A Christmas Prayer

Heather GillisHoliday, Prayer & Fasting1 Comment

“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”  Matthew 21:22   Christmas is one of the most wonderful times of the year.  There is shopping, gift giving, Christmas cards, cookies and manger scenes!  What we do at Christmas actually follows along with how they celebrated Christmas 2,000 years ago when baby Jesus was born. We have been doing a series on gifts we give and receive.  The best Christmas gifts we could ever give and receive, can’t be bought at a store or even wrapped in a box.  Gifts are apart of The Christmas story and how we show one another we care.   ​But Let’s be real, Christmas also is a busy time of the year, where there is a lot to get done in a short amount of time.  It can put a strain on you physically, emotionally and financially.   In the busyness of it all, prayer is very important not only in The Christmas story but your Christmas story as well.  Even though baby Jesus was born 2,000 years ago, each year we celebrate Christmas, it is a continuation of His story through us.  Jesus left his legacy behind and how we … Read More

Joy to the World

Madison RosserHoliday1 Comment

Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King. Several weeks ago, in preparation for advent, my pastor turned our attention to the story of preparation for Jesus’ arrival. Israel had sat in silence for years and years, wondering if God’s promised redemption would ever come. Then, one day, two humble families heard his voice again, and as people say, “the rest is history.” Elizabeth became pregnant with John the Baptist, who would declare Christ’s coming Kingdom. When Mary arrived to visit Elizabeth, baby John leapt with joy in her womb. Elizabeth immediately knew something special was at hand. I can imagine that both Mary and Elizabeth were a bit bewildered by all the messages from angels and miracle babies, but the Holy Spirit confirmed in their hearts the joy in the mystery of it all. The Messiah would arrive as a tiny babe. Though both ladies surely wondered and fretted over how it would all come to be, joy overwhelmed their reunion. I imagine them hunkered down together, Elizabeth pregnant in her old age, Mary in her chastity. Perhaps they spent their nights chatting for the months Mary stayed, baking bread together, staying up late … Read More

The Best Christmas Gifts Ever

Heather GillisHoliday1 Comment

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”James 1:17 Tis the Season……Everyone is getting ready for Holidays.  Preparing baked goodies, getting ready for parties and buying Christmas gifts!  It takes a lot of time, preparation and planning to find the perfect gift for that someone special.   Have you ever received a gift so perfect you remember the joy and excitement you felt when you opened it?  I bet you could tell me what the gift was and how you felt when you received and opened it.   As a parent, I bet you can remember that special gift you gave your child and the joy you received watching them open it and their reaction after receiving it.   Giving Gifts is a great way of showing another person that they are special and how much you care for them.  A gift is only a gift if it is received, accepted then opened, otherwise it’s just a box with a gift in it.  What good is a gift if it is never opened and received? I am sure many of you have … Read More

The Peace He Brings

Madison RosserHoliday3 Comments

His law is love and His gospel is peace Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother And in His name all oppression shall cease Peace. This time of year, when I think of peace, a certain image pops into my mind. The Christmas lights twinkle. Silence indeed fills the night. I sit on my couch, toasty under piles of blankets, reading an advent book (or Harry Potter, currently), with hot cocoa on the table next to me. Snow drifts whimsically down from the night sky in flakes, covering our home in the sweetest powdered sugar. The gift of time drops itself in my lap, and I am able to attend every party, enjoy quiet, intimate gatherings with close friends, and make my own family traditions as my husband and I enter our fourth year of marriage. After all, Christmas-time is made of magic, right? If people were awarded for their ability to dream up picture-perfect lives, and then be disappointed by reality, gold medals would bedazzle every wall in my house.  As for reality, piles of blankets have morphed into a pile of unmarked seventh-grade papers on my desk, whose grades will need to be entered, on, … Read More

When Christmastime Is Difficult

Rosalynn LasleyHoliday, Trials1 Comment

Christmastime is said to be the most wonderful time of the year, but there are times when Christmastime is the most difficult time of the year too. Most of us try to muster up all the jolly we can, and force a smile to carry us through this time of year, but truly, the most wonderful time of the year can sometimes be a difficult time of year too. Maybe your Christmastime comes with an ugly diagnosis, or bills you can’t pay. How are you supposed to afford gifts when you’re not sure how to put food on the table? Maybe the cupboards are bare and the lines at the food bank are long.  This isn’t how you imagined life would be right now.  Maybe there has been a recent job loss or lay-off. Maybe this means there are very few gifts under the tree this year, or no gifts or tree at all. How can you afford to light up a tree, when you’re not sure how you’re going to pay the electric bill?  Maybe your Christmastime is spent in a hospital room, or visiting a loved one in jail. That’s not an ideal way to spend Christmastime. There’s no … Read More

The Christmas Story: Three Acts of Kindness

Heather GillisHolidayLeave a Comment

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord”Luke 2:11 What do you think of when you think about Christmas?  If you could pick one word that describes Christmas what would it be?  When I think of Christmas I think about kindness.  It is such a perfect time of year not for just celebrating the birth of Jesus but giving kindness to others.  Christmas is filled with gifts of kindness that God gives to us.  The Christmas story begins with Mary and Joseph traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be counted for a census by order of Caesar, the Roman govenor.   When they arrive in Bethlehem, there is no room for them at the inn.  Here are 3 Acts of Kindness that Are Given Throughout the Christmas Story. Kindness Act #1 The InnkeeperEven though there were no rooms available in the Inn, the InnKeeper offered the only space available, the stable.  This is where one of the greatest events in the Bible occurred, the birth of Jesus.  The innkeeper did not have to offer them anything, but he did.  Because of his kindness, a beautiful story unfolded.Kindness Act #2 The Shepherds​An … Read More

Celebrating Advent

Madison RosserHoliday3 Comments

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 Could you imagine a time before the celebration of Christmas even existed? Or a time before a world that wasn’t filled with sin or hopelessness? Israel was waiting and wondering if the prophecy in Isaiah was really going to be fulfilled. Or was a Messiah really going to be born? Over the next 5 weeks I will be doing a series of topics about The Christmas story. Our hope and prayer from Alaska Christian Women’s Ministry is that even with the busyness of Christmas we keep Christ at the center of our Christmas celebrations. One way to keep Christ in the center is to celebrate Advent (which means coming) with our families. There are many ways to celebrate Advent and there are no right or wrong ways to celebrate. Celebrating Advent enhances The Christmas Story and carries on Jesus’ legacy He left behind. Celebrating Advent and Christmas allows the birth of Jesus story to be told and carries of His story through us. … Read More

A Thrill of Hope

Madison RosserHoliday2 Comments

A thrill of hope The weary world rejoices For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn! Advent. A season of great anticipation. We wait, hushed, in a noisy world that does not know what it’s missing. We wait in expectation for the child King’s arrival, knowing He has already come, knowing He is coming again. We wait. We hope. What is hope exactly? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hope as desiring something with the expectation of obtainment. This definition leads me to ask the question: What do we hope for? If we look around us, we see the world in a dire state, but I don’t believe these sorrows are anything new under the sun. When Israel waited for the Messiah, their nation was in a dire state too. When Jesus was born into the world, people were starving, families were broken, and nations were war-torn. Evil men ruled. Disease destroyed. Hopelessness reigned in people’s hearts. Sound familiar? Tonight’s dark is no darker than the night the holy angels appeared to the shepherds watching over their flocks by night.  Jesus’ arrival into this world, his birth, his life, his death, his resurrection, I don’t think they turned out the way people … Read More

An Unlikely, Almighty Thanksgiving Blessing

Heather GillisHoliday1 Comment

As Thanksgiving approaches this week, you may have the task of hosting dinner at your house thinking I’m in over my head!  There can be so much to prepare–the shopping, the food preparation, the table setting.   When in actuality this week is so much more than just sharing a meal and giving thanks, it’s a preparation for our hearts. Thanksgiving is an opportunity for God’s blessings to overflow within us when we “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18). This verse doesn’t tell us we need to give thanks for all circumstances, that would be silly.  God doesn’t expect us to thank Him for our suffering or pain but to give thanks in our circumstances, whether good or bad.  When we do, it allows us to see that there is always something to be thankful for even in our trials.   Our thankfulness keeps our focus on God and His goodness.   The second part of 1 Thessalonians 5:18, tells us, something happens when we give thanks even in our adversities, “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  When we give thanks in all circumstances, we become complete in Jesus by carrying out God’s perfect will. … Read More

A Song of Gratitude

Madison RosserHoliday1 Comment

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Of course, it’s always a good time to be thankful, but this time of year offers us a more structured chance to reflect and rejoice. A certain song of Israel has been running through my mind this week as I prepared to write. The song is the 136th Psalm. It begins as follows: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who spread out the earth above the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever; the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever; the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever; The poet repeats for emphasis, over and over– the Lord’s steadfast love endures forever! After this … Read More

Family Time

Madison RosserHolidayLeave a Comment

This time of year always makes me think of my family. Mine is big. loud. crazy. At most moments, slightly inappropriate. We are in each other’s business. We fight loud, and love louder. And we are weird. So weird. But we are family. I am excited to spend this upcoming Christmas with the entirety of my mom’s side of the family for the first time since the year we lost her. We will be together, and even though this part of my family now lives in Nashville, where I must travel to see them, I will feel “home” despite being far from where I reside. For several years after my mom passed, I spent the holidays in a myriad of ways as I lived overseas in Indonesia. Though I was able to return home for one Christmas, I spent three Thanksgivings and two Christmases separated from my people by the giant Pacific Ocean and a few more seas. Our holidays always looked a little different. One Christmas stands out to me in particular as something special. Living in a nation where the majority of the population did not celebrate Christian holidays, we celebrated both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at … Read More

Come to the Table

Madison RosserHolidayLeave a Comment

Mic Jagger provided humanity with a fitting theme song when he sang, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”* If we are honest, isn’t this a tune that has matched our heart’s beat at some time in our life, if not daily? Looking for something, someone, anything that will satisfy, but left wanting something more. Our quest for contentment is in vain if we are seeking our fill from this world. Isaiah is a book written to a nation who once closely walked with God but had forgotten his faithfulness, searched for fulfillment in other gods, and lost hope in their pursuit of things apart from Him. Isaiah lays God’s message down with boldness and grace. This section has always silenced the noise I so often fill my life with. Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that … Read More

Welcoming Winter with Joy

Madison RosserHolidayLeave a Comment

Winter is here! Perhaps I speak too soon. With our running record, this could be the only snow we get all year. But I am crossing my fingers for more to come. (I say this knowing that all you snow haters are just gonna hate. It’s ok. I won’t judge you.) Alaska is a funny place. I like to think we have a culture all our own. That calling the rest of the states “The Lower 48” as if we are our own country has its clout. In summer, Alaskans busy themselves like baristas serving coffee to a line out the door. We fish and hunt and mow our lawns at midnight. We hike trails on Tuesday nights after a full day of work because we are afraid that Tuesday might be the only day of sunshine we will see all summer. We have a serious case of summer FOMO (fear of missing out) because once we blink, summer will be over. With only three short months, we have to pack it all in. Then fall arrives. It brings the hope of slower days, but school starts again and we still have to haul the firewood and get used to … Read More

Do You REALLY Believe in the Resurrection?

Carol DunfeeFaith, HolidayLeave a Comment

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a story that church goers have heard over and over. We celebrate it each spring. We sing songs about it. We tell the story in movies, pageants, and books.  Somewhere in the two thousand years since Jesus’ resurrection, we have lost something.  Early Christ-followers were so convinced of the resurrection that they risked their lives to spread the news. They were chained in dirty, filthy prisons for speaking of Jesus in public. As soon as they were released, they spoke of Him again. They could not contain the burning fire in their souls that demanded that they speak. They saw healing, deliverance, and complete transformations as the power of Jesus’ resurrection met everyday people. When was the last time you or I saw any of those miracles? When was the last time we saw a person freed from the chains of sin after encountering Jesus? When was the last time we saw the Word of God used in prayer with dramatic results? Well, maybe we really don’t believe in the resurrection like we say we do. Maybe our churches are declining because we have never seen God’s resurrection power in action. Maybe our lack … Read More

New Years “Revelations”

Jennifer BullardHolidayLeave a Comment

Every December we all do it.  We think about the new year and what we need to change.  We think about exercise, diets, habits, relationships, meal planning, decluttering “that room” or “that closet”, family time, financial planning, etc.  I do it every year, and every year I fail.  It’s not that I don’t try, I really do, but life just seems to happen all the time!  This year I decided to try a different approach.  I decided to revisit things that have really worked for me in the past and revive them.  Here are a few of my New Years Revisitations! 1. Pray for the day before ever getting out of bed.   My day starts with a precious (albeit very loud) four year old climbing into bed with me and snuggling.  I wouldn’t change that for the world, but I am going to refuse to pick up my phone and scroll through Facebook with him. Instead I, am going to pray with him about our day.  By doing this, I am setting a tone for the day.  I am giving the day to God before I let the distractions take over.  I used to do this when my boys were … Read More

For the New Year…Two Words

Carol DunfeeHolidayLeave a Comment

The girl climbed the stairs of the old farmhouse. The house suddenly shifted beneath her feet. This was no earthquake. She paused to look out the landing window. Outside, she could see the floodwaters threatening to float the house off its foundations. Upstairs, a man was meticulously repairing flawed items in the house…banisters, woodwork, etc. The girl stared at the floodwaters in wonder. Why was no one addressing the real problem? Many bloggers have written about what is wrong with our “house”, the church. Millennials are leaving the church in droves. Some say we need more liturgy in the services. Some say we need more modern music. Some say we need to be more relevant. Others say we need to entertain less and teach more. Here is the problem. The REAL problem. Fixing the banisters won’t save the house if it floats off its foundation!This same idea applies to our individual lives. Many have created new year resolutions for losing weight, decluttering their homes, or simplifying their lives. These are great things. (I need to do some of these, myself!) However, it won’t solve the root problems causing our stress and discontent. Here are the two words for the new year: JESUS FIRST.God will … Read More

Before and After

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Holiday, MarriageLeave a Comment

Life is full of before and afters. I’ve learned that more and more over the last year and a half. Each person has defining moments in their life that left them different than they were before. Your before and afters may look different than the next persons, but each unique experience is the opportunity for God to shape you into who He wants you to be. Are you who you were before you finished school? Are you who you were before you met your significant other? Are you who you were before you had children? Are you who you were before they told you, you couldn’t have children? Are you who you were before you lost a child? Are you who you were before the adoption? Are you who you were before the deployment? Are you who you were before the accident? Are you who you were before the weight loss? Are you who you were before the addiction? Are you who you were before the affair or divorce? Are you who you were before the diagnosis? Are you who you were before your trust was broken? Are you who you were before they died? Chances are, you have been … Read More

Are You Giving Enough This Christmas?

Jen CudmoreHolidayLeave a Comment

There I go again.Playing the comparison game.Only this time, I’m wondering if I’ve been giving enough this Christmas season. When do I know I have given enough – how do I measure giving?  With Christmas comes commercialism, the hustling and bustling shop-til-you-drop mentality. The rush to get the best deal on the perfect item. Running up credit cards, or working extra hours to pay for it all. Plus, multiple holiday parties to attend. Sometimes thinking about it can be exhausting, or even depressing. But what also keeps us busy is G_I_V_I_N_G. Despite all the focus on buying and selling, people do like to give. They donate clothing and blankets to shelters. They collect toys for underprivileged children. They pass out meals at the soup kitchen. They randomly purchase gifts for strangers in a store. I see people around me donating to the Children’s hospital and Toys for Tots. I see people ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. And I think of the Christmas programs at all the churches, and the people who help make those happen. And I feel a little small that I am not participating.  As I watch my friends and family busy donating their time and … Read More

A December Birthday

Carol DunfeeHoliday, MotherhoodLeave a Comment

Our youngest child, a boy, has his birthday this month. He was expected to be a January baby, but he gave us our best Christmas present ever when he arrived before Christmas.  Christmas was a little different that year.  On Christmas Eve, we drove forty miles to the new church we were helping with audio and music. It was in a small, picturesque business district of a small town. The church met in an old rented theater. The whole scene had the feel of a Norman Rockwell painting. In the service that night, my husband ran the sound board and our good friends led us in worship, while I sat in awe holding our newborn baby boy.  Suddenly I had the tiniest glimpse of what Mary might have felt on that first Christmas morning. The heartfelt music painted a picture in my mind. I could see Mary snuggling her newborn, sad to be away from her home, thankful for Joseph’s presence, and relieved at her baby’s safe delivery.  The baby I held was only human, but his sweetness took my breath away. Imagine how much more Mary must have felt, knowing that her sweet little baby was truly, perfectly God.  … Read More

Unexpected Gratitude

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, HolidayLeave a Comment

The other night I wearily laid our newborn baby into her bed. She still sleeps in our room and probably will for quite a while. As I pulled back the covers and poured myself in to bed as well, I heard a gentle voice say “thank you for being the mom you are, and for doing all that you do for our family.” That simple, unexpected expression of gratitude meant so much to me. A simple thank you from my husband was like a soothing salve to my weary heart. I chose this part of life. Actually I begged for it. I plead with my husband and the Lord, for several years prior to now. I wanted another child so desperately it was pretty much all I could think about. I wanted the sleepless nights. I wanted to nurse for hours on end if I needed to. I wanted to dance around the house at all hours of the night in a desperate attempt to soothe a restless infant.  I said “I would give ANYTHING to be this tired!” And I meant it. So to be thanked for doing something I expected to do, I’m supposed to do, was a … Read More