Category Archives: Truth

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.

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.

The Hollywood Version

By Kristen Entwistle

We all face battles in our lives, struggles, suffering.  It’s different for each of us.  For me, the looming giant in my way is a little thing called cystic fibrosis (and all it entails).

I’ve often told people that I can’t do the ‘sick kid’ books and movies – you know, the tear jerkers like My Sister’s Keeper: the girl who dies in a car crash, giving her organs to save her sister with cancer; or The Fault in Our Stars: the two cancer patients who fall in love and then one of them dies; A Walk To Remember: the handsome young man falling in love with the sick girl, giving her the ability to make the most out of her last days; or even the Fox TV show Red Band Society: the teenagers who live in a hospital and become fast friends because they’re all sick.

I’ve read those books, tried to watch those shows.  But they don’t really depict real life for those of us with any disease, at least in my experience.

The reality is that life is often hard physically – the treatments, the demands on our bodies from the therapies – it can take a toll, sometimes ones that you can see, but many times ones that you can’t.

The reality is that life is often hard emotionally – only people who have been through what we are experiencing can really understand.  And though you try to sympathize and understand (which we appreciate greatly) what we are going through, the reality is that we often go through it alone.  We don’t want to burden you with our fears, insecurities, and all of the baggage that comes with a chronic illness.  We’re trying to spare you – but it often means we are left alone.

The reality is that life is often hard Spiritually – reconciling our struggles with a good God, the creator of everything, and why He is allowing these things to happen in our lives.

The reality is that life is often hard mentally – having few people to lean on because they are scared away by your disease, storing it all up inside and only falling apart behind closed doors.

The books and the TV shows almost make it look like it’d be fun to be sick.  They romanticize it.  They say that you’d be unique, different, and everyone would just love you for who you are, no matter what.  That living in a hospital would be cool.  That it’s not scary to have a real idea of how long you’ve got left on earth.  That no one treats you differently.  That your life isn’t different from anyone else’s.  That people will fall in love with you in spite of your sickness, never rejecting you for your disease.

Pardon my French, but I call BS.
Complete and total BS.

Life is not often like it is portrayed in movies and TV shows – sick or not.

Real life is often messier than the media portrays it. 

Real people aren’t stick skinny and eat ten calories per day.  Real people play in the dirt, and that’s okay.  Real people don’t have it all together all the time.  Real people struggle, fail, fall, and scrape their knees.

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Although my life has not been as pretty and prefect as the media may portray it, it’s actually been so much better.  Because I live alongside other real people, who help to pick me up when I fall down, and who take my hand when they fall down.  I live alongside people who are struggling with hard things, and get to watch as they grow in faith and shine His light so brightly even in the midst of all of it.  I get to invite people into my life, and get to pour into theirs.  I get to play with kids, who bring genuine smiles to my face no matter what else has happened that day.  I get to see God work in amazing ways through my friends, and get to let Him work through me.

I’d rather have real life with Christ any day of the week than the romanticized version we see on the screen, no matter how hard it is. 

Wouldn’t you?

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You Forgot That You’re Beautiful

By Kristen Entwistle

When I look in the mirror, I see a tired, worn girl who is overextended, overworked, and often lonely. I see the bags under my eyes and the lines on my forehead, the unwanted pounds and pale complexion of a girl who feels twice her years. A girl who struggles with questions of worth and usefulness and if anyone would miss me if I was gone tomorrow. I don’t see myself as beautiful when I look in the mirror. I see the flaws and the cracks and the bad things. I’ve forgotten that I am beautiful in the eyes of my Savior, my God. That I am loved beyond measure, saved by grace through faith.

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There was a man, once, who reminded me that I am beautiful. He wasn’t a boyfriend or my father. I don’t even know his name. You see, I was walking through Aldi, our cheap generic grocery store one Sunday after church. I stopped by the toilet paper to check my list before I continued down the aisle. A man brushed past me on his way through, and I apologized for being in his way. “I think you forgot something,” he said as he passed. I looked over my shoulder to see if I had dropped something, looked down at my skirt to make sure it was still intact. I checked my purse to make sure I still had my phone and my wallet. I couldn’t find anything that I was missing. I shrugged my shoulders and looked down at my list again, seeing what else I needed to pick up before I could check out and head home. I started to walk forward as the same man was coming back up the aisle. I smiled politely as he passed and he leaned toward me as he passed. “You forgot that you’re beautiful.” I was dumbstruck for a moment. Totally baffled. It took me a moment, but I turned around to see if perhaps I knew the man, could place him. And he was gone.

You forgot that you’re beautiful, he told me. Not, “You are beautiful.” He said, “You forgot that you’re beautiful.”

You are beautiful. You may not see it. You may not see beautiful when you look in the mirror after you roll out of bed, or even after you put on makeup. But God made you beautiful, and that’s not going to change. One of a kind. Loved more than you will ever know.

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Don’t forget it. Remind yourself that God made you beautiful, and nothing can take that away. Not a failed marriage. A past abortion. A troubled home life. A terminal cancer diagnosis. Nothing can take away the fact that God made you beautiful. Nothing.

You may have forgotten that God made you beautiful. You may not see it in the mirror, even now. But you are beautiful. Priceless. Forgiven. Loved.

You are beautiful. Don’t forget it.

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.

From The Inside Out

By Kristen Entwistle

Yesterday was a rough day.  This week has been difficult.  This month…tough.  This year…don’t even get me started.  Rough doesn’t even begin to describe it.  And yet through all of it, I’ve seen God work – in my life and in others.  And He’s taught me a lot, as always.  But it certainly has not been an easy road.

Last week, I got to praise team practice, weary, worn, and in need of a friend.  As I opened the door to the sanctuary, I heard two friends playing From the Inside Out.  It’s a song I’ve known for a long time, but we introduced it to our congregation just a few weeks ago.

The words stopped me in my tracks.

A thousand times I’ve failed
Still your mercy remains
Should I stumble again
Still I’m caught in your grace
Everlasting, your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, your glory goes beyond all fame

I’m pretty sure that a thousand times is a gross underestimation of how many times I’ve screwed up in my 24 years of life.  And yet EVERY time, God picks me up, dusts me off, and puts me right side up again.  EVERY time.  And His grace truly is enough.  Enough for me.  Even though I’m not perfect, even though I don’t believe that I am worth anything sometimes, even though I fail, and I fall, even though I am broken and bruised and battered and worn – God still chooses me.  He still uses me.

Your will above all else
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself in bringing you praise
Everlasting, your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, your glory goes beyond all fame

I don’t know about you, but sometimes trying to decipher the will of God seems like wading through jello.  Jello.  But the will of God is still what I strive for above all else.  But it’s hard to strive for something that you don’t really understand, don’t get.  When the questions pile up, when the struggles seem too hard to bear, when the rain seems never-ending – it’s easier to cry out to God asking, “Why?” than to say, “Your will be done.”  But Christ, our example, showed us the way when, in the Garden of Gethsemane, he cried out to the Father, asking Him to take this cup, but ultimately saying, “Your will be done.”  So, Father God, Your will be done in my life.  No matter how difficult it may be.

In my heart, in my soul
I give you control
Consume me from the inside out
Let justice and praise
Become my embrace
To love you from the inside out

Perhaps these lines are the ones that really hit me: In my heart, in my soul, I give you control.  I like to be able to control things.  But I’ve got to let go of the illusion of control because, let’s be honest, if I truly had control of my life, it would be a disaster.  Fortunately, Christ is the one in control of my life.  But my desire for control is really a measure of my distrust.  When I try to take control, I’m saying, “God, I really think I could do this better.  I know what I need better than you do.  Your will is actually better in my hands.  I don’t trust you with this.”  But the thing is, I do trust God.  Wholeheartedly.  With everything.  I’m human.  I’m going to want control sometimes.  I’m going to take it into my own hands and screw it up.  But just like the beginning of this song says, A thousand times I’ve failed, still your mercy remains.  So I’m letting go of my desire for control.  I want the world to see Christ when they see me.  Christ is the center of my life, my all, my everything.  Consume me from the inside out, Lord.  

Everlasting, your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart is to bring you praise
From the inside out
Lord my soul cries out

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Because the cry of my heart is to bring you praise.  To love the Lord with ALL of my heart, ALL of my soul, ALL of my mind, and ALL of my strength.  To live my life for the One who saved me, who pursued me, who bought me for a price – His life – who continues to pick me up when I fall, who continues to reach out His hand to call me back when I have walked away.  Whose grace is enough for me.

When I left praise team practice, I was still weary, worn, and in need of a friend.  My week was still tough.  My year still rough.  But I walked away with a reminder that no matter how many times I have failed, His mercies remain.  That the Lord of the Universe is who I am living for, and His will is perfect.  That He is in control.  And I am not.

The cry of my heart is to bring You praise.

From the inside out, Lord, my soul cries out.

Even If…

By Kristen Entwistle

Have you ever prayed for something, something big – and waited and waited and waited for God to grant your request, and then been devastated when it felt like He didn’t come through?  Maybe you’ve been praying for the financial means to buy a house, healing for a child or a parent or yourself, for the opportunity to change jobs, for God to bless your family with a child, for God to bring a friend into your life that might become something more, for that ministry event you’re planning to be well-attended.

Let me be abundantly clear:

God ALWAYS answers your prayers.  

ALWAYS.  

It’s just that He doesn’t always answer

the way that we want Him to.  

Sometimes the answer we get isn’t what we think we need.  But it’s what God knows we need.  With whatever is going on in your life right now – whether it is big or small, wonderful or difficult – take heart that He does hear your prayers, your cries, your praise.  Remember that His time is not ours, and that He has a bigger plan.

Kutless sings a song called Even If.  The chorus says these words:

Even if the healing doesn’t come

And life falls apart

And dreams are still undone

You are God, You are good,

Forever faithful One

Even if the healing,

Even if the healing doesn’t come.

Even if…

…you’re still renting an apartment and can’t afford a house right now, He is working in it for His glory.

Even if…

…the new job doesn’t pan out right now, ask for God to use you where you are right now.

Even if…

…God doesn’t heal your son or daughter, put your trust in Him and ask for His strength to get you through each day, and to see the good that comes of your struggle.

Even if…

…you’re still single and alone, God’s got a plan.  And His love is one that will never fail, never disappoint you, and never run away.

Even if…

…you haven’t been blessed with a child, run to God, who has it all in His hands.  Find comfort in Him today.

Even if…

…one person shows up to that ministry event, remember that God has used you in that person’s life.  And that was worth it.

Even if…

I will still praise You, because You are good.  I will still trust You, because You are faithful.

And I will actively look for the ways that You are working ALL things for the good of we who love you.  I will let you use my circumstances, my struggles, my life to bless others, and to work out Your plan in their lives and in mine.  Even when the healing doesn’t come.

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