A Love Letter to Alaska

Heather GillisFaith, Uncategorized2 Comments

It comes with mixed emotions and bittersweet feelings that my stay here in Alaska has come to an end. Oh how I have loved it here, the memories we have made will last a lifetime. But it is time for this military family to embark on our next journey. It seems we have just said hello and now it is time to say goodbye. This post will be a little different from my previous ones. I hope you have enjoyed reading the Monday messages God has placed on my heart each week. This is my love letter to Alaska—between hello and goodbye. I don’t think a person could ever really say goodbye to Alaska once they experience it. It’s a place I would like to return in one way or another. Alaska has been so good to us in every way. You can see how creative God is when he made Alaska. It is like no other place I’ve ever been.   My Love Letter to Alaska: Oh Alaska, I will never forget the first time Ilaid my eyes on you. The pictures I tried to take with my phone, never gave you justice of how mighty and great your mountains … Read More

Apology from a Church Girl

Carol DunfeeFaith, Redemption1 Comment

An apology might be the last thing you expect from a church person. After all, we have a reputation for pointing fingers at others, while holding ourselves to a different standard. We have a tendency to speak first about politics and last about compassion. We cling to our comfort zones instead of Jesus. This isn’t going to be easy. I am exposing a part of me I’d rather leave hidden. This apology is for all the people I diminished when I was lost in religion. 1. I am sorry for not thinking about your feelings. How many times have I seen a life-style, a demographic, or a “sin” and immediately made a decision about you? I forget that you are a real person with feelings just like mine. I forget that you feel rejection as painfully as I do. I’m sorry I didn’t take the time to know you. My own pain has now made me more sympathetic to your pain. I hope the next time I meet you, that I will look into your eyes and see the beautiful soul God made. I hope I will see the soul that just needs a friend to listen and weep with her. 2. I … Read More

Common Thread of Loss

Jewel ZymurgyFaith, Trials0 Comments

Grief

Life in this world has a common thread of loss. Some loss is spread out through our lifetime while others seem to take place one instance after another. In the last few weeks, it has felt like loss after loss, heartache after heartache, broken relationships, illness, difficulties, conflicts, emotional struggle, rejection…pain…it all seems to be dangerously close to burying the hope I desperately cling to. There were days, I found myself walking around in a stupor of murky confusion, allowing the ache of what I was feeling around me to encircle me like a heavy fog. In those moments, I was easily forgetting that my Savior was called a man of sorrows. Loss and grief made him weep. I am reminded that my King allowed tears to fall. John 11:35 “Jesus wept.” For one reason or another, I find myself trying to be strong or longing to numb myself from the tenderness my heart feels from the loss. In anger, I want to shield myself from my soul’s anguish of betrayal. And it seems unacceptable that people around me see tears fall. I see what bottling up that emotion does…it will come out one way or another. I can choose … Read More

Stand Firm: Pray Without Ceasing

Jen CudmoreFaith, Prayer & Fasting1 Comment

“Christ actually meant prayer to be the great power by which His church should do its work…” Andrew Murray We’ve begun a series on How to Stand Firm. First, we discussed briefly why we can’t allow ourselves to be moved when the enemy attacks. Last week we reviewed the armor of God and why that is so significant in our lives. Today, we’ll discuss a tool that is seriously (and sadly) under-utilized in our world today: prayer. Previously I shared 4 ways to resist the enemy based on the scripture from James 4:7 stating if we resist, he will flee. Another way to resist is to never stop praying (1 Thes 5:16). Satan hates when believers pray. He knows that when we humble ourselves before God, the Holy Spirit and God’s glory are released on earth. The Bible tells us to ask and it will be given to us (Matthew 7), that if we remain in Him then whatever we wish will be done (John 15:7). Prayer is essential if we want to see God move. Simply put, talking with God changes things. The early church in Acts grew immensely because of the believers’ devotion to prayer. Major revivals throughout … Read More

Stand and See

Carol DunfeeFaith1 Comment

The soldier was standing, but barely. The enemy rushed in from all sides, attacking with renewed ferocity. He mustered all his strength just to keep his shield up and his sword swinging. As soon as one attacker was down, another one took its place. Would it never end? He didn’t know how much longer he could stay on his feet. Behind what our eyes can see, God fights spiritual battles against the powers of darkness. As Christians, we have an important role to play. Ephesians 6:10-18 (ESV) gives us instructions for these battles raging all around us: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate … Read More

God, Help Me Bring Her Through​​

Jewel ZymurgyFaith, Motherhood, Trials0 Comments

Help me God

As I am writing this moment tears well up in my eyes. I grew up in a manner that did not allow me to learn how to express my sadness or loss. Now as my child is hurting deeply from the death of a friend I feel like I finally have the room and the desire to open that door to letting God into that walled off place in my heart. Just thinking about the pain that I see my daughter experience brings tears to my eyes readily and in the span of a moment my heart feels like it is one beat away from breaking. This may be a naïve comment to make, but I never saw it coming. It took me by surprise. The loss that was so sudden and the way that it happened…took my breath away and sometimes I catch myself getting lost in the heartache of it all. There are so many times when I have felt overwhelmed and scared and unsure of what to do. This is where I find myself again…though this time with a feeling of complete powerlessness as I see my daughter grieving daily the loss of her friend. Instead of … Read More

The Journey to the Mountaintop

Guest BloggerFaith0 Comments

Journey Mountaintop

The Certainty of God’s Witness.  this is He who came by the water and blood – Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood.  And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.  For  there are three that bear witness in heaven:  the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit;  and these three are one.  And there are three that bear witness on earth:  The Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.  1John 5:6-8 “BEEP!  BEEP!  BEEP!”  my alarm clock screams. I arise with the sunlight creeping in through the shades polishing a shadow of the mountain I am about to conquer.  I get ready in a hurry with the electricity shooting throughout my body.  Full of the excitement and anticipation, I stare at Eureka Mountain – my place of pleasure, my place of peace, my place of solitude.  The significance of this summit lies deep within my heart; once more I step foot at the base of this mountain, but with a different purpose.  A purpose not of fear or redemption, but a purpose to see His divine creation, to listen, to hear, and to soak in … Read More

Stand Firm: The Armor of God

Jen CudmoreFaith0 Comments

“To be a Christian is to be a warrior.” CH Spurgeon Last week we introduced a new series on How to Stand Firm. We discussed that by following Christ and committing to serve Him, we make ourselves a target. Our adversary is cunning and we need to be prepared for trouble. For years I heard people mention that we must ‘put on’ the armor of God each morning. For the longest time, I thought it was merely a prayer people said each day. But it’s much more than that. The Armor of God is a series of daily choices regarding truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Bible. In Ephesians 6,  Paul explains each item in terms the people of his day could understand based on the typical armor of a roman soldier prepping for battle. This explanation emphasized how vital each concept is to the life of a believer. Belt/Girdle of Truth: The enemy is a deceiver, so to defeat him we must know the truth, which is God’s standard. We get this truth from scripture, and it has the power to set us free. The more truth we obtain through Bible study and teachings from church, the better … Read More

Are You Willing To Go Where God Calls You?

Heather GillisFaith, Redemption, Trials0 Comments

“God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called” quote by Mark Batterson.          Has God ever asked you do something that didn’t make sense? About 2,000 years ago Jesus was looking to qualify the called.  He was starting his ministry on earth calling His first disciples.  He saw some fisherman fishing alongside a lake.  He then told them to take the boat, out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch (Luke 5:4).   Simon, the boat owner said to  Jesus, “We’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.  But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5).  Then something amazing happened.  Their nets began to break and their boats began to sink because they had caught so many fish (Luke 5:6-7).   Simon and all his companions couldn’t believe what they had just witnessed.  They had been fishing all night, then Jesus came along and changed everything.  Simon fell to his knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord;  I am a sinful man!”  Simon knew he had witnessed something great and felt unworthy to be in the presence of Jesus. Jesus said, “Come, follow me, and … Read More

When Gratitude Unlocked a Miracle

Carol DunfeeFaith, Prayer & Fasting, Trials, Womanhood1 Comment

Last week, I wrote about giving thanks in the middle of trouble. Little did I know just how much I would need that message on the very day the blog published. A few months ago, several of us at Alaska Christian Women’s Ministry began praying about having a vendor table at a local homeschool convention. The topics of womanhood and women’s discipleship had been forefront in our minds. We were approved to teach a class about those topics at the convention. I cannot tell you how much prayer went into the preparation. I can only tell you that it was a LOT!! We prayed for the women who would attend our class. We asked God to use our class to set women free from false beliefs, to open their eyes to life-giving truth, and to release God’s favor over their lives. Our goals were big and we believed them to be God-given. The day of that class was the same day that I published the blog about gratitude. I planned to attend our middle child’s school concert that morning before heading to the convention at 10:00. As my husband and kids were about ready to head out the door for work and … Read More

Deep Tears

Jewel ZymurgyFaith, Motherhood, Trials1 Comment

BrokenHearted

It was a tough, tough week. I was group leading for Beauty for Ashes, and it was day 2. It is a faith-based healing conference that looks at the harm that is caused in our past, to see how it affects our now, and make plans for a better tomorrow. My heart was tender with the sadness of the brokenness of the stories that I was already hearing in our small group. I was incredibly aware of the rising anger growing inside me at the mistreatment of these ladies as they were young. The desire inside me, to fight for them grew. I wanted to be the one who would stand against those who in their own woundedness or selfishness caused these ladies so much pain. I cried tears of deep sadness knowing that there was no one to stand in the place of protection and instead I can only say those things that I wish they would have gotten to hear or see…I felt so heartbroken. With surprising curiousness, I looked at my sensitive heart. The passion that I felt in my core that was willing to fight for people that I had just met was foreign to me. … Read More

How to Stand Firm

Jen CudmoreFaith5 Comments

They warned me. They said the more I help at church and the more I get involved in ministry, the more complicated life would get. I wasn’t about to let that scare me away. They said to be ready. They said the journey would be difficult. They said the enemy would rise against us. And they were right. God gives us dreams and passions so we can pursue His purposes. The end goal is to make disciples and bring Him glory. Yet by heeding the call, we make ourselves a target, and while some people prefer to believe Satan isn’t real, the Bible is clear that he is active on this earth. Jesus warned that there would be trouble in this world (John 16:33), yet we know that God is greater than Satan (1 John 4:4), and He give us the power to defeat the enemy (Luke 10:19). We can’t ignore our calling just because we may have hardships or setbacks. We can’t live in fear of the enemy and what he might do. We must be strong and courageous, like the Bible tells us. And we must be obedient. So how does a person prepare for these attacks? When … Read More

The Power of God’s Word

Heather GillisBible Study, Faith, Marriage4 Comments

I will never forget the first time I opened my Bible to read for the first time.  I didn’t know where to start or what to read.  I felt overwhelmed and lost.  There were so many words and pages.  How did I even begin? Once I opened the Scriptures and started reading, a whole new world was open for me.  At times I put prayer and reading the Bible on the back burner.  I let life get the best of me.  I was distracted by everything the world offered me.  The truth is, I’ve been a Christian my whole life and didn’t truly see the value in opening up the Scriptures and reading them until brokenness entered my life. Nothing makes a person examine their priorities more than when tragedy enters their life (Click to Tweet).   Tragedy makes us listen and pay attention.  My brokenness exposed what was I really filling my life with?  What was the meaning and purpose of my life? The Bible took on a whole new meaning in my life once tragedy got my attention.  The Bible verses I read became living and breathing in my life.  Opening the Scriptures is where I really met Jesus.  … Read More

Thankful in Trouble

Carol DunfeeFaith, Trials, Uncategorized3 Comments

Since last fall, my husband and I have stepped up to new and bigger ministry responsibilities. And God has blessed us with prosperity and success. After all, that’s what happens, right? Well, no, not really. Rather than sunshine and roses, we seem to have gotten rainclouds and sniffles…and bills. First, we each got a nasty chest virus that lasted for about six weeks. Then I got a stomach virus. Then we had to replace a huge chunk of our roof. Cha-ching!! Out went a ton of money. Then one child was diagnosed with asthma. Enter twice daily inhalers. Then the next child got strep throat. Three days later, she began getting hives with certain foods. A month later, she was diagnosed with serious allergies that included food. Now we carry epi-pens. (Our kids had NEVER had food allergies before!) Then the same child got strep TWO more times in the next two months. Then our three-year-old freezer died. Completely. No warning. Is this what’s supposed to happen when you serve God? Well, yes. When God is doing something in you that is a threat to the enemy, the enemy doesn’t take it lying down. He attacks. Hard. But what Satan means … Read More

My Daughters Ring

Jewel ZymurgyMotherhood, Redemption1 Comment

purity ring

  I bought my daughter a purity ring… At first, I considered getting her one because of the stories and reasons that my mentor and her family had given.   I wanted to encourage my daughter. Help her to find out who she is and whose she is. Inspire her to practice abstinence. Challenge her to focus on maturing in responsibility and relationships. Encourage her to stand on biblical principles…   “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality” 1 Thessalonians 4:3   “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8   Then I realized…that’s me wanting to look good and sound right…   When I really look deeply at some of the reasons why I want her to wear a purity ring, it comes down to the fact that I’m afraid.   She is loyal and trusts so easily—will she trust that easily with her body?   She wants acceptance from her friends—who will she chose to fill that yearning to belong?   She opens her heart and loves deeply—will she fall hard for someone and then give herself to a person who offers her … Read More

Give it to God

Guest BloggerFaith1 Comment

Seek God

Another week has gone by and my long to-do list isn’t any shorter! In fact, it’s a little longer. Only a couple things crossed off, but I am sure proud of those couple tasks! I’m sure I am not the only one with this issue. Often times when I look at all that things I want to accomplish over the course of the day, week, month, even year I experience a multitude of feelings. First, I get excited at the idea of accomplishing it all! Second, I usually feel motivated, often times I even create my game plan on paper. At that point, I’m ready to get things going! Then all of sudden, reality hits! My everyday life continues on, despite all these other plans I have made- all my other tasks do not stop just because I add new ones. Recently, I have been pondering how many things would get crossed off that list or how many things wouldn’t even make it to the list if I prayed and asked God for guidance? Would God help me determine what tasks are necessary for me to accomplish? Would God help me utilize my time better? The answer is YES! The bible says … Read More

What Does ‘Let Go’ Really Mean?

Jen CudmoreFaith, Womanhood1 Comment

“Let go and let God.” Such a cute little cliche. While it’s good advice, it’s also over-simplified. Because typically, letting go isn’t as simple as it sounds. I’ve asked God so many questions over the years. How do I let go of this issue that’s bothering me? How do I know when I have truly let go? Why is it so hard to let this go? While each issue we face is unique, the concept behind letting go is the same. Whether it’s a step of faith, a financial struggle, a strained relationship, the loss of a loved one, or a stressful schedule, at some point we have to learn to be okay in our junk. Letting go is not plastering a smile on our face and pretending we are fine – its actually getting to the point where we are fine, no matter how life pans out. And many times after we think we’ve let go, we find that we’re stewing over the issue again, and we have to do the process all over. The more we want our way, the stronger our desire to be right and be in control, the harder it is to let go of … Read More

Why is Prayer so Important in Marriage?

Heather GillisFaith, Marriage, Prayer & Fasting, Trials2 Comments

Marriage is one of the biggest blessings in life, yet 40%-50% of marriages end up in divorce.  If marriage is such a blessing, then why do so many marriages fail?  I think there are many factors at play–a person’s background and upbringing, parents who had a loving successful marriage, children, poor role models, trials, dysfunctional habits.  But I think one of the most important factors that help couples STAY together is PRAYER. A study written by the National Association of Marriage Enhancement stated out of 1156 couples, those who prayed together on a daily basis less than 1% ended in divorce.  The study went even further to analyze what the couples did at home together.   Were they apart of the same denomination?  Did they attend church together?  Did they share the same beliefs and values?  Did they do any worship activities at home? The study found there was a higher level of marital satisfaction when the couples shared the same religious practices at home which included reading the Bible together.  Unfortunately despite knowing this information, only 4% of Christian couples pray together on a daily basis.  The important message from the study was if you want a strong marriage that … Read More

But it’s not RIGHT!

Guest BloggerFaith, Motherhood1 Comment

I burned the first batch of bacon. The kids were playing outside after school. While I was trying to have a slightly-tense conversation via text with my husband, watch the bacon on the stove, crack eggs, add spices, and dip the French Toast, all the while washing my hands like a brain surgeon in between touching everything so as not to cross-contaminate – the bacon was burned. I marched downstairs to call the kids in for dinner, and no one came. As I angrily marched back upstairs, I saw my daughter, and sharply called to her. I went upstairs and waited. No one came. I was reeling. I opened the door, and right at the bottom of the stairs, my kids are just talking with the neighbor kids. I yelled at my daughter again, and she, baffled at my demeanor, comes in. (Neither of my sons, mind you; just my daughter.) I was steaming! I proceeded to unleash a boatload of mama drama onto my daughter for not coming when she was called. She said she didn’t know I was calling her. She said she saw me at the bottom on the stairs, but didn’t know why I was there. … Read More

The Myth of SuperWoman

Carol DunfeeFaith, Motherhood, Trials, Womanhood2 Comments

A close friend recently told me that she thought I was a SuperWoman. I laughed. I told her that she was a SuperWoman. Guess what. She laughed, too. We can all look at the highlights of other women’s lives and think that they are SuperWomen. It’s easy compare what we KNOW about our imperfect lives to what we SEE on the surface of another’s life. But our comparisons are so inaccurate. It’s like comparing apples to bananas. Or comparing a raw, unedited image of a model to a retouched image of the same model in a magazine. Even the model doesn’t resemble her own appearance in the picture. Because I live with myself, I KNOW that I struggle. I struggle with self-doubt, disorganization, cluttered closets, too-little-faith, and a lack of discipline in spending time with God. Not to mention the times I over-schedule and force my children to pay the consequences. Or how about when I gain confidence and boldness, only to over-extend myself and revert to doubt and fear. No one else sees when I cry because I can’t keep up with the kids’ health issues or even my own. I don’t often share the fear I feel every time … Read More