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Session 4: Laying Down Roots

2 Nov

Receiving is not a passive activity.  It’s pulling up close beside a thing and reaching out by volitional choice for all that is made available.

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,  having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.  Colossians 2:6-7

What will we reach for of Jesus?

Out time is now and our place is here.  Our God, who is a consuming fire, is a blaze within us!  He has appointed us and anointed us to be convinced of Him on the inside and bear the fruit of that conviction on the outside.  We better lace up our hiking boots Girlfriend because we’ve been called to the top of the mountain!

Session 3: “The Everything of Jesus”

26 Oct

Sister, when we come to know Him that way, when we set everything else aside and we get serious about the business of making the “The Everything of Jesus” everything to us – we will leave Miss Layla’s lowest level of heaven in the our rear view mirrors and live life at a height that we have not begun to imagine.

That, Beautiful Reader, is just a glimpse at our incomparable Jesus.

Does He not take your breath away and fill your lungs with holy air simultaneously?

Is your heart not moved to a holy hush and wild exultation at the same time?

Are you not dazzled by the Bright Morning Star, the Light of the World?

May we never get over Him.

 

 

Daughters of the Star Breather!

20 Oct

WE ARE DAUGHTERS OF THE STAR BREATHER!
Made by the Creator of Heaven and Earth, Brought to life by the death and resurrection of the Son, called by name, placed here and now to serve in the army of saints!  Set in against the darkness to absolutely shine!

You are huge to the heart of God and He has given His all that we might be women

  • Steeped in faith
  • Living to love
  • Anchored in hope
  • Fueled with the Holy Spirit to burn Bright!

And here’s what I know Sister –A Holy Fire like that will not be contained!

 

A Body filled with those kind of women, no matter how small, will begin to believe beyond themselves, to love one another in the Name of Jesus, and to stand firm in the confident expectation of the Hope of Glory.

May it begin with us!

Our Roots Are Showing . . . Introduction Parts One and Two

14 Oct

Sister, are you not under attack and tempted at every turn if not to deny Jesus certainly to dethrone Him? The question is how will you respond? Will we trade the riches of Jesus for the things this world has to offer or be women who stand firm in the truth?

DIFFICULT TIMES WILL COME . . .

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

We must live it well in front of the ones who looking to us to forge their future. We must live it well in front of those who are entrusting us to build a faith heritage of life and love. We must hang on to the Isaiah 65:16 God of Truth, cling to the John 14:6 Way, Truth and Life, and grab hold of the John 16:13 Spirit of Truth and refuse to let go.

Praying we find ourselves stirred to action and application as we study the Book of Colossians together!  Have a blessed day Sister!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Might Be Time to Change the Channel!

27 Aug

God tells us flat out in the book of Jeremiah that we will begin to look like the things we pursue. The things we exalt and make the goal of life move from being the thing we desire to possess, to the thing that possesses us. That makes such sense because the things that we love, that we chase after, and I’ll be so bold as to say lust after, control us.

                         This is what the Lord says:

“What fault did your ancestors find in me,
    that they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
    and became worthless themselves. . . . Jeremiah 2:5

Our pursuit shapes the way we use our time, where we invest our resources, and even our friend circle. Not one area of life goes unscathed or escapes the tentacles of our pursuit.

Do not run until your feet are bare
    and your throat is dry.
But you said, ‘It’s no use!
    I love foreign gods,
    and I must go after them. . . . Jeremiah 2:25

Rolling all of this over in my mind and asking myself what I pursue with everything I am and praying in the back of my brain that my pursuit is of the Who and not a what, made me remember a Shel Silverstein poem I used to read to my Sweet Girl when she was little . . . Jimmy Jet and the TV Set.

I’ll tell you the story of Jimmy Jet–
    And you know what I tell you is true.
He loved to watch his TV set
    Almost as much as you.

He watched all day, he watched all night
    Till he grew pale and lean,
From ‘The Early Show’ to ‘The Late Show’
    And all the shows in between.

He watched till his eyes were frozen wide,
     And his bottom grew into his chair.
And his chin turned into a tuning dial,
    And antennae grew out of his hair.

And his brains turned into TV tubes,
    And his face to a TV screen.
And two knobs saying ‘vert.’ and ‘horiz.’
    Grew where his ears had been.

And he grew a plug that looked like a tail
    So we plugged in little Jim.
And now instead of him watching TV
    We all sit around and watch him.

   Shel Silverstein

Quite the cautionary tale! Full of wisdom if we’re willing to take it in. I can’t expect to be consumed with the temporal things of this world and not look like I belong here.  Like this is my country and my home.

Sister, we will be changed by what we run after and where we fix our eyes. We will resemble what we pursue and our pursuit will shape who we become.

creation swap useless tvn ribbet

Lord,
     Let me fix my eyes on Jesus.
     Let me pursue you with everything I am.
     Give me the desire to look like you.
     To be holy because you are holy.

     Influence who I am in the here and now.
     Shape me to be who you want me to be.
     In Jesus Name Amen.

JESUS HAD STORMS . . . WE HAVE JESUS!

25 Aug

John 12:22-28

22-23 Philip went and told Andrew. Andrew and Philip together told Jesus. Jesus answered, “Time’s up. The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

24-25 “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.

26 “If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.

27-28 “Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.’”  The Message

Sisters, these were the words of Jesus as He contemplated the Cross. “Storm-tossed” seems a small term to describe the agony He was about to endure but is it not one we can identify with? The storm of sickness, loss, disappointment? We encounter what we often see as the less-than moments in life and we feel tossed about by our situation.  The water may calm briefly but before we know it the waves have crashed over us again and the tide is rising around our necks.

How often do you and I react with nothing but a strong desire to get out from under the waves and crawl up on the beach?  How often do we long to pop open a beach umbrella and simply sit with our toes in the warm sand, to just be done with the thing rather than ache to fulfill the purpose for which He has sent us . . . especially when our purpose might require suffering?

Do I have what it takes to remain in the water even when I can’t see why in the world I needed to leave my comfortable spot in the sand?  Will you and I stay put, no matter how dark the sky becomes or how choppy the waves, and trust Him to be our Rescuer?

Do we have the courage to live with the pain and strain this temporal world so often dishes out to be part of the kingdom story, the better story, the love story of God?  The answer to this question is absolutely YES! with Jesus

The same Jesus who uttered these words, who stood firm in the face of every life storm . . . lives within us. It is He who will provide the ache, the courage, and the holy desire to fulfill our purpose. He will never leave us to face the waves or stormy waters alone.

God held the water back and led His people through without a single foot slipping.  He’ll do the same for you.  He’ll do the same for me. He will hold despair to the left and sorrow to the right; guiding us through on solid ground straight into the arms of Jesus.

And if we stand at the water’s edge and it seems those stormy seas are refusing to part, then we know and we believe with everything we are that our Jesus is going to pull us to the very top of those murky depths and place our precious feet on top of every wave.

Girlfriend, you hang on to Him as that water rises.  And you know, to the marrow of your bones that if that water doesn’t part, if He doesn’t calm that storm with His hand or speak a word to send those waves away, then your Jesus plans to swoop from heaven straight into your circumstance and lead you through in a blaze of glory because Sister, no life storm can take us where the hand of Jesus cannot reach us!

creation swap storm hand Danielle Hartland 1374

#HeismyLifeGuard

 

Hearts of Love . . . Just for You

8 May

Our beauty is different from one another. Our personalities set us apart and our stories, our moments in time, are distinctly ours.

Sunday we will set some of those moments apart to celebrate Mother’s Day. Our celebrations will be as unique as we are. Some will reflect and remember with great affection as they gaze at an empty chair. Others will consider an unknown bloodline but rejoice in the life they were given by a woman they’ve never known.

My celebration will be with my Mom and my Baby Girl. The two women who more than any others on the planet have my heart. One of the greatest joys in my life is being the one God chose to connect their hearts to one another.

Individually God has done amazing things in, about and through each one of us.

AR-71

But when I slide my hand into my Momma’s and my Baby Girl grabs hold of mine, we move past solitary wonder and with our hands and hearts intertwined we are the holders of a faith legacy and a redeemed heritage that moves beyond the temporal blood flowing through our veins.

Beloved, if you are one who will spend some of your Mother’s Day moments looking at an empty chair or wondering about your beginning, don’t you believe for one moment that your God has left you alone. His plan for you surpasses biological ties and He desires to absolutely surround you with LOVE.

See no matter how different our lives may be or how divergent our beginnings, every single woman who walks this earth shares the unchanging and unfailing love of God. 

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

Psalm 139:14-16 (The MSG)

He knows this life is tough. He knows we need to have a heart beside us in the journey that mothers us. He knows we need someone to pour ourselves into and build up along the way. He knows the importance of being surrounded by people who love us when the ground is crumbling beneath our feet and He knows we need voices to join with ours when we are rejoicing in our mountain top moments.

God knows we need family.

And based on the authority of His word Beloved, I can tell you without a doubt that before time began the God of Glory planned to meet that need.

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.  Ephesians 1:3-6 (The MSG)

He sent His one and only Son, the Firstborn of All Creation, to plant a new family tree and establish a greater bloodline. Jesus, our Messiah, and our Savior, has welcomed you and I to be daughters of the King with outstretched arms.

The heart of God longs to embrace you as His beloved Child and gift you with Sisters who have eternal blood pumping through their spirits. He offers us the way into His family through His blessed Son Jesus Christ. The very One who gave you your unique beauty, your individual personality, and has watched over your every moment has hand-picked a family just for you.

On your own Sweet One, you are beautiful in His sight.

But when you slide your hand into the Sister’s on one side and hold tight, palm-to-palm, with the Sister on the other, when we raise our hands and lift our voices to declare that our family tree is the Cross of Christ, when we rejoice in the Eternal Blood that is our shared heritage, well Girlfriend, we leave beautiful in the rearview mirror and in the unity of the spirit we walk straight into absolutely stunning!

four hands sisters ribbet

Our different lives and varied beginnings knit us together in His Name. We rejoice and we mourn with one another. We laugh and we cry together. We remember with thankfulness, we reflect with sorrow, and we celebrate the here and now.

We radiate the beauty of His strength and we walk through every circumstance shoulder-to-shoulder. We applaud one another’s successes and we lament our losses. We link arms and we stand strong in the love of Jesus and the hearts of the women He has given us.

We trust in His plan, lay down roots at the foot of the Cross and with our hand in His follow Him straight into hearts of Love.

sisters at britt's shower 2 ribbet

The Miracle is YOU!

27 Mar

As I read in the Gospel of John on this Resurrection Sunday, the Love of Jesus and His desire to bring the children of God home has overwhelmed me. I am in awe of the lengths our Savior will go to in order to show Himself to us.

Mary Magdalene sees and hears the voice of angels announce the Good News that He is Risen and then Messiah stands before her confirming what her eyes have seen and her ears have heard. She doesn’t recognize the Man but when the Shepherd King speaks her name . . . her heart recognizes Him and rejoices!

She lingered at the Tomb, aching to be with Him, and was blessed to be the first to hear Him say “tell of Me!” She saw the Miracle, she heard His voice, and she obeyed.

John and Peter had seen the Empty Tomb but they went away, returned home, wondering what had happened. But Jesus never gives up and there isn’t a place that exists that He won’t come after us! He went where the disciples were. He spoke peace to them. He showed them His hands and His side. They believed what their eyes saw and their ears heard . . .and they rejoiced.

Though they left the empty tomb with uncertainty they responded with joy as they heard Him entrust the news of the Miracle to them, “I am sending you! Tell of Me!”

And Sweet Sister, it isn’t just the wandering that Jesus pursues. He goes after the doubting and the demanding. Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples when Jesus spoke peace over them the evening of the Resurrection but they exploded with the good news as soon as he rejoined them . . . “We have seen the Lord!” But Thomas hadn’t witnessed it and wanted personal proof of the Risen King. Until he put his fingers where the nails were and his hand into the side of Christ, he refused to believe. Thomas doubted and Thomas demanded but Jesus was not dissuaded. He came after Thomas. He held out His nail-scarred hands and offered His pierced side to him.

Jesus showed Himself to Thomas. He peeled the doubt away for him in a real and personal way and Thomas responded with belief declaring Him to be the Lord.

The Author of Life called to the lingerer, met the ones who left, and showed Himself to the doubter. Wherever they found themselves . . . HE FOUND THEM and the One who is the Miracle produced a miracle . . . He stirred their souls to believe.

And this is where my heart really starts to race—He did not stop with those blessed to encounter Him as He wore flesh . . .John 20:29-31

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. 

Beloved, those blessed ones, those who may believe and have life, are us!

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  1 Peter 1:8-9

See no matter who we are, the one who aches to be near Him, the one who leaves and goes home or the one who doubts and demands . . . the Savior will find us! He will show Himself to us. He will summon us by name. He will come after us and stir our hearts in real and personal ways.

Our Jesus who is the same yesterday, today and forever still does miracles! Girlfriend, if you have confessed Him as your Savior . . . YOU ARE ONE!

If you haven’t, as long as you draw breath . . . it is not too late to BE ONE!

The stirring of hearts has not ceased. The Miracle story is still unfolding. The glorious conclusion will not be written until the joy of true beginning—faith becoming sight, glory taking shape—is before us. Until then, the pages will continue to be inked with the blood of the Lamb and we who are the miracles will be filled with the joy of the Risen King.  We will go forth in His Name, we will shout His praise, we will rejoice and with every miracle heart beat of new life we will TELL OF HIM!

Jesus did many other miracles AS WELL. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.  John 21:25creation swap heart in bible Marian Trinidad 7896 ribbet

The Carb Queen: My Glimpse of Glory

17 Nov

Nothing else in all of life is quite like looking into the face of my baby girl.  Nothing else produces that beautiful mix of ferocious tenderness I feel as I watch her navigating life and making her way one brave step at a time.  She doesn’t let life simply go by . . . she pulls it up close and lives all the minutes with everything she has.  Time with her Jesus is no exception.  She steps into every syllable of His Word and fully expects Him to the be the God who shows her great and unsearchable things she does not know . . . to be the Savior who will show Himself to her and the Spirit that will lead her into all truth.  True to His promise to be found by those who seek Him, He consistently reveals Himself to be the God of More to her and my heart is never more full than when I receive the 6 a.m. or the midnight text saying, “Mom, you won’t believe what He has let me see!”  Those moments for me are truly a glimpse of His glory and I thank my God for the gift of her every time.

Glimpsed Glory Welcomes

The Carb Queen: Filling up on the Bread of LifeMother and Daughter

 

Tom & Jerry Is Just a Cartoon

(Or What Delilah Taught Me about Perspective, Forgiveness, and Life)

By Britt Biddinger Stechly (carbohydratequeen.blogspot.com)

(To really understand this post, I’d recommend reading Judges 16 – the account of Samson and Delilah – but no pressure)

In ninth grade, my teacher (the regular author of this blog/my mom) had me do an exercise for Language Arts; in it, we read the same story twice. In the first version a starving cat chased down an interloping mouse. In the second, a mouse sought shelter from a harsh world only to be scared away by a cruel feline.

I think the story of Samson and Delilah has always been a cat and mouse story to me. The mean seductress (cat) lures the simple strong-man (mouse) into her arms, only to betray him at a moment’s notice!

Now, I’m not so sure. Maybe the cat isn’t wicked, maybe the mouse isn’t scared, maybe things aren’t as black and white as they once appeared and our characters are all dressed in layers of gray.

Delilah was, likely, a prostitute. Samson was “in love.”

Delilah isn’t Samson’s wife and she’s never recorded as having said, “Samson, I love you so much! Tell me how you can be bound so that I can help you guard against it, darling!” Nope.

Samson just keeps falling asleep at her place, likely after sex he paid for; despite the fact that he’s leaving himself pretty much defenseless. Delilah doesn’t seem like she’s even trying to be particularly sneaky.

He tells her how to bind him.

He wakes up bound exactly that way.

He keeps coming back to her.

I don’t think he returns out of love, but arrogance – I believe he forgot where his strength came from and thought no one could take him down, particularly not some random girl.

According to the Word, Samson had never known a life void of blessing. Literally, from the womb he was called and celebrated. I think it went to his head; he thought he was strong, but the truth is (ready? I’m about to blow your mind)

Samson was never strong – GOD is strong.

Delilah repeatedly asks Samson, “Why do you mock me?” but the only one Samson mocked is God. Samson continues spitting in the face of his calling over and over, utterly unafraid of the consequences.

In Samson’s story, Delilah is surely the living embodiment of the Woman Folly Proverbs warns against (Proverbs 9),

but she is not the villain – Samson’s pride is.

In her story, Delilah was almost certainly not a prostitute by choice. She was most likely sold into sex trafficking by her own family, to pay off their debt. She was in a horrible situation that wasn’t her design, in a godless country, and suddenly an opportunity to make so much money off just another dopey John falls into her lap and she takes it – maybe it was even enough money that she got to go home afterward. We’re not told that.

But one thing is for sure: Delilah was shown that money is the most important thing – certainly more important than her life – so why wouldn’t it be more important than some random guy? Sure he “loved” her, but it isn’t unlikely that a lot of men had “loved” her. She probably didn’t even know about his calling – he wasn’t acting like a Judge set apart to lead God’s people and she clearly didn’t know the Nazarite Vows. All she definitely knew about him was that he was freakishly strong and, if she could be responsible for his capture, he was her meal ticket.

She’s more than a prop in Samson’s story; she’s Rahab if God hadn’t intervened. She’s a poor, scared, probably teenaged girl who desperately wants out of a life that she didn’t choose.

Delilah is RahabDelilah isn’t a villain; she’s a victim.

She was taken advantage of by countless men – including one who was world renowned for his strength – so she took advantage right back.

I’m not saying Delilah did a good thing, but I truly believe that she wasn’t the one outside the will of God; Samson was.

In fact, if she were the “hero” of the story, it might even have been said that God used a sinful, wayward man to lift her out of a life of slavery and poverty. But she’s the “villain” so we don’t get to know what happens to her.

Maybe she was an evil temptress; but no one is born that way. Maybe she was a corrupt opportunist; but can someone who is a victim of a corrupted system, trapped at the whim of any man with enough money, ruined in the eyes of her society, really be blamed for this particular situation?

Or should it be the Judge of Israel, anointed by God and blessed with greater physical strength than any man, be held accountable for his arrogance, stupidity, and weakness of character?

In any case, God loves “Delilahs” and “Samsons”.

He loves all mess-ups and ragamuffins. We can place blame anywhere we like, but Christ covered it all with forgiveness.

So pray for the Delilahs in your life because with God’s healing they can become Rahabs. Never forget that no one but the Devil is a villain; everyone else is a soul God wants to see saved and

He can and will redeem any story.

Even Delilah. Even Samson. Even me. Even you.

But never let the Devil trick you, my love – you are not a Delilah. If you are a victim of circumstances far outside your control or have done things you are not proud of, you are still a Rahab!

You are chosen.

You are loved.

You are called.

I’m going to say this again,

God’s faithfulness CAN and WILL redeem ANY story.

Lean into that.

Let Him love you, rather than take advantage of you. Let Him take care of you, rather than use you. Let Him redeem you, instead of defile you.

You are worthy & you are loved & you are beautiful & you are enough & God has a plan for YOUR good, sweet lady. Let that sink into your very bones; allow it to fill you up and comfort you like a really good latte.

The world isn’t black and white, you’re not a cat or a mouse, you’re a complex and wild creation of the Author who longs to lavish you with a plotline far beyond your dreams or fantasies. It might not be easy but, because of God’s faithfulness, you can be assured of a happily ever after.

Carbohydrate Queen

*Thank you to BibleGateway for making the word accessible from one generation to another!

Unresolved Anger and Unhindered Grace . . .Which will you wear on your sleeve?

23 Oct

Ephesians 4:26-27

26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.

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