Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life

How to Thrive in the Face of Challenge



Even in the midst of challenge, you can become a person who thrives no matter what. Plant yourself on the Rock.

When I met my Salvadoran husband, I had one problem: I’d already fallen in love. With a country.  I’d lived in Istanbul two years and hoped to return. When Jose asked me to marry him, I thought long and hard. Did I love him enough to give up my dream of living in Turkey?

I decided I did. When we married, I was sure I’d spend the rest of my life in El Salvador, eating mangos and learning to love rain.

God had other plans.

I still remember the day we landed in Izmir with 17 suitcases and 2 preschoolers. My husband handled the suitcases; I kept the kids in tow. We moved into a spanking new apartment with dark pistachio green walls (which I did not love.) We unpacked those suitcases and set up house.

Every day we made new discoveries: Turkish coffee, Turkish delight, and Turkish music blaring on the mini-buses we hopped on to get around. We heard the call to prayer, explored open air markets bursting with produce, and learned to love eggplant. We scouted out the surrounding area: beaches, Greek ruins, and olive trees. Olive trees everywhere.



We loved the people most of all. Friendly neighbors who knocked on the door with plates of cake or stuffed grape leaves. New friends with hospitality we could NEVER outdo. And tea. That went along with the people. We drank lots of tea with our new friends.

I thought God brought me to Turkey to share His love, but He also had other plans.

I thought He would work through me, but He wanted to do a greater work in me.

I’d come to teach others, I didn’t know what God was going to teach me.

I didn’t know how hard it would be. I didn’t know that this country, for all its beauty, can suck the life out of you because it’s a spiritual desert where few know the Savior.

But I looked at the olive trees and figured if they could flourish on this semi-arid landscape, then so could I. My daily quiet time became my life line because God refreshed me each day, even during discouraging times.  My Turkish brothers and sisters were another life saver. In a desert where most people say, “No thanks,” to the waters of eternal life, my faith family reminded me that God was at work. I learned that when we stuck together, met together, prayed together, and worshiped together, our lights shone brighter.

Like those olive trees, I learned to thrive in the face of challenge. (Even though I didn’t always feel like I was thriving.)

Olive Tree Scripture

I don’t have any magic formula, just two secrets so simple that we sometimes overlook them.

1. Make Sure You’re Planted in the Right Place

It’s tempting to center our lives on our calling, family, ministry, or career, but sooner or later those disappoint. We can only flourish if we’re planted in God, with our lives centered on Him and our eyes fixed on Him no matter what.

2. Grow Roots Down Deep

We need God’s Word and God’s Church to grow roots that anchor us down.  As we read God’s Word, as we believe it, speak it, and live it, our roots grow deeper. As we meet with His people on Sundays and during the week at prayer meetings and over coffee, our roots become interconnected. We grow stronger.

Even in the midst of challenge, you can learn to become a person who thrives no matter what. Here are 2 secrets that are so simple they're easy to overlook.

What challenges are you facing, friend? Are doubt, discouragement, and unmet expectations knocking on your door? I write this with a prayer for you. We may feel like we’re barely surviving, but as we plant ourselves firmly on the Rock, we become the kind of people that thrive no matter what.

Now it’s your turn:  Has God ever surprised you with plans different from your own? How have you learned to thrive?

I love linking with these communities: Holly Barrett’s #TestimonyTuesday, Kelly Balarie’s #RaRalinkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee’s #TellHisStory, Suzie Eller’s #LiveFree, and Grace and Truth.  Check them out for more encouragement.

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Photo Credits: Olive Tree 1, Olive Tree 2


Author: betsydecruz

I want to enjoy the everyday life God is giving me as best I can, even when the road gets bumpy. I love having fun with my teenagers, learning almost anything, and drinking dark roast coffee with my friends.

28 thoughts on “How to Thrive in the Face of Challenge

  1. Oh, Betsy – you did it again. You reached down into my heart and pulled out words I didn’t even know were there. So, so many times, I’ve felt this: “I thought He would work through me, but He wanted to do a greater work in me.” Especially as a teacher, I enter places expecting to give- only to humbly discover that I was the needy one. Thanks for sharing your life so beautifully week after week. I always love clicking on your smiling face! 🙂 xoxo

    • Thank you so much, Karen. You are a JEWEL! I so appreciate your encouragement. God words IN us AND THROUGH us, doesn’t he. I know He’s working through your BLOG, for example. I suspect He does through your teaching too.

  2. I am ready to begin thriving again as I step forward into God’s next for me. I love how it is only with God that we are truly able to thrive. Four years ago I was handed a job change that felt like a slap in my face to me and the only was I made it through is by the grace of God. He came and took me by the hand and walked me through every difficult step. I thrived tremendously during that experience because God loved me through it. Beautiful words friend! I have been praying for you and your family!!! Love and hugs!

    • What a testimony, Mary! I’m sure God did lots in you during that “slap in the face” time, and He was PREPARING you for your future. You ARE thriving, and I can’t wait to see what God does in your next phase.

  3. What an inspirational story. Gods graces a with us everyday.

  4. Gosh, I feel like almost everything in my life has been a surprise. My plans for myself were so different. I love your point about growing your roots deep, as the plans have changed over the years I find that the deeper I am with God the better I can handle all of the change!

  5. Betsy -thank you for this. Oh Betsy. How true these words are, and how lovely! Many, many a challenge here and constant surprises. Being a dreamer and a planner, I always look for “the right way” and I’m often surprised when the Lord points to the one that isn’t a way at all in my mind. Yet every time we step on that seemingly invisible path, the roots go deeper.

    Thank you for these beautiful words and this encouragement!

  6. Hi Betsy … my borders are always enlarged when I visit with you here. It’s so good to see you again …

  7. The short answer is: Yes! God has given me a few surprises. I’ve thrived by holding fast to Him and His word, like you said. But more than that, being honest with Him about the hard moments – or months. 🙂 Trusting Him enough to lay out my heartache or lift up my joy and then watch what He would do with it. Not easy, but looking back I can see His amazing hand – we always do, don’t we?! Thanks for sharing more of your journey, Betsy! PS. The photos are beautiful.

    • Yes, I’m with you on sharing the heartache, Tiffany. Sometimes I just “tell it like it is” to God, as if He were my best friend. Which I guess he is. 🙂

  8. Betsy, I love this post so much. You should definitely write a book about your experiences in Turkey. I would buy it in a heartbeat! 🙂 God has surprised me with his plan for us to move cross country twice. It stretched my faith in so many ways and drew me close to him. I wouldn’t change those experiences my family shared for the world. So blessed to know you, friend. I’m praying God blesses your time in the states (and that I’ll see you somehow).

    • Thanks for your encouragement on the book, Abby! I’m waiting for yours. 🙂 God does surprise us with those moves, doesn’t He? I do hope to see you too while we’re in the States.

  9. What a beautiful testimony, Betsy! I love your words, make sure you’re planted in the right place, and grow roots down deep – such truth, no matter where you are living or what God has called you to! Blessings, dear friend!

  10. My fall is looking like a surprise but I am looking foward to it. I love how God used Ps 52 and the Olive trees to encourage you. Where I live, it is the roses blooming (but I don’t have a verse to go with it.) Thanks for the encouragement to keep my roots growing deep.

    • Blessings to you, TJ, as you embark on your fall surprise! How wonderful that there are roses blooming there. Here too, but it gets hot by the end of June and they stop. I love them.

  11. Standing on His firm foundation what a good place to be. We are in the middle of transition in our ministry and family life and things around us can seem shaky and unsure but His presence with us and trusting His Truth is getting us through! What a gift He is to us!
    Thank you for these words! (Stopping by from #LiveFreeThursday)

  12. I love that you dropped in to share wisdom with us on #livefreeThursday!

  13. I love hearing more of your life’s story, Betsy. What a great testimony to God’s leading hand and great provision. My life has not exactly gone in the direction I thought it would go, either. But through the struggle, God has brought me closer to Him and blessed me in ways I could not have imagined. Thanks for sharing!

  14. What a sweet love-story beginning, Betsy. 🙂
    I was thinking when I was reading…God is the only Rock that can sustain life…where we can plant ourselves and grow roots. What other rock could do that? What a sweet paradox–our fertile soil–is in the Rock.
    Thanks for this encouragement today, Betsy. ❤

  15. Dear Betsy, thank you for posting about this subject. So nice and refreshing insights. God bless you and selam! Rocìo

  16. Reading this post made me cry this morning….. Your beauty and perseverance in the midst of everything and your faithfulness to complete this race to please your King…… You are a star and such an example. I love you deeply and am going to miss our sweet coffees together. Many blessings.

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