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AFFLICTION

AFFLICTION

the-holy-bible-1483623Every Friday morning, I look forward to reading my pastor’s blog called Illumine… Thoughts and Prayers with Scot Pollok. He is not only a gifted teacher/pastor but also an amazing writer. Last week was no exception. As I read his blog, my heart pounded with excitement and a silent shout of joy penetrated my soul. With his permission, I am re-posting the article. Before reading, ask God to help you hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to you. Let it rest upon your mind and heart. After reading, ask the Lord to help you turn this article into a prayer. Without further ado, here are Scot’s life-changing words…

ILLUMINE… Thoughts and Prayers with Scot Pollok

Affliction is a gift that the devil would like to highjack. Yes, you read that correctly. The devil wants to take control of the sufferings you meet in this world and steal their purposes. Paul said it better than I have.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” ––2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Do you believe that God calls each of His children to ministry and service within His church and Kingdom? I hope you do. Do you believe God wants that service to be powerful, effective, relevant and transformative? Another easy answer. Yes, of course.

This is the point of attack. The sufferings and afflictions that we encounter in this world are intended as a training school for ministry, tools to provide power and meaning and content to our service and ministry to others. They are a gift. That’s why the devil wants to take control of these burdens and turn our focus inward, to the suffering itself, to the pain, to the trial. This myopia steals our eyes from a resurrecting God and impedes our comforting ministry to others. It is so effective of a trick that we actually give room for a spirit of fear surrounding affliction and sufferings so that everything gets even worse.

My friend, just as the afflictions and sufferings of Jesus were abundant, so will yours be. That truth is what makes this life so hard and heaven so magnificent. However, in the same abundance, the God of all mercies meets us with prolific comfort through His Spirit and His Word and His Body, the church. Wherever you are today, be encouraged.

Paul continues, “…we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life… so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver – He on who we have set our hope – and He will yet deliver us.” ––2 Corinthians 1:8-10

monkimageGuest Author––Scot Pollok, Lead Pastor at Faith Bible Church, The Woodlands, TX.

God has given Scot the gift of communicating His Word in such creative and passionate ways. He tenderly, yet powerfully brings biblical truths to life through His teachings and messages. Read more about Scot on Faith Bible’s website… Scot’s bio.


Thank you to Scot, my pastor, for this powerful message. I appreciate your heart and wisdom through the years. May God continue to bless you and your family as you serve Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Do you view afflictions and sufferings as a gift from God? Remember Scot’s powerful statement… Affliction is a gift that the devil would like to highjack. The devil wants to take control of the sufferings you meet in this world and steal their purposes. Resist the devil and he will flee! Ask God to help you make this blog a prayer for your life. Let the Holy Spirit do in you, what ONLY He can do. Amen.

Blessings From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

Author, Speaker, Film Producer for Reflective Life Ministries

FAITH AND FIRE – Justina Page

FAITH AND FIRE – Justina Page

10348710_1433744866879119_6531107053947822055_oMeet my sweet friend, Justina Page. She is one amazing woman of God! Justina’s love for Jesus inspires and spurs others forward to seek the same passion for Him. Today, her new book, The Circle of Fire, releases to the public. Her story of hope and healing through Jesus is one I will never forget. May God bless you as you read her article… FAITH AND FIRE – Justina Page.


The Mother of His Children

He knelt on one knee. The tiny box appeared out of nowhere. My heart skipped a beat. This is it…he’s going to ask me.

“Tina”, he said in the most loving voice, “Will you be the Mother of my children?”

Not exactly the question I anticipated but a far more superior one. This man was thinking of a future. He trusted me to guide his home and shape his offspring. I saw him as the future I dreamed of.

I Said Yes

We were married 3 months later. Ten years into the journey we were blessed to with six beautiful baby boys. Four single births and a set of twins. My husband was a Senior Electrical Engineer for a Holland Based Engineering firm. He was also the head deacon and worship leader. I was a homeschool mom, Sunday school teacher, and the children’s activity coordinator at our church. My whole life revolved around my children. Our lives were full of activity, excitement, and service to God. Life was good and peaceful. Life was perfect.

Catastrophe Strikes

On March 7, 1999, we awoke to explosions, immense heat, and darkness. Oh my God the house is on fire! My husband immediately throws me out of the window desperate to trying save his family. I reenter the inferno in an attempt to get to the 22-month twins who I knew could not follow a fire safety plan. I am trapped by a burning bookcase. My oldest son grabbed his three younger brothers and waited at the point. My husband is able to rescue them and they walk away by the grace of God with only 1st and 2nd-degree burns. The fire is so intense that my husband has to run around the block and jump over the neighbor’s back fence to get to the nursery where the twins were located. He pulls one of the twins out. He is severely burned. Then the crushing blow happens. The house caves in before my husband is able to rescue the last twin. We lose Amos on sight. Me and the other twin suffer 3rd-degree burns over 55% of our bodies. My husband is told we would not make it.

Where Is My God

I awoke from a 2-month coma, intubated and in excruciating pain. My first thought: who lived? My second thought: Where is my God? A common thought amongst Christians especially when we are faced with adversity. God has taught me some valuable answers I would like to share with you:

  • God never changes locations… he is in heaven in complete authority
  • God is not an abuser and helper……God is good
  • Any experience a child of God has works together for good…..even the tragic ones
  • We are not exempt from trial…….we are told to prepare for them
  • God makes all things beautiful in his time…..beauty can come from ashes

Stay Encouraged

In your moment of trial…trust God. Your greatest pain can birth your most powerful purpose!


Justina Page is a natural storyteller who speaks with a bold and refreshing honesty that touches the hearts of audiences. Her speeches unfold with a combination of humor, insightful observation, and wisdom, as well as practical application. A woman whose faith was tested by fire, she now inspires audiences across the country with a powerful message of Rekindled Hope, Renewed Purpose, and Bold Faith. She is the Founder and Executive Director of The Amos House of Faith, a non-profit organization, established to provide post-burn support to children and families affected by burn trauma.

Thank you, Justina, for encouraging us today. Thank you for allowing God to use your story, for His glory! You can purchase Circle of Fire and the study guide at Amazon. Justina is also cast in the Reflective Life Ministries movie STRONGER, where she plays the role of Aunt Hazel.  

Blessings From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

FLIGHT OF FREEDOM – Robyn Whitaker

FLIGHT OF FREEDOM – Robyn Whitaker

Today’s Guest Blog is from Robyn Whitaker, founder of Inhale Ministries. Be blessed as you read her story of the Flight of Freedom

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I’m sitting at the window watching butterflies flutter amongst my Lantana. This bush, with its bright aromatic flower clusters, grows like a weed. And to my great delight, lures butterflies to my yard with its sweet nectar – so breathtaking to watch these silent beauties float gently upon the wind. To think, not long ago they were wormlike spending their days eating, growing and shedding their tight skin. Then one day quickly called to change.

Twenty-four years ago my own heart was called forth to change. I must say, I was a bit surprised. You see, left unaided during numerous childhood abuses, I believed the lies seared into my little girl heart. I didn’t need anyone. I thought I’d handled the pain with strong well-honed survival skills. Besides, no one wanted to hear those kinds of stories. So, I did as the church seemed to ask at the time and my perpetrators required – “forgive and forget it.” In reality, I had shoved all that pain deep down and the wounds began to ooze and beg for care. God knew it was time to begin my own transformation.

It has been quite the journey. One I am still traveling. I have discovered several truths along the way: transformation is a lifelong process best done in a community of fellow travelers; the body of Christ is intended to be a safe place for healing wounds. God delights in mending shattered souls, healing doesn’t come by ignoring the abuse, minimizing its complexities, downplaying its devastating impact, or putting on a tough façade while pulling up your boot straps to shut out the pain. And really, above all, we must know the “it” of what we are forgiving before we can offer such kindness. I do not believe in cheap forgiveness. It certainly wasn’t so for my Savior.

Inhale Ministries believes that everyone has a story. Everyone has a wound that needs to be healed. Without appropriate care, the deepest wounds of the heart continue to negatively impact ones’ present day reality and hope for the future. Wounds that are cared for in a safe environment have the hope of transformation through an encounter with Jesus. It is our hope to offer safe intentional spaces where stories of pain can be spoken with kindness and honor. We desire to foster redemption and healing resulting in whole- hearted living.

So, back to those butterflies…

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A few weeks ago the fourth generation of Monarchs ate their fill of milkweed, crawled to the top of my nester and seemed to painfully form a chrysalis. Within this sacred space, the old parts of the caterpillar underwent a remarkable transformation to become the beautiful parts that make up the butterfly that will emerge.   It takes time. Ten days later I witnessed the struggle for freedom. At last it slid from its refuge of change. It was glorious!

I am captivated by the transformation process – dying to the old life, the struggle to emerge a new creature and the stunning Flight of Freedom. A hopeful place for the soul to live, love and breathe!

1962114_10203329838711360_810092537_oRobyn Whitaker, founder of Inhale Ministries, a ministry which offers intentional spaces where stories of joy and pain can be spoken with kindness and honor. Robyn writes for Momology Magazine. She and her husband live in the Houston area.

Thank you, Robyn, for allowing your story to be used for God’s glory!

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

TRUEST VOICE – Guest Blogger, Sharen Watson

TRUEST VOICE – Guest Blogger, Sharen Watson

Today, I’m excited to introduce my dear friend and guest blogger – Sharen Watson. Her gift for writing goes beyond words. In fact, she amazes me! Her passion for inspiring authors to find their voice is powerful, yet tender. Just wait, you will see what I mean. “Thank you, Sharen, for teaching me to write from the heart. I love you dearly!” So, without further ado, I introduce to you my dear sister-friend Sharen…

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First of all, I’d like to offer humble thanks to Carla for inviting me to be a guest on her blog. What a privilege to share my blog, and a newly birthed ministry, Truest Voice: Helping One Another Share the Sacred.

Before I share about Truest Voice, here is a little about me.

My name is Sharen Watson. I was a writer until I lost my voice. No matter where I looked, which rock I turned over, or which door I looked behind, words had simply vanished. I searched all the hidden places inside of me, and begged God for the ability to sing with words on paper again, but lyrics were lost to me.

So I stopped trying…

I surrendered every desire to ever write again. I laid all of it at the feet of Jesus, turned and walked away.

And then, in the quiet, His whisper came soft. The gentlest touch of His creativity barely brushed my soul… and colors of words moved through me with powerful waves of emotion.

It’s time to tell your story… His words were not audible to my ears, yet I heard them clear. Truest Voice was born, and it’s here I started from the beginning.

I’d like to share a bit of my journey by revealing some of my sacred with you here. The following excerpt is from Truest Voice: Helping One Another Share the Sacred (www.sharenwatson.com), 3-30-2015.

11239687_10207152822803475_1700678094574120207_n“Mommy, how come Grandpa hurts me every night?” I searched for her response, waiting for … something. I watched her wet a washcloth to wipe the cold cream off of her face. She paused for the briefest moment and then…

Nothing.

Did she hear me?

So I added to my confession. “He touches me here.” I pointed to my chest. “And here.” I gazed from my small hand into my mother’s eyes. Tears welled. I felt them there, full and ready to flood. My posture moved slightly forward ready for her embrace sure to come.

How I needed that embrace. I needed her to hold me and tell me everything would be okay. I won’t let him touch you ever again… These were the words I heard in my young, innocent heart. Words sure to come from the voice of my mother.

She’ll protect me now. I’m safe.

Only she didn’t.

Fury shone in her blue eyes. And the tears in my own vanished as I faced an unfamiliar rage. I backed away, and turned to wipe any remnant of moisture away. Quickly, before she could see.

“Look at me!” I turned to face my mother. I did not expect to see one I didn’t recognize. An introduction to one I trusted, yet no longer. No more. “You’re imagining things!” Her voice stern and full of reprimand. “Never, ever say anything like that again! Do you hear me?”

 And I never mentioned it again. Until I did… years later.

As a child, I tried speaking in my truest voice in the beginning throes of grievous assault. I spoke, but my voice but was ignored, disbelieved, or chastised by other voices around me. Voices I should have been able to trust. Voices of those who could have should have believed, protected, and nurtured. Voices that instead, flippantly cast my words aside without regard. Voices that said, “Don’t speak of this again. And never, ever tell.”

As a young teen, I nearly spilled my sacred to a few adults who seemed trustworthy, but stopped short of speaking a truth that deeply embarrassed me. Guilt and shame were all a-swirl in my mind as if I had possibly done something to encourage my grandfather’s actions. With humiliation embedded deep, I knew (wrongly), I didn’t matter.

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What if they cast me aside? What if they don’t believe me either? What if my grandpa makes good on his threats?

But my voice mattered, and matters still. And so do the voices of a multitude of kindred survivors. Healing begins with the telling, the sharing of secrets long locked away.

This is why I’m inviting kindred survivors to Truest Voice…

Truest Voice is a healing place where you can tell your stories, your “sacred.” Yet, please always keep in mind there are kindred survivors who may find descriptive detail offensive, perhaps triggering them to silence. Truest Voice exists to help (not hinder) one another share the sacred. So please be prayerful, kind, and gentle with the words you use here.

Truest Voice is place where you can simply say, “yes.” Our community will understand. This is often the very first tentative step toward healing. If this is you, my kindred friend, you are all kinds of brave, and each one here is so very proud of you for trusting your first step with us.

Truest Voice is also a place you can simply dwell and read along as my story unfolds. I pray the telling of my sacred offers hope, even if you’re not yet ready to tell yours.

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Bear one anothers burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. -Galatians 6:2

Thank you, Sharen, for allowing God to use your story for His glory. Amen.

Please share comments and prayer requests with us. Sharen would love to answer your questions and respond to your comments. Check out her blog – True Voice.

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

Founder of Reflective Life Ministries

GUEST BLOG – Carly Jo McDougal

GUEST BLOG – Carly Jo McDougal

AN ORDINARY DAY

Written by Carly Jo McDougal

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I just got off of work, and now I am having the moral debate between taking a long nap or working out (… it’s an everyday struggle, let’s be honest). This is just a typical day in the life of Carly!

Lately, I have realized that once a routine settles in, it’s hard to not let each day fade into the next. We see it in movies over and over- just an average family reliving the same mundane routine… the ordinary just settles in and life becomes just plain average. But, on my way home from work today, something struck me deep! God allowed me to see a nugget of truth that I will forever hold fast to.

God has NOT called me to live an ordinary life!

He didn’t say “I have come so you can have life and just an ordinary one at that” NO!! He says, “I have come so that you may have life and LIFE TO THE FULL!” John 10:10.

Does this mean I need to alter my life, so everything I do is over the top extraordinary? No. It simply means that Christ can make the ordinary, extraordinary. He alone is life to the full. It does not matter the circumstance. He is constant. And, He produces life & fruit even in the most mundane tasks. He longs for me to experience a vibrant life full of wonder and passion for Him. He wants me to go & do mighty things even in the midst of the ordinary!

When I saturate in the Word, the Lord can turn mundane tasks into extraordinary avenues and adventures. When I am near to Jesus, I see life from His perspective. A broader picture with more detail and beauty and wonder. Look at the disciples. Simon and Andrew were just fishing, like any normal day on the job. Then, Jesus walks by and asks them to join Him on the adventure of a lifetime- being a disciple of Jesus. They were invited to walk with the Maker of the Heavens and hear about His favorite breakfast item, what His favorite kind of dog was, and what stirred His affection. I want that. I want to walk with Jesus and hear what stirs His affection. I have experienced so much joy, pain, adventures, & growth in my relationship with the Lord over the years that I can’t help but live in thankfulness, dwelling in the presence of my Maker.

A key to life to the full is gratitude. It’s an everyday choice.

I will choose gratitude, even in the hardest of situations. To start off: I am thankful for the big things such as America, my family, my Mama’s beef stroganoff, dear friends, laughter & holidays. But, I’m also thankful for the little, quirky things such as the trivia games on cereal boxes, the small victory of finishing a tube of chapstick (am I right, ladies?), a pilot pen that doesn’t smear… and so much more!

So, today and every day, I will fight the urge to let my day be ordinary. I will choose adventure, passion, & gratitude even in the ordinary tasks because a life with Jesus is anything but ordinary. 

“In the end, it doesn’t matter how well we have performed or what we have accomplished—a life without heart is not worth living.” ― John Eldredge


Check out more from Carly Jo McDougal’s blog – A Relentless Kind of Love

Please share your comments with me. What a blessing to hear from you!

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

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