About the Author

Lisa-Jo is the best-selling author of Never Unfriended and Surprised by Motherhood. Her newest book, The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on You invites us to get a good look at our middles and gives us permission to embrace them.

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  1. Lisa-Jo,
    So excited about the upcoming (in)RL conference! I have never “attended” one before and am really looking forward to it! Golly, which story do I choose to share? Eight months of planning my wedding that will take place on Saturday (extraordinary)? or the times and trials of dealing with a prodigal son (un-fine)? or the unfathomable grace of God that has carried me through them all? Like many, my life is a fabric of interwoven stories…my job is to let them be used for God’s glory. Thank you for all that you and the (in)courage team do to build us up to carry on each and every day!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Oh Bev, I am so excited for your marriage this Saturday! I shall be thinking and praying for you this week and next!

      Hugs,

      Joanne

    • Prayers for a wonderful day Saturday, a terrific, relaxing honeymoon, and most importantly a great life together with this man!

      Excited for you and praying for you all!

      God Bless 🙂

  2. That video was amazing 🙂 I don’t really know how to make friends in the real world, so incourage has become a community for me–great because if I don’t feel like it I can see all you guys with no interaction required on my part. I feel like I get to know you without the pressure of figuring out how to respond, and I LOVE that…

    To answer the question of what un-fine moment impacted my life most–well that is a hard question because I have had a lot of things thrown at me this year…one of them was getting labeled with possible autism. That might seem negative, but it really doesn’t change who I already was to put a label on it, and in reading about it online, I have started to have a better understanding of why I am the way I am, and consequently what might help me to fit in to my world better. Another was when my counselor was stressed out one day and announced she was no longer going to meet with me, and didn’t want me to immediately get help from someone else because she doesn’t think it is good to jump from counselor to counselor. I felt alone and betrayed and like she didn’t care about me, and my internal response was to decide that if my life didn’t have any value to the person who was supposed to be helping me then I must have no value at all…and it is crazy how God stepped in when I was still at the bottom…so this person who used to be so anti-Christian that she would force Christians into counseling to deal with their Christianity issue, and still isn’t thrilled with Christianity but isn’t so actively opposed to it anymore, she just randomly walked up to me and asked if I would like a drink because she wanted to buy me one (oh, and did I mention that I am a leader of Cru, so there is no doubt I am Christian)…and that might seem like just some insignificant random act of kindness, but to me that action showed me that I matter. It started to give me hope back that I wasn’t just a lost cause not worth saving…oh, and I emailed my counselor a few days later after giving her some space and asked her to take me back, and she re-considered and was willing to take me back a couple weeks later…

  3. I need help….I’m going through a divorce, that was initiated by me. This is really hard and right now at this time, I’m feeling very very depressed and want to just hibernate in my house. I know that’s not good, but I just feel stuck.

    • Hey Cindy… sounds like you might need someone to chat with– I’d lend an ear if you’d like 🙂

    • Oh, Cindy, my heart aches for what you are going through. You are so loved by God. Praying you can rest in Him even when it feels like your world is falling apart. He is so mighty to save and I know he will redeem even this. We need your story, too…

    • I’m so sorry for what you are going through. I initiated my own divorce 16 months ago and it is still not final. I truly feel your pain and will pray for you.

    • Cindy,

      Praying for you and your family right now. May God step in and surround you with His love, healing and peace.

      • Oh Cindy, I have walked that path! Please know that you are even now being held in the arms of God, who loves you with an everlasting love! I am praying for you, for peace, for healing of your wounds, and for an abiding joy despite the circumstances. He will walk you through this, and carry you whenever you need Him to, and He can restore those broken places inside. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone for support…even if it is one of us stranger-sisters. We are here to sing your song back to you until you can remember it and sing it again yourself. You are loved!

    • Oh Cindy……that is a very hard place to find yourself. I found myself there about five years ago. I had to lean heavily on the Lord and push forward. It is important to have friends and/or family to offer support and encouragement too. He will meet you in your greatest need and will supply the assurance of his presence. I am not sure how……but it seemed to me to come at such odd times. I remember driving on a toll road in California- my car full of just about everything I could load into it and having to pull off the road because I couldn’t see through the tears. It was an incredible moment when I realized that my husband, whom I was married for more than 30 years, never really knew me……my adult children……never really knew my heart……But there I was sitting at the side of the road……grasping how the Lord knew me so well- and the fact was- He loved me even in my flight………in my running away. He has sustained me- he will sustain you. If you ever want to talk- please know I am available to you……………..

  4. There were a few things thrown at me last year, but the one that has caused me the most pain and made life “un-fine” was the announcement from our 43 year-old son that was a Pastor that he was going to divorce his wife of 17 years. Not only did he proceed to do that, but he also ended up marrying the 23 year-old woman who his church and his wife had accused him of having an affair with as soon as the divorce was final (5 months).
    We have not spoken to our son since May and the fallout has also included his brother, our other son who he has managed to have believe all of his lies. It hurts and the situation is still “unfine” but I am thankful because it has deepened our walk with the Lord and praying friends have blessed our lives. Also, Ann Voscamp’s advent devotional and remembering to daily be thankful for all the blessings has lessened the pain.

  5. Hugs for you Lisa-Jo! I think all us Mums can relate. Some days tho, I answer ‘fine’ just because I don’t have the energy to deal with it. But, real friends know ‘fine’ means ‘I’m not ready to talk about it yet’ 😉
    Sending {HUGS} to you and your family from me and mine xo

  6. My un-fine story? Losing my job at the beginning of the year. What should have been the most terrifying, stressful season … God redeemed and made beautiful. When I was finally brave enough to share what I was going through, a community of women surrounded me in unbelievably supportive, encouraging ways. When I stopped being “fine” I gave these women a reason & a way to use their God-given gifts to walk beside me.

  7. My un-fine story? Having one of the worst winters with my constant compaions of depression and anxiety. EVER. January until April were some of the hardest months for me… just living, getting out of bed, getting dressed and finding joy were a constant battle… and one I lost many times. On one of those days, I couldn’t even get out of bed to get to work… and instead of telling my boss the lie I so wanted to tell, that I had a migraine (read “I’m fine”) I told him the truth. And God’s grace was evident in his response to me… God used that day to remind that He never leaves me… EVER – even when I feel the furthest away from Him. Praying for you friend… for you and your children, praying right along side you!

  8. My unfine story from last year includes helping to nurse my father-in-law through the final stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which was difficult and heart-rending after the 20-year battle he’d waged with it. Afterwards, my husband had an affair, left my son and I, and we’re now embroiled in a contentious divorce after a 23 year marriage. It’s a daily battle to focus on my blessings, although I’m determined to do that. I truly believe that God doesn’t ask us to walk anywhere that his grace will not be sufficient to cover us, and I’m trying now to focus on that as well.

    • Tracey,

      Prayers for you and your son. May God surround you all during this trying time and bring peace. I pray you feel His love, grace & mercy all over you and your son.

      God Bless! 🙂

  9. Just reading the responses above so far proves just how un-fine we all can be. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the next (in)RL conference since….last April. I can. Not. Wait.

    This year we took a major family crisis hit, I addition to my own personal one. Broken is a state of being that I recognize easier and easier in myself, partly because of the constant encouragement provided here, by all of you in this beautiful community.

    I need to hear sties like mine. And different. And to know we are all in this together!

  10. It’s so *undone* inside I’m not even sure what it is that’s broken… I just know something isn’t right… Not whole… And I can’t put my finger on where the crack is in my soul….

    • Hi Mellee

      I understand how you feel. I felt that way in my 20’s. I am sorry you do not feel whole, and I pray that the Lord leads you in a direction that will start your path to healing and wholeness. It is a process, but I promise you, little by little, if you seek God and allow him to do patchwork on your soul, you will get to a place of wholeness! He did it for me, and He can do it for you too!
      Blessings and Good Cheer,
      LauraBeth~

      Visit me at http://www.CheerfulHearts.com and let your heart be inspired!

  11. I’ve had quite a few “un-fine” moments last year, most of them revolving around some really challenging behavior on the part of one of my kids, so I can relate! The other has been trying to adjust to a new life in our old hometown after living internationally for 3.5 years. Very difficult. Very lonely. Very hard to give up the life I viewed as nearly perfect for one that is most definitely not.

  12. My unfine moment hit me when I was taking an intensive class at Liberty University in October of 2013. I had an ugly meltdown that week -UGLY, messy. I had gone into the week with the excitement that I had had from the other class I’d taken in July. I was “free” for a week to be me – my husband was watching our son at home and I was on my own. It wasn’t the same experience as July where I had my first adult road trip, ironically it was going to college, but one where the ugly reality of life hit me like a muddy dog that knocks you off balance and leaves you wondering what just hit you and what is all over me. The funny thing about attending counseling classes is that you are surrounded by counselors and when you melt down you are cared for, but they were also in training and may not get that God was changing your path. That big ugly muddy dog knocked me to a new path – one I didn’t know about. Part of my problems that week was my health – I felt awful, “Montezuma’s revenge”, headaches, flare up of my Chiari symptoms, and more. I don’t know how I drove home from Virginia to Georgia, but God got me home and I crashed. I cancelled my upcoming classes to take some time to “be still” and I only got sicker and sicker. Finally after suffering through Thanksgiving I went to the doctor because of a pain in my side and just feeling awful. She ran blood work and did an ultrasound and eventually a CT scan. I have non alcoholic fatty liver disease and food intolerances of corn, soy, wheat/gluten, peanut, sesame, and shellfish. I had no choice, unless I wanted a liver transplant in a few years, to change how I eat. Food became fuel and not my emotional pacifier. A month in and I’ve lost 15 lbs. It’s hard! I have to learn how to cook all over again because of the food intolerances. I’m feeling better and I am loving what I see on this new path. I see some interesting twists and turns ahead and some areas are pretty foreboding to me as the path is dark in that area. The one thing I know is God told me to TRUST him and that’s what I’m doing. Detoxing from eating “wrong” all my life isn’t easy. Trust me it’s hard to find a chocolate bar without soy in it. The meltdown felt like hell, but I made it through that hard part. Life’s a journey and we’re wandering it together.

  13. The most un-fine time of my life? I think it hit this weekend when my sister found out on the Internet that our father passed last October. His current wife did a great job of pushing everyone away from them, and keeping him to herself.

    Thankfully, we had had a God-gift chance meeting last summer, and I got to talk to him without her being there. During those minutes, he apologized for all he did that caused division in our family. Gift received!

    Although the coming weeks will be taxing, I have peace! He is with me!

  14. Boy do I relate to “l’m fine”. I’m fine…since my youngest son and his wife are divorcing…with three children under age eight. I’m fine that one of his twins has not only decided he doesn’t want to be a part of our family…but does not want to be a part of this world…told me he wants to run in the street and be run over by a car…what seven year old….SEVEN year old…frequently talks about killing themselves!!! Can I talk about this with my Mom? Only if I could find a way to bring her back to 2014…she is lost somewhere in the mid stages of Alzheimer’s. BUT…I do have a God who sustains me, His grace is sufficient, and I do have a safe place to NOT be fine in the arms of my beloved husband of 33 years. I DO have a haven of rest in a group of prayer warrior women who listen, encourage, and lift me up to the Father. Am I “just fine”? No. Will I be okay? His grace is sufficient…His love never ending…His blood completly cleansing…yes…I will be okay.

    • That is a lot, Jackie. Praying for you now. That you would continue to feel God’s sufficient grace in your life and for protection for your precious grandchildren as they go through this tumultuous time. So very hard and my heart hurts for your family. Keep leaning hard on the Lord. He is so very worthy of your trust! Hugs, Becky

  15. My un-fine, ordinary, extraordinary story last year, was walking through terminal cancer with my husband. It was a year of difficulty and pain (the hardest year of my life)…yet a year of God showing up in amazing, unexpected, wonderful ways. I lost my husband in July and am now walking the widow journey. I began a blog in March last year and the Lord used it in my life to help me walk through grief in a healthy, honest, healing way. I am so thankful that when our world shatters, God picks up the pieces and creates a masterpiece from it.
    4 years ago, I started asking God for a word and a verse to claim over my year. This year, He gave me “New” Is 43:19. And He is already unfolding some new things in my life. I am getting more involved in women’s ministry in my church (which is my calling), and the Lord is opening doors up right in front of me! I do not know what other “New” things the Lord has in store for me this year…but I am excited about this journey He has me on and I am embracing it! ONLY JESUS!!

  16. My “unfine” story beins with my dad passing away at the young age of 62, due to early onset Alzheimer’s. As if that wasn’t enough, my oldest daughter walked out 3 months later at the age of 18, and only half way through her sr year of high school. Our world was shattered, our hearts broken, and our four youngest kids wondering why this sister who supposedly loved them so much would leave. As my daughter found her way from one home to another, literally every 2-3 months we’d get a call about a tragedy or crisis that my daughter found herself in. We were visiting her in psych wards, watching her deal with PTSD when she came back home for a few short months, and wondering if we’d find her dead in the morning because she talked about suicide a lot. It was a year of hell, to be honest, and depression because a constant companion to me, as well as grief and sorrow. But God, in his kindness and faithfulness, never let me go. He carried me all the way. On those days when I couldn’t function, he brought friends along who would function for me. Never would I have imagined walking through this. Never. Our daughter currently wants nothing to do with us and we seldom, if ever, hear from her. The pain is still raw and very real, but God’s love for me has become bigger than my consequences and I am more aware of his grace in my life than ever before. Wouldn’t want to walk this road again, but also wouldn’t trade where I’m not at spiritually for anything. God is so good.

    • I shall be praying for you, I have literally walked that path with my daughter almost 6 years ago now and even yet through today. Psych, suicide, drugs, alcohol, not knowing where she was, still not most of the time, scared for her because of choices and people she was hanging out with, boyfriends, pregnancies. I also could not truly function either. She still does not contact us unless she wants something, does not return our e-mails and phone calls. But, there is still life eventually, and the Lord still carries. You shall be taught by the Lord how to survive, thrive, and pray, and I also learned Who the Lord really is

      Blessings,

      Joanne

  17. My un-fine story? The one I never want to tell but need to? Leaving a verbally abusive husband and being given a Godly, loving husband, all within a year. Losing my job because of it, and losing most of my community as well. Having to move away and start over completely while trying to rebuild emotional foundations is hard, but God is teaching me how to let go of the strongholds and to refute Satan’s lies that I am not good enough.

    I’m so ready for the conference. It changes my life every year!

  18. Sweet friend, you are amazing! You fight for love, and sometimes with love. I’m so thankful the Un-fine events that happened to me, because they led me to you, and to (in)courage!

    When I came knocking all batter and bruised, You, and this community, opened the door wide and welcomed me in. I love you, Lisa-Jo, and (In)courage!

  19. Wow…what a great article and just look at the response. So much pain. And such a relief to see we aren’t failing and struggling alone while everyone else is doing “great”. I have been so touched reading everyone’s stories. Thanks Lisa Jo for the honesty and transparency and the old fashioned “guts” it must have taken to write the article and for all the women who responded in kind.

  20. My unfine moment came when my sweet 4 year old nephew descended into the hell known as PANS/PANDAS. We didn’t know what was afflicting him as the pediatrician and hospital couldn’t diagnose it. Our ascent from this hell was due to our opening up to others and sharing what we were going through. Friends and strangers both helped us find the diagnosis, correct doctor and slow but steady cure.

  21. A bittersweet experience reading through these comments…..feeling so, SO alone in the midst of healing from years of torment and abuse, dealing with more recent crises (the death of my mother after years of Alzheimer’s, an incomprehensible betrayal at a Christian workplace, loss of work, financial strain, personal crises my kids are going through….) I, too, struggled with overwhelming challenges with 2 of my kids. Despite loving the Lord and loving them, we had many, many un-fine moments—no, un-fine years. Shame from all the brokenness. Why couldn’t I just be one of those beautiful, talented Christian women with the adoring husband and perfect kids? What was wrong with me? Hiding……now healing….now becoming bolder. Talking to the leadership group at my church, telling them that I don’t think I’m the only one and that “We” are in desperate need of ministry. Lord, use us.

  22. My unfine moment…..was all of last year. We have only one child. And she would rather live anywhere else. We adopted her at birth. Our hearts ache for her. Over the last 12 months she has verbally accosted me, physically abused me, and been destructive in our home. She is eight years old. Eight. We have all been in therapy for almost 4 years. Since Thanksgiving small cracks of light have begun to peek through her deeply guarded shell. God is answering our specific prayers that her heart will soften, especially toward me. She has shown new thoughtfulness, some tender forgiveness, she spoken the word “love” aloud and visibly wondered at the feel of it on her tongue. She has let the markers & scissors & tools of past destruction become instruments for creativity, to begin to express her feelings. She still rages. But we are clinging to the Rock.

  23. My un-fine moment: Realizing I’m alone. I’m married with no children and he travels. I live thousands of miles away from family. My family is experiencing problems and I’ve decided to abandon most social media because I need to hear their voices.
    With tears streaming, I write because just yesterday I received text after text and I lost it. Admittedly, I was selfish…I’ll-mannered and wrong. Today, I woke up and began my work which was to hand letter 1 Corinthians 13 about “love”. (This after much prayer asking God why I was so alone?!) I picked up my camera and photographed my work. “Love is patient. Love is kind.it is not conceited or proud. Love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; Love does not keep a record of wrongs; Love is not happy with evil but rejoices in truth. Love never gives up; And it’s faith, hope and patience never fail.”
    I failed, but I had to admit I was wrong. I’m never alone. It was hard to apologize, but it was worth it.
    I still have some mending to do, but I realized this morning that God never let’s us go…his love encourages us to trust Him…seek Him and He will open the door.
    Praying for those of you too, who feel as I do that we have cracks in our lives, but we are never really alone. Thank you God! We are never alone.

  24. Funny….I had shared my un-fine moment with friends and family at the end of December. It was ugly and difficult to open up and share my struggles from 2013…and yet it was so freeing. This is a little long but here is what I shared with them:

    As one year closes and another one approaches, I can’t help but think back to this past year. So much happened in just a year! And if you had told me at the end of 2012 what was awaiting me this year, I would have laughed at you (or yelled in disbelief)! Everything that I had thought would happen in 2013, did not. Yet I’m grateful because the lessons that I’ve learned this year have dealt with deep things that broke me to the core…but the year is ending with a greater faith and love for God. God truly knows what He is doing when He does not allow my plans to happen.

    This has been the year of faith. Right from the get-go.

    The very first day…January 1st.

    I was rocked out of what I had hoped for and I was left broken. What a way to start 2013….broken down. But when you are broken to pieces, God can sure put you back together the way He wants. It just takes a little faith that He knows what is best for you.

    Over and over this year God brought me to the story of Abraham. Abraham went through so much, and he was human and made mistakes…but he had faith to believe the impossible. Whether it was choosing to believe that he and Sarah could have a child (as old as they were), following God to an unnamed place, or laying his son Isaac upon the altar…every single piece required faith from Abraham. Each time I read the story of Abraham, God kept speaking new things to me regarding faith and trust.

    This was no longer just a word to me, but an action. An action that He was calling me to walk out. Even in the deep pain, I was to choose to have faith in God’s grace and goodness.

    I had no idea where that faith would lead. No idea what awaited. But God did. He had it all under control. So, I chose to trust Him and began to jump out in faith at the things He placed upon my heart…even though it hurt to do so. It required me to turn from my desires, my comfort, and even some of my friends. Nothing made sense to me anymore, except His Word and His truth.

    In faith, I turned in a letter indicating my desire for a one-year leave of absence and then began the process of applying to teach overseas. A couple of months afterwards, I was offered a job to teach in Brazil. And obviously I accepted. 😉

    This new move in my life would require even more faith but in different areas. No matter what I was doing, the story of Abraham was always close to my heart. This new move brought me to the faith it required for Abraham to leave his country, his father’s home and go to a land that God would show him (Genesis 12). I began the process to close up my life in Montana for a year and follow God to a new land. Faith was now being put into action.

    Waiting for my visa to clear challenged my faith and perseverance to hope for things that He promised to me. And after staying in Kansas City for 2 1/2 months (a little vacation…thanks Heafner family!), I was finally on my way to Brazil. But living out faith did not end there.

    Once I arrived here in Brazil, I was not only living out this faith but I was losing all control that I once thought I had. Living in a foreign country requires trust, faith and a humbleness to ask for help. It has been difficult to learn that I cannot do things on my own. I need others. I need God. With this journey I am on, I have to be willing to depend upon others. Whether it is help interpreting for me, getting a ride to a doctor’s appointment, having someone call to make the doctor appointment for me (that was fun), or relying upon a team of people to help me learn to love this place. It all takes faith in God that He has placed these people in my life to help mold me into who He needs me to be.

    Yes, this has been a year of faith. And just because I am entering a new year does not mean this lesson is over. It shall continue, for all of my days. But I also am beginning to sense a new lesson that God wants to instill in me this next year. I’m not sure I’m ready for it…but I guess He believes I am. So even though I may have ideas of what I would like to have transpire in 2014, I give it all up to Him and simply say “Your will be done”.

    Bring on the New Year and may I be able to look back at 2014 and see God’s handiwork in it all….just like I can see it in this past year.

    • Oh, and my un-fine story?

      I keep thinking I’ve been through the hardest year of my life…and then it just gets harder.

      This year I changed jobs, found out my baby brother and best friend are getting married (and I’m still very single), discovered that my identity has been completely wrapped up in being perfect and doing enough (looking good, keeping up appearances, etc), changed churches, had God say “no” to several of my big “plans.”

      However, I’ve found that…God is more than faithful. His plans are greater than mine. He understands my sorrow. He is walking with me through the pain and has provided support through unexpected avenues. He provided a vacation that I didn’t think I could afford. He has answered several “extravagant” (and totally unnecessary) prayers for me and is giving me joy in my pain.

  25. I drove along the back country roads from last year’s inRL conference changed.

    I had thrown in my stone and was determined to live according to my identity in Christ not my insecurities. What I’ve come to realize is that although from a young age I have had to fight for my life, I need to stop fighting and start living.

    Immanuel, God with me, and Christ who is in me, goes before me so my un-fine story is still un-finished for He’s still working on me! But He who said, “It is finished” is the one who won the victory that I may say, “[T]hanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God . . . ” (2 Cor 2:14,15)

    My un-fine story that He’s still finishing:
    http://asoftgentlevoice.blogspot.ca/2013/04/when-god-makes-way-and-heals-hearts.html

    Praise God.

    (Thank you, Lisa-Jo)

  26. I am living my un-fine story right now in this very second. I am a single mom who adopted 2 older children, sisters. I found out after the fact that the younger of the two has autism and developmental delays as well as numerous physical issues. I had to quit my job. I wouldn’t trade my girls for anything, but their stories intersected with my life story of abuse of never measuring up, never being good enough, always trying to be perfect yet falling short and trying to run from the memories of the past. Then something broke inside of me. Something, I don’t know what, shattered. I cannot get it together anymore, but yet, “I’m fine” is the refrain I give. I am not fine, though and I don’t know how to get fine. I feel that if people knew just how un-fine I actually was, they would run from me. So, I try to balance my life of “I’m fine” and my “un-fine” life but it is not working very well. I don’t have a lot of friends because I just don’t know many people. I am very “un-fine” trying to hold onto the promises of God’s Word in the hope that I will be fine again someday.

  27. I’m “just fine” every day. I was “fine” when my brother died. I am “fine” when my difficult 8 year old gives me a run for my money. I am “fine” no matter what happens in my life. Oddly, people know what is going on in my life and they accept my “fine” answer. Inside I’m screaming “push me, don’t push me, love me, leave me alone”. Honestly, how can you accept the just fine answer from somebody whose brother just died?

    • Hi Amy,

      In answer to your question, I do not know how anyone could think you were ‘fine” after losing your brother. Of course your not fine, your heart is aching, and you are grieving. I think many just do not know what to say, and sadly, some just don not want to know the truth about how you feel. If some one asks and your not feeling fine, be honest, but also be careful who you open up to. I hope that this has offered you some encouragement . Its o.k, NOT to be “Fine” my friend.
      Blessing and Good Cheer,
      LauraBeth~
      visit me @www.CheerfulHearts.com & Let your heart be inspired!

  28. Unfine? My daughter has Crohn’s disease. In August the disease had turned very ugly requiring the removal of her large intestine and 2/3 of her small intestine. She was hospitalized for nearly 5 months, coming home just before Thanksgiving, and has been back in the hospital three times since then. She is on permanent liquid nutrition.
    And is currently hospitalized for an infection in the line into her body that delivers her life-saving nutrition. Through this process over the past 6+ months, I have watched as her horrific abdominal wounds have been cleaned and dressed. I would wish that no other mom would need to stand by her child’s bedside and see into the depth and mess of such wounds.
    The blessings? My daughter is a beautiful Christian woman who loves The Lord with all her heart. Her husband is a loving, godly man who tenderly cares for her and their two children. There is an army of friends and family who pray for her and her family and help with their daily needs. All IS grace, when God is in it. We don’t know…we just trust

  29. When I read the word “un-fine” I immediately thought of the long running joke in our home when we banter back and forth about being “fine”—I’m fine, are you fine? Oh yes, I’m very fine! It’s a fine-fine day…and so on. Fine has become societal go-to word for when your reality is everything but “fine”.

    My life was “fine” for a long-time. Prior to Christ I never amounted to anything passed fine because I was unlearned about the possibility that life could be anything different. Zipping by my rebirth and transformation—what is now known as my “un-fine” story, I want to tell you how that un-fine story found itself in the forefront of my life, paving way for the opportunity to let others know that the “un-fine”, can be “refined” and made new in our precious Lord and Savior.

    On Monday, September 30, 2013 I sat outside reading from the book of Mark aloud. I began from the beginning, each word pulling me forward to the unknown. Prior to, I had come to place of confusion and defeat—what was my purpose for all that I had been dealt and healed from? The culture in America had began to irritate my soul—God what do you want from me? How is it that you want me to further Your Kingdom on this earth? I begged for God to tell me or show me the direction where my life was to be.

    I came to Mark 5, the demon-possessed man whom fell at the feet of Jesus and was healed. The un-fine was refined and made new, then he went off and proclaimed the mighty work of Jesus. In the few moments it took me to read this story—one of which I had read before—I feel to my knees in ample understanding of what I had missed, of what it was that I was called to do—go and tell of what I have done for you, proclaim it to the ends of the earth. I too was once possessed. By the tainting lie of this world, the enemy once had a strong hold on my most inner parts, but then I fell at the feet of Jesus and was healed. Now it was time to go.

    The truth is, He immediately told me where. The other truth is, I wanted to ignore it, I wanted to run in the other direction because the place, the corner, the building where He called me to, was where the final steps of the coming to the end of myself where made.

    I came up with excuses—I don’t have a car Lord, so I can’t go. I don’t have anyone to watch my daughter Lord, so I can’t go. Then the phone rang.

    My mom called for no particular reason but to tell me she was headed to Salt Lake City the following day—exactly where I needed to go. She asked if I wanted to go too, with my daughter, spending the morning doing whatever. Without speaking any detail I bowed my head with the phone in my hand and asked if she could be to my home by 8:30am, there was somewhere I needed to be by 9:00am.

    That night I lay in bed thinking about what I had done and where I would be tomorrow. Drawing-up situations of how I thought it might go, I eventually fell asleep trusting that God was up to something and I would trust that He would use me however well fit for His glory.

    When my mom walked in the door she looked at me. She knew.

    “Are we going to the abortion clinic?” she asked.

    “Yes.” I responded.

    Without further questions we loaded into her car and drove to the city.

    On our drive she explained how God had been preparing her for this. She hadn’t known it at the time, but now saw full circle why God had been continually putting the topic of abortion on her plate.

    She asked me why I had done it—It had only been the last couple of years that she heard my full story; the complete “un-fine” truth. I explained that it was out of sheer selfishness. That my heart had been hardened by the world and the life I led. A baby would have been inconvenient for the life I had made for myself, it would have changed my path. And before we knew it the car came to a stop in-front of the building where hell was contained by four walls.

    Another car had pulled in previously, turning off its engine as we parked directly in back of it. A woman got out, smiled at us and proceeded to the clinic.

    My insides where unstable and I felt at any minute I would lose myself completely.

    “Do you want me to pray?” she asked, taking my hand in hers.

    “Yes, please!”

    Bowing my head I looked out the window to the woman nearing the pit. Instantly as if God himself had opened my door and pulled me out, I was running full-speed toward her.

    “Wait!” I yelled.

    Stopping and turning toward me, the woman smiled and asked me if I was ok.

    I asked her if she was going into the clinic. Explaining that she was—assuming I too was going in, she asked me if I wanted her to go in with me.

    I told her that I had already been inside those doors years ago. Without pause she told me that she too had been in there before. Instant defeat began to fester in my heart—What now Lord? How do I plead with someone who finds this all to be routine? And just as He has so many times before, Holy Spirit took over all that was unstable and spoke the Truth that needed to be heard. Taking her hand I explained the great love the Father has lavished on us, that she was loved and could be forgiven of all that she had done, or may do. I pleaded for her not to go in, giving her a small paper that I had printed a bible verse and my phone number on. Hugging me, she smiled and said she would think about it. Turning from the spot where we stood she walked to the door, rang to be let in, and following the sound of the deadbolt lifting, she entered.

    With prompting I went and sat on the curb. For one hour I sat. No other person came or left the building. I sat and prayed for the woman, the unborn child in her, and those that worked in the clinic. And then I heard the deadbolt lift.

    Slowly turning the woman I had spoke to before stood.

    “You win.” she said, hanging her head defeated, releasing the pain that had built for too long.

    She sat down beside me and pulled-out the ultrasound picture, displaying her beautiful 9 week old child. She hadn’t aborted the baby. And in that moment all of heavens angels rejoiced for the one life that was saved! As the cars rushed by, as people came and went, I held her and we cried.

    From there the next hours were spent unpacking the “un-fine” stories we both had. God allowed for my past to be used for His glory. I proclaimed the mighty work done in me, and told her that the same could be done in her. Taking her hands one last time I asked if I could pray for her. Without hesitation she said yes and closed her eyes.

    Walking her to her car we said goodbye. I have not seen or heard from her since—but my story does not end there.

    Three days later my husband and I were making our way to St. George for him to run a marathon. On the drive down I received an unexpected phone call from the Brigham City Pregnancy Care Center asking me if I would step-in on Saturday evening to speak at their annual banquet. Their guest of honor was unable to attend because of his car dying in Denver, leaving him stranded until it could be repaired. I sat stunned—jaw on the floor of our car. It was obvious that I was to speak; the possibility of me getting from one end of the state to another in one day was the question. Before I could put all my ducks in a row I accepted the invitation and hung up. God had been vigorously moving, and what seemed impossible to me in that moment, I knew wasn’t for Him.

    The following 48 hours went by in a whirl-wind of 26.2 marathon miles ran by my husband, and driving 683 miles. As we pulled up to the Brigham City Community Center where the banquet had already been going on for the past hour, I quickly changed my cloths in the car and walked into a room filled with over a hundred people.

    Within fifteen minutes I was standing at the front of the room, telling the audience my “un-fine” story, and how God had used it to save one life just three days before. How what they were all there supporting mattered, and that if the work that was being done at the Brigham City Pregnancy Care Center was to save just one life, it would be worth it.

    Aside from this story, I have recently learned through continued sharing of the “un-fine” that the only way we will ever move towards a life of being “refined” is if we all get passed saying we are “fine” to begin with.

    Prayers and blessing to you all!

    Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. [1 Tim 1:15-17]

  30. “Un-fine” was my middle name last year. So many things with ministry, cancer, children, hurt, betrayal…the list is a mile long and I ran out of tissues a long time ago. But God.
    How would I make it without Him? I’m with you Lisa Jo. “Fine” is lonely, and dishonest most of the time. And chances are, the person asking you is un-fine to. Let’s be real with each other. I just had this conversation with a sweet girl last Wednesday. We talked about this very thing. She asked how our trip was to visit family with stage four cancer. It wasn’t fine. Turns out she had just said goodbye to her mother-in-law a few months earlier, and knew by heart exactly what we are facing. I so would have missed out if I had told her our trip was “fine.” And she would have too. A chance to share, and heal.

  31. I don’t know how to say it. I’m so locked up inside. I don’t know where the key is, or when it disappeared. I feel like a pressure cooker, I don’t feel safe. I’m afraid.

  32. My story has been going for several years starting with a daughter we adopted at age two, raising her, the turmoil, the not understanding what was happening no matter what I did or did not do. Our family falling apart, interference by family and friends, my daughter getting pregnant three times outside of marriage, and abusing drugs, alcohol, and the scary promiscuity, and in the midst of all of this, we being instructed by the Lord to adopt our 2 grandsons, and the huge changes in our small family now going on three years ago and the tiny boys trauma issues and us not being young anymore. Our now 19 year old struggling with the massive fallout in his then 13 year old life, adopting these two tiny boys when he was just shy of 16 and becoming a big brother, and all of our changes. Our granddaughter being in foster care, wondering if she will be part of our family. Our daughter, still rejecting us, but still clinging tenuously wanting some sort of relationship. My husband and I having to start from scratch again with our marriage, and through it all becoming really broken, really coming to see and experience who Jesus really is, and seeing who I am in Him. For often the last 6 years, opening the Word and weeping over the revelation I am seeing. My father dying, but peace because the last two years of his life, coming to have a relationship with him while he was dying, and knowing He has made peace with Jesus. My mother receiving the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease and realizing life is fragile, my husband’s health issues……and the Lord is still working amongst all of the heartache. Discovering the Joy Dare, and the incourage blog, and so much has been a blur, but we are still standing even amongst the exhaustion!

    The Lord has given promises of creating a new thing, restoration, healing, helping us, being a prisoner of hope, and hardening us to our difficulties, not hard hearts, but being given a heart of flesh, and fearing less the externals. I still become afraid and discouraged, but these promises I must hold on tight to with the fingernails digging into my palm of my hand.

  33. My unfine story…saga…from last year was our jump back into full time ministry. Self-supported full time ministry which means that our finances are dependent on the giving of others. Gulp. We made the physical move back to our beloved NC mountains, but we’ve been housesitting for almost a year and it has been a struggle to feel any sense of security.

    I decided before we moved that I was going to be really bold in building community once we moved. I’ve had various successes and failures along the way and still feel God’s pull to be brave and continue pursuing relationships even when it is easy to feel like a weirdo or less than others because of our unusual calling.

    I’m still learning how to be honest as I share the struggles of our calling and life.

  34. It was hard to write, so I did it in third person. It was even harder to post for everyone to see, but looking back I see how I am lighter, a bit more free. My story as I’ve told it before. . .

    Because God is good, I write to remember.

    Because God gives grace, I write to give thanks

    Because God has repaired these broken parts of me, I write to share the story of his mercy.

    The moon peaks through windows of the room casting shadows. She is settled in for sleep, and her sister lays beside her. When she closes her eyes she remembers all that remains unsettled. How many nights, she wonders, has she prayed that God would forgive her? How many nights would she remember the sickness of her secret, and lie awake beneath the coverings of shame?

    Trees move against the wall, and little legs squirm beneath blankets. She is overwhelmed by what she knows, and she tries to forget how she was held down. She tries to forget how her eyes were opened to the disgust of sin. She wants to escape her thoughts, and she wonders if she had been able to escape the Evil if she would be laying here right now in her bed of guilt.

    Tonight is the night she is crushed by the weight of hell. Tonight is the night she will stumble out of her silence. She is brave, she is courageous and she won’t realize how amazing she is until she looks back at that night many years later.

    Her whispers carry to her nearly sleeping sister, “I can’t sleep. I’ve done something bad.”

    The drowsy sister questions.

    “I can’t say,” she whispers, “it’s too bad. I need to tell Dad.”

    Yes, she knew she must. She knew she needed to bring this brokenness to her father, and he would put her back together. She makes her way through the house while darkness surrounds her. She is all fear.

    The room is quiet while that same moon brightens small. She worries of upsetting them. She has come too far to turn back from that racing mind determined. She moves to his side of the bed. “Dad?” she urges. She wonders how he isn’t awakened by the thudding of her heart.

    He stirs and she tries to get it all out before her nerve deserts.

    “I’ve done something. . . I can’t tell you. . . I need you to forgive me!” She falls limp into arms and he holds her. She trembles with tears inside that place of acceptance as he holds her. Time passes in that room on one ordinary night that guilt proved too much for one small girl to carry and still he holds her.

    She releases all in the arms of her father, and he is the symbol of powerful love and patience in his holding.

    Not one night since did she lay awake haunted by the shame of her past. God was faithful to that little girl who sought forgiveness for sin she didn’t own, and it was years later that she saw the beauty of her story. She learned that she could come to her father and lay out all the ugliness of her life for him, and he would hold her. His arms are always open and ready to receive the mess of sin and he is waiting to give a life the beauty of hope.

  35. Jessica,
    thank you.
    I live the ‘other side of the pond’ in the U.K. so speaking not really practical, but I will look for the right outlet for my story.
    Thank you for your wise encouragement. I know I need help.
    Bless you, Ruth x

    • Ruth,

      I too live in the U.K. – I hope you are ok. Can I lend a listening ear?

      God bless,
      Louise

  36. My un-fine moment has been going on for years with our struggle to start our family. But the worst moment of this was last May when we did conceive and then ended up losing our miracle baby due to a miscarriage at 6.5 weeks. We are atill struggling through the pain and questions. We have started trying again but with no luck. We are lost and confused and don’t understand why our baby is not here on earth with us. I know deep down he has a plan and the most amazing perfect timing for us. Sometimes I just wish it would happen sooner than later. But I know I can’t rush him and I know he wouldn’t have placed this on our hearts if he didn’t already have something in the works. While we don’t understand we still trust him and have hope for our future babies and family our hearts desired. It was a rough year last year and I pray everyday that this year will be the year our prayers are answered. I want to be a mommy so bad and I know my husband wants to be a daddy. My heart aches to carry our child and see my husband hold our baby for the first time. Praying for our future babies.

  37. The preview made me cry, because I don’t really have a story. I’m just an ordinary stay at home mom. But the preview made me think that maybe that IS my story.

    But there’s also the story that I don’t tell. The one that has me in tears at night, and makes my heart ache, and my stomach clench. My little sister is gay, she married her partner, and they are wanting to have a baby. Somehow, things between us have gotten really bad and she doesn’t want to have a relationship with me anymore. I’m learning not to say it’s my fault, but that’s what I feel.

    That’s the other story. But who really wants to hear that one?

    • Melinda,

      It hurt my heart to hear you say that. Girl, you DO have a story. An unbelievably beautiful, unique story that only you can tell. And whatever roads you’ve walked, they’re important and they’re yours. And you’ve got to share that with the world, with the people around you. Even if it all feels ordinary or “normal” – someone needs to hear that so their ordinary doesn’t feel as ordinary anymore. And the “other story” …? It’s one and the same. Just one big beautiful weaving of your life, the good and the bad, the easy and the hard, and everything that’s somewhere in the middle. Take joy in that – He gave you your story for a reason. I wrote on (in)courage this summer about how theres power in every story. It’s true. There’s power in your story.

  38. My story is one of learning to let go and letting our children fall. We had a rocky time as our son graduated from high school, decided that God is not for him and will now be moving out of state this weekend. I am learning to fall also – into the arms of my loving Father, who loves our boy more than we do. All I can do is let go and trust.

    • Dear Olivia,

      I am the oldest girl of nine children — my parents have always done an amazing job of living out their relationships with Christ in beautiful and practical ways — and I still completely turned my back on God shortly after I graduated high school. I also moved away. I made some devastating, irreversible choices that affected the whole family.

      I wrote a blog post titled “To the Parents of Prodigal Children” after I ended up coming back to Christ, understanding more of what I put my parents through, and then when I became a young mom myself having a little deeper understanding of the agony and struggle they experienced because of my choices.

      I pray this post is a blessing and an encouragement to you! http://www.wheregivinghappens.com/to-the-parents-of-prodigal-children-4/

      Love in Christ,
      Elise

  39. WOW! So many un-fine stories! I wish more women, especially Christians would quit saying they are fine and just tell me what the problem is. I know that nothing is too hard for God to handle.

    I will be your listening ear and offer a should to cry on, if need be. I’m here to encourage you and let you know you are not alone@!

    Can’t wait for In (RL)

    Prayers for everyone! God Bless! 🙂

  40. I’m sitting here with my fingers on the keyboard thinking, “Which story should I share”? There are many that make up my life. But I think the most recent one is the one that’s changed me the most. It revitalized my relationship with Jesus. It showed me that I have friends who love me which I didn’t believe before. It showed me how to let down my walls and let others in. It drew me closer to my dad — something I thought was impossible. The story’s name is cancer. And I lived it this past year. Surgeries, waiting for results, many tests and more waiting. Four months of chemotherapy. Losing all my hair. Wearing a hat every day. For a month and a half going to the hospital daily for radiation treatments. And working full time in the midst of it all. I wish I could tell you every mini-story that goes with this big one, but I’d need a whole book! And today, yes today, one year exactly after my breast cancer diagnosis, I found out I’m cancer free. And if I had to go through it all again, I would, because HE IS HERE WITH ME…and I trust Him with my life. And my friends are here with me. And my family is here with me. This was God’s plan for me, and He only writes good stories.

  41. My un-fine story or other wise entitled … Waiting for my redeemer 🙂
    I had it all planned … My life, I would marry a family man, have six kids, a little house, a picket fense and be a happy stay at home housewife …. Not to be… I wish these days that I could start all over again… But I can’t my life is messy and complicated and I can’t fool a single soul that I’m perfect…that it’s fine ….
    I married in my late 20s, a beautiful man …tick 🙂 we have been married for six years and have tried for over 3 and half years to fall pregnant …. We fostered 3 wild, permanent, crazy boys, and waited for the pregnancy that would make our family complete… We got brave and did IVF we got our miracle and our first positive pregnancy test…. I started to trust again … Started to look for joy … At 33 weeks + 6 days we birthed our son Samuel Max ….he was born still / sleeping / dead…8th October 2013…. Devastated our community of believers came together…. And mourned our loss as we tried our best to honour our little baby that wasn’t to be … A week out from our baby shower… Instead of blue baby clothes we released blue balloons with “his promises never fail” … Instead of flowers of joy and congratulations we received flowers of loss and mourning …. We talk with our boys of Samuel in heaven … How terribly sad we are but how he is safe and loved and climbing trees…. I would never in a million years write this type of story for me… I would have ended it with the mircle birth of a baby… But it wasn’t meant to be … So I hold tight to redemption, to mercy, grace, justice, that GOD is good, kind and faithful …
    My not perfect life, my life waiting for his redemption ….

  42. Lisa-Jo! 🙂

    Thank you for being willing to share your un-fine stories! What a gift your honesty is to me, and to the online community.

    I felt like I had a whole un-fine year, the first one like that in a long time, and I reached a point where I couldn’t tell if it was more exhausting to keep saying to those who sincerely cared “actually, I’m honestly still un-fine…” or if I should just stuff it and save us all a repeat conversation.

    I kept sharing.

    Thank you for saying something I entirely agree with “we, as a community, are less without your story.”

    We meet God in the story… so the story is always a gift!

    Blessings,
    Elise

  43. I have had so much un-fine in my life that it has broken me and just two years ago i wanted to walk off this planet and i didn’t care who i hurt or who was left behind. I wanted out and i wanted out now! Or maybe i should say then, but then God told me it was okay to be un-fine he would keep hold of me and send me angels in human form to hold me up until i could begin to see that it could, maybe, possibly be fine again. I am in the middle of finding ‘fine’ and some days i feel un-fine but i can accept that it’s just a day, an hour or two or even a moment and then there are people who will continue to listen to me say it’s un-fine any day, every day if they need too for always i only have to say.

  44. Oh, can I relate. We are in the midst of that with our son right now. It is so hard and I am so afraid to actually admit it anyone because I don’t want them to think less of my son or of me. I don’t want to look as though I am failing. I got teary-eyed as I read with hope that there will be an ending and we will see better days. I’m thankful for that – thanks, Lisa-Jo. (Also, can’t wait to register!!)

  45. Last year we went through the worst ministry heartbreak imaginable, all for taking a stand to do what was right. I’m a pastor’s wife, and our family faced intense fire last year from other Christians. God is a wonderful healer, and although wounds remain and trust has been hindered, He is already using this part of my story. I blog for pastors’ wives and women in ministry and I get to use snippets of my story to encourage other pastors’ wives on a nearly daily basis. If I focus on the pain and hurt, I begin to sink in the emotions of what happened. But if I focus on God, I see the beautiful thing He is doing as I embrace His grace and believe that He gave me my story to impact others and to glorify Him. Thank you for this opportunity!
    And by the way, any tips on having a real life meeting if you don’t really have anyone to invite? I’m in Canada…community is different here.

  46. Hello to the world at large I want to share my testimony to you all which i believe you can still try your best to give a testimony like this so i was married to morphy at first will both love each other but short time he started a new behavior which i cannot even explain to any one then i keep it to my self hopping one day he will change for good no way he did not change so i was in pain every day don`t no what to do on till one day when a friend of mine visited me in my office she met me crying then she was asking me what is going on i try to be cam but i could not then i open up to her telling me there is a way out which i will do before he left me with my kids i look up and not knowing what to do then i ask her to tell me. shortly she open up to me and say there is a man called agadaga he is a spirit man he can do it with in three days then i look an said okay i will try my best to contact him four days later, my husband did not come home i called his phone switch off then i try my possible best i did not hear from him so i began to look for one way for a help so i remember my friend told me about one man called agadaga i quickly run to my friend asking her if she still have Dr.agadaga contact then she gave it to me that was how i contacted this great man of spirit he did it for me so quick so now i can now control my husband in any thing even i can tell him that i don`t want him outside today he will not. Now i have a happy family so via email :agadagasolutionground@gmail.com

  47. Wow. As I sit and read these stories, these “unfine” stories. Wow. I just can’t wrap my mind around all the pain and heartache in this world. Even so come Lord Jesus.

    When I think about the times that I’ve simply answered “I’m fine” over the past year. Just this year alone, it takes my breath. My mom’s alcoholism has wrecked our relationship in the worst way this year. I only ever hear from her by text these days and that’s pretty random at best. My dad & stepmom’s financial struggles have put a strain on their marriage and on our family like I could have never imagined. He has now turned to the one thing I thought I could only blame on my mom. I’m embarrassed and ashamed and quiet frankly terrified that I will lose both of my parents to alcohol. But I’m fine.
    My job is stressful and taxing and so not what I want most days because I feel like it makes me tired and grumpy with my own kids too often but, I’m fine.
    My husband has spent the better part of the past year traveling with his job, which has meant me with our three darlings who I love beyond belief but who can push me to the worst places of myself faster than I can blink. But I’m FINE.
    The travel that we were able to do with my husband left me feeling left out when we came home and clinging tightly to our family and stumbling around all weird around our church and friends we’ve known for years. But I’m fine.
    The sudden unexpected loss of a dear friend has left me terrified that I could be sitting where my sweet friend is now, a widow at 35 with two young girls and a whole lot of questions, pain, and anger. But I’m fine.
    For two years I have tossed around the idea of this conference in my head. Afraid that others will laugh or just not even show up at all. But this year I’m in. Even though I’m in a rental house that is not company ready in the least. Even though I’m still terrified that no one will come or will think I’ve lost what was finally left of my marbles, I’m in. I’m in because I’m tired of being FINE. I’m ready for real.

  48. Well here goes my story. I was overweight since the age of 8. Teased, bullied, beaten up all for the fat I carried. My family included. I survived cervical cancer but the doctors said I would never have children. My husband divorced me. I met someone dated and became pregnant to my surprise. I made a conscious choice to sacrifice whatever I had to in order to be a WORTHY parent. My child was born with autism. We are a great team. I chose to remain single after being in an abusive relationship. I had gone to the police for help but they refused to get involved until my angel was abused at 18 months old. I told myself I was better off alone. I prosecuted the man and fight every time he tries to get his name off the child abuse registry. I decided in 2003 to have a gastric bypass so I could be a healthy mom and be around for my daughter. After lots of research, pre screening tests and psych evals to determine if I was having the surgery for the “RIGHT” reasons, I finally went under the knife 3/10-2003. I dropped from 320 to 150 and life was good. I lost my job due to downsizing about six months after returning to work. My home was foreclosed on and I moved to Alabama to start over and be near my loving parents. Shortly after arriving in Alabama in 2005 I got a great job and started to financially rebuild. I went back to school online full time and worked during the day full time. I helped ou in my daughters class too. She needed me. I then woke up paralyzed from the neck down on 3/10/2006. Exactly three years later after the gastric bypass. The doctors took over a year to figure out what happened. I begged for therapy only to be refused because the doctors didn’t think it would help. I have a few different kinds of anemia. One in particular is a severe B12 deficiency. People did from it in the 1920’s. My body no longer absorbs b12 from food. I take 4 injections a day in order to retain enough for my body to use. I am still paralyzed in my legs and partially in my arms and hands. I made a promise to my daughter and to god that I would se the best example I could for my daughter to live by. I didn’t want her to live a life seeing me depressed. So I embraced my disability and began again. I moved in with my parents due to losing my job from all my medical time off and I could no longer afford rent. I applied for disability under the advisement of my doctor. I was denied. I fought and finally received it. I could not get caregiving services while living at my parents. The state kept wanting to put me in a nursing home and wanted me to give up custody of my daughter. I refused. I was given a gift fom God and no one was going to take her fom me. I got an apartment so I could get care help. I got someone that came to help with dressing and bathing and light cleaning only Monday through Friday. The agency had a hard time getting someone to come at 6 am so I could fulfill my motherly responsibilities to my daughter who was now six and in grade one. We did not qualify for any welfare or food stamps and no healthcare for my daughter so she could not get services to help with her autism. We managed though with faith. I had caregiver after caregiver. One would not show so a new one would be sent. One was a drug addict and stole all my meds so I had to go without for a month. Then one was arrested for child porn and I had enough. I prayed and prayed. I was sent a great caregiver and she has been with me for almost two years. She is family. I went back to school full time and continued on my path. I was an honor student. I volunteered for service projects was vice pres of the honor society and took on a Girl Scout troop for my daughter. I have been an active Girl Scout for 39 years. I had to let my daughter be one. It taught me how to be a woman of courage, confidence, and character. I continue to volunteer and my daughter is now 14.. I graduated community college in 2009 with 2 associate degrees. One in computer science and one in PreLaw. My mother passed away during my internship and then my kidneys failed but I returned to try again and I graduated May 2013 with my degree and teaching certificate in special education grades K-6. I am looking for a job. At this point I am at a stand-still because my modified van and wheelchair need repairs. I have fought to get both. Now so close to returning to the workforce I am prevented because my new van has faulty parts but vocational rehab will not help me with getting it towed and paying the labor bill. They will get reimbursed by the fed govt for anything he spend once I’m employed. But now they decide to say no. I will fight like I always have and I will pray like I never have before. I know god will answer. His glory will always be. I will always be his humble servant.

    I have never taken the moment to tell a short version of my story. I hope I don’t bore any of you. God bless each of you on your journey. Through Him all things are possible. The is absolute joy in the toughest moments of our lives we just need to find it. And God can help.

      • Melanie. Today is a day to rejoice in the Joys that God has given. I am experiencing another hardship today. My wheelchair van is broken, my wheelchair itself is broken and I am trying to grow my business in MK in order to repair those two things. It is difficult when I have to do it from the bed or the couch because I cannot walk. It is said that evil is going to try it’s hardest to push you down when the goal is at it’s closest. I will pray and continue to work as God has called me to in order to reach the goal. I am unstoppable when I have my Joy in Christ.

        God Bless you.

  49. I certainly have my unfine story. I saw your post saying my story was welcome, but I was so unfine that day that it didn’t register with me at first what you had really said. I don’t fully grasp how this ties into the IRL Conference, especially since I have no way to travel anywhere right now, but if you can explain that part to me, I’d love to share it with some people that I know are caring. Is the story of a Christian lesbian who came out this year welcome?

  50. Life has its ups and downs. I try to focus on my many blessings. As I look back I realize that God has always brought me through and that He loves me very much. So thankful for the blessings of the inRL conference and am looking forward to attending. Thank you for hosting this and for the opportunity to win an Allume conference ticket. It is a personal dream of mine to attend that conference. Thanks again for all you do.

    Sincerely,
    Monica
    http://www.happyandblessedhome.com

  51. This holiday we found out our 19-year-old son and his girlfriend were pregnant. Youth leaders, worship leaders, mentors to many. It has been a whirlwind, but so much encouragement from the Christian community and our friends has arisen. They got married a week ago and I am recovering, getting my second wind, thanks to the very very real grace that God gives!

  52. Just worked a 12 hour day….I’m fortunate because I do like my job. I’m a dental assistant for a very kind man. Sometimes you just hang in there until you are done…..you have to be flexible. Right now, I’m sitting here in front of my computer- don’t actually know why…. I just poured myself out of my car- took my pet dove to the bathroom (yes she poops in the toilet) and I tell myself that I should be in the kitchen getting something to eat and then be sensible….go to bed. I am thinking about how I have to lean in…..push forward…..no matter what my circumstances are….I have to lean on Jesus- I am aware that he sustained me this day…..it was enough. My thought life can tend to focus upon those things that I cannot do anything about. Such as…..my son, who married this winter, discovered his wife, a recovered addict…..picked up the old routine……It would seem, she never laid it down. So- my heart is swollen at times with tears, brimming just at the surface. ……I feel challenged to lay down my need to get it all fixed. I am so grateful that it isn’t up to me to help him “get it”. I am so thankful that Jesus loves him so much more than I do- Jesus died for him and for his poor little darling……I have to choose to see her the way Jesus does……..It was a good day today, however long it was…….I am feeling the a measure of satisfaction that comes from letting go…….Then His peace permeates my heart.
    “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus”………..I think I’ll head into the kitchen now and get something to eat……….

  53. I was a good girl all my life. On the outside it looked like I had it all going on. Obedient, good grades, all around good girl who gave her heart to the Lord when she was 8 years old. But inside I had been struggling with depression since about age 9. An older cousin made sexual comments to me, showed me pornographic magazines and tried to get me to play strip poker when I stayed overnight with his younger sister. Thankfully that was the extent of his attempts, but it did something to me. As shy as I already was, I withdrew into myself even further. I started eating, and got pudgy. This irritated my mother and even now with me at 44 and mom at 70, my weight is still a topic of conversation. I battled bulimia starting in my late teens into my first year of college. Depression and worry were my constant companions. I did attempt suicide twice in high school with diet pills and diuretics but all I got out of it was being terribly sick and horrible headaches. I kept my bulimia and the suicide attempts a secret until I met my future husband. He supported me through some terrible times. Now, mind you, to the outside world, and most, if not all, of my friends, I was OK. Great even. Really smart. Going to college on a great scholarship. Engaged to a great guy. They don’t know I am desperately depressed and feel like I will never measure up to anything that I’m supposed to. After our first son was born, my husband was going through a terrible time at work. He worked nights and after he’d leave, I’d put our son in his crib or little seat and I’d just lay on the floor and sob. After we moved here, we had a 2nd son and he had a harder temperament. It made me tired, and also sad because the daycare couldn’t just focus on his positives. Then we were both going through very difficult times at work. I was suffering panic attacks and self medicating at home with wine on a nightly basis to the point of passing out. It was during this time I got baptized. I gave my testimony. I said that I had given my life to the Lord as a little girl and had grown up in a Christian home and in the church so I didn’t really have an exciting testimony. Yeah, right. Well, the day before that baptism I had been down to the lake and had heard the loons calling to each other. I had prayed that the loons would “talk” during the baptisms. I wear glasses, so took them off before I walked out into the water to Pastor. I could see these black things swimming near Pastor. They kept coming closer. Then I could tell they were the loons. I love loons. Well, I went under that water and came out beaming and ran back to shore telling everyone how I had prayed that God would give us loons talking for baptism and he went one better and he brought them to us to oversee the sacrament. I had never felt so loved. I wish I could say that I was immediately free from depression anxiety and the wine that day. I ended up having to leave my job and have been at home for the past 2 1/2 years. I am slowly but surely getting joyful and ridding myself of worry. And wine is a thing of the past. I lay my burdens on Jesus instead of a bottle. Only a few close friends know about my story. It is really hard to find safe people. I know that if I pray for it, God will make divine appointments for me to share with people, and they will be the right time and will be safe. I’ve come a long way from that frightened 9 year old girl. Praise the Lord for his protection and steadfast love!

    • Janna,
      I have certainly had my own battles with interior demons who would squelch any sense of worthiness in me. It is interesting to me how we process our own life’s choices and how the Lord comes along beside us as we lay crumpled and broken. You have certainly come a long way from that frightened little girl…..It is always such a thrill to hear a story, such as your own….showing how the Lord demonstrated his love and attention specifically by meeting your own particular needs. Jesus has certainly met me in my struggles along the way.

      I was a “child of the church”. Raised by two very loving parents. Then mother died when I was a junior in high school of a brain aneurism. My world fell apart. All of a sudden I was in charge of my life- to make my own decisions- I didn’t really care if they were good or bad- they were mine to make….I made some horrible choices. The re-discovery- recommitment to the Lord came in a very amazing way. But then…that is another story all on it’s own. It involved being waken out of a sleep to music that only I could hear- feeling ushered into God’s presence and then being queried by the Lord himself….It was a life changing moment. I was galvanized to do the right thing…which at that time was to leave my live-in lover and go home. This was a huge test because home had changed. My father married someone only 6 years older than me with two small children. I had to swallow my pride and do the thing that I ran from nearly 2 years earlier, living with my father and my new step-mother. Now- this wasn’t a very good foundation for a young woman with a very large need to feel loved. I had felt abandoned by my mother’s death and then I felt abandoned by my father because of his new marriage. It wasn’t long before I met my husband. He was an accountant, graduate from college and owned his own home in a beautiful Southern California town. I was more than impressed. Eventually he asked me out and in very short order (about 6 months) we were married. We moved to a central California town and began our family. Three children in 7 years. My father was not really involved in my life-so my husbands family had more of a presence. I never felt accepted by my mother-in-law. I never did anything right. I couldn’t even clean right unless I used her special concoction of cleaning products. My church family involvement was very important to me- It gave me a sense of being “alright”. They never knew my battles with my husband. The anger, the distrust, the feelings of despair, his drinking. I never felt good enough. The weight of depression was always there in the wings. I know what it feels like to not be truly known. To be so utterly alone that you wake in the morning feeling as if you cried all night long- even in your sleep. Not a pleasant place to be. I made it through my children’s adolescent years with my brain intact. I believe that the Lord was the only one who helped me get through those hideous years. In the midst of my youngest son’s achievements and fabulous football experiences, there was this dark shadowed image of my oldest son and his drug addiction. My daughter was struggling with her own issues as well. Eventually it felt as if everything I had ever hoped for was literally destroyed. I could do nothing to change anything. I finally allowed my closest friends to know what I was dealing with and they became prayer partners with me. It was so helpful to know that they cared, but it also increased, in some measure, the divide between those whose family lives were going so well and then mine- whose was a mess. It became easier to trust one particular friend who truly reached out to me in love and care- physically and spiritually. Eventually my oldest son went to jail, married an addict, and found himself near death-laying in bed at our house. He told me that he was going to leave because he didn’t want me to see him die as an addict. I told him he didn’t have to because that is why Jesus died on the cross. Jesus took my son’s sin, his addiction onto himself so my son wouldn’t have to die that way. All he had to do was accept Jesus gift. I told him that if I could I would take on his addiction and go through all that he would need to endure in order to be free….He let me pray for him. He eventually agreed to enter into a christian program in our area…..a free program-(our financial resources had been spent) and he would need to commit to a year.

      It has been nearly ten years since that experience and my son is now married, has two beautiful children. He has a contractors license and a very good reputation in the area he lives. My daughter lives near by with my other two grandchildren. She serves the Lord and is raising her children in a healthy and loving environment. I am now- Nana. My youngest son is an adult struggling with the reality of being married to a drug addict with a child.

      In the middle of this scene was my life.

      I was so desperate to feel connected. I had tried women bible studies……
      Actually attended a weekly couples group with my husband….but I felt so hypocritical.
      My husband continued to drink and I knew was involving himself in sporadic bouts of porn.
      I remember for years telling myself “you can have my body- but you will NEVER have Me”
      Something inside me died. I was grieving my own death in a sense. I was so inundated with crisis moments-due to my daughters first marriage falling apart- angry son- Helping raise my grandchildren – You know- the busy-ness of life. I was tired of all of it. I became more withdrawn. Oh- and there were things my husband would ask of me that were incredibly painful-wanting me to dredge up memories of my past- to talk about- to somehow satisfy himself about. I would tell him that he was asking me to take the filthy garment that Jesus had removed – put it back on and then try to remember what the dirty parts were about. It was really torturous. On the outside, I put on a happy demeanor- as best as I could….encouraged my husband to continue his education and took the grandchildren to school. When he took periodic trips east to attend special classes, sometimes I would go along. One particular timer, about 6 years ago, we decided to spend the later part of the evening at a piano bar. We had been there before and enjoyed listening to folks who came most Friday nights to sing a round the piano. Mostly show-tunes and such- It was a festive atmosphere. I had a couple glasses of red wine- I would do this because I could sip on the drink for a long time. My husband moved from his white wine to gin and tonic to whatever else he had. We left by the staircase we had entered through. It was a steep staircase and I last remembered holding onto the bannister, looked down at my sandals, took a step down and woke up in an ambulance. I had evidently fallen down the flight of stairs. I was told that I was being taken to the hospital. I explained that I didn’t want to go to the hospital, I just wanted to be taken back to my hotel. I was also told that my husband was with the driver. I remember getting out of the ambulance, walking to my room, stripping off my clothes and getting into bed. I didn’t pay any attention to my husband. I was hurt and humiliated. The next morning I was hurting so terribly that I couldn’t breathe without pain, so I decided I better get myself to the hospital to be checked. I called a Taxi cab and went to the emergency room. I had broken 5 ribs. They gave me some pain medication and sent me back. After I got home, I began to take serious stock of my life. I decided that I was not going to keep living like I was living. I really didn’t know what that meant- but I just knew I had had enough. The Lord truly bathed me with his presence and helped me face all the things that I had kept hidden in my heart for nearly 30+ years. It was a painful time of facing truth.
      This period involved seeing marriage counseling, personal counseling and an even greater sense that I had to leave. So- I left. That is the beginning to a new chapter in my life. It was so difficult to even consider leaving. I had no money, no where to go, no educational background to fall on, no job, nothing really- all I had was the Lord. I had to trust that He would help me find my way………He did. I went back to school. Became a Registered Dental Assistant. Got a real job. Am renting my own house, pay my own bills. I am a part of a lovely church. Made new friends, and am engaged to be married in May to a christian man I have known from many years ago. My children took about 5 years to come around to forgiveness and although things are not perfect, we are in touch and life is improving. My ex-husband and I have forgiven each other for the pain we caused to each other and communicate fairly regularly. Only the Lord could do that.

      My life is a totally “un-fine” story……..but Jesus takes the broken pieces and creates a garment that is woven in such a way that although the back shows all the messy threads and loops that aren’t quite right, the front is a tapestry that He creates- My life is beginning a new season…..I am entrusting it to Jesus my Lord and Savior to continue to lead me forward……one stitch at a time.

  54. My unfine story is one so many can relate to…in an abusive marriage to an alcoholic man that is a hardcore porn addict. I kept it all a secret for 12 years…I didn’t think it was OK to be unfine as a worship leader in my church and at conferences and events. Until I self-destructed, giving in to the temptation of having an affair which ended up lasting almost a year. My glass house collapsed, my marriage ended…but God was faithful. Through brokenness and repentance, my God started restoring me. And he has continued. The healing, beauty from ashes, restoration and second chances He has brought to me are beyond description. All the credit and glory to Him for taking the broken pieces of my old life and creating a new life that is beyond my imagination. Back in the ministry, sharing my story, married to an amazing Godly man and whole again. All because I finally admitted it was OK to be unfine. There is hope!!!!