The One Thing -- Level Paths Devotional & Small Group Lesson Week One

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: February 23, 2015

My original intent was to write an article about forgiveness. I quickly realized that it wasn’t forgiveness, but unforgiveness that mires us to pain. Living in unforgiveness leaves Jesus out, and ushers in the dark side of human emotion.

As I sifted through the Internet one night, I came across a forgiveness program based on a series of studies. The forgiveness program was created to show people the ways to forgiveness. Through their research, nine steps to forgiveness were formulated. It wasn't the nine steps that grabbed me, but rather the "psychological disclaimer at the bottom of the page." “The practice of forgiveness has been shown to reduce anger, hurt, depression and stress and leads to greater feelings of hope, peace, compassion and self confidence. Practicing forgiveness leads to healthy relationships as well as physical health. It also influences our attitude which opens the heart to kindness, beauty, and love." I was intrigued.

Really? You think true forgiveness can be achieved through nine steps and some intense seminars. You’ll have to read the rest, I didn’t. Instead, I’ve decided to tell you a story that I have permission to share.

Sarah had a hard life-pregnant and married at fifteen. Divorced, then remarried, two more children, divorced again. She was devastated when her father died, the only man who had shown her unconditional love. Sarah was very close to her two brothers, especially the younger one. So when he married, she wasn’t really happy about sharing him with anyone, especially with his wife, Kelly.

Kelly’s life was filled with brokenness and poor choices-saved at twenty-seven, married at thirty. Kelly envisioned gatherings with her in-laws like a Christian/ Norman Rockwell scene. Right? Wrong! Sarah was bitter and only tolerated Kelly because of her brother’s child, her only niece. Kelly was just as bitter and not any better. Her tangled heart was full of unforgiveness, just like Sarah’s.

Distance and time didn’t improve their relationship. One day, Kelly received a call that she would always remember. It was the day that Sarah’s cancer collided with Kelly’s Christianity, propelling her into action. Kelly picked up the phone and called Sarah. “Sarah, you will never be alone. I’m going to help you.”

They were an unlikely pair in the treatment center. They laughed and they healed together. On a surgery day, Sarah handed Kelly an envelope, “Open during Surgery”. Kelly waited and read a letter filled with a love that caused Kelly’s life to change, because there was no room for unforgiveness in a terminal diagnosis. At Sarah’s funeral, her small group leader read from her prayer journal.

“Forgive each other. Love each other. It all comes down to that doesn’t it?”

What the forgiveness program left out was the why. Why forgive? What compels us to forgive? Or rather, who compels us to forgive? You may be thinking, I did forgive. But I can't let go. How many times do I have to do this? Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22.

There may be some of you that keep the forgiveness tally, and have surely hit the seventy-seven mark and still counting.

Now, I know some of you are reading this saying, “I can’t do that. You don’t know what I’ve been through.” You’re right, and I don’t know. And you don’t know what I’ve been through-but God does. He even knew when it all happened. He still asks you to forgive.

“Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:24.

I ask you to consider this, if you can’t forgive, have you ever really known the eternal blessing of forgiveness? “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15. It took me a while to understand it all too.

By the way, Sarah’s real name is Sonja, my precious sister-in- law. And Kelly, that’s me, Kristianne.


A New Heart -- Level Paths Small Group Lesson Week One


Name an animal that terrifies you the most.   _____________________________________________________________

I am so traumatized by snakes that I can’t even wear them as shoes or in accessory form. I couldn’t watch a Saturday morning Tarzan movie as a kid without screaming to the explorers in the khaki shorts and those safari hats to look out or they’d end life as an entree. Unforgiveness is the anaconda of spiritual death. The anaconda waits for its prey at night lying at watering places as unforgiveness waits for its prey, drinking from the waters of bitterness in the dark hours of our life. When the anaconda strikes, it holds its captive with its rear facing teeth, forcing you to look behind, to the past.  And like the anaconda, unforgiveness slowly suffocates its prey with its coils around the heart-crushing your spirit.

Have you ever played with modeling clay?  Can you still feel the moist clay and the unending possibilities to your creation?  _____________________________________________________________

In Ezekiel 36:26-28 (NLV), read what God promises to the Israelites.

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My Laws and be careful to do what I tell you. 28 And you will live in the land that I gave to your fathers. You will be My people, and I will be your God.

Did you ever talk to your clay attempting to “self-mold”.  Or how about shouting at it, maybe even an inspirational speech? Did the clay ever become anything without your hands molding it?

It’s the same with our Creator.  God is a potter who gives us a new heart and a new spirit.  Together, over the next few weeks, we will seek God and ask Him to mold our lives.  At the end of our journey, you will have formed your personal declarations.  Declarations that answer, “Why do I believe what I believe?”  Your personal declarations can simply be a sentence including a scripture or it could be a paragraph or more.  Personalize them to reflect you.

Hungry for His words

Jeremiah 15:16  (NIV)

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.

Eternal life 

John 3:16 (NIV)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Accepting of His grace

John 1:17 (NIV)

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Redeemer of my life

Job 19:25  (NIV)

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

Thankful for His mercy

1 Timothy 1:16 (NIV)

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

Most of us have someone in our lives we need to forgive. Is there someone you need to forgive?  Close your eyes and ask the Holy Spirit to free you from unforgiveness and bitterness. Then do it.


God, create in me a new heart. Roll away the empty air pockets causing spiritual cracks in my life. Let the grace and mercy from Jesus’ shed blood moisten my hard places and mold me to a pure heart.



Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Email Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram



Everybody's Love Smells Different

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: February 9, 2015

Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.         2 Corinthians 2:14-16

Grace’s ringlet curls wrapped around her spangly bracelets as she leaned across our bubble gum tea party. She wiggled her index finger in the space between our faces. “C’mere, Mommy…real close and breathe big with me,” and we did as if together, we could breathe in tiny moments like solid molecules. “Mmmm…I love you. You stink really good today, Mommy.” Of course, I completely understood that it was the scent of my perfume but what Grace really smelled was my love.

Everybody’s love smells different.

My Italian grandma was never a gushing geyser of sentiments but I do remember the endless flow of Little Debbies that grew within the pockets of her flowered, polyester housecoat. They'd send me on cream filling waves across her kitchen linoleum to the gold shag carpeted guest room. I never knew what treasures waited behind the real imitation wood closet doors with their shiny brass knobs. There were always stacks of toys, games, and primary colored striped clothes that if they were too big for me, I could pass to my older sister and too small, given to a younger cousin.

My grandma’s love smelled like a mix of garlic and mothballs.

In the Old Testament around the time of the battles between the "ites" and the ambivalent Israelites, animal sacrifices were pleasing aromas to God. I’ve read the New Testament starting with the red letters enough to know what Jesus saw, heard, tasted, touched but what did Jesus smell?

But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:16                                  

 Lazarus was dead for four days

A woman with an issue of blood for 12 years

Legion and his tomb dwelling demons

And how about that mid-dinner pedi Jesus did for all of his disciples?

Let’s face it, what Jesus had to smell would leave us gagging. Nowhere do we read about Jesus priming his hand sanitizer bottle or getting into a Febreze spraying frenzy after each encounter.

Not a mention of what He smelled, because maybe what Jesus smelled was love.

Live a life filled with love following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.       Ephesians 5:2

Retracing the steps across and around the decades of my life, I see first my 20’s “if God loved me."  30’s “when He loves me." Now in my 40’s and no longer an “unsecure person," but firmly rooted in faith and realizing that grace isn’t acquired like a scouting merit badge, it’s because He is love. God loves me because God is love and to Jesus, I hopefully stink really good.



Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Email Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

Making the Climb

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: February 2, 2015

A psalm of David

1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart;3 whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others;4 who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind; 5 who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things will never be shaken.  
Psalm 15 (NIV)

A psalm of Mara, a devout Christian woman, which she sang to the Lord concerning herself. To the tune of--

“I Did It My Way”.

“God, you are good. I love praying to you. I love going to church because I get to accessorize and look at what everyone else is wearing. Dear God, help me today. my family and me in all I do.

Help me at the grocery store. Ground beef, God. I need ground beef and milk. Oh yes, and sugar.God, I need to focus on your word. Yes, you are Lord.I lift up my friends and Sue. Yes, especially Sue.Please guide her on what not to wear, like those shiny spandex pants.I forgot, I need plastic wrap at the grocery store.

Yes, I lift up my family to you. Make them perfect so I can learn not to yell at them.
I thirst for your word.God, I am hungry for you! Lunch...I know I promised I would go to lunch with Lisa but I can just text her that something came up.

Thank you for making me a daughter of the King, your chosen one,
holy, anointed, and consecrated to do amazing things for the kingdom of God.
Gifted and talented in every way by you and ready to serve in all areas except those that are out of my gifting.

I am ready to shine for Jesus except in children’s ministry, or as a greeter, or in the parking lot, food bank,
Yes, pick up coffee like I had with Katherine.
Yes, Katherine ...Lord I lift her critical spirit up to you. I can’t believe what she said to me after we had coffee last week. After we had just prayed about Joe and Marie and the mess their marriage is... of course I only know this because Alice told Monique and Monique heard about it from Terry who read it on Rebecca’s Facebook page. Facebook. I need to check my account before I go to the grocery store.

Guide me in all the things of your will and let me still do it my way. Lord, I am ON FIRE for you. In Jesus’ name I pray!”

Well, our dear sister Mara may be partially correct. With that distracted thought pattern and uniquely poetic prayer, a part of her is on fire, but not for Jesus. Unquenchable fire from an unruly tongue fueled perhaps from a tiny spark of gossip with tasty morsels dished out al la carte on a platter of pride.

To reach His divine address and live on His holy hill your heart, soul, mind, and body must be in top spiritual condition.

Are the arteries leading to your heart blocked by anger critically impeding the flow of God’s love?

Your soul distended and inflated by pride, displacing all humility? Is your mind overcome by the world distorting your faith?

Is your body crippled by dry bones, your dance for Jesus reduced to a shuffle?

Where are you today, shaken by the world or ready to make the climb? 


Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Email Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram



Soul Dimensions

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: January 19, 2015

Our soul within the confines of our body is bound by geo coordinates wherever we are but one day, our soul will have celestial coordinates unbounded by latitude and longitude. I sometimes set my soul’s coordinates based on what is before me. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gratitude and the depth of my own “soul dimensions.” By faith, my capacity to praise and glorify God regardless of what I see before me.


32°4′42.08″N 87°16′49.33″W are the geo coordinates to Gee's Bend, AL and the town where Arlonzia Pettway was living when she asked the Lord what He wanted her to do in His vineyard. He told her to sing.  She stopped praying and asked Him again, because she loved to sing but really wasn’t a singer. God showed her again “standing singing” and sing she has for over 40 years, along with her quilting group, “The White Rose.” Singing, quilting and praying with a community of women whose slave and share cropping heritage quilted out of necessity for warmth. Made from dress and shirt tails - parts of the clothes not too worn, and flour and cornmeal sacks bleached with hand picked cotton for inner lining. Whatever they had, they were thankful for. They, “Didn’t buy nothin, ‘cause we didn’t have nothin’ to buy nothin’ with.”  (The Quilts of Gee's Bend).

So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.  John 11:41

Jesus had expectant gratitude, anticipating the miracle as the stone before Lazarus' tomb was rolled away. Gratitude wasn’t a polite, “Thanks God, that was a close one back with the demon possessed pigs.” Jesus displayed His gratitude by a a total glorification of God whether through a prayer of thanks for bread and fish meals multiplied, defying any potluck dinner. So, it’s safe to say that Jesus expressed His gratitude outside of a meal, a church service and a miracle. 

At a distance, ten lepers spent their days shouting, “Unclean” for anyone and everyone to hear until they saw Jesus enter their village.  Until the ONE, Jesus Christ, heard them.

“Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. 15 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” 16 He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

One healed man whose geo coordinates had been set by his disease. But when he saw Jesus, his soul dimension of faith, repositioned him ready to glorify God. Today, I pray we chart our soul coordinates on the unseen and through faith in Jesus Christ, we can stand confidently becoming all that He has in mind for us to be and do.

For because of our faith, he has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be.  Romans 5:2


Want to know more about the Gee's Bend quilters? Click here

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Email Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram











Legacy Scaffolding

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: January 12, 2015

So often in life, we know what we don’t want to do, but not what we do want to do. We stumble through days and trip over years until a major life event collides with our life, challenging or strengthening our beliefs, our way of doing things and altering life's rhythm.

What if each of your experiences and your reaction to them, became legacy scaffolding - platforms used to build your living legacy?

Look up into the heavens! Who created all these stars? As a shepherd leads his sheep, calling each by its pet name, and counts them to see that none are lost or strayed, so God does with stars and planets!  Isaiah 40:26 (TLB)

Ever bent your head nearly to your back to look up at construction workers on scaffolding, wondering what possessed them to pick their profession?

Well, I have and what I’ve noticed is that workers rely on the scaffolding for their support but never the structure under repair or construction.

My legacy scaffolding started with a foundation of Christianity where I learned to be unshakable because cancer shook me. One of my scaffolding platforms started with my sister-in-law’s cancer diagnosis, a letter and a sweater. Scaffolding has guardrails but I think legacy scaffolding has both guardrails to keep us from far flung pain that pushes us to the outer realms and bumpers to insulate where we’re vulnerable.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV)

Your legacy is never built alone because we're not called to do life alone. Like scaffolding is braced by triangles, the most rigid geometric shape, so is our legacy scaffolding. It’s reinforced vertically with cross braces aligning and keeping it central, unwavering because without the triangular brace, the platform collapses.

To sound really credible here, let me use a big word that I had never heard of before but will pretend it’s a part of my everyday vocabulary - generativity.  A psychologist, Erik Erikson, defined generativity as the “concern for establishing and guiding the next generation,” for passing on cultural traditions and leaving a legacy. As he described it, generativity is “I am what survives of me.” That is, your legacy after you’re gone.

I ask you to challenge that today. Whether it’s triumph or tragedy, it becomes your legacy scaffolding; a living legacy of what you have survived because through Christ, you are greater than what you've overcome.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4  (NIV)


Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Email Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram




Who’s Your Scheduler?

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: January 5, 2015

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.   3 John 1:2 

ONCE UPON A TIME, not so long ago, there was a woman with great balance! No, not like a circus performer but the kind who could extend grace and never consume grace. 

THEN ONE DAY she found herself in the middle of saying something and wondered what her point was. 

THE NEXT DAY she started praying and finished with her grocery list  “What is happening to me? Do I need a multivitamin or more omega 3?” she asked herself.

THE NEXT DAY she was cramming her vitamins into her mouth and a one minute devotion into her spirit quicker than a two year old with candy just so she could be early to her meeting...when SUDDENLY she remembered the meeting was yesterday! OH MY!

AND THE NEXT DAY, she drove her car all the way to work and was surprised when she pulled into the parking lot because she didn’t even remember driving there.  She pulled her compact out of her purse and started to call her doctor. “NO! NO! Not a compact but a phone is what I need, she cried. I don’t have time for a doctor today so WebMD on the way,” she thought.  As she listed her symptoms on the screen, the diagnosis was clear. She had a chronic case of TIME SLICING!  A symptom of having a faulty be continued next week.

My friends, in the techie world, time slicing is where the single processor system or CPU, performs one part of a program and then returns to the first one. Each computer has a scheduler that determines which task is next and how much time to allocate. Think of your brain as the CPU and it’s like working on a report then stopping to text someone.  Time slicing is what allows us to multitask. If your brain is the processor, what part of you is your scheduler?  

Take a minute and think of the meanest mean girl you ever knew...mentally frame her and name her. Ouch! It hurts all over again, doesn’t it? But based on my life experience, I’d say her cruelest remarks knifed at your ego can’t outshout your own internal critic. So my friends, I’m going to ask you to leave her, your internal frenemy, wherever she finds you most vulnerable because she is the one relentlessly scheduling your thoughts and actions. Chain her to a fitting room where she forces you to try on clothing under fluorescent lighting and then critiques you in front of a trifold mirror! Ditch her in the grocery store aisle next to the cereal that looks like chicken feed! If that doesn’t work and she keeps on mentally chatting with you, then get your earbuds out and stick the plug in your pocket a la hands free cell phone. Then you can speak out loud and say, “Stop it. I’m not listening,” without anyone giving you a second look. 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.     Matthew 6:33 

The Holy Spirt should always be our scheduler. Most online calendars have a feature that once you schedule an appointment, it allows you to note whether you’re busy and unavailable. In 2015, let's forget the multitasking and start multiASKing, “God what do you want me to do today?”  


Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram







What's Your One Word?

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: January 1, 2015

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.  For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?...Isaiah 43:18-19

For the past few years, I have used a defining word- a “power word” to shape my life approach. It’s my one word depicting how I will choose to live my life and build my character.

An envelope with “Open during Surgery” written across it gave me my first word-forgiveness.  Up until that point, I was an empathetic, kind person, operating from a heart of unforgiveness. But my sister-in-law, Sonja taught me there’s never room for unforgiveness, especially in a terminal diagnosis.


A year later, cancer again provided me with my next power word when Pam, my other sister-in-law, was diagnosed. My new word was faith and until that year, my faith had operated from my intellect and not my heart. 

Another year later and cancer gave me a new word, compassion when Vikki, my sister, was diagnosed. Compassion compelled my heart and I began reaching out to the hurting and the lost with hurricane force evangelism, God’s spiritual first responder.

My power word this year is repurpose. Jesus repurposed three nails for my salvation and yours. He repurposes every experience to complete restoration, never wasting anything, not even our pain. Rick Warren wrote that “your greatest ministry will likely come from your deepest pain.” You see, God repurposes every chapter of our life story for His glory. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your one word. I'd love to hear your one word that will display His power in your life in 2015 --



Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram


Spiritual Freeze Tag

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: December 29, 2014

From Kristianne's heart...

I used to think that “Be Still and know that I am God” was some sort of spiritual freeze tag; statue-like waiting to hear God. If I moved, I lost somehow the message, path of my life, etc. Being still seemingly unaffected by the flow of humanity around me is an impossible task because along with my short attention span and vivid imagination, I yearn for grand adventures like a yard dog seeks life beyond the fence.

Since January 2014, with the support of thousands of people and by God's grace...

  • 880 BEAUTIFUL women were blessed with Compassion Bags 
  • 24 cancer center deliveries
  • We held 12 fundraisers
  • We partnered with 16 Altar’D State stores for their Mission Monday
  • I spoke at 10 events
  • There were 5 TV, 4 newspaper, and 3 magazine interviews given
  • We started 3 state chapters: Alabama, Pennsylvania & Virginia/DC Suburbs
  • I had my final reconstructive surgery 


I put 42,000 miles on my car.

But through the continual movement of Compassion That Compels this year, I learned two things:




I don’t know what noisy reality faces you today but I pray you “Silence your spirit…to listen to His Spirit" because being still is found within God's spacious place where our wanderings lead us.


Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram


The Gift of the Love Letters

By: Gwen Plauche
Posted: December 22, 2014


My husband slid the worn stationery box across the table and told me I would love what was inside. He’d discovered the box tucked away in the attic not too long after we had moved into our house in Boulder, Colorado.  I opened the box and found a preserved collection of love letters from the summer of 1955, in date order with a tally on top of how many the two lovers had personally written.  What a precious possession! Unfortunately, the names on the letters were not people we knew.  Our young children soon demanded my attention and I placed the special box on a closet shelf.

Fast-forward three years, we had received a job offer with a move back to Louisiana bringing us closer to grandparents, and had begun packing the house. My husband found the forgotten box and again put it in front of me, telling me that we were not packing it. I could not imagine tossing the precious letters. One of our elderly neighbors recognized the names as the original owners of our home in 1965 - it was now 1992. The best news was their current address was just across town!

My plan was to deliver the letters within our last two weeks in town, but it came down to the last day.  I drove to the address and was determined to tuck the box by the front door if no one was home. I rang the doorbell and heard the door open.  I held the box behind my back and introduced myself.  She responded that my address was her first house many years ago.  When I told her I had a surprise and produced the box, she begged to know who told me  –  I had no idea what she was talking about. “Today is our 35th wedding anniversary and these will be the best present anyone could have given us!”  I stepped back in amazement. God, Creator of the Universe,  had used me to deliver a special gift to these precious people on this special day. These were truly love letters from God.  Can you imagine reading love letters written to you from more than 35 years earlier?

We each have the opportunity to read our own love letters from God as we open our Bibles daily.  Through multiple authors scattered over a timeline of years,  His love message to us rings true.

The Christmas season may be a different one this year.

You might be facing limited funds, forcing a no-gift rule.

Your health may be changing the activities you participate in.

You may be celebrating in a hospital room or waiting room.  

You may be celebrating the first Christmas without a special loved one.  

You may feel that no one cares.

No matter the circumstances, God’s love letters apply. Read His letters daily, as if you were separated from a loved one and finally receiving correspondence. Soak the message up, memorize the words. They will be as a balm to your soul. One of my favorites is reading and knowing, that I am the apple of God’s eye!  (Psalm 17:8)

These selections are love letters from God written years ago for you to read today:

You are the apple of My eye, ( your name )  Psalm 17:8

I have called you one of My children because I love you, ( your name ) 1 John 3:1

Your name, ( your name ), is written on the palm of My hand  Isaiah  49:16

I am greater than your heart and I know everything about you, ( your name )
1 John 3:19-20

You did not choose Me, but I chose you,  ( your name ) John 15:16

My love endures forever,  ( your name )   Psalm 136

If I go and prepare a place for you,  I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am,  there you may be also, ( your name )    John 14:3

I loved you so much that I sent My Son to secure your future with Me, ( your name ).    John 3:16

As we celebrate the true meaning of Christmas this year,  take time to thank the Lover of our souls,  God Almighty.

Blessings & remember that God’s gift of love is for you,


Gwen Plauche, aka Momma Gwen, is married to the greatest man on earth, mom to five (ages 16-26) and loves to find encouragement between the covers of her Bible. Her blog can be found at: and follow her on Twitter@MommaGwen. #giftoftheloveletters #spirtualplacecards


Cancer Free

By: Nancy Backues
Posted: December 15, 2014

Cancer Free. Those were the two beautiful words I had waited so long to hear. Even though the surgery to remove the final tumor had been almost two months ago and my journey was not yet over, I breathed a sigh of relief. Yes, there would be years of follow-up appointments and scans. There would be the continued focus on my health, and every little ache or pain that didn’t “quite feel right” would be cause for concern. But I had moved from the “Cancer Patient” column to the “Cancer Overcomer” column.

It’s fitting that I heard those words in the month of December—almost a year to the date of my last chemo treatment. Last year I cherished every moment of my holiday, even though treatment forced me to slow down and stay close to home. This year I would celebrate cancer free.

I left the treatment center with those beautiful words still ringing in my ears. I drove home with tears of joy—of relief—stinging my eyes. As I thought about the significance of the season, I reflected on the sermon I had heard the previous Sunday.  

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, ESV).

Wonderful Counselor—the Hebrew word for “wonderful” in this text literally means ‘miraculous,’ because that is what Christ is. He is the Miraculous Counselor. When we reach the end of our knowledge, the end of our abilities—when doctors and specialists say they don’t know what else to do—Christ is just getting started. There is no end to His knowledge or His wisdom. And He has promised to lead us into all understanding:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)

Mighty God—God is the One whose power is unmatched. He’s the hero—the One who shows up when everything has fallen apart. When we’ve made a mess of things, or life has left us shaken, and we don’t even know how to begin putting things back together, God steps in to make a miracle out of our mess. He not only has the wisdom to know what to do, He has the power to bring it about. He is bigger than our circumstances and greater than any obstacle we may face.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Everlasting Father—Christ loves us as the Father loves us—with an everlasting love. His love will not run out or wear down. He is not impatient with us. He does not grow weary of our presence, our mistakes, or our requests. We can come to Him again, and again, and again until we receive the answer. He never grows tired of us, and His love never gives up.

What great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1, NIV).

Prince of Peace—He is our peace. He does not simply give peace; He is peace. That is how we can have peace in the midst of trial, in the midst of conflict, in the midst of pain. It’s not something that God gives us that we can lose, misplace, or can be taken away. It’s His very presence that gives us peace because He Is Peace. And since He has promised to never leave us, we can always have that peace no matter what we face.

For He himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).

As Christians, we often toss out the obligatory reminder of the “true Reason for the season” at Christmastime.  But we should be careful to also consider the why of Christ’s coming. That Baby, born in a manger, came to save the world, yes. But He also came to be our miraculous Counselor, our hero God, our Father who loves us eternally, and our peace…even in the midst of the storm.  

Nancy is an author, speaker, wife, mother, cancer-fighter, and lover of all things chocolate. When she’s not playing cook, chauffeur, maid, or referee to her family, she can be found writing about embracing grace at There is Grace. Nancy lives in Missouri with her favorite people in the world, her husband and two children. Follow Nancy on FacebookTwitter, or Pintrest.

Discouragement is a Bully

By: Monica Steely
Posted: December 11, 2014

Discouragement is a bully.

It comes at you on the playground as you're running and laughing and enjoying the swings and delivers a sucker punch that brings you to a heap on the ground gasping for breath and crying silently.

Discouragement is a bully.

It interrupts the moments of contentedness and peace and just when you're feeling like the vision is actually a possibility, it throws a ball directly at your head and it knocks you to the ground and impairs your vision.

Discouragement is a bully.

It yells obscenities at you, tells you you're ugly and not good enough and confirms your deepest fears. It preys on those fears and taunts you with them and convinces you it's best just to quit -- quit showing up, quit working hard, quit trying.

Discouragement is a bully, and I just realized it today.

When I was a child and in a heap of tears over bullying taunts and jabs, my parents would gather me up and pray for me. And then they would encourage me to pray too; not just for myself, but for the bully. Not that the bully would receive vengeance, but to pray for love. For peace. That the bully's heart would change.

All the things I didn't want to pray, they told me to focus on.

Discouragement is a bully, but the rescuer is prayer.

The bully showed up unexpectedly yesterday, picking up on me nonstop. Suddenly, everything I saw and read and heard confirmed the bully's lies. I locked myself in the bathroom more than twice to silently cry and was ready to give it all up -- the dreams, the visions, the joy, all of it.

The ball the bully threw knocked me out cold and I just couldn't see anymore.

I believed his lies and I am ticked off today that I fell for it.

Because in my heart of hearts, here is what I know:

He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries. (Matthew 10:30-31)

When the bully shows up and intimidates me, God gathers me up on his lap and prays that I would realize how the bully's words mean nothing. He reassures me how much I'm truly worth and reminds me to use my shield of faith to deflect the piercing, untrue words.

But he [God] didn’t let anyone push them around, he stood up for them against bully-kings: ‘Don’t you dare touch my anointed ones, don’t lay a hand on my prophets.' (I Chronicles 16:20-22)

And when the bully shows up and intimidates me, God deals with it Himself so I don't have to. When I'm a crushed heap under the weight of words that feel so real, He jumps in and stands up for me and takes the bully out.

And He reminds me to pray for peace…for love, for a heart change. Not for this bully, because he's unchangeable to the core. But that I would pray it for myself...that I would accept the peace and love God has to give.

And for my heart to change so I will stop believing each time discouragement shows up on my playground.

Yes, discouragement is a ruthless beast, bullying its way into every corner of my life that means anything. But my rescue is in prayer and the One to whom I pray.

My Daddy will always stick up for me.



Monica Steely is a writer, speaker, coffee iv’er and transformation whisperer. She blogs at Elevate Ideas and procrastinates anything related to cooking, cleaning and other domestic activities. She’s also the co-founder of Be Still Be Free…a mindset revolution seeking to encourage women to BE first and DO second. Listen to BE’s podcasts on iTunes or Buzzsprout


By: Pam Stewart
Posted: December 8, 2014

A little note from Kristianne...

When my BEAUTIFUL sister-in-law Pam laughs, I feel the comfort from the things that fill the happy places in my life. Her easy laugh is like the sunshine on my head, melting me to a puddle of sweet thoughts on my best day and it's the tender hugs during my hard days. Like some of you, she's in the heat of the battle again facing another round of chemo this Tuesday. My Pam and I believe in the power of prayer and she faithfully prays for all our overcomers and their families. The holidays can be a difficult time but I know Pam's words will speak to your spirit giving you hope and a feeling that you are loved with an everlasting love.





During the Christmas season the word  Joy  is flung about frequently and sometimes lightly.  It's on coffee cups, commercials and stamps. Sitting here praying my way through fourth stage breast cancer this  Joy seems lacking the substantial stuff with which I long to bolster my joy experience.  I open my Bible to James 1:2-4 (ESV), and encounter the answer to my musings from a man of God who knows exactly where I am at.  He writes,  "Count it all JOY,  my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Whoa! Slow down now!  This doesn't seem very Christmasy!  Oh but it is!  When was the last time you rode a donkey to Bethlehem to pay your taxes, at 9 months pregnant, and found "No Vacancy" signs at every hotel?  Then joy in the morning,  as labor pains grip your abdomen,  your sweet husband tells you he has found a cozy corner in a cow stall in which to sleep, labor and deliver your first child amidst the animal smells,  sounds and prickly straw bedding  (with no doctor, midwife or even your mother there to assist and encourage you)!

Your first guests after the birth of your child come directly out of the field from herding sheep and have no antibacterial gel to clean themselves up. Then to top it all off, before you have even had time to settle down and look into preschool options,  you must jump back up on that donkey and flee with your family to Egypt because the king wants to kill your baby!  

Forget postpartum depression or knitting bigger booties, you are breast feeding amidst the dust from hoof beats,  nibbling on dry figs and raisin cakes and realizing that you may never see your family or friends ever again. This is not the sterile, dirt free environment of the nativity scene on your mantel.  Our lives are not sterile or dirt free. Having cancer, losing a job, struggling as a single parent, dealing with a less than perfect spouse or child is NOT a "happy, happy, joy, joy" experience. Is it?  Uh oh, here comes James again..."Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" James1:12. (NASB)  What a great reminder that we are loved with a perfect love,  blessed by a perfect God and saved by a perfect savior.

This gift of JOY came out of a less than perfect birthing experience, the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ and His painful experience on the cross. No, JOY is not a sparkly word on a Christmas card!  And life is not easy, circumstances not always ideal and sometimes truly painful.  

Yet we have this promise to truly fulfill our Joy experience. "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great JOY that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."  Luke 2:10-11 (NIV)

Have a blessed Christmas and know that as the Psalmist cried out to our loving God we may too. His promise of JOY is there for us at all times. "When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' your love, O Lord supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought JOY to my soul"  Psalm 95:18-19  (NIV).

Joy to your soul!




Being honest about Christmas

By: Dianna Salciccioli
Posted: December 1, 2014

It’s Christmastime with all the lights, gifts, celebrations, cards, and busy schedules.  All around us we are besieged by products adds, Christmas carols, and the reminder that “If we order today our gifts can STILL arrive by Christmas day!”  Hurry ~~ Hurry!

Let me be honest, I love the Christmas season as much as anybody, yet, as I pay attention to the people around me I am tenderized by the fact that there are many facing challenges and changes IN THE MIDST of this season. Not everyone is experiencing a Facebook Christmas full of photos of fun, food, and laughter.


I am aware of folks facing incredible physical challenges, financial pressure, relational pain, loss, and lonliness. For them, the hoidays present unique challenges. I see the commercials with the children missing their daddies serving in the military; it takes less than one second for my eyes to well up with tears. I watched a man suffering with Parkinsons disease carefully taking steps down the aisle at the store slowly gathering up family gifts as his energy (not love) drained with every step; tears again.  I read a blog of a colleague whose son has just married and faced a painful surgery to remove an enormous tumor in his brain; my heart breaks for what this young couple is walking through.


No, I don’t want to write a blog that brings you down! I don’t. Yet if we miss what is really true during this holiday season we will be unable to be ready to respond to the needs around us. I have simply chosen, in this season, to be very mindful of those who serve in customer care during the holidays; I’ve committed not to be too busy that I don’t forget to thank them by name, smile at them, and compliment them.  It has been remarkable how those soft touches have changed their countenance. This is a little thing!

We all face challenging situations; some seasons are harder than others yet these challenges can just seem more pronounced during a season. If you are in a season where you are experiencing health, peace, and joy then CELEBRATE IT! If you are facing a season that feels heavy and challenging, I encourage you to trust in the One who loves you more than you will ever know!  Deuteronomy 31:8 says ” It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you, He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”   I just LOVE that!   That is what Christmas is truly all about!

Last night I saw the movie ” The Book Thief”. There was one line that really got to me as I watched.  The young heroine in the story had been going the extra mile for those she loved~ fighting for them, providing for them, reading to them, and sparing no personal cost to make the lives of those around her better; If she could.   He father was asking her why she would do this to which she answered; “Isn’t that what humans do?”


Even as I write I am keenly aware that many of you are in a tough season, some of you have just passed though challenges, and there will be others whose lives feel incredibly easy at this time.  I wish all of you true joy in whatever situation you find yourself this year.

Perhaps this season, and all year through, we could find the good tension between celebrating our own lives and remaining mindful of those whose lives are facing great challenge.  Let’s be human.

Merry meaningful Christmas to you, my friends.


Dianna Salciccioli co-founded and leads alongside her husband Greg, at Coachwell, Inc.- Coaching & Consulting Company. Dianna's been a pastor’s wife, pregnancy resource director, teacher’s aide, youth pastor’s assistant, and coach in her life but her highest calling is being a quality wife to her precious husband, as well as a hands on mom to her incredible sons!  Over the past five years she's been blessed to add to her “roles” that of mother- in- law to two of the greatest young women she knows! This year, Dianna's role grew to grandma and her heart swells at the thought! Follow Dianna on her Blog, Instagram  and Twitter

Confessions of a Turkey Butcherer

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: November 27, 2014

I have a confession to make. I butcher turkeys. No, not in the conventional knife wielding, life-ending massacre for the Thanksgiving genus and bird species. I’m talking burned to a crisp or undercooked with jelly-like movement. I admit to trashing a charred bird or two, and resorting to microwaving the gelatinous one. It’s become a bit of a story among my friends, many of whom have well-worn aprons that speak to years of tasty, traditional family meals. I'm relieved that most every Thanksgiving is spent with my husband’s family in Mississippi, where the Lazy Susan spins like a twist-n-turn despite the weight from overflowing casserole dishes filled with Coke salad, sweet potatoes, and our niece Melinda’s asparagus casserole, just for me! And without fail, my mother-in-love cooks a turkey. I have watched through my seventeen, Stewart Thanksgivings as the actual turkey presentation has shifted to stronger arms, but never diminishing the strength of her love.

Each year we tell what we’re thankful for. This is always so difficult for me because as eloquent as I am, I find myself at a loss for words. They seem to stick to my tongue. Our nephew Jason will always make me cry because he’s so grateful for family. I’ll look across the table at my BEAUTIFUL sister-in-law, Sonja’s children and grandchildren, and think how proud she would have been of all of them. 

I am thankful for my BEAUTIFUL sister-in-law Pam and the healing in her body, as she undergoes another round of chemo. She’s spending Thanksgiving close to her home and is the only other one to outcry me at the table. And then there’s my husband’s brother, and Pam’s husband, Richard who has the biggest heart.

I am of course thankful for my husband, Royal who gets me. I live in my heart and my head a lot — like when I wander off in the store and equally as lost in my thought life. He doesn’t question when I show up ten minutes later with decorative cupcake wrappers but simply asks if I found what I needed and doesn’t ask when I put it back, because I don’t bake either. 

I am thankful for my daughters, Grace and Annelise whose creativity and wide open embrace of our grand adventures makes life fun. 

I am thankful for my BEAUTIFUL sister Vikki's, five year cancer-free celebration and for my sister, Dawn who believed in me and help scatter those dandelion seeds.

I am thankful for life-speaking friends who've walked beside me for years, sharing lattes and tea, snort laughs and tears. These are gifts that fuel my spirit.

I am thankful for my surgeon, Dr. Sullivan and the Breast Center team who are committed to restoring the whole person. 

I am thankful for Momma Rosie and Leo who listen to my endless stories and musings. 

I am thankful for my new friends like Sabriana and my five D's, who know how to “love you most,” hit their knees in prayer, send books, cards and letters at just the right time to inspire me.

I am thankful for our writing team, the original "compassionistas" whose voices chorus His grace.

I am thankful for Scotty and Shane, my website guys from Jericho Studios who follow my chain of panic emails and screenshots titled, "HELP and URGENT."

I am thankful for our Compassion That Compels boards for their wise counsel and firm conviction.

I am thankful for the prayers and generosity of the many volunteers, donors, and corporate sponsors like Altar'D State, who heard our hearts and joined us on this journey.

I am forever thankful to Jesus for bringing 1146 BEAUTIFUL and brave women, along with all those who love and care for them, into my life. All I wanted to do was launch my Bible study and ministry but all God wanted me to do was be obedient. He always has the better plan. This Thanksgiving, I have the largest, small group and am now followed by the most amazing people I could ever hope to add to my heart's collection.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram





How are you going to love?

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: November 24, 2014

A Compassion Bag Story...

BEAUTIFUL Martha radiated God's joy as we blessed her with the 1100th Compassion Bag today! She is forever a part of my heart's collection through the ties of God's love. As BEAUTIFUL Martha shared her story, her words hung like carefully placed pegs of mercy on a board of God's love. My friends, because of our Enterprise/Dothan supporters including Altar'd State's Mission Monday, we reached more women battling cancer at Southeast Cancer Center, and the wiregrass community! We are so grateful for our Alabama leadership team of Sabrina Nelson and Dianne Walters. 

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces. Psalm 34:4-5




When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  37  Then he said to his disciples,  “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  38  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”                                                Matthew 9:36-38

Jesus had compassion for the distressed,  the dejected, the lost.  A few years ago,  I was so hemmed in by my need to serve on God’s personal God Squad,  handing out sin citations,  that my love for the lost was overridden by my prideful need to defend God’s truth.  I was still moved by the innocent who were maligned and hurt,  but immune to the sinners birthed from a corrupt culture.  It was then God showed me if I were to love the lost,  I would need more empathy for the “guilty” than for the innocent.  I would need compassion.  And slowly,  He gave me a heart of compassion,  a compassion that compels me to love in action.  A voluntary act of my will, a yielding to the Holy Spirit.

Compassion that compels forces your heart to pay attention with intention.  It kneels down to your child to listen with your eyes. It reaches across the table at that next family gathering.  It knocks on your neighbor’s door.  It extends itself at a ragged shirt sleeve and outstretched hand. 

Do not forget to entertain strangers,  for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.       Hebrews 11:12

Close your eyes and think about someone whom you love with your whole heart.  Someone easy to love. Then create a mental montage of those who may not have loved you in return.  Now stop,  and think about the family member you are called to love,  but just can’t?  If they died today would you know where they would spend eternity?  If you doubt it is in heaven,  do you feel that is their just reward?  Or do you feel compelled by the same compassion to serve the helpless, to leave the ninety-nine sheep, and seek the one that is lost?  In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus identified the needs and saw that the workers were few.  

Do you think he was only speaking to His disciples after a series of mega-picnics that fed thousands?  Or is His word living and active today and it includes us?

The answer is yes,  we are His disciples. In verse 38,  Jesus tells us to ask  (pray)  the Lord to send,  some translations say force,  the workers into his harvest field.  

What if,  just what if,  you were praying and God commanded you to harvest the field?  Could you do it steeped in the confines of judgement and condemnation with arms crossed?  Or suffused in His grace and mercy like those loving arms, outstretched on the cross?

... “Simon son of John,  do you truly love me more than these?”  “Yes, Lord,” he said,  “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  16  Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”  He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said,  “Take care of my sheep.”  17  The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”  He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep."             John 21:15-17

Jesus posed the question to Peter three times, “Do you truly love me?”  By the third time,  Peter was hurt.  How could Jesus ask him three times?  Peter said,  “You know that I love you.”  If Jesus knows all things, why was he asking?  He certainly wasn’t asking Peter because He didn’t know.  He was relentless in His questioning not for Peter to affirm his love, but for Peter to decide how he was going to love.  Jesus asked Peter and today He asks us to display His love through compassion.  A compassion that should compel us to feed the innocent lambs and take care of the lost sheep.  

The question remains, how are YOU going to love?



Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram