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Season of Romance

February 15, 2017

Hey Ladies! Check out this post by Asia Major-Waithe who was willing to share her story about God drawing her into Him in a deeper way as her Bridegroom and Husband. Valentine’s Day might be over, but our relationship with God can continually grow deep, even as single ladies!

By: Asia Major-Waithe

It can definitely be difficult to be single these days… sometimes it feels like you are the only one out of your friends, especially for me as most of my friends are married now. There are times where I really struggle with my singleness, and the enemy makes me question if there is something wrong with me.

The Truth is that Jesus is my husband and the lover of my soul. And to the Church, He is our bridegroom. Sometimes that revelation doesn’t necessarily bring the comfort needed- but it is true, and as believers we need to stake our lives on what is true rather than what we feel, think, or what Satan tries to throw at us.

I have been in a season where I’ve heard God say multiple times that He is the only thing that will truly satisfy my heart (Psalm 63:5, John 4:13). When you look up the definition of satisfy it literally means to fulfill a desire or need. It is ingrained in our DNA to be with God… It’s a deep soul thirst, and He truly is the one that can make things complete. I see shadows of this when I listen to moving music, see beautiful art, or stand in the midst of the majesty of creation. These aspects of life stir deep within me, but only point to the One that created it.

The Creator designed us to be with Him so intimately, that when we step into that place of intimacy…nothing else can touch it. Our world puts such a high value on the physical world of what is seen and felt like art, music, or nature- but as believers we need to live in what is unseen and known pointing back to Him. As you come to know this Holy Being that came and died for you, please consider the amazing romance He offers to you.

And He is the most Romantic… He left everything He had in Heaven, majesty and all. He came to a world that scorned and mocked Him. What bigger way is there to show His love? The world still turned its back and spit in His face- more broken than it had ever been… and yet the choice of Jesus was to Come, Teach, Serve, Love and Die all because He knew He needed to fulfill His greater purpose: to reconcile the ones He loved most to the Father, so that they would not live in forever brokenness and despair, but in Glory and Restoration.

That, my friend, is something beautiful and worth fighting for!

This last season I repented for being a “fickle wife.” Jesus is so tender and sweet, as He brings the hard things up not to hurt us but to heal us (Hosea 6:1). And in this season, He showed me my weakness, my sin, and my shame. He showed me when things got hard I would run away rather than toward Him. And he pointed me to a book of the Bible where this idea of running from my Bridegroom is so clearly illustrated.

The book of Hosea has spoken to me in many seasons of life, this last one I had the realization that I am Gomer, a prostitute taken in by her husband but left him to go back to her lovers, but her husband found her in the desert and wooed her back to himself there.

After reading Hosea, I realized that I am the one that gives herself to other lovers, other masters, other people. And He so lovingly and graciously draws us back to Himself by sometimes putting us in positions that are hard. He fences us in. He brings us into the wilderness where all we have is Him. (Hosea 2: 14) It’s in the lonely, tough times when you have to choose what you believe.

I thought my other ‘lovers’ (exercise and relationships) would save me, but the truth is those things only provided momentary comfort and were ultimately distractions from the greatest romance of all.

Ladies, my prayer for you is to seek the One whose hand stretched beyond the cross and into your life to be with you. Solely because He loves you. I pray that you come to know this Lover of your soul, this Bridegroom, this Husband of yours in a more real way than you ever could before. I pray that His pursuit makes your heart beat faster. And that His delight in you makes you overwhelmingly delight in Him. I hope you turn to Jesus when you are in the desert because He will sustain and romance you in a way that no man ever can.

Photo Cred: Rachel Crowe

 

Asia Major-Waithe grew up in Elmont, NY. She’s been an athlete her whole life and now trains other athletes. She loves Jesus and came to know him during her college years in 2010.

 

Trusting Completely

February 3, 2017

By: Danielle Kingsley

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. May it be to me as you have said.” – Luke 1:34-39 (NIV)

Mary must have been stunned by such a breath-taking appearance that delivered such an unbelievable message to someone so unsuspecting. Take a moment and think about a time that literally took your breath away, and multiply that by a thousand! I am not sure my response would have been that of Mary’s. Her trust in God was so evident in her words. I know, if I was in Mary’s place I would have stumbled over every single sentence, made some sort of awkward facial expression, followed by a million, long-winded questions, then I would have Gabriel go and explain this whole situation to my parents and fiancé. Then, alone in my room, it would all be followed by a whole Why Me God moment with all the waterworks. It wouldn’t have been one of my proudest moments.

Trusting in God completely, like she did, likely cost Mary her reputation and more. She was young, unmarried and pregnant – and not only was she pregnant, but she was telling people she was carrying the Savior of the world in her womb. How could it be? Her life, as she knew it, would never be the same. Her future was unknown. Yet, she trusted fully in God and sang His praises:

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.” – Luke 1:46-49

Mary was told she was to be the mother of the King, but she did not know what came next. She rested in knowledge that her life was safe in the hands of the Lord- because she knew that nothing was impossible with God.

Growing up, I was always the last person to volunteer to take part in The Trust Fall Game. Whether it was in Sunday school or Girl Scouts, I had no desire to demonstrate my trust in that manner nor in front of a group of people. I would watch as my friends would start to fall backwards into the arms of others, but then eventually chicken out and not fully submerge into the fall. I sometimes still catch myself doing the very same thing to God. Do you? Trusting is hard. Trusting is a a daily journey of surrender. It is realizing we are not in control. Trust is where we simply place our lives in the hands of the One who is not only in control- but also knows what is best for us.

Having faith in God means we trust Him in the joy and in the sorrow. It means we trust Him in the little details and with our big dreams. Having faith in God means we trust in Him in everything because we know He is always working for our good. We can trust in our God because He is trustworthy. May it all be as He has said.

Is there something you need to trust God with in this season?

Maybe it’s a financial struggle.

Nothing is impossible with God.

Maybe it’s a broken relationship.

Nothing is impossible with God.

Maybe it’s your singleness.

Nothing is impossible with God.

Maybe it’s your job.

Nothing is impossible with God.

Lord, we know that You are a God of miracles. May our trust have no limits. May we have faith in You in every season for we know You are always working for our good. No matter the circumstance, and no matter the outcome – You are good. May it be as You have said. Amen.

 

Photo Cred: Jenn Richardson

 

Danielle Kingsley, a Southern California native, served as a missionary and worship leader for ten years at a growing church planted by her family in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2007, Danielle moved to Nashville, Tennessee where she was provided the opportunity to be the original vocalist to record the now popular worship song, Your Great Name. In 2013, she released her first EP Falling, that generated two #1 singles on International Christian radio.

Since the recent loss of her father to a brief battle with cancer, Danielle has been sharing her story about finding hope through loss and the peace that is found in Jesus at a variety of conferences across the United States. She is writing her first children’s book and devotional, and is currently on tour with Secret Keeper Girls. Check out her blog at www.DanielleKingsley.com. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter @DKingsleyMusic

Abundant Life

January 18, 2017

By: Juliandra Durkin

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” -John 10:10

Abundant life. I dream of that some days. After packing my lunch, cleaning dishes, putting gas in my car, working all day, barely getting a shower after my work out and in between church groups and going out with friends.

Abundant life. Most days seem monotonous. Routine. Maybe adventurous when I travel or perhaps my days seem like a comedy when joking with coworkers. But abundant?

Is that what Jesus really said?

Yes. He has called us to an abundant life, my friend. And this is how I know it’s true:

Throughout my college and post college years I struggled to get along with my family. A divorce split my parents my freshman year at school. My brothers have been on and off of drugs and in and out of jail for over a decade. And I felt like I could do life better on my own, without the drama, on the other side of the country.

Well, about a year after graduating college, because of circumstances beyond me, I moved 3,000 miles back home. That was two years ago. And for most of that time, I begged God to open up any door, in any country so I could leave my hometown because of the painful memories here.

But wouldn’t you know that my hometown is where God called me to start my career.

After a YEAR of applying to jobs and internships, with few interviews, watching my bank account grow small from living off of my savings, and struggling to forgive my family for how normal it was in conversation to bring up “police” and “lawyer” I finally got a “Congratulations we can’t wait to have you on our team!” letter.

The last two years have been a journey for sure… bringing me to the past 4 months, where I am getting a taste of abundant life right in the middle of everything in my home town.

Yes, it’s written right there. In the Bible. Plain and simple. Jesus came not just to forgive and pave a way to the Father, but to bring us abundant life and He is showing and teaching me how to have life abundantly where He’s called me.

Career taking flight, I now work in TV Production as a sports Producer and Director, where I am challenged daily and feel freedom to be “me” in my work. I was able to take a 10 day vacation back to Southern California for Christmas. My Dad took the time to help me pick out a new, safe car that I can afford- a blessing these winter days in Pennsylvania. And despite the family saga of crap that has been the main narrative for 10 years, God is teaching me to forgive, forgive, forgive and in that I am connecting with my family in new ways these days.

Abundant life.

I pray that in the routines of life you may find yourself. In the trials- relational, financial, physical. Behind the closed doors that make you feel claustrophobic or trapped. I pray you continue to press on, with bravery, and trust in the Lord that He has special plans for you. It might not come the way you expect, but your abundant life is just around the corner my friend.

Do not lose hope.

 

Photo Cred: Chelsea Steller

Juliandra Durkin is the manager for Wonderfully Made’s blog Know Your Value. She also writes at Written Jewels, a personal blog with stories and reflections on life. Besides writing, she spends her free time exercising or out in nature. Give her a beach or a mountain; sunrise or sunset, she loves it all, especially walking her dogs in the woods! A graduate of Westmont College, Juliandra was able to attend three study abroad programs exploring Spain, parts of the Middle East, and Mexico. These experiences gave her a heart for culture and travel and she hopes to get more stamps in the passport soon!

God is Still Our King

November 4, 2016

By: Juliandra Durkin

This election season has been a downright battle between the candidates that has left the rest of us as casualties in a lot of ways. Facebook wars, Hillary and Trump ads that demonize the opposite candidate everywhere I turn, and people pitting against each other because of their political beliefs. If you’re into politics, great. If you’re not into politics, great. Either way, I hope this message brings hope and perspective to this election season.

I’m not one for politics, so I’ve been able to steer clear from a lot of the messiness, but I’m also not immune. And no matter what happens at the end of November 8th, voting day, my prayer is that people are wise in their vote and that God wins.

And guess what I have faith in? That no matter who is our next president, God will always reign our King.

God already knows who the next leader is and we can trust His plan.

There are 318 million people (2014) in the United States. That’s a lot of people! And God sees every single one of us. To take it a step further, God not only sees everyone, He knows how many hairs grow on each person’s head. Numbered and accounted for by our Father in heaven. Check out these couple of verses on fear. Mathew 10:28-31 says:

Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

God knows the big things, like who will be our next president. But He also knows the little things like how many hairs are on our heads, and the birds we don’t see, and what we will have for breakfast in a week!

The bottom line is God is still in control- we can trust Him- no matter what happens on Election Day. There is no reason to fear the presidency, or to fight each other about it. God is still our King and with Him at the forefront of our minds, everything else can fade in the distance.

 

Photo Cred: Jeremy Bishop

about the authorJuliandra Durkin is the manager for Wonderfully Made’s blog Know Your Value. She also writes at Written Jewels, a personal blog with stories and reflections on life. Besides writing, she spends her free time exercising or out in nature. Give her a beach or a mountain; sunrise or sunset, she loves it all, especially walking her dogs in the woods! A graduate of Westmont College, Juliandra was able to attend three study abroad programs exploring Spain, parts of the Middle East, and Mexico. These experiences gave her a heart for culture and travel and she hopes to get more stamps in the passport soon!

Life Like a Pumpkin

September 26, 2016

By: Katie Messer

When September comes around each year, there is one item that steals the show- the pumpkin. From seasonal foods, drinks and cinema classics to home décor and photo props, the pumpkin takes center stage! But, have you ever seen the pumpkin as a way to explain the Christian life? As the weather begins to cool and the leaves begin to fall, let’s take a look at an amazing reminder of our spiritual journey with Jesus Christ — as illustrated by the growth of the pumpkin!

Much like the orange mascot of fall, each of our spiritual lives started with a small seed. The Lord assures us that the Word of God will accomplish the work He intends for it (Isaiah 40:8, Isaiah 55:11 and Matthew 24:35). In the same way, once an individual is willing to accept the free gift of eternal life from Jesus Christ, they will be saved from eternal punishment and judgment (John 1:1-18).

As a Christian takes the time to dive into the Bible, ask questions, pray and seek godly counsel, a process much like spiritual watering and feeding takes place to revitalize the soul (John 4:14). While Jesus was preaching, He said this:

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6 (NASB)

The pumpkin seed then turns into a sprout. And in the spiritual sense, once an individual receives Jesus Christ as their own Savior to wipe clean all the known and unknown failures, a new life in Christ has begun! Praise God that the moment any person (young, old, married, divorced, straight, homosexual, athletic, intellectual, etc.) entrusts their eternal hope and security to Jesus Christ—a sprout within our souls arises.

 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NASB)

The sprout then grows a vine now that the plant has well-established roots and is moving across wider terrain! How does this happen in a spiritual sense? Jesus Christ shares that He is the One True Vine (John 15:1). As a believer continues to “feed” on the Word of God, the believer becomes spiritually stronger (Psalm 119:9-16). Now, the vine does not stay in one place. No, no, no! It is on the move! As believers in Jesus Christ, we are instructed to do the same:

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’” Mark 16:15 (NASB)

The vine then produces the flower. Just as the flower opens to receive a special gift from the bee, as believers, the Holy Spirit comes to each one to provide power to go forth and be witnesses for Jesus Christ into the entire world. After Jesus Christ victoriously rose from the dead on the third day, He ascended into Heaven, and instructed His disciples by saying:

but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NASB)

From the flower, the much-anticipated pumpkin will grow—and grow—and grow! Many will purchase pumpkins in October, to carve into jack-o-lanterns that will light up the darkness of the night. In the same way, may we as Christians, share the light of Jesus Christ—that is within our souls—to a dark and unknowing world. While preaching from a hillside as He delivered the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told His followers that they were the “light of the world” and that this light was never to be hidden. Rather, the light was to be displayed for all in the house to see (Matthew 5:14-15).

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NASB)

 Growth is a process. Pumpkins take time to grow into the orange orb we all love and adore. In the same way, our faith in God, our obedience, and our trust in Him through all circumstances are all growing as well. Be encouraged that no matter where you may be on your journey with Jesus Christ, He is ready to encourage you to keep going. So press into His Word and above all, keep growing in your knowledge of Him because you are forever cherished by an infinite God.

 

Photo Cred: Aaron Burdon

about the authorWhat is love? Is it s’mores on the beach at sunset? Is it a mountain vista overlooking acres of evergreens after a hike? Is it scuba diving through a shipwreck? Kayaking as the summer rays kiss your face? Climbing sand dunes? Skydiving? Author and blogger, Katie Messer, would answer that any interaction with God’s creation points to the infinite love of God. Yet, the place in which she sees God’s love most fully manifested is in the ultimate act of unabashed love by her Lord, Jesus Christ. She thanks God for her God fearing husband and their two children who share in these international adventures. “Mirrors to Window: Change your view to see God’s true romance” is a book of Katie’s own honest testimony of God’s radical rescue and redemption within her own life. “Blooming Beauty” is Katie’s official blog site. Check it out for encouragement in how to see and thank God through all circumstances of life. Why? Because you are worth it to an infinitely loving God.

Warrior Women

September 12, 2016

By: Juliandra Durkin

If you have been walking with God long enough, then you have probably experienced some highs and lows of being a daughter of the King in a war torn kingdom, planet Earth.

Life is many things, but hard is definitely up there when you have an enemy whose best weapon against God’s heart is to break yours.

However in James we read, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing,” (James 1: 2-4).

I picture all of us on a deep, dark adventure, following a mighty King who we are asked to trust, and continue to give Him our allegiance. There are fiery battlefields, misty valleys, and tall mountains where evil lurks behind rocks and crevices, trying to trip us up and make us tumble back down.

Maybe the battlefields and journey of following God don’t looks so drastic in your life, but have you ever lost a job? Or watched your parents carry out a divorce? Or experienced a boyfriend breakup? Or let go of friends you know were a bad influence on you? Or have you seen a family member or loved one hooked on drugs and alcohol that no matter how much you pray they don’t seem to let go of?

The testing of your faith produces steadfastness…

This wild King asks us to give us our love and allegiance even when we get burned and shot at by arrows of Satan and his demons. But here’s the catch about this wild King, inviting us to join Him on a dark adventure: though we don’t always see Him, or know His plan, and we might get pretty angry with circumstances in life when the journey get’s rough, we can have faith that He loves us and knows that we are capable to handle to the battles of our lives.

He put you and me in strategic places on planet Earth so that we can be a light that points others back to Him. Others that don’t know Him or have rejected Him.

Our beloved King that we were created by and for loves all the people on our journey (John 3:16). He commands us to be courageous (Joshua, the Psalms, Timothy, Matthew, Isaiah, Philippians- the Bible is full from beginning to end with verses on courage). And He did not leave us defenseless when it feels like we’re on our own, fighting a battle we didn’t ask for… Ephesians 6:13-18 says,

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

From head to toe, we are covered. Helmet, shield, breastplate, sword- every day we are called to put on righteousness, faith, truth, peace, and pick up the word of God so that we can do battle.

Fellow warrior Princesses, we are in a battle over our heads and beyond our imagination, but we can know that God has not abandoned us in body or spirit in those dark times.

I picture Joan of Arc who at age 17 led the French army, or Queen Elizabeth who established stability in England after one of the biggest religious factions in England’s history, or Mother Theresa who loved on “the untouchables” in India and won a Nobel Peace prize for her ministry, or Rosa Parks who refused to move on the bus during segregation and became a civil rights activist… If I had a full day, I wouldn’t be able to cover all the inspiring women throughout history we can look up to who in body and spirit picked up their swords to battle.

So, my fellow Warrior Princesses, will you join me in this battle? Will you pray for me as I pray for you? Will you pick up your armor that God has given you and continue to give your allegiance to the King, even when you don’t understand the battle or see the end of it?

Wherever you might be on your journey know that in truth, love, faith, and calling on the Spirit to help you are a called Warrior Princess with a task and mission from the Great King himself.

Do not lose hope.

Photo Cred: Daryn Bartlett

about the authorJuliandra Durkin is the manager for Wonderfully Made’s blog Know Your Value. She also writes at Written Jewels, a personal blog with stories and reflections on life. Besides writing, she spends her free time exercising or out in nature. Give her a beach or a mountain; sunrise or sunset, she loves it all, especially walking her dogs in the woods! A graduate of Westmont College, Juliandra was able to attend three study abroad programs exploring Spain, parts of the Middle East, and Mexico. These experiences gave her a heart for culture and travel and she hopes to get more stamps in the passport soon!

My Mirror vs God’s Truth

August 24, 2016

“You’re so stupid.” “I guess I look okay.” “Why did I eat all of that? No wonder I’m fat.” “I should have worked out harder.” “I’m such an idiot for forgetting that!” “No matter how hard I try, I’ll never be on time.”

Talk, talk talk. Negative self talk. You know what I’m talking about?

Sometimes it’s so subtle we don’t even realize we’re doing it. The negative thoughts pop up in the moment sounding accusatory and mean. And Satan thrives on our negative self-talk because it tears others and our own selves down instead of building up.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Really, I don’t know why we are so negative and hard on ourselves as women and daughters of the King, not when we have the written truth of the Word at our fingertips! But I’ve felt convicted of this negative self talk and harsh way of communicating with myself when it comes to daily life, my looks, and my work.

It’s like a constant qualification of how I am doing throughout the day. And it’s an amazing tool of the Enemy to get us so ingrained in negative talk and accusations about ourselves, lying and going against God’s very word.

But then I heard the soothing truth straight from the Holy Spirit this one day when I was getting ready for work. I looked at myself in the mirror one last time- Earings, check. Makeup, check. Cute shoes, check check. But instead of saying “Thanks, God, for all the blessings you’ve given me this morning,” I actually said out loud: “My face looks fat, but I guess I look okay otherwise.” So quickly I heard a gentle rebuttal, “No. You’re beautiful.”

My heart grew quiet knowing Who spoke and I realized that I need to be in the Word more when it comes to my words and language, especially in regard to my own self talk. How can I truly be uplifting and encouraging to others if I’m not even that way with myself?

After all, it’s not my mirror that speaks, it’s God’s word.

A quick look at all the good things God says about His children I learned that God calls me His daughter (2 Corinthians 6:18), redeemed (Ephesians 1:7), chosen and holy (1 Peter 2:9), a child of light (1 Thessalonians 5:5), and so many amazing words of truth my head should be spinning with joy!

But with one subtle dart from the enemy I allow myself to give in and call myself an idiot, stupid, that I’ll never change, and even disqualify being fearfully and wonderfully made by simply saying I look “okay.”

NO! God called us good and very good at the beginning of time in Genesis. Very good. God’s words not mine. I don’t feel very good most days. I feel worn out and depressed. But as God convicts me of my self-talk, ultimately it’s His word against mine. Haha! Who’s right? Certainly not me.

Ladies, we need to be aware of building each other up and it can start with ourselves.

What truth are you allowing into your mind and soul? The word says to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Are we obeying Christ in guarding our hearts from the enemy by speaking truth, encouragement, and life?

If we allow negative thoughts, name-calling, and bullying within ourselves to take root in our hearts and minds, God isn’t honored. The truth is we are His chosen daughters and we should allow grace and mercy within our self-talk for our own souls to be lifted up and soar with life!

So ladies, let’s be wary of the enemies schemes, our negative self talk, and the image of God we represent to our friends, family, and those who don’t know the truth.

I challenge you this week to combat the negative talk with three positive names that God calls you, each and every time you are tempted to give into the accusations and lies Satan wants to pull you down with. We can fight this battle with the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).

Below is a list of names that God calls His people. So when you are tempted, or if you hear a friend giving into negative self-talk, take a deep breath and refer to this list. Fight the lies with the truth and let’s reclaim our identity as women, building each other up!

Wonderfully Made – “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” Psalm 139:14.

Beautiful – Let the King be enthralled by your beauty; honor Him, for he is your Lord” Psalm 45:11.

A TempleDon’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself” 1 Corinthians 6:19.

ChosenBut even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him…” Galations 1:15.

Holy and God’s Special PossessionBut you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” 1 Peter 2:9.

BlamelessFor he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” Ephesians 1:4.

Apple of His Eye Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” Psalm 17:8.

What is your favorite name from God?

Photo Cred: David Marcu

about the authorJuliandra Durkin is the manager for Wonderfully Made’s blog Know Your Value. She also writes at Written Jewels, a personal blog with stories and reflections on life. Besides writing, she spends her free time exercising or out in nature. Give her a beach or a mountain; sunrise or sunset, she loves it all, especially walking her dogs in the woods! A graduate of Westmont College, Juliandra was able to attend three study abroad programs exploring Spain, parts of the Middle East, and Mexico. These experiences gave her a heart for culture and travel and she hopes to get more stamps in the passport soon!

Excerpt from “Mirrors to Windows” by Katie Messer

August 19, 2016

In Mirrors to Windows, Katie demonstrates a simple but dynamic change of viewpoint. Stop fixating on the internal (Mirrors): self-image, perceived needs, insatiable longing for acceptance and love. Instead, steer your eyes outward (Windows), and you’ll see with clarity that the best life and the truest love have been waiting for you all along. God is waiting to blow the roof off your expectations and desires. It is God who saves, God who redeems, and God who takes all demented attempts of our own searching and striving for happiness and belonging―and turns it into something truly beautiful as we embrace the Cross of Christ and His divine calling.

When I finally found a place that was not occupied by other cars and people, I locked my doors and walked down the side of a steep mountain ledge, looking for a quiet place to write. Before I got out of the car, the Lord instructed me to switch out of my flip-flops and into my silver-sequined ballerina flats. I found this very random, but I had come to realize that the Lord does not direct without purpose. As I switched shoes, I also felt led to take my cell phone with me and put my hair back into a ponytail. The randomness continued as I grabbed my phone. I really had no idea what the significance of all this was—I didn’t think my phone could even get reception that far back in the rugged park. I shrugged it off and just headed out.

The short path from my car to the mountain ledge was about thirty feet of twists and turns between mossy boulders. Upon arrival to a place where I could write and pray, all that the Lord had brought me out of over the past year overwhelmed me. As I wrote, I recalled my regret for the ways I had behaved in my hatred and lack of forgiveness—both for others and myself. Yet, all the while, I was filled with praise for the way the Lord saved me each time I royally missed the mark, from the dangerous and harmful situations I put myself into time and time again. How great is the Lord to restore broken lives for His glory!

“I will take you to be My wife in faithfulness, and you will know Yahweh.” HOSEA 2:20 HCSB

I also reflected on the fact that a few weeks previous, the Lord had given me the new name I’d felt such disbelief—almost disgust—over. Yet, the Lord prompted me to write it down, and I obeyed. Thus, “Purity” was penned onto my journal page.

“But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!’” ISAIAH 43:1 NASB

I sat on the mountain ledge and admired all that the Lord had created in the natural masterpiece around me. As a warm, gentle breeze of late summer brushed past my face, I [noticed] a lizard, about eight feet below, sunning on a rock near the running stream. I began to sketch it. I was soon to be embarking on a new chapter of seeking after the Lord with my whole heart, and I was so excited about it.

I was soaking in the blissful serenity when an intense buzzing noise began around me. Being that I was sitting amidst an outcrop of volcanic rocks on a mountainside, the first thought that came to my mind was rattlesnake.

I slowly looked around with desperate desire to find out where the angry serpent was in hopes of backing away from it. Yet, as my eyes returned to the ledge before me, I was startled to find it was not a snake at all, but rather a hummingbird only three feet in front of my face! The buzzing bird hovered before me. I did not know what had held its gaze for so long. Why had it not flown away when I moved? Then, suddenly, words were spoken to my heart. “I will lead you out.” In the next second, the rapid-winged bird zipped out of sight.

In my undergrad, I had studied Latin American Studies as well as International Relations. Thus, the significance of the hummingbird within Latin American folklore was not lost on me. Legends within that region of the world believe that fallen warriors return as hummingbirds and butterflies to guide their people to victory. Thus, I immediately thought about a warrior preparing for battle.

After this odd encounter, I checked my grip on the ledge before grabbing my things and returning to the steep path uphill toward my car. I had been spooked pretty good by the whole event and realized that time had gotten away from me. It was time to return from the breathtaking scenery, but I could not shake the words spoken to my heart. What could they mean?

As I walked back up the dirt trail and the road came back into view, my eyes tried to refocus on the reality of what was now before me. Where serenity had caused me to breathe deep, I now held my breath as I witnessed three men taking an intense interest in my car, which I had parked alone and away from the nearest vehicles about one hundred yards down the road at a swimming hole. Another car now sat beside mine, and something about the situation just didn’t feel right. I was parked in the middle of the wilderness…what could these three guys possibly want? I knew instantly that the situation I was walking into was bad.

I placed my keys between my knuckles as I continued to walk toward my car. I had nowhere to run behind me. I had no other options before me. As I drew closer, one of the men was just getting back into the passenger seat of the other car. It was as if he did not see me until I was barely feet from my car. As his passenger door closed, I reached to unlock my driver door. The men sat silently in their parked vehicle, with neither music nor the engine turned on. It seemed painfully obvious that they had not expected to see the driver of this lone car return. And now, both parties were mildly stunned and silently weighing the options of what to do next.

As I turned my back on the men to unlock my driver door, I heard a severe hissing noise once more. I briefly looked around for a snake before hopping in my car and locking the doors. With my hands on the steering wheel and the men still sitting in their vehicle just feet away, still staring straight ahead, the hissing noise rose back into my thoughts. My tires had been slashed! At this moment, I heard the voice of the Lord shout to my spirit as clear as day:

“Get out of the car or you are going to die!”

Trying to look as calm as possible, I took a deep breath. The hissing sound was still audible within the car. I calmly, and quickly, opened and relocked the driver door. The men were looking at me as I did this. I did not acknowledge them as I pulled my key from the driver door and then began to run down the dirt road as fast as I could.

With my silver shoes sparkling in the afternoon sun, I pulled out my cell phone and dialed 9-11.

“Nine-one-one, what’s your emergency?”

“I’m in upper Bidwell Park and I’m running away from the men who just slashed my tires!”

“Ma’am. Where are the men at this time?”

I turned around quickly—only to see their red sports car racing down the dirt road behind me!

“They are right behind me!”

I was praying silently as this nightmare unfolded. I darted off the road as the car drew closer, kicking up a huge plume of dust behind the vehicle. Knowing that I could not outrun them, I began to run through the tall, dry grasses toward the gravel parking lot at the nearby swimming hole. At this point, the three men in the sports car continued down the dirt road toward the one exit out of Upper Park. There were three cars parked at the swimming hole, and I darted down the steps toward the sound of laughter and swimming below.

All the while, I was still on the phone with the dispatcher, giving details about the men, their car, and my current location. I was told to stay put and that a park ranger would soon be there. Within one minute, I could hear cars pulling into the parking lot. I didn’t want to move. I’d positioned myself close enough to the strangers at the swimming hole that from above, I looked like one of them. I didn’t want to give away my location in case the men had returned.

I finally heard a door close and the dispatcher assured me it was the park ranger. I walked back up from the swimming hole and found him looking around. Two police officers had also arrived with him. With the phone still glued to my ear, I told the dispatcher the police officers had arrived, and she told me he would take care of things from there. I hung up after thanking the dispatcher for her help.

The police officers tried to calm me down in order to understand me. I was still reeling from all that had just taken place. They squinted their eyes and leaned forward, trying to make out the various details I was spitting out so quickly. Eventually, they escorted me back to my vandalized vehicle in their police car. I still did not want to be left alone. By the time we arrived, the tires had indeed gone flat. It had also been confirmed that one of the three men in the red sports car was a convicted felon on parole.

My phone died as I tried to call my dad. The officer allowed me to use his phone, and my dad rushed to arrive on the scene. He spoke with the officers briefly before a tow truck was called to move my paralyzed vehicle. And it was at that moment, as the tow truck began to load my car onto its back two wheels, that it occurred to me who my protection had come from.

All my life, I had idolized my dad as the one who would save me in every situation of peril. Yet, through this hair-raising experience, God had made it clear to my heart that although my dad would be willing to die to save me, only God would be able to be my protector in all circumstances. And now, as I faced an upcoming adventure not only in a different state but soon to be in a different country, the reality of God’s divine protection hit me like a ton of bricks.

 

about the authorWhat is love? Is it s’mores on the beach at sunset? Is it a mountain vista overlooking acres of evergreens after a hike? Is it scuba diving through a shipwreck? Kayaking as the summer rays kiss your face? Climbing sand dunes? Skydiving? Author and blogger, Katie Messer, would answer that any interaction with God’s creation points to the infinite love of God. Yet, the place in which she sees God’s love most fully manifested is in the ultimate act of unabashed love by her Lord, Jesus Christ. She thanks God for her God fearing husband and their two children who share in these international adventures. “Mirrors to Window: Change your view to see God’s true romance” is a book of Katie’s own honest testimony of God’s radical rescue and redemption within her own life. “Blooming Beauty” is Katie’s official blog site. Check it out for encouragement in how to see and thank God through all circumstances of life. Why? Because you are worth it to an infinitely loving God.

Don’t Be A Settler

August 15, 2016

“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” – Romans 8:25

You may have seen a DirecTV commercial recently where it depicts pioneer-clad people “settling” for cable television instead of choosing to use their satellite service. The tag line at the end of the ad is simple – “Don’t be a settler.” I usually don’t pay attention to commercials, but this week a simple tag line for a satellite company kept popping up in my head – don’t be a settler.

Why is it that we settle? Specifically, why do we settle in our dating relationships? If you have to add a “but” or two…or three to your sentence when describing the guy you are dating – you are probably not going out with God’s best for you. “We’ve been dating for a six months, but he doesn’t want to put a label on it, but he’s just so great.” Let’s just stop that. Let’s just stop settling for mediocre relationships when God has the absolute best planned for us. You are a daughter of a King. You have worth. You have value. Let’s actively believe that, my sisters. Let’s not just date for the sake of dating.

I know it is hard to wait. I know it is frustrating to check your Facebook and Instagram feeds and see endless photos of friends and family getting engaged, married and having sweet little ones, but I also know that settling for the wrong guy fills your heart with a false sense of fulfillment instead of peace. Waiting patiently can be hard, but know that settling for a guy just because you are lonely or you are searching to be “complete” will only cause you heartache in the end. It is important to find our completion in Him first, and He will be faithful to finish our story page by page. While we are waiting in hope, let’s dig deeper into our Father’s plan instead of fighting our way into the wrong guy’s heart.

If he walks ahead of you, wait for the man who will walk beside you.

If you’re the punchline of the jokes your boyfriend tells, wait for the man who knows how to make you laugh, and not at your cost.

If he rarely compliments you, wait for the man who sees and appreciates you and your beauty – inside and out.

If he is not up front about details or feelings, wait for the man you can trust with your whole heart.

If he doesn’t take you around his friends, wait for the man who can’t wait to introduce you to everyone he knows.

If he’s wishy washy with his feelings for you, wait for the man who can’t wait to commit to you.

If he doesn’t love you the way that God loves the church, wait for the man that will.

I would rather be a woman awaiting God’s best, than a woman compromising my worth for the sake of time or convenience. Don’t be a settler.

 

about the authorDanielle Kingsley, a Southern California native, served as a missionary and worship leader for ten years at a growing church planted by her family in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2007, Danielle moved to Nashville, Tennessee where she was provided the opportunity to be the original vocalist to record the now popular worship song, Your Great Name. In 2013, she released her first EP Falling, that generated two #1 singles on International Christian radio.

Since the recent loss of her father to a brief battle with cancer, Danielle has been sharing her story about finding hope through loss and the peace that is found in Jesus at a variety of conferences across the United States. She is writing her first children’s book and devotional, and is currently on tour with Secret Keeper Girls. Check out her blog at www.DanielleKingsley.com. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter @DKingsleyMusic

Passionate Pursuit

August 11, 2016

By: Katie Messer

What do you think of when you hear Cartier? Bentley? Personal staff? Private yachts? Multi-million dollar estates? What about, filling the pages of your passport? Dating the “hot” guy? Being the center of the social universe? Getting the job? And still, what do you think of in regards to being a good person? How about nipping, cutting, numbing or altogether altering yourself? If you answered “happiness,” “contentment,” or “the life” to any of these, may you be encouraged by the Word of God this very day.

Although there is a myriad of ways to “better” ourselves or “make it” in the eyes of the world, if we are looking for fulfillment to embrace us behind any one of these—we will be sadly disillusioned—each and every time. Why would this be?

Our society trains us to chase “big dreams” as are defined by the world. But, what does one do when such dreams are conquered? When the Cartier is now a few fashion seasons old; the evening is finally over and it’s time to go home, the passport book has indeed been filled; or the medication begins to wear off? Then what?

We have been trained to want things and passionately pursue them, yet continually come up frustrated when the sensation of pleasure fades away at the end of each conquest. At that time, many return for another hit. And if the same level of ecstasy cannot be reached as before, we supplement the pleasure in another pursuit.

This vicious cycle of yearning for more is nothing new. In fact, King Solomon in all his splendor wrote many wise sayings regarding the human condition within the Holy Bible.

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9 (HCSB)

When we realize that our pursuits apart from God were never meant to bring us lasting happiness, we need to return to the Lord with apologetic hearts. When we acknowledge our love for things of this world over the things of the Lord, and sincerely repent of this idol worship, God is then able to redirect our gaze and do something truly new and exciting within our spirits.

Listen to these encouraging words offered to those who place their hope in Jesus Christ…

“Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 (HCSB)

How faithful is the Lord to take us back each and every time—in order to fill us with our deepest desires—love that won’t go away and peace that will last beyond the storm. Praise God for His mercy and grace within each of our stories!

You see, whether you “live big” as defined by the world—as was the case for King Solomon (1 Kings 10:14-22) and Queen Esther (Esther 1-2), or modestly as was the case for John the Baptist (Matthew 3:3-4) or the women with only a tiny offering to bring to the temple (Mark 12:41-44)—God can use each of our stories for His glory—right where we are! It is up to each of us to separate our eyes from the world’s idea of “success” and come to grips with the reality that contentment is found in Jesus Christ alone.

The Bible teaches that each and every life is valued to God (John 3:16-18). Thus, whether the world would define one as rich or poor, popular or an outcast, the eternal status of each soul is the same. We all are in need of Jesus Christ’s redemptive work (Romans 3:23-26).

Regardless of where we are on this spinning rock today, may we fall to our knees and ask the Lord to use our lives to bring Him glory. May we thank Him anew for placing us in this time in history and ask to be used to speak of His mercy (Isaiah 6:1-8). May we breath deep and embrace a fresh dose of peace that does not come from the world, but from our Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:27). May we use the gifts, talents and resources allotted to each of us to share of God’s hope, redemption, and unabashed love story for each heart from each culture around the world!

 

Photo Cred: Rachael Crowe

about the authorWhat is love? Is it s’mores on the beach at sunset? Is it a mountain vista overlooking acres of evergreens after a hike? Is it scuba diving through a shipwreck? Kayaking as the summer rays kiss your face? Climbing sand dunes? Skydiving? Author and blogger, Katie Messer, would answer that any interaction with God’s creation points to the infinite love of God. Yet, the place in which she sees God’s love most fully manifested is in the ultimate act of unabashed love by her Lord, Jesus Christ. She thanks God for her God fearing husband and their two children who share in these international adventures. “Mirrors to Window: Change your view to see God’s true romance” is a book of Katie’s own honest testimony of God’s radical rescue and redemption within her own life. “Blooming Beauty” is Katie’s official blog site. Check it out for encouragement in how to see and thank God through all circumstances of life. Why? Because you are worth it to an infinitely loving God.