The Christmas Baby

This Christmas season of tinsel, trees, and treats brings only joy—for some. For others, it feels like a cruel reminder of life’s disappointments or awakens emotions about absent family members.  For both, Christmas might be a time when the magic of the manger gets lost in the pressing realities of life. This year for me, I find myself looking up, thinking not of a babe in a manger, but of Jesus on the cross or of the great, supreme, and holy God who sent Him there.

Christmas Sarah Clews“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
    the moon and the stars you set in place—
 what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
    human beings that you should care for them?Psalm 8:3-4 (NLT)

Thinking about the God of the universe can be a frightening and intimidating thought. He, God the Father, is so big, so majestic, so all knowing, and sometimes, feels so far away. Does the God who created the whole world care about me? Do the life events of my family and friends affect Him at all?

I saw a friend post on Facebook, “Sometimes I wonder if God even cares.” While I felt a surge of sadness reading that, I have to admit at times I’ve wondered the same thing. If I think about it too hard, my mind starts swirling and I feel utterly helpless and insignificant—a blip in time that will soon fade.

That’s why, as Christmas approaches, the reminder of the gift of God’s son is so incredible. Immanuel—“God is with us.”

Sarah Clews ChristmasIn case we doubted whether God could sympathize, or whether our daily lives matter to Him, He sent His only son—a gift of love. In case we doubted whether God was invested in the outcome of humanity, or whether He might destroy us in a fit of disgust, He sent His son to take on a human form. Jesus is a sign to us of the significance God attributes to the human race. He is invested! So invested that He sent His only Son to join humanity on earth and later sacrifice His life on the cross to purchase our freedom.

Recently I heard again the familiar lyrics of “Silent Night.” This time one line really stood out. “Silent night! Holy night! Son of God, love’s pure light.”

That old familiar story of a baby lying in a manger in a stable does have magic after all. Because that baby was Jesus—“love’s pure light.” The purest form of love and the most tangible reminder of God’s heart for us.


sarah-c-squareSarah Clews is a wife, mother of two little girls, and prolific reader. She received her BS from Corban University in English and still loves writing. She helps her husband run their martial arts school, and in her free time, enjoys sewing, experimenting with makeup, and reading blogs.

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Change My Heart

Life is full of changes. We all know this, right? We have all experienced big and little changes in life, some people experience more drastic changes than others. As I write this, I am basking in the joy of my seventh wedding anniversary to my wonderful husband. Today we were recounting just a few of the changes that life has brought us in the past seven years. Four daughters, seven jobs between us, and four houses to name a few. If I am being completely honest however, I am not good at change.change Britney Bradley

I have learned over the past year how desperately I need routine to thrive. Maybe our four children have brought this upon me. I love life to be organized, orderly, and planned, and changes shake that for me. Some changes we can prepare for or even decide to make for ourselves. There are also changes that are thrust upon us by family or life circumstances that we do not get the comfort of anticipating. During these unanticipated changes are the times that I desperately need, though do not always desire, a change of heart to come alongside my circumstance.

rock of agesOver the past year I really have learned to run straight to my Lord and Savior when the overwhelm of change rattles me. As I am daily being sanctified and maturing in the Christian faith, I am able to see God as bigger and more glorious than ever before, and myself as more lowly and dependant on Him than ever before. When the waves of life swell over us, we have a choice. In the good and the bad, we can choose to remain inflexible and stuck in old ways, or come to that beautifully humbling place on our knees begging for help. As Charles Spurgeon once put it, “I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages.”

I often first react in my old ways, not wanting to be inconvenienced or willing to roll with the tides of change. But quickly I find myself reminded that I simply cannot remain in that place, and that I must press in for a change of heart. Not a white-knuckle strong-willed type change of heart, but of asking God for a heart of flesh, not stone. I need a heart willing to become sanctified and gracious and more willing to accept the changes before me. I love these words from God to his people in Old Testament times,

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

I praise God that He is faithful and able to provide abundantly to us, we need only to ask. He will not leave us in change alone. He will be our guide.


britney-squareBritney Bradley loves being a wife to her loving husband, Brian. She is mother to 3 girls (so far) Ruby, Cora, and Lily, as well as auntie to 8, and friend to many. She has always dreamed about marriage and motherhood, and is now navigating God’s will each and every day in these realms. She enjoys writing when she gets a chance, and of course, coffee.

2 Things I had to Face While Reading Jennie Allen’s Newest Book

I am always ready for a new Jennie Allen book. The lady can preach, teach, and lead, and has no problem bringing truth the world needs to hear. She points people at Jesus and she invites the masses to join her in the great adventure: living in the light of God. I was thrilled to be able to join the launch team for Nothing to Prove and was looking forward to diving in, but in doing so I was forced to face motivations, sin, and hurt that had been hibernating.

jennieallen-nothing-to-proveHere is the thing about hibernating sin: it is still hindering us from the freedom God offers even when it’s quiet, and this is why He is willing to shine light on it if we will come to Him humbly. When I begin a new non-fiction book I ask God three things:

  1. Please, teach me.
  2. Give me discernment. Show me how to separate biblical wisdom from worldly philosophy.
  3. Help me to be humble, willing to confront things within me that are not from you.

Well, He did all those things, and here is just a piece of what I learned.

I Love To Numb Out

When I am surfing on unseen WiFi waves, I am also often hiding. When my kids get too loud, phone up. When I don’t feel like talking to my husband about that thing I need to address or apologize for, play next episode. When the plight of our country is begging for prayer, scroll level: Master. But as Allen said, “The danger for us is not that we would enjoy the cheap wine on earth, but that we would grow addicted to it….If I didn’t believe the lie that these shallow empty pursuits would satisfy me, I guarantee you I wouldn’t keep exchanging mirages for Jesus” (90).

So yes, a good show with deep story is not bad in and of itself, but if it is a form of self-medication or becomes an addiction — If it steals rather than gives, it must be eliminated. I would rather be alive than numb, and I am willing to fight for that. Because, yes, “I want to see Jesus in my everyday life, not just when I arrive in heaven. I want to love Him more than I want to appear religious. I want to love people enough to lead them to the One who can heal them. I want to be healed myself. I want to initiate for the good of those around me rather than pad my existence with comfort and ease” (155).

I Was Trying to Prove Something

People pleasing is not typically my modus operandi, I have my own issues that hold me back, but this isn’t a predominant one. To the marrow of my bones I know that God is enough (if you question this truth, this book is for you). I have learned this because I’ve blown it big time. The dark night of the soul and I are well acquainted. But God, oh yes, but God came to my rescue.

“Guess what the person being rescued has to do? Trust the rescuer and cooperate with the process. You and I don’t need to be the hero to save the world we just get to be part of the story of the greatest hero of all time. Which is good news, because being hero is a lot of pressure and a lot of dadgum work.” (135)

nothing-to-prove-jennie-allenAs I read, asked the questions, and meditated on the scriptures Allen encourages the reader to engage with, I found within me something I was trying to prove. It stung. Two sentences, each only four words, echoed within me, “Look at me now. You couldn’t stop me.” They were not directed at the masses or even friends, but at those who have hurt me most. Those who have forsaken me, and received my weightiest forgiveness. Here directed toward individuals was a deep, hidden, and pride-filled whisper many would excuse and mark  as understandable. While most motivators in my life may be submitted to the Lord, it was clear this one was not. I checked to make sure I had truly forgiven, got down on my knees, put my face to the floor and confessed the pride with sorrow. Then I sought God for the strength to go about doing the work of crucifying this nasty, internal, self-focused, provocation. I am His, which means I don’t have to settle for anything less than freedom.

There is so much more I could tell you about this book, but seriously, why read my words about it when you could read it for yourself? It will convict you, encourage you, and be a tool for God to use so that you can be freed by the great love He has for you. Read it. Be taught and reminded that He is enough. You can cease striving. When you are His, you have nothing to prove.


Readers, One final quote, because it is just SO good. “And then I did it, the most freeing brilliantly foolish thing in my life: I led with everything I had been hiding” (102). What would you do if nothing was holding you back? Would you forgive that person and leave that situation that replays in your mind over and over in the past and be free. Would you make that phone call? Fill out that application? Volunteer for that organization? Write that book (psst…this one is mine)? What would you do? Tell us in the comments, and come back and tell us about your experience with Nothing to Prove. We would love to hear it. You can also join in with other women for the Nothing to Prove Book Club hosted by Jennie Allen.

DON’T MISS OUR NOTHING TO PROVE GIVEAWAY OVER ON INSTAGRAM! SEE POST FROM 1/31/2017 (ENDS 2/6/2017).

chara-donahue-head-shotChara Donahue can often be found with her nose in a book and coffee in hand. She enjoys freelance writing, Biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at Portland Moms Blog and her words have appeared at (in)courage, Patheos, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Hope in Who God Says He is

Author: Sarah Dohman

“God is drawing me to Him- to require me to rely upon His timing, His promises. To solidify that His plans are better than my own. I’m not saying this is easy. My heart longs for answers. I know my small, quiet desires- the ones I hide deep within and only a few know about. The most insanely beautiful thing is that God knows them all. He knows when I sit, when I rise. He knows my quirks and longings. I’m not forgotten. I’m just in a place of waiting upon Him. Right where I am suppose to be. Hanging on His word and truth and seeking after Him. How peculiar this stage of uncertainty is for me. How pleasing must it be to God to know that I trust Him and I know in due time, His plan will be revealed. I am seeking Him and I’m really learning to put Him first- no matter the cost.”~Me(Journal entry, September 18th, 2013)

I wrote the above right after graduating from nursing school and while in the process of applying for jobs. My life was in limbo. Was I to move? Where would my first career job lead me? How was I to pay down the lump sum of debt I had looming over my head? These questions were swirling in my mind, seeping into every thought.

I could have stayed wrought with fear and anxiety. I could have allowed Satan to speak lies into my heart, as he so often does during times of waiting. And yet, I didn’t.

I’m not Superwoman, I don’t know all the answers.

I just continued to put one foot in front of the other. I took step after step out into faith, because God reminded me daily of His character. When we feel paralyzed, uprooted, shaken, or unwell in our soul, we have a God who remains steadfast.


If you are in a place of waiting, and have no end in sight, allow these truths to remind you that God is who He says He is.

  • Faithful. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
  • An anchor. (Hebrews 6:19)
  • Rich in mercy. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
  • Our refuge. (Psalm 46:1-3)
  • Our portion. (Lamentations 3:24)
  • Cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:19-20)
  • Powerful. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
  • Near to us. (Psalm 145:18)
  • Fighting for us. (Exodus 14:14)
  • Jealous for our attention. (Deuteronomy 4:24)
  • Shepherd. (John 10:11)
  • Love incarnate. (1 John 4:8)
  • Keeps us in perfect peace. (Isaiah 26:3)

Several months after I wrote my journal entry, I received a job offer. I rejoiced, and I remembered.

I remembered that God was, and is, faithful. He is my anchor, rich in mercy, my refuge, my portion, the cornerstone upon which my life is to be built, powerful, near to me, fighting for me, jealous for my attention, a Shepherd who seeks His lost sheep, love incarnate, and the keeper of perfect peace. He is, He is, He is.

So when I come into another time of waiting, as I know I will, I will be rooted in Him and His promises. I will know I am not forgotten, but I am exactly where I am supposed to be: drawing nearer to Him.

~~~

Sarah 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, and you can find her stories for Anchored Voices under the tag Sarah.

Waitlisted

Author: Sarah Dohman

God has called me to care for others, specifically through a career in nursing. The call of loving people and taking care of the sick came early.  In elementary school, I drew a picture explaining why I should be the President of the United States. I wrote these sentences on it.  “Sarah is caring.  I love kids because they are cute.” (Not even making this up.) “I love animals.  I love people.  I will take care of … I will take care of the sick.”

After I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to become a nurse.  I began chipping away at nursing school prerequisites.  At the age of 20, I began the process of applying to nursing schools.

  • 5.  The number of classes I painstakingly repeated in order to improve my undergraduate and pre-graduate school GPAs.
  • 15.  The number of my failed attempts at gaining acceptance into nursing school before I got oneletter of admission.
  • 70+.  The ballpark figure of how many nursing job applications I submitted before attending 9interviews, and having one offer.

I have faced failure on numerous occasions.  It has beaten me up from time to time.  Hot, salty tears have stained my cheeks, and I have screamed out to God in frustration.  I have been humbled again and again. And yet, God has been faithful in and through my failures.

When I grew weary of applying to nursing schools and facing rejection over and over, I found another undergraduate program to pursue, community health education.  It was during one of my courses, Health & Health Systems, that we learned about varying health care providers.  Nurse practitioners were discussed, and I knew in my gut, after hearing about that particular profession, I had to try again.  I applied to three schools.  Waitlisted.  I began to question. Why in the WORLD would God ask me to pursue something without success?

Was God asking me to rejoice in my sufferings?

Absolutely! Scriptural truths apply to all situations. In Romans 5:3-5, it says, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

So was God producing endurance?  Was there evidence in my life of character being created?

In March of 2010, I applied one last time to six nursing programs.  It was my last hurrah and attempt to attend, as my science prerequisites were due to expire (it had been a five year process at this point). Waitlisted and rejected times five.  One short email, however, said YES.

I began, and nursing school was spread out over 3 years.  It demanded time and sacrifice.  And it was well worth it. God’s purpose in my waiting was revealed.  The classes I took in nursing school closely resembled the classes I took during my previous undergraduate program.  I did not struggle, but I was allowed to be in an environment where I could flourish.

During my last quarter of nursing school, I began the arduous process of putting myself out there and asking someone in the world to hire me.  I passed my nursing boards, and over the course of the next 7 months, I applied, sat through hours of interviews, and waited.  This time, however, a joyful and trusting heart waited with me.  I knew God would not allow me to wait without purpose.

In January of 2014, I began my first full-time job as a school nurse.  God has led me to a position where there are cute kids, I care for the sick, and I get to love on a lot of people.  If someone had told me at 20 that I would not become a nurse until age 29, I might have quit, and I would have missed it all.

God knew that my failures and my sufferings would produce endurance.  Endurance that spurs me on when there are tough work days.  Character that cannot be birthed by easy successes.  A steadfast HOPE in the God who sees His good work to completion.

If you are experiencing failure and cannot see with clarity, dear one, please, allow this truth to wash over you.  You will endure.  Character is being formed.  God will produce hope.  And you will feel NO SHAME.

When God places a calling upon your life, He will see it through.  It does not guarantee an easy path, but you will not walk it alone.