I am so excited to join the 2014 Women of Joy "Beyond Beauty" tour and share this Beauty message with you gals around the country!
As you may know True beauty, seeing yourself as God sees you, is the message of my heart! Probably because it's taken me so long to get here. It's been a life-long search and long, hard journey to finally get to the place where I believe that I'm worth something, that I have value, that I'm beautiful in any way.
Trust me, no one would have used the word 'pretty' to describe me growing up. I was insecure and painfully shy. Teased, taunted, and rejected, I felt inadequate, unworthy, and ugly and carried that self-image all the way into adulthood.
Then I got into modeling and acting----AAGH!!! Was I completely nuts??!! For 30 years now I’ve enjoyed a career as an actress In TV series and films. I’ve modeled in New York and been in the Miss America pageant. But what I know most about beauty has nothing to do with my profession.
Quite the opposite.
What I know about beauty comes from God healing my wounded heart and showing me who I really am in Him. And I want you to see who you really are in Christ—to see yourself as God sees you! My prayer for you is that you will grasp the depth of God’s love for you, embrace your unique beauty and see the beauty of others.
God wants to set us free from envy and comparisons with others. He wants to set us free from trying to live up to the impossible, unattainable, air-brushed media images bombarding us. And He wants to set us free from the lies of our past that tell us that we're 'not enough'.
Beauty has been a big part of my life. I've experienced both its pain and promise. As a homely, gawky girl growing up it eluded me. As a model in New York it seduced me. As an actress in Hollywood its importance and influence distresses me. And as a woman who loves God, the power of true beauty staggers me!
True Beauty is Beauty by the Book. It's the beauty God sees, He cares about, AND that He bestows on us because of our relationship with His son, Jesus. Healing in my life continues to come as He replaces the lies I've believed with the truth of His Word which tells me how He sees me and who I am becoming in Him. It's amazing! He truly changes how we see ourselves!
How can you feel inadequate or unworthy when your Heavenly Father says:
I have chosen you; you belong to me (1 Peter 2:9)
I have given you a crown of beauty instead of ashes (Is 61:3)
You are accepted in the beloved (Romans 15:7)
How can you feel shame when the King of Kings says:
I have redeemed your past (Gal 3:13)
I have called you by a new name (Isaiah 62:2)
I have wrapped you in a robe of righteousness (Is 61:10)
How can you feel 'less than' or invisible when the God of the Universe says:
You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
I will never leave you or forsake you (Psalm 27:10)
I love you with an everlasting love! (Jeremiah 31:3)
And that's just a few of the hundreds of promises! The Bible is full of God's opinion of you, how much He treasures you and who He has made you to be. So look in the true mirror---the Mirror of God’s Word—and see yourself as He sees you--fearfully and wonderfully made and Truly Beautiful!
I've come a long way in this journey---and I’m still learning who I am in Christ every single day. Let's grow in this together! How about it? I can’t wait to see many of you gorgeous gals at Women of Joy!
Suppression, abuse, honor killings, suffering,
despair. More than 250 million women in the
Middle East and North Africa are desperate for
hope. They seem a world away---an impossible
world away. What could I possibly do?
That was my question. And the concern of
my friend, Debbie Brink, SAT7 Senior VP. So
we began talking and brainstorming and
dreaming. We knew SAT7 Christian satellite television
already reaches 15 million viewers with
programs created by and for the people living in
that region. We knew those programs already
tell viewers about their God-given human rights,
and individual dignity and worth in Christ.
But we knew that even more women and
girls could be helped by more programs with a
biblical view of womanhood, marriage, family,
and society. The more women could hear the
truth of how God sees them, and learn the hope
and peace they have in Christ, the more their
hopeless lives would be transformed. And when
women are transformed, so is the family-and
There is hope for an entire region when
women grasp their hope in Christ!
So we knew the need--more women's
programming. we knew the solution---that when
women here in the West see a need, we want to
meet it. As they say--if you want something
done, ask as woman!
So we've launched SAT7 Women of Hope,
and already countless women around the US are
coming on board to say, yes, I want to be a voice
for women of the Middle East and North Africa!
Sharing their experiences - Siham Daoud, Rita El Mounayer and Samia Jallali Kessai
For our initial launch we brought three friends from the Middle East: Samia Jallali Kessai, worship leader, on-camera talent, theology graduate student, and producer of programs
from Algeria, North Africa. Siham Daoud,
concerned mom who grew up during war time in
Lebanon (and is witnessing the threat of war
mounting again in Lebanon) and volunteer with
her church to serve the needs of the near half-
million Syrian refugees--mostly women and
children--who fled Syria with virtually nothing.
And Rita El Mounayer, who also grew up during
war-time in Lebanon, lost her mother to cancer
as a young child, and is today the Director of
SAT7's three Arabic Channels-and did I mention
that she is a WOMAN? Remarkable in the
Samia, Siham, and Rita shared about what it's
like to live as a woman in that region of the
world, the challenges and struggles. They shared
their own testimonies. They shared horror
stories of friends who suffered greatly for their
faith AND shared hopeful stories of the faithful
though persecuted church. They shared God's
powerful move of the Holy Spirit through
dreams and visions, and the consistent presence
of SAT7 bringing teaching, hope, and healing to
all who watch 24/7, in the privacy of their own
homes in every single house through a satellite
dish–that cannot easily be jammed or censored.
Truly technology for such a time as this!
We were humbled and overwhelmed that in
all four launch cities----Kansas City, Oklahoma
City, Gettysburg PA and Easton MD--- women (and a few men, to our delight!) had their hearts
stirred, and responded with great interest and
passion to help bring the hope of Christ to these
They say they want to DO something. They
want to pray for women in the region. They
want to travel there to meet, engage, and support
the women who live there. They want to learn
more, to use the small group materials we're
creating to help better understand the issues and
concerns of women. They want to give, they
want to discover creative ways individually and
in their own small groups---to be part of the
solution: to help raise funds to make more
women's programming possible.
'The Team' on the road-Rita, Debbie Brink, Samia, Siham, and Nancy
May I ask you to join us?
1) Most importantly, PRAY!!!
2) Sign up to join us--receive more information:
It's free! SAT7 Women of HOPE 3) Invite us to your city! Host a SAT7 Women
of Hope event in your church or community.
You provide the audience, we'll bring the presentation and get you started with resource materials. Contact Debbie Brink at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And travel with us to the Middle East! Our first Holy Land Tour is to Israel and Palestine October 18-26, 2013. Enjoy a trip with
Christian women and a Christian tour guide who lives in the region. It will be a trip of a lifetime! For more info–and to learn about future trips--
contact Debbie Brink: email@example.com or call 866-744-7287 Download the trip Brochure. Let's travel together!
Will you join me? It's an exciting time! Click here to join the ministry of SAT7 Women of HOPE. Together we can reach across the
globe and connect our hearts and hands with the
serious spiritual and practical needs of our
Middle Eastern and North African sisters to
produce real change and real hope in Christ! By Nancy Stafford--Article first appeared in Point North † Tidings Volume 10, Number 2 Subscribe to Tidings here: Point North Tidings Quarterly
This year more than ever we yearn for peace. We've endured horrific tragedy and natural disasters. We cannot make sense of the the senseless violence in our land, or uncertainty and devastating losses in our lives. More than ever we need the promise of Christmas--The Prince of Peace--to sooth our fears and heal our hearts, to redeem and reconcile. Like the shepherds we welcome the good news of Emmanuel!
Imagine being a shepherd that night on the outskirts of Bethlehem.
When suddenly the sky became a blaze of glory as the angel proclaimed to the shepherds in the field the most magnificent news of all time: "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11 (NKJV)
God chose His arrival on earth to be 'the little town of Bethlehem' in today's volatile Palestine....
What was it the angel said? "good tidings of great joy which will be to ALL people". God had sent the Redeemer to the whole world---to Israel and Palestine and Syria, to Iran, Somalia, Pakistan, to North Korea and the US; East and West, Gentile, Jew, Muslim and Hindu...."to all people". If God's mercy, love, and redemption would not even be contained to heaven, but burst into earth, it certainly will not be bound by man's maps or borders, and cannot be relegated to the world's religions, rituals, ideologies or traditions. Redemption supersedes all that. Limitless Freedom. Unfathomable Mercy.
Then suddenly that lone angel was joined by a cast of thousands: "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" vs. 13,14
Here was God's punctuation point! The baby is it! My strategy, the world's peace plan that's been penned from millennia, is here. So you guys go to the peace summit, that humiliating, stinking, feces-reeking barn in Bethlehem. You'll find my peace plan there.
Peace on earth. We long for it, pray for it, even fight for it.
But we cannot be at peace with each other until we are at peace with God.
Ultimately the only true Peace....is a person. His name is Jesus.
When we receive Him we have life. Only in Him can we find our own personal peace, live together in peace and reconciliation, and love one another as neighbors--across the street, across the checkpoint, across the globe.
This Christmas may you receive true Peace on earth, His peace--and may you express peace and goodwill toward all men.
Just a few years ago I learned something about my mom I never knew before. At five years of age my mother was cooking dinner most nights for her entire family.
Her mother (my grandmother, "Bombo," the first grandchild's attempt to say "grandma!") was often bed-ridden with a debilitating heart condition. Mother's older sister, Elizabeth, was a severe diabetic who died as a teenager. Most days "Bombo" was either ill in bed or nursing her fragile diabetic daughter.
So my five year old mother looked after her two baby brothers, Buddy and Tom. And when dinnertime came, mom dragged the step stool over to the gasoline stove, hopped up on it, lit the flame, and cooked grits and eggs for the whole brood. It was Depression era, and most nights my Granddaddy got home from the two jobs he worked just in time to tuck all the kids into bed. Mom shook her head as she remembered how the flame from that gas stove shot straight up to the ceiling, "It's a wonder I didn't burn the house down!" she laughed.
Mom told me that story as a funny reminiscence. But it was a huge eye-opener for me. I realized that as a five year old--and all throughout her childhood--my mom had to carry far more responsibility than any little child should have to.
What about your mother? She very likely experienced her own burdens, or emotional wounds and injuries growing up. Maybe she didn't feel loved or nurtured, maybe no physical touch or empathy was expressed to her growing up, and she couldn't give to you what she didn't have.
Maybe when you were a child she was ill or depressed, or had other problems you didn't realize at the time. Perhaps her marriage was a mess, or your other siblings' problems consumed her, or maybe she had challenges or responsibilities with her own parents and family members.
As the old saying goes, if we haven't walked in someone else's shoes, we have no idea what they've gone through or what they're dealing with. If you think about some of the stressful times in your own adult life, and then imagine having a child at that time with all that was going on, you can have a little better understanding and empathy for what your own mother was going through when you were a child. You can release her from your unmet expectations of her; you can forgive her for what she couldn't give you.
To try to understand your mother's past and current life circumstances, even her frailties and weaknesses, and accept them, is to begin to love her as she is. Understand where she came from, what she's been through, what the demands were on her life . . . and you'll find it easier to relate to her, accept her, and more fully appreciate her.
So this Mother's Day, if you're able, ask your mom about her own life. It can be pretty enlightening. You'll start to see her, not just who she is in relation to you, but actually get to know her, to discover and appreciate more and more who she really is.
And by doing that you honor your Mother! Happy Mother's Day!
I think we're all in the same boat. My guess is we're all facing financial setbacks and struggles. Encouragement and Hope--we all sorely need it, don't we? I sure need to hear and speak uplifting, positive truths in the midst of these potentially fearful times. How about you?
Now, I'm not usually big on repeating "affirmations." I'm not into plastering yellow sticky notes all over the mirror, computer and refrigerator, pumping my fist in the air, robotically repeating mantras: "I am powerful," "I attract abundance and joy," "Today I glow with love all around me and I glisten with happiness"--Yeah, I know, "glisten!"--but I kid you not, I just read that one on a popular church's website!
We who are followers of Jesus have many words of affirmation and hope from The Book that we can trust and cling to. Jeremiah 29:11--"For I know the plans I have for you . . . to give you a future and a hope." Psalm 40:2--"He drew me from the pit . . . and set my feet upon a rock." And Isaiah 43:19--"See, I am doing a new thing . . . making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."
One of my favorite assurances has always been God's promise in Hebrews 13:5b--"I will never leave you nor forsake you." I quote it to myself and to others on a regular basis. But just today, I read it again--in context--and realized that the verse has to do with finances--being content with God's provision instead of feeling stressed and anxious. "Keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have, for He has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you,' so we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:5-6).
I especially love 'The Message" translation, listen to this: "Don't be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, 'I'll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,' we can boldly quote,
'God is there ready to help,
I'm fearless no matter what.
Who or what can get to me?'"
(Hebrews 13:5-6 'The Message')
What a promise and powerful encouragement! What tremendous hope! Now those are affirmations I will joyfully speak out! Those sentences are worth writing on sticky notes all over my house and repeating aloud every single day, aren't they?!
So this month, and in the difficult days and months ahead, let's makes those words our daily meditation and affirmation. Wanna join me? All together now:
Your turn: What do you think? I'd love to hear what promises bring you the most affirmation and encouragement. Post here:
Many have speculated that the site of Jesus' burial and resurrection lies somewhere within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, inside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. But I believe it was at the Garden Tomb, just outside the walls.
Several years ago I took this picture as I walked through that tranquil garden, lush with greenery and wildlife, and then stooped and entered the tomb. A soft beam of light spilled into the darkened room, revealing the place where His body would have been laid.
As I stood alone in that still place, reflecting on Jesus' resurrection, I imagined what it would have been like to be there with Mary Magdalene and Mary the wife of Clopas when they saw that shining angel and heard him tell them not to be afraid, but to come see the place where Jesus had lain. I could almost hear an otherworldly murmur, a sound like an angel's sigh, "He is not here; He has risen, just as He said" (Matthew 28:6).
It's hard to comprehend the wonder of Jesus' resurrection, harder still to grasp the miracle that because He rose again, we too are resurrected. He knows how cynical and fearful we can be, how full of doubt and empty of faith. But Love asks us to receive this new life . . . through belief.
The book of Mark tells the story of Jairus, a synagogue ruler whose twelve-year-old daughter had died. "Don't be afraid," Jesus said, "Just believe." He took the child by the hand, and said "Little girl, I say to you, get up!" and immediately she rose and walked around. Luke writes of the resurrection of the only son of a widow from Nain, and John tells us about the resurrection of Lazarus--four days after he died. When Jesus ordered the stone rolled away, Lazarus' sister, Martha, protested. She believed her brother was too far gone. But Jesus didn't.
There's another resurrection story, but you won't find it in the pages of Scripture. It's mine.
When Jesus rose from the dead, the first person He appeared to was Mary Magdalene, a woman from whom He had driven seven demons. I love it that the one who had had so little hope, the one who was most consumed by darkness, was the one who saw Him first. I like to think that if I had been there that day, perhaps He would have revealed Himself to me first.
Before Christ gave me new life, I was a lot like Mary. Stone cold dead in a tomb of my own making. Wearing the grave clothes of selfishness, brokenness, and sin. Searching for love in romantic entanglements. Desperately looking for life in religions and philosophies.
You would think I was too far gone.
But Jesus didn't. He rolled away the stone that was my heart, took my hand, and shouted, "My daughter—get up!"
Someday, after we have shed our failing, mortal bodies, those who believe in Him will be outfitted in glorious new bodies, made to live eternally with Him. But we don't have to wait for that day to enjoy the wonder of our resurrection. "I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life" (John 5:24).
Present tense. Here and now. Love asks only that we believe.
"I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26).
Lord, I am in awe when I think of Your resurrection
and am overwhelmed that because You live, so do I!
You have brought me from death to life.
Help me to receive, through faith, all that my new life in You really means.
Thank You that the eternal life You give is not just for the future,
but includes today.
Help me to live each day full of life, full of hope, full of faith!