How I Defeated Fear with Cherry Pie

cherry-pieAs a kid, one of my most favorite places to be was in the kitchen. Standing next to my mom and watching her maneuver her way through the kitchen was incredible to me! I wanted her to teach me everything she knew about cooking. I wanted to become a great cook, and not only feed my family, but anyone else who walked into my home. To this day, I get so much joy from being in my kitchen and cooking food for people.

My sister-in-law recently got married and she asked me if I could make a few pies for her wedding. I was honored to be able to help contribute to her special day and immediately said yes. I opened our family’s cookbook and browsed around, and finally decided I wanted to make a cherry pie! But I wondered if it would be “good enough” for the wedding? The thought crossed my mind to make a homemade pie crust, but I was a little unsure about that because I had never made one before.

That’s when the fear, negative thoughts, and doubt started rising up in me. I told myself that I just simply couldn’t do it, that it was going to be way too hard, and if I tried it and failed, then I would be letting my sister-in-law down. After believing all those lies, I made the decision to just go with the good ‘ole store-bought crust.

A few days passed and I started thinking about the decision I had made, and I didn’t like it. Why was I so fearful? I walked into the kitchen and noticed the verse written on our chalkboard: 2 Timothy 1:7 –

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

That was just what I needed to hear! God reminded me just then that He did not design my spirit to be fearful and timid. He designed my spirt to be full of power, love, and self-discipline!

Self-discipline is the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.

God gives all of us the ability to control our feelings and overcome our weaknesses. The power to do that lives in us and it cannot be taken away!

I want to encourage you to do whatever it is that has been holding you back lately. Whether it is an art project on Pinterest; trying a new recipe for supper; implementing new changes at work; standing up for someone or something you believe in; trusting your children to make the right choices; submitting to your husband, or letting unhealthy relationships go.

Everyone has fears; that’s part of life. But at what point are we going to stop letting fear control us? You have to stand up to that fear, look it in the eye, and tell it, “You have no stronghold over me!” If you don’t, then the enemy has won, because fear is not from God.

I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

Psalms 16:8

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Incredible Pie Crust

2 1/2 C. Flour
1 tsp. salt
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 Sticks cold butter, cut into 1/4in pieces
1/2 C. Cold shortening, cut into pieces
1/2 C. Cold water

Combine 1 1/2 Cups flour, salt, and sugar then mix together. Cut in butter and shortening with a pasty cutter until its all mixed together and resembles cottage cheese. Add remaining flour and mix. Sprinkle water on top of dough and with a rubber spatula, mix dough and liquid with a folding motion, pressing on dough. It will be very tacky. Divide dough into 2 balls. Place each ball onto a large square plastic wrap and flatten into a 4 inch disk. Wrap plastic around dough. Refrigerate 1 hour. May keep in refrigerator for up to 2 days. If not using right away you can put dough into the freezer. When ready to use let it defrost in refrigerator and then roll out for your incredible pie crust. Makes 2 pie crusts.

This recipe was given to me by my cousin Chana Miller Van Houten.

This post was written by Rae Leach. To read more about her, click here




Recommended Reading: Experiencing the Spirit

Experiencing the SpiritThis month we’ve been focusing on spending time with the Lord, and for our book review, I’d like to recommend Experiencing the Spirit by Robert Heidler.

If you’re new to the Holy Spirit or if you have questions about who the Holy Spirit is, Heidler’s book is a great resource full of straightforward explanations, grounded in Scripture for understanding the indwelling and empowering of the Spirit.

I was Spirit-filled many years ago, and even if you’re a seasoned Holy Spirit veteran, this book is still for you. I found it refreshing and inspiring.

Akin to Bill Johnson’s When Heaven Invades Earth, the power in this text is the testimonies he offers. Everyday people—like you and me—who experience God’s healing, His miracles, His gift of prophecy and words of knowledge, His manifest presence, etc.

Those testimonies build my faith and remind me that when I feel defeated the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in me.

And more than that, He’s asked me to minister to others, to advance His kingdom here on earth.

It’s not about me; it’s about Him. And His power demonstrates His love for others.

My constant prayer while reading this book has been, “Holy Spirit, come. Empower me to do your work.”

I want to have a deepened relationship with the Holy Spirit, to sense when He is moving, to hear what He is saying, to see how He is manifesting Himself. I want to encourage others, to see them set free and healed and filled with the power to overcome anything.

Don’t you?

I highly recommend this text! Read it and sign up for the Holy Spirit class November 13. Both will be a blessing! J

This post was written by Laura Brandenburg. To read more about her, click here.

The Heart of a Teacher

teaching kidsAt a young age the Lord showed me that one of my greatest attributes to spread His Word would be to teach. Today, I have the privilege to teach 2nd grade, and everyday I pray my students leave my classroom being successful disciples for the Lord.

However, my teaching doesn’t stop there. I also have two little boys at home that need to be taught. Everyday they are learning new things, some good and some bad; but that is where I come in, to “weed out” the bad in them. I know sometimes, when a child disobeys, it’s just easier to take away a toy, spank them or give them time-out, and let them be on their way so you can get back to the dishes, TV or work (I have been there and done that too). But we need to remember that our children are precious gifts from the Lord; He chose us as parents to be their earthly teacher.

So I want to encourage you to pull out your Bible the next time your child disobeys and teach them what the Lord says about their sin. Even if your child is little, it is never too early to teach them God’s Word. After you have taught them, have them memorize or repeat the Scripture you talked about (they are also never to young to memorize Scripture), so that God’s Word is stitched in their heart.

Teaching doesn’t just stop with our children, the Lord told us told us to be “fishers of men.” There are people everywhere that need to be taught God’s promise, and opportunities arise all the time for us to teach. We just have to be like David, strong and courageous, and not be scared to teach others about God.

For a teacher to have successful students we must first do two things:

  • Plan, so that we are prepared to teach a lesson, and
  • Listen to others so we know better ways to teach.

Plan a time to sit and read Scripture; plan a time to have Bible study with yourself, your kids, spouse or friends. For us to teach Biblical lessons to others, we must first study the Bible to educate ourselves. The Lord has a plan for all of us. He has a plan for each life that is brought into this world, including His own Son, who died on the cross for us.

Lastly, for us to be great teachers, we have to learn to listen (which for some women can be hard, because we love to talk). I love listening to other teachers’ ideas that they are using in the classroom and incorporate those into my own lesson plans—therefore making me a better teacher. So let’s sincerely listen: listen to our husbands, to our children, that friend at work that may be suffering, and most importantly, listen to what the Lord is trying to teach us—because ultimately He is greatest teacher of all.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

bio picWe are excited to have Bethany Williams as our guest writer this week. Bethany is a 2nd grade teacher at PCA, and is married to her high-school sweetheart, Cole. Bethany and Cole have 2 kids: Gunnar and Remington. Bethany grew up on the farm, where she and her siblings were raised to work hard and love the Lord.

What do you enjoy doing?
Teaching, crafting, baking, reading, organizing and being outdoors.

What is your favorite Bible verse?
2 Timothy 4:7 – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

What is the best advice you’ve received?
To listen to people who are older and more experienced than me, because I can learn from their mistakes so I don’t have to make them, too.

The Truth about Gossip

quote - lisa“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”. 1 Corinthians 13:6-7

Am I willing to bet you have heard this passage spoken over a couple at their wedding? Two people are lovingly looking into each other’s eyes, and promising these words over their future. Today I want to challenge you to look at these words through a different lens.
The dreaded word that makes every woman grind their teeth.

We are all guilty to some extent of gossip, myself included, but as I read this passage the words jumped all over me. We all know God is love; it is the core of who he is. As Christians we strive to live by this truth, to love your neighbor as yourself; husbands love your wives like Christ’s loves the church; or a mother’s instinct to love their children sacrificially. When our words are spoken in love, it rejoices, protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. I believe when we choose to speak gossip we are delighting in evil. Ouch. Which goes against the core of who God is. Double ouch.

As I type this truth, I am reminded of the times I have let gossip drip from my lips–like a leaking faucet I am unwilling to put the work into. Over time the drips turn into streams, which then starts pouring all over my heart and spreading into the core of who God has called me to be. Let’s turn the spotlight off ourselves; what if other people are choosing gossip and you are not?

Love is not passive. This passage doesn’t say to sit idly by. Look at the passage again: Love protects. As believers, if we want our relationships “rejoicing with truth” and not evil, we must use the words we speak to change the situation into one of hope. 

I challenge you to be the change you want to see. When gossip enters the room, there is no hope or protection for the other party; the truth is, we are speaking evil over them instead of love.

I heard it said once by Lisa Terkeurst:

It’s a much more effective use of time to pray for someone rather than talk about them.

I truly love this. What if women today choose this philosophy in all their relationships? We could all put our hurtful words aside and, in turn, have words of blessings pouring from our lips. My heart is not to make women feeling convicted; I am preaching to the choir. I want nothing but loving words to come from my mouth–after all, God is love. My heart is to strive to be more like Him. I hope yours is too.

This post was written by Madi Mikael. 

Influence in Your Circle

circle of influenceI once declared, “I won’t do anything without talking with You about it first, God.” The statement came after a terrible time of grief and pride, and as the only reasonable response to a stunning and specific, yet amazingly gentle, correction given to me by Our Father.

I’d like to say that I have made good on that promise 100%, but that would not be true. However, our Counselor reminds me of that vow when I “go and do,” but neglect my conversations with God. I have noticed that the pattern holds: as I pray about personal, marriage, parenting, friendship, church and ministry, vocation, political issues, etc., I see His praise-worthy creative power at work. However, when I neglect my privileged responsibility to pray over my spheres of influence, I hopelessly witness not only my own but others’ terrible times, grief, and pride.

Remarkably, God Himself made nearly the same statement to us as I made to Him. Amos 3:7 (NIV) says,

Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.

I believe the reason He does this is to provide the reality of the difference He makes in our and others’ lives. Our spoken prayers toward Him make a difference in our perspective of the world. Also true is that His spoken word—transforming us internally and manifesting externally through us—makes a difference in how He and the world relate to one another. Powerfully, we are in God’s sphere of influence!

Our faith is the only one which states that overcoming this world’s degenerative problems is not just possible, it is the ongoing fulfillment of an eternal promise (John 16:33)! God’s part of the conversation, often given through His disciples, is powerful and effective; He provides correction, encouragement, love, and every good thing.

Many Christians I have known struggle with the words “witness,” “testimony,” and “prophecy”; they sound like they belong to other people and other times. However, John’s Revelation (19:10 – ERV) message, “…the truth of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” is for all disciples of all ages to experience! When we think about it, to witness simply means to provide “public affirmation by word or example,” especially, of our belief in the doctrine of Christianity (the teachings of Jesus and of His Apostles) to those who need the Truth.

Jesus encourages disciples with His timeless declaration, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 – NIV). The world is large, and our problems in it can seem overwhelming; however, the pattern of God’s power in overcoming remains. It is our privileged responsibility to pray about religions and politics, work and recreation, friends, and family; because, these spheres touch and overlap. Praying, we witness God’s influence throughout the world. Beginning with our own little circle, we’ll increasingly see how He changes lives in every good way!

This post was written by Tina Crowson. 

How to Pray BEFORE the Meltdown

declarative prayerI don’t know about you, but taking care of sick kids wears on me after a while. My girls took turns being sick for two weeks and not long afterward my eldest ran fever for 7 days straight. Too sick to go to school but not sick enough to stay in bed. Irritable kids. Irritable mom. Flesh struggling against flesh patterns. Lots of triggered pain. You get the picture.

But my heart is my responsibility.

How do I work through this, especially after I’ve completely lost my composure?Declarative Prayer.

We steer where we stare. Declarative prayer gives me a vehicle with which I can shift my focus back on God and what He says is true. Declarative prayers aren’t speaking magic incantations or denying the difficulties I face.

They help me recognizing that even in the midst of this circumstance, God gets the last word.

Let’s go back to my quasi-meltdown. Afterward, I settled down and thought. Once I verbally processed what I was feeling, I identified the lie I believed: abandonment. It went something like this, “I am alone. No one wants to help me and it’s up to me to make everything come together. Of course, I will fail and it’ll all be my fault.”

Cheerful, huh?

Once I said it out loud I could see the ridiculousness of it all. This lie was in direct opposition to a promise God spoke to my heart a few years back. He said, “Jodi, I’m going to help you.

That’s it. When I thought about His promise, it wasn’t difficult to enter into declarative prayer. Here’s an example:

“Lord, thank You for helping me through this tough time. You are able to keep me from falling and present me without fault (Jude 24). I’ve had a hard time, but You have not given me a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). Because of the finished work of the cross I have peace with God (Colossians 1:20) and I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). So instead of relying on my old coping mechanisms to get me through today, I am going to lean into who I am in Christ and trust You. I am not responsible for making everything work today. Instead of pre-judging others, I will ask for help from the appropriate people and move forward from there. Thank You for helping me walk in reality instead of vain imaginations.”


I’ve never spent time praying this way when His peace didn’t give me clarity to take the next step. And friends, honestly that’s what most of us need. We couldn’t handle detailed marching orders for the rest of our life. He’s going to show us the next step. Then we get to choose whether or not we’re going to obey.

When you realize you’re rapidly approaching a pain cycle, I want you to remember that you are not powerless. You can use declarative prayer to release the power of God into your heart, your mind and your response. Go for it!

This post was written by Jodi LaFrance. To read more about her, click here

My Sticky Floors

mopping-floorI stared at the floors in my dinning room and nearly cried. They were sticky and covered in crumbs, and I had ignored them for nearly 3 weeks. Every time I looked down at them, I felt overwhelmed and almost paralyzed. The job felt too big and mopping was my last priority.  In the middle of fighting back my tears, I heard that still small voice in my head say, “Just do the next thing.”  In the span of 30 seconds, I had two options. I could run, hide and cry, or embrace the task in front of me…my dirty floors.

Although I thought ignoring my dirty floors was helping me, what I realized was that my procrastination was robbing me of peace.  In my mind I had decided that mopping was going to take too long. In reality, it took less than 20 minutes. I had spent more time fretting and worrying about my floors than it actually took me to just clean them.

Sometimes we find ourselves balancing all these different areas of our lives. We want to be productive. We want to be successful. We desire to love God and to love people. But the truth is, our floors just need to be mopped…our kids need us to read them a book. Our husbands need us to listen to them process their day. Our stack of papers need filed, and our laundry needs folded and put away. The toilets need scrubbed and the trash needs taken out.  But if we fret about the task in front of us, we’ll always be robbed of the peace that comes from accomplishment.

Dear friends, as we end this month discussing the value of living in balance, may I encourage you to listen to that still small voice and “just do the next thing”?

I can’t tell you what your next thing is, but I can promise you, the one who knitted you together in your mother’s womb knows. He’s intimately acquainted with every detail of your life. He sees you, He knows you, and He loves you…right where you’re at.

Be encouraged, Sisters in Christ…if God is for you who can be against you?

Just go for it and mop that sticky floor…

This post was written by Julie Snellgrove. To read more about her, click here. 

Oobleck…and Our Hearts

oobleckHave you ever done the kid’s science experiment with “Oobleck”? It is a blend of cornstarch and water that defies all explanation. If you squeeze it or punch it, it acts like a solid (think clay or play dough, sort of). But if you release your fist, it immediately melts like a liquid. It may sound strange, but God recently reminded me of this interesting object to describe my heart.

To be honest, the start of this year has been rough for me. I wanted God to join me in my own pity party, but He didn’t. He reminded me that He’s here with me. Then He gently convicted me that I needed to repent of my own selfishness and bitterness, and He allowed me to push the “reset” button on my heart. He brought me to James 4:5-8.

“Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’? But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”

The word for grace here is charis – God’s “influence upon the heart, and it’s reflection in the life, including gratitude” (Strong’s Concordance). I love this. To me, that means His grace is when He reaches in and gently touches and molds my heart.

I keep imagining this back and forth motion between our hearts and God…
He yearns for my heart to be completely His. So He gently reaches in and touches my heart; He starts to mold my heart and turn it towards Him. If I resist, my heart gets hard, but if I receive, my heart melts…

God wants my heart to melt for him.

Ezekiel 36:26
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

change of heartIf you are afraid of what it would be like to truly experience the all-encompassing love of God, maybe it’s time to repent. This is not meant as a punishment…Repentance is a gift. It’s letting go of ourselves and choosing to align our hearts with God, agreeing with how He sees things.

As I read about “submitting” in the James passage, I actually get a picture more like, “Present yourselves therefore to God.” Like Esther before the king. Come and present ourselves with an open heart to Him…Come near, and He always draws us in. His heart for us is good.

When I choose to repent, submit, and trust that His heart towards me is good, I see His heart of love for me in a way I never have before, and His love overtakes me, and my heart melts.

This post was written by Heather Dillard. To read more about her, click here

LIFE Groups

life group pic 2A few years ago when we came to Harvest, I hardly knew anyone. For a while, I felt I was on the outside looking in at a group of people who had close friendships and years of stories to share together.   I wondered how I could ever make those kinds of friendships, and I wasn’t sure if I could “break in” to what was already here.

But it wasn’t long until my husband Gabe and I were invited to a Life Group. We chose to jump in, allowed ourselves to be known, and took a chance on making friends. Since that time I’ve lost count of the number of groups we’ve been in, led, and hosted. We have literally made hundreds of friends—and not just casual friends, but people we consider dear to our hearts. We don’t have any family in Plainview, but God has given us sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, sons and daughters in Christ.

Not only have we made friends, we have experienced so much LIFE through our own growth, and through being part of the maturing of others. Our mission at Harvest is “making disciples who make His ways known.” Life Group is the best place I know to become a disciple—a fully devoted follower of Christ—through living in community with those ahead of us, behind us, and beside us on the road. None of us have arrived. We need each other to become all we were meant to be; but in order for that to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen and known by others. Our family motto is this: We receive from God, and we pass what we receive on to others. This is how it should be, as we have nothing of real value to offer except what we have first received from God through Christ. In our relationships, we point people to Christ and watch them experience LIFE!

Life Groups have become a part of the rhythm of our life. Each time our group has grown to plant a new one, there is a twinge of sadness about the change. But it doesn’t last for long. The tune changes somewhat, but the rhythm stays the same. Some people we invite, some people just come…and suddenly we realize God has once again orchestrated his plan: bringing people to a deeper experience of Christ through community.

Some are coming to Christ for the first time, but all of us need to come to Christ daily. Life Groups help us do that as we apply the Word of God to our real-life situations. As I come to know the love of Christ in a deeper way, I can resist the urge to “wow” people in my home, and can start to really love and welcome them with hospitality through hosting a Life Group. I can speak up when God puts something on my heart, and not feel condemned if I don’t have anything to say that week. I can ask for prayer when I need healing in my life. I can pray over people with prophetic prayers that encourage, strengthen and comfort them.  I can receive input from others without feeling like a failure or getting defensive. I can lead well by following the Spirit and texting a friend during the week when she is on my heart. I can be encouraged to believe the truth about my identity in Christ. At times I can just simply take time to BE with my Life Group friends, and to believe that my presence is enough.

Have you experienced what I’m talking about? If not, what’s holding you back? If you HAVE experienced these things, please consider being equipped to lead or host a new group! Go for it!

This post was written by Jill Moudy. To read more about her, click here

**Fall Life Groups start back September 2nd! If you have not yet joined a Life Group, check out the Life Group Directory on our website (click here)! You will be so glad you chose to start living LIFE in community! 

The Survivor Tree

survivor treeRecently, my family and I visited the OKC bombing memorial while visiting family, just like we have done several times before.  This time was a little different as God began to speak to me surrounding the “Survivor Tree” that sits on the property of the memorial.  This tree started out as just a scrawny parking lot tree that was almost destroyed when the federal building was being built. This beautiful tree survived and continued to thrive, doing its job of shading cars.

In 1995, when the tragic bombing occurred and killed so many people, somehow this tree survived.  Although it was damaged and required some healing, miraculously, this tree again rose up and began to thrive.  The inscription surrounding the tree today says, “The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us.”  As I reflected on this tree and the depth of what it represents, it reminds me of the unshakeable God that we serve.  May my roots be planted deeply in the love of Christ. No matter what happens in this world around me, I know that I have an unshakeable God that protects and sustains me.

“Blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is.  For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green.  It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.”  Jeremiah 17:7-8

There are many things that are uncertain in everyday life, but there is one promise that I hold on to in times of trouble…blessed are those whose hope is in the Lord.  Hope in anything else brings anxiety, worry, striving, an overwhelmed spirit, and a lack of joy.

What are you worried about today?
Are you fearful about your current circumstance?
Are you overwhelmed today?

I want to yield a fruitful life and thrive no matter the circumstance. I want the testimony of my life to be that I was firmly planted and deeply rooted in Christ, how about you?  Let’s be fruitful, thriving women who radiate joy to the world!  🙂

This post was written by Amy Meek. To read more about her, click here