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FALL 2015
Johnese Burtram, editor

Editing the Element Connection brings so much joy to me. The press to complete the e-zine can create stress, blurred vision, and cramped shoulders from laboring in front of a computer screen. However, your stories make it worthwhile. The Fall 2015 theme, "We're gonna' make it," stirred up some remarkable stories. We had such a strong response that we will produce two editions of Fall 2015 Element Connections. Thank you to those of you who shared your stories. You are brave, resilient, godly ladies. Your shared stories give hope and encouragement to your ministry sisters. I hope this edition of Connections blesses you and strengthens your faith as you consider God's faithfulness as reflected in your sisters' stories.
A special shout out to Sandy McElfresh who helped with research for this edition.
The Search for Glory
Guest Contributor Brittany Rimmer
Lamentations On this day a year ago, my life radically changed.

I skipped my 3 o'clock class to remain in a place of communion with the Lord. I was reading Exodus 33 and 34. Moses, on Mount Sinai boldly asks the Lord, "Please show me Your glory." My heart stirred with desire and cried, "God I want to see your glory too!" When Moses returned from his meeting with the Lord, he shared his revelations with the people. They could tell he had been with the Lord because light radiated off of his face. The Lord revealed in those moments that my purpose is to reflect His light to others like Moses did, simply by being continually in the Presence of the Most High.

My hunger for the things of the Lord was overwhelming, and I prayed boldly that the Lord show me His glory. Little did I know what the remainder of that day held.

That night, I heard the devastating news that my friend Paul had died.  Keep reading...

Brittany Rimmer
Brittany is a senior at Fairmont State University studying English Education. She is the daughter of Wayne PMN CE Director and Debbie, PPC admin. She has been a Young Life leader for four years, and has had the wonderful privilege of leading girls to the feet of Jesus. She wants to be a full-time missionary. I am striving to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I love leading others to a place of maturity and understanding of who the Lord is. 

God Helps Us to Help Others
Cindy Hamilton

In the most difficult trial of my Christian life, it was hard for me to believe that God Is good. Finally, in mid-October of 2013, after trying to conceive a child for almost ten years, we received the news. I was pregnant. Our prayers had been answered! If it was a boy, we already had a name for our little one, Joshua Michael Hamilton.  Keep reading...
Cindy Hamilton Cindy Hamilton is a licensed minister with Assemblies of God. She serves as a Children's Ministry leader at Clover Hill Assembly of God in Midlothian, VA. She has been involved in prison ministry outreach since 2000 and shares Bible studies and sermons with inmates at Deep Meadow Correctional Center in Powhatan, VA and at Sussex II State Prison in Waverly, VA. In addition to her volunteer ministry activities, she has worked full time as an Executive Legal Secretary for more than 30 years. Cindy and her husband, Richard - also a licensed AG minister - live in Henrico, VA with their two Yorkshire Terriers. You can contact Cindy a
In the Middle of the Ashes
Amberly Reynolds

I've done messy.  Ministry is messy.  Life is messy.
Ministry is best done out of brokenness. Folks don't relate to perfect and tidy. Their lives aren't picture perfect all the time. Neither is mine.

Keep reading...

Three kids; one husband; and, don't forget the dog. Amberly Reynolds enjoys living life with all of them, as she serves with her husband at Bethel Church in Hampton, Virginia. At church, she directs Beautiful Women, a ministry to women in and outside the church. At home, she homeschools two of the kids-the other one is at Regent University. At Starbucks, she enjoys a chai, while reading and talking to her husband. Along the way, the dog gets walked, dinner gets cooked, and she writes her blog at  
He Does Direct Our Path
Linda S. Martin
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and He will make
direct your path.
  Proverbs 3:5-6  
Linda Martin
This is a life verse for our family, and it has been tested many times in the past 43 years, but never like it has been in the last three. Yet, God is faithful, and He does direct our path. I could list scripture after scripture and talk about each one, but instead, I will tell you part of our story.  Keep reading... 
As a pastor's wife for 43 years, Linda S. Martin has focused most of her ministry on couples and women. She has had many opportunities as a writer, teacher, and retreat speaker. Linda and Bill have served at West End Assemble of God, Richmond, VA since 1986. They have three grown children and six wonderful grandchildren
This is Not the End...You Can Start Again
Rebecca Burtram
Plantar fasciitis has taken a good deal of joy out of my runs since about February. The past few months have made me question if it might be time to turn my running shoes in for some other type of exercise equipment.  Keep reading...

Rebecca Burtram 
Rebecca Burtram and her husband, Jonathan, are church planting pastors at Redemption Church in Charlottesville, VA (launching Feb. 2016) where they live with their three children, Kaleb, Ella, and Annalyn. They have a heart to see people connect to God's redeeming power through community, authenticity, generosity, and grace. Rebecca ministers in small groups, women's events, and for full congregations. She has BA from Evangel University and a MA from the State University of New York at Cortland. Presently, she teaches Spanish at Albemarle High School. She is currently pursuing her Assemblies of God license to preach and her dream of writing and speaking. Currently, she blogs at and writes a weekly post for  
We're Gonna' Make It
Vickie and Gary Tingwald Vickie Tingwald

"We're gonna' make it. We may not look like much, but we're gonna' make it." What a great quote from Charles Greenaway.

Gary and I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Charles Greenaway many years ago at a mission's conference held at our local church in Iowa. He had a true missionary heart. We can relate to this saying on so many levels. 
Keep reading...

Vickie Tingwald and her husband Gary have pastored churches in Iowa, Missouri, the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Gaithersburg, MD. They now serve as US Missionaries in prisons and jails with the Assemblies of God. Gary was the senior chaplain to 23 facilities in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia before his diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gerhig's Disease) which took his ability to speak. Gary and Vickie stay involved by keeping connected to missions in their local church. Their family has a project this year to build a church in Haiti in honor of Gary and Vickie's mission work there. (Contact Melissa Tingwald- Alvarez at to contribute to this project.) They also are willing to share anywhere God provides a way. 
Y O U R   H U S B A N D 
To Have and to Hold, In Hardship and Unhappiness
Having faith in marriage, for the long haul
Michelle Van Loon

Nearly 35 years into my marriage to Bill, our shared commitment to the Lord has given us a life together that has been formed by Scripture. But our story at this point is more about the existential ache found in the book of Ecclesiastes than the youthful passion in the Song of Solomon. 
Keep reading...
A Tarnished Silver Anniversary
What is destroying marriage in the West - and what has sustained my husband and me through several potentially marriage-destroying events.
Y O U R   C H I L D R E N 
A Faith That Sticks 
Kara Powell
Faith that Sticks
Yes, we still look to the future - helping our kids plan for their education and teaching them the life skills every adult needs. But these are often the only areas where we have any long-term goals. For many families, faith is more of an afterthought.  Keep reading...
How to Lead Your Kids Through Life's Tough Topics
10 principles of communicating as parents
Questions Brian Dollar
Parents have asked me to talk to their kids about every conceivable question about God, death, tragedy, sex, self- image, choices, divorce, friendships, money, bullying, forgiveness. The list goes on.
Most parents have a dozen excuses why they don't want to talk to their kids about difficult topics. Keep reading... 
When We Suffer: A Biblical Perspective on Chronic Pain and Illness
Mary J. Yerkes
If God loves us, why do we suffer? Christian or not, it's a question that comes up repeatedly during times of grief and tragedy. In times of distress, we want to know that our suffering matters to God and that He cares about our pain....  
 Keep reading... 

Focus on the Family: Living with Chronic Pain and Illness Series
If the House Was on Fire
House on FireHolly Guerrero

A friend of mine recently experienced great tragedy when her home caught fire. In a matter of moments everything she owned was gone. As I helped her sift through the remnants of her earthly possessions, I couldn't help but think what I'd do if I found myself in the same position....  Keep reading... 
When Times Get Tough...Remember
Mike Hudson photography
Photo Credit_ Mike Hudson Photography
Sharon Jaynes

It is difficult to envision God's presence surrounding the tragedies in our lives. Somehow the two don't seem to be able to co-exist in our minds. It is almost incomprehensible to picture angles standing by while mere humans taunted and tortured the Son of God. What do we do when life doesn't make sense? We remember. Mary remembered.  Keep reading... 
The Deep Place Where Nobody Goes
by Jill Briscoe

Review by Joan Rhoden 
This probing little book is written from the steps of Jill Briscoe's soul.  She and her husband, Stuart, have world-wide ministry, and yet she opens her heart to ordinary readers like you and me.
Each devotional is undated, and can be read at random.  It just so happened, as I read it from cover to cover that it hit each of my day's challenge head on.  She even shares about (of all things) fear of flying - Ouch!
One particular story that got my attention was about praying for her children and not getting fast enough answers from God.   "Do you have to see a fish jump to believe...?"  God clearly answered.  I guess you'll just have to read about it on p.55.
Another entry titled "Once Round Jericho" gave me new strategy for defeating worry.  (I'm still working on that one).  Go to p.142.
I will read this little book over and over when I get weary of living in the "shallow place where everyone goes".  I hope you enjoy reading it too!
Spiritual Formation
A Field Guide for Suffering Well
Finding beauty and blessings in our spiritual deserts.
Dorothy Greco
Suffering Well
Many of us don't know what to do when we find ourselves in the spiritual desert....
And if our losses pile up or our suffering becomes unbearable, we either blame God or doubt his existence. 
Keep reading...

Fear of Missing Out Isn't Just a Season
FOMO is real, and it takes on a new dimension at midlife.
Michelle van Loon
Missing Out We humans have always been prone to wonder: What if I'm left behind? What if I'm forgotten? What if I blew my only chance at success? Why is everyone else having such a great life?  Keep reading...
Did I Fail? Overcoming Personal Failure
Lisa Evans
Did I Fail
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.
(Proverbs 16:3).

We all want to have success in our life, and we each want others to view what we do as successful. It's in our DNA to strive for excellence and avoid being viewed as a failure.
   Keep reading... 
I Will Praise You In This Storm
Casting Crowns
Windy Palms  
I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
Think About It
Endurance is like an unshakeable rock in the winds and waves of life.  However the tempest batters him, the patient man remains steadfast and does not turn back; and when he finds relief and joy, he is not carried away by self-glory:  he is always the same, whether things are hard or easy, and for this reason, he is proof against the snares of the enemy.
~Peter of Damaskos
Everything is okay in the end, if it's not ok, then it's not the end.
~ Unknown
Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing. 
~ Helen Keller

If you're going through hell, keep going.
~Winston Churchill

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is that little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.
~Mary Anne Radmacher
Our troubles have always brought us blessings, and they always will. They are the dark chariots of bright grace.... Our God may drench us with grief, but He will refresh us with mercy. Our Lord's love-letters often come to us in black-edged envelopes.

~C.S. Spurgeon 

Streams in the Desert 

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
... in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8: 18, 28, 37 - 39 (NIV)
Church Signs
Broken Sign Searching for a new look? Have your faith lifted here!

Have trouble sleeping? We have sermons - come hear one!

If you don't like the way you were born, try being born again.
Hymns - The Way We Might Sing Them, If We Were Honest

I Surrender, Some


There Shall Be Sprinkles of Blessings


Fill My Spoon, Lord


Oh, How I Like Jesus


He's Quite a Bit to Me


I Love to Talk About Telling the Story


Take My Life and Let Me Be


It Is My Secret What God Can Do


There Is Scattered Cloudiness in My Soul Today


Where He Leads Me, I Will Consider Following


Just As I Pretend to Be


When the Saints Go Sneaking In


Sit Up, Sit Up for Jesus


Big or Small?

Can you tell me why a $10 bill looks so small at the grocery store but so big at church?
The Pastor's Title
A local Pastor joined a community Service Club, and the members thought they would have a little fun with him. Under his name badge they printed, "Hog Caller" as his occupation. Everyone made a big fanfare as the badge was presented.

The Pastor responded by saying, " I usually am called the "Shepherd of the sheep"... but I guess you know your people better than I do."

Looking Forward
One aspect of the Advent story that always grabs my attention is the promise of Immanuel - God with us. How thankful I am that God, in Jesus, put skin on. Again this year our Christmas theme is Immanuel, with a little different take. In John 20:21 Jesus says "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." Sent into the world by Jesus, we become Jesus with skin on. We become His hands and feet and voice in this world. Tell us about a time when you recognized you were Jesus with skin on. We want to hear your story about a time of need in your life when someone became His hands and feet and voice to you. Tell us about your Immanuel experience.
Please submit your 300-500 word articles by December 7, 2015.  We are also always looking for humor, poetry, book reviews, etc.  
Also looking for suggestions of supporting articles and other materials you find online to enrich our e-zine. Please forward your suggestions.
Johnese Burtram You are loved,

Shine the light; defeat the dark
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