God’s Art

The sun has been out this week and there is something so blissful about a warm sunny day. In the midst of this lovely summer season, there have been difficult stories like dealing with war, losing loved ones, and sicknesses. I ask God a lot, “How much longer does all of this have to go on?” And by a lot, I mean several times a day. It just seems like there are so many sad things happening all the time, everywhere. I am amazed by God’s patience with this world because I don’t have a lot of it when I hear about all this stuff. Even though this world appears to be right full of junk, there is still God. His beauty and generous gifts are everywhere.

I was staring at the hummingbirds yesterday and I stood in wonder of His extraordinary creations. Some of these birds fly all the way from Mexico just to eat at one of my hummingbird feeders and that is just fascinating to me. For me, driving all the way to our nearest city, which is just under two hours, can be such a chore and I have a difficult time staying awake. God made this little bird that can fly over 2000 miles to Maine in a matter of several days just to slurp on my sugar water and that’s pretty cool. 

Everything He creates is infused with such amazing detail that it often blows my mind. He draws every speck of color on the blossoming trees and flowers. He strategically places every hair in beautiful perfection on my cats to make them look stunning. He constructs each of us so meticulously that no two are alike. God loves to create all the marvelous things on Earth and I bet He has a lot of fun doing it too. He takes joy in His creations and ultimately, His glory is on full display for all of us to see. We can get so busy that we don’t notice Him in our surroundings. I give thanks for the smile on my daughter’s face, for the unique relaxing sound of a cat purring, for the delicious scent of a grilled steak, for when I hear my dad perfectly play the piano and so much more.

I give thanks. 

For the big things down to the minuscule things… I give thanks that He even thinks about blessing me. Each of us have been tremendously blessed by God because He gave us Jesus. Plus, in the end, we get to be with Him forever and ever. We can’t even fully imagine how Heaven will look, feel, smell, taste or sound like!! This earth can’t even compare to what is waiting for us on the other side of life. Even if Heaven was solely Jesus and nothing else I would be ecstatic, but I believe God has amazing forever plans for His believers. I believe our souls will be enraptured by what He has built for us. He has a new life already planned out for us and therefore leaving this world doesn’t scare me in the least bit. 

While we are still here in this world, we have to get out there and minister to those who don’t know Him! Ministry takes a lot of work, patience, and love. It takes a small army to run a church or a ministry of any kind. Often, it feels like the army is retreating, and because of this I pray that God will spur the hearts of His people to get back into the fray. Serve God with a pure heart and His presence will never leave you. Even though we could never repay God for the enormous amount of blessings He has gifted us, we can serve Him and be thankful, right? These words are from Jesus – “If anyone serves me, he must follow me. Where I am, there my servant also will be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” John‬ ‭12:26‬ 

I hope all of you get to enjoy this summer especially after last year. God bless you and remember to smile because He loves you more.

Guest Writer: Cara

Treasured Hope

Hi everyone! I hope you are doing well in the midst of this black fly season. I was determined to get my flower garden set up so I had to wear my jacket with the hood tied tight. They still bit me but my flowers are in the ground. I win. 

I have said more than once that I am so glad that I won’t get bug bites in Heaven. A lot of people say how much they can’t wait for Heaven so that they can see Jesus, family, friends and pets. We can try to imagine how it will all happen and what it will look like when we wake up there. There are movies, books and dreams galore, all trying to depict something that I believe will be so far off from the true Heaven. 

I saw a quote this week that completely stopped me in my tracks:

 “Did you ever stop to think that God is going to be as pleased to have you in Heaven as you are to be there?” 

A.W. Tozer

Personally, I have never thought about it from the viewpoint of Jesus. When I think about Heaven, I picture myself running to Jesus and hugging him. I can imagine asking a million questions and being so excited to get the heavenly tour. 

Now, all these words are coming only from me and my heart, so take it with a grain of salt or maybe, please think about it deeply for yourself, but what if when we get to Heaven, Jesus is the one who is running towards us, jumping up and down with joy? Imagine Jesus being the one who is happier to see our face up close and personal. We tend to make it all about us getting to Heaven so we can see Him, but really it is about Jesus. It is about what He did for us when He suffered, died and rose again. He went through hell on earth for us; because of this I can believe that He is passionately counting down the days when all His people will be home with Him, forever. I can envision it like completing an obstacle course. We have to climb walls, crawl through mud pits, delicately walk through sticky situations, balance ourselves through highs and lows, jump over hurdles and then sometimes we veer off the path. Jesus is there to guide, encourage, strengthen, refresh and save us. He gets us through the course of life. Then at the finish line, He is waiting with anticipation of receiving us into His arms. I believe there is a celebration for every soul who enters into Christ. There is so much discussion about us being in sin and deserving wrath which is true, but we also need to remember that we are made in God’s image. Focusing only on what sin has done and not what Jesus has done can cause us to lose sight of our worth to the Father. His inheritance is us being in a sinless form and having an eternal relationship with Him. 

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what is the wealth of His glorious inheritance in the saints…”

Ephesians 1:18

 Even while typing this, I am blown away in deep gratitude that God infinitely loves me so much. It is hard to wrap my head around the idea that God would call us His prized inheritance. We are His valued treasure! Steep your mind in that truth because He is amazingly generous to all of us. So, as you go about your week, remember to live in a way that honors the fact that you are a treasured inheritance of the Most High. God bless you!

Guest Writer: Cara

Brand New: A Journey.

The day I left my home on the east coast and moved west, my dad packed my car for me. He’s a highly experienced packer. I only had one request: the bicycle goes in first and then fit everything else around it. 

Since I was leaving my home, my family, and everything familiar to me, I knew I’d need the comfort and the familiarity of riding. Maybe it could help with the transition. I love biking so much, I even enjoy the hills. The exhilaration of flying down the other side after pushing myself to the top is well worth the effort. Being in a new place meant all the roads were new, which meant every ride would be an exploration. I was looking forward to this part! 

But if I was so excited about exploring new literal roads, why wasn’t I excited to explore metaphorical roads? Why wasn’t I excited to explore roads leading to a new job, to a new church, and to my boyfriend. All I could think about was the fact that these roads were leading me away from all that I knew.

A church which had watched me grow up.

A home where I could let my guard down because I belonged there.

Why can’t I see that these hills, which God has given me to climb, are worth it, too?

With the packing complete all that I had left to do was say goodbye. There was no reason to linger in the bittersweet. I was leaving the family I love to finally live near the man I love. Going from one long-distance relationship to another. All of my family was gathered around my parents’ back porch. I posed for pictures with my two young nephews, not knowing when I’d be seeing them next and not knowing what laid on the road ahead. The whites of my eyes were red, and it was hard to make eye contact with these people who I would miss the most. I was leaving the familiarity and comfort for a life of brand-new.

My dad gathered me in his arms and I looked up into his face. I saw that his eyes were red, too. 

Three days before, when I said goodbye to my neighbors, I cried. Hard. Three cute little boys I babysat. I was heading back toward my apartment walking on a path through the trees when Liam, 7 years old, ran out to me in his pj’s. 

“I guess I’ll see you never again.” His shoulders were slumped forward. He and his family are heading to the mission field, Lord willing. No more shadow puppets with my phone flashlight. No more ‘superfastnaked’, a “game” they loved to play which occurred when they got distracted between taking off their clothes and donning their pajamas.

Managing to hold it together, I saw this as a chance for some comforting theology. “Hey, if we both follow Jesus, we will see each other after He comes back and makes the world new again!”

“Up in heaven!” 

“Yeah like he’s gonna make a new earth and Jesus’ followers will live on it!” 

“We will come back to life?!” 

“Yeah, you know how Jesus came back to life? That’ll happen to everyone who follows Jesus.” 

“Wow, I didn’t know we are gonna come back to life!” 


“I’m gonna give you another hug.” As Liam ran over to me, I was dumb-founded by the change. He just accepted the truth I told him, even though it was the first time he’d ever realized it.And it caused him to feel relieved. His shoulders weren’t slumped forward anymore. He knew there was hope in my words. 

Do I believe my own words?

“See you later, buddy!”

As I turned away to the covering of the trees, Liam called out one last time, “See you when the world is new again!” My face could no longer dam the emotions and they overflowed. 

How could I have joy like that in the face of change and the unknown?

The last time I saw my family, Dad led us to our Heavenly Father in prayer.

I got into my car and drove away. With every minute, I was farther and farther away from the life and comfort I knew. Every mile brought new sights. New everything.

When I drove into the driveway of my new home, I was greeted by welcoming arms. As we unpacked my car, and I reassembled my bike, I thought about how I had a habit of using it as an escape from the difficulties of life. 

Do I really need to do that? 

Do I really need to escape in a world where a loving Heavenly Father has a good purpose for my life and everything in the cosmos?

Little Liam’s hug reminded me that I could have joy now. Because of Jesus. Even in the face of uncertainty. The pain of the unknown in this sin-cursed world will be undone in the recreation of the Heavens and the Earth. There’s comfort now knowing that the future is in good hands. 

My father’s hug reminded me that God the Father cares. He sees and He feels. I could move miles away from my dad, but I would never be away from God. I don’t need to wait two weeks of quarantine to visit him. I don’t need to stay socially distanced from him. His powerful arms are around me as I walk down these new roads.

I can face any new thing as I keep facing Him.

I don’t need to keep focused on my pain, staring down at the ground as I pedal. I don’t need to keep so focused on the difficulty in the next steps that I lose sight of the bigger picture. God is bringing together this amazing landscape of a story all around me. Look up! Look around and see! 

New colors. New strokes. New everything. 

Imagine living with this new-found confidence! Thinking about the strange and uncertain path ahead would become exciting! These strange hills and ups and downs of life can be seen with new eyes: there’s major pay-off ahead. God gives me the strength to push on so I would experience the joy at the top. Even joy in the climb. 

I wheeled my bike out of the garage where it now lives and buckled my helmet. I looked down at my phone and started my app to record the trip-and what a trip it would be.

Breanne is a native of New Brunswick, Canada who recently moved to brave life in Ontario. She loves everything outdoors including cycling, hiking, and kayaking. Breanne is passionate about teaching (especially children who need a little extra love and attention) and learning. You can follow Breanne’s poetry account on instagram @scen.ic.route and you can find her blog here!

Jesus, a Treadmill, & Me

I see me. I am running. Going nowhere. My feet pound, pound, pound the whirring belt. With a weak arm, I reach out and click the “increase speed” button. I watch the glowing numbers as they climb. I see the right side of my mouth rise slightly. Visage illuminated only by the red lights on the console. Legs treading at the unmerciful mill of productivity—grinding anxiety into a fine dust.

“Just… a little faster… Just… a little longer… Just… a little harder.”

Pound. Pound. Pound. 

I recall my list. Always a running list.  Rolling beneath my feet as I race to check things off. 

“Laundry. Exercise. Study. Podcast. Lunch. Practice. Call mom. Dishes. Read.”

Just… a little faster… Just… a little longer… Just… a little harder.”

Habitually, I reach out to that button which is no longer legible. 
I suck at the stale air, hoping this inhale will be the one to finally deliver peace to my lungs.
All this striving wears me out. It’s harder and harder to lift my feet. My lips are a desert leading to the wilderness of my throat. The arches of my feet are burning and tight. I can’t do it any longer. 
But I must. I extend an arm to extend my efforts one more time, but I never get the chance. Suddenly, my face runs into the numbers and I crash. Hard. None of my discipline has prepared me for this.

My rolling scrolling list roughly flings me backwards where I hug the chilled floor.

 I am crumpled in a heap, skin reddened and radiating. I groan. My face clings to the floor as I give one a single attempt to lift myself up. I couldn’t rush toward the prize any longer. I just…all of the sudden…couldn’t. My knees bear the evidence, and my side, and my right cheek. So I just stay there for a while. 

“I just need a little rest. I deserve it.” I attempt to suppress my wince as I speak.

I drag my arms toward another console. This one is in my pocket. I nominate a new novel glow to ease my pain. It is iridescent and intoxicating. Rolling scrolling down the list of posts ever running before my eyes.

“Just…a little longer… Then I’ll get back to it.”

I am slumped, shivering on the concrete. Always facing the glow, unable to look away for longer than a breath.
Avoiding what I’m avoiding. Hours upon hours. I am resting but there is no rest. Running from reality, I prostrate myself before the shimmering idol. 

Instead of taking a vital sabbath rest, the floor becomes my new home and I dwell there. Until at once, fear and rage boiled over. 
I  hurl my phone across the room. “Enough of this life-wasting!” I  hop onto the treadmill of accomplishment once again and I am off to the races. 

“I can do this!”

I swing the pendulum again from running lists to crashing fits and back again. I hurriedly get myself back up to speed, making up for lost time. 

“My, I have come so far, haven’t I? I used to be so depressed and useless. Now look at me!”

The soles of my sneakers graze the belt a little too early and I grab the console for balance. 

“Must… Not… Crash…” I push the words through my teeth.

I feel it before I see it. Instead of the harsh hardness of plastic, I clutch warm flesh within my clammy grasp. Nearly unable to raise my head, I peer through beads of sweat. I continue to stumble with the treadmill pushing me onward.

Realization spreads across my face. A man is standing in front of me. Who is He? One of His hands is moving. What is He doing? Click, click, click. 

Its barely perceptible at first, then undeniable. My legs aren’t stumbling as much as they were a moment ago. 

” I will give you rest,” He declares. 

The frantic humming of the machine beneath me changes pitch as it slows. The disruption is disorienting at first but gazing into the eyes of the man quickly grounds me.

“You were not accepted by me because you ran yourself to me. Nor is that what will keep you with me.”

I see my lips part slightly then pause. It seems I don’t need to speak for He knows my heart. 
The treadmill comes to a gradual halt. Halt is not the right word; it isn’t jarring as I’d always imagined it would be. Was this what I was working to avoid all of this time?
He held out his hand to me as I imagined a father would when helping his young child hop from stone to stone across a small creek.

“Come to me. I will give you rest.”

My feet tread the cement floor for the first time since I’d vainly peeled myself off it not long ago. The basement walls melt away and soft light pierces through the dinginess. As in a dream, I barely notice the transition from that prison to breathing fresh air. I arrive in a new world. Overwhelming, yet somehow simultaneously serene. Taking in this new creation infuses me with hope.

More trust. More rest. More delight. 

Together, we ascend a grassy mountain path. The Man speaks softly to me. 

“Striving is not the way. I am The Way. Sweating will make you thirstier. With Me, you will never thirst again.” 

The trail opens up to a calm stream. Light cascades down and reflects on the ripe fruit above.
Jesus spreads his arms upward. “Would you like something to eat?”
A delighted, unrestrained laugh draws my attention toward a group sitting in the shade. Planted and peaceful. 
I gesture toward them with raised eyebrows. “Do they live here?” 
“Yes. And so do I.”
He hands me a shiny fruit and I take a bite. Juice running down as I rest with Him.
 We are walking. Going nowhere in particular. Luscious grass peeks between my toes, a welcome embrace for my weary bones. 

“You’ve brought me so far…Look how high we’ve climbed!”

“Yes, my child. Welcome to a land where I am the light on your face and I am the wind beneath your feet. I am everything you need.”

I see my arm reach out and clutch His hand. Held by my Savior. I don’t need a console to console me anymore. Instead, I turn to His beaming face. I see both sides of my mouth climb high and I beam back.

More trust. More rest. More delight. 

Breanne is a native of New Brunswick, Canada who recently moved to brave life in Ontario. She loves everything outdoors including cycling, hiking, and kayaking. Breanne is passionate about teaching (especially children who need a little extra love and attention) and learning. You can follow Breanne’s poetry account on instagram @scen.ic.route and you can find her blog here!

In Everything

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. “- 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

In past years, November has been an easy month to focus on all that we are grateful for. In 2020, however, this hasn’t come so easily. Usually around this time, as a culture we tend to naturally switch into “be thankful” mode and write lists of what we are thankful for.

I’m not sure where this year has left you, but it has left my family and I feeling vulnerable.

My husband and I moved in March just days before the entire country shut down and we went into our first quarantine. My parents graciously allowed us to move in with them. Our plan was to stay until Christmas, but the first quarantine left it next to impossible for either of us to find jobs. Our bank account dwindled. We had to learn how to be married in a house that totaled 5 people and 4 pets. There was also no escape from each other. Personalities clashed. Anxiety was at an all time high. Eventually we found jobs, but the idea of moving out became impossible. The days of quarantine turned into weeks and then into months. I remember the first time we were able to go sit at a restaurant and eat – I cried.
As someone who struggles with anxiety, going out in public became very difficult. All the while, masks became a fashion accessory. Throw all of that into a heated social climate, a political battle that never seems to end, and tragedies happening all around- it’s surprising how we have all made it this far.

But here we sit the week before Thanksgiving somehow surviving another day.

It’s challenging then to read a verse like 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and think to yourself that it’s even possible. As someone who tends to lean hard into the negative anyway, this year has given me every reason to shut down, disengage, and complain. Even with the upcoming holiday, our plans have changed. It won’t look like a “normal” Thanksgiving. The fact that I had to use the phrase “normal” is enough to send some people spiraling.

But there’s something important I’ve come to learn in the midst of all the chaos:

Our God is not chaos. He is peace in the midst of it all.

I know that’s hard to hear. It’s hard for me to write. But – I think it’s a reminder we all need to hear right now. That’s the beauty of 1 Thessalonians 5:18. It doesn’t just say “in everything give thanks” and stop there. It goes on to say, “this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” We don’t have to find the courage to be thankful alone. We have a loving Savior who wants to gently remind us why we can be thankful. Yes, even in the midst of the most chaotic year.

The other night at dinner when the five of us sat down we asked the question, “Are you better off than you were a year ago?” Consistently that answer was yes. I was shocked by that at first, but then I realized that our perspective had shifted from simply dealing with the latest tornado thrown at us to instead gaining a full picture of what had actually taken place throughout the whole year. Yes, we moved straight into a quarantine. A year ago, though, we were in a stuck season. We didn’t have the full words for it yet, but the reality was that we were drained. If we had stayed in that, our marriage may have crumbled right along with our faith. Throughout the unexpected year, though, God has allowed us to heal and move forward out of that stuck place. He gave us a new, unshakable strength, despite the uncertainty. A reason to be thankful in everything.

That’s what God did in 2020.

That’s not what I did, what covid did, or what the latest social/political conversation did. God alone did.

It’s obvious this year hasn’t been normal. Regardless, I want to encourage you to ask God the question: “how am I better off than I was a year ago?”

Be prepared to have Him shock you with the answer.

Biblical Bravery

What do you think of when you hear the word “brave”? Do you think of a firefighter rushing into a burning building? Perhaps you think of men and women serving our country in the military. You may even think of a majestic lion. We all have different images that come to mind when we hear the word “brave.”

Being “biblically brave” is different than just being “brave.”

The definition of “brave” itself can be defined as “ready to face and endure danger or pain by showing courage.” Courage is often defined as the ability to do something even though it frightens you.

Biblical bravery, on the other hand, can be summed up as “being ready to face danger or pain in the name of Jesus.” In order to be biblically brave, one cannot seek to glorify one’s self. They cannot rely on their own abilities. They must instead choose to rely upon the Lord.

Meet Elisabeth

A biblically Brave person is a faithful person. Faithful in the Christian context means to be full of faith in God, His love, His abilities, and His promises. I want to briefly introduce to you a biblically Brave woman. Elisabeth Elliot was an author, missionary, mother, and wife. Elisabeth was also one of the most faithful women of our time. 

During a missionary trip to Ecuador, Elisabeth’s first husband Jim and 4 others were murdered by the very tribes of people they had been ministering to. Thirteen years later, Elisabeth married for a second time. Her husband, Addison, died of cancer just 4 years after the two were wed. It’s no secret that Elisabeth Elliot wasn’t a stranger to heart ache and struggle. But what makes Elisabeth so different and what kept her from being consumed by her circumstances was that she was biblically Brave.

“Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.” 

Elisabeth Elliot

Elisabeth said, “Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.”

This is true dear sisters. When I think back to the most fearful moments in my life, I realize I was afraid due to my inability to control the situation. I was afraid of what might happen because I had absolutely no idea what the outcome would be. In those moments, nothing was guaranteed. But what we must realize as biblically brave people is that we aren’t in control. God is. That can be both scary and encouraging.

It can seem scary because we know that God‘s plan for us may be entirely different than the plan we have for ourselves. What we think will make us happy and what we think we need could be totally different from what the Lord knows is best for us. It’s encouraging because I know I’m not perfect. I know my flesh will fail. I will at some point mess up. I won’t always achieve everything I set out to do. Despite my best efforts I am not good enough.

The wonderful news is we aren’t good enough and that we don’t have to be good enough.

Trust in the Lord

And Isaiah chapter 7 Isaiah is sent to King Ahaz as a messenger, during the time Ahaz was king of Judah. Syria and Israel had a waged war against Judah. This was because Ahaz, and his father who was king before him, would not join the two nations in a pact against Assyria. Ahaz was understandably frightened by the large armies. So the Lord sent Isaiah to Ahaz. He wanted to reassure the king there was no need to be afraid. If Ahaz trusted in the Lord, He would defeat his enemies!

The Lord offered Ahaz a sign. This beautiful sign also serves as a reminder for us today. 

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Isaiah 7:14

Immanuel means God with us. What a wondrous thing to hear! 

Sadly, Ahaz did not listen. He didn’t put his trust in the Lord just as the Lord had wanted him to do. He instead looked at his own inability and came to the conclusion that the nation of Judah depended entirely upon him.

Being biblically brave doesn’t just mean that we’re ready to face the danger that lies ahead. We must be ready and willing to face whatever the Lord lays before us by placing our full trust in Him and do so in His name.

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

Take the time to journal out your thoughts of the following questions:

1) In what areas of life are you least willing to hand over to the Lord and trust Him with fully?

2)Why do you find this to be a struggle?

3)In what way(s) do you think you can deepen your trust in the Lord?

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”

Philippians 1:12-14

Kal-le is a wife and mama living in beautiful West Virginia. She has a passion for worshipping Jesus, sharing God’s truth with others, and writing about her own personal sin struggles. Kal-le serves her family full-time at home where she aims to glorify God in the everyday moments of life. You can follow her on Instagram @mama__schrader.

Community in Colossians

Friendship with Christ Changes Every Other Friendship.

As I walk through Colossae’s marketplace, I hear the familiar “Wool for sale! Dyed with genuine local chalk!” called out to passersby. I need some wool, but I won’t be buying anything today; It’s the Lord’s day, and I’m on my way to meet with my new brothers and sisters. 

My city is a shell of its former self in its heyday. The elders loved to recall the days when Colossae was a very prominent city. Unfortunately, repeated destruction from earthquakes was too much to recover from. 

I picked up my pace thinking of what would be happening in the house church today. A renowned leader known as the Apostle Paul had written to our family. Word spread that Epaphras had made the trek all the way to Rome to meet with him!

Rounding a corner, I arrive at my destination. The room is dimly lit and stuffy. The strange collection of people present is truly a cultural marvel. I’m still not used to it.

Despite our differences, we all have one vital friend in common: The Risen Christ. 

Tychicus arrived with the letter from Paul. None here had met him yet, so it was understood that this message must be important if he took the time to craft the document. Yet many were skeptical . I leaned in, eager to learn more about Jesus and the new family He created which revolutionized our lives.

Tychicus gestured as if conducting the room; the chatter dissipated. Drawing a breath, he began to read.

Friendship with Christ creates one new Body

”Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae.” (1:1,2)

It didn’t take very long for Paul’s letter to get radical. I remember the first time I heard Epaphras (1:7) teach. I balked at hearing Roman citizens refer to Jews as their brothers and sisters! Though I am but a slave with little honor to call my own, any connection with a Jew would have brought shame to my family. But since my master hosted Epaphras and his meetings, I was exposed to the teachings of Christ. As creator (1:16) and Lord of all, Christ has the authority to make a new Body (1:18); a new group of people.

Observing the room, I saw proof of this radical shift: Slaves who own little more than the clothes on their back, and masters who once thrived on taking advantage of them. Women previouslyseen at the cult temple (3:5), and men once known for lies and deceit (3:9). Some are Greek, others zealous Jews (3:11). 

As a slave, it took some time getting used to eating at the same table as the master of the house (4:1); to look him in the eyes and see a smile rather than condescension. But now we are friends and most wouldn’t believe it until they saw it with their own eyes.

Friendship with Christ creates peace

I listened in awe as Tychicus eloquently presented an exalted image of our resurrected Lord.

“20 …and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, ” (Colossians 1:20,21).

Before I heard and understood the gospel (1:5,6), peace was far from me. My mind was full of aggression, and all my actions revealed it. This was my old self (3:10). The daily snubs from my master infuriated me. Then I learned about the Christ and His death. He took on my shame to give me His honor! He did this so we, his enemies, could have His peace in our hearts (3:15). Incredible! I know its true because I see how His power has changed all who He brings into His family.

Friendship with Christ creates New Life

“ 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.” (Colossians 2:13) 

When the Christ made the cosmos (1;16) He made life out of the darkness, flourishing from emptiness. Now He has done the same to me! My many trespasses were proof of the fact that I was truly dead. Yet God has brought me to life! Just as Christ was raised, so am I. I was born into one family, and born again into a family full of people whom I’d have never spoken to as my old self. Now I am truly alive. Praise be to God.

“I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.” (Colossians 4:18)

Silence. That was a lot for us to take in all at once. Now for my favourite part. After receiving teachings, we discuss them. Then plan for how to put off the old and put on the new (3:9b,10).

Friends point out lies

“ 4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments… 8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2: 4,8) 

We knew almost immediately what Paul had been referring to when he spoke of these deceitful philosophies. We were already wary of those who were hoping to keep the Law and add Christ to it. Paul clearly showed us these were not benign teachings. We all agreed we were thankful for his insights. We need to steer clear of these ideologies—Ideologies which minimized the greatness of our Lord.

Friends show us how to elevate Christ

“19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” (Colossians 2:19)

Others shared they had taken flak for expressing skepticism: “Is it really necessary to keep all the Jewish festivals?”(2:16). They were thankful to learn that they were right to uphold that Christ had fulfilled all those rites; they all pointed to Him (3:17)! Slipping away from putting our Lord in His proper place leads us away from God and from bearing fruit (1:6,10).

Friends teach each other

“16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).

We laughed together as we realized that this is what we were doing in this meeting! Paul taught us and we are teaching each other. I wouldn’t understand nearly as much if I tried to dwell on Christ’s words on my own. There’s no way I could be able to overcome my immoral past without my new family giving me a kick in the tunic when I start thinking like my old self again (3:5,9). Its not easy when Someone enters your life and turns every single area on its head. I’m friends with the master I used to happily slander!

When it seemed like everyone had shared their thoughts on Paul’s letter, we thought it would be a great opportunity to sing about our Saviour. Having been strongly reminded of His supremacy over everything, our hearts were overflowing with joy. 

I say goodbye to my new brothers and sisters and head through the streets back to my home. The wool peddlers have long since closed shop for the day, and the market is still. As I walk, I find myself humming a bar from the song in Paul’s letter. “And through Him to reconcile to himself all things” (1:20). Life is not easy as a Christ-follower, but I know that I’m not in it alone; we are knit together in love, and as one body, we will grow together (2:2,19; 3:14).

Letting Go + Letting God Restore-Callie

I recently read a book about the power of friendship and it ended up having a romantic theme show up at the end. The two characters, who were friends, decided near the conclusion that they had feelings for each other all along. But in my
own life – as I am sure in yours – only one of my friendships happened to end up that way.
I ended up marrying him. Romance is simply not the reality of what most friendships look like.
On the other end of the spectrum, we see examples of friendships that are labeled as “toxic.” We see
this in books, TV shows, and even music.

If we are constantly fed messages about how we will either fall in love with our friend or end up betrayed and hurt, how are we supposed to navigate these relationships?

I had a friendship in college where this struggle played out. At the start of our friendship
things were easy. We told each other everything, spent all of our time together, and while we
had our struggles we were always able to work through them. A few years in, that changed.
We had more and more issues rather than enjoying one another’s company. She began to bond with other
people and I felt replaced. We started arguing more and spending more time apart. Everything was a passive
aggressive dance, but we never talked about it. Both of our guards were up and we defined one another as “toxic”
without even batting an eye. I don’t even remember to this day what started it all. I just know
that when things had reached their boiling point, I made the decision to cut her off completely.
I ignored texts, phone calls, messages for months. I gave no explanations. I just called it done. And in
that season that followed I learned one of the biggest lessons about friendship. I learned about
the power of letting go.

I regret how I handled this situation with my friend. The “cut and run” method is
never very effective in these types of situations and it led to a lot of heart ache on both
accounts. Looking back, I now realize that we should have had a conversation about how to move forward. Although I needed to let her go at that time in my life, I did not go about it the right way. Regardless, we both had some growing to do and we needed to do it apart.

Walking away from someone is not automatically a bad thing – sometimes it’s the
healthy thing. I was so stuck in a pattern of constantly looking at what she had done wrong that I
could not truly reconcile in a healthy way yet. I couldn’t look in the mirror and realize I was also to
blame. It took time, reflection, and separation for me to realize I was just as guilty. I had some individual growth to do with God.
All friendships go through seasons and we need to recognize that. There are always opportunities to start over again, but I had to learn how to let go of the toxic label.

In Proverbs 17:9 it says – “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a
matter separates close friends” (ESV)
. The issue in my friendship wasn’t that we both kept
making mistakes, though thats what we believed at the time. Mistakes are a reality for every single
relationship we will ever experience here on earth. We make mistakes constantly and sometimes even repeat the same
offenses again. We are sinners. No matter how hard we try it’s going to happen. We have the refreshing grace of Jesus to fall into.
The real issue was the laundry list of offenses we had against each other. It seeped into
everything. We had tunnel vision of hurt and pain. I no longer saw her as a friend, but instead approached her as a warning label. Just like it says in Proverbs: If we cover the offense it shows love and if we don’t, it leads to brutal separation. I labeled her as
toxic, dangerous, harmful without giving it a second thought. It took time to peel those labels off and let it go.

I needed to forgive and ask for forgiveness.

Through that simple act God restored something that was broken.

It didn’t look anything like it did before. It had changed for the better. We grew and our expectations of each other changed. We now are able to celebrate life with each other and reach out when there’s time to catch up, without viewing one another as radioactive.

The story that matters here is that God peeled those toxic labels off of both of us. He gave us a new outlook on each other. Taking that space to grow and allow Him to do the work of restoration was the best decision we could have ever made.

Now I approach friendships differently because I understand that there is no hurt that He cannot cover with grace.

It takes time, it takes work, and it takes a willingness to trust who God is first and let Him be the one to define your friends. His label is the only label that really matters in the end.

Callie is in love with Jesus, married to her best friend, and a fur mama. She currently lives in Indiana. She has always loved written work because it allows her to portray thoughts in a way she can’t in person. She is excited to come on this journey with you and would love to chat or grab a cup of coffee! You can follow her on Facebook @Callie Kemmerer or Instagram @calicaaat.

Comparison Isn’t Always the Thief of Joy

Guest Writer: Kal-le Schrader

Theodore Roosevelt once famously said “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

I often agree with old Teddy and his thoughts about how comparison can have a negative impact on our lives. It can cause us to grumble and complain instead of sing and praise. It can cause us to ask “Why not, Lord?” instead of simply saying, “If it is your will, Lord.” 

I must also acknowledge that not all comparison is bad. Comparison can sometimes be a good thing or even something that draws us closer to God.

My earlier posts in this series have been discussing comparison and how women specifically struggle with it. To summarize: comparison began when Adam and Eve lived in the garden of Eden. Eve compared what she DID NOT HAVE with the one thing she SHOULD NOT HAVE: the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 

While we know the consequences of Eve’s self gratification and glorification, it’s also important to back up a bit and pause on another moment of comparison.

Eve’s act of comparison and interaction with the serpent contributed to the result of the falling of man. However, this isn’t the only occurence of comparison involving Adam and Eve in Genesis.

God saw that Adam was in need of a helpmate and He created Eve. Adam, seeing this new creation, began to compare Eve to himself. I imagine he also compared himself with all the animals God brought before him, but this time was different.

“Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ ” (Genesis 2:23)

Adam looked at Eve and compared her to himself. He saw that she was the same but also different. He was inspired.

In Genesis we have two different situations with two different outcomes, but both were fueled by comparison. Comparison, just like many other things the Lord has given us, can be used a tool to draw us closer to God and glorify Him.

Abigail Dodds was a guest on the Journey Women Podcast with Hunter Beless in August of 2019. Abigail spoke on the topic of comparison. (I found this episode incredibly helpful so I highly recommend checking it out) Here are two quotes that stuck with me from this interview:

“Without comparing and contrasting, we lose touch with reality. Without comparing and contrasting, we can’t properly acquaint ourselves with the world that God has made. Comparing and contrasting is how we come to learn that we aren’t God.”

“Comparison is how we acquaint ourselves not with just a law giver, but with the law itself. It shows us how we fall short. It is how we show loop that we can’t measure up to God standards. The realization that we can’t measure up is a pathway that leads to the green pastures of grace.”

Abigail is saying two things here:

 1) When we compare ourselves in a biblical way, we realize that we are not God. This world has a way of making us feel as if we are so incredibly important. We can get caught up in the sea of self affirmation and self boasting. We can easily fall into the habit of feeling as if we need more, despite the blessings overflowing from our cups. However, biblical comparison grounds us and humbles us. It reminds us that we are the created and not the creator. It affirms that we are made special because we are children of God, not because of looks, money, or status.

2) Comparison is how we see that we don’t measure up and that even though we are unworthy, we still receive God’s good grace. We are fallen. We are all sinners, unable to keep God’s perfect law. Yet, the Lord offers us grace.


How do we biblically compare ourselves to others and use comparison in a positive way? 

To start, we must first ask who we are comparing ourselves to.

Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of a servant seeking God. He never once compared himself to his brothers or friends. He never said, “If only I was as good looking as Peter or as smart as John.” 

In 2 Corinthians 10:12-13, Paul discusses how some try to prove their goodness by comparing themselves with others rather than comparing themselves by the standards of God: “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you.”

By comparing ourselves to others around us, we can sometimes achieve a false sense of holiness or goodness. However, God’s standards are never failing and always relevant. We can’t wiggle our way around them or twist them until they fit how we want to live. We either meet those standards or we don’t. They are the standards that truly matter in the end. 

Jesus knew the standards given to man by God. He used God’s word to shape his life and his conduct. He didn’t model himself after anyone from this world because He knew that everyone else had failed and sinned. It’s easy to forget we are all sinners and no one is perfect except for Jesus Himself.

Jesus is the example we should first and foremost strive to be. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t look to other women here on earth as good examples. 

In Galatians 6:4-5, Paul reminds us that we should pay attention to our own work and what we accomplish instead of looking at what others are doing: “But let each one rest his own work, and then his reason to boast will be himself alone and nor his neighbor. For each will have to bead his own load.”

Paul is saying that when we do our very best, we tend to feel good.

Imagined that you baked a new pie recipe. You tried your absolute best, did all you needed to do, and it came out well! You would be happy right? I know I would be!

But what would happen if I hopped on Facebook only to see my friend from church cooked a big, delicious looking dinner for her family AND a great dessert. I would more than likely feel defeated. I would forget about the wonderful thing I had just done and instead focus on what I didn’t do.

If I’m being honest, I may also feel envious towards my friend and maybe even jealous.

Paul is telling us that we should all focus on our own work that God has set before us because we all have work to do. Whether you are a mom, a wife, a college student, a grandma, a teacher, or a retail worker- you have a specific calling of work before you.

Paul isn’t saying to look at the woman next to you and do exactly as she is doing. He’s saying that we all have our own responsibilities and we all have specific things the Lord lays before us each day. 

We must remember that more then likely our friends are also struggling with comparison. They may look at your home and family and feel like a failure. They may see the pie you baked and think they didn’t spend enough time on dessert. They too will begin to see their work as not enough or good enough. 

So instead of looking at your friend and feeling down about yourself, give her some kind words and praise! Acknowledge the hard work she did for her family. Then, pray to God and thank Him for your friend and her heart of service.

There are a few women in particular who I compare myself to in a way that I find encouraging. These women are either older and have already walked through the season of life I’m walking through or they are right there walking along with me.

I try to establish a criteria of sorts when comparing myself to other women: they must be a believer in Christ wholeheartedly striving to live out the word. As my pastor often says, “Your talk talks and your walk talks. But your walk talks louder than your talk talks.” It’s a little saying that makes me smile even as I write these words, but they are also so convicting! My pastor is saying that our actions speak louder than words. So it doesn’t matter if the woman I see online says she’s chasing after God if it is obvious she truly isn’t living that out. 

So look at your sisters in Christ and be thankful for the gifts God gave them! Maybe your friend is an excellent cook who would be willing to give you a few lessons. Maybe that other friend who has more kids than you and manages to show up to church on time can give you some helpful advice. Maybe you and your friends can simply encourage one another in your day to day life! 

Comparison can be a tool used to break down our hearts, but it can also be a tool to build us up and into something better. We are the ones who choose how and when to use it.

Dear heavenly father I come to you now in prayer just asking you once more to help us as women be at peace with who we are. Help us to look at our circumstances and what we have and be content. Lord but also know that life is hard, life is messy, and sometimes we will feel the need to compare. I pray that the next time we are tempted to look at a sister in Christ and feel jealousy towards her that we would instead be filled with thankfulness for the gifts you’ve been stowed upon her. I pray that we as women we would cherish one another and encourage one another. Lord help us to learn from one another. But ultimately I pray that we would look to Jesus first. He is the example of what we should strive to be Lord. Jesus is the perfect and blameless lamb. So I pray that we would always ask ourselves first if what we are doing is what Jesus would do the Lord and how we can not better ourselves for our own self, but to better ourselves for your glory. Please be with us as we go about this week in Jesus name we pray Amen.”

A Love Story Wake-Up Call

By Callie Kemmerer (Guest Writer)

At the majority of the weddings I have been to they read from 1 Corinthians 13. it is even used in popular television shows and movies. You may remember it from “The Office” when Jim and Pam have this passage read at their wedding. This is a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t watched it, but in the later season when they reconcile after a rough patch in their marriage this scripture is read in the background. Regardless of the context, 1 Corinthians 13 is usually looked at as the outline of true, committed love. In verses 4-8 it says:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV

It seems to represent everything that every marriage is supposed to be: a beautiful promise to love one another well. Three years ago when I was planning my own wedding this scripture was playing on repeat in my head. We fought hard to get this day through long distance. The perfectionist tendencies in me knew that this day had to be perfect. Being honest, Parts of the day were perfect, while other parts were a complete mess. I didn’t sleep the night before, I barely ate all day, my husband ironed his dress shirt with a hair straightener, and I spent a good chunk of my reception in the basement of the church having gotten my period by surprise. It was definitely not how I would have planned my wedding day ending. So how does all of this tie into the words of 1 Corinthians?

Here are three things I learned about the reality of this passage during the messiest parts of my wedding day:

  1. Love Doesn’t Fit An Expectation
    I believed the lie that if I don’t love in the way this scripture outlines, I have somehow failed. The day of my wedding when things happened out of my control, I was so disappointed in myself. I had expectations about the day and I couldn’t snap my fingers and make those messy parts disappear. I do remember crying and feeling sick and lonely when my husband of only three hours came downstairs and sat with me. He kept telling me it was going to be okay and that the expectations didn’t matter. He told me he just wanted to be with me, even if that meant watching Grey’s Anatomy, eating ice cream, and falling asleep way too early. In verse 5 it says: “It does not insist on its own way, “which is exactly how I felt that day. I put pressure on myself to turn the day into something it was never meant to be: perfect.
  2. Love Is Messy
    When we try to love one another, romantically or not, we are never going to do it right all the time. Even though my husband showed me amazing examples of love that day, he also messed up. One of the most frustrating parts of the day was finding out that he forgot to get his dress clothes dry cleaned and his best man’s wife was ironing his shirt with an extra hair straightener. Sure, we can laugh about this now, but in that moment we could not. The sleep deprived, hungry, “I just spent 6 months planning this wedding and you just had to show up dressed” bride was far from amused. The reality of the passage in 1 Corinthians is that you and I are never going to be able to achieve it. We are human beings filled to the brim with messy sin. We can read passages like 1 Corinthians 13 and convince ourselves that we can live outside of the mess. Let me settle that debate for you right now: we can’t We can try our hardest and the good news is that we don’t have to try alone. God carries us and through Him alone we find strength to love deeply.
  3. Love Is Who God Is
    After being married for only a short time, it is safe to say that I have a lot left to learn about love. In reality, though, there are no perfect answers or formulas for figuring it all out. One thing I have learned is that 1 Corinthians 13 might not be talking about us after all. There is a way to truly experience this incredible love and what it feels like right where we are. This passage isn’t simply just giving us a guideline that we constantly fall short of, but it’s telling us how deeply God loves us and how He does it.
    When I was in middle school one Valentine’s Day we were told that if we couldn’t change the word “love” in this passage to the person we were going to marry, than they weren’t the right person. This was simply not true teaching. I held on to that highly false method for years before I realized that “love” didn’t need to be replaced by anything. Scripture tells us time and time again that God Himself is love. So instead of feeling pressure to achieve the impossible in this verse, let it wash over you. Let Him engulf you in His patient, kind, not envious, not resentful, truthful, willing-to- endure kind of love. He is reaching out and ready to pour that love over you wherever you are at. That is what perfect love is. You were made to experience it with the Father.

Callie is in love with Jesus, married to her best friend, and a fur mama. She currently lives in Indiana. She has always loved written work because it allows her to portray thoughts in a way she can’t in person. She is excited to come on this journey with you and would love to chat or grab a cup of coffee! You can follow her on Facebook @Callie Kemmerer or Instagram @calicaaat.