Monthly Archives

May 2016

Cultivate Truth

Believing God Loves Me

“You don’t believe God loves you, do you?”


“You don’t believe God loves you, do you?”

“Of course, I do — yes, of course.”


“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“I believe God loves me — I do.”

Freak! That was my first thought after the uncomfortable exchange with my chiropractor, Dr. Lundgren. My next thought was, Why is my chiropractor asking me about God? He is such a great doctor — why did he have to go and ruin it? Great, now I have to find a new one.

Why would I think God didn’t love me? What did my doctor see in me that I didn’t? What made him think I did not believe I was loved? The funny thing is, I would never find out because I never went back to him. I was terrified of his evaluation of me. We had a great doctor-patient relationship, and, looking back, it was awesome that he felt comfortable enough to call me out and hold me accountable for what I professed to be — a Christian. I was just not willing to hear the truth in that way. And, in all honesty, he was absolutely right: I did not believe I was loved. I certainly did not believe I was worthy.

Ever After is one of my favorite movies. It is a take on the classic Cinderella story, and, in my not-so-humble opinion, Drew Barrymore can do no wrong; so, of course it is the best rendition. After an emotional exchange, the lead character, Danielle, asks her stepmother if she ever loved her. Her stepmother coldly replies, “How can anyone love a pebble in their shoe?”

Ouch. That line gets me every time. And it best illustrates how I have always felt about my relationship with God. I must irritate him with my shame, doubt and fear. He must be tired of my constant screw-ups and the overwhelming amount of sin in my life. He has to, at some point, want to just kick off his glowing golden Birkenstocks and get rid of me — a meaningless and annoying little pebble in this world.

But he doesn’t. And in anguish I often scream to the heavens, “Why not? How can you love this … mess? I have done nothing good. I am…nothing good.”

We all know Psalm 139:13-14: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Wait. Back it up. “… I know that full well”? Do I? Do I know that full well? I blame American Idol for some of my doubt. You know some of those kids can’t sing, but their mommas cheer them on and insist, “Baby, you are better than that J.Lo.” But they are not. They are not better than J.Lo! Not even close. But I appreciate the love these mommas have for their babies and how they completely believe they hear sweet, sweet melodies coming from their clueless, tone-deaf, pitchy kids. Which is why there are impartial judges to speak the truth and crush hopes and dreams.…   

So, if I am being told I am good at everything when it’s obvious I’m not, what else am I believing to be true when it’s not?

This is where I get lost. I get completely tripped up on you telling me I’m as good as J.Lo, but then I don’t get my ticket to Hollywood. Not even close. So when you tell me I’m beautiful or smart or worthy of your love and forgiveness, is that truth or are you just “Jlo-ing” me? And what about the other people — the impartial judges in my life who have looked me straight in the eyes and said,

“I don’t want you anymore.”

“You’d be prettier if you lost weight.”

“Who do you think you are?”

Or, the worst in my opinion, as a 10-year-old child being told by my teacher, “You are a moron and can’t do anything right.” Ugh. Not even the courtesy of a half-J.Lo.

So, God, how again do I know that full well?

Ephesians 1:3–6: Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

OK, wait again. But, God, are you telling me that even though I’m not as good as J.Lo, even though the world tells me I’m not enough, I’m actually good enough for you? You want me? And I give you pleasure?

Great pleasure

So, you intentionally chose me and you love me even more than those mommas love their clueless, deaf-tone, pitchy kids?

Without fault

And, God, you’re saying that you’ll be with me, cheering me on whether I get that ticket to Hollywood or a ticket for doing 80 in a 20-mph zone — or worse? And you’ll still think I’m good, no matter what the impartial judges have to say?


Deuteronomy 31:6: Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

What about when I really mess up? Will you still be with me?

Psalm 139:17-18: How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

I am still with you
OK, God. I know that full well.


A girl named Lou

Cultivate Book Club

So What’s Next?

You know when an amazing experience is coming to an end — maybe polishing off a delicious steak (sorry, vegetarians … tofu?), the last scene of an awesome movie, or when you’re boarding the plane after a relaxing vacation — and you get that happy/sad feeling of, “This was so great and I don’t want it to end!”?

That’s how I feel when each season of Book Club comes to an end. For the last nine weeks, we have experienced such sweet times of worship and community while also soaking in the life-changing truths of this book and God’s Word together. It has been awesome.

And now we ask ourselves — what’s next?

The truth is some of us welcome the season of summer when many of our routines change and slow down somewhat. Others of us may feel anxious and nervous about the change, and we often run to activity to help fill in the gaps of our downtime.

Before any of us do anything, here’s my challenge. Stop. Breathe. Pause.

And then ask yourself two questions:

  1. How am I going to cultivate communion with God?
  1. How am I going to cultivate community with others?

Friends, in order for us to live the life God wants us to live — the abundant life that is full of His goodness — I am convinced these two things must be the top priorities in our lives.

Communion with God

Communion with God will look different for everyone, but the common ingredient is consistency. Making time each week to consistently commune, to meet with and hear from God, is vital in becoming more like Him.

Some practical tips:

Set a CWG (commune with God) alarm on your phone. Maybe it’s 10 to 15 minutes before your family gets up in the morning. Maybe it’s in the afternoon while your littles are sleeping or maybe it’s at night, before you decide to turn in. Figure out the time of day when you can be most focused and make it happen.

Download the YouVersion app on your smartphone. YouVersion is free and in addition to having every Bible translation there is, it is packed with devotionals and Bible plans for every season of life and spiritual growth.

Community with Others

Book Club is structured the way it is so you can experience the richness and beauty of spiritual connection through small groups. Living in community is vital to your spiritual health because God didn’t design us to lead lives of isolation. He wants us and invites us to live in relationship. Life is hard. And it’s even harder when we are facing it alone. The good news is you don’t have to.

Some practical tips:

Continue meeting as a small group with the women you’ve connected with through Book Club. This is an awesome way to stay connected, and we have resources and tools available to help make your group as successful as possible.

Start a community group. Maybe you’re feeling a nudge from the Holy Spirit to take what you’ve experienced in your group this season and share it with others. Maybe you have friends, neighbors or co-workers who desperately need to know more about Jesus; a community group can be a great environment to help them learn and grow while continuing to grow yourself. We can help you do this, too! You’re not alone. 🙂

Join a women’s group. If your group isn’t going to continue meeting, and you don’t feel ready to start your own group, then let us help you get connected with another women’s community group. We have several women’s groups, and we are committed to helping you find a place to plug in.

Here’s what I know. God wants you to know you. And God wants to use you. The question is — will you let yourself be known and will you let yourself be used?

I hope so. The greatest life you can live is a life committed to loving God and loving people.

So, what’s next for you? We can’t wait to celebrate that with you.


Embracing the journey,

Melody 💗

Cultivate Book Club

Why Not Me?

I didn’t go to many sleepovers growing up, but I do remember one at my best friend Shannon’s house. I was so excited!  As we drove up the street of her neighborhood I felt like I’d stepped into a different world. The trees stood a little taller and a little greener. And the houses were definitely larger.

When we crossed over the gated entry of her home, I was in awe. Her house was huge. I mean like mansion type huge. Shannon gave me the grand tour including an introduction to her personal maid but not before a quick stop to show me where the elevator was. I had literally stepped into an experience so grand, so different from what I knew. And then something happened. I was completely blindsided by this emotion that I could feel rising up in me.

I was so stinking jealous! Like really, really jealous!

It was in this moment I realized she had something I didn’t have but desperately wanted. When I went back to my home the next day you can imagine the way in which I now viewed my possessions. Although my home was just perfect the day before, this day was different because I now saw it all through the lens of comparison.

Jealousy is down right ugly and most of us struggle with it somewhere in our lives. It’s dismissed, often hidden, and not talked about much. Jealousy is an unholy craving for something we do not have. Whether it’s status, personality, talents, or a relationship…at its core it is destructive. It robs us of the good in front of us while leading to an ungrateful heart.

James chapter 3 says, “Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”

Jealousy is the enemy of unity. It divides. It isolates. It chokes out gratitude.

Tragically, jealousy prevents us from celebrating another’s ‘moment’ because we selfishly crave our own. Jealousy asks the questions, What about me? Where’s mine? When is it my turn? Or even worse…Why her or him? Jealousy speaks the lie that says, “There’s not enough to go around! And when God was handing out looks, personality, gifts, favor, noses, whatever…He ran out of the good stuff and gave the leftovers to you.” Ugh! It’s ugly!

It gets worse because jealousy and insecurity are partners in crime. If jealousy is craving what we don’t have then insecurity is devaluing what has been given and entrusted to us. And what we do possess is never ‘good enough’ compared to someone else and so we minimize ourselves.

This is the place where the battle is real and there is so much at stake! Insecurity leads us to feel small and insignificant. It leads us to shrink back and shut down. Our enemy is victorious if he can divide through jealousy and immobilize through insecurity.

A couple of years ago, I was battling jealousy and insecurity…again. Discouraged and frustrated I went in my backyard to pray. I pulled out my journal to pour out all of the injustices I was feeling. I started writing feverishly. This entry was different from my others and became a confession. A confession of how I see myself when I don’t fully embrace who I am. It was time to speak truth to the jealousy and insecurity. I don’t make a habit of sharing my journal entries with others (like ever) but, I feel led to with this one because maybe these words are for you too. Maybe they’ll help nudge you to take a step of imperfect progress towards being free from your chains of jealousy and insecurity. Maybe they’ll help you see clearer how beautifully made you are and that God didn’t leave out a thing. Here goes…

The sunset and stars make their way into evenings light

Birds sing a final chorus to the days song as frogs pick up where they left off

I’m surrounded by peace as creation just does their thing

That which You’ve made them to be

Why not me?

Does the sun wish it was the ocean?

Does a star really dream about falling to the earth?

As the rocks cry out in silent praise do they envy the dazzling moon?

I don’t think so!

They get what they are and how wonderfully they’ve been made

Their special job in bringing You praise

So why do WE just a little lower than Thee whimper, whine and complain?

Why do WE question the value of that which You’ve made?

To the right and to the left we look; Comparison our navigating friend

Screaming out lies and slandering the Wise One who has made US to contend!

Insecurity rises to silence the Almighty’s plans

Attempts to satisfy insatiable cravings lead us right into Destruction’s hands

Why do we want what others have?

The glory; the fame; the looks; the car; the man who prays or stays?

Oh, eyes lift up higher and shift your desire towards all that’s been granted your way!

There’s enough to go around…HEAR ME SAY, THERE IS ENOUGH TO GO AROUND!

So stop grabbing, lusting, stop warring for nothing

It’s not yours; never was…leave it be!

Instead…treasure today what Majesty has made and display it with honor and humility


May you discover where jealousy and insecurity reside in your heart and allow the Lord to lead you to a place of being free and firmly rooted in His love.




There’s no easy prescription for overcoming jealousy and insecurity, but this week in Unglued Chapters 9 & 10, we were given some helpful tools to help retrain our minds and hearts when we begin to feel jealous and insecure.

  1. Saturate ourselves in God’s word

This is where we let the truth of God penetrate deep within us to remind us that we are made uniquely, with special gifts given to us as means to build up one another.

  1. Surround ourselves with life givers

We develop relationships in our lives where honor, encouragement, and love are core values.

2. Pray for those we feel jealous towards

Oh, this one is hard! But praying and blessing another person is helpful when we’re harboring jealousy towards someone. We retrain our heart and mind how to respond in love.

3. Practice being grateful as we carry our own loads

The bottom line is this… God has entrusted each of us with something to carry and steward that is uniquely for us. When we want what someone else and overlook what’s been given to us we become ungratefully stuck on the sidelines of our own lives with longings that will never be satisfied.



A Poem for Mother’s Day

They come in many shapes, sizes, and hues,
Teachers of manners- lace up technicians of shoes,
The mighty warlords of the weekend soccer teams,
The coke bottle glasses and mom jeans,
All knowing mystics- eyes in the back of their heads,
Nightlights, adversaries to the monsters under our beds,
The overtime working, on call, after hours,
Who speak with fireworks and flowers,
The ones who foster the big and little ones,
Be it by blood or choice, be us daughters or sons,
The field medic to the bloodied nose, scraped knee, reckless,
The magic kingdom’s queen, papier-mache crown, macaroni necklace,
God flows through her ways, pours out His kindness,
He gave us all the mommas to remind us,
That though we may pass them by,
That we may, ourselves, have little shoes to tie,
Though we have but a short time to share,
As the roles reverse, and gray eats her hair,
God gave us things like comfort and a mom’s embrace,
To be as billboards calling us towards His sweet grace,
To teach us of His perfect love, unconditional and so good,
Oh the gift, responsibility, trial, and beauty of motherhood.
Poem by Tyler Schaefer
Sandals Church Volunteer