Recent Stories

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Grace & Peace

This time of year will always be haunted by memories of these last two years.  It was this time in 2008 when cancer broke into our lives bringing us to our knees with gut wrenching sobs.  It was this time a year later when we sat down with Ian to tell him that the cancer had returned, but this time was attacking his brain.

So these days we need Paul’s blessing of extraordinary grace and peace.  Paul opened every letter he left for us by saying something like, “Grace to you, and peace from God and our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  We need to know that God’s grace or favor is still on us even though He did not give us the kind of healing for which we hoped and prayed.  We need to experience that peace that passes understanding… that runs deeper than any loss and every pain.

But then I need this every day, all day.  Every day I face or fear rejection.  I’m tempted to let that define and control me.  But knowing God’s grace and favor diffuses the effects of the lack of love I may experience.  God’s grace enables me to overcome and to transcend.  Every day things go “wrong” in disturbing ways.  Life is like that in a broken world.  If my sense of well-being is based on my circumstances, I’ll be shaken.  I’ll lose my peace and joy.  But God’s peace is not based on my circumstances.  God’s peace transcends what happens today.  It enables me to live on a higher plane that is tranquil and serene within.

Out of the Wreck We Rise

Yesterday I had a long talk with someone who is wrestling deeply with God’s goodness and love.  Her daughter is battling cancer, facing major surgery to remove various parts of her body.  And she shared with me how she identifies with Bruce Willis in Live Free or Die Hard where he’s in a spectacular scene being chased by a helicopter gunship.  He drives into a tunnel to escape but when he comes out the other end the copter is hovering and waiting for him.  So he drives his car over a barrier sending it airborne into the aircraft while he dives out the door of his car.  A friend finds him on the ground and says, “Do you realize you just took out that helicopter with your car?”  And Willis says, “Yea, I ran out of bullets.”

This mother sees herself in that scene, staggering through the wreckage trying to make some sense of her life.  Then this morning in my quiet time I came to My Utmost for His Highest.  Today’s reading is entitled Out Of The Wreck I Rise.  It is a meditation on Romans 8:35ff, reflecting on how the worst life can throw at us does not separate us from the love of God.  Ah, but it tries!

In the midst of life’s tragedies the enemy tries desperately to convince us that we’ve been separated from God’s love, that God really does not care.  He began in the Garden of Eden whispering his lies, suggesting that God really did not have Eve’s best interests in mind.  He continued with Job, throwing tragedy after tragedy at him in a desperate effort to convince him that God had abandoned him so that he would curse God to His face.  And he’s reading off the same script today in doctor’s offices and hospitals and funeral homes and divorce courts and lonely places.

So here we are a year after Ian’s death.  In “My Utmost” Chambers says, “Some extraordinary thing happens to a man who holds to the love of God when the odds are all against God’s character.”

Out of the wreck we rise.

How Are You Doing Really?

These days friends often ask me, “How are you doing… really?” They are pressing past the perfunctory to the heart.  They are loving me, and I feel loved.  And when there has been time I’ve said from my heart, “I’m actually doing better than any time in the last 5 years since we moved here.”

How can that be?  Perhaps you and others will find it useful to consider my reflections on that.

First of all, I am deeply encouraged with what I see happening in our family.  Many have prayed earnestly that we would not be crushed or hardened by what we have suffered.  In fact we all agree that as a family and as individuals we are doing better than ever.  Our relationships have deepened.  It’s not that we don’t struggle. But our home often feels like a little L’Abri Fellowship as we and our friends sip tea and discuss the hard questions of life.  This gives me great joy.

I’m also finding greater joy in my work.  It’s not easy.  I’ve been particularly busy lately.  A dam has broken and a backlog of things that I’ve been postponing these last two years is rushing around me.  But for the most part they are things that I love and care about deeply.  I’m beginning to experience greater convergence than I’ve known since leaving DC 5 years ago.  When I’m not feeling too overwhelmed, that also gives me joy.

And my interior landscape has changed, and is changing.  There’s less noise and more peace.  That does not mean that I’m past grieving.  A few days ago I woke up crying.  That was a new experience for me.  I had been dreaming about Ian sitting in my lap as he would still do even at 12.  Then in the dream I realized that was merely a memory, and that he’d never again sit in my lap in this life.  So I woke crying.  But it was good to allow myself to cry again.  And I soon found my heart with him in heaven, rejoicing over the fact that he is forever healed and free.

This is an internet ministry for folks who don’t want to waste their pain, but rather grow through it.  The Lord gave us a picture of the life impact that we hope to see… people who are increasingly thriving, overcoming, fully alive, transformed, renewed, hopeful, peaceful, connected and passing on to others how they have grown through their pain.

I’m here to tell you that is possible.  Does it still hurt?  Yes it does, every day.  Are there hard days?  Absolutely!  Do I still get discouraged?  You bet I do.  But on the whole I’m experiencing greater spiritual vigor and joy than I’ve known in years.  So please join me in praying that our ministry will lead more and more people out from under their pain and into overcoming Life.

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