Be Bold

Jewel ZymurgyFaith, TrialsLeave a Comment

In the big scheme of things—it was a day in the life of a child of the King; a day filled with joy and ending with a peaceful reflection that was filled with gratitude.   Many days I fail to live in the fullness of my birthright. Instead of living day by day and moment by moment remembering who I am and whose I am—I fall into the trappings of my own flesh and focus on the shortcomings and failures that put me in the center of my thinking…making it impossible for me to keep my mind and heart on the workings of my Father, God.   As God made me more aware of this theme, it became a source of uneasiness and shame for me because I was keenly aware that in this area I was constantly getting in my own way. Not really knowing what to do to change this—I started seeking out those people who in my eyes had always been spiritual giants. Not really having an expectation of what the journey or goal looked like—just seeking to look more like Jesus by placing those people around me that looked like Him in my own life.   … Read More

Don’t hide Him

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Prayer & FastingLeave a Comment

As I crumpled to the bathroom floor, my first thought was “don’t let them see you cry.” I wanted to protect their hearts at all costs, even if that meant hiding my own. The tears quickly turned into sobs I could not control and I knew I needed to tell them the truth somehow. I was losing the baby our family dreamed of, and I was utterly shattered. As a parent, one of my greatest desires is to protect my children. I want to shield them from every heartache I can, both theirs and mine, because sometimes the ugliness in life is hard to explain. How do you tell them the devastating things you can’t fathom yourself? How do you pick up the pieces of their hearts when you don’t even know where to look for the pieces of yours? What do you say when there truly are no words? I know that I’m doing the greatest disservice to my children, and those around me when I hide heartache from them, because when I hide what hurts, I’m hiding the Healer. I don’t remember what I said, or how I said it. I don’t fully remember how they reacted right … Read More

Pursuit

Sarah OlsonFaithLeave a Comment

Pursuit: (noun) The act of following with a view to overtake. [source: Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary] As I sit and ponder this word, I think about God’s pursuit of his most prized creation – mankind – set apart, blessed, appointed, given a promise upon creation. From the beginning of time, God has pursued His children’s hearts. After the fall, in Genesis 3 verse 8, God is wandering amidst the garden “in the cool of the day” and Adam and Eve “hid themselves from the presence of the LORD.” The beauty of this story is in verse 9, “Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” Does that not give you hope, friend? You can be in the deepest pit of shame and disbelief and fear and God is still there and He is still pursuing you and He still loves you! Can you not hear the deep passion, fatherly care, and concern in that moment? Adam and Eve are in a dark place, and God is calling out, “Where are you?” When I was 18, I ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. I put myself in a vulnerable position and … Read More

What My Husband Has Taught Me About A Father’s Love

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Marriage, TrialsLeave a Comment

I love you, far more than I have ever loved anyone in all my life, and even after all these years, there are times that still terrifies me.  You know me better than I know myself.  You care for me more passionately than anyone ever has.  You put me first in every part of your existence, but there’s still that little place inside of me; way deep down in the ugliest and most insecure parts of my heart, that’s afraid someday I won’t be enough for you. I’m afraid that I’m just one mistake away from ruining everything. I’m afraid that someday you’ll leave me too, because at some point along the way everyone else has.   If I was a better daughter, maybe my dad would have stayed. Maybe if my grades were better, he would follow though with his promises. Maybe if I was more gifted he would have reasons to show up for the things that were important to me. Maybe if I was more obedient he would have been proud of the way I turned out, and decided that he did want to be a part of my life after all. But I wasn’t, and he left, … Read More

Picture Perfect Christian Expectations

Jen CudmoreFaithLeave a Comment

The Pastor certainly wasn’t friendly or cheerful. Didn’t look me in the eye, or even notice me when I walked by – though I was the only person in the entire open lobby! It wasn’t what I expected from someone in leadership. It was a Southern Baptist Church, but they turned the lights low, didn’t sing any hymns, and baptized people in Tshirts rather than robes. It wasn’t what I expected from that denomination. Her spiked heels, brightly dyed hair and perfect makeup seemed over the top, and yet, she skillfully delivered Biblical truth with such love and passion that the room full of teen girls was captivated the entire hour. It wasn’t what I expected from someone so put-together as her. The small church nestled in the heart of town seemed so conservative with their hymns, choir, and organ. Yet their old fashioned ways were set aside to allow a woman to teach Sunday School. It wasn’t what I expected to encounter there. The teacher wore jeans and a Tshirt on the stage, knowing the program would be televised, and he even used questionable language that could be considered cursing, and yet the glory of God filled that church … Read More

Christmas for the Lowly

Madison RosserFaith, HolidayLeave a Comment

Christmas. Much like Buddy the Elf, I have very positive feelings about the holiday. I love the glitz and glitter of this season— magic fills the air and our hearts. The fireplace roars while Bing Crosby serenades us with hopes of a white Christmas. Snow piles high on fences, matched by the whipped cream atop mugs of hot cocoa. As the old carol expresses, “Silent night. Holy night. All is calm. All is bright.” Except, judging from my own very small world of past experience, I know that it is neither calm nor bright for many people during the holiday season. The truth is, some homes will wake up Christmas morning to family members wracked by addictions. Refugees will wake up in camps with little hope in their hearts of ever returning to their own hearth-side chairs. Some people will wake up and wish for the day to pass as quickly as possible, aching for loved ones lost. In many countries people will go to work as usual without the slightest notion that much of the world has pressed pause. No western, romanticized notion of Christmas morning will bring any real hope for these circumstances. In fact, for much of … Read More

When Knowledge is Divine Power

Carol DunfeeBible Study, Faith, HolidayLeave a Comment

In a room filled with 1700 women, Bible teacher Beth Moore gave an assignment. As a college student, I might have groaned at the thought of a research assignment, but my current self was filled with excitement. First, Beth explained that we have everything we need for life and godliness through Jesus, according to 2 Peter 1:3. His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Anything we could possibly need to live a fruitful life is found in Jesus. Every tool to keep us from falling into sin is found in God’s Son. What an amazing concept!! It seems too good to be true. But how do we actually access this “everything”? We access it by gaining knowledge of Jesus. Read the verse again. Through knowledge of Jesus, God can give us this “everything”. The more we learn about Jesus, the more we have access to this divine power that provides all the things we need for life and godliness. We cannot claim this power until we actively search the Bible to learn all we can about Jesus. Next, Beth explained that … Read More

A Glimpse of the 27th Psalm

Jewel ZymurgyFaith, Trials3 Comments

Ask-God I know that you are already here. I just ask you to help me be sensitive to your presence. Help me to slow down and focus on what you have for me…and God…help me to be open and accept it with your loving perspective as I unpack Your truth. Read-I was beautifully surprised to see that the scripture verses included one verse that I had years ago tattooed on my back. With eagerness I opened up to the verses that my friend had sent me. Psalm 27:9-10 “9-Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. 10-Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” Reflect-Initially what grabs my attention is that the psalmists words in verse 9 feels like a pleading—when I have felt desperate and lonely the angst in those words have felt tangible. I can’t help but recall vividly the pain of someone whom I dearly wanted to be close to…turning away from me in their own disappointment and frustration. The empty isolation that enveloped me was greater than I was ready … Read More

Women Worth Looking Up To

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Motherhood, WomanhoodLeave a Comment

The phone in my office rang, and there was a voice on the other end I didn’t recognize.  She stated she had my daughter in her office, and in that instant, my heart skipped a beat.   My daughter’s voice trembled as she explained the details to me, and when I asked her if she was ok, she broke down in tears.   My momma heart ached, and I felt so helpless. I’M HER MOM! I SHOULD BE THERE FOR HER…but I was all the way across town at work. I had already missed a lot of time recently because I was in Nashville for the women’s leadership forum, so in that moment my heart was torn. My baby girl needed me NOW, but even if I left work immediately, I couldn’t get to her soon enough.   I’ve been in her shoes before, and I could totally understand why she was crying.  I’ve cried for the same reason once upon a time, and I wanted nothing more than to drop everything to help dry her tears, but I was at work, and I needed to be there too.   Thoughts ran through my mind a million miles a minute, as … Read More

I see your pain

Rosalynn LasleyRedemption, TrialsLeave a Comment

I was only 6 years old at the time but the memory is just as fresh, as if it happened yesterday. I was a little girl in your class with big glasses and wiggly teeth, when I saw you for the last time.  I never even got to say goodbye.  I remember you running out of the school building, as I stood there waiting for my bus. A fellow teacher was trying their best to comfort you. They had their arms wrapped tightly around your shoulder, as they ushered you to the parking lot. Your face was buried in your hands as you sobbed uncontrollably. You never looked up. You never returned to school, and I don’t mean just that year, I mean ever. You never came back.  But how could you?  Your baby died.  My mom told me what happened, as gently as you tell a 6 year old girl, and we went to the store to pick out a small glass figurine of a little boy. My mom thought it might remind you of him. I don’t remember his name.  I wish I did. I spent all night last night trying to remember, but all I could remember is that … Read More

When God Defines Leadership

Jen CudmoreFaith, Womanhood1 Comment

She said we had ‘ridiculous potential’. Looking down at us from where she stood on the church stage, Beth shook her head in that delightful, spunky way. Her eyes were wide with determination that we accept how much God believes in us – every woman who attended the Lifeway conference. How He has a great plan for each of us. How He intends to use us to accomplish great things in His name. Her message about being effective and productive in our calling was inspiring, and I came away determined to be steadfast in the tasks that God has assigned me. Even if it means I have to work a full time job at the office. Sometimes our idea of what our calling should look like isn’t the same as God’s plan. Sometimes normal daily routine feels less important than ministry service such as leading a Bible study, going on a mission trip, playing piano in church, or being a pastor’s wife. But we need to be careful not to underestimate our impact, no matter our circumstances. God’s been showing me over the past year or so that He has a heart for nations. He doesn’t just reside (or move!) … Read More

Filling Our Deepest Longing

Carol DunfeeFaithLeave a Comment

A friend once told me that myths are man’s way of making sense of the world. She explained how the tale of Pandora’s box is an effort to grasp the origin of evil in our world. The many gods in mythology reveal the human longing for a higher power. Even pagan religions, whose followers have made human sacrifices to their gods, reveal that we long to be at peace with a divine being.  At the essence of the human soul is a desire to be known and loved–by his equals and his creator. If one of us could design the best message from a divine being, it might look something like this. You were created for a purpose.  You are loved, regardless of your worthiness.  You can be freed from the shame of your own failings.  You will receive strength to live victoriously in the pain. You can someday escape our cursed, aching, suffering world for something better.  Last week, while listening to Beth Moore speak at Lifeway’s Women’s Forum, God whispered into my spirit. Beth was reading a passage about how Jesus has given us all we could ever need for life on this cursed earth. (2 Peter 1:1-9) … Read More

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

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