• Easter Is a Reminder

    By Staci Focht

    Do you ever wonder who invented the first calendar? I mean, I know who made the first day and all, but who decided we would repeat 365 days every 12 months? Please don’t make fun of me for not knowing this lil tidbit of trivia and please don’t send me wiki facts and emails about who actually did. My question leads to another question. Who invented holidays? Who said we should repeat certain events or hold certain days more sacred than others? Who’s idea was it to give my crazy family more opportunities to interact with each other? I know who. We know who. It was the one who designed all of this. The creator is The Creator. Ok, so why? What is the purpose behind this repetition and redundancy? Take Easter for example. It marks the anniversary of Jesus’ …

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  • The Grace of Christ

    By Staci Focht

    Palm Sunday always creates a knot in my stomach.  As a small child, I loved it.  I had no real perspective then on the true significance of the day, or what was to come in the next week; what mattered to me was that I got to walk down our little church aisle waiving a big palm branch that my choir instructor would inevitably remove from my tiny hands for playing with it too much during service. As an adult, though, it makes me cringe.  For me, it always serves as a reminder of how easily I turn my back on God.  I think about Jesus riding into Jerusalem, the city exploding with excitement and celebration…(I mean, they don’t call it the triumphal entry for nothing, right?).  But just days later, those same people who waved their palm branches and …

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  • Palm Sunday

    By Staci Focht

    If I were to alphabetize all the quirky things about me and my family, three short letters down you would find under the letter “C” – Christmas movies.  We love to watch them.  All. Year. Long.  Don’t bother trying to shame us or talk us out of it because we aren’t even sorry.  My kids have one DVD that has a variety of different Disney Christmas cartoons and on there is my very favorite one.  It tells the story of a small donkey (creatively named Small One) who is older and can no longer pull his weight, so the family insists he must be sold.  I could go into way more details here but I won’t because just thinking about this stinkin cartoon leaves me in a puddle!  At the end of the story though, after many failed attempts to …

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  • When Everything’s Not Mapped Out

    By Staci Focht

    A few weeks ago, after spending the night at a friend’s house near Philly, I decided to take my time coming home.  I had nowhere to be and so I meandered through Wayne and Valley Forge as I journeyed back to Reading, I fought the urge to let my Maps app direct me.  For some reason that day, I had the desire to get a little lost and in the process, slow down and spend time enjoying the beauty of an unfamiliar area. The idea of getting lost is one that I’m not afraid to say that I’m uncomfortable with.  Whether it be literally or in a more metaphorical sense, I don’t enjoy losing my way.  Who does?  Throughout my whole life, I’ve always had a plan, a road map, a clear trajectory to travel along.  I’ve had countless conversations …

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  • Matthew 14

    By Staci Focht

    But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” -NIV Anyone who has served the Lord for more than a day in their life can probably relate to what Peter is crying out for in Matthew 14:28. As soon as you get “onboard” with Jesus we can’t help but be overwhelmed with everything we don’t really understand. We just know that we’ve made a decision not to drown in the world but rather sail on that Good Ol’ Gospel Ship to eternal heaven. But, what happens when you realize one day the Lord is calling you off of that boat. During Easter we are reminded that without the resurrection there is no Christianity. Jesus came, shared the truth of life …

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  • When God’s Plan Doesn’t Make Sense

    By Staci Focht

    As Christians, we tend to make the false assumption that the indication of growth in our Christian walk rests in our attempts to broaden our understanding of God and His ways. Rather, it is found in the slow realization that God’s perspective is so completely contrary to our human understanding in the first place. The year is 1912. William Borden, a 25-year-old graduate of Yale and Princeton Theological Seminary, waits to board a ship that will take him to China. There, while living in abject poverty, he will minister to a large group of immigrant Muslims, hoping to bring them the same everlasting joy and peace that he himself experiences on a daily basis. At the back of his mind, the memory of his father demanding him to stay and take on his multimillion-dollar silver mining business still plays. “Think …

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  • Trusting God

    By Staci Focht

    I was seated in Barnes and Noble across from Randy Simmons and Merlin Weaver, two men working to change the face of the fight against homelessness. Simmons, the founder and head of We Agape You, was in the midst of telling me his story. His pastor had challenged him with the question:  do you trust God or fear man?  It served as a barometer for him ever since. When I drove home, it stayed with me. As God often does, He speaks to us through everyday conversations. Did I trust or did I fear? Six months before that conversation, I had started writing a book about the effort to revitalize the city of Reading and combat the poverty that had pushed it to the poorest city in the United States. I’d interviewed community leaders, charity organizations, shelters, and government officials. I’d …

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  • The Rhythm of Rest

    By Staci Focht

    The shallow breathing I was experiencing should have been a red flag. You know there’s a problem when you must remind yourself to breathe. Breathing should be as mindless as our hearts beating. I wanted to embrace the squeals and outbursts of laughter, yet, I found myself suffocating because striving and doing everything in my power left me breathless. My inner being could not keep up with my outer world realities. My soul was restless. I was so tired and worn out, overwhelmed by the pressures of life. My insides wanted to breathe and enjoy the journey instead of focusing on the next thing to do. And then the Holy Spirit filled my lungs with fresh air when He spoke to my heart saying, “Stop striving and take a rest.” It had been so long since I had been rested …

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  • Ash Wednesday

    By Staci Focht

    I grew up in a fairly liturgical church.  Somewhere in the midst of elementary school, I learned that the forty days leading up to Easter, the Lenten season, meant a time of giving something up.  I never really considered the why behind making a small sacrifice during that time, and while I observed the practice, it really signified nothing more than that I couldn’t eat ice cream (or whatever food item I had inevitably chosen) for the forty days. When my family started attending GT, I remember feeling some confusion over the lack of recognition of this season in the church calendar, but ultimately, I didn’t feel a huge sense of loss over it.  Lent, after all, was just forty days to me.  While I was saved at a young age, the liturgical church calendar didn’t hold a big significance …

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