Monday, July 4, 2016
Katherine Wolf suffered from a devastating brain stem stroke in 2008. She was a young mother with a six month old son when the stroke occurred, and by the odds she should not have survived. But the book she and her husband, Jay Wolf, wrote about the experience is all about defying odds and coming together with the strength of Christ behind them to help Katherine live a fulfilling life. Hope Heals is an incredible story of how quickly life can change, and how to proceed with faith in the midst of extreme uncertainty.
Hope Heals is written from both Katherine and Jay's perspective, but Jay and his experiences as a father and caregiver feature more prominently than Katherine's words. They are both excellent writers though, and the narrative doesn't feel jumpy or tied together awkwardly like it sometimes can with more than one writer.
Katherine writes so honestly about how difficult it is to be a disabled mother. My heart went out to her as she wrote about hearing her son call from his crib, but being unable to pick him up or go to him. Jay's story is one of incredible compassion and a true understanding of marriage vows and what it means to care for someone who is ill. And both Katherine and Jay write about how Katherine's stroke changed their lives and focus, and led them on new unexpected paths. Katherine should have died, but she lived, and recovered better than expected, which led both Katherine and Jay to understand the deep goodness and grace of God and how His plans are far greater than ours.
Hope Heals is an honest story about love, faith, an incredible medical catastrophe, and what a life can look like if God is allowed to lead.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html>
Monday, October 27, 2014
I read through the book of Nehemiah yesterday with the She Reads Truth devotion as my guide. It was so encouraging, and so applicable to where I am in my life right now, I can't stop thanking the Lord for pointing me to it.
Nehemiah is a short book about the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, but it is far from simple. Nehemiah's faith and trust in God is evident over and over throughout the book. He doesn't make a move without talking to God first. (2:4, 4:9, 6:9).
I am in the middle of following God's call to build a ministry for parents who have lost babies at our church. It's a mess, friends. It's hard work. It's discouraging. It's frustrating. It's way harder than I thought it would be. But Nehemiah's work is a reminder to stay faithful, to be obedient to what God is asking me to do, and to take every step with faith and prayer. (4:9)
Chapter three of the book of Nehemiah lists who worked on each section of the wall. The devotion that accompanied the passage pointed to instances when specific areas appear later in the Bible. It had been hundreds of years, but the wall was still up, and was still being used! The devotion encouraged readers to look beyond the boring list of names and see how God was using these people to support a later mission. And then this passage of the devotion jumped out at me:
"Could it be that the section of the wall God has given you is important for His glory today, but that He might also have an eternal plan for the work you're doing?
What if ... your simple job is the setting for miraculous kingdom-size work for generations to come?"
Oh. I hadn't thought about that! Honestly, I've been so busy trying to make everything go my way I haven't stopped to think about the future of our ministry. I'm head down determined to make things happen, too busy to look up and pray about why God is asking us to create this ministry.
If you've read this blog for any length of time you know I sat in the "why valley" for a loooong time after Charlotte died. You can read three or so years of blog posts on the scenery in that valley. I didn't really like it down there, but I couldn't figure out how to get out. And every time I found a path and began the climb I fell and ended up on the valley floor again.
What I finally - finally!! - learned was the only way out of the valley is reliance on God and an understanding of faith. Faith in God's plan, and acceptance of the fact that His plan doesn't align with mine. His plan is so much greater! And along with faith there needs to be a willingness to put aside the need to know why and accept that there won't be answers this side of heaven.
Here too, in this ministry building time, faith is the answer to all of my questions. I don't know what we're doing. I don't know if we're reaching people. I don't know how our ministry is going to grow, or where it will be in a year. I'm just one person working on a wall because God asked me to do it. There's amazing people building next to me, and we're praying for guidance with every brick we set. It's not about me, or my comfort, or my need to know what is happening and why. It's about loving people and being where God has asked me to be. Arms open, heart open, ready to serve. (4:6)
The first Empty Arms Connections meeting is on November 17th. It's not a support group, it's a hope group. There is absolutely nothing wrong with support groups, but our vision is to give people more than support. We want to remind them to look forward to heaven and lean on the truth that this is a temporary home.
As we face opposition and frustrations, as we try to work cohesively and peacefully with everyone around us, I'm going to keep Nehemiah and his faith at the forefront of my thoughts. There were armies trying to take Nehemiah down, but he stayed focused and He continually relied on God to guide him and take care of him.
Nehemiah 6:9 -
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, "Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed."
But I prayed, "Now strengthen my hands."
The past two weeks have been challenging. The last month has been challenging! God is moving, God is working, and that means the Enemy is working too. Pray for us. Pray for our ministry. Pray for the mothers and fathers we will work with. Pray for us to seek God every step of the way.
All the glory to Him.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
I shared this paragraph on my personal facebook page this evening:
I'm making my world here a little smaller. I want this to be a place where I interact with people I know well - in real life or online. If you follow me because you read my blog you can like my page - Little Bird. Or you can find me on Instagram -@angelarodman. My phone is having problems so I'm going to factory reset it this evening, and I'm going to leave the Facebook app uninstalled when I (hopefully) get it going again. I'm tired of news stories that make me sad, and having constant access to a feed that doesn't always align with my beliefs isn't good for my soul (Proverbs 4:23 - "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.) I'm not saying we can't be friends because our beliefs are different, but there are things I need to shield myself from because they increase my anxiety. I need less negativity in my day to day life. (I am super lazy so if I put the laptop upstairs I won't haul myself up there to hop on Facebook more than once a day). I'm trying to live intentionally and with purpose. I'm trying to spend more time with the kids and Jonathan. I'm trying to focus my heart on seeking approval from the Lord instead of earthly, temporal things, and part of that for me is blogging less and interacting online less. I want to live in community, build relationships and love the people right outside my door who need compassion. I'm not leaving, or deleting - this too can be a place to be spiritually uplifted - but I am taking a step back and realigning my priorities.
I have been feeling so convicted lately. I'm working on my first study with She Reads Truth, and it's opening my eyes to so many things I need to change about my life. The current study is in Hosea and every day of study is eye opening and heart changing.
Hosea 8 talks about reaping empty harvests - v. 7: "They sow the wind / and reap the whirlwind / The stalk has no head ; / it will produce no flour / Were it to yield grain."
Because of that verse, and the study guide at She Reads Truth, I began asking the following questions:
What am I tending to that is useless?
What/who am I making "king?"
And then I was hit with a HUGE realization:
I need to stop seeking approval from everyone BUT the Lord.
I've let a lot of things matter that shouldn't. This online community saved me in many ways, but then I tried to make it define me. I thought I mattered if people followed me on Twitter, or left comments on my blogs, or added me on Facebook, but those thoughts and beliefs are false.
I matter because I am a child of God.
I feel bad sometimes for those who began following me because Charlotte died and are now watching me wading into spiritual waters and wondering if they want to follow. But the thing is, this is my journey. I'm going where the Lord leads me, and I'm not going to apologize for following Him.
I want to talk about your faith - or lack of it. I want this to be a place where we talk about what we believe, and why. I'm studying the Bible more so I want to talk about what I'm learning. I hope you'll join me. I want to introduce you to the awesome God I serve. I want you to know God like I do. I want to wash away any anger and erase the bitterness, doubt, or fear that lingers within you, but I can't do that. I can support and love you, but I can't change your heart or mind. I want to talk to you about why I believe what I do. I want you to know this is a transitional time for me; a time when I am choosing to live with intention and purpose - to share the great gospel that shapes my life. And I want you to know that I'll be open about this journey, just like I've been open about grief and how it's transformed me.
I shared this post on She Reads Truth link up. See what others learned from studying Hosea HERE.