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

Guest BloggerTrials0 Comments

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

Are You Caught in the Comparison Trap?

Jen CudmoreTrials0 Comments

Do you measure up? The best advice I received at my bridal shower many years ago came from one of the pastors’ wives. She told me “Never ever compare yourself to other women.” The comparison trap is a snare all women must watch out for. We tempted way too often to worry if we’re a good mom, wife, employee, blogger, Sunday School teacher.  Are we thin enough, fit enough, strong enough? Trendy and fashionable? Wise and knowledgeable? Skilled with hobbies like decorating, photography, crafting, scrapbooking? Got the right amount of wealth and education? And we measure ourselves against other women to see if we meet “the standard.” It’s not always directly related to us, but also our homes, families, possessions, and jobs. Are our children as smart or athletic enough? Is our husband high enough on the corporate ladder, or even the spiritual ladder? Should we be pursuing a better job, like the business women who recently became a CEO of a large firm? Or should we be a stay-at-home mom like the other ladies at church? Should we purchase expensive furniture and décor for our run-down trailer or stay within our means and stick with Wal-Mart? I wasted too many years wondering if I … Read More

Why Failure is Actually a Good Thing

Jen CudmoreTrials0 Comments

“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 DunfeeTrials0 Comments

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 DunfeeTrials0 Comments

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 CudmoreTrials0 Comments

“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 CudmoreTrials0 Comments

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