A Light In the Darkness

I was a young, naive 16 year old. My boyfriend was 4 years older than me. He was known for his tough guy behavior. All the other guys in my circle were intimidated by him. Not his smarts because he was lacking those, being a high school dropout, but by his fists. His impulsive, erratic behavior; this somehow appealed to me.

I don’t remember the first time he hit me, and I don’t remember the last. There were too many over the four years I spent in this abusive relationship, but there are many that I cannot forget. Even writing this twenty years later, I am still haunted by these events through nightmares. They are becoming further and further apart over the years, but they still come.

On Valentine’s Day night, my Junior year in High School, I was fast asleep in our home which was in the country. I was alone. My mother was spending the night in the hospital after having a hysterectomy. It was around three in the morning when there was pounding on my door. My boyfriend, being dropped off drunk, knowing I was alone. I let him in, without a choice as we lived a ways away from town, and it was in the middle of an upstate New York winter. I went back to bed because I had school in the morning. He tried to force himself on me. His stale beer breathe was making me sick to my stomach as many things did during this time because I was close to three months pregnant. I tried to push him off me, praying he would just pass out, this was not happening. He was not someone who accepted the word “No”. This began the struggle and ignited the demons within him. I fought; and I fought hard. I was not going to allow him to rape me. This evening turned into one of the worst of my life, but also one of the best. Here’s why: after about two hours of fighting, running, hiding, being hit, thrown down, and dragged through the snow, barefoot I made my attempt to escape and run to the top of my driveway where my car was parked (we had a very long, steep drive, and in the winter months often had to park in a cleared area at the top, otherwise we would not be able to get out due to the ice packed under the snowy slope). I will spare the many details from this night that are still as fresh in my mind as they were twenty-one years ago; the torture that I endured. But I will share this: a desperation came over me, exhaustion and pain setting in, the gripping fear that this night would not ever end, that it could easily end in my death as he was angry and in a black out state of vengeance against me. I sat in a chair and screamed these words, “Please God help Me!” Those four words spoken from the depths of my heart, seemed to freeze time. Everything stopped; the fight, the torment, the will to hurt me and the unborn child within me. He stopped. He picked up the phone, called for a ride, ran through the house ripping the phones out of the walls, (I’m guessing to ensure that I didn’t call 911 while he was out walking to meet his ride) and left. He left. It was as if God had sent his angel armies to fight the demons for me. A light came shinning into the darkness, because I had cried out to him and asked.

“Please God help Me” spoken from a sixteen year old to her Heavenly Father. Those words, I know, saved my life. And not just my physical body, but my spiritual body, my very soul. This was the first time I had met God. Sure, I grew up in the Church, but this, was my first raw experience that opened the eyes to my heart, allowing me to see and understand, that God is real. It was no coincidence that after a two hour battle for my life that my attacker stopped dead in his tracks.

About forty-eight hours after this assault I was hospitalized due to my beating and suffered a miscarriage. I remember waking up from the anesthesia, my Doctor with tears in his eyes, held my hand and asked me, “What kind of monster did this to you?” Apparent from the many welts and black and blue marks on my body.

Today I sit and think of these things, while it is the month of October and October being the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month as well as the month that honors Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. It wasn’t until this year that I put these two awareness’s together. I suffered the loss of an unborn child through a miscarriage because I was a victim of domestic violence. Wow! But out of ashes there is beauty. Out of suffering there is joy. This was a night of loss, but also a night of gain. I lost my unborn child, but I gained an eternity in Heaven, where I know that one day I will be greeted by the face of this baby. God showed up because I called upon Him. This is one of many testimonies as to why I know beyond a shadow of doubt that God is real and I will forever glorify his name for rescuing me.

Psalm 50:15, “Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”

Psalm 91:15,“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.”

http://youtu.be/rWPABE3gycs

Melissa Donnelly

Melissa has a growing passion for encouraging others through the wisdom and words that Christ gives her.  She is the mother to five awesome children, the youngest two being twins, and the helpmate to her husband, Travis.  Melissa grew up in Upstate New York near Lake Ontario and, after many moves with the army, now makes her home with her family in Stromsburg, Nebraska.  She is a volunteering mom at her children's schools and the founder of Community Toy Drive and also has started a library ministry in her home church.  Next to loving her family, Melissa's Italian core kicks in and she loves to feed people until they could burst.  Jeremiah 29:11. "'For I know the plan I have for you', declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (NIV)

Melissa has a growing passion for encouraging others through the wisdom and words that Christ gives her. She is the mother to five awesome children, the youngest two being twins, and the helpmate to her husband, Travis. Melissa grew up in Upstate New York near Lake Ontario and, after many moves with the army, now makes her home with her family in Stromsburg, Nebraska. She is a volunteering mom at her children’s schools and the founder of Community Toy Drive and also has started a library ministry in her home church. Next to loving her family, Melissa’s Italian core kicks in and she loves to feed people until they could burst. Jeremiah 29:11. “‘For I know the plan I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” (NIV)

Over (whelmed)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  Colossians 3:23-24

Do you ever feel like life is just too much? Not in a tragic sense but an everyday- I- have- so- much-to-do way? There are so many good things that should or could be done, how do I pick the right one for this day?

This is my everyday life right now. I just moved my family to a new community where we are starting a new ministry; we just bought our first house and had to empty a storage unit that housed our belongings for two years. All of our previous life packed in a box, loaded in a U-Haul and now sitting in my house waiting to be unpacked. Where do I start? Where does it all go? Overwhelming!

Sometimes I think all of our life can feel like that, even our spiritual life. I am doing well in my walk with God and then I look around and see all the needs, all the things that I could do, and it seems overwhelming. Where do I start? Can I even make a difference in the midst of all the chaos?

Satan loves to whisper in our ears that we don’t matter and that we can’t make a difference. He wants us to feel overwhelmed. But you know what I have learned about walking with God? It’s one step at a time. It’s asking, Lord how can I make a difference in this day, today? What is the best eternal thing you have for me to do today? Somedays that may look really spiritual like leading a Bible study or attending church, but somedays it may be loving your child and cleaning your house. The verse above gives us so much freedom. Whatever you do. Are you doing something right now? Then do it as working for the Lord. It is Christ you are serving. We forget that whatever really means whatever. It doesn’t have to look spiritual; you don’t even have to feel like it’s making a huge difference. We just have to use our whatever in working for the Lord. He is the one who takes what we give Him and does the miraculous. Like the little boy with the fish and bread, sometimes I look at what I am doing and think, this isn’t much. But what happened when place in the hand of an Almighty God? He feed over 5,000 people.

Don’t let Satan overwhelm you. Whatever you are doing, dishes, diapers or directing boxes to be moved, let’s give it to God and see what he does.

Lord, help us to know that you can use our ordinary lives and make them something great. Help us to use our whatevers for you. I pray that you would help us to overcome the enemy that tries to overwhelm us daily. We rest in you and your power to use even the mundane of life.

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 Bismarck, 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 Bismarck, 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

How Deep The Fathers Love

SEPTEMBER fifth was one of the hardest days this year for our family.  Tragedy struck and our lives were forever changed.  None of us were prepared for what would take place and our core was shaken until it felt like it was all crumbling down.

“…together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…” (Ephesians 3:18)

You will understand when I tell you that we lost a very dear member of our family.  His name was Moose (Dung-tuck in eskimo).  He was our spoiled and much loved pug.  He lit up our days with his snoring, sneezing, barking and extra flatulence.  He made us laugh and this day he made us cry (more like sob uncontrollably). We brought him home when he was just six weeks old.  He was tiny to say the least and immediately was accepted by all human and furry DeMaris people.  He was joy in a little round dog.

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My husband dug a grave for him and all six of us gathered around as we said our last words to our pug before we covered him in earth.  We each had something to say and we laid him down with his favorite toys.  My heart was breaking, but I kept thinking of my children.  We had given animals new homes before, but this was a full loss of life.  He would be no more.  It was nearly unbearable for me to think of their little hearts in pieces.  I tried to comfort them with hugs and kisses on heads, but that just won’t mend the break that was caused.

As we stood over his grave I felt that God was speaking to me to tell them of His love.  I told them, “I know that you all are hurting deeply right now.  We loved our pug and he knew that we loved him.  He died so happy with us. This hurt you feel seems like it will never go away.  You guys, this is just an inkling of the love that God feels for you.  He gave his only son to die on a cross.  Imagine how God must have felt to see his son die when we feel this much pain when our pug died.  God loves us so much more than we loved our pug.  He loves us so much that he will make more room in our hearts to love again when we are all ready.  He cares too much to let us hurt forever.  Seeing us bury our pug breaks His heart because we are hurting and he doesn’t want to see his children hurt.”

They all looked at the grave and sobered a bit as if they understood.  I didn’t ask them to repeat or tell me that they got it.  I just knew.  Our sobs turned to complete quietness for the afternoon as we recalled our most precious memories with our Moose.  None of us woke up thinking that would be the last day we would ever see our pug alive, but you know what? I honestly believe that I will see that little wrinkled face again. I know he had no soul, but God knows the love we have for our furry friends and if there is a lion and a lamb up there then I think our pug is too and I bet Jesus is getting all kinds of kisses.

Lord, thank you for reminding us that your love is so much greater than we can ever comprehend.  And thank you for loving us.  We truly do not deserve such grace, but you extend it to us freely anyway. Fill us with your grace and show us how to use it to the fullest potential and glorify you in life. 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 North Pole, Alaska.  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 seven years ago to start a ministry that reached women and today she has founded Titus II Woman Ministry.  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 North Pole, Alaska. 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 seven years ago to start a ministry that reached women and today she has founded Titus II Woman Ministry. God is showing her miracles and his hand at work every day.

GOD’S FAITHFUL PROMISES

I teach the young adult Sunday school class each week.  God lead me, the first part of July, to study Psalm 91 for the class.  I have gotten so much out of this chapter tucked away in Psalm. So, today as I set in my little closet of worship, listening to the much needed rain hit the windows, I’m prompted to write this short article, I feel someone needs to read this, possibly at a low point in their lives.

When our youngest son, Anthony, was 18 months old, he had yet another ear infection.  I had taken him to the doctor that morning. I came home and gave him his medication, then handed him to his grandma so I could fix a sandwich. It wasn’t long until I noticed she seemed overly concerned for Tony. She snatched him from her chest where he had been sleeping and shook him a little.

She looked at me and said, Glennette your baby is not breathing. She ran from room to room with him praying, “God help me to remember what to do.” I laid my hands on his little body, lips turning blue and pleaded with my heavenly Father to heal my baby. I then ran for the phone to get some help.

Mom finally laid him on the floor and proceeded with CPR on him. Then for some reason she turned him on him tummy and rubbed his back, he took his first breath. He had not breathed for over five minutes.

Why do I tell you this story? Because in Psalm 91:3 and verse 6 both state that God will spare us from the deadly pestilence. I had never been sure of what pestilence was. I thought maybe it had something to do with bugs and things that attack crops. But as I studied this, I found that pestilence is diseases that attack the human body.

Tony had a seizure from a high fever. This is what caused him to stop breathing. The high fever was caused by an infection that had attacked his little body. God said that we would not have to suffer pestilence, not once in this chapter but twice. When God says something more than once, especially in verses so close to each other, He is saying, “Pay attention, listen, do what I say.”

So how do we go about claiming the promises that are found in Psalm 91? We have to do what it says to do in verses 1-2. “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Just like you have to physically get up and start your day, you have to take your body and soul and go to the shelter that God offers. You have to say verbally out loud with your mouth, coming from your heart of heart of hearts, “God you are my refuge, you are my fortress and I choose to trust in you.”

Does this mean things will always go our way? No, but we serve a God that loves us and wants what is best for us and for our family. The promises in Psalm 91 cover all your family and all those that you pray for.  Read verse 10, it says that, “no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.” Who is in your tent? Your family and friends. God promises that He will keep all evil from your home.

Ladies, stand on the promises of God. Read Psalm 91 daily, and when the storms of life surround you, quote this to God. He is faithful and will always do what He says He will do.

Father in heaven above, cover my sisters and their homes with your shelter, your protection. Amen.

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)

Bites

He opens his mouth wide and with a toothy grin and dimpled chin takes a big bite!

“Mmmmm. . .” Jabez exclaims.  He enjoys food! For a sixteen month old, he is relatively adventurous and trusting when I offer him “bites” of new or different foods.  He rarely refuses what I offer him and typically enjoys mealtime thoroughly.  He gets involved.  You know how it is: squishing new textures between his fingers or taking some in his mouth and then pulling some out with his chubby little fingers before he shoves it right back in.  Then he will sign “More! More!” and take another big bite.

My seven year old may very well be the opposite when it comes to food.  Deven clamps his mouth shut and refuses to try a new food,  a new texture, or even something that’s a usual that he has decided, for today he doesn’t want to eat.  He enjoys certain foods (read: junk food) and can rarely be coaxed into trying something different.  But if he finds something he likes, no matter how surprising, he sticks with it.

Then there’s Benjamin, my oldest.  He’s a pretty good eater, and does enjoy mealtime.  However, he will take nibbly, reluctant bites of food.  He really works over certain textures or inhales others.  But once he finds something he likes (can you say mashed potatoes and gravy), he will devour it.  Asking for seconds, thirds, and if permitted, even more.

When I think about my three sweet boys and how each of them eat the same foods, enjoy the same meals, and receive the same nourishment I wonder how I consume what God has for me.

I know that “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17), but sometimes I act like my son, Deven, clamping down my spirit to the good things He has for me.  Perhaps it’s something new, or that, just for today, I don’t want to try it.

I also know that the Lord is good to all and that his mercies are abundant (Psalms 145:9), yet I find myself nibbling at his goodness rather than really taking it in and enjoying it, similar to Ben when he’s unsure.

I know that God has created all good things and that I am to receive those things with gratitude

(1 Timothy 4:4) and there are days when I can really embrace that, not unlike Jabez enjoys his bites!

I know that you may be able to relate; you’re hungry.  You want more of God.  You want all that he has for you, but for whatever reason you’re clamped down or even nibbling at the goodness of God. I want to encourage you today to open wide to the things He has in store for you and then ask him for “More! More!”

I ask that “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow…” (Romans 15:13).

Oh, Lord Jesus, how we long to have more time with you, gain more wisdom from you, walk in peace with you. Help us to stop just thinking about the good you have for us and accept them into our heart fully so that we can start to live the life you have freely given us. In Your name, amen.

 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

Willing

I want to share something with you; it’s really no big secret….

I don’t have it all together. I have not figured out how to organize every area of my life so they flow in sync and I have not gotten this parenting thing down.  Some ladies look at my life and see genuine overflowing love and smiles and hugs. They see this woman who homeschools her kids happily and runs a women’s ministry and volunteers at her church.

Did you know that I have to pray really hard to show love to many of the people I come in contact with? I’m totally an introvert. I like to be in my home where people don’t see me all the time and I can have quiet. I don’t always like people, but that’s funny considering what God called me to do, right! And the smiles and hugs are usually covering something else deeper.  Not always, but I deal with heartache and pain just as the rest of you. My days are not smooth. I don’t always homeschool with happiness because I am not greeted in the morning with smiles and children who love the morning. (Actually, we all hate getting up in the morning.) Coffee does not even make it better. It’s just that way for us.

Ya’all, I do love my family dearly and I do love to love people. It comes from a place where only God resides. He gives me that love to share because, honestly, I would not be able to muster that kind of love up on my own. It is supernatural and only found in Christ.

I often think of the verses, Ephesians 4:1-2, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ladies, that is what keeps me going. I know that I am to live as Christ. I know that I am to put others before myself and I know that I have the power to all these things through grace which is through Christ who gives me strength.

Consider a question when you next see me or any other woman who loves God with all her heart. Just ask God, “How can I encourage her today?” Why, you ask? Because even the women who are sending you love and encouragement need to be encouraged and loved. That woman may have had heartbreaking news delivered, may have just spilled her coffee all over herself in the car or maybe she is just in a place where she needs to know that what she does matters.

Do you see that I am just as normal as you, but I chose to say yes to God to live an extraordinary life right where I stand? I don’t pretend to have all the answers or right words, but I do know without a doubt that I was called for this right here -Titus II Woman Ministry. I know that my name was given at birth and God had this ministry for me to be part of. You are never too normal to be used extraordinarily.

What’s holding you back? It can’t be your kids. I have four of those and I’m doing it. It can’t be your husband. I have that one too and once he sees how much you grow and are touched by being used of God that isn’t an excuse any longer. Don’t know what you are supposed to do? Have you asked God to show you? Maybe he has, but you aren’t getting the picture because it’s not what you think you should do. Well, I didn’t think I was supposed to run a women’s ministry. I grew up with all boys and had few womanly influences. My initial take on Titus II Woman was to run and I did for over six years. There is no excuse I have not heard. You just have to step out and say, “God, here I am. Use me.” Be willing.

Lord, I’m as normal as they come. I didn’t grow up in a celebrity’s home and I don’t have the influence that all those awesome Women of Faith speakers have, but I am willing to be used where you place me.  I’m willing to work in ministry at church or wash the dishes after the Wednesday meals. I’m willing, Lord. Use me. 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 North Pole, Alaska.  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 seven years ago to start a ministry that reached women and today she has founded Titus II Woman Ministry.  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 North Pole, Alaska. 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 seven years ago to start a ministry that reached women and today she has founded Titus II Woman Ministry. God is showing her miracles and his hand at work every day.

“What’s In Your Truck? Part 2”

In my last article, I shared with you the tale of my dear, silly husband and his new-to-us collection of eclectic Chevy trucks. I’m sure some of you may be looking at the title of this article and wondering, “How much can a woman actually get out of one man’s truck transactions?” So, where am I going with this one?

Well I got to thinking the other day, as I buckled in next to my husband and looked at the well-worn Bible in it’s cubbyhole. I thought about how long it took me to accept the truck, because I was so frustrated with my husband for buying it when he already had a truck, and we didn’t have a thousand dollars sitting around waiting to be used. I thought about how much I had put off driving that truck, because it is so long and very conspicuous due to its colors. Then I thought about the heart of this truck. The fact that it truly is comfortable to drive, it has been reliable, my husband takes great pride in it, and the reason he knew this truck was right for him, was that old Bible sitting there for all to see.

When my husband looks at his truck, he isn’t really seeing the humongous size, the odd colors, or even the age. He looks at his truck and sees character, a good running truck that is easy for him to repair and maintain, that all six members of his family can fit into, that it is equipped with a Bible that has been with the truck for who knows how long, and that I can sit curled up right next to him when he takes me out in it.

My mind wandered on to an eternal parallel at this point. Like this old truck, it is the broken and humble that the Lord calls into service. It was when I was at my lowest that He called me into His family, breathed new life into me, equipped me, and led me to serve Him in ways I couldn’t do before.

When I look at myself, I see all the things about me that don’t make sense or the things I have done wrong. When I think about it, I am ashamed and feel useless to God in his glory. Sometimes I believe other people feel the same way when they look at me. Anyone looking at me through the world’s standards very well could be looking at me the same way I have been looking at my husband’s trucks. I could be an inconvenience to them. I could be ugly or the wrong size. I very well could be too quirky for them or not cool enough for them. With this in mind, I go to an old story of two vessels. I have heard it told in many different ways, but they all come down to the same lesson; so, I will tell it here in my own way:

A farmer had two vessels he used to carry water from his well to his crops. The vessels hung off each end of a pole which rested across the farmer’s shoulders as he walked the path to his crops. One of the vessels was whole and perfectly carried water from the well all the way to the farmer’s field without leaking. The other had a large crack in it and leaked half of the water the farmer filled it with on the way down the path to the field. This embarrassed the broken vessel very deeply. Until, one day the cracked vessel couldn’t contain his shame any longer and apologized to the farmer before they left the well.

“I am so ashamed, dear farmer, that I have this large crack. I am defective and because of me you only have a vessel and a half of water to pour out on your crops each day despite all your hard work.”

The farmer smiled warmly and filled that old cracked vessel just as full as the perfect vessel then lifted his burden back onto his shoulders. As the farmer walked down the path to his field he gestured to the flowers he had planted along the path.

“Dear, little vessel all cracked and worn, did you think I didn’t know about the crack you have, and how the water dripped from you? See how the flowers I have planted here along the path grow only on your side? It is because you have watered them for me every day as I walk to my field.”

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Psalm 51:17

Dear Lord, as written in Psalm 51, You have mercy on me according to your unfailing love and great compassion. You blot out my transgressions. You wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. I know my transgressions, and I know You know my sin, but You have washed me clean! I give you my transgressions, my sins, and I accept your loving gift. I am whiter than snow! Anything that comes between us is garbage and filth that I allow to enter there, but I rebuke it. I give it to You, and I turn away from it. I trust You to hide your face from my sins and blot out my iniquity. You create in me a pure heart and renew a right spirit within me. My mouth will declare your praises. I delight in the “flowers” of your glory and water them in my brokenness so I can celebrate the life that You breathe into me. I am yours forever and ever. 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.

 Press On

Day after day the congregations became stronger in faith and larger in size. They went to Phrygia, and then on through the region of Galatia. Their plan was to turn west into Asia province, but the Holy Spirit blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them go there either. Proceeding on through Mysia, they went down to the seaport Troas. That night Paul had a dream: A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” The dream gave Paul his map. We went to work at once getting things ready to cross over to Macedonia. All the pieces had come together. (Acts 16:5-9) MSG

Have you ever thought that you so clearly heard the voice of God but then things just didn’t turn out? Did you feel like God was working against you? Did you think you might have missed him?

I sure have!!! There’s been many times in my life that I plan and pray and then step forth in faith only to hit an unseen wall. Then discouragement and doubt set in. I realized the other day that I am in good company. In the passage above we find Paul and his crew travelling through regions sharing Jesus. Verse 5 tells us that their congregation became stronger in faith and larger in size. Then verse 6 happens. God begins to redirect them. They had plans to turn west but the Holy Spirit blocked that route. They tried to go north but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them go there either. What a crossroads!

Here they are, succeeding in ministry and growing and in the next breath the Lord blocks their way! Now what?!?! What is amazing to me is we don’t see the Bible telling us that they threw a fit, blamed God and gave up. In verse 8 we see, proceeding on through Mysia, they went down to the seaport Troas. They kept going! They didn’t know how, where or why, but they trusted that God had blocked their way for a reason and kept going.

In verse 9 Paul has a dream and the Bible tells us that the dream gave Paul his map and all the pieces came together. Notice God didn’t give him a dream and then they went. They kept going,  trusting that God would provide a way and then God told him the next step. We can’t get stuck waiting on God so much that we aren’t moving. My husband always says it’s easier to turn a moving horse then one stubbornly standing still. That’s so true! We have to move, being willing to have God redirect us, willing to hit some road blocks.

Sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged and give up after you’ve been following God and hit road block after road block. Sometimes it feels like God is working against you, but it’s in those moments we have to press in harder, go a little farther, trust a little more. It’s not easy, but the payoff is that eventually all the pieces will come together.

1 Corinthians says that we see things dimly now but we will see clearly. Sometimes God gives us glimpses of that here on earth and the pieces of his grand glorious plan make sense. Other times it requires an extra measure of faith and trust that we will see clearly in eternity the magnificence of his plan.

God, I pray that you would give us strength to keep going; to press in and hold onto you. Help the pieces of our life to come together. Give us strength to trust you when none of it makes sense. Help us remember ALL your promises are yes and Amen. You truly have a great master plan, even when it’s not made clear to us yet.

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 Bismarck, 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 Bismarck, 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

The Sun Rose

It was the end of the month. We had waited for weeks for a paycheck to arrive from a client, and
it had finally arrived, after banking hours, on the 29th. So early on the 30th, I got up to make the
drive to town in order to be at the bank when the doors opened so I could then hurry to each of
the places where I needed to pay bills. It was a foggy morning; the kind of fog that forces you to
drive 35 in a 60 mph speed zone. I was unhappy. I’m not a morning person naturally, and being
up, dressed and on the road for the purpose of paying bills at the last minute made it seem
even more depressing. As I drove, I kept thinking about how much I hated living paycheck to
paycheck, hated my husband working freelance for people who never paid the invoice promptly, hated scrimping and pinching pennies to provide just the necessities for the family, with never any luxuries.
And then it happened. The sun started to rise, and although it couldn’t quite break through the
fog right in front of me, off in the distance there was a beautiful silver lining around the lowest
bank of clouds. I was struck by the amazing promise of the future. My life seemed full of
struggles just then, but I knew that it wouldn’t be that way forever. We are reminded over and
over in God’s word that this life we’re living now is not permanent. I was letting myself become
caught up in the negativity of this world instead of anticipation of eternity.
When I realized that, it became easier to face the struggles and even to identify the beauty
within them. Yes, I was driving through a fog, which was slowing me down, but wrapped in the
fog, there was a quiet peace, a silence and stillness that I hadn’t appreciated when I was driving
through it with a grumbling heart. Yes, I still had to pay those bills, but they were a sign that I
had a home in which to live with my family. Yes, it was an hour of the morning in which I much
prefer to be snuggled in bed, but had I not drug myself out of the warm blankets, I would have
missed the unusual sunrise, and the reminder that the struggles of today are as that fog; a
vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. I don’t know what tomorrow
might bring, but I know who holds tomorrow in His hand.

Lord, show us over and over again your silver lining in the midst of what seems so hard to bear. Even in our suffering you have a purpose. You use our suffering for your glory. So, Lord, help us to rejoice even in our suffering so that we too may glorify you in the midst of the fog. Amen.

Sara Lester

Sara, with her heart and home full of love, has seven wonderful children from the ages of thirteen to three months. She enjoys homeschooling them all and having as much time with each of them as she can before they are grown. Sara and her husband, along with their bubbling brood, make their home in Northwest Missouri, not far from the Iowa area where she grew up. The best family time for Sara and her family is spent in the outdoors, enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. Sara and her family help to support several charities through their church and you can learn about them at http://www.acworldrelief.org/. Matthew 6:25-34 is Sara’s Scripture of choice and reminds her that her live is not her own, but fully God’s.

Sara, with her heart and home full of love, has seven wonderful children from the ages of thirteen to three months. She enjoys homeschooling them all and having as much time with each of them as she can before they are grown. Sara and her husband, along with their bubbling brood, make their home in Northwest Missouri, not far from the Iowa area where she grew up. The best family time for Sara and her family is spent in the outdoors, enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. Sara and her family help to support several charities through their church and you can learn about them at http://www.acworldrelief.org/. Matthew 6:25-34 is Sara’s Scripture of choice and reminds her that her live is not her own, but fully God’s.

 

God Is Good

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”  So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth. Genesis 9:12-17 (NIV)

A few weeks ago, my family and I were outside doing chores on our hobby farm. All of a sudden, the skies opened up and we had an August thunderstorm. We continued to work in the barn and the garage. The storm quickly passed, and as we walked out of the barn we saw a rainbow over our house. It was the brightest rainbow that I have seen in a long while. Of course, it reminds me of the covenant God made with Noah and all the earth. It also is a reminder that God keeps his promises. He promises that He will take care of us, He will be our provider, He does everything for the good of those who believe and trust in the Lord, and many others.

Seeing this rainbow gave me such peace during this time. I was worrying about many of the different storms raging on in my life at this point. It was just what I needed at just the right time.  God’s timing is always perfect and He is all knowing and all powerful. I am so thankful that God is in control and that I can trust in His Word; that everything will work out in His timing. We don’t always have the patience to wait for His timing, but if we ask for the patience He will give it to us.

Dear Heavenly Father-

Thank you for all you do for us, that You give us everything we need, just when we need it.  Please be with everyone reading this and give them the patience to wait for your timing, the faith to trust You for all our needs. I thank you that You are never changing and that You keep your Word. I’m sorry that sometimes we forget and stop trusting. I’m thankful that you give us those gentle reminders that you are in control and that you keep your promises. 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.