Guest Post From Mary Elizabeth Stone

 (The Stone Family)
I feel incredibly honored and excited to be a guest poster this week! I know many of you have prayed for our family and the long journey we have been through with our twin sons over the past 17 months (www.caringbridge.org/visit/stonetwins). Thank you for your prayers and faithfulness.
Recently, the Lord has brought me to Isaiah 61.  Isn’t it amazing how the Word is alive and active, sharper than a double-edge sword, new every morning?  Whether we are reading passages that were written 3000 or 2000 years ago, Jesus meets us where we are in His holy and inspired Word. 
I often wonder why the Bible can feel so heavy and so difficult to simply pick up and open when I am always touched by the living and applicable nature of the Word when I actually do read it.  Isaiah 61 is one of those chapters I have read numerous times throughout my walk as a believer. And yet this last week as I reread it, the Lord revealed aspects of this chapter to me with fresh eyes that I would love to share with you.  
 I was drawn to this chapter due to the first few verses which speak of binding up the brokenhearted, trading a crown of beauty for ashes, being given a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair, and oil of gladness instead of mourning.  I have desperately needed this reminder and hope for the future after burying one of my beloved twin sons, Warren, last February at 19 days of life and fighting for the life and wellbeing of my surviving son, John, over the past year and a half. However, what was so amazing just a few days ago when I was reading this chapter was the part about the Lord wanting to restore what has been devastated and give us a double portion so that we actually rejoice in our inheritance and see the blessings and JOY God wants to lavish upon us.
Today is my 28th birthday and this chapter relates in such a profound way, because this time last year was a very different and extremely difficult time for me.  I was deep in despair and truly felt I had been given a rotten inheritance at such a young age that I was stuck with and would have to figure out how to deal with for the rest of my life.  With one son in the grave and another son struggling with major health problems, I felt that my life was just a dark mess and that I was doomed to merely eek it out and wait until I died and could be reunited with my son and reconciled to Jesus. I was upset, angry, and simply did not understand the Lord’s plan.   
Whereas when I was pregnant with my twin boys, I had felt blessed and honored like Mary when she was carrying Christ in her womb.  I felt chosen and doubly blessed.  This year on my birthday, I no longer feel the sadness and despair that I felt last year.  Rather, I feel doubly blessed once again.  I see that there is hope beyond our earthly circumstances.  I realize that God does what to give us a RICH inheritance.  He wants us to both experience and exude joy.  TRUE JOY.  Let that sink in for a moment.   
He has JOY planned for YOU.  Isn’t it humbling to know that today God has His hand upon you and upon me?  It is true.  I don’t know what the future holds and I don’t always understand His ways, but I am trusting that He is good and I want to walk in His joy.
Isaiah 61
 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
       because the LORD has anointed me
       to preach good news to the poor.
       He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
       to proclaim freedom for the captives
       and release from darkness for the prisoners, 

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