When God Reveals More of Who He Is

“Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; For the Lord will be your everlasting light and the days of your mourning shall be ended.” Isaiah 60:20

My fourteen-year-old daughter and I had gone away for a three-day girls’ trip to the beach. It was much needed time away. Three days of sand, peace, tranquility, mixed with laughter and joy. Ocean waves crashing over and over swept away every thought, washing away all the cares of the world. It was complete bliss.

The only complaint during the whole trip was that it was overcast. We saw the sun but perhaps a moment the entire three days. My daughter’s dream of a tan dashed. And at night, we went out on the beach in hopes of stargazing, but again, only darkness as clouds blocked out the moonlit sky. No twinkling little stars to be seen.

My daughter loves stargazing and sun-bathing. This lack of light was dampening but still we relished in the solace of ocean waves and sweet moments of togetherness.

On day three of no sun, I sensed my daughter’s disappointment. She loves sunrises and we had risen early with hopes to catch a glimpse of the sun as it rose above the horizon, carrying with it glorious shades of orange, pink, and gold. But again, we saw very little as clouds covered the beauty that laid beneath. We had prayed for sun. Where was it? What is with all these clouds?

Sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we think He should because He wants to reveal something new about who He is.

That morning oceanside, I flipped open my Bible and the Lord led me to Isaiah 60:19-20.

“The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you;

 But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory.

Your sun shall no longer go down nor shall your moon withdraw itself;

For the Lord will be your everlasting light and the days of your mourning shall be ended.”

This word. This passage. The timing.

This passage may be referring to heaven where there will be no need for a sun or moon because of the Light of His all-surpassing glory will fill the whole earth and there will be no more mourning. But could it also be that that Lord wanted to use this passage to reveal more about who He is to me in this moment? And that the lack of light in the natural set the perfect stage for Him to reveal something in the spiritual?  A now word- A Rhema word.

He says He is the Light of the world.

If He is the Light and the sun and the moon are not needed for us to have light, does this mean that no matter what is going on around us or how dark a situation looks or how overcast it appears to be on the outside, we can be full of joy and hope because it isn’t dependent on our circumstances?

Yes. I do believe that is the message the Lord was speaking that day.

I do not know if He kept the clouds over the sun and the moon to make this point, but maybe He did. He does love us that much, to not answer our prayers for sunshine so He can show a new facet of who He is. He is the Light, He is our Light. His is a Light that never goes out and never goes down. It is always present. He is the everlasting Light, always with us showing us the way and leading us.

Could it be then when we have this revelation of who He is and that His indwelling presence fills us with His Light and joy, that is when the days of mourning shall be ended. Not because there isn’t something to mourn but because His light within outshines all else.

His Light is eternal and though darkness fills this earth, His Light shines in and through us. He is the Light.

On a funny note, I shared this message with my daughter, who wittily replied, “That is nice that God is our sun and our moon, and our Light, but can He be my tan too?” 

There might be another lesson in that another day. ; )

Dear Lord, thank you for revealing more of who you are! Thank you that no matter what is going on around us or how dark the world around us gets, you are the everlasting Light. Thank you that you are our sun and our moon and stars. Help us to see Your Light all around us and be the Light within drawing others to you and your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application Questions:

  1. Can I recognize or remember a time when God did not answer a prayer like I thought He would, but He revealed something more about Himself to me?

2. Is there a situation in my life where God seemingly hasn’t answered that I can ask what is He saying to me in this?

3. How has God shown you He is Your Light?

Would love to hear from you in the comments as you consider these questions!

His Steadfast Love

There are many Deeper Still Retreats happening across the nation this weekend. In preparation for a Deeper Still retreat I am serving on, our worship leader asked the team members to each come up with one retreat example that is evidence of God’s enduring steadfast love.  I wrote this poem in the spirit of Psalm 136 because I couldn’t come up with just one. Will you pray this Psalm with me for the participants coming to all the retreats this coming weekend? May each of them through the course of the retreat, come to know His steadfast love in deeper and deeper ways.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,

for His steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of grace,

for His steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of love,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

to Him who alone heals the abortion-wounded,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

to Him who by wisdom formed every child,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

to Him who made them moms and dads,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

the Son to rule over their hearts,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

their lives to reflect His light,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

to Him who brought their stories out of darkness,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

and brought shame out from among them,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

with a gentle hand and an outstretched arm,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

He beckoned the weary and heavy laden come,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

and willingly died for their every sin,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

to break their chains with His blood,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

to make beauty from ashes,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

and collect every tear in His hands,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

To Him who is full of mercy,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

He breaks their every stronghold,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

past sinful relationships, every one,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

and places where little lives ceased,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

and gave them songs of praise and rejoicing,

for His steadfast love endures forever.

It is He who remembered their sin no more,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

and rescued their babies unto Himself,

for His steadfast love endures forever;

He who saves them to serve Him,

for His steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of freedom,

for His steadfast love endures forever.

Yes Lord, we thank you that your steadfast love endures forever. We ask for you to meet every single participant this weekend with your ever enduring steadfast love. Lord, we pray for you to speak life, hope, and healing and bring them into deeper more intimate relationship with you. We ask for open heavens over all the retreats and they would hear your voice clearly whispering your love and kindness. Give them courage to walk through the depths as you lead them in your way everlasting toward hope, healing and lasting freedom. In Jesus’ Mighty name, Amen.

www.godeeperstill.org

“I would NEVER have an abortion.”

I grew up in church and asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior at five years old. I can remember that day like it was yesterday. My brother and sister were at school and I was home with my dad. I asked him if he would help me get saved. I cried and cried tears of joy after we prayed and I wanted to tell the world about Him.

I also grew up with a mother addicted to pain medication, so I was exposed to a lot of trauma for as long as I could remember. After living years and years with an addict, it took its toll on me as a young girl just trying to find her way. I became very angry with God and eventually fell away from Him after my dad was put in jail. He was trying to keep her from driving under the influence and wouldn’t give her the car keys. My mom called the cops and they believed she was a victim of domestic violence. This was not true. I witnessed the whole thing. This sealed the deal in my mind that I was done following a God who would take away the one parent who actually loved and protected me.

For years and years I compromised every value I used to hold dear. I found myself pregnant the summer before my senior year of college. While I had been running away from God for years, I could have never dreamed of having an abortion. I knew it was murder and I knew that it was a life. In fact, I grew up with an aunt who was tormented emotionally for years from participating in four abortions. I watched her involvement with pro-life ministries’ nearly my whole life. I saw the damage that abortion brings. I would NEVER have an abortion.

I was not prepared mentally or spiritually for what was about to happen to me. The person I was in a relationship with, the person I trusted, refused to have that baby. This stung, BAD. I was so close to my own father that it broke my heart to think I could have a child whose own father wanted nothing to do with them. But I still wanted to figure out how to have this baby. It became increasingly impossible as his family continued to pressure me into having an abortion. I felt alone. I felt helpless. I felt defeated. After his grandfather mailed him a check for the exact amount, I went numb. I knew it was happening and I gave up. I told him if he wanted it so bad, he would need to make all of the plans, take me there, and figure it all out on his own. He did. He dropped me off and told me not to look at the people on the sidewalk trying to persuade me there’s another way.

I took the pill. I got in the car, looked out the window in silence and for the first time felt I was living in a nightmare. I felt the weight that I was officially living hell on earth and I had made the biggest mistake of my life.

Not long after, I found my way back to God as I had hit my personal rock bottom. For five years, he would continue to refine me and set me back on a path to Him. I found myself again and it was in the arms of Jesus.

At this point, my aunt and grandmother had found an amazing ministry called Deeper Still. Every time I went home to California they would talk about what God was doing and their search for the right property to hold their own chapter. It would eat me alive listening to them and also make me so happy they found their calling. I knew I was forgiven by God, but there was no way I could admit to my family that I had an abortion too. I didn’t want to ruin the way they saw me. I couldn’t bear for them to know that after all of the years of them fighting against abortion, I went and made the same mistake.

But all glory to God, because He knew I was only operating in half the woman He created me to be. Before their first official retreat on the new property, my grandma’s knee had become injured. My dad was originally supposed to help her in the kitchen to serve the guests, but near last minute, some men decided to attend the retreat. This meant my dad needed to help the men’s team and that left my injured grandma alone in the kitchen. My aunt felt lead to ask me, mind you I live in Colorado out of state, if I would be interested in serving on the team in the kitchen. I can remember thinking how I had been praying for their ministry, but definitely not for myself to be there. But God knows us so well and He knew that to get me to that retreat, I’d have to think I was helping my grandma. I agreed because I wanted to obey what I felt was God’s calling. But in the coming days, I was sick to my stomach knowing I had this huge secret that no one knew about. I knew there was no way I could go serve at an ABORTION retreat, side by side with my family, when I couldn’t even say the word abortion out loud. I prayed and knew I needed to first call my dad, be honest, and let them decide. He then told me I needed to call and tell my aunt. I was so embarrassed, but I trusted God. She was gentle. She told me she thought I should attend the retreat, but that she needed to discuss it with the team because they were full. Even just simply telling the truth out loud to my family had lifted a weight. This was only the beginning.

It was decided I needed to first attend my own retreat before I could serve on the team. So what started with helping in the kitchen ended with the most healing experience of my life; a part from the day I asked Jesus to come into my heart.

What Jesus did for me at that retreat I’ll share on my next post. I’m so thankful for the redemptive work of the cross of Christ. I am a life changed through Him and His ministry through Deeper Still.

Waiting on the Lord…

“Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like Eagles. They shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint. Teach me Lord to wait.” Isaiah 40:31

As a mother, we want the very best for our children, especially their “yes” in receiving our Lord and Savior into their hearts. My youngest child was certainly not wanting anything to do with following Christ. She was driven by past trauma to stay away from anything Jesus.

In July 2019, she had something happen to her that caused her to sink further into a state of depression that medicine couldn’t help. Only Jesus could be the answer for her devastated heart. She was searching and involved in everything but Him. It was reeking havoc in our home.

I had been praying for her salvation for several years. But now, I was praying for her life. See, she wanted to die. This situation, for me, gave a whole new meaning to waiting on the Lord.

One night in particular, I felt I was in the middle of a nightmare and couldn’t wake up. I went into my “shecave” and was crying like a baby, a ocean of tears were pouring out. I cried out to God saying, “Where are you? I have nothing left to pray. Please give me a scripture, something, anything to give me hope.” All I could say was His name, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” I heard Him say, “Psalms 46.” I scrambled for His Word in desperation, hungry for what He had to tell me concerning this situation.

Psalms 46:1 states, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” I was sure knee deep in trouble and needed strength only He can give. I continued to read and there it was verse 10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” He was telling me, “Wait on Me, I am God. I will deliver.”

Have you been waiting on the Lord to answer you concerning something you specifically want from Him? In our fast pace culture we want everything handed to us right now. We do not like to wait. I know I don’t! Patience is not a virtue I tend to have. We get impatient and forge ahead of God like we are in a race. By the time we have done all we can do and not seeing an answer, we become exasperated, as I was.

When we feel He isn’t answering us quick enough, we start out by fussing to our Heavenly Father, which eventually turns into us having a full blown toddler fit! I know I was having a tantrum that day. I felt I was kicking and screaming to get His attention.

He listens so patiently, then lovingly says, “Wait on Me; Be of good courage, I will strengthen your heart; Wait, I say wait on Me!” Psalm 27:14. In this particular verse, He tells us three times to wait. In the last sentence, He reiterated twice, He knows something we don’t. He most definitely can handle it on His own and so much better than we can. I tend to get in His way.

So instead of getting all bent out of shape, frustrated, beside ourselves with worry, anxiety, and anger, what lesson can be learned? I learned to trust Him and believe His word. I had staked a claim over my family. “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15b. I had to trust that He would bring this to pass.

I drew closer in the waiting. I prayed harder than I believe I ever have for someone or something. All I needed to do was rest in the bosom of Jesus, clinging to Him in the waiting. I decided (even though I could still get in worry mom mode) to rest in His loving arms.

We know He works things to our good, so why fret. I was doing my best to not get in God’s way or be fretful. I know He is faithful and trustworthy, so I laid her at His feet, waiting on Him. (So very hard to do for this control freak).

In July, 2020, my precious daughter gave her “Yes” to Jesus. Now this momma was shouting Hallelujah from the mountain tops. Her life changed that day. My dear friends let me tell you she is on fire for God. She has been at YWAM, a discipleship training school for the last 3 months. She will be going to Tanzania in July of this year for 6 weeks on a missions trip.

See God knew something I didn’t. He knew just how to draw her to Him and He did just that. Of course it wasn’t on my time frame, but His. His timing is perfect. So be encouraged in the waiting…..

Lord Jesus, help us, while in the waiting, to trust You, to draw closer to you, knowing you are in control. Teach us Lord to wait on You because Your timing is perfect. Amen

The Tattoo My Daughter Wants

And through Him (Jesus), He reconciled all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:20

Dry heat engulfed us as we walked the streets of our vacation destination. Around every corner the word “TATTOO” jumped off the buildings, catching the eye of my teenage daughter. A conversation was sparked with our family as to what tattoo we would get if we ever ventured into one of those obscure shops. Mostly the talk was light as we fluttered around different ideas, tossing them into the air and went on our way forgetting the thoughts nearly as quickly as they were muttered. Until my daughter said hers. Her idea wasn’t a whim. This one had been formulating in her mind and simmering there for some time. Her idea arrested me as soon as the words were uttered.

My daughter simply said, “The tattoo I want is the word ‘Sister’ surrounded by a heart.”

To the random person overhearing this conversation, this would seem perhaps odd, but then it would be brushed off and reasoned away that she is a sister of two brothers wanting to proclaim her sisterhood to the world. For me, however, this was no mystery, the reason for this tattoo was clear and heart stopping.

Thankfully no one asked why and everyone went on with other conversations, going to the next topic. But this comment lingered in the air, not easily forgotten like the others. This one hovered and is likely not going anywhere until it perhaps lands on her arm or ankle one day.

Today is the anniversary date of when I had my abortion, or more accurately, when I choose to end the life of my first child. Harsh perhaps, but true. It was twenty-eight years ago. Many who have had an abortion suffer when thinking of the anniversary date, but the Lord has redeemed this date for me in so many ways. I actually rarely think of it but knowing it was coming gave me reason to want to write this post.

For years I have written about how abortion impacts lives and hearts, but the sibling component isn’t discussed much in post-abortive or pro-life circles.

Abortion impacts the siblings of the child lost. Being very open about my abortion, I knew it was important for my children to hear about it from me. All three of my children know. Also, I didn’t want to hide my past from them. Secrets are never free.

My teenage daughter, who has a very tender and sensitive heart, has commented on her sister in heaven many times and even has a stuffed bear in memory of her. She loves her sister and like me, looks forward to meeting her one day. My heart breaks a little every time I hear her say something about how she wishes she had her sister here. But she must grieve, as we all must, those we love and lost. It is healthy to grieve and recognize the loss.

I have had much emotional healing in regard to my abortion, so much in fact that it can be possible for me to forget that part of my past and story. It feels like a lifetime ago and I am a different person now, made new by the blood of Jesus. But events like this one are good for me and it is good that I feel a slight twinge when I hear my teenage daughter’s covert pain. To not feel anything would be more concerning and dishonoring to my daughter in heaven. She is a real person. Sometimes it is easier to forget, but I am thankful for the times of remembrance. Her memory is worth more than being tossed out into the wind, forgotten as a careless word on a hot day.

The promise of eternity and of meeting her one day fills my heart with joy and lifts me to a place of peace, resting in the ever present assurance that our God is big and amazing and nothing is too much for Him. No sin is too beyond His forgiveness and no breach of relationship is beyond His repair. We are reconciled to Him and the glorious hope of reconciliation with our lost ones safe in His care.

My teenage daughter may or may not get a tattoo that says “Sister” on it (I’ve asked her to wait until she is at least eighteen) but regardless of an external mark, her name, Kori Danielle, is tattooed on our hearts forever. We love you Kori and look forward to the day we can meet you. We honor you.

Father, we thank you for the glorious hope of eternity. We thank you that while we were still sinners, you loved us and sent Jesus, our Savior for us, and Christ died for us, so we could live forever with you. Thank you that no sin is too big and no breach is too wide. Thank you that the cross and blood of Jesus made a way for us. Lord, we pray for all those who have lost a child to abortion, that they would find hope and healing in you. And we pray for those who have lost siblings to abortion, that you would comfort their hearts and give them reassurance of the hope in you. For those reading this today who haven’t thought of this component before, we ask for your grace to cover and healing balm to soothe hurting hearts. Take us deeper in our healing, knowing you in deeper ways. We love you Lord. Thank you for loving us so well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

In Case You Missed It!

In 2013, I attended the Deeper Still Fundraising Banquet for the first time. My friend, Emily, invited me. When I received the invitation, I didn’t need to think or even pray about it, I had been waiting for her invitation. I was an immediate yes, I’m in! Every year since for the past eight years there has been a night I join in getting all gussied up, put on my best, and gather with others in a full room to hear testimonies of God’s goodness, redemption, and healing at the Deeper Still Fundraising Banquet. It is a night I personally look forward to every year. This year it looked a bit different.

There were no linen tablecloths, no flower arrangements, no stage or podium. This year it was in the comfort of our living rooms. Instead of evening gowns, we adorned night gowns, and instead of suits, cozied in jammies. The testimonies were as powerful as ever! I watched in the comfort of my living room with my family, which consists of 3 teenagers, my husband and a goldfish named Squishy. Not sure what Squishy thought of it, but my family loved it!

Our oldest son, Joe, who is 18 years old had this to say, “It was very moving to hear a man talking about the bears, his vulnerability was so brave.” What a powerful example of the strength of vulnerability. I was so thankful my teenage sons could hear this man’s story. All three of my kids were moved by what they heard.

We know life is busy and you may have missed it Tuesday night! But another bonus to a virtual event is it can happen over and over again with just the click of a mouse!

My life changed in 2013. I was never again the same. I said yes to a banquet, attended a retreat, and 8 years later, I still love how the Lord moves and works in this ministry. Since that night, I have served on countless retreat teams, traveled to other countries, and the Lord continues to blow me away with His heart to see His beloved free, healed, and whole.

My hope is that I’ve peeked your curiosity! My prayer is that there is a yes in your heart to this invitation! You are invited!

To watch, just go to www.DeeperStillBanquet.org

If you feel led to give to the ministry of Deeper Still, we’d love to have you partner with us!

Three ways to make a donation towards our 2021 Banquet:

Scan the QR code below with your smartphone camera and open the link that pops up at the top

OR you can click here https://secure.egsnetwork.com/donate/D54D27AF4AAA4B9

OR by visiting  www.DeeperStillBanquet.org  to Give Online

Your donations allow us to do our retreats free of charge and support the staff of the Deeper Still Home Office in Knoxville, TN as the Lord continues to expand this ministry across the nation and the world. Our God so longs to heal the broken hearted and set the captives free. It’s why He came! Thank you for investing in the Kingdom!

Surely, You are Good to Me, O God- A Wisdom Psalm

Scripture reference: Psalm 73

How can I not believe after everything I have seen? Even on my darkest days, I can look back and see how you protected and provided. Surely, O God, you are good to me.

Before I knew You, I longed for love and belonging. My feet took me faster than I was prepared, and my heart didn’t object; my heart said it was safe, but it is deceitful above all things. I scratched and scavenged the surface of every relationship for care and devotion, but came up with nothing. I gave up so much and got nothing in return. All of me was gone, but the others- they thrived. Like a white-washed tomb, I was prepared for burial. Empty. Why God?

Why was I the one wondered? The hateful and deceitful prosper. They are loved and cared for by many, their children are successful and popular, their wealth climbs. Their mouths are full of lies, but still power follows them. Are you really there, God? If you can hear me, do you love me? How can you love me, and love them? The ones who boast and brag. Why can’t I find love and belonging? It’s not because I haven’t searched, because I have. But every time I came up with more of the same. Every person I have ever loved has failed me…why should you be different?

Incredibly sad and empty, I couldn’t recognize myself. I tried to pretend I was fine with a fake smile; an achievement; a distraction. God was ignoring me, I knew it. Even if he existed and saw other people, I was invisible to him. Just like I had truly been in all of my other relationships: invisible; disposable; detestable. I couldn’t look at me, so how could you?

Then I turned to you, God. In a seemingly ordinary moment, I heard your voice and turned. This was the first time I felt your voice from a place indescribable. I was wearing blue; fake pearls for good measure at the banquet, when I heard “I forgive you”. I shuttered and goosebumps covered my trembling arms. In that moment I was crushed under a lifetime of regret, and you forgave me. What was I doing at this banquet? How am I sitting in the presence of people who, if they knew what I did to my baby, would banish me. Jesus’ face hung on a painting on the stage, and his voice hung in my heart. “I forgive you”. I didn’t know it then, but I needed to forgive myself. God had done the heavy lifting, the rest was up to me.

Overwhelmed, hope consumed my darkened heart. Maybe things can be different…

But you, God, were always there. Weeping over my messes. Feeling the pain of my losses. In the moments that I dared say “if there is a God, then kill me!”, you stayed. Waiting. Knowing a day would come when I would stop talking and listen. It is by your grace that I am here. Held together because you haven’t let go; you haven’t dumped me from the palm of your hand. I was always loved; always wanted; and chosen by you. I couldn’t see it from the depths of my sin and shame. I was blind, but now I see.

You are for me, O God. I have a home in heaven where all the striving will finally stop. I have everything in the saving blood of Jesus. If nothing else goes my way in this life, I will still have all I need in you; still more than I deserve.

When it all looks bleak and dim, Your presence warms. I can feel the warmth of eternity and can rest in the promise that there is more than this. More than any eye has seen, or eye has heard. More than any man can fully know.

“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds”.

Prayer for those at the Deeper Still retreats this weekend: Lord, meet them in their lowest point of pain. Father, show them more of who you are and who Jesus is. May they hear you whisper in your unfailing love, “I forgive you”, and may they forgive themselves. We thank you that you promise to comfort those who mourn and heal the brokenhearted. Meet each person on the retreat in a personal and powerful way. We ask for freedom and healing for each of your daughters and sons attending. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Lori’s Story {Chapter Leader Spotlight}

Today’s post is written by Lori Nzvrodtzke, Deeper Still Chapter Leader for Southern AZ.

Lori Navrodtzke lives in Tucson. She received a MS in Professional Counseling and MS in Addictions Counseling from Grand Canyon University in 2013. She has been the Chapter Coordinator for Deeper Still of Southern AZ since 2016, has worked at Hands of Hope since 2006 where she currently serves as Recovery Services Manager. Lori has a passion to see women and men healed from abortion as well as other traumatic experiences. 

Thank you Lori for sharing part of your story with us today!


1984 was 37 years ago. When you think back that far can you remember specific details of what a particular day was like? For example, can you remember exactly what was going on throughout your day 37 years ago today? I can.

I was picked up in the morning. We drove to the bank for me to withdraw $250 in cash. Then we drove to the clinic. The whole time I was in the car I looked out the passenger window. Crying silently. Feeling sick. Wanting to be doing anything but this. In my head begging him to say I didn’t have to do it.

We arrived. On the outside it didn’t even look like a clinic. It could have been any business along that stretch of road. I wondered if the people across the street in the park knew what was happening through those doors.

We entered the building and went to the counter. No ID was needed. They took my money. I signed a piece of paper without reading it. We went to the waiting room. There were others there–some alone, some not. No one talked. There were no TV’s, no magazines. My name was called. I went back and he left. I changed into a hospital gown and put my clothes in a locker. I was brought to the room and prepped. The doctor didn’t even tell me his name. He just sat down and started. It was painful. I started to cry but forced myself to stop.

It was over in about 15 minutes. The doctor left and I was brought back to the locker and told to get dressed. I was brought to a room with several cots lining the walls. There were several of us in there, but no one was talking. Some were lying on their cot, some were crying. About 20 minutes later we were all given a bottle of antibiotics and escorted to the back door so we could leave. I waited outside for a while before he picked me up. This is where some things start to get blurry–because I had become emotionally numb. Something horrible had just happened and I couldn’t, or didn’t want to, deal with it.

I will always regret that day 37 years ago, but I can share this part of my life openly because God healed me. There’s no more guilt, no more shame, no more anger. Do the memories make me sad? Yeah. Do I still cry? Sometimes. But I know without a shadow of a doubt that God has forgiven me, the baby I lost to abortion in that clinic is in heaven, and I’ll see him again someday. And I’m so very grateful God has used my story to help so many women and men who have been impacted by abortion.

If you haven’t been involved in an abortion, I can pretty much guarantee you know someone who has, but they may have never told you about it. Until healing occurs this is usually a closely guarded secret.  Not because someone else says we should be ashamed, but because many women make this choice because they feel they have no other choice. Not talking about it is a way to avoid dealing with it. I am so blessed to work for an organization (Hands of Hope Tucson) that offers Deeper Still retreats for women and men to have a safe place to talk, process, grieve and heal from a past abortion. If you or someone you know is struggling with a past abortion, I’d love to talk with you.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you.

Fig Leaves and Temple Thieves

Today’s post was written Tara Archibald. Tara is team member on the Central Illinois Deeper Still Team.

Thank you Tara for sharing your heart with us today!

I said “no.” Not a no to my girls. Not a no to my husband. Not another no to the dog. Not even a no to one more thing on my to-do list. I said “no” to God, a blatant no. The Holy Spirit “tapped” me on the shoulder and reminded me of what He taught me just the day before. Pleaded with me to put off the old flesh and yield to Him. I refused. In that moment, I rejected Jesus.


Headed into Jerusalem early Monday morning, Jesus and his disciples stopped along the side of the road to eat. Hungry from their travels, they recognized a fig tree in the distance by its abundant foliage. An unusual sight for the time of year since fig season was a month away. The leaves and figs grow together in late spring. This tree, already in bloom ahead of the others around it, had been planted in good soil. However, when they arrived at the tree it lacked fruit. What held the promise of something good was barren, void of the purpose for which it was created. Jesus cursed it. No longer would it bear fruit or leaves of any kind. No longer would it deceive or lead the passerby astray.


The nation of Israel had often been likened to a fig tree in the Old Testament (Hosea 9:10; Joel 1:7). Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree symbolized the judgement of God upon a people who had the outward appearance of life but failed to bear fruit. A judgement due to Israel’s spiritual fruitlessness and hypocrisy. They had rejected Jesus.


Jesus had already cleansed the temple once before, at the beginning of His ministry. That one, a warning. This second cleansing, a statement of judgement against the leadership of Israel. He cleansed His house of thieves and robbers. Of those who took advantage of the poor. Of those who took advantage of His worshippers and His chosen people. Of His chosen people who took advantage of His chosen people.


The chief priests and scribes from the tribe of Levi, were the chosen spiritual leaders of Israel. Chosen to receive and give offerings, to mediate between God and man, to lead in worship and prayer. Chosen by God. Their hearts now hard and power hungry.


Planted in the good soil of His law, from afar the temple held the promise of something good, something sweet, but inside it the hearts of God’s chosen were barren, their lives fruitless. The purpose for which they were chosen, distorted. They refused to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the Promised One, whom they waited centuries for. Longed for. Eagerly anticipated.

Instead, greed, power, and pride blinded them from the Messiah. Their rejection of Jesus was complete.


“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3 ESV).

This temple made of brick and stone will be destroyed, but not before God has something to say (and do) about its replacement. God commanded the Israelites, just as He commands us, to live fruitful lives. But what does a fruit filled life look like?


What I wore. How I looked. How I behaved. How I performed in school. Emphasis on outward appearance was ingrained in me at a very young age. And it is still a struggle to this day, a lifelong battle. It goes deeper than a striving for popularity, it demands perfection to avoid ridicule and obtain favor. But only Jesus lived a perfect life. And He is more concerned with my insides, with my heart. Daily, I must remind myself to surrender all of me to Jesus. To cast all my cares on Him. To “put off the old self with its practices and…put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:9-10).


Anger, pride, greed, bitterness, unforgiveness, deceit, covetousness are all practices of the old self; fruitless endeavors that come easily because we are sinners (Romans 3). Sin comes naturally. What we want to do, we do not do. What we do not want to do, we do (Romans 7). The intentions of our hearts are evil all the time (Jeremiah 17:9).


When we choose to focus on our outward appearance rather than work on our hearts, we are choosing disobedience. And that is sin. Sin is saying “no” to God. Sin is a rejection of Jesus. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) take work. Righteousness does not come naturally. It takes work to be renewed in knowledge after the image of our Creator, to live like Christ. But we are not left to our own devices, to our own efforts. There is hope.


“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5 ESV).

Apart from God we cannot bear fruit. Apart from God we cannot overcome sin. We need His strength. We need His power.


When we, in His strength and power, yield to the Holy Spirit, when we give Him our yes, we choose life. A life overflowing with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. A life that trusts and obeys the only One worthy of our trust and obedience. We choose Jesus.

Are we fulfilling the purpose for which He created us? Are we trusting and obeying Him? Are we surrendering our plans to His? Are we falling on His overwhelming grace when we mess up? Because we will mess up, again and again. Are we holding fast to His promises? Are we thanking Him even in the midst of our storms, offering our praises on the altar of humility? Do our lives overflow with the fruit of the Spirit to others?


Like the events with the fig tree and the temple demonstrated, God is more concerned about our fruit because that is evidence of the true intentions of our hearts. It shows what we are believing and in Whom we are believing.

God promises to give us the strength, power and courage we need to remove the heavy burdensome cloak of the old self and in its place, to be filled with the sweet fruit of the new self. What fills our hearts and minds has the power to bring us joy and to bring glory and honor to the only One worthy enough, Jesus.


Friday is necessary.

But Sunday’s coming

Born and raised in California, Tara Archibald now lives in central Illinois with her husband and two daughters.  She has a background in labor and delivery nursing but is now a full time homemaker.  She is a nurse volunteer for Living Alternative Pregnancy Resource Center, Bloomington and an active team member of Deeper Still Central Illinois, serving on post-abortion retreats as often as possible.  She loves spending time with her giggling girls, her amazing husband, and her crazy German shepherd dog (not necessarily in that order).  A mountain girl at heart, she enjoys all things outdoors but is just as content to sit on a porch swing, blanket over her lap, reading a good book, with a cup of good coffee in her hand.  Most of all, she loves her precious Savior, Jesus, because it is only by His overwhelming grace, ceaseless mercy, lavish love, and persistent pursuit of her that she has found healing and can point any one to Him.  She feels called to inspire and encourage others through words and pixels.  She has only recently embraced God’s call on her life to write, still discovering her voice, but confident in God’s unfailing faithfulness to be used of Him for her good, the good of others, and His glory.

On IG: @tarajen29 & @joyfullymade139

www.facebook.com/tara.archibald

www.godeeperstill.org

www.hopeforafuture.com

Don’t Let Me Wither, O God- A Psalm

Scripture references: Psalm 1; Matthew 10:29-31; Proverbs 3:5-6

Below is a Psalm, a prayer written from a heart full of longing for more of our dear Savior and Lord. Whatever you are facing, it is our prayer that this will bless you and encourage you in your walk with the Lord. As you read and pray through these words, may transformation take place.

My eyes brim with tears as I ponder Your goodness, Lord. You provide me sanctuary and rest under your leaves. You see me, hear me, and care for me as I find shelter under your branches. Living water flows to me, freely and full of grace. As I drink your water, I am refreshed and renewed. I’m made stronger; your water gives me life. My fruit blooms and draws the hungry near. The hunger and thirst that only you can satisfy, God, surpass all understanding. Your love for me overwhelms my soul. I don’t deserve your love; I’ll never be able to repay it.

I am not the tree described in your Word. I am not watered and manicured. I look at my fruit and wonder if it’s any good to eat. Is it spoiled? Does it have beautiful skin, but sour flesh? Is it like the poison fruit of fairy tales? Coaxing unsuspecting knights into deep, haunting sleeps. I don’t want that to be true. I want to be her; the tree that never withers and always prospers. The tree that draws all kinds of living things to its hearty, twisted branches for refuge. Rather than all my roots being submerged in your streams, I feel like the tree planted along the steep bank. Half grounded in the rough, dry soil of the world. Tipping far enough that a gust of wind could pull it right up. Admittedly, there are some days I’m okay with that. Your Holy Spirit is always moving and convicting me along the dry bank; “You don’t want to be here. God has more from you in the Water”. I waiver and fail daily. I’m not the tree in Your Word, but I want to be.

God, give me deep roots in You. Help me to be successful and prosperous in all that I do in Your name; a tree growing in rich, fertile soil tilled with hope and freedom; planted in the stream; never withering and always fruitful. Protect me from a spirit of jealousy, from the lure of scoffers, and from the ways of the wicked. Keep my heart pure and my ways straight. I pray this and wait expectantly, believing that you hear my cries. Don’t let me wither and blow away with the chaff. Don’t let my legacy be meaningless and futile. Instead, watch me develop strong branches and full leaves. Please don’t leave me the way that I am; you love me too much to leave me here.

Thank you for saving me from the fires that threaten to set me ablaze. Thank you for your promises of goodness and mercy, and for your abundance. Thank you for not giving me over to the flames, stamping them out every time they threaten my trunk. I can feel them close, but you don’t let them consume me. Thank you for your protection and for providing everything I need. If you know every sparrow that falls from its nest, how much more do you know and love me? I will not worry about where the water or nutrients will come from because you are taking care of every detail of my life. You are the Gardener and I am the tree. Prune me and shape me until there is less of me, and more of you.

~Ashley Gregory

Today’s post was written by Ashley Gregory, who is a contributor to the Deeper Still Devotional Blog. Ashley lives in Mt. Sterling, Illinois and is married to Mark. They have 3 children and she serves on the Central Illinois Deeper Still team.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you.