Heartbreak to Strength Blog

HopeLifter

I know it is June 1st, but I want to share my May book recommendation.   It is Hopelifter: Creative Ways to Spread Hope When Life Hurts by Kathe Wunneberg.

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I had read one of Kathe’s previous books called Grieving the Child I Never Knew. This book was instrumental in helping me grieve the loss of my miscarriage which was just over 10 years ago. In fact, I have probably purchased over 20 copies of that book and given it to friends and other moms hurting who have lost a baby during pregnancy. Having experienced multiple miscarriages of her own, Kathe’s words were comforting and brought hope.   So, you can imagine how excited I was when I saw that Kathe had written another book, I could not wait to read it and once again, her words are uplifting and encouraging.

Kathe is a hopelifter!! She takes her life experiences, her losses, her hard times and uses them to help others. She says this numerous times in her book and I just love this quote, “We believe we go through what we go through to help others go through what we went through.” Let me give you an example- she calls it Hope on Wheels. She will take a group of women away on a bus for a day to a retreat center. She has a very special bus tour on Mother’s day. You see not only did Kathe experience multiple miscarriages but she also carried a baby full term with a rare disorder and he only lived one day. She has a heart for grieving moms because she has experienced the hurt and pain of losing a baby. So every mother’s day, she takes a bus of moms who have lost a child. Listen to her words, “We share a common bond and sisterhood of loss. Some are fresh in their journey and preparing for their first Mother’s Day without their child. Others are veteran sojourners, well familiar with suffering and this bus trip. We call them hopelifters- people who have been transformed by their own experience with grief and who are now willingly offering themselves as the hands and feet of Jesus to comfort our hurting women. Amazingly, God’s power at work in and through their broken hearts spreads hope in the hearts of others.”   I want to stop for a second to make sure you don’t miss what she just said- it is God’s power at work through these women. They are taking their broken hearts and God is using that to touch the heart of someone else. Wow- that is beautiful!

As you can see, I am very passionate about this! God never wastes a hurt!! Instead, He uses our hurts to help others; they become our ministries. Like a mentioned above about my miscarriage, I have been able to help so many other women who have miscarried a baby because of my experience! The verse: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 became my life verse at that time! “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” I love that God can use our brokenness and our pain. Little did I know, that this life verse would become so real again to me as I went through my divorce. It has been over 3 years now and with God’s power, I am able to offer support and comfort to other women who are heartbroken by the loss of a marriage. I love what Kathe says, “The hopelifters’ presence, personal touch, prayers, practical advice, and individual stories of God’s help and healing power in their own lives lifts other women and points them to the God of Hope. And in time… those receiving hope will spread hope too.” You see, it is our presence that offers hope, our personal touch and our prayers that touch their heart, our practical advice and stories that offer them comfort. You just have to be real and vulnerable with your pain and God can use you in might ways. Who do you need to reach out to? Who do you need to offer your presence and your story?

Her book has so many great insights but I want to share with you my favorite part of the book called Recipes of Hope. “It is written by fellow hopelifters who have persevered through various life issues and are willing to share their insights to help you encourage others who may be experiencing a similar life struggle.” There are about 100 of them in the second half of the book. They are alphabetized by subject like adoption, cancer, depression, divorce, eating disorder, infertility, loss of a child, friend, parent or spouse, mental illness, miscarriage, prison, rejection, special needs, suicide, terminal illness, weight challenges, and workplace challenges are just some of the subjects. Honestly, I think they have something for each and every struggle you or a friend might be facing. What I love is that the hopelifter, the one writing it, is honest and vulnerable to share with you about that struggle and offers practical ways you can help someone going through that same thing. This part of the book is so helpful because sometimes you do not know what to do or what to say so they give you ideas. Some of them even give you ideas of what not to say. Knowing what it feels like to live through that struggle, these recipes of hope are powerful.   I loved the entire book but this part alone makes it worth getting.

Ladies, let’s be a hopelifter! Let’s take our struggles, our broken hearts, our hard times and let’s use them to bring hope to someone else who is struggling with the same thing. Let’s live out 2 Cor 1:3-4! I know it is hard sometimes to be authentic with our pain- what will others think? I think people will be thankful that you shared it with them. It will connect you to others in a powerful way. Honestly, being vulnerable with my broken places has been one of the most beautiful parts of my life story. I promise you God is faithful and with God’s power, your broken heart can offer hope to another broken heart. Again, who do you need to share your story with? Who can you offer hope to?

Dear God,                                                                                                                                       Thank you for not wasting our hurt and pain. God you specialize in bringing beauty out of ashes. Please use all of us; take our stories and help them bring hope and comfort to others hurting. God, I pray for those hurting right now. I pray you bring a hopelifter into their life to offer them comfort. God, please empower us to share our stories.                     In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Steven Curtis Chapman’s Biography

My April book recommendation is Steven Curtis Chapman’s new book. What a love about this book is the vulnerability that Steven shows as he shares his entire life in detail. The book draws you in and your heart will be forever touched by his family’s story.

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His authenticity in this book is what makes is so powerful. You see, he could just share with us his high moments in his life with his music career but he also shares the low moments and difficult times too: the struggles in his marriage, the hard times of parenting when touring and traveling, the road to their adoption of 3 girls, and lastly, the grief of losing their youngest daughter in a tragic accident.   Honestly, this is the part that will grab your heart and I recommend a box of Kleenex as the tears will come streaming down your face as you hear their heartbreaking story. It is truly so sad. But at the same time, as they share everything, you will also be in awe of how God cares about the details and the timing of events leading up to her death and the details after. You will see how God met them in their grief and because of Steven and his family’s strong faith in God, you will see how God is using his story and pain to help others- the beauty in the ashes.

There is something about being vulnerable that truly grabs at our hearts. So many people are trying to look like they have it all together. Think of social media like Facebook and Instagram, people post their pictures and everyone looks like they have these perfect lives. No one shares their struggles, their pain, their hard times- vulnerability is rare but very powerful. It allows other people to feel comfortable to share their struggles and pain instead of just pretending everything is perfect.

About 2 1/2 years ago I started this blog, heartbreaktostrength.wordpress.com, my very first post was called Being Vulnerable and I remember how hard it was to share about my divorce. I knew God was asking me to do it but I was so scared to put it all out there. Honestly, after I sent the emails, I remember taking a shower and thinking, Oh Sh*t, what did I just do. (Yes, I clearly remember swearing).   I got out of the shower and went back to my computer to see if anyone responded and I remember sitting there overwhelmed with what I read.   Many people had replied and what they shared with me was beautiful- they were vulnerable with me and shared their struggles and their difficulties. They would say something like thank you for sharing this and then they would tell me something very personal to them that I know I would have never learned if I had not been vulnerable first.   It was a powerful day that I will never forget. God made it so clear to me that day that you connect deeper with someone through your struggles and hard times than you can in your good times.

What do you need to share? I am not asking you to email it out to everyone you know but what can you share with a close friend? I want to encourage all of you to take down the masks of perfection and share the honest, authentic you! God can use you in ways you never knew possible. You see we all have a story and just like Steven was faithful to share his story in this book, God wants us to share our stories with others.

Here is my part 2 story of being vulnerable:

I am a single mom to two amazing boys but if I am complete honest, many times, being a single parent is super hard. I second guess my parenting all the time, and I feel frustrated that all the responsibility falls on me. I have an amazing support group that I can turn to for advice and help but the truth is that I am the only parent in my home and that can feel overwhelming at times. I try to be an intentional parent and that takes time. Trying to balance everyone’s schedule and mine is challenging. Some days, I feel like I am running around crazy and most days, I collapse into bed exhausted. I think many of you can relate.

Interestingly, this struggle of being a single mom has made me rely more and more on my faith and dependence on God! When we are weak, He is strong and I truly believe this. You see, the divorce for our family was heartbreaking and difficult and I would not wish it on anyone. However, it stretched me and grew me in ways I had never been stretched like that before. My faith is stronger now than the 2 1/2 years ago that I wrote to you all the first time. I call this “the bless in the mess”!   In Steven’s book, it is called the beauty in the ashes.

Ladies, don’t be afraid to share your entire story- the good and the bad. You will connect with others on a deeper level and you never know whose life you will touch and help by being vulnerable!

Love, Jodi