Sacred Ordinary - I finally found a way to explain what it means to me: "It is forged in the daily and tempered in the ordinary. It is a slow and steady and deliberate gathering of the years. It is a combination of keen attentiveness—to God, to self, to others, to life—and holy indifference—to trifles, to insults, to useless distractions. It is planned, not in some goose-stepping mechanical way, but in the sense that it builds on a resolve to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of you, and to take every though captive and make it obedient to Christ."
- Stephen A. Macchia

2016 I have chosen to live in light of ETERNITY. "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Matthew 10:39 KJV I want my little life that I have been given to be a testimony for the blood that was shed for me on Calvary's cross.

This year and for the years to come, it is about surrendering to God and giving my family and those I meet along the way, JESUS! I am going to let my light shine. LIFE is SHORT! We do not know when we will die. Each day we need to make the most of the time that we have, for it may be our last. AS FOLLOWERS OF JESUS CHRIST, all of us should live each moment in light of eternity.

The decisions we make in this life determine where and how we will spend the next. We should, therefore, make certain that the right decisions are made.

The final states are fixed, there is no second chance. Finally, we should have heaven constantly on our mind so as to have an impact in this world. (Especially our family)

I want to leave an Eternal Legacy. Living in light of Eternity causes us to focus on what is truly important. It is not about the furniture we own, the clothes we wear, the places we want to travel or even the church we attend. IT IS ALL ABOUT SOULS and if they KNOW JESUS PERSONALLY.

Lord, remind us just how brief our time here on earth will be. Our days are numbered, our life is fleeting. Each of us is just a vapor, a breath. Are we living in light of ETERNITY? Are we ready to meet our maker?

Living in Light of Eternity


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Calling All Prayer Warriors

by | Sep 4, 2015 | Artisans Stories, In The News | 2 comments

Verse2 (2)

Dear Friends of Vi Bella

We are asking you to join us in prayer today for our artisans and their communities in Haiti. They are experiencing political unrest that has resulted in volatile and at times violent demonstrations.
These events have caused situations that prevent our artisans from traveling safely to our centers to work and the demonstrations also keep people from being able to go to market to get food and water. This is a country where most cannot stock up on food in pantries and refrigerators in their homes, but need to get fresh food every few days. In addition, they do not have ready access to clean drinking water. Please join us in praying for a peaceful resolution to the current conflict that is affecting our artisans and for safety and provision for God’s dearly loved children living there. It is only with God’s help that real positive change will come about. He is our strength. Our God is mighty to save.
As I have been praying about this situation this morning, the above Bible passage came to mind. I wanted to share it with you here and ask you all to pray mightily alongside us for peace, protection, and provision for the communities, families, artisans and children in Haiti that we dearly love.

Trusting in Him,

 Julie Hulstein

 Founder and CEO
Vi Bella Jewelry


The Lost Art of Hospitality

by Dayspring - August 3, 2015 

We all have a general idea of what it means to show hospitality. Merriam-Webster describes hospitality as the “generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests.” And there are many scriptures that teach the importance of it, like Romans 12:13 “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” But with the demands of family, work, and numerous other commitments, how can we take time in our busy schedules to practice it?

We can all think of people we know that we would describe as having the “gift of hospitality.” It just seems to come easy to them. They love cooking and having people over for meals, and they have a beautifully decorated house to entertain in. But these aren’t the most important aspects of hospitality, actually. It all starts with love - serving in love. Here are some thoughtful and simple ways you can reach out and show hospitality to those around you:

1. Baking

If you enjoy baking, bake extra treats for neighbors and friends - cookies, a cake, a pie, a loaf of banana bread–those who are stretched for time will appreciate your homemade goodies so much! You can also put together various dessert plates with a variety of goodies!

2. Dinner

Treat someone going through a challenging time to dinner - in your home or at their favorite restaurant. Or invite someone who could use a break for coffee or tea to a nearby coffee shop and spend some time catching up!

3. Hosting

Open your home as a meeting place for a Bible Study or small group - a great way to get to know others in your church and your neighbors. Refreshments can be simple - coffee, tea, soda, and a simple snack like cheese and crackers, or cookies.

4. Delivering

Is someone you know under the weather? Or do you have an elderly neighbor that can’t get out much? Take a meal or snack to them and offer to pick up any items from the store they might need. While you’re at it, think of getting them an encouraging gift. I love adding these tissue cards when someone I know has a cold as they not only serve as cards, but they’re memorable tissue box covers with uplifting messages.

5. Gardening

If gardening is your thing and you’re growing a vegetable garden this summer, share your bounty with those around you - everyone loves fresh-grown veggies and it’s a great way to connect with your neighbors.

6. Potlucks

You may not have the time or budget to host a large meal, but how about hosting a potluck and providing the main dish? If it’s a large gathering and the weather is nice, have a potluck picnic at the park or in your backyard.

7. Tea

Do something out of the ordinary for the women in your church or neighborhood - host a tea party, complete with scones, small sandwiches, and tea cookies or cakes. Make several pots of tea - include an herbal tea and flavored tea for variety, and have a tea tasting party! These Daily Grace teapot and teacups would come in handy for this!

As you open your heart and home to others, remember to also share and show God’s love to them. Hospitality is a ministry of serving - it’s a way God can use you to reach out and bless those around you!

Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

10 Commandments That Will Make You Rethink Greeting Cards

As the teaching of handwriting is declining in schools, the art of handwritten notes and cards is making a comeback. It’s kind of a “greatest and second greatest commandment” sort of thing – to love God with all we are and have, AND to love those around us. Sending a card is a simple, inexpensive, and very meaningful way to love like Jesus. While there are no rules to being kind, here are a few things (commandments, if you will) to keep in mind about the value and purpose for looking up a street address and licking (or sticking) that stamp.

1. Be thankful for one another.

Opening my mailbox and finding a thank-you note from one of my nephews is a day brightener every time. Thank-you notes used to be an art form, and now they’re more like rare treasures. It’s very classy to send a thank-you note for gifts you’ve received, events you’re invited to, or when a friend does something kind. Oh, and don’t forget, if you’re on the job hunt, make sure you send thank-you notes to the people you meet at job interviews.

Shop Thank You Cards »

I always thank God when I am praying for you.
- Philemon 1:4 NLT

2. Encourage one another.

It doesn’t take long to find someone hurting or going through a difficult challenge these days. Sincere, thoughtful encouragement can do wonders for both the giver and the receiver. Be extravagant with your kind words, and your relationship is likely to be blessed. With so many people needing encouragement, one thing I love to do is to post encouraging eCards on my friends’ Facebook walls that have a memorable quote or sweet sentiment. And since it feels like pretty much every day one of my friends is either having a birthday or a baby or getting married, I can always post one on their wall so they know I’m thinking of them.

Send a Free eCard »

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
- I Thessalonians 5:11 NKJV

3. Trust God for and with one another.

Apart from Jesus, there’s no hope. He’s the light for every tough situation. There are many greeting cards out there that point people to inner strength or will power. But the richest gift you can give a friend is to believe in the real source of hope.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
- Hebrews 6:19 NIV

4. Love one another (and that includes strangers).

Some of the most impactful cards I’ve received have been from completely unexpected places - or people. Don’t underestimate the power of thanking the mail carrier, encouraging a pastor or worship leader, or remembering the birthday of a coworker.
Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
- Proverbs 16:24 NLT

5. Honor one another.

Honor is to see the value in a person and call it out. Every time I send a card to my 88 year old grandmother, I’m sure to get a phone call or handwritten note right back. I can tell she’s been encouraged and feels remembered - and that blesses my heart, too. Think of someone you can honor by spending a little time writing down what you admire and see in them that they may not be aware of.
Honor Christ and put others first.
- Ephesians 5:21 CEV

6. There’s a time to cry, and a time for celebration.

I lost a close loved one recently. Every card, hug and casserole was a little reminder saying, “I know I can’t fix this – but I’m with you. You’re not alone.” I also still have the “Congratulations!” card for the day I got my braces off (in 1989). We’re never limited by why to remind someone we love them - so think outside the box (unless you’re using DaySpring boxed cards)!
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
- Romans 12:15 NKJV

7. Build one another up.

Sticks and stones break bones, and words do hurt - but they can also heal, strengthen, grow, encourage, and help. Let’s face it, some people are just better at words than others, but the beauty of greeting cards is that many times they say what our hearts were trying to communicate that we couldn’t come up with on our own. Then on top of that, every word you write from the heart is a genuine blessing that has tremendous meaning and can build someone up.
But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith.
- Jude 1:20-21 NLT

8. Pray for one another.

When I send a card to someone, I pray for them as I drop it in the mailbox. You never know how your kindness and thoughtfulness will bless someone’s day on the other end of the mailbox. There’s so much power in believing God - together - for what He can and will do.
If two of you on earth agree about something and pray for it, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven.
- Matthew 18:19 NCV

9. Keep the preaching to the pulpit.

There’s a time and a place for heart to heart talks - but the most effective letters, notes, and greeting cards usually reflect the gentleness and generous heart of Jesus. It doesn’t have to be crafty or serious. It can be silly, short, sweet, rhymed or prose. Just let yourself be yourself, and your genuine caring will shine through.
And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted.
- Ephesians 4:32 AMP

10. Be Jesus to one another.

You can ask “What would Jesus do” in any situation - but it might be more effective to ask Jesus what He is doing. I can want to show love to someone, but in the end, only the Holy Spirit can give me the insight I need in order to meet the needs of my loved ones. I always pray before I write a note in a card to someone, and I ask the Holy Spirit for a scripture or word of truth for them.
Pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them.
- I Timothy 2:1 CEV

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Good Night . . .

I am participating . . .

Book Club 2 IG
Fall is here and along with pumpkin spice everything is our latest (in)courage book selection! Grab a cup of coffee (or tea, or apple cider, or whatever gives you all the warm fuzzies) and join us for a book club like you’ve never experienced!

This study includes a few firsts for us, including weekly opportunities for you to connect live with the author and with one another! Without further ado, we invite you and all your girlfriends to join us

October 6 – November 5th as we read Emily P. Freeman’s amazing new book, Simply Tuesday: Small Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 3.13.23 PM 

Buy your copy of “Simply Tuesday” here, or head over to Emily’s site to learn more!


Taking part in an {in}courage book club is as easy as 1, 2, 3:

1. Pick up a copy of “Simply Tuesday” as soon as possible

2. Read at our pace (schedule below) or complete the book at your convenience. New blog posts (and some other special things!) will be published each Tuesday and Thursday during the duration of the study. When you subscribe to the book club you won’t even worry about forgetting-we’ll send you email reminders!
3. Share your thoughts in the blog post comments, in the Facebook group, or on social media (just tag @incourage, #simplytuesday and #inbooks)
Simply Tuesday content will always be available on the book club page, enabling you to watch videos and read the posts anytime, even if you begin the study after our official start date. No “fear of missing out” around here – you can come & go as it works for you or your small group!


Instead of focusing on specific chapters, we’re going to chat with Emily about some of the specific themes she covers in the five sections of “Simply Tuesday.” It’s our hope that this book club would embrace the “small moment living” of Emily’s book, with less hustle and more heart. We’ll give you more fun updates next week on exactly HOW we’re going to have those conversations, but for now here’s when we’ll be chatting about each section:
  • October 6th – Part 1: Discovering our Tuesday Home (chapters 1-3)
  • October 13th – Part 2: Embracing our Tuesday Work (chapters 4-6)
  • October 20th – Part 3: Finding our Tuesday People (chapters 7-9)
  • October 27th – Part 4: Accepting our Tuesday Soul (chapters 10-12)
  • November 3rd – Part 5: Seeing beyond Tuesday (chapters 13-15)
Be sure to order your book now  so you’ll receive it in time to get started. Also, why not invite a friend to join you (and us)? We’re convinced more IS merrier (and we might even have a giveaway for those of you who gather in real life with friends to do the study!)

We’re eager for how the Lord is going to use this study to help us savor small moment living – we know you won’t be the same by the time we turn the last page.

Sign up todayand check back next Tuesday when we share more about what will make this a book club like you’ve never experienced!

Maria's Thoughts . . .

I had to share with you one of Kristen's launch teamers. I loved it!

Here is what she had to say about Kristen's new book . . .
You could probably hear my squeal of delight for miles around when I got the news about being selected to join Girl Meets Change Launch Team! Was over the moon, thrilled to bits, over the opportunity to give back to Kristen Strong for the times her words brought me joy, encouragement, lessons, inspiration and laughter. Oh, and just think, how many more people will now hear about and be blessed by her first book. Pure bliss I tell you.
I couldn’t wait till today, launch day, to tell you all about this practical, uplifting book. Because change affects us all.
Because sometimes change takes us by storm. Sometimes by surprise. Often it takes us to hard, painful places marked by grief, loneliness or confusion. Wherever change takes you, from pink slips to divorce papers; negative pregnancy tests to positive cancer diagnosis, Girl Meets Change will guide you through acknowledging, accepting, then adapting till you reach the point where thriving becomes your faith-full destin(y)nation. Not in spite of change, but because of it.
If you were sitting next to me while I read the book, you’d hear a lot of “wow!” in between tears from triumphant, touching stories or sweet reminders of the everlasting, unchanging love of my heavenly Father who is always for me. While I took 21 pages of notes!
Because of this transforming book, I will never see limitations in the same way – or the word “bravo.” I picked up what a God-timistic attitude looks like and the gift of dropping expectations. I see windowless rooms – real and figurative – in a whole new light. Above all was grasping how God uses change and loss as stepping stones to the next best thing He has in store for me. That change is not in the way of God’s plan for us but on the way.
This book is filled with a wealth of hope-filled, encouraging truths you’ll want to hang on to and hold dear. Delivered with a warm, me-too and not you-do style. Reading Girl Meets Change was like sitting in a comfy couch having a conversation with Kristen over dessert and our favorite warm beverage. While we chat like long-time friends, she shares her own struggles and stories, loops them together with stories from other’s experiences, stories from the Bible, and God’s Word, to richly resonate like a beautifully orchestrated symphony of words to live by. Then we wrap up each chapter-visit with the powerful prayer that completes the chapter.
Do I recommend Girl Meets Change? Yes, oh yes! With all my heart. I believe Kristen’s first book will quickly become a best-seller that will spark a movement where we embrace change, with all the blessings we find in it, to bless others. Where the change that comes to us changes us to change the world. For the better. 
I’m also happy to announce the Girl Meets Change landing page  is all set up to welcome you with more about the book, testimonials, gorgeous graphics and click to tweets to inspire and share. 
More great news: if you purchase Girl Meets Change today through the end of the month you will receive the companion guide absolutely FREE! So, pick up your copy today and be doubly blessed ASAP! 
Oh, and one more thing, you gotta check out this most fun, creative, helpful quiz ever which includes a outcome-tailored excerpt after completion. You may even want to take it before you start reading and again when once you’re done.

The more I read about this book, the more excited I get to read it! I so hope you come join me on this journey to change.  If you are coming along, please add a comment below and let me know.


Excited . . .

I am so EXCITED to be back on my blog. I have missed sharing with everyone. It seems like my heartfelt intentions last year did not go as planned. A lot of changes have taken place in my life and so many things that I don't understand the why's ? 

I use to want to know all the answers, but as I get older I just want to live in a knowing of trust with the one who died for me . . . a peace that passes all understanding.

So here I am to begin again once more.

Now mind you choosing a book club selection is very difficult for me.  You have NO idea! The thought of me having to narrow down to just one book. It is quite mind-blowing to say the least!  I love to read.  You should see my nightstand, there is never just one book on it at any given time, and there are so many great books out there just waiting to be read.

When I am at the boo store, sometimes I think the books are screaming, "PLEASE, PICK ME!"

But as I was searching around for choices I come across something that one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Dukes Lee,  wrote and it so changed the way I see what I have been going through. It was also her invitation about a great book she had been reading.   I would love to share this with you as an excerpt to My1st official Book Club for 2015

Tuesday 22nd September 2015

If Life Has Thrown You a Curveball, Read This. (#TellHisStory)

DSCN1214 (1)

I spent the weekend with a few dozen women at a retreat in central Iowa. I led three sessions, but also had a lot of time to sit one-on-one with my new sisters, praying with them and hearing their stories.
Over and over, I heard the same theme through their tears: “I never anticipated this.”
Divorce. Job loss. Infertility. Watching your husband fade under the grip of cancer.
For every one of those women, life was heading in the exact opposite of the way they had planned. Yet underneath the tears, their hearts were groping for a reliable God who keeps His promises.
It’s true: Everything changes.

“But You remain the same.” (Hebrews 1:12)

“For I am the LORD, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6)

In the back of the chapel, on Saturday night, I was meditating on our unchanging God. He’s the steady Rock underneath all the shifting sands.

We watched and sang as an artist on the stage painted a picture with delicate strokes.


What emerged was an exquisite butterfly, with wings open wide, stretching from frame to frame.

Watching the artist, I imagined how — even before the world began — God stood before some great canvas, carefully crafting every detail of every one of us.

Before He painted the Grand Canyon or the most stunning sunset or the blush of trees in autumn, He painted you.

“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love.” Ephesians 1:4 (The Message) 

DSCN1229 DSCN1214 (1) 
But because we live in a broken and busted-up world, life gets messy. We lose sight of the beauty.

To make her point, the artist grabbed a can of black spray paint. And then she started spraying all over the masterpiece she had created. The audience gasped. I wanted to run up to her and grab her arm, to make her stop. I was so sad to see her wreck such beauty.

I imagined that’s how God feels when I try to cover up the beauty He’s made. When I cover the beauty up with the masks I wear, with my try-hard efforts to get it right, with my feeble attempts at impression management, with my stubborn refusal to obey, with my own sin, with my unwillingness to surrender to Him during the inevitable changes in my life.




I imagined God wanting to stop us when we cover up the beauty. But He doesn’t stop us. Furthermore, none of this surprises Him. He is not shocked by the mess in the masterpiece.

Because underneath it all, He is still working. No matter what season we are in, God is at work.

He hasn’t turned His back on us. He’s turning something IN us.

Even in the midst of the mess, you are still a masterpiece. You are still the focus of His love.

I don’t know what your “mess” is. I don’t know what season of change you’re in. I don’t know what beauty you’ve tried to cover up, by pretending it was all okay. But I’ll bet you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve been hurt by betrayal, by unmet expectations, by the feeling that you’ve been left behind, by the natural tendency of friendships to change, by children moving off to college, by something you regret doing, by unanticipated change.

There are two guarantees in life: 

1 – Your circumstances will always change.

2 – Your God will never change.

After the artist spray-painted her canvas, she turned the picture around, to show that the painting hadn’t been ruined at all. She had been painting on a window. It was even more beautiful than what we had first seen. What does that mean for us?

It means that the biggest changes in our lives are windows through which we can see God revealing His great glory. Underneath the mess, the masterpiece remains. He’s turning you around. Just watch, and behold the beauty. 

Last week, I finished a new book by Kristen Strong about change.

In Girl Meets Change, Kristen tells us that change is inevitable. But with Christ, she says, change isn’t something to be feared. It is something to be received as a blessing from a God who is working THROUGH it, not in spite of it.

Sometimes, Kristen says, “you must leave the comforts of what is to embrace the potential of what will be.”

It may look like the masterpiece that God made is a complete mess. It may look like it’s all falling apart. But, like Kristen says, we have everything we need to handle that change, because we have everything we need in Christ.


So there you have it! My choice for the month of October. Now go and buy it and lets begin to embrace the changes we are going through.

Sing Over Me - Dennis Jernigan

SING OVER ME, The Dennis Jernigan Documentary

Dennis also has a book about his testimony.
You can purchase this at Amazon

Also you can contact Dennis at Dennis Jernigan's Documentary Facebook Page

I noticed on 8/24 there was this posting:
"Let's remain faithful in praying for Dennis Jernigan today, as he begins filming new supplemental materials to add to Sing Over Me that are designed as a tool to help the church minister to those who are struggling. We will keep you posted on the progress of these exciting new materials!"
Dennis's response: " We are filming a video series directed at the church today regarding how to respond to the current culture regarding homosexuality and how to minister the love ...of Christ without compromising who we are. Huge task. We are already running into huge technical difficulties. No surprise there. Would you mind praying for us? We'll let you know when the video series and accompanying study materials are ready for public consumption. "

June 26, 2015 by Dennis Jernigan
"May we never cease to share our stories of God's gracious deliverance from our sinful past. "I will not be silent as long as one person tells me ... I need hope."
From His Book: Sing Over Me -

Since 1988, I've been publicly sharing the story of how I walked out of a perceived homosexual identity.

Why? Because I remember being a boy wondering if freedom was possible. The church didn't have answers. The world didn't have answers. The gay community just tried to make me give up and accept this as my innate identity. Yet, something deep inside of me kept knocking at the door of my heart saying, "There must be more. This cannot be your ultimate destiny and identity."

When God met me with the Truth of the transforming power of Jesus Christ, and I began what I call my incredible journey, I began to realize that I'd been lied to by the world and the philosophies of man. After seven years of freedom under my belt, the Lord asked me to begin publicly sharing my story because there were others out there who felt the same as I felt-that there must be more.

This book is for those who want to experience God in an intimate, life-changing way, regardless of whether or not they've ever struggled with unwanted same-sex attraction. This is my story, yet really it's the story of redemption found in knowing Jesus Christ intimately. --Dennis Jernigan 


You may know the music of Dennis Jernigan before you know his name. Having penned songs that are sung in churches and worship gatherings over the entire world like "You Are My All in All," "Thank You," "Who Can Satisfy My Soul (There is a Fountain)," "I Belong to Jesus," "We Will Worship the Lamb of Glory," and many others, Dennis Jernigan is a worship leader, song receiver, and author, but more importantly, he is a husband and father. Married for thirty years to Melinda, they have nine children and make their home in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where they are now welcoming grandchildren!

Having been walking in freedom from his former homosexual identity since November 7, 1981, Jernigan takes great joy in sharing the grace and love of God with any who desire freedom in their own lives. Known for his worship songs and ability to lead people into a deeper, freeing awareness of Father's love in their lives, Dennis spends a great deal of time encouraging others to embrace their true identity in Christ.