Cyntoia Brown-Long: It wasn’t until I came back to God, and I sat down, and I just let Him take over—that’s when I was free.
I don’t think God gives us testimonies for us to just sit on them. And [when I was in prison, I made a] promise to Him that, “If you do free me, then I will tell the world about you.” And I’m going to keep my word, because I think it’s important. I think it is necessary.
God Can Rewrite Any Story: Cyntoia Brown-Long and Liz Marie Galvan – Episode #169
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Today we talk with two young women who have faced incredible hardship. But when they turned their traumatic circumstances over to God, they saw Him work in miraculous ways to redeem their struggles and today allow Him to use their stories to heal others: author and activist Cyntoia Brown-Long and interior designer Liz Marie Galvan.
Up first, Cyntoia Brown-Long shares the redemptive story of how she found hope through faith after an unimaginable series of events marked her adolescence. While still a high schooler, the man Cyntoia thought was her boyfriend began physically and sexually abusing her and forced her into prostitution. One night in 2004, sixteen-year-old Cyntoia was solicited by a forty-three-year-old man. During the course of the evening, Cyntoia began to fear for her life and shot him. Cyntoia was arrested, and later convicted on a charge of first-degree murder. She shares a little about how her life took first took a turn downward, and after her conviction, how she purposed to create hope, even through this harrowing situation.
Cyntoia Brown-Long: My name is Cyntoia Brown-Long. I am thirty-one years old. And for about two months now, I’ve been freed from prison. I was incarcerated at the age of sixteen, and after fifteen years, God finally freed me.
I grew up in Clarksville, Tennessee, about three minutes from the military base Fort Campbell. My family consists of my mother, Ellenette, a special needs teacher, and my father, he’s retired military. And then I also have a sister.
My dreams pretty much changed all the time. One minute, I may have wanted to be an architect, or an engineer. I’m not really sure I knew exactly what that consisted of, but it just sounded fancy enough for me.
In my house, we grew up in a Baptist Church, Missionary Baptist. Every Sunday, every Wednesday, my mom made sure that we went to church. It was a constant. And there was a lot of structure in my house. My mother is very strict. So for all intents and purposes, I had a very healthy environment at home.
But it was at school that I would start to get in trouble and started hanging around the wrong people. I eventually ended up going to an alternative school. I got into some more trouble, which led to me being locked up in the juvenile delinquent system. Once I became a delinquent, I actually ran away from the facility, and ended up being on the streets in Nashville with people that I met in the facility. I started meeting people who did not have my best interests at heart.
I started doing drugs, smoking marijuana, doing cocaine on a regular basis. I did cocaine for about two weeks, and that was with a man that I had actually met, who is now known as my trafficker. At the time, I thought it was my boyfriend. That’s kind of how it happens. When you’re young, you’re on the run, you don’t really understand everything that you’re putting yourself into. You put yourself in a lot of adult situations, without knowing what you’re getting yourself into. Before I knew it, I was actually being trafficked on the streets of Nashville.
On the night that led to my incarceration, I was actually staying in a hotel room with Cut Throat—he was the man who, at the time, I thought was my boyfriend. It was time for me to go back out and bring money back for us to get into the hotel room.
I just felt really fearful, really uncomfortable. And again, I was in a situation that a sixteen-year-old girl should not have been in with a forty-three year old man. I ended up shooting him, because I was fearful of what was going to happen. After that happened, I went back to the hotel, and within 24 hours, I was caught by the police and I was arrested for murder.
Learning to Live a Meaningful Life Behind Bars
When I was first sentenced, I was actually told that I would spend the rest of my life in prison. In the state of Tennessee, you have to serve at least fifty-one calendar years before you’re even considered for any type of release.
I saw a lot of people around me who were given the same news, and they kind of just gave up hope after a while. And I didn’t want to be that. I didn’t want to be that person. I knew that there was some way that I could live some type of meaningful life [in prison]. I still had a family who was there for me. I wanted to keep going for their sake, not just for my sake. I don’t think at the time that I made that decision [because] I really cared enough about myself, to make it for myself. It was really for my mother’s sake that I wanted to do better and I wanted to actually live a meaningful life.
“I knew that there was some way that I could live some type of meaningful life [in prison].” – Cyntoia Brown-Long
The opportunity to join a college course through a local university, Lipscomb University, came and I worked really hard. I went through all kinds of hurdles, and I finally got accepted into the program. It was after I started taking classes there that I started to see, Wow, it is really possible for me to actually live a real life in prison.
I spent most of my time studying my schoolwork or having conversations with other people, and it really just opened my mind up. That was really helpful for me. Developing self-control and learning how to make the right decisions there in the prison environment. Because it’s hard—it’s very difficult to try to keep yourself out of trouble there.
A Miraculous Meeting
Narrator: With her sharp mind and determination to expand her horizons, Cyntoia earned an associate’s degree and then a bachelor’s degree. She even worked with a film crew to release a documentary of her life on PBS in 2011 called Me Facing Life, sharing her story with millions around the world. But in 2017, there was one man who resonated very strongly with this young woman’s story—and he would eventually become her husband.
Jamie Long: My name is Jamie Long. I’m from a city outside of Houston by the name of Lamar, Texas. I’m a God-fearing man. I’m a husband. That’s who I am.
The way me and my wife met is nothing short of a miracle. I come from a musical background in my family, my uncle being Huey Long [of the Ink Spots]. My grandfather, Curtis Long, played guitar for Bobby Blue Bland and a whole bunch of your famous blues singers. Everyone in my family sings, everyone in my family plays an instrument. And I fell into that bloodline.
I grew up in a Christian family and that’s what my mother always instilled in me—Christ. I remember hearing the voice of the Lord at a young age. You know, that didn’t change when I became an adult. I started to really realize where this voice was coming from, who it was coming from.
I was actually in my studio, preparing to go back on tour, finishing up an album. I was having writer’s block, and I decided to step out of the studio and go into one of the extra rooms we had at the studio. And on my TV, there were YouTube recommendations for me to watch. My TV had been on for three days and I just didn’t turn it off. She [Cyntoia] had been sitting on my TV for three days.
I noticed it [the documentary] was an hour long, and I was like, There’s no way I’m watching this whole story. I’m just not. I mean, if you know me personally, it’s hard to get me to watch a ten-minute segment. First of all, I don’t even know what this is about but if it recommended me to watch it, I’ll watch it.
An hour later, I was just like, Wow, that was pretty amazing.
The Lord stopped me in my tracks, and He said, “Write her a letter, and write it right now.”
And I said, “I’m not gonna write her a letter right now. I’m gonna go back in the studio and finish doing what I’m doing.”
It was just so heavy on my heart, I never made it back into that room. I stopped right there, stopped what I was doing. I wrote her a letter and I said, “Okay, God, I did it.” I put it in the envelope and I said, “All right, I’ll send it out tomorrow.”
He said, “Take it back out of that envelope, and burn the edges of the paper.”
I said, “Okay, either I’m going crazy, or God is up to something.”
And I burned the edges of the paper. I was obedient to the voice of the Lord. I sent the letter in, and I forgot I sent it.
About a week or two later, I got a letter back from her. She told me that the reason she wrote back was because she saw the edges of the paper burned.
And I said, “Okay, we’re dealing with a God who’s serious about details.”
Cyntoia: Yeah, that was the only reason I wrote, because it stuck out so much. I wasn’t writing anybody back at the time. I had gotten so many letters in, but I wasn’t responding to anyone.
Jamie: Yeah, I’m not a person to write anybody, either.
Cyntoia: You sure ain’t!
True Freedom Comes from God
Cyntoia: When Jamie first wrote me, he could speak a lot to me about God. And the thing is that God was telling him to let me know—to have faith in Him, that He was going to get me through this. And at that time, I had become so bitter and so angry, because I felt that I had spent so much time praying for God to get me out of this. Here I was, and it’s like, “Well, where are You?”
I didn’t realize that I was angry. I just told myself, Well, I just don’t believe. He’s just not real. And you know, Jamie would constantly—not in a pushy way, but he would continue to tell me about his experience, things that God had done in his life. It was like, “Well you know, I remember a similar circumstance. . . ” So yeah, I guess there is no explanation [other than] it was God. It really caused me to start going back and looking over things with new eyes. “All right, maybe I just kind of explained this away because I was angry.”
If I had to say what I love most about Jamie, I love the way he loves God so much. I get to see how important it is to him to stay in alignment. It helps keep me straight. It helps keep me humble, it helps to keep me focused. That’s helpful. It’s just good to have somebody who is my best friend, but who also can help me to stay on the right track and keeps me accountable.
That was the biggest step in me recognizing that I was angry at God. Once that happened, I started to listen, and I was just soaking up everything. I wanted him to constantly minister to me. I wanted to read the Bible with him constantly. We recently started reading Jesus Calling every day together, and we would talk about, “Okay, well, what did you take from that?” We talk about experiences that speak to us. I just started getting hungry for it.
Jamie: Personally, I find Jesus Calling so special. Sometimes we think that God and Christ is this imaginary person in the sky and we call on them when we need something like a genie in a bottle. But that’s not true. Jesus is always calling. He has a word for you 365 days every year. It doesn’t stop. He’s always there. He’s there when you need Him. He’s there just to say, “Hey, thank you.” He’s there.
“Jesus is always calling. He has a word for you 365 days every year. It doesn’t stop. He’s always there. He’s there when you need Him. He’s there just to say, “Hey, thank you.” – Jamie Long
To me, it’s my coffee for the morning. It’s something that I can get my day started with.
Cyntoia: Yeah, I agree. I love how we have the verses that she [Sarah Young] includes for every day.
Cyntoia: But then, you have a passage that just really makes it hit home.
Cyntoia: It really speaks to you on a personal level. And a lot of times it’s like, “Wow.”
Jamie: Yeah, like, “Oh, wow.”
Cyntoia: “I needed that. How did they know that today this is what I need?”
Cyntoia: That’s what I love about it.
Cyntoia: This is the June 30th entry of Jesus Calling, and it reads:
I am the Truth: the One who came to set you free. As the Holy Spirit controls your mind and actions more fully, you become free in Me. You are increasingly released to become the one I created you to be. This is a work that I do in you as you yield to My Spirit. I can do My best handiwork when you sit in the stillness of My Presence, focusing your entire being on Me. Let My thoughts burst freely upon your consciousness, stimulating abundant Life. I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. As you follow Me, I lead you along paths of newness: ways you have never imagined. Don’t worry about what is on the road up ahead. I want you to find your security in knowing Me, the One who died to set you free.
Cyntoia: This passage speaks to the fact that, again, Jesus is the One that can set you free. You know? At the end of the day, we can talk about the courtrooms. We can talk about lawyers. We can talk about judges. We can talk about everything here on earth. But to experience true freedom—whether in prison or out of prison—it comes through Him. And I think that’s important to remember for everyone who’s in prison, everyone who’s out of prison.
“To experience true freedom—whether in prison or out of prison—it comes through Him.” – Cyntoia Brown-Long
I know just about every prisoner has this book on their shelves, and I can remember—I know this isn’t the only passage that speaks along those lines—just how much it meant to me, being in prison and reading something like that.
That’s pretty much when things really started to change in my situation, because things had been stagnant. When we first met, I had lost my last appeal. My hope levels were like pssh.
Jamie: Like, nobody was saying her name around the time we met.
Cyntoia: There was like a little blip of time when the documentary had first aired, in 2011, when people were all advocating and things and then it kind of . . . not died, but it just went away. I was like, “Man, that’s not going [well] for me. I don’t have any support in terms of people trying to advocate for me. My last appeal has been denied, like, whatever.” But here was this man telling me, “No, you’re going to get out. God says you’re going to get out.” [I thought] You have to decide if you’re going to believe what this man is telling you, or if you’re going to believe God. I made that decision and I said, “You know what? I’m going to believe what God says.” All of a sudden, miraculously, my appeal was opened back up, which never happens. And just things started happening.
Jamie: When I wrote the letter, [there was] one other specific thing that the Lord told me to do. He told me to put the hashtag #FreeCyntoia and He told me to put the date of 2017. Eventually, that would become the hashtag that actually went viral.
Cyntoia: It’s so crazy because we didn’t even realize that. I kept all my letters that he ever wrote me, so I have the letter. People would always write letters and put hashtag this, hashtag that. #FreeYou. I just thought it was just something that people would put on their letters. I didn’t really think much of it. It’s so crazy how prophetic it was.
Jamie: As we go back and look at that letter, God was so intentional with what He was doing.
Cyntoia: And then probably five, six months later, the hashtag started out of nowhere. Just like, literally overnight, and it was like, “Whoa, what is this?”
Jamie: I didn’t put it online. So just to see it come from the letter and God showing that He knew what He was doing the whole time [is so neat]. We can’t pinpoint who started it today. It’s like, “Okay, well, let’s give God His credit. I give the glory to Him, because He started it. I can’t explain it.
Jamie: I don’t want to get credit for it. And I don’t want anyone else to take the credit for it. It’s, “Thank you, Father. You’re amazing.”
Serving a God of Second Chances
Narrator: Cyntoia’s story continued to elicit compassion from people around the world, and supporters rallied around her with the hashtag #FreeCyntoia. In January 2019, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam granted clemency to Cyntoia and she walked out of prison a free woman in August of 2019. Cyntoia reflects on the day she received the news of her clemency, and goes on to share about her new book, Free Cyntoia, and how she’s spending her days in freedom.
Cyntoia: I already knew in my spirit that it was coming. I don’t want to act like I’m too surprised, because God doesn’t surprise me. He always does what He says He’s gonna do, but this is really awesome.
When I issued the clemency statement I was like, “He’s gonna get His glory.” Yes, there were many people that came together [because] He put it on their hearts to stand up and to come together. But the point is, it was Him. And it’s because He is a God of second chances.
“He is a God of second chances.” – Cyntoia Brown-Long
I felt like that was really important to stress. The first thing that I had to say after—because I knew that people would be paying attention to it, and I felt like it was the perfect time to just let them know—[was] that this, what you’re witnessing right now, this miracle, it’s from nobody but Him.
My book, Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System, covers everything—and I mean absolutely everything—that I experienced over the fifteen years [I spent in prison].
I wanted to make sure that I included things about the juvenile system, the school system, even before I became involved as a juvenile, different things that led up to that because I wanted to paint a clear picture of how this happened. I wanted to include how I ended up trafficking. If you look at it, you think, Wow, you met this person in the space of two weeks and he had you do this?
I think that’s important. In order for us to accurately combat trafficking, we have to understand what makes girls vulnerable to it. We have to understand how you get from point A to point B. You’re not just kidnapped and put on the streets. It doesn’t just happen like that, it’s not always that clear cut. A lot of times, you know, it’s more subtle. It’s more manipulative, it’s more preying on the minds of people who are vulnerable in terms of being susceptible to manipulation, to lies, to thinking things are one way and not another. So I wanted to dive into that and everything that happened.
And then, of course, everything with the justice system: with being tried, with spending time in prison, actually taking the steps to rehabilitate yourself, because unfortunately, our prisons are not places of rehabilitation. They’re not places of redemption. I wanted to show what it’s like for someone who actually applies themselves, someone who fights to find that rehabilitation in a place that’s not conducive to it.
My husband and I have been working with our attorney on developing our non-profit organization, The Foundation for Justice, Freedom, and Mercy—or the JFam Foundation, as we call it. And we’d really like to try to get more stories out there from the people who experience the justice system, because we think their voice is important, and [it’s important to] really understand what’s going on in the system and really understand what we can do, where we can fit in to change. [We also want to help] people understand that there is a need for change, because I think that that’s the big area that’s lacking right now. A lot of people don’t think that the system is broken, they don’t think there’s flaws. We’d like to focus our work there.
Even though I was in a physical prison, I was in prison within prison. I was in a prison of anger. I was in a prison of my past, constantly letting that anxiety hold me captive. I’ve spent time in many prisons, and I was constantly trying to find a way out of it, constantly trying to find a solution. Oh, well, maybe if I exercise more, I won’t feel this anxiety. Maybe if I just keep my mouth shut, I won’t be angry and won’t have these outbursts.
“Even though I was in a physical prison, I was in prison within prison. I was in a prison of anger. I was in a prison of my past, constantly letting that anxiety hold me captive.” – Cyntoia Brown-Long
Nothing ever worked. It didn’t work until I surrendered. I was like, “God, I don’t have control over this. I can’t fix it, but I know that You can. And I’m just gonna let you do what you do with it. I’m just going to trust that I am a work in progress and you’re working on me. I’m just asking you to come into this situation and take over because I just can’t anymore.”
And it wasn’t immediate, but it definitely took place. He definitely can fix whatever it is that you [need help with].
Jamie: Trust Him.
Cyntoia: Yeah, God is no respecter of persons. What He did for me, He can do for you. He is in the prison-freeing business.
Jamie: He’s willing to do it.
Cyntoia: Oh yeah.
Jamie: He wants to do it.
Jamie: He’s waiting to do it.
Cyntoia: He did it for Joseph, He did it for Cyntoia, He can do it for you too.
“No matter what your prison is, you just have to submit to Him and cast all your cares on Him and let Him do what He does. That’s who He is. He’s God.” – Cyntoia Brown-Long
Narrator: You can read more about Cyntoia’s story in her new book, Free Cyntoia, available at your favorite book retailer today.
(The book, Free Cyntoia, contains graphic content of her experiences and could be disturbing for some readers.)
Stay tuned for our interview with interior designer Liz Marie Galvan after a brief message about a way to connect with Jesus Calling readers each week through prayer!
Did you know that Sarah Young, the author of Jesus Calling, prays for her readers each day? In that spirit, we want to extend the Jesus Calling prayer community out to you in a more personal way. Each Tuesday morning, you can dial in to the Jesus Calling Weekly Prayer Call, where the team from Jesus Calling and special guests will minister to us during a ten-minute call to reflect on that day’s passage from Jesus Calling, read scripture references, and pray together for each other and our world. Prayer call times are 8:00 a.m. Eastern, 7:00 a.m. Central, 6:00 a.m. Mountain, and 5:00 a.m. Pacific and are for U.S. only.
For more information on the Jesus Calling Weekly Prayer Call, or to submit prayer requests, please visit www.jesuscalling.com/prayer-call.
Narrator: Liz Marie Galvan is an interior designer and a blogger who, even as a little girl, aspired to create beautiful spaces by constantly decorating and rearranging her childhood room. After marrying her high school sweetheart and settling into life on a farm, Liz Marie studied design while her husband served in the military. Together they also dreamed of starting a family, only to be disappointed time and again with infertility issues. Liz Marie shares how she endured this dark season of her life by diving headfirst into things that brought her comfort and peace: her faith, and creating a warm and cozy home. Eventually her ideas around creating welcoming spaces turned into a popular blog, and then a book, called Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home.
Liz Marie Galvan: I am Liz Marie Galvan, blogger at lizmarieblog.com. [I’m an] interior designer, former military wife, co-owner of the Found Cottage, mama to Copeland, and most recently, an author.
I grew up in West Michigan, where we now live. I have two parents who are wonderful, and that I now consider best friends, and an older brother. We grew up in West Michigan, and we spent every weekend at our cottage that was on a tiny lake in northern Michigan. I have really good memories of going up there. Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a fascination—sometimes borderline obsession—with home decor, interior design, and all things that revolve around that.
I remember sitting in second grade while the teacher was talking, and I’m looking around the room, coming up with ideas of how I would change the room and how I would decorate the room, and I still remember this. I remember realizing I could use my imagination to come up with designs and picture how I would decorate spaces. I was the child that wasn’t watching cartoons. Instead, I was watching interior design shows like Christopher Lowell and Trading Spaces. That’s what I ran home from school to watch.
I started blogging when I was in elementary school, because I would take photos with my disposable camera of my bedroom set up different ways and I would go and get them developed, and I would put them all into this Creative Memories journal. That was my original blog. And my mom would get so mad at me for wasting my disposable film on taking photos of my bedroom different ways. But it worked out. It’s now my job.
Jose and I met in high school. We went to different high schools actually, and met through a mutual friend. I’ve always been kind of a dreamer and a thinker and just always doing things, and he was always there being my biggest cheerleader. It started as a really good friendship and just blossomed into, You are my person and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.
We got married when we were nineteen, we were really young. On the day after we got married, I moved down to North Carolina to be with him, where he was serving in the Marine Corps. And I started college. I was going to school for business, because I was unaware that they had an interior design program in the small town that we lived in.
After that, I started school at a local community college that offered interior design courses, which was really exciting, and it really just honed in my craft and I was able to meet some really awesome professors that showed me a new side of interior design.
My husband deployed a couple of times, but on his second deployment, I was always redoing furniture and redecorating our home and a friend came to me and said, “You should start a blog.” At that point, I honestly had never heard the word blog before. I had no idea what it was. I looked it up, and I found this entire community of interior designers and home decor enthusiasts that were all blogging. So I started a blog while he was deployed, and I started documenting painting furniture and all the projects I was doing. That’s what took me on the path to be the interior designer that I am now.
Now we’ve been married for twelve years, and we have been through a whole lot of things. But each thing has just made our marriage stronger, and that’s how it’s been from the beginning.
You Are Not Alone in Your Infertility Struggle
“You never think that you’re going to be the person struggling with infertility.” – Liz Marie Galvan
You never think that you’re going to be the person struggling with infertility. It was never on my radar, or a thought in my mind, that that would happen. We started about six years ago, maybe seven now, trying to grow our family. The first time, it took us about a year to get pregnant, and I never lost hope in that year.
We got pregnant, and a couple of months later, we had our first miscarriage. And it was the most devastating thing I had ever gone through. It was just something that I never could have imagined until I was in those shoes. Since then, we have lost nine babies, and it was a very difficult journey.
One day, it bubbled up to the surface, and I just had to shout it from the rooftops. I couldn’t go on the blog or on social media and pretend like everything was okay. I had to start sharing it.
I’m so thankful I did, because I was able to meet an entire community of people that were going through the same struggle [through my blog]. It was so helpful to be able to rally together and give each other hope and pray for each other.
“I was able to meet an entire community of people that were going through the same struggle [through my blog]. It was so helpful to be able to rally together and give each other hope and pray for each other.” – Liz Marie Galvan
It’s a very lonely feeling, infertility is. It’s a very isolating because not a lot of people are very open about it. Or, you’re surrounded by a lot of people that have children and they didn’t talk about how difficult it was to get there, so it can look really easy for people.
We lost our ninth baby, and I was starting to stumble a little bit and wonder why I was going through this. And I was looking to God, wanting to know why I was not able to bear a child. It was one of the darkest seasons of my life.
“I was starting to stumble a little bit and wonder why I was going through this. And I was looking to God, wanting to know why I was not able to bear a child. It was one of the darkest seasons of my life.” – Liz Marie Galvan
I never would have dreamed of writing a book in the season of life I was in when I wrote the book. The thing that I pride myself in is making every space at our home and other homes cozy. I wanted to write a book about cozy.
And looking back, writing the book was one of the darkest seasons of my life. I think that really inspired a lot for the book, because I was craving to be cozy in every aspect of my emotional and physical life. I was able to gather a hundred very approachable ways that you can make any space in your home cozy, from emotional ways to physical ways, including your five senses.
Looking back, it was the darkest year of my life, writing that book. But I think that it truly inspired a lot of the cozy elements of the book and I was able to draw from my craving to be cozy.
Finding Cozy, Quiet Time with Him
I think creating a cozy corner is honestly one of my favorite things to do. I share a lot about it on the blog and in the book. Creating a cozy corner can be anything from grabbing a chair or purchasing a chair, and grabbing a pillow and a blanket and a footrest, and designating a corner in your home that you can retreat to for morning devotions, or evening quiet time, or watching TV at night.
Just creating that cozy corner, it can be really simple. It doesn’t need to be anything beyond designating a corner for yourself if you live in an open concept home. You don’t need an entire den area or living room area, just retreat to that spot. Or if you like listening to music, buy a radio or something that you put in the corner to listen to music. Now we have Alexa, things like that that can play music, or you can listen to your devotions or a podcast in the corner. I think just designating a corner like that can make a huge difference.
Sometimes I think that we’re overwhelmed with more stuff, and creating a cozy corner can be [as simple as] cleaning that corner out and only having your favorite items in there so that you can feel at rest. You don’t feel like you’re looking at a to-do list. You’re looking at your quiet, peaceful time.
Jesus Callingis what made devotional and quiet time approachable for someone like me. I feel like my mind goes a mile a minute, and I think that a lot of people tend to overcomplicate doing devotionals or doing Bible studies, and Jesus Calling made it approachable for someone like me. And it very much got me into doing daily devotions, because it was approachable.
Being able to leave it out in my quiet corner, I see it every day. It’s a reminder that I need to sit and reflect and have that quiet time to do my devotions. And it’s approachable.
No matter what your circumstances may be, you can find Joy in My Presence. On some days, Joy is generously strewn along your life-path, glistening in the sunlight. On days like that, being content is as simple as breathing the next breath or taking the next step. Other days are overcast and gloomy; you feel the strain of the journey, which seems endless. Dull gray rocks greet your gaze and cause your feet to ache. Yet Joy is still attainable. Search for it as for hidden treasure. Begin by remembering that I have created this day; it is not a chance occurrence. Recall that I am present with you whether you sense My Presence or not. Then, start talking with Me about whatever is on your mind. Rejoice in the fact that I understand you perfectly and I know exactly what you are experiencing. As you continue communicating with Me, your mood will gradually lighten. Awareness of My marvelous Companionship can infuse Joy into the grayest day.
I probably should have read that every day of our infertility journey, because there were days when it was really easy to be positive and hopeful. And then there were other days when I couldn’t see the light at all. I couldn’t see past everything that we were going through. I was angry, and I was upset, and I was mad. It’s definitely a great one [devotional] for anyone going through anything during the waiting period of their life. That is definitely a great passage to read for anyone going through it infertility and miscarriage.
Finding a New Story Through Adoption
At the end of the summer last year—we host a market in Holland, Michigan every year called The Found Cottage Mercantile—while we were at that market that we run, my husband and I were separated because there was so much to do, so he was off doing something and I was off doing other things, meeting with people that come to the market.
During the day, separately we found out later, about fifty people came up to us who had either been adopted, who have adopted, who are [adopting], or some who were involved in adoption somehow. All day long, people were coming up to me, having me hold their adopted babies, and it was the strangest thing. We hadn’t talked about adopting, nothing.
And at the end of the day, Jose and I came together and we were like, “What happened? Why?” It was the strangest thing, we both looked up and we were like, “Okay, God, we’ll look into it. We get it.” It was thrown into our faces. It was the oddest thing, but we were like, “Fine, we’ll look into it.”
There’s so many different paths that you can take with adoption. We were like, “You know what, what if we just announced that we were looking into it and we could get help from people?”
We’ve really learned to embrace our blogging community and we know no more than other people. We’ve learned to really utilize that community. So we announced that we wanted to adopt. And a couple of months, or maybe a month later, we got a text from a birth mom who was pregnant and due in five weeks and hadn’t picked a family yet. I’m starting to get the chills. She was pregnant with a son. We met, and she asked us if we wanted to adopt her baby. That was Copeland. It’s so funny how it went from God shoving adoption on our path, to a couple of months later, we had our son named Copeland that we could have never dreamed or imagined having, especially that soon after everything happened.
Adoption definitely looks different for everybody in different situations, but adoption has truly opened my heart. From the second I was privileged to be in the room when he came into the world, and from the second I looked at him, I was like, That’s my son. It was just an instant bond with him. It was, This is my child. I think that adoption has taught me to give Cope back to God through the whole thing. When I look at his face now, it’s like, It was always you. You were always my son, this is why we were waiting. It was always for him.
“Adoption has opened my heart completely.” – Liz Marie Galvan
Adoption has opened my heart completely to wanting to share Cope with everybody and realizing that it’s a village of people, and I want him to be surrounded by these wonderful people.
I think a cozy home starts with the people in it, the gratefulness of the home that you live in and the people that are in your home that are choosing to visit you. That gratefulness, I think, is cozy. Providing a space for people to come into, loving those people, welcoming them in with a warm hug. That’s a cozy home.
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we talk with actor and producer Rita Wilson. Rita has a host of creative talents to her name, and now she’s added singer/songwriter to the list. When we caught up with Rita at CMA Fest in Nashville, she told us why it’s never too late to chase a new dream.
Rita Wilson: What are we all blessed with? What are our gifts? Even if you think you have a gift for something, but you’re not quite sure, you should check it out, because maybe you do. That’s something worthwhile and worthy and might be affecting and touching somebody else. So go for it.
Narrator: Do you love hearing these stories of faith weekly from people like you whose lives have been changed by a closer walk with God? Then be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you like what you’re hearing, leave us a review so that we can reach others with these inspirational stories. And, you can also see these interviews on video as part of our original web series with a new interview premiering every other Sunday on Facebook Live. Find previously broadcasted interviews on our Youtube channel, on IGTV, or on www.jesuscalling.com/media/video.