Never to Be Seen Again

by Kelly Wilson Mize

The triumphant music builds as a beautiful, wind-blown heroine confidently emerges from the shadows. Her gratified expression, bouncy hair, and bold steps (in slow motion), are evidence that she is finally free from what once sought to destroy her. The heart-wrenching nightmare is over; a glorious new day has begun…

Don’t you love a movie with a happy ending? It inspires us–making us believe, if only for a moment, that it is truly possible to arrive at a place where bad things can no longer touch us.

In Exodus, the Israelites had a moment of triumph far beyond any movie scene could depict.

After Pharaoh had finally freed the Israelites from centuries of slavery in Egypt (plot twist!), he changed his mind. God’s people were suddenly being pursued by more than 600 chariots! Things were looking pretty hopeless, and the people were incredibly discouraged. They cried out to Moses in desperation, concluding that even slavery had been better than the dire situation they found themselves in. But astonishingly, Moses responded with a welcome message from the Lord:

… Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. Exodus 14:13 NLT

The news was better than the Israelites could have ever imagined. The outlook quickly improved as God Himself provided a miraculous escape.  God parted the Red Sea, and the people were allowed to walk through on dry land while their Egyptian captors were crushed beneath the waves when they tried to follow.  The enemy was defeated. Those particular enemies of Israel, God promised, would never be seen again.

Thankfully, most of us will never be chased by a multitude of chariots (whew!), but there are definitely things in our lives that we would love to escape. 

Are you facing something that seems impossible? Something you’d like to be immediately delivered from? Maybe it’s a dreaded college class, the cruelty of a friend or family member, a job that induces anxiety, a dangerous addiction, or a devastating diagnosis. Most of us have something about which we want to cry out, “Please God, just make it go away.”?

God may not choose to take ‘it’ away like He did for the Israelites, but He is the only one who has the power to change a hopeless situation. Or sometimes even more miraculously, to change our perception of the things that torment us.

The point at which the Egyptians were drowned in the Red Sea would have made a great final scene for the Israelites. But their adventure was far from over. The Bible details further obstacles that would steal joy, crush hope, and cause the Israelites to doubt their faith at every turn. Even though there would ultimately be victory for their ancestors upon entering the Promised Land, the journey would not be free of struggle. 

Such is life. There will be moments and seasons of conquest, but in this world, we know trouble is inevitable. But like the Israelites, if we stand firm in God’s presence, we are protected. In a crazy, loud, chaotic world–we need only be still enough to hear His voice.

The ultimate victory scene is coming. Can you picture it? With the glorious soundtrack of collective worship accompanying her–the main character confidently strides through the radiance of heaven, smiling and free. Her face is lifted upward adoringly toward the One who has allowed her to overcome. She is amazed at what she has been brought through, and so grateful to her omnipotent Rescuer for the peace she now exudes. She knows that the struggle is now finally, truly behind her–never to be seen again. 

I don’t know about you, but I look forward to that happy ending with great hope and expectation. Because, the main character? Watch closely. She looks a whole lot like you and me. 

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

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About the author: Kelly Wilson Mize is a wife, mother of two young adults, and former educator with a master’s degree in education. In 20 years as a published author, she has composed numerous articles, interviews, curriculum projects, and devotions, and has contributed to eight traditionally published books. Credits include Lifeway, Bethany House, Guideposts, (in)courage, and others. Kelly’s first full-length publication, a picture book for all ages called The Beautiful Story Within Me is available now wherever books are sold!

Join the conversation: What do you think the ultimate victory will look like for you at the end? What will finally be conquered for good?

Is Your Phone Asking You, “What Doctor Are We Going to Now?”

by Kathy Collard Miller

I recently laughed at a meme on social media that said, “You know you’re old when you get in your car and your phone asks, ‘What doctor are we going to this time?’”

I relate to that more and more as I age. More sadly, another part of getting older is that I can’t remember what I studied and read, whether it’s a book, someone’s blog post, or worst of all,  the Bible.

My husband, Larry, and I were commiserating with each other the other day about this. We looked at the piles of books we’d read in preparation for writing our next book. Only knowing we had done lots of underlining gave us confidence we would be able to refer back to the important material we would be using.

We both wished we could apply every day the amazing truths we’ve read over the decades of following Christ. It is discouraging to think that we can’t remember everything we’ve ever taken in. But then I said to Larry, “Maybe we can think of it this way. We can’t remember what we had for dinner three years ago, but it nourished us at the time and became a part of us.”

It’s the same way with reading the Word of God or other worthwhile books—or the sermon we heard on Sunday. The Spirit of God applies it to our lives at that time and builds us up spiritually and mentally. We may not remember everything, but it has become a part of us.

Now, certainly, we should take the time and effort to memorize, recall and re-concentrate on important truths. We also need to respond in obedience to what we hear and read. Those are the elements for truth to be powerful in our lives. But don’t be discouraged if it seems you remember so little over a long period of time. The Spirit of God is faithful to apply it all for the edifying of our spirits. We may not even remember what work He did, but He has. And He promises to bring to our remembrance what we need to apply and share with others.

Hebrews 4:12 assures us, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (NASB).

If we’ve cooperated with the Spirit by responding to what we read and heard, the heart surgery has already occurred. We have been changed, and as we continue to seek and grow, the results will be revealed. 

Even when we don’t remember everything!

This article brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Kathy Collard Miller is an international speaker and author of more than 60 books including Heart of Courage: The Daughters of the King Bible Study Series. This study includes ten lessons on the topics of having more courage to represent God, serve, overcome discouragement, within the family, in church, standing against popular opinion, standing against evil, at work, facing temptation and how Jesus inspires us to be more courageous. It includes questions to answer, commentary, and an emphasis on studying biblical women. It’s perfect for individual or group study.

Join the conversation: How are you encouraged or comforted even when you can’t remember everything you’ve studied?

Light Pollution

by Julie Zine Coleman

Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This happened so that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled:

The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—

‘The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light,
And those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, Upon them a Light dawned.”
Matthew 3:12-16 NASB

When Steve and I were dating, one of our favorite things to do was go for a drive in Maryland’s Calvert County to watch the night sky. It was truly dark there—unable-to-see-your-hand-in- front-of-your-face kind of dark. In the middle of a mostly farmed area, no light pollution from cities invaded our view. The Milky Way and many planets from our solar system were easily seen. Together we learned the winter constellations. We spent hours watching meteors streak across the sky. It was awesome.

In the dark, any spark of light will be noticed. Perhaps that is why Jesus chose to begin His ministry in the region of Galilee. He came as the Light of the World to people walking in darkness.

That northern region was despised by the pure-blooded and educated Jews of Jerusalem and Judea. They hated the Galileans’ accent and lack of religious adherence.

In the south, the religious leaders in Jerusalem and Judea had vigorously taught the Mosaic and Oral Law. Many were convinced that in obeying the Law, they would be OK with God. But that kind of self-sufficiency would ultimately keep them from recognizing their very real inadequacy and need.

Paul tells us “Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though they could by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone…” (Romans 9: 31-32 NASB). All that religion and law-keeping had only inoculated them.

It was a situation similar to light pollution from a city—keeping us from seeing much of a night sky’s offerings.

In contrast, Galilee was in the dark, still searching for what Jesus had come to offer. So they came to Him in droves, ready to listen to what He had to say, open to regarding Him as the promised Messiah.

That can be a lesson to us. The more we inoculate ourselves with rule-following and judging those who do not follow our personal moral code, the better we think ourselves to be. We lose the understanding that Jesus has already done it all—and we wear His righteousness, not our own. Nothing we have done could earn any favor with God. Grace is undeserved favor. There is only level ground at the cross. No idea of self-sufficiency can survive in light of those truths.

Keeping our focus on Jesus and what He has done for us will keep us clinging to Him, knowing how our dependence on God will continue for the rest of our lives. And it will keep our hearts sensitive to His light, leading, and purposes.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).


About the authorJulie Zine Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or crafting. More on Julie can be found at her new website and Facebook.

Many Christian women are torn between the church’s traditional teachings on gender roles and the liberty they experience in secular society. But what if the church’s conventional interpretations aren’t really biblical at all? Julie’s new book, On Purpose, is a careful study of the passages in the Bible often interpreted to limit women in the church, at home, or in the workplace. Each chapter reveals timeless biblical principles that actually teach freedom, not limitation. On Purpose was awarded the Golden Scrolls 2022 Book of the Year. 

Join the conversation: Can you think of something in your life that could deaden your response to the grace of God?

Use the Tool in Your Hand

by Stacy Sanchez

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. 2 Chronicles 15:7 (NIV)

Did this winter seem to be more severe this year? At least in the southwest, it felt like Mother Nature was a little grumpy this season. One of the mountains near me got hit by ten feet of snow in one day. I even saw snow on the sands of Huntington Beach in Southern California. As a child, I grew up building sandcastles on that beach. Now, kids are building snowmen?

I live in Arizona. Our winters are absolutely beautiful. (You can feel sorry for me in the summer when it’s 115 degrees.) As much of the country was shoveling piles of snow out of their yards, we were digging in ours to plant and prune.

On one of our gorgeous, 70-degree, sunny, January days, (OK, I’ll stop rubbing it in), I was trimming a bush. This bush was overgrown and tough to prune. Holding clippers in my right hand, I went in with my left to snap off the new limbs. But they were stubborn and wouldn’t budge. Frustrated, I growled, “Why can’t I pull these off?”

That’s when I heard in my spirit, “Use the tool in your other hand.” Duh! I felt like a prop in a Bill Engvall skit. Here’s your sign. Needless to say, the clippers made the pruning quite a bit easier, and I won the battle of the buds.

Why do we (I) make life harder than it needs to be? As a pastor and group leader, I hear the cries of people in desperate situations wanting to hear from God. We pray, read his word, go to Bible study, serve others, and tell people about him like we are supposed to, but nothing seems to help. We still can’t hear him. It’s as if our prayers are hitting the ceiling.

Didn’t God promise that if we seek him with our whole heart, we will find him?

“Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake youbut as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” And when Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and removed the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had taken in the mountains of Ephraim; and he restored the altar of the LORD that was before the vestibule of the LORD.  2 Chronicles 15:1,7-9 (NIV)

God wanted King Asa to know the importance of abiding in him. The prophet told King Asa that if he sought God, he would find him, but if he forsook God, God would forsake Asa. In other words, God would give Asa exactly what he wanted.

King Asa took the prophet’s counsel seriously. He tore down every idol built to other gods throughout the land and restored the altar of the LORD. God will grant what our hearts want, too. Could it be, though, that we might want God, but only on our terms?

In seeking Him, we need to keep our hearts open to what He has in mind. Our relationship with Him must be built on trust. Trust that He knows the right way and the right time. As He reveals Himself, things may look very different than what we had in mind. We may need to remove things that pull us away from Him. Allow Him to move in you as He desires.

Father, please reveal the idols in our lives that separate us from you. You’ve given us the tools we need to cut them out of our lives. If we don’t hear from you as we think we should, we want to be open to hearing from you in a brand-new way. Speak, Lord, for we are listening. Amen.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

stacy sanchez

About the author: Stacy Sanchez has been married to her beloved husband, John, for 32 years, is a mother of 5, and a very young grandmother of six (soon to be seven) yummy grandcherubs. She is a pastor, author, and speaker. Her passions include teaching Christians about the Jewish roots of their faith, as well as helping to empower women to become all that God has created them to be. When not teaching or writing, you will find Stacy and John walking on the beach and playing with their grandchildren. You can connect with Stacy at her blog,, and on Facebook and Instagram.

Join the conversation: Is God waiting on you to tear down an idol?

Unending Goodness–Even on the Hard Days

by Tama Fortner

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV

Yesterday was a hard day.

Everything that could possibly go wrong did go wrong. Or at least it certainly felt that way. Perhaps worst of all, every bit of it was beyond my control. (Which I just love. Or not.) My troubles ranged from big ones (a loved one’s illness, a conflict brought to me by someone seeking counsel, and the consequences of another’s poor choices) to little ones (like getting clocked in the head with a box—twice!—as I tried to clean out a closet).

Did I mention it was a hard day?

After that second clocking with the box, I plopped down in the middle of the floor. Rubbing my aching head, I poured out all my woes to God, along with a few tears. And maybe I took a few minutes for a pity party. Then, because I told myself I couldn’t sit on the floor all day, I got up and did my best to leave all those troubles with Him.

Because I was still feeling a little lonely and in need of comfort, I pulled myself together and headed out to treat myself to my favorite Chinese restaurant. The precious ladies there don’t know my name, but they know my face and my order, and they have christened me “Sweetie,” which works for me. They tend to make a bit of a fuss over me. The warm food and warm hearts were much-needed pampering for both body and soul.

Lunch was followed by a trip to the bookstore—more for research than for fun. As I walked the aisles, a flurry of texts pinged my phone, along with some emails, all related to the day’s earlier struggles. I fielded each with my own little flurry of prayers and flying fingers.

But as I drove home, I suddenly realized that with those texts and emails God had—one by one—taken care of those concerns I had laid at His feet. The illness had taken a turn for better. The conflict was resolved in a way that could only have been by divine intervention. (The Lord even threw in a surprise, just-to-say-hi call from my college kiddo.) And though the consequences of another’s poor decisions still lingered, God flooded my thoughts with reminders that He is still at work, and He does not give up on those He loves—which, thankfully, is all of us.

Driving home in the darkness, I was overwhelmed by the goodness of God. He had heard my cries. I found myself smiling and laughing out loud as I said over and over again, “Thank You, Lord! Thank You, Lord!”

Are all prayers answered so quickly and so vividly? No. We know they aren’t, don’t we? But, as His children, we also can know that we are always and unendingly surrounded by the goodness of God. He pours it out in His promises to listen to our cries and even our pity parties (Psalm 145:18), to answer in His own perfect time and way (Jeremiah 29:12–13), to love us through our troubles (Psalm 3:1–4), and to fill us with the strength to keep doing what needs to be done (2 Thessalonians 2:16–17).

Yes, God is good, and His goodness is unending. Even—and perhaps especially—on the hard days.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (ASWA).

About the author: Tama Fortner is an ECPA award-winning and bestselling author with more than fifty titles to her credit, including her latest God, I Feel Sad: Bringing Big Emotions to a Bigger God, written with co-author and licensed counselor Michelle Nietert. To learn more, visit

Join the conversation: How has God answered your prayers lately?

Nothing Can Separate

by Shirley Mozena

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39 NIV

“I’m sorry to tell you, your baby is dead,” the obstetrician told me.

I could scarcely take it in. My baby? The baby that moved and nearly leapt out of my womb? Who regularly hiccupped? The little one I hoped was a girl? The doctor went on to tell me they would send me home and wait for my labor to start.

I didn’t want to go home to the little nursery I had prepared for this third baby. I had two children. One who was ten, the other three. This was our bonus baby. Tears began to flow and wouldn’t stop. They continued for hours.

I had been a Christian for quite a few years, but it had been in the past three years that I had really learned who Jesus was to me. I sensed his presence. I wanted to be a more patient wife and mother and the Holy Spirit was helping me. I read my Bible daily, and it opened up in fresh new ways.

After this dreadful news, my only option was to rest in his love for me.

I had a C-section a few days later, and after surgery, the nurse took me up to my room. She gave me a card; in it, she quoted the above verse and told me she was praying for me. I won’t forget the kindness of that nurse and how her words helped me turn to the One who loved me so much.

The first Sunday I attended church after losing the baby, the pastor spoke on those same verses in Romans 8. Hearing them once again, I am convinced that neither death nor life…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord, confirmed what I knew in my head and now in my heart. God loved me. He cared about my pain in the loss of this child. And in my pain, there was the assurance in my soul that I was not alone.

I mourned the loss of the child who died in my womb, but even now, after so many years have passed,  I am assured by the loving God who was there with me in that loss.

Perhaps you are mourning a death–or deaths–of loved ones. An illness that cannot be cured? Loss of livelihood? Loss of home? A marriage that is collapsing? I pray the verses above might remind and comfort you; because nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

Thank you Lord, that although I never got to meet my baby we named Carrie here on earth, I know I will meet her in heaven. Please give comfort to those who need your care. Thank you that we cannot be separated from your love.

About the author: Shirley Quiring Mozena is a retreat speaker and national speaker for Stonecroft Ministries; she has three-hundred plus followers who read her weekly blog on encouragement and hope. Shirley has a presence on FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Her website includes her blogs, and speaking schedule: She has published articles in the newspaper and Christian publications. She was awarded winner from Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) Cascade Awards for an unpublished article entitled, “Two Amazing Prayers.”

Shirley has authored three books: Second Chances At Life and Love, With Hope (Redemption Press, 2012), Beyond Second Chances: Heartbreak to Joy (Redemption Press, 2015), finalists in the OCW Cascade Awards.  With her husband Jim, have co-authored a book Second Chance at Love: Navigating the Path to Remarriage (Redemption Press, 2020), was a finalist in the 2021 Selah Awards.

She and her husband, Jim, facilitate GriefShare where they work with those grieving the loss of a loved one in death. They especially have compassion for those experiencing the death of a spouse.

Join the conversation: What are you mourning today?

Thick as Green Pea Soup

by Melissa Henderson

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. Genesis 1:11 NIV

Yellow jonquils open their blooms and reach for the sky. Purple crocuses seeking sunshine inch their way out of the soil. Bluebirds chirp and sing while finding seeds at the feeder that hangs from the crepe myrtle tree. Spring is arriving.

I love Spring. From beautiful flowers to singing birds to local plant stores offering an array of gardening equipment, I look forward to it every year. God provides the most glorious sights, sounds, and scents for us to absorb and enjoy.

Working the garden allows me to share time with God and thank Him for His gifts. Poking holes in the dirt with my finger and dropping seeds begins the planting process. Covering the holes with more soil and sprinkling a bit of water will help the plants grow.

As I work in the garden, I think of the Lord God. “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden of the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8 NIV).

I don’t want to hide from the Lord. I listen for His messages in the gentle breeze and warm sunshine that open my heart to receive comfort and peace.

Jesus likened the work of a gardener to the Kingdom of God. “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how he himself does not know…” (Mark 4:26-27 NASB). We ‘plant’ the Word of God into our minds and others, but the transformation and growth are accomplished by the Holy Spirit—the agent of change.  

The work and effort that goes into growing beautiful flowers takes time. It is the same with our spiritual plantings. As with our fledgling little plants, we need to be patient. Much of His work goes on beneath the surface, so mostly cannot readily be seen, but we can trust Him to make everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

There is one thing that bothers me in the Spring. It’s the “thick as green pea soup” yellow and green pollen covering sidewalks, porches, roofs, vehicles, and porch furniture. The pollen causes me to have severe reactions. Although I may not be able to play in the great outdoors during the worst of the pollen invasion, I can cultivate my heart by spending time in God’s Word. Every time I read the Bible, there is something new to glean.

God created for six days and rested on the seventh day. I work in my flower garden and then rest. The call to rest after working reminds me to pause, reflect, refresh, and renew.

Thank You, God for the lessons there are in my gardening. Thank you for the times I sit with You and rest. Thank you for your faithfulness in transforming me. Amen.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Award-winning author Melissa Henderson writes inspirational messages sometimes laced with a bit of humor. With articles, devotions, and stories online and in print publications, Melissa hopes to encourage readers. Melissa is the author of Licky the Lizard and Grumpy the Gator. Her passions are in helping the community and church. Melissa is an Elder, Deacon, and Stephen Minister. Follow Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and at

Join the conversation: Do you have a flower or vegetable garden? What do you enjoy most about working the soil?

The Day My World Tilted

by Paula Freeman

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. Psalm 86:11 NIV

I sat alone in the front seat of my car in the hospital parking lot a few days before my husband died. Outside my window on that September afternoon, tree branches swayed in sync as slivers of sunlight twinkled between their leaves. Cloudless skies and warm weather mocked the storm brewing within me. They reminded me of life outside my reach, as I poured out my heart to God—fear of not being able to survive the foreseeable grief, frustration with unanswered prayers during Ray’s illness, and anxiety about the state of my relationship with Him on the brink of Ray’s death.

I wanted to rely on God’s faithfulness. But I didn’t believe He would be enough. Time was running out. I had to know if I could trust God in the dark places to come.

When I ran out of words, I waited. Then this verse came to mind: “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11 NIV). I had memorized that verse a few weeks earlier. As I recalled it, right then my world tilted just enough.

I grabbed hold of those words as if they were a lifeline, and their meaning led me here: God is faithful to His way—not mine. This gentle, gracious answer, spoken into my deepest need, pointed to the certainty of God’s faithfulness. I would find it within my surrender.

Like Jesus in the garden the night he was betrayed, I thought. Knowing what was to come the following day, Jesus went with his disciples to Gethsemane. “Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell on his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26:38-39 NIV).

Jesus knew His story would take Him to the cross. Alone. Yet, after praying that ‘this cup be taken from Me’ He surrendered His will to the Father and endured the cross for the joy set before Him; He saw life on the other side of pain.

I’d prayed for many ‘cups’ to be taken from me since we received Ray’s terminal diagnosis. Begged actually, for both of us. God invites us to be vulnerable and honest and to cast our burdens on Him. But I had gotten stuck in begging for my way. When my torrential words ran dry that afternoon, lifeless and spent at the foot of the cross, I finally understood. And I surrendered. Not my will but yours be done.

I discovered God’s enough-ness in letting go of what He was allowing to be taken away.

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness. The words that tilted my world aligned my perspective with God’s and allowed me to experience His faithfulness within the unfolding of Ray’s death. They sustained me in the unscripted days, weeks, and months that followed. And they anchor me still.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Paula Freeman is a part-time author and a full-time follower of Jesus. She’s the founder and former executive director of Hope’s Promise, a Colorado licensed adoption agency and orphan care ministry, and author of A Place I Didn’t Belong: Hope for Adoptive Moms. Her newest book, Learning to Be Me Without You: A Story of Love, Loss, and Coming Home, is for widows and others who grieve. Widowed with seven grown children, four by birth and three by adoption, she lives in Kansas City . . . but gets to the beach as often as she can. Visit her at

Join the conversation: Have you ever grieved to the point of doubting God’s faithfulness? How did He prove Himself to you at that time?

Are You Hindering Comfort Instead of Pain?

by Debbie Wilson

I looked down at my burning shins and gasped. Dozens of wasps clung to my legs. Am I going to die? The dead shrub I’d absently yanked up had unearthed a nest of angry yellow jackets.

A trip to the emergency room and days of pain left me reluctant to garden in shorts and a T-shirt anymore. A ski mask and thick layers seemed safer, but our Southern heat and humidity quickly nixed that idea.

It’s natural to want to avoid pain—both physical and emotional pain.

When I started walking with Christ, I thought mature faith insulated a believer from emotional pain. Any hurts, insults, and disappointments would slide off a faith-filled person like pancakes from Teflon. I’ve learned differently.

While God provides spiritual armor, the idea that Christians don’t feel pain isn’t biblical—or desirable.

I lost my mother to cancer when I was in high school. Our family put on a strong face during her long illness. We pretended she would get better, and we never talked about death. Years later, I realized how lonely that must have been for Mama. And instead of shielding us, our layers of denial only added regret to our inevitable sorrow.

When Daddy was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I prayed we would handle his illness better. We needed to be honest about our grief and to express our love and sadness over our pending loss.

On his deathbed, Daddy spoke of his imminent death. We said our good-byes, affirmed our love with each other, and talked about the promised reunion awaiting us with our loved ones in heaven. We named different people we looked forward to seeing again. We laughed through our tears as we anticipated what we hoped to do in heaven.

That vulnerable exchange of grief and hope was one of the sweetest times in my life. And though I still grieved losing my daddy, that time of sharing sweetened the bitterness of my loss.

A man whose child was hospitalized with leukemia once spoke to our church. He boasted that the medical staff had expressed concern for his lack of grief, but his faith made him impervious to pain. Though denial is a normal part of grief, I thought how lonely this stoic man’s wife and family must feel in the sorrow of his daughter’s suffering.

The Apostle Paul didn’t wear a faith mask. Instead, his faith gave him the courage to open his heart and receive God’s comfort. His experience qualified him to speak about “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3 NASB). (He cataloged some of his sufferings in 2 Cor. 11 and 12.)

Paul spoke about the great pressure he and Timothy had faced in Asia, saying, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced …. we despaired of life itself” (2 Cor. 1:8 NIV).

Not everyone can handle our pain. But being honest with God, ourselves, and some trusted friends will provide comfort and healing. And this is a lot healthier than suffocating under layers of self-protection.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4 NIV

This article brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman with an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie writes and speaks to connect sojourners to the heart of Christ. She and her husband Larry founded Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit ministry offering life and relationship counseling and Bible studies. Despite time in Boston, the Midwest, and Southern California, she still says y’all. Her family, which includes two mischievous standard poodles, calls North Carolina home. Find free resources to refresh your faith and connect with Debbie at

Join the conversation: Is there a grief or a pending loss that you’ve avoided facing?

Too Many Decisions?

by Nancy Kay Grace

Have you ever wondered how many choices we make in a day?

Reports show that an adult makes up to 35,000 decisions daily, ranging from simple to complex. Everyday options include what to wear and eat, where to drive and what lane to be in, and how to communicate (by text, email, phone, or face-to-face). We choose thousands of preferences throughout the day without even realizing it.

Simple choices have become complex. For instance, coffee used to have two options—regular or decaf. Now the increasing menu at fast-food restaurants make ordering a simple cup of coffee an involved thinking process. And then there’s the coffee specialty shops where you need a degree in coffee beans to figure out what you want, and a foreign language to request the size of the cup.

On top of the myriad of minor choices, life-changing decisions take more time and consideration—where to live, what career to pursue, the person we marry, and financial management.

The barrage of choices leads to decision fatigue: mental exhaustion from having to make too many decisions. I experienced this overwhelming feeling in the year my husband and I moved to a different state. Our relocation decision was made early in the year. Closing out our household in one state and moving hundreds of miles away took months of planning. By the time we settled into the new city, I wondered if I could even order a cup of coffee without hyperventilating! I felt swamped from all choices of sorting, packing, and unpacking. The decisions kept coming—choosing internet, phone, and trash services. I desired to pause, close my eyes, and instantly have it all taken care of.

Decision fatigue will wear us down if we try to manage it on our own. But instead of fretting, we can turn to the Lord as our wonderful counselor. God promises guidance when we seek Him.

Isaiah 55:6 NIV gives us this confidence: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.”

The foundation for godly life decisions is found in seeking the Lord for his wisdom. Seeking means “to inquire or consult.” This is done through prayer, reading the Word, waiting, and listening to God. We can also ask trusted friends for their insight. As we wait, we can lay down our agenda, trust that God’s plan is best, and breathe in His peace.

Simple decisions are made by our personal preferences. Some come and go in a blink.

Not every decision has lifelong impact. Major decisions require us to ask God for wisdom and guidance. It’s best to pause and seek God, especially when bombarded with decisions.

Through seeking Him each day, we will defeat decision drudgery. God will guide us in our daily choices as well as the life-changing ones.

This article brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Nancy Kay Grace is the speaker and award-winning author of The Grace Impact, a devotional about God’s grace. Her website, blog, and GraceNotes newsletter sign-up are found at As a cancer survivor, she writes about hope, perseverance, and God’s grace. Nancy enjoys hugs from grandchildren, playing worship songs on piano, hiking, and travel.

Join the conversation: In what recent decisions have you asked God for guidance? Did He give it to you? Please share!