Desert Living

“Grace. Let it so seep into the crusty cracks of your life that everything softens. Then let it bubble to the surface, like a spring in the Sahara, in words of kindness and deeds of generosity.” ~ Max Lucado (Grace Happens Here, pg. 116-117)

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Many people question our sanity for living in an area that is so blazing hot. Maybe they are right. You begin to wonder if the heat has indeed made you crazy when 90 degrees is actually considered a cool day. The best part is that we often try to console ourselves by saying that it’s a dry heat. It’s the dry heat that makes our skin crack and lips bleed. It’s the dry heat that requires us to run from one air-conditioned building to the next. It’s the dry heat that makes it almost hard to sweat. Almost.

Sometimes life can feel like a desert. Maybe it’s financial problems that are leaving your worried and anxious. Maybe it’s marital tension that is leaving you emotionally raw and distracted.  Maybe it’s a spiritual battle that is leaving you feeling defeated and alone.

Here is where grace enters the dry and cracked surface of our lives. Our God is not unsympathetic with His kids. In fact, Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” When life feels so dry that we have no energy to fight sin, we can be reminded that Jesus was tempted just like we were. BUT, He never gave in. Because of His victory over sin, we have grace that covers over our mess-ups, break downs, and dry spells. He understands us and still gives grace.

And the grace doesn’t stop there. Not only is it a balm to our own brokenness, but it also strengthens us to continue to fight. It gives us reason to give to others the grace that we have been given. It gives us the energy to show kindness even in the midst of the struggle. It gives us the heart to serve generously as Christ served us. The grace of God brings healing to us, and we have the opportunity to show the cure to a dying world.

May we be reminded of His grace in the spiritual deserts of life. May we never forget that our King has walked that same parched ground with perfection. May we allow his grace to heal our wounds and strengthen us to do His work.

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Good News: Retreat Extension!!

Hello Everyone!

I’m so excited about our great sign-up for the Charis Getaway!

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August seems so far away, but I know it will be here before we know it! I was over at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort today working on finishing some details for our event, and it made me all the more anxious for August 22-24th to come. The Resort Staff is working hard to have some really nice improvements done to the grounds before we arrive.

While we were talking with our Conference Service Manager, he said we could actually have one more week for registration if we wanted it. Of course, I didn’t turn him down!

So, I’m sending out one more encouragement letter to all of you to spread the word and make sure everyone you know has been invited. There’s still a little time left to register! This coming Sunday, the 23rd of June, will be the official deadline.

If you are new to Desert Springs and just hearing about this opportunity, I really want to encourage you to join us. This is one of the very best ways to get connected and make new friends! And if you aren’t able to register in person, it’s very easy to go to our website and register on-line.

Here are some photos of the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. Isn’t it great?

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I hope to see you all soon!

LOVE, Tami

PS. I also want to take this opportunity to invite ALL of you to our Charis Sleepover, this Friday and Saturday. All the details are on the website as well!

Grace for the Military Wife

411220_10200253960417676_476486539_oSometimes we speak of “the military life” as if it is something distant or disjointed– an affliction, a disease that we lament, something to grit our teeth and bear – or a holy accomplishment, a state of being to be revered as if those in it have risen in an invisible hierarchy.

Sometimes, we manage to make it both.

I am as guilty of this as anyone: Oh poor me. Look at how special I am. 

When asked to reflect on the challenges that face me, an Air Force wife, I think of all the ways I might try to cultivate that deadly blossom of burdened loftiness. I remember the ways how with false humility I might seek to one-up both my civilian and military sisters with boasts of suffering, thereby infusing a sneaky scent of competition into the conversation. I reflect on the times how with a sense of wounded superiority I have thought: they can’t ever know what it’s like for me.

The pride I welcome in to bolster my shaky sense of worth erects walls, when really what I need – what we all need is humility. We need the humility of our humanity to crumble the walls, to clasp hands across the rubble of shattered arrogance, and search the messiness for the common ground of the challenges through which we all walk.

If I were to ask, Who here has ever been lonely? Raise your hand– what an indulgence of arrogance to think that the only lifted palms are those of fellow military wives?

Who here has moved to a new place? Who has had to deal with new grocery stores and libraries, new schools and churches, parks, gyms, routes– that overwhelming tangle of newness? And then, deep down, that secret, persistent wondering– will you find new friends? (And how can new friends fill your soul, warm your heart, and create community the way your left-behind friends did?)

Raise your hand.

Who here has kissed your man goodbye and felt the household sinking down on your shoulders­, the management position which is supposed to be filled by two people and now suddenly you alone have to be enough, and you brace your back and hope nothing breaks–

Raise your hand.

Who here has been afraid?

The alert, cold-sweat fear of bump-in-the-night, and you’re alone in the house. The lonely, paralyzing fear of not-fitting-in with these new people, this new group. The deep-seated panicked fear that you’re going to get that telephone call, or you’re going to hear those words spoken to you, or the doctor is going to give you that helpless look. The haunting fear that maybe you really are going crazy– you can’t handle it any more– something is going to snap. The weary, numb fear that maybe it will always be like this, you’ll always be in this valley– you’ll always be afraid…

Raise your hand.

Who here has locked herself in her closet and sunk down and sobbed a prayer to the carpet– “Lord I can’t do this!”

Raise your hand.

How could any of us claim these things exclusively, as if only the military wife has felt the sting of these fears, hardships, and challenges (or only the pastor’s wife, or the abuse survivor, or the disillusioned intellectual, or the single mother, or anyone with whom we secretly feel we can’t identify because they are just too different from us?) Are we not all in a common sisterhood, women in a world racked by the curse? And we, we who claim the identity of Christ-follower, are we not made sisters by a faith that sweeps aside every division and supersedes every human label?

Don’t we taste the same graces, too?

The cold-cup-of-water grace of encouragement, help, or prayer from a friend when you are parched in an emotional or spiritual or physical desert.

The flashing, startling firework grace of finding a kindred spirit in someone unexpected.

The strengthening grace of worship surrounded by others walking life with us.

The scales-from-the-eyes grace of seeing renewed the beauty in the world around us.

The nurturing grace of intimacy with the man you love, and you carry forward that moment as sustenance, as life-giving memory for the times of famine.

The lightning-thunder-grace of hearing the still small voice of the Lord whisper to you– You are never alone– I will never leave you or forsake you.

This is the grace, sisters – that this life is both common and extraordinary. Wives to soldiers, sailors, and pilots share in the common and the extraordinary the same as wives to doctors, businessmen, farmers, and those who are not wives but are sisters, daughters, aunts, mothers, grandmothers, and friends. Every one of us tastes this common grace of being alive, and being alive is a risky, glorious business. We are daughters of the King, and we share His suffering and His joy. Grace to a military wife and grace to a civilian wife may look exactly the same– a hug, a meal, a card, a listening ear. Even when the challenges might look differently, there is no gap in experience which selfless love cannot bridge.

We want to think our stories are all unique– and so they are. But the Author spins the stories into a web, a delicate, lacy web of meetings and partings, and over that web the vibrations of grief and elation echo. So together we may all mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. Together we may endure the trials, and together we may partake of the grace.

LOVE, Meredith McCaskey

If you’d like to read more from Meredith, check out her blog “Listening to Grace” here.

Seaside Sleepover: What You Don’t Want to Miss

Is this year your first Sleepover? Still debating whether you want to make an appearance at a stranger’s house to hang out with more strangers? Wondering if you’ll get lost and not know where to go? Contemplating whether it’s even worth it or not?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then we want to put your mind at ease. There are lots of ways for women to plug in at Desert Springs, but if you want to meet new people FAST the Sleepover is one of the best ways!! It’s designed to be a “come and go” event; though many women have so much fun, they stay the whole time.

This year, we have a wonderful new location, and we are sure that you will enjoy the activities and fellowship. Why not give it a shot?

Still debating? Check out the location!!

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Now that you know where you’ll be if you come, we hope that you all can make it out for this year’s Sleepover. Don’t miss out on the gorgeous pool, tasty treats, fun activities, and great fellowship with your sisters in Christ at Desert Springs.

Not your first Sleepover? That’s awesome! We hope you’ll come back this year (and maybe even bring a friend or two). What a great time to re-connect with friends you’ve lost touch with or even develop some new relationships!! Who knows what the Lord has in store?

For more information, check out the website or see the previous post on the blog.

The Getaway Deadline is Coming!!

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Hello Ladies!!!

I just want to make sure ALL of you know tomorrow is our deadline for registration for our Charis Wild Getaway!

You can register online here or we will have members of the team at both campuses ready to assist you before and after all services!

It is my sincere prayer that God will provide for every single woman everything that is needed to be able to attend.

I look forward to seeing all of you in Scottsdale!

LOVE, Tami

Why I Went to Women’s Retreat (& You Should Too)

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My first experience with a Desert Springs Women’s Getaway was 5 years ago. I was new to the church and didn’t know anyone. In fact, I’d only really met one woman. I thought her name was “Jeanne”, and she thought my name was “Wendy”. It turns out that we were both wrong. Her name is Gina, and mine is Heidi (and we still laugh about this today). Despite our little name mixup, she was kind enough to invite me to the Getaway. I was so thirsty for Christian fellowship and growth that I decided to go, and I am so glad that I did. Even though I went with four complete strangers, I left with four very special friendships that I treasure even more today. All glory to God!!

And those four women weren’t the only blessings. My first retreat had wonderful speakers that really impacted my heart and refreshed me in Christ. I also met other women while there who really impacted me and showed me the love of Christ. Most importantly, I saw the heart of Jesus at that special retreat.

The blessing of it all is that I know the Lord put that all together. He prompted “Jeanne” to invite “Wendy” (me, a complete stranger) to that first Getaway. He allowed me to meet people and hear speakers that challenged my faith. Great is HIS faithfulness!!

Now, I want to be that person that welcomes YOU!! You may be debating whether you want to sign up for the WILD Getaway this year. You really should sign up! I have met so many wonderful women over the past year of Getaways that I’ve been able to attend. Some are shy, some are hurting, some are full of life in Christ, and some are lonely like I was my first time. I that the Charis Retreat Team is praying that the Lord will use this year’s WILD Getaway to bring you into closer fellowship with Himself and with other Sisters in Christ at Desert Springs.

LOVE, Heidi

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THERE IS STILL TIME TO SIGN UP FOR THIS YEAR’S RETREAT, BUT THE DEADLINE IS COMING SOON (JUNE 16TH). REGISTER ONLINE HERE.

Why Retreat Is So Important

Hello Ladies!

I hope you’re finding ways to stay cool as our temperatures rise to triple digits!

As our registration deadline due date is fast approaching (JUNE 16th), we don’t want you to miss the opportunity sign up for the WILD Charis Getaway! Only a few short months away, we will be hearing again from Debbie Alsdorf and enjoying the beautiful Scottsdale Plaza Resort.

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The Lord has given me a passion to see us as Charis Women truly grow in love for each other. One of the best ways to do this is to take the time to invest and connect with one another. I’ve even been reminded of this in my Bible reading:

1 John 4:12 says, “No one has ever seen God. But, if we love each other, God lives in us and His love is brought to full expression in us!”

We want our lives to demonstrate that Jesus is alive and His love is real.  One of the best ways to show Christ is by expressing Christ’s love to others.

Our Charis Getaway provides the women of Desert Springs one of the greatest opportunities to connect, bond and develop Godly relationships. This is the one chance each year that we as women can pull away from all of life’s demands and be freed up to grow relationship with the Lord, to get to know one another, to relax and have fun. As a song puts it, “Loving God, loving each other, that is all we need to know!”

I’m really looking forward to growing in our love for God and to one another on our Getaway August 22-24. My prayer is that God is prompting each of you to consider coming to this event and to invite those the Lord prompts to bring with you!

LOVE, Tami