A Time of Testing

Jewel ZymurgyFaith, Trials0 Comments

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

Hoarding Grace

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Motherhood, Redemption0 Comments

Grace

Have you ever found yourself asking a question, knowing you didn’t want to know the answer? Asking the question was necessary, but the response had a realistic potential of being hard to hear? That was me yesterday. Yesterday wasn’t a very good day. If I could do the day over, I absolutely would, but if it hadn’t of been a bad day, I might not have learned what I needed to. Tensions have been high lately. We have a very sick kiddo (for almost 3 weeks now) who’s been missing school. I’ve missed a lot of work, money is tight, we’re not sleeping well, ministry has been frustrating, work has been stressful for both my husband and myself. Tensions have been high, and then they peaked yesterday via an argument on the way to work. I hate when days start like that. Thankfully they don’t happen often for us, but when they do it ruins the whole day. I don’t like being angry, but especially with my family, and I definitely don’t like it when someone is angry with me. After some important discussion, requests for forgiveness, and some reconciliation, I asked a hard question… “What can I do to … Read More

Did You Pray About That?

Jen CudmorePrayer & Fasting0 Comments

prayer

I don’t recall the specific situation; I just remember that I was mad. I marched over to where my friend was sitting and told her the details of what happened. Her words stopped me in my tracks and defused my emotions in about half a second. She raised an eyebrow as she regarded me. “Did you pray about that?” I gulped, then gave a nervous chuckle. “Well, not yet. It just happened.” I went back to my seat, sufficiently scolded that I had not taken my concerns to God first. That situation was the start of a new journey for me. I knew I was instructed in the Bible to pray without ceasing, but I had not been applying the concept. I began to recall many other situations where I got upset or worried rather than handing the burden over to my Savior. God wants to be part of our day, and more than just a genie who grants our wishes. He wants to be acknowledged and involved in everything we do. We sometimes forget that talking with God is an honor. We have direct access to the King of Kings! That’s something to get excited about! He devotes His … Read More

The Message and The Miracle

Heather GillisBible Study, Faith, Trials0 Comments

Have you ever gone through a hard time in your life and questioned is God even there? Or does he even care? Sometimes I’ve caught myself questioning God and His motives when I’m going through hard times. I question God ‘Why is this happening to me? Don’t you even care?’ Then He so tenderly reminds me, yes He does care more than I’ll ever know. In my struggle I realize I’m not the one waiting on God, He’s the one waiting on me. If I just opened my eyes to see what God is trying to show me, His creations are all around me. He has made the heavens, the earth and everything in it. He has already sent Jesus to die for us. Do I really need him to show me another sign of what He is capable of doing? My unbelief and doubt isn’t so far off from the Pharisees and the crowd Jesus fed. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, capture the life of Jesus, His ministry, His death and resurrection. Each gospel captures Jesus’ messages and miracles he performed. Jesus didn’t perform a miracle without there being a deeper message at hand. When a … Read More

Because I Am His

Beau HagertyWomanhood0 Comments

I was sitting in church in Phoenix, Arizona in August of 2015, and I felt more out of place than ever. It was an odd feeling for me as I had grown up a pastors daughter. In my child hood I slept between the pews as often as I slept in my own bed. So it was a foreign concept that I should feel out of place in church. I had just graduated high school and was attending my first year of college. I had been asked to help with the worship department of a new church plant in the city. I had met with the pastors and enthusiastically agreed to help but in my head I was groaning due to the suffocating obligation I felt to be a part of church ministry. The spring before I had just confided to my parents that I had been sexually abused, raped, by a family friend of ours for almost my entire time in high school. And I had just started my journey to healing. Looking back now I had no idea how in over my head I was about to be as I worked through the pain and hardship of overcoming … Read More

Finding Simplicity

Carol DunfeeMotherhood, Womanhood0 Comments

Simplicity. We long for it. Bloggers make a living writing about it. Authors sell thousands of books teaching us how to achieve it. I don’t know how it is in other cultures, but the life of an American woman is busy. There is never enough time to take care of the house, keep the children fed and educated, earn money, be a fantastic wife, and have personal space. I can keep the house somewhat presentable OR work on a project. I cannot do both. I can either earn the extra money to ease our budget OR I can be available on evenings and weekends for my husband and kids. I cannot do both of those, either. It’s easy to see why those simple living blogs are so popular! However, I don’t think I crave simplicity as much as I crave a haven for my soul–a knowledge that everything is under control. I long for a freedom to do what needs to be done, without leaving 100 other things undone. I hunger for the peace that beckons me from the other side of my unending to-do list…the list that is so long that three things get added for every single item … Read More

I Have 586 Friends, So Why Do I Feel So Alone?

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Uncategorized4 Comments

Night threatened to creep into another morning, and I sat in the stillness of that moment, phone in hand. It wasn’t the best decision I’ve ever made, but it’s something I often do, out of habit.  My family was sound asleep all around me, but instead of using my time wisely (for something incredible like sleeping) I scrolled, and scrolled, until the statuses rolling by, turned into tears that stung my cheeks. I have 586 friends, so why do I feel so alone? My newsfeed showed me things that left me feeling the exact opposite of the connections my heart so desperately longs for: Another group of friends, gathered joyously without me. Friends that live a mere 10 minutes away but haven’t so much as called in months. Maybe they don’t enjoy my company like they used to? Maybe I’m too different these days. Maybe I talk about myself too much, or complain too much to be fun anymore. Maybe that’s why they don’t respond to my texts or invitations. Maybe they have new best friends and the season of life that included our friendship has passed into something different? Another vacation we can never afford. Those people are somewhere warm, happy, … Read More

When You’re Terrified By God’s Plan

Jen CudmoreFaith, Womanhood1 Comment

I never wanted to be a manager. Managers have a lot of responsibility. They deal with many conflicts. They put in long hours and get interrupted on their free time. I never thought the extra money and authority worth all the trouble. Since I never had intentions to pursue management, when a position at the office opened up a few weeks back and I felt God nudge me to apply, I was less than thrilled. This was not the direction my life was supposed to go. I had other plans, and they didn’t include a day job. I’m a writer and a teacher. That’s always been God’s call on my life. Why would He now take me a totally different direction? Although confused, I mustered up some excitement for this new venture and submitted my resume. As I waited for a response, I struggled to understand God’s intentions. Until now, I had a clear path and purpose. How could going into management possibly fit into the future He’d already shown me? How could I serve and teach if I was caught up at the office all week long? How could I work all day and still follow the passion He … Read More

7 Kind People Who Have Made a Godly Difference

Heather GillisFaith, Uncategorized0 Comments

Kindness.  It is something that touches our hearts and changes lives deeply.   Kindness empowers others to be the difference and speaks volumes to those who receive it.  When I think of kindness I think of some of the people in the Bible.   The 7 Kindest People in the Bible 7.  Niccodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:38-42)–  These two men are known for preparing Jesus’s dead body for burial after he was crucified.  These two men risked losing their family, their religion, their status and their friends all to show their love for Jesus.  Even though Jesus was crucified as a criminal, they wanted to give him a burial of a king.  Joseph even gave Jesus his own personal tomb! Their loving kindness was all apart of God’s plan. 6.  Pharaoh’s Daughter (Exodus 2:5-10)-  She is known for saving baby Moses from the river when he was laying in the reed basket.  Even though she knew he was a Hebrew baby (which her father ordered to have killed) she still took him in as her own son to raise and care for him. 5.  Joseph (Genesis 37:12-36)-  Joseph is known for being sold into slavery by his 11 brothers. … Read More

The Challenge of Motherhood, Part 2

Carol DunfeeBible Study, Faith, Motherhood0 Comments

Today’s society gives us so many short-cuts for raising our children. We can park them in front of a movie for an hour or two of quiet. We give them electronic devices to keep them entertained on road trips. Local churches offer many good children’s programs to teach our kids about God. Local day camps offer instruction and play so we can work. Honestly, I’m grateful for these tools! I need a little quiet time to maintain my sanity. Constant questions and bickering can threaten my ability to be calm and collected. I love that other adults speak God’s truth into my children’s hearts. Even as I struggle with the tendency to idolize my children (as we discussed in Part 1), I need help. But if I’m not careful, I will rely too heavily on these surrogate parents. While my kids need outside entertainment and the discipleship of our local church, I cannot allow these good things to substitute my role in their lives. God gave the primary role of instruction to parents. While it’s nice to have help, the primary job of teaching children belongs to their parents. We cannot expect to relinquish our responsibilities and still see good results. Just a … Read More

Because of the Goodness of God…

Jewel ZymurgyFaith, Motherhood0 Comments

God Good

As of late I’ve had the opportunity to ponder on the effects of some of the decisions and choices that I’ve made. It started because of being asked to step into an interactive role with customers at work. In doing so, God granted me the gift of seeing many different people. Some who have moved in and out of my life in a quick and superficial manner. Others who have spoken truth and love in times when I knew that only God heard my heart cry. Those interactions got me to think back on some of the relationships that I have held on to—some (more recently) have been life giving, honoring, full of loving words, challenges and truth…and others have led to heartache, pain, betrayal and unbelievable loss. As I reflect on the latter—there is a common thread that ran through those relationships that until now, I had been unwilling to admit. Those relationships were outside of God’s Will…not only did I know that they were outside of the Will of God; I held onto them as if my life depended on having that relationship, which was unhealthy or just plain bad for me…forcing the result to be more pain! … Read More

Stand Firm: Guard Your Heart

Jen CudmoreFaith0 Comments

“You change your life by changing your heart.” – Max Lucado Over the past several Tuesdays, we’ve been studying what it means to stand firm in our faith. We reviewed the armor of God, reinforced the power of prayer, encouraged total surrender to God, and discussed maintaining proper focus. The Bible warns us to guard our hearts because the springs of life start there (Prov 4:23). The Bible also warns that our hearts are deceitful and wicked – only God can truly understand them (Jer 17:9-10) To guard our hearts is to set boundaries for ourselves. When we’re out of balance, we’re more easily led astray. Our faith slackens to a lukewarm temperature. We sink into apathy and complacency, or worse, total turning away from our faith. Setting limits is imperative if we’re going to stand firm. We need to set: Boundaries on our flesh. We’re born with a sinful nature, which means we tend to think about ourselves and what feels good in the moment. These impulses toward instant gratification can be anything from eating too much food (or the wrong kinds of foods) to spending above our financial means to staying up too late at night (or sleeping … Read More

Where Do Unanswered Prayers Go?

Heather GillisFaith, Prayer & Fasting0 Comments

I don’t know about you but I have thought about this question many times.  There have been many prayers I have prayed my whole life, God still hasn’t answered.  Does that mean he doesn’t care?  Does it mean God isn’t listening?  I pray this post encourages you to know that God indeed is listening and he cares and loves you very much. I have heard many say ‘God didn’t answer my prayer, that must mean he doesn’t love me.’  Even though it may be true God doesn’t answer all of our prayers the way we want him to, he isn’t a genie in the bottle waiting to grant our every wish.  God doesn’t work that way.  He is our Father who loves us, who knows what is best for us, who sees the bigger picture and has the best plan ever for our lives.  To not answer our prayers may mean that God has something better waiting ahead. When our third child was born with a fatal kidney disease, my husband and I prayed for God to please heal our son and for him not to suffer anymore.   We had so many people praying for healing for him.  The day he … Read More

Perspective from the Mountains

Madison RosserFaith0 Comments

We are so lucky to be guarded by mountains of might in every direction here in Anchorage.  I have always called the ones out my East Anchorage windows “mine” as if they belonged to me. The truth is, I have climbed only a few– but this sunny week, my husband and I hiked a new-to-us trail, and I feel like the claim “mine” is a little more true. It’s fascinating to me how the view of a mountain is so different than from a mountain. Especially on new trails, the trail seems to grow longer and higher as I hike onward towards that ever-elusive summit. With each wind, turn, and new landing, I have to get my bearings again, reorienting myself. What do I see? How far to the top? Catch my breath. Convince myself not to turn my long-hibernated-winter lungs and body around before reaching the goal. I cannot be out in God’s grand creation without thinking about how He sees things. He is the Mountain Maker and Mover, after all. He sees the mountain from every angle, and all the rest of the beautiful landscapes He has created. His perspective sees the whole picture. Life is full of trails … Read More

The Challenge of Motherhood, Part 1

Carol DunfeeBible Study, Faith, Motherhood, Womanhood0 Comments

Motherhood is complicated. It is the hardest job. It is the most rewarding job. Too often, we make this tough job even harder. We sabotage ourselves by falling into age-old traps common to every mother in history. Have you ever noticed that every single child was born AFTER Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden? The consequences of their sin has affected every mother in history! Not a single mother gave birth before the curse of sin. Pain. And more pain. The King James Version of the Bible translates the word “pain” as “sorrow”. The first use of the word “sorrow” in this verse is the Hebrew word, itstsabown. It means labor, toil, and suffering. Those who have experienced or witnessed childbirth can definitely attest to the intense pain involved! Even pregnancy is filled with pain and discomfort. According to Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, this word indicates bodily or mental pain. Curiously, the Lexicon’s first definition is “an idol”. The second use of “sorrow” in this verse is from the Hebrew word, etseb. It also carries the meaning of pain, sorrow, and hardship related to an “earthen vessel”. Interestingly enough, this word can also be translated as “idol”. (Jeremiah 22:28.) God used two … Read More

Response in the Struggle

Jewel ZymurgyFaith, Prayer & Fasting, Redemption1 Comment

What is the proper response when I hear my own thoughts asking, “what am I to do if things stay the way they are today…am I always going to feel this lonely, this sad, this empty, this hopeless…what would happen if I just gave up…” I wrestle through the times that my thinking is brings me down and I am desperate to know when the struggle will end. When my emotions get the best of me and I find myself feeling as if things will never change…that I may be stuck in the sadness and tire of the fight. A significant part of me really does feel bad to entertain thoughts of giving up. I feel guilty because I know some of the verses that I needed to echo in order to repeat truth and the honest answer to that dilemma is…in and of myself, I didn’t have the strength to keep reminding myself of the truth. In my weakness and weariness I long for release from the pain…I am exhausted from the hurt that keeps me company. It feels like an unwanted guest that has overstayed its welcome. I feel irritable and impatient. I no longer looked at the … Read More

A critical eye

Rosalynn LasleyTrials0 Comments

This week I was reminded again, that I have a lot of work to do. The reminder came on Monday afternoon while I was waiting to check-in for an appointment at the pediatricians office. The office we visit has a check-in counter right inside the front door. As I walked in there was a woman at the counter being checked in, so I stood back in my best effort to give her some privacy while I waited my turn. The receptionists verify information during check-in such as your name, your relationship to the child, your current mailing address, phone number, and type of insurance. While the other woman was checking in I admired her appearance. She was wearing adorable designer jeans that happened to be my favorite brand. She had on nice shoes (also my favorite brand) and a beautiful handbag. I noticed the nice way she wore her hair.  She looked well kept and so did the child that was with her. Although I stood as far back as I could in an effort to give them privacy, I couldn’t help but overhear when the receptionist asked about her insurance. At that moment I went from admiring her to … Read More

Stand Firm: Maintain Proper Focus

Jen CudmoreFaith1 Comment

“In our world, where hundreds of things distract us from God, we have to intentionally and consistently remind ourselves of Him.” Francis Chan, Crazy Love In our series on Standing Firm, we’ve covered the armor of God, the power of prayer, and surrendering to the Lord. Another way to stand firm is to stay positive and keep focused on God’s truth. Too often we’re sidetracked by how we feel, both physically and mentally. If we live life based on how we feel, then we won’t succeed at much of anything. And our selfish hearts keep our focus on our own needs and wants. The Bible says to capture our thoughts and make them obedient to Christ.  I’ve heard it said this way: we must think about what we’re thinking about. The battle truly is in the mind. We need to learn to sort though our thoughts, clear out the junk, and grab onto what we know to be good, true and healthy. (Phil 4:8) Most of the time we’ll discover that our minds are focused on ourselves. To stand firm, we must intentionally direct our thoughts to other things. Count your blessings (focus on goodness). Unfortunately this task has become … Read More

7 Things The Enemy Can Never Change

Heather GillisBible Study, Faith, Redemption, Trials0 Comments

Lately, it seems everywhere I look I see the enemy reeking havoc in this world.  I see his relentless attacks on marriages and relationships.  There is nothing holding the enemy back from targeting our children, the helpless, the vulnerable.  The enemy has been coming on fierce and strong using all tactics to carry out his evil plan to make us believe his lies.  Sometimes I fall victim to what the enemy is trying to do.  I become weak and weary from fighting against his evil schemes. Then God reminds me, there is nothing the enemy can do to ever change what He has already done for us.  We can rest in His plan, that one day there will be no more sorrow, or pain that we can rejoice because of what He has done for us (Rev. 21:4). God reminds me in my weariness, that my fight isn’t against flesh and blood, but against all the powers of this dark world (Eph. 6:12).  He tells me to keep fighting the right fight with my prayers, not my weak self.  He tells me to keep standing firm in his truth;  it will protect and provide me with peace. No matter how bad things get in this … Read More

Decisions, Decisions

Carol DunfeeFaith0 Comments

Do you remember the first major decision you ever made on your own? My first memorable decision happened in my senior year of high school when I had to decide which college to attend. I was a typical teen, thinking I knew much more than I did…but this decision baffled me. I knew that the college I chose would affect the trajectory of the rest of my life. I struggled with the pros and cons of each college. I wondered how much my friends’ college choices should affect me. How on earth could I forsee the future enough to make the right choice. My dad came to my rescue. No, he didn’t choose for me, although I almost wished he would. But he gave me advice that I still follow today. I’m no longer worried about what college to attend, but these steps have helped my husband and I decide which car to buy, which job to take, where to live, and more. This advice even helped me choose to marry my husband! Research as much as possible. If you are looking at buying a house, research the local market. Talk to people in different neighborhoods. Listen to your realtor. Examine every finance option. … Read More