How I Became Refined

[originally posted November 14, 2006]

It’s been on my mind a lot lately.

The excesses of our lives.
The unnecessary stuff.
The stuff that ends up holding us down and owning us.

It’s been a year since everything was pulled out from under us… A year since, my husband had to pick up and move, temporarily, with what little he could fit into his car, across the country (literally, we were in Maryland, he was in Oregon.) Away from the newborn son he’d barely gotten to know. Away from his other two children, who adore him completely.

It had been a slow, painful process prior to that. Before it all started, we had owned our own home, nice cars, owned a very successful business of our own. We weren’t nasty prideful, but we were proud of our things. And I don’t think we shared what the Lord had given us very well with others.

As our descent began, we tried to keep our grip and climb up out of it. However, it seemed as if every decision we made, even after prayerfully presenting it before the Lord, turned out to be a bad decision. In the end, we were having to live with Sean’s parents and use food stamps for groceries.

I can look back over that year now, and see how the Lord was refining us.

Have you ever considered the definition of “refine”. We hear it a lot in churches. But what does it mean?

re‧fine /rɪˈfaɪn/ Pronunciation KeyShow Spelled Pronunciation[ri-fahyn] verb, -fined, -fin‧ing.
–verb (used with object) bring to a fine or a pure state; free from impurities: to refine metal, sugar, or petroleum. purify from what is coarse, vulgar, or debasing; make elegant or cultured. bring to a finer state or form by purifying. make more fine, subtle, or precise: to refine one’s writing style.
–verb (used without object) become pure. become more fine, elegant, or polished. make fine distinctions in thought or language.
—Verb phrase

8.refine on or upon, to improve by inserting finer distinctions, superior elements, etc.: to refine on one’s previous work.

refine. (n.d.). Unabridged (v 1.0.1). Retrieved November 14, 2006, from website:

To take something coarse and vulgar and make it elegant and pure??

No small feat…

It becomes clear that, though the finished product may be beautiful and elegant, the process is not.

This year I have resolved in my heart, to not look the other way when I see someone hurting… to not cling to things when someone else has a need for it… to not judge others by their circumstances… I now understand what is important, and what is just fluff…

Some lessons are harder to learn than others. This one was excruciating at times.

But I wouldn’t trade the changes in myself and my family for anything!!

Thank you Lord, for seeing my heart and refining it for your glory.


  1. http://Kelli%20Standish says

    WOW, Karla,
    I would love to hear more of your story… what happened to your business?

    The verse about tribulation>perseverance>character>hope comes to mind as I read your story.

    May you become a woman with raging, massive hope muscles through all this.

    I'm cheering you on.


  2. http://Melissa%20@%20The%20Inspired%20Room says

    Great post. After a year with my husband out of work, I can relate! Although we have been fortunate to have not lost our home or had any major ill effects, we have had PLENTY of time to rethink our priorities. My husband now has a job, praise the Lord, and we are moving to a new state. This time, we are buying a smaller house with a more manageable house payment. No more living dangerously! LOL! And today we loaded up the car with the first of what is likely to be dozens of trips to the dump or Goodwill. I want to take a lot less stuff with us to our new home! I’ve definitely felt that God is refining us through this experience!
    Thanks for sharing a painful but beautiful journey.

  3. http://Marina says

    Great post sounds like there is a message behind these please share, I have been through hard times in my life and some times I belivie we need to share them so that other poeple may have that very same hope. Prise God, marina

  4. http://Named%20Alicia says

    Great post! I recently wrote about being in the refiner’s fire. It is not a nice place to be. I can’t wait until I can look back at this time. Thanks for sharing from the other side!

  5. http://Lalena says

    thank you for sharing your story. I too would love to hear more. We are in the midst of being refined…thank you for the reminder that God is in control.

  6. http://Stephanie says

    Hi Karla,

    I really appreciate your transparency.

    For the past three and a half years, we have had no salary! My husband has been a full time student, and I have stayed home with our kids. It is only by miraculous provision that God has carried us through. We have sometimes said that it is probably easier for us because we have never owned a house, or lots of stuff… but we can’t imagine losing it suddenly. It must have been so hard.

    I had a moment this month of “refinement”. It was my son’s birthday, and every year to this point we have let them choose what they want for supper. Not this year – our cupboards were pretty bare. So, I cooked through the fog of tears and made the best supper I could for him. It was pancakes.

    I was just about to open my mouth to complain, but God pulled me aside and asked me, “Have you ever gone hungry?” No, we have never gone hungry. We have eaten our last oatmeal for breakfast with nothing for lunch, and then God shows up and provides more than we ever could have expected.

    Living in this way for the last 3 years has given us a compassion and vision to help the really poor people of the world… People who would walk miles for a pancake.

    Refinement. It’s not so bad. And I’d rather be a little lump of godly gold, than a big worldly lump of clay, no matter how well its painted on the outside.

  7. http://amy%20@%20milk%20breath%20and%20margaritas says

    Great post Karla.

  8. http://Heather says

    Karla, since I am new to getting to know you, I haven’t heard your story yet but I so appreciate your honesty and spirit. It’s amazing to look back at what the Lord has brought us through and realize the lessons learned in the very difficult refining process. A rare treasure, indeed.

  9. http://Allison says

    I just came across your blog by accident today, although I don’t believe anything is an accident! Thank you for posting this! It really spoke to me today!

    I usually don’t link in someone’s comments to my blog, but I posted a while back a little story I received in an email about Malachi 3:3 “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” which I found encouraging.

    Hopefully you will to!

  10. http://April says

    WOW.. that was so wonderful to read and be reminded of what God is doing even in my own life. This past year for our family has been a really rough one too. Our marriage was tested in a huge way but what the “enemy” meant for death and destruction.. God has used for His Glory! You are so right on about the process NOT being pleasant but to be on this side of things is priceless. My major refining lesson is this… Those who are forgiven much.. FORGIVE MUCH! We serve such an amazing GOD who is worth so much more GLORY than we could even come close to giving HIM yet He receives what we have to give HIM. Thank you for sharing your life and allowing me.. a total stranger.. to be a part of it.
    May God continue to draw you and your family even closer to His side.. there’s no better place to be.
    Blessings to you my sister in Christ.

  11. http://Anonymous says

    I read your blog often, but I don’t think I have ever left a comment. However, today, wow, God was on time using you to encourage me today. We actually make a really good income, however with many extra circumtances lately things have become very tough and it has been an ordeal just to make it month to month. I have had to learn to not shop or spend any money on items I do not HAVE to Have. In a conversation my husband and I had last week we both said, “maybe God is trying to humble us”. I know God is good and always in control and we just need to not lose sight of HIM or our love for each other. It sure can put a strain on your marraige, and you learn not to love THINGS.
    Thank you for being so opened and honest and not letting pride be more important.
    Sweet Blessings,

  12. http://Sandy%20Toes says

    What a great post! I agree there is so much unneeded stuff in our lives!
    -sandy toes

  13. http://Robin%20~%20PENSIEVE says

    Oh, Karla…I’m so glad I READ this post (and that you re-posted it). It speaks to something I just wrote about myself:

    It’s those difficult circumstances that give shape and depth to our lives, don’t you think? Especially because we, as believers KNOW there’s purpose and intent in them (our ultimate good and God’ glory).

    I stumbled this for you…people need to read it! :)

  14. http://Musings%20of%20a%20Housewife says

    I had no idea you’ve been through all this. Isn’t it amazing, when we come out on the other end of a trial, how thankful you are for the lessons God taught you, even though you wouldn’t want to live through it again for anything. Thanks for sharing today.

  15. I believe God is refining the Church. He began our refinement about 6 years ago, it is still going on. The emphasis is off me and mine and on to others now.

    Thank you for sharing and I hope to hear your story soon.

  16. http://lisasmith says

    Refining is never easy, is it? It seems like everything that appears of value has to be stripped away so that the true value can become visible…Great post. I appreciate your honesty!

    And, very nice to meet you! I’ll be back.

  17. http://Beck says

    I love the idea of becoming refined. it happened to me, too. And while I’m sorry that you went through that agony, I’m grateful for who you are now.

  18. http://Chappyswife says

    I am sorry you had to go through that Karla and so glad you have the worst of it behind you and with lessons learned.

    When I have my head on straight, I thank God for the trials that we are in the midst of right now. It’s been a long 2 1/2 years, and we are in the worst of it right now, but we have not lost our home or vehicles. I am praying we do not every single day. We would we go?

    I’ve wanted to blog about this dozens of times, but I haven’t known what to say without generating pity. There is also a measure of shame and embarrassment involved (how could we have let things get this bad, etc.)

    You did a good job on this, and it encouraged me to read the comments.

    I pray God continues to bless you and your family. Thanks for helping others to see a different side of the coin.

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