Over this past month, I have been joined by hundreds of writers around the world, who are sharing their stories through the Write 31 Days challenge. Many of them came together on Facebook to support, encourage, challenge and inspire each other to share the love of God on their blogs. I have decided to give you a glimpse into this community and thereby also into the love of God for us all, His beloved children, by sharing excerpts of their stories with links for you to read further. To help you visualize this community of writers, I’ve included a photo of each writer from their blog. I pray that you too will be supported, encouraged, challenged and inspired by their stories of God’s great Love for us all.
When Jesus approaches the woman at the well, He speaks and acts with knowing of her. He knows that she is spiritually dry and thirsty. He knows she has had five husbands. She goes back to tell people that He knows everything she ever did.
This is not the first encounter in which we see Jesus speak with knowing. He calls Nathaniel, and Nathaniel asks Him, “How do you know me?” He knows the heart of His mother when they attend the wedding in Cana together. He knows the heart of Nicodemus, and indeed, it seems to be theme of John’s writing that is not as well-developed in the other gospels – that Jesus knows and sees people as they are, in an intimate manner…Keep reading here to find out how Jesus meets us in our fears of not being loved if we are fully known: Know My Heart
Meet Harmony Moore, hosting the Survivor Songs Series in which Harmony and her ten guest bloggers explore the concept of mourning, as they tread a well-worn path straight towards Jesus’ heart.
I don’t believe there are 21 steps you can take to be all better, or 3 tips you can follow for a happy life, or that happiness can come in a series of ten checked boxes. There is no way in hell I’m going to tell you that to get over sexual abuse, the death of a loved one, the stolen childhood, or anything else that has utterly broken your heart, all you need to DO is X, Y and Z.
I’m not even going to say that all you need is Jesus.
Even though it’s true. Because, Jesus.
But the reason I’m not going to come at you directly with “all you need is Jesus” is because most of the time when we say “all you need is Jesus” we attach to this truth a whole list of how-tos.
“All you need is Jesus, so pray.”
“All you need is Jesus so stop taking those anti-depressants.”
“All you need is Jesus so if you are still having panic attacks then I guess you don’t have enough faith.”
“All you need is Jesus so read this, do this, say this, and join a small group if you’re actually committed. Then you’ll see!”
Read further here to see how God’s Great Love meets us as a Person, not a formula: Formulas Will Never Heal your Soul.
Meet Julie at 300 Rejections
Meet Jolene at Pursuing Hope – Inspiring Faith
Maybe it’s hard to hear, tough to read and unpleasant to think about. Those stories of trials which one endures. Like the friend who deals with chronic illness, still. Or the one who deals with anxiety & depression and can’t seem to move past it. And the ones who grieve great losses or the ones who experience financial struggles, one after another. I get it.
Some days I just need a dose of laughter and I long for a life less full. Because, never going there, where pain and truth mingle together, seems easier. For the day anyway.
Dear one who lives through trials, may I whisper into your ear?
For the one who keeps sharing their hard and allowing vulnerability to shine through, all tattered and bruised, go on brave you. You show us truths about living and you make us feel less alone in our own constricted places.
For the one who has not much else to say because this is their life every day, keep pressing in & showing us how you to seek Hope beyond the struggle. Even when it’s hard and you don’t have much positive to say.
Keep on trusting when hurt speaks louder than hope.
I’m not so concerned with the spouting of spiritual sentiments. I’m really not interested in false facades of fiction. But when you show me your reality, and give me a glimpse into future glories, I’m given the chance to see a greater God than I’d known before…Read further about how God’s great healing Love is waiting to embrace us: Believe in Emotional Authenticity.
Meet Robin at A Closer Walk
I sat alone in my dorm room crying. How had I fallen this far away from God? I was miserable, lonely, and empty. I sobbed at my desk, makeup running down my face, big blubbering sobs. I hated my life and everything I was doing and had no hope for my future or plan to get out of my situation. I was failing college, but more importantly I missed my relationship with God.
Thinking back, I remembered as a young girl, I could not wait to get baptized. When my Dad prayed with me and I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life and committed to follow Him, I meant every word and my life changed. I loved reading the Bible, loved going to church, loved learning about God and His Son. I grew up in a military family, so we moved every two years. Every place we moved, we found a church and started attending. I was the most enthusiastic about going to church, and when my family didn’t go, God always provided a friend or another family who took me to church. I couldn’t get enough. I loved singing praise songs to Him. I loved memorizing Bible verses. As I grew older, I went to church camps and attended and led Bible studies during high school…Read further to discover how great the Father’s Love is for us in Desperate for God.
Meet Anita Ojeda from Blessed (but Stressed)
Every mother’s nightmare involves visions of their child homeless and adrift in a cruel world. While I fretted and stewed about Sarah’s safety after she disappeared that morning, she enjoyed some alone time—but her phone had died and she didn’t have a cable to charge it.
When she returned around eight, I sagged in relief. The constant tension and worry had started to slowly suck the life out of me. I wondered if her medication would ever start to make a difference and ease the pain and despair she couldn’t seem to find relief from.
The next morning, I glanced at my Bible app and saw the verse for the day, “Oh, may the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope.” (Romans 15:13 MSG).
Balm for my weary soul. I needed joy and peace and yes, hope. Without those three things, I knew that soon Sarah wouldn’t be the only one suffering from deep depression. Those words reminded me that as a caregiver (and believe me, when someone in your household—no matter what their age—no longer cares for themselves, whether it’s physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually, you become a caregiver), I had to remember to take care of myself, too…Read further here to see how God brought love to Anita in the shape of hope: Relying on the God of Green Hope.
Meet Kim at BuiltaLife
The past 3 weeks I have seen the hands and feet of God.
Our family has been blessed by friends and family who have gone above and beyond what I could have imagined. From hospital visits, food, to mowing the lawn. Taking care of me so that I can take care of my husband.
Although the adjustment from being the one being cared for to being the caregiver has been difficult, I have had great support from wonderful people…Read further here and learn that He is Faithful in His Great Love for us.
Meet Sara Borgstede from Holy Mess, who has hosted The Hope Toolbox: Practical Help for Depression, Sadness, and Anxiety
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
For freedom Christ has set us free.
“For freedom Christ has set us free.” That phrase has always seemed like some sort of backwards explanation to me, like using a word in the definition. What on earth does that mean, Paul (writer of the book of Galatians)?
I’ve been studying this, because I desperately want freedom in my life.
Do you seek freedom?
I’ve spent the last month delving deep into the topic of depression since I’ve been writing about depression for my Write 31 Days challenge…Read further here to discover a God whose Love has the power to set us free: You Were Set Free for a Reason.
Meet Lyli at 3DLessonsForLife
I’d asked for a tape recorder.
I’d begged and pleaded and cajoled. When a girl turns ten, she knows what she wants. Double digits requires a special gift.
I wanted to document my life on audio. I imagined myself singing into the microphone and playing back the melody for all to hear. I could make secret recordings and capture magical moments.
Yes, I dreamed of audio Nirvana.
My Abuelo understood my need. I mean, I’d explained my desires to him in great detail every day for the last several weeks. We’d sit on the love seat in the family room, and he would ask me questions.
“Mija, for your birthday, you want a Barbie doll, right?”
“No, Abuelo! I want a tape recorder. Remember? I showed you the picture.”
“Oh, no, I forgot. Are you sure? How about that Monopoly game? You love that game, and I’d play with you.”
“Abuelito, plllleeeaassee don’t tease me. You know what I want.”
On the day of my birthday, I was looking through my bedroom window to the front driveway. I saw my Abuelos get out of their vehicle with a beautifully wrapped present in hand. Abuelo was also carrying a brown paper bag behind his back…Read further here to find out how the God of Love always gives good gifts: Mercy and Love.
Meet Aprille from Beautiful In His Time
Meet Debbie at TheTearStealerDotCom
A few years ago I embarked on a 6 month journey with members of my church. In safe groups we shared our stories, our hearts, and learnt the truth about what Jesus thinks of us. It was amazing. My group’s theme was titled ‘Free to be Me’, so appropriate for me.
One of our assignments was to write a letter to our “Poser”. So this is excerpts of mine:
You’ve made yourself very comfortable, but now it is time to get out of your comfort zone and to be ready for exposure. There have been too many perfect pictures of smiling satisfaction and feeling good, when deep down you are ashamed and fearful, unworthy. You have reached the point of no return. No more lies and fake bravado, shirking from decision-making – it’s the truth or nothing. I’m tired of you hiding away, lurking in the shadows, refusing to take a stand. I am tired of going along, conforming to whoever I am with, in order to fit in with whichever group I happen to be with…Read further here to learn how God’s Great Love both frees and heals: Day 18 of Prison Break Thoughts.
Moms, especially working moms, often struggle with guilt – some of it unfounded and some probably legitimate. Running between my activities this morning, my mind was spinning thinking about what I needed to do to get kids to/from all the places they needed to be today, ready to leave for our church women’s retreat this afternoon, and fit in a virtual meeting with a student, some other work tasks, and an unexpected dr. appointment to have my foot x-rayed. I was feeling guilty for skipping my quiet time the last two days, guilty for not having something homemade for my husband and kids to eat while I’m gone, guilty for not exercising today, guilty for not having finished my work to-do’s yesterday, guilty for not returning a friend’s phone call from earlier this week.
And then I caught a few minutes of this sermon on the radio. And it was a timely reminder that there’s only one real answer and hope for our guilt – Grace…Read further here to find out how mothers are called into God’s beautiful grace: The Answer to Mum Guilt.
Meet Krista at the Mommy Calling
For so long I felt I was only one step away.
One choice away.
One mistake away.
One moment away from God completely turning His back on me, completely deserting me, completely removing the calling He had given to me.
I know I’m not the only one. I know I don’t have to ask, “Anyone else?” Because so many of us walked in that lie for so long.
The lie that God watched over our lives waiting to strike us down. That God is angry and loves to dole out the proper punishments. That God gets pleasure as we walk through the pain.
That every testing is God wanting us to mess up.
That every trial is God wanting to break us.
Read further here to discover the truth of God’s love for us all: The Truth About Always Feeling One Step Away
Meet Nancy Gladwin at Timeless Truths
I love old hymns. A wave of nostalgia rushes over me and I see a little girl in a pretty dress sitting on the wooden pews of St. Mark’s Lutheran church. “Blessed Assurance”, written by Fanny Jane Crosby in the early 1900s, is a favorite of mine. Listen to a new rendition by Big Daddy Weave loosely based on the old hymn.
When I tell you my story I hope “you’ll hear hope that never lets go, love that never gives up, and a story of life that isn’t mine” because God is the hero of my story, and to tell you my story “is to tell of him.”
Looking back I clearly see “God points” specific times in my life when God comforted me, directed me and gave me strength. The situation may not have turned out the way I had hoped or planned but the end result was good for me…Read further here to find out all about God’s good love in Nancy’s life here: Celebrating God’s Goodness.
Meet Karla at Roads to Everywhere
Life is good. Every day there are little blessings that I thoroughly enjoy and am grateful for.
But also… Life is hard. It just is. We all find ourselves facing challenges at one time or another, and sometimes (like now) even several at once.
It can be discouraging and depressing, and if you’re like me, you question, “What in the world was God thinking to allow this to happen? This surely wasn’t really His will, was it?”
This morning, as I sipped my coffee on my front porch and watched the sun come up, I was encouraged with some verses from I Peter 4…Read further here to discover that God is present in our challenges: Facing Challenges.
Meet Christy, the niece of Chip Young, who she writes about in her 31 Day series, at Just a thought…
I’m not exactly sure when Chip started playing golf. I remember Dad talking about it along the years when I was in my early 20’s. I know he wasn’t playing when The Gatlin’s were recording at Young’un because Chip and Rudy never really played together, and they would have, because the Gatlin’s play golf. But I know Chip LOVED his golf. And he was playing a lot by the time he met Diane at that apartment complex in 1989.
A lot meaning nearly every Saturday and Sunday…Read further here and learn how God’s great Love draws people unto Himself: Without Words.
Meet Tara at: Praying on the Prairie
These words are eloquently beautiful and remind me of the power of God’s grace in my own life especially as a daughter of someone who has lived daily with a mental illness. Without our journey, I wouldn’t be who God has called me to be. I also wouldn’t have been blessed in telling our story to others. Or in the words of Brene Brown, “Loving ourselves through the process of owning our own story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do!” (Funny thing since “brave” is my One word 365 for 2015. And another blog friend recently commented to me that she feels that my brave is in telling my/our story)
Our story begins shortly after my sister was born. Mom had a nervous breakdown. Both my sister and I spent lots of time with our grandparents as Mom was treated for her illness. Dad was busy working and earning money to pay for the doctor’s bills…Read further here to hear about God’s Great Love meets us in our suffering: Sometimes Grace is Pain.