12 Pearls of Christmas Day 3 ~ With Sandy Ralya

Welcome to
the 12 Pearls of

Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom" from some of today's most beloved writer's
(Tricia Goyer, Babbie Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella
Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor
shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of
the year.

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Where is Comfort and Joy Found?

By Sandy Ralya

The year 2006 ushered unwelcome emotions into my life. My husband was unhappy in
his job, two of my grown children were making poor choices, my mother-in-law was
showing signs of Alzheimer’s, extended-family issues were surfacing, and I was writing a
book. Things only got worse. Much worse.

Early in 2007, I was asked to represent the mentoring ministry for wives I founded,
Beautiful Womanhood, and lead a women’s conference in Uganda, Africa. My husband
wasn’t sure if traveling to Africa was a good idea, so we committed it to prayer. While
we were listening for an answer, I sensed God asking me to fast from spending, except
for groceries, for thirty days. Sometimes you know that you’ve heard God’s voice
because you’d never have come up with those words on your own. This was one of those
times. I’d never heard of a fast from spending. Tom needed no convincing that a fast
from spending came directly from the mouth of God. He still gets excited just thinking
about it!

During the fast, it became clear I had used spending as a way to gain a comfort fix.
When I was spending money, I felt carefree and lighthearted. Instead of dwelling on the
unpleasantness in my life, I was thinking of my purchases and how they would bring me
pleasure. Not until I stopped spending did I realize how short-lived the fix really was.
During the fast, when I felt the urge to spend—to anesthetize my pain—I pictured myself
running into the arms of Jesus, the Great Comforter. Oh, what comfort I received!

One night, I told good friends my experience of gaining comfort through the power of
the Holy Spirit rather than money. I exclaimed that I had never felt so comforted. One
friend then told us about a dream he’d had shortly after hearing about the invitation from
Uganda. After the dream, he had awoken and recorded the following thoughts:

“. . . this is for Sandy. Christ’s redemption of women is beautiful. Beautiful Womanhood
is a result of redemptive wholeness. The visuals the ministry uses on the books, etc.,
are like a piece of beautifully veneered furniture. There is something going on with
the ministry to the brokenness of abused women. In Uganda, there are hurting, abused
women, and something is connecting their need and Beautiful Womanhood. Though
there is nothing wrong with veneer, it is only the topping—the covering, and without
good structure it is shallow and will not hold up. It is time to add a new depth to the

Then these verses came to my friend’s mind:

All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every
mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can
comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort
God has given us. You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will
shower us with his comfort through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NL

When my friend was finished sharing, everyone in the room broke down in tears, praising

God for His work in my life. I’d learned to listen and God had spoken. I’d obeyed, and
He’d acted. When He acted, I was changed.

Needless to say, I packed my bags and experienced some of the best days of my life in
Uganda—offering God’s comfort to His troubled women.

Sandy and her husband Tom have been married since 1980 and live near
Grand Rapids, Michigan. They have three adult children and a growing number
of grandchildren. When not writing and speaking, Sandy enjoys shopping at yard
sales for vintage clothing, cooking, travelling, and drinking really good coffee
(black is best) with her husband. For more information, contact Sandy at s
andy@beautifulwomanhood.com. Subscribe to Sandy’s blog at www.beautifulwomanhood.com/blog. Find Sandy on Facebook at Beautiful
Womanhood. Follow Sandy on Twitter @MentoringWives.

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