Changing Ambitions

Jewel ZymurgyFaith0 Comments

A question was asked that took me off guard… It was part of the homework that I should have been doing since the last class…but I was being a delinquent pupil and hadn’t finished working through the assignment. The answer given was raw and unformed in my own heart and head and really exposed what I thought about what God has been doing in my heart in an unfiltered and authentic way. The question posed was this, “What are some specific ways you’ve noticed change in your ambitions since becoming a believer? I listened to the question and thought only for a moment before my name was called to answer. I felt my face get hot with embarrassment as I imagined that the ladies around me could see my thoughts as I recalled my job situation just a few short years ago… I hesitated for a moment giving room to the fear of being judged harshly as I considered sharing the truth…and ultimately found myself resigning to what felt like God leading me to show up authentically. Ambitions… Before I became a believer—I was a supervisor at a warehouse in a field typically dominated by men. In that warehouse I … Read More

Prepare for Impact

Rosalynn LasleyFaith0 Comments

impact

Each of us have someone in the past, as well as in the present that have made an impact in our lives.  Some have had (or are currently having) an impact in small ways, some in large ways.  Some have impacted our lives in positive ways, and some in negative.  Some have impacted our lives in ways we had never imagined, and some in ways we will never ever forget.  Chances are that as you read this you’ve started mentally recalling a list of people who have previously and are currently impacting your life. But what about you? What about the impact you have in the lives of others? When you realize that you have a sphere of influence yourself, and you are currently impacting others around you it is both a powerful, and sobering thought.    What would other folks say your impact has been in their life?  Would you be surprised? Proud? Embarrassed? Ashamed? There may be some of us who would feel proud of the times where we made a positive difference in the lives of someone else. We might recall the times where we have given our all, in hopes it would make a difference.  There … Read More

Where Are The Houses Of Prayer?

Jen CudmoreFaith, Prayer & Fasting0 Comments

They stood in a circle, about 40 of them, in the center of the parking lot. United, hands clasped with their neighbor and heads bowed, they prayed. No fear. No shame. No wavering. As I drove by, tears stung the back of my eyes. Emotions assailed me. I was thrilled to witness such an incredible sight, so many people openly gathering before the throne of the Most High God! And yet I felt sad that such a sight is so rare. I could not recall the last time I had been involved in a prayer circle like that! And I wondered if God’s reaction was a little like mine. I thought back to a question that’s been heavy on my heart for several months: Why don’t more churches gather for prayer and fasting? When I was young, every once in a while our little church met just to pray. As I grew older, I noticed that some churches had regular prayer meetings, and some didn’t. I never thought much about it until I came across this scripture: “And as [Jesus] taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’?” … Read More

Through it All 

Beau HagertyFaith, Redemption, Trials1 Comment

As I have mentioned before in a previous blog post, I grew up in the church. My parents were pastors, I was leading worship by the time I was 15, I attended every district event in my denomination, I was the perfect poster child for an “on fire for God” PK. But it didn’t mean a thing to me. There’s something about hearing the same thing over and over again that makes it lose its meaning. For me that was the gospel and the love of God. I knew all of the text book answers of how a relationship with God was supposed to look, but it didn’t mean anything. And growing up a pastors kid is difficult. Not to say that people who didn’t have that upbringing had it easy but there is a distinct difference. For some reason church members have a tendency to feel entitled to spectate the lives of their pastor’s children. And I have endured more scrutiny than I wish to recount on. I always sort of felt like I was living inside a glass box on display for everyone to see. Whether it be my haircut or my outfit or the types of movies … Read More

The Hazard of People-Pleasing

Carol DunfeeFaith, Prayer & Fasting1 Comment

All my life I have craved approval. In elementary school, I wanted my friends to like me. In high school, I wanted the popular kids to accept me. In college, I wanted to be respected and liked. I was terrified that someone would think I was “strange”, so I kept my little quirks to myself. As an adult, I have grown more independent, but I still crave approval. I want people to think positive thoughts about me. I can express some pretty strong opinions when I know I’m in the company of like-minded friends, but I clam up in embarrassment as soon as a dissenting opinion is expressed. Blogging has added a whole new dynamic to this fear of displeasing people. It’s fine and dandy to write strongly and boldly in front of my computer. It’s a completely different thing to put that writing out on the internet for all to see. When God has shown me something revolutionary, I am still tempted to keep it hidden so that no one thinks I’m “strange”. A friend of mine posted a sermon from Francis Chan recently. Chan mentioned how he has often been tempted to water down a message from God … Read More

Time with Him

Jewel ZymurgyFaith0 Comments

I was sitting to tea with a beautiful godly friend of mine and I gained the most loving perspective on how God views my obedience. So much so, I was completely thrown into a joy-filled outburst of laughter that overwhelmed me with amazement and tears for over 30 minutes.   Iced tea in hand, I shared a piece of my struggle in regard to a person I respect deeply. I didn’t understand how come so many of our conversations would stir up such strong emotions of inadequacy and rejection.   Not wanting this person to be seen in a poor light, I slowly began my attempt to share my heart. I began by reminding my friend of this person’s character, their integrity, their godliness and the way they are good by using deliberate and very intentional word choice—as if speaking slowly and purposefully would make my point better.    I spoke of a few times when I have felt rejected, the times when I have extended an invitation and I have been denied. I don’t often ask others to join me in life. It feels vulnerable to me to share myself with others.   That being said, for those that … Read More

But if not…

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Trials0 Comments

This topic has been on my heart since I was very first asked to contribute to this blog, but each week God has said “not yet.” I’ve sat down over and over again thinking I was going to write about this, but have ended up in another direction instead. This post may be too deep to cover all of the thoughts I’ve had all at once, but stick with me, I feel God really has a lot to say. There have been many Bible stories, especially Old Testament ones that I’ve heard over the years that I have sort of shrugged off. They are “good stories” examples of trials, faith, perseverance, promise, but there are many times I’ve thought “that’s great and all, but how is that relevant to me?” One of those stories comes from the book of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the … Read More

Are You Caught in the Comparison Trap?

Jen CudmoreTrials0 Comments

Comparison Trap

Do you measure up? The best advice I received at my bridal shower many years ago came from one of the pastors’ wives. She told me “Never ever compare yourself to other women.” The comparison trap is a snare all women must watch out for. We tempted way too often to worry if we’re a good mom, wife, employee, blogger, Sunday School teacher.  Are we thin enough, fit enough, strong enough? Trendy and fashionable? Wise and knowledgeable? Skilled with hobbies like decorating, photography, crafting, scrapbooking? Got the right amount of wealth and education? And we measure ourselves against other women to see if we meet “the standard.” It’s not always directly related to us, but also our homes, families, possessions, and jobs. Are our children as smart or athletic enough? Is our husband high enough on the corporate ladder, or even the spiritual ladder? Should we be pursuing a better job, like the business women who recently became a CEO of a large firm? Or should we be a stay-at-home mom like the other ladies at church? Should we purchase expensive furniture and décor for our run-down trailer or stay within our means and stick with Wal-Mart? I wasted too many years wondering if I … Read More

Hello Martha, Hello Mary…It’s Monday

Guest BloggerFaith0 Comments

It is always intriguing to me how God shows me myself through His Word.  Oftentimes, when I read an account of someone’s life, a parable, or ANY verse in Proverbs – I see myself – not in the heroine – but in the counterpart opposite.  Take the account of Mary and Martha. Jesus and his posse were coming to dinner!  How exciting! How nerve-racking! How fun!  Martha loved Jesus and wanted everything to be perfect for Him.  She saw the enormity of the task and she jumped right into service for Him. The busy-ness and opportunity to create an event thrilled her! She got to make lists with her favorite pen, plan, decorate, facilitate. She found herself at the helm and secretly loved being the “go-to-gal” with all the answers.  Making decisions and bossing others suited her perfectly – it was her “gifting.” Multi-tasking was her middle name – her motto:  “Get-er-done…” Check. Check. Check. Except for that LAZY sister of hers – where was she anyway?  Well, we know, don’t we?  Hanging out at the feet of Jesus – avoiding the work that needed to be done.  Hmmph! Using the manipulative skill of a true martyr – Martha felt it her duty to inform Jesus of her personal … Read More

Is Jesus REALLY Enough?

Carol DunfeeFaith, Prayer & Fasting, Trials2 Comments

We sing at the top of our lungs. We raise our hands in worship, proclaiming the greatness of our God. We join with hundreds of others in worship of Jesus, the One who died and rose again to pay our sin-debt. Yet we are a bunch of hypocrites. We proclaim the wonders of our Savior on Sunday morning and then fret about the greatness of our problems the rest of the week. Five minutes after we sing that there is no stronger power than Jesus, we revert to worry about how we are going to meet the pressures of the coming week. Hold on. It’s time we get that emotional worship experience to sink deeper. We must let those words of praise and faith penetrate our minds and hearts, too. They must change our way of thinking, so that we no longer wallow in doubt, fear, and defeat. Recently, a friend encouraged several of us bloggers to remember the omnipotent power of Jesus’ name. She had us look up John 14:12-14… I have read these verses many times over the last several months. They really became alive for me when I went through Kim Erickson’s His Last Words twice during … Read More

Writing My Psalm

Jewel ZymurgyFaith1 Comment

The psalms to me are expressions of deep emotion. Raw unfiltered words giving voice to bitter trials and broken relationships—a place of crying out in faith in the middle of suffering. They are an expression of turning to God for refuge and comfort when there is nothing but fear. They are a beautiful encouragement of what it looks like to bow my heart with life changing sorrow…they are honest conversation with God in the most difficult parts of my journey. They are an outpouring of worship in authenticity, faith and His truth. As an exercise for the Redemption Immersion, I wrote my own psalm. I was encouraged to share my deepest sentiments on suffering, sin, repentance or praise.  My aim was to be real about where I was today, where I was in this moment. Sharing the truth of the things that I was thinking and pouring over. I didn’t have an agenda—I didn’t know if it would be a reflection of His justice, His presence, His Glory or a place of worshipful response. All I knew was that it was my heartfelt response to My God. My personal perspective of God’s grace, love and kindness toward me…in the middle of … Read More

I think I tripped you…

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Trials0 Comments

There’s a really good chance we’ve all done it. Sometimes we’ve done it on purpose, sometimes we’ve done it without knowing, but there’s a really good chance we’ve all done it. There’s a chance it happens more often these days, than it ever has before. There’s a chance I’ve done it to you. There’s a chance you’ve done it to me. And can I just say, I’m really sorry for it?! I might have done it to you when I talked about how amazing my husband is, or when I talked about the baby sleeping through the night. I might have done it to you when I talked about being able to bring the baby to work with me, or when I posted about my children’s grades. I might have done it to you when I posted about what we’re having for dinner, or when I shared pictures from vacations we’ve had. I might have done it when I posted projects I’ve completed, or pictures of my home. I might have done it when I posted pictures of my post baby figure, or when I shared publicly that I was pregnant. I might have done it when I posted about where … Read More

This Great Country

Jen CudmoreFaith, Holiday1 Comment

We live in a great country, where liberty is a comfortable way of life. We have plenty of clean drinking water and indoor plumbing. We can buy pretty much whatever we want from the grocery store. We have hundreds of different churches available for our worship preferences. We can publicly speak our mind on many topics. We can vote and get involved in politics to affect change. Yet today, I ponder how I’ve shown gratitude, or perhaps the lack of gratitude. I’ve been blessed with a home, a job, a family, and the ability to seek and enjoy my passions. In the pursuit of the American dream, have I lost sight of all that was sacrificed for our freedom, and what motivated that sacrifice? How often do I take my freedom and wealth for granted? The other day in a brief discussion with a friend, we bemoaned the inconvenience of only having one family car, and it gave me pause. So many families have a single vehicle, or none at all, and yet I was concerned about having to live that way for a few weeks. Humbled by my selfishness, I shot up a quick prayer of thanks to God … Read More

Set Your Gaze

Madison RosserFaith1 Comment

The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. Psalm 25:14 Every morning, I have the privilege of seeing my disciplined husband seek Jesus. He sits in His spot at the table, eating his every-day breakfast, feasting on the sweet words of God. I so admire this sincere practice of his. My mornings always look a little different. Here’s a snapshot of Monday: I had just returned from a last-minute trip to see my sister. I had woken up later than I planned. I had sat and read a book. I had scrolled through facebook. I had made a to-do list. I had drank all the coffee and skipped breakfast. I had gone on a run. I had started my ab workout. I would have just continued right along in the madness when God’s Spirit spoke to mine.  Not through His word, because I did not open it. Not through church, because I didn’t make it. Not through quiet reflection, because I sure wasn’t sitting still. The Bible talks about hearing God in a still, small whisper, but His words were pretty loud and clear to me Monday morning. I … Read More

A Little Comma

Carol DunfeeHoliday, Prayer & Fasting0 Comments

I generally like to fit in and fly under the radar. I don’t mind being different, but I don’t want to make a scene about it. So, when I noticed my dad saying the Pledge of Allegiance differently, I hoped no one else noticed. After all, why say it differently than the 500 other people in the building?? Everyone around him says, “One nation, under God, indivisible,” with a small pause at each comma. Dad removes one single comma. A little comma that changes everything. He says, “One nation, under God indivisible…” I asked him about it one time. He explained that you can’t separate America’s indivisibility from its relationship to God. America’s ability to remain a united nation is wholly dependent upon America’s choice to remain “under God”. By removing the comma, We recognize that without God’s grace, our nation is NOT indivisible. It is subject to being torn apart–from within and from without. We admit that our national security is dependent upon God, not politics or military might. We confess that God is not obligated to protect a nation that rejects Him. We acknowledge that God is sovereign. We humbly surrender our sins of arrogance and pride. As … Read More

Messy Moments

Jewel ZymurgyFaith, Redemption0 Comments

I love the perfect way that God meets me. This last weekend was a Redemption Immersion (a beautiful and intense healing conference based on the book of Exodus) and it was hands down amazing how God moved in my heart and mind. I went into the weekend knowing I was desperate to hear the heart and love of God and waited in expectation of what He had in store for me— I went into the weekend with tremendous pain and truth be told; a heart of willful unforgiveness. I left being utterly in awe of how God moves through those who love Him in my life. I hold dearly in this moment the tangible gifts of intimacy, acceptance and connection that opened the door for me to want to sit in a place of forgiving others in my life. Not because of guilt or sheer will or even because I wanted to appear good to the other ladies that I shared the small group with…but because of God’s love and truth that persistently pursued me in my stubbornness and woefully disheartened and shame-filled state. I was so afraid to show up and be real and admit that I harbored a … Read More

Marveling at Martha

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Trials, Womanhood0 Comments

The other night I stood in the kitchen with a fussy baby in one arm, while cooking dinner with the other. As I stood there I felt a temptation creep in. At that moment I felt tempted to take a picture of myself, then post it on social media as a way to toot my own horn so to speak. “Look at me, rocking this mom thing! I’m handling it all! Long day at work followed by making dinner for the family while holding a baby in one arm! I’ve got it all together. I’m rockin this mom thing!”    Some might think that it was silly that it was tempting for me to take a picture.  Some might not see anything wrong with posting something like that. Some post things like that on a regular basis for the world to see and admire (or envy) but the ironic thing is that I didn’t actually feel like I was “rockin this mom thing” at all. Truth be told, I felt like I was failing…big time!    That day I had overslept quite a bit, and was 15 minutes late to work. I went to work in the clothes I slept … Read More

Why Do We Stop?

Jen CudmoreFaith1 Comment

I didn’t mean to quit. It just wasn’t as fun as I thought, and I didn’t get the answers I wanted. Soon, I got busy. Distracted by other things. I lost interest because I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. So I stopped praying for my friend. I never thought of myself as a quitter, but it was right there in front of me, and for a while I didn’t let it bother me. Yet God kept nudging me, and finally after several months, I obeyed and got back to it. I didn’t really feel like it, but I knew I had to. My friend needed me. I couldn’t afford to be a quitter any longer. We’ve all quit at something, and it’s hard to face that reality sometimes. But it’s also necessary. If we pause for a moment to reflect and listen, we’ll see that God has been gently prompting us to get back to it. No condemnation, just encouragement to start again. Have you stopped praying about that one dream or problem? Have you stopped reading your Bible consistently? Have you stopped showing up to church or bible study regularly? Have you stopped serving in ministry or attending … Read More

BFFs or Mean Girls?

Carol DunfeeFaith, Womanhood1 Comment

The topic of friendship has come up quite often lately. My friend Rosalynn wrote about it here. Lisa TerKeurst wrote an entire study on it. Mom’s Night Out shows how moms need time-out for deeper friendships. Even the movie Mean Girls shows the dark side of so-called friendship. Having lived in six different states, I have had to develop my circle of kindred spirits multiple times. I have learned the hard way that some people have room in their lives for you and others don’t. Sometimes people are in a stage of life where they just can’t juggle one more relationship. Others were lonely like me, and we bonded instantly. Other people have no concept that they could even benefit from friendships outside their 20-year BFF’s. I really wish that I could have grown up near my grandparents and have nearby friends whom I have known since babyhood. It sounds so Norman-Rockwell-ish, but that’s not the life God gave me. Apparently He had something else for me to learn. I have spent enough time as the “new girl” to value the priceless friendships that come from my circle of kindred spirits. I have also experienced the discomfort of being on the … Read More

A Time of Testing

Jewel ZymurgyFaith, Trials1 Comment

For a time, I had been feeling as if life itself had knocked me down…brought me to my knees…and I didn’t know how to get up again. I didn’t gracefully fall and look around to see the people around me for the ones who would help me get back up again…I didn’t see the good things that were in store and trust that God had a plan for it all… I tripped and I fell hard. My arms were flailing and before I knew it, I was catching the pavement with my face. I thought things were going so well, my healing journey was steadily going upward and my relationships were becoming deeper. I was looking forward to what God had in store for my life…and then the winds of change began to blow me in a different direction than what I was ready for. Taking me to a place I wasn’t ready to travel and in my own fear and rage—I tried to halt the forward movement in that direction. I effectively exhausted myself making every effort to go my own direction and used up all my resources to try and make my life and my path look good … Read More