Made White as Snow

You know the statement you will hear people say, “it’s only a pet?” I have a hard time with that statement.  God made our beloved pets for a reason and some come with a story as they touch your heart!

Few weeks ago we lost Rosie, a beloved sweet furry pet of ours, completely unexpected.

To say she was my buddy is an understatement. She was under my feet everywhere I went and she knew when I needed someone. She kept my husband’s side of the bed warm while he was deployed, she would lay on us when we were sick, and she was the first to greet us when coming in from a long day at work/school. Plain and simple; I loved her and after she passed I realize just quite how much.

rosie 1 dina

After her passing I stood in the kitchen one night and broke down. And as my husband stood there holding me with big crocodile tears coming down my face I whispered to him I can’t go through this pain again, it’s so hard and I said “after Lady goes no more dogs”. Lady is our 13-year-old dog whom also is so very loved. She’s at that age where she lies on her bed all day, her hips and arthritis hurt her a lot and keep her from playing and long walks. And it kills me to see her like that as well, I miss my spunky dog who could jump so high in the air and get her frisbee out of the tree branches way up high. She is the best and also our very first baby. But she still knows to give the best hugs and a cuddle bug!

During my time thinking on Rosie and her passing I couldn’t believe how God had His hand in it all. Pat and I along with the kiddos were off  from work/school on the day she passed. We are never off! And for us to be altogether was a huge blessing! God made it so when we woke up that morning and saw something was wrong we could rush her to  the vet and also speak comfort over her and tell her we love her so so much. Had it been any other day she would have passed away all alone. So though it was unexpected, God was truly in it. Through the sadness, I loved that He gave us the opportunity to be there for her.

2 Corinthians 1:3
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”

As days have passed we have been so busy as we prepare for a life change on our family on top of work/school. We weren’t out looking for anymore pets. If you remember I said no more animals, and that was that. And also with us moving it wouldn’t be good at this time. Just so much going on.

Until……I was on facebook one evening and saw this picture of a dog  whose eyes looked sad just like mine. I couldn’t stop looking at his eyes. He was matted up really bad in his fur and really dirty looking. Yet he intrigued me. I told myself no. Few days passed and he showed up again. Something about him touched my heart. It’s funny cause I can’t explain my feelings towards him. It wasn’t a “awwww look at the sweet dog I really want him.” I actually cannot explain how I felt.  I still was so fresh from losing Rosie I thought there is no way I can replace her, I just can’t. Over the days the dog would come to my mind at the oddest times of day. I told Pat this and said I need to see him I need to know about him. I didn’t actually have that feeling of I know this is our dog. I just wanted to know about him and why God put him on my heart. We walk in this back room that was really hot and honestly stinky and there he was in the first cage. He stood up holding onto the cage and there were those eyes right in front of me the same eyes I saw on my computer screen. The gentlemen asked if he wanted him out of the cage. I said yes mostly because I wanted to give him a break from being in a kennel. As he came out he became so excited and we played with him for a bit and let him run around and stretch his legs Then he came walking over to me and jumped on me and looked right up at me and so I got down on his level and cried….and cried. He was a mess like me lol. The gentleman helping us stood quietly as I had my moment of crying. As I gained my composure back I asked him what he could tell me about him. He was over a yr old and one time must have had a family(according to the looks of the paperwork) and was turned into the pound as a puppy.  A few weeks ago he was adopted and the guy brought him back after 5 hours because he scared him. Why you ask? Because the dog wanted to be with him everywhere and he couldn’t take it! Only 5 hours and once again returned. After he told us this I looked at him and loved on him, didn’t bother me how greasy, matted, dirty he was I just leaned in and hugged him, he needed it…..and so did I.

dog 2 dina

We put him back in his kennel which we had a hard time getting him back in there he did not want to go in, I didn’t blame him. I said lets give it a few days if he’s here I’ll actually seriously consider it. I wanted to make sure my emotions weren’t taking over and give it some serious thought. We got out to the front and we walked off and I knew God was in it I could feel Him. I looked at Pat and said, “I can’t, I feel we are to help him.” We talked for 20 mins and Pat knew too. And my teared up face probably didn’t help either lol.

We turned around and said he is ours there is no doubt and the guy who helped us said I’ve never been so happy.  He said he is the best dog, and we knew it too with just the little time we were with him. We needed him as much as he needed us.

After we got him groomed and he looked night/day different this verse immediately came to mind….Psalm 51:7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Our new furry friend reminded me how Jesus loves us. As our new furry pet came into our home and was cleaned up and the dirt and mess that was on him washed away it’s like us, as we go to the arms of Jesus.  We are made new. The mess we’ve been carrying, the dirt from our past is all gone and we are made white as snow.

Ladies,
You may feel like this little guy we came upon. Like you’ve been forgotten, unloved, dirty, and stuck in this world and not going anywhere.

You may feel like you’ve messed up so bad He forgot about you and won’t take you back. Don’t ever buy into the thoughts satan has given you. Jesus wants to take it all away He wants to show you how much you ARE loved and so worthy of Him. Your sins can be forgiven and you will be washed and made white as snow.

Heavenly Father,
I lift up anyone reading this prayer at this moment. Those whose hearts are broken, lives feel crushed by so much hurt and resentment, unloved by everyone, sins that feel so dirty it gets all matted up and stuck on us as satan tells us we’ve messed up so much God would never take us back because of our sins. I pray all chains are broken, I pray sins are washed away and we are white as snow through you. Let them know they are loved and you are always there and would never turn them away.
Thank you so much Lord for loving us and looking out for us. And thank you for showing yourself to us…..even through our furry four-legged friends. You are so good!
Amen

Introducing our sweet boy, Kiko Kiser. (I call him Mr. Kiko- gotta have southern manners)

kiko 3 dina

Dina Kiser

Dina loves her family with all her heart.  So much so that she documents every waking moment through taking pictures.  Along with this picture taking is a pumpkin spice latte addiction that fuels her clicking finger.  She is the mother of two beautiful children and the helpmate to her husband, Pat, who serves in the United States Army.  Dina and her family currently make their home in Fayetteville, North Carolina, but she grew up in the big sky of Billings, Montana.  Dina loves Jesus with everything she has and knows there is nothing He can not do. Philippians 4:13, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (NIV)

Come to Jesus

Key Verse:  John 7:38 , “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

Weary and exhausted, discouraged and lonely. So often feeling bereft of my identity and adrift, floating aimlessly, in this unpredictable sea known as motherhood; craving just a few moments to myself, perhaps to rediscover who I once was; my interests, talents, worth, passion for God. There are many joys in this parenting journey, but also many trials and moments of doubt and discouragement. Yet I know I’m not alone in these feelings, for many of you moms feel the exact same way. In fact, you may be nodding your head in assent as you read this, trying desperately to enjoy your morning coffee while the kids scream in the background, disrupting your one peaceful moment. You are tired in every possible way and thirsty for more of Jesus, yet never seeming to find the energy or time to pursue Him.

I often think back to a time in my life when it felt like all I did was seek God, and life seemed so easy.  I was twenty years old, having just graduated from Bible college, and I had moved back home with my parents to figure out where God wanted to take me next.  I was able to spend lots of quality time with my family, especially my Grandma, who had lived far away from me my entire childhood. I had a job that I loved, with lots of time to write and dream about my future, and I was involved with the youth ministry at my parents’ church. Of course I had my struggles even at that time: feeling fat, unattractive, and often despairing that this elusive husband God had promised would never find me, and I daily had to surrender those things to Him and rest in His promises for me. But I remember just being oh so content, so happy, so full of Jesus. Eager to sit at His feet and fellowship with Him, to worship, to pour my heart out before Him as He filled me with His amazing peace and joy. He spoke to me daily, never disappointed or failed me, and I was completely satisfied with Him alone. Overflowing with the goodness and faithfulness and love of God, and so secure in knowing I was His, and He was mine. Life really had never been so good.

And then, everything changed. God opened doors that I knew I was supposed to walk through, but gradually the busyness of life and ministry took more and more time away from my time with Him. And still, He faithfully fulfilled His promises by continuing to open doors of ministry, helping me lose that extra weight and bringing me my godly husband, then blessing me with a beautiful child, and now, another on the way.  I can honestly say that He has fulfilled my heart’s desires.  I feel so grateful and blessed, but with the responsibilities of marriage and motherhood, quality time with Him has become an almost insurmountable challenge.

Recently I found myself meditating on this verse in John 7:38, and I was amazed at how easy Jesus has made it for us to be filled with His life if we will simply come to Him, even if only for a few minutes a day. He said, “If anyone THIRSTS (whoa, that’s me!), let him COME to me and DRINK. He who BELIEVES in ME, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  Instantly, I knew God was speaking to me. I have been so thirsty for so long and yet…why is it so easy to do anything BUT come to the One who has the water that will satisfy? When I have some down time, it always seems easier to read a good novel, or sit exhausted and mindless on the couch in front of the TV, or simply go to sleep. I had to ask myself, do I come to Him when I’m thirsty? Exhausted? Empty of all strength? Do I come to Him when I’m overwhelmed with dishes and piles of laundry, and disciplining the seemingly endless rebellions of a determined 3 year old? Do I come to Him just to rest and receive, or do I go somewhere else?  I realized that with all that is expected of me, it often feels that He is just one more thing on my plate, one more obligation to fulfill. But He has gently shown me that is not the truth. You see, He has already done everything. He has torn the veil and made the way to the Father. He has defeated the enemy and won the battle. He has provided all things for my life on earth and my life in eternity. He has done it all! What more is there for me to do than to simply COME, to DRINK, and to REST in His arms? Matthew 11:28-30 is such good news to me because I’m not required to “do” anything when I come to Him, but rather to rest and receive from His fullness. “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest…you WILL find rest for your souls.” Oh, what joy! To know He is saying to me and to you today, “COME to Me, RECEIVE from Me, REST in Me! It doesn’t matter what burden you carry. Don’t wait, don’t hesitate, come and I will take that burden and give you rest. I AM to you whatever you need!”

Tears threatened as I listened to what He spoke to my heart, and I was reminded of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. I’ve always identified more with Mary, but like Martha, I tend to become anxious and troubled about earthly things, which can and usually does rob us of the ONE thing that is needful…sitting at the feet of Jesus and letting Him minister to our souls. Letting Him breathe life into our spirits, rest into our weariness, joy into our dreary days, peace into our chaos, and, for those like me, identity and meaningfulness into our lack of it. Quenching our aching thirst with His never-ending living water, that revitalizes and strengthens, and in turn flows out of our hearts into others. Wow. I’m amazed that all we have to do is COME and He does the rest. So beautiful, so amazing, so wonderful is our Jesus, and He delights in fulfilling our needs.  So I invite you to come to Him today. Come with me, come to find rest and life and the quenching of your thirst.  Be filled to overflowing with all that you need and more. Even now He is waiting, and His arms are open wide.

Father, in Jesus’ name I come to You. I am thirsty and needy, but I thank You that You are all that I need. Help me to continually come and drink deeply of this living water that never runs dry, to shut out the distractions of life, even if only for a few moments, and just look to You and find rest and hope and help. When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I! Thank You for loving me and providing all I will ever need in Your embrace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Sharilyn Edgerle

Sharilyn is the mother to an adorable little man, Isaac, and met her husband, Enoch, through eHarmony in.  She grew up and graduated high school in Montana.  Together they make their home in Michigan. Sharilyn’s passion rests in sharing the love of Jesus with others through evangelism, music and writing.  She has recently been asked to lead worship for a local church and started writing for the Titus II Woman blog team.  Sharilyn is a graduate of Trinity Bible College with an Associates of Arts degree in Music Performance.  Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, says the Lord.”

Sharilyn is the mother to an adorable little man, Isaac, and met her husband, Enoch, through eHarmony in. She grew up and graduated high school in Montana. Together they make their home in Michigan. Sharilyn’s passion rests in sharing the love of Jesus with others through evangelism, music and writing. She has recently been asked to lead worship for a local church and started writing for the Titus II Woman blog team. Sharilyn is a graduate of Trinity Bible College with an Associates of Arts degree in Music Performance. Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord.”

White Hairs

Key Verse:  Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

There is nothing quite as horrendous as just having made a commitment of not coloring your hair for an entire year, age thirty-three, and literally finding multiple, MULTIPLE white hairs a week later.  There were no ease-it-in grey hairs or half brown half grey hairs, they were just pure white. WHITE.  I am thirty-three years old and I have white hairs growing from my head!  I figured making an oath to not color my hair would be simple, well, because I really only do it maybe twice a year, if I am fortunate, and my hair is healthy so this should be simple, right.  I was so, somewhat, wrong.  The white hairs came at a time when I just didn’t want to have anything else amiss happen.  While you may be thinking that white hairs are not a real problem, they are not the end of the world, you are totally right, but this was just the icing on the wrong cake for me.  These past two years have been a whirl wind of disappointments, some great things have happened, but simply put, disappointment has been part of nearly every day vocabulary.  You know exactly what I am saying, because even though you may not be suffering from white hairs at thirty-three, you have dealt with some tough stuff and I am guessing it just feels like it follows you wherever you go.  My new saying is, “God is my refuge. God is my strength.  God is my shelter.”  I say it every day, all day, all night.  I imagine that I say it in my sleep as well.  So, when I feel like I just want to scream at the next thing that is thrown on my plate of life, I try to take a deep breath, usually with some awesome essential oil in the palm of my hand, and say what gives me all the comfort I need for that moment.  Oh, I still have some really-bad-days, really I do, but even in the bad days I am covered by the blood of the Lamb, and because I made a commitment to serve God with my whole heart, I know that my God has got all my steps redeemed and placed toward a future with Him.

Where does this leave you? Where does this leave me? Well, it leaves us in the hands of Jesus. Yep, it’s just that simple.  I have to let go of everything that is happening to me because most of it I cannot handle alone or change the happenings.  I decided to leave it in the hands of Jesus and trust that it will be all taken care of in His timing and perfect will.  Hard? Yes.  Impossible? No.  Are you ready to put your white hairs in the hands of Jesus?  Trust me when I say, you will feel so much better.

Lord, situations feel completely impossible and drowning.  I cannot do this on my own.  I hand them to You and trust that You will take care of my needs.  I trust You.  Amen.

Tara DeMaris

Tara, graduate of Crown College, is the mother to four beautiful children.  Together, Tara and her husband, David, and their family make their home in Northwest Missouri.  Tara is passionate about reaching the hearts of women and young ladies.  She loves to write and teach God's Word.  God put a desire in Tara's heart over six years ago to start a ministry that reached women.  Today Tara has founded Titus II Woman Ministries and God is showing her miracles and his hand at work every day.

Tara, graduate of Crown College, is the mother to four beautiful children. Together, Tara and her husband, David, and their family make their home in Northwest Missouri. Tara is passionate about reaching the hearts of women and young ladies. She loves to write and teach God’s Word. God put a desire in Tara’s heart over six years ago to start a ministry that reached women. Today Tara has founded Titus II Woman Ministries and God is showing her miracles and his hand at work every day.

The Day I Chose Thankfulness

Key Verse: Colossians 3:15, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” 

“A thankful heart is a happy heart.”  “There’s always something to be thankful for.” These and other cliché sayings often sat in my mind, usually bordering on annoying me.  I’m a happy person, I’m thankful for my life and those around me.  I had struggles like everyone, sometimes more than others, often considerably less.  Then, there was that one year.

My family and I had uprooted, following what we knew God had called us to.  It didn’t end as we thought it should, and we moved home in disappointment, hurt, and an anticipation that we were heading into a year of transition.  That year, each week increasingly got worse.  From trouble at home, to chaos at work, to sickness, to death, to more intense chaos at work, leading me to want to give up on the career I had wanted since I was a child; I ended the year with an intense feeling of failure and distress.

As I tried to make sense of everything going on around me, my attitude and general every day feeling became worse and worse.  I finally thought about the thankful clichés and wondered if there was any validity to it.  I had seen many people, during the month of November, write something they were thankful for each day.  I decided to test it out and see if there was anything to the idea of being thankful.  I committed to a year of thankfulness.  Each day, I would write one thing that I was thankful for, big or small.

The first week or so was easy and surprisingly fun!  It made me happy to think of something that I was thankful for and share it online.  I was amazed at how much better I felt that week.  The first time that something really set me off and frustrated me, I chose to not dwell on that feeling.  Instead, I sat at the computer, refused to give attention to my negative feeling, and typed everything I could think of to be thankful for.  There were a few big things and many small things, down to a book, a food, or something sweet one of my children had said.  I didn’t stop typing until the negative feeling was gone, and I was smiling.  To my amazement, thankfulness had worked!  I could not believe how much better I felt!

The consistent act of being thankful changed me.  The refusal to acknowledge my frustration, anger, or other negative emotion and first begin with thankfulness changed the way I approached situations.  I soon began to view situations differently; I began to handle them in a more successful, solution-oriented manner.  It was a process, but a process worth going through that brought a result I never imagined.  When the year was up, I couldn’t stop.  I made the habit of verbalizing at least one thing from my day that I could be thankful for.  I became the cliché that used to annoy me!  My thankful heart definitely made a happy heart!  😉

As I began to explore my transformation, to my surprise, I noticed that all this time I had been oblivious to the obvious clues God had left in His word regarding thankfulness.  I knew Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” I remembered not to be anxious, instead pray.  I didn’t always do it, and I had completely skipped over the “with thanksgiving” part. Apparently, focusing on the issues around me was working better for me!

As I dug, there were more and more verses.  There are so many different places throughout the Old and New Testament that talk about thankfulness and the benefit for us.  Here is my favorite one, the one I wish I would have learned, memorized, and guided my life by from an early age.   Colossians 3:15, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”  The PEACE of Christ, PEACE, exactly what I had been missing.  I was missing it, and I wasn’t allowing it to rule in my heart.  We are all created with emotions.  Sometimes we allow those emotions to rule and control how we act, react, and carry on.  When we are thankful, we can learn to take control of those emotions.  We still feel them, but they won’t rule, peace will.

My prayer for you is that you will allow peace to rule your heart.  I challenge you to make a conscious effort to be thankful this week.  Each day, find something to be thankful for, anything.  Attempt to be thankful for something before you give attention to a negative emotion or situation.  Share your thankful with all of us at Titus II Women.  Post it on our page here.  Share what you are thankful for, every day.  Read what others are thankful for, and see how it changes your hour, day, week, and life!

Dear God, THANK YOU for who You are.  Thank You for Your relentless love for each of us.  Thank You for Your forgiveness and grace.  Thank You for being concerned about all parts of my life.  Please bless each person that reads this, help them to allow Your peace to RULE in their heart.  Help each person to be thankful every day and reap the benefits of Your peace.  Thank You for loving us.  Amen.

Go find your favorite thankful verse to share it on our Facebook page. Take the challenge to be thankful for at least one thing each day.  Share your thankful with us!

 

Nikki Rasmussen

Nikki is the mother to four and she loves spending as much time as she can get with her greatest blessings.  Together, Tim and Nikki make their home in Tacoma, Washington, a long leap from her home state of North Dakota.  Nikki is a graduate of Trinity Bible College and about to start her Master’s program through the University of Texas at Arlington. “On the day you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.  Live your life in such a way that on the day you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” ~Author Unknown

Nikki is the mother to four and she loves spending as much time as she can get with her greatest blessings. Together, Tim and Nikki make their home in Tacoma, Washington, a long leap from her home state of North Dakota. Nikki is a graduate of Trinity Bible College and about to start her Master’s program through the University of Texas at Arlington. “On the day you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that on the day you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” ~Author Unknown

A False Accusation

Key Verse: Titus 2:3, “…not to be slanderers…”

First, let me tell you what a slanderer is.  A slanderer is someone who defames; causes calumny.  Slander is a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report; an oral utterance.  The Greek word, specific to the New Testament, for slander is Psithuristes and means a whisper, secret slander, and detractor.

How I would hate to be known as a slanderer.  Wouldn’t you?  The truth is that we all have been put to the meaning of this very word.  Because we are human and we have this sin nature thing, we have all accused falsely, even if just in our own thoughts.  As a young woman I was constantly worried about what others thought of me.  My emotions, I wore those on my sleeve.  When it came to friendships, I coveted a deep kindred relationship that would forever be with me.  I took many comments that were meant only to shield me, guide me, comfort me, and warn me as attacks on my judgment and good nature.

I have this amazing friend.   We have comforted each other during devastating times in each of our lives.  We have been far away from one another and yet when we get to talk or see one another it is as if we have never been apart for more than a day.  Ours is a friendship that is more than “friend”, she is a sister to me and I love her more than words can express.  I can only describe it as outstanding, luxurious and an impressive relationship.  It has been the best relationship I have had with a woman my age, but this friendship has had its share of hurt and injured emotions.  I have said words that cut her deep to the point of tears and she has said words that wounded me to my core and, at one point, more than a year went with no communication between the two of us.

Several years ago, while our family was in the first six months of living in Alaska, David and I wanted to bring more children into our home and give them what they were lacking; love.  We had our four and loved them so much, but we felt we had more to give so we went to classes on becoming a foster parent.  During this time we had also just started our homeschooling experience.  I dove into schedules, coops with other homeschoolers, and started with all four of our children at once.

So, we were new to Alaska, just started homeschooling four kids, and really only knew a few people from the coop and our new church.  I was so excited about becoming a foster parent and being able to mother children who needed love and so much more.  I wanted to share this excitement with my best friend who I thought would share this same excitement with me.  I have to tell you that she is my very best friend because she grounds me when my head floats to the clouds and while I am a visionary and gung ho kind of woman, she is opposite to me; practical and level headed.  She thinks, researches, and plans before she heads into anything she is doing.  This time, for some crazy reason, I expected her to be different for just me. Instead of praise and excitement with giggles shared, I received her very cautious words of “please step back and look at what all you have going on right now before you jump into something that is very serious and demands much more of your time than you think”.  She was watchful for not only me, but my family.  I turned those guarded words into what was not meant.  I saw them as an attack on my mothering, on my ability to care for more children, to take on more and do it all well without going crazy.  I was offended and wounded to my core.  I could not move beyond my own pain inside to even see the tenderness in which she was reaching out to me with.  My response was sharp and stabbing and meant to hurt a very dear friend who loved me enough to tell me the truth of life.  I allowed a full year to pass before I broke the walls of bitterness and hurt to pass.

There was a false accusation, on my part, toward my dear friend.  I accused her of not caring, not loving, not knowing the truth of the situation.  I defamed her Christianity in my mind and I caused a great deal of pain where there never should have been.  Though your story may look a little different than mine, I am sure you have shared an experience similar.

A Titus 2 woman is a woman who does not attack others on their words.  This woman does not publicly expose another of faults or cause harm to another woman’s character.  She does not insult, cause calumny or accuse falsely, even if to only herself.  As a Titus 2 woman we are to be gracious, understanding, gentle with words, loving, uplifting, truth seekers and truth teachers.  Sounds like a lot right, but it is one hundred percent achievable because we have the One who will lead us to, remind us of, and lift us up.

Lord, the call to be a Titus 2 Woman is a high calling and quite difficult, being human and all.  Guide my steps, my words, my thoughts, and my heart into only what will be honoring to You.  I accept the call to be a woman that glorifies You in every part of my life.  May I share my life in a way that encourages and helps other women to see You more clearly.  Amen.

Tara DeMaris

Tara, graduate of Crown College, is the mother to four beautiful children.  Together, Tara and her husband, David, and their family make their home in Northwest Missouri.  Tara is passionate about reaching the hearts of women and young ladies.  She loves to write and teach God's Word.  God put a desire in Tara's heart over six years ago to start a ministry that reached women.  Today Tara has founded Titus II Woman Ministries and God is showing her miracles and his hand at work every day.

Tara, graduate of Crown College, is the mother to four beautiful children. Together, Tara and her husband, David, and their family make their home in Northwest Missouri. Tara is passionate about reaching the hearts of women and young ladies. She loves to write and teach God’s Word. God put a desire in Tara’s heart over six years ago to start a ministry that reached women. Today Tara has founded Titus II Woman Ministries and God is showing her miracles and his hand at work every day.

No Better Place

Hello, Ladies. I trust this season finds you more grateful for the Gift of God this year than you were last! Even though the story has never changed, I find myself more and more grateful and amazed at what our Savior did for us, and is still doing in and through our lives.

This article comes at a time when there are police officers who did not gather around the Christmas tree this year because their lives were taken, little children in Israel are being beheaded, acts of violence and hatred seem to be magnified. What are we to do with this?

You know, it’s interesting. Have you ever had the experience where the kids or the husband somehow end up with soiled clothing or shoes, something puked on or peed on, and they’re all overwhelmed as to what to do with the situation, and everybody is looking for the same thing- MOM? I find myself like that in this season of our world. Everything within me is looking for my Father. I want to ask Him what to do with this. “What should I say? How should I feel? God, how do I pray?” I’m overwhelmed by people’s hatred for each other. I just want to run to my Daddy and ask Him, and there’s no better place to be.

You know, Jesus said, “I do what my Father does, I say what my Father says,” and I want to follow suit. In the midst of so much pain and confusion, hatred, and just plain chaos, I want to be an ambassador of the Father in the world, for such a time as this, to be a conduit of the Spirit. One that speaks whatever He would have me speak. One that would go wherever He says to go, and one that does whatever He says to do so that hearts may be healed, minds may be restored, and lives may be given over to His very able hands.

Ladies, I am so sure that many, if not all of you are in the same heart, so may our prayer be this: God, I give You to my life, my strengths and weaknesses to use for Your glory. God, though I do not trust or depend on myself, I know that through You I can do all things, and I ask You to speak through my life the message of the Spirit. Have Your way with my life and give me the want-to-want-to, the desire to do what You have asked of me. May my life speak of Your goodness, mercy and unfailing love. In Jesus’ name, I declare this. 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).

When Gratitude Doesn’t Seem Like Enough

Key Verse: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

How many things we take for granted…you know, like walking.  It’s not guaranteed that we will have legs that function so well as to teach them to walk.  Like a voice; beautiful sounds come from carefully constructed chords and these resonances come in cries, songs, shouts, laughing.  Like typing this; I have hands that speak with my mind through memory and movement.  I can type quite well, but I can also cook with my hands for my family, comb my daughter’s hair, hold my son’s hand and wrap my entire arms around my husband in a sweet embrace.

So, a beautiful reminder of what has been given; have you tried not to use your sight by being blindfolded?  Have you ever done a three legged race with a friend? Have you had one hand tied behind your back? How about two?  It’s not so easy to navigate a room you have walked through time and time again when you can’t see and the race seems easy until you literally don’t have both of your good legs to rely on.  Oh yes, and how can you turn a page to your book or hold your sick little child or hug that friend hurting when you have no arms to do it with?  I am sure you have now pictured this all in your beautiful head.

Gratitude for that which we are never promised to begin or end with is long forgotten.  Do we really know what true thankfulness looks like?  Gratitude – a noun; meaning, the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciate for and to return kindness.  Hmmm?  Ready to show appreciation?  Really?  We have to show that we appreciate what has been given to us?  Like a thank you for a birthday gift or a hug for a trunk full of groceries for which we had no money to buy?  Who would have thought that a simple gesture of thanks would be possible.  Appreciation towards someone or something goes farther than repayment ever could.  It says that you truly understand what has been handed to you and that you accept a blessing from someone who did not have to give such in the first place, but chose to out of kindness and love.

God gave us so much.  He gave us lifeHe gave us the ability to move and work and love and hurt.  Above all He gave His only Son to die on a cross so that all His people could live and live fully.  What a gift!  I cannot say that I would be able to give my only son, my precious baby boy, to die so that more would live.  I am so selfish in that way.  My heart would burst and I honestly would rather give my own life than to have to hand over my son to death.  You feel me, don’t you?  Of course you do.  Even if you have not given birth to children of your own, you know exactly what I am saying because you do love someone so much that you would give your own life to spare theirs;  a love so rare.

My heart is this:  if just for a minute a day, we look to the heavens and say a simple “Thank You”, this life has been worth all the pain and happiness we have experienced.  Appreciation for what was given and was taken.  Gratitude for life and love.  Thankfulness for the ultimate act of love in the death of a perfect man on an imperfect cross made by sinners like us.

Lord, thank You for loving me so much.  I do not deserve all that has been given to me, but because You care for me so much You gave everything.  I do not say it enough, Thank You, and it does not seem like quite enough.  I love You, Lord. Amen.

Tara DeMaris

Tara, graduate of Crown College, is the mother to four beautiful children.  Together, Tara and her husband, David, and their family make their home in Northwest Missouri.  Tara is passionate about reaching the hearts of women and young ladies.  She loves to write and teach God's Word.  God put a desire in Tara's heart over six years ago to start a ministry that reached women.  Today Tara has founded Titus II Woman Ministries and God is showing her miracles and his hand at work every day.

Tara, graduate of Crown College, is the mother to four beautiful children. Together, Tara and her husband, David, and their family make their home in Northwest Missouri. Tara is passionate about reaching the hearts of women and young ladies. She loves to write and teach God’s Word. God put a desire in Tara’s heart over six years ago to start a ministry that reached women. Today Tara has founded Titus II Woman Ministries and God is showing her miracles and his hand at work every day.

On a Cold December Night

Key Verse: John 8:29, “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him”.

I grew up in a family that went to church. We weren’t regulars, but we went. I knew there was a God and He sent His Son to earth to teach us and then die for us, because that is what I was taught in Sunday school. And then I grew up. I didn’t know in my heart that God lives and Christ lived, died and lives again until a very scary night ten years ago.

Ten years ago I did not attend church at all. I did not read the Scriptures. I did not teach my then four year old about God or Christ. I lived my life day to day. I was pregnant with a son and then my water broke two months too early. I did not cry out in prayer. I had no answer for what was happening. The medical staff at the hospital did everything they could to stop my son from coming, but he arrived two months and a day early. He did not cry when they delivered him from my womb. I looked around. I could not see him. He struggled with breathing. He still did not cry. My heart sank. Yet I still did not cry out in prayer. I did not wrestle with my Lord and Savior. His lungs were not developed. He had pneumonia. He struggled to stay alive. The hospital he was born at was not prepared for a preemie baby. The pediatrician and the obstetrician that delivered my son came to me in the recovery room and told me that my son would need to leave the hospital on a helicopter and be transported over 100 miles from where I was, before I had ever seen him or held him, if we were going to give him a chance at living. And then they left my side to send my son on his way to live, before he had even cried, before he had even been seen by his mother, before he had even been loved on by his mother.

I sat in my hospital room that night waiting to hear the cries of my son.   I heard nothing but the sound of a helicopter taking my son away from me. And still I did not cry out for my Lord. I did not cry out to God. I did not seek comfort. I just knew I was all alone in the world and my heart was breaking into so many pieces that I did not know if it would ever be made whole again. I was alone in the dark in a strange hospital with not a soul to comfort me. And then… I wasn’t alone. In my darkest hour, even though I did not call for Him, He was there. I did not seek his love or comfort but He was there and my heart was filled with a burning that has never diminished since. My heart was made whole. In my darkest hour my heart finally knew what I had been taught in Sunday school all those years ago. God lives and He is my Father in Heaven. Christ Lived, Died, and Lives again. Our Father in heaven hears our prayers. The Holy Ghost is our comforter. And we are not alone…ever!

Since that scary December night, ten years ago, the verse John 8:29 “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him”, Has never left my heart or my mind. I fill my days attempting to please my Father in Heaven. When times get tough, I call upon my Lord for comfort. When things are great and everything is smooth sailing, I lift prayers of gratitude to my Father in Heaven.  There are times when I need guidance, I turn to my Maker. When someone else needs comfort, I do all that I can to be a rock for them. If someone needs a spoon and I have one, I give them two spoons.  I never want to feel like I did that night in that hospital room; not ever again. I never want that burning in my bosom to leave me. I share my love of God and Christ with my son who came home to us after spending only ten days in the NICU, on Christmas Eve.  I have never shared this story publicly before and I wanted on this special anniversary to share it with all of you so that you may all know with a burning in your bosoms that YOU ARE NEVER ALONE and our Father in Heaven is always with us, even if we aren’t always with Him.

Evaluate your life and your actions. If you find you aren’t doing things that please our Father in Heaven or you don’t know what pleases Him, turn to the Scriptures. They are our road map for happiness. I pray that we all find a way to live our lives pleasing our Heavenly Father. I testify to you that when we live our lives pleasing Him we shall find that our lives are pleasing to us. We shall be showered in blessings when we do those things that please our Father. And I leave this testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen!

Alethea Gaukel

Alethea, Ally for short, has three wonderful children, whom she homeschools, and a fine husband, Chuck.  Ally grew up in northern California before making here home in rural northwest Missouri.  She loves helping others by being a friend, inspiring them to take action in their own lives financially, spiritually and in health.  She loves the Lord and wants to share His message.  Her family supports Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri as well as ReStart, an interfaith shelter system to help families  and grown foster children find places to live.  James 1:8, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him as of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (KJV)

Alethea, Ally for short, has three wonderful children, whom she homeschools, and a fine husband, Chuck. Ally grew up in northern California before making here home in rural northwest Missouri. She loves helping others by being a friend, inspiring them to take action in their own lives financially, spiritually and in health. She loves the Lord and wants to share His message. Her family supports Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri as well as ReStart, an interfaith shelter system to help families and grown foster children find places to live. James 1:8, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him as of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (KJV)

Thief

Key Verse: Malachi 3:6-18

All I heard in my head was “thief, thief, thief” over and over again.  I felt like I was just the worst person.  Such conviction as I read a passage I had read many times before.   I had opened my favorite Bible, the one with all the handwritten little notes to self, that morning to learn deeper and I left with a huge lesson in tithe and giving.

It has been a rough couple years for our family financially.  There just never seemed to be enough, in our minds at least.  Let’s face it, none of us likes to live paycheck to paycheck while working a job (or jobs in my case) that we really are not passionate about.  Ok, well, maybe I am the only one, but I am sure most of you know exactly what I am talking about here and have been there.

The sub title of the book I opened to that morning was Robbing God. Oh yes, talk about immediate conviction.  I knew it was right what God wanted to teach me with a pierce like that.  All I saw was that title pounding from the page in big bold letters.

I had been the one in charge of the family finances the past two years and because I did not have enough faith and trust, I had not been tithing our income as I should have.  It’s really not a lot to ask for; just ten percent.  David and I really don’t make a lot so our tithe isn’t much to give, but God asks for it anyways.  Malachi 3:6-18 lays it out like this, “…But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’  In Tithes and offerings.  You are under a curse-the whole nation of you-because you are robbing me.  Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.”  Heart – really – hurting – here.  Nothing like the sting of honesty in an unexpected moment.  Ugh!  BUT GOD goes on to say this, “Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”  This is where God started to ease my sting and bring my heart back to His.  How very lovely He is.  He just knows the perfect words and timing.

I had been completely heartbroken in realizing that I was robbing God of what was rightfully His.  I really felt like a thief.  My stomach turns at the thought still.  I read the verses a few times, wrote them on an index card to put with the financial log, and prayed.  Oh boy did I pray; a prayer to ask God to forgive me for stealing what was not mine to keep.  And then I was challengedFirst, I was challenged to read these verses again and circle every blessing that is listed out (you can do this too).  It is amazing!  He did this for a reason, you know.  He LOVES to bless His children – that’s us!!!  Second, I was challenged to give out of a heart full of love and compassion.  This is where I decided to do an experiment of sorts.  I am going to write a small series so you too can see how God blesses abundantly when we completely trust it all to Him.

While getting back to tithing and giving, I am writing of every blessing God sends to us.  That may not mean just financially, though we would gladly take extra abundance in that are and then tithe on it.  I am just expecting to see God more in our family,  in ministry and all around.  All of this is His, after all.  I am absolutely elated to see what God is going to do and I hope that you will join along in this challenge (make it our own) and see God bless His children.

Lord, out of a human sin nature I have neglected the fact that this is all Yours.  I am sorry.  Please forgive me and guide me in making a more conscious choice to give it back with a heart full of love.  I trust You more than money.  In Your name, amen.

Tara DeMaris

Tara, graduate of Crown College, is the mother to four beautiful children.  Together, Tara and her husband, David, and their family make their home in Northwest Missouri.  Tara is passionate about reaching the hearts of women and young ladies.  She loves to write and teach God's Word.  God put a desire in Tara's heart over six years ago to start a ministry that reached women.  Today Tara has founded Titus II Woman Ministries and God is showing her miracles and his hand at work every day.

Tara, graduate of Crown College, is the mother to four beautiful children. Together, Tara and her husband, David, and their family make their home in Northwest Missouri. Tara is passionate about reaching the hearts of women and young ladies. She loves to write and teach God’s Word. God put a desire in Tara’s heart over six years ago to start a ministry that reached women. Today Tara has founded Titus II Woman Ministries and God is showing her miracles and his hand at work every day.