His Arms

Jewel ZymurgyFaith, Motherhood, TrialsLeave a Comment

Words. I love words. I love the impact of them. The beauty of them—the way they can express and build and create and honor… So, I was taken by surprise today, not by convicting words that pointed to wisdom and truth… But by the invitation of open arms and a hug that accepted me right where I was—hurting and afraid. There isn’t a time that I get to attend a Beauty For Ashes Conference when my heart isn’t rendered wrecked at the truth of the brokenness that is a part of past hurts, both mine and those I journey with during the week, and this time is no exception. Though this day, I was brought to tears at being made profoundly aware of the painful gulf between the things that I truly experienced…and the heartbreak of knowing that it was so utterly different than the way I wish it would have been… I was tired. I hadn’t slept well the night prior. It was late when I laid down to sleep and even then, I woke several times in the night to a lingering nightmarish thought that someone had entered into my living space by invitation of my daughter. I … Read More

My Lumber Mill

Rosalynn LasleyMotherhoodLeave a Comment

I’ve been a mother for over 10 years now, and I can honestly say, I think I was a better parent before I had kids. My perfect parenting ideas came with perfect children. The ideas came with smooth routines, scheduled bedtimes, full nights of sleep, organic and home cooked meals. My ideas included a meticulously clean home (and vehicle) children who admired me and obeyed. I had this parenting thing completely figured out… until I became a mom.  If you opened the door to my car right now, you’d have a pretty good idea of what hell might smell like. Sulfer and brimstone anyone? Actually, it’s just the lingering scent of popcorn my kids left in the car over the weekend. I don’t know if I’ll ever get that smell out and that definitely contradicts the meticulous idea I had.  There have been lots of things over the last 10 years that have contradicted my idea of what parenting would be like for me.  Our first child was born just a few weeks before I turned 21. Although we were young, she was a planned baby and we were intentional about her little life on this earth. There hasn’t been much … Read More

5 Reasons to Attend a Women’s Conference

Jen CudmoreFaith, Womanhood1 Comment

Several of us on the ACWM team just returned from the LifeWay Women’s Leadership Forum in Nashville, and we all had an amazing time! As I meditate on all I learned last week, I feel overwhelmed with joy over the experience. We each encountered God in a fresh, meaningful way. How I wish all women could attend such a conference! So this morning, let me encourage you to consider the benefits of attending a retreat or conference – aside from the fact that it’s just plain fun! While I have heard a few women indicate that such a thing is not for them (because they are not a leader, because its not their personality, because they can’t afford it, etc.), I believe every woman who loves the Lord would benefit from attending, and here is why. 1. Comfort Zones: New experiences make us braver. As believers, getting uncomfortable stretches us and makes us better people. Every Bible character we read about had to do something that required courage in order to build their faith. Leaving home for a new adventure, sleeping in a new place, driving in a strange town, talking with multiple strangers – it pushes us to be … Read More

Veteran’s Day at the Cracker Barrel

Jen CudmoreFaith, HolidayLeave a Comment

The conference had ended, and we were hungry. On our way to lunch, we got stuck in traffic, so while we waited, we said a prayer about our travel plans home from Nashville. We knew the enemy would stalk us and try to steal our joy as we each returned to our holy callings and responsibilities. Little did we know, that pause for prayer would bring us a blessing and a friend in the form of a Vietnam Vet. We decided to gather at the Cracker Barrel, since we don’t have one in Alaska. Our waitress was a sweet young lady who had recently adopted her nephew. As she settled us at the table and collected orders, an older gentleman came in, and we couldn’t help but notice his Veteran shirt and hat. Our waitress hugged him, and we were each moved by their tender interactions. She seated him at a table beside ours. Small talk turned into stories and an invitation to sit with us. He seemed just as fascinated by us as we were with him. He mentioned his 30 years of military service, and that he had spent some time at the base in Kodiak. While we … Read More

God’s Friendship

Madison RosserFaithLeave a Comment

Any given day brings me about eight million opportunities to completely lose my mind. I am not what people would call a“chill” person. I like to be in control. You know, have my day go exactly according to my plans. Is that too much to ask? Apparently, it is. Not a day goes by that goes exactly as planned. If only I had learned to loosen my grasp by now. I am so thankful for God’s patience with me and my control issues. I believe God can work with me, at least that’s what He says. Lately, I’ve felt him chiseling away, molding me into a person with open hands, ready to receive what He has for me. (Keep in my mind, only this past Thursday did I break down in tears after a day gone wrong.) My pastor preached a sermon several weeks ago, focusing on Psalm 25. I’ll include some of the highlights, mashed together, below. But seriously, you should read the whole Psalm. Definitely worth your time. 1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, in you I trust    let me not be put to shame;    let not my … Read More

When People Let You Down

Carol DunfeeFaithLeave a Comment

I wanted to punch something. My daughter was again being ignored. Two best friends had no room for her unless it was to bring them something they didn’t feel like getting themselves. She sensed it, but tried to be brave. I finally stepped in and pulled her away for some mama-loves, away from the girls who acted like she was irrelevant to them. Then there was the time we were so bruised and battered by a “good”, growing church that I never wanted to attend church again. We were chased off and punished for not fitting a predetermined mold–a mold that wasn’t even Biblical. Even when we left, they pursued us. It’s inevitable. We will be hurt by people–people we love, respect, and admire. They will hurt us to our core, not even realizing what they are doing.. Even worse, they will hurt our kids. We will watch our children be rejected, ignored, and belittled, no matter how popular they are. How do we recover from this kind of soul hurt? How do we forgive and move on? We must take care of our focus to keep these injuries from weighing us down. Let people be people. So often we … Read More

Beautiful Reminders

Jewel ZymurgyFaith, RedemptionLeave a Comment

Sitting with Gwen, I was reminded of a time when I got to see where Jesus was in my past–when I hadn’t believed that God was with me at all. One of those incredible moments was a time when Sue walked with me into the darkness of my past– she loving helped me enter into a painful time that had a warped and drastically shaped me; a time that had plagued my dreams and left me feeling broken and abandoned. A time when hope was ripped away from me so completely that I felt like the only good response was too shut myself away… a time when the most logical thing to do was to close my heart to trusting people and to shut myself off to believing there was anything good to live for. I was already too tired, enduring day to day, to keep on fighting and hoping in something that I didn’t live. The circumstances in my life felt like they were crushing me and I fought to breathe in anything that seemed good. There was no hope for joy – there was only existence. As I began believing that I was too broken to fix I … Read More

What It Really Means To Not Be Ashamed

Jen CudmoreFaithLeave a Comment

I always thought being unashamed was bold evangelism. Wearing our Christian T-shirts and jewelry out in public. Truthfully speaking up when someone asks our religion. It seems I was wrong – it’s much more than that. Over the past few months, God has been challenging me about being a good example of Christ. During my prayer time the other morning, He brought the phrase “not ashamed of the gospel” to mind. Not surprising, since it’s one thing I’ve been praying each week over the students I work with. His whisper to my heart was quite convicting: Before He could answer my prayer for the youth, I needed to be truly unashamed about my own relationship with Him. Then others would follow. His words seemed odd, because I thought I was already unashamed. Turns out, I really didn’t know myself like I thought. Because when He asked me to lay prostrate in the parking lot that day, I was embarrassed. When He asked me to ignore all the other people in the sanctuary and simply enjoy His music, I was embarrassed. When He asked me to raise my hands in praise as I walked around the building, I was embarrassed. When … Read More

Praise God for Pink Eye!

Carol DunfeeFaithLeave a Comment

Ever had one of those weeks where EVERYTHING went wrong? That was me last week. It started late Sunday afternoon. Our oldest daughter came running into the house holding her finger, while the other two kids trailed behind her yelling, “She’s hurt! She’s hurt!” Somehow, a poorly landed handstand had ended with one knee smashing a finger into the concrete, ripping a huge tear in one of her violin string-fingers. The sight of the torn flesh made me queasy. My husband took over and before long announced that the cut was bad enough to warrant a trip to the ER. I was due to be at worship team practice in a few minutes, but off to the ER we went instead. A couple hours later, our daughter and I returned home with a heavily bandaged finger that thankfully was neither broken nor stitched nor glued. Now, Mondays are our busiest days. The kids attend their local homeschool co-op, where I lead an afternoon class. Following that, we have other extra-curricular activities that just happen to fall on manic Monday. So imagine my disgust when I woke up with a stuffy nose and mildly sore throat. “Oh great!” I thought to … Read More

Rocked By Insecurity

Jewel ZymurgyFaithLeave a Comment

These past couple of weekends I allowed the old familiar tapes of doubt and fear to play and replay over and over again in my mind. There were situations that had come up with my daughter that really, as I look back at them now, can be described as fairly normal teenage growing points…and they had gained space in that oh-so-negative place my brain that looked at situations through the lens of fear and past hurts rather than health and truth. However, because I recognized that in reference to this relationship (that means so incredibly much to me) that I was utterly failing—I began applying that feeling of failure to more and more places and relationships in my life. The mental message seemed almost inconsequential at first. The idea of “I’m not good enough” seemed both familiar and insignificant enough that I hardly gave it a thought and in what I thought was my own determination, just brushed it away. But like the dripping of a leaky faucet, the constant trickling soon became an issue that I could ignore no longer. Before long that message had managed to permeate throughout the corners of my mind. There I began to notice … Read More

Why Bother

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, TrialsLeave a Comment

I’ve had a bit of a bad attitude lately. It’s hard to admit that, but it’s true. I’ve felt defeated, discouraged, and simply like “why do I even bother?!” (I’ve even said that outloud.) I’ve attempted kindness and grace only to have it discarded. I’ve attempted courtesy and just had it overlooked. I’ve attempted to try harder, do more than what was asked if me, but it was only to have my efforts completely dismissed. It’s hard to have a good attitude when that happens. Have you felt that way lately? Have you felt like you’re doing the best you can, really giving it all you have and either no one notices, no one cares, or it doesn’t change the circumstances one bit? Do you have the “why bother” attitude like me? While in the midst of my pity party and bad attitude, God reminded me of why I need to bother, and why I need to do my best to have a good attitude while doing it. But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take … Read More

Radical Obedience: When Loving God Is Hard

Jen CudmoreFaithLeave a Comment

Is ‘disappointed’ the right word for how I feel? I stand still in the shower, water as hot as I can handle, and let my tears mingle with the spray. Leaning my head against the tile, I try to keep quiet so my family won’t notice. Because they couldn’t possibly understand how alone I am. I try to pray and let You hold me. You see my struggle to put feelings into words and You wait patiently as  my jumbled thoughts come out in spurts. I just don’t understand. You’ve asked me to do some pretty radical things, and yet so far, nothing good seems to come of it. Why have You challenged me with these things? What is the purpose of my looking so foolish in front of others? This year You’ve put me in some very uncomfortable situations, prodding me out of my comfort zone and calling me to be courageous. But I don’t feel any closer to You. I don’t see the beauty in it. I don’t feel anything special. Right now I don’t get how these things achieve anything for the Kingdom. You’re so patient as I speak my concerns. It’s not that I’m resentful, or … Read More

The Mistakes of My Mouth: REDEEMED

Carol DunfeeFaithLeave a Comment

Our words have great power. With them we can encourage or discourage. We can bring the light of praise or the darkness of harsh criticism. We can build up or we can tear down. We can foster spiritual life or death with our words. There are so many GOOD things God wants us to do with our tongues: Praise God’s righteousness (Psalm 35:28) Speak wisdom and justice (Psalm 37:30) Sing of God’s Word (Psalm 119:72) Cry out to God (Psalm 66:17) Shout with joy over God’s great works (Psalm 126:2) Bring life with gentle words (Proverbs 15:4) Patiently persuade rulers (Proverbs 25:15) And then there is my personal favorite: With all the good things our words can accomplish, it is no wonder that the enemy seeks to attack our mouths! If he can get us so wrapped up in selfishness and jealousy that we spew ugly, angry words, then he has completely kept us from our intended mission. God intended for us to speak life to a dying world, but we allow Satan to thwart our destiny. But there is hope. We CAN overcome this destructive sin through repentance, surrender, and worship. We must become angry over our missed destiny. … Read More

The Importance Of Sharing Your Story

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Trials, UncategorizedLeave a Comment

I chose a seat at the front of the room, instead of the podium that was set in place for me.  I had known about this day, months in advance, but being the center of attention makes me uncomfortable no matter the circumstances.  I chose to sit instead of stand in the presence of my peers, because it made me feel like one of the ladies, rather than the focus of the day.  Immediately upon arriving, I requested the glider rocker that was placed in the back of the room. My request was denied because although I was their guest speaker, apparently I’m not THAT important.  The rocker was reserved for nursing mothers, and nursing mother I am not.  I decided that in lieu of nursing a baby that wasn’t mine, or standing at a podium that made me feel more important than I actually am (not important enough for the comfy chair, nor important enough for the podium) I settled on the uncomfortable folding chair. That dinky chair seemed more appropriate, and less uncomfortable that the other two options.  That chair ended up being my “just right” bowl of porridge (although I actually prefer cereal.)   I grabbed a tissue from the brand new box I had placed at my … Read More

The Stirring, The Longing, The Awakening

Jen CudmoreFaithLeave a Comment

“I feel it in my bones – You’re about to move…” They say during autumn, the air is crisp. And it’s true. I breathe it in deep, savoring the fresh smells of the morning. The chill nips at my skin as the sky lightens with the sun. Golden leaves drift over the ground, flipping and fluttering in the breeze. All around, I can feel something stirring. It’s the sweet treasure of autumn. And it’s the anticipation of You. I think if how You yearn to come to us. Your Word says that You come to rescue us from sin and bondage. That You come when we call for help in times of trouble. That You come when Your people lift their voice in praise. That You come when to us we ask, seek and knock. But this longing … it’s different. You’ve already rescued so many of us from sin. You’ve answered cries for help. You’ve gloried in our praise. You’ve answered our prayers. And we are grateful! Yet You desire more for us. Your bridegroom heart beats wild! I see You pacing, patient and yet impatient. Ever waiting, ever watching, ever wishing to break free. The Great Lion of … Read More

The Mistakes of My Mouth: EXPOSED

Carol DunfeeFaithLeave a Comment

When our oldest was about 10 months old, I slipped while carrying her down stairs, landing on her tiny leg. She cried for a bit, but cheered up with a bath and a little ice cream. However, if she put any weight on her leg, she screamed in pain. We rushed her off to the emergency room where they performed x-rays on her tiny body. They found nothing wrong. We drove back home and put her to bed, but the next morning, she still wailed any time she put weight on her leg. Obviously, something WAS wrong. That morning, we took her to her pediatrician, who ordered more x-rays, finding a tiny dent-like fracture. The orthopedist put her in a cast for three weeks. While it may have delayed her walking for a bit, she was as good as new at the end of her three weeks. Our daughter obviously had an injury. We could have treated the pain with Tylenol, but that would have caused a long-term problems with an untreated fracture. Instead, we kept searching until we found the cause of her pain. When we found the cause, we were able to treat it. Isn’t this just like … Read More

Freedom in Soccer

Jewel ZymurgyFaithLeave a Comment

My daughter has always enjoyed the sport of soccer. I remember vividly the first season she played on a team. She had always been a scrappy little chick who ran her heart out which makes me smile as I think back on that time as she first joined team sports. She was on a recreational (a “just for fun”) all-girls team and since she was in single digits and it being the first time she played on a team, it was chaotic to say the least. I have a history of playing soccer in my past so I quite enjoyed watching as my child seemed to have the energy and reserve of an atomic energizer bunny as she chased down the ball and/or tried to score. Just remembering that time makes me laugh. However, being as young as they were it was basically a free-for-all where ever the ball happened to be. There was a lot of pushing, there were many tears and many, many times when the kids would grab the ball with their hands and throw it. Often after one of those mentioned offenses, a child would look over to their parents on the sidelines with a hurt … Read More

When Jesus Finally Made Sense To Me

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Motherhood, Trials1 Comment

Months of planning had gone into one little camping trip with friends.  It seems so silly to plan months in advance to sleep outside on the dirt, but Alaskan summers are something we long for, and time off from work is much desired during the season where the sun doesn’t set.  If you want to take a day off in the summer time, you must ask long ahead of time, otherwise you’ll blink and it will be dark and snowy again.  A two hour drive, deep into the woods was on our agenda, and I looked forward to nothing more than a raging bonfire, and s’mores shared with some of the best people I have ever know. There’s just something about quality time spent with incredible people around a fire, that renews my soul.   It was the weekend before our big camping trip when I started to miscarry. Suddenly this trip we had planned so far ahead of time, seemed a little less ideal for me.  I didn’t want to deal with that out in the middle of the woods. I didn’t want to be a mess physically or emotionally in front of anyone. I didn’t want to be away from home.  My home is my … Read More