Jennifer BullardTrialsLeave a Comment

     Merriam-Webster defines drowning as 1: to suffocate by submersion esp. in water 2: to become drowned 3: to cover with water 4: overpower, overwhelm. Lifeguards go through hours of training on prevention of drownings and how to rescue a drowning victim. EMT’s and Firefighters are skillfully trained on resuscitation in the event of a drowning. As a mother, I am vigilant about my children’s safety when we are in the presence of water. So what do you do if someone you love is drowning? Jump in and save their life, right? What if you can’t? What if you are stuck?What if you are forced to sit on the side of the pool and watch your loved one drown? On a beautiful April evening, my niece Annie, came speeding into the world. Having received the phone call that she was on her way to meet us, I took a shower and quickly headed to the hospital. She was my sisters first baby, so I had plenty of time. WRONG! When I walked into the Labor and Delivery section of the hospital, there was her Dad proudly showing her off to the world. Bald and beautiful. She captured everyone’s heart immediately. … Read More

Fusion 2015 – Success Follows Sacrifice

Jen CudmorePrayer & Fasting, TrialsLeave a Comment

Don’t you love being a part of events that make a difference in people’s lives? Fusion Alaska is a large state-wide youth conference hosted by the Anchorage Baptist Temple, in cooperation with several other churches. Hundreds of teens come to Anchorage to hear God’s word through music and lectures. And each year many come to know Jesus personally! This year 640 kids registered from 30 churches. Helping at an event like this means that sacrifices of time, energy, and money must be made. Giving: I taught some classes again this year. Last time I talked about how to follow your dreams, and I taught an all-girls class about beauty, boys and the Bible. I was surprised at the number of students who flocked to my room, and had to bring in 20 more chairs so they could all fit. This year I talked about how divorce affects children and how they can make the most of it. I didn’t have nearly as many students, which made the discussions more laid back. There were some tears shed, but I could see that each one of them really took in the truths offered from God’s word. And it made all that preparation … Read More

When To Stand Up For Yourself…And When To Be Silent

Jen CudmoreTrialsLeave a Comment

Last week someone really hurt my heart. I requested one thing and I got the exact opposite. My concerns were completely ignored and determined to be invalid. In a situation where I should have felt secure and protected, I was cast aside and trampled. When I tried to question how it was handled, all I got was rationalization in return. I was basically informed that my opinion didn’t matter and I needed to get over it.Sometimes it’s hard to know how to respond when we’re mistreated. Our old nature wants to stamp it’s feet and demand justice. I planned out in my head how to approach this person who offended me, to stand up for myself and plead my case with scriptures. But God told me to be silent.  He reminded me that He is my Defender. It is His job to avenge (Rom12:19), and He brings about justice in due time (Psalm 94). I don’t always have to stand up for my rights, because He’s got my back (Luke 18). It may sometimes feel like they are ‘getting away’ with mistreating me, but God will bring me vindication, if I am willing to trust Him and wait (Psalm 7:8). Jesus … Read More

When We Watch Others Suffer

Jen CudmoreMotherhood, TrialsLeave a Comment

Watching someone suffer is a life-changing experience. Especially when they are dear to us.  After nearly 4 decades on this earth, I’ve seen plenty of suffering.  Like when Mama endured a year of cancer treatment, and she finally passed peacefully in her sleep while hooked to an oxygen machine.  Or when a close friend worked consistently at a new job where she was persecuted not because of her dark skin, but because of her love for Jesus.  Or when my prayer partner was ditched by her husband and had to persevere through years of loneliness and financial hardship. Heartache is part of life in this fallen world, and it’s tough to see others endure hardship. But when a mom has to watch her child suffer, that is the most heart-wrenching pain of all. We want to swoop in and save the day, but there are times when we just can’t fix it for them.  I have heard many stories of children who fought illnesses, and I have to say, those are some pretty amazing parents. Watching a child suffer and knowing there isn’t much that can be done is absolutely agonizing. I’ve never had to watch my child suffer physical … Read More

When “Worse” Comes True

Carol DunfeeTrialsLeave a Comment

“For better or for worse…” When we said those words as part of our wedding vows fifteen years ago, we really didn’t think that “worse” would come. We pictured a blissful life filled with happy birthdays, peace, and prosperity. We looked into the future and imagined mountain peak after mountain peak. What we couldn’t see was the valleys…those dark places that would bring us to the end of ourselves. However, even the valleys bring life and growth. They carry their own unusual set of blessings that we can only recognize much later. The darkest valley of our marriage started on February 14, 2014, when my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Within a week and a half, he went under the knife to remove the tumor. The road to recovery was hard and exhausting. I failed in many parts of this dark valley…but God never failed. He brought peace into the most frightening moments of our lives. I wrote the following on my iPhone in a hospital room. Bryan had just had his surgery the day before. It was a dark, sleepless night full of nurse visits, the beeps of monitors, and the dim lights of medical equipment. I … Read More

When Our Storm was Brought to His Peaceful Surface

Guest BloggerFaith, TrialsLeave a Comment

Thank you Jesus for drawing us out of the darkness, for You have loved us since before time began.  He called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.  1 Peter 2: 9 Photo by Bauer Hall Before we moved our family to Alaska, my husband and I were headed down a dangerous path of self-righteousness and self-perseverance.  We were living for ourselves and drifting more and more a part.  Life got in the way.  We began to seek what was important to our own desires, whether that was through creating a name for ourselves through work, through the community, or through our friends, but never once did we ask Jesus what He had in store for us.  Through this drifting, we lost touch with each other, with Jesus, and our children were suffering.  I was a schoolteacher and I was not happy with my income or my husband’s income, that I began looking at home businesses to help supplement our income.  My husband felt diminished by this.  He felt he wasn’t good enough because I was never happy with what the house looked like.  I wanted an immaculate home with beautiful furnishings. I wanted to impress people with my … Read More

Mercy In. Mercy Out

Carol DunfeeRedemption, TrialsLeave a Comment

This week, one of our children was struggling to follow directions. I had given this child an age-appropriate, every-day task that should have been done by lunch. The kiddo had other plans. By DAY TWO of this task, I was getting fed up. My own to-do list was a mile long. Instead of making progress, I had to keep stopping to check on this kiddo’s progress (which was practically nothing). I was angry. I said harsh words. I was at a loss to know how to get this task done without doing it myself. Suddenly, I felt a gentle Whisper inside… “Carol, remember all those times when you have failed? Remember when you were so stuck in your mess that you couldn’t move? Did I lecture you about what you should be doing? Or did I reach down to do what you couldn’t do yourself? Go do for that child what I have done for you.” Ouch! I went to my sweet and naughty little one. I didn’t do the task myself, but I had the kiddo race against the clock to see how fast it could be done. In about ten minutes, the task that should have been finished … Read More

Tell Me About Your Daddy: Part Three

Rosalynn LasleyRedemption, TrialsLeave a Comment

When I started this series, I was dreading it. It sounds crazy to say I was writing about something I didn’t want to, especially when I have a lot of creative freedom on this blog, but when I ask God what He wants me to write about, I do it sincerely. Sometimes that means His answer is uncomfortable for me. I knew that talking about my dad would be painful. I’ve tried to keep most of that to myself because I don’t want the point of each message to be about him. I wanted to keep pointing myself, and my readers to the Daddy, with a capital “D”. What I didn’t realize is that I would find a lot of joy in writing this as well. In fact, I’ve enjoyed it much more than I’ve hurt, and that has surprised me a lot. I’ve found a lot of joy by seeking the truth in who God is as my Daddy, and it’s really helped me refocus on what matters. Being purposeful and seeking out who He is, and how He loves me has been far more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. This week I want to talk about … Read More

Why Doesn’t She Like Me?

Jen CudmoreTrialsLeave a Comment

I invited her over half a dozen times. She never came. She always had an excuse why she couldn’t make it. So finally I gave up. I could read her loud and clear. She didn’t want anything to do with me. The trouble was, I had no idea why. Did I say or do something to offend her? She never let on that I had upset her.Did I somehow intimidate her? She’d never seemed that uncomfortable in my presence. Did she not think we had enough in common? I thought we always had plenty to talk about. It made me sad, because I really believed we could have been good friends. I learned long ago that not everyone gets along well, even Christians. Sometimes it’s personality differences. Sometimes it’s religious differences. Sometimes it’s lifestyle differences. We can’t please everyone, so it’s silly to try. Yet we feel the sting keenly when other women don’t like us. No one likes to be rejected. No one enjoys being misunderstood. The disapproval of others can be hard to deal with, because women are relational creatures. Yet our self-worth cannot be tied up in whether or not other women show us appreciation.  Nor can … Read More

Thorns, Weeds, Rocks, and Other Gardening Hazards

Carol DunfeePrayer & Fasting, TrialsLeave a Comment

I come from a green-thumb family. My grandparents had a huge garden full of delicious vegetables. I remember spending summer afternoons shelling peas with my grandma. My parents continued the tradition of gardening and have shown our kids how much fun it is to dig potatoes out of your own garden. I have even tried my hand at it a few times. I was able to grow delicious zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro. However, my inability to stay on top of the weeds has resulted in my husband banning me from gardening.  Somehow, the summers I chose to garden were the ones where I was either pregnant, nursing a baby, or chasing a toddler….not a great combination for pulling weeds!! I grew up hearing the parable of the farmer from Matthew 13. A farmer sowed seed on different kinds of ground. Some seed fell on a hardened footpathand was eaten by birds before it could sprout. Some seed fell on shallow, rocky soil where the roots were unable to grow down deep to save it during the hot summer. Other seed fell among weeds and thorns, where it wasn’t able to compete for the nutrients in the soil. Finally, some seed … Read More

Why We Must Experience Seasons of Suffering

Jen CudmoreTrialsLeave a Comment

Have you ever heard the expression that we must thank God for the bad things in our lives? Ha! Does anyone else think that’s just plain wierd? And yet, maybe there is a grain of truth in there somewhere. Because it’s the bad things in life that teach us how to be better people. So why not thank God for those experiences, no matter how painful they may be? Suffering for Christians is inevitable. If you love God and have made the commitment to serve Him, be prepared for some hard things to come your way. Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). It’s coming. The question is, how will it come at you? Many people wonder why God allows bad things to happen. Here are some reasons I’ve collected during my seasons of suffering.  Why we experience suffering: 1) Sometimes it’s due to sin we haven’t dealt with. All sin has consequences, and unconfessed, hidden sin festers inside our hearts, holding us back from the abundant life God promises when we abide in Him. We need to ask God to forgive us and confess what we’ve done … Read More

Finding the Truth in the Midst of the Storm

Jen CudmoreFaith, TrialsLeave a Comment

Ever have one of those weeks where you feel like you’ve been boiled in hot lava and then tossed off a cliff onto a pile of sharp rocks? Then when you muster the strength to try to get up, a stampede of buffalo tramples on what’s was left of you? When things in your life get out of whack and it’s literally all you can do just to get out of bed, it’s hard to hold onto hope. So what do we do when life is falling apart at the seams and we don’t even know how to pray?   We must remind ourselves of the truth: We don’t have to face life’s storms alone!  We have the help and the comfort of an amazing God! We simply have to claim what He offers. Here are some truths I’ve been trying to focus on for the past few days. When I study God’s word and pray without ceasing, I always feel my chin lift a little. I hope you find these truths encouraging when the rain comes your way! –  My flesh wants to run and hide, but God wants me to stay put. I may want God to change … Read More

It Is Always Darkest Before Dawn (Part 2/3)

Guest BloggerTrialsLeave a Comment

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. ~Deitrich BonhoefferThe beautiful thing about being broken is that you recognize that you are powerless. You recognize that you are unable to manage your life as you know it. You recognize that there HAS to be something outside of yourself that can do what you cannot do for yourself. Lying in the dark, curled up in fetal position, blinds drawn, tear stained cheeks, broken heart. Suffocating in my regrets, ashamed of falling once again. I cried out. I couldn’t anymore. I knew that if I didn’t receive help from something outside of me that my life path would ultimately lead to death. I was afraid. It was like I sat at the crossroads, looking both directions, both scary, both unknown.  I heard the whisper in the dark. I heard God calling me. I truly believe that that hardest part of the battle is surrender. Surrendering is just yielding to the power, and control of God. At that specific moment I didn’t know that it was God that I was surrendering too. I was just throwing up my hands in surrender praying that something  or someone would save me. I think … Read More

It Is Always Darkest Before Dawn (Part 1/3)

Guest BloggerTrialsLeave a Comment

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ towards God. not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God. 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 Our boldness and our confidence should come from our hope in God. In what He has done with our broken lives. In what His Son Jesus did on our behalf. Before I knew Him, four and a half years ago I was broken, really spiritually dead. It was autumn, leaves falling, crisp cool fall wind whipped through the culdesac at my parents house.  I had stopped by to pick up my three daughters who had spent the night with my mom. I sat with my car idling in the driveway of the house I grew up in. Too ashamed to get out of the car. Too ashamed to spend anytime talking to my mom, she could see through me. When she saw my face, her eyes filled with tears. She said, “I can barely see you anymore.” I was disappearing before her eyes. Addiction had wrapped its spindly crooked fingers around my heart and I was in the lion’s mouth. I had no friends left, everyone who loved … Read More

Why Failure is Actually a Good Thing

Jen CudmoreTrialsLeave a Comment

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try one more time.” Thomas Edison Nobody likes to fail.  When we make a mistake, no matter how big, we risk losing respect from others and often have negative consequences to deal with afterward. We worry that we’re messing up our kids, ruining our career, etc. We’re so disappointed in ourselves that sometimes we don’t know how to recover.  But life must go on. So we suck it up and put one foot in front of the other, apologizing where we must and cleaning up the mess we made, all while trying to be rid of the guilt monster clamped around our neck.  Have you ever considered that failing might actually be a goodthing? Last year I reached a place of what I would call failure. I had overcommitted and my schedule was so full I barely had time for my family. I needed to get a manuscript to my editor, write two short stories for my publisher, keep up on my blog as well as the three others I contributed to, all while working my day job and staying active at church twice … Read More

Pandora’s Box

Carol DunfeeTrialsLeave a Comment

Most of us have heard the story of Pandora’s Box. It was a beautiful box that held evil, sickness, and death. When Pandora let her curiosity overwhelm her, she opened the box and released all kinds evil into the once perfect world. Terrified with the evil pouring out of the box, Pandora snapped the lid shut, trapping hope inside.  I am no expert in mythology, but this particular myth helped me to grasp the magnitude of what happened in the Garden of Eden. God created a perfect world for us. (Genesis 1-3) He intended for us to have a perfect relationship with Him. However, He knew that if He forced us into that relationship, we wouldn’t be truly His. He gave Adam and Eve a choice: enjoy a perfect relationship with Him OR sacrifice that relationship to eat from that ONE forbidden tree. Just like Pandora in the myth, their untamed curiosity, encouraged by the tricky serpent, destroyed the perfect world God had made. Those bites of forbidden fruit opened the “Pandora’s Box” of sin and pain into our world. When I saw my friend’s anguish after losing two pre-born babies in a year, I did not believe that God … Read More

When the Bottom Falls Out

Carol DunfeeTrialsLeave a Comment

It was early morning on Valentine’s Day, 2014. My husband had been out photographing the Northern Lights and had been asleep in bed for half an hour. Suddenly, his whole body went rigid and began to shake violently. I knew he was having a seizure and long-ago first aid classes kicked in enough for me to remember that I needed to clear his airway. His face was smashed into his pillow, so I struggled to roll his stiff, convulsing body just enough so he could breathe. After what seemed like an eternity, the shaking stopped. He fell into a deep sleep. His breathing was loud and awkward, but at least it assured me that he was still here. I was confused and terrified. Bryan was scheduled to perform his first wedding ceremony that night. His best childhood friend was getting married. Bryan wrote out what he was going to say at the wedding from his Emergency Room bed. He seemed calm, but I was barely holding it together. Late in the afternoon, we finally got the results of Bryan’s MRI. He had a brain tumor in his left temporal lobe. He would meet with a neurosurgeon the following week. The … Read More

Do Your Friendships Measure Up?

Jen CudmoreTrialsLeave a Comment

“When I grow up,” my daughter told me one day, “I hope I have a friend just like Ms. Christy.”“What do you mean?” I asked.“Because she isn’t afraid to tell you when you’re wrong. She helps you to make good choices.” I had to laugh at my daughter’s comment. I can’t count how many times my friend Christy has confronted me on a negative attitude or skewed perspective, reminding me of God’s principles. God created women to be relational, so it’s natural for us to build friendships. But are we picking the right friends? Are we being a good friend to others? And what does a healthy friendship look like?  Is it simply meeting for coffee or planning parties or going shopping together? Companionship is important, but there is more to it than that. The book of 1 Samuel states that Jonathan and David were linked at the soul. In a couple places the Bible speaks of their great love for each other. They had a unique friendship and a commitment to each other that centered around God.  That’s what we need in our lives today. In chapter 23 of 1 Samuel, Jonathan helped David “find strength in the Lord” … Read More

What’s Wrong With Venting?

Jen CudmoreTrialsLeave a Comment

How do you respond when something goes wrong? All too often when someone mistreats us or something doesn’t go our way, our first impulse is to scream and yell. Whine and cry. Protest and complain.  So we seek out a sympathetic ear – or many sympathetic ears.  Most people believe that venting frustrations is healthy. And truthfully, sometimes it does feel good to release a bit of stress to someone who really understands. However, what we forget is that complaining breeds discontent, which is probably why God tells us not to do it (Phil 2:14). Venting to another human being may be necessary in some situations, but then we have to let it go.  We must choose carefully when  sharing our frustrations with others. Even well-meaning Christians can encourage us to stay mad about issues that are better left alone. Our friends understand our perspective and feel bad when we’re put in tough situations. They give us platitudes and condemn the other people involved. Isn’t that what a good friend does – takes our side and tells us we were right all along? God cares about how we respond to situations we don’t like. He uses all kinds of negative … Read More