A Focus on Friendship

Author: Kimberley Mulder

My “one word” for 2017 is friendship. At the beginning of each year I spend some time listening to God and observing my journey thus far to discern what one word I am to focus my attentions for the upcoming year. It is always something that God is cultivating in my life, maybe pruning, but always bringing greater life.

To begin my year’s focus , I prayed about my friendships, and discovered a deep gratitude that rescues me from the seeping insecurities about them. When I forget to approach these relationships as God’s gifts I mire in doubts that others care for me, that I fail people too often, that people are rejecting me. These are fears founded on my sinful nature, for I do fail friends, but what God, and my lovely friends, are showing me is that they forgive me and love me.

In addition to cementing this foundation of gratitude for the friends I have, God has been showing me his friendship. I have found great delight in reading an account from the gospels as if I were there as His friend. I observe in my mind’s eye what is recorded, and His Spirit fills my imagination with details of the setting, with personalities of the characters, with words and actions that may have occurred. And I interact with Jesus, asking questions, listening, following and watching him. I am sure this imaginative imagery is not an accurate depiction of what occurred in real time 2000 years ago, however, through it Jesus is present to me as a friend!

One word FriendshipNaturally, I have to read a book or two about my “one word” and so I started with one on spiritual friendship – “Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship and Direction” by David G. Benner. It is a rich explanation and exploration of soul friendship. These are the friends who nurture your soul and care deeply about your whole self. These are the companions God has given you on your transformational journey with Christ. They are vital gifts from God! The guidance in the book has already blessed my relationships.

Then there is the guidance I am giving my daughter regarding friendships and “friending” online. She is a pre-teen and her world is dictated by peers. We recently walked her through the positives and negatives of using social media, building her foundation to connect and care for her friends. We have given her expectations and guidance to treat everyone as she wishes to be treated even as she encounters peers who aren’t held to these same expectations. We are trying to give her the tools and abilities to build her ship with her friends to sail together through these adolescent years.

Friendship Kim MulThis leads to our family’s newest adventure in friendships. This summer we did not sign up for any camps or classes, we are not taking any trips and our schedule is REALLY empty. (Hear my gulp of faith mixed with fear that God will fill all these days with good things?) Instead, I have been telling every friend and neighbor to come visit us, play with us, eat with us. Come summer break, we will be issuing invitations regularly to hang outs, picnics, trips to the library, you name it. And reiterating to everyone to drop by which is counter-cultural, at least in our neighborhood. This is a giant leap of faith for me – one in which I think we will be learning quickly how to build and maintain our family’s ship of friends!

I urge you to pray over your friendships, to see them through God’s eyes, to find resources that infuse life into your relationships and will help you train your children to model true friendship to a world addicted to “friending”.


Readers, how could you work on a friendship today?

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 records the reflections and connections Jesus gives her to share with others.  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)

The Legacy of Adoption

Author: Kimberley Mulder

My daughter was born and abandoned. This is a fact I cannot change. It deeply affects her sense of the world and herself. She, nor I, can separate ourselves from this legacy—as painful as it is. In fact, disowning or denying it equates to putting a rock in a crack to create a path, only to find that the rock pushes the sides apart. Then we are left with a greater divide.

I too was born into a broken legacy. Adam and Eve brought forth this terrible break from the Provider of our needs, both physical and spiritual. We cannot separate ourselves from that which our forbearers passed on, nor can we change it, nor prevent continuing it, for that is a fact of the world until God’s kingdom comes fully.

Care and ConnectionWe are sure to leave a legacy of need. Even beyond our physical, cellular level which clamors for touch, food, water, and shelter, our spirits are born with a screaming cry for care and connection.

God sees. God foresees. God made a way to rescue us from our old legacy not by removing our needs, but by meeting them.  God changed our legacy by adopting us, giving us Himself, all His loving care, and all His delight.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!” -Psalm 33:12

So Jesus came within our legacy of need and brokenness. Fully human and fully God, He experienced His spirit’s cry for connection. Each of his prayers a cord stretching across the gap connecting God and man. Each healing another cord of love drawing God and man together. Each teaching another cord of revelation of God’s heart to man. Then God wrenched those cords tight, drawing the sides together, closing the gap humanity’s fall had created. With the might of his self surrender and self sacrifice on the cross Jesus met our greatest need. The temple curtain ripped, the day turned to night, and God suffered so that we no longer had to. He gave us a new legacy.

Adoption LegacyTo live into our new legacy we must still walk honestly through the old legacy—with Jesus. The more I bring my needs to God, or allow him to excavate them in order to meet them, the more I am able to say with words and actions to my adopted daughter: “I see you. I want to meet your needs so that you can feel safe and worthy, to be with you in the legacy you find yourself.” As I do so, I am entering the legacy of Jesus—the legacy of love, healing, and connection, and I am, with every prayer and participation in every healing, drawing the cords of loving kindness across the crevice in my daughter’s heart so that she too can grab hold of the legacy Jesus holds out to her.


Readers, How has your legacy been redeemed? Tell us in the comments.

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 records the reflections and connections Jesus gives her to share with others.  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)

Finding Spring: A Special Needs Journey

Author: Jacqi Kambish

Life always seems to move in cycles of intertwined seasons.

“A misty winter brings a pleasant spring, a pleasant winter brings a misty spring”-Irish Proverb

Jacqi Kambish AV Special needs parentingThe ebb and flow of laughter, pain, anger, loss, hardship, joy, love…it weaves us into the tapestries that we are—complex and colorful.

As a parent of a child with special needs, there is a sorrow too deep to voice and at the same time a thriving hope and optimism that runs parallel to the difficulty of watching my child struggle. The beauty and pain of my soul’s winter season is a complex entanglement, where icy blues are folded into joyful pops of bright spring colors. Even as my heart breaks, hope and happiness burst through.

There are everyday reminders:  The number of the hospital saved in my phone, the seizure log my daughter packs for school, and the medications with their side effects.  She wants to climb the playground equipment, ride a bike, and swim but it’s complicated.  Each day is marked with exceptional difficulty and challenge.

My daughter is 8 years old and has Epilepsy, ADHD, and learning disabilities.  Her seizures are uncontrolled, and every day I watch as she struggles as medication after medication remains ineffective.  I watch as she tries to understand and control her emotions.  I watch as her mind gives up and begins to seize when presented with difficulty and stress.  I watch as she cries and laments the difficulty of school as she becomes frustrated with her inability to engage in all the activities she wants to pursue.

I’ve read, researched, and studied.  I’ve pleaded with God to give us a cure, to find something that works for her.  And yet…the struggle remains.

As I watch, my emotions range from anger to sorrow, to helplessness, to hope, to perseverance, to acceptance, to positivity, encouragement, and back around…

But…I watch something else as well.

My daughter, in all her struggle, has the most amazingly sweet and compassionate heart.  She sees people.  She wants people to be happy and is deeply saddened by their pain.  She prays for the “bad people in the world” because… “They need Jesus too.” When I’m angry that a kid at school hurt her feelings, through tears she asks me for guidance on how to love them better.  She ponders that kindness is the best response and laments at how difficult kindness can be.  She amazes me.

I don’t know why God hasn’t healed my daughter yet.  I don’t know why she has to struggle so much.  I don’t know why he gave her to me when I am so fallen and struggle so often to control my own emotions.

Special Needs Parenting Jacqi Kambish (1)At times when my heart cries out “WHY?” God softly reminds me that he loves her deeply, that he sees her and that he sees me.   He speaks quietly into my heart the understanding and hope that he has a specific plan for her and that her life has a purpose I cannot understand or fathom.  When I stop and listen, what God says to the deepest corners and hardest places in my heart is that her pain and difficulty is not for nothing.  Her struggle is not pointless, meaningless, or unseen.

Ultimately, his game plan and end goal is for a beautiful child of the King to immerge from the ashes triumphant and victorious in Christ Jesus.  What he beckons us both toward is closer relationship with him as he sweetly says, “Lean on Me, trust Me, wait on Me.”

I don’t know what the LORD is doing.  I don’t understand it.  I don’t like it, but I do believe that He is good.  I do believe that He knows what he is doing and that hope, redemption, and goodness will ultimately be revealed.  So, in the moments of deep sorrow, fear, and “winter”, I hold tight to hope in Christ and to my belief that God is our defender and the only real source of rest.  And, the peace I find as I soak in the rays of God’s truth is as warm and glorious as the first sunny day of spring.


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 http://thepresumptuousladybug.com/ and you can connect with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thepresumptuousladybug/ .

This Side of Wonderland

Author: Kimberley Mulder

When I was younger I lived off of Wonderland Road. It’s a long boundary road on the west side of London, Ontario, that unassumingly enters from corn fields in the north. It rolls down the best bike coasting hill, through countless intersections, over the River Thames, past gaping parking lots until again it trundles back out to the cornfields. There is nothing deeply wonderful about it, and London is a long way from Wonderland, but it’s there that my wondering began. 

God can take our wonderings, even our worryings, and use them to draw us close to Him.It is here that I grappled with the wonderings of youth: “Do they like me? Does he like me? Will she be okay? Why did they have to die? Who is God? Is He good? What should I do with my life?” I had moved to this beautiful old subdivision off Wonderland Road at age nine, but the map to identity seemed like it was hidden in Wonderland itself. 

This was as it needed to be, so that I could discover Wonder Himself. I took my questions everywhere and found answers at church, not at school. When I reeled in shock at the sudden deaths of friends in a tragic accident, I wondered “How could this happen?” My comfort came not in knowing why or how, but in knowing Him.

These words of the Heidelberg Catechism sprang to life from their deaths: “What is your only comfort in life and death? That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” Into this assurance I dug deeper, wondering anew at each discovery and finding a new wondering underneath, until I found that the process of wondering and discovering produced true Wonder in my heart.

K Mulder WonderThat place of Wonder became homebase, became my rock to stand on, became the soil for my roots, became the “I” for my identity. Wonder welcomed me on this side of Wonderland. It is beautiful how God can take our wonderings, even our worryings, and use them to draw us close enough to Him that we stop wondering and simply sit in Wonder. Gone is the need to know and be in control,  what comes is peace in the unknowing as the Wonder of our hearts holds us close.

Had Jesus answered every question quickly and definitively (which is what I wanted), I would not have discovered the wonder of being with Him. Sure, I would have had answers but no relationship. A text book faith.

My faith would have been as boring and expected as the asphalt strip of Wonderland that bounds London. I think I would not have ventured far in faith or life (and what is the difference between these?), I would not have become glad in the humble place of not knowing. I would not have clung to Him but rather to the road. Jesus is the Way, but he is not a road. Do not cling to the path you are on, cling to Him – and He will lead you in all ways wonderful!


 Readers, How can you incorporate more wonder into your day? Take a moment to marvel at the greatness of our God.
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. Though trained as a bassoonist for her undergraduate degree, she expresses her creativity now in gardening, cooking and writing.  Traveling to new places is a joy for her, including the challenge of learning a new language and trying whatever the local food is – even roast guinea pig and horse meat! And wherever she is, she spends as much time outside as she can. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and records the reflections and connections Jesus gives her to share with others.  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)

Peace and Forgivness for the Restless and Angry

Author: Linda L. Kruschke

 I feel a pang of anger each time I see a Facebook post or Internet meme stating that abortion is murder. Not because I disagree. I do not. I am angry, because I didn’t know until it was too late.

These calls to save the babies are important, because what one doesn’t know can kill. I know now that babies can have a heartbeat as early as 4 weeks after conception. I know now that 20 weeks after conception they can feel pain. It is even possible for a baby born after only 23 weeks gestation to survive outside the womb.

abortion-crisis-pregnancyThe doctors and nurses at the clinic where my abortion was performed didn’t share that information with me.

I’m angry that they didn’t provide me with choices or give me the opportunity to make an informed decision.

I’m angry that they didn’t ask how I got pregnant. I was raped, but that didn’t concern them.

I am angry that the pro-life movement spends so much time focusing on the babies that they often forget the women (or quite often young girls) who have been traumatized by the abortion industry.

I’ m angry that the supposed pro-choice movement in this country often denies the facts from women facing crisis pregnancies.

I believed the lie that an abortion was the only answer to a crisis pregnancy.

I could stay angry, but I feel God’s Spirit remind me that anger and vengeance are not mine. What is mine is forgiveness. And when I focus on God’s forgiveness, knowing He understands my regret and desires to heal my broken heart, peace begins to grow.

This is when I realize that God hasn’t called me to try to change the hearts and minds of those who are pro-choice or to condemn the methods of those who are pro-life. What God calls me to do is to bring His message of mercy and forgiveness to women. Women, like me, who have endured the trauma of abortion and sometimes feel like there will never be rest for their soul.

Peace is offered in Jesus, who died to pay for all our sins, including aborting the lives of our children. He will forgive all. His forgiveness binds the broken heart.

abortion-forgivness-hopeAre you among the millions of women who have had an abortion because you believed you had no other choice? Were you pressured by your boyfriend or husband, or perhaps even by an abuser? Were you single, with insufficient income to care for a child, and felt there was no other choice? Did you see your whole life’s plan ahead of you, a plan that didn’t have room for a child, and were told you had no other choice?

Do you live now with regret and heartache over the child you aborted? Do you struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts but don’t know why because you’ve buried the guilt over your abortion so deep you aren’t even consciously aware of it? Do you long to be closer to God but somehow feel that you will never be good enough for Him?

Dear one, you are not alone and you are loved. You are not the mistakes you have made and the wrongs you have done. You are loved by God and He desires to heal your deepest pain and hurt, to bring you forgiveness and peace. You only need to lay this burden—a burden that is much too heavy for you to bear alone—at the feet of Jesus. His truth and love will set you free to live in His peace.


Readers, If you have experienced the pain of abortion. We are praying that you will find the growing peace that Linda has experienced through Christ. He hides us in His righteousness and sees our failings no more. There is great freedom and hope in Jesus.

lindakruschke-at-kyrasLinda L. Kruschke is a wife, mother of one young adult, sister, aunt, friend, recovering lawyer, and follower of Jesus. She is the author of two poetry books — Light in My Darkness and Rejoice! Rejoice! — both available on Amazon.com. She blogs at Another Fearless Year  about faith, life, and whatever else comes to mind. In her spare time she enjoys reading, listening to music, traveling, playing ball with her dog, and cooking delicious meals for her family. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.

An earlier version of this post first appeared at Another Fearless Year.

Beauty for Ashes

By: Holly Berg

Three years ago we bought our son an adorable little t-shirt:  “Big Brother Team Captain”, it said. He wore it to Grandma and Grandpa’s house that evening – he was so excited to share the big secret he had been keeping.

My husband’s parents were ecstatic – they had been waiting for a second grandchild since the day our son was born!

Then I started bleeding. Just a little spotting, at first.

Then more.  beauty-for-ashes

We spent the night in the emergency room but by the time the doctor finally got around to examining me we already knew the diagnosis.

“Your pregnancy has terminated,” he said.  So cold. So clinical.

He gave me a prescription for T3 and sent me home with a dismissive “It’s so early, everything will happen naturally. Come back if the pain gets unbearable.”

Unbearable.

The next day I couldn’t move. I laid in bed and cried.

And cried and cried and cried.

We had only found out about the baby the week before.  One week – but I already loved my little bean.

I don’t know what I expected, but I didn’t expect the pain.

My husband had to carry me to the bathroom and then hold me while I sat there, shivering, shaking, trying not to be sick.

I’ve never seen him cry so much, or so hard.  It had only been one week, but he loved our baby too.

* * *

Two months later I found out that I was pregnant again.

I hated every moment of my relatively easy pregnancy with my son, but I cherished each moment of this much more difficult pregnancy.   It was a pregnancy filled with worry and fear and anxiety, but God replaced our mourning with joy.  

The Bible says “Those who sow with tears will reap songs of joy.  Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”  (Psalm 125:5-6, NIV)  And it reminds that the Lord will “provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” (Isaiah 61:3, NIV)

Ten months after my miscarriage, I gave birth to a healthy 6 lb 4 oz baby girl.  

Beauty from ashes.

At the time I clung to Scripture:  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  (Romans 8:28 (NIV))

Going through a miscarriage was horrible, it was scary and it was painful – but looking back, I can see how God revealed Himself – and His love for us – in that situation.  I can see how He worked all things – even our grief – for good.    

The tragedy we experienced strengthened my relationship with my husband. I remember the night after our trip to the hospital, lying in bed, sobbing, with a Kleenex box between us.  We were connected in love and grief.  We went through every moment of my third pregnancy together – my husband was much more attentive and much more involved than he had been the first time around!  We both learned that nothing in this life is a given – we need to depend on God for every single breath.  My husband was there for every doctor’s appointment, every ER visit, and every ultrasound – holding my hand, praying with me, calming my fears.  

ashes-and-beautyI also learned not to take the children I do have for granted.  Even on challenging days, when I’m exhausted and none of us are at our best, I see my children as blessings.  I realize my time with them may be fleeting so I try to make the most of each and every day with them. 

* * *

Maybe it’s just me, but in my experience beauty goes hand in hand with pain.  You can’t have one without the other.  

One of my favourite passages in Scripture says that we may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials, but “these have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  (1 Peter 1:6-7, NIV)

Being refined hurts.  Weaknesses and impurities are stripped away, leaving us with only what is genuine and true.  But the end result is something more worthy and much more beautiful than gold.  


Readers, Sometimes our deepest sorrows shine light on the richest beauty, but it is not always easy to see through the pain. It is our prayer that today you would have eyes to see that even in the midst of trouble God’s promises still stand true.

43483-2016headshotHolly Berg is a wife, mama, writer and horse nut who wrangles children by day and words by night. She writes to challenge, encourage and inspire others to see beauty in the everyday, minister in the mundane, and share their stories along the way. Read more of her writing at Scattered Words.

The Thanksgiving Phone Call that Changed our Lives

Author: Keri Nikkel

It was Thanksgiving Day. My husband Matt and I were at my in-laws, busying ourselves with laughter, food prep, and good conversation. Finally, the time came to eat. All the smells that had been tempting us for hours were about to be enjoyed. The food was set out buffet style in the kitchen, and we lined up one by one, each person grabbing a plate and creating mountains of mashed potatoes and turkey. I took a plate and held it out for Matt, but he wasn’t looking, he was on his phone. I rolled my eyes, thinking he was playing a game or checking NFL scores. But no, he had a missed call from our adoption case worker. Confused, we snuck off to another room to call her back, and heard the most unbelievable news I ever heard.

We had been chosen by a birth mother.

Eighteen months before that our adoption process had started. And the three years prior were full of doctors visits and no explanations. This process was full of uncertainty and hard work, which meant this control freak had a hard time not being in the driver’s seat. We experienced multiple delayed training classes, desperate fundraising to make the next big payment, a home walk through on our anniversary, and being one of 18 families waiting for a child. By the time we got the Thanksgiving call, we had become accustomed to waiting. And during the wait, I learned what God already knew, that I needed to experience that burdening season so I could learn that only He had control. He is worthy of being trusted with my deepest desires.

Twelve weeks passed between that Thanksgiving call and the time of the birth. That may not seem like much, but the anticipation and uncertainty made it feel like eternity. We loved on and built a relationship with the sweet woman who chose us, and were honored to be invited to witness her pastor pray over the unborn babe. Although, I could feel God strengthening us and leading us forward, I still felt like I was holding my breath—waiting for something to go wrong. Each day the enemy was quick to tempt me to be swallowed up by fear, and each day I had to make the choice to trust that God was bigger.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 ESV

No matter the outcome, God knew what was best for the baby and for our family. My prayers turned from, “God, please let this baby come home with us” to “God, I know you have a will for this child. Please place him exactly where you want him, even if that isn’t in our home.”

Valentine’s Day was a Sunday. We went to church, holding secret that induction would be happening the next morning. Making small talk, all the while trying not to be constricted to death by uncertainty. Afterwards, we headed home, packed the car and drove to the town where she lived. Tossing and turning most of the night, we woke early and made the 10 minute drive to the hospital. The short drive felt like a never ending tunnel. I sat in the passenger’s seat, wringing my hands until we saw the tan brick building. We parked the car, slowly walked in and joined our case worker in the waiting room.

After thirty minutes of nervous chatter a nurse walked in, “she would like you to come up now.” My stomach dropped. We took the elevator up, and in what seemed like slo-mo we walked past the nurses’ station. Each one of them staring at us, giving hesitant smiles. When we reached her room I knocked on the door. A friend of hers (whom we had met before) greeted us and brought us in. In that moment, peace washed over me and I knew. God would be glorified here, whether I go home as a mommy or not. What mattered was supporting this precious woman and her excruciating decision. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3 NIV

After two days of feeling all the feels and caring for a sweet baby boy, we took the two hour drive home as parents. The selfless love of a mother was the way I became one, and the details leading up to us bringing our son home minister to my heart every day. God also gave me an overwhelming love for a woman who chose life for a child who calls me Mama. And a trust in Him, that gives me courage in uncertainty.

Our lives have changed, and so has my faith. Not because this time I got what I wanted, but because God helped me learn to trade in fear for peace, control for obedience, and sadness for joy.

“LORD, you establish peace for us;

all that we have accomplished you have done for us.”

Isaiah 26:12 NIV


Readers, Do you have a story of how God showed you hope in a tough circumstance. We would love to help you share it. Check out our submissionspage for details.

Keri is a wife and new mama, who loves Jesus and believes we are all given a story that can be used to encourage others.

Temporary Dad

Author: Josh Hawes

I experienced something most fathers simultaneously dread, and consider one of their proudest moments in life. I took the arm of a young woman dressed in white and escorted her down the aisle to give her away to the man she loves. Though she wasn’t my daughter, and in actuality is slightly older than me, it was an honor and a privilege to usher her to the one she wed.

My wife and I desire to be hospitable as a way to show others the welcoming love of Christ. At various points throughout our marriage, even before becoming foster parents, we have had people live with us. Some stayed for a day or two to hide from an abusive ex, another for a year until she got married. One was the girl I walked down the aisle. We also long to care for the orphan. We have had 10 foster children, nine of which were in the last twelve months.

As they joined us in ones, twos, and fours, I began to notice a trend.  Almost without fail, they entered our home partially due to an absent or failed father. Some of these men were too controlling, some were absent, one left by death, and many were weighed down by the consequences of poor life choices. While I was not a replacement for these individuals’ dads, God revealed the deep strength of his Father’s heart more each time. I will never be Dad to the woman I walked down the aisle, but for one fleeting moment, I stepped up as Temporary Dad.

Our most recent foster daughter recently went home. As she prepared to leave she questioned her mom about when she would get married so she could have a dad. A discussion ensued with her and her mother about marriage and wisdom, but one part stood out to me; our foster daughter said, “Well of course Josh will always be my dad, but…”

While incredibly cute on the surface, her statement magnified the pressing need for fathers. This child’s statement demonstrates  how great the effects of being willing to step into someone’s life and fill a role, even for a short while can be. It is always inconvenient, it always hurts, and it is always worth it.

God is the true father to the fatherless, and for those who call Him their own, they are often called to father others. Sometimes this looks like adding a member permanently through adoption, or maybe it is helping a person make a budget, shop for a car, break up with their boyfriend. In whatever way God may call us, being someone’s temporary dad can make an impact for life. Moreover, it shows the heart of God the Father when you do it in His name. For His is the name that lasts eternally.

Our names, our actions, they are but a blip on the radar of time. Even with my adopted daughter, I cannot promise to always be there. She will be graduating in two and a half years. When she is in college, I won’t be able to protect her. When I get to walk her down the aisle, I will be handing over her protection and leadership to another man. Tragedy could strike and I could go to be with Jesus, leaving my family here. We are, all of us, temporary. So I have to hope and trust in something bigger than myself, knowing I am not enough. I know that God is the  better dad, the better husband, and the best provider.

I can trust him with the prayers I have prayed for my temporary daughters, sisters, and sons. I can trust Him with the chaos of this ever changing world. I can trust Him with all that I am, have done, or will do. For He is the never failing eternal Father.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Ephesians 1:3-4


Readers, How can you help others to find wisdom, hope, and trust in our Heavenly Father?

Josh Hawes is our first male voice here at Anchored Voices, and it is an honor to have him. He is a hard worker, husband, father, and foster father who is trying to faithfully walk through life as he is made more like Christ.

 

Defeating Debt

Author: Krissa Dorfner

I sat in my room and cried. I sank into the hideous floral printed couch processing what my boyfriend had just shared with me. He had made poor financial decisions while working through college and the debt had accumulated. Was I sure I  wanted to tie my life to his when it included this financial burden? I did, and it was worth it (we have now been married for 8 years), but it still follows us. Perseverance has been key as we have learned to be good stewards, but we have also learned that God is bigger than any amount of money owed. I still sometimes feel the strain, but I know he has given us this story to tell for a reason and purpose.

I came from a home where credit cards were used for emergencies only. So when I married my husband,  I was shocked to hear he had 3 credit cards and essentially nothing to show for it (other than the pretty diamond on my ring finger). We began chipping away at this mountain that seemed impossible to conquer. Paying off those cards and the little debts that floated around us became a priority. Within our first 14 months of marriage we paid off our wedding loan, Credit Cards, and  we saved up  $8400 CASH to go to Egypt and Israel. Let’s just say God is amazing and faithful! God has shown us what HE is capable even in the realms of finance when we are obedient. Still to this day I cannot pin point how we did this, other than that God provided.

Before saving for Egypt and Isreal, my husband and I were grocery shopping and we ran into one of our Best Men from our wedding. He raved about a new book he had read about money and told us to wait there. He insisted on finding  it and buying  it for us since it had changed his life. Little did we know that this book, Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, would also change our perspective on our money and lives forever.

Since day one of our marriage, my husband and I have been college students and career jobs felt so far away. We would dream of the day when we were both not doing homework and instead doing what we loved. We longed for when we would be bringing in money instead of accumulating more student loans. Then when my husband couldn’t find a job with his bachelors degree in Psychology, he decided to go back to school…again. He pursued his masters in counseling which ended up being a total of 9 years that he was in college. As for me, It took 8 years or more (I’ve lost count) to finish my Nursing degree. As you can assume, we have racked up quite surplus of student loans…and basically should have been doctors!

We would not be where we are today if it was not for Jesus giving us reason, purpose, and the knowledge needed to persevere through this burden of debt and years of school. I know that Jesus does not intend for us to live outside of our means. He calls us to live humbly, selflessly, and to not be conformed to this world, and I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. -Romans 12:2

Now that my husband and I have our dream careers, we could easily go buy a new home, a new car and go on fancy vacations…however, we choose to live by faith and obedience when it comes to our finances. We currently put 35% of our monthly income toward student loans so that one day we can say that we are debt free. Don’t get me wrong, God has placed big dreams in our hearts and minds for our growing family. We dream of giving to a point where it would make a difference in someone’s life, we dream of owning a home where our children can build memories, and we dream of our family traveling and exploring the world to serve people. We will persevere through this difficult time of debt, so that we can be free to see the dreams our good Lord has given us come true.

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Readers, How can you persevere in discipline, so that you may see more freedom in your life today?


A huge thank you to our guest poster, Krissa Dorfner! Krissa is a passionate follower of Christ, wife, mother, and nurse. If you are interested in submitting a piece for consideration you can find the details on our submissions page.

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Faith and Hockey Sticks

Author: Holly Berg

Two years ago my husband and I signed our son up for skating lessons.  He’s been dreaming about playing hockey since he was old enough to walk. He was born in Oil Country, he bleeds copper and blue – heck, he even eats dinner sitting below a framed photo of his dad with Ryan Smyth!

We figured it was time.

Topher was ecstatic! Never mind that he was enrolled in beginner figure skating – he was convinced he had been drafted to the Oilers!

But skating wasn’t as easy as Topher thought it would be. It’s one thing to zip up and down the hallway with a plastic hockey stick and entirely another to do the real thing!

In his first lesson the coaches taught the kids how to fall down and how to get back up, first on mats and then on the ice. Topher was a pro … until he stepped onto the ice.  He did exactly what his coaches told him: get on your hands and knees, wag your tail like a dog, get one foot up, brace one hand on your knee and use the other to push off on the ice and stand up.

But Topher couldn’t do it.

Not in the first lesson, or the second, or the third. Eventually one of his coaches would help him to his feet so he could participate in the other activities, but Topher was so afraid to fall that he would barely move. Then one of the other kids would accidentally bump into him and knock him over, and he would be back to Square 1, shaking his little bum in the middle of the rink.

Halfway through his fourth lesson I was starting to wonder how much patience his teachers had. Would they recommend remedial beginner skating lessons?

But then HE DID IT.

It might have taken him three and a half 45-minute lessons – most of which he spent on his knees – but he did it!

And I have never been more proud of my little man.

He didn’t give up, not once.

Week after week after week …

He practiced at home, he practiced at his grandparents’ house, he recited the steps over and over and over.

He tried his hardest in every single lesson. He showed dedication and confidence.  He knew he could do it – and he kept at it until he did.

Two years later, Topher is a full-fledged hockey player.  His favourite drill is the Superman, where he dives onto the ice, sliding across the surface on his belly before jumping to his feet and gliding away. Skating is now as natural to him as breathing.

* * *

Some days I picture God as a proud parent, standing outside the rink as we learn to walk through life as His followers.  Sometimes we’re like Topher: cautious, afraid to move in case we fall.  God watches us struggle, but he also sees us as we get down on our knees and try again.

The Bible says that we can “but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4, NIV) It also says that we should “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything..”  (James 1:2-4).

I remember when Topher was learning to skate, the day when everything finally clicked. As his mom, I didn’t count how many times he fell, I counted how many times he got back up.

Maybe God does the same thing.

Following God is hard. We mess up and we make mistakes – sometimes the same ones, over and over again!  But He sees us. He knows we can do it!  We need to get back up, brush ourselves off, and try again.

I don’t know if following God will ever be as natural to me as skating is to Topher, but I hope it will be. I want to develop endurance and strength of character and have confident hope, but like Topher, I need to practice. I need to be obedient in the small things as well as the big things. Every day, week after week after week. I need to recite God’s promises over and over and over. James 1:12 says “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

And I want that life.

~~~

Readers,

What encourages or keeps you from getting back up after a fall?

43483-2016headshotHolly Berg is a wife, mama, writer and horse nut who wrangles children by day and words by night. She writes to challenge, encourage and inspire others to see beauty in the everyday, minister in the mundane, and share their stories along the way. Read more of her writing at http://scattered-words.net.

An earlier version of this post appeared first at Scattered Words.