Archives For Inspirational Lives

To celebrate International Women’s Day, debut author and blogger Sarah Bessey is hosting a synchroblog to celebrate Spiritual Midwives and Patron Saints, otherwise known as the women who shaped our lives spiritually. Why don’t you write a post about your Patron Saints and link-up with her? (Click here to tweet & invite others!) I’ve written often of three women—the most amazing ladies I’ve never met—who changed my life in a big way. Here are the most lasting lessons I’ve learned from their lives.

One: Do not fear the fire for Christ is with you. (Darlene Deibler Rose)
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As a young bride, Darlene Deibler accompanied her missionary husband to the Baliem Valley of New Guinea in hopes of ministering to the tribal people. Instead she ended up in a Japanese prison camp for the duration of World War II. During those turbulent years, she was imprisoned, beaten, starved, and abused. Yet she cherished a tender relationship with Jesus and never lost faith in His love.

“I was to discover that when I took my eyes off the circumstances that were overwhelming me, over which I had no control, and looked up, my Lord was there, standing on the parapet of heaven, looking down. Deep in my heart He whispered, ‘I’m here. Even when you don’t see Me, I’m here. Never for a moment are you out of My sight.’”

(If you haven’t read her poignant memoir, Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II, grab a copy now!)

Two: Let your life be always shadowed by the cross. (Elisabeth Elliot)
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To me it seems that Elisabeth Elliot has lived through every possible season of life a woman could experience. As an author she’s written about her firsthand experiences with loneliness, longing, heartbreak, passion, purity, and triumphant love. Of course, I loved reading about her courtship with larger-than-life hero Jim Elliot. In one of her books, she shares the details of a difficult parting on the night before she and Jim left Wheaton to go their separate ways, not knowing if God would ever bring them back together:

“Jim and I walked to a cemetery and sat down on a stone slab. He spoke of a story he had read in his Bible study that morning–the story of Abraham’s offering up Isaac. ‘So I put you on the altar,’ he said. Slowly we became aware that the moon, which had risen behind us, was casting the shadow of a stone cross on the slab between us. We were silent for a very long time, pondering this undeniable sign.”

Three: When God’s only answer is “I know,” that is enough. (Corrie Ten Boom)
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God planned for Corrie Ten Boom to become the heroine of The Hiding Place, rescuing Jews and standing for Christ against evil. But when the Nazis first invaded, He gave her not a vision of victory but of the tragedies to come. In her memoir Corri writes of her vision: “‘Betsie!’ I cried, jumping up, pressing my hands to my eyes. ‘Betsie, I’ve had such an awful dream!’ I felt her arm around my shoulder. Over coffee, standing at the stove, I told Betsie what I had seen. ‘Am I imagining things because I’m frightened? But it wasn’t like that! It was real. Oh Betsie, was it a kind of vision?’

‘I don’t know,’ she said softly. ‘But if God has shown us bad times ahead, it’s enough for me that He knows about them. That’s why He sometimes shows us things, you know—to tell us that this too is in His hands.'”

These precious women have meant much to me—though they will never know until Heaven. Who has touched your life for Christ? Who did God use to give you strength? Is there someone who has relived her hurts that you might be made whole? Thank God for that dear sister-in-Christ today!

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One of the books I spent the weekend with was A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada. This was an encouraging, hope-giving read—but also challenging—which I should have expected since the subtitle is Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty. I cried my way through the many inspiring stories and felt I had to share one of the sweetest with all of you.

From A Place of Healing: “I [Joni] have a physical-therapist friend who recently received the most priceless, precious gift you can imagine. But it wasn’t a normal gift.

My friend arrived in Cameroon, a very poor country on the west coast of Africa, with our team, ready to go and fit disabled children to new wheelchairs. It turned out to be very difficult for the team to travel to the place where we were to distribute the chairs. So it was pitch-dark by the time they pulled up to the small center where all the people with disabilities were.

They’d been arriving all afternoon from distant villages, literally dragging themselves through the dirt, or being carried by relatives. Now the little center—even this late at night—was packed full of disabled people resting on the floor in thin blankets.

Even so, they were deliriously happy when our physical therapists pulled up outside. Our team kept the lights of the jeep and the truck turned on, while disabled children and adults and family members spilled out of the door into the parking area, where they celebrated the team’s arrival with a welcome song.

They were so excited that their song lasted over an hour!

The next morning our team began fitting each disabled child and adult. There was one little girl named Joyceline who had an enlarged head due to hydrocephalus; she was not able to walk and had also been battling malaria. She was the quiet one who watched all the goings on, sitting silently on the floor with a shy smile, wide-open eyes not missing a thing. She waited her turn without complaining or whining.

Finally, when several hours went by, it was time to fit Joyceline. And that’s where the unusual gift comes in. As my physical therapist friend started measuring this precious African child, the little girl began singing (almost in a whisper) a song over the physical therapist.

She placed her tiny hand on my friend’s shoulder and began composing her own little worship song.

‘Jesus loves our friends, and He cares so much for us. He loves you for helping us, for sharing with us His care. Jesus is the One we love so much. We are happy in His love. We want to say we love you too.’

Joyceline made up that little song, singing her praise and worship to God while she rested her little hand on the physical therapist’s shoulder. That day the Spirit of Christ permeated the entire hillside of that small village in Cameroon, and our Wheels team members discovered that those who are poor in this world are often the richest in faith. That physical therapist received the best gift ever—the gratitude of this dear little daughter of the living God.

Oh sure, she had given Joyceline the gift of a wheelchair. But what my friend received was far more valuable. Priceless, really—the incalculable thankfulness of the poorest of the poor.”

Back to me: After reading Joyceline’s story, I asked God to give me just a touch of her sweet spirit. Would you say a prayer for Joyceline and the many folks at Wheels for the World?

This week I’m linking up with Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday, Soli Deo Gloria, The Better Mom, Gratituesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Thought-Provoking Thursday, Hearts 4 Home Thursday.

One woman desperate for hope. One Savior with the power to heal.

Book blurb from Amazon.com: A beautiful girl blossoming into womanhood, Mary has high hopes for a life filled with learning, family, and young love. In one dreadful night, all of that changes. The nightmares come first, then the waking visions of unspeakable terror, until Mary hardly remembers her dreams for the future.

Can the Most High deliver her from this torment? How long must she wait for healing?

This vivid portrait of the enigmatic Mary of Magdala comes to life in the hands of an imaginative master storyteller, Diana Wallis Taylor.

My take on the story: I love Diana Wallis Taylor’s sweet, simple way of telling a story. In this book, she presents Mary Magdalene as a normal, happy young girl who is forever changed by a traumatic event. Though Mary survives the incident, she begins to let fear rule her mind. In spite of the efforts of her family, she cannot live a normal life. Her mental deterioration continues until she becomes a woman possessed. Though I knew from the Bible account that Jesus would free Mary, I hurt with her as she fought those battles in her mind and eagerly turned pages to get to that miraculous encounter.

Diana Wallis Taylor made Mary and her world real for me. As I read about Mary’s struggle through so many wasted years, I couldn’t help but contemplate the debilitating affect fear can have on any of us—if we let it. And I was moved to thank God for the peace and freedom that come from His healing touch on our lives. This is a story you won’t want to miss. You can pick up your copy of Mary Magdalene at this link. ***Thanks to Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, for providing my review copy.

About the author: Recently named “Writer of the Year” by the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild, Diana Wallis Taylor has been writing since the age of 12 when she sold her first poem to a church newspaper. She won first place in the San Diego Book Awards for her short story, “Phipps and the Jay”; First place in Christian Romance for her book Smoke Before the Wind. First place in Christian Fiction for her manuscript, “House of the Forest”; Second place last year for Martha in the Reader’s Favorite Book Review and Award Contest.

Diana lives with her husband Frank in San Diego, California. Between them they have six grown children and ten grandchildren. She enjoys speaking and sharing her heart with women of all ages. In addition to her speaking and writing, she serves on the Board of the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild, the Board of her church, sings on the worship team, and enjoys taking part in Professional Women’s Fellowship. You can find Diana at this link.

This week I’m linking up with Your Thriving Family and Beholding Glory.

UPDATE: I pre-ordered this book and should receive it in mid-July. Can’t wait to share it with all of you!

I love the story of Ruth. She was a woman who could have ended up rejected and forgotten, living a long lonely life fueled by few happy memories. Instead, God favored her. He showed her that—in spite of tragedy, disappointment, and heartache—He had his eye on her and would never let her go. And that gives me hope!

Best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs has written a devotional/study book about Ruth that is on my Wish List. The Girl’s Still Got It: Take a Walk with Ruth and the God Who Rocked Her World has been described as “time travel without gimmicks, gizmos, or a DeLorean: a novel approach to Bible study that leaps from past to present, gleaning timeless truths that speak to the heart.” I can’t wait to load it onto my Kindle.

This is a video of Liz performing her Righteous Ruth Rap (which goes with the book) at a ladies conference. I’d love to hear Liz present her study in person, but I guess this little video is the next best thing. It’s 4 minutes long but worth the time. If you need a spot of encouragement today, check it out.

Isn’t Liz the best? You can listen to her podcasts, read her blog, scan her speaking schedule, and connect with her at this link.

Hope you enjoyed! Many blessings, friends!

This week I’m linking with Call Me Blessed, A Pause on the Path, Gratituesday, Thought-provoking Thursday, and Journey of Faith Friday.

We remember

Renee Ann Smith —  May 28, 2012 — 5 Comments

Most of us wonder if our lives make any difference. Our fighting men and women don’t have that problem. ~Ronald Reagan~

I am a warrior and a member of a team. I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade . . . I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life . . . I am an American Soldier. ~from The Soldier’s Creed~

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same ~Ronald Reagan~

Remember the fallen and say a prayer for those who are still in harm’s way. Blessings on this Memorial Day, my friends!

Today I’m linking up with The Better Mom and Working Kansas Homemaker.

Sometimes I feel like I’m riding on a wave of emotions that I don’t understand. I certainly can’t be expected to control this—or can I? According to the Creator who made me, there is a way to control and even change what I am feeling. His Word says to . . . “Put on love. Love one another. Be of the same mind with one another. Do not envy one another. Keep fervent in your love for one another” . . . And those are just a few of the commands related to feelings.

The most helpful truth I ever learned about my emotional state was the maxim: Right feelings follow right actions. When I think the right thoughts and do the right things, the right feelings will eventually follow. Never have I seen this lived out more powerfully than in the life of Corrie ten Boom.

Sisters Corrie, Betsie, and Nollie

Corrie and her sister Betsie were interned in a concentration camp during World War II. After months of deprivation and cruel treatment at the hands of the guards, Betsie died there. Corrie was released alone. When the war was over, Corrie shared Betsie’s testimony of the love and forgiveness she found in Christ with all who would listen. The following excerpt concerns one of those speaking engagements:

The hunger for Betsie’s story seemed to increase with time. I [Corrie] traveled all over Holland, to other parts of Europe, to the United States. But the place where the hunger was greatest was Germany.

Germany was a land in ruin, cities of ashes and rubble, but more terrifying still, minds and hearts of ashes. Just to cross the border was to feel the great weight that hung over that land.

It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there—the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.

Betsie

He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. ‘How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,’ he said. ‘To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!’

His hand was thrust out to shake mine.

And I, who had preached so often to the people the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.

Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man. Was I going to ask for more?

Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile. I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing—not the slightest spark of warmth or charity.

So again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give Your forgiveness.

As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand, a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives—along with the command—the love itself.

Follow the links below for more lessons from the life of Corrie ten Boom.

This week I’m linking up with Soli Deo Gloria, Playdates with God, The Better Mom, Teach Me Tuesdays, Gratituesday, Thought-provoking Thursday, Hearts 4 Home Thursdays, and Homegrown Families Friday.

On my wish list

Renee Ann Smith —  April 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

Here’s the book blurb and trailer for a book I’m waiting for . . . When Navy SEAL Adam Brown woke up on March 17, 2010, he didn’t know he would die that night in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan—but he was ready. In a letter to his children, not meant to be seen unless the worst happened, he wrote, “I’m not afraid of anything that might happen to me on this earth, because I know no matter what, nothing can take my spirit from me.”

Fearless is the story of Adam Brown, a man of extremes, whose courage and determination was fueled by faith, family, and the love of a woman. It’s about a man who waged a war against his own worst impulses and persevered to reach the top tier of the US military. Always the first to volunteer for the most dangerous assignments, Adam’s final act of bravery led to the ultimate sacrifice.

Looks good, doesn’t it? (You can pre-order here if you’re interested, too.)

How about you? What are  you looking forward to reading soon?

UPDATE: A winner has been emailed!

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit living inside a Christian is like a treasure hiding in an earthen vessel. What happens when the fragile vessel housing that precious treasure cracks and breaks? The brokenness provides an even greater opportunity for God’s Spirit to shine.

Just so, my friend’s mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, could not remember her own name but somehow knew every word of her favorite hymns and Bible verses. Or my learning-disabled student, who could barely retain enough information to pass a class, was able to memorize Bible verses and understand biblical concepts. Or take the example of Jen Barrick.

Jen Barrick

What is Jen’s story? On the night of November 5, 2006, the Barrick family was driving home from church when their van was struck by a drunk driver. Fifteen-year-old Jen suffered multiple skull fractures and severe brain trauma and was not expected to survive the night. But against all odds, she did. As she lingered in a coma, doctors warned that if Jen ever woke up, she would be cursing and screaming in confusion due to her brain injuries.

The doctors told her mother, Linda, “Brain injury patients are agitated, confused, and in pain. Often reviving patients are violent, lashing out with arms and legs, fighting and swearing, using words you couldn’t imagine the person even knew.”

But that’s not how it happened for Jen.

Instead, she woke at 3 a.m., praying.

Though Jen could not communicate with her family beyond a few slurred words, she remembered whole portions of the Bible and every praise song she’d ever learned—and spoke them clearly.

Linda writes, “While her battered body lay in a hospital room in Virginia, her spirit stood in the throne room of the Almighty.”

Those who heard Jen’s first middle-of-the-night prayers thought God was going to take Jen to heaven right then. But Jen’s prayer gave Linda hope. “Whatever happened from now on, I [Linda] knew that Jen was the Lord’s and He had blessings to shower upon her along with great work to do in His name.”

Miracle for Jen chronicles Jen’s journey through brokenness. Though she lost much, she gained a connection with God that few have while here on earth and a powerful ministry. Jen’s story renewed my appreciation for God’s gift of life and reminded me why I can trust Him with all that I am. It would be difficult to read this book and not be changed. Here are two ways to get your hands on a copy . . .

(1) Enter this drawing. Leave a comment on this post to be entered to win a coupon for a free copy of the book. For bonus, you can “like” my new Facebook page here and then let me know in the comment you leave. The drawing will remain open until next Wednesday, April 18. (2) Follow this link to purchase the book.

***Thanks to Tyndale House for sending Miracle for Jen for me to review.