"In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and He heard me."
I love people.
I am fascinated with their stories.
I hang on their words as they open up their hearts and share what God has brought them through.
I believe there is a Divine purpose for every single person that God allows us to meet.
Recently, He brought a very devoted young mother and her precious little girl across my path.
I knew from the moment we met, that there was something very special about them.
Something about the way the mother scooted over in her chair to make room for the little girl,
the kind tone she used while speaking to her,
the comfortable way they interacted with each other,
and the friendly reception I got when I ventured to say hello.
Kevin and Zach often tell me that I never meet a stranger, and when they see me starting to strike up a conversation with someone we've never met, they know they're in for a wait!
I love the quote, "Strangers are just friends we haven't met yet."
The longer I talked to this sweet mother, the more I realized how much her story needs to be told. She has endured untold heartache and extreme challenges, and she is still here to tell us about it. Hers is a testimony of God's grace and healing and blatant proof that He does indeed still answer prayer, and He is still performing miracles in the lives of those who believe.
So, without further ado, I gratefully present to you the
Cheryl: Please tell us about yourself.
Stephanie: Well, my name is Stephanie Hoium. I have been married for 5 years to my loving husband, Justin Hoium, whom I've been with for the past 10 years. We have a beautiful 6 year old girl, her name is Rozlynn Hoium. I'm different. I go against the grain. Nothing has ever... and I mean EVER restored my faith more than the day my daughter was born.
Cheryl: What happened on the day before Easter six years ago?
Stephanie: I was coloring Easter eggs with my little sisters, as I do every year. I was pregnant with our baby girl whom we had already picked out her name. (Rozlynn)
Cheryl: Will you describe the aftermath of that day's events?
Stephanie: Well, I know that my mom has PTSD from it. She gets really sick even thinking about that day, or driving through WV. For my husband and I, it has brought us closer together. You never know when it will be your time to go. So we make sure we say all the things that need to be said before we go to bed, and we make sure we tell each other and our daughter we love them more than anything.
The happy day they got to bring little Rozlynn home!
Cheryl: Looking back, what do you consider to be your darkest day?
Stephanie: I was very depressed. I wasn't allowed to drive for a year after everything had happened. I just had to stay at home with constant supervision.
Cheryl: What helped you cope during that time? Was there a particular person who faithfully stood by you and encouraged you to keep going? If so, can you tell us about him/her and some of the most meaningful and effective things they did to help you make it through?
Stephanie: My husband, Justin, my daughter, my mom. Justin would comfort me and tell me that we will make it. It was hard. If my husband wasn't there to tell me what happened everyday and calm me down from a complete emotional break down... wipe my tears away. I just don't know what I would have done.
Cheryl: What suggestions can you make to someone who wants to reach out to someone else in distress?
Stephanie: NEVER give up on God. He has a plan for everyone, even if you don't see it yet. Never give up on the one person who loves you unconditionally.
Cheryl: How are you doing now?
Stephanie: I'm doing well. I still have issues with my short term memory loss; That's why it has taken me so long to respond to this email!
Cheryl: In retrospect, how would you describe your views towards God before this life-altering event?
Stephanie: Honestly, I hated Him. I didn't understand why He was giving me so many trails in my life. Why was He making it so hard for me? Why was He making it so hard for Justin and me to just be happy and comfortable? But I now realize that He was making me stronger. Making me stand up for what I believe in and to never give up.
Cheryl: How did this whole experience draw you closer to God?
Stephanie: All I can say is that He didn't give up on me even when I didn't believe in myself and I wanted to just end it all.
Cheryl: What changes can you perceive in your perspective towards life in general?
Stephanie: I love my life and everyone who is in my life.
Stephanie, Rozlynn, & Justin Hoium
Cheryl: Please tell us about your little girl.
Stephanie: Oh the love of my life! Her name is Rozlynn Ember Hoium. She's 6 years old and smart as a tack. She's so smart! She loves to play games, read, and go to church. She's simply just amazing.
Cheryl: What is your favorite part of being her mother?
Stephanie: Teaching her things. I've taught her how to cook various things. I've taught her how to speak in Spanish.
Stephanie: Being able to provide for my family and keeping them healthy and active.
Cheryl: What are some of the things you enjoy doing with your daughter?
Stephanie: Cooking, reading, and teaching.
Cheryl: If you were having coffee with a reader who is discouraged and depressed, what advice would you draw from the well of your own life experiences and share with them to offer hope?
Stephanie: I would tell them to never give up on God and to never give up on the people they love the most. God and these people have made you who you are. Never be ashamed of who you are. So what if people are going to judge you. You know who you are and what you believe. ALWAYS stick to what you believe.
Cheryl: To the person who is now in the throes of a long, painful recovery process, what would you say?
Stephanie: Prayer works. It will be hard. But never give up.
Cheryl: Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose. Surely God has spared your life and the life of your little girl for a special, Divine intent. Will you share with us about some of the good things you have seen come out of your own pain? How has God redeemed your suffering and turned it into something good? How is He turning your test into a testimony?
Stephanie: God has tested me on so many levels. I hated Him for it because I didn't really understand why. I just wanted to be happy. I felt so tortured by all this evil and negativity around me. I had one light in my life. That was Justin. He came to me when I was at my lowest. I was broken. He was broken. We've built our relationship on trust and love. We fixed each other with the help of God. I never knew that I could love someone with my entire soul. I wasn't even sure that I could even love. I met him, and together we walked hand in hand and he has NEVER left my side. I'm so thankful for the blessings that God has given me and my family. We are whole.
Cheryl: In closing, are there any special words of comfort you would like to share with us?
Stephanie: Love. Love hard and true. I want people to know that life is scary. There's so many unknowns. But, God has the answers. Don't ever turn your back on Him. I want everyone to know that this can happen. I didn't believe it would happen. I was 22. It happened to me. I made it out alive. God has kept me here for a reason.
Cheryl: How can we pray for you in this current season?
Stephanie: For peace and good health.
I am just so inspired by Stephanie, her never-give-up attitude, her resilience,
and, most of all, her faith in God and her desire to honor Him with her life.
I love seeing how Justin and Stephanie pulled together through such extenuating circumstances,
and how Justin stood by her through her darkest times.
Theirs is a beautiful true love story.
Theirs is a beautiful true love story.
The trials they have walked through together have served to strengthen their marriage and deepen their bond and love for one another.
It is a rare and amazing thing to behold.
A BIG thanks to you, Stephanie, for being willing to step forward and share your heart and story with us here. I can only imagine how God is going to use you and your testimony to encourage others who feel they have no hope.
I can't wait to see what great things He has in store for you and Justin and little Rozlynn in the future.
God bless the three of you again and again!
Dear reader, how are things with you?
Are you facing tough circumstances in your life?
Does it seem that all hope is gone?
I hope you will consider Stephanie's story and how God sustained her.
He didn't promise that we would never go through difficult times,
but He did promise to never leave us alone.
He always walks through the fire with us, and He is eternally faithful and true to His Word.
I trust that, regardless what you are going through, you feel His comforting presence walking alongside you, and that you always know how much you are loved.
God bless you, each and every one!
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