My optimistic attitude and faith have served as great companions in supplying endurance in the most difficult circumstances.  Even when my first response is of the flesh, the Lord always gives me new perspective and changes my heart on the matter.

Sometimes He removes the obstacle, sometimes He walks me around it, and sometimes He allows me to struggle, chin-deep in the quicksand of the matter.

No matter His method of leading me, He has never left me to fend for myself, and He’s always brought me through the fire refined

During the past five years our family has danced with the flames of darkness, grief, loss and incessant turmoil.  No matter how upbeat or how great a sense of humor I once had, somewhere along the way I succumbed to the flames and lost my smile.

I knew from the depths of my soul that the Lord had not left me and that He had much to teach me.  He brought me face to face with my own sin of selfishness and independence.  Yet I couldn’t break the chains of my flesh.  Or rather, I wouldn’t.

Each day brought more chaos, more pressure and required more action to bring resolution.  The burden to try to keep the wheels of our family of 12 running smoothly are lofty under normal circumstances, but add the medical needs of five precious children, the daily in-your-face battles, and I became resentful and bitter.  I’d lost my emotions and even forgotten how to laugh.  Each opportunity the Lord gave me to trust Him, no matter to what degree I tried at first, I would ultimately cave to my own need for control.

Please understand that I’m not proud of this, but my prayer is that the Lord might use my transparency to minister to your heart in the midst of suffering.

Oh, I continued to put one foot in front of the other.  I performed all the necessary duties of a wife and mom, and  I traveled back and forth to numerous medical visits without a problem, but when it came to the biggest thing the Lord was using to change my heart, I dug my heels in every.single.time, which meant about a thousand times a day.  Fail.

And yet, His mercies are new each morning.  His grace is sufficient, His patience is unimaginable, His presence is constant, and He is the Source of love.

Each time I shook my finger at the situation was as if I were looking in a mirror reflecting my own black heart.  I was convicted of how the Lord drew me to Himself and Jesus brought me from death to life.  So what was wrong with me?  I’m a Christ follower!  The Spirit dwells within me.  He has given me a new heart.  He continues to diminish my desire for the things of this world and long for Him.  I kept hoping, praying and waiting for Him to change the situation.  Otherwise, it would require changing ME, and apparently I was running from that, unwilling to repent.  To this day I am amazed at His patient pursuit of me.

The situation is not entirely resolved, but the Lord is doing an amazing work in my heart.  He has brought me to a place of brokenness and complete dependence upon Him.  There is a spring in my step and a smile on my face.  Only by His grace.

The bitterness was hurting my family, and the need for control was driving me further away from those I love.  The Lord brought me to repentance and complete surrender.  I still battle the flesh, but I have an arsenal of Truth as my first line of defense.

Have you lost your smile?

Fear not!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  Isaiah 43:2

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.  Ezekiel  11:19b