What’s Eating You?

This past Easter during Lent (the six week period leading up to Easter) I felt God was leading me to give something up that I couldn’t seem to live without: sugar – in all its many forms. I’ve wrestled with weight issues and an eating disorder for most of my life and have had a particularly nasty addiction to sugar since childhood.

When I felt that holy nudge to lay down this addiction for six weeks I did so expecting to completely fail. After all – what would a life devoid of sugar actually look like? Sugar has been my “go to” drug of choice for as far back as I can remember. Whenever anything was eating me – I ate back with sugar.

As a stress eater, the idea of not eating my way through a crisis seemed highly unlikely, but I quit sugar cold-turkey, nonetheless. My body (and my brain) reacted to some uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that were very painful – both physiologically as well as emotional. I suffered from headaches, body aches, anxiety and off the chart cravings that drove me to the brink of craziness.

It was right smack in the middle of all of this “suffering” that I truly came to understand what Christ must have endured during his 40 day fast in the wilderness and of course, his painful suffering on Calvary. Putting my “suffering” in the same category as Jesus’s suffering shamed me. Saying “no” to after dinner ice cream was nothing compared to Jesus’s anguish.

The greatest gift that God gave me during my Lent sacrifice was to open my eyes to the level of importance I had placed on my love of sugar. First John 5:21 shone a spotlight on the root of my core problem: Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.

My problem wasn’t just a little sugar addiction. My real problem, my sin, was that I’d suffered my whole life from a heart condition. I put the need to “go to” sugar during an emotional crisis above my need for Jesus.

I can’t say that sacrificing sugar for six weeks magically healed me, but it did help me to see through eyes that weren’t always glazed over from eating icing or sprinkles. I’m not fixed yet, but I am making an effort to make Jesus my “go to” solution rather emotional eating whenever something is eating me.

How about you? What’s eating you? Is there anything taking God’s place in your heart? Why not let Jesus be your new “go to” solution.

Blessings in Christ,
Kathy Kurlin
Author
www.kathleenkurlin.com

Archives

The Wisdom of a Woman

Currently, I am attending Bible College. The class I recently finished took an in depth look at every single book written within the New Testament. I had the opportunity to study the spread of first century Christianity, the men considered closest to Christ, and most importantly the man, the ministry, and the Messiah himself. Week after week, we peeled away the layers of Scripture and the deeper significance behind the words. The Bible came alive and as I studied the synoptics (Gospels) in greater detail, a particular set of Scriptures stood out. When Jesus hung upon the cross, the Gospel of Mark tells us in Mark 15:40-41 “Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome. They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Then they and many other women had come with him to Jerusalem.”

Before we go any further, I need for you all to understand one key aspect here. Women and especially children, were not even considered “second class citizens” but were among the lowest levels of society within the early Jewish culture. Women were not even permitted to speak publicly in church meetings (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

Looking back at the scene of the crucifixion in Mark 15:47 we are told that “Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus’ body was laid.” Chapter 16 verses 1-2 opens with the following “The next evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene and Salome and Mary the mother of James went out and purchased burial spices to put on Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they came to the tomb.” These women could do very little leading up to the crucifixion. They could not speak before the Jewish high council in Jesus’ defense, nor could they appeal to Pilate or the Roman guards who beat and mocked him. Yet, even when the disciples had fled for their own lives, these women remained at the feet of Jesus. They followed his body and prepared spices to take to the burial tomb. The preparation of such spices resembled a sign of love, respect, and devotion. Take note here, it is absolutely NO coincidence that these very women were the FIRST to encounter the angel at the opened tomb, and witnessed the miraculous wonders of the resurrected Christ. God blessed their diligence and devotion, as these women used the opportunities they did have, instead of dwelling on those they did not.

Do not for one second believe the lies of the enemy that you are “just a woman” for as I briefly touched on above, women featured prominently in the accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection and at the Pentecost. Again, this is truly NO mistake. A woman’s testimony during this time period was considered to be worthless, yet God used these very ladies to inform the disciples of what had just occurred. Could you imagine the level of pure joy that must have ensued when they looked upon the presence of Christ early that Sunday morning? Their faithfulness was profound, and God surely rewarded them for it.

My prayer for each of you today is that you are able to better recognize the significance and importance you have not only as a woman, but a woman of God. We are so blessed to reside in a country where we can share our faith. Take FULL advantage of that! I pray that He grants you the ultimate wisdom to act upon the opportunities you do have to remain steadfast and devoted to being a witness for Him. The women accounted for here could have lost their very lives for exhibiting their faithfulness. What do you have to lose?

Stefanie Calens
Writer
stephanie

Archives

How beautiful are the FEET of those who bring glad tidings of good things!

On the way home from a recent ministry trip, the man next to me on the plane immediately took off his shoes. After settling into our seats and exchanging pleasantries, I tried to figure out a way to diplomatically bring into the conversation how Dr. Scholl’s makes great odor-control shoe inserts. Instead, I thought it would be better to “toe” the line and politely suffer through the 2 ½ hour flight . After it was apparent we both wanted to read our books, I sat there (holding my breath) reviewing the last few days in my heart. I stared at my book pretending I didn’t smell the stench around me (it was no easy “feat”!). What came to mind (and nose ) was “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat.” I don’t know if you have ever heard that Halloween poem, but I wonder who in the world ever came up with that? It’s challenging, threatening, bossy, rude, and demanding.

Today we’re talking figuratively about smelly feet/sin. It’s so easy to recognize the stench of someone else’s feet to the neglect of our own. Recently some co-workers and I were confronted by some challenging, threatening, bossy, rude, and demanding people. My friends and I asked the Lord to cause us to love these women. Like trick-or-treaters demanding candy, they threatened when they didn’t get what they wanted. What they didn’t realize is their demanding actions, lack of kindness, and over-zealous words, made them appear to have their cause before Christ’s purpose….and who wants to reward or “treat” that kind of behavior? We would put a Twix in their candy bag, they complained they wanted a Snickers. We would give them a Snickers, and they complained it had nuts in it. Have you ever known people like that? Now here is where we have to take off our masks…have you ever been a person like that?

It has been my experience that people who act that way are calloused by insecurity, hurt, or wounds; greatly in need of some kindness, love, and affirmation. Sometimes it is best to gently confront such behavior, but one must make sure it is of the Spirit and not of self. Other times, as it was in our case through the example of Jesus in John 13:1-17, it is best to humbly wash their feet and love them. Feet can be dirty, smelly, ugly, have bunions, callouses, corns, and even worse, they can have fungus. You can’t polish over fungus and get rid of it (no matter how pretty the nail polish). Untreated, fungus can start eating away the very toenails meant to help protect the feet. Sin has a way of doing that to our hearts and lives too; it can eat away at our relationships and the blessings in our lives. Even though “pushy pink” polish can’t, love can cover a multitude of sins. When God calls us to wash someone’s feet, He doesn’t ask us to heal the fungus…that is His job. Zecheriah 4:6-7 tells us, “’Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” He can level mountains into plains, or in other words, remove bitter bunions and forceful fungus, buff off crass and contentious corns and callouses, clip, file and polish tumultuous toenails (and hearts!). We just need to submit, trust, and obey and that is when we will experience the thrill of victory over the agony of “da-feet”. The interesting thing about washing other people’s feet is you have to stoop down to do it, which positions you to take inventory of your own feet. After this trip I can see my toenails are chipped. It looks like it’s time for a pedicure.

Shela-Lyn Boxberger
Christian Author, Speaker, Interpreter for the Deaf and Bible Study Teacher
shela-lyn

Archives

More than a Number

Whenever I call my doctor’s office or my dentist’s office one of the first things they ask for is my Insurance card number, which is followed by my pertinent information: name, birthdate, etc. To these medical professionals I am merely a few keystrokes on a keyboard and a series of statistics.

Because I’m a woman and tend to navigate my way through life according to my feelings, I sometimes wonder if that’s how God sees us; as nothing more than statistics. Does He only see our height and weight; our eye color or all of the bad habits we’re unwilling to let go of? Does God only see me as a woman with brown hair who happens to be a socially handicapped introvert who talks too much when she gets nervous? Are we more than the statistics that encompass our physical and emotional makeup?

On my particularly vulnerable days, I wonder the exact opposite – does God see me at all? Am I invisible to the Creator of the Universe? Does He know or care that I’m plagued by insecurities and fear?

The good news is that whenever we’re struggling with our identity in Christ and wondering where we fit in on this planet comprised of more than seven billion people – God not only sees us – He knows our name and exactly how many hairs number our head. Matthew 10:30

Psalm 139 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture and should be mandatory, required reading for anyone suffering from low self-esteem or depression. When I read that God saw me as I was being formed in my mother’s womb and that every day of my life was laid out before a single day had passed, it reminds me that even though I may have not felt love from those closest to me while growing up – God always saw me. When I was rejected by my first husband, I am assured that the precious thoughts that God continually has about me outnumber the grains of sand.

Rest assured, Sisters in Christ – we are more than statistics or a number on a census to our Heavenly Father. When the enemy creeps in and tries to make us doubt our Father’s love for us we would do well to remember to thank God for making us so wonderfully complex! Psalm 139:14. We are not invisible to the Savior!

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. Psalm 139:1, 3 (NLT)

Blessings in Christ,
Kathy Kurlin
Author
kathy

Archives

The Eternal Pursuit of Love

Does the season of romance make your heart flutter . . . or your stomach turn? Hollywood offers us a shadow view of what love is, or more accurately—what it means. Here’s a look at God’s definition:

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:9-11

God’s version of romance draws the unbeliever to His eternal heart of love. Take for example, Tony and Sheila (oh, how I love this story!), a couple living “in the world and of the world”—partying too much, angry too much, trying the world’s way to heal from the broken relationships in their pasts. Hear this: they didn’t think there was any other way. Oh, but God knew another way! In fact, He’d sent His only Son so this empty couple could be filled with forever . . . but, He had some pursuing to do.

In a bold step of faith, Tony and Sheila sat themselves down at a Sunday church service. God spoke directly to their hearts. Both a mess afterwards, a kind lady asked Sheila for her phone number—in case she ever wanted to talk. That week at work, Tony found a scrawled message across the corner of a random cardboard box. “God loves you,” it declared. Not long after, while Sheila did some shopping, Tony grabbed a meal. A little, old lady—a stranger—paid for his lunch, and with a smile she repeated, “God loves you.” Somehow, the unlikely couple found the courage to join a small group Bible Study. Weeks later, in tears of desperation, Sheila decided she didn’t fit in and she wouldn’t go back. But she didn’t tell anyone. To her astonishment, the next day, flowers appeared on her desk along with a compassionate note, “God put it on my heart to send you these.” It was a turning point.

You see, Tony and Sheila did go back to church, and to small group; they did give their lives to the great God who pursued their hearts . . . after all, He asked for Sheila’s phone number, bought Tony dinner, wrote them love notes, and sent Sheila flowers. The inventor of romance knows how to woo His children! What’s your story of God’s loving pursuit of your heart? And when is the last time you returned the favor?

“We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Jesseca Newton
Writer

jessica2

Archives

Middle School View

Two giggly tweens settled onto pillows in our small group nook, tucked away under the staircase in the church youth room.

“We missed you last week,” I noted with a smile. They turned a bit pink, and started to explain.

“We were on our way here, but then . . .” In short, the two best friends got the giggles. In the back seat of grandma’s car, the giggles—plus a drink of water—resulted in an unfortunate “tossing of the cookies.” The result covered both the “spewer” and her friend’s school backpack; only a shower and a washing machine could fix this mess.

Interestingly, our discussion that night centered on repentance. Young in years and in faith, I asked the girls what repentance meant. They offered the usual Sunday School type answers—“Repentance is admitting that we sinned and telling God we’re sorry.” Absolutely. Correct! But why? They looked at each other, a bit mystified, and shrugged.

“Let’s put it this way,” I began. Building on their already bright imaginations, we started talking about a different scenario. Perhaps Kate felt furious that Sarah spoiled her backpack; maybe she felt this instantly morphed into a wedge between them. Maybe it even caused a seemingly irreparable break in their relationship. How could two besties find a way back to the sweet friendship they enjoyed before?

As I laughed inside at God’s provision and concern that these girls “get it,” I found myself declaring, “So basically, repentance is saying, ‘God, I’m sorry I threw up on your backpack . . . can we be friends again?’”

Ladies, it’s just that simple.

“But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 If your relationship with God is blocked by an unconfessed, unrepented issue (sin) in your life—you can fix it, right now as you are sitting at your computer, reading this loveNOTE on your phone, or scrolling through your tablet. He’s not mad at you, the way Kate might have felt, but He does miss the relationship. He misses laughing with you over life’s unexpectedness. He misses hearing your sorrows; He misses you humbly asking Him for strength to just get through another minute of another day. Yes, He misses the relationship—He misses you!

Jesseca Newton
Writer
 jessica2

 

Archives

Tests

Maybe it’s the teacher in me but I think tests are important. It is through assessment we as educators discover what has truly been learned by our students. My daughter is in assessment week at school. All those little bubbles on the answer sheet need to be filled in just right. However, not every test requires a sharpened number two pencil.

Regular self-examination is vital in our Christian walk. We need to take a good, long look at the motives behind our thoughts, words, and actions compared to what God’s Word says on those topics. Are our words used as flattery of speech, criticism, or as a source of authentic encouragement to build others up and not tear down (Eph. 4:29; Luke 6:45)? Are our actions out of pride or insecurity to make ourselves look good, for personal benefit/favor, or out of a sincere heart to serve or be supportive?

God tests our hearts but not because He doesn’t already know what is in them. The sovereign God of the universe already knows our hearts (2 Chron. 16:9). The tests are for our benefit. They help us assess and see what really belongs on our spiritual report cards. Tests also help us see what needs to change and be relearned. There is no cheat sheet. Christ calls us to genuinely love. We can’t pass that exam with ulterior motives, but we can take every thought captive to Christ and renew our minds. Those actions will always yield an A+ on our spiritual report cards (Romans 12:2; 2 Cor. 10:5).

Maybe it’s time to crack open the Book, and study a little more for some test prep. His Word and Spirit are our only hope in passing the test with flying colors. You have probably heard the old adage that when we get tested or bumped in life – what spills out of our heart is what is really rooted there. Had any tests this week? What grade would you give yourself in your response? Pass or fail? More importantly, what grade would God give you?

Shela-Lyn Boxberger
Christian Author, Speaker, Interpreter for the Deaf and Bible Study Teacher
http://clevercreations.me/

shela-lyn

Archives

Our Contributing Authors

shela-lyn

Shela-Lyn Boxberger
Christian Author, Speaker, Interpreter for the Deaf and Bible Study Teacher
Shela-Lyn has taught Bible studies to women of all ages and spoken to a wide-variety of audiences on television, retreats, and for non-profit organizations regarding numerous subjects; but closest to her heart are the topics of Christian hope and encouragement. Shela-Lyn holds degrees in interpreting for the deaf and education with a specialization in sign language and is a graduate of Arizona State University (Go Sun Devils!). She authored the book It’s The Thought That Counts – Clever Creations to Bless and Encourage Others and is owner of Clever Creations; a gifts, party-favors, and party-planning company (Clevercreations.me). She enjoys eating ice-cream, celebrating any occasion, autumn leaves, hydrangeas, international travel, cooking, crafting and reading. Currently she is planning her oldest daughter’s wedding and is excited about welcoming a son into the family. Shela-Lyn resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband, Brad, two daughters, and dogs Jake & Sadie.


Stefanie Calens
Writer

Stefanie is an Arizona native who has been married to her best friend since 2007. They are raising their two boys together and couldn’t imagine doing life without each other. Previously, she managed a financial branch for a well-known banking institution and transitioned into mortgage lending prior to the birth of their second son. She has been extremely blessed to have the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom for the past five years. Currently, she is enrolled at Colorado Christian University to obtain a degree in Biblical Studies. The Lord has placed a passion on her heart for women. Stefanie spends a lot of her time focusing on ways to encourage, strengthen, and inspire women who long for a deeper connection with Christ.



Tabitha Dumas
Writer and Speaker
www.tabithadumas.com

Tabitha Dumas is a wife of 13 years, mama to two sons and blogger who is passionate about helping women show UP to God's purpose for their lives. A fashion-savvy go-getter, she grew up as a preacher's kid and got her teaching degree at a Bible college but currently offers coaching services and local workshops for faith-first women trying to grow their heart-based businesses. And she really loves chocolate.



Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG ministries, Leadership Team
Since she is retired from sales/marketing postions, Sherree understands how powerful words and presentations can be.  Her ministry loves are being the Director of loveSTRONG ministries, volunteering in the community helping others, and serving on her church Worship Team. She married her high school sweetheart and together they enjoy traveling and their three vibrant grandchildren.


Kathleen Kurlin
Author
Being an empty nester has given her time to pursue her love of golf and working on her short game. In addition to writing fiction novels, Kathleen hopes to publish her line of children’s picture books and a devotional for women struggling with eating disorders. Kathleen writes a personal blog each month in addition to a monthly blog for her church through their Women’s ministry.

Married to her best friend, Kathleen and her husband make their home in Phoenix and together enjoy their shared passion of golf, travelling, family, friends, one practically-perfect-in-every- way grandchild and one precocious Jack Russell Terrier.


Catharine Phillips
Board Member, Writer
Catharine has been married to the love of her life for 18 years and has spent the last 6 years as a stay-at-home mom to her precious 6-year-old son. She grew up in the Midwest, but relocated to the Phoenix area in 2006 and has grown to love the desert (though admittedly, not the heat). She is an avid reader and “journal-er” and never ceases to be amazed at how the fingerprints of God’s plan are constantly revealed through even the simplest of life’s experiences.


Chrissy Shero
loveSTRONG ministries, Leadership Team
Finding her journey with Jesus came after college for Chrissy. She is a wife, a mom and a spunky teacher. She is active in her church and thrives on teaching her husband and daughter the importance of Jesus.


Lois Thomson
Writer
Lois has a BA in Journalism & Communications, and for the past 25 years has worked as a proofreader and editor in the marketing department of a large, international law firm, based in the firm's Pittsburgh office. Outside of work, she has traveled extensively and is an avid sports fan (especially of the Pittsburgh Pirates), and is blessed with wonderful family and friends. She also thanks God for the gift of being able to do freelance writing, and is delighted when she can use it in praise to Him.