Change

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“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12: 2-3

Change.  Typically, this is a word I like.  Actually, as an adrenaline junkie, I love this word.  But in this season of my life I’m not really very fond of change.  I’ve been through a lot of change in my life, sometimes its change I cannot control, but often I have some measure of control, even if that control is just my attitude.  I have lots of practice with change, and in hindsight I see how God worked despite my lack of faith and attempts to affect the change in my own way.  I think part of this less-than-enthusiastic embracing of change is weariness.  I’m straight out tired, and weary of feeling weary.

Of course I see the positives in change.  I understand the need for these changes.  But it doesn’t make me like the change any more.  I also feel a little frustrated with myself…I thought I had prepared for these changes.  I know I will accept the changes, I don’t have a choice, but right at this moment I’m going to lean into my dislike of change and just cry.

One of my sons has recently graduated from college and will be moving across the country to begin his life as an adult.  Another son recently enlisted in the military and will start his new career at the end of August.  It’s all good.  It’s all planned.  It’s positive change.  It’s change that should be because this is the course God set in motion with his plan and his design of human beings.  But I don’t like it one bit.

Yet, I have learned that even the changes I don’t like are necessary.  Positive and negative changes are all part of God’s plan to help me grow; and they help those who are part of my life grow if I allow it.  I can’t control my adult-children, and I shouldn’t.  The more I try to control the change, the less I allow God to weave their experiences and their hearts to be more dependent on Him.  The One who is sovereign, the One who never changes.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Isn’t it just like God?  He creates a child in our womb, makes that child completely dependent on us, and in turn we are completely dependent on Him.  Then he slowly but surely changes that child into an adult and allows the friction of adolescence to divide us and ultimately grow that child into an independent human being that must be completely dependent on God alone.

I am not the author of my children’s lives.  I am only a caretaker for a short period of time.  The changes I have experienced in my role as a Mom are designed to make this step of change a little easier, but I’m sure God, since He also created me, understands my hesitation to give up control, to release, to take joy in the change.

The more I am dependent on Him, the more I can lean into and embrace the change and take joy in knowing that the cycle continues, the more I can anticipate the exciting changes that God will be orchestrating in my adult-children’s lives, just as He planned it.  I will continue to be there for them as a support and encourager.  I will pray for them and with them in their own conflict with change.  But with the help of the Holy Spirit I will not control them because they aren’t really mine.  I gave them to Him long ago because He is their Heavenly Father and loves them more perfectly than I ever could.

Father, thank you that I can entrust the people that I love the most to You.  Thank you for this heart that breaks knowing that they will struggle and hurt and make poor choices.  Because ultimately the only thing that matters is that they choose You.  I pray that You will use the changes in all of our lives to draw us closer and more dependent on You.  Amen.

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!”

Love Matters

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

1 cor 13My heart has been broken over the last couple weeks as I, like many of you, spent time staring at my screen in disbelief. Innocent lives taken. Husbands, sons, daughters, mothers saying final goodbyes, their lives forever changed. As I tried to wrap my brain around what was happening I began to see other things that broke my heart as well. Trusted spiritual leaders, friends and neighbors taking stances and picking sides as we are all fed incomplete facts. Things said and posted that cannot be taken back. Division among good people, people I admire and respect. My heart weeps over the brokenness surrounding me. I began to pray and ask the Lord what can we do? How can we move forward? Over and over I heard, the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13 ran through my head. We love to think of this chapter for weddings and rejoice when it’s a happy love, but Scripture matters even when it’s hard.

Christian love is not a feeling; it’s a choice. We can choose to be concerned with people’s well-being and treat them with respect, whether we feel affection towards them or agree with them. In John 13:35 Jesus tells us “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” As disciples of Christ we are either drawing people towards or away from Christ. The things we say, do, and post are either pointing people toward him or pushing them farther away.

The Message Bible states Matthew 5:43-47 like this:

You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

This kind of loving is hard to do. That’s why people notice when you do it. They know you must be empowered by a supernatural source. The greatest is love. If you look through the list in 1 Corinthians 13 of good things people did or could do, none of those things mattered if they didn’t have love. My pastor recently said in his sermon, “If you’re right with the wrong heart, you’re still wrong.”

Lines are being drawn. Chaos ensues. Don’t take the bait. While Satan would love to pit us against each other remember love is the key. We cannot grow spiritually while we hate others. In the end three things will last forever, but the greatest of these is love.

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

 

Desperate for Time

Lately I have felt that I am fresh out of time for anything. I want so desperately to be able to do it all because I love to do everything. I love to be part of the farm and take care of all the animals and build the pens and weed the garden. I love to go to all the fun church family events and watch the kids bond over hotdogs and pools. I love to go the sports and watch the teams congratulate each other even in a loss. I love it all, but I don’t have the time for it all.

I feel so desperate for more time. I also feel desperate for more of my Jesus because in all this loss of time I have lost the time that I would spend in His presence reading and studying the Word, praying, and having those important conversations.

I used to have an allotted time each day that I would have quiet, uninterrupted time being able to study and pray, read and write. Now I have no time. I get up at 5 in the morning to get ready for work and head out thirty minutes later. I work all day and sometimes more than I am supposed to. Then I come home and I am tired, really tired, but I then do what chores need to be done at home with my family until it’s time to make and eat dinner. I am stretched just keeping up with that, but I try to still find time to write, edit, and publish for Titus II Woman and also be active in our home church.

I don’t tell you all this as a pity party. I feel so blessed to be able to provide for my family and have the opportunity to help with the quality of life for the people I work with and for. God has shown me kindness in this transition of life, but I still want Him more than all this and I often feel empty, weak, and lonely.

Here is what I learned, as I just took some time for me today, from Psalm 91 (I encourage you to read the whole chapter):pslm 91

  • I am not empty, because God is my drink that I can fill myself with every day.

I am not weak, because God is my strength and lives within me.

  1. I am not alone, because God is always with me.
  2. God is my dwelling place.

God is always there for me when I choose to draw close to him. I have security in Him. His is my dwelling place and there I have no worries.

Can I encourage you today to make Him your dwelling place? Spend those few moments you do have in His presence because even if it’s just one or two minutes He can fill you to a place of fullness that you never thought you would have again. My heart is full of His goodness and grace.

Lord, draw me close to you. I pray that I won’t feelings of emptiness, weakness, or loneliness drag me down into the pit of insecurity. Let those feelings trigger me to bring them to you and trade them for assurance. I want my drawing close to you to be a permanent dwelling place where I know I can be filled with strength, grace, and security. I want your love to shine through me. And I want your peace to be the path I walk. Your truth to be  my wisdom when I talk. Amen.

Tara DeMaris

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as the wife to David and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in Southeast Idaho. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women of all ages and customs. She loves to write and teach God's Word. Favorite Quote - "Make history with God and He will make history through you."

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as the wife to David and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in Southeast Idaho. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women of all ages and customs. She loves to write and teach God’s Word. Favorite Quote – “Make history with God and He will make history through you.”

Fireflies Dance

Today was hot and stifling to say the least. I waited for the sun to go down and the south wind to pick up before setting out on an evening walk with the dogs. As a wife, mother of 4, and church secretary I not only coveted the quiet time, but my heart was set on this appointment with God and finding rest.

The night sky was clear and displayed a multitude of stars, however, another light source caught my attention. Not because these creatures hadn’t been there each summer prior, but because I had never taken the time to pause and notice them before. FIREFLIES! Thousands of them randomly darting through the heavy night air. Flitting whimsically against the dark foliage and heavy canopy of trees. Even the dogs were being beckoned to play along with them. My two buddies tugged energetically at their leashes eager to slip away by chance I wasn’t paying attention (again.)firefly dance

Watching the creativity of God play out, I thought to myself “What a spectacular yet simple gift!!!. Why hadn’t I appreciated this before now?” I’m 40 years old and here I am feeling the thrill of FIREFLIES!? I began to praise God for His creation thinking on Revelation 4:11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”  This intriguing night display caused me to investigate the reason behind the calculated flashing on their part. In the nutshell of my limited research it appears that their intermittent illuminations are used for communication necessary to their existence. From alluring a mate to warning a predator and many things in between.  My first memories of summer date back to 1979 and I’d never questioned the FIREFLY?

Working through a sense of chagrin I vowed tonight to begin taking pauses daily to notice and praise God for his work of creation around me. I soaked in the wonderment of this occasion and walked even longer than planned, losing track of time, caught up in the beauty of my God.

Sister, when is the last time you have had a moment like this? I think we don’t have enough of them in our lives, but today is a new beginning for us.firefly dance 2

I finally turned onto the old brick street that lead to my home. I had to watch my steps carefully on this stretch because the way is quite uneven. Every now and then an antique brick has loosened and protrudes, taking my gait by surprise. Thankful for Street lamps lighting my path, I thought about how God’s Word is a faithful lamp unto our feet. Then with a still small voice I began in childlike manner singing, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…” From fireflies to the provision of well-planned street lamps the theme of LIGHT in a DARK world inspired me to take a deeper reflection tonight.

As the firefly flits and flutters communicating to the world around it, it too is my desire to be a light of Christ in the world around me; communicating the great joy and need of knowing personally the Creator of all things. God has purposed my life to shine brightly in a dark world, to communicate the wonder of His glory and broadcast the honor due Him; to share the good news of Jesus Christ with anyone willing for just a moment to pause and take heed. Led by His Spirit and enabled by His power, I am a light of Christ! And so are you!

How has God orchestrated things in your life to be a Light for His glory?  My charge to you today, Sister in Christ, is twofold…take time to pause and notice Him and be in awe and second is, “Let you light shine in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Lord, I want to be a light to the world. Give me words. Give me love. Give me peace. In the days that we live in, I want to glorify You in all I do and say. So, Lord, make me like the fireflies so that I can communicate with all around me of your glorious grace. Amen.

Cindy Nyberg

Cindy comes into Titus II Woman Ministry with a gift of writing and speaking. Her passion to share the goodness of Jesus Christ spills from the page and into your heart. Cindy is known to light up the room with the joy of Jesus and contagious laughter! Admittedly she says her one and only hobby is enjoying great conversation with friends over a good cup of coffee. She volunteers her time with multiple ministries within her home church. She is the wife to Tracy and mom to four amazing kids. Together, Cindy and her family make their home in Nebraska. “Only one life ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last”-Charles Studd.

Cindy comes into Titus II Woman Ministry with a gift of writing and speaking. Her passion to share the goodness of Jesus Christ spills from the page and into your heart. Cindy is known to light up the room with the joy of Jesus and contagious laughter! Admittedly she says her one and only hobby is enjoying great conversation with friends over a good cup of coffee. She volunteers her time with multiple ministries within her home church. She is the wife to Tracy and mom to four amazing kids. Together, Cindy and her family make their home in Nebraska. “Only one life ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last”-Charles Studd.

 

When God Doesn’t Do Things My Way

when god“Nikki, do you trust me?”  I heard God ask me this at 3am.  That’s when I’m up and able to hear Him, because that’s when it’s quiet.  He’s so patient to wait as I finish putting the kids to bed, talk to my husband, watch my shows, check Facebook, read for my class, prepare for school, and anything else I find to keep myself busy.

I knew immediately what He was referring to with that question.  I’m mad.  I’m mad at specific people, their injustice toward me, and their words towards my husband.  I’m mad, and He was asking if I trusted Him to take care of it.  This could have been one of those eye opening, emotional, “Speak to me, Lord,” moments.  Instead, we laughed.  Yes, that’s the type of relationship we have.  He gets me!  I smiled big and answered, “Yes, God, I trust you, but I know you won’t take care of it my way.”  (You know, the way where “God will take revenge for you” means the other people pay for my pain and life is roses for me!)

I proceeded to give Him a big example where we were in a situation, completely lied to, even though we had come cross-country to serve the person.  We were destroyed by the situation.  It seemed like that person didn’t bat an eye or have any repercussions for what happened.  They kept their great job, we chose to leave, and things I thought should have happened didn’t.  He reminded me that through our obedience to be part of that situation, a marriage, a family was saved.  Their lives and their course changed.  “Yes, I remember, “ I tell Him.  “But they didn’t feel our pain, they still have good things coming to them.”

“Do you know?  Do you know my conversations, their hurt, their wrestling with the situation?”  He asks of me.

I think, “Nope, I don’t.  I just know I didn’t get to see them pay.”  WHOA!  WHAT?  Jonah much?  Remember Him?  He ran (I didn’t).  He obeyed, and God used Him (we did that).  Then he sat, waited, and got mad that God didn’t get revenge the way he saw fit.  I don’t know what happened to Jonah after that.  I don’t know what the people of Nineveh felt or the ache they went through as they realized their sin. However, I know God takes care of things His ways, not mine.  Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

There are so many clichés of forgiveness.  “Forgiveness frees you, not the one who hurt you.”  “Forgive as you’ve been forgiven.”  There’s many more, but clichés bother me, so I’m assuming you are thinking of a few on your own.  J  The fact is, none of those clichés change the way I feel now.  Can you tell yet that I’m stubborn?

This is my daughter.  She’s as stubborn as me.  It takes us a bit to get things through our way, to His way.  This is her “You getting tough with me?” face when her brothers aren’t quite up to par with what she thinks should be happening.  The ones on the right are just so you know she is still sweet at heart!

 nikki1 nikki2 nikki3

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day (because, yes, it takes me that long), He reminds me of my mama.  He reminds me how my biological guy beat her.  He reminds me how he beat my brother and set into motion years and years of pain that would take decades for multiple people to heal from.  He reminds me how I used to pray for him and that some day, some how, he would come to know Christ.  He reminds me of the night that I prayed and cried and wouldn’t quit until God gave me assurance that it would happen.  Then he again reminds me of my mama.

He reminds me how I called her, because I didn’t have anyone else that would understand.  I didn’t expect her to be excited, I just needed to say it to someone who understood.  He reminds me how the phone went silent; how after a minute or so she said, “I know.”

She knew?!  How could should know?  When I questioned her on it, she said, “Part of forgiving someone is praying for them.  It’s how I could come to the point of forgiveness.  God told me the same thing.”

My mama is my hero for multiple different reasons.  But, that conversation is one of the things that goes through my heart and head and reminds me of just how amazing she is.

Is this cliché? Is this a case of, “If she can forgive him, I should be able to forgive in this comparatively minute situation?” For me, it’s not cliché.  It’s how He reminds me that there is more to me than hurt.  There is more to me than just justice driven emotion.  No matter the hurt, His ways are higher.  And sometimes, that higher means me on the higher road.  It means me not sulking in my anger.  It means me admitting my pain and my inability to just make it go away.  It means me acknowledging that His ways are higher, better, and healthier for me.  It doesn’t mean it’s easy.  But, it does mean that I don’t have to wait around for justice.  I can trust that however God takes care of it, whatever I do see or don’t see, He’s got it.  Also, He’s got me.  Not once has He nor will He let me go.  That doesn’t mean things will always go my way or that everything will be easy, but it does mean that I can trust that His way will get me through.

Whether you are reading this thinking of your pain, someone you are frustrated with, or an area you need to forgive in, or reading this thinking, “This stubborn girl has issues!” remember that His ways are higher.   In all of your situations, His ways are higher, which means that even if you don’t see how it is all working out, He’s got it in control.

Dear God, thank you for who you are.  Thank you for the way you speak to me.  More than that thank you for your desire for communication and relationship with each of us.  Thank you that you’ve got things under control and that we can trust you in all situations.  I pray that you give guidance and favor to every person reading this.  I pray that you remind them of your love, care, forgiveness, and peace.  I pray that they know they can trust you.  Please speak to them in a way they can hear you and understand and know that you are in control.  Thank you for all you do for us and the way you love 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

When Marriage is Hard

I recently read a blog from a young, well-intentioned newlywed (ten months married) regarding why marriage isn’t hard. She listed a number of reasons to support her theory, but somehow it didn’t sit right with me.

It felt like a slap in the face to those who have endured hardships in their marriage. Since marriage is the nucleus of the family unit, it bears much of the weight of life’s hefty problems. God has high expectations for both the husband and the wife that he outlines in Scripture. We live in a sinful, fallen world and bad things happen.
1 Corinthians 7:28 states, “those who marry will face many troubles in this life.”  After fourteen years of marriage, my wonderful, gracious, Godly husband, John, and I have endured our share of hardships. I won’t pretend to have all the answers, nor is my experience all-inclusive. Every marriage is unique and will face some level of difficulty. 
Because Marriage is Hard. Even for Christians.
Marriage is hard because we are unifying two unique, diverse individuals with distinct backgrounds and upbringings. But it is not impossible. God has outlined the proper way to handle this: Ephesians 5, verses 21-33 is our guideline on how to make this happen. God is not surprised by the delicate nature that melding two lives into one is. So he gave us instructions: Submit to one another, wives submit to your husbands and respect him as the head of your home, and husbands love your wives as Christ loves the church. Leaving each other’s own parents and bonding with your spouse.
As we obediently yield ourselves to God and begin to follow his design for marital unity, we will find harmony. This journey isn’t without rough patches and struggles, but we can’t abandon the route because of a few potholes.
Marriage is also hard because bad things happen! We live in a world where tragedy strikes people you know every day. It can shake the core of your home. Aside from the tragedies, there are also the changes (even happy ones) that come as we grow and age. Life happens.  In our marriage we have faced (and endured) two major moves across state lines, job losses, infertility,  financial strain, car accidents, vehicle breakdown, unexpected expenses, struggles in ministry,  thirteen foster placements, two adoptions, three unexpected and miraculous pregnancies, a miscarriage, the purchase of a fixer-upper, and countless day-to-day demands. As we focus our attention on God, we stand on his Word for our marriage: John 16:33 states, “I have told you these things so you will have peace. In this world you will have troubles, but take heart! I have overcome the world!” 
My husband and I love each other, and that newlywed, googly-eyed fairytale love ebbs and flows. It’s not all storybook, but we make a decision to dig in our heels and endure whatever this life swings our way. We are on the same team, we are fighting the same fight. We are striving for the same goal: a lifetime together. when marraige is hard 1
Marriage is hard. But it’s not impossible. I encourage each of you today to remember that when your marriage is strained God has already overcome whatever you’re facing! He’s on your team too!
God, you are so faithful to us; never leaving us, even when things are rough. As my friends read this blog, perhaps their marriage has tension today, I pray that they remember that you are in this with them. Encourage them to rekindle their love for their spouse and their love for you!
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

What Are You Letting In?

Hello ladies! I am overwhelmed by God’s goodness and faithfulness, and I hope you are feeling the familiarity of His goodness as well.

I am so amazed, as I read through countless blog articles from a variety of authors, how God speaks through the events of “everyday life.” Washing the dishes, watching a hummingbird, looking for a dog, and so many more moments that God does not waste to reveal more of Himself and the spirit of Truth, which we so need to be in touch with today!! In a world of so many facades and fakes, we need to have the “belt of truth” so firmly about us.
Well my sharing today is no different, it comes from everyday life that God used to show me truth.
It came about  earlier this year.  My husband and I began to notice that we had a few ants here and there crawling on the window pane by our kitchen sink. No big deal, just squish them and move on. A month later, more ants, until finally this past week, it’s to the point where we have to do something. We were starting to feel invaded!
So we buy some ant traps and I am reading and hearing from my husband about how they work. Many, if not most of you are probably already familiar with how they work. But just in case, let me tell you.
You place the trap, which is a contraption where the ants can go in and get some food from and then they take it back to their ant nest. Well the “food” is poison, and you get enough poison being brought home, and boom, you have just taken out the whole nest. Success in a box for $4.00!
Here’s the “boom” moment that God brought to me in this “everyday” moment: Whatever influences (good or bad, healthy or unhealthy) we feed on we bring into our homes, into our family. And they WILL have an effect. If I live by the principle of honesty, it will have an effect on my home. If I allow or my kids see me lying to other people, that will influence them. Sometimes we think that if it’s something we do or live out in private, it cannot have an effect. Not true. Read Joshua, chapter 7, about a man name Achan, and all that his sin cost his family. His whole family was killed for his hidden sin. What we do in private, will find it’s way to the light, somehow.
So this revelation caused me to do some internal inventory of my heart, my mind, and my actions. Do I embrace attitudes or speak words that are lethal for my children’s or my husband’s heart? Do I allow “poison” into my home through the t.v. or the computer? Tough questions that HAVE TO have honest answers to get healthy homes and hearts and minds.secret sin
David said to God, and I love the unhindered truth, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23, 24).
What a beautiful confession, that I need help with my own heart and my mind, and only God can do that. And what a loving God He is. As we let him in, he comes in and helps us to rid the “poison” and lies that threaten our hearts, our homes, and our family. So I choose to let him into my “nest” and clean out my heart and my home!
God, thank you that you are so desiring to pursue me with truth and love in such a fake world. God, I ask that you would search me and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and clean it out. Lead me and my family in your way. Anything that is influencing me and poisoning my home, clean and purify. I trust you.  Amen.
Karissa Nelson
Karissa has one of the most beautiful voices you will ever hear, but on top of that talent and gift God has given her, she is a mother to three beautiful children and a helpmate to her husband, Shane.  Together they raise their family and minister in Milton-Freewater, Oregon where Karissa grew up.  Her passion for worship and family surround her daily.  Isaiah 30:15, "This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'Is repentance and rest in your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength'" (NIV).

Karissa has one of the most beautiful voices you will ever hear, but on top of that talent and gift God has given her, she is a mother to three beautiful children and a helpmate to her husband, Shane. Together they raise their family and minister in Milton-Freewater, Oregon where Karissa grew up. Her passion for worship and family surround her daily. Isaiah 30:15, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘Is repentance and rest in your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength'” (NIV).

We Are the Warriors

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

I’ve been watching a little television lately – American Ninja Warrior and Spartan. I wanted to watch them, because they appeared to be healthy shows about challenging strength and health that are high in action and low in game playing drama. Most of the time, I have found this to be true. I like these shows, because the contestants inspire me with their personal stories, their courage to train and compete, their strength, their endurance, and their belief in what they are competing for. Each competitor seems to be overcoming something – age, gender discrimination, height, weight, disease, self esteem, disability, addiction, societal prejudices, poverty, family tragedy, even the inability to sit still as a child. Each one has someone special cheering them on whether it is their team mates, family, friend, or coach. I enjoy human interest stories; so, I am drawn into each contestant and their team, and I am rooting for them to succeed. Their success isn’t really about winning the prize, but showing up to compete in the first place and giving it their best effort. I am on the edge of my seat a lot, cheering them on and encouraging them to push themselves as if the program were not prerecorded and my voice can cut through the long distance between myself and the person on the screen to make a difference in their event, and I get emotional with them after each contestant completes their charge through the course.

Of course I know that my voice doesn’t increase their drive to accomplish more than they thought they could. I know that the woman hanging by her fingertips looking for a little more strength and energy to reach for that next handhold and move on from this challenge to the final challenge won’t be emboldened to make the effort by my couch potato chants. This doesn’t stop me from voicing my excitement and inspired want for them to succeed though. I love encouraging people. I love crying with them when they cry and celebrating with them when they celebrate. In fact, at my church the joke is that my spiritual gifts are hugging and crying. I am very comfortable and fluent in both and you will often see me doing both with individuals I am visiting with; they go well with something else I love to do – pray.

There are so many obstacles in life: sin, addiction, depression, pain, disease, war, murder…I can hear you all adding your personal list of obstacles here. We are all going to go through something that challenges the wits out of us; that brings us to a halt emotionally, sometimes physically, and maybe it’ll even give us the spiritual hiccups. God’s glory, our success, the beauty of life comes from our stamina and drive to dig in and keep pushing through it; it is in the process of leaning into God and allowing Him to take us through it. “He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold,” Job 23:10. This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. I don’t want to just live in Jesus, I want to be alive in Jesus. This means I am going to go through much, and it isn’t always going to be fun. Sometimes it looks scary, but I am finding out that each obstacle I complete is another gift, a refining moment, I have to share with someone coming after me to encourage them in their own obstacle course pilgrimage. I am a warrior, you are a warrior. We are strong because of Him. He has gone before each one of us and completed the course perfectly; so, I want to be able to say as in Job 23:11-12 that, “My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept his way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.”

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LORD, You are the mighty I AM, and You are my all in all. What is my worth and purpose? This is the true question You planted in our hearts while we were yet in our mother’s womb. You planted a need that only You can fill, and we are each in different stages of this pilgrimage, running obstacles for our refining and growth. I thank you for your saving mercy and grace and your holy presence. There are so many obstacles to face here on this earth, I pray we take your path today and each and every day as we face these obstacles as the warriors we are. I long to see your face and hear your voice at the end say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I ask you to fortify us with your strength and balance. Give us the will and the stamina to complete these obstacles with courage and confidence. It is in the mighty name of Jesus I pray this. 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.

Who Has Time for Rest?

who has time for restJesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. (Mark 6:31)

Rest. Four simple letters, but some of the most difficult to conquer. At the creation of the earth, we see rest. Genesis tells us that God rested from all his work.  Rest is an underlying theme in scripture. There are hundreds of references to rest.  So important was rest to God that he put it in the Ten Commandments.  Six days we have to work, the seventh is for rest. God commanded the Israelites to give their land rest. He promises us rest for our souls. So what is our problem with rest?

Rest is a valuable weapon given to us by God, so it would only make sense that the enemy makes it so hard for us to follow through with it. I recently read this “Rest is a weapon given to us by God. The enemy hates it because he wants you stressed and occupied.” I think there is so much truth in that statement.  When we can’t find the time to rest we get stressed. When we get stressed we tend to react and overreact in ways we maybe wouldn’t have given a good night’s sleep or a nice nap. I have heard it said that “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is just go take a nap.”

When we work ourselves ragged, even doing good things, we are no good to anyone. When we operate out of exhaustion we are operating the opposite way of what God designed for us. If the God who created heaven and earth spoke galaxies into existence and can part the seas took a day to rest from his work, why do we think we don’t need to?

We are so driven, so overstimulated, so pressured and pressed to be so much that resting seems like a waste of time. Can I tell you something? Not resting is disobedience. Period. It’s a commandment.  It’s time to put away the phones, computers, television, and devices and take a good old fashioned nap. God designed our bodies to restore themselves in such an intricate way that it amazes me. I can’t even begin to understand it all. I do know, however, that in order for his perfect plan to work we have to choose obedience. We have to rest.

I don’t know where you fall in this category of rest, but I know sometimes it’s a hard learning curve for me and my family. It’s so easy to become doers of good things that we forget the best things. The best things are what God tells us in the Bible. After reading how much emphasis God puts on rest, I think I need to make it a priority in my life as well.

In Mark we see that Jesus himself calls his disciples to get away from it all and rest. They didn’t even have time to eat. There was constant coming and going. Sound familiar? Many times we just grab and go. Maybe Jesus is calling us to do the same. Maybe he’s gently whispering to you, let’s take a break and get a little rest. Father, I pray that you would help us to rest. Teach us to let go of things and take time to restore our bodies and souls. May you gently call us out of our coming and going to a place of rest.  Amen.

Amanda Keller

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

Leaving A Legacy

What does your life say about you? How are you living that would leave the kind of legacy that would make you proud?

legacynowI want to be remembered as a woman who loved people with all of her heart and never stopped trying to make life better for everyone she knew (and didn’t know). I want to know that I have done everything I can to teach others what it means to love truly and deeply.

What do you want to be remember for?

Honestly this is a question that I have struggled with throughout my adult life. I think of my children and husband and how they will remember me, but my desire is still the same. Sometimes I may love too much, but I’d rather love too much than not at all.

Christ wanted us to love and he is our greatest example of love. 1 Corinthians 13 is not only one of my favorite passages, but inspired words of truth to live by. “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Do you see what I am saying? Without love for others you have nothing. You are nothing.

I know many people who live a good life, are kind, compassionate, willing, helpful even, but there is no love behind what the action. It isn’t the actions or good deeds that get you to heaven and not even all the love for others in the world will get you to heaven alone, but that love will lead you to a deeper relationship with Christ. That relationship is what will get you to heaven when your time shall come. I don’t know about you, but when I get to the pearly gates and it is asked of me what is the greatest thing I have done, I want to say “I have loved”.

I want to encourage you to really think about the legacy you are leaving behind and the legacy that you really want to be leaving behind. You and you alone can change it if need be. There is never a too late with God.

Lord, my life is not my own. Help me to always love as you have loved. Give me strength to always be the kind of person that reflects hope, faith and love; the greatest love. Bless the lives of those I come in contact with and remind me to always have them on my heart and mind. In Your name, amen.

Tara DeMaris

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as the wife to David and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in Southeast Idaho. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women of all ages and customs. She loves to write and teach God's Word. Favorite Quote - "Make history with God and He will make history through you."

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as the wife to David and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in Southeast Idaho. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women of all ages and customs. She loves to write and teach God’s Word. Favorite Quote – “Make history with God and He will make history through you.”