God Our Healer

From a young age, I knew my hands and heart were created to heal. In my twenties I graduated from nursing school, ready to bring comfort by words and deed. While most of my job consists of staving off illness, curating health promotion and prevention, I do encounter students on my caseload who have incurable syndromes and diseases. With these precious small friends, I have no choice but to trust that God has a plan for their welfare and their time on Earth. This means that sometimes healing occurs, and sometimes it does not.

One miraculous story of healing in Scripture is found in the book of Matthew. Matthew 9:20-22 (ESV) speaks of a woman in desperate need of healing from physical bleeding. “And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.’ Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well.”

The Passion Translation shares this verse a little more clearly. Suddenly, a woman came from behind Jesus and touched the tassel of his prayer shawl for healing. She had been suffering from continual bleeding for twelve years, but had faith that Jesus could heal her. For she kept saying to herself, ‘If I could only touch his prayer shawl I would be healed.’ Just then Jesus turned around and looked at her and said, My daughter, be encouraged. Your faith has healed you.’ And instantly she was healed!”

In an instant, Jesus turned and saw this unclean woman. Only, he didn't see her impurities, or scrunch his face up in disgust. In turn, he saw her heart, broken and willing. He knew herPause for a moment and envision this woman’s life. She lived in a time prior to adequate sanitary conditions. Women who were menstruating were physically separated from men for seven days at a time. They were not to go out, touch members of their family, even cook or clean. Women during this monthly ritual were to be quiet, as per purity laws. This woman had been bleeding for 12 years! She suffered not only all the physical ramifications of having a constant period, but the emotional and social implications as well. I’m positive she felt isolated, depressed, frazzled, and fragile.

In her state of desperation, this woman left her home, where, by law, she was required to reside, and sought after Jesus. She had caught wind that he was in the business of healing, and she knew in her heart of hearts that if she could see him, talk to him, touch him — he could save her from her life of distress. Her faith drew her to Jesus, and prompted her to boldly act, touching his robe. An unclean woman, as she was, shouldn’t have been out in public, nor been in the presence of men. An unclean woman most certainly should not have reached for Jesus in the crowd. But on that day, God heard her cry, and her fingers swept across the robe of Jesus.

In an instant, Jesus turned and saw this unclean woman. Only, he didn’t see her impurities, or scrunch his face up in disgust. Instead, he saw her heart, broken and willing. He knew her pain, her cry for help. He picked her out of the crowd, declared her faith, and healed her.

As I grow older, I recognize the need for Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals. Psalm 147:3 states, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” He wants us to come to Him in our brokenness, whether that means physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally. He has no desire to shame us, or turn us away when we are in a state of desperation. Instead, Jehovah Rapha longs to repair the wounds. God is the God of healing, no matter what state we are in.

As Ann Swindell says in Still Waiting, “There is one truth that allows us to be a people of hope, even as we wait for our own wholeness and healing: Jesus has restored us to himself, to others, and to ourselves. And when the King of kings restores us–soul, body, and life–we are given hope, not only for this life, but for all of eternity.” (211)

He wants us to come to him in our ragged state -- to lay down our burdens, to have faith in miracles. He sees us. He knows us.My time as a nurse has taught me to see beauty in the brokenness. There are those who are suffering from physical ailments. Minds that are overwhelmed by anxiety and fear, depression and angst. Hearts that are longing to be known and loved. Working as a nurse has revealed there is a humility in asking for help when life feels uncontrollable.

I am not sure if you are in a current state of desperation — if you are needing healing. If you are not, I’m sure you know a friend or loved one who is. And while I cannot explain why God does not always heal this side of heaven, I am sure of this: He wants us to come to him in our ragged state — to lay down our burdens, to have faith in miracles. He sees us. He knows us. May we be moved in our times of biggest need to seek Jehovah Rapha for restoration and healing.

sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.


5 Seeds of Bitterness that Need to be Uprooted

Two tiny leaves popped through the newly thawed soil. Stretching toward the sun, they began to grow, each extra bit of sunlight and water fueling them to become the exact imprint of the seed that had been planted months before. Laid dormant through the harsh winter, it was finally time for this new life to break forth into the world.

I watched with delight as the seedling burst forth. I hadn’t lived long in this place, and certainly didn’t know what may have been planted. In the beginning, the tiny leaves were indistinguishable from one another, so I waited with baited breath while I imagined what beautiful things had been sown in this place. I watched carefully, at first, but as they continued to grow I lost track and checked in less often. Until, one day, I rounded the corner to find that the innocent tiny duo of leaves had somehow transformed overnight into a gnarly tangle of thorny foliage.

A weed. In fact an army of weeds, had invaded my yard as I stood there watching. I didn’t have the time to wrestle with it that day, so I left it and went about my business, sure that it would be there to face another day.

Sure enough, when I came back, it was there. Nearly as tall as I am, with a thick stalk and strange alien defenses, the weed defiantly stared me down. Inch long thorns drew blood and precariously fragile fluffy seed pods drifted defiantly in the air around me.

In the cool of the day, as I yanked out the deep roots of this intruder, I began to think of how similar my heart is when infested with unexpected bitterness.

Bitterness Holly HawesBitterness has never been something I saw coming. Instead, it always appears as an unexpected invader. As a seed dormant for a long time, promising new growth, all hiding and disguised bitterness. Death that masqueraded as life until it was so deeply entrenched that tearing it out tore me up in the process.

The seeds of bitterness are tricky, because the same experiences can lead us to different places, depending on how we respond. One way leads to death, and the other to life and peace.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6

Here are some unexpected seeds of bitterness to watch out for:


Pain becomes bitterness when we don’t allow God to heal us. The source of the pain doesn’t really make a difference. Loss, betrayal, physical anguish, and the things that make our heart hurt can either push us away from one another and from God, or pull us closer.

When we face pain points in our lives we need to watch carefully. Guard against bitterness towards God by meditating on and wrestling with the truth of his goodness, faithfulness, and power despite the current situation. Guard against bitterness towards others by not expecting them to fix it, or say exactly the right thing.


Relationships become filled with bitterness when we don’t bring up hurts or offenses. We try to get past problems without facing them, and in the process drift away. Soon we realize we haven’t seen the person in months, and it would be quite uncomfortable to encounter them. A gnarly bitterness has grown where there needed to be a simple conversation. In confronting hurts rather than avoiding, we guard our friendships and relationships. The initial plucking out is far less destructive than what we could allow to grow.


Control produces bitterness when we discover that control is a mirage. Whether it is a cancer diagnosis, or a person you’d rather act a different way, any effort to control things can quickly turn into bitterness.


Holly Hawes BitternessWe all long for something, but if we make our happiness contingent on the fulfillment of our longings, we will discover that none of our longings truly satisfy. That specific person’s approval. The next step in your career. A child. To be included. It isn’t as if these desires are for “bad” things, but the overwhelming nature of the longing can easily elevate it beyond what these good things were meant to fulfill. Long-term lack of the very thing you feel entitled to moves quickly from disappointment to bitterness.


How can bitterness grow in the solitary mind? Unspoken expectations can quickly pile up, until our thoughts become centered on how “He never______ ” or “She always____.” This is especially true of roommates, or family members. The people we share close physical proximity with have ample opportunities to fail to meet unspoken expectations. Instead of letting expectations morph into bitterness, have a conversation.

This year, I am facing spring head on. Trowel in hand, I am heading into the mud to root up the seedlings that I have seen turn into painfully-spiky alien invaders. And as I dig, I am examining my heart once again. What have I let grow that God would ask me to dig out? What at first glance looked like innocent leaves, but is beginning to grow into bitterness? Are the things in my life full of the Spirit? Life and Peace? These must be answered if I want true life to flourish.

holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

Sweet Freedom from a Bitter Heart

I crammed the square of chocolate into my mouth in wonderful anticipation of the smooth sweet taste.   My salivary glands were already reacting when my brain fired off an alert and my senses went reeling.  Something was terribly wrong.  I glared at my older brother who sat nearby with watchful eyes and knowing smirk while I spit the bitter brown nugget from my mouth.

“What is that?”  I yelled at him, my eyes flashing in anger and horror.

“Chocolate,” He replied with a laugh forming on his lips.

“No it isn’t!”  I protested as I tried to punch him; he was too quick for me.  My Mom emerged from the house, “What are you shouting about?”

“He’s trying to poison me.  He said it was chocolate!  It tastes like death!”

She turned toward my brother as he shrugged with a smile, “What?  It was chocolate.  Baker’s chocolate, but still chocolate,” he looked at me, “relax, you aren’t gonna die.”

My Mom sighed, “Kinda mean though.”

I shot darts from my eyes at my brother as I went to get a drink and wash the bitter taste from my mouth.

I’ve never forgotten that taste of baker’s chocolate, but I’ve come to know another kind of bitterness as well; the pain of a bitter heart.

I’ve also discovered that it isn’t as easy to wash away the bad taste in my heart as it was the bitter taste from my mouth.

It hurts more.

And when something once sweet turns bitter, the result seems all the more pungent; all the more unbearable.

Maybe that’s why addressing bitterness is a long, hard road.

You can’t just cover bitterness up, it has to be washed away and cleansed completely.  I only know one Person who can totally manage my heart.

Bitterness Jacqi Kambish (1)I’ve faced my fair share of bitterness.  In the past, I’ve try to force myself to get over it, but some things aren’t that easy.  Even when I thought I’d moved passed it, I’d come to realize I hadn’t.  I’d see the person in church or at school or wherever I ran into them and suddenly I would know.  The taste of loathing would find its way to my tongue, and I would know I hadn’t fully addressed the shadows in my heart.

Not very long ago, I had to work through those dark corners within me once again.  I stared at the object of my dismay across the room as she tipped her head back and laughed.  I knew from the ugly feelings bubbling up inside me that I hadn’t properly dealt with the hurt.

Had we been friends…once upon a time?

I supposed, in my grumpy state, that perhaps I had only thought we were friends.  Perhaps we never had been friends at all.  I felt betrayed, cast aside, and neglected.  I felt foolish and alone.  But even more, I felt ashamed that those feelings were twisting up inside of me because when I looked in the mirror and faced them, I saw how ugly they really were.

Every time I thought I could stuff them down and make them go away, I was reminded that the bitterness still raged like a monster inside of me.

It wasn’t totally her fault; life had happened and I got left behind.  It wasn’t malicious, but it still hurt.  My problem wasn’t her though.  Not really.  It was all the lies I believed about myself.

The lie that I was better than my feelings and that I didn’t need to address them because they were silly.

The lie that I wasn’t worthwhile or valued.

The lie that I wasn’t pretty enough, or smart enough or good enough.

The lie that I wasn’t needed and that it made me void of purpose.

The lie that I could be easily forgotten.

The lies hurt, the loss of friendship hurt and bitterness crept in.  I wanted to spit it out, but I couldn’t.  It stayed with me far too long.

It was then that I confessed to the LORD and asked the LORD to heal my wounded heart.  It was then that I confessed my feelings to trusted members of my church and asked for prayer, and it was then that the healing truly began.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  James 5:16

Jacqi Kambish BitternessWhen I finally faced the darkness in my own heart I realized I needed to confess and ask for prayer.  The change in my heart didn’t happen right away.  It was slow progress.  Still, God began to soften my heart toward the other person.  He started to show me that she was hurting in her own ways as well.  He started to create compassion within me.  Slowly, the compassion edged out the bitterness until all that remained was a genuine love, peace, and freedom I didn’t know was possible.

It wasn’t my doing.

I didn’t change me; God did.

But I let him.

And as I let him change my heart, he also showed me the truth about myself:

That those lies I believed where indeed lies. My value doesn’t come from being loved by people, but by belonging to God and being loved by him. That is the sweetest truth of all.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32

Jacqi KambishJacqi Kambish is a Christian mom to three spirited children striving to balance the daily demands of parenting a child with special needs and meeting the needs of typically developing siblings while working full time and writing.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry from William Jessup University.  Jacqi lives with her family in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and enjoys reflectively writing about parenting, faith, and the joys and trials of life while leaving her readers with hope and encouragement.  Her blog The Presumptuous Ladybug can be found at and you can connect with her on Facebook.

The Faith-Inspired Books We Loved in 2017, and What We Will Read in 2018

We asked our contributors to tell us their favorite faith-inspired book read in 2017 and what they look forward to reading in 2018, so we could share the book love with you.

We would love to hear your recommendations in the comments!

The Books We Loved

Britney Bradley: The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch

Sarah Clews: Heaven by Randy Alcorn

Sarah Dohman: Uninvited by Lysa TerKerst

Chara Donahue: Dance, Stand, Run by Jess Connolly

Kate Franken: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Holly Hawes: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

What We Plan to Read

Kayla Anderson: Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore

Britney Bradley: Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul Tripp

Sarah Clews: If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey

Sarah Dohman: At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider

Chara Donahue: Fervent by Priscilla Shirer

Karly Grant: Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis

Holly Hawes: The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms by Timothy and Kathy Keller

Jacqi Kambish: Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach

Kimberley Mulder: Imaginative Prayer: A Yearlong Guide for Your Child’s Spiritual Formation by Jared Boyd

Keri Nikkel: Mother and Son, The Respect Effect by Emerson Eggerichs

Rachel Olson: Ministering in Honor-shame Cultures by Jayson Georges

What are you reading in 2018_

Leaving Behind Consumerist Thriving

What exactly is a good life? How can I find it? No matter where you come from, this is a question everyone finds themselves trying to answer. It is also the source of the myriad of products, remedies, and regimens that bombard any kind of social media platform. Take this. Eat this  Use this. Try this. IT. CHANGED. MY. LIFE.

I mostly believe you.  Quite a bit of my money has been spent because I completely believe that you must be thriving (because you told me so on Instagram) and this thing really helped.  Don’t we all want  life to be more {Choose one: Organized. Healthy. Youthful. Exuberant. Energetic. Pretty. Fun. Whole. Toxin-Free. Eco-Friendly. Simple. Clean.}? There is nothing wrong with trying new things to help us in life as we seek to use the days God has given us well. Attempts at thriving may be great for a time, but one by one they all will eventually fail. Even good things make a poor god.

thrive Holly HawesThings are a poor substitute for what we are meant for. At the end of your life, your heart will stop beating, no matter how many smoothies you drank. Youthfulness will not last. It isn’t supposed to. And you can be lonely even if you have the “perfect” everything.

In the age of lifestyle bloggers, there is a constant comparison and expectation I often don’t realize I have ingested until I begin to feel the ramifications of the poison.  Envy.  Discontent. Jealousy. Idolatry develops as I expect life to feel better “when” the next big thing is achieved, only to find that my desires are a moving target that cannot be satisfied. How easy it is to let the lives everyone else is living consume my thoughts as they are  thoroughly scrolled, liked, and commented.  All the while, leaving the actual life God has given me on the sidelines.

I know not everyone is held captive by the lives they see others living, but I have found that this is the battlefield of my soul, where God fights for me, and teaches me that he alone can satisfy. Only he offers the abundant, thriving life I am looking for. It just looks different that I thought it woulddifferent than the cultural air I breathe would ascribe to.

holly hawes thriveJesus says that something altogether different makes for a thriving life.

  • He said he came to serve, not to be served, and the greatest in his kingdom would live out this upside down economy of love.
  • His word says not to be surprised that we face trials, for the Lord is near to the brokenhearted.
  • He says we are blessed when we are persecuted, peacemakers, or poor in spirit. The things we try to actively avoid are exactly where we will be most fulfilled in Him.
  • His life was cut short, he was betrayed, he never married or had kids, and yet Jesus is the only one to have lived a perfect life. A life without many of the blessings I feel are “owed” to me.

As I look to the next season of life, I want to wash my cultural lenses through the truth of the gospel, so I may see clearly. No circumstance, product, or relationship can meet the God-given desire for wholeness that only comes from being in relationship with the God who created us with purpose. Nothing less will satisfy, all else eventually falls apart. As you begin to live with Him, with new motivations, and a new upside-down economy, know the kingdom of God will begin to bring the joy you were seeking. When you find the sense of thriving in Him, don’t be surprised if it looks very little like Instagram but is still more beautiful than you can imagine.

holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

Motivations Made New

Author: Kate Franken

As a new year approaches, dreams and ideals inundate my thoughts. I can easily get wrapped up in the New Year’s resolution mindset, hoping to make lasting changes. I know what the naysayers say. I’ve, at times, been one myself. Experience has taught me that adherence to resolutions is typically short-lived, but I want to be an optimist and see desire win. I don’t want to let the stories written in the past deter me. I let the visions of who I will be in the new year ruminate, and I contemplate the paths I must journey to bring visions to fruition. When all at once, it registers that I’ve missed a step in all the plotting and planning. The merit of my resolutions needs to be evaluated.

Kate Franken New YearMemories from a month ago, of a conversation with dear friends concerned about my tendency to overwork, came flooding back. They spoke truth and love, as community should. Our conversation left me pondering for weeks to come, “For whom, is this all for? What is my motivation?” These questions are now a guide when determining which resolutions to discard or keep.

If I’m honest, the changes I largely covet are about me. They are driven by the cravings for perfection and happiness. Pride doesn’t need more fuel, so I quickly quelch that fire, not giving those selfish resolutions a second thought. If a resolution is propelled for the purpose of serving God, I am determined to chase hard after it.

We should pray heartily for Jesus to bring about the change in us. We let His words influence our steps. We rest in knowing there is grace, because we will fall. Falling is not failure. Failure comes when we don’t see our need for God, when we don’t extend our hand to Him so that He can carry us forward. Humility will be required, for pride will obstruct locked hands. Vain endeavors block the source of true strength and we will find holy power to be cut off.

It is my prayer that we walk forward into 2018, viewing tomorrow with an eternal lense. Living not for today, but for eternity.

New Year Kate Franken“Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” -Colossians 3:2

“As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” -2 Corinthians 4:18

May our intentions be sound and reflect a heart that seeks and loves the King of Kings. May His Kingdom be advanced as we increase in submission and service. May all our longings for happiness be found in relationship with Him, as He guides us into this new year.

Readers, What are your dreams for the new year? How can you use those to glorify and draw closer to God?


kate-squareKate Franken is a 4th grade teacher and a volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon. She enjoys indulging in raw conversation whilst savoring a cup or more of coffee. Her hunt for good books and podcasts is endless. She finds refuge surrounded by trees, on hiking trails, with her two dogs in tow. She is especially fond of mountaintop views, wit, “best teacher ever” love letters, breakfast, a painted sky, and Jesus. She has a heart for connecting people to His church and encouraging others into relationship with Him.

Anchored Printable: Christmas


We here at Anchored Voices hope that this season is filled with joy, even if you are facing deep sorrow, because we know both can exist within one person simultaneously. Our circumstances may be hard, but our souls can be at rest in the truth that our SAVIOR was born!

We hope this printable, created by Sarah Dohman of Isaiah 9:6  will encourage you this holiday season.


Click Here to Grab Your Printable
Isaiah 9_6

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)

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.

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.