~ Written By Cassie Harris

I don’t think I’ve seen God’s redemption amidst hyphens, semicolons and question marks before. Don’t get me wrong, I love editing and I love my job. However, in my mind, my red pen isn’t a frequently used messianic symbol.

Recently, I spent three days with the Women of Grace USA’s editorial team working on the upcoming Spectrum Magazine. As we worked meticulously to edit the articles, our task often made me laugh. It’s rare to find a group of people who care about quirky things such as ‘parenthetical statements’ just as much as I do. A poorly placed parenthetical statement can make or break the quality of the article’s message.

No one cares about parenthetical statements, but the women I spent my time with understood the importance of perfecting them. In some ways, God’s love and redemption for us is like an editor’s red pen.

God takes His time to erase the little sins in our lives, even when we don’t think they matter. Though we may believe the ‘little things’ won’t distract the world from seeing Christ in us, God is passionate about seeing those discrepancies and taking the time to erase them. His passion is to make us more like His Son. 

In God’s eyes, it doesn’t matter if we don’t understand the need for the change. God knows the message He wants our lives to convey. He’s passionate about ‘editing out’ the little things because He takes joy in using His imperfect people. 

  ~Written by Viki Rife

I am in no way a farm girl, but one of the most courageous things I ever did was a desperate attempt to save a calf’s life. The calf had become listless, and my husband, just home from hernia surgery, called the vet. The doctor’s solution? Take a long tube with a bulb on one end and a bag on the other, fill the bag with a liquid mix, then open the calf’s mouth, push the bulb down the cow’s throat into its stomach and squeeze the bag. As if that wasn’t enough, he warned me several times to make sure the bulb didn’t go into the calf’s lungs, or I would drown it.

The calf was half-grown, so attempting to wrestle him into position was challenging. Then came the agony of forcing down his throat something that made him gag and fight. Then I had to listen for the sounds that would show it had reached the right place. I would then get a four-hour break before I had to go back to the barn and do it all over again.

I’ll leave it to you to imagine what an adventure that was! The crazy thing was, all this could have been prevented. After moving into a home in the country with a barn, we had bought calves hoping to save money on meat. Calves usually go from milk to ground corn to regular corn. We had assumed that because they seemed to be eating the whole kernel corn, they were ready for it. But they were not yet mature enough to chew the corn well enough for their stomach to digest it. They were eating, but they were not being nourished.

Sometimes, I find myself doing the same thing when I’m mentoring. I feel like I’m offering them wholesome food, but they may not have the ability to chew and digest the spiritual food. I push them along, expecting them to “get it,” and feel disappointed when they don’t. How much better to let the Spirit guide us to give those we are mentoring the right food for their maturity level! It can prevent major trauma to them—and to us!

~ Written by Viki Rife

The sign at the checkout said, “Stop hunger at home.” It went on to tell how many in my county don’t get enough to eat. Hunger is a terrible thing. 

But even worse is when a person no longer knows she’s hungry. It’s heartbreaking to see someone who has sunk so far into anorexia she is starving to death and doesn’t even know it. But I find myself being even more distressed by the spiritual anorexia around me. 

There are people in the world who would give anything for access to the truth about God, and we sometimes forget that we even need it. I think this concern is one of the reasons I enjoy the Women’s Leadership Studies classes so much. I know how they have met a hunger in my life, and I see them making a difference for other women, as well. I love sharing “aha” moments with other women, and finding common ground for discussion, as we dig into the truth about how God relates to us. 

After a recent class, one of the participants shared that she had struggled in school and had been hesitant to register for the class. Then she commented, 

“I absolutely loved studying the scripture with the group. I love learning and discussing issues. I have such a passion for teaching and leading women. I believe this is the first step that will propel me to discover more opportunities for learning and growing.” 

As we gather to share our knowledge, it may be awakening hunger in those around us. Let’s make it our goal to “stop spiritual starvation at home.” 

~ Written by Cassie Harris

“If you’re getting married, you’ll never have a career.”

“If you have a career, you shouldn’t have kids.”

I’ve heard both these statements countless times. Each warning brings its own set of resentments, questions and frustrations. If I’m called to my future husband, why can’t I also be called to my passion in the workplace? If my calling includes a career, why can’t I believe God may someday give me the strength to fulfill both roles as  wife and mother and as a professional?

These questions, along with many others, are getting louder as the definition of gender roles gets redefined yet again. Young adult women are telling each other to go and ‘take the world by the tail.’ Older and wiser adults look at young women and worry over a very real possibility of traditions and Biblical values being lost in the chaos.

At 25, I’m faced with a desire to answer these questions both as a Christian and as a woman. Each time I tread on that dangerous ground, I’m reminded of 1st Thessalonians 5:24 which states, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely bring it to pass.” Not once does God only relegate His providential call to men. 

Whatever He calls me to, whether it makes sense to my culture or not, will be “brought to pass.” It has been my joy to discover God takes me out of my comfort zone in order to break my desire for control, all the while proving He has a plan for my life that will glorify Him. 

It’s not about gender roles. It’s about allowing Him to work within my weaknesses to magnify His strength. No matter what I may want from my future, God asks me to hold it with open hands so He can do with it as He wills. It may be my life, but it’s His story.

~Written by Erin Shuler

“I’ve been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming about how I might feel when those lights rise in the sky. What if my future is not everything I dreamed it might be?”

Growing up, we all have dreams and hopes for our future. We constantly change our dreams as we get older and actually face reality. As children and young adults, sometimes we may feel as if we are viewing the world trapped inside a tower. We feel like we are looking through a window, just waiting for the chance to break free and actually feel alive. We long to feel like we are a part of something bigger.

We often imagine what things might be like in the real world. Our hopes rise high for what we want it to be like. But sometimes, the real world is not all we thought it would be. Sometimes, we get deeply disappointed. Sometimes, we lose sight of our purpose. Sometimes, life is not everything we dreamed it would be. The truth is, that’s okay!

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.’” When things do not turn out the way we wanted or planned, we often feel discouraged. We worry about what will happen next. But the incredible thing is, our God has already taken care of it all. 

We do not need to be anxious. We are already a part of something so much bigger than we could ever dream. We have been given the hope of eternal life. On top of that, Heaven will be so much more than we could ever imagine. Isn’t hope an incredible gift?

“And what of this gift of hope? What do I do then?” Well, that’s the good part. You get to go find a new dream.

Sometimes our dreams don’t come true. The amazing thing is, God can always place new ones on our hearts. We can accomplish anything through Him who strengthens us. God has a plan for all of us. If we are willing to listen, our dreams will align with His plans. 

Those plans give us eternal hope.

~Written by Viki Rife

“As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods” (1 Kings 11:4) What a sad statement about a man to whom God had appeared and promised to give him whatever he wanted! God had blessed Solomon richly, but it was his wives that turned his heart away from God. What does that say about the powerful influence of a wife? 

My hope is that the opposite is true. A wife also has the power to help her husband’s heart turn toward the living God. 1 Peter 3:1-2 puts it this way, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” Our behavior toward our husbands can draw their hearts to God. If you’re concerned about your husband’s spiritual condition, keep in mind that how you treat him is something God can use to draw your husband’s heart to Himself. Rejoice in the God who can use your powerful influence. 

 ~ Written by Cassie Harris

While living in the woods, four times a year we would cut down dead trees and start a large bonfire. Often the fire would burn for days. Although it was the most efficient way to take care of our property, there was always a trail of ash in our backyard. 

Our lives as Believers in Christ should be the same way. Matthew 5:14 calls Jesus’ followers “the light of the world.” In Bible times, to be a light did not mean a flip of a switch; it meant a large fire. That fire made and left behind an incredible amount of ash.

No one likes to think about the dirty side of that word picture Jesus provided. Ash isn’t beautiful. Ash isn’t easy to clean up. But the fact is, ash is the remnant of a fire. Ash is the reminder that the fire was lit.

It’s easier to think of the Christian walk when we’re going through a spiritual high. We like it when no one is observing our ash because the flames for God are too distracting to look for ash. But what about the days where God looks for the ash of a dying fire within our hearts in order to rebuild His flame in us again?

God also says that He will make us like new. Sometimes, that means using the ash of a fire we thought was nothing but a memory of the good times; the memorable spiritual highs, so to speak. The ash in our lives is proof that a fire once burned brightly. 

It’s also proof that the Fire can burn again.


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