The handmade collection of misshapen guitars, ukuleles, and banjos  made me wonder. Is the museum desperate for displays?

About half of the instruments hanging on the walls were painted barn-red. Others had obviously been pieced together from two or three different types of wood. But the story of the man who crafted them changed my whole perspective.

In the 1960s Arkansas farmer Ed Stilley had difficulty supporting his wife and five children. One day, while plowing his field behind a donkey, he thought he was having a heart attack. Lying on the ground with no one around to hear his cries for help, he prayed and received a vision of God telling him to make guitars and give them to children. If he did, God promised to take care of him and his family.

So Ed did what God told him to do. He didn’t make excuses for his lack of musical training, nor did he wait until he could afford the “right” materials. Instead, he scrounged for wood and other scraps, using what he had on hand. He built instruments out of old door hinges, Masonite siding, circular saws, marbles, and even an aluminum pot.

He wasn’t embarrassed by the amateurish look of his instruments. He simply did what God told him to do. It’s believed nearly every child in the county received a guitar, each inscribed with this message: “True Faith. True Light. Have faith in God.”

Ed Stilley’s obedience inspires me to do what God tells me to do. No excuses for my lack of ability or training. No waiting for inspiration to strike with the right message. No hiding my work because it’s not professional.

Lord, make me an instrument…that plays the melody You’ve chosen for me.

 Mary L. Hamilton is the author of four novels, including one adult mystery. Her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series for middle-grade readers was inspired by the years she lived at a camp growing up. Besides writing, she enjoys photography and traveling with her husband.

 

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Almost everyone has a favorite color. Mine is yellow. I love the yellow sun, yellow buttercups, and yellow sweet corn.

But I also like blue. I love going to the beach to see the vast blue sky and various shades of blue in the ocean.

I’m not sure why those colors appeal to me—they just do.

What amazes me is that God is the only One who could think of all the different colors.

What is even more amazing is they have been in existence since the beginning of time. The sun is yellow, the grass is green, and the sky is blue. It’s always been that way and it will always be that way.

I smile when I think how God put orange feet on a duck. And I wonder what He was thinking when He chose brilliant splashes of red, yellow, and blue for the feathers on a macaw.

And what about patterns? Orange and black tiger strips, spotted leopards, and the unique geometric pattern on a tall giraffe—how did He come up with those ideas?

Our human minds will never grasp the magnitude of God’s creative and artistic abilities. The beauty of a rainbow, the majesty of a sunset, and the splendor of a crimson rose reveal God’s greatness. They were created for our pleasure and for His glory. We don’t have to explain it—we just need to enjoy it!

“Lord You are the one who made the sky, the earth, the sea, and everything in the world” (Acts 4:24 ICB).

Crystal Bowman is an award winning, best-selling author of more than 100 books for children. A speaker and mentor for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), she teaches at several writers’ conferences throughout the U.S. She’s a monthly contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and writes lyrics for children’s piano music.

 

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Do you ever wish for more time in the day? God can do that––extend your time. He did do it. The Bible says so.

“The sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies” (Joshua 10:13 NIV). God still does miracles today. Maybe the sun won’t stand still, but we can find more time to shine. He can do a miracle in our life so that He shines through us, letting others see His miracles in us.

How to make that happen:

Realize. What is our spirituality?

It is God in us—serving each other and the world. How many miracles do we miss because we don’t believe the Lord? Worse yet, we don’t always realize the miracles God performs for us because we aren’t aware of Him in every aspect of our life. Joshua believed God to defeat the enemy. He realized God existed. We can start the day defeated before our feet hit the floor, or we can rise and shine––and realize His existence and power daily.

Reflect. Whom do we reflect?

So many verses talk about God’s face shining on us. The Psalmist says, “Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees” (Psalm 119:135 NIV). He wanted to be close to God and learn about Him. When we spend time in the Word, we learn of God’s teachings––His decrees. Applying those teachings changes our life. It’s then we reflect His shining face and others see Christ in us. When I apply moisturizer in the morning, my face shines. But as the day progresses, it loses its shine. Applying more moisturizer brings back the shine.

Rest. Rest assured, if we keep reading and applying God’s Word, our lives will shine continuously.

Apply God’s moisturizer all day (His Word) and let Him shine!

Peggy Cunningham and her husband have been missionaries in Bolivia, South America, since 1981. They work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy is also a prolific writer. Books one and two of her children’s series, Hooray for Holidays, recently released. Her devotional for adults is Dancing Like Bees. For more visit http://www.peggycunningham.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We’re moving. That’s the extent of what we know about this year, or maybe next. My husband is going to retire or the business is going to close—we don’t know which will come first—and we’re moving closer to home.

We don’t know if it’s the right time. Billy is eight years older and past retirement age, but I still have a few years to go before Medicare. I also have a condition that may or may not qualify me for disability, but it’s bad enough that we must have health insurance to help pay for all the annoyances associated with it.

One thing I know for certain. I want Billy to have time to enjoy the little farm we own back home, so I’m ready to take that leap of faith. The faith-leap that says we’ll be fine. That I won’t have to go through any more extended hospital stays or endure any more surgeries. That, even if I do, God will somehow help us pay for it all.

It’s a huge leap. Not just for my health, but for everything else involved. By faith, we’re believing the house we’re in will sell at such a price we can afford to build the new one without going into debt. That we’ll be able to move everything into storage and live together in tight quarters for months while the new house is under construction. That we’ll make the transition from work to retirement—while building a new house, while missing our friends here—without too much discord. That we’ll survive this as a loving couple.

We aren’t the first to have plans without a clue of how or when they’ll be accomplished. Long ago God said to Abram, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3 NKJV).

Abram and Sarai knew less about their future than Billy and I do. They had no clue where they were going or how God would make them a “great nation” when Sarai was barren. But they trusted God and did as He instructed, and sure enough, through Abraham, all the earth was blessed through the life, death, and resurrection of his distant grandson, Jesus Christ.

Billy and I aren’t looking for such greatness. We just want to move to our little seventy-acre farm back home and enjoy the time we have left raising cattle and green beans. And the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of promises and results—will guide us through the maze.

What can He guide you through this year? This month? Today? There is nothing too big or too small for Him. We don’t have to know the particulars of the plan as long as we know Him who guides us through the particulars. Let’s trust Him together.

Linda W. Yezak lives with her husband and their funky feline, P.B., in a forest in deep East Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She has a deep and abiding love for her Lord, her family, and salted caramel. And coffee. Don’t forget coffee. Author of award-winning books and short stories, she didn’t begin writing professionally until she turned fifty. Taking on a new career every half century is a good thing. Visit www.lindayezak.com.

 

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I have a beautiful white kitty with gorgeous blue eyes. His name is Sir Edmond and he has a problem being nervous.

Anytime a new person visits the house, he puts back his ears and scurries toward my bedroom like his life is in danger.

He often misses fun times with us because an unusual noise sends him running.

Last winter, a tree limb fell on our house in the middle of a huge snow storm, and we had no heat for five days. The indoor temperature stayed close to freezing, but my husband and I kept a fire in the fireplace. We huddled there all day, even eating nearby.

We brought my son’s cockatiel into the living-room area and put him on a high stereo stand so the cat couldn’t bother him. But we didn’t have to worry. Kitty stayed under my bed the entire time shivering with cold. He was too terrified to venture out to the fire where the family had gathered.

Sometimes I can be a little like Sir Edmond.

Instead of stepping out in faith, I hover in my safe place because I am afraid. I love the verse in 2 Timothy that says, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (1:7).

I invite you to join me in choosing to trust in God’s power and step out courageously trusting God.

Cynthia L. Simmons

Cynthia L. Simmons

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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