Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall, Change and Renewal by Cheryl Laurenza

Luke 10:38-42

I love Fall here in New England! The beautiful blue sky, cool to warm temps, and the is the best in the country.  The brilliance of the colors draw "leaf peepers" from all over the country. After a warm Summer and busyness from vacations, and such, it is a slowing down and the transition to a different time and pace. I think we need "Fall" in our spiritual and emotional lives too. We need to be aware of the beauty around us, the changing of lives, and the transitions God wants to bring to us. It seems  we are often too busy in the "Summer" of our lives to slow down and see this. 

How about you? What are you aware of that God is teaching you? Can you see the growth that has come this past Spring and Summer or have you been scattered with many activities? It may be time to take a deep breath, dial it down, and be intentional about where you are and where He is taking you. Reread the scripture and recognize that we all tend to the Martha side of things if we are not being mindful that we need both that side and the "Mary" side to be balanced. 

I'm trying to take my own words to heart and be more intentional about this as well. I'm thankful for the built in reminders this season here in New Hampshire gives me to slow down, enjoy the beauty, and look to my Creator for each step. I desire to sit at His feet and learn from Him, nothing else compares. It's is only after this that I am filled and able to do what I am called to do.

Blessed Fall Sisters

Cheryl Laurenza, LPC, LCMHC
For more information on aloneness in marriage or otherwise, check out Center For Relational Care out of Austin, TX or contact me via email.

Friday, October 17, 2014

When Pink becomes Personal by @emilylaney

Photo credit: Storyboard Life (Peter Doyle)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

October is a beautiful month. We usher in autumn with its crisp air and flavors of cinnamon and pumpkin. Rich reds, oranges, and yellows color the trees with a reminder of the cycle of the seasons. Fall is my favorite season by far. But another color of October has definitely become the color pink. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, as I’m sure all of you are aware. Pink is everywhere, a color of solidarity and awareness for the women who fight this terrible disease. Over the years, I’ve been in support of this pink month, though not an avid participant. But this year, pink became personal.

My friend Angela passed away about two weeks ago from breast cancer. She fought her fight with courage and grace for the past three years. We all prayed for healing, and that healing came when God brought her home. It’s painful, but I’m so grateful that she’s no longer in pain.

Circumstances shook up Angela’s life. She didn’t plan to have breast cancer at the age of 35. She didn’t plan to go through countless treatments, surgeries and hospital stays. She didn’t desire to experience the anxiety of test results and doctor’s visits. She wanted to be married, to have children, to advance in her career. But sometimes, life throws us punches.

Angela never gave up during her fight. I’m sure there were times where it was unbelievably difficult, but her faith didn’t waver. Her courage didn’t falter. She stood tall, confident in the grace of God. One of her favorite verses is the one that’s at the beginning of this post. She lived out that verse as a beautiful example to all those who knew her. She trusted God throughout her whole life, and didn’t falter when things got very difficult. In fact, she seized opportunities to serve others. She poured into the lives of chemo patients by bringing them coffee during their treatments. When she had to stop working because of her treatments, she began volunteering more. She took advantage of opportunities to encourage and share her faith with others. 

Life really does throw some hard punches. The enemy is constantly looking for ways to crush our spirits, deflate our dreams, and rip away our faith. But we can’t let him. Like my friend, we have to take the words of Proverbs 3:5-6 to heart- every single day. When things make absolutely no sense, we have to cling to scripture. We can’t rely on our own understanding, because our understanding is not complete. We only see a small piece of the big picture of our lives. At the conclusion of difficult seasons we may understand a bigger piece of the picture- we may understand why certain difficult things happened. But in some cases, we never fully understand. In fact, my friend Angela mentioned several times that she felt that God wanted her to use her struggles to encourage people to come to Christ, even just one person. I think she left this earth not fully knowing who that person is, but she’s complete now. God’s shown her the full picture, and she’s whole.

Pink has become personal to me, but more than anything else, it reminds me of how personal my God is. He’s so much bigger than cancer, and he’s so much bigger than anything you may be experiencing today. Trust in Him.

If you want to learn more about my friend Angela, check out my blog at

Emily Laney is a social worker, educator, and justice seeker.  She has worked with vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad and loves to help startup nonprofits reach their goals.  She is a Passion City Church door holder and leads a team of abolitionists at Not for Sale Georgia.   She loves her husband Brent and their rescue pup Biscuit. Sunsets and Sushi make her happy.

You can connect with Emily on twitter @emilylaney or on her blog

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Do You Ever Feel a Little Weird? - A Guest Post from Julie-Allyson Ieron

Photo by Amelia Grace Photography
All Rights Reserved
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 (ESV)

Do you ever feel a little weird? As a Christ-follower, I mean. As someone who is doing her best to follow in Christ’s footsteps, to live daily in a way that would honor Him. When I see people glance sideways at me, I detect in their eyes the suggestion that my weirdness quotient may be off the charts. My wardrobe selections. My lifestyle decisions. My language. My music. My reading choices. I can tell that my priorities don’t make one lick of sense to colleagues, acquaintances, even friends.

Feeling enmeshed in that blue funk this afternoon, I clicked through my YouTube favorites and listened (over and over and over) to a song that revolutionized my perspective. It was Charles Billingsley’s video of “Light of that City,” where he paints a picture of the eternal joy set before us. “On that day, we will sing, ‘Holy, Holy!’/On that day, we’ll bow down in the light.” Reflecting on that expectation, my mind locked in on a Scripture I had memorized as a grade-schooler. In this context it made more sense to me than ever before:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. … And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:7-9

Those words helped me regain my focus and passion for just how worthy the goal of our lives is: to glorify Christ and enjoy Him forever. They reminded me that one day, we’ll be rewarded for our faithfulness by turning our eyes upward and seeing our Lord Jesus Christ in His resplendent glory. It will be magnificent. Life-altering. All-encompassing.
Most of all, for me today, it put the weirdness quotient back in its rightful perspective. I don’t live by the same set of rules as the world. It’s no wonder they think I’m wacky. In fact, it’s a backhanded compliment that can help keep me from growing weary in doing the good that I should.

Julie-Allyson Ieron has the creative mind of a writer, the heart of a caregiver, the tenacity of a journalist, the others-centeredness of a businesswoman. She has published 35 books. Her newest are, The GOD Interviews: Questions You Would Ask; Answers God Gives and: Comforting Words for Caregivers … and those they love. 

Listen in as Julie speaks to a live audience on her new book, The GOD Interviews.
Visit us on the web, and see the long list of life-changing Bible study tools included in The Julie-Allyson Ieron Bible Reference Collection powered by WORDsearch 9.0.

This article first appeared at

Monday, October 13, 2014

Power Up! ~ A Guest Post by Author, Deb DeArmond

“I wish I had a picture of my mom, “ the young man said. “You look just like her.”
Sounds nice, yes? Fail. Just five minutes earlier I learned that he was the baby in the family, the last of nine children—and that his mother just celebrated her 83rd birthday.
“She wears her hair just like yours. And I think she even has those same shoes.”
He smiled at me. I smiled back. It kept me from bursting into tears or screaming hysterically or something else inappropriate for the moment. It was a business setting and those types of outbursts are generally frowned on, you know.
Truthfully, I’m certain I am old enough to be his mother. But I’d have been a lot happier to hear she’d been a teen mom, now still very much a youthful, with-it kind of gal. Not someone 83.
So what to do with his observation . . .?
Well for starters, I’m getting my hair cut today and may consider refreshing my highlights. And those shoes gotta go. I’m sure that some senior citizen will consider them quite a find at the Goodwill store.
In all fairness, our conversation did nothing more than remind me, once again, of the obvious facts: the sand in the hourglass is shifting. If someone said to me today, “You’re only as old as you feel,” I’d smack him. Life has been both exhilarating and demanding of late. Exhilaration can be demanding. It can also be a carnival ride: bright and colorful, while moving very fast, and right up until the moment you think you might lose your lunch—it’s fun.
And it all requires energy, which has been in short supply lately.
This morning, I recognized my power pack light was blinking. I’ve failed to plug into the source—His power consistently of late. It hit me yesterday on an airplane as I listened to Natalie Grant on my headphones singing “Your Great Name,” and couldn’t keep the tears from streaming down my face right there in seat 3B.
“All the weak find their strength at the sound of your great name.”
It was a moment. Just ask the lady in 3C.
It’s not that I don’t know how much I need time in His presence, drinking Him in. But of all the things that pull on me, demanding my time and attention – He is the kindest and gentlest of them all. He never pushes His way to the front, knocking my world off its axis to get my attention, but waits with expectancy, believing that this daughter who has been given so much – redemption, new life, and unbelievable favor – will appear and sit at His feet. That He waits while I wade through other stuff is a level of love I do not understand.
“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being,” Acts 17:270-28a.
God’s plan for my life at this time of my life is ambitious to say the least. He set me on a path I never saw coming and I’m running to catch up with it all daily. I love the path. But I love Him more and I have no illusions about whose power is required for the race.
The enemy would like me to believe there’s a prescribed number of minutes each day required for the recharge I need. Not true. It’s a minute by minute presence with God, talking to Him throughout the day and listening intently for the direction of His Spirit that empowers. It’s an embedded awareness of the living Word in everything I touch. It’s also time to simply sit at His feet and recognize the majesty of our great God.
I’ve been trying to live and move and have my being under my own strength, my own power these last few weeks. It’s embarrassingly insufficient for what He’s called me to. Especially since I’m at the age where I’m reminding folks of their 83-year-old mother.
God has no intention of letting me off the hook for what He’s called me to. His word is clear that He never changes His mind about His plans for us: “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn,” Romans 11:29 (NLT). Since that’s the case, I’d better change my mind and my practices to include a constant recharge.
I’m back on track. That young man did me a favor.
But I’m still getting rid of those shoes.

Deb DeArmond’s been married to her high school sweetheart nearly 39 years. She has three incredible sons and daughters-in-law and four perfect grand boys (with two more on the way). But Jesus is her favorite, and the others have learned to live with it.  Deb and her husband Ron live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Connect with Deb at

Previously published at and

Friday, October 10, 2014

When Your Way of Practicing Christianity Gets "ALL SHOOK UP"- by @ShelleyHendrix

Free to be ME 
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 TNIV
For most of my life I seemed to be doing quite well in my Christian life and journey, even through some really tough bumps in the road. I didn’t realize how much or how often I was relying on my own strength, my own wisdom, or my own abilities to get through tough times. 
I prayed. 
I read my Bible. 
I attended and volunteered at my church. 
I was very good at “doing.” 
I thought that since it was my responsibility to “die to self,” and “live for Christ,” that I was doing my utmost to make that happen with utmost sincerity. 
Can I be completely honest? Without truly realizing this about myself, the truth was that I wanted to impress God with how much I could love Him and how good I could make Him look to others—I thought this was the way He wanted me to live my life. 
But there was a problem with this way of living: Striving with all my might to be as close to perfect as humanly possible, to check off "the list," to perform well enough for God, others, & even myself, kept my relationships completely guarded. I wore a different mask for different people and different settings--but I wasn't even aware of it! Allowing God to remove the masks, one by one, started out with unrelenting pain. Actually, my willingness to even allow this was as a result of God showing me how I COULD NOT handle life on my own, nor did He ever expect me to even attempt to do this. 
It was torturous to my mind and emotions that had been stuck in the same patterns for so long. Those masks are usually glued on tightly enough that we don't even see them in the mirror or feel them hiding our faces, and we have NO clue how much they are impacting our own vision and perception of the world and others, much like the masks we don for costume parties . I thought I was the most sincere and ‘real’ person I knew. For most of us who have learned this way of living—especially as Believers in Jesus—it can be the shock of our lives to find out we aren’t as “authentic” as we’ve perceived ourselves to be. 
Okay, with this in mind, take a DEEP BREATH with me here… “Until the pain is greater than the payoff, there will be no change.”
God loved me enough to confront me with truth. Learning to trust His skillful hands to do the kind of surgery only He can do, opened my life up in countless ways and has given me opportunities to be truly known...and deeply loved. To be free—indeed
The masks may have looked more appealing than the real me, but it definitely wasn’t worth the relational isolation it required to maintain. Knowing Christ intimately, and knowing Christ IN Shelley has made every single ounce of discomfort and pain MORE than worth it. 
His Grace still amazes me! 
"All Shook UP" is the theme of this year's AWAKEN 1-Day Conference hosted by Church 4 Chicks on November 8. Deadline to register is October 31st and you can do that here on the blog (right hand column) or ~ We would love to see you there!

 Shelley Hendrix is the founder of Church 4 Chicks and the brand new Heart Smart- Counseling, Coaching and Consulting practice with her best friend and husband, Stephen Hendrix. 

You can find Shelley's website, social media links and more at but you'll typically find her sipping coffee, taking pics of sunrises and sunsets in her new coastal hometown or wrestling with her crazy Beaglador named Annie. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Meet Valorie Burton ~ Featured Speaker at #AWAKEN1Day 2014!

Valorie Burton is an amazing woman who not only exemplifies Church 4 Chicks mission of helping women live with purpose without the pressure, but she has also navigated through the twists and turns of life in order to find her God-given purpose. She is a best selling author, speaker and life coach who is dedicated to helping women overcome the areas of their lives in which they feel lost and stuck. Valorie is the founder of The Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute, which has allowed her to serve clients in over 40 states and ten countries as an Certified Personal and Executive Coach. Essentially, she helps people to make major life changes, become stronger leaders, speak up with confidence and gain positive tools that can be used to navigate the life’s disappointments and setbacks. In other words, she wants to help people see their lives as better and not bitter.

Valorie is a regularly featured on the TODAY Show, along with appearances on the Dr. Oz Show and she has co-hosted two national television programs, The Potters Hands with T.D. Jakes and Aspiring Women. She has also written for Oprah Magazine, Essence, Ebony, Women’s Day and many others. Valorie Burton can best be summarized by Coca Cola’s corporate testimony:

“When Valorie Burton lit up the stage at the 2013 Women’s Foodservice Forum Conference in Orlando, we knew we had to have her.  Back at the World Headquarters of The Coca-Cola Company, our women’s business resource group, women’s LINC, was hard at work planning the “Now is Your Time” conference for 500 women in Atlanta and members in over 20 countries.  Lucky for us, Valorie was available and joined us as the workshop lead for a session on, “How to Bring out the Best in Yourself and Others.”  Well, she certainly brought out the best in her audience – our members raved about Valorie and she earned top scores in our post-conference survey.  Of course, she’s a great speaker with a strong message that prompts her listeners to go and do something; but it’s the intangibles that we loved.  Valorie is a great storyteller, funny, and she knows how to move a crowd!  Do your team a favor…call her.”

Tanika S. Cabral Coca-Cola women’s LINC Vice President, Engagement

Church 4 Chicks is not only excited to have Valorie speaking at the AWAKEN 1 Day Conference, but we are honored to have her share her heart, her wisdom and her expertise regarding our reactions when our world is “all shook up!”

Got Tix? for tickets or simply use the option on the right hand column of the blog -- and hurry! Registration deadline is October 31!