When You See It, Say It! (by guest blogger Rachel Axtmann)

On the exterior, I am a glass half full optimist. But, if I really let you in on a personal level, you might notice I can be more of a glass half empty thinker. As a mom, I tend to doubt myself. But even when I was working, I would often question by abilities there as well. In either arena, I often question how am I doing and wonder if I am doing enough? With my children, am I balancing love, discipline, encouragement, and consistency? Am I instilling my faith into my children’s lives, not just a religion, but a relationship with their creator? Are they learning enough? Are they behaving and being kind to others? In reality, the list can go on and on.

I struggle with self-doubt, and this can quickly turn into negativity in my mind. I often don’t give myself much credit for the good, but tend to focus on the shortcomings. It can be a dark and lonely place inside my own head.

Am I alone in this or can you relate? Are you ever prone to feeling down or having self-doubt? I think we all are on some degree. We even see Paul in the scriptures struggle with similar feelings. Let’s take a look:

For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus. – 2 Corinthians 7:5-6

Paul was feeling a bit discouraged. His line, “conflicts on the outside and fears within” resonates with me. We all face conflict. Some small, some great. But like Paul, I also have fears on the inside. With these feelings so prevalent, how does God respond? In His all-knowing, loving-kindness, He sends along a friend. Titus comes to Paul and brings him comfort. Titus provides encouragement. What’s interesting to me in this instance is that God didn’t take away Paul’s troubles or fears, but rather sends along a companion to comfort. Paul certainly still faced opposition, however his friend Titus’ words and presence lifted his spirit. Sometimes in life, we all need a Titus.

How can we follow God’s lead here? How can we use our lives to be like Titus? I believe one of the greatest gifts we can give to each other isn’t anything material. It’s 100% free. It’s easy to give and requires very little effort, but yet so many of us find it hard or uncomfortable to give. I am talking about encouragement.

How often do you notice something about someone else? If you’re like me, you notice all kinds of things. How a person cares for themselves, how they speak, their mannerisms, how they respond, how they spend their spare time, their work ethic . . . on and on. Some of these things I observe within just a few moments, others take some time while getting to know a person. However, through my observations, there is ALWAYS something praiseworthy.

Do you know that God wants to use all of us to speak out these areas of admiration in others? If we notice something good, by all means, we need to SAY IT! I have observed an interesting phenomenon in this stage of life. We often notice something good, think it, and either say nothing OR we mention it to someone else.

Do we withhold praise or encouragement because we are afraid of puffing up one’s ego? Do we withhold encouragement because of our own insecurities? Do we withhold it because we are waiting for the other person to acknowledge something positive in us first? I’m not certain, but what I do know is that you could do a world of good in someone’s heart, mind, attitude and disposition by telling them the good you see in them.

None of us are perfect. We all have things we need to work on, but why not choose be a Titus? Why not encourage? We can’t take away life's problems, but we can lift or lighten the load with a genuine word of praise or affirmation. I think of all of the children who long to hear a genuine word from their parents. I think of all of the spouses who just long to be appreciated or recognized. I think of all the stay at home moms, or hard working employees, who would be so lifted by a positive word. Let’s not wait to receive it ourselves. Let’s make a vow to not withhold it from others. Let’s freely give the free gift of encouragement.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11


In the Face of Adversity

“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” I don’t know about you, but it really irritates me when someone says this to me in the middle of a trial, even if it is said with good intentions. The last thing I want to hear is that my hardship is somehow good for me. But the truth is, sometimes this is correct. Sometimes, the very thing I resent most in my life is the very thing that makes me a better version of myself. My son, who just completed his freshman year of high school, shared with me his assertion statement that he used and supported on his English final. It really struck a chord with me.

“I suggest true identity is revealed during one’s response to the challenges that he faces.” – Brett Landmon

True identity. Hmmm. His claim suggests that a person’s identity isn’t fully realized until he has been challenged. In other words, you really don’t become you until you have endured and reacted to life’s difficult moments. This makes trials an integral part in one’s development.

I know I am getting philosophical here, but bear with me. God is a God of love. And like a parent, He wants us to become the best us we can be. With that being said, He allows us to undergo difficulties and trials so that we emerge into strong, faith-filled people. The result is an identity found in Him, and Him alone.

Let’s look at the life of Joseph. There is no better example in the Bible regarding this truth. Joseph had a dream from the Lord, showing him that one day he would be ruling over his brothers. Like a normal teenage boy, he was excited about what the future held. Naively, Joseph didn’t comprehend the road ahead. It was a road that would be marked with difficulty and hardship – betrayal, slavery, seduction, and prison.

I’m guessing that young Joseph may not have been so excited about his future if he had seen what he had to go through in order to get there. However, all these challenging circumstances were necessary to develop his identity. It grew his faith, confirmed his commitment to God, and ultimately prepared him to lead a country and save it and his entire family from famine.

Some of you have seen glimpses of your future, maybe even through a dream or prophetic word like Joseph. Yet, your current situation doesn’t line up with what you thought your future held. You feel defeated, and the dreams once inside of you are starting to fade away.

Please don’t let today’s trial prevent you from embracing your future. Life may be hard. It may not make sense. But, if you are truly submitted to God and His ways, one day it will come to be. You are in the process of building your identity. As you go through each trial, God is preparing you for the next step, building spiritual muscle and leaving a trail of His faithfulness in your path.

Remember, God didn’t change his mind about Joseph. And, God hasn’t changed his mind about you. God knows what it required to prepare you for your destiny. So ladies, follow Joseph’s example. Don’t become bitter. Let your trials and hardships help you become better.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4

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Hope for the Brokenhearted

(A message to Brock Turner’s victim and all women who are the victim of sexual assault.) Dear Sweet Friend,

In light of all the controversy surrounding your attack, I felt it necessary to reach out to you in love, one woman to another. Even though I can’t begin to comprehend the pain you are going through, I want you to know that I am praying for you. In fact, women all across the world are rallying behind you, sending you love and support.

When heinous acts like this occur, people like to blame the culture or the alcohol, and yes, these are all contributors to this type of violence. But, I want you to know this kind of evil is not new. This kind of evil has sought to destroy women since the beginning of time. We even see two instances of rape recorded in the Old Testament – Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, and King David’s daughter, Tamar.

You see, the strategy of the enemy is to try to destroy the worth of women. And, unfortunately, he is often successful. But, I don’t want this to be the case for you. I don’t want you to be another statistic, especially when I know that God can restore you.

I can only imagine what this violation has done to your self-esteem. Besides the obvious post-traumatic stress that robs you of your present peace, it also seeks to destroy your future. Brock’s father has downplayed this act as 20 minutes of poor judgment, but I know that your healing will take years.

This kind of violation strips a woman down of her worth and self-value. She feels used and damaged. She likely questions her future, her destiny, and her contribution to society. But, please know that these, too, are lies of the enemy.

You are a beautiful woman created in the image of God. He has plans and fullness of life still ahead for you, despite this horrible event. He is able to turn your brokenness into healing, and your hurt back into joy.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." – Jeremiah 29:11

So, as you continue down your healing path, I encourage you to reach out to Jesus. Allow Him to permeate every inch of your heart. Lean on Him, and become the woman He intended you to be. Don’t let this vile act define you. Life is not over, it just took a detour. There is always hope with Jesus by your side.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18

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Damaged Goods

Have you ever felt like “damaged goods”? You know, where your circumstances have caused people around you to look at you differently. You may have been through a horrible divorce. You may have fallen off the ladder of success due to downsizing or poor choices, and are now unemployed. Or maybe, an unforeseen sickness has blindsided you. You’d like to believe that God still has plans for your life, yet the stigma attached to an unplanned circumstance has deflated your dreams. If you can relate, then this blog is for you. First of all, if you woke up this morning and you still have breath in your lungs, you need to understand that God still has a purpose for your life. I don’t know the specifics of your particular situation, but this truth remains the same for everyone. The world may see you as unusable, but God sees opportunity in your struggle. Opportunity? Yes, opportunity. You see, God loves using broken people. He takes all the disappointment and heartache, and He uses it for His glory.

Let’s take a look at the life of Job. This is a book in the Bible that I always avoided because I could not understand how God would allow the righteous to suffer so much. Instead of digging in and trying to see the purpose of including it in the scriptures, I just avoided it altogether.

Interestingly, I have now been tremendously encouraged when reading it. Job underwent great tragedy in his life and much suffering. Actually, Job experienced some of the worse type of misfortune – loss of his children, loss of financial security, and a horrible sickness that brought him much pain. But, God never looked at him as damaged goods. God still had plans and blessings for Job, in spite of the brokenness that he experienced.

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. – Job 42:12

Ladies, I want to encourage you today by letting you know that just like in the case with Job, God hasn’t abandoned His plans for you. You have purpose. It doesn’t matter how others see you. All that matters is how God sees you.

You may be broken, but with Jesus, you are not damaged beyond repair!

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Damaged Goods

Big Girl Temper Tantrum

Have ever had a day when everything goes your way? You say the right thing, you do the right thing, and it seems like God's favor follows you wherever you go. Well, yesterday was not one of those days for me. In fact, it was the complete opposite. Don’t misunderstand, God’s protection and love are ever present in my life, but yesterday presented some testing that pushed me over the edge. I tried to remain full of faith, control myself from being offended, and hold my tongue. But the harder I tried, the faster this “Pollyanna” approach failed.

And, that’s when everything fell apart. That’s when this 39 year-old woman broke down in a full-blown temper tantrum before her Heavenly Father. It included tears and streaming mascara. It included bold statements questioning God’s plans, purposes, and path for my life and that of my family. I boldly suggested that He must have not been listening to my prayers because, if He was, I would not be having the day I was having. I even threw in extra stuff from the past just to make it more dramatic and prove my point.

Why am I sharing a very personal moment from my life with all of you? Because, as I emptied out all my frustrations, confusion, and hurt before the Lord, He was able to come in and fill me up with His perspective and peace.

You see, sometimes we hold our emotions in and walk around like everything is just fine when we really are hurting inside. We don’t want to appear faithless, and so we keep quoting scripture, we put a smile on our face, and we talk ourselves up. But sometimes, we just need to go to God and let it all out. He is not afraid of our questions, and He certainly is not mad at us for feeling helpless and confused.

I know that as a parent, I am moved with compassion for my children when they are hurt or need direction. I will do anything in my power to comfort them. I don’t like complaining or whining, but I am happy when my kids let me in on how they are feeling. And, so is God.

All throughout the Psalms, we see David and others crying out to the Lord for answers. We see them expressing their hurt and concerns openly and honestly to the Lord.

"How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?" – Psalm 13:1-2

Ladies, you don’t need to have it all together. You are not expected to. Be honest and invite God into the trying situations in your life. Lean on your Heavenly Father for strength, insight, and peace, and you will not be disappointed.

"O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge." – Psalm 62:8


While She's Waiting


I woke up this morning praying for a friend of mine who has been waiting on the Lord for a while over a situation in her life. After some time praying, I felt that breakthrough was coming soon and decided to send her a quick text to give her some encouragement while she’s waiting. This task seemed simple enough, but I really struggled with what I should write. You see, it is much easier to be the encourager than it is to be the one waiting. I’ve been in both seats and know this truth all too well. But this morning, I really wanted to reassure my friend of God’s promises, as she likely is growing weary. I wanted her to know that she wasn’t alone in this, and that I was standing in agreement with her over this situation. I wanted to let her know that God was in the midst of this battle, and she needs to just trust him completely.

This all sounds wonderful, except that words can seem empty, and possibly condescending. It is extremely difficult to be in the middle of a waiting period and not lose faith. But, this is precisely the kind of faith that God wants to generate in each of us. He wants faith that does not demand timetables. He wants faith that doesn’t focus on the impossibility of a situation. He wants faith that may seem crazy to everyone else. And, He wants faith that does not lose heart.

Ladies, I want to encourage each of you today with this truth – God has not forgotten you. He has not abandoned you in the midst of your battle. You are not alone in this. Although you can’t see it, your breakthrough is coming. Don’t lose faith!

So, my sweet friend, stop listening to the lies of discouragement telling you that it is never going to happen. Instead, take a moment today to marvel in God’s great love for you and His infinite power to do the miraculous.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ We hope that you will be able to join us for the "Taking Every Thought Captive" Conference on Saturday, September 19th from 9:00 a.m. - 3:oo p.m. We expect it to be a refreshing time for all women. Special Guest, Amy Carroll, from Proverbs 31 Ministries, will be speaking that day about her new book, "Breaking Up With Perfect." Tickets are $35. Go to eventbrite.com to get your ticket today.

For more information, go to http://www.womengetreal.org/event/taking-every-thought-captive-womens-conference/

Supermom Syndrome


Although I was a little too young to watch this show in its first airing, I loved watching Wonder Woman in reruns. Diana Prince appeared to be just a normal woman, that is, until a situation that required her super powers arose. Then, with a delicate spin of her body and flip of her hair, she was instantly transformed into a full-fledged super hero. I loved pretending to be her when I was younger. What girl didn’t? Not only did she have special powers, but she also wore a tiara (that doubled as a boomerang). Need I say more?

I would spin aimlessly around in the yard switching back and forth from normal girl into Wonder Woman, taking trips on my invisible plane, and lassoing all the imaginary bad guys. I even confess that I had the Wonder Woman “Underoos.” I was a fan.

Well, I am all grown up, married, and have two children, so I don’t pretend that I am a Wonder Woman any longer. That would be ridiculous! But sometimes, I do think that I need to be Supermom.

The pressure we women put on ourselves is incredible and unnecessary. We sometimes feel that we need to be perfect. We feel the outcome of our children is entirely based on our efforts. If we fail at even the slightest thing, we think that our children will be impacted negatively. We need to remember, there is no such thing as a perfect mother, but there is a perfect God.

Now don’t misunderstand, God has called us to be great parents. We are to instruct our children in the ways of the Lord. We are to love them, nurture them, and train them up in the things of God. But, we are human, and we will make mistakes. In fact, if you are not a perfect mom, you are in good company. In Luke 2:41-46, we see an account of a not-so-perfect mother moment.

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days, they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

Many of you have read this scripture before, but did you realize that Jesus was missing for four days (one of which his mother didn’t even know he was gone). Mary, the example for all mothers, lost, or shall I say misplaced, her son, Jesus, for days. And despite the not-so-perfect mother moment, I think we can all agree that He turned out ok.

Ladies, we need to spend less time trying to get the “Parent of the Year” award and more time praying and trusting God for our children’s future. We need to lay aside our efforts to be Supermom, and focus on pointing our kids toward God, the only real super hero.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.    Proverbs 22:6

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So Loved

Train wreck. Failure. Screw up. Loser. Worthless. Ugly. Useless. Fat. Hopeless. Stupid. Pathetic. Sinner. Have these words ever been spoken over you? Worse yet, are these words you have spoken over yourself? Words spoken over us shape the way we define ourselves. Truth disappears and perceived reality becomes truth. We then begin to define ourselves according to the wrong standard – a standard that is not from God.

The devil wants to make us feel insecure and keep us broken. He doesn’t want us to know that there is freedom from these lies through Christ Jesus. Hear me today – you are not defined by these words. You have a future with Christ Jesus. You are loved by the Father.

For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

You need to understand that even if you were the only person on the planet, Jesus would have still died on the cross because of His immeasurable love for you. Jesus’ death is the ultimate gesture of love. You need to understand that nothing can separate you from the love of God.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39

Some of you may be struggling with sins in your past and you may think that you have a legitimate reason to believe these negative words. God can turn the biggest catastrophe into a beautiful masterpiece, but you need to let Him. Make a choice today to believe what the Word of God says about you.

Right now, I want you to look yourself in the mirror and repeat after me:

I have a future with Jesus.

I am beautiful.

I have purpose.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

There is hope for me.

I am forgiven.

I am redeemed.

I am His.


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Standing Strong


March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Well, in Connecticut, we are definitely still in the lion phase, as evidenced by the strong winds and snowstorm we just experienced. One morning last week, I had a rare opportunity to just sit. Snow was still blanketing my backyard and the winds were howling fiercely, but the sun was shining. So I decided to take a few moments out of my busy day and just enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.

I stared out my back window and was mesmerized by the trees in the woods swaying from side to side. They moved in perfect harmony as the wind blew around them. Interestingly, as much as they bent and swayed, these trees were in no danger of falling. These particular trees are mature trees, deeply rooted in the ground. A branch may fall off from time to time, but these trees stand strong.

As I watched this seemingly insignificant nature moment, my mind drew a parallel from what was happening with the trees to the life of a Christian. You see, everyone experiences howling winds from time to time. They are unavoidable. In fact, scripture says we are to expect them. But, those whose foundation is deeply rooted in Christ will not fall.

I personally have experienced these types of winds many times throughout my life. Even though I wished I could have stopped them while they were blowing, I look back and recognize that the Lord was with me through the storms. He never left my side. My faith and my trust were deeply rooted in Him, and Him alone.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8

So, how do we grow deep roots? How do we become women of God that aren’t going to cower at the storms that come our way? First, we need to study the scriptures and all His glorious promises. We need to get these scriptures from our mouth, to our head, and to our hearts so that we can remain steadfast.

Second, we need to spend time with Him in prayer so that He can build us up and strengthen us. We need to be building our faith muscles during the moments of calm. This is only accomplished through uninterrupted time with Him.

Lastly, we truly need to comprehend the depth and intensity of God’s love for us. Once we wrap our heads around that, we can endure any storm that comes our way knowing that our Heavenly Father is in control of our lives.

Ladies, when the winds begin to blow – and I promise you they will – remember you will not fall over if you are deeply rooted in Him. As long as you make God number one in your life, He has got you. You may bend, you may sway, you may even lose a branch, but you will endure the storm and stand strong.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught. – Colossians 2:6-7

The Power of the Tongue

We are all guilty. I’ve done it more times than I care to admit and I’m sure you have too. It just happens. And like that, the words are out. You can apologize, but you can’t take them back. You can never truly repair the damage words can cause. Words hurt. They hit deep. God has called us to be masters of our tongue and the words that are generated from it. We are to use our words to build up and encourage one other, not tear one another down. The tongue has power. In fact, according to Proverbs 18:21:

“The tongue has the power of life and death.”

People don’t always understand the tremendous power and impact that their words actually have. I was so disheartened at a recent middle school basketball game I attended. I arrived at my son’s game a little early and the coach from the game before was speaking to his team after they just had a tough loss.

Instead of trying to point out the positives and encourage these boys to work harder the following week, he decided to let them know how “embarrassed he was” of their performance on the court. He continued to berate them letting them all know that he “was not paid to be their coach” and that they were “wasting his time.”

Wow! I’m sure those kids felt built up after that pep talk. The coach had an opportunity to encourage his team, yet he chose to use his words as a weapon instead of a life-giving source.

We all are careless with our words and say things we shouldn’t from time to time. But, we need to realize that exercising control of our tongue is an intentional practice. It doesn’t occur by happenstance. It requires work and wisdom from above. We need to start our day asking the Holy Spirit to guide our words and conversations. We have a responsibility of speaking life and spreading love to this world.

Ladies, ask yourself, “what do I want my words to accomplish?” I don’t know about you, but I want to speak hope into the hopeless, life into the lifeless, joy into the downcast, and peace into the fear stricken. I want my words to bring healing to the broken. There are so many broken people out there that just need a kind word to set them back on course. I want to be a woman who delivers that kind word. This won’t happen by chance. It requires discipline and total reliance on God.

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18