Monday, January 28, 2013

The Great Love of God

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39 ESV

Have you ever had the feeling that you woke up one morning and someone stole the life you were living? That’s how I felt a year and a half ago when my husband came home and announced he was given a pink slip that day. I knew it was coming. I had tried to prepare myself for it. But I could not have predicted the blow to my gut when the day finally arrived. It was surreal.

There are so many feelings that David and I have experienced as we are going through the process of loss and faith and trust. Though our world has fallen apart, God's love remains constant. We have had low times, and we have had days of celebration! I recently graduated with my Master’s Degree in Psychological Counseling and was invited to be part of a private practice. David continues to look for a full time position.

Through it all, we have turned toward one another and the Lord to sustain us. Jesus is amazing. He does not prevent bad things from happening, but His comfort and love are real.

David and I are grateful to know Him and to experience His love for us. We have truly discovered that nothing can separate us from the love of God. We are a product of His love. We can lift our hands and say Glory to God in the highest!

Have you encountered hard times recently? I hope you will be encouraged to know that He is with you. He carries you. And His love for you is infinite. Take some time today to thank Him for holding you and sustaining you with His unconditional love.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Friends ~ Susan Stilwell

Welcome to Encouraging Women today my dear friend, Susan Stilwell. I had the honor of meeting Susan at the 2011 NCompass Writers Retreat. Susan's the mastermind behind a lot of the things you see on my blog. Get ready to be encouraged and most likely challenged by her today! Welcome, Susan!

(1) Tell us a little about your family and growing up years. 

My dad is a bivocational Baptist minister, and I grew up in little country churches. My parents loved me and encouraged me to believe I could do anything! I’m the oldest of three girls, and a classic first-born. We moved several times when I was young, so I spent a good part of those years feeling awkward and lonely. Sometimes, that feeling still creeps up on me.

(2) When did you know God was calling you to write? 

Actually, my husband spoke that over me when our kids were toddlers! I got serious when I started writing my own Bible studies and lessons, around 2003. I really consider myself a student first, a teacher second, and a writer after that.

(3) Who is a person that is making and has made a strong impact on your life, and why? 

My husband, Steve. He’s rarely flustered, and can always switch gears and see the big picture. He’s also one of the most generous and gracious people I know.

(4) What is your life verse? 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace 
as you trust Him so you may abound with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
~Romans 15:13 

My middle name is Hope, and I’ve woven this verse into the long-version of my testimony. It's the lens through which I view life!

(5) Other than Jesus, what Bible hero would you like to talk to? 

Gracious, so many - Joseph, David, Daniel, Peter. Since most of your readers are women, I’ll go with two ladies: OT - Deborah the Judge. NT – Lydia from the church in Philippi.

(6) What in depth Bible study would you recommend to my readers? 

An older Precept Upon Precept study, Kinsman Redeemer. (Actually, I’m a fan of PUP studies in general. They’re all great!)

(7) Tell us of how you came to a saving relationship with Christ? 

Growing up in a Christian home, I always believed in Jesus but I didn’t always belong to Him. When I was five years old, I asked Him into my heart because I knew that’s what He wanted to do. But when I was 12, I understood that my sin separated me from God, that I needed to be forgiven for my sin, and that Jesus was the only One Who could forgive me. So I guess my coming to faith had two points: believing at age 5, repenting at age 12.

(8) Please give a word of encouragement and hope to my readers who may be struggling today. 

No matter what’s going on in your life, nothing is outside God’s ability or desire to redeem. NOTHING. Once you fully trust Him with a situation, He’ll bring healing and restoration. It might not look like what you imagine, but it will be something that deepens your faith and reveals His glory.

Susan Stilwell lives in Roanoke, VA with her husband, Steve, and their Yorkie, Sophie. She has two kids in college: Scott at Virginia Tech, and Sarah at James Madison University. When the whole family is home, she makes sure to have three things handy: a pot of hot coffee, a jigsaw puzzle, and a board game.

She's a passionate teacher of God's Word, and enjoys writing lessons and Bible studies. She's also a conference speaker and has helped lead tours to the Holy Land. 

You can find Susan on Twitter (@susanrstilwell), Facebookand her inspirational site,

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Are You Hot?

So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,[a] I will vomit you out of My mouth. (Revelation 3:16, NKJV)

Outside, the air was frigid. It was as if I had walked out of a warm bath into an ice box. As I walked out to the car, I felt the Lord's prompting.

"That's how some of my children are towards me. They don't have the burning desire they once had."

This verse tells us that if we're lukewarm, the Lord will vomit us out of His mouth. That's harsh, I know. But that's what He wants. He doesn't want a Lukewarm Christian...He wants a fully commited one. Is that us? Are we the fully commited followers God wants?

Father, help us to follow You in the way YYou would have us to. Give us that burning desire in our spirit. Amen.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Thank You Lord

Today, I want to share something with you that's really ministered to me over the last few weeks.

Just a few weeks ago, I checked my email like every other day. I received a pleasant suprise when a lady that I haven't corresponded with in a year emailed me out of the blue.Through our emails, we shared with one another some of our struggles over this last year. She sent me this poem that she'd written over 20 years ago when she was going through a storm. That lady was Ellen Andersen. Ellen's words touched my heart that day. I can assure you that she will bless you as well. Ladies, if you're going through a storm today, let me encourage you, take Ellen's words to heart.

I think we all go through tough times; I know I do, and it can make me ask God what's going on, especially when the Bible tells us to be thankful to Him in all things. It doesn't say to be thankful for all things though. Perhaps this is a way to handle the dichotomy.

"Thank You Lord"
                   It is hard to thank you O Lord for my trial
But I thank you for being here all the while.
It hasn't been easy--You're here just the same
I know that with You I'll survive ‘mid the flame.

As the waves roll in and wash over me
It feels like I'm being pulled out to the sea
But, just like Peter so long long ago
My feet remain steady, my eyes fixed on You.

Thank you O Lord for good family and friends
For people who care, and pray, and attend
To my needs and my tears when the latter do fall.
I thank you that they have been there one and all.

Thank you as well for the lessons I'm learning,
As I go through this struggle and find my world turning
Sometimes in a whirlwind, sometimes upside down
                   But You hold me fast with my feet on the ground.

You are the soil and in You I'm planted
And I thank You for all the gifts that You've granted.
You've given me so much to be thankful for.
Please Lord, forgive me when I've asked for more.

Help me to trust you and lean on your grace
Until I can see You one day face to face.
Then I will know and I will understand
How all these things fit into Your perfect plan.

                   Not one in the Bible who was well-esteemed
                   Went through their life without being redeemed
                   From trouble of some kind; each had many trials.
                   The outcome of these is what made them worthwhile.

Job lost his children, his cattle, his wealth.
Then Satan even robbed him of his health.
But Job remained faithful; and he did not sin.
All that he had he gave to You again.
Job passed the test; You had him restored.
You always have held steadfast to Your Word.

Thank you my Father that in You I trust.
Thank you for being so holy and just.
Thanks for your mercy, forgiveness, and love.
Thank you for helping me to look above.

                   Thanks for the promise that I am Your child
That in the end this life will be worthwhile.
Thanks for equipping me now and always.
Thank you that You're with me through all my days.

For more encouragement and also to meet one of the sweetest ladies, visit Ellen at her blog at:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Those Nagging Thoughts

They will fight against you,
But they shall not prevail against you.
For I am with you,” says the Lord, “to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:19, NKJV)

The thoughts swirled around in my head. It was as if the enemy had been given a pass that gave him the freedom to get inside my mind and take over!

"I don't feel like writing. I don't feel worthy. I'm not as good as you." The enemy was having a field day with me that night. I was comparing myself to another writer. I was told, "write anyway. And yes you are worthy...because God gave you the call." Edie Melson helped me put things into perspective that day. My mind also goes back to a time when she forced me to turned to her and repeat the words, "I am a writer." When she responded with "you're a writer because Edie Melson said so," that changed my life. Ladies, are the thoughts spinning around in your head? Are they telling you how much you're not worthy of the call God has placed on your life? Are you comparing yourself to another? My sweet sister, Satan is a liar! He's here to kill, steal and destroy. Let's stand up and refuse to let him!

Father, thank You for friends that will give us the perspective we need to have. Thank You Lord for giving us each an indevidual call on our life. Help us each to use it effectively for You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Are the Rocks Crying Out?

But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19:40, NKJV)

While listening to a favorite speaker the other day, she made a great point. She was speaking on how to be beautiful in the eyes of the Lord. One of her points was that we should worship in the inner beauty shop. In other words, we should set aside a time each day for worship. Not only that, but we should also be focused on true worship when we're in church. This verse plainly states that if we choose not to worship Him, the rocks will do it for us. This lady asked a great question. Are the rocks crying out in our church? More importantly, are the rocks crying out in our place? Ouch, I know. Ladies, let's commit to worship Him today. Let's commit to truly worship. After all, He's the only one worthy of our worship and praise.

Father, help us truly worship You. Give us that desire. Let us focus on you above anything and everything else. In Jesus Name, amen.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Unexpected Blessings

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19, NKJV)

"I have news." Those were the words I read in an email. "someone has paid for your intired conference fee." At the time I was wondering how I'd pay the registration cost (which had been raised.) God had it in His plan all along for my fee to be paid for. Have you ever had something happen that you felt like was out of the blue? It was an expected blessing. We may feel those things come out of the blue, but God already knows what we need in advance.

Father, thank You for always knowing the big picture. Thank You for meeting our needs even before we ask. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Strength for the Weary Soul

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength. (Isaiah 40:28-29, nkjv)

The tears pooled down my face in a steady stream. I felt like I couldn't endure the pain anymore. My soul was weary. My faith was shaken. My mind was a jumble of thoughts. Through a dear friend, I was reminded that though I was weary and tired, my God was there. My God wasn't, and would never grow weary. He sees my pain.

She brought my mind to the words of a familiar hymn. The hymn was "turn Your Eyes Apon Jesus." In this song, it speaks of being wear and tired. But, there's light in the darkness. Are you at aplace of wearyness today? Do you feel like you can't go on another step? Sweet sister, God is there. When you're powerless to go another mile, He gives you the strength.

Father, thank You for the strength you provide. Thank You for providing friends that point us back to you at our darkest moments. May each reader find their strength in You. In Jesus Name, Amen.