by Rebecca Burtram

A few weeks ago, I felt like I didn’t have anything left to give. I was so tired. In fact, tired might be an understatement.

I had come through a month long season that was draining emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I was giving of myself in my work, my home, and my ministry. I was seeing great results, but I couldn’t keep it up.

After our Mother’s Day service, I lay down on the gym floor to rest after taking down equipment. As I waited for the trailer to finish being loaded, I let the tears stream from my eyes. The only explanation I could give when our youth pastor happened to walk by was, “I’m just REALLY tired.”

I won’t list all the reasons I was tired; I’m sure you can fill in the blanks from your own similar experiences. Some seasons just require more from us than others. You know it, and God knows it.

God opened doors for rest. First, the series we had been doing that required a good deal of vulnerability, energy, and time from me ended. Next, I asked for prayer from other planting wives. Finally, I was prompted to make small sustainable choices to help me find refreshment.

I started walking/jogging one mile a day with my middle child.

I stopped bringing my laptop home from work.

I started drinking more water.

I said yes to time with friends and family and no to anything that was not essential.

I had done the labor that was required for a season, but I also followed it with the rest that is prescribed for us.

God doesn’t suggest we rest, he commands it ( “Remember the sabbath and keep it holy…”). He modeled it when he rested after creation, and Jesus was known to step away from the crowds to rest. If you study scripture, you will see that rest is actually a pretty big deal.

I was challenged at a conference a few months back to really embrace the sabbath. The speaker pointed out that we demonstrate a lack of faith when we neglect the sabbath. We don’t sabbath because we think everything will fall apart if we aren’t working to hold it all together.

The speaker compared sabbath to tithing. We know God can cause our 90% to stretch as far or farther than 100% of our finances. We need to trust God to do the same with our time and energy.

God has been faithful as I have taken small moments to recharge. He has provided so that nothing has slipped through the cracks.

I’m not so tired now. I am rested and ready to face the next season as it comes.

If you are in a tiring season, I pray God will give you the energy you need and help you to see the little ways you can embrace rest.

Jonathan and Rebecca Burtram planted Redemption Church Charlottesville on Easter of 2016. Rebecca is the author of Our Broken Hallelujahs and blogs about grace and imperfection at rebeccaburtram.com. She is passionate about helping others know that they are not alone in their struggles or their triumphs. If you have a church planting story to share with other CMN women, contact her at rebecca@redemptioncc.com


Dream On


Dream On

Dream On

by Karen Blandino

Recently, I wrote down six dreams I would love to accomplish in this new season of my life. Perhaps you’ve done the exact same thing.

We write goals for flourishing churches, ministries to those in need, and the ability to fulfill God-given desires uniquely designed for us. We know, oh yes, we know they are from God. 

At first, we are so excited; we want to tell everybody about these dreams. We prepare for the dreams, journal and pray about the dreams, and we continuously check our heart’s motives to stay pure.

Yet…the dream stays in dream mode.

This is the challenging part of dreaming. If we don’t see much progress, we begin to wonder, “Did I get it all wrong?”

As time passes, discouragement may cause us to cry about our dreams, lose hope, or believe the enemy’s lies that the dream was self-motivated. We may even open up Facebook and see someone else living our dreams! 

Then the existential crisis emerges. Does anything I do or dream about really matter? Do I change cities? Do I influence those in power? Will anything I do matter to anyone a day, a week, or even a year from now?

These are difficult questions that come from deep within us. But what is the fuel that drives these questions? Fear? Aging? Sadness? Loneliness? Failure? Embarrassment?

I want my dreams to matter. I want to know that my dreams matter deep in my heart and my spirit, even when I don’t feel it or see it.

It takes spiritual strength to keep a dream alive. Isaiah 41:10 says:

“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

Spiritual strength keeps you from putting the dream on a shelf, like an artifact of a past hope. I have found spiritual strength during times of discouragement by applying these principles:

  1. Remember whom the dream is from. Man cannot quench a God dream. The greater the discouragement, the greater the dream!
  2. Rest in the timing of God. You serve a God who operates outside of time. The One who created time, will bring your dream to fruition in perfect time.
  3. Let the “dream mode time” build your faith. God won’t bring you this far with a dream and then abandon you.
  4. Remember the prayers God HAS answered as you prepare for your dream.
  5. Keep pushing through. When you feel you have reached the end of waiting for your dream, don’t give in.

Psalms 33:6 says:

“The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born.”

My sweet friend, today you may have dreams that are placed on a shelf. I want to remind you that your dreams were created by the star-breather!

I pray that the one who breathed the stars into existence will breathe life back into your dream today!

Jesus, I pray you hear our prayers today. Bring life back into our dreams. Bring new clarity, wisdom, and a steadfast hope in you. In Jesus’s name!

Karen Blandino is a pastor's wife, Texan, mother and counselor. She holds a Master's Degree in Counseling from TCU and a Bachelor of Arts in History from UTA. Karen and her husband, Stephen, planted 7 City Church in Fort Worth, Texas, where they serve as lead pastors. Karen is the co-author of Unexpected: What to do when God disrupts your plans. She blogs about healing, friendship and connection at karenblandino.com


A Little Pink Chair


A Little Pink Chair

A Little Pink Chair

by Priscilla Perumalla

This image – my daughter’s little pink chair next to my own – evokes so many emotions for me.

As I was reading my Bible, my daughter pulled up her little pink chair and insisted that I hold her little finger and run it under the portion of scripture that I was reading. I know it sounds cute.

In that moment, it wasn’t cute.

I found it distracting because I was trying to regain the strength that I need for our family’s task at hand: planting a church in NYC. So, I stood up, took this photo out of frustration, and had plans to text it to my husband. I wanted to show him what spending time “alone” with Jesus looked like for me.

I was about to send it when I heard the words… "training ground."

I have always said that we are not just raising children who can tell you Bible stories, but kids who are active in their faith in Jesus Christ. I say that, but I have failed to intentionally teach them. They have picked up habits from my husband and me because we try to be open with them to the best of our ability about our love for God.

However, I have allowed my kids to be mere spectators. Because of this, they could easily misinterpret what we do, and those misinterpretations could lead to a breeding ground of self-righteousness and judgmental ideology. It can also lead to a breeding ground of contempt and anger if you are heavily involved in ministry.

This photo convicts me. I can’t look at this chair as a point of distraction anymore. It is an opportunity to intentionally train up a strong, healthy daughter of God. I want her to be a vessel that shows God’s goodness to the next generation, not a woman hanging on by the skin of her teeth to the faith of her parents.

Now we spend time with Jesus together. We pray that the Holy Spirit will guide and comfort us together. We pray for our church and the people in it together. We turn up our music loud and lift our hands and voices and worship together.

She sees the tears that stream down my face as I pray for my family and asks questions as to why I am crying, and I get the chance to help her understand. She sees me kneel before my King in my kitchen and does the same, again, asking questions as to why.

It’s not enough that they know that we do, they need to know why. The whys are the arrows in their little pouch that they can pull from when something happens at school, when they lose a loved one, or they are angry or sad. The whys can be arrows of happiness and joy showing them how we give thanks to our God in the good and bad.

This is just my formula. This is what works for me and my schedule. I don’t know what yours is, but I know that with our children intentionality is the key. In whatever form that might look like, I pray that you find it.

I am praying for you that the Holy Spirit will lead and guide you on what that looks like and how to accomplish it. This is still very much a work in progress for me. Doing this sort of thing with small kids is no easy task, but it is a task that we are called to complete.

Proverbs 22:6 (AMP) –  Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Priscilla Perumalla and her husband, Stephen, live in New York City, where they planted The Grace Place Church in 2016. They reside in West Harlem with their two children, Boston and Aviah.


One Hundred Percent Chance of Rain


One Hundred Percent Chance of Rain

One Hundred Percent Chance of Rain
(And No Breakthrough in Sight)

by Catie Naranjo

“There is no backup plan. God is going to stop the rain.”

We had scheduled an evening service in the park. We imagined the huge crowds normally at the park on Sunday evenings. All the people would stop and listen to the worship and be compelled by the message. Maybe they would even stay for the food afterwards, and we would invite them to church. It was a perfect plan – but we all know how those normally go!

The week before the service, the forecast called for rain – and a lot of it! The normally sunny skies had a 100% chance of rain during our service time. 

All week we received calls and texts asking what we planned to do about it.

“Um… pray.”

We had already cancelled our rental for the school activity center. Plus, we were preaching on Gideon trusting God in the midst of insurmountable odds. It was just like God to make us practice what we preach!

As the rain poured all through Saturday and into Sunday, we prayed… and then we questioned… and then we had faith again.  It was all very exhausting! 

We packed up our car and drove up to the park just as the rain turned into more of a cold drizzle. We set-up and got ready for this warm, dry service we truly felt God had promised to us.

Then, about 20 minutes before the service, right at the last minute, the clouds parted and sunshine broke out - only on the park! Literally, people left their house where it was pouring rain to find it dry and warm at the park. 

The entire service was a perfect temperature and an hour after we left, it began to rain again.

This is not an original miracle. We know of times in the Bible and we have heard other churches share of moments when God has altered the weather for His purposes. Maybe God has done this for you as well.  

For our church, adults and kids shared how this service encouraged their faith and strengthened their prayer life. Even though the park wasn’t crowded with people, we made some great connections with those who were there. 

God’s plan was better than ours.

The greatest lesson I learned from that day is that breakthrough can happen in the most unexpected ways and at the most unexpected moments!

To be honest, I really expected God to turn the weather before Sunday morning.  We were praying for the rain to stop by midnight – but it didn’t. Then, we were praying for the rain to stop by breakfast, and then by lunch… but it only rained harder.

Do you ever feel like that in church planting?

“THIS is going to be the week He breaks out in our worship!” – but, it isn’t.

“THIS is going to be the outreach that opens doors into our community!” – but, it isn’t. 

“THIS is going to be the year the church will be financially stable!” – but it just gets harder.

Why did God have to wait until 20 minutes before service to part the clouds? Because He wanted to teach me something: He is faithful to His promises, and none of the circumstances around me will change that truth. 

Has God given you a promise for spiritual growth in your community? Nothing can make that less-true. People leaving the church, conflict in your leadership, or anything else. Your job – church planter – is to pray, encourage the team around you, and hold on!

Don’t forget, if you are waiting for a breakthrough in your life or church, you aren’t alone.  It may be at the last possible moment and it may not be the way we expect it to play out, but God loves a dramatic entrance!

After all, this is His show.

Catie Naranjo.jpg

Catie Naranjo and her husband, Jeremy, planted Summit Church in Anthem, AZ in 2015. They have two amazing kids, a grumpy cat, and are honored to be called by God to build His church. 


Donkey Kong and Diddy


Donkey Kong and Diddy

Donkey Kong and Diddy

by Ashley Randleman

I’m tired, but my heart is full. We are just about ready to finish up two weeks of 5-days-in-a-row-of-Homeschool, and I’ve been putting four kids to bed by myself the past couple of weeks as Jeremiah caught the flu last week and is still recovering. I’m amazed at myself and God’s goodness and grace.

There have been a slew of long days, late nights, and let-me-at-least-kiss-you-on-the-cheek-before-you-get-out-the-door type of mornings.

On Donkey Kong, when the character Diddy can’t quite make the jump or throw the barrel, he gets to do an amazing thing - he slaps Kong in! They trade positions in their quest of getting through the tunnel, forest, or cave, and Diddy happily follows instead of leads. That’s my Friday.

But, today, it wasn’t. I led.

Jeremiah came home briefly while we were doing school and snuggled the kids a bit and laid on the guest room bed. He had a wedding rehearsal to lead at 5pm with a meeting beforehand at 4pm. It was 3:42pm, and I sweetly asked him what time he needed to be at the church. He responded with an, “4… 4:15 at the latest.” My Kong was wanting to stay. (Insert dreamy eyes.)

He got up to go freshen up and change. As I was occupied with Nathan’s schoolwork, I didn't realize that Lydia, my near-3-year-old, also left the room to go freshen up and change. She came back with her tutu on and her Frozen slipper shoes in hand. She was wanting me to help her put them on. She left before I could assist her. The next thing I knew, Jeremiah was carrying her into the school room as she was sobbing with big crocodile tears running down her cheeks saying, “Daddy won’t let me go with him.” Heartbreaking.

So, I took her into my arms and consoled her. I told her that I miss Daddy too and that I was sorry she couldn’t go with him. I told her that we were going to pray for Daddy and that she was going to be ok. And so we did. We prayed for Daddy.

We prayed for us as well. We asked God to give him and us the strength and grace for yet another evening without him. Today I learned that when you can’t slap Kong in, there is extra strength for Diddy.

Pray for your husband. When you miss him, his smile, his laugh, his touch, pray. Pray for his day and not just your own. Pray that you would keep a good heart and attitude towards him through the long days and late nights and early mornings and everything in between.

When you see his fatigue - love harder - and make him a cup of tea. Encourage your kids to pray for their Daddy. To lift him up in their prayers. They miss him too. Don’t be surprised when their “miss” shows up in various forms: clinginess, fits, sensitivity, sneakiness, defiance, and simple disobedience.

Love hard, dear momma. Brush your teeth and touch up your hair and makeup before he gets home. Have a hot meal on the table. Bake him his favorite dinner or dessert...or both.

Your husband is amazing. Tell him. Show him how much you appreciate him. Be the loudest cheerleader in his arsenal. Remind yourself, that this is only a season. It hasn’t always been this “dense” nor will it always remain at this pace.

And so, dear Diddy, hang in there. You will have more long days and late nights. You will continue to meet each other coming and going. The next time, you may be the one crying the big crocodile tears and watching him back out of the driveway. But, if you keep praying and asking God to help, I promise, you will win.

Sometimes, the things you want the most and can’t have are the very things that God uses to refine you, perfect you and discipline you with. So, cheer up! Wipe those tears away. Remember to pray and know that help is on the way.


Ashley Randleman is a pastor’s wife of 10 years and a mother of four (Nathan-6, Josiah-4, Lydia-2, and Titus-1). She and her husband, Jeremiah, planted River Church in February 2014. Ashley has a heart for the mothers and women in her life and church. She pours into them on a weekly basis from the comfort of her living room carpet over strong coffee and meaningful conversation.


Living Prayer to Prayer


Living Prayer to Prayer

Living Prayer to Prayer

By Debbie Adamson

We are studying The Circle Maker on Wednesday nights. I have to say, chapters 10 and 11 were especially challenging for me – challenging in "wow, this is a challenge" (yikes!) and partially in "wow, I wanna take this challenge!"

I am pondering some of those concepts today and asking God for some of those truths to really sink in to change my heart-perspective on prayer and holy complications. I want to develop a deep, total dependence on God that is present in my life all the time, regardless of circumstance.

Today as I was in prayer working on being thankful for my past and present journey (which hasn't always been a fun one deserving giving thanks for, present days of late included, lol), I was reminded of a particularly hard time when my husband and I were called out of a ministry situation. This left us with no main income, and we were both doing everything we could to make ends meet.

My husband had several jobs, and I was able to bump up my hours. However, the stress of it was terrible. We sold stuff and emptied all of the bank accounts we had – including an Edward Jones wedding fund for our girl, Bethani. That account had enough money in it for a really nice future wedding, y'all! You know how it goes when you get financially desperate.

Of course God provided even in the midst of our faith-o-meter being as low as our bank accounts. With no tangible resources, we had to rely on God. We had no other options in this realm. I didn't enjoy that time at all, and quite frankly, I have never wanted to live like that again.

Until now.

In light of what I am learning these days, I am working to be at a place where I want to rely on God in all things. No matter what.

Did I just declare this publicly? Yep, I think I did.

As I was journaling about that difficult financial period our lives, I wrote about how we were living paycheck to paycheck. I started thinking about how many of us say, “living paycheck to paycheck.”

We need to live, instead, prayer to prayer.

Saying living paycheck to paycheck puts the emphasis on the money, on the provision. Saying living prayer to prayer puts the emphasis on God, the provider and our providence. It turns our eyes, in prayer to prayer, to the One who controls the provision anyway (and everything else in our lives, for that matter).

I am not talking about living prayer to prayer in a desperate way that parallels the attitude of the paycheck to paycheck method – offering prayer in hopelessness, stress, begging, worrying, etc. – but in a true, reverent, expectant, trusting, faith-strong, relational way.

The latter gives us peace because we are looking to God while implementing his promises that are true as the foundation for our finances and life. That is solid ground for sure.

Happy prayer-to-prayering today everyone!

Debbie Adamson is church planting wife and administrator at Abundant Life Church in Pengilly, MN.