When To Express An Opinion

Jen CudmoreFaith0 Comments

Last week I wrote about how opinions cause division. In most cases, giving our opinion ends badly and just creates tension in relationships. Yet there are a few situations where it’s valuable to speak up: When another person may be harmed if we don’t intervene, such as confronting sin. In many of these situations, it may be the Holy Spirit prompting us to speak, in which case it’s not us sharing an opinion, but speaking the truth of the Lord. (More on this next week!) When someone is seeking advice and is genuinely interested in what we have to say. Sometimes people get stuck in a situation, and just need a word of wisdom or inspiration. When someone challenges us to a conversation. Sometimes a congenial debate (when handled respectfully) is healthy, giving us a broader view of an issue and helping us see another perspective.   So how do we know when we ought to speak up?   Before we express our opinion, it’s best to pause and review if we should: Check heart motivation. Why do we feel the need to speak our mind? If we’re honest with ourselves, we know when we’re acting with selfish intent. If … Read More

Why Read Your Bible

Guest BloggerBible Study, Faith0 Comments

Is it really that important to read my Bible? You may have wondered this question and the answer is a loud: YES! Why? Because God guides our every step when we read the Bible. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105) When we create a daily routine that includes Bible passages, we invite God to show us the way. We admit that we are humans, children of the One True God, in need of His wisdom and protection.  And we obey what He has commanded us to do over all things: Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38) If we have too many activities in our day-to-day lives that keep us from our Bible reading, we are unable to do our basic function: love God. Some of the things that keep us from God are actually distractions the enemy throws at us in the shape of “sweet candy” or “innocent entertainment.” But anything that keep us from spending time with God, even if it is a good thing, hampers our relationship with Him. We need … Read More

Gear Up: TRUTH

Carol DunfeeBible Study, Faith, Prayer & Fasting0 Comments

Have you ever watched a toddler dress himself? Socks go on backwards. Underwear ends up on his head. Pants are inside out. It’s really quite entertaining, until you have to leave the house! His clothing would function much better if he could only put it on properly. What if we are putting on our spiritual armor inside out and backwards? Have you ever wondered if we are wearing our gospel-shoes on the wrong feet? What if we have the wrong grip on our swords? I can imagine that God often chuckles at my own fumbling attempts to wear my spiritual armor. He must shake his head as I try to wrap my brain around these strange concepts. Many Bible teachers focus on the items themselves: the sword, the shield, the helmet, etc. This summer I became curious about what I would learn if I studied the armor from a different perspective. What if I focused on what each of those pieces represents rather than the word picture? What if I ask how truth affects spiritual warfare rather than focusing on the belt? Maybe it would only be a minor difference, but I felt like I needed to find out. According … Read More

Speaking to Me Through Isaiah 41:9-10

Jewel ZymurgyFaith0 Comments

My prayer as I sat in readiness for what God has for me— God please help me to be more sensitive to your presence and what your heart desires for me. I know that you are good—help me to focus on what you have for me. I read the verses…I read it slowly. So many phrases seemed like they pushed themselves off the page. Isaiah 41:9-10 “I brought you from the ends of the earth and called you from its farthest corners. I said to you: You are my servant; I have chosen you and not rejected you. Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” Brought you from the ends of the earth Called you God says I am His servant I have chosen you I have not rejected you Do not fear I am with you Do not be afraid I am your God I will strengthen you I will help you I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand God…these phrases touch my heart…help me understand … Read More

How Sharing Our Opinion Actually Creates Division

Jen CudmoreFaith0 Comments

I’m glad I wasn’t standing nearby when the comment was made. I heard about it later, and the Mama Bear in me got pretty riled up. You see, my son was telling a friend a church that he’d recently joined the military, and our friend didn’t seem thrilled. When my son mentioned that his accomplishments would land him a nice paycheck, the sharp reply “there is more to life than money” only served to make my son and my husband (and later me) disinterested in pursuing that friendship any longer. That same day, I heard two other people discussing what a current high school senior ought to do when she graduates. I could see on her face that she wasn’t really listening, and honestly, I had gotten the impression that she’d already put a lot thought into her future. I found myself trying to interject and change the subject. These situations got me thinking about how often we voluntarily offer our opinions to others. Why do we feel so inspired to tell others what they ought to say or do? Looking back on myself, as a firstborn and bossy sister, I’ve had a lot of opinions to share with my … Read More

Why You Shouldn’t Trust People

Guest BloggerFaith0 Comments

You think you know a person and start relying on him or her. You expect things to be done or said, and assume they will know when and how to fulfill what you hope for. But before you know it, life happens and disappointment hits you like cupid, except it breaks your heart. Does this sound familiar? I have been there more times than I care to admit! The problem is not necessarily that they are “bad” people who choose to betray your trust. The issue is often that they are human! Yes, they are not perfect, as neither are we. But what do we do when we get our feelings hurt? Of course it depends what kind of wrong has been done to us. There are things that truly cannot be easily “brushed under the rug.” There are times we must truly move on from relationships that are just too unhealthy for us. But before you quickly become offended and choose to withdraw (with reason or not), I invite you to consider how sometimes sin overpower us. You may say, but, I would have never done this to this person! Or, I have done so much good for him/her. Perhaps, you … Read More

Be My Vision

Madison RosserFaith0 Comments

I am the queen of discontent. Perhaps you can relate. I have so much, but somehow, I always find myself wanting more. More exotic travel. More food and coffee. More clothes. More things. More adventures. More picture perfect moments that fit into a square for the world to see. Apparently this is a struggle of my generation, or perhaps all generations. This summer, I have been thinking about the things I desire and have asked myself, “What in my life promotes and shapes my desires and my vision for my life? Does this vision line up with God’s vision for my life?” The answer stands out rather clearly. Social media most often (not always, of course, especially when people are honest) paints pictures of ease or excitement. While people do use social media as a platform to celebrate the mundane, we can filter (literally) even the mundane moments to make them look magnificent, like there is always something more to be had in life that could be ours if we just took one more vacation, decorated that last corner of our house, or bought that new outfit. We can even spiritualize this prettified world by posting pictures of our peaceful devotional while sipping coffee from … Read More

Success

Guest BloggerFaith0 Comments

Success. It used to be a familiar word to me. I was confident, but I didn’t know I was also arrogant. I was wounded severely by growing up extremely overweight. When I lost a significant amount of that weight in high school, it was just physical weight. The emotional burden was still very present, even if I didn’t know it. And, like all holes aching to be filled, it didn’t manifest itself demurely. I just had more energy to try to prove my worth through every outlet that I could. I succeeded in high school, and opportunities came rolling in…big opportunities. But a lot of stuff went down, and I basically tried to punish myself, for an increasing number of reasons. I had everything going for me, and I kept throwing it away, hurting everyone I loved in the process. I didn’t really do it on purpose, but it felt appropriate. I didn’t feel worthy of real success. I didn’t believe what Jesus said about me – I didn’t even believe what Jesus said about Himself. I wanted to be in charge. I wanted to make sure bad stuff didn’t happen to me. The more I tried to grasp for … Read More

“Remember Who You Are”

Carol DunfeeFaith0 Comments

“Remember who you are,” my dad told my older sister as she was getting ready to stretch her wings into adulthood. To my little-girl ears, it made no sense. How could someone forget who they are? Do they forget their name? Where they live? I asked my dad to explain, but I didn’t understand until I was the one venturing into adulthood. Finally, it clicked. My dad, a man of few words, was telling us to remember what he and our mom had taught us. He was telling us to remember that we represented the family. He was telling us to make him proud by being a good example of a Christ-follower. (I Timothy 4:12) I am my father’s daughter. As a child, I knew he would always provide for my needs. I didn’t have to sit outside because I knew I had the right to eat dinner at his table. I didn’t have to live as an orphan because I had a father who loved me. If I needed something, I just had to ask. Even today, he is there when I need him. Our Heavenly Father also tells us, “Remember who you are.” We have been adopted into … Read More

The Danger Of Isolation

Rosalynn LasleyFaith1 Comment

As I have gotten older, I have learned that I’m more of an introvert, especially when trying to cope with stress.  When my heart and mind are overwhelmed, I like to be alone to sort through whatever chaos is going on inside of me.  Trying to make sense of my own messy little brain makes it difficult to deal with much of anything else.  When my mind is tired and my heart is heavy, it’s too much energy to be around many people. I can’t seem to fake a very good smile when I’m overwhelmed, and I don’t want to be greeted with one more shallow “how are you doing…” knowing telling the truth would be just too much.  So instead I retreat, and try to deal with things alone.  I find the strength to emerge, only once I feel like I can breathe again.   It wasn’t until recently that I realized, that sometimes, alone is a dangerous place to be.   Lately I’ve felt that I can’t talk to anyone about the nonsense inside of my head. My husband has been sick, and I’m afraid he’ll just get sicker because he loves me so incredibly, he always puts my needs before his own. I … Read More

Conferences, Prayer, & Talking with Strangers: Fusion 2017

Jen CudmoreFaith0 Comments

Every time I am involved in Fusion Alaska, the statewide youth conference, I see God do amazing things. I’m a firm believer that we can learn something from any environment, and though this is an event for students, I always come away with something valuable. Last year at Fusion, I learned some lessons in humility. The year before, I was blessed by the generous, giving hearts of all the volunteers. My first year being involved, I learned how to be brave, since it was my first experience teaching breakout classes! This past week God didn’t really do anything major in my life.  My heart is full of many small, treasured moments, from seeing kids saved and healed, to witnessing personal messages from God being delivered, to watching my friends do something brave, to teaching and chatting with students in my classes. I was terribly disappointed that I couldn’t participate on the last day due to schedule conflicts, but being absent didn’t diminish my experience. For me, the blessings came in the reminder of some things I already knew, and that for me was s a big deal. Little things like: Prayer really is timeless. Some of the items I prayed … Read More

Glue and Paper: Lessons in Purity

Carol DunfeeFaith, Marriage0 Comments

Glue can be a great thing when you need something to stick. It holds precious pictures in a scrapbook. It reattaches the corner our kids knocked off our dining room chair. Glue can also be destructive…like when my kiddo smeared glue in her math book. Or when my favorite picture was glued into a child’s art project. No amount of careful manipulation could prevent the inevitable tears. Try gluing two pieces of paper together. The glue makes them stronger and sturdier together. Then try tearing them apart. The glue will shred the two papers as they rip apart. Like glue, sex can strengthen a marriage bond, carry a married couple through hard times, and of course, produce beautiful, sweet babies. Misused sex, however, becomes terribly destructive.  God designed sex as a gift to marriage. It is wonderful and beautiful. Satan wants to manipulate God’s gifts until they become perverted, twisted, and destructive. The same glue that made the two papers stronger can also cause the papers’ destruction. Satan doesn’t want us to be whole. He wants us to be torn and wounded by casual sex, sexual abuse, pornography, and sex outside of marriage. The more we misuse sex, the more … Read More

Leaving What I Knew

Jewel ZymurgyFaith1 Comment

So many times I read and the words in the Bible and as I read my vivid imagination unfolds a story that touches my heart and emotions. The words speak to me in such a vibrant way that I know my heart is being pursued by the heart of my God—it becomes unquestionable. For just one moment as I read about Abram my mind and perspective flooded with the understanding that I connected with the unspoken details of the story of Abram. Genesis 12:1 “The LORD said to Abram: Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you.” Isn’t it true—? When God wraps his heart around ours and we are wooed by the beauty of His incredible and unmatched love—we find ourselves wanting what God wants for the sheer hope that we get to have more of the glimpse of that unfathomable magnificence. Or…at least that’s my own personal hope and desire. What I do know is that as God whispered his love for me and his desire to be with me it went against everything that I knew was true—against everything that I knew life to be. As time … Read More

Life through a child’s eyes

Rosalynn LasleyFaith0 Comments

I think that some of the greatest, and most pure forms of joy come from seeing life through the eyes of a child.  When I decided to have children, I had no idea that seeing life through their eyes was one of the biggest perks. You don’t have to be a parent at all to experience the joy and wonderment that comes from such tiny little people.  If you spend much time around small children (preferably the well rested, and recently fed kind) you will most likely be blessed with an experience that helps you see not only the world, and life in a different way, but also God. Both of my daughters have taught me to find joy in the every day things that I’ve taken for granted.  For example, the way the moon rises and disappears regularly, as well as how much we can see of it on any given day. A few years ago, on one evening in particular, as we were walking into church my oldest daughter said “a piece fell off…” I replied “what?!” (Completely clueless to what piece fell off of where.) She said again “A piece fell off…the moon!!!” So I looked up. I’m honestly not sure of … Read More

How Does A Moment Last Forever?

Sarah OlsonFaith0 Comments

I just watched  Beauty and the Beast the live action version, and I was moved to tears. A certain song named How Does A Moment Last Forever? really struck my heart.  Why this song, you ask?  It is sung in several different key emotional moments of the movie – each time, stirring up a different emotion with the same element wrapped throughout – undying love. At first, it is that of a father’s love for his family, next, it is a daughter’s memory of her father’s love for his family –willing to sacrifice for the sake of the family. Before I get too deep into my thoughts, let me share the lyrics of the full song. How does a moment last forever? How can a story never die? It is love we must hold onto. Never easy, but we try. Sometimes our happiness is captured. Somehow, our time and place stands still. Love lives inside our hearts and always will. Minutes turn to hours, days to years then gone. But when all else has been forgotten. Still our song lives on. Maybe some moments weren’t so perfect. Maybe some memories not so sweet. But we have to know some bad times. Or our … Read More

Going Back To The Place That Broke Me

Rosalynn LasleyFaith2 Comments

This picture may be of little importance to anyone other than me. After all, it’s just a picture of part of my family, wearing frumpy clothes, walking up a hill.   But this hill…it broke me…and I’ll never be who I was before then. It was just 2 days after Christmas. Wrapping paper, and packaging from eagerly opened gifts was still strewn about our home, as we headed out the door for a busy day of celebrating. I had just opened a Cricut my husband gave me for Christmas, and I spent all morning playing with it.  I was using the machine to cut pieces of paper to make birthday cards for the parties we were about to attend, and I made a HUGE mess with my creativity.  I cut and glued until time ran out, and I never did clean up my mess. “I’ll get to it when we get home.” I said, and off we went, on our merry way. The first birthday party we attended was for a precious friend’s 60th birthday. I couldn’t think of a more amazing person to spend all morning making a mess—I mean card for. She’s so special to me, and spending the afternoon celebrating her birthday was … Read More

Seeing Shadows

Jewel ZymurgyFaith0 Comments

I walk around seeing the living dead. I see people all around me, people who do the same things I do and I wonder what’s going on inside them. I see the vacant eyes of a child. A quiet child and I wonder what makes the child subdued. I wonder what secrets he keeps and the reasons why he keeps silent. I remember the things that kept me quiet. The things that kept me silent…and tears flood my eyes. No one sees my tears. No one knows that my heart breaks for the child who is the secret keeper… I get up to leave and see the girl in the corner. The one that everyone says is different. The one that everyone makes fun of…the one that is desperate to have just one person see into her life. The one that feels pain differently than those around her…the one who will do anything to end the pain that she suffers alone…I am suffocated by her agony. I see the gulf of loneliness that is around her and the anguish of a heart that screams to be seen. Right next to her…actually, right in front of that girl who is painfully … Read More

Falling Down In Front Of Someone Famous

Jen CudmoreFaith0 Comments

Have you ever made a fool of yourself in front of a group of people you admire? How about someone famous who writes a lot of bible studies and speaks at tons of meetings for women? I could use a good laugh today, so I figured I’d pull this post out of the archives – just want to make sure you’re all ready for when it’s your turn! Over this past weekend, many of my new friends returned to the SheSpeaks Proverbs 31 conference on the East Coast, and I’m a bit sad I couldn’t go this year. Thinking back to last year and all that I experienced there, my biggest memory by far was meeting Lysa Terkeurst. And of course, my most embarrassing moment, tripping in front of her and her staff. Let me explain how you can have that experience, too! I learned a little bit about humility the day I met Lysa Terkeurst. As I walked beside her toward the back hallway, I tripped and fell, landing on my hands and knees. That’s about as low as it gets, ladies. I mean, seriously, how do you recover from something like that? All I can say is that … Read More

Handling Church-Hurt

Carol DunfeeFaith0 Comments

I didn’t know it, but I had an idol…something I worshiped more than Jesus. It was something Jesus created to represent himself, but I elevated it too much. I only discovered this idol when it came crashing down, revealing its ugly underbelly. This idol was church. Some of you are appalled that I called Christ’s body an idol. Others are nodding their heads in agreement. Still others have been so wounded by the church that you never want to go back. I get it. All of it. I thought that serving the church was equal to serving God. (And it can be.) But I substituted service for time at Jesus’ feet. I thought that pastors and church volunteers were ALL earnestly trying to please Jesus. Unfortunately, there are a few who seek nothing but personal kingdom-building. This handful tends to be the most visible, ruining it for the rest who genuinely want to serve. And then we were hurt at the hands of three different churches in three different states. When we didn’t fit a tradition of theirs, we felt their wrath as though we had violated a command of God himself. The traditions ranged from clothing and personality type … Read More

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