{Story3} A Journey of Forgiveness

Through the month of March, we’re going to do a series called “This is my story, this is my song.” There are personal journeys of hope, victory, courage, and redemption that you need to hear!

Holly and I (Heather) are thrilled to share this next story with you! We’ve known Julie for a long time. She was our pastor’s wife for a good part of our growing up years. We even watched her little girls on occasion. {Now I’m feeling old!}

When we began to line up who would share during our “story” series, I couldn’t get Julie off my mind. Her example of forgiving like Christ has wrecked me over the years. Our family has experienced her genuine love and grace first hand. And for us, to have her share, is one of those full-circle moments.

We hadn’t seen Julie for years when the three of us connected once again as we taught at the same women’s retreat. {By the way, if you are looking for a speaker, she’s your gal! Her contact info will be at the bottom.}

This post is beautiful through and through. There is SO much more to her story. So much more! She’s in the process of writing a book and we’ll let you know when it’s out! YAY! But for today, I’ve asked her to share with us what she’s learned about forgiveness…



by Julie Davenport

What do I know about forgiveness?

Enough to know that it isn’t easy. Enough to know that forgiveness is a process – one that in many ways, I go through each day.

And I know what it’s not.

Like many, I was taught the importance of forgiveness. It was a principle that wasn’t all that difficult, as long as I was in the loving home of my childhood. But as an adult, I have had more reasons to forgive and more years to face its challenges.

When it comes to forgiveness, I’ve lived it, accepted it, given it, and possibly messed it up.  Let’s just say I bought the t-shirt and could write the book. 

It has been more than 30 years ago, but I will never forget the feeling I had when I first realized forgiveness would be a constant presence in my life. I’ll never forget where I was sitting. The way the air felt.

The feeling that the bottom had just dropped out of my world.

The knowledge that things would never be the same.stouts

My husband, the love of my life, the man that I saved myself for, the only man that I had ever known in the Biblical sense, had just told me he had “known” another woman. Not just any woman. A close friend.

He cried. He was SO sorry. He begged my forgiveness.

God did a healing in our marriage.

I did not believe in divorce. I did, however, believe in forgiveness. He promised it would never happen again. He told me that if I really had forgiven him, I would not talk about it or bring it up.

Yet it did happen again a few years later. He begged my forgiveness again. By then, we had a precious baby girl. We were pastors of a large church. He begged me not to tell.

We went to six months of marriage counseling which resulted in a promise from him that it would never happen again—and a promise from me that if it did, I would leave. We stayed together and had another precious baby girl.

God did another healing in our marriage.

Two years later, he confessed to me that he had been involved in three additional affairs over the period of one year. Once again he begged my forgiveness and wanted to stay together and work it out.

This was more than 20 years ago, but I will never forget the feeling I had. Where I was sitting. The way the air felt.

Something inside me broke. I was done. Done covering up. Done having my heart torn to shreds.

We went through a difficult divorce and years of drama and pain.

So you may ask, what do I know about forgiveness?

{1}    I know that forgiveness is not sweeping issues under the carpet.  Secrets cause sickness.  If not dealt with and brought out into the light, they will continue and grow in the dark.

{2}    I know that forgiveness is not feeling like someone owes you or needs to pay you back for how they have wronged you. For years I said that I had forgiven, I gave testimonies about how I had forgiven. However, deep in my heart I was still waiting for the day that my husband would pay me back for all he had stolen from my life.  I know now that it is not until we release a person from “owing us” that we can completely forgive them.

{3}    I know that the main reason we need to forgive is because Christ forgave us.  Forgiveness does not make any sense unless you first realize that you are a forgiven person.

We cannot balance the scales.  Forgiveness means the scales are forever out of balance.  It means that one person is always going to owe a debt.  It’s only when we can forgive the debt that we can heal.

It was only six years ago, when we had both remarried and re-established our lives, when a deep healing came.

As in the other life-altering moments, I will never forget the feeling I had.  Where I was sitting. The way the air felt.

I was sitting on the front porch with my first husband, after he had visited our daughters.  I shared with him that even though I had made the intellectual decision to forgive him years ago, that it was only recently that I felt I had emotionally forgiven him.

I told him he did not owe me anything. I wanted him to know that I released him to be happy and free in his life.  He in turn asked my forgiveness, and this time there was such a feeling of peace. I am so grateful that the Lord allowed us to have this conversation, because he tragically died two months later.

What do I know about forgiveness?

I know that forgiveness allows you to put the pain and hurt behind you, release it, and move beyond the hurt and heal. With all that we have been forgiven in our own lives, how can we not offer forgiveness, love and mercy to those around us?

Julie and her family today!

Julie and her family today!

Publishing rights retained by Julie Davenport.  Permission given for one time publication on Dancing On My Ashes blog (March 2014). This article is not to be republished in any other format without express permission.

To contact Julie for speaking engagements (and you’ll want to… she’s witty and kind and deep and funny and warm and all about Jesus):

Facebook:  Julie Perkin Stout Davenport
If you are new to our blog, follow us by clicking the “follow” button at the top of the screen! Read up on our story of healing: here! And read why we wrote Dancing On My Ashes.
If you want to know more about who God is go here!
I hope you’ve been encouraged today!

{Story2} Burying your baby

Through the month of March, we’re going to do a series called “This is my story, this is my song.” There are personal journeys of hope, victory, courage, and redemption that you need to hear!

The story you are about to read is incredible! I (Heather) met Sarah a little over a year ago. You know how sometimes you meet someone and your friendship takes off? That’s what happened with us—a deep friendship emerged so effortlessly. I have no doubt, God had our paths collide. [Not only are we friends, but we also have a side business together called Story Designs {by S & H} – after you’re done reading… check out the pretty things we make!]

I can’t wait for you to hear from her! I’ve been praying for THIS MOMENT since she first shared some of her journey with me over coffee! Our kids were off destroying the play room as we were wiping tears and smiling over God’s fierce love for us. I KNOW this is going to bless your socks off!

I’m happy to introduce you to Sarah…


by Sarah Lombardi

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him,
How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus!
O for Grace to trust him more

I have been singing that song all my life, but it wasn’t until this year that I began to understand the joy and fullness of putting my complete trust in Him.

Five years ago, on March 29th, I went into labor with our second child. We were very excited about welcoming our baby BOY into the family! Earlier that week the doctor told me it could be any day. I was 37 weeks and full term! We gathered our bags and headed to the hospital. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of fear as we drove in. I prayed silently for peace, and as I prayed, it was like I already knew.

Shortly after we arrived, the nurses got me in a room and started hooking me up to monitors. The nurse could see that I was having close contractions, but she was having trouble finding baby. I continued to pray. After what felt like an eternity, she called in the doctor to do an ultrasound. The on-call doctor wheeled in the sonogram machine and placed it right on Miles. It was very clear—Miles had his hands raised and was still. No heartbeat. Just still. The doctor said, “You see this,” pointing to the screen. “This is his heart and its not beating.”

My world… our world… came crashing down.

Tears came.

All I could do was weep.

My husband and I held one another and wept.

After my surgery they brought in Miles Daniel for me to hold. He was in a bassinet, wrapped in a blanket. They had dressed him in a little hat and a zip-up sleeper. He was perfect. Just beautiful. Miles weighed exactly 4 pounds, so he was little, but oh so perfect. I held him and cried. I just starred at him “asleep” in my arms. I took in every detail because I didn’t want this moment to end.

Baby Miles

Baby Miles

After the funeral and all the family had gone, it seemed like life had to move forward… but I wasn’t ready to move forward. I prayed day and night, “Lord give me faith to trust this is Your will in my life.”

It’s been a process. It’s been a fight. Grieving takes a toll on you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But as seconds turned into hours, and hours to days, and days to months, and now months to years; through it all the Lord has shown me (and continues to show me) how much HE loves US.

Every step of this journey He. Has. Loved. ME!

HE loved this broken momma who had lost ALL of her joy in the Lord.

HE loved this sad wife who became a negative and selfish spouse.

HE loved me and extravagantly poured His love into my heart—healing me bit by bit.

He showed His love through our family, our church family and friends. He took a mother with a broken heart and made her into a mother with a prayerful heart. The Lord has given me a compassion for the hurting, the weary, and the brokenhearted. He has mended our marriage—taking two hurting, selfish people, and showing us how to live and thrive inside a Christ centered, loving marriage.

These five years have been full of tears, but we have begun to see His beauty rising from our ashes. He brought JOY back into my heart and a song:

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take him at his word
Just to rest upon his promise
Just to know thus saith The Lord

I realized how sweet it truly is to put my trust in Him and to believe what His Word tells me. Not just to hear it—but BELIEVE it! Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.’” I began to put my trust back in Him—my Lord, my Savior! I gave Him my whole heart and my life that was broken and bruised… He has healed it!

Exactly two years after we lost Miles Daniel, the Lord blessed us with our third child—our son, Jones Abraham. Jones was born premature at barely 31 weeks. The Lord knew. He knit him together and knew exactly the day he would be born.

Sarah and Baby Jones

Sarah and Baby Jones

I held my precious, Jones, on the EXACT day we lost Miles, two years earlier. “The Lord gives and takes away…” {Job 1:21}

After naming Jones we found out the meaning of his name: “Jehovah has shown favor.”

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. {Psalm 30:5}

We have questions without answers. There are days that I imagine the five of us sitting around the dinner table. I wonder what Miles’s laugh would sound like or how his arms would feel around me. There will be a day that I experience his giggles and his hugs, but until then, the arms of Christ envelop me. His arms are big enough, strong enough, and firm enough to strengthen this momma for the road ahead. He alone holds me together.

1794713_4065093322782_25365347_n 1800295_4065092842770_30499153_n

On this road of suffering, I have learned to trust Him. Simply trust. His ways are greater and far better for me! It has been five years and THIS week we will place a stone at Miles’s grave. This year has been a year of freedom and of letting go of heartache. I am ready. WE are ready! “Lord, I trust you!” This stone isn’t for Miles—he is with our Savior! I imagine him dancing along the shore, hand in hand with Jesus! This stone is for mom and dad. We are placing this stone as a reminder: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning!

I will forever sing:

I’m so glad I learned to trust thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, friend.
And I know that thou art with me
Will be with me to the end.


If you are new to this blog, check out our STORY and how God taught us about rising from our ashes—not to merely survive, but to dance!

Go here to learn more about the book: Dancing On My Ashes.

If you have questions about God or how you can come to know Him—go here!

Feel free to subscribe to our blog, we’d love for you to stop by again and again!

{Story1} What God said to me about my eating disorder

Through the month of March, we’re going to do a series called “This is my story, this is my song.” There’s personal journeys of hope, victory, courage, and redemption that you need to hear! I know, I know, it’s still a few days before March, but I can’t wait to get started!

I (Heather) want to introduce you to someone that’s incredibly precious to me. I met her when she was 15 years old (11 years ago!) I had been invited to her church for the weekend, to be among various teachers with the purpose of pouring into a group of teen girls for 3 days. I instantly was drawn to this young lady. We stayed in contact and as the years grew, so did our friendship. It began as mentor/mentee and now I call her friend. Jess loves Jesus. There’s no doubt about that. I’ve always loved seeing Him through her eyes, but for so long these glimpses of beauty would flicker in and out as I could see a sadness roll in. She was trapped. She wanted to be strong enough to kick her battle with an eating disorder. But she wasn’t.

I’m excited for her to share some of her journey with you today. I’ve been on the sideline, as I’ve witnessed this war raging to ruin her. I’ve watched as she’s blossomed into a strong, independent, expressive, and brave young woman. AND… she’s a rapper! {After you read her story, watch her blow up the mic, yo!}

There’s so much I want to say, but I’m going to let HER tell you. So, without further ado… I introduce you to Jess Guemmer. This is Jess’ story of victory.


by Jess Guemmer

On February 25, 2014, I celebrated one full year of freedom from an eating disorder. I can honestly say I never thought those words would come out of my mouth.

I am a Christian. Christians aren’t supposed to struggle with eating disorders are they? Isn’t that saying that He isn’t enough? That He isn’t all satisfying?

But the truth is, bondage is all I’ve known. For ten years, an eating disorder was my best friend. It was my fix, keeping my inner pain at a minimum. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but I didn’t feel joy at all… I couldn’t—but I also didn’t hurt. The trade-off felt worth it. I was convinced that to walk a joy-less life was far better than dealing with the pain that was at the core of my soul.

After my husband and I moved to St. Louis in May 2012, we quickly got involved with a local church. We made friends: knowing others and being known. Those we were doing life with, began inquiring about us… about me, and it was soon brought to my attention that the way I had been living and wrestling, wasn’t normal, and I needed to seek help. After much resistance and the swallowing of my pride, I finally began therapy, initially treating my eating disorder.

I spent the next nine months doing some intense counseling, much of it geared towards my issues with food and addiction to exercise. However, as my time in counseling progressed, God revealed to me that this eating disorder wasn’t really the root issue. Like an onion, He began peeling back the layers of my heart, working towards the core of my self-protection and self-harm. It was a painful, but a healing journey as I walked through the darkest times of my life, to date.

I remember sitting in the middle of worship on February 20 of last year still wrestling with the Lord. Lots of healing had begun, but my ambivalence with God was still present. I had struggled for nine years to see the victory and freedom that God’s Word promised. I had spent countless days, weeks, and months trying to fix my issues, only to come out angrier on the other side. And in that moment, the word “surrender” flooded my mind.


It seemed so cliché to me. I was a Christ-following-Bible-study-leading gal, who had shared the Gospel with others, who knew Scripture more than the average person! I knew all of the right answers, dang it! And… the fact was, I wanted to surrender. I just didn’t know how.

I told Him, “God, I want to surrender this, but what if I say that I surrender and nothing changes? Then what? I don’t trust You will come through.”

And God,

in His great love for me,

so gently welcomed my doubts and my lack of faith.

His voice, so powerfully responded, “Jess, You’re not scared to say you surrender because you don’t think I’ll come through; you’re scared to say you surrender because you know I WILL come through and then you will have to give up what you’ve been holding on to for so long.”

I felt like the breath was taken out of me in that moment. I felt frozen—found out. But His words ushered in such clarity. My hang-up wasn’t my mistrust in Jesus, it was my fear to un-clamp my hands and let go of my “friend,” my comfort, the pain-minimizer, the control… my sin.


Three days later, I was sitting on the shore of a beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The vastness of the Atlantic Ocean and the noise of the water crashing into the shore caused my heart to race, as this euphoric feeling washed over me. The same dialogue began with the Lord about surrender. I echoed my same objections and doubts, and God, in His patience and persistence, responded yet again to His child.

I had a visual come to mind that day. I believe, surrender is a picture of one’s hands held out, offering everything to Jesus. But I had been living with one hand held out to Jesus, wanting to follow Him, and one hand held behind my back, still wanting to do life my way.

That day, on February 25, 2013, I sat on the shore of the Atlantic, held both of my hands out to Jesus and said, “Here I am.” I let the waves wash over me and asked God to make me new. I remember saying that I had no idea what my life would look like from that moment on, but I wasn’t going to hang on to my false sense of control anymore. I wanted God to take the reigns… and He did.


One year later, I celebrated with my closest friends and my husband. God has done as He promised.

He reached into the pit and pulled me out.

He has loosened the grip that I had with an eating disorder.

He is redefining my perception of myself.

He is giving me balance and victory with food and exercise.

And… He has given me life.

I stand today as a conqueror. I still fight the battle, but my trust in Jesus has grown. I am no longer a slave to sin!

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:1-3

life after a women’s retreat


By Heather Spring {Gilion}

A weekend full of estrogen, chocolate, giggles, tears, hugs, new and old friends, a themed t-shirt, songs in the female key, and—the centerpiece—JESUS! Is that a piece of Heaven on Earth? All the ladies say, “Whoop whoop!”

On Friday, we travel to the mountaintop to meet with God—pressing our ear upon His chest, conversing with Him about it all (the good, the bad, the ugly), pouring out our love and then letting Him fill us up with more of Him!  Ahhhh… He.is.more.than.enough! On Saturday evening, we travel back down the mountain. We return home, swing open the door all the while singing at the top of our lungs, “*THIS GIRL IS ON FIIIIRRRRE!” {*google Alicia Keys if you aren’t familiar with this song, you’ll be singing this chorus for the rest of the day… you’re welcome} And in true Moses-style, your face beams so brightly that your family, friends and coworkers have asked you to “Cover that thang up!” I love sporting the you-can’t-handle-this glow! He rubs off on us!

• I’m sure the things He put His finger on in your life, have all been neatly resolved.

• You’ve said, “Yes” to Him and haven’t wavered in your obedience.

• You’ve confessed and reconciled with those you’ve wronged.

• You’ve continued to dive into His Word, and every so often, grab the thing and pressing it against your chest declaring, “Oh, I LOVE THIS BOOK!”

• You’ve been the kindest you’ve ever been.

• Moms, you haven’t raised your voice once!

• Wives, you’ve served with a smile: making his favorite food while washing his underwear.

• You’ve been in constant conversation with God.

• You’ve given to the poor.

• You’ve loved on every stranger.

• You’ve cooked a meal for a neighbor.

• You’ve signed up for a mission trip.

• You’ve achieved having a Mary heart in a Martha world! {Shout out to Joanna Weaver. You rock!}

• You’ve done it all without complaint or an entitlement mentality.

Right? No?!?!


Well, then you’re human. Congratulations!

But… good news—He’s NOT! Our Hope anchors in His strength alone, not in ours.

We surrender.
We surrender again.
And again.
“I don’t measure up!” He does.
“I wish I could…” He can.
“I want to be perfect for Him!” It’s not about perfection, it’s about progression, a friendship that deepens and grows as He grows fruit in us.


Speaking of fruit… Remember Eve?

She was a masterpiece. The Master’s piece. Created last like a lovely bow that ties things together. She was the crown jewel in the King’s headdress. Lovely. Made to display attributes of God unique to the female kind. Unashamed in her nakedness, flesh of Adam’s flesh, walking along in the Garden of Eden with her Creator God by her side. Did they laugh? Did she see herself in His eyes? Did she gaze at her God in abandoned admiration? Did she feel comfortable to take His hand? Did she feel such security in their relationship that as He spoke she ran her fingers upon the tops of His hands—maybe examining His knuckles? Did she open His hands and trace the lines in His palms as she thought about how He used these very hands to make she and Adam out of dust? Did she catch herself staring at His lips as she pictured Him speaking everything into existence with simple words?

She must have been so full. Complete. Satisfied. He was enough. Right?

But before she knew it, she was engaging a conversation with a snake! What was it about his words that left her entertaining a lie?

I picture Eve sinning on a Monday. I don’t know, I just think about how sweet my Sundays are—Sondays. I know what you’re thinking—EVERY day can be a Sonday! You’re right. But there is something sweet about raising a unified voice with a group of hungry and thirsty people declaring to their God that He is enough. Singing melodies—truth on their lips and love flowing from their hearts. The Word of God open and spoken over a room full of eager listeners. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” {Matt 18:20}

But I know sometimes it’s on my Mondays that the whiplash occurs—my faith is put to the test. The very words I was pouring out over my King become stabbing reminders of how I don’t measure up to the desires of my heart. I engage in conversations with the snake. I eat my apple. I wrestle with my flesh. I follow my own desires and so easily forget the good news of the gospel.

Here’s some good news for you today:

1. He’s still enough. Whether we live like He is or not. He is.

2. Where we are weak (and we will be), His grace is sufficient and His power comes to the forefront! The “snake” tempts us to disbelieve, to follow our own hearts, to push against the freedom that Christ came to bring us. Satan attempts to get you down, but in fact let him push you down… down to your knees. {2 Cor 12:9}

3. Our God is faithful {period}… {EXCLAMATION POINT}! Even when we are unfaithful, He’s still faithful. He can’t ever be something He’s not and His goodness doesn’t depend on ours. {2 Tim 2:13} And His mercies are new every stinkin’ morning… ahem… every glorious morning! {Lam 3:22-23}

4. This kind of piggybacks #3, but I think it deserves it’s own number: “He who calls you is faithful; HE will surely do it.” {I Thess 5:24} I’ve always loved this verse because it reminds me He’s doing the doing in me. He’s got this! He’s got me! He’s got you! The things that He’s called you to, He will do… just keep saying YES to Him.

5. Whatever He’s revealed to you on the mountaintop, cherish it in your heart, let it ruminate in your mind and settle into your belief system. And put a little accountability in action by sharing it with another Jesus-lovin’ *frister. {friend + sister}

You know, I can easily cast my imaginary stones at Eve, but she and I will be good friends in Heaven. After she wiped the apple juice from her chin, I bet she was a grieving mess. She messed up. She lost a lot on that day. But even then, grace had already been set in motion. God has crazy love for us… at times this makes me think He must be crazy. But it’s this love that won’t leave us alone. It’s His love that beckons us to the top of the mountain for sweet moments with Him and it’s the same love that calls us down again.

Spend time with Him today. Maybe your face will be a little brighter, your heart a little fuller, and your load a little lighter. May you keep singing at the top of your lungs, “THIS GIRL IS ON FIIIIIRRE!”


I love this picture Posy Creative captured of my sister Heidi! She IS on fire… on fire for her God. OUR GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE! Burn baby, burn.

{Photos in this blog were taken at Inspire’s, the Heart Retreat, held at the Winderemere Conference Center, Roach, Missouri. Fab photos taken by the lovely and talented Holly Hyde of Posy Creative!}