christian living

Summer Psalms to Help Us Praise ( & Printable Scripture Cards)

Too many followers of Christ feel bad for displaying any emotion besides peace, gratitude and contentment. Fear, anger, resentment, and even grief are hidden and remain unexpressed. But the psalmists exhibit a completely different approach. They lay their hearts on the line. They experience (and share) a full range of uninhibited emotion and pour it out to God. They question, beg, wonder, protest and mourn. They celebrate, exalt and praise. They proclaim the power, greatness and worth of God. They come to Him honestly and with humility.

A Little Background

Written over a number of centuries (probably between 1440 BC and 586 BC), the book of Psalms is composed of 150 sacred songs. Created by numerous authors, they became an integral part of Hebrew rituals and worship. Although many of these songs are cries of disdain and pleas for help, the traditional Hebrew title of the collection is tehillim, meaning “praises.” 

In their raw emotion, the psalmists remember God’s character. They recall his generosity, forgiveness and faithfulness. They ask Him for grace and vengeance. And as they do, their awe and fear of God grows and brings Him praise.

Our Response

We want to model the psalmist’s praise and come to our great God with anything and everything on our minds and in our hearts. We want to trust that He is listening, that He sees, and that He will guide us to His truth. We want to grow in our love for Him and be reminded of His goodness.

Our very own Nancy Tauzer has created printable Summer Psalms Scripture cards to help. Commit to reading and meditating on an entire Psalm, then use these poignant passages to remind you of what you’ve learned. Memorize them, frame them, or send them to friends. Tape them to a refrigerator, bedside table, bedroom mirror, or anywhere else you’ll see them every day. However you use them, remember this: “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). He already knows what you’re feeling and can handle your honesty. Trusting that He’s good enough to handle your emotions brings Him great praise.

With great expectation, 

Links I Love
  • Understand more about the history of the Psalms at The Bible Project and by clicking here
  • Pam Forster has a few simple studies that help unpack Psalm 37 and Psalm 103 using the inductive method. The title says they’re for “busy moms,” but I think they’re great for everyone and have learned a lot from them both.
  • I’m a huge fan of reading plans. They keep me organized, motivated, and are a great resource for studying alongside others. Try this 28 day plan. It doesn’t cover every Psalm, but I love the direct links to passages for easy access through the Summer. 
  • Psalm 34 is another great Psalm to Study! Use this resource to help, and read about my own experience with the Inductive Bible Study Method here. You can also download and print these GORGEOUS Psalm 34 Scripture cards from artist Anna deRoos.

 

About the Contributors

Lisa Da Silva – Author

I’m a wife, mom of two teenagers, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word.

A teacher by trade and passion, recovering striver, and lover of simplicity, I enjoy thrift store shopping and often have to convince people I’m an introvert. Just a loud one.

Loving Jesus and making Him known really is my everything.

 

 

 

 

 

Nancy Tauzer – Scripture Card Creator

I am fond of trying new recipes and projects. I am a giver. Good listener. Softhearted. Loyal.

I’m a wife and momma of two boys who is probably drinking coffee and waiting for the laundry to fold itself. I enjoy hiking, dancing and organizing all things.

Growing up, I thought being a follower of Christ was only going to church on Sundays. Fast forward to today and I have an intimate relationship with God; continuing to grow in awe of his love for us.

 

 

Podcast 036 – “Trust, Passion & Perseverance” With 18-Year-Old Adventurer Lucy Westlake

 

 

Lucy Westlake has been climbing mountains since she could walk. With a deep love for the outdoors and a
the ability to push physical and mental limits to new heights, this 18-year-old adventurer has her sight set on breaking records for God’s glory. Join Lisa as she chats with Lucy about her quest to become the youngest female to complete the Explorers Grand Slam, her passion for making safe drinking water accessible to all, and how her faith in Christ is at the root of all her goals and accomplishments.

Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see how you can support Lucy as she heads to Everest this month. This is a story you won’t want to miss!

Noteworthy Quotes

“During my travels, I’ve seen first-hand how many people don’t have access to safe drinking water. My goal is to become the youngest female to complete the Explorers Grand Slam. And with that I hope to gather the support needed to make safe water more accessible to those who need it. Raising awareness is key.”

“As I watched the daily procession of my pen pal and other women and young girls in the community walk
two miles to a hole in the ground, wait among hundreds of people and animals for their turn to draw water, and then carry the heavy jerry can filled with contaminated water back to their village on their heads, my heart was burdened. I heard a cry from millions of thirsty mouths and dying children that resonated deeply in my heart. This cry echoed across many lands, many cultures, and many beliefs, and I knew right then that this was my calling: to help solve our world’s water and sanitation crisis.”

“I knew God had given me this gift, but I didn’t understand why… When I let go of the resentment of Denali’s failure and truly learned how to trust God in every aspect of my life, my longing for the mountains returned, but this time, not for the summit or breaking records, but for pushing my limits and relying on God. So now when I climb mountains, I continually remind myself, “Your ability is God’s gift to you, what you do with it is your gift back to God.” So when the moments get really hard and I get really weak, God grabs my hand and keeps me climbing.”

“When I reach what I perceive as the limits to my physical, mental, and spiritual being, I can feel God take control and fill me with His strength and power. My flesh is weak, but He is strong. Alone, I could never accomplish what I have, but with God anything is possible.”

 “It’s not about breaking records. It’s about pushing limits.”

“Don’t look at the whole mountain. Just look at one step at a time, and trust God for the next.”

“Maybe you can’t, but He can. You aren’t alone. I could never accomplish what I have through my own strength alone. Many times at the beginning of a day with a long hike ahead of me, I look down at my backpack and I feel so hopeless. It looks bigger than me and I think “how in the world am I going to lift this, let alone carry it on my back for 7-8 hours.” But don’t let those types of doubts and fears creep in – those are the devil’s attacks in your mind. Even when it seems impossible, I lift my backpack onto my back and start hiking, and each step He gives me the strength for another.”

Ways to Follow and Support Lucy

To read more about Lucy’s failure on her first attempt on Denali, read Katie Arnold’s article in Outside Online, “Lucy Westlake Is the Grittiest 13-Year-Old Mountain Climber We Know.”

To learn more about Lucy and follow her adventures, visit her website and Instagram (@Lucy.westlake.22)  

By purchasing a sweatshirt on Lucy’s Etsy shop, 100% of profits go directly towards safe water projects she is personally connected to in Uganda and Kenya.

To help Lucy fund her upcoming Everest trip, consider making a donation on her GoFundMe page. She committed to this trip on faith that God would provide the funds to cover it. 

 

Podcast 035 – “Book Talk, Biblical Justice and Togetherness” With Tracy Daugherty – Part 2

Join Lisa DaSilva and director of The Freedom Challenge, Tracy Daugherty, as they talk about their new Bible study and what it was like to join forces and write it TOGETHER. This is the second episode in a two part series.


Get your copy of What the Lord Requires: A Six Week Study of Micah 6:8 and find tips and printable Bible Study Discussion Questions for leading your own small group here. Proceeds from the sale of this book will support The Freedom Challenge in its mission to set more women and children on the pathway to freedom. Download your study calendar and join us live @ariseministriescollective beginning April 20th for weekly study sessions with Tracy and Lisa. Stay tuned for more resources and updates coming soon!


                                                                                                                          Scripture References

Ephesians 4:3-6 – “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” 

Psalm 133: 1 – “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”

 


About the Hosts

Lisa DaSilva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word. With an M.Ed in Curriculum Development and a teacher by trade and passion, she writes, speaks, and teaches the Bible to anyone who will read or listen. As the director of Arise Ministries Collective in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Lisa believes every woman has a voice. She longs for the day when they find freedom to use it for the glory of God and the furthering of His Kingdom. Lisa is a recovering striver, lover of simplicity and thrift store junkie. She often has to convince people she’s an introvert. Just a loud one. Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.

Tracy Daugherty, the director of The Freedom Challenge, has more than 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry and church planting with her husband, Dan. Working for The Freedom Challenge combines the two biggest passions God has placed on her heart: to affirm the significance of women and to expand the biblical worldview of the church. Based in San Diego County, California, she holds a bachelor’s degree in theology and is an experienced Bible teacher and speaker. She readily admits that her most fulfilling ministry has been as a mom and seeing her three children (and one son-in-love) grounded in their confidence and calling. Before being appointed director of The Freedom Challenge in 2017, she was friends with its founder Cathey Anderson (now in heaven) and a self-proclaimed “girly-girl,” but she traded in her high heels for hiking boots because she was drawn to the cause of championing women. Now, after hiking and flying countless miles around the world with The Freedom Challenge, she’s witnessed the power of women as environment changers, as culture setters and as forces of good in the world. Seeing the impact that she and her fellow Freedom Sisters have made has only further fueled her commitment to leading The Freedom Challenge to its goal: setting 1 million women and children on the path to freedom by 2030.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Really Can Lead a Bible Study: Tips and Resources to Get You Started

Do you wonder if you have what it takes to start or lead a small group Bible study? Are you willing to try? With a few vital but simple commitments, you can play an instrumental role in leading others through the Word of God. People are longing to learn and be part of a community. They may just need someone willing to guide, facilitate, be a humble example, and learn alongside them. Prayerfully read through the following suggestions and give it a try. Remember, there is a lot of grace as you model life-long learning, but skill and competency require practice. Your ability to facilitate a small group will only get better once you start!

Tips for Leading a Meaningful Small Group Bible Study

Pray – The most effective Bible study leader prays for guidance and asks the Holy Spirit to bring understanding. Submit to God and seek Him daily as you prepare and study. Commit to praying for all of the people in your group on a regular basis. 

Be prepared – Do your homework in advance and have a thorough grasp of the content. Review the discussion questions to see which ones best apply to whatever you studied that week. Participants will know if you’ve cut corners. I’ve found that a leader’s effectiveness is largely related to his or her integrity. While things come up and grace prevails, preparation shows participants that you’re committed to doing the hard work and learning alongside them. 

Keep in touch – Communicate with your group throughout the week. People love to know you’re thinking of them. Tell them you’re looking forward to seeing them and hearing about what they’ve learned. When someone knows you’re expecting them to show up, they often do! 

Start and end on time – Being prompt shows respect. Begin on time even if only one person is there. Participants will quickly learn that you honor their other commitments and will respond by honoring yours. Consider adding 30 minutes before or after the meeting as an optional social time. Your group may choose to gather from 9:30 to 11am, for example, but participants can come early for coffee at 9am if they want to visit and chat.

Share expectations – People want to know their small group is safe. Affirm that things shared within the group are not to be discussed with anyone else. Begin each meeting with this reminder, and consider asking participants for a verbal agreement. It’s also helpful to talk about group discussion dynamics. Encourage everyone to be sensitive to others and to ask themselves the following reflective questions: Do they dominate the discussion? Are they attentive to others and giving them a chance to share? Do they listen well? Are they taking risks and offering thoughts and ideas? Routinely sharing expectations for a healthy small group will save a great deal of time, energy, and possible hurt in the future.  

Be a good listener – Don’t do all of the talking. Leading a small group doesn’t mean you’re the expert. It simply means you’re engaging in the discussion, encouraging accountability, being reliable, and listening well. Model good listening by mirroring what’s been shared and validating others’ observations.

Ask great questions – Some Bible studies come with discussion questions to help guide your group time, but I’ve found that they’re not always helpful. While review questions are fine and may clarify content, I appreciate more open-ended questions that generate thoughtful observation, interpretation, and application of the Scripture (learn more about the inductive method here). The following are questions I filter into almost every Bible study discussion. I’ve also included a link to a printable PDF so you can download the style works best for your group. Consider printing your favorite (bookmark, full-page or half-page) for group members in advance. This will help them feel prepared, know what to look for when they’re studying, and be better equipped to use the questions in future small groups. Who knows? Maybe your Bible study is just what they needed to gain the experience and confidence to launch something new. Maybe your risk and obedience will impact many for God’s glory and the understanding of His Word.

5 Great Questions to Help Guide your Bible Study Discussion
  • Did you learn anything new or see something in a different light through your study today/this week? 
  • What does this passage reveal about the character of God? 
  • What biblical truths were revealed and how might these look in action today? In your own life? In your family? In your ministry? 
  • What do you need to do in light of your new understanding? Is there an action you need to take?
  • Is the Holy Spirit bringing any specific people, circumstances, conversations or sins to mind for prayer, repentance and reconciliation?  If so, take time to lay them before Him. Consider sharing and asking for prayer/accountability.

Consider using these questions and tips to guide a small group through our newest study, What the Lord Requires: A Six Week Study of Micah 6:6-8.  All proceeds from the sale of this book be used to support projects that combat modern day slavery and set women and children on the pathway to freedom. Use this study calendar if you hope to join us for the April 20th launch, and let us know if you’ve decided to start your own group. We’d love to cheer you on!

With great expectation –

 

 

 

He is Love: More About Lent and Some Interviews with Sarah Bulkley

 

The season of Lent is just around the corner, and we want to be prepared. Christians around the world practice Lent as a way of drawing close to God and remembering Christ’s sacrifice in preparation of Easter. It’s not something we are required to do, but are invited to do. Below are some helpful insights, practical ideas, and more from author Sarah Bulkley about her book, He is Love: Daily Scripture and Prayer From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday (and Beyond).

More About Lent

Observing Lent is not prescribed in Scripture, but is part of a centuries old Christian calendar beginning and modeled in the Bible. Fasting, meditating on God’s Word, repentance, prayer and sacrifice are not American traditions, but disciplines that are an integral part of our walk with Christ. Access our recommended resources for practicing spiritual disciplines here and here

  • The word Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon words lencten, which means Spring, and lenctentid, which can be translated as March – the month in which the bulk of the lenten season falls.
  • Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (March 2 in 2022) and ends on Resurrection Sunday (with Palm Sunday, Holy ThursdayGood Friday, Silent Saturday between). While we refer to this season as 40 days of preparing our hearts and minds for Easter, Lent takes place over 47 calendar days. Sundays are traditionally considered days of rest and celebration rather than days of observance.
Ways to Observe Lent

Practicing Lent prepares us to celebrate the wonder and promise of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. Search your heart and ask God to reveal ways that will help you draw close to Him this season and give yourself wholly to Jesus.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Sacrifice – Fast or abstain from types of food, technology, social media and/or sources of entertainment. When you crave or miss the things you’ve sacrificed, reflect on Christ and His great sacrifice for us. By voluntarily carving away comforts, distractions, or conveniences, we make room to focus on God.
  • Give – Live simply for the 47 days of Lent. Keep track of the money you’ve saved and donate it to a cause or person. Simple living allows more time and resources for others as we declutter and live intentionally. Consider serving somewhere on your own or alongside friends or family. 
  • Repent – Repentance is the act of turning to God and turning away from sin. Ask God to reveal sin and confess it to Him and a trusted friend or mentor. Seeking reconciliation with Christ and others is another way to celebrate our salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection.
  • Remember – To remember during Lent means we reflect on God’s sacrifice for us and His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Keep a gratitude journal where you record things you are grateful to God for. Commit to writing in it daily over the 47 days and review it with a spirit of thanksgiving on Easter Sunday.
  • Focus on Scripture and Prayer  – Make Christ the center of your lenten season by adding rhythms of daily Bible reading and responsive prayer. Use He is Love: Daily Scripture and Prayer From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday (and Beyond) to reflect on  foundational passages and respond in prayer. Use the pages in the back to begin writing your own personal prayers.
More About Our Lent Resource, “He is Love”

The first 11 days of He is Love: Daily Scripture and Prayer From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday (and Beyond) focus on others and include prayers for our community, leaders and loved ones. The last 36 passages draw our attention toward God’s character and seek to help us grow a deeper and more personal relationship with Him. 

At the end of the 47 Scriptures and prayers, there are 7 extra days of passages with space to write your own prayers. You are encouraged to spend time meditating on each one and then respond to God’s Word by writing a personal prayer to Him. 

 

Interviews About He is Love With Author Sarah Bulkley
Printable Scripture Cards 

Cultivate a rhythm of reflection and gratitude with Scripture memorization cards created by artist Anna DeRoos. Each of these passages correlate with our He is Love: Daily Scripture and Prayer From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday (and Beyond) devotional and are a simple and beautiful way to incorporate the Word into your Lent journey this year. These 4×6 cards can be framed, posted on a refrigerator, tucked into your Bible nightstand, or mailed in a note to a friend. Try memorizing them on your own, with family, or alongside other women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above all, may this season of repentance and reflection yield sweet communion with Christ. And in the sacrifice and practice of Lent, remember, Easter is coming!

 

About the Contributors

Sarah Bulkley

Sarah is a wife, dog mom and pediatric dental assistant. She loves spending her free time meditating on scripture, listening to old sermons, practicing yoga, and antique shopping. She fell in love with Jesus at a young age, but her passion for women’s ministries and Bible Study really began when she joined her first Bible Study group in 2010. She loves encouraging women to know and love the Bible.

 

 

 

Lisa Da Silva  

Lisa is a wife, mom of two teenagers, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word. She writes, speaks, and teaches the Bible to anyone who will read or listen.

Lisa is a teacher by trade and passion, recovering striver, and lover of simplicity. She enjoys thrift store shopping and often has to convince people she’s an introvert.  Just a loud one.

Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.

 

Anna of She Letters Truth Co. – Creator of our Lent Scripture Memorization Cards

Anna is a visual artist and high school Senior living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She loves creating for God’s glory, and finds joy in all things pretty. You can find more of Anna’s printable scripture cards for Arise by checking out our Resources tab. Visit She Letters Truth Co. on Etsy to find more of Anna’s creations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While We Wait: An Advent Reflection

The Wait

Gifts are wrapped and stockings are stuffed. Lights twinkle on the tree and candles flicker in homes and church candlelight services across the country. It’s Christmas  – one of my favorite times of the year. I love seeing little ones giddy with excitement. They’ve been waiting since before Thanksgiving when store shelves abruptly traded turkeys and leaves for Santa and snowflakes, and hope the wait will be worth it.

As children of God, we’re waiting too. Every one of us.

It’s why we celebrate Advent through the Christmas season.

Since the fall of man, the faithful in the Old Testament waited for the promised Messiah. They were waiting for a King. Their savior. Because many had their own ideas and assumptions of who He would be and what He would do, they missed the blessing. They failed to see Jesus as the Savior of the world and are still waiting for His first appearance.

Now, as Christ-believers, we wait for our Savior to return and make all things new – forever bridging the gap between our sin and the glory of the Father. Oh, what a day that will be!

Because we live in a broken world until Christ’s second coming, we wait for earthly dreams or needs to be fulfilled as well.

As you read this, you’re likely waiting for something.

Waiting to feel known. Waiting for a wayward child. Waiting to experience love. Waiting to be forgiven. Waiting for healing. Waiting for the fulfillment of a promise. Waiting to be understood.

The list is endless. And exhausting.

Waiting tries my patience and throws me into dependence. I can’t control the outcome in a waiting season and, to be completely honest, that’s the part I like least. My fleshly desire is to meddle – to open closed doors and close the open ones. I rush through the wait to find answers and create quick solutions.  

But what if we entered our time of waiting with a sense of eagerness instead of animosity?  What if we leaned in with anticipation rather than anxiety? What if we waited with hope instead of despair?

What if we changed our perspective entirely, and began to see the wait as part of the promise instead of a means to the end?

What if we believed that God was up to something and that the result would be as good as He is?

If we trust that God is sovereign, we need to trust that the wait fulfills a purpose. It may not look the way we wanted or prayed for, but the process itself can draw us into a deeper relationship with Christ, grow our faith, and refine us into something more beautiful than we imagined.

5 Things To Do While We Wait

Honest truth? I often don’t feel like reading the Bible, praying, or worshipping God in my waiting season, but these are imperative disciplines to growing our faith and, ultimately, glorifying God. If we want the wait to be productive, we need to be proactive. Setting healthy patterns and habits in our lives will ensure we are ready for the wait when it comes.

Here are things we can do in both preparation for a waiting season AND when we’re smack dab in the middle of it.

Meditate on the Word – 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”  It’s ALL USEFUL. Read it, memorize it, meditate on it, sing it, study it.  It will teach you, rebuke you, correct you, and train you in righteousness. It will focus your attention on the truths of heaven rather than the things of earth.

Commit to a Bible Study in your church or with friends and keep “Study my Bible” at the top of your “To Do” list. If you need a place to start in your waiting season, try the book of James (be sure to look into what it means to have true joy when reading the first chapter) or an Old Testament book like Exodus or Daniel that speak of God’s sovereignty. Use one of our favorite Bible Study methods such as the Inductive Study to understand the incredible depth and truth of Scripture.

Pray – Seek God with your requests and be honest about your struggle through the wait (He really can handle it), but also ask Him for an open mind and heart as you wrestle through the uncertainty.  Be open to seeing things a different way and tell Him you trust Him with the process and the outcome.

Remember that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness – He hears our groans and intercedes for us when can’t find the words to speak (Romans 8:26). My favorite prayer of all time is known as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ and can be found in Matthew 6:9-13. It gives all glory and rightful dominion to God while asking for His Kingdom to come and will to be done. It gives me peace and security during a time of waiting.

Worship – It’s easy for me to worship and praise when things are going well – A whole lot harder when they’re not. Go ahead and blast that music in the car and let the tears fall. Praise Him anyway.

I have absolutely been that lady at the red light with hands raised high and snot pouring out of my nose in worship.  On one occasion I even rolled down my window to assure a concerned woman in a neighboring vehicle that I was indeed OK – Just praising God.

Here are some songs to sing during a time of waiting:

Talk to a Trusted Friend – Emphasis on the word trusted here. Choose people who are valiant prayer warriors and gifted secret keepers. Be candid about your wait and ask them to wage war with you. One word of caution, though – Be sure to meditate on the Word of God, spend time in prayer, and worship the Almighty God yourself instead of just asking others to do it for you. Preaching to myself here, friends. I’ve been guilty of calling or texting a friend to pray and then not even doing it myself.  I’ve welcomed encouraging scriptures from sisters before seeking truth in my own study of His Word. Let’s just be sure to be women of discipline in the waiting season instead of idle women of chatter… Just sayin’.

Reflect – Use a journal or quiet time to remember what God has done in the past. These can be personal stories of His faithfulness through other waiting seasons, or ones that resonate from Bible study and meditation. If you’re a regular journal-keeper, spend time looking over past prayers/entries and look for the ways God blessed you in times of waiting or difficulty. Keeping a journal can be a beautiful way of accounting for the things you’re learning and giving Glory to God for His ongoing faithfulness.

The End

Maybe you’ll wake up Christmas morning and find that everything you’ve been waiting for is right in front of you. But probably not.

And it’s OK. Transformative, even, if we allow the wait to mold us and make us into new creations for His great glory.

As followers of Christ, we can be assured that the wait will end.  

In great glory.

Revelation 21 testifies to the abundance we’ll receive after Jesus returns to make all things new:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

Until then, my friends, wait well. It will all be worth it in the end.

With great expectation,

Lisa

 

About the Author:

Lisa DaSilva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word. With an M.Ed in Curriculum Development and a teacher by trade and passion, she writes, speaks, and teaches the Bible to anyone who will read or listen. As the director of Arise Ministries Collective in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Lisa believes every woman has a voice. She longs for the day when they find freedom to use it for the glory of God and the furthering of His Kingdom. Lisa is a recovering striver, lover of simplicity and thrift store junkie. She often has to convince people she’s an introvert. Just a loud one. Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.

 

You Are God’s Masterpiece

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” -Ephesians 2:8-10, (emphasis added)

 

 The greatest artist of all calls you His masterpiece. The very one who took a desolate void and created light, separated land from sea, and spoke abundant vegetation and livestock into being then stood back in pleasure (Genesis 1) looks at you with the same admiration.

Take a moment to let this sink in, sister. Close your eyes and imagine yourself just as you are—every mistake, every joy, every heartache, and every scar. Now picture God in all His glory and perfection stepping back to admire each bit of you as His newest and most beautiful creation. He is the artist and the potter. You are His canvas and clay.

But it doesn’t stop there.

The Apostle Paul exhorts the church in Ephesus to take action. Understanding that each was exquisitely formed in the womb (Psalm 139:13-16) then birthed into a new creation upon belief and surrender to Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:10) was just the beginning. These masterpieces were not meant to simply hang on a wall, be placed in a cabinet, or set on a shelf to be admired.

They are masterpieces with a purpose.

There are things God planned and ordained for them to do.

 And while the Ephesians were created in that space and time for particular purposes, so were you created for this time and for specific good works.

It is not a mistake that you are alive and living in this season. It is not a mistake that you bear particular burdens and scars. It is not a mistake that you are unique and sometimes feel different and out of place. It is not a mistake that you have the neighbors, sphere of influence, gifts, talents, circumstances, and experiences that you do. Our great God has purposed and ordained you for such a time as this. A masterpiece designed to do “good things he planned for us long ago (Ephesians 2:10).”

Take a moment to be silent before the Lord. Let images of past experiences, joys, traumas, or sorrows flood your mind and heart. As they do, lay them before your Father, and praise Him. Each and every one of those experiences has prepared you for the work He wants you to do right now. In this very moment. For His glory.

Ask our great God to reveal the specific role He has for you today and in the days to come. Wait quietly and listen to His voice. Make note of the people, places, and situations He brings to mind. Who needs to know Christ as their personal Savior? Where can you serve and bring the light of Jesus? How can you be the Church, and who can you invite to come alongside you? What do you need to say or do to bring glory to God and make His grace and truth known to others?

As you begin to process God’s particular purpose for you in this season, be assured that He is raising up your fellow sisters to do their own good works for the Kingdom. The author of Hebrews reminds us to “hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works (Hebrews 10:23-24, NLT, emphasis added).”

While Scripture is clear that we have the same Missio Dei—the mission of God to bring Him glory and make that glory known to the world (1 Corinthians 10:31, Matthew 28:16-20)—the way He uses us as individuals to manifest that calling will be different for each (1 Corinthians 12). We must rally around one another and spur one another on as we seek to love the lost, love the Church, and share the gospel.

Prayer and Worship

Close your time today by listening to this song. Use it as a prayer and resurrender your life for His Kingdom purpose. And then, sweet sister, take a step down from the shelf and let Him take you where He wants you to go. Start living as the unique masterpiece you are.

“Sails” by Pat Barrett

“Canvas & Clay” by Pat Barrett

About the Author – Lisa DaSilva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, a teacher, and an advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul, and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word. Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.

Guarding My Heart: A Sixteen Year Old’s Thoughts on Creating and Surrendering to Gatekeepers

A couple years ago I was a part of a very toxic friend group. They were very two-faced and deceptive. I started to realize this half way through my eighth-grade year and after seeing the signs it all went downhill. I didn’t want to do all the things they started doing, so they started saying nasty things about me. Instead of letting it get to my head, I decided to start reading a devotional. It helped me work through all the painful behaviors that were going on and walk away from this group.

Now one thing that I do every morning to guard my heart is read from a daily devotional. The one I really love is “Devotions for the Soul Surfer,” by Bethany Hamilton. It is super relatable and I just love the way she has written it. Like most devotionals, it includes scripture alongside stories of her past experiences. Many are stories from when she was a teenager that encourage and inspire me to stay on my path with God. Reading through a daily devotional really helps me get into a good mood for the day and refreshes my mind. I definitely see a difference in myself after I read Scripture – I just feel like a happier, better version of myself.

This time also gives me a positive perspective of the world around me. So many things we encounter are out of our control. I stay close to God through reading my Bible along with the devotional. Doing these things reminds me of His promise to give me hope and a future and keeps me grounded. It equips me to be quick to forgive and see the best in others. It is currently teaching me how to define healthy boundaries with individuals I am around regularly and to choose my friends carefully – Reminding me to spend time with those who are like-minded, positive and who desire to walk with God, that care about me and my future, as much as I care about theirs.

I also think it’s important to receive what God promises us now. I not only believe in His plan for my future, but spending time with Him daily reminds me that He cares about my present life as well. He wants me to have a good life, good friends, good experiences, as well as peace – Free from anxiousness, stress and unnecessary troubles. The Bible says there will always be trials and tribulation, but those of us who have Jesus should find peace in Him.

Last month, my mom shared her thoughts about guarding her children’s hearts on this website (link here). As a teenager, it’s not always easy to accept what she thinks is best for me. Some of the toughest times are when I would like to go somewhere and she and my dad wont’ let me. They do explain why, whether it is unsafe, unhealthy or they do not know whom I will be with, but it is still hard to accept. Having parents who have rules and boundaries is going to impact me for the better when I am an adult. They have put guidelines around me since I was young that have helped me develop trust in myself and in God. By obeying them, they see that I am able to make good decisions and am trustworthy. When I mess up, they are there to help me reflect on it and learn from my mistakes. They teach me to discern what is right in more mature situations to come.  

Even though some of their rules are frustrating right now, I’m going to be thankful for them keeping me from things and teaching me to recognize things that could take me down the wrong path and affect my future.

Resources I Recommend 
  • Who Do You Think You Are: A 21 Day Journal for Teens by Ardren’s mom, Jen Windus – Available to purchase by emailing Jen. Inquire here.
  • The Bible App

Scriptures That I Lean On

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

“God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12

 

About The Author, Arden Windus:

I’m 16. I play soccer & love to ski, even though I hate the cold. I believe that life is short, so you do the things that you really love and be kind. My favorite colors are lavender and sage green. My absolute favorite place in the world is Hawaii!!

 

 

Guarding Their Hearts – One Mama’s Reflection on Being the Gatekeeper

My grandmother welcomed Jesus into her heart as she began to slip away from this world. She had been a hard-working nurse and mother of four. Widowed at a young age, she did not know what she did not know raising her young children. She did not know to guard their hearts from that which would seek to destroy them. She did not have a life filled with experiencing a relationship with Jesus, but I do believe she saw God’s goodness from time to time – Through her children when they were young, through the grandchildren that adored her and through her daughter who met Jesus in her 20’s and began to change before her own mothers eyes. 

That daughter was my mother – A woman who transformed the direction of our families’ spiritual legacy. 

She did this by making the boldest of changes when she said yes to Jesus among friends, siblings, and neighbors who could not see what she could see in Him. My mother went against the status quo and gave her life to the Lord so she and her children could live a different kind of life. So we could find a life of joy, peace, faith, and hope – Rooted in an understanding of true love. She undertook the challenge of what it meant to guard her own heart and ours. I continue the process of building this kind of legacy by creating a home centered around Christ – That my children may know how valuable their hearts are and learn to guard them on their own. So they can jump off my shoulders to reach even greater heights.  

The Castle & Its Sentry

I once heard a beautiful metaphor about guarding your child’s heart: “Build your castle strong and it will not crumble under attack.” In other words, guard your heart and you will not be destroyed by the things that would rob you of the life God has planned for you. It radically solidified my beliefs that this was my job with my children – To help build protection against influences that seek to destroy the goodness and purity of our children’s hearts. 

Before becoming a mom I had spent over 25 years caring for other people’s children, learning about children, and studying human development. The heart is the center of the castle, the eyes and ears are the gates. Do you remember the little song from Sunday School? “Be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little ears what you hear.” While children are at home, parents are the keepers of the gate or sentry.  Webster defines a sentry as “any of the men of a military guard posted to guard against danger.” A sentry has three responsibilities. First, they are to watch for the enemy or sheep in wolf’s clothing. Second, when the castle is under attack, the sentry must close the gates. Thirdly and possibly most importantly, the sentry notifies the King’s commander when an intruder has entered.  

Possible Intruders

When I was a girl I had a cousin who loved scary movies and I loved my cousin. So guess what I would watch when we were together? Yep. You guessed it. We were between 8-10 years old when we would go to our Grandmother’s house and spend the day running errands with her and playing outside. Our grandmother’s home was the home she had raised her children in. It was built in the 40’s with two stories and several bedrooms. Each bedroom had a small closet and was filled with all sorts of items from years of life including a bed left behind from each of the four children who were raised there. Three of whom were daughters who sewed. There were dress forms and sewing machines, boxes of fabric and other items that sparked the curiosity of young children. At times, several of her 13 grandchildren were in the house playing hide and seek together.  We loved her, so we loved her home. Unfortunately her house was broken into several times over the years. She was a nurse who lived on her own and worked nights. She had to put a special door on and she had loud feisty poodles on guard. This made for quite the setting for late night movies and wild imaginations.  So when she would go to bed we would stay awake and fill our minds and ultimately our hearts with what came across the television. Those characters made it into my heart and tried to haunt me for years. Leaving fear of places, situations and interactions. My parents had no idea we were watching these movies, no blame is to be placed, nor did they know the fear that had entered me. The experience had left its mark on my heart and the enemy had invaded my “castle.”

Other invaders through movies are pornography, sexual activity in youth, drugs, violence, and death. The lack of the value of life seeps in so quickly when your mind is numbed over time to the darkness of media through your eyes and ears. It makes me think of a movie where a man is sent by the enemy masquerading as friend. His chief purpose is to whisper evil into the ear of the king. As time passes and the words seep into his heart, the king begins to age and rot as he sits on the throne. Day by day the filth that is being spoken into him manifests on the outside as a once vibrant King begins to shrink on his throne. His beautiful blond hair turns stringy grayish white (not the beautiful salon style we see on models today) and his body grows weak.  The viewer can watch the damage done when an outsider who seeks to destroy goes after the heart to tear down the man. It is a guard who recognizes the strategy and does not give up attempting to rid the evil one from the kingdom.

As the mother of two teenagers I am glad I learned this while they were young. I am glad that God showed me the connection between what goes in and what comes out

Raising children to be solid and strong and in love with God is hard in this world of temptation and media all around them, but what I think would be even harder is to let them choose at a young age to listen or watch whatever they desire and then try and work in reverse to “clean it out” as it comes out of them with age. I am the guard of my child’s castle, and the sentry of our home.

Assuming Position

Dear mom, we are human. We are not perfect. We are tired. We are weary. We are distracted. 

We are also not alone on the journey of Motherhood. 

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses is our same God. He can give us the wisdom, energy and discipline to guard our children’s hearts. I challenge and encourage you to sit with Him today. Ask Him for courage if you need to better guard or change some things in your home, energy and wisdom to be more intentional with schedules or influences, and the desire to look at what is going into your children now that could come back and haunt them or derail them later. Put on your armor, take your position and stand guard. 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” Romans 8:28

 

 

Recommended Resources  
  • Love Is: A 21 Day Interactive Journal for Mama’s – Available to purchase by emailing Jen Windus. Inquire here.

 

Scripture to Encourage
  • Proverbs 4:23-27 
  • Psalm 84:11
  • Luke 6:45
  • Colossians 3:15
  • Philippians 4:7
  • 1Peter 5:8

 

About Jen Windus

Hi I’m Jen. I’m a friend of Jesus. Daughter of the Most High. Wife to my boyfriend and Mama to two miracles. I am a teacher by trade & at heart. I love the mountains, all creation and seeing light bulbs go off in people’s minds and faces as they learn and experience God’s love for them.

 

Things I’ve Gained Through Quarantine

Here we are. Again.

Eight months into this pandemic, and we are back on temporary lockdown. Can’t go here, can’t do this, you can do this but with these restrictions, etc, etc, etc. In some ways, 2020 has felt like one big “NO.” It is insane to me how the span of eight months can feel like an eternity. But if we are thinking in terms of actual eternity, eight months is merely the blink of an eye, an almost invisible blip on the radar. 

It goes without saying that, for almost everyone, this has been a year of loss. Some have experienced significant loss: the death of a loved one(s), job loss, financial hardship, marital strife or even divorce, or the loss of absolutely every earthly possession they own in the wildfires that ravaged our region. Many others have taken on incredible amounts of stress as they work the front lines of this pandemic (shout out to ALL healthcare workers, law enforcement, firefighters…you’re the real heroes), or try to navigate the challenges of working from home while also trying to homeschool their children (for anyone in this position, you da real MVPs). And almost everyone has taken on the burden of navigating the loss of relationships, connection with others, and the feeling of isolation that comes with having our everyday lives come to a screeching halt.

It can be easy to toss around Scripture during times of stress, loss, and grief. The Scripture below is no exception, but it truly is one of my favorites in the Bible:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am humble and gentle in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)

Stop for just a second. Read that again. What blows my mind is that Jesus desires to trade our heavy burdens for his light one. That He wants to exchange our trash for his treasure…if we would just come to Him. He promises rest. I don’t know about you, but I could sure use a healthy dose of that after this year.

Because of all this, it’s a little comical that I felt like the Lord was prompting me to write this post about things I’ve gained in quarantine. It is so easy for us all to revert to all the things we’ve lost this year…but what about the things we’ve gained? When I look back on 2020, am I going to remember all the hardships and inconveniences? Probably, yes. But even more so, I want it to be burned into my memory the things the Lord has revealed to me this year, both about Himself and about myself. I want to focus on the steps forward that I’ve made and view this year as pivotal in my walk with the Lord, not as a year to be forgotten or written off.

 

Gain #1: Perspective
  • Social media has taken the world by storm, even prior to COVID-19 and even more so after. While it can be used as an incredibly powerful tool to keep us connected to our family, friends and communities, ask yourself: is it draining you? Are you constantly comparing your life to others or dealing with discontentment based on the squares of other people’s so-called “life”? Are you going down rabbit trails and finding yourself wracked with anxiety? Fasting doesn’t necessarily mean abstaining from food and drink. Maybe it’s time to disconnect from the virtual world that we are immersed in and get back to basics. My phone has become an “escape” (dare I say…idol?) during this pandemic and I have been convicted on more than one occasion to set it aside and engage in what is right in front of me rather than what’s on a screen.
  • I have felt numerous times over the course of the past eight months that this pandemic is absolutely a tool that God is using to encourage His people to press “pause;” to slow down, to rest, and to lean into Him. Not just lean in, but rely on Him. A MAJOR reset. I have longed so many times in my adult life for things to slow down; to be able to off-load things from my plate, to spend more time at home with my family, to just breathe. Yeah, it’s not always easy working from home full-time with a toddler. I am wracked with mom guilt a lot because she has above-average screen time as I try to juggle several things at once (like everyone else). No, I don’t get a lot of alone time. BUT, I’m home with her. I’m here. And even if I don’t feel present all the time, I get to be the one to be here for everything. And this is time I will never get back.
Gain #2: Self-Awareness
  • The ironic thing is, now that life is moving at a much slower pace, I find myself trying to constantly replace (or fill) the slowness. I feel restless, sometimes borderline impulsive. Like I need to disrupt my newfound peace and quiet to feel “productive”. Why? Why can’t I just soak in the peace that I have been craving for so long (and that God has graciously gifted me with)? 
  • As an introvert and a homebody, my tendency is to isolate myself and to go inward, particularly when I’m struggling with my mental health. To stay in my bubble, safe and unbothered. That’s dangerous, because being in your own head all the time is unhealthy. The Lord recently made it very clear that I need to be more intentional with my intentionality: seek people out, seek out opportunities to connect and stay connected, and be present.
  • Reading my Bible is similar to exercising; I never regret doing it, and I always feel amazing afterward. Why, then, are these things SO difficult for me to stick with? Particularly with this extra time on my hands? Let’s be honest, I am not that busy. This just tells me that I have some serious re-prioritizing to do.
  • In the same breath, I’ve realized that I’m done riding the shame spiral. Done putting unrealistic expectations on myself, done feeling like a failure when I don’t meet these unrealistic expectations, done putting myself in a box. A dear friend (you know who you are) recently pointed out to me that I like to proclaim things about myself and write them off as “truth”. That I resign myself to “facts” about what I can or can’t do, or that I am/am not passionate about something because deep down, I’m afraid to be a child at something and to risk failure. Annnnd…mic drop.
Gain #3: Appreciation
  • I have been clinically diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This means that my brain literally never stops thinking, analyzing, worrying, etc. My therapist asked me once to think about when (if ever) I last experienced boredom. As the mother of a toddler, a serial overachieving perfectionist, and someone who used to base their productivity on how many boxes they could check off on their completely unrealistic to-do list, this was a completely foreign concept to me. For the first time in years, there are days during this pandemic where I have actually experienced boredom! It actually makes me feel triumphant when I start to feel bored, because this means that I am taking control of my mental illness rather than it taking control of me.
  • In contrast to my first bullet point, I am actually incredibly grateful for technology and the benefits it has given me during this time. I have transitioned to working from home full-time with virtually zero interruption and have been incredibly fortunate to remain employed; I am able to communicate and stay connected to those dearest to me; and I have even completed an inductive Zoom Bible study!
  • Finally, I am eternally grateful for the gift of time. Time with my daughter, time with my husband, time with Jesus. Time to breathe, time to explore hobbies I forgot I loved and passions I forgot I had. Time to focus on actual self-care (not just pampering and fluff): taking care of my mental, physical and spiritual health.

 

I guess what it boils down to is this: we have a choice. Every day, the stress of this year (or life in general) threatens to swallow us whole. And let’s be honest: some days we give in. We let doubt, fear, anxiety, worry, apathy, shame, guilt, and pride creep in and settle in the places where Jesus has been working so hard this year to clean house. It’s there that the enemy wants to keep us, focusing on all the things that have gone wrong this year and the uncertainty of what is to come.

But guess what? Jesus always has the final say. And He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it. Stay the course, friend. 

Much love,

Ali

 

About Ali Gadbaugh: Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Ali is a homebody who counts coffee, her husband and daughter, and Jesus as a few of her favorite things. She likes to add a little sarcasm and humor to life, and is passionate about growing and deepening her relationship with her Savior.

 

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