Merry Christmas from Jen!

Jen CudmoreHolidayLeave a Comment

Merry Christmas from Jen! Ladies, the holidays are upon us and I hope you’re all having a merry time of it this year! We’re all busy baking, shopping, attending parties and prepping Christmas cards, so here is a short vlog. Do you sometimes struggle to hold onto the Spirit of Christmas? Here are my thoughts on HOPE. It’s all about Jesus.  

Christmas for the Lowly

Madison RosserFaith, HolidayLeave a Comment

Christmas. Much like Buddy the Elf, I have very positive feelings about the holiday. I love the glitz and glitter of this season— magic fills the air and our hearts. The fireplace roars while Bing Crosby serenades us with hopes of a white Christmas. Snow piles high on fences, matched by the whipped cream atop mugs of hot cocoa. As the old carol expresses, “Silent night. Holy night. All is calm. All is bright.” Except, judging from my own very small world of past experience, I know that it is neither calm nor bright for many people during the holiday season. The truth is, some homes will wake up Christmas morning to family members wracked by addictions. Refugees will wake up in camps with little hope in their hearts of ever returning to their own hearth-side chairs. Some people will wake up and wish for the day to pass as quickly as possible, aching for loved ones lost. In many countries people will go to work as usual without the slightest notion that much of the world has pressed pause. No western, romanticized notion of Christmas morning will bring any real hope for these circumstances. In fact, for much of … Read More

I see your pain

Rosalynn LasleyRedemption, TrialsLeave a Comment

I was only 6 years old at the time but the memory is just as fresh, as if it happened yesterday. I was a little girl in your class with big glasses and wiggly teeth, when I saw you for the last time.  I never even got to say goodbye.  I remember you running out of the school building, as I stood there waiting for my bus. A fellow teacher was trying their best to comfort you. They had their arms wrapped tightly around your shoulder, as they ushered you to the parking lot. Your face was buried in your hands as you sobbed uncontrollably. You never looked up. You never returned to school, and I don’t mean just that year, I mean ever. You never came back.  But how could you?  Your baby died.  My mom told me what happened, as gently as you tell a 6 year old girl, and we went to the store to pick out a small glass figurine of a little boy. My mom thought it might remind you of him. I don’t remember his name.  I wish I did. I spent all night last night trying to remember, but all I could remember is that … Read More

Beautiful Reminders

Jewel ZymurgyFaith, RedemptionLeave a Comment

Sitting with Gwen, I was reminded of a time when I got to see where Jesus was in my past–when I hadn’t believed that God was with me at all. One of those incredible moments was a time when Sue walked with me into the darkness of my past– she loving helped me enter into a painful time that had a warped and drastically shaped me; a time that had plagued my dreams and left me feeling broken and abandoned. A time when hope was ripped away from me so completely that I felt like the only good response was too shut myself away… a time when the most logical thing to do was to close my heart to trusting people and to shut myself off to believing there was anything good to live for. I was already too tired, enduring day to day, to keep on fighting and hoping in something that I didn’t live. The circumstances in my life felt like they were crushing me and I fought to breathe in anything that seemed good. There was no hope for joy – there was only existence. As I began believing that I was too broken to fix I … Read More

Radical Obedience: When Loving God Is Hard

Jen CudmoreFaithLeave a Comment

Is ‘disappointed’ the right word for how I feel? I stand still in the shower, water as hot as I can handle, and let my tears mingle with the spray. Leaning my head against the tile, I try to keep quiet so my family won’t notice. Because they couldn’t possibly understand how alone I am. I try to pray and let You hold me. You see my struggle to put feelings into words and You wait patiently as  my jumbled thoughts come out in spurts. I just don’t understand. You’ve asked me to do some pretty radical things, and yet so far, nothing good seems to come of it. Why have You challenged me with these things? What is the purpose of my looking so foolish in front of others? This year You’ve put me in some very uncomfortable situations, prodding me out of my comfort zone and calling me to be courageous. But I don’t feel any closer to You. I don’t see the beauty in it. I don’t feel anything special. Right now I don’t get how these things achieve anything for the Kingdom. You’re so patient as I speak my concerns. It’s not that I’m resentful, or … Read More

When Jesus Finally Made Sense To Me

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Motherhood, Trials1 Comment

Months of planning had gone into one little camping trip with friends.  It seems so silly to plan months in advance to sleep outside on the dirt, but Alaskan summers are something we long for, and time off from work is much desired during the season where the sun doesn’t set.  If you want to take a day off in the summer time, you must ask long ahead of time, otherwise you’ll blink and it will be dark and snowy again.  A two hour drive, deep into the woods was on our agenda, and I looked forward to nothing more than a raging bonfire, and s’mores shared with some of the best people I have ever know. There’s just something about quality time spent with incredible people around a fire, that renews my soul.   It was the weekend before our big camping trip when I started to miscarry. Suddenly this trip we had planned so far ahead of time, seemed a little less ideal for me.  I didn’t want to deal with that out in the middle of the woods. I didn’t want to be a mess physically or emotionally in front of anyone. I didn’t want to be away from home.  My home is my … Read More

This is really hard!

Rosalynn LasleyTrialsLeave a Comment

As we rounded the corner on that quiet little street downtown, my heart started to beat out of my chest, and I thought I might be sick. I’ve only been to a funeral twice before, but never like this, this was different. This one hurt the most of them all. I didn’t know what to think, how to feel, what to say. I wanted to be strong and brave, I wanted to smile and comfort others, but I truly didn’t know if I had it in me. That day we were going to honor my grandfathers life, now that all we have left are our memories of what life was like with him.   I took a few deep breaths, said a quick prayer, and put some gum in my mouth to try to calm my stomach. Then I slowly got out of the car and made my way into the funeral home. Time went a million miles a minute and in slow motion all at the same time. Grief is strange like that sometimes. As I walked inside, holding tightly to my husband’s arm, I scanned the quiet crowd of familiar faces. Of all of the people that were there, … Read More

Life through a child’s eyes

Rosalynn LasleyFaithLeave a Comment

I think that some of the greatest, and most pure forms of joy come from seeing life through the eyes of a child.  When I decided to have children, I had no idea that seeing life through their eyes was one of the biggest perks. You don’t have to be a parent at all to experience the joy and wonderment that comes from such tiny little people.  If you spend much time around small children (preferably the well rested, and recently fed kind) you will most likely be blessed with an experience that helps you see not only the world, and life in a different way, but also God. Both of my daughters have taught me to find joy in the every day things that I’ve taken for granted.  For example, the way the moon rises and disappears regularly, as well as how much we can see of it on any given day. A few years ago, on one evening in particular, as we were walking into church my oldest daughter said “a piece fell off…” I replied “what?!” (Completely clueless to what piece fell off of where.) She said again “A piece fell off…the moon!!!” So I looked up. I’m honestly not sure of … Read More

Time with Him

Jewel ZymurgyFaithLeave a Comment

I was sitting to tea with a beautiful godly friend of mine and I gained the most loving perspective on how God views my obedience. So much so, I was completely thrown into a joy-filled outburst of laughter that overwhelmed me with amazement and tears for over 30 minutes.   Iced tea in hand, I shared a piece of my struggle in regard to a person I respect deeply. I didn’t understand how come so many of our conversations would stir up such strong emotions of inadequacy and rejection.   Not wanting this person to be seen in a poor light, I slowly began my attempt to share my heart. I began by reminding my friend of this person’s character, their integrity, their godliness and the way they are good by using deliberate and very intentional word choice—as if speaking slowly and purposefully would make my point better.    I spoke of a few times when I have felt rejected, the times when I have extended an invitation and I have been denied. I don’t often ask others to join me in life. It feels vulnerable to me to share myself with others.   That being said, for those that … Read More

The Message and The Miracle

Heather GillisBible Study, Faith, TrialsLeave a Comment

Have you ever gone through a hard time in your life and questioned is God even there? Or does he even care? Sometimes I’ve caught myself questioning God and His motives when I’m going through hard times. I question God ‘Why is this happening to me? Don’t you even care?’ Then He so tenderly reminds me, yes He does care more than I’ll ever know. In my struggle I realize I’m not the one waiting on God, He’s the one waiting on me. If I just opened my eyes to see what God is trying to show me, His creations are all around me. He has made the heavens, the earth and everything in it. He has already sent Jesus to die for us. Do I really need him to show me another sign of what He is capable of doing? My unbelief and doubt isn’t so far off from the Pharisees and the crowd Jesus fed. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, capture the life of Jesus, His ministry, His death and resurrection. Each gospel captures Jesus’ messages and miracles he performed. Jesus didn’t perform a miracle without there being a deeper message at hand. When a … Read More

Where Do Unanswered Prayers Go?

Heather GillisFaith, Prayer & FastingLeave a Comment

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

7 Things The Enemy Can Never Change

Heather GillisBible Study, Faith, Redemption, TrialsLeave a Comment

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

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

The Power of God’s Word

Heather GillisBible Study, Faith, Marriage4 Comments

I will never forget the first time I opened my Bible to read for the first time.  I didn’t know where to start or what to read.  I felt overwhelmed and lost.  There were so many words and pages.  How did I even begin? Once I opened the Scriptures and started reading, a whole new world was open for me.  At times I put prayer and reading the Bible on the back burner.  I let life get the best of me.  I was distracted by everything the world offered me.  The truth is, I’ve been a Christian my whole life and didn’t truly see the value in opening up the Scriptures and reading them until brokenness entered my life. Nothing makes a person examine their priorities more than when tragedy enters their life (Click to Tweet).   Tragedy makes us listen and pay attention.  My brokenness exposed what was I really filling my life with?  What was the meaning and purpose of my life? The Bible took on a whole new meaning in my life once tragedy got my attention.  The Bible verses I read became living and breathing in my life.  Opening the Scriptures is where I really met Jesus.  … Read More

Why is Prayer so Important in Marriage?

Heather GillisFaith, Marriage, Prayer & Fasting, Trials2 Comments

Marriage is one of the biggest blessings in life, yet 40%-50% of marriages end up in divorce.  If marriage is such a blessing, then why do so many marriages fail?  I think there are many factors at play–a person’s background and upbringing, parents who had a loving successful marriage, children, poor role models, trials, dysfunctional habits.  But I think one of the most important factors that help couples STAY together is PRAYER. A study written by the National Association of Marriage Enhancement stated out of 1156 couples, those who prayed together on a daily basis less than 1% ended in divorce.  The study went even further to analyze what the couples did at home together.   Were they apart of the same denomination?  Did they attend church together?  Did they share the same beliefs and values?  Did they do any worship activities at home? The study found there was a higher level of marital satisfaction when the couples shared the same religious practices at home which included reading the Bible together.  Unfortunately despite knowing this information, only 4% of Christian couples pray together on a daily basis.  The important message from the study was if you want a strong marriage that … Read More

Women in the Easter Story

Heather GillisBible Study, Faith, Holiday1 Comment

I hope everyone had a Happy Easter!  Easter is one of my most favorite times of the year to celebrate everything Jesus did for us.  Did you know that women were present at the death, the burial and resurrection of Jesus and were mentioned by name?  Women played an integral role in the Easter story.  They were vital in sending the first message of the gospel, the ones to first utter the good news, “He is risen!” The Death In John 19:25-27, at the cross stood Jesus’ sweet mother Mary who was weeping for Him.  Alongside her stood Mary’s sister, Mary wife of Clops and Mary Magdalene.  Next to Mary stood the disciple whom he loved, whom we know as John but his actual name is not mentioned.  Mark 15:40-41 mentions the women Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James and Salome by name who were also present at the crucifixion of Jesus.  In all the gospels the only other person mentioned by name at the death of Jesus is the centurion. The Burial Mark 15:47 again mentions Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of Joses witnessed where Jesus was laid into the tomb. The Resurrection In Matthew 27:65-66, Pilate had ordered Jesus’ … Read More

Unexpected Easter Blessings

Heather GillisFaith, Holiday, Redemption, Trials4 Comments

Have you ever received a blessing from God that was beyond measure than anything you have ever received? Easter in itself is a blessing that I cherish as a day where God gave his only son for us. But there are two Easter blessings that will forever be engraved in my heart. Last Easter, it was our second year living in Alaska. Last Easter was also my husband and I wedding anniversary. The day started out like any other day for me. I got up early intending to go to the sunrise Easter service then come back and all go together as a family. This morning however everyone got up early and somehow someway we all got dressed and made it to the sunrise service at the chapel on base on time. On this particular day it also had been snowing. I had experienced white Christmases before but never a white Easter. Have you ever had one of those amazing moments orchestrated by God? Well this day was one of those moments. As the choir started to sing, they started singing a song about how much Jesus loves us and washes our sins white as snow. It was snowing outside on Easter … Read More

Words From the Cross

Heather GillisBible Study, Faith, HolidayLeave a Comment

How powerful are the last dying words from a person; especially when those words are from Jesus? Do you know that even in Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross he prayed for us? His last words are so telling of his undying love for us. These are the last words Jesus spoke before he died on the cross. The 7 Last Words Jesus Spoke on the Cross: 1. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). It amazes me even as Jesus was ridiculed, persecuted, beaten and crucified he still prayed for those who were killing him. He even forgave one of the men on the cross who was sentenced with him. Even in Jesus death he prayed for us and still had the power to make people right with God and cared about their salvation. 2. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NIV). These are the words Jesus said to one of the criminals sentenced with him after the criminal said, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Can you even imagine hanging on the cross suffering and Jesus says these words … Read More

Maranatha: He is Coming

Heather GillisFaithLeave a Comment

Did you know the first ever marathon ran in history was by a Greek soldier?   He ran from the city of Marathon to Athens to announce the defeat of the Persians in the Battle of Marathon.  He ran an approximate 26 miles to deliver the good news of their victory. Who knew that one man’s race for victory over 1,500 years ago, was setting the stage for the race many would run known as a marathon. I can’t even imagine running 26 miles after fighting in a battle, probably not having that much food or water and running in sandals (I don’t think they had running shoes back then)! My body would feel tired, hungry and exhausted if I didn’t get enough food, water or sleep.  This motivated Greek soldier didn’t exactly train for those 26 miles, he just ran! Well anyone who has ran a marathon knows going out to run 26 miles the first day isn’t the best way to run this long race. There needs to be a gradual increase of miles over weeks and months. Rest periods need to be incorporated as well as adequate nutrition, hydration and sleep to be able to perform well enough … Read More

The Victor’s Crown

Heather GillisFaith, Redemption4 Comments

Four years ago I had the unbelievable opportunity to participate in the 2013 Boston Marathon. It was unimaginable I was there. I looked around at the sea of runners thinking, how did I even get here? I didn’t feel worthy to be there, nor did I feel qualified even though I met the requirements to enter. This race was for elite runners and I wasn’t even close to that category. However, none of that mattered once the gun went off. Everyone started running full speed ahead to achieve the same goal—crossing the finish line. This is where we were put to the test. Were all the early morning training runs and nutritional diet going to pay off to get me to the end? Marathoners are a different breed. Who in their right mind gets up at 4 a.m. and runs 20 miles? I didn’t consider myself a marathoner, just someone who needed to put the pain to the pavement. I was searching for a place to heal and God led me to running. Running is where I spent time with God.  In my training God taught me so much. He showed me my hands and feet weren’t really mine anyway, they … Read More