Monthly Archives

March 2016

Cultivate Book Blub

Preparing for My Imperfect Progress

This week we begin our study through Lysa Terkuerst’s book Unglued, I am so excited to go on this journey together. As we start this journey, there are three really important things we all need to know:

1. This book is not a substitute for THE book. Lysa is a great author. She is a gifted story teller and this book is filled with amazing truths. But it’s important for us to remember that the truths she is sharing with us are inspired by and rooted in the ultimate truth found in God’s word. Her book isn’t meant to be a substitute for our Bible reading or study. That is why each week there will be time dedicated to Bible study and teaching when we gather together. If you’re going through the book with some friends or on your own, be sure to go through the questions we provide on the blog each week. 

2. This is a journey of imperfect progress. Once you begin reading through this book, you are probably going to feel both challenged and convicted. This is a good thing, but it is also a hard thing. Once we are confronted with some things in our lives that need to change, what lies before us is the hard work of actually changing. So remember, we are on this journey together. And we are going to celebrate our imperfect progress along the way. We are not always going to get it right. We are going to experience success, but we are also going to experience failure. So, tuck this away: There is grace enough for _____________.  Whatever it is, there is grace to cover it. We are going to stay committed to the process of growth regardless of how many times we blow it.

3. This is an opportunity to cultivate the heart of God in our lives. None of us needs one more thing to do. We are all busy, so whatever we are giving our time to better mean something. Book Club isn’t meant to just be a fun social time (though we want it to be fun) or just a Bible study (though we will definitely study the Bible). It is meant to help us on our journey of becoming REAL with ourselves, God and others. It is meant to help us become more like Jesus. Here is the truth: The world isn’t desperate for Christians who know more. It is desperate for Christians who will do more with what they know. So, as we read and learn, the outworking of that process should be growth. Cultivating the heart of God in our lives is worth everything we have, so let’s stay committed to the growth process – even when it hurts…and it will. But, when the growth process is painful remember that Christ is being formed in you and He will be faithful to finish the good work that He has started!

Are you ready? Let’s go.



Cultivate Book Club Week 1:

Small Group Discussion Questions

1. Share about a time that you felt severely unprepared for a task or situation you were responsible for. What happened? How did you feel?

2. The subtitle for our book this season Unglued is this: Making wise choices in the midst of raw emotions. Why is it hard to make wise choices when our emotions are raw?

3. Philippians 3: 13b, the Apostle Paul says “forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…” What are some things you need to leave in the past as you begin this new journey of imperfect progress?

4. How can this group pray for you as you strive to become real with yourself, God and others?

Cultivate Truth

Forsaking Formulas

Forsaking Formulas

I really suck at math. My 6th grade son’s math homework makes my brain explode. It took me my freshman and sophomore year to complete Algebra 1. It just doesn’t register with me. I remember my algebra teacher helping me in those after school tutoring sessions and him saying to me, “Melody, if you can just remember the formulas, you will make it. The formulas always work.” And that is how I passed Algebra 1 in only two years with a solid C, remembering the formulas. Cheers please.

Formulas are great. We use them all the time – recipes, diets, budgets, etc. We like plans. We don’t like problems and we are eager to tackle them with ready-made solutions. And we never lack for solutions. Regardless of our ailment, struggle, sickness or situation, there is usually a remedy and we run to it. Why wouldn’t we? If something hurts, make it stop. If something is wrong, make it right. If life isn’t going the way we planned, let’s figure it out, find a formula for our “problem” and work it until we have the desired results.

Here’s the issue: If you have lived longer than a minute, then you already know that life hands us a lot of problems that aren’t fixable. We can’t just google what to do next and be rid of our angst, worry, addiction, depression, diagnosis, distress, you fill in the blank. And here’s the even bigger issue: Christians have bought into this formula driven life. Our bookstores and bumpers are full of quippy little statements that subtly imply – “if you do this, God will do this.” And because we want that to be true so badly, we scour the bible for those promises and we plaster them on our Facebook walls and our t-shirts. We shout from the mountain tops that “GOD WORKS ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR GOOD,” and we share that in our small groups when the couple sitting across from us tells us their marriage is falling apart, or that they are on the brink of financial ruin. We grab their hands and we say, “let’s pray Jeremiah 29:11 over that situation because we all know that God has plans for you to prosper and have great success…”


Sometimes the cancer does come back and sometimes the prodigal child doesn’t return home. Sometimes the cheating husband does marry the other woman. Sometimes the depression just won’t go away. Sometimes the house does go into foreclosure. Sometimes life just falls apart.  And there is no formula to fix it. Then what?

Here’s another promise from Jesus himself that we don’t see on bumpers that often:

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows…”

That probably won’t sell a lot of t-shirts or get a lot of likes on Facebook. But thank God, He keeps going.

“…But take heart (be courageous, be undaunted, be filled with joy) because I have overcome the world.”

In those last 5 words we find the answer, the true hope for any situation and what we can cling to when life beats us down: I have overcome the world. Jesus is literally saying that He has conquered everything in this world and has victory over every single thing that happens inside of it. The cancer, the lost job, the wayward child, the anxiety, the desperation, the insecurities, the fear, the death of your beloved…He is not defeated by any of it. He is more powerful than all of it. None of those things can conquer Him. Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, that’s great for Him, but where does that leave us?” It leaves us right where we need to be.

Forsaking formulas. Throwing them out and throwing ourselves at His feet. Understanding that He is the prize. That His presence will always be better and more satisfying than His presents. Life is really going to suck sometimes. It is going to be really, really, really hard. But He makes us another promise:

“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

No formulas. No strings attached. No gimmicks. Just Him…

And my prayer for myself and for all of you is that we will come to the place where we truly believe that He is enough.



Cultivate Friendship

Be Kind First

Hi ladies,

This past weekend we asked you to wear your Cultivate gear (*squad shirt, sweatshirt or t-shirt) to church and introduce yourself to a woman you don’t know and be exceptionally kind.  

*don’t have any Cultivate gear? You can purchase some at each campus!

Wearing your gear is easy. But introducing yourself to a total stranger, this is SO intimidating and like the scariest thing ever right?! I know. Trust me!

In the early days of Sandals Church it was pretty much Matt and I (and Madison, but she couldn’t talk yet so she was of no help). Today at Sandals Church, there are literally thousands of people. Do you know how this happened? It happened by one person at a time, introducing ourselves to them, and being exceptionally kind. I kid you not, this is how it happened. Once people knew us and experienced kindness, they wanted to be a part of what God was doing with us at this place.

I’m no different than any woman out there. I much prefer when someone says hello and is kind to me first. It’s just so much easier and less scary that way. However, if we all behave that way, then no one would ever say hello first and be kind. I, like the rest of you, worried each and every time in those early days. “What if they think I’m weird, creepy, ridiculous, stupid, a Jesus freak?”  Embarrassment is one of my biggest fears in life and how embarrassing is it when someone thinks you’re weird, creepy, ridiculous, stupid, a freak? I used to worry about everything that could go wrong in reaching out to meet new people. However, my conviction and calling for what we were doing was stronger than my fear and we did it. We introduced ourselves to our mailman, grocer, co worker, neighbor down the street, everyone and anyone. Fast forward 20 years later, it looks like a lot more went right than wrong doesn’t it? Sandals Church has seen thousands of lives come to Christ. It is truly amazing!

Be encouraged and inspired to not be afraid of what could go wrong in introducing yourself to a woman you don’t know and showing exceptional kindness on the weekend. Rather, be excited about everything that could go right. You never know, you could be meeting a woman who is one of your new best friends. Let’s live out the vision of exceptional kindness towards the women of our church. That is a total win to me!

In the spirit of meeting someone you don’t know, if you see me, please introduce yourself (and be kind). I’d love to meet you!


Tammy Brown

Cultivate Friendship

Cultivate Connection

This past weekend at each campus, we asked women to wear their Cultivate shirts and to #cultivatekindness and #cultivatefriendship by introducing yourselves to a new woman. It is our sincere hope that every woman who shows up to Sandals Church will be able to find other women kind and welcoming. Thank you to all who joined us.

At the beginning of this month, we launched our plan to Cultivate together every weekend. Each weekend has a different focus. Join us for each one:

  • 1st weekend we will Cultivate PRAYER
    • Pray together after each service
  • 2nd weekend we will Cultivate CONNECTION
    • Wearing Cultivate shirts/gear and meeting someone new
  • 3rd weekend we will Cultivate KINDNESS
    • On the 3rd weekend of the month we will encourage women to show exceptional kindness by doing RAK’s (random acts of kindness) to someone who volunteers in a specific ministry area.
  • 4th weekend we will Cultivate KINDNESS IN THE COMMUNITY
    • Random acts of kindness to someone in your community


Cultivate Women

Cultivate Book Blub

Why Cultivate Book Club?

A year ago I started the Cultivate book club because, quite frankly, I wanted to go through a book with other women. You were hoping for something more poignant right? Nope, I love reading books that give me soul care and spiritual direction. I love sharing and working through what God is teaching me as I read with others. I want to be able to share those parts that stood out to me, convicted me, inspired me and challenged me. I want to have others encourage me in the process and I’m willing to do the same for others.  

So there you have it, the Cultivate Book Club was formed. What started as 40ish women in our first session has grown to 140, and this is just because that is how much space we have available. I wanted to carve out space and time for women to unplug from the in’s and out’s of their day and plug into God. And this is just what we’ve done.

The Cultivate Book Club is a space carved out for women to come together to connect, to worship, to receive soul care, to discuss what they are learning, to pray for one another and to have a safe environment of exceptional kindness to be real with themselves, God and others. Make no mistake about it, this is a Bible study! In everything we read we look to God’s word and what it says for our spiritual direction.

I realize that women have very full lives and not everyone is able to come to Cultivate Book Club in the mornings. This does not mean you can’t be a part of what we’re doing and how we are growing together as the women of Sandals Church. If you are unable to attend on Thursday mornings you can:

  1. Join a ROGO group of women and go through the book in the evenings or on weekends  
  2. Grab a friend, group of friends, neighbors, coworkers, anyone and go through the book together when you are available
  3. Read the book on your own and follow along on the blog for recaps, journal questions and next steps for spiritual direction  

Bottom line… There is a way for YOU to Cultivate with us!

1 Corinthians 1:10 says, “ I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.”  

Cultivate Book Club is one way we… ‘cultivate a life in common’,  by meeting together, praying for one another, worshipping, and studying God’s word for soul care and spiritual direction.

Join us at


Tammy Brown

Cultivate Prayer

Cultivate Prayer

Hi ladies. This past weekend after each service, on each campus, women of Sandals Church met to cultivate prayer together. This time was absolutely precious. There’s just something about coming together and praying with one another, for one another. It is my heart for the women of our church to be women who take prayer seriously, knowing that our words can have eternal impact on one another’s lives, that prayer is cultivated into our everyday life, relationships and circumstances.

Matthew 18:18-20 says, “Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”  

Let’s be real ladies, this life and all that it brings with it is far more than we can handle on our own.

Ephesians 6:13-18 makes no pretense in regards to this. It says, “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”  

James 5:16 & 17 say, Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.”  

And so we shall…. Make this a common practice, the practice of cultivating prayer together.  Ladies, please join us the first weekend of each month, on each campus following each service, to cultivate prayer together with one another for one another.  

Here’s how this will work:

  • The first weekend of each month, on each campus, after each service
  • 10 minutes after service meet in the *designated area (*follow @cultivatewomen on Instagram or Facebook to know where to meet)
  • Look for your Cultivate campus coordinator or Cultivate Prayer minister
  • Spend 10 minutes praying together as women for women
  • Go about your day!

It’s as simple as this. If you have a specific prayer you need prayed for we will also be praying 1-1 following this time. You’re probably thinking… “what if I have a prayer request and it’s not the first weekend of the month?” I’m so glad you asked. We want to pray for you! You matter to us! Outside of each restroom on each campus we are installing prayer boards. This is a place you can write out your request and leave it for us to collect at the end of each weekend. Your request will be kept confidential and prayed for during the week, and (if you so desire) we will contact you to let you know that you were prayed for and to follow up on how you’re doing and how we can further pray or praise God for His answered prayers in your life.  

It’s an honor to be your pastor’s wife and to cultivate prayer together with you. I look forward to all that God will do as we take prayer seriously!


Tammy Brown

Cultivate Friendship

Friendship for the Introvert

Friendship is tough for me. I like women. I like having friends. I like having friends that are women. I just struggle spending a lot of time with women – even those that I consider friends. Sounds awful. It is a little awful. But I am an introvert – socially bizarre and covetous of alone time. There are those people that are refueled by spending quality time with others. I am the opposite. I am scared to death of quality time – and people. Now, I have my girl squad. My few friends that know I’m a kook, completely accept my need to cave-dwell (but don’t let me live there) and love me no matter what. They get me. They don’t give up on me when I go AWOL. They strap on their hip boots, grab a flashlight and a piece of pie (just not apple, please) and head into the deep dark cave where I dwell. They coax me out with the one thing that binds us together as women. The symbol and true meaning of unconditional love. The one thing that will get me to do absolutely anything – the pie (and don’t bring cheesecake. Cheesecake is not pie).

I am most afraid other girls will not “get me” or worse, they do get me and see through my cool, hip exterior and straight into my glaring insecurity. It’s the people who don’t truly love me and will most likely not see my socially inept solitude-loving quirkiness as part of my charm that I am most concerned about. My fear is that they meet me and expect more than I can give and when I finally look up from my sensible and comfortable flats, I see the door swing closed and hear a resounding, “See ya later, sucker!” Okay, that is a bit dramatic but it is totally how it happens in my head.

The biggest issue I have with women, especially meeting new women, is my inability to end a conversation well. We will be heading down the right path and it begins to look like we might have a friendship match and then fear hits as we approach the conversation wrap up and sign off.

New friend: “So, it was great meeting you. We will have to get toge…”

While she is talking, true terror hits like a wicked hot flash and I begin fidgeting, waiting for my moment to bust in with my standard introvert “Okay bye.” I’m so concerned that my sign off is going to be lame that I practice it in my head over and over while she is executing her flawless wrap up. Meanwhile I look like I’m getting ready to jump into a round of double dutch. My “okay bye” routinely comes out as a rapid fire “okah-bah” and I abruptly turn and walk away shaking my head and singing to myself, “another one bites the dust…” I know this leaves my conversation mate wondering if I had a mini-stroke or if I am just that awkward. Trust me, I’m just that awkward. In a perfect world I would interact with people once a week, maybe twice, probably as much as I go #2. In a perfect world.

But then there is this:

Philippians 2:1-4

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Bam! Smacked me right between the eyes. Because in reality my introverted-ness – is that a word? My introvertability? Oh, better. My Introvertabilty is my crutch and my excuse to not have to be who God created me to be. He created us to “Love our neighbor as we love ourselves,” Mark 12:31, and I honestly think I am winning in the “love ourselves” department, but failing miserably in the “love my neighbor.” I said it myself  “My fear is that they meet me and expect more than I can give…” More than I can give? It’s amazing how I limit myself when it suits me. My selfish ambition is to self protect. Protect myself from getting hurt. Protect myself from having to give too much of myself, or worse, be expected to actually guide people towards Christ. But God did not make any differentiations as to who was to serve him. We are all to serve God and love his people. And he has equipped us with more than we will ever need to do the job.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witness in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Act 1:8

Yeah, he means all of us. Even us socially awkward introverts.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Or in my case, so, whether you eat pie or cave dwell or embarrass yourself in front of new friends, do it all to the glory of God.


The cave dwelling introvert