Friday, November 26, 2010

Simplify My Life

Simplify has been a word that I have used for years. I have a sign in my dining room with that single word on it. I would even take time in my Bible study group near the Christmas season and spend several weeks at the beginning of the class going over ways that we can simplify our lives and enjoy them more. We have so much stuff, both materially and personally in our lives, that we are overloaded.

If you are like me, you have a difficult time saying no. I want to do it all! And many things are well worth doing, but “we can’t be everything to everybody and we can’t do it all. We will cheat our families, cheat ourselves or cheat God. And sometimes we cheat all three.

Make a list of your daily activities and rate them. See if you are lopsided in any one area? Decide if there is something that you might want to delete from that list. I know that sometimes there isn’t anything that can be taken off and we have to go through some stress days but you get my idea.

Maybe you need to say “no” the next time you are asked to head up a group or be involved in a task. Give yourself some down time to just listen to the Lord and by all means get into His Word. He misses you when you don’t have time for Him.

Let me make this perfectly clear -- I am not preaching at you, I am writing this entry for myself. Now if I will just listen to my own teaching!

Psalm 119:36, 37 says, “Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; renew my life according to your Word.”
Patricia Harvey

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Who’s Speaking to Whom?

Have you ever been talking to someone, sharing from the wealth of wisdom you’ve accumulated over your life, and realized God may be speaking directly to … YOU? That’s what happened to me over Labor Day weekend.

My family and I were in the UP and went kayaking one afternoon. Along the way, my youngest son was having trouble and started to get very frustrated. I could see that he was going down the wrong path so I paddled over to him, intending to help him calm down. When I got next to Matthew and before I even got one word out of my mouth, I could see I was in for a battle. He didn’t want to calm down or listen. The only thing of interest to him at that time was slamming his paddle and yelling.

As I tried to explain that he wouldn’t be able to get control of his kayak and make progress until he got control of himself and as I watched him pitching a fit -- ignoring my every word -- God opened my eyes and my heart.

Sitting there in my kayak, sharing my words of wisdom, I wondered how many times God has held on to my arm and spoken those same words to me. How many times have I pitched a fit and missed His attempts to calm my heart?

How about you? Ever been in that boat?

Father in heaven, thank You for Your unending patience with me!
Karen Hossink

Monday, November 22, 2010

Taste of the Season

Fall is my absolute favorite season. I love the weather, colors, activities and of course the FOOD! Here is a yummy fall recipe that also happens to be figure friendly! Enjoy!

Crusty Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potato and Apple 

1 lb. pork tenderloin
1 Tb. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. coarsely ground pepper
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut crosswise in 8 slices
1 Tb. water
1 apple cut into 6 wedges
1 tsp. packed dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. 
  2. Mix the parsley, lemon zest, garlic, oil and ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub onto pork loin and place in dish. Let stand 5-10 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile, place the sweet potato slices and water in a small microwaveable casserole dish. Cover and microwave on high until par cooked, about three minutes, and drain. 
  4. Place sweet potato slices and apple wedges around the pork. Lightly spray the sweet potato and apple with nonstick spray then sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Roast until internal temperature of pork is 160 degrees and potatoes and apples are tender, about 30 minutes. 
  5. For best results let pork rest for five minutes before slicing. 
From: Dining for Two, Weight Watchers, 2004

Michelle Heriford

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Rock and My Redeemer

Psalm 19:14: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. 

I don’t usually meditate on just one verse but this one caught my attention. Struggling with the words of my mouth is not uncommon for me and it seems like lately I’ve added the meditation of my heart to the list of areas in my life that I find hard to control. As I prayed over this verse, asking God to help me be more pleasing to Him in these areas, I started thinking about the end of the verse. Why did David include those two attributes of our Lord — my Rock and my Redeemer — with this particular verse?

An answer came quickly to my mind. As my Rock, God is all the strength I need to use sweet words and have pure thoughts. And when I remember that He is my Redeemer and all that that means, it is easier for me to give grace to those around me. I more quickly realize that the Lord died for the driver who just cut me off and the waitress who can’t get my order right and the neighbor whose dog does his duty in my yard.

I feel like God gave me the command and the way to fulfill it all in the same verse. Keeping my focus on what’s true and important, what never changes and the ultimate sacrifice that God made should help my thoughts and speech be more in line with God’s standards.

Patty Dextrom

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Choose Your Circles Wisely

Do you notice your behavior or attitude change around certain people? Everyone has different circles of friends, and I have had mine: my circle of Christian friends, and then the trouble type friends who drank too much, and then the circle of friends that actually suffered from negativity just like me. You know what I found? When I hung out with my friends suffering from negativity and hopelessness it actually triggered an attitude of negativity and hopelessness in my life. It was as if we all had this contagious element that would spread and intensify when we hung out, even pulling the most positive of us back into the pit.

With my friends who liked to “go out” and spend their evenings and weekends drinking away, I always felt pressured to take shots or order drinks when they did. I was always sorry when I chose to go with them and waste my time with drunken people desperately searching for happiness in a place that only offers addiction and enslavement.

Finally, my last circle of friends — those who live their lives to glorify God. When I spend time with them I feel refreshed by their love, joy, and peace. Their joy doesn’t come from a bottle, but from God, and it is real and constant. Evenings spent at a coffee house, talking over things that are challenging us or ways that God is revealing Himself to us ministers to my spirit. When I leave I felt uplifted, hopeful, and excited for what the next day would bring.

I encourage you to honor God with how you spend your very valuable time because it truly matters. Choose your circles wisely, and if any of you lacks wisdom, ask God for it! He will give it to you.

Andrea Perry

Monday, November 15, 2010

In Search of Sunshine

Some days I seem to love to complain. Imagine, for a minute, a fictitious storm cloud hanging directly over my head and following my every move. With every bolt of thunder or downpour of rain my mood gets darker and darker. I can blame my sour attitude on waking up on the wrong side of the bed, that wonderful monthly reminder that God made me a woman, or any multitude of reasons. I stomp my way through my day grumbling about having to pick up after my family, cook yet another meal, or make my way through the mountains of dirty laundry that seemed to have appeared overnight.

Being in the trenches of motherhood, or womanhood, is just plain hard sometimes but what would my life look like if everything I did was for the Lord? What if I didn’t complain about serving my family because those chores or duties weren’t really out of obedience to them but to the Lord? Wouldn’t life be simpler, and more joyful? Isn’t that what so many of us seek?

Colossians 3:23 says: 
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember, that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” 

So trade in your storm cloud for sunshine because that inheritance that our Father promises is going to be AWESOME!

Nichole Richardson

Friday, November 12, 2010

As Close as a Whisper

I recently had surgery of a major degree and was pretty much home bound while healing. The word “home bound” to a person like me seems like a jail sentence; I love to be out and about and doing life. But I found that it was the best time of my life! Not because of catching up on all of my reading or TV, but having time with my Lord is what made it such a beautiful experience. He is as close as a whisper! And His Word never changes or never gets old.

I received a card with these words:
  • A physician will ask you how you feel and what your symptoms are. The Great Physician knows how you feel and understands what you are going through. 
  • A physician will have you come to the office. The Great Physician will stay with you and never leave your side. 
  • A physician will treat you with the best medicine available. The Great Physician will treat you with the riches of His grace. 
  • A physician will send you a bill for services rendered. The Great Physician does His work without charge. 
  • A physician tries his very best to help you. The Great Physician assures you that your life couldn’t be in better hands! 
I am glad for doctors and medicine, but the One that gave them the knowledge to treat me is the One that I look to and whisper to in the middle of the night or day. He is my constant companion. A little down time is wonderful if you have Jesus by your side.

Hebrews 13:5b, 6 tells us, “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.’”

Patricia Harvey

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Didn’t Know

My family and I were talking about Jesus the other night -- discussing who we believe He is, and who other people say He is. And I shared with my children who I used to think Jesus is.

When I was a child, I believed in God. I went to church. (Most Sundays. Unless I could convince my mom I was just too tired to get out of bed.) And I thought that’s where God lived. In my understanding, God lived in church and He didn’t come out. Just sat there and waited for us to come see Him on Sundays. I had no idea God was present in every day. Didn’t realize He was involved in every detail of my life. I just didn’t know He was more than a story we talked about on Sundays.

Then my daughter asked me if I prayed when I was a child. And I told her I did! Before dinner and before bed. Again -- I did not know God wanted me to talk to Him about everything. I just didn’t know He cared about anything in my life besides thanking Him for my food and laying me down to sleep.

I cannot begin to express my thankfulness for God’s grace and mercy toward me. He reached out to a young college student who didn’t know she was lost, who didn’t know she was missing the most amazing relationship there is, and He revealed Himself to her.

Since Jesus has come into my life, nothing has ever been the same. Now I know He is present in every moment, and I can trust Him with each one. Now I know He cares about everything, and I can talk to Him about it all. I’m so glad He has saved me from all I didn’t know!

How has your understanding of God changed over the years?

Karen Hossink

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pain with a Purpose

Pregnancy has been quite an up and down experience! One time I got a waitress to get me half onion rings and half fries even though she said it was not allowed. Ahh … the perks of being a pregnant lady!

As I am getting “more” pregnant, I have one word for my growing body … uncomfortable! It seems I am moving slower, sleeping worse and getting more uncomfortable as the days go on. Sometimes I think I can actually feel my belly stretching. When I start to get grumpy or whiney (don’t ask my husband how often this happens), I try to remind myself this too shall pass. That there is a very worthy purpose for this pain and discomfort. That I am going through this process for a reason.

God will also take us through this process. He will take situations in our life to grow and stretch us to bring us closer to him or teach us something. It is not always comfortable, in fact, sometimes it is just painful! But sometimes we have to go through tough times. I know it is the tough times in my life that have shaped me and taught me some tough lessons. Lessons you think you know about, but unless you have experienced it you have no idea.

These growing periods are also a test of character. We can choose to whine and complain or to praise God. It makes me think of the song, Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.” The lyrics say:

Blessed be your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where the streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

What is God taking you through?

Michelle Heriford

Friday, November 5, 2010

Merry Christmas!

As a follow up to Andrea’s testimony on Wednesday about the value of being involved in ministry, I want to make sure you are aware that sign ups for the Christmas Journey start this weekend after each service. This community outreach, which has become Trinity’s largest evangelistic effort, reaches 5,000 people every year. More than 600 volunteers from Trinity are needed to make this event happen. Whether you like to bake cookies, sew costumes, greet people, decorate or be part of the acting fun, sign up in the atrium on Saturday night or Sunday morning.

Another fun opportunity is to get your small group or family together and serve as townspeople in Bethlehem or on Angel Hill, telling people about the good news of the Christ child born to us. It’s a great way to build community among your group or serve as a family. You can be a part of sharing the Good News of salvation with people who might be coming to hear God’s story for the first time.

So if you’re looking for something to do this holiday season that defines the real meaning of Christmas, look no further than participating in the Christmas Journey on December 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 or 12. Come for one night or all six! In addition to signing up at church, you can also sign up online at Trinity's website. I’ll be there and I hope to see you there too.

Patty Dextrom

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Connect @ Church

Recently, I was early for church (that doesn’t happen as often as I would like), so I camped out in the atrium with my Styrofoam cup of coffee. The closer it came to the start of service, the more people started mingling and filling the atrium. Dozens filtered in and out and I didn’t recognize a face. For a few minutes I realized how lonely it could be for someone who wasn’t connected at Trinity to mingle before and after service. I had just decided to make another trip to the drinking fountain when I noticed someone I knew from the Worship Arts team. She smiled at me, mouthed “hi!” and waved from across the room. Then I noticed a group of friends that play flag football with me as part of Trinity’s Sports Ministry. As I crossed the atrium to say hello, I ran into a couple I met through Starting Point. Wow! I went from knowing no one in the room to being surrounded by friends in a matter of minutes!

As I went in to the service a few minutes later I felt blessed to have so many friends in Christ that also share my love for Trinity. I regret that it took me three years before I got involved in ministry at Trinity, but now that I am connected through the ministries and programs, I am building stronger relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ and feel more at home in my home church.

I encourage those of you who feel disconnected and alone at Trinity to check out Trinity’s ministry programs and find an area of ministry that interests you. Being active at Trinity is a wonderful way to meet people and develop Christ-centered relationships. If you are already connected, and like me are feeling blessed by the friendships you have at Trinity, I encourage you to reach out to others who may not have those relationships yet. They need you!

Andrea Perry

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Beauty of the Seasons

I thank God every year for fall and winter. I believe it’s His way of slowing me down from the hustle and bustle of life. I appreciate the beauty of the leaves changing color, curling up in my favorite chair with a soft blanket and a mug of Hot Cocoa or the very first snowfall that is so enchanting. Darkness falls earlier and the colder air finds me seeking the warmth of my home more often. It is during those moments of stillness and rest that I hear my Father speak the most clearly.

As soon as I see the very first signs of fall this is what I bake:

Orange Pumpkin Bread
2/3 C. shortening
2 2/3 C. sugar
4 eggs
3 1/3 C. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 (16oz.) can pumpkin
2/3 C. water
¼ C. orange juice
2 tsp. orange zest

Cream shortening; gradually add sugar. Beat on medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add orange zest, juice, and water. Combine flour and next five ingredients. Add to creamed mixture, alternating dry ingredients with pumpkin. Beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spoon batter into two greased and floured 9x5x3 inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 10 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Nichole Richardson

Friday, October 29, 2010

Finding Comfort in Silence

I Chronicles 4:40

They found rich, good pasture, and the land was spacious, peaceful and quiet.

Do you long for time alone in silence with your Abba in a tranquil natural setting? Last month I had the pleasure of joining a small group of ladies at The Hermitage in Three Rivers Michigan. This was to be a silent retreat where talking and interaction with others was limited. The three-day trip consisted of time to pray, hike trails, journal and read. Initially I was resistant to the thought of being silent for two days, but gradually the quietness began to feel like a soft warm covering around me.

From what I see in scripture, God tells us to lead a quiet life filled with His Spirit to direct and guide us. When I choose to fill my days with so much noise and busyness, how can I expect His Spirit to work through this? The retreat at The Hermitage was just what I needed for extended quiet with Him, free from distractions. I felt like I was on a date with Jesus!

If you have never taken a personal retreat, prayerfully consider it!

Sheryl Patry

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

HELP! I’m turning into my Grandma!

Have you ever said those words before? If it wasn’t your Grandma, perhaps it was your mother. In any event at some time or another we will find ourselves behaving or saying something that reminds us of people we have known and loved.

The other day I made terrific tomato soup. (I’ll give you the recipe if you ask). Since it made such a large amount I was looking for the best way to store it in the fridge so that large space was not taken up. A vision came to me … canning jars in Grandma’s fridge filled with who knows what! Clearly the solution was before me so I gathered a few jars, filled them and placed them in the fridge.

Deja-vu! I had turned into my Grandma! Pleasant thoughts filled my mind of her and the many ways she had poured into my life. That then caused me to think of the many relatives who are now in heaven who had also guided me either through their spoken words, lives lived, or choices made. It caused me to think of the verse in Hebrews that says, “And now we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” Put all these thoughts together and I am filled with joy for my heritage!

So … if I am turning into my Grandma, I say, thank you, Lord. She not only showed me how to package soup but she lived a life grounded in God. She shared her soup with others and she practiced daily bible reading, faithful church attendance and much more. I’m glad she’s one the many witnesses surrounding me. I pray I can be as faithful.

How about you? Who are you turning into?

Cathy Bytwerk

Monday, October 25, 2010

Don’t Ask If…

The greeting of the day seems to be, “How are you doing?” But very few people want to hear your story and how you are really doing. They want the correct answer to be, “I’m doing great.” But that is not always the case, is it? There have been times in my life when I was asked that very question and my heart might have been breaking, but because I knew that they really didn’t want to know, they were just being polite, I would give the standard answer, “I’m doing fine.”

Don’t ask if you don’t really want to know! As Believers, we should be ready to listen with a patient heart … and sometimes their answer comes in silent ways; in their eyes or in their voice or in body language. Take time to look beyond the words and really hear what they are saying.

We live in such a “Drive Thru, Do it Quick” world and we can’t or we won’t take the time to listen, hear and genuinely care about our sisters and brothers. There are folks out there that are dying to be heard and cared about … be that someone.

Romans 12:9-13 says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patent in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

The next time you say the words, “How are you doing?” Remember; don’t ask if you don’t really want to know!

Patricia Harvey

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Don’t Want to Want What I Want

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Has this verse ever confused you? I used to think it meant that if I did enough to please God, He would give me all the things I thought would make me happy. Yes, I had the notion that God might be given to manipulation. If I did the right things, I thought I could get what I wanted.

I am so thankful God doesn’t think the way I do. And I am grateful for the godly people He has brought into my life who have helped me understand that verse more accurately. God is not given to manipulation. He doesn’t change. The truth is, I’ve learned I am the one who needs changing. And as I lean into Him more — as I seek to know God and become more like Him — He changes my heart so my desires are His. I pursue the things of God and He shapes that which my heart desires. That is — He gives me the desires of my heart.

This concept became clear to me recently when I was praying about some things I’ve desired. It occurred to me that my longings might not be in line with God’s. And in the middle of my prayer I found myself saying, “God, I don’t want to want what I want. I want to want what You want!”

Oh, to be so close to God’s heart that the things I desire are the same things He desires. Yes. That is what I want. What do you want today?

Karen Hossink

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sting’s Red Letter Day

Every breath you take, every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you. Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, every night you stay, I’ll be watching you. Oh can’t you see, you belong to me. How my poor heart aches, with every step you take. Every move you make, every vow you break, every smile you fake, every claim you stake, I’ll be watching you.

Do these lyrics seem familiar? Do you think Sting knew that those could be the very words of our Heavenly Father? I heard this on the radio recently and I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, that’s like God. He sees, watches and experiences everything with me. And I know I’ve made His poor heart ache a time or two!”

Since you’ve gone I’ve been lost without a trace. I dream at night, I can only see your face. I look around but it’s you I can’t replace. I feel so cold and I long for your embrace. I keep calling ...

This part might be a stretch, but imagine The Lord longing for us to spend time with Him every day. And we don’t. He’s the lover of our soul ... why wouldn’t He be in agony when He’s not with us?

Music moves me. Really, it reaches in and does something to me. I know these lyrics aren’t biblical and I highly doubt Sting meant them the way I do. But I’d like to imagine them in Red Letters straight from the mouth of my Savior.

Sally Hall

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ebenezer — A Stone of Help

I Samuel 7:12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us."

Recently God challenged me with this verse by considering how many times I keep track of disappointments rather than victories in life. In I Samuel, we see how, as a result of repentance, God was faithful to provide victory for the Israelites over the Philistines. In response to this, Samuel sets up a stone that he calls an Ebenezer or “stone of help.” This stone served as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to His children for many generations.

When it comes to short-term memory, mine is the worst! God knows I need reminders of things to keep me on track with the “gazillion” things going on. I need regular visual reminders of Gods past provisions, whether those are rocks, songs, journal entries, or regular “pop-ups” on my Outlook Calendar. We cannot trust God with new challenges if we fail to forget His mighty works from the past!

What do you use as your Ebenezer?

Sheryl Patry

Friday, October 15, 2010

Listen Up, Wiggle Worms!

I was reading a story to my five-year-old nephew the other day while he was sitting on my lap. The child would not stop fidgeting and moving and wiggling. I remember my dad calling me a wiggle worm on more occasions than I can count and I think I understand what he meant!

Logan was paying attention – mostly – and he wasn’t being bad. He just couldn’t seem to keep his little behind in one place. It drove me crazy and certainly distracted me from the story.

As I was thinking about that, it hit me – that’s me with God. My body might not physically move all around when I’m talking to Him or reading His Story but my mind sure does. Since I’m often sitting near a window when I spend time in the Word, I can find my mind wandering from “I wonder what that crow is doing” to “the neighbors let their cute little dogs out.”

My lack of focus drives me crazy; I can only imagine how frustrated God is by it. Not surprised but saddened nonetheless. And while I know He doesn’t get distracted by my inability to sit my mind still, I wonder how much of His message I miss out on. Experience has taught me that I hear God much more effectively when I shut out the daily distractions of life. What I am I missing when my thoughts of Him are interrupted with, “I really need to trim those hedges”?

What are useful ways you’ve found that help you focus during your time with God?

Patty Dextrom

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hoarding

Recently I was watching the show Hoarders … and having nightmares! Has anyone ever seen that show? These people hold on to stuff, stuff and more stuff. They often have no living area and little paths to get from room to room (to put it mildly).

While watching the show it was clear that the “stuff” was filling some kind of hole in the person. It made me feel really sad for them -- thinking about how those people were so troubled and that I was so disturbed about the situation that they were in.

Then the Holy Spirit must have hit me upside the head and said something like “Hello Michelle! Wake up! You do the same thing!”

Now don’t be afraid to come over my house; I am not a hoarder. My “stuff” is just packaged differently. It made me think about how we all try to fill our God-shaped hole. Do we fill it with food, TV, work, service or even relationships? Non-Christians also have this God-shaped hole that they are desperately trying to fill.

It reminds me to the chorus of a song by the group Plum:

There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us
And the restless soul is searching
There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us
And it’s a void only HE can fill

I know I am constantly looking at my life and trying to identify the “stuff” that I try to fill this hole with. But the way to fill the God-shaped hole really is easy -- fill it with God! This is my prayer for all of us ladies: to be able to first identify the “stuff” and then to replace it with the only hole satisfier -- God!

Michelle Heriford

Monday, October 11, 2010

Looking Back … Moving Forward

This morning I sat down at the computer to write to all of you out of what God has been doing in my life. I decided to look back through my readings in the Bible over the past months and share some biblical truths I had underlined. So here are a few of them:

“Stop doubting and believe.” John 20, Jesus speaking to Thomas after the resurrection.

“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” Acts 2, Peter quoting King David.

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3, Jesus speaking to His disciples before His death.

“Stand Firm!”

“If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch!” Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, Jesus speaking to His disciples.

When I meditate on all of these thoughts together they point me in a direction of how to live. Whether I am discouraged -- I do get that way from time to time -- aimless, drowning in lack of assurance or just plane being lazy, all I need to do is look in His word for help and then start moving in the direction He is pointing me to and life will be promising again.

What direction are you heading in today?

Cathy Bytwerk

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Good Old Days

By saying, “The Good Old Days,” it makes me sound like I am really old! Well, I’m not young, but I don’t really think of myself as old either. But using this silly computer makes me want to go back to the days when people actually called each other on the phone and wrote letters now and then. I was trying to send a document to my Historical Society (I am the secretary) and I got so frustrated that I could have screamed. The only thing that kept me from crying was to have my husband try to do it and he failed as well.

My husband and I are headed for Hawaii in the morning (I know that you feel sorry for me) and I have so much to do. I think of myself as a pretty organized person, with a list of tasks to take care of. All I needed to do was to send out one tiny document and it blew away my schedule. Can you identify with me at all?

I never wanted a computer. I said that I would never own one and now I have three. I asked for a notebook computer for Mother’s Day and my husband, Jim, bought me one to use at the Coffee Shop for my “Coffee Ministry” and on vacations. What was I thinking? They cause me undo stress except for e-mailing -- I love to e-mail my friends and family. I know that I am rambling on but isn’t that what blogs are for sometimes? Pray for me please. Hebrews 10:25b says, “but let us encourage one another.”

I am feeling much better now…God bless you Sisters.

Patricia Harvey

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Communication Lessons from a GPS

Have you ever used a Global Positioning System while you’re driving? They’re pretty nice. Just type in the address of your destination and leave the navigating to “Daisy.” (Or whatever name you may have given to your new driving buddy.)

Except for the time my GPS didn’t realize the highway she wanted me to take was closed for construction, my trusty gadget has never failed me. She has taught me much about listening and obeying. She has patiently told me where to turn and when to stop, and I have been thankful for her assistance.

On a recent outing, however, I discovered my GPS also had something to teach me about communication. Those of you who have experience with these devices will know what I mean. We missed a turn and — with a voice as calm and pleasant as she always uses — the GPS simply said, “Recalculating.” But the driver was busy talking (of course, it wasn’t me!) and missed the next turn. Still in that patient voice, the GPS said, “Recalculating.”

She didn’t raise her voice, add a sharp edge to her tone, or start throwing out insults. She simply drew our attention to the fact that we’d missed the target and let us know she was going to be re-directing us in the way we needed to go. Any other moms, wives, friends, teachers, people-who-have-to-talk-to-people out there recognize the lesson I learned from the GPS???

Karen Hossink

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Book and Its Cover

I recently attended my 25th high school class reunion. I was anxious about it but also excited. I wasn’t really a “popular” kid in high school. I wasn’t un-popular. I just had my friends and we did our thing, more of a bad girl than anything!

My husband encouraged me to talk to those that I wouldn’t normally talk to in high school or that I wasn’t friends with back then. So, I did! It was a really fun time -- took me back several years!

Fast forward two weeks and a few of us girls decided to meet for coffee. I suggested we invite a girl whom I wasn’t friends with in school. She did pom-poms and dated jocks; I smoked cigarettes and listened to Led Zeppelin!

We all began to share about our lives, and then we started talking about high school and the years after. She shared how un-perfect her life was back then, her struggles, her family issues, her own issues. How I had assumed wrong! I had looked at her and thought she had this perfect little life from a perfect little family. She shared that it had been anything but that. As I shared what my life was like during those years and the question was asked, “Sally, what happened, how did you change all of that?” I was able to tell them I had become a born-again Christian, which led her to tell me that she had recently become a Christian as well. I was encouraged and touched by her story.

That old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” rang so true to me. Not only does time have a way of changing things, but so does Jesus. My reunion ended up being a reminder to not look at the outside of people’s lives, but to look through the junk and into the heart, just like Jesus does.

Sally Hall

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Little of Jan

A few years ago, the Women’s Ministry at Trinity brought in author and speaker Jan Johnson to speak at our women’s retreat. She was one of the most interesting and depthy women’s speaker I had heard in many years. Since then I have read her books Savoring God’s Word and Enjoying the Presence of God. They have given me a deeper understanding of God and His desire for me to spend time with Him. I would love for you to read her thoughts along with me so when you get the time, please check out her website.

Jan puts out a monthly e-mail called Wisbit that is filled with meaty bits from God’s word. I have no doubt that she will challenge and encourage you as you go through your daily walk with God. A little of Jan will brighten your life!

Cathy Bytwerk

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Luck or Lord?

Have you ever had one of those days when you were in the right place at the right time? I have those moments a lot! Some would say it is just a coincidence, or luck, but I am not a lucky person (see my blog entry about my fall). So I don’t believe it is luck, and these moments happen far too often to be just coincidence.

Recently, I took over a case at work and didn’t feel like I needed to see the patient quite yet. They were not ready to hear the options for care I had to offer them, even though my option was really the only one they had. I finally decided that I was going to go see this patient, introduce myself and spend some time with them.

I came to see the patient at 2 p.m. The nurse said “Oh, you are here for the meeting.” “What meeting?” I asked. “The big family meeting,” she answered. I had no idea a family meeting was scheduled, but I attended it anyway. During the meeting I got to be a support to this patient and family and inform them of how I could help. It went great, and I think I am going to be able to help this patient be more comfortable during the last part of their life here on earth.

I know I have mentioned this before, but this situation reminds me again that God is always at work around us! He is always working in me and working for the good of those that I care for. We serve an amazing and loving God! Our God consistently puts us in the right place at the right time to minister to His people and to accomplish His work and luck has nothing to do with it. Incredible! God, thank You for Your direction in my daily life!

Michelle Heriford

Monday, September 27, 2010

Where Has the Time Gone?

I was rushing around recently getting ready for a trip to visit my son, Ryan, and his family. They live in Libertyville, Illinois, on Sunnyside Lane. Now doesn’t that sound like it is right out of a movie? I don’t like traveling around Chicago to get there, but once we are there, it is a lovely community. Sounds a lot like life on our way to heaven, right?

I love to reminisce and have thought a lot about Ryan this morning. It was just yesterday (seems like) that he was a little boy standing at my side watching me put on my make-up. Now, I am on my way to see his kids — George, eight; Andrew, six; and little Sarah who is four years old. Where did the time go? I mean it, where did it go? I just want to say to life … SLOW DOWN!

That is why we must take each minute to enjoy and not rush past the lovely times that will someday be our memories. Stop and “make some memories.” Those are not always the big Disney World trips. They can be walking in the yard and examining — really looking — at the flowers and in our yard, looking at the mole holes.

The other day I was sitting on my porch swing facing our side yard. At that very moment, all was at peace and I was just wallowing in the good feeling of the sun, the swing’s movement and the beauty of God’s nature. Are you moving too fast these days and enjoying life less? Stop and take a deep breath, walk a little slower and enjoy the trip. The trip through life that is!

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Patricia Harvey

Friday, September 24, 2010

Beauty from Pain

It’s funny how life can be daisies and sunshine and then, in the matter of a few hours, something happens that breaks your heart and steals your joy.

A few years ago I memorized chapters out of the book of 2 Corinthians, and lately this verse has just been on replay in my mind: “We are pressed on every side, but not crushed.” (2 Cor. 4:8) Sometimes I feel crushed. My life is not perfect, and sometimes I feel so lonely and overwhelmed that I want to give up, stay in bed, and just forget the world outside.

We are told that God sees each tear that falls from our tired, swollen eyes, and, yet, sometimes He feels so far away when we’re hurting. We must separate our emotions from reality, though, and remember that regardless of how we feel, God promises that when our dreams go up in smoke, He’ll trade in beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (that comes straight from Isaiah 61).

I love these lyrics from Superchick. The song is called Beauty from Pain.

I’ll wonder why God lets me walk through this place
And though I can’t understand why this happened
I know that I will when I look back someday
And see how You’ve brought beauty from ashes
And made me as gold purified through these flames

So, dear heart, when you don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning, and you’ve lost sight of your precious dreams, have faith! Joy comes in the morning, and God is faithful and able to restore and mend your broken heart. You will be stronger and radiate more beauty and love than before ... just give Him time to work it out.

Andrea Perry

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When Darkness is NOT Dark

I am memorizing Psalm 139 this year. On the first and fifteenth of each month I begin a new verse and spend the next two weeks thinking about that verse, asking God what He wants to say to me through it.

Going so slowly through the psalm has been a tremendous blessing to me. And although I've been ‘past’ verse 12 for some time now, it is the blessing of that verse that I want to share with you today.

“… even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:12 

As I spent time mulling over this verse, I was struck by the opposites: darkness/not dark, night/day, darkness/light. Regarding the darkness/not dark contrast, I was reminded that the things in my life that appear dark to me are not dark to God. He is not overwhelmed by the things that are overwhelming to me. Situations that are scary to me are not scary to Him.

And I had fun considering the opposites of night/day and darkness/light. When it comes to God and my circumstances, that which is confusing to me is clear to Him. When I don’t know what to do, God has perfect wisdom. Situations that are too much for me to handle are easy for God. Ahhh, what a blessed assurance!

What darkness are you facing today? Can you put a name on your circumstance (e.g., uncertainty, fear, chaos) and then come up with the opposite way God feels about it (e.g., clarity, confidence, peaceful)? As you look to God in the midst of your mess, I pray you will be encouraged to know that He can handle it!

Karen Hossink

Monday, September 20, 2010

Second Class Pancakes

Usually toward the back of any parenting magazine is a section where people have written in with funny things their kids have done or said. My son, Zachary, at nine years old is somewhat of a comic genius. He says the most hilarious things. Recently, we were finishing up a rather hectic breakfast. I was trying to get Zach plus the two children I was babysitting that day fed and out the door to run a few errands. I was admittedly frazzled, rushed and probably short on patience. Our conversation went like this:

Zach: “Mom, you make the second best pancakes in the world.”

Me: “Only, second best. Who makes the best?”

Zach: “Well, Dad of course.”

Me: “Well, Zach let me let you in on a little secret. We use the same recipe.”

Zach: “Well, Dad still makes the best, but don’t worry Mom because yours are still better than McDonald’s. Theirs are awful!”

At that moment all my frazzled, impatient feelings flew out the window and I just laughed! Even though my pancakes came in second in Zach’s taste test, they ranked higher than McDonald’s, which is the epitome of high-class-food for a lot of kids. I love my son more than words can express. He makes me smile on a daily basis. His laughter and random remarks are often the highlight of my day.

Psalm 127:3 says: “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” 

I thank God every day for the reward of Zachary but mostly, I thank him for Zach’s sense of humor. It often makes a difficult day disappear in the blink of an eye.

Nichole Richardson

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Shameless Plug

I thought I would use my blog space this month to promote the Trinity Church Book Club. I’ve discovered that many people don’t even know it exists! We’ve been meeting once a month since 2003 and, as an avid reader, I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to read books I wouldn’t have read before. I’ve been exposed to new authors, new Christian heroes, and have greatly enjoyed meeting women at Trinity I may not have met outside of this group.

The format is simple. In November, we meet to choose 11 books for the following year from three categories — fiction, biographies and Christian living. We meet the last Tuesday of every month, except for December, in a very casual atmosphere. You don’t have to commit to coming every month, and we take turns leading the discussion.

Even though we don’t study the Bible, I often come away challenged on biblical ideas or my thoughts on a certain topic. Hearing others’ opinions and experiences has a way to making me think differently. It helps get me outside of my box and see things in a new perspective. The group is open in sharing their opinions and thoughts and we don’t always agree. But we always appreciate the other person’s viewpoint and what it adds to the discussion.

If you like to read and would enjoy discussing your thoughts on books with other readers, I’d invite you to come to one of our meetings and check it out. If you are interested, the books we have left on the schedule this year are Walking from East to West by Ravi Zacharias, Abba’s Child: the Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging by Brennan Manning and Beaded Hope by Cathy Liggett. You can reply to this blog or send me a message if you want more information.

Patty Dextrom

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Fresh Coat of Paint

We recently had our house repainted; it was long overdue. The house itself was lemon yellow and the soffit and trim were all deep brown. If Lou Rawls had sung a 70s song about a house, it would have been ours! I painted strips of colors all over the house and finally decided on Khaki Green and Mississippi Delta — beautiful tone-on-tone colors that brought new life and made me instantly feel better about our house.

My house reminded me of my life as a woman. I spent $120 on new makeup last year because I’d had a hysterectomy, gained weight and needed something new to make me feel pretty and womanly. I’ve done the same with hair, clothes … and mostly it works … for a while. But even with a makeover, we still can’t escape ourselves. You know, the part of us inside that really bugs us so we try to distract ourselves from ourselves.

What you don’t know about our house is that the inside is still a mess. There is one whole bathroom that gets mold around the tub, the tile is mildewed and soggy, the mirror is broken, and the lights hang from the ceiling. The kitchen has chipped tile; a mushy, stained countertop; and a stove that doesn’t work right. But, if you just drive by or stay outside, you wouldn’t know that the inside needs work because the outside looks so nice.

Can you see where this is going? The spiritual part of this blog is this: Go ahead, Girls, and make yourself feel pretty, but don’t ever neglect the inside and being honest about what ick is in there. Then, enlist all the help you can from Father God, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit so that the “fresh coat of paint” you just put on isn’t a cover up, but a reflection of what’s on the inside.

Sally Hall

Monday, September 13, 2010

Humble Pie

I was served up a piece of humble pie the other day. I was picking out some shoes to wear to work. At first I put on the sensible ones, but then decided on the cuter heels, thinking it was going to be the last time I could wear them for a while since I am pregnant (did I tell everyone that I am pregnant?!). Something told me not to wear them, but I did anyway.

Around noon that day I was in a rush to get to an appointment and while walking twisted my foot and fell! No glamorous story — just walking along, not paying attention, my heel twisted a little and I bit the dust. Of course there were tons of people in the hall who all rushed to help this poor pregnant chick.

I got up and tried to laugh it off, but as I walked I knew I was not okay. I had hurt my foot. Needless to say, I had to go to the OB ward before I could get my foot looked at and landed one week’s worth of work restrictions. I was humiliated!

As I sat in the OB ward getting monitored (baby and I are just fine, by the way), I began to analyze the situation. I decided it all came down to vanity and pride. The Holy Spirit told me to wear the sensible shoes, but no, I had to look cute.

So my lesson for that day was: Pride comes before the fall (Proverbs 16:18) and Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet (James 4:10 The Message). A little cheeky but the lesson was obvious. I need to pay attention and keep in step (with flats) with what God is telling me to do. Anyone with me?

Michelle Heriford

Friday, September 10, 2010

A New Adventure

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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 preserves. Love never fails. I Corinthians 13: 4-8 

My husband retired in July. Tell me, Ladies, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Shortly after we were married, 41 years ago, my father-in-law retired. From that day on, my dear mother-in-law had no life of her own, except for when Dad went fishing. I watched their lives and I feared the day that my guy would retire. So we began to discuss retirement early on and how we would handle it, making sure that Jim understood that I had a life and that it was important for me to do my own thing. And that he could not move me to Florida or somewhere away from my friends and family!

Jim has worked in education for 42 years and he has accomplished great things. He even has a building named in his honor. But when it comes to the home, that has always been my territory and it will take me a while to share it. Do I sound like a selfish, spoiled child?

Just so you know, Jim and I have the most wonderful marriage that you can ever imagine and I know that this new chapter of our life will be just as good as the other chapters have been. I have said many times that I feel sorry for anyone that isn’t us … we are so in love! So, I am not afraid of this new adventure. God has a plan for our retirement, just like He has always guided our lives. I will keep you posted!

Patricia Harvey

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

True Friendships

A few weeks ago while talking with a good friend, I asked her what God had been teaching her. As she began to share her heart with me, I noticed something stirring in me wanting to grow in those same areas. The picture that came to mind was of two trees, standing side by side in the deep woods, weathering storms of life while simultaneously striving to grow roots of strength and support. Her love for others helped to break through selfish attitudes I had overlooked in myself and had become too blind to see.

Together, through the power and love of the Holy Spirit, we were able to encourage and pray for one another. It wasn’t just about the coffee that day. It was about the incredible transformation of life that results when two hearts are willing to be vulnerable and transparent. When God’s grace and love are welcomed into a friendship, new life and new growth can result.

As a part of the body of Christ, we are called to grow into His likeness, through His Spirit’s enabling, as well as build up and support each other in the body. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:16: From him [Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. God has not called us to run this race alone, but He has graciously given us the body to provide encouragement, support, care and even correction at times.

I am so thankful for the friends God has placed into my life. Whenever I am tempted to think I can make it through this world on my own, I need to remember those precious times of fellowship from the past — “where two or more are gathered, He was in the midst of it all.”

Sheryl Patry

Monday, September 6, 2010

You Have to See This!

Two years ago, I drove with my son Bryan on his 2,000-mile trek back to vet school in California. Always the adventurers, we spontaneously decided one day to go 140 miles out of our way to visit Best Friends, a well-known animal shelter nestled in the mountains of Southern Utah. To return to the interstate, we cut through Zion National Park.

We drove through Zion as the sun was setting and were absolutely stunned by its breathtaking beauty. Towering red rock formations surrounded us, glowing in the mellow end-of-day sunlight; we wound on switchback curves and drove through a mountain tunnel constructed in the Depression era. The park was pristine, unspoiled by human presence other than the road snaking its way alongside the clearest river I’d ever seen. As we slowly wound our way through the Park, I turned to Bryan and exclaimed, “We have to come back here someday so Dad and Kevin can see this!”

Often good intentions never materialize, but two months ago, the four of us actually did vacation in Zion. As we hiked through cool mountain passes; felt the spray of sparkling waterfalls on our arms and faces; and gazed at incredible, colorful rock formations, I said to my husband, “Isn’t this gorgeous? Do you see why I wanted you to see this?” I felt such joy sharing this place with the people I love.

It makes me think of Jesus when His eyes flickered open in the tomb.

His resurrected body would appear on earth for the next 40 days, but at the same time He had been raised into Heaven! Did He gasp in awe when He caught sight of the dazzling glory of His Home? Did He exclaim, “Father, I can’t wait to bring the ones I love here with Me!”

Isn’t it amazing that Jesus is eagerly waiting for us to come and see His magnificent home in Heaven? Who is it that you long to have join you there, so that you can ask, “Do you see why I wanted you to see this? Is it as stunningly beautiful as I described?”

Anne Cody

Friday, September 3, 2010

Wait … This Moment Is Too Sweet

I have had one song playing over in my head for the past two days. The song is “A Little Longer” by Brian and Jenn Johnson, and it is a fantastic, beautiful piece of music that I’m going to share with you today. Over the past three years, I’ve had the opportunity to share it with some of my close friends, and I know it’s touched their hearts. I hope it will touch yours, too.

As you listen, notice that every time the verse repeats, the prayer becomes more and more desperate — the singer must do something for the King. Relentless, she sings to her King.

“What can I do for you? What can I bring to you?
What kind of song would you like me to sing?
‘Cause I’ll dance a dance for you,
Pour out my love to you,
What can I do for you, Beautiful King?
‘Cause I can’t thank you enough,
‘Cause I can’t thank you enough.”


My favorite part, though, is not the prayer. It’s when the King responds.



“You don’t have to do a thing,
Just simply be with me and let those things go
‘Cause they can wait another minute.

“Wait ... this moment is too sweet
Would you please stay here with Me
And love on Me a little longer?
‘Cause I’d like to be with you a little longer
I’d love to be with you a little longer
‘Cause I’m in love with you.”

While joy can be found in serving and “doing” for our King (and I think that really does bless His heart), I hope you also take the time to enjoy some sweet, sweet quiet times with Him. They are so precious.

Andrea Perry
Musical Content provided by Mixpod (http://www.mixpod.com/)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Don’t Make a Decision While You’re Running Uphill

I was huffing and puffing as I ran up the hill. With the end of the sidewalk in view I said to myself, “This is it. I am not going to turn around and run this path again. I am tired and I am ready to quit. Running is over for today.” 

Just the night before, I had decided to increase the length of my run by turning around and doubling up on the last section, which would improve my distance by about half a mile.

However, as I was running up the hill, thinking about my tired legs and heavy breathing, I was sure I couldn’t run another half mile. The additional distance seemed a good idea the night before, when I was only thinking about it. But at the moment — in the midst of the run — I did not want to do it.

Have you been in a situation where you had intentions of doing one thing, yet found yourself ready to change your mind mid-course because the journey seemed too hard? Pushing myself up the hill, ready to give in to my flesh and call it quits, I realized, I cannot make a decision while I am running uphill. The time for me to make a decision is when I am thinking clearly, because when I am in the middle of a struggle, my first and strongest inclination is to give up.

I am sure it was the Holy Spirit encouraging me to press on and stick to the decision I made before I faced the hill. So on I ran. I prayed for strength. I repeated Scripture to myself. I thought, “If I just had an Ipod, running wouldn’t be so painful.” (Yes, I am a deep individual!) I realized God was teaching me a lesson on perseverance. And I kept going.

How about you? Are you running uphill today? I pray you’ll know with confidence that Jesus is running with you. Hold on to Him. And, please, don’t make a decision while you’re running uphill.

Karen Hossink

Monday, August 30, 2010

Elevator Conversations

Last week I was sharing an elevator with a very friendly man. He wanted to chat and joke around and I really didn’t. I was thinking about all I had to do that day and couldn’t be bothered by this man.

For some reason this situation stuck with me and I have been thinking about it since. What if I missed an opportunity to speak an encouraging word or maybe share an act of kindness? This may seem silly, but in Corinthians Paul says that we are a letter from Christ, written not from ink but with the Spirit of the living God (2 Corinthians 3:3). This scripture says to me that our lives should point to Christ in all areas, even in silly situations in an elevator.

As I think about how I could “be a better Christian,” I thought about all the things I could do to achieve this — I could not be so impatient, I could be more giving, I could go out of my way to help more people. But I was missing the whole point. The world does not need the love that I can give; it needs only the love that Christ can give. Light bulb!

This is all about fruit. I need all of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians, and the only way to get them is by being rooted in good ground. This comes by spending time with Christ and letting Him water the ground to grow the fruit. Why is the right answer always the toughest?! Doing daily devotions is something I need to work on; it is something that is necessary to be able to write my letter to the world. I want my letter to reflect not me, but to clearly reflect Christ in me. So next time friendly elevator person, I will be ready!

Michelle Heriford

Friday, August 27, 2010

It’s Never Too Late to Start Doing What’s Right

I heard these words, “It’s never too late to start doing what’s right” in an adult Sunday school class years ago, and it changed my life. I considered my life and all of the things that I had not done the right way … either in being the best daughter, the best wife, the best mother or the best friend. And those few words said to me, “Don’t stress over it. That was yesterday and today is a brand new day. Start doing things right today!” 

I am in my sixties and considered a senior now. My greatest hope is to encourage both young women and the ones who are not so young. Don’t be discouraged about the way you wish you had handled certain situations in your life. Give up that blame game and begin afresh. Today is a brand new day, it is the “first day of the rest of your life.” I think those were words in a commercial for eating the right cereal years ago? But they fit! 

Isaiah 43:18 says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?” Verse 25 says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” 

Begin today to do those things that you need to do differently. Be the “Woman of God” that He created you to be. Don’t dismay, “It’s never too late to start doing what’s right.”

Patricia Harvey

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In the Face of Disappointment

I was talking with a friend the other day about a situation in which she and her husband feel differently. It’s a biggee — one of those issues premarital counselors would recommend you discuss and work out before you get married. Alas, they didn’t do that and now they have discovered that they do not want the same thing. It’s not a matter of right or wrong; they simply don’t share the same desire.

As we were talking, she recognized that she can feel anger toward him because he doesn’t feel the same way she does, but she also acknowledged that he has every right to feel the way he does. Then she started reflecting on all of the sacrifices he has made for her and their marriage over the past couple of years. And I’m talking some big sacrifices! They live where they do because of her dreams and desires. They are switching churches because of her comfort level. He took a job that is stressful and challenging but that pays more so that she doesn’t have to work full time.

I was very proud of her for focusing on the positives and recognizing all the ways her husband loves her and has shown that love. Even though I’m not married, my conversation with her challenged me to examine my attitude in my relationships. When I’m hurt or disappointed or just plain disagree with someone I care about, do I focus on the things that rub me the wrong way about that person or do I recall the many positive points that I appreciate about them? Do I allow Christ’s grace to fill me and overflow into the relationship? Do I recognize the many ways that God overlooks my flaws and even the areas where my desires do not yet line up with His and yet He loves me anyway?

Patty Dextrom

Monday, August 23, 2010

Turkey and Quinoa Salad

One of my favorites for a healthy and yummy summer dinner or lunch.

½ cup raw quinoa (an alternative grain, can get at the health food store)
1 cup water
½ lb. cooked turkey, cubed
2 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
Curry powder to taste
Coarsely chopped fresh basil to taste
½ cup chopped pecans
Lettuce

Rinse quinoa; drain. Place quinoa and water in a 2-quart saucepan; bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed; cool. Place quinoa and all other ingredients, except the lettuce leaves, in a large bowl; mix. Refrigerate one to two hours to allow flavors to blend. Spoon mixture onto lettuce leaves.

Sally Hall

Friday, August 20, 2010

Music that Builds

This morning, while still in my comfy pajamas, I sat down to the piano to tickle a few keys. I have LOTS of music books to play from and some of them take me back to my younger years when I was developing as a new believer and music was a primary vein of building into me.

As I began to play I was overwhelmed and even brought to tears by the words that lifted off the page and into my heart. One song in particular took me back to camp days when I took a deeper step with God in my relationship with Him, actually making Him Lord of my life. The words and music were recalling my initial commitment to Christ but with a deeper realization to be pure. Read for yourself:

Verse 1:

According to Thy loving kindness, Father, have mercy on my sinful, wretched soul. Make me to know once more Thy joy and gladness, blot out my sin, oh cleanse and make me whole.


Chorus:

I humbly now acknowledge by transgression. Against thee only Father, is my sin. Restore to me the joy of my salvation. Oh purify my life, without, within.


Verse 2:

A contrite heart I offer Thee, dear Father, Oh hide Thy face from all my sin I pray.

According to Thy tender love and mercy, Oh pardon, Lord, this soul that went astray.


So I must ask the question — What songs have been powerful in your life? Even thinking about it causes me to look at all the music I love to listen to and ask, “How is this affecting me?” Am I a better person today because of the music that is building into my life? I’d love to hear from you.

Cathy Bytwerk
Song: Oh Purify My Life (Psalm 51), Cuban melody, Harmonized by R.C. Savage

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Unconditional Love

I just recently listened to a song by Kari Jobe called “You Are for Me.” Part of the chorus is You are for me … I know you will never forsake me in my weakness.

God never forsaking me in my weakness is the hardest thing for me to grasp as a Christian. Why is it that so many of us feel like we don’t measure up to God’s love? I struggle with many things and ideals of this fallen world. Cattiness, discontentment, laziness are all things I have repeatedly asked God for forgiveness. This constant struggle often makes me feel like I’m not worthy of God’s love. I think this may be true for a lot of women; so many of us feel unworthy but I think God’s love can shine the most brightly amidst that brokenness.

Romans 8:38-39 says:

“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.” 

I need to always be reminded of this verse. He will never give up on me because I don’t measure up. He loves me at my worst, and He loves me at my best. Nothing can or will change that.

Nichole Richardson

Monday, August 16, 2010

Be Nice!

It’s no secret that the nicer you are to others, the happier you’ll be. Even a cheerful “good morning!” can brighten someone’s day. It doesn’t matter who you come across, whether it’s a grumpy salesperson, a rude coworker, a friend that you don’t really care for, or someone who cut you off on the road … be nice!! You might not want to, and you might feel weird doing it, but that’s when you need to the most: you need to show them kindness.

Please, the next time you feel like saying something smart or sarcastic, STOP! Those words are like seeds, and when you speak them you plant weeds of discontent and unhappiness in your own heart. Instead, plant seeds of happiness through acts of kindness, and I promise that you will reap a life that is more loving and happy.

Lately, I’ve noticed that we use social networks as vehicles to perpetuate a lot of negativity. I read things people write on Facebook and the status updates are mostly angry and generally negative — “my job sucks,” “I hate________”, “______is stupid.” Many times these are close friends and family saying these things.

People are so empty of love and it hurts me to see so many people unhappy. I challenge you that if you have a Facebook account, post something encouraging today! Take initiative and grow happiness in your life by sharing love and kindness with others. If someone is pouring out negative, discouraging, hurtful words your way, choose to be nice. Wherever you go, whoever you interact with (friends, coworkers, strangers, etc.), take a minute to show kindness and plant seeds of happiness. Not only will you be known as a nice person, but more importantly you will be a happy and kind person!

Andrea Perry

Friday, August 13, 2010

Am I Willing to be Wounded?

One day, my friend Wendy was chatting about what God was teaching her when she said something that totally arrested me. “The question is,” she said, “Are you willing to be wounded so that someone else can be healed?”

The Holy Spirit nudged me; a hundred thoughts flooded my mind. I knew I would “take the hit” for my children; hasn’t every mom told her sick or injured child, “If I could take the pain for you, I would”? And I knew I wanted to say yes to Wendy’s question ... but I also knew I couldn’t.

In fact, I had been going through some painful feelings about then ... those “I’m-inept-and-a-failure” kind of feelings the enemy trips me up with from time to time. I realized that not only had I been flailing against the pain of rejection, I had not even considered what the Lord might be doing in the lives of the people I felt wounded by, much less whether my wounds were to be a part of their healing.

I’m glad the Lord caught my attention that day! He gave me a new perspective on my pain — a perspective that is more Christ-focused and less me-focused.

Isaiah 53 tells us that Jesus was wounded so that we could be healed. So if I long to be like Him —

Am I willing to absorb the hurt when my friend takes her heartache out on me? 

Am I willing to answer with tenderness when my husband comes home in a bad mood after a hard day? 

Can I remain silent and pray rather than defend myself when I’m being blasted by someone in pain? 

The question is, am I willing to be like Christ by allowing myself to be wounded for someone else’s sake? I want to say, “Yes!” Now, Lord, help me to stretch my arms out wide the next time the opportunity comes.

Anne Cody

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Trust Signs

Have you seen the Lottery billboards along the highway? I regularly drive past two of them, and have gotten lost in thought as I've considered those big numbers. When I have seen mulit-multi-million dollar jackpots advertised, my mind has begun playing with the idea of what I could do if I had that kind of money. I’ve mused, “Wouldn’t it be nice to not worry about the kids needing new shoes again? How wonderful it would be if I didn’t need to be concerned about how we were going to pay for this and that.”

It isn’t as though I wanted to get really extravagant and buy lots of things we don’t need. I just thought, “If we had all that money, I wouldn’t need to worry.”

And, wouldn’t that be nice?

But as soon as that thought came into my head, God spoke to my heart. It was as if He was saying, “Karen, you already don’t need to worry. Haven’t I always provided exactly what you needed? Have any of your worries ever become realities? My timing has not always been as you like it. I know sometimes you’ve wondered how I was going to come through for you. But I always have, dear one. I have never failed. You don’t need to worry. I am always faithful. If you had all that money, you wouldn’t need to trust.”

Oh, I knew He was right! I struggle with trusting. But God showed me so tenderly in that moment that I don’t need to worry. I need only to trust. Because HE is faithful.

I realize we all have different worry triggers. Finances may not be your issue. Whatever it is for you, as you consider your trigger, may I encourage you to turn it into a statement of faith? This is how I’m doing it: Now, each time I see those billboards I proclaim, “I trust YOU, God!”

Karen Hossink

Monday, August 9, 2010

Taking the Plunge

On our trip to Italy, my husband and I went to a chain of towns called the Cinque Terre (meaning Five Lands). These five towns were connected by trails, one being along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

Let’s get some things clear — I am no athlete! I am not agile; I will fall. I don’t like to run. I am not fast and can’t jump very high. There are, however, two things I can do well — I am a good swimmer and I could walk all day. So when it comes to hiking and swimming, I am your girl.

During our hike through these towns there was a spot where Nick and I observed people jumping off of the pier, swimming out to a buoy, and back. My husband said “I will if you will; you first.” Of course, I had to take him up on this challenge and show him how it was done.

So we got to the pier, and I got on the edge to jump. I was so nervous, my heart was pounding, and my protective instincts were telling me to run back to the dock. I didn’t know the water temperature or even how deep it was, but I was determined to jump in anyway. I said a little prayer and dove in. The water was freezing but exhilarating! I swam out to the buoy, touched it, and then swam frantically to safety.




When I got out of the water Nick asked me how it was. I responded very calmly, “Oh, no big deal” (as I am trying not to hyperventilate). This prompted my husband to dive too, but he dove from a rock higher than I did (show off!).

Don’t let fear keep you on the dock! Take the plunge! Be daring! If I can, you certainly can too!

Michelle Heriford

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Peace That Only Comes from God

Last month I wrote an entry on “Fruit of the Spirit … Peace” and talked about my friend who had Frontal Lobe Dementia and ALS. Sandy died in July at age 62 with her husband and two adult children by her side. Even greater than family, Sandy has had the Lord with her this entire journey. God ushered her into Paradise with that peace that passes all understanding.

Mark, Sandy’s husband, called me 20 minutes after Sandy had passed away, and I cried with him and said how sorry I was for his loss. After Jim and I each talked to Mark, we decided to go to the house to hug him and the children. When we arrived, Sandy’s body was still there and Mark was by her side holding her hand. He insisted that we come in to see the look of peace on her face. He kept saying how beautiful she looked and that the pain had left her. He was right, she was lovely. Her color was perfect and there were absolutely no wrinkles on her face; it was like porcelain! I have never been around a person so close to their death and have feared what it would be like. It was awesome … a God moment!

I remembered the Bible Study that Sandy and I had worked on just a few weeks earlier in Isaiah 43:1-7 where God said that He created us, He loves us, He protects us, and that we are to Fear Not. I had reserved my Monday mornings to meet with Sandy and have coffee and Bible Study for more than a year. I will miss her terribly but I know where she is, and I gain peace from that promise. Please pray for Mark, Matt, Bethany and the grandchildren.

Patricia Harvey

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Life Legacy

We have a program at the hospice where I work that allows a patient to leave a recorded “story” of their life. They can talk about whatever they want — how they grew up, their family, their regrets, what they’ve lived through, whatever they want to communicate to their family. We call the program Life Legacy.

I recently heard a sermon series where the theme was life legacy; what legacy will you leave behind. The pastor focused on Adam and Eve and their families on down to Jacob. Deceit, lies and jealousy are rampant in their legacy. From Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Esau, Laban and his daughters … wow. Family behaviors and sins can be so invasive. Imagine Jacob lying in his hospice bed and reliving his life story — would have loved to have been there for that one!

These sermons have gotten me to thinking about what things in my life mirror that of my family. Some good and for sure some bad! I have some behaviors and sins that mirror my parents, aunts, uncles and, of course, some of my very own! It all seemed a little overwhelming at first. I was thinking, “Oh, Lord, I can’t change these things! They are too big!” But then I remembered I don’t have to. If I confess my sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive me and change me. I guess that’s what I want my Life Legacy to be — that I depended on God to do what I couldn’t do and any great changes that ever take place in my life are because of Him.

Sally Hall

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer Pizzazz

What can be more fun then having some friends over to share a summer day? God has wired me for hospitality and I love using that blessed gift. When my guests come I like to have some food and beverages on hand that don’t require much preparation and are different than the usual fare. Here’s a great beverage that gives a lot of pizzazz!

Lemon-Lime Pizzazz:

1 pint (2 cups) lime sherbet, slightly softened
2 T. presweetened lemonade flavor drink mix
1 C. club soda
1 C. coarsely crushed ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Pour into chilled glasses (put the glasses in the freezer for about 30 minutes). Serve immediately.

Makes four ½-cup servings
Calories: 170 (low-fat)

If I have some colorful straws on hand I stick those in the glasses.

How about you? What hospitality pizzazz do you extend to friends?

Cathy Bytwerk

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hey Look Honey, There’s the Pope!

My husband and I just got back from a trip to Italy. We had been planning this for several months and had quite a jam-packed, 10-day itinerary planned. There was no room for error.

Our last day in Rome was a Sunday and we were headed to St. Peter’s Basilica. Yes in hind-sight it was a poor idea to visit the Vatican’s church on a Sunday morning, but our schedule didn’t allow for much else.

When we got to the church, the courtyard was beginning to fill up with people. We toured the church then climbed the dome to get an aerial view of Rome. After climbing about 550 stairs we got to the top of the dome. When we looked down, the courtyard was really getting full of people. When we came back down and attempted to exit the courtyard we were completely stuck. There was no going in or out!

The next few things happened all at once. We heard some regal music, everyone looked up toward one spot and the crowd went WILD! A lady behind me started yelling “Papa, Papa.” Yes, we saw the Pope. He addressed the crowd, gave a blessing and 15 minutes later he was gone.


This reminded me of Proverbs 16:9: We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

We may think we have a well put together itinerary or plan, but God sometimes guides through interesting and unexpected steps to get there. We can either accept the steps graciously or not.

I thought my husband was going to blow a fuse due to the delay in our itinerary. But to my surprise he expressed how amazing it was to see the Pope. That ended up being one of the most memorable parts of our trip.


Michelle Heriford

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Loving to Distraction

Sometimes when you think your life is just how you want it, something happens and you realize that even though your life is good, it’s nothing compared to what God wants you to have! Have you ever wanted something so badly that it started consuming every minute of your life? That every morning you woke up thinking about it, and when you talked with your friends it always came up in conversation? Have you ever wanted something in your life so much that you would give up anything for it? I'm talking about big stuff here — car, relationships, career, etc.? I’m not sure if I’m at that place or not, but I know I want that kind of distracting love for God in my life!

My desire is to love and live for God in such a way that it is distracting for those I interact with. I want to be a light so that no matter where I am I won’t be able to not talk about how good God has been to me. I know people that, no matter what they do or say, they bring God into it. If only I could be like that.

Truth: When you give God glory, something happens. When you focus on how great He is and all He’s done and is doing, something happens. It changes the way you think and the way you act. Your worldview changes, and people notice because His glory shines through you.

Jesus, take away my passions for the things of this world and increase my passion for You! Make my prayer this — “I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.”

Andrea Perry

Monday, July 26, 2010

Under Construction

Have you driven on I-96 near US-127 lately? Are you tired of the construction, too? I am so ready for it to get back to normal. It isn’t fun to get stuck in traffic when I am on a tight schedule, especially when I have forgotten about the construction and haven’t built “just-in-case” minutes into my drive time.

But do you know what God has done while I’ve been waiting in my van? Besides giving me opportunity to be impressed with the total reconstruction of a highway (never knew there were big black tarps, under a layer of stones, under all that concrete!), He’s given me time to think about my own reconstruction. And I realized I get just as impatient with the time it’s taking to re-make me, as I do with the work that is being done on I-96. Maybe more so, if I’m totally honest.

God saved me from my life of sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. And I am so thankful! Now God is making me into the woman He wants me to be. I am so thankful for that, too! But sometimes I wish God would just zap me and be done with it. I wish it wouldn’t take my whole lifetime for Him to perfect me; I just want to be finished.

Yet the highway construction reminds me — as the workers break up the old highway and haul it away, bring in new dirt and flatten it out, as they roll out the tarp and lay the stones, and finally pour the new concrete — so God is working a thorough and complete process in me. And I can trust He knows just what He’s doing.

How about you? Do you struggle with the wait? Will you trust Him, anyway?

Karen Hossink

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fruit of the Spirit … Peace

I have just returned from a Bible Study — “Fruit of the Spirit” by Hazel Offner — with a dear friend. My friend has been diagnosed with Frontal Lobe Dementia and ALS. She is in her early 60s with a loving husband, two grown children, and four small grandchildren and one on the way.

I stopped at a local coffee shop to pick up coffee and scones to take along (I told you that I have a coffee ministry!) As we finished our coffee and got into God’s Word, I prayed silently for God to lead the study and give me the right words to say to comfort Sandy.

God is so good and not only did He give Words that were a comfort to Sandy, He gave me Words of comfort as well. We talked and cried together and the Holy Spirit ministered to both of us.

Isaiah 43:1-7: But now, this is what the Lord says … He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth … everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
The lesson spoke of the adversities of this life and His Word spoke of the One who gives us peace in spite of the adversities. We serve a mighty God! He still speaks through His Holy Word. I hope that you gained peace from this scripture; I certainly did.

Patricia Harvey

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gifts for a Father

As I contemplated what to give my dad for a Father’s Day present (a man who has everything and buys what he doesn’t have and wants), I was reminded of a very special time with him several years ago.

My dad was down at the pond on his property cutting trees, mowing, hauling wood, playing on his tractor. This is what he lives for. It is really how I connect with my dad, working outside, being with him doing that kind of work. Well, I knew he was down at the pond, so I walked the trail to go see him one afternoon. As I heard the tractor, I began to run. I couldn’t wait to join him doing his work! Being with him in his domain, connecting with him, sharing time with him, deepening our relationship.

I’ve had a few episodes like this with my Heavenly Father; fewer though than I’m proud to admit. One time I was at a singles retreat, and we were all told to go off somewhere and take some time to be with our Lord. I actually ran to a secluded area in a field so that I could be quiet and be with my Heavenly Father. Being with Him in His domain, connecting with Him, sharing with Him, deepening our relationship.

Both times are seared into my memory as beautiful memories of how much a girl loves her dad and wants nothing more than to connect with him on a deep level. Sometimes our earthly dad isn’t capable of that for many reasons. But our Heavenly Dad … He’s always capable and willing for that connection, devotion and time spent with Him. It’s the best gift we can give Him.

Sally Hall

Monday, July 19, 2010

How to Lose Weight Without Overdoing It

Who among us is not interested in shedding a few pounds now and then? I certainly am. Of course, there are many plans out there but if you need some humor to get started, take a few tips from my friend Walt Wiley. Let me know if these suggestions work!
 
  • When you get out of bed, climb over the headboard.
  • Keep a scale in the bathroom; every morning step over it.
  • Try opening any cellophane bag.
  • Stretching is important. Reach for the ringing phone without taking your feet off the desk.
  • Shop at stores that do not have automatic opening doors.
  • Try opening bottles with childproof caps.
  • Throw a Frisbee. The next day go look for it.
  • Get off the elevator two or three floors before your stop and walk over to the other elevator.
 
You may be asking yourself, “What’s so spiritual about this?” Here are a couple of verses that may be taken out of context but will give you a fun perspective.
 
“Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 (KJV)
 
“And they shall eat bread by weight, and with care.” Ezekiel 4:16b (KJV)
 
“A false balance is abomination to the Lord; but a just weight is his delight.” Proverbs 11:1 (KJV)
 
May your weight loss be plentiful!
 
Cathy Bytwerk

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bags

Ever wonder why you tend to collect more of one kind of thing? Last week, while cleaning out my extra closet, I noticed an unusually high volume of bags — duffel bags, backpacks, rolling bags of every size and shape. I guess it would be safe to call me a “bag lady.”

Ironically, God showed me how I tend to package my worries and problems into similar sorts of bags. Some burdens I can quickly throw into a tote bag (for easy removal) and others are just so huge that they require industrial-strength wheels to carry them around. Still, other concerns seem so large that they require a storage unit to lock them up with a deadbolt!

God shows us numerous times in His word His desire for us to trust Him with our burdens. But while I have experienced many breakthroughs in my walk when I surrender my burdens, it seems inevitable that I return to old patterns and start packing things up again. It is not until the bags become so heavy once again, that I am reminded of His desire to carry them.

A friend shared this moving video about bags and I thought you may enjoy it too.

Sheryl Patry

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Rollercoaster We Call “Life”

I am certain most everyone in my age bracket (early 30s) has been to Cedar Point at some point. I remember going there in the eighth grade with the junior high youth group. It was a BLAST! The rain, cold and motion sickness couldn’t bring us down. We were having the time of our lives!

I am convinced that junior high brains are not completely developed. I wouldn’t even consider going to Cedar Point today. I get motion sick just turning around in a circle. And in the rain ... doubt it! My hair would look terrible!

Life for me right now is a little bit of a rollercoaster, sometimes exciting, sometimes overwhelming and scary! I have some great things going on right now, great friends, great husband, a trip to Italy and a little baby on the way. But I also have some really sad things too. My grandmother is in hospice from a stroke. This has been very difficult for me and for my family. It makes me feel guilty for going on my long-awaited and planned vacation fearing that she will die while I am gone.

Where is God on the rollercoaster of life when it feels out of control? I always try to go back to what I know about God. I know God is good, and even in the bad, terrible situations He is still there. Sometimes that is hard to believe, especially when the rollercoaster is out of control or stuck on the top. So where is God on the rollercoaster? I think God is right in the rollercoaster with us. He is sitting next to us with His hands up screaming with excitement, holding our hand when we are scared, being the seatbelt holding us in or the mechanic to get us un-stuck. Bottom line, He is there, and He is good!

Michelle Heriford

Monday, July 12, 2010

Under the Weather

This one is for all the women out there fighting a summer cold. Yes, THE cold. You know the one I’m talking about. This is how I amuse myself when I’m under the weather:
 
  • Practice swallowing, just to make sure I still can.
  • Sleep in bed.
  • Sleep on the couch.
  • Sleep on the bathroom floor.
  • Read articles online that tell me how to get well fast.
  • Wonder why there is a difference in temperature between my two ears; it can’t be human.
  • Watch my eyes dilate in the bathroom mirror until I get dizzy and have to lie down again.
  • Blog (obviously).
  • Watch infomercials and consider buying a juicer. Argue with myself that if I had a juicer, I’d take in more vitamins and would never get sick.
  • Take meds and set alarm for four hours.
  • Sleep some more.
  • Wake up four hours later and try a different brand of medicine because the last one didn’t provide relief.
  • Read medicine labels to find meds that are compatible with each other so I can take more.
  • Drink water like it’s going out of style.
  • Give up on meds and dig out the vitamin supplements.
  • Avoid computer for extended periods of time as the screen makes my eyeballs feel like they’re coated in thumbtacks.
  • Practice free-throwing my used tissues into a wastebasket.
  • Sing, if it doesn’t hurt. I have the best singing voice when I'm sick.
  • Think about making chicken soup, but then realize I’m too tired to do it and it doesn’t sound that great. Plus, I’d have to go to the store and get ingredients.
 
If any of you ladies are feeling under the weather, I would be happy to bring you some hot chicken soup or at the very least (and most) pray with you for a speedy recovery. Please just indicate it in the comments section below and I’ll get in touch with you. God bless!
 
Andrea Perry

Friday, July 9, 2010

Content with Last Year’s Sandals

When I was a kid, I got $2 for allowance. I could spend one dollar on whatever I wanted (usually comic books) and one dollar had to go in my savings account. As I got older, my dad drilled into my head the importance of putting money into retirement at a young age — depositing just $10 a paycheck into a 401(k) would benefit me well in my later years.

Perhaps because of these lessons or perhaps because I’m a steady and reliable first born, I’ve had very little debt and usually have money in the bank. However, 18 months ago, I quit my job and started my own business. It was definitely God’s leading and not something I did on a whim (steady, reliable, first born — I don’t do whims!). The last year and a half has been an adventure in trusting God, but in the last couple of months, I’ve struggled to not worry about money and be content with where I am financially. There are things I’d like to do around my house, my car’s mileage is approaching the 100,000 mark, and my black sandals are getting a little embarrassing. But in June, Blake Ashdown preached a message that reminded me of how much I have. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.’”

Even if my savings account is not what it once was and my car is not new and my sandals make my mom shake her head, I am so thankful that I have a car to drive (that is paid for) and shoes to wear. Beyond that, the God of the universe says He will never leave me. That’s worth more than a 401(k) any day!

Patty Dextrom

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Prayer Cues

There has been a bright red cardinal hanging around on my deck a lot lately, so I’ve been praying for my friend, Angela. You see, quite some time ago Angela was going through a hard time and she told me a story about a bright red cardinal showing up outside her window on a dreary day. The bright red, contrasted against the grey sky, brought joy to Angela because red is her favorite color, and she was just sure God sent that cardinal into her view to remind Angela of His great love for her.
 
Ever since I heard that story, every time I see a cardinal I think of Angela — and I pray for her. The cardinal has become a prayer cue for me. I have lots of stories like Angela’s that have produced prayer cues.
 
  • When I see 11:11 on the clock, I pray for my husband.
  • When I hear the song “Speak to Me,” I pray for Rosemary.
  • When I hear “His Grace is Enough,” I pray for Leslie.
  • I pray for Kati whenever I hear someone say, “Bummer!”
  • I pray for my sons anytime I hear the song, “Wait and See.”
  • Anytime I come across the word “jealous,” I pray for Oprah. (Yes, “the” Oprah.)
  • Seeing “Selah” moves me to pray for Greta and Selah.
 
These prayer cues have become a special thing between God and me too. I feel like we’re a team. When a prayer cue surfaces, it’s as if He’s saying to me, Karen, your friend needs Me right now. Please pray. So I pray. Even though I may not know the specific need, my Father does. And I trust that He is able to handle the situation. What a joy it is to participate in His work!
 
Do you have any prayer cues?
 
Karen Hossink

Monday, July 5, 2010

It’s Rarely about the Coffee

Women are a curious bunch but God made us this way. When we call a friend to meet for coffee, it is rarely about the coffee. We mostly want the conversation and the friendship. We seem to have a need to talk to someone we trust and isn’t “over coffee,” the very best way to do that? In fact, I told my husband recently that I have a Coffee Ministry.

For the first 30 years of our marriage, Jim never drank coffee. It just didn’t seem right to me for us to be out on our weekly date night, talking after dinner, and him having a Coke while I was holding my hot coffee. He even offered to have his Coke served in a cup, but I said that that wouldn’t do. Out of love for me, he has developed a taste for coffee, as long as it has plenty of French Vanilla creamer in it.
But as much as I love having coffee and talking with Jim, I still have the need to get together with a friend now and then and have girl talk. When a friend calls you and ask to meet for coffee, don’t say, “I already had my coffee today.” Realize that it isn’t really about the coffee; she probably has a desire to talk and she chose you!

PS: Nicole Johnson’s book, Fresh Brewed Life is excellent. I have two extra copies from a Bible study that I did. If you would like one, let me know.

Patricia Harvey