I was needing one more devotional for the month, so I am going to close out the month by sharing God’s “Portrait of Grace” in my life. We have a lot of new ones who have joined us this past month and there may be many others who have not heard this story of grace yet.
I grew up in Alaska as a missionary/pastor’s daughter. I went off to Bible College at Bob Jones University at the age of 17. The 2nd semester of my sophomore year I was experiencing some back discomfort. I had gone to a chiropractor before at home, so when my parent’s came to visit that spring, they took me. Come to find out, that back discomfort was coming from having a massive ovarian tumor. It was so large that it was pushing all of my organs out of the way and was pressing up against my aorta. The doctors felt like it was something that needed to be dealt with right away, so surgery was set up … for Friday, the 13th! All went well during the surgery. They were able to completely remove the tumor. The doctor predicted it to be the size of a 6 month fetus. I do not remember them saying for sure after the surgery, but I do know that I immediately lost 20 pounds!
This really was a turning point in my spiritual life. It was definitely a time of growing and trusting God. It was then that I started a spiritual journal with scripture that God gave me and other thoughts that strengthened and encouraged me at that time. With each entry I made, I would date it. The following year, I was going back through my journal and I noticed the date that I found out that I had that massive tumor. It was March 6. My mind then began to calculate 365 days later … again on March 6 … what took place. It was exactly one year to the date later that I met my husband! It was like God was reassuring me that even though I had gone through a sad time, He had not forgotten me and had blessed me with a happy time on that 1 year anniversary.
When the doctors did the surgery, they told me that I may have a problem getting pregnant because of scar tissue that I had from an appendectomy at age 13. After I married, we did not try to start a family right away. But, when we did, I visited the doctor to test to see if there would be a problem. There was a slight problem, which actually turned into a major problem because my tube got infected and ruptured after the test.
It was very disappointing to be told that I would never physically be capable of conceiving a child naturally. But, God gave us grace and unbelievable peace that if He wanted us to have a child, He would provide. He did! Just barely a year later (I should go back and check those dates), we were put in contact with a young woman who was considering putting her baby up for adoption upon birth.
To make a long story short, God blessed us with that baby girl! We got to see her and hold her in our arms for the very first time when she was 10 days old. She stole our hearts and the hearts of our family! I do not have the space to share all the details and miracles that God performed for this blessing to happen to us, but be assured that God’s grace is as mighty as God Himself! So, my friend, rest in His grace!
We have not seen our daughter’s birth mom since then. But, for Mother’s Day this year (24 years later), I wanted to express my gratitude to her for sharing her beautiful daughter with us. So with my friend Debbi’s help, we have written a poem entitled A Tale of Two Mothers.
My name is Darlene Fanning and my family has been missionaries in Bolivia, South America, since 1999. We lived in Bolivia for 14 years, raising our three children there. My husband is now also the Latin and South American director for Anchor Baptist Missions International, with Bolivia being our main focus. So we do a lot of traveling back and forth.
I CAN TRUST JESUS
A few months ago, I did a ladies meeting where the theme was “Stand in Awe…….Be Amazed.” So I started thinking of all the blessings that I have stood in awe of and have been amazed at how the Lord worked in them. I decided to look the word “Awe” up. I was surprised to find that the word awe can be used for fear and wonder. So then I started to think of the difficult times that I have faced that have made me stand in awe in fear! Of course, the one that came to my mind was….sitting in a doctor’s office in Bolivia, hearing the words, “I’m sorry you have malignant breast cancer. You need to get to the United States quickly because I’m afraid it has already spread.”
It’s one of those moments you see your whole life pass in front of your eyes in a matter of seconds. That moment you feel as if you have been kicked in the stomach and the air you breathe is gone. It seemed the next few days were filled with phone calls to the states, travel arrangements, Dr. appointments, scans, and telling our family. Standing in awe with fear of what was to come but being amazed at how God already knew the outcome and knowing that HE had a plan.
In the early morning after hearing those fearful words, the Lord woke me up. I’m not sure I had really been asleep. My husband also was awake and we just talked a little bit about everything and cried and prayed. And then our Lord so graciously, put the words to the song by the Collingsworth family, I Can Trust Jesus, in my heart. The words gave such peace that I can’t explain. We listened to the song over and over, as our wonderful Savior ministered to my heart.
The next year was filled with surgeries, chemo, radiation, and so much more. But God!! God gave that peace that passeth all understanding. Philippians 4:7 After finishing chemo and radiation, we returned to Bolivia, praying that life would go back to normal. Within six months another spot had come up and the doctor there feared the worst and thought I should get it checked in the states. Returning to the states was again a standing in awe moment. After having it removed and a complete hysterectomy they found yet another spot. My oncologist was confused at what was going on and no explanation why tumors kept coming up. So thankful they were all pre-cancerous!
If I learned anything thru my cancer journey, it is that I can trust Jesus and you can too. No matter what you are facing, His love and care is so evident. It would take a book to tell about all the things HE has done and is still doing with my life through this. Sometimes we think we are trusting Him, when really we are still trying to hold on to the steering wheel.
When I found my life was completely out of my control, and there was absolutely nothing that I could do; it was then, I found that I could trust Jesus with my greatest fear!!! The peace I found in Him by trusting Him gave such comfort, just knowing, no matter the outcome, HE had this all under control!! The song says it best, “I can trust Jesus, He never once has failed to meet my needs. He is my strong tower the strength in my weakest hour I can trust Jesus, He takes care of me!!“
“It is of the LORD’s Mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every MORNING; great is thy faithfulness.”
I’ve always loved this part of scripture and the verses leading up to it as well. As someone who was saved at the young age of seven and have come from a Christian family, my dad being a pastor then missionary in Mexico City, it’s so important to remember that it’s only by HIS grace that we are serving where we are, have the family that we have and are able to enjoy His faithful to us.
My husband, David and I are serving in Argentina with our beautiful little girls. ( Ingrid Giselle & Zoey Lucina) We have almost been here two years (that went by fast) and, by the Lord’s grace, have started New Hope Baptist Church a little over six months ago. As Ingrid says (she’s three), “the baby church” and it’s true, we have a church of brand new Christians and it’s such a joy to watch them grow in Christ.
Though we have not been on the field for that long we have had many trials. I’ve experienced a twin pregnancy that became quite uncomfortable toward the end (having no A/C and reaching 106) to a dramatic birth experience on the field. I felt as if I had been stretched and tested in ways I did not think were possible, but God was not done. A month later the Lord took our little perfect Dominic home to be with Him. The hardest day of our lives.
One month later David’s Mom was diagnosed with cancer and passed away two months later. I can honestly say we felt like Paul when he wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed, we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.“
It’s a very dark time while in the middle of a trial but clinging to the hope that “His mercies are new every morning” and that it is truly “only His GRACE that is keeping us” helps to ease some of the pain.
Maybe you are going through a time of grief, sadness loneliness or maybe you’ve just had a rough day parenting. The Lord gives us a beautiful promise in Psalms 30:5b “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” That night might be a literal rough night of motherhood or it might be a tough season we will have to go through, but we know that this is true, He will bring JOY. The Lord, through it all, will show Himself strong through blessing and trials. Our simple prayer should be to continue to be faithful.
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling
of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
II Corinthians 12:9a “And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
“Grace in Infertility”
My name is Skyla Kristine Gwyn. I am 29 years old. I gave my life to the Lord as a young teen and surrendered my life to His service. He blessed me with a wonderful husband 10 years ago. God in his time has also blessed our home with children, but I will save those details for later.
The apostle Paul spoke of God’s grace being perfected in our weakness and infirmities. I’m certain the details of Paul’s life did not go the way he had planned yet he pinned the words to II Corinthians 12:9 and Romans 8:28.
From the time Luke and I married we asked God for children. I imagined little versions of us running through our home. But months of waiting quickly turned to years. In my weakness, I grieved every pregnancy announcement and baby shower invite. The doctors never had any answers for why it wasn’t happening. It was truly out of our hands and in God’s. I struggled to understand what God had planned for us. Many sleepless nights of crying and praying seemed to lead to no answer, but God was there the whole time with His sufficient grace, helping me through my time of weakness.
After five years God led us into foster care. We had 11 different children pass through our home, one of which was a 4-week old baby boy who we loved for a year before he returned home to his biological family. More heartbreak, bitterness knocking on my heart, God once again stepped in with sufficient grace. We decided to give foster care one last try. The call came and three siblings ages 1, 3, and 5 were dropped off at our door. We were told we would have them two weeks at the most, but God and His sufficient grace had other plans for us and them!!! Two years later we stood before a judge and became a family officially! All of a sudden it became clear that all the struggles we had gone through was God’s way of showing His grace to these three little souls. If we had not struggled with infertility, we never would have entered into foster care, If we had not dealt with the losses of other children who had better family situations to go home to, we would have never met our three children. God knew what He was doing the whole time. He gave us grace through every step, knowing that He was working it all for our good.
Just when I think God has shown all the Grace he has for me, he pours more and more on our lives. This past December I took a trip to urgent care for suspected flu that I will never forget. God’s grace was so real again, as the nurse said, “ Ma’am both pregnancy tests were positive!” In a few more weeks we will meet our sweet baby boy. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!! This is the portrait of God’s grace in my personal life. He has a beautiful one to paint in yours too!
With Trina’s permission, I am posting this from her Facebook post: I don’t usually post our personal life like this but it’s been on my heart and I felt the need to share. If I can help one person, then I’ll know my struggles have a purpose! Bear with me….Here we go: I had a lot of medical issues after having Aria. I had endometriosis and after surgery the pain came right back. My doctor suggested “shutting me down” and putting me through early menopause. With that came a lot of side affects. Weight gain, change of texture of hair, mood swings, etc. After 4 months of being in early menopause, I started feeling weird so the doctor took me off the meds.
The doctor said the next thing to help me with my endometriosis would be to try to get pregnant! My husband and I were ok with that but didn’t expect it to happen as fast as it did. We found out really early that I was pregnant. I had blood work to check my levels to make sure they were elevating, in which they were. I was very nauseous and very sick. April 25th I went in for my first ultrasound. My husband was out of town with military stuff, so I told him to keep his phone close by. The dreaded three words came out of the tech’s mouth “there’s no heartbeat.” I was in shock at first because I had no signs of this miscarriage. I’ve had a miscarriage before so I knew the signs to look for, but I had NONE of that.
The technician then explained to me that I was supposed to be 9 weeks 2 days but the fetus was only measuring 6 weeks and 1 day. I then lost it. Our 2-year-old daughter was in the room with me. How am I suppose to tell her that her “sister” had no heartbeat? She was so excited for a “baby sister.” She hugged me and said “mommy don’t feel good.” I left it at that. I’ll explain to her later. Now I had to call my husband. How was I supposed to hold it together to tell him such bad news? We didn’t even have each other to physically lean on because he was out of town. That was a hard phone call to make, but we survived.
I went in to talk to the doctor (who was so nice and showed so much empathy). Because I didn’t have any signs of a miscarriage, he wanted to give me another week to see if I would miscarry naturally. A week later, still no symptoms of a miscarriage, so I went back in for another ultrasound. Thankfully my husband was back and he could be there. We heard the three dreaded words again “there’s no heartbeat.“ The baby had not grown plus this tech showed us how there was no blood flow to the sac. At this point, the doctor gave us 3 options to miscarry. We chose an option, but the first attempt didn’t work so I had to do it again. It was emotionally and mentally so hard!
Through this whole process, I’ve tried to not question God because God has a plan for us all. He knows the ending. But as a human, I’ve been trying to figure it all out, but that’s been putting more of a stress on myself. I’ve put the guilt on myself questioning, “What did I do?” “Was there something wrong with the baby?” “Is something wrong with me?” “Am I not capable or strong enough for two kids?” “Am I not doing what God wants me to do?” This is where the devil has attacked me and gotten in my head, gotten in our marriage by trying to get me to lean on him instead of the One that I’m supposed to.
I didn’t share this story for sympathy. I don’t know who needs to read this but the devil attacks the ones he knows are growing closer to God. I’m not sure why we had to experience what we’ve been through but this is our story. Maybe someone else is going through the exact same thing and needs to know they are not alone. Whether it be a miscarriage, infertility, whatever it may be!!!! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!
To say this has been easy and that my faith has been so strong would be a lie. There have been a lot of weak moments for me the past couple of weeks. I do want to say thank you for the ones who have reached out to us and who have prayed for us!
I want to end this on a positive to show you where I am right now. Through all this, it has been a rollercoaster of emotions, of pain, of frustration, of sadness, and of anger. But at the end of the day, we have a beautiful daughter who God has blessed us with. He gave her to me when I didn’t want a child. He knew the puzzle piece that was missing in mine and my husband’s life. Although my heart breaks because I won’t be able to hold our daughter’s “sister” in November, I am forever grateful that God allowed our daughter in my arms the past two years. God continues to touch our lives! Our story isn’t over yet. Move over, devil, you didn’t win this one!!
It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all today! Thank you, Mrs. Bettina, for this opportunity. My name is Sheila Velez. My husband and I have been in the same church, which he now pastors, for the last 28 years. The Lord has blessed us with 3 children, and although we have failed him, He has never failed us!
Today I would like to share a little of my testimony in hopes that it will be of help to some of you out there. My husband and I were married in 1994, and in 2003 we found out that we were expecting our third child. What excitement! The first three months, all went well. Our little one was growing and weaving herself into our hearts. At four months, tragedy stuck my life. My grandfather passed away. He was one of my favorite people, and I didn’t want to miss his funeral, so I quickly made an appointment the next day with the doctor to get the okay to make the trip. The technician did her routine ultrasound, and then called the PA. After a few minutes, they called the doctor. I was frustrated and confused. Didn’t they know that I was in a hurry to get on the road! As the doctor reviewed the ultrasound, she looked at me and says, “We’re going to hospitalize you. There is no fluid in your sac, and everything is in tact. Something isn’t right, so I need to run some tests.” My frustration level soared! My thoughts were… “Just give me an IV of fluids and send me on my way!
Needless to say, I didn’t make the trip. Little did I know that I was in for a God sent life lesson. Three days after I was admitted, the doctor came in and let us know our baby had cystic kidneys. We were told that more than likely we would miscarry. I was devastated! “How God?! How can this happen to me?! You know that I want to raise this baby for You! How is it that children are born every day to parents who have no intention of raising them for the You, yet You take mine?” These are the conversations that I had with God. I am not proud of this, but I want to be honest. This was my attitude until one day during a message, the preacher read this verse – “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Honestly, I don’t know what the message was about that night, but God used this verse to give me an attitude adjustment. As I read, God seemed to speak in my ear with a firm voice as a father would as he corrects his child. He said, “Who do you think you are to tell me what to do with my own creation? Your baby is mine and was created by me and for me. Her life will be for my glory!” Right there…God gave me peace! A peace I hadn’t had. He didn’t whisper in my ear, “Your baby will be healed.”…but…He did tell me, “I’m in control, and everything is going to be ok.” That night I slept like a baby…finally resting in Him!
Needless to say, I didn’t have a miscarriage. At 8 months, my doctor induced labor, and on February 23, 2004, a very light skinned, red-headed little girl named Grace was born. After giving her a kiss, she was rushed to the NICU. Our church heard the news and all rushed to the hospital. We told the NICU that we had a very large family, and they allowed them in two by two. As our Brothers and Sisters in Christ patiently waited, they shared God’s love with others in the waiting room, and 5 precious souls were saved! Although our precious Grace visited us for only 16 hours, the lives she touched is eternal! Through this, I learned His ways are perfect! She will never know the pain of this sinful world, for she was raised in a Heavenly world by her Heavenly Father. She cannot come to us, but by God’s grace, we shall see her again! I encourage you today, to stop questioning His sovereignty and Trust Him! May you have a blessed day!
Hi Everyone. My name is Grecia Guel. I was born and raised in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. I was saved at the age of 8 when we had a mini-camp from our Christian School. God granted my wish to go to a Christian College in America, and when I was 19 I went off to study at Golden State Baptist College. I graduated a few years ago and came back home to serve and learn at my church. I´ve had the privilege of teaching in our Christian School, our Bible College, and our church´s and children´s choir. I get the privilege of working with amazing people and learn from them. It´s my desire to increase our faith, trust, and dependence on the Lord, and what better way to do it than by encouraging ourselves through these testimonies and devotionals. Hope its a blessing to you! God bless you! Your Sister in Christ, Grecia Guel
“… for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5
Remember how in my little bio I said God granted my wish of going off to Bible College in America? Well, that was just the beggining of one of my biggest adventures in which I got to see the very hand of God. When I was 8 years old a group from America came to my church and they sang beautifully, I turned, looked over at my Mom and said: “Mom, when I grow up I will study in America.“
If I go into all the details I would probably bore all of you, but just to name a few things: My parents got their visas 30 minutes before we were supposed to be at the airport to take the plane. Let´s just say it was a very hectic drive and arrival.
Getting to college was definitely a life-changing experience. It was my first time being away from home for a long period of time, separated from my family, my first time in a foreign country, my first time speaking a different language and of course my first time in college.
I remember the first night I slept in the college dorms, I felt so alone and I thought to myself : What were you thinking, Grecia? How did you ever thought you were capable to come all this way and be by yourself? Then a voice that said: “Never alone, you are never alone.”
When the time for papers and projects came around, all of mine were returned because they were unreadible and pretty much without any logic, so again, I prayed: “Lord, help me.” Across from where I lived there was a girl that was an English major, and one of their projects for their semester was to tutor someone that struggled in English and help them with their projects. I couldn´t believe it. There was the Lord again, watching always over me and saying, “You´re not alone.”
There were several times where I didn´t even have a quarter or a penny in my wallet and there was always someone that would say, “Do you wanna come over to my house to eat with our family? Oh, and bring your laundry!” Again, never alone.
I specifically remember one semester where I thought I was not going to be able to go back because we couldn´t afford it, and how I got a special permit and I was able to work on campus. Also, another time that we were short on money and one of my dad´s friend called and said: ‘Grecia, my wife and I paid for the rest of your tuition for the semester.” You aren´t alone.
I have literally hundreds of stories that back up the wonderful and merciful sustaining grace of God, and although the blessing were huge and the miracles enormous, the biggest blessing amongst everything that I experienced was, to see how God answered my prayers. I learnt how personal and intimate God is. I had gone to church my entire life, and I knew God did great things and answered prayers, but this time, He answered my prayers. He did great things for me. After seeing over and over again that the Old Promise I will never leave you nor forsake you is, was and will be forever true, the only thing I can do is to reciprocate His faithfulness by being faithful and to pay back his undeserving mercy by honoring and serving Him for the rest of my days.
It is easy to determine in your heart to honor the Lord when you look at your life and you understand that without His faithful grace we would not be here.
My name is Yolanda Villazana. My husband, Sergio Villazana, is the pastor of Iglesia Bautista Palabra de Vida in Easley S.C. We have one daughter, Emily, who is one of the greatest blessings God has given us. She is always ready to jump in and help in any area of the ministry. We have served here at the church for twenty years now and am so thankful for what He has done and am looking forward to what the future holds! God bless!
As I was reading my Bible this morning, the Lord gave me a verse that spoke to me so sweetly. “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” 1 Corinthians 12:18 He has set me where He wants me in the greatly loved body of Christ, but that is not all, it hath pleased Him to do so! I feel so honored… how is it that I…being just me, am here serving my King? I will never understand it all but He chose me and I will serve, during the mountain tops and also during those dark valleys. It is specifically through those dark valleys that He shows His sustaining grace in the place where He was pleased to set me. There have been many, many, valleys in my life but God in His divine wisdom knew that it was the only way for me to grow.
When I was a little girl I was well aware of the trials those around me had been through. My very wise Mother taught us to walk carefully, that a wise person learned from the mistakes of others. I remember that I used to pray the Lord would help me learn without going through a trial, hoping I could avoid the heartache, but it is not possible. We must go through trials in order to grow. In James, He told us of the great result of the trying of our faith.
“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:3-4 KJV
In Romans, He also tells us the important result of tribulations in our lives: “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5:2-5 KJV
There will be times in our lives when we will have people we love and serve be the very ones to cause those tribulations. It hurts but we must remember that He placed us where we are because He was pleased to and I must do my Fathers will. He will deal with them, I hurt for them because I love them, I feel the pain of broken fellowship, but my Lord, went through so much more hurt, pain and rejection, how can I expect better.
I am an imperfect vessel, trying every day to be more like Him, to love like Him and forgive like Him, but I fall so short. So, I will rest in the fact, no, I will rejoice in the fact that it pleased Him to set me here, where I am. I will continue to strive to do my best with elegance, grace, and wisdom because I am representing a sweet little church at the bottom of a hill, and I am representing a kingdom greater than any other, for mine is a heavenly kingdom and my King, the Creator of the universe.
I find it so amazing that He chose me, and even more amazing are the promises that He will equip me, will never leave me, and He so lovingly sustains me, by His grace. How great and kind and loving is the God I serve, my God, my Father and dearest Friend.
A portrait is defined as “a verbal picture or description, usually of a person.” Grace in the dictionary means “a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior.” For the child of God, our earthly life is full of these “pictures” reminding us of God’s goodness.
Most importantly would be the portrait of grace in salvation. Knowing we could do nothing to merit forgiveness for sin, Christ willingly gave His own life in exchange for ours so that we could escape eternal punishment and spiritual death. There is no greater love than the love our Heavenly Father has for His children and that is shown in the perfect portrait of Calvary.
After salvation, we often forget how much we need the Lord and how He desires fellowship with His child. When these times come, He sends reminders our way to humble us and teach us to look toward Him again. I was reminded of this just this past week in a situation with my brother, David. David is 28 years old and mentally disabled. My husband and I took over his care after the unexpected passing of my parents two years ago. David was very close to my mom and was unhappy anytime she wasn’t around. Since I have taken over the role as mother-figure, he is the same way with me now.
This particular day last week I had to run a quick errand. As always, David asked to ride with me and I said, “Just let me run by myself. I’ll be right back.” Those quick retreats are often the only quiet times I can get and sometimes I just like to sneak away and clear my mind. However, David insisted and I complied. Sometimes you just have to pick your battles.
I glared out the windshield, wishing for my alone time that never came. All of a sudden, David reached up and rubbed the back of my hand. I looked at him, with those big, brown eyes and that loving grin and realized he just wanted to be with me. He didn’t want to go anywhere. We didn’t even have to do anything fun. He just wanted to be where I was. Instantly the Lord pricked my heart. I thought, “How many times has the Lord looked my way and nudged my heart to spend time with Him for just a few minutes?” How many times have I chosen my own desires and been too busy to stop and look back His way?
1 Corinthians 1:9 “God is faithful, by whom ye were called
unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Not only does He desire our fellowship, but we are also called to fellowship with Him. This fellowship is necessary to have unity with our Savior. We must make this a priority in the midst of the craziness of our day. Look forward to the times that He may summons you. Always be ready to sneak away and commune with Him for just a moment.
Time after time our Lord will use different situations to humble us. In the same way that we would display portraits of loved ones throughout our home, our hearts should contain portraits of His grace reminding us that we are so loved by Him. Let’s take time to venture through the hallway of our heart and remember the moments that those portraits represent.