Stand Firm

stand-firmHave you ever been reading along during your daily devotional time and all of a sudden a verse just jumps out at you? Well this morning, a cool, fall morning, I was doing just that. Reading in Isaiah.  Oh how I love the book of Isaiah. He was truly a prophet before his time. But as I read along I came to Isaiah 7:9 “The head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is only Remaliah’s son. If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.’”

Ok, so part “A” of this verse I breezed right past. I know that the Jewish people looked down on Samaritan’s so I just read along. Then I read part “B”, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” I was stopped in my tracks. I went back and read it again and again, this morning. Then when I got to work I read it once again.

Do you realize how much truth is there? We often take that little five letter word for granted – FAITH. Scripture tells, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

Ok, so how do I do this? How do I stand firm in faith when I feel extremely weak, overwhelmed, scared or concerned?  At those times my faith seems to be very weak. Ladies, remember the old song “I Am Woman”? While I didn’t totally agree with all the lyrics of that song, we are women.  And a woman of faith can stand firm.

I believe wholeheartedly in praying scripture. God doesn’t need to be reminded of His promises, but He does like to know that we have read those promises and can quote them and stand firm in our faith on them.

So often I have been at a crossroad in my life; it may be illness,  relocating to a new community, children being hurt, or a fight with the hubby (yep it happens). At those moments when I don’t know what to do I look to scripture and hit my knees.

I recently did a Bible study with the young adults on Psalm 91, oh the many promises that are in that one chapter alone? There is one verse in that chapter that I have prayed when I have felt weak and unable to be firm in my faith. “No harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.” Psalm 91:10 Get this, ladies, and stand on it, “nothing will come near your tent.” What is your tent?  Your family! You can stand firm for nothing is going to overtake you. I have prayed this prayer time and again. You know what? He (God) has never let me down.

I am not sure why I felt the urge to write this but I believe it is for someone that really needs these words right now so pray with me…

Abba, I come to you right now for my sister(s) that are going through a time where they do not feel they have the faith to stand firm and I ask that you will keep all disaster from them and their family. That you will reveal yourself to them as that wonderful promise keeping Father. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Love to you all from my deepest heart!

Glennette Christian

Glennette Christian, the mother to three grown children, knows that God has had a constant leading in her life.  He has taken her to many places throughout the United States in ministry and currently has been led to Metlakatla, Alaska with her husband, Michael where they love the land and people.  While also raising her family, Glennette and Mike took in several other children along the way that needed a loving reminder of what it meant to have a caring parent present in their lives.  She is the grandmother to ten beautiful children and loves every minute she gets with them.  Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (NIV)

Glennette Christian, the mother to three grown children, knows that God has had a constant leading in her life. He has taken her to many places throughout the United States in ministry and currently has been led to Metlakatla, Alaska with her husband, Michael where they love the land and people. While also raising her family, Glennette and Mike took in several other children along the way that needed a loving reminder of what it meant to have a caring parent present in their lives. She is the grandmother to ten beautiful children and loves every minute she gets with them. Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (NIV)

3 Steps to Less Gossip

We all do it or have done it. Sometimes it comes out and we don’t even realize it. Words form and before we can stop them they spill from our mouth. Without intention, we are the very thing we were told not be in Titus 2 verse 3, slanderer.

What really is a slanderer? According to the Meriam-Webster Dictionary it is someone who will accuse someone else falsely or misrepresent them in order to defame or damage their reputation.  And isn’t this exactly what we do when we gossip?

I hate to admit that I have been the person who used gossip and hurt people that have been close to me and also those who are just acquaintances. It is a hard pill to swallow to walk knowingly with the fact that my words have been used to wound hearts deeply. I walk with regret of having done this every day and wish that I could take back words that I said, but I cannot and it pains me.

As women who want to serve Christ we have to guard our tongues at all times. 1 Timothy 3:11 says, “In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.” Can you honestly say this is you right now? I want to be the kind of woman in Proverbs 11:13, “a gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret”, whom other women want to go to talk to and trust with their life secrets; the ins and outs that make life turn.  I do not want to be a woman who spreads half truths about another woman and hurts with words.

James 3 says that a tongue out of control indicates a life out of control which can cause a lot of destruction. What, or should I say who, is the source of an uncontrolled tongue? Yep, Satan. He is the root of all gossip and harmful talk and slander. You (WE) need to know who you are working for when you are engaged in gossip.

The Greek word for slander is diabolos which happens to be used 34 times in the New Testament. Diabolos also means Satan and he is and will forever be a false accuser. He is the source of all evil. Do not allow him to have control over your tongue. Instead let yourself be prompted by the Holy Spirit to say what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report.

Here are three steps to help you not be the woman who speaks hurtful words:

3-steps-to-less-gossip

 

 

 

 

1.      Think first. Pause long enough to ask yourself if what you are about to say is true or false, exaggerated or accurate, healing or hurtful, grateful or complaining.

2.      Talk less. The Bible says that it is the wise who talk less. Speak only with words of God.

3.      Start now. Ask God to reveal to you when you are about to gossip or be harmful to another woman through your words and pray that he will guide you in saying what is necessary and not hurtful.

I found it helpful to look up more verses in the Bible that speak about gossip, slander, and harmful talk. I had no idea that there were so many verses that spoke against this. No, seriously. Try it. Find a concordance and go for it. I would list them all, but it would take another page to share them, but here are a few that you can look at to further your study time: Proverbs 16:28, 18:8, 20:19, 26:20, 26:22; Romans 1:29; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Leviticus 19:16…

Oh Lord, my tongue seems to have a mind of its own except we both know that is not true and I need to not make excuses for myself when I have done wrong. Help me to realize my words before they spill from my mouth and hurt someone I care about. Use my words for good and not evil and help me to be trustworthy in everything. Amen.

Tara DeMaris

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as the wife to David and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in Southeast Idaho. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women of all ages and customs. She loves to write and teach God's Word. Favorite Quote - "Make history with God and He will make history through you."

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as the wife to David and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in Southeast Idaho. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women of all ages and customs. She loves to write and teach God’s Word. Favorite Quote – “Make history with God and He will make history through you.”

The Name’s Useful

The assignment was to write a little something about who we are and why we are taking this online course and include a random fun fact about our self. Honestly, as soon as I am asked to say something fun, all witty answers exit stage right. I ended up walking the line of ho-hum by telling them that I grew up a Navy brat and I had to move thirteen times by the time I was eighteen. I shared that this probably helped me to break through my introverted tendencies though I require a lot of down time after spending time with others. Real friendly and fun, right? Well, probably not, but I did enjoy reading about the coaches and my fellow classmates a great deal, and the following woman’s answer had me thinking, probably a little too much.

“One random fun fact about me is that outside of being a teacher I always wanted to work in a hospital to help people. In fifth grade I fainted at the sight of a video about scoliosis. I also have a hard time with blood and body parts. Ha! I learned quickly that God was calling me in another direction! There is no way I could make it being a nurse or tech of any sort.”

I imagine she was disappointed that she probably couldn’t handle the work of a nurse or a tech in a hospital, but I don’t know that she was heartbroken. It sounded as if she wanted to be a teacher just as much. This early knowledge most likely helped her focus her goals on teaching right away. That is something I didn’t do.

When I was supposed to be focusing on my future, I was holding down three jobs, going to school, and drinking away my off-hours. I was completely unfocused and on the fast track to graduating with a masters in failure. Through it all I had constant reminders that people had high expectations for me, but I was ruining everything by labeling myself “ugly”, “unworthy”, “messed-up”, and “useless”. I think of myself as being like Onesimus in the Bible, however.

Go ahead and puzzle over my dizzying intellect. I’m just trying to be real with you. This is how my mind works: new acquaintance learns early that she cannot handle work in a hospital helping people…her other interest was teaching, and I assume it was easy for her to focus on a teaching profession…I wasn’t focused on anything positive, in fact I was trying to deaden my feelings of depression by drinking when I should have been deciding on a profession in college…read about Onesimus.

Do you remember who Onesimus is in the Bible? He’s the useless slave, thief, and runaway who met Paul, who was in prison at the time, and was converted to following and serving Christ alongside Paul. Did you know the name Onesimus actually means useful? I so appreciate the play on words Paul uses in his appeal to good friend and Christian brother, Philemon, who happened to be Onesimus’ owner and the person Onesimus stole from before running away.

I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. Philemon:10-11

Onesimus was once a useless slave, thief, and runaway, but when the letter arrived with Onesimus to set things right between the slave and his owner, Onesimus was living up to his name, and Paul had this to say about the man.

I am sending him – who is my very heart – back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good – no longer as a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord. Philemon:12-16

I was at the brink of complete self-destruction when I finally gave myself to God. That’s when He rewrote my beginning; I was born again. Just as Paul was ready to pay Philemon for any wrong or debt Onesimus may have had outstanding with him, Jesus paid for all that I owed and conquered all the wrong I did, and I hope you believe and accept that He has done this for you also. There is no need to compare my old self to anyone else, I am new…period. I can only compare who I once was with who I am today. He changed my name. He calls me “beautiful”, “forgiven”, “redeemed”, even “useful”. What does our Father call you?

Dearest Father, Thank You that I can face each day with my head held high. I look to You as the definition for who I am. You are my king, You are my redeemer, You are the conqueror and keeper of my heart. I pray every woman who reads this will know the joy of becoming Yours. Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear: Forget your people and your father’s house. The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him for He is your lord. (Psalm 45:10-11) You are my LORD, and I love You. Amen.

Lorinda Freeman

Lorinda has a passion and desire to teach children about the love of God.  She is a homeschooling mom of four and together as a family they work within their church with the children’s programs making sure the hearts of all the children are being taught God’s love for them.  Lorinda and her husband, Chris, make their home in Hibbing, Minnesota after Lorinda had endured extensive travel growing up as a Navy “brat”. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-13, “We are not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.  As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.  We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.  Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.  You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.  For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Lorinda has a passion and desire to teach children about the love of God. She is a homeschooling mom of four and together as a family they work within their church with the children’s programs making sure the hearts of all the children are being taught God’s love for them. Lorinda and her husband, Chris, make their home in Hibbing, Minnesota after Lorinda had endured extensive travel growing up as a Navy “brat”. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-13, “We are not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Lessons from the Students

As a teacher I spend a lot of time preparing lessons that teach the objective at hand and keep the students attention. I am blessed that I get to do this at a Christian School. I love bringing God’s word into math, reading, and science and teach Bible lessons.  Much of the time as I am teaching God has a lesson for me.

Last year was tough.  My husband, Scott’s, peripheral neuropathy got exponentially worse.  He cannot feel anything in his feet.  His hands are not much better.  Our lives changed dramatically, as he went from the major bread winner to stay at home dad.  With all the changes our family went through, God was there.  When I thought that I couldn’t go on, or make it through the day, God would show me He was there. He was strong during this weak time in my life.  He was my strength that got me through. I believe I learned more from God through my students than I taught them.

As I tried to decide if I would stay teaching or try and find another job that paid more money, I sought God’s guidance.  I would go to school every day and put on that show for my students; teaching them the word of God, but with each lesson I was learning more from Him.

I shared with my students my husband’s illness and how God was providing for my family. Everything from friends giving us food to our dog bringing us money (not only once but twice.)  All the while praying that God would show me the path I was to take. Just when I thought I should find a job with more money and medical insurance, He would guide my path back to staying where I was at.

Some examples of this are: one of my students came and told me she was fasting from candy for a week while praying for Scott’s healing. Another student came and said he would bring me all of his money if I needed it. Parents came and started to ask what disease my husband had because their child would pray for Scott at night during their prayer time.

I realized that my family was much bigger than I thought. God used my students to show His love for me and my family.

The moment that I knew the path to take came during a chapel lesson.  I was teaching about the Armor of God; the Sword of the Spirit to be exact. I was teaching the students that God’s Word was alive and powerful. God’s Word is different than what the world tells us and it cuts through falsehoods.  In this particular lesson we talked about how the world tells us that having possessions and MONEY are the most important things; that they will make us happy.  God’s Word says “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matt 6:33, NLT). I had prepared this lesson, but it wasn’t until I said these words out loud to the students that they cut through me like the very sword I was speaking of. It was at that moment that I knew taking the path that may lead to having more money and more things wouldn’t solve our problems.  I had to stay on the path that I was on and keep teaching.

God is providing everything that we need.  We are still adjusting and, yes, we still have problems, but we have laughter in our house; laughter and joy.  We are seeking God and his kingdom. It’s not always easy, but when I start to feel lost or hopeless, it never fails, I learn a lesson from the lesson I thought was for my students.

The Bible verse God showed me for my class this year is, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”, found in Colossians 3:23 (NIV).  I am not working for money or for anyone but the Lord.  God has placed me here at Victory Christian Academy for another year.

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that we can continue to seek your guidance in all that we do.  I pray for anyone reading this that is sitting at the crossroads, wondering which way to turn that you show them where you want them to go.  Bless those that are seeking to find you.  I thank you that you provide all that we need.  Help us weed out what we don’t need and get rid of things that keep us from You.  Amen.

Shannon Smith

Shannon is the mother to three wonderful children and wife to Scott for almost sixteen years.  Together their family makes their home in northern Minnesota on a 40 acre farm.  They love all things outdoors including hunting and fishing and taking care of their chickens and cow.  Shannon’s passion lies in teaching her students, writing and reading.  One day, it is her dream to write a children’s book.  Shannon’s heart is to love the Lord and be used of Him.  Shannon has her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Bemidji State University.

Shannon is the mother to three wonderful children and wife to Scott for almost sixteen years. Together their family makes their home in northern Minnesota on a 40 acre farm. They love all things outdoors including hunting and fishing and taking care of their chickens and cow. Shannon’s passion lies in teaching her students, writing and reading. One day, it is her dream to write a children’s book. Shannon’s heart is to love the Lord and be used of Him. Shannon has her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Bemidji State University.

Monday Mayhem

I want to take you back to August. Yes, I realize that it wasn’t that long ago and most of you are very happy to moving into fall, but our dear Tiffany had some wisdom to share that day and I wanted to share it with you again. Please follow the link to the article. If you have read it, well, read it again because we all have something we can learn and learn again, right! I’m with ya there.

Ladies, I pray that you have the most amazingly blessed day as you live out what Christ has set before you. Remember that you are never alone in this journey. You have a friend, well, more than just one if you count all of us at Titus II Woman. We are here for you as your friend and sister. God has a plan in all this…

https://beingthetitusiiwoman.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/stamp-of-approval/

As always….Read, Like, Share, Comment and ENJOY!

Tara

 

Laughter Is Good Medicine – Double My Dose!

laughter-is-good

“Well now, that was a different kind of experience. I didn’t know I had it in me!”
Those were my thoughts directly following our daughters first cross country meet two years ago. Here is the humorous retelling from my mental archive:
My husband and I just ‘participated’ in our daughter’s first cross country meet. Having never done this before, we needed to be brought up to speed. Little did I know ‘speed’ was the operative word!
There were no bag chairs, no bleachers and definitely no popcorn. There wasn’t a map of the course available so we decided to just ‘follow the crowd’ of seasoned veteran spectators. How hard could it be right?
Hold on, here we go!
The GUN FIRED! The crowd’s cheering sounded thunderous. Within seconds more than five hundred of us watching were now RUNNING to cross the golf course to keep the cheering momentum going. Three hundred yards later this mamacita was suckin’ wind, but ohhhh, sweet sister in Christ, I was cheering my little lungs out (what was left of them anyway)!
Before I could adequately recover the crowd swung back around and off we were running to the next point and the next and the next. This was exhilarating! Asthma could have been a contributing factor to all this exhilaration I suspect, but I was all in, asthma or not.
Quickly I learned that spectator is a rather misleading word in this particular sport, but we enjoyed every minute of watching our daughter compete with her team. I think at some odd moment of broken concentration my daughter saw me as a competitor in this unusual display of ‘my mother is running!?’
The thrill of running is in the fiber of my family on varying levels thanks to my husband’s genes. He has always been a lover of running. Now in his forties he doesn’t have as much time in the day to leisurely run, but just over a month ago I witnessed the man wake up, lace up his running shoes and go medal in a 5K. I, on the other hand, am the woman who never uses the word ‘leisure’ and ‘run’ in the same sentence, unless I’m blogging I guess!
We all have the things we are good at and just come easy for us. Isn’t it wonderful how unique God made each of us? We are a package deal of giftedness for His glory.
“Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” James 1:17
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14
I may not be strong in the area of athletic prowess, but I’ve been known to break a sweat and get pretty winded with outbursts of laughter. I think that can count for being physically exerting right?!
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Proverbs 17:22
As you get to know me here at Titus II Woman, you will see that I have a natural bent towards humor and encouragement. I really want those gifts to be used everywhere I interact in the Body of Christ to point people to the goodness of God through the Gospel and His incredible, unchanging Word.
When you discover Christ as Lord your outlook on life can’t help but be transformed! Your purpose for living is taken to a whole new level and life really begins to be abundant and full because of Christ and what He has done for us in His life, death, and resurrection.
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10b
How has God designed you to fulfill His purpose? Think on that a while today. Are you an encourager? Do you have a passion for hospitality? Maybe you have this amazing gift of administrative skill that really gets put to good use within your sphere of influence. However you were designed by God, rededicate those gifts to be used for His glory and namesake. Persevere in this life to make Christ known in your home, your church, your community. Where ever you are, run with endurance (Hebrews 12:1) making the good news of Christ known and seize every opportunity, using your gifts, to magnify our great Savior!
“Father, thank You for Jesus! Thank You for offering us a new identity in Him as we place our trust in Him for salvation. You have made us each with a special set of gifts and a personality that is uniquely designed by You and for You. Help us to celebrate Your creativity as Your image bearers and to use every aspect for the work Your Kingdom. May we have the joy of the Lord as our strength as we run the race towards the prize of eternity with You forever! Oh what a wonderful hope we have when hidden in Christ. ~ Amen.

Cindy Nyberg

Cindy comes into Titus II Woman Ministry with a gift of writing and speaking. Her passion to share the goodness of Jesus Christ spills from the page and into your heart. Cindy is known to light up the room with the joy of Jesus and contagious laughter! Admittedly she says her one and only hobby is enjoying great conversation with friends over a good cup of coffee. She volunteers her time with multiple ministries within her local church. She is the wife to Tracy and mom to four amazing kids. Together, Cindy and her family make their home in Nebraska. “Only one life ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last”-Charles Studd.

Cindy comes into Titus II Woman Ministry with a gift of writing and speaking. Her passion to share the goodness of Jesus Christ spills from the page and into your heart. Cindy is known to light up the room with the joy of Jesus and contagious laughter! Admittedly she says her one and only hobby is enjoying great conversation with friends over a good cup of coffee. She volunteers her time with multiple ministries within her local church. She is the wife to Tracy and mom to four amazing kids. Together, Cindy and her family make their home in Nebraska. “Only one life ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last”-Charles Studd.

Navigating Life

navigating-life“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!” (1Corinthians 13:12 MSG)

My brother is a pilot. Lately he has been flying charter flights. After piloting through tough weather the other day, he was discussing the adventure with my mother. “Mom flying in those clouds sometimes makes me feel uneasy. I feel like I don’t know where I’m going and the thought crosses my mind, what if my instruments aren’t right, what if I’m not where they say I am.” What a terrible feeling! To be the one commanding the plane and your only “eyes” are those instrument panels. But after a brief moment of panic you just have to trust in what you’ve been taught, trust that those instruments and navigational skills you learned will get you to your destination.

It’s a lot like our journey in life. Sometimes we feel like we are in the midst of the clouds just hoping that we aren’t on the road to disaster. We even have brief (sometimes not so brief) moments of panic. But reality is we have to trust in our navigational system as well. God’s Word, his guidance and the Holy Spirit working through us.

I love how The Message Bible states the 1 Corinthians verse above. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. Much like my brother, the pilot, we are straining to see if we are really on the right course. But just like planes come through the storms and the weather clears, we too will see clearly one day.

Until then we trust our instruments. We trust in an all knowing God. There is a song written by Babbie Mason entitled Trust His Heart. The following are some lyrics from that song:

When you don’t see His plan  When you can’t trace His hand  Trust His heart.

When you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart. When it seems like you might not be in the right place, like your instrument panel might be failing, trust His heart. What is his heart? Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that His plans for us are good. Romans 8 tells us that he works all things together for our good for those that love God and are called according to his purpose. Now it might not look like what we imagined. It might not even be exactly what we like, but we have to trust what we know about God. Get in His word and cling to his promises. Keep remembering that He has it all under control. He is our instrument of peace.

Father, I pray that we would continually trust in you. When the clouds move in and our vision dims help us to trust you, knowing someday we will clearly see your plan. Amen.

Amanda Keller

Amanda is a homeschooling mother of two great children and wife to Nathan. While Amanda grew up in Jordan, Montana, their family makes their home in North Dakota. Amanda's passion for leading others in worship shines through along with her love for Jesus, her family and laughter. Their family loves to support Compassion International in whatever way possible. Amanda holds associates degrees in both music performance and office administration from Trinity Bible College. "Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but something you raise." ~Andy Stanley

Amanda is a homeschooling mother of two great children and wife to Nathan. While Amanda grew up in Jordan, Montana, their family makes their home in North Dakota. Amanda’s passion for leading others in worship shines through along with her love for Jesus, her family and laughter. Their family loves to support Compassion International in whatever way possible. Amanda holds associates degrees in both music performance and office administration from Trinity Bible College. “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but something you raise.” ~Andy Stanley

Are You Pretending?

Ladies, hello! Trust God today. He is working in your life, and if you are going through a tiresome, weary, discouraging time, trust Him! He IS working! If you are living in energetic, top-of-the-mountain times, trust Him! He IS working! Amen?!

What I want to talk to you about is a story in the Bible that many of us have probably heard many times. If not, it will be an exciting revelation of God’s love for you, so let’s go there!

modern-woman-at-the-wellIt’s a story that takes place in the New Testament, in John 4. Jesus finds himself tired and stopping in Samaria, resting at a well. Just to give you a little inside story, Jesus was a Jew and He was resting at a well in Samaria. Jews did not associate with Samaritans. But isn’t it just like Jesus to come searching us out in the most unpleasant places of life?! I love how he pursues me, no matter where I go. It says in Psalm 139:7-8 that there is no place we can be in life that He won’t be there with us! He loves us! And that’s just what He was doing for one Samaritan woman in this story.

He (Jesus) is sitting at the well and a Samaritan woman comes to get some water, and he asks her for a drink. She is taken back by this, as she knows he is a Jew. They have a conversation. Jesus talks to her about spiritual water, and she keeps coming back to the physical water. Then he does something so unpredictable; he asks her to go get her husband. What?!

So she responds that she has no husband, and Jesus, if you will, reads her mail. You know, that stuff that we don’t want anybody to know, not proud of, create some kind of façade so that we can hide it and somehow hide our brokenness and put on our best face so that people don’t ask? Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, he tells her that she is indeed not married, but has had five husbands and the man she is living with now is not her husband. Talk about putting it all out on the table??!! Why would he do this to her?

Because…Jesus can’t heal, redeem, and set free who we pretend to be! He can only heal what is really hurting and broken! But he is so desiring and willing! That’s why he brought up this hurt and brokenness of her life that she was trying to hide.are-you-pretending

They have some more conversation that brings her more revelation of his love for her. Like when she tries changing the subject (ever tried that?) about where it is proper to worship, and He breaks down all walls (remember she’s a Samaritan), and says that one day it won’t matter where she worships, but that she will worship in Spirit and in truth! I love that!! Sometimes we get so stuck on the physical form of our worship and God reminds us that’s now what matters, it’s the condition of our heart!!

After she mentions that the Messiah is coming and he will reveal the truth of all these matters, and Jesus says, “I am He.”

Her heart is forever changed. He, the Christ, the Messiah, knows the truth about me and yet breaks down all these walls with such love and acceptance that her heart cannot deny it!! Look what she does next!

She goes back to her Samaritan friends and family (maybe, if they hadn’t shunned her) and tells them in verse 39, “He told me everything I ever did.” Have you ever been so excited to share your weaknesses, hidden sins?? This woman is so excited to share openly, because her heart has been changed by his love. She no longer has to hide her sin and live with a ball and chain! What relief! What love and acceptance! And what happens because of her REAL testimony? Many Samaritans came to meet and believe in Him and became worshippers of Jesus Christ! What an incredible exchange of “beauty for ashes” he makes out of our lives, huh?!

Ladies, I want to encourage you that when Jesus opened up the subject of the woman’s marital status at the well he was going there to heal this woman and set her free from something that had held her captive for so long. And He wants to do the same for you. So allow Jesus to sit at the well with you, look into your eyes, and deal with the real issues of your heart! Redemption is waiting. And He does not waste these moments, for look at the harvest of souls she reaped because her heart was truly changed and set free and now she knows real love! All because her Savior is TRUTH, and the “truth shall set you free.”

Jesus, thank you for seeking us out at the unpleasant places in life. Thank you for waiting for us at the well and seeking us out to set us free and love us from the pains and decisions, life that has happened to us that we are not proud of. And instead you turn it into power that brings people to the cross and that no longer has a hold on us! THANK YOU! I pray for all the ladies that are reading this that you will call out these hidden ball-and-chains and break their hold over us! Set us free with your love, forgiveness, and incredible acceptance. And, may others come to believe in you because of your touch in our REAL story. We love you and we trust you! Thank you, Amen.

Karissa Nelson

Karissa has one of the most beautiful voices you will ever hear, but on top of that talent and gift God has given her, she is a mother to three beautiful children and a helpmate to her husband, Shane. Together they raise their family and minister in Milton-Freewater, Oregon where Karissa grew up. Her passion for worship and family surround her daily. Isaiah 30:15, "This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'Is repentance and rest in your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength'" (NIV).

Karissa has one of the most beautiful voices you will ever hear, but on top of that talent and gift God has given her, she is a mother to three beautiful children and a helpmate to her husband, Shane. Together they raise their family and minister in Milton-Freewater, Oregon where Karissa grew up. Her passion for worship and family surround her daily. Isaiah 30:15, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘Is repentance and rest in your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength'” (NIV).

Moments

momentsI just finished reading “A Beautiful Mess” by Danielle Strickland.  Just the title intrigued me…it’s a little oxymoronic and just what I needed (yes, I recommend it). It’s one of those books that has questions to answer at the end of the chapter – yeah, not really my thing either.  I always tell myself that I’ll “come back to it later” when I have more time and can really delve into those deep questions.  Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m always optimistic.  Anyway…I do at least read the questions and ponder, albeit briefly, my answers.  In a chapter titled, “Think Bigger,” one of the end-of-chapter questions (and these were by far the simplest, easiest-to-answer questions in the book) asked, “What do you enjoy most about life?”  I was completely stumped.  Most of the questions in the book I at least had a random thought or two in my head as I pretended to answer the question.  This one…nada.

Which in itself is telling, right?  Exactly.  So I figured I’m a failure.  That’s it God, take me out.  How can a 52-year-old, walking-with-Jesus, happily married, gainfully employed in a job I love, mother of four healthy and relatively-happy young men, not have an answer to what she enjoys most about life?!  I was so frustrated with myself.  Goodness-gracious, I teach psychology to hundreds of students each year and I’ve got nothing for this?  Okay, I’m rambling now…but you see why I would be frustrated with myself on this one, right?

So I kept that question – what do I enjoy most in life –  in the back of my head through the next few days waiting for some momentous ah-ha moment when I would realize what I enjoy most.  Many things came to mind that I do enjoy…laughing with my family, walks in nature, sitting by my pond reading, scrapbooking, being with friends and family…the usual, but nothing of the “most” enjoyed caliber.

At one point I read Psalm 90, which, in case you’re not aware, is the only Psalm written by Moses.  Now Moses is quite a guy.  First, he had 40 years as a Prince of Egypt, living in the lap of luxury, having and doing pretty much anything he wanted to do or have, the best education money could buy, riches, palaces, servants…he had it all!  Then he spent 40 years basically alone as a shepherd; he had time to ponder the last 40 years and the present, and what the future might hold.  The last 40 years of his life he was the leader of the Jewish nation, dealing with not only his own issues, but everyone else’s!  He went from not knowing diddly about God to having face-to-face conversations with God.  I figure he’s got to know a whole lot more than I do about “enjoying life”.  As Moses puts it:

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.  Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”  Psalm 90:1-2

God is good.  Really, really good.  He is God, before all, creator of all, eternal, and he loves you!  As our dwelling place he’s a shelter, a refuge, a place we can be safe and secure.  God is definitely good.

“You turn men back to dust saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men.”  For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.  You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning – though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered.”  Psalm 90:3-6

Life is short.  If you had a yardstick of the existence of humanity in your hand, your life is barely a sliver of time.  Your life, my life, everyone’s life is short.  Which brought me back to what do I most enjoy about this short life I’ve been given?

Life.  I enjoy life.  All those small “moments” of our days add up to “life”.  There’s the big moments of course, but even big moments, like getting married, a long-awaited vacation, graduation, a child’s first step…all just moments in life.

When I was younger I wanted to have this awesomely huge life that wasn’t just enjoyed but reveled in!  I thought I’d do amazing, wild things, crazy-change-the-world kind of things.  Go everywhere, see everything, do it all!  I have done a lot of things, went some places, seen a number of things.  But I haven’t done anything amazing.  I haven’t changed the world.

Yet God gave me a “moment” the other day, a moment that was definitely “most enjoyed.”

A former student, a young lady that had some challenges to overcome in the last few years, brought her younger brother to meet me because he was a bit nervous and was enrolled in one of my classes later that day.  She introduced me with these words: “This lady changed my life and if you let her, she can change yours too.”  Just a little moment for me…a little moment here and there when I had this young lady as a student…and yet God used me to change her life.  Wow.

It’s okay that I haven’t changed the world, but the tiny pebble “moment” of my impact in that young lady’s life that I wasn’t even too cognizant of, had a ripple effect.  A moment here, a moment there…God has blessed me with these moments in life to enjoy because life is short, and He is definitely very, very good.

Lord, please forgive us our selfishness and blindness.  We look only at our own lives and don’t see what you have laid before us.  Help us to enjoy each moment you give us on this earth; to see what you see and reach out with your love, grace and compassion to those around us. “I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.  Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom…the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.  The Lord is good to all…” (Psalm 145) 

Stacey Ray

Stacey is the mother to four sons ages 15 to 21, and the wife to Rex, one very understanding husband.  Stacey has a passion to help people become the best that they can be and she currently does that as a community college instructor in psychology and human development.  With this same passion in mind, her family supports many other outreaches including Children’s Vision in Bogota, Columbia (an orphanage and school) and She is Safe, India (a ministry empowering women and children to avoid human trafficking by giving them value and worth in their communities). Originally from California, Stacey and her family currently make their home in northern Minnesota where they are actively involved in their church’s mission of seeing real people make real change. Stacey’s favorite quote is by Chip Ingram:  “I am nothing without Jesus. But in Him and through Him I can do great things!”

Stacey is the mother to four sons ages 15 to 21, and the wife to Rex, one very understanding husband. Stacey has a passion to help people become the best that they can be and she currently does that as a community college instructor in psychology and human development. With this same passion in mind, her family supports many other outreaches including Children’s Vision in Bogota, Columbia (an orphanage and school) and She is Safe, India (a ministry empowering women and children to avoid human trafficking by giving them value and worth in their communities). Originally from California, Stacey and her family currently make their home in northern Minnesota where they are actively involved in their church’s mission of seeing real people make real change. Stacey’s favorite quote is by Chip Ingram: “I am nothing without Jesus. But in Him and through Him I can do great things!”

The Sweetest Name I Know

“Mama! Cup on the floor!”

“Mama! Mama! Mama! See, moon!”

“Mama! Where’s Sissy?”

My two-year-old son, Jabez, says my name no less than two hundred times a day, and that’s conservatively.  He calls my name sometimes just to say “Hi!”.  I think my name is his favorite word, and that’s saying a lot since he asks for a certain cartoon mouse all day long!

sweetest-name-2My family thinks it’s hilarious.  I have other people comment “Don’t ya just want to change your name at times?”

I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately.  I remember the days when I longed for someone to call me Mommy.  Now I have four of them! Throughout a day, I hear “Mom. . .”, “Mama”, “Mommy”, and even the baby gibbers “Ma-Ma”.  It’s so sweet! And yes, sometimes it’s annoying when an older boy is tattle-telling. . . again.

Or when I’m on the phone and I hear “Mama, mama, mama, mama. . . Hi!”

Or if their Daddy is in the same room as them and they are fussing for “Mama” and Dada would love to cuddle or help!

But truly, I love it.  I love that my kids, all of them: two 8-year-olds, a 2-year-old, and a 1-year-old can call on their Mama! They want to share things with me, tell me stories, show me the moon or a boogie on their finger.  They want to give me a snuggle or get my help with something.  They desire for me to be around and need to know I’m near.

I’m sure my mom feels the same when I call her regularly and she hears me say “Hey, Mama!” I can’t imagine ever getting over my children call for me.  What I really love about it, however, is that as much as I love my kiddos and as much as I want to hear them call for me, how much more does our Heavenly Father love to hear from us?  To hear us call on him?  You see, I imagine he gets lonely for us.  Sure, he’s the God of all the universe and there are billions of people in this world.  But he loves each of us as if we were the only one.  And he longs for us to call on him, to show him our hearts.  He desires to have constant communion with each of us.

But, oftentimes, we get too busy.  We wait until Sunday (or Easter) to think of Him or call on Him.  Sometimes, we only say his name when we’ve stubbed our toe.

Scripture is full of verses regarding prayer. God wants to hear from us!

  • We can have confidence He hears us:  1 John 5:14, “This is the confidence we have in Christ Jesus, if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
  • He listens.  Jeremiah 29:12 “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me and I will listen.”
  • We should pray continually and always give thanks: I Thessalonians 5:16, “Rejoice always, praying continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
  • He is near: Psalms 145: 18: “The Lord is near to all who call on him, who call on him in truth.”

There is power in the name of Jesus! We can have confidence in Him! He is near to us and he listens!

sweetest-nameMama, when you’re overwhelmed with all the demands on your life, when you’re so excited about the new things happening, when you have a need that you just can’t figure out how to meet it, or when you just need a friend: Call on Jesus.  It’s the sweetest name I know!

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.  I ask that you forgive me for neglecting our time together.  But I call out to you now! I give you thanks for all that you have done for me! I ask that you move in the areas of my life where I lack.  I pray that you draw close to me and comfort me.  Help me to remember to always draw close to you! You are the sweetest name I know!

Tiffany Heth

Tiffany is the mother to four amazing children, all God's miracle to their family, and she cherishes every moment given her to be with them.  John, Tiffany's husband, and their family make their home in Iowa, where they minister to a congregation of fellow believers.  Tiffany is not only a breast-feeding, cloth-diapering mother and a pastor's wife, but she takes great joy in nourishing her family with the wild game that they have been fortunate enough to harvest.  "How great is the Father's love for us that we shall be called children of God, for that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1

Tiffany is the mother to four amazing children, all God’s miracle to their family, and she cherishes every moment given her to be with them. John, Tiffany’s husband, and their family make their home in Iowa, where they minister to a congregation of fellow believers. Tiffany is not only a breast-feeding, cloth-diapering mother and a pastor’s wife, but she takes great joy in nourishing her family with the wild game that they have been fortunate enough to harvest. “How great is the Father’s love for us that we shall be called children of God, for that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1