Adrenaline Junkie

philippians-4-13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  (Phil 4:13)

Hi, my name is Stacey and I’m an adrenaline junkie.  I haven’t been “clean” for too long but my “higher power” is Jesus and He can do miracles…

It started when I was a young girl trying to get my father’s love and approval.  Like so many little girls I discovered if I did well in school, kept my room clean, helped around the house, and learned how to do “big girl things” like cooking and cleaning, Daddy would be proud of me and ask me to sit with him on the couch while he smoked cigarettes, drank bourbon, and watched TV.  That was the love I thought I wanted, the love I craved.

I discovered that the more I did, the more people praised me.  Not only my own parents, but my friends’ parents, teachers, neighbors, and even strangers.  Doing became my thing.  The more I did, the more attention I got, the better I felt about myself, and the happier I was.  And isn’t happiness the point?

I had a plan for my life.  College, career, marriage, family.  Not too unusual.  But my plan had dates of accomplishment.  And I met each of those personal milestones, on time and with fanfare!  I wanted to be the best, the most, the woman everyone loved and admired for all she could DO!  But I couldn’t just do everything, I had to do the most, be the best.

The first day of our life together – after the official honeymoon was over– my husband awoke to his new wife obsessing over what we needed to accomplish that day.  It was 6am.  He looked at me groggily and said, “Who are you and what have you done with my wife?”  The honeymoon was over and I had things to do and now that he was my partner, he had to jump on the achievement train quick before I left the station without him.  But he refused.  He’s a laid-back, calm, relaxed, unconditional kind of guy…and some days I wondered what in the world God was thinking when he joined us together as one?!

As usual, God was right.  Sometimes I have trouble admitting that, but in these mid-life years just past 50, after 23 years of marriage, moving across the country from my home in California to Northern Minnesota, raising 4 boys, and growing together through ups and downs I never thought I’d experience as a family doing life with Christ, I concede that God is Sovereign and I am not.

Over the years the Lord has graciously, gently, showed me the truth.  That my drive to do was selfish and prideful, and addictive.  That adrenaline high was what I sought.  The praise of people was my drug.  The boredom I felt when I wasn’t doing, left me depressed, defeated, and dejected.  I felt worthless, hopeless, and unloved.  But because of His great mercy, because, like Paul, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13), He now uses my drive for His glory not mine.  Apart from Jesus I am nothing, but in Him and through Him I can do great things!

I still get a good “high” from doing…but now I take my to-do list before the throne and submit my plans to His plans.  I make a choice to slow down, to be quiet, and to seek the face of the Father that loves me unconditionally, with a perfect plan for my day with Him.

Heavenly Father, you are the One worthy of all our praise, our admiration, and our sacrifice.  You are sovereign and holy.  Jesus you are the Name above all names, the name we can call on in our weakness and fear.  And we are afraid; sometimes so afraid we are frozen, sometimes so afraid we can’t stop doing.  Thank you that you know our beginning from our end, that you always have our best in mind, and that you will hold us as we take every step.  Help us as we navigate our day; Holy Spirit remind us to take our “to-do” list to the One that is sovereign and has a perfect plan for each of us, for those we love, and even for those that we don’t even like much.  Help us to see those around us as you do and empower us to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their lives today.  Amen.

Stacey Ray

Stacey Ray

Stacey is the mother to four sons from fifteen to twenty one and the wife to one very understanding husband. Besides holding passion in the field of psychology where Stacey is a professor to many college students, she also supports many other outreaches to include Children’s Vision in Bogata Columbia (an orphanage, school, and outreach to the poor program) and She is Safe, India (a ministry that teaches and enables women and children to avoid human trafficking, giving them value and worth in their communities). Originally from California, Stacey and her family make their home in northern Minnesota now where they are both in education and are happy to be part of their church. Stacey’s favorite quote is this, “I am nothing without Jesus. But in Him and through Him I can do great things” Chip Ingram.

Forgiveness Offers Great Rewards

I often draw my inspiration through real life experiences. After all, experiencing life is how we learn. Right? I know that our Heavenly Father put us in families so that we can learn some of life’s greatest lessons. Families have the potential to hurt you beyond your wildest imaginations. Families also bring us the greatest joys. And somewhere in the middle of all that hurt and joy, are the real lessons to be learned. The lessons that we learn in families define who we are, and who we will become. They are the lessons that define or erode our character. They soften us and they often harden us. Families can be messy and dysfunctional, but at the core of a family you will often find love.

Sometimes, like in the instance of part of my family, the love is covered by a lot of drama. Some of the drama I participated in (wrongly, stupidly, and sometimes unknowingly). Some of the drama predated me. So, it causes a lot of tension and hurt in our world. We (meaning my husband and I) have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to heal some of the hurt. We have tried to write awkwardly worded letters, emails and texts, and have tried calling only to find that the number we had was disconnected, only leaving us feeling more hurt, and covering up more of the love. It wasn’t until late one night, while I couldn’t sleep (normally I take that as a sign that GOD wants to talk) that I turned on the radio trying to push some of my mental garbage from my brain. The first song was the hymn, How Great Thou Art. In that moment I just knew that I needed to fall to my knees in prayer and seek the guidance of my Father in Heaven, after all my favorite scripture is James 1:5, (NIV) If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

I cried to the Lord, asking him to take my pain away. I cried to him to forgive me for the role that I played in the hurt of this family that He brought me too.  This family that I have hurt is not the family I was born to, but the family I was married to. This family was His gift to me, to learn from and grow with and learn life lessons from, and I had played a role in its hurt and pain. I asked Him to help me forgive myself for the words that I have said that have hurt others, and then I quietly asked for him to strengthen me and guide me. I felt such peace. As I rose from my prayer, it was as a small voice whispered to me to seek forgiveness and to give forgiveness as I had been forgiven. Whoa!!!! I had just been given the strength I needed to help heal my family. I love it when I get almost instant responses. Sometimes answers to prayers take forever. (I think HE is trying to teach me a little more patience)

Forgiveness is something that is so hard to swallow. WHY???? I know from personal experience, seeking it means accepting your role in wrong doing, and who wants to be wrong, right? And then on the other hand, giving forgiveness means releasing another person’s transgression against you, and that is equally hard.  However for our own personal growth, let alone, our eternal salvation, forgiveness is required of us. Mathew 6:14-15 counsels us of the dangers of not forgiving others. Forgiveness is a precious, healing gift from our Father in Heaven and from Jesus Christ. Even if no one else forgives us of our trespasses, as long as we seek the forgiveness of God and of Christ, are repentant, forgive others and remember to forgive ourselves, we will be learning and sharing the greatest lessons that life can offer us.

Sisters, I testify to you the healing power of forgiveness. I know that I have a lot of work to do to heal my family. I also know that with the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the Love and strength of my Father in Heaven, that I will be able to offer forgiveness and be forgiven; because through the Lord Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father, all things are possible. We just have to seek HIS counsel and forgiveness and let go of the hurt (sometimes offenders don’t know and often don’t care that they have trespassed… So give them and yourself a gift and forgive. Forgiveness is so hard, but in the end, once we dig through all the crud and the hurt and the pain we are granted great reward for our small (and sometimes HUGE) sacrifice. We will be healed. We will be made whole. I will pray for each of you that you will feel our Father’s love and desire for you to become more forgiving of yourself and of others.

Alethea Gaukel

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)

Benched

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven”, Ecclesiastes 3:1.

Sometimes in life it’s easy to feel like you’ve been benched; sidelined; taken off the field in your own life. Somewhere in the middle of being a wife, mom, janitor, chef, launderer and a plethora of other duties, you’ve lost purpose. You feel muddled with your wheels spinning. Like an exercise bike, you sure are working hard to get nowhere!

I felt that way recently. Since I was seven years old I’ve either been leading worship or been a part of worship. Even in a desert season God brought our family through, being involved in worship was something I clung to. Then God called us to move. For the first time in my life, I stood there in our new, awesome church surrounded by wonderful leaders and how was I feeling? Whiny! Instead of worshipping and praising God I stood there feeling empty; feeling benched. There I was looking on while others ministered in a way I had for so long.

It was then I shut my eyes and tried to focus on the still small voice. “Amanda, it’s a different season, I’m using you in a new way.” What I began to realize was sometimes the best thing we can do for God is to get over ourselves. I was so focused on feeling benched that I hadn’t opened my eyes to the new ways God was using me. One of those was to champion Tara in Titus II Woman.

While I believe that worship leading has been a powerful way that God has used me, I can’t get stagnant. I must grow. Sometimes growing means letting go. When we hang onto what was instead of reaching for what’s next it starts to become about us and not him. It’s hard to let go but we have to make space for the new things He has for us.

Another thing I learned in my bench lesson was, just because he’s asking you to do something different doesn’t mean you weren’t good at what he’s asking you to step away from. Don’t we just pout sometimes? I did, right there in church. “God, you took this from me.”  “I must have missed you.” “I must really stink at this, that’s why you’re punishing me.” Reality is, our life happens in seasons. Apple trees only bear fruit in due season. It’s not because God’s mad at the apple tree or that it stinks at being an apple tree that it doesn’t produce fruit all the time. No, it’s because He knows that in order to be the best tree, it has to function differently in different seasons.

I don’t know what your season is. Maybe, it’s all you can do to make it through feeding, changing, and bathing your little blessings and you feel like a shampoo bottle; rinse and repeat. Maybe you just feel like someone has taken your “spot” on the team, but guess what? God has something new for you. Don’t let Satan lie to you. Embrace the new season you’re in. Maybe you just don’t know, your purpose is lost. You know something? You don’t have to have a seven point plan in place. Just do the next right thing. Encourage your pastor, pray for your neighbor.

The worst thing we can do when we feel benched is pout. Pouting players don’t get put back in the game. The players that rally around the team and cheer them on are more likely to play again.

God, I pray for those in a benched season. Open our eyes to the new things you want to use us for. I pray that you would help us to have an attitude of being on a heavenly team and cheering others on when we feel lost. Be our guide, I pray. Amen

Amanda Keller

Amanda is a homeschooling mother of two great children and wife to Nathan.  While Amanda grew up in Jordan, Montana, their family makes their home in 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 Williston, 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

Astonishing

I have this really incredible life. Fifteen years of wedded….not always bliss, but great moments.  The phrase Love is a choice rings so very true.  We are both sprinkled with grey after our fifteen years of marriage and nearly two years of dating prior to that.  We made four beautiful children together and through the joy they have provided, the laughs, the tears; they have also given us each a few more greys.

While greys are not something a woman is usually proud to have, they come with lessons learned, emotions never forgotten, and a heart that feels like it will burst from your chest all the time.  This life I live with my other half is quite interesting.  It couldn’t be more exciting if I were a celebrity in Hollywood or if I was a famous author of hundreds of books.  I am just me; that’s a normal woman living a life dedicated to the call that God has placed before me.  Often that call is mom.  Sometimes it is wife first.  Other days I am author and still other days I am friend.  Every day and every moment of my life is lived to glorify my Father.  It brings me great joy when I know that what I am doing is pleasing to God.  That is my mission: always be pleasing to God – in all I do, say and how I live.

How do I keep such perspective?  Oh friends, I just pray.  It’s so simple really.  I pray like there is no tomorrow and I live as if God will return at any moment. I live with a holy fear of the Lord.  I don’t want to stand before judgement and have God say to me that I did not live my moments, good or bad, as if He was still coming.

I am so not perfected in this.  I have really bad moments, but they do not define me because I have the saving grace of God with in me.  My bad moments are forgiven when I ask them to be with a sincere heart and I have learned a lot from those human, those human woman moments.  My thoughts are not always pure, especially when someone in my family is hurting because of another human.  I must also confess that there are a lot of times that I really don’t like people.  People can be really mean and hurtful.  Those moments are not my best moments, but they are my human moments.  I feel emotions deeply and I cry often.

Ready for the remarkable part of living a life of prayer and in fear of the Lord?  He still loves me in these moments.  He still forgives me. He is stays with me. He still wants me to be his daughter, princess and one day queen.  Is that just not the most marvelous love you have ever known?  IT IS!!!!

Ladies, prayer matters.  God cares about the very smallest of moments.  He loves the least of these.  When someone suffers, God feels the hurt and pain.  He is connected to us in a way that no one could understand no matter how hard we try.  He is the glue that holds those broken pieces together when we feel we could shatter all over the floor.  God is the very Father who loves us unconditionally and will ALWAYS be there for us.  You are NOT insignificant.  You are LOVED.

You are bathed in prayer.  I pray for the least of these every day.   Every day I am presented with someone I have never met and may never come face to face with to pray for.  I am certain that every woman on the Titus II Woman teams are asked daily to pray for a soul that is in pain or needs someone to just cover them.  That’s our jobs as Christians, but we are also a very important species – women.  We have a pull on each other.  We have influence over life and we can make it more powerful in prayer.  We enter a space that is just God and you.  No other can enter.  It is a spiritual realm of prayer – conversation between you and God; a friendship like none other.  This is where we fight for all that is holy and the least of these.

“God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding” Job 37:5 (NIV).

I live a wonderful, incredible, surprising, staggering life.  I live a life designed by God that serves the least of these.  Don’t you want an extraordinary life? It’s so awesome! Even in the hard moments it is good, mind-blowing!

Jesus, my heart is for those who think they have no significance; You still love them.  I pray for any woman who reads this that their view of their life changes to see that You are still there.  Show them what a real life led by You looks like and bring them a joy for life.  Jesus, this life is so miraculous and you care for every single life.  Astonish their every day! Help us to be the light for another.  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.

 

“Black Friday”

I am not, by nature, a shopper, and gift giving is not my love language. I don’t enjoy any of the sensory sedimentation that comes with being in a shopping mall, center, or store. I grow anxious standing in lines or pushing through crowds. So, though you may find me hopeless, I can be found trying to avoid all shopping on this day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday referred to as “Black Friday.”

That being said, however, I must admit that I have gotten my hopeless self up to partake in the “Black Friday” experience. It was well over ten years ago, and it wasn’t my idea, but I’ve experienced it. The young woman who lives next door to me begged me to join her. She is the ultimate shopper, and her love language is gift giving. She celebrates and prepares for “Black Friday” almost as much as the Thanksgiving meal. So, when she bribed me with pecan pie for breakfast, I joined her. She invited me because this was her way of loving me, and I went because I loved her too.

She and I were both stay at home moms. We liked to garden, cook, and clean together, and her oldest boy used to play with my youngest boy. We got each other through the tough days and the not so tough days. We enjoyed talking until our husbands came home from work and we had to put our conversation on hold until we could meet again. It is not a mistake that I am stating this all in the past tense. See, I sinned against this young woman and her family ten years ago. As a result, our friendship dissolved.

It all began with some tension over a difference in our child rearing styles. It ended with me gossiping with another neighbor in my unrighteous anger. I was very wrong, and, to make it worse, the other neighbor I spoke with took what I said and used it to hurt me and this young woman that I loved so dearly. My young friend refused to forgive me, and an actual fence was put up between our two yards and families.

I’ve often thought the name “Black Friday” for the Friday after Thanksgiving sounded more evil than good. To me, this event has demoted the family meal on Thanksgiving to the rank of side thought before the feast of shopping over-indulgence. My understanding, however, is that the “black” actually refers to the profit that businesses turn over on this day. As the holiday shopping revenue begins pouring in, businesses see their profit numbers turn from red to black. Well, like their numbers, my spiritual walk was in the “red” when I sinned against my friend.

I believed I had done everything I possibly could by trying to apologize in the moment this all happened. She was so hurt she didn’t want to listen to me or forgive me; so, I just ignored that open wound that was left and walked on through each day thinking there was nothing more I could do. Yes, the fence between us bothered me. They put it up with the ugly side toward us, but it was all on their side of the lot. It was their way of dealing with what I had done to them, and there was nothing I could do to change this. Emotionally, it kept bothering me more as each year passed, however.

It was years later while I was in prayer asking the LORD to help me remove any obstacles lying in the way of a fruitful ministry for Him that I was shown the truth of how ugly this wound was, and how much I had neglected ministering it. First Mark 11:25 was given to me, “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” I realized I was holding some pretty hard feelings in against my dear neighbor. This was the root of my sin against her. I surrendered them to Jesus right there, and He threw them away. A great burden was lifted off of me, but things were just not right yet. See, with my feelings against her gone, all I could see was what I had done against her. This time in prayer I was brought to the Scripture Matthew 5:23-24, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” This wasn’t easy for me to do. I mean, giving Jesus the reins on my hurt and anger was actually easy. I didn’t feel the same way about going to my ex-friend and bringing up this old wound again, but I knew I had to. I knew this with everything in me because suddenly seeking her out was all I could think about, and I couldn’t accomplish a thing in my ministries or prayer walk without dwelling on it. I finally made a batch of cookies and took them over as a gift to her. I walked around the fence and at her threshold I asked for her forgiveness, and she gave it to me, God bless her. She even hugged me, and this is my love language.

Our relationship is not what it once was, but I can say that there is no bitterness between us. The day I went to her for forgiveness was a “Black Friday” for us both. Reconciliation profits all.

LORD, be blessed. My heart reflects Paul’s in his letter to Philipi. I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. Use me, my Lord. May those who read this, be blessed in Your heavenly, precious name. 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.

The Birth of a Promise

I remember when I “came of age”, “Aunt Flo” came to visit, or first “rode the crimson wave”.  I cried.  I was twelve.  It’s like I just knew this was the beginning of something horrible.  And it was.  “Aunt Flo” always caused me drama.  Sometimes she over stayed her welcome, disrupted my school attendance, and sometimes she went MIA for months on end-but I didn’t miss her.

As a young girl, my monthly cycles were unpredictable and tumultuous.  At nineteen, I finally paid a visit to a doctor and discussed all of my worsening issues in my cycles.  I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and given the birth control pill.  The doctor told me that although not impossible, I would have difficulty getting pregnant someday.  Since that seemed like a faraway dream, I thought nothing of it.

In 2002, I married God’s best and John and I started our life together.  One summer, as we did our ministerial internship, I prayed, and truly felt God heal me of any infertility.  I believed that he would give us babies.  But I knew I wasn’t ready and pushed it to the back of my mind, until I turned 24.  We had been married for two and a half years and my five year plan was suddenly a three year plan.  My biological clock was ticking loudly in my ears as I watched many of my friends, family, college classmates, and colleagues in ministry have babies.

So, like everyone who wants to get pregnant: I threw away my birth control pills.  Month after month nothing happened.  I tested (several) dozen times and was disappointed month after month.  I visited doctors and midwives, acupuncturists, and chiropractors in hopes that someone could help me! We tried countless rounds of fertility treatments, and they failed. We were told we would likely never conceive.  So, after expending all of our resources and energy, I was done.  I couldn’t do it anymore.

Clearly, I had not heard from God.

John and I became licensed foster/adoptive parents and became the proud parents of two miraculous baby boys in 2008 (a separate and much more elaborate blog is required to share this part of our story).  We were content with our family.  We felt blessed beyond measure, truly lucky to have been entrusted our boys, Benjamin and Deven.  We knew we wanted to have more children, but thought it would be awhile and adoption can be so unpredictable.

tifanny ben and deven

Raising those boys has been such a joy: they are full of energy and health and all things boy! I’m truly blessed!

Over the years we have had our struggles, but in 2013, something unexpected happened.  I had worked hard to lose weight and get in the best shape of my life, but I was feeling “off”.  At the coaxing of a friend, I took a pregnancy test and found out I was pregnant.  Something I never thought would happen.  We kept it a secret for twelve weeks, when we felt we were out of the woods.  On Father’s Day 2013, we proudly announced that we were going to have another baby.  Two days later we found out that our baby was dead (again, another blog-another chapter).  Our doctor discovered a condition that caused the loss and assured us that it was treatable.  Although completely heartbreaking, we accepted that as a fluke and tried to continue on with our lives. Yet three months later, I was pregnant again.  That baby’s due date would be the one year anniversary of the day we lost the previous pregnancy.

jabez

God’s promises are yes and Amen.

Today, I have my two seven year old boys Benjamin and Deven who are funny, smart, athletic and active.  They are the incredible big brothers to Jabez: a seventeen month old jolly little soul; and to Lydia: a four month old angel face baby sister.

lydia

When I think of our story and how Jabez was born ten years after I felt that God would heal me of infertility and how I waivered so much in my faith and felt that I had not heard him.  I have learned that sometimes, it takes time for Him to birth His promises.  That there may be a different, better way.

His ways are not our ways, his thoughts are not our thoughts.  (Isaiah 55:8).

Had John and I conceived when we initially planned to, we never would have adopted Ben and Deven.  Who knows who they would be, where they would be.

God may have given you a promise last week, last year, or many years ago and you’re still waiting.  Continue to wait.  His promises may take time to develop and work out.  But I can assure you, that when he is ready, God will allow you to give birth to his plans in your life, according to his will.

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

Full and Complete Trust

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Hello ladies. I hope and pray this article finds you trusting God, no matter what the situation. And that you’re learning to lean into Him more and more. I know I am.

So, where my life is right now is a pretty crazy place of just trusting what God’s plans are, even though I don’t know- in so many ways. My dad is scheduled to go in for a 3-4 hour bypass surgery for his heart, and wow, It reminds me of how fragile and how really we are just “dust” in this life. So that finds me just trusting God and leaning into Him more and more for my security in the midst of a situation where I don’t know. Have you ever been there? Maybe you’re there now.

My dad has always been a humongous support in my life, and I love and appreciate so much his input into my life. And if I had time to give you the entire back story, I would. But, suffice it to say, I was without a father and God gave me my dad- he adopted me. But every time I think of this piece of my life and my story, it takes me back to my Father and all that he did to adopt me, to call me daughter, His own.

Ladies, and gentlemen, I want to remind you, that no matter how rough or great life gets, remember that He pursued us. He loves us and He will see us through all the stuff that we can’t see through. He knows. He loves and we can trust Him. Though it might not go in the direction our fragile minds think, we can trust Him. So simple, yet such a foundation for everything else we pursue and do with our life. Be blessed today, and trust Him with your “unknowns.”

God, I just pray that you will help us turn over to you all the things that can so easily weigh us down, and try to pull us away from trusting You, and fearing instead. I pray that in this season as we learn to trust You, that it will draw us in closer and closer to You- our safe place in the midst of any storm. Thank you for pursuing us, loving us, and making our paths straight. We love you. Amen.

Romans 5:8- “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

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).

Defeated

The word “defeated” has been on my heart a lot lately. If Satan EVER wants to get me down he will make me feel defeated. It doesn’t matter what I could be doing, but defeat will take over me….fast! When I look at the word defeat it just seems to have Satan’s name written all over it. Here lately so many friends have messaged me and let me know how very defeated they feel. Like the light at the end of their tunnel is not coming. This afternoon I was praying for those feeling defeated and God told me to tell YOU this, “Instead of thinking on being “defeated” think on the word “created.” I made you, I created you, I love you.” 

No matter how defeated you may feel remember you are important. You are here with purpose and not by accident! God does NOT make junk! Whatever battles you may be facing, step up to the front lines and face it head on and KNOW God is one step ahead of you. He’s far enough ahead of you to help fight the battle that is before you, yet close enough to stand by you and anoint you with His comfort and peace. So right now you tell Satan it’s time for him to leave. “I am NOT defeated, and you have no hold over me! I am created by THE King of Kings, THE Ruler of our world, THE One and Only! I am created by the One who already won the battle over him and it’s time for you, Satan, to go back where you came from.” Remind Satan if he tries coming back he will know right away not to ever try that again. You are here with a purpose, you are a threat to Satan, and that battle you’re facing; you will win it, and you WILL come out the victor. Why? Because while you are on the front lines in your battle, God ALREADY crossed the battle line for you. And…..if you listen close enough you can hear Him whisper to you, “It is finished.”

never defeated

 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)

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)

You Count

Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law. (James 2:8-9; NLT)

Have you ever felt like you aren’t good enough? Have you felt inferior compared to the mom next to you, the person in the pew in front of you? Maybe you just think what you do doesn’t matter or that you don’t have value.

Sometimes, as a woman especially, I think we struggle with insecurity. Insecurity in who we are. Insecurity in what we can or cannot provide for our families. Insecurity in our looks. Insecurity in all things.

Let me encourage you. God does not play favorites. While this concept is foreign to us as a human race, we are all the same in God’s eyes. In fact the book of James tells us that favoring some people over others in sin. God cannot sin. He doesn’t look at the “perfect” mom next to you that you think has it all together and think, “Yep, I sure to like her more.” He loves you just the same. He came for you and he loves you.

With all the social media frenzy we are all involved in these days it’s easier now than ever to feel like we don’t measure up but can I tell you, we are using the wrong measuring stick! Where do you measure up in God’s eyes? You are his precious child. He loves you. He died for you.

I believe we all need to take a break from our crazy lives and rest in the knowledge that he loves us. You count. You have value. In the middle of the dirty diapers, screaming children, dirty laundry, the car breakdown, he loves you. He sees you as precious. He sees you as valuable.

While this blog is different than most I write, I feel the overwhelming sense that women just need to hear loud and clear; God loves you and you have value. It’s hard to hear above the negative noises of life the still small voice that says; I love you. It takes discipline to shrug off the lies of the enemy that scream so loud on every front, we aren’t good enough and don’t measure up. It’s a discipline we must pray through every day. We must speak life over ourselves and it starts with seeing the value that is placed in each one of us. God doesn’t create junk. You are a masterpiece, even on the days you haven’t showered or gotten out of your pjs. He loves you.

Lord I pray that you would begin to birth inside of each of us the knowledge and deep feeling of the love you have for us. Remind us in your magnificent way that we have value and we count. Encourage our hearts I pray. Amen

Amanda Keller

Amanda is a homeschooling mother of two great children and wife to Nathan.  While Amanda grew up in Jordan, Montana, their family makes their home in 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

 

Grace Out Loud

I’m not going to give you five steps to being a better woman in grace.  I’m not going to tell you that by following a few simple rules and by jumping backwards three times there will be a life of extraordinary grace waiting for you.  That’s not how we roll over here at Titus II Woman.  We speak from real life. Life as a mother to children who do not always say kind words or appreciate ALL that we do for them; life as a wife who sometimes really doesn’t like her husband very much, but does love him; life that is led by Christ even when we are in the midst of chaos and trial.

When we talk about grace and how we can have that as a woman, I don’t think we all understand the full ability we have through grace.  First let’s get the truth of what grace is and then we will walk from there. Grace (perfect and full grace from God) is God’s unmerited empowerment, which gives us the ability to do what he demands of us.  You know grace as getting what we don’t deserve.  Well, we don’t deserve God’s grace, but He gives it freely.  Grace gives us the power to live an extraordinary life like Jesus.  Yep! Just like Jesus.  We are not perfect and will never be, but God has given us the ability and empowered us to do as Jesus did – in every single way.

Are you catching this? You can walk as the light of Christ.  You can perform and see miracles happen before your eyes because of God’s grace! Seriously! He has given that ability to you and actually commands you, as a believer, to go and do as Jesus did. That means not only reaching the lost, but teaching them how to live as Jesus lived.  That is Titus II Woman.  We have all been instructed as believers to show other women what it looks like to be an imperfect woman, but a woman who is desperate for God and lives in His presence every moment of the day (not all good or even great moments, but still in His company).  We are to teach other women how we do this.  This is why we write the way we do. This is why we speak of life when we go to events or small groups or online studies.  This is what Titus II Woman is all about. We are just grace filled women reaching women who need to know how to be grace filled and in turn reach other women.

So why do so many of us not live as if we have grace? Because we have not owned the truth that grace has empowered us to not be impure in our heart, mind, or body.  When we accept Christ as our Savior we are given a new nature and that nature is with grace.  Cooperate with your new nature.  Grace says to be holy as God is holy. Peter says this to CHRISTIANS in 1 Peter 1:13-17, “you must be holy in everything you do, just as God…is holy.”

The kind of holy we are talking about here comes from the Greek word hagios meaning; to set apart, be sanctified and consecrated, pure and morally blameless.   I know that there are some of you reading this thinking it’s impossible to be all those things and live without sinning, and you know what?  You are right! It’s impossible through our own strength to live pure and holy and without sin, but what is possible for God? All things!  The fact is that God gave us grace because he knows we will make mistakes, but He will always love us and He will always forgive us in our sincerity of asking.  We try our hardest to live righteously and when we mess up we confess it and ask Him to forgive us and HE DOES.  Then we try again.  This is every single Titus II Woman team member (writer and speaker).  We just want to be our best and live in our best.  Sometimes that happens and sometimes we fail miserably, but we keep on trying and because of that we are rewarded.

Lord, this life is hard.  You walked it for thirty three years and know the trials we all face.  You faced them and more. I ask for a constant presence of your Holy Spirit.  I seek guidance and wisdom in all areas of my life and for the lives of the women reading this.  Show us your grace and how we can live that grace out loud. In Jesus 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 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.