Archives for posts with tag: testimony

I cry at the Hallmark channel and at the occasional country song, but even I was surprised when my eyes started to well up while checking Facebook the other day. A friend from long ago had posted a video made at her church, and it featured what they called cardboard testimonials.

It’s a simple concept, really. You cut up a cardboard box and on one side you write a problem you faced. On the other side, you write how God helped you through it. In my friend’s case, people took turns coming up to the front of the church. They showed their signs and then flipped them to show what God had done. One after another, after another.

  •  Breast cancer – survivor
  • Used drugs to feel good – Use God to feel ecstatic
  • Orphaned with no family – God provided a family
  • Brother killed by drunk driver – I have forgiven
  • $$$$ bondage – freedom obedience

For close to eight minutes the people stream by on the video, sharing some of the deepest parts of their souls in fewer than 10 words. I cried because of the pain they must have felt and I cried because I’m in love with hope, with overcoming the impossible. And every time the cardboard signs turned over, there she was – hope scratched in black marker.

I’m sure many of us could hold up our own signs. I know I would have trouble deciding on just one:

  •  Will I ever be loved? – married April 18, 2003
  • Drs said arm might not grow or move – played sports, trombone
  • The adoption isn’t going through – celebrating 5 years as family

I also have signs waiting for their happy endings, waiting for God to help me over, around – or even through – mountains of doubt and troubles. But those signs will come, too. Eventually I’ll be able to flip them over and share testimonies of hope.

My marker is ready.

car crashToday’s journal page is from Tammy Riedl, who knows something of hope. Nine months ago, her oldest son was in a car accident that ruptured his spleen, crushed all the bones in his left pelvis area, broke his arm, collapsed his lung and bruised his heart, liver and kidneys. He spent 22 days in the hospital but — when the cardboard sign flips over — he returned to work full-time in late December.

To download today’s journal page, click here.

Here’s a glimpse:

Tammy

Tina wanted to wait until her new home was unpacked to send pictures, but who can wait to tell the good news?

Tina has everything she needs.

“I have an entire bedroom set — even a washer and dryer,” she told me as she unpacked and settled in to a borrowed home. “We still need a couch and a love seat but those are coming in another week. We may have to buy a hot water tank, we’re not sure… oh, wait, no we won’t. Dad just said he’d buy one for us if we need it.”

In the week since the wildfire, her voice has grown stronger and our conversation has gone from worry and uncertainty to celebration and gratitude.

“People have responded like crazy,” she said, still in awe of how folks opened their hearts and their homes to help her. Now, when she and Lee return from their honeymoon they’ll have a two-bedroom house waiting for them. “God is great,” Tina said.

And they’ll know that they aren’t starting their new lives alone.

We’re all standing with them.

 

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. 

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” — Matthew 25: 35-40 (NIV)

 

 

Sometimes the darkness of depression seems insurmountable and that’s where Tina has been this year — right there in the middle of a lost job, a battle with Lyme disease and the grief of losing her future mother-in-law. It was piling on, layer after dark layer. And then last week brought the life-threatening sting of a wasp and the all-too-close escape from the wildfire.

“I’ve almost died twice this week, but God saved me,” Tina said, her voice still weak from the smoke and allergies. “I know I’m here for a reason.”

So, even though the wildfire stole her beautiful trees and her home, it’s given her a new confidence in exchange.

“Share the story of my depression,” she urged. “I want them to know what a loving God we have and that He’s never left me.” Tell them that people have been donating. That Lee’s boss gave him money. That your friend is sending money for wedding shoes. Maybe it will help somebody else who is depressed, she said.

And so I share it all.

I know that Tina’s road won’t be an easy one. Depression isn’t something that disappears after a sunny day or two. Unfortunately, it’s a slippery opponent to wrestle with, one that seems to wiggle away and rise from the mat again and again. But now every time she slides her feet into donated shoes or dries her hair on a towel from my sister’s closet, she’ll know she’s loved by God and by all of us.

“Thank you” seems small in comparison to what you’ve graciously given, but they are the only words I have.

Thank you for helping my dear friend. Thank you. Thank you.

You can still help by praying for her strength and courage and wisdom. A family member has offered a home to them. It needs a bit of work but Lee hopes to have it ready in a week or so. If you live nearby, she could use any of your extra household items, like linens, kitchen supplies or furniture. They can all be dropped off at her parents’ house near Sapulpa,Okla. “I don’t care if I have to sleep on the floor,” she said. “At least we have a place of our own.”

She was able to save some pictures, but I’m sure she’d appreciate copies of any photos you might have of her or of her family and friends. She’s very sentimental and those things mean a lot to her.

For me, church is not just a building or even a group of people who worship and serve together – it’s something that happens.

As a kid I went to a rustic church camp tucked away in the hills of Arkansas. When my youth group first started going there, the cabins didn’t have air conditioning and you needed to wear rubber-soled flip flops in the shower to avoid a slight shock.

The centerpiece of the camp was the chapel and it had only a dirt floor and a tin roof. No walls. No frills. One night, it started to storm. Rain came down in sheets and slammed into the tin roof, making it almost impossible to hear anything else. Within minutes of the start of service water ran down the aisles and formed puddles among the uncomfortable pews.

But just when it seemed worthless to stay and try to listen, a man stood to sing the old Southern hymn “When the Roll is Called up Yonder.” It was as if he had swallowed a microphone. His deep voice carried from the front of that soaked little chapel all the way to the back, and as the words from the song washed over the congregation, things began to change. Teenagers started standing and thanking God for the changes they had seen in their lives, for the times he had helped them through rough spots and for the love he shared with them.  Gratitude and grace entered the room and there, amid the mud and the rain, church happened –creating a moment that God might want to be part of, something sacred, powerful and unforgettable.

I’ve been back many times to that little chapel that now has a cement floor and a new roof. I’ve spent time in the opulence and beauty of the Vatican. I’ve had thoughtful conversations with groups of friends, and I’ve stood alone in my modest kitchen with just the buzzing of the refrigerator. In all of those places I’ve had extraordinary moments when I’ve felt close to God and faith has come alive for me.

Hopefully I’ll have many more moments like that, wherever God would like to meet me.

I love hearing why people love God. Won’t you send us your own video to share?

Listen as my friend Nathaniel Ferguson talks about the comfort he finds in God…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c0v_O6PHIE

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