“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
You probably heard this line from the 90’s movie, Forrest Gump. It’s a story of a boy who was intellectually challenged and raised by a single mom. His mother brought him up the best way she knows how despite the personal struggles she had to face. The scriptwriter of the well-received movie hit the nail on the head with that statement.
Our life is our box of chocolates. When everything is going well with us, it’s as if we are savoring our favorite chocolate flavor. We are enjoying life to the fullest. But there are seasons when we don’t get the flavor we want. We are left with bitter and unappealing chocolates. These are times when we face broken relationships that tear our families apart, sickness that tests our faith and financial troubles that cripple us.
When this box of chocolate is handed over to us, we get overwhelmed and ask ourselves, what should we do now? We can’t spit out the bitter-tasting parts of our lives. We have to swallow it and swallow hard.
How are we to respond when the man we loved for many years decides to leave us and our children for another woman? Do we fight for our marriage and mend our relationships?
How do we respond when we are the peak of our career then after routine medical check up, the doctor says, “I’m sorry. It’s cancer.” Do we throw a fist at God and blame him for allowing a debilitating disease take control of our bodies?
How do we respond when our financial situation drowns us? Do we get enslaved by work and earning money compromising time for family just to get out of the financial trouble?
In her book, “What Women Can Do When Life Falls Apart”, Lusia Reyes-Ampil shares stories of women who have been through some of the toughest times in their lives. Luisa painstakingly gathered more than 30 stories of real women, her friends and family have bravely shared their experiences on how they have lived through the dark days in their lives. The personal stories in this 174-page book is grouped accordingly:
Part 1: Facing the Woman in the Mirror
Part 2: Struggling with Health Concerns
Part 3: Trying to be Strong for Someone Else
Part 4: Coping with the Pain of Broken Relationships
Part 5: Experiencing Life’s Losses.
At the end of each story, Luisa gives appropriate action steps women can do when faced with similar situations. She reminds women not to be overwhelmed but to pause, seek counsel and turn to God’s Word for wisdom and comfort. She aptly closes the story with a verse from the Bible.
One of the stories that caught my attention was Luisa’s personal story. She and her husband separated and she needed to care for herself and her children. As a result, she resorted to working hard until she became the woman to beat in the industry she was in. She also focused on improving her physical appearance through expensive beauty treatments and gym membership. Despite her new image and a promising career, she shares that she still felt empty inside. All the things she did to make her feel good really were of no value until she encountered Jesus Christ in a trip to the US. After seeing who she is in God’s eyes, her life’s focus changed. She was eager to face her new life with Christ walking before and beside her.
Another story that brought tears to my eyes was the story of Jocelyn. She is working mother of two young children. She and her husband were unaware that their youngest child that time had a genetic medical condition which caused an enlargement of the heart. As a helicopter transported their son to a hospital for further testing, the child suffered a cardiac arrest and died. Jocelyn was devastated. She felt guilty for not spending more time with her children and felt distant from God for allowing such a tragic thing to happen to their 9-month old baby. She wanted the people to leave her alone. But we see God’s awesome work in her Jocelyn’s life. She was surprised when she found out after the funeral, that she was carrying another baby in her womb. The new baby helped her go through the pain of losing a child. As a result, she and her husband became more vigilant in having their other children go through medical checkups regularly as they carry a gene that causes enlargement of the heart.
Luisa concludes with truths she has learned from the book “The Grace Walk Experience” by Steve McVey, which is a fitting end to her book:
“First, we need to go through brokenness. You and I experience brokenness because we might have been sitting on our high horses, and we needed to lose our confidence and reliance on ourselves…Or perhaps you are banking right now on your physical beauty or the money you have to carry you through. I did all that and accomplished nothing! Now would it make more sense if we turn over our daily burdens to the One who is our Creator and knows us inside and out?… Second, we are not exempt from pain…God is not the cause of our troubles. In fact, He loves us so much that He gave us free will to make our own decisions. But we sometimes choose to disobey him… Third, we don’t have to keep crying over the pain if we want to heal…This is the best thing we can do so we don’t ever have to be alone in life as we begin picking up the broken pieces of our lives. The door to brokenness leads to Jesus Christ, our Savior. He is extending His hand to offer you comfort and peace and wisdom and everything else you need to go through your struggle and experience victory.”
After seeing the title at the OMF book launch, I knew in my heart who among my inner circle needs this book the most. After reading through all the different experiences of those brave women, my initial thought was affirmed. Someone needs to be encouraged by this book. It’s not easy to fight personal battles alone but I know that the people (my friends included) who will read this book will be encouraged knowing that other women have been there and came out not only victorious but have a renewed relationship with God.
There are more stories in the book that would grip your hearts, make you think twice about your current situation, and encourage you to hang on and hold on to God in all circumstances. I love these verses in James in The Living Bible translation:
2 Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, 3 for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.
5 If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him; he will not resent it. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to tell you, for a doubtful mind will be as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind; 7-8 and every decision you then make will be uncertain, as you turn first this way and then that. If you don’t ask with faith, don’t expect the Lord to give you any solid answer. James 1:2-8
If you have dear friends or family whom you know are going through tough times or maybe you are undergoing fierce trials, consider this book as a gift to your friends or yourself this Christmas. Pray fervently that as God uses you, He will also use this book to give hope to those who feel their lives are falling apart. Get a copy of “What Women Can Do When Life Falls Apart” by Luisa Reyes-Ampil for only 225 pesos at any OMF bookstore nationwide.
**Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from OMF Literature Inc. as part of their Book Worm Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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