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.

Kayla Anderson Doubt

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.

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If I’m Sowing Good, Where are the Blossoms?

Author: Deb Gruelle

Sometimes I’m shocked by the ways my life hasn’t followed the good dreams and plans that I’ve made as a Christian woman who loves God with all her heart. I’ve tried to follow God and sow good seeds that will grow to an abundance of good in later life.

  • When seven babies died, five adoptions fell through, and I waited seventeen years to fill our family with three children, I doubted God’s love for me.
  • When chronic illness struck, I doubted my worth to the world.
  • When my children, those desperately-prayed-for blessings, made choices that went against biblical morals, I doubted my identity as a good mother.

The funny thing is that even through all of this I’ve never doubted God’s reality. I was introduced to Jesus early in life, and God made such logical sense to me. I could see His fingerprints in the world around me. I could see Him working in my family’s lives. I couldn’t imagine life without God. I know this is different than some people, maybe I was given the gift of faith.

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What I began to doubt was God’s love for me. It happened insidiously over time as huge tsunami waves crashed on my life again and again. As devastating circumstances continued, I kept reading verses that said I’d reap what I sowed. I believed if I sowed righteousness I’d surely be rewarded. (Proverbs 11:18; 14:14; Galatians 6:7)

I grew up in a strong Christian family where I saw God reward good choices. When that didn’t happen to me, did that mean the reverse was true also? How could bad things keep happening in my life when I was also trying to follow God wholeheartedly?  When longings of my heart went unanswered year after year, I began to believe God must be angry at me. For many years, I felt confusion over these verses. I believed lies about my worth that separated me from feeling God’s love.

It took me many years to understand how Jesus balanced the truth of those verses with His parable about the sower in Luke 8. In this parable, He tells about a farmer sowing seeds. Then He talks about how the seeds fell on different types of soil. Depending on the soil each seed landed on, some grew and even flourished, but some didn’t grow at all or didn’t grow well. He said the Word of God is the seed that is sewn into hearts.

If we could count on this principle always holding true—that what each person sows always directly relates to what they’ll reap, surely the seeds of the Word of God would always flourish. But this parable says that isn’t true. There are many more things that act on our choices in life that play into the results. And in this story, God wasn’t angry at the farmer because he chose the wrong seeds or sowed them wrong. Sure, we can sow wisely to ensure that our seeds have the best chance at flourishing, but some failure is expected. No fault is laid on the sower for this.

I finally understood that when bad things happen in my life it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not pleasing God. What if Jesus thought He wasn’t pleasing God because He had to face the cross? I had to trust in God’s bigger, love-infused, long-term viewpoint.

I have no idea what the future holds in so many areas of my life. If I depend on future blessings to validate my worth, my understanding of God’s love for me will be short-sighted and wobbly. Instead, if I understand that my job is to snuggle up close to God, to first let His love flow into me, then out to others through me, that’s all I need to do to please Him and live in victory. If I keep my focus on His love for me, that gives me the strength to not grow weary in sowing seeds of good. The results aren’t my business—the results are God’s responsibility.

Doubt Deb Gruelle

I love to garden now. I’m still sad when I see a bud form that never flowers. But even in gardening, experiencing loss makes the vibrant blooms that much more precious. Either way, I’m going to continue gardening—sowing good seeds and watering them. That’s my focus in partnering with God to plant beauty, that and living in the truth that I’m loved by my Creator. I’ll be thankful when God brings blossoms, but I won’t let them determine whether God loves me.


_Best Headshot CLOSEUP SMALL FILE SIZE 11_16 Copyright Patti Mustain SeekingHisLight.comDeb Gruelle, best-selling author of Ten Little Night Stars (2018) and Aching for a Child (2019), serves as chaplain for Inspire Christian Writers, as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), and a Stephen Minister. Featured on radio broadcasts including Family Life Today and speaking across the country, she invites listeners to embrace both courage and rest for wholehearted living. 
 Web: http://www.debgruelle.com/ Find more from Deb on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

 

Check out her latest book:

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Mending Broken Vases

Author: Rebecca L. Mitchell

After my marriage failed, I fell into a dark season of doubt.

Many of my doubts revolved around myself. No longer wanted by my husband, I felt unlovable, ugly, a failure as a woman. I also questioned my ability to be a loving mother to my daughters, as I seemed to fail them, at least in my mind, in some way every day. Could I ever be whole again as a woman and a mother?

In such a daze of pain, I couldn’t imagine a bright, hopeful future or even a dull, decent one. I figured I would be able to function enough to stumble through life, but I thought oppressive grief, wounded anger, and aching loneliness would be my constant companions. I doubted I could regain emotional balance or normalcy.

If doubt is feeling uncertain about something, especially about the possibility of something good, I had it in spades. I couldn’t see good ahead. My biggest dream was just not to feel pain; I had no expectations of joy, no hope. For me, the opposite of doubt was not belief, but hope.

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I wish I could say that this is when I found Jesus, asked Him into my life, and never encountered my ugly companions of grief, anger, and loneliness again. The truth is, I already knew Jesus and had known Him for years. I didn’t doubt God’s presence in my life or His love for me—although I’m sure He could have handled it if I had. My faith in God was strong, growing, in fact, as I was clinging to Him in desperate survival mode. But I still struggled to have hope.

This doubt or loss of hope is common in the midst of deep pain and brokenness whether it’s from the loss of a loved one, financial hardship, or the shame of our own sin. Even if we aren’t struggling through ground-shaking chaos, we still get stuck. We doubt life can get better, or that we can change our bad habits. Our negative internal dialogue is on repeat, our smiles forced for public consumption.

Eventually, my genuine smile returned. Slowly, over time, God restored my hope: “Yes, my soul, find rest in God, my hope comes from Him” (Psalm 62:5). I learned He is not only able to restore me, He is willing. Scripture abounds with His ability and willingness to provide hope and restoration. Hannah was blessed with a child after years of infertility and Joseph became second in charge after slavery and imprisonment. Often, the psalmist, who begins with a cry of despair, ends with praise, adoration, and hope, even if the circumstances haven’t changed.

Doubt Rebecca L. Mitchell

The art of Kintsugi is a beautiful illustration of this hope of a restored life. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending broken pottery with resin combined with gold dust. The veins of gold along the broken lines enhance instead of diminish the beauty of the piece. God is a patient Kintsugi artist, melding our broken pieces into masterpieces.

My transformation from doubtful to hopeful has been frustratingly slow at times, but it has been genuine and true. Awareness of God’s deep, reckless love for me has moved from head knowledge to heart conviction. Amazingly, I now understand His desire to heal my brokenness surpasses my desire to be healed. I know that I know that I know, God’s plan for me is a life restored, full of joy and hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).


Rebecca L. Mitchell Blog post submission about doubt for OctoberRebecca writes with a passion to see women come alongside each other in their healing journeys. She is celebrating the release of her first book, From Broken Vows to Healed Hearts: Seeking God After Divorce Through Community, Scripture, and Journaling. Her day job is teaching English composition at UC Davis.
Find more from Rebecca at her blog http://rebeccamitchellauthor.com, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

Faith in the Face of Doubt

Show me a Christian and you will have shown me a human prone to doubt.  Faith isn’t for the weak.  It takes a certain amount of tenacity to stand faithful to God alone while the world calls us foolish, silly, and uneducated.  It takes a level of tenacity to stand firm in faith when life, or perhaps our enemy, throws flaming arrows of difficulty at us.  Sickness, death, sorrow, financial ruin, and abuse are enough to make even the stoutest believer cry out in dismay.  Why does God allow such turmoil?  Why is life so hard?

It isn’t just the harsh reality of this life that allows doubt to creep in.  Our own sin issues get in the way of believing.  Fear, insecurity, selfish ambition, greed, and pride all raise their head in defiance at faith.

In fact, faith is not for the weak or foolish.  Faith is the life song of those with enough grit to quiet their prideful heart, and trust God in the deepest, darkest periods of life. Faith fills individuals with enough tenacity to cling to what is unseen when what is seen is ugly and painful.  Faith is for those willing to put aside their own ideas, dreams, and perceptions and ask the unseen God of the universe to “take the wheel” and drive their life.  It isn’t a crutch.  It isn’t easy.

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Is it not easier to live our lives the way we want?  To pursue money and ambition and fame?  Is it not simpler to do what makes us happy with little regard for the next person?  Is it not more convenient to believe that our lives are our own and subject to no one else, not even God?

From the outside to those looking in, I know that I seem like a good person with a good life marked by good things. Others may question, what can I know of sorrow, pain and questioning God?  Yet my song, the song of my soul, is His Eye is On the Sparrow because I do know sorrow.  Sorrow so deep my heart sometimes feels ready to burst out of my chest under the pressure of the pain.  Sorrow that tears can’t describe; the sorrow of a life touched by illness, death, murder, suicide, mental illness, poverty, and abuse.  A life that was uprooted and left without a home for so many years that the idea of home seemed lost forever; a thing to be grasped that lays just out of reach.

My life…

But, even in the darkness and the sorrow, there is a knowing.  The kind of centered knowing that can only be found with a solid faith foundation in Christ Jesus, carried on by the work of the Holy Spirit, and rooted in experiencing the great and gracious love of God the Father.

In those dark spaces…there is no room for doubt.  Doubt is a liar.  Doubt is a thief that steals our joy and gets us off the right path.  And yet, Doubt is there.  Always questioning, always wondering.  And questioning and wondering bring new understanding and new insight.  Maybe it isn’t the doubt itself that causes us to lose our way, but the fear of what we will find when we wonder.

Fear, it seems to me, is the real enemy behind our doubt.  The enemy that says, don’t ask and don’t wonder and don’t grow.  Fear, as Zach Williams sings, is the liar behind us whispering that the truth is too hard and too scary and too disappointing.

But, fear can’t stand and doubts melt into assurance in the face of truth.  The truth is that we are wanted, loved, and precious Children of God Almighty.  We are righteous without our own merit and forgiven.  We are reconciled, and our souls are eternally free.  The truth is that no weapons formed against us can stand and the enemy must flee at the name of Jesus.  The truth is that we can suit up, arm up, and pray against our enemy and victory can be ours, in the name of Jesus.  We are filled by the Holy Spirit, backed up by the heavenly hosts, and set free by the blood of Christ!!

Doubt Jacqi Kambish

Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8: 32 and Paul said, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…”  Ephesians 6: 14. Truth takes the power away from doubt and casts out fear. So, put on the belt of truth, rebuke fear, and stand firm in the face of doubt.

No, life isn’t perfect.  Sometimes we don’t understand why things happen.  Pain and sorrow can be overwhelming and hard to take.  Sickness can be discouraging and relentless, but even then…

Even then, I am learning to “sing because I’m happy.”  Not happy with circumstances, but happy because my soul is free, restored, and whole, because my eternity is secure with Christ and I know this life isn’t all there is.  In that, there is also hope.  And Hope and Truth shut the mouth of Doubt.


Jacqi KambishJacqi Kambish is a Christian mom to three spirited children striving to balance the daily demands of parenting a child with special needs and meeting the needs of typically developing siblings while working full time and writing.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry from William Jessup University.  Jacqi lives with her family in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and enjoys reflectively writing about parenting, faith, and the joys and trials of life while leaving her readers with hope and encouragement.  Her blog The Presumptuous Ladybug can be found at and you can connect with her on Facebook

Raising Disciples

As a Christian, anytime the word “home” is mentioned, I tend to think long-term, as in our heavenly “home”.

But what do we do with the time we’ve been given right now? What should our earthly home look like?

As my friends and siblings are beginning their own families, I fondly remember the home I grew up in. It was a place that was filled with hospitality: hungry teenagers, sleepovers, parents who encouraged us to invite friends over. I grew up in a home where my parents loved Jesus, and they couldn’t help but want to love on all our friends. My parents took us to church, prayed with us, and ultimately, discipled us.

Sarah Dohman Home

I share this free print today to encourage your heart, dear friend. If you have little people running at your feet, these are your small disciples. The Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:16-20, says go and make disciples. And to the young parents who are now at home on a Friday or Saturday night, knee-deep in diapers and bottles, bedtimes and Bible stories, simple prayers and sleepless nights, this is my encouragement to you.

These little people, gifted by God, are your disciples. Pray for them, read God’s Word to them. Show them what it means to love Jesus. The seeds of truth you plant when they are young have the opportunity, Lord-willing, to grow into flourishing adults who love Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. You may not have it all together; heck, you may feel hopeless at times. But your faith in the Lord is not wasted. It is imprinted into the hearts of those you are raising. I know this to be true, as I am living proof of Jesus-loving, God-fearing parents.

Print this verse out, hang it up, and let it remind you that your work at home is not unnoticed. Your greatest gift to your children is to raise them up loving and knowing Jesus, who will always, always, lead them “home”.

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Click Here for your free 11 X 8.5 print.


sarah-dohman-squareSarah 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.

A Home for the Uprooted

Home is sewn into the seams of my suitcase –  

Caught up in the fragments of childhood memories

Where I can’t place the country or state, let alone the date;

But I remember who was there

 

Home is in the beauty of silver-tipped mountains

And sweeping red canyons;

Where snow sneaks in for Easter

And July Fourth bakes the earth to a crisp

 

Home is in fierce, drumming rainstorms

Crashes of thunder

And the soft blink of fireflies;

Where stars pierce the sky

And mosquitoes outnumber them

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Home.

The land of ever-changing, ever-flying, ever-new.

And the question, “what are roots?”

 

The longing for something constant in life –

Something else besides “goodbye”

 

The familiar taste of spicy meals and bustling market stalls

A far-off airport terminal I’ve known for as long as I can remember

And the voice of a treasured friend spanning oceans

Or sitting next to me

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Home.

Both everywhere and nowhere

In heartfelt conversations or the scent

of my grandmother’s Irish Spring soap

 

And when it seems shattered, scattered to the winds

In a million pieces too tiny to recover

Home is still here in the promise of the Psalms:

 

“Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! 
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God. ” (Psalm 90:1-2)

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, 
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.” (
Psalm 139:7-10)

 

Inspired by this post from Communicating Across Boundaries.


Rachel Olson moved back to the US last year after making Africa home for a while. She is now living in her 17th home and has yet to find a simple answer to the question “where are you from?” She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes and is currently wondering if that might mean returning to Madagascar (one of her previous homes in Africa). You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram, or visit here to help her get back to Madagascar.

Longing for Home

With the advent of a new school year, I’ve been thinking about what home means and especially what it means for my daughter when she returns from school. I want our home to always be that safe haven for her, a place where she feels secure, and a place where she ALWAYS feels she belongs. I like to make things as cozy and welcoming as possible. I’ve put out fall garlands and orange fairy lights and this morning I’m baking peanut butter cookies. I try to be emotionally available and ready to read books or just talk once she’s off school. Hopefully, she’ll look back in years to come and remember the welcoming and warmth of our home.

A lot of money and time is offered to consumerism in order to  create our own private haven in our homes. We do this with decorations and landscaping. I’ve heard people describe their yard as a “little piece of paradise.”  Our hearts yearn for that safety and satisfaction of home, and homemaking can be a redemptive act.

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Home can be that place where we practice for a coming eternity with Jesus, mimicking what’s to come. It’s where we practice and employ the fruits of the spirit–where love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control can be practiced regularly.

Yet no matter how “homey” I make things, there is always that discontent, that longing for something more, that sense that something is missing. Selfishness, impatience, and sin seem to always come in and try to spoil the peace of our homes.

This quote from C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity comes to mind, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

We should not be surprised then that there’s no true satisfaction to be found in this world because we were made for a DIFFERENT world. Jesus tells us in John 14:2, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? ” The ways we make a home here on earth offer just a shadow of the true home that awaits us in heaven. I get chills when I hear the lyrics of the song “Who You Say I Am” by Hillsong United.

“I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me”

It’s the kind of home that will always satisfy. It’s the kind of home where we always belong. It’s the kind of home where we’ll look around and say, “Ah yes, this is what I’ve been longing for.”

Sarah Clews Home

This doesn’t mean I’ll stop decorating my house or trying to create a haven for my family or stop imitating Jesus. It just means that I’ll know that whatever is missing, I’ll find in the next life. Because my true home is in heaven. I’m just a traveler here on earth making the best of what God has given me.


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.

The Curriculum of Character

I found myself heavily contemplating less formal curriculum questions as I spent the last month of summer preparing for the start of our fourth year of home education with our four children.  Many questions I had centered around the core concept of “Who are we in this home?” Also, “Who and what do we serve in this home?  What characteristics do we need to learn about and strive towards this year?”  

While I’ve piled high a collection of teaching tools for Math, Language Arts, Science, and Spanish, I’ve also piled along with the teaching tools for manners, etiquette, and most importantly, Godly characteristic traits. I’ve watched my children, particularly my two oldest, grow in their knowledge and understanding this past year of homeschool.  I’ve watched them start to master different primary concepts, and I remember each time that I realized they had learned something new.

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I cherish the memories of when my oldest started reading with fluidity, and when my middle son started using addition on his own accord. I couldn’t believe that they had learned it. I did not doubt their intelligence, but I felt I lacked as a sufficient teacher.  Surely I didn’t do much in helping them actually learn something … did I?!

While I often feel they learned despite me, I know that it was my instruction and, more importantly, my example which taught my children these life skills.  This realization was both awesome and terrifying as I then questioned, “What else are they learning from me just from my example?!”

With this realization, I knew I needed to place higher importance this school year on life skills of manners, etiquette, and Godly characteristic traits – just as much for myself as for them.  If they are learning from what I am modeling, I’d better be something I’d want them to model after!

I started by asking my husband and myself what those things we hoped to teach and model to our children were; we had to determine the core values and traits for the six of us dwelling in our home.  We needed to determine what it looked like to have a Christ-centered home, to have a home which served the Lord.

For our family, we’ve landed on these characteristics, based on several verses, to point our children to Jesus in our goal of living in a Christ-centered home:

Love:  Firstly and most importantly, our family must be rooted in love.  Love Jesus, love each other, and love others.

  • 1 Peter 4:8-9 “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
  • 1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
  • Ephesians 4:2 “Always be humble and gentle.  Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”

Kindness & Grace:  Our family ought to speak, behave and think kindly and have grace with each other.

  • Ephesians 1:7 “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.”
  • Ephesians 4:32 “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
  • Titus 3:4 “But – When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”

 

Kayla Anderson Home

Honest & Faithful:  Our family ought to be honest at all times and faithful with all things.

  • Proverbs 28:6 “Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and rich.”
  • Proverbs 28:23 “In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery.”
  • Luke 16:10,12 “If you are faithful in the little things, you will be faithful in the large ones.  But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. . . And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?”

 

Servant-hearted: Our family ought to be servant-hearted toward family, friends, and strangers.

  • Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
  • Galatians 5:13 “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters.  But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”
  • Philippians 2:3-5 “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others.  Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.  You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”

 

Obedient: Our family ought to be obedient quickly, without delay, to parents, and to the Lord.

  • Proverbs 19:20 “Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.”
  • Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for it is the right thing to do.”
  • Jeremiah 42:6 “Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you with our plea.  For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.”

 

Forgiveness: Our family ought to seek and extend forgiveness to all.

  • Ephesians 4:32 “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
  • Matthew 6:14-15 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

There are many Godly characteristics worth highlighting, but for our family and our home, these are the ones we have determined to focus on. I’ve printed and laminated a sheet of these characteristics and verses and now have it hanging on our command center in the heart of our homeschool room.  I am starting this new school year eager to dive into these traits further, practice them more, and although sometimes painful, be held accountable to my own characteristics which I seek to model for the little disciples who dwell in our home.

 


 

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.

The Journey Home

Author: Jessica Stinson

Recently, I was sitting in a coffee shop with a friend.  We got to talking about Romans 8:28. We acknowledged it is easy for us to think when it says “all things work together for good,” it means good for us, but a lot of the time, good for us is not really what is best.  

Sometimes God leads us to good after what seems like a lot of bad.  Yet His good is way sweeter than the best good we could have imagined.  That is because when we surrender our lives to God, He orchestrates every moment to bring glory to Himself.  This describes my last year, and the seven moves within it perfectly.

The first three moves were a result of graduating college and waiting out fifty applications.  By July, I was offered a 4th-grade teaching position, and amazingly already had housing lined up; things seemed perfect.  Three weeks after moving in, perfect was farthest from the truth. My uncle’s sister offered me a safe place to live while I searched for a better situation, and within hours my belongings were in a pile in her garage.  That moment seemed so backward. Here I was now living 1-1 ½ hours away from work depending on traffic, not to mention a different state! Yet, I wouldn’t trade those next 11 weeks. I began to heal and got to spend precious time with her parents who were visiting from Nigeria.

Jessica Stinson Home

 

Each night as I walked in the door, Grandpa would look up with a warm smile and sparkling eyes and say, “Jessica, you are home.  Welcome.” My aunt was happy to let me rent from her and joked I could stay until my wedding day. However, we both agreed the commute was killer and could be dangerous come winter.  By then all the other housing situations I had looked into had fallen through, and I told God that I gave up on looking.

Isn’t it funny that the next Sunday at church I was approached by a friend and asked to consider renting a room from him and his wife?  It was everything I had been praying for, except I couldn’t afford it. I was so disappointed. I cried and asked God why He would show me such a great situation but not make it possible?  Silly me, 3 weeks would change that.

The weekend after Thanksgiving I moved in with my two friends and their two kids; knowing that we would move again when they bought a house. I’m not going to lie, though I was excited to move in with them, I had fears of everything falling apart.  What if it turned out to be everything like Move #4? I’m so glad it has been everything but. I have continued to heal and come back out of the shell I retreated to after being hurt. It has been refreshing to witness the genuine love they have for each other, and a joy to play with their kids.  Every day I find myself thanking God that I get to live with them, knowing only God could have carried me through this crazy year.

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Clearly, I have thought a lot about home this year.  Home is not just a place to rest your head, home is a place to be at rest and belong.  The thing is, I can guarantee no matter how great your home is now, it is not perfect. That is because as Christians, our true home is in Heaven.  The fact that Heaven is home, gives us hope and freedom while we remain on earth.  This year has been an adventure.  But my ultimate adventure is following Jesus every day.  Which means home is wherever God has called me to be in this moment.  That is why I have been able to call the side of a mountain, a foreign country, a dorm room, where I live now, and so many other places home.  It does not need to make sense to others, because God will be faithful to provide for me.

I still live across the state border from work.  But God has blessed me with a reliable car, a safe place to live, a joyful place to work, great music for the ride between, and funds to survive. Plus, who else gets to see skyscrapers, mountain sunrises, a pink limousine, and cows in their commute?

In return, I will be faithful to go where God leads me and do what he has called me to. Looking towards the future can be ominous sometimes. But by trusting God, and doing what He says, I can be sure that He will make a way.  It may not always be perfect, or what I imagined, but it will definitely be good and leave me with a grateful heart as I follow my Savior to my true home.


IMG_5532Jessica is a lover of laughter and adventures. She enjoys pointing out the fun and beauty of learning to her 4th-grade students. The best compliment she ever received from a student was, “Miss Stinson, I feel like everything you do relates to Jesus, math, or singing.” Outside of the classroom, you will most likely find her hiking and taking pictures. Mountain summits, sunrises, s’mores, hot apple cider, dalmatians, and puns hold a special place in her heart. Her ultimate adventure is following Jesus each and every day.

Finding Home

Author: Karly Grant

What do Chris Daughtry, Macaulay Culkin, Bowflex, and The Bible have in common? They all, in varying ways, have used their platform to influence our culture’s ideas about home.

What is this vague, yet familiar idea of “home” that we all use in our daily lives, yet have a hard time defining? Is it a place? Is it people? Is it an ideal? Is it a concept that can never be fully understood or reached?

This elusive ideal seems difficult to pin down because it is subjectively based on our own life experiences. Below are some of the influences that have shaped my view of this seemingly abstract word.  

Music

Music has always played a huge role in my life.  Often songs can put my thoughts and prayers into words better than I can. Musicians have long tapped into the nostalgia that we create around this place called home. From classics like “Home on the Range” to holiday comforts like “I’ll be Home for Christmas” something about our dwelling places awakens our emotions.  

This is where Chris Daughtry comes in. If you recall, Chris Daughtry was on the fifth season of American Idol (and got sent home way too early in my heart-throbbing opinion). After the show, he successfully made a career out of being a musician. One of his most popular songs is simply called “Home,” with lyrics such as, “I’m going home, back to the place where I belong, and where your love has always been enough for me.” Is home a place? Is it people? Is it about having somewhere we belong?

Growing up in the church, another voice that influenced my teen years was Steven Curtis Chapman’s. In 1997, he released the song, “Not Home Yet” and you better believe that CD was spinning in my Discman on repeat. The idea is that, no matter how comfortable we are, we will not really reach our home until we’re in Heaven praising God. There is a longing only met outside of this world, a longing that awakened after the exile from Eden.

Movies

Another vociferous influence in our lives is the film industry. Home is an ideal that we can all relate to, so there are several movies that focus on this. One of the first things that pops into my head is Macaulay Culkin and the beloved Home Alone franchise. I can’t tell you how many times I watched and laughed through these movies as a kid. I watched the first two again around Christmas this last year, and sadly (maybe proudly) could still recite most of the lines. Just in case you need a refresher, Kevin McCallister is accidentally left home alone while his family goes on a vacation, people try to break into his house, and hilarious shenanigans ensue. By the end of it, while he had technically been home all along he misses his family. So what is home? Is it people more than a place? Is it knowing to whom we belong?

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Advertisements

Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all influenced by advertisements every day. From billboards to infomercials, from radio ads to catchy jingles, it is impossible to avoid. One major selling tactic that is used is to convince you that you never need to leave your house because you can use this product or that “from the comfort of your own home” (i.e. Bowflex home gym)! Whether it be online shopping, working out, or even taking college courses, these advertisers are all about comfort. So what is home? Is it where you’re most comfortable? Is it our belongings?

The Bible

Why is there so much confusion about this idea of home? Is it about comfort? Is it about people? Is home where your family is? This is something I’ve been pondering a lot in my own life. If it’s about people, how does that fit with where God has me as a single person who lives alone? We often use comfort or familiarity to define home. For instance, our place of employment is often called our home away from home because it’s where we spend a large chunk of our lives. We call our places of worship our home churches. All of these things seem to play a role in what we see as home, but I think that maybe the reason we have a hard time pinpointing what exactly defines this idea is because Steven Curtis Chapman had it right all along. We’re not home yet.

Karly Grant Home

Our home is ultimately with Christ, in a world without sin, where we will know ultimate comfort, peace, and be in the presence of our perfect King who loves us more than anyone in our current lives ever could. It is where our hope belongs.

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2, ESV).


Karly 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.

 

 

Images found at Pixabay