Gaining Hope in Difficult Days

In our home, we have this approach to bad days: go to bed early.  Our thought is, “the earlier we go to bed the sooner the day will be over, getting us to tomorrow, a brand-new day with brand-new beginnings.”

Lynn Anderson was onto something when she sang, “I never promised you a rose garden.”  Bad days are as much a part of life as the good ones.  Thankfully, however, the good ones do overall outweigh the bad.  But sometimes the bad are more than bad.  They’re horrific.  And those are the seasons a simple turning-in-for-the-night won’t fix.  We wake up to the nightmare we long to escape.

……….Read The Rest of The Story at JaynePatton.com

Happiness Doesn’t Happen

Do you ever wonder what it takes to just be happy?  Some days it can feel like such a struggle.

My friend Jenn Baxter asked me to write a guest post for her site, and it’s a topic I felt led to cover when sharing my story with her readers.  I hope you follow the story to her site to read the article and look around to see how Jenn is touching lives through her journey and online home.

Thank you for allowing me to share with you and for being a part of our online family here!
❤ Heather

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Heather, what more could make you happy?

It was a desperate question my mom asked as we sat on my bed looking in to a closet full of clothes, shoes and accessories.  “Not stuff, Mom.  Stuff can’t bring happiness.

I was only sixteen, but I had already concluded that trips to the mall, a brand new car and hosting parties with friends couldn’t fill the emptiness inside.  The void was far too vast for material, superficial things.  Happiness was a state I was battling to attain.

The battle began nine years earlier, when my world tragically changed on a country dirt road.

……….Read The Rest of The Story at LiveAFastLife.com

Guest Post: When God Speaks to The Broken

Guest Post: When God Speaks to The Broken

*a special post from a special guest*

So I want to start off by introducing myself and saying what an honor it is to share my story with everyone.

My name is Sean Westley, I am a husband to my beautiful wife Jasmine Westley.

My wife is an Aerospace Engineer and I am a Project Superintendent for a construction company. We have been married for almost 5 years and I am a father to 6 amazing children. We have 3 boys and 3 girls, so I guess you could say we are the modern age Brady Bunch. Those who know us, our friends and family, refer to our family as “Team W”. “Team W” because half of our family carries the last name of Westley and the other half last name Woody. Everyone having a last name starting with “W” is just one of God’s many winks for us. Go “Team W”!

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Most importantly, I am a child of God!  However, this isn’t what my life has always looked like. Matter of fact, it has looked vastly different from this beautiful picture I have painted.

I would like to start from the beginning. My life started out with a lot of hurt and pain. During my formative years there were several men brought into my life that, well let’s just say, were not very nice to me. Two of the men were sexually abusive and put much fear into me. Another was very physically and mentally abusive. When I was about 14 or 15 years old, my mom married the man she is married to today. Although he was an amazing dad, damage had already been done; all I knew to do, was distance myself from him and the rest of the family. At this point I started my own self destruction.

I quit school when I was 15 and started running around with the wrong crowd. I started smoking pot and drinking. I would sneak out at night and really just do whatever I wanted to do. In no time at all I found myself being arrested. I was completely out of control. I started doing meth and whatever I could to support that habit such as stealing from my mom and dad. It went so far that I started using stolen credit cards and that is when it all came to a head. I was arrested and ended up being charged and going to the penitentiary. The State charged me with 5 counts of credit card fraud and forgery for over $250,000 which carried a sentence of 20 to life on each count.

Let that sink in….. I’m 20 years old, facing spending the rest of my life in prison.


That’s when Grace stepped in. I received 5 consecutive 5 year sentences. All said and done, I served 5 years in an Oklahoma prison. What I overcame there in that place is yet another story. Let’s just say it was a very scary time in my life.

After getting out I started working and walking the straight path, but that didn’t last long. I started running around and fell into old habits. During this period of my life I met the mother of my kids. We were married for 13 years and we had 3 children in 3 years. That didn’t keep addiction at bay and I became addicted to several drugs. My main drug of choice was crack cocaine. I remember a time when I sold everything we owned to support my habit. Looking back it was a very low time in my life. The good news is that I made the decision to walk away from that life style. Although I wanted something else, my kid’s mom wasn’t ready to do that, so I made the decision to divorce her and fight for my kids.

And that is when Grace came to me again. Can you believe that? Me. After all I have done I was given Grace once again. The same judge that sentenced me to prison is the same judge that gave me full custody of my children. Now you are thinking, “Wow, he has overcome so much”, and yes, I would say you’re right, but that is when my toughest battle to date would come.

After getting custody of my kids I fell back into the drug scene. I also fell into a depression. Let me tell you, those two things do not go together well, at all, not at all. And that’s when it happened, ROCK BOTTOM. Yep, bottom of the barrel into the pit right where Satan wanted me. There I was lost and broken with all this responsibility and nowhere to turn. But, you guessed it, that’s when Grace entered in once again. Grace found me when I was on top of a 6 foot ladder with a noose around my neck. That is the moment when I heard God’s voice. Right then, God spoke to me and told me to get down. He said that He had a different plan for me.

In Isaiah 28: 23 NIV it says, “Listen and hear My voice; pay attention and hear what I say. You see, right in scripture, God the Father, tells us that He has given us the ability to hear His voice.

What I have come to understand is that we are too busy and too loud in our own heads to hear. I am a testimony that God speaks to the broken and on that day, I heard the audible voice of the Good Shepherd.

I hear people say that they have never heard the audible voice of God.  My question is this: how do you know? If you don’t know what His voice sounds like, how do you know that you haven’t heard it?

Well, here is my opinion on that…..we might not hear a voice out loud, vocally, where it tickles our ear drums; however, I wonder if you have ever felt strongly that God, the Creator of the Universe, spoke directly to your inner most being. Isn’t that hearing Gods voice?

Well, on that day, when that happened for me, everything changed. That is the day that I gave my life to follow Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. That day is what I call, the first day of my life. My real life, my true life, the one that God had purposed me for. That day is when I started living in God’s will. God delivered me from all my addictions and planted me firmly on the rock. On that day, I chose to be ALL in not just half in. I was all in! Every time the church doors were open my kids and I were there. Now you’re thinking “end of story,” right? Not so fast, although life got a lot better for my children and I, I had a lot of growing to do.


At this point I want to mention how extremely important our amazing church family was for my little family. By God’s leading, not out of convenience, we became family to an amazing church family at Coweta Assembly of God. In all my mess and all my failures this body of believers never once judged me, or looked down on me. They received us with open arms and have always loved on us from the very first second we walked in the doors. This was crucially important in my walk. They showed us the true definition of the love of Christ. After attending the church for about a year and going strong, my kids told me that they wanted me to be happy. “Happy?” I asked, I had never been so happy. “No dad, we want you to start dating again” they said. I told them that when it was time, God would send someone. This was when I started praying and asking God for direction, expressing that when He was ready, I was ready. We need to be very specific in our prayers and believe me I was.

I described to God what I would like to have in someone. Someone that would love my kids as her own. Someone that loved God with all her heart.  Someone that would love me unconditionally and that didn’t need to depend on me to fulfill all her needs. Someone who could stand on her own two feet. Let me tell you, God loves us and he hears our prayers and it wasn’t but a short time later that I met Jasmine.

This brings me to the next time I heard God’s voice. After only dating Jasmine for a month, I was standing on my parent’s porch and God spoke to me again.  I heard, “Sean, you prayed and asked Me to send her to you and I sent her. What are you waiting for?”

“Are you kidding me, Lord? There is no way.  I can’t do that………”

You know– that argument we have with the Lord when He asks us to trust Him.

After losing the argument, I reached into my pocket grabbed my phone, YES MY PHONE, and I called Jasmine. When she answered the phone the call went a little like this, “Jasmine, this is going to sound really strange and I am so sorry for doing this to you on the phone, but Jasmine, I am supposed to ask you to marry me.”

Without any hesitation Jasmine said yes!

You see that doesn’t just happen BUT GOD, He had a better plan.


I have stood on the scripture Jerimiah 29:11 from the first day I got saved, because a dear friend of mine was obedient to God’s voice. He approached me and told me that God told him to give me this scripture, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

Needless to say, one month later Jasmine and I got married. Now, it hasn’t been a cake walk.  We had a lot to figure out such as bringing two families together and everything that comes with that. Wow, what a ride it has been let me tell you. Just when the story should say, “happily ever after,” it happened… another test.

I fell into a state of depression again. Yep, that’s right, yet another test, and it almost broke us. But, remember we serve a big God. He says that whatever He brings together let no man separate. This test lasted on for two years and it completely consumed me. I thank the Lord for a wife that prays for her husband and that will stand on God’s Word. That’s exactly what she did.

I will never forget the day that I was set free from the grip of depression.  My wife came to me and said, “This family and I are not doing this anymore with you.  I refuse to allow you to bring us into the pit with you. It is time for you seek God and rise up and be the MAN that God has called you to be and lead our family as God has instructed you to do.”

That’s when it happened, I started seeking God and He spoke to me saying, “This season has come to an end to never return. You are an overcomer and you are My child and I love you.” 2 Timothy 1:9 NIV says this, “He has saved us and called us to a Holy life not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”

Wow! Did you hear that?! Before the beginning of time, our Father in Heaven purposed our lives!  Your life!!! Wow! I’m happy to say, God is true to His word. I have never had a season like that since.

Matter a fact, we are in a great season, and life is good. God is doing so much in our family.  I went to Haiti a few years back on a mission trip and this year we as a family went to El Salvador with our church including Heather Meadows and her family. Today, my wife and I are serving our church by leading a marriage class.

I truly believe that God gives His toughest battles to His strongest soldiers. Each of the battles that we face is the exact test we need to make us stronger. It grows us so we can share it with someone to help them along in their struggles.

There is so much more to the story.  I gave you the short version. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story.  I hope it blesses you. If there are any of you that would like to contact me so I can pray with you, I welcome you contacting me. Or, if you are in a season that just seems never ending and need someone to talk to, my wife and I are always available.

Thank you for the pleasure of sharing with you.

May God bless you and keep you,  Sean Westley— a child of God!
(click on Sean’s name to contact him through Facebook)

A Little Thought from Heather:
I met Sean sitting in my seat at church, listening, as he bravely stood at the pulpit sharing his testimony.  We’ve attended church together with our families for over six years.  I’ve observed Sean Westley.  I’ve watched him worship, with abandonment, holding nothing back.  To meet Sean is to know him.  He is transparent, genuine and authentic and the gratitude he has for his life restored overflows in his everyday interactions.  I’m honored to know this man and his beautiful family.  We’ve all been through some mud and mire.  Allowing the Lord to shine through it is a powerful testimony to our world.  May you and yours be blessed and encouraged this Christmas season by Sean’s story.  A story illustrating The Gift we celebrate this time of year–  Jesus wrapped up His hope, His love, His grace to transform our lives when He came to this earth, born in a manger, loving us to the cross and giving us victory in His resurrection.  Merry Christmas!  Much love, Heather ❤️

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Everyday Easter

A grave can be beautiful. When Brooklyn was little she loved to go with my Mom to the cemetery to decorate the graves. It was a peaceful place, with beautiful flowers and meaningful stones. People visit to reflect on the life once lived. It’s a physical resting place in tribute of the one who once walked the earth. But I don’t like cemeteries.

I can count the number of times I have visited my brother’s and my dad’s grave sites. My very first memory of a cemetery came the day I was discharged from the hospital on July 11th 1988. You may have pictured a grand departure from the burn center, but it wasn’t. It was somber. My dad was there to take me home. (side note: my mom was home preparing the welcome home celebration).

On our way home, Dad turned into the cemetery. We pulled up beside the steps opening to the sidewalk which led to Jon’s grave. I don’t remember how my dad physically got me up to the grave. He probably carried me from the car. I do however, remember him kneeling down beside me and touching Jon’s marker. I took in the dates- January 18, 1979 to April 27, 1988. I remember Dad crying. I remember hurting inside more than the hurt I had sustained on the outside. I remember feeling empty, alone, and sadder than I believe many adults have ever encountered. I was seven.

Death didn’t claim me on April 27, 1988, but death, nevertheless, overwhelmed my life. Death has a sting. It’s realized in the days, unguaranteed and the questions, unanswered.

When we feel the grief of the grave, it is then, that we can understand the significance of an empty one.

When I celebrate the empty tomb on Easter morning, I’m celebrating from understanding the grief of a filled one.

For me, knowing Jesus overcame the grave means He overcame that dark day my brother was put into one.

In life, there is no greater defeat than death. Death is final. My mom has frequently said, “as long as we’re breathing, there is hope,” meaning, things can always change. It’s encouraging to think on such a statement when things are awry.

When the job has been lost; when the diagnosis has been given; when the spouse has forsaken or even abandoned the covenant; when the child is rebelling; when the flood waters rise and the storm keeps raging, we can remember there is still hope for better, because there is still life.

But actually, there’s more. There is hope beyond life.

We all aim to make choices we feel will result in a happy life. Even the most self-destructive of choices are made not necessarily to create misery but to escape it; all for the desire to just be happy.

So what helps us to be at peace with the life we have on this earth, even when this life has seemed pretty crummy?

It’s knowing that this isn’t all there is.

No matter what trials we face in this life, this life is nothing compared to the next.  (James 4:14)

It’s a truth applicable for every day we live, not just on Easter Sunday. It may be Wednesday, but He is still alive! The celebration isn’t confined to one day a year—it’s continually realized in the face of life’s darkest days and hardest places.

Rejecting the gift Jesus provided to us on the cross, and the victory He established on Resurrection Morning, is allowing death to accomplish the intended purpose. One choice, one choice, to accept and pronounce Jesus as Lord and Savior, conquers death and the grave forever.

This knowledge allows me to walk as an overcomer. This knowledge gives me the stride of a victor.

Scarred bodies, loved ones dead- not the end, because He rose again!

Philippians 1:20-21 NIV~ I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

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