Gathering Wanderers

There is a story that has become etched into the structure of our family.  My grandma has always been one to host, and more than that, to gather people. A visiting missionary who has devoted his life to Cote D’ivoire was in town (circa the 90’s), and our family and extra friends had gathered to hear his stories and spend time together. The plan was to make Fry-bread, a recipe passed on from a friend on the neighboring Warm Springs Indian Reservation. We joked that they must have given us a slightly different version of the recipe because it never turned out quite the same, but this time it was our alteration that created a recipe we would never forget

Oil beginning to simmer, we helped heat up cans of chili, chopped onions, grated cheese, and mixed up sticky globs of dough that would soon bubble in the golden oil.  Suddenly, the pot of oil began to overflow, and with it a pungent scent overwhelmed the room. The jug of oil had been accidentally swapped with a neighboring jug of Pinesol floor cleaner! Dinner was late that day, but the stove had never been cleaner. More importantly, the people who gathered were close and loved.

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In my grandma’s kitchen, I learned how Jesus taught us to welcome the stranger. That is what hospitality is after all. It isn’t hosting a gala with food you’d never eat on a normal night, or inviting the people over that you already know and agree with on every issue. Hospitality is making strangers belong and sharing the life saturated with the Spirit of God to those hungry for more than a bowl of soup.

In the kitchen with the dishwasher that pulled out from the wall with a butcher board top for kneading, we made pizza to welcome college students who lived too far away to go home for the holidays.

At the hearth of the fancy new gas stove, we lined up dozens of frozen gloves, hats, and jackets for children waiting to drink hot chocolate and thaw off before heading out into the snow again.

The freezing pantry (that is actually a lean-to outside of the house) welcomed college students arriving in the middle of the night to scavenge for a midnight snack.

In the kitchen with an eclectic china set consisting of every pattern (from every decade) of Corelle plates bought for ten cents at yard sales, we tried out recipes from far off places with exchange students from almost every continent.

The single bathroom, with no lock, but a drawer full of combs that could be pulled out to stop the door from the next occupant’s entrance, wasn’t a reason to shorten the guest list.

The back bedroom with shag carpet and a VHS player let the children play and the adults talk about the things in their lives.

I didn’t know then that the people who gathered could have had so many barriers to friendship and were carrying such heavy loads.  The big things our world is at war with have all been addressed around that table. Racism. Mental Health. Poverty. Broken families. Addictions. Economic inequity. I didn’t realize that I was seeing the outcasts be loved, the struggling have equal footing at a meal, the sojourners becoming family. Categories that could have divided, were instead celebrated and shared.

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Many of those who gathered are now scattered into their own places, creating their own places of welcome. When I began to recount to my husband, the many ways I have seen people gathered with love and imperfection, he showed me how the gathering never stopped; It has been carried on in me, and in all those who are now scattered.

Because I saw strangers welcomed, we haven’t had more than a year of our marriage without someone living with us for some amount of time.  Since I saw people feel welcome with sweet tea and writing their names on red solo cups, I don’t feel bad about breaking out the paper plates.  Since holidays were shared, and extended to anyone, I am on the lookout for who might want to join in this year. Since food and culture are so important to share and help people feel welcome, we have had Ceviche for Thanksgiving made by a foster teen.

When you go out to gather your people, look at what you have, not at what you wish for. You have everything you need to make someone feel important and loved. Don’t let your location, your decor, or your regular-life food keep you from inviting people in.

Look for the strangers, who need a place to land. There are so many people just waiting for an invitation.  Those who are wandering about in life, who need to be grafted into a family.


holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been a foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years and works part-time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.
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The Beauty of Gathering Imperfectly

Much thanks to Joanna Gaines and the Magnolia team, I’m guessing about half the population might now have a decorative sign that reads “gather” hanging on a wall somewhere in their house.  You can’t see it but I’m over here raising my hand. Yep, I know I’ve got one. (In fact, mine even came from a trip down to Waco, TX a few years ago, straight from Mrs. Gaines’s store itself.)  Centered on the wall above my dining room table, it is visible from the dining table, the kitchen, and the living room. Gather.

Gather.

My dining room, my kitchen, my living room – my house, it was bought larger than we “needed” for the purpose of gathering people within these walls.  They were bought as a place to intentionally practice hospitality.

Kayla Anderson Gather

Growing up, my parents hosted people all the time.  My mother has practiced hospitality for as long as I remember – the elaborate and fancy tablescape and place settings, the appetizers, dinners, and desserts.  The conversations, laughter, and the widespread variety of those who came into our home: regulars and new families from our church, family members, visiting speakers from our church, missionary families from other countries, people who had great wealth, and people who were struggling financially.  All of them gathered within the walls of my childhood home regularly.

While my mother was great at the fancy things and making everything look beautiful, feel cozy and taste wonderful, I realized at a young age there was more to it than that.  I’m not sure anyone would complain about a beautiful setting and a delicious spread of food set before them, but I was noticing the other details.

When people filled our humble home, did they laugh and share stories and enjoy their time getting to know one another?  Did they relax and linger, not rushed to get back to their place of comfort in their own home? Did they kick off their shoes and coats and make themselves at home?  Did they play games and simply enjoy fellowship and each others’ company? Those were the things I noticed as a child, and those are the things I think of when gathering people within my home as an adult.

I love beautiful surroundings; I love a clean home; I love a well-cooked meal.  However, far more than the need for everything to be “perfect”, I long for my whole family to love being hospitable.  I long for us to be relaxed and not stressed to invite people into our less than perfect home. I want for my home to be a place to drop your shoes and coats and be a place to get comfortable and feel at home, even for first-time visitors.  I want for those gathered in my home to most of all feel loved, cared about, and that we are growing an authentic relationship. I want for them to feel hosted in a well-loved home and not just entertained in a crisp, staunch house.

I want to be one who welcomes, for people to feel that I want them in my home and more so,  I want them to come back. Hosting is not work that I am doing begrudgingly. . . but in order for them to feel that, I need to be sure I am hosting out of a heart of servanthood and earnest love for anyone who comes in my doors.  

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.  Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:8-9

There were earlier days when I strove for perfection.  I wanted the house to be immaculate and the food to be fancy and divine.  I wanted the table to look like an interior designer lived here in my home. I would grumble to my family, stressed out and counting down the hours till the people left my home and I could it clean up and be alone once more.  

Praise the Lord, for He has been gently showing me what really matters within hospitality. He’s been working on me over the years and tweaking what wasn’t quite right within me.  I’m still working on it. Thankfully God commands us to practice hospitality not to be a perfect hostess, am I right?  I need to keep practicing.  But also – did you catch that?  God commands us to practice hospitality. He actually commands it.  He doesn’t say, “if you have a gorgeous house, plenty of extra money for extravagant meals, and copious amounts of free time, invite some friends over.”  Nope. He simply commands us to “always be eager to practice hospitality.”

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“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.  Always be eager to practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13

I want to host and love on those that are close friends and those that I haven’t yet met.  I want to be glad and sincere in my hospitality. I want to always be not just willing but eager.  Friends, hear me now, loud and clear: you needn’t be perfect in your home or your hosting. You need only to invite and open the door.

Lord, help me to practice hospitality in the ways you’d have for me to do it.  Enable me to be ready to help when your people are in need.


Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery, and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance, and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.

Gathering Discernment

I once went mushroom hunting and had no idea which mushroom was safe to pick and eat. Add to this, the complication that I was in a different country with companions who were learning English, and mushroom terminology was not part of the curriculum! As we stepped over logs and scoured under leaves, I had to rely on their “yes” or “no.” Left to my own devices, I certainly would have gathered ones that would cause illness. But, thankfully, we enjoyed the most delicious mushroom soup afterward—with no ill effect.

As we walk with God through the forests of our lives, we often don’t know what to gather that will nourish us. To teach us, God walks with us using the language of the Bible, circumstance, and internal nudges. We can become more adept in this language if we pay attention regularly.

So often, when we follow the prescribed paths—whether prescribed by parents, teachers, leaders, church culture, or wider culture—we miss a lot of mushrooms. We don’t listen to the guide. There’s a path so we follow it, whether it’s our path or not. We go forward because it’s safe and clear, while our Companion is pointing off to a thicket of trees to our right with a forest of mushrooms beneath—delicacies that will enrich our meal together. But we have to see him pointing, we have to say yes to the wander and no to the path, yes to the unknown and no to the clear, so that we can gather the gifts, joys, and nourishment to our soul that he intends for us.

Kimberley Mulder Gather.png

Have you ever hiked a trail that was harder and longer than you expected, and you didn’t bring enough water or snacks? You start to ration your sips and bites. Your mindset shifts into gritty determination to ignore the discomforts of dry throat and rumbling stomach. Making it to the end becomes the victory, hopefully with a nearby store, vending machine, or at least a water fountain!

But when you adventure with someone who knows where to find nourishment, you don’t have to carry so much, and you can finish your adventure satiated, even delighted! It takes trust, lots of it, because there’s no trail map telling you how long it will be or where to find food and water, there’s only Him—your Guide.

Maybe you have followed already into the woods. Stop and turn to your Guide and pay attention to what he’s pointing out, what he’s highlighting in your life. Are there topics, ideas, people, that are repeated in your life, seemingly out of nowhere or with no relation to each other—coincidentally?

That is often Jesus, the truest, wisest guide, showing you something that he is tending to. He is gathering these things to you for your benefit. It could be opportunities regarding service, or the topic of forgiveness keeps cropping up, or you keep crossing paths with a neighbor in unlikely places. It could be any of a million things, so take some moments to pay attention, maybe write them down to start seeing the connections, and listen to the Lord as he gathers them. What is he teaching you? Asking of you? Giving you?

Maybe you are on the path—it could be a trajectory laid out for you from birth, the most logical way forward, what someone else wants for you, or something that will benefit your pocketbook while starving your heart. If it is a path that Jesus is leading, not other people or other purposes, stay on it. Trust your Guide!

But if you realize your Guide has stopped and is pointing off into the woods, and you recognize your path was laid out by someone or something else, I encourage you to go gather your goodness with your good Guide. You are probably terrified of stepping off the path. It’s risky, there’s cost, and you don’t really like tramping through brush anyway. But He will never fail you. He is for you, He will not leave you nor forsake you, for you are His beloved. Trust your Guide!

Gather Kimberley Mulder

Whether you are in the woods gathering insights or on the path contemplating the step off, gather your wise, encouraging friends and share with them what God has been showing you. Have them pray and listen to God, too. We are fallible, we might gather the wrong mushrooms or draw the wrong conclusions, and the people the Lord has gathered into our lives are instruments of his grace. Do the same for them.

Maybe you are part of a small group at church, bring this to them. Maybe you have one or two trustworthy people who are looking out for your best interest, gather with them. If you don’t have these kinds of people in your life, ask God to gather them.

The Lord who points out what is worth gathering in our lives is the same who gathers us to himself, trust him to lead you well.


2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and shares on her blog Living a Mary Life in a Martha World.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

God’s Faithfulness in the Gathering

Well folks, ready or not, the holiday season is upon us. As much as I love my family and friends, this season can also be immensely stressful and draining for me, the introvertiest of introverts. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the festivities and the people that I get to celebrate with, but I also cherish the times of solitude, rest, and recharging that I plan for myself before and after holiday get togethers.

While it’s easy, especially this time of year, to get caught up in the fanfare of the large gatherings, or conversely spending too much time in solitude, God has been faithful to show me the sweet spot in between. As King David declares in Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”

It is often in these times of dwelling, that in the background of the merriment and crowds, God uses a gathering within the gathering of just one or two other people to encourage me in my faith. In these small moments of big events, God reminds me of who He is and who He has created me to be.

Gather Karly Grant

While many of these experiences happen with good friends and family, one-on-one or in a small group, one time that sticks out to me happened just recently in a large church gathering. It was a Sunday morning and I was feeling particularly down. I almost didn’t go to church that day, feeling full of self-pity and loneliness. I was struggling with where I was at in life and feeling like God wasn’t hearing my prayers or at least not answering them in the way that I thought he should be. I couldn’t see his direction to a clear path. Not one part of my humanity wanted to go to church that morning, but that’s precisely why I knew I needed to be with God’s people.

As I was sitting in church, feeling sorry for myself, I cried out to God. I couldn’t tell you what the sermon was about that day, but I was praying prayers truer than I had allowed myself to say in a while. There having a personal moment amongst hundreds of people, I   felt alone and unseen by God as I desperately tried to trust. As service dismissed, I began to wonder why I had even bothered going to church that day. Couldn’t I have prayed the same prayer in the comfort of sweats at home? Then a young woman approached me. I had never seen her before.

She had been sitting a few people down from me in the pew. She seemed nervous but said that she had noticed me during the service and had been lead to pray for me. She told me that she felt like God was urging her to let me know that He saw me, He hadn’t forgotten about me, and He had a plan for my life. She then handed me a prayer that she had written for me and told me I could read it later if I wanted and asked if she could pray for me right then. This was exactly what I needed that day. I haven’t seen that girl again since, but that “chance” encounter, that small gathering of just two people inside the clearly seen larger gathering of the church service, was orchestrated by God and blessed me more than that lady will ever know.

I am one who too easily retreats to solitude when times are tough. While some alone time is good and healthy, it is the sweet moments of being real with friends and allowing God to speak to and through me in day to day life that have the largest impact.

Karly Grant Gather

There is a reason we have the church, that God has called us to gather, and it’s not just spiritual, it’s scientific too. The New York Times posted an article in December of 2016 titled, How Social Isolation Is Killing Us. They reported that research shows all kinds of ways that isolation negatively affects us, makes death come more quickly for those who are sick, and greatly increases chances for things like heart disease.

God created us for one another, this is why he reminds us in Hebrews 10:24-25 to, “… consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

What does all this mean for us, for me? As this season of celebration approaches, I will still have times of introversion, but I will also relish the gatherings. And in the chaos of them look for ways to have smaller gatherings as I pray that God will speak to and through me as we celebrate. For there, his faithfulness is palatable and present. In a world that tempts us to feel alone, God reminds us we never are.


Karly Grant headshotKarly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption.

Gathering Gifts of Grace

Gather is a very “en vogue” word lately. We see it printed on banners and painted on signs because it hopes to offer a sense of warmth. For me, it brings to mind the idea of gathering my people and compiling the memories of the year. Together we take stock of what’s come and gone.

This quote by Charles Spurgeon comes to mind when it is time to reflect, “We are too prone to engrave our trials in marble and write our blessings in sand.”

In the middle of whatever Monday dumped in my lap, it’s so hard to remember the good things that have happened. It is far too easy to feel pessimistic or overwhelmed. So this November, I’m taking time to gather my blessings and count the gifts from God that I don’t deserve.

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The Gift of Family and Friends

What a year I’ve had! My new nephew was born in February. After a tumultuous delivery and stay in the NICU, he’s a healthy, happy, chunky guy!

I also gained a brother-in-law this year as my sister got married at the end of August! A beautiful end to our summer.

We’ve made some new friends this school year as well as new friends in our church!

What has happened in your family or with your friends for which you can give God thanks?

The Gift of Firsts

We’ve had a few firsts this year too. My oldest daughter started losing her baby teeth this year as well as getting glasses for the first time.

We were able to buy our first home after being under contract three times!

First time for my husband going through the process and achieving his mastership through our taekwondo organization.

My baby, my last baby, walked for the first time (shortly before we moved to our new house in May).

What were some of the firsts you encountered this year?

The Gift of Growth

Physical growth for my girls—height, teeth coming in. My oldest learned to ride her bike without training wheels this year!

Spiritual growth: for my oldest—we think she’s almost ready to get baptized, for me—learning more dependence and trust.

Mental growth: for my oldest—learning math this year and swimming with no wings, for my middle girl—her speech sounds are improving as well as her independence, for my youngest girl—potty training (!). For myself—stretching my perceptions and trying my hand at art.

How have you seen growth?

Gather Sarah Clews

Gathering Blessings

I picture that each of these things I’m thankful for is like a precious stone and I’ve gathered them all, rolling them in my hands, reminding myself of what the Lord has done. And the rest of it…the infections, the financial strains, the home inspections that didn’t come back as we hoped, the personal disappointments, the bad behavior…I’m leaving that behind. 

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. -Psalm 9:1


Sarah Clews HeadshotSarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown-ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.

Anchored Printable: John 8:32

The world looks beautiful as the ground is blanketed by leaves, and trees stubbornly hold to modest decoration, but nothing is as gorgeous as truth that sets free. As you enjoy the beauty of fall, it is our prayer that you also rest in the truth that Jesus lived the perfect life, died, and rose again so that you could be saved. Enjoy this fall printable created by Sarah Dohman as a reminder that while seasons may change the truth of God will not.

Click here to get your free printable of John 8:32John 8_32


Sarah DohmanSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globetrotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah on her blog or on Instagram.

Grocery Doubts and the Storms of Faith

I was slogging through my grocery trip, pushing the cart and handing the cranky baby things to keep her occupied, when I turned a corner and almost ran into another shopper. I quickly apologized for my lack of shopping cart skills, and she replied with something that has pricked my heart ever since.

“It’s ok. I’m just over here drooling over your life.”

Circumstances are impossible to determine from the other side of the grocery cart. Perhaps she has lost a child. Perhaps her children are past the baby stage and she misses it. Perhaps she desperately wants to be a mom, and month after month was disappointed. I could see the doubt coming to the surface. The doubt that begins to question when life doesn’t look like we had hoped it might.

I will never be entirely sure of her intent, but under the surface, I could feel that there was a deep well of hurt. She outright stated that my life looked enviable. I was shocked, but I felt for her. That emotion wasn’t foreign to me. Did she, too, sometimes doubt that the life she had been dealt was really God’s grace and kindness to her?  I know how easily we can believe that everyone else’s life is sunshine, while our own is overcast with doubt and fear.

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Despite the outside picture, my life was clouded with doubt that day. What she couldn’t see behind the mom pushing a baby through the grocery store, is that the sweet, yet the cranky baby was a foster child who would be moving on from us in a few days. The childrearing stage I had dreamed of living while we faced infertility had come but in an abbreviated fashion. What she could see on the outside may have been both of our biggest dreams, but it was also the biggest storm. I wonder how many of the enviable lives I measure mine against are facing doubt of God’s goodness behind the layer I can see.

For a while, I had tried to avoid doubts as much as I could. But, I think storms may be meant to push us to face the doubts head-on. The situations I was facing at that time remind me of a storm Jesus and his disciples faced that was recorded in Luke 8:23-25.  

As they sailed, he(Jesus)  fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Beth Moore referenced this passage of scripture in her Quest study. She says, “Knowing a story turns out well can have a terrible way of taming it.” From where I sit, knowing that the storm was calmed for Jesus and the disciples that day, takes out the terror of their immediate situation. They didn’t know whether they would die in the storm, or if Jesus would miraculously calm it.

At times I can think the doubts I have are too big, but the disciples had some pretty big doubts to deal with that day as well. Can you relate to any of these:

Doubt of God’s goodness

Doubt that he cares.

Doubt that he hears our cries.

Doubt that he has a plan.

The disciples went straight to Jesus, but they were filled with doubt rather than faith. Our storms can leave us reeling similarly. We don’t know where this story is going, but can we trust the author of the story, even when it looks grim.

All throughout the Bible, the people we see interacting with God had no idea what would happen. If you actually sit in the tension of the situations they were faced with, the outcome would be far different from the platitudes we often hear in the midst of trials. When we face our deepest trials and hurts, it is not the  time to pretend that they don’t exist, or that they will somehow just magically be better and “turn out in the end.”

Holly Hawes Doubt

Should we begrudge Hannah, for pouring out her heart to God in agony, because, “It will all happen in God’s timing.”? Do we skip over the utter abandonment, and betrayal felt by Joseph as he suffered as a slave and later a wrongly convicted prisoner? Do we quickly run to Resurrection, and fail to reflect on the sorrow of the cross and the tomb?

As we start to see the narrative of the Bible through the lens of the struggle of human experience, we see a dance between doubt and faith, that I had been blind to. Just because everything does turn out in the end, doesn’t mean that it feels like it at the time. Instead of ignoring it, Jesus spoke directly to the storm. He can handle any doubt we face, and any trial that comes our way. Platitudes negate the storm, rather than letting the storm lead you to the only one who can calm it.

Experiencing Jesus in the middle of a storm is one of the greatest ways to turn seeds of doubt into faith.  Doubts spring up in the darkness when we cannot see what God will do; Paradoxically, faith cannot exist if we already see the end. Somehow the same circumstances that make us feel out of control can either be experienced on our own, and lead to doubt, or with Jesus and lead us to greater faith.

The only way out of their storm (and ours) is to ride it out with Jesus. The disciples went straight to him, and instead of their fears actualizing, they discovered that Jesus was good to them. He did care about their plight in the boat, he heard them cry out, and he gave them a way out.

Whatever the storm you are facing today, whether it blows across the water or at your local grocery store, take your doubts and fears to Jesus. He can see through peaceful facades, envy, and doubt. He is there to shepherd us through the storms of our life.


holly-squareHolly is a wife of 7 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been a foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years and works part-time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption.

3 Truths I Need When I Doubt Myself

I’m overwhelmed. I don’t have this. I’m not smart enough. I’m not strong enough. I’m just not enough. These are some of the thoughts that swirl sometimes as I’m trying to tackle the different parts of my life. I’m striving, striving, striving. But there aren’t enough hours in the day. I don’t have enough emotional energy to tackle all of it. I’m just not enough.

I hustle, hustle, hustle. Busting out the to-do list. Following my routine. Pushing myself so hard that I’m so exhausted I feel like a marionette just going through the motions. But it’s just not enough. I’m just not enough.

I’m doubting myself all the time and find my doubt to be justified. I don’t have an endless supply of emotional energy and grace, so I shout at my kids and my tongue lacks grace. I don’t have an endless supply of physical strength and energy, so my housework lags. My brain is so overworked trying to put out fires that I suddenly find myself mentally frozen like my brain is trying to tread concrete.

Sarah Clews Doubt

Not only that, but we’ve got well-meaning but not scripturally based books coming out called Girl, Wash Your Face that basically says, “You’re doubting yourself? Wash your face, suck it up, and try harder! You need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” You know what’s wrong with your life? You are just not trying hard enough!

I love what Gracelaced wrote on Instagram, “Steady heartbeat on repeat for some time now: We are not the heroes of our own stories. It’s en vogue to believe we steer our own course and drive the train in our own lives—that we are the sum of our unrelenting efforts…Friend, if your tank is empty, your road unclear, your drive lacking direction tonight, look beyond yourself. Look to Him. Jesus takes us where we could never go on our own.”

I’ve heard this saying falsely attributed to the Bible, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Oh, He absolutely will. And this is completely intentional. I’m doubting my ability to handle it all? Well God has certainly never depended on my ability to handle it all. There’s hope in my doubt…the hope that God never expected me to be able to “do it all.”

1. Cease Striving

“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NASB)

Our culture exalts “the hustle” and “the grind.” Seeking to live our lives without the power of God will always be a futile and exhausting exercise.

2. God is Enough

“My flesh and my heart will fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 (NASB)

We are not enough, but He is. Where I doubt myself and fail daily, God never fails. His love never fails. His mercies never fail.

3. Lean into God

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil.
 This will bring health to your body
    and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8

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Leaning on my own understanding is so disappointing and exhausting. It doesn’t mean I should stop making an effort, but depending solely on myself will always end in failure. In our modern culture, we suffer more than ever from anxiety and panic disorders. We’ve brought sickness to our bodies trying to do it all.

We must rest. Let us rest in the confidence that we have been rescued. As Jennie Allen says in Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard, “Our confidence comes from believing God can do anything, then stepping back and letting Him.”

I need Jesus to be the hero of my story. How about you?


Sarah Clews HeadshotSarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown-ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.

Trapped by Doubts

I think I need a lock screen on my phone with the words “You, bleary-eyed one, do not touch this! Danger!”—on a red background, in bold.

Have you ever regretted your early morning, nonchalant scroll through social media? I certainly have. Just this past week, I spent three days removing the shrapnel of allowing the many feet of Instagram and Facebook trample on the landmines inside me. You know, those parts of yourself that are weak, sensitive to comparison and criticism, your perennial Achilles heel. That simple, foolish, not-thought-through action loosed a storm of doubt within. As my coffee perked, I struggled to gain ground and fight back.

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The first warning rumble had been the sinking sense of failure I felt as I read of a dear woman halfway around the world who is doing what I hope to do. She is younger, written the book, had the kids, already heavily involved in ministry, and gracious to all to boot. I’m struggling to write two blog posts a month, cope with my kids’ needs, stepped out of ministry for a season, and dealing with clogged sinks.

The next quake was the disparaging thoughts against another dear woman nearby posting links to activities she is a part of to further the cause of immigrants in America, while she leads conferences in other countries, and celebrates her daughters’ successes. All I could see in her good works was that I am doing little for immigrants, which shames me because I used to, hope to lead conferences someday, and at the moment am trying to figure out how to pay the counselor’s bill.

The explosion came when I couldn’t stomach the glad tidings of other writers’ successes, and I clicked my phone off. In the shallow morning light, I glowered in despair. Who needs coffee after that? I’ll just go back to bed, thank you very much, the world doesn’t need me!

Finally, almost grudgingly, I open my Bible app, recognizing I am in a bad spot. (Lashing myself all the while with “You know better, you should have started with this…”) And what do I read?

“Fear and intimidation is a trap that holds you back. But when you place your confidence in the Lord, you will be seated in the high place.” Prov. 29:25 (TPT)

And another look at it:

“The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” (MSG)

Basically, God’s sweet reminder that sounds like this: “Wake up, sweet one, you are in a trap! I have come to enable you to live the life I have given you! Just as I am enabling these other women, I have laid your boundary lines and given you your portion in which to thrive and grow and minister and be with me. What works for them is not for you. Do not doubt me in this, I know what’s best for you, and I tailor it to suit you.”

Over the next three days, I realized that these doubts I had about self, ability, energy, and success were not just about me, but really rooted in doubt about God. I have set out towards these goals under God’s express invitation and provision. I said yes before, I said I’m all in, I accepted the invitation and dove into the action. I knew the days would come when the energy of excitement that sparked the beginning and gave the courage to step out in faith would dwindle. The path would look far too long, the moments far too difficult, and doubts regarding the rightness and authenticity and, most especially, my ability would glare at me. But this is part of what Eugene Peterson calls, “a long obedience in the same direction,” a day in the equipping and shaping for what is to come, a necessary hiddenness and difficulty.

Even as I felt the lingering impact of the internal explosion in the days following, I repeatedly took the fear and frustration to Jesus in prayer. I wanted him to take it and make me whole instantly, but that was not his way. I continuously had to face them honestly, and tell them “I do not fear you, for I know who has called me. I know what he has called me to, and I know he will bring me to it.” I certainly did not scroll haphazardly! Yet, I still struggled to get out from under it.

One thing you need to know about me is that I am not one to pick up the phone to talk through my problems. I figure the other person already has enough to worry about, but over the last few years of developing some friendships because God has repeatedly pointed out to me that this is vital and good, I have started to call on them when problems arise. So I texted, asking for prayers because of my overwhelm and doubts. A few hours later, the oppressive internal cloud was completely gone! I could see from God’s perspective again.

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I was lifted to confidence in God, and out of the trap, through my friends. It required me to humble myself to not go it alone. I couldn’t release the trap of doubt any more than I could take shrapnel out of my own body. And now my faith is reinforced with gratitude and relief and friendship.

So, if you are struggling under a cloud of doubt, what scriptural truths do you need to tell yourself, and is there a friend you can call who will pray?


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Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and shares on her blog Living a Mary Life in a Martha World.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

I Doubted the Power of My Story

When I was in high school I was constantly surrounded by one youth group speaker after another, each with a powerful testimony of how they came to know Christ after some dark and troublesome time in their life.  Each person had a heavy story – a life of drug dependency, a life of running from the law, a life of selling their body, a life of anger and hatred, a life trapped in a cult – and all of these intense stories ended the same.  In the end, they all had a radical encounter with discovering Christ their Savior, they turned 180 degrees and life was drastically different.

Each of these stories felt incredible; I often was met with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I heard of God’s saving, redemption plan for these lives that were deep in muck and mire.  I was in awe.  God is good!  And look at these incredible people, look at them going around and telling of the gospel of Jesus, of the one who saved them from their pits.

But also, then… what about me?  What about my story and my testimony of how I came to know my Savior? I was a “good girl” and always had been.  I’d grown up in a loving Christian home with two parents who always pointed me back to Jesus.  I’d known the name of Jesus for as long as my memory served me.  I told myself that because of the limited drama in my life that I would never be a speaker giving my testimony to a youth group crowd. What in the world did I have to share?!  I didn’t have some wild “before” life!  I didn’t feel like I had a testimony that anyone would care to hear. It only takes two seconds to say “I’ve known Jesus all of my life,” and who would sit before me to listen to that?  I doubted the importance of my testimony – one of a life rooted and with a foundation of knowing Christ since birth.  I doubted that it mattered one bit in the pool of all of the awe-inspiring tales of conversion out there.  Frankly, I doubted the power of Christ to show up and be revealed in a story as mundane as my own.

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I remember when the time came in my college group when we were asked to take turns sharing our testimonies with the group.  I asked the leader, “but what if you don’t have a testimony?  What if you don’t have anything to share?” I didn’t doubt the goodness of God in my life which had been constant and steady, but I doubted what felt like His lack of display of power in my life.

I didn’t have a gripping story.  I didn’t have an “ah ha” moment.  Did I even have a “real” testimony?   My lifelong knowledge of Jesus, who He is, and what He always did for me didn’t feel exciting or gripping, it just was.

At some point in those early college years, I realized that it was enough.  More than enough.  My story may not be one for the books or speaking engagements but my story is just as powerful as the one who came out of a life of addiction or a life of utter brokenness.

My story is powerful because it drips with the power of God: His power to save me from all of the muck and mire that I didn’t have to walk through, His power of steadfastness to walk beside me as a constant for all of my life, His power to be a strong and firm foundation, laying the brickwork for the mess that my adult life can sometimes look like.

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Today, I don’t doubt the power of my testimony or the power of Christ through my seemingly mundane story.  I don’t doubt that He can and will use it, boring as it may seem.  I’m not discouraged by my come to Jesus moment being something that feels like it ought to be more.  After all, it’s not me and my mess that the power and glory comes from.  The power is in Him alone and His saving grace – His grace over my sin-filled life.  A life where, despite being “a good girl”, I am still a sinner, just as in need of a Savior as the girl whose life was more outwardly messy or had a more exciting story.

I no longer doubt the power of my testimony, for I am my Beloved’s and He is mine.  I am saved by His grace; there is nothing which can snatch me up out of His loving hands and that is a mighty display of His power in my life.  Thanks be to God for saving a sinner like me.