Encourage with Life

Some of my friends are so encouraging I view my interactions with them as pure life. When I joined the worship team, I put school aside for a later hour each Monday morning just so I could sit and glean from them during our weekly meetings.

I felt like the baby of the bunch. Because some people are so well-rounded and whole that your own growth pales in light of overwhelming goodness. And your own insecurities and weaknesses squirm a little because dark can’t really thrive in the face of light.

It’s vital to hang out with people more mature than we are, ourselves. And hey, these people were so full of encouragement that they pulled every possible good thing in my life right out into the open.

When I said, “I really desire the gift of prophecy,” they said, “You already have it—but we’ll pray for more.” And they’d sit me in the center of the room while they gathered round and laid hands on my head, praying life giving prayers all the while.

I grew by hanging out with them. Grew like never before.

Because they operated in the authority of Christ, they brought the life of Christ. Sisters, did you know you are heaven sent with a mission to bring life in the face of death, to being truth in the face of lies, to turn evil into good merely by your presence because you are filled with a God who has all authority in heaven and earth?

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Some of you are smack dab in the center of the most traumatizing circumstances, and you’re left gasping for a single breath of air just to make it, much less inhale deeply. But, God has authority, and you only need to ensure you are breathing his air.

I can walk in God’s authority just as my friends do. The only reason they give me life is because they know life. They listen in to life. They walk in truth, refuse lies, and counter evil with good in mighty blows that leave the enemy reeling.

They’re not out to please people, sisters. They are out to walk in life, and that pleases GOD. They hold up my hands as they urge me to do the same, and my life changes over a course of time.

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Do you walk in so much life that you give out the authority of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Sister, you are called by God to bring the authority of God to each hurting heart in your life today. You are called by God to invest the life of God into immature places, and fill them with heavenly graces, instead.

Give out all you have, and you will be given more. Because all authority has been given to Him, He now asks you, sister, to go forth and bring it to those around you. Abide in Him, and you abide in His unbending, unyielding, uncompromising, life-giving authority that always brings life. 

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“And Jesus said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:18&19, ESV

Faces of Africa

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Today, as I’ve just returned from a remote village in Tanzania, I’d love to share a few photos with you! Sometimes, we learn a lot just by seeing more of the world………….

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People have much, much less than we do………..but they still smile more than many Americans. The greetings they call out of their humble abodes spread more joy than the silence of Americans living their individual lives. 

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Kids gratefully lick every last drop from a porridge kettle, dipping fingers into liquid food left over from our breakfast. In America, kids pout over whether they get to have Lucky Charms over Cheerios. 

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Young kids care for even younger kids…….girls wear babies on their backs while mamas hoist heavy sacks and buckets onto their heads. I can’t help but think of teens whose mothers have to ask them many times over to wash a few dishes……..

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Kids entertain themselves for hours at a time. They are starved for love, and happy to chow down each morsel of food they are given. In America, kids are celebrated and pampered—then, often turn around to complain for more. 

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People work hard for very little. A good year means there is lots of corn—not lots of potato chips or candy in the pantry. They give their best to us as guests–even if that means there’s goat intestines in the meat!  (I had to quickly spit out the rubbery texture and was grateful that custom has the host family wait elsewhere while guests eat!) 

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A mom of six walks one hour to get to a small church service……..In America, many moms run ragged (and late) to get into the car for an easy ten minute drive. Fellow sisters, how hungry are we for God? 

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Missionary kids don’t always have many toys or movies……..these boys are incredibly creative as a result, and even their smaller siblings pitch in with chores voluntarily–because nothing else is grabbing for their attention. They build anything and everything out of wood, and the smallest things hold creativity and excitement for them. American parents, could we move away from the screen a little so other things have a chance to hold their attention? 

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This downs syndrome child is trusting and grateful. He’s needy, with feet as tough as raw hide, needing a good hot soak to wash away days (perhaps weeks) worth of dirt. But his smile and his love as he grasped my hand and walked through town with me, a complete stranger, was contagious. Can we love like that? 

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In Tanzania, you get asked to wed a man who is holding your hand a bit too long as he exchanges greetings. “Give her to me! I want to marry her.” You walk away quickly, shuddering just a little. And you appreciate your brother in law even more. 

You might see a Black Mumba snake late at night, or have gigantic cock roaches creep your way as you use the latrine. Or, you’ll need to head into a pitch black night for the same purpose, thankful your phone is charged and has a flash light. 

You might be out of toilet paper and towels on the same night, and the make shift shower will be cold. Your feet will get grimy just getting from the shower house to your bed, which is a mattress on the floor under a mosquito net. 

If you’re very slender, you will get no compliments for beauty–but if you have a few more curves, you’ll be told that you have a “big” (when you’re actually tiny), beautiful body, and  look like you’re pregnant (even though you don’t–this is considered a great compliment!). A row of men will be laughing and happy over their assessment of  beauty while they drink home made liquor from a filthy shared bucket. You’ll look at their eyes and be so creeped out you’ll want to run–but for love’s sake, you stay. 

You’ll hear screams, and watch a man chase a child with a whip. You’ll want to run outside to intervene, and your emotions will go haywire. You end up doing push ups and listening to worship music because internet connects in one part of the house. 

You’ll hear drunks laugh loudly right beyond your bedroom wall, and it feels as if they are an inch away. 

You’ll meet the chief, steeped in Spiritism, who, after two years of Bible lessons decided the Bible is indeed true, but he can’t live accordingly. You’ll meet his oldest wife, who is one of five, and you’ll notice her eyes hold years of darkness and pain. Ironically, the young man leading worship at the Sunday service is his son. He’s clean, peaceful, and strong. What a contrast of light and darkness! 

 Cultures vary, but God’s Word speaks the same thing the world over. When these men get saved, they quit beating their wives and taking multiple wives. As a result, the women often end up happier even if they don’t accept Jesus. The gospel always liberates and values each individual heart. 

And the gospel is always true, in each place the world over. Culture cannot determine the gospel–rather, the gospel must permeate and determine the culture. 

Fellow Christians, we must be okay to be different, not only in Africa, but in our very own, comfortable America. Let God’s Word win, the world over! 

Feminism or Faith?

The girls and I walked out of Pike’s market and up the sidewalk. Seattle was teeming with people, as always, and we were loving our girl’s day out.

One of the girls shrieked just a little, and I looked her way. A statue-like figure, deathly unreal, but for the eyes—oh, so real! Blood shot but friendly, defying the stark, unnatural state of the rest of her form.

She reached out a hand, and my blood chilled. Then, she went silent and dropped her delicate head in silent repose, hand held gracefully to the side of her long Victorian attire.

I wonder how ladies used to work in such an elaborate display of fabric. She keeps to herself shyly, quietly, then suddenly reaches out to a passer-by, moving swiftly before resuming her bashful, silent pose. 

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I was simultaneously fascinated and creeped out by the artificial, yet real state of her being, but I loved the display of femininity in a city teeming with gay and transgender people.  

Just that morning, on our way to Seattle, I’d been chatting with my daughter about men needing both honor and strength from women. And as I observe our culture, I wonder where the need for male strength has gone?

I wonder if men turn more wimpy when women seem to need them less. Perhaps our culture’s women needs to take back a bit of the femininity of this Victorian lass.

We may not wear multiple yards of fabric, but ladies, are we feminine? Can those around us see that we wear our womanhood well?

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We may wear jeans, but do we refuse help from the men who would love to offer us their strength? What happens to a society when women no longer need men?

Men are born to protect. They are also born to lead and know honor on a daily basis. When we remove those attractive elements from our womanhood, what is there to call to the deepest heart of a man?

Watch your styles, girls. Keep no one guessing if you are male or female; rather, celebrate your femininity!

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My daughter is troubled by the growing amount of lesbian girls in town. Girls turning to girls means they no longer need men. Men no longer needed turn to each other for the same depraved desires. When we remove the best parts of us we also refuse to give the opposite sex what they need—and this goes both ways.

Men need us to be women. We have nothing to prove except prove that womanhood is a glorious thing.

If we were meant to be as strong as they, we’d be born with as much muscle.

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If we were meant to do all things they do, we’d be heading for the coal mines and the hottest lines of battle.

Why do the loudest feministic cries usually not lead them to battle in the most dangerous places? Why aren’t feminists the ones offering to die on sinking ships while men and children step onto life boats? The ones willingly giving their lives are, most often, still………men. 

They’ll stand there with brave repose as waters ooze in. They’ll watch their wives and kids with love as they sink lower to a salty grave. And they’ll do it on purpose. 

Men die for us, women. They do it all the time.

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Even on that day driving to Seattle, I had passed my husband coming home from Seattle. I was on my way for a fun day there with the girls, and he was on his way home from a dangerous night doing what I couldn’t have done in a million years.

I still can’t wrap my mind around what he does. It’s hero’s work, really.

I’m sipping a latte in a safe cafe because men like him are holding shields the night before and busting doors open to who-knows-what.

I haven’t seen many feminists join him. I wonder why.

These men would love it if we just rallied around them enjoying who we are rather than turning coarse, hard, and bossy. What is there for them to be attracted to? 

And we’d love it if they kept their strength. Guys, keep opening doors for us and offering to lift that fifty pound sack of feed in the grocery isle. We appreciate it, and we honor you for your strength. We need it.

If we all celebrate who God created us to be, if we honor each other, and love in tangible ways, this universe will keep spinning on its axle, well. If we don’t, society will turn even messier and girls like my daughter will have to wonder where the real women are, and how many guys are manly enough for the task of being there for her. 

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Guys, cultivate your strength, whether it be physically or spiritually. Us ladies need your spiritual and character strengths more than your muscle–so don’t pressure yourselves fit some kind of mold at the gym! 

Girls, cultivate your femininity—and know you can do so and still be strong! Show honor to men and let them know you appreciate them. Thank them for bringing home a pay check even if you do so as well. 

God created Adam, then created Eve out of Adam’s rib, close to his heart. Strength and feminity go hand in hand. This powerful word for help meet, Ezer, is also translated for God when he was needed as a Savior and protector for his people. 

Dare to Love Your Husband Well

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Keeping your femininity implies that you keep your strength. There is nothing feminine about a door mat or voiceless woman. But learn to use your voice WELL! 

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How to Process the Hurts in Your Life

She looked at me and expressed it, “I don’t know what to do with the anger I feel.”

I bit into the stalk of celery and wished it was cake, instead. Just like I listen to painful stories and wish they were happy ones, instead.

But life is real. And I can tell she’s sincere when she says, “I don’t feel mean; I just feel angry.”

Rightly so,” I respond. “There’s a big difference in feeling angry or simply being mean. There’s also a huge difference in forgiveness or being able to trust.”

Christians often deny their humanity in a misguided effort for spirituality. And I can give some hurting woman a clique “christian” quote of forgiveness or I can walk with her through the toughest place of her life and own her pain.

Get this—I can allow her to throw rocks, vent it out in the car, cry buckets of tears as she owns her anger. Only then can I invite her to healing grace. Because Jesus never asked us to deny our anger; he asked us to give our anger to him.

How can we bring him something we’re too ashamed to admit we own? And why, when Christ himself was angry enough to turn tables over in the temple and tell everyone to GET OUT, do we feel inner pressure to glibly pass through the greatest wrongs with a smile on our faces and no “negative” emotion?

Seriously?

Christian friends, we’re hurting people in the name of healing people. In the name of loving God, we are hurting those he loves.

When we cause others to feel as if it’s too sinful to own their anger in the face of dreadful wrong, what we do, instead, is lead them to superficiality. Somehow, a shell begins to form—and this is exactly where you find rows of bench warming people with placid smiles on their faces filling up the church.

People shouldn’t have to go to a bar in order to be real.

We are human, and therefore, must come to grips with our human emotions.

I look at her sweet face and I know she’s not a mean-spirited person. Quite the opposite, actually. But, she’s been deeply hurt, and it’s painful. She’s been wronged, and it’s unfair. She’s been wounded, and she needs healing.

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I want to own it for these women. I want to be at their side and say, “Wow, of course you feel anger. You should.”

Then, I want to walk with them to forgiveness without pressuring them to trust. Because forgiveness can be granted in a moment, but trust needs to be earned—and hear this, friends—if someone’s demanding trust before he or she earns it, that someone is proven even more untrustworthy. Only an unrepentant person demands what he or she doesn’t deserve.

But did you know you can forgive without placing yourself in harm’s way again? No one owes us anything, because we owe Christ everything.

We can release a person without requiring them to pay a debt they owe. Christ did that for us, and wow, aren’t we grateful? I’d be in a terrible place were it not for undeserved grace.

Can you look at someone and own your feelings about what they’ve done, then look to Christ and own your gratitude for what he’s done—and then, move on to grant your offender exactly what you’ve been granted?

Forgiveness.

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Owning your anger is no excuse for lashing out, ripping into anyone with words hurtful enough to slice even a hard heart wide open.

Kinda like my daughter did yesterday when she was antagonized repeatedly by a brother who smirked annoyingly when she got mad. She’d had enough, and yelled out some pretty hurtful things that entirely demeaned his manhood.

He brushed it off, but I found him in tears later. And she needed to apologize, as did he. Two wrongs never make one wrong right.

We hear that repeatedly. But somehow, we still justify ripping each other up with words when we own our anger. We say things we don’t want recorded, replayed, or repeated to another soul.

How about saying instead, “You really wronged me, and I feel very hurt/angry about it. Is there a way we can work through this?”

How about even saying that to the Lord before you say it to the person who hurt you? Being honest with God allows release so that you can process healthily with another. 

The world is all about owning and expressing feelings. If it feels good, do it; if it hurts, push it away; if it wrongs you, yell at it. If this is the best way of relating, why is the divorce rate going up, and many friendships broken rather than restored?

And, the church is all about silencing “negative” emotion in the name of only promoting love. If this is the best way, why are so many Christians superficially “happy” but not truly joyful?

Isn’t there a better way? A way for our humanity to be real, bare enough for those around us to see?

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When we pretend we have no feelings, we actually enable the one who is doing us wrong. There are no negative side effects for them to face. And ourselves, well, we turn into some smiling robot who’s dying inside because denying pain allows pain to take over and slowly lead us to emotional death.

Christ owned our sin. He owned our pain. And hear this—he also owned his own anger. He’s actually not smiling down on sin as this grace-thirsty culture wants to believe.

Christ is angry with sin. He’s coming to judge it and proclaim himself victor over it. And long before he does so, he allows us to be victor over the very things that would destroy us and lead us into our own sinful responses.

No matter how spiritual you want to be, you will most certainly feel the affects of another’s sin. You will feel hurt, perhaps angry. And you should. If God is angry with something, why should you not be? And I can assure you, God is angry with sin.

His heart breaks for you, sister. Will you allow your own heart to break so it can also be mended? Because if you force yourself not to be broken, you also harden yourself to healing. 

Please don’t deny yourself the right to be human in a vain attempt to be holy. Instead, own your humanity so you can respond in holiness. Christ never died for some perfect looking creation who would pretend not to feel the affects of wrong.

He came to set you free from the affects of wrong because he knew you would feel them keenly, and you’d need to own the truth, and you’d realize that you can’t lie about anything.

Owning our hurt or anger never means we rip another open with it, or because of it. We simply own it first, so we can also own grace. It’s part of the redemption story, sisters. We own our pain just as we own our sin, and only then can we be free from it.

Be honest with a Savior who pities those who fear him just as a father pities his child. Then, allow him to help you through it even as he allowed you to come to it.

From that place, you will be free to love, speak honestly but productively, and allow the world to see heaven’s grace written all over your life.

Because God is love, and love always wins.

Book Launch!

Hi friends,

This is the month of planning………..there are honest-to-goodness books sitting in my closet waiting for the event.

And I’m honest-to-goodness just a little frightened. You see, so much of that book was written without knowing it would certainly be turned into a book.

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I’m flipping the pages, and freaking out just a little. It’s vulnerable. It’s real. But I’m convinced the world doesn’t need another poetic author as much as we all need to pull together, rally around, and live life with each other and for each other. Women of Purpose is written with a purpose just to be real about my own humanity, then rejoice in the realness of Christ.

Because He’s absolutely, flat-out GOOD. And He has good things to say to my heart, things I write down and know they are meant for more than just myself. 

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That marriage book never would have happened had not God reached down from the sky and guided someone’s fingers to type me a request to write it. I’m so far from perfect I had vowed not to write it. But God gave me a nod (and perhaps a wink), so I gave in.

Go figure, I’m seriously thrilled over this book. Did you know we ladies can have a voice and use it well? 

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Here they both are. Check them out and share them with your friends! I’m grateful to every inch of heaven for the push to turn my finite person into a channel for truth.

Love to each girl this side of eternity,

Sara Daigle

Feeding the Body and Soul

 “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

-Virginia Woolf

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As I sit here typing and drinking a delicious green smoothie, I want
you to feel a portion of my passion for healthy, yet beautiful,
food!

What we put into our bodies truly transforms us, becoming the building
blocks for each and every cell.  The photo above is Garlic Butter Beef
Tips over green beans, Creamy Mushroom Soup, and a Peppermint Collagen
Tea.  So very delicious and decadent!  But nutrient dense too!  These
are the types of meals that I nourish my body with each and every day.

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Six years ago I found myself a very out-of-shape 210 lbs and
fighting stage 3c aggressive breast cancer.  Throughout the last 6
years I have been so thankful to experience greater health than I have
since high school through beautiful food and exercise.  As a bonus I
am the smallest I’ve been in 20 years, too!

One easy way to boost our health is through hydration, clean water and
yummy, nutrient rich drinks like this dairy-free, yet creamy Rooibos
Collagen Tea.  I sweeten all my drinks with organic, pure stevia to
keep blood sugar levels stable.  Balanced blood sugar is one of the
key aspects to keeping inflammation low in the body and keeping energy
high.  So drink, keep hydrated, and enjoy!  As a side benefit, being well hydrated helps the skin stay youthful too, something we all want!

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As we all know, eating loads of veggies is one of the best
things we can do for our health.  There are so very many wonderful
recipes out there, so explore and enjoy trying new things!  Try to
vary the colors and type of veggies as much as you can.  God made each
piece of produce to have different kinds and amount of vitamins,
minerals, and properties to bless our bodies.

So eat the RAINBOW!

Every single cell in your body will thank you and flourish with those
veggie nutrients.  I eat low carb or keto almost exclusively, so I
choose salads and side dishes that fit my preferred way of eating.
But choose what works for you.

Here is a scrumptious cauliflower salad I threw together the other day:

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I tossed some raw, chopped cauliflower into a bowl and added sliced red onion, chopped chicken, kalamata olives, a small amount of shredded raw cheddar, diced sweet
pepper, drizzles of red wine vinegar, a few pinches of Celtic sea
salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and a spoon of mayo.  I stirred it
all together well to marry the flavors and then finished with a
sprinkling of chopped cilantro.  It was SO good and I ate every last
morsel!

Sometimes food has to be quick and grabbed on the run, but as
often as you can feed yourself and your loved ones beautiful food that
not only nourishes the body, but warms and feeds the soul.

Food made with love and joy are unseen ingredients that help each of us to
flourish.   One thing that I have learned from cancer is to be
grateful for each bit of health and vitality.  It is such a blessing!
I’ve come a long way in the last six years and am not finished yet!

Grab life and make the MOST of it as you are here for a purpose and
your life is valuable.  Don’t waste it!

~By Andrea Stagg

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Peace-Makers, or Peace Fakers?

 

I love peace. Rather, I adore peace and I hate conflict so much I’d love to just run when it happens. You know the fight or flight thing? Well, I’m definitely in the flight category.

But sometimes you can’t run and that unpeaceful thing stands tall in your life no matter what you do. For those mamas who hate conflict, this can be debilitating. And, guess what, we can join those who cry “Peace, Peace” when there is no peace.

Jesus asks us to be peace makers; He never approved peace fakers. 

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I’m going to just say it—even a peace maker at heart needs to learn not to fake peace. Jesus didn’t put the burden of creating peace in every situation on our shoulders, but He did say we are blessed when we can do so. This means there are times when we can’t, and times when we can.

“If it be possible, as much as lies within you, be at peace with all men.”

Peace makers dissolve fights willingly when they’re able to do so righteously; peace fakers pretend nothing is wrong when another needs to see a drastic, harmful sin.

Peace makers are humble enough to say “I’m sorry” first; peace fakers say “I’m sorry” just to cover up the problem and move on with the problem still staring her in the face.

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Peace makers take the low road of acknowledging personal sin; peace fakers take all the blame, all the time, and pretend another has no sin even when they do.

Peace making leads to life; peace faking leads to an artificial, superficial existence where your soul is stripped of more and more of its joy.

Blessed are the peace makers who create peace when possible, but never shoulder the impossible.

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Mothers, teach your kids, by example, to walk in truth, because only the truth brings ultimate freedom!

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Mathew 5:9)