For the broken

I believe that sin is real and rampant. I believe there is an enemy of God and His people. One that prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Pet 5:8). A trickster, who disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14), but who is truly a murderer and a liar (John 8:44). I believe that his temptations can and do overcome even the most faithful servants of God, even beloved King David.

I worship a God that rebuilds ruined places and plants that which is desolate (Ez 36:36), whose strength is made perfect when we are weak (2 Cor 12:9), who can restore His people and make them strong, firm and steadfast following suffering (1 Peter 5:10). I worship a God that can restore what the locusts have eaten (Joel 2).

“The thief comes only to seek and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Jesus, John 10:10

If you are devastated or hurting this morning, please be encouraged that the Lord is there with you. Let me remind you of a few of His wonderful names:

El Roi (The God that Sees)
Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
El Olam (The Everlasting God)

When you are hurting, He is with you. He sees. He cares. He has peace and healing for you. You cannot do it on your own, but He can.  But maybe that isn’t quite enough to comfort you, maybe it makes you feel vulnerable and helpless because it’s out of your control. Here is what you can do: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Rom 12:12). “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you” (Ps 55:22). Know that “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning” (Ps 30:5).

 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
Isaiah 57:15



Battling the binge (Guest post)

In my teens and early twenties I fought bulimia and binge eating, it was confusing for me. I had a sporadic history of both problems instead of a continuous long-running battle. I could be fine for a year and a half and then be crippled for eight months wherever food was concerned. Eventually I came to realize that my eating disorder was really just a symptom. There was a deeper, underlying cause….

I’m honored to have the opportunity to share my story on the One Degree Ministries’ blog today. I haven’t written publicly about this struggle yet, I’m excited to see what the Lord will do with my story and experiences in this regard.

As with every victory over struggle, once I’ve moved past the struggle and have become stronger I marvel at the Lord’s grace and favor. That He would care enough to bless me in this area, that He even cares about the food I put in my mouth and the issues of my heart, humbles me and I know that it is only by His strength that I stand on the other side of this struggle.

You can read the rest of my story on the One Degree Ministries’ blog. If you have questions or comments that you don’t wish to post in the comments publicly, I welcome your private messages via email to nicole@shatterproofministries.com


Existing Authentically in Pain

Every time a new trial shows up in your life, it seems that the door opens for opinion and commentary from just about everyone. If only you would draw closer to God, they say, troubles would leave you. Just read your Bible more and pray without ceasing. God will surely remove the calamity.

Other times we tell each other “you could have made mistakes in the past and these trials are the repercussions of your sin”… as if those on the other side of trouble have some sort of psychic mind into God’s plan for that particular person’s suffering. I’m sure you could list other examples of well-meaning advice you have received that you felt stopped short of reaching your heart where it’s really at.

What if we haven’t sinned in a way to provoke God’s hand? What if we are reading our Bibles and praying to God faithfully? If trouble comes, what then? If your best friend who teaches Sunday school, sings in the choir, leads a prayer group, volunteers at the homeless mission, keeps a neat house and cooks like Betty Crocker finds out that her husband has been brazenly unfaithful to her despite her nearly perfect wifely existence… what then? What constructive “Christian” advice do we give?

Well, there’s always the good ole Christian pep talk. “Count it all joy! It’s in the valleys we grow! Chin up, sister! Remember, God’s got a plan! He’s in control!” None of these things are technically wrong, but sometimes timing our conversation is everything. Our words can be confusing and frustrating for someone with fresh wounds. It’s almost as if as Christians, we don’t grant each other permission to exist in the reality of our suffering.

Existing authentically in our pain is better than denying it or putting on a brave face for the sake of keeping up the appearance that all is well in God’s kingdom. Believe it or not, it’s actually okay to admit that we’re hurting, admit that suffering is painful and that life is not a bed of roses. We learn through suffering that God will extend His protection, provision, refuge and guidance.

When I say “existing authentically,” I’m not talking about throwing a tantrum or wallowing endlessly. But when you’re coping with the troubled reality that is your life God wants to know. He wants you to be honest with Him about how much it hurts, how out of control you think it is, how hopeless you feel, how vulnerable you are.

You may feel guilty telling God how you really feel about your Job-like revolving door of challenging heartache. You may feel somehow ungrateful admitting your anger, or that if you start telling God what’s going on in your heart the tears will never stop. But I promise you, you have permission to be exactly that–broken and sobbing at God’s feet. God wants you in a place where, like Job, you realize in faith that “though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15)

Let us grant ourselves and others the permission to live in the storm. Let us no longer give pat answers to major trials in each other’s lives. We don’t always have all the answers, but we can lean on each other for comfort and point to God as the true comforter, the One who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

Pat answers, no. A shoulder to cry on, yes. This is a more true picture of friendship.


Originally published in the Fall 2011 Real Women Real Life
Oak Creek Assembly of God Women’s Ministry Newsletter


Being Shatterproof

In my first few weeks as a Christian I experienced the incredible power of God healing
diseases in my mind and body–a powerful experience to be sure. But with triumph came
adversity from within my own family. A wise friend told me, “When you’re under attack
from the enemy and the Holy Spirit throws open the doors of your ‘spiritual armory’
looking for weapons to use in the battle, you don’t want Him to find an empty cabinet!”

This useful illustration helped me grasp how non-negotiable Bible reading is for the
Christian. If I didn’t prioritize my Scripture reading and put God’s truth and promises
in my heart, there wouldn’t be anything for the Spirit to draw from when I came under
attack. In those early years in my walk with God the trials and hardships intensified
greatly, had I not followed the instructions of my spiritual mentors I would have surely
shattered. But falling to pieces is not God’s plan. We have His power, His strength to
draw upon.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Who would benefit from your shattering to pieces when trouble comes? Certainly not you
or your family, only the enemy of this world—the one Jesus calls a thief.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life,
and have it to the full.  John 10:10

It can be down right debilitating to handle loss, uncertainty, pain and suffering. We are
so weak and so incapable, but being broken by God during these times of trial doesn’t
mean we have to fall to pieces. It all comes down to trust.

Gulp… Trust, I know. Us women are just so great at this, right? Hear me out. How would
your experience in suffering various trials change if when trials came you forced yourself
to look upon Psalm 91 and focused on God’s protection?

The first two verses speak of trusting God to protect us and finding rest in that trust.
Have you ever wished that you could just experience rest, if just for a moment? Does it
seem impossible? It doesn’t have to be. I challenge you to bask in the warm protection
of Psalm 91 and memorize it for life’s toughest times. The tender picture of protection in
Psalm 91 is available to all of us.

God will never leave you, God will not forsake you and God will not abandon you in
the midst of your suffering. All the cracks remaining in you afterward are evidence that
while you may have been broken, you certainly did not shatter irreparably. You were
broken by God’s hands. And in God’s hands, you will be held together. You will be
protected. You will be safe. You will not shatter.


Originally published in the Spring 2011 Real Women Real Life
Oak Creek Assembly of God Women’s Ministry Newsletter