By Misty Umholtz



“Give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18


With Thanksgiving around the corner, how can we improve at giving thanks in ALL things, even the hard and difficult things in our lives?


Recently, I’d been going through a rough patch in this area so I would say out loud everyday what I was thankful for…I figured  that might be a good place to start. I had a list in my head of all these amazing blessings in my life, but the problem was that I spent more time hung up and focused on the things I was struggling with, rather than my blessings.  Maybe you can relate?


I started thinking,  What if I am supposed to praise God for who He is and be thankful for even all the hard and difficult things that He has allowed to go on in my life?


Do you ever notice how you feel after worship at church on a Sunday Morning? When we spend a few songs praising God, thanking God, thinking of who He is and what He has done for us through His Son Jesus. Do you feel lighter? Does your heart feel full? Does His presence feel near like you can almost touch Him? This is what happens when we spend time doing what we are supposed to be doing.


The Bible tells us, our Purpose is to praise and worship Him. In fact, it says if we don’t do that, the very rocks will cry out to Him because everything He created was with the purpose of praising Him.


When we praise God, it puts Him in His rightful place and us in ours. It automatically gives us the right perspective. This is what gets our eyes off of ourselves. This is what fills our holes, our dissatisfaction, our restlessness, our disappointment, our frustrations.  They get smaller and vanish when we are Praising Him with a thankful heart.


When our eyes are on Him, all the struggles in life seem to fade into the background. As the old hymn goes, ‘the world grows strangely dim in the light of His glory and Grace.’


Praise is our pathway to Thankfulness. When we are praising God for who He is and what He has done for us in saving us through His Son, then our heart is full of thankfulness.  It is not based on what is going on in our life at the current moment but it’s based on Who He is and what He has already done for us on the cross.


The cool thing about praise is we can do it anytime, anywhere. We can do it at home or in the car, just turn on some worship music and start praising Him. What a great example this is to our children who are watching us live out our faith everyday. This is what I want to focus on. I will focus on what I am created to do and I will be thankful in all things.



“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Psalms 100:4

By Dara LaPorta



For the first twenty-seven years of my life, I knew God, I loved God, and I was faithful to God, but I didn’t NEED God. You see, up until that time, I was able and sure.  I felt I had my life mostly figured out.  I was confident and relatively successful in many areas.  I hadn’t experienced any life-altering tragedies or the dramatic consequences of bad choices.



As I approached motherhood for the first time at twenty-seven years old, I was extremely confident and optimistic.  Because I had never dreamed of a glamorous, high-powered career, I dreamed of being a stay at home mom, so I was PRETTY sure this whole “mommin” thing was going to be pretty easy, and I was going to be a total natural (wasn’t I adorable?).


Sienna was born on September 4, 2011, followed quickly by Price and Maddox (twins) in 2013, and our baby girl, Tessa in 2016.


The shock of motherhood hit me like a mack truck.  I’ve never felt so out of control, so exhausted, so unsure, so lost.  I doubted my ability to survive the day, let alone raise these four small children into decent human beings.  I couldn’t even pick out the right color bowl (purple) for my children, so how was I going to make the bigger, scarier, more life-altering choices?


Until I became a mother, I thought I was a pretty good person.  But motherhood quickly brought to surface the obvious sin that resided in me…selfishness, irritability, impatience, bad temperedness, entitlement, selfishness (did I already say that?)…need I go on?


For the first time I was brought to my knees, desperate at the feet of Jesus, and four angelic, beautiful, baby faces were responsible.  I always knew I needed a Savior.  I always knew I was sinful.  I always knew about His grace.  But I had never experienced the true depth of that need until motherhood.


I now know that I am not capable, I cannot do it all, I do not have what it takes, and I am not enough.




The realization of my inadequacy has allowed me to surrender to the ONE who IS enough, who DOES have what it takes, and who holds me and my four babies in the palm of His hand.


All I ever wanted to do was be a mother, but I never could have imagined how it would transform my relationship with the Father. I understand in a glaringly real and authentic way, the ugliness of my own sin and the beauty of His grace.  I have found the hope and peace that only God can give because of my desperate need for Christ.


“Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.” Hebrews 4:16


“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9


Have you found yourself in a desperate situation? What is God revealing to you through it?







Becky Olszewski



The constant nagging in my head tells me I can’t do it; tells me I’m not good enough.  If I’m not careful, I’ll believe it.  Not long ago, I did believe it.  The lies had twisted and coiled themselves inside my head so much that I didn’t even recognize their existence.  An idea or opportunity would present itself in my life and without even realizing it, I was telling myself “Nope, you can’t do that”; “You aren’t good enough, important enough, or special enough”.  A close friend pointed out the limits I had placed on myself.  She helped me process my thoughts and made me aware of lies I had come to believe.


The Enemy was so sneaky in the ways he got ahold of me.  My thoughts are one of the biggest ways he trapped me.  The more lies he got me to believe, the more I was confined to the boundaries those lies create so that I wouldn’t reach my full potential in Christ.


How was I supposed to serve God and follow the path He had for me if I believed I couldn’t do it and wasn’t good enough?!  I had to fix it; I had to change my way of thinking!


Changing my thoughts took a lot of consistent work.  First, I had to recognize the enemy’s lies that were showing up in my thoughts.  I had to focus and be aware of what I was thinking about.  Once I recognized a thought from the enemy, I had to cast out that thought from my mind.  Calling on the name of Jesus helped me do this!


Luke 10:17-19 says, “When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!  Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them.  Nothing will injure you.”


It wasn’t just the disciples Jesus gave authority to, we have it too!  I can say His name out loud!  “In the name of Jesus, I cast out this lie and throw it away.  I will believe it no more!  In the name of Jesus, I take away any power you think you have over me and I cast it away.  In the name of Jesus, I cover myself and others around me in the Holy Spirit who gives us strength, peace and power.”  AMEN!


I then replace the enemy’s negative thought with a positive truth about who I am in Christ.  Memorizing scripture about how much God loves me is a great way to do that.  Psalm 139 is my favorite scripture about God’s love for me. When I focus on God’s Word and His truth, I am able to overcome those lies and change my thoughts. I no longer am trapped and it is good!


What lies from the enemy are you believing?  Pray and ask God to reveal them to you.  Then bind and cast the lies away and find a verse to memorize that supports God’s truth.

By Stephanie Haile



My son loves war. War books, war stories, pretending to have war, etc. I’m not sure why as I’ve always been a peaceful person, encouraging my kids to get along, love each other and even be kind to their enemies. After all, that’s what Jesus would encourage his kids to do, right?


As I made breakfast for my kids this morning, I heard my 10 year-old son and 6 year-old daughter talking. My son was expressing his need for a book on World War 2, and my daughter yelled out “ If you like war, you love the devil!” Of course my son defended himself (thankfully without a hand grenade) and told his sister that Jesus even fought and God called nations to war. Upon hearing his wise words, I thought to myself, “What? Is my daughter right? Is fighting “bad” as we have been taught, or does God call us to fight?”


In Jeremiah 51:20, when God wanted to punish Babylon he called a man to be his “battle-ax and sword.” He did not say, “Be my flower delivery guy and bring flowers to every door in Babylon. Make peace with them and live in harmony forever and ever!” God recognizes, in his power and infinite knowledge when tough things need to be done, and when evil won’t go. It needs to be physically kicked out!


So how do we fight? Do we physically punch, kick and raise a ruckus with the guy in the checkout line at the grocery who won’t honor our expired coupon? While I may be tempted in that moment, God calls us in this aspect to be humble, just like Jesus. But like Jesus, we should fight for the big stuff, the God stuff.


1Timothy 6:12 says, “Fight the good fight of faith.”  So this tells me that Faith is a fight. The Bible says that war is waged against your very soul (1Peter 2:11) and Satan is out to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). So we can count on the fact that the devil hates us. He wants us to fail. He wants us to have no joy. While we may be inclined to sit back and wish God would do something amazing to help our situation, Satan is planning his next attack.


I don’t know about you but this lit a fire in me! I realize that I need to take on God’s view of the fight we are in and not stay stuck in a generalized view of fighting. I need to understand my position in the fight and not be afraid of the enemy. But I do need to fight the right way. I need to build up my faith and stay connected to God so that I am not taken off guard.


So, with that being said, would you consider fighting everyday? Fight for your children, your job, your marriage, your joy, your peace, your faith! If you belong to Christ, you have the power and the weapons. In Ephesians 6:10, God says he gave you armor. The FULL ARMOR!! Let’s remember to put on every piece, tear up your white flag and fight!!! Read Ephesians 6:10-18 and consider yourself victorious!!!!



By Dawn Smiling



I rose early on a Sunday morning and started walking to the finish line.  My son is competing in the Chicago Marathon.  The hotel is miles away from the race, but I am determined to be there to see my son achieve this accomplishment.  Two hours turned into four hours before I received a message that he completed his race.  I was so inspired to see all of the runners.


There were competitors who entered the race with enormous challenges. Some where injured, some had physical limitations they had to overcome, some were going after a dream they had yet to achieve. It was amazing to see them finish what they started.  A total of 27,000 competitors, and my son was one of them!


I was so inspired by his accomplishment, but when I saw him, he had a slight limp and looked like he wanted to sleep forever.  But I also saw the medal around his neck, along with the other runners who completed their race.  It was worth it. They met their goals even if they were tired and dealing with some aches and pains they didn’t plan for. It’s caused me to think of the race I’m running.



God wants each of us to complete our race in this life. There will be road blocks and detours.  There will be disappointments along the way.  There may be days when you think you cannot go another mile or even take another step.  You may feel defeated by push back from the enemy.  But Ecclesiastes 9:11 says “the race is not given to the swift nor the strong but he who endures until the end.”


How do you compete with all the obstacles and darts that may come your way?  I do it by being intentional in my relationship with Jesus and standing firm in my position as a woman of God.  But the most important think I’ve learned is to run my own race.  No one can wear my shoes and my foot prints are unique to every place that God sends me.


It is vital that we run our race with purpose, knowing that we each wear different shoes.  Maybe you are Puma, Nike, or a Sketcher.  Perhaps you are a praying machine, a woman in the word, or maybe your race is to lead a small group or volunteer your time.  Everything we do gets us one step closer to our finish lines.  I want to finish the work that God has begun in me. And I try to remember when I don’t see anything happening, that is when God is doing the most!


My experience at the Chicago Marathon renewed my understanding that God does not need for me to do all of the work.  God needs me to be prepared, and ready for where He directs my feet.  The most important part of my race is to not to turn back and not quit. I can feel him helping me when I start to feel those unplanned aches and pains and he gives me endurance to finish.


How do you feel God’s help and presence as you to complete your race?