Portraits of Grace – Bettina Shue

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.

Portraits of Grace – Darlene Fanning

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.


     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!!“

Portraits of Grace – Hannah Owens

“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.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

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

Portraits of Grace – Chastity Whittemore

      I came to know the Lord as a teenager, and have been pastor’s wife over twenty years; currently serving in Watertown, SD as a missionary/church planter. God has placed a love in my heart for the bus ministry. I am thankful to have some precious “sheep” that I have the privilege of investing in their life in our ladies ministry, and enjoy playing the piano for our church services. I also work in our church radio ministry, KPGT, and you can listen on thetruthfm.org. In addition to being busy with the ministry, I am also a cosmetologist and own a small salon.

      “Quit” is not in my vocabulary; I’m too stubborn for that. Have you ever went through a trial, and heard people say, “Don’t quit?” I wonder if they see me standing on the edge, about to jump, and in some feeble attempt of not knowing what to say, they yell,

“Don’t Quit! Don’t give up!”

      Why do people quit? Probably the number one reason is being hurt. If you are in any type of ministry, sadly, the first thing you learn is people hurt people. While it may be unintentional sometimes, it happens. Often, it is temporary, and we do a quick “I’m sorry,” and normal life resumes. But, sometimes the hurt is so deep, the questions of “why” flood our hearts and minds, and we begin to question the motives of every person around us. Our eyes jerk quickly back and forth in every direction as we try to anticipate the enemies next move. Then suddenly from a corner you thought was safe, POUNCE, the enemy strikes again! I consider it to a form of PTSD. Small things trigger that automatic response and we are so frantically into “protective mode” that we miss what the Lord has for us at that moment.

      Our circumstances didn’t take God by surprise! Our frustration, fear and failure of handling the situation only sends us into a spiral because we tried to handle it. I find myself praying, “Lord, give me grace to deal with the one who hurt me next time I see them in the grocery store. Lord, help me not to ‘go off’ on them.” I should be praying, “Lord, they hurt me. That wound is real, open and tender. Help me to love them like you love them.” I can’t say I am there, but I want to be. Through it all, I know all is well in my Lord’s hands, and I don’t feel the need to retaliate and handle matters myself. God’s grace did that work of forgiveness in our lives. We’ve hurt God, disappointed Him, and brought shame to His name. Yet, every time we come to Him broken, embarrassed, humbled, and even reluctantly, God gives grace and remembers our offense no more. God, help us to follow His example and “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14) God has a place for you to be in life, and that place is not reached by quitting.

      Next time you are at the grocery store, confronted with the ones who hurt you, and even if the look in their eyes tells you they would do it again, smile and keep going on to aisle number five. (I hear there is a sale on chocolate there!) And, there is nothing sweeter than resting in the promises that God will keep you and give you grace to help you through the next trial.

Chastity Whittemore ~ Watertown, SD