Treasured

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will also be. Matthew 6:19-21

Around my house the word “pet” stands for Psychologically and Emotionally Tethered – in other words, they are family. We currently have two dogs, three rats, and four fish. I talk with them all as my own children; my fur and fin babies.

I had a particular rat back in December named “Almond” who had a stroke in the early hours of a morning. I woke up and found him struggling around his cage; so, I spent my day trying to nurse him with special foods, dropperfuls of sugar water, and comforting affection – lots and lots of affection. I wanted to strengthen him to want to live, but he would have none of the food and very little of the water I offered him. He just wanted the affection; in fact, he didn’t want me to put him down. When I had to, he would whimper pitifully and try to follow me.

By the time my husband returned home from work that evening, it was certain Almond was going die and I didn’t want him to be alone, so, my husband and I took turns holding him, and late that evening Almond’s breathing became labored, then he could only breathe when we held him in a certain position, and finally my husband said he was certain that Almond’s heart had stopped beating. So, I stroked Almond’s fur and said goodbye to him one last time. Chris gasped suddenly that Almond’s heart had just begun to beat again. For a moment we could tell Almond was back with us and trying to focus on us, and then his heart stopped beating for good. He died focusing on my husband and I, listening to us and soaking up our affection.

As Chris and I shed tears over Almond’s death, we wondered over the fact that Almond’s heart seemed to react to my presence even in death. That moment of renewal, when Almond’s heart seemed to beat again at the recognition of my presence made me feel treasured by him. It was such a sweet moment for me I haven’t stopped wondering about it. I realized that my own heart could relate with his. I have a Father in God for whom my heart beats. His love and affection, His nourishment and provision far outweighs the care I was able to give Almond, but through God the Son, Jesus Christ, I have submitted my life to the family of God and His care. I can say along with Paul in Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

This week, I have been challenged. I am on a cruise with my sister celebrating our forties and taking a break from our duties being wives and mothers. Being on a cruise is a very selfish kind of vacation because for an entire week you are treated like royalty. You can actually close your eyes and do nothing, there are literally hundreds of people on board this ship to do everything for you with a smile and a nod. There has been congestion and arguing among passengers at times because we are all lulled into believing the entire week revolves around us individually. I wish I could say that I haven’t fallen into this trap, but I must be honest that I have found myself bickering with my sister once or twice, and I haven’t always been gracious and merciful in my heart when I observe the people around me reacting to the same stimuli of vanity, covetousness, and all forms of flattery and gluttony. I have to wonder where my treasure truly lies, and I am sure there are people here who might wonder the same thing. I am mortified! I had a five minute tirade whilst eating dinner the other night over the amount of skin I have to look at if I want to sit out in the sun next to my sister. Is it truly my place to judge and complain about what others are wearing or not wearing? Does it matter what I think on this matter other than that it is a device used by the deceiver to divide me from others I may have had some good influence on if I had only kept my eyes on my own person and my tongue under lock and key?

I am repentent. Truly I am. Where does my treasure lie, and whom do I truly seek with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? I know that my heart treasures Christ, I am His follower. From this knowledge I can regroup and regain my ground and footing. Though I walk through the marketplace of Vanity Fair, I do not need to partake in its treasures, but like my beloved pet Almond stay focused on my Father and provider.  Oh, that I may regain the ground I have lost in this my pilgrimage.

Lord, I beg of you to cleanse my heart and renew a right spirit within me. I want to honor You with all of me that I might find treasure only in You. An eternal treasure I will know the likes of no where else. Bring me to a right understanding and help me to purify myself by obeying the truth so I have a sincere love for others and a focus only on You. Amen.

Lorinda Freeman

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

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

 “Hakuna Matata”

I told my oldest child that I needed a good quote that would inspire me to write. “Hakuna Matata” immediately came flying from her mouth. Yes, you did read that right. We have none of the Lion King movies, but this phrase has stuck with her and so I am now inspired to write about No Worries. (You can view the link to the all amazing song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB5ceAruYrI

Matthew 6:27 asks, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”  The answer? Well, none, of course. Not a single person on the face of this earth can add time to our life because we worry about life. I know this life can be a strand of unfortunate events that bring worry about. Who do you think is behind all that? It is a master plan, you know.Matthew-6-27-web-niv.jpeg

If we go back just two verses to Matthew 6:25 we see some very clear instructions, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Those are some powerful words there. Read them again if you need to, but it is clear. God provides for all our needs, but us worrying about when they will be provided for is not part of the process. Faith and trust that in His perfect timing He will come through. His plan is greater than ours.

Have you ever had a moment where you sat and worried about some life event or what was coming? You were not designed for this worry. You were meant for much more than this. God made you to trust and love and have faith that in every season and reason He will be there to take that worry away.

I am a worrier. I do not like this fact about myself, but I worry. Mostly I worry about my kids, but there are many times that I worry about life. Most recently, my husband and I made the decision to uproot once again and move to a place we have never been, didn’t know anyone, had no jobs, didn’t have a house lined up to live in, and the list goes on. Honestly, the deck was stacked against us, but we both felt that it was what God was asking us to do.  We knew it would be hard.

The minute we made this decision I began to worry about all the things that would need to happen and the money it would take to make this all go smooth. Well, none of it went smooth and that was God’s plan. I had gotten so comfortable in the life I was living that I forgot to completely trust in the God who loves me more than breathe. I trusted in the money that my husband made. I trusted that I could write and speak and help women. I trusted that I could make things happen and take care of all the different situations that came my way. I lost sight of the fact that God wants to take care of me and my family and my world.  He shook it up for us and reminded me that no amount of worry in any of these situations was going to do any good.

So, what did I do? I let go of the things that I could not control and gave every single situation to God. I can’t control how much or when a paycheck rolls in. I can’t control my kids getting hurt feelings or hurt knees. I can control whom I put my trust in and stop worrying about what is or is to come. This process is so not easy, but it is what God has meant for me and for you.

Lord, I need your loving arms wrapped around me. I can’t do this life on my own. I need you. I want you. Lord, take this life and make it yours. Use me to be your hands and feet to the world and not to worry so much about my little bubble of life. I give this life to you and desire to serve you in all I do. Amen.

Tara DeMaris

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries and the wife to David, her high school sweetheart, as well as the mother to their four children. They all make their home in Southeast Idaho. She graduated from Crown College. Tara is passionate about reaching the hearts of women and young ladies. She loves to write and teach God's Word. "Make history with God and He will make history through you."

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries and the wife to David, her high school sweetheart, as well as the mother to their four children. They all make their home in Southeast Idaho. She graduated from Crown College. Tara is passionate about reaching the hearts of women and young ladies. She loves to write and teach God’s Word. “Make history with God and He will make history through you.”

Somebody Else

Ladies, I don’t know about you, but have you ever gotten to a place in your life where you just feel spent and there is so much that needs to be done for the Lord, and you say, “Let somebody else do it?”

Well, God has been dealing with me on this.  You see, I am a pastor’s wife and as such, not only do I work a full time job outside the ministry but I also do the following: Teach young adult Sunday school class, have youth group weekly, head up Women’s ministry, and I’m the assistant treasurer. Saying that, I am 58 years old and lately I have been feeling tired and spent. So in my deepest being I’m shouting, “Let somebody else do it!”

Well, Jesus in His word has called us to serve and never give up. For even Jesus came to serve, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 So if Jesus, our Savior, came to serve, what gives me the right to not serve and do all I can to increase the kingdom?

I was feeling so overwhelmed last night as I headed to youth group. No one seems to desire to help and yet the youth need instruction in God’s word. I wanted so much to give up and tell the students that we were going to take the summer off. When they showed up, there were two new youth, I knew then and there, there was a reason that I must continue on.

somebody elseWhat I feel I must do, is bury “Mr. Somebody Else”. Put him in the grave for he will not step up and do what needs to be done. He is dead and I must bury him; take up my cross and follow Jesus. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

So, the next time you want to give up because you feel like “Mr. Somebody” should be doing the ministry, the outreach, the job that you are doing, have a little funeral service for him in your heart and then never stop, never give up, for God is depending on us.

Lord, give us a heart of service and love. Help us to always think of others first and the things we can do to serve them. Bless the lives we come in contact with and bless the lives of those who serve us. Thank you for being the best example of service. 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)

Irritation or Invitation?

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9) NIVmy-grace-is-sufficient

 

 

 

 

 

Recently I have been irritated about stuff in life. Not anything major just life’s quirks. Sound familiar? If we don’t get irritated enough within the walls of our home, all you have to do is turn on the TV or browse social media for a second or two and there is plenty to be irritated about.

This particular week had been especially taxing as it seemed like my husband and I could not agree, my kids seemed to be quarreling a lot more than usual and other miscellaneous frustrations abounded. The tone in our home was not what I knew it should be and far from what God had designed it to be. I would pray for God to help me stay grounded and not let little things bother me. All it took was one little poke or pester from my children and I was right back in irritation mode again. It seemed like I could not shake this irritation thing!

We were in our vehicle, listening to the radio and I heard a brief 1-minute blurb come on as usual featuring an encouraging word for the day.  Most days if there’s not a song on the radio gets turned down or a CD gets played but this day it continued on. While I didn’t realize I was paying attention I heard these words, “Every irritation is an invitation to go deeper with God.” I can’t tell you who the speaker was, what else he said or the name of the program. I didn’t even think I was listening, but my heart resonated with that statement. I quickly got out my cell phone and jotted the statement down so as to not forget it.

We arrived at our destination, unpacked and got going with the schedule of the next few days, but in the back of my mind I pondered that statement. Could that really be true? Every irritation? When my kids are fighting, my husband has a different view then me, and the world around me seems to just be off in left field? How is this an invitation to draw closer to God? I think I found the answer in the writings of Paul found in 2 Corinthians.  Paul was a great man of God and had done great things. Pauls-thorn-in-the-fleshIn verse 7 we see in order to keep Paul from getting a big head, God had given him a thorn in his flesh. At first he begged God to take it away, but in the end he started to see it as a gift from God and boasted about his weakness. Because in his weakness God got all the glory.

In the moment that my husband and I don’t agree, it truly is an invitation to have me humble myself before God and allow me to see the situation from a different perspective.  When my kids are fighting it’s an invitation to teach them the ways of God and also for me to ask the Lord for patience in dealing with my kids and for creative ways to intervene. When the outside world irritates me, it’s an invitation for me to pray for them and ask the Lord how I can play a part in the redemption plan he’s already set forth.

Put simply irritation is an invitation to put aside my selfishness and control and think of others. Isn’t that how we get irritated anyway? When things don’t go our way. By laying aside our selfishness and asking the Lord to help us see the world through his eyes we are indeed going deeper with him and becoming more Christ like. Jesus put others first even to the point of death. By releasing control to Christ we can say, like Paul, that Christ gets all the glory. It’s counterintuitive, and definitely countercultural but the invitation is to stop making things about “me.” It’s all God’s. The things that irritate me are usually things I am holding onto too tightly or trying to get my way.

Amanda Keller

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

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

Father’s Commitment

A Father’s Commitment: Give your children to be blessed by God, above being blessed by the world.

Father’s Day; the one day a year specifically designed to honor our Dads. Some words that come to mind when describing a Father; protector, hardworking, provider, mentor, role model, guide, and unconditional love.

Unconditional love – affection without any limitations, a love without conditions; complete love. This is the very love that children long to receive from their Father. Unfortunately not every child receives this love. Sadly, there are Dads in this world who are unable to love in a way that children need. Fathers fallen captive to the sinful world around them. Addictions, abuse, abandonment. This is where children are so very fortunate to be able to turn to their heavenly Father to receive the gift of unconditional love and guidance, strength, and protection. When using the term children I am not merely speaking about a youngster. I am speaking to the wide range of young and old.

John 1:12 states, “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.”

My husband grew up without an earthly Father. He had no man in his life to teach him, guide him, or protect him. Statistics show that 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. ( U.S. Dept of Health/Census), 90% of all homeless runaway children are from fatherless homes. 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes. (Center for Disease Control) 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes. (Justice & Behavior Vol. 14, p. 403-26) 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes. -10 times the average.

fathers day_edited-1

Those are just a handful of the odds stacked against my husband. What saved him? What set him apart from falling victim to such harsh statistics? It was none other than his belief in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Father to the fatherless. He is the one who models all of the characteristics He had in mind when creating fatherhood. Many of our earthly Fathers do not live up to the standard, but God promises us that through Him, no child has to grow up without a perfect Father. God will fill in all of the gaps, love those who need to be loved, value those who need to be valued, and protect and cherish those who need to be protected and cherished.

My husband attained so many wonderful attributes of a good father by following  and continually seeking such a perfect example of a father, though not an earthly father but his heavenly Father.

A few months ago our daughter, then finishing her senior year in High School, came to me and told me that she was pregnant. I asked her to leave the room and told her that I would come and speak with her in a few minutes. I needed a moment to take this news in and respond in a way that would glorify God and bless her heart and spirit which was clearly shaken and scared. I called my husband upstairs, shut the door behind him and proceeded to tell him the news. We spoke, we embraced taking in some deep breaths together, and opened the door and walked down the hall to her room where she lay on her bed softly crying. My husband took her hand in his, and there in a circle we gathered all in her pink zebra bedroom, hand in hand while he led us in prayer, praying over her and her unborn child. Reassuring her that everything was going to be okay and that she was not alone and, most importantly, she was loved unconditionally. This was a perfect demonstration of how he was taught not by an earthly father, how to be a father, but by his heavenly Father who he has sought after for most of his life.

Ephesians 3:16, ” I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus  through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” ( NLT)

I pray this scripture today over all the Dads out there.

Lord Jesus, thank you for guiding men like my husband who so desperately needed a Father to teach them the way they should walk, the path in which leads to righteousness. I pray for those men young and old who are fatherless or in need of the greatest example of a father. One who will teach them about mercy and strength, compassion and unconditional love. May they find this example through you Lord, the perfect father, the father to the fatherless, the father to the broken. Thank you Lord for all the fathers in this world who seek after your heart and will. Bless them abundantly. And for those who don’t know you and your goodness, I pray for their souls, I pray for their hearts, may they come to know you Lord. Thank you Lord, we praise you for being a good, good father.

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)

A Giving Tree

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. Psalm 145:13

While backpacking and camping with some college buddies on Isle Royale in Lake Superior this last week, my husband collected many memories and a few photographs to share with our children and I when he returned home. My favorite memory is trapped in his mind visually – there is no photo of it. He has done his best to describe it in great detail for me, and he draws it with his hands on the space around him as he speaks:

“As we were hiking, I found one of the largest birch stumps I have seen in my life. I’ve never seen live birches as big and old as the trees on this island. This tree had to have lived ninety to a hundred years before it was either cut or fell naturally. Three newer trees had grown from this big, old stump. The two larger of these had already snapped off about six feet off the ground. The other has survived and appeared to be thriving from this old tree stump.”

So, in my mind I have a picture, an interpretation, of what he saw. I’ve drawn it out on paper, and he has corrected this picture until I’ve come to a close understanding of what he saw, but now my husband wishes he had thought to stop and take a photograph of it for me. See, I cannot clearly understand it until I see it for myself. Of course, he hadn’t thought I would fixate on this particular part of his adventure on the island.

There is something about the picture he has illustrated for me which paints a picture of Christ and his church. Of Christ’s body (followers) and the life that flows from his death. I also get a sense of family from the picture my husband has described to me. How the generations are born out of those that come before and how they are rooted, entwined, and grow up out of what is left behind.

Posterity will serve him, future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn – for He has done it. Psalm 22:30-31

When I step back from the long moments of talking with my husband and asking questions about what he saw, trying to picture it all in my mind, I see another illustration growing out of this tree. I see a picture of conversations with the lost and seeking. We can share our faith with others, but they will not be able to understand it just through our description of the experience or even our explanation of the Scriptures alone. They will have to see it, experience it for themselves.

giving tree 2

Our testimony is good for sharing what is out there. The Scriptures are the photograph of the who, what, why, when, and how of our LORD; it goes beyond our illustrations, it gives a better understanding. Submitting to Christ and receiving the indwelling of his Holy Spirit is the real thing, however, the full experience that will give complete understanding.

Yes, it would have been nice if my husband had a photograph of the tree for me to see, but he has decided I need to go with him when he returns; so, I can experience it all for myself.

I pray Ephesians 3:14-21:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, 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.

Peace

There’s a scene in Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader where the children, Edmund and Lucy, are in their cousin’s room admiring a painting and it suddenly comes alive. This beautiful framed painting of a ship on an open sea begins to splash and the winds begin to blow, as the ocean fills the room.  Carrying the children, and their cousin, into another land.  

 
 
That scene is very much like a moment in my life just a few years ago.
 
John and I were suddenly pregnant after years of infertility, surprisingly and unexpectedly.  We had great appointments every two weeks and then our doctor was satisfied that we could see him again in four weeks.  We were excited.  It was the end of the first trimester.  We had just announced to our family, friends, church, all of Facebook on Father’s Day that we were expecting.  I felt good.  It was an exciting time.  
 
We went in for our twelve week appointment, making plans for a lunch date afterwards.  As I lay on the exam table for the ultrasound, the room was dark, and our doctor was making small talk.  John was holding my hand.  I could see our baby on the screen.  
 
But something wasn’t right.  The doctor went silent.  The tension filled the room like a toxic gas that took away my breath.  He kept moving over the same area, again and again with the ultrasound wand.  
 
My memory is fuzzy, but I recall him whispering, “Tiffany, I’m sorry.  The baby has no heartbeat.”
 
That’s when it happened…the scene from the movie.  
 
Our beautiful picture began to flood over me, washing away all of my excitement.  The room began to fill with emotional floodwaters, drowning me.  I couldn’t breathe.  I couldn’t see.  I was crying, but I don’t remember what I said.  The doctor was telling us something, but I couldn’t hear.  
 
But deep down inside, there was this indescribable peace.  It was this small, dim light within my heart.  It’s what helped me go through the motions of the next several hours.  It’s where I heard the song “Blessed be your name. . .” playing ever so softly in my in my head.   
 
That dim light of peace was nothing but the presence of God.  I could have easily extinguished that with my own natural reactions to our situation.  
 
The book of Isaiah in Scripture has many verses about peace. Isaiah 26:3 promises that God will “keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.”
 
When we continue to trust in God and keep our minds steadfast, God will maintain that peace in our hearts.  
 
And even when “mountains are shaken, I will not remove my peace from you” Isaiah 54:10.  
 
God is a God of Peace.  Even when our worlds are shaken and the flood waters rise.  When everything comes crashing down around us, his peace will remain in us.  
 
I know that I need that reminder during other trials and I pray that you will find it, also.  
 
God of Peace, I ask that you surround your daughter in peace during her storm.  Whatever trial she is facing, whatever overwhelms her, I pray that she remains steadfast in her mind, and that holds on to the peace that still shines in her heart.  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

My Number

So, here it is…on May 28th of this year I turn thirty-five. Yep! It’s kind of like a milestone. Honestly I didn’t ever think of what it would be like when this day came. You think about when you turn forty and where you will be or what you will be doing, but thirty-five doesn’t really get too much thought.

What will I be doing this day? Well, I actually have to work. I will be with the residents that I am privileged to care for and love and I will be with co-workers that I have made into great friendships as well. I am sure that my kids and husband have something in mind for the morning before work, but I never expect anything. Why? Because I don’t try to make any day about me.

blessed my number

I am sure this is kind of confusing for some of you. I view my life as a blessing. I was blessed to be born to my mother and father and God has given me some very specific responsibilities throughout my life. No day is just about me. I share this day with blessings that God has sent my way. It’s usually always a holiday weekend and I get to remember all the men and women who went before me as they served our country. It is the time of year that summer is beginning for so many and I get to share that joy with my children as they get to wind down and have more relaxed time (but we still have a schedule). I get to share this very week with my grandmother in celebrating her birthday. She just so happens to be exactly 50 years older than me. I could never forget her birthday if I tried!

This day brings me joy. I am never sad that I turn another year older (except for that one year). I have so many things to be grateful for that I have no reason to be sad or upset. My life is blessed. I am loved and cherished by so many. I get to wake up to a beautiful day and spend time doing things that I adore to do…on the farm and otherwise (I’ll be sharing a day on the farm with you soon).

Ladies, life is short. Life is precious. I have had thirty-five amazing years filled with wonder, happiness, sadness, hope, fear, praise, prayer, and so much more. I am excited to see where God will lead me in this year of thirty-five. I am thrilled to share this year with you as I journal thoughts, prayers, praises, fears, hopes, and dreams with you. I am also ready and waiting to hear how God is working in your lives.

So, today I want to share a verse with you that has forever changed my life. It’s John 1:4 and says this, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” This has spoken to me because I want to be a light to all mankind (okay, so womankind mostly). I want my life to mean something and that can only be if I am the kind of person that is real, honest, humble and kind. I want to have the kind of light in me that Christ had in him and that is my lifelong goal.

When your birthday comes around again, don’t get upset that you have added another number to your life, but view your life from another’s eyes. You have so much to be happy about and for. You are a blessed woman and God has still got great plans for you no matter what number you are. May 28th says that I am now the number 35! I am more than okay with that and excited to share this year’s number with you and those around me. It’s going to be an amazing number!

Lord, my age is what you have blessed me with. I get to share it with so many and I am blessed. Help me to be a brighter light to all this year and remind me of the blessings you have given when I start to frown about this life. I love this life you have given me. Thank you for giving me life to live with others. Amen.

Tara DeMaris

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries and the wife to David, her high school sweetheart, as well as the mother to their four children. They all make their home in Southeast Idaho. She graduated from Crown College. Tara is passionate about reaching the hearts of women and young ladies. She loves to write and teach God's Word. "Make history with God and He will make history through you."

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries and the wife to David, her high school sweetheart, as well as the mother to their four children. They all make their home in Southeast Idaho. She graduated from Crown College. Tara is passionate about reaching the hearts of women and young ladies. She loves to write and teach God’s Word. “Make history with God and He will make history through you.”

Not Just a Story

not just a storyLife is an interesting journey.  Too often, I’ve looked at it as isolated events.  Sometimes these events are short, easy, and great.  Sometimes they are long, drawn out, and not so fun.  I’ve come to realize that I’m not going from event to event, with lulls in between.  We’re each on a journey, we just may not be on the same leg of it at the same time.

For me, my journey has taken me through multiple moves (I stopped telling people the number, because it seems so high!), situations that have caused joy, pain, and ultimately growth, and allowed me to encounter numerous people.  Pain, hurt, joy, excitement—they are a part of everyone’s journey.  Along the way through this journey, I’ve often pondered why certain things happen or how I’m supposed to make it through an extremely difficult part.

Each leg of my journey included prayer.  Sometimes prayer came before it began, often it came in the middle as I’m crying out to God to figure the mess out for me!  It’s through some of those trials that I came to know and remember that when Jesus left this earth, He promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide us.  There are multiple accounts throughout the Bible where we see guidance through the Holy Spirit.  They make for great stories, until you realize, they aren’t just stories!  They are truths and reminders, clues if you will, that this is for us, NOW.

As I’ve studied the book of Acts and the accounts of Paul’s journeys, I’ve seen how WILD a journey can be.  Paul was a busy man!  He traveled multiple places, he preached, he debated, he nearly escaped beatings and those pursuing him for death, he was beaten, he was jailed, yet he continued on. Some time after his conversion, he said,

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God I Corinthians 2:1-5.

Paul didn’t follow his journey on his own, he was led by the Holy Spirit.  If you sit and read through his journeys, you will see times where the Holy Spirit forbid him to go places.  Sometimes he was led to go other places through a dream.  There were times where he was to quietly sneak out of the city to avoid capture, yet other times where he was jailed and used to bring others to Christ.  There are multiple times where you see that the power of the Holy Spirit spoke through him BOLDLY, and lives were changed.  This life he led, the journey he walked, was led by the Spirit.  He was fully aware that he it was not his speech, but the power of the Spirit speaking through him.

It’s so easy to think of Pauls’ journey as just a story.  It’s so easy to forget this power and its availability to us.  It doesn’t mean that our journey will be like Paul’s or that we will be called to preach boldly to masses of people.  It does mean that we will be guided, comforted, given wisdom, and walk each of our personal journeys being led by the Holy Spirit.  I’m not perfect, near perfect, or even really good and being a follower.  I mess up constantly!  However, when I quiet myself, let go of my control, and ask for and allow the Holy Spirit to lead, my tongue is tamer, my attitude is calmer, my decisions are easier, and I don’t feel so alone as I travel through life.

Right now, I’m at a questioning phase.  There are so many “things” going on, I can’t even categorize them.  There are decisions to be made, tasks to be done, children’s habits to refine, so much that is causing me to ask questions from “How do I do it?” to “How would Jesus have handled this situation?  What should I do?”  I’m so quick to look around and see who are my friends that I could share this with.  Who will listen?  Who will have advice?  Then I remember that the story of Paul and his journeys are not just a story.  They are a reminder, a clue to me that I’m not meant to walk this journey alone.  Yes, I have my husband and maybe a few friends that I could trust to talk with about certain parts.  More than that, I have the Holy Spirit to ask all my questions of, to lead me, guide me, and give me wisdom about what to do.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to reflect on your own journey.  Where are you at right now?  Is your journey at a happy, life is going great point?  I hope so!  If it is, rejoice in that and use this calm time, to ask the Spirit to guide you.  Is it at a questioning point? A difficult point? A “I don’t know how much longer I can take this” point?  If so, use this calm time, to ask the Spirit to guide you.  Wherever you are at on your journey, it’s the perfect time to invite the Holy Spirit to be a part, to guide you, and to teach you to listen.  No one wants to journey alone!

Deuteronomy 31:6 (in the Old Testament) and Hebrews 13:5-6 (in the New Testament) remind us that God will never leave us nor forsake us.  Hold on to those reminders and promises, allow yourself to be led by the Holy Spirit, and you may find that your journey is a little easier to handle.

Deuteronomy 31: 6, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Hebrews 13: 5-6, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

Dear God, thank you for your promises.  Thank you for your Spirit.  Thank you that you desire a relationship with us and that you’ve given us your Holy Spirit to guide us.  Help us learn to hear you as you guide us.  Help us to allow you to guide us.  Thank you for loving us!  Amen.

Nikki Rasmussen

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

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

 

 

The Power of Words

“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” (Proverbs 18:21) The Message

I’ve been pondering a lot lately on the power of my words. One day I was helping my son with his schoolwork; listening to him lament on how much this assignment will stink and how awful he was going to do on it. (This is before he even started it.) I responded by telling him that what he was saying was already influencing how his assignment was going to turn out and by thinking and saying those things he was setting himself up for the failure of the assignment. Great parenting advice right? You’ve probably had some similar conversation with your child. Attitude is 90% of the battle, you can do this, etc. Good pep talk stuff right? However later that night the Lord revealed to me that in some areas of life we, as adults, do the same thing that I had just told my son not to do. power of words

 

Do any of these ring true for you? A newborn, you must be so tired! Oh no, the terrible twos! You have a teenager; hang on it’s going to get rough! A tooth, there goes your sleep! We all have heard or said things like this. They seem innocent enough and sometimes oh so true. But, in the moment I was having with the Lord that night, I began to realize that sometimes it might not be so innocent.

My son just turned 13 and while I am not naïve enough to think that there won’t be bumps and bruises along the way, right now he’s the same boy I loved before. He even asked me the other day, “Mom what is the big deal about this 13 thing? I feel the same today as I did yesterday.” I didn’t really have a great answer. I didn’t want to project onto him all the pitfalls that the, “Oh you have a teenager now,” statement includes. I just brushed it off and told him not to worry about it. But I couldn’t shake the question.

The Lord answered me by reminding me of the school conversation with my son. Just as my son was going into an unknown assignment with an already failing attitude and low expectations, sometimes we as parents do too. Maybe my son’s teenage years will be rough, there probably will be tears and frustrations, but is already worrying about them and projecting those fears onto him going to help? Maybe, just maybe, God wants us to just worry about today and he’ll give us the strength to get through the tough times tomorrow. I don’t know what my kids’ teenage years will bring, but what if it’s joy in them becoming all that God has for them and enjoying each step, however messy, instead of going in with a failing attitude.

There is power in the words that we say. There is power in the attitude we have. If you’re a parent, you’ve had that talk with your kid. Now God wants you to know it’s still true for you. Whatever stage you are in, be careful not to get caught up in the trap of generalizations and unnecessary worry. Will you miss a lot of sleep with that newborn? Possibly, but it may be the greatest time of bonding you have with your child. Maybe you’ll be the fortunate one that has a baby who is a good sleeper. Will teething be a terrible stage for you? Maybe, but maybe your child will breeze right through it. Will you have a rebellious teenager? Maybe, but maybe you’ll have a young man or woman you’re raising up to be a mighty warrior for Christ. Only God knows who and what your child will become. Don’t jump to conclusions based on statistics. The last thing we want to do is have our child become the norm because it was expected for them to. In each season of life remember that God is the guide and he’ll get you and your child through. Trust is better than worry!

God, I pray that you will help us, as parents, to trust in you and not get caught up in what culture tells us about our child. Only you know their innermost being. Thank you for the privilege of parenting the next generations of warriors for you.

Amanda Keller

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

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