Book Giveaway announcement

So excited to announce the final 2 of the book giveaway!
4. 7WFocus by Mendy Shriver
I met Mendy a couple of years ago as she was giving away tickets to a local womens ministry event. Once we met we learned we had a couple of friends in common and a passion for sharing the word of God. Like me , she is the mother of multiple teens (she has 5,pray for her) and we are both in grad school. I am currently doing her 7WFocus study and learning a lot about physical and spiritual health!! Find her at http://www.mendyshriver.com
And
5. Jonah by Katie Orr
Katie was another fabulous speaker that I heard at LifeWay Women leadership forum in Nashville. I loved her new ways of studying the Bible. Also she chose her study on Jonah for this giveaway! Which is totally the one I would have picked too!! It was a year ago this weekend that I gave the Sunday message at a small church in western Nebraska and spoke about the lessons we can learn from the book of Jonah!! For excellent tips and resources visit http://www.katieorr.me
Remember to earn entries into the drawing by liking, sharing, commenting, or tagging friends on the gather2dwell blog, facebook page and gena_christofferson on instgram

Book Giveaway!

Like, share, comment on IG and FB (gather2dwell), subscribe to this blog (click the follow option on the bottom right or fill out the contact us form to be added to the upcoming email list) and tag a friend on IG and FB! I am compiling a stack of some of 5 of my favorite books to give away!! If you would like to donate a book you have authored, feel free to jump in and let me know! I love supporting other women in ministry! If you love books start earning points today! The more times you enage the more points you earn!

The first 3 books have been selected.
1. Hidden Joy by Wendy Blight – this book was the first online Bible study I did with #p31obs. I quickly grew to love wendy and her Biblical teaching and beautiful prayers. This is just one of Wendy’s books that has changed my life. You can find more info about wendy at http://www.wendyblight.com
2. Given by Tina Boesch
I had the privilege of listening to Tina speak on the art of blessings last November at the LifeWay Women forum in Nashville! I am also privileged to be a part of her launch team for the book that has a June 4 release date!! Learn more about Tina at http://www.tinaboesch.com
3. The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna LeBaron. Anna and I connected on a book launch team a few years ago. I was a little late to the game of reading her book but once I started I could not read it fast enough!! Check out Anna’s webpage. Www.annalebaron.com for more information about Anna, her book, and her resources!
I hope to finalize 2 more books today and announce tomorrow! Like, share, comment, tag to earn more chances to win. Contest ends May 31, 2019 at midnight CST. Winners announced June 1st. United States shipping only please.
Not sponsored by Facebook or Instagram in any way.

Since I am afflicted and needy…

The ever-evolving world of friendships seems to keep in a constant state of mourning. Life changes, time is short and before you know it you haven’t actually seen or talked to that one friend for months. Other days you hear from someone you hadn’t talked to in years and are elated to rekindle old friendships. And yet still there are days when it feels like you have no friends at all, and no one can be bothered to make spending time together a priority.  I am often jealous of the girl’s trip weekend pictures people post on social media or the “we have gotten together every year for one weekend for 40 years” etc.…

Priorities in adult friendships get weird. Especially when you love people all over the world, but they are all over the world and no one just to walk over and chat with or meander through Target with on a rainy day. People are really good at saying “I am here” or “call me” and then there is no follow through. Would probably be easier if they just said, “my life is too busy for you right now, but I am thinking of you”

Middle aged mama over here just desperately wants to be seen and heard. Not just by the obligatory comments left on social media – but really seen and heard – to feel like spending time with me is not an obligation but a “valued need” to get through life. It can’t be one-sided, and I do try my best to find time to commit to other people. I am sure someone out there thinks I fail miserably at this and if they are reading this, they probably are rolling their eyes and saying, “listen to your own words.”

As I pray through my pity party, I stop to think, “I wonder if this is how Jesus feels when I do not spend time with Him?’ Jesus had friends and many left their homes, families and jobs to follow him. Crowds gathered to hear him speak. A woman believed she could be healed by touching the hem of his garments.  And yet, it was his closest friends who failed him the most. One betrayed him, one denied him, only three are mentioned at the foot of the cross, and one of those was his Mother! 2000 years have passed, and people are still abandoning him, denying him, and not making time with him a priority. And yet, he still is there patiently waiting for me to make time with him a priority in my life. Why do I crave the approval of mankind when I already know Jesus is with me and has never failed me, never broken a promise, never told me I wasn’t worth it?

Perhaps it is for this reason that I feel let down by people. I mean, if we were all everything to everybody, what need would we have of Jesus? If my needs could be met by people and things here on earth, why would I look forward to Heaven? Perhaps these feelings today are just another example of the opportunity to find joy in my mourning. I cannot control other people, but I can control my reactions. I can take charge of my feelings and replace the lies with truth, today the truth I am claiming is found in Psalm 40 using the NASB translation.

God Sustains His Servant.

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

1I waited patiently for the LORD;
            And He inclined to me and heard my cry.

  2He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
            And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.

  3He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
            Many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD.

 4How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust,
            And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.

  5Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done,
            And Your thoughts toward us;
            There is none to compare with You.
            If I would declare and speak of them,
            They would be too numerous to count.

  6Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
            My ears You have opened;
            Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required

 7Then I said, “Behold, I come;
            In the scroll of the book it is written of me.

 8I delight to do Your will, O my God;
            Your Law is within my heart.”

 9I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation;
            Behold, I will not restrain my lips,
            O LORD, You know.

 10I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
            I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
            I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation.

 11You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me;
            Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me.

 12For evils beyond number have surrounded me;
            My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see;
            They are more numerous than the hairs of my head,
            And my heart has failed me.

 13Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me;
            Make haste, O LORD, to help me.

 14Let those be ashamed and humiliated together
            Who seek my life to destroy it;
            Let those be turned back and dishonored
            Who delight in my hurt.

 15Let those be appalled because of their shame
            Who say to me, “Aha, aha!”

16Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
            Let those who love Your salvation say continually,
           “The LORD be magnified!”

 17Since I am afflicted and needy,
            Let the Lord be mindful of me.
            You are my help and my deliverer;
            Do not delay, O my God.

May you find peace and comfort in His Words today!

Soul struggles and the New Year

The past few months have been a bit of a struggle for me. I am not sure if it is an identity crisis, mid-life crisis, spiritual warfare or all of the above. But thanks to some good life long friends and text therapy, I finally think I have had a breakthrough. I have a hard time sharing my struggles publicly because I am used to being the “strong” one. I am not sure how that persona ever got started but it seems to be the role I have “played” best lately.

I told a friend a few weeks ago that I felt like none of the people in my current day-to-day life knew me for the first 20 years of my life and vice versa (family not included). What I haven’t shared very often (that I remember, anyway) is that as a teenager I became convinced that I was going to die in a car accident before I turned 30 years old. As each new year brought me closer and closer to that age, I began to wander what life was going to be like without me. As a teenager I imagined all the bullies would finally feel bad for the all the tears I had cried over their words or perhaps one of the boys I had crushed on would finally stand at my casket and admit his undying love for me and how he would never love another – bit dramatic, ya think? Now you know where my kids get it from.

As I moved into my 20s I had children to raise and love and try not to destroy and even one to be held for two weeks straight until it was her time to be called back to Heaven. God worked amazing details during that time in November of 1993 but that’s better saved for a different time. I am pretty sure I chose to ignore many of the dangerous situations I allowed myself and my girls to be put in. Perhaps I had that underlying death wish guiding my way or perhaps God was directing my misguided steps to lead me to a new life.

30 seems to be an important number for me. As the idea of dying started to fade, I started to make deals with God, such as “if I am not married by the time I am 30, I am never going to be married again.” – haha! good joke! I know without a doubt that God sent Andy to me just a few months shy of my 30th birthday. And I know without a doubt that God orchestrated things in such a crazy way that would find us married 2 days after I turned 30. I don’t know how God found any man in this world that could put up and be so in love with the crazy that is bottled up inside this 5’2″ brown-eyed girl – but he did and I am ever so thankful! Our 18 years together have not been perfect but I remain convinced that God sent Andy to save me from my self-destruction and I know he is perfect for me!

My thoughts have been obsessively controlled for the past few months on that person and that life I had before I turned 30. Give me all the 80s songs and big hair and neon colors please! I have been reliving conversations and moments in time and I am not even sure which ones are real or fantasy anymore. I prayed and prayed that God would win this battle for me because I knew it was a spiritual battle and satan was working to keep my mind off the present and the plans God has for me. I felt like I had no safe place to vocalize what I was thinking because of the judgement that would follow or that my messed up mind would be taken the wrong way and people would be hurt by the endless rambling that kept me awake at night. I would share bits and pieces here and there with trusted friends and my husband but never felt free enough to let it all out. I just kept saying, “I think I am going crazy!”

Through some text therapy with a dear friend (one whom I have known over 30 years) I finally felt a break through. She didn’t say anything I didn’t already know. She just said things in a way that only she could that had me crying and laughing and not feeling guilty or shamed for the things we remembered from all those years ago. I slept so peacefully for so many hours and woke up with a smile on my face and laughter still bubbling from my soul.

In some ways, maybe I did die before or as I turned 30. I am not the girl I once was but I want to be allowed to remember her with laughter and not shame, or sadness or tears. I want to put aside all the pretenses of being a grown up and responsible adult every now and then. Because as my friend pointed out last night those years before 30 had a LOT of hard times but I was surrounded by an amazing close-knit group of friends and it is that feeling of acceptance that I think I miss the most.

Adult friendship is hard and it’s different and it is far more lonely than I think anyone wants to admit. We are busy in our roles of wives, mothers, grandmothers, employees, bill payers, house cleaners, and so on and so forth. and so very few us take the time to make our friends a priority. Somehow society has told us that if we spend too much time on ourselves or our friends than we are selfish and this diminishes our chances at wife or mother of the year. And many times, I think that we are just so tired of trying to be everything for everyone that it is all we can do to drop into bed at night and then lay there thinking of what the best school lunch menu days were or remembering that one time “when the lights went out in Jackson”. And then we shame ourselves because that was long ago and far away and my thoughts should be on the blessing God has bestowed on me today and how I can love better and serve better and mother better and just be better…and we wake up exhausted and do it all over again forgetting why we walked into the kitchen or where our phone is while it is in our hands.

y’all, I love Jesus and I love God’s Word if you know me at all – you know this to be true. But somewhere inside of me is a barefoot, big haired girl who misses driving down dirt roads with the sun beating down, windows down, music full blast and forgetting about the cares of day-to-day life. I still struggle to find a middle ground, but I think I can and I think God will approve. I suppose a part of me did die when I turned 30 and this life after 30 (closer to 50 now) is my best life but I wouldn’t have gotten here without those dreams and memories and people who came before. So I wont let Satan lie to me anymore. I will laugh when things are funny whether they occurred in 1987 or 2019. I will cry when the memories reach a tender spot in my soul. I will reach out more to the people who have always played an important role in my life and I will make it a priority to spend time with them beyond the “let’s get together for lunch someday” – and then someday never comes.

Will you join me in 2019, with windows down, music up and barefoot feet upon the dash? Life is a wild ride but let’s vow to find the joy in everyday!

Calm Down and Be Quiet

Do you ever feel like the world is just loud and it is hard to hear from God? Or maybe you are just so busy with all the day to day that you do not have time for downtime. It seems like everyday we are busier and busier and somedays we just forget to “Be still and know”  Psalm 46:10 – The NASB translation actually says “Cease striving and know that I am God…” Isnt that what we spend most of our life doing? Striving for success or love or happiness or freedom or to be seen or to be heard or….

A lifelong friend of mine once said that I was one of the few people she listened to and sometimes she just needs to be told to “sit down and shut up” – isn’t that what God tells us to do time and time again in His Word? To trust in Him to handle even the smallest of details. God says this same thing through Isaiah to Ahaz in chapter 7. Ahaz and his people “trembled likes trees of a forest shaking in the wind” at the news of nearby fighting and invasions of other kings. Though these kings were plotting evil and Ahaz knew it, God says “sit down and shut up, I’ve got this!” It’s hard to just sit down and be quiet when society tells us we should always be striving for more!

Being quiet doesn’t necessarily mean not speaking. The Theological  Wordbook of the Old Testament says that shaqat means “be quiet, tranquil, at peace.” and further describes it in the following way:

The basic idea of the root is ‘tranquility.’ It implies the absence of strife, war or trouble o the one hand, and worry or anxiety on the other. It may also imply the absence of a pressing obligation, or again, of some disturbing element that mars a relationship between individuals.

How can you realistically practice this today? Is there a thought or worry in your mind that you need to let go of? Do you need to carve out space in your planner to just “Be” – to be with God or to be with His People? Are you the type of person that can easily just calm down and trust God or is that a last resort for you? Whatever you are facing today- face it with God and imagine a lifelong friend telling you to just “sit down and shut up” and to let God handle it!

Be well! Dwell with God, in His Word and with His People!

 

 

 

72

fb_img_1534130288983Growing up and well into my adult hood…like until today, I never thought much about the other followers of Jesus during his ministry on earth and soon following his death and resurrection. There is much emphasis on the 12 and those closest to them. However, reading in Luke 10 today a few things stood out to me. 1) He sent 72 others 2) He sent them in pairs 3) He sent them to every town and place where he himself was to go 4) He asked them to pray because the harvest was “abundant” and the workers were few.

These are important things for me to remember today. Many of us feel called to ministry and we do not always know what that looks like. There are so many big names in ministry today and for me this causes a lot of doubt and insecurity. I don’t know how many times I have said “no one wants to hear what I say” or “I’ve got nothing new to share” – but the thing is everyone’s mission field is going to be different.

Jesus did not tell the 72 to go to the places where the 12 had already gone. Jesus did not send the 72 on their own to cover more ground- he sent them together. He sent them to the places where he was about to go and He encouraged them to pray for more workers.

So you see, your mission field is perhaps just your home or your workplace. You don’t have to have a big following or a formal ministry. You were not meant to do it alone. Grab a like minded friend- encourage each other. Support each other. Pray for each other. And know if you are called to “go” to a certain place (even if its in the next room) this must mean that Jesus is preparing to be there too!!!

No matter how many workers there are – the harvest for followers of God is growing! There will never be too many workers! Your mission is not going to be the same as my mission. Don’t believe the lies that the world doesn’t need another woman talking about Jesus! Take the next step, grab your partner, and just Go.

As you continue to read in Chapter 10 Jesus gives more instructions and basically He says – I have already given you all you need. Go and offer peace. Not everyone will welcome you and in that case; move on! Keep those in your prayers but don’t dwell there. Move on!

Maybe your name will never be known outside of your home mission field. Maybe you will be like the unnamed 72. Maybe you will wonder if you even matter. Trust me. You matter! Those 72 were able to reach people that the 12 were not. You are able to meet and minister to people in ways that the Big name preachers and teachers can not. The world needs all the workers for Christ.

Don’t give up. Jesus will never give up on you.

 

Be well! Dwell with Him, in His Word and with His people!

Mark 3:23-27

15325210949171773094450452648661I have been praying that God would give me something to share and He never fails!!

Reading today in Mark 3:23-27.

One only has to open social media or turn on the news to see how divided out nation has become and this trickles down to effect our states, our cities, our Churches and our families.

There is a lot of talk about staying United. Yet everyone has their own idea on what that looks like and while we scream for acceptance and tolerance… we, ourselves, are often not very tolerant of those who are not the “same” as us.

So back to these verses…I wrote in my Bible about not letting Satan tie me down and keeping my eyes on Jesus. “Be strong in the Lord!”

Yesterday I was watching Netflix with my teenager. And it was like going to church; such a lesson on love. Sharing Jesus and loving unconditionally.

At one point the lady who was featured in this episode said “you can not antagonize and evangelize at the same time”!!! And I about stood up and shouted “amen! Hallelujah! Amen!”

How can we ever stand together against the forces of evil when we are so busy pointing out what we see as sin, posting disrespectful comments about our leadership or those who do not think the same way we think they ought to???

The notes for Mark 3:23-27 refer to the “strong man” as Satan. We must tie him up with love. Unconditional love for each other. Being United in love is the only way our families will be strong. In order to change the world, we have to start small and like a spark (it only takes a spark…sorry had to stop and sing my favorite  church campfire song) those flames of love will spread. Love conquers all!

Who can you show love to today?  And how will you do it? I would love to hear about it!

Be well! Dwell with God! In His Word and with His people!