Tag Archives: hope

Be Inspired — Faith in and through Tragedy

be inspiredNext in this month’s be inspired series is another great conversation from the archives — a 2011 interview with Christina Schofield. She’s an illustrator and a writer; her book, My Life and Lesser Catastrophes — An Unflinchingly Honest Journey of Faith, tells the story of how a tragic motorcycle accident radically changed the trajectory of her life and challenged her faith.

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Chris, I’m so glad to introduce you to my “friends.” Can you tell them a bit about yourself?

I was born the youngest of four to a gentle, humble Swedish preacher in a tiny Midwestern town. I doodled and passed notes all through my school days, so kind of stuck with it for a profession. The last fifteen years or so, I’ve illustrated and written stuff for mostly Christian publishing companies. I’m married to a campus minister (Allen) and we have a seven-year-old daughter, Lily. If my days were a pie chart, it would look like this: Taking care of the fam’ (including two cats that hate each other and a neglected beta fish): 30%, Driving people places—30%, Making sandwiches—30%, Work, house-cleaning, and pretty much everything else combined—10%.

I’m very excited about your book, My Life and Lesser Catastrophes, that is coming out this summer. For my readers who don’t know your story, can you tell us what your book is about?

Not quite four years ago, my husband and I were in a motorcycle accident. I was okay, but he broke his neck and was left paralyzed. The book is kind of a walk through that ugly-faith journey — picking up the pieces and saying that God is good even when my life is bad!

This month we’re looking at the discipline of life-change. I imagine that the extreme difficulties you and your husband have lived through recently have been a catalyst for some serious self-examination. What has God revealed to you about yourself through this challenging season?

Initially, came the question, “WHAT? How could you let this happen, God? I thought we were friends!” There was instant perspective — a lot of things I had desired goal-wise  I immediately realized didn’t really matter compared to the pursuit of God and getting my family well. The next challenge was coming to terms with the fact that God still loves me even when I have nothing to offer him in return. I’ve spent most of my life struggling to “perform” for him, do my best stuff to win his approval and/or impress people. There is a sort of peace that comes when you hit rock bottom and realize, “Wow. He loves me still.”

What else has God revealed to you about himself through this painful journey?

His love of broken things. We avoid brokenness at all cost, but God views it differently than we do. Psalm 52 says a broken spirit is what He actually desires. Psalm 34 says he is near to the broken-hearted, and I’ve found that to be totally true! He is much closer than I ever realized! If you let that get in you good, if you let God open your mind to what he thinks is a big deal I mean, it helps you see people through new eyes.

Scripture tells us that God’s grace is sufficient. Of course this doesn’t mean the difficulties in our lives go away if we trust God! How have you experienced this promise?

Allen was in hospitals for about two months. Shortly after we got back, I had a phone call on the answering machine from an old friend who had been struggling with addictions and family problems and spiritual problems. I had really kind of been overwhelmed with our friendship before Allen’s accident because I didn’t know how to help her. I put off returning her call and she died shortly after of a drug overdose! I felt terrible! I confessed to God, “How do I do this? How can I help others when I feel so burdened myself?” I felt like He was urging me to “do it broken.” To let His strength pour through my smallness, weariness, brokeness (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). He has done that in some really cool ways!

 How can we be praying for you and your family?

Please continue to pray for Allen’s healing, strength, rest, and peace! For wisdom in raising Lils, that she will grow up to love and worship God. Lately, I’ve been praying that God will get all the stuff out of us that keeps us from being completely his. I pray it with hesitation because I know that can be painful! (But necessary.) Thanks! We love getting prayed for!

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Check in each week this month for more stories from women whose faith, ideas, and love will inspire you! 

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22 Ways to Be (a Little More) Present

Be present.

What can this actually look like? How can we be more present to God (who is always, ever present with us)? How can we, in general, be present to our lives—to our experiences, to our loved ones, to our work and our world?

Here’s a list of 22 ideas, but a big, giant caveat on such lists: No one person can do all of these things at once! And I’m not suggesting that you do – because I certainly don’t (and can’t). Peruse a list like this with your soul listening to the Holy Spirit. What one thing might you want to focus on? Or what new idea springs to your mind as you consider this? Go with it.

paints Live a little more.

• Make it a goal to laugh more today! Laugh and smile with someone you love.

• Pause from busyness to enjoy beauty: nature, music, art, ideas. Just 5 minutes can transform your mindset for the rest of the day.

• Immerse yourself in a creative endeavor: Cook a meal with gusto, write a letter to a friend (on actual paper), scrawl out a drawing, sing your heart out in the shower.

• Enjoy your work. Value the tasks or employment God has put on your plate today, be it housework, office work, or whatever. Find meaning it in – sacredness – and find joy in utilizing your skills and efforts to get a job well done.

• Move a little more. Get that heart pumping. Use that body God has given you. Exercise (and try to enjoy it).

• Pause to be grateful for your life. Say thank you. Say it again. And again.

Love a little more. Continue reading

On Guts, Garbage, and Abundant Grace

We need grace for the brokenness, sin, pain, and garbage in our lives. And, thankfully, God gives us grace abundant! In and through this grace, we find the courage to share our grace-story. And boy, does it take courage!

One person who absolutely embodies such courage is Elisabeth Klein Corcoran. She’s walked through a lot of difficulty in recent years as she has journeyed through marital separation and then divorce. And yet God’s sustaining grace has enabled her to use her own story to minister to others. She is the author of Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage and Unraveling: Hanging On to Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, along with several other book and article (like this gutsy, honest TCW article.)

Have you ever wondered how God can use your past, your pain, your failures, or your brokenness? Keep reading . . .

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1940242_10202979925681396_1861604236_nElisabeth, tell my readers about yourself!

I have been writing and speaking for about thirteen years.  I’m a single mom to two great teenagers.  I seriously have the best girlfriends in the world. I love my church, my home, my dog, and going for bike rides (if spring will ever come back!).

This month we’re talking about grace on my blog. What’s one way you’ve experienced God’s grace at work in your life recently?

Over the past three years of walking out of my marriage through a difficult separation and a painful divorce, grace was withheld from me by other believers, more than I’d like to acknowledge. I’ve had people who say they believe in God look me in the eye (or metaphorically look me in the eye when they sent me an email or posted a comment on my blog) and tell me they disapproved of me or asked me why I hate men or questioned my salvation. Really harsh stuff. And in those moments, every single time, it did damage to my soul. And in those moments, you’d think that my heart would’ve just grown harder or colder or I would’ve put my guard up. But what ended up happening – only because of the goodness and sweetness of God – is that he used the pain that I received over and over when grace was withheld from me to make sure that I became a person who didn’t withhold grace from anyone, even on non-divorce-related issues. And I am so grateful to say that I have really grown in this area, showing grace to people and in situations that the old me never would have. It’s ended up being a really beautiful gift.

1620115_10202982464304860_871306973_nYou recently wrote the book Unraveling which candidly chronicles your painful journey through a difficult marriage and then through divorce. What gave you the courage to share such an honest and raw story — and to face some of the really hurtful feedback you’ve had to deal with?

I had three sources of courage to write so openly about my story. Continue reading

2 Strange, Miraculous Gifts

Our guilt and pain . . . can even become avenues of life and light and love.

That’s the statement with which I ended last week’s post. So how can guilt, pain, flaws, and brokeness lead to something good? Something beautiful?

true storyI believe there are 2 strange and miraculous gifts we are given in and through our experiences of guilt, sin, pain, and failure. The first is the gift of conviction, and the second is the gift of a grace-story. And of course, we are given these gifts in and through the grace of Christ and his redeeming work on the Cross.

Read these 2 excerpts from my new Bible study Surrender Your Guilt and consider how God might be prompting you to receive and to respond to these gifts. (Excerpts are ©Kelli B. Trujillo, published by Wesleyan Publishing House, used with permission)

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Conviction vs. Condemnation

Jesus’ interaction with the woman caught in adultery (John 8) provides us with a powerful snapshot of the difference between conviction and condemnation. Did her sins deserve condemnation? Absolutely—and Jesus’ gracious actions toward her in no way “excused” the sin of adultery. But Jesus did not condemn her—the person she was. Instead, he spoke convicting truth into her life: “Go now and leave your life of sin” (8:11). Jesus directly acknowledged the sin and told her to leave it behind. Rather than the hopeless, dreary, ever-worsening, and (for this woman) even deadly future of condemnation, conviction offered her hope, clearly envisioning for her a new way of being. God’s gift of conviction helps us see that we can be set free and start anew! Continue reading

On Fissures and Faith, Cracks and the Cross

I shared last week about the importance of letting go of guilt—and embracing grace.

dry cracksNow some of you may have read that post and muttered under your breath, that’s easier said than done. Because we don’t have a magic-miraculous-memory-marker that can scribble out the mistakes we’ve made as if they never happened—even though we’re forgiven, we may still remember them. And also there are times when we know we should feel guilty—when we’re deeply (and healthily) aware of our shortcomings, flaws, propensity to hurt others, self-centeredness . . . our sin.

And so we must see that “letting go” is part of the conversation rather than the final statement on guilt and grace.

Another critical aspect of experiencing grace—of really living in its power—is courageously seeing our flaws and failings, acknowledging them, and even (strangely) treasuring them.

Wait, what? Was that a typo?

Nope.

Because here’s what I’ve been learning from some amazing, spiritual writers. In What’s So Amazing About Grace?, Philip Yancey discusses what happens “when I begin to see myself as a sinner who cannot please God by any method of self-improvement or self-enlargement. Only then can I turn to God for outside help—for grace—and to my amazement I learn that a holy God already loves me deeply despite my defects. . . . Our wounds and defects are the very fissures through which grace might pass.”

And Max Lucado evokes a similar imagery: “Grace. Let it, let him, so seep into the crusty cracks of your life that everything softens. Then let it, let him, bubble to the surface, like a spring in the Sahara, in words of kindness and deeds of generosity.”

Fissures. Cracks. Fractures, chinks, rifts, and wrinkles. The lines that mark our living. The painful memories. The dogged habits. The heavy regrets. The spur-of-the-moment ugliness.

Our guilt and pain, our failures and flaws, are the means through which we experience the grace of Christ. They show us our need. They bring us to the Cross in penitence or desperation.

And they can even become avenues of life and light and love. 

Awaken Your Soul

Faith is more than mental assent to a set of beliefs—it’s a relationship.

OK . . . you know this lingo, right? But here’s my question—to you and to me—do we truly experience it?

dandelionGod uniquely crafted us to long for intimacy with others; so what can that intimacy look like with the Creator himself?

How can it be deeper, more connected, more real? Rather than words or a set of beliefs and ideas or lingo we banter about with other Christians . . . how can this be something we each profoundly experience? Experience more . . . deeper . . .  personally . . . Continue reading

The Miracle!

All the waiting, all the yearning, all the longing . . . all caught up into one spectacular mystery. The fullness of God entering into humanity, taking on the limitations of flesh and bone and breath. With divine compassion, experiencing our frailty. With grace spanning eternity past to infinite future, entering into finite time and limited space.

incarnationThe miracle of the Incarnation.

When God answered the prayer, “O Come!” When the promises of the ages appeared in a strange and hardly recognizable fulfillment: the King of Kings, the Desire of Nations, in the wrinkled palms and piercing wail of a suckling, swaddled infant.

This is the miracle and the mystery: That in the first Advent, Emmanuel came. And that we await his Second Advent in which all these promises bloom into ultimate fulfillment.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
REJOICE! REJOICE!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel! Continue reading

Oh, the Joy!

Advent — our season of awaiting — is drawing to a close. This is the week of the joy, of the celebration, of the coming of our Lord.

color lightsOf light peeping through, shining in, blazing forth.

The illumination that helps us see.

That helps us see rightly our world, our selves, our hope.

Take a moment to breathe deeply and contemplate the beautiful truth of the Incarnation. Consider this rendering from The Message:

The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
 
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
 
. . . The Life-Light was the real thing:
 
Every person entering Life
 
he brings into Light.
 
He was in the world,
 
the world was there through him,
 
and yet the world didn’t even notice.
 
He came to his own people,
 
but they didn’t want him.
 
But whoever did want him,
 
who believed he was who he claimed
 
and would do what he said,
 
He made to be their true selves,
 
their child-of-God selves.
 
. . . The Word became flesh and blood,
 
and moved into the neighborhood.
 
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
 
the one-of-a-kind glory,
 
like Father, like Son,
 
Generous inside and out,
 
true from start to finish.
 (John 1:5, 9-13)
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Pain in the Background

Behind all the joyful smiles, for some the holiday season is a deeply painful season. Perhaps it is because of loneliness, painful family memories, or loss. If you are suffering during this season of celebration, you are not alone!

A few years ago my friend, author Holley Gerth, stopped by to talk about what it means to celebrate even when life is difficult or painful. I hope this excerpt from our 2011 interview provides you with hope.

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(From December 2011)

Holley-pic-NEW-2You may have heard of Holley Gerth — she’s got a hugely popular blog called “Heart to Heart with Holley.” She’s the author of Rain on Me, God’s Heart for You, and You’re Already Amazing. She’s also created thousands of greeting cards and gifts for DaySpring, the Christian subsidiary of Hallmark and is the cofounder of their web site for women, (in)courage. Holley shares her heart and home with Mark and a crazy dog.

I’m sure you’ll be encouraged and inspired by her honest words.  Keep reading . . . 

Holley, tell my readers about yourself!

I love chocolate, coffee, my husband, and Jesus (not in that order). I’m not a morning person—I once put chocolate on the alarm clock to bribe myself to get up. I ate it and went back to bed. Yes, ma’am. But I married an early bird so I’m learning to change my ways. I’m named after my Grandpa Hollie. He and my Grandma had a  Christian bookstore so I grew up dreaming of being a writer. Being able to share God’s heart with women through words is my passion and I feel so grateful to be able to do so every day. It’s the next best thing to having coffee with all of my readers—which I would do if I could!

This month we’re looking at the twin spiritual disciplines of worship and celebration. In a very basic sense, I define them as praising and thanking God for who he is (worship); and praising and thanking God for what he does (celebration). Why do you think these disciplines are important?

Our church service last night was actually about worship and how it transforms us. The pastor talked about how closely the word “worship” is related to “service” in Greek and Hebrew.Over time I’ve come to see worship not as what we do at church but as a lifestyle of serving Jesus. To me, worship means bowing our hearts to God and saying, “I’m your servant. Use me as little or as much as you want.” That’s actually the prayer I say each morning as I get ready to write. I’ve also started writing what I’m thankful for in a journal each day. I use an unlined journal and draw all kinds of crazy pictures and things. But it works for me.

I recently read that our brains have a natural “negativity bias.” In other words, we tend to focus on and remember what’s negative better. That is a gift from God to help us survive (for example, focusing more on the bear charging out of the woods than the lovely flower behind it). But on a day-to-day basis, it means that we have to be intentional about refocusing our hearts and attention. We don’t need to feel guilty about our tendency to be negative but we do need to recognize it and change it through worship and gratitude. What’s amazing is that our brains literally rewire themselves as we think new thoughts. We actually create new neural pathways and are “transformed by the renewing of our minds.” Isn’t that beautiful?

Wow — Yes! Celebration can take many forms — gratitude, joy, prayer, praise, feasting, and more. When has celebration made a difference in your life?

I feel like this has been a year of learning to embrace joy in my life. Continue reading

The Second Advent

This week in my TCW Advent devotional calendar I encourage readers to focus on the theme of waiting. We often tend to think of the people in the Old Testament awaiting the Messiah — and this is a crucial aspect of Advent. But traditionally Advent is also about our waiting. We too are part of the great Story!

colorful lightsThe word advent means “coming” or “arrival.” While God’s people in the Old Testament waiting the coming of the Messiah, we await the Second Advent: the culmination of our hope. This Second Advent will usher in Jesus’ kingdom of peace and justice!

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4). 

Focus this week on your own waiting, your own hope. Jesus shall reign!

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