PH | B L O G
These are messages and testimonies, written by women of all ages, who are in various different stages of life. Hear their hearts as you read their messages.
Fred Rogers, an ordained minister best known as Mister Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
In 1968, Americans were desperate for good news, from Political Assassinations, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Vietnam War America needed a view of hope. So came Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, to begin to paint pictures of hope and love in America. Mr. Rogers as we know was one to break down racial divides, give love to the broken and simply prove that his Neighborhood was not his alone, but also belonged to those whom he shared it with.
In 1969, Mister Rogers’ yet again shows America how we should be loving thy neighbor. He displays this to the world by himself and Officer Clemmons feet both integrated in a swimming pool. “A pair of brown feet and a pair of white feet can share a swimming pool.” In 1993, he yet again shows America this same depiction (pictured above) of loving thy neighbor. This time Rogers, wipes off the feet of Clemmons.
I ask you, friends do you really love your neighbor? Are you willing to put your feet in the pool with someone who may look different than you?, sound different than you?, or may be on a different economic status than you? I challenge you to ask yourself, what does it look like for me to not only go talk with an “Samaritan” but to pick them up, and take them home with me and let them eat at my dining room table.
Even more so, as a follower of JESUS, let this ring loudly in your ears.
- Christian Baylis [Creative Outreach Director]
I cannot lie.I’ve never actually seen this movie. But from what I hear, it is based upon a book that is supposed to educate you on the joys and the difficult moments of pregnancy. However, this movie takes a comical spin on the subject. Today, I’m not at all going to write an article about pregnancy. As a single, young woman, who has never been pregnant (Thank God!) would probably be the last to take on that subject.
However, I think ALL of us have been in an “expecting” phase, You know, that moment when someone in church has a word for you, or you hear God specifically tell you something specific about the next season you’re going to walk in. You’re expecting something new in your life. For the sake of the illustration, you’re pregnant with God’s vision. Uhh...run that by me again?
I dare to suggest that the reasoning behind your discomfort and frustration of what you’re walking in now, is to prepare you for the new life that is about to come forth. God doesn’t give you a vision for your life in vain. He wants you to walk it out. This doesn’t mean that it will be all skittles and unicorns. There will be discomfort and even some pain. You might have random cravings for pickles, but probably not.
My point is that people are often beyond discouraged once they experience pain and difficulty because they assume God is punishing them for something. First of all, God isn’t some hateful man in the sky with lightning bolts waiting to strike. God loves you with a deep, burning with compassion. You, yes you, specifically. First we must see God in that light, then we can truly begin to understand what walking with God truly looks like. Once we start to grasp his love and purpose that he has for us, we can begin. Knowing that pain is a part of the process will save you quite a bit of stress.
What if you began to view your life through this lens? Instead of the pain lense, you’re looking through the process lens. Instead of the opposition lense, you peered through the opportunity lens? Walking in the purpose of the Lord while being “pregnant with vision” may, in fact, be the most challenging part of your life. Let me tell you, it will be lonely and you will wonder why others can when you cannot. However, I guarantee it will be the most rewarding. Begin this journey one day at a time, tackling the “morning sickness” and “swollen ankles” that come with it with confidence. Confidence not in yourself, but in the God who has allowed you to walk in this manner. Whatever you’re expecting God to do, know that it will be more than worth it on the other side.
Once you hold your purpose in your arms, it makes the expecting worth it. Keep walking, mama, there’s something for you on the other side of this.
PH Executive Director/Founder | Cat Valdaro
I oftentimes find myself having a lot of the same conversation with people about what we each feel like the Lord is calling us to do. We often hear traditional church titles thrown around or we share things the Lord has laid on our heart, but how is our calling affected when things don’t always go according to our plan and we enter a new season? I am most certainly not claiming to be an expert on the subject and I could name a million other moms who I know could drop some serious wisdom, but I wanted to share what the Lord has taught me about my calling and my value through motherhood. I will start with some background.
A few years ago I was on staff at an incredible church and I was learning new things left and right. The Lord was teaching me a lot about ministry but also a lot about myself. At this point, my husband and I had been married two years, had just moved to a new state and had many conversations about wanting to start a family. We thought we had our lives all planned out. I will never forget being at home and walking into a room calm and quiet, where my husband was talking to me about something I wasn’t even paying attention to because on the inside I was crying and jumping for joy. See, little did he know, ten minutes prior, I had taken a pregnancy test, two in fact, and they were both positive. I sat down and for a brief second thought of a million of the “cutest” and most “Pinteresty” ways to tell my husband that we were expecting. Of course, I couldn’t contain the excitement and hugged my husband and said, “I’m pregnant”. Fast-forward to weeks later and things were different. Not a bad different, but just different. Instead of focusing on just my ministry responsibilities I now had to focus on being a mom and what that meant for our little family. I felt the Lord steering me somewhere different. My husband and I had been praying and feeling that it was time for me to step down and focus on this next season of being a mom. So, with lots of guidance from people we looked up to, and lots of prayer, I stepped down from my awesome job with an incredible church into a foreign season of being new parents and planning for what was to come.
As a woman that comes from a family of strong leaders, hard-workers and dreamers. I was used to working and excelling. In fact, every job I have ever worked, I had received a promotion and literally started from the bottom and ended up in leadership of some sort. Well I went from that, to something completely new. I was no longer striving for good metrics, or preparing presentations that could later lead to a promotion. Instead, I was a mom. With that sort of shift, I confused my identity and my value with my effectiveness. What do I mean by that? Well, I was no longer this title or that title, and no longer had the responsibility of this, that and the other. Because the assignment was different I felt like I was no longer valuable because I thought I was “just a stay-at-home mom”.
I think because society is all about titles, it’s easy to associate our worth and value in where you work, what position you have, and a bullet list of accolades. I had what I call, an identity crisis. Because I wasn’t on staff anymore, not in charge of a team, or didn’t have a fancy title, it got in my head and that sort of thinking can mess us up. We often assume that our calling is our assignment and when the assignment is taken away, our calling is taken away too. The truth is, I am still called and I was created with the gifts that I have for a reason. My mom always used to tell me that your calling goes with you wherever you go. It’s who you are in ANY environment, but it’s not necessarily your assignment. If your assignment changes it doesn’t change your calling and it most certainly doesn’t change your value. It’s just a different season.
Your life was paid for with a price. God sent His Son to die on the cross to pay the highest price. Let me better explain. If I had a baseball hat and tried to sell it on eBay, I can guarantee that I would not get very much for the hat. In fact, I am almost certain that it probably wouldn’t sell at all. Now let's say that Rihanna or Beyoncé wear the same hat and for whatever reason decide to sell the hat on eBay. It’s most likely going to sell and the price will more than likely be pretty high. Why is that? The value of their hats was based on whom the hat belonged to. Your value is set. It is in your name, your DNA, and whose you are and that won’t ever change because that’s how God created you. We are sons and daughters of the King and whether you are on stage with a mic preaching to thousands or changing a dirty diaper your value will remain the same. Your effectiveness however, can change.
The schooling we get, the conferences we attend, the books we read all contribute to our effectiveness and how effective we can be but let’s not confuse that with our value. Again, our value is already set because God sent His Son to pay the highest price on the cross. What I love about God is that he doesn’t just look at our effectiveness. He looks at us as sons and daughters of the most high. He looks at us as a chosen people and a royal priesthood. He looks at people like Saul who persecuted Christians or Moses who didn’t think he was fit or worthy and sees them for who He created them to be.
I don’t want this to turn into a long-winded sermon or a novel, so I want to leave you with these thoughts. Just because you are a mother, that doesn’t mean that’s all you will ever be. Your priorities have definitely shifted and it is an absolute honor and joy to be a mother, but you are most definitely called and have been chosen by God to do mighty things just like anyone else. Your value is not in how well you keep everything together, or how perfect a birthday party turns out. You have been bought with a price and nothing you do or don’t do will ever change that. Maybe you aren’t a mother and you have entered into a place where you no longer carry the title you once had, or the stage that you used to speak from, or your opportunities are different and you are in a new unfamiliar season. I want you to recognize that God says that you are called and have value. Just because your assignment has changed it doesn’t mean that you're calling has changed. Instead of feeling lost and constantly thinking about where you will end up, or where do you go from here, begin to focus on God and what He is doing in this new season. In fact, I want to encourage you to begin to ask God how He can use you where you are. Often times we are so focused on getting to point B that we miss what God is doing in our lives on the way there. You were born and created with a purpose and a calling, and that will never change. Recognize the call of God on your life and own it. Be who God has called you to be. Your purpose and calling are apart of your spiritual DNA. Next, take your life and what you already have and give that to God. It is always easier said than done, but I want to challenge you to change your perspective of who you are and see how the Lord can begin to use you and what doors he begins to open.
Courtenay Nelson (PH Culture Director)
For all of my thrifters out there, most of you just perked up when you read the title. To me, thrift shops are so fun. Yes, most girls like shopping and getting “new” clothes for a much lower price. However, for myself and probably many others, it’s such a fun treasure hunt! To me, it is so much fun to pick up an item that’s normally $50.00 and I found it for five bucks. What a rush! Wow, that statement alone makes me realize that I’m getting older. (haha, but really! Thrifting is a rush?) One problem of mine is that I end up seeing a sermon in everything--and I mean everything. Just ask my friends, it drives them crazy! But, recently, I’ve been thinking about that. A thrift store can sell the clothes at the price that it does because it has been used and the environment that the item now resides.
So, that means, that Gucci dress that someone once paid $400.00 for, was worn once, and thrown in the donation pile by some rich lady for a tax write off. Listen to me for a second, some of you reading this have been used in the past. Because of that, you think that your value is way lower than what it actually is. Let me present some things that prove your real worth:
"...for he who touches you touches the apple of my eye." - Zechariah 2:8
"I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." - Psalm 139:14
"So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." - Matthew 10:31
Okay, that starts to put things into perspective. I am so loved by God and he values me more than I could ever know. There’s nothing you could do that could make God not see you as the valuable gem that you are. However, we can be so distracted by the wear on the outside world that we forget who’s opinion actually matters.
Think for a moment about an antique shop. Have you ever been in one? If you’ve been in the ones I have, then odds are, you’ve seen a lot of really cool-really old- things. You might want to buy several of the items in the store until you flip over the price tag. How much?! Odds are, it’s pretty expensive. Wait a second, why are the same things that are old and worn cheaper at a thrift store, yet more expensive in an antique store. It’s all about perspective. The rusty, dusty, and worn nature of an antique item tells a true collector that that item has been through and seen quite a bit. Though it isn’t perfect on the outside, it tells a story. Your imperfections tell a story about God’s goodness.
What does all of this mean? Remember that you are valuable! Woah, that was so profound, right? But what I want you to realize even as you are reading this, is that everyone will want to tell you what THEY think you’re worth. My question is, what “price tag” are you allowing people to stamp on you. Yeah, maybe you’ve been through alot and you have a bit of “wear” on you. You can either allow that to cheapen you, or you can use that wear to add value to your life.
Every experience, and I mean every one of them, can add value not only to your life, but also the kingdom of God. Allow your value to shine and even those dents and dings you’ve encountered so far-know that it adds to your value.
If you have been following us on social media, then you know we were able to take our first out of the country mission trip. What an adventure! We drank our weight in Chinola and sweat off about 25 pounds each. I believe I speak for all of us when I say that we were as blessed if not more blessed than they were. We would be absolutely remissed if we didn’t take a moment to celebrate our growth in what we learned in our time there. We hope you can gain something as well.
If you’ve ever been out of the country, especially for a mission trip, then odds are, you have probably gotten a little (or a lot) sick to your stomach. Thankfully, for our team, nothing serious came out of it, but we all had a moment where we weren’t feeling our best. At the risk of sounding like a whiny American, it was overwhelmingly difficult to muster up the energy and excitement to minister to people. What? That was the whole reason you were there! Many of us can live our lives like that. If God has placed a calling on your life, it can often happen when you don’t feel like it or are tired. It will be difficult to start, but trust me, it will be worth it on the other side. As aforementioned, it blessed us deeply to serve these people even when it was difficult to do so.
For many of us on the trip. It was just a refreshing experience to see a need and be able to serve and love people in that. On our first day, we arrived to a school that was in a very deprived area. Before we could even get out of our van, we could already hear the children screaming with excitement. With tear filled eyes, we approached them, excited to tell them about a man who had completely changed all of us. They were completely receptive as 17 of those children accepted Jesus in their heart that day.
We did have a day that we were able to go enjoy the beautiful sights of the country. We originally were going to go ziplining, but we had a change of plans. I must say, I wasn’t too disappointed about that one as I am terrified of heights. Instead, for just short of 13 dollars, we were able to ride horses for about 2 hours. Great deal, right? Well, let’s just say, the only thing bumpier than a spirit flight, would be riding a horse in the Dominican. This was my first time on a horse and I was terrified from the beginning. That didn’t go away until I was off of the horse. The thing about these horses was that they ran probably about 30 miles an hour and they had donkey saddles on their back. We were all pretty sore when we got off. Sometimes in life, the journey can be scary, you may want to get off, there may be nothing to hold onto, but it’s all a part of the experience. It’s fun if you can view it in the right way. Leaders conquer even their greatest fears. However, It might be a while before any of us get back on a horse.
Last but certainly not least, was our last night in the country. I think this was the highlight of everyone’s trip. We made a decision that we weren’t content with just doing our services and leaving, we wanted to go out and make a difference. We did something that made all of our spirits well with love for God and his people. We set out and found a young boy selling roses and bought all that he had. We found a street corner where several prostitutes congregate every night. We prayed for several minutes before we approached them. The ladies in the car got out to minister, while the men stood by the van and prayed. That’s right! It was the first ever Dominican Princess Night. (We’re making history, people.) We approached them and told them about their value. We stood with them as men drove by and honked horns and yelled crude phrases in Spanish. As we spoke with them, the initial walls of hesitancy were broken as one of the girls began to sob. Their hearts and demeanors softened...it was quite emotional for all of our team. We joined hands and prayed with them, right there on the street corner. We gave them roses and loaded back in the van. We looked back and saw a gentleman on a motorcycle pull up and attempted to persuade one of the girls to go with him. She pulled away and the whole crew of women left their corner. You go, girls. :)
There are more than likely pages of content we could say that we gained from the trip. But these are definitely some of the highlights. So, on behalf of Tiffany, Courtenay, Chris, Cat, and yes...Blake too...WE ARE GRATEFUL.
We will never forget the Dominican and it has forever marked us.
Siempre con dios
Did the title throw you off? I was thrown off myself. Who doesn’t love a good party, am I right? Most people (with the exception of the extreme introverts reading) love to have a loud and wild celebration for whatever joyous occasion that is at hand. Duh, that’s obvious. But, what we don’t tend to celebrate are the moments in life that are beyond difficult. If you’re Haley from Paramore, you’d call them “Hard Times”. (Shameless plug) However, there’s a scripture gthat you’ve more than likely heard several times in your life that I’d like to call our attention towards:
And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Oh yeah, I’m going there. Since I turned 25, I told the Lord that this was my year to celebrate. My mind immediately went to fun and friends and probably way too much ice cream. However, God had something different in mind. Yes, he has allowed me to have so much fun in the past few months and I am so grateful. However, God not only gives us what we want, he gives us what we need.
Sometimes what you need is some straight up broccoli. Excuse me, when did this become a food blog? What I mean is there are things in life that you need that won’t always taste good. The things you need might not look as tasty as what others have on their plate, and it might even cause little green things to get caught in between your teeth. However, if God is in fact the “Good, Good Father” we often sing about. Dear Lord, please don’t sing it! Then he will give us the things that we need to be better than who we were yesterday. Even when it doesn’t taste good.
Did you know that it is fully possible for you to completely enjoy every season of your life (even the not great parts)? No, I’m not talking about a pity party, though that was very clever. I’m talking about changing your perspective from a crushed one to a celebratory one. Changing your perspective from a pathetic one to a prophetic one, an annoying one to an anointed one-oh okay, I’ll stop. But you, my friend, are fully capable of making your life something that is truly wonderful. To obtain this, one of the best things you can do is ask yourself “What can I get from this season?” “What is God trying to show me through this?” Surely, he is doing something good for you in ALL things!
Here’s how I know:
Do you love God?
Are you called by him?
If you answered yes to either or both of these questions, sister, you’re in for a party lifestyle! God is going to turn your weeping and mourning into laughing and dancing. But you have to choose to let him do so. I know life has been tough, but why not give this way of thinking a try?
Put on your party hat and have an amazing day!
PH Executive Director/Founder | Cat Valdaro