My husband and I are addicted to a TV show on the History Channel called Alone.  This is a hardcore survival show featuring 10 participants. These survival experts are dropped at 10 separate isolated locations on a remote part of Vancouver Island. Each are equipped with several cameras for filming their journey. They each have 10 survival items of their choosing (no guns), and all are furnished with an emergency radio that can summon help if they are injured or choose to quit. They are utterly and completely Alone. No camera crews … no food related reward challenges … no one to talk to or help them in any way.

Their very survival depends on what they can catch or trap for food. A certain skill set is necessary to set up a camp that will protect them from the harsh environment, including dangerous animal predators and poisonous insects. The premise of the show is to see who can survive the longest all Alone.  The last man (or woman) standing is awarded a huge cash prize.  But at what cost?

The thing that seems to take most of these people out is that they cannot handle the total isolation. A certain degree of “temporary insanity” seems to take over as they lament the pain of being separated from loved ones. Grown men are reduced to infantile weeping once they start fixating on how much they miss their family. Once they let their emotions go there, it a rather quick slide to their elimination.                                                                                                       

There’s actually a reason for that. God did not create us to be solitary individuals, but rather He designed us to need each other.

Throughout the Bible Christians are referred to as a body of believers or the family of God.  Both of these imply more than one. While most of us don’t mind occasional alone time (and that’s okay), we don’t want to ever completely cut ourselves off from people. Too much alone time isn’t good for us. 

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27

If you lean towards being an introvert (like me), interacting with other people can prove challenging. Sometimes we may need a nudge from God to push us out of our comfort zone.  Church small groups, book clubs and Bible studies provide great opportunities to hone our social skills. And of course, there’s always Mama’s sage advice of: the best way to make a friend -- is to be a friend. 

A little quiet time Alone with God isn’t a bad thing. But don’t neglect fellowship and human interaction! Strive for that healthy balance. We need each other!

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  Genesis 2:18

Kathy Kurlin



Inflatable Snowman Faith

If you drove through our neighborhood this Christmas season, you’d see some pretty impressive displays.  When you live in the desert during the holidays, it takes a little extra to really catch the holiday spirit.  And people are delivering.  Lights on every tree and bush, PVC archways creating tunnels of flashing festivity over driveways and sidewalks, nativity scenes, tribes of inflatables waving and greeting, even Chewbacca and Yoda are making an appearance of Christmas spirit in a number of yards. Rooftop displays include even more lights, giant tinsel lighted snowflakes, and Santa and his reindeer (of course).

Our own display is low-key and understated (translate – we’re not willing to create a budget line for “Outdoor Holiday décor”).  We have a few strings of lights outlining our eaves and our little front porch while a single inflatable snowman smiles, unmoving, his hand in a fixed waving position, a singular bastion of inflatable Christmas friendly…

when he’s not laying down on the job.

Our Snowman has a little trouble staying upright.  We make the standard jokes that he’s into the eggnog again while I adjust the strings that stake him to the ground and (supposedly) keep him from falling over.  The biggest problem is that when he does fall, he seems to do so backwards, and the little fan that is supposed to inflate him is trapped downward in the rocks where he stands. The fan continues to spin, but with no air to draw from, bit by bit he deflates, until he’s just a pile of fabric bearing little resemblance to the friendly festive symbol of Christmas he is when he’s at his best.

I sometimes feel a little like my fallen snowman friend. Although I might be physically standing, emotionally, psychologically, even spiritually, I’m just in a heap, barely resembling the woman God created me to be. There are days that life feels completely overwhelming, my devotional life isn’t what it should be, my prayer life is in shambles and although I’m going through the motions to keep things rolling along, internally I feel deflated and empty.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he offers up this prayer for Spiritual strength:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:14-19

In this single paragraph, Paul explains the how, why and where-from of strength as he explains the role of each person of the trinity.  The Father.  The Spirit.  The Son-Jesus.

I read this today shortly before I went outside to once again revive our fallen snowman and as I readjusted the deflated fabric so his little fan could get air, I suddenly saw myself – not my best self, but my sometimes collapsed and discouraged and flattened self.

The collapse often hits gradually – for me it begins when I get a little “off center”.  When the place from which my little spiritual fan should be getting air gets crowded out by other things.

I wish I could say that this never happens to me, but it does.

And not usually in times of real crisis.  In those times I am in the Word and on my knees – often literally. And my God always meets me there.  Not always with the result I want, but certainly with the strength to move through it – whatever “it” turns out to be.  Over the last 8 years that I’ve tried to faithfully follow Christ, I can truly say that my worst times in life have been my some of my best times with Jesus.

No, for me the real danger zone in my spiritual life seems to be when things are…regular.  Status quo.  Nothing amazing and nothing bad. It is then that I become lazy in my prayer life and less diligent in the Word.  I feel a little tinge of stress and maybe I eat a cookie (or three) to make myself feel better.  A lousy day and I’m off to the couch for a date with Netflix.  A blow-out with my son and I retreat to Facebook (because looking at everyone’s highlight-reel of their perfect lives and perfect kids will surely make me feel better about my dirty dishes, unfolded laundry and the tirade of 8-year-old back-talk I just dealt with, right?).

Suddenly I realize I’m just “off”, and although I’m doing all these different things to feed my feel-better fan, none of it is really doing the job – at least not in any sustainable way. I find myself down and discouraged, and yes, just like my snowman friend, deflated.

I need to readjust and make sure the air I’m getting is the air I need.  If my fan is in the dirt, it doesn’t matter how fast it spins, it’s not going to fill me.

Nothing fills me like the Almighty God can.  Nothing fills my emptiness like a God who has infinite riches from which to revitalize me. Nothing refreshes my soul like the Holy Spirit who speaks to the depths of my spirit and pours out his refreshment upon me. Nothing soothes my hurting heart like my precious Savior, Jesus, who loved me enough to sacrifice himself for me. I want the revitalization, the refreshment, the soothing, the fullness that Paul tapped into to find joy and peace in a prison cell as he wrote this letter to his beloved friends in Ephesus.

I'm probably not going to get THAT from a cookie, no matter how good it is.

We are filled when we immerse ourselves in the things of God – when we read and meditate upon his Word, when we pour ourselves out to Him in prayers of both gratitude and grief, when we worship Him for His holiness, His power and His unfathomable love for us.

What we need most is found only in the fresh air of God.  Let Him fill you with it.

(There’s more!  Read it in entirety at:

Catharine Phillips
loveSTRONG ministries



Me, Myself & Hey-Soos

The daughter of a friend of mine, Lacey, spent a few years working her way through the ranks at a fast-food restaurant, until she finally became a manager.  During her tenure in restaurant management, young Lacey had a new-hire employee whose name was Jesus – spelled like Jesus, as in Christ, but pronounced like Hey-Soos, which is a popular Hispanic name.

Young Lacey was born and raised as a Christian and lived many of her early formative years in Alaska, so she wasn’t aware that there was a southwestern pronunciation for this name. What’s more, she couldn’t fathom why any mother would name their child after the Son of God. Whenever Lacey worked with this young man, she quite naturally called him Jesus (as in Christ) since that was the only way she’d ever seen or heard this name pronounced.
Anyone who has ever worked at a fast-food restaurant knows just how crazy busy things can get during a lunch or dinner rush. As a manager, Lacey was in a position to delegate work assignments. 

She was frequently heard saying things like, “Jesus, I need you on the drive-through register!”  Or “Jesus, I need your help up front at the counter!”  When things were just plain chaotic and out of control, Lacey could be heard simply saying, “Jesus, I need help!”

While Lacey’s fellow employees and customers always found her managerial orders quite funny, I can’t help but think that this young woman may have stumbled on to the secret of life’s success.  How many times a day do most of us encounter situations that require a little divine intervention?  Imagine how much smoother a problem could be worked out if we only took a minute to simply say, Jesus, I need help! 
The New Testament gives us many Scriptures reminding us that Jesus is ready and willing to help us if we simply call on Him.  “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) and “They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household."  (Acts 16:31). 
We should make it a regular practice to memorize Scripture for those times when we don’t know what to pray … we just know we need the Lords’ help.
Do you need encouragement? Help on your job or with your relationships or raising your kids?  Whatever your need, with just a couple of quick words … help is on the way!
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord.    Psalm 121:1-2

Kathy Kurlin



Nature Revealed

The clouds are a shade of absolute perfection. The sun is playing hide and seek in the mid-morning sky, and the wind’s breath softly caresses your face in between periods of stillness. Your body becomes one with the earth. Your toes find themselves nestled beneath the tiniest grains of sand. The sound as each wave arises and departs sedates the soul.

Can you hear it? Can you smell it? Most importantly, can you see HIM?

Scriptures express two distinct, two very separate yet profound ways in which God communicates and shares Himself with us through what is known as general and special revelation. The latter is for another Note however, Paul departs his wisdom with regards to the concept of general revelation in his letter to the Romans in 1:20:

“From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse what-so-ever for not knowing God” (NLT).

Nature reveals to all of creation a God of order, a God of magnificent power, a God of intelligence, a God of overwhelming beauty, and a God that unmasks Himself in the most intricate of details.

Have you ever become mesmerized by the flawless symmetry of a snowflake? Or what about the fingerprint imparted on a leaf? No two are identical. And have you ever stopped to consider how the ocean understands just how far its reach is allowed on land? Or do you discover yourself deep within a forest, captivated by the rustling of the tree tops, as if they harbor their own form of spoken language? The Father reveals not simply His divine and perfect nature, but also His personal qualities with each and every one of us through nature.

As believers, we can stand upon Scriptures and their assertions regarding the omnipresence of our Lord yet when chaos enters our lives, we fail to recognize Him. You may have even found yourself begging Him to “show up," not realizing He never once left.

Truth is, friends, make it a point to unplug and spend more time with nature. Whether it be from a boat or in your own backyard, be intentional. God desires to show Himself to you.

The real question is, can you see HIM?

Going deeper: Genesis 1:31; Psalm 19:1-4

Stefanie Calens
loveSTRONG ministries


Where Do I Turn?

When going through a hard time we should automatically turn our thoughts over to God. Right?

A few months ago, we had to say goodbye to our dog that we've had for 12 years. This was one of the hardest moments for me. The next day I found myself driving down the road thinking I should go shopping and that would "fix" my hurt.

In that same moment I heard, "No, turn to Me."

Why is it, more often than not, we turn to stuff to fix our hurt rather than seek Jesus? I came across this verse the next day, "Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.”  Psalm 62:5 NIV

This verse was my reminder that when the world around me seems to be falling apart I can find a renewed hope in HIM.

Chrissy Shero
loveSTRONG ministries


What Did You Say?

A couple months ago, while I was crowding around a table with others during a charity bake sale at work, I noticed a particular woman from one of the service departments who was also looking over the items.  I didn't pay much attention to her at first because I was busy focusing on the specialty cookies, cupcakes and nut breads our co-workers had made, and trying to decide among them. 

Each item cost $1 and I had brought a $10 bill with me, willing to spend all of it depending on what was there.

But while I was looking, I was distracted by this co-worker who mentioned a couple of times how good everything looked, but she didn't know if she should buy anything.  She repeated it so often that I was getting a little annoyed. 

For one thing, the area was crowded, and she was blocking the way for others by just standing there.  I felt like asking her to please move to the side while she was making up her mind, or even suggesting if she couldn't decide, she could buy a few things because the money was going to charity. 

And then I heard Elaine, another woman who was there, quietly say, "Carol, you do so much work for me all the time.  Why don't you let me get something for you as a thank you?"  Immediately Carol's face lit up and she enthusiastically replied "Yes!"

I can't tell you how ashamed and humbled I was as Carol eagerly accepted the brownie with the thick chocolate icing.  Money apparently was a little tight for her and she hesitated at the idea of spending a dollar – even if it was going to a charity. 

Instead of being so busy perusing the wares and seeing how much I could buy for myself, I should have been following Elaine's example and listening more closely to what those around me were really saying.

"(She) who has ears to hear, let (her) hear." – Matthew 11:15

Lois Thompson


Clutter Down


I like opening a closet door to see everything in its place.  When towels and washcloths are arranged just so and neatly stacked, I’m happy.  It is nice when sheets and pillow cases are folded the same and look uniform.  The closet with décor items and games looks so orderly when I open it to change seasonal decorations.

But we all know it does not always stay that way.  In a hurry, things get put away and I think I’ll go back and fix it later.  That time lasts longer and longer and the decorations and games closet looks like a small bomb went off when I open the door. 

I plan a time to fix it back to being orderly.  And then I am happy again.

My life accumulates clutter sometimes too.  Too many irons in the fire and not enough time to keep it straight.  If I stop and put the clutter into priorities, make changes and remain dedicated to those priorities then all runs more smoothly.  I no longer feel anxious and I accomplish tasks with a clear head.

What does it mean to "clutter down?" It means carving out time to evaluate what is most important.  Deciding what (or who) needs to go.  Taking a hard look at yourself and making choices based on prayer. 

God is not in the business of being a magic genie who only brings what you desire.  God is in the business of love.  If you are finding yourself lacking in love within your world, then something needs to be moved or changed.  And that something is probably you.  Clutter shows up when you are not focused.

Before you blame this person or that action for your lack of love, pray and ask God to make it clear where you are weak.  He has made you and He knows every single part of you and is the only one qualified to bring the answers to you.  You will not get an email.  Or a text message.  You will have a sense of direction if you are sincere about listening to Him and wanting a change.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV version)

Memorize that verse and repeat it out loud when you feel the clutter piling on.  Trust God to show what stays and what needs to change in your world.  Knowing that everything is based upon love, you will find comfort that God is moving and changing for your benefit.

And the clutter will disappear.

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG ministries


Undeserved Grace

He was a particularly evil, nasty, disagreeable human being. He verbally abused all those who tried to help him. He lived a sinful, depraved lifestyle and wreaked havoc on those closest to him right up until he died.  He deserved to die a slow, painful death and to be cast into the depths of Hell – but if he called upon the name of the Lord Jesus with his last dying breath, he would be sharing Heaven with me some day.

This isn’t a made for TV Lifetime movie with a happy ending. I’m actually talking about the man my mother married when I was 12. This man single-handedly destroyed mine and my sibling’s childhoods as well as my oldest daughter’s. He was responsible for sending my mother to an early grave and lived for 13 long years after her death, spewing hatred and squandering everything she’d worked hard to acquire.  Yet, the Word of God tells me I’m to pray for him and forgive him as Christ has forgiven me. (Ephesians 4:32)

In Luke 23, the gospel gives the account of Christ’s crucifixion. One of the criminals mocks Jesus saying:

“So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!.”

“But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die?  We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:39-43

This story reminds us that criminals – yes even particularly wicked sinners like my step-father --can get a “get out of jail free” card if they call on the name of Jesus, even though we think they don’t deserve it.  This card isn’t foolproof though, as no one knows for certain exactly when they will die and if they’ll have even that split second to call on the name of Jesus.

I made repeated attempts to witness to my step-father throughout his life, practically choking on the words, “Jesus loves you and died for you.” I have forgiven him for what he perpetrated upon me and my family and asked God to have mercy upon him – yet … his eternal resting home will remain a mystery.  Only God knows what’s in a man’s heart and whether there is forgiveness or repentance there. 

The mortality rate still stands at 100%. We must all stand before the Lord one day.  Use your “get out of jail free” card today and call upon the name of the Lord so that you might be saved!

 "Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved."  Romans 10:13 (NLT)

Kathy Kurlin


Wish, Hope, Dream

A meaning of “Wish”:
to want; desire; long for
For example:  I wish chocolate peanut butter gelato didn’t have so many carbs in it.

A meaning of “Hope”:
the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best 
For example:  I hope my mom’s ovarian cancer stays in remission.

A meaning of “Dream”:
to think or conceive of something in a very remote way 
For example:  I dream about living in Tuscany, Italy.

Do we spend our lives wishing, hoping and dreaming and miss what is right in front of us?  Yes, some wishes, hopes and dreams are important to identify so we can have goals to strive for.  Sometimes, though, we need to stop the daydreaming and do something.

David was a small guy who was overlooked because of his age and stature.  He wasn’t exactly the kind of boy who could slay a very large man.  Yet, he picked up simple ammunition and took down a huge threat.  No one believed he was even remotely skilled or big enough to take on a full-grown man who had a vast amount of fighting experience.  Even David’s older brothers mocked him and told him to get lost.    (Read I Samuel 17)

You see, David came with more than rocks and a sling.  He came with the desire to show up and be an example of God’s power.  His routine was to be the younger brother of 4, take care of sheep and deliver food to the soldiers at the battlefront.  He was young and certainly his body wasn’t exactly big enough to be a fighter.  

However, his experience with taking care of a herd gave him practice in protecting the sheep from large animals with his own hands, sling, rocks and his staff.  

You have experiences you draw from to make yourself prepared every day.  You may also have dreams of becoming someone important and possibly wishes and hopes to make something better.  Use those experiences but don’t just look for big and loud ways to do things.  The smallest thing can start a giant ripple effect.

Wish for opportunities to show God’s love to someone you see every day.

Hope that God is seen in your actions and heard in your words.

Dream about how someday you will hear the words “Good and faithful servant” when you take your last breath.

“Go and the Lord be with you.”

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG ministries


Bridges & Boots

“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:18) NLT

Recently, I had myself a sound cry. It was one of those ugly kind of cries where no emotion was spared. Each tear drop that departed from my eyes felt as though it was carrying the weight of my soul within. And as every pain-riddled droplet vacated, I was left wondering how I would gather the strength to continue that day.

It was at that exact moment when I felt as though I could walk no more, a vision of a bridge appeared, and the faintest whisper could be heard requesting me to “get up.” There I was, standing on one side of that bridge desperately longing to embrace what awaited me…..until I looked down only to realize my boots were tattered and worn from walking through many previous storms. Surely I couldn’t face this bridge with my ratty old boots. I required a brand new pair for the journey ahead.

You see, each plank on our bridge of life is a lesson waiting to be learned. A life experience handcrafted by The Bridge Maker Himself. An experience designed to embrace triumph despite whatever kind of tragedy lies in its wake. In order to reach the other side, we are required to walk as Jesus did. There are no shortcuts my friends and obstacles are guaranteed. There will always be those who deem the task too difficult and turn around to where the terrain is less demanding. And then there are those who lace up their boots and get to walkin’. Don’t forsake your eternal reward based on the intensity of today’s temporary pain. Your bridge was not constructed for you to simply view it at a distance. It was manifested out of the deepest pain Christ would ever have to endure in order for you to reach the other end.

Do YOU need a new pair of boots? If so, be encouraged for they are specifically designed to withstand the splinters of your life’s bridge. Step into your destiny, lace em’ up and get to walkin’ friends. The journey is not void of hardship. The end result, however, certainly is!

Stefanie Calens
loveSTRONG ministries