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Hope among the Mountains of Virginia

  •      “Resist him (the devil), standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5: 9-11

          I have always made it a golden rule to never discuss politics or religion, however; this past week at work this rule was broken. A few of us were gathered together discussing each other’s religious thoughts and beliefs and at the end of the discussion I believe we all had the consensus that the most important thing was that Jesus was our Lord and Savior and with this, I am most grateful. I am far from perfect and in my life’s journey, I have made a great many mistakes and believed I could never be happy because of my bad choices. It is the enemy’s goal to ‘prowl around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8). I allowed the enemy for many years to do this very thing and he did devour me by completely taking my Joy and Hope from me.

         I am not who I used to be and I can only thank Jesus for what he has done in my life. There came a time I gave up on myself along with everyone around me but through the struggle God placed me in a temporary employment position of only three months, in that short three months he began to restore my hope in humanity and in myself. In a little coal community called Appalachia, nestled in the mountains of Southwest Virginia with a population of around 1,800, I found a family that Peter speaks of in this scripture. There were just five of us ladies, all believers but each had our struggles. We each had a mission and that was to close the doors for the last time of Westmoreland Coal Company. It was the office for the retirees where some had given their life working in the dark to provide for their families. As we quickly got to know each other and some of the retirees, we cried, we laughed and we even danced together. The day the job ended I walked away a better person because of these special ladies, the retirees and the community. So after my suffering, God began to restore me and make me stronger, firm and steadfast in my faith and trust in him.

          Today, God has once again placed me within a family in which I am truly blessed. Just up the road in the Virginia Mountains as you enter the town limits, it states “Welcome to ‘The Pound’ Virginia”, the organization is much larger and I am still getting to know everyone as it has only been a year since I have been there. We all have different views and personalities but together we are family. Although I do not know everyone, there is no doubt if I needed anything they would be there. Just like the special place in Appalachia, I am a newcomer but I have witnessed my new family come together for each other when any of its members are in need. While tucked away in the shadows of learning my new job and just trying to belong, I see things some may not. I see my new family come together whether it is to protect, to cry, or to laugh, but regardless; I know in my heart God placed me there to continue his restoration of my Joy and Hope.

         I truly believe God will allow us to hit bottom to bring us back up to see and feel things in a renewed light. In my darkest hours, I never thought it was possible I could be where I am today. Through prayer and preservation, God will restore your Hope and Joy. You just have to seek it; everywhere he places you or where you are right now, God will use the circumstances to help get you where you need to be; you just have follow his way to get there.

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Richard Mondello
Richard Mondello I have made a great many mistakes and bad choices too. I also believed joy and happyness have eluded me because of this and then my wife was taken from my life. It has crushed me,my hopes and dreams for her and I. This weekend was tough to bear not only because of another Resurrection Day without my wife but also it would've been our 28th anniversary together. I put flowers on her grave yesterday and the graves of my mother and father in law,my wife's grand parents and my father's. It was a rainy and dreary day which didn't set a happy tone for the day either. One thing that God has helped me realize is that though they be absent from the body,they are present with the Lord. Even though knowing this eases the pain,it still hurts. But,I'm thankful that I'm not where I was or the person that I used to be. Though I faulter at times,I trust that God will some day restore hope and joy in my life and that He continues to work in me. Any prayers for me would be greatly appreciated. Also,I'm glad that God has been helping you with what you bear in your own life and thanks for your testimony. Thanks and God bless.
March 28, 2016