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

God’s Friendship

Madison RosserFaithLeave a Comment

Any given day brings me about eight million opportunities to completely lose my mind. I am not what people would call a“chill” person. I like to be in control. You know, have my day go exactly according to my plans. Is that too much to ask? Apparently, it is. Not a day goes by that goes exactly as planned. If only I had learned to loosen my grasp by now. I am so thankful for God’s patience with me and my control issues. I believe God can work with me, at least that’s what He says. Lately, I’ve felt him chiseling away, molding me into a person with open hands, ready to receive what He has for me. (Keep in my mind, only this past Thursday did I break down in tears after a day gone wrong.) My pastor preached a sermon several weeks ago, focusing on Psalm 25. I’ll include some of the highlights, mashed together, below. But seriously, you should read the whole Psalm. Definitely worth your time. 1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, in you I trust    let me not be put to shame;    let not my … Read More

Nothing Can Separate You from His Love

Madison RosserFaith1 Comment

Do you ever feel like obstacle after obstacle arises when you are trying to accomplish a goal? Maybe your goal is something as big as landing a new job or as “small” as getting dinner on the table before 9 p.m., but for whatever reason, life seems to be working against you. We’ve all been there. Obstacles, however, are so beautifully incapable of thwarting God’s love towards us. His love is relentless, sure, steady, and constant. I was reminded of this truth as I read through the following passage in a Bible study last week. Romans 8: 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it … Read More

Balancing Rest and Rigor

Madison RosserFaithLeave a Comment

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23. Balance has never been my thing. Whether it’s a yoga pose or balancing my schedule, I always seem to topple over. At the same time, I love to work hard, to take risks, and to try new things, even if it means exhaustion, and if I choose to commit to something new, I’m all in. Do you see where “balance” gets lost in all of this? These past three weeks of starting school, coaching athletes, preparing for teaching in my classroom and the church, and loving family has left me sleep deprived and a bit stressed. When I committed to some new roles this year, I knew what I was stepping into; however, I have had my moments of doubt as I’ve let morning runs escape me, drank way too much coffee, and seen my husband for fewer moments than I’ve seen the mounds of paper chaotically spread across my classroom. The good news is: I know this season is brief while I adjust to a new schedule and finish out some short (but time-consuming) commitments. I know I am not the only one who … 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

A Call to Adventure

Madison RosserFaith2 Comments

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  My mom once bought me a green, wide-brimmed hiking hat from Value Village. She gave it to me for a backpacking trip I would go on before the start of my senior year of college. I quickly deemed this hat my “adventure hat.” The summer after I graduated college, I wore it on all sorts of grand adventures, and it has been a faithful companion of mine ever since– floating through the jungles of Borneo, scaling the Great Wall of China, kayaking the coves of Kodiak, and climbing the near and dear mountains that stand guard around my beloved city. My adventure hat, and the accompanying adventures, sometimes surprise me. When I look back at my childhood self, I was shy and often scared, but somewhere along the line of life, God opened wide my heart to his grand adventure for me. I’m not really talking about the adventures listed above either, but rather the … 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

A Holy Love At The Cross

Heather GillisFaith, TrialsLeave a Comment

I hope you enjoyed the love poem and prayer of God’s agapé love for us from last week. God’s love is a holy love. One that forgives and selflessly gives eternally forevermore. There is never an end or amount of God’s love. But sometimes God’s love doesn’t feel very loving does it? Let me explain. Six years ago my husband and I endured the biggest tragedy parent’s could ever go through—the loss of our son. He was born with an undetected kidney disease that was incompatible with life. He lived only two short weeks on this earth before he went to heaven. When he died I couldn’t believe God didn’t heal our son. We prayed so hard for him to be healed, didn’t God hear our prayers? If God loved us then why didn’t He heal our son? As time went by, I went before God with this very question and His response was “I did heal your son just not in the way you asked me to. He indeed is healed and living a life that is free from disease, pain or sorrow, he is no longer suffering.” Wow, God was right, He answered every single one of my … Read More

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 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

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

Dreams and Discipline

Madison RosserFaithLeave a Comment

I am a dreamer. Ask anyone that knows me and they will tell you I am an idealist, optimist, an ever-believing person of hope. I believe in New Years’ resolutions and setting goals. I believe in taking big, scary risks and little ones, too. I believe that the one kid who just can’t do it right day after day, that today just might be his day. I believe in toddlers potty training and in couch potatoes running and in addicts changing. I believe in you, and I know a God who does, too. Believing makes my heart beat a little faster, and I hope my believing in you to do both the boring and the big things will cheer you up and on in your work today. Today is a special day for me. It finds me feeling an extra kind of positive. Today, I cross the finish line of my first marathon. I may or may not be meeting my goal time, and I may or may not be smiling. However, I type about my finish with confidence, knowing those details don’t really matter. Today, I celebrate a dream completed and the discipline it took to get there. Recently, … Read More

My Spiritual Gift Didn’t Make The Cut

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, MotherhoodLeave a Comment

I have written many blogs over the last year and a half, on behalf of Alaska Christian Women’s Ministry, and although I have poured my heart out in this blog, week after week, I feel like my writings are just a very small sliver of who I really am.  I have shared about my heartaches and my trials, I have shared about my greatest losses, and my biggest blessings. I have written about my trust issues, and what God has been teaching me, but I feel like I haven’t  let you in on who I REALLY am.  I know what you’re thinking… “Oh my word, what now? Is she a witch or something?”  But my friends, today you’re in for a treat! You’ll be glad I came clean about who I really am.  (If you listened to the radio interview last week on the Living Well radio show, you might know where this is headed.) I know that the Bible is true and complete, but I have to be honest…I think I have one of those spiritual gifts that just didn’t quite make the cut. I don’t know if it seemed inappropriate at the time to write down the spiritual gift of “making people … Read More

Beautiful Weekend

Jewel ZymurgyFaithLeave a Comment

It was a beautiful weekend— The sun shined radiantly on the mountains each day and even when the rain came down it was warm and refreshing on my skin. Psalm 104:24 “O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all: the earth is full of your riches.” I was invited to a retreat for women by my Besty and without knowing any other person who was going to be there, who the speaker was going to be, nor really any detail at all—I accepted…purely because of her. These last couple of months have been pretty rough for me personally. Different situations going on were just crazy-making. I felt like so much time had been spent asking God for clarity, guidance and strength…asking for understanding, wisdom and to help me get out of the way…and yet I was so tired. In my prayer time I kept giving these things over to God, though daily or maybe even multiple times daily, I found myself taking back these situations that I had given to God, trying to manage them myself. These things weighed heavy on my heart, mind and emotions so the prospect of spending a couple of … Read More

Is Your Environment Stealing Your Peace?

Jen CudmorePrayer & FastingLeave a Comment

What is it about the ocean or a sunset or a waterfall that makes our heart skip a beat? That warm feeling grips us, like the pleasant sensation of a hot shower or a fresh cup of coffee. For a moment, the rest of the world disappears and we simply enjoy the beauty before us. Our environment affects our mood. Lighted rooms typically lift our spirits while dark rooms tend to give off a somber aura. Warm-colored paint fills us with peace while bright-colored paint promotes excitement. Plants and vegetation also produce a sense of happiness inside us, while sterile, man-made structures tend to leave us feeling stilted and cold. Why do women long to be surrounded by beauty? Because that’s how God made us! Beauty gives our souls a sense of comfort, peace and rest. Lovely things add joy to the mundane of life. In the hum-drum of life, we sometimes forget that we have a certain amount of control over our environment, and therefore, our sense peace. If you find yourself often dissatisfied with life, you may need to rethink your environment. Since we can’t hop a plane to Hawaii or Niagra Falls whenever we want, we have … Read More