bag of marbles. He said, “You do have PCOS. Instead of producing eggs, your body is producing cysts. If you are going to have another child, it will have to be through fertility drugs.” He gave me a regime of pills to take to get my body back under control. During this time, I began to read the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel and felt her pain and longing for a son. I began to pray her prayer, as well as her praise. For even if I didn’t get a son, a still had a beautiful daughter whom God saw fit to give me.

Ask for anonymous Christian advice from the Mommy Panel at Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven - RaisingStickyHands.com

Three months later, we went back for a check up, to our dismay the pills he gave me didn’t work. He said that he wanted to start the fertility process with us. He gave us the run down of what that would entail. It seemed like there was so much to process at one time. Then he handed me a ton of prescriptions and told me to start taking them right away. One was to start my cycle, as I had not had one in 4 months. He said to me, “First take a pregnancy test. It will be negative, but better safe than sorry.”

 

Matt and I walked to our car like zombies. I looked at all of the prescriptions and said to him, “I don’t know if I want to do this.” He felt the same way. So we decided that we would spend 1 week praying and talking with our family regarding the fertility, as this would be a big deal to them too. So we did, we talked with people who had one child and asked the pros and cons, we also talked to quite a few only children. As the week wore on, Matt and I truly felt that God was telling us not to take the fertility drugs. Matt and I obeyed! It was not an easy thing to trust Him with this, but we did.

 

On September 10, 2001, I had lunch with our babysitter and told her our decision. She prayed with me and said that God was in control and we were doing good by listening. She also suggested that I take the pills to start my cycle as it had been too long since I had one. So I went and bought a test and had that prescription filled.

 

At 5:50 a.m., September 11th, Matt woke me up and asked me to listen to the new that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. So I got up, went to the bathroom, and took my pregnancy test. As the radio announcer said, “Oh my god, another plane just hit the 2nd tower!” I was looking at a positive pregnancy test. I was stunned. I grabbed the phone and desperately tried to call Matt. After 20 minutes he called me and asked what was going on. I told him I was pregnant. He said, “No, in the news. WHAT?!”

 

I really tried not to get myself excited over the test, because they had been wrong before. So I waited until my doctor’s office was open and went in for a blood test. One hour later, I got a call that I was truly expecting. It was a miracle. I recited Hannah’s praise right there at work. I always say 9/11/2001 was a very bittersweet day for me.

 

In May of 2002, I gave birth to our son, Lucas James Williams. He was 6 lbs. 9 oz., and 20 inches long. Yes, he kind of looks like Matt with the blond hair and hazel eyes, and acts very much like Calvin (I now understand Calvin’s mom). He also wants to be a firefighter and join the military, something he has said since he was 4.

 

Hannah's Prayer

 

I want to now fast forward to October 2013. I had the opportunity to take a tour in Israel. Our guide took us to Ramah, where Hannah and Elkannah lived. They recently found Hannah’s spring. Now I know in 1st Samuel the prayer written down took place in Shiloh, but also being in the situation Hannah was in, I could see her praying at this spring, as other mother’s bathed their children. Close by was a fig tree, and I could see her with Samuel on her knee teaching him about God. I began to weep and shared my story with the group. God is so good, and He gave each of us a small glimpse into scripture that touched us to the very core of our being.

Sherry - Hannah's Prayer

What was even better, was 2 days later, our guide took us to Ancient Shiloh, where they are uncovering the site of the Tabernacle. This is the place where Hannah cried out to God for a son. This is where Eli told her prayer would come true. The best thing about this is the day we went to Ancient Shiloh, we had a new guide, and he didn’t know about what I spoke at Hannah’s spring. So I received a double blessing on my trip. Isn’t it amazing that God cares about us so much that He will give us a special glimpse into His word. A story that I’ve heard hundreds of times, yet it has taken on a new meaning. Even now, as I read the first two chapters of first Samuel, I can see Hannah praying at the Tabernacle, I can see her teaching Samuel and she weaned him. I can see him running around the fig tree.

Tree - Hannah's Prayer

I want you know that even if you are going through a time of longing for a child, God is in control. It may mean fertility treatment. It may mean a miracle like mine, and so many others. God is in every one of our stories. I beg of you, listen for God’s voice. Read his word. There are numerous stories like Hannah in the Old Testament.

 

This is a view of the Outer Court — at Ancient Shiloh.

This is a view of the Outer Court — at Ancient Shiloh.

I have added pictures of Hannah’s spring, the fig tree near the spring, and Ancient Shiloh, where the tabernacle sat for nearly 400 years. The big stone square is the sacrificial altar they are digging up.

 

A view of the inner court and Holiest of Holies — at Ancient Shiloh.

A view of the inner court and Holiest of Holies — at Ancient Shiloh.

 

ByAngie

Called Out Of Darkness – My Testimony Of Salvation

I’ve gone through some pretty dark times in my life. Though the path to the darkest point began when my ex husband and I separated in 2004. I don’t know how to explain what happened to me. I grew up in church, living with my Mom and Grandparents who were Pastors. I knew all about salvation and the consequences of sin. Yet somehow how I found myself in the deepest pit of darkness without even knowing how I got there.

A few months before the separation I was sold out for Christ, but looking back I was allowing a lot of compromise to slowly come into my life. I began to make exceptions for circumstances and justify things that should have been recognized as sin. I became attached to people who were not following the Lord more than I should have. Just like the song by Casting Crowns, it was a slow fade.

On The Way To Hell In A BasketWithout even realizing it I had become one with the world. In the beginning I had guilt because I knew the way I was living was wrong, but it eventually was drown out with the overwhelming amount of new friends I had and the party life I was living. After residing in 2 different states for the prior 5 years where I had kept to myself, I was loving that I had a social life. While in the beginning I would hang out with these friends and not participate in the same things they did, over time I began to partake. In the beginning it was just flirting with sin, dabbling a little here and a little there. However, when I gave my ex husband custody over our 2 children due to my not being able to afford childcare so I could work to provide for them, I became emotionally broken.  I did everything but turn to Jesus. I wanted to numb what I was feeling.

80's PartyI turned into someone I didn’t even know. I dived in head first and was quickly spiraling downward. While I never did hard drugs, there were those that did around me. I became the ultimate party girl and if someone paid attention to me, I gave them anything they wanted. I spent money I didn’t have, drank every drink given to me (It was rare that I paid for my own drinks, no matter where I was),  picked up a lot of bad habits, and avoided anyone that would tell me I was doing wrong. I knew what I was doing was breaking God’s heart, but I didn’t want to have to deal with what was really happening: My life long dreams being crushed.

It’s a long story that would probably take a book to write, but even when I hit rock bottom, it didn’t stop. I just kept going. I lived in my mini-van with a man that repeatedly beat me, emotionally abused me, stole from me, and cheated on me for nearly a year. Only a few people knew my living situation, as I would still show up at my job looking like everything was fine. I painted a pretty picture for everyone and was always focused on giving everyone what they wanted, no matter what the cost would be to me.

Bob & Angie Schott

It was a few years before I turned back to the Lord. I had become agnostic and wanted nothing to do with any mention of Christ… That is until my Grandma died. A few days after she passed I had found out that the man I was in a serious relationship with that until then seemed like the most perfect soul mate for me had been lying to me about something that couldn’t be overlooked. I was now dealing with massive grief for 2 separate things. I had also recently been fired from a job that I loved and was barely making it as a temporary office assistant. I decided my only answer was to join the Army. I enlisted as quickly as I could and decided I was going to live it up until it was time to attend basic training. I barely ate as I had no money. I partied constantly. I gave almost everyone everything I could give them, no matter what it was. It was truly the darkest time of my entire life.

It wasn’t until a little over a month later when I met the man of my dreams, my true soul mate, and married him after just meeting him 3 days before that I turned back to Jesus and found salvation. What could have been the most impulsive and stupidest decision of my life was actually the best thing I could have done. I realized on our way home from eloping in Las Vegas that God’s hand was in my meeting my husband and that He still wanted me no matter what. For the first time in years I listened as God spoke to me as my groom laid sleeping in the passenger seat. It wasn’t an instant transformation though.

You see, I was so deep in darkness that it was quite a journey to find my way out. I had only a few Christians that had stayed in my life even though I had grown up in church surrounded by Christian family and friends. Everyone had written me off, and honestly, I don’t blame them. I felt shunned and not worthy to be in the presence of those that served the Lord.

 

1 Peter 2:9

 

Slowly, one by one, I became separated from people that were toxic to my relationship with the Lord. I began giving up things that were holding me back from growing in Christ. I kept pushing forward, even though some days I was certain that I would never be free from the chains that were holding me down, nor pure enough to be proven acceptable in the eyes of the Lord.

I am here to tell you that Jesus led me to find my way out. There was one scripture that I grew up hearing my Mom sing in church that would always come to mind as I was praying and became my anthem:

 

1 Peter 2:9

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

 

That’s right, folks. HE called ME out of darkness. He beaconed me constantly, begging me to come closer. I finally made it into His marvellous light, praying all the way that He would remove me from the darkness no matter what it took. I lost so many “friends” and things that at the time seemed so important to me. To say it wasn’t difficult or painful would be a lie, but now those wounds are healed. Having Jesus means more to me than anything else in this world or what it has to offer.

Do you feel like you’re in darkness? Maybe you’ve turned your face back to Jesus, but still feel something holding you back. I’m here to tell you that you will come out of that pit if you just keep praying. Read your Bible as often as you can. Allow God to show you things that need to be removed from your life. Stop doing the things that you know are wrong. KEEP PUSHING THROUGH! God will take your hand and pull you closer to Him. Forgive yourself for the things you’ve done, as God has already not only forgiven you but forgotten everything you have done if you have asked Him to come into your life and admitted your sin with a sincere prayer. It may take time, but you will get there. I’m living proof…

 

Schott Family Minus Bob