Are you looking for more peace in your life and joy in your relationships? Who isn’t, right? We hear these words tossed around a lot. Especially in our faith communities.
I used to doubt it was possible to make the lovely sounding idea of more peace and joy an everyday reality when our lives are filled with so many challenges. But then God’s grace found me.
I grew up in a small Oregon town under the watchful eyes of three generations of strong women. My grandmother and great grandmother lived just across the driveway from the little house our family occupied on a peach farm for several years. They taught my mother – who passed on to me – the tenacity, strength, and sense of humor that are hallmarks of the women in our family.
When I married my college sweetheart and moved across the country, I brought along the lessons I learned: to love fiercely, laugh often, and never give up.
I believed my strength and optimism virtually guaranteed a successful life.
Eleven years later, a crisis in my marriage sent me reeling. Unfaithfulness and deception cut deep and the damage seemed beyond repair. But in the midst of all the tears and confusion, Jesus found me. And with God’s help, my husband and I began working to restore our marriage. A year later we were both Christ followers.
How the Lord healed our relationship became our testimony. And we shared it freely with others who needed to hear that God can work miracles. So no one was more surprised than me when 15 years later my marriage ended in divorce.
As I searched for answers, God guided me through some of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I went to therapy. Learned how to talk to attorneys and accountants. Tried to figure out where I fit among the married couples and families at my church. And rehearsed the best way to answer the question, “What happened?” I settled on, “I’m not sure.” Because everything I once believed to be certain, had seemingly slipped right through my fingers.
Peace and joy seemed a long way off.
But I worked with a Christian counselor who helped me uncover the false belief that my identity rested only in my roles of wife and mother. And I learned there was someone new God wanted me to meet: Me.
Slowly I began to rediscover the person God created me to be. A daughter of the King who is deeply loved by Him. And no matter how my roles, relationships, and circumstances might change, God’s love for me – and for you! – remains the same.
I also discovered that over the years I had developed a pattern of denying or disguising the truth, hiding behind my optimism when things were too hurtful to talk about.
So after decades of wishfully thinking I could save any situation with my positive attitude and refusal to give up, I needed to learn how to embrace life’s biggest reality. That it’s messy and can seem impossibly painful at times. But that beauty and love can still grow when grace pours out like water on dry, thirsty ground.
I joined the counseling ministry at my church and began meeting with others like me. Folks who were struggling to navigate the hurt and confusion they felt when challenging circumstances or broken relationships upended their lives. We searched for God’s wisdom together. And found healing and hope through prayer, accountability and the promises contained in His Word.
Helping people learn how to say what’s true – even when it hurts – became my ministry.
The girl who once glossed over or ran away from every hard or ugly truth she had ever encountered, was now helping others speak the truth and seeing how it changes everything. And I loved it.
And as my love for Christian counseling grew, so did my desire to know more about how God’s Word applies to our everyday lives. I enrolled in seminary and began my classes thinking I would learn all the answers I needed to counsel others well. But I graduated with a deeper and different understanding of how God works. (Spoiler alert.)
Sometimes there are no answers to our toughest questions.
But something wonderful happens when we take the time to listen hard to the wisdom God imparts through His Word, our circumstances, and the people He places in our lives.
When we seek His wisdom, He promises we will find it. (James 1:5) And when we do, we also find ourselves awash in the amazing grace that leads to peace and joy. Even when life looks different from the one we were expecting.
Today I’m living the unexpected life of a single empty nester. My three grown children plus one daughter-in-law make my heart sometimes feel like it might burst wide open with joy. I love hiking, traveling, photography, writing, reading good books, and spending time in lively and laughter-filled conversations with my family and friends.
Most of all, I love how God’s grace continues to teach me that greater peace and more joy are not just vague ideas or concepts we read about in the Bible and long for in our hearts. They are real, living things that are available to you and me at any time, in any circumstance.
Come grow with me!
While I don’t claim to have any extraordinary super-powers where life, faith, and relationships are concerned, I do have a LOT of life experience. (Yes I know, age is just a number, but it sure seems to help!) Along with a deep and abiding love for Jesus, and a passion for getting to the truth and finding ways to help when life gets complicated.
Let’s discover the greater peace and abundant joy God wants for us right here in the middle of our everyday lives. I hope you’ll join me on this journey to find wisdom, courage and many new reasons to smile as we grow in His grace and untangle life together.
Peace and joy,
Daughter, mother, sister, friend, and writer of encouraging words.
M.A. Pastoral Care & Biblical Counseling
My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace. (1 Peter 5:12 NLT)