God is Faithful

Author: Lila Diller

My testimony always sounded boring to me. I never had a miraculous change or an obviously God-thing happen so that everyone could hear the “Hallelujah” chorus being sung over my head. I simply grew up in church all my life. I heard all about Jesus and His love for me ever since before I can remember.

My pastor always began the invitation the same way every service: “Bow your head and close your eyes. All those who know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are saved, raise your hands.” I peeked every Sunday and saw everybody raise their hands. “Now,” he would continue, “anybody who couldn’t do that, who doesn’t know for sure that you are saved, raise your hand so I can pray for you.” Nobody ever raised their hands that they weren’t sure.

I asked my mom one day while she was sewing, “Why does everyone get to raise their hands every Sunday at church?” She told me I needed to be saved and taught me the sinner’s prayer. I bowed my head and repeated that prayer, raising my hand right then.

I just wanted to be like everyone else in my church. That’s just what everyone in my world did. Salvation and baptism were just what every good little church girl did. And I was determined to be the best little church girl. I followed all the rules, trying to please my parents, Sunday School teachers, pastor, and school teachers. When my pastor baptized me, he asked me some questions about salvation. I don’t remember what they were or how I answered them, but whatever my serious answers were, they prompted the entire congregation to laugh at me.

Character of God Lila DillerThe next year, when I was seven, my little sister started asking questions about heaven and hell one night after church. My mom and dad sat us both down and told us again about the Gospel. I felt that I hadn’t really understood it before and was scared to think I might still go to hell whenever I died. I prayed again, and I believe I truly repented that night. But I had already been baptized in front of everybody, so I didn’t tell anyone.

I remember being excited enough to tell the Gospel to my best friend at school. She was shocked when I used the word “hell.” I was always really active in the church youth group and made it a point to “do” my daily devotions every morning.

But I struggled with doubt all through my school years. I would wonder, “What if I didn’t say the right words? What if I didn’t mean it sincerely? What if I hadn’t understood it enough? What if I couldn’t remember the exact date or the exact words I prayed?” I would pray over and over, “Lord, if I wasn’t really saved before, save me now.” But I was never sure.

When I turned 15, the year of spiritual darkness began. I doubted everything I was ever taught, even down to the existence of any god whatsoever! Through soul-searching and a little bit of research in our tiny little school library, I decided there had to be a higher being that created the universe. It couldn’t have just happened for no reason; there is no effect without a cause.

Lila Diller God is FaithfulThen I wondered if He was just a Force or maybe the God of the Muslims, Mormons, or Jehovah’s Witnesses. But I had many times before felt Him speak to me through His Word, enough to prove to me that He was the God of the Bible. But was the Bible to be interpreted literally or liberally? I was even forced into debating religion at school. It was me against all my other classmates, who were either Mormons or atheists. I had answers for all of their arguments and questions. But I still doubted every once in a while.

I made the decision early on to go to a Christian college. I desperately prayed, asking for guidance in college choice as well as career choice. I never got a definitive answer for the career, but I felt my choices narrowing and narrowing until I chose PCC. The very first week of my Freshman year, they held a revival. I realized all this time, though I knew the doctrines and believed intellectually in all the right beliefs, I had not been trusting in Jesus alone. I had been trusting—or rather, not trusting but doubting—in my prayer and understanding of my salvation prayer. After that, I never doubted again! “He is faithful and just to cleanse us from all our unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Praise the Lord!

KODAK Digital Still CameraLila is an author of Christian Romance novels, blogger, and homeschool mom. She loves sushi and Mexican food, Hallmark movies, anything dark chocolate, the color purple, and reading in her pajamas. Lila, outnumbered by a houseful of males, lives with her supportive husband Chris, two energetic boys, and a hyper dog in Statesville, NC. She loves to help readers create romance in their marriages and in their spiritual walks with Jesus. You can find her at liladiller.com and at www.facebook.com/loveisseries.


God’s Three Word Answer

Author: Linda L. Kruschke

I’ve seen prayer answered in miraculous ways. God constantly reaches beyond my expectation, even when there is no expectation at all. He answers and is faithful to provide what I need.

By now, I should assume an answer will be forthcoming. Yet His latest response to a prayer took me by surprise.

I confessed to my Bible study group that my focus on a few of my mother-in-law’s seemingly-insensitive comments over the years had clouded my perspective. I had allowed a tiny seed of bitterness to take root and had convinced myself that she didn’t really like me. I knew I would be spending time with her over the holidays and needed prayer to have a better mindset when we were together.

Several days later, I had the opportunity to share my beloved nativity collection with a friend. As I described each set, I heard myself telling the story of how my mother-in-law had given me a ceramic nativity she made when pregnant with my husband.

Bitterness Linda L. KruschkeThen came the story of the myrtle-wood nativity that my mother-in-law’s mother brought back from Israel. As I mentioned she could have given it to one of my three sisters-in-law or a niece, but instead gave it to me, I realized how special she must consider me. God used these reminders of her love over the years to begin to uproot that bitter sprout Satan wanted to flourish. My attitude softened.

We ended up having great visits both at Thanksgiving and New Year’s weekend. In the morning on New Year’s Day, she asked me a question I didn’t expect. “You must have some good memories of your mom?”

“Not really,” I replied. With chapter three of my memoir front and center in my thoughts, I continued, “She had cancer the first time when I was only eight or nine, and then again a year later. She lost her sister and her mom a few years before that. She was always sick, it seemed, and I don’t remember her ever smiling or being happy.”

The subject changed and the morning continued, with showers, breakfast, and packing. Then we all went out to lunch before we had to hit the road for home.

As I usually do before we leave my in-laws’ house, I gave her a hug. “Thanks for coming,” she said. “I love you.”

I love you. With those three little words God completed His answer to my prayer. I don’t ever remember her saying those words to me before.

She has shown me in many ways over the last thirty-two years that she loves me. She’s actually been mom to me for more years than my real mom, who died when I was twenty-three. She has always treated me like a beloved daughter.

In that moment I also knew that my real mom loved me, too, even though it didn’t always seem like she did and she didn’t say it much.

It’s funny how God knows the things we need to hear to heal our doubting hearts. He reminded me to focus on the loving acts of others, and not on the careless things someone might have said. After all, we all are prone to let an thoughtless word slip from our lips once in a while.

Linda L. Kruschke BitternessAre you holding onto a careless remark and bearing a grudge against the one who said it? Have you allowed a seed of bitterness to sprout? Has a past hurt clouded your perspective of how much someone really loves you? Listen to this wisdom from Colossians 3:12-14:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Seeds of bitterness destroy relationships, or at least make them more difficult. Will you ask God for His three-word answer to uproot this noxious weed in your life today? It is my prayer that you will seek His power to forgive and His grace will fill your heart today.

Readers, If you need prayer to heal from bitterness,  tell us in the comments and we will pray for you.

Linda_2017_01Linda L. Kruschke is the author of My Name Is Beloved, winner of the Unpublished Memoir category of the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest, as well as self-published author of two poetry books. She is a wife, mother, active member of her church, and former Bible Study Fellowship leader. After struggling through years of major clinical depression and finding God’s healing grace, she is now a fearless follower of Christ, living in the assurance of her salvation and God’s love. She blogs at Another Fearless Year and Broken Believers.

Thriving in God’s Assurance

Author: Linda L. Kruschke

My favorite of all the apostles is John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Some people give him a bad rap for calling himself that, saying it’s arrogant. I disagree. I don’t believe this title for himself is any indication he thought he was the only one. Rather, I believe it reveals how certain he was that Jesus loved him and everyone else, including you.

Linda L. Kruschke ThriveMy memoir, My Name Is Beloved, is so titled for the same reason. I don’t believe I’m the only one who is beloved by God. I know that I am not and I want other women like me to know they are beloved, too.

I love John’s Gospel, his three epistles, and Revelation. One of my favorite passages is from 1 John 4:7-21. It’s all about God’s love for all of His children and how we should love each other in the same way. There’s not a hint of arrogance here.

There are a number of things I love about John’s writings:

  1. He reminds his readers that he was an eye witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. That means he writes with truth and authority of what he knows to be true.
  2. He clearly sets out the evidence for Jesus’ divinity. Especially in the Gospel, where we see the “I am” statements of Jesus.
  3. He focuses, particularly in the epistles, on the love of God. In fact, he says “God is love” twice in 1 John 4.
  4. He reveals the power and purpose of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. It is by the Spirit that we overcome sin and know we are God’s children.
  5. He provides believers with an assurance of salvation.

Early in the history of the Christian faith, deceivers had come into the church who taught that one had to achieve sinless perfection to be saved. John wrote his first epistle to combat this heresy. The same type of heresy has crept into many legalistic denominations even today. By outwardly following the rules, such people claim to be without sin. But as John writes:

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10 (NIV).

Thrive Linda L. KruschkeJohn here provides assurance that the fact that the believer sometimes sins does not negate their salvation, because Jesus is faithful and forgives our sin. Throughout this epistle, John offers further confidence that those who trust in Jesus can be certain of their salvation even though they are not sinless and perfect.

The word know appears 42 times in this short epistle because John wants to make sure believers know that God loves them and that they can rely on His promise of salvation. In each of the chapters of the epistle, John includes his assurance:

“I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.” 1 John 2:21

“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask,…And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” 1 John 3:21, 24

“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” 1 John 4:15-16

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:13-14

Not one of us is perfect and completely sinless. If we were, we would not need a savior. But we do need Him, and we thrive best knowing that He is faithful in His promise of salvation for those who believe.

Are you struggling today with worries that you are not good enough, that you’ve sinned too much, or that God will give up on you and you will lose your salvation? Meditate on John’s words, inspired by God, and know that these worries are unfounded. It is the struggle itself that proves you are alive in Christ.

Remember, God is faithful in His promises. He has promised eternal life to all who believe in Jesus and allow His love to live in them. He has not hidden the truth from us, but has made Himself known through His Son and the witness of the apostles so that we can be assured of our place in His Kingdom.

Linda_2017_01.jpgLinda L. Kruschke is the author of My Name Is Beloved, winner of the Unpublished Memoir category of the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest, as well as self-published author of two poetry books. She is a wife, mother, active member of her church, and former Bible Study Fellowship leader. After struggling through years of major clinical depression and finding God’s healing grace, she is now a fearless follower of Christ, living in the assurance of her salvation and God’s love. She blogs at Another Fearless Year and Broken Believers.   

Deeper Longing

Author: Josh Hawes

It is that time of the year again. We all know it’s coming. It’s the season where everyone thinks I’m a grinch. That’s right. I am the guy who doesn’t want to hear Christmas music before Thanksgiving. The guy who likes to question traditions, much to the discomfort of many in my family. I have even risked asking, “but why do we have a tree? Could we not celebrate the birth of Christ without having to rearrange our furniture this year?” Much to the dismay of my wife and daughter.

Josh Hawes Christmas longingRelax, we have a tree up and decorated. All that to say that I do, in fact, love Christmas. I love family time spent together, and I love the deeper look into the coming, and inference of the anticipation, of the second coming of Christ.

Yet, this year is a little bit different. I say that because my wife and I are at a new place in regards to growing our family. We have just started the process of adopting an infant. And I do mean just starting, in that it could be two years before we meet the baby that God has in mind for us. This means the child may not even be conceived yet.

As most adoptive families will be able to tell you, most adoptions begin at a place of great pain and struggle for both the parents and the childours is no different. Years of negative pregnancy tests, a miscarriage, and two adoptions, while in our hearts forever, did not come to be. Not a month goes by that I don’t think “maybe this is the month” almost 7 years into my wife and I trying.

There is a deep longing for my wife and I, and an ever increasing anticipation that has been created by these trials. We wait for the moment when we will be able to hold in our arms that which we have dreamed about for years.

Christmas longing Josh HawesThis longing has become something of which I am keenly aware. It makes me reflect on what it must have been like for those in Israel before God’s promise became flesh in the form of a baby who would deliver them from their hopelessness. Within my soul I can feel that deep longing, the ache,  they must have felt, not just for their families, but for their nation, and ultimately, the world! They held to the promise:



“For to us a child is born,

   to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

   and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” -Isaiah 9:6

I too can have that longing messily entwined with hope. Not for Jesus coming to save us, for he has done that to completion, but for His Second Coming. Where it says “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” A place where the sorrow, and effects of sin on this world, such as our struggle with infertility, will be no more. That longing is my deepest longing. That is the hope this season heralds—God is with us and He will make all things right.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

   Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your king is coming to you;

   righteous and having salvation is he,” -Zechariah 9:9

476f7-dsc_5558Josh Hawes is a hard worker, husband, and father who is trying to faithfully walk through life as he is made more like Christ.

Wisdom’s Doorway

Author: Kimberley Mulder

Garland, on a fantastic sale, roped me in. Soon I was deep in the scrolling, pictures of fake evergreen to festoon my doorway flitting before me. Fantasies of sparkling greenery shimmering in new-fallen snow glimmered in my imagination. Until I realized how much time had passed and that I had purposed to write today about the doorway to wisdom! Wisdom’s doorway is not draped with discount plastic greenery!

Proverbs 8 is the personification of Wisdom, and in it she calls out to us. In verse 34 we read:

“Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.” Prov. 8:34

How inviting, how decked out would Wisdom’s house be? Would it be the grandest on the block? The simplest but most elegant? The unadorned? What would cry out to the passersby “Wisdom lives here!”

I picture a palace; a high, gilded doorway, rich with gold and fancy with filigree. Floors of exquisite colored tiles. Enormous, breathtaking paintings. This would make me want to linger in awe like a tourist in an exotic palace.

Maybe Wisdom’s doorway would be filled with ancient splendor that only the attentive archaeologist knows is valuable. The uninformed or fad follower would pass by it as old junk.

Christmas Kimberley MulderHow does one recognize Wisdom’s doorway?

By knowing who lives inside. The doorway is marked by the presence, not the decorations, not the gilded ornament, not the scuff marks. It is recognizable by the life lived inside. And it is found only by those willing to look for it.

The Magi wanted to find Wisdom. They saw and followed Wisdom, by starlight, to a wooden stable. Hinges loose, door banging, straw and refuse on the floor. Splintering wood beams. The doorway they stood in as they offered their gifts of sacrifice and love to Wisdom himself was nothing like a king’s.

But the Magi understood something that we often ignore or dispute – and that is that wisdom often leads in unlikely ways to unlikely places. They humbled themselves to the unlikely.

Kimberley Mulder ChristmasThey sought, watched, listened, waited, and anticipated with hope. They trusted that “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity.” Prov. 8:17-18

And when the star led them to foreign lands, to the living quarters of livestock, they did not balk. Instead, they lingered in the splinter-beamed doorway of the King. What unlikely place might wisdom be leading you? It might be a low doorway under which you need to bow your head. You will know it by the Presence inside.

Consider: Jesus said that he is the gate (John 10:7 and 9). Now marry that with Proverb 8 and we see that “Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.” Prov. 8:34

So I consider: At which doorway am I lingering daily? Am I looking for flash and fancy when Wisdom is in the mundane? Am I trying to gloss and decorate the truth? Am I too busy hunting down the best bargain on a gift (or a garland) to seek the treasure of life? Am I lingering at Wisdom’s doorway or at Walmart’s?

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)

Goodbyes, Change, and Grandma

Author: Angela Burril

I am not good at change.  I like all things vintage, except my refrigerator and my long-distance traveling car—these I would prefer new or with very low mileage.  Yet, aside from God, all things change.

Angela Burril ChangeThis last spring ushered in a profound change, and I have yet to get my mind and heart around it—the passing of my most beloved Grandmother.  My mother died when I was only 17 years old. In my panic over all the things I did not know how to do without her, Grandma showed up. She lived a mere 10 miles from my house and handled my emotional frenzy with grace. She gave instruction on how to boil an egg, and never disregarded my feelings of despair.

“The only time this will differ is when you are trying to cook at a different altitude.  For now, just boil it for 15 minutes exactly and you will have a perfect egg!  You can do this!” she said, and as she did my blood pressure dropped back down a good 50 points and my heart rate settled to where it could no longer be heard pounding in my ears.

Time and time again my Grandmother would stand in the gap when my motherless spirit threatened to drown my soul with tears and my immobilized voice cried out to the Lord in pain.  God knew I needed her.  God repeatedly sustains me with His word, and often those words come through human vessels. To me, Grandma was a vessel through which God poured compassion, understanding, and love.

In her last days, we knew the time was close.  So, I left my two girls and husband to fend for themselves for a couple days while I traveled three hours alone to say goodbye.  She was no longer always coherent and her eyesight was nearly gone. Into her nursing home room I marched, upright only because I had asked every person I could think of for prayer!  My arms were loaded with my Bible, a hymn book, and a quilt I was working on. My heart carried every intention to be a comfort to Grandma and to tell her how much I loved her.

“Hi Grandma!  It’s me – Angie,” my voice was strained with a lightness that did not reach my soul, and I busied myself looking for a space to unload my arms to give myself a minute to regroup my emotions.

“Oh Angie!  How nice!  Would you like a cupcake?  I’m sure I have cupcakes or something for you!”  Grandma responded in delight.  My gaze did not take long to inventory the room and know that Grandma’s homemade bakery delights were not to be on the menu this time or ever again.  Grandma spelled love F-O-O-D, and every bite of her homemade creations was permeated with her deep affection for her family. Taste buds danced with joy and contentment, sighing because they knew they were home.

“That’s so nice, but no.  I’m okay.”  I replied and moved to change the subject.  “May I read to you from my Bible Grandma?”  I asked.

“Yes,” she replied very simply.  I read to her from my Bible, and then from the hymnal the stories of how hymn writers were inspired to write a particular hymn.  Then I sat my quilt in her lap, so she might feel the work I was doing on it.  She dosed off and on all day, but just when I thought she was asleep she would pipe up with a timely word that made me smile.  So, I talked to her the whole time, just like I had always done since I was a little girl.

“Grandma, when it comes time to go, look for the angels.  They will show the way to Jesus.  In Luke 16:22 Jesus tells the story of how the poor man called Lazarus “…was carried by the angels…” after he died.  Grandma said nothing and seemed to be far off in her own thoughts.

The next day I came to say goodbye.  Grandma was having a good morning.  She listened to my step-mom and I sing some hymns and I read a blessing over Grandma.  Numbers 6:24-26:

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

“Grandma, I just want to say thank you,” I said in a voice so thick with emotions that I could not find the words to convey all that I felt.  “You have loved us well.”

She visibly brightened with delight and replied without hesitation, “You’re welcome.  There is enough to go around.”  The next flood of tears rose instantly in my throat.  I treasured up these words to muse over later, because there was still one more thing to say.  I needed to tell her the last words my 10-year-old daughter wanted Grandma to hear.

Change Angela Burril“Grandma, Teal wanted me to tell you that if she doesn’t see you before, she will see you with Jesus in heaven.”  My tears were near the breaking point, but I wanted to stay in this moment.  I swallowed hard again, and bent to kiss her cheek goodbye.  “I love you, Grandma.”  I turned and walked blindly to the door.

Just as I reached the door, Grandma called out to me once again, “Travel safely.”

I don’t know what God is teaching me through goodbye, but I know He holds tomorrow.  In the midst of this pain, there is joy and that can only be because of the hand of the LORD!  I would not feel the pain if I had not felt the love.  I can take the joy and the pain because I know it has been sifted through God’s fingers. He is here to comfort me as I grieve.

I grieve, but I do not live in grief.  The sacrifice of Jesus laying down His life has given me this freedom.  I can rejoice, although I am certainly sad, because I know, thanks to Jesus, I will see Grandma again.

Angela Burril HeadshotAngela Burril lives on a small acreage farm in Madras, OR with her husband, Gus, and two young daughters, Teal (10 years) and Shiloh (5 years).  She taught high school science (Biology, Forensic Science, Integrated Science, and Physical Science) for eight years.  After that, she became a stay at home mom and part time “ranch/farm manager.”  For the last 10 years, Angela has taught ladies Bible Studies, and some various adult Sunday School Classes.  Some of the topics she has spoke on include: waiting on God, fear, loneliness, letting God lead your emotions, grace, loss, and spiritual authenticity. Angela’s speaking is characterized by sincerity and a wholehearted attempt to see the trials and challenges in life as blessed
opportunities to see and feel God’s presence.

The Opportunity of Discipline

Author: Kimberley Mulder

I hate having to discipline my children. I hold awkwardly and begrudgingly the parental authority that has been given to me. There is nothing that causes my heart to sink faster than my children’s disobedience and disputes. I can be in a fantabulous mood all day but when that door bursts open and in tumbles a wailing child followed quickly by a yelling one it feels like a massive vacuum suddenly sucked away my mood and energy. Honestly, if I am not careful this scenario can wrench my attitude into despair and discord for the rest of the day. It is in these times that I am seeing the situation as a burden rather than the opportunity it is offering.

What is the goal of discipline? Certainly good citizenship is a goal, as is building good habits. However, these are lesser goals. The great goal of discipline is to teach us to trust God. This is true whether discipline is enforced from outside (think parenting), or internally adhered to (think self-discipline). To keep our relationship with God healthy and strong he instituted an intertwined dance of trust and discipline. Every sin is, in some way, a distrust of God; discipline was meant to guide us away from the lies we believe and back to the heart of the One who loves us.

Kimberley Mulder DisciplineDivine discipline strikes me as art. God gets His message across to us, His disobedient children, in so many ways. Reading the Bible as a standard is a two-dimensional reading of a three-dimensional text. The dimensions of God’s discipline are so deep and high and loving, so personal that the receptive child will feel the gentle pressing of His words in the scriptures, and have it bring out conviction like a hologram that has turned to reveal the picture. At other times, in love that we cannot understand, He abruptly blocks a path like a shutter capturing a black and white image.

Imagine the Father painting His discipline throughout history. The base layer is the creation of the Israelites and the ten commandments, then throughout the Old Testament He adds the foundational characteristics through particular sudden strokes (like Saul’s downfall in 1 Samuel or Jeroboam’s legacy of war because of his idol worship in 1 Kings.) The prophets add depth to the horizon as they envision God’s desires and cry out to the Israelites to return to God. But when Jesus walks onto the canvas the picture becomes alive and complete. The details are added as the broad strokes of the old covenant are built on and covered by the fine, personal, lines of forgiveness.

Jesus touches and teaches individuals that it’s the heart the Father is trying to reach through discipline. He doesn’t want outward conformists and inward sinners. In John 8 the Pharisees ask him how to discipline the woman caught in adultery. But Jesus tells these conformists: “Let any one of you who is without sin throw a stone at her.” This masterful stroke drives right into their hearts. Then he deftly highlights the beauty He is painting with the finishing stroke of forgiving the woman.

So, as a parent, I want to emulate God’s purposes in my discipline. The trajectory of all my efforts is not to make good kids who will obey all the rules. Rather, it is to develop their trust in God above all.

Discipline Kimberley MulderI want them to trust me too, which means I must be trustworthy. Are they seeing and feeling that I have their best interests in mind? If I am reacting, then I don’t have their interests at the forefront. Do I listen to them carefully, giving them space to be heard? Do they see me making every effort to be fair? I hope they will reflect on their growing up and see that the consequences I placed on them were part of what shows my trustworthiness and God’s. This is a lot to embed into the hot scenarios that we encounter daily with our kiddos! That is why it is so important to spend time intentionally thinking and praying about our discipline strategies.

For some of us we need to see the discipline in our childhood as our Old Testament and let Jesus lead us into living his new covenant as we discipline our kids. Do you react harshly wanting to simply squelch a behavior? I confess, I do at times because of my upbringing and lack of intentionality. However, Jesus doesn’t squelch, ever. He probes into the pain and sin, illuminates, addresses and then extracts it with his truth and forgiveness. He does it in a way that draws us near, not pushes us away.

If you struggle, as I do, to allow Christ to renovate your discipline, I encourage you to intentionally address it. Certainly pray and read the gospels to gain insight into Jesus’s way. Seek out classes on discipline that are grounded in His way. Talk to parents who you have witnessed disciplining with grace and wisdom. Employ forgiveness. Learn to evaluate your response before you execute it. My oldest sometimes gets frustrated with me because I take too long (in her view) to answer or discipline. I remind her that I need to take the time to carefully process the situation with Jesus so that I don’t react in a sinful way. And when I do riff off a reactionary consequence to her (always to damaging effect!), I have gone back to her and apologized. Then we evaluate what an appropriate consequence would be for the situation.

Let’s internalize God’s loving discipline and intentionally learn the art of building trust through the opportunities that the disobedience of children and others bring to us.

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)

Glory Day

Author: Kimberley Mulder

The day was almost sabotaged. It arrived sandwiched between National Blueberry Day and another week of packing with three kids suffering summer doldrums. We sat in moving mess, random socks, treasured Turkish bowls, and Christmas lights were stepped over as we popped fresh blueberries into our mouths.

In an effort to keep life enjoyable and remotely summer-ish, we kept to our tradition of picking blueberries though boxes begged to be packed and the to-do list called. Those first exploding sweet-tart tastes led to excited exclamations, but the heat and fatigue of the weeks wisped away the wonder within quick minutes. We foraged on, determined to make good on our tradition, but in the end our moods nearly spoiled the joy of fresh fruit.

Today,God says, -rest.-Today is what we call glory day, our day of rest among the chaos. Blueberry day lies behind me along with the half checked-off moving list with twenty more added items, scores of mediating moments as siblings lock horns again and again. Ahead of me lies two weeks that look nearly blank on my Google calendar – a picture perfect, relaxing summer vacay–except that it simply doesn’t record the hours of packing, organizing, and sorting, the time it takes to mediate moments, the impromptu play dates, and the legion of other moving preparations.

Today, God says, “Rest.” If I were not in the habit of resting on the Sabbath, I would not slow today. The pressure of so many decisions to be made and things to be done would fuel my activity. I am so thankful that this is a habit that the Lord has given me, as He has you. He commanded us, knowingly, mercifully, to rest, just as He did (Gen. 2:2-3). This literal break from whatever work I have in that particular season, this breath of a day meant to enjoy Him and savor His presence–it leads me to Him and resuscitates my body and soul weekly.

Today He is taking the lesson deeper. I am a peace-glutton, responsibility-taker, rule-follower, recovering perfectionist, people-pleaser, leader, Mom, busy home-maker, and micro-manager. This combination, under the pressure of a tight timeline for major life change, is the perfect storm to turn me into a barking, harsh, commander who makes the lives of everyone around miserable with the quick winds of unrealistic expectation.

Kimberley Mulder RestI foresee a squabble and pre-empt it through lecture or separation. I get bent out of shape when my timeline for the day is warped by not finding a child’s shoes where they should be (how many times have I told you to put it where it belongs…!). I accuse people of being inconsiderate for taking too long to say goodnight. You get the picture.

To me God says “Rest”. Take a break from the plans, the details, and the must-do’s. Lay down your management of relationships, your pursuit of perfection, your penchant for peace and allow His right relation, His perfection, allow His peacemaking to shine through. I must enjoy Jesus’ offering to befriend me in my imperfections; accept His invitation to give me His peace that transcends the sum of my circumstances. I let the wrinkles remain in the sheets today, it’s not the day to fix them. I make room in the disorganized space for the kids to sort things out themselves, for Jesus is with them too. I allow this day to shine in its given glory.

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)

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)