Category Archives: Faithful

Immeasurably More

By Kristen Entwistle

I was cleaning out my desk the other day and found something pretty amazing: God’s provision.

I’m packing up my apartment to move a few hours away, and so, naturally, I was cleaning out my desk – you know, throwing away old papers that I really shouldn’t have kept in the first place, getting rid of the things that I just threw in the drawer over the last four years…and I came across some old cards.

I tend to keep things…probably longer than I should. But be that as it may, I’m glad that I kept these.  They’re cards from very dear friends that were written as I was graduating college and moving to Michigan.  I opened them up and started reading them…smiling at the memories and laughing at the inside jokes from long ago.

And as I opened each card, the same thing kept staring me in the face.  Each of these people who were so dear to me had written similar things, among the jokes and stories and laughs.  Each of them had said that they were praying I would find a good, Godly church in Michigan.  That God would bring me good friends at all of the right turns in my life.  That God would provide.

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And He has provided – all of those things.  More than I could ever have imagined.

He brought me to a church, where I have been able to serve and love and grow, where I have been blessed with a family of God that is so dear to me.  It’s been a place where I have seen the kids I watch grow up and change and learn.  Where a Sunday doesn’t go by that I don’t get a hug from at least one of my little ones, brightening even the darkest week.  Where I have been encouraged to lead and to write and to serve.  Where I have been loved.  Where I have walked life with some amazing people – the hard times and the good times.

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God has not only brought me good friends – He has brought me great ones.  Friends that I am going to miss terribly, but who will remain friends for the rest of my life.  Friends who challenge me, encourage me – friends who have changed me for the better.  Friends who let me love their kids – and who love me.  Friends who share life with me – and I with them.  Friends who pray with me and for me and let me pray for them.  Friends who have shown me the love of Christ.

When I read those cards four years ago for the first time, I trusted that God would provide through the prayers of my friends.  But I didn’t know until now, reading them again, just how much He has provided.  So if you’re wondering if God is good – let me remind you.  He is.  If you’re doubting that He can provide what it is you need – let me remind you.  He can, and He will.  If you’re in the middle of a trying season, and you’re hanging on for dear life – let me encourage you.  He’s got you.  He’s not gonna let go.  He will provide – and He will do immeasurably more than you could ever ask or imagine.

Fifteen Minutes

By Kristen Entwistle

I was a distance swimmer in college.  The 1000 yard and 1650 yard (the mile) races were my favorite.

I think what I loved about it was that for ten or fifteen minutes, no one expected me to do anything but swim. 

Out of the water, every fifteen minutes was full of chaos and expectations and multi-tasking.  I was expected to have an answer for everything – what assignment was due tomorrow for any class, what lab the general chemistry students were doing this week, how my doctors were handling my latest illness, what songs we were singing at church this week, when choir was performing at church, when our next swim meet was, how much time I needed to drop to make the cut for any event…

But for those precious minutes in the water, all I had to do was swim.

Even now, when my life feels overwhelming, and the change is impending, and my to-do list is a mile and a half long, I wish for those fifteen minutes again. 

And I realize that I don’t only want those fifteen minutes – I need them.

I need that time to rest in God and in His promises.  I need that time to recharge, reset, and renew.

It’s not much, but it is enough for today.  Tomorrow, I’ll need it again.  Fifteen minutes.

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I believe. But help my unbelief.

By Kristen Entwistle

It’s never quite the way you plan it, is it?  Life?

One day, you wake up, thinking it’s all going to be all right, and then – bam.  You get thrown a curve ball that you never expected.

A few weeks ago, my family faced one of those curve balls: the unexpected and largely unexplained disappearance and death of my uncle.

What do you say when something like that happens?  How do you make sense of the seemingly unexplainable?  How do you cope with the gaping hole that is left in his place – of a father, a husband, an uncle, a friend, a surgeon, a brother?  Where do you find peace in the midst of such turmoil?

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

Hold on a second, God.  In the midst of all of this, I’m supposed to just not let my heart be troubled?  You’re telling me this is easy?  And just don’t be afraid.  Sure.  That’s just easy peasy.  But your peace, your shalom, can I feel that today?  Can you give me some more of that today?

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Great, thanks for that reminder, God.  This life isn’t going to be a piece of cake, and we will have trouble.  Right old ray of sunshine you are.  But, you have overcome the world, even overcome death.  At a time like this, that’s easy to lose sight of.  But thank you for the reminder, and for overcoming the world.  It made all the difference.

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“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 2:1,4

Yes, a time for everything.  Even Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus.  But remember what He said just before He went to the tomb, to Martha? 

“I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”  John 11: 25-26

Yes, Lord.  I believe.  But help my unbelief. 

I don’t have all the answers.  I can’t explain why my uncle’s life was ended on this earth.  I don’t know how best to fill the hole that is left in his absence.  But I do know where to start finding peace:  At the foot of the cross, in the arms of Jesus.

Challenges, Speedbumps, and Mountains

I started off 2016/ended 2015 with this facebook status:

Honestly, I’m glad that 2015 is going to be in the rearview mirror. Praying that 2016’s challenges and speedbumps and mountains will be weathered with God’s grace and strength, not my own.

And boy, what a 2016 it’s been so far.

Challenges, speedbumps, and mountains?  Check, check, and check.

I can’t give you all the details (because I don’t know all of them myself) but suffice it to say that every area of my life has been … well, for lack of any other words, jumbled up … this year.

I am facing a year of giant changes.  I don’t know yet where these changes will take me – or when.  But I do know that God is unchanging.  Unyielding.  Immovable.

I am facing a year of the unknown.  I don’t know what is going to happen in this year, but I do know that God is all-knowing.  All-loving.  All-powerful.

2016 not my own

I am facing more than a year of challenges – I am facing a lifetime.  A lifetime of things that I don’t expect, don’t understand, and won’t soon forget.  But it’s a lifetime of challenges weathered with the God of the Universe on my side.

I am facing more than a year of speedbumps – I am facing a lifetime.  Some speedbumps may throw me for a loop, while others may slow me down.  But it’s a lifetime of speedbumps faced with my God in the driver’s seat.

I am facing more than a year of mountains – I am facing a lifetime.  I will climb, and I will fall.  And when I get to the top, there will be more mountains to climb. But it’s a lifetime of climbing mountains with the Lord of Creation by my side.

I can’t do this, but God can.  And He will.  Every step of the way, He is with me.  No matter what challenges, speedbumps and mountains come my way, I will not be shaken.  I will not be moved.  Because my God is with me, and He will never leave or forsake me.  Amen and amen.

 

More Than Just A Number

By Kristen Entwistle

I am a Christian.  And I am a scientist.  And sometimes, I get caught up in the numbers, the data, and the predictions.  Particularly when it comes to CF. 

Because my life, for many years, revolved around a number.  37.5.  It was my expiration date.  What medical science said my life would be.  And the scientist in me held onto that.  Through the fault of no one else, I somehow had it through my head that my life had an end point and that I knew at least a general idea of when that would be.  I used to count up the years that I would spend in school, through a PhD program – when I finish I will be in my late 20s.  How many years did that leave me to make an impact?  To do something worthwhile with my life?

I’ve known forever that we can’t know the day or the time or how we’ll go home to the Lord.  It’s been engrained in my head for over two decades.  But somehow, the science and the medicine and the numbers had impeded my faith.

Because it’s not true.  I’m more than just a number.  More than just a disease.  More than just another n in a paper.    I’m more than just my life expectancy. 

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My life already does mean something: because Christ has saved me and set me free from the bondage of sin.  I don’t need to worry about making an impact in this world, because all I can really do is lay down my life at the foot of the cross and ask God to use my life for His glory.

I am living for more than just a number.  I am living for the King of Kings, the Savior of the World.  I have been freely given salvation, grace, and mercy, and the promise of a better life in heaven, where there will be no more pain, no more sickness, and no more death.  I can’t wait for that. 

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But as much as I am looking forward to that, I am going to, to borrow a phrase from La Vida, be here now.  I’ve got to live in the here and now, a vessel for God to use, no matter what.  I’ve got to choose to give the numbers to God, and trust Him to see me through, and to call me home in His timing.

Hindsight

By Kristen Entwistle

I was walking around my undergraduate alma mater a few months ago. I was there for my sister’s graduation, but I took a few minutes to walk around my old science building. As I walked the near-hallowed halls of Ken Olsen Science Center, I was overcome by how far removed I feel from a place that used to feel so much like home. How many changes have occurred since I graduated three years ago – both in faculty and staff as well as the infrastructure of the building.

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As I walked around, I remembered first classes and last classes. Beloved professors and presidents. Botched labs and failed tests. Successful research and fond memories of classes. The cold days and the hard days, the warm days and the easy days.

I’m in the middle of graduate school right now, and it’s amazing to look back and see where I’ve been. It’s hard to believe that three years ago I was graduating on this very lawn. That I had no idea what lie ahead for me, except where I was attending graduate school. I did not know what God had in store for me, and looking back now, I could not have ever guessed that I would be where I am right now: working in a lab on the disease that I have, funded by a group of parents of kids with CF, part of an amazing church where I can serve and grow and love people, where I have the opportunity to babysit some wonderful kids who I can honestly say I love with all of my heart, where a place I knew nothing of and knew no one could feel so much like a home.

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It’s true. I’ve lost much, struggled, been frustrated and beaten down in these last three years. I’ve had PICC lines and more antibiotics than I can count, but I’ve come out swinging on the other side. But I’ve also seen God do some amazing things with what I’ve been given and where I’ve been. I have seen him use my CF to change people’s hearts and lives. I have seen God use me in ways I never thought possible – leading a Bible study and leading worship from the piano. He’s provided me with friends who lift me up and encourage me, challenge me and love me. He’s blessed me with so much.

I never saw any of that coming three years ago. All I saw was the great unknown, the strange state of Michigan and the weird mascot of my school – the Spartan. The headache of changing doctors and hospitals and the anxiety of living on my own. I was heartbroken to leave the place where I had grown so much, devastated to leave a church that I had come to love, people I had grown to love as well. I couldn’t see past the here and now, couldn’t see that even as I was leaving a place I knew so well and loved, God had great things planned. He was going before me, preparing a place for me even then. And he was preparing me.

Even now, when the future is unknown and I’m not sure how God is going to work things out, I can trust that He is faithful and that He will go with me, wherever I go. Hindsight may be 20/20, but God’s vision is always 20/20. So no matter what you’re going through right now, no matter what unknown you’re facing, trust in the One who can see it all, who’s got you in His hands, and who will never fail you. His sight is better than hindsight.

He Is Faithful

By Kristen Entwistle

I don’t really celebrate my birthday anymore.  It’s really just like any other day.

Twenty-five years ago, my parents were told that, because of my disease, I wouldn’t live to see my twenties.  Since my birth, medicine and science have provided some new treatments that have increased the life expectancy to 37.

And here I am, at the age of 25, still living, breathing, and praising God for every day. 

It’s pretty amazing that God could take this broken body and use it for His glory.

It’s almost unbelievable that He can take my story, my brokenness, my disease, my sickness, and use it to draw myself and others closer to Him. 

He’s given me a voice to sing His praises, and a platform to share Him with those around me.

And so today, I’m going to celebrate His faithfulness.

I’m going to celebrate what He has done, and what He has brought me through.  The fires that He has brought me through have refined me.  The trials that He has walked with me through have strengthened me.  Through the valleys and the mountains, He has been faithful, and He will continue to be faithful to the end of time.

That’s something to be thankful for.  That’s something to celebrate.

Phil 1 6

***Also published at brokenbeautifulBOLD.com ***

When Your Walls Fall Down

By Kristen Entwistle

When you were a kid, did you build towers with the big cardboard blocks?  Maybe you built the highest tower possible, or maybe you were the kid that ran around knocking down everyone else’s towers.

When I was a kid, I liked to build walls around myself.  Enclose myself in so that the walls were all around me.

And I’ve done the same thing with my life.

Maybe, like me, you’ve built walls around your life.  You convince yourself that they keep your heart safe.  You convince yourself that the higher your walls, the safer you are.  You convince yourself that the thicker your walls, the less people can see of the real you, and that’s a good thing.  Because if they were really to see your sin, your hurt, your brokenness, your pain – they wouldn’t want to know you.  They’d run in the other direction.

I used to think that my walls were my security, my protection from the world, from the hurt. 

That if I had higher, thicker walls, no one could see the real me: the ugly, torn, and worn girl who does not see herself as beautiful; the girl who struggles with feelings of worth and inadequacy; the girl with the life-shortening illness; the girl who is alone; the hurt, broken, sinner in desperate need of a Savior.

When we build up our walls, we end up pretending.  Pretending to be someone we’re not.  Pretending that those words didn’t hurt; that being rejected…again…wasn’t painful.  Pretending that it’s all okay on the outside but falling hopelessly apart on the inside.  Pretending that we don’t struggle with things, too.  Pretending that our past isn’t as checkered as the flag at the end of the race.  Pretending that we don’t have secrets we’d rather keep hidden.

Take a few minutes and listen to this song, from Tenth Avenue North, Healing begins:

So let ‘em fall down,

There’s freedom waiting in the sound,

When you let your walls fall to the ground.

We’re here now.

This is where the healing begins,

This is where the healing starts. 

When you come to where you’re broken within,

The light meets the dark.

So you’re telling me that if I let my walls down, let down my guard, let people see the real me, the messed up, broken me – that it will bring freedom?  Oh, more than that, dear friend.  It will bring healing.  Healing from the heartache, the guilt, and the pain.  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed your sins from you (Psalm 103:12).  All of your scars, all of your sins – they are forgotten to Him.

The walls you and I hide behind aren’t doing us any favors.  They aren’t helping us or anyone else.  In fact, when people see the real you – the struggles, the brokenness, the weakness, the imperfection – they see the grace of our Savior.  They see a God whose power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  They see that they are not alone in their struggles.  They are reminded that He is faithful.

And letting your walls down reminds you that you are not alone.