Hope When it Hurts

Hope When it Hurts

There are times in life when it would be easier to accept our circumstances rather than Hope when it hurts. The pain of our current reality can make us lose sight of eternity. Exhaustion causes us to stumble as we take the next step in faith. It’s often impossible to see what God is doing through the tears of our current circumstances.

This nagging question haunts me If we chose to accept the pain of life over the pain of Hope, who have we become?

This is the question my daughter and I discussed recently.  I told her, “I’ve concluded that without Hope we become a wretched people, with calloused hearts, and desensitized minds.”

We don’t Hope because we are naive, unable to face reality, or even because our circumstances have given us a glimpse of light. We Hope because we are now in Christ.


How to Build a Home: The Brick and Mortar of a Christian Home

How to Build a Home: The Brick and Mortar of a Christian Home

Have you ever stopped to consider the brick and mortar of the home? What builds a family to last through generations? We know engineers use specifics and design to ensure that concrete buildings withstand the test of time, tornados, and troubles but what’s the requirements for a home to stand through the storms of life? These are the questions I’ve been pondering as I pray for my family.

I do a lot of praying for my family, but always feel like I should be praying more. Praying reminds me that this home is not built by my hands, but by God’s hand alone. There are times when my prayers are about the daily challenges and struggles, but most often I am asking God what our family will look like in three generations, five generations, or more.

How to Build a Home Mrs. Joseph Wood

I’m often wondering what the future holds.

Will anyone know my name five generations from now?

What trials they will have to face?

How much mercy and goodness will follow them?

It’s not my name that I want generations from now to know; it’s my God that I want them to know. God has done incredible and magnificent things in my life. I often consider my choices based off of how this might look if it’s spoken of when I’m gone. It’s my desire to live intentionally today so that I can leave a crumb trail of God’s mercy behind me, so generations yet to be born can benefit from the truth, “His mercy endureth forever.”

I don’t desire for any grandbabies or great-grandbabies to have my name, but I beg God they will have His engraved on their hearts. I’ve always told the children as they grew, “Go love God more than I do. Be a better parent, a better wife, a better friend.” I don’t want them to be the same or less.

I want the brick and mortar of our family to grow stronger and stronger with each generation.

Three ways to build a happy home

The brick and mortar of the Home

Layer upon layer each generation builds the family home.

Faith, Love, Patience, Long-suffering, Sacrifice, Hope, Kindness, Gentleness, Forgiveness, Repentance, Hard-work, and the list could go on and on.

Imagine each of these characteristics as bricks and God’s Spirit as the mortar that holds all our feeble attempts together. Consider how marriage is the second foundational layer of the home (the first foundation layer being each relationship with Christ).

The foundation in our family contains some crumbling bricks, unset mortar, and unsecured shallow foundations. I guess we are no different than anyone else.

I am often reminded of the verse found in Proverbs.

Proverbs: 14:1, “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”

It’s foolish for us to think that our thoughts, words, or actions are neutral. I’ve had this conversation with many women, “Is what I eat for breakfast really that important?” Well, yes. It feeds your body, which fuels you for the day.

God often reveals the subtle ways I’ve ripped my home apart.

There have been times my hands were guilty of destroying because they were idle, and other times they killed because they were too busy. There have been times I allowed my words to break the hearts of those who listened, and times I failed in remaining silent.

No matter what the situation in front of us, we are wise when we understand the gravity of our choices and how we can use them to propel ourselves, our marriages, and our homes forward.

We build a home, brick upon brick, layer upon layer, and precept upon precept.

Three steps to a proven building plan:

  • Check the foundation of your home first by checking the depth of your relationship with Christ.
  • Evaluate your marriage and ensure that you are joint heirs together in the grace of life. If not, pray for your spouse. Be an example of God’s love and watch and wait with anticipation at all that God can do.
  • Consider your parenting. It’s not your job to show your children a perfect parent. No. You must teach them how to live as forgiven Sinners.

A home built by God Mrs. Joseph Wood

Friends, there will be trials in life and plain old ugly sin that will come in and tear down what’s been built. None of us are escaping this life without trials. So let’s be intentional to respond to them with grace and courage that only comes from Christ.

Homes that thrive aren’t homes that escaped the trials or had no troubles. They aren’t the homes where people made all the right choices. No, homes that thrive are homes that God blessed through humble sinners who did their best.

Let our homes be a testimony on the greatness of God not boasting on us.

With much love,
Mrs. Joseph Wood

God makes provision for my tomorrow’s, today

God makes provision for my tomorrow’s, today

God makes provision for my tomorrow’s, today. I have seen this Truth woven into my life, but none so evident as when we lived off the grid near Yosemite National Park.

It was 2006 when Joe decided it was best to move the family back up to the California mountains to live off the grid. We had lived this lifestyle before. Our first experience included five children, a tent, and the high Sierras. This time, we would have ten children, a 1000 square foot miners shack, and Yosemite National Park as our backyard.

What we lacked in housing, we made up for in the fertile landscape. Forty acres of picturesque property, rock waterfalls, natural springs that flowed year round, crystal clear creeks, a pond, pastures, and trees. We found ourselves tucked back into the mountains near Yosemite National Park, surrounded by government land.

For our family, it was a dream come true. Joe wanted our family to know the work and blessings of raising and growing our food.

Bliss meets Reality

However, it wasn’t long before our fairytale experience turned into a nightmare.

What we didn’t know was that our secluded location, as beautiful as it was, also made us a prime spot for squatters (someone who unlawfully occupies an uninhabited building or unused land), drug dealers, and criminals.

Shortly after we sold our home in the city, we moved the family up to the “farm.” Immediately, we tackled the hard work of remodeling and clean up. The children woke with the sunrise and played until the sunset. They would hoot and holler without disturbing a soul in the world. Everything was going just as we had imagined until the unexpected visitors arrived.

Unexpected Challenges

An older man and woman who knew of the property from years before just showed up one day with their beat up old trailer and fourteen chihuahuas (no, I’m not exaggerating!). They didn’t just bring the chihuahuas with them; many challenges arrived as well.

We had to go into government offices which were hours away to request that they evict the squatters and list our reasons why. It took six months for them to complete the “eviction” process. As you might imagine, our new neighbors weren’t pleased with us. They used those six months to retaliate against us in countless ways.

  • They stayed up all night (and I do mean all night) making loud and obnoxious noise.
  • In the middle of the night, they would shine bright lights at our shack so that we couldn’t sleep.
  • They would continuously yell at the children as they did their morning chores.
  • Intimidating the children with guns, pacing the property, and watching them as they played.
  • Stealing fuel and anything else they wanted from us became the “tax” we had to pay unwillingly.

There’s a book worth of details I could share, but for today’s conversation let me say that things got crazy, really crazy!

Life in the midst of squatters

As I continued to unpack the boxes and make our shack feel more like a home, I kept having a thought that I should give away a set of books that I had spent years and a large sum of money collecting. Day after day I would battle my thoughts and reasons why I should dismiss this idea. Finally, I shared with Joe about my internal argument when he wisely said, “Jeanette if God’s leading you to do something just do it.” I shared my concern about being wasteful with all the money and time spent. Again, Joe encouraged me, “Jeanette, obey God.”

That’s when things started to get interesting.

I called the first family that came to mind and asked if they might be interested in this set of books for their children. They were surprised and delighted by my call. As it would turn out this was a set of books they had wanted for years. I packed up the books and made the mountain drive to deliver these treasures to their new home.

I still remember the smiles and gratitude from the children and their parents.

Before I left, the mother asked me if I might be able to use a water purifier. It wasn’t a cheap DIY water purifier; it was the same purifier that I had put on my wishlist.

I was delighted to have this gift; I set it up on the kitchen counter as soon as I arrived back home. A few moments later (yes, moments!) I heard a knock at the front door. I figured it was a child playing and was surprised to a see the sheriff standing on my doorstep.

“Ma’am, it’s been reported that you’re giving your children spring water and don’t have any water purifier.”

I was a bit baffled. I had no idea someone could call the police on you if you didn’t have a water purifier.

“No, sir. I have a water purifier right here.” Pointing to the new gift that I’ had just brought home. He visited for a bit and then left agreeing that all was well.

The false reports continued

A few days later, another sheriff arrived saying they received a report of us living without a working toilet. I took them into the newly remodeled bathroom that my parents had bought for us. Again, we talked for a bit, and he left agreeing all was well.

The days and weeks went on with the squatters behavior becoming more and more unpredictable.

We continued to turn the shack into a home. We had engineers and solar representatives come out to the property to share their ideas on how to optimize our off grid living experience.

The provisional refrigerator

A friend called to let me know of a free propane refrigerator that was available. She knew I had one of these off-grid treasures on my wish list and had heard about this opportunity, instantly thinking about us. Joe and I loaded up the old Suburban and drove to the address given to pick up our new refrigerator. We were excited; everything we needed was coming together.

Our new refrigerator probably sat outside for a week or more. Joe saw no reason to bring it in the house since we were limited on space and didn’t have propane yet.

However, I couldn’t get over how “red neck” I felt with a refrigerator on my front lawn. My persuasion finally won, and the fridge came into the house where I used it for storing all our dishes.

The squatter situation wasn’t pleasant.

It got to the point that I would leave first thing in the morning to visit friends and family and not return until late at night. I didn’t want the children exposed to our uninvited guests any more than they had to be.

Another visit from the Sheriff

One evening, it was pitch black when I arrived back at the shack with the children. I had just got everyone settled inside when I opened the front door to go turn the generator on. There stood the sheriff again.

“Sir, can I help you?”

“Ma’am. I’m sorry. I know you guys aren’t doing anything wrong, but we have to go out on every report.”

With a deep sigh, I replied, “Okay so what did this mysterious person say we’re doing wrong now?”

“Well, Ma’am they say you don’t have a refrigerator, but I can see it sitting right there.”

Without even giving me time to explain he turned and walked away.

I shut the door and sat in the dark with the children processing all the times of God’s provision.

I don’t know if it was uninvited guests calling in the reports or someone else.

It wasn’t important to me who was making the calls. What was important was who was making provision for us and protecting us from harm.

God makes provision for my tomorrow’s

“God makes provision for our tomorrows today.”

God’s provision can be found over and over again as we turn the pages of Scripture yet it’s an entirely different experience when God’s provision shows up vividly in our daily lives.

Throughout that season of trials, I asked the Lord to remove the struggles. Yet, God, in His sovereignty, saw it best for us to live through the trial instead of avoiding the trial.

It’s not for me to argue with God on when He should speak to the storm or when He should speak to me.

I have to be responsive to His plan that focuses on eternity instead of my plan that is easily fixed on what I see, hear, and feel.

I don’t know how our trial would have been different if it had been scattered with disobedience. There have been several times when His mercy met me in my defiance and, there are plenty of times my disobedience caused unnecessary roughness.

Friends, It felt like this six months would never end. I felt like I was wadding with my nose barely above water yet, Joe and I had committed to keeping joy and not doing anything that would reflect poorly on our testimony.

It wasn’t easy.

There were times the momma bear inside me was awakened, but these three steps made all the difference in the world in keeping my soul calm.

Read the Word consistently
Pray fervently
Praise God continually

You probably remember that last week we spoke about living a responsive life and not a reactive life. I firmly believe that these three steps are needed if we choose to live responsively.

Over the next several weeks I am going to take a look through the Scriptures at women who made Faith driven responses and when those same women fell into doubt driven reactions.I hope you’ll join me as we learn and grow together.

t’s not for me to argue with God on when He should speak to the storm or when He should speak to me.

If you’re in the midst of a trial remember, God makes provision for our tomorrow’s today more often than we even realize.

Until our next chat,
Mrs. Joseph Wood


Proverbs 7: 1-2

Proverbs 7: 1-2

Proverbs 7: 1-2 reminds us that we are wise to perform life checks when we ask ourselves, “Is His Law the apple of our eye?”

It is so easy to get caught up in the busy of life, to become completely enveloped in the news around us that we forget to focus. Focus our hearts, minds, and thoughts on His Law and His will for us!

With much love,

Mrs. Joseph Wood


His Law; is it the apple of your eye?

Proverbs 7: 1-2 My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.

The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Pr 7). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

“Keep my commandments, and live”; we hear this encouragement many times throughout Proverbs. It is a common way to emphasize something of importance when we say it more than once. This passage caught my attention on the last phrase “and my law as the apple of thine eye.”  Many understand the phrase, but I decided to do a study on the phrase to find out more what our LORD was saying to us through this passage.

His Law; is it the apple of your eye_

God Cares For His People

From the beginning of Genesis to the End of Revelations we see God’s care for His people.

The beauty of this passage in Proverbs 7 points us to another attribute of God’s love for us. Not only is He a sovereign God who is the creator of all, but He is the God that even reveals himself in our natural reflexes. Zechariah 2:8 explains that God is a protector and no one touches us without his protection. God made the eye of man another example of His wondrous creation to show us how, when we put our trust in him; we are protected by God as we would guard the very pupil of our eye. (See Psalms 139:1-17 for further understanding of his care toward his people).

proverbs 7:1-2

Prayer: Father, please keep us as the apple of your eye; hide us under the shadow of your wings. Lord, Thank you that we cannot go out of your sight that you are always seeing, always knowing and we are always your concern.  We thank you for your love toward us, so much that you gave us your Son so that we could dwell with you for eternity.  Thank you for cleansing us from sin and redeeming us for sins wage of death. Father, thank you that you continually watch over us.  In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

Abiding still,

Connie Renfro

P.S. You’re invited to download our Proverbs 7: 1-2 journal page that we created just for you!

P.S.S. If you’re going through a trial, make sure you head over and read our post, “Who are you in the trials?” I know you’ll be blessed.

Proverbs Journal Page


Comparison- The Thief of Joy

Comparison- The Thief of Joy

Comparison, it may be a good skill when we’re shopping for the best price on avocados, but it’s not so good when we’re comparing our lives, loved ones, or experiences to others. In fact, my son in law, Jacob, reminded me of this quote from one of my favorite men to study, Theodore Roosevelt. (more…)

Guarding Our Joy

Guarding Our Joy

Guarding our joy is no easy task. If we’re not careful, trials and unwanted surprises can snatch our joy in an instant. So, how do we prepare ourselves from all the Joy Stealers that we are all bound to face at some point in our lives? (more…)

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