The Blessings of Trials

I’m formatting this post through tear-blurred vision, amazed once again by God’s mercy and grace. Those who know me personally know I’m not the most advanced-thinking, detail-oriented writer on the web. Lately, with book edits and launch responsibilities, this has proved more true ID-100160717than ever. The result–I don’t often read the guest posts authors send me until the last minute. (Which can result in scrambling if I find what my guest has written isn’t a good fit. You’d think I’d learn.)

Similarly, with the gunk I’ve faced these past two years, you’d think I’d learn … to choose to praise when I want to isolate. To persevere when I’d rather stay in bed. To lean on Christ, who’s strength is made perfect in my weakness, when I feel defeated.

I’m learning. Slowly, and at times with gritted teeth.

Profile Pic mainLong intro to say, today is one of those days, and just when I was beginning to slip into poor-me mode, I read Misty Beller’s post on trials and reminded myself once again, God is in the gunk and the glorious, and He can and does use every tear, trial, and triumph for eternal good.

The Blessings of Trials by Misty Beller

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

I’m not sure who came up with this nifty saying, but for so many years it’s been my life’s motto.

The fact is, trials happen. Life is hard. But through the pain, God has taught me two vital truths.

  1. Sometimes you just have to buckle down and get through it.

Over the last year, my family’s gone through a lot of hard “stuff”, from a miscarriage, to an accident where my husband broke multiple bones in his face and neck. Since then he’s had six surgeries, each rendering him mostly an invalid for about four weeks, and me the sole breadwinner and caregiver for our girls, age seven and three. There were so many times that I could only take one day—one hour—at a time. There was no room to worry about the future, I could only buckle down and focus on what had to be done in the next hour.

But that was a hard lesson for this former control-freak to learn. It took God stripping away layers of my perceived ability to control. I couldn’t know which doctor appointment would bring to light more broken bones, requiring immediate surgery. I couldn’t know when the call would come from the babysitter that one of the girls had thrown up five times in the last hour. God was the only one who could see ahead, and I had to trust that He would bring us through it. There was no other option for me.

  1. The blessings can’t come without the trials.

This concept didn’t become crystal clear for me until recently. It’s not just that God will bless us through the hard times, with patience and strength, and maybe a few token bright spots. But it’s not possible to receive the best He has in store for us, unless we go through the hard times. Kind of like looking at a river on a map. You can’t reach the ocean until you’ve followed the path of the river.

My writing journey is a great example of this. There were so many times I thought I’d found the perfect avenue for my book. An agent or editor would send an optimistic response to my initial query, and they would ask for the full manuscript. But God gently shut each of the wrong doors, opening little windows of light in the direction He had planned. At the end of the day, I’m so thankful for the “No” answers I received, because they brought me to the point where I could see Him pointing toward the right door. And now, my debut novel The Lady and the Mountain Man released in September, and I have no doubt I’m exactly where God has planned for me in my writing journey. But I wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for the awful times of rejection and uncertainty and frustration.

These two truths aren’t new, and may seem fairly obvious. But when you’re in the darkest times, wondering if you’ll even make it to morning, knowing these two facts—along with the absolute truth of God’s love for you, His child—may be just what you need to see the light. I know that’s been the case for me.

I’ll be praying God blesses you with perseverance and the fullness of His plan for your life, even through the hard times.

Blessings,

Misty

***

Misty Beller was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and two daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

Writing is a dream come true for Misty. Her family—both immediate and extended—is the foundation that holds her secure in that dream.

You can find Misty on her website, blog, Goodreads, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Mountain Man coverThe Lady and the Mountain Man back cover blurb:

Leah Townsend, a recently orphaned heiress, flees Richmond after discovering her fiancé’s plot to kill her after their wedding. She needs a safe place to hide, and finds herself accepting a newspaper marriage proposal from a God-fearing young rancher in the Montana Territory. But when Leah arrives at the mountain ranch, she learns her intended husband was killed by a grizzly, leaving behind a bitter older brother and a spunky younger sister.

When Gideon Bryant finds a city girl standing in his log cabin, his first thought is to send her back where she came from. He’s lost too many people to the wild elements of these mountains––his parents, his wife, and now his brother. His love for this untamed land lives on, but he’s determined not to open his heart to another person.

But when an accident forces Leah to stay at the ranch for seven more months, can Gideon protect his heart from a love he doesn’t want? Has Leah really escaped the men who seek her life?

Buy it here:

On Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. When I’m going through a tough time, physically or emotionally, it’s easy to focus on the here and now and forget the eternal. But God is ever faithful to remind me of His sovereignty and love, a love that is bigger than anything this sin-cursed world can throw our way. And He sees. He knows. He cares, and He is always working to mold and equip us and to fulfill His eternal plan.

Eternal. I often lose sight of that, but in truth, trials are a tangible reminder that this world is not our home. (Praise God for that!)

What about you? When have you received blessings from your trials? How has a trial (grief, sickness, material struggles, etc.) encouraged you to remember and focus on the eternal?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

And now, for those of you who aren’t on FB, here’s where I’ve been this week.

Yesterday I shared an article on Rest Ministries that fits quite well with today’s theme. In it I share how God has used my chronic illnesses to bless and grow my family. You can read this piece here.

Yesterday I also learned my debut novel had been nominated for the fiction category of the ECPA awards. Yay!

Today I’m on Deborah Piccurelli’s chatting about my novel, where the inspiration for the story came from, and how I hope the story will impact my readers. You can read the interview here.

Deborah also read and reviewed my novel. I enjoyed reading her perspective of the story. You can read her review here.

I also did a book give-away on fellow author Sara Ellen’s blog, one which she has extended. So, if you haven’t read my novel yet and would like a chance to win it, or if you’d like to win it as a gift for a friend, you can enter the drawing here.

Author Catherine Castle invited me to visit with her readers on her blog. You can join our chat here.

On Monday I stopped by Jessica Everingham’s to talk about living a life without regret. You can read this post here.

That’s my week. (Most of it, anyway.) What about you? What have you been up to? What has God been showing you?

On Monday I talked about the life-transformaing power of grace on Wordsmith Woman. You can read that post here.

Cultivating a Thankful Heart

WhiningThat noise! It grates on our every last nerve and sets the hairs on our neck on edge. It’s worse than nails scraping on chalkboard or our spouse grinding their teeth at night. It’s that high-pitched, face scrunched, body slumped whine. Parents, you know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you?

God does, too. Only He gets it not from one child but from oh, a few billion. Nonstop.

Kinda makes you cringe, huh?

We’re all guilty of this. We have times, more than we’d like to admit where, surrounded by blessings, we zero in on the inconvenience or struggle and soon our heart’s a mess of frustration and discontentment. Even in our greatest struggle, we’re surrounded by blessings. Always. We just lose sight of them, is all.

This is why we are to thank God with ALL of our heart–every last nook, cranny, and crevice. Leaving no room–nada–for angst, frustration, or discontentment.

This has been my focus this week, and to help with this, I’ve posted Psalm 111:1-3 throughout my home:

“Praise the Lord!gratitude-2

I will thank the Lord with all my heart
    as I meet with his godly people.
How amazing are the deeds of the Lord!
    All who delight in him should ponder them.
Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty.
    His righteousness never fails” (NLT).

I will thank the Lord with ALL my heart. Every last crevice and fiber, pushing the discouragement, worry, fear, angst, frustration–everything other than gratitude–away, choosing to praise.

And I will surround myself with people who do the same, because gratitude and praise is contagious. (v. 1b)

In fact, since gratitude and praise are contagious, I will determine all the more to cultivate a thankful heart, so that my words can build up and strengthen others.

When I am tempted to fret or fall into a rut of negative thinking, I will ponder the deeds of the Lord.

This week, I’ve been doing just that, and I’ve found, if I were to attempt to list all God has done, I’d never finish!

Perhaps that’s the point. 😉

Finally, as I’m contemplating the deeds of the Lord, I’ll pause to reflect on who He is, for everything He does, big and small, reveals His glory and majesty.

This week I challenge you to cultivate a thankful heart, pondering all God has done in your life, then consider what each deed reveals about God’s character. At our house, we’ve made a list. During dinner, we reflect on Psalm 111, sharing two things God has done–one from the past and one more recent–and then we discuss what this tells us about God. Through this, we’ve seen His incredible faithfulness, noting even our times of greatest struggle turned into wonderful blessings.

Because as Ephesians 4:6 says, God is over all and in all and living through all.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. How have you seen that to be true in your life? Pause to reflect on the past year. In what ways has God been faithful? How has He revealed His glory and majesty to you? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Other resources, articles, or posts you might enjoy:

Are You a Complainer or a World Changer

Joyful Living by Rhonda H. Kelley

True Contentment by Rhonda H. Kelley

Mercies in Disguise

Life is full of hardships; hardships that leave unanswered questions, perhaps the greatest of which are “Why?” and “How long?” I know many of you are dealing with extremely difficult situations: financial, health, loss of loved ones. Situations that can easily rock one’s world and faith.

Driving to church last Sunday, with me coming out of an extended and painful “flare”, my husband said, “You need to trust.”

Being in no mood to hear anything, I scowled, arms crossed. “Trust what?”

“Trust God. That He will protect you.”

Wrong answer.

Though my husband, in his amazingly patient and loving way, was trying to encourage me, I knew if my trust rested on God’s “protection”, there was a good chance it’d be broken. My trust needed to rest in His nature, sovereignty, and wisdom, and in my full and unconditional surrender. For that is where the peace and blessings come from.

Ginger picToday a dear friend who’s had her share of difficulties talks about one of the most poignant songs in contemporary Christian music. After you read Ginger Solomon’s devotion, I encourage you to listen to the song embedded below, and as you do, surrender and trust that God is good and loving and faithful.

Mercies in Disguise

The other day I heard the song “Blessings” by Laura Story. It’s been around for a while, but for some reason this time something about the lyrics struck me. It’s like reading that same Scripture over and over and then one day it comes to life in your heart.

I can relate to these words in so many ways. I know that blessings can come through raindrops – the first date I had yellow-leaf-1087751-mwith my husband it was raining. I know that healing can come through tears – I have cried to the Lord and felt a physical hug from Him that healed the broken places in my heart. I have doubted His goodness and His love, and I have spent countless nights awake and wondering what the next day would bring. And yet, through it all He has loved me WAY too much to let me stay in a place of comfort too long.

Through the greatest disappointments in my life I know God has been beside me. I may not have felt like it at the time, but feelings are fickle creatures and should not be trusted. It reminds me of the Footprints in the Sand picture. Sometimes when we least feel God it’s because He’s carrying us rather than walking beside us.

James 1:2-3 (NKJV) says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” This verse doesn’t say IF, but WHEN. We’ve all had trials, and we’re likely to have a few more before our time here on earth is complete.

In One Choice, my heroine, Cahri, is angry at God because her parents were killed in the country where they were missionaries. She felt God had abandoned her. Then she was summoned to participate in the Bridal March. She once again felt as if He had forsaken her. We all know God is always with us and will never forsake us (Heb. 13:5), but how often do we forget it when we’re in the dark places? Cahri feels God’s presence at various times throughout the book, and finally remembers how much He loves her later in the book – three long years after the death of her parents.

Will we allow God to turn our raindrops into blessings and our tears into healing?rememberings-675103-m

Will the sleepless nights send us to our knees crying out to God?

How long will it take us to remember that God always wants the very best things for us?

***

Pause to listen to Laura Story’s song titled Blessings:

Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer — in that order (mostly). When not homeschooling her youngest five, doing laundry or fixing dinner, she writes or reads romance of any genre, some sci-fi/fantasy, and some suspense. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and writes regularly for three blogs. In addition to all that, she loves animals, horses especially, likes to do needlework (knitting, crocheting, and sometimes cross-stitch), and loves to sing in the choir at church. Visit her online at A Bed of Roses…Thorns IncludedWriting Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!Inspy Romance BlogFacebook, Twitter @GingerS219, and Pinterest

OneChoice 453x680One Choice:

Cahri Michaels is American by birth, but Belikarian by choice. Being selected to participate in the Bridal March forces her to give up the independent life she’s created for herself. She’s not ready to be anyone’s wife, much less to a man she doesn’t know.

Prince Josiah Vallis despises the centuries old tradition—the Bridal March—that is forcing him to choose a wife from fifty women. Why does it matter that he’s twenty-five and still single?

When Cahri and Josiah meet, sparks fly. Will it ignite a godly love that can see them through or will they be burned, never to be the same? Buy it on Amazon, at Barnes and NobleAstraea Press and Smashwords

 

 

LivingbyGracepicLet’s talk about this. How have struggles deepened your faith and relationship with Christ? How has God walked you through moments of pain or fear? How has He revealed Himself through it or offered blessings that came through raindrops?

Looking back over my life, I’ve found my darkest moments have also led to my greatest growth. Living with chronic illness, most specifically, autoimmune issues, is a perfect example. There’s an inherent uncertainty that comes with health struggles, an that uncertainty, for me, keeps me centered in the cross and focused on eternity. On my good days, it spurs me to action, motivating me to make the most of every ounce of energy and health, because it could be gone tomorrow. On my bad days, it draws me to Christ’s feet where I experience comfort and love. Ultimately, it’s deepened my relationship with God in a way I know wouldn’t have occurred otherwise.

Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Forced to Choose

sorrow-and-worry-692910-mIt’s a choice I never wanted to make. It tore me up, tore my daughter up, and I’m pretty sure, it tore my husband up as well. But when a situation arose where I had to choose between my husband and my child, I knew there was really only one choice I could make. For if I followed my mother’s heart, the one that longs to buffer my child from every pain and surround her with nothing but abundant blessings, I honestly believe I would’ve robbed her of that which blesses her most–parents with a healthy, united marriage.

It was 2012, and my daughter and I were content. Happy. We lived in a great cul-de-sac filled with involved parents and great kids. The kind of neighborhood where parents kidsplayingfelt safe allowing their kids to play outside on late summer nights. We were involved in a growing church, had our hands in meaningful ministries. Our evenings were filled with family dinners, lots of hugs, and plenty of laughter.

Only my husband wasn’t happy. Not fully. Long story short, things outside our home had become toxic, and he was ready for a change. For peace. When his boss offered him a transfer to the corporate offices in Omaha, he saw his chance.

But this chance came at a price. We’d have to sell the home we loved, one we’d spent a great deal of time and money-making our “own”. We’d have to leave our church and the connections we’d made. Worse, we’d have to uproot our high school daughter. Surviving high school is hard enough. Her trying to navigate the inherently awkward halls as a newbie? The thought made me ill.

I’ve seen her weather enough broken friendships, unexpected rejections, and cliques to know this was going to be tough. Painfully tough. I worried about lonely lunches and even lonelier weekends as she waited, and waited, and waited to establish safe, lasting friendships. In fact, I worried myself sick, and prayed for a solution. One that could provide a much-deserved blessing for my precious husband while allowing our daughter to finish high school in Kansas City.

I knew if I complained or fought against it, my husband would stay. Because that’s how he is, always putting others first. But I also knew how much he needed this move, how much he deserved it. And I trusted if I put my husband first, God would bless our daughter for it.

So we went, and I’m pretty sure the summer that followed was the toughest our daughter had ever faced.

And I wondered why? Why did what was good for one have to come at the cost of another?

It didn’t. It just took time for us to catch sight of God’s blessing. Which is what this move has been–a blessing. For all of us. On New Year’s Eve, as I listened to giggles rising from a basement of teens, I thought back to our move and all God has done since078. God has returned to us all we lost in Kansas City triplefold. And our daughter? She didn’t really lose anything. Her truest friends held on, and they remain close to this day. But now she has many more friends to add to her circle. Great friends. Christ-centered friends.

In short, this move turned out to be exactly what our daughter needed.

Because when we do things God’s way, everyone wins.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this.

But… before we do, I want to invite you to pop on over to a new blog I joined with some of my sweet writer friends, Faith-filled Friends. We started this blog so we’d have a place to talk about our books, our characters, our fun research outings, and all the other things that make us smile. This month, we’re hosting a launch give-away. Join the conversation and get entered into the drawing for some great books and precious jewelry. 🙂 And make sure to subscribe, because you never know when there’ll be other gift baskets to win.

Then, join the conversation at Living by Grace as we chat about making difficult choices. Can you relate? Have you ever felt as if God were asking you to choose between a child and your spouse? If so, what did you do, and what was the result? Why do you believe it’s imperative, not just for us, but for our children as well, to put our marriage first?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below or on Facebook at Living by Grace.

Blessings From the Top of the Tree by Delia Latham

Today a dear friend and sister in Christ is here to share a devotional from her book, Morning Rendezvous.

Blessings from the Top of the Tree by Delia Latham

Pro. 10:6a (KJV)
Blessings are upon the head of the just;

It was a humdinger of a windstorm—unusually rough for California, where we lived at the time. Not anything approaching tornado severity, but enough to knock down a few trees, tear off a bunch of roof tiles and stir up some pretty nasty allergies.

Given my husband’s severe lung problems, high winds have become something to dread. They often blow in a ton of allergens, bringing on a week or so of severe discomfort. Needless to say, we were more than a bit unhappy about the storm.

A couple of days later, Aunt Vera dropped by our place, her arms piled high with three plastic grocery bags. All of them were stuffed full of pecans from her trees.

“They were all over my yard, after that wind the other night,” she announced. “I had to do something with them, and I know how Johnny loves pecan pies.”

All of the nuts within her reach had been harvested prior to the storm. These nuts came from the upper branches, the ones she couldn’t get to. “I guess they would have stayed up there until they rotted without that storm,” she said, with a wry little shake of her head.

After our sweet visitor left, I looked at those three bags of snacking nuts—three bags stuffed full of potential pies and other delectable desserts—and I saw them differently. They were the fruits of the storm—blessings from the top of the tree. Good things beyond our reach.

And God has a way of shaking them loose and raining them down all around us!

Since then, I try to remember to look at the storms of life through less jaded eyes, as well. During the blizzard, it’s hard to see anything but toppled trees and destruction to property. It’s difficult to look past the blowing garbage and allergic reactions.

While the wind blows, it’s almost impossible to remember that after the storm, God always sends a rainbow. After the winds, we reap the sweet-smelling, clean air and sunshine.

After He tries us, He showers us with good things…things previously out of our grasp.

We must learn to hold tight to God and just survive the storm. Because when it’s over, we get the blessings from the top of the tree!

Oh, God, how many times have You blessed me, and I failed to recognize the blessing? Please forgive my blindness and open my eyes to Your wondrous gifts. I want to see You…not only in the blessings that come after, but in the storm itself. Open my spiritual eyes to the things I should see. And Lord, thank You for all those good things You rain down on me from the top of the tree! Amen

 Morning Rendezvous is not strictly a book of devotion. It’s devotions and random inspirational thoughts and musings. It’s made up of my devotions and inspirational posts that are scattered all over the internet. I gathered up my favorites and put them into book format because I know so many people who never touch a computer, but I hope they’d be blessed by some of the thoughts God blessed me with.~Delia
 

Delia was born and raised in a place called Weedpatch, Delia Latham moved from California to Oklahoma in 2008, making her a self-proclaimed California Okie. She loves to read and write in her simple country home, and gets a kick out of watching her husband play Farmer John. The author enjoys multiple roles as Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. She loves to hear from her readers. You can contact her through her website or send an e-mail to delia AT delialatham DOT net.

Find out more about this author at www.delialatham.net.

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