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Peace in the Storm

December 23, 2016
By: Kendra McClelland
Picture yourself getting ready for a formal event with all your best girl friends. You gather hours before you need to leave to allow for spontaneous dance parties, light snacking, and welcomed distractions. Once you’re ready to go, you step outside, and there’s violent gusts of wind tossing your hair like crashing waves. Suddenly, your perfectly curled hair looks like a tornado hit, and the delightful bliss cultivated for the past three hours turns into frustration, ironic laughter, and possibly a couple of tears.
Such is life, ladies.
On a spiritual level, the same circumstance occurs. Morning devotions, daily prayer, Bible study, church, and occasional retreats help cultivate a healthy relationship with Jesus. However, we live in an imperfect world that doesn’t block the gusts of wind from steering us off course.
Sometimes it feels like right when I find peace, chaos strikes all around me. At first, I cling to those spiritual habits resisting the temptation to let stress and anxiety kick in, but when the gusts of wind keep coming with greater force, it’s challenging not to lose my footing.
Before I know it, my prayer life and my trust in Jesus mirror the image of my post-tornado hair. My inner peace has vanished, and everything feels like the end of the world.
It’s overwhelming. I feel small. I feel conquered by the chaos around me. Satan has me right where he wants me.
Isn’t it easy to forget that God shows his greatest power through the weak and vulnerable?
A small stone thrown by a small boy killed the giant, Goliath. A young boy with a couple of fish and loaves of bread entrusted to Jesus fed five thousand people. A young, poor woman gives birth to a baby boy in a feeding trough who is the Savior of the world.
God does miraculous things in the midst of our littleness.
During those chaotic moments, we have a choice. We can choose to make room for Jesus to birth peace in our hearts, or we can join the innkeepers. Do you believe that God will defeat the giants in your life, or do you go into battle alone?
When I make room in my heart for Christ’s peace it doesn’t change the chaos around me, but it preserves my inner peace and prevents me from getting tossed in the wind.
It’s only when I trust in God’s faithfulness and strength that I am able to see the world’s chaos in proper proportion to my God. There’s nothing quite like being immersed in Christ’s peace unafraid of the chaos surrounding you.
I am tired of being an innkeeper.
I’ve learned that the stillness of Christ’s peace is the only tactic to shield chaos. There’s not enough room for chaos and peace, so I am clearing out the stress and anxiety that bully my heart and making room for Jesus.
The decision is yours. Is there room for Jesus’ peace in your heart?

“The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

 

Kendra McClelland is the regional chapter director for Santa Clara University’s Wonderfully Made chapter. She works in leadership consulting and is pursuing a Master of Divinity with the dream to serve God’s kingdom in pastoral ministry. Aside from her work and studies, she enjoys traveling internationally, running, and losing track of time over coffee with her dearest friends. There’s also nothing like a good worship jam session to set her heart ablaze, she loves Jesus and she’s not afraid to say it (or sing it)!

 

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!

Ready to Go

June 6, 2016

By: Katie Messer

While seated at a table within a crowded restaurant in the Middle East, Kaw-Thar quickly adjusted her black hijab around her face to hide a stray hair that had come loose before nervously asking her next and most poignant question, “All this is interesting, but who do you say Jesus Christ is?”

Knowing the risk of answering such a question, the young Christian silently prayed for wisdom as her Muslim friend slid her cell phone across the table closer to her. Was this a set up? It was illegal to speak of Jesus Christ in a Muslim country. The young woman was aware that she could be deported, jailed, or even worse. Yet, the young foreigner could not deny in her heart of hearts that this was why she had traveled to this foreign land. It was for such a moment as this that the young woman had been willing to leave all of the comforts of her homeland and gone to great lengths to genuinely invest in those of other cultures. This was her moment indeed; this was her moment to speak of her Savior.

As the young foreigner felt a peace to share everything the Lord was placing on her heart, she began to speak. “Who do I say Jesus Christ is? Jesus Christ is the Messiah. He is the one and only Son of God. He is the Second person of the Triune Godhead. He is my Lord and my Savior.”

Kaw-Thar listened intently as the young foreigner took a sip of her steaming tea. Kaw-Thar squinted her eyes slightly as if trying to read the response of the young foreigner seated across from her. This young Muslima had been astounded to learn previously in this evening’s shared meal, that the young foreigner had not only had dreams and visions—just as she herself had experienced—but had a personal relationship with the God of all things! Kaw-Thar was desperate for answers. Her life was in shambles. Her husband had left her for another woman, her mother was diagnosed with cancer and refusing treatment—saying that if Allah willed for her to die, she would accept it. Yet, Kaw-Thar could not accept it! She and her son, Abdul Aziz, were living with her mother in the midst of this diagnosis and recent divorce. It just couldn’t be the end for her mother—she was Kaw-Thar’s only support system.

Kaw-Thar shared with the young foreigner that she had previously checked into other religions such as Buddhism in desperation to connect with a higher power on behalf of her mother. With eyebrows raised, Kaw-Thar lowered her voice and leaned forward as she shared, “I have even attended an Easter service while traveling in Europe and spoke with the Pastor after the sermon.” Yet, despite her searching, despite her questions, Kaw-Thar kept getting stuck on the same question within her own heart. “How can there be three persons to one God?”

The young foreigner continued to pray silently and the Lord brought to mind an example used by a missionary within the book I Dared to Call Him Father by Bilquis Sheikh. And with another affirmation upon her listening heart to speak in the midst of a dangerous environment, with a sparkle in her eye, the young foreigner began to share. “You are right, my friend. There is only one God. There are three parts to God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Think of God like the sun for a minute. There are three parts that make up the sun: heat, light and radiation. Each part is distinctly unique, yet undeniably part of the same whole.”

If this interaction tugs at your heart, know that there are multiple ways to get involved with sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Arab world as a whole. A quick sit down with a local Christian Pastor or a simple Internet search will bring a whole list of opportunities before you with organizations to partner with in order to GO (Matthew 28:19).

The above dialogue is just one account of real life interactions between Christian and Muslim friends in 2016 across the globe. Jesus Christ is showing up in the dreams of those seeking to know the One and True God (Jeremiah 29:13). Islam teaches that only their prophet Muhammad or the devil can appear in the dreams of Muslims. Yet, all the while, Jesus is showing up—defying their teachings and bringing multitudes into the Kingdom through belief on Jesus Christ (Romans 10:13). Amen! Even the refugee crisis is being used for the glory of God as multiple Christian ministries are meeting these displaced peoples on the shores of foreign lands and ministering to their basic humanitarian needs. The number of precious lives converting from Islam as they embrace a God of love—the God of the Holy Bible—Jesus Christ (1 John 4:8-10)—is truly amazing!

May I encourage you this very day to consider having a similar conversation with someone of another faith. Christian Apologetics—or the defense of the Christian faith—is a powerful tool in providing a loving witness to those who are earnestly seeking to know God. The author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi, has a powerful series of Christian apologetics in light of Islam on YouTube, which is filmed at Biola University in southern California. It is very insightful and taught me much about the core beliefs of Islam. As Christians, it is our deepest honor and most sincere joy to speak of the transformative work of Jesus Christ within our own lives.

May we, as women of our own generation, be ready and willing to speak at length with those of other faiths who are seeking to know more about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior (1 Peter 3:15)—because, you never know—it may be due to your willingness to GO in Jesus’ name that others will experience eternity and right standing before the One and only Holy God of all things (Isaiah 6:1-8). Are you ready to GO?

 

Photo Cred: Chelsea Steller

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.

Hurdles, Mountains, and the Valley of Achor

April 4, 2016

By: Katie Messer

“On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in
my soul.” Psalm 138:3 (NASB)

Have you ever felt as though one challenging situation kept following another within your life? Perhaps you even wondered if there was something you could do to make the difficulties stop. Allow this to be refreshment to your heart and soul as you head to class, work, or the great outdoors.

When hard times enter our lives, our tendency can be to isolate ourselves or fake our way through with a smile. Yet, once we are alone, the reality of the weight of the hardship remains and battles with depression or even doubting God’s goodness may ensue. Girlfriend, at that very moment, drop what you are doing and grab your Bible. Get alone with the Lord and pour your heart out to Him. He is ready to comfort you and sustain you in the midst of it all.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

Regardless of zip codes, time zone, or even the make-up of our family, each life will experience hurdles and mountain tops, as well as the valleys below. If you are in one of life’s valleys now, may I encourage you from the literal desert of the Middle East (Qatar to be specific) from God’s Word.

“Therefore, I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the days she came up out of Egypt.” Hosea 2:14-15 (NIV)

Ladies, much like God rescued Israel from the hands of Pharaoh in Egypt, He rescues us in our individual stories as well! He will turn our Valley of Achor (which means “trouble”) into hope for His name’s sake. Whether the trouble, hurdle, or heart ache you are experiencing is self  induced or caused by another source, hide your face in the Lord. Ask Him to provide you with the boldness and stoutheartedness needed to get to the other side of the valley. He will do it. He loves you and deeply values your heart and life (1 John 4:9).

As one who has walked through many valleys in life myself, I testify to you this day, with God you will truly overcome every heartache and difficulty of life. And girlfriend, He will bring you through your hard time too. He is in the business of turning troubled times into places of hope (Hosea 2:15). Claim it. Declare it. And hold fast to the reality of God’s Word.

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Ask the Lord what He may be calling you to do. Is there something that scares you that perhaps God would like to address? Is there an unresolved matter that simply needs reconciliation? Are you concerned about your relationships or your loved ones? Take it to the Lord. He will direct you by His written Word, the Holy Bible and by speaking directly to your heart. You are precious and the situations that you are facing within your life are neither “too little” nor “too big” for God’s mighty care. Take them to Him today and allow His peace, that which surpasses the logic and understanding of this world, to penetrate and overtake the fears within your heart. Why? Because He is God and you are precious to Him.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NASB)

Photo Cred: Chelsea Steller

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.

Bible Verses for When Your Heart Hurts

January 25, 2016

By: Juliandra Durkin

Sometimes it seems like life is an angry ocean, the salty waves crashing down without giving room to breath or space to stand. It can seem especially daunting when life continues in such a way for days, months, and for some years. But be encouraged, friends, as God provided us with His unchanging words to bring life to our hurting hearts! Perhaps these Bible verses will bring comfort to you, as they have me.

Job 42: 1-2 “Then Job answered the Lord and said: ‘I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.’

Zephaniah 3:17  The Lord your God is with you, a Powerful One who wins the battle. He will have much joy over you. With His love He will give you new life. He will have joy over you with loud singing.”

Isaiah 30:18 “So the Lord wants to show you kindness. He waits on high to have loving-pity on you. For the Lord is a God of what is right and fair. And good will come to all those who hope in Him.”

Ecclesiastes 7: 13-14 “Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked? Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life.”

Romans 5: 3-5 “…We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Psalm 95: 1-5 “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.”

Psalm 62: 5-8 “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah”

Joshua 1: 5-6, 9 “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them… Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

John 16: 22-24 “So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time you won’t need to ask Me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and He will grant your request because you use My name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using My name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.”

II Thessalonians 1: 11-12 “For this reason, we always pray for you. We pray that our God will make you worth being chosen. We pray that His power will help you do the good things you want to do. We pray that your work of faith will be complete. In this way, the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will be honored by you and you will be honored by Him. It is through the loving-favor of our God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

I Peter 1:12-14 “Dear friends, your faith is going to be tested as if it were going through fire. Do not be surprised at this. Be happy that you are able to share some of the suffering of Christ. When His shining-greatness is shown, you will be filled with much joy. If men speak bad of you because you are a Christian, you will be happy because the Spirit of shining-greatness and of God is in you.”

 

Photo Cred: Aaron Burden

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!

Coffee Shop Convo for Days that Hurt

January 7, 2016

By: Kathryn Messer

Grab a cup of something warm and join me at the table for a comforting reminder of God’s security in times of chaos and heartache. Despite the chaos or hellish situation you may be experiencing, allow me to encourage you over a little cup of tea or coffee. I have my steaming cup! You’ve got yours? Great. Here we go!

Despite the depth of pain and suffering you are currently holding inside your heart, you are not alone my friend. God will walk beside you, if you allow Him into your story. God is more faithful than any doubts we may feel regarding His goodness or attention to our lives and mankind as a whole. Remember, He is stronger than our strongest weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10). God is not just an element, like wind or water; He is the Warrior General of heaven’s army (Psalm 46:7). That’s pretty cool… you gotta admit!

I know what it feels like to slump along in the faith and to really come to times of questioning. Now, this isn’t bad, as long as we take it to Christ (Psalm 55:22, Psalm 62:8, Isaiah 41:10 and 1 Peter 5:7). He is ready to answer your unknowns and bring light to dark spots. Do not back down girlfriend. You are worth fighting for and this is exactly what Christ did for you when He stepped down from heaven to redeem our lives by His atoning blood (Romans 5:8).

Call out to Christ in honesty. If your day sucks, tell Him. What I love about our Lord is He’s real. Thus, we never need to sugar coat anything, nor do we need to pretend with God. He already sees our hearts and desires to strengthen us for His work and calling (1 Samuel 16:7, 2 Timothy 3:17 & Ephesians 2:0). The Lord says, “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept My word and have not denied My name.” (Revelation 3:8)

Keep the faith my friend! Christ has NOT dropped you. The Lord knows all the desires in your heart. He sees the hurts. He knows the fears. He hears the uncertainty. And God wants to work all things out in your life.

I myself went through a long time of waiting, and waiting, and just for a change of pace, I waited some more for direction from the Lord. Nothing happened, so I thought at first.

What I didn’t realize then, but am seeing more through time, is that God delights in His kids (Psalm 147:11). Thus, He is willing to do what it takes to get us ready for the situations and circumstances that will be brought our way. He cares about us enough to prepare and equip us for the trials and hardships in this life.

When I was a little girl, probably in 3rd or 4th grade, I remember seeing a map of Africa in school and feeling led to go there. Yet, in all honesty, this horrified me! How could I someday go to a place I knew NOTHING about? I didn’t understand and stayed away from the idea for many years.

Then in college, the Lord gave me in a dream. He showed me a few scenes that looked to be out of a movie of sorts where I could see myself. When I awoke I felt compelled to learn Arabic! Spanish was my college major at the time, so this seemed really funny too. Yet, I knew it was indeed from the Lord. And as the months continued, He provided for an opportunity for me to head off to Zambia, Africa for the first time. It was interesting to see how the Lord had prepared my heart to go.

In the meantime, Christ allowed me the opportunity to let go of my fear and hold on to His mighty leading. I came to see that Christ will never lead us to a place He hasn’t prepared, if we continue to pray for Him to lead. How reassuring to remember that He cares about us more than any other can. He knows our hearts better than even we know ourselves—wild!

So, as I prepared to leave the country, I continually came back to Him with my fears of going to Zambia. Each time, our gracious Lord calmed my fears and affirmed the route I was walking. He led the whole thing and I was so blessed by this fact. I can tell you in all honesty as I let go of my concerns, the Lord began to sprout excitement and a love for a people I had never met, deep within my heart. When I returned to the United States from the short time in Zambia, the Lord told me that I would be going a second time. And I was THRILLED!!!

I again wrote prayers and cried out to the Lord for His guidance. I did not desire to do anything without the Lord; I was lost without Him. Each time, God was faithful to answer my cries and to respond to my fears. As Christians, we are not to be ruled by fear; if we are walking in the path that God has directed us, then we are to walk in boldness (Isaiah 26:4, Psalm 115:11, Psalm 118:8, Proverbs 3:5). As I prepared for this extended journey, I asked the Lord daily to have His will in this day, as well as in the upcoming adventure, because I knew that I could not do it alone. And in all honesty my friend, this is what it’s all about.

The Lord desires for us to be so dependent on Him that we involve Him in even the “little” decisions of our days. Why? Because He is madly in love with us and wants us to know that we are never, ever alone (Hosea 3:1). How sweet to know that we share a relationship with the Creator of the universe and He longs to be involved in every area of our lives out of the utmost love and concern for us.

Grief and heartache are real. Yet, as believers in Jesus Christ, we do not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). It is a sincere comfort for me to recall that salvation and rescue are available to all who call upon His name (Acts 2:21). We may still remain in our chaotic situations, but as believers in Jesus Christ, we can rest assured that better days and true rest from heartache are coming in the Lord’s perfect timing (Isaiah 40:30-31).

I think far too often we picture God like a superhero: able to rescue and fully save only one at a time. Yet, this is not true of the Almighty God, Yahweh. We serve the God of creation and the Lover of our souls. Thus, no matter the time period in history, the color of our skin, or the complexity of the chaos around the globe, Christ is there and ready to rescue whenever called upon.

And as we pray for help, as we cry our in our weakness and allow Him to be in sovereign control of our lives, things will change in a drastic way. This doesn’t mean that we’ll always be taken out of the situations, but God will orchestrate the situation for our ultimate rescue. Christ desires to walk with us through our journeys ministering to our hearts all the while. Why in the world would He do this, you may be asking?

Because WE ARE WORTH IT. True love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). And for this reason, Christ was willing to come to this earth, where He was tempted in every way, never sinned, and then died for our stupid decisions and hurtful choices (1 John 4:10). He paid a debt that you and I could never pay for on our own. Regardless of the circumstances that have brought you to this point in your life today, God has already provided a way out!

Stop and think about that for a second; let it soak in.

You are loved (Romans 5:8). There truly is no amount of words to express this fully. It comes down to a realization and peace within your heart that only Christ Himself can provide. Pray for God to reveal His peace and direction for your life as you follow His will for your life. Don’t be afraid to seek after God. The Lord assures us that we will find Him when we search with all of our heart (Jeremiah 29:12-13). Again, it is a heart issue. God brought me through the same process and I am fully confident that He will do the same for you.

His death and resurrection proved so (Acts 10:41 & Romans 14:8-9). Don’t allow the devil to feed you lies about your identity. You are royalty. If you have entrusted your life and eternal destiny to Jesus Christ, you are the daughter of The Most High.

Whether your personal world is falling apart, or you watch the global events that continue to unfold horrific tragedy and bloodshed, take heart. God has not checked out of the picture. It is time for all who call upon the name of the Lord to rise up and fall to our knees before God. It is time for us to pray that God would move the hearts of individuals experiencing heartache, as well as world leaders, to bring compassion, justice, and mercy to those experiencing devastation and abject horror. There is hope in Jesus’ name. Jesus assures us of the victory that we can claim over each and every circumstance of life within the Holy Bible.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NASB)

May we pray that the Lord stir our hearts to be used to further His message of hope and restoration to this hurting world. Jesus’ death and resurrection from the dead is proof of this beauty amidst the thorns of present heartache. Ladies, may we earnestly pray for each hurting heart to experience true peace for Christ alone is the answer.

 

Photo Cred: Chelsea Steller

 

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.

Looking Ahead

December 28, 2015

By: Rachel Brown

Christmas has come and gone (how?!) and New Year’s Eve is quickly approaching. In the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle, it’s a good idea to take some time to reflect on where you have been (literally and figuratively) and where you want to go in the next year. But how do we do that, exactly? Here are some ideas.

Write – in a Journal, on a Blog, on a Post-It Note

 It doesn’t matter where or when or how you write, but putting pen to paper allows us to reflect more deeply on our lives, and it provides accountability for dreams we have for the future. It also helps to have ideas and goals written down because then we can revisit them a few weeks, months, or even years later to chart our progress. Research even shows that writing down our reflections and goals makes us more likely to make strides toward success in the future. So if you are a journaler, make a list of what you accomplished this year and what you’d like to do next year. If you’re a blogger, share your hopes and dreams for the New Year with your readers. If you’re neither, simply jot down your ideas on a Post-It note; stick it where you will frequently see it to be reminded of what you hope to achieve in 2016.

 Spend Time in Prayer

 Use your quiet time to reflect on the past year with God. Ask Him to shed light on things that have transpired that don’t make much sense yet; thank Him for the wonderful things that occurred, for the blessings that made your life bright. Sit quietly and ask Him what He wants from you in 2016. You may be surprised by the answer. Write it down (see above!) and prayerfully consider how you can put this direction into action. Revisit your questions and hopes with Him frequently; this will bring you clarity in your life and closeness in your relationship with God.

 Find Accountability Partners

Whether in the form of your small group or another community group of some kind, or perhaps just through a relationship with one friend or loved one, seek out accountability for your dreams for 2016. Ask your accountability partners to gently check in with you from time to time, withholding the desire to reprimand you if progress isn’t being made and merely reminding you that they are a presence that is following up in the hopes that you’ll succeed in your goals. Just as it is with writing your goals down, voicing your dreams makes them come alive. Inviting accountability partners into this sacred space makes your dreams come alive, too, and this act motivates you to complete them, knowing your loved ones are cheering you on.

 

Photo Cred: Chelsea Stellar

 

aboutauthorRachel  is the Director of Project Development for Touch A Life, an organization committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of children who have been exploited and trafficked in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Though she loves working in the non-profit world, Rachel has always been passionate about writing, pursuing opportunities to put pen to paper outside of her day job. Aside from writing for Darling Magazine, she maintains a personal blog, Coffee & Tacos, where she connects with others through food, travel, faith & community. Rachel lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband and their adorably large English mastiffs.

Kneeling not Knowing

November 18, 2015

By: Erin Weidemann

“You’re on a need to know basis and you don’t need to know.”

I cringe. My mom used to say this to me all the time when I was a kid. I used to think, well that’s annoying.

Now that I am a mother myself, I understand that it might be the response that makes the most sense after being asked the same questions over and over. I can still see myself looking up at her, confused and annoyed, while I mulled over just what it was that I didn’t “need to know.”

When I spent a little longer thinking about it, I typically heard her say this when I was trying to butt my nose in where it didn’t belong; I mostly heard it when I was trying to sniff out some adult-type gossip that was arguably not for a child’s ears. I speculate that she kept these bits of information from me because, plainly, they weren’t any of my business. That didn’t make me any less curious though, and I usually left those one sided conversations feeling disregarded and foolish for asking.

Isn’t that just the funniest metaphor for my relationship with God, though?

I’m tugging at the bottom part of His robe and asking, “So, what’s that all about? Come on. Tell me what’s up.” He’s shaking his head and smiling as He looks down at me. “You’re on a need to know basis,” He says gently, “and you don’t need to know.”

Somehow, He says it a little more sweetly than my mother did.

The truth is that we want to know what God is up to. We’re nosy. We want Him to fill us in on the details, all the juicy little particulars so we can be in on the work He is doing.

It can be frustrating to be on the outside; I know as a young girl that was never a fun way to feel. But really, we don’t need to know what God is doing. We want to know, but even if he let us in on the specifics, what exactly do we think we’re going to do? Help?

Hey, God, you know what? I’ve got a really fantastic suggestion for you. No.

How about this useful piece of advice that You’ve yet to consider? Nope.

It’s comical that even though I don’t need to know the details, even though I do know He is in control of everything, I always seem to forget that when the curious, interesting, or challenging situations arise. Is it really that hard to remember? Yes, it is. It is because, for whatever reason, I feel like I’m capable. I’m a helpful person. Really, it’s because I think I’m a bigger deal than I actually am. And He doesn’t need my help.

This is why we have to remind ourselves, and say it out loud so we can remember. God is the beginning and the end. He is the Almighty One, and the plan is His. It’s for Him to know, and for us to experience. He has laid it out ahead of time: every problem, every solution, and all the parts of the plans in between that we can’t possibly know or understand; we can’t because we aren’t meant to. We are meant to and made to put our trust in Him. We were created to lower ourselves and to lift Him up, to glorify Him to praise His holy name. We’ve got to remind ourselves every day that just because we can’t see the reasons for things most of the time, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

This life isn’t for us to know. Simply, it’s enough for us to kneel.

 

Photo Cred: Milada Vigerova

 

about-the-authorErin is an enthusiastic and goofy mom to two children, one of them with paws. She is a wife, author, teacher, former college athlete and a five time cancer survivor. Her heart is in Seville, Spain, though she calls Encinitas, CA home. In her spare time she enjoys going to the beach with her husband and daughter, coaching softball, and pretending she can bake. She loves eating, laughing, and volunteering at Sunday school. Alongside her husband, she is the co-founder of Bible Belles, an organization committed to teaching girls about the female heroes of the Bible.

In a Spiritual Rut

November 13, 2015

By: Rachel Brown

As we do in any area of our lives, sometimes we fall into a rut, spiritually speaking. We know God and we love Him, but for some reason or another, we don’t feel connected to Him. We feel uninspired or detached, and we’re not really sure what to do about it. So what should we do when we feel far from God? How do we find the motivation we need to dig ourselves out of a rut? Check out some of the ideas and encouragement below, and in the comments section, share some of the ways that you’ve reconnected spiritually in the past – we’d love to hear your input!

Embrace Community

God was so intentional when He created the concept of community, knowing that because He had made us relational beings we wouldn’t be able to walk through life alone. When we feel ourselves falling into a rut, we can cleave towards our small groups, our accountability partners, our church family, or our friends. By sharing our struggles with honesty and vulnerability, we’ll find the safety and security provided by our community. Not only will we feel less alone in our troubles but we also will receive encouragement and fellowship as we share our feelings, empowering us to continue on in our walk with Christ. As it says in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Embracing our community will allow us to strengthen our souls and find rejuvenation in our spiritual lives.

Pick Up a Good Book

Sometimes the best encouragement and motivation comes from the written word. Turning to the Bible is empowering, certainly, but often times God will speak to us through other written sources, including inspirational books. Check out some of the titles we wrote about here; we have found comfort within the pages of many of these books, allowing us to press on even when we’re feeling like we’re in a rut. Reading can unlock a sentiment within us that allows us to realize that we’re not alone in our struggles, our fears, and our tribulations.

Carve Out Quiet Time

Often times the best thing we can do when we’re feeling stuck is simply to be still. It’s hard to carve out stillness in today’s busy world but if we are intentional about stepping away from our devices and taking time away from all of the noise, we can find the space that we’ve been longing for, the one where we feel close to God. This isn’t necessarily something that will happen right away; it may take some time, as it can feel so unnatural to be still. But as the cliché goes, practice makes perfect, and by continually carving out quiet time we can make strides in regaining our closeness to Christ.

Get Some Fresh Air

Many of us feel closest to God when we’re in nature. Whether we’re sitting on a beach, in the mountains, near a lake, or walking through a park, it’s undeniable that the earth that God created is so breathtaking and stellar. As it says in Romans 1:2, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Getting outdoors can rejuvenate us by reminding us of God’s goodness and realness, of His creativity and artistic ability.

Photo Cred: Chelsea Stellar

 

about-the-authorRachel Brown is the Director of Project Development for Touch A Life, an organization committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of children who have been exploited and trafficked in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Though she loves working in the non-profit world, Rachel has always been passionate about writing, pursuing opportunities to put pen to paper outside of her day job. Aside from writing for Darling Magazine, she maintains a personal blog, Coffee & Tacos, where she connects with others through food, travel, faith & community. Rachel lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband and their adorably large English mastiffs.

An Encouraging Playlist…

November 4, 2015

Hey ladies! We put together a list of some songs that will be encouraging and uplifting to your day. Maybe you can have a little worship session by yourself, with your friends, or simply listen to these songs while you study to keep you going.

 

Wait for Me, by Rebecca St. James

 

Set the World on Fire, Britt Nicole

 

10,000 Reasons, by Matt Redman

 

Wrap Me in Your Arms, by William McDowell

 

Desert Song, by Hillsong United

 

As the Deer Panteth for the Water, by Martin J. Nystrom

 

God Will Make a Way, by Don Moen

This I Believe, by Hillsong Worship

 

*Note, Wonderfully Made does not own these videos; we are simply sharing them here. All content is property of respectful owners. Thank you and enjoy!

Photo Cred: Anthony Delanoix