JanetPerezEckles-Use

It was our favorite Mexican restaurant and hubby and I sat across the table from friends with whom we re-connected after decades.

And in the lively conversation a comment was made that jolted my senses. I positioned the wheelchair beside the table (I still couldn’t put weight on the foot with the broken bone). The comment came innocently, I’m sure. “Janet is blind and now lame,” he chuckled. “So… so much for this Jesus thing.”

Although it was a comment in jest, he had a point. Amigos, does the world think that when you become a Christ follower, life is perfect? Or does it mean that when you commit your life to Jesus, troubles end? Contracts flood in, and speaking engagements jam our calendars?

The answer is a resounding “no.” Life will not be perfect. But you will be perfectly equipped to face the fierce storms in life. And even when life is ugly, here are seven ways to know joy, true joy that plays the melody of confidence in the symphony of Jesus’ promises:

  1. Joy comes
    because we know His love will transcend all—blindness, illness, broken feet, broken hearts and broken plans.
  2. Joy comes
    because He promised to bring solutions we never dreamed.
  3. Joy fills
    our heart because loneliness is a foreign word. The constant whisper that God would never abandon us echoes while sweet sleep comes at night.
  4. Joy is ours
    because when the rest of the world is searching, looking and hungry for fulfillment Christ fills the void, feeds the spiritual hunger, and puts in place the piece that makes us whole.
  5.  Joy is complete because our purpose is defined: To Love God with all our mind, heart and soul and love one another. Love those who wound us, ridicule and insult us.
  6. Joy sings
    in our heart because this life is short, often dotted with trials, but we live in anticipation of the forever eternity promised to those to whom Jesus is their Lord.
  7. Joy is our promise
    Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, and you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy” (John 16:20).

Father, the joy you promise is the treasure that shines beyond setbacks, pain or troubles. For that gift, I praise and thank you in the name of your son Jesus, amen.

• Where do you find the joy that keeps you going?

• What is the force that ushers peace to your nights?

• Where do you turn in painful moments?

Janet Perez Eckles

Judson Press, 2011

Simply Salsa, Amazon Best-selling book

Grateful for the
privilege of inspiring you…

www.janetperezeckles.com

 

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Maureen Pratt Author PicHello! Maureen Pratt here with my monthly CAN blog. This time, some thoughts on writing the devotional.

The devotional is intensely personal, but can also provide tremendous support for many. I've experienced this first-hand. When I was first diagnosed with lupus, I suffered from a number of life-threatening symptoms. None, however, was as confounding as the non-life-threatening phenomenon of lupus brain fog, which is much like looking at the world through a pea-soup fog on a chilly day. It isn't permanent, much like those clouds of fog, and it doesn't cause changes in the brain, per se. But it does make memories slippery at times, and frustration quick to rise.

Faced with a horrible diagnosis, I turned to prayer, Scripture, and reflective meditation on what I had read and prayed about. Only, I would forget what I had read and prayed about. Frequently. I finally bought a spiral-bound notebook and started writing down what I read and prayed about. A year later, I looked back at the now-full notebook and wondered, "Could someone else benefit from what's in here?" Then, I prayed. And then, I called my agent. A few years later, my book "Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain & Illness" was published and has been reaching readers like myself, patients of chronic pain & illness, ever since. Such a blessing!

Writing the devotional is a highly personal pursuit, fueled by insight and inspiration born from experience. Not all experience needs to be that of the writer, but ideally each devotion should be linked to a "ripped from real life" instance in someone's life. I liken writing a devotional to being a "spiritual reporter," combining life's events with the place God takes within it all.

As they are extensions of our faith, devotionals spring from Scriptural reflections. Reading Scripture regularly and listening to the passages resonate gives the right context for the meditations you craft for each topic. I also spent much time in an empty church, sitting quietly, reading passages, then sitting quietly again. The waters of the Word can refresh us whenever we partake of them, but they truly nourish us when we let them soak into us completely.

Devotional structure will be unique to each project, but ideally each project does have a structure, an arc, a way in which it builds and carries the reader through to greater insight, comfort, or encouragement. At the same time, devotionals are often read in pieces, and not linearly, so the author needs to keep this in mind (avoid referring to a previous devotion, for example).

Writing "Peace in the Storm…" was exhausting for me, but what motivated me to keep going was the thought of my audience. Each day, I prayed for and thought of someone who would read what I was writing, someone who was suffering with or from the particular problem, or asking the particular question, that I addressed in the devotion I wrote that day. Keeping the reader close to mind and heart enables the words to flow as from a friend to a friend, a very effective and empathetic voice.

Blessings to you!

Maureen

www.maureenpratt.com

http://blog.beliefnet.com/gooddaysbaddays/

 

 

 

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