3 Reasons We’re Lonely and How to Cure It Now

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{Please help me welcome Lea Ann Garfias to the blog today!}

Like every great mom, I exert enormous amounts of time socializing my children. The extra classes, music rehearsals, soccer practices, part-time jobs, parties, play dates, and church activities crowd the calendar into a cacophony of social commitments — for everyone but me. Everyone is having fun with their friends except me.

I thirst for friends every bit as much, nay, more than my children do. I yearn for a kindred spirit, a companion in arms, a gal-pal. My husband is great — no, he’s smokin’ hot and crazy funny — but he doesn’t get coffee, clothes, and mental exhaustion jokes like a true girlfriend. The need is real.

But when I finally realize my thirst, it’s too late. I’m already emotionally dehydrated, parched from lack of fellowship. I have companions, prayer warriors, and soul sisters right there at my left hand, waiting for me to reach out, and I don’t even see them. All I can see is my to-do list in my right hand. My own life, my own agenda, my own needs grow great in my own sight until everyone else has faded to invisibility.

So I minimize the problem. Seriously, when was the last time we saw a mother keel over from thirst inside the Sack-n-Save? “Mom down with dehydration on aisle 7!” blares the loudspeaker. Tsk, tsk. Should have brought her water bottle, or bought a coffee on the way in, or at least sipped some of her toddler’s apple juice, we think as we nudge our cart around the corpse. Amateur.

Of course getting thirsty isn’t that big a deal — until you are admitted into the hospital for kidney problems (don’t ask me how I know). Similarly, neglecting friendships isn’t that big a deal — until our very souls are on life support.

Those dark days come when we desperately need a prayer warrior, a confidante, a warm hand. The days when the laundry won’t end, the phone won’t stop ringing, and the toddlers won’t stop destroying. The days when the sky falls, the diagnosis comes back, the job ends, the parent dies, the teen rebels, the church splits. The days when all our carefully laid plans and gingerly balanced spinning plates come crashing down, shattering at our feet. The days the dreams die.

Who do we call when we have no words to say? Who do we turn to when the burden sickens our bellies? Who can hold our sighs and our secrets until the skies clear?

God Himself knows we need others, and He declared it not good, not right at all that we be alone (Genesis 1:18). We are created for communion, for companionship. Our togetherness itself glorifies God as His ultimate plan for unified praise.

We need friends, and a friend needs us. It’s a basic life principle that we too easily forget, too casually set aside, until suddenly we find ourselves unprepared for troubles.

Two are better than one,

Because they have a good reward for their labor.

For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.

But woe to him who is alone when he falls,

For he has no one to help him up.

Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;

But how can one be warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.

And a threefold cord is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9–12; NKJV).

We struggle to make friends, making excuses instead. I’m shy. I’m an introvert. I am busy at home with my children all day. I work full time. I work from home. My church is too big; my church is too small. The church people are not friendly; there are too many cliques. But that’s all we make — excuses. More small reasons to ignore the greatest working of God through me.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13; NKJV).

God works His love into my life, through my life, out of my life. He reaches out of Himself to love me, shape me, grace me with His likeness, and I reflect Him by doing the same, reaching outside my four walls toward others. God’s love sees through my eyes the needs, reaches through my hands toward the needy.

Thus, the shining badge of faith becomes loving friendship. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35; NKJV).

So there are two reasons we find ourselves lonely; yea, three situations that find us without a companion: a cross-country move, a selfish attitude, a schedule that leaves no room for others. The good news is, we can cure all of those.

Moving Away

I’ve moved eight times in my life and across the country twice as an adult. I can assure you beyond a shadow of a doubt that even introverts can make friends quickly in a new town with this simple speech:

Hi, my name is _____________. I just moved here from ___________.

That’s it. Most of the time, a stranger will do the rest of the talking for you after that, maybe asking a few questions to get to know you. They will pretty much fill you in on what you need to know about the street, organization, or store you find yourself in at the time. After that, just accept her invitation to meet at the park / come over for dinner / visit her church. Keep repeating the speech until you have met so many people you can’t remember their names.

A Selfish Attitude

The second cause of loneliness, a selfish attitude, is harder to overcome, because we first have to recognize it. Indeed, it took me way too long, too many years, to recognize the real fallacy of my thinking. I was focused on the wrong things — friends for me. How selfish is that? But of course, I don’t need friends. As long as I continue evaluating relationships based on what they are doing for me, then I’m not going to value the people and opportunities that God has blessed me with. I’m not loving the way Christ loves if I’m only loving myself.

Sometimes I’m not looking to the friend at the left because I’m whining that there is nothing at the tip of my right hand. I demand my friend dress a certain way, educate her children like I do, attend my church, agree with me on politics, doctrine, music, and movies. Stay right in this place, and then I will allow you to meet my needs.

How foolish is that? Such critical attitudes oppose the very love Christ demonstrates on our behalf. The Pharisaical pride in status and association slips into our hearts and lives easier than we care to admit. God places people, loves people in various backgrounds and perspectives all around me. He’s calling me to look around and reach out.

Busy Schedules

Finally, we may be lonely because scheduling conflicts render our calendars more important than Christ-like love. Task-oriented overachievers like me fail to remember that the things we do are less important than the people we touch. If I complete all the to-do lists of men and of angels and have no time to talk with a live person, I am a worthless machine or a faithless robot (to paraphrase 1 Corinthians 13).

God’s plan is to use each of us in extraordinary ways . . . through these ordinary relationships. Our spouse. Our children. Our friends. We are not called to celebrity or fame, we are called to loving relationships. That all starts when we simply reach out.

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LEA ANN GARFIAS believes there is enough coffee in the world to make even dreadful Thursdays tolerable. In her book Rocking Ordinary (New Leaf Press), she helps ordinary moms realize their extraordinary influence. When she’s not homeschooling her four children, cheering at soccer matches, or performing the violin, she’s passed out asleep. You’ll find evidence of her existence at lagarfias.com.

Holding on to Hope in the Face of Addiction

Holding On To Hope

Please help me welcome my sweet friend Caroline Duncan to the blog today. She is sharing from the heartache of her own family’s story in the hopes of helping even one of you to know you are not alone and that there is always hope…

I walked down the steep basement stairs alongside my mother, holding hands as we descended, afraid of what kind of wreckage we would find. My brother had broken in again, this time too deliberately to be mistaken for a drugged attempt to find a place to sleep. As we surveyed the mess before us, I watched my mother’s face go pale, changing quickly from confusion to despair: a look I saw on her face far too often. Our precious books were ruined. Eleven years of stable, treasured memories were suddenly altered; destroyed. Surprisingly, grief is the first wave to hit you in a drug related crisis. There is a deep loss of the person that comes with the breaking down of memories with who you once knew.

In 1999 the United States Mint started making state quarter coins as part of an initiative to honor each state in our nation. I was eight years old at the time. I had an older brother who was eleven, a younger brother who was four, and the most spectacular parents. My dad worked during the day and came home for a brief window before going out again to his night classes shortly before our bedtime. During his time at home, we would build pine straw forts, play Legos, or chase him around the house on all fours, us being the dogs and him being the possum to catch. We would finally overtake him all at once, bringing our possum down and erupting into laughter, punching, and roughhousing. My mother was always finding sweet and interesting things for us to do together.  For one of these activities, she bought three ‘state quarter collection books.’ They were tri-fold cardboard covered in red, white, and blue and with a map of the United States inside where you could push the quarter of each state in its place. We opened our after-school presents excitedly and wrote our names in our own books. Over the course of the next eight or ten years, we collected quarters for our books.

Every time we got an Icee at the gas station or my mother checked out at a store, we excitedly searched through the change for a state quarter. Each time it was followed with ‘Whose turn is it to put the new quarter in their book?’ If there were three state quarters, we each got one. We would hold them tightly in our hands until we got home. Our mother would get our books and we would push our quarters into their places, comparing who had what states left and who had the most quarters.  As we got older, the excitement of getting a quarter faded, but the competition remained on who would get all their quarters first. We mostly cared to show mom that we loved her and cared that she created a fun memory for us. I don’t remember when each of us got them or who won, but I know I was almost 14 by the time my book was filled. Our books sat propped up on the bookshelves, a secure memory of togetherness and intentionality shown by our beloved parents.

As a 20-year-old at the bottom of those basement stairs, I held my emptied quarter book in my hands and held back tears while I watched my mother hold my brothers’ books in disbelief. How did we get here? What had our loved one needed so badly that he would steal our quarters from our books; corrupting valued memories with the ones he loved most? Knowing that the quarters only equaled $37.50, not nearly enough for the next hit of drugs, in exchange for priceless memories was too much pain to bear.

That is the strangest thing I’ve learned about addiction:  it is a process of grieving that steals memories and damages your past as much as your present and future. Questions relentlessly press on us when we stare into the face of addiction, questions about God and questions about ourselves. Where is God when we can’t find one another? Where is God when the present darkness takes over memories we’ve already made? Where is God when despair replaces hope and when disappointment becomes as natural as breathing?

Addiction spreads as quickly as a wildfire, affecting friends, family, co-workers, schoolmates, sometimes before the beloved addict even knows what they have started. The effects of the addiction slowly but surely break you down physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  I have learned much in my 25 years but have not learned it all, and am so very far from mastering one of the most basic concepts; hope. After becoming a Christian at age 15 I struggled with guilt over not having hope in the face of addiction. It felt strange to my young mind that a Christian would struggle with hope, since hope in Jesus and the cross is the basis for our belief system. Shouldn’t I have faith like a child and hope for the best, letting go of the pain of the past and fear of the future? As I’ve grown older, I realized that it felt strange to me to feel hopeless because so many in the church aren’t honest about their own problems grasping it. I went from a confused (but seeking answers) 15 year old to a bitter 19 year old and then moved to a complete disillusionment with Christians by the time I graduated college as a 22 year old.

In the last few years, I have finally learned that God still brings freedom and hope, even in the face of hopelessness and the shame over feeling the loss of hope in my spiritual life. Together, we have forged through more addiction-related crisis and painful moments than I care to recall. God and I, we have moved through the moments hand in hand, sometimes walking steadily, and sometimes feeling like I couldn’t get my face off the ground and wipe my tears away to manage one more breath.

Hope, alongside life, seems to operate in past, present, and future tense. Those early days spent getting our quarters and being children were filled with hope, untouched by addiction and grief. Satan tries to use addiction to not only ruin your present days and worry for the future, but it also takes you backwards, wondering what you could have done differently, and wondering if life was as charmed and simple as you saw it then. Luckily, through Christ, I have cast off shame from my struggle to believe, my struggle to hope. Thankfully, I serve a living God, a strong God, a faithful when I’m faith-less, God. Romans 4:18A; 20-21 says, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.” God has showed me that while I will pray in hope against addiction, and without knowing what kind of answers I will get to those prayers, I can grasp onto the hope that God has given me through my own deliverance.

God has promised to be there. God has promised me that He holds my heart and my family in his hands, giving me Hope. Always giving me more hope.

**Read the new spiritual memoir, All The Pretty Things, by Edie Wadsworth for another story of HOPE and REDEMPTION in the midst of addiction and loss. 

 

caroline-picI’m Caroline Duncan. I live just outside of Asheville, North Carolina in Swannanoa with my husband Curt & my beautiful eight month old daughter Arden. We serve at Biltmore Church where Curt is the Student Pastor. After growing up with addiction intertwining itself around myself and many of my family members, I found freedom through Jesus Christ and have sought hard after Him and encouraging others to find their own freedom. My very favorite thing in the world is to come alongside others on a daily basis and fight for hope amidst our struggles. I spend my days molding my sweet girl, doing ministry work alongside our awesome church, making, taking, & eating tons of food, and having intriguing conversations with our students, usually over a waffle house table, about living a fulfilling life with God.

Our God Stories

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{Thank you to my dear friend, Denise, for this guest post. Keep reading for the give away at the end of the post!} 

Writing a book and birthing a baby seem to be a pretty common comparison. And now I see why. Being the clever person that I am, I have tried to come up with a better analogy—mainly to get the visual of “that face” out of my mind—you know the one of the woman being told just one more push. Try as I might, I can’t seem to find one that communicates all the components and emotions quite as well.

Candace was the first person outside my family that I gave a book to. She was the first person I trusted with my baby. I knew that she was gentle and kind and encouraging. I knew that if she had to tell me it was terrible, she would do it with so much grace, I would probably not even realize she was doing it. Candace is a nice person and a good friend.

As it turns out, I think she may have liked it, since she came back to buy ten more and invited me to share about it on her blog.

My baby, Little Cabin on the Trail, is my attempt at convincing people to be intentional about making meaningful memories and to be intentional about becoming their family storytellers. Our personal stories have great value and are the glue that connects generations.

I do realize that some of you are just trying to make it through the day with little ones, and you probably don’t care about generation-connecting at this point. That’s okay. You may just need to think of your stories as the glue that keeps your children in their seats at the dinner table. Yep, start telling stories about your childhood, and I guarantee a captive audience.

The book breaks down the process in true storytelling fashion. I share a lot of my own family tales that have the potential to make you laugh or cry or both. We’ve traveled the roads of adventure, faith, and even grief. And we’ve met many colorful people along the way. Oh, don’t go thinking we are anything special, because we are just as ordinary as the next family.

As a matter of fact, one of my ordinary children told me this year that he hated Christmas. What? After I just wrote and published a book where I touted the benefits and importance of family traditions? He made me wish I had not been quite so generous with my compliments of his achievements in the chapter entitled “Family Fodder.”

No sense expounding on that subject. Let’s move on to the chapter, “Extreme Faith,” where I share the importance of setting up some memorial stones to remind our families when God came through for us in big ways.  An excerpt:

This chapter is about storytelling that is the result of serious risk-taking, not the in-the-moment-take-a-chance kind where not much is at stake. Serous risk-taking is usually preceded by serious prayer and planning as well as some serious nail-biting. It can be compared to the Israelites crossing the Red Sea on dry land. When it is over, you are given the opportunity and, I think, the responsibility to to set up some memorial stones for your future generations.

Referring to this section of my book, a reader recently sent the following question:

“I hate to sound unspiritual, so I humbly ask . . . What do you mean by ‘memorial stones’?”

I told her to read Joshua 4 where the Israelites had just crossed the Jordan River on dry ground, and Joshua instructed them to take twelve stones from the river bed to make a memorial.

And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (verses 21-24)

I don’t know about you, but I think the timing of Joshua’s idea was both brilliant (it was a lot easier to gather the rocks while the river bed was dry) and a little discouraging (he was assuming that they would need to be reminded of such a great event).

I don’t think I would have needed a pile of rocks to remember to talk about a thing like the sea being parted.

And yet . . .

I have forgotten.

I have forgotten to tell my children many things—important things.

I have forgotten to tell my children of times when God has provided, comforted, directed, forgiven . . . I have neglected to tell them the God stories that make our family unique, stories that grew out of love and faith and hardship and everyday life.

Sometimes we do need to stop and pick up those stones and make those memorials. Sometimes we need to be reminded to tell those stories. Because just like in the times of Joshua, our God stories are this generation’s memorial stones. They will be what waters the seeds of hope in our children’s hearts for years to come.

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When we go to visit the real Little Cabin on the Trail in Damascus, Virginia, we almost always walk along the creek looking for treasures: broken pieces of bottles, plates, cups, and whatever that have traveled downstream. Every single item carries with it a piece of the past. Unlike at the beach where such treasures are scarce, we’ve collected enough of the smooth, colorful creek glass to fill many jars. I can only imagine the lives of the Appalachian people that are represented by each piece.

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Those pieces of glass also represent the faithfulness of God in our lives. They have become my memorial stones, giving testimony of a time when God came through for us when our hearts were so broken that we doubted they would ever heal. They remind me how we came to own the Little Cabin on the Trail and how the book of the same name grew to be what it is.

I don’t think I will ever tire of the hunt—even if I fill 12 jars. Because I love being reminded and I need to be reminded that “the hand of the Lord is mighty.” And in years to come, I hope my children and their children will look at those jars and be reminded to tell the story of when God parted the sea for our family.

And just in case they do forget, I wrote about it in my book.

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Denise Mahr Voccola is a dear friend of mine. She has spent her life bravely walking the balance beam between responsible and crazy in her quest to make meaningful, storytelling-worthy memories with her family. Three generations of her family share a historic home in Morristown, Tennessee. She and her two daughters, Kelly and Tessa, also share a blog home, Fifty Seventy Ninety. You can also see pictures from each chapter of her book on this page

 

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This give away is now closed! Congrats to Morgan, Debbie and Kristina! 

Waiting on God: Your Stories {Give Away}

Learning to Wait on God Your Stories  MercyIsNew.com

What is the trial God has placed before you? Infertility? Adoption? Depression? Health issues? Marriage? Ministry? Moving? Grief? Whatever your struggle is, the women who have shared as a part of this series have blessed me tremendously with their words of hope as they have turned to God amidst their pain.

I cannot believe we are at the end of this amazing series. 16 phenomenal women have shared how they have waited on the Lord, in good times and bad, how their faith has grown and their trust has been deepened.

What I love most about these stories is that not all of them had happy endings. Just like in life, for each of us, we don’t always get the fairy tale ending we’ve been dreaming of. Yet, so often that is what we find ourselves waiting on. So, when we do find ourselves waiting on the wrong things, we become fear filled, we lack peace and we are discontent.

When we learn to place our hope in God alone, when we truly wait for Him and not our circumstances to change, THEN we are filled with His peace.

I encourage you to read back over each of these posts and let your heart be encouraged.

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This give away is now closed, the winner is Donna! Thank you all for entering!

Prizes for One Winner

Print copy of Wait Only Upon God.

Wait Only Upon God Devotional

 

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Waiting on God in Times of Transition

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After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. 1 Kings 19:12

Transitions are difficult. When my children were little babies, the transition from two naps a day to one was always tough. They were quite tired late in the morning and yet I had to wait to put them down just a bit longer so that they could sleep deeply for that one long nap. Eventually they adjusted and things were good.

Transition is like that for us as adults too. Perhaps we are between one life event and another. Marriage to parenthood. Having a baby to having a toddler. Halfway living in a house you’ll soon be moving out of to begin another adventure in life. Saying goodbye to people you love and then saying hello to a place and to people you want to learn to love.

We wait, emotionally and physically stretched thin, reaching for rest and the moment when everything will right itself and one life stage gives way to the next in all its fullness. Waiting on God is not easy.

In times of change, like the precipice of time where my family and I are standing tentatively right now, waiting as we pack up eight years of our lives and leave a home and community we love and feel safe in, there is a certain, unchanging hope.

Life turns in circles, but thankfully God does not.

For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. Malachi 3:6

Oh how thankful I am that the Lord will carry us gently into our next place. There is so much uncertainty in transition. It is a privilege that we as Christians do not have to rely on ourselves to make things work. The Holy Spirit can lead us in confidence to take the next step. And sometimes it’s the first step that’s the hardest. But there are times that it must be done.

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We can praise Him for His gracious gifts in all times, whether we are fully certain of what our future is going to look like or not. There is a time for stability, quiet and rest. And then change inevitably comes, often brought on by God Himself.

As I was talking with a friend a few weeks ago, we came to this conclusion. Sometimes God calls to us and says:

I don’t want you to be comfortable. I want you to be challenged.

How hard that is to hear. And yet how true.

The creation of a pearl is truly a miraculous thing. It begins as a foreign object–an irritant–within an oyster’s shell. Something that the oyster believes does not belong, and he seeks to ease the feeling it gives him by covering it layers of a soft, crystalline coating over a long period of time. And yet as he works to cover it, it becomes a part of his life…..and eventually it is revealed to be something beautiful and lovely.

This is a picture of life, is it not? The rough edges smoothed, the difficulties we encounter used to transform us and bring lustrous beauty out of struggle. The waiting giving way to newness, sometimes bringing with it resistance but also a joy that cannot be explained away.

God is near and present in times of transition. And it is my prayer that you and I will not disregard this in-between as something to be pushed away or ignored but as a brief pause in life where we allow God to work in our hearts, bringing us in….and under…..and then through.

Grace and peace.

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior…. Isaiah 43:1-3a, NASB

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose trust is the LORD“For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8, NASB

 

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Jennifer Thorson is a pastor’s wife and mother of four, who realizes that it’s the grace of God that carries her through each day, giving her joy in this journey through motherhood! Her goal at The Purposeful Mom is to equip and encourage other women to trust in that grace and embrace motherhood purposefully, without the pressure to be perfect.

Waiting Builds Faith

Learning to Wait on God Your Stories  MercyIsNew.com

{Thank you for joining me for this series of posts from dear friends around the world who have learned through their own seasons of waiting that it is, indeed, good to wait only upon the Lord.  Find my 40 Day Devotional on Waiting on God in my shop.}

40 Day Devotional on Waiting on God

Scrolling through my Facebook feed, I sat and waited to get off the phone. I sat and listened as my mom retold me things from our previous conversation from the other day.  She could hardly be blamed for repetition. Life was focused on recovery from brain surgery to remove a tumor. I listened to her and waited once again.  I waited for her recovery to end so I could have my mom back. Selfish thoughts of finally going on the weekend getaway we planned together after recovery were interrupted by “Richele, I should let you go.” 

I hung up but I couldn’t quite shake the feeling of her words. Her voice cracked when she said, “Richele, I should let you go.” Was I crazy or did that sound more than letting me go from a phone conversation? I didn’t know it then but these words and the sound of her voice would be replayed in my mind countless times. These were the last words she spoke to me. 

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The call came early on a Sunday morning. We rushed to the hospital to wait. Wait for miraculous recovery or death. The doctors were clear that she would never wake from her coma. But they were wrong. She would wake up in Heaven within 12 short hours. 

My mother used to say her life was spent waiting. She waited for people to change. She waited for circumstances to change. She waited for a diagnosis. She waited for answers. Now, she was waiting to meet her Savior. 

It is an odd feeling to wait for someone to die. A dark part of my heart thought it would be easier if the waiting was over. I was wrong. It wasn’t easier. Now, I waited to get through the funeral. 

A year later, I began to experience anxiety. I waited for the day to end only to begin another day set on replay. I waited for God to remove the noose of fear from around my neck. 

During these periods of waiting, I wondered why God didn’t step in sooner. Why must I wait for His love to bind my wounds and turn ashes into beauty? 

Abraham waited until he was 100 years old to have a son.

Moses waited 40 years in the desert.

David was on the run for 8 years.

Waiting builds our faith and intimacy with God. During times of waiting we learn to depend on God. Our patience is strengthening and we begin to understand long suffering. If we aren’t careful we will miss it. We will be insistent that time on our knees has been wasted. We will look to ourselves or an outside source to find immediate relief. 

God used family to express His love while I waited in my mom’s hospital room.

God showed me that I needed only Him to find relief from anxiety. 

I never felt God so present in my life as during the waiting periods. During times of trial it isn’t that God is more present it is that we seek Him and realize He has always been there. He uses the waiting periods to refine us and transform our character; to make us more like Him. 


Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. -Psalm 27:14

When you find yourself in one of life’s many waiting rooms, do not lose hope nor think God has stopped listening. Use this time to rest in His arms and allow Him to fill you with strength and wisdom. During my time of wait, I spent in the Word and praying. Intimacy and dependence on God grew along with a feeling of overwhelming love. These feelings were not immediate but grew with time as I surrendered my heart and will. 


Don’t spend your time watching the clock. While you wait, spend your time with God and He will guide you to a place of rest and then you will emerge victorious. 
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Richele is a homeschooling mom with on the job training in grading math, teaching phonics, and cleaning up glitter, in between making dinner and folding laundry. Her desire to encourage moms led her to create the blog, Under the Golden Apple Tree. Her dreams of hex color codes and love of fonts led to her to create her design business, Crisp Apple Design.

 

 

 

 

 

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Waiting Well

Learning to Wait on God Your Stories  MercyIsNew.com

{Thank you for joining me for this series of posts from dear friends around the world who have learned through their own seasons of waiting that it is, indeed, good to wait only upon the Lord.  Find my 40 Day Devotional on Waiting on God in my shop.}

40 Day Devotional on Waiting on God

I have been a Christian ever since I can remember and it seems much of the time I have been waiting on God…for something.   God seems pretty intentional in this area.

When we are young, we wait for Him to reveal what our future will look like, who we will marry, how many kids we will have, where we will live and what our lives will be like.

Over the years, I have waited on the Lord through the birth of eight babies, 5 miscarriages, 3 grand babies (including the loss of one at birth) and many changes and moves.

All that to say, I truly believe that it is in these times of waiting that God does some of His greatest and deepest work.

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Our youngest child was born with a major heart defect that had to be corrected with a 6 hour open heart surgery at 3 days old.  This was followed by complicatons that stumped the doctors.  Silas lay in an isolette with dozens of tubes coming out of him and we were unable to hold him for weeks.

During that time I drove an hour each day to the hospital leaving our 7 other small children home with my husband or in other’s care.  At night I would drive home, leaving our newborn in the hands of people I really didn’t know, hoping that he would live for me to see again when I returned the next day.  I cried both ways. My heart ached.  I prayed constantly.  This went on for 2 full months. But never had I felt the presence of God so strongly.

There were moments when I felt like God was telling me to simply “give Silas” back to Him fully and completely, which meant I had to say out loud that I was willing to let him go and let God take him.  Every time that happened and I did this, God would whisper back, “I’m not going to take him, but you are going to have to be patient and TRUST me.”  I had no idea what that would look like, but there was grace in the moment.

We were waiting for answers.  We were waiting for a miracle.  We finally got it.  The doctors did another surgery to fix what they were guessing the problem COULD be and it worked.  We got to take Silas home after 2 months and he is a healthy, happy 10 year old now.

What God showed me during that time was that HE had every detail of Silas’ mysterious condition FULLY under His control.  There was nothing out of the scope of His hands.  HE would be honored and glorified through it all.  And He was.

I also learned that I had a choice in how I could respond to what God had laid in front of me.   I could:   1.) RESIST; I could fight Him inwardly and outwardly.  2.) RESIGN;  I could resign myself to these circumstances I had been dealt, but my heart would, in essence, be bitter and resentful.  Outwardly I might look obedience, but inwardly, I would be in rebellion.  Or 3.) EMBRACE;  I could fully and completely embrace this difficult time, unabashedly trusting in a God who I believed was good and sovereign and who would work everything out for my good and His glory.  I could embrace the grace that was mine to walk through this fire.  I could walk by faith and not by sight.

I believe that I could have responded any of these three ways and it wouldn’t have changed Silas’ outcome.  But what a loss it would have been for my heart, for my relationship with God, and for my faith.

While we are waiting, it feels as though God is doing nothing.  I have learned that, often, that is when God is doing the MOSTIt is a work that is so deep and so holy that it sometimes cannot be comprehended and often is left unnoticed.  It is a work done in the secret places.  It brings healing to the areas of our hearts that we never knew were there and never knew were so deeply in need.  It is an eternal work.

And so, learning to wait well is not only a discipline in patience, but, more importantly, a discipline in REAL faith.  It’s where the reality of the Gospel becomes tangible.  Where we believe that God loved us enough to send His Son, not only to die for us, but to rise again, conquering sin and death and handing us the keys to victory.

Waiting well is waiting in TRUST (Prov. 3:5,6), it’s waiting in FAITH, being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). It’s banking on the fact that God is good…ALL THE TIME.

Here is a poem that I cling to when I find myself in another season of waiting:

WAIT!

By Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried

Quietly, patiently, lovingly God replied.

I plead and I wept for a clue to my fate,

And the Master so gently said,

“Child, you must wait”.

“Wait?

You say, wait!”  my indignant reply.

“Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!

Is Your hand shortened?

Or have you not heard?

By Faith, I have asked, and am claiming your Word.

My future and all to which I can relate

Hangs in the balance, and

YOU tell me to WAIT?

I’m needing a ‘yes’,

A go-ahead sign,

Or even a ‘no’ to which i can resign.

And Lord, I’ve been asking, and this is my cry:

I’m weary of asking!

I need a reply!”

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate

As my Master replied once again,

“You must wait.”

So, I slumped in my chair,

Defeated and taut and grumbled to God,

“So, I’m waiting…for what?”

He seemed, then, to kneel,

And His eyes wept with mine,

And He tenderly said,

“I could give you a sign.

I could shake the heavens,

And darken the sun.

I could raise the dead, and

Cause mountains to run.

All you seek, I could give, and pleased you would be.

You would have what you want –

But you wouldn’t know Me.

You’d not know the depth of My love for each Saint;

You’d not know the power that I give to the Faint;

You’d not learn to see through the clouds of Despair;

You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m There’

You’d not know the joy of resting in Me

When darkness and silence were all you could See.

You’d never experience that fullness of Love

As the peace of My Spirit descends like a Dove;

You’d know that I give and I save…for a Start

But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My Heart.

The glow of My comfort late into the Night,

The faith that I give when you walk without Sight,

The depth that’s beyond getting just what you Asked

Of an infinite God, who makes what you have LAST.

You’d never know, should your pain quickly Flee,

What it means that “My grace is sufficient for Thee.”

Yes, your dreams for your loved one overnight would come True,

But, Oh, the loss!  If I lost what I’m doing in You!

So, be silent, My Child, and in time you will See

That the greatest of gifts is to get to know Me.

And though oft’ may My answers seem terribly Late,

My most precious answer of all is still, “Wait.’

 

Yellow striped profileDurenda Wilson has been very happily married to Darryl for 25 years and been homeschooling for 20 years. They have eight awesome kids, 5 boys and 3 girls. Two are married, one is in college and the rest are still at home. Durenda is also a Nana to three cuties! She writes for her own blog, Simple Nourishing Home, for The Busy Mom and Hip Homeschool Moms. She is painfully aware that she can’t “do it all”, she really doesn’t want to and is realizing that her kids are going to be ok anyway. Her passion is simplifying, being authentic and inspiring moms to homeschool and mother in freedom and joy.  You can find her at her blog, Simple Nourishing Home, on Facebook at Simple Nourishing Home, Twitter @DurendaWilson and Instagram at durendaleewilson

The Year of Waiting

 

Learning to Wait on God Your Stories  MercyIsNew.com

{Thank you for joining me for this series of posts from dear friends around the world who have learned through their own seasons of waiting that it is, indeed, good to wait only upon the Lord.  Find my 40 Day Devotional on Waiting on God in my shop.}

40 Day Devotional on Waiting on God

Sometimes waiting just really bites.  I know, that seems a little harsh, but it’s absolutely true.

2014 was the year of waiting for my family. At the beginning of the year my husband and I heard from God that it was time to start the paperwork to complete our second adoption. At the beginning of the year our children were 10, 8, 6, 3, and 2. So, you know, we had a lot of free time to take on more kids. *Snort*

When God asks you to do a really hard thing, you only have the choice to obey or disobey and we chose to obey. Even though we had no idea what we were really getting ourselves into.

Our first adoption was super quick, like freakishly so. We finished our paperwork at the end of April 2012 and had a call about our son in mid-June and he was living with us by the middle of July.  Our second adoption proved to be a much longer waiting game.

We thought, because we were open to a sibling group and because of our ability to care for special needs kids, that we wouldn’t have to wait very long.

Waiting on God Fostering & Adoption  MercyIsNew.com

But wait is what we did. We would occasionally receive calls about kids and we would say yes, we are open to being considered, but then nothing would happen. Another family would be chosen or something else that we never were told about.

In the meantime, we had things going on. We had a 3 year old with some behavioral problems that were making me want to pull out my hair. We had a busy, busy, busy 2 year old boy with some attention deficit issues that required my absolute full attention every single day. I would sit in my bedroom in the morning, crying over my Bible, asking God WHY. Why do you want us to do this hard thing? Why are you making us wait? Just let us get some closure already.

The longer the waiting continued, the more I realized that God had some stuff to work out in me and in our family before we were ready to bring home any more children. 

The issues with our 3 year old (now 4) got worse before they got better. I was reading books, I was talking to his speech therapist, I was talking to early development specialists. With time his behavior has calmed down. It’s not quite so crazy all the time. But all those months that we were waiting to get the call about finding an adoptive match for us, God was preparing me for our new children. He was helping me learn skills to cope with the needs that they would have.

Another thing that God was doing was solidifying a support network of people for our family. Because being an adoptive family requires a lot of support. We cannot do this on our own. And slowly, slowly, through the last twelve months, we have made new friends and strengthened other friendships that have provided us with the people we can call on in a crisis. These are the friends that I can text 304 times a day and they always text back.  God knew that we needed time to make that happen.

One last thing that the months of waiting provided was time to strengthen our family relationship and my marriage relationship. God knew that adoption can rip a family apart. Bringing in new children from hard places into a family throws the family into chaos. If the family is not already strong before that happens, then it’s very hard to continue. My husband and I were able to build strong connections with our children. We were able to build stronger connections with each other. The connections that keep us going through endless sleepless nights and dinnertimes that sounds like we live in a zoo.

Finally, in December 2014, three days before Christmas, we brought home two beautiful little girls that we pray will become our forever daughters later this year. These were the girls that we waited for, even though we didn’t even know their names.

Waiting on the Lord can bring discomfort and sometimes even pain, but His plans for us are perfect.

Read all the stories of learning to wait on God here.

Michele-White.jpg

Meet Michele of the Preschoolers and Peace blog. According to my Twitter profile, I am the wife of one, mother of five, daughter of the King (God, not Elvis). Lover of books, passionate about orphans, have a serious crush on school supplies. I would also add that I love to cook. Sometimes it’s just oatmeal, sometimes it’s 30 meals at a time for the freezer. And sometimes it’s just a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

My husband, a New Zealander, and I have been married for 14 years, have lived in two countries and 9 flats/houses. We both have traveled extensively and lived overseas a good portion of our lives. This makes us a little quirky sometimes. I spell things differently. He has an accent. Our kids have multiple passports. We feel at home everywhere and not at home anywhere.

My husband and I homeschool our seven children, ages 1 year through 11 years. We have never done it any other way and it’s a way of life for us. Schooling with little people underfoot is something I have a lot of practice with! You can find Preschoolers and Peace {and Michele} on Facebook and Twitter, and also Michele loves Instagram, so follow her there,too!

Our Struggle is Not Against Flesh and Blood

Learning to Wait on God Your Stories  MercyIsNew.com

{Thank you for joining me for this series of posts from dear friends around the world who have learned through their own seasons of waiting that it is, indeed, good to wait only upon the Lord.  Find my 40 Day Devotional on Waiting on God in my shop.}

Read all the stories of learning to wait on God here.

40 Day Devotional on Waiting on God

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

Yesterday was CRAZY! All day long nothing but strife, frustration, and arguments –from all of us –including me, especially me! I was especially caught off guard by this, because I had just come off of an amazing weekend where the Lord brought new restoration and deliverance in a couple areas of my life. I wanted so badly to stay on that mountaintop of peace and power for at least a week and a half, but instead the battle raged.  I suppose I should not have been surprised by this, but as I reflect now, I think I believed somewhere deep down that I had arrived. I had been delivered and so now everything was going to go perfect!

The next morning I was asking the Lord to help me know how to remain in the freedom and truth that he gave me over the weekend.

First, I was reminded that power and peace did not leave me. Jesus is power and Jesus is Peace. Jesus has not left me, and He never will. Second, I forgot all about Ephesians 6:12, which says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Learning to wait on God  MercyIsNew.com

I forgot this in regards to my husband and my children. I made my battle against my husband and my children. I had so easily remembered that I personally was in this spiritual battle. I never fail to recall the hard times and struggles in my own life, but I failed to remember that my husband and children were also in the throws of this same kind of battle. I was reacting to them like they were just horrible because of the way they were acting, I allowed a spirit of contempt and hopelessness to flood my thoughts in regards to them. Lord I repent! No More!

The more I contemplate this, the more that compassion and love floods my heart for them.  It brings me to tears, to think about it now. At this point I had to decide “Am I going to believe the Word of God in Ephesians 6 and allow it to move me to action?” Our fight is not against the people in our lives, it is not against the circumstances that we face. We face a spiritual battle and it is only won at the victorious cross of Christ. Yesterday my husband and children had been the target of an assault. They too were dealing with the wiles of the enemy of their souls and I sat in contempt towards them, rather than recognizing it and fighting in the name of Jesus for them, I drove the nail further in.

I am constantly humbled by how many times the Lord reaffirms himself to me. Time after time I revert to doubt or a misconception about Him, and the Faithful One, time after time comes and brings light and truth to my mind and heart. He clears up the lie and brings more freedom. All we have to do is the hardest thing ever, enter his rest. This experience was no different.

I think that is why trails and suffering are so hard, but so essential. I will never be formed into the image of my Savior if everything is going great. In times of abundance, I remember his goodness, but if I am honest, I never grow like I do when all I want to do is run away, hide, and escape. Trials and hardships are spiritual in nature. They must be fought in spiritual ways. There is no other option. During the darkest times of my life the following words have been life to me. When all is barren and everything seems hopeless, this is the truth. Read this slowly and take it all in.

Isaiah 54

“Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child;

Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed;

For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous

Than the sons of the married woman,” says the Lord.

2 “Enlarge the place of your tent;

Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not;

Lengthen your cords

And strengthen your pegs.

3 “For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left.

And your descendants will possess nations

And will resettle the desolate cities.

4 “Fear not, for you will not be put to shame;

And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;

But you will forget the shame of your youth,

And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.

5 “For your husband is your Maker,

Whose name is the Lord of hosts;

And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,

Who is called the God of all the earth.

6 “For the Lord has called you,

Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,

Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,”

Says your God.

7 “For a brief moment I forsook you,

But with great compassion I will gather you.

8 “In an outburst of anger

I hid My face from you for a moment,

But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,”

Says the Lord your Redeemer.

9 “For this is like the days of Noah to Me,

When I swore that the waters of Noah

Would not flood the earth again;

So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you

Nor will I rebuke you.

10 “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,

But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,

And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”

Says the Lord who has compassion on you.

11 “O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,

Behold, I will set your stones in antimony,

And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.

12 “Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies,

And your gates of crystal,

And your entire wall of precious stones.

13 “All your sons will be taught of the Lord;

And the well-being of your sons will be great.

14 “In righteousness you will be established;

You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear;

And from terror, for it will not come near you.

15 “If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me.

Whoever assails you will fall because of you.

16 “Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals

And brings out a weapon for its work;

And I have created the destroyer to ruin.

17 “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper;

And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn.

This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,

And their vindication is from Me,” declares the Lord.

Thank you Jesus you are a God who loves, cares, and restores. You are a God who forgives and a God of power.  I ask your forgiveness for participating with the lie that things are hopeless. You are gentle. You are the way, the truth, and the life and I pray that you show me what to do. For now I go to you in prayer and in your Word.

Sister, daughter, and friend be open to the One. It will not be easy to lay it all down, but it will always be worth it. To Christ be the glory forever.

Expanding wisdom, extending grace,

Jen

jen

Jennifer Dow, wife to Ernie and homeschooling mom to three great children, is passionate about teaching and writing about the things that make us more human and the tensions we experience along the way. Jennifer maintains her blog, ‘Expanding Wisdom: A Christian Classical Homeschooling Blog’, teaches writing and literature throughout the homeschool community and online with CiRCE Academy, and serves other homeschool moms at a weekly Bible study group.

Learning to Wait on God: Your Stories

Learning to Wait on God | MercyIsNew.com

Learning to wait on the Lord is not only difficult, but with the waiting can come pain, heartache, hopelessness and worry when we begin to focus on something other than Jesus.

But, when we turn our eyes upon Jesus, the things of earth grow strangely dim. And that is why we must learn to wait on the Lord…not for our circumstances to change…not for our happily ever after…but for Jesus. Waiting on Him alone.

I’m so honored and excited to be sharing stories from many of my friends as they have learned and grown while waiting on the Lord. I will link each of their stories on this page.

The testimonies of these ladies point straight to Jesus. Not all of their stories have happy endings, yet you will hear them testifying to the goodness of God. That is what the gospel is all about, friends. Jesus came, knowing we would have troubles in this world, to bring us peace in the midst of the storm. Sometimes our biggest life lessons are those of just finding Jesus in the mess. He is there, dear ones!

You do not want to miss the encouragement these ladies are sharing in this series, I pray you are encouraged and filled with hope! We will read stories of waiting on the Lord through infertility, adoption, financial struggles, depression, marriage struggles, grief, and more. Come back each Friday as we all take in the stories of these women and learn for ourselves to truly wait on God alone. 

Stories of Learning to Wait on God

My Depression Story 

Debbie of The Architect and The Artist shares Waiting on God When Church Hurts 

Jennifer of Expanding Wisdom  shares  Our Struggle is Not Against Flesh & Blood

Karen of Living, Unabridged shares The God Who Answers in His Own Timing

Michele of Preschoolers and Peace shares The Year of Waiting for Our Children

Alyssa shares Waiting on God through Infertility and Adoption 

Amanda of The Pelsers  shares Remembering the Steadfast Love of God 

Grace shares Waiting on God through Infertility and Heartache

Amber of Classic Housewife shares When You’re Weary of Waiting

LaToya of Learning to Let Him Lead shares When Waiting Hurts 

Terri of Take a Walk in My Shoes shares When the Healing Doesn’t Come

Wendy of Hip Homeschool Moms shares Continuing to Wait

Durenda of Simple Nourishing Home shares It’s Never a Waste of Time to Wait on God

Laurie of Successful Homemakers shares Waiting to Move

Lindsey of The Road to 31 shares Waiting to Serve 

Richele of Under the Golden Apple Tree shares Waiting Builds Faith

Jennifer of The Purposeful Mom

Conclusion & Give Away

 

Wait Only Upon God Devotional

God’s Word has a lot to say about waiting! If you’d like to read one verse per day, for 40 days, on waiting on the Lord, you can find this new devotional here:

Ebook found here. Print copy on amazon.

Waiting on God 40 Day Devotional