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Archive for the ‘Belonging’ Category

~ Written by Viki Rife

It’s time to speak up about fathers. Our society has become increasing hostile to the role of fathers in the family. Movies and sitcoms portray fathers as more of a hindrance than a help to their families. The concept of an absentee or clueless father seems to be the norm today.

As strong women who live by God’s values, we can have a part in helping our men reclaim their place in the family. This is not accomplished by reminding them of their failures.

Instead, we need to treat them with respect and consideration, and model for our children and grandchildren the importance we attach to their role. We need to affirm their strengths and their wise choices. Our support of dads can free our men to receive with joy the responsibility God has placed on them as fathers. 

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl 

It was a heartbreaking and tumultuous time. I found comfort in a weekly walk to a babbling brook at the foot of a mountain. When it seemed as if everyone was against me, seeing God’s peaceful yet constant stream of water made me breathe more slowly, think more clearly, and let God speak words my heart couldn’t hear otherwise. Within those moments, I was reminded of God’s gentleness, peace, and quiet creativity.

Recently, almost a decade later, I stood before the majestic Niagara Falls in Canada and laughed joyously at the roaring water and the mist that hit my face. There was nothing peaceful and quiet about being a stone’s throw away from such a breathtaking display of God’s creation! But still, in a quiet moment with my husband next to me, I felt God’s power and His gentle but confident and loving voice whisper, “I’m still here. I will never leave you.”

The God of the roaring Niagara Falls is the same God of the babbling, peaceful brook. When we need Him to instill peace in the midst of our turmoil, He can. When we can step away from our circumstances and glory in His power and faithfulness, He’s in those moments as well. In every season, in every circumstance, He is exactly what we need when we need it.

No wonder we call Him Savior!

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~ Written by Viki Rife

I know when people drive by on our road they think we´re crazy. There are at least two reasons for that. First of all, every fall when the apples start to fall off our trees, we let them sit on the ground and rot. The mess is visible from the road. We might be in the yard raking leaves, but the apples lie undisturbed.

The second reason appears at this season of the year. That same area under the apple trees does not get mowed. We carefully skirt around it, leaving tall grass blowing in the spring breeze. 

We have a very good reason for breaking the cultural rules of our neighborhood. If we leave apples on the ground, and if we don´t mow that area, the conditions are ripe for the growth of Morel mushrooms. Retailing at about $50 a pound, this delicacy draws people into the woods in droves for the spring tradition of mushroom hunting.

In other words, what doesn’t make sense to others makes perfect sense to us. All we have to do is wait patiently until the right time, then step out our door and gather our highly-prized feast.

It makes me wonder how many times I judge people’s actions without recognizing the treasure growing in their “mess.” Maybe I should try harder to give them the benefit of the doubt! 

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~ Written by Viki Rife

The other day I had some extra time between appointments, so I stopped at an area park to enjoy the scenery and sunshine. An older couple pulled up in their boat to the pier. The man got out and backed a truck with a boat trailer up to the boat ramp. Then he got back in the boat and drove up the ramp. He fastened the boat to the trailer and drove the truck up a little ways. He then busied himself taking fishing poles out of the boat, etc. All the time the wife sat in the boat.

Finally, he took a small crane-like apparatus out of the back of the truck. He carefully spread out some strips of canvas and the women scooted onto them. He grabbed both ends, hooked them onto the crane, and with the push of a button was able to lift her off the boat and lower her into a waiting wheelchair.

He pushed the wheelchair around to the other side of the truck and helped her scoot herself onto something that looked like a stool. She pushed a button and it slowly lifted her level with the truck seat. Once she was safely in the truck, the man loaded the crane, stool and wheelchair into the truck. It had taken them 45 minutes to go through this process. I’m guessing they did the same thing in reverse when they started their fishing trip.

Their commitment to fishing blew me away. Why would anyone go to so much hassle? As I left for my next appointment, a tender voice probed, “Are you that committed to being a fisher of men?” I’ve been pondering it ever since. 

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~ Written by Cassie Harris

There were two men in my life. They both wanted to officiate my wedding. They both decided – separately – that if they never met the man I married, I wasn’t allowed to get married. Both Terry and Ray jokingly-but-not-so-jokingly fought each other as they planned for my future wedding together. Who would get most of the limelight as the officiator of my wedding? Who would get to kiss my cheek first? Who would get to harass my groom the best?

Usually, I just laughed instead of focusing on the confusion their bantering created. I was loved, that’s what I remembered. I was 16 and both these men had higher dreams for my future than I did. When I nearly ruined my life with childish decisions at 19 years old, they both spent hours almost daily on the phone talking me through my decisions and asking me hard questions no one else wanted to ask.

Both of these men passed away within a year of each other. It didn’t hit me until recently neither of these men get to see my wedding. Neither of these men get to ask me the hardest questions of all: “Can you support your husband when he seems unsupportable? Can you make him laugh when all you want to do is make him cry? Can you show him Christ when all you want to do is show him yourself?”

Even at 16, Ray and Terry warned me about those questions. They told me what they wanted the answers to be and what they would do if my answers didn’t represent Christ. They were futuristically minded when I couldn’t be. They cared more for my future than almost any other non-related acquaintance ever had.

They didn’t plan on not being around to help me grow up, but they prepared me for the future just in case they weren’t.

What if we discipled like that more often? What if we strove to be involved with our mentees but prepared them to be just as godly, wise and prepared without us as they are when they are with us? What if we didn’t shield them from hard things but rather taught them they can prepare for a storm before it comes?

What if we discipled in such a way that those we disciple don’t pine after us after we’re gone but rather strive to emulate the Christ-like characteristics we focused on the most?

(Adapted with permission from author’s blog Defining My Sanity.) 

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~ Written by Cindy Shuler

“I can’t do this! I just want to quit!” This is what I told the Lord as I trudged along on the treadmill.

Early in January I had begun a journey toward better physical health. Now I had hit a wall. I hadn’t seen much progress in the past week or two. The treadmill at the hotel where we were staying was quirky and required frequent adjustments. As my frustration grew, I asked the Lord, “What’s the point?”

As if He owed me something, I reminded the Lord I was doing this for Him. He responded in His still, small voice, “You will reap a harvest if you don’t give up.”

Now, I know this is not the context in which the Apostle Paul penned these words in Galatians 6:9. But these words did lead me to reflect on the broader context of my life as I kept putting one foot in front of the other on that treadmill. The message of that passage is perseverance. It applies to all areas of life. In our instant, results-oriented society we often fail to embrace this truth.

I thought about the various things in which I was investing my time and energy. In several areas progress was slow and, at times, seemed to be moving backwards. Still, I felt this nudge to keep going—both on the treadmill and in other areas of ministry.

I finished my workout. I was tired, but grateful for the Spirit’s encouragement. And God, in His loving way, put a smile on my face when I returned home to find the barrier broken and several pounds gone.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” 

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~ Written by Viki Rife

I walked into the guest room and reached for the light switch. My finger encountered a thick powdery substance. I sighed. Here we go again!

In the past month, I have experienced the same thing over and over. I reach for a coffee cup and it feels gritty. I go to use an appliance and it’s gray instead of black.

When we started our remodeling project, I had no idea how very much drywall dust can find its way into every nook and cranny of a house. The sanding part of the project is over, but I keep finding places that need to be cleaned. How in the world did such thick dust get into rooms that were closed off?

I can’t help but compare it to how the Lord lives in us as He remodels us. Sometimes his work in us stirs up more dust, and we realize we need to go in and clean something we thought was safely closed off. It can’t be just a quick job—confess and walk away. It has to involve a thorough check of what we have been doing and how far the wrong motives have gotten. Every crevice needs to be carefully examined.

Slowly, I’m learning to appreciate the remodeling God is doing with my life. And, hopefully, I’m becoming more prepared to cooperate with Him in the job of removing the dust of sin from every corner of my life. 

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