July Printable: A Watered Garden

Here in the middle of summer people can begin to feel emotionally parched, but the Lord can satisfy. Sarah Dohman wanted to remind us of where the water for our souls come from with this month’s free printable.

“The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:11

May the word of God water your roots so that you may bloom into whatever comes next.

Click Here to Grab Your Free Printable!

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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)

Free Anchored Printable: April

April showers have been raining down and we are happy to bring you a hope-filled free printable of our theme verse designed by Sarah Dohman.

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf.” Hebrews 6:19-20

 Hope. Some might be unmoved by the word hope. It can be thought of as theologically soft, or seen as a foolish ideology. Hope isn’t frilly, passive, or weak, but it is fierce, active, and central to everything Christians believe, but we often need to be reminded of its strength. That God has given us the hope that He has conquered sin and death and made a way back to Him through His son Jesus Christ as the anchor for our soul.  We love our readers and pray this month’s printable be a reminder of that.

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Click here to get your free printable!

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.

Renewed Strength

I have been in a season of constant minor sickness amongst my family. Be it a common virus or my children having a bout of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, it never seems to stop. It is one thing after another during these winter months, and honestly I feel isolated which gets depressing at times. I have needed to skip out on events that I would have loved to be at, not been able to see the faces of friends I love dearly, and let my husband go to things I no longer can, so that my children and I can rest. I know I chose rightly, but alas, often find myself feeling lonely.

Losing physical strength from being sick, even with a common cold, can cause me to reflect on life in an interesting way. I want to feel better, now. I want my kids to be better, now. I refute the persistence of the waiting process, because I feel like I miss out on life. In fact, I even sometimes succumb to despair and wonder if we will always be weak and never get better. Full health and capacity never to be seen again.

Then I reflect on this amazing passage from Isaiah:

renewed-strength“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31

I am reminded of where the renewal of strength truly comes from. It is not just from being at peak physical health, because that can quickly fail me. It does not come from a fun night out with my friends or husband, because the next day quickly approaches. It does not even come from a week long vacation in Hawaii even that can be totally exhausting.

True renewing strength, the kind that lasts and upholds us through to the end, can only come from God. Nothing that the world has tried to offer me as the cure to my weariness reaches beyond the moment and into the eternal places. Time with my Lord, and true devotion to Him, is what gives my soul strength to press on and take heart.

strength-renewedI run to my savior in prayer, telling Him every worry and desire that is in my heart. I long to hear from Him in those desperate moments; I long for Him at every moment. So I spend time reading His word and drawing on the timeless truths that He generously gives through the Bible. I look for Him through the colds and chaos and find He is bigger than it all.

Receiving strength from the One who knows the depth of my weakness, He who created the whole world, the Savior who cleanses my heart, only here do I find the renewal that will last. As this passage in Isaiah says, He gives power to the faint, and He increases our strength. Our bodies will grow weary, yet He can make us soar. Truths like the one found in Isaiah encourage me when I feel like giving up and  awaken my desire to turn to the God who sustains us for all of our days.


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.

Anchored Printables Are Here: Gutsy and Gentle

Who likes free gifts and prayers worth praying for the next generation of women? For yourself?

Our wonderful contributor, Sarah Dohman, is creating a free printable for our readers once a month for all of 2017. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to put this beautiful artwork on your walls. Make sure to follow us, so that you won’t miss one. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

January’s Anchored Printables are prayers written for the woman who longs to be both gutsy and gentle.We live in a culture that can range from asking us to be silent to asking us to be nasty, but God calls us to more. We can live filled with a passion to stand against injustice and still be kind. We can live gently and still be gutsy.  This prayer was written by our founder, Chara Donahue, for her young girls. However, now she finds herself praying it for herself and her friends. Now we are asking you to pray with us for yourself, the next generation, and the women of the world.

May your days be filled with gutsy boldness and gentle peace. With love,

The Anchored Voices team

Gutsy Gentle Woman PreviewClick Here to Download the PDF of the Gutsy and Gentle Woman Prayer

Gutsy Gentle daughters PreviewClick Here to Download the PDF of the Gutsy and Gentle Prayer for Daughters

Find more free printables from Sarah Dohman here.

Enough Renewal for Today

When I consider the word “renewal,” it suggests to me the freshness of each new day. I do love the promise hidden in the hope of a new year, but lately I find myself needing to take things one day at a time. One step, when finances are tight and I literally have no idea where we will find the money.  One moment, when life’s uncertainties crowd my mind and heart. One breath, when my body is weary and my spirit feels weak.

I am encouraged when I think about my strength for the day as the manna God sent the Israelites while they wandered in the desert. Manna, a special wafer that tasted of honey, would only last one day before it rotted and then God renewed the supply with fresh manna in the morning.renewal-for-today

If renewal can represent “freshness” then it’s antithesis would seem to be “stale.” Stalehow I feel when evening comes around. I’ve spent the day wiping snotty noses, convincing my children to eat their meals, on the phone with insurance sorting things out, scheduling bills online, looking at financial projects, and I feel stale. Tired. Sometimes I even feel a little hopeless. But God has given me enough grace for today, and just enough hope to make it into the tomorrow that awaits. Then in the morning there will be new manna, and  restored hope.

I find comfort in this verse:

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ ” Lamentations 3:22-24 (NIV)

todays-renewalI’m not a morning person, but I do find problems are easier to face after a good night’s rest, in the daylight, and after a hearty breakfast. Last night’s problems often seem smaller in the light of the morning. If I stretch my mind too far into the future, I start trying to control my circumstances and forget to accept the daily manna God is giving me with thankfulness.

There’s a good reason God commanded us not to worry in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

As a pretty solid type A personality and a planner by nature, it’s hard for me to accept daily renewal. I want the renewal to last longer! I wish to make plans far into the future and have things fit into nice little boxes. However, it would be foolish to not listen to the wisdom God has been showing me. I’ve been learning that leaning on my own strength leads to bouts of severe anxiety, and then I fret about things I have no control over. So I lift my eyes from my own power and thankfully accept God’s daily renewal as I trust him for all the days of 2017.


Readers, Do you trust God for strength or are you striving to muscle it out on your own? What is one step you could make today that would help you trust in God’s provision for you?

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.

 

When Peace on Earth Seems Impossible

I love reading by Christmas tree light. In the faint warmth of its incandescent illumination I feel hope. The gentle radiance enfolds me into a brief retreat during the bustle of the holiday season. The calm soothes in the midst of the distresses of our broken world, and collides with the disquiet hiding in the corners of my soul.

I find my mind tranquilly wandering into history and the pastoral suburbs of shepherds living under stars, watching woolly animals breathing in, breathing out. I mull over what those men might have been thinking as they watched the calm repose taking place on the fields in front of them. How could they have known that in the provincial life they had become so accustomed to, they would be met by the miraculous?

I long for an angel to appear in front of me proclaiming “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Luke2:10-11. I wait for the miraculous in my own life and am sometimes discouraged by the mundane tasks I find it hiding behind. However, I see myself as no more than a shepherd longing to be met by the Savior of the world. Humbled, I am again reminded the ways of God are not (usually) my ways, and find myself dwelling deeply in mystery that is woven together by penetrating truth and profound beauty.

Even as a person sure in her faith, peace on Earth seems such an impossible ideal. I am painfully aware of the fallen nature of the world. I cannot fool myself into dreaming about this tolerant peace the Christmas specials preach as trees spring up in homes and plastic Santa faces watch through snow-flocked windows.

I know Jesus brought peace to Earth that night in the city of David, but I can’t help but wonder if He took it with Him when He ascended into heaven? His presence through the Holy Spirit provides rest for all that seek Him, and salvation for those He calls His own, and yet, peace seems elusive; rumors of wars, racial injustice, and unspeakable terror plague our daily existence. I am assured of the peace within my soul, but peace on Earth?

Jesus told us “”Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3. We are promised peace, in its fullness, is coming to Earth once more, and He has made room for us to join Him.

This anticipation, this wondering what it will look like, and this falling asleep begging Him to move, all point me to that baby in the manger who grew to be the savior on the cross. Seeing Him gives me the strength to engage in moving towards peace by praying for patience and holding tight to His word as carols hang in December’s crisp air.

I can have hope in the dark, for I know the light is coming. Widowed father of six and literary great Henry Wadsworth Longfellow endured in his asking for a harmonious world and goodwill towards men as He listened carefully to holy cantatas calling through the noise of the Civil War. Through sorrow He wrote “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” from the hospital bed side of his severely injured son, a war time Lieutenant.

“…Till ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime,

A chant sublime

Of peace on Earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound

The carols drowned

Of peace on Earth, good-will to men!…

…Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.'”

When the heaviness of the world presses in, I can turn to the mighty promises of a Living God for strength. He cannot be shaken, so I am emboldened to move forward as a peacemaker. With great joy I offer myself as an ambassador carrying the promise of powerful reconciliation, because this hope I have—the Prince of Peace has interrupted the routine of common men with the glory of the Lord before, and He will do it again. Just because I have trouble wrapping my mind around what that will look like doesn’t keep it from being true. So, come Jesus, come. I want to believe. I am praying for peace on Earth.

~~~

Readers, Whatever Christmas looks like for you this year, remember there is no greater gift than the one that is yours through Christ Jesus. Whether your Christmas season has been filled with sorrow or joy, the hope that is yours through Jesus cannot be shaken. Christmas is the celebration of the redemption of God breaking into dark places. Fear not, He has overcome and because of that there is joy! 

e9d88-chara2bbio2bpic2bsquare2b600pxChara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.

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.

 

Words of Awareness

There are those in life you hope you never hurt. Those who have walked with you through sacred space and have defined friendship for you. Some of my very favorite people in the world I have known since high school. These women,17 years of friendship, and thousands of memories have created some of my most treasured relationships.

As teenagers, we couldn’t get enough of each other. Our parents would take turns hosting slumber parties, and feeding 6 growing young ladies. We were in each other’s classes, we sat by each other before school, during lunch, and took over the couches at each other’s houses after school. Sundaychurch together; Wednesday nightyouth group, church camp, mission trips, family vacations, we were in life together.  In short, we were inseparable.  

The hours upon hours we spent together knit us together as a group, and my friendships with these particular women helped shape me into the woman I am today.

Intertwined with the sweet, I can also identify the bitter memories. Flashbacks that remind me of when I did not act with kindness, or patience. When I tore at those who are my sisters in Christ. Proverbs 18:21(ESV) says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”  My unruly tongue lashed out hurtful words. Language that caused heartache and tears. I am grateful that in these instances I was met with grace and forgiveness, and our solidarity endured. It’s scary that such a small muscle in our body, paired with the thoughts in our brain, can so quickly break down another human causing sometimes irreparable damage.  

Becoming aware of the power of my tongue presents a daily challenge.  Do I build others up, or do I tear them down?  Am I choosing to speak life-giving words into those around me, or am I squandering away my speech on gossip and folly?  I am prayerfully examining my heart, and asking God to give me words of wisdom, truth, and healing.

I will always be grateful for the beauty of the words that have been spoken to me by my girlfriends. We have laughed together, prayed for one another, spoke truth into one another’s lives when we needed it, and offered the grace found in the truth that not one of us is perfect. We knew exactly how to build one another up, and spur one another on in our relationship with Jesus. United we lived out 1 Thessalonians 5:11,“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up”(ESV).  Even today, we have a string of text messages filled with Bitmoji, funny quotes, prayer requests, and promising words.

I have been given a group of women who are life-givers and truth wielders. I realize this is rare, and I am grateful. I also recognize that stewarding these friendships holds weight and brevity. I hold a holy responsibility as a friend: I am asked to care for these women and their hearts with tenderness and attention to words that perhaps go unspoken.  I allow myself to be vulnerable, and in turn ask that they do so as well.  We don’t hide from each other when things are hard. We seek each other out and offer one another grace and wisdom.  
I am challenged and called to action when I think about my group of girlfriends. Can we cheer each other on, and celebrate the successes of the other as if they were our own? Can we hold our tongue when it is powered by our flesh instead of our spirit? Can we rest in our Savior trusting that He will give us the strength to be who He has called us to be? Will we have the courage to be aware of how our actions and words might impact the lives of others? I hope so, and I hope you will join me in the attempt.


Readers, Will you join Sarah in the quest for speaking life instead of death?

9b24d-sarah2bsquareSarah 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.