First Encounter OR Second Hand Faith?

Today’s post is written by blogger Carol Dunfee.  This post was first published on www.caroldunfee.com.
I grew up hearing stories about my grandpa. He passed away when I was a newborn, so I never got to meet him. My mom has told me that he was fun-loving. He treasured his two daughters. He loved music and often entertained his family with his guitar, his harmonica, and his singing. My mom has fond memories of singing along with him. She honored his love of music by singing with me when I was little. She encouraged me to dance and sing to the music playing in our house.  My grandpa had an indirect effect on me even though I never knew him.
Then there was Gramma. I didn’t have to rely on stories to learn about her. I got to meet her in person. She was my hero. She made everyone around her feel special and loved. She worked hard tending her enormous garden, canning fruits and vegetables, sewing her own clothes, and preparing the most amazing meals. She loved God with all her heart. I wish I had recordings of all our late-night conversations where she told me about her history and about her God. I knew her FACE TO FACE.
Many of us who are “religious”, know Jesus as I know my grandfather. I have heard wonderful things about him, but I never got to KNOW him personally. Religion tells us stories about the great things Jesus did while He was here on earth. It tells us that He is God’s Son and that He died on the cross and rose again to pay the price for our sins. It tells us that if we confess our sins and accept Him as Savior, then He will give us a home in heaven when we die.
Second-hand stories are great. They connect us to those we could never meet otherwise. I know who my grandpa was because my mom told me about him. Many of us learn about God through second-hand stories. These stories help shape our morals and values. They give us an anchor.
However, I don’t want to know my Creator only through second-hand stories. I want to KNOW Him first-hand. I want to hear His voice speak to me as I read the Bible and as I ask Him for guidance. I want to see His hand working in my family. I want to have His abundant life NOW!
He is not a list of rules or traditions. He is not defined by organized religion. He can work through those things, but He is not confined by them.
I want my children to know that He is real and available RIGHT NOW. How will they know if I don’t show them? I need to tell them the stories, but I also need to go a step further. I need to let them see that He is real in my everyday life. I need to continue to pray that they encounter His love and power for themselves.
Jesus is a real person. He loves you. Don’t take my word for it. Don’t take your pastor’s or priest’s word for it. Search for Him yourself.
“But if from there you seek the LORD your God,
you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.”  Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV
A note from Heather:  I hope Carol’s message today challenged you to not settle for second hand faith but to get your own personal encounter with Jesus.  When I think of first encounters, I think of Paul and Silas when they were beaten and thrown into the inner prison in Macedonia (which is the lowest, darkest, grotesque of all prisons) with shackles fastened to their feet.  They were imprisoned in a deep dark pit for healing a girl who was possessed.
Despite being persecuted and beaten for their beliefs they started to pray and sing hymns of praise to God while they were in this deep dark pit of a prison!  Their prayers and songs of praise echoed throughout the prison.
Suddenly an earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. All the doors were opened and their chains fell off (Acts 16:26).  The guard keeping watch trembled at the sight of this and asked “What must I do to be saved?”  Paul replied “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).  In verses 33-34, it goes on and says this man took the prisoners home and washed their wounds.  Immediately he and his whole household were baptized.  The jailer then brought them a meal and was filled with joy because he and his whole household believed in God.
Talk about First Encounters!  We can’t just take the world’s word for who God is, we have to seek him ourselves to obtain our own testimonies.  When we have our own personal encounter with God, we believe because of our FAITH, not because of what someone tells us.

Have you had a first encounter with God?

Do you have your own personal relationship with God?

Do you have a personal testimony to share with others?

Meet Carol

 

I am a wife, mom, piano teacher, and blogger for Alaska Christian Women’s Ministry.  When I am not teaching piano, I live the crazy life of a wife and mom of three. I love it when life is neat and organized, but I find that rarely happens. I am learning to love the chaos.  To read more about Carol visit her blog at www.caroldunfee.com.

 

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A version of this post was first published on www.akchristianwomensministry.com.

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Does Our Faith Save Us?

The other week I went to a special viewing of the movie “Facing the Darkness.” It was a documentary produced by Samaritan’s Purse about the Ebola Crisis Outbreak in 2013/2014. It featured Dr. Brantly who was the first documented American to enter into the United States with this deadly disease. He was extremely close to death until a major breakthrough occurred.  An experimental drug emerged that could possibly save his life.  His only options were to do nothing and die at the expense of the disease or be given an experimental infusion drug only tested on animals.

I can’t imagine being in this situation, knowing you were going to possibly die in both situations. Dr. Brantly took a leap of faith and chose the latter, which ended up saving his life. He became the face of Ebola all over world. Dr. Brantly contracting Ebola showed the world, no one is excluded from this disease, it can happen to anyone.

His diagnosis was the catalyst for the Center for Disease Control pursuing a cure for a disease that spread and killed people at a very rapid rate. Because of the Dr. Brantly situation there is now a vaccine created for this virus.

At the end of the movie Dr. Brantly said something so profound. He said, “Faith is not something that makes you safe. My faith did not save me but got me through it. My Faith actually brought me to the Ebola crisis.”

Dr. Brantley’s situation asks deeper questions.

Is our faith enough to save us?

So many people in the Bible can ask the same question.

Did Daniel’s faith save him from being thrown in the lion’s den? No

Did Shadrack, Meschack, and Abendago’s faith save them from being thrown in the fiery furnace? No

Did the Israelites’ faith save them from being attacked by the Egyptians? No

Did Jesus’ faith prevent him from being crucified on the cross? No

You may be thinking, then what is the point in having faith if it doesn’t keep me safe?

These examples of faith did not PREVENT them from being put in scary, dangerous circumstances. Standing firm in their faith DID PROTECT them and allow for God’s greater plan to happen.

If Daniel didn’t have faith we would have never seen God’s power to shut the mouths of lions.

If Shadrack, Meshack and Abendago didn’t have faith we would had never seen God’s power protect them from being burned in the fiery furnace and how God was with them.

If the Israelites didn’t have faith we would have never seen God’s ability to part the Red Sea providing a way out from their enemies.

If Jesus refused to put his trust in His Father’s hands, we would have missed out on the greatest plan that ever existed—our eternal salvation.

Think about it. Each example of faith, including Dr. Brantly’s brought them to the heart of a crisis where their lives were at stake. Through each act of faith, we were able to see how trusting in God’s plan moves mountains and makes the impossible, possible.

How big is your faith?

Matthew 17:20 “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Our faith allows God’s greater plan to play out. Our faith does not save us, but God’s grace does.

Ephesians 2:8-9. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Our faith will not SAVE us from our bad circumstances or GUARANTEE us a life without struggles. Our FAITH will not prevent us from being thrown into a pit of lions, a fiery furnace, being attacked by our enemies or contracting a deadly disease. Having faith does not exempt us from harsh realities of this world.

Our faith DOES allow God to be in control and puts the trust in HIS capabilities. Our faith is the very thing that will get us through to the other side and live in the abundant blessings God has to offer. It doesn’t matter what circumstances we are up against, when we have faith we become OVERCOMERS in Christ. Our faith allows us to experience PEACE in the storms and JOY in our struggles because of what God has already gone ahead of us and done.

Where will you allow your faith to take you?

Our faith may lead us into scary, dangerous places.

Our faith will never take us where God’s grace cannot protect us.Click To Tweet

God’s grace and love are greater and bigger than anything in this world.

1 John 4:4 “ You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

How has having faith in God protected you in your hard circumstances?

All you need is to have faith the size of a mustard seed and you will see the mountains move.

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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Military Edition {Giveaway}

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him” quote Abraham Lincoln.

I am so excited to announce the story I submitted last year to Chicken Soup for the Soul has been accepted and published in the Military Edition!  I am humbled and honored to have our story alongside other men and women who have served and been the force behind the forces.  And I’m thankful to have another opportunity to be published in the Chicken Soup Series!

I can’t believe how completely different our lives look now.

Never in my life did I think I’d be in this place I am today.  Never in a million years did I think I would be living in Alaska, living on a military base with my husband serving in the United States Air Force.  Never did I imagine all that we would see and learn just by taking a step of faith out of our comfort zone.  Only God.

You just never know what God has planned.

Even though we left everything we knew–family, friends, kid’s school, our home, jobs, etc.  We wouldn’t trade the military or Alaska for anything.  Coming up here we have become a closer knit family.  Moving to a place where you know no one, makes a family depend on each other in ways you never had before.  We also get to meet amazing military families who sacrifice their lives and serve just so we can be safe.

There is so much more to our story than what is published.  God has been writing our story for quite some time and is always full of surprises!

Life wouldn’t be life if there weren’t curve balls, sharp turns or detours would it?

As I am writing these words, we are getting ready to embark on our new journey to Colorado!  In fact we could really use your prayers.  There are a lot of unknowns of where we will live and what school our kids will attend.   We are trusting in God’s provision and leaving it in His hands.  Even though we don’t know how all the details are going to work, we know God has it already worked out for us.

There is something powerful in doing something bigger than yourself.

Alaska has taught us many things especially the art of camping and how to be prepared in all kinds of situations (wild life, negative degree weather).  We will be driving with our two kids and dog in our RV through Canada this summer, stopping by national parks along the way.  It is bittersweet for us to leave all the wonderful friends who have been our new military family to embark on our new adventure.  But we are excited for our new adventure that awaits.

Sometimes I question if we have to move every 3 to 4 years how are we able to grow roots?  I believe God uses us wherever we are.  He allows us to bloom wherever we are planted growing our roots deeper in every step of faith and act of obedience.  I will cherish the relationships and friendships we have made along the way and carry them in my heart wherever I go.  Each journey we go on grows us and prepares us for what God has in store (hence why we named our dog Journey ; ).

Our Journey Girl

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Unexpected Easter Blessings

Have you ever received a blessing from God that was beyond measure than anything you have ever received?

Easter in itself is a blessing that I will always cherish when God gave his only son for us. But there are two Easter blessings that will forever be engraved in my heart.

Last Easter, it was our second year living in Alaska. Last Easter was also my husband and I wedding anniversary. The day started out like any other day for me. I got up early intending to go to the sunrise Easter service then come back and all go together as a family. This morning however everyone got up early and somehow someway we all got dressed and made it to the sunrise service at the chapel on base on time. On this particular day it also had been snowing. I had experienced white Christmases before but never a white Easter.

Have you ever had one of those amazing moments orchestrated by God?

Well this day was one of those moments. As the choir was singing, they sang a song about how much Jesus loves us and washes our sins white as snow. It was snowing outside on Easter Sunday, my whole family was with me, it was our anniversary, the choir was praising Jesus—it was one of the most beautifully orchestrated moments in my life. Because I knew that this orchestrated moment was never going to happen the way it was at this moment again. Then it happened. I started bawling like a baby. Once I started crying I couldn’t stop. I was so overwhelmed with emotion and the beautiful gift God had given me that day it was all I could do but not cry. My husband looked over at me and said “What’s wrong? Are you okay?” I said “yes.” He said, “then why are you crying?” I said, “because everything is just so beautiful!”

It was the one of the best Easter blessings God ever gave me besides sending Jesus.

Have you ever gone through a tragedy, then God turned it into your biggest blessing?

Easter 2011 was the worst and best Easter we have ever experienced. If you can only imagine, in April 2011 my husband and I endured the loss of our son from a fatal genetic kidney disease. Even though our son fought a good fight for almost 2 weeks, God had other plans for him to be with him in heaven. Our son died in our arms on Holy Thursday. It was the most surreal experience to go through knowing Jesus sacrificed his life for us on the cross on Good Friday while mourning the loss of our son. It was like our son and Jesus were going through the death, the burial and resurrection at the same time.

“He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” Luke 24:6-7

Then 3 days later if you can even believe it, we all got up and went to church Easter Sunday. Needless to say the emotions of our son’s loss and honoring what Jesus had done for us were intense. As I was sitting in church that day, I have heard the Easter story hundreds of times before but never had I looked at the death of Jesus from God’s eyes. As I was sitting in my seat mad at God, I asked him ‘why did you take our son?’ After asking this question, I realized if there was anyone who knew the pain I was going through it was God. God understood the loss of a child as well.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,”

I now had a glimpse of the pain God went through when he sacrificed his own son for us. This pain brought me to my knees and viewed God in a whole new light. This pain gave me a new perspective of what God really did for us and how much he loves us.

John 3:16 says,“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

Even though the pain of losing our son was unbearable, that Easter Sunday turned into one of the most amazing blessings God could have ever given to us. I don’t think the timing of our son’s death was a coincidence. Celebrating Easter the same weekend our son died, encapsulated everything God had already gone ahead of us and done. Easter has a whole new meaning for me. Not only is it a celebration of what God did for us but also the celebration of our son living in heaven. What an amazing gift from God to let us know our son is safe in the arms of Jesus. He is taking care of him. He is no longer suffering or in pain.

“From his abundance we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16 NLTClick To Tweet

Heaven also took on a whole new meaning. Heaven isn’t just a far away place we get to visit one day, it is real right now. Heaven is where our son lives right now and where we will see him again one day. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord in our lives, heaven is a place that is right here right now. Where God’s love resides there are places of heaven here on earth.

Sometimes God’s blessings are found in the most unexpected places.

What Easter Blessing have you received?

Have you experienced an unexpected Easter Blessing? Please Share!

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are. In Him we have life to the full that is complete and everlasting. Have a blessed week!

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Yes Lord

“God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called” quote Mark Batterson.  

          Has God ever asked you do something that didn’t make sense?

About 2,000 years ago Jesus was looking to qualify the called.  He was starting his ministry on earth calling His first disciples.  He saw some fisherman fishing alongside a lake.  He then told them take the boat, out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch (Luke 5:4).  

Simon, the boat owner said to  Jesus, “We’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.  But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5).  Then something amazing happened.  Their nets began to break and their boats began to sink because they had caught so many fish (Luke 5:6-7).  

Simon and all his companions couldn’t believe what they had just witnessed.  They had been fishing all night, then Jesus came along and changed everything.  Simon fell to his knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord;  I am a sinful man!”  Simon knew he had witnessed something great and felt unworthy to be in the presence of Jesus.

Jesus said, “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.”  Matthew 4:18-20

In just three words Jesus changed the lives of these fishermen forever.  The disciples were busy making a living catching fish, then Jesus came along and said, “Come follow me,” you are now going to catch men.  Without hesitation in the both gospels of Matthew and Luke, the men dropped their nets, pulled in their boats to shore, left everything (their families, their businesses) to go follow Jesus.  

I have thought about this scenario many times. 

Why do you think God allowed these men to experience what it was like to catch the biggest catch of fish ever in their lives, to then tell them to drop their nets and walk away from everything they once knew?

This amount of fish could have made lots of money to feed their families and then some.  The fishermen prior to this had only been loosely associated with Jesus.  Jesus allowed the disciples to have a taste worldly abundance, so they would know nothing in this life could ever bless them more abundantly than what God could provide.  Dropping their nets and walking away led to the most extraordinary life ever in Jesus. 

What would you do if Jesus came along and asked you to drop everything to come follow Him?  Would you say ‘yes’?  

What courageous faith, trust and obedience these men had to just walk away.  We may not always know what lies ahead but God does. 

I can so relate to the disciples.  Three years ago God asked my husband and I, “Will you walk away?”  He said, “I know your life is comfortable, but will you leave all of your family, friends, your jobs and your life, to come follow me?”  

I’ll be honest at first, our response was ‘wow God that’s asking a lot.’  There were a lot of unknowns, where would we go?  Where would we live?  Where would we work?   When God asked us to walk away, He already orchestrated the plan, we just had to follow.  

Once we said ‘Yes Lord,’ God started opening the doors to where He was leading us.  We didn’t need to know how every detail was going to work out, because God had it under control.  We knew where God was leading us may be uncomfortable at first learning how to live in our new life.  But, we knew whatever abundant blessings we had in our comfortable life couldn’t compare to what God had in store for us.  Saying ‘yes’ to Jesus was the best decision we ever made.

His abundant blessings are always greater.  

Saying ‘Yes Lord,’ allows for God’s biggest blessings to overflow within our lives. 

Saying ‘Yes Lord,’ to whatever He is asking us to do will always leads to the most extraordinary life in Him.

Has God ever asked you to walk away and come follow Him?  

God is calling all of us to have the most extraordinary life in Him.  We don’t have to be extraordinary to do what God is asking us to do, we just have to be ready. 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:3

Coming Soon!  Some new changes to the website.  I will be doing a 4-part series of Meeting Jesus.  We will be meeting Jesus in the scriptures, our struggles, our storms and everyday lives.    

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are.  In Him we will have life to the full that is complete and everlasting.  Have a blessed week!

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Celebrate Easter with Jesus with this Family Bible Reading Plan!

7 Miracles I Have Witnessed as a Nurse

Have you ever witnessed a miracle, something so amazing, you knew it could only be God’s handiwork?  Being a nurse I can say I have been a first hand witness to some of life’s most amazing miracles.  I’ve witnessed countless births—babies taking their first breath of life as they enter into this world.  I’ve seen patients on their death bed who had no chance of survival, walk out of the hospital on their own two feet.  I’ve seen a father donate his own kidney to his son to give him a chance of life. It is an honor to be a nurse and a witness to some of life’s most precious moments that can only be explained as a miracle.  A miracle is something that cannot be explained by laws of nature but only by the divine work of God.

Here are 7 of the Most Precious Miracles I have witnessed (as a Nurse and Mother)-

1.  A Mother’s selfless act of giving her baby up for adoption–    I have worked in the operating room as a nurse anesthetist for over 13 years now and in that time, have witnessed hundreds of babies born.  I will never forget the love of the mother who gave her baby up for adoption.  I couldn’t imagine what that mother felt at that moment knowing she was giving her motherly rights away to another mother.  How selfless of the birth mother, putting her own child’s needs first before her own.  By giving up her rights she was giving another mother a chance to be a mother and a chance for a better life for the baby.  This selfless act of love reminded me of the selfless love Jesus gives us everyday.

2.  The Blind Couple-  One of the other births that I will never forget is a baby being born to a blind couple.  Both the mother and father were physically blind.  When their baby was born, they handed me their camera and asked me to take a picture of their new born child.  I literally had tears in my eyes taking the picture of their new baby, knowing they would never physically see their child with their own eyes.  What impressed upon me so much about their baby’s birth, was no amount of blindness can ever change the amount of love they had for their child.  Just because they couldn’t see their baby with their own eyes didn’t mean their love for their child was any less.  This picture of blindness showed me we may go through periods of darkness or spiritual blindness in our lives, but that doesn’t mean God ever leaves us or doesn’t love just as much.  

3.  #1 Nurse Necklace-  I will never forget the family who gave me a #1 nurse necklace.  I was a nurse on a medical floor and took care of an older gentlemen for many weeks.  This man had a very loving family. He became very ill and passed away a few weeks after being ill in the hospital.  I was so touched when the family invited another nurse and I to their father’s funeral.  I have had patients pass away before but have never been invited to their funeral.  Afterwards the family gave the other nurse and I a #1 Nurse necklace to thank us for taking care of their father.  It stirred my heart the way the family showed gratitude by giving us the necklace after their father passed away.  I never before had a family respond in that way and it moved me.  It showed the power in giving gratitude and kindness out of our grief and sorrow.  

4.  The Russian man-  I will never forget when a Russian man, whom I never met before, reached out his hand and said, “Do you believe Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior?” I said, “yes.  Then he says, “You are my sister” (while still holding my hand).  We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, adopted into God’s one big family.  It doesn’t matter if we are Catholic, Greek or Jew when we accept Jesus as our Savior, what unites us as family is the blood of Christ.  

5.  The Roll Over Accident-  Have you ever witnessed something and you know what you saw, but couldn’t believe it?  My children and I were driving down the highway one day when it was raining.  A pick-up truck about 3 car lengths in front of us lost control and flipped horizontally (3 times) on it’s side with a flat bed trailer attached to it.  When the truck and trailer stopped rolling, it laid horizontally on it’s side laying across all 3 lanes of the highway.   Not one car hit the rolled over pick-up truck.  What was so amazing, all 3 passengers inside the truck boosted themselves out of the window and walked away unharmed.  It was a bone-chilling moment, knowing the accident could have been much worse, but God protected us.  This moment showed me not only do physical seat belts keep us safe but so does God’s belt of truth when it’s worn.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.”  (Ephesians 6:14).  

6.  Brooklyn-  Our daughter Brooklyn who is almost 10 years old now, was born 8 weeks premature.  When she was born she only weighed 3 pounds 8 ounces.  She was too tiny to bring home and needed to stay in the hospital to learn how to feed and grow.  Her birth and life have nothing been short of a miracle.  Since she was born, she has alway defied the odds.  She came home after only 3 weeks (usually babies have to stay until they reach gestation).  She never needed oxygen when she was born, in fact she came out screaming!  One thing she has taught us is to trust in God’s plans.  Life may not turn out the way we planned but God’s plans are always greater and better.

7.  Bowen-  Out of all the miracles I have witnessed, there has been none greater than our son Bowen.  He is our third child born six years ago.  Even though he lived a short life of only two weeks on earth, his life impacted us greatly.  God used Bowen in a big way in our lives to show us how life’s most devastating moments can be turned into life’s greatest blessings.  How God takes our tragedy, our hardship and heartaches uses it, molds it and turns it into something more beautiful than it was before.  He showed us the meaning of living a life of love is a life worth living, when we are loving we are living.  There is no gift greater than that.  

Our son’s life taught us that God does answer prayer, maybe not in the way we want. Our son is no longer suffering, he is living a life free from pain, disease and sorrow.  God went ahead of us and made the greatest plan ever.  He is taking care of him until the day we will see him again. 

Have you ever witnessed a miracle from heaven?  Something that could have only been God’s handiwork?  Please Share!

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Join me next week for the 4 part series of meeting Jesus in the scriptures, our struggles and our everyday lives.  I would love to hear from you!    Please Leave Your Comments Below.  Have a Blessed Week!

Jesus In Disguise

Have you ever had an encounter with Jesus that totally changed your life? I wanted to share with you about the first time I went to Honduras on a mission trip with our church.  We went down to help build a building for the sponsor children for Compassion International.  We were in a community outside of Progresso, Honduras.  One day the pastor took us on a walk to show us some of the other projects the church had completed over the previous 12 years.  They had built a water system for the community to have clean drinking water, houses for those in need and now the Compassion house.

One of the houses we visited in particular, was fragile and could have been blown down by a gust of strong wind.  It had thin walls, a metal tin roof and dirt floors. This house was among many which did not have electric or running water.  The owner of this house was a woman who invited us into her home.  Many women were left behind to tend homes on their own while their husbands left to find work far away.

When she invited us in she wanted to show her gratitude by offering the only meal she had—a chicken (which is expensive).  It was obvious she did not have much to give and yet she wanted to offer us her very last meal.  We said no we we already ate, please keep your chicken.  She was insistent to give us all she had even though she had no idea where her next meal was going to come from.  We did not eat her chicken but left her home filled with a richness so abundant that it was hard to describe.

What the woman gave me that day could never compare to anything I could ever give to her.  She gave when she had nothing to give.  She was like the widow who gave everything she had.  

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44)

She showed me a giving out of faithfulness to a degree I have never seen before.  Her giving was so selfless.  The only way I could describe it was, Jesus in disguise.  Her offering out of poverty, giving everything she had to live on to us was the richest gift I had ever received.  

“You can always give without loving, but never love without giving.” ~ Amy Carmicheal

Her giving showed me the love of Jesus, how he loves and thinks of us.  She was not afraid to give her love not knowing where her next meal was going to come from.  She gave without an expectation of receiving.  She lived faithfully in the love of Jesus, relying on Him for her every need and provision. His love knows no limits, is not bounded by boundaries, but free to everyone. Her offering her last meal, gave like Jesus gives to us everyday.  His love isn’t meant to be kept hidden but shared with others.  

I have never forgotten what she gave me that day. She gave me the courage to be courageous in love, not be afraid, share the love of Jesus with others, so they too may know there is no greater love than His.

Her giving challenged me to ask myself, what am I willing to give to others to let them know how much Jesus loves them no matter what the cost? 

Have you ever seen Jesus in Disguise?

How did it impact you?

“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.” John 15:12-13 MSG

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Join me next week as we dive deeper into the love of Jesus!  I would love to hear from you!  Please Leave Your Comments Below.  I pray you’re week is filled with God’s abundant love!

Confessions of a Stay at Home Mom

This week will conclude our series on confessions.  I hope this series has filled you with God’s truth.  We can walk away from our comparisons of each other and rejoice in God’s truth for us in who He says we are.  We don’t have to wait to be accepted by the world or for our circumstances to change, we are worthy and valuable just the way we are.  He has a divine and specific purpose for each and every one of us.        

Whether we are called to be married, single, a working mom or a stay at home mom there is meaning a purpose in God’s calling for us.  Here is an interview of a stay at home mom who shares her heart with us.

How did you decide being a stay at home mom was God’s calling for you? Children are God’s greatest gift to us, their hearts are a mother’s classroom.  Investing in our children reaps rewards that are immeasurable.

What is the number one thing being a stay at home mom has taught you?
Being a stay at home mom is a constant dying of oneself.  It is a continual process of learning how to be selfless, learning how to be content no matter what and knowing I am still contributing to society even though I am inside the four walls of my home.  Also learning how to find joy in every moment, the good and the bad. God teaches me through thankfulness. When we are thankful, then we are more likely to find joy in each moment, which is what God wants for us.

What is the number one thing you struggle with as a stay at home mom?
Isolation and not getting a break.  Isolation can be the tool of the devil.  It can be a downward spiral that gets out of control quickly.  When I start to feel this way I know I need to pray and seek support of other moms who are going through the same thing.  I try to be proactive in recognizing triggers which amplify my struggles such as getting out of routine (holidays), bad behavior or sickness.

What did you do before you were a stay at home mom and how many years have you been a stay at home mom?  How many children do you have?
I used to work as an Early Intervention Speech Pathologist for five years before raising children.  I have been a stay at home mom now for 9 years.  I have 5 children, four boys (ages 2, 3, 7 and 9) and one baby girl.

That’s very admiral, you possess a master’s degree and walked away from a career to raise children.  What is the best advice you can give to other stay at home moms?
Do the best you can with the knowledge you have now.  The knowledge you have in the moment is enough to accomplish what God has planned for you.  God has entrusted you with their lives, he has put your children in your care for a reason.  God will continually equip you with what you need at every given time.  He has chosen your family and has great plans for you and made each of us with a purpose.  You don’t have to do something that is newsworthy or career savy to contribute to society.  What you do inside of your home, is just as important as what you do outside of your home.  We can support each other by not comparing and encouraging one another.

What is your greatest reward you have received as a stay at home mom?
God has called me to equip the next generation of warriors in his army with His armor, character, love, and grace. I can only do this when I lean on God for wisdom and peace and in humbleness, admiting I CANNOT do it alone. As mom’s we often fall into the trap of “I just need to keep going”. That is a red flag for I need a break, need help, or need to let go. God provides us with help in the form of His word, friends, family, spouses. Seek counsel of other women and pray hard!

What do you do as a stay at home to get a break?  I try to leave the house to get a break or escape to my craft room and work on a craft project.  Sometimes the only break I get is going to a private room or outside to pray. Finding a positive outlet for feelings helps as well as leaning on God for His strength. Be proactive in communicating with spouse and children in calm, respectful way to express a need for breaks. Because if mama isn’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. It is a sad but true statement. Taking care of oneself will help the entire household–do so without feeling guilty.

What are your favorite Bible verses that help you?

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

“Encourage one another build one another up”  (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

“In all work you are doing, work the best you can.  Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people”  (Colossians 3:23).

“Do everything in Love”  (1 Corinthians 16:14).

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”  (Romans 12:9-12).

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”  (Matthew 11:28).

Being a stay at home mom is a busy 24/7 job that rarely gets recognized as being a job.  Whether we are a working mom or one that stays at home, instead of judging or comparing ourselves and each other’s children, we can all be encouraging one another, because we are all apart of the same team (quote from Cindy Bultema)!

God has called every one of us for a specific meaning a purpose.  Carrying out God’s calling for you, gives your life more meaning and purpose than anything in this world.  

God has great plans for you.

Do you know God’s calling for your life?

What has God called you to do?

If you are a stay at home mom please share how being a stay at home mom has impacted your life, So we can be encouraging one another!

A special thank you to my twin sister for sharing her heart with us for this post!  

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I would love to hear from you!  Please Leave Your Comments Below.  Have a Blessed Week!


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Confessions of a Married Woman

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God (Romans 15:7).

Marriage is one of God’s greatest gifts.  Yet sometimes marriage can not feel like much of a gift.

Marriage has been around since the beginning of time when God created Adam and Eve.  God  designed marriage to fulfill our need for companionship and demonstrate what it means to be in a covenant relationship with God—to be in union with one another (1 Cor. 6:17).  Our marriages are an earthly model of our spiritual relationship between Christ and His bridegroom (the church) [1].  (Ephesians 5:25-27, Isa. 61:10, 62:5)​

It amazes me how God thinks of everything.  He designed us to be in relationship with another so we wouldn’t be lonely, but also fulfill a greater purpose to be in a relationship with Him.

We were challenged by our pastor this past week, to ask ourselves the question—Does your marriage possess a biblical love like God loves us?

As a married couple of of over 15 years, we strive to love each other the way God loves us.  However, we are not perfect and have flaws.  There are times we don’t always get it right. We sometimes treat each other not so nicely and take things out on one another.  This question made me think of those married in the Bible.  What did they do in their not-so- lovely moments and what do these moments teach us?

I wonder…..

Did Adam and Eve’s argument continue on for days on end?

Did Abraham and Sarah ever argue about infertility?

Did Jacob and Rachel ever have unlovely moments?

Unlovely moments make me think of Gomer (Hosea’s wife) and the Israelites when they strayed away from God.  Gomer had become an adulteress and Israel was worshipping other gods besides God.  I love how God teaches us about the power of His love in these unlikely moments.  

The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes”  (Hosea 3:1). 

Hosea’s love saved his wife from a dead empty life of adultery and pagan worship. God’s love gave Israel a second chance for redemption and restoration.  Just as God’s love was the key to redeem and restore the covenant relationship with Israel, Hosea’s love (a biblical love) was the key to redeem and restore the covenant of his marriage to Gomer (Hosea 3). Unimaginable!

We all have unlovely moments.  Oh how I have been unlovely before.  I want to be loved even in my unloveliness.

God used Hosea (which means salvation) to show us what happens when we love and accept others in the face of unloveliness.  By Homer choosing to love and forgive his adulterous wife Gomer, he wasn’t condoning or accepting her sin—he was obeying God allowing an opportunity for His redemption. Even in Gomer’s not-so-lovely choices, God called Hosea to love her.

God uses these unlovely moments to teach us so much.  

Loving and accepting each other in ugly moments allows grace to fill the unloveliness with God's redemption and restoration (Click to Tweet)Click To Tweet.  

God shows me that when I seek him, He is able to turn my unlovely moments into something so much better than I ever can. 

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”  Jeremiah 29:12-13

There will always be an unlovely moment.  How will we respond?

With Love. God’s love makes our marriages perfect and complete in Him.  In God’s love we lack nothing (Colossians 2:10).  

The enemy would like nothing more than to divide our marriages by magnifying our unloveliness to each other.  Choosing God’s love in the face of unloveliness, invites God to build long lasting marriages rooted in His biblical love for us. 

Prayer-
Thank you Jesus for the wonderful gift of marriage.  Thank you for loving me in my unloveliness.  Thank you for teaching us so much about ourselves and our marriages in these moments.  Thank you for showing me it may take forever before we get it right, but that’s okay.  Help us to seek you God in our not so lovely moments and stay rooted in your biblical love for us.  Your love never fails.  I praise you God, in Jesus name, Amen.

How will you choose love in the face of unloveliness?

What have unlovely moments taught you?

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In case you missed it here is the 4 part series of Confessions:  Confessions of a Stay at Home Mom,  Confessions of a Skinny Girl, Confessions of a Working Mom.

I would love to hear from you!  Leave your comments below. Have a Blessed Week!

A Marriage Prayer-  Pray this verse together this week.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13

Dear Lord,
I pray our love is patient, it will always be kind.  I pray it will never envy nor boast that it will be ridden of any pride.  I pray our love for each other will never be rude or self-seeking.  I pray our love will not be easily angered or keep a record of wrongs.  I pray our love will never delight in evil but rejoice in the truth.  I pray your love will be the center of our marriage and always protect, always trust, always hope and always perseveres.  Your love never fails, Lord.  Thank you for your faithfulness Lord.  We know there is nothing greater than your love.  I pray this in Jesus name, Amen.

Confessions of a Working Mom

Sometimes I struggle as a mom who works outside the home, with not always having all the laundry done, all the dishes washed in the sink or homemade well balanced hot meals sitting on the table ready for my family to eat before 6 o’clock.  I struggle with not being at all the class parties, field trips and being able to go on mom coffee dates.  Truth is most days there are piles of unwashed dishes in the sink.  Sometimes we have sandwiches for dinner.  

I am so thankful for my husband, because without his love and support I wouldn’t be able to function as a working mom.   We try our best to run our household working together as a team.   

However, do you ever have those days where things just don’t run so smoothly?  You know before starting the day (before 6:30 am), there is a mile long of things that need to be done before leaving the house like feeding kids and dogs, brushing teeth and making sure lunches are in backpacks?  And after working a whole day, kids need picked up from school, dinner needs to be made, kids need help with their homework, the kitchen needs to be cleaned, lunches need to be prepared, then it’s time for bed!  Then the whole routine is reapeated over the next 4 days until the weekend comes!

As mothers and wives, we don’t do things to be commended.  But it would be nice to hear the words ‘thank you’ now and then.  Whether you are a mom who works inside the home or outside of the home, being a mom can be an exhausting, thanklesss job.  Especially the job of a stay at home mom, because their job isn’t always recognized as being a job most of the time, because they don’t receive a ‘paycheck.’  I have to give credit to stay at home moms, I don’t know how they do it.  They have one of the hardest jobs of all.

As a mom, can you relate?  We may question, is this God’s calling for us? 

We may compare ourselves to each other by what another accomplishes and achieves, and use that as a determination of our worth.  I promise you this is not how God sees us or how our worth is measured.  God desires us to seek him for our acceptance, our approval and our worth, not in our comparisons of one another.

So where is the worth and value in our work when we don’t receive grattitude?

“In all work you are doing, work the best you can.  Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not people”  (Colossians 3:23)

Even if we don’t recieve a ‘thank you,’ there is still value in our work when we do it for the Lord.  Finding value in our achievements is an endless, empty path.  I can guarantee you there will always be another pile of dishes in the sink, another load of laundry to wash, another meal to prepare.  Where is the value in our endless tasks?

We don’t have to live in the comparisons of others or our achievements to find our acceptance and worth–In God’s love we lack nothing, in him we are made complete (Colossians 2:10). 

Being a mom who works outside of the house continues to teach me to be content in whatever situation I am in (Philippians 4:11).  

If I wait until my house is clean to invite a friend over, I miss out on an opportunity to spend time with a dear friend.

If I wait until I have achieved something great, I miss out on all the joys God has intended to fill me with.

There is value and worth in God’s calling for us.  It doesn’t matter what our circumstances are, in God we receive the fullness of joy in every situation.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” Psalm 16:11.

When God’s desires are our desires, we are fulfilling God’s calling for us.  

Seeking God to fill us with His desires, we will always be satisfied in who God says we are.  “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail” Isaiah 58:11.


Being a working mom (outside of the house and inside) may be a challenging, tough job.  Know that whatever you do, you are doing it for the Lord and that you are loved even if your house is dirty!

If you like this blogpost, Please share with others!  Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox?  Subscribe to my blog and receive a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.

Join me over the next 4 weeks for the 4 part series of Confesions of a Skinny Girl, Confessions, of a Stay at Home Mom, and Married Woman!

I would love to hear from you!  Leave your comments below.  Have a Blessed Week!

Sometimes moms just need a pat on the back and hear the words your doing a great job!  To all the hard working moms know that you are loved and are doing a great job!  Encourage another mom today.  Let her know she is loved and doing a great job!  Print out these printable post-it notes by Cindy Bultema or download and share on social media #LiveFullWalkFree.  These printables are from the Bible study I am reading right now Live Full Walk Free by Cindy Bultema by Thomas Nelson publishers.

Click here to download PDF

Download PDF file above and share with others!

Share on social media with #LiveFullWalkFree or tag @CindyBultema