A Christian Woman's Daily Devotional
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05/03/15 Elizabeth , Story # , , , , , , ,

Adjusting to the Light (Elizabeth’s Story)

Adjusting to the Light (Elizabeth’s Story)

Scripture Reading: Acts 17:27-28

Have you ever been outside in the summer, with the sun blazing down and an eyefull of bright light washing your day in glory?  What happens when you walk inside?  You are instantly blinded, stumbling around, running into things, and feeling helpless.  It takes a while before you are able to adjust to the indoor lighting and find what you needed.

That is the pattern of my story, in a way.  I was born into a cozy Christian home, homeschooled, brought up in church, and drenched in good stuff.  Even as a young girl I took both an intellectual and a heart interest in spirituality and the presence of God among us.  That was the blazing glory of the light on a sunlit day. That fire carried on for a long time, into college.

But after a while, I began to question things.  After some sort of emotionally traumatizing things happened in college, I began to wonder why I had never encountered some of the difficult questions.  I began to doubt that my faith, or even my religion, was big enough to answer all of the large, imminent questions that I was asking of it.  I felt that the “rose-colored glasses” had been stripped off, and that the thing I had spent so much of my life pursuing was, perhaps, a misunderstanding.  “Why is it so hard?  Why do I only hear the cookie-cutter responses to the real answers I need about the way the world works?  Why does God seem so small?”

In the midst of this time I was experiencing incredibly deep spiritual connections to myself and to the world around me, and didn’t know if Christianity was the answer.  I didn’t know where to turn, and the memories of intense intimacy, that I had experienced so many times with the God of Christianity, were hard to remember in those times.

But something inside my heart held on to those moments.  Something inside was just waiting to me awakened by not just truth, but love in truth.  By something very real, very imminent, very big.

It actually took me a long time to heal from that doubt, but simply laughing with people, appreciating them for who they were, having empathy with the way that they experienced God–there were the small yet constant ways that God was showing me that HE is the Spirit breathing through the world.  So many incredibly vital conversations with my best friend (who has turned out to be my husband, praise the Lord) showed me that there is hope, there is a future, and that God is not far from each one of us.

That’s why I’ve chosen this slightly unorthodox verse for my “life verse.”  Because it reminds me that God is truly not far from each one of us.  He is in the air around us, He is the love between us, He is the reason we live, and move, and have our being.  From Him and to Him be all the glory for now and forever! Amen.

I groped around for a while looking for the truth.  Then I gave up on it at all.  And now I have come to realize that I know very, very little about Him.  I don’t uderstand anything. But He has given us shreds of truth, in the bite-sizes that we can understand for the time being.  But there is always more out there,  and that is why I love to seek the patterns of the earth to see where He turns up.  Because….He is not far from each one of us.  And we are meant to find Him.

Post by: Elizabeth

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04/03/15 Hilary , Story # , , , ,

Discovering His Mysteries (Hilary’s Story)

Discovering His Mysteries (Hilary’s Story)

Life Verses: John 15, Titus 3:5

 

God has always been very vibrant in my life. I remember hearing Him speak at a young age, but not really knowing what to do with it or if it was normal. I had only had glimpses of Jesus and the concept of this mysterious book called the Bible, but it was not until I went to summer camp in 8th grade did I hear the gospel for the first time. That summer night, I accepted Christ as Savior and King of my life and had an unusual encounter with the demonic and the presence of the Holy Spirit for the first time. With my quiet and observing personality, I kind of kept it to myself and did not really understand the entirety of everything that I had experienced. However, the Lord is so faithful in unraveling His mysteries and depths of His character, even when it isn’t spoken of much in your community. After this experience, I became so passionate about understanding who this Savior was.  I grew in my faith through mentorship, diving into the Word tirelessly and figuring out what prayer was.

 

During my Senior year of high school, one of my best friends died in a train accident. They were Buddhist and my faith had told me that non-believers would not receive the Kingdom of Heaven, but Hell. I was furious at God. I did not want anything to do with Him. I never doubted that He was real, I just didn’t want to talk to him, so I didn’t. Again, my quiet personality tried to deal with my grief and anger by myself which proved disastrous as I fell into a great depression — I had no motivation and kind of gave up on life. Months later, my precious Aunt decided to take me to Mexico during spring break to just get away from everything. For some reason I decided to take my Bible. Half way through the trip, I opened up to John 11.  A passage where Jesus weeps over his friend Lazarus’ death and then later raises him back from the dead. At that moment the Holy Spirit flooded me and I burst into tears. I knew that the Lord felt what I felt, had gone through what I had experienced and that it is not His heart to see death. He brings life, not death; the enemy is what brings death. After that day, the Lord gave me dreams and visions of what I was to do in the next season of my life.

 

I pursued college at home for one year to do an internship at my local church. I found a lot of healing once I decided to open up to mentors and trusted friends about what had been going on with me. I also grew so much in leadership and started to uncover more of what God had for me. After that year, I transferred to Northwest Christian University in Eugene, OR where some of the most transformative parts of my life happened. Having a season to study the Bible deeply, to be in rooted community that held some of my dearest friends to this day, and to be guided in understanding the various ways God speaks. I was training to be in ministry, but not really knowing what that direction was yet. I went through a period of skepticism and untangling some theology that I wasn’t sure of. But that quickly shattered one night during a 15 hour prayer meeting being held in our Campus Chapel.
We were a few hours into the night and during one of the hours we had a time set aside specifically for worship and communion. I distinctly remember, after spending some time in repentance, crying out to the Lord for a better prayer life, hearing His voice and being surrendered to the Holy Spirit. I wanted to know about the Holy Spirit and what this was really about. I was tired of hearing about the skepticism and debates from others, I wanted God to show me Himself. I went up to get communion and after that time, again the Holy Spirit’s Presence came upon me very intensely and I started to speak in tongues! I didnt know anyone spoke in tongues, let alone what the heck that crap was! It scared me, but exhilarated me. I couldn’t stop, or didn’t want to stop for hours. I just prayed in this unknown language. Then I saw Britni, one of my best friends and a writer for this blog, who explained to me what was happening; I wasn’t alone. After that I sought counsel of how to deal with this. God was continually unfolding His mysteries.

 

After college, the Lord gave me dreams of doing missions with YWAM (Youth With A Mission). I didn’t even really know what this organization was but I just was obedient and graduated college early to do my Discipleship Training School. I came in as a haughty bible school graduate who thought she knew everything, and left a rocked, humble, charismatic missionary who never wants to escape the Presence of the Lord and working for His Kingdom. I finally figured out how God speaks in so many ways! I wasn’t alone in how He spoke to me and began hearing Him in the everyday, not just the big ways that grabbed my attention when I was younger. I grew more in of the depths of who God has created me to be, my earthly and spiritual giftings and a ravishing heart to know the Lord and serve Him throughout the world. I was with YWAM for almost 4 years and traveled to over 30 countries working with a broad range of intense social injustices, prayer and worship ministry, evangelism and teaching. God continued to unravel more of his mysteries, his heart for the nations and his character.

 

Then I left for a short season back to my homeland: Tacoma, WA. I knew the Lord had called me to a season of rest, restoration and I’d never admit this until now, but to meet my husband. 1.5 years later, I met the love of my life and co-worker in the Kingdom, Trevor. We have a wild story of after the night we met, we both heard the Lord audibly tell us we were to marry each other. Five months later, we did! We currently reside in Tacoma for a few more years as church planters.

 

The Lord is wild, Sisters. When you surrender your life to Jesus, you won’t know what you’re in for, but it makes your heart leap every step of the way. It’s your destiny to do wild and crazy things for the Lord. It’s your destiny to be a part of His crazy story for us. It’s your destiny to unravel the mysteries He has for you, to hear His voice, and to walk in relationship with Him. Don’t wait, earnestly cry out for Him to show you who He is and what He has for you.

 

Post by: Hilary

 

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03/03/15 Amy , Story # , , ,

Redeeming the Ordinary (Amy’s Story)

Redeeming the Ordinary (Amy’s Story)

Life Verses: Psalm 121:1-2, Isaiah 64:8

It can be kind of hard to write your story when you don’t really feel that your “story” is worthy of telling. When there is nothing fantastic—nothing jaw-dropping—it doesn’t seem like it will make for a very interesting read.

 

Yet God makes the ordinary extraordinary.

 

I was born and raised in a Christian home with parents who loved me, gave me a wonderful childhood, and allowed me many awesome opportunities. I am grateful to have received a college education, marry my high-school sweetheart, and begin my life-long dream of being a mother.

 

Not one week after my second child was born, I found myself on my knees, sobbing in my living room, wondering how in the HECK people do this thing called parenting. Something about that second baby just broke me. But I couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d heard a college professor say: “It’s only when we’re broken that God can put us back together the way HE wants us.”

 

Somehow through the mundane that is ordinary, everyday life, God met me. He showed me how He could be my strength, my purpose, and my steadfastness.

 

I wish I could say that things have gotten easier. My baby became my middle, and he’s now a 30 pound toddler that can throw a fit that leaves me teeth-clenched and speechless. Adding another baby into the mix, making 3 kids 3 and under, translates to a whole lot of loud, messiness, and often times, chaos. While it hasn’t gotten easier, I am trying to accept the new normal—that life isn’t always a cake walk. Each day brings about challenges—some new, and some that show their face quite often. But Jesus offers hope. In speaking with his disciples, he says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

 

In my ordinary story of motherhood, God has taught me my desperate need for Him. Heck, He is still teaching me!  He has shown me how my purpose in Him is extraordinary, and how His desire for me is that I be clay in His hands. He is continually molding me and shaping me into who He wants me to be. The process isn’t easy and doesn’t come without trials and difficulty, but it is worth it. Every bit worth it, to watch as He makes the ordinary extraordinary.

Post by: Amy

 

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02/03/15 Britni , Story # , , , ,

Welcome to the STORY

Welcome to the STORY

Scripture Reading: Psalm 139

“Compassion grows with the inner recognition that your neighbor shares your humanity with you. This partnership cuts through all walls which might have kept you separate. Across all barriers of land and language, wealth and poverty, knowledge and ignorance, we are one, created from the same dust, subject to the same laws, and destined for the same end. With this compassion you can say, “In the face of the oppressed I recognize my own face and in the hands of the oppressor I recognize my own hand. Their flesh is my flesh, their blood is my blood, their pain is my pain, their smile is my smile. Their ability to torture is in me, too; their capacity to forgive I find also in myself. There is nothing in me that does not belong to them too; nothing in them that does not belong to me. In my heart, I know their yearning for love, and down to my entrails I can feel their cruelty. In another’s eyes I see my plea for forgiveness, and in a hardened frown I see my refusal. When someone murders, I know that I too could have done that, and when someone gives birth, I know that I am capable of that as well. In the depths of my being, I meet my fellow humans with whom I share love and have life and death.” -Henri Nouwen

I’ve developed a sort of mantra over the last few years:

What’s human about you is what’s human about me.

We all can relate to feelings of joy, anxiety, fear and anticipation. We’ve all been let down and surprised and felt like giving up. Regardless of cultural differences, age, crime record or skill-set, we’re all still human.

And that’s why I’m obsessed with story. Each person’s story reveals those quirks that make them just another one of us. It’s the power of story that can enable a shy, privileged, teenage girl to have a meaningful conversation with a rambunctious, somewhat sober man in his 60’s who doesn’t have a home. It’s the ultimate unifier, the piece that reminds us that we are one, created from the same dust.

With that reality in mind, we can read Psalm 139 and get a glimpse of the care and delicacy that God used in crafting each and every one of his beloved children, even from the womb.

Our hope and prayer is that over the next month, this community might become a safe place to explore your story, and to allow the stories of others penetrate you in risky and intimate ways. May we allow the beauty and divinity of God’s story that is interwoven throughout all generations truly impact us to our core, to remind us of our very identity as daughters and sons of the King.

 

Post By: Britni

 

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01/03/15 Hilary , Love , Story , Videos # , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blind Love Video

We thought it may be fitting to end with this video as we end a month on LOVE and begin a month on STORY. How has this inspired you tonight?

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01/03/15 Becky , Story # , , ,

Worship with us

Worship with us

As we journey into a month of stories, I thought it fitting to begin with the story behind one of my favorite praise and worship songs. “How He Loves Us” by John Mark McMillan. This month will be one of testimony. We will hear from our readers, tell the stories of our heroes and share chapters of our own lives.

 

John Mark McMillan’s story is a great example of the Lord bringing us from trial to doubt to resolution.

Story behind the Song 

Full Video

 

Post by: Becky

 

 

http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/music/25_Songs_That_Changed_The_Way_We_Worship_Stories_behind_the_songs/48901/p2/

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28/02/15 Day of Prayer , Kylee # , , , ,

Day of Prayer/Worship

Day of Prayer/Worship

Today, please worship the Lord with us while we pray Psalm 136 together as we read the following:

 

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

Psalm 136

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

2 Give thanks to the God of gods,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

4 to him who alone does great wonders,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

5 to him who by understanding made the heavens,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

6 to him who spread out the earth above the waters,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

7 to him who made the great lights,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

8 the sun to rule over the day,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

9 the moon and stars to rule over the night,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

11 and brought Israel out from among them,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

16 to him who led his people through the wilderness,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

17 to him who struck down great kings,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

18 and killed mighty kings,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

20 and Og, king of Bashan,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

21 and gave their land as a heritage,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

22 a heritage to Israel his servant,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

24 and rescued us from our foes,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

25 he who gives food to all flesh,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

lovedare

 

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27/02/15 Hilary , Love Dare # , , , , , , , , ,

Love Endures

Love Endures

*Please note, that when I talk about enduring and suffering through hard times, I do not mean being in an abusive relationship. If you are currently in a relationship that reflects violence and manipulation, seek wise cancel and help right away. 

Today’s Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:7-8: “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love never fails.” Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Endures: “To suffer (something painful or difficult) patiently; remain in existence; to last”.

“Of  all the things love dares to do, this is the ultimate. Though threatened, it keeps pursuing. Though challenged, it keeps moving forward. Though mistreated and rejected, it refuses to give up. Love never fails.” -Stephen Kendrick

How many times sisters have we failed to love? How many times did we not feel like enduring through a trail or betrayal? Maybe a friend, spouse or family member hurt us in some way and it seems that it is our right to walk away. I know I have been guilty of this. There can be hurts so bad that once we walk away we are thankful we may never have to see them again…but the bitterness in our hearts seems to never disappear.

We can truly only love if we understand the unfailing love that comes from the Father. A love that is displayed and freely given to us no matter how much we screw up. A love that hopes in us even when we can’t see it yet, and a love that patiently endures all things – even the worst circumstances. A love that continues to pursue us  even if we decide to reject Jesus all together; he still loves us. WOW.  This love is gifted to us through the fruit of the Spirit working in us. It would be impossible to love someone if we first didn’t witness it from our Heavenly Father and be empowered by His Spirit to do the same to others. But that doesn’t always make it easy, we often have to choose it.

When I think of this word: commitment. We live in a culture that doesn’t seem to value this word very much. We want quick fixes or believe we have entitlement to skip out whenever we deem fit because we feel like it. Or we think we “fell out of love” or that it just isn’t working so why stay? But that isn’t the heart of God, that is not what enduring is. His heart is for us to persevere and endure it – even if that is in suffering during a dry season. We have to be committed to try, to endure and to keep choosing to love. We must fight for love and be guided by the Spirit to help us in the times when we want to throw in the towel.

This can look like a variety of ways. It could be taking extra time to pursue your spouse again. To not just go through the daily grind, but continue to endure in figuring out ways of dating them again. It could look like taking steps towards forgiveness of a friend that my have wronged us. Enduring may be reconciling with a parent that may have hurt you in the past. Or may be you have been reaching out to someone in need and trying to walk through healing with them, but you need an extra ounce of faith to continue to persevere while they take baby steps towards recovery. Often healing and change doesn’t happen over night. Each relationship we have is a unique and special gift. We must endure in whatever season those relationships are in and ask the Lord ways to help recover and mend them through love.

Today’s dare is to ask the Lord what person in your life you need to have more endurance with. Who do you feel like you want out of your life because it would be easier?  Where do you need to refuse to give up on and persue even in the hard times? How can you actively do this? Then write this person down on a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror. Pray for them each day in the next month and watch how this relationship will change.

Post by: Hilary

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26/02/15 Britni , Love Dare # , , , , , ,

Love holds us accountable

Love holds us accountable

Scripture Reading: Galatians 6:1-3, 5:13-14

Accountability is serious business. I think the term accountability partner often gets tucked under the umbrella of  “christian-ese” which unfortunately can rob a word of some of its depth.

Authentic accountability is climbing into the trenches with someone. It means getting to the nitty-gritty and asking the painful, awkward, elephant-in-the-room kinds of questions. And when it’s done right, it demonstrates a level of love that can take your breath away.

Paul encouraged the Galatians to gently and humbly help a fallen friend get on the right path, sharing his or her burdens. He states that this act of humility and compassion is the very thing that fulfills the law of Christ.The “law of Christ” that he mentions is referring back to what he says in chapter 5…it’s the one that he sums up as loving your neighbor as yourself.

When we offer genuine and grace-filled accountability to those who are dear in our lives, we choosing to love by lifting off some of their burden and putting it on our backs. We are taking responsibility for their well-being, and hoping and believing that they might reach the very success that we are wanting in our own life. And accountability, fueled by love, is what enables us to walk this journey together, yearning for the prize that awaits us.

DARE

This love dare might not be one you can accomplish in one day, sisters. But this is where it gets real. I dare you to do one of two things:

1) If you are struggling with the weight of what’s burdening you, and it’s pushing you off the path, seek help. Find someone you love and trust, who you know loves you, and ask them to help carry the load. Knowing the seriousness of what you are asking, ask them to consider and pray about walking with you on this leg of the journey.

OR

2) Ask God to reveal someone who is limping along near you in life, who needs an arm to help them keep moving forward. With the Holy Spirit’s direction and discernment, approach them in grace and ask if you can help them out, with accountability and a whole lotta love.

Post By: Britni

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25/02/15 Becky , Love Dare # , , , , ,

Love Celebrates

Love Celebrates

Scripture Reading: 1 John 4:7-12

As we near the end of our Love Dare, I wonder what you’ve learned this month. Have you taken on any new habits? Praying for those you love, those you have a hard time loving? Are you feeling encouraged or envious? I pray that it’s the former. Our goal is to encourage our readers to love sincerely in all of their relationships.

Today, we will look at what it means to celebrate love. The easy answer is most obviously Valentine’s Day and other holidays when we reflect and spend time with loved ones. But what about the other 360ish days of the year. How do we celebrate love day in and day out?

The apostle John is known as the beloved disciple. Having been in the inner circle of Christ during his time on earth, John got to know love at its source. In his first epistle, John tells us to love one another because love comes from God. In fact, God is love.

First John 4:7-12 is one of my favorite passages in scripture. It’s a celebration of love in itself. We love because he first loved us. Even though we’ve never seen God, if we love one another, we see him in each of us. His love exudes everything!! Doesn’t that leave a smile on your face? :)

Celebrating love in our daily life is not about having roses delivered, fancy dinners or expensive gifts. It’s the grassroots effort of the gospel – loving your neighbor as yourself. It’s telling others about God’s love. I used to be afraid of offending people but one day a friend told me, why would you not want to share God’s love?! It’s amazing! She’s right. Who do we need to shower God’s love upon today? If you are walking with us through this month of love dares, please comment and tell us how it’s going. I hope you’ve been encouraged! Tell us how you plan to celebrate love today. :)

Today’s challenge is to tell someone about the love of God. It doesn’t have to be your full testimony but if you’re comfortable with that, then go for it! It can be scary but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Pray that God will put someone in your path today to share Him with and I promise you, he’ll do it. He wants everyone to know him. Be a part of His mission.

Post By: Becky

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