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cultivating kindness

Cultivate Truth

Summer VLOG: Week 3

Cultivate Truth: 100 Days in the Word

It’s Week 3 of our Cultivate Summer VLOG series and we’re so glad you’re here! If you’ve missed any part of our series so far, simply visit our home page to catch up. It’s never to late to join our Cultivate Teaching Team as they share wisdom, insight and truth through Lysa TerKeurst’s best selling devotional, Embraced!

This week, we welcome Lori Albee as she encourages us to seek God in our decision making.


Hi friends,

As women we face many decisions, but some can be more crucial than others. It seems lately the media has highlighted so many people who, when hurting, compound their pain by making decisions that lead them on a path of destruction rather than healing. This week we discuss how making crucial decisions in the dark can have devastating consequences and we are reminded that nothing we’ve done is beyond God’s redemption.

By being women of exceptional kindness, love and intentionality, we can help one another embrace God’s direction for our lives in the midst of whatever decisions we are facing. 

With love,

Lori



Let’s Dig Deeper:

This week, read Days 15-21 of Embraced. Answer the following questions on your own or discuss them with a friend and/or your community group:

  1. Without saying specific names, think about a time someone either reached out to you or didn’t reach out to you at a crucial time. Talk about how that impacted you either negatively or positively.
  2. Share about a time when God brought you out of something difficult. What was that process like for you? Encourage one another by sharing how you’ve grown or how your story has enabled someone else to keep going during a hard season.
  3. If you are in the midst of a difficult season, consider sharing with your group leader or someone you feel safe with.  You are not alone. If you’d like to connect with a pastor or licensed minister at Sandals Church, we’re here for you.
  4. Who in your world may be feeling stuck, hurting, or be facing a crucial decision? Without saying specific names, share your plan for how you are going to be intentional in not only praying for them, but also reaching out to them this week.

Lori Albee has had the opportunity to take on many roles in life…teacher, stay at home mom, Women’s Minister, and currently, the Environments Design Lead at Sandals Church. By far, however, her favorite role is being a wife to Matt (the funniest guy he knows) and mom to Cam and Raimi. Lori is a lover of God’s Word, sunsets, creativity, nature, beauty that comes from brokenness, second chances and she’s a believer that we are all far from over. She’s so excited to be with you on this journey through Embraced this summer! 


Registration for our Cultivate Conference & Marketplace is OPEN! You’re invited to experience Cultivate Women and our vision of spiritual growth in a community of kindness. Join us for worship, teaching, marketplace vendors and more. In addition to our special guest speaker, best selling author Lysa TerKeurst, you’ll be encouraged by our Cultivate Founder, Tammy Brown and Melody Workman, Cultivate Lead. Save the date, invite your friends and join us for a weekend of exceptional kindness!

September 21 & 22 | Sandals Church Hunter Park | For pricing, information and to register visit cultivate.sc/conference

Cultivate Peace in Your Mind
Cultivate Peace

Cultivate Peace in Your Mind

Welcome to Week 2 of our Cultivate Peace blog series! The heart behind this weekly series is to create a place where you can break from the busyness of the season and meet our Prince of Peace, our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God. He is with us and He is for us, and friends, that should bring great comfort and joy. We hope that by making room to reflect and respond to the truth of God’s word, you will be encouraged and equipped with practical ways to cultivate peace in your life.

If you missed last week’s post, take a minute to read how Melody Workman, our Cultivate Lead, cultivates peace through prayer. Whether you’re reading on your own or gathering to connect in community, we’re so glad you’re here and we want to hear from you! We invite you to share what you’re learning in the comments below or on Instagram and Facebook.


— Cultivate Peace in Your Mind —

I’m a collector of midnight thoughts. Do you know the kind? They keep you staring up at the ceiling as they race through your mind, sending your stomach into knots and stealing any chance of rest. These thoughts are the breeding ground for anxiety and the birthplace of fear.

Oh, the restless nights spent fixed on doubts. The hours lost questioning what I’ve said and done or even worse, worrying about what others think of my words and actions. I’ve wrestled with the past, wondering if a different argument or opinion might have changed everything. I’ve feared the future, doubting I had enough strength, knowledge, or talent to handle what lay ahead.

The thing about this late night battle—besides the fact that it’ll make a girl crazy—is that it’s all about what might have been and what could be, instead of what is. It’s about the past [the things we can’t change] or the future [the things we can’t control], instead of the present [what we choose now].

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You,
all whose thoughts are fixed on You.
Isaiah 26:3 NLT

Perfect peace. It can feel a bit out of reach, can’t it? In the middle of all the thoughts and emotions that hit us like a tidal wave, peace can feel distant and unattainable. And it is, if we try to find it within ourselves.

This world tempts us with its versions of “peace.” Maybe it’s a pastime or habit that temporarily numbs our cares. It might be a distraction that pushes our worries aside for a time and convinces us we’re okay. These brands of peace, with their instant gratification, might be easier to choose, but they’re fleeting at best.

Real peace is found in the presence of our Savior.

Jesus offers a peace beyond understanding. It’s perfect, not because of how it makes us feel, but because of who He is. The peace He promises is perfected in us because it comes through practice—by learning to take hold of our thoughts, turn them toward God and rather than doubt, worry, or wonder, we CHOOSE to trust Him. We choose the truth that His goodness, grace, and power are big enough to tackle anything we face.

I know this isn’t always easy, but the peace that Jesus offers is the only peace that lasts.

The most amazing thing: if we cultivate this practice of pursuing peace in our life, God doesn’t say He might give us peace, or He’ll give us some, then take it away. Isaiah 26:3 tells us that if we’ll keep trusting Him with our deepest thoughts—if we’ll be real with God—He will keep us at peace. How beautiful is that?

Sweet sisters, feelings are a thing. We have to be real with ourselves and acknowledge them, but feelings should not and do not get to rule our world. I want to be a woman who serves Jesus, not my emotions.

This is my prayer for us … that we would be a community of women who are not only real with each other, but hold one another accountable in the practice of peace. That we would gather up our doubts from the past, lay hold of our fears for the future, toss in our burdens and insecurities, and even if we have to drag them, even if it takes ten of us to carry them, even if we get it wrong and have to try over again, we bring those faith stealing feelings into the presence of our King and WE TRUST HIM and HIM ALONE.

What might that look like? Imagine us, a body of believers, cultivating real peace and exceptional kindness, instead of being tossed around by our wayward thoughts and fickle feelings. I think it could be incredible, and I think we can do it. Are you in?

With grace and peace,

Tiffany


LET’S DIG DEEPER:

  1. Is your thought life a battle? How does that effect your life and relationships?
  2. Are you tempted to numb your cares with temporary “peace?” What would it look like for you to pursue God instead?
  3. What are you anxious or worried about today? Take hold of that thought and turn it toward God. Are you willing to be real with Him? If not, why and what needs to change so that you can trust Him more?
  4. Write out Isaiah 26:3 and keep it in a place where you can see it. This week, commit to reading and re-reading it so that this promise of peace is sealed on your heart.

Tiffany Parry is the Cultivate Assistant at Sandals Church and helps support the administrative needs of the Cultivate team, as well as oversee social media and the blog. She’s a wife to Jason and mom to her one and only son, Dylan (14). While ministry and family keep her days full, Tiffany loves words, both reading and writing them, particularly those about authentic faith in the middle of the messiness of life. A day spent in pajamas, with a good movie, dark chocolate, and her family close by is one of her very favorite things.

Cultivate Prayer

God is Close to the Brokenhearted

Cultivate has and always will be a safe place for women to come as they are and be met with kindness and love. Last week, in lieu of our regular on campus programming, we paused to encourage and speak hope over our Cultivate community, many whom were impacted by the tragic events in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Together, Tammy Brown and Melody Workman reminded us that while our heart may be heavy and our spirit grieved, we have a very present hope in Jesus. We have the precious promises of God’s word.

He is with us. He is good to us. He will NEVER leave or forsake us.

Tammy and Melody encouraged us to turn to God in our moments of fear and anxiety, and also equipped us with scripture that we can fix our hearts and minds on when we struggle in these areas. We invite you to view the video teaching from last week, and even share it with friends and family who would be encouraged by this message of hope.

Afterwards, please take some time to dig deeper into God’s word as you work through the reflection activity below. It will not only encourage you now, but it will provide you with truth and promise to carry with you every single day.



DIG DEEPER: Discussion/Reflection Activity:

Alone or with your group, take a few moments to acknowledge any areas of fear you may be facing, perhaps even loss, grief, uncertainty, or loneliness. Grab a piece of paper or your journal and take a few moments to tell God what you feel as you admit these fears. Share with your group.

Next, meditate on this truth from God’s word:

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.
Do not be afraid…for I myself will help you, declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One.
Isaiah 41:13-14

How does this promise from God encourage you today? Discuss with your group.

As Christians, we live WITH fear, not IN fear. When fear rises up, fix your thoughts on the truth of God’s word. He is our refuge and strength. He loves us with an everlasting love. Fear does not have the power to dictate our life or choices, because our life is in the hands of a loving and good Father.

Fill in the blank: God, when I am afraid of_____________________, I will trust in YOU.

Close your reflection time by writing this verse in your journal or bible, and committing it to memory. When fear or the struggles of the world creep in, claim this truth as your own:

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid.
Psalm 56:3-4


We are here for you. If you or someone you know is struggling with fear or has been impacted by the recent events in Las Vegas, our Soul Care staff is available for help at www.sandalschurch.com/help

You are always invited to join us at any weekend services at all Sandals campuses where we gather together as a church to worship and pray. For times and locations, visit www.sandalschurch.com or to view live online visit www.sandalschurch.tv

Cultivating Wisdom & Kindness
Wise & Kind 31-day Proverbs Reading Challenge

Cultivating Wisdom & Kindness

Welcome! This month on the blog we’re taking a deeper look at Proverbs and the heart of Cultivate. Proverbs is packed full of motivation and inspiration to help us grow relationally kind, spiritually wise, and emotionally healthy, as well as encouragement to get connected in community and serve on a team.

If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to join our Wise & Kind 31-day Proverbs Reading Challenge. Just read the chapter in Proverbs that corresponds to the date on the calendar and use our REAL study method to respond to what you’ve read. Share what you’re learning with friends, your community group and join us here on Fridays or throughout the week on Instagram and Facebook.

Grab your Reading Challenge resources here.

Every Friday, we’ve invited real women to share how Proverbs is helping them cultivate the wisdom of God’s word into their heart and lives. Since we’re in this together, we’ve also included questions so that you or your community group can reflect, discuss and share what you’re learning. We can’t wait to hear what God is showing you!


— Cultivating Wisdom & Kindness —

We aren’t handy. In our 18 years of marriage, my husband and I have agreed that if someone in this universe has the gifts and talents to do what we need—repair the plumbing, paint the eaves, change the oil in the car—we will gladly write the check.

Why? We can’t. These things terrify us. It takes me 3-hours to hang a picture frame and only that long because I resort to pencil lines on the measuring tape just to avoid the fractions. I know, sad.

But when my husband decided he could save us several hundred dollars on a car repair by watching a YouTube video and attempting the job himself, I [for some absurd reason] agreed. The first clue we were in trouble was when he asked, “What’s that tool called?”

When things go sideways, my default is not wisdom and kindness. It’s justice.

I want to bullet point my reasoning, defend my position, and right all the perceived wrongs. Generally, this involves a bit of blame shifting and at least one “I told you so.” I confess, this isn’t at all attractive, but we rarely look in a mirror while we’re losing our minds, do we?

So, when the well-intentioned man I married walked in from the garage, his face pale and panicked, declaring, “I broke everything. Everything is broken and it’ll probably cost us a million dollars to fix it. Get your checkbook,” my reaction was not, Lord, what wise and kind words can I speak over this dear man?

My first thought was: I was right, you were wrong and let me tell you all the reasons why.

The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking;
the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words. Proverbs 15:28 NLT

Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I believe in the truth and fullness of His word, and I know my Father’s voice that speaks into my life through the Holy Spirit. One of my greatest prayers is that my heart would be pointed toward God and that daily He would weed out the sin and transform me. I’d like to believe there’s a bit of wisdom in me.

Not only have I experienced the power of kindness, but I’ve seen the effects of unkindness in places it should not exist and among God’s people who should know better. I want to be known as a woman who is kind.

But in the 3.5 seconds between my husband’s words and the search for my own, there was a war of spirit and flesh. Seriously. I’m almost positive I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Shut it.” If Jesus were at my side, He likely would have put His hand over my mouth and said, “Don’t even go there.” And really, sometimes I wish He would.

I wanted to speak my mind, but in those moments, something greater captured my heart: obedience.

If we know Jesus, wisdom and kindness are always within our reach, but without obedience they’ll just be empty virtues.

I’ve ignored the strongest prompting to hold my tongue because I wanted to be right.

I’ve read God’s word, then set it aside because I thought I knew better.

I can hear what God is saying, but the truth does nothing to change me if I do not obey.

My justice loving mind didn’t want to surrender control and submit to Christ’s authority, or to the respect my husband deserved from me. It took purpose and intention—a conscious choice to obey—to close my mouth and let a godly heart win over evil words.

I’m so glad I did, and I want to do it again…and again.

Anyone can be smart and nice, but we have a more excellent path to choose. Yes, we have a God of grace, who forgives every misstep and misspoken word that we confess, but we are also accountable to a good and just Father who desires obedience from His children.

I don’t want to settle for less. I want to be a woman who is wise and kind ON PURPOSE. I want to obey the Father who loves me and become who He has created me to be. Don’t you?

With grace,

Tiffany


LET’S DIG DEEPER…

  1. What does being a woman who is wise and kind mean to you? How can you cultivate these attributes into your heart and life?
  2. If you don’t choose wisdom or kindness first, what is it that you’re choosing (anger, fear, bitterness)? How does that choice impact you and what can you cultivate instead (kindness, patience, hospitality)?
  3. Read Proverbs 15:28. Have you ever allowed evil words to win over a godly heart? How could carefully thinking before you speak change things?

As you continue your study of Proverbs, consider these other verses on cultivating wisdom and kindness. Choose the one that most speaks to you, and be intentional about applying it to your life and allowing it to change who you are.

“Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.” Proverbs 15:33

“Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24

“When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.” Proverbs 31:26


Tiffany Parry is a Sandals Ministry Partner and is thrilled to serve Cultivate by supporting the blog and social media outreach. She’s married to Jason, who isn’t a mechanic but is a fantastic teacher, and is mom to her one and only son, Dylan (14). Tiffany is a lover of words and enjoys writing and sharing stories about faith in the middle of the messiness of life. If she can be surrounded by family, friends, dark chocolate, and sweet tea, she’s just about as happy as a girl can be.

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What “Serving on a Team” Means To Me

What does serving on a team mean to me? I am not sure which part of this Cultivate value is more impactful to me – SERVING GOD or being part of a TEAM.  I’m going to share a bit about both, but before I do, let me introduce myself.  I’m Denise White, Pastor Jeff White’s wife, and together we are loving, leading, and serving at Sandals Church Moreno Valley.

Four years ago, we came to Sandals from a small church in Riverside. It was the only church either of us had ever attended. Over the years, Jeff and I both served in a variety of roles as volunteers, leaders, teachers, and eventually staff. Sometimes it was because there was a need to be filled, but other times we intentionally used the gifts God gave us and stepped into a role or started a ministry.

In May of 2013, we left our church because Jeff was invited to join the staff at Sandals Church as the Director of Family Ministries. It became clear that God was calling us to serve Him at Sandals and a new season of ministry was about to begin. Our hesitation came in leaving the church and friends we knew, but that was replaced with an excitement in serving the God we love.

Serving God is an act of obedience but more than that, it is a response of the heart.

We serve because we respond to God’s affections for us. We serve to show our gratitude for all He’s done.

We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

He loved us so much He sacrificed His Son for us to save and give us eternal life. (John 3:16)

He chose to love us even in our brokenness. (Romans 5:8)

Rest on these thoughts for a moment and respond to God. 

If to love Him is to serve Him and to serve Him is to serve His church,
how then should we serve His church?

We should serve the way Jesus served us! We serve with a posture of humility. We put others first. We love unconditionally, and we serve sacrificially. Our attitude should be the kind that was shown us by Jesus Christ, who, though He was God, did not demand and cling to His rights as God, but laid aside His mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. He humbled himself even further, going so far as to actually die a criminal’s death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)  

“Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life
as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 NLT

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. 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 5:1-3 NLT

As we transitioned to Sandals, it didn’t take long before our family found places to serve. At a church our size, there is always opportunity. Plugging into a team was essential in grafting ourselves into this church. It was not something we had to convince ourselves to do or negotiate a way to fit into our schedules.

Serving is a part of who we are.

One of the beautiful aspects of serving God and His church is the invitation to participate in what God is doing.  So many great things are happening at Sandals Church. Lives are being changed, from the littlest kids to our more seasoned adults. As we serve within our church, we get to be a part of the amazing things that God is doing.

I like to say we get a front row seat! 

Serving God is an act of obedience but more than that, it is a response of the heart. | Serving on a Team |

What does serving others at Sandals look like? 

It might be holding a baby while parents listen to a much needed sermon, or giving a warm smile and friendly hello as a new family walks in our doors. Maybe it’s teaching a 3 year old what it looks like to pray.

It could mean operating a camera so people can watch the message from other locations, or you could be the one who directs cars so nobody gets frustrated while parking before service.

Maybe you’re called to pray over the man who just learned he has cancer, or listen to the woman whose marriage is falling apart. You could be a group leader and relationally draw others into a deeper walk with Jesus.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s making cookies for our new guests.

God in all His power and majesty could share the good news and bring healing to broken places without us, but He doesn’t. He’s called us to be part of that plan so we will see His powerful work unfold and give Him honor and praise along the way.

God desires for you to love Him, serve Him, and serve His church.

You just need to respond to His invitation.

  • BE WILLING: Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23 NLT
  • BE YOU: “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:4-5 MSG  

Jeff and I have served on many teams and ministries over the years and I hope many more to come. We serve because we are willing.

We said YES.

Most recently, we said yes to serving at Sandals Church Moreno Valley. Yes to stepping out of our comfort zone. Yes to serve until God leads us otherwise. We say yes to where we are needed.  And we serve as we are – ordinary people. We don’t have an extraordinary talent, we just utilize the gifts God has given us to the best of our ability. But we don’t stop there. We allow ourselves to grow in those gifts as God leads.

Remember, God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called!

God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings. Are you called to preach? Then preach as though God himself were speaking through you. Are you called to help others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies so that God will be glorified through Jesus Christ—to Him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11 TLB  

It is my deep hope that through my story you will realize just how much you are loved by our Father. He doesn’t need us but HE WANTS US.  Say yes to Him. Say yes to his gift of salvation. Say yes to his love. Say yes to his calling on your life.

That’s what serving on HIS TEAM means to me!

Love to all of you,

Denise


LET’S DIG DEEPER…

  1. Think of all the ways God has loved and served you. How might your service be a response to His sacrifice?
  2. God gave up His son for our salvation. What do you need to give up in order to serve others?
  3. Consider your gifts, talents, and resources. Where and how do you think God can use those at Sandals?
  4. Are you ready to answer God’s call to serve? If not, what would it take for you to say yes to Him?

If you’re ready and willing to serve on a team at Sandals Church, you can learn more here.


 

Denise White is the Cultivate Coordinator at Sandals Church Moreno Valley, where she loves doing life and ministry alongside her husband of 26 years, Campus Pastor Jeff White. Her joy is watching her children, Amber (23) and Tanner Callison, Justin (21) and Emily (17) become who God has created them to be. Denise loves creating, event planning, traveling and spending quality time with friends. While she’s known for baking her delicious Friday cookies, her secret wish is for a personal chef to cook dinner every night!