Christmas Letter

December is always a hard month for me.  I think it’s hard for a lot of people, but I only know my own story, my own perspective on this “joyful” month.  December isn’t just Christmas and New Year’s for me, it’s my birthday month as well.  Actually as I write this, I’m one year older, today is the day!  I chose to spend it with all of you sitting in my dining room (that I enjoy very much), after a double work out (my body is a living sacrifice), a “clean” breakfast, and a scrumptious mocha I created myself with very healthy ingredients!

Here’s the reason December has always been a tough one for me.  I have a very active imagination and huge expectations…every single year that I can remember.  Anticipation is a gloriously creative endeavor of mine.  I like to have it, create it, and make others’ anticipation so grand that they’re in a tither.  And for some odd reason I think that others should do the same for me.  Which naturally, is never enough.  Goodness gracious, I’ll just confess it here already.  I’m a selfish, greedy grown woman, but God’s working on me, and I’m much better the older I get.  But back to Christmas…

Although December 25th isn’t scientifically proven to be the birthday of Jesus, we all go with it because it comes at the end of a long year, we can get two holidays in a week, retailers need a boost at the end of the fiscal year, and for those of us in snowy climates it’s great for sparkly lights and pretty decorations.  As a child Christmas’ were filled with wonder and magic and LOTS of gifts.  And that was the excitement.  I can hear your disapproval…of course Christmas is about family, friends, peace, goodwill towards man, etc., etc.… but as most children and adolescents (and adults if they’re honest) can attest, it isn’t about that for them.  I was no different.  Sorry to disappoint, not a spiritual giant in any way, shape or form.

Until one Christmas my blended family of seven, who had previously been fairly well-off, lost pretty much everything.  My parents were floundering in a California crisis and their business, property flipping and management, went under.  So that year the five of us kids decided we would surprise our parents with gifts for them!  I was the oldest, a late-teen, and organized the mission.  We pooled money and we each bought each of our parents a gift – for those of you that are mathematically challenged like me – that’s 5 gifts for Mom and 5 gifts for Dad!  Because we wanted to make it just as special for them, we wrapped as much separately as we could for lots of presents!  We wanted them to be as excited as we were each Christmas morning past.

They were happy!  Even my Dad, a self-professed Scrooge, smiled with delight.  But the best gift of all was actually from my Mother.  She’s a creative, unconditional love kind of woman, and it broke her heart not to be able to give us gifts.  So she wrote us each a letter.  The letters were on pretty Christmas stationary and placed in the tree branches.  None of us even noticed the envelopes, we were so wrapped up in the giving process.  But after the adults had opened their gifts and we had our traditional home-made cream-filled puffs, my Mother asked us to get our envelopes from the tree.  I don’t know if it meant as much to my younger siblings, to be honest I don’t remember ever talking out loud about the letters with them.  But to me, then and over the years, it was the very best gift I’ve received from anyone (yes, yes, salvation is definitely the best gift I’ve ever received…I know some of you are shocked that I can even compare…but God works through people as well in giving us gifts!).

I still have that letter and have read it a few times over the years, but I don’t need to read it to remember how I felt that Christmas morning.  I felt special; I believed that I had a lot to offer the world, that I could make a difference.  I felt that I had talent and abilities and potential.   I felt that I was important and unconditionally loved.  I was so blessed by that hand-written letter that to this day I count that as the best Christmas present ever!

This will come out on December 30th, so most of us will have celebrated the birth of Christ in various ways, with big families, small gatherings, or all alone.  And we’ve got another “special” time to get through with New Year’s Eve and all that brings with it.  Maybe you anticipate the New Year and are excited to get glammed up and hit the dance floor, or snuggle by a fire and watch the ball drop.  But it’s also very possible that you’re anticipating the worst, dreading the night alone, again.  Maybe you can’t get a babysitter, can’t afford a babysitter, or a night on the town.  Maybe you feel like you don’t matter and the New Year will be just as disappointing as the Old Year.

Make some time to read God’s Christmas letter to you.  It’s definitely the best gift you’ll ever receive.  The Bible is full of God’s love for you.  He thinks you’re pretty amazing.  He delights in you.  He loves you, just as you are, so very, very much that He gave you the ultimate gift.  His very own Son.  And Jesus, wow, He loves you so much, over the top loves you!  He did it all for you…left Heaven, became a man so he could feel all we feel, and then he went to the cross, made a conscious choice to die a horrible death – all for you, for me, for all of us.

It’s always a choice.  Make a choice today to forgive others, forgive yourself, and read that letter God put on the Christmas tree for you.  He wants you to know how special you are, what your true identity is, and how much he loves you.

John 1:12-13                       Ephesians 2:8-9                 Romans 6:11                      John 17:19

2 Corinthians 5:17            1 Peter 2:9                          2 Cor 5:19                            John 8:36

Eph 1:4                                 Eph 1:6                                 Eph 4:32                               Eph 2:10
John 16:33                           Hebrews 13:5                    1 Peter 5:10                        Romans 3:22

 

And…have a Happy New Year knowing you’re loved by the Creator of the Universe, the One who conquered death, the One who is making all things New…including you!

Stacey Ray

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

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

“Win The Day”

win the day

Joshua 1:7-9. I read this passage today in my Bible study time. I feel so whole when I am in God’s Word. Peace resides there.  It goes perfect with our family motto, Win The Day.  A coach in Oregon started the saying with his athletes and the entire town quickly caught on.  So did I when I read the story.

We are usually always looking toward future dates or events or dreams, but what about our assignment for today; just that next step, that next math problem, that next dish to wash.  It’s the everyday steps that accomplish great things.  Without those seemingly mundane steps we would not be in the place we are today. A book would not be written without those first few words.  A ball game would not be won without those days of practice.  A kitchen would not be clean when guests arrive without washing those first few dishes.

There is nothing wrong with looking ahead as long as we know the task at hand and work at it as if God were standing next to us watching.  Are we doing our best work? Are we giving it our all?

Steps in faith require trust and also many daily steps in preparation for the leap of faith.  God is preparing us with each step of our everyday life.  There will come a day when a leap will be required.  At that time we will assess and make a choice to go one way or the other. God’s beauty in free will; we get to make the choice to leap or stay.  We can’t waste all those preparation steps.

Before realizing the magnitude of this simple three word phrase, I would become discouraged when I could not run full ahead to what I knew God was calling me to do.  I saw the future.  I saw the awesome plans and very much wanted to be part of it.  I didn’t, however, see how each thing I did while in my current situation led up to those great plans.  I had training to do before I would be completely ready.

I believe that sometimes God gives us glimpses of the precious future to keep us motivated; to keep us holding on to a better tomorrow.  We can all relate to a good incentive program.  God has the best one of all.

Win the Day.  We say it every morning in our home.  Some days we totally don’t win, but we still learn from those days and in my book that’s considered a win.  Right now as I sit and write these words I feel inspired by God to take just another step forward and win the day.

Joshua 1:7-9 says, “Be strong and courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Lord, my heart is to be where you are and do what you want me to do. I want to race ahead and rush the process of training and learning, but you have a perfect plan. Help me to slow my pace and really see each opportunity from your eyes. Thank you for caring enough for me to train me before I step. Amen.

Tara DeMaris

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.

True Romance

maryandjoseph

Over the last two weeks, while on vacation, there was so much bad in the news. There was a shooting in Colorado and a mass murder in California. I got so tired of hearing about all the evil that was in our world, I decided to turn the station to something that many of us enjoy. Yes, a sappy love story on Hallmark!

After the movie was over I turned in for the night, with a prayer on my lips to what I was to share in this article for Titus II. I heard the Lord speak so clearly to me that I now find myself, while in the Seattle airport at 2:25 am, writing what God has laid on my heart.

God reminded me that there are many true romances in His Word, but the one that is most wonderful is found in Matthew 1:18-19, “The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, chagrined (distressed or humiliated) but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.”

This is the greatest love story, for it brought about the birth of our Savior. But before Jesus was born, Mary at the age of around 16, had to be willing to be Jesus’s mother. Do we realize what happened to young women when they were found to not be virgins back in that day? Many were taken outside the city gates and stoned to death.

Not to mention the shame that Joseph must have felt when it was very evident that the woman he loved and was engaged to was pregnant, and he knew he was not the father. This man loved his betrothed so much that he did not want to bring her public humiliation and possible death. He did not want revenge or for her be disgraced.

I’m sure Mary was fearful of what Joseph would think, and she knew the possibility that he would turn her away. But she had given her word, when the angel told her what was going to take place, she humbly said, “Be it unto me as you have said.”

How many of us would have been willing to do what Mary did? How many of our loves would have cared so deeply for us that they would want to shield us from the ridicule of the crowds? I am so impressed by this young couple’s deep love for each other.

Because they were willing to listen and obey when the Lord spoke to them through the angels, we now have the Christmas message and the Easter revelation of salvation for all mankind. So on this Christmas season, when we are watching those cheesy Christmas love stories, let us not forget the one wonderful romance that lead to our Saviors birth.

I so appreciate the sacrifices that Mary and Joseph made to raise the Son of God, because by them doing that, we are now a joint heir with Jesus and one day we will rule and reign with Him.

Have a blessed, and yes, a romantic Christmas season.

Glennette Christian

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)

Frazzled

abide

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:4 NKJV)

I don’t know about you, but I sure struggle with feeling frazzled at times. There are so many demands and expectations that meet us each morning. Time seems to fly by faster than before. It’s hard to keep up! Sometimes I feel like a dog chasing it’s tail, I’ll never accomplish it!

Recently I attended a ministers’ enrichment engagement. The speaker spoke out of John 15. It was a very familiar passage to me, but the message was different. Instead of speaking about bearing fruit he focused on abiding in Christ.

I discovered that I, like many people, have a production mindset. It’s about how many people attend, how many read the post, like the post, the amount in the checkbook and on and on the list goes. What we see in John is Jesus saying, “Abide in me.” What he wants from us is a relationship mindset.

What is the first thing that gets shelved when we get busy? For me it’s easy to cut out my devotion and prayer time. After all, you can’t “see” those results, but the dirty dish pile and laundry mountain are very visible!

Can I tell you something? God doesn’t care about the condition or production of your house as much as he cares about the condition of your heart! It’s against our natural inclination to carve out time in an already crazy schedule to sit and read God’s Word and pray. Who has that time?!? But that really is the cure for the frazzled soul.

So many things about God’s economy are backwards from what we think and understand. I’ve come to realize that it’s on the days I take the time for personal devotions and family devotions that I somehow have the time to get things done. Maybe it’s that the condition of my heart affects the outcome of my day more then I understand.

What are you feeling frazzled about? Maybe it’s time to look inward and upward. Spend time abiding in Christ. I think we all need more of that.

Lord, I pray that you would draw us into your presence. Help us to dedicate some time to you and abiding in and with you. Help our production nature to take a backseat to the relationship building that you desire to do within us. Amen

Amanda Keller

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

Season of Busy

be still 2

Psalms 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

It seems that the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s just flies by. We work for several days to shop for and prepare a huge feast for the family at Thanksgiving. As soon as it’s over, we’re setting up Christmas trees and lights. There’s more shopping and preparations for Christmas treats. And then the round of parties, cookie exchanges, and programs begins. This year, we had six Christmas parties in just the first two weeks of December. It feels as though if I’m not at a party, I’m making food for the next one. The parties will continue up through the beginning of January.

Now don’t get me wrong. Spending time with my family and friends is something I would like to do more often. I’m not a fan of shopping, but I do love to give presents; I hate the hassle of putting up lights, but I adore the cozy feeling of the soft glow of a Christmas tree and the beauty of driving through town with all the houses lit up.

I just wish it didn’t feel so busy, so rushed. It’s hard to maintain the reverence and peace that a celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth should reflect when I’m staying up until midnight to finish that last batch of cookies for the third cookie exchange this week. Evidently, on some days that feeling of overwhelming busyness is written all over my face, because when I enter the grocery store for the fifth time of the week to grab one more treat for that party I forgot, the greeter smiles, and says to my children “Do you remember my favorite Bible verse?” I take a deep breath, because I can tell he’s really reminding me, and repeat with the children “Be still, and know that I am God.”

“Be still, and know.” While running from party to program to cookie exchange, let’s be sure we’re making time to reflect on why we’re gathering together, why we’re exchanging gifts, what we’re celebrating. He is God, and He will be exalted. Let’s spend time in His word; spend time thanking Him for the greatest Gift of all time, the birth, teaching, and sacrifice of His Son.

We Pray Together: Lord, thank you for the opportunity to gather together and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Help me to make these gatherings an exaltation of You; to make You the center of all that I do. Remind me to be still, Lord, that I might feel Your presence and Your voice in the midst of chaos.  Thank You, Lord, for the gift of Your Son.  Amen.

Sara Lester

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.

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”

god rest

“’She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel – which means, God with us.’” Matthew 1:21-23

So, what is your favorite Christmas carol? When we go caroling, I am always excited to sing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” Not only does it have a playful feel, but I feel like it is the carol which tells it all.

This is the month that we give one another gifts in love to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is because of the ultimate gift and love of the one true God that we do. Our God, our Creator, gave us his Son. He didn’t do this to commemorate a warm and fuzzy moment between himself and his creation. No, He gave us Jesus as an atonement for the sins that had torn us apart from God, that we may be reconciled to Him. Jesus was the perfect, sinless, sacrifice that ended all need for any other sacrifices.

As my gift to you, I give you “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” in my own words. Have you given yourself to Christ to be saved from Satan’s power and enslavement?

God give you peace; do not lose courage. Remember we celebrate Christmas because Christ was born to save us from Satan’s power when we were still in sin.

Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Israel with only a manger for a bed, but his mother Mary was content, for she bore God’s one true Son.

Our heavenly Father sent angels to announce his glory and the joy of His Son’s miraculous birth. All will be blessed, and the lowly shepherds were told this first.

The shepherds were frightened by this glorious showing, but the angels quickly comforted them and told them about the birth of the promised king from prophecies hundreds of years old.

The shepherds were so excited about this news, they left their flocks unattended in the fields and ran to worship the newborn king. They found Him not in a castle or born into a wealthy family. He was born into humble circumstances so much like their own; so much like most of our own. The baby’s mother did pray.

To God be the glory and praise! Greet one another in love and peace; that is the spirit of the Christmas season.

God bless you and your family and friends; long life to you all. May God send you a happy new year!

Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmWdHffqPzY (you’ll probably have to press “ctrl” while you click on the address) and listen to the actual carol now in comfort and joy!

LORD, I know Mary and Joseph didn’t know exactly what events would eventually befall the baby Mary carried. You came to them and requested their trust and obedience, and that is what they gave You. What a treasure this is that you have given to us: your baby boy, your one true Son. You have given Him to all of us through his birth, death, and resurrection – may we all know and trust You in this. May we obey your command to admit our sins, believe in the sacrifice You gave for us to conquer those sins and the deaths we deserve, and may we be made new through receiving your Holy Spirit within us. Thank You! Thank You! LORD, Thank You. Be blessed in our love and humble presence at your throne; we worship You. I pray we all know the fullness of your presence and share this story with others boldly. God, rest us merry; in peace. Amen.

Lorinda Freeman

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.

 

Knitted Together

knitted together

“For you created my inmost being; you “knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” Psalms 139:13-14.

I was given the sweetest baby shower when I was pregnant with our (only) daughter, Lydia Grace. I received an abundance of beautiful pinks and purples and ruffled and lacy outfits and blankets for her.  Many of the gifts were homemade, even. One of my favorites was a beautiful, soft, pink, heart pattern knitted afghan. It is simply beautiful. Lydia loves it, too. She’ll wrap her chubby fingers through the loops of yarn and pull it close to her face.

Just like the intricate care of that blanket as it was knitted with love for me and my daughter, each of us was also knitted together.  With love.  By our Heavenly Father. Every detail was delicately placed for a purpose.

As women, we tend to get down on ourselves and in the midst of societal pressures and self-imposed expectations we forget who created us and why.

It is with a purpose that we came to be.

But, just like my sweet baby’s blanket, we get soiled. Perhaps it is life, or sin, or shame, or anxiety, or depression, but we can be cleansed by His Love and Power!

My blanket has the neatest little tag that shows who created it. On each of us God has put His stamp! But it’s a blood stain that reminds us that He created us, called us, loves us, and sacrificed for us!

I hope today that you are reminded of how wonderful you are! God loves you and created you! If this article speaks to you please leave a comment! We would love to hear from you!

Lord, remind us of you awesome love for us. We walk through days of trial and uncertainty every day, but you are the One certain we can hold on to during our days. Bless the women who read this and give hope to our generation. Amen.

Tiffany Heth

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

Shame & Guilt

grief

Why do you feel shame? Why don’t you feel you are good enough or that you can’t lead? Questions I ask myself often.

I still struggle with these feelings; feelings that are not from God. I just want to be liked.  I just want to do good and help women in the process, but I’ve made so many bad choices.  They are clearer to me than most of my good choices.  Guilt is always present.

When I was in junior high I was at the house a young mom. I babysat her elementary aged daughter.  She was single and raising her daughter alone.  In all her struggle she had found a good job and was providing well for the two of them.  That was important to her.

CD’s were all the rage then.  Music and different sounds captivated me.  This woman that trusted me with her daughter’s life had lots and lots of CD’s.  More than a hundred and that was a lot in my pre-teen brain.  I listened to many of them while I babysat and we danced in good fun together.  One day the thought came to me she wouldn’t even notice if a few were gone. I was so selfish. I took several of those CDs. Mariah Carey was one of them and I believe there was a Beach Boys in there too.  I tucked it away in my book bag and didn’t look back.

I stole.  I broke the eighth commandment.  And I knew better.  I knew it was wrong.  It didn’t belong to me, but I took it and I didn’t feel bad for it until much later in life.  This pastor’s daughter, raised in church, knowing full well that sins had consequences was a thief.  It wouldn’t be the last time I stole.

Ladies, my shame began there.  I knew then that I would never live up to the approval I sought from my father or my mother.  It was at that point that I began feeling like I was never going to be good enough.  If I was capable of this awful sin and really not feel guilt then there was a deep darkness in me and I didn’t think it would have a cure.

Oh how I wish I could tell you that I gave those CDs back and apologized.  I listened to them often.  I was too full of shame to do such a thing and that would also mean my parents would find out.  I couldn’t fathom the punishment if they found out; learned that they had a thief for a daughter.

This was a guilt I carried with me for decades.  Even now as I think about it I am pained.  I wish I remembered the woman’s name (that is how very little I thought of her) so I could tell her how very sorry I am or repay her for what I took.  I’m sure she knew I took them.  I have asked God to forgive me for this sin.  I asked humbly and with a sincere heart.  I knew the moment I asked that I was forgiven, but I can’t undo what I’ve done to someone else.

This may seem petty and insignificant to you, but there is nothing insignificant about breaking one of God’s commandments, even if just for a few CDs.  It’s not petty to hurt or betray someone’s trust.  I failed this woman.  Even as a young girl I could have had a great influence on that family, but I ruined any influence I once had.

Do you suffer from feelings of shame or guilt? Have you done something that you aren’t’ proud of, but aren’t sure of how to rectify or that you even can?

I’m here to tell you that even if you aren’t’ able to physically fix your wrongs on earth now, you have a chance to right your wrongs with the One who matters most.

Lord, I’m so sorry for letting you down.  I have done wrong by you and have carried shame and guilt with me with every step I take.  I don’t want this any longer. I ask you to forgive me for my sin and wash away my iniquity.  Use this pain I’ve carried for something good to glorify you. Amen.

Tara DeMaris

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.

There is Hope for Grief

grief

The holidays bring joy, happiness, stress, and eventually back to happiness.  For some, the holidays, and other times of the year, bring grief and sadness of loss. Grief comes in many forms.  We often think that it is from death, but there are other things that hurt, that feel like death.  Divorce, moves, miscarriages, the loss of a friendship; there are other things that cause us grief.  Sometimes, those grief moments overtake us.  Even if your event isn’t on this list or you don’t describe what you feel as grief, sadness too, is painful.  Grief has no time table, it comes and goes as it pleases. Sometimes it comes in waves, sometimes it sprinkles, and sometimes it’s only a memory.  No matter what it’s from or how it presents itself, it’s painful.

Pain, sadness, and grief cause so many things.  Our behavior, our reactions, and our decisions can be affected by those feelings we have.  Whatever it is that you face, it’s important to remember God’s words to us. (Psalm 147:3-6), “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He counts then number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground.”

Even in our sadness, God has comfort for us.  We don’t have to think about or approach him as a super hero to come in and make it better.  We can approach him as our father, one who longs to make things right, one who desires to take the pain for us.  When we’re happy, when we’re sad, when things are right, and when things are wrong; He desires us.  He desires that relationship where we need Him, seek Him, speak to Him, praise Him, thank Him, and cry to Him.  In the relationship He brings comfort, wisdom, healing of our hurt heart, and excitement for our happiness.

Here’s what follows in Psalms 147: 7, “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God.”

In our hurt and sorrow, thankfulness to Him helps us to focus on things above our pain.  It doesn’t mean the pain doesn’t exist, it means we choose to focus on things other than just our pain while we work through the process of healing.

Before you continue reading, take just a second to calm yourself, clear your mind, and read the verses in Psalm 147 as God speaking to you.

Psalm 147:3-6 (altered)

I heal your broken heart
And bind up your wounds.
I count the number of the stars;
I call them all by name.
5 Great is your Lord, and mighty in power;
My understanding is infinite.
I lift up the humble;
I cast the wicked down to the ground.

7 Sing to your Lord with thanksgiving;
Sing praises on the harp to your God

Your pain, your feelings are just that, pain and feelings.  They are not right or wrong, they just are.  Your choice is your thankfulness in the midst of those feelings.  Hear his voice, read his words, they are for you in your situation.  You are loved, you are cared for, you are treasured in your great moments, in your weak moments, in your happiness, and in your pain.  You are loved.

Gracious, loving God, thank you that you are my God.  Thank you that you love me even in my mess.  Thank you that you love everyone who is reading this, and of course, those who are not! Please bring peace to every reader, comfort to every heart, and the heart knowledge to know that you are here for us.  Thank you for the way you love us.  Thank you for the way you care and provide.  Thank you.

Nikki Rasmussen

Nikki Rasmussen

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

Fear

fear

 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7)

What do you fear? Many of you already made a mental list just by reading the title of this article. If you are like me, just the thought of reading an article on fear makes you nervous. Why? Because in a way our fears are our security. Hiding behind what’s safe makes us feel good. Reading something that may stretch that thinking is in itself, scary.

Have you ever thought past your worst fear? That my friend is uncomfortable! If my worst fear came true what’s on the other side? I don’t want us to dwell on the morbid or dive into a pit of what ifs. Just think about it long enough to realize that no matter what happens, at the other side of our fear is God.  One of my worst fears is losing my spouse or children. It used to make me an insecure mess. Every time they were apart from me my mind would wander to my worst fear. This would definitely be the time they would never return. It wasn’t until I read a book by Beth Moore called So Long Insecurity did I learn about looking past my fear and realizing even if the worst happened, God would still be God. It might really stink and I might feel like I would rather die than experience that pain, but God would still be constant and He would still have a plan. It’s not a place of not caring but a place of surrender. Surrender to God’s will and trusting him with things most precious to you. It’s a releasing of the stress that fears feed. It makes me less of a frenzied mess.

Some people get physically ill because of the anxiety fear creates. Some people turn to control. Controlling others and manipulating situations so they feel a sense of security. Others turn to drugs, sex, plastic surgery and a whole gamut of things.

This fear thing is running rampant today. With the increased terror activity, shootings, bombings and just plain evil that surround us, it is easy to let fear win. Fear sometimes takes over our blogs, Facebook pages and websites. Fear can make good Christian people look not so Christian. Fear creates arguments and discussions that maybe don’t need to be. If you notice in the above passage you can’t have a spirit of fear and. You either have a spirit of fear or a spirit of love. Spirit of fear or spirit of power. What’s in your spirit? What’s in my spirit? Are we living out of love and following 1 Corinthians 13? Are the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5 coming out of us? Or are we reacting, posting, discussing out of a spirit of fear? One edifies, one tears down. While God created our bodies to experience fear as a protection mechanism (sticking your finger in a light socket or jumping off a building is scary and also not a good idea!J) acting out of spirit of fear is a totally different thing and not healthy.

My challenge to us all is to be careful of what spirit we are acting and reacting out of. Before we post or speak, filter it through 1 Corinthians 13 and Galatians 5 and see if it’s still a good idea. God wants to use us all mightily but we have to kick this fear thing to the curb!

Father, help us live our lives in accordance with your Word. Give us a spirit of love and power. Help us to do what you have called us to. We pray against the tool of fear Satan uses to get us to react and act certain ways. We want to reflect Christ in all our life. Thank you Jesus. Amen

Amanda Keller

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