My husband and I recently visited Miami to attend a wedding. One evening while walking outside, I noticed a duck and her six ducklings navigating the parking lot to a grassy spot beside the road.

I couldn’t believe that momma would risk having her babies so close to traffic. But a quick glance told me she had an expanse of water across the road as well as the spectacular bay behind the hotel.

When I got close enough to snap a photo, the little mother eyed me with suspicion as if preparing to attack. She wasn’t afraid.

That reminded me of God’s promise in Psalm 91, “under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”

I like the thought of resting under God’s wings because we live in a dangerous time. Explosive emotions teeter on the threshold because our culture has abandoned common sense.

God knows the dangers, but just like that duck saw the water, God also knows the opportunities open to us. In fact, he placed us in this time to have an impact on the world around us.

Let’s rest in God’s provision and be as courageous as Mother Duck while sharing our hope with others.

Cynthia L Simmons and her husband reside in Atlanta. A Bible teacher and former home-school mother, she writes a column for Leading Hearts Magazine. She served as past president of Christian Authors Guild, directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference, and hosts Heart of the Matter Radio. Her author website is www.clsimmons.com.

 

 

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Forgive Well to Live Well. Meet Patrick, patron saint of Ireland.

Patrick was a wild youth in England when raiders invaded and took Patrick to Ireland as a slave. Years later, Patrick escaped, reunited with family, and became a priest. But Ireland called in his dreams and he returned. The people of Ireland thought Patrick came for revenge. Instead, Patrick traveled the Emerald Isle telling his former captors their lives could be different.

Superpower

Reacting out of bruised feelings hurts those we most love. It’s an emotional Hatfields and McCoys when you are hurt so you hurt others who are hurt so they hurt you back.

Patrick understood there is no path around, over, or under the pain of having been deeply wronged. He knew forgiveness is the fastest way out of the life-draining, soul-sucking emotional vampire known as bitterness.

Forgiveness is not blind injustice. Never does forgiveness condone the actions of the person who hurt you. Forgiveness doesn’t release an offender from the consequences of his or her actions.

Forgiveness is healthy boundaries. Forgiveness is not remaining in an abusive relationship. Forgiveness never tolerates abuse, addictions, or affairs.

Forgiveness is our choice. Most people who offend you will never ask for forgiveness. Our offender has no power over our choices. We give forgiveness with no expectations of the receiver.

Forgiveness is not forgetting. Experiences are chemically burned into our memories. Forgiveness prevents the abuser from having power over you and frees you from being sabotaged by the past.

Forgiveness does not guarantee reconciliation. Forgiveness takes only one person. Reconciliation requires both sides. Reconciliation is not wise when emotional or physical safety is at risk.

Forgiveness is not a feeling. Like love, forgiveness is an action. You can act in a forgiving manner even when you do not feel like forgiving. Forgiveness is a courageous act of strength.

Forgiveness is not a magic wand. Those who forgive difficult spouses, parents, or children are not promised ideal relationships in the future. A challenging person frequently continues to stir friction.

Forgiveness is a lifestyle. Often the more grievous the offense, the more time required to experience forgiveness. Though easier to demand another person change, the only person you can truly affect for change is yourself.

Change can occur in a heartbeat.

Patrick’s extreme forgiveness of the people who had most harmed him had a deep impact on the Irish. The nation embraced Christ as Savior.

On March 17, we celebrate Saint Patrick’s world-changing example of living well by forgiving well.

History buff, and tropical island votary PeggySue Wells parasails, skydives, snorkels, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. Writing from the 100-Acre wood in Indiana, Wells is the bestselling author of twenty-eight books including The Slave Across the Street, Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, Slavery in the Land of the Free, Homeless for the Holidays, and Chasing Sunrise.

 

 

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And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17).

I love words. So God uses them to get my attention, especially when I play word games with my friends as I sip my morning coffee.

Today the letters were T-L-A-I-R …hmmm. I could spell trail or trial. The only difference in the two letters is the position of the vowels, A and I.

That got my mind whirring.

When things are in a mess, I want the quickest way out. I don’t care for trials. Do you?

But we can turn our trial into God’s trail out by simply reversing the A and the I. How? We must ask if we think of us first (I) or God Almighty (A)?

If we put I before A, we will most likely wallow in the trial. Our focus will be inward, in the wrong place.  We lose perspective. Woe and pity can cloud our vision. Perhaps anger or unfairness cloaks our understanding. Doubt may creep in like a bug through a crack in the not-quite-level door jamb.

But when we turn to God for direction, eventually a trail will appear. A path to His lesson for us, which then leads to His mercy, His peace, and His grace. Recall the Hebrews wandering in the wilderness? They stayed in the trial until they learned to lean on God and His ways. Then He led them out into the place He promised.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (John 14:6).

The next time we are lost in a fog of grief, a tangle of uncertainty, or a web of doubt, let us remember to reverse the letters. It might give us a different perspective on things.

Julie Cosgrove, besides being the author or fourteen traditionally published faith-based novels and novellas, is a devotional writer and editor for CRU’s digital ministry as well as for three other publications. Her own blog, Where Did You Find God Today? Has readers in over 50 countries. Check out her latest mystery series, The Relatively Seeking Mysteries, and the rest of her books at www.juliebcosgrove.com.

 

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Reading these words in Psalm 116:7 (KJV), “the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee,” reminded me of conversations with two of my strongest Christian friends. On the same day, both spoke of being mad at God.

One said a relative felt angry because of what she considered the undeserved suffering that came into the life of her young child. “Why didn’t God do something?”

The other friend spoke of a huge disappointment she had experienced. “Why didn’t God stop this?”

Both friends felt God had not dealt bountifully with them. He hadn’t done what they asked and expected. He seemed absent and left them struggling with an unanswered why.

Asking why puts us in good company.

Moses “returned to the Lord and said, O Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people?  Why is it You have sent me?” (Exodus 5:22 NKJV).

Joshua said, “Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all—to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan!” (Joshua 7:7 NKJV).

The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon saying “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor! Gideon said to Him, O my Lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites” (Judges 6:12-13 NKJV).

On the cross, about the ninth hour Jesus “cried out with a loud voice, saying…My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46 NKJV).

Asking why is a normal response to hurt and heartbreak. It’s not a problem as long as we’re content without an explanation and willing to leave the matter in God’s almighty hands.

Along life’s journey we experience disappointment, loneliness, physical decline, stressed relationships, grief. Is God still good? The Bible repeatedly says he is. In the NIV, Psalm 116:7 reads, “the Lord has been good to you.”

How do we respond in hard places? We choose to believe in the dark what we found easy to believe in the light.

“For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations” (Psalm 100:5 KJV).

Even when we don’t understand, we can rely on fact. God always deals bountifully with his children.

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s secretary of Christian Authors Network and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

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It was so hot even the bees were dropping like flies.

In our desert area of Southern California, we get used to the soaring summer heat and I thought the insects would too, but we kept finding dead bees by our front door. We thought, “Can’t do anything about it and it can’t be anything too serious,” so we just ignored the strange phenomenon. Until we also noticed a dark spot on the wall near the ceiling—a wall close to the front door.

We called out pest control and they checked the attic. The truth was revealed. Bees had taken up residence in our attic, having gained entrance through a small hole in the roof. The honey from the hive had started leaking into the wall.

And the dead bees on our walkway? That was how bees clean out the hive. They push their dead comrades out and they tumble to the ground. The mystery was solved and serious damage to our house was averted.

The same thing happens with temptation. Even though there are signs we are being tempted, we don’t consider them serious and ignore them. Then we give into the temptation and the sin takes up residence. Maybe too late, we realize the benign signs are actually warnings. We need to clean out the “hive” by removing the sources of temptation.

God loves us so much that He warns us. “But people are tempted when their own evil desire leads them away and traps them. This desire leads to sin, and then the sin grows and brings death” (James 1:14-15 NCR).

Your faithful God reaches out to you to warn you because He wants only the best for you. See His loving hand?

Kathy Collard Miller is a speaker and author of over fifty books including At the Heart of Friendship: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series. She has spoken in over thirty states and eight foreign countries. Kathy and husband Larry live in Southern California and have two children and two grandchildren. Visit her: www.KathyCollardMiller.com; www.Facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor; @KathyCMiller. Instagram: @KathyCollardMiller

 

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