The Playground: Five Truths to Remember

The brightly colored church playground equipment stood stable and strong against the backdrop of the setting sun. I had just dropped off my son Jon at “Fun Zone,” our church’s monthly respite program for families with special needs. It’s four enormous hours of fun for the kids—four extraordinary hours of renewal for caregivers.

(Photo Courtesy of

I slowly passed the playground and was greeted by a swell of emotions; yellow swings, red ladders, climbing bars, and tiny tunnels—usually smothered with Sunday school kids—were empty, still, and silent. I stopped and wondered once again what the language of tears was trying to say.

Jon has never played on that playground because it’s built for “typical” kids. However, he’s had plenty of play time elsewhere. Jon hasn’t gone to summer and winter camp with the typical kids, but he’s had adventures with his family. Then I realized the tears weren’t about playgrounds or campgrounds; they were about continuing to release what I had expected, what I had planned, and how I envisioned life for my son.

How Life Is “Supposed” to Be

Expectations are those hopes, beliefs, dreams, plans, and desires we have about life . . . the way life is supposed to work. But as life unfolds and as God allows, the unexpected happens and things fall apart.

Who expects . . .

  • The loss of a child?
  • A heated divorce?
  • A suicide?
  • Abuse?
  • Financial ruin?
  • Poor health or the incurable disease?
  • Betrayal or injustice?
  • Mental instability?
  • Alzheimer’s?
  • The closing casket?

After situations like these, life is blurry for a while. Extreme emotions burst in on us. We question what we were once so certain about. And we get easily distracted, ending up feeling distraught, tired, angry, bewildered, fearful, anxious, lonely, despairing, empty, and worst of all . . . hopeless.

Sometimes God doesn’t seem like a present help or loving Father, which can be the most confusing part of all.

You Have to Believe There Is a Purpose

With empty hands and broken hearts, there is purpose in it all. If nothing else, you have to believe there is purpose in it all. It’s not possible for God to fill your hands if they are already full of your plans; it’s His plans that are good and right.

As the storm passes, we begin to see more clearly His providential care over us. This movement through pain to clarity marks the process of transformation—the process of releasing our will and accepting His ways. Perhaps you need to be reminded that God is good and you are in His care. He is giving you what only He can give. For example:

  1. He changes our character (Matthew 5:4–11)
  2. He gives us peace (John 14:27; Romans 5:1)
  3. He directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9)
  4. He provides His strength (Isaiah 40:31)
  5. He humbles us (Proverbs 16:18–20)

Let Me Hear from You

I turned to make my way home and saw the playground in the shadow of the setting sun. It’s okay that Jon won’t play on that playground or camp with the high school kids. God is our peace, our strength, and our hope. His ways are right.

  • How is God shaping your character?
  • Are you having to release your expectations?
  • Do you have someone who’ll listen?

You may need to get some things out, which is why our comments section is provided. I would love to hear from you.

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59 thoughts on “The Playground: Five Truths to Remember

  1. Thank you all (Larry, Linette, Donna, Laurie, Jean, Barb and Colleen) for such honesty! Though none of your situations sound exactly like mine, finding ‘kindred spirits’ of some kind is such an encouragement. You each sound like you have allowed and continue, or are open and beginning a journey to allow God to reveal the depths of your own hearts and lead them to where he wants to take them – healing, restoration and wholeness. I find that even as I ask, like King David, for God to search my own heart and see if there is any wicked way in there so as to lead me into his everlasting ways in relation to it, that I fear what will show up. That what is in my deepest heart will so offend me that it will be unbearable. But God does not reveal sin to shame me, he reveals it to release me from it, his Son Christ Jesus having already done what is necessary to deal with any and everything.

    I was reminded of a book I read about grief and having a child with special needs but it applied to all of life really. It was from New Zealand and written collaboratively by a psychologist and two parents (one of whom, at least, had a child with a special need) and called, “Lessons I Learned From My Child.” The one thing that remains with me from this book is that grief when there is disability in the family (or chronic illness, pain, even unchecked dysfunction I would add) is perpetual. When someone dies, though there will always be lingering sadness etc. the event passes and we become more removed from it. While living with disability, illness and pain we constantly pass through new grief events though the condition and person may remain the same. Like those mentioned here, getting a licence, not participating in sporting events (a particular trigger for me with my kids at school), no dates etc. It gave me such a sense of relief to realise that I don’t have to be permanently over the grief. It is natural to revisit it in relation to new experiences, though not dwelling on the past ones. Oh, it is true though that ‘sanding off my rough edges’ is painful; but I like to be smooth.

    I’m proactive and love to learn and apply and do and control my life so…I am frustrated that I cannot just surrender once I know, or change once shown the better way. God reminds me in Philippians 2:13 that it is HE who works in me to want to do what he has planned AND be able to do what he has planned. Such a relief!

    The Deepest Darkness

    In the deepest, darkest recess
    Of my deepest, darkest self
    Lies the me I don’t admit to
    Though it undermines my health

    When I discover the Creator’s person
    All He says and proves Himself to be
    I find I trust Him with my secrets
    And slowly I become healthy

    ‘Cause He doesn’t hide them all away
    To return another day
    His death has paid for all their worth
    I have now been set free

    Free from the deep dark bondage
    As Light shines in and I give up
    One chain at a time as clearly
    The Son’s light shows them one by one

    (3/1/2010 Gina Marie)

    • Gina,
      My apologies if I am responding to several of your notes more than once…some of my emails got a little messed up. However, I do want to say you are one incredible writer and I so loved the poem. I am grappling with some internal/soul issues right now and the words of your work really touched me. Thanks so very much! You are a blessing today. Colleen

      • Thank you Colleen, what a lovely thing to say!

        Father God, as we begin or end our day today, in whichever hemisphere, continent or state we are in, I pray that you would be light, strength, shelter, comfort, wisdom, peace and direction for Colleen. Thank you for the blessing she is to so many of us! Thank you for choosing to work through her and her life to not only draw her closer to yourself and the likeness of your son, but also to draw us likewise. Bless her for her faithfulness to you and to us. May she accept rest and quiet from your hand as well as pain and other opportunities for growth and service. Grant her tangible evidence of the truth of your presence and plan, and our gratefulness to and love for her.

        May this be, Because of Christ Jesus.

        Love to you, Gina

        • Gina,
          I can’t tell you what this prayer meant to me! I plan to write on our summer…one that has been filled with unexpected and difficult circumstances; as well as joy and delight. The Lord is revealing His consistent, jealous desire to have my whole heart; which is also revealing much of my humanness. It does seem to go hand in hand. Just today, I was reviewing an interview with Marilyn Meberg…due to air in August. It was again, one that touched my soul deeply; and I pray it will do the same for you and so many in desperate need for His tender mercies and continued unconditional love. Your words were obviously written with God’s Spirit as they were exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you so very much! Colleen
          Colleen Swindoll-Thompson

          • Thanks be to God that he knows you and I, even when we don’t really know ourselves. 🙂 Wanting to support you, as you support so many others. Gina

          • Gina,
            Thank you. Isn’t it wonderful to know regardless of human time and space, our Lord is providing care for each of us. You continue to be a wonderful caregiver to me and may others. I’m reminded of the passage where Paul writes from his soul…II Corinthians chapter one…from the care that was given him, he was then able to offer such deep care towards others. I think that is what this life is really all about. Colleen

  2. Update on readin an writin assignments:
    *Still readin Every Man’s Battle-alot of good points
    *Picked up & started readin Henri Nouwen…Turn My Mourning into Dancing-2/3 the way thru and will have to re-read it. Too deep for my simple mind to jus read once.
    *Picked up Ann Voskamp…One Thousand Gifts
    *Picked up C.S. Lewis…A Grief Observed
    *Picked up Journal

    Thanx again
    Still prayin for ya an family
    GOD Bless,

    • Larry,
      Wow!! You are a reader! Way to go…yes, the Nouwen book is deep but one I’ve gone back to again and again. It’s great. You have a ton of great stuff going on. Delighted for you. Let me know what hits you as you read along. Colleen

      • YES, I read alot after 1st divorce trying to get answers on divorce. With my past, I realized she had just reasons for divorcing me, But I was being told by my pastor and family that I had just reasons also. But I needed to see it for myself. Everything I understood about what I was reading in the bible said otherwise. Mind you this was before I found out about her and her dad. I finally found “Divorce and Remarraige in the Church”. I am sorry I cannot remember the author. But it helped me until I found out about her and her dad. Before that I was hearing everything that was being said on christian radio. And that was deffinitely not helping. I wish I could remember all the other books. While I was married to my last wife,#2, I got away from reading the bible along with additional books. I will more than likely finish reading Henri Nouwen quick and wait till I read the others so I can take time to comprehend more of what he is saying. So far it feels like he isn’t saying anything I don’t already know and understand. But am sure I was reading too fast.

        • Larry,
          You sound like such a survivor! Yes, reading is so wonderful and you are an avid reader indeed. But your last comment is interesting in that Nouwen probably isn’t saying what you don’t already know; but how often is the challenge in doing or being rather than in knowing. I know a lot in my head, but when it comes to my heart…sometimes that knowledge fly’s right out the window and I have to slow down and get quiet to hear the still, gentle voice of Christ. You definitely are reflective and take responsibility for your choices; two decisions most adults struggle to do their whole lives. So I applaud you and say keep pressing on. It’s okay not to read for a day or two or three…just whatever the Lord directs you to do, there is a reason for it. Have a wonderful afternoon. Thanks for the note on our Facebook page about prayer for my family. So appreciate all that are being sent to the Lord, yours included! Thanks again, Colleen

          • So true about knowing and not applying it. But I know my comprehension level. If I took an entrence exam for a trade school. I could garauntee that I would fail it and have to take a refresher course. I need to read slow and concetrate if it is any deeper than a Dick and Jane story. Thank you for your uplifting words. But I am far from perfect with a long way to go.

            Praying your Mom heals quickly,

          • Larry,
            If any of us past the age of 45 (assuming you are) had to take an entrance exam for any school…we would probably fail. BUT, let us also consider the kind of resume’ Jesus would have. In today’s standards for a “Pastor”, Jesus would never ‘fit’ so to speak. Think about it…no formal theological training (according to Greek./Hebrew training schools); no recommendations to “qualify himself”, only a trade for work, born as what many considered a bastard, and he hung around tax collectors and criminals (if we consider Paul’s history as “Saul”, one of the greatest persecutor’s of the Christians in history). Perfection isn’t what the Lord is looking for; it’s as He said to David….a man after God’s own heart. Never mentions I.Q., skill set, leadership qualities….just a man in pursuit of living righteously before the Lord. Seems to be what you are doing and the Lord is going to honor that and use you to reach others so hang in there and press on! Colleen

          • Your assumption on my age is correct. I past that age 8 years ago. If you were assuming that I was putting myself down, I was just stating facts. That was exaxtly what happened a few months after I finished high school when I started going to a trade school. I do understand what you are saying about Jesus and Paul. I know God has plans for me. Why else would He have protected me in 2 car accidents (that could have easily been fatal), a truck roll-over (that I walked out of with only minor scratches), me waking up one night to find wife #1 standing over me with a large kitchen knife poised to strike down on me (and I am a very sound sleeper), and all the situations I may have put myself into in my former life.So I am just trying to do what I can until He lets me know what the next step in my life is that He has planned for me

            Many Blessings,

          • Larry,
            Indeed, it will be great to see the Lord unfold His plan for you. I can’t imagine what it was like to go through what you wrote here; it’s clear His hand of protection is upon you. WOW! I’m so thankful you are a part of this page and others can hear pieces of your story…there is such amazing encouragement when that happens. So thanks for continuing to be vulnerable and honest; may the Lord be near to you today and each day as He brings you greater healing and strength. Colleen

          • THANK YOU for the acceptance and encouragment. I also want to thank you for the list of books to read. I am continuing to pray for you and your whole family. I hope your Mom is feeling better. Larry

          • Larry,
            You are so welcome…isn’t that what the Lord pours out for us and yet, how rare it is to find safe, mature individuals who walk with us through thick and thin. I’m thrilled to know you are connecting with the references I offered; some of these works have been life-changing and I hope they provide for you the same. Thank you as well for your prayers. The IFL trip to Israel was a wonderful success in spite of some illness and injuries….which are usually part of the journey. My folks are really incredible people; they have been sustained by the faithful prayers of so many…like you. And, I thank you so much. Let me know if you find some good reads; I’m always on the lookout for great stuff. Great to connect once again, Colleen

      • Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Prayers are always welcomed as well as cherished. Life has been going good lately. I have run across an old class mate from high school who has been thru 2 verbally abusive marriages also. We have hit it off rather well. It feels as if God has directed our meeting up. We will have to wait and see where we end up. It does look promising though. Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers. My prayers also include you and your family! God bless. Larry

        • Larry,
          I am just now seeing this…oh my gosh…what wonderful news. I’m so sorry for her pain and what she has been through; and I’m delighted to know there may be a deep friendship, if not more, for you. Having a companion in life is so valuable…one who hears your heart and loves you just as you are but also pushes you to become more than you can see in yourself. This is terrific…please keep in touch! Colleen

  3. YES, I agree I AM a work in progress and have been for a long time. Mom always tried to instil in us to thinkabout the feelings of others before talking too soon. When I get upset with a phone call from the kids, I always sit down and write them a letter, but I don’t send it to them. If I do want them to really know how I feel, I will rewrite the letter several times over before I even think about sending it to them. If I don’t do that, it willcome accross to them way too harsh.
    I hadn’t ever journaled until after the divorce with wife #1. I used to journal but wife #2 would read it and then rag me about never saying it to them or mail it to them. So I stopped writing in a journal. Wife #2 would find one of my journals and read it, then give me a hard time about never telling anyone when I had a strong feelings about what they did or said. She did that so much that I finally stopped journaling and started trashing all my old ones.
    I probably need to start another journal. It seems to help me process situations I am going through.

    • Larry,
      This is amazing because one of my favorite life practices I have learned from my husband is what he calls “the Lincoln law”. It was said that Abraham Lincoln would do that exact thing….when upset or angry, he wrote, waited at least 24 hours before responding. There is so much wisdom in that! So wonderful to hear how God has worked in your life. Sometimes when we are able to open up, the feedback is positive…I hope you hear that here. It sounds like wife #2 had some personality issues and really shut you down; I would highly recommend journaling again. My dad has always said “thoughts work themselves out through the lips and the fingertips”…and he is right on. So get to writing and enjoy. Always good to connect. Colleen

      • YES, i like John Townson’s and Henry Cloud ‘s writings. After wife #1 I read alot of books. That is where I read about journalling and I also learned the hard way about rewriting letters to the girls. I am just trying to get back to where I was mentally, spiritually, and finacially. Before I married wife #2, I was trying to make sure she had no reason not to trust me and I felt she needed to know about my past. As soon as I told her about my past she went directly to my mother and spilled every thing I had told her. That opened communications that lead to me giving my testimony before the church. Looking back I am grateful it all happened as it did. As I realize I WILL make both goals, IT will just take time.l
        Again, THANKS for the suggested books and also the support! GOD
        Bless and have a good day.

        • Larry,
          WHEW…all I can say is you have been through so much you may write a book someday. There is so much of my own experiences I cannot share in public; nevertheless, I do understand pain and unexpected sorrows, feeling doubts in faith and friendships, losses that crushed my heart, and finding hope as Christ slowly, carefully, and tenderly brought me along. Sounds like He is doing the same with you my friend. Thanks for the note. Colleen

          • YES, HE is!!!!! Fortunately for me, it comes easy for me to not dwell on what has happened in the past. I have been blessed and cursed with a short term memory. And I do understand aboit you not being able to share about what has happened to you in your past. So no worries, I have shared enough for the both of us.

            Have a wonderful evening and a better day tomorrow. And GOD Bless!!!!!!

  4. i remember what the Lord says to apostle Paul that when we were a child,we speak and think like a child but when we become adults we allow someone else to pull us wherever He chooses to lead us.

    My unexpected marriage was indeed an unwelcome intrusion into my quite single life,i do not intend to marry then,because my plate then was full,nothing to add.

    Unexpectedly my world was devastated by domestic violence a visit to a counselor,police,hospital and running away from home with an innocent boy to feed,protect and keep into safety from his dad.a life i never expect to experience.

    At first i ask God why me? what have i done to deserve the above?i been a good daughter unlike my other siblings who squander my father’s resources,while i scramble in just enough amount of money to go to school and manage to use a shoes all throughout my studies despite being despised i did not complain but simply obeyed.

    As i argue the Lord for being unfair (i think),the truth dawned in my mind that i am not a child anymore and what are those gifts and character building for if not for His use.

    Now i see how important are the character building years God intend to prepare me to care for someone that needs direction almost everyday to keep in God’s path and a new generation to be taught how to be God’s vessel to share His precepts in another generation.

    Now i appreciate the intrusion while it caught me in surprise it adds maturity i needed into these perverse generation.My life now isn’t unwelcome anymore but is appreciated for what it develops in me more inwardly that i needed in this temporary life for a much better life.It prepares me and make me a part to prepare my loved ones too.

    Indeed life is not food clothing and shelter.If not for this situation i am in, i do not have the life and life abundant of being used by God in a healthy way that will earn for me a reward.Life without the suffering of Christ through our crosses is not life at all.

    If not for this unexpected intrusion i will not see the gems of trials,suffering and endurance,patience,kindness and love,that i was lavished with and should share to others who needs the lavish love of God too.

    • Jean,
      Your message is pure joy…peace and quiet in the midst of all things. I am so very, very sorry for the suffering you endured. I’m so sorry for what your children endured; and just as you said, there was and remains a purpose in it all. Somehow, our society has come to believe we have all these rights … for comfort, to “arrive”, for justice, for happiness … I don’t find Christ saying those things are given in this life. However, I do find scripture repeatedly saying we enjoy life because CHRIST provides for us. Sometimes we must wait until heaven, sometimes we won’t. But in all things, when He becomes everything to us and for us, there is a comfort and peace that cannot be understood by this earth’s messages. I am so glad you chose life; to live through the horrible experiences, to make good choices, grow in healthy coping abilities, and then live according to the truth. This note is so full of wisdom and truth…thank you . Thank you for your honesty and pressing on when things appeared impossible. How much strength you may pass along to others today because of your story. I hope to hear from you again and that we can stay in contact. Have a great weekend. Colleen

      • Thank you too Coleen,i am not online most of the time lately because my tablet is a necessary tool for my son’s study.We are trying to be abreast with technology in our education. here in manila for we are loging far far behind.I share it with my son so i cannot be online as i want.I can be online when i am in a netcafe or my husband brings his laptop home.The problem in our new place, internet is so slow i can only use the facebook to feed on what your dad share in insight or living (that is where i get my daily spiritual feeding the facebook),but the gmail i need to wait until it is 1 am beyond or sometimes wait until the morning to go to a netcafe.I had the chance to visit a good netcafe yesterday and but is so reluctant if my comment was sent.Please erase if will hear from me coleen every time i am enabled.

        • Jean,
          I have learned that God’s timing is always perfect…even in this global, electronic society! You are so precious to connect and I do look forward to hearing more about your life, trials and challenges as well as how God has moved in you as a result. Hope you have a fantastic day, Colleen

  5. NOPE, No shame with GOD’s grace! Just trying to not get my girls upset should they find this site. But sorry for the misleading 1st statement, I was going to put a smilin face with it but thought it might be inappropiate. Just thinkin too deep again, I guess. 🙂
    I have been hearing Stephen Arterburn on Sirius/XM radio alot. His book I am reading was out or just came out when I needed it. Evidentally didn’t hear about it in time. I am enjoying his book so far. No surprise.
    I also want to Thank You for the suggestion on the books. Can’t wait till I can get started on them. And remember I will be continuing to pray for you and your family!!!
    GOD bless, Larry

    • Larry,
      Steve is great…as is John Townsend and Henry Cloud. Their program helped me through some of the most difficult days of my life. Such practical, wise wisdom…so glad you have found them as a positive resource. Yes, let me hear about the books as you begin to read them. All the best. Colleen

  6. Well you got me, with that direct question. I have been trying to avoid saying too much about my past, even tho I had let out a hint in one of my prior messages. And I know there is no way you could possibly know what I might be reading as of current. First off let me say, GOD had already healed me. It wasn’t easy and it would have been easier if I had, had this book as a help. But I didn’t do it without GOD’s help. Without His help, I would still be deep into this. The book I am currently reading is…… “Every Man’s Battle, Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time” by Sephen Arteburn and Fred Stoeker with Mike Yorkey. Again I give GOD full glory in the battle I went thru to get free. Without Him, I don’t believe I would be free today.

    • Larry, there is no shame in reading or conversing about where the human condition may find you at any given point. Steve was a good friend of mine when I lived in Southern California; he’s got a lot of great things written and said. He too has endured much; thankfully, last I heard, he was happily married to his third wife….a beautiful woman whom they had a child with together. So there is much hope my friend. Never shame, always hope because of what Christ has give us through His grace. Great to hear from you. Have a wonderful day. Colleen

  7. Thank you again for the names and authors of the books you had suggested. I have already gone to the bookstore to check on their availability. They only had one in the store but said they had all but two of them in their warehouse so they can get the ones in their warehouse within a week a week once I order them. I was there also to pick up another book I had already ordered for me so they will have to wait a couple of weeks which will give me more than enough time to finish the one I am already reading.

    • This is such great news! Oh Larry, I do hope they encourage you like crazy. Henri Nowen has one called “Turn my Mourning into Dancing”…put it on the list, it’s fantastic. Let me know which one you are reading; I would love to hear what you are learning. Way to go Friend. Have a great day. Colleen

  8. THANK YOU is all I can say. No worries, I didn’t take you as preaching but as giving advice. Reading your response just made me smile, because I could hear the woman who was my youth leader when I was a teenager. Some people take her as a lil harsh with her advise and suggestions. As I know her well, like her, I am sure you meant well with what you told me. So no worries, I didn’t take it as preaching. When the girls confronted me after my testimony was given, I gave them my apologies and asked them for their forgiveness, then told them that was all I could say and I could not go back and make any changes to the past and if I could I would. With all that, I left it in their court. The oldest one was more verbal as usual against me. But like I said, I left it in her court. She kept her distance for awhile but did eventually cool off toward me. She has moved to a small town approx 50 miles from my home and within 10 miles from the company who I drive for. The only times she gets in town, she is usually dropping her kiddos with or picking them up from their dad. It is hard to talk with her because she is always right and knows more than dad. Unfortunately she hasn’t matured enough yet. When I do get to talk with her or see her we get along, but then we do not bring up too much of the past. My youngest daughter gave me the silent treatment for awhile which is the way she handles it when she is upset with some one. We have since seen each other and have been able to get along. I have been able to get trips to Tucson these last couple of years and have stopped in to see her and her family. It is thrilling when I get to see her because she is a hugger. My son never gave any problems so if it bothered him, he never let on. All three know their Mom and how she is. It took my oldest three years to start talking with her mother after our divorce which was not totally just over the divorce. You would have to know their Mom to understand. My youngest almost always will let her Mom leave a message before calling her back and that is only after she hears that Mom is acting/talking sane in the voicemail. Now Alan is still another personality, he tends to let things roll off after he tells you how he feels. After that he is good to go.
    Even though I have talked alot to you, I have a mentality where I don’t just sit around and think about my problems. Even currently my bills have me strapped tight, I know there is nothing I can do except what I am already doing. All I do all day is concentrate on my job, of course my job can require alot of concentration. Just to sit here and transfer all this to a message takes alot of thinking and trying to remember. I am the type of person who lays down at night and close my eyes and can go to sleep within 5 minutes or less. And that is a sound sleep. So sound that my alarm I have to use is 110-120 decibel alarm.

    • Larry,
      Good to know you heard my heart in this. I had much to learn in this area. I will never forget my therapist years ago asking (who could see the passive-aggressive side of me) “So, do you want a crown with all the power you think you have by treating someone that way?” OOOOUUUCHHHH!!! I will never forget how that one statement revealed so much; it’s a power issue more than the issue at hand. Having learned how hurtful that is, and that I have NO power over another-they are God’s job and He’s not in need of a helper-I began to practice honesty and kind confrontation. I began to learn what it was like to own my feelings and to seek clarification with others; and I learned it was the most freeing way to live. In what you have written, that’s what I’ve wanted for you as well. Freedom, grace, forgiveness of yourself, letting go, and love without condition. Glad to know the relationships are a work in process…isn’t that life, a work in progress. Hope you are well today and have a great weekend. Colleen

  9. Thank You for your time. I didn’t have time to look for the book so I cannot tell you that that was the book. On pp 117 and 118 your father was telling about an older woman who approached him after a sermon he gave on grace. When I was reading the segment on her was when God’s grace enveloped me. I have been told that I am a deep thinker which you possibly picked up on.Due to my past I only listen to christian radio. I started doing that after my 1st divorce and haven’t stopped. I started and continue to keep my mind clean. And other than the radio while driving I am reading the bible and books from christian writers such as your Dad’s books during my downtime during the day and at night. I hadn’t put any comments on you FB pages due to the fact I had gotten my daughters upset with me once when I gave my full testimony during one of our pastor’s sermons. After talking with my son about doing it he suggested I not tell his sisters. I took his suggestion and had my oldest daughter’s boyfriend/fiancee to take her to another church that week as they had been checking out other churches. My youngest daughter lives 1700 miles away in Tucson, AZ. My daughters have friends that go to the same church as I do. As you can guess they both got calls about my testimony. Both girls were mad at me for quite a while. So you can see why I am careful about the subjects I put on FB.

    • Larry,
      I appreciate the wisdom you have chosen regarding disclosure. I also must say that grown children have to face their own losses from childhood and some resistance or anger could represent an unwillingness to accept what happened. Not saying that is certainly the answer; we all have histories that are best handled with a therapist or very few trusted, wise friends; our kids don’t need to hear us ranting about stuff that have painfully changed our lives and theirs. But I haven’t heard a bit of ranting from you….only grace, forgiveness, change, and a desire to know God as He helps you walk through some very difficult and tragic losses. As our kids grow up, there comes a time when they have to grow into their own skin, think their own thoughts, believe as they choose to believe; protecting them from that process only hurts them. It is much easier for a kid to react in anger than to take responsibility for their attitudes and choices. So many adults still through tantrums which never accomplishes healing … it reveals the character they have chosen. It’s clear you are seeking the Lord’s direction for this. Truth be told, what you write is about you, not your daughters; for her to be upset is her choice…you didn’t choose that for her. No healthy parent enjoys being the recipient of their child’s anger or blame; but until we teach the kid their behavior doesn’t control our decisions, it will continue. If there is time to gossip, call each other after you have spoken, then there is time to grow up and learn how to stop that kind of nonsense. My thought is if you are called by the kids or one of their messengers (so to speak), it’s wise to say, “I appreciate your feelings and taking the time to connect; if something I said offended you, that was never my intention. I cannot change what happened, nor will I walk on eggshells the rest of my life waiting for another blow up to happen from you. Tell me what you need to help you through your pain; but I answer to the Lord and not to you.” I only offer that advice to someone who is very willing to follow the Lord’s lead. I don’t think you will abuse the “God” card….some do and that is just as immature. However, if this undertow of chatter continues, it’s time for you to have a life and let the kids choose how they will move forward as well. Sorry this is a bit long, Larry, you probably didn’t need a sermon. Having come through some of life’s most challenging experiences and painful losses, years in therapy taught me about growing up and letting my kids do the same. There were tough seasons, the silent treatment, and all….but we are so close now it’s all worth it. Keep pressing on, I’m so thrilled you have opened up here and hope you will find this to be a refreshing refuge for your soul. Colleen

  10. Hi Colleen…just recently found your blog. Read as much as I could, watched the interviews. The one with Joni & Ken was so timely. I cried through it… then watched it with my husband (he’s fighting cancer & pain).
    I can relate to all the comments of this entry. I have stared at my 3 daughters together, wondering why 2 are so intelligent and lovely and my youngest has all the struggles, challenges, hurts, and pain. She’s 19 yrs. and wants to have a boyfriend or marry. She wants to drive a car. (a red jeep to be exact, she talks about it a lot:))
    But I do believe God is good. It helps me to think of all I am thankful for. Joni’s interview comes to mind. When she struggles she looks at the photo on the wall of the man in Africa with a life quite different that an American with disabilities. I am thankful to raise my daughter in this time period. I can’t imagine the treatment she would get in times past. People are generally kind to her, she rides therapy horses and tears come to my eyes when I see all the workers and volunteers that come out so she can ride!!! I am thankful for a sense of humor and laughing together with family.
    Yes, I struggle with fears. Yes, we have uber hard days! Yes, I feel quite alone at times… not sure I am doing anything right. But I have to say, God has been faithful to us.He’s with us in the valley. He is our hope.
    And I am thankful to have found this sight, Colleen, and your compassion and passion to point us to Jesus. Thanks!

    • Laurie,
      It is so amazing how God brings us to just the right place or person at the moment we are in great need. So glad you found a page that reaches your soul and renews your faith. Some days, it takes many moments of returning to trust and believe that God is good, faithful, sovereign, and working in us to carve our souls into His image. Joni and Ken are two of my favorite people on earth! They are the real deal. I just interviewed them for this year’s interview series…again, so honest and vulnerable, truthful in every way. Here is one statement I’ve clung to from Joni…don’t recall when or where I heard it from her…it may have even been in the interview. But her statement was: “Sometimes God allows what He hates to accomplish what He loves”. I have run to that statement in my mind over and over, choosing to focus on His truth rather than my circumstances. Sometime that is a moment by moment choice. From what you wrote, I can’t imagine the pressure and fears that could creep up; the battle of the mind and will are the toughest to face. But thanks be to our Savior and Lord who PROMISES to be faithful and provide for us a way through those experiences when our strength is fully gone. I’m so very, very honored to know you hear and hope to hear from you again. The video page for our interviews is linked here: Please do stay in touch as I would love to continue to encourage you and pray alongside you as the journey continues. Thank you again for connecting. Colleen

    • Larry,
      I took some time to review my dad’s books….page 118. In “Encouragement for life” (which may or may not be the one your read), the title was “God’s Mercy”. It’s a Hebrew term for “chesed”; translated “lovingkindness” or simple “kindness”. Because He is “Chesed”, then His goodness and lovingkindness is always with us, always purposed to break us from human reactions, forgiveness, and to fill us with His mercy. Our struggles with issues such as bitterness, anger, unfair treatment, grief and loss, disability, self-pity, hopelessness, and deep anguish are human reactions to unfair, unkind, unexpected, unwanted treatment; and yet the Psalm listed (23:6) tell us because the Lord is “chesed”, “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. Matthew Henry writes in his commentary on Ps 23 these words: “The valley of the shadow of death may denote the most severe and terrible affliction, or dark dispensation of providence, that the psalmist ever could come under. Between the part of the flock on earth and that which is gone to heaven, death lies like a dark valley that must be passed in going from one to the other… It is a valley, deep indeed, and dark, and miry; but valleys are often fruitful, and so is death itself fruitful of comforts to God’s people. It is a walk through it: they shall not be lost in this valley, but get safe to the mountain on the other side… The Lord’s people feast at his table, upon the provisions of his love. Satan and wicked men are not able to destroy their comforts, while they are anointed with the Holy Spirit, and drink of the cup of salvation which is ever full. Past experience teaches believers to trust that the goodness and mercy of God will follow them all the days of their lives, and it is their desire and determination, to seek their happiness in the service of God here, and they hope to enjoy his love for ever in heaven. While here, the Lord can make any situation pleasant, by the anointing of his Spirit and the joys of his salvation. But those that would be satisfied with the blessings of his house, must keep close to the duties of it.” Larry, in such deep wisdom, you have turned what could have become a life of miserable self-pity and resentment into one which craves the truths of God’s word and His promises. It is from his love-for which the mature believer recognizes-comes experiences that transform our lives. Your life is being ever touched, ever changed due to the “chesed” care of God. It is a discipline to believe even the worst of conditions come from a loving God, not to harm us but to rescue our broken, human souls. You have obviously been in his word as the circumstances you have endured are beyond words of description. But God is keeping you in his loving hands of mercy and kindness; I can’t imagine the greater purposes he has for you and the rest of your life. It is an honor to hear your story and I hope you will continue to stay in touch. God is working in and through you, as He does, I don’t want to miss celebrating the blessings He will bestow upon you as a result of your commitment. Thank you for the honor of sharing with me and all those who connect here. Colleen

  11. Releasing expectations. A continual process. I don’t know how you can do it once and say okay, I am done. Or am I just understanding this differently?

    • Donna, I’m so glad you asked. I don’t think any of us can say “I’m done” and be done with our struggles. There are many days where I talk to the Lord about the same thing, over and over and over. The important thing is that we keep returning; God doesn’t count, He loves…and that love understands our human limitations and conditions. The grief process isn’t a 4 step, 5 step process…it is circular. So some days we may feel like “I can’t believe this is back” but when you choose to trust the Lord with whatever, you are in a different place. I hope that makes sense. Grief and letting go is a continual tug of war…our human condition fights to keep our selves…wishes, dreams, wants, should-have’s, could-have’s, and more…on the throne, center stage in our lives. So much so that even when we are praying for relief or change and it doesn’t happen, the prayer may be motivated for self-comfort or relief. The Lord is WITH us through it, sometimes allowing us to see how much of ourselves he wants to free us from. As we surrender over and over, we are saying “Jesus, I want to follow your lead, whatever that may be”;; and that is often a painful process because it involves grief or suffering. I have learned to ask myself a very valuable question… “What are my expectations revealing about me?” and very often, they reveal things I wish were different, or dreamed I would have someday, or don’t want to accept what is. Then, I ask the Lord to show me how to move through whatever pain it may be as He would have me in following Him. There is such freedom in letting go; and letting go is a continual process. Let me know if that clears up your question. So glad to hear from you friend! Colleen

    • Donna, Just wanted you to know that this week, my expectations have been hit hard…what I expected with my husbands back procedure didn’t go as planned so you are not the only one who has to keep them in check. Just thought of you when I was in a low point. Hope you are well. Colleen

      • So good to hear from you. I have been following on your facebook page and have been praying for your family. I am so sorry that you have to go through, yet again, something so difficult. It is another one of those things that I say to God, seriously, why ? I am excited for you to hear your daughter is getting married. It is the little glimmers of joy in the suffering that keeps us going. as i previously stated, i don’t believe letting go can be a one time event, especially when you are dealing with an ever changing situation. It is a process and God has proven time and time again that I will get through each situation. Just this week he showed me how I was placing unrealistic expectations on myself and my son.( its a long story) It was through a short video someone posted online. It opened my eyes to something I didn’t even realize I was doing. In allowing me to see some truth, he lifted a burden from me that I wasn’t even aware I was carrying. It was the weirdest thing. I had this underline anxiety going on and couldn’t pin point it. So thankful for the weight being lifted, and a feeling a peace in my heart that hasn’t been there for a long time. thank you once again for you ministry. May God put a hedge of protection over you and your family. May he surround you with peace, Praying Gods blessing on your daughter and future son-in-law!

        • Donna,
          You have wonderful timing!!! I would love to know about the anxiety work. I have PTSD and so do my kids; sometimes the underlying tension is present but I can’t get to it…sounds like you understand that. So whatever you watched or saw, I would love to see it as well…if you feel comfortable sharing. I am so very glad to hear you have found some relief…it’s that WONDERFUL!!! My Aunt has said relief is one of her most favorite feelings; I have to agree. It’s amazing to hear how the Lord put something in front of you and it was exactly what you needed…how great and sovereign is our faithful Lord. To know exactly what we need at any given moment even before we are aware just shows how deep and wonderful His love for us is. I’m thrilled for you. As always, great to hear from you. Thanks for the encouragement about my daughter; we could not be more thrilled. He is a fantastic young man who adores her…can we hope for much more than they love the Lord and love each other! = ) And, it’s nice to have something good in the mix with all this other stuff. Have a great afternoon. Colleen

  12. I don’t know really how God is shaping my character, I know one thing He has made me more patient and understanding of people and what trials they maybe going through. The flip side of that is I am struggling with people that seem to have to all but whine about things that don’t matter to a hill of beans in the big picture that frames our lives.
    I am having a tough time releasing my expectations. I wanted to much for my sweet son turning 21 next month. My heart breaks when I think at his age he has never had a date, a Saturday night out with friends, catching a ball for your home team, no senior trip for him with friends. What hurts the most is now at his age he KNOWS he is different. He has asked these question that I don’t have an answerer for “Will I ever marry & have kids?” “Will I ever own a house?” And the one that stabbed me in the heart “Will I die alone?” That haunts me the most.
    No, I have no one that understands, most of my friends have children already established in jobs, marriage and some have grandchildren that I have to listen about every time we have a get together.
    God please, please, please hear me when I pray that I don’t want to be bitter. Help me to see the cup half full.

    • Linette,
      Oh my….how many times tears have fallen over the very things you wrote. How badly we want our son’s to enjoy some of life’s blessings and joys. Knowing they won’t is a grieving process. I cry often when a thought or worry comes to mind. And then I think, Lord, you endured rejection, being different, misunderstood, betrayed, bullied, didn’t marry or have children, were laughed at and snubbed…so help me through this because I know you went through it too. Accepting what is doesn’t happen all at once, it happens over and over as we are presented with things different than expected. Sometime we are prepared; most of the time we aren’t and then out of the blue comes this ‘gut punch’ and pain in our hearts. All I know to do is return it to Jesus…again and again. To ask Him to help you delight in what others are enjoying because THEY are enjoying it…that’s entering their joy which has nothing to do with ours. When another’s blessings are painful or we resent them, the Lord is revealing perhaps an expectation, a dream disappointed, a lost wish, something we have to release and that is our job to do with Christ. Linette, these are not easy things to do; they are about becoming and being transformed by Christ. My son is urgently wanting to get a job right now…he can’t understand that he’s not able to do most jobs and sometimes I just go to my room and cry and ask the Lord for wisdom…”Father, how do I care for my son in the midst of what he cannot understand? Help me to help him through, In Jesus name, Amen”. I hope something here helps…it is a daily journey and I’m glad to share it with you and those who do understand as well. Please connect anytime. Colleen

  13. Since you asked but long story. I will make it as short as possible. In the last 8 yrs I have had 2 biblical divorces. Last one left the finances, my credit and house destroyed. Approx 4 yrs ago Dad was diagnosed with ahlzeimers, 2yr ago he was admitted to nursing home, last yr had a minor stroke, was put on hospice in August of last yr and just taken off hospice on friday of last week due to him gaining 18 # since November. I do not have a special needs child or grandchild but have friends that do. All in all thanking GOD for my health, my 3 kiddos and 7 grandkiddos.

    • Larry,
      I can’t begin to imagine what pain and anguish you have endured…I am so very sorry. The way you ended your note says so much about how the trials have shaped your character…”thanking God…” How our perspective changes when we endure and find God nearer than ever. Sometimes it does seem like He’s let us fall of the cliffs of life; and we do fall. But we are never out of His mighty hands and He is such a good Shepherd. I don’t know if you have heard of Dan Allender’s book “The Healing Path”, of Ann Vaskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts”, of C.S. Lewis’ book titled “A Grief Observed”, or of Joan Chittister’s two books…one titled “God’s Tender Mercy, Reflections on Forgiveness” and the other titled “The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully”. All of those are feasts for the soul, they open our eyes to growth and hope. Since you are a survivor by every stretch of the word, these may feed your soul and breathe some life back into your heart. I am so very thankful you wrote here…so thankful to hear you have clung to Christ as most would have tossed in the towel. Please stay in touch as your journey is one marked by God’s miraculous work through the darkest of nights! Colleen

      • Thank you for your response and the suggestions on the books.
        During my 1st marraige I got away from the walk of my
        upbringing. After the 1st divorce I became a sponge and
        recommitted my life. 1st I was dealing with the fact of having a
        divorce. I found a book that opened my eyes to Jesus’ teaching
        on divorce. It wasn’t until after the divorce that I found out that my son had come home early and found his mom and grandpa
        getting out of bed together. Had I known that fact I would not
        have had any problems with the divorce. that is something that I
        cannot discuss with my son. He had confided in the youth pastor
        he was close to. Being concerned the youth pastor had informed
        my mother who didn’t reveal it to me until after the divorce was final and she felt I would not go back to her. SO now you know
        why I am very careful on your posts on facebook. After the
        divorce I continued as a sponge reading not only the bible but
        also books written by christian writers. I was still having problems
        accepting God’s grace due to what I ended getting wrapped up in
        during that 1st marraige. It was not until I read a book of your father’s years ago. I had found it in my mother’s book collection. I
        cannot remember the book’s title but I remember the author and
        the page#, Chuck Swindoll, p# 118. While I was reading that page I
        just burst out into tears and prayer.
        The second marraige started 3 yr after that divorce. She was the
        piano player and her sister was the worship leader. I thought I had found the wife that I would spend the rest of my life with.
        She couldn’t deal with my job as a truck driver gone most
        weekdays and nights and home only on weekends. She moved
        her kids into the house and it went down hill quick. It gets
        complicated from there. So longer story short. I lasted 5 yrs with
        her and found out after I filed that she has herpes. My doctor’s office told me after a blood test that not only did I not have
        herpes, but I have never had herpes. No surprise on the later, I
        had not cheated on her unlike all the accusations I had been
        hearing from her.
        I am slowly turning back into the sponge I used to be. Any and all
        Praises go to God!!!!!

  14. I don’t know how God is shaping my character.
    I feel today that I am not releasing my expectations, they keep popping up in front of me all the time. Last night a local news program was showing a father & son celebrating because his son had won an athletic award the father had won himself at that age. The pride and continual gushing about how this was the happiest day of his (the father’s life) made me want to scream.
    Why did he get to enjoy in this pleasure of his son being able to be the very best at something not to mention all the other things that he just may take for granted & my son struggles so hard just to go into a theatre or outside in the dark?
    My son is invisible to the world, just that weird kid, you know, maybe he didn’t get enough oxygen when he was born ( a real question put to me by someone.)
    I don’t really have anyone to listen, my son will be 21 next month and there is not much help for them after high school. No peers to inter act with, no girlfriends, no sporting events.
    God has to be there, He just has to be.

    • Linette,
      I absolutely LOVE your honesty!!! There is no way to get through stuff without being honest and starting where we are. Of course there are battles when we see pictures of what we thought would be; and deep, agonizing grief when we know that will never be part of our lives. It is a kind of death that has no words or memorial services; no phone calls of understand or cards in the mail that way I believe in you. In the aloneness of it all, our hearts can become fixed on what we don’t have rather than ever seeking to see and take in what God has provided. People say meaningless, hurtful things because they don’t know what else to say…which stinks, I know. But when that happens, I go to Isaiah 53’s description of our Lord: “there was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected-a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way, He was despised, and we did not care…He was oppressed and treated harshly yet never said a word. He was lead like a lamb to slaughter And as a sheep is silent to the slaughter, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But was treated like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grace. But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied.” Linette, I don’t see anything fair, just, right, honoring, and loving in what Christ endured; but by keeping His eyes on His father, He endured the cross for us. So that is our example. This world tells us we have a right to justice and fairness…yet nowhere in scripture do we find that is promised for us. If Christ was called to endure, so we are also called to endure. What a model He sets for ‘look the other way’, ‘to not say a word’, and to endure anguish for a greater purpose. There is nothing easy or simple about this. It is a constant surrendering of what was wanted or longed for, an acceptance of what is, and then a search for purpose as we follow our Heavenly Father. Again, I am with you in this…I have to practice this as my nature is to fight for rights I think I deserve or protect my son from harm. God will avenge, we are called to follow him. Please stay connected…this is a daily, sometimes moment by moment struggle. It is not in us naturally but since Christ is in us, anything is possible. I applaud your efforts, your vulnerability, your devout commitment to your family, and your desire to honor Christ. I hope this encouraged you today. Please do connect again as I care deeply for your situation and how God is working in and through you. In his Sovereign hands, Colleen

  15. God is sanding off my rough edges a great deal in this area of my life these days. Our expectation should only be to be poured out by and for Him. Oh, less of me and more of You, LORD!

    • Barb, you have no idea how much I care for you and love you. It was absolutely delightful to see your smile and remember the wisdom you passed along in the midst of your personal trials. Yes, God is always at work at sanding away those things that hinder us…and sometimes it feels like He’s down to the quick and there’s nothing left. I totally get that. Some days I have to release my expectations over and over and over…it’s a constant discipline, not a one-time event. And in ministry, we all know the enemy works overtime trying to cause doubt, hate, anger, bitterness, resentment, and all the stuff this world so easily falls into. You are one amazing, incredible woman, I pray for you daily. My hope is that you see His hand of provision SOON!!!! And that as you wait, you are sustained by what He brings; finding rest in that. It is so great to hear from you…we need another laugh together. = ) Until then, you got my heart and I believe in you fully! Colleen

    • Girlfriend…how in this world are you? Since I believe you haven’t left this world…or no one has told me…HA!!! I was thinking about you and thought I would drop a line. You are so awesome…have a great weekend and father’s day. Colleen