Last week, I wrote about the fact that 2001 was not all rainbows and unicorns for me but I wouldn’t trade it for the world for it’s what deepened my faith exponentially and made me see how faithful our God really is.

So many of you wrote to me and shared stories of challenge and devastation, sadness and despair, anguish and hurt.

It broke my heart to read of your pain .


God doesn’t wound us to hurt us; He wounds us to HEAL us. (Beth Moore in Breaking Free)

Your stories are so beautiful because you exemplify that exact fact – you are healed. (Picture me on a stage saying this and pushing my hand against your forehead.)

But seriously, you are healed.  Through Him, you are healed and have learned to push into Him, to really lean into the cross, when there just doesn’t seem anywhere else to go.

First of all, I want to thank those of you who shared some of your heart with me.  The fact that you would trust me, and all of us really, simply exhibits your desire to use your story to glorify Him.  And as we all know, that’s what He wants us to do – simply just glorify Him.  Give HIM the credit and not US.

Secondly, I’m going to share a few stories from some of you that just exemplifies God’s grace and mercy and as you read, I encourage you to think of your own “survivor story” in which God had proven to be steadfast and faithful, omnipresent and strong.

One shared that “As I am still climbing my way out of the inferno of 2009, the epicenter is behind me.   At the time, my children were 3, 3, and 5.  My beautiful children who adore me-may not always listen, may have more energy than a tornado but my beautiful children who, yes, adore me.   After all the up-all-nights, nursing until you are down to nothing (physically and mentally), wondering if they are breathing, terrified my boy will never talk (he won’t stop now by the way) I survived infancy. And let’s face it infancy is a game of survival.   Infancy of a colicky (understatement) first son and twin baby girls 2 1/2 years later and  I thought I came out of it unscathed.

It wasn’t until the moment of my “crack” I realized the toll of worry.    I slowly (unnoticeable at first) started to feel not quite myself.  It gathered momentum and I felt like I was living in a dream.  I was awake but it wasn’t right.  It led me on a trip to the ER in what I now know was a panic attack – a.k.a  “heightened freaking out.”  After quickly being diagnosed with general anxiety disorder and given some medicine my life took on a life of its own-2 psychiatrists, 1 therapist, 2 natural healers, lots of herbal remedies, a women’s group for anxiety sufferers, and much therapy from my wonderful, couldn’t-make-it-without-them-girlfriends later, here I am.  Of course, I weeded out what wasn’t helping and now today,  I sit in my morning chair releasing it.

My morning chair where I sit after my kids are all at school, where I pour my heart out to God in my prayer journal, where I write to Him all my appreciations (appreciation definition for me: to find true joy in the qualities of what you are thankful for) where I am truly grateful for Him continually guiding me out of the inferno and into His light.  I know He has His reasons for my journey and as of the moment I have not discovered all of them, but for now I believe it was His way of creating the me I was meant to be.”

Lisa shared that “My year is this year. Cancer, fight mean inhumane insurance company to receive proper treatment, have surgery, hubby new job, selling house, moving to new house, begin cancer treatment, finish treatment and I am now thinking about all the other stuff I never addressed in January like my dad’s alzheimer’s and my mother’s divorce. And the medical bills have started arriving. ugh! But I can honestly say God has been closer than any other year of my life. This is also the year I really have begun to believe He really, really, really , really loves me.”  NOTE:  Click here to learn more about Lisa and if you are a blogger, grab a “Praying for Lisa” button.

Another dear one shared that “I choose 1996 to 1998. A “short-lived” marriage to a short tempered man. Walking on eggshells and never knowing what would set him off. Having no money and feeling trapped with no escape. Lying crumpled in a corner with him over me yelling, berating and spitting in my face. And then God, without me even knowing it had to be God, gave me the strength to GET OUT. And led me to a wonderful, sweet, loving man who had had his own share of troubles with a cruel wife. 10 years later, we have 2 adorable boys, a solid marriage, and a strong faith in Him who we live for. Bless you Natalie for sharing your “stuff” and letting us have opportunities to rethink ours so we can appreciate our own journeys.

Anyone want to grab a Beyonce outfit and sing “I’m A Survivor” with me?  OK.  Maybe we don’t need to don the outfits.  But we could still sing the song.

These stories, oh.  These stories.  Nothing exemplifies God’s goodness to me than a good survival story. I love to hear about people annihilating the odds.  I have a dream to someday write a book about “Cycle-breakers” – people who were abused who are now not abusing, people who grew up in extreme poverty and are now comfortable, people who are educated who came from families of elementary drop-outs.  They are survivors – the ones who wouldn’t listen to “no” and refused to believe the lies about themselves they were undoubtedly told.

On this Multitude Monday, my list of 1, 000 things continues:

101.  I am so very grateful that God does indeed say that we will have trials on this earth but those who are steadfast in Him will make it through.  He uses everything, absolutely everything, for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

102.  A wonderful meal and belated birthday celebration that my mother planned (because really, let’s face it – no one cares as much about your birthday than your mother), made, and BROUGHT to our home on Saturday night.  The very best filets.  Delicious twice-baked potatoes. Corn on the cob.  Tomato Mozzarella Salad – my mother is watering as I write.  I’m so grateful for the abundance of food and for my mom.

103.  JJ, who steps in and lightens my load when I have just too much going-on.  He understands my passions, my “call” to serve various ministries and supports it wholeheartedly. I am a blessed woman to have him as my husband.

104.  Ellie the Wonder Dog – she is getting older and I can’t imagine not having her around someday.  She’s only seven but for the first time ever, this morning she was unable to jump up on our bed and join us in Sunday morning snuggles. And she’s getting white around her face.

105.  The “Hunger Games” series and other books that rivet me and just are awesome stories to read.  I’m engrossed and it provides such a wonderful to escape for a bit.  I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. the other night and JJ said he could picture a little Natalie, up with a flashlight reading “Nancy Drew” mysteries.  And I did.

106.  I’m thankful for simple gestures – after learning I had a house of sick children this past week, one of my friends called to see if there was anything I needed.  As I am in the midst of being vomited and pooed upon, serving everyone else’s needs, there was someone out there thinking of me.  Of course, only another mother of young children would get this…I was immediately reminded that it’s the little things that take such a small amount of time but mean so very much.

107.  Diet Coke and Coffee?  I am in love with you.

108.  I’m starting to work out again!!!!  I’m so sore today that I can hardly move but I’m starting to work out!!!!

109.  Fall is here and I love it SO very much – my favorite time of the year has arrived!

110.  Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay?  Yum.  It’s like La Crema and both are like butta…

May you have a low-obstacle week but if it’s not, remember that you do not walk alone.  Though He may feel far, He’s closer than your breath.  You can go no where to escape Him and He will never forsake you.  What a merciful God we serve.

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