God is near

There have been a couple of times in my life when I have learned and then re-learned the importance of leaning on the Lord. Most recently, I was reminded of this during the last year. For those of you who know me well, you know that about a year and a half ago, my husband and I moved away from Santa Rosa to the Sacramento area. There were several reasons for our move that seemed smart at the time…including moving for my husband’s work and to bring my mom closer to where my brother lives.

Once moved, we tried to find a church. In fact, I think we bounced around to maybe all the churches in town! For some reason, though, none of them seemed like a fit. We kept on trying, though because we understood how important it is to stay connected with other believers. Hebrews 10:25 tells us to “…not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” When we first moved there, I had no idea how much that verse would come to mean to me.

During this time, we faced some challenges and trials in our family…the first of which shattered our world. Our daughter decided to remove herself from our family and we were, and still are, utterly devastated. Since we were new in the area and had not made any connections, we felt we had no one to turn to. I felt isolated and alone. Yes, I had my husband…but in the hours when he was at work, I had just my own thoughts to keep me company. And at the time, my thoughts were too painful bear. Loneliness and despair settled in.

The enemy likes to keep us isolated. He wants us to be unhappy and to feel as if we have nowhere to turn — that we have no hope. So when my world turned dark, he was having a hay-day. Little things that normally wouldn’t have bothered me began to pile up and my stress level and depression increased.

We need the Body of Christ.

God made us for community and I so wanted to feel better. I knew that being able to connect with others in my new home would have helped me to get my mind off of my pain, but I knew no one. I didn’t know where to turn… So, thankfully, I turned my focus to God. I was daily in prayer. In fact, I poured my heart out to Him day after day…hour after hour. I read the Bible, focusing on the Psalms. Through them, He spoke words of courage and comfort to me.

My situation was still there. My pain and feelings of loss were still there, but so was my God. I was not alone! God chose me to be adopted into His family and He wasn’t going to toss me aside no matter what was happening in my life.

Paul reminds us that God’s love is never ending. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present or the future nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38)

As I prayed for God to take away my pain – to heal me – to bring me out of my isolation…He started to unwrap His plan. Surprisingly, the first thing that God did, was to bring me encouragement and friendship through an online community!

I’m a blogger and I’ve used my blog over the years to share the things that God has taught me. I firmly believe that our experiences and lessons learned should be shared in order to build up the Body for Christ. I want people to see how excited I am about God and what He has done in my life, and be encouraged and in turn, seek Him.

Anyway, one day I went to my computer, opened it up and started writing. I poured out my feelings of loss to an unknown audience. I didn’t know if anyone would even read my blog that day…but wouldn’t you know it? God brought exactly the right women to it on that particular day. I had responses from women whom I had never heard from before…people I didn’t know, but all part of the family of faith. So many of them understood exactly what I was going through and had experienced the very same things I had been experiencing that year. It was pretty amazing.

My isolation lessened through the support and encouragement of sisters in Christ from all parts of the world. They listened to me and prayed for me. They offered scriptures and kind words right when I needed it the most. Now, a year later, I consider these women, whom I’ve never even met face to face, to be true friends. (And if you are reading this today, you know who you are! Thank you so much for allowing Christ to shine His light through you to help my hurting heart!)

Community is so important. I don’t think I understood that fully until my season of isolation last year. If I’ve taken anything away with me through this experience, it is to be purposeful in forming connections. I’ve learned to be transparent and open. I don’t need to be afraid to share the feelings in my heart. I learned that when I trusted God, and reached out…in this case, through my blog… I was helped so much. The connections formed were God-planned and life-saving.

Now that God has graciously brought us back to Santa Rosa, I’m doing a happy dance! I love being home with our church family and “face to face” friends. Because of what I learned over the last year, I find that I am more open and willing to participate. I think that is because I have learned the value of community, fellowship and being connected with others, which is how God planned it to be.

“From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:16

In His Grip, Joan


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After many years living in California’s Central Valley, Joan and her husband now make their home in Northern California. Hiking the hills is one of her favorite past times and she enjoys exploring the great outdoors, marveling at the wonders of God’s creation all around. As a young mother, Joan felt God’s tug on her heart and accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior, and over the years has been learning just “how wide and high and deep God’s love really is” (Ephesians 3:18). Through both smooth and challenging times, Joan has seen God’s faithfulness at work. One of her favorite sayings is, “God never wastes a hurt”, and has discovered that God uses all things to further His purpose and plan. Joan is active in Women’s Ministries at her church and is passionate about sharing the truth that we can never fall so far that we are beyond the reach of God. There are no lost causes. He loves us all. It doesn’t matter how rocky our pasts; God will always lovingly accept us when we surrender our lives to Him. With Christ, we can live a life of abundant joy and purpose simply by knowing and experiencing Him through His mercy, grace and unfailing love.

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