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


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

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Forgiven Tractor Debt

My husband, Jon, and I needed a new tractor bad. Not a want, a need. A new house with 4.5 acres and lots of mowing, hauling, moving snow … you get the picture. We were using an ancient lawn mower that had belonged to Jon’s dad, which sounded like something from the Beverly Hillbillys! My parents offered to buy us a brand new Kubota garden tractor. After much deliberation, Jon decided that we’d accept the gift, but we would pay back the debt on a monthly basis with interest.

A year later, we knew we needed a safer car for me to drive, but we couldn’t really afford both car and tractor payments, so we decided to wait a year for the car. My parents wanted to forgive our debt on the tractor so we could focus extra money on a car. Jon is very frugal and responsible when it comes to debt, but he also struggles with accepting kindness and forgiveness from others. (Don’t tell him I said that!) So, he really struggled with this “forgiveness of debt” from my Dad. My dad kept telling us it was his money and his prerogative to forgive the debt. In the end, Jon allowed us to accept the gift of the “forgiven tractor debt,” and we were able to purchase a newer, safer car to drive.

This led me to thinking about how we are with God’s amazing offer to forgive our debt. We fight him, we think it’s too good to be true, we don’t deserve it, our debt is far too big, we haven’t worked hard enough and the list goes on. Don’t you wonder if God thinks to himself, “It’s my prerogative to do this; who are you to put conditions on it”? He has forgiven our debt because He loves us and because he can. All we have to do is accept it.

Sally Hall