• 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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  • Breaking Free From Fear

    By Salina Iavarone

    I almost quit my job this week.  I was walking to the office entrance, getting ready to swipe my key fob at the door and there it was.  Staring at me.  With its eight thousand eyes.  Ok…maybe it wasn’t exactly eight thousand…maybe it was just eight. Whatever.  Right below the key fob pad was a spider in all its hairy legged glory.  Like the ugly old troll who lives under the bridge (bonus points if you sang that in your head), there would be no avoiding it if I wanted to get through that door. My first thought- Well, it’s been nice working here. In no way was I willing to get my hand in close enough proximity to that creature to swipe the fob and go through the door.  So, I stood there for a moment weighing the idea …

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  • Navigating the Discipleship Pathway

    By Salina Iavarone

    If you’ve attended GT for more than a week, I’m sure you’ve heard the buzzwords “Discipleship Pathway” and I’m sure at some point you’ve thought, What the heck is that? Well good news! I’m going to debunk the mystery for you today! The Discipleship Pathway came out of a felt need for clear steps to connection and spiritual growth at GT. Church can be a very lonely place if you don’t know anyone, and EVERYONE wants to know and be known. And I think we can all agree that it would be super awkward to raise your hand in the middle of Sunday morning service and say, “Pastor, I don’t get it?!”  when you come across a passage of scripture you don’t understand. We want you to know and to grow and it was with this in mind that the Pathway was carefully …

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  • When God Seems Asleep at the Wheel

    By Salina Iavarone

    My husband has what he calls “a vast array of useless knowledge”.  Let the record show that he calls it that, not me.  I swear he knows a little bit about almost everything, and the rest he knows ALL about. It’s both amazing and annoying at the same time.  Which is why if we ever play Trivial Pursuit (which we love to play) we must be on the same team or the competition and trash talking can get fierce. All in good fun of course. Mostly. We are also firm believers that if you’re not willing to risk family relationships for a good board game then you’re playing it wrong.  The Spongebob Life game nearly ended us once…I kid.  Kinda. But inevitably when we’re playing something like Trivial Pursuit where he has to draw on some of that vast array …

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  • Why Every Marriage Needs a Little Coaching

    By Salina Iavarone

    My husband Frank and I started dating when we were 18. We have literally been together now for more than half our lives and that means a few things: We have a lot of really embarrassing pictures of each other from our college years. And, That’s a whole lot of nights of me listening to him snore. I would NEVER snore. We were Christians from the day we said “I do” which I believe has helped our marriage tremendously, but it doesn’t mean we’re perfect. And it certainly doesn’t mean our marriage is perfect. After so many years together, with kids, and jobs and mortgages, it’s easy to put the marriage on auto pilot and go on with life. It’s the whole attitude of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But just like a car needs maintenance so do …

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