Strong, Firm & Steadfast. Always.

A Guest Post by Michele Cushatt, Best-Selling Author of "I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is"

Unless this is the first post on this blog you’ve ever read, you’ve likely heard me use the word “identity.” It is something I am passionate about, because it is foundational to every aspect of how we live. It’s also something every one of us struggles with. 

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When it comes to shaping our identity in the person and work of Jesus, I could think of no one better to share with you than my friend Michele Cushatt. She understands the “identity struggle” first hand. Without giving away her story (which you can read in her book Undone), Michele knows what it’s like to have faith in Jesus, lose her footing, and to wonder if she’d ever again be able to stand. She also know what it’s like to cry out to God for grace and discover the miracle of His Presence and His Purpose right here, right now.

Michele has been a friend for more than a decade. She also happens to be one of the most beautifully authentic people I know. And as you’re about to discover, she is a fabulous writer.


In our back yard sits a beautiful cherry tree. It’s my favorite tree by far, boasting trunk and branches thick enough for my children to climb. Blanketed in lush green leaves, it provides both privacy and shade while my husband and I savor warm summer afternoons on the deck. Even better, every May our cherry tree blooms, offering up fragrant pink flowers as the first hints of a delicious cherry crop.

Until this May.

How to Come Alongside a Friend Facing Major Struggles

Video Interview with author Sarah Beckman

What did you do the last time a friend, neighbor, or co-worker went through a serious hard time? Not just a bout with the flu. Something really hard. Cancer…Death of a child…Job loss…Divorce. Did you feel a bit paralyzed, not knowing what to do or say – afraid you might do or say the wrong thing?

How to Come Alongside A Friend Facing Major Struggles

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If so, you need to watch this interview.

Sarah Beckman is an author and speaker who has been on the giving end and receiving end of coming alongside. In this interview she shares of her own four (yes, four!) back surgeries, as well as walking with her best friend through a 5-year battle with cancer.

Simply put, when it comes to walking alongside people facing major struggles, Sarah is as qualified as anyone I know.

The Guidelines in the interview address these five challenges:

  1. How do we overcome the paralysis – and subsequent guilt we often feel – when friends are struggling?
  2. Why should we never ask “How can I help?” (And what should we ask instead?)
  3. What does “listening well” look like? (And what’s the biggest mistake we typically make when we’re trying to listen well?)
  4. When it comes time to speak (after listening), what do we say…and not say?
  5. What do we do when someone is facing a “long haul” challenge? (Cancer battle, major injury, etc.)

5 MORE Bible Verses from 1 John to Help You Kick-Off the New Year

Last week I wrote about five verses from 1 John I’m pondering. Truth be told, I had to narrow it down to those five. The more I think about it the more I wanted to share the other ones that have been hitting me.

5 MORE Bible Verses - Kick off the New Year

In case you missed last week’s post, you’ll want to start here (for some background). 

Now let’s take a look at one more verse from each chapter…

1 John 1:6

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.” NIV

This whole verse (and paragraph for that matter) is powerful. Lots to chew on.

However, the part that gets me is “…live out the truth.” We talk a lot about knowing the truth. Not as much about living out the truth. Seems like living it out is a tad more important than knowing it.

5 Bible Verses from 1 John that Will Help You Kick-Off the New Year

Do you have a Bible verse – or verses – you ponder throughout the year? I spent the last couple months of 2016 soaking in 1 John. As I begin 2017, much of John’s letter is guiding how I’m approaching the year. (And that’s a good thing.)

Before diving into the verses themselves, allow me a few sentences to “set the stage” a bit. 1 John doesn’t have a specific audience (like “to the church at Philippi” or “to Timothy, my dear son”). This letter is for all of us who desire to be authentic, faithful followers of Jesus.

John writes to people who live in a society where opinions about what is true – and who is worthy of worship – are varied and abundant. So do we.

He writes to people who want to honor Jesus with their lives, but are bombarded by worldly temptations. So do we.

He writes to people who are surrounded by a message of self-centered living, rather than self-sacrificial giving. So do we.

He writes to people who have the opportunity to change the world by loving others as deeply loved children of God. So do we. 

Sure, John wrote 2000 years ago. But this letter is for you, my friend.

Here are five verses…one from each chapter. Read. Ponder. Pray. Live. Repeat. 

Thankfulness Challenge – Week 3

With Your Final 7 New (and FREE) Images

A week from tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to relaxing, eating too much pumpkin pie, and spending some unplugged time with friends and family. Have you joined the 5-Minute Thankfulness Challenge?

A Thankfulness Challenge

Two weeks ago, I invited you to join me in spending 5 minutes a day, for 3 weeks, being thankful in 5 different categories. If you haven’t read that post – or joined the challenge – here’s the link to find out all about it. And remember, if you’re going to share or tweet about it, make sure to use #ThankfulnessChallenge so I can follow along!

Today, I’m sharing seven brand new verses that remind us of the why, what for, and how of being thankful. Last year there were 14 images. I included those over the last two weeks. But hey, if two weeks of thankfulness is good…THREE weeks must be better! Right? 

5 Bible Verses to Help You Process This Election (No Matter How You Voted)

This has been one of the most brutal weeks I can ever remember. The amount of disappointment, anger, fear, confusion, frustration, and venomous words is – quite honestly – a bit unfathomable. So, how are those of us who call ourselves “Christ Followers” supposed to process it all?

5 Bible Verses to Help You Process This Election

God’s Word is the ultimate lens we must always use to process everything.

Hear this clearly: A few Bible verses thrown together in a blog post is not going to take away all disappointment, frustration, or concern. Think of it like getting a long-awaited diagnosis from a doctor. The diagnosis doesn’t instantly cure the disease. But it does give you a place to focus (other than focusing on the unknown) and points us toward the cure.

My desire in this post is to point us toward God’s Word, point us toward what is right and true (rather than focusing on the unknown), and point us toward the One who is the Ultimate Cure for what ails us.

Thankfulness Challenge – Week 2

With 7 New (and FREE) Images

I was going to write a post about the election, but honestly, I feel like God is reminding me (and so I am reminding you!) that He is sovereign, He is good, He is not surprised, He is faithful, and I should spend way more time giving thanks than whining. So….

A Thankfulness Challenge

Last week, I invited you to join me in spending 5 minutes a day, for 3 weeks, being thankful in 5 different categories. If you haven’t read that post – or joined the challenge – here’s the link to find out all about it. And remember, if you’re going to share or tweet about it, make sure to use #ThankfulnessChallenge so I can follow along!

Today, I want to share seven more verses that remind of us some of the why, what for, and how of being thankful. Maybe you should take one of these each day and weave it into your 5-Minute Thankfulness Challenge.

A Thankfulness Challenge: 5-Minutes, 5 Categories, 3 Weeks

With Free Images Every Day Until Thanksgiving

Last November, I shared 14 images with Bible verses about thankfulness and gratitude. People told me they shared them, printed them, and posted them. Two years ago, I challenged you to five minutes a day of thankfulness. This year, I’m combining the two and adding an extra week’s worth of images!

A Thankfulness Challenge

I have included the first seven images at the bottom of this post. However, I will also be sharing one each day on my Facebook Page. Certainly the easiest way to share them is to like my page and share them right from your news feed.

Frequently, it’s difficult to be thankful. In fact, it is pretty easy to find reasons to not be thankful.

We should all take this thankfulness challenge not because we want to do it. We should take the challenge because we need to do it. That’s why I’m doing it.

When I look at much of what’s happening around me, I don’t feel thankful. There are many, many things that are not “thankfulness-worthy.” And not just small things. Big, important, really hard things as well.

For example…

  • Friends whose newborn is still in the hospital…after four months.
  • Continued racial tension around our country…and the world.
  • A good friend who recently lost his job…after two decades with the company.
  • Two presidential candidates that have forced me to apologize to my own kids for leaders I don’t want them to be like.

Ugh.

I want to complain. I want to whine. I want to gripe. I don’t want to be thankful.

That’s why I’m doing this. That’s why I need this thankfulness challenge. Will you join me?

The Top 41 Christian Movies for Families

Do you like movies? If not, well, I’ll write something different next week. If so, read on, my friend, because Christian movies have gotten heaps better in the last decade or so. Below is a list of 41 you’ll want to check out. Many of them I have seen. The ones I haven’t seen were recommended by fellow movie lovers.

The Top 41 Christian Movies for Families

NOTE: The movies are arranged in order from most-recent to oldest. I’ve included the release year and the rating, and a short description of the movie. Oh, and if I’ve done a review or interviewed someone from the movie, you’ll find a link. Enjoy!

1. Priceless (2016) PG-13

A man stands at the crossroads of his life. Angry after the death of his wife and losing custody of his daughter, James is unable to hold down a job. Out of desperation he agrees to drive a truck across the country for cash. When he discovers what his cargo is, he goes all out to save two sisters who will be sold into the sex slave trade. Here is a review I posted about this movie.

2. God’s Not Dead 2 (2016) PG

A sequel to God’s Not Dead, this film is about a high school history teacher, Grace Wesley who faces disciplinary action, administrative leave and a lawsuit when someone claims that Grace has been preaching in class because she quoted a verse from the Bible.

“I’m Not Ashamed” – Columbine on the Big Screen (and So Much More)

Video Interview with Masey McLain

Do you remember where you were when you heard about the shooting at Columbine High School? I was at home in Tacoma. Three days later I was on a plane to Denver, CO.  That Saturday night I was speaking at a local church, processing and grieving with confused students (and parents) who wanted to worship a God who was present in this tragedy.

Masey Mclain Inteview - "I'm Not Ashamed"

Tomorrow – October 21, 2016 – a terrific movie comes out about the life of Rachel Joy Scott, the first student killed in the shooting at Columbine. I’m Not Ashamed is much, much more than simply a here’s-what-led-up-to-a-school-shooting. This a a well-told, honest story about a young woman, trying to do the right thing (many times failing…just like you and me). She is ultimately striving to live a life that honors Jesus.

largememe13My guess is Rachel Joy Scott was a very different person from the picture you have painted in your head.

This week I got to sit down (via the wonder of technology) with Masey McLain – the fantastic actress who played Rachel in I’m Not Ashamed. We were scheduled to chat for 15 minutes and ended up recording 23 minutes (and then talked for another 10 after). Masey is not only a terrific actress, she’s a cool, authentic, fun person.

Enjoy!

The Interview