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At 18 years old

I had the world on a string.

At 18 years old

I had the world on a string.

I could sing and speak to large crowds. I’d earned public accolades for my writing. I had endless energy, a hard work ethic, and friends in high places.

And I loved Jesus. I wanted to use all my strengths and giftings to tell the world about him.

So never in a million years could I have imagined what lay before me: I would spend two decades in the deep waters of anxiety and depression, marry late, suffer years of chronic pain and illness, give birth to a child with health complications, walk through crushing private sorrows, and one day hear those life-altering words,

“You have cancer.” And then a few years later—

“The cancer is back. Stage four. Terminal.”

Suffering on its own would have wrecked me. Dark days can poison the soul and rot the bones. But in the hands of a fiercely tender God, suffering has slowly freed me, opened my eyes to see eternal realities more clearly, and worked in me inexplicable joy. With each new pain and sorrow, I have come to love and believe Jesus more.

Now, as I look over my shoulder at almost three decades ago—back to that 18-year-old version of myself—I realize I was a lot like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. (C.S. Lewis)

My girlish dreams weren’t bad in and of themselves, but they were so full of me, and so opposed to hardship. They were “muddy kid stuff” compared to what God had dreamed up for me—a life of daring love, unbreakable joy, and deeply meaningful work.

And yet, there are still times I beat a path back to that slum, to sit in the mud, forgetful that “apart from God, I have no good thing” (Psalm 16:2).

So I write in order to remember.

This website is where I look at the beauty of suffering in light of God’s goodness, and I point myself (and hopefully you too, dear reader) back to the Only One who can turn our bitter griefs into breathtaking gifts.

With love, 


(Adapted from the Introduction of Colleen’s book, In the Hands of a Fiercely Tender God.)