faith

Planned Adversity

My youngest son is a big hockey fan and loves to play as well.  Last weekend he finished four days of very intense tryouts.  Initially there were only four coaches evaluating and everyday more and more coaches would arrive to evaluate the players, until the last day when there were ten evaluators.  Additional evaluators often led to additional stress.
In addition to the added evaluators; the last two days the organization covered all the windows to the rink and no spectators were allowed in, there was no father to give an approving nod, or mother to motion in “hockey sign-language” to ‘move your feet', instead, it was only the players and evaluators.

A typical ‘shift’ in hockey lasts approximately 40 seconds and then you’re back on the bench recovering, and players rotate seamlessly into and out of the game.  Tyler came home and shared that they were forcing each line to stay out for 4 minute shifts instead of 40 seconds; he talked about how bad his legs were burning, how a lot of kids were ‘giving up’, throwing-up or just gliding around on the ice.  I thought that was an amazing technique to use in tryouts to learn who will give-up early; who is in the best physical and cardiovascular condition; and who may have a negative attitude in difficult situations.  

The next day after Tyler had learned he made the team we ran into the coach, and that’s when he shared that ‘planned adversity’ will be a theme of this upcoming hockey season.  He went on to say that they are looking to develop the most elite hockey players in the world and that goal requires hockey skill along with mental and physical strength.  

What do you think?  Is ‘planned adversity’ a good thing for growth and development?  Is there a better way to make mentally and physically strong people?

Here are some Scriptures to ponder as it relates to this:

planned adversity

 

James 1:2-4, 12 AMP
“Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace].  And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing”… “Blessed [happy, spiritually prosperous, favored by God] is the man who is steadfast under trial and perseveres when tempted; for when he has passed the test and been approved, he will receive the [victor’s] crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

Here are 3 simple things you can do to plan adversity into your child's life depending on their age:
1) Don't bail them out of consequences and situations that they caused by poor choices
2) Make them wake-up for school on their own
3) Have them do chores that are more difficult or time-consuming than he/she may think they can handle
After all I want my kids to be 'lacking in nothing!'

This verse also talks about ‘persevering when tempted’ and I realized that when I have had adversity I was often tempted to give up, or to lie (that I wasn’t really trying or didn’t really want it anyway.)  The times I have had success is when I expected adversity and saw that adversity as a learning experience to become stronger, to exercise my beliefs, to become an “elite” warrior for the Lord and for those lost or less spiritually mature around me.   

Has adversity in your life made you stronger?  Do you currently plan adversity into your life in any way?  

Written by Jamie Shaver

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How to Have Overcoming Faith

My only daughter is leaving in a little over 2 weeks to go on the mission field for a minimum of two years to a nation that is very hostile to the gospel, where there can be severe consequences for sharing Jesus’ love.  Many people have asked me, “How can you let her go?” and “How are you holding up?” Or, they have assumed that I am a ‘basket case’ and distraught about her going.  As the youngest of my four children and the only girl, she and I share a very special relationship and I can tell you that I am going to miss her. VERY, VERY MUCH!!! It will be difficult to be apart, not only because I will miss having face-to-face conversations with her, but also because our phone contact will be limited due to our different time zones and busy schedules, and our ability to openly communicate via text and email will be restricted due to security reasons. Despite where she is going, how long she’ll be away, and the fact that I will miss her, I want to testify that God has given me His perfect peace that surpasses all human understanding. (Philippians 4:7)  I want to share with you why that is.

·      I have known since she was conceived that first and foremost she is the ‘Lord’s daughter’ before she ever became mine; He not only created her, He also bought her with the price of His precious blood and He has entrusted her to me and my husband to raise her in the 'fear and admonition of the Lord' and  for His pleasure and glory.  It is to His glory that she honor and serve Him by sharing His love with others. (1st Corinthians 6:20; Jeremiah 1:4-5; Isaiah 43:7-9)

·      If we love God—which she and I most definitely do—we demonstrate our love for the Lord by obeying Him. (John 14:15)  If we want to be Jesus’ disciple, we must be willing to do as Jesus did—‘lay down’-- or ‘surrender’ our will to the will of Our Heavenly Father. (Luke 9:23)  And His command and will for all of us is to GO and MAKE DISCIPLES in all nations. (Matthew 28:19) I demonstrate my love for Him by being willing to ‘offer up’ the daughter He has entrusted to me, knowing that He loves her even more than I do, and that WHATEVER He asks of her—as well as of me as her parent in ‘letting go’ of her—is ALWAYS and ONLY for our good and for the glory of His Name! (Romans 8:28)

·      Yes, Jesus is worthy of her and our obedience!  And, the souls of those with whom she will share the good news of the gospel are also worthy of her giving up her time... and even her life. Jesus came to earth to ‘seek and to save the lost’, and as His followers, we are called to do likewise. (Luke 19:10) Every day 66,000 people die who have not had the opportunity to hear about Jesus and His life-transforming love for them. God’s heart breaks for them—and ours ought to as well. How can we who know Jesus not hurt for and have compassion upon those who have never heard of the forgiveness, hope, truth and love that is found in Christ alone? The truth that His love can set them free from the power of sin in their lives and the penalty of sin, which is eternal death and damnation. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:14-15)

·      I know that she will be living a truly meaningful life, investing her time, energy and resources in what is eternal--developing intimacy with Jesus and sharing His love with others—an investment that cannot be taken away from her and for which she will reap the benefits for all eternity. In contrast, a meaningless life is living for the things of this world that will rust, rot and burn and cannot enter with us into heaven. (Matthew 6:19-21) I know she will be blessed over the next several years with the intimate Presence of the Lord and the sure knowledge that she is doing His will by sharing His love with others; I also know that life on earth is brief and that we are all eternal beings. Great will be her reward on earth, and even greater will be her reward in Heaven for all eternity! And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29 ESV

·      I keep my eyes fixed upon Jesus, Who is worthy of her—and my-- ‘all and everything’!  I know that although I will not be able to be with her physically, that Jesus ‘will never leave her or forsake her’. I know that no matter where she is and wherever she goes that she will NEVER be alone; she will ALWAYS have Jesus beside her, Who is a Warrior and FAR better protector than I—and He alone loves her with an ‘unfailing love’. (Hebrews 13:5: Isaiah 54:10; Psalm 36:5-7; Zephaniah 3:17)

God is Love…Love never fails…therefore God CANNOT fail her!!! (1st John 4:8; 1st Corinthians 13: 8) I am trusting my beloved daughter into the hands of her Heavenly Father Who is her Creator, the Sovereign Lord over all of the earth, Who is ALWAYS with her, and Who can never do anything that is not ultimately for her good!  I know that NOTHING and NO ONE can thwart God’s will and that not even a hair on her head can be touched without Him allowing it to happen…and if He allows it, it is for her good and the glory of His Name! If she is persecuted for her faith—even unto death, I trust that God will continue to grant me His peace because I find my hope and rest in His Word-- which is truth—and He says that, Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10 ESV) She and I also believe, as Paul stated, that ‘to live is Christ and to die is gain’ if we  have truly surrendered our lives to Our Savior and Lord Jesus. (Philippians 1:21) May her life--and all of our lives-- bring Jesus the honor and glory that He is due, for He is worthy of everything, including our laying down our very lives, as he so lovingly did for us!

Written by Julie Van Gorp

 

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Different Deliveries Yet Timeless Truth

I am overjoyed by the birth of my third grandchild and first grandson who was born last week. Although I wasn’t in the delivery room with my son and his wife when he was born, I was at the hospital and had the delight and privilege of seeing him shortly after his birth. Once again I was in awe of the absolute miracle of birth! I also was amazed by the number of changes that have taken place since I had my babies in the 80’s and early 90’s, which got me thinking about how the delivery of babies has changed so much in just the last century. I was part of the Lamaze generation of ‘natural childbirth’ so I was blown away to be in the room while my daughter-in-law—whose labor had to be induced and then was given an epidural-was connected to a monitor that revealed she was having contractions, but was seemingly not experiencing labor pains. While I watched her, keenly aware of the contrast to the labors I had, I wondered who had brainwashed me into having four natural childbirths! After my grandson was delivered---in the same private room where my daughter-in-law labored and where they remained for the duration of their 2-day stay-- they put his naked, ‘uncleaned’ body on her chest for an hour of ‘skin to skin bonding’. My son was there throughout the labor and delivery, and he even was able to cut the umbilical cord. The baby slept in a bassinet in the same room with his Mom for the duration of their hospital stay, and my son was able to enjoy those precious newborn days with his wife and new son too, not even having to leave at night since a sofa bed was provided for him in the same room.

True View Ministries

What a contrast between that and when my Mom gave birth to my siblings and me in the 1950’s! She gave birth to me in a delivery room that not only was separate from the hospital room she shared with other Moms, but also separated her from my Dad, who like all of his contemporaries, definitely was not allowed in—nor did he ever consider going into-- the delivery room. My Mom, like other women of her day, was heavily sedated and virtually uninvolved in the delivery that required forceps since she was too sedated to push. She did get a chance to briefly look at me before I was whisked away, weighed, and laid in a bassinet in the nursery in a row alongside all the other babies. The nurses took me to her during scheduled times and my Dad was able to visit her during strict visiting hours, as long as I was not in her room. He was only able to glance at me through the glass window of the nursery, never even able to hold me during my hospital stay.

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As I thought of the changes that have taken place in the birth and delivery of babies over just the past century and how things vary based on mankind’s view of what is best, it made me so grateful to realize that God and His Word never change! One thing we can know about man’s ‘wisdom’--it will always change based on ‘new knowledge’. However, because God is the Source of all wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs 2:6; Romans 11:33-34), you can know that His Word can always be relied upon to give you truth, wisdom, and the sure guidance you need for living a purposeful, meaningful, joyous, and peaceful life. I encourage you to read the scriptures below and to thank God that He is not the author of confusion, but He is the faithful One Who can always be trusted because His character is totally consistent, He is unchanging, and He is always true to His Word!

“For I the LORD do not change… Malachi 3:6 ESV

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes]. James 1:17 AMP

Also the Splendor and Glory and Eminence of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind. 1st Samuel 15:29 AMP

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 ESV

Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Psalm 119: 89 ESV

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Matthew 24: 35 ESV

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8 ESV

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? Numbers 23:19 ESV

I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. Psalm 89:34 ESV

Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?... For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1st Corinthian 1:20b, 25 ESV

For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10 ESV

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalm 20:7

Are you putting your trust and hope in the variableness of man’s reasoning and ways, or are you trusting in God Who is always ‘Faithful and True’ (Revelation 19:11)?

Lord, forgive me for when I doubt You and foolishly put my trust in the changing ways of mankind that conflict with Your unchanging Word! Increase my faith in You and help me to stand firm on Your unchanging Word in the midst of an ever-changing world! I love You, Lord, and I put my hope in You Who will not and cannot fail me! I declare that You alone are God, that all wisdom and knowledge is found in You, and You will accomplish Your purposes for me and for Your world! Amen.

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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5 Reasons You Need to Stop Saying This Word

The word never, is only beneficial when describing things that God has said will never happen or to keep a person safe.  Here are a few examples:

God is never going to change

God will never sin

God will never flood the earth again

Never do drugs

Never drink & drive

dictionary.com defines ‘never’ as:


Nev-er

1. not ever; at no time:

2. not at all; absolutely not:

3. to no extent or degree:

Often I hear people use this word in a way that does significant damage to their spiritual walk.  Here are a few examples about the times we may be tempted to use this word:  

“We know that’s never going to happen….” in response to a relationship problem, marriage issue or work dilemma.

“She’s never going to change” in response to a person

“He’s never going to get accepted” into that program/college/trade school

“They will never agree to that” in response to a governing body or place of employment

“I would never do that” in response to judging someone else’s sin

“He would never say/do that” in response to a bad report from a teacher about your child

“God will never answer this prayer/perform a miracle for me/care about this.”

The word ‘Never’ is a life killer, dream stealer, hope thwarter, and prayer thief.

5 Reasons Why We Need to Stop Using the Word ‘Never’:

1. ‘Never’ is faithless word & without faith we cannot please God  

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  Hebrews 11:6 NIV

2. ‘Never’ brings death to a situation vs. hope & life which God is the author of

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  Proverbs 18:21 NIV

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3. ‘Never’ is not the truth  (unless you’re repeating something God said will never happen.)                                                                  

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”’ Matthew 19:26 NIV

4. ‘Never; completely diminishes the power of God in our lives because it is a lie

“Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!” Psalm 40:4

5.   Saying ‘Never’ is worse than doubt, it is making yourself ‘God’ over that situation or person you are praying for or talking about.  The word ‘never’ declares that you are the authority in the matter and it is blasphemous and idolatry.  Our God is a redeemer, an expert in the restoration of all things, He makes all things new, He regenerates people from death to eternal life, and specializes in the impossible!  When you say you believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, and with the same mouth proclaim that He will “never” fix your marriage or change your friend you are a double-minded man!  Look what James 1:6-8 says: “But he must ask in faith, without doubting, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”  (bold letter added for emphasis) 

The use of the word ‘never’ in your life keeps you from living a life of faith.

I challenge you to stop using the word ‘never’ and begin today to replace it with life-giving words of hope and truth from God’s Word.  

“You were wearied with the length of your way, but you did not say, “It is hopeless”; you found new life for your strength, and so you were not faint.”  Isaiah 57:10 ESV

“Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping–believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, "That’s how many descendants you will have!”  Romans 4:18 NLT

In what situation do you find yourself in that there may be ‘no reason for hope’ as was the case with Abraham?  Choose to keep on believing in God’s truth today. 

What are you hoping for?  Write out some Bible verses to study and repeat that will bring hope to your life.

Our God specializes in the impossible!

Written by Jamie Shaver

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Don’t Look Back

My 11 yr. old son Tyler has huge dreams when it comes to playing hockey!  Recently, he had 4 days of tryouts which involved a couple rounds of cuts.  He excitedly came home from Day 1 and said “I think I did awesome!”   As a parent, I love the confidence especially because he thanked God for helping him.  Day 2 however, was a different story and Tyler was unsure of how to rate the day.  The crooked smile and eye rolling when asked how he thought he did was a give-away that all was not well, but he finally settled on the fact that he thought it was a “little lower than good but better than ‘iffy’” kind of tryout day.    When there are many other boys that want your spot in a AAA hockey program any day that is just “better than ‘iffy’” is not a good day.  To demonstrate where he thought he was he decided to draw a graph indicating that Monday was “really good,” and Tuesday was somewhere in between “good & iffy!”  (see chart below)

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As he pondered the current state of his performance, he quickly decided to flip over the graph paper and to loudly proclaim “now to predict Wednesday and Thursday!  Really good & really good!”  I also noticed when he flipped the graph over to predict the next 2 days that he never even added the bad, horrible or really bad options that he initially had as options on the front side of the graph.  After he made his predictions, he never flipped that graph over again!  (see graph below).

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I thought of the many times God indicates in Scripture that we are not to look back, but forward. When used in Scripture it is often indicating that when God calls us to something then we must not get distracted and turn/shrink back, or have a divided heart caring for both for the things that God is calling us to or the things of this world.

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  Luke 9:62 ESV

It can be easy to allow past failures to keep us looking back on the past and dwelling on them instead of looking ahead and trusting God for a hopeful future.  Tyler decided to put his faith in who God is and stopped looking at the past, it was a new graph!   Tyler’s final prediction of the exact AAA team he would be placed on (there were 2 options) was incorrect on the graph, but he has faith that the God who made Him has put him exactly where He is supposed to be, so he’s not looking back and rehashing his tryout triumphs or trials but is instead looking forward to the new season God has prepared for him.

What do you need to stop thinking about today?

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,”  Philippians 3:13 ESV

written by Jamie Shaver

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A Quick Lesson From a Boy That Asked

My 14 yr. old son in his own words would describe himself as “cool with a little side of nerd,” as opposed to a “nerd with a little side of cool!” Lol!  He loves technology, computer coding, robotics, 3D printers, the periodic table of elements and other things that give me a headache just thinking about!  It was when we were out together that he learned a valuable lesson and I was reminded of one: The importance of asking specifically for what we want or need.

I was in the middle of planning for a fundraiser and we were looking for signed jerseys from local Pittsburgh professional athletes when Zach & I stopped in to our chiropractor’s office.  While there, I realized that my chiropractor may know some athletes, and the conversation went like this:

Me:  “So I’m planning a fundraiser right now and was wondering if you or anyone you know might have access to any players from any of the Pittsburgh sports teams that may be willing to sign a jersey for a fundraiser?

Hesitating for a moment he answered: “not really, nobody is coming to mind, but let me think about it.”

I determined it was a good time to teach a lesson to my son Zach.

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Me: “Zach, if you feel that you are operating in God’s plan for your life and that you want or need something, you must always be willing to ask specifically for what you need and keep asking until you find it.

Zach laughing says, “ok mom, so will you buy me a new gaming computuer?”  

Me: “No”

Zach: “Awww mom, c’mon you said if I asked I could get what I want…”

Me: “Well it’s not a guarantee that you are going to get what you ask for, but it’s almost a guarantee that you will not get what you don’t ask for!  And when I hear the word no, I just keep on asking and telling people about what it is I’m looking for until I get a yes.”

With a sly smile Zach proceeds to ask our chiropractor who is now busy giving me an adjustment, “Dr. Todd will you buy me a new gaming computer?”

Laughing he says “no, but I can introduce you to a guy that can teach you how to build your own!”

In that moment it was as if the skies had parted and angels were singing!  Zach’s face lit up and he exclaimed “seriously?!”

Now Dr. Todd had no idea that his answer was a far better outcome for Zach who had only asked for someone to purchase him a gaming computer, but ended up with something far greater than he could’ve hoped for or imagined…an opportunity to build his own!  The “nerd” in him was beyond excited and his mind raced with all the possibilities of building his own gaming computer.  

With eyebrows still raised Zach asked “how soon can you get me his number?  That would be amazing if I could learn to do that!  Mom, would you let me do that this summer?”

Me: “Of course!”

We walked out and I was reminded of the verse that says in part “…you have not because you ask not,” and another verse where God says that he “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,” Ephesians 3:20 ESV

That day God surprised Zach when he provided an opportunity that was far greater than what he had orginally asked for!

What do you need to ask for today?

Written by Jamie Shaver

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From Restless to Resting

 Recently my nine-year-old son began to lose a small patch of hair on his head. At first, I wasn’t overly concerned. Perplexed, but not really concerned.  After confirming that he and his sister hadn’t been experimenting with a razor or scissors, we made a trip to our doctor where we learned that Matt has alopecia areata (AA).  AA is a mysterious “disease” where a person loses his or her hair.  The degree of severity is vast, ranging from being confined to a singular patch on the head to total loss of hair over the entire body.  Fortunately, AA isn’t due to poor health nor is it life threatening.  It seems as though the worst part of the disease is the psychological effect it has on the individual losing hair. It has been 2 months since Matt’s initial diagnosis and the patch I initially noticed has now grown to about 5 square inches, and at least 12 other patches have developed.  His case appears to be one that is not of the ‘lesser degree’.

Years ago– before coming to a mature relationship with Christ– I would have flipped out and worried constantly about my little boy.  Thoughts such as, “Why is this happening?  Did he do something to cause this?  Did Ido something to cause this?  What if kids begin to mock him? What will people think about me as a mother for allowing it to happen?” would have plagued me. I not only would have tormented myself with unending questions, but I am sure I’d have had countless sleepless nights and many a  “drink” to calm me down. BUT because God entered into my life and has radically transformed it, that is not my response today. I now have such freedom in knowing that I can cast all my cares and fears on God (1st Peter 5:7), which has allowed me to keep calm in the midst of this situation, and to truly experience peace in knowing that everything is going to be ok because God is in control, regardless of the severity of his condition. I know it isn’t in my power to control the situation; I can’t heal Matt. But I can choose how I will respond to the situation: whether I will spend useless, destructive time worrying and fretting over something I can’t control, or whether I will put my confidence in God, Who is in control and Who  knows what’s best for Matt and loves him the most!

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As I have ‘cast my fears on God’— turned them all over to His most capable and loving hands, He has reminded me that He is the Creator of all things.  He not only created my precious little boy, but He also created me and gave me the gift of being his mother.  God entrusted me with the responsibility and privilege of raising Matt, and although Matt’s bout with AA was a surprise to me, it is no surprise to Him. I am confident that God will guide my husband and me, grant us His wisdom, and give us everything we need to come alongside Matt and to encourage him through this situation. Most of all, I know that we are not going through this situation alone; God is present with us every step of the way and He will not forsake us. As I realized these truths, it was as if The Lord gave me a big, warm hug!    

My faith in Christ grows daily as He constantly reveals Himself to me through scripture and prayer, and through the awareness of His abiding presence with me (Isaiah 41:10). It has been His strength at work in me that has carried me through many times of uncertainty in the past.  He has always been faithful to give me the peace I desperately need; I have no doubt that he will continue to be faithful and to deliver me from any fears that may arise in the future about Matt’s condition.  Of course I would love to say I could pray this whole thing away, but that isn’t always how it works.  God has a plan for our sweet boy and this disease is apparently part of it. I believe that God is able to work ALL things–which includes Matt’s disease–for Matt’s good and for the glory of God (Romans 8:28). Whatever may happen in the future regarding his condition, I will continue to trust our Heavenly Father and to seek His guidance and peace, resting in His love, His faithfulness, and His goodness.

Written by guest blogger Gina Ermiger

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