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October/November/December 2017

Hello!! I am so excited that you are visiting our website and reading  a magazine designed with the sole purpose of honoring Yahweh (God) and encouraging our fellow man! Many months have gone into prayer and ‘listening’ as we invited Holy Spirit to have His way with us and each one of our contributors. I pray that you are as blessed by reading these stories as I have been.

Today, you and I  are living in a world thriving on lust and greed, each, being unapologetically force fed to us through the internet, television and radio.

As followers of Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ) most of us look for encouragement and uplifting news, but looking doesn’t always mean finding.

That modern day fact, along with our local Christian bookstores closing up shop delivered us to this time and place where Yahweh (God) birthed this thought into action. Southern Faith Magazine.

It is our charge to share The Good News of The Gospel and encourage our readers. We want you to experience the joy of uplifting life stories found in the pages of Southern Faith Magazine; stories of  faithful Followers of Yeshua, living in our own communities, as well as communities in the North, West, East, Midwest and around the globe. It is our goal to deliver to you, truth, as it is written in Scripture and allow you to share in the lives of fellow members of The Body of Christ  who are walking out their faith each and every day by the telling of their journies.

What you will read in the pages of this magazine are true life experiences, written by the men and women who lived them. You will find that some stories are allowing you to share in the continued journey of the writer. Some articles may be fictional, but will leave you encouraged. Some articles may be written in such a way that you find yourself using it as a devotional, alongside your normal Bible reading time.

I pray that you are blessed by this work of Yahweh. And I encourage you to share Southern Faith Magazine with your loved ones if you find yourself blessed by the content.

Shalom & may Yahweh shine His face upon you!!

Kelly Sallee-Stackenwalt

"Happy is the one who has not walked in the advice of the wicked,
nor stood in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the seat of scoffers.
But his delight is in the Torah of Adonai,
and on His Torah he meditates day and night.
He will be like a planted tree over streams of water,
producing its fruit during its season.
Its leaf never droops—
    but in all he does, he succeeds."

Psalm 1:1-3

Making Time For Your Marriage Together Is A Beautiful Place To Be

Carving out quality time with our husbands can be a challenge. Whether you have children or not, busy jobs or 9-5's, or other various obligations there still seems to always be something that pulls us away from spending time with our man.

There can be a thousand different things fighting for our attention; jobs, kids, family, that never-ending to-do list. Though there are certain things that we haaaaave to get done, spending time with our man should be somewhere at the top of our priority list. The relationship we have with our husband is the most important human relationship we will have, so taking care of this relationship should be of utmost importance. How do we make it happen with all of these other responsibilities pulling us in every-which way?

Be Intentional

Though planning trips and vacations are great things to do with our husband, spending quality time together does not have to be a big to-do. When you have difficulty finding several hours to set aside for just the two of you, we have to get creative. Creative as in how you spend time together, and in how you view "quality time." As long as you and your man are enjoying each other's company, it's quality time. Expensive dinners and fancy dresses are not a requirement.

Often my husband and I are busy with housework and home projects on Saturdays. One of our favorite things to do is go get ice cream together. It may not be a full-on date, but we make a thing of it. We hop in the truck, let the dog ride with his head out the window, and enjoy the country scenery while listening to some country music on the way there. The whole trip may only be 30 minutes, but it sometimes is the best 30 minutes out of my day because I get to spend it with him.

With my husband's ever-changing work schedule, I often do not know if he will be home for dinner or not. Sometimes we just kind of scrounge-around for whatever is in the house. Because of this, I have found cooking for him to be a special way for me to show my love. When I know we will be together for supper I make an effort to cook something special. For a special touch I will pick up an inexpensive bouquet of flowers, and even put a candle on the table. We actually sit down at the same time and enjoy a meal together. Dinner doesn't have to be fancy, as long as it’s made with love! Use your talents, whether cooking or otherwise, to show your husband your love for him.

Give Your Man What He Needs

It is common in relationships to think about all of our own needs, and figure out ways to be sure they are met. I know I am guilty of this at times myself. To nurture a close relationship with your husband, don't forget that he has needs too. And I'm not just talking about the physical ones, though those are important! Every man has different ways in which he feels loved, so we must make sure we are providing the type of love he thrives on.

If you haven't read Gary Chapman's "The 5 Love Languages" I would highly recommend it as it can give you great insight on how to best show love to your spouse specifically. Some men feel most loved through positive affirmation. Verbalizing how much you appreciate them, admire them, or find them attractive are some of the ways to make this type of man feel loved. Other men may find that acts of service are how they feel most loved. Ask your man, "what can I do to help you today?" and then do that. It's that simple. And yes, some men feel most loved by physical touch. This is not exclusive to rolling around in the hay. Simple things such as patting their shoulder when you walk by him, brushing your hand against his, or scratching his back for a few seconds even is enough to show him affection throughout the day. Do some digging and find the ways in which your man feels most loved, and then provide that for him.

Nurture It And Watch It Grow

When we take care of our marriages properly, we will see them grow and thrive. Take time to show your man how much you love him in whatever way he feels most loved. Find everyday moments to create quality time together. A little intentional effort every day can make a world of difference. Last, and most importantly, pray over your marriage. God knows exactly what our marriages need, even better than we know. Communicating to Him your desires and concerns will better help you understand what to do to nurture a thriving marriage. You will begin to see how you and your man grow closer to each other, become more in-tune with each other's needs, and experience growing intimacy. Be intentional. Make a moment today with your husband to draw nearer to him, and see how your intentional acts of love help your marriage thrive. Don't be too proud ladies, let's take care of our men!


           The Abuser; Exposing His Tactics of Abuse and Manipulation

I am convinced that intimidation is Satan’s weapon of choice. Like any abuser he likes to isolate us with his lies that even say his abuse is our fault. He loves to keep us blind to the fact that he is abusing us, making us think we are just beating ourselves up, but make no mistake…the abuse is real and serves to cause us great emotional pain and separation from God. I used to go to bed at night with my mind racing with thoughts of all of my failures and shortcomings. This was clearly not of God and the thoughts came unbidden. I would lay there feeling weak and defeated and honestly flat out tormented.
I can see now that Satan was bombarding my mind with his abuse, yet when I was walking through the torment I never could see that the voice in my mind that I thought was simply my own thoughts was the abusive voice of an outside tormentor, Satan.  

As I was researching mental abuse, it became glaringly obvious to me that an abuser uses fear as a powerful tool for his manipulation and control.  The fear of rejection is a powerful force in the lives of us all.  Most of us have no idea that we have been subjected to abuse….many of us for our entire lives, because we are only thinking about abuse in terms of a physical nature inflicted by a person.  Satan’s abuse lies more hidden.
What follows are some common tactics of abusers.  I hope that as you are reading this you can spot any mental abuse of the enemy in your own life or the life of someone you love.

Common Tactics of Abusers

Verbal Assaults:
Do you find your mind bombarded with accusations against yourself that are hitting your mind so loud that they drown out all other positive thoughts?  Do you feel like you are calling yourself names and tearing yourself down?

Threats or Blackmail:
“One can threaten to disclose private or sensitive information about you.”  The threats of an abuser can make you feel hopelessly and helplessly trapped.  Satan loves to make us feel great fear over the possibility of all of the faults and failures he is bombarding our minds with being exposed to the world around us and to God.  His goal is to keep us hiding in shame and therefore trapped in his prison of torment.  While I was lying in bed at night trying to go to sleep, suddenly all the failures of my day would start playing through my mind.  Sometimes this would spiral into failure after failure hitting my mind, but I would have no relief because I would feel so ashamed that I wouldn’t take the failures to my Heavenly Father.
While Satan desires for us to view God as cold, aloof and distant – even harsh and uncaring – that is not the true nature of God. Just as I, a parent, want my children to love me for who I am, so our Heavenly Father longs for that kind of relationship with us. Yes, He is mighty but His voice is a still small voice that requires our drawing close to Him to hear it. He is strong but He is loving and gentle and oh so patient and forgiving.  
We need not fear Satan’s threats or blackmail because God knows the good, the bad and the ugly and loves us unconditionally!


The abuser takes over aspects of your life that you would normally have the freedom to control yourself.  One that stood out to me was diet.  With so many struggling with eating disorders, compulsive behavior, anxiety etc., it is clear how Satan loves to use control as a tactic for abusing us.  I’ve seen many fall prey to his tactics in this area.  When he is using control on us we may find that we feel a compulsive desire to control as well because we feel so out of control.  The more we attempt to hold onto control, the more we step out of the rest and peace that God offers us and become puppets to Satan’s controlling us.


Do you find “yourself” ridiculing yourself in your mind?  Do you have humiliating thoughts bombarding you?   If so realize that Satan is trying to use this abusive tactic to torment you.

Unfair Demands:

Satan loves to try to make us feel that we need to fulfill needs that aren’t ours to fulfill.  Do you feel a sense that everything that goes wrong around you is your fault?  When things go wrong in the lives of your family and friends do you feel a sense of responsibility for that?  Do you feel that if you would have somehow done something differently that there would have been a different outcome?  When you read these questions you can see how unreasonable it is to feel this way, yet how many of us have struggled with these thoughts and feelings?
Isolation: In order to be successful in the abuse an abuser must keep us isolated from those who could help us. Satan loves to insert emotional wedges between us and God as well as us and other believers who are equipped to walk us into freedom.
Here is a very revealing statement from an abuse survivor.
“The isolation and domestic abuse crept up on me silently. I did not make choices knowing my husband abused me. I thought I was making up my own mind. I see my controller’s manipulations only in hindsight.”
Abusers seek out who they can dominate and control.  Here are some observations from an abuse victim.
Abusers seek out the weakness of the victim.  Satan preyed on my fears and insecurities as well as the past pain and suffering I had endured as a child.  The fear of rejection was huge for me so he tormented me with pointing out all my failures and perceived flaws.
Abusers dictate who we can trust. Satan’s goal is to convey the message that you cannot trust God. Even the things I did in obedience to God got twisted because of the pervading sense that I was not enough for God…I must try to earn His approval. I was worn out and exhausted because no matter what I was doing that was “for the kingdom” never felt like enough.

Abusers Feign Dislike. Satan is more subtle. He likes to cause us to think we are disliking ourselves.  He likes to cause us to think that God dislikes us.
Abusers Physically Intimidate Others. Satan loves us to fear him and loves to try to make us live in fear of what he can do to those we love. We must be mindful of when he is making us feel this way and tell him to back off. Our help comes from the Lord and we need not fear Satan when we can cry out to God for our deliverance and the deliverance of those we love.
Abusers Achieve a Type of Physical Isolation. Are you struggling with anxiety, perhaps not wanting to leave your house? Are you missing out on things you enjoy doing because you are crippled by fear? Do you find yourselves not wanting to come around other believers or staying away from church?  Do you feel tired and unmotivated and just don’t feel like making the effort to get around those who could help you?
Is it self-harm or abuse from Satan?  In my mind it doesn’t matter.  It needs to stop and we need God’s help to make it happen.
No one likes to be humiliated, ridiculed, intimidated and rejected.  As we find ourselves “doing these things to ourselves”, we must recognize that this is abuse and we need to be set free from it.  We must recognize that we are in bondage to the enemy in these areas and cry out to God for our deliverance.  An abuser loves to keep a victim isolated from those who could help them.  He loves to use shame and fear to keep them under his control.  He loves to make the victim think that they are the one to blame for their abuse.  

Step Out of the Isolation
What can we do about isolation and Satan’s abuse?  We can refuse to be isolated!  Now that we know his tactics we can choose to seek help and escape his abuse.
We can choose to be free!
Just as abuse victims often need the help of those around them to escape the abuse and heal from the trauma of the abuse, so do we as we escape Satan’s abuse.  It is so important that we not forsake the fellowship with other believers and we must confess what we are struggling with. Once we expose to the light what Satan has attempted to manipulate us into keeping hidden, our rescue can and will come!  If we cry out to God to be saved, He is faithful to hear our cry.
Don’t remain isolated in your torment. My turning point was when I cried out to God and then reached out for help to those in my church who could walk me forward in healing from the abuse of the enemy of our souls!  Repentance in area after area of my life has been a powerful weapon against my adversary. As I have repented in areas where I was bound by fear – areas I was not trusting God to be stronger than myself and other forces in my life – what Satan tried to use to control me has become powerless!  Cry out for God to deliver you from the torment of his abuse and reach out to strong believers who can walk with you through inner healing! Jesus died to heal the sick and to set the captives free!  No longer do we have to be held captive to the fear and abuse of a tormentor!
Please take the time to pray and ask Holy Spirit to reveal any areas of torment in your life.  Also, please study the scriptures below and the Word of God as much as possible. God is there. He sees our suffering, He cares and is faithful to hear our cries.

Our Prayer
Father God, thank you that you sent your son Jesus to heal us of all sickness – physical, emotional and spiritual.  Thank you that Jesus came to set us free from everything that holds us captive. Lord, we pray that you would expose the lies of the abuser of our souls, Satan and that you would break all chains of shame, fear, intimidation and pride that would hold us captive.  Show us the roots where the accuser gained access into our lives. We repent of our pride and fear and cry out to you to pull us up out of the pits that have us imprisoned.
Bring us out of darkness into your glorious light and let everything that the enemy would say we must keep hidden in shame be confidently brought before you in repentance and healing. Thank you for exposing the lies we have believed and shining your light of truth into our lives so that we can walk forward in your freedom. We love you God. Forgive us for thinking that there would be anything you would not forgive. Forgive us for doubting the magnitude of your love and healing power.  Renew our minds Lord.  Amen.


Verses for Meditation
Revelation 12:10-11
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
11 They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
Romans 8:1
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
2 Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:2
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Galatians 5:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Matthew 25:14-30
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Sweet and Spicy Corn and Bean Salad is flavorful, colorful, and easy to prepare! While its multiple textures and tastes delight your senses, a flood of nutrients satisfies your body. And it’s a complete protein, to boot!


 Makes 8 cups


  • 1 can 15.5 oz. black beans
  • 1 can 15.5 oz. black-eyed peas
  • 1/2 cup Celery
  • 1/2 Green bell pepper, large
  • 1/2 cup Parsley, fresh
  • 1/2 Red bell pepper, large
  • 1/2 cup Sweet onion

Baking & Spices

  • 1/4 cup Avocado oil
  • 1/8 tsp Cayenne ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Rounded finely ground sea salt

Oils & Vinegars

  • 2 tbsp Apple cider vinegar


  • 2 tbsp Coconut nectar


  • 1 can 15 oz.. or frozen whole kernel sweet corn (if canned be sure it does not contain sugar)

Recipe from 

Jana, a recipe developer, food photographer/stylist, wine enthusiast and healthy foodie. I recreate traditional recipes to make them gluten-free, refined sugar-free, plant-based, bursting with nutrients and, of course, delicious! Check out her About page for more information and to see where these yummy recipes have been featured!

                Happy New Year: New Year, New You 

It’s common that many are anxiously waiting to write a list of New Year’s resolutions. Many long to see this day, because somewhere in between not fulfilling the last to do list; we feel that the New Year will somehow be different. We’ll change the way we’ve always done things. We’ll join that gym, drop the baggage from our past, or even take a much-needed vacation. So many personal goals are set to improve our quality of life. But what happened during the year that caused you not to fulfill the new you – the improved you?

Did you give up in the process because you didn’t see the results as quickly as you desired? Was it that you had no one to hold you accountable for the list that you created? Maybe, you looked at the list and decided you have all the time in the world to change.

I challenge you to stop waiting until the New Year to be the best version of you. Please tell me… Who told you, you should wait until the New Year to improve? This is a trick of the enemy. You are sitting and wasting time. Time, you can never get back. Time that isn’t yours to waste. You can't turn back the hands of time. Time doesn’t stop for you. It stops for no one. Why are you wasting time waiting for the date on the calendar to change to become the best version of you?

Matthew 24:36 "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. [NIV]

Take heed to this scripture. That no one knows the day or hour that God will return for his children. Use your time wisely. Stop waiting to change based on a calendar. Change because you realize that God has given you the power to do great things in the earth. That He has called you to be a Game Changer, an inspiration to the next generation. You can’t be a change agent - waiting on change, you must be the change.  

Get up right now and start living for a purpose. Rise from that place of complacency and dare to be different. Let today be a new chapter that you begin to write in your book.

Millions of questions run through your mind daily. But you have yet to find the answers because you haven’t gone to seek the answers. There are questions you have been waiting to be answered, but you must be willing to put your foot to pavement and get busy in this new chapter of your life. Embrace what you discover by loving the knowledge that you’re gaining on the journey.

This new chapter is a time to self-reflect— discover who you are now and who you want to become in the future. You don’t have to wait until Jan. 1st to transform into the person who God has called you to be. Stop wasting your talents by being stagnant in a season you should be busy growing.

Grab your journal and head to a local park and I dare you to dream beyond what you could imagine. Write and dream. Dream and write. As you dream, believe everything you are writing will come to pass in this new chapter of your life. This is your season of grace and favor! I hear the Lord saying, "Tell my people to get busy doing the work of the Lord." God is returning soon, and He wants us to be ready before He calls us home. Happy New Year! Remember the New Year starts TODAY.


"Find good friends."

This is what my dear friend said to me as she shared her recent experiences. "Find friends that have your best interest at heart, that will do you no harm, that you can trust. You don't need many, but if you have one good friend, you are blessed." She was practically choked up as she said those words and as we spoke with each other I knew exactly what she meant. Having completed a major move, she had to rely on her friends more than she anticipated but they came through for her.
Real friends, true friends, good friends will do that for you. Perhaps she thought her needs and requests were burdensome, but the friends in her life didn't see it as such. They stepped up to help carry the load,
Good friendships stand the test of time; there are shared memories that are hard to walk away from because of a perceived slight or a real hurt. Because sometimes friends do hurt each other, but not intentionally. If it's intentional, question that friendship. Sometimes in our well-meaningness, we may say or do things that aren't received in the manner we anticipated. My friend explained that she has said things to her friend and the friend would say, "you know you need to apologize to me for what you said." She'd apologize as she never meant to hurt her friend, but she still needed to speak her truth and have her friend receive it. Sometimes truth convicts and hurts - so the apology maybe for the expression but not for the truth. Good friends are able to be truthful with one another but due to closeness, the painfulness of the truth may hurt more. Iron sharpens iron; this is not an entirely pleasant process but a profitable one for both.
Good friends give each other space but they also know when to step in.
Good friendships don't feel draining but rather are refreshing with no fear of judgment.
Good friends nurture each other spiritually, physically and emotionally.
Good friends regularly check on each other.
Good friends really get to know each other through shared life experiences.
Good friends don't try to connect with each other, they just do.
Good friends are people of integrity.
Good friends have unbreakable bonds.

We see vivid examples of friendship in the Bible - David and Jonathan  (1 Samuel 18:1-3) whose souls were knit to each other. There are aspects of friendship in the relationship between Moses and Aaron - brothers who were there for each other (Exodus 17:11-12).  An unlikely friendship occurred between Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17), a daughter and mother-in-law. Friendships surprise us and come in all shapes and forms; we never know where a friendship will take us.

I recall Drew and Rob from college. Drew and Rob were good friends in college and have remained so with their bond getting tighter over time. Drew suffered a major health crisis in recent years and Rob was there for him as he spent a significant amount of time with his friend as he recovered. I can hear the love in Drew's voice as he talked about Rob. I think as a culture we are surprised by deep friendships between men, but it happens. It's a given that women will have friends, but gender alone doesn't determine the quality of our friendships.
A friend is one of the masterpieces created by God.  A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature - Ralph Waldo Emerson. We all have the opportunity of being masterpieces by being good friends.

Can two walk together, except they are agreed? Amos 3:3

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.  Proverbs 27:17

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.  Proverbs 18:24

Be a good friend and find good friends. Are you a good friend?


Nylse (a pseudonym) is a Christian wife, mother of four - three of which are college graduates, sister, a technology consultant who loves life, fashion, shoes, running and inspiring others. She usually has a lot to say so her blog is a means of expressing some of those thoughts. Nylse currently resides in Los Angeles, California with her husband and two of her four children. She blogs over at LifeNotesEncouragement and can be found online at Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

                             Are you insured?

                                  Psalms 118:8 "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man."

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and its catastrophic damage, an article came out discussing how a MILLION cars were destroyed in Texas as a result. That's a lot of insurance claims!

It reminded me of when we first arrived in Israel about fourteen years ago, my wife was almost eight months pregnant. We wanted to have everything concerning the birth worked out ahead of time because we knew we'd have so many other things to think about once we got here. So we made certain to pay for our Israeli health insurance coverage even before we arrived, just to be sure we would have no problems.
But something inconceivable happened -- the Israeli government went on strike before our payment information was entered into their records. When we tried to get prenatal care and sign up at the hospital, they had no record of our payment and thus, no way to help us (unless, of course, we were willing to pay an obscene amount of money, money we didn't have). Little did we know that the strike would continue on for four months!
To make a long story short, our baby was born on the kitchen floor of our little Jerusalem apartment. I can honestly say it was one of the most terrifying, yet profound experiences of our lives.
But this got me thinking about insurance. Why do we buy insurance? So that we can be insured that we will get the help or care we need, should we ever need it, right? SURE! Well, we even paid in advance to have that assurance, and we didn't get it when our time of need came!

We are living in crazy times. Times where anything goes -- and anything can happen. And there is really only one insurance company that has been found truly faithful to help us in our time of need through it all. No, it's not Red Cross, or Blue Cross... It's THE Cross! What's more, this insurance doesn't cost us a thing! You'd think more people would jump on this deal, wouldn't you? Yeshua (Jesus) already paid for it with His hard-earned blood sweat and tears, on the cross two thousand years ago.
Let's take the time today to spread this heavenly insurance available for FREE -- in this day and age ... people need it!

Your family in the Lord with much agape love,
George, Baht Rivka, Elianna & Obadiah
Arad, Israel

                      "Sunday Service"    

 Long ago, the congregation sang along as the choir sang Amazing Grace. While they waited for service to begin, they longed for the Word which was meant for them.  

Many families had passed through these doors over years. I could only imagine the messages that were brought from the pulpit and the lives which were cleaned and made new again here in this old place. I had heard there was not much left of the church. It was no longer open as a place of worship.

Vandals had come and with hate in their hearts and strength in their hands, they destroyed everything that they could. This is what the enemy does with his idle hands.

What stood before and all that remained is only a structure though and what lives in a person's heart cannot be broken beyond repair. I’m so glad to know He meets us where are.  It comforts me so. Searching and wanting to see what was abandoned, I found the building just like I expected.  I had heard the windows were broken out and knew I could see graves of lost loved ones just outside. Oddly enough, there were a few pots of faded silk flowers here and there- saying you have not been forgotten.

The floor was torn up and the lights were knocked out. When I arrived though expecting to photograph the damage, I found this visitor there still waiting for Sunday Service. His memories of the place he loved could not be destroyed.  

Written By Wanda Warren Green  

Photograph taken by Wanda Warren Green Blue Springs Church- Blue Springs, AL

Here's a super healthy option for an all time backyard favorite!!

These No Crumble BBQ Black Bean Burgers are gluten free!

Topped with avocado, they're the perfect, crave-able vegan burger that won’t fall apart! Leftovers can be frozen for a quick lunch.



∙ Makes 8 patties


  • 1 Avocado, Fresh
  • 2 15oz. cans Black beans, low sodium
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Handful Cilantro, fresh
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 Red onion

Canned Goods

  • 4 tbsp Tomato paste


  • 1 Bbq sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp Vegan worcestershire sauce

Pasta & Grains

  • 1/2 cup Quinoa, cooked

Baking & Spices

  • 1 All-seasons salt
  • 1/4 tsp Chili powder
  • 1/2 cup Gluten-free oat flour
  • 1/4 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika, smoked
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Topping

Nuts & Seeds

  • 1/2 tsp Cumin

  • Visit the website below for more healthy recipes!

The Mommy Call

One mom’s journey to keep God first and her sanity intact!

By: Jenny Zentz

So here we are again! Racing quickly to the beginning of yet another new year. 2018! Seems like only yesterday we were partying like it was 1999!

How are you feeling about things? Personally, this time of year always reminds of our move to Florida in late 2014. When the holiday season arrived we were wading through boxes yet to be unpacked and loads of construction yet to be finished. In times like these it is easy to have moments of feeling overwhelmed and behind.

Do you ever feel like your life is jam packed, and there's not even room for you? Like say for instance, you're driving a Toyota Highlander with two car seats and two children, and you've just bought three chairs, a table, two lampshades, a five drawer storage bin, and several other miscellaneous items. As you start loading it up, you begin to realize (along with the disgruntled stock boy), this may not work! You move. You push. You shove. You are determined that, “Yes, you can!” You are super mom. You will make this work!

Does life ever feel like that Highlander? A little too small for what you have in mind? If you find yourself feeling like life is too crowded, with no way to twist, no way to turn and nowhere to put your feet, just do what my kids did. Stick a lampshade on your head, and laugh about it!

It never ceases to amaze me how much I can learn from these kiddos. Yes, there's a lot to do, and the fact is, there will always be a lot to do. But God did not give us a spirit of fear or of frustration. He has given us a spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind! (2 Timothy 1:7) He has told us that laughter is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22), that He fills our hearts with singing (Psalm 126:2), and that His joy is our strength! (Nehemiah 8:10) His power is made perfect in our weakness! (2 Corinthians 12:9)

So take time to chill out. Thank God for all the blessings you have. Ask Him for the strength to do whatever you have to do every day, because we know we can do anything and everything He calls us to do because Christ gives us the strength. (Philippians 4:13) And then, when you're all out of ideas, just put a lampshade on your head and laugh!

Read more from Jenny on her blog

Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @TheMommyCall

                             Corn and Cotton

Last fall, I was completely captured by the gorgeous cotton fields in my small Alabama hometown. I think that only in Alabama can you find cotton growing in the middle of neighborhoods! We had a very dry spell last fall, so these fields were just bursting forth with fluffy cotton...or Southern snow as we call it here in Alabama!

By the end of October, all of the cotton had been gleaned from the fields and it looked like a plague of grasshoppers had struck. There was no cotton, no bushes, not even any sticks left. The fields were completely stripped and stayed that way all winter. It was a little sad.

Once spring came, the owners of the fields were out there hard at work planting again. This time, they were planting corn. We had an unusually large amount of rain in May and June, so the corn started to grow high and full....very full. Like I do not think you could even walk through the fields it was so thick!

Are you wondering what my point is? Lol, I'm coming to it!

I have drove by these corn fields many time over the summer, but not until about a month ago did it occur to me that these corn fields are the same fields that will be yielding cotton this fall.

I was a little surprised at how a field could just switch gears so quickly. Corn out and cotton in! However, the land adjusts well and never misses a beat. Both crops are very successful and plentiful.

What about in your life? How quickly would you be willing to jump from one thing to another?

One of my favorite sections in Scripture is Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. These are the verses that start off with the well known sentence," For everything there is a season...."

There are seasons in our lives for everything. Seasons - meaning that they are only mean to be with us for a time and then we move on to the next one. Just like the corn and the cotton.

Friend, are you where the Lord has called you to be? At the job that God has called you to do? Serving in the ministry that God has called you to serve in? Or are you simply staying in that spot because it is familiar to you and moving on to something else is terrifying?

If that is you, you are not the only one. I have been there in so many areas of my life and I'm still there in other areas. It is so easy to either get comfortable in our current state or to be paralyzed by fear change.

If you are struggling with taking that leap of faith into where God is leading, let me encourage you that there is no greater place to be than in the Lord's will. He knows how capable you are with His help. Believe in Him and yourself. Just because you started out in the corn does not mean you have to stay there for the rest of your life. God may have a whole new cotton adventure for you right around the corner!

Recently, I heard a pastor say the most deep and scary thing. He said he does not want to walk through the gates of Heaven one day and see what God had planned for his life if he had only been trusting, faithful and willing to obey. That'll make you stop and think!

 Friend, you are capable of so much more than you think you are. How do I know that? You have been made in the image of God and the same power that lives in you raised Jesus from the dead.

"But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." Romans 8:11

As 2017 quickly draws to a close, I would like to challenge both of us to be a willing field. Let's grow our corn or cotton or pumpkins or daisies or whatever God has planned for us. All we have to do is be willing and obedient. He will take care of the rest!

So what is God calling you to do or to change up in your life? His plans for you are huge. Do not miss out on them by holding back. Grab your cotton seeds and start spreading them around!


We came upon a Gem Mining shop and thought it might be fun to go in and have our two young grandsons try their luck at finding some hidden gems. They listened intently to the store owner explain the steps needed in order to find some possible treasure. First the boys were instructed to each grab a small hand shovel along with a metal bucket that was filled with dirt. Next they took their buckets to an area where the shop keeper kept some hand held sifters.

                                                    Hidden Gems 

                                                                         by Rosie Williams

Last summer our family took a trip to the eastern part of Tennessee as part of our vacation. We stayed in a peaceful cabin nestled high in the Great Smoky Mountains in Pigeon Forge. Like most families traveling with small children, we tried to take in as many interesting sights as possible during our stay. One morning we decided to spend the day exploring the nearby town of Gatlinburg. We walked the streets for hours visiting multiple shops and stores taking in all we could in our exploration of that quaint southern town.

 Our younger grandson who was three years of age at the time, picked up what looked like nothing more than a rock. It was gray, rough and quite unimpressive compared to some of the other stones in his pan. He asked his older brother if he wanted what he said was “just a plain old rock.” Big brother looked it over and then decided to keep it and add it to his ever growing rock collection at home. He would soon find out that his decision was a very good one. It was now time for the final step.The boys brought their collections over to another table where the owner sat waiting with some tools in hand. The owner had been working with stones and involved with mining for almost forty years. His well trained eyes could easily spot a stone that was valuable. First he began to examine the stones from our three- year-old grandson’s collection. Carefully he studied them one by one. He found some lovely pieces but most of them were various types of quartz. Even though they were pretty, they did not offer much in value. Nevertheless, our younger grandson was pleased with his pan of treasures. 

Their parents showed them how to carefully scoop the dirt out of the bucket and into the sifter. They would then submerge the sifter into water and slowly shake the mesh bottom container back and forth until all that remained were rocks or stones of all shapes, colors, textures and sizes. The cleaned stones and rocks then went into a metal collection pan that resembled a round cake pan. Then the process of scooping, separating and washing was repeated over and over until the dirt bucket was empty. Finally, the boys had their collection of potential treasure clean and ready for the final and very important step.Something interesting happened during the process of searching for hidden gems. When the boys had finished sifting through the soil and had gleaned all they could from the dirt, they were studying the stones and rocks inside of their collection pans.

God was in search of another man to replace Saul. He sent Samuel, a prophet, to meet with a man named Jesse in Bethlehem. Jesse had a number of sons and God told Samuel that he was to go and anoint the one who would succeed Saul as king. When Samuel arrived in Bethlehem, he first encountered Eliab, one of Jesse’s sons. He looked at the man and because of his pleasing appearance Samuel assumed that this son would be the one he would anoint as a future king. The Lord corrected Samuel with the following statement: “Do not consider his appearance or his height for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV) The story goes on to tell us that one by one, seven of Jesse’s sons went before Samuel to be anointed as the next king. Each time God told Samuel that not a one of those sons would be chosen by the Lord to take the throne. Finally, Samuel asked Jesse if he had any other sons. Jesse replied that he had one more son who was the youngest and that he was working in the fields looking after sheep. David was then summoned and brought before Samuel. God confirmed to Samuel that David was his chosen one and Samuel anointed David with oil as the next king of Israel.

David…the youngest of the group.

David…the one who spent his days tending sheep.

David…the least likely to become a king in Jesse’s eyes.

David…God’s chosen one!

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not-to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Cor 1:27-29 NIV)

Next it was the eight-year-old grandson’s turn to have his collection studied. Again the store owner picked up and studied each stone carefully. He explained that the variety of stones were appealing to the eye but like his brother’s collection the stones were of no great monetary value. Then the man picked up the rock that my grandson decided might be worth keeping even though it was not appealing to the untrained eye. The man held the rock and slowly turned it over and over in his hand. He looked at our older grandson and asked him why he had chosen to keep the plain gray rock. Our grandson went on to explain that his little brother was just going to throw it away and so he decided to keep it instead. The man smiled and told him he had made a wise choice in his decision to not discard the rock. He then went on to explain that things are not always what they seem and you cannot always tell the value of something by what the outside looks like. He then revealed the truth that was hidden on the inside of the unimpressive rock. He told our grandsons that it would take some time and some work but there was a refining process that the rock could be put through. Once the process was complete and the hard mineral layers were removed, underneath deep inside they would fine a stone of value. He explained that hidden inside of this particular rock was a precious fire red RUBY! Needless to say both boys were very impressed and excited to know about the hidden gem inside of that plain old rock.

Now my friend, let me ask you a question because you know I have a Nugget to share in all this. As you read the end of the story and found out that the rock was carrying a hidden gem, what thoughts came to your mind? I will tell you what came to my mind. It was a part of a Bible verse which says: “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV)

There is an amazing story in 1 Samuel 16:1-13, which portrays the secret of a beautiful hidden gem. I would encourage you to read it sometime. The summary of this story is basically this. A man named Saul ruled the people of Israel as their king. Unfortunately, Saul became disobedient and God was greatly displeased with him.

Look again at the last photo above. In the forefront you will see a number of rings with various stones set into them. They are a thing of beauty no doubt. But every one of these precious gems were once hidden in layers of hard rock. They could have easily been discarded but someone took the time to look at them more closely. Someone saw potential within them. Someone took them through the process of refining them to bring them to a place where they would be proudly displayed for their value and worth.

Like these gems that have been fashioned into valuable pieces of jewelry, your time to shine will come! Let me tell you a secret in case you did not know this.

David did not walk into the palace and assume his kingship the day Samuel anointed him with oil!

I absolutely love this verse. It inspires me and gives me hope. I will be the first to raise my hand to being foolish, weak and feeling lowly at times. BUT GOD! Only he can take the very things that make me unpolished and find a hidden gem within me no matter how deep it may be buried. He does not toss me out because I am rough around the edges and may not appeal to the world’s standards. He takes me through the refining process because he knows in the end there is something beautiful and precious inside of me that he wants to use to bless others. The good news is he will do the same for anyone. He will do the same for YOU!

I have another question for you. Do you feel like David at times?

Perhaps you feel as though you have been set aside to “tend sheep”

 while others do more important things.

Maybe like that hard gray rock, you feel as though you are not appealing enough

on the outside to have others see your real worth which is hidden so deep you feel

that no one will ever appreciate it. Well my friend, listen to me now.

You are not rejected. You are accepted.

You are not worthless. You are priceless.

You are not overlooked. God sees you.

The young shepherd went back to the field to tend his sheep! David still had so much to learn. Before God would allow David to watch over and lead the people of Israel, David needed to prove that he could watch over and lead his flock of sheep. David had to go through a refining process just like that unimpressive gray stone that was found by my grandson. Yes, there was a beautiful treasure, a hidden gem within David, but it would take time and a process to have it be revealed. It was in this refining process that David became what God himself described as “a man after God’s own heart.” (Acts 13:22 NIV)

Right now I can promise you this. Regardless of any imperfect circumstances in your life that have kept you hidden, there is another “Someone” who sees beyond your situation. Your Heavenly Father formed you and fashioned you. His plans for you are good. Whatever others see or fail to see within you, your worth has never been overlooked by God.

God is Love and love always sees beyond what is and into what can be.

Let this truth set you free from the lie that your imperfections are what define you. His eye is on the sparrow and his eye is on you. He has a plan for your future. You were made in his image and he makes no mistakes.

Now my friend, get ready. You may have felt hidden for some time now in a heap of dirt but that is about to change. God’s mighty hand is reaching for you and he is about to sift through some things and polish you up. He is the Master of the treasure hunt. He knows a hidden gem when he finds one and he just found you!

From my heart to yours,


Mexican Vegan Meatloaf!  Chili, cumin, beans, corn–all of the flavors an enchilada would offer are reunited in this gluten-free and vegan meatloaf!  A tasty plant-based twist on a traditional dish!

Another healthy twist on a household favorite from visit the link and find some familiar dishes made healthy!

Serves 9


  • 1 can Black beans
  • 1/4 tsp Chipotle, powder
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro, fresh
  • 3/4 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup Onion
  • 1 tsp Oregano, dried
  • 1/2 cup Red bell pepper
  • 1 can White beans


  • 1/3 cup Salsa plus more

Baking & Spices

  • 1 pinch Black pepper, finely ground
  • 1 1/3 tbsp Chili powder
  • 1 cup Cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp Golden flax seed meal
  • 1/4 tsp Sea salt, finely ground
  • 1 Seasoning

Nuts & Seeds

  • 1 tsp Cumin


  • 2/3 cup Cheese plus more, vegan

    • 1) Combine flax seed meal and water, mix well and set aside.
    • 2) Combine all seven seasonings in a small bowl and set aside.
    • 3) Finely chop onion, red pepper and cilantro and set aside in a bowl. Use a food processor to chop the onion and pepper (no need to wash FP, you will use it a few more times). I recommend chopping the cilantro with a knife. Place 2/3 cup shredded vegan cheese (I used half cheddar and half mozzarella) in food processor and pulse until pieces are about 1/4 inch (see picture in post). Cheese can alternatively be chopped with a knife.
    • 4) Drain both cans of beans and pour half of each can in food processor. Pulse until only very small pieces remain. Add remaining beans from each can to pulsed beans and pulse until the largest pieces are about 1/4 inch (see picture in post). Use potato masher to break down beans if not using a food processor.
    • 5) Place bean mixture in a large mixing bowl, gently mixing in 1/3 cup salsa then spice mixture with a spatula. Seasoning should be mixed until evenly distributed. Add onion, pepper, cilantro and flax egg mixing well. Add in vegan cheese and cornmeal mixing well. If mixture seems too wet add an additional small amount of cornmeal. If too dry add a small additional amount of salsa.
    • 6) Once blended, form into a loaf and transfer to a parchment lined 8 1/2 inch by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. When transferring to loaf pan loaf will be soft but able to hold its form. Press firmly into loaf pan, pushing into corners and flattening top.
    • 7) Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 to 50 minutes. Inserted toothpick should come out clean and top of loaf should be firm. Place on a cooling rack for 15 minutes then remove loaf from pan by lifting parchment paper and allow to cool and additional 15 minutes. After cooling, loaf will cut into about nine one-inch wide slices.
    • Serving Suggestion I recommend topping each slice with a spoonful of salsa and some vegan cheese (perhaps a little cilantro or parsley too).

"Answer me when I call,
God of my righteousness!
You set me free when I am in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.
O sons of men, how long will you turn my glory into my shame?
How long will you love worthlessness and pursue falsehood?  Selah

But know that Adonai has set apart the godly for His own.
Adonai will hear when I call to Him.
Tremble, but do not sin!
Search your heart while on your bed, and be silent.  Selah

Offer righteous sacrifices
and put your trust in Adonai.

Many are asking, “Who will show us some good?”
May the light of Your face shine upon us, Adonai!
You have put joy in my heart—
more joy than when their grain and new wine overflow.
I will lie down and sleep in shalom.
For You alone, Adonai, make me live securely."

                                      Psalm 4:2-9

You Can’t Have a God That Only Blessings and Free Will - They are Incompatible!

Having a God, that only gives and protects you from everything bad or painful is not possible in a world with free will. This is an error that many who only want blessings without change are blind to. These prosperity preachers are not in the truth of God, they are only wanting what they want, they are not walking in the full truth of God. They want a God that only gives, no discipline, no pruning, no growth, no abiding in Him. And because so many people today would like the same thing they fall prey to believing what they want and turning a blind eye to everything they don’t want.

There is a book series that I read called, “The Park Service Trilogy” where all of humanity was forced to live underground because the surface of the earth was uninhabitable, or so they were told. As you can imagine they had an issue with a growing population. Perfect fix, everyone was privileged with retirement at the age of 35. They left the underground and moved into a true pure utopia, it was amazing and beautiful, they knew exactly how lucky they were to move forward. They had been easily brainwashed because it was what they wanted. The one and only problem was leaving your family, no worries, they would be with you soon enough. Of course that is not the true story, what really happened…. they cut out your brain and tossed your body, they thought that they were keeping the brains alive and thus each person would create their perfect utopia from their beliefs. The world view is often very similar in this belief, name it and claim it…. I have heard that people believe that if I believe in a God and a heaven then when I die I will have a God and heaven, but for those that believe there is nothing after death there will be nothing. WHAT?

There is truth and for those who turn their backs there will be judgment. God is not the big scary judge in the sky waiting and wanting to condemn you, He is also not a God who only showers you with blessings. He is a Father God, who not only gives in abundance, He also trains us and grows us and disciplines us. The growing part is often very hard, I think this is where our human nature tries to create a god that is gentler, simpler, the kind of god that only gives. However, think of this in terms of parenting. What if parents only gave and never asked anything from their children, never taught them right from wrong? What kind of adults would that create? There are some of these in the world, they have no respect, or consideration for anyone, they are selfish, entitled, foolish, and wicked. The truth is that we need to grow, as hard as it may be. I remember in my early preteen years, seeing the harshness, cruelty, the evil in the world and in many people (a lot of the evil comes from selfish, greedy people). At one point, I remember thinking it would just be better to go back and put my blinders on. Ignorance is bliss, but living a lie won’t change the truth.

Now, how is a prosperity only god and free will incompatible? Well for one thing we live in a world with a lot of disease, decay, death, and evil. How is it that a prosperity only god is going to keep you from that? What happens when your friend is raped, how does your prosperity god fit into that? He can’t give a rapist free will while blessing and protecting everyone else. It happens, every person who lives, who has ever lived, has a choice in how they will live their lives, and many are hurt by the choices of others. Many chose to prey on the weak and poor, rob, steal and kill.

 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” 1 Peter 5:8

My name is Debra Curto, I am a child of God, wife, mother of 2, and new a Christian blogger. I am a Budget Analyst, I love photography, reading and crocheting. My hope is to share my testimony and the insights God gives me and to bless others as we grow in Christ.

            L-O-V-E is a Four-Letter Word

L-O-V-E….that four-letter word that we all crave.  We seek it earnestly, we look for it (sometimes in all the wrong places), and we dream about it in our slumber.  We love our spouses, we love our children, and we love our extended families.  There is love in our hearts for our friends, our church family, and even for the complete stranger.  

But what do we really know about love?  Have we truly investigated love to its greatest depths and highest heights?  Do we honestly grasp the enormity of the truest of loves….the love the Father has for us, His children?  Do we have any concept of a love so great that He would sacrifice his son in a merciless, excruciating death, simply out of love for mankind and the desire for us to receive His grace?  Is it even possible for us, in our human form, to love the way He loves us?

It is my belief that we will never really understand the all-encompassing love our Father has for us, at least not on this side of eternity.  But we can live our lives in awe and honor of that love.  We can utilize the days we are given to share our bits and pieces with those around us.  It is the greatest commandment that we are given from God….to love.


“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  (Mark 12:30)

When you think about this verse, are you living up to its command?  Are you 100% in love with God?  

Does your heart cry out for Him?  

Is your mind stayed on Him?  

In what ways do you struggle in keeping God a priority in your life?

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  (John 14:15)

Now, that’s a tough one! While it may be easy to keep some commandments, such as not killing, stealing, or committing adultery, what about the way we treat others?  

What about coveting?  Do you fix your mind on what others have instead of what God has for you?

What about lying?  Do those "little white lies” catch up with you sometimes?  

Do you treat your parents with honor and respect?  

Do you strive to help a neighbor in need?


“A new commandment I give you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.” (John 13:34)

That is a tall order!  Note the words "just as I have loved you”.  This means we aren't supposed to offer up some type of half-hearted “love” towards fellow man.  We are called to love others in the same capacity as God loves us.  That means wholeheartedly, full of compassion, overflowing with grace, and without conditions.  

Are you capable of that?  

“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

Because Jesus loves us so much, because of his love so deep that his own life was given for ours, and because we are created in his image, we ARE capable of unconditional love.  It is often said that children learn what they live.  The same holds true for us.  When we live a life filled with the love of Jesus, we learn to love in that capacity.  We learn about sacrificial love.  We discover what it means to be totally invested with our hearts and souls.  It is that kind of love that we are to pass on to others.  It is that level of investment that we should be making in fellow man.  

Is it easy for you to love others or do you struggle with loving those outside your box, or those that draw you out of your comfort zone?

Do you find yourself being judgemental towards others, especially those who are different from you?  

These are some excellent scriptures on love and some purposeful questions to ask ourselves in order to determine where our hearts are.  Are we living like Jesus?  Are we even close?

Perhaps the greatest scripture on love is to be found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:“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 wrong doings but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, love endures all things,How is your patience these days?

How often do you find yourself being arrogant or rude to those around you?  

Do you get resentful when others are blessed?

Do you chuckle inside when someone else gets caught doing something wrong?

Do you celebrate the achievements of others and join them in their victories?  

Do you love TO the trials or THROUGH the trials?

Do you have the PROMISE of love in your life?


                                                                      Stop Trying So Hard

I sat in the closet, crying into a pillow and hoping the family wouldn’t hear me.  Another day of blowing it as a mom, maybe as the worst mom ever, was in the books. My passion for my husband was weak.  My Bible was literally collecting dust. Homeschooling and health problems were making every day a challenge. And availability to be a good friend and neighbor?  Ugh. I just felt like every ball had tumbled from my hands and scattered over the floor. I was convinced I would never measure up.

Oh, how much time we invest in telling ourselves we are not good enough. Berating our desperate efforts and breathing despair in with huge, sobbing gulps.

This, my friends, is a waste of our lives. And furthermore? It simply isn’t true.

We are doing so much more than we know! Our world is a better place because we are in it. I understand the pain of feeling like a failure. You might be here right now, in the proverbial closet, feeling alone in your struggle. Questioning your value. But it is time to turn that around. To not spend another day in defeat. It is possible to change this view point!

Let me share 3 ways that God tells us we don’t need to try so hard:

Zephaniah 3:17-18 (The Living Bible) "For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will give you victory. He will rejoice over you with great gladness; he will love you and not accuse you.” Is that a joyous choir I hear? No, it is the Lord himself exulting over you in happy song.   This is such good news! We KNOW God sees all of our actions and understands the motives of our hearts. Even on our worst day, He rejoices over us with gladness! We can continually remind ourselves that God loves us and will not accuse us.

2 Corinthians 12:9a (ESV) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” This should be a huge relief for us! Because we understand weakness, and now we need to purpose to truly understand grace. God is for us.

 And lastly, Mathew 11:28-30   “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Don’t we all need a real rest? One that isn’t forced or draining, and that restores our spirit? I know I do, and likely, you do as well.

Please, wipe those tears. Let His face shine upon you, and determine to let go of any perceived flops as a mom or wife or friend or employee. We don’t have to do enough, because God IS enough. And in that, so are we.

Christa Sterken

                The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

                                               A quarterly look at the resolutions of Pastor Jonathan Edwards


The sermons and writings of Jonathan Edwards helped to shape the course of Protestant theology before, during, and after The Great Awakening of 1740-1742.

Born October 5, 1703, Jonathan Edwards studied divinity at Yale College before taking the pulpit in Northampton, Massachusetts. His sermons and writings embraced the idea of free will, along with a firm confidence in God's righteousness. During the fiery Great Awakening, Edwards became a lightening rod for a movement that became a widespread religious revival.

“Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake."

                                               Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not hinder.

12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

14. Resolved, never to do any thing out of revenge.

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings.

16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

17. Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

18. Resolved, to live so, at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.

19. Resolved, never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance, in eating and drinking.

21. Resolved, never to do any thing, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think anyway the more meanly of him.

                                      The Hardest Story To Tell: Mine

The “food” was always mashed up. There were about four of us to a crib.

The helpless crying baby would cry for the love she needed, but no one would come. She’d cry and hope, cry and hope, cry and hope until there were no more tears to shed. Left alone.


But something inside her told her to keep hoping and keep crying, someone

will hear you. Years she cried and hoped for her life. The hope never died. When the special someone finally came, her crying then turned into screaming. She wanted so badly to love them back, but how could she if she never knew what love was. Hatred toward people burned in the little girl’s heart. What happened in her first three years marked her heart in ways only God could change. The love her parents showed her was so foreign and yet so addicting. As she grew older fear of losing them grew more each day. She was falling in love. Then they told her about who Love is, how He brought her to them, how he died for her sins and how He loves her. She believed and loves Him back. That day she accepted Christ to be the boss of her life.

The little girl is me.

I’m alive and shouldn’t be at least that’s what the world says.

It would’ve made the most sense, that is why they call me a survivor.

My first three years of abandonment are only explained by a miracle. What you just read was only a glimpse of what I went through. As I mentioned I hated people and was locked out from reality. I felt like the world was moving around me waiting to be touched and I was in glass. The only emotion I felt for years was fear. Fear of being hit again, left again, and unwanted. But when I asked Christ to be the boss of my life I became alive. I would “run” the best I could with my hurt little legs, sing, love, and be fearless because He is living me in. There were times I have forgotten my first love, Christ (The Scariest Road), but like in the orphanage He hears my cry and calls me His.

Romans 8:15 “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Babies were placed on bread trays and stacked racks. We would rock ourselves for self soothing, and look at our hands because it was the only thing to look at.

Some ask how  could I believe in God after what I went through. My answer is this. I believe there’s a hell. I’ve only tasted it in just three years. Mean people are the result of sin and so badly the Devil wants to rob me from the truth of knowing God and who He is and how He loves us. The Devil thrives off of abuse and will do anything to pull us away from God. Why? Because God is love, joy and enough.

 by Mihaela Echols

                           Come Sit At His Feet

In this fast paced world we live in our, ‘to-do’ lists are ever growing and many of the  to-do’s are left undone.

I’m going to tell you that many of our lists need to be tossed  away! If we take a hard, honest look at our lists, I will guess that most of  us will find a very ‘worldly’ list. A list filled with cares of this world  and very little to do with the cares of the One that we say we serve. Yeshua said, “come to Me all who are weary and I will give you rest.”

Do you “come” to Him when you are weary from the rush of attempting to finish your list?

Do you “come” to Him when your mind is drowning in the voices calling you here and there, asking you to fill this void or need?

Do you “come” to Him when your heart is worn and sometimes torn from the demands of the world that you’ve allowed to invade your peace?

Yeshua desires for His flock to come to Him when He calls, and He is calling. He said that His flock knows His voice and we shall come.

Can you hear His voice over the screams of the list that lays in front of you?

He wants you to lay that list aside, come sit at His feet and just be. When your time with Him is finished for this moment, my guess is that your  to-do list will have worries removed and purposeful pursuits of Him added.



Life in Tanzania


As I sit in front of the laptop, asking God which of my many stories to share with believers, I pick up the Bible and my hands go to 2 Timothy 3:16. Surely God’s Word is the best gift He has ever given us as a family. On what can I stand if it’s not God’s word? I am nothing without Him.

God called my parents many years ago, as singles and as a married couple. We 4 kids, grew up on the mission field. Looking back, those were the best and also sometimes very difficult times. I learned to trust in God in every aspect of my life. He became real and I saw Him in every aspect of my life. I will share some of my first memories with you.

Dad and Mom had met in YWAM, then South West Africa and now, Namibia and feeling that God had called that together on lives journey, they got married in faith and started their married life on the missionary field. The only way they could serve in the remote parts of Namibia, was to serve in government positions that not many people wanted to do. Their first year, they were teachers and boarding parents to a school in Brandveld. Mom became pregnant with me there. Cant blame mom (being a nurse and midwife) not wanting to have her first baby in such a remote area, after the only doctor there, a military doctor, told mom she had a tumor. I was born in South Africa and soon afterwards, they went back to an even further place called Sesfontein. This is where my first memories were made.

Fear:  We stayed in a government house. Little did my parents know that the previous government official had a run through with the local tribe’s witchcraft? The Ovahimba people in the area have something that they call a holy fire. This is a fire that is slightly out of the kraal/boma and is kept burning at all times and never is allowed to die. This fire is to be kept burning for the ancestors and the road directly to the kraal/boma and fire is never to be crossed. The previous government official used to mock their beliefs and drove purposefully across their ancestor’s holy fire’s path. Even though this G.O. mocked and laughed at the Ovahima’s superstition, we later learned, he could never sleep at home because of the most horrible dreams. As a little girl, I had the most horrible, realistic nightmares in our house in Sesfontien. There was no electricity in that area, so imagine a small girl waking up with terror, trying to scream and no sound coming out and the terror of “feeling” evil around you? We didn’t grow up watching TV and certainly nothing much to feed our imagination but the images in my dreams were so evil and real. I would wake up every night and cry and scream when I finally found my voice.

Dad would always pray with me and the bad dreams would go. There was one particular dream where a big black bear would chase me and try and kill me. One night dad, being very tired from working in the heat of 45’C + and looking after me at night (mom was taking care of my baby sister), told me that if the bear would ever chase me again, I should just call on Jesus name and that Jesus would help me. Dad slept well for the first time in nights that day, and asked me what happened at night. The bear had appeared again, I told dad, but this time I shouted to Jesus to help me and in my dream He came and chased the bear away. That was one of my first memories of Jesus being very real and my Saviour in a small, but big thing in a 3 year old’s heart.

Shortcuts leading to faith:

 Kortpad or Shortcuts.  A sunken feeling started to sink into my 5 year old heart and some of my first memories came to the surface. I loved driving with dad on the dusty roads of Northern Namibia and this was a way that I could spend time with him while he did his job as an agricultural Officer in Sesfontein. In the ‘80’s the roads there were quite remote and bad. Dad’s government car was one of three vehicles in 300km. Many times his government car would serve as an ambulance to the nearest town with a drip flapping from the rails of the pick-up and a dust trail could be seen for many kilometers.

Soon after moving to Sesfontein where dad got a job as an agricultural officer or rather ‘undercover tent making position’ to support our small family and get an open door to minister to people dad and mom decided to explore the area. Since we were 300km from the nearest town and one of three cars in the whole area, Nature Conservation popped by our house and had told my parents that the Hoanib River was flowing. Namibia has no running rivers, just seasonal rivers, so when it rains kilometers away, water runs down to dry areas in rainy season. This specific day, parents being new and all to the area, they got a vague direction over the hills to find the river. Off we went for a short Sunday drive to see the only river run. The white Land Rover made good time and soon the parents were at the place Nature Conservation. told them the river would be….except there was no river.

The white Landy took to the river bed as it was the only” road “. Wondering the parents, continued down the river. In the distance, they saw a cloud of dust and wondering if it was another car (there were only 3 cars in the radius of 300km).

After a while, mom said that she heard from old Suidwesters that you first see dust and then water in Namibia. They had reached a place in the river where the dry river ran between two hills. Dad realized that there was no way out as both sides of the riverbed had cliffs and to reverse was too slow. Dad pushed down on the gas as far as it would go and chased against the oncoming river to get out between the cliffs. Through the thick river bed sand we sped as fast as we could and at the last moment dad swung the steering to the left with the Land Rover flying out past the cliffs. The oncoming river rushed by and hit the Land Rover on the back, spinning it slightly, but we were safe on dry land. Mom had been praying the whole time and sighed a prayer of thanks to the Lord.

The Land Rovers back wheels were under water and with the speed and urgency to get out of the river, the Land Rover had gone over a shrub. One branch was stuck in the gearbox. The parents decided to wait it out and see how soon the river would go down. Night time was falling and with it the cold of the dessert. The river was still running and as the parents didn’t take much water for our “quick outing”, Cherise, and I started crying from thirst and cold. Mom took off her petticoat and tried to purify the mud water for us to drink. There was no way of making a fire, so she would put the “filtered water” in the bottle and we would wait for the dusty mud to settle. I still can remember nearly choking on the dusty water. Dad tried to make the best out of it, by telling me it was chocolate milk. It was a sore disappointment. The dust film would cling to my pellet and even though it was wet water, I would choke.

The dessert really gets cold at night and since the parents didn’t bring sweaters or blankets (it was boiling hot during the day), dad took out the big road maps he loved carrying around and made us lie down on the ground with the maps over us. He tried to make it interesting and I still remember thinking it odd to have a map as a blanket. Somewhere during the night, mom and dad work us up and told us we were going to walk for help. I remember walking in the dark with the stars shinning bright. I was old enough to walk and for long ways, I would walk, while holding dad’s hand, while he carried Cherise. Mom was pregnant with Davin, but would also take turns to carry Cherise. Dad also carried me and sometimes he would carry both Cherise and me; Cherise on his neck and me on his back when I was too tired to walk.

We climbed hills and dad followed the stars. There were hills close to us, and dad thought of taking us over them. We headed in that direction, but came to a halt when the hill ended on a cliff. We trudged down and in the moonlight, and I remember wanting feeling frustrated and tired. Soon after trudging down the hill, dad found the Land Rover tracks in the moonlight. Praise God for that cliff. It was our salvation. If we would have gone over the hills, we would have been lost and dead. Later, dad heard from the local people that many people from their own tribe would get lost and never be found in those hills. Those hills were also Namibia’s protection from terrorist entering from Angola. Dad even collected a tribal man’s bones from those hills that were discovered by another person that got lost there, but thankfully made it out to report the remains. We would have died, if God didn’t bring us to that cliff and made us turn around.

We continued to follow the stars and Land Rover tracks and soon the dawn broke. I remember walking through a dried up water pan. I wondered why the earth was cracked. To my child eyes, they looked like puzzle pieces. Dad explained that there was water that had dried up and that the mud cracks when it’s dried. I remember looking in amazement at the white layer on top and brown earth at the bottom of the “puzzle piece”. I happily picked up a small “piece of the puzzle”, placed it in my pocket and walked on. Dad distracted my tired legs with anything interesting he could see in the barren area. Soon he found some small succulent plants growing only a few inches of the ground and told me that they were water. Cherise and I were so thirsty and after looking suspiciously at the small green leaves, I nibbled off a tiny piece on the leaf. My tongue met the sour taste of the succulent and slowly I sucked on the tiny leaves for water. I was impressed with that plant and was curious to know more. Dad, seeing the sun starting to blaze more fiercely, hurried me along. There were no trees. No shade. No water. No help. I started seeing what looked like water in the distance and told dad and mom that there was water. Again dad told me that there was no water. I could not understand it. If I see something, it must be there right? He explained that it was just a trick the sun and dessert was playing with us.

It was not real. I was disappointed, but my mind kept itself busy with all the interesting things I was learning. On the distant horizon, we could see small Mopani tree-shrubs. Around mid morning, we reached the trees and some shade. It felt so good. I didn’t want to leave that cool shade and cried from tiredness and thirst. Mom decided that Cherise, me and her would stay back in the shade while dad went for help as we kids were totally dehydrated and the sun was beating merciless on anything. Dad knowing that time was running against us, agreed that that would be best. It was still not too hot and he could move faster without us. He ran with his flip flops, and then later without them for over 20km to the nearest village. His tongue was too swollen to ask for help at first, but after some water, he explained that his family needs help. Some of the villagers went to look for help and found one of the two remaining cars in the area.

Meanwhile, mom prayed and sang to us. She says that we were so tired and at first just cried, but then just sat and waited for help. We played with the Mopani tree leaves and I remember throwing the sand on my legs as it felt cooler that way. Mom also knew that there were dessert lions in the area, but knew that her God was our protector and praised God for the shade we could sit under, while humming songs to herself and us. After a few hours, we saw dust in the horizon. This time it wasn’t a rushing river heading towards us, but dad with help. That orange powdered juice dad brought with him on mom’s instruction, remained one of my favorites for many years. It never felt so good to swallow something sweet and delicious, even though it burned its way down my throat.

The Hoanib Riverbed would see our small family after that. Once we got stuck in dust, not water. Another time, when the river ran with actual water, we again got stuck. The Hoanib River was dad’s way of seeking adventure, I guess and teaching us more about the area and depending on God. Also it was really the only “road” in that area to get some places, so we had to use it.

Growing up in Sesfontien, I have fond memories of playing with the kids in the area. I also learned a lot about the animals and vegetation in the area. I remember my first meeting with a Spitting Cobra. Dad had told me to stand still if I saw a snake. Well, I did that and screamed on top of my lungs for dad to come. He was luckily at home from work and quickly killed the snake.

I also remember getting so hot in that area. Mom would call us kids into the house at 10am and we were only allowed to play outside after 3pm. There was no such think as an air conditioner and the generator only ran when there was an emergency at the hospital, right next to us. The fridge ran on paraffin and lights were candles and paraffin lamps. Mom would take wet towels or sheets and wrap us in them when it was very hot. Mom suffered a lot from migraines a lot in Sesfontein and Namibia because of the tremendous heat and also being light sensitive. It was very hard for mom, but because she knew that that was the country and place God wanted them, she endured. She also stopped wearing make up, contact lenses and stockings as it just increased the frustration with heat, dust and bush.  Mom was a nurse by profession and a bit of a perfectionist. She decided not to work in Sesfontein at the hospital due to having a few small kids. Her decision was based on the fact that yes, she loved her work, but she would rather teach her own kids about cleanliness, God and education than having someone else do it for her. She firmly believes in the God-given structure of family and the responsibility God gave parents to teach their own kids about His ways. Mom did all the house work herself and preferred to do it as hygiene in the area was a must with all the Typoid and TB going around. Our first house help was a lady from the village who arrived at our door in traditional wear, wanting to work for white people. She was an Ovahimba lady and only wore a skin skirt. Red ochre smeared all over her body and big iron/copper anklets and bracelets. Soon afterwards, she started wearing western clothing, but that was not the problem. Mom couldn’t leave us with someone who was still getting used to a broom, washing clothes, dishes, cold water and who frequently spat on the ground or in the house  and never really washed their hands. There was hardly water in the area, so most people’s method of washing was by scrapping off the red ochre mixture from their bodies and applying a fresh layer on their skins. This red ochre mixture was made from red clay, butter or cream and some herbal bush that had a peculiar smell.

Staying in Sesfontein, we would go every month to town for grocery shopping, which sometimes included large drums of fuel for the Nature Conservation. Sometimes dad used the government car for emergency evacuations too. If the hospital came to ring the bell, which was a piece of iron, hit by another piece of iron, dad would rush to put the patient on the back of the single cab bakkie/pickup and race the 300km to the nearest town with the drip tied to the railings, flapping in the wind with a sick patient on a mattress in the back and a trail of dust seen for kilometers.

My parents didn’t have it easy too, as they were shunned by the small white community in a small town Khorixas as they served in low ranking positions that no one else wanted and also because they helped the tribes around. My parents always told us the differences between the tribes. If they wore and did this, then they belonged to that tribe. We were also told to “oom” and “auntie” (uncle and auntie) every person older than us, regardless if they were white, brown, yellow or black. Many people found it strange and I remember even black people having a surprised look on their faces when we “oom and tannie ‘ed” them, not to mention the white people. Dad had it rough with some black people too and God taught him to be patient and love them despite the dirt they would throw at him. Our home also became a place were anyone was welcome. I met my first Indian and Chinese people in  Khorixas. The Indian man was a new doctor in town. My parents were out the day he came by our home to meet my parents. He spoke English, which I didn’t speak. I found him very curious. I couldn’t make out from what tribe he was. I still remember trying to figure that out. He had black hair nearly like mine, but his skin and face features were not like that of a white person or a black person. He finally managed to figure out that my parents weren’t home in his broken Afrikaans. UI had trouble explaining to my parents who came by as it was a puzzle to me too. He became a very good friend of the family and today is one of the leading surgeons in Namibia. I loved listening to him play guitar and sing songs to us kids. Sometimes he read to books in his much improved Afrikaans to us. I also had my first Indian food with him and his other doctor friends. I loved the puri bread and fanta grape soda. The rest I couldn’t eat. I really loved him like family and after starting to call him my uncle and introducing him as such, mom had to sit me down and tell me that it was ok to like him, but that he was not my blood uncle. That made me upset, as all my blood family was in South Africa and I hardly saw them.

Over the years, God gave us many adopted uncles, aunts and grandparents from many different tribes and countries. Most of them I am closer to then my own blood related family. They say blood is thicker than water, but spirit is definitely thicker than blood.

When we moved to town, my first year in school was horrible. The white kids found me weird for being friends with everyone and the black kids found me weird too. One specific Damara girl 4 grades higher than me, was quite the bully and with every opportunity wanted to fight with me. I found it very difficult to adjust to both white and black kids around me, but still managed to make friends. Usually after school, the Damara kids would come over and play at our house, but usually at school they were not very friendly. I also didn’t get along with a lot of white kids-specifically much older boys, who would pick on me. Looking back, this one guy was quite a bully, but his father was very rough on him too. A real man according to Afrikaans tradition would be tough and rough on other men. I remember the first Rugby tournament for our small school. The boys trained on a field with rocks and sand as there was no place with lawn. They also competed with no shoes, which most of us kids were in any case used to. For the tournament, the two competing school boys had no mercy on each other, as their dad’s and other men encouraged them on despite it looking more like a battlefield then anything else. Some boys passed out with blood running from their faces, hands and knees.

On Monday, the boys arrived with their”victory” scars and a whole lot of Gentle Violet/ Mecuracrum dapped all over their faces, heads, hands, elbows, hips, knees and toes. The girls did netball and also partook in athletics, but I regrettably, quickly learned how to lie about being sick or having ankle problems. I still clearly remember practicing for the tournament at 3pm in the afternoon’s, under a still blazing sun. The worst was running laps in the hot sun. I started lying when the one time I was nearly vomiting and my head felt like exploding from the heat beating on it from the top of my head and from below my running feet. Some girls would faint, but that was just saying that they were unfit. I hated sports after that, for many years and later had to repent for the many lies I told to teachers and my parents. Years later, my dad became the swimming coach in another town, and only then did I start enjoying sports again. That is another story again.

I also remember that we as kids had emergency drills at school. This was before independence of Namibia and the then, terrorist groups, and now ruling party, would often threaten schools, shopping malls and post offices. Every now and then bombs would be found and thankfully never went off as the South African Military was quick to respond. Praise God for giving Namibia their Independence peacefully. Christians from all races prayed and pleaded with God for peace. UN predicted bloodshed and later it was revealed publically that they had also supplied a lot of arms to the terrorist and many ballot boxes were washed out of the Atlantic Ocean after elections. If you into history, there is a book on Namibia’s history called “Not so free not so Fair.” It was written by an UN based person in Namibia. I doubt if this book will be found as it was banned by UN and only a few copies were ever printed. Despite all this, God is still on the throne and over the years, people are still praying for more unity and for Namibia to be a light to the world that Africa can live in peace with all races. It is still a battle and many unjust things are done, but I am proud to be a white Namibian and even more so, a Namibian. I am African, despite my colour skin, which believe me, East Africans won’t let you forget that you don’t belong to Africa. I can be bitter and rebellious about it, but I have decided a long time ago to just let those tempting arrows the enemy loves to shoot, just fly over my head.

Sesfontein and Khorixas were very hard those years, but through many things that happened there, we learned to trust God in our daily lives, regardless of what the circumstances were. These are just a few memories from my first 7 years with my wonderful, God fearing family. Hopefully in the next addition, I can share more about God’s journey of faith in our family’s lives and how He formed and is still forming us to His glory and to His purpose. It was a calling that would shake us as a family down to the very foundations of our faith. But that is for another day…

Something fresh happened last week, Friday that tested my faith in God once again. My sister and I have three dogs who, naturally, we are quite fond of.  The week before, our youngest dog, Sassy, stopped eating. We discovered something, which we think, was a boned clogged in her throat. We managed to get it down with some oil. Let me emphasis that there are not very competent vet around, so we do everything ourselves. Experience from others and ourselves has taught us not to trust the vets too much. She was wagging her tail and eating food the next day, the incident forgotten. Well, the day after, she started bleeding from the rectum and we can only assume, the bone got stuck and was ripping her gut. We continued to try natural medicines to increase blood as well as antibiotics to stop infection. After days of seeing the blood stop and then increase again, we decided to put her out. We followed the prescription of a nurse and while crying our eyes out, I administered the medication IV. At 6am in the morning, she started coming by again and we spent the whole day giving her overdoses. It was horrible for us, but I think she was so doped she hardly felt anything. So right after my sister and I finally buried her, we closed the Maua Café for the day and I went home to cook for our guest and friend who was going to do the Rabbit Seminar the next day. I was prepping for making dinner, when the verse again came to mind, “Rejoice and be content in every circumstance.” It’s a CHOICE you make. I started singing and joy and peace washed over my heart. As I continued to sing and praise God in my heart, I glanced at my phone and saw that my aunt in South Africa was trying to get hold of me. I quickly called her, knowing that something must be wrong. After quick greetings, she said she was trying to get hold of my mom, but was unable to. My one aunt had collapsed. Minutes before she had told uncle she has a tremendous headache, then collapsed and was in a coma. All this news and happenings in one day was quite a lot, but I cant explain the joy and peace I had and still have. My aunt died a few hours later, and uncle said, she went to meet her Saviour as he was praying with her. What joy and what blessed assurance we can have, knowing that we will see each other again in Heaven.  I praise the Lord for the Holy Spirit who prepares our hearts when we choose to praise and honour Him in every circumstance.

Living in a 3rd world country, it sometimes gets tough to live far from your family and have the luxury off capable doctor’s, vet’s, education and just the everyday things people take for granted. What a honour it is that God has entrusted us and found us able to do His work here in Eastern Africa.

Driving the cook to the bus stand late at night from a long day at Maua Café, I start to think about writing for SouthernFaith and start to think about all the things God has led my family through on a special road of faith.

God called dad and mom to the mission field before they met and after marriage, they started their life together on the mission field. I think of place we have been to – some places where other people didn’t want to go to. Some places very uncomfortable and culturally not acceptable. Some places painful. Some places heartbreaking and molding. Some places an oasis. Some places dry, hot and tiring. Some places a spiritual battleground. And through it all, I have learned to trust in Jesus – some of the hardest places, were places were I had never experienced God so close as then. All the painful molding, heartbreaking circumstances, challenging places/people, physical and spiritual difficulties, the only thing that stands to this day, is God’s promises. As gold purified seven times, He purifies His people. What a blessing so called suffering and pain is, when we have Christ who gives beauty for ashes, joy for sorrow, and strength to the weak. He has given us the promise that He will never leave or forsake us. Through the fire, through the storm, through the flood, He is THERE. Suffering is there to make us grow more in Him – what a privilege it is to uncover those riches that is only revealed in suffering. One thing that pierces my heart is prosperity teaching. In so many ways it’s a false teaching in places other than a first world country. Many preachers come to small cities and towns with the preaching that everything is theirs and that God did not plan for people to suffer. I have seen many a time, people who were content with their village life, change and become greedy and demanding in their faith. In my understanding, covetousness starts and unthankfulness for what you have and what God has entrusted you with. If I read and hear about persecuted Christians all over the world, my heart aches as a lot of the Western doctrine is that there is no suffering and no persecution. How dare we as a church and body of Christ look down on those suffering and think we are better than them? These fellow believers are so rich. Many of us are so poor, we only have money. When I hear believers saying that they will surely miss the tribulation period, as God would not want them to suffer, I have to wonder how selfish the Body of Christ has become. Our founder, Christ Jesus, the Son of God, suffered so we can have eternal life. The apostles suffered and were persecuted for the faith. The great examples of faith, great men and women, suffered for the gospel. Many millions of Christians from different denominations suffer daily for Christ and many live horrendous tortures. All for the sake of Christ. As Hebrews 12 so clearly reminds us, there is a large cloud of witnesses watching the race of faith.

Why am I being so blunt? I really feel that there is a time where God will purify us as a body of Christ. Will we stand? Let us ponder on this:

Do you believe the Body of Christ is ready to face persecution?. Will we deny Christ if we are faced with a choice? Of course we will choose Christ, we say. Will you choose Christ if your husband/wife, father/mother and children are brutally tortured and killed in front of you? Will you hate God? How can a merciful God do this? Look at Jesus. Why did He suffer for us, such unworthy creatures?  As a nursing mother or providing father, what will you do when your child screams of hunger? What will you do when your loved one is sick and needs to see a doctor? These are so many circumstances other believers all over the world face for the sake of Christ. What will you do?

Out of ourselves, each one of us will fail. All that will stand is being founded in Christ and anchoring ourselves in His promises and love. How is your anchor? Is it rusty? When last did you use it in the modern life of today? When last did you dare anchor your boat standing for Christ is daily life? When last did you stand for your believes? In today’s world, Christianity has become watered down. Not even unbelievers know that you are a believer of Christ. Does what you do reflect Christ or a political correct life, where you not even sure what you are or believe in? What are you anchored in? Fellow believers and to myself too, wake up. We need to be serious. What is our temperature, so to speak? Revelations 3:14-22.

 Does your life reflect Christ? When other people see you at work, hanging out, school, daily life etc. do they see and hear Christ? Are we grafted in Christ? Pray that He will prune us, so we can bear fruit that will last. John 15: 1-11What are we teaching our children? Are we teaching them to be anything they want to be? Yes we can be anything, through Christ to benefit the spiritual and physical body. Are we teaching them that they have rights? We do have rights as human beings, but are those rights according to God’s word or just for our sinful man? Are they benefitting the spiritual man or the fleshly man? Our rights should first and formost be that of belonging to Christ. We were bought with a price. The price of Christ’s life on the cross.

Many of us were born into the church. Did you make a decision for God, or are you just religious? The word clearly states that if we follow Christ, we have to deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Him. We need to get off the fence and get serious. Luke 9:23

Many of our so called “rights” are so warped, that it’s impossible to see what is wrong. His word is a light unto our path. In Mark 12:13-17 we are to give to Caesar the things that are Caesars and to God, the things that are God’s. If we say that we belong to Christ, shouldn’t the Potter of the clay (us) do as he sees fit to mold us and make us? Romans 9:14-26 puts it so beautifully and with such longing.

We pray and ask God to speak to us, but when last did you read His word?

Many of us read God’s word like a raisin bread. We only take the raisins and throw the bread. We have become ear pleasers and man pleasers. Were has our “backbone in Christ” gone? We have become yellow. Why? Because we are not founded in Christ. We do not know who we are in Christ and therefore we are no longer lights of the world. We are like salt thrown out and trodden under feet of men. Matthew 5:14-20.

We have lost our strength in Christ. We have no voice. We have become a beautiful shell. A shell that is a good person, does good deeds, does the right things, but has nothing to offer a dying world as we ourselves are dying spiritually. Matthew 15:15-20.

I encourage us all to seek after God and to call to Him. We have to return to our first love. We are nothing without Him and can not make a difference to a dying world by being lukewarm. The world is looking for answers and Jesus is that answer, but sadly, the state that the body of Christ is in, is no example of holiness, love, and respect.

Let us search ourselves as difficult times are coming and the fence is shaking, for all of us “fence sitters”. We will have to go though a time of sifting to sort out the chaff and the wheat. May God remove the chaff from our lives and breathe new, fresh, breath into our dry bones. Are you ready to face whatever to become pure gold, purified through a furnace, 7 times? Are you willing to change? Are you willing to be bent?

May we bend and be broken by the Potter and Gardener while there is time to change. If you call yourself a Christian, A follower of Christ, then get busy and act like it. If not, someone else will do your job for you and you will loose out, just like the man with the one talent of silver. We all are going to be held accountable for everything we do and say. I encourage us all to turn back and get serious with God. Let us face ourselves and see that there is nothing “good” except for what God is in us. Get up! Grow up! We are on the frontlines of battle. A battle not of flesh and blood. Arm yourself and get serious or loose the battle here and eternal. It’s time to get serious.


"For everything there is a season
and a time for every activity under heaven:
a time to give birth and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build up;
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek and a time to lose,
a time to keep and a time to discard; a time to tear apart and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace."

                                                                                                                                                                                         Ecclesiastes 3:1-8


Where are my girls who like to shop? I love looking for unique items for my home and shopping for cute clothes. What is better than a little girl time shopping? Shopping with a purpose!

Have you heard about the Philanthropy? From the moment I walked into their store, I feel in love and knew there was something different about Philanthropy. Each store contains a prayer wall or prayer chapel within the store, and employees pray for the prayer requests of their customers daily. They play Christian music in the store, and it sets the tone for a lovely atmosphere. Philanthropy uses the vehicle of fashion and home decor as a way to reach people for the kingdom and I love that!

I love the store’s vision and purpose! They are a leader in cause-driven retail. Philanthropy Ministries, Philanthropy’s 501(c)3 Non Profit, a charity supporting work in the United States, The Caribbean Islands and East Africa. Philanthropy donate 100% of ALL of their online proceeds to charity and to 10% of their total in store sales. Philanthropy also has a clothing line wearable compassion, that they sell in the store and they donate 100% of proceeds back to charities they support. Since its inception in 2007, Philanthropy has donated more than $800,000 to charities.

Philanthropy even opens up their store to the public, the store in The Woodlands, TX just opened its store to a 16 year old girl to offer a Bible Study to other young girls. Charity partnerships through co-op projects curate and craft project specific items to be sold through Philanthropy stores. Other ways Philanthropy gives back is by having an annual giving tree Campaign, year round blessing bags for the homeless campaign. and prayers and praise.

I love the way Philanthropy uses their social media to spread the truth of the Gospel and further the love of Jesus through social media. I write devotions for Philanthropy’s blog, along with others who share the love of Jesus across all of their social media platforms.

To find out more about Philanthropy visit their online store at

Misty Phillip is wife to Peter and mom to three amazing young men Jacob, Connor and Ian. Misty began blogging in 2016 and she blogs at By His Grace- Seek Jesus, Study the Word, & Grow in Grace. On the blog Misty writes about Christian Living, Marriage, Motherhood, Homeschooling, Hospitality, while writing inspiring devotions, and book reviews. She is also a contributor to the Philanthropy Fashion Blog.

                                                                  SOUL WINNING The Heart of Christ 

                                                                                 Janine Mick Wills

She was a prostitute with no one to call “friend.” He was perfect and secure in himself–surrounded by those who had watched him accomplish great things. But he traveled a great way to meet her. Not wanting even his closest friends to know his intent, he made sure the two of them were alone before he asked her for a drink.  She questioned the sincerity of his request. “Why are you talking to me? Your family wouldn’t approve.”But he replied, “You wouldn’t ask me that if you knew who I am. I can change your life.”***** Would you call this man’s claim arrogant or outrageous? If he were an ordinary man, you could, but he was far removed from ordinary. He was Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. He sought out the Samaritan woman, and though she had some knowledge about worship and the Messiah (John 4:19-20, 25), she needed someone to patiently and lovingly show her the way of salvation. On the other hand, in the third chapter of John, Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, came looking for Jesus under the cover of night. Jesus first reprimanded Nicodemus’ spiritual ignorance but then presented the Gospel in a way he could understand and accept. Two people–both lost in their sins–but each was introduced to the Gospel by the same person in a different manner. Let’s single out the Samaritan woman and see how Jesus led her to himself and how this can help our soul winning efforts (See Matthew 4:18-22; 9:1-7, 20-22; 15:21-28, et al. for other examples of Christ’s soul winning methods).

1. Jesus sought the Samaritan woman (John 4:4). He could have bypassed Samaria on his way to Galilee by crossing the Jordan and following the eastern shore. Instead, he went out of his way to find her. Rarely, do we win someone to the Lord because he/she has approached us. We must take the initiative and find the lost. It’s not hard. They are everywhere!  2. Jesus prayed for the Samaritan’s woman (John 4:6, 7). Jesus was a prayer warrior (Matthew 14:23; Mark 1:35, 6:46; Luke 3:21, 5:16, 6:12, et al.)

2. In my imagination, I see him resting by the well and praying for the Samaritan woman’s eternal soul, while he waited for her to appear. After all, he had come to seek and save lost sinners (Luke 19:10). You, too, must bathe your soul winning efforts in prayer. Also, make sure nothing stands between you and the Lord before you witness to someone. Confess your known sin (1 John 1:9) and ask for the filling of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13) to empower you (Acts 1:8).
3. Jesus waited for an opportune time (John 4:6, 27). The disciples had gone to buy food, and the townswomen did not draw water in the heat of the day. Jesus knew the Samaritan woman’s social position and did not want to embarrass her when he revealed her lost condition.  Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit when soul winning and use discretion. Don’t embarrass a person, especially around his/her family or friends.  

4. Jesus showed kindness by asking the Samaritan woman for a drink (John 4:9). Branded by her race and profession, the townsfolk would have nothing to do with the Samaritan woman. But Jesus looked into her heart and saw a thirsty soul. Sometimes we’re prejudiced in our soul winning, choosing to only share the “Good New” with certain people. But Christ died for the entire world (John 3:16). Many churches lack a prison ministry (Matthew 25:43), but those behind iron bars are not the only prisoners. What about the homeless, drug addicts, homosexuals, and other “untouchables”? How about senior citizens in nursing homes and unfortunate people in the ghettos or projects, whose skin does not match our own? These and many others also need the Gospel of Christ.

 5. Jesus presented salvation to the Samaritan woman at her level (John 4:7-15). He did not use unfamiliar terms but chose a common-place thing (the water in the well) to illustrate a spiritual truth. Many people have never heard words like born again, the second or new birth, and regeneration. Others may have, but they do not understand them when taken in context. Salvation is simple enough for a child to understand (Matthew 18:2-4). Don’t make it difficult.

As one wise preacher said, “Put the cookies on the bottom shelf where they can be reached.”

6. Jesus was straightforward and did not get off track (John 4:10, 13, 14, 16-18, 21-24, 26). Each time the Samaritan woman put up a barrier to Christ’s truth, he adroitly, but gently, brought her back to her need of salvation. We can get sidetracked by other biblical topics when we share the Gospel. But remember, until a person accepts Christ, he/she cannot understand spiritual matters (1 Corinthians 2:14). Also, it is the Holy Spirit using God’s word that saves a soul, so be careful not to stray from the Bible. God promises to bless his word, not ours (Isaiah. 55:11). And keep a cool head. You can become frustrated when dealing with an unsaved person, but leave the door open for the next soul winner who comes along (1 Corinthians 3:6).

7. Jesus first built rapport with the Samaritan woman and did not condemn her sin (John 4:16-18). He allowed her to realize she was a sinner (John 4:17) before presenting himself as her Savior (John 4:21-26).  Sometimes we are so anxious to make a soul winning “sale,” we immediately hop to Romans 3:10 and 23 or other comparable verses. This can work, but most people need time to “warm up”to the Gospel and will take silent or verbal offense to being called a sinner when you first share God’s word. Be friendly. Introduce yourself and talk about other things first (i.e. the weather,
3 sports, their garden, house, children, or car). Watch for the look in their eyes to soften and their body language to relax before “shooting” your Gospel arrows.

8. Jesus did not win the Samaritan woman and the other townsfolk to the Lord and then immediately leave (John 4:40). He stayed for two days to disciple them.  After you lead someone to the Lord, don’t forget to follow up with that person. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) was to tell people about Christ, see them baptized, and teach them all things. A newly saved person is like a baby (1 Peter 2:2). He/She needs the nurture of a loving, mature, and spiritual caregiver.

Soul winning is not always easy. We must subdue the flesh and go forth with a broken heart if we are to win a lost and dying world (Psalm 126:5). But Psalms 126:6 promises a joyous time of reaping if we faithfully obey Christ’s command (He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him).


This has been the second largest trial for us within a year and a half. Starting with my mother’s going home to be with the Lord in mid 2016. That was so unexpected and totally caught us off guard. Then we rang in the New Year just 4 months later, praying for a better year. Thinking, “How could it be worse?” fully knowing that is a loaded question.
Then the start of 2017 took us by surprise.  My husband was diagnosed in January of this year with CHF, yes, congestive heart failure.  While I struggled to understand, I would not accept it so easily. I wanted to understand how and why this could happen. Why?  “We are healthy people, this can’t be”. Well, it was.
The first visit with the cardiologist, I put on my game face and mustered up all my bravery. After all, I am a God fearing, Jesus loving, Bible believing woman of faith. I sat in the exam room with my eyes fixed on the doctor, trying to look brave and calm for my husband’s sake. One week later, after all the tests were run and the results were in, we went back for the diagnosis, or lack thereof (well that was our hope). As I sat in the extra chair, I heard the words, “Mr Gipson, you have Congestive Heart Failure”, so matter of fact. I felt like I shook my head to clear out the words I had just heard in disbelief.

Then it was a whirlwind of doctor visits, tests and lifestyle changes, plenty of prayer chains and personal prayer. It was fast and furious. After 3 months of a new and very promising medication, Bob had his 2nd echocardiogram which was how they monitored the hearts function and working percentage. The result was not any better. At this same visit the doctor introduced the idea of possibly doing surgery to implant a defibrillator. I was horrified. I thought, “No, he won’t be needing that, God has this”.  I felt deflated because I just knew my God had healed Bob. We laid hands on him, prayed over him, anointed him, fasted and corporately prayed for him. I just knew it was going to happen.  I turned up the prayer life 100 notches and gave God the glory in advance for Bob’s healing.
The 3rd electrocardiogram was scheduled to be done in another 3 months to see the progress of the medicine and the heart’s function making it now 6 months of medicine and treatment. Now mind you, I had been praying fervently. Actually my prayer for his healing was borderline begging and pleading with our Father. I knew this but I could not help myself. I was praying without ceasing, but seemingly praying vain repetitions. Or so I thought. I told Abba, that I knew I was begging but I was so desperate in this situation. I was trying to be calm, especially to those watching to see how a faith filled woman of God functions in such a time as this.

Well, the 3rd echocardiogram time came. Then the results came. It was truth time. It was the moment we had been waiting for. Anxiously waiting to hear that he was healed and that the doctor was stunned and amazed, (that was my version of it anyway).  Well God had other plans. We got the news that the heart function did improve, but not enough. So the appointment was set with the surgeon.
I was secretly dismayed and sad that it was going to happen. I had such high hopes that this was a miraculous healing. But, I never once got mad at God, I never once cursed or yelled at Him. I never wavered in my faith. I had to learn to accept it as His will, His purpose.

Then it dawned on me one day while speaking to my coworker. She told me of her husband’s heart and health story. His story did not end well.  He had a different kind of heart disease, but heart disease just the same. He had if for a long time undetected from neglect of annual visits. Sadly, she lost her husband. That too, was for a purpose.  She ministered to me in my time of need. She said, “Sandie, at least you both knew. He has a diagnosis and a plan in place”. She then told me that she wished that they had a warning, a notice, and plan.

Then is occurred to me like water from a flinty rock and manna from the sky, God may not have granted that miraculous healing, (although He still can), He granted us a diagnosis, a plan and a purpose. I realized that maybe God’s healing was in modern medicine for now, while we learned to truly be patient and wait on the Lord and I graciously accept it and rejoice in it. I had to come to the throne room of God and finally say “Lord, I feel like I’m begging because I am so desperate in this situation. Have your way, Your will be done”.
Sometimes blessings are hidden in the pain. Teaching us patience, faith and true longsuffering.
Have a blessed day,

my name is Sandie Cook Gipson. I am a wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, friend and Kingdom working child of God.
I have been married to my best friend Bobby for 25 years. We have 8 children between the two of us. I am Miami born but Central Florida raised. And looking to the beach to retire to one day, God willing.
My love is to minister to the senior citizens of our church and community. I believe that they are often overlooked but so vital in the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
My journey with Christ has been very fulfilling and my most important journey to date and always. I do not have a “defining moment” where I was converted or sold out to Christ. I just always remember believing in our Savior since I was a child. I do however, have a defining moment where I was washed in the Spirit and my life surely changed forever.
I hope to encourage and share Jesus with everyone I meet and know. That is my dream, goal and purpose.

There was a time in my life that this very question was unanswered .. Why ? Because I didn't know who I was .. The only answer I had was to a different question.  That was " Who do I not want to be?  The answer was " ME "

I was raised in a home with both parents and went to church everytime the doors were open. I was baptized in my early teens and as I look back now, I see I did it to please my parents, not because the Holy Spirit touched me. I was troubled and felt so out of place in life, I thought this would help. It's funny how I look back after over 35 years and see this now.

I had difficulty keeping friendships, letting people like me. I was afraid to get close. I was the loner, weird kid, that had no idea of who my identity was. I had struggled with depression and lonliness all my teenage years and majority of my adulthood. It was severe at times.  I tried to conceal my pain by withdrawing. The only time I was happy was being alone, which was not good. It was an instigator to my demise .

I  was working fulltime and going to college, specializing in paramediciene. I worked on the ambulance and loved it! I was helping people and felt I had a calling to do this work. One problem ... I cared more about others than I did myself .

 My church days were gone and I slammed the door in God's face.  As years passed  I fell harder and colder to life. What was missing? Why was I in so much pain being me? I would even look back at my childhood and think " I was miserable at church too , so that's not my problem " .. Oh how I was deceiving myself.

I had a tremendous gap in my life, it felt the size of the New Madrid Fault . I tried everything I knew to fill this gap . Nothing was ever enough. My destruction was causing more damage than I realized. The only thing I enjoyed in life was working. Being in such a state was not good on my mind doing Paramedic work. I took in every call, every bad, tragic incident.  

As years have gone by and my life in a terrible whirlwind, I looked at a bible I had, covered in dust. I prayed, why did I pray I had left God behind many years ago. Well, I hit bottom, and knew it . What did I have to lose right? I found myself praying a little more as time started passing. I had actually had prayers answered! Why would God do this?! I was nothing, someone that didn't have anything left.

I dusted my bible off one night after having a breakdown. I started to read Matthew.  I remember a time when I was little, I loved seeing the red lettering in the bible that put the emphasis on Jesus words. I would think, Jesus is talking to me.  I had that same feeling 30 years down the road. I read just a bit amd became frustrated. Simply because I felt I was a failure that had light at the end God was not going to lay his hand on me, I'm to much of a mess.

That night I feel hard, I could not take anymore. I cried out to Jesus,  On my face in the floor , screaming  " Help Me " ..

The next day, I was driving to my Mom's. Along the way crosses a big blue bridge. I will never forget this exact moment , I had not thoughts , just cold .. When I felt this feeling , the most gracious , merciful , loving feeling in the center of my heart!  I smiled like I had never before . I knew at that exact moment the Holy Spirit touched my heart !!!!  I prayed and asked God to forgive me and to save my soul.  I did not want eternal life in Hell .. I wanted  to be in the glorious beauty of Heaven . Guess what ? I was FORGIVEN!!!!! I knew it when I asked . What a glorious day !!!!!! I was saved !

A few years have passed and today my life is on track in the name of the LORD.  I place him first in my life.  My husband and I have a remarkable relationship  , a strong marriage. We place God first. Our daughter loves the Lord so . I am involved in jail Minstry and have founded an outreach Ministry in our community.  My husband and I are active in our church , with teaching childern and youth .

God has a made me a new person . The old is gone and I am reborn into the life of Christ .


2 Corinthians 5 : 17  KJV


Friends , no matter the past or the present , God will forgive and make you new . His mercy and grace stretches beyond our thoughts and what we deserve . Our greatest gift is our salvation.  God loves us that much . YES,  he loves us that much !!

I was lost and he still answered prayers , I cried to him and fell to my knees , God never left me  , I found him . The Lord loved me enough to place the Holy Spirit in my heart so I could be with him one day.  For me to call out and  accept his son , my Savior.  

My life that God has given me is precious and I feel his love daily. He is with me at all times .. What a glorious and spectacular life it will be . I follow my Lord and listen to his words  , for he knows what's best for me ..


Who am I ?   I am a child of God,  the daughter of a King  and one that is loved so much ,  that Jesus died for ME , to save my soul . He paid for my sins ..    

That's who I am ... Special…

I am Rachel Lane and I am a child of GOD..

I have always had a passion for writing,  mainly about my struggles and experiences in life.  I have been a  Critical care paramedic for over 23 yrs . I have since gone back to a school to become an Esthetician. I own my esthetics Salon which keeps me busy .I am married to a wonderful husband that works as a  deputy . We have enough a beautiful daughter that is our shining star.  

I started Inspirational Life a few years ago to inspire and encourage others.  I have not always followed the LORD , but now that I have surrendered to him , I place him first in my life . I share my life struggles and experiences with others to show them what an amazing life it is to be a child of God.  

I am involved in jail ministry and have started a community ministry to help those getting out of jail or those that have fallen on hard times.  

Following the Lord has turn my life into an amazing journey that I treasure !!!

Rachel E LANE

I know when I go through dark times that he is there. Aren’t they painful yet beautiful because he is?

Several years ago my husband Sam and I attended a christian conference in Harrisburg. We entered the room and were escorted to our seats.
The fact that we were shown to empty seats in a standing room only meeting packed a great significance. We were shown such honor by that act. I’m forever grateful.
The atmosphere in the room had been charged with expectancy and a holy presence. I knew angels were there.
Sometimes you go to a meeting and the feeling is light and celebratory. This meeting was heavy with an atmosphere of unity in solemnity… almost grief.
We heard a message on how we are created to minister to each other.
I felt like a failure in that area. We had lived in the same neighborhood for 30 years. In that time we attended church, raised our children in the church and reached out to our neighbors in every way we could imagine.
We prayed for our neighbors, brought over baked goods, held our children’s birthday parties and invited the kids.
Though we had a surface relationship with them, neighbors moved in and moved away without a sense of true community between us.

Shortly after attending this meeting, a neighbor came to me in tears. She shared how a mutual neighbor had been diagnosed with cancer.
This neighbor had been given a death sentence, and honestly she is one of those people who goes to the party and is “the life of the party.”  
So now the true test of love had begun. Because I had been a cancer survivor for fifteen years at the time, I’d be one of the people who’d understand the journey maybe the most.
I walked across the street and knocked on the cancer patient’s door. Her sister answered and shared how the pain had come, tests revealed that the cancer had spread through her body. The prognosis did not look good.
Though I felt compassion, I did not immediately want to get involved. I have a gift when someone shares their pain I can feel it. And, this would require a trip back into the most painful time of my life.

God and I had many disagreements after that. I told him how I wasn’t his girl for this assignment. After all, hadn’t I failed in the “love your neighbor” department? It had come to a place of new people closing their doors in my face when I went over to talk to them. Invitations for the neighborhood parties had trickled into nonexistence.
With my neighborhood I was in an all time low.
Every argument I gave, he graciously answered in the affirmative. Yes, I was his girl after all.
The day arrived when my precious neighbor came to my door and asked me for prayer for peace.
We prayed a prayer of faith. Freely given, freely received, I freely released the peace God had given me to her.
The next day she confessed that an amazing peace of God fell on her after that prayer.
I can honestly praise God for that fruit. There is no other natural reason it would be so. As my friend entered a fierce battle for her life.

She fought it like the true warrior princess that she was.
No one who stopped by her home left without her asking how they were. She comforted the grieving, endured countless surgeries, chemotherapy, degradations to her physical body.
She handled it all with dignity and strength of one who knows where she is going.
With a brief respite of remission there was talk of a big celebratory party. But, that party was not to come. Instead there were several intimate celebrations with her family and close friends.
Her suffering was profound. But, her peace and experiences of the supernatural grew to new levels. One day, instead of sharing her suffering, she told me she felt herself leaving to go home to heaven. She came back when her husband called her name. She’d said, “it’s very peaceful.”

My times with my friend taught me that God’s ways are higher than ours. The sooner we accept his paths no matter how dark and dangerous the stronger we become. In the end, I received a text from her.
“God is calling me…I’m at hospice. I’m pain free but not much time. Take care and enjoy your family.”
God gave me a chance to give her one more hug and say my goodbyes before she passed.
He knew how the bonds of our friendship would be tempered through the trenches of cancer.
When I asked him, “Why did you not heal my friend, what did I do wrong?”  He answered, “Daughter, she is healed and in a higher place. And you did your job by walking with her into eternity.”

Since that time my neighborhood is a community of friends who pray together, serve one another and praise God when time is right.
Until we see our sister again we will celebrate her victory of life with her Father in heaven. And, the angels are probably laughing at her jokes.
I miss her but I’m so happy she is now pain free and in a forever place of celebration!

Kelly Liberto 

She has her Bachelors of Arts degree in Communications from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, Pa. And, Kelly received her certificate in Biblical Counseling in 2008.
Interviewed on the Total Picture, she details how God miraculously healed her from cancer in her liver after only three months. The program can be accessed here~Kelly's Miracle.
Kelly is happily pursuing her love of writing Christian novels. Her first novel is a tale of suspense where a visionary's vendetta finds her on a collision course with her abuser. Her novel was a semifinalist from The American Christian Fiction Writer's Genesis Contest in April 2014 and won a bronze medal in the Frasier Contest in 2015. She is currently represented by Jim Hart from Hartline Literary Agency.
Through her years of experience as a biblical counselor, Kelly helped spearhead the mentoring department for Truth For Women Center of the Lehigh Valley. Her passion is to see women restored to the destiny they were created to live. At the Truth Home, a residential therapeutic home for victims of human trafficking, women are being restored through the truth of God with the help of people like you!


To the spouse or loved one struggling with their loved one’s anxiety or depression:

Their mental illness is not your fault, nor is it any indication of your worth. I know how hard you try to fight for them, but you can’t “fix” them. I know because I am your loved one.

I’ve watched my husband, my knight in shining armor, my “Mr. Fix It,” completely worn out trying to help me just breathe. I know you are exhausted and feel as if you have failed them, but your presence means more to us than you could fathom.

I can’t speak for everyone struggling with this, but anxiety has morphed into depression for me. Breathing is hard. Moving is hard. Putting into words what I know to be irrational fears is even harder.

Knowing you are creating irrational fears and scenarios in your head causes such anger, and in turn causes you to isolate yourself from people you love.  You see, if your loved one is like me, they’re isolating themselves so they don’t hurt you. We think we are doing you a favor, but in all actuality, we are creating the perfect recipe for depression. Chemical imbalances in the brain and perceived loneliness cause such pain.

To my beautiful husband:

It’s not your fault. You’ve done your best to make sure I get the help I need to overcome this monster. I’ve been given this thorn for this season in our life for a specific growth purpose; I truly believe that, but I’m still struggling.

Depression has robbed me of me. I’m not pushing you away because I don’t love or appreciate you. It’s a nasty side effect that I hate the worst. I can handle a mental and emotional hurt so deep that it manifests physically; I can understand the reason I isolate myself; I can even understand people struggling with suicidal ideology, but what I can’t overcome is the look of hurt in your eyes when I inadvertently push you away. I promise, it’s not you.

People struggling with this thorn can’t turn off their minds. Constant mental and emotional turmoil cause us to turn inward. I can’t get out of my head, can’t stand that I know none of this is real, but am at war inside because I have let Satan convince me that it is indeed real.

Our outbursts aren’t your fault. It’s the culmination of fighting with ourselves, knowing all the truths, but still not able to grab them. We know we’ve hurt you, can see it on your face. We want nothing more than to grab you and hold you, to tell you that it’s going to be alright.

To my beautiful husband:

Please forgive me for hurting you, for robbing us of the marriage God designed. I so desperately want to be the wife God says I am. I want to honor you in every facet of life. I want to show our girls that whatever their thorn may be, they will overcome it. Because I have you and the promise that God will never leave me, I will overcome this mental illness. It won’t define me, but strengthen me. I’ll learn how worthy I am, that I’m worth fighting for, and that Satan can no longer have residence is my mind anymore. 

Spouses and loved ones:

We love you.

We are thankful for you, even if we are failing at showing you during this season.

Just be present.

You can’t “fix” us.

You can pray for us because we need you to do so. 

Love us through this season because it will pass.

Speak to us the promises of God even if it seems as if we aren’t listening. We hear you.

Please remember, it will pass. In sickness and in health, love us. We are still there beneath all the thorns and so desperately need to believe God’s promises for our lives. 

Spouses, loved ones, friends:

We love you.

We appreciate you.

We are thankful that you haven’t given up on us-just a little longer.


We are not our thorn

It doesn't get much easier than this!!!!!

These Vegan BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Tacos are super easy  to make.

First cook your Young Jackfruit with a few onions, taco seasoning and Vegan BBQ Sauce. (easiest way to prep Jackfruit; slow cook overnight in your crock-pot on low with the seasonings & sauce of your choice)

Next prep the sides that are made in literally 5 minutes.

We have a quick Guacamole (Avocado, Red Onion, Lime, Cilantro) and a zesty Pico de Gallo (Tomato, Red Onion, Cilantro, Lime, Salt and a little addition of Cucumber ).

There you have it! Healthy tacos!

A great option to try for a first plant based meal!!