by Susan Tuttle
Life can be hard, even unfair at times. Moments when other people blow into our lives and leave a trail of destruction behind. The question is, what do we do with the mess they leave behind?

Tamar, daughter of Kind David, experienced this. A princess, beautiful…her life full of promise until her brother Amnon’s lust got in the way. Amnon only saw what he wanted and took it, never once thinking of Tamar’s pain. He left her on his doorstep, broken. In the aftermath, out of her shame and disgrace, Tamar tore her gown and threw ashes on her head, an outward sign of her misery over what Amnon had taken from her.

Another brother, Absalom, found her, but rather than defending her he used her disgrace for his own plot of revenge against the brother he hated. He didn’t hold Amnon accountable, but rather told Tamar to keep quiet and go to his home. Her father, King David, even heard of what happened but did not stand up for her. The last words of Tamar’s story break my heart: “And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.” (2 Samuel 13:20)

No one told her any differently. A path of destruction wove through her life, and she didn’t know how to pick up the pieces. Alone. Forsaken. Taking on a shame that wasn’t hers. Have you ever felt her pain?

You don’t have to.

There is One who wants to replace the ashes of your broken life with beauty. One who wants to comfort and champion you. Listen to these words from Isaiah 61:

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
     to proclaim freedom for the captives
     and release from darkness for the prisoners,
  2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
     and the day of vengeance of our God,
     to comfort all who mourn,
  3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion--
      to bestow on them a crown of beauty
      instead of ashes,
      the oil of joy
      instead of mourning,
      and a garment of praise
      instead of a spirit of despair.
                          (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Read that again. Look at how He wishes to clothe you. Instead of ashes—a crown of beauty. In place of your cloak of despair—a garment of praise. And He desires to pour His joy over you, letting it wash away your mourning.

The pain you’re living in right now, the desolation, it was never meant to be. Yes, there are hurts that cut so deeply they need time to heal. But allow Him to heal them. Allow Him to comfort you. Because He didn’t mean for you to live a desolate life. Beloved, He loves you too much for that. While “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy: [He] came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Not desolation. But abundance.

Things may happen to us that we have no choice over. But we do have a choice over how we respond to them. What will be the last sentence of your life? That you lived as a desolate woman? Or that you allowed God to heal you and lived an abundant life?

Don't let the enemy steal one more moment! Pick abundance and let His healing being.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

by Susan Tuttle

Depression. An easy place to slip into. An incredibly hard valley to climb out of.

There are so many different layers to depression. We can walk in it for a day, or find ourselves trapped in it for years. For some, there is no easy fix. Yet, God equips us to fight our depression. And, whether it's a one day battle or a daily battle, God will defeat it for us if we let Him.

Depression seeks to separate you from those around. In isolation, battles are hard to fight. Alone, there is no accountability for your thoughts and actions. Together, there is safety and strength. Matthew 18:19 reminds us that when "two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. " So get yourself a prayer partner and start praying. God wants to win this battle for you, and He doesn't want you doing it alone.

Depression whispers names God never called you.  Look back at Naomi, I spoke about her in one of my first posts. Naomi pulled her name from her depression - she called herself Bitter. Yet, remember, God never did. Elsewhere in the Bible, whenever He gave a new name, it was used over and over again in scripture. When Naomi changed her name, it wasn't used again. Scripture - which is God breathed - continued to refer to her as Naomi. Don't let your depression rename you.

Depression drains all your strength. But Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that the "joy of the Lord is our strength." So start praising. Even though you don't feel like it. Start counting your blessings. Somedays it's just one tiny step forward. One word of praise you repeat over and over. That's okay. You have to start somewhere. Begin to grow that spiritual muscle, because our strength is found in the opposite of depression - it's found in JOY! Practice joy ~ until you're really good at it, then practice some more.

I think worst of all, though, is how depression can make us feel a million miles from God, as if we’re wandering around in the wilderness on a moonless night. I don't like the darkness. I never have. Maybe because we were created for light. And though depression can shroud us in a cloak of darkness for far too long, we have a light. But we need to watch for Him. Listen:

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation
My God will hear me.
Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy
Though I fall I will rise;
Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me. (Micah 7:6-8)

Cling to His promise. Expect Him. He hears your voice and though this moment may be dark, His light is coming. Watch for it. His stubborn love will never stop pursuing you, and His light will never dim.

By Marie Wells Coutu

A favorite game for many children is to step on someone else's shadow. They like to sneak up, step on the shadow, and run away.

When we know that someone has influenced the lives of many people, we might say she cast a long shadow. Like a child, we may want to touch the shadow of that person, as if something about her would rub off on us.

The thing about shadows, though, is that they are not real. There is no substance that we can feel. A shadow is only an image or representation caused by another object that partially blocks the light.

Shadows always seem bigger than life. Yet without a source of light, no shadow can exist.

Someone pointed out recently that the beloved 23rd Psalm talks about walking through, not the "valley of death," but "the valley of the shadow of death." The distinction, I think, is significant.

Your shadow of death may involve grief over losing a loved one, failure in your marriage or job, or even facing your own mortality. The valley is painful emotionally, but the Bible promises that it is not permanent. Whatever blocks the light will move on and the shadow will pass, eventually.

Sometimes a shadow actually provides protection. On a scorching summer day, we look for the shade where we can be protected from the sun's rays.

God says, "I have... covered you with the shadow of my hand” (Isaiah 51:16, NIV). Even the shadow of His hand is enough to protect us from evil, fear, or worry if we seek the shelter He offers.

As Christians, we seek to walk in God’s Light. When we are afraid or upset, we can find comfort and rest in the shadow of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Allow His shadow to pass over you today and receive His healing comfort.





by Susan Tuttle
As women, we are busy little bees, aren't we? We try and fix problems--even ones that aren't ours. We worry over what's over the next horizon. Maybe we try and pile our good deeds high enough that we can't see our past through them. Yet, none of this is what God envisioned for us.

In repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15

This verse has been swirling through my mind a lot lately. 

First of all, God doesn't want us to work for our salvation. When we mess up, all He asks is that we repent. Then rest in His promise that it's forgotten, covered by His blood. There's nothing more we need to do. Just rest in Him.

Then there are times where we fall into the craziness of life. We work at a problem that's staring us down. Or someone around us is hurt and we want to help. Maybe we're trying to get to where God wants us to be, but don't want to wait on Him, so we scurry around trying to find the next step. All the while God is simply asking us to sit quietly and trust Him. Trust that He has it all under control. 

See, sometimes the best action is inaction. To hand all the balls we are juggling over to Him and trust that He won't drop them. Then sit back, stop our action, slow our minds, close our mouths and just quietly be in His presence. All too often, God is in the quiet and we cover Him with our noise.

Today, whatever you're struggling with, set it aside and rest in Him. Find the quiet today. He's there.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

by Susan Tuttle
Did you know that when you come to God you’re not perfect? Even after He saves us by grace? But aren’t we great at living in guilt when we make the same mistakes over and over.

I want to go back today to one of the verses I used last time. I want to get this in your head. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come, the old is gone, the new is here!”.  You are no longer who you were, you are brand-spanking-new in His eyes. So don't let the old you guilt you--yes, you’re still going to mess up--but now those messes belong to God and it's amazing what He can do with them!

See, sometimes when we come to God, He immediately delivers us from a habitual sin. But other times, He allows us to keep it, and work at changing that habit. I believe He has two reasons for this. One is to keep us connected to Him. The only way we can change our damaging habits is to rely daily on Him, and in doing so, our relationship with Him grows. 

The second reason is for His grace to shine through us. Paul had a great passage on this in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 as he talks about the “thorn” in his flesh. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
You belong to God, but you are still wrapped in flesh. You will make mistakes…maybe even more than one each day (I know, believe me). But when you do, allow yourself to feel God’s grace, to accept it. Don’t beat yourself up those times you stumble and perhaps fall.  Before, when you’d fall, you alone had to pick yourself up. Now, God reaches down His hand and grabs you with His strength. You’ll never be perfect here on this earth, but when you allow Him to shine through your mistakes, you become a perfect picture of His grace at work. And that’s a beautiful thing.

By Marie Wells Coutu

Words have power.

The familiar children’s adage proclaims, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

But that is a lie. No doubt the saying has been used by well-meaning mothers and teachers to make children feel better about being taunted and teased, but the truth is that words can hurt.

They can also soothe and heal.

The way that we make a friend is by sharing our thoughts and feelings and lives—especially through our words. God wants us to know Him because He loves us. Perhaps that is why He chose to write His Word on our hearts. Just as a potter might put her signature on the bottom of a vase, so God our Maker signs each life with His unseen mark. By inscribing his name on us, He has given us a sign of His love. We have only to look for His imprint in our lives, and we can begin to know Him.

When Jesus came into the world, the Word became visible. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:1, 14, NIV). His physical body provided us a way to see and relate to God. It’s much easier to communicate with God through the man Jesus than if we only knew Him as Spirit. Similarly, we can converse with one who is the Word more easily than if He were only “thoughts.” Words have substance and shape. They have identifiable characteristics. They represent order.

Finally, God gave us His Word, the Bible. In it, we learn about His plan for humanity, His eternal truths, and the laws He provided for our benefit. These laws form the basis for all of civilized society.

In giving us His Word, God showed us every aspect of His love. He wrote this love letter to us with the blood of His only Son.

Any message that contradicts His declaration of love for you is false as that children’s rhyme. Such lies do more than break bones; they break hearts and spirits. But the Word of God can heal and restore. Stop listening to the falsehoods that devalue you. Listen only to His Words of love.

What words of deception have you listened to, and what truth will you believe instead?
by Susan Tuttle

Do you know that you are loved? Before we can talk about healing, we need a foundation. One to build on. Love is a great place to start.

Don’t allow yourself to believe that your sin is too big for Him.  Christ knew we were sinners and yet He took on the cross for us. I love Romans 5:8, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  He knew we could not do it alone. He knew we were imperfect people…sinners. Yet His love was bigger than our sins. He died so His blood could cover our sins, and we could step into His presence. All He asks is that we acknowledge Him as Lord and invite Him into our lives.

And here’s the best part, when you do that—believe in Him—nothing can separate you from Him. Once you call on His name, ask Him into your life, nothing will ever separate you from God.  Romans 8:38 & 39 says “…neither death, nor life, neither angels or demons, neither present or 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.” 

I want you to notice something in that passage. Among the things listed is “neither present or future”. Why doesn’t it mention our past?  Well, I want to give you one more scripture that always helps me.  2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old is gone, the new is here!”  The moment you accept Christ, your past is wiped clean, covered with His blood, seen no more. We struggle with that as humans, but let’s be clear—God doesn’t.  It is over. Finished. No more.  He doesn’t need to mention our past because it’s gone.

Beloved, this world is a tough place.  But God is bigger. And He loves you. Believe in that love today. Fall into it, find comfort in it. It’s where the healing can begin.

By Marie Wells Coutu

Every year about this time, the dead flowers are removed from this flower bed at an office building near me, leaving a wide brown swath of dirt for a few days. Then some fall flowers are planted to replace the ones that don’t thrive in this spot where hey get full sun.

This year, they did add the elephant ear on the ends, which have done pretty well. But for some reason, each spring the flowers of choice are ones that really would prefer a shadier location.

Do you ever repeat the same old mistakes, year after year, month after month, even day after day? I know I do.

Sometimes I plead ignorance—I just don’t realize that what I’m doing is dumb, or wrong, or hurtful to someone I love. Other times, I know that my actions are not pleasing to God, but I choose to continue because I’m weak. Or just because, deep down, I don’t want to change.

But the good news is that God can help us avoid making the same mistakes over and over again, if we ask. King David wrote in Psalm 19:12-13, “Who can notice every mistake? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep me from sinning. Do not let anyone gain control over me. Then I will be blameless, and I will be free from any great offense” (GWT).

Not only will He keep us from sinning, but He will forgive even those offenses that no one else knows about. And once He forgives, we become sin-free in God’s eyes.

Instead of planting the same flowers in the wrong place, I’m going to ask God to help me plant beautiful flowers in the right places—in the lives of others. I trust Him to change my heart so that I want to make the effort to control my tongue, my mind, and my heart.

What repeated mistake will you ask Him to help you with today?

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in Him.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment, because in this world we are like him.  There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
I John 4:16-18

By Vera Warren Carroll

In this world that far is from the perfect world God intended, we have mind-boggling opinions and versions of love.  A child disobeys and ignores the parents’ instructions but says, “Mom, Dad, I love you.”  A husband abuses his wife and returns with flowers and a smile saying, “I love you.”  A mother disciplines a child with a brutal beating that leaves cuts, bruises and sometimes broken arms or ribs and says, “I do this because I love you.”  We live in a society where a young woman will chase after a young man who often ignores her publicly, doesn’t call unless it’s to his advantage, and belittles her in front of others, but the young woman only remembers the kind and loving words he shares during their intimate moments and says, “He loves me.”  This type of love operates out of fear.  Perhaps this is why many are confused about their love for God.

God doesn’t have to rely on tricks and mind games to show His love.  He doesn’t have to expose you to all manner of mental and physical abuse and say, “I do it because I love you.”  His love cannot be imperfect in any way.  Yet many see the confusion of life and its troubling events as reflecting God’s love, and they respond to God in a confused and abusive manner.     

God’s love for you can be seen in His Word and all that He does and promises to do for you.  He is sovereign, so He cannot make a mistake, He cannot lie, and He’s all knowing, supreme, powerful and absolute.  He doesn’t have to try to love you; He loves you.  He sacrificed His Son because of His love for you.  He gave you His Word that is alive and active if we will just read it, believe it, and receive it, walking in complete confidence of His love.

God is moved by your love for Him but not your manipulative love.  We often try to end our trials of life by trying to manipulate God to show His love for us by fixing our problems.  But God is looking for your complete confidence in His love.  He only wants to know how much you love Him.  Throughout the Bible nations and individuals experienced great problems, but God’s love for them never changed.  He loved them.  What changed their lives is when they stepped out on faith and trusted God, Who showed perfect love that destroyed any fear they had.  He was moved by their perfect love through faith in Him.

We want God to see our love much like the abusive mother or husband, the disobedient child or the young man who is only nice when it’s to his advantage.  We say we love God but we disobey Him, abuse Him with our words and don’t have time for Him unless we have a need and it’s to our advantage.  Our love for Him becomes more about us and what we want.

Do we really love Him? How will he know?

A song by Angelo and Veronica says, “The only way He’ll know is how I live.”  As the song says, we say we love Him and that we care.  We go to church, know the scriptures, and know all the right words to say, but the truth is, “The only way God will know how much we love Him is how we live.”

Do you love Him?

©2011 Vera Warren Carroll

By Susan Tuttle

I’ve thought a lot about names lately. As women, we so often wear a name tag we never were meant to wear. God’s been working with me on this one, and I want to share something.

I recently read Ruth. There’s a lot of great lessons in that book. But what jumped out at me was how Naomi renamed herself Mara, which means bitterness. She had a beautiful name that meant pleasant or delightful, and she allowed her circumstances to rename her. Now, God renamed several people in the Bible: Abraham, Sarah, Jacob…but here is an instance of someone renaming herself.

Maybe just like Naomi, you’ve renamed yourself. Maybe Bitterness, like her. Or maybe it’s Insignificant, Ugly, Worthless…oh, satan is full of names we’re never meant to wear. But, read Ruth. Go on, read it. Naomi renames herself, but nowhere else in scripture is that name used. She is still called Naomi throughout the entire book. See, all scripture is God-breathed (Timothy 3:16), which means that even though Naomi tried hard to call herself by a new name, God never did—because He knew it wasn’t her name. She'd chosen it. He hadn't given it.

Are you wearing a name you’ve given yourself? One you aren’t supposed to have? Rip off that name tag. It’s not yours! God has a name for you, don’t scribble it out and write your own on top. The one He’s given you is much too beautiful to cover.
©2011 Susan Tuttle

Susan Tuttle is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of three whom God has filled with a passion to reach hurting women and draw them to His healing hands.