From Shame to Glory

No more whispers no more secrecy no more fear.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

“They’ll know,” she thought quietly near the back.

“It’s probably written all over my face: Liar, hypocrite, selfish.”

“As long as I stay in the back and close to the exit, I’ll be able to hear the word of God, and not risk anyone learning the truth about me. It’s better this way.”

“I gave my voice up the day I swallowed that pill. If I proclaim to be a Christian and stand up for truth and goodness, I’ll only be seen as a hypocrite.”

“If they only knew…” She ached inside as she tried listening to the sermon. She could hardly hear anything besides the many thoughts flooding her heart and mind.
These were just a few of the lies whispered to me by the enemy.

I believed my Savior forgave me with every fiber of my being. He was changing my life, healing and renewing my heart. However, even though I knew I was forgiven, I could not hear the word abortion without recoiling in my skin, feeling sick to my stomach, and wanting to run toward the nearest exit. Nothing in that sounds healed to me; triggered – but not healed. I was afraid to get too close to anyone at church, or any person for that matter. I believed that if anyone knew the real me, they would reject me.  For a while, I allowed people in from a distance.  For five long years I lived half alive; forgiven yet hiding in shame.

Then, as the Lord would have it, I was given an opportunity to serve at a Deeper Still retreat, helping cook meals for the guests. My aunt was the one who invited me to serve. For years I wanted to stop hiding and tell the people I loved about my abortion. But something in my mind always convinced me to stay silent. When my aunt asked to serve, I knew that God was telling me it was TIME- it was time to share my secret.

God instilled on my heart that if I was going to help at a retreat, I could not risk my family finding out while we were there, it would take the focus off of the guests and onto me. I called my dad and then my aunt. Both my dad and aunt were so gracious. They told me I needed to go as a guest and not to serve. I thought I was forgiven and didn’t need to attend… but boy was I wrong!

I love how God works. I thought I would be serving God’s kingdom by cooking meals, but He had mightier plans. He knows us so well. He knew I didn’t think I needed any more healing and that the only way to get me to a mostly family lead retreat would be if they asked first!

At the Deeper Still Retreat, the Lord brought healing on more levels than I even knew existed within my heart and soul. Not only did God forgive me, He revealed that He never intended for my voice to be silent and hidden. God used Deeper Still to give me my voice back. Instead of shame, I saw a testimony.

My eyes began to open to the hurting. I realized that if I had been hiding in shame for years, how many others were doing the same exact thing? How many others were also afraid to be viewed as frauds? Instead of hiding in shame and fear, He encouraged me to speak up. No more whispers, no more secrecy, no more fear.

And the lies that once silenced me, now were turned into opposite proclamations of truth!

“They’ll know HIM,” she proclaimed!

“It’s written all over my face: Forgiven, Loved, FREE IN CHRIST!”

 “I will no longer stay in the back, close to the exit, because I cannot risk anyone not learning the truth about Jesus Christ!”

“I gave my voice to CHRIST the night I asked for His forgiveness. I will proclaim to be a Christian and stand up for truth and goodness! I am not hypocrite.”

If they only knew…” She ached inside, wanting others to know Jesus is ready to release them from their own bondage.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for rescuing us from deaths grip. Thank you for dying on the cross for our sins and making a way for us to come to you – through believing in your son, Jesus. I pray for the ones hiding in plain sight, living in bondage to a lie that they are too shameful, too far gone, too damaged. I pray in Jesus name they would leave those worries at the foot of your cross and ask you into their hearts, if they have not done so already. I ask that you would give us godly courage to speak your truth to the ones in our lives. I pray your mercy and truth over us all and thank you for redemption. Thank you for healing. It is in Jesus’ holy name I pray… Amen.

Today’s post was written by Traci Young, who is a contributor for the Deeper Still Devotional Blog. Traci calls Broomfield, Colorado home, and loves spending quality time with her husband, baby girl, and two red doodles.  She left the workforce to become a stay at home mom and sees it as her mission field! Traci serves on the Fallbrook, CA 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laying in the Lap of God

Whether you have 12 candles on your cake or 102, you have a Father who is celebrating you and knows you infinitely. You are His beautiful daughter--coming of age, becoming more like Him. His lap is always ope

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

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7

My oldest daughter turned twelve recently. This addition of another lit candle on the cake also flamed a change in my heart. When the candles were blown out and the smoke lifted, I saw her in a new, and admittedly, scary way. She’s no longer an unsteady toddler or toothless elementary school kid. Her long legs far surpass the days of the dark oak crib that once towered over her. This birthday felt different; less celebratory and more serious–the ushering in of the coming of age–my little girl becoming a young woman.  This once little girl who was learning to share and use “big girl words” is now developing a mature, responsible, and more independent demeanor.

My first baby doesn’t need me as much; she has handled big things this year gracefully and without much help from me. 

I look at her wearing twelve year old skin and tears begin to well in my eyes. I can’t understand why I’m so emotional as I run my fingers through her dishwater blonde hair; this head in my lap that I’ve kissed so many times. She’s a good and perfect gift, just like all gifts that come from God. I look at her and recall the things I know about her- her favorite food, favorite color, what makes her happiest, what annoys her the most, who her best friends are and what she desires to be when she’s older. I know where she wants to go to college, who she wants to live with, and her favorite animal. I know weekends that she has to leave her dads and come back home always make her sad; I know living in two different houses is frustrating for her at times, and I know that often she feels like “she doesn’t belong anywhere”. I know what makes her heart ache and that coffee will always make it better.

Then I think, “If I can love her this much, how must God feel when he sees her?”

This thought then sparks a truth powerful enough to light every candle…If I can love my daughter this much, how much does my good good Heavenly Father love me? And as much as I yearn to be her provider and protector, how much more does my Heavenly Father desire to be mine? 

God’s word says He knows every hair on our head, and every tear cried, and every thought. He knows every sorrow and pain.

This is true for all of us. We are cared for, loved, and accepted by God, not because we could ever earn it but because we are His daughter. The worthiness given to us because of whom we belong to cannot be blown out because we fall short. We will always fall short, that’s why we need Jesus. With our heads in His lap, God wants us to trust Him and look to Him for all we need.

One of the greatest gifts given to me was the picture of God as a parent. Like the prodigal son can return home into welcoming, open arms, we also can return home, and our Father throws a party when one of His children come home, with cake and all! I picture God often in this way; especially when I need a reminder that I am loved and accepted fully regardless of where I’ve been or what I’ve done. My prayer is for all reading to know this truth:

Whether you have 12 candles on your cake or 102, you have a Father who is celebrating you and knows you infinitely. You are His beautiful daughter–coming of age, becoming more like Him. His lap is always open, and His love for you burns like an everlasting candle, unable to be snuffed out. 

Father God, You are the beginning and end of who we are. You knit us together with such care and take notice of us when no one else does. Thank you for your love and devotion; thank you for being the lap in which we can rest our weary heads; thank you for being our protective Father. Amen.

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.

When the Storm Rolls In

Good Morning“Increased warfare and resistance should tell you one thing–You are getting close.” Nate Johnston

The storm has rolled in…

John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.”

We have an enemy who wants to rob us of our joy, peace, and faith, but most of all our faith. 

You know the sweet summer storm that rolls in out of nowhere. You’re sitting on the back porch swing on a lazy summer evening. Then lightning streaks across a distant dark blue canvas and the sound of rolling thunder claps in the heavens. It is a wondrous sight to behold. One of my favorite things to do is watch a good storm, especially the unexpected ones that cool off the heat of a long hot summer day.

However calming and even peaceful those summer storms are, I am talking about another storm. One that comes gradually and unexpectedly.

But when these storms come, just as I can stay safe inside my home, I can rest in the goodness of my God knowing He is my refuge. 

When the enemy has roared so loudly that lies flash constantly across the skies of our minds, we can know the truth of the Light that is right behind those clouds.  We need to get directly in the face of the enemy and speak truth to those lies and command our souls to be at rest. 

We must remember who our God is, who our enemy is not, and who we are in Jesus. He is not as powerful as God. He is a toothless lion and his thunderous roar is hollow. He is a defeated foe. 

We must stay on guard and prepared. The Lord has given us weapons to fight with. Ephesians 6:10-20 instructs us on how we should fight: “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may stand against the wiles of the devil.”

He gives us the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shod our feet with the gospel of peace, we have the shield of faith that quenches all the fiery darts of the wicked one, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. We literally are totally covered for the battles we face. This is how we stand strong when the winds of life strike hard, tossing trouble into our worlds. 

We are to continually be in prayer. Ephesians 6:18, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, stay alert to this end with all perseverance.” Prayer changes things. Call on prayer warriors and get others praying with you. Prayer has been key to quieting a storm in my life.  I see blue skies breaking through and see the sun (Son) on the horizon. 

Worship. Worship. Worship. When all I want to do is sit and cry, I worship. This brings me peace and strength. Worship hushes the storm inside, replacing thunder with shouts of praise to the Holy One. He is my Prince of Peace, my calm in the storm. The storm that blew in that brought tumultuous downpours, leaving me begging for shelter, is no longer threatening when I get still and worship. My storm may still be there, but the difference is I am in the presence of the Lord–the One fighting my battles. 

Most of all let us remember who we belong to. We are God’s children. No weapon formed against us will prosper. We are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus our Lord. We are victorious due to the price Jesus paid on the cross. Let us not lose our faith in the One who gave it all for us. He stated, “It is finished.” We have overcome! To God be the glory! 

Lord, give us the courage to stand and help us to stay sober and vigilant in this race you have set before us. Thank you Lord that because of You, we can have peace and rest in the middle of a storm. Remind us of the armor that you have laid before us to use when we are in the heat of the battle. I am thankful that you stand beside us and fight our battles with us. We cannot do it without you Lord. You are worthy of all praise. In Jesus name we pray. Amen

Today’s post was written by Randi Stanton, who is a contributor for the Deeper Still Devotional Blog. Randi lives in Maumelle, Arkansas, and is married to Tom. She has two children, three stepchildren, and two gorgeous grandchildren. She also enjoys hiking in the mountains, playing with her dogs, reading and studying God’s Word. Randi serves on the Arkansas 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.

Days of Deeper {Guest Post}

beckycrenshaw

 

Today’s post is written by Becky Crenshaw, a dear blogger and speaker friend.  This post is from a series written by Becky on 30 Days of Deeper.  Thank you Becky for sharing with us today! 

 

This morning, I am already in a tug of war.

Upon waking, I am battling my thought life and hearing the enemy whisper lies to me. Trying so hard to convince me that I am not a good enough momNot a good enough friend. Not a good enough wife. Not a good enough Christian.

Just not good enough.

He is tricky, that enemy of ours. He rarely comes to us by way of an obvious evil and dark force. No, it is usually extremely sly and serpent-like. Slithering his way into our thoughts and trying to steal our worth.

Telling us “we aren’t enough” is one of his most effective patterns because if he can get our thinking then the rest is cake. Our emotions and actions are birthed in our thought-life and our day goes to pot within a mili-second.

Good news is, folks, we don’t have to be good enough because Jesus already is.  And I am going with Him.

So let’s get ahead of our adversary this morning with a little refresher on the REAL US found in Christ.  Read these over and say them out loud. 

  • I am born of God, and the evil one – the devil – can not touch me. 1 John 5:18
  • I am a child of God and I will resemble Christ when He returns 1 John 3:1,2
  • I am a partaker of Christ, I share in His life (Heb 3:14)
  • I am a holy partaker of a heavenly calling (Her 3:1)
  • I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved (Col 3:12, 1 Thes 1:4)
  • I am a son of light and not of darkness (1 Thes 5:5)
  • I am a new creation (2 For 5:17)
  • I am a temple, a dwelling place of God. His Spirit and His life dwell in me. (1 Cor 3:16, 6:19)
  • I am united to the Lord and one in spirit with Him (1 Col 6:17)
  • I am reconciled to God and I am a minister of reconciliation. (2 Col 5:18,19)
  • I am God’s workmanship – His handiwork born anew in Christ to do His work. (Eph 2:10)

LORD, THIS IS HOW WE FIGHT OUR BATTLES!!! WE CLAIM THIS TRUTH! WE WORSHIP YOU! WE WILL NOT BELIEVE LIES TODAY!  YOU LOVE US! YOU ARE ENTHRALLED WITH US!  WE THANK YOU AND SURRENDER OUR LIVES TO YOU!

IN JESUS NAME! AMEM!

Reflections:

  1. Of all these truths, which two mean the most to you TODAY?
  2. What is going on in your life that make these so important right now?
  3. Our Christian life is a continual “casting down lies and replacing with Truth” process. Take a journal and pen out lies that consistently come against you. Out from the lie, write one a Truth to combat this thought. Next time the lie comes against you, REMEMBER THIS.

 

Becky Crenshaw and her husband, Brent, live in Tennessee with their three, football-crazed and energetic boys.  Three children of which a doctor said she would never have. After losing her mother to cancer, Becky now has the great honor of caring for her 92-year-old grandmother, Ethel.

Brent and Becky served on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ at the University of Tennessee for nine years, discipling college students and sharing the Gospel across campus. They are currently ministering to a new demographic in their city.  Brent serves as the Young Adult Pastor of their church, where they lead pre-marriage classes and help post-graduates plug into community with others their own age and grow in their own relationship with Christ.

To read more posts from Becky, you can visit her blog site at www.beckycrenshaw.com

When God Asks a Question

God has called

And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah’”? 1 Kings 19:9

When God asks a question, it isn’t because He doesn’t know the answer. So why does God, the One who knows all things from beginning to end, ask questions?

It isn’t for His benefit, but for ours. The questions He asks are to help us understand ourselves.

When reading in 1 Kings 19, there was something I hadn’t noticed before. God asked Elijah the same question twice. When God says something twice, it could be for emphasis or it could be that He wants to confirm and give assurance that it is Him speaking. When God asked Elijah the question, “What are you doing here?”, Elijah answered:

“I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your alters, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

The backdrop of this story is fascinating and if you have a moment, go to 1 Kings 18:20 to 1 Kings 19:21 to read it. In short, Elijah had just called down fire from heaven, killed 450 prophets of Baal, totally humiliated the enemy and an evil tyrannical queen, and then ran a marathon to Jezreel. This man had to have been exhausted. We should never face an enemy hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. There is no doubt, Elijah was all four. And so when faced with the threat being destroyed by Jezebel, it was more than he could handle. Any other day it wouldn’t have phased him, but that day… it did, and he responded uncharacteristically in defeat and despair and ran to hide in a cave.

This is where Elijah was when God asked him, “What are you doing here?”

Has there ever been a time in your life when God has asked you, “What are you doing here?” Maybe you have been through a very difficult situation and have been hiding or not being the person God intended for you to be. Or maybe you’ve sinned or responded poorly to a situation and you feel defeated and the enemy has you believing there is no hope, that you are alone, and God couldn’t possibly use you now.

If this is you, God is asking, “What are you doing here?” This isn’t the place God has for you to be.

The enemy is shrewd and starts with a small lie getting us off one degree. But one degree over time equals a far distance from where God called us to.

God has called each and every one of us.

If we aren’t going in the direction of our calling or living in our calling, then maybe we’re off course.

Abortion is one of those sins the enemy uses to keep us living in a cave believing we are alone and unfit for use in the Kingdom.

If this is you today or there is another sin or situation in your life that the enemy has used to keep you believing you are defeated and unworthy of Kingdom things, today, hear the voice of the Lord gently and lovingly saying, “What are you doing here,________.”

And then listen to words of the Lord as He directs and guides you into the next steps He has for you. The very next thing the Lord did for Elijah was remind him that he is not alone. The Lord God extinguished the lies of the enemy and built up his servant with truth.

When God asks us a question, it is for our introspection and reflection, and to give us confidence in our ability to hear.

Wherever you are today, be reminded, God is with you. He is for you. He asks the question, “What are you doing here?” as a course correction. His plan is for you to do great Kingdom exploits, and be used mightily as you follow His leading and direction out of the cave and into your calling.

Father God, we thank you that you lead us out of caves and into our callings. Lord, we pray for every person reading this or attending a retreat that has bought into the lies of the enemy that have been intended to defeat or destroy. Lord, we want to be where you want us to be. Lead us in your way everlasting, give us strength, and fill us with hope. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today’s post was written by Sue Molitor. Sue works with the ministry of Deeper Still in International Relations. She lives in beautiful East Tennessee and loves spending time with her husband and 3 kids. She enjoys reading, coffee with friends, and taking long walks. She has been writing for the Deeper Still Devotions for 7 years and loves to encourage others and cheer them on towards finding freedom and healing.

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. 

 

 

 

 

Scandalous Grace

His grace reaches down into the depths of our souls, and calls us loved, accepted, wanted, and His.

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’  

Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.’” Matthew 26:31,33 

My heart swelled with delight as I picked up the phone to dial a friend to ask her to help with something in ministry, and it was no small ask. I knew Jesus had told me to ask her and so I called with expectation and joy, beaming to give this gift she would love. 

Before I could extend the invitation, my friend began to share some hard things she was going through, places of deep pain, and confession of sin in her life. Shame spilled over into her words as she shared hurts, heartaches, and bared all in brokenness.  

In the middle of her sharing, I heard in my spirit the Lord speak, “I haven’t changed my mind.” With relief, I waited until she was done sharing all she needed to share. After extending love and grace and praying with her, I leaned into the question the Lord asked me to ask her.  I sensed joy pressing out, knowing how kind the Lord was in asking for her to join him THIS DAY, this day that she would share hidden sin, this day when shame would try to overtake her, this day He would call her… 

Oh what an amazing Heavenly Father, what an amazing Jesus, what an AMAZING SCANDALOUS GRACE! 

Perhaps she felt like Peter when he denied Christthen He called him to feed His sheep and follow Him… 

Peter was confident he wouldn’t stumble—in fact so confident that he contradicted Jesus. But before we judge Peter for his arrogance, we must admit that we too could wear those stumbling sandals. 

What I love about the story of Peter is that Jesus knew he would fail and knew he would deny him, yet Jesus still chose him. Knowing all things, Jesus still called Peter and said “On this rock I will build My church.”(Matt 16:18)  

I can only imagine the torment Peter must have went through by denying Jesus and possibly questioning if by stumbling, he stumbled right over his destiny into destitution.  

But Jesus.  

Those same sandals Peter stumbled in are the ones he raced John in to get to the tomb to see for themselves if what they heard was true—He is risen! They are also the same sandals that once walked on the water to Jesus and then jumped into the water to Jesus. (Matt 14:29, John 21:7) 

Jesus and Peter had a conversation in which Jesus once again affirmed Peter’s calling. (John 21:15-19) Even knowing Peter’s faults and would be failings, not once did Jesus change his mind about Peter.  

I wonder how Peter received this from Jesus. He must have been overjoyed tasting grace. Nothing heals like the sweet savor of grace.  

My friend, shocked at my request after all she had just told me, questioned, “You don’t think I’m a liability?” I replied, “No, I’ve never thought of you as a liability and I won’t start now. Jesus didn’t change his mind in the middle of our conversation. He knew every word you would say before you said it, he knew all, and He said to ask you.”  

My friend tasted grace that day. How sweet grace tastes. His love is beyond compare and His grace is deeper than the oceans. His grace reaches down into the depths, the depths of our souls, and calls us loved, accepted, wanted, and His.  

This weekend, there is a Deeper Still retreat where ladies are coming to find healing and freedom from the past sin of abortion. Perhaps, like my friend, and Peter, these ladies feel unworthy of the good gifts and calling God has for them. Will you pray with us that these ladies will hear the Lord say, “I haven’t changed my mind.  I have a plan for you. Just take my hand. Feed my sheep. Follow me.”  

What an amazing God. What an amazing Grace!  

Father God, we thank you for such an amazing grace. We thank you that even when we feel like we’ve forfeited the plan for our lives or feel unworthy of the good things you have for us, that you search for us and find us and call us. Lord, we pray for every lady at the retreat this weekend as well as those reading this that feel they are unworthy of your love and blessings. Father, draw them to you. We break the bonds of shame in the name of Jesus and declare over their lives that they are worthy in Jesus Christ. Set them free Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.  

Today’s post was written by Sue Molitor. Sue works with the ministry of Deeper Still in International Relations. She lives in beautiful East Tennessee and loves spending time with her husband and 3 kids. She enjoys reading, coffee with friends, and taking long walks. She has been writing for the Deeper Still Devotions for 7 years and loves to encourage others and cheer them on towards finding freedom and healing.

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. 

 

 

 

Wonderfully Complex and Fully Known

I was knit together in my mother’s womb, made wonderfully complex, and KNOWN before I was born...If I were to ever raise a girl to believe these truths, I needed to first believe them over my own life.

Psalm 139:14 (NLT)
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. 

Last night, as my husband and I prayed with our sweet baby girl before bed, I couldn’t shake this overwhelming feeling of love and worry. Thankfully, I had just come from a church gathering. Our pastor shared a sermon about the importance of rest. He explained how we take on burdens and carry weight never meant to be ours. I immediately thought about my daughter. While I have been entrusted to be her mother, in truth, she doesn’t belong to me; she belongs to Jesus Christ.

Looking down at the most precious face I’d ever seen, I prayed that my daughter would not just know but believe she was fearfully and wonderfully made; knit together in my womb. I prayed she would trust that God knew her, loved her, and had a purpose for her long before any of us even knew she existed. I asked Him to take away my worry, to trust Him with her life. I needed to hear that sermon earlier. I needed to rest in Him. I was reminded that while it is our responsibility as parents to raise her in Christ – she is first and foremost a child of God. He loves her more than we can even fathom… So much peace follows when we humbly obey and release our cares and worries to Him.

After we kissed our daughter goodnight and laid her down, I turned on my phone and caught up on a daily devotional I have been doing with a younger cousin of mine. The study was on identity and knowing who we are and most importantly WHOSE we are. The whole day was centered on our being created as God’s masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10). It was exactly what I needed to read and hear.

Don’t you just love when He affirms your thoughts by giving you scripture to match what you were thinking and feeling? I sure do, because the following verses that came in the study sealed my prayers from earlier that evening with my daughter:

Psalm 139:13-16  (NLT)
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

I was convicted that while I have had absolutely no problem seeing my daughter in the verses above, I did not believe them for myself. I, too, was knit together in my mother’s womb, made wonderfully complex, and KNOWN before I was born; and I needed to have the confidence that my life is also recorded in His book. If I were to ever raise a girl to believe these truths, I needed to first believe them over my own life.

I’m so grateful our God is near; we just need to show up. I have been wrestling with Him for a while in regards to learning how to be a mother in His image and not of the world. I believe He has me starting at square one; believing, not just knowing, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, just like my daughter is.

My daughter is seven months old, she watches me. She will continue to look to me for affirmations, lessons, and love. I want her to know who she truly is in Christ. When she watches me, I want her to see her Mom living out God’s truth; a girl like her, made wonderfully complex and fully known by her creator!

Thank you dear Lord for conviction! Thank you for placing in my heart the desire to know you deeper and to know who I am in you. Thank you for the gift of children, no matter how they are placed in our lives. Lord, I pray that you would show us all how to be stewards of your gift of life. I thank you that you are never finished with us, that you are always with us. I pray that you would use us to rise up a new generation rooted in you. Thank you for being there to take all of our worries and cares because you care for us! It is in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Today’s post was written by Traci Young, who is a contributor for the Deeper Still Devotional Blog. Traci calls Broomfield, Colorado home, and loves spending quality time with her husband, baby girl, and two red doodles.  She left the workforce to become a stay at home mom and sees it as her mission field! Traci serves on the Fallbrook, CA 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.

 

 

God of the Whisper

When God speaks to us, it isn’t the loudness of His voice that captures us, it is the calm, quiet, assured voice of His love that draws us in closer. God's voice will always sound different than the voices of the wor

“And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah'”? 1 Kings 19:12-13

Voices with the most words are not necessarily the loudest or most resonant. Throughout my life the voices that heeded the best advice have been the calm and consistent voices of friends and family who know me best. When God speaks to us, it isn’t the loudness of His voice that captures us, it is the calm, quiet, assured voice of His love that draws us in closer. Unruffled, tender, resolute, and unwearied by circumstances–God’s voice will always sound different than the voices of the world.

Jesus was sent to shepherd his people, and like a flock of sheep know their shepherd and his voice, we too, know the voice of our Good Shepherd who calls us loved and safe. The Shepherd’s voice inflection, tone, and rhythm are familiar and comforting. We, as beloved image-bearers of God, know the voice of our Shepherd when we hear it. We may not know it’s Him at first, but once we learn to hear by studying His voice through His Word, we can discern truth from lies. But how do we know His voice when we hear it? The world throws so much noise in our direction, therefore how can we be certain which voice is truly the Lord’s?

God’s voice isn’t in the loud, crashing shouts. In I Kings, the prophet Elijah experienced the soft whisper of God when he was running for his life from King Ahab.

“Then He said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake, and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire;

And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah'”? 1 Kings 19:12-13 (emphasis added)

God wasn’t in the strong wind, the earthquake, nor the fire.

God was in the whisper. It’s amazing to me that God, who has the power and authority to shout to the entire world His presence, chose to whisper. He chose Jesus, a man who was ordinary in stature and not striking in appearance, to display His Glory to all the earth. This makes me wonder- Am I ever quiet enough to hear him? Do I believe that he exists only in loud and powerful forms? Can I accept that my God is present in the unremarkable; the mundane; the silence?

On the morning of my abortion, the clinic was so quiet. Judging by the number of people in the room, there should have been mountains of noise. At the very least a rustle of bags or shuffling of feet would have provided my ears with some reassurance, but there was nothing; no sound at all. Of all the things I remember about that day, the silence stands out. Each of us knew what the other had come for. A “simple procedure” that would set life back in motion, but even our eyes couldn’t meet for fear we may say too much. The silence was deafening. My fingernails clicked together as I waited nervously for the nurse to prepare me for an ultrasound. I didn’t know much at 19, but I knew ultrasound meant they were looking for a baby. They would confirm there was a child with a beating heart…more deafening noise. The nurse asked if I wanted to see “the image” and then it happened; from somewhere in the room that I couldn’t detect, perhaps deep inside of myself, I felt a nudge. The push was hard enough to force my heart in my throat and a whisper answered for me…”yes“. I shook myself back from the interruption and quickly replied to the nurse with a firm “NO”. The whispering voice that day came from the Lord, I know that now. But I didn’t know Him then, so I couldn’t possibly have known His voice. His whisper was overcome by the shouts to make my own decision and do what was best for me; the prevailing message that I could not carry this child resounded. His whisper was with me in the clinic that day and I had a choice—to listen and respond or ignore His nudge. Even though I chose to push away His whisper that day, He never chose to push me away. Instead, He pursued and chased me down gently continuing to whisper in my ear His love.

His whisper is near to you, sweet friend. Whatever the other voices are shouting, His whisper will always overcome. It may be decades later, but I promise, you’ll hear Him.

There are still moments when I aim to hear God in the blaring and showy. I naively search for him in booming social media platforms and in boastful man, but He isn’t there because that’s not who God is. His voice saves and doesn’t destroy; His voice loves and doesn’t despise; His voice shares truth and doesn’t condemn. His voice brings healing, not decay; and joy instead of mourning. The voice of created man can never overcome the voice of the Creator. Knowing the difference between the two will save many lives.

Father, You not only speak love and truth, but you ARE Love and Truth. Your power and majesty have been made evident to us since the beginning of creation and you do not need loud voices to do the work that your breath has already accomplished. Forgive us for the times we have exchanged your truth for lies and for the times we have trusted the worldly voices that surround us instead of yours. Help us to hear you and trust you. Help us to know your voice when we hear it. Thank you for Jesus, our Good Shepherd, who promises to lead us by quiet waters and restore us to you. We love you and thank you for His sacrifice and His silence as he submitted to you to save us. Amen.

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.

 

 

Seeing with New Vision

One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek_ that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the e in His temple.” Psalm 27_4

“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

Hair fell to the floor below the swiveling chair. Time and time again I had been here, in this chair. My hairdresser at the time was more of a mentor than someone who did my hair. She had a way with hair, but her hair-doing ability wasn’t what drew me back to her– it was her way with people. My time with her was like someone asking, “Would you like a counseling session with a hair cut and color thrown in for free?” Um—Yes please!

One of the things she would say often is how she loved seeing all the different facets of the Lord in His creation, mainly in people—His image bearers.

She would take delight in all her clients, seeing a piece of God in each person who sat in her chair. At first, I only came to add highlights to my hair, but the reason I continually returned was because she highlighted the beauty in me and called it out.

There are many expressions and beliefs about beauty. There are reasons these saying have stuck over time—truth tends to stick around.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is one of these sayings that holds familiarity. This truth has proven true since the beginning of time.

How we view others has much to do with how we view ourselves, outwardly and inwardly, which is greatly impacted by if we are “dwelling in the house of the Lord” and what is inside of us. This isn’t about going to a physical dwelling but rather a state of the heart.

In Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” (“Our” referring to the Holy Trinity)

The different beautiful facets of God were embedded in the very DNA of man originally. This includes inwardly and outwardly. But how we view others often is rooted in how we view ourselves and God.

When looking at others, we can either notice the beauty of each individual creation of God, made and formed in His image and likeness, compare their likeness to our own, or make assumptions and judgments. The same is true for looking at ourselves in the mirror. We need to be kind to ourselves as well.

But if we are dwelling in the house of the Lord, or in other words, abiding in His love and loving ourselves in a healthy way from a place of identity in Him, then what comes as a result is new vision.

At this point, I can’t help but think back of all the vision statements at the beginning of 2020—The year of 20/20 vision. Could it be everything happening around us is so we can look at things with new vision –Vision that beholds the beauty of the Lord in others around us, starting within our own families and then extending to others around us?

Seeing the world with new vision allows us to put ourselves in the shoes of others and cultivates compassion, empathy, care, and kindness.

What do you see when you look at an elderly person? Do you see the beauty of a life hopefully well-lived and the years of service and pouring out of themselves to others? Or if on the outside they appear fragile and worn down, what then? Do you see the beauty in perseverance and the trials they must have endured to still be pressing on and daily braving the world?

The list of the people we encounter on a daily basis is endless: the clerk at the grocery store, the neighbor hurrying to pass by, the Uber driver, the pregnant girl who seems too young.

When we begin to see the beauty in the people around us that we pass on the street in the correct godly way, we see the beauty of the Lord in them and our vision changes. Then, it is no longer outward appearance that defines our vision, it is noticing they behold the very image of God and His likeness in some way. This new vision frees us from the bonds of judgement and opens the door for us to “inquire in His temple” (Ps 27:4b) or in other words—become curious. With these new eyes and curiosity, instead of making judgements, we ask questions, which opens the door for the Holy Spirit to work. Curiosity is the key that opens the door to compassion: Curious of what their life is like; curious if they know Jesus; curious how their day is going; curious of their story; curious of who God created them to be.

When we are inward focused, we aren’t curious. And when we aren’t curious and inquiring, we are missing the beauty—the beauty of every person God created in His image.

Father God, I pray we would see with new vision—that we would see every person with the eyes of the Lord, behold the beauty of the Lord, inquire in His temple, and be filled with compassion and grace. In Jesus’ Name.

Perhaps, like my hairdresser, we can help repair the split ends of this world and add some Jesus highlights to those around us–pulling out the light and calling forth the beauty within each person crafted and intimately designed by the very hand of God.

Today’s post was written by Sue Molitor. Sue works with the ministry of Deeper Still in International Relations. She lives in beautiful East Tennessee and loves spending time with her husband and 3 kids. She enjoys reading, coffee with friends, and taking long walks. She has been writing for the Deeper Still Devotions for 7 years and loves to encourage others and cheer them on towards finding freedom and healing.

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. 

 

 

A Father’s Day Blessing

To Every Man

 

As the family of God, on this Father’s Day, we want to honor and encourage the stewardship of fathering. We acknowledge that the celebration of this day can be joyful for some and painful for others. But whatever your gains or losses have been regarding your fathering, we are confident that today the Lord is ready and willing to pour out His grace for healing, encouragement, and affirmation on all our men, young and old.

Let’s first acknowledge that God Himself is a father and designed the gift of fatherhood. And He has given the stewardship of fathering to men. What an awesome privilege and responsibility! Father God entrusted Joseph to be Jesus’s earthly father. Joseph probably had his moments of doubt, wondering if he was up to the task, but his simple “yes” and obedience was all that God required; God supplied the rest. This child, Jesus, also needed an earthly father for His physical, emotional, and spiritual development. Even from this example alone, we see how deeply Father God values a father. We would like to pray a father’s blessing over every man reading this today. Whether you have biological children or not, we want to honor your father’s heart and bless you as you father those God brings into your life that need your fathering imprint. We also want to include our single men, our young boys, and even our baby boys in this blessing, for they too will grow up to be fathers someday.

Father God thank you for creating your sons and endowing them with a father’s heart. Thank you that, as image bearers, they too can cry out for a heart like Yours. Today, God, would you pour out your fathering spirit upon all your sons in this place, young and old? Will you expand their hearts and give them the capacity to embrace the stewardship of fathering? Give them courage, strength, vision, wisdom, leadership, and a servant’s heart. Where they have been wounded, would you heal them so they can take up their swords and shields once again and fight for their families? Where they have failed, will you pour out your grace and forgiveness upon them and grant them a new beginning? Where they feel weak and weary, will You show them that You are the great I Am and that You can supply all their needs? Where they feel disqualified, will you show them that they have a place at your table and that you have great Kingdom exploits for them? Would you commission them to go out and find the lost sheep and run to meet the prodigal and to kill the fatted calf for every lost son that comes home? Father God, you hear the cry of the orphan, and You promise to be a father to the fatherless. Will you raise them up to hear the cries and answer the call? We ask for these blessings in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen!

Happy Father’s Day to every man. We honor you as a son of Father God and your stewardship as a father!

~Deeper Still

(This Father’s Day blessing was from Karen Ellison’s book Healing the Hurt that Won’t Heal, Freedom for the Abortion-Wounded and Help for the Church They Fear .)

Karen Ellison is the founder and president of the Deeper Still ministry. She lives in Knoxville, TN with her husband, Arthur. Karen enjoys long walks, sunshine, and hikes in the beautiful mountains of East Tennessee. It is her heart to see all those suffering from the wounds of abortion set free and healed.