Categories
Encouragement

With Thanksgiving

 

Anxiety is running high these days—riots in the streets, political confusion, and a silent virus  infecting the world. It’s enough to make anyone lose sleep. But Jesus reminds us to cast all our cares on him (1 Peter 5:7). He also invites us to ask for anything in His name (John 14:14), and He will grant it.

In a world that seems hopeless, Jesus is our hope. In a world that seems helpless, He is our helper. In a world of anxiety, He is our peace.

As I’m reading Bible verses and devotions to help me listen to God, I have been coming across many verses on thanking God. Thanking Him in all circumstances. Thanking Him in the midst of trials. And thanking Him as I bring my prayers and requests to Him.

I’m pretty faithful in bringing my “to-do” list to God. I’m never shy about asking God for what I need. But I am learning to add thanksgiving to those prayers. When I tell God what I need, or ask Him to resolve pressing issues, I add, “Thank You that You hear me. Thank You that You will answer. Thank You that Your timing is always right.”

Does this mean my prayers will be answered faster? No. It means that when I pray with thanksgiving, God replaces my anxiety with peace.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV).

Crystal Bowman
Crystal Bowman
Mothers in Waiting by Crystal Bowman
Mothers in Waiting by Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books for children and adults. She is a lyricist for children’s piano music, contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine, and presenter at writers’ conferences. Her newest book is releasing soon, I Love You to the Stars—When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembers.

 

Categories
Encouragement

Living in Joy Is a Choice

Dianne Barker, Topics: Marriage * Parenting * Living in joy *
Dianne Barker

I was just eighteen when I landed my dream job writing for our local newspaper during college. After graduation I joined the full-time staff, covering news stories and writing special features and a weekly column where I shared my Christian convictions. This brought invitations to speak for church and civic events.

What wisdom did a twenty-something have to share? My favorite presentation, “Living in Joy,” I packed with quotes and Scriptures about happiness and how to find it. Being young and eager to tackle life’s big questions, I didn’t have much spiritual depth—but I offered a solid solution to every problem. Jesus.

Many years have passed and I still offer only one solution to every problem. Jesus. But I’ve learned much more about following Him through sunshine and shadows.

I discovered joy isn’t the destination. It’s the journey. It’s part of the luscious fruit produced by the Holy Spirit when we’re fully surrendered to Christ: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Joy doesn’t depend on perfect circumstances. It depends on our trust in a perfect God who designs our circumstances and allows everything for a purpose. I don’t have to see His purpose to believe He has a purpose.

In baffling places where I see no purpose, this verse satisfies me. “For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised” (Hebrews 10:36 Amplified).

If nothing else, He’s developing patience and endurance. I can live in joy, confident He is in control and working on purpose.

These choices are key to a joy-filled journey:

  • Living in a state of continual forgiveness
  • Forgetting the past
  • Casting every care on the Lord
  • Choosing joy

Whatever challenge you’re facing today, don’t let it rob your joy. Choose joy!

I Don't Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! by Dianne Barker
I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! by Dianne Barker

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 a member of Christian Authors Network and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

Categories
Devotional Encouragement

Untethered

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Therefore, do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil (Romans 14:16).

Upon my recent retirement from a demanding leadership position, I found myself nearly paralyzed with fear. So many “I never thought I’d…” statements danced chaotically through my mind, robbing me of peace.

Unbidden, my long-since-settled divorce reared its ugly head, reminding me of all of the losses I’ve incurred. My ideal picture of retirement had always included a husband, a family, and grandbabies. The real picture of my solitary leap into the golden years stood in sharp contrast before me, filling me with dread.

One of the first metaphors to come into my mind during my transition process was a great ship, cast about by wild waves, untethered, silhouetted by a full moon hanging low over dark waters.

Feelings of terror accompanied this picture. I had to nearly tie myself down to stop from soothing those unsettling feelings by jumping back into overworking—my life-long drug of choice.

Knowing myself well, I resisted temptation to continue my Type-A ways in my new world. I gave myself the gift of saying “no.” And I gave myself the gift of unscheduled time alone. Allowing time to grieve the changes in my life—and the loss of yet another dream—released the anxiety of uncertainty. A quiet peace took its place.

From this place of peace, the sound of His voice rang true. Child, what brings you joy?

His voice led me back to my first loves—nature, horses, writing, loved-ones around my table sharing great food and better conversation.

The untethered metaphor still rings true—though the feelings evoked today are of excitement and unbridled joy for a new adventure yet unfolding.

Catherine Finger
Catherine Finger
Anchored in Death

Catherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Recently retired from a wonderful career in public education, she celebrates the ability to choose how to spend her time in a new way during the second half of life. So far, she chooses to write books, ride horses, serve others, and generally find her way into and out of trouble both on the road and at home.  She lives in the Midwest with a warm and wonderful combination of family and friends. Capsized by Death, the fourth novel in her Jo Oliver Thriller series, releases November 2019. Anchored by Death, third in the series, was a Bronze Medal winner 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards; a 2018 Selah Awards finalist; and a finalist for the National Indie Excellence Awards. Her second Jo Oliver Thriller, Shattered by Death, was a finalist in the International Book Awards and the National Indie Excellence Awards. Interact with Catherine www.CatherineFinger.com. Follow on Facebook at Catherine Finger, Author; and Twitter CatherineFinger@BeJoOliver.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Devotional Encouragement

Portable Edens

In Bible study on the Book of Exodus, our lecturer said the Ark of the Covenant was a “portable Eden.” It was a gold box God told the Hebrews to create so He could once again dwell among His nomadic people on earth and be in covenant with them as they traveled.

Once the temple in Jerusalem was built, God then dwelled there, in the midst of the land He’d promised them. It became “Eden.”

That talk sent a flutter through my chest. Why? Paul told the Corinthians that their bodies were the temple since the one in Jerusalem had been destroyed. It has never been rebuilt, by the way. Not that it needs to be because God now dwells in the hearts of believers.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? (1Corinthains 3:16).

That makes you and me portable Edens!

So, Eden is not a lost world. It still exists. The peace that passes all understanding still resides. Faith, trust, and compassion flourish. This wondrous place now travels with us wherever we go in this un-Eden-like world. It is our “go to” spot whenever we need it. Better than comfy pants or chocolate.

If this portable Eden is always with us, and thus God is, why are we not more serene and content?  Something to ponder. Also, if our hearts contain that marvelous, fruitful place called paradise, why do we try to bring the seeds of worry, strife, anger, and bitterness through the garden gate? Those need to stay outside. We don’t need to haul them inside to dwell where only God should.

Where can we find God today? He still dwells in Eden, a heartbeat away.

Photo credit: simon-wilkes-691856-unsplash (royalty-free photos)

Julie B Cosgrove
Julie B Cosgrove

Julie B. Cosgrove is a professional speaker, freelance writer, and award-winning author of twenty-one faith-based books. She is a digital missionary on staff at Power to Change (Campus Crusades Canada) assisting twenty-seven-plus volunteer writers from all over the world to produce free, daily devotionals as well as meaningful testimonies and articles. The two websites, The Life.com and Issues I Face, have yearly readership in the hundreds of thousands in five languages. Her blog Where Did You Find God Today? reaches readership in over fifty countries. Visit her website www.juliebcosgrove.com. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Authors Network, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, she’s an INSPY Award semi-finalist and a Grace Award Finalist. She was awarded Best Religious Fiction 2016 and Best Cozy Mystery 2017 by the Texas Association of Authors. Another cozy mystery, One Leaf Too Many is the ACFW Book Club book of the month for August 2019.

 

Categories
Devotional

Guard Our Emotions, Lord!

Several years ago, I was experiencing a season of hardships. The emotional pressure in my life had escalated – facing deadline upon deadline, bad medical news, grief over my father’s death, plus the daily stress of church leadership and family responsibilities. I sat in my doctor’s office in tears. All I wanted to do was escape, and drive to the beach to spend time with God. Only by talking to God, and having Him talk to me through the Word would salve this pain.

I knew that I would be okay if I could just get to the beach and let God’s love wash over me like the waves wash over the sand. So I drove home, told my husband I would be gone for a few hours, and I grabbed my Bible, journal, and a few devotional books. I rushed to the beach, anxious to spend time with God. I read, prayed, journaled, walked, listened – and read some more. Finally, both peace and a plan came.

Today, this is still my path to peace. The Psalmist agrees. “My soul finds rest in God alone!” Find a cozy place with God today, cuddle up with the Word, and let the peace of God wash over you. God’s peace is like the waves that wash over your toes planted in the sands, so faithful to come to shore, wave after wave, God’s peace will come to your heart, verse after verse, from His Word.

Pam Farrel is the bestselling author of 46 books including Discovering Hope in the Psalms, Becoming a Brave New Woman, and 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman. With her husband Bill, she runs Love-Wise and helps people with their most vital relationships, with God, in marriage and family, and friendships. Fin hope and help for your family at Living Love-Wise Community 

Categories
Encouragement

Strength for the Modern Victorian Woman

 Here’s what the Savior has to say to you today. “Beloved, come to me, you who work so hard that you’re weary. Your responsibility and needs wear you down. However, it doesn’t cost a single cent to gain a hearing with me. You can pour out your troubles to me anytime. Tell me of your fears and sadness. My love for you is free of charge, unconditional, and everlasting.”

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 50:1; Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 13:8

Thoughts of Monday morning carry with them negative connotations. Why? We know Monday is coming all weekend and yet we’re so bummed out when it actually arrives. Then we sluggishly move through the next four days, dreaming of Friday and the weekend when our time is our own to spend as we wish.

But, in actuality, Monday is no different from any other day of the week—at least it’s not to the Savior of the world.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It matters little to him that it’s Monday for us. And the great blessing comes when we invite the Lord to share our day, to walk with us, talk with us. He promises to be with us at home or at the office. We’re never alone.

And with Jesus strengthening us minute by minute, hour by hour, we’re sure to walk in confidence and peace—on Monday or whatever day of the week it happens to be.

(Excerpt from Strength for the Modern Victorian Woman, coming 2019, Steeple View Publishing, LLC.)

Love's Guiding Light
Love’s Guiding Light
Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar
Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar is a Wisconsin author of over 40 books with one million copies sold. The three components in all her stories are faith, family, and forever relationships. Her latest novel is Love’s Guiding Light (Steeple View Publishing). In addition to fiction, she blogs and writes devotionals and magazine articles to encourage readers wherever they are in their spiritual journeys. For more information and to sign up for her quarterly newsletter, go to www.andreaboeshaar.com. Facebook: www.facebook.com/Andrea.Boeshaar. Twitter: @AndreaBoeshaar.

 

 

Categories
Devotional

Sunday Reflection: The Kiss

One the wall of our bedroom is a beautiful portrait taken by a well known photographer.  The

The Kiss
Pam and Bill Farrel

photo is black and white then recolorized to highlight certain aspects of the portrait. The picture is of Bill and me. In the photo you can’t see our faces because I am wearing a hat, but you can tell, it was a kiss of love. How?

In the photo, I am standing on my tippie toes reaching up to give Bill a kiss. That peck was apparently was so amazing that it caused Bill to rock back on his heels. (I think this might be where the term, “head over heels in love” came from).  The look of our feet in this position of a public display of affection was the selling point, and this photo became the front cover of a Focus on the Family book on marriage.

When I had the photograph framed, this verse seemed so appropriate:

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.

(Ps 85:10 NIV).

The linking and balance of each couplet is what it takes to have long lasting love:

Love AND faithfulness:  The passion of love ignites the flame of intimacy but it is the commitment to faithfulness and fidelity that KEEPS passion alive year after year. Trust is built with a secure knowledge your mate is faithful!

Righteousness AND Peace: In marriage, it is important to do things RIGHT. Skills like communication, kindness, and servanthood are just a few of the building blocks for love.  Sometimes well meaning spouses fall into the no win trap of pointing out all the “improvements” the other can make in the relationship. It is easy for the other person to perceive this stance as he or she always needs to be “right”.  Pushing for what you think is right, is not always “right”.  That is where peace comes in.

Pam and Bill Farrel

Peacemaking and peacekeeping is the equalizer to pushing for the precise. Sometimes we each need to accommodate for the other to bring peace. Give grace over preferences and save your opinions for the things that truly reflect righteousness like keeping a promise, living with integrity, or committing to love your mate as God loves him or her.

Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti by Bill & Pam Farrel
Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti by Bill & Pam Farrel

Pam and Bill Farrel are international speakers, authors of 45 books including bestselling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti, and A Couples Journey with God devotional. Together they help people with their most vital relationship through their ministry Love-Wise,–the intersection where God’s wisdom and God’s love “kiss”.

Categories
Encouragement

Life’s Crazy Pace

 

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

I’m reevaluating the pace of my life, my priorities, and how I use my time. What’s really, really important? Yes, there are expectations, obligations, and demands that try to push and pull me in all kinds of directions, but what is an appropriately paced life?

While I know that my gifts will make space for me, there is a season for everything. Yet I also know that I need to manage that space. So what does that look like for me—and for you?

First, prayer, worship, and reading the Word needs to be the plumb line that will keep everything else in balance. When these get messed up, the pace of life simply gets out of whack. Right now, I need to adjust my schedule to allow more time for all three.

Second, I need to avoid unhealthy and unbalanced expectations. Moderation is key. I need to pace myself with work, play, relationships, exercise, and even my writing. I need to find the balance in all of it and reject the oppressive demands that weigh on me, whether that comes from inside myself or from others and remember that, ultimately, people and relationships are the most important.

Third, I need to preemptively replace guilt with peace. For me, this is the hardest of all. I’m a perfectionist and ultra responsible, so I feel the pressures of the “should dos” and “must dos” way too much. So I must choose to rest in Him and trust Him with my days, weeks, months, and year, even when they don’t turn out the way I wished they would.

Recently, on top of all the busyness, health issues, and family situations have pulled me away from my agenda, my to-do list, and my timelines. I have so much more that I’d like to do, see, and write than I can possibly get done. So I have to let some of them go and find peace and contentment with whatever the Lord allows.

And what about you? What advice to you have to create an appropriately paced life, find balance in this busy world, and enjoy the peace that comes with it?

Susan G. Mathis
Susan G. Mathis
Fabric of Hope by Susan G. Mathis
Fabric of Hope by Susan G. Mathis

About the author: Susan Mathis is the author of The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and four other books. She is vice-president of Christian Authors Network, founding editor of Thriving Family magazine, and former Editor of twelve Focus on the Family publications. She has written hundreds of articles and now serves as a writer, writing coach, and consultant. For more, visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

Categories
Encouragement

Clouds and Sunsets

I love the ever-changing colors and textures of a sunset. There’s something so peaceful about it, almost as if the day exhales its worry and stress in preparation for the night.

Maybe that’s why the best sunsets include clouds, those masses of water vapor we usually associate with storms. In fact, some of the most beautiful sunsets happen in the aftermath of a storm when the abundance of cloud surfaces all reflect the varying hues of light as the sun slips below the horizon.

Several decades have passed since I took my first airplane ride, but I still remember that day when dark clouds hung low and rain made everything especially dreary.

The difference when we burst through the cloud deck astounded me. Sunlight shining on brilliant white cotton-ball tops of the clouds took my breath away.

We landed again in that dismal rainy weather, but I felt like grabbing everyone I saw and encouraging them to believe there was incredible beauty right above us on the other side of those clouds.

Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that in me, you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

If life’s clouds have got you down, trust there’s amazing beauty on the other side, and prepare for an awesome Son-set once the storm passes.

Mary L. Hamilton, volunteers her time to help others through the Christian Authors Network as the Christian Contest Coordinator.
Mary L. Hamilton

Mary L. Hamilton is the author of the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series for middle grades and Pendant, a cozy suspense novel, under the name M. L. Hamilton. When not writing, she enjoys photographing sunsets like the one above. She and her husband live in Texas.

www.maryhamiltonbooks.com

www.facebook.com/maryhamiltonbooks

www.instagram.com/mlhamiltonauthor

 

Categories
Devotional Inspiration for Writers

Tips to live a satisfied life

Janet Perez Eckles
Janet Perez Eckles

Hola from Janet Perez Eckles…Igniting Your Passion to Overcome

God doesn’t promise a day without problems, or moments without trials, but aligned with Him,  He promises a satisfied soul.

Two days ago, even my keyboard felt sticky. The air conditioner decided to stop working. And, in the Florida summer heat, my energy was melting into drops of worry. What if we need to repair the whole thing, what if there is no fix for days? How will this affect my parents who live with us and just reached their mid-80’s?