What do you do when the bad outweighs the good and seems to be bigger than God’s power? How does one cope with negative circumstances that seem to defy everything you’ve believed about God?
Nan Jones knows this feeling all too well, and her testimony of God’s goodness in hard situations will encourage your heart.
Join Rachel as she and Nan uncover what it’s like to journey life with a loved one diagnosed with dementia. Learn how to lean into God’s embrace when your faith gets shattered by the weight of the world and lies of the enemy.
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Rachel Wojo: Well, hey there! And welcome to the Untangling Life podcast with Rachel Wojo. I’m Rachel, and I am honored that you are giving us some of your time today. I have a special guest on the show, my friend Nan Jones, and I’m so glad you made it. I am so happy to be here and excited to share
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nan: what God has done in my life so that you, in turn, will be encouraged, that nothing is impossible with our God. That’s good, you know. I typically don’t dance around issues. You’ve known me long enough to know that I like to get straight to the heart of a matter, so we will dive right in. Both of us have experienced a lot of pain, suffering and loss, and I know those topics are not
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Rachel Wojo: a stranger to you by any means. I would say that you and I are soul sisters in this regard. I think there’s a sort of special cavalry of ministry leaders who have gone through hardship in a very real and tangible way. So, would you begin our conversation today by sharing what happened in your family, and 2003. Yes, I absolutely will. Because this is what it was for me
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nan: in my walk of faith, it was a devastating year. It was a year that I wouldn’t like to relive, but the reward that has since come from 2,003, you know the Lord says He is our exceedingly great reward, and I have learned through times of loss and suffering, that I find him more and more in 2,003 was the beginning of this
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nan: journey, I guess, of learning who he is in my sorrow. It began with my brother committing suicide. And then, six weeks later, my father was diagnosed with leukemia. 7 months later he died.
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nan: You know, within 7 months, he was gone. My mom died when I was 20, and I have a wonderful, wonderful stepmother. She died just last year, at age 98, but nevertheless, my immediate biological family were gone and I was Daddy’s little girl, you know. So that’s hard to so, and then, a few months after Daddy died, a very close friend of mine died of a very cancer.
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nan: and I had anointed her with oil, and prayed the prayer faith for her healing, and we were passing a precious little Baptist church, where they didn’t do that kind of thing, but I believe because she was my friend, and I wanted God to heal her. I wanted desperately. She had 2 young boys, I mean I just it. One was special needs, you know, and I was just like.
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nan: and she died on top of Daddy dying, and on top of my brother dying, and then, a few months after she died. We were asked to leave the church. Imagine that
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nan: that we passed for several years, and there’s no hurt like Church heart. It’s a hurt of a heart, especially when you’re the pastor and his wife. But for anyone who goes through Church hurt it’s devastating. And so it was. Sorrow upon sorrow, upon sorrow. And you know, when you go through those seasons, it chips away, it chips away your joy, it chips away at your strength, your faith, all that you’ve ever believed and state your life on is
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nan: starting to crumble.
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It was a horrific time, and I got to where
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nan: I couldn’t pray. I was numb. I was. I could say Jesus, I could pray, Jesus, and that’s what I did a lot, you know. I still was clinging. I was like, but God, where are you? Why is this happening to me and to our family. I was clinging, and.
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nan: interestingly enough, as I was speaking the name of Jesus, you know I came to my mind, was the old rugged cross in 4
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nan: months, maybe a year. I sang the old rug across.
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nan: If I was washing dishes, if I was driving, if I was, do no matter what vacuuming. Whatever I was doing that song, I couldn’t pray. I was too numb in my spirit, but I’ve always loved to sing, and I would sing on a hill far away stood in old rug across, and tears would come. But that was I was the roots of my faith. That was
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nan: that song represented. Why, I could cling, even though I didn’t understand, even though I was falling apart, I felt like the sorrow was consuming me. The old rugged cross kept me clinging to him, and he brought me through.
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Rachel Wojo: That’s a lot of loss, a huge magnitude of loss. Would you say that you had healthy role models when it came to experiencing loss and coping with grief, and how to manage all of that magnitude of loss?
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nan: I don’t know. I wouldn’t think of it as having a role model
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nan: in ministry. You’re around a lot of grief. I’ve been with people on the threshold of death and eternity many, many times. It is a wholly sacred space for me, something that I don’t fear, but I
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nan: so I’ve watched others. But well, I think well, for one thing in 2,003. Our children are in their thirties now, but they were still school-age, you know. Back then. We have always had a close family unit
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nan: very close even to this day. We’re very close, and we’ve always allowed
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nan: you own your emotion. Hey? If you’re feeling, it’s okay to feel this, God is Ok with you, feeling this, that the anger is not the sin. It’s harboring, the anger that allows you to separate from God. That’s
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nan: I mean. Nothing separates us from his love, but we put up a wall that breaks fellowship. So within our home, we always allowed one another. What is it? It’s okay to feel what you’re feeling. It’s okay to ask the hard questions.
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nan: and then let’s get through it together, you know. Let’s identify. And then let’s take it to the Lord because it we had a foundation of faith in our home. We didn’t give the kids religion. We gave him Jesus, which makes it harder when one decides to be a prodigal. But he’s back. It came back. But yeah, it makes it harder, but because we gave him Jesus. So I think, and I believe that’s a great question because I really never thought about it. But I believe that that’s the core.
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nan: It’s okay to own and name that emotion. I talked about that in the book, the offering you have to
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nan: when you can name what is consuming you. You break its power because that name is what you can offer.
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Rachel Wojo: That is so good. When you can name what’s consuming you? Then you break the power. I think that is so important. That sort of brings us to this next topic I wanted to ask you about, and that is the word lament, the word lament, and it’s such a beautiful word to me. But what does that word lament really mean to you
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nan: right. I had to truly consider the process.
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nan: The book that my book that just came out is The Offering: How to Emerge from shattered faith.
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nan: How do you do that? How do you do that? Lord, how do I do this? How do I come out of this brokenness? How do I do this and lament dropped into my spirit, and I didn’t even understand. We we don’t hear that word in church, you know. I mean not I didn’t, you know, is, I know the word, but never had considered the word.
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nan: and the Lord took me to Psalm 42, 7, that’s one it starts with as the dear pantaphor, the waters, and my so long for ye, O Lord!
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Well, I think it’s for 7, but somewhere in Psalm 42
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nan: is the phrase as deep calls to deep, and
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nan: I’m visual. And so phrases like that get my attention. But I didn’t understand it, and I mean for several years. Honestly, I had not related it to lament at that point, but
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nan: just for several years, it had always caught my teeth. Look well, Lord, what does this mean deep cost a deep, and it finally occurred to me that the depths of my pain
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nan: call out to the depths of his love, and he meets me there. His all sufficiency meets my insufficiency and heals me and completes me, and that is what lament is the depth of my pain, the depth of your pain
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nan: in lamenting that depth, calls out to the depth of his love with honesty, with authenticity, and King David is our example. I love his example. I love to point people to his example. It’s okay to express your anger to God. It’s okay to question him, to be frustrated and afraid and confused. It’s not okay to harbor it.
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nan: not because he will reject you, but because that harboring builds a wall and separates and breaks your fellowship in lamenting that is wholly unacceptable to the Lord. If you think about it.
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nan: I believe that if we feel
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nan: that we can express our true heart feelings and emotions to the Lord. Isn’t that an expression of trust? It’s an expression of faith. Honesty he is, is not.
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nan: It’s not a place of shame. It’s a place the same. Lord, you let me down big time. I don’t understand, but I want to understand. This is how I feel. So it’s the pouring out
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nan: in the process of lamenting is the pouring out
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nan: to reach the depth of his love, because he will always respond. What does he tell us? He draws near to the brokenhearted into those crushed in spirit, and when you are crushed, a contrite heart is beautiful to the Lord. If you look at the definition of contrite. It is a thoroughly crushed spirit, you know. Contrite is used with repentance, but contrite also, I think, transfers over to having
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nan: a broken heart. He that’s wholly unacceptable to him, reminding me of Hannah the story of Hannah, and how she says, I have poured out my soul to the Lord and
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nan: II really believe that that pouring out is what he’s looking for when we’re that raw honesty and vulnerability before him. He already knows the emotion, but by sharing it with him. That opens the door for us to understand that he can handle it. And
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nan: as Cory Tim would say, there is no pit too deep that God’s love is not deeper still. That’s what was echoing in my mind when you were talking about deep calls to deep, and all of that conversation was so beautiful. So there’s a quote in your book, The Offering, that makes me smile because it’s so true. You say sometimes God takes a long time
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nan: to do something suddenly. Yes, Amen! Amen! Lord, do you do it all the time in your life? Yes, I don’t. I wish I knew who the original person was. It was not my quote, but it, you know. It touched my heart deeply. What do we do? We pray? And we wait, and then we wait and we pray, and then we pray, and we wait is taking forever. And it’s like.
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nan: What, what are you doing? You know what? Why is taking so long? And then, all of a sudden everything comes together. He has taught me so much
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nan: about his eternal perspective. Okay, things in our lives are monumental. We follow a clock, we follow a calendar. It takes time. God follows no time for him. It’s like this. So when we’re waiting and praying and praying and waiting
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nan: is taking a stretch of time, but in eternity, God is putting all the pieces together to give us the answer to our prayer.
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nan: or the manifestation of our dream and our hope, or whatever it is that we’re praying and waiting on God’s perspective, is like this is sudden
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nan: because he does not follow a clock, he does not follow a calendar. We do
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nan: so when we’re waiting, we’re praying. We think he’s doing nothing. He’s working in his. Suddenly, he’s working to put it all together. So what does that? How does that help us
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nan: if we can learn to make a shift to see things
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nan: through an eternal perspective through God’s perspective. It helps so much, and I’m not there completely yet. I still get frustrated when I have to wait on things, you know we all do. We’re human. We all do, but I’m trying
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nan: to learn to
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nan: go there quicker. Nothing’s happening. I’ll go. Wait a minute.
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nan: Lord, you hear me when I pray you, you delighted, giving me the desires of my heart, and you caused my will to line up with yours.
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nan: But I’m waiting.
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nan: I’m waiting on your snap when everything falls into place in our time. Sensitive world. He doesn’t have that put it together.
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Rachel Wojo: Yeah, we can’t see into eternity. It’s it it.
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Rachel Wojo: We just have to trust that his timing will be of excellence, and it will be bigger and better than we can imagine.
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Rachel Wojo: what has been
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Rachel Wojo: some of the more recent suffering in your life that your heart has had to endure? Would you share that with us? I will. I absolutely will.
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nan: I told you about 2,003,
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nan: and now I can look back and see how that year and other things that came afterward. But that was the year
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nan: God was preparing me for 2,014.
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nan: I asked my husband before he always praysfor me, and I said, We’re gonna talk about things. And are you okay with that? And he said, absolutely, because, like me, he wants our story to help someone else.
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nan: so 2,014, David and I had been in ministry together as a pastor and his wife for 31 years. Wonderful years we were
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nan: one, I mean our marriage. Truly one. We not only were in covenant with one another, we were in covenant with God; you know we had made that declaration in our wedding, even that we were in covenant with him.
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nan: Such a special.
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nan: if we people would tell us you have the marriage that we envy. So that’s important that you understand that that that was a solid place in my life.
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nan: In 2014 something started happening with David. He was changing, and we had gone through. Extensive unemployment was when the market had broken a few years earlier, and
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nan: anyway, it was just a hard time, anyway. So I thought, Okay, that’s what’s happening. He just needs space and grace, you know. But what actually was happening was
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adulterous affairs. He began to drink. He began to lie and to cuss, and it was.
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nan: Who are you? Who are you? It was I cannot.
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nan: I still don’t even have the words to fully describe, because we separated for two and a half
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nan: years I was in a fetal position, dysfunctional, for like six months
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nan: couldn’t sleep in my own bed for months on end. The kids came and stayed with me.
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nan: It was all before they had kids of their own for like six weeks, you know, just so it wouldn’t be alone. I mean, it was
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nan: you would think about it. Now I can tear up. It was a horrific cause. It made no sense. But David was sick. I didn’t know he was sick for four years. I didn’t know he was sick, but 2,014. We separated.
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nan: In October, 2016, he came. He came home or tried to. At that point, he been living in Hickory is a two hour drive from our house. He was completely homeless. He had walked for 2 days in hitchhiks to get back to the mountain, slept behind a guard rail overnight that night, and showed up at my door, and I turned him away.
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nan: turned him. I didn’t want him here. I had grounds for divorce, spiritual grounds for divorce, but
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nan: that wasn’t part of who we were, so I never could do that cause I loved the man I married. I just didn’t know this person. I turned him away, and that night our summer third shift works third, shift him.
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nan: It was October in the mountains
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nan: 90’clock at night, and he passed his daddy on the road, and he said, Mama, I couldn’t just keep going, so he picked him up and brought him home. Well, you know it was October 90’clock at night, you know it was cold, so in we live in an old farmhouse and upstairs was an extra bedroom, and I called our. We only have one shelter in in the high country. Yes, and boom! And they were full to capacity, so there was no place to go, no place to take him.
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nan: So I said, Okay, you can stay up here for 2 weeks. 2 weeks. That was in 2,016, 2 weeks. You can find a job. You’re gonna find an apartment, and you won’t get on your way, you know. II don’t want to hear about
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nan: so that so I got him into some crisis counseling. They thought he was depressed, you know. Well, yeah, we all were, you know. But something was terribly wrong, terribly wrong, like he wanted to help me, so he’d wash dishes
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nan: and would not rinse the dishes. He didn’t forget to rinse the dishes. He didn’t know he needed to rinse the dishes. The difference. I caught him putting a paper plate into a hot oven, trying to heat up some pizza. He didn’t know you can’t put a paper plate into a hot oven like what is happening. So it was clear he could not take care of himself, but he still had to stay upstairs, and it was still tense and uncomfortable.
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nan: So it took 2 years. Give us a 2,018, 2 years
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nan: of him living upstairs, and we finally, finally, after many neurological tests and everything else, we found the diagnosis, frontal temporal dementia which begins with a behavior flip is your frontal temporal. I mean frontal lobes and your temporal lobes, your place of reasoning, your place of judgment. There’s a personality, Flip, inappropriate behaviors, all that we had an explanation.
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nan: We had an explanation it took
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nan: after you got home 2 years to get the diagnosis, and I was walking through my office one night because there’s still yes, I have an explanation. Thank you. God, I have an explanation, but the wounds in my heart
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nan: rip to shreds, rip to shreds.
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nan: and I’m walking through my office, and the Lord Sydney and I need you to take care of my faithful servant. Would you do that for me? And I said no, but his family had to sign in to because of his behavior, because we didn’t know he was sick. We’ll see now we do know he’s sick, but now I’m wounded and poor, you know.
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nan: Yeah. So I said, no, he said. The Lord said, well, you don’t. You don’t have to, you know literally you can divorce him, and it’ll be okay. But he has no line.
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nan: Would you
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nan: consider taking care of my faithful servant? Now see, David, he was. He didn’t play the church games, and so meaning that
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nan: he, like we, had to leave one choice because people were coming. So many people were coming, but they weren’t the right kind of people, you see, I’m saying, like he would go to the jails and share the gospel with the inmates, you know, and give them hope of life. He, one of our church members down off the mountain. Was a policeman, and on Friday nights David would go with
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nan: this person to the Red Light district to witness to the prostitutes and bring them to charge and get them saved. I mean, that’s that’s my husband. He has such a heart for the UN lovelies of society.
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nan: and now he was one of them, you know. So the Lord saying, he’s been so faithful, would you? I am. Finally, I mean, I wrestled like Jacob wrestled. I wrestled.
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nan: and finally I said, Okay, but you gotta help me go. Your Grace is your strength.
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nan: And that was the pivot for forgiveness. That was it, didn’t it? Still took 2 more years to forgive it? Did he stay upstairs for another year before he came down before. Let him come back down to stay, you know, in our room. But but God has done this incredible work, and and yes, the
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nan: the dementia is advancing, but yet
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nan: he should be dead by now, according to doctors, and he is not. He prayed for me the most beautiful prayer before I came on here. But that is where the offering. Here’s my book. That is our story, because I understand anyone who was crushed in spirit, who loves God and are so angry with God. You put this wall up and don’t want to be near him.
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Rachel Wojo: I received an email. I was actually going to print it out and read it. Some of it today in our
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Rachel Wojo: time together, Nan, because the email was from a lady who’s in her sixties
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Rachel Wojo: who has gone through so much? I mean, she describes her life in this email.
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Rachel Wojo: and it is horrific. It is a terrible, awful set of circumstances that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. And she talks about how this has made her so angry, and she is so bitter at God, and you and I both.
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Rachel Wojo: We have these beautiful stories of yes, I was mad at God, but he forgave me. I forgave him for what I thought he needed to be given, for I experienced a transformation in my heart over a time period over a process.
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Rachel Wojo: What would you say to the person who’s listening right now, who says my faith is shattered? I don’t believe in God anymore. I’m mad. I’m hurt, and I’m tired of coping with this messed up world that we live in, and my situation specifically the deaths, the suffering, the losses, the sin, the
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Rachel Wojo: all the parts of things that I didn’t ask for I didn’t want any of this. How would you encourage that person to find beauty
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Rachel Wojo: in the ashes of what they’re sitting in right now because it doesn’t look like there’s anything left
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Rachel Wojo: of her life. And I was so
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Rachel Wojo: taken back by her email that I just sat there for a minute and thought, Lord, I don’t even know what to say to her. I don’t even know how to encourage her heart, because she’s right. There is nothing but ashes there.
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Rachel Wojo: So in this beautiful book, your beautiful book, the offering you do encourage women and encourage Christians on how to sit in those ashes and look for the beauty. Would you share with us what your
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Rachel Wojo: really, what you, your lesson, learned, your principles that you’ve learned to live by are in this timeframe absolutely. I hear from people like that, too, and it always breaks my heart. But I can also relate and understand. And
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nan: First thing is
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nan: is oh, there is no shame, and what you’re feeling there is no shame is justifiable. It is yours to own. Everybody around. You understands how you’re feeling, and God understands. He searches our heart, knows our anxious thoughts. So that is number one.
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nan: is that it’s okay. It is your pain. Do not be ashamed that you feel this way, because that is a work of the enemy in itself. If he can get you in the shame
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nan: that he can keep you away from reconciliation and restoration also had to come to the realization that we live in a fallen world. Now we say that those words often some people do. I do.
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nan: but it’s true. Bad things happen to good people. Well, why didn’t God prevent that? Well, because until Jesus returns, this is Satan’s domain, he is the prince of the power of the air, and he rose, this earth walking to and fro, seeking whom he can devour.
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nan: He, we’re told he comes to steal, kill, and destroy. How does he do that?
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nan: Typically 4 categories, through division, through distraction, through deception and through discouragement? The areas that the enemy works to steal and kill and destroy.
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nan: That is the reality that we don’t like. We don’t want to acknowledge it. We think it’s stupid, but if you believe in the Word of God
00:26:57.400 –> 00:27:06.859
nan: is truth. That is how the enemy works. So, God, where are you? In all of this he is drawing near.
00:27:06.880 –> 00:27:09.390
nan: He is coming close
00:27:09.540 –> 00:27:19.660
nan: just as he promised. But we are looking here. This is our circumstance, and it’s real, and it’s painful, and you hate it. You’re just consumed
00:27:20.400 –> 00:27:40.970
nan: all the while God is coming to that to his child. He pursues us in the wilderness places just like he did Hagar, just like he did the woman at the well the Samaritan woman. He had to go to Samaria because he knew she was there. He found Hagar in the wilderness which implies he was seeking this young woman.
00:27:41.870 –> 00:28:03.110
nan: it pursues us. But if we are focused like we do and understandably. So we focus on what is happening, and it is destroying us. That’s all we can see, and God is coming. His Spirit is pressing in, but we don’t see we don’t recognize him. Focus
00:28:03.530 –> 00:28:09.259
nan: is here. So that is where I think it begins because
00:28:09.700 –> 00:28:14.919
nan: then you go into lament. You know you have just let it rip.
00:28:15.210 –> 00:28:30.810
nan: let it rip, and then say, God shows he loves to prove himself to his children. I totally believe that, and he says, if you seek me, you will find me. Yes, so that is, I would start
00:28:30.930 –> 00:28:45.439
nan: there. It’s okay to whatever you’re feeling is justified, and people understand it. And so does God. But look up, child, look up and risk it. Take a risk to see again.
00:28:45.830 –> 00:29:17.999
Rachel Wojo: Well, Nan, I appreciate you taking the time to share how to emerge from shattered faith when man, if anyone, could say that they have a right to feel the way they do. It has been you with all that you have gone through, and so I’m so thankful that you did not stay in those difficult places in your mind and in your spirit, but that you took the path of choosing to learn to rely on God and want others to take that same path. Where can people find you
00:29:18.050 –> 00:29:47.589
nan: to connect with you? Nan, what’s the best place? Okay, on my website is Nan Jonescom and my social media links are on there. I’m I’m across the board on social media. But my favorite hangout is on Facebook, my professional page. There’s Nan Jones, author, speaker, and Bible teacher, or my personal page. I’d love you to join me there under Nan Trammel Jones, and you find the offering at
00:29:47.600 –> 00:29:56.020
nan: on Amazon right now. It will be merging into Barnes and Noble before too long and hopefully being available in some bookstores
00:29:56.020 –> 00:30:20.629
nan: as well, so awesome. I will be sure to provide the link in the show notes. And actually, I say, shown, it’s all you have to do. If you’re listening, scroll down the page and get to the description, and you’ll be able to see the link right there to check out Nan’s book. Nan, thank you so much for being with us today? Would you pray us out so that our just for
00:30:20.630 –> 00:30:48.089
Rachel Wojo: pray over our listeners, for those who are discouraged, for those who are walking through hard things right now. I know that. They’re listening because they would love to see their faith grow stronger, and they would love to emerge from the dark places, and so would you pray for them. Now for me, please. Absolutely. I would love to father. I thank you for your goodness, Laura, thank you for your faithfulness.
00:30:48.340 –> 00:31:06.660
nan: Lord, you are who you say you are, and you do what you say you will do, and, Lord, you search our hearts, and you know our anxious thoughts. You know our going in our coming out. You know all there is to know about us. You are Elroy, the god who sees and knows
00:31:06.760 –> 00:31:11.609
nan: all about it, and you care enough to press in
00:31:11.620 –> 00:31:18.530
nan: when we are brokenhearted, and crushed in spirit. Lord, I pray for those who are listening. Lord.
00:31:19.000 –> 00:31:26.469
nan: my heart breaks for them, and your heart, when they weep, for you are weeping because you are pressing in
00:31:26.780 –> 00:31:45.600
nan: whispering, calling their name. Lord, I pray you would open their ears to hear that still, small voice once again I pray that you would open the eyes of their heart to recognize tangible evidence that you are truly there with them, just as you said you would be.
00:31:46.090 –> 00:31:51.269
nan: I’m so thankful that you understand us, that you are a good
00:31:51.290 –> 00:32:04.340
nan: Father, tender and gentle in your love, and yet you are mighty in your power, and your desire is to see us healed and restored and reconciled to you
00:32:05.000 –> 00:32:09.470
nan: when I ask that you would stir up faith and hope
00:32:09.590 –> 00:32:28.959
nan: in the hearts of those who are listening who are devastated, let them know that they are not alone in this pain. Let them know that they do not need to feel ashamed of how they feel. Lord, you’re not shaming them. You’re not condemning them that is, the enemy of their soul.
00:32:29.070 –> 00:32:33.979
nan: to continue to keep them separated in fellowship with you.
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nan: Father, break through those walls in the mighty name of Jesus. Hold them close, Lord. Open their eyes to see.
00:32:44.930 –> 00:32:57.090
nan: Thank you, Father, in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen and Amen. Amen. Thank you, Nan! Oh, I love you, girlfriend! Talk to you! Bye, bye.