Come Alongside Others

Heather GillisFaith, Trials0 Comments

Have you ever wondered what you can do or say to someone who has just lost a loved one? What we say and don’t say to those who grieve, can make a big difference in the lives of those who are going through hard times. Sometimes there are no words that can take away a person’s pain of their loss, but there is something you can always do. You can always love. Your Loving actions can have the most impact in the lives of those who are grieving. One of the biggest lessons we learned after our son passed away five years ago, was to share the love we have in our hearts for him with others. When we do, it helps us come alongside others who have gone through the same thing just like God has done for us. “He Comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 MSG How to Come Alongside Others who are Going through Hard Times:1. Through Prayer- … Read More

A Grief Observed

Madison RosserPrayer & Fasting, Trials0 Comments

It has always intimidated me to discuss grief, and by always, I mean since five years ago when I experienced it first-hand with the loss of my mother. What could I possibly tell you that would help you navigate a season that seems darker than the winters of the Northland? I feel at a loss when it comes to loss. As I was thinking about the reasons behind my lack of words for others, I thought back to the books handed to me when I lost my mom. I read a grand total of 1.75 of them; 75% of one book given to me, and the entirety of another I picked from a used book-store, pages worn from another reader, written by an author I’ll always trust. The first was a little daily devotional. I don’t even remember the name. Someone gave a copy to my Nanny, my sister, and me. Somehow, the short length of each devotional and its authors’ raw acknowledgement that grief is the worst allowed me to keep turning the pages day by day. Ironically, I never finished it, perhaps symbolic of the fact I wasn’t finished grieving in 80 days. I’m still not. Pretty sure … Read More

Lessons from Hard Times

Carol DunfeeFaith, Prayer & Fasting, Trials0 Comments

Life has left me a bit weary lately. To be honest, I really didn’t feel like I had a lot to offer. Fortunately, God is never empty, dry, or uninspired. While I didn’t have a clue what to write about, the Father had other plans. As I sat down at the computer to write, I heard a song playing from my daughter’s MP3 player. It was recorded by my piano teacher, her husband who was my violin teacher, and several of their family members. It was a song that captured their journey to Jesus, their faith, and their passion. Aha!! Here is a story to be told! While I was a college sophomore, a Jewish couple from Brazil came to teach at our college under a special contract. They captured our hearts and imaginations immediately. From their melodious Brazilian accents to their mastery of instruments, these concert musicians were at once superheroes yet also irresistibly down-to-earth. I was fortunate enough to have private lessons with each of them. They each breathed life into me.From them, I learned how to persevere when times got tough. I learned that music is all about the heart you put into it. I learned that … Read More

But God, I don’t want to.

Jen CudmoreFaith, Trials0 Comments

Seriously, why can’t life just be easy? I’d rather live in a world where I get what I want. Fresh coffee, comfy jeans, no traffic, pedicures, sunshine, plenty of good books to read. Kids who never act up. A spouse who is majorly attentive. Lots of coconut cream pie. And every day is a good hair day!  Who’s with me, ladies?!?! Too many times, I don’t get my way. Why doesn’t God just hand us what we need? Why do we have to sow good around us to reap good in return? Honestly, I don’t mind working for it, if it doesn’t cost me too much. I want spring, summer and fall without having to experience winter. I want food that pleases my taste buds without adding extra weight or stealing energy. I want to have pets without putting any effort into taking care of them. I want to have utilities without having to pay the bills. I want fresh groceries without waiting in line. I want a house that cleans itself. Can I get an ‘Amen’? Over the past couple weeks, God has shown me some areas in my life that don’t please Him, things tucked in corners and … Read More

The Wisdom to Know the Difference

Carol DunfeeFaith, Trials0 Comments

I think my brain is hardwired with a crusader mentality. I have a compulsion to improve the things around me, to right wrongs, to create new paths. In high school, I put my energy into improving our cheerleading team. In college, I worked with children to teach them about God. As a teacher, I experiment with different techniques to find the best approach for each student. As a mom, I try to teach my kids to work hard and to leave things better than they found them. Here is the hard part:God doesn’t intend for me to fix everything. He didn’t plan for me to crusade against every evil. So how do I know which battles are mine? Which battles should be avoided? Which battles are for someone else to fight? I don’t know. That is why I must go to God for wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” –James 1:5 ESV How do I diffuse emotions so they don’t cloud my judgment? I must surrender my wants and desires to God…over and over, minute by minute. “So He said to them, … Read More

Labels. Schmabels.

Carol DunfeeFaith, Trials0 Comments

What is your label? Are you Baptist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, or Catholic?Are you Christian Right or Christian Left or somewhere in between?Are you Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Independent?Are you Evangelical, Fundamental, or Charismatic?Are you a homeschool mom, a working mom, a stay-at-home mom, or a work-from-home mom?Are you an organic-eater or a junk-food-eater? We use labels to classify people and things into easily understandable categories. We give ourselves labels to separate “us” from “them”.  Sometimes, we take pride in our labels and derive our identity from them. It seems that labels have gotten out of hand. We meet people and immediately put them in a labeled box based so that we know how to handle them. I’m sick of being labeled.  I’m tired of being put into boxes. I’m weary of seeing Christianity packaged neatly into different categories…as though we could package the Creator of the universe. I was not created to submit to the limitations of man-made labels! I do not want to be defined by a human set of traditions. The apostle Paul saw this happening in the first century church as they argued about which teacher they followed. “…Some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your arguments, … Read More

When the Dragon Fights Back

Carol DunfeeFaith, Trials0 Comments

This particular sin-dragon is stubborn. It doesn’t want to die. Maybe part of me is holding on to it, feeding it in the shadows of my heart. Maybe it’s bigger and stronger than the others. Just when I think this dragon is nearly dead, it opens its yellow eyes and gives yet another fiery blast. In shame, I look upon the damage I have caused. I am embarrassed that it happened…again. Why won’t the victory come quickly? Why does it have to be so drawn out? Some sin-dragons die quickly when we lay them down in repentance at Jesus’ feet. Sometimes we get complete and instantaneous victory. Other times it’s a long series of battles…over and over and over. The bad news: The battle is exhausting. It can take every ounce of our strength. The good news: The battle has already been won. Jesus has already conquered sin and death. We just might have to wait awhile to see it with our own eyes. The Apostle Paul had these same struggles… “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in … Read More

Slaying Your Dragons

Carol DunfeeFaith, Trials0 Comments

In Frank Peretti’s book The Oath, an entire town is under the curse of a terrifying, beautiful, fire-breathing dragon that is mysteriously connected to the sins of its residents. The dragon lures his victims one at a time with temptation. Once they no longer care about their sin-guilt, he consumes them. The hero attempts a quest to kill the dragon and free the town. But when he finally has his chance to slay the town’s dragon, he finds that he doesn’t really want it dead. “…Against all logic, all common sense, he couldn’t kill it. “He couldn’t explain it, and he couldn’t shake it, but as he looked at that long, serpentine body spread out before him, he felt he was looking at part of his own body, no different from his arm, his leg, his hand. “Yes. That was it. As strange as it seemed, he felt like he’d be killing himself. “I can’t kill it. It’s mine. It’s me…. “And he could sense it so clearly now as he touched it: It was a part of him; he was a part of it. He owned it. It was all his…. “He loved this beast!” –from The Oath, page 499 … Read More

When You are Bone TIRED

Carol DunfeeFaith, Motherhood, Trials0 Comments

I’m tired. A new school year has brought a new routine, challenges, and many adjustments. I feel so inadequate for all the responsibilities laid before me. I see needs, but feel incompetent to meet them. I have tried to cut back on unnecessary demands, but so many others creep in. I don’t have enough of my own strength to be a good wife. I do not have the wisdom to meet my children’s needs. I lack the energy to manage homework, chores, AND bonding time with the kids. Frankly, there is not enough of me to go around. Finally, I am where God wants me. The apostle Paul experienced weakness, exhaustion, and inadequacy, too. He had a physical ailment that plagued him day after day. He begged God to remove it. God did not answer quite as he expected… “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, … Read More

Why Bother

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Trials0 Comments

I’ve had a bit of a bad attitude lately. It’s hard to admit that, but it’s true. I’ve felt defeated, discouraged, and simply like “why do I even bother?!” (I’ve even said that outloud.) I’ve attempted kindness and grace only to have it discarded. I’ve attempted courtesy and just had it overlooked. I’ve attempted to try harder, do more than what was asked if me, but it was only to have my efforts completely dismissed. It’s hard to have a good attitude when that happens.  Have you felt that way lately? Have you felt like you’re doing the best you can, really giving it all you have and either no one notices, no one cares, or it doesn’t change the circumstances one bit?  Do you have the “why bother” attitude like me?  While in the midst of my pity party and bad attitude, God reminded me of why I need to bother, and why I need to do my best to have a good attitude while doing it.  But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take … Read More


Rosalynn LasleyMotherhood, Prayer & Fasting, Trials0 Comments

I’ve found myself a bit discouraged lately. Physically I’ve not been able to keep up with all that I’d like to. My house is decorated with baskets of laundry as far as the eye can see, there are half-finished projects everywhere, and yet I find myself on the couch or in bed early in the evening because my body just can’t keep up.  On top of that, the kids were sick last week (so I missed work during our busy season) and now I’m sick from taking care of them. This means more missed work, more to catch up on, and I’m weary. It’s discouraging when you can’t do it all. I’ve battled this discouragement for close to a year now. I had my accident at the end of December and that left me physically unable to do all that I wanted and needed to do. That left me relying on others to help with daily tasks (thank the Lord they were willing) and sometimes the battle of my physical capabilities and what I’d like to do leaves me discouraged.  Now I’m at the tail end of my pregnancy and as much as I’m trying to push through the aches … Read More

The Lie of Easy Grace

Carol DunfeeFaith, Trials0 Comments

Four cabins’ worth of kids and counselors. Four compasses. Four different sets of instructions. One destination. We were given brief instructions on reading our compasses before we were given our first clue. “And you shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” 45 degrees. 20 paces.” We figured out that our starting place was at the electrical box. The compass was hard to read. It took a long time to find North. It wobbled like crazy. From the electrical box, we made an educated guess on our direction and tried to imitate a grown man’s steps to find our 20 paces. From that point, we found another clue. At one stop, we inadvertently found another cabin’s clue instead of our own. We were only off by a few points on the compass and a few paces, but it led us into a circle instead of to our final destination. If we hadn’t gotten off track, we could have won the challenge! Many Christians are following a defective compass. After years of hearing Gospel presentations that tell them to just “ask Jesus into your heart,” they are wandering in circles. They have no victory over sin. They don’t know how … Read More

My Chaos and Awe

Jewel ZymurgyFaith, Trials0 Comments

It’s amazing the conflict inside me— Two days ago my day ended with sweetness, understanding clarity and joy. I gained tremendously in stepping into a sweeter place with my heart; knowing and seeing Jesus better! I got to a place where I could take an honest look at the impact of my own actions and be in a sincere place of asking, “Where was I really in this situation?”—“where was my heart in all this?”—“ where was my sin?”—“what do I need to do differently?” I started to see that with the understanding of what I did wrong (or where Susie says I have an opportunity to learn) I can ask for God to meet me in that place of sincerely wanting to change…and I fully expected there to be change. Before that though my general condition of my mind was thinking fairly negative thoughts and it was a struggle every hour and sometimes many minutes in that hour to repeat good and true things. I was fighting against this tainted thinking as if I was truly physically fighting. My body, mind, emotions and spirit were just being drained of the will to keep fighting…God help me…it’s been too long … Read More

Did you bring the Band-Aids

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Trials0 Comments

Every week as I sit down to compose my blog contribution, I pray. I’ve prayed for the message that would be typed with my name signed at the bottom but I’ve said “Lord, use me! Give me your words, help me say what you want to be said” and every time I feel like He takes my hand, squeezes it a little and says to me “I don’t want you to write to speak, I want you to listen. I want you to listen hard because you need this as much as everyone else.” As I write, and as His presence dwells here in written word, I pray that I will hear Him as much, if not more than the rest of you.    I want to start this message with just a little question: “Did you bring the Band-Aids?” Even though I don’t really want to admit it, I’m pretty sure I did.    Seems like a strange question right?! Band-Aids? What do Band-Aids have to do with anything? Some of you might think “hey, she’s a mom, of course she’s got bandaids.” Some of you might be thinking “hey I have some too, you never know when you … Read More

Loving, Leaving & Letting Go

Jen CudmoreFaith, Trials0 Comments

I had to say goodbye. The boys had been in my Sunday School class for a year, and it was time to move on. They were grown up now. Bigger. Wiser. So I told them I loved them and sent them on their way. I left the church, locked myself in my bathroom, and cried. Sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye. Like when my mom died, when dad moved several states away, when we lost our dog. I think about how some people are only meant to be in our lives for a certain span of time. Life is all about seasons. People come and go; that’s just the normal flow. I think about my brother and his family, who must move to different military bases every few years. Friends who send their children off to college or boot-camp. Relatives who put loved ones in special living facilities and can’t visit often.  All around, I see goodbyes taking place. And I think about how the end of a season can be so painful. And I grieve the loss. I think back to all the children I’ve loved over the years, and how I wish I could do more. Many of … Read More

Step Up

Renee DuncanFaith, Trials0 Comments

Here is an excellent video blog from our new guest blogger, Renee Duncan. Renee is the children’s pastor at Baxter Rd Bible Church. The Youtube link is here:

When Dreams Have To Wait

Jen CudmoreFaith, Trials0 Comments

They say if you love something, you must set it free…  I pause, and I feel the breeze flutter about me, cooling my skin from the summer heat, loosening my hair from its clip. I stare at the plastic bottle of juice beside me, not really seeing the condensation pool on the table, for my mind is removed from this place. Music flowing through my earbuds inspires the words I need. All else is muted. The page before me fills, words collecting together as my fingers move over the keyboard in a rhythm. They pace, like the steady beating of a drum, slowing only when my brain searches for the right combination, then quickening again. Seeking to match the swift marching of the story in my mind. I can never seem to type fast enough. And then, I reach the end of the scene, and I breathe. The clock on my phone shows I have been sitting for over two hours. I must rise, collect my thoughts, get something to drink, plan where to go next in the story. Sadness pricks at me, and I wish I could do this more often. Tears sting the back of my eyes. I … Read More

From Sorrow to Healing: Hope for Orlando

Carol DunfeeCurrent Events, Redemption, Trials0 Comments

The image of the doctor’s bloody shoes arrested my attention. Somehow, it put the Orlando massacre into perspective. This doctor and many other medical professionals saw real blood flowing last Sunday morning. Real lives were lost; many more were forever altered. The life-blood of the victims will forever stain the lives of thousands of people–just like it has permanently stained the doctor’s shoes. Evil prevailed over 103 lives. And many other lives were assaulted by this evil, too.  The LGBT community feels especially vulnerable since they were the main targets. Orlando residents feel less secure since it happened just miles or blocks from their homes. Non-violent Muslims face more alienation since the shooter was possibly a Muslim extremist. All Americans feel violated since it happened to fellow-Americans on our soil.  There are no human words to make the surviving victims and their families feel better. Survivors will face guilt for surviving. They will have flashbacks and nightmares. Families of the deceased will feel the emptiness and pain for years to come.  God never condones evil. His holy nature cannot be a part of it. Evil itself is the absence of God, just as darkness is the absence of light. God … Read More

One Days Battle

Jewel ZymurgyTrials0 Comments

Sometimes it’s just strikes me as funny, thinking about the path being walked, in search of or in joining with Jesus during the day. Many times it looks nothing like the idea that I had in my own head for what it shouldlook like—actually, it rarely comes close. That can seem like such a sad comment to some, though to me it’s an exciting adventure. I think it would be like being able to be the one who gets to light the big fireworks on the Fourth of July—exciting, kind of scary…in the end—exhilaratingly cool. I knew I was to share part of my story with others. I seem to always have an idea of what that may look like, though rarely do I have it so rehearsed that I know exactly what to say and when. 6:30 hit and you could count the number of people on one hand… I thought to myself “I’m ok; it’s a small group…” A few more people showed up and I tried to convince myself further, “I’ve got this.” …as I uneasily looked around… As more people showed up, I got more nervous and I jotted down a few reminders in my notes … Read More

When my hands are full…

Rosalynn LasleyTrials0 Comments

It was a Friday afternoon, not much different than the rest. After a long and busy week of work I was ready for the weekend, and some rest.  I walked into my kids’ school excited to see them like I am every day.  I spend my entire day, every day looking forward to seeing my family and usually moments after signing them out of school, they start to bicker.  Sometimes the whining starts before I even get the chance to sign them out.  That’s our life, and it’s precious to me. The Friday afternoon I speak of was filled with the same Friday routine as every other week.  I gathered pillows and blankets from our preschoolers classroom to be washed, fresh, and ready for Monday.  I gathered soggy snow clothes, lunch pails, a weeks worth of art work (sometimes that includes a paper with one tiny scribble in a corner, but its art none-the-less and don’t let them catch you trying to sneak it into the trash).  I balanced my overflowing arms carefully as I tried to sign out our older child, dropped a few things, bent over to picked up what I dropped, and of course dropped something else in … Read More