Thursday, November 30, 2017

Uncovered

6:46 AM 0

If someone had told me just ten short years ago that I would one day spend my days writing and speaking to girls about my flaws and insecurities, I would have laughed in their face. I would have brushed it off likyesterday’s fad and thought to myself, “What Flaws?” in that place where no one can hear you.
The walls of “perceived perfection” were so thick around me that I couldn’t possibly fathom living a life in which I ever let myself, much less others, in to see my imperfections. Oh, how Satan marvels in his attempt to keep us in hiding. Oh, how tempting it is to remain in a place where it seems as if no one can hurt you, but then again, in truth, it is the loneliest place on earth. It is a self-inflicting type of pain that keeps you in a constant state of running from yourself, running from the beautiful “you” that God created you to be.
Twelve years ago, I was diagnosed with Vitiligo, an autoimmune disorder which causes the skin to lose pigment, leaving the areas effected much whiter than the rest of your skin. This creates a less-than-desirable complexion and a not-so-thriving self-esteem. Although you would have never known that I was insecure about it, that was all part of the hiding. It was a constant battle of the inner mind and unending speech I gave to myself; never show your weakness, Jill. Never act like you really care, and convince yourself and others that you think it is cool.
The only problem with that little speech was that it wasn’t true. I was attempting to sell a perception of myself that was false. No matter how hard I tried to tell myself that I didn’t care, deep down I really did. Behind the scenes, I would spend hours researching possible cures and means to cover up the discolored areas. Behind the scenes, I would cry in my car when someone asked me what was wrong with my skin. I vividly remember a guy friend making the comment, “You look much better with makeup on,” to which I laughed and responded with a confident, “I know. Seriously!” He meant nothing by it, and I love this dude; it was just one of those goofball moments when you say something stupid. It happens to me on the regular. I remember sneaking off to the bathroom but not immediately, so as not to seem too obvious, locking myself in and crying. I felt about the size of an ant, and then I felt incredibly guilty and stupid that I was so obsessed with my appearance.
But why did I feel the need to put up a front? Why could I not have responded with the truth? Yes, I totally look better with makeup on (thank God for Maybelline), but the fact is, I am insecure about it. However, I am praying that God will work on me and change my perspective through this. I have already realized that I care a little bit too much about the external. Why do we all feel an enormous amount of pressure to hide?
I believe it is because we have been offered the same lie that Adam and Eve were fed at the very beginning of time. When they were deceived by Satan and ate the fruit, their eyes were opened. They immediately became aware of their sin; but what did they do? They hid. Instead of running straight to their Father for healing, comfort, and covering, they searched for the quickest, cheapest, and most uncomfortable route possible: the Fig Leaf.
We spend lifetimes jumping from one fig leaf to another, because the coverage they provide is less than sturdy and in constant need of replacement. All the while, our Creator is ready and willing to clothe us with an indestructible skin. Skin that will not tear. Skin that absorbs our flaws and weaknesses and uses them to create a beautiful pattern unlike any other.
She was the cutest little thing. Seriously. Complete with a matching bow and a smile that instantly stole my heart. I did not know her, except to say that we shared aisle 7 in the Walmart checkout line, along with her mom and a million(ish) other people waiting to have their items scanned and be on their merry way.
We were exchanging smiles, she and I, and I could tell that she wanted to say something. In the sweetest little voice, she asked, “What happened?” as she pointed to the skin discoloration on my arm. A smile stretched across my face, and I responded with, “Oh, those little spots? They just help to remind me that my true beauty comes from inside.” That sweet thing had no idea what I meant, and we soon parted ways there in the Walmart checkout line, but it was a monumental day for me. What, years before, would have probably left me crying in my car, feeling sorry for myself, as if there are not far worse things to encounter in life, had actually left me with the feeling of joy.
Have I arrived at this place of total healing with a rock-solid self-confidence, as one who never struggles with comparing herself, or wishing her skin was beautiful, or that her nose hadn’t been broken? NOPE! Indeed, I have not! But that statement is the very evidence that God has, in fact, been working on the crooked places of my heart. He tells me that I do not have to hide. He reveals to me that my willingness to be honest is where he can actually use me the most in His kingdom.
The world is not looking for perfection, though it may seem that way as you scroll through your social media sites. In reality, the world is looking for something REAL. The world is looking for something AUTHENTIC. Satan would love to take every bit of brokenness you have experienced in life, every insecurity, and every mistake to convince you that you must remain in hiding, that you must continue to cover.
What if the very thing on which you are spending all your time and effort, in an attempt to remain covered, is the very thing that God wants to use in and through you to share His Beautiful and Perfect Name? Would you then be willing to remove the veil? Think about it.

♥, Jill






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Saturday, October 28, 2017

7:23 AM 0

A few weeks back, I came across something on social media, believe it or not, that broke my heart.  It broke my heart because, although it had nothing to do with me and I hardly knew these folks, I could clearly see how Satan was orchestrating a plan for the destruction of a marriage.  There is so much bitterness, hate, and jealousy in the cyber world that I have thought countless times about removing myself from all social media.  However, at the same time, there are so many occasions from which I glean such encouragement, that for me to fully take the plunge, I would also be removing shining stars from my life that manage to always leave me with a greater hope, a more beautiful view of the world around me, and a love towards my fellow man.  What is a girl to do?

It would seem that removing the FACE-TO-FACE element of true communication has become the downfall of our society.  Comments that we would never make when sitting down with someone face-to-face have become a routine part of our day in this nation, and yet we wonder why America is so depressed now more than ever.  

It is because we were designed to exist and live in UNITY.  We were made in the very image of God as is stated in Genesis 1:26, and we were created to work together.  When we attempt to live outside of God’s plan, we invite discontentment and bitterness into our lives. However, when we understand that His way truly is best, we can experience a joy that surpasses our circumstances. One of my most favorite verses reminds me of just exactly how God designed His body to work and thrive.

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph. 4:15-16)

We all succeed in experiencing this beautiful thing called love to the extent that we are participating in this beautiful thing called UNITY.  If we truly believe this verse to be true then what does that mean for our lives as active joints in the Kingdom of God.  What type of sisters, mothers, brothers, wives and friends should we become?

It is my desire to become a FACE-TO-FACE sister, a FACE-TO-FACE mother, a FACE-TO-FACE wife and a FACE-TO-FACE friend - one that speaks the truth in love, but also receives the truth in love, knowing that it is for my best interest and the best interest of the body as a whole, that I am willing to see the truth in my life.  Lord, make me willing to speak it and willing to receive it FACE-TO-FACE.

Christ must be my head.  He must be the source of whom I seek to please, not men. He must be the source of whom I follow, and He should be my standard. Lord, keep my eyes fixed on you, FACE-TO-FACE.

I must be willing to do MY part.  How unimaginable is it that God would even allow us to participate in the building up of His Kingdom?  It is not that he needs us to somehow keep this world going, but rather he lovingly allows us to be vessels of His love to a world that so desperately needs it. How dare we take the gift that He has given us only to hide it because we are afraid or allow the opinions of others to keep us from doing the very thing that God has placed us here to do.  When we deny our God-given gift, the entire body suffers. God, help me not to fear men. God, help me not to fear the opinions of others, but rather help me to fear you. Help me to see myself as a vital part of your kingdom, not for the building up of myself, but for the building up of others FACE-TO-FACE, as I walk in the way you have called me to walk.

Finally, and quite possibly the one thing that has the most potential to impact the world around us, why don’t we become FACE-TO-FACE joints in God’s Kingdom that build up one another. The more we can begin to understand and believe that God’s body thrives when EVERYONE is doing their part, then the less we are tempted to hide behind a computer screen and tear it down.  The more I build you up in the gift God has given you and refuse to allow Satan to cause jealousies and divisions among us then we are both participating in this beautiful thing called love. And LOVE happens to be the very thing that draws people to JESUS.

So how do I want people to leave my presence, rather FACE-TO-FACE or Screen-to-Screen?  I want them to leave knowing more about GOD’S LOVE. I want to be honest, even if honesty is not comfortable because I know and believe that TRUTH is always the source of healing.  I want them to leave my presence feeling more loved than they did before and feeling more encouraged to use their God-given talent.  I want to reject any and all slander and always point others to seek healing because I believe we operate best when we operate like one.  I want always to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3)

I have yet to arrive.  I have yet to conquer every doubt and fear that plagues me, and I have yet to become the very person that I am encouraging us all to be today, but it is my greatest desire.  I believe God’s word to be true, and I believe He will grant me the desires of my heart.  I also believe he will do the same for you.  Together, let’s become Kingdom Builders, united together with the sole purpose of building up the kingdom in love. Rather FACE-TO-FACE or screen-to-screen let's share something that's worth sharing, love.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)


LOVE YOU GUYS!!

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

6:42 AM 0

What does it feel like to be uprooted from your home? What must be going through the minds of thousands of people as they are forced to watch their belongings drowned beneath the effects of a storm that is beyond their control? Helpless? Unsure? Afraid?

From the comforts of my dry front porch, hearing the birds singing nearby, it would seem that all is right with the world, but then again it isn’t. Although I am surrounded by peace on every side, I am deeply connected to the storm that is taking place only six short hours from our home. Why is that?

What would cause a concern within our hearts for something that does not directly affect us? What would cause men and woman all over the country to flock to an area riddled by floods and disasters merely to help someone who is in need? Do we not live in an “all about me society?” Is the anthem of our culture not “me, me, me?"

So we have been told. So it is that we have believed the marketing campaign that for decades now has been telling us that “WE” are the most important people on the face of the planet and that “SELF ABOVE ALL ELSE” is the key to happiness, but I am not buying it. Sure, our culture is riddled with self-promotion, broken people seeking to find fulfillment through self-glorification and selfishness. I am absolutely one of those people, but our struggles do not define who we are.

We were actually made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), and we were created to work and thrive together as we participate in this beautiful thing called Kingdom Building. It is Satan who distracts our hearts, turns us against each other, and convinces us to forget from where we came. In the same way he deceived Eve in the garden, he is deceiving us every day. He is using jealousy, insecurities, pain, and fear to keep us from tasting the true goodness of a unified body of believers. We were made for so much more. We were made to build because God is a builder, and in His unbelievable plan of redemption, He actually allows us to participate in the building, not because we are good, but because He is good.

“Rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph. 4:15-16)

So often it takes a storm to remind us of who we were created to be and the great joy that is waiting when we live in unity. So often it takes a storm to set aside the distractions that Satan has plagued upon our hearts in an effort to divide God’s kingdom, because he is threatened when God’s people come together. To the extent in which we truly believe that God’s body works best when we are all working together will be the extent in which love can be experienced and deeply felt throughout this world. When we are loving one another and seeking to do our part, while encouraging others to do the same, it looks a whole lot like the images I have seen on my screen this week.

It looks like people carrying each other over the rough waters and through the dark nights. It looks like people being brought into a shelter and given a warm blanket and food to satisfy their hunger. It looks like ministries such as One Kingdom sending relief and aid to those in need and my friend, Nick Decorte, traveling 200 miles in his army SUV to transport stranded folks to safety. It looks like you and me praying in our homes, praying in our small groups, and praying in our churches for friends and family that are in harm’s way. It looks a whole lot like JESUS.

When God’s people come together, healing is found. When God’s people come together, cultures are changed. When God’s people come together, individuals can encounter storms and not be shaken, because in their helplessness they find help, in the uncertainty of what lies ahead, they are confident that God is there, and when their fear threatens to overtake them, JESUS calms the storm by sending them small pieces of himself living within the hearts of you and me. We are the Church. We are the Body of Christ. We need each other to thrive, and the world will recognize us by our love. It is that love that will introduce them to the Savior of the world, JESUS.

- JILL DASHER
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