Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Jodi LaFrance)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

Some of my favorite holiday memories are of my family going to my dad’s hometown of Montell, Texas, over Thanksgiving. I remember the smell of the perpetual campfire that burned under the ancient oaks whose limbs stretched long and high overhead. We’d wrap ourselves in blankets as we sat in metal chairs around the fire and stare up into the sky. Those huge ancient live oaks growing around the house my dad grew up in in south Texas always fascinated me. Dad said those oaks were already growing when Santa Ana was a private (That’s Texas-speak for “they’re really old”).

South Texas hardly ever sees snow, so during the fall and winter holidays my brother, sister, cousins and I would run down the hill behind my grandparents’ house and play by Montell Creek. We were free to roam just about anywhere. Countless hours were spent down there watching the clearest, cleanest water I’d ever seen run over fallen limbs and river rock. We were pirates, cops and robbers, river royalty, and a host of other amazing characters as we delved into the depths of our imaginations.

Our parents had a special yell to call us up to the house again. I remember big breakfasts, simple lunches and big family dinners. Neighbors forever stopped by to drink sweet tea with my grandparents. I don’t think I understood until much, much later how connected they were with their community. They loved their neighbors and their neighbors loved them. Holidays were full of feasting and friends.

My grandfather Papa Tom had cattle so we’d go check on the cows after breakfast. I never could understand how he didn’t get lost driving through the cedar-infested pastures of their part of Uvalde County. One cow path looked the same as the next, but not to Papa Tom. He knew that land like the back of his hand. My grandparents worked hard all their lives and I will be forever grateful for their influence on my life.

My grandfather passed away in 1992 and my grandmother’s health declined greatly over the years afterward. We lost her in 2012. But all throughout those years my aunts Liz, Rebecca and Alice did the lion’s share of meal planning for these big family gatherings. As my sister and I grew up, we were inducted into the rhythms of kitchen life. It was there that we really started to hear the details of what we’d been missing in each other’s lives. It was during one of these times that my aunt Rebecca Jane got me to help her make this crazy recipe for Jalapeño Sweet Potato Soup we were all quite unsure of.

Turns out it was a big hit and has since become one of my husband’s favorite fall/winter soups. The recipe credit goes to Cynthia Collins Pedregon and can be found in The Peach Tree Tea Room Cookbook. I’d like to share it with you.

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Jalapeño Sweet Potato Soup

3 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, sliced
4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
8 cups chicken broth
¼ cup pickled jalapeños, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons jalapeño juice
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup cilantro leaves
1-1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

  1. In large stock pot, sauté bacon and onion in butter until just tender. Add garlic and cook about two more minutes.
  2. Add sweet potatoes, chicken broth, pickled jalapeños, jalapeño juice and cumin. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. When done, add soda, cilantro and milk. Coarsely mash potatoes with a potato masher.
  4. Stir well and taste for salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes stirring frequently.

Makes 14 cups.

Garnish with sour cream and 3-4 jalapeños, cut in thin lengthwise strips-pepitas are good, too!

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Jodi LaFrance and her family came to Harvest in 2008 and says she’s “dug in like a turnip.” She currently serves as a worship leader and life group leader at the Plainview Campus.

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Shelli Jarvis)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

One of my favorite holiday memories actually comes from my first year of marriage.  Lyle and I were living in Budapest, Hungary. As missionaries, we were keenly aware of the generosity of believers stateside who made our life possible, and so it was important to spend that money wisely. We wanted what little Christmas budget we had to give gifts to our families stateside (and the postage to get the gifts there!).  We debated over purchasing a tree, but real trees were relatively cheap, and since we were spending Christmas without family, we splurged for the tree, hauled it up the five flights of stairs (no elevator!) and set it up.

Then came the dilemma: what to put on it?  Some generous Hungarian church members had given us a few Christmas ornaments they’d decorated themselves. I think we had 5 of those. Our tree, though green and fragrant, looked slightly bare with only 5 ornaments. But we got creative.  Some thoughtful American soul had sent us popcorn. Now this wasn’t the Orville Redenbacher pop-in-the-microwave kind, and we didn’t have a microwave anyway. This was your 1960’s Jiffy Pop over-the-stove-flame popcorn, the kind with the metal handle that forms a ring around the pan (Some of you are too young to know what this is but Google it. It’s still available at Walmart, even).

So we strung that popcorn, and Lyle, his creative juices REALLY flowing, took the metal ring/handle and fashioned it into a star. We covered it in aluminum foil and voila! We had a beautiful topper for our tree. We were pretty proud of our work, but the best part came on Christmas morning.  We had each budgeted $5 to spend on the other, which was a lot of money for us back in 1992 (Now, if you know the story The Gift of the Magi, ours may sound vaguely familiar, but there were no pocketwatch chains or hair combs involved)! He got me a beautiful pair of blue enameled earrings, and I found him a novel in English (a rare treasure in those days).

We have spent 24 Christmases together since then, all with a larger budget. We’ve accumulated many ornaments and decorations and had beautiful trees, presents piled high underneath many years. But when I think of a Christmas where we truly experienced “peace on earth,” I think of that year when Jesus had blessed us through the sacrifices of others first so we, too, could give.

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Pumpkin Dump Cake

1 15 oz. can pure pumpkin
1 10 oz. can evaporated milk
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup coarsely crushed graham crackers and/or pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9×13 baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside. In a large bowl combine the pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir to combine and pour into pan. Sprinkle cake mix over pumpkin mixture, followed by graham crackers and/or nuts. Pour melted butter evenly on top. Bake for 45-50 minutes until center is set and edges are lightly browned. Serve warm.

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Shelli Jarvis is wife to Life Group Pastor Lyle and a willing volunteer at the HCF Amarillo Campus.

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Jill Moudy)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

One of my favorite holiday memories is of our family loading up with my aunt, uncle, cousins and sometimes even grandparents every November to trek into the forest to cut down our Christmas tree. We lived in Grants, New Mexico, and the beautiful Cibola National Forest was practically in our backyard.

Usually there was snow on the ground, and we’d take a metal thermos of hot chocolate with styrofoam cups and bundle in our winter clothes to find that perfect Christmas tree. Although the tree looked glorious in the mountains, usually when we got it home, it was actually much bigger than we thought–one side was flat, and the limbs and needles were so fresh and soft that the ornaments would slide right off. But it was beautiful, it was ours, and we had picked it out together.

Now that I’m a “grown-up,” I realize it would have been much easier to go buy a pre-lit artificial tree with a snap-in stand, bendable branches–without the never-ending-dead-pine-needle-clean-up.  Instead, my parents valued doing something together in nature, as a family, and it stands out in this little girl’s mind 30+ years later. Although there are no mountains in our backyard in Plainview, our family still enjoys buying a live tree to keep the tradition alive! 😉

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Christmas Morning Casserole

1- 24 oz package frozen shredded hashbrowns, thawed

Press thawed hashbrowns into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour 1/3 cup melted butter over potatoes. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until brown.

When cool, add to dish:
4 oz shredded  Monterey Jack cheese
4 oz shredded hot pepper jack cheese
One cup cubed ham
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms – optional
(I usually make the recipe to this point and put in the refrigerator overnight, then add the egg topping on Christmas morning and bake to save time)

Blend in blender:
3/4 cups half and half
3 eggs (you can add more eggs)
3/4 t. Seasoning salt

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Goes great with a cinnamon roll and coffee on Christmas morning!

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Jill Moudy is the Women’s Ministry Coordinator for the Plainview Campus and wife of Gabe, who is the Executive Administrative Pastor for HCF.

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Brooke Kellum)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

The holiday season.  It’s a season full of activities, family, friends and memories.  And, of course, yummy food. 🙂 While I have many wonderful memories from growing up, one Christmas stands out above the others.  When I was in college, my family decided to go on a ski trip together instead of doing gifts.  Now, it should be said that I LOVE to ski.  I’m there early, and time it appropriately so that I can catch the last lift up to the longest run in order to maximize my time.  On top of that, lunch is normally a protein bar, because I don’t even have time to waste eating.

My family made many memories on the ski slopes that year, but some of the even more precious memories that we made were off the ski slopes.  We didn’t know anyone in the area, so we were just with each other for days on end.  We played Rock Band, watched movies and plenty of football, cooked all of our meals together, and even went sledding together on a small hill outside of the home we were staying in. Then, on the way home, there was a massive snow storm that had all kinds of roads closed, so we had to backtrack, and traveling home took an extra day.

Needless to say all this time in the car afforded us more time to make even more memories—although at the time, we didn’t feel like they were happy memories. This also happened to be the last Christmas we had together before fiancés and husbands were added to the family.  It was the last Christmas that was just myself, my parents and my sisters.  I will remember this Christmas trip forever, and I will always treasure the bonds that we built as adults and friends on this trip.  The memories will last much longer than any gift that could have been given that year. Now that I have children of my own, I try to remember that during the holiday season.

We do gifts for our small children, but we also have traditions, and we try to give them experiences, so that long after the toy breaks, or the book is torn up, or the movie is no longer interesting, they have the memories of growing up and enjoying Christmas with their siblings.  I want my kids to have something to hold on to, something to remember when the holiday seasons aren’t easy, or when they are grown with families of their own.

One thing that we like to do together is to make gifts for our friends at Christmas time.  This also happens to be one of my favorite recipes—because it is so easy and absolutely delicious.  Make memories with your family this Christmas. You won’t regret it.

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Crockpot Christmas Candy

1 lb. dry roasted salted peanuts
1 lb. dry roasted unsalted peanuts
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 oz. German’s sweet chocolate
2.5 lbs. white chocolate almond bark

*I like to add one bag of Reese’s peanut butter chips, but this is completely optional*

Layer all ingredients in the crock pot with the peanuts on the bottom.  Cook on low for 1 hour and then stir.  Continue cooking until completely melted.  When the mixture is completely melted, stir and then spoon onto a cookie sheet (covered in parchment paper), or into mini muffin cups.  You can leave them out to harden at room temperature, or freeze them.  Either way is delicious!

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Brooke Kellum is the Director of Special Events (Kid City Summer Camp, Catalyst Camp, Men’s Retreat, Women’s Conference, etc.) for Central Ministries.  She also volunteers in Kid City and with the Catalyst youth ministry in Plainview.

Connecting with God in the Midst of Every Day

Hi Ladies,

Contrary to popular belief, not all pastors’ wives rise before dawn and roll out of bed into the Holy of Holies when they give the first of their day to the Lord. Frankly, I’m in a stupor when I get up and I quite agree with the Folger’s commercial, “The best part of waking up, is [coffee] in your cup.” Many times I leave my morning “quiet time” feeling like that time wasn’t what it was meant to be, which is time actually spent with the Lord. I may have read the Word, but did it penetrate my heart? Did I actually have heart to heart conversation with the Lord? Thankfully, our time with Jesus doesn’t have to look like the pastor’s or a serious Bible scholar’s.

I have a few favorite ways to connect with God. The first is playing a worship song and turning it into a prayer. Holy Spirit by Brian and Katie Torwalt is fantastic. “Holy Spirit you are welcome here. .. I’ve tasted and seen of the sweetest of loves, where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone….” Another favorite is David Crowder’s, Here’s My Heart. I concentrate on His presence and the meaning of the worship/prayer. Often I try to extend my quiet time into my “exercise” time by walking in front of the house while the kids sleep, worship music blaring from my phone. This wakes up my mind, and works great for praying over personal concerns and for others.

A simple thing that I sometimes do in a brief moment is to just stop and say, “Thank you, Holy Spirit.” I acknowledge His presence and it is powerful.

I hesitate to share this next thing because it is very personal and precious to me. However, I’m probably not the only one who struggles with a wandering mind and this helps me to just be with God. I have a picture in my mind as I rest in Him. In my mind’s eye, I am perched on a rock on a high place. God is a huge bird: warm, comforting, protective, strong. His wing is around me and I lean against his chest. We are looking out over a valley together. I think about this image and stay in His presence. In His presence is peace. Psalm 91 (KJV) says,

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty….He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust.

The Scriptures are full of imagery revealing God’s nature. I’m not a very visual person, so if God can give me this image, I know that He will give you a picture of your own if you ask Him.

Finally, sometimes I just spend time meditating on a scripture God has highlighted for the season I’m in. Doing that gives me confidence in Him and peace.

May your times spent with Jesus be precious,

Erin Smart

This post was written by Erin Smart. To read more about her, click here

Grief and the New Normal

You’ve lost a parent. The funeral services are over and family and friends have returned to their lives and normal activities, and you realize that the normal you once knew no longer exists. You are faced with a new normal, one you didn’t want and didn’t ask for. There are no more Tuesday doctor appointments or Friday lunch dates. You pick up the phone to call your loved one to only realize that no one is there to answer. A hollow emptiness follows and you feel that you are all alone.

Everyone has moved on and seems to wonder why you haven’t, too. They don’t realize their normal still exists so they have the same platform to operate from, where your normal is gone and your very foundation has been shaken. The solid footing you have known your whole life has crumbled and changed.

You have stepped into a new reality with a new foundation of normal. It is similar to the end of other phases in your life. You graduate high school and can never go back to childhood. You get married and no longer identify with the single crowd. You have children and life is forever changed. A big difference between these situations and the one you are facing now is that you looked forward to those changes. You were happy about them, dreamed about them, planned for them. You shared your joy and excitement with your family and friends. But this is something different. The joy and excitement is missing, and you don’t jump in with both feet ready to get this new life started. You stand on the edge of your new normal looking back at what you no longer have, remembering, wanting.

You feel lost and alone. Your emotions are all over the place, and sometimes you question your sanity. “Is this normal? Do other people feel this way?”

You are not alone. It is like an elite club whose membership requirement is to have experienced the loss of a parent and faced the transition into a new normal. We see you and feel your hurt. Even if we know nothing else about you except that you have lost your parent, we feel a bond with you. It is like a secret handshake in the brotherhood. We identify with you.

You may not hear us or see us, but we are thinking of you and praying for you. We think of you in the days and weeks following the services, when all of your family and friends have gone home. We think of you each time we think of our lost loved ones: on holidays; in the grocery store seeing the cherries that Daddy always bought; sitting and watching the grandkids and remembering the patience Mother had, sitting for hours watching us; seeing you praise and worship in church, and knowing that the Lord is meeting you in a special way and touching you deep in your spirit.

I just wanted you to know. You are not alone.

This post was written by Darla Carthel. To read more about her, click here.

Experiencing God’s Love During Singleness

Have you ever paused, reflected on your life and thought “How did I end up here?  This is not where I thought I would be.”  This is the very place I found myself last November, right before the holidays. It was a rough season to get through, but I also look back at that time with such joy and thankfulness.  I was in the beginning stages of learning how to become more intimate with my Lord and Savior.

At the beginning of this journey, Satan often reminded me of my track record. I’d had glorious moments with God since I became a Christian at the age of 13, but I had never been consistent.  But.  God had begun a work in me, and I final started having the faith that He would and could complete it (Philippians 1:6).  I begged God to show me how to have consistency and intimacy with Him.  He didn’t give me answers overnight, but He has taken me on a beautiful adventure that has required time, trust, and willingness.  I want to share with you a few things that I’ve learned so far on this road to being content in my singleness.

God’s love is unfailing, and unconditional. One night, my youngest son was sick, and I was getting some serious baby snuggles as a result.  The weight of how much I love him swept over me.  I touched his soft baby skin and held his tiny finger in adoration when my eyes were opened wide to the love the Father feels for the Son. I am one of His adopted daughters (Galatians 3:26) and He loves me with that love I feel for my children, multiplied by an amount unfathomable.

For the longest time, the way I thought about God’s love was twisted and conditional.  Over time, by meditating on the truth, I have come to realize that I am valuable to Him (Psalm 139:14; Matthew 10:31) and that His love and grace really can transform me into who He created me to be (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:16; 2 Corinthians 3:18).   If you are reading this and doubt in the least bit the love God has for you, ask Him to show you.  He will.

I gain more of God by letting go. Tragically, sin has been blocking intimacy with God since the very first sin recorded in Genesis.  Praise God that 1 John 1:9 states:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Letting go of my past and accepting His forgiveness was a process, but I’m finally starting to see myself the way He sees me, and it’s so freeing!  I am free to be close to Him and have joy.

Spending time with God is the best way to want more of Him and purify our desires in other areas.  Prayer journaling was a great start for me, because I had a hard time focusing on my prayers at first.  I still love to write my prayers, but I also tend to connect faster when I’m looking at His beautiful creation. If you are having a hard time feeling His presence, please try something new….be willing.

Whatever season God personally has you in today my friend, my prayer for you is that He will bless you with more of Himself.

This post was written by Korey Coffman. To read more about her, click here.

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The Words You’re Probably Avoiding

Finances. Budgets. Bills. These are words most couples dread, right?

This topic has been on my heart, so I wanted to share a few principals we follow that I believe bring peace to this area in our finances.

  1. Tithe/Give. If you’re on the fence about tithing, I can promise you it’s worth it to be obedient to the Lord. When we follow His word and do as He asks, abundant blessing follows. Our first couple years of marriage, our combined income was below the poverty level, and yet, we followed this principal of giving 10% of our income to the Lord—and we never went without. God has always provided everything we need.

We’ve always had the mindset that everything we own is God’s, and from the very beginning, we’d ask him, what do you want us to do with your money? My dad used to tell me, even as a young girl, “You can’t out-give God.” How incredibly true! From the beginning of our marriage, we not only tithed, but we prayerfully considered giving to specific ministries every month. At first, we couldn’t give much, but as we were diligent to give away the little that we had, God quickly and immeasurably provided a blessing in return. With every raise we’ve ever had, our question has always been—Okay, God? How much and where to?

  1. Save. We saved enough for a down payment to buy a house within one year of being married on an income that certainly felt teeny-tiny. Want to know how? We save 10% of our income each month. 10%–that’s all. Give 10, Save 10.

We’ve been supernaturally rewarded by being stewards of our money in this way. We’ve been married 9 years, and we’ve paid off roughly $90,000 in debt. Today our only debt is our house, which will be paid for in 13 years or less. I don’t say that to brag—in fact, I was humbled when I started totaling it all up in preparation for this post. But because I know it’s possible to tackle what might even feel impossible, I want to encourage you: it can be done!

  1. Mutually submit. We get paid twice a month, and we immediately tithe and save 10%. We do it on the gross income (though we don’t think there’s anything wrong doing it the other way), so we’re a little more stretched. What’s left after that is the money we live on and the money we give away.

So what do I mean by mutually submit? Every couple has a spender and saver—and sometimes to more or less varying degrees. Whether you’re one or the other, remember that every financial choice you make affects your spouse. You’re communicating love and respect by how you spend your money (or by what you withhold in spending).

If your spouse has asked you not to purchase something or to be conscious of the “leftover” money this month, then honoring that amount is the way you honor him or her.

And I believe the Lord blesses us, not only when we honor each other with our spending but when we honor Him with our money as well.

I know money isn’t everyone’s favorite subject, but I hope you’ll be encouraged this week. If your bills feel too high, if your savings feels too low—begin to ask the Lord how He wants you to steward your money (and then be obedient! 🙂 ).

His word is true. Psalm 23 begins,

The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not lack.

Believe that, my friends. He will always provide for you!

This post was written by Laura Brandenburg. To read more about her, click here

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Lessons that Came from Pain

In the summer of 2015, Eloise was bit by a rattlesnake.  It is only by the healing hand of God that she is still alive today.  We are grateful for her testimony and we pray it speaks to your heart.

I was walking on the freshly mowed grass on a warm summer evening when the fiery pain shot through my foot. I knew I had been bitten by something. Afraid to look down, I screamed as Emily turned to see a rattlesnake clutching my ankle and refusing to let go. The seconds felt like an eternity as I kept my eyes forward, refusing to face the reality of the moment, until finally, the serpent released its fangs and cowardly slithered under the fence.

LESSON 1: YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN THE SERPENT WILL STRIKE.

A few days before the snake bite, Miles and I took a marriage retreat. We spent time praying, talking, and having fun together. God gave us specific visions for every area of our lives. We anticipated seeing God’s plan transpire. We also worked on our bucket lists. “Miles, #15 on my list is going to be: witness a physical healing. How awesome that would be!”

LESSON 2: GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS. IT MAY NOT BE THE WAY YOU THOUGHT HE WOULD. 

Just days later, I found myself in the ER, taking injections of anti-venom. Compartment Syndrome in my leg was a probability, and the swelling continued to creep up my body. Once out of the woods for surgery, the condition of my blood was the next concern. Toxins were throwing my blood into complete chaos. Venomous snakes do not tend to hold on to their prey. In my case, the snake held on, releasing every bit of toxic venom it had. Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC Syndrome) was the diagnosis. DIC can lead to multi-organ failure, widespread bleeding, and even cause death if not treated correctly.

In this situation, I had absolutely no control. I began to see things from a new perspective when I accepted God’s sovereignty. My situation did not change, but my mindset did. Trusting God took the focus off myself and put it on my Savior. “God, where are You in this?” changed to “I cannot do this by myself. I cast my cares on You.” [1 Peter 5:7]

LESSON 3: I DO NOT HAVE CONTROL. CAST MY CARES UNTO THE LORD.

I learned to praise God in the miracles along the way. On the terrifying days, I cried out, “Jesus hold me!”, and He was faithful to do so. Rollercoaster, yes. Constant God, Yes.

Fifteen days in the hospital and 34 vials of anti-venom later, I was released to go home and begin the process of recovery. “Miles, you should be planning Eloise’s funeral,” explained Dr. Sharp. What a miracle! I had witnessed a physical healing.

LESSON 4: DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF PRAYER AND THE BODY OF CHRIST.

With a room filled with flowers, Scripture, and food, how can you not experience the Presence of God? The Church is the avenue for God’s love to be expressed. I experienced love mainly through intercessory prayer. Intercessors are people who can carry us to the throne of God when we are unable to get there by ourselves. Jesus intercedes for us [Romans 8:34], and we intercede for each other. I was anointed with oil and prayed over by complete strangers. I could not have come out on the other side without the Body of Christ.

The truth hurts, but it will set you free!

LESSON 5: PAIN IS NOT WITHOUT PURPOSE.

That is the promise of Romans 8:28. God did not make this happen to hurt me, but He used it to build me. God turns misery into ministry. God promised this in the beginning,

Then the Lord God said to the snake, ‘You will be punished for this…You will crawl on your belly and eat dust as long as you live. I will make you and the woman hate each other…Her offspring will crush your head and you will strike her offspring’s heel.’

[Genesis 3:14-15, GNB]

This was a foreshadowing of the Gospel. Jesus’ death on the cross was the strike of the serpent. But the resurrection was Jesus crushing his head, leaving the serpent in defeat. Psalm 91:13 says “You will crush under your feet the lion and the snake.” Yes, Lord, I will!

There were many more lessons learned from my experience two years ago. My human mind cannot conceive a God that is so powerful, loving, and good, but my heart accepts it without reservation.

This post was written by Eloise Bell. To read more about her, click here.

The True Caregiver

I’ve always been a person to take on responsibility for things, even when they weren’t mine to carry.  In fact, I was so bad that when things went wrong I would take the blame and then murmur and complain to the Lord!  The reason I say that is because it carried on into my family after I got married.  This festered in my life for years.

Then, in 1990, at 39 years of age, I found out I was pregnant.  When Sarah was born we soon found out that she had physical obstacles.  Who do you blame?  Well, of course, you blame yourself.  That’s when I began the “blame game.” It’s all my fault, I was too old, blah, blah, blah!  In that place, I forgot to seek the Lord.  I forgot to listen to Him.  On the outside I looked like the godly wife and mother who cared for her family, but in reality I was caring only for myself.  Everything I did, I did for recognition or praise.  It was all centered on me.

In that place, though, I cried out to the Lord and He heard me!  In that place, I truly began to see that I wasn’t alone; the Lord had not forsaken me.  He was there all the time, shining His precious light on areas that I had taken over.

When I realized that I wasn’t in control and began getting my directions for the day from the Lord, my life radically changed.  1 Peter 5:7:

…casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.  Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.  After you have suffered for a little while the God of all grace…will Himself, perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

It doesn’t matter if you are a caregiver for a husband, child or parent, you must be in Him.  Everything you do must be as unto Him! When I truly received this truth, my life and family was totally restored. Now I can’t imagine my life without my daughter.  She has brought so much joy to our lives.

Have I had opportunities to choose my way or God’s way? You bet! I have learned, though, when I go my way it brings exhaustion, frustration, and confusion.  Not a good place to be!  I then take a deep breath and I think on Jesus.  Philippians 4:6 tells me to be anxious for nothing. And in verse 8 –

Whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute…if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Jesus is the true caregiver!

This post was written by Beverly Sharp. 

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