My Refiner’s Fire

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Today’s post is a wonderful testimony from Selah mom Justina Kornelson. Thanks Justina for sharing your story with us!



From a young age, I always dreamt of being a mom. At the age of 26, that dream came true. Our son was the easiest baby one could ever want, and so we decided to have another. Our son was 13 months old, when we welcomed our first daughter. And cute as she was, she was a tough tough baby. BUT nothing could have prepared me for what came next… just 12 very short weeks after our daughter was born, we were shocked to discover baby #3 was on the way!


No sooner had we accepted the reality of our situation, when the pregnancy complications began. Unbeknownst to us, miracles were to follow… I was at high risk of miscarrying right up until 20 weeks. Then at 23 weeks, I got a strong sense that something was wrong and we headed to the hospital. After many tests and an overnight stay we were informed our little girl had a heart condition. We would need to make the decision on whether to have an emergency c-section (she had a 5% survival rate) or to risk continuing with the pregnancy. Talk about an emotional roller coaster! After much prayer, we committed our little girl to God and chose to carry on with the pregnancy. Miraculously, I was not only able to carry our little girl to full-term, but she was born without any heart defects or conditions!


As much as I had always wanted to be a mom, I wasn’t prepared for the whole slew of emotions that can come along with having a baby and the inevitable mom-guilt that loves to point out the not-so-shiny moments of mothering. To make matters worse, I did not have a strong support network around me. I did have a friend or two generously offer to help, but due to insecurities, rooted in my fear of rejection, I couldn’t take them up on their offers. They made being a mommy look so easy and enjoyable. I couldn’t let them in on how much I was actually struggling because surely that would be the end of friendships (or so I thought). I went to great lengths to hide behind an image of “I’ve got it all together,” not allowing anyone in.


My husband couldn’t be a better husband and hands-on dad. But having just started a new career, the time he had to help was limited. The bills had to be paid, so quitting wasn’t an option. I was struggling with postpartum depression that got so deep and dark, it put my marriage on the rocks. The once happy, have-it-all-together-couple we thought we were was now falling apart at the seams. It felt as though my life was spiralling out of control and there seemed to be nothing I could do to stop it… I had hit rock bottom!


BUT there is always a silver lining behind every dark cloud. I’ve learnt so much through this dark time, like (1) not to judge those around us, because you literally don’t know what could actually be going on behind the scenes; (2) to be intentional with connecting and checking up on those around us that have been brave enough to share their struggles; (3) to never get too busy to take the opportunities we are so often presented with to be a blessing to those around us (you never know, that act of kindness might be the very thing that person needed that day, to gain the strength to carry on); and (4) that we don’t have to bear our burdens alone, God is always there, ready, willing and able to meet us in our utter brokenness, if we will only let Him in.


That is the best decision I have ever made. I found God in a whole new powerful way and began my journey of finding my identity in Christ instead of in other people’s opinions of me. It is by the grace of God that I can now say those dark, dark days are a thing of the past. I remember the day I stood in the kitchen and told my husband I just couldn’t live this way anymore. Something had to change and it had to change now! I have always been a firm believer in, while you can’t always control what or how things happen in life, you can control how you handle it. That is the day I decided to get serious about my walk with God and intentionally pursue my relationship with Him. I made the commitment to fully surrender to Him and follow His leading no matter where that might be, and what a journey I am on. This isn’t something that just happens on its own. It’s a daily choice to take up my cross and follow God by being intentional in spending regular quiet time with Him. This has stretched and grown me in ways I never thought possible. Not only is it exposing lies I once believed and allowed to hold me captive, but it is revealing the truth about those lies, and equipping me with ways to break those bonds and set me free.


One big thing that God has used in my life to help stretch and grow me is Selah. This is something I was very hesitant to join at first, being that I didn’t know a single person there and it was way out of my comfort zone. After a year of wrestling with it, I took a leap of faith and went. My only regret now is that I didn’t join sooner. While it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, I now know God has been using it in my life in powerful ways… teaching me to fully rely on Him in all areas of my life. While I loved the mom’s chapel days, my volunteer days were rough, rough, rough. My first year there I was still in such dark place. I left every volunteer day feeling like I just couldn’t measure up next to all the other gifted volunteers. My love for the chapel days, getting to connect with other mom’s and the things I was learning, along with the wonderful things my kids got to learn and do are what kept me there that first year. It helped me realize just how ‘normal’ my family actually is and that I’m not the only one with that “kid” (you know the one that tests every fibre of your being, the one that does things parenting books don’t have the perfect example for, and makes you look and feel like the ultimate parent failure at the most inopportune moments). The chapel days are instrumental in equipping me with tools I need to face the tough mommy moments that so often come my way. Having been there for 3 years now, I have grown so much and have gone from having no strong support network, to being blessed immeasurably with a whole team of people to pray with and encourage me, both in and outside of Selah.


While being a mommy is a tough, tough job, I wouldn’t trade it for the world! My 3 amazing kiddos are just what I needed, to dump my world upside down and find God in a deeper more powerful way! I call them my Refiner’s Fire, as they have a unique way of exposing my weaknesses and pushing me to continuously stretch and grow by earnestly seeking God and following His plan for my life.


Justina Kornelson

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