Monday, August 1, 2011

My Story

By Daria Wilson

I had been ridiculed, overlooked, and made fun of.

I had been beaten, bruised, and called stupid.

I had been yelled at and ignored and rejected.

I had searched for love and had been used.

I was broken. (1)

And then…Jesus came. (2)

He waited. (3)

Those that hurt me had finally been silenced.

They had tried to throw their stones, but I was still alive. (4)

He gently called to me. (5)

He silently waited until I was ready. (6)

He waited until the ache in my heart was ready for His healing.

He whispered to me again. (7)

And when I began to lift my head, He softly called to me, “My child.” (8)

“My child, I have been waiting.” (9)

He tenderly placed His scarred hand under my chin and ever so gently lifted my head. (10)

And there - in my tears - I looked up and saw Jesus who had died for me, the Lord who had taken all my hurt for me. (11)

He took it all away.

He had healed all my bruises, all my pain. (12)

He knew what it was to be hurt. (13)

When all had failed me, there He stood. (14)

I no longer flinched.

I no longer cried myself to sleep in utter silence. (15)

He told me tenderly that I was now worth something. (16)

He had carved me on His hand. (17)

He softly said, “You are my child. I love you.” (18)

And I had finally been…set free. (19)

1. Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

2.1 Timothy 1:15 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”

3. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

4. John 8:7-11 “When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said. “Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

5. Matthew 11:9 “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

6. 1 Corinthians 4:20-21 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?”

7. 1 Kings 19:12 “After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”

8. Matthew 18:14 “In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”

9. 1 Timothy 1:16 “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”

10. Psalm 3:3 “But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.”

11. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”

12. Isaiah 42:3 “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice.”

13. Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

14. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

15. Romans 10:11 “As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

16. Matthew 10:30-32 “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.”

17. Isaiah 49:16 “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

18. John 14:23 “Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

19. Romans 8:1-2 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

Daria Wilson is a single mom of a cherished 18- year old daughter and is a professional court reporter who works in New York City Criminal Court. She goes through life ever humbled by the tender care of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

My Last Day

By Kimberly Rae

Small buzzes, clicks, whirring sounds surrounded me. I lay flat on my back, in the flimsy hospital gown. Medical technicians were thinking about the MRI, about the fluid on my brain, about the eclamptic seizures that had brought me back to the hospital. I was thinking about death. Would today be my last day?

I thought of my husband, my little boy, and my new tiny baby daughter. I thought about all my big goals for my life, goals that had been crippled and marred by chronic health problems. Health problems had brought us home from the mission field and removed from me all the activities and ministries that gave me identity. These problems had, as I saw it, taken away my significance.

Over the past year I had struggled with discontent, a restless need to find some way to prove I was still worthwhile. Yet with each attempt, each new ministry or activity, eventually my health (or lack thereof) would hinder it, would require more help from my husband, would leave me exhausted, sick or both. I would end up neglecting my family as I used up my energy trying to keep up with the other things. After all, organizing a missions conference sounds a lot more important than changing diapers. Leading a Bible study feels more significant than reading bedtime stories.

But that day in the hospital, the possibility of it being my last brought a fear more claustrophobic than the MRI machine I was encased in. What if it really was my last day? What if I was dying? What would I want to do with my last day?

All those former seemingly significant priorities I had chased did not come to mind. All the activities that had given me a false sense of identity lost their appeal in the valley of the shadow of death. If it was to be my last day, I wanted to spend it loving my husband, loving my children, loving my God.

That was how I wanted to be remembered. Content. Unafraid. No longer striving, chasing after the wind. I wanted to be remembered as one who loved. And in that moment of light, as the machine whirred and clicked over my head, I had a blazing realization: If that is how I would want to spend my last day, why isn’t that how I am spending every day?

If my God and my family are most important, why am I living as if they aren’t? Why are they taking second place in my day, in my effort, even in my heart sometimes?

The months and years leading up to that day in the hospital, I had struggled with wondering what my life was worth if I could not chase after my dreams, if I could not attain the amazing, biography-worthy life I had always wanted.

However, that day I saw with beautiful certainty that I wanted to stay. I wanted to live, even if life for me meant fewer abilities and possibilities than it might for most others.

Lying in that MRI machine, I prayed, “God, if all I can do with my life is serve my husband and raise my children, I want to stay. Please let me stay.”

God answered that prayer with a yes. Later that afternoon, as a neurologist, an emergency-room doctor, and one other “ologist” stood over me, discussing which of two life-threatening treatments to try, they chose the right one. Eventually I was released from the hospital. Eventually I returned to my state of “normal.” Eventually I even had enough energy to go right back to struggling with my old addiction: the pull toward proving my own significance.

Like an addict, I still find myself longing to commit to activities, drawn toward proving that I am spiritual by outward show. Then another health crisis will knock me down, bringing back with startling force that promise I made that day as death faced me head-on. I made the promise, and I am accountable for that promise before God.

I know that God wants abundant life for each of us (John 10:10). I am learning, however, that His definition of abundant life for me is far different than what I had ever supposed. Abundant life is not an urgent, fast-paced life rushing from one significant thing to the next. Abundant life is having contentment in every season, with whatever role God has assigned for me within that season. It is a place of peace, green pastures and still waters.

Regardless of how small or large my role feels at any given time, God wants me to accept it with joy, to be a shining example of peace—of a gentle and quiet spirit—in a world where women feel they must prove their own worth by their talents, or beauty, or ability to make money.

That day in the hospital did not turn out to be my last day. However, one day will be. When that day comes, I want my restless, discontent spirit to have been replaced by a gentle and quiet one. I want me to have decreased, and Christ to have increased. I want those I love to really know they were loved. Most of all, I want God to be pleased, because I was finally willing to give up my own dreams for His.

Kimberly has rafted the Nile River, seen Mt. Everest, and eaten cow brains in Bangladesh, just to say she'd done it! She now lives in North Carolina with her husband and two young children. Her first novel, Stolen Woman, a Christian suspense story about a woman trying to rescue a trafficked girl, has been released this year on and You can contact Kimberly on her Facebook page under Human Trafficking Stolen Woman.

Trusting in the Storm

Cheryl Fellores

Fears. We all have them. Fears come in different shapes and sizes, but they share something in common: their ability to paralyze us and take our focus off God. The little voice of fear we hear becomes louder than the gentle whisper of our loving Savior.

In August 2007, my biggest fear became a reality. My teenage son, Justin, moved back to Indiana to live with his father. The weeks leading up to his departure, I prayed my most heart-felt prayers for God to stop the madness. God’s response was “Do you trust Me?” My instant answer was “yes, but not enough to give up my son.” That began my journey of truly trusting Him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

“Do you trust Me?” Those four simple words rocked me to my core because I understood what it meant. I’d have to face my biggest fear in life: losing Justin. God didn’t stop the nightmare. Instead, He held me close as I gave up my son.

None of this surprised God. He had been preparing me when He prompted me months prior to get serious about quiet time with Him. During that quiet time, He taught me how to listen for His voice and to dig deeper into His Word. That was paramount to helping me through my dark days.

Over the next few months, I battled hopelessness and depression as I prayed for God to bring my baby back. His answer was “No.” God reminded me that Justin had become more important in my life than my relationship with Him, violating the first commandment of “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). As I continued the learning process, God poured into me by surrounding me with women of faith. He also used Christian music to shift my focus from me to Him.

One morning, the light bulb came on while listening to Casting Crown’s “Praise You in This Storm.” Right then and there, I thanked God for my circumstances. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). God had a reason for this storm. He used it to help me completely rely on Him for peace. It was then that I accepted my situation. My heart was filled with gratitude right there in the middle of the biggest storm of my life. My thankfulness was no longer conditional upon Justin coming home. My faith had grown wings. I was soaring with God.

A few months after Justin’s move to Indiana, he came home for a visit. As he shared his desire to live with us again, I had to put my faith into action while fighting every urge in my body that wanted to take control to make it happen. No, this time, I was committed to doing it God’s way. Taking Justin to the airport was gut-wrenching, but I had to trust God, and this time I really did. As we waited, over and over I prayed “Your will, Your way in Your time – not mine.”

Then, it happened. On January 27, 2008, God rewarded my obedience and trust. Justin came home. This time, it was to stay.

In looking back, I realized something. There were a few prodigal experiences running simultaneously. Before this storm, Justin wanted very little to do with God. But now, he’s on fire for Jesus. I also ran back into Jesus’ arms, and that is where I will stay.

The memories of that experience are still painful, but it changed my heart as I learned to completely trust the Lord. God had a plan for this. He used it to transform Justin and our entire family, including me. This became part of our story. The story will be told as each of us reach out to the hurting to help them find hope in the Lord. “He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). God has led me to write a book and to share our story with Christian women’s groups. For Justin, God is calling him to become a youth pastor.

Do we ever learn when the experiences are easy? I rarely do, but I wish I had! This lesson stuck and has become my reference for every time the storms brew. I’ve learned that even though the storm clouds are rolling in, the sun still shines behind them. Our Lord shines even when we can’t see Him in the raging storms of life. He’s still there – just like the sun shining behind the storm clouds. “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5b). But, it’s not enough to just know that in our heads-we need to know it deep in our hearts.

God has a plan for each of us. He needs us to step up and engage in that plan. It brings meaning to our lives and to the pain we have suffered. We are called to help others to find Jesus in their storms of life.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

God’s promises aren’t just for those who lived many, many years ago. They are for you and me. We have a choice. Will we trust Him? Will we strain to hear His voice in the midst of our storms?

Speaker and writer Cheryl Fellores is passionate about helping others find Jesus. She and her husband Joey raise four children, ages 18 to 5, just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Cheryl actively volunteers with a number of organizations including the Cove Church and In His Steps dance ministry.