Monthly Archives

June 2017


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,



  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!



What Being “Connected in Community” Means to me

Hey friends, I’m Shanalea, Pastor Adam Atchison’s wife. We lead Sandals Church East Valley, near Redlands. This idea of being real with ourselves, God and others was such a fresh and freeing vision that drew us to Sandals 9 years ago. There is no way we would be who we are today without this church and our community. REAL community.

I grew up in a place where you put on your Sunday best with a smile and pretended to be fine no matter what was happening in your life. So this idea of being connected in community has been such a learning process. Really, it’s been a struggle for me.

Just because something is hard doesn’t mean I get a free pass.

Since I am a storyteller and, well, I think things are more clearly seen when there is a story to point toward, I want to share a little about my journey with community.

I think when most people see me they think, “Wow, she knows a lot of people and must have tons of friends.” Which is partly true. I do know quite a few people, but I also have tons of acquaintances.

There is a common phrase, “Being alone in a crowded room.” This phrase is what I’ve felt most of my life. I would attend everything where I knew everyone, but never felt truly connected. I longed to have a BFF, for someone to know me, but I couldn’t figure out how to make that happen. I began to think that I needed to change myself, mold myself to be whatever “that person” (fill in whoever I thought was the person to know) needed.

On top of that I grew up moving around a lot so being in a place long enough to establish true friendships was difficult. Add a really hurtful experience with friends in high school, and by college, I was one messed up chick when it came to community.

All of these experiences left me feeling that there was something wrong with me.

I gave up on thinking that I could experience real community. This doesn’t mean I stopped having friends or going to parties. It means that I rarely allowed someone close enough to see the raw/vulnerable part of me.

It has taken years to even begin the process of healing in this area. I am still healing and still learning what it means, but I can tell you this…

Community Matters.

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT

This last year God has redeemed the broken part of me that thought REAL community was not available or even a possibility. He placed our family with another family IN community. The truth that has been spoken into me from these people will never be forgotten.

They have seen the raw, vulnerable part of me and STAYED.

I know!

My past experiences told me that people didn’t stay; that when it got hard they moved on (or I moved). Last summer was probably one of the lowest points in my life so far. I was undone and had no way of moving forward. There was nothing left in me to even fight for what I knew was true.

I was broken and defeated.

My community invited me in and spoke truth to my soul when I could only hear the lies of the enemy.

Community sat down and listened without trying to fix.

Community allowed me to ugly cry and not judge.

Community helped me laugh again when I felt like I would never feel joy.

Community chose to stay when I didn’t think I deserved it.

Community loved me when I didn’t think I was lovable.

I am in tears as I write this because it has been so powerful for me to experience this kind of community.

GOD is SO GOOD though and continued to bless me. I am a teacher and at the beginning of the year I decided that I wanted to start a Cultivate book club group with some of the ladies I work with. Having the sessions online has allowed us to participate in Cultivate and dig deep.

I began this group knowing that we would grow in our spiritual walks and become friends. I just didn’t expect it to be so quick and so deep.

There were hard moments where real life was shared and spoken. We cried together, we laughed together, we worked together. When my washing machine was broken for a month, they took on my laundry! YOU GUYS! This was huge for me. I literally shared my dirty laundry with a group of ladies. They have cheered me on when I thought I was in too deep.

The love, support, and friendship of this group changed my entire school year. I was able to love the “hard to love” people and receive prayer when needed. I have never had this type of experience at work. COMMUNITY MATTERS!

Here’s the main idea ….community doesn’t matter because I say so or even because Cultivate says so.

Community matters because God says so.

God doesn’t expect us to do this life without having people around to be with us, love us, and speak truth into us. Think about all the Bible stories you know…

Moses had Aaron. Noah had his family. Ruth had Naomi.

David had Jonathan. Martha had Mary. Paul had Timothy.

Jesus had His disciples.

Each of these guys and gals didn’t walk through life on their own. God gave them a person. He will give you a person too.

Maybe you are like I was and have given up on people or groups because you’ve had some bad experiences. I get it and really understand why you might feel that way. What I want you to know is that it is worth it to keep trying.

Pursue God first and foremost, but then pursue a community that is going to point you toward Him when you are in too deep to see Him for yourself.  




  1. What has kept you from connecting in community? Are there fears that you need to surrender to God?
  2. Sometimes we can simply go through the motions when we’re in a group. Is there something in your life that you need to be real with your community group about?
  3. Who is in your circle of people that might benefit from being in community? What would it take for you to invite them in? 
  4. Reflect on Hebrews 10:23-25. What is the purpose of community? How can you encourage others with what you’ve learned?

To learn more about joining a Sandals Church community group or to start your own, click here.


Shanalea is the wife of Adam Atchison, Campus Pastor at East Valley. She is mom to four boys, Avery (15), Aiden (11), Asher (9), and Axel (7). Besides being wife and mom, she is a 5th grade teacher at a school in Riverside. Shanalea loves Dr. Pepper, dancing, sitting on a beach, getting together with friends and family and enjoying great food and good conversation.


What Being “Emotionally Healthy” Means To Me

My name is Rebecca Boganwright but most people just call me Becca. I grew up in the church era where ‘bringing my best to God’ meant I had to wear a dress every Sunday. My husband and I found Sandals Church when we moved to So Cal for college almost 15 years ago. We were immediately drawn to this idea of being real and as I look back on our time at Sandals, I am so grateful to be a part of a church that doesn’t just encourage, but lives and breathes authenticity.

Authenticity does not come without a sense of self-awareness.

I cannot be truly authentic with others when I do not know myself, which is so much more complicated than it sounds.

What does it mean to ‘know myself?’

One of the ways to know myself means to understand why I do the things I do and understand the emotions that drive my decisions. If you are a parent, or have ever worked with kids, can you think of a time you have asked a kid, “Why did you do that?”

Can you imagine with me the most common answer?

“I don’t know” (insert shrugged shoulders and baby voice).

Do you realize that most adults answer the same way?

Years ago my husband, in doing pre-marriage counseling, stopped asking couples the question, “Why do you want to marry this person?” Because more often than not, they couldn’t answer it! They knew they loved each other, but never stopped long enough to articulate why.

Why are you an organized/unorganized person?

Why are you always on time/late to events?

Why are you a morning person/not a morning person?

Why does a 2, 3, 4, 16-year-old have such power over your emotions?

Why do you and your husband keep coming back to the same fight?

You don’t know? You’re not alone.

Sometimes the answers to the ‘why’ questions elude us simply because we haven’t taken the time to really dive into the answers. Becoming emotionally healthy means that though we may not have all the answers, we at least recognize there is something to explore.

Being emotionally healthy means we recognize that God created us to FEEL,
not to bury or ignore our emotions.

Years ago, my husband and I were the first people on the scene of a car that had rolled and turned upside down on the road in the middle of the night. I talked to a women in this car as she hung upside down, trying to keep her awake until the ambulance came.

A year later, we again were the first responders to a horrific car accident on the freeway. An entire family was thrown from an SUV and one girl died. THAT SAME WEEK, we saw another car on its side on the shoulder of the freeway. We were the only people that pulled over and we approached the car, at night, in the rain, its radio blaring and wipers still going… to find that no one was in the car.

But the fear of what I might have found wrecked me.

THREE WEEKS LATER I witnessed a car swerve out of control on the freeway and slam into the center divider. This time… I didn’t stop. I couldn’t. I called 911 but then had a mini panic attack as I kept on driving. And most of the panic attack was over my guilt that I didn’t stop to help.

I immediately called my best friend who is a therapist and asked her for some free counsel. I recounted to her what had just happened and my immense guilt over not stopping. After a series of questions, she finally asked, “Becca, why can’t you admit that you were traumatized by the previous accidents and let someone take care of this one? You couldn’t handle it emotionally, and that’s okay.”

For those of you with previous church experience, you may have been taught that going to church means leaving your emotions at the door. Since you are a Christian, and you KNOW the right things, you should always FEEL the right things. Hurt, anger, sadness, anxiety are bad. Somewhere along the lines, some of you learned, either inside or outside of the church, that the best way to deal with these emotions is to not deal with them at all.

Why have we come to believe these things are negative when our Savior, the perfect Christ clearly modeled deep emotions for us?

John 11:35 – Jesus wept as he mourned the death of a dear friend.

John 2:13-17 – Jesus got so angry about the greed and injustice displayed in the temple that he chased people out with a whip and created chaos by turning over tables and throwing money on the ground.

Matthew 9:36 – Jesus’ heart broke when he saw that his people were lost, like sheep without a shepherd.

King David, a man after God’s own heart wrote song after song lamenting over the challenges in his life.

Psalm 57:6 – “I am weary from distress.”

Psalm 61:2 – “From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to safety for you are my safe refuge.”

Some of you may be ruled by your emotions. Your anger affects your relationships. Your anxiety squelches your faith in Christ. You are unable to say with confidence, “I am overwhelmed [but] you are my safe refuge.”

Jesus, David, and many others who have gone before us have all experienced the emotions of life while still maintaining a deep relationship with God.

We don’t have to pretend that everything is okay.

These emotions that can drive us toward a closer relationship and a greater reliance on the Almighty God. So we invite you to be real.

Real with who you are.

Real with how you feel.

Real with your sin, and…

Real with your hopes for the future.

Because in doing this, you will know God’s grace and love as you find a place to heal.

Join us as we grow together, pray together, heal together, and get real with the way we feel so we can become the women God has called us to be.



  1. Which woman do you more relate to – the one who suppresses emotion or the one who is ruled by her emotion?
  2. Think of a time as a child when you felt emotional distress. How were you comforted? How has this shaped how you process your emotions?
  3. Who in your life allows you to be real with your emotions? If you don’t have that relationship, what could be your first step to cultivating that?
  4. Reflect on 1 Peter 5:7, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” How could actively practicing “giving all your worries to God” effect your week and help you become emotionally healthy?

Becca is one of the worship leaders at Sandals Church, primarily leading at our Woodcrest Sandals Church campus alongside her husband, Andrew, the campus pastor at that location. Becca and Andrew have been married for 14 years and have two sons, Kingston (11) and Isaiah (10) who were both adopted from the country of Ethiopia. Aside from her love of music, she is also a self-proclaimed science nerd and is a middle school chemistry and physics teacher. Becca loves Starbucks and spending time with good friends. One of her greatest blessings is being a part of a community where she can be authentic with who she is and who God has created her to be.








What Being “Relationally Kind” Means To Me

Many of you have heard a version of this before from me, and for those of you who haven’t… Welcome! I am so glad you’re joining us here!

For the month of June in our summer series focusing on ‘Cultivating Community,’ we are highlighting the individual attributes of the vision statement for Cultivate, and there’s no one better on the team to share about the part on kindness than me. But it’s NOT because I am kind 100% of the time. Not because I get it right even most of the time. But because God planted this vision inside of me from the very beginning.

From the very beginning of Cultivate, almost 5 years ago now, I had no idea about everything that Cultivate was supposed to be, but I did know what Cultivate was NOT supposed to be… and that was a place where mean girl behaviors (especially among sisters in Christ) were a thing.  You see, I knew all the reasons why I didn’t want to be a part of  ‘women’s ministry’ and as I asked around to other women I knew I got the same response… “women are mean.”

This was a curious thing to me… because we’re Christians

But, as we all know, even “Christians” can be mean too, can’t we?

As I lamented to God about this assignment He had placed in front of me I said, “God, women are mean! I can’t work with women.

And you know what I heard God say to me?…

“Yes, yes they are, Tam. But they’re not supposed to be.  My girls are not supposed to be mean, and I want YOU to remind them of that

At first, in the raw and unrefined planning stages, I wanted to just get up and shout to the women  STOP BEING B…… (aka mean)! But as I thought more about it, I thought to myself, ‘that probably won’t go over very well…’ I could hear the church chatter ringing in my ears, “Pastor’s wife from Sandals Church called women B…… from stage”,  and since Sandals has already gotten it’s fair share of  attention already for using words on the ‘unapproved list’ and I didn’t want to be the one to add to it. I knew I had to be more creative on how to communicate the message God had given me to share.

In the Bible, Paul wrote this…

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. 1 Corinthians 1:10

Let me break this down for us (myself included… because I need reminding too)

First of all, Paul wrote this letter TO THE CHURCH. This wasn’t a letter to the people who didn’t know God, but to those who proclaimed that they did.

This letter would’ve been to US, ladies.

WHY would Paul have needed to include a verse such as this? WHY would he have addressed the need to get along with each other? Because not getting along was a problem in the church.

It was a problem THEN and it is a problem NOW.

You guys…. we as women – even women of the church – women who profess to be Christians, are known for being mean girls more than we are known for being God’s girls.  When it comes to this, there is very little difference seen or experienced between us and the rest of the world.  


“You must get along with each other!”

Paul considered not getting along with each other an urgent matter to be addressed. And as I started mapping out what Cultivate would be, I did too!  

He even went so far as to say “using the authority of Jesus, our master.”  It was as if he thought to himself “my words alone won’t be strong or authoritative enough to get this across, I need to pull out the BIG guns.” And so I did too. Paul backed up his message with the authority of Jesus and I’m backing mine up with the words of Paul.


When I started inviting women to be a part of what we were doing and heard the response,  “I want to study the bible, I just don’t want to be in a room full of women,” I knew exactly where we needed to get started on our spiritual growth journey together as the women of Sandals Church.  Kindness!


By definition, cultivate means to bring a new culture to.

And this is exactly what I set out to do. I wanted to bring a new culture to the women of the church and how they treated one another. I wanted us to cultivate a life in common, and for me ‘a life in common’ meant a culture of women rooted in kindness towards one another.  

So what does relational kindness mean to me?

As I’ve led the charge for creating a culture of kindness among women these past few years I must be honest and say I’m still figuring this out. But here’s what I know so far…


“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way, I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13:35

This is how everyone will recognize that we are His disciples, when they see us love one another.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wrong.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

By definition… love is kind.  Love and kindness go hand in hand. They are interchangeable.  When we speak of love, we are by definition speaking of being kind. So if the world will know us by our love.  They will experience this through our kindness.

I like to say it like this…

Our kindness give us our CREDIBILITY!

When we are kind, the world around us (Christians and non-Christians), sees that we are a people who mean what we say and say what we mean. This earns us credibility!

But, and most importantly, the opposite is also true. When we are unkind people could care less about what we have to say. They see us (Christians) as a people who say one thing and live another, and therefore why should they care about what we say in regards to Jesus being our Lord or Savior if we are no different than anyone else?

Our credibility earns TRUST!

When people can trust us because they see that they way we live is in line with what we have to say… they are more willing to listen.


When people trust us, and a relationship is built… people feel safe to be real. Real with where they are personally, spiritually, and relationally.

Relationships provide OPPORTUNITY!  

When we have credibility, trust, and relationship… we have an opportunity! Opportunity to share the life-changing good news of Jesus.  And isn’t that what it’s all about in the end?

Kindness>Credibility>Trust>Relationship>Opportunity> Jesus!


BUT kindness is also tricky. Because life and relationships are messy. It’s easy to be kind to easy, kind, and loving people; right? But what about the people who aren’t easy, kind, or loving? Things get a little trickier then.


Here are a few things that help me practice being a woman of exceptional kindness:

I have to remember that I too am not always easy, kind, or loving and I still want people to be kind to me.

I have to remind myself of how it felt when others were kind to me when I didn’t deserve it. And how their kindness made all the difference in my moment, day, situation, and life.

I have to be curious about what’s going on in someone’s life when they’re being unkind. Most people don’t wake up in the morning and set out to be mean.  It’s been my experience that most people who struggle with unkindness have been through hard things, and as a means to protect themselves have developed unhealthy strategies in attempts to do so.


Here’s how kindness might look as I practice being a woman of exceptional kindness:

Being intentional!                                                                                                                This is more about what’s going on inside of me than what is coming out of me. It’s asking myself in all kinds of situations with all kinds of different people, “What does kindness look like in this situation, with this person?” More often than not this turns into a prayer. First and foremost adopting a heart of kindness towards others has to become a deep-rooted part of who I (we) want to be and what I (we) want to be about. The motivation is to be more like Jesus. To follow his example. The argument… “they’re not nice to me” carries little to no weight once I (we) focus on being intentional with who I (we) want to be rather than focusing on who others are.  So as I practice being a woman of kindness… I try to focus on who I want to be towards others rather than who others are to me, and it is from here that the other tips I have to offer you stem from.

Being kind first!                                                                                                               Sometimes we mistake unkindness when fear is at play. More often than not people are afraid (of hurt or rejection) and it can come across as being unkind because they are reserved. And so, sometimes I’m kind first. I say hello first, break the ice first, start a conversation first, care first. It’s been amazing to see how when I practice being kind first people soften right up and I’ve gotten to develop the most incredible relationships.

Keeping my mouth shut and my opinions, thoughts, experiences to myself! Sometimes kindness looks like keeping my mouth shut. Kindness doesn’t mean having to be best friends with everyone. It doesn’t even mean being friends with everyone. Let’s be real, there are some people who are hard to be kind to. Especially the ones that have been unkind, maybe even straight out mean, to us.

So what does kindness look like to be kind in these situations?

For me, I’ve learned that kindness towards people I don’t like looks like not saying unkind things about them behind their backs, not trashing them, not gossiping about them, not discrediting them or putting them down, and all the other things that could so easily run off the tip of my tongue. This type of kindness may never be seen or acknowledged by the person you are showing kindness too… but that is not the point. This type of kindness says more about who you are than who they are, and who you are is a child of God!

Not being afraid to be real with myself, God, and others when I’ve been unkind, and being quick to apologize for it!                                                   Sometimes I blow it. I am not kind. I’m anything but kind. It’s been said we can be right and still be very very wrong. So sometimes being kind looks like apologizing first. Since I’ve been on this journey I’ve made lots of apologies first.  I’ve started many sentences with, “That was very unkind of me, I’m sorry.” I’ve even caught myself having behaved in unkind ways and will later call or text and say, “I shouldn’t have talked unkindly about that person or situation. Even though I was hurt, that doesn’t change who I want to be – I want to be a person who is kind.” I call these cleanup jobs for my own moral compass.

I don’t want to be a person who says I care about kindness in public and then behaves differently in private.  

Again, kindness has to do more with who we want to be, not about who others are. So what about the unkindness that comes out when we’ve been hurt or wronged? Isn’t this justified? It sure feels justified, doesn’t it? Here’s how I see this, the hurt and being wronged is a real thing, and real things need to be dealt with so that the relationship can be healed, kept intact, or restored. However, dealing with situations with unkindness rarely leads to healing or restoration. Typically it makes things worse, and more often than not we end up dealing with how I responded unkindly, rather than the offense itself. Now we’re all wrong. This is when I (and I encourage you to do the same) step away from the situation, ask myself ‘What does kindness look like in this situation? What does it look like for me to be real about the wounding or offense without treating the other person unkindly?’ Because the truth is, sometimes people are hard, situations are terrible, people are mean and real relational consequences exist.

Melody says it like this and I love it… “friendly (kind) to all, not friends with all.”  Our closest friends need to be people that have our best interests at heart (and us, theirs), people who care about us, who don’t constantly stress us out, who are like minded in values. NEWS FLASH: Not everyone is going to meet these criteria. Not every single person is our friend. So kindness looks like being friendly to all although you may not be actual friends with all.


As you pursue being a woman who is relationally kind, ask yourself these questions:

What does kindness look like in THIS situation?

What does kindness look like with THIS person?


You guys…  Titus 3:4-5 says, When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us.” If kindness was Jesus’ relational strategy (and he’s our role model, right?) shouldn’t it be our relational strategy too?

Speaking of strategies… it’s also crucial to remember that there are other strategies at play as well. The strategies of our very real enemy. Strategies to divide us. To distract us. To tangle us up in sin. To get us against each other.  To have us turn on one another, believing the worst, denying forgiveness & grace (although we’ve received it for ourselves), keeping records of wrongs. People –  when we let the unkindness of others become our focus and motivation, and ultimately how we treat others and who we become, the enemy’s strategies win.  But when we pursue Jesus, when we adopt, focus on, practice His strategies for our lives (even when it’s hard, even when others aren’t, even when everything in us wants to not… but we do it anyway), THIS is what it looks like to be transformed. THIS is what it looks like to become more like Jesus… when we have opportunities to say, “not my will but yours,” the Jesus in us wins!


When she speaks her words are wise,

and she gives instructions with kindness.”

Proverbs 31:26

I know that I’m not where I want to be when it comes to kindness, but  I also know I’m certainly not where I once was.  Grace + Practice = Progress friends! Kindness is a practice.

As is true with anything, the more you practice it, the better you’ll become at it. And I know this to be true because for the past 5 years I’ve seen hundreds of women do just that. I’ve seen people practice these things I’ve shared with you… being kind first, apologizing first, stopping talking about others, and making kindness about who they are instead of who others have been. And the result is a change in the culture of women is happening at Sandals Church.  We are cultivating kindness! Our team gets cards, emails, texts, Instagram messages, and notes constantly telling us about how the women are so kind at our events, in our groups, at our studies. The world is noticing friends, and our kindness is becoming contagious. Keep up the good work in the practice of relational kindness, because we are carriers of the good news. Let’s never forget that!


Let us continue to grow relationally kind together!





Let’s dig deeper …

  1. When you think of someone who is an example of kindness, what name immediately pops into your mind?  What is it about them? How does their kindness make you feel? Write them a letter, text, or card this week telling them how their kindness has made an impact on you and why.
  2. Is there a person you struggle being kind to? Is there a relationship in your life where you need to show kindness in by keeping your mouth shut? Ask yourself what could kindness look like with this person. Read Matthew 5:44 and spend some time in prayer for this person/situation this week. (Maybe kindness looks like you praying for them. You might be amazed in how God shows kindness to you as you respond in this simple act of obedience!)
  3. Think of a time when you experienced kindness. What did it look like? What happened? How can this motivate or inspire you to reciprocate kindness towards others?
  4. Read the following passages.  Using the REAL study method, highlight what God’s word has to say in regards to kindness.
    1. Proverbs 11:17
    2. Romans 2:4
    3. Romans 12:8
    4. Colossians 3:12
    5. Ephesians 4:17-32
    6. 2 Peter 1: 1-10
    7. 1 Thessalonians 5
  5. Are there any relationships in your life where you can show more kindness? How?
  6. Are there any relationships in your life where you need to apologize first? Do a cleanup job in?
  7. In your own words, why does kindness matter as a spiritual discipline and practice?

Tammy is the founder and director of Cultivate, the women’s ministry of Sandals Church. She is married to Matt, the lead pastor of Sandals Church. Together they planted Sandals in 1997,  and are proud parents to daughters Madison (20) & Kennedy (19), and son Ethan (14). Tammy loves spending time skiing, hiking, paddle boarding, and eating Mexican food with good friends! Tammy loves helping people live out the vision of being REAL  with themselves, God, and others~ specifically teaching people how to be good receivers of  REAL… what she affectionally refers to as being good “heart handlers”.  Surviving 20+ years of ministry life with marriage & family in tact is one of her greatest achievements, and considers getting to be a part of what God’s doing at Sandals Church one of her greatest blessings.








What Being “Spiritually Wise” Means to Me

Hey Cultivate Sisters! I am so glad you are on this journey of Cultivating Community with us this summer. Over the month of June we are going to take each week and study what our Cultivate vision statement is all about and why it matters. God’s Word has a lot to say about being spiritually wise, relationally kind, emotionally healthy, connected in community and serving on a team. And several of our Pastor’s Wives are excited to share some of their wisdom and experiences with you this month. So you will get to read from them and then go through the scripture passages and discussion questions with your group!

This week, we are going to go deeper in discovering what it means to be spiritually wise and I want to share a little about what this means to me personally. Many of you know my story – born into a Pastor’s home, raised as a Pastor’s kid and then grew up to marry a Pastor! Church life has been my life for my ENTIRE life. So much of that has been good – I’ve learned and memorized a lot of Bible verses, heard a lot of great messages, been to exciting conferences, met some great heroes of the faith…experiences and lessons I am so grateful for. But the dark side of being a “lifetime Christian” is something that I call counterfeit spirituality. This is something I struggled with for many years. Counterfeit spirituality is when things or people can look spiritual, sound spiritual and even “feel” spiritual but actually be phony or contrary to God’s Word.

If you have spent any time reading the Gospels in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), you will see that Jesus was at odds most of the time with the religious leaders of His day – the Pharisees and Sadducees. These men were the ultimate biblical scholars. They knew ALL THE THINGS. They could quote Jewish law backwards and forwards. People revered them as being holy and set apart for God. They were separate from “common people.” They were highly educated, intelligent and considered to be very very….wise. And wisdom, as we know from the book of Proverbs is something we are all supposed to be growing in and seeking to become:

…“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding..” (Proverbs 3:13)

So then why was Jesus always against them? Why did He even call them names? (yes Jesus actually did this..granted not names we would normally say today, but I might throw punches if you called me a “whited tomb full of dead men’s bones” – Matthew 23:27)

I actually think the worst thing he called them was hypocrites. Here is the definition of a hypocrite: A person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs that he or she does not actually possess.”

Dang Jesus.

You want to know what the Pharisees despised the most about Jesus? It wasn’t that He could do miracles they couldn’t do, or that people liked him better or even that He would embarrass them at times in front of crowds when they would try to “trick” him with their spiritual dilemmas. It was the fact that Jesus could see straight past their their holy robes and wordy prayers right into their hearts. He KNEW them…really knew them and they hated it. They were smart. But they definitely weren’t wise.

Here’s the problem: We have confused what it means to be smart and what it means to be wise.

A smart person can memorize a verse. A wise person lives it out.

A smart person can can see their sin. A wise person confesses theirs.

A smart person can learn how to speak Christianese. A wise person chooses to live like Christ.

A smart person can say the right thing. A wise person does it.

A smart person can look spiritual. A wise person actually is.

More words about wisdom from Proverbs:

“The reverent fear of the Lord (that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome) is the beginning and preeminent part of wisdom – its starting point and its essence.” (Proverbs 9:10 AMP)

What I had to learn as I struggled with counterfeit spirituality all throughout my teen years was this:

Information about God doesn’t equal Transformation by God.

Becoming spiritually wise has less to do with your external appearance and much more to do with your internal awareness. Becoming aware of your words, your emotions, your thoughts and your actions and learning to align those with the heart of Jesus.

Do you want to know if you’re becoming spiritually wise? Ask yourself these questions:

Am I kind?

Am I discerning?

Am I loving?

Am I even-tempered?

Am I quick to forgive?

Am I eager to gossip or listen to it?

Am I seeking godly counsel?

Am I aware of how people experience me?

Am I teachable?

Am I in God’s Word?

This list isn’t exhaustive but it’s a start. Here is my challenge to you: Don’t answer these alone. To grow in wisdom is to invite someone into your life as a gentle truth teller. So sit down with someone who loves you and is cheering you on as you grow in your faith and answer them together. Be humble. Be honest.

Becoming spiritually wise is a process and we all experience setbacks and restarts. And that is okay – there is always grace for growth. And in this process, you will learn so much about God’s heart for you and how He can use you when you are a daughter that is wise and helping other women become the same.

Let’s continue to grow spiritually wise together!

Much love,




Let’s Dig Deeper…

  1. Who is someone in your life that you would define as being “spiritually wise?” How has their wisdom impacted your life?
  2. Read Proverbs 9. Underline or circle every time the word “wisdom” is used. What are some trademarks of wisdom? What are some of the benefits?
  3. Do you struggle with counterfeit spirituality? Why is it easy to settle for information rather than transformation?
  4. Read Proverbs 13:20. Becoming wise means investing in wise friendships and avoiding foolish ones. What friends in your life are helping you become a woman who is spiritually wise? Are their friendships you might need to distance yourself from?
  5. After sharing some of your answers to the list of “am I” questions above, spend some time praying for one another – that God would continue to help you grow in wisdom as you cultivate His word into your hearts and lives.


Melody is the Cultivate Lead at Sandals Church and also leads worship there. She is married to Adam, the Discipleship Pastor at Sandals. Together they have 3 kids. Elijah is 13, Mehretab is 11 and Addison is 10. Melody loves spending time at the beach, a good massage, and good food. After living on the east coast her entire life and hating winter, she has fully embraced becoming a California girl.