Jesus, Are You There?

Jesus, Are You There?

There I was, sitting in the middle of my one bedroom apartment completely overwhelmed. My heart was racing, the tears were flowing and I had never been in this place before. Not just physically but mentally and emotionally. I was 22 years old, living in a new city, starting dental hygiene school and about 4 hours away from my husband. On top of that, my grades were tumbling and things in my family were going abrupt. To say the least, my world felt like it was crashing all around me.

If you would have asked me back then if I was a Christian, I would have said yes. Yet, my life didn’t reflect it too much. I was full of fear and anxiety. My mind was clouded by the chaos around me. I was looking to the world to fill me up. I was lonely, confused and felt hopeless for the future. My life and actions didn’t reflect the love or joy we have access to through Christ in any way.

A little back story, I was not raised in church. In fact, I didn’t own a bible of my own until college. So in the midst of my lowest season, I didn’t have a strong foundation to stand on. I didn’t know where to look for peace and comfort. The only way I knew how to handle hard things was in my own strength. I found myself so weighed down that I felt stuck, isolated and alone. Have you been there?

My hurt led to resentment which led to bitterness.

My confusion led to doubt which led to unbelief.

My loneliness led to isolation which led to crippling anxiety.

As I was sitting there on the floor, I was trying to figure out how to carry the weight of all that was being thrown my way. Wondering how what was supposed to be a season filled with joy was one of great trial. I was in what “looked” like a great season but I was riddled by fear, doubt and anxiety on the inside. No matter how hard I tried to figure it out and find a solution to these things on my own, I couldn’t. I felt like a ton of bricks were laying on top of me with no one to help pull me out from underneath the rubble.

I can vividly remember the enemy whispering lies like: No one likes you. You are worthless. You have no value for the world. You’re a failure. The one that seemed to hurt the most was..” Who you are and what you have will never be good enough.” I believed this one the most. I believed I would never be good enough for God. I believed I had to clean myself up before coming to Him.

Although the lies were loud, Jesus pursued me in my messiest season. I remember sitting in my living room that night having these thoughts flood my mind through the despair: “Have you talked to God about it?” “Have you given Jesus a chance?” Somehow in that moment I mustered up enough strength and courage to ask, “Jesus, are you there?” I laugh when I reflect on this because I remember saying, “Hi, my name is Katie.” As if He didn’t already know. But the truth is, all I knew of Him was what I had heard through other people. I had heard He was like a friend and counsellor. Yet, I didn’t have a relationship with Him. I didn’t know Him as my Lord and Savior. I didn’t know that through Him I had access to the Holy Spirit. Who is the giver of joy, peace & comfort. I didn’t know through Jesus I would be reconciled back to God, our Father! I had no idea that the simple decision to say “Yes” to Jesus would grant me eternal life beyond this one. I had no idea that everything I ever needed and desired could be found through a relationship with Jesus.

As I look back, perhaps the greatest question I ever asked was, “Jesus, are you there?” When we ask God to reveal Himself to us, He will. He wants to show us the power of His presence in our life. He wants to meet us in our weakness to show Himself strong. He wants us to hand over the little we have to give and allow Him to multiply it.

Whatever you’re seeking in this world, you’re going to find it. But just like I was, you might be searching for all the right things in all the wrong places. Where are you searching for your answers? Where are you seeking joy & peace? Where are you trying to find your sense of purpose?

Jesus is the answer to all those things. He is enough. What you have to give Him is enough. But are you willing to wave your white flag and give Him your full surrender? Are you willing to say, “God not my will but yours be done.” Are you willing to be shaped and molded into who He’s called you to be? Are you willing to believe the little you have can actually be used by God in a big way?

One of my favorite stories in the bible is when God uses the 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed 5,000 men. Matthew 14: 13-21 says,

“Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sickness. Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ But Jesus said, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘We have only five loaves here and two fish.’ And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.”

The disciples looked at what they needed and thought what they had to give wasn’t enough. The truth is, in their hands it wasn’t enough. But Jesus replied to them and said, “Bring them here to me.” He asked them to hand over what they had to him. He was asking them to surrender and believe that a miracle could be done through this exchange.

It’s in the simple exchange of handing over the little we have to Jesus where we will see God’s mighty hand in our lives.

When I was in one of my lowest seasons, all I had to give Him was a simple, ”yes.” Through that simple response, He changed me. He redeemed me and revealed himself to me in a way I never thought possible.

Friend, I don’t know what you’re walking through today. Are you in a season of feeling as though who you are and what you have isn’t enough? Have you been striving to figure out the solution on you’re own? Are you doubting His presence in your life?

Perhaps He’s saying to you.. My child, pick up every piece of doubt, fear, confusion and little you have to give & “Bring them here to me.”

When we are desperate to see God move in our lives, it is often in the process of releasing our grip and handing it back over where we will experience breakthrough.

Sometimes all it takes is humbling ourselves, surrendering our control and choosing to invite Him into our situation by handing over all we have and taking a deep breath of courage. Then asking, “Jesus are you there?”


Katie Dietz

Jesus lover, Wife & Writer

Katie Dietz is a wife & writer on a mission to drawing women closer to heart of Jesus! She loves sunny days & being outside any chance she gets. She has a passion for sharing God’s truth through speaking and writing. Rather, it’s over long conversations in a coffee shop or encouraging posts on Instagram. Katie desires nothing more than for others to know they are loved and created for a purpose. She hopes through the words she writes & words she speaks, you are challenged and inspired to step into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus! You can find her on Instagram @katie.dietz

You Are Not Behind

You Are Not Behind

If You Feel Behind, Read This…

It was a typical Tuesday-night get-together with three of my closest friends. Every week, we meet to we catch up on our weeks and sometimes vent about work. Sometimes there’s a lot to share. Other times we talk about a passage of Scripture or a book we are reading together. It’s one of my favorite times of the week. However, a lot had changed in the last few weeks since we had to the chance to all be together. One friend had a baby, and another got married; the third friend was sharing about an exciting new job opportunity.

While I held my friend’s baby, in a beautiful new home she owned, and listened to all the news I was genuinely so thrilled to hear, I felt myself start to panic. 

I had nothing new to share.

Not one thing. Nothing noteworthy happened in the weeks since we had all seen each other. I didn’t even have the prospect of a husband, baby or promotion coming. All I could think about was the milestone 30th birthday that was fast approaching and how we were all going to start a new decade of our lives in very. different. places.

The lie looped on repeat in my head: I’m behind.

It was paralyzing because I couldn’t fix it. It was just my reality. We were physically sitting in the same room, but I couldn’t feel any further away from them than I did in that moment. More than feeling behind; I worried I was going to get left behind.

From that moment on, I’d never “catch up” to where they were. And that made me feel both sad, and scared. Sad, because they all were living things I desperately wanted and was unsure if I would ever get. Scared, because if they kept moving forward, would they leave me behind? 

Do you ever feel like I do, like everyone is moving on without you? Like everyone is graduating to a new phase of life, and you’re stuck where you are? Whether it’s watching another friend get married or have a baby, or finding out someone you know is buying a home, it’s easy to look around and wonder: Did I miss something?

In those moments, I often question myself. Was I not in the right city or at the right job? Did I miss what God was calling me to do? Why does it seem like things are happening for everyone else but me?

What do we do with those questions? We spend so much time looking at what everyone else has or is doing.

And I’m afraid we are missing out on the best parts of life because we are stuck wishing for someone else’s.

But what if there’s a better way to live? A way to stop feeling behind and like we are striving to catch up?

What if we learned to love the places we live without wishing for something bigger, better or that we were somewhere else?

What if we embraced the things we are good at, do for work and for fun instead of looking at what everyone online is doing?

What if we built real, authentic community with the people in front of us instead of feeling left out?

What if we found confidence in the race God marked for us instead of trying to chase another one?

It’s possible. More than that, I think it’s urgent. Because the enemy would love nothing more than to slow you down, sideline you or make you want to quit. But you have a part to play in building the kingdom of God, and it’s really hard to do that if you’re distracted by feeling behind.

Psalm 27:13 tells us where we can place our confidence when we feel behind: “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”

When I reflect on this verse, I know those questions I ask myself aren’t true. I can see glimpses of the goodness of God right now. I can see some of the ways He has been working out the details of my life along the way. And when I pause to reflect on this, I remember life is not about getting to the next destination or graduating to another life phase; it’s about being faithful with what’s in front of you and around you right now. (Hebrews 11:13)

If you’re feeling “behind” today, here are four ways I’ve found encouragement to combat those lies:

  1. Pray with honesty. We can still be honest about what we long for even when we learn to enjoy what we have now. Prayer has the power to change things, so don’t stop asking and believing for God to move. (1 Peter 5:7) 
  2. Put down social media. When we stop looking at what everyone else has or what they are doing, we are better able to love the life that’s right in front of us. (James 3:16) 
  3. Practice gratitude. Slowing down long enough to appreciate the gifts God has already given makes us feel less like we are missing out on something. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) 
  4. Change your perspective. There are things in my life today that I used to pray for, and that perspective changes how I live. There are also things in my life that other people are praying for. (Hebrews 12:2)

These things won’t help you get ahead or crack the code to getting what you want, but they can help you learn to love the life God has placed you in. 

There are still many days when I’m frustrated by things that haven’t changed in my life. But when we look back and see evidence of God’s faithfulness then, we can have confidence He is still being faithful now.

The next time you experience the fear of being behind, remember: You are not behind.

God is writing a story that is unique to YOU. It may not be the story you want, and it may not be in the timing you want, but He is not leaving you behind. Over and over, the Bible shows us He has not forgotten us. Like Romans 8:28 says, whatever He is working out behind the scenes is for your good and His glory.

We can surrender our plans and put our trust in His capable hands. He is not going to leave us where we are, but rather, take us to where He wants us to be.

Meghan Ryan is an author and hype girl for people getting out of their comfort zones so they don’t miss the best part of life. A Florida beach girl born and raised, she currently lives in Charlotte, NC and works as the Promotional Copy Writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her passion is for helping people find and live out their God-given callings. She’s worked in ministry on college campuses and internationally. When she’s not surrounded by friends, you can usually find her reading a book, doing something outdoors or teaching a Pure Barre class. Her first book releases in 2024 and you can connect with her on Instagram @meghanmryan and at alwaysmeghan.com.

Fear is a Liar

Fear is a Liar

At one of the charity auction events for which I had donated a painting, Clark and I won a bid on a trip. Our four children were still young at the time, and time alone with Clark was in short supply. We so looked forward to jumping on a plane and enjoying the crystal-clear waters of Turks and Caicos.

About two weeks before our departure, though, a terrible fear of flying gripped me. What in the world? I thought. I’ve jumped out of planes. What is wrong with me?

I tried reasoning with myself. I talked it out (or attempted to). Of course I prayed. But fear continued to slither in my ears.

I remember breaking down at a swim meet, grabbing my brother-in-law and explaining to him where Clark and I kept our wills. I told him what to do “when we’re gone.” I also wrote my sister a long letter, giving specific instructions for how to raise Blakely, Catherine, Taylor, and Ford. I really, truly believed I might die on the getaway my husband and I had won. I was deathly afraid that I’d board the plane and never return, leaving my four incredible, beautiful children behind, with no mommy or daddy to care for them.

Fear-stricken for several days, I finally called my prayer-warrior friend, Anne Cochran. I desperately needed prayer support.

“I don’t understand. Why is the fear so heavy?” I asked my friend.

Anne listened as I unloaded. Then she prayed powerfully. I was driving while she prayed, and as she closed with an “amen,” I looked closely at a car that had stopped ahead of me at a red light. A worn bumper sticker on its rear fender contained only one word in all-capital letters: PEACE.

Message received, Lord, was my immediate response. Thank You. Thank You, Jesus.

It wasn’t easy to get on that plane, but I did it. On that flight I also started something that has since become a habit of mine. I made the sign of the cross on the left side of the plane, declaring with my hands and my faith what my mind had trouble believing: Jesus was in control. I travel frequently now and continue this practice; it’s one way I remind fear that I trust in God.

When we landed safely in Turks and Caicos, Clark and I rendezvoused with our assigned driver. I let out a sigh of relief when I noticed the sticker plastered on the side of his van:

Step by step, keep following Me.


We discovered our driver also worked as a pastor, and God’s peace flooded me! I felt cared for by my heavenly Father. And I knew He would care for my kids too.

Clark and I had a wonderful trip, reveling in the masterpiece of creation that Turks and Caicos was—charming and, in many places, unspoiled. With powdery white-sand beaches stretching into turquoise waters that kiss the horizon, these islands proclaimed peace and glory. It was just what my husband and I needed.

What we did not need was a ridiculous fight about God-only-knows-what the night before our scheduled return home. Not only was the fight silly—truly, I cannot remember what prompted the argument—it was also needlessly big. Perhaps you’ve been in a situation where a relatively small issue quickly escalates and, suddenly, you’re in the middle of the relational equivalent to a nuclear war. Not good.

I was fuming and emotionally taxed. It’s not surprising, then, that fear crept right back into my mind and heart, ready to take up residence for good. This is when I discovered that, even when one is fear-stricken and fighting with a loved one, one still has to eat. So the next morning Clark and I went down to the beachside restaurant for our last meal (on the island, that is, not existentially, though I feared it could be the final meal of my life).

Virtually every restaurant in Turks and Caicos sported outdoor tables, and this breakfast spot was no exception. Just as the waitress took our finished plates away, a white dove swooped down and sat, peering at me, right next to our table. I almost laughed out loud. A white dove. Seriously? An international symbol of peace and the symbol, in my faith, of God the Holy Spirit?

From this I sensed the message, Make peace with your husband, Anne. Receive My peace about your flight. Return to Me every time the grip of fear tightens. I will never leave you or forsake you.

Once again I prayed, Message received, Lord. Thank You, Lord. Thank You.

I melted into God’s peace, which the Bible describes as a peace that transcends understanding. You may or may not be familiar with the verses to which I’m referring. They don’t just describe peace; they also impart wisdom about how we can deal with anxiety.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God

what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will

experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.

His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus”

(Philippians 4:6–7 nlt).

Clark and I reconciled. (How could we not after the dove God sent?) We also returned home safely, and this experience gave me the opportunity to reflect on the role fear played in my life.

I started life as a rather fearful child. Perhaps you remember me telling you that I would wake up my sister to go to the bathroom with me in the middle of the night. As I grew up, though, I became what many people saw as fearless. I skydived. I rappelled and climbed vertical slants. I left a sure thing—teaching—to sell pottery. And I succeeded at so much in life. I’m sure there were people who looked at my life and thought, She probably never feels afraid.

But fear lies to us all.

When songwriter Zach Williams released “Fear Is a Liar” and I first heard it on the worship playlists I stream while painting, I immediately resonated with the lyrics. You read some of Zach’s words at the opening of this chapter. Let me bring them back to our minds now.

When he told you you’re not good enough

When he told you you’re not right

When he told you you’re not strong enough

To put up a good fight

When he told you you’re not worthy

When he told you you’re not loved

When he told you you’re not beautiful

That you’ll never be enough

Fear, he is a liar

Fear lies to us about circumstances—this is how my fear of flying developed. Becoming a mom and knowing what I could lose and who I would leave behind changed my entire perspective on the adventure of travel. I needed to trust God, not just with the actual process of flight but also with what I risked every time I left my family, whether I was driving to the grocery store or boarding a plane for a marriage getaway. You never may have experienced a fear of flying, but you probably have had anxiety surrounding situations in your life. Fear lies to us about what has happened, is happening, and will happen.

But fear lies to us about more than that too. It lies to us about who we are. And this is where shame can grip us. Fear tells us we’re not good enough and never will be. It lies to us about our strength and ability to fight through the tough trials we face. Fear lies to us about whether we’re loved, worthy, or beautiful. Fear, he is a liar.

In case you were wondering, Zach Williams didn’t write “he” in the lyrics because he hates men. He wrote that because the Bible tells us that we have an actual enemy who lies to us. Jesus identified him as “a liar and the father of lies” in John 8:44. Whether or not you believe in an incarnate evil—an evil that exists and actively opposes light, goodness, and truth—you likely have experienced the effects of lies about your identity.

Fear lies to us all.

That’s why, years after I wrestled with God about flying to and from Turks and Caicos, I took the time to write my family and speak truth into their minds and hearts. I wanted to be part of God’s work to dismantle the lies fear tried to breathe into them. Ironically enough, after God had delivered me from the fear of flying, I wrote these mini letters to Clark and my children while airline techs de-iced the plane I had boarded during a snowstorm in New York City.

If something should ever happen to me, know that each of you were my life! I love you all more than you will ever know. Please find God in all of this. I know there are times it seems hard to believe, but we do have a living God.

We counteract fear not only with courage but also with truth. Fear is a liar, and we need to speak words of encouragement and hope into one another’s lives. That’s why I took the time to write these truths to my children and husband. I wanted to fill their minds with God’s truths that empower and encourage. Fear keeps us in bondage; it holds us back.

The Bible also reveals that the purpose of the Father of Lies is to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Don’t let fear steal your joy, kill your hope, and destroy your identity.

Fear is a liar, but God is the way, the truth, and the life you crave. I’ve chosen to reject fear and follow Jesus’ way. What about you?

A lifelong artist, Anne Neilson began painting with oils in 2003 and quickly became nationally renowned for her ethereal Angel Series. Neilson’s paintings are inspiring reflections of her faith.



Let’s start with a quick poll: raise your hand if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed or frustrated about something that should’ve been easy and ended up being really complicated? Like trying to agree on where to eat with a group of your friends. Or picking a movie after scrolling through netflix for an hour. Maybe it’s trying to figure out how in the world to file your taxes correctly. Or let’s be real, even that boy you’ve been telling your friends about, but “it’s complicated” lol. I mean we expect parallel parking and AP Trigonometry to be complicated, but picking what college you want to go to…that should be easy right?

Okay, now that we’re all on the same page about our complicated lives (because we’ve all been there lol), what about my relationship with God? Sometimes we can go into a relationship with the Lord expecting it to be complicated. Maybe you’ve grown up in church, and you’re still trying to figure out the difference between sanctification and justification and righteousness (because same lol). Or maybe you’re new to Christianity, and all those words I just listed are brand new to you. It can feel kind of complicated and a bit overwhelming, but I’ve got GOOD NEWS. The Gospel isn’t complicated! In fact, a relationship with Jesus is actually really simple. 

Romans 10:13 says, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” It doesn’t matter where you find yourself, what you’ve done, or the areas of your life that you feel are overwhelming, If you call on the name of the Lord YOU WILL BE SAVED.

You don’t have to fix yourself up, clean up your life, or even attend church a certain number of times before you can call on Jesus. Right now, wherever you are, you can call on Jesus. He meets you exactly where you are, and gives you new life. It really is as simple as that.

Our newest album, THIS IS THE GOSPEL by Elevation RHYTHM, describes the profound simplicity of the GOOD NEWS, the Gospel of Jesus, through every song on the album. Songs like “You Will Be Saved”, “Wind of Love”, and our title track, “This Is The Gospel” express the story of Jesus and the way the Gospel impacts our everyday lives. Before the first song was written, we knew we wanted this album to be rooted in foundational truth for the next generation. This isn’t a mash-up of unrelated songs, but rather a story communicating what it looks like to place your faith in Jesus. From the first note to the final lyric, this album is meant to be a journey filled with Biblical truth and lyrics right from scripture.

One of my favorite songs on the album, “You Will Be Saved”, was written out of Romans 10:9 which says,If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” We want every person who listens to this album to know there’s a God who thinks they’re worth dying for. And He didn’t just come for a specific group of people. He came for everyone… Because we all need saving.

Christianity isn’t something for certain people, in certain seasons, who live up to a certain standard. If any of that were true, we would’ve named the song, “You Will Be Saved… After You Do XYZ.” Salvation was never meant to be a gated gift only “good” people could receive or earn. It’s a gift freely given out of a love we can’t comprehend.

Our prayer is that these lyrics would become anthems of truth over your life. Lyrics like, 

As simple as that

Don’t overthink

Don’t complicate it

No strings attached

He loves you

He loves you

God loves you so much that he would send his only son to die on the cross so that we could have life and relationship with him for eternity. He loves you. As simple as that. & if you put your trust and hope in Him, it changes everything.

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a friend of mine a few years ago. She had grown up in church, but during high school began to walk away from God. She got caught up in the wrong crowd and found herself looking for purpose, meaning, fulfillment in partying, drinking, and relationships only to find herself feeling more and more lonely, empty, and unfulfilled. She told me about the moment she realized she hadn’t just been searching to fill the places of her heart, but she was actually running from God. It was on a typical night after a party she had been at that she sat in her car and prayed the simplest prayer, “Jesus, I need you”. Immediately, there was an immediate peace that filled her heart. She started to cry, and said for the first time that she felt the unconditional love of Jesus that had been drawing her heart to Him all along. THIS IS THE GOSPEL of Jesus at work. That no matter where you find yourself, you can call on Jesus & He will meet you with His unconditional love. The moment you put your hope and trust in Jesus, you are being transformed from the inside out. Even if everything else might be complicated, you can rest in the simple truth of the GOOD NEWS. Jesus loves you so much.

We pray that this album speaks to your heart in a way that only God can. We are believing that you would know the unconditional love of Jesus, and that these songs would compel you to a deeper relationship with Jesus.

ELEVATION RHYTHM is an essential part of the DNA of Elevation Church based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and sets the musical compass for Elevation’s younger generation of worshipers. After releasing a handful of songs like “QUIET” and the No. 1 Christian CHR / HOT AC radio single “NEVER WALK AWAY,” the group released their first full-length album, Growing Pains, in the spring of 2022. They followed that project with a fun, summer anthem, “AQUÍ ESTOY.” The group has released its sophomore album, This Is The Gospel. Unlike their emotionally-focused debut, This Is The Gospel, is not only a work of art but a testament to faith.

Make Good Use of Your Soul Wounds

Make Good Use of Your Soul Wounds

“I’m afraid,” the tearful young woman told me as we sat in my car. “I know I should be grateful we were able to get pregnant, and I am. But I’m terrified I’m going to be a terrible mother.”

I knew her story; how her childhood in a single parent home was marked by neglect and verbal abuse. I met her when she was eighteen and beginning to embrace a fully surrendered relationship with Christ. She chose to believe God’s truth when He said He loved her. That was enough. He was enough. She was enough. It was beautiful to see the transformation.

Ellie reminded me of a golden sunflower, the way she flourished during her college years. None of her friends were surprised when the man she married said that the first time he saw her he was drawn to her beautiful heart. He said her sense of calm confidence was irresistible.

And it still is.

That’s why it was a surprise when she and I were leaving her baby shower and she tearfully confessed her fear to me. She told me she was so frightened that her heart hurt.

My car was filled with gifts for her baby girl, and around us echoed the many blessings that had been spoken over her. To everyone else that evening she had appeared radiant and ready to step into the next season of her life. None of them would have guessed that deep inside, she was hiding a soul wound.

“A soul wound?” she repeated when I suggested that was the source of her pain. “What do you mean?”

“I think we all have soul wounds from times in our lives when the enemy tries to destroy us.”

I parked in front of her apartment, and we sat together in the stillness of the warm night with the windows open. The only sound was the rustling of the palm trees.

“Some soul wounds heal quickly,” I told her. “Others flare up when triggered, the way fear triggered yours tonight. Those fiery darts, aimed at your heart, need to be removed.”

She turned to me with tears still welling in her eyes.

“I want God to do that. I know He doesn’t give us a spirit of fear. He didn’t shoot the fiery darts at me. I want it to be gone. I want to heal completely.”

I reached for her hand. “Then tell Him.”

We prayed, and there was no doubt that God’s Spirit had done an important work in that moment. He removed the lies. He touched her tender heart, and the healing began. Fear was stripped of its power to torment her over the wounds from her childhood.

“How did you know that was what I needed?” she asked.

“I’ve been where you are. For many years I tried to hide the wounds from my childhood.”

She looked surprised. “I always thought you must have had an ideal childhood. You’re such a good mom. You and your daughter are so close.”

“The closeness I have with my children is the opposite of what I experienced while I was growing up. I was shamed for what I said or did or how I acted. Some awful things happened to me in my teen years, and I never told anyone. I knew I couldn’t say anything to my mom.”

“But you’re like a mom now to so many young women. How did you get there?”

I grinned. “I guess I made good use of my soul wound. I became the mom to my daughter that I always wished I’d had. You’ll do the same. Your relationship with your daughter will be completely different than what you experienced.”

The dim glow of the streetlight seemed to add warmth to our conversation as Ellie leaned against the headrest. We talked about how God gives us beauty for ashes and how He uses the difficult experiences in our lives to strengthen us on the inside so that we can be a help and encouragement to others who go through the same hurts.

Ellie isn’t the only young woman I’ve had this sort of conversation with. I noticed that many of them wanted to talk about the moment in their preteen years when they realized their body was changing. The way their mom did or didn’t come alongside them at the onset of puberty had a deep and lasting effect on how they viewed themselves and their bodies.

One woman in her 50s told me she knew the exact moment when she disconnected from her mom emotionally. It was the morning she woke up and found she’d started her period. She told her mom, and instead of a hug and some help, she was given a five-dollar bill and told to ride her bike to the store for supplies and bring back the change.

“From then on, I figured everything out for myself,” she said. “It took a long time before I let my mother know any of the important things that were happening in my life.”

Another woman told me she had thought she had cancer. I nodded and shared that cancer was my conclusion too. I was ten and had no idea why I was bleeding. When I told my mom, she said, “Don’t you know what that is?” The shame kept me in isolation.

“I felt isolated too,” The woman told me. “I kept my cycle a secret for months because I was so frightened. A girl at school finally told me what was happening, and she and her friends laughed at me for not knowing. After that, I felt I couldn’t trust my mother to protect me or be my go-to source for necessary life information.”

After hearing many similar stories, I decided to be preemptive when my daughter was nine. I set up a special party for the two of us to celebrate that her body would soon do what God created it to do. I explained just enough for her to understand and answered all her curious questions.

When she pulled the tissue paper from her gift bag, she found all the supplies she’d need along with her favorite chocolate, lip gloss, and a few other girly treats.

Our simple afternoon party allowed me to be the one who welcomed my daughter into womanhood. She and I still value that sacred moment. That was the day she leaned into me as her haven. I became the safe place she could always come to.

The pain I carried for so long from my own coming-of-age isolation was healed. Jesus did that. Is the scar still there? Yes. But I no longer feel the hurt.

What about you? Is it time for you to ask God to remove those fiery darts from where the enemy tried to take you down and let the healing begin? You will be amazed at what can happen when you begin to make good use of your soul wounds.

Robin Jones Gunn is the bestselling author of nearly one hundred books with more than 5.5 million copies sold worldwide. Her popular Christy Miller novels continue in the Christy & Todd: The Baby Years series. Robin’s passion for storytelling has taken her around the world—she’s been a keynote speaker in Africa, Brazil, Europe, and Australia as well as in Canada and the US. Among Robin’s nonfiction titles are Victim of Grace and Spoken For, which she coauthored with Alyssa Joy Bethke.

The Six Phases of Faith

The Six Phases of Faith

As a pastor, I’m most often asked this question: “Why is this happening to me? I don’t understand it. I thought I was pursuing God’s dream, but now I’m ready to give up.” Sound familiar? You see, when you don’t understand the six phases of faith, you may become resentful, even depressed. You will certainly worry. You may become fearful about the future. And, worst of all, you won’t be able to cooperate with what God wants to do in your life. But when you understand the six phases that God takes every believer through—and he takes us through them over and over—then you can say, “Oh, I see, I’m in stage four right now,” or stage six or stage two. You will understand what’s going on, and you’ll be less likely to get discouraged when times are tough.

So let me introduce you to the six phases of faith and their role in pursuing God’s dream. Then we will go deeper into each phase in the coming chapters.

Phase 1: Dream

How does God build your faith? He always starts with a dream. Nothing happens until you start dreaming. You have to get an idea, a vision, a goal, or a target. When God wants to work in your life, he gives you a dream about what he wants you to do and the impact he wants you to have in the world. In the next chapter, I will teach you how to figure out God’s dream for your life.

Phase 2: Decision

You have to make the decision to go for it! Nothing will happen to your dream until you wake up and put it into action. For every ten dreamers in the world, there is only one decision maker. The only way to move forward in faith is to decide to take a risk. In chapter 3, I will explain six biblical principles for making wise decisions.

Phase 3: Delays

When you pursue your dream, there is always a waiting period. Why does God make you wait? Because God wants to work on you before he works on your project. The purpose of the delay phase is to teach you to trust God and to be patient with his timing. How you handle God’s waiting rooms of life is a clear measure of the strength of your faith. In chapter 4, I will show you how to keep going when your dream is delayed.

Phase 4: Difficulties

Not only will you have to wait, but you will also have problems while you’re waiting. There are problems even when your dream lines up with God’s dream, because God is working on your faith and character. In chapter 5, I will share the dos and don’ts of dealing with difficulty. Finally, the difficulties become so bad that you come to your limit. You’ve tried everything, you’ve exhausted all your options…and now you’ve reached the fifth phase of faith.

Phase 5: Dead Ends

In the dead-end phase, the situation deteriorates from difficult to impossible. If you are at this stage, congratulations! You are in good company. Even the apostle Paul experienced dead ends. He wrote, “At that time we were completely overwhelmed, the burden was more than we could bear, in fact we told ourselves that this was the end. Yet we believe now that we had this experience of coming to the end of our tether that we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God who can raise the dead.” God not only can raise people from the dead physically but also can raise people from the dead emotionally. He can raise a dead marriage. He can resurrect a dead career. He can breathe new life where all hope has died. In chapter 6, I will show you how to hold on to your faith when you reach a dead end.

Phase 6: Deliverance

In the end, God delivers. He performs a miracle. He provides a solution. God loves to turn crucifixions into resurrections, hopelessness into victory, and dead ends into deliverance. Why? Because he gets the glory. In chapter 7, I will show you the key to deliverance.

You might be in phase three right now. You have a dream and have made the decision, but now it’s been delayed. You’re asking God, “Why hasn’t my prayer been answered yet?” If you’re in phase three, remember, you’re in God’s waiting room. Don’t detour, and don’t get ahead of God either. Wait for him to open the right door.

Perhaps you are in phase four—you are being tested. What difficulties are you facing while you wait for the dream to be fulfilled? God says, “I know exactly what you’re going through. I see it. I’m watching. Don’t think I’ve forgotten you, because I haven’t.”

Or maybe you are in phase five and are thinking, “I’ve hit the wall. I’m at a dead end. I’m ready to give up.” Well, you’re right where God wants you. God is saying to you, “Hang on! Keep on believing! Don’t give up!” You’re on the verge of phase six: deliverance.

Do you expect God to deliver you? God is faithful. What he promises to do, he will do. Where God guides, he provides. But it doesn’t happen overnight. You go through the phases of the dream, the decision, the delays, the difficulties, and the dead ends… and then comes the deliverance.

Where God guides, he provides.

Look again at this verse: “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” It’s as if God says to you, “Think of the greatest dream for your life—I can top it.” That’s the kind of dream God has for you. It’s bigger and better than any ambition, goal, or desire you could ever dream up on your own. Are you ready to do what God created you to do? God’s dream awaits you.

Taken from Created to Dream by Rick Warren. Copyright © (April 2023) by Zondervan Books. Used by permission of Zondervan, www.zondervan.com

Rick Warren is an innovative pastor, renowned author, and global influencer known for founding Saddleback Church, the Purpose Driven Network, the PEACE Plan, and Hope for Mental Health. He has written several best-selling books, including The Purpose Driven Life, which has sold over 35 million copies in 200 languages. Time magazine named Warren the most influential spiritual leader in America and one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Since stepping down from the lead pastor role at Saddleback in 2022, Warren has continued to inspire people through his Daily Hope Devotional and podcast Pastor Rick’s Daily Hope. His first book in a decade, Created to Dream, will release in April 2023.

About Sadie & Live Original

Sadie Robertson Huff is well known for her engaging smile and energetic personality, but there is a lot more to the 25-year-old star of A&E’s Duck Dynasty and runner up on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars season 19


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