• Propel Women

    By Salina Iavarone

    I can remember going to my first women’s Bible study like it was yesterday.  I walked into the room and was warmly greeted by another woman who looked to be about my age and yet I felt like there were some glaring differences between us.  In my mind, she had it all.  She was lovely.  Her hair, her makeup, her clothing, her smile.  When she spoke, she seemed to know everything there was to know about God and the bible. That first night I was pretty sure her family was perfect, her house was perfect, she never had a bad hair day, certainly never yelled at her kids, spent at least two hours in prayer each morning and… I wanted nothing more than to just be her.  I wanted to have it all too. But here’s what I quickly came …

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  • Be Real

    By Salina Iavarone

    I have a collection of pottery mugs.  I LOVE my pottery mugs.  They’re weighty, beautiful, colorful, all completely different from the other, and I could tell you exactly where I found each one of them.  I’ll never forget the time I was in a pottery store in the Outer Banks looking for another mug of beauty to add to my collection.  I searched and searched, but none of the mugs there were calling to me.  In fact, they were all kind of ugly, and the best one I could find was not one that would “fit in” to my collection at all.  Nevertheless, I picked up this “ugly mug” and started to look at it a little more closely. It was uneven. Its color was not one I would have picked. It was too small for the amount of coffee I …

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  • Join In

    By Salina Iavarone

    We had been meeting together for a couple months.  This was a new group for us and while we liked everyone there, we certainly didn’t feel like we really knew them yet.  We would hang out, snack, make small talk, all the usual things we tend to throw under the word “fellowship”. Incidentally, who outside of church ever uses the word “fellowship”??  Can’t we come up with something better? Anything??  The dictionary suggests “informal chumminess” as an acceptable alternative…  Umm, JUST NO. Then one week we began to talk about how we started coming to church and when we got saved.  It was actually relatively light conversation as people started to share about the events that led them to where they were now in their walk with God.  Again, it was great, and we all were enjoying it, but it …

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  • Show Up

    By Salina Iavarone

    I walked to the door and shot up a silent prayer that this was the right house.  Every fiber of my being wanted to get back in the car and drive away. Drive back to the safety of home.  Drive to Chick Fil A for a milkshake.  Drive anywhere.  Anything had to be better than the uncertainty that loomed on the other side of that door.  Would they be friendly? Would I have anything in common with these people?  Would I feel stupid?  What if it actually was stupid? Would they like me?  Would I like them??  Before my thoughts were able to spiral too far out of control, the door opened and I was greeted with a friendly smile and the rest is history.  I didn’t know it then, but that night would change my life. The hardest part …

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  • From Awful to Overawed

    By Salina Iavarone

    Like many Berks Countians, we make it a point to take our kids to Christmas Village every year.  Mind you, we’re smart about it.  We go on a Monday or Tuesday early in the evening when there’s no line because AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME TO SIT ON 183 FOR TWO HOURS.  For some reason, the temperature is always a little colder there, the hot chocolate is a little better, and there’s just something about the place that brings merriment to the hearts of all who partake of it.  I ADORE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS PLACE. But we all know what the best part is.  Let’s say it together… The best part is when you come over the hill and first see all the lights from the road. It’s amazing.  It’s inspiring.  It’s awe-full. In fact, as a child, that was the …

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  • A Song of Deliverance

    By Salina Iavarone

    Sometimes I read things in the Bible and I just don’t get it.  I hope I’m not the only one here.  And I know the Psalms were written as man’s expression to God about what he’s feeling, what he’s experiencing, voicing his praise and complaints to God.  And I know that we’re supposed to be able to relate to the Psalms because of that.  But can I be honest?  Sometimes I just can’t relate to what I’m reading.  “I will sing your praises before the gods…” Whaaaa?   Now the flip side of that is that I LOVE a challenge, and when I read something in God’s word that I don’t get, my go-to response is: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.  The best part about that challenge is that I know that if I ask God to help me understand, to open my eyes …

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  • Rise Up and Listen

    By Salina Iavarone

    I sat in a purple chair for a good five years.  Fun fact- back in the day, the chairs in the worship center were purple, not gray, there was only one parking lot, and certain members of the staff had more hair.  I won’t mention any names, but I don’t think I have to 😉  P.S. My husband had more hair then too!  Ha!  I would come in week after week, or maybe not even that often, and sneak out at the end wanting to leave unnoticed.  Unnoticed… the irony is not lost on me.  God was doing something in my heart for sure.  I could barely listen to a message without erupting in tears at some point, and making me highly suspicious that the pastor was either straight up stalking me without my noticing or illegally reading my mail.  …

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  • Rise Up and Unite

    By Salina Iavarone

    What a crazy time it’s been in the world these last couple months. Ok, that may be grossly understated.  I find myself waking up each morning bracing myself for whatever tragedy awaits us today.  Do you do that too?  Do you open your phone or turn on the tv in the morning with the thought, I wonder what’s going to happen today?  I don’t think our parents grew up that way… honestly, I really don’t even remember ever feeling that way prior to September 11th, 2001.  Something seemed to shift in our world after that…or maybe something just shifted in me?  But here we are, day after day.  Devastating hurricanes.  Destructive earthquakes.  Mass shootings. Racism running rampant. A country divided unlike ever before.  It seems like every day it’s something new and we are left hurting as a world, as …

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  • Ask Anything

    By Salina Iavarone

    My husband loves to sing.  LOVES to sing.  In the shower, on the lawn mower, in his car at the top of his lungs to a catchy tune in a language he doesn’t speak with the windows down for all to hear, it doesn’t matter.  This does not however, in any way imply that he actually can sing.  Love for something and the ability to do it well are two very different things.   Incidentally he also loves golf.  Nuff said.  With singing he falls somewhere in the “making a joyful noise” category.  And while we’re here, I’d like the record to show that this is written with his FULL PERMISSION and the promise that this will not end with us in couple’s therapy. The first year we both got saved and started attending church regularly, I can remember him “singing” …

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  • For Good

    By Salina Iavarone

    I can still remember the day the pain started.  I was folding laundry that October morning in 2012, and I quickly noticed that my shoulder hurt.  Before you start feeling too badly for me, please know it was not exactly going to break my heart to set the laundry aside.  But a couple of weeks and a couple of doctors later I was in blinding, excruciating pain from my shoulder to my fingertips. It was an all-consuming pain. Twenty-four hours a day.  No relief. And it was consuming me. It was a couple of months later that I walked into a specialist’s office in Philadelphia carrying the shredded remains of my career in my hands, along with a boatload of unrelenting pain, and many failed attempts at diagnosis and treatment, praying that they could fix me.  I wanted to sit …

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