“We talk about the fires or hard things we walk through, the ashes we have to sift through, and then the beauty that we find in unexpected ways from the stories that God has written for our lives” ~Heather Lobe Johnson
The podcast I am reviewing this week is called “Take These Ashes: Finding True Hope in Our Suffering, with host Heather Lobe Johnson and guest Kristin Vanderlip.” Kristin is a writer and author of “Life Worth Living, A Daily Growth Journal.” Helping woman to develop a steadfast faith and love of the Lord.
Kristin begins by sharing her story. As I started to get into my relationship with God, which began as a Catholic, I became more of a rule follower. I knew Jesus came to offer you this abundant life, He is going to save you from sin and bring you peace, abundance, and prosperity. All of those things worked well for me until they didn’t. Until I got a real dose of suffering. Years later I realized that part of my suffering was tied to my expectations that God was going to protect me from suffering.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
“On December 1st our daughter was born. She had quite a few medical issues. The statistical evidence that was thrown at me in light of my faith was hard for me to believe, in light of God who can do the impossible, was very hard for me spiritually. She did pass away at a month old. We had no support system; we were in Alabama for only 6 months. The unexpected loss of a child, loss of my career, loss of community, more loss than I could ever imagine. As if that was not enough, a couple of weeks later my Dad passed away from cancer at age 60. I felt like God where are you, how could you allow this to happen, where is the abundant life, where is the protection?”
“In the midst of my grief, I kept turning to God because I felt His presents, His undeniable peace, when it didn’t make sense.”
Part of my healing was I had to stop resisting suffering, I had to reframe it in a way as it is not punishment, it doesn’t mean you are not loved or cared for by God. To see suffering as an invitation and move forward in life and anticipating more troubles are going to come and they are going to hurt and they are going to be unexpected but I will know without a doubt that God’s spirit will help me persevere. That has been the most transformative.”
Heather interjects, “On a practical level are there other things that have been a comfort to you or other places that you have seen God in the hardships you have walked through?”
Kristin explains, “Every day I started off with a prayer ‘God save me from this, God stop the pain.’ I wanted a miraculous healing for my broken heart, I didn’t want to feel the pain anymore. When I realized this is going to be a process, it didn’t mean I stopped praying, my prayers shifted, to be more aware of your spirit and of your goodness.”
“In the loneliness I turned to writing, I was journaling and writing. The gift of loneliness was growing in intimacy with God.”
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
Kristin created a beautiful journal, which helped her during her time of suffering. She describes it here:
“Journaling can be such a transformative practice. If you are a writer or not, you should give it a try. Most of my journaling is pouring my heart out onto the pages.”
“I ended up using the tools from therapy and understanding scripture more. I made this journal for myself and it has 3 basic parts.”
- Pour out your struggles in a safe space to share your heart.
- Then you pause to think more action oriented, to think about the growth or overcoming that you are seeing in your life. Not to just get to the end but in a way that gives you hope to see this transformation. Pay attention to what the Lord is changing in you.
- It ends with thinking about what is good, it can be a promise of God that you are focusing on or the cup of coffee you made for yourself that morning, or the text message from a friend that stands out.
Heather wraps up the podcast by thanking Kristin for sharing and stating, “It helps you to see that there is something I control or a promise I can hold onto to.”
This podcast had such rich godly guidance and real-life struggles that I chose to give you the highlights of it and no additional commentary. This was only a third of the actual podcast, Heather speaks more about her story and they both talk about how scripture has promoted healing in both of their lives and how it displayed God’s hand at work in their suffering.
Links to the podcast, Kristin’s journal, and how to connect with Heather and Kristen are all below. I pray this episode along with part one, with Jodi Rosser and Dorina Gilmore, will aid you in discovering God walking along side you everyday.
An amazing story, I was blown away, click below to read it:
Take These Ashes podcast with Heather Lobe-Johnson and Kristin Vanderlip.
Kristin Vanderlip’s journal, “Life Worth Living: A Daily Growth Journal”
Follow Kristin on Instagram
Follow Heather on Instagram
Follow me on Instagram