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Jimmy lived most of life questioning why his dad left him at such a young age. But he was convicted and compelled by the gospel to love and pursue his estranged father in an effort to extend forgiveness and reconciliation.

A Father’s Love

My parents went to church, and my grandpa was the pastor of our church back home. During one of the mid-week services, my grandpa was up preaching and he asked the congregation, “If you died tonight, where would you lift your eyes up?”

And I started asking myself that same question. God started showing me how much of a sinner I actually was. He showed me, in a small way, my own depravity and my need for Him. I remember crying out to Him, “God, I want you to save me!”

Right then and there, He called me by name and He saved my soul.

After that, a really sweet thing took place (I call it sweet now, but it didn’t seem sweet at the time)…

A couple days later was a Sunday. My mom, my sister and my grandmother decided to go to the mall. Then, at the last second, I decided not to go with them. They came back later, and I remember looking out and seeing my mom crying in the back seat of the car. Then, I saw my grandma crying, and my sister crying.

My grandma walked up to me and told me that they had all caught my dad cheating on my mom with another woman at the mall.

I remember being so angry at that moment that I wanted to punch a hole through the light post that was standing next to me.

But then, in that same moment, I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that I’m different. I’m changed. I’m saved. And I actually need to forgive my dad.

But that just wrecked me! At the same time, I was so angry at my dad! I didn’t want to forgive him. He hurt my mom!

Still, at that moment, I realized that I needed to forgive him.

A little while later, he came back to the house. My mom and dad were arguing – screaming pretty loud. The only thing I could think to do was to pray.

I really wanted my dad to leave. I just didn’t want them to argue any more about this situation.

I mean… I was just in the sixth grade!

So, I ran to my bed and prayed. I asked God to just make him leave. Then I heard my doorknob turn and my bedroom door crack open. I heard my dad’s footsteps come through my door. The only thing I could think to do was to scream, “Daddy!”

He looked at me and the only thing I could say was, “Daddy, I love you.”

I said those words, and my own flesh and blood—my dad— looked me right square in the eyes, and just turned and walked out the house. He didn’t say a word.

That just broke my heart. I began to weep.

But, then God reminded me that I didn’t need my dad’s love.

I am loved by my Heavenly Father!

And that was all I needed.

All the way through high school, I continued to pray for my dad. When I got to college, I just stopped caring. In fact, I stopped praying about it.

I met a young man, who was in choir with me, and he asked me about my testimony. After I finished telling him my story, he asked me, “When was the last time you prayed for your dad? Actually, when was the last time you prayed for y’all’s relationship?”

I just sat back and said, “It’s been a long time.”

So, I went back to my dorm and said, “OK, Lord… I want to start praying for my and my dad’s relationship. I know it’s not good right now, and I want it to change. I want to know my dad more.”

After that, I began to call my dad. I’d call him almost every day. Many times, he didn’t answer the phone. And many times, he didn’t call me back. And there were many times when he would talk with me. And at the end of the call, I would say, “Alright Daddy… I love you.” And he wouldn’t say a thing. He’d just hang up the phone.

This happened for many years. But, I continued to pray for him and pursue him. I just kept running after him.

I actually wrote a couple songs about how I felt during that time, and how my mom felt, too. And, at one point, I actually sang one of the songs to him. I could hear my dad crying on the other end. I could feel the hurt within him. He began to repent to me. He said, “Son, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the things that I’ve done.”A Father’s Love

When we were saying goodbye, I said, “Daddy, I love you.”

And he actually said, “I love you”, back to me.

It touched my heart so much to hear those words.

And after that night, he actually started calling me! He was calling me even more often than I was calling him. He even would tell me he loved me without me saying it at all.

I look at all this, and I can clearly see how God has reconciled our relationship, and I see the Gospel in that.

I can see, through this story, how Christ has continually pursued me.

Oddly enough, I’m glad that all this stuff happened. Because, if this hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be the man who I am today. I would not know Jesus as well as I know Him if my dad had not done the things that he did. The times when my dad wasn’t there, I learned that my Heavenly Father was always there. He would always provide when my dad wouldn’t provide for me. When I needed somebody to tell me that he loved me, my Heavenly Father would show me how much He loved me in so many different ways!

At one point, I called my dad and said, “Daddy, I don’t want you to say a word. I’ve just got some things that I need to tell you. God has used you in a great way – to push me to want to know Him more. And, I’m closer to God because of you.”

The next day, my dad called me, and said, “Okay… it’s my turn. Let me tell you something, and I don’t want you to say a word…”

And he went on to say things that I had never heard him say before. He told me how proud he was of me. He told me how I pushed him closer to God.

I see now how God has used me to display, in a way, a part of the Gospel in my dad’s life.

Reconciliation.

I’m thankful that God has reconciled our relationship. And to this day, me and my dad are really close. I look forward to the day when he calls me to tell me that he is saved, and I’m not going to stop praying for that!

I want God to call him by name.

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Faith on Amen Corner

After the last neighbor left, Debbie softly closed the front door. Eyes wide and hands covering her mouth, she turned to her husband and gasped, “Did you see that? Bobby, did you see that?” 

Bobby couldn’t utter a word. Half stuttering, he said, “That had to be the Holy Spirit. It had to be.” 

Bobby and Debbie Kopetsky marveled over the happenings of that night for hours. It was only the third time their neighbors came over to talk about God, and faith was already stirring inside everyone in the group. Faith on Amen Corner

Fifteen years earlier, the Kopetskys moved into their redbrick home on Amen Corner Road in Pflugerville, Texas. They smiled and kindly waved at their neighbors on their frequent walks, and Bobby chatted with the men at the neighborhood golf course. The interactions were brief––surface level at best. “You could recognize one another in the grocery store, but you wouldn’t know anything about their life,” Debbie explains.

In August of 2013, Bobby and Debbie heard about “Explore God,” a 7-week study series for churches, small groups, and anyone who had questions about faith and God.

The Kopetskys looked at each other, their faces saying it all: We have to do this in our neighborhood. “It was the Holy Spirit moving in us. God gave us the idea. He gets all the credit,” Bobby says.

A few weeks later, Bobby and Debbie laced up their shoes and went door-to-door on Amen Corner Road. They invited their neighbors over for dinner to explore those hard questions about God––something that neither of them, in over 30 years of being Christians, had ever done before. “We thought to ourselves, If we don’t make disciples now, when will we do it? Debbie says.

Bobby held Debbie’s hand and took a step onto the first front porch. He glanced down the block as he said, “God, it’s all Yours.”

“Our invitation was simple,” Debbie remembers. “I just asked them if they wanted to come over for fajitas and have a conversation about God.” Some neighbors didn’t make eye contact, some said they weren’t interested in faith conversations, and some didn’t open their doors. But some were excited. Some were intrigued. Some were searching.

A total of nine neighbors showed up on the first night. “We were excited about what God was going to do,” says Debbie. As they looked around the circle of neighbors, Bobby and Debbie sensed that everyone was eager to learn more about God. But when the conversations started, it was clear that not everyone believed God is real, that He is good, or that Jesus is their hope.

In fact, some of their neighbors had never opened a Bible before. One neighbor lost his parents at an early age and blamed God. Another neighbor was raised to hate Christianity. “There were a few who had some biblical background, but they didn’t really follow through. It was like they believed Jesus, but was Jesus their Savior? They didn’t know that. They couldn’t tell you that,” Debbie says.

For the next seven weeks, the group continued their discussions, despite the discomfort and doubt. As leaders, Bobby and Debbie didn’t always have all the answers, but God kept bringing the neighbors back each week. “It’s just about being obedient to what God is calling you to do. You don’t have to have all the answers,” Debbie explains.

On the last night of the study, the group aimed to answer the question “Why does God allow pain and suffering?” One by one, everyone shared their experience with suffering.  A father had passed when one neighbor was only eight years old. Another neighbor’s mother gave her up for adoption after two weeks. It was a circle of brokenness and pain.

But there was a problem—an unspoken assumption: Bobby and Debbie seemed to have it all together. It appeared as though the Kopetskys never experienced real suffering.

After all had shared, Debbie knew she, too, must break down the barrier and open up about her own pain. Debbie slowly gazed around the circle. “I was widowed when I was 32. I had three children,” she said, her voice catching in her throat. The room went completely silent. Wiping the stream of tears from her face, Debbie continued, “To this day, I don’t know why. Why did my children have to suffer? I don’t know. How was that in God’s plan? I don’t know.” 

From there, Debbie and Bobby told the story of their marriage. They met over 25 years ago, when the boys were still in elementary school. In that moment, the group saw that Debbie and Bobby’s faith wasn’t built on a life of smooth sailing. By God’s design, their lives stood on a solid rock—on something bigger. Someone stronger. Everyone was pointed to Jesus that night.

The study series was nearly over, but no one was ready to end the Sunday night gatherings on Amen Corner Road that brought everyone so close together. “You know, we only have two more weeks to go. What are we going to do now?” asked Katie, one of the members. Her husband, Chris, replied, “Let’s study a book of the Bible, and let’s do homework!”

So, they did just that.

Over time, Debbie became familiar with the eyes-wide, hands-covering-her-mouth routine. She was in awe. God was stirring faith in her neighbors.

Now, two years after their first meeting, the group continues to gather regularly for dinner and time in the Word. What started out as a group of nine neighbors has grown to 15 today. “They say Jesus is their Savior,” Debbie shares.

Bobby adds, “One of the men in our group is a lifeguard. When he’s not busy, he’s doing his homework for our study. He even invited a couple to join us!” 

One woman in the group confessed that the Word of God has restored her relationship with her daughter. Another neighbor said the group is like a family to them. “Now, they pray. They all pray,” Bobby adds, beaming.

And they love one another. In October 2015, Bobby and Debbie got a call that changed their lives forever. Their middle son, Tyler, suddenly passed away. “We were devastated,” Debbie remembers. “Our group was devastated right along with us. They cried with us, and they came over. They were all at the services. They all came to the house. They were at our side.”

“We know that we should let our light shine,” Bobby says, “because God says that we will have pain and suffering in this life. And we know from Scripture that we should use this to glorify Him, so that’s what we want to do.”

Chris, who once said he only believed about 80% of the Bible, says he now believes in it 100% after seeing God’s goodness in the Kopetskys’ loss of Tyler.

“This is the sweetest, sweetest, sweetest…” Debbie pauses to catch her breath through the tears. “This is the most incredible thing that God has ever let us be a part of.” 

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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“Are your ears burnin?”

Aaron and Shauna Mullins’ former caseworker called with news that had their hearts skipping beats yet again. The birth mother of their three adopted children was pregnant again, and Child Protective Services knew about it. Due to the birth mom’s history, the state planned to remove the baby when it was born and the ideal placement was with their family.

Shauna called Aaron at work to tell him the news. “Hey! There’s gonna be another baby.”

Aaron was silent for a moment. “This is probably not a good time,” he said.

Her excitement and his reluctance were no real surprise to either of them. When they had brought Lexi home from the hospital at three days old, Shauna learned how much she loved having a baby. Aaron, on the other hand, had learned that a crying baby was next to unbearable to his ears. Inviting another year of infancy into their home was almost unimaginable for him.

Night after night as the new baby’s birth neared, Shauna came to Aaron asking, “When are we gonna talk about this? Can we talk about it?”

And Aaron resisted. “I don’t wanna talk. Don’t wanna think about this. Not tonight.”Difficult times and feeling inadequate make us depend on God

Shauna remembers finally forcing Aaron’s hand. “I needed to know,” she says. “Either yes so I could prep for our fourth baby, or no so I could start getting to a place where I could submit, a place where I could let go.”

They came back to the same prayers as before. God, what have you equipped and prepared us for? I don’t know that this is it. I literally don’t know if we can handle this.

As they sought wisdom from friends and family, something Aaron’s sister told him really sunk in. “Three years down the road, are you going to be able to look at Phillip, Tera, and Lexi and tell them, ‘You have a brother, but I couldn’t handle it.’?”Difficult times and feeling inadequate make us depend on God

Aaron and Shauna weighed all the factors. The birth mom could keep having kids and, at some point, the Mullins wouldn’t be able to handle all of them. They also considered the fact that there had been noticeable improvement in the birth mom’s life. She had her own apartment and a steady paycheck. For the first time, she showed that she could possibly win back custody of the newest baby.

“The thought of telling the kids, ‘Here’s your baby brother,’ was weird enough,” Aaron says. “But to bring him into the home and then watch him go back to his mom, where they couldn’t go, was sort of unthinkable.”

After wrestling with the decision, Aaron and Shauna had to lean on God when they felt weak in their own strength once again. Two years and eight months after they first said “yes” to a foster placement, their family grew again when baby Eli was born. When the state placed him in their custody, they went from zero to four children within four years. Parenting without the Lord’s help felt impossible to them.Difficult times and feeling inadequate make us depend on God

However, their emotional and legal struggle was far from over. It took another 18 months of hearings, waiting, and praying until the children’s birth mom relinquished her rights––meaning Eli would officially join his three siblings. When they left the courthouse on adoption day, they told their caseworker with a smile, “Don’t call us again.”

Now Aaron and Shauna are looking ahead, and the feeling they have is one that they’ve come to expect––inadequacy.

They know without God working through the hard turns of a difficult road, they might still see inadequacy as the inescapable snare they once feared. Instead, they see their ineptitude without God and their awareness of it as a gift. It’s a gift that will be there in moments of even tougher choices and even greater victories in the future.

“As much as we’d like to think we can just coast from here, like we went through our hard trials of trusting God, and it’ll be easier from here on out,” Aaron says. “It’s almost like we know that can’t be right. Like––as scary as it sounds––we know God isn’t done with us.”

Difficult times and feeling inadequate make us depend on God

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Unorthodox Childhood: An Interview with Hayden Feindel

This week, I get to sit down with a friend of mine whom I’ve known most of his life – Hayden Feindel. Hayden grew up with a strong, gifted, resilient single mom who raised five boys and a daughter to be just as strong and resilient! As a boy, Hayden’s biggest dream was to be a professional athlete… to be part of a championship team… and integral part of something that is much greater than himself.

Yet, as he threw one interception after another, Hayden realized – quite humbly – that “pro athlete” would never be on his business cards.

But, that has never stopped him from becoming part of something bigger than himself. That didn’t stunt his desire to redeem himself and his family from the pain that was inflicted upon them nor his drive to strive for impacting the world!

Here are a few of the things Hayden and I discuss:Unorthodox Childhood: An Interview with Hayden Feindel

  • Growing up with a crazy older brother who questioned his faith.
  • Learned to ask the right people the right questions in order to grow
  • Hayden’s mom started dating a new guy who soon became Dad
  • Everyone was excited to have the “super fun and cool new dad”!
  • New dad took an interest in Hayden… and boundaries were crossed
  • Hayden felt guilty that everyone loved dad, but dad was abusing him
  • Hayden’s confusion regarding “This is what a Christian Man” does
  • Dealing with the fall out of secrets coming to light
  • Deciding to take pain and darkness and walking in the light
  • Advice for others dealing with past painful secrets
  • Key 1) Find someone you trust
  • Key 2) Be honest
  • Hayden’s advice for guys who feel they can’t share or be themselves
  • Don’t go to “that” church… be sure to find a church where grace and mercy are Biblically understood and lived out.

This is just part of Hayden’s story. You’ve got to listen to what God has done throughout his life to mold him into the man he is today… a man who loves living for God!

As Haden says, “The first step is honesty; we can’t have freedom unless we have honesty”.

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Aaron and Shauna Mullins couldn’t quite name the feeling they had. And when they could, they knew it was something they’d never felt before: inadequacy.

Everything they ever wanted seemed to come to them––even the hard things––so long as they put in a little bit of hard work. But when they wanted kids, they learned their work ethic only went so far.

A New Normal

When they didn’t conceive the children they had once dreamed of, Aaron and Shauna considered fostering refugee children from the earthquake fallout in Haiti. When those children didn’t come, they decided to get trained and certified to foster children in the Texas system.

Then it became a waiting game. With each day came a call. With each call came the possible placement of a child or sibling group, ranging from newborn to two years old.A New Normal

One day in August of 2010, a call bypassed every checkpoint Aaron and Shauna had set up. They were told about two severely neglected siblings, a 5-month-old girl and a 16-month-old boy.

Shauna felt it was the right time to say “yes” and called Aaron during his lunch hour to discuss the possible placement. Aaron, still unsure, said he needed time to pray. He sat at his desk with his head in his hands, God give us wisdom, and, uh, we’ll take whatever you have for us.

They agreed to open their home to the unknown, trusting the Lord to be strong where they felt weak. Within a few hours, their caseworker arrived with both of the children. Phillip and his baby sister, Tera, came across the threshold and––in an instant––made Aaron and Shauna the foster parents they felt half ready to be.

That first night, the new foster parents lied awake listening, ready for the sound of crying. Try as they could to close their eyes and relax, Aaron and Shauna’s anxiety only persisted with the silence coming from the next room. Phillip and Tera, meanwhile, slept straight through the night.

The next few days included doctor visits for the children and it didn’t take much examination to understand the first night’s silence: The children were healing from long term neglect. The kids weren’t crying at night because they had learned not to, and Aaron and Shauna couldn’t bear the thought of them ever being returned to that environment.

“You get to a point where––without even trying––you think, These are our kids,” Shauna says, “and they might leave and go somewhere that isn’t safe. That’s not what we want for them.

The next few months were a sheer survival test for Aaron and Shauna. Even with the outpouring of love and support from their church community, Aaron had to get back to work and Shauna had to learn how to entertain two kids for 16 hours a day.A New Normal

“You wake up in the morning and you don’t know what to expect,” Shauna says as she remembers the early days. “It’s like they could lose their minds today, or we could get a phone call and they could leave––all these firsts.”

Eventually, life started to feel normal. But then they got another life-changing call.

It turned out that Phillip and Tera’s biological parents had had another baby. The judge wanted to place the newborn, Lexi, with her siblings if Aaron and Shauna were open to adding another foster child.

They welcomed her into their home with open arms.

The children’s biological parents continued to show little will to regain custody of their kids, and the paternal grandparents got an attorney in an attempt to gain custody of Phillip, Tera, and Lexi. Because Tera’s documented signs of abuse came from a time when she lived with her grandparents, Aaron and Shauna felt like they needed to fight for custody.

If God is sovereign, Aaron remembers thinking, is the court system going to work out the way it should? Do we just trust in that? Or has God sovereignly given us the ability to hire an attorney?

“We came to the point where we realized that if we didn’t intervene, we were going to regret it,” Shauna says.

The Lord provided for them along every step of the rocky journey. A family in their community, with whom they had been talking through their decisions, gave them $1,000 to help with legal fees. Next, the prize attorney whose reputation they trusted granted them mercy, offering to attend mediation on their behalf for a fraction of her usual fee. When they heard that Aaron and Shauna had filed, the grandparents withdrew their request for custody. During mediation, the kids’ biological mom agreed to go into a separate room to discuss with Aaron and Shauna what was best for the kids.A New Normal

“That she agreed to go talk with us separately was almost like an answered prayer we didn’t pray,” Aaron says. He said a quick, silent prayer of his own as they walked toward the room. Lord give me the words, let me speak well.

They used that time together to express their love and care for the kids’ biological mother, and reassure her that she could trust them to raise her kids. Surprisingly, she decided to relinquish her rights before they left the room, answering their prayers and avoiding trial. The court later awarded custody to Aaron and Shauna, and their three guests became their legally adopted children.

“That was awesome, and that was the worst day ever, realizing all we gained and all their biological parents lost,” Shauna recalls.

Life with three children eventually became the new, hectic normal.

Until one day the caller ID on Shauna’s phone made her heart flutter.

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)A New Normal

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Steve “Skogger” Meketa’s Story of Rebellious Punk to Rebellious Christian

This week, I get to talk with a cool buddy of mine, Steve “Skogger” Meketa. Steve’s story is amazing, starting in Cleveland, where he grew up as an odd kid. He was bullied and outcast… but then he was introduced to skating & punk! For better or worse, the Misfits changed Steve’s life!

Here are a few of the things Steve and I discuss:Steve “Skogger” Meketa's story of rebellious punk to rebellious Christian

  • Straight Edge and the Angry Teenager: fighting locals, run in with cops and things get weirder
  • Started his first band, sang about murder & insanity, strived to be offensive.
  • What attracted Steve to punk pushed him away from church. Church kids were weird but punks were cool… “Fonzie or Potzie”?
  • Days in the scene, horrible attitude, insulting and attacking…
  • Transition into who Steve is today, illness and hospitalized… then he got cancer
  • Guy gives him a bible, no idea who the guy was, still didn’t understand what he was reading.
  • 13 more days in the hospital, reading and talking to friends, growing ever since.
  • Released from the hospital and went back to the scene, then left everyone behind to pursue Jesus, and got back into skating.
  • Moved to California, found “Skogging”, but then his mentor got sick and passed away.
  • Steve then got into church and worship, but didn’t understand the church culture or fit in.
  • He found a new church, which was an answer to prayer!
  • Steve learned to “Major on the Majors”.
  • Steve prays: “Lord, If I am wrong then God fix me, if they are wrong God then You fix them.”
  • What would Steve tell a younger Steve or a friend from the past?
  • Would he change anything? Where he is today is built upon his broken past. THIS is the hardest thing he’s ever done
  • Steve now has a heart to pray for people that he’s afraid of. He prays for the homeless and police officers.

This is just part of Steve’s story. You’ve got to listen to what God has done throughout his life to mold him into the man he is today… a man who loves living for God!

As Steve says, “You can change… your life can change… EVERYTHING can change!”

Follow along with Steve’s skogging adventures at Skogging.com and WhateverSkateboard.com

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“I don’t want to do this, I change my mind.” The words fell out of Daphne’s quivering mouth as nurses ushered her into the dimly lit room and onto the blanketed bed. “No, no, no. I don’t want to do this anymore!”

“You can no longer make that decision,” the doctor responded.

due date of grace

Daphne lay on that blanketed bed on May 10, 2007. Only months before, she received the news and quickly began planning for her new life as a mom. She loved kids—even worked with them daily—and now she was having her own. But it wasn’t long until her entire life crumbled at her feet, leaving her seemingly alone, fighting for the life that was now inside of her. She eventually caved and agreed to the wishes of her parents and the father for her to get rid of the baby.due date of grace

After the procedure, Daphne had difficulty finding the will to live. She often fell asleep on the cold floor of her bathroom, crying in regret, with white tissues all around her. She felt robbed—as though she made the right decision at the last moment, and no one even cared. “I was so mad at this God I didn’t even know… that he could do this and let this happen to me.”

Then, two of Daphne’s co-workers began reaching out to her, encouraging her to wake up each day, and sharing about the freedom and forgiveness found in Jesus. Through many honest conversations about her issues with God, they persevered and continued showing her God’s love through their actions and words. On the baby’s presumed due date, Daphne’s coworkers had flowers and a card waiting on her desk as she came into work. On the card was a verse from the Bible:

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10-11)

due date of grace“I read that verse and my soul knew that it was true. And I, by God’s grace and the Spirit, believed that things couldn’t get any worse, and that God was going to restore me.” On that day, Daphne started walking with Jesus.

A few months later, Daphne was living with her cousin in Cedar Park, working at a hospital, and attending The Austin Stone Community Church. Although God continued working things out for her good, Daphne battled with what she thought of as a tainted testimony of how God brought her to himself. She struggled with guilt, shame, and even feeling like she deserved the bad things that happened to her. Before long, God brought Daphne the man who would be her husband, a man who understood the depth of grace and the way it covers all sin.

They were married, and God blessed Daphne and her husband with a baby. The pregnancy was a difficult one, high risk with regular appointments every few days, but on the last appointment before the baby’s delivery date, the unexpected happened.

“You have to deliver today. Your fluid is low and your placenta is dying. Baby’s got to come out. Today,” the doctor said. It was May 10, 2013—one month before the original due date, and exactly six years from the date of her abortion.due date of grace

“I was a little overwhelmed with it at first, but I realized how much God wanted to own the full redemption. I felt like God was telling me, ‘I take what was a horrible day every year and I claim it for my glory, and I give you a reason to celebrate it with life.’ And I couldn’t believe God was so gracious even in the details,” Daphne remembers.

“I think the constant battle is doubt. … [I] doubt God’s goodness, doubt God’s wisdom. But God constantly reminds me that I am fully purchased. Jesus’ blood is fully redemptive. There’s no condemnation, nothing left to pour out on me. Staring at a baby everyday is like a direct reminder, but it gives me joy for what is now and what isn’t anymore. It’s done. I am fully redeemed.”

due date of grace

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Stuck in a pattern? Prevent the past from repeating itself

Georgia had finally reached the end of her rope when she came in for coaching.  She was on her third husband and could not understand why he was so much like the former two husbands who were rageful, controlling and vengeful.  She longed for a peaceful marriage but her feeble attempts to ‘fix’ these men had made her feel like such a failure and her husband helped her along with that by saying that yes, she was a loser in everything she did.

But what Georgia didn’t understand was that she kept seeking her own healing from years of abuse by a rageful father through men that were just like him.  She would just jump into the first relationship that made her feel comfortable– without seeking healing from Jesus so she could walk away from her past and make wiser choices in who she connected with.

Stuck in a pattern? Prevent the past from repeating itself

Image: Sabra Kay

The problem was the men that made her feel comfortable only made her feel that way because they reminded her of her father.  She had this need to repeat the life she had with him– to try to make it come out right in order to fill the gaping hole her father left in her in her growing up years.

And the pattern was bound to be repeated in failed marriages over and over again until Georgia finally found her way to allow the Holy Spirit into those wounded places.

Unhealed relational wounds drive us to compulsive attempts to repair the damage. Without being aware of it, we seek out people we believe can “fix” what’s wrong with us or help us find a piece of ourselves we feel is missing.

We function emotionally like the man dying of thirst who sees a mirage and hurries to it only to find it is dry sand.   His perceptions are driven by his need.

We are rarely aware that something in us wants completeness.  The truth is, we long for Jesus continually because He is the one who has really set eternity in our hearts. Within us, our spirits, we know the answer lies in Him. But our soulish realm – the mind, will, and emotions – has to be renewed and healed so we can change ourselves from the inside out.

But if we remain unaware of the powerful forces at work within us conditioned by our past emotional injuries, such as our family dynamics and how we responded to it, we can be blind to its influence and seek out the completeness we lack by making all the wrong choices. For example, consider the following scenarios:

  • The codependent person lacks assertiveness and the ability to confront, so she attracts controlling and aggressive people. (Georgia’s case)
  • The rageful person can’t bear to feel emotions that make her sad, so she finds empathic people who won’t confront her moods.
  • The rigid, black-and-white person with walls a mile thick is not able to let go of control, so he seeks out spontaneous, creative people who won’t try to control him.
  • The over-responsible, guilt-ridden person lacks self-care and feels like a loser, so she finds self-absorbed people who care for no one but themselves.

These kinds of responses do not reflect God’s intentions for us in any way. And they don’t lead to healthy or fulfilling connections.

But we are not complete without relationship with Him and knowing Him as our healer from the past.

  • We have missing pieces— holes in us that we carry from childhood into adulthood.

The path to completeness or wholeness is to find a relational context and healthy relationships within community in the body of Christ… finding those who you can trust and be vulnerable with and who can help you finish the emotional work that enables you to grow into the capacities you lack and become who you were always meant to be.

  • The first step is admitting to the pattern and seeking help.

“You complete me” is a great line from a movie, but it doesn’t work in real relationships.  Another human being is simply not capable of making you feel complete.   Your sense of worth has to come from God and His complete work in your life.   Our pasts to not have to dictate our futures.

That is why most of us need to put less energy into romance and more into personal growth. It pays off later in romance.  I recently saw this posting on Face book that got a resounding “YES” from me.

“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek HIM to find her!”

  • Complete people attract other complete people.

We all need relationships that are supportive and caring in order to thrive. And while there can be excitement and drama with a person who follows your old patterns of dysfunction, it will ultimately be exhausting, if not debilitating. Setting boundaries and expressing your needs clearly will not only detract unhealthy people from seeking you out, and make them less attractive to you, but it will also attract people who are healthy enough to be there for you as well.

And that is where the real passion, excitement and God’s love will emerge.

Don’t let unhealed relational wounds or the pain of a past relationship affect your future.

You CAN prevent the past from repeating itself.

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This world is constantly bombarding us with lies. You aren’t good enough, strong enough, smart enough, pretty enough — you are not enough. These lies come from the enemy…but also from ourselves. Defining our worth is difficult. It’s our nature to want to fill our minds with lies like these, that we are not worthy.

Defining Your Worth – Debunking Lies with God’s Truth with Mary DeMuth

In her new book, Worth Living, Mary DeMuth debunks the lies that we so often tell ourselves and replaces it with God’s truth. She answers the question, “Am I enough?” There are so many standards we place on ourselves to live up to, yet, as her book reminds us, we are really only supposed to be living for God.Debunking Lies with God’s Truth with Mary DeMuth

God loves us. Just as we are. It really is that simple. I can’t wait for you to listen to this interview with Mary. This episode is going to be another fan favorite.

On a “Simply” & “Joyful” side note…

I love hearing from Titus 2 women about how they have learned to simplify. Their responses are so often just what my heart needs to hear. I think you’ll enjoy hearing from Mary about how her secret to simplifying starts with contentment.

Get ready for a great interview — and get your own Simply Joyful Podcast mug HERE!

In This Episode…

In this episode, Mary and I talk about her new book Worth LivingWorth Living  debunks all the lies we tell ourselves while bringing the “audacious truths.” Mary is a full time writer and speaker who talks about God’s restoring process. She has three older kids and her family lives in the Dallas area. I know you will be so encouraged by this episode!

Highlights from This Show…

  • Mary talks about how growing up in a difficult environment made her wrestle with her question of what she was worth in light of her upbringing.
  • Mary shares a little bit about her past. She was raised in a home that she would not want to duplicate later—which made her a very stressed out and anxious parent.
  • I ask Mary what she things are some of the main unhealthy things that women tend to do to fill God shaped holes in their lives. Mary says that there are so many things we look for to fill us up and eventually we come to acknowledge that nothing and no one can fill us up except for Jesus. All the lies we run for are incomplete gods and will never ever, ever satisfy us.
  • It gets frustrating for people because they get mad at God for things that don’t satisfy them, but in actuality, they haven’t made that decision to first go to Him for their ultimate satisfaction.” – Mary DeMuth
  • I bring up a line from Mary’s book that she used to describe herself.  Scared and scarred. She also uses Philippians 3 sharing how we need to forget what’s behind and strain towards the future. I ask how Mary encourages people to not just get over not the victim mentality, but how to move forward from the past.
  • I think we have become guilty of not letting God be the creative God that He is. We look backward and see the way He has worked and then we pray to Him and prescribe to Him what we want Him to do in the future or the present and it looks a lot like what He did in the past.” -Mary DeMuth
  • You might have a tragedy and it is worth lamenting; you see throughout Scripture that lamenting is important…but eventually, we have to move beyond it and think about our future as this ‘epic to anticipate.’” – Mary DeMuth
  • I ask Mary when and where she saw God changing “her storm into a story.” Mary said a lot of her healing came during college when she just cried for four years and told people her story—people who were Christians and prayed for her. When her daughter turned five, the same age that she was herself when she was raped, she fell apart and got more counseling—during which there was more healing. In the past couple of years, Mary says she has been exploring what trauma does to the soul; she went to revisit the place where the violations happened and afterwards she was throwing up for hours and hours; she acknowledges that the trauma is still inside of her.
  • It’s a process and it takes a long time and I know it gets frustrating and that’s okay, it’s normal, but we have to pursue healing. We cannot just sit on the couch and expect God to zap us with healing; we have to want it.” – Mary DeMuth
  • Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘do you want to get well,’ and I think He asks that of us. I think our dysfunction and our pain and our past oftentimes becomes our comfort zone; it’s what we know, even though it’s creepy and terrible and awful.” – Mary DeMuth
  • “It is worth the pursuit even when sometimes it feels really long.” – Mary DeMuth
  • I think it’s so important for people to see that even when they don’t have a traumatic past, they have a tremendous future if they focus on where God is taking them.” – Kristi Clover
  • Regardless of what your past is, God wants you to do big things.” – Kristi Clover
  • I say that in Mary’s book, she targeted 10 lies and replaced them with 10 truths. Being a people pleaser, I think that if I’m not encouraging people, I’m not pleasing them. I ask Mary why she thinks it is that we are so preoccupied in this world with trying to meet other people’s’ expectations. Mary says that we bend over backwards to keep conflict at bay and that doing so is fueled by insecurity. A good question to ask ourselves is how we would have lived differently if we knew and believed that we were loved.
  • The more I understand God’s love and the more I grasp how wide, how deep, how high it is, the less I am concerned what people think of me, the less it matters to me.” – Mary DeMuth
  • I bring up a part in Mary’s book where she says that God smiles when we rest. Mary says that in the rat race of ministry during the busy days of church planting, her family set aside a day of the week to rest. Even her grown up children know that it’s important to pull away from all the lies and activity that keeps going and stop to listen to our hearts and simply rest in God. I mention that when I first started a blog, it was an activity of rest for me, something I could do to unwind (though now I need to take a break from it for real rest once in a while).
  • I ask Mary what she thinks what the most challenging and healing part of writing the book was for her.  Mary says the greatest struggle is to understand that God loves her. It’s so easy to say, but it’s another thing to receive it and to live within it. She said part of writing the book was exploring the why behind that. She says she is still a victim of what culture declares is beautiful and that she always needs to remind herself that she is fearfully and wonderfully made and that it’s still hard shaking hands with the person in the mirror.
  • We all waste so much time on all these petty things that the world tells us we’re supposed to be paying attention to.” – Kristi Clover
  • I ask Mary what is one message that she hopes women take away from reading her book. Mary replies, “That Christ is sufficient and that He is all you need.”
  • ‘We waste time trying to prove our worth in a hundred different ways and we don’t need to.’ —Mary DeMuth

Please Note…

Be sure to grab your FREE copy of my bookSanity Savers for Moms, by joining our Simply Joyful community. It’s a great way to keep in touch…and get subscriber only freebies like my book. Click HERE to get the book and join!

Connect with Mary DeMuth…

Mary DeMuth is a former church planter in France and the author of more than thirty books, including The Day I Met Jesus. A sought-after speaker and longtime blogger, she has overcome (through Jesus’s healing) a difficult past to become an authentic example of what it means to live a brand new story. She lives in Texas with her family. Learn more at www.marydemuth.com.

You can check out Mary’s books HERE on Amazon! Be sure to visit her site as well at www.marydemuth.com.

 *And don’t miss her awesome podcast:
Re-Story Show

Thank you, Rend Collective for allowing me to use your incredible song “The Joy of the Lord is My Strength”!

(This podcast is by Kristi Clover. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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For Hannah, it started in 5th grade. The obsessive thoughts. The anxious behavior. The suicidal ideation. She knew God. She had heard about Him her whole life. She tried to combat her thoughts with verses from her Bible. But the world in her head quickly turned into doctor’s visits. Psychiatric offices. Diagnoses. Prescriptions. Medications.

conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

By the time Hannah entered high school, she struggled with depression regularly. Anxiety seemed to run her thoughts and therefore, her life. During her junior year, what started as an obsession compulsive action to ease anxiety became an addiction to the pain of self-harm. “It started with a mechanical pencil. I’d use the tip of it to scratch my arm really hard during school. It helped me get through the days. But as I felt more socially separated, I used sharper things. Thumb tacks. Keys. Then one night, I used a nail filer and drew blood. Once I saw it, I liked it. I wanted to always draw blood. It became an addiction,” she remembers.

Now hooked on the painful cycle of self-harm, Hannah lived countless nights begging God to kill her. She frustratingly questioned why God would give someone a life if they didn’t even want to live it. She questioned why God didn’t give her the guts to kill herself. She was angry with Him for even creating her, for waking her up every morning.conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

In the midst of it all, Hannah graduated and moved to Lubbock for college. She found a church community where she grew in her knowledge of the Bible and God’s character. While God was obviously sustaining Hannah’s life, her intimate struggle with self-worth, depression, and self-harm remained present in her life.

Sometimes Hannah would reach three months without cutting, but then she would relapse. “I would be screaming at God, asking why He’d abandoned me and start cutting. I believed the lie that God wasn’t good and was indifferent to watching me suffer,” she recalls. “And all of these false views of God were tainting me. I had all the head knowledge, but the suffering was so great, I couldn’t believe that knowledge.”conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

In August 2014, Hannah decided to get a tattoo on the wrist where she would often cut. She got roman numerals based on Romans 8:37, the verse that regularly helped her fight defeating thoughts: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Conquering Cutting Addiction Through Jesus Christ

“Of course I was tempted to cut a week later, but I looked at my wrist and was reminded that I’m a fighter and victorious because of Jesus,” she shares. “I thought I would relapse after a couple of months, but I never did. It was the grace of God.”conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

While her struggle with self-harm dissipated, Hannah’s depression wouldn’t relent. Only two months later, Hannah put her own life in danger when she took an overdose of medication. After another three months, she decided to leave her school and church to seek professional help through an intensive outpatient program. Through this program, God not only helped Hannah gain self-worth and practical skills to help process the emotions she felt so deeply, but He also grew her heart for those who struggle with mental illness and helped her better understand it with a biblical view.

One night, while crying in bed and having an anxiety attack, Hannah read Philippians 1:23: “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.” And Hannah thought, “That’s all I want. I’m sick of this world. I’m sick of crying. I’m sick of pain. I’m sick of suffering. I’m sick of depression. I just want to be with Jesus.” And although she felt this so heavily, she also began to feel comforted and understood by Jesus and His followers in the Bible.conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

Throughout the years, Hannah has often believed that if she just had enough faith, Jesus would heal her. She was told that if she prayed more, her depression would be gone. “Nothing damaged me more than believing that. I repeatedly asked God what I was doing wrong, and I finally realized, I live in a broken world with a broken mind and body,” she says. “But that’s where faith comes in.” Hannah realized there is no magic amount of prayer or faith that could have healed her. She realized that through all the pain and suffering, God had been pursuing her and was doing something that was ultimately for her good.conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

“I don’t hesitate to say that Jesus is the only reason I haven’t killed myself. In 5th grade, I was told that He loved me and was good, but now I know it. I’ve experienced the weight of His grace on me. He’s the only constant thing in my life. I am constantly reminded when horrible things happen that we can be so glad that we’re not home. Jesus is not done. And God didn’t let me die all of those times for a reason.”

Today Hannah has hope in Jesus, even through her struggles. She knows that He wants to give us an abundant life. She has hope for the future, when her mind and body will be fully redeemed and glorified with Jesus. A future where she will live out the truth that she is more than a conqueror over both anxiety and depression because of Jesus.conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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