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.

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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

Agape,

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 kristianne@compassionthatcompels.org. 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 truimph 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)

Agape,

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 kristianne@compassionthatcompels.org 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 scheduler...to 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?”  

Agape,

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@compassionthatcompels.org

 

Agape,

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 

and...

I put 42,000 miles on my car.

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

DO NOT QUESTION GOD

and

NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST

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.

Agape,

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

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: www.MommaGwen.com 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

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

JOY!

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.

Agape,

Kristianne 

 

 

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!

Pam

 soulmeadow7@gmail.com

 

 

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.

images

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.

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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?”

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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

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

Agape,

Kristianne

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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?

Agape,

Kristianne

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

 

 

It isn't what it is

By: Monica Steely
Posted: November 20, 2014

A Compassion Bag Story...BEAUTIFUL Shirley

Compassion That Compels and Altar'd State were busy in Alabama! A picture says a thousand words but these pictures tell...1125! Sweet Autumn from Altar'd State Birmingham has a vibrancy and heart to "give out and live out" Altar'd State's vision to, STAND OUT. FOR GOOD! BEAUTIFUL Shirley was blessed by her Compassion Bag and you can see the mix of emotions as Autumn shares the why behind each item in her Compassion Bag. We just love the amazing navigation team at Princeton Baptist Medical Center! Thank you Altar'd State for Mission Monday and helping us bless the most BEAUTIFUL and bravest women battling cancer with Compassion Bags. 
Agape,

Kristianne
 

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It isn’t what it is.

When the trees are bare and the leaves are gone, the tree is not dead. When we see empty limbs and spindly branches, we declare it is what it is! and sigh in resignation and believe the leaves are gone forever and the tree will no longer bring shade.

It isn’t what it is.

When our To Do’s outweigh our To Be’s and there’s no time to stop and be still,  we declare it is what it is! and sigh in resignation and believe our stress will be present forever and peace will elude us forever.

It isn’t what it is.

When we visit our families for the holidays and our expectations aren’t met and disappointments fall like heavy snow,  we declare it is what it is! and sigh in resignation and believe that what once was is now gone and relationships will be changed forever.

It isn’t what it is.

This phrase  –  it is what it is  –  it circles circumstances and pops up in conversation and is intended to be healthy.  It’s intended to help you fully embrace the reality of the situation,  not drive you to insanity by expecting different results.

But while I understand the intent in which it’s said,  it seems that more and more it’s said with a defeatist attitude instead of an attitude of victory.  It’s declared as a resignation and a loss of hope.

I've said it myself a million times over and encouraged others to believe it.  And then one day as I watched it escape my mouth I desperately tried to pull it back in.

Because right then I suddenly saw the absurdity in it. I saw how unbiblical it is.  How unbelieving it is.

Because if there's any one thing that God demonstrates the most in the Bible, it's that it never is what it is.

Romans 4:17 says, “Abraham believed when he stood in the presence of the God who gives life to dead people and calls into existence things that don’t even exist.”  

It isn’t what it is

-- No Moses, it isn't what it is.  The staff in your hand will part a sea.

-- No Elizabeth, it isn't what it is.  The barren womb you have carries my Son's predecessor.

-- No Israel, it isn't what it is.  I'm parting this sea so you can cross over.

--No Abraham, it isn't what it is. I've provided a ram in the thicket so you don't have to sacrifice your son.

-- No Mother, it isn't what it is.  I've turned that water into wine.

-- No Daniel, it isn't what it is. Those lions will leave you unscathed all night long.

-- No Joseph, it isn't what it is. Your future is not in this prison.

-- No Adam, it isn't what it is.  I provided a helpmate for you.

-- No David, it isn’t what it is.  You did hear correctly and I will make it happen, soon.

No my friends, it isn't what it is.  Because God has called that which isn't as though it is. You can embrace the reality of a situation without losing your hope in Christ in the midst of it.

Your kidneys aren't failing  -  your body is made whole in Christ.

Your finances aren't dire -  you're rich in Christ.

Your marriage isn't over -  you're the bride of Christ.

You are not alone -  He'll never leave you or forsake you.

Your son is not a prodigal  -  he and your household will be saved.

Your nephew is not an orphan  -  he is a child of Abba.

You aren’t empty  -  open your mouth wide and God will fill it.

You aren’t barren – you are full of life, love and the mother of spiritual children.

It isn’t what it is.  Instead, it is what I could never imagine it would be.  It’s choosing to see the truth of what it is instead of the expectation of what it’s not.
In the midst of our storms of unbelief, hear God whisper,

It isn’t what it is.  Don’t forget who I am and what I’m capable of.  I can bring rain to ease the drought, a child to a virgin, life to the dead.  It’s never what it is.  It’s always what doesn’t even exist in your world right now.

As we enter into this Christmas season,  let your heart prepare Him room to show you it isn’t what it is. Let Him show you the hope  –  Him in the midst of it all, making possible that which isn’t possible. Prepare room for Him to show you a miracle or three – even if that miracle is just softening and changing your heart,  or the opening of your eyes.

Look at the next few weeks through the lens of Romans 4:17,  declaring boldly, “God gives life to dead people and calls into existence things that don’t even exist!”

It isn’t what it is, my friends. It is what He says it is.


Blessings to you this Thanksgiving,

Monica

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

 

 

 

Forks on the Left

By: Gwen Plauche
Posted: November 17, 2014

A Compassion Bag Story...BEAUTIFUL Shelia

We had almost finished delivering Compassion Bags at UT Cancer Center in Knoxville, when sweet Lynn tapped me on the shoulder. "I have a brave friend in the middle of her cancer battle. She isn't having treatment here. Can she have a bag?" We sent one out the next day. Look closely at BEAUTIFUL Shelia's eyes. I wish I were there to pray with you, hug you and wipe away those tears. I hope you feel Momma Rosie's prayers of peace and healing each time you cover yourself with your blanket. 

Agape,

Kristianne

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I stared at the stacks of silver cutlery on my mother-in-law’s dining room table and wondered how I had managed to escape the fine of art of the formal table.  I was a new bride and had been asked to set the table for our Thanksgiving meal at my in-laws.  Sensing my discomfort, my mother-in-law opened the linen drawer and revealed a card with an illustration of proper formal table settings - a kind of etiquette cheat sheet.  I quickly observed that one of the best ways to learn the basics of formal table setting is with a memorized pattern. The word left has four letters, so does the word fork.  The word right has five letters, so does knife, spoon and glass.  Could it be that easy?  That guide reassured me that I was not the only one who needed a little help in this area!

Just like those stacks of forks and knives,  there are stacks of emotions that come knocking on your heart’s door along with the family for holiday dinner.  You may be asking yourself,  “How will I ever deal with all these emotions?”

Wouldn’t it be great if you had an easy guide to help you know what to do?  You are not the only one who needs a little help!  God’s word, your Bible, is full of wisdom that tells you the way to respond.  Here is a collection of what I am calling,  Spiritual Place Cards.  The table setting pattern helped me remember to place the forks on the left,  memorizing these will help you remember where to place your emotions and your responses at just the right time this holiday season.

 

When you fear or dread facing that particular person over the holidays...

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.   Matthew 5:44

 

When that certain relative pushes your buttons and the conversation gets heated...

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.   Proverbs 15:1

 

When Uncle Louie goes there (again)...

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent and discerning if they hold their tongues.   Proverbs 17:27-28

 

When the empty chair reminds you...

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.   Lamentations 3:21-23

 

When the turkey comes out and the food critics emerge...

Therefore, There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  

Romans 8:1

 

When Aunt Sue is inquiring and comparing...

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.   Philippians 1:6

 

When you think you are the only one who has this problem…

You are tempted in the same way all other human beings are. God is faithful.  He will not let you be tempted any more than you can take.  But when you are tempted, God will give you a way out so that you can stand up under it.     1 Corinthians 10:13

 

When you feel alone...

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.    James 4:8

 

My prayer for you is that you feast through the holidays on God’s Word and that the peace of God,  which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.      Philippians 4:7

Blessings,

Gwen

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: www.MommaGwen.com and follow her on Twitter@MommaGwen.

 

 

 

 

 

God Is Enough

By: Sabrina Nelson
Posted: November 13, 2014

 

A Message from Sabrina Nelson, our Alabama Chapter President:

"My sweet friend Leigh Greene gained her precious wings this morning. I will never forget meeting her at the SAMC Cancer Center and sharing about the love of our awesome God with her! She smiled so big and a joyous light shone from her beautiful face! She was so special to me and my life and I am better to have known her! She always had her Compassion Bag with her at treatment. I also enjoyed getting to know her sweet mom Faye Baker and her amazing sister Tabitha Michelle Teal! What an amazing family and full of God's love! Rest in peace, Leigh! No more pain, no more fighting! We will all gather to see you again as you wait for us in heaven with open arms! Please pray for this family during this time of earthly loss and celebrate with them her precious life and new life in eternity!"

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GOD IS ENOUGH...

Have you ever stopped and wondered if God had a bucket list? Would He have made a list that included watching His only son Jesus be tortured, crucified, dead and buried? I am sure if He did make a list it would include all of the wonderful things that He accomplished. Feeding 5000 with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish from a little boy (John 6:5-13), parting the Red Sea (Exodus 14:18,31), restoring sight to the blind and the lame able to walk. All just a day’s work for God!

There are wonderful places to visit and things to do, and there is nothing wrong with that. I have decided that a bucket list should actually be a short one for me. I may be able to go places and be blessed enough to do things I might desire to do in this life, but I want my main focus to always be Christ centered and all of the things on my bucket list be only things that would result in His glorification

Sabrina’s Bucket List:

 1. Live for God, solely for Him and have a relationship with Him that HE desires.

 2. Share His name, His word, His works with others. This is something He desires and asks of us.

 3. Lead others to Him. This is what we are called to do as children of God and yet another of His desires.

 I truly want my bucket list to be the things that God desires of me.

I want... to always be one with a servant’s heart, a willing vessel and spirit that will do whatever it is He calls me to do at any moment.

I want…His love to shine from me and for others to know without a doubt that when they see me, they see Jesus.

I want…to share His word with others so that they may come to know Him.

I want…to praise Him all of my days, both the good and the bad for after all, any day given to us is from God.

 I believe if I am able to do all of these things, all of the places I may want to go, or things I may want to see will all just be blessings granted to me by God for being a good and faithful servant. Nothing in life is free and the price Jesus paid on the cross for our sins certainly is the biggest price of all.  How hard should it be for us to attempt to repay such a debt? It shouldn’t be. We should all wish to live for Him just as He was willing to die for us. In my eyes, that is not asking too much at all. In fact, I feel I could NEVER do enough but God is enough!

I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.   Philippians 4:13

Why had I waited to really see this now? Due to my own serious health issues and suffering losses all around me, it made me begin to wonder...

Be still and know that I am God   Psalm 46:10

God was writing my bucket list this entire time. I learned to trust Him and have faith that He was working all the while for my good. And I learned to be still. Trusting Him and having faith in His plan led me straight to Compassion That Compels. He brought me right into exactly what He wanted me to be doing. This ministry has become so close to my heart and a huge part of my life that I could never thank Him enough for the trials I endured. I am grateful for those valleys He led me out of, only to lead me straight to Kristianne and Compassion That Compels! He knew what He was doing all along. He only needed me to trust.

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

I will never doubt Him again! And in return, my bucket list-my priorities have completely changed for the best! I challenge you to do two things. Sit down and write your bucket list and see where God ranks on that list! If He isn’t at the top, put Him there. At the end of the week, sit down and write your list of things you’ve done for God that week. It may not be a long list but it’s a start! Remember, every page starts blank. Every day with Jesus is a clean slate. It’s up to you to write it and to live it 

God Bless,

Sabrina

Sabrina is a loving wife who is blessed beyond measure. A servant’s heart is woven into her being and her focus is giving to others and leading them to know God. She is married to her best friend, has an amazing mom, two great step-daughters and one precious granddaughter. Follow Sabrina on Facebook or Twitter@sabrinamnelson.