Celebration of Freedom

Imagine with me: You’ve just had the most amazing, first-hand encounter with God. It seemed like spectacular showing off from the creator. It reached into dreams you had long set aside, and even though you doubted if He even cared about your suffering, you are now assured that He heard your cries. There is no denying what you have seen. Your full trust is placed in this God who has shown up in your need as your rescuer. Standing on the precipice of freedom, victory has been won. You will soon leave your old life behind. There is no way you will ever go back there again. 
This storyline of freedom plays out over and over again in the lives of people who follow the God of the Bible; it is considered a “Mega theme” that points out the ways that God operates and interacts with humanity. Have you had this kind of moment?  
Holly Hawes Celebrate
Some might call it a mountaintop experience. A moment after which you cannot deny that God is alive and that he is working in the middle of our daily lives. Who could keep from celebrating? We rejoice when it is so evident that God has revealed his power and love on behalf of actual people! 
Take a moment sometime soon to page through the book of Exodus. I have often imagined the people and places living out what feels like a vivid screenplay. Recently though, I have left the theatrics behind and pondered how I am just like them. What was it like to walk in the shoes of those God set free?  
People who have been set free remember and they celebrate:  
“This day is to be a memorial for you, and you are to celebrate it throughout your 
generations…” Exodus 12:14a 


Before leaving Egypt, while still in the land of enslavement, God told his people to celebrate. Paradoxically, the party starts with remembering the pain and the struggle. Remembering how they had cried out to God and how God intervened as their rescuer. We can only celebrate freedom when we know what we are free from. The Passover celebration became a way to yearly point back in time at God’s faithful care, rescuing power, and mighty love. But it also points forward to Jesus, the true Passover lamb, who died to rescue us when we didn’t even realize we needed it and rose again conquering all that has ever enslaved us. 
Celebration Holly Hawes
I find it hard to remember, or even recognize the places God is at work in my life unless I take the time to notice. Processing the journey with other people helps. Journaling the things I am learning helps cement them into my consciousness.  
When I am set free from the need to control my life, the fear of people’s opinions, or the desire for comfort in unhealthy ways, it is valuable to find a way to remember. Even if it was only a small moment, it is encouraging to look back later at the string of tiny things I didn’t realize were individual footprints across the bottom of an impossible sea. 


Celebrate anytime you know God is at work, whether it shows up as conviction, freedom, or simply how God orchestrates life to show that He is watchful and caring. The people of God don’t celebrate only once they cross seas miraculously and arrive at the final destination. Celebration is called for, even in the unfinished pieces of our stories.  
In my life, this looks like sharing life with our home community and rejoicing even with places of our hearts still pleading for need and work. It looks like crying over baptisms. Pointing out celebrations at birthdays in thanks for what God has done over the last year. Gathering people, sharing good food, and pointing to the one who has provided so much more than we ever realized we needed. 
Every single step toward freedom is worth celebrating, no matter how small it may seem. 


Holly 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 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.
 Pictures found at Pixabay

Anticipating Celebration

When I think of celebration, I can’t help thinking of the wait that’s so often attached.

I think of the unfulfilled callings held quietly inside for years – either left on a back burner or pursued unsuccessfully over and over again; until suddenly God brings all the right pieces together in a whirlwind of motion.

I think of the woman who bore a disfiguring tumor for decades before God provided an opportunity for surgery as the answer to her prayers. Or the joyful praise of a man who’d  just regained his sight after being blind for half his life. And the teenager who spent several years in a wheelchair, unsure if she’d ever walk again – until she did.

Celebration Rachel Olson

The depth of celebration witnessed in long-awaited moments feels like a glimpse of heaven.

We see it in the Bible as well.

It’s the story of Abraham and Sarah – when God promised them a son, they were full of doubt and went looking for their own shortcuts; God fulfilled his promise through the birth of Isaac.

It’s the Israelites, who lived in slavery for 400 years before God parted the Red Sea and rescued them from Egypt. If that hadn’t felt long enough already, they went straight into wandering the desert for 40 years before entering the Promised Land.

Throughout the Old Testament, God’s people lived in a state of waiting, hoping for the day when the promised Messiah would come.

It’s the story of Jesus himself, when he entered the tomb and the world held its breath for 3 days.

Rachel Olson Celebrate

Today it’s our story as we wait to see God’s faithfulness in the little details of everyday life, and as we wait for the ultimate celebration. Hearts longing for a place better than this one; longing for the day when Jesus will be nearer than ever before. When all darkness and pain will be swept away.

When doubt and discouragement come, may we look to stories from the past to remind us of God’s constant faithfulness. The wait may be long, but celebration is coming.

“Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.”  (Psalm 111:2-4)

Rachel Olson HeadshotRachel Olson recently moved back to the US after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.


Photos from Pixabay.



Celebrating as a Family

As we approach August, my husband and I are anticipating the biggest celebration we’ve yet to experience during our entire time of knowing one another.  Yes, we do have four kids and each of those birthdays was a celebration – but I only carried each child for nine months.  This, this has been carried, prayed through, cried through, struggled through, cheered through and anticipated since two weeks after we met ten years ago.  It’s been ten intensive years since starting this long journey (when neither of us knew what we were saying “yes” to) for my husband to become a family nurse practitioner.

These years have been filled with much life, much heartache, much celebration and much trial.  We’ve moved four times, bought our first house, had four children, started homeschooling for our oldest kids, had job changes, finished one degree just to turn around and start the next, had family struggles, had money struggles, and had a lot of loneliness.  So many good and hard aspects of life have happened in these ten years but as I look forward to the next two months, I see so much worth celebrating.

Celebrate Kayla Anderson

I see my husband, his dedication to schooling, and his heart for being able to serve others in a wholesome way in the health field. I want to celebrate that beautiful vision, determination, and strength to follow what he felt called to.  I see my children who are understanding life in deeper ways because their dad is amazing at devoting special time to them. I see their hearts yearning for more of that, the day coming over the horizon when he won’t have to spend endless days studying at the local coffee shop.  I want to celebrate their great attitudes, perseverance, and that they are almost there, too!  I see my days of solo parenting changing and looking differently after August.  I celebrate having my partner coming alongside me in fuller ways as we work through many more of our parenting years!

I see both our family time and our bank account being less stretched.  I am celebrating the idea of less stretching and more of the fun family outings that my adventure-seeking family thrives on!  I see so much good in store for us after these long 10 years of often painful hard work, taking the next steps in obedience and waiting for the graduation date to near.  But just as my time always came for childbirth, there will be a day arriving soon where the intense schooling is in the past, where we can hardly remember any of the pain and struggle but only the celebration of graduation day.

John 16:21 “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.”

So, when those friends and family ask what we’ll be doing in August when he’s done – despite conflicting feelings of “is it silly to celebrate a college graduation when you’re 32?” or feelings that after so much isolation from schooling, he may not even really have friends anymore – I eagerly tell them, “we’re going to celebrate!”

Yes, we are going to celebrate.  I don’t know much else about what we’ll be doing aside from that, but I do know we are going to call up all our friends and family and gather everyone who has been on this journey with us and we are going to celebrate this long and hard season coming to a close. We are going to celebrate what the Lord has set out before my husband to accomplish.  We are going to celebrate that we have seen blessings even in the trials of this long season.  We are going to celebrate lessons, hard work, and perseverance that we have been taught as a whole family.  We are going to celebrate that we’ve never lost hope in His plan because God has given us all strength and endurance.

All the while of anticipating and preparing for this celebration time, the verse that keeps coming to my mind is Psalm 34:8a, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.” This Psalm is an invitation from David to trust in the Lord.  To celebrate in what the Lord has done for us.

Kayla Anderson Celebration

My family has waited, pursued and trusted in a calling from the Lord.  And now?  Now we are so eager to celebrate what the Lord has done for us, to give thanks to Him.  As we get near the end, we are getting a taste of what life will be like on the other side of graduation and there is no doubt, the Lord is good.

 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.
Photo Credit: Pexels and Pixabay

3 Women of the Bible Who Brought Unexpected Celebration

Author: Karly Grant

June is often a time of celebration. From graduations, end of a school year, Father’s Day and the beginning of wedding season, there is often one party after another. In my family there are several birthdays and retirements as I have always been surrounded by educators. All of these milestones are absolutely deserving of recognition, the accomplishments honored, and an acknowledgment of the hard work it took to get there. However, I would argue that it is equally as important to celebrate the victories, blessings, and accomplishments in life that may not be as planned or anticipated in our lives.

Life has not been easy lately as I’ve seen plans that I have made seemingly unravel around me. Things that I anticipated celebrating simply haven’t happened. However, God has remained faithful in showing me the small victories hidden in every day. He has used these disappointments to pave the way for His plans to find life down the road.

For example, I recently started a new job. A job for a company that I didn’t plan to work, in a state that I didn’t plan to be in, and at a different time than I would have liked. On paper, this new path I’m walking is the exact opposite of what I had planned. However, with this job comes opportunity down the road that I hadn’t anticipated, which may actually make my eventual move an easier process. I can celebrate the fact that God is opening doors, even if they are different than the doors that I have been trying to pry open myself.

Celebration Karly Grant

As I have been rejoicing in these unexpected celebrations, I can’t help but think of women in the Bible who found themselves also celebrating things they may not have anticipated or that worked out completely differently than they planned.  


The mother of Jesus. I have never walked in her shoes, who has, but I doubt that as a child she dreamed of growing up and immaculately conceiving as a teenager, which led her to give birth in a stable to the Messiah.

Even when we dream big, we can’t out dream God. His dream is likely grander than anything we have ever dreamed for ourselves. Mary didn’t plan this life and was understandably terrified as the angel said, “Do not be afraid.” Yet it didn’t take her long to trust God and celebrate. Luke 1:46-55 tells of Mary’s song which begins, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” (Luke 1:46b-47 ESV). Mary rejoiced even when things didn’t go as planned.


Let’s go back in time to another example of a woman rejoicing about pregnancy. Genesis tells the story of Sarah and Abraham. God had promised that Abraham’s offspring would become a great nation, yet Sarah found herself in her 90s with no children. She was so set in her own understanding of God’s plan that she laughed when she heard that it had been prophesied that she would give birth in her old age. She doubted God, as any of us would in that situation. Yet her laughter was turned to celebration when she named her son Isaac which means “he will laugh.” Genesis 21:6-7 records her response, “And she said, ‘Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.


While childbearing was a common theme for women in the Bible and often seen as a sign of God’s favor on these women, God uses women such as Esther to show you don’t have to pop out a baby to be powerful. Esther’s bravery brought about celebrations that she never could have anticipated. When her own people were being threatened with death, she entered the palace and became the queen.  She boldly approached the king, which could have led to her death, and pled for the lives of her people to be spared. Esther trusted God and believed Mordecai’s encouragement, “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, ESV)

She confidently went to the king, saying, “If I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16, ESV). Esther was shown favor and her people were eventually saved from the fear of death. Esther became a leader in the land as a female, and that was a huge thing to celebrate. Even though God is not mentioned at all in the book of Esther, it is clear that He was using people in this story, and especially an orphaned girl who seemed to have no hope, to show that He gives strength and boldness to those who serve Him. Not only was Esther’s life spared, but so were many others, and we still learn from her story today. She only saw the beginning of the celebration that came from her faith and boldness.

Karly Grant Celebration

Mary, Sarah, and Esther are all examples of women laying down their own plans and living out God’s, and this is worth celebrating. Not only in the lives of these biblical characters, but also in our own lives. I have seen His faithfulness in my own life and trust that it will continue. Celebration doesn’t always come in the form of long-awaited successes or recognition. Sometimes there are blessings that God simply offers us that we can’t strive for, things to celebrate that only He can provide. I am grateful to serve a God who sees where I’m at, knows what is best for me, and shows me how to celebrate what He celebrates.

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. God has laid this heavily on her heart and she is willing to trust Him. This homebody is taking the biggest leap of faith yet this spring and moving 1,700 miles away from the life and people she has known as long as she can remember. She is both terrified and so stinking excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.

The Most Captivating Celebrations

My favorite holiday when I was a kid was always the 4th of July. I loved the fireworks, my family’s tradition of making homemade ice cream and running around in warm weather with my brood of cousins. It was enough to make it the most anticipated family gathering of the year for me. It beat out Christmas and Thanksgiving hands down. The fireworks were always the highlight of the evening and they filled me with awe and wonder.

Jacqi Kambish Celebration

As an adult, awe and wonder have been harder to grab a hold of. Life has a way of stealing joy and laughter if we let it, and there have been times when I let it. There have been times when I crawled into my hole of darkness and forgot there were reasons to laugh, or sing, or dance. There have also been times when other people thought that I should laugh less loudly, less heartily, and less often—I let their ideas dampen my joy. There have been times when it seemed the seriousness of life demanded that I apologize for finding the silver lining.

There are many reasons in this life to be depressed, hurt, angry, lost, resentful, and bitter. But I’ve found through the love and grace of Christ Jesus that there are plenty of every day joys to celebrate as well.

Even in the midst of sorrow, hardship, uncertainty, and pain there are often moments of pleasure, reasons to laugh, and opportunities to be filled with awe and wonder.

As a child the big celebrations grabbed my attention and held my esteem. But as an adult, I’ve learned to look for the little daily surprises and sweet moments to fill my heart with gladness.

Moments like my kids playing nicely together, the back yard flowers blooming with a sweet aroma, and the colors of the sunset.

Moments when my kids show undeserved kindness, plant pop-cycle kisses on my cheek, and talk to me about what’s happening in their lives.

Moments when we celebrate birthdays, academic successes, and new opportunities.

Big moments, like when my daughter reached the 6-months-seizure-free mark and the anticipation that, soon, she will reach the one year mark.

Celebration Jacqi Kambish

Celebrations over potty training successes and the kid’s remembering to flush…and wash hands!

Celebrations like 13 years of marriage to my best friend.

Celebrations like the grass coming in green and the roof holding out for just a bit longer…

Thankfulness for a working laundry machine, summer breezes, and quiet moments watching the kids run in the sprinklers.

And there is more…

Celebrating the way God provides when the money isn’t there, and watching as he moves in the hearts of my kids.

Watching as God turns the sorrow of Epilepsy, and a truck load of other diagnoses, into the development of strength and character in a struggling little girl.

Turning a regular boring night into a family dance party just because.

Celebrating all those little moments; moments I was given to spend with my family, just living and laughing together.

I wouldn’t change it, and I don’t want to miss it.

As a child, I watched the fireworks, but now I watch my kid’s faces.

At one time I was hoping for the man of my dreams. Now I’m proud of the man I married.

The every day celebrations beat out the big celebratory festivities of fleeting seasons every single time…but only if I notice them.

I wouldn’t change that for the most spectacular fireworks display.

Because the most captivating celebrations of my life are the ones I almost miss.

“The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3


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.

Book Review: The Road Back to You

When I first heard about the Enneagram, I was skeptical. Another personality test—a set of questions used to place me into a category I think I might not necessarily fit into. My church, however, had an upcoming one-day conference utilizing the Enneagram to gain a greater depth of knowing and relating to the congregation. Hesitantly, I took the plunge and decided to take an Enneagram online test.

The Enneagram is a typology test, separating a person into one of nine personality types, which emerge from childhood. Some say that the Enneagram number you best match up with is the way God originally made you to be, before everyone else told you who to become.

When I took the online test, I have to be honest: I was sort of disappointed. It wasn’t until I read Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s The Road Back to You, that I gained clarification in my typology and began to understand the complexity of the Enneagram itself. My initial disappointment quickly turned from intrigue to understanding and finally to acceptance.

As long as we stay in the dark about how we see the world and the wounds and beliefs that have shaped who we are, we're prisoners of our history. We'll continue going through life on aut

In the book, Ian describes burnout from the church he was pastoring, and how he sought out spiritual direction from Br. Dave, a Benedictine monk. It was Br. Dave that introduced Ian to the Enneagram. “What we don’t know about ourselves can and will hurt us, not to mention others … As long as we stay in the dark about how we see the world and the wounds and beliefs that have shaped who we are, we’re prisoners of our history. We’ll continue going through life on autopilot doing things that hurt and confuse ourselves and everyone around us. Eventually, we become so accustomed to making the same mistakes over and over in our lives that they lull us to sleep. We need to wake up.”

I’m a 2w1 (two wing one), meaning my personality type most lines up with Type 2, The Helper (or my personal favorite title for a Type 2, The Befriender). The wing represents the number that my personality also leans toward—it’s adjacent to my typology number, and I tend to display characteristics of my wing in my personality as well. Type 1 is titled The Perfectionist. You might be able to see why I was initially disappointed when I found out I was a Helping Perfectionist. Yikes. Thankfully, The Road Back to You left my heart encouraged. I can now identify the parts of myself that are unhealthy, and the parts of myself that, when healthy, mean I can lovingly serve God’s people the best, without losing a sense of self.  

I can now identify the parts of myself that are unhealthy, and the parts of my self that when healthy, mean I can lovingly serve God's people the best, without losing a sense of self.

The Ennegram intends to bring illumination to those who take the test, and Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s book beautifully describes each personality type. As I dove into my number’s chapter, I began to relate to the characteristics explained, including the deadly sin my number gravitates toward when unhealthy. Colossians 3:10 shares, “So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Learning more about myself has encouraged me to know more about God: His creativity, His love for us. As Thomas À Kempis says, “A humble self-knowledge is a surer way to God than a search after deep learning.”

The Road Back to You is a useful tool in discovering a deeper knowledge of your Enneagram personality type. Its intent is to help people rediscover who God created them to be, and allow God’s people to relate to one another on a more complex level.

Have you taken the Enneagram test? If not, here’s one we recommend. If you have taken the Enneagram test, what’s your typology? What has God been teaching you through this discovery?

sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, 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 at her blog or on Instagram.