by Sharon Tubbs

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” –James 4:8 (NLT)

As a child, I used to play hide-and-seek. Whoever was “it” would count to ten, while the rest of us hid. We scrunched behind the couch, hovered in the closet, peeked from behind fat tree trunks. Most times, the “seeker” found us. After all, there weren’t many new hiding places around our yards and in our homes. Only occasionally would the seeker have to give in and cry defeat: “Come out, come out wherever you are!”

I’m reminded of this as I think about how we play hide-and-seek with God. At times in life, it seems He’s hiding from us. We want circumstances to change or we’re looking for answers, yet the Creator of the universe is nowhere to be found. So we cry out to Him, longing and searching for a breakthrough, as if He were a playmate gleefully hiding out of view.

In spiritual hide-and-seek, however, our motive for “seeking” God should be altogether different than the childhood game. We look for Him, not because God is hiding or lost, but because we are. The Amplified version of Psalm 70:4 tells us what seeking God really means: May all those who seek, inquire of and for You, and require You (as their vital need) rejoice and be glad in You…

tumblr_mc2achheTQ1qhmhdfo1_500-1When we truly seek God, we make Him vital to our lives; we make Him our No. 1 priority. When we don’t seek Him, we get lost in the cares of the world. It’s so easy these days to be distracted from our spiritual purpose by society’s definition of “living life to its fullest.” We focus on career ambitions, outer appearances, on unhealthy relationships. We scroll postings on Facebook and Twitter and envy the images of so-called success that we see in other people’s lives. Sometimes we just become self-absorbed, caring only about ourselves and our immediate families, unconcerned with God’s calling to impact a continually dying world.

All of those things can put us in the “wrong place” in life. That’s where we feel weary about our past and uncertain of our future. That’s where we become burdened by doubt and regret and our spirit cries out to God: “Come out, come out wherever You are!”

Still, God is so faithful that He will reveal Himself if we seek Him with all our heart. He doesn’t want to be apart from us. He’s not playing games, lurking on the side of the garage or hiding under the bed like our childhood friends. With each step we take toward Him in prayer, in studying His Word and focusing on His truth, God makes His presence all the more known to us. “Come close to God,” the Bible says in James 4:8, “and God will come close to you.”

 

sharon

 

Sharon Tubbs works with the Women’s Ministry at Grace Family Church. She is also an inspirational speaker, author and business owner. As she continually strives to reach her potential in Christ, Sharon’s joy comes from inspiring others to do the same by truly seeking and knowing Him. 

by Misty Umholtz

I have taken the wonderful parenting classes offered at our church, “Growing Kid’s God’s Way” and “Loving Your Kids on Purpose”. My husband and I found them both very helpful to grow us on our parenting journey.

We read the book “Parenting the Wholehearted Child” by Jeannie Cunnion. This book was a really good balance and applied principles from both of those classes listed above. For some reason, it finally clicked for me. Maybe it’s because my kids are at the prime age to apply these instructions or maybe its because I finally had a revelation. What if I view each act of disobedience as an opportunity to teach and train my child in righteousness? And get to the real heart of the matter which is all about what is in their heart and motives. To take the time to ask my kids questions, to get a glimpse as to what is going on in their thought process and to grow my connection and relationship with them. Then also taking the time to explain what Jesus thinks about the situation and show them how we can apply His Word to the very thing we are dealing with. That’s right Moms, it takes a lot of TIME!

shopping-2Jeannie gave a lot of practical application examples which is what I really needed. She dedicated 6 chapters to specific characteristics that they focus on instilling in their home every day. She also used scripture very effectively. The forward is written by Elisabeth Hasselbeck and the endorsements on the back are by Kathie Lee Gifford and Lysa TerKeurst, which I just thought were all interesting women.

There seems to be an element in any parenting book like this to be tempted to think that the Author might be near perfect or we as the readers are not living up to the mark as a Christian parent. But I just have to remind myself that I am not comparing myself to Jeannie or to her home. My home and parenting style will have different aspects than hers.  I will say, I was convicted as I read this book.  I am suppose to parent like God parent’s me with grace, mercy and love. I am suppose to be the example of Jesus’ character to my kids and husband that I am asking them to exemplify. Let’s just say, I have many areas to work on. I have began to take this responsibility very seriously and I now start each morning by asking God to help me with His wisdom and patience and kindness as I teach my kids the ways of the Lord with all diligence as encouraged to do so by Jeannie. My kids now hear me pray out loud through out the day, “Lord, help me, I need your help, I need your patience.”  I can testify, He has been faithful, I have surprised myself in certain circumstances. This book actually made me look forward to my many chances throughout my day to take the time to stop and properly discipline with my kids in hopes of gaining their hearts (well, most of the time!) The fruit seen in my kid’s lives is a testimony in and of itself that the time spent is more than worth it.

I have made it a goal to take this Summer to hone in on some new parenting tools inspired by this book. As God’s grace covers me when I mess up, I pray I can turn around and show my kids the same kind of grace as they learn and grow in my home.

I will end with a quote from the last paragraph of this book, “The most important thing we can do for our kids is captivate them with what Jesus has already done for them.”

What Parenting Books do you suggest?

 

Misty Umholtz

 

Misty Umholtz loves being a wife and mom of two small children. She enjoys ministry and she also likes football, which should win her an award for “dream wife.” But on the other hand, her love for shopping might disqualify her from that possibility. You can read more about Misty on her blog, Finding Meaning in the Mayhem.

By Kristin Bonham

This summer, I hope to experience a slower schedule, time to focus on relationships and the opportunity to regroup and listen to God.  Truth:  That doesn’t happen unless I get intentional about it.

One of the ways I am slowing down is by mapping out what I want to accomplish this summer within a reasonable timeframe.  I am trying not to take on too much while also building more margin in my schedule.  I still have my usual responsibilities so I have to get creative!  On my days off, I am really trying to take the day off.  This may require me to work a little more on necessary things through the week but it’s so worth it!

A bad habit I started which I thought was giving me a jump-start on my day is checking my email on my phone when I wake up.  I realize this is stealing my focus first thing in the morning and the emails will be there an hour later.  When I spend the first part of my day focusing on God, I am way more productive and able to handle things led by Him.  So I decided to change this!

Being intentional meant finding several different ways to spend my morning with God.  Here are some of the things I am doing but not all in the same day!

  • Bible Reading – I have a great reading plan I’m working through and I have been experiencing the living Word this summer!  Even if it’s a passage I have read many times, God is faithful to bring a fresh perspective and truth.
  • Worship – I love worship.  I am not the best singer but I don’t think God cares.  I turn worship music on in the morning and I carry it around with me wherever I am in the house and even when I move to my car.
  • Listening – In the past I have gotten caught up in having to read or pray or worship to the point where I am not really listening.  When I listen to what God is putting in my heart or how he wants me to see a situation, my perspective changes and my stress diminishes.  My best environment to listen is when I’m on a walk or sitting on my porch.
  • Devotional Study – I love understanding who God is through what he reveals to others.  Sometimes hearing what someone else has been through helps bring clarity where we need it most.  My go to devotional right now is A Confident Heart by Renee Swope.  Many of the Clubhouse team are reading through it currently and this is what Natalie had to say about it:

 

I constantly have doubted who I am and if true faith and trust in God was in me.  In A Confident Heart, Renee Swope shares her own struggles and how when we understand who Christ is in us, the confidence in God and faith in Him comes. 

Renee speaks in terms that are so relatable through her own stories and victories! This book is helping me refocus on the truth and principles I learned in Freedom and gave me more proof of God’s love for me. .  I am not letting abandonment and rejection from my past define me.  

 

What are some things you are doing to be intentional with your time this summer?

 

Kristin Bonham

 

Kristin Bonham is a pastor’s wife and the Women’s Ministry Director at Grace Family Church. She and Chris have been married for 25 years and have three children; Taylor, Abby and Casey.  She loves the beach, New York City and traveling with Chris. She collects books and reads some of them. Her favorite part of the week is Sunday lunch with her family and friends around the table.  

 

by Dani Catherine

 

My Monday Night small group and I are going through “The Storm Inside” by Shelia Walsh. It was sort of ironic that we landed on this study because we all have one thing in common; we are all facing some sort of storm. We needed this study to give us something deeper and to give us a new perspective on the storms we are all facing.

Last week, we studied Mark 5 and the woman with the issue of blood. We all knew the story. But we learned a new perspective of the story.

“Why did she get healed? Surely, there were other people in the crowd who needed healing..” shopping-1

In Mark 5:28 this woman says “If I just touch His clothes I will be healed.”

She was healed because she was desperate, because she had unwavering faith. Her faith becomes her conversion. And it wasn’t just a physical healing that she was seeking after, she needed soul healing…and her faith was her miracle.

The awesome thing about this story is this: Jesus could have healed the woman and kept on walking. But, Jesus stopped, and acknowledged the women’s faith. And the result? she was made whole. 

As I am in a place of desperation, I can’t help but think of her faith and her perseverance. I can’t help but think of how desperate she was to push through the crowd and reach for Jesus.

This story shows that the Lord cares about each of us individually and truly knows our deepest concerns and burdens. He wants you to reach for Him.

Keep pushing through. Jesus will make you whole.

 

 

Dani Catherine

 

 

Dani Catherine works at GFC as the Ministry Assistant to the Beautiful Ministry. Dani loves to bake, scream her head off at hockey games, drink tea, paint, snap photos and spend time with her dog Jeter!

by Renee Scott

Summer is finally here and many people are gearing up to watch fireworks during their celebrations on the4th of July. Summer has the warmest temperatures, longest days and shortest nights. This season represents a time of no schedules, homework or bedtimes. Families plan vacations. They enjoy much needed rest and relaxation. In the famous words of Will Smith, “Summer, summer, summertime-time to sit back and unwind.”

Who doesn’t enjoy the many fruits of summer-ice cold watermelon, juicy peaches, and nectarines. Did you realize that the fruit you buy this time of the year was planted in the dead of winter? No one was thinking of juicy summer fruit when they were knee deep in snow. Before we can have a summer harvest, we must first plant a seed in winter.

What season of life are you in?

513e69ea0055b6b1b5d5f02c907a799bDo you feel alone and isolated like many people feel in winter? Do you keep facing storms like the blizzards of winter? Did you just start a new chapter in your life and feel as if you are just starting to bloom like the many plants and flowers of spring? Maybe you are enjoying the season of summer in your life and you are free from a bad relationship or habit.

Life is all about seasons.

You should never become content in a certain season of life because a new season might be just around the corner. As sure as a season comes into your life (whether it is good or bad) it will eventually leave. Don’t ever give up, because before you know it you will be celebrating the freedom of summer.

Why don’t you declare your freedom from depression, anxiety, confusion and frustration? Be free to live and love!

 

 

 

Renee Scott

 

 

Renee Scott is co-founder of the popular blog, www.doubleportioninspiration.blogspot.com ,where she shares encouragement and inspiration to men and women all over the world.  She’s been a member of Grace Family Church for four years. She loves to run and recently completed her first half marathon. She is a wife of over 14 years and mother of two children.