Dashing Devotional: Trading Bondage for Freedom

June 26th, 2015 - Dashing Devotionals

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When it comes to breaking free from bondage, I have found that many people often dread the work that comes with being free…And to be honest, I completely understand!  I don’t know about you, but just hearing the phrase, “breaking free from bondage” seems strenuous and down-right uncomfortable! This is especially true for many people when it comes to losing weight, or reaching a health or fitness goal.

After years of working with people, and experiencing change  in many areas of my own life, I have come to find that the reason change often seems so difficult is that we are trying to make it happen backwards! The bible says in Proverbs 23:7, “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” This means that if you are ever going to experience freedom in any area, you are going to have to start to see yourself as free on the inside before you see it on the outside.

I have learned that lasting change in any area truly starts and takes place right in between your ears, or in our minds. We must realize that we have an enemy, the devil, and he can only attack us in one area, in our minds, and he does so with lies and deception. One of the most common lies that the enemy tries to get us trapped in is to make us think that we are, (and will always be) slaves and in bondage to things. He comes at us with this lie because he knows that as long as he can get you to believe that you are a slave to a certain habit, behavior, or thing, you will never be able to break free, which is right where he wants you to stay.

The good news is however is that Christ came to set us free from ALL bondage! In fact, if you are born again, the Bible says you are ALREADY free. “Whom the son has set free, is free indeed” (John 8:36).  This means that when you ask Jesus to be your Savior, that you are free from the power that sin once had over you.

I  like to think of it it like a person who is in a jail cell with the door locked, and when Jesus comes along, He comes and unlocks the door, and says, “come on out, your free!” But just as we are about to step out, the devil says “wait, who told you that you could leave? You are not really free, and you never will be. You will be in bondage to this thing, habit, or lifestyle forever!” And so, the born again believer stays in the jail cell, with the door wide open, when all they needed to do was take a step out into freedom!

Taking this step into freedom does require action on our part, and it takes effort to Renew our Minds with God’s Word, and learn our identity in Christ.  The first step often requires us humbling ourselves before the Lord, and repenting of our behaviors that are not glorifying to Him, and ask for His help to change. He will always be there to respond to our cry, and He is a good Father that loves and desires to take our hand and lead us into freedom.

The next step is getting into the Word of God, and asking God to renew our minds, and help us to see ourselves as the overcomer that He has created us to be. It also means praying specifically about the things that we desire change in on a daily (sometimes multiple times a day) basis!

This process of walking into total freedom can often happen in steps and stages, like peeling back layers on an onion. The reason for this is simply because many of us have lived in bondage to things for many years and it often takes time for our minds to be renewed, and our hearts to respond to the Lord and change. The important thing to remember however, is that God has already given you everything you need to walk in total victory and freedom in every area of your life, and the very first step is to see yourself as you truly are in Christ…totally and completely set free!

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Dashing Devotional: Renewing Your Mind

June 10th, 2015 - Dashing Devotionals

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The Bible tells us in Romans 12:2 that we should not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but that we should be transformed by the renewing of our minds. When I began to apply the truths of this powerful scripture to my own life, I finally began to see true transformation that turned my life around. I went from living a life that was bound and limited, to one that was free from the restrictions that once held me back.

If you are desiring a transformation in any area of your life, I would encourage you to begin by asking yourself three general questions.

1. First, ask yourself the question: How do you see yourself?

The Bible says in Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” This means that it doesn’t matter how much we try to change the outside, what we believe about ourselves and how we see ourselves on the inside will ultimately be what we become on the outside.

I would encourage you to start this journey by getting alone with God, and ask Him to show you any areas that you may be believing lies and to help you see yourself as He sees you!

2. How do we begin to see ourselves as God sees us? 

In order to start to see ourselves as God sees us, we have to start to reading and trusting what God says about us in His Word. A great place to start is Ephesians 2:10, which says, “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.” This means that God created each one of us with a unique purpose! Even more specifically, God gave each one of us gifts, talents, and strengths to fulfill this purpose.

I would encourage you to start asking yourself; What are your God-given gifts and strengths? For example, do you have a servant’s heart? Are you compassionate? Are you an encourager? Begin by asking the Lord to show you the things that He has placed on the inside of you that make you special and unique. Write these things down and choose to focus on these things daily.

Ask the Lord to develop these qualities within you and to give you the desire to bless others with them. When you start to focus on living your life to bless others with your God given gifts, I can promise you that you will begin to see the world around you through God’s eyes and it will take your eyes off any negative thought pattern that used to plaque you. Not only that, but you will begin to leave a lasting impression on others and impact those around you in a powerful way!

3. How do we transform our minds with God’s Word?

Joshua 1:8 says, “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” If we want to be transformed from the inside out, this scripture tells us that the most important thing we could do is spend time in God’s Word every day and to do what it says! This doesn’t mean that we can read the Bible once a week or once every few days and expect to be radically changed. The key word in Joshua 1:8 is continually!

We can see in the second part of this passage that we are to meditate in the Word day and night. The meditate means to think upon, or to ponder. When we spend time reading the Bible each morning, we can pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help us stay focused on the truths of those scriptures all throughout the day, which is actually a form of meditation! Not only will this type of meditation lead to true peace and joy, but it will bring you to a place where you will find true transformation that comes from the inside out.

A renewed mind brings transformation!

Renewing your mind is certainly a process, and it generally takes a period of time to uproot lies and plant the truth of God’s Word… But when you do, there is a transformation that takes place that is so beautiful and freeing!

A renewed mind also doesn’t mean a life free from problems or negative thoughts… we are all bound to have days where the enemy will try to come back and tempt us with lies. The difference, however, will be that we will be able to recognize the lies and combat them with the truths of God’s word, which means we won’t fall prey to the same deceptions that we used to!

One thing is for sure, in this life we will all face trials, but when we surrender them to the Lord, He can take our broken hearts, thoughts, and lives, and transform them into something beautiful!

Prayer for a transformed mind:

“Father, I pray that you would search my heart and mind and show me any area that is not in agreement with what you say about me in your Word. Help me to see the gifts and strengths are that you have placed on the inside of me, and help me to use them for your glory. I pray that as I study your Word that it would come alive to me, and that you would help me to find truths that would replace any lies that I have been believing. I pray for your Spirit to strengthen me, and to help me discern any lies that would come at me from the enemy and to replace them with your truth. Lord, I ask that you would transform me from the inside out, and that you would help me to become all that you created me to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

For More Scripture Based Prayers on Who You Are in Christ Click Here! 

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Scripture Based Prayers on Your Identity in Christ

June 4th, 2015 - Dashing Devotionals, True Beauty

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From the very beginning of time Satan came as a serpent to tempt Adam and Even by distorting the truth of God’s Word in the garden (Genesis 3). Fast forward to when Jesus walked the earth, and we can see that the enemy used the same old tricks when he tempted Jesus multiple times using deception (Matthew 4). Satan is pulling the same conniving stunts today, but he is not quite as clever as some might believe. He is still using deception, lies, and distortion of the truth to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10)… and it is all done with one motive, which is to steal our identity.

The enemy has and will continue to aim his attack at our identity for one simple reason. If he can rob us of the truth of who we are, he can steal everything that God has destined for us to become while we are on this earth.

The Bible clearly tells us that we are in a war (Ephesians), and we can see that the battleground is in our minds. The good news is that God has given us everything we need to fight against these lies and attacks, and with God on our side we will always overcome! We must do our part, however, which means using the weapons that He has given us to defend and fight against the lies that the enemy aims at us. We do this using what Ephesians calls the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God!

I have provided some scripture based prayers that you can use to fight when the battle is raging for your identity as a child of God, a beautiful daughter of the King, and the valuable woman that you are. It’s time to raise our swords, ladies, and fight back against the enemy of our soul using God’s powerful Word! Let us remind ourselves of who we are in Christ and the great and awesome destiny that God has for each one of us!

Below is a link to a PDF download that is filled with prayers based off of God’s Word to remind you of who you are in Christ! I would recommend taking your time going over each prayer, and spend time meditating on it all throughout the day. Also, I would encourage you to add your own scripture based prayers to this list as God speaks His precious promises directly to your heart!

Click Here to Download the Scripture Based Prayers on Your Identity in Christ!

 

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Dashing Devotional: You are Worthy of Love

May 8th, 2015 - Dashing Devotionals, Disordered Eating, True Beauty

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I believe that one of the greatest areas of struggle that women face in our society today is related to self image, but even more specifically, body image. I believe that one of the greatest roots behind low self esteem stems from the unfulfilled core desire of every woman, which is the need to be loved. This desire for love often goes much deeper as it poses the unending question in so many of us, which is… Am I Worthy of Love?

Whether you have asked yourself this question out loud before, or it is the first time you really thought about it, I can pretty much guarantee that almost every woman has asked herself this question in her heart…. and it just so happens that it most likely gets asked when we look in the mirror.

With the ever prevalent images and messages that come at us through magazines, commercials, billboards…(you name it), we are constantly having a picture painted for us that would tell us what a woman should be, in order to be lovely. Unfortunately, if we do not feel that we live up to that unrealistic standard, deep down so many of us struggle with the lies that we are ugly, overweight, not good enough, and therefore…unworthy of love.

After struggling with eating disorders for many years, I know this feeling all too well. I was constantly comparing myself and measuring my self worth among societies standards, and other girls, which always left me feeling that I was coming up short. This mindset led to unhealthy behaviors and thoughts, which led me to believe that if I were ‘thin enough’, that I would finally feel beautiful and confident.

After years of trying to control my weight, and getting down to dangerously low body fat levels, I can now look back and say without hesitation that I was never satisfied. In fact, the struggle and strain that I put on my body and mind in order to maintain a ‘perfect’ image only led to further dissatisfaction with my body and my self-worth.

Looking back, I now know that the reason I was never satisfied with my body image, (regardless of how skinny I got, or how I looked), was because I was searching for acceptance according to this worlds systems. If you haven’t personally been down the path of trying to find fulfillment from the things of this world- let me spare you the wasted time, energy, and pain…Nothing This World Has to Offer Ever Satisfies!

Ultimately, my road to healing began when I started to look to Jesus for my validation and I let Him answer my ever present question….am I worth of love?

If you can relate to my story, or you have ever found yourself thinking negatively about your body, or yourself in general, I would ask yourself this question: Do You Know that You are Worthy of Love?  

You are not worthy because you are skinny enough, you have the most beautiful hair, you are toned, or you are the best dressed. You are not worthy of love because you are the smartest, you are the most organized, are the best mom, or are the most successful. You are not worthy of love because you have the cleanest house, have the most perfect marriage, or have the most beautiful skin.

You my friend are WORTHY of love, simply because your God says that you are. In fact, Psalm 139:14 says that “You are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” by the Lord. The word ‘wonderfully’ means to be distinct or unique. This verse says that God made you special, and that no one else is like you! How is that for validation!?! God loves you so much that He created every detail of you with great though in mind, so that each one of us would be unique! And He didn’t make a mistake! Every part of you was designed in order to fulfill the special purpose and plan that He has for you.

If the fact that you are truly one of a kind isn’t convincing enough that you are amazing, think about the fact that you were created in the image of a powerful, great, almighty God! (Genesis 1:27)

Now, this might all sound wonderful, but let’s get down to the nitty-gritty on actually applying this principal- because let’s face it, at the end of the day, we may know that we are accepted and loved by God, but we also want to feel good about ourselves, and having peoples approval certainly helps!

I can speak from experience when I say, this is where the work and time must be put in to Renew our Minds with God’s Word. Romans 12:2 tells us not to be conformed to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This scripture was a vital part to my inner healing, and it truly was the first step in finding my fulfillment in the Lord.

You see, it wasn’t until I actually laid down my ‘self’ and my selfish desires to feel good about ‘myself’ and trade it in for what God almighty says about me that I truly was satisfied. I will be honest and tell you that it is a process, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but the peace of knowing who I am in Christ is well worth the effort!

I can now honestly say that I am free from the bondage of self-acceptance, or the need to be approved by others, simply because everything that I am is found in the one who created me. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have my ‘days’ where I have to remind myself of the truth…and laying my ‘self’ at the feet of Jesus is a daily (and sometimes multiple time a day) event. However, the freedom, joy, and acceptance that only He can give is the very thing that keeps me running back to Him.

I pray that this devotional encouraged you today, and that no matter where you are today, you have a revelation that God almighty, the one that created you, and the one that knows you by name- calls you worthy of love….Just as you are at this very moment.

He finds no spot, flaw, or blemish in you, (Song of Solomon 4:7), and He wants to fill you up with His love today.

 

 

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Dashing Devotional: Against all Hope, Believe in Hope!

April 22nd, 2015 - Dashing Devotionals

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Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast. Hebrews 6:19

Do You Need Hope?

Have you ever had a time in your life where you were praying about something and you started off in faith, but as time went on with no obvious answer, you eventually started to lose hope?

If this sounds familiar, I will tell you that you are certainly not alone! In fact, if you are believing God for anything at all in your life, you most likely will face a situation like this, (I know I sure have!)

So, what do we do when we are believing for something, and we don’t see it come to pass in the timing or the way we were hoping?

When I have questions, I look to the Bible, and see if I can draw from people who had similar experiences to answer my questions.

There are various places throughout scripture where we can see that against all hope, God made a way when people put their trust in Him. Just a few of my favorite stories include David defeating Goliath, God parting the Red Sea for Moses and the Isrealites when they were being chased by the Egyptians, and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown into the fire, yet coming out without any burns, or even the smell of smoke! 

With all of these amazing stories of God’s faithfulness, we can certainly be encouraged in our own journey, however, what do we do when we feel like the hope that was once blazing starts to dwindle to a flickering flame?

What Does the Bible Say About Hope?

This is where Hebrews 6:12-20 comes in to give us wise instruction on how to believe in hope against all hope! In fact, this passage of scripture is titled, The Certainty of God’s Promise in the NIV translation! Let’s look at what it has to say:

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.”And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised…Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

This passage of scripture was written to a group of Hebrew Christians that were being harassed by others because of their profession of faith in Christ. They were outcasts, impoverished and even being physically persecuted. And we can see that because of these circumstances, they were growing weary, and becoming discouraged.

For us, this same passage of scripture can be encouraging, regardless of what circumstances we may be facing. In the very beginning of this passage, we can see that Abraham was used as an example to us of someone that inherited what they were believing God for by faith and patience.

This passage also encourages us to keep on hoping! It tells us to let hope be an anchor to our soul, (or our emotions), keeping us steady and secure when we are trusting in His promises!

Another passage of scripture that echo’s this same message is Romans 4:18-21, which says:

Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.”

What I love about these two passages are that they are parallel in so many ways, both painting a picture of hope, using Abraham as our example! When we look at Abraham’s life, he certainly had good reason to doubt God would do what He said in the natural. The scripture tells us that him and his wife Sarah were past childbearing years, yet he did not allow this, or the time that passed between God’s promise and the birth of Isaac (which was 25 years) sway him!

How do We Handle the Waiting Time?

We can see from these scriptures that Abraham’s hope was based on the promises of God. Because he knew God, and had a relationship with Him, Abraham was able to be fully persuaded that God would do what He promised. This leads me to my first point, which is that without an intimate relationship with our Father God, we can have a hard time receiving at times, because we have a hard time trusting Him, and His nature. For this reason, I would encourage everyone to pursue their personal relationship with Jesus before anything else, because as you get to know His heart, and what His will is (by reading the bible), you will have a much easier time developing trust in Him, and knowing what His will is for your life. (This is crucial, because if you don’t know that it is His will or promise to you, how can you be assured in hope that He will provide it?)

The second thing that we can see that Abraham did in the waiting was patiently endure in faith. Those two words (patience and faith) are used time and time again in scripture when it comes to describing Abraham, which shows us how essential they are in the waiting time. I have found many times in my own life that God has me waiting on things that I know are His will for my life, simply because He is teaching me something in the process, or it is not the right timing yet. It’s times like these that we need to hold onto hope as we patiently remain in faith, trusting that God will do what He promised at the right time.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are things that are provided for us in our covenant with Jesus (Isaiah 53:4-6), which God gives to us the moment we ask, because Jesus died to provide it, and it’s a free gift that we simply need to receive. However, there are times of trial, temptation, and testing that we can see that even Jesus went through in order to strengthen Him (Matthew 4:1-11 ). We can also see all throughout scripture that God is very orderly, and He cares more about our hearts than giving us something that ultimatley could harm us if it is too soon.

What if I’m Not Perfect?

When it comes to faith, the bible is very clear that when we ask God for something, we need to believe we receive what we are asking for without doubting, (James 1:6). So, when it comes to asking and believing God for something (according to His will), the bible says that we have to stand in faith without doubting. This doesn’t mean that we will always be perfect in our faith, and we can ask God to help us overcome doubt when we feel a lack of faith (Mark 9:24). This scripture goes on to say inJames 1:6-7 goes on to say, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord. This tells us that we do need to deal with unbelief when we are struggling with it, because it can hinder our receiving from God, even if it is His will and timing to provide it. 

So, does this mean that in order for God’s promises to be fulfilled in our lives, we have to do things perfectly? Certainly not! If we look more in depth at the story of Abraham, we can clearly see that he didn’t do things perfectly. In fact, he got off of God’s plan in a pretty big way when he stepped out ahead of God, trying to make the promise come to pass (see Genesis 16).I don’t know about you, but this is a bit reassuring at times to me, because I know that at times I run out ahead of God and lean to my own understanding as well.

This goes with out saying that Abraham’s disobedience cost him greatly, (just as it will when we don’t follow God’s plan), but God still brought His promises to pass in Abrahams life, despite him not being perfect. This my friends is a beautiful picture of God’s unconditional love and grace in action…and Praise God, He is still in the love and grace business today!

How Do We Remain in Hope? 

If you take nothing else with you today, I want you to grab hold of the very essence of this message, which is HOPE! How do we get and stay in hope when everything around us seems to be falling apart? Let’s look again at Hebrews 6:19, which says, We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

This verse paints a picture of hope being like an anchor, which I love, because it is generally in the ‘storms’ of life, when it feels like we are being tossed around, and out of control that we we need an anchor the most. I like to think of it this way, when we put our anchor of hope down deep in the Lord, and we make the choice to trust Him of focusing on the wind and the waves, He will keep us steady and sure all the way through our circumstances. It is only when we get our eyes on the problem, and allow the waves to get in our ship that we will start to sink…but hope in God is a powerful force that will keep us anchored no matter what storms come our way!

The good news is, hope is not something that we need to muster up on our own! God loves you so very much, and wants to fill you with hope, so he made it very easy…all you have to do is ask! Today, if you feel like you have lost hope, or just want to be re-assured of your hope in the Lord, I would invite you to pray this prayer with me!

Prayer for Hope:

Jesus, I thank you for the hope that is only found in you. I thank you for your Word, which fills me with assurance of your great and precious promises for me. Lord, I pray that today you would fill me with hope, and that you would help me to be anchored deeply in you. Help me to keep my eyes on you Father God, instead of the circumstances, and I pray that you would calm my emotions, my anxieties, and that you would flood me with your perfect peace as I keep my mind stayed upon you. I trust you Father. I know that you are working all things together for my good, and you will turn this situation around for your glory. I thank you Lord for filling me with hope, until it overflows. In Jesus’ Name, Amen! 

Were you blessed by this devotional? Find more just like it in my new devotional book, Devotions for a Healthier You!  

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Dashing Devotional: Finding Freedom in Forgiveness.

April 3rd, 2015 - Dashing Devotionals

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Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. –Colossians 3:13

With today being Good Friday, I had plans to write about the most amazing gift that God ever gave, His Son Jesus.

However, when I went to write this devotional, God placed something different on my heart than the traditional Easter message. As I began to think about Jesus, I couldn’t help but think about a common theme of His life and death, which I believe comes down to love and forgiveness.

I know that forgiveness isn’t necessarily the most enjoyable thing to talk about, and it can be a hard topic for some. However, when we think about Jesus, it is impossible to separate the two.

Romans 3:25 tells us that, “God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.” Jesus’s sacrifice was the greatest act of forgiveness that the world has ever and will ever know.

There is truly no need to go in depth beyond this perfect sacrifice, but it goes without saying that Jesus also displayed forgiveness countless times in His own life to various people who ridiculed and mocked Him. One of these people included His disciple and close friend, Judas, who betrayed Him when He needed him most. And we can’t forget the act of mercy He displayed to the thief hanging on the cross next to Him, even at His own darkest hour.

This my friends is why I want to talk about forgiveness on this Good Friday. Because on the day that we set aside to think about what Jesus did for us, and how He died while we were yet sinners… We would be unjust to think that we have a reason or a right to hold unforgiveness towards anyone, when Jesus paid the ultimate price for us to be forgiven of so very much.

Regardless of who you are, one thing is true for us all, and that is we have all been hurt by people.  Relationships can be one of the most uplifting things in our lives, and at the same time,  one of the most damaging.  There may be things done or said about you that seem unforgivable.  You may find yourself in a place wanting to forgive, yet the hurt and pain is still gnawing at your memory.  Often we find ourselves in self-protection when we have been hurt, and we put up walls to shut people out. 

So, how do we get past the pain and find freedom in forgiveness? One of the most important steps is realizing that forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a commandment from the Lord, and it is ultimatley for our own good.  It is also not an excuse for what was done to us.  When we forgive, it is not allowing that person to get away with what they have done.  Forgiveness does one thing… it sets US free.  When we hold on to the hurt and pain of our past, it keeps us bound there.

When we find it hard to forgive, we can go to the Father and ask Him to change our hearts towards that person, and to help us see them through His eyes. Ultimatley, He would never expect us to do this on our own, and He would never ask us to do anything that is impossible for us to do with His help. In fact, Jesus knows exactly what we are going though when we are wronged by others, yet He was the perfect example of forgiveness.  We see in the Bible that He didn’t just forgive the people of their sins, but He prayed for them, and blessed them.

Anytime we are tempted to hold on to what someone has done to us, we need to remember how Jesus was beaten, cursed, and crucified even though he was innocent.  Despite the pain of those words and physical pain of the crucifixion, he still prayed, “Lord, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Today as we meditate on the goodness of our Savior, let us remember the legacy of love and forgiveness that He left as an example to us. He is ready and willing to and pour out that same love into our hearts towards those that have hurt us, all we have to do is be open to receiving. When we forgive those that have hurt us, it is then that the healing can begin in our hearts, and we can be free.

Prayer:  “Lord, I pray that you help me to forgive _____ for hurting me.  Help me to remember your nature of forgiveness and that you have forgiven them and love them the same as you do me.  Help me to act in the same forgiving power that you did as you were on the cross.  Thank you for remembering my sins no more and removing them from me.  Help me to extend the same mercy towards this person.  I pray that you take away the hurt, anger, and bitterness, and bring healing, restoration, and forgiveness.  In Jesus name, Amen!”

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Dashing Devotional: Praying for Your Marriage

March 18th, 2015 - Dashing Devotionals, Kids/Family

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For where two or more are gather in my name, there am I with them. -Matthew 18:20

You may be wondering why I chose to write a devotional on marriage on a health and wellness website. Well, I truly believe that every area of our life has the potential to make an impact on our well being, but most definitely the most important relationship in this life, which is marriage. For this reason, I felt the Lord prompting me to share about how God has transformed my own marriage by His grace, and how the power of prayer has radically blessed the relationship between my husband and I. But first, let me tell you a little bit about my husband and I, and how we met…

I met my husband when I was 16 years old at our high school homecoming dance. I was the new girl in town, and I got asked to go to the dance with his best friend. It didn’t take long before I noticed Sean, and he had his eye on me as well. Let’s just say that his best friend was pretty bummed out when I ended up spending most of the night talking to Sean… and the rest was history! We ended up dating all through my junior and senior year of high school and all through college.

After almost seven years of dating (and the year before I graduated from nursing school), Sean proposed to me. He surprised me by flying out to Orlando, Florida, where I was on a spring break trip with my family. One night my family and I went to Disney’s Cinderella castle for dinner. As I was being seated, out of the corner of my eye I saw my prince walking towards me!  He got down on one knee and asked me to be his bride…to which I responded, “Well of course!”

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After five years of marriage, I can honestly say that this was the best ‘yes’ I’ve ever said, (outside of giving my heart and life to Jesus). On August 8, 2009 (the summer after I graduated from nursing school) we got married, and embarked on our life-long journey together.

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As wonderful, exciting, and blessed as our journey has been so far, there have also been some really hard days, seasons, and trials that have come our way. This may come as a shock to some people, because let’s face it, the hard times are not the things that are captured in pictures or featured on Facebook or Instagram… But it’s true, we have had our fair share of storms, just like every other married couple!

Now don’t get me wrong, the majority of our married life has been absolutely wonderful, and I look forward to the years to come! However, just like everyone who has been married for any length of time, we have endured some hard days together. Some of them have been the result of natural life events, such as facing loss, stress, changes of careers, etc.

These ‘storms’ of life are bound to come, but there are also things that come against us that feel like a direct attack on our marriage. These are the types of attacks that I am convinced are meant to steal, kill and destroy our marriages. It is important to recognize that they are sent by the enemy, and they are bound to come (John 10:10). How do I know this? Because I know the devil hates marriage, especially when it is a marriage with God in the center. Why!?! Because marriage between a man and a woman reflects the relationship between Christ and His bride (the church). Not to mention, a couple joined together with the dream to expand God’s kingdom puts a serious threat on the kingdom of darkness.

Does this mean that every marriage is doomed to failure? Certainly not! God has given us everything we need to be victorious in marriage, and He is for us! So, what can be done to protect and guard this beautiful relationship that God has created between a man and woman? Just like everything else in life, I am convinced that the power is in prayer!

Now, before I go any further on the subject of praying for your marriage, I do want to be sensitive and address the fact that some couples would benefit from seeking Godly counsel, and I truly do think it is wise for all married couples to have mentors in their life regardless of circumstances. I also want to add that praying for your marriage is a vital part of God’s plan for marriage, but it is not the only thing that encompasses a healthy marriage.

That being said, I can speak from personal experience that prayers won’t only improve, but they can completely transform your marriage.  In fact, it has been a huge part of my personal testimony and the testimony of what God has done in my marriage, that praying prayers based on the promises of God can radically change, heal, and deliver anyone out of any circumstance!

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You may be wondering, what kind of ‘power’ is there in praying prayers based on scripture!?! Well, I’m glad you asked!

The Word of God is alive, powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword! When we pray according to promises in the Word of God, we are praying in agreement with what God says about us and promises us.

Now, I want to also mention that this is not the only way to pray, in fact, God also longs to hear from you, throughout the day, as you talk to Him from your heart! Also, we can see in Ephesians 6:18 that we are instructed to, “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” So, I say all this to say, please know that there is so much more to prayer than just praying prayers based off of scriptures, but I truly do believe that this kind of prayer is a powerful and effective tool to bring about change, because it is based off of Gods word, and His word does not go void! (Isaiah 55:11)

Nothing has impacted or changed my life and my marriage more than when I started praying the promises of God over them.  I started doing this years ago in relation to my health and body image issues, and it was so life-changing that I decided to do the same for my marriage a few years ago.

I asked the Lord to show me scriptures to pray over my husband, over my marriage, and over myself to become the wife that He created me to be. It didn’t take long before I started to see the fruit of God’s Word coming forth in my marriage, just as it did in other areas of my life. The great thing about praying for your marriage, is that it is even more powerful when you and your spouse do it together, as we can see in Matthew 18:20!

To be honest, I don’t know why it took me so long to start getting serious about praying for my marriage, but now that I have begun to see the radical transformation that it has brought, I will never stop! In fact, that is why I am sharing this with all of you! God has such great plans for every single married couple, and I can promise that a huge part of walking in His plan comes by prayer!

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Whatever season you may be in with your marriage, or whatever difficulties you may be facing, I want to encourage you that God’s Word has an answer, a promise, and way through! When we agree and focus our attention on God’s promises, we can and will overcome anything that comes our way!

I encourage you to seek the Lord for scriptures and promises from His word to pray specifically over your husband, yourself, and your marriage. But, to get you started, I have included some of my personal prayers that I have written for my marriage.

I pray you are encouraged today by these prayers, and that the awesome Word of God reminds you of the great plans He has for you, your husband, and your marriage.

Feel free to print these scripture-based prayers on marriage out for yourself! You could also write them down on notecards or in a journal.

CLICK HERE TO GET SCRIPTURE BASED PRAYERS FOR YOUR MARRIAGE

If you are not yet married, but hope to be one day, I encourage you to start praying for your husband now! There is nothing more powerful than praying for the man that God has made for you! If you are married, I pray God’s blessings over your marriage! May God bless you, keep you, makes His face to shine upon you, and give you His peace!

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Shamefully Healthy by Sarah Shaffer

March 11th, 2015 - Dashing Devotionals, Food News, Inspiration, True Beauty

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The topic for today’s devotion has been something that has been on my heart for quite some time. I’ve been asking the Lord to put just the right words to this topic so that I approach it with care and sensitivity. My prayer in sharing this is that the Lord will use it to convict us all to seek peace and pursue it, and offer kindness and understanding toward one another every chance we get!

I have become acutely aware of a theme lately, particularly among my women and mom friends. I’ve really begun to recognize that a heaping-helping of shame and judgment have attached themselves to the concept of health. 

The term “healthy” is really very relative, but it has become overused and misguided. The word healthy used to simply imply not being sick, but somewhere along the line it has lost meaning and gained judgment, especially as it relates to food.  Depending on who you ask “healthy” means Paleo or vegan, gluten-free or whole-grain, low-fat or high-fat. We hear that healthy means egg-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, or only organic and non-GMO. It’s daunting isn’t it? As always, I would never claim that any of these ideas are wrong (my own family follows several of these). But, for the purpose of this devotion, what I’d like to focus on is living shame-free. 

The depth of this awareness really hit home for me one day recently while at the grocery store and after having family in town. Both times, I interacted with moms of small children who emphatically apologized and reasoned with me about why their food choices weren’t as healthy as mine, or made declarations about their need to “do better” about how they fed their families. It broke my heart. And, it caused me to pause and ask myself if I am unintentionally making others feel “less-than” by how I communicate about my family’s particular healthy lifestyle choices?

While I obviously believe that living our best life is God’s heart for all of His children, I am also more and more reminded that above all else, His desire is that we love and support one another. The truth is that my healthy lifestyle can be different from yours and still be equally effective!  Do you want to know a secret? I’m allergic to kale! Yep, kale! You know, the so-called healthiest food on the planet? Well, not for this girl (I love kale by way, if you can eat it, do!!). What’s healthy for me, may not fit into your heathy lifestyle and the whole point of this devotional is to understand that that is ok!! I pray that right now, in this moment we all release ourselves and others of judgment or shame for having different models of a healthy life!

While the word “healthy” is relative and can have many different meanings, the Word of God is not and is clear about this subject. God’s word says, “If I partake of my food with thankfulness, why am I accused and spoken evil of because of that for which I give thanks? So then, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you may do, do all for the honor and glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:30-31. And, we also know from Romans 8:1, that there is no condemnation (shame or judgment) for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 

Friends, I pray today that if you are feeling “less-than” or are being pulled into the temptation to compare your healthy choices to someone else’s,  that is not the voice of the Lord. Above all else today, ask God to help you focus on what TRULY matters and that is the health of your spirit. There is no shortage of judgment, shame, or opinion in the world, especially around the topic of health. But, be encouraged today! That heap of shame is not yours to bear! May God release us of that today and remind us to look for ways to love one another! Walk in peace and freedom today knowing that not a single person who puts their hope in the promises of God will be left empty or put to shame! God loves you EXACTLY where you are today! 

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Dashing Devotional: No Fear by Sarah Shaffer

February 25th, 2015 - Dashing Devotionals

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No Fear Devotional by Sarah Shaffer from Dashing Dish on Vimeo.

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Dashing Devotional: A Pure Heart

February 13th, 2015 - Dashing Devotionals

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“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see the Lord.” (Matthew 5:8)

Recently when I was spending time with the Lord, I read Matthew 5:8 and it really stood out to me. I began to wonder what it meant to have a pure heart, so I did some digging! When I looked up the word pure, I found that the word means not mixed or altered with any other substance or material; or uncontaminated. So how do we protect our hearts from becoming contaminated by the ways of this world? I believe that this means that we are to be in the world, but not of it. A more practical way of saying this is that we must put a guard on the portals to our heart, which are our minds, eyes, and body.

Pure Mind

When it comes to putting a guard on our minds, the Word of God gives us very simple but clear instructions on how to do so. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” And as we can see…there’s that word “pure” again!

When we stop and take inventory on our thoughts, we will be able to see if we are in fact lining up with God’s Word. We can ask ourselves, am I thinking on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of a good report? If not, it is time to think about our thinking! When we redirect our thoughts from our situation to the Word of God, we will be in agreement with what God says about our situation, rather than what the world has to say. This my friends is the most crucial part of keeping our minds pure, which will in turn protect what goes into our hearts. 

Pure Eyes

One of the strongest tugs on my heart for our generation is guarding our eyes. With all of the images displayed on the media, movies, and advertisements these days, one does not even have to be intentionally seeking out something evil or corrupt in order to see it. Despite the culture that we live in however, I am convinced that there are steps that we can take to put a guard on our eyes.

Recently, I stopped in to a well known undergarment store at the mall (I won’t name the store, but I’m sure you can probably guess which one i’m speaking of). The images displayed at every turn made my heart so incredibly sad. In fact, there was no safe place to look except to the floor. Now, you may be wondering why I chose to look away, especially since it was other women I was looking at. Well, for me personally, this is a part of guarding my eyes. I have learned that these images can create a distorted image what women’s bodies should look like. When we look at the images that portray women in a way that God did not intend, and it can produce comparison, insecurity, and even body image distortion if we do not guard our eyes. This one simple act of looking away, (or clicking the exit button on the screen or television) is a choice that we can make when it comes to protecting our hearts. 

Pure Body

The last thing that I want to touch on in relation to our hearts is the purity our bodies. In today’s society, modesty is certainly not the norm. In fact, it seems to be that our society is becoming more desensitized to seeing skin and even nudity with each passing year. Although we may not be able to stop how others are portraying themselves, we can certainly make a choice on how we present our bodies.

The bible also has quite a bit to say about this topic, and I think it goes without saying that it encourages modesty. One of my favorite verse on this topic is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, which says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” This scripture shows us that our bodies are not our own. They are a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, and God paid a high price for them. When we keep our bodies pure, dress modestly, and take care of them properly, we will honor God and protect our hearts from so much of the pain and evil of this world.

Not to mention, I can honestly say that the most confident and beautiful women I know are those that know they are valuable without revealing their bodies. There is something to be said about the beauty of a Godly character that is spoken of in Proverbs 31, for this type of beauty never fades!

Being an Example of Purity

Being an example of purity starts with guarding our own mind, eyes, and body, and finding our worth and value in who God created us to be. When we find our identity in Christ, instead of this world, we will find more fulfillment, peace and joy than one could ever imagine.

Sisters, I want to encourage you today…No matter your age, background, or your story, you can choose to be an example of purity in this world starting today. Not only will it bring glory to our heavenly Father, but it will protect your own heart, and bless the hearts of those around you. 

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