Tag Archive: speak don’t bleed


This blog is a reflection of a song by Chris Tomlin. Marzani has an important message to share as she gives her testimony of how this song has touched her life in a special way. She gives her insights and challenges us to live a life basking in the glory of God. I hope this post will be a blessing to you today and a challenge to you as well.

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And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?”

These two lines keep repeating in my head, and maybe a few months ago, that’s where it would stop, but this morning it’s moved to my heart, deeper, more meaningful…freeing…so deep that every word touch my soul. These two lines of an ordinary song-to most-is what I made my life-rope today. Yes, ordinary song –the foundation that I CHOOSE for how I’m going to live today…for EVER!

And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us…?
To me this first 7 words holds the biggest ‘power’ ever given to us…well in my heart I would change the word ‘power’ to ‘life’, but to see it we would have to know who God is, and NO I don’t mean know about church, the ten Commandments, I’m not even talking about Christianity ! If I would hide your Bible and ask you, “Who is God to you?” what would you answer…? Easy Question…maybe, but it’s the question with the most dangerous answer, cause how you see God determines how you live, it determines your Happiness, Success, Significance, Fulfillment, Satisfaction, Security, Peace and Fun. If you can’t answer, ALL these things will be messed up in your life…short lived, meaningless, empty!

Growing up in church, with a Pastor for a Dad ,made me think of God as the One who made the earth, send us His one and only Son to die for our sins on the cross, raised up from death after three days and went back to heaven to prepare a place for His children and He will come back again one day to get all who believed in Him…for 17 years that was my answer to the question, “who is God?” I mean come on, I’ve heard it for 17 years!! So I ‘knew’ who God is, and yea He was ‘for’ me, but wow how many things ‘stopped’ me!! Things, people ‘stopped’ me to the point that I hated this God who was suppose to be ‘for’ me, yes . I didn’t want to have ANYTHING to do with Him!!! People lied to me enough, hurt and ripped apart I didn’t need a God lying to me too!! So I let go, I let go of the ‘wonderful bedtime story’ (as I saw it) told in church about a God who died for me and for my sins, cause wasn’t lying a sin? And if so then how could a God that lie, forgive sin.” Yes, that was my thoughts for 6 years, and maybe I could keep on pretending being the “perfect pastor’s daughter’ but I can’t cause I’ve ‘met’ God and He renewed my life, when God is your life, you can’t hide behind a mask no more, you can’t go on being fake, cause while being fake at least 20 THOUSAND people over the world die each day, not knowing God!!

So did God lie, maybe many people would want me answering ‘yes’ to this, cause then letting go is easy, but NO , NO GOD DID NOT LIE!!! GOD is WITHOUT SIN, but then again it wasn’t always mentioned in the ‘church story’, friends share just to get to the next topic on shoes or boyfriends. So if God didn’t lie, and He is for us all who believe in Him, and NOTHING can get us down, what did I do wrong? Or maybe you ask yourself “what am I doing wrong? Why does sooo many things get me down, why am all my dreams, happiness, fun, peace so easily ‘stopped’? WHERE is this GOD who is for me?”

Well He is WITH YOU, UNDER You, BEHIND you, ABOVE you, and if you accepted Him into your life , He lives IN you!! the question is not “where is God’ It is, “Does I understand or at least seek WHO God is?” all that I believed for 17 years , heard in church, it is not WHO GOD IS!!! it’s WHAT GOD HAD DONE…! The wonderful truth about how God send His one and only Son to die on a cross , raised from the death and coming again, that is what God has done and promise to do, cause of WHO God is!!

When you starts to seek WHO God is, you can truly have a relationship with Him, He becomes your best friend, healer, counselor, Dad, guide, King…I believe, have found and declares that when you begin to seek God for who He is, when you begin to know how God sees YOU, I can PROMISE you that NOTHING, NO ONE can stop you, and when you work on your relationship with God , WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HIM, just like you would ‘study’ a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife’s dislikes, likes , dreams , hopes , I promise you’ll see that God really is with you in every breath you take, and you’ll find NOTHING, NO ONE could stand against you!

I wondered, “what’s the toughest thing God ever tried to do?” What do you think was the toughest thing God ever tried to do?

Maybe this answer given by a 10 year old boy is right… “In science class at school, I thought maybe the toughest thing God had to do was create the world. Then in Sunday school we got to talking about miracles, and I thought maybe the Resurrection of Jesus was the toughest thing. But then I started thinking, and I decided no one knows God really well. So now I think the toughest thing God ever tried to do, is to get us to understand who He is and that He loves us…And it took God’s Son to do it…”

God let His son be nailed to a cross not only to forgive us our sin, not only so that when we are hurt, God can whisper, “I understand” but God let Jesus be nailed to a cross to open a way for us to get to know the LOVE God has for everyone of us, He let Jesus die, to open a way for us , so that we could learn WHO God really is …Jesus died for you, He was bruised, bled, killed to help you get to know His Father…would you really turn this ‘died-for’ opportunity down…?

I pray that you will start today to seek who God really is, get to know Him yourself, learn how much He loves you, cares for you… I dare you to open the Bible, get on your knees and let God introduce Himself to you…

“And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?”

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On Grace by Dawn

Below you will find Dawn’s testimony of God’s grace displayed in her life through her struggle and freedom from an eating disorder. I hope that you will find hope in her story and peace in knowing that God’s grace is most assuredly sufficient for YOU!
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God Loves me so much that he sent his son Jesus that I may live… now and always by grace. How can I not sit back and look at my life and not just wonder, in shock, at what God has done and continues to do? I am so thankful that at the end of the day no situation or challenge can change the goodness of the Lord.

For three years I have walked with Him. Three years ago He held the end of the rope that pulled me out of the pit of death and into His shadow of light.  My testimony is posted on a website and this is part of a comment that someone left…. Like the “dawning of a new day” – your testimony heralds the beauty – the sheer wonder of being new in Christ – the old is past; behold all things become new – Oh what a blessing – may the LORD your King continue to use you mightily like a trumpet, to compel all to “Come, dance with our King!”

Use you …Use me….Hear I am, Lord….How many times have I said that to my Daddy? I’m always asking Him to use this Freedom Walker, to use this girl now three years out of brokenness and three years into the light. This past year has been different than the first two years, there were more days, than I have ever admitted to anyone, that I really didn’t want Freedom anymore, that I wanted to throw it all away and seek the guise of thinness. I know the answer to how all these thoughts started? Something so simple….busyness. I got so busy that I didn’t make even small moments of time to spend with my Daddy, He got pushed to the wayside and when the overwhelming feelings of life came I didn’t have the Truth to stand on to fight. Instead I decided I wanted to fight myself and fight my body for control over what I felt like was an out-of-control life. And let’s just say that putting my walls down to seek out the Truth, in the words of wise counsel, was really, really hard. But I had to do it. I had left that struggle in the past.

But hear me….it is a choice. In my life I had to change that I was Supposed to walk in Freedom to Wanting to walk in Freedom. Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). That’s what he wants for each of us. But we have to embrace the truth, so instead of fighting my body I wake each morning choosing to walk in Victory. Walk out my Freedom! I will not let the mirror or the world define me, but I shall speak the Truth of God’s Word. I WILL LOVE ME; I will surrender myself into the hands of my Father, who will equip me for battle. Too often I, still more than I want to admit, measure my beauty by a number. He has already declared me BEAUTIFUL, His chosen and beloved daughter, the one He intimately wants to know and love me beyond any love that I can seek here on earth. I will continue to fight the lies that tie up my thoughts, I know the TRUTH, and I can speak it! The real battle is making sure my Truth doesn’t fall on my own deaf ears and understand that it isn’t always about those around me hearing the Truth but I need to make sure I’m still hearing it myself.

“If you hold on to me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble.” Psalm 91:14, The Message.

Dear Father,

What a journey this has been and I am truly in awe of all you are continually doing in me. One day with you is better then a thousand elsewhere. I know you are good and that knowing you intimately has transformed my life. Give me the faith to walk in freedom and victory.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen

I am totally blog stealing but I couldn’t help it after reading about this idea. I was recently reading this blog about the song by Taylor Swift called “Fifteen”. Do you ever wonder what you wished you knew at 15 that you sure didn’t know!? Well I decided to make my own little list of what I didn’t know at 15 that I wish I did.

When all you wanted was to be wanted. Wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now.

•That foolishness can be overcome.
•That your past can be redeemed and God will transform your past into the most beautiful future.
•That worrying about the size of your thighs will never get you a job but sure can make you lose your job.
•That I’m a Princess.
•That beauty is lending a helping hand.
•That my heart is sensitive and that it will serve me and others well.
•That being single is a gift.
•That being shy makes you wise counsel.
•That Freedom is the best thing ever and I will well up in tears every time I share my story.
•That time really does heal.
•That God would mend my broken heart and reside in all the pieces.
•That I was made for so much more.
•That friendship comes in seasons.
•That my future is already planned out, I just have to walk through it.
•That I’m loved more than I can even comprehend.
•That being approved by man means nothing, I’m already approved by God.
•That embarrassment doesn’t ever end my day.
•That I’m writing my legacy every single second I spend in the presence of my Father.
•That people really don’t notice how much I weigh.
•That people notice what’s in my heart.
•That my broken life can be made beautiful, there’s beauty in the breaking.
•That God has me written on His palm.
•That while I was searching for who I was, God already knew.
•That I am special and there is only one of me.

And the number one thing I wish I knew was…..

that Jesus is my best friend.

“Greater love has no man than this, than he lay down his life for his friend.” John 15:13

Jesus Christ laid down His life for you and wants desperately for you to accept His offer of friendship. He is a friend who never leaves us or forsakes us.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” Luke 4:8-10

“For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.” Romans 5:10 (NLT)

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15 (NIV)

(This blog is written by Dawn, mentor with Restored by Love Ministries and was edited by Stephanie Lampman, Founder of Restored by Love Ministries)

This months post was written by Dawn. I hope that you take what she has to say and be challenged in your own life as you strive to live a life of freedom in Christ.

I remember clearly the moments when I lied to seek attention for my eating disordered behaviors. I remember clearly the day I decided to ‘fake’ a fainting spell due to lack of food in a friend’s house, to garner the desire of love and concern; and more importantly worry. I craved the worry of a friend, the constant ‘How are you’, ‘Do you want to come over’. Those words were what I lived for. I wanted someone to be concerned about my weight, if I had eaten that day, or was I still taking pills. I would scrutinize outfits in the mirror wondering if they made my arms look skinny enough because if it didn’t no one may stare with a look of concern at my wrists.

In some sick way I longed for love and attention, and even if I had to ‘fake’ purging noises or ‘accidently’ leave a spoon by the toilet so my friends would think I was purging regularly I would do it. This gave me the attention that I so desperately wanted but allowed me to get caught up in a tortured life all because I felt like it’s the only way to feel loved. Yet it wasn’t proper love. I had a feeling deep down inside me that the only way I could get attention from anyone was if I was thin and small, weak and frail, I would be easier to hold and hug that way.

Letting go of the identity of your addiction is a very big bridge to cross. I didn’t know how to get attention without it. It gave me life each day to think up ways to get sicker, of ways for others to think I was getting sicker when instead I was actually eating or binging daily. But what were these behaviors really doing for me? They were getting me great immediate attention, that’s for sure. I was taken care of, hugged, was able to sleep on friends couches and had someone holding my hand 24/7. But really what kind of life was this? What was I doing to the poeple that were just simply sharing their own love of Christ to someone that they thought was hurting and needed love? Satan tricks us into thinking that we need to act out in order to fulfill those needs for attention. But it’s a lie. Instant gratificiation works, but long-term it doesn’t. You’ll end up feeling empty and hopeless when peopel start to get frustrated and annoyed at the constant attention seeking. People know when someone is really struggling and when we just want to be cared for. Sometimes we just have to face the reality of it that we can’t find our identities in addictions or in other people.

In the course of my attention seeking I sought some of the most unhealthiest relationships that I thought were the best ever, the constant need to spend 24/7 with the same person, and any decision is only made with the approval of that person. I fell hard, twice, into the trap of a codependent relationship.

The relationships I was in were strong and intense; they were co-dependent on both ends. I needed them for the physical touch of a hand holding and a hug and the worry they did about me. They needed me from a financial aspect and to be a constant go-to for them, the one who could be called in the middle of the night and I would throw on some clothes and be right over. I played savior, when in fact I was the one who was seeking salvation from me. Satan had his hand all over my life, he had it covered. He was smiling as he used co-dependency to feed the feelings that I craved.

As painful as it was and even though Satan can still tempt me I have learned to curb my tongue when it comes to what I say about myself. I have currently worked for several years with what I consider a very close friend without disclosing the gritty details of my past, I can say I am proud of myself to not fall into the trap of getting that sympathy and attention from my past sins. Instead I am loved as a friend because of who I am and what I do right this very day. I am loved because I bring Christ into the room with me. How did I get here? It was weeks of reminding myself that utter helplessness and dependency on Him for my every breath was the only wayh true healing was going to come my way. It was a hard transition into being a responsible adult who cares for themselves as well as others. It was quite difficult to make my own decisions with just the help of God. It required daily renewal of the mind while being fed and filled with God’s Word, being surrounded and immersed by it. Learning who I was, not just ‘Who I am in Christ’ as defined in the Word, but truly learning who I am and how to be me. Something I’d never done. I have found that there is no other way to be filled except through His Spirit. Nothing truly satifies my soul like God does.

Some of the best advice I ever received was that if you need attention then you can do GOOD things, and long term, those things pay off. I can touch other lives and walk out my freedom; THAT is the positive attention that I REALLY need. I don’t want to be the one getting pity and attention instead I want to be the one pouring out compassion. My cup is now filled, my cravings are satisfied by the One who loved me FIRST!

And remember, your Father is ALWAYS paying attention!

There are so many things in this life that we fear. Some of us fear death, some of us fear heights, and the list could go on and on. You name it and chances are someone somewhere is afraid of it. I think as teenagers once of the biggest things we often fear is people. Yes, maybe when you see people you don’t run the other direction screaming, but there is a sense that we take great stake in what people think about us, on whether or not our friends will like us or whether we will be accepted and be in the “in-crowd”. We try to impress each other as if their opinion of us is the only thing that gives us our worth.  If they don’t like us, we are devastated, however if they do like us we are elated. This isn’t something that just teenagers struggle with but I have found myself and I know of other adults who focus way too much on what people think.

It is often said from statistics that people fear public speaking more than death. Why do we fear speaking in public? Because we care about what people are thinking about us and questions go through our minds like what if we look “stupid”, what if I say the wrong thing, what if I make a fool of myself, ect. There is no doubt that the fear of people is a huge fear for both young and old.  But do you fear what other people will think more than you fear what God thinks about a particular situation?

I want to talk to you about two definitions of fear. The first one is the sense I was speaking of earlier which is the fear that leads to anxiety and apprehension while in a certain situation. The second kind of fear I want to talk about is the fear that is defined by a deep respect for someone or something. You see fear in the first sense makes us run away from someone, the second kind of fear makes us run toward someone.

What will it take for us to fear God so much that we want to please Him in everything we say and do instead of fearing people and fearing what they might think? So that’s my challenge to both you and me as well. We need to be so concerned about what God thinks about our actions and who we are so that there is no room for fearing what others might think or say about us. Below are some verses about fearing the Lord more than fearing others.

I encourage you to really memorize this one and make it your prayer.

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;

give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.

–Psalm 86:11

Here are a few others:

Psalm 147:10-11: His pleasure is not in the strength of a horse, or His delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.

Proverbs 19:23: The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

Proverbs 29:25: Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Throwing Stones…

Someone who has been so influencial in my healing is Amy (my former youth pastors wife). Below she shares a spiritual principle that is so vital in our journey toward healing and ultimately our relationships with God and others. Many of us have been hurt and think forgiveness is something so far out of reach. But as Amy reminds us, we are all sinners and no one has the right to judge or codemn anyone but the Lord. So who do you need to forgive? Your abuser? Your friend? Your sibling? Your parents? YOURSELF? Amy reminds us what the scriptures have to say about forgiveness.

“Two of my most favorite passages in the Scriptures both talk about forgiveness and speak to the awesomeness of the free gift of salvation. The first passage is a story in John 8 – a story about a woman accused and rightfully so…she had sinned and broken God’s law. When she was brought to Jesus by her accusers for judgement – he rebuked her accusers and offered her forgiveness. He was the only one who was without sin and could have stoned her, but He said “neither do I condemn you, Go and sin no more.

The same thought is echoed in Psalm 130:3-4, “If You, Lord, should mark iniquities who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You that You may be feared.” No one can stand before Him in our sin, not the woman accused, not her accusers, not me, and not you – except for His forgiveness so that He may be feared – respected, awed, magnified and worshipped.”

God has chosen to forgive us. CHOSEN is the key word. We have the choice to forgive or to not forgive. One leads to peace one leads to misery. We also have the choice to accept God’s gift of forgiveness and salvation or not to accept it. One leads to death and one leads to life. What’s your choice going to be?

A friend of Speak Don’t Bleed by the name of Megan wrote this months devotional blog. Megan has struggled with an eating disorder for 15 years. Just recently she went into treatment and has come out stronger and more equipped to fight the temptations that Satan likes to taunt her with. She wanted to share her heart with you in hopes that it would be an encouragement to other girls who are struggling.

Lift Up the Hands That Hang Down

by Megan

I am coming to a place where the Lord wants to bring further healing. Therefore, the enemy is fighting all the more fiercely against that healing. I am finding myself facing temptation after temptation to slip back into old patterns. I have been so discouraged the past couple days as I have faced fatigue, feelings of frustration regarding food and body image, and feelings of depression and despondence. This is all my resistance coupled with Satan’s attacks against God’s next moves of healing.

Lift up the hands that hang down! I cannot evade this growth point in my life. I face this crisis of belief head-on, or I miss the healing that the Lord has for me at this juncture.

The Lord is no longer satisfied with where I am. It is time to move on and to step into higher levels of healing, to develop the hind’s feet that He has for me so that He can take me to higher heights. Those strong legs will not develop from these feeble legs if I walk around the mountain that He has for me to climb. This is where the rubber meets the road and where I choose which way I will go. I hate it when what was ok before is now disobedience. But this is refinement, sanctification, and maturity. Praise the Lord that He has done so much restoration and has more to do.

In my frustration tonight, I tried to go to bed early. I became horribly sunburned today, however, and could not sleep for the pain. I believe that the Lord used this sunburn to bring me to His throne. He will use anything I suppose. I opened up my favorite devotional, and it fed my soul in a way that was beyond perfect. This appropriate application of scripture doesn’t always happen, but it seems that God brings it in my crises of belief to call me and to convict me. The author highlighted Hebrews 12:12-13, which says, “Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight the paths for your feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way; but rather let it be healed.”

The author of Hebrews calls us to lift up the hanging down hands. He calls us to strengthen lame knees. I think that this is where we “work out our healing.” God desires to heal me; however, I have a great responsibility in that process. Verse 13 says to make straight the paths of my feet and to go in the right direction. I have the glorious responsibility to choose to walk straight forward to the mountain that so frightens me. I must face the obstacle that depresses and frightens me in order to see God’s supernatural healing and power come in the face of it. My healing is not passive. It is active cooperation with Jehovah Rapha.

So many times, I have come to the crisis of belief, felt the pain of brokenness and surrender, and run away whimpering, back to my comfort zone of illness. This time, I am ready to face it head on, drive through it with hands stretched to the heavens, with strengthened feet, walking a path straight forward in obedience up the mountain of testing. The only way to see the walls come tumbling down around Jericho is to keep marching the entire duration of the seven days. What if they had stopped on day six? The walls would have never fallen, and they would have retreated defeated and discouraged. I am called to march forward, with hands raised in worship and feet set in obedience until I see the promise of the Lord come to fruition. I will plow ahead to see the waters divide, the Red Sea open, the walls come crumbling down, and my full healing take place.

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Let’s Go

Are you ready, beloved?

No, Lord. Not yet.

Ok, my love. I will wait.

Are you ready, dear child?

Lord, no, I am too scared.

Child, my love drives out fear, but I will wait.

You must come forth, precious daughter.

But Lord, I don’t know what will happen.
The mountain looks steep.
I cannot imagine climbing it without falling.
How can I ever get to the place of promise?

I have been waiting for you to ask, apple of my eye.
Lift your hands,
Surrender your feet.
Fix your gaze on Me.
Come forth, and we will go together.
Do not delay your healing any longer.

Ok, my King.
I trust you.
Let’s go.

Spiritual Eating Disorders

 I know many of you struggle with physical eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia but is your spiritual life also disordered? There is a book that I have recommended on the Speak Don’t Bleed website called “Graffiti: Learning to See the Art in Ourselves” by Erin Davis. As I was reading through this book, something stuck out to me. In the book Erin talks about our beauty and how it’s affected by media. Erin talks about her struggle with a distorted self image. One of the chapters in the book is about Eating Disorders. One thing stuck out in this chapter of the book…in the chapter Erin parallels physical eating disorders with spiritual ones! So I wanted to devote this devotional to talking about how we can have a spiritual eating disorder and what we can do to be spiritually well nourished.

Spiritual Bulimia

In the book, Erin asks these questions that I think we all need to consider…“Do you binge on Jesus? Do you get filled up at camp or weekend retreats or on Sunday morning and then purge so that you can live the life you want to live? Instead of getting a steady dose of Christ through His Word, do you count on filling feasts of God every once in a while?”

We need to be constantly fed through God’s word, prayer, worship, and fellowship with other believers. This will give us the proper Spiritual nourishment that our mind, bodies and hearts need!

So consider this, are you a spiritual bulimic? What steps do you need to take to make sure you are getting spiritual nourishment?

Spiritual Anorexia (Col. 1:9-11)

Consider these questions, “Do you starve yourself of Jesus altogether? Do you go weeks and months without seeking Him in prayer, fellowshipping with other Christians, or digging into the Word? ”

I don’t know about you but I have had this experience. I have just gotten away from God. Let me tell you, missing one day of spending quiet time with God can throw you off and that one day can turn into a few days and then weeks. We need to be consistently, daily in the Word of God so that we can come to know Him more. He is our Father! What would happen if you didn’t spend time with your earthly father? You feel like you don’t really know him and you aren’t developing that relationship with him, well that’s the same way it is with God!

Are you a spiritual anorexic? How will you take action and get your spiritual nourishment?

Spiritual Stress Eating

Are you a crisis pray-er who runs to Jesus only when the going gets tough? Do you neglect Him when life is smooth but seek Him with urgency when the road gets rocky?

So many of us struggle with this one, don’t we? We just go to God when things get tough or when we need His help. But is this really growing a relationship with your Heavenly Father? How would you feel if your friend just came to you when they needed help and didn’t talk to you any other time?

So are you a spiritual stress eater? What action will you take to grow in your relationship with God?

Just like physical eating disorders can destroy your body, spiritual eating disorders can keep you from having the kind of relationship with God that God desires for us to have.


Interview with Erin Davis about her life experiences and her book “Graffiti: Learning to See the Art in Ourselves”.

1. What was your purpose in writing the book “Graffiti”?

“Graffiti” was originally written as a Bible study for a small group of girls I mentored. One of the girls in the group said that she would really like to learn how to feel better about her body. I started doing some research and couldn’t find a resource that approached the issue with the depth and Biblical insight that I knew was necessary. So, I wrote my own study. That six-week study changed my life. It changed the lives of the girls in that small group, and God has been so faithful to multiply that message. Ultimately, my desire is to see young women understand their value from God’s perspective. They can do that by really digging into His Word to see what He has to say about their value. It isn’t as simple as “God loves you just the way you are.” But He does love you, He did create you purposefully, and He does dedicate a lot of time in His Word to assuring you of your value. My purpose is to use those assurances found in Scripture to help girls develop a sense of value that isn’t shaken by the world’s standards or the opinions of others.

2. What has been the biggest struggle in your life and how have you overcome?

“Graffiti” is really the depths of my heart written down for all of the world to read. By far, my biggest struggle has been to see that I have value that isn’t dependent on what I weigh, what I accomplish, or what others think of me. That struggle has manifested in many different ways in my life including destructive relationship patterns, self-hatred, and disordered eating. Even though I accepted Christ at the age of 15, I still spent years battling anxiety and frustration because I didn’t understand my value. It wasn’t until I really began to study the Word of God that I found freedom in this area. It really didn’t matter what others told me about how God saw me, I needed to read it myself. God’s Word truly is living and active. Once I started reading that living Word and discovered all that God says about me, those chains really started falling off.

3. What advice would you give to girls who are struggling with their relationship with God and understanding their worth to Him?

Read His Word, read His Word, read His Word! That seems like a simple solution for me just to say “read your Bible more,” but I truly believe that His Word has the power to free us like nothing else does. Start reading it with the specific intention of learning what it says about you. It is no overstatement to say that from Genesis to Revelation, God declares your value to Him. I would also encourage you to be very careful what alternate messages your allow into your heart. Everyone knows that the World is pushing for a standard of beauty that isn’t real. But that doesn’t keep us from striving for it does it? Obviously we can’t hide in a hole and never see another airbrushed model again. But you can take some steps to guard your heart. Did you know that 70 percent of the women who look at fashion magazines reported feeling depressed, guilty, and ashamed of their bodies after less than five minutes of flipping through the pages of those magazines? Additional research has linked exposure to the unrealistically thin, young, and often airbrushed female bodies consistently portrayed in the media to depression, loss of self-esteem, and the development of eating disorders in women of all ages. That doesn’t seem like harmless entertainment! Make a conscience effort to get rid of as much of the World’s beauty messages as you can. That may mean that some magazines, television shows, or movies need to go, but I promise it is worth it! Finally, I would encourage girls to find a mentor who loves the Lord and can be a truth speaker when they are wresting with something. I have had mentors in my life ever since I came to know Christ and they have had a huge impact in my development of a women seeking to know and please the Lord. Believe it or not, your mom might be a great mentor (she wasn’t always your momma, she has been where you are!) If not, a friend’s mom might be great. Or your pastor or youth pastor’s wife might be a good fit. Just find a woman who is faithfully serving Christ, is committed to the Truth found in His Word and who you wouldn’t mind sharing a few cups of coffee with. And then…get talking!

 (This devotional blog was written by Amber)

Hey Girls! I’m so excited for the opportunity to write this month’s devotional! Since trusting God was a topic for a chat we had a few weeks ago and since many of you seemed to really be encouraged by the Overcome video that I recently posted on the forum, I thought I’d combine the two to tell you a little about my experience with both. For those of you who have watched the video (and for those of you who haven’t I’ve attached it below) you know that my church over the last two years has endured scandal, murder and terror…and it all happened within the span of 13 months. It started with waking up one morning to find my pastor plastered all over the media and our church, the top headline on just about every newspaper and TV site nation-wide. The details that follow were grueling and are still sometimes hard for me to talk about because the trauma continued for so long before resolution came. But in that moment…in the midst of grief and pain, I had a life-changing decision to make. Would I walk away from the anguish and humiliation we were walking through as a church and find another place to call my house of worship, or would I, with my church family, walk through the valley pained with trauma and fear of not knowing what was to come? I had no idea how long it would take before the trauma ended…I certainly never dreamed it to be a full 13 months, nor did I have any idea that a year into it a gunman would come into our building right after services and murder two of our teenage girls. I’m actually thankful that I didn’t know how long it would endure when I internally agreed to walk it out because I don’t know if I would have made it. But all I could do is walk through one awful day at a time convicted deep inside somewhere by the fact that we were a family, and families stick together.

Through it all, I was in a way forced to lean on God for my strength, because I certainly didn’t have enough on my own.

But I’ll tell you what…I found a new capacity and depth of trusting God during that 13 months than I‘ve ever known before. It took huge faith for me to believe that the humiliation we faced, the reputation that was destroyed, the pain we endured would somehow dissipate and that one day God would lift us out of that place and allow us influence once more. And it was by no means an instant process. A few weeks ago, we experienced the 1 year mark since the shooting and while we’ve healed as a church tremendously, many of us are still walking through the pain on a personal level, trying to decipher how we can ever trust another human, another pastor after such deception for so long. And how you can ever know if a person is truly who they claim to be if the person with the most Christian influence in your life who, in my case had been my pastor for over a decade, had been leading a double life.

How do you trust then?

One of the biggest things we’ve learned as a church is to not put our trust in man, but in God and God alone. And I think that’s something we have to learn on a personal level over time and by experience, but if I can in any way encourage you and bring you a long a little farther so that perhaps you don’t have to experience quite as much pain as I have to get there, I beg you to learn from my experience.

See…it was out of our pain that the song “Overcome” was written and has since become the anthem over our church. Taken from Rev. 12:11, it says, “We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony…everyone overcome!” And I believe the family and core people at our church have done that. It completely amazes me to go to church on Sundays and still see thousands of people gathering to worship God, because according to statistics, with all that happened, our building should be closed down and used for storage. But God had more in mind and how thankful I am.

You too can overcome, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony.

Prov 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” On another worship song (I’m a big fan of worship if you can’t tell) it says, “Here in your presence, everything bows before you.” And as I’ve thought about it during this season of life, it’s become a very comforting concept to me. Think about it…EVERYTHING bows before God…all circumstances, all relationships, all situations…your work, your family, your schooling…all your hopes, your fears, your dreams…the mountains, the seas…your pain, your emotions, your desires to self-harm…everything.

Ultimately EVERYTHING must bow before the name of Jesus.

And when I start to think about all that ‘everything’ includes, I find great comfort. I encourage you girls also, to begin thinking about everything in your life that must bow before Christ. Maybe make a list, surrendering them each individually to God. Recently I’ve found myself laying prostrate on my living room floor telling God (and reminding myself) that everything in my life bows before Him. If you’d like, I’d love for you to join me in doing the same. I think it’s a process…a constant proclaiming to God and reminder to ourselves as we let the truth sink deep into our hearts and lives. I would love for you girls to join me in this journey of trusting God. It’s tough…you must be willing to risk it all. But I promise you it’s worth it.

Lay your life before Him, allowing everything to bow before His name. And together, let’s everyone, overcome!

You can find the Overcome Video on Youtube by following these links:

Overcome Story….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9yoKNzBq3g

Overcome Song….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sjYWrpNoCs

Surrender

What does it mean to follow God? What does God desire from us when it comes to following Him?  Are we willing to surrender to what God has for our lives, even when it doesn’t make sense to us?

These are challenging questions and I say challenging because I’m living with them! God has been showing me so much about what it takes to fully trust Him with our lives. I’m not the most adventurous person so risks are not fun for me! Trusting anyone is not my strong suit either which makes it even more of a challenge. But thank God for His grace in our lives! A story in the bible that has hit me hard in the past couple of weeks is the calling of Jesus’ disciples. They were fisherman, tax collectors, ect., each of them had their own occupation and I’m sure each of them had their own agenda’s for life. But in the lives of two fishermen, Simon and Andrew (two brothers), Jesus came and had a different plan. Jesus tells them to “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Now if I were Simon and Andrew, I would be like, “Who is the man, who does He think He is saying coming follow me? He is crazy!” However, the bible doesn’t say anything about Simon and Andrew asking questions or saying anything like that. The bible says, “AT ONCE they left their nets and followed Him.” Now that’s faith!!! That’s surrender!!! They left everything they had lived for and everything they had trained for, their sole source of income to follow Jesus! God expects the same from all of us. He doesn’t want us to give half our lives to Him, He wants all of us! Every ounce of our being! Following Jesus won’t always be easy, in fact, I think it seldom is easy, but IT IS WORTH IT! It takes denying of yourself…your wants, desires, your goals for something greater….God’s wants, desires and goals for your life.

In Luke 9:23 it says, “Then He (Jesus) said to them all, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

Surrender requires faith! And true faith in God requires a willingness to give ALL! Are you willing???