Throw Off What Entangles

I only run when I'm chased and I've never done any competitive swimming but I know one thing: you're faster when you don't have anything holding you back. Some swimmers even shave their entire bodies just to cut down on the extra friction. Runners typically wear as little clothing as possible-often just skimpy running shorts and their shoes! (Oh, yes, now I remember why I don't swim or run.)

I imagine a scantily-clad runner when I read this verse:

Hebrews 12:1-3 New International Version (NIV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

I also picture long-lost loved ones being reunited and throwing aside their bag or jacket so they can get to each other faster. Or when a boat starts to sink and all the non-essentials are thrown overboard.

Then I think about what's holding ME back from living my best life for God--the kind where I'm unencumbered by things like bad habits, unhealthy relationships, past mistakes, the clutter of too much stuff or projects that are no longer worth my energy.

I know for me, I can so easily be tangled up in obligation and old ways of thinking. If my eyes were truly fixed on Jesus and I was focused on running MY race, the one marked out for me...there's a lot I could throw off.

All of us are held back in different ways. I know I get distracted by over thinking and busyness. Procrastination prevents me from getting started and perfectionism keeps me from finishing but I love the rest of Hebrews 12:1-3:

...For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

There is joy set before us, too. Jesus endured so much yet never grew weary or lost heart. We can remember that when we feel like we're buried and things will never improve. He is on the throne and in control so I don't have to be. I just need to keep my eyes on Him and keep running, skimpy shorts and all.

Tabitha Dumas


Flourish Spring Event Top 10 Questions & Answers

1.  What do you get?
  • Giveaways - It's always fun to win a prize and we have fun giving prizes!
  • Catered Lunch - Arizona Broadway Theater is our caterer.
  • Speaker - Cherie Wagner is an insightful author and speaker.
  • Music - Dianne Michelle creates a beautiful atmosphere with her music.
  • Silent Auction - It's fun to bid (and win!) auction items and the money supports the ministry.

2.  What is the refund policy?
We are sorry but unable to refund money for unused tickets.

3.  Can I transfer my ticket?
Yes!  If something happens and you can't go, please just give all the information to another woman.  After March 22 we won't be able to change the lunch choice, however. (Your replacement will enjoy your lunch choice!)

4.  Do I need to bring my ticket?
You sure don't.  When you arrive the check-in list will have your name on it.

5.  What are the lunch choices?
Oh, it's going to be a tasty lunch!  Here are your yummy choices:
Grilled Chicken Salad - Gluten Free Option - Lightly seasoned chicken breast, mandarin oranges, green beans and slivered almonds on a bed of mixed greens; served with a Gluten Free house-made raspberry vinaigrette.

Bacon, Tomato & Turkey Sandwich - Thinly sliced oven-roasted turkey breast, maple cured bacon, green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and mayonnaise, all on a flaky croissant and served with a fruit cup.

6.  What do I wear?
Clothes, of course!  🙂  Casual or business casual is what everyone usually wears.

7.  Is there childcare?
Your littles will have to be cared for somewhere else.  There aren't accommodations for child care.  (You need a time out anyway!)

8.  How old do I need to be to attend?
Any age from 18 years old to ..........

9.  When does registration end?
It absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt ends at midnight on March 22.

10.  Why do I need to register?
It's all about knowing how many tables to have ready, how much food to be prepared, and how many giveaways to have wrapped.

Pray First

I recently heard a speaker teach on what it is really like to tend a vineyard and how it relates to much of what we hear about in the Bible. When I came across this particular passage during my morning quiet time it popped right off of the page for me because of what I just learned. I love when that happens!

In Isaiah 5:1-2 it says…

“My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside.
He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well.
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.”  

Let’s start at the beginning. First, the planter chose a fertile hillside, dug it up and cleared it of rocks. Sounds like the right thing to do, right? Nope. What I learned is that grape vines need really rocky soil so the roots are made to grow down to a rich water source. The planter did what he thought was right in his own eyes (or what a farmer would do in any other farm field) but it wasn’t right in this situation. He was trying to avoid problems or obstacles in his path. He didn’t consult the Lord.

Next up, he built a watchtower and a winepress as well. He was so sure that what he was doing was the right thing to do that he planned a future around his first decision! That turned out to be a mistake. Don’t we sometimes do this ourselves?

Lastly, he looked for his harvest but only found bad fruit. Why was that? When we don’t consult the Lord in the beginning stages of a decision and instead rely on ourselves, we won’t produce His fruit even though producing His fruit is all we really want in the end, right?

Later on in chapter 9 of Isaiah, verse 21 says “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” I’m not sure about you, but I want to be considered wise in God’s eyes – not my own.

My prayer is that each of us will consult the Lord before we begin so that in the end we produce only His fruit.

Jenn Texidor
loveSTRONG Ministries


Faithful Love

At 2:00am everything becomes a prayer of deliverance, a challenge, and an excuse to get angry at God.

The dog won’t stop barking. You could stop it but you won’t.

The baby is crying again and you could give her peace so we can both get rest, but you won’t. 

I’m coming down with a cold you could heal me of but you won’t.

 I can’t sleep. I can’t stop worrying or crying. 

I find myself stuck somewhere between depressed and furious. You could make everything better, but you won’t. 

God is never more powerful than when we accuse him of being unwilling. Luckily Jesus doesn’t let us bully him into giving us our way. We beg God for a break, for rest, for sleep, for peace, for love, for money, for healing. We rage at him about our pain, all the while holding onto it desperately. We rationalize that we are only asking for what we have earned. We refuse to let our earthly demands go and lean on Him for all our needs.  If we actually accepted that God was there during a difficult time, we couldn’t blame Him. So, we start marking up a score card of our own creation, asking God, "Where were you here? Where were you there? Where were you when this happened?" whining about how we did our part, upheld our side of the bargain--a bargain that God didn’t ask for or agree to. We say, “I went to church, I helped, I tithed, I served, I listened, I, I, I. God, you promised but you didn’t come through.”

Our favorite time to go to God is when we think we are owed something, when we can’t see him working in our lives because we haven’t sat down and shut up long enough to notice. But like the most loving and patient parent, Jesus is waiting for our tantrum to end and for our complaining and bargaining to be over so the he can show us that our prayers have been answered.

We didn’t get exactly what we wanted but we got exactly what we needed.
The faithful love of the Lord never ends.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)

Huni McGee


A Step Above The One Below

Two years ago, I bought a Fitness Tracker that syncs to my phone and records my daily activity.  My tracker runs on a watch battery and is fully waterproof allowing me to wear it 24/7.  The only time I take it off is to move it to my ankle when I’m biking and treadmill walking. I want every step to count!  The difference it makes wearing it on my ankle versus my wrist during workouts is roughly15,000 steps.

A few weeks ago, after I’d completed a grueling two-hour workout, I realized I’d neglected to transfer my fitness band to my ankle. Checking my wrist, I was disappointed to see I’d only recorded slightly over 4,000 steps; a mere fraction of an average workout.  Feeling crushed, it felt as if the last two hours were a complete waste of time – like I’d done nothing at all.

I nursed my anger for a bit until it dawned on me that not having a high number on my tracker in no way negated the work I’d done. My effort was the same with or without an activity number validation. My body benefitted from the exercise just the same.

Not for the first time, I’d been duped by the enemy whose sole job is to negate everything positive in our daily lives.

The enemy likes to minimize the good we do in life while maximizing our faults and failures. He taunts us into believing that our volunteer time is too little; our tithing inefficient or sporadic; our Bible study or daily devotions are ineffective; our prayers too lame or our church attendance irregular. All of these negative signals can make us feel as if our salvation is sketchy at best.

Satan wants us to believe that whatever we are doing for the Lord is all for naught and we are wasting our time.  But I like to say that just because I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast three weeks ago doesn’t discount the fact that my meal provided nourishment for my physical body. In the same way, each time we give to the Lord – be it through Scripture reading, volunteering our time, the giving of our finances or encouraging someone who is struggling -- we are feeding our spiritual body, and God is pleased with us.

So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT)

While we may have a powerful enemy, we have an even more powerful Savior who reminds us that “Greater is He that is in us, than He that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) If you hear the enemy whisper that you are wasting your time with spiritual pursuits, feel free to tell him, “Get behind me, Satan!”  Anything we do for the Lord is a good thing!

Kathy Kurlin


Wisemen Already Deployed

You are under a curse–your whole nation–because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the LORD Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. Malachi 3:10

Do we really think God would have any trouble filling His home with food?! I’m pretty sure the God who spoke the universe into existence never has to worry about running out of any resource. So, if we can’t rob God in that sense, I've come to think we can rob ourselves out of the blessings He longs to lavish on us.

In Leviticus 12 it says that a burnt offering of a lamb is to be brought to the Lord after childbirth. However, if a lamb cannot be afforded God allowed for two doves instead. Never think what is in your hand is too little to be of value when offered to the Lord.

Now jump forward to Joseph and Mary after the birth of Jesus in Luke 2. It seems they were too poor to bring a lamb and offered two doves. In faith Joseph offered the little that he had. He could easily have rationalized with God… “God I need to raise Your Son! I need all the money I can get and I really do not have much as it is! God You saw He was just born in a stable! I need these two doves to provide! You understand, right God!?!” But that is not what Joseph said. In faith Joseph offered all that he had.

Little did Joseph know that God had already deployed the wise men! How great is our God, right? Matthew 2:11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 

Who would have thought? Only God would/could throw open flood gates of blessing like that! But… it took Joseph stepping out in faith FIRST, trusting that somehow God knew all the details and would provide.

We cannot out-give God…not ever.

Independent Read: Psalm 91:1,4,14-16, Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:25-34

Janette Keiffer



loveSTRONG Ministries

Jenn was born in New York, but has made her home in Arizona since she was 12.  She is the lucky wife of one hilarious, movie-quoting husband and mom to two amazing kiddos! In her spare time, Jenn loves Pinterest, chocolate peanut butter Haagen Dazs, and blessed quiet time! Jenn also loves to laugh and learn from her mistakes while striving to be more like Christ every day.


Huni McGee

I am entirely made of flaws, stitched together with good intentions. 

If there was an award for “Most likely to avoid God at every turn” I would be given it. Jesus hasn’t given up on me and I’m not giving up on Him. It’s been a wild ride for Him and me and I’m thankful that He lets me keep running back to Him. 

I am married to a wonderful guy who reminds me daily that patience and love come straight from Jesus, because, man do I drive him crazy. But his heart belongs to the Lord first and me second and I’m good with that. I’m mother to two of the weirdest and greatest kids you’ll ever meet. My eight year old daughter, Maggie Rose, who helped to heal my broken spirit and her little brother, my 7 year old Tommy boy who has a heart as big as his ears, and a friendly smile for whoever he meets. 

Life is tough but Jesus is tougher and I’m finally learning to let Him fight my battles. I’m learning how to live this crazy life without worrying and stressing about fitting in, keeping up or being better than my fellow earth dwellers. I like my music loud, my coffee strong and try to start each morning with a hopeful heart. I believe that women should lift each other up, and straighten each other’s crowns. We are warrior daughters of the Almighty and nothing makes me happier than helping my sisters keep their chins and their spirits up. I’m loud, honest, and you’ll find my name on the office swear jar, but Jesus is working in me and that doesn’t scare me like it used to. I’m on the hunt for who I’ve not yet become.

Speed Bumps? No Problem!

You come to me with sword, spear and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord Almighty. -1 Samuel 17:45

I wake up this morning with the greatest memory in my head--a memory including speed bumps. A few friends and I, away for a God-filled weekend, found ourselves in a parking lot, waiting, giggling and excited for the weekend. Excited to be together, and excited to spend the weekend with the Lord Almighty, we waited in that parking lot for a friend, driving in circles. It had speed bumps to slow or even stop cars. As we cruised around, we found ourselves flying over those speed bumps over and over, shouting silly things as we laughed for joy, shouting, “Again! AGAIN!”

Normally, I hate speed bumps. They slow me down and shake me up as I stumble over them. But we flew over those speed bumps. Our waiting for that long time seemed like minutes. Our waiting was so much fun! We flew over those speed bumps time and time again with joy and triumph!

In chapter 17 Goliath was a huge giant of a speed bump for the Israelites to have to cross over. He had stopped them in their tracks. The nine-foot giant in his fancy armor, with sword, spear, and javelin, seemed like too much for anyone. Then came David, the smallest and youngest, with no armor, no sword, and no real plan. Ah, but he had a defense, the Lord Almighty! He flew over that speed bump, in the Name of the Lord Almighty!

This seriously gives me goosebumps! You see, there are going to be speed bumps in life. Speed bumps of all sizes, sometimes just one, sometimes one after another after another. They can be exhausting, slow you down, or even stop you dead in your tracks. You may be so exhausted, unable to take another step or another bump. You are not alone. Go! In the name of and with the Lord Almighty! You will not only fly over that speed bump, You will have joy while doing so! The battle is not ours but the victory is, because we are children of the King!

Again, I find myself resting in Isaiah 40:31. Those who wait on the Lord will find NEW strength (strength they didn't even realize they had) They will fly high on wings like eagles. (Soaring over that speed bump or mountain or through that storm) They will run and not grow weary (even if they normally are not a runner) They will walk and not faint. -Isaiah 40:31 (emphasis by Lisa)

You are victorious! Not because you're 9 feet tall, or have the top-of-the-line armor or weapons. You are victorious as you go with the Lord Almighty! Go over that speed bump with joy shouting "Again, again!" For you are a child of the King!

Thank you Lord! Thank you Lord! Thank you Lord!

In the name of the Lord Almighty!

Lisa Foster


Afraid Yet Filled with Joy

Did you know that the saline crystal of a tear when viewed through a microscope is the shape of a cross? Learning that fact touched my heart because if there is anyone who understands the well of emotions behind tears it is Jesus, the One who took the cross in my place. I think He designed it that way to say "I understand and I love you".  Psalm 56:8 says -"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." He cares for the cause of each one, too. Tears come with many emotions..glad, sad, fear...

And speaking of fear, my daughter shared a verse from her morning devotional that got me thinking. Matthew 28: 8 says "So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell the disciples." - Wait, what?! When was the last time you were afraid yet filled with joy?! The women in Matthew 28:8 were afraid because they did not understand and didn't know what was going on but they had joy because the angels had said Jesus was ALIVE! It's like Philippians 4:7 says, you can't seek peace that comes FROM understanding, it is BEYOND understanding, it's only in the presence of the Prince of Peace in your life! Jacob said when he woke up from his dream... "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." (Genesis 28:16) To be in God’s presence and not know!

Do we choose to have eyes and ears open to perceive Him all around us? If I cannot find the source of my joy in Jesus regardless of my situations and circumstances than I never will. My four-year-old finds pure joy in rubbing his entire face in his freshly washed, snuggly warm blanket. That's joy in the little things. God is longing for us to notice Him. He's all around us. Choose to let Him wrap you up tight like in a straight-out-of-the-dyer blanket.

***For independent read: Isaiah 61:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Philippians 4:8, Psalm 42:11, Psalm 144:15, Nehemiah 8:10, Joshua 1:9

Janette Kieffer