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

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

God is present…even when I don’t feel Him

Jewel ZymurgyFaith2 Comments

Earlier today I read a devotion and in all honesty it was one that I turn to when I find myself feeling as if there is no one who is for me. Today the day went by like a slow motion movie that felt as if I were just watching and not necessarily living. Conversations sounded hollow and my words seemed to echo and fade as if I were speaking into a cavern. My speed physically matched what I perceived as the unhurried pace of those around me and it took every ounce of energy to enter into what ended up being conversations that were full of tears from those whom I work with. There are days when I know where God is leading me and what I feel prompted to say and I gladly follow…and then there are days when my emotions seem to be just under the surface and my passions threaten to plow over anyone who enters into my personal space. Some of those days are like today, when I fail to see the path that I need to walk down and in my own head I ask the question…where are you, God? Those are the times … Read More

When there’s shame in your story…

Rosalynn LasleyRedemption, Trials1 Comment

Throughout this blog I’ve been slowly sharing parts of my story. One of the good things about telling my own story is that I’m able to share the parts of my story I want you to know. I can shine up my story really nice so it sounds awesome, but what about the parts of my story that won’t ever shine up? What about the parts that are so dark and ugly I wish they could be removed completely? What happens when there’s shame in your story?   The other day I was thinking about many different Bible stories and characters I’ve heard about through the years. I thought to myself, “How embarrassing to have some of your biggest, most shameful moments written down and passed along, all through history!!” Sure the stories are about more than just the things they’ve done wrong, more than just the things they’re ashamed of, but it’s still embarrassing sometimes when everyone knows your story.    I thought about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. One of Eve’s most shameful moments changed all of mankind. Her decision to disobey God was written down for all to see, and also brought sin into … Read More

Stand Firm: Total Surrender

Jen CudmoreFaith1 Comment

“If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” It’s a silly saying, and yet very true. When a woman doesn’t get her way, she often makes herself and those around her miserable. Yet the trouble is, we forget that life isn’t about having everything fall perfectly into place. Life is messy. Complicated. Hard. So far in our series on standing firm against the enemy and the pressures of this world, we’ve talked about the armor of God and power in prayer. Today, the challenge is all about complete submission to our Lord and Savior. Our emotions, insecurities, and selfish hearts get us into trouble when we let them take over. Which is why, in order to stand firm in our faith and remain steady in a crazy world, we need to surrender each day, each moment, to God and let Him take care of everything. We need to be okay, when life is not okay. We can’t let ourselves get uptight, stressed out, and tossed about when there is chaos all around us. 3 Ways to Surrender: 1. Accept God’s sovereignty. He created the universe – He gets to decide how He runs it. He sits on a Heavenly throne, and … Read More

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