“What the Lord Requires” – Our New Bible Study Book!

What would it look like to act justly, love kindness, and walk humbly with God? How would this change the way we interact with one another and further Christ’s Kingdom here on earth? 

If you’re weary of all the sadness, contempt and division in our nation and world right now, you’re not alone. 

I am, too. That’s why I spent nearly a year studying, praying, dreaming and writing alongside the director of The Freedom Challenge

The Study

What the Lord Requires is a six-week (5 days per week) labor of love and conviction. It uses an inductive approach and invites participants to do the wonderful work of observing, interpreting, and applying Scripture while gaining the skills to understand other passages the same way. Whether you’re new to the Bible, a seasoned woman of the Word, have young children running around in the background, or are just trying to hold it together, expect to:

  • Spend 25 minutes a day studying the Word in a way that reveals God’s truth
  • Hone your Bible study skills by exploring cross-references, determining context, making lists, marking the text, paraphrasing, and more!
  • Commit to FINISHING and create an action plan to apply what you’ve learned
  • Glean from all the extra material we’ve included in the Appendices of the study
  • Be transformed by Micah 6:6-8 as you seek to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God
  • Check in with Tracy and I weekly via Instagram beginning with an introductory session on April 20 (stay tuned for more details along with additional resources to help you study)
  • Know that your purchase is saving lives! ALL proceeds from the sale of this Bible study will support The Freedom Challenge and its mission to set more women and children on the pathway to freedom
The Team
Tracy and I (along with some other Freedom Challenge sisters) in a Muslim nation teaching the Bible and visiting programs that prevent and free women and children from oppression.


The dream of doing it together came from a sisterhood between Tracy and I – A trusted exchange of shared hearts, experiences and purpose. Our intention and desire is that you see this modeled in these pages: a powerful unity from the Arise and Freedom Challenge teams that truly represents the oneness of the Kingdom at what we believe is just the right time. 

How we hope that with each turn of the page comes deep understanding of the Word and the commitment to live in its truths.

I can’t wait for you to hold this study in your hands and work through it alongside us.



{available NOW on Amazon}



He is Love: More About Lent and Some Interviews with Sarah Bulkley


The season of Lent is just around the corner, and we want to be prepared. Christians around the world practice Lent as a way of drawing close to God and remembering Christ’s sacrifice in preparation of Easter. It’s not something we are required to do, but are invited to do. Below are some helpful insights, practical ideas, and more from author Sarah Bulkley about her book, He is Love: Daily Scripture and Prayer From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday (and Beyond).

More About Lent

Observing Lent is not prescribed in Scripture, but is part of a centuries old Christian calendar beginning and modeled in the Bible. Fasting, meditating on God’s Word, repentance, prayer and sacrifice are not American traditions, but disciplines that are an integral part of our walk with Christ. Access our recommended resources for practicing spiritual disciplines here and here

  • The word Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon words lencten, which means Spring, and lenctentid, which can be translated as March – the month in which the bulk of the lenten season falls.
  • Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (March 2 in 2022) and ends on Resurrection Sunday (with Palm Sunday, Holy ThursdayGood Friday, Silent Saturday between). While we refer to this season as 40 days of preparing our hearts and minds for Easter, Lent takes place over 47 calendar days. Sundays are traditionally considered days of rest and celebration rather than days of observance.
Ways to Observe Lent

Practicing Lent prepares us to celebrate the wonder and promise of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. Search your heart and ask God to reveal ways that will help you draw close to Him this season and give yourself wholly to Jesus.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Sacrifice – Fast or abstain from types of food, technology, social media and/or sources of entertainment. When you crave or miss the things you’ve sacrificed, reflect on Christ and His great sacrifice for us. By voluntarily carving away comforts, distractions, or conveniences, we make room to focus on God.
  • Give – Live simply for the 47 days of Lent. Keep track of the money you’ve saved and donate it to a cause or person. Simple living allows more time and resources for others as we declutter and live intentionally. Consider serving somewhere on your own or alongside friends or family. 
  • Repent – Repentance is the act of turning to God and turning away from sin. Ask God to reveal sin and confess it to Him and a trusted friend or mentor. Seeking reconciliation with Christ and others is another way to celebrate our salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection.
  • Remember – To remember during Lent means we reflect on God’s sacrifice for us and His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Keep a gratitude journal where you record things you are grateful to God for. Commit to writing in it daily over the 47 days and review it with a spirit of thanksgiving on Easter Sunday.
  • Focus on Scripture and Prayer  – Make Christ the center of your lenten season by adding rhythms of daily Bible reading and responsive prayer. Use He is Love: Daily Scripture and Prayer From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday (and Beyond) to reflect on  foundational passages and respond in prayer. Use the pages in the back to begin writing your own personal prayers.
More About Our Lent Resource, “He is Love”

The first 11 days of He is Love: Daily Scripture and Prayer From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday (and Beyond) focus on others and include prayers for our community, leaders and loved ones. The last 36 passages draw our attention toward God’s character and seek to help us grow a deeper and more personal relationship with Him. 

At the end of the 47 Scriptures and prayers, there are 7 extra days of passages with space to write your own prayers. You are encouraged to spend time meditating on each one and then respond to God’s Word by writing a personal prayer to Him. 


Interviews About He is Love With Author Sarah Bulkley
Printable Scripture Cards 

Cultivate a rhythm of reflection and gratitude with Scripture memorization cards created by artist Anna DeRoos. Each of these passages correlate with our He is Love: Daily Scripture and Prayer From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday (and Beyond) devotional and are a simple and beautiful way to incorporate the Word into your Lent journey this year. These 4×6 cards can be framed, posted on a refrigerator, tucked into your Bible nightstand, or mailed in a note to a friend. Try memorizing them on your own, with family, or alongside other women.









Above all, may this season of repentance and reflection yield sweet communion with Christ. And in the sacrifice and practice of Lent, remember, Easter is coming!


About the Contributors

Sarah Bulkley

Sarah is a wife, dog mom and pediatric dental assistant. She loves spending her free time meditating on scripture, listening to old sermons, practicing yoga, and antique shopping. She fell in love with Jesus at a young age, but her passion for women’s ministries and Bible Study really began when she joined her first Bible Study group in 2010. She loves encouraging women to know and love the Bible.




Lisa Da Silva  

Lisa is a wife, mom of two teenagers, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word. She writes, speaks, and teaches the Bible to anyone who will read or listen.

Lisa is a teacher by trade and passion, recovering striver, and lover of simplicity. She enjoys thrift store shopping and often has to convince people she’s an introvert.  Just a loud one.

Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.


Anna of She Letters Truth Co. – Creator of our Lent Scripture Memorization Cards

Anna is a visual artist and high school Senior living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She loves creating for God’s glory, and finds joy in all things pretty. You can find more of Anna’s printable scripture cards for Arise by checking out our Resources tab. Visit She Letters Truth Co. on Etsy to find more of Anna’s creations.

















“He Will” – An Advent Bible Study

Preparing for Christmas

There are trees to decorate, lights to hang, stockings to stuff, cookies to bake, gifts to buy, and special meals to cook. In all of the excitement, rushing, and overwhelm we may wonder what the fuss and hustle is really about. Many of us long to soak in the real reason we celebrate.
For centuries, Christians around the world have set aside the four weeks before Christmas to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. We call this Advent (meaning “the arrival” or “coming”), and embrace it as a season of anticipation for both the birth of Christ and the glory of God still to come – A time to ready our hearts and honor God’s gift to us in our Savior, Jesus.

About the “He Will” Advent Bible Study

We hope you’ll experience this Christmas season with a fresh and renewed perspective as you participate in this four-week study either individually or with a group. Expect the following as you journey through the first two chapters of Luke using the “He Will” Advent Bible Study:
  • A guided plan organized by week rather than day so you can use your own judgement and schedule your time accordingly.
  • Dig deep and glean new revelation from this well-known gospel story.
  • Better understand the prophesies, context, and events surrounding Christ’s coming.
  • Discover and cling to the character traits of God revealed in both the Old and New Testament.
  • Utilize an inductive study method by making observations, marking key words, and interpreting  the text.
  • Remember that in His great love and mercy, God has given the gift of salvation, just as He promised.


The Bible is for Everyone

We believe that the Bible is for everyone. You don’t need to be a scholar to start growing! Our heart’s desire is that this guide would be a useful tool for you, and we hope you will learn some new things and practice studying the Bible for yourself. While it’s suitable for both individuals and groups, we strongly recommend asking others to learn alongside you. Invite some friends and meet each week to discuss new revelations about the text and our amazing God.

Join Us

While November 29 is the official start of Advent this year, go ahead and start a week early (November 22) if you want/need to be finished by Christmas. We simply hope you’ll come alongside us as we prepare our hearts to celebrate what amazing things the Lord has done.
Be sure to subscribe on our website to receive free printable scripture cards containing key verses from this study, check us out on social media for a short IGTV video to encourage your learning, and listen to our “He Will” podcast with special tips and guidance after you finish Week One. 
With great love and affection for our sisters in Christ, 
Authors Eryn Kesler, Mary Straker, and the team at Arise Ministries Collective
Get your copy of the He Will Advent Study by clicking here or on the image below.

About the “He Will” Co-Authors

Eryn Kesler has been married to Matt for 20 years – the best thing that’s ever happened to her. She’s mom to 5 amazing kids, a recovering over-scheduler, and a wedding & portrait photographer in Brush Prairie, Washington.
Mary Straker is wife to her loving husband, Derek, and a stay-at-home mama to three sweet and busy little girls. She has been changed by the study of Scripture, and longs for other women to abide with God through the treasure of His Word. Mary lives in Ridgefield, Washington. 


God of Wonder by Julie Delamarter

I’ve never looked forward to a broken heart. Have you? Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.” If we saw our broken hearts, our trials, our tears as an opportunity for His nearness, would we view our trials differently? Would an opportunity to be near HIM in a different way change how we function in that trial?  I’d venture to say that when we witness the nearness of God when we are hurting, it changes everything.  

A Mother’s Heart 

It changes everything, especially as a mother. If you are a mother, chances are your heart has broken. It probably started the moment your son or daughter was born and you realized this “love” they talk about regarding a child is something that cannot be described; only experienced. I think from that moment on, our hearts break on different levels as we guide, direct, and ‘mother’ our kids through this life. The scraped knees morph into broken hearts over relationships, misunderstandings, not making a team, or even bigger losses. The tears over a ‘boo-boo’ somehow become harder to wipe away when it involves their hearts. As moms, we cry out to the Lord on behalf of our children.  Whether it be a friendship gone awry, issues with mental health, a diagnosis, a decision or string of decisions that you know is only leading down a dangerous path – The difficulty of toddlerhood somehow pales in comparison to the raising of future adults. 

In my 17 years of motherhood, I feel like I’ve had two choices: 

One – Believe that God is just a bystander in my life and the life of my kids and He steps in only when necessary.

Two – Believe that God is actively involved in every heartache, every loss, every surprising turn and He desires to be near in very tangible ways. 

I believe He desperately wants to give us ‘good gifts’ as we walk through this life as parents and as individuals. The pain that we experience as we watch our kids find their way is an invitation to see the tangible hand of God at every turn and be near Him. It only requires one thing: That we ask.  

“Ask? But I ask all the time,” you may be thinking. You pray, believe, and know that God is faithful. He is good like all the Bible stories say He is. In your own life, you know He is there, but out of fear of disappointment we may not ‘ask’ for specifics. I believe God does not want us passively waiting for Him to show up; He wants us LOOKING, asking, pleading.  We can ask boldly and wait in expectation for the God who wants desperately to give good gifts to those who ask (Matthew 7:11). Especially, when our hearts are broken.  

A Beet Salad

I remember the moment. We had just received news of a life altering diagnosis for our oldest son. At the time, it completely derailed all his hopes and dreams and quite literally put him on the sideline for the foreseeable future. Because the diagnosis is genetic, it reframed our whole family. We felt like we were being suffocated.  All that we knew had just been taken in a moment. I remember hearing of God’s tangible goodness in people’s life when walking through trials, but had never experienced it myself. The kind of undeniable, “Wow” moments that could only be described by a good God who orchestrates every detail. When we say “He is good.” What is our proof? So I decided to ask. I decided to ask for a tangible ‘gift’ not knowing if it would be in the form of a miracle in his health situation, a person on the street, or a shadow on the sidewalk that communicated something specific to me. 

I had specifically asked the Lord to show up in our brokenness that day. I said, “Lord, I need a gift to know you are near.” My husband and I met at a local restaurant to decompress and process after the trauma of the few days before. Not a minute later, a server came by and said, “Here is a beet salad. It is extra. It is a GIFT. Would you like it?” I looked at my husband and said, “Did you hear her? She said it’s a gift.  It’s from the Lord!” I think the Lord’s sense of humor was coming through when he gave me the beet salad and the server said, “It is a gift.” I think He was saying, “You want a gift, I’m going to give it to you.” I like beet salads, sure, but as a gift from the Lord? One could say that would be questionable. It didn’t matter what anyone thought, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God was meeting me in that moment in a big way. It was quite literally an opportunity to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8)! We laughed at the way God showed up that day but that simple moment was a catalyst to viewing God’s faithfulness actively in our lives rather than passively. I now refer to all the ways God shows up for me as my “beet salads.” 

The Wonder and Awe of His Nearness

The next few months were filled with doctor visits, tests, hospitals and all the things you don’t want to be doing with your child. I filled a journal with the big and little ways God showed up for us during that time and as my eyes shifted to the beauty of my God who loves us, the trial was filtered through a new lens of awe and wonder of God in the midst of our broken hearts. Our son’s diagnosis was not the end of trial in our lives. We’ve had countless opportunities to trust Him to be near in the years that have followed. What is different is when the waves come, we ask and expect Him to calm the storm with his nearness.

 Author Priscilla Shirer once shared, “Those who don’t expect to see God, won’t.”  We have to change our vantage point to see God’s fingerprints on what we are walking through.  When we shift our focus from the pain to the God who wants to do abundantly more than we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), the trials we are walking through with our children or in our own lives become an opportunity to see God in exciting, awe-inspiring ways. Our trials become an opportunity to shout His glory from the rooftops because of how He has showed up. Job 5:9 tells us that God “performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” Our trials become our worship because we serve a God who always comes through when we ask. It may not be how we expect. It might even be through a beet salad, but however He speaks to you, it will be with wonder. Being near to God in His wonder, might just make that broken heart a miracle over a burden.    

Scripture to Ponder

Psalm 34:3 – “Proclaim the Lord’s greatness with me; let us exalt his name together.” 

Psalm 34:8 – “Taste and see that the Lord is good.  How happy is the person who takes refuge in him.”  

Psalm 34:18 – “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.”  

Psalm 33:20-22 – “We wait for the Lord; he is our help and shield. For our hearts rejoice in him because we trust in his holy name.  May your faithful love rest on us, Lord, for we put our hope in you.”  


About the Author – Julie Delamarter grew up in Southern California, met her husband who is from Pendleton, Oregon in college, moved to the PNW, and never looked back! She has been married for almost 20 years and has three amazing kids. She is a behavior therapist for kids with autism by day and a carpool driver by night! Some of her favorite things include country music, lots of sun, food, friends, and adventure. Passionate about many things including youth, the special needs community, and mental health. God has shown Himself real to her and she prays He will use her however He sees fit! 


You Are God’s Masterpiece

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” -Ephesians 2:8-10, (emphasis added)


 The greatest artist of all calls you His masterpiece. The very one who took a desolate void and created light, separated land from sea, and spoke abundant vegetation and livestock into being then stood back in pleasure (Genesis 1) looks at you with the same admiration.

Take a moment to let this sink in, sister. Close your eyes and imagine yourself just as you are—every mistake, every joy, every heartache, and every scar. Now picture God in all His glory and perfection stepping back to admire each bit of you as His newest and most beautiful creation. He is the artist and the potter. You are His canvas and clay.

But it doesn’t stop there.

The Apostle Paul exhorts the church in Ephesus to take action. Understanding that each was exquisitely formed in the womb (Psalm 139:13-16) then birthed into a new creation upon belief and surrender to Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:10) was just the beginning. These masterpieces were not meant to simply hang on a wall, be placed in a cabinet, or set on a shelf to be admired.

They are masterpieces with a purpose.

There are things God planned and ordained for them to do.

 And while the Ephesians were created in that space and time for particular purposes, so were you created for this time and for specific good works.

It is not a mistake that you are alive and living in this season. It is not a mistake that you bear particular burdens and scars. It is not a mistake that you are unique and sometimes feel different and out of place. It is not a mistake that you have the neighbors, sphere of influence, gifts, talents, circumstances, and experiences that you do. Our great God has purposed and ordained you for such a time as this. A masterpiece designed to do “good things he planned for us long ago (Ephesians 2:10).”

Take a moment to be silent before the Lord. Let images of past experiences, joys, traumas, or sorrows flood your mind and heart. As they do, lay them before your Father, and praise Him. Each and every one of those experiences has prepared you for the work He wants you to do right now. In this very moment. For His glory.

Ask our great God to reveal the specific role He has for you today and in the days to come. Wait quietly and listen to His voice. Make note of the people, places, and situations He brings to mind. Who needs to know Christ as their personal Savior? Where can you serve and bring the light of Jesus? How can you be the Church, and who can you invite to come alongside you? What do you need to say or do to bring glory to God and make His grace and truth known to others?

As you begin to process God’s particular purpose for you in this season, be assured that He is raising up your fellow sisters to do their own good works for the Kingdom. The author of Hebrews reminds us to “hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works (Hebrews 10:23-24, NLT, emphasis added).”

While Scripture is clear that we have the same Missio Dei—the mission of God to bring Him glory and make that glory known to the world (1 Corinthians 10:31, Matthew 28:16-20)—the way He uses us as individuals to manifest that calling will be different for each (1 Corinthians 12). We must rally around one another and spur one another on as we seek to love the lost, love the Church, and share the gospel.

Prayer and Worship

Close your time today by listening to this song. Use it as a prayer and resurrender your life for His Kingdom purpose. And then, sweet sister, take a step down from the shelf and let Him take you where He wants you to go. Start living as the unique masterpiece you are.

“Sails” by Pat Barrett

“Canvas & Clay” by Pat Barrett

About the Author – Lisa DaSilva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, a teacher, and an advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul, and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word. Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.

Passion Week: A Resurrection Sunday Reflection

Scripture for Today

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Matthew 28:5-9 (NIV)

Things to Think About

Psalm 22 foreshadows Jesus’ death. The suffering savior quotes David in some of his last words:  

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  

The psalmist goes on to ask, “Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?”   

As our Saturday gives way to Sunday the cries become a rhythm to our days. Yet, in the early morning of dawn, when the world seems to be it’s quietest and the sun begins to ask the night sky to back away, we read the rest of the Psalm:

“All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!”

I wonder whether Jesus’ words on the cross were meant to lead us to this passage written so many years before. 

I wonder if he knew we may feel an extent of his suffering, too – forsaken, neglected, isolated, alone.

Then the dawn awakens and our Lord points to the rest of the Psalm. Like a guide on a trail, he shows the way up the hill and leads us to these words. Reminding us, He has done it.  

He has done it.

He has risen from the dead and taken his place in the heavens.

He has conquered death and birthed everlasting life.

He has traded sorrow for joy, bondage for freedom, doubt for truth, fear for peace. 

With all the chaos in our hearts and uncertainties in our lives, we can rest. Not because it’s easy, but because the grave is empty and the body not there.

Just as he said.

Could we, this Easter, when our worlds feel unsettled, rejoice with the same passion and amazement as those who first learned of Jesus’ resurrection?

I wonder.


About the Co-authors

Marnee Alfson
is an EMDR trained trauma specialist in private practice in Vancouver, WA.  Marnee received her training under the direction of leading author and developer of Story Informed Trauma Therapy (SITT), Byron Kehler, MS. She has worked with survivors of various traumas such as sexual and/or domestic assault, displacement, first responders, attachment in relationships, body image, life transitions and mood management.

She believes we gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience we choose to walk through.  Trauma recovery therapy is an important part of hope in helping other survivors live their lives free of the pain they have experienced.


Lisa Da Silva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word.  She writes, speaks, and teaches the Bible to anyone who will read or listen.

Lisa is a teacher by trade and passion, voice for the marginalized, recovering striver, and lover of simplicity, authenticity, and all things pretty. She enjoys thrift store shopping and often has to convince people she’s an introvert.  Just a loud one.

Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.






Passion Week: A Silent Saturday Reflection

Scripture for Today 

Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!  My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. Lamentations 3:19-24 ESV

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10 ESV

Things to Think About

There seems to be confusion everywhere on the correct path to take regarding this pandemic. Even between family and friends the information isn’t quite the same. What is the truth? What is real? Who do we believe?  

It feels oddly familiar to what we read in scripture around Holy Week.  On Palm Sunday they are shouting “Hosanna, Hosanna.” On Friday some of the same voices are heard yelling, “crucify him, crucify him,” and on Saturday, it’s silent.  The people are confused, the information is different between family and friends. What is the truth that just happened? What is real? Who do they believe?

We often don’t give space for the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  Never before has the concept of this silence on Saturday meant so much.  

Max Lucado writes: “On Saturday, Jesus is silent. So is God. He made himself heard on Friday.  He tore the curtains of the temple, opened the graves of the dead, rocked the earth, blocked the sun of the sky, and sacrificed the Son of Heaven. Earth heard much of God on Friday. Nothing on Saturday.  Jesus is silent.  God is silent.  Saturday is silent.”

To some, this experience of life right now, may seem like a Saturday that forgot to end.  Saturday’s silence torments us. God feels silent, Jesus feels silent and far away. We are stuck in the liminal space between what we knew before and wondering what is to come. For most of us there is a level of suffering we are experiencing – A sort of collective grieving in what has been lost.  Our way of life, graduations, weddings, a chance to gather to say final good-byes to loved ones. All is different.  All is unfamiliar and yet familiar. We are set still by the silence of our world around us. It’s unnerving. Our suffering is palatable and so we sit, waiting. Waiting for our Sunday to arrive.


About the Author: Marnee Alfson is an EMDR trained trauma specialist in private practice in Vancouver, WA.  Marnee received her training under the direction of leading author and developer of Story Informed Trauma Therapy (SITT), Byron Kehler, MS. She has worked with survivors of various traumas such as sexual and/or domestic assault, displacement, first responders, attachment in relationships, body image, life transitions and mood management.

She believes we gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience we choose to walk through.  Trauma recovery therapy is an important part of hope in helping other survivors live their lives free of the pain they have experienced.

Passion Week: A Good Friday Reflection

Scripture for Today

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”  Matthew 27:45-54 (ESV).

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:1-8 (ESV)


Things to Think About

Good Friday has long been my very favorite day of the year. That might sound strange, but I thrive at night amid the dark, quiet church services where light and shadow dance together on the sanctuary walls surrounding each waxy candle. The whole theme of the day is so reflective and real, and my melancholy heart is drawn to the familiar beauty of a wounded healer. A suffering savior.

This year, though, I find myself resisting the story altogether. It isn’t that I disbelieve or don’t find it meaningful, but it’s just so…heavy. Good Friday in the midst of a pandemic isn’t exactly a walk through the park (are those even allowed anymore?). I’m tired from reading daily stories about death and suffering. My heart feels spent from keeping up with the news cycle and worrying about the people I love: Wondering if we’ll all have food, if my friends can pay their rent, if the nurses will have masks. I sob imagining the lonely memorials as people bury their loved ones at a time when no one is allowed to come together; not allowed to hug or hold hands. There is so much pain all around us, and yet we are isolated. Tired. Reading the detailed account of one more death today feels like it just might break me. 

Maybe you feel the same. I don’t know where your heart is today, but I can bet it is heavy. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of our prayers sound a bit like Jesus’ prayer on the cross:

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” 

Oof. Take a deep breath as you read those words. Can you believe they were said by JESUS, the Messiah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the celebrated Christmas Babe… The Savior of the world? 

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

This haunting prayer was a quote from and a reference to Psalm 22, a Psalm of David, which Jesus and his onlookers would have known by heart. It is an aching hymn about physical and emotional, existential suffering, crying out to God in unflinching desperation. This is a song my own heart knows all too well, and I am shaken by the knowledge that Jesus understands. 

Reflecting on the details of the gory lynching of the 33 year old God-man, Jesus, might be too much for us today as we stumble our way through both the shared and solitary traumas of life during a pandemic. But maybe we can find comfort and rest for our worn-through souls by knowing that whatever the details of our own reality right now: God understands. 

Jesus showed us on the cross that he is not afraid of our violent terrors or hidden cries, because he cried them, too. He is not afraid of the darkness because he took darkness into himself, bearing the crushing weight of all the sin of all mankind. God is not afraid of our questions, confusion, or doubt. He is not disgusted by our shame, and he isn’t surprised or taken aback by the constant, gnawing frailty of our humanness.

In fact. He welcomes it all. He welcomes us.

The cross of Christ is an altar, a monument, a welcome sign. It is a testament of love and a dark symbol of a bright reality: Jesus came to be with us, no matter the cost us, and he understands the way we feel. 

Take another deep breath, my friends: 

Jesus understands, and God is near.


About the Author: Alyssa Zimmerman, like you, is incredibly loved by God. She anxiously offers up her cynicism, fear, and mustard-seed-faith in return. Constantly amazed by grace and relieved by redemption, Alyssa pursues truth, love, justice and Jesus in the midst of disabling chronic pain which has shaped the vast majority of her life and foiled her dreams for college, career, and a family. Instead, Alyssa became a high school dropout, living in poverty and pain, forced to spend most days in bed with an icepack. Nevertheless, she is committed to the great and messy work of therapy and mental health, wishing deep-down healing and wholeness for all.

At home among the trees, the mountains, and the drizzling rain, Alyssa is a PNW native. She is passionate about living vulnerably, wrestling with the hard questions of faith, and pushing beyond the confines of our modern western evangelical culture in the hope of better understanding the fullness of God’s love and more indiscriminately extending it to all. She is a great lover of wit and silence, watcher of documentaries, drinker of tea, and excessive taker of mediocre phone pics.

Passion Week: A Holy Thursday Reflection

Scripture for Today

“The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” Exodus 12:13

“Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”  Mathew 26:27-29

Things to Think About

As we reflect on Jesus’ last meal and betrayal this Holy Thursday, and anticipate his sacrifice and resurrection, may we also take into consideration the great significance of this day in the lives of God’s chosen people. As written in the book of Exodus, God delivered the Isrealites from captivity hundreds of years prior to Jesus’ coming. Not only was Jesus anticipating his own death on this night, he was also celebrating his father’s sovereignty and provision. 

We as Christians refer to Jesus’ last meal as The Last Supper, but for hundreds of years the Jewish people revered it and celebrated it as Passover. They practice Seder, a meal where each dish symbolically reflects the food the Isrealites ate while fleeing Egypt. The holiday takes place every year and is one of the single most important days of the Jewish calendar. It is referenced throughout the Bible and is notably referred to when young Jesus travels to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover with his family, gets lost, and is found in the temple talking theology with some religious leaders. But that’s a different story (albeit a great one).

The point is this: Passover was extremely important to the Jewish people, including Jesus and his disciples (who were also Jewish). 

Why is this significant? 

I think there are many reasons, but here are a few to think about:

    • The holiday symbolizes deliverance and celebrates God’s provision and sovereignty. It’s no coincidence that Jesus decides to publicly announce that he will sacrifice himself for the forgiveness of sins on Passover. God’s timing is always perfect. 
    • Jesus talking about the wine and bread on this night were normal and expected – They were significant parts of the traditional Passover meal. Where it starts to get weird is when Jesus goes off script and refers to them as the blood and body. The disciples were taken aback by Jesus’ additions to the traditional Passover language, but we often refer to them when taking communion or celebrating the Eucharist.
    • I used to wonder why the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus was about to die after he asked them to all get together for dinner to chat about God’s covenant, bread, and wine. It seemed obvious to me that this was his “farewell” meal. I now understand that this wasn’t a random get-together in an upper room to pour some wine and eat some bread. It was completely expected – Like a family gathering on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
    • God’s covenant and Old Testament scripture references were fresh in the minds of Jesus’ listening disciples. They knew what Jesus was talking about when he references God’s covenant to His people; on this night more than ever.
    • Jesus knew he was going to die the next day. He knew he would be betrayed by someone he loved that night. But he celebrated Passover and remembered God’s provision anyway. He praised God alongside his friends despite an internal knowledge of the future. He taught despite fear. He served despite suffering.

Today, let us do the same. Let us praise God for his deliverance and sovereignty despite our own fear, suffering, or struggles facing the world today. Let us remember God’s faithfulness on this Holy Thursday, just as Jesus did. Let us wonder about His perfect timing and trust that it will continue.

About the Author: Maya DaSilva is a high school junior who just got her driver’s license but rarely remembers where the keys are.

She enjoys wondering about how faith and culture intersect, and believes thinking leads to change – Even when we don’t have all the answers. 

She thinks quiet voices are still meant to be heard. 

Passion Week: A Palm Sunday Reflection

Scripture for Today

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you;righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9 (ESV)

“The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’ His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.” John 12:12-18


Things to Think About

The prophet Zechariah foretold what was coming more than 500 years before Jesus entered Jerusalem. Branches waved and people cheered for the the man riding into town on a donkey. 

As much as Palm Sunday is supposed to be a celebration, I feel somewhat pained and contemplative when it comes each year.

The truth is, those same people who welcomed the king may have been the very ones who chanted to free Barabbas and ogle at Jesus’ death only days later. They called him “Hosanna” and blessed him upon arrival, but mocked him at his crucifixion.

Many of God’s people praised the man who’d just raised Lazarus from the dead, but completely missed their Messiah. 

And it makes me wonder what we’re missing, too – What we may misinterpret, misunderstand, and shout from the bandwagon just because it’s what others are doing. How may we, too, be misguided – Looking for the king of signs and wonders – the God of provision – but missing the miracle of His sacrifice and salvation?

So today, on Palm Sunday, let’s ask the tough questions. Let’s do the hard study. Let’s spend time with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as we seek to understand who He truly is.

Let’s know the King who rides into our lives asking that we give Him in His rightful place. 

May we be people who recognize the One who saves and submit our lives to His glory. 


About the Author: Lisa Da Silva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word.  She writes, speaks, and teaches the Bible to anyone who will read or listen.

Lisa is a teacher by trade and passion, voice for the marginalized, recovering striver, and lover of simplicity, authenticity, and all things pretty. She enjoys thrift store shopping and often has to convince people she’s an introvert.  Just a loud one.

Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.



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