I just spent the most glorious 24 hour period alongside a group of beautiful women with open hearts and stories to tell.

Hard stories. Scary stories. Sad stories.

Stories in which I could see the mighty thread of God woven throughout every tear, every disappointment, and every loss.

Stories that show the world just how good He really is – if you have an open heart and eyes to see.

Stories that have more power than you can even imagine.

It’s through our stories, sweet friends, we see the evidence of a merciful and gracious God that freely forgives and transforms.

The “I once was lost but now I’m found” stories can change lives because they offer hope to the hopeless, faith to the faithless, and love to the love-less.

The greatest of these, of course, being the last. Love.

As I wrote last week, sometimes we make it more complicated than it needs to be, don’t we?

It really comes down to these two things: love God above all else and love your neighbor as yourself. Telling our stories is one way we can love our neighbors.

By mixing vulnerability, humility, mistakes, laughter and tears, we partner with God to tell His story through us. When we share our own brokenness, it gives the listener permission to exhale. To not feel so alone. To believe there’s hope.

Our story is about us but it’s not about us. It’s part of a far bigger story that began more than 2,000 years ago.

The first three chapters of Kristen Welch’s book Rhinestone Jesus begins with her story. When we start at the very beginning (a very good place to start!) we can usually see how God began to prepare us for the good works He has planned for us all along.

When King David was anointed as the next king to follow Saul, fifteen years passed before he was even crowned.

Why so long?

Because David had a whole lot more of living to do before he was mature enough to wear that crown. It took fifteen years of preparation to be ready to actually do what God called him to do.

Jesus was born a Savior but he didn’t perform his first miracle until the age of 33. He needed to prepare for His ministry while having complete trust in God’s timing.

So I love to hear stories from the beginning because we can see God’s fingerprints all over the twists and turns that make a life – twists and turns that prepare us for a greater later.

Rhinestone Jesus author Kristen Welch was raised in a Christian home and wore a sparkly rhinestone Jesus pin each day to school (hence the name Rhinestone Jesus).

Admitting she was “that girl” who carried her Bible around to match her glistening pin in high school, she loved Jesus and she wanted others to love Him as well.

She then went to Bible college and met her husband, Terrell. After they were married, they struggled with fertility while Terrell was an associate pastor and Kristen was the children’s ministry leader in a church far away from home.

Eventually, Kristen became pregnant and gave birth to their first child – a daughter. Two years later, a son was born.

Soon after, Terrell confessed to his addiction to pornography.

And that was when God started to turn something broken into something beautiful.

So for this week . . . Please comment on one of the following questions:

1. Have you ever been impatient with God? Have you ever been tired of waiting for Him to reveal what He has planned for you?

2. Where have you seen God show-up throughout your life?

3. Why do you think there is so much power in the telling of our stories?

4. What caught your attention from Chapters One, Two, or Three?

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