By Kristin Bonham

 

My family is experiencing some major growth this fall!  Two of my girls, Taylor and Katy are having babies 5 weeks apart, my daughter Taylor and her family moved in with Chris and I so they can renovate a new house, and my daughter Abby is getting married in a few months.

At the same time, I had 2 major projects at work getting ready to launch.  I was running from one thing to the next, changing roles and hats minute to minute.  My task lists were everywhere and emails were tough to keep up with.

Like many of you, I have become used to juggling crazy loads and functioning at full capacity.  It has been a great accomplishment to be able to handle a lot and somewhat manage my stress.  What I learned a few weeks ago, is that if I am at full capacity, I have nothing to draw from when life throws a curve ball.

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I was preparing to leave for A Beautiful Weekend and Taylor mentioned that her 4 day-old baby, Reese had a fever.  When the triage nurse told us she would be staying in the hospital for 3 days minimum, we both started crying.  After lots of tears, I helped get them get settled, packed my car and headed out to the ladies retreat.

I woke up the next morning at 5:45am and thought, ‘if I jump in the car right now, I can be at the hospital by 7, spend a few hours with my girls and be back in time for our team to arrive for the retreat set up.’  Everything went as planned until I got a speeding ticket on my way back to the beach.

Cue pity party.  Boy was I having one!  I was telling God Reese was sick, people aren’t cooperating with my timeline, I’m juggling so much, and now I got a ticket! No fair! I was a mess.  I knew what I had to do that night at the retreat and was thinking,  “there is no way I can even put two sentences together.  I have nothing. “

My mind was racing, my thoughts were exaggerated and not going in a good direction…. And all of the sudden, I heard the Holy Spirit say, “you were speeding.”

Truth.  I was speeding.

Many times we cannot choose what is happening to us or how much is happening in our lives but we can choose how we handle it.  We cannot choose how someone else is acting or responding to us but we can choose how we respond.  In that moment, when the Holy Spirit gave me a reality check, I knew, I had a choice.  I could stay in my pity party or I could change my attitude.  I could stay stuck, or let God use it.

It’s amazing what God will use when you let him.  I needed His perspective, His direction and His peace.  In the midst of the struggle to juggle it all, the only way I will ever have peace is through listening to Him.  That is my choice.

 

By Becca Christensen

 

If you’ve been following the Beautiful Blog for a while and you’ve read my previous posts, this one’s probably going to seem a bit out of character.  Normally I’m the girl with snarky sense of humor, the prayer wall, and the stories about using game nights and good food to draw people in and tell them about Christ.  If you pop by my desk at work you’ll hear me from halfway down the hall chatting and laughing.  That’s me.  But this year has been really hard and for any of you who have had a year like mine, well, this post is for you.

As a kid I had a book my parents bought me called ‘Where is God When…’ and each page had a different scenario.  Sometimes in life now I think about those – where is God when people are cruel?  Where is God when my family is hurting?  Where is God when I feel helpless?  Where is God when I’m sick?

This spring I boarded a plane.  I wiped at the tears welling up in my eyes for the umpteenth time that week and I took a deep breath.  I was flying to be with my very best friend when she got the results of a test for cancer.  It was the second time ever she’d said “I need you” and there I went.  And I had thought, prayed, and cried my way through the two weeks between that test and the result I was on my way to hear.  Where is God when we’re scared and hurting?

Becca 10:15As the year went on the Lord gave me my second beautiful niece.  A healthy, gorgeous gift.  Then a month later my sister would be hospitalized for emergency surgeries and those emotions came back full force.  I was set to leave on a mission’s trip the very next day.  I cried all day and all night as she had two surgeries.  After she told me to go on the trip I cried the entire drive to the Miami airport.  Five hours.  Where is God when our hearts are broken and our loved ones are sick?

My beautiful, strong sister came home from the hospital a week later.  Things weren’t better yet but they were going to get better and that was enough.  My heart felt hopeful and like it may be starting to rebound – when that very week one of my friends lost her child and my Dad lost his best friend.  I thought, ok Lord, when does this end?  How much hard can one year hold? Where are you when everyone I love is struggling and I don’t know how to help?

Before the start of the year I had made a commitment to the Lord – my faith will be steady.  I have pursued him every day.  And in the hardest, ugliest moments of this year, he has been there.  That’s where He is, with us.  Psalm 34:18 says, ‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit’.  I kept praying and he kept giving me the strength, the peace, and the answers as I went.  It didn’t make it easy.  It’s truly been the year of the ‘ugly cry’ as I call it.  True to His word though, he hasn’t left me in it alone and he won’t leave you either.

My verse for this season has been this ‘My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart’ – Psalm 108:1

By: Mary Giraldo

The day I had longed for was quickly arriving. February 10th, 2015. This was a day that had been etched in my brain for several years. This was the day that had been set for my Dad to be released from prison. This day would have marked 8 and ½ years spent in prison. On occasion during our weekly phone calls we would talk about how this day would be; what his first meal would be, his first night sleeping in his own bed and the vision of his beautiful reunion with his wife of 38 years (my mom) who waited patiently for him to return home. As the 1 month mark approached, we received the devastating news that he would not be able to return to the home that he and my mom had shared for 25 years. At that moment I felt once again that the world was crashing all around me.

My pleads to God began, why?…Lord, he has been so faithful in clinging to you and furthering your kingdom behind prison walls, why can’t he come back to his house? The questions flooded our minds. But Dad wasn’t as concerned, his outlook remained the same – anywhere is better than here. Because of the nature of Dad’s crime finding a place for him to live was challenging. The prison system requests that an address be secured weeks before release date. We had nothing; day after day we hit road block after road block. I had the prison calling me threatening to list Dad as homeless if we couldn’t find anything. Dad remained unshaken – anywhere is better than here he continued to say, God is faithful, He’ll make a way.

I’ve often shared with others the idea of having what I call “life anthems” – worship songs that you hold onto and run to when your world is shaken and you can’t even utter words to speak in prayer. I’d flood the air around me and soak in these words of worship. Some of my songs include: Great is Thy Faithfulness, Praise you in the Storm, and most recently, Overwhelmed and The Rock Won’t Move. When my mind was overtaken by the enemies scowls of defeat I would hold onto the lyrics of The Rock Won’t Move by Vertical Church Band:

“When the ground beneath my feet gives way man-cliff-e1396845320493

And I hear the sound of crashing waves

All my world is washing out to sea

I’m hidden safe in the God who never moves

Holding fast to the promise of the truth

That You are holding tighter still to me”

Those last three lines were my promise. This song became my battle cry. God was my rock and He remains my rock. The song continues, “On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand, but THE ROCK WONT MOVE!” Even though we felt alone and defeated, God was reminding me of His truths; I was not alone. Psalm 18:1-2 says, I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Almost 11 years ago in 2004 when Dad was arrested I met Christ, I came into what would be the most beautiful relationship I’ve ever experienced – I learned of His faithfulness then. Dad was sentenced to prison in 2006 – we clung to God’s promises of faithfulness, even when the outcome was not what we expected. For 8 ½ years Dad served time in prison and by the grace of God used this time to share the love of Christ with others and experienced the supernatural protection of God – God’s faithfulness never wavered.

In the eleventh hour, 3 days before Dad’s release date, a judge overturned Dad’s restriction to return to his home. On February 10th, 2015 we experienced the fullness of God as we witnessed Dad walk from behind the barbed fences of prison into physical freedom. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we’d expect, but one thing remains unchanging, God’s faithfulness;

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8