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In My Weakness, He is Strong

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By Lindsey Snader
With anticipation of a natural birth with baby #2 in January 2017, normal labor quickly turned into an unexpected and frightening emergency c-section. Baby girl was finally born and perfectly healthy, but I was unprepared for the challenging recovery ahead. The weeks following required a lot of pain medication, I needed an adult with me every day for 6+ weeks, and I felt like I couldn’t adequately take care of my toddler and infant. Emotionally, I also tried to let go of the birth I hoped for and just be thankful that she and I made it through. Nonetheless, I felt so tired and weak—physically and emotionally. Worship song lyrics often played in my mind, “Lord I need you, oh I need you”…“I’m tired, I’m worn.” Thankfully, by summertime, I started to feel a little more like myself.
Then, near the end of summer, I got poison on my hands. Poison led to steroids and antibiotics, meds led to a terribly itchy rash on my hands, the rash led to more meds, more meds led to rashes…

Hope for the Hard Holidays

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Guest Post for Deeply Rooted Magazine

By Kara Ranck

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year! There'll be much mistltoeing, and hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near… ” proclaims the famous Christmas song by Andy Williams. But are those words true of your holiday?
Stop for a minute and picture your favorite Christmas memory from childhood. For many of us, our childhood memories of Christmas appear magical. This was back before we understood that carols might be drowning out intense adult conversations, or that twinkling lights blinded us to the angry looks passed between relatives. Back before we knew the realities of life in a fallen world with fallen people—even during “the most wonderful time of the year.”
We desperately long to go back to those magical memories, because we know now holidays can be hard. Many of us try to replicate those past enchanted celebrations for our own family and children, but end up feeling like we fail simply because our image of the perfect h…

Unchained

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By Ryan Forbes June 15th, 2003 I was staring out of the window of my prison cell lost, hopeless, and void. Void of anything even remotely resembling love. As I continued to gaze at the dimly lit street outside of my window, I remember thinking about my Dad, about his life, and his battle with alcoholism. Not completely sure how I knew, but I was acutely aware that his childhood and his upbringing was probably not the greatest experience, and that my family of origin was steeped in the dysfunction of the collective abuse and trauma of generations past.
I was angry. I was tired. I was lost.
During that era of my life, I was in my early twenties and used to listen to a rock band named, Staind. The group had an album at the time named “Breaking the Cycle.” As I was recalling my life and the path that I had been going down—I remember thinking about the name of the album and thinking that I wanted to “Break the Cycle.” Break the cycle of drug and alcohol addiction. Break the cycle of physical …

A Christmas Fogged with Grief

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By Elizabeth Witmer

“Father, I haven’t been following You or relying on You as I should. Please help me to find closeness with you as I turn my focus back on You and seek you more. Revive my heart again.” “Lord, I’m not sure exactly how to begin or even what I’m asking for right now. I feel like there is some distance between us and I’m not sure exactly why. Please rid me of my self- centeredness and give me a more tender, compassionate heart.” “Father, I have wandered away from You. Teach me how to communicate better with You.”
These are just a few excerpts from my prayer journal in the fall of 2013. I had no idea
how God would answer these requests and this searching for a deeper relationship with Him.

It was November 11, 2013, and my husband and I were excited and a little nervous to be
having our first ultrasound to finally see our first baby. We were in for a big surprise when the ultrasound tech announced that I was carrying—not one—but two babies.

December 7, 2013, I finally had an appoi…

The Real Holiday

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By Nancy High Engel

We walked into my sister Carol’s house, not knowing what the next few minutes would hold. Looking around—my nieces and nephews with downcast eyes, my parents softly crying, my sister’s face registering shock and sadness. I looked at my brother-in-law Darell, and he gently shook his head.

It began as a normal Christmas day. My immediate family gathered at our house for a simple breakfast followed by exchanging of gifts. Shortly before lunch, we headed to Carol’s house for dinner, games, gifts and our traditional shrimp supper. My whole family was going to be there except for my brother Marlin’s wife who was spending Christmas with her family out of state. Everything was fine…until it wasn’t. Marlin was gone.
Late in the morning we became aware that none of us had heard from Marlin for a few days. Though he was very independent and sometimes unpredictable, family was important to him. We knew he wouldn’t miss Christmas, if possible. When he didn’t respond to texts or ph…

The Freedom of Forgiveness

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By Joel Kime


The crime November 3, 1991, was a beautiful fall day—cool, clear, and crisp. After church my brother, Jeff, and I shoveled down dinner and rushed out the door to play football with our youth group. Along the way to the game, we picked up some friends. Though only 17, I thought I was the best driver in the nation as I steered our car on to a local country road.
We crested a small hill and saw an Amish horse and buggy ahead of us (a common sight in Lancaster, PA.). I thought to myself, “I’m going to blow by these guys!” I stomped on the gas, accelerating to 70-75 mph, steering the car into the left lane to pass the buggy. As we raced closer to the buggy, I will never, ever forget seeing the nose of the horse turning towards me, and I instantly knew they were trying to turn. I wasn’t even watching for their turn signal, nor did I see the small country road they were attempting to turn into.
Instinct took over as I slammed my foot down on the brake pedal. The brakes locked and…

Clinging to Christ When Your Child has Cancer

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By Danielle Munoz I rested in the glow of the Christmas tree with my newborn son, my heart close to bursting. A week ago he arrived, adding even more delight to the Advent season. Yet even in that joy I couldn’t shake the growing unease over my daughter. 

As my baby boy strongly kicked and cooed, she appeared to be slowly deteriorating before my eyes. First, a bloody nose. Random bleeding gums. Then bruises—one, two, three, and several more popping up in unusual places. 

These can’t be from her usual clumsiness, can they?

Despite these warning signs, she remained the ever-bubbly, bright, outgoing toddler, quieting my doubts.

But at one point, as I spotted another concerning bruise, a word rushed into my mind seemingly out of nowhere—leukemia. I knew next to nothing about its symptoms, but God in his grace was preparing me. 

Days later, when the church nursery said she uncharacteristically laid down too tired to play and a low fever creeped up, we knew a doctor visit was due. 

By his providen…